Media Release: Support grows for Ringwood Station upgrade

Maroondah City Council is delighted that the Greens and Liberal parties have listened to the community’s concerns with both of them pledging to upgrade Ringwood Station within the term of the next government.

Maroondah Mayor Councillor Alex Makin said Council will continue its advocacy campaign leading into the state election in the hope the Labor party would follow its parliamentary colleagues, and also commit to an upgrade.

“The campaign calls for all major political parties to commit to an upgrade of Ringwood Station within the term of the next government. With the Greens and Liberals now on board, we await a commitment from the Labor party,” Cr Makin said.

“Council’s campaign has received a lot of community support with the petition signatures fast approaching 3000,” Cr Makin said.

“The strong community support for the campaign has secured a commitment from two out of three major state political parties. Now we need to continue the campaign and secure a commitment from the Labor Party to fund the missing piece of the State Government’s own Central Activities District,” Cr Makin said.

“The feedback I have received from people during the course of the campaign is that people want a station which is safe, accessible and integrated,” Cr Makin said.

“I urge those who haven’t already signed the petition to visit Maroondah City Council’s information booth at the Maroondah Festival on November 7,” Cr Makin said.

“At the booth we will have the Missing Piece jigsaw puzzle which highlights how important an upgrade to Ringwood Station is to the overall success of Ringwood as a Central Activities District,” Cr Makin said.

Some of the comments posted on Council’s online petition:

“This station urgently needs an upgrade due to the increasing older population, to assist in making the train more accessible. It is very difficult for the elderly to manage stairs etc and updating the station would hopefully make it more secure for travellers. Older people don’t want to travel for this reason, it limits their freedom.”

“No one feels safe at this station. Our worries should not be ignored.”

“The upgrade is urgently needed if it wants to attract future residents. It’s needed to keep the existing travel users safe and secure. What happened to the Government’s duty of care. What happened to the Government’s responsibilty to Maroondah residents?”

“The current state of Ringwood Station is unacceptable. It is clearly not safe for the community- particularly those who are vulnerable ie pregnant women, elderly, disabled, mothers with prams- and its complete redevelopment should be the government’s highest priority.”

“This is an issue of great importance and ought to be a priority on the agenda for state political parties. Ringwood has been very much left behind and the upgrade would not only assist with the mobility of disabled commuters but will also make the area safer for all commuters.”

The petition is also available at Council’s service centres or sign online by visiting

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Media Release: Ringwood Station petition well supported

Maroondah City Council’s petition calling on all state political parties to commit to a redevelopment of Ringwood Station in the next term of government has received generous support from the community.

Maroondah Mayor Alex Makin said to date more than 150 people had signed the petition, some choosing to leave comments on Council’s website.

“It has been great to hear how strongly the community feel about the need for an upgrade to the station. Last week Council released a video on our website which highlights the difficulties people who rely on a mobility device have in accessing the station,” Cr Makin said.

“The amount of community support our campaign has received to date speaks for itself. People are fed up with the current state of the station and are willing to speak out to campaign for change,” Cr Makin said.

“I urge those who haven’t already signed the petition to visit one of Council’s service centres or website and support our campaign. The more community support we can generate the greater the impact it will have when we present the petition to the political parties,” Cr Makin said.

Some of the comments posted on Council’s online petition:

“Every time I walk up or down this station I wonder how people with disabilities, pregnant women or mums with prams get up and down the walkway to go over the tracks. It’s a big worry, and I feel unsafe walking there and nothing is even wrong with me.” Georgia, Mount Evelyn

“Ringwood Station needs to be more user friendly for all Maroondah residents. More and more residents are relying on Ringwood Station than ever before. It is time to invest.” Emily, Ringwood.

“This is discrimination, clear and simple.” Aidan, Bayswater North

“I use Ringwood Station daily for commuting to work in the city and the Ringwood Station is a joke….. The ramps are quite steep and falling over on icy conditions is not uncommon, I have done it a couple of times. We need action fast.” Sandy, Ringwood.

“The sooner the better, waited too long,” Ringwood East couple

“I have a 19-year-old intellectually and physically disabled daughter. It is IMPOSSIBLE for us to use Ringwood Station due to the appalling lack of disabled facilities. Is it not part of the State Disability Plan to ensure ALL Government sites have disabled access? Surely the Department of Transport is remiss in its responsibility to ensure that Ringwood Station (as a major transport hub) is accessible for all people, not just the able bodied. Karen, Ringwood East.

