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Volunteering with Diaspora Lanka_____

Volunteering with Diaspora Lanka

Tract is pleased to announce the selection of three of its staff members, Saraid Mitten (Senior Town Planner), Rebecca Wardle (Town Planner) and Sue Ozanne (Landscape Architect) to undertake volunteer placements in Sri Lanka with Diaspora Lanka (a Sri Lankan not-for-profit organisation), with assistance from the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA).

Tract is supporting these staff members to spend a month with Diaspora Lanka and a group of Australian volunteers in the district of Mannar, northern Sri Lanka, preparing masterplans and undertaking stakeholder consultation for two revitalisation projects – the Mannar town foreshore and a significant 5 hectare wetland.

Mannar is one of five districts in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka that was severely affected by the 30 year civil war which ended in 2009. Revitalisation projects such as these are essential to the regeneration of Mannar and will set a precedent for similar projects across the country.

The key objectives of this volunteer work not only include delivering people-centred and future-oriented masterplans for the foreshore and wetland, but also engaging and empowering local community members and authorities through the process to conjure long-term, sustainable planning and design outcomes.
The group of volunteers is made up of eight young professionals who have been working with Diaspora Lanka in Melbourne since April 2013 to prepare for this overseas placement. The experienced Saraid and Sue will each lead a team of four volunteers, with Team 1 operating in October and Team 2 in November 2013. The team has been greatly assisted by PIA, Capire community engagement consultants and David Lock Associates, who are providing training workshops in Melbourne and in Mannar.

This is the first time a group of volunteers has been engaged by Diaspora Lanka to undertake training and research in Melbourne and venture to Mannar for the consultation and implementation program. Diaspora Lanka is hoping to roll out this pioneering process for the delivery of future revitalisation projects in Sri Lanka.

The volunteers are donating their skills, time and resources for this significant opportunity to positively influence the quality of life for others and experience working as planners and landscape architects in a developing region.

We wish Saraid, Rebecca and Sue all the best in their endeavours and look forward to the project update when they return.
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