What’s your connection to Brimbank?
I have lived in Brimbank my entire life. In 1966, my parents brought a house in North Sunshine and I have lived there for the past 51 years. I have always been a strong community person and have had very strong ties to the Brimbank council, some good and some bad. I have attended almost all council meetings held over the past 20 years.
What do you like best about the area?
I really love the diversity and also the friendliness of people. I also am extremely pleased that we finally have elected councillors after a long eight-year wait. I really like the enormous offering of food outlets we have, which I think really represents the diversity of the area.
What do you think could be improved?
It is such a shame that we have so many new estates that have been built (and are still being built) on areas with a complete lack of infrastructure. We’re in desperate need of improving our public transport system, which is a matter the council has been lobbying the state government over for a number of years. I also think accessibility into shops and venues needs to be improved.
Tell us about your involvement with the Brimbank Disability Group.
I was one of the founding members of the group. The group started small and has continued to grow to be a very strong, united front, representing a wide range of people with any type of disabilities. I was fortunate enough to chair the group during its first three years. What was originally perceived by council as a threat is now the first point of call for any projects or buildings to be started. It is also a place where many of us have formed very strong bonds and friendships outside of the group.
What’s your take on how Brimbank caters for those living with disabilities?
Like many other municipalities, disability projects were bundled in with aged-care for many years. This did not cater at all well for people with disabilities or their families and carers. Since the network group formed, things have improved dramatically, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Last year, with a newly elected council, we saw a big change in catering for people with a disability. Council finally has a disability action plan and has also recently formed a disability advisory committee to oversee the implementation of the plan.
What made you play such an active role in the group?
I had always had a strong interest in the disability field. In 1996, a drunk driver pinned me between two cars, causing severe and permanent damage to my legs. Since then, my interest has only grown. For many years I’ve pushed the council for a sole group dedicated to disability. After five years of pushing, the disability group was finally formed.
You’ve led the fight to keep licence testing in Sunshine. What’s been your main motivation behind the push?
I was at a special meeting last year, when the state government applied to council for the land in Clarke Street to build the new Sunshine VicRoads office. We were told that licence testing and roadworthy certificates would not have room to be at the new centre and that another facility in Sunshine would be supplied. Unfortunately, they must have changed their mind. I started up a campaign to hold protest rallies and circulate petitions to get the decision reversed. I believe this is a fight that we can win.