Wednesday 15 November
I want to plug an upcoming free Wyndham City event to celebrate International Day of People with Disability on 1 December. It’s worth a plug because this year our patron is Dylan Alcott - one of Australia’s most successful and well recognised Paralympians. Born with a tumour wrapped around his spinal cord, Dylan survived a three year battle to live and has been achieving ever since. Since the age of 13, Dylan, a dual Paralympian represented Australia in both wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.
At 17, he became the youngest ever wheelchair basketball gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. At Rio last year he became one of only a few athletes to win two gold medals in two different sports. In 2016, Dylan was awarded Paralympian of the Year and GQ Sportsman of the Year. Dylan is a passionate speaker trying to mainstream disability and alter and change the way people perceive disability. He founded his own Dylan Alcott Foundation to help young Australians with disabilities in sport and study. Come along to hear Dylan and network between 10am-2pm at the Civic Centre, 45 P5rinces Highway in Werribee. RSVP’s are needed by 29 November at https://www.wyndham.vic.gov.au/contact/dylan_alcott_event
Wednesday 8 November
Council’s Learning City Portfolio Holder Councillor Josh Gilligan and I have been getting lots of media attention about the need for temporary kindergartens in Wyndham Vale and Tarneit North and the possibility we’ll need to use portables to meet demand in 2018. Hardly a surprise as in under 20 years we’ll need 25 kindergartens, 20 primary schools and 6 secondary schools just to meet local need.
We’ve highlighted the need for better planning for the delivery of services and infrastructure. Our concerns have been echoed by the Auditor General who emphasised the need for kindergartens, early childhood services and public health services in growth areas like Wyndham.
I warmly and publicly welcomed the appointment of the State Government’s first ever Minister for Suburban Development Lily D’Ambrosio. Given the West is doing a lot of the heavy lifting on growth, maybe it’s time for a ‘Minister for the West’ to help fix the coordination problems highlighted by the Auditor General. Not such a silly idea given 77% of respondents to a Herald Sun poll supported this idea. We are really keen to work with the State Government to deliver outcomes obviously needed by locals.
Wednesday 1 November
It’s been a busy year and I’ve been thinking about how much Council has achieved. Much of this success has come from the efforts of previous Councils as well as our renewed advocacy. I’ve been thinking about the positive impact we have when we work with the local community.
No single example highlights this more than Council working with the community to oppose the former inappropriate location of the Youth Detention Centre at Wyndham’s front door and at the tourism and arts entry to Wyndham. Within 6 weeks of working strongly together, the location was changed and this was clearly due to the work we did with a range of community organisations and individuals. Council is still working to ensure its location has no negative effects.
Our work with community organisations also paid off with a $15 million investment in homelessness services and housing in Wyndham. Councillors have been providing feedback in drafting our next Community Engagement Strategy and I can assure you that we see our partnership with the community as being critical to the future success of our advocacy requests. If the last year is anything to go by, we all have reason to be more optimistic.
Wednesday 25 October
I will soon participate on a ‘Mayors of Melbourne’ panel at an Urban Development Institute of Australia forum. As I enter the home stretch of the Mayoral term, having lived in Wyndham for over 50 years and serving on Council from 1997 to 2008 (taking an 8 year break before returning last year), my perspective is perhaps a bit different from others. Yes, the need for us to focus on adequate community infrastructure has grown more urgent.
It’s also true that Council doesn’t have the power to stop development because planning laws are set by the state. Nevertheless, thousands of locals have told me they’re sick of negativity and the blame game. So I’ll be telling the UDIA, Mayors and other leaders present at the forum that we need to come together and focus on being flexible and delivering solutions rather than yelling at each other in an echo chamber.
Wyndham City is a more positive and solutions-focused Council today than 20 years ago so we’re well placed to call for a new discussion between governments, the development industry and the community about how we must be more flexible and better coordinated to plan and deliver community infrastructure.
Wednesday 11 October
Wyndham’s residents come from at least 120 countries with more than 52 languages represented. Our city’s diversity is our strength. As the Mayor and also Council’s Cultural Diversity Portfolio Holder, I’ve said before how it makes me proud how culturally rich Wyndham is.
A few weeks ago I had the honour of meeting students from the Wyndham Community and Education Centre and The Grange P-12 College who have taken a stand to make Wyndham a more welcoming and inclusive space. In a first of its kind for Wyndham, students were paired with experts in community development and marketing to tackle issues that affect young people here.
