Our community is calling for greater trust in and genuine engagement with our new council. 

Some specific suggestions are:
The reintroduction of open council meetings.
Holding council meetings in different towns throughout the shire, not always in Leongatha.
Setting up advisory citizens assemblies drawn from all walks of life, including youth and the disadvantaged.
A hurdle to overcome is to engage people who have traditionally not had a seat at the decision-making table.

Two areas of particular concern are the experienced voices of our First Nations people and the fresh views of youth.

We could address this if we appointed an Aboriginal Development Officer and a Youth Planning and Policy Officer.

It is critical that there is a specific person at council, whose role it is to coordinate outreach and engagement programs with our First Nations peoples and with the young people of our area.

These officers would be able to create direct links for Aboriginal and youth voices to be heard in relation to council matters. 

The idea of a Youth Council (Sentinel-Times, October 5, p:20) is excellent and could be one of the responsibilities of a Youth Officer.

These roles would ideally be full-time, but realistically part-time and could potentially share resources and support with our neighbouring shires, such as Bass Coast (which has both these positions). 

Our incoming councillors have all said they support a more open council that listens to all residents … I look forward to those words being put into action.

Anda Banikos, Candidate for Coastal Promontory Ward – Fish Creek