Monday 20 March
A lot will be written about the successful campaign waged by the community and Council to oppose a Youth Detention Centre in Werribee South. As I have said elsewhere, we are pleased with this result.
As Mayor I join the volunteers and community group leaders in acknowledging and thanking Tim Pallas and Jenny Mikakos for listening to our arguments that the Werribee South location was not right. Council won’t be ignoring this issue now. We still need to work with the State Government to ensure there is substantial tree planting and the creation of a conservation reserve to screen the building from surrounding areas.
I’m also glad to see the establishment of a Community Reference Group who will be involved in the planning. I said at the outset that uniting elected Councillors, the community and a talented team of staff would be an enduring achievement of this campaign.
And of course we went from being ignored to being listened to! I want to personally thank all of the individuals who took the time to call me or speak with me about this issue and to encourage Council to keep fighting, even when things were looking too hard.
Monday 13 March
A number of recent appointments and elections will mean Council’s advocacy on behalf of the community will grow even stronger. Councillor Josh Gilligan has been elected to represent all Western Metropolitan Region Councils on the Board of our statewide local government peak body – the Municipal Association of Victoria and will serve a two year term. Cr Walter Villagonzalo has been appointed as a member of the State Government’s Ministerial Council for Volunteers until October 2018 and I have been appointed to the Local Government Minister’s Mayoral Advisory Panel. I’m confident all three of us will use or voices to ensure the interests of local residents, communities, groups and volunteers will feature heavily in the work we do through all three bodies.
On a completely different topic, years of speculation that Victoria’s next container port may be in Bay West near Werribee rather than in Hastings received added impetus this week with Infrastructure Victoria keeping this option live in its discussion paper released last week. At around half the cost of Hastings, a new port in our area could deliver a large number of local jobs in establishing and running a port. Council will watch progress on this possibility closely.
Monday 6 March
I recently had the honour as Mayor to welcome more than 70 CEOs and Senior Managers from community service organisations to a partnership forum. The purpose of the forum was to initiate more strategic partnerships with and between community service organisations and Council to meet the current and future community needs. Participants heard from Council about our growth and other social challenges while exploring opportunities for new ways of working. We received valuable feedback into how we could get more of these partnerships happening and how we can be more opportunistic and strategic to ensure we have a growing and effective social support service system in Wyndham.
I’m proud of my fellow Councillors for sharing the view we need to work more creatively on solutions to better meet local community needs. We also share the view that complaining about growth and our limited financial resources won’t help deliver the services and partnerships we need locally. So I’d like to also thank the Council staff who brought this partnership forum and more than 70 CEOs and Senior Managers from community service organisations together to work with us. Watch this space for some good results in the future!
Monday 27 February
Council welcomes State Government news it has shortlisted 3 consortiums for $1.8 billion road projects for the West. Netflow, Western Improvement Network and Western Roads Partnerships could deliver almost 30 kilometres and 8 planned road projects, including duplication and upgrade works and 20 years of maintenance of more than 750 lane kilometers.
Many locals who use these roads daily will benefit from the projects including Derrimut Road from Sayers Road to Dohertys Road in Tarneit; Dohertys Road from Fitzgerald Road to Grieve Parade in Laverton North; Dohertys Road from Foundation Road to Palmers Road in Truganina; the Duncans Road Interchange in Werribee/Werribee South; Dunnings and Palmers Roads from Point Cook Road to the Princes Freeway in Point Cook; Leakes Road from Fitzgerald Road to Derrimut Road in Truganina; Palmers Road from Princes Freeway to Western Freeway in Truganina, as well as the Princes Freeway/Forsyth Road interchange in Hoppers Crossing.
VicRoads is still gathering community feedback on project designs including on Sunday 5 March at the Point Cook Market from 10am-2pm. You can also have your say via an interactive VicRoads website at https://engage.vicroads.vic.gov.au/westernupgrades I’m pleased the contract will be awarded later this year with works starting shortly afterwards.
Monday 20 February
On Monday 13 February I spoke at the community protest against the proposed Youth Detention Centre. There were several thousand Wyndham residents from all over the municipality in attendance along with their children, family and friends. I have lived in this city for over 50 years and it never ceases to amaze me how as a community we band together in a time of need.
The proposed facility in Werribee South (or you could call it Point Cook South!) is clearly not suited on that piece of land. I am not aware of any correctional facility that has been built in recent history on such a high profile site. The State Government is right to say this maximum security Youth Detention Centre is required in Victoria and I support them 100% in that view.
However a site that was proposed by the previous Liberal Government and then supported by the Labor State Government as an employment precinct that planned to attract hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment and create a new city in the west for over 50,000 jobs, is not the place for a detention centre. We look forward to continuing to work alongside the community on this important issue.
