Council to request changes to Windermere ward

Council has voted to write
to the Minister for Local Government, seeking the introduction of a third
elected representative for Windermere and to change the ward’s name to ‘You
Yangs’.

Windermere ward councillors Anthony Aitken and Kylie Grzybek
raised the notice of motion at the 30 July council meeting, requesting an equal
number of councillors across all four wards be introduced for the 2020 General
Election.

In their notice of motion, councillors Aitken and Grzybek pointed
out that Windermere is the only ward with two councillors, despite having the
largest land mass of all Greater Geelong wards and experiencing some of the
highest levels of disadvantage.

Council acknowledges
that Minister Adem Somyurek has proposed to address this issue with the
re-introduction of individual wards within Victorian councils, however it’s
believed these reforms will not be introduced until the 2024 General Election.

Councillors Aitken and Grzybek have canvassed many members of
their ward and have found the community has no connection with the Windermere
name.

‘You
Yangs’ is derived from Wurdi Youang or Ude Youang, the Aboriginal names given
to the area that hold a number of meanings including ‘big mountain in the
middle of a plain’, ‘big or large hill’, or ‘bald’. Council agreed the
community would identify more strongly with this name, therefore improving
engagement and understanding
of the local government system.

Mayor Bruce Harwood will also write to all Victorian state parliamentary elected
officials in the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council whose electorates
are covered by the City, seeking their support for the two proposals.

Councillor Anthony Aitken,
Windermere Ward:

Kylie
and I believe it’s an anomaly in our current system that our community in the
north doesn’t have an equal number of representatives on the council to
residents in the rest of the Greater Geelong region.

We’ve canvassed this issue with our councillor colleagues for a number of
months. We respect that it will cause some change in the electoral boundaries
if it is adopted, which may be unsettling for some councillors. But Kylie and I
strongly believe that the need for equal representation in Geelong is more
paramount than concerns about changes in electoral boundaries.

The fact that the most disadvantaged areas in our region are within this ward
is another strong argument that there should be equal representation.

It comes down to the question of how many voices our northern communities have
at the table, and at this point in time there are only two voices. We’re
therefore calling on the Minister for Local Government to use his legislative
and regulatory powers to address this for the 2020 Council elections.

Another significant reform for our northern community in Geelong is the naming
of the ward. The You Yangs are the most powerful geographical symbol we have in
the north of Geelong, and the proposed new name would give residents a stronger
connection to their ward by its naming after this aboriginal language derived
place name.

Councillor Kylie Grzybek, Windermere
Ward:

This
motion is about fairness. We need a fair and transparent system. My community has
two votes, and the other parts of the Greater Geelong community have three.
That is simply not fair.

We need equal representation across the City of Greater Geelong.

The You Yangs name would be a respectful, iconic and culturally appropriate
place for our ward to be named after.

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