Over six months, students worked collaboratively to develop two campaigns: Australian and Proud and Stop Homelessness in the Home; looking at issues of discrimination, social justice, homelessness and mental wellbeing. Their efforts have resulted in two terrific campaigns currently screening in libraries, community centres and our local cinema. I’m glad that there are opportunities like this for young people to be involved in issues that are important in our community. This is how we can get a real conversation about social cohesion that cuts across generations and includes as many people as possible.
Wednesday 4 October
I don’t often use this column to publicise events already covered in the local media but this week I want to make an exception by promoting the Community Grocer which is an affordable, fresh food market run in collaboration with Wyndham City Council. I remember as a kid loving the fruit and vegetables my parents cooked, but in those days there was far less processed food on offer.
So the Community Grocer is a not for profit organisation that aims to make fruit and vegetables accessible for all and at affordable prices. They do this by running weekly, local, affordable produce markets. Every Thursday afternoon from 3-6pm the market brings more than 50 types of fruit and vegetables to a pop up market at Council’s Youth Resource Centre at 86 Derrimut Road in Hoppers Crossing.
Everyone is welcome at the market. All produce is Australian grown and fresh from the wholesale markets in the morning. The market tries to stock and sell local produce where they can from Werribee South. Credit card facilities are available and you’re encouraged to bring your bags to reduce plastic use. All profits from the market will be returned to the community.
Wednesday 27 September
Transport is a top concern of residents every time we conduct surveys. It’s hard to go a day without experiencing the downsides and the upsides of all facets of our transport system – whether this is cars, public transport, walking, cycling or parking. This is one reason the Mayor of the day is appointed to chair Council’s Growth and Transport Portfolio Committee.
As Mayor, I am joined by seven residents who advise and guide our advocacy for, and development of a better transport system. The Committee does this by providing input into strategies and plans out of the Wyndham Integrated Transport Strategy. A Workplan has been adopted and the Committee will consider draft Pedestrian Strategy and Bicycle Strategy soon, to be followed by wider community consultation.
Next will be the Wyndham Parking Strategy; options for grade separation of the rail level crossings at Werribee and Hoppers Crossing, and the development of town- centres around Regional Rail Link stations. We’re also looking at revising the ‘Get Wyndham Moving’ advocacy campaign and what future Council and community action might be appropriate in the lead-up to the 2018 State Government election. As you can see this is a constant advocacy campaign for our community.
Wednesday 20 September
One of the best parts of my job I get to hear about some of the great aims of tourism attractions in Wyndham. I learn a lot more than I do by driving past or being an occasional visitor. One recent example was our world-renowned Werribee Open Range Zoo.
The Zoo is a very popular tourist destination and is on track to exceed 600,000 visitors this financial year. Not only is the Zoo a major tourism attraction, it also plays a vital role with breeding of endangered species to then be released into their natural habitats.
I learnt that the zoo is much more than just a place for visitors to have a wildlife encounter. The Zoo takes its conservation role very seriously, which is probably one reason why many visitors leave with a stronger commitment to conservation and sustainability.
I was pleased to hear about the Zoo’s masterplan vision which will guide their future development and enhance the current experience, attracting more visitors than ever before. The Zoo has a significant economic impact and is a ‘jewel in the crown’ for Wyndham and I want to congratulate them for doing the things we see, and the things we might not see.
Wednesday 13 September
I believe the attention Sydney’s west gets from the Federal Government must be rolled out here in Melbourne’s west in the future. My view is supported by the fact our region will take the largest amount of population growth over coming decades as Melbourne becomes Australia’s largest city.
With about 35 new babies born every day in our region, our future challenges and opportunities are clear. It’s therefore sensible and fair the Federal Government plays an increased role to fund and plan future services and infrastructure here. As a region we contribute a lot to the national economy, and we also have high levels of disadvantage. Both require this new focus from Federal Governments.
All of these issues were major themes I spoke to as part of a LeadWest delegation of Mayors and CEOs to Canberra. We met key MPs, Ministers and Advisers on all sides of politics. We used the delegation to build understanding of the challenges and opportunities in our region, as well as to strengthen relationships with decision makers to share a focus on Melbourne’s west. Our delegation also advocated for a freight investment plan, funding via a City Deal for the west and other regional priorities.