Monday 13 February
Are you over 21? Do you have a drivers licence and could complete a Working With Children Check, National Police Check and a VicRoads Driver History Report?
On behalf of all Councillors and in particular our Safer Communities Portfolio Holder Cr Kim McAliney and our Family Friendly City Portfolio Holder Cr Mia Shaw, we’d like to recommend a great volunteering opportunity to you. This involves helping disadvantaged young people under 21 get their P plates by completing 120 hours of driving practice in a number of different driving conditions.
The WynBay L2P Program aims to overcome the challenges faced by disadvantaged young people by matching trained community volunteers with young learner drivers who have difficulty getting enough supervised on road driving practice. The program matches young learner drivers with a community volunteer utilising a program vehicle to undertake supervised driving sessions, in much the same way as parents/carers would work with their children to achieve the required number of hours of on-road driving experience.
If you are interested or know someone who would be interested please email Lisa at the WynBay L2P program at firstname.lastname@example.org We’re confident you could change someone’s life and make our community safer at the same time!
Monday 6 February
Over the last week or so Wyndham has been the topic of much discussion as the result of State Government plans to build a youth detention centre in Werribee South. I have no doubt that most residents will be following this issue closely and I want to assure you that your Council is working hard to advocate for the project not to go ahead at the Hoppers Lane site.
We feel strongly that the construction of a correctional facility in what should’ve been a major employment precinct is the wrong decision as it could affect the highly desirable Werribee East employment precinct which was meant to generate thousands of jobs in innovation and research.
The proximity to the sensitive green wedge zone, market gardens and the Werribee tourism precinct is of real concern and it is on these grounds that Council is seeking meetings with all relevant State Government representatives to ensure the views of our residents are heard.
I would like to thank all residents who have made the time to contact Councillors over this issue – it is important that we work together when dealing with issues such as this.
Monday 30 January
As thousands of local kids return to school and the number of car trips for drop-offs and pick-ups increase, it’s expected that our roads will get a lot busier. We expect lots more kids will be walking and cycling to school to improve their health. It follows then that we all need to be aware we have to responsibly share our roads and consider each other’s safety. One major way we can do this is to be patient and another is to follow road rules that are in place for good reasons.
In 1966 I would ride my bicycle down a dirt Heaths Road past the current site of the Werribee Pacific Shopping Centre and waited several minutes to see another car or truck. The only times this is likely to happen now is in the very early hours of a morning when most of us are asleep. With the rate of car ownership per person increasing out of sight since 1966 and with local population growth, there’s the potential our roads will become more dangerous. So let’s start the year considering how our own actions can either promote or damage safety on our roads.
Monday 23 January
There’s still plenty happening despite most people returning to work or study. On Saturday Evening 28 January Essence Productions are running Down To Earth - a fun, interactive night performance at the restored farm at Werribee Park. Set in 1862 this play takes you on a journey including comedy, history and scary elements. This event is suitable for ages 10 years and above.
If you live closer to Point Cook, on the same night there’s a Ghost Tour of the Point Cook Homestead where you can discover the Chirnside Family secrets in the original 1850s homestead still haunted by Thomas, hear of betrayal in the old stables home to Melbourne Cup winners and visit long-lost souls. This event is suitable for ages 12 years and above.
On Saturday 4th February between 4pm - 9pm Kelly Park will come alive to yet again host Wyndham’s contribution to the annual gay and lesbian Midsumma Festival - Park Lounge. With a true local community feel and atmosphere of acceptance and diversity, we will also be offering DJ’s, Market Stalls, BBQs, a Pop-up Bar and an hilarious Beyond The Bridge Talent Show from 6.30pm. Go to our website to find out more about What’s On in Wyndham!
Monday 18 January
I hope everyone in Wyndham finds a way to celebrate Australia Day on the 26th. Whether attending an event, having a meal with friends and family or if you’re working, pause to think about what the day means to you personally.
Australia Day reminds me it’s a privilege to be an Australian and to remember other cultures given I was born in Greece to a Greek mother and English father. I will always be grateful to Australian and other cultures and the two things that usually bring us together on this day - family and community. I hope you will be too.
On the day I’ll be hosting a local Citizenship Ceremony including an acknowledgement to the people of the Kulin Nation as our first custodians. I’m looking forward to hearing stories from 100 people after their citizenship oath or affirmation and about the many ways they’re already contributing or hope
to contribute to Wyndham as Australian Citizens.
From 5pm at Wyndham Harbour, Wyndham City will be hosting family-friendly food and entertainment followed by a spectacular sunset fireworks display over the water to a city backdrop. Pop over and say hello to Councillors and staff if you’re there!
