As a candidate in the upcoming council elections I am committed to making a difference for the residents, ratepayers, businesses and community groups of Mullum ward as well as Maroondah overall.
This evening I officially launched my campaign at Lakeside Cafe, with a number of community groups and residents in attendance. As a councillor it is important to work with community minded council colleagues and it was pleasing to see a number of council candidates, as well as Cr. Jo-anne Taylor, the current councillor for Mullum in attendance this evening.
Accessibility advocate Margaret Stevens spoke about her support for Jo-anne and myself and we we have been making a a difference for people with disabilities. Margaret and I have campaigned for public transport and accessibility improvements and it is heartening to see dedicated people like Margaret offering their support.
Jo-anne and I will be running together in the upcoming council elections and we have announced that we will be directly swapping preferences. Jo-anne is an asset to both the community and council and it is important that she is returned so she can continue to share her passion and dedication to the community.
A video of the speech I delivered is available, as is a transcript. I encourage you to view this content and see how I, along with Jo-anne Taylor, plan to continue making a difference for the Mullum Ward and the City of Maroondah.
Hi, I’m Jo-anne Taylor, I’m the current councillor for Mullum Ward in Maroondah City Council and Alex at lunchtime today asked me if I would introduce him, which I thought was a bit of an oxymoron, I mean who here doesn’t know Alex? I thought that was pretty ridiculous, but then I thought about it why would he ask me to introduce him? Because it is his campaign launch and we’re actually going to be running together in Mullum ward.
But the thing I want people to know is that the last three years I’ve been on council Alex has given me a lot of support. As well as representing you the community he also gives support to his other councillors and that’s why I think it is great that they have actually merged Mullum and Loughnan’s Hill together to make it the big ward of Mullum.
So Alex is here tonight, this is his campaign launch and I’m here to support him as well, because whether or not I’m on council I’m a resident of Mullum, my family live there and I would want to see Alex represent us too.
Thank you Jo-anne, Jo has been a great source of support on council and in fact the community and council will be at a deficit if people like Jo-anne are not re-elected onto Mullum Ward.
It’s people like Jo-anne and the support that they offer that ensure that the community and the interests of the community are held at the heart of council. There have been plenty of battles over the past three years and it’s been people like Jo-anne, as well as Maureen Naylor, who have really offered me that support and kept me going.
There have been quite a few times where I’ve often wondered whether it would be easier to make it someone else’s problem and its really been Jo-anne, Maureen and the many people in the community, some of you who are here tonight, who have ensured that I have continued to represent the ward and ensured that I have continued to give it my best effort.
Thank you to everyone for attending this evening and particularly the many groups that I have become familiar with over the past three years. I certainly still need to improve my bocce skills and I’m glad to see a number of people from Enjoying Planned Retirement here this evening.
One of the great joys I’ve had in council is learning about the many vibrant community groups that exist in our community. The purpose of a council, I believe, should be the facilitating and fostering the people of our community, ensuring that our community is able to go forward and become a vibrant place to live, work and play.
It’s groups like Enjoying Planned Retirement, which I’ve come to know very well over the three years, who have always made me very welcome, despite my lack of bocce skills. If I am re-elected I’d certainly hope to win once again in a bocce tournament. There’s lawn bows as well and I’ve been fortunate to work with the Ringwood Bowls Club looking at projects to improve the sustainability of the bowls club. Ringwood Bowls is actually the first bowls club in the state to retrofit its facilities to become self sufficient in terms of watering its greens. It’s a project I was honoured to be involved in and it’s great to see representation here from the bowls club.
Certainly its been groups like that that, which are making a difference to our community and its just been an honour and a privilege to be involved in that process.
Of course one of the groups, which has always been a delight, is the Ringwood Spiders. The Ringwood Spiders, for people that aren’t aware, are a football club for a people with disabilities. When we talk about an inclusive community we need to look no further than people with disabilities. People that generally are marginalised already and there’s a need to ensure that these people are able to be included within our society.
