Media Release: Council motions supported at MAV State Meeting

Six out of the eight motions tabled by Maroondah City Council were carried at the 26 May Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) State Council meeting.

The successful motions related to improving information technology for customer service, general valuations, unfunded superannuation liability, road reserves owned by VicRoads, Tax deductibility for election expenses and building and planning fees.

Councillor Alex Makin, Council’s representative on the MAV, said the State Council Meeting provided an opportunity for each member council in Victoria to submit motions which have significance on a state level for all Victorian municipalities.

“The motions presented are viewed as being of significance across the Victorian Local Government sector, including the Maroondah community,” Cr Makin said.

“Council has a proven record of leading the way in highlighting issues faced by the Victorian Local Government sector. This is reflected by the favourable response to previous motions submitted by Maroondah and passed, often with unanimous support, at the MAV State Council Meeting,” Cr Makin said.

“At its meeting of Monday 18 April, Council approved eight motions to be submitted to the MAV State Council meeting which was held on Thursday 26 May,” Cr Makin said.

“The motions were developed by Council following interaction with the community in the form of various forums, consultation and strategies,” Cr Makin said.

Of the eight motions presented by Council, six were carried.

The motions carried included:

  • That the MAV State Council calls of the State Government to remove the requirement for Local Government to have superannuation cash backed, given the inconsistency between the three tiers of government and given that both state and federal governments carry these amounts on their balance sheets as unfunded liabilities.
  • That the Municipal Association Of Victoria State Council calls on the State government to extend the frequency of general valuations from two to three years.
  • That the MAV State Council calls on the State Government to abolish the prescribed Statutory Annual Increments for both planning and building fees and enable Councils to set their own fees.
  • That the MAV State Council calls on VicRoads to review current funding allocated for the maintenance of arterial roads and associated infrastructure, roadsides and central medians, and if necessary advocate for increased levels of funding.
  • That the MAV convene a working party comprising of Councillors and Information Technology Officers to explore the technological opportunities to provide a one stop shop customer service approach for Local Government communities.
  • That the MAV State Council writes to the Australian Tax Office seeking an urgent review of the current ceiling of $1000 for election expenses that can be claimed by candidates for Council elections.

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Volunteering Victoria Panel Session on Social Media

Volunteering Victoria is the peak state-based body representing volunteer based organisations within Victoria. The organisation provides a range of activities to support its members, including professional development sessions.

This afternoon I was invited to participate in a panel session on social media to discuss my experiences in utilising social media within community organisations. The panel explored the usage of social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn to reach volunteers and encourage community participation.

It is important that social media is used to complement other forms of marketing and communication that are undertaken by an organisation. The benefits of social media are best realised that they are used in conjunction with other forms of marketing, ensuring a consistent approach in reaching potential volunteers and promoting the organisation.

Resourcing is also an important consideration when utilising social media. Given that most community based organisations work within considerable resource constraints it is imperative that social media is utilised efficiently and effectively. Fortunately social media tools, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Youtube can be integrated ensuring a consistent and easy to maintain presence across these networks. Furthermore, new website content can be integrated with these tools extending the reach of a website and providing further content for social media.

Social media networks do need to be maintained and kept up-to-date with new content, integrating these tools and combining them with website updates ensuring an active presence and multiple opportunities to engage people via these networks.

The session was well attended, with excellent questions from attendees and I commend Volunteering Victoria for organising a dedicated session on social media. Community organisations can clearly benefit from social media tools if utilised effectively and integrated to provide a consistent and efficient marketing approach.

Media Release: Stroke a Chord goes from the stage to the screen

A documentary on the establishment and success of Maroondah’s Stroke a Chord choir will be filmed thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Ian Potter Foundation.

Maroondah Councillor Alex Makin said the choir was started in 2010 to give people with limited or no speech the opportunity to experience something positive and joyful with their voice.

“The members of the choir may not be able to speak, but they still have the ability to sing. This is the reality experienced by a number of people living with aphasia,” Cr Makin said.

“The idea for the choir was first raised during Stroke Week 2008. After hearing that several people in Maroondah were living with aphasia, Council took the first tentative steps towards the formation of a choir,” Cr Makin said.

“With the help of a number of external organisations, the choir has gone from strength to strength, with more than 20 members now meeting every week at Maroondah Family Church in Ringwood East,” Cr Makin said.

“The choir has a qualified music therapist of Yooralla working alongside the participants to ensure they are getting the most out of the experience,” Cr Makin said.

Cr Makin said making a documentary about the choir was one more way to spread the word about aphasia and the benefits of the choir.

