Mitchell Shire Mayor Rhonda Sanderson met with Ministers and Shadow Ministers last week for a series of discussions about the lack of services and infrastructure for people living on Melbourne’s fringe.
Representatives from Melbourne’s 10 Interface Councils gathered at Parliament House as part of Interface Week to discuss ways to narrow the service’s gaps and improve the quality of life for people who live in these areas.
Interface Councils presented to Parliament the Liveability Policy, a document which identifies a path forward to make the growth areas as liveable as the rest of Melbourne.
The long-awaited follow up to the 2013 One Melbourne or Two? report was also launched, which revealed that about $11billion was still needed to close infrastructure and services gaps in Interface areas.
Mitchell Shire Mayor Rhonda Sanderson said Interface Week was an important time to highlight our community’s needs to the government.
‘‘Interface Councils are experiencing significant population growth, which places increased pressure on existing services such as schools, health services and public transport,’’ Cr Sanderson said.
‘‘In some cases, the services aren’t even available locally which means our community members need to travel long distances with limited transport options to access what they need.
‘‘While we welcome Victorian Government funding streams such as the Growing Suburbs Fund, which has helped us deliver some fantastic community facilities in the past couple of years, we simply need more investment in areas such as roads, public transport, infrastructure, education, jobs and access to services to ensure our municipality remains liveable.
‘‘There are significant service gaps present in Interface Council areas compared to other metropolitan councils and it is vital that we band together and work with the Victorian Government to address these issues before the gaps widen any further.
‘‘Our community deserves a great quality of life and shouldn’t be disadvantaged because of where they are geographically located. Parts of our shire are less than 40km from the Melbourne CBD — the gap shouldn’t be this wide.
‘‘We are in a unique position — we are at the start of our growth and we can learn from other areas such as Whittlesea and Wyndham who have already been through their growth.
‘‘Early provision of services and infrastructure can change lives for the better, bring communities together, support the creation of local jobs and stop some of the disadvantage that can occur when communities are isolated or under financial or family pressure just to get through the week.’’
Cr Sanderson said issues such as roads, public transport, employment and access to services, including family violence and mental health support, were on the agenda during the discussions and mirrored many of council’s advocacy priorities.
‘‘These meetings provided a great opportunity for the Interface Councils to paint the picture of what is happening on the ground and how we can work with the Victorian Government on solutions to address these issues together,’’ Cr Sanderson said.