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Intro

The WA Cultural Infrastructure Framework 2030+ (Framework) recognises cultural infrastructure as a critical mechanism in achieving WA’s economic, health, education, environmental, social, and regional priorities and integral to delivering the objectives of the State Government’s Diversify WA – an economic development framework.

Our cultural infrastructure attracts cultural tourism, is a catalyst for urban renewal, and is a growth stimulator for the creative, knowledge and innovation economies, while providing opportunities to develop new national and international markets for WA. 

By 2030+ we want WA to be the most culturally engaged state in Australia—with cultural infrastructure that celebrates our rich cultural diversity and creative talent, the State recognised as a major hub for technical innovation and the creative industries, and WA is known as one of the most artistic and inspiring places in the world.

To achieve this, we must work together to grow the State’s cultural and creative economy and improve access to cultural and creative engagement for all Western Australians. 

We can do this by successfully prioritising the following five focus areas:

  • Focus Area 1: Maintain and celebrate WA’s Aboriginal art, culture and heritage 
  • Focus Area 2: Optimise existing cultural assets
  • Focus Area 3: Holistic cultural infrastructure planning
  • Focus Area 4: Incentivise private investment
  • Focus Area 5: Understand and measure the public value of cultural infrastructure.


What is ‘Cultural Infrastructure’?

Cultural infrastructure includes the buildings, places, spaces and technology necessary for arts and cultural education, creation, production, engagement, collaboration, ceremony, preservation, conservation, interpretation, sharing and distribution. 

Cultural infrastructure includes physical infrastructure like our performing arts centres, music venues, film and television studios, galleries, collections and digital technology. Integral to these spaces are  the staff, volunteers and digital networks required to operate them. 
 

Cultural infrastructure supports and grows WA’s creativity, tangible and intangible culture, and cultural heritage. While tangible culture could be a painting or performance, intangible culture could be a story, songline1,2 or practised tradition. ‘Intangible cultural heritage’ means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills … transmitted from generation to generation.3


This Framework highlights the key principles and changes needed to optimise WA’s cultural infrastructure investment and identifies opportunities and challenges to achieving the State Government’s priorities for job growth and economic diversification. It sets out a roadmap for holistic cultural infrastructure planning to obtain the best value-for-money cultural infrastructure investment in WA and includes case study examples of best practice from across the State, Australia and world-wide.

The focus areas and outcomes developed have been informed by: analysis of stakeholder consultations; global trends, best practice and sustainable development goals; local strategies and planning frameworks; and the State Government’s priorities. Infrastructure Australia’s  Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019— which includes arts, cultural and other social infrastructure for the first time—has also  been valuable to the development of this Framework. 

The consultation process included: interviews in the Kimberley, Mid-West, and Perth; workshops in the Pilbara and Perth; four live webinars; an online survey engaging stakeholders across the State; and written submissions. Overall, there were more than 480 key stakeholder engagements with the Framework development.

Alongside the Framework, the Western Australian (WA) Cultural Infrastructure Investment Guidelines (Investment Guidelines) has been developed. The Investment Guidelines establish principles for investment in cultural infrastructure in WA to realise government priority outcomes and promote strategic alignment. They can be employed as a tool for robust, evidence-based prioritisation of cultural infrastructure proposals. 

An interactive WA Cultural Infrastructure Map has also been developed to identify existing cultural infrastructure across the State and can be used to investigate future needs to support our growing population and industries.

These Framework documents will provide valuable information to identify the cultural infrastructure  needs and priorities to support WA’s growing population and economy and support the development  of Infrastructure WA’s first 20-year State Infrastructure Strategy.

Successful implementation of the Framework can only be achieved through collaboration and partnerships across all tiers of government, the cultural and creative sector, investors, developers, planners, architects and local communities (see Figure 1 below).

It is critical to the sustainability of the cultural and creative ecosystem in WA to acknowledge that not only are cultural buildings and spaces required, but staff to operate and maintain this infrastructure are vital. Cultural infrastructure, particularly in outer-metropolitan areas and regional WA where many cultural spaces are run by volunteers, requires investment in ensuring staff have the capacity and resources to deliver professional services and local experiences. 

