Wollongong’s south needs more attention, say candidates

Adrianne Talbot-Thomson

The people of Koonawarra, Berkeley, Warrawong and Port Kembla are being neglected while redevelopments such as the Blue Mile (a foreshore development around Wollongong harbour) and $14 million Wollongong mall makeover soak up limited funds, say Community Voice Ward 3 candidates for council elections Adrianne Talbot-Thomson and Ken Davis.

“Council’s city-centric approach needs to be replaced with a more geographically equitable distribution of resources, services and projects,” said Talbot-Thomson.

“While Wollongong CBD development is important, residents want input into how council allocates its funds across the city.

“Priorities should include activities for young people in Berkeley and Koonawarra, better access to West Dapto and the provision of seed funding and ongoing support for community driven revitalisation projects.

“Project such as Red Point Artists Association have shown how local efforts can help to transform neglected areas such as Port Kembla.”

Community Voice’s vision for a people orientated council includes the provision of services such as local swimming pools.

“The people of the Dapto want their pool back,” Davis said.

“Through the imposition of pool fees and charges council is denying struggling families and the region’s most disadvantaged access to important health, fitness and social networking facilities.

“Free access to public pools was a feature of Wollongong pools for around 30 years, prior to the introduction of fees at Corrimal and Dapto pools around [the year] 2000.

“Communities chipped in with cake stalls, raffles and hard labour to build these pools in partnership with Wollongong City Council.

“With the introduction of fees these once crowded public places became deserted overnight,” said Davis.

“In 2009, local residents organised a ‘Pool Party’ calling for the removal of fees, and over 500 people turned up — yet council ignored them. With council considering further charges, there is talk of another ‘Pool Party’ on October 8.

“At present no pool is safe from future fees, especially the North Wollongong and Port Kembla Continental Baths.”

Talbot-Thomson told Green Left Weekly she wants to bring a new kind of politics to council.

A community development practitioner, she believes a community is responsible for its own culture. This means the problems and their solutions exist within the community itself.

“My fundamental belief is that human beings have both the capacity and the heart to create vibrant, safe and healthy communities,” she said.

“I believe that in the modern world we have found ourselves disconnected not only from each other but also the environment.

“A councillor is just one part of the decision-making process and not the actual decision-maker. That is how I have worked in community development.

“Whether or not I am elected, I will keep working to open up neighbourhood forums so that many diverse voices are heard. I am also committed to ensure that effective systems allow these forums to inform council business.

“The practice of democracy is an everyday one and we need to enable responses from the whole of the community. This is basically what a community development approach is.

“These sorts of neighbourhood meetings allow real conversations to generate real solutions.”