Mayoral Column 27 March 2017

Published on 27 March 2017

Planning for a sustainable future

Are our current housing options positioned to meet the needs of our future population?

Can we improve the amenity and viability of residential areas through enhanced pedestrian and cycling links to community hubs?

These are some of the questions Loddon Shire’s planning department will be exploring as part of stage one of Council’s Settlement Strategy. The work will be undertaken in conjunction with Latrobe University with the support of State Government funding.

During April, Latrobe students will survey current housing infrastructure form and condition, vacant land availability and public realm linkages in Boort, Bridgewater, Inglewood, Pyramid Hill and Wedderburn.

Interested residents are welcome to ask students taking photos and notes in their locality about the work they are carrying out.

Later in the year there will be opportunities for residents to find out more about the research results and contribute to ideas about housing and settlement through a formal community consultation process.

I have no doubt this project is a positive step towards building sustainable, liveable townships which will support existing communities and attract new residents.

It’s a fabulous opportunity to look at ways to build healthier communities with pathways linked to key community assets such as the Inglewood Community Hub and Wedderburn’s redeveloped streetscape when completed.

Community consultation will be a key aspect of making the most of the research results and I’ll keep you posted as the project progresses.

Time to rally your mates together

Gold Logie winner John Wood is perhaps best known for his long running role as Senior Sergeant Tom Croydon in Blue Heelers.

But he is helping people “beat the blues” through his starring role in Carpe Diem, a free performance which takes centre stage at Boort Memorial Hall this Sunday (2 April). Doors open 2pm for 2.30pm start.

Carpe Diem is set in a fictional town in inland Australia which has been impacted by long running drought.

The friendship of Nev, a hard working farmer, and John, his stock agent friend, addresses the importance of mateship during hard times as both characters suffer their own personal crisis.

A further message underlying the performance is for people to learn and understand the importance of looking after their own mental health and wellbeing.

Following the performance, the audience is invited to stay for a 20 minute question and answer session, a bite to eat and the opportunity to meet John Wood.

A free bus service with pick up points in Bridgewater, Inglewood and Wedderburn has been organised to ensure all interested residents are able to attend.

Bookings for the bus service are essential. To secure your seat for this free, fun and informative event contact Stacey or Lacey at Council’s Wedderburn office on 5494 1200.

If the Boort performance date and time is unsuitable but you’re interested in seeing the show, please note that Carpe Diem will also feature at Kerang Memorial Hall on Saturday (1 April). Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start.

Kindergarten provides vital opportunities

Since 2013 families across the Shire have benefited from being able to access 15 hours of four year-old kindergarten.

With the current Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement guaranteeing these hours due to expire at the end of the year, I would like to take this opportunity to share some facts and thoughts on the matter.

Council is supporting the Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) campaign advocating for the retention and ongoing certainty of funding for a minimum of 15 hours of four year old kindergarten per week.  More information about this campaign is available at https://keepfunding15hours.org.au/act-now/

This school year we have a total of 58 children enrolled in five kindergartens across the municipality.  Throughout the course of 15 hours each week, these children are learning to build relationships, gain independence, develop their language skills and learn new routines.

Preschool enhances children’s educational and social opportunities and builds resilience. It is a cost-effective investment with substantial returns not only in direct economic benefit but also in improving education outcomes – particularly for vulnerable children. 

This time is perhaps even more important in rural areas where opportunities to mix with others may be limited through distance.

Finally, increased kindergarten hours offered since 2013 have provided additional employment opportunities within the Shire.

On behalf of Council I am taking this opportunity to express our firm belief that providing guaranteed access to 15 hours of four year-old kindergarten each week is invaluable to our children, families and communities.