Stakeholders Round Table Meeting

Effective cultural infrastructure connects physical assets, spaces and technology with people, enabling economic, creative, cultural and social opportunities to flourish.  It’s time for Western Australia to put creativity and culture at the heart of future planning, development, and investment, and the wellbeing of communities across the State.

Why do we need a Cultural Infrastructure Framework?

Cultural infrastructure is critical for increasing participation in the arts, culture and creative activity. 

Culture has been defined as “the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features  of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.” 4

Culture is central to our identity, social cohesion, and the development of a knowledge-based economy. Western Australians engage in cultural activities every day. Our rich and diverse cultures are our foundation and underlying fabric from which our WA stories are grown.

Cultural diversity is undoubtedly one of the State’s greatest strengths. It has contributed to our economic growth and enriched our society. Western Australians now come from more than 190 countries and speak approximately 240 languages.

Increased participation in arts, culture and creative activity has been found to improve children’s literacy  and increase participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

Increasing engagement in culture and creativity has also been found to reduce youth reoffending; promote community cohesion and social inclusion; improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal people;  attract tourists and retain talent; and grow automation-resistant jobs in regional cities.5

Efficient and effective planning and resourcing of cultural infrastructure will help develop opportunities  for artists, the creative industries, and contribute to the overall diversification of the economy in WA.

The arts, culture and creative industries diversify our economy and improve the liveability of Western Australia.  Cultural infrastructure is often not considered essential social infrastructure. The time to change this mindset is now.

Western Australia has some outstanding cultural infrastructure, with a proactive and innovative creative industry sector and local governments who are achieving successes despite these challenges.

We acknowledge the existing investment in cultural infrastructure for WA, but more is required to build a resilient cultural and creative ecosystem that can meet challenges and respond to crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining the status quo presents an uncertain future for our existing cultural infrastructure, the operational sustainability of WA’s arts, culture and creative industries, and our ability  to expand the creative economy.

We need to look at better ways of using resources and of working more effectively. A strategic,  holistic approach to infrastructure planning and investment will lead to greater efficiencies in capital  and operational expenditure for cultural infrastructure.
 

The better we are at meeting cultural infrastructure needs, the more room the arts, culture and creative industries have to flourish – which in turn, produces economic benefits and improves the liveability of communities in Western Australia.

How to use this Framework

This Framework introduces a suite of documents that form the Cultural Infrastructure Toolkit (Toolkit). These documents will be updated periodically, and available on the Department of Local Government,  Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) website. 

The Toolkit supporting this Framework includes the following:

More documents will be added over time to ensure the Toolkit is comprehensive and current.

Opportunities for WA 2020-2030+

Strategic investment in cultural infrastructure offers considerable opportunities for WA such as: 

  • Creating jobs: growing a creative workforce is essential to diversifying WA’s economy
  • Increasing regional prosperity and economic diversity: supporting and growing creative entrepreneurial businesses that can adapt to the changing nature of work and create new job opportunities
  • Maintaining and celebrating Aboriginal art, culture and heritage: growing Aboriginal creative industry and cultural tourism businesses; fostering cultural continuity, cultural security, cultural healing and contributing to the wellbeing of Aboriginal people; building more vibrant and inclusive communities
  • Supporting strong and resilient remote communities: celebrating culture supports community wellbeing and commercial growth opportunities for the self-determination and sustainability of remote communities
  • Strengthening our communities through our diversity: where and how people express their culture is central to strengthening our identity as Western Australians. Ensuring the inclusion, participation and celebration of culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) creative industries and communities will lead to positive outcomes for all Western Australians
  • Attracting and retaining talent and growing tourism: thriving cultural spaces allow local creative industries to flourish and attract creative talent and tourists to WA
  • Future proofing culture, creativity and the economy: within a decade Australia’s 4.6 million Generation Zs (born between the years 1995 and 2009) will comprise 12 per cent of the workforce and will be the first fully global generation, shaped by technology, digital hyper-connectivity, and engaged through social media, expecting immediate access of, and contribution to popular culture through iconic technology. 

