Council puts spotlight on community needs ahead of Federal Election

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Initiatives to support community and business recovery, improve resilience against disasters and climate change, and provide access to the same levels of services and infrastructure enjoyed by other ‘metropolitan’ classified regions are at the heart of Yarra Ranges Council’s advocacy priorities ahead of the 2022 Federal election.

Council’s 2022 Federal Election Advocacy Agenda was endorsed at a public Council meeting last night, in an effort to secure funding commitments from the incumbent government and opposition for projects that would deliver strong social, economic and environmental outcomes for the Yarra Ranges community.

Yarra Ranges Mayor Jim Child said the Yarra Ranges had been significantly impacted by the events of the past two years, including Covid 19 and the June 2021 storm and flood event.

“As with many communities across Australia, Yarra Ranges residents and businesses have been significantly impacted as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns,” Cr Child said.

“What sets us apart from other regions is the further blow we experienced as a result of the June 2021 storms, which added strain to the mental health of many people already impacted by social isolation and disconnection during lockdown, and further crippled many businesses.”

Cr Child said Council had engaged regularly with the community over the past two years to gauge community health and wellbeing and identify areas of need.

“Our residents and businesses have told us that social connection, emergency preparedness, business support, mental health and wellbeing are their biggest concerns moving into 2022 and beyond,” he said.

“Council has already invested significantly into initiatives to support the community during some very challenging times, but there is still so much more to be done.

“We have identified a number of initiatives that would provide significant social, economic and environmental benefit to our community, but these are beyond Council’s capacity to deliver alone.”

In response to this, Council has prioritised its advocacy initiatives by focusing on three key themes:

  • Recovery – from COVID-19 lockdowns and the devastating 9 June storm and flood event.
  • Resilience – future-proofing our region from further impacts relating to climate change, boosting use of renewable energy, and building Council’s and the community’s capacity to plan for, respond to and bounce back from future emergency events.
  • Liveability – ensuring our ‘metropolitan classified’ municipality has access to the same services, recreational opportunities and infrastructure that our metropolitan counterparts currently enjoy.

Key initiatives include:

Roads for Agribusiness – $150 million to seal roads surrounding local agribusinesses to boost productivity and protect produce from contamination and damage during transport, while enhancing road safety and supporting tourism.

Telecommunications – calling for improvements to mobile connectivity in five key areas that have been identified as having low or no mobile service quality, including the Dandenong Ranges, Hoddles Creek, East Warburton, Steels Creek and Fernshaw. Council is also calling for upgrades to NBN broadband services in key areas with slow broadband service. These initiatives will be essential to strengthen telecommunications network resilience during power outages and emergencies.

Solar on Community Facilities program ($500,000 per year over four years) – an emissions reduction initiative that also delivers cost savings directly to community groups, enabling them to divert funds away from bills and into their core programs.

Mental health – an extension of funding for the Lilydale Youth Hub to support young people accessing mental health services, and expanded support for headspace services

Ridges and Rivers – $5 million to enable full delivery of Stage One of the proposed Warburton Mountain Bike Destination, and $4.9 million to construct section 2A of the Yarra Valley Trail, running parallel to the tourist railway and connecting Yarra Glen Station to Tarawarra Road.

Oonah Belonging Place – Yarra Ranges Council supports Oonah’s request for $10-15 million to construct a facility that enhances Aboriginal health and wellbeing across Melbourne’s east.

Cr Child said the projects identified in Council’s advocacy agenda would support the community to recover, rebuild and reconnect as a municipality.

“Council’s advocacy work comes at a critical time for Yarra Ranges,” he said.

“The support we are talking about is needed right now, and Council, together with the community and businesses, cannot drive these recovery efforts alone.

“This is an opportunity for the Commonwealth to fund the delivery of once-in-a -generation projects that will support our community not only in the short term but for decades to come, and ensure Yarra Ranges can bounce back and maintain its status as one of Victoria’s most loved places.”

For more details regarding Yarra Ranges Council’s Advocacy Agenda, and to view the full list of projects, go to

https://yarraranges.vic.gov.au/fedelection

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