Bendigo Council should “Love Your Local”

Recently, the City of Greater Bendigo launched the ‘Love Your Local’ campaign to encourage us to buy local in order to help small businesses recover from the economic effects of Covid-19 restrictions. So we should. But it’s time for the council to practice what it preaches.

I asked the council’s director of corporate performance, Andrew Cooney, how much the City spent on external goods and services, and how much of this was spent inside and outside Greater Bendigo. External goods and services are things that the City contracts other organisations to supply for us. This could be things like:

  • toilet paper
  • food for events
  • architectural design
  • construction and engineering
  • consultants
  • telecommunications equipment and services

Andrew got back to me very quickly (thanks!) with this table:

As you can see, the City of Greater Bendigo spent about $108m on external goods and services in the year 2019-2020. Of that, about $53m was NOT spent in Bendigo or in the Loddon-Mallee region. However, the City’s own procurement policy states that ‘all other factors being equal, the City must give preference to regional economic benefit when sourcing products’.

The City should increase the proportion of money spent in the city and the region, especially given the need for the local economy to recover from the effects of Covid-19.

Bring Back Whipstick Ward Meetings

Ward meetings are an excellent way to ensure residents’ voices are heard by local governments. We should bring them back.

Being a local government councillor is not an easy gig, contrary to perception. From my observations and reading, there is a stack of stuff to read, and lots of demands on your time. Dozens of individuals and groups in the community want your support and advocacy on a staggering array of issues, ranging from a dodgy footpath, to a planning application, to action on issues that local council has very little control over.

It would be easy, as a councillor, to lose sight of what your purpose is. So, let me remind myself right here of what that purpose is. To be a faithful conduit between the community and local government.

Why is that important? The City of Greater Bendigo, like all local governments, is an institution and a bureaucracy. I don’t mean that pejoratively: institutions and bureaucracies are needed to get things done at a large scale – things that individuals and community groups can’t or shouldn’t do on their own.

But bureaucracies do have their downsides. The main downside that I see is that they get pre-occupied with internal bureaucratic aims, and this distracts from listening to those outside the bureaucracy. This is where local democracy comes in. For example, advisory committees and asking the community for their opinion on proposed projects are ways that the bureaucracy can get people’s views on their policies.

Local councillors play an essential part in this process. They should be continually providing ways for residents to give their views on what council could be doing, or what it could be doing differently.

THat’s why I propose bringing back Ward Meetings. These are organised times for councillors, residents and council officers to gather and discuss important issues in the ward. In the last term of council, ward meetings have been replaced by more informal “listening posts” outside supermarkets and the like. These are useful, but ward meetings provide a more formal environment for feedback to be given, and issues followed up by councils. I imagine ward meetings being held every 6 weeks, and rotating their location around the ward.

Who’s Who in the Whipstick Zoo?

Hello all. I’ve decided to do a “who’s who” post about my fellow campaigners in the Whipstick Ward. Why? If I am fortunate enough to be elected, I will be working with 2 of these people: it’s important for me to know their priorities and modus operandi. I have caught up with a number of them and I think we have a very strong group of candidates.

Of course, there are many differences between these candidates, and in the way they campaign. However, there is a large difference between 2 types of candidates. The first group puts out actual ideas that they want to implement. The second group simply alerts their audience to issues or problems and leaves it at that.


These details are gleaned from publicly available sources like Facebook profiles and pages, websites, and news media articles. In no way does it attempt to give a comprehensive and detailed view of their priorities – you will need to go looking yourself for those. They are listed in alphabetical order at the time of publishing, and then extras will be added to the bottom as they put their hand up.

