Eastern Transport Coalition meeting

The Eastern Transport Coalition consists of seven outer eastern metropolitan councils (Maroondah, Knox, Whitehorse, Yarra Ranges, Manningham, Monash and Greater Dandenong) and is a regional based advocacy group that lobbies for better public transport in Melbourne’s outer east.

The Eastern Transport Coalition meets on a monthly basis to discuss the transport priorities of the region and to further its advocacy for public transport. I have been Maroondah’s delegated representative on the Eastern Transport Coalition since my initial election onto council in November 2005 and have been re-appointed as the delegate for 2009.

For more information on the Eastern Transport Coalition please visit www.etc.org.au.

Eastern Volunteers 2009 Board of Management Meeting

Eastern Volunteers is a not-profit organisation that provides volunteer assistance, as well as community transport for the frail aged and people with disabilities. The organisation aims to strengthen volunteering by providing training services and assistance in recruiting and placing volunteers within other community based associations.

Eastern Volunteers is also heavily involved in community transport solutions and provides a range of transport services for home and community care (HACC) eligible clients to assist in enhancing social inclusion and reducing isolation. The organisation is also involved in programs which aim to look at how community transport can augment public transport and taxi services. Eastern Volunteers is also one of the partners of the Sustainable Living Space initiative, which aims to investigate the potential for an environmentally sustainable community centre in Melbourne’s outer east.

Eastern Volunteers was formed in 1976 and has 14 part-time staff with approximately 100 volunteers to assist in service delivery. A voluntary board of management oversees the policies and strategic direction of the organisation. I have been a member of the board of management since July 2008.

For further details on Eastern Volunteers please visit www.easternvolunteers.org.au.

North Ringwood Seniors Christmas Luncheon

The North Ringwood Seniors are one of three senior groups based at Norwood Hall in Warrandyte Road, Ringwood North.

Like Enjoying Planned Retirement, The North Ringwood Senior Citizens are one of Maroondah’s largest seniors groups and provides a range of activities for senior citizens. This afternoon I attended the North Ringwood Senior Citizens Christmas luncheon as a guest of the committee due to my regular participation in their events and the Hall Users Committee.

In particular it has been welcoming to see increased cooperation between the three seniors groups and this was apparent during the Maroondah Seniors Festival where each of the organisations held an open day to showcase their activities.

The afternoon was most enjoyable and I wish the North Ringwood Seniors, as well as Enjoying Planned Retirement and Ringwood U3A all the best in the year ahead.

Eastern Transport Coalition – final meeting for 2008

The Eastern Transport Coalition comprises of Melbourne’s seven outer eastern councils and advocates for public transport improvements within the outer suburbs.

Tonight’s meeting discussed the recently released Victorian Transport Plan and the disappointment over the lack of consideration of projects within Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

While there are some positive aspects to the State Government’s plan, such as designating Ringwood as a Central Activity District and an implied recognition of the importance that public transport will have within these centres, there is unfortunately a lack of detail over infrastrucutre needs in the eastern suburbs or further bus upgrades.

New rail extensions to Rowville and Doncaster, coupled with improvements to bus services, would provide transport choice for Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and enhance the region’s economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Likewise transport services must be accessible for all people within our community. It is therefore critical that the State Government commits to redeveloping Ringwood Station into a safe and accessible transport interchange.

The Eastern Transport Coalition will be continuing to call on all levels of Government to commit to public transport improvements within Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

Launch of Liberty Swing at Ringwood Lake

This morning Maroondah Council in conjunction with the Variety Club launched the newly installed Liberty Swing located at the playground in Ringwood Lake.

A liberty swing provides an opportunity for children in wheelchairs or with limited mobility to enjoy activities such as swinging and promotes inclusiveness through making our playgrounds enjoyable for people of all abilities.

The liberty swing can be accessed through a Liberty Swing key which is available from Maroondah City Council Service Centres or at Ringwood Aquatic Centre. The Liberty Swing key also provides access to other community facilities for people with disabilities.

Eastern Volunteers – end of year function

This evening Eastern Volunteers hosted its end of year function, bringing together staff, volunteers and the board of management to celebrate their success in providing volunteer recruitment services and transport for the frail aged and people with disabilities.

Organisations like Eastern Volunteers assist in creating an inclusive community through encouraging volunteerism and providing mobility for people that would otherwise be isolated.

Eastern Volunteers has formed a number of partnerships, including the Seniors Register in conjunction with Maroondah City Council and the Maroondah Police. The Seniors Register provides regular phone contact for senior citizens and a safety audit of people’s homes to ensure that participants are safe and connected with their community.

The Seniors Register began through discussions held between members of the Maroondah Partners in Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committee and demonstrates the strength of partnerships in improving the wellbeing of our community.

I will be continuing as one of three council delegates for the Maroondah Partners in Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committee within 2009.

2009 Maroondah City Council meeting schedule

Council meetings commence at 7.30 pm and are held in the Council Chambers, Braeside Avenue, Ringwood.

The public is welcome to attend and there is an opportunity to submit a question to be answered at council meetings or to speak directly to councillors and council staff after the meeting.