Wednesday 6 September
Finally we see the first signs of spring with the fruit trees blossoming and longer days to get out and about and enjoy our parks and local markets like the new Community Grocer in Hoppers Crossing. With spring come two of my favourite Wyndham City events - the Healthy and Active Expo and the Pet & Animal Expo – both providing a great opportunity to get active with family and friends for free.
This year’s Healthy and Active Expo from 16 September to 8 October will feature more than 70 free events, clinics and classes, with everything from fitness sessions to cricket, netball, tenpin bowling and BMX. It’s a great way to try different sports to see what you like and, who knows, you might even find your new walking buddy.
On Saturday 17 September, your furry friends also get to be part of the fun with our annual Pet & Animal Expo, with a great line up of family entertainment, exhibitors, food and lots animals to meet. It’s also the perfect chance to ensure your pet has been micro-chipped with discount rates at the expo. Here’s to getting out and about with our families (two legged and four-legged) this spring.
Wednesday 28 August
I recently attended the RoadSafe Westgate Community Road Safety’s Senior Driver Expo assisted by Council. The Expo was held at Council’s Penrose Promenade Community Centre in Tarneit and was funded by VicRoads with support from Victoria Police. The purpose was to support older drivers continue driving longer and safely and I was more than happy to attend and lend my support to the expo.
Participants heard how to keep up with new road laws; ensure their health is as good as it can be; getting rid of bad driving habits and keeping their cars in good condition. Participants also had a free and confidential one-on-one session with a registered driving instructor to identify any ‘short cut’ habits drivers may have adopted over years of driving. Participants also received advice from professionals such as VicRoads Roadworthy Officers about how to keep their cars roadworthy.
It’s important for older drivers to keep their licences to more easily maintain family and social connections. The next Senior Drivers Expo will be held at the Melton Library in McKenzie Street in Melton on 28 October. Bookings are essential so if you or someone you know could benefit from attending, call Lynette on 9742 7534.
Wednesday 23 August
I was interested to see Melbourne win an award from The Economist Magazine as the world’s most liveable city for the seventh year in a row. While I do believe that Melbourne is a great city, and we have much to celebrate, the award made me pause to think about what different people mean by the term ‘liveability’. As a Wyndham resident for over 51years, I think our local view might be a slightly qualified one.
Although we’ve seen our area develop and offer more employment, cultural, shopping, tourism, sport and other services over this time, our growth pressures still affect the extent to which local families and businesses can enjoy their lives. Despite Victoria being the major destination state for intrastate and international migration, Melbourne’s growth areas such as Wyndham have shouldered a disproportionate share of this population which has not been matched by funding and integrated planning from other levels of government who have far greater control over population growth than we do.
So while I believe our area and Melbourne are great places to live, work and play, you will continue to hear me speaking as your Mayor for more funding and support to improve liveability.
Wednesday 16 August
Of Wyndham’s population of 217,122, the number of residents born overseas is 102,582. So it’s no surprise that as Mayor and Cultural Diversity Portfolio Holder, I attend and speak at lots of cultural events and festivals. One I recently spoke at surprised me because the majority of those present and the organisers were overwhelmingly women.
The Nepalese Organisation of Wyndham was celebrating Teej - a female-only festival which is an exciting time for women and girls to get together to feast, dance and wear their best red clothing. Our western suburbs are home to more than 7,000 people of Nepalese ancestry and so I was proud to be there to celebrate with women (and a few supportive men) the greater unity, understanding and other benefits we get from being a diverse community.
Teej also acknowledges what many of us already know and that is that women are often the lifeline of local families. Women also play very important roles not just in families – but in local businesses, community groups, sporting clubs – and really, anywhere else you might go. This contribution continues across all sections and cultures in our community and it’s worth pausing to celebrate the work women do here.
Wednesday 9 August
August is Small Business Festival month and my fellow Councillor and Future Focussed Economy Portfolio holder, Walter Villagonzalo welcomed the Minister for Small Business, Innovation & Trade, Hon Philip Dalidakis to this month’s Wyndham BizNet. With over 60 people in attendance the Minister was fully engaged with attendees, taking the time to speak to everyone on an individual basis.
Small business is at the very heart of our local economy with 91% of our enterprises employing four people or less. Just as Apple founder Steve Jobs started the business in a garage, Wyndham is home to many businesses that have the capacity to transition from being small businesses to major players in the future economy. Forums such as Wyndham BizNet provide a great platform for informal networking and developing and growing business collaboration.