“The $20,000 to make the documentary will allow the participants to share their journey with Stroke a Chord, and highlight the positive health benefits that being part of the choir has had for stroke survivors and their families,” Cr Makin said.

“I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of the participants since the choir began, and the documentary will allow these people the chance to let them share their voice with the world again,” Cr Makin said.

“Seeing the positive changes in the mental and physical health of the participants will hopefully inspire other people with aphasia to consider becoming part of a community activity,” Cr Makin said.

The Stroke a Chord initiative is a partnership between Council, Yooralla, Royal Talbot Hospital, University of Queensland, Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, Croydon Stroke Support Group and Melbourne University.

Yooralla’s Eastern Region Communication Service speech pathologist Bronwen Jones said the participants were excited about sharing their story as part of the documentary.

“The choir has been such a terrific success, and everybody who has had something to do with it has just been blown away by the personal stories of these participants,” Ms Jones said.

“These people have got very little speech, so we thought being in public would be confronting. But when they perform they turn into show ponies,” Ms Jones said.

“They really have blossomed, they have been filmed for the Today show and recorded for ABC radio’s Life Matters program. They are all keen to share their stories and show people that there is life after stroke,” Ms Jones said.

Filming for the documentary is expected to start in July, with production expected to take about six months.

Stroke a Chord will perform publically for the first time at 2pm, Saturday September 17 at Karralyka Theatre, Ringwood East. For more information or to purchase a ticket visit

Media Release: FloodSafe Week highlights the importance of preparation

The heavy rain falls and subsequent flooding which affected parts of Victoria earlier this year highlighted the importance of being prepared for the unexpected.

Maroondah Councillor Alex Makin said the annual State Emergency Services FloodSafe Week, Monday 30 May to Friday 5 June, encouraged people to get involved and learn more about protecting themselves, their homes and their businesses during floods.

“Floods cause more damage in terms of dollars and lives lost, per year, than any other natural hazard in Australia,” Cr Makin said.

“The rain fall which hit Victoria in late 2010 and February 2011, and the flooding which occurred as a result, is a prime example of the importance of ensuring your property is able to cope should we be faced with this level of rain fall again,” Cr Makin said.

“Research that was conducted following the September 2010 floods in Victoria shows that 31 per cent of people living in the affected areas did not know their homes were prone to flooding and 35 per cent said they had not prepared for floods at all,” Cr Makin said.

“However a well prepared community can reduce flood damage by up to 80 per cent, which is why Council is supporting the SES FloodSafe Week and urging residents to take appropriate steps to ensure their property is in the best condition possible to prevent, or at least minimise, the impacts of flooding,” Cr Makin said.

“Council is also doing its bit to ensure that the Municipality’s storm water drainage network is able to cope if the storms continue to worsen,” Cr Makin said.

“In the event of a flood Council’s operations team will conduct initial investigations to determine whether there is a blockage or other issues associated with Council’s stormwater pipes which may have contributed to localised flooding,” Cr Makin said.

“If no issues are found the matter is referred to Council’s engineering and infrastructure team, for further investigation, which will include assessing the capacity of the system,” Cr Makin said.

“Since the recent floods, investigations into Council’s stormwater drainage system has increased and Council is currently reviewing whether or not it needs to change the way the stormwater drainage network is designed and managed,” Cr Makin said.

“Council has a responsibility to property owners to ensure that the Council owned and operated drainage system is clear and functioning so it can capture any stormwater,” Cr Makin said.

“In times of excessive rainfall Council also needs to ensure that designated overland flow paths can handle the excess stormwater and work effectively to prevent properties from being flooded,” Cr Makin said.

“Council’s underground stormwater drainage system has historically been designed to a capacity of a one in five year magnitude storm, which is consistent with the industry standard” Cr Makin said.

“In the event of a storm of greater magnitude, the excess water is generally handled by designated overland flow paths which are created along drainage gullys, creeks or other low land points, during the initial developments stage of housing estates,” Cr Makin said.

“Council’s engineers are currently putting together a program to undertake detailed catchment analysis and flood mapping of the municipality which will help to determine appropriate solutions to stormwater management and may lead to improvements to underground pipe systems and overland flow paths to capture stormwater more effectively,” Cr Makin said.

“Investigations of the stormwater network and the associated improvement works is focussed on areas of land which were severely impacted during the recent flooding, with areas with property inundation taking precedence,” Cr Makin said.

“Council in conjunction with the SES is developing a Maroondah City Council Flood Emergency Plan which will assist in the identification of flooding risks and indicate suitable measure which can be undertaken to reduce and manage the risk of flooding,” Cr Makin said.

