PO Box 348
Huntly, Victoria, 3551
3 September 2020
Re: Continuing support for our local businesses.
Open letter to all Councillors
All our local businesses make a major contribution to the ‘Bendigo Vibe’ that we all love, and a key contributor to this is the hospitality and arts sector. But, undeniably, it is this sector that is taking a huge hit right now due to the impact of COVID-19 and the associated, important, restrictions on our lifestyle.
I understand that you are taking a number of measures to support local business owners, and much of this is outlined in your COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Plan, and the 2020-21 budget. It is clear many of these measures are effective and well received, however, there is also opportunity to provide additional clarity for this sector regarding your offer of support, and the extent to which it applies.
I refer specifically to the Relief and Recovery Plan which ambiguously states:
· “A number of business/commercial related fees and charges will be waived and reduced to support hospitality and other businesses over the coming 12 months”.
· “Council has frozen 500+ fees and charges to 2019/2020 levels for the 2020/2021 financial year”.
Having recently spoken to a number of small business owners, and hearing about the challenges they are facing, they have highlighted the uncertainty and worry that potentially impending fees and charges are causing them.
At the moment, I don’t think the information available from Council is clear and easily accessible to all. Specifically, I am wondering:
- Where Council has documented exactly which rates, fees and charges have been postponed, reduced or waivered, and under what circumstances these apply and/or need to be paid by?
- Whether Council has considered its capacity to waive, rather than defer or reduce, some additional rates, fees and charges that apply to local businesses which have had no, or significantly reduced, income associated with the onset of the Pandemic?
- Do Council have a clear Financial Hardship Policy and clear application process to access associated assistance?
As a candidate for the upcoming elections, and speaking with many members of the community, this is an issue that has consistently been raised. I also appreciated the opportunity to raise this issue with the Whipstick Ward Councillors at the Budget Priorities forum on the 2/9/2020.
During these times, uncertainty is amongst us all, and as we reach the end of the first quarter of the financial year local businesses will again be looking ahead and planning for their future. Their decisions must be guided by clarity and support that is commensurate with the high level of value they provide our community and the role they play, in creating the Bendigo Vibe that we all cherish.
Phone: 0429 981 475
Facebook: Kathryn Stanislawski in Whipstick Ward
PO Box 348
Huntly, Victoria, 3551
Open letter to all Councillors
16 August 2020
Re: Greater Bendigo Community Aquatic Facilities Strategy, 30 June 2020
I am writing in reference to the Community Aquatic Facilities Strategy (CAFS), recently released on your website for public comment, with submissions closing on the 14 August 2020. I feel your feedback mechanism was limiting in its capacity for community members to respond, and accordingly provide the following additional information.
I understand that there are a range of competing needs across our municipality, and that the City of Greater Bendigo has an obligation to ensure the facilities it provides remain safe, suitable and equitable, and that strategies such as the Community Aquatic Facilities Strategy are used to guide [what can often be challenging] decision making. However, in its current state, the Community Aquatic Facilities Strategy is unable to effectively inform these decisions.
The context of Greater Bendigo and its unique needs are poorly articulated, particularly when comparing our city to other rural cities.
Comparing Bendigo to Mildura and Wangaratta doesn’t seem relevant given that these are both located on rivers which are highly valued by their community through integration into their town planning for ease of access and use (the same cannot be said for our Campaspe River, a highly under-recognised asset with great potential).
In addition, given this strategy has a 2020-2030 timeframe, using our current population to generate the average number of residents per facility seems illogical. Investment in facilities such as these, be it maintenance, renewal or complete remodel - is long term, indeed the current pools have remained in operation for > 50 years. Accordingly, it would make more sense to consider the potential usage for the predicted population – 155,000 in 2035, which equates to ~12,000 residents per facility. More than this, given that splash parks appeal to a limited demographic <12 years, let’s remove them from the equation too – leaving current pools in situ, we will have 12 pools for a population of 155,000 or ~ 13,000 residents per facility. The suggestion of “over-supply” becomes much less compelling. If we did implement this strategy, we will have 10 pools for a population of 155,000, or ~15,500 residents per facility – does this mean we are taking pride in creating more crowded facilities that require much further travel to access by many?
Then add the climate change overlay - scientific evidence suggests, by 2030, we are likely to have 19 days per year with temperatures above 35 degrees, while currently there are 13. Aquatic facilities may be a year-round expense, but in a climate like we have here in Bendigo, they are an essential community service – particularly pools as they are able to be used by all age groups. It is vital that we ensure this service is available.
