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For a supported, healthy and connected community

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Katie George for Bakewell Ward

I am nominating as a candidate for Bakewell Ward in the 2020 Banyule City Council elections.
I am fiercely passionate about social equity, fairness, accountability and inclusion. I want to make a difference to:
- improve our health and wellbeing
- maintain and improve accessible public facilities and amenities
- provide and promote social cohesion through events and neighbourhood programs
- support the local economy and small businesses
- protect and beautify our local environment, and
- enhance our liveability by providing affordable and high quality local services.

I have lived in the City of Banyule all of my life, as have generations of my family before me. I have a young family with three children and my extended family, some elderly, also live in Banyule. We know what it's like to live, work, play in and travel around and through Banyule, at all stages and ages of life.

Our local communities have the biggest impact on our day to day quality of life. I strongly believe our Local Governments have the biggest opportunity to influence our quality of life.

Katie George - standing up for Bakewell Ward

I am committed to ensuring Council provides high quality and affordable services and public facilities to take care of all our needs. 
The current Banyule City Council Plan is well intentioned and considered, however stronger community engagement, consultation and participation will deliver better implementation of this plan. Our community should also be heavily involved to set a robust and targeted agenda for the next one.
Read below to learn about the range of initiatives and ideas that I am passionate about, linked to the current Council Plan. I am always interested to hear about what matters to our locals, so if you have something in mind then I would love to hear about it.

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People

People matter. People in Banyule make our community, and diversity enriches our social fabric. People know what they need and how they can contribute. Governments should listen to their people, and deliver on what they promise. (Or at least be accountable.)

The pandemic has introduced incredible pressure on people living and working in Banyule. Alongside concerns about health, and some sadly losing loved ones, the impacts of stage 4 restrictions have increased isolation, negatively affected employment and incomes for many of us, increased stress on children and young people with them separated from their social groups and left lots of us suffering mental health problems. For some, it's the first time that you might find yourself calling services for support.

Banyule City Council has announced some measures to support the residents and businesses in the short term and this is very welcome. But we haven't yet experienced the full impact of this pandemic and we're are going to be living a new normal. People have been stood down without pay, or let go from their jobs, or closed their businesses, leaving them wondering how they are going to feed themselves and their families, and pay the rent or mortgage. Some have lost homes. Many people who experience homelessness for the first time didn't think it could happen to them. Did you know, most people today are only three bad months away from experiencing homelessness?

I have first hand experience of the impacts above. The 5km radius around us at the moment highlights how important our local environment, businesses and communities are in our day to day quality of life. The Federal and State Governments just don't understand the impact at our local level. That is why Local Governments matter.

We need Banyule City Council to introduce local support services that fill the gaping holes in the social systems that we are coming to rely on more heavily than ever.

Banyule City Council can introduce a local jobs for local people initiative; provide employment through local government projects and programs and support those locals who are out of work to find a job close to home, or even to work from home. Banyule City Council could start shovel-ready projects and revisit its social housing plan to help end homelessness in Banyule and create local jobs.

Banyule City Council could work with the State Government to increase local community health services, including a focus on expanding free vaccination programs for when a coronavirus vaccine is available, and mental health and specific youth services. Our young kids are dealing with so much in their tender years and I really feel that there should be a strong focus on providing targeted assistance for them. Banyule City Council could expand the reach of social services for our older residents too.

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Places

Did you know that most of the residents living in Banyule, and Bakewell Ward in particular, still don't know what will be coming in terms of construction impacts from North East Link Project?

Without the long tunnel to Grimshaw St, an open cut trench is the current plan. The trench is from 60 metres to 100 metres wide, and will run on the east side of Greensborough Road. This construction period of 7+ years, and the divide from the trench, threatens the viability of Watsonia traders. Some are set to lose 60% of their business from the east. These businesses are already under pressure from the impacts of the pandemic. Some will no longer be able to operate and this impacts the trade of neighbouring businesses. 

The trench means that people living in Banyule will be divided and people will change their movements, recreation and shopping habits to adapt. But there are some opportunities to improve support initiatives for impacted activity centres, and uplift places such as Diamond Village, and try to find ways to reconnect our community across the west and east.

This picture above is of Borlase Reserve, Yallambie, before it was decimated by North East Link Early Works. If the State Government listened to its own recommendations on the benefits of a longer tunnel, then Banyule would be enjoying a fantastic number of places like this unimpacted by the project. Our parks are incredibly important spaces for exercise and recreation, and since we can't travel at the moment they provide spaces to simply get out of the house.

