Mayor's Column – 2 December 2022

Published on 02 December 2022

Mayor Isabelle Tolhurst headshot

To the community of Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale on Wadawurrung Country, my name is Isabelle Tolhurst and I am honoured to have been elected as your new Mayor for 2022–23.

Though the newest Councillor among five, I have worked diligently for the past seven months to immerse myself in the issues, organisations and ambitions of our community. I have worked hard to further cultivate relationships, to deepen trust and ties, take on dissent and difference, and understand how we can work better together. I have honoured my simple but sincere campaign commitment to listen and act, including playing a key role in the establishment of a disability lived experience reference group and joining the Local Government Working Group on Gambling to further the work of recent policy change.

As a Councillor group, we’ve reached the half-way mark of a term. This is an important time to reflect on what has been achieved, what is left to achieve, and the legacy we want to leave. It is a chance to reset, recommit to our values, and learn from both successes and mistakes. It is also an opportunity to regroup as a Council – that is, Councillors, CEO and staff – and reiterate that we are all passionate about delivering outcomes for the community, about participating in meaningful work that will leave an impact, and about getting the best from each other.

Our key priorities for the next year are well documented include ensuring the Borough’s financial viability, maximising our assets and optimising caravan park management, caring for our coastline through the development and implementation of a Coastal and Marine Management Plan, driving forward work on our Climate Emergency Response Plan (CERP), and furthering the already excellent but often confronting work that is required for reconciliation and reparations with the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners.

My job as Mayor is to ensure that the priorities as set out in the Council Plan are implemented, while allowing scope for responsiveness and adaptability in the face of change. But mayoralty is also about vision. About putting in place now what is required for a vibrant, safe, and connected Borough in the future. Our council is capable of leading big conversations about who we are and want to be, and translating them into policies, partnerships and services that take a long-term view and benefit to the community.

This means discussing what heritage is, how it captures the stories of place and people in a modern context, it means asking hard questions of ourselves about how we celebrate Australia Day, it means finding shared value and meaning in our public spaces. It means wading bravely into social issues of our time and considering how our Borough can, independently or through partnerships, address issues like affordable housing, worker shortages, and how we can financially prepare now, for the inevitable impacts of climate change later. This relies on good governance, clear decision-making pathways and on working respectfully and productively with our community.

Working with our passionate and talented community has delivered amazing outcomes for us in the past. Our CERP continues to be recognised for how it integrated community aspiration and council responsibility into an ambitious course of mitigating climate change, and the recent Distinctive Areas and Landscape ruling is of its very essence, a vision for land use and strategy for safeguarding what makes our region special. What was achieved was a testament to community and Council working together. Future successes between community and Council rely on all of us remembering what is at stake, and that we’re here for the same reasons – to better the place we call home.

However, our Council has limited resources, and it is important that we make the most from every investment, whether financial, time, through people, or through our advocacy. I am committed to a fair distribution of resources and effort to respond to the diverse interests and needs of our municipal community, including those of future generations. Local government is a unique arm of government for its proximity to people, and I believe deeply in its ability to achieve great things.

My commitment to the Borough community is that I will be available and present. I will advocate for you. I will continue to listen and act. To those I’ve met and worked with, thank you. Your generosity of time, energy and experience betters this place and our collective knowledge daily. And to those I’m yet to meet, I look forward to connecting.

Cr Isabelle Tolhurst
Borough of Queenscliffe

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