Facebook News Block

Like many non-news sites, my councillor Facebook page has been blocked today. If you visit it, you’ll be able to see some general information but no posts. Many health-related and government pages were blocked, although some have been restored. For example, the City of Greater Bendigo page was blocked for a time, but is now restored, and I hope Facebook sorts out the health-related and government sites pronto, especially as a vaccine is starting to roll-out.

That my page has been blocked is not a big deal, in my opinion. I’m still on Instagram and I have a website, so my ability to communicate with the public through online media has hardly been compromised. But it has given me pause to consider how I communicate with people online. Even though my councillor page is not a news site, I often link to local news sites and give a related comment. As far as I understand it, these posts would be invisible because they are linking to a news site. So, I will start putting a bit more content up on this website. If you want to be notified each time I do that, then you’ll need to plug your email into the widget on the right of screen where it says “Get new posts by email.”

Reflecting more widely on the actions by Facebook, I hope that it will drive people to visit the actual websites of news organisations. Sure, you may not be able to comment on the news article, but the ability to discuss issues on Facebook is overrated – it is rare that you see a respectful yet robust discussion. Can I encourage people, when they visit a news website, to consider paying for its content, or even buying a hard copy version? It’s the only way that we’ll continue to have any journalism worth the name in Australia. Right now, our local daily newspaper is charging $3 per week to view all its content online – I know many are doing it tough, but that is cheap as chips for media content.

Long Gully community meeting – May 2021

Hi all – we have an upcoming community engagement opportunity. There will be a Long Gully community meeting soon. There will be feedback from councillors about what is going on in “council land”, as well as an opportunity for a few local issues to be discussed. If you have an idea for one of these discussion spots, then please get back to me ASAP. You can email on d.fagg@bendigo.vic.gov.au or phone on 0437 892 918.

DETAILS
Date: Monday 24th May
Time: 7.30pm – 9pm
Address: Long Gully Community Centre, 23-29 Havilah Rd, Long Gully.

REGISTRATION
You do need to register for this event, either by calling 5434 6000, or online here.

Council Report – April 2021

I hope you are all doing well, and had a lovely Easter and/or school holidays. This is my brief report for the April 2021 council meeting. This is a very short summary of the work that a councillor does, but I hope it give you a picture of what I’ve been up to.

[IMAGE: Artists Bree Galvin and Barb Fordham had their works feature on the front covers of two of the What I Did Last Week volumes. Picture: CHRIS PEDLER, Bendigo Advertiser]

Events

  • Listening post at Epsom: two of our youth councillors attended, including the Youth Mayor Jack Smith – thank you for being there!
  • Opening of the Shine Bright early years centre at the new Westbury housing development in Maiden Gully.
  • Book launch at Dudley House of CoGB Covid 19 art project  – “What I did last week” – excellent art work
  • Onsite meeting at Victoria Hill to progress conservation plan
  • Season launch of Eaglehawk Football Netball Club
  • Long Gully community plan working group
  • Ironbark Gully Friends working bee
  • Play in the Garden –  this was an event to celebrate National Playgroup Week at the Garden of the Future. I would particularly like to thank the woman who shouted my 2 year old a sausage after I realised I had no cash…parenting fail.

Selected Resident conversations

  • Historical preservation – the need for a Goldfields research and learning centre which would incorporate displays of the significant collections that exist, as well as space for historical research and opportunities for learning the archival sciences, and preservation skills.
  • Noise nuisance is a common issue that I am talking with residents about. There is a need to review the way that evidence for noise complaints is collected, and what actions can be taken to ensure noise in residential areas is reasonable.

Housing Supply

Lastly, I want to raise the issue of housing supply. Obviously we need more housing, especially affordable housing. There are insistent calls by various groups to increase housing supply by “streamlining” planning processes so that large housing developments can be approved more quickly. For example, NAB chief executive Ross McEwan recently told parliament that planning rules should be “revamped” to this effect. However, as a council, we already have very little control over large housing developments. Streamlining planning for housing developments runs the risk of housing estates galloping ahead of the other infrastructure and services that are needed for healthy neighbourhoods. Furthermore, Bendigo still has about 660 hectares of vacant residential-zoned land within our urban growth boundary. We are hardly in urgent need of more greenfields developments. We need to think seriously about how we advocate for stronger local influence in housing development.

Council Report – March 2021

Hi all. The last couple of months has been busy as usual, full of meetings with local residents, reading up on policies and strategies that council is pursuing, and thinking through the “bigger picture” issues. Here is a snapshot of that time.

I chaired, for the first time, our municipal fire management committee – it was excellent to connect with so many qualified people who are working together to ensure we are prepared for fire in our region.

The Budget. You may have heard it said that Budgets are not just financial documents, but “moral” documents. That is, they say something about what we value. It has been a challenge to work through the balancing act of following through on past decisions, acknowledging the effects of Covid-19 on the local economy, and advocating for projects that are supported by our community. As we wrangle over what is in and out, we need to keep in mind that the end product will communicate our priorities as a council. I will be advocating for increased youth services, resources to ensure councillor’s are supported to engage with the community, and improvements to our open spaces.

I took part in a tour of some of the city’s swimming pools. There are difficult decisions to make regarding the number and maintenance of our pools, and ensuring there is fairness in access to pools. As councillors I think we need to start ramping up the discussions we are having with the community about the future of our pools. There are hard decisions to be made and our community needs to understand the rationale for them.

I attended the season launch of the Eaglehawk Football Netball Club. It was fantastic to experience the excitement of members as they anticipated returning to a season of club sport after being denied the opportunity last year. The club is a great example of a community club that is run professionally.

I am encouraged that the beginnings of a process for a community plan in Long Gully have begun. I was at the first meeting of a small working group is beginning to emerge – this working group will enable community input into a plan for the Long Gully neighbourhood, which is long overdue. I wish the working group all the best as they begin their work.

Finally, I want to recognise the Loddon Consortium for Gender Equality and Violence Prevention, who organised the March 4 Justice in Rosalind Park. The event was not a party political event, but a simply and powerful call to end violence, harassment and sexual assault against women. I was pleased to be able to attend and listen to the many insightful and courageous speakers.

(Photo Credit: Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser)

Have you been invited?

Have you got an envelope in the letterbox that looks like the one in the photo? If so, then congratulations! You have been randomly invited to put your name forward for a “community panel”. What is this “community panel”? It is part of the Imagine Greater Bendigo project that is happening at the moment, which is all about planning for Bendigo’s future.

If you have received an invitation, you can put your name forward to express interest, and then out of those people who have expressed an interest, 50 people will be selected to be on the panel. You’ll consider feedback received from the community, and help to form a community vision as well as considering how council will achieve this vision.

Being a panel member is a challenging yet exciting opportunity. You’ll be asked to help decide our goals for the future, but also consider the difficult elements of achieving those goals. What goals should be prioritised? What’s most important to invest money and time in? What do these choices mean for other council services? These are the questions that councillors and council wrestle with every day, and you’ll have input into this process.

I encourage you, if you’ve received an invitation, to strongly consider putting in an expression of interest. You have until March 28th to do so. If you’d like to have a chat with me first, please email me on d.fagg@bendigo.vic.gov.au.