IN the towns strung out along the Princes Highway, we have developments going up as fast as spring grass.
It is great that we are seeing people move into the area, but our council and government agencies must plan and invest in facilities which will support a healthy community.
Parents of kinder-aged children are struggling to find places and the facilities under construction will only just meet forecast demand next year. Adding to the pressure, one of our established kindergartens in Warragul will have to find a new venue in two year’s time when its lease runs out.
Did you try to book an appointment with a doctor this winter? Council is not to blame for a shortage of doctors – but it is a sure sign that our vital services are struggling to keep up with demand.
I asked my 12 year old son what the council could do for kids. He said: “Fix up the skate park and put the bins next to the seats, not out in the car park” and “Help kids find jobs when they need them.’” I started to explain that the council doesn’t have a role finding jobs, but when I thought about it, they do, indirectly. If a community is functioning well, people shop locally and businesses thrive. Business owners will have the capacity to employ more kids in that after-school or weekend job and possibly in the full-time roles that keep our younger people closer to home.
The council plays a leading role supporting the ‘health’ of a community. If a council functions well, invests wisely and listens to its constituents, then its projects will be seen as benefiting the community and confidence will grow. Alternatively, if a council is seen as secretive, controlling or ‘doing what’s best’ without consulting, then we lose a terrific opportunity to draw on the strong sense of pride and goodwill that has been the hallmark of our community for many years.
And about the bins: I agree with my 12 year old. At the moment, the bins in most of the parks in Warragul seem to have been put in places which suit the rubbish collectors, rather than where people might best be able to use them. The skate park is a mess and the bins are in the wrong place – this is not a coincidence. We can do more to encourage good behaviour by balancing the needs of residents and the service providers.
While we are talking about service provision, its time council took more responsibility and stopped blaming their contractors and key stakeholders for breakdowns in service delivery. Partnership is about sharing success and being accountable when things don’t go to plan.
The council has a leadership role advocating for this region as a great place to live and do business. The lack of protest from council about the impact of proposed cuts to the TAFE, including the closure of the Wattleseed restaurant is remarkable. The cuts to TAFE will have a far deeper impact than first meets the eye. TAFE is an engine room for employment in our community and we should not let the changes be rung with barely a whimper.