(NB – I did not include “APH Researcher” in this list as there is almost no info available)

Name: Michelle Goldsmith
Byline: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice
Key Priorities: Health care; Infrastructure; Investment and job creation
Party endorsed: Greens
Whipstick resident: Yes
Run before: Yes (Whipstick Ward)
Day job: Registered general and mental health nurse
Facebook Page
Catch up with Dave: Yes

Name: Andrea Metcalf
Byline:
Strong Representation
Key Priorities: Community engagement; Supporting local businesses; Waste management.
Party endorsed: No
Whipstick resident: Yes
Run before: Yes (Current councillor)
Day job: Unknown
Facebook Page: NA
Catch up with Dave: Yes

Name: Pauline Murtagh
Byline:
Proud of Bendigo and the people who live here.
Key Priorities:
Community engagement; Sporting and recreational facilities; Dog parks.
Party endorsed:
No
Whipstick resident:
Yes
Run before:
No
Day job:
Community engagement
Facebook Page
Catch up with Dave:
Yes

Name: Jan Pagliaro
Byline:
NA
Key Priorities: Investment and job creation; Roads and footpaths; Bendigo Showgrounds
Party endorsed: No
Whipstick resident: Yes
Run before: Yes (Lockwood Ward)
Day job: Aged home-based care officer
Facebook Page
Catch up with Dave: No

Name: Malcolm Pethybridge
Byline:
More safer roads and footpaths
Key Priorities: Industrial land; Job creation; Bendigo Showgrounds
Party endorsed: No
Whipstick resident: No
Run before: Yes (Current councillor)
Day job: Retired
Facebook Page
Catch up with Dave: Yes

Name: Thomas Prince
Byline:
NA
Key Priorities: Waste management; Coles carpark; Hargreaves Mall
Party endorsed: No
Whipstick resident: Yes
Run before: Yes (Whipstick Ward)
Day job: Food delivery driver
Facebook Page
Catch up with Dave: Yes

Name: James Rouel
Byline:
A Fair, Equal, Strong Bendigo for all
Key Priorities: Covid-19 recovery; Major events; Empower the disadvantaged
Party endorsed: No
Whipstick resident: Yes
Run before: No
Day job: Manager, Bendigo Tennis Association
Facebook Page
Catch up with Dave: No

Name: Julie Sloan
Byline:
Kindness, Equality, Rationality, Non-Violence.
Key Priorities: Animal friendly policies; Waste management; Protecting Bendigo’s bats
Party endorsed: Animal Justice Party
Whipstick resident: Yes
Run before: No
Day job: Unknown
Facebook Page
Catch up with Dave: No

Name: Kathryn Stanislawski
Byline:
Working for Whipstick
Key Priorities: Extend the Bendigo vibe; Engage and Deliver; Sustainability
Party endorsed: No
Whipstick resident: Yes
Run before: No
Day job: Project manager
Facebook Page
Catch up with Dave: Yes

Name: Luke Martin
Byline:
NA
Key Priorities: Employment; Community groups; Heritage preservation
Party endorsed: NA
Whipstick resident: Yes
Run before: No
Day job: Secretary, Bendigo Trades Hall Council
Facebook Page
Catch up with Dave: No

Expand youth services at the City of Greater Bendigo

Council needs to expand the range of youth services it offers. Its current resourcing of youth services is completely inadequate.

My latest campaign proposal is to call for an expansion of council’s youth services, in addition to my recent youth employment proposals. I think that the city’s youth services staff do many great things with young people, such as the youth council and the Ambedo magazine. However, I think we should be expanding the City’s services to young people, particular in the area of generalist youth work. Generalist youth work is offered to any young person and does not have a particular focus, rather than those who need a specific service, for example homelessness, mental health or youth justice services.

There is a historical reason why the city does not offer many services. Local councils used to offer a stack of youth services, but then decided to contract these out to specialists. Consequently, many local youth services such as Anglicare and Headspace are focussed on young people with a particular need, such as homelessness, drugs and alcohol misuse, and mental health. These are fantastic, but after contracting these out, most local councils don’t give much funding to their youth teams.

For example, currently the City of Greater Bendigo allocates just $165,000 for wages to the youth team. That equates to about 3 full-time staff, and I am being generous. That is not nearly enough to meet the needs of our young people, who make up about 17% of our population. It’s a pittance. It’s small change. It’s insulting.

Among other proposals, I am calling for:

  1. An expansion of the youth team to enable better engagement with secondary schools.
  2. An outreach team of youth workers co-ordinated by Council to connect with young people where they spent time, such as skate parks, shopping centres, Hargreaves Mall, and public transport centres.
  3. An increased selection of free programs and events, which would be shaped by the preferences of young people.

(Image credit: Photo by kat wilcox from Pexels)