“It is appalling that people who use public transport should be subjected to an unsafe and intimidating environment at their local station. Ringwood Station is an anachronism that the Government should be ashamed of, and improve if it has any sense of social conscious.” Nick

Go online to watch the video, to complete an online submission or to download a copy of the petition:
Maroondah Council website –
Maroondah Youth Services website

To sign the petition or find out more about the campaign:
Visit one of Council’s service centres:
City Offices Service Centre
Braeside Avenue, Ringwood

Eastland Service Centre
Level 2, Eastland Shopping Centre, Ringwood
Croydon Service Centre
Civic Square, Croydon

Visit one of Council’s facilities:
Arrabri Community Centre
Allambanan Drive, Bayswater North.

Croydon Library
Civic Square, Mount Dandenong Road, Croydon.

Karralyka Centre
Mines Road, Ringwood.

Maroondah Federation Estate
Greenwood Avenue, Ringwood.

Ringwood Library
4 Ringwood Street Mall, Ringwood
(Adjacent to Eastland Shopping Centre).

Wyreena Community Arts Centre
13-23 Hull Road, Croydon.

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Launch of the Redevelopment of Glen Park Community Centre

Glen Park Community Centre is located in Glen Park Road in Bayswater North and has strong emphasis on community development, as well as providing courses for the local community. The Community Centre was recently redeveloped, through a partnership between Glen Park and SCOPE, to provide an accessible facility that can provide an inclusive environment for all people within our community.

Alex with the Arrabri Ward Councillors; Tony Dib, Paul Macdonald and Natalie Thomas along with Shaune Leane, MLC and Mike Symon, Member for Deakin,  at the re-opening of the  Glen Park Community Centre
Alex with the Arrabri Ward Councillors; Tony Dib, Paul Macdonald and Natalie Thomas along with Shaune Leane, MLC and Mike Symon, Member for Deakin, at the re-opening of the Glen Park Community Centre

This morning Glen Park Community Centre Council held a Picnic in the Park to celebrate the redevelopment of Glen Park Community Centre, as well with other recent improvements, including the redeveloped Sports Pavilion and the new Men’s Shed. Further improvements, such as a new play space will be completed later this year.

In addition, I was invited to launch the redeveloped Glen Park Community Centre and the speech I delivered is included in this post:
Continue reading “Launch of the Redevelopment of Glen Park Community Centre”

Accessibility groups discussing public transport issues

The Disability Action Group Eastern Region (DAGER) is a community based group focused on improving accessibility within Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, including the City of Maroondah.  The group meets on a monthly basis and often has guest speakers at its meetings.  This morning the group held a combined meeting with Scoot Wheel n Move, a community group which is focused on the needs of people with mobility aids, to discuss public transport issues relevant to Maroondah and the broader eastern region.

The meeting included presentations from Brian Tee, the Parliamentary Secretary for Public Transport, as well as representatives from Metro.  Brian spoke about the Government’s Victorian Transport Plan, as well as the bus reviews, where he outlined some of the network wide improvements that are planned for Melbourne’s public transport system.  In particular, the Ringwood to Frankston SmartBus will be extended from Ringwood from 2011 to provide another orbital route across Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs, similar to the recently upgraded orbital services from Box Hill and Nunawading.  Other improvements include extending route 670, along Maroondah Highway, to Swinburne University in Lilydale, as well as more frequent services which are due to begin in July.

While these upgrades are definitely welcomed, there are still further improvements required for the Maroondah community, including the need for commitment to the long-term recommendations in the bus service reviews.  These improvements include new and more frequent services and it is imperative that the Government commits to their implementation.

In addition there is the need for a commitment to the complete redevelopment of Ringwood Station, with many members of the group sharing their adverse experiences with Ringwoood Station.  The steep and narrow ramps at the Station fail disability compliance standards making it difficult to access for people with disabilities and mobility aids.  This lack of access hampers the ability to create a sustainable and inclusive urban centre and it is imperative that the State Government fully commit to the redevelopment of the Station.

The combined meeting between the Disability Action Group Eastern Region and Scoot Wheel n Move demonstrates the passion and strength that exists within Maroondah for an inclusive and accessible community.  Both groups meet on a monthly basis and have proved to be strong advocates for creating a more inclusive municipality.

Eastern Transport Coalition – Final Meeting as Maroondah’s delegate

The Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) is a Council based advocacy group seeking to improve public transport within the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Member councils include the City of Maroondah, the City of Greater Dandenong, City of Knox, City of Manningham, City of Monash, City of Whitehorse and the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

Each year councils determine the Councillor representation on committees. While I had been Maroondah’s representative on the ETC since being elected in 2006, I felt it was now time to provide another Councillor with the opportunity to represent Maroondah on this committee to expand the knowledge and expertise on public transport issues within Council.

As a result, I’m pleased to announce that Cr. Michael Macdonald will now be Maroondah’s representative on the Eastern Transport Coalition. Michael has expressed an interest in public transport issues and it is great to see that the need for public transport improvements is recognised within Council.