For more detailed information about these opportunities, refer to the WA Cultural Infrastructure Framework 2030+.

What the Framework will achieve: outcomes

The following outcomes for this Framework build on the opportunities and meet the challenges highlighted during key stakeholder consultation and align directly with the WA Government’s  Diversify WA and other whole-of-government targets.

The successful implementation of the Framework will be recognised by the following outcomes:

  1. Aboriginal art, culture and heritage is strong, respected, maintained and celebrated contributing to higher levels of Aboriginal wellbeing and identity
  2. WA communities are empowered and engaged in cultural infrastructure provision and activation, to meet community needs, promote community cohesion, and grow our shared identity and pride in WA’s diverse cultures
  3. A stronger Western Australian economy: more job opportunities in creative, knowledge-based industries; economic diversification; greater economic stability, greater investment in the WA economy; and increased visitor spend in the State
  4. Vibrant liveable environments for locals and visitors. Sustainable, vibrant, attractive, liveable environments, and rich cultural experiences that are engaging, stimulating, educational and entertaining for locals and visitors
  5. Equitable accessibility and inclusivity: improved accessibility to, and equitable active participation in, creativity and culture, particularly for people of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage, young people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds, people living with a disability, people facing socio-economic disadvantage, and people living in outer-metropolitan, regional and remote WA
  6. A thriving, sustainable cultural and creative sector: a collaborative, thriving, inclusive, diverse, skilled, productive and sustainable arts, cultural and creative ecosystem
  7. A connected State: digitally and physically connected through innovation
  8. Creative workforce and culturally rich communities: critical skills for the future economy are developed through spaces that: engage young people in creative learning; promote inclusive pathways to creative industry employment for people from CaLD backgrounds, people living with disabilities, and others who are under-represented in the workforce; facilitate lifelong learning; increase opportunities for intergenerational transfer of Aboriginal culture, knowledge, science, language and heritage; and value our world leading artists from WA’s diverse and rich cultures
  9. Better spaces and places: design excellence in cultural infrastructure, cultural precincts, and creative clusters
  10. An efficient and effective approach to cultural infrastructure investment: a strategic, coordinated approach to cultural infrastructure investment that leads to more efficient capital and operational expenditure, and provides the best value for money.

These outcomes, and their corresponding challenges and benefits are explored further in Chapter 3 of the WA Cultural Infrastructure Investment Guidelines (Investment Guidelines). 

The Investment Guidelines align best practice cultural infrastructure planning principles to investment prioritisation. This enables government to go back to basics and identify the benefits it is trying to  achieve with any cultural infrastructure investment.

The Investment Guidelines also provide guiding principles for non-government led cultural infrastructure proposals, to promote strategic alignment across all cultural infrastructure investment. The outcomes identified here align directly with the ‘investment outcomes’ prioritised in the Investment Guidelines.

How we will do it: working together

The Framework enables a holistic and synergised approach for all stakeholders, including those from the State and Federal and local governments, the creative and cultural sector, the private sector and the community. Through this collaboration there will be greater private sector and community investment in cultural infrastructure, increased cross-government partnerships, improved sector and industry capacity building, and more effective coordination of precinct and land use planning.

Five focus areas have been prioritised to meet the outcomes, take advantage of the opportunities, and rise to the challenges identified.

  • Focus Area 1: Maintain and celebrate WA’s Aboriginal art, culture and heritage
  • Focus Area 2: Optimise existing cultural assets
  • Focus Area 3: Holistic cultural infrastructure planning
  • Focus Area 4: Incentivise private investment
  • Focus Area 5: Understand and measure the public value of cultural infrastructure.

The following sections outline each of these focus areas in detail, summarise the current situation for WA, identify existing challenges, specify opportunities to move forward, and highlight key benefits. 

Focus Area 1: Maintain and celebrate WA’s Aboriginal art, culture and heritage

Provide targeted investment to facilitate the effective maintenance and celebration of Aboriginal art, culture  and heritage.