Monday 9 January
As we start returning from holidays I wanted to kick off the year on a less formal note but one that I hope emphasises how Councillors will work together and be available to meet and speak with you.
The community rightly expects local Councillors to be engaged. After only a few months together, I can already say I’m confident your Councillors will definitely exceed this expectation.
One way we will gather community views and represent these at Council meetings is through our Councillor Portfolio roles. As well as covering Growth and Transport portfolio topics, I also have Cultural Diversity.
Deputy Mayor Cr Kim McAliney has Safer Communities; Cr Aaron An has Smart City; Cr John Gibbons has Tourism and Major Events; Cr Josh Gilligan has Learning City; Cr Tony Hooper has Arts, Culture and Heritage; Cr Intaj Khan has Urban Futures; Cr Heather Marcus has Environment and Sustainability; Cr Peter Maynard has Sports Development; Cr Mia Shaw has Family Friendly City and Cr Walter Villagonzalo has Future Focused Economy.
You can find out more information on this valuable way to ensure all Councillors are engaged with the community and find each Councillor’s contact details on our website.
Monday 19 December
On behalf of all your Councillors I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. We all hope you get to enjoy a holiday break.
Your new Council has been working at a very intense pace since we were sworn in just over a month ago. We’ve already gotten through a huge amount of induction and other work, and I’ve been impressed by the capacity of the new Council to come up to speed with current priorities and community needs.
On behalf of Councillors I’d also like to thank our CEO and her dedicated team of staff for working so closely with us to ensure our first City Plan and Budget sets us up well to better meet future community needs while being more engaged and customer focussed.
I end the year with great optimism as your Mayor. This is because even though it’s only been a month since we all came together, your Councillors have already formed a close, effective and even fun working relationship.
This leaves me with a feeling it’s going to be easier for us to work for and with the community in the future. In the meantime stay safe and take care of each other.
Monday 12 December
As Mayor and Council’s Portfolio Holder for Cultural Diversity, I recently attended the Saltwater Promenade Community Centre in Point Cook to address the second Pulaar National Conference.
Pulaar is a major language spoken on the African continent. The first conference was held in Sydney in 2015 and this year Wyndham was chosen to host the second conference for community leaders from across Australia.
The majority of the people who attended are originally from Sierra Leone and Guinea. Like all migrant families they have concerns about how their kids can maintain their language and culture while their families integrate into the Australian way of life.
I remember similar discussions among Greek and Italian families in the 1960s as well as the Vietnamese in the 1970s and 80s. Like us all they want their children to do well at school and as well as discussions on how to achieve this, we explored opportunities in the farming and agriculture industries and opportunities to develop small businesses.
Despite the challenges they face, everyone I met told me how privileged they were to live in a country like Australia. I wish them all the best as they adapt and integrate into our communities Australia wide.
Monday 5 December
Last week I spoke at an important funding announcement by local Member for Tarneit Telmo Languiller MP also attended by our Deputy Mayor Councillor Kim McAliney, our Sports Development Portfolio Councillor Peter Maynard and Chaffey Ward Councillor Josh Gilligan.
We welcomed $3 million of State Government funding - $1.2 million towards the Mainview Boulevard Reserve Pavillion and Community Space in Truganina and $1.8 million towards the Mossfiel Reserve Integrated Sports and Community Hub in Hoppers Crossing.
This funding comes from the State Government’s $50 Million Growing Suburbs Fund for local community infrastructure in fast growing outer suburbs.
Council will contribute $1.7 million to the Mainview project and $5.4 million to the Mossfiel project.
Both are expected to be completed expected in August 2017 and March 2019 respectively and will improve local life, support expanded sporting and other community uses and connections while also providing local jobs.
It is good to see funds made available for not only a new area in our City but also for our older areas that need upgrades.
As your Mayor I’ll continue to advocate strongly for the needs of all areas, both new and old in Wyndham without fear or favour.
Monday 28 November
It was an honour to be elected as your Mayor for the next 12 months at Council’s recent Statutory Meeting.
I feel confident my genuine commitment to support an effective and cooperative group of Councillors as I spoke about during the election will complement the commitment of my fellow Councillors to put the community first.
As we come through an intense induction period supported by our passionate CEO and staff, I’m also refreshed by the diversity of skills and abilities possessed by your Councillors.
Although it’s been an intense workload for both new and returning Councillors, I know I speak for all 11 of us when I say we are energised to make a real difference.
This is already emerging through a shared understanding of many local challenges – some old and some new.
As I said at the Statutory Meeting, I will support Councillors to represent their Wards as well as the Wyndham community at large to meet these challenges.
As this is our first Star Weekly column since the election, I also want to thank those who stood unsuccessfully for Council and invite you to continue to work with us in the interests of our community.