I attended tonight’s meeting to assist with introducing Michael to the group and to provide some background on the priorities of the Eastern Transport Coalition. I am confident that Michael will be a great asset to the ETC and public transport advocacy.

Despite no longer being on the Eastern Transport Coalition I will continue to advocate for public transport improvements. As Mayor I have refused the mayoral car and will be continuing to use public transport to attend council and community commitments. Furthermore I will continue advocating for improvements to bus and train services as well as the much needed redevelopment of Ringwood Station.

2010 promises to be an exciting year for the Eastern Transport Coalition and I look forward to Michael’s involvement in the committee, as well as Maroondah’s continued advocacy for public transport improvements.

Maroondah Leader: Going public

One of my first acts as the Mayor of Maroondah was to refuse the mayoral car.

I have been undertaking my council duties utilising a range of transport options, including public transport and walking. I believe it is imperative that we continue to encourage the use of sustainable forms of transport.

The Maroondah Leader has reported the decision to refuse the mayoral car:

Maroondah’s new mayor has vowed to ditch the mayoral car and use public transport instead.

“I’ll be taking the train and the bus and we’re going to have the mayoral Metcard, or the mayoral Myki depending as to when they introduce it.” Cr Makin said. “Given that I am a resident in the centre an area where we are encouraging people to use sustainable forms of transport, I want to lead by example.”

The usage and provision of public transport is vital to transformation of Ringwood into a vibrant, accessible and sustainable urban centre. The usage of public transport must be encouraged to enhance the mobility of Maroondah, through mitigating traffic congestion and improving social inclusiveness.

Cr Makin said he had not driven for years but got around his ward and performed his council duties successfully using public transport and walking.

While the centres of Ringwood and Croydon are relatively well-served by public transport, there is a need for further improvements to bus services to provide an alternative to driving to stations, as well as more frequent rail services during off-peak times.

Maroondah’s first Generation X mayor, aged 29, said he would focus on the environment and social inclusion. He invited constituents to contact him on Twitter, Facebook, his website or the phone.

As a council it is imperative that we are open to input and provide a range of methods to encourage discussion with our community. The Internet provides new methods of encouraging community participation and we should be at the forefront of using these tools to encourage dialogue and discussion.

As the mayor I will be continuing to regularly update my blog, as well as posting updates on Facebook and Twitter. I encourage members of the community to contact me so that we can continue making a difference in Maroondah.

In his inaugural speech on December 2, Cr Makin said the recent burning of the Ringwood Miners’ Cottage should prompt a public discussion on values to create “a civic pride that collectively demonstrates that such malicious destruction will not be tolerated”.

As a municipality it is imperative that we discuss the values shared by our community and work to reduce apathy and encourage civic participation. Acts like the destruction of the Miners Cottage should not be tolerated or accepted by our community and we need to create pride within our community to prevent such acts from occurring.

Cr Makin named priorities as the central Ringwood redevelopment, more venues for community organisations and access for people with disabilities.

The redevelopment of Ringwood provides a once in a generational opportunity to ensure that we get things right for Ringwood and to create an inclusive, accessible and sustainable urban centre. Pivotal to this will be the creation of community space where we can ensure that organisations can meet the needs of our community.

I hope that over the course of the next year I and my council colleagues will be able to achieve these goals.

Please continue visiting my website or follow me on Facebook and Twitter to discuss your visions for the City of Maroondah.

Maroondah Journal: Residents have crucial role, says new mayor

One of my priorities as the Mayor for the next twelve months is to encourage community participation. The Maroondah Journal has reported on these aims:

Maroondah’s new mayor has called on the community to become more involved in its own future. Cr Alex Makin, who was elected mayor at a special meeting last Wednesday, said that far too often residents waited until something directly impacted them to become involved.

The community has a critical role in helping shape the priorities of council through contacting their elected Councillors and attending council meetings. This ensures that council is accountable to the public and is reflecting the views of the wider community.

He said residents’ role was much broader and included the right and opportunity to hold the council accountable at all times.

“Some may think voting in council elections is the only way for them to participate, but civic responsibility can extend to being a vital presence when council conducts its business.”

Civic involvement will lead to a higher level of participation within our community and help convey a sense of values for the City of Maroondah.

He also called on the community to reflect on its values and to work to impart them on others to prevent “tragic” acts of vandalism, such as the burning down of the Ringwood Miners Cottage last month.

As a council we must focus on the long-term sustainability of Maroondah and our community. The decisions we will be making during this term of council, including the redevelopment of Council and our community facilities, will continue to be felt well into the future.

