Christine Pruneau is passionate about people power.
The secretary of the Macedon Ranges Residents’ Association spoke to Esther Lauaki about what drives her.
What’s your connection to the Macedon Ranges?
I’ve lived in Woodend nearly 30 years.
My husband’s an American and we lived there for five years.
Woodend was heaven after Detroit.
Woodend’s weather was beautiful.
We’d brought a snow shovel back with us as a souvenir and were surprised at the prospect that we’d never have to use it.
How did you get involved with the residents’ association?
I joined the Macedon Range Residents’ Association as a response to what happened to the Malmsbury juvenile detention centre in the ’90s.
There were moves to offer this place up as a site for a new juvenile justice centre.
Hundreds of people were turning up to meetings to protest and you just got a glimpse into processes that weren’t good, and people power could do something about it.
Not long after we arrived in Woodend, the Woodend bypass debate started in the community.
My husband and I got involved with the Campaspe Action Group and were very active at the time.
It was a huge project that caused a lot of division. That was the introduction to a lot of things.
What do you do outside of your community work?
Whatever I get time for. We have a remnant of a garden left that I work on.
What makes you want to help the community?
It’s about people.
I once said to a parliamentary inquiry that I wished I had a dollar for every time I bumped into or sat on the phone with someone who was upset about how they were being treated.
There’s so much around us that disempowers people.
I try to explain to people what their rights and responsibilities are.
What government and councils, in particular do, can be so disempowering.
It’s the ultimate frustration when you can’t think of anything you can do to stop something from happening.
What’s your favourite thing about Woodend?
There’s so many dags who live here.
It’s fun to live in this community.
You never know who you’ll be talking to.
It’s all very grassroots.
It’s a joy to live here because this place de-stresses you.
There’s a beauty and a really strong sense of place that people have.
Which is why even small things can have a big impact.
If there were anything you could change, what would it be?
I’d give the power back to the people.
We’re living our democracy through this corporatisation approach, and it’s excluding people from decisions that should be theirs to make.