Upcoming Council Elections

Thank you to the many individuals and community organisations that have shared their time over the past seven years. It has been an absolute honour to represent the Loughnan’s HIll Ward and the Mullum Wards in the City of Maroondah.

We accomplished a lot over these years, including new investment in community infrastructure, a focus on public transport advocacy and a Council that responds to needs in the community. During my time as Mayor I reversed twelve years of budget deficits and improved the accountability of Councils by encouraging debate and discussion during Council meetings.

I was the first elected Councillor to regularly maintain a blog, documenting my Council activities and to engage communities through social media. I provided a range of contact options to ensure that constituents were able to easily make contact with an elected representative.

After seven years I will not be renominating at the upcoming Council elections. I would like to thank the many people who have offered support and encouragement for providing the opportunity to respond to their concerns.

We have a great seven years together but it now time for me to focus on my career and other pursuits. I like the people of Loughnan’s Hill Ward and the Mullum Ward for the opportunity to serve as their elected representative.

Discussing experiences as a Councillor for the MAV Stand for Council Campaign

Being an elected Councillor requires an ongoing time commitment coupled with an understanding of good governance and the ability to respond to community feedback. Victorian council elections will be held at the end of October in all local councils with the exception of Brimbank City Council.

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) provides introductory sessions for prospective council candidates to assist in understanding the role and responsibilities of local government. The sessions include an overview from a neighbouring Council Chief Executive Officer and Councillor to discuss the role of council officers and elected representatives.

This evening I was invited to speak at the information session held at Knox City Council to provide an overview of my experiences in local government and advice on conducting council campaigns. The session provided an opportunity for candidates to discuss the operations of a Council and the role that Councillors undertake within the community. In particular I was able to provide an overview of governance structures for Council to assist candidates in understanding how Councillors can deliver results for the community.

I attended a similar information session in 2005 when I first stood for local government in Maroondah and found that the discussion was useful in gaining an insight into councils. Candidates should be advised to learn about local government and its decision making processes to ensure that they can become effective representatives for their community.

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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Eastern Volunteers Sponsors and Supporters Evening

Eastern Volunteers as a regional community based organisation, works in partnership with local government and businesses to provide its services to the community.

This evening, Eastern Volunteers held a function to officially thank its business and government partners with their assistance. This included the sponsors of the Annual Fun Run that was held in March, as well as the Multicultural Festival, which will be held again this October.

The function included video presentations from the two public events, highlighting the strong community participation with Eastern Volunteers and the benefits provided to sponsors in supporting these activities.

The 2010 Eastern Volunteers Multicultural Festival:

The 2011 Eastern Volunteers Annual Fun Run:

Further partnership opportunities exist throughout this year, including the Business Booster Breakfast on the 8th of August and the Eastern Volunteers Multicultural Festival, which will be held on the 9th of October.

For further information please visit www.easternvolunteers.org.au.

Maroondah Celebrations for National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week provides an opportunity promote reconciliation and an understanding of Indigenous culture. Maroondah celebrates Reconciliation Week through an official launch, as well as a series of events, including cultural awareness training.

This year I was invited to speak at the launch of National Reconciliation Week and the copy of speech is provided within this post:

Continue reading “Maroondah Celebrations for National Reconciliation Week”

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.

Eastern Volunteers Business Booster Breakfast with Greg Fordham

The Eastern Volunteers Business Booster Breakfasts are designed to connect businesses with community organisations. The breakfasts, which are held quarterly, feature a guest speaker with business experience who can discuss strategies to link with the community.

This morning guests heard from Greg Fordham, the Managing Director of Airbiz, an Australian based international consultancy that provides advice on aviation and airports. Greg discussed how he incorporates volunteering as part of his team building strategy, providing an opportunity for staff to partner with a community organisation.

The corporate volunteering program was designed to not only benefit the community organisation, but also to improve morale and enhance team building. Greg discussed some recent examples of the work undertaken by his team, including support for people affected by the recent Victorian Bushfires.

Greg’s discussion clearly highlighted how businesses and community organisations can both benefit from a partnership that delivers mutual value through support and team building.

The next Eastern Volunteers Business Booster Breakfast will be held on Wednesday the 8th of August, for further details please visit www.easternvolunteers.org.au.

Speaking to Volunteering Geelong

Volunteering Geelong, like Eastern Volunteers, is one of several volunteer recruitment agencies within Victoria. This afternoon I was invited to speak to the Board of Management of Volunteering Geelong to discuss marketing and strategic partnerships that can assist in promoting the work of Volunteering Geelong.

The discussion outlined the marketing approach adopted by Eastern Volunteers, including the development of a consistent brand and key messages that are used to promote Eastern Volunteers within the community.

Ultimately marketing needs to be supported through a range of tools that assist in communicating these messages. In this regard Eastern Volunteers complements its marketing activities with events that support the aims of the organisation. These events, which include targeted activities with business partners, support the aim of Eastern Volunteers being seen as a peak regional body. Likewise, engagement with the media, as well as online tools, promote these activities and reinforces the role of Eastern Volunteers within the community.

It is imperative that marketing activities support an overall strategy of an organisation. Conflicting messages create confusion and undermine the branding of an organisation and this can diminish outcomes that otherwise would have been achieved.

A marketing plan is required to provide this strategic focus and guide initiatives that achieve the identified objective. The marketing plan should explore all marketing initiatives that are available, including a mix of offline and online tools to deliver positive and proactive marketing.

Once a marketing plan has been completed, it will provide guidance on marketing opportunities and the action required to achieve the goals within the marketing plan. This approach enables an organisation to measure results and effectiveness.

Community organisations are increasingly needing to be innovative and proactive with their marketing to ensure that they can communicate with the community and key stakeholders. The discussion with Volunteering Geelong was useful in providing potential strategies and should support future planning for the organisation.

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 www.maroondah.vic.gov.au

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National Volunteer Week at the Healesville Living and Learning Centre

The Healesville Living and Learning Centre is an adult education provider offering nationally accredited training in Healesville. The Centre also operates an Opportunity Shop, with proceeds supporting the operations of the Living and Learning Centre. The centre, which is managed through a committee of management and staff, is supported though volunteers that assist with administration and with the opportunity shop.

This afternoon I was invited to speak to the volunteers to discuss how volunteering is changing and the need to clear roles and responsibilities. It is becoming increasingly evident that governments are reluctant to provide ongoing discretionary government grants that support community organisations. The trend instead is for governments to support project based funding with the increased expectation that these projects will become self-sufficient. As a result community organisations are increasingly dependent on independent sources of funding to complement their operations.

The opportunity shop serves as a significant fundraiser for the Healesville Living and Learning Centre which supports its operations and the delivery of classes. In this regard it is critical that volunteers are aware of the purposes of the Shop and its role as a fundraising initiative. While volunteers are donating their time, it is important to recognise that they have rights and responsibilities. Policies are required to provide certainty for volunteers and guide their actions, likewise position descriptions can help in clarifying volunteer roles and requirements.

The Healesville Living and Learning Centre has a significant role in the community providing courses that deliver new skills and qualifications. It is great to see the organisation supporting its volunteers and extending its fundraising initiatives through the planning of its Opportunity Shop.