Our parks and reserves should be meeting the need of the local community, and Bakewell Ward needs some attention for the local families with children and grandkids. A regional playground that is easily accessible, with equipment and a skate park for kids of all ages and abilities, with somewhere for the parents and grandparents to comfortably supervise is top of my list.

All development should be sensitive to the environment. The local residents, businesses and developers should be required to maintain existing amenity and tree canopy. You cannot replace decades and centuries old trees.

Our Banyule places should provide everything we need within a short walking distance from our homes. For 60 years, my grandparents lived in Banyule, with no car. They, their children and their grandchildren walked to and from school and work, the playground, the local shopping strip for groceries and recreation. They managed to live full and healthy lives mostly all in a 2 kilometre radius of their house.

Imagine living in a municipality where there were community gardens and fresh seasonal produce on naturestrips, where fresh bread, milk, meats, seafood and eggs were able to be purchased from local suppliers at market prices!

Imagine waste avoidance from reduced packaging and spoilage and your organic waste collected for and used by the local growers.
And imagine for our people who have some mobility challenges, a food retailing and delivery service that comes to you, so they can shop from their front door.

Returning to planning based on a strategy of sustainability, environmental protection and the principle of everything within walking distance will give us a sense of belonging, community connection and stability in a time of such profound uncertainty.

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Planet

Banyule City Council is to be commended for its declaration of the Climate Emergency.
We need to get serious about this and quickly.
We are suffering worse bushfires than ever before; tree loss contributes significantly to increased surface temperature of the land where we live, and increases bushfire risk. Who can forget the feeling of being choked by smoke this January just gone?

Banyule City Council's goal of net zero emissions for Council Operations by 2028 is ambitious, but we're still seeing planning applications granted that remove trees at a time when Melbourne is set to lose more than 26,000 trees from the North East Link Project build. (North East Link will continue to say they are going to plant replacement trees, but this will not immediately replace the canopy we have lost.) Banyule City Council should be working with the community to retain trees, and where residents are concerned about their safety or seeking planning permits, the Council should be working with these residents to fund appropriate treatments that retain the trees in the first instance.

Our natural resources, parkland and reserves should be maintained, and planting programs accelerated. Opportunities to go green must be front and centre of all planning and development.

Community gardens and food security initiatives should be expanded by Banyule City Council, along with ensuring that all council run kindergartens and early childhood education services are funded or upgraded to increase sustainability, including transitioning to solar power and other renewable energy sources, bringing the kids along the journey as part of their early learning.

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Participation

I can see how Banyule City Council can support our community, and consult effectively to support local residents and businesses.
Genuine engagement with you is how Banyule City Council can deliver the services needed now and build our recovery plan.

Local Government needs to play a much greater role in building and maintaining our quality of life. We have seen the failures of governments handing out funds to the private sector to deliver services and facilities that should be the responsibility of the public sector. (Think aged care and security privatisation.)

A well resourced and community driven local public sector will enable Banyule City Council to be more responsive in supporting residents and small businesses. Some might say this is what the State and Federal Governments should be doing, but they are too slow to understand how our immediate communities need to be supported. Your Local Government can reach you faster, and has the opportunity for building a stronger relationship with you. Banyule City Council should work for you, and your councillors in partnership with you.

Banyule City Council advocacy should be properly representative of residents and businesses, by running active engagement, not just relying passively on people to get on a website and read content. There needs to be more effective initiatives to improve community engagement and consultation on decision-making. Open, respectful debate should be encouraged, and the community should be facilitated to pay a more active role, not only at Council meetings, but through Shaping Banyule projects.

I have the experience and knowledge to deliver an effective consultation framework, ensure that you are considered and that you have a bonafide opportunity to influence decisions BEFORE they are made. This is the way consultation should be. You know what you need. If only someone with the means to implement it was actively listening!

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Performance

Banyule City Council says performance is about good governance and efficiency; managing resources wisely to achieve Council's strategic objectives.

This includes services being subject to regular community consultation, high quality and value for money, delivering what is needed when it's needed, transparent decision-making and effective management of human resources and organisational knowledge.

Having a professional local public service that is well resourced to deliver support to residents and businesses in Banyule means better outcomes for everyone. Ensuring a high level of community participation drives good governance, accountability, integrity and transparency.
Banyule City Council is answerable to you, and the community should remind them of that, with their votes.

Support the candidates like me, who will ensure that integrity is paramount in all decision-making and that accountability is demonstrated by people taking responsibility for actions. Doing what we say we will do, and communicating clearly and early where there needs to be any changes.

Candidates like me, who champion leadership and robust processes, will drive a high-performance and productive council, that delivers high quality and affordable services.

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Bakewell Ward

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