I have always been a believer in giving praise and thanks when the occasion arises. Individuals, organisations, communities and society thrive on being positive when and if it is deserved and appropriate.
The feedback that ratepayers and residents have given in annual surveys regarding Bass Coast Shire Council and staff has not always fairly represented the excellent service delivery and programs provided by well trained and professional individuals.
A one-off encounter that may leave someone feeling irritated or frustrated may not be reflective of the wider organisation.
Recently I took the opportunity, in writing, to pass onto BCSC CEO Paul Buckley, my praise of, and gratitude to, the team responsible for the PAG program.
The Program Activity Group is a Godsend to those who reap its benefit.
It is an example of BCSC rates and State Government funding working in tandem to deliver real benefits to local people who have specific needs. Often local communities unknowingly benefit when shire councils run programs that assist people to remain healthy and active.
Similarly the BCSC team of HACC workers are a constant source of assistance, care and cheer in the lives of so many.
The work they do helps keep people living in their own homes, as well as connected to community and happier in their daily lives.
The garbage/recycling contractors and teams of parks and garden grass cutters regularly turn up and do their jobs be it rain, wind or shine. Recently the shire works team sent out some workers to remove a large television that I had reported as being illegally and thoughtlessly dumped at the foreshore beach steps at O’Connor Road, Corinella.
The response time to my reporting the dumping of the TV, was well within acceptable time frames.
This is just a microcosm of my recent positive experience off BCSC at its best.
Disappointingly, I cannot be as praiseworthy of the councillors, who have undermined the process put in place to ensure that BCSC is in step with other Victorian Municipalities regarding accessible, user friendly, off leash exercise areas for dogs and dog owners.
Despite undertakings given at council meetings, a majority of councillors have not been as good as their word in ensuring that DAMAC processes have been held in good faith.
The result has been that councillors, who clearly had predetermined positions, have overridden democratically arrived at and considered decisions that the DAMAC working group came up with in relation to the Inverloch beaches.
It is tiresome to hear some councillors trotting out lines that are often insulting, unsupported by evidence and lacking insight.
As examples, we have had one councillor state that dog owners don’t have rights. My response to that piece of nonsense is that it is the responsibility of all dog owners to exercise their dogs daily to ensure healthy and well-rounded canines.
Many dogs are rescued from shelters and it takes patience to train and socialise them. To do otherwise is to ensure that dogs become unhealthy, unhappy and a problem of a different order in the neighbourhoods where they reside.
While it has become common for the ‘Off Leash Dog Issue’ to be described as ‘complex’ I would suggest that it is actually quite a simple issue that can be easily resolved by goodwill, keen and insightful intellect, able negotiation and cool heads.
On the other hand an example of a complex issue may involve long standing cultural enmity as in (a) the stalemate over the Israeli Settlements and occupied territories in Palestine and Israel, (b) the Balkan Wars, (c) the Islands dispute by China and Japan, and (d) the Islands disputed by China, The Philippines, Vietnam and other nations.
By any measure, language describing the decision making processes surrounding ‘Of Leash Dog Areas’ as complex is overstated in the extreme and quite absurd.
And finally we have the councillor who chooses to use language that is exclusive rather than inclusive. To accuse owners of anthropomorphising their companion animals (in this instance (ie) to ascribe humans traits to an animal) is to fail to see the relationship between the companion animal and their human companion as one that is mental health assisting and supporting, exercise encouraging, friendship generating, as well as providing a reason to get up in the morning and a consoling and understating ‘soul’ to sit quietly with and just be.
And if BCSC councillors doubt my position on the subject, I implore them to speak to the PAG Team and ask them about the importance of companion animals in the lives of those who they have contact with.
Alternatively, councillors may choose to avail themselves of the opportunity to stroll on a local beach midweek, when it’s wet, cold and overcast, and the only ones enjoying the environs are dogs and their companions. On such days dogs still require exercise, so responsible owners rug up and step out regardless.
Stephen Gough, Coronet Bay.