Turning 20 years next year, Wyndham BizNet and the volunteers who have contributed to its growth are to be congratulated on the positive impact the forum has made and will continue to make to our local economy. Les Twentyman is the guest at the next Wyndham BizNet meeting and I encourage all businesses and those with a special interest in social advocacy to register at www.wyndhambiznet.com.au
Wednesday 2 August
I am a strong supporter and advocate for Wyndham City’s community centres. They provide many and various services such as kindergarten; maternal and child health; adult education; support groups; before and after school care programs; arts, health and lifestyles programs and many others.
I have a strong affinity with the Grange Community Centre as I advocated many years ago for the building of the centre and the development of the soccer facilities currently on site. The community, soccer club and Council worked very well together to build this new asset in 2005.
The Manager at the time – Maria is still at the centre and I had the pleasure last week to visit Maria and staff for a discussion on how the staff, community and services have progressed over the years. I am told the centre is full to capacity now and while I am happy to see many people using the centre I’m sorry to see others cannot due to high demand.
Council is investigating how we can add capacity to this great centre. I hope to visit many other community centres over the coming months and I am sure I will find many services being provided and also many happy users.
Wednesday 26 July
The State Government’s Public Transport Ombudsman (PTO) Ms Treasure Jennings recently wrote to Council asking for a meeting and our Acting CEO Kate Roffey, Deputy Mayor Kim McAliney and I met with the PTO recently. I still get many people approach me as do other Councillors about public transport issues.
Most people mention how they may have been treated by public transport staff, PSOs or about service and system reliability. So it was good to hear about the responsive complaints systems the PTO make available to local residents concerning buses and trains and for locals travelling further afield on trams.
We learnt that if you go to the PTO before you’ve contacted the public transport operator they provide impartial advice and referral information. We also learnt they only investigate a complaint if the public transport operator has been given an opportunity to resolve it.
It was pleasing to hear the PTO handles complaints independently and promptly, and where an agreement can’t be reached they have the power to make binding decisions. Council encourages residents to contact the PTO via a free phoneline on 1800 466 865 or via other means outlined at http://www.ptovic.com.au/contact
Wednesday 17 July
Council’s Future Focused Economy Portfolio Holder Cr Walter Villagonzalo last week joined Deputy Premier and Education Minister James Merlino MP, other Councillors and staff to launch building works for the new Wyndham Tech School at Victoria University in Hoppers Lane Werribee.
This State Government initiative will see students from 18 local secondary schools access cutting-edge learning with a focus on transport and logistics; health, as well as logistics, scientific and technical professional services and construction. The Wyndham Tech School will enhance the programs being delivered in local schools, and there’ll be a strong focus on industry engagement and partnering. Working through Council’s Economic Growth Department, Council has played a key role with Government, the WynBay Local Learning and Employment Network, LeadWest and local schools in developing the Implementation Plan which will ultimately see the $10million construction project completed by mid 2018.
Councillors and I are optimistic this new facility will broaden secondary and post-secondary education options for growing the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics skills of young people here in Wyndham. We would finally like to acknowledge the hard work and vision of past Councillors and staff who’ve also pursued this opportunity along with a supportive State Government.
Wednesday 12 July
I recently joined our Federal Member Joanne Ryan MP and other dignitaries for the official opening of the Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) Innovative Respite Facility in Werribee. This service will be of great benefit to our community, filling a gap that undoubtedly exists here not only in Wyndham, but also in our neighbouring cities of Melton and Brimbank. The Innovative Respite Facility will provide much-needed support to families living with Autism Spectrum by providing them with respite services, and also helping them to form community connections that will assist people to achieve their goals and a higher quality of life.
Based on our population numbers there are roughly 2200 people living with Autism Spectrum in our City, and 5500 across Wyndham, Melton and Brimbank. The opening also reminded me of many personal stories that I have been told including hearing about a Point Cook family with four children on the spectrum aged between 4-13. You can imagine how important it is for these families to have support in the community including facilities like this.
As Mayor I continue to believe how together we can all improve local life for families and so I was honoured to do the opening.
Wednesday 28 June
As Mayor I recently attended the National General Assembly of all of Australia’s Councils in Canberra with our CEO. We used our visit to work through a busy schedule of meetings with several MPs and Advisers to put our best foot forward for Wyndham. Our approach was a positive one so we spoke to decision and policy makers not only about our needs but also some new ideas about how to fix them. I’m confident we will see some strong results from these meetings and I will update residents on them as they happen.
