We regularly feature a blog by a different Mayor on how their council is making a positive difference for their community.
Moonee Valley City Council, Mayor, Cr Samantha Byrne
Moonee Valley City Council is resolved to keep community advocacy front and centre of our agenda as we enter a generationally important election year. After two years of unprecedented social and economic challenges and in the teeth of the ongoing climate crisis, a strong focus on advocacy offers us a chance to get the best outcomes for community projects. We’re committed to speak for not just for Council-managed initiatives but for any project or initiative that has community support.
With the Federal election in May and the State election scheduled for November, Victorian Councils will have two major opportunities to bring pressure to bear on both senior tiers of government. In an environment where Australians have been forced to reckon with the impact of policy and planning on their lives to an unusual extent, and with control of the federal House of Representatives apparently up for grabs these elections will offer an equally unusual opportunity for communities and Councils to get their agendas ‘on the table’ with decision makers.
With this in mind, we will aggressively pursue the goals set out in our 2022-25 Advocacy Strategy developed in concert with the Moonee Valley community. This strategy informs and supports the goals of Council’s MV2040 Strategy, which in aims to deliver long-term prosperity, health and sustainability outcomes for our residents.
Our advocacy priorities include securing a local headspace facility to support youth mental health. As many of our vulnerable young people and families know, physical access to this federally funded service is subpar in the Moonee Valley area and a lack of Headspace facilities statewide has blown out response times from initial contact to first session nearly a month. This is an unacceptable standard of care for at-risk young people, and without a single headspace facility in our catchment area we feel the access deficit keenly.
We will also continue to campaign for a Western Gateway Train Station servicing communities and local economies in Airport West, Keilor East and surrounds. These rapidly growing areas run along one of Melbourne’s economic and transport spines but lack access to a dedicated public transport hub. With a site already zoned for public transport and the community clamouring for transport solutions, the time is right for a new station.
Council provided extensive support for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in concert with State and Commonwealth relief efforts. As Councils continue to play an expanded role in managing the pandemic and its outcomes, we’ll continue to explore how we can support the ongoing recovery for our local economy.
Equally, we recognise the continued importance of equitable access to information and public spaces for assembly, education and self-enrichment. Our public libraries enjoy sustained and passionate community support, which we will channel in our advocacy for funding for Niddrie Library.
The pandemic amplified a recognised need to provide all Moonee Valley residents with comprehensive, accessible outdoor recreation and sporting opportunities. In line with our long-term MV2040 Healthy City goals, we’ll continue to invest in local sporting facilities including an indoor netball/basketball stadium, activation of Windy Hill and soccer infrastructure.
In a similar vein and with the additional urgent need to protect and enhance our natural spaces, we will keep working towards conservation of our parklands, reserves and waterways.
We are also calling on the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing to install free Wi-Fi on the Ascot Vale and Flemington public housing estates. At the time of the last Census, 48.9 per cent of households on the Flemington Housing Estate lacked an internet connection. This compares to 18.3 per cent for the Greater Melbourne area, and 21.4 per cent for Moonee Valley overall. The impact during COVID, particularly on children and young people trying to access home-based learning, has been profound. Council has been working with the State Government to advance this issue and achieve fair digital access for residents.
We are proud of Moonee Valley’s unique history, our multiculturalism and our diversifying economy. As we emerge from unprecedented pandemic impacts to face the challenges of economic recovery, the climate emergency and rapid population growth, we are confident that an advocacy-led approach will see us well placed to achieve our strategic goals in the coming years.
Mayor, Cr Samantha Byrne
Moonee Valley City Council
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