Our Democracy at Work
When most people think of Parliament what springs to mind? The argy-bargy as two passionate teams fight it out, talking at each other across the room with the umpire, the Speaker, attempting to keep control? This argy-bargy is a real thing and we were lucky enough to witness the theatre of Victorian Parliament Question Time firsthand. Thankfully this is such a small part what actually happens in the Parliament sitting week. As a group we were all privileged to hear about all the good work and congeniality that exists within our government.
During these packed two days we heard many different angles on how the government has come to be what it is today. The prosperous beginnings of the 1850s were on display throughout the heritage building. Even if politics is not your thing, it’s worth the time to visit for this alone. However, politics, as unappealing to some it may be, was presented to us consistently as a worthy and rewarding career path. Somebody who considers themselves an ordinary Joe can reap great rewards if they take up this civic challenge. This community service is extended to opportunities to sit on boards, with the common thread being the importance of being in it for the right reasons. A South West local who held a position as a Senior Staffer informed us during a briefing it was the best job she had ever had.
We had the chance to meet several serving members and their staffers over an informal networking lunch. It was a great way to see the other side of our politicians away from Question Time mayhem or the interrogation of a reporter. The resounding message was that effectively lobbying, and the best outcomes could only be realised through clear and consistent messaging.
These two days were a real insight into the workings and function of the Parliament. All of the LGSC participants gained deeper understanding into the process of getting things done and the path required to ensure action from our government. With Melbourne’s street art admired and dumpling houses raided, it was back to the South West we went.
The Power of Voice
When you think of the Arts what comes to mind? Beauty, awe, inspiration, intrigue, and passion perhaps. How about the power of the message, or the voice of the arts and what is conveys about our community? The Tin Shed Singers certainly have the power of voice, singing ‘The Warrnambool Anthem’ and ‘We are the Sheddies’ with conviction, vigour and joy. The camaraderie of what it means to be in a local men’s singing group was strong. The Sheddies are one of eighteen singing groups in the Warrnambool region and Phil Shaw expressed beautifully the power of community voice to transform lives and it made me wonder how strong our community voice is to do just that – transform lives.
As community leaders are we using our voice with conviction, vigour and joy to transform lives in our community? Are we harnessing the creativity and innovation within to ensure we have a thriving, vibrant, resilient community that embraces individuality and connects people through unique experiences? The Warrnambool region is certainly creating opportunity to do just that. The street art, singing groups, live performances, exhibitions and creative textiles are examples of how local, and further afield artists, are bringing a sense of pride and identity to our community. Using the arts to tell our story and to build the future narrative of who and what we are as community is to be embraced.
As leaders lets unite and gather, bring in and embrace the many voices to share the rhythm, beat and vibe; to embrace the unique, creative and innovative; to tell the stories and build a rich, thriving, resilient and connected community that transforms lives.
Kate Roache, 2019 Program Particpant
Keeping Our Community Safe
Everyone has their day in court…thankfully, mine wasn’t as a contestant it was as a LGSC reporter, I felt somewhat remote but none-the-less embedded in what seemed to me to be an often depressing and difficult scenario. LGSC 2019 Participants were privileged to visit the Warrnambool law Courts and see Peter Mellas’s Magistrates Court in session for several Contest Mention appearances. This provided an insight into how the criminal justice system works in Victoria and the challenging range of issues that are presented.
Outside the court, Magistrate Mellas spoke to us providing a wider appreciation of how the legal system represents a third arm of Government. We were also privileged to see the Koori Court with Registrar, Carla Sudholz who explained the significance of the layout and processes used. We all walked away understanding more about the diversity of issues within our community legal system and the challenges magistrates face in providing protection and support to the community.
Family violence against women and children was discussed providing both context and background for some of the deliberations seen in the Magistrates court. The figures on sexual assault are staggering. One in four women are sexually assaulted by the time they are 18 years old. This is not a stranger danger warning as 95% of all assaults are perpetrated in the family home.
Gender inequality is at the core of much family violence and the mistreatment of women. The responsibility for stopping family violence rests with everyone in the community. As a father / stepfather for five men between 22 and 24 years old, I feel a particular responsibility to challenge their view and ensure them some solid advice to help them evolve more balanced and ethical behaviors.
Our Speakers reinforced that we must be always alert to family violence and if we hear or see something untoward with a friend or colleague, we should never brush it off. The sobering thought is, that it takes 33 significant incidents of family violence before women may take action. Your concern and support can immediately save a life and / or provide the opportunity for children to grow up in a normal and healthy environment.
The source of much family violence and other crimes appears to be well researched and lays at the foot of either substance abuse or mental health issues. We learnt how widespread methamphetamine (Ice) is around the Great South Coast region. This insidious drug reduces inhibitions and brazen crimes are committed without the inner self control that we all have.
The role of keeping our community safe should not fall on the police or courts. In the case of family violence there may be few symptoms that something is wrong until the matter has escalated. It is everyone’s responsibility so we all need to step up and do our part and we should never allow it to become just another day in court.
Anthony Dufty, 2019 Program Particpant
Taking an Industry Perspective
Industry, economy, community and a sustainable future are all interrelated.
Having lived in Portland for the past 13 years I thought I had a firm understanding of the industries that reside in our town. Via our Taking an Industry Perspective Program Day I gained a greater insight into the extensive services and the scope of that various industries provide and the inter connectivity of them, their economic input and our community.
Keppel Prince, Portland Aluminium, Port of Portland and Yumbah are all local industries that are in Portland for many different reasons.They each play an important role in the local, national and global markets. Each work independently to produce different products and supply different services.
The Port of Portland serviced over 300 ships last financial year. Steve Garner shared the story and growth of Keppel Prince of the last 40 years and its links with Portland Aluminium and wind tower development.Portland Aluminium a subsidiary of Alcoa, manufactures 300000 tonnes of aluminium ingot yearly, majority of which is shipped to Asia. Yumbah produces 200 tonnes of abalone a year. 70% exported to the international market. They plan to expand their business which will increase local production to 1000 tonnes.
These statistics are significant for our community with each company being a large employer, the economic input to our region is significant.
We need a sustainable future for our region, could this be creating renewable energy source in the area. Could this be achieved through improvements to infrastructure such as road and rail?
It is the combined voice of industry and community that we to need harness as leaders. Let’s create the conversation both locally and at a political level to work towards providing a sustainable future for our region.
Nikki Edwards, 2019 Program Participant