RESPONSE TO SPECIFIC QUESTIONS WITHIN THE “DRAFT COMMUNITY AQUATIC FACILITIES STRATEGY SURVEY”
I also refer specifically to some of the questions that were asked in the survey that accompanied the draft document.
Question: Do you agree with swimming pools allocation within the hierarchy (small township, large suburb or township, municipal wide, regional)?
Though I understand there is a hierarchy, I am unsure how the report actually applies the it to establishment of the recommendations, other than as a descriptor (ie. this facility is in a ‘small township’). Apparently, the table at the end of the document "hierarchy and site-specific recommendations" is the hierarchy. Given that small townships are first, does this mean these are the locations where you are, or will, spend the most of your dollars? Or are you saying that there are pools in smalls towns, large suburbs, townships etc - ie. stating the obvious. If the hierarchy is a primary driver of why or why not aquatic facilities will be maintained/changed/removed then you need to explain this much more clearly - are you using the terms 'hierarchy' and 'principles' inter-changeably? The link between these two terms needs to be clarified, and the public provided with information that actually makes sense, so as it is actually possible to respond appropriately.
Question: Do you have feedback relating pool site specific recommendations (if none insert nil)?
Again, this question is challenging to answer with the information that is available in this document. The document doesn’t detail how much is spent at each pool annually, and how much will be spent at the proposed new facilities for construction and annual costs - so this makes it impossible to determine the savings that will be made and whether this generates sufficient ‘value’ to the community. A "subsidised cost per visit" isn't enough information to clarify this, and feels deceptive through lack of transparency. Particularly when some pools, which apparently have a very high per user subsidy, are kept and other are not kept or are replaces by a splash park. This makes it impossible to completely understand the rationale for the proposed changes.
However, based on discussions I have had with members of the Whipstick Community, I provide the following site-specific commentary:
White Hills: The Botanic Gardens Plan does not rule out a splash park that includes pools features like lap lanes, yet the CAFS doesn't indicate this is a possibility. The community consultation that you undertook for the White Hills pool clearly indicates some desire for deep water for swimming - I am concerned that this strategy will over-ride community sentiment for provision of a true swimming space as opposed to just a splash park.
Raywood: The new plan for Raywood has not yet been released, so it seems pre-emptive to include this recommendation in the CAFS, plus I have spoken to numerous people from Raywood who indicate their preference is a pool, which seems contradictory to the information provided in this CAFS. For transparency, the evidence used to support this recommendation should have been included with this report before a fair response to these recommendations can be made. Given that Raywood is a fairly isolated community, with the next closest pool 20 km away (much further than a bike-ride for teens 13-17 years old), it seems as though the teenage sector of the community will be significantly disadvantaged, plus adults who will now have to travel to access pool facilities, and this seems like an unacceptable compromise for this community.
Question: Please select any principles that you do not agree with and why?
This is not a question that is suitable to ask general community members - if you are not a person who works in a field where development of objectives and principles etc is common place, then it is not appropriate to expect that the majority of the general community will be able to come up with these easily.
Importantly also however, the report itself doesn’t actually clearly address how each site specifically stacks up against each of these principles - so it's very unclear how you've actually them to come up with your site-specific recommendations anyway.
Nevertheless, I attempted to respond to this question, but stopped after the first 2 due to frustration:
"Principle 1: Equity: (i) Revise service levels to ensure community aquatic facilities are an appropriate scale for the catchment "
What does this actually mean? When you say service levels, what service do you mean:
· are you providing council staff to man the pools so not all pools are reliant on community groups to run them; or
· are you providing more funding to pay for cleaning and chemical costs, or
· are you providing more kick boards because the population has more young people learning to swim?
And, importantly, what is the target average usage per site?
“Principle 2 – Accessibility: (i) Transition from traditional lap swimming pool provision which meets the needs of fitness and training markets, to more diverse and inclusive facilities which cater for other aquatic market segments including leisure/fun/entertainment; warm water therapy; and aquatic education.”
This seems to be a pretty deliberately narrow view of what you can do at a pool. Just because its rectangle and has lap lanes drawn on the bottom, doesn't mean it only caters for lap swimmers - this has never been the case - my whole life swimming has been at a traditional pool and I am not a professional swimmer by any stretch. I also think you could investigate the feasibility of retrofitting facilities/equipment to make the existing facilities for user friendly for people with varying needs and abilities.
