Maroondah Citizens Advice Bureau meeting

The Maroondah Citizens’ Advice Bureau began in 1967, with the founding of the Ringwood Advisory Service, which was one of the first advisory services at the time. The organisation became known as the Maroondah Citizens’ Advice Bureau Inc. following council amalgamations in 1996.

The Maroondah Citizens’ Advice Bureau delivers crucial support for some of Maroondah’s most vulnerable residents through providing advice, food assistance and referral services. The organisation is largely volunteer driven and maintains offices in both Ringwood and Croydon.

The Committee of Management meets on a monthly basis to enact policies and discuss the direction of the organisation. I have been a committee member of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau since mid 2006.

Maroondah workshop on bus services

The State Government will shortly be undertaking a review of bus services across Maroondah, Yarra Ranges and Knox. These reviews, which have been progressively undertaken across Metropolitan Melbourne, provide an opportunity to highlight gaps in network coverage, as well as routes requiring service improvements or re-routing.

This evening Maroondah hosted a public workshop to provide an opportunity to hear the community’s views on bus services within the municipality.

This feedback will assist council in presenting the community’s views to the State Government’s bus review process with the aim of ensuring better public transport services across the municipality.

The need to improve connectivity between bus routes, as well as with the train network, featured prominently during the discussions, as did the need for more frequency and operating span improvements.

Accessibility improvements are also required including additional low-floor buses and improvements to bus shelters.

Ultimately bus routes should be re-routed so that Maroondah’s main roads are provided with direct, frequent and readily available bus routes. These routes would operate as a principal bus network that would assist in making public transport competitive with car travel. Outside these main routes, localised bus services would operate to connect people to the principal network.

A two-tiered bus network would enhance the mobility of our community through providing an integrated and efficient public transport network.

The State Government’s Workshop on bus services will be held on Thursday the 19th of February from 6:30 pm at the Ringwood RSL. The feedback council received from tonight will shape Maroondah’s submission into the bus review process.

Eastern Transport Coalition Presentation on Train and Tram Refranchising

As the Deputy Chair of the Eastern Transport Coalition I was invited to present the ETC’s views on the re-franchising arrangements for the rail and tram network. The presentation provided an opportunity to highlight the needs of Melbourne’s outer suburban residents and opportunities that can be pursued through the new franchise arrangements for more a frequent, reliable and accessible public transport system.

The Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) as a regional body representing one million residents within its seven outer eastern councils is well positioned to understand the requirements of its communities and to demonstrate the need for efficient public transport operations.

The survey data compiled by the Australian Research Group for the ETC clearly demonstrates that residents of Melbourne’s outer east would be more than willing to use public transport if services are frequent, readily available and easy to understand.

In particular the ETC believes that there is considerable scope to improve off-peak and interpeak services, as a way of shifting travel demand and mitigate worsening overcrowding during peak times. Frequency of service is a key driver to attracting passengers onto public transport at times other than peak periods. Likewise there should also be the opportunity for express services outside the traditional peak periods.

More frequent services will also assist in delivering a more reliable system since it will assist in more evenly distributing demand across the network. Likewise all rail lines should operate at a consistent service frequency and operating span to provide consistency across the network.

While bus services are outside the scope of the train and tram re-franchising proposals there is a need to improve coordination across the entire public transport system, as such the new franchising arrangements must trigger a review of connecting bus services whenever there is a modification of rail and tram timetables. Bus services generally require at least a three month lead-time to implement changes and ample time is provided so that all modes can operate in a coordinated manner.

Accessibility is also a critical factor with the State Government failing to meet targets for disability compliance on the rail network. There would be a considerable opportunity to provide the franchisee with the scope to redevelop nominated stations in exchange for commercial rights. This would provide the operator with an incentive to modernise Melbourne’s rail stations through the creation of mixed use transit hubs and also ensure higher cleanliness and safety standards.

Likewise it is also critical that the new franchise arrangements include scope to extend the rail network, such as the much needed rail extensions to Rowville and Doncaster and the tram extensions that are required to Knox and Doncaster Hill.