“Council working alongside the community to maintain Council-owned infrastructure and residential properties is the best way to ensure we are prepared in the event of heavy rainfall, and hopefully minimise the impacts of major flooding in the future,” Cr Makin said.

The best way to prepare for floods is to:

  • Learn the risk for your home and/or business
  • Prepare an emergency kit
  • Put together a home or business emergency plan
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers near your telephone
  • Check your insurance policy
  • If a flood warning is issued, listen to your emergency broadcaster for advice and check your neighbours are aware of the situation
  • NEVER walk, ride or drive through floodwater. Driving through floodwater is the number one cause of death during floods
  • NEVER allow children to play in floodwater. This is the number one cause of death during floods for children and teenagers

Throughout FloodSafe Week, SES volunteers will be running events in and around Maroondah. For more information or to learn about preparing a home emergency plan or home emergency kit, visit

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The 2011 Young Leaders Presentation Evening

The Young Leaders Program is a week long imitative providing leadership opportunities for Year 10 students within Maroondah. The program works with schools to identify potential students who undertake a week-long intensive leadership course at EV’s Youth Centre in Croydon.

The program covers public speaking, confidence and teamwork, with the aim of developing leadership skills. At the end of the course the participants organise a presentation evening, which includes the presentation of certificates from Council.

This evening I was invited to speak about the program and to formally congratulate the students for their completion of the course. The speech delivered during the presentation is available within this post:

Continue reading “The 2011 Young Leaders Presentation Evening”

Media Release: Maroondah celebrates National Reconciliation Week

Well-respected Indigenous rights speaker and performer Kutcha Edwards will be a special guest at Maroondah City Council’s National Reconciliation Week celebrations.

National Reconciliation Week runs from 27 May – 3 June and recognises the rich culture and history of the First Australians.

Maroondah Councillor Alex Makin said this year’s event would provide a variety of opportunities encouraging the community to explore Indigenous culture and heritage.

“I’d like to extend an invitation to the community to attend Maroondah’s Reconciliation Week celebrations from 10.30am at Maroondah Federation Estate on Tuesday May 31,” Cr Makin said.

“The launch will include a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony, a flag ceremony and a mesmerising didgeridoo performance by an indigenous performer,” Cr Makin said.

“Following the official procedures, Kutcha Edwards will speak about the theme for this year’s Reconciliation Week – Let’s talk recognition,” Cr Makin said.

“Edwards was born into the Mutti Mutti tribe in New South Wales, before being “stolen” from his family at 18 months of age. As a teenager he was reunited with his family, and started his journey to reconnect with his heritage,” Cr Makin said.

“Edwards now devotes his life working with various community groups including the Aboriginal Community Elders Services (ACES), Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, Fitzroy Stars Youth Club Gymnasium and the Koorie Open Door Education school at Glenroy,” Cr Makin said.

As part of Reconciliation Week, Council will also host an Indigenous Cultural Awareness Training session at Maroondah Federation Estate later in the week.

To find out more about Reconciliation Week events visit

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Media Release: Funding assisting for flood victims

Maroondah residents damaged in the January and February floods may be eligible for financial support as part of the 2011 Victorian Floods Disaster Relief Fund.

Councillor Alex Makin said the funding was established to assist residents to repair flood-damaged homes and replace household goods.

“The Damage to House and Contents Gift is open to a range of households including owner occupied, tenants, boarders and sole residential asset owners,” Cr Makin said.

“The gift is structured in two stages. Stage one is an initial payment of $1000 to assist with immediate costs facing households with significant damage to their flood-affected houses,” Cr Makin said.

“Stage two is a further payment to assist with the replacement of household contents and towards the repair and restoration of homes which have been more severely damaged. The amount residents will receive for this payment will depend on the number of eligible applicants and the amount available in the fund,” Cr Makin said.

“A single application form is used to determine who is eligible for the payments, as some applicants may only be eligible for one of the payments, depending on their circumstances,” Cr Makin said.

“As well as completing the application form residents will need to provide supporting documentation regarding the extent of damage to their house and contents and sign a statutory declaration,” Cr Makin said.

All applications must be submitted before 1 July 2011.

To determine if you are eligible for funding assistance contact the Floods Disaster Relief Fund on 1800 180 213, email or visit to download the application form and fact sheets.

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Media Release: Time to immunise before flu season hits

As the cold weather closes in, now is the time to book in for an annual influenza immunisation.

Councillor Alex Makin said Maroondah City Council has a highly dedicated immunisation team committed to quality service in the delivery of immunisations to the local community and businesses.

