Lesley Hewitt

December 2023 brings a time to reflect on what the year has been. For many in our community it has been a difficult year.

We’ve all experienced cost of living increases and interest rate rises. I know from talking to our small business owners that the last few months have been tough as a result and the increased numbers using our volunteer organizations such as the 5000 Club and the Good Grub Club are testament to that. The accident in Daylesford on the 5th November tested our community resilience and once again showed that our emergency services, our local people and others outside of the community stepped up to help and support each other.

Positive highlights have included our two citizenship ceremonies welcoming new citizens to the Shire, inducting Jo Pegg onto the Hepburn Shire Women’s Honour Roll and seeing all of our local events and celebrations continuing to bounce back after the difficult COVID years.

During 2023 Council has continued work on our structure planning – something that hasn’t been done for over 20 years. This work, that is being developed with community panels in each of the major towns, will determine the character of our towns for the next 30 years.

Council has developed a new Disability Action Plan, a first ever Housing Strategy and achieved the complex task of renaming of Jim Crow Creek to Larni Barramul Yalak. Council has continued to provide over 100 services to the community that we all take for granted – libraries, childcare and kindergarten services, sport and recreation facilities ( including our swimming pools), health inspections, community grants, sustainability grants and developments (including the new electric vehicle charging stations) and many more. Of course, there are always more services that residents and ratepayers want to see and need and it’s the job of Councillors to provide these when we can with the financial resources that we have. There will always be a shortfall between what residents and ratepayers would like and what Council can provide.

As we get ready to celebrate Christmas, which is now both a religious festival with an important meaning of hope and peace and a secular festival with a focus on family and friends, it’s important to reflect on the meaning for each of us, of that celebration. The Jewish community has just finished celebrated Chanukah with its message of light overcoming darkness. Peace, hope, family, friends, light overcoming darkness, all important messages for us all after the challenges of 2023 both locally, nationally and internationally with the continuing conflict in the Ukraine and the heightened conflict and tensions in the Middle East.

Whatever you celebrate and however you celebrate at this time of the year, I wish you peace, joy and good times with your family and friends.

Cr Lesley Hewitt is a Daylesford resident and an elected councillor for Birch Ward.

Councillor Columns are a regular feature in The Wombat Post. We offer this space as an information channel from Council to the community. Councillor Columns are not subject to editorial review by our editorial committee but are published as we receive them from our elected Councillors.