Mayor's Message

Mayor's Message - 10 August 2018

I was delighted to attend the Gippsland Small Business Festival breakfast event held at Cape Kitchen, where we heard from an amazing presenter Gus Balbontin. In addition to his spellbinding South American accent, Gus gave a riveting account of how to be adaptable and maintain a competitive edge. His humorous and charismatic presentation really packed a punch in the way it deconstructed ‘the system’ and progress. I am sure many of the business owners and employees who attended took away a valuable lesson or reflection.

It was great to see two big events on our Community’s social calendar last week, one being the Newhaven College Debutant Ball held in the stunning Expo Pavilion at the Grand Prix Track and the other, the Wonthaggi Power Football and Netball Club Ball which was held at the Silverwater Resort. Both events demonstrated a great example of the community coming together in celebration. In the light of heavier days it was wonderful to look around and see the joy that these events bring. 

The past few weeks for me have involved many crucial and difficult conversations around domestic violence.

These discussions are not easy as they bring to the surface the reality that our society needs to change, and change starts with each of us. A part of the grieving process is finding an explanation for our loss and someone or something to blame. The reality is that Bass Coast experiences 50% more domestic violence than the rest of the State and we all play a role in both enabling and changing this statistic.

We discussed the domestic violence problem at the recent Gippsland Local Government Network meeting as it is an issue faced by all six Gippsland councils.

I also had the conversation with the Hon Natalie Hutchins, our Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence. It was wonderful to have the Minister visit the Island in recognition of our issues and to discuss the needs of our community. The government has a number of initiatives in place, which are aimed at cultural change and raising awareness of this domestic violence issue in the wider community.

One such initiative is the project Together We Can, which has been funded by the State government as a pilot program in Cardinia Shire. This is something I will continue to talk with the Minister about as there has been a 7% reduction in family violence incidents in that shire since the program began.

Our local community leaders are also looking for immediate tangible solutions, such as increased funding support for local families, and of course the subject of funding for a women’s refuge was mentioned – again and again!

Council will continue to advocate strongly to our State and Federal members to increase support and resources for our Shire in our battle to stop domestic violence. However, we cannot afford to sit back and let the burden lie solely with the government. Each of us has the responsibility to act and to speak up, to call someone out on a sexist comment, or to help a friend understand why their comments are inappropriate or out of line. 

Cr Pamela Rothfield, Mayor

Bass Coast Shire Council

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