I wanted to acknowledge our dedicated Council staff for the days of preparation they put into making sure I had good evidence and suggestions to put to people we met with in Canberra. The range of issues we discussed is staggering and too long to mention them all here. Some included fixing Werribee South Irrigation, the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road, the Western Interstate Freight Terminal, more support for public transport from the Federal Government, locking in funding for 15 hours of kindergarten for local kids, involving Councils in infrastructure planning early and lots of other specific infrastructure needs in Wyndham and in our Western Region.
Wednesday 21 June
With short days and frosty mornings, winter can certainly be a challenge. That’s changing here in Wyndham with a warming winter program of events and school holiday activities that encourage us to embrace the season and enjoy our city. As mentioned in this paper a little while ago, next week Werribee City Centre will be transformed after dark with Wyndham City’s Winter Street Party. This is a free family event with light installations, live music, fire performances, kids’ activities and traders serving up warming winter treats.
This year activities will be spread across four precincts - Station Place, Wedge Street Piazza, Watton Street and the Wyndham Cultural Centre. More than thirty businesses along Watton Street will be part of the event. Street performers and musicians include the wonderful Eshak Awi, and another highlight will be Sonic Light Bubble - a stunning, interactive light installation that wowed the crowds at White Night in Melbourne.
Bring the kids along and join in the fun from 4pm on Friday 30 June.
Tuesday 13 June
Council has recently had a record number of submissions on our Draft Integrated Budget and City Plan and will make final decisions on these at our next meeting. Councillors are delighted with the number of submissions we’ve received. I think this reflects the fact residents feel they can influence our decisions and growing community satisfaction with our community engagement. The range of ideas, views and requests tells me locals relate to a diverse range of services or advocacy that Council gets involved in.
The range of submissions cover the presentation of public areas including rubbish; road projects and repairs; ideas to alleviate the impacts of congestion; improved local parks, walking paths and tree planting. More libraries, community centres and sports facilities; encouraging more industrial estates near new developments; protecting the Green Wedge and Werribee South agricultural uses; better services for older people as well as people with disability; more funding for economic growth and job activities and Council advocating to the State Government for more police numbers and stations.
If you’re interested in our final decisions, come along to our next meeting at 7pm on Monday June 27 or watch the meeting streamed live by searching for Council Meetings at www.wyndham.vic.gov.au
Monday 5 June
When I was about 12 I remember living opposite Werribee Fire Station and hearing the unique sound of their old-style fire bell whenever an emergency occurred. So it was a great pleasure and honour to attend the Werribee Fire Brigade CFA Annual Dinner recently with my wife Pam and Deputy Mayor Kim McAliney. Werribee Fire Brigade CFA has been around since 1915 and I am told this brigade is the busiest volunteer fire brigade in Victoria and Australia. They not only protect the residents of Wyndham but also assist with fires in Victoria, interstate and overseas. They also provide training programs and fire prevention activities to the community.
Dedicated volunteers recognised on the night with CFA Honorary Life Medals included Darryl Wells for 55 years’ service, Heather Kendall for 40 years’ service and Sean Brittain for 35 years’ service. Belinda Craig, Adrian Kendall, Paul Ryan and Rob Mitchell all received their 25 Year Medals while another 15 volunteers received other Service Medals and certificates and 2 received National Medals. If you’d like to know more or volunteer at the much valued Werribee Fire Brigade CFA, look for them on Facebook or call 9742 7009.
Monday 29 May
Council has released pictures of what the redeveloped Point Cook Community Centre will look like and if you’re curious you can see them by searching for Community Learning Centre Upgrades on our website. We’ve committed to upgrade three centres in Point Cook, Wyndham Vale and Tarneit. The Point Cook redevelopment recognises that the population has increased by more than 20,000 since 2011.
You can already do lots of things at your local centres like catching up with neighbours and friends, learning a skill as well as paying your rates, registering your pet or submitting a service request. These upgrades will mean we can trial other services from these buildings and we are also considering bringing Council meetings to these local centres.
The redevelopment of the Point Cook Community Centre will mean there will be some changes to our services available. The Maternal Health and Child Services will relocate appointments to other centres during June and July. The Library will close on 23 June and reopen on 17 July, 2017. There will be no changes to the Kindergarten services. We will soon see construction start at Point Cook with the project expected to be finished by the middle of 2018.
