Mayoral Matters

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I know many of you are looking forward to Australia Day celebrations on Wednesday. This is a day that I really relish as Mayor because it brings to the forefront some of the finest exemplars of community spirit and citizenship in our community. My fellow councillors and I are very excited to be announcing and congratulating the award winners.

Australia Day festivities will kick off at 8am in St Arnaud with a free breakfast before the awards and flag raising ceremonies. Events will then run throughout the day across several towns in our shire culminating in Stawell’s Australia Day awards and citizenship ceremonies. It is a great day out for the family with activities, entertainment and plenty of food options to share. Keep an eye out for posters around town, check out the program on our digital screens in front of Stawell and St Arnaud town halls or read all about the day’s proceedings on our website. It is always a wonderful experience to celebrate our achievements together and welcome our newest residents during this national holiday so if you’re fit and well and nearby, please come and join us. And if you’re not, please tune into the live stream on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/ngshire

Speaking of staying at home, I know quite a few households in the shire that have had enforced time off with family members isolating due to Covid. I thank you for being responsible and staying home when you were unwell regardless of whether you were able to get a confirmed positive PCR result or the very hard to source, at home RAT test. To everyone else, thanks for continuing to follow the rules and maintaining your hygiene in the face of this latest uptick in Coronavirus cases. By all accounts, it appears as if we may be over the worst of this latest wave with new case numbers now on a downturn.

On that note, please remember that the knock-on effect of our current Coronavirus wave is a surge of inpatients requiring care at hospital. The Victorian hospital system is now in a Code Brown alert phase and I ask you all to do your part to not overwhelm our hospital system and speak to your GP or pharmacist first about your health concerns so our hospitals can prioritise critical treatment of intensive care patients during this period.

Lastly, not unlike our shire students and Back to School, we at Council can certainly feel the excitement mounting about “Back to Council”. We will reconvene online for our first Council Meeting this year on Monday 7 February. This meeting will be live streamed to keep everyone safe until restrictions for social distancing in indoor settings ease. Stream details and the agenda will be available on Monday 31 January; see our website www.ngshire.vic.gov.au/CouncilMeetings . It is going to be a busy quarter for us working through our Council Action Plan and responding to recommendations many of which are based on contributions from you, our citizens, during community engagement for which I thank you; it’s very important to our decision-making process that you have your say.

Wishing everyone a safe, happy and productive year ahead with the utmost optimism that our lives will return to a normal phase very soon.

See you online and out and about in 2022!

CR TONY DRISCOLL

Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor

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