Local Government both individually and collectively as a region would welcome the opportunity to engage the new rail and tram operators so that services meet the needs of our community. As an example, we have actively engaged Connex through the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committee, which has led to the reduction of vandalism along Maroondah’s rail network. Public transport is critical to the mobility of our communities and local government should be actively engaged over initiatives and timetable changes.

The new franchise arrangements for the train and tram network will begin on the 1st of December of this year. It is imperative that the new agreements assist in delivering a service that meets the needs of our community.

Media Release: Opening the doors to our youth

Live entertainment, information and support sessions, a place to hang out and have fun are just some of the exciting things on offer at Maroondah City Council’s EV’s Youth Centre.

Wednesday 4 February will see EV’s Youth Centre open the doors for another year of great activities and services for young people in Maroondah.

Councillor Alex Makin said it is important for Maroondah’s young people to have a comfortable place where they can seek advice on life and social issues as well as a safe place to meet friends.

“With a number of weekly programs aimed at helping Maroondah’s youth to access important resources, build skills for the future, and manage confidence and self esteem issues, EV’s plays an essential role within the City of Maroondah,” said Cr Makin.

“EV”s is a great resource for young people, there are always friendly and qualified youth workers available who are willing to talk about any issue that arises,” said Cr Makin.

Info HQ, the information support and referral program, allows young people to access written information on a broad range of topics and chat with youth workers. The program also provides young people with access to a computer, phone and fax. Info HQ runs each Wednesday from 1pm to 5.30pm.

The Drop In program provides an opportunity for people to meet, have a game of pool, play videos or join in any of the fun activities planned from week to week. The Drop In program runs each Friday afternoon from 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

In addition to the programs and great facilities, some of Maroondah’s best musical talent is also showcased at EV’s. The Maroondah FReeZa group have a number of drug, alcohol and smoke free events for all ages coming up in 2009.

EV’s Youth Centre is for young people between the ages of 12 to 25 years. The Centre is located at 212 Mount Dandenong Road, Croydon.

For more information contact Council’s Youth Services team on 9298 4373, email or visit

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2009 Australia Day Awards and Citizenship Ceremony

To commemorate Australia Day the City of Maroondah holds a citizenship ceremony as well as acknowledging the recipients and nominees for Maroondah’s Australia Day Awards.

The Australia Day Awards include three categories, citizen of the year, young citizen of the year and community event of the year. This year’s successful nominees were focused on social inclusion and accessibility, with Monkami’s Titanic Resunk performance and Jenny Newman from the Parent Support Network among the successful nominees.

The Australia Day Awards provide an opportunity to recognise the many people and groups that exist within Maroondah and the hard work they undertake within the community. It is always encouraging to see such a strong community interest within Maroondah.

VLGA: Discussing advocacy within local government

VLGA: Discussing advocacy within local government

The Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) is a peak body for councillors, local government and community leaders with an emphasis on governance and sustainability.

As the Deputy Chair of the Eastern Transport Coalition I was invited to speak at the VLGA’s Essential Mayors Weekend, a conference designed to assist newly elected mayors throughout their mayoral term.

The topic was ‘kicking above our weight’ with an emphasis on advocacy within local government. Three organisations formed part of a panel discussion, including the Eastern Transport Coalition, the White Ribbon Day and Regional Cities Victoria.

My presentation covered the background of the Eastern Transport Coalition and the diverse geography and demographic that it covers.

I discussed the importance of policies and procedures to ensure that transparency, such as providing ample time is provided for feedback. The composition of the ETC is also a contributor to its success whereby each council provides an elected councillor and council officer. Council officers provide the day-to-day support for the group as well as undertake research and submission development and it is therefore important that both council officers and councillors are actively involved within the organisation.

I also mentioned the need for a united approach and the strength in advocating as part of a region, since this prevents other tiers of government from trying to divide local governments. This also ensures that projects are viewed in a regional context whereby the benefits are demonstrated across local government areas thus making it easier to advocate to other tiers of government.