Monday 22 May
Readers may have read about National Reconciliation Week between 27 May and 3 June in the latest edition of our Wyndham News newsletter. In case you didn’t, it will be great to see Councils, community groups, sporting organisations and many other residents and businesses join together to celebrate and build respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. This is very relevant for Wyndham given we have one of the largest A&TSI populations of any municipality.
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum that saw more than 90% of Australians vote overwhelmingly to amend the constitution to include Indigenous people in the census and give the Federal Parliament the power to make laws for Indigenous people.
It is also the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision when our High Court recognised that Indigenous people have a special relationship with the land, paving the way for land rights known as native title. The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2017 will celebrate these anniversaries. I am glad to see in my time as a community representative this week now has mainstream support and profile, including the highly valued AFL Indigenous Round which will occur during the week.
Monday 15 May
Last week I used this column to acknowledge the wonderful work that volunteers do in Wyndham and how we all benefit from the generous commitment of thousands of locals. As a result of this column a current opportunity for mentoring young men in Wyndham has been brought to my attention. It is so worthy I thought I’d outline and promote it to you and your family and friends.
What really got my attention is the fact this opportunity states that if you can be a friend you can be a mentor! Teenage boys (aged between 12 – 20 years old) are in need of a male mentor and are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, or find themselves in trouble with the police if they have a mentor. They will be more likely to go to school and develop good relationships with their family and friends.
I had strong male role models growing up and I know how important this can be. By connecting a disadvantaged young teen to a positive role model (you!) the cycle of disadvantage can be broken. I’d encourage you to contact Trudie at TRY Mentoring on 8545 9504 or email email@example.com you’re available.
Monday 8 May
Did you know every year volunteering in Australia contributes $290 billion to our economy? Add to this the non-monetary value volunteering provides to us and you see why I was delighted to host volunteers at Council last week to recognise their efforts as part of National Volunteer Week.
Council and the community rely heavily on the generosity and skills of people who give their time to help out others and foster connections and promote a sense of community here. Volunteering comes in many forms and there are many ways you can be involved in volunteering. You can volunteer for an hour, half a day or even 40 hours a week depending on your availability.
When my children were young, I used to volunteer in their sports club during weekends. When we first arrived in Australia, my mother used to volunteer as an interpreter at a local Court and my father was a volunteer at our local church. If you’d like to offer some of your time and expertise to volunteer locally check out the Go Volunteer website at www.govolunteer.com.au or the Volunteer West website at www.volunteerwest.org. You can also search resources and for Council’s volunteering opportunities at https://www.wyndham.vic.gov.au/services/volunteering-grants
Monday 1 May
With the recent adoption of the 2017/18 draft budget and 4-year City Plan, Council is now inviting the community to make comments or submissions. The draft budget features a record $133m to be invested in capital works, including $35 million to be spent on local roads, to meet the needs of our growing community. Residents can view the documents by visiting the website and copies are available at the Civic Centre, local libraries and community centres.
The State Government will have also handed down its budget for 2017/18 by the time this column goes to print. As I hold Council’s Growth and Transport portfolio, I am keen to see announcements regarding roads, schools, Werribee South irrigation, community learning hubs, public transport and other community infrastructure and job creation opportunities. In previous columns I’ve welcomed significant State Government funding for Outer Suburban Arterial Roads projects for the West, and more is needed. Council has been working very hard to hone our requests for project funding to support our growth including around $50 million for the Ison Road Rail Overpass and Duplication; $15 million for the Western Ring Road/Princes Freeway/West Gate Freeway/Western Distributor Interchange and Road Connector; $1 million for two road signal projects on Ballan Road at McGrath and Evergreen Roads and $100 million for the Western Interstate Freight Terminal. We also want to see rail track upgrades, rail station upgrades, level crossing removals, increased peak hour rail services and car parking as well as more bus services.
Monday 24 April
It’s great when Council works successfully with the State Government and the community to improve the quality of life of local residents. One current example is the Greening the Pipeline project which aims to transform the historic Main Outfall Sewer reserve into a linear parkland.
This project was also supported by the previous Council and Cr Peter Maynard who was Council’s Open Space Portfolio Holder. On Saturday 29 April from midday until 3pm we’ll hold community event to showcase the potential use of the reserve, and the future of the project at the end of Lukis Avenue in Williams Landing.
