Lesley Hewitt

There have been two tragic events in our area in the last month – the death of a driver at the Daylesford Speedway and, this week, the recent death of a man allegedly set on fire in Wheatsheaf. Both of these tragic events have appropriate investigations and legal processes underway, however I know that many members of our community will be impacted by these tragedies in different ways. It is important to recognize this, support each other and reach out to services such as Lifeline on 131114. Lifeline is the first port of call, and they can make referrals onto other helping services if needed.

Daylesford has just had another successful Chill Out weekend and congratulations to all those hard working people who organized the fabulous events and who volunteered their time to make the festival a success. Those of you who are observant may have noticed as I did, while marching in the Parade on Sunday morning, that both the Australian and aboriginal flags were missing on the Town Hall. Sadly, someone unknown has, between Friday night and Sunday morning, cut the flagpole ropes and the flags have disappeared. Repairing the flag poles will take some time and cost to ratepayers, so we will be without any flags for several weeks. This along with the theft of the rainbow wings, made so beautifully by our young students, and that adorned the gates of the Daylesford primary school has marred an otherwise joyous celebration.

I joined several of my fellow Councillors, staff, and committee representatives and volunteers from ChillOut, Daylesford Football Netball Club, Daylesford Agricultural Society, Victoria Police and some of the local dog owners to see the Big Rainbow, a symbol of HSC’s inclusiveness, diversity, respect and pride for our LGBTIQA+ community and allies. I took my great niece and nephew to check out the Big Rainbow on Saturday and was amused that the 4 year old, rather than wanting to be photographed with the Big Rainbow, wanted his photos taken with the aboriginal flag on the side.

He had learnt about the Dja Dja Wurrung at kindergarten. So the Big Rainbow did demonstrate diversity and inclusiveness – at least for one 4 year old.

There has been some comment on social media in the last week or so stating that Council does not support Chill Out and other events. These comments are not accurate. Council does have an events

strategy that values the importance of events for community inclusion, well-being, and economic benefit. There are a range of levels of support. Chill Out, as a major Shire event, receives $20,000 per annum and in-kind support (like the planting of the crossing in Vincent St). Other events are also supported. If you are interested you can find details on the Council webpage, in the publicly available budget documents or ask questions of your ward councillor.

Much of what Councillors and officers do may not be visible to residents and ratepayers but does involve advocating on behalf of residents and ratepayers, putting the various concerns and issues to other organizations. In the past fortnight Councillors have spoken with the NBN Company, the  Northern Management Catchment Authority, AMEO and Ausnet to name just a few, putting forward the issues in relation to these organizations that impact us all. The results may not be immediately apparent, but the aim and purpose is to make Hepburn Shire a better place for us all to live.

The March Council meeting is on 21st March, 5.30pm at the Town Hall and will be live streamed on Council’s Facebook page. The agenda is available here at Ordinary Meeting of Council – 21 March 2023 (hepburn.vic.gov.au) Please contact me on 0408793941 with any questions about this or any other Council matter.

Lesley Hewitt is a Hepburn Shire Councillor for Birch Ward