Current Situation

Western Australia is home to exceptionally rich and diverse Aboriginal cultures and identities. The State represents the third highest in diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups across Australia. WA’s Aboriginal creatives work in all fields of the creative industries, producing contemporary and traditional art and culture experienced by local to international audiences. The Infrastructure Australia 2020 Infrastructure Priority List includes the priority initiative for a national program of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and cultural centres and galleries.

Opportunities to maintain and celebrate WA’s Aboriginal art, culture and heritage include:

  • Design and delivery of online portals for Aboriginal art sales and performing arts 
  • Planning for an Aboriginal Cultural Centre
  • Building the capacity of Aboriginal art fairs and markets, such as the Revealed: WA Aboriginal Art Market
  • Securing funding for Aboriginal Art Centres infrastructure upgrades to improve working conditions for WA’s acclaimed Aboriginal artists
  • Delivering funding for Aboriginal Business Development and Capacity Building
  • Promoting self-determination for Aboriginal communities to design, deliver and evaluate cultural infrastructure according to their needs
  • Identifying synergies between the objectives of Aboriginal Art Centres, Aboriginal Ranger Programs, and Aboriginal tourism operators
  • Incorporating Aboriginal art, culture, language and heritage in infrastructure design across WA
  • Engaging young Aboriginal people
  • Showcasing WA’s Aboriginal art, culture and heritage to the world, tourists and locals. 
Benefits 

Benefits to the effective maintenance and celebration of Aboriginal art, culture and heritage include:

  • Growing the capacities of Aboriginal artists, organisations and businesses nationally and internationally
  • Creating jobs for Aboriginal Western Australians, particularly in regional and remote WA
  • Maintaining and celebrating Aboriginal art, culture, heritage, language, science and knowledge for future generations.

Focus Area 2: Optimise existing cultural assets.

Planning and design for world-class cultural infrastructure, precincts and experiences.

Current Situation

WA’s key cultural infrastructure and precincts are in critical need of upgrade in order to make them the vibrant, dynamic spaces needed to showcase WA’s arts, culture and creativity, and celebrate our connection to the world. There is the opportunity to optimise WA’s existing cultural buildings and spaces so they are fit-for-purpose for the sector and community by undertaking maintenance, structural and compliance requirements, replacing out-dated equipment, and sustainability upgrades  to reduce operational costs.

Opportunities

Opportunities to optimise WA’s existing cultural assets include:

  • Activating key community cultural facilities across WA through targeted investments and initiatives
  • Upgrading and developing the Perth Concert Hall into a premier world-class music venue
  • Developing and implementing a Masterplan and vision for the Perth Cultural Centre precinct
  • Continuing the upgrades and restoration work at His Majesty’s Theatre
  • Introducing a single library card system across WA to improve access to the many critical services public libraries provide to communities
  • Identifying cultural buildings and precincts that require updating to meet community demand and encourage cultural and creative engagement
  • Planning WA’s future cultural infrastructure to meet current demand and forecast population growth.

The Framework presents an opportunity to be more effective and efficient with cultural investment by directing resources to growing, supporting and sustaining our creative and cultural ecosystem through contemporary, fit-for-purpose facilities.

Benefits

Benefits of optimising WA’s existing cultural assets include:

  • Improved public spaces, increasing community interaction
  • Improved liveability of communities for both locals and tourists
  • World-class and fit-for-purpose cultural infrastructure maximising participation in arts and culture
  • Enhanced cultural identity
  • Diverse economies with improved local prosperity and employment opportunities in the creative, innovation, hospitality, entertainment and tourism sectors.

Focus Area 3: Holistic cultural infrastructure planning

Work across State Government and partner with local governments to incorporate cultural infrastructure planning frameworks.

Current Situation

Only cultural infrastructure that is planned holistically across the State Government and local governments can meet community needs and government objectives. This Framework is about WA recognising cultural infrastructure as critical social infrastructure and utilising it to maximise social and economic outcomes.