It’s great to see the overall project kick off with a pilot in our City and I’d like to acknowledge the funding that Melbourne Water received from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. The success of the Williams Landing pilot will hopefully lead to more projects to transform 27 kilometres of the heritage listed Main Outfall Sewer pipeline into highly utilised parkland.
Please pop down and join me, Cr Peter Maynard, Harrison Ward and other Councillors and community members and I to enjoy a free BBQ, live entertainment as well as face painting and other kids activities on Saturday 29 from midday.
Monday 17 April
I am looking forward to being joined by many community members of all ages to commemorate ANZAC DAY on Tuesday 25 April. I know that people will come together because it commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915. That day can also mean a lot more than this too many of us as it recognises the service and sacrifice of all Australians who have served in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. To many of us it also highlights the importance of peace and that we don’t want to see wars happen again.
As you probably know, ANZAC Day is a public holiday, with many businesses closed or operating restricted trading hours. The Werribee Returned Services League (RSL) will be holding an ANZAC March on Sunday 23 April leading up to ANZAC Day from 2.30pm from the Wyndham Cultural Centre on Watton Street Werribee. I’ll also be laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in Station Street in Werribee at 6.30am on Anzac Day. To find out what’s happening to commemorate ANZAC Day and what local attractions and services are open, search for ANZAC Day on our website at www.wyndham.vic.gov.au
Monday 10 April
Several Councillors have brought parking problems at local train stations to my attention following Facebook posts and contact from nearby residents over the last few weeks. All Councillors appreciate the frustrations commuters have with inadequate parking at train stations as we get contacted about the problems.
You may not know Council has done a lot to advocate for more parking spaces with some success in the past, but we have more advocacy to do. On behalf of Councillors I’m therefore appealing to everyone to show common courtesy and respect for the safety and convenience of fellow commuters and nearby residents.
Dropping people off on pedestrian crossings is not safe within stations or adjacent to them and parking in nearby time-limited parking spots for longer than allowed or in no standing areas where parking is prohibited is unsafe and inconvenient. Council, VicTrack and local Police have been targeting enforcement at these two stations as we have different areas of responsibility to patrol (within train station land and outside train station land). Please make other parking arrangements in the interests of safety and respecting other commuters and nearby residents and pass on this information to other residents and visitors you might know.
Monday 3 April
Busy parents might be looking for kids activities during the school holidays. If older than 12, your kids might enjoy our Youth Week Fest concert and activities on Friday 7 April from midday in Hoppers Crossing. We’ve got heaps of other holiday activities for 12-15 year olds in Hoppers Crossing, Point Cook, Tarneit or Wyndham Vale. Go to www.wyndham.vic.gov.au/services/youth-services for more information.
Structured activities for younger kids include Iramoo Community Centre’s school holiday program which will cost $15 per session for kids between 5-12, just ring 8742 3688 for bookings. The Wyndham Park Community Centre School Holiday Program will feature a Nature Walk on Tuesday 4 April and a Print on Paper and Fabric session on Thursday 6 April. Both activities cost $15 each and are suitable for Years 4-6, just ring 8742 3975 for bookings.
PyreWorks Studio will also be holding an Art Program for primary school children on Tuesday 4 April at the older Shire Office in Watton Street at a cost of $25 per child or $45 for two and booking can be made by calling 0478 626 147. If you’d like to know more about what’s happening locally, go to www.wyndham.vic.gov.au/experience-wyndham or call us on 9742 0777.
Monday 27 March
Council’s Portfolio Holder for a Future Focused Economy Cr Walter Villagonzalo, Lloyd Collins representing Cedar Woods and I recently launched the Wyndham Business Awards - now in their 23rd year. The awards recognise business excellence acknowledging its positive impact on the local economy. This year’s awards include new categories.
In addition to our Business Person of the Year Award, we will have an inaugural Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award – open to anyone between 18 and 30 who has worked in Wyndham for at least two years. Cr Villagonzalo also announced a new category reflecting our City’s commitment to a healthy environment hence a new Environment Award. In keeping with the vision of your new Council to be more innovative, we also have an Innovation Award this year.
A new Trade Services Award will focus on plumbers, electricians and builders and finally new awards for both Professional Services and Personal Services reflecting the rapid growth of Wyndham’s services sector. This year you can nominate individuals for the Business Person of the Year and Young Entrepreneur through our website – www.wyndham.vic.gov.au.
You automatically go in the running to win a family pass to the Werribee Zoo when entries close on June 16.
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 kms.
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.