It’s been an honour to be able to work with the Ringwood Spiders, we’ve gone a long way in three years and we’re only going to go further in the next four. Jo-anne has been heavily involved in the Ringwood Spiders, she’s starting up a cheerleading squad for next year. I understand there will pom-poms and everything. So if you want to cheer for the Ringwood Spiders do speak to the Ringwood Spiders.
The Ringwood Spiders held their presentation evening around about two months ago and to see how included these people felt, it was just like being in any other football club evening. There were drinks, merriment and there were people having a good time, it could have been any football club.
It’s due to people like the Ringwood Spiders, it’s due to people like Margaret Stevens and many others in our community, that have ensured that people with disabilities have a voice. We need to continue that and ensure that we are making a difference for people with disabilities.
One of the organisations I’ve grown to become involved with over the last three years has been the North Ringwood Community House. I must admit, when was I first elected I knew very little about community houses and what they did. I was invited to a presentation evening, around three years ago now for North Ringwood Community House and they spoke to me about the need to relocate.
North Ringwood Community House, for people that aren’t aware, is the only community house in Maroondah that is not located on council property. Now this means that the community house is not eligible for council capital works grants. It means that as time has gone on, the house has been placed at a disadvantage relative to other community houses in Maroondah.
It’s been an honour to now be part of the committee of management for the North Ringwood Community House and also to work with the management and the committee to advance the application to seek funding to look at the relocation. This is a project I’m absolutely committed to, regardless of whether I’m on council or not. It’s a project that must happen for the benefit of Maroondah.
The typical thinking in Maroondah has been that we’re a municipality that has around 78 council buildings and the officers really don’t want to maintain 79. Now if anyone looks at the demographics of Maroondah we are a growing municipality. We’re barely keeping up with current needs, let alone further needs. As a result we need facilities, like community centres, like the North Ringwood Community House, that are able to grow, expand and meet the growing needs of our community. They can become accessible, sustainable destinations for our community to be part of society.
Talking about groups that have battling to be part of society, there is the Heatherdale Action Group, another group that I’ve had fun in being involved in. They’ve had a battle, because they are in the unfortunate situation of being split between Maroondah and Whitehorse. That’s made it difficult for the action group to actually have a voice because it is bad enough dealing with one council, let alone when you have to deal with two.
Fortunately we’ve worked over the last three years to enable that voice for the Heatherdale Action Group and ensure that council is listening to their needs and improving the amenity of the Heatherdale vicinity. Once again this is another group which I’ve been involved in for quite a few years now and certainly one, which regardless of what happens, I do plan to continue being involved with.
One of the groups that really started it all was the Croydon Conservation Society. One of my passions has always been public transport advocacy. About four and a half years ago the Croydon Conservation Society held a public forum in the Glenn Frost Room advocating for better public transport. It was the first time that we actually organised a public transport forum in Maroondah and we were unsure as to how many people we would get to this event. It turns out the Glenn Frost Room, wasn’t able to seat everyone and we had people packed out the door. Events like that would not have been possible without the support of the Croydon Conservation Society and it has been great to see the strong support over the past three years and to see the advancement of a sustainable municipality.
There’s certainly much further work that we need to do in Maroondah to become sustainable. There’s been a lot of talk, we need to progress past the Hollowmen persona of perceptions and saying the right things to actually doing the right things. This is something we need to focus on in the next four years.
Likewise, it has been a pleasure to be working with the Maroondah Climate Change Action Group, in the time of its existence in once again trying to improve and focus the council in delivering sustainable outcomes for our community. Unless we have a sustainable municipality we have little chance of actually ensuring an inclusive and vibrant society. We need to ensure that the environment remains at the forefront of Maroondah. Its certainly something that needs to further strengthened over the next four years.
One of the groups that has really been involved in creating an inclusive community is the Maroondah Citizens Advice Bureau. There’s a funny story here, I was actually linedancing at an AGM of Eastern Volunteers and I’ve since joined their committee of management as well. A lady came up to me, as I was linedancing and decided to start dancing with me. She said to me I’m part of the Citizens Advice Bureau would you like to be on the committee of management? As I was trying to linedance away, I think my linedancing skills are actually probably worse than my bocce skills, I realise I really had no choice but to say yes. It has really been a great honour to be working with the Citizens Advice Bureau, they’re really the unsung heroes of the community. A lot of people may not be aware of their existence and what they do, but the emergency relief, the food provision, the support and referral services they provide really provides a backbone for people in need.