Opportunities

Opportunities to establish holistic cultural infrastructure planning in WA include encouraging:

  • A cross-government approach to cultural infrastructure planning and delivery
  • Collaboration across the State Government, and between local governments and the State Government.
  • Establishing and expanding university campuses in the Perth CBD—including the world class Western Australian Academy of Performing Artsworking collaboratively to optimise infrastructure activation, promote innovation, skills and economic development, and increase community engagement
  • Integrating cultural infrastructure planning within land use and precinct planning
  • Establishing cross-government partnerships to embed cultural infrastructure in other infrastructure projects
  • Creating an interactive WA Cultural Infrastructure Map identifying existing cultural spaces
  • Co-design and collaboration with CaLD communities in cultural infrastructure planning
  • Prioritising universal access to maximise accessibility for people living with disabilities
  • Improving physical access to cultural infrastructure for people living in outer-metropolitan and regional areas, and digital access to art, culture and creativity for communities across WA
  • Establishing a Cultural Accord between State Government and local government to encourage holistic cultural infrastructure planning, and the development of local government cultural plans
  • Encourage new investment opportunities to build the capacity for State Government, local governments and communities to partner in the delivery of cultural infrastructure. 

Infrastructure Australia has established that well-integrated arts and cultural infrastructure can enhance the value of other types of infrastructure, such as public transport or sport and recreation infrastructure.6

Aligning policy opportunities for a whole-of-government approach will aid the delivery of successful cultural infrastructure through regulatory and policy settings that promote industry development, investment attraction, and facilitate cultural land use.

Master planning of major facilities and cultural precincts, including integrated cultural and sporting precincts, provide exceptional opportunities to promote activation and grow day and night-time economies in activity centres across towns, suburbs and cities.

Benefits

Benefits of implementing holistic cultural infrastructure planning across WA include:

  • Effective and efficient use of government funds and value for money investment
  • Strategic alignment across government, and between local governments and the State Government
  • Improved accessibility to arts, culture and creativity for all Western Australians
  • Increased opportunities for co-location and shared resources, where applicable
  • Culturally vibrant spaces that foster collaboration, connection and innovation, promote social inclusion, celebrate cultural diversity and promote economic resilience.

Focus Area 4: Incentivise private investment

Leverage and attract greater private investment to improve Western Australia’s cultural infrastructure.

Current Situation

Access to suitable finance and investment is one of the key barriers to the successful delivery and activation of cultural infrastructure in WA.

State and local governments and communities are also facing similar maintenance and operational costs that limit capacity building and provision of cultural services. There have been limited opportunities to encourage investment in WA’s cultural infrastructure from the private sector.  Focus Area 4 is about making this change.

Opportunities

Opportunities to promote private investment in partnership with government in cultural infrastructure include:

  • Developing initiatives to encourage investment in cultural infrastructure from a range of sources
  • Collaborating with Development WA to identify strategic opportunities for creative industry, innovation and technology precincts at land release
  • Utilising mechanisms like bonus plot ratios and infrastructure contributions—that allocate a proportion of private infrastructure investment toward community benefit—for the development of creative hubs and other cultural infrastructure
  • Growing cross-government and local government collaboration to deliver strategic regulatory and planning reform to maximise private investment and grow the capacities of commercial creative industries.

There are opportunities to work innovatively with the private sector to incorporate cultural infrastructure into private development or explore private development of infrastructure in government owned buildings and on government owned land. Market-led Proposals, Infrastructure Contributions, Public Private Partnerships, and land release provide further opportunities for private investment.

Benefits
Leveraging private investment to meet priority needs would greater support the capacity, growth 

and sustainability of the art, culture and creative sectors.

Focus Area 5: Understand and measure the public value of cultural infrastructure

Optimise the Public Value Measurement Framework to measure a broader range of impacts of cultural infrastructure, including economic, social and cultural benefits.

Current Situation

The value of arts and culture to society, and how to measure this value, has been the subject of intense debate for many years both in Australia and overseas. Since 2010, through its Public Value Measurement Framework (PVMF), DLGSC has undertaken a comprehensive process of investigating and measuring the public value it creates through policy and funding programs. The public value incorporates the cultural, social and economic benefits to the WA community.