RESPONSE TO FORMAT USED TO SEEK COMMUNITY INPUT
In regard to the format used to give the community their say, I also offer this feedback in order to improve the way in which the Council engages with the community.
The content of the CAFS and the Executive Summery are not provided in a format that is accessible or understandable to all members of the community. While the ‘hierarchy’ and ‘strategic objectives’ are presented within the document(s), there is no clear evidence to describe how these are actually applied. What do the following objectives and strategies even mean, and how will they be applied and measured?
“ 2) Accessibility: ii) Decisions will ensure that community aquatic facilities are accessible across the municipality. And, iii. Aquatic facilities will be retained at a scale appropriate for surrounding land uses.”
· What are the criteria that determine accessibility across the municipality?
o How far do you deem is acceptable for community members to travel, to access a pool?
o Is it enough that a splash park is available?
· How does the scale of the aquatic facilities even relate to surrounding land uses?
In summary, as an overall response to the CAFS, I suggest that two courses of action are required:
1. That the CAFS is revised in regard to content and presentation so it can be readily understood, and there is a clear link established between the hierarchy, principles, objectives and recommendations – currently there is insufficient information to establish a clear rationale.
2. That the revised CAFS and more appropriate summary material and questionnaire (as well as a section for free-form response), are presented to the community so the feedback you receive is based on sound evidence rather than confusion and frustration. This must include a site by site presentation information and rationale behind decision making, so residents can focus on their area of interest.
In addition, I make this final comment. As you are likely aware, I am running for Local Council in the October 2020 elections. One of my platforms is “Engage and Deliver” and this strategy is a good example of why. My experience as a community representative on Council committees, attending some ward meetings and the Huntly round-table as examples, have all shown me your genuine intent to listen, but strategies for changes like those recommended in this document (that affect everyone in the whole of Greater Bendigo), have the great potential to put community offside (think the media around Golden Square). This is likely to cause much disappointment and frustration – whether it be now if anyone actually reads the report, or later when they are surprised about decisions that are being implemented.
There must be a better way of genuinely engaging and explaining the rationale behind the recommendations more clearly than this. I read and review complex reports every day, and even with this experience, I found it difficult to get through and understand this one.
Please be advised that I am willing to personally attest to the content of this letter at the appropriate Council Meeting, should there be the opportunity.
Ph: 0492 981 475
I made a dash trip into a shop during the week and over-heard a phone beep with a text message followed by the statement “phew, the test was negative”. I’m going to hope it wasn’t their test rather, the results about someone else, but by their tone I wasn’t so sure.
It does lead me to think that there are still people in our community who need this to be more real for them to take full responsibility for their actions. Increasing the sense that it’s a real possibility you could have been infected, rather than the ‘it’s probably just a cold’, might assist with that.
Accordingly, I am supportive of Mayor O’Rourke’s suggestion that COVID-19 cases should be reported by suburb in large municipalities like ours (per Bendigo Advertiser 15/8/2020, page 4).
Candidates for Local Council elections, scheduled for 24 October, are now full swing into their campaigns – albeit significantly different to any other. Without opportunity for personal interaction, they are having to seek alternate ways of communicating with residents. While social media can be a useful conduit, not all people have access, nor willingness, to engage this way. Plus, it’s a fairly one-way giving of communication, rather than receipt and discussion about information and ideas.
This does leave current incumbent Councillors, who have already established their profile, with a particular advantage over first time candidates.
In addition, with so much going on locally and globally, it’s likely that many people already feel overwhelmed with information – leaving the election a low priority.
Residents are reminded however that the decisions made by Councillors, determine where and how your rates are allocated – it is in your best interest to get to know, and seek out candidates for the upcoming election, particularly new candidates like myself. This will assist you make the right decision when your postal vote pack arrives in the mail. In moving forward from the challenges of Covid, never has this been more important.
THE RESULT OF THIS ELECTION SHOULDN'T COME DOWN TO THE PERSON WHO HAS THE MOST TO SPEND ON ADVERTISING
2 August 2020
Coronavirus has created many challenges, but the Victorian Government has announced that Local Council elections will continue as scheduled, confirming that postal voting will ensure the election is safe.
Kathryn Stanislawski, a candidate for the Whipstick Ward in the City of Greater Bendigo, has highlighted the difficulty campaigning during the coronavirus.