“Council offers free immunisation sessions at various locations in Maroondah each month. The influenza vaccine is available free of charge to people over the age of 65, pregnant woman, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 15 years, and anyone over the age of six months with a medical condition that increases the risk of influenza complications,” Cr Makin said.

“For those who aren’t eligible for a free flu vaccination, Council provides the service for $20 per dose,” Cr Makin said.

“Council also offers a Corporate Immunisation Service which means the Immunisation Team will visit businesses and immunise staff, with the most common being the flu vaccine,” Cr Makin said.

“Research has shown that healthy working adults who have been vaccinated against flu have half the number of doctor’s visits and nearly half the number of sick days,” Cr Makin said.

“So offering staff the opportunity to immunise against the flu could not only prevent the spread of the flu in your workplace, but it will also help to keep your workforce productive and healthy,” Cr Makin said.

If you are interested in protecting your staff please contact the Immunisation Team on 9294 5627 to discuss a program that will best suit your needs.

“The vaccine is most effective when received towards the start of Autumn, with the vaccine taking about two weeks to develop and provide protection,” Cr Makin said.

“Council is committed to providing an exceptional immunisation service that is readily available to everybody, with the immunisation program a vital part of Council’s community health strategy,” Cr Makin said.

“And with the knowledge that Council’s Immunisation Service has full accreditation in compliance with AS/NZS ISO 9001:2008 Quality Standards, Maroondah families can be even more confident of receiving a safe, effective immunisation service,” Cr Makin said.

Council also provides a secondary school immunisation program and a pre-school immunisation program for four-year-olds, plus free immunisation information and advice.

Dates and times for the April to June period can be obtained from Council’s Service Centres, Maternal & Child Health Centres, or

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Media Release: Change your clock, change your smoke alarm battery

Maroondah City Council would like to remind residents that daylight saving time will end on Sunday 3 April.

Councillor Alex Makin said the end of daylight saving time meant two things – an extra hour of sleep, and remembering to make sure your smoke alarm battery is working properly.

“Checking the health of smoke alarm batteries at the beginning and end of daylight saving has become a bi-annual tradition,” Cr Makin said.

“Even if the alarm is hardwired into the electricity supply, residents still need to check the back-up battery. Quite often when a fire takes hold, the power goes off,” Cr Makin said.

“You should also check smoke detectors are in the right position, usually on the hallway ceiling near bedrooms. This will give them the best opportunity to do their job by detecting smoke before it reaches those who are asleep,” Cr Makin said.

“For only a few dollars, keeping smoke alarms in good working order is the cheapest insurance for families and property,” Cr Makin said.

The end of daylight saving means clocks should be wound back one hour before 2am.

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Master of Ceremonies for the Eastern Volunteers Annual Fun Run

Like many community based organisations Eastern Volunteers holds events to assist in raising funds to support its volunteer recruitment and community based transport services.

The Annual Fun Run, which is held each March, is one of the major fundraising and community events held by Eastern Volunteers, with the event attracting over 500 participants and significant business support.

Alex as Master of Ceremonies for the Eastern Volunteers Annual Fun Run
Alex as Master of Ceremonies for the Eastern Volunteers Annual Fun Run

This morning I served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event, providing instructions for participants, as well as acknowledging the major sponsors and supporters.

This year’s Fun Run included three major sponsors, who were invited to participate on the day. As the Master of Ceremonies I introduced the major sponsors, as well as Terry Avery, the Mayor of the Yarra Ranges Shire Council and board members from Eastern Volunteers, including the chairperson Terry Macdonald.

Alex with Terry Avery, Mayor the Yarra Ranges Shire Council and Terry Macdonald. Chairperson of Eastern Volunteers
Alex with Terry Avery, Mayor the Yarra Ranges Shire Council and Terry Macdonald. Chairperson of Eastern Volunteers

Fortunately the rain held off until the afternoon, providing ideal conditions for the 2011 Annual Fun Run. The event was a success with a record number of participants and significant support from the business community. As Master of Ceremonies it was my responsibility to direct participants to the registration desks and starting positions, as well as acknowledge sponsors and their support.

At the conclusion of the race I assisted Terry who conducted the formalities and presentation of awards as Chairperson of Eastern Volunteers. I also ensured there was an opportunity for sponsors to speak to the participants, reinforcing the value that business partners received from the event.

Alex with Terry Macdonald, Chairperson of Eastern Volunteers during the presentation of awards
Alex with Terry Macdonald, Chairperson of Eastern Volunteers during the presentation of awards

Eastern Volunteers hold two major community events each year, with the Fun Run being held in March and the Multicultural Festival which will be returning in October.