Opportunities

Opportunities to better understand and measure the public value of cultural infrastructure include:

  • Improving measurement of the full value of cultural infrastructure initiatives in a way consistent with evaluations accepted by government
  • Acknowledging and promoting the social value of cultural infrastructure
  • Developing improved processes to capture the non-market benefits of cultural infrastructure in a way that takes into account the range of values it offers to both ‘users’ and the public as a whole
  • Developing a model to quantify measurable social outcomes of arts, cultural and creative activities in impact areas such as health, education, and social capital through the PVMF
  • Collaborating with researchers and organisations investigating how best to measure the value of the maintenance of culture, language and heritage, particularly for Aboriginal Western Australians
  • Quantifying and communicating the economic, social and cultural benefits of cultural infrastructure for the general public.

The establishment of Infrastructure WA has highlighted the need for a strategic, holistic approach to infrastructure planning, including planning for investment in cultural infrastructure. In Australia, both Infrastructure New South Wales and Infrastructure Victoria have recommended a cultural infrastructure investment prioritisation framework be employed to deliver the greatest value for money and return on government investment.7, 8

  • The adoption of WA Cultural Infrastructure Investment Guidelines (Investment Guidelines) will align best practice cultural infrastructure planning principles to investment prioritisation in WA. The Investment Guidelines have been designed to align with DLGSC’s PVMF to ensure economic, social and cultural outcomes are maximised.
Benefits

Benefits of optimising the PVMF to measure a broader range of cultural infrastructure impacts include:

  • Quantifying the total economic value of a broad range and scale of cultural infrastructure, including digital/soft infrastructure and maintenance of intangible cultural heritage to improve the ability to create competitive business cases for cultural infrastructure investment
  • Maximising community impact and attaining value for money for government investment in cultural infrastructure.

Evaluation of this Framework

The WA Cultural Infrastructure Framework 2030+ and WA Cultural Infrastructure Investment Guidelines will be evaluated regularly to test their effectiveness and revisited annually to ensure they align with government priorities, Infrastructure WA’s State Infrastructure Strategy and identified community needs.


Endnotes

1 Songlines have been described as “the tracks of the ancestral beings of the … Aboriginal creation law, recounted in song and story.” James, D (2013). Connecting Cultures and Continents: the Heritage of Routes and Journeys, Signposted by Song: cultural routes of the Australian desert, Historic Environment, 25(3). Retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/36084910/CONNECTING_CULTURES_AND_CONTINENTS_THE_HERITAGE_OF_ROUTES_AND_JOURNEYS_Signposted_by_Song_cultural_routes_of_the_Australian_desert 

2 The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology (2 ed). Provides this definition “a route taken by a dreaming or ancestral being, along which a series of events occurred which are part of the Australian Aboriginal oral tradition and are marked by a series of sites and associated songs and stories.” Darvill, T. (2009). Concise Dictionary of Archaeology (2 ed). Retrieved from https://www.oxfordreference.com/search?q=songline&searchBtn=Search&isQuickSearch=true

3 United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (n.d.). What is Intangible Cultural Heritage? - intangible heritage - Culture Sector - UNESCO. Retrieved July 30, 2018, from https://ich.unesco.org/en/what-is-intangible-heritage-00003

4 United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. (2001). Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Adopted by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization at its thirty-first session on 2 November 2001. Retrieved September 4, 2020, from https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/culturaldiversity.aspx

5 Regional Australia Institute. (2019). The Future of Regional Jobs. p. 35. Retrieved from http://www.regionalaustralia.org.au/home/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/RAI_SIP-2018-2-1_FutureRegionalJobs_Booklet_Print_3.pdf 

6 Infrastructure Australia. (2019). An Assessment of Australia’s Future Infrastructure Needs: The Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019, p. 444. Retrieved from https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-08/Australian%20Infrastructure%20Audit%202019.pdf

7 Infrastructure Australia. (2019). An Assessment of Australia’s Future Infrastructure Needs: The Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019, p. 442. Retrieved from https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-08/Australian%20Infrastructure%20Audit%202019.pdf 

8 NSW Government. (2019). Cultural Infrastructure Plan 2025+. Retrieved from
https://create.nsw.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/20190206_CIP2025.pdf

 

Page reviewed 26 August 2021