If you wish to submit a formal question at a council meeting, please download the form for Public Question Time from the Maroondah City Council Website.

Ringwood Ballet – La Fille mal gardée

This evening I attended the 2008 annual performance of the Ringwood Ballet Group held at the Karralyka Centre.

The Ringwood Ballet Group was established in 1961 and holds classes at Bedford Park in Ringwood. The group has held an annual performance since 1965 to showcase the talents of its members.

Tonight’s performance included several supporting acts including junior classes depicting the four seasons, the senior class with Johann Sebastian Bach’s ‘Air’ and several contemporary pieces from the tap and jazz classes covering the 1940s onwards.

The main act was a performance of La Fille mal gardée and this year marked the first time the group has performed the full version of the production. The piece, which includes three acts successfully blended ballet with comedy making it a thoroughly entertaining production.

The Ringwood Ballet Group is one example of the many performance based community organisations that exist within Maroondah. For more information please visit www.ringwoodballet.org.au.

Croydon Stroke Support Group 2008 end of year function

The Croydon Stroke Support Group provides peer support for people that have experienced stroke and their carers and meets at a weekly basis at Heathmont Uniting.

Today the group held its end of year function to celebrate the friendships that have formed within the group and the successful events they have organised. The Croydon Stroke Support Group was pivotal in organising the The Good Life After Stroke Expo and Information Day, as well as continuing its emphasis on using art to assist people in expressing themselves and discovering new talents.

Organisations like the Croydon Stroke Support Group help in creating an inclusive community and allow participants to establish new friendships. I thank the group for their support and look forward to meeting them again in 2009.

Maroondah Council Inauguration

This evening the nine Councillors for Maroondah City Council were officially inaugurated to serve the community over the next four years.

As part of the proceedings each Councillor is invited to speak at their confirmation and outline their vision for the council term.

Alex speaking at the 2008 Maroondah City Council Inauguration

The following is a copy of the speech I delivered during the evening:

It is a great honour and privilege to have been returned as a Councillor for Maroondah, representing the businesses, ratepayers, residents and community groups of the Mullum Ward.

I would like to thank the people of Mullum Ward for their confidence in me, where I was returned with a clear mandate and the highest primary vote within Maroondah. I believe we should continually question the commitment, dedication and time that is for required public office but with such a clear result, whereby one in five voters directly supported me, it is evident that our community believes I am indeed making a difference.

I believe that the enemy of public office is complacency and while I cherish the clear mandate I received, I assure you that I will continue in making a difference to the community whereby we deliver a municipality that is accessible, sustainable and underpinned by good governance.

Alex speaking at the 2008 Maroondah City Council Inauguration

While we together look forward to the future, it would be amiss of me to not recognise the people that assisted me throughout the past three years during what was my first term on council. Thank you to the many people that supported me throughout this time, including my family and the many individuals and community groups I have met over that time. I look forward to us working together so we can continue making a difference.

In particular I would like to thank two people, former Councillors Jo-anne Taylor and Maureen Naylor, both who provided a major source of inspiration to me. When I was first elected Maureen gave me the advice of ‘stay true to yourself and to the people that elected you’, these are words of wisdom that I have never forgotten and I thank Maureen for her friendship and for taking the time to offer her assistance and support. I am truly fortunate to have been able to know someone with such integrity as Maureen.

Jo-anne Taylor was someone I came to know closely over the past three years, people would always remark how the two of us made quite a good team and I commend her for the support she offered me. While Jo-anne was not returned to council, I would like to publicly acknowledge the dedication she provided to the Mullum Ward over the past six years. Jo-anne would always speak her mind and stand up for what she believed in and she serves as a true inspiration to me.

I would also like to acknowledge another one of my former colleagues, Tony Dib. While Tony and I did not always agree with each other, there was mutual respect and appreciation. It is a shame that I was not given the opportunity to get to know Tony further during my time on council but I would like to thank him for his time over the past three years.

As we enter a new council term, I would like to extend the offer of support and friendship to all of my eight colleagues, old and new alike.

There is much we have to achieve over the next four years, including the relocation of North Ringwood Community House, upgrades to facilities such as Ringwood Aquatic Centre, providing footpaths, advocating for the redevelopment of Ringwood Station and transforming Ringwood into a vibrant and thriving urban community. In addition we need to foster our community and find new homes for the many groups that are struggling for space within this municipality.

A stronger community leads to a more inclusive and accessible society, whereby more people can partake in economic and social opportunities within a sustainable environment.

One of the most rewarding aspects of being part of council has been serving as a conduit between community groups and individuals. Early in my last council term I met a person with a disability who was attempting to volunteer and participate in society, only to be continually presented with barriers limiting their involvement. Through the community groups, I knew I was able to organise opportunities for this person to demonstrate their skills and talents leading not only to volunteer work but ultimately onto paid employment.

Alex speaking at the 2008 Maroondah City Council Inauguration

This is the joy of being a Councillor, of being someone who can assist members of the community, whether it be to assist in better planning outcomes, delivering new initiatives, or being able to reconnect people with their broader community.

These are the joys and the challenges over the next four years, there will be highs and there will be lows but together we can continue making a difference. Thank you for your support.