Mayoral Column 6 January 2014

Published on 06 January 2014

Happy New Year!

This first Mayoral Column for 2014 opens with good wishes from my fellow Councillors and myself for a bright and fruitful year for all residents of Loddon Shire.

Just as your Council looks forward to tackling the tasks the new year will bring, many of us are aware of particular changes and challenges that lie ahead in our individual and family lives.

May the best possible outcomes be yours.

Top marks for our volunteers

With six sectional scores of 100% in a recent Mystery Shopper audit, the Loddon Visitor Information Centre is flying high.

The audit is an annual feature of Loddon Shire’s membership of Bendigo Tourism, designed to give honest feedback on how the centre is presenting itself and its region.

Council Tourism Manager Robyn Vella said the Mystery Shopper was a professional assessor who could arrive unannounced and anonymously at any time during the year.

“This person will look at how a business operates its customer service at all levels,” Robyn said.

“This will take in phone etiquette, website presence, amenities, marketing materials, personal responses and more.”

The report card Loddon’s Visitor Centre received late last year gave marks in 10 particular categories, but awarded an overall score of 89%.

Areas which received 100% were the centre’s first impressions on arrival, presentation, amenities, staff awareness and activity, regional knowledge and departure.

Access, signage and parking received a mark of 88% and retail 71%.

“To get 100% in so many categories was remarkable for a centre that has so much more happening than just visitor services,” Robyn said.

“It just goes to show how professional our volunteers have become – I’m so impressed with how they conduct themselves.”

Robyn said the use of a Mystery Shopper would be developed further in Loddon Shire this year, using funding from Bendigo Regional Tourism, the new body established in September 2012 involving Mount Alexander, Central Goldfields and Loddon Shires and the City of Greater Bendigo.

“We want to provide the opportunity for Loddon businesses to identify weaknesses in how they present themselves and their products and learn how to improve them,” she said.

Loddon Visitor Information Centre volunteer Bev Robinson could well have been on duty when the assessor arrived.

“I’ve been a volunteer for just under 12 months and work there two full days a week, at least,” she said.

“We used to be in service station work, so I understand that if you do everything politely and correctly, you don’t have anything to worry about.

“I was very pleased when I heard the news.”

Congratulations to all our volunteers in the Loddon Visitor Information Centre for a job so obviously well done!

Australia Day visitors

Some highly distinguished Victorians will visit Loddon Shire as Australia Day Ambassadors this month, as plans continue to take shape for local celebrations of our national day in nine towns around the municipality.

Susan Alberti, successful property developer and a major supporter of juvenile diabetes research, will be at Wedderburn, while medical specialist and music educator Dr Yvonne Ho will visit Boort.

Mitiamo-born John Forbes, former sports administrator and Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation (Tynan-Eyre Memorial Foundation) chairman since 1988, will speak at Newbridge.

Author and teacher-librarian Nerelie Teese will be the guest at Mitiamo and Pyramid Hill, while Pam Adams, of Wodonga, named a Victorian Local Hero last year for her tireless volunteering, will be in Inglewood.

Businessman and philanthropist Phil Huzzard will speak at Bridgewater, Fire Services Commissioner executive Tony Murphy at Tarnagulla and Vedran Drakulic, humanitarian and CEO of Gandel Philanthropy, will be at Eddington.

Council calls the shots

Council’s latest free infant immunisation program gets under way this week, with visits planned to five centres around the Shire on a two-monthly rotation.

This Thursday (9 Jan.), immunisation staff will be at the Serpentine Council Offices at 9.15am and Boort Resource and Information Centre at 11.15am.

On Thursday 13 February, sessions will take place at Inglewood, Dingee and Pyramid Hill.

The cycle then continues in that order throughout the year. To make an appointment, please phone 5437 7999 or, for more information about immunising your child, contact 0488 095 205.

Water queries answered

Goulburn-Murray Water's Waterwheels caravan will be in Bridgewater this Wednesday (8 Jan.) to offer help with customer enquiries.

Staff will be available on-site to answer questions on  such possible topics as carryover and spillable water accounts, updates on water trading, farm dams, planning permits and storages. 

The caravan will be parked on the corner of Lyndhurst St and the highway from 10am to 3pm.

Picture yourself there

Take a photo of yourself enjoying one of Loddon’s rivers, creeks, lakes or weirs and you could win a $1,000 houseboat holiday on the Murray River.

That’s the prize in a new competition organised by the Victorian Government and the state’s catchment management authorities to support their “Love Our Waterways” campaign.

The promotion links in with the release of the Victorian Waterway Management Strategy, a new plan to improve the environmental condition of waterways over the next eight years.

To try your luck, submit your pictures via Instagram and share them on Twitter, Facebook or your chosen platform.  The competition ends on 31 January.

For more details, go to www.depi.vic.gov.au/lovewaterways