I presented the removal of zone three as a case study that demonstrated a number of critical success factors, including a united stance on the issue, a strong presence within the media, proactive advocacy with election candidates and the need to engage all sides of politics. Zone three fares were abolished in March 2007 after there was bi-partisan support for its removal during the 2006 State Election.

While each organisation had a different emphasis a number of common success factors emerged including the need for unity, a positive engagement with the media and constructive advocacy across the political spectrum.

Media Release: Enjoy Summer in Maroondah

Get a copy of Maroondah’s Summer Events Series brochure and make a date with one of the many things to do in Maroondah across the summer months.

Councillor Alex Makin said the calendar of events lists art and craft exhibitions, musical performances, art classes, historic buildings and a number of major community events.

“Wyreena Community Arts Centre has an exhibition by Amanda Ruck commencing on Wednesday 4 February. Enjoy her exquisite collection of paintings capturing the subject of clouds,” said Cr Makin.

“Central Ringwood Community Centre will be holding art classes during the first school term in 2009. Book now to learn the craft of leadlighting or patchwork, or the delicate art of watercolours,” said Cr Makin.

“And if watercolour painting is something you’ve always yearned to try, then the beginner classes at North Ringwood Community House will set you on your way during February and March,” said Cr Makin.

“Come along to the Yarrunga Community Centre with your best voice and join in for an evening of Community Singing on Wednesday 18 March, 2009. They promise a great evening where no singing experience is necessary,” said Cr Makin.

“Balmoral Highland Dancers are holding a highland dancing competition on Saturday 14 March, and Wyreena Music Café begins for 2009 with a range of talented and diverse artists performing on Friday 27 February and 27 March,” said Cr Makin.

Details on these events and many more can be found in Maroondah’s Summer Events Series brochures, available from Council’s Service Centres, the Ringwood and Croydon libraries and other Council facilities. For more information, call Council on 1300 882 233.

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Maroondah Leader: Cash makes a splash

In November last year the Commonwealth Government convened the inaugural meeting of the Australian Council of Local Government, designed to create stronger partnerships between the Federal Government and local councils across Australia.

The inaugural meeting included additional funding to local governments to undertake projects that improve council facilities which serve the community.

The Maroondah Leader has reported on the program and Maroondah Council’s allocation of $620,000, which will be invested into projects at Jubilee Park and the Ringwood Aquatic Centre.

Councillor Alex Makin, whose Mullum Ward takes in both Jubilee Park and Ringwood Aquatic Centre, said the money was a significant boon for local infrastructure.

This partnership between Federal and Local Governments will enable councils to improve their local community infrastructure. Maroondah Council discussed the funding at the December 10th Council meeting and agreed to allocate the grant to the following projects:

  • Installation of a co-generation plant at Ringwood Aquatic Centre ($250,000)
  • Replacement of the pool filtration system for the outdoor pools at Ringwood Aquatic Centre ($75,000)
  • Refurbishment of grandstand seating and access arrangements for the Ringwood Soccer Stadium at Jubilee Park, Ringwood ($295,000)

The refurbishment of the grandstand will improve accessibility and provide much needed upgrades to council’s soccer facilities. These works further reinforces the significance of the Jubilee Park sporting precinct, which also recently received a $300,000 State Government grant for a synthetic pitch.

“The two projects at Ringwood Aquatic Centre enable council to reduce its greenhouse emissions at the same time as it invests in sustainability,” Cr Makin said.

In addition, the co-generation plant at Ringwood Aquatic and the new pool filtration system will reduce council’s energy and water consumption, improving the sustainability of council facilities and reducing our impact on the environment.

The three projects will be completed by September this year and demonstrates how quickly community projects can be undertaken when there is a constructive partnership across governments.

The Commonwealth Government is to be commended for its recognition of local government and the importance in working with local councils to deliver community infrastructure. I look forward to the continuation of this program.