“Given the stage of the Coronavirus when I launched my campaign, I decided that the safest way to interact with the Whipstick community was going to be meeting and greeting people in open spaces rather than in the doorways of busier places like outside bakeries, markets and shops. I knew it would limit my ability to interact with people, but if roles were reversed, I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable during these times if someone was unnecessarily lingering, even if technically the rules allowed it”.
“But as the situation has continued to worsen, I have taken the stand that my campaign isn’t more important than keeping my distance and responsibility to be part of the effort to keep our community safe”.
Kathryn’s plight brings to light the struggles that all our up and coming candidates will face in the race to the October elections. Street stalls are commonly used during the campaign period because they are an effective way of getting to talk with a range of people in a short period of time.
“This is the first time I am running for council, so I was really looking forward to my first street stall. Then I decided that parks were safer, so I was going to try a “Cuppa with Kathryn” – I felt like I should offer a cuppa while we chatted if was going to interrupt people while they were at the park!” said Kathryn, “But even that is off the cards now”.
Social media posts and on-line video conferencing is having to take the place of personal contact, and not all sectors of our community can access this technology.
“I met some lovely people in the park during a walk last week”, said Kathryn “They weren’t on Facebook, so campaign trail social media posts from myself and the other active candidates clearly do miss a sector of the community.”
So how can the community get to know the candidates who are throwing their hat in the ring?
Kathryn was hopeful that the local community would support candidates by sharing information more widely, be it on social media, picking up a few extra fliers from the counter at the shops and sharing them in your neighbour’s mailbox or sticking them up somewhere at your workplace or shopfront.
“The challenge is, that I want to hear from people, rather than talk at them”, said Kathryn “so I encourage as many people as possible to engage back on Facebook, or to simply pick up the phone and give me and the other candidates an old fashioned phone call to talk to us about your experience with Local Council – what you think is great, and what you think could be improved so we can get some more personal contact”.
“It’d be great if local media could also acknowledge the challenges we face and support us in providing a forum for us to share information as much as possible. The result of this election shouldn’t come down to the person who has been able to pay for the most advertising”.
“When you get your voter information pack it will include a statement from each candidate”, said Kathryn. “Due to Coronavirus we each get to write a longer statement, so I suppose that’s also something”.
For more information or interviews, contact Kathryn via the Contact tab above.
https://www.mav.asn.au/news/election-announcement-disappointingsomething interesting about your business here.
20 July 2020
There’s one word that perfectly sums up the newest City of Greater Bendigo council candidate: community.
Kathryn Stanislawski has community flowing through her veins, and she wants to use her experience and passion to represent the Whipstick Ward after the October poll.
“I’m standing because I feel I have more to offer to my local community. I love living in Huntly and I love all the things the small communities in the Whipstick Ward offer,” she said.
“As a school council and kinder committee President, I have loved contributing to my local area and advocating on their behalf.
“While working part time and raising our three children, I’ve been involved in successful campaigns including fighting for an automated pedestrian crossing in Huntly, more footpaths across the area, and upgrades to local playgrounds.
“These wins have given me a nudge, and the motivation to draw on all my reserves to put myself out there and live my values: to be inspiring, always adaptable, and most importantly to make a difference.”
Kathryn’s community roles have led her to call for a more equitable distribution of the city’s rates.
“I’ve always said a rising tide lifts all boats, but in towns such as Eaglehawk, Epsom, Elmore and Raywood, and suburbs such as North Bendigo, Cal Gully and Long Gully, that hasn’t always been the case,” she said.
“I want to fight to make sure the communities and businesses in these areas have access to the same facilities and opportunities as the rest of the municipality, because at the moment they don’t.
“And the need for fairness has never been greater. We need to start delivering and delivering now.”
Kathryn is a Project manager for the State Government, with qualifications in Science and Business, and has a passion for sustainable development
“I excel at bringing pieces of a puzzle together to get an outcome,” she said.
“But, I’m not one to just go with the status quo and do things the usual way. I always speak up and ask questions to challenge assumptions, to ensure the process is efficient and the outcome will truly meet our needs.
“There are also significant improvements that can be made when consulting and communicating during decision making, and there are plenty of strategies and initiatives that Council has developed – many which have great intent, but now it’s time to engage with the community and deliver.”
For more information or interviews, contact Kathryn via the contact tab above.