That’s where organisations like Hope City Mission, also come into the forefront. Hope City provides regular pamper days for people in need and they go beyond the regular food and shelter provision to also look at the wellbeing of a person. This is based on the philosophy that if someone is not feeling good about themselves how can they seek employment, seek accommodation and advance themselves in society.
Hope City Mission are once again more unsung heroes in our community. They provide a valued and much need service in our community and an area that often isn’t touched on by other organisations.
It has been an honour to be working with the many residents in our community. I’ve often joked that planning applications bring communities together. There’s been many residents that I’ve helped along the way in responding to planning applications and I do thank you for being a part of this evening.
There’s also Ringwood Rotary which I joined around about two and a half months ago. What amazed me with Rotary is that you have committed people, committed to doing good in the community. It was quite a stark contrast to the egos of council, it was great to see a group of people committed to fellowship. It’s great to see a committed bunch of people, committed to the wellbeing of our community, not expecting any kudos for it but doing good because that is what they want to do. It has also been a great honour to be accepted as a member of Rotary and certainly its an organisation I will continue my involvement with.
At the close of business today, I’ve heard that there are now ten nominations for the Mullum ward and it certainly will be a battle. You’d like to think that if you put the work into something that it would be an easy outcome. The reality is, that with ten candidates, it will be a contest and its one which we need to continue working towards and we need to ensure that we do continue making a difference. Its great to see the many committed people here this evening, committed to many different causes and offering their support.
We’ll be circulating a notepad asking for people to assist with letterboxing. The new combined ward includes 15,000 households and it is important that those people, every single resident, gets the message about how they can ensure that they are making a difference for Maroondah.
The reality is, with ten nominations and nominations still don’t close to midday tomorrow, it will be a battle. Regardless of the outcome, and I certainly do hope that I am returned, it has been an absolute delight to work with the many individuals and many community members, some of whome are here this evening.
One of the other groups I should mention has been around about youth involvement. We have representatives here from Youth Voice, a magazine that provides a voice for Maroondah’s youth. Youth in any society are often difficult to reach and its publications like Youth Voice that we are reaching people that are wanting to be making a difference but often shy from traditional methods of being part of our society. Its great to see our youth developing that voice and ensuring that there is a mechanism they can use to tell the rest of society what they think and the positive contribution that young people make to our community.
In closing I would like to thank everyone for being here this evening, I’d like to thank you for your support. I certainly hope that there will be four more years as part of the new Mullum Ward. Its been a delight to be working with many of the community groups here this evening, as well as the many individuals in assisting in issues as they come through.
Its the people that contact a councillor, that help ensure that councillors remain accountable to the community. I encourage people to contact their local representatives, no matter who they are, and ensure that they are delivering results for the community.
Councillors are elected to work for the community and it is important that they do so. The only way that they are ever going to be able to do that is if people take the initiative to contact them and ensure that they are accountable. I’d like to offer my commitment that I will continue making a difference and I will continue to work in the upcoming weeks of this campaign and beyond to ensure that we are making a difference.
Thank you very much and thank you for attending this evening.
I hope everyone has enjoyed the food this evening. None of this would have been possible without the generous assistance of Lakeside. I’d like to thank Lakeside and the staff here this evening, for ensure that this dinner could proceed. Thank you to Jim, Donna, the staff here tonight, who have ensured that tonight could go ahead.
Also of course to my family, who without their support tonight would not have been possible. Can we give Lakeside, my sister Julia, my dad Robert, my mum Grace and my grandmother Christine, a token of our appreciation. Also of course to Jon our cameraman this evening.
Thank you very much for everyone that has attended this evening. I do hope that you have had an enjoyable evening, that you have enjoyed the food and fellowship. Once again my great gratitude to Lakeside for hosting tonight and remember that when you’re in Maroondah, do eat at Lakeside! Thank you and have a great evening.