Cr Brian Hood

The key decisions taken at last month’s Council meeting have predictably attracted much attention in the community. The proposed rollout of a FOGO service early next year is broadly welcomed but as expected will necessitate a comprehensive education program beforehand.

Similarly, the Affordable Housing Strategy was well received and attracted media attention. Together with Mr. Lucas I met recently with our state member of parliament Mary-Anne Thomas to further discuss the housing crisis in our Shire and the process to benefit from state government programs and funds to address housing post cancellation of the Commonwealth Games.

We expressed our concern with the lack of consultation afforded to local government before the announcement of the short stay accommodation levy. In its current form the levy stands to do nothing constructive for Hepburn Shire’s housing problem as the funds raised will be directed 75% to the Melbourne metropolitan area and 25% to anywhere in regional Victoria.

A key topic of conversation was again advocacy for greater road funding and a more urgent response from RRV to remedy their portion of the road network. The recent announcement of priority works on the Daylesford-Trentham and Ballan-Daylesford roads is most welcome.

The past month has included Council’s first agriculture forum, which was both well attended and informative, a meeting of the Reconciliation Advisory Committee and the commencement of a series of community engagement sessions on our critically important work to prepare contemporary town structure plans. The energy and enthusiasm displayed by community members of those groups must be harnessed as their aspirations for our towns will significantly guide us in preparing those plans. I take this opportunity to acknowledge not only their work but that of officers and subject matter experts engaged to assist in that process.

I also commend officers for the work to raise community awareness of the looming fire season and the need for preparation. November’s free green waste initiative is an important element to that preparedness.

The past month contained some very welcome good news. Daylesford Historical Society and Uncle Rick Nelson were awarded and recognised for the brilliant Corranderk Portraits display shown during Reconciliation Week; the Trentham & Districts Historical Society were nominated for their “Trentham Story” display at the old jail complex; Creswick Lions celebrated their 50th anniversary of supporting the community; and the valuable community work undertaken by eminent local Max Primmer was recognised in the state’s Ageing Well award. Congratulations to all for your wonderful contributions to the fabric of our communities.

I will conclude this report on a sombre note. Council proudly adopted a positive position on the Voice referendum. The failure to alter the Australian Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia is a lost opportunity to set things right. It must be recognised that the rejection of the opportunity to demonstrate inclusiveness, respect, justice and equity for all Australians and to address historical inequality will have far-reaching consequences for many in our community.

A question would be – Where to from here on Indigenous suicide rates, incarceration, health outcomes, education, job prospects and, more broadly, the chance for First Nations people to chart their own course ?

The referendum result must cause anguish and distress. Council has done the right and respectable thing to reinforce its values and directions and to be cognisant of people’s wellbeing at this time. And to have reinforced its unwavering commitment to reconciliation. As Mayor it is my privilege to chair Council’s Reconciliation Advisory Committee.

My message to Dja Dja Warrung people and everyone else in the Shire is that reconciliation is not dead… least not in Hepburn Shire.


Cr Brian Hood is the elected Councillor for Coliban Ward and is currently the Mayor of Hepburn Shire.

We offer this space as an information channel from Council to the community. Councillor Columns and Mayor’s Messages are not subject to editorial review by our editorial committee but are published as we receive them from our elected Councillors.

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