It was humbling to be in a position where I could help shape the future of the area where I have lived since he was two.
“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to ensure we get things right with the transformation of Ringwood into a vibrant, sustainable and accessible urban centre.” Cr Makin said.

Please continue visiting my website or follow me on Facebook and Twitter to discuss your visions for the City of Maroondah.

Delegates’ Report: Environmental Sustainability and Achievements by People with Disabilities

On the 23rd of August I attended the launch of the North Ringwood Tennis Club’s water sustainability project. The club, through a combination of Federal and Council grants, has installed water tanks to assist the watering of its courts and reduce dependence on our limited water supplies.

Like many of our sporting clubs, North Ringwood Tennis Club is committed to environmental sustainability and it was great to hear their members discussing the ongoing need for sustainability, including the investigation of potential energy conservation projects.

I commend the club for its ongoing foresight and commitment to sustainability.

I attended the Ringwood Spiders Trophy Presentation Night on the 28th of August.

The atmosphere was understandably jubilant given the strong success of the team, including winning the Premiership Cup for the first time in 14 years, with the club already planning for next year’s season. Each year the number of attendees at the Ringwood Spiders Trophy Presentation Night increases, so much so that they had outgrown the clubrooms at Jubilee Park and instead held their function at the Ringwood Bowls Club.

With the football season drawing to a close, the Ringwood Spiders are preparing a range of off-season activities, including partnerships with other sporting clubs such as the Ringwood Bowls Club.

The Ringwood Spiders demonstrates what can be achieved within our community and it is fantastic to see the ongoing partnerships that have been formed within the Club, including the Ringwood Redbacks, the Ringwood Bowls Club and businesses such as Lakeside Cafe.

Lastly, this morning I attended a combined meeting of Scoot Wheel n Move and the Maroondah Disability Action Group. The two groups are both focused on accessibility, with Scoot Wheel n Move having a particular interest on mobility aids and the Disability Action Group focusing on advocacy.

This morning the groups were at a joint meeting to hear Bill Shorten, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children Services, who attended the meeting at the request of the Disability Action Group.

It is quite an achievement for any community group to secure the presence of a senior Government Member and it is great to see an example of a community group advocating on behalf of its community.

The discussion this morning was productive and I commend the two groups for their advocacy within the community.

Eastern Transport Coalition – strengthening the bus service reviews and community advocacy

The Eastern Transport Coalition represents approximately one million residents, through its seven members council and advocates for public transport improvements within Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs.

Tonight’s meeting further discussed the State Government’s lack of progress in regard to the bus service reviews, with the final recommendations for Monash, Whitehorse and Manningham’s review still being unreleased. Given that these three councils had their reviews completed prior to Maroondah, it raises concerns as to the level of commitment from the State Government towards completing and implementing the bus service reviews.

Melbourne’s bus network largely consists of infrequent services, which have limited operating spans and follow convoluted and confusing routes. The bus service reviews provide an opportunity to improve the level of confidence in Melbourne’s bus network, through services that are direct, frequent and readily available.

The State Government’s bus service reviews provide an opportunity to improve Melbourne’s bus network, which is critical in areas like Melbourne’s outer east, since many residents reside beyond walking distance to rail stations. This will only be achieved however if the State Government commits to implementing the findings of these reviews in a timely manner.

Tonight’s meeting also discussed the Eastern Transport Coalition website and the need for integration with social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. As a council-led advocacy group, the Eastern Transport Coalition should be harnessing these tools to strengthen its ability to advocate on behalf of Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs.

Local Government has typically been slow to adapt to the Internet so it encouraging that the Eastern Transport Coalition has agreed on the importance of its website and the need to use its site to further its advocacy and reach to our local communities.

Opening the Leadership Plus Workshop – Leadership Skills for People with Disabilities

This morning I was invited to officially open the Leadership Plus Workshop, a program designed to encourage leadership among people with disabilities and supported by Maroondah City Council.

The workshop examined leadership styles and the concept of over-strengths, whereby someone over-uses their strengths, which may cause difficulties in a team or group environment.

I opened the workshop with council’s Acknowledgement of Country to recognise the Wurundjeri, as traditional custodians of Maroondah:

Maroondah City Council, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledges that we are meeting on the land for which the Wurundjeri people have been custodians for many centuries, and on land which the Indigenous Australians have performed age old ceremonies.

We accept, respect and have shared with the Wurundjeri people in their customs of welcome.

The Wurundjeri people support the coming together of all people, respecting their individuality, to focus on a unified and cohesive nation.

The acknowledgement reflects on the diversity of our community and that all people possess leadership qualities. Leadership can take many forms and I am sure that the participants from today’s workshop will gain insight into leadership and strengthening their own skills and abilities.