Mayor Shield’s ac­cep­tance speech paints a broad pic­ture for Dubbo

Dubbo Photo News - - Weekender News in depth -

Coun­cil­lor Ben Shields, Septem­ber 28

FIRST of all I would like to thank my fam­ily, my part­ner and friends who have stuck by me through 18 years of pub­lic life. With­out these peo­ple back­ing me I would not be in this po­si­tion to­day.

I also thank the peo­ple of Dubbo for giv­ing me this op­por­tu­nity to lead their Coun­cil and to set the agenda for the com­ing years.

Amal­ga­ma­tion Road has been a bumpy ride which turned a lon­gawaited cor­ner on Septem­ber 28, 2017, dur­ing an ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ing of the new coun­cil to elect a mayor. As space per­mits and over sev­eral edi­tions, Dubbo Photo News will be pub­lish­ing ex­cerpts from Mayor Ben Shield’s ac­cep­tance speech. He em­pha­sised a de­sire for an in­clu­sive coun­cil and, in keep­ing with that, the peo­ple of Dubbo and Welling­ton can read his com­ments in full here.

1. Con­sen­sus.

To the elected Coun­cil­lors as­sem­bled here to­day: You have my sin­cere grat­i­tude for elect­ing me to this role. You have my as­sur­ance that I will be mayor to the best of my abil­ity, and will use con­sen­sus as a way to make de­ci­sions and unify the re­gion.

Con­sen­sus in­volves give and take. When work­ing as a group of ten Coun­cil­lors, I will be par­tic­u­larly en­cour­ag­ing all of us to be in reg­u­lar con­tact with each other. And, as Mayor, I in­tend to be fa­cil­i­tat­ing reg­u­lar in­for­mal get-to­geth­ers of Coun­cil­lors.

2. Rates and Rev­enue.

This Coun­cil has a num­ber of chal­lenges ahead. It is mean­ing­less to ig­nore the is­sues that con­front us.

Firstly, we need to fin­ish the job of amal­ga­ma­tion. Com­bin­ing our rates and rev­enue struc­ture for the en­tire Coun­cil area will be an in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult and thank­less task. Only a uni­fied and fo­cussed team of Coun­cil­lors can de­liver the right out­come.

3. So­cial Is­sues.

The day has come when as a re­gion we must take our so­cial is­sues se­ri­ously. De­spite the good work of our po­lice, our crime rates are too high and too many lives are be­ing wasted by drugs, un­em­ploy­ment, poor par­ent­ing and the crimes that hap­pen as a con­se­quence.

In our towns, much crime is con­cen­trated in cer­tain trou­bled fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. I be­lieve we must in­ter­vene as a com­mu­nity and be as tough on the causes of crime as we are on crime it­self.

I for­mally com­mit my per­sonal sup­port as Mayor to a res­i­den­tial drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­ity in our re­gion. It is sorely needed. I be­lieve it should be in a lo­ca­tion out­side town and run with lo­cal com­mu­nity in­put.

I am aware of some of the work done on this is­sue in re­cent years and I will be ask­ing for a brief­ing as soon as pos­si­ble on the avail­able op­tions.

I also fully sup­port es­tab­lish­ing a drug court for this re­gion. There is mount­ing ev­i­dence to sug­gest such a pro­gram would be rev­o­lu­tion­ary in its ap­proach to of­fend­ers in the re­gion and play a sig­nif­i­cant part in the re­duc­tion of drug re­lated crime.

Youth Koori Court is a con­cept that has been tri­alled in metropoli­tan Syd­ney. This is a scheme sim­i­lar to Drug Court. Young of­fend­ers are com­mit­ted to lengthy su­per­vi­sion and case man­age­ment by the court it­self.

Out­comes in terms of pun­ish­ment de­pend on the ex­tent to which the of­fender has suc­ceeded in im­prov­ing cul­tural con­nec­tions, gain­ing ed­u­ca­tion or em­ploy­ment and in ad­dress­ing health out­comes.

This would be fan­tas­tic for Dubbo and Welling­ton.

Ev­ery­one knows the po­ten­tial of our young Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple, but for too long we have ac­cepted in­ter­gen­er­a­tional prob­lems that hold too many back from tak­ing their right­ful po­si­tions in this com­mu­nity as lead­ers and con­trib­u­tors.

Go­ing for­ward, we must as a com­mu­nity also ex­am­ine what is known as “jus­tice rein­vest­ment”. This boils down to a sim­ple idea: spend­ing time and money to pre­vent crime in the first place, rather than deal­ing with the symp­toms of so­cial prob­lems through courts and jails.

Imag­ine if in­stead of spend­ing $50 mil­lion in jail­ing kids we could spend $25 mil­lion on crime di­ver­sion, em­ploy­ment train­ing and sub­stance abuse pre­ven­tion, with the ef­fect of sav­ing money, re­duc­ing crime and chang­ing lives?

Jus­tice Rein­vest­ment is hap­pen­ing in Bourke right now, why not in Dubbo and Welling­ton?

I will sup­port the for­ma­tion of a new Com­mit­tee of Coun­cil to over­see these projects and oth­ers, de­signed to help peo­ple and fam­i­lies break the link be­tween in­ter­gen­er­a­tional so­cial dis­ad­van­tage and sub­stance abuse, crim­i­nal be­hav­iour and other so­cial prob­lems. I will act as Mayor to en­sure the nec­es­sary Coun­cil re­sources, in­clud­ing Project Of­fi­cers and other re­sources, are al­lo­cated to en­sure we can se­cure these and other projects.

4. Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple

I would like to make spe­cial men­tion of the need to em­brace and em­power our lo­cal In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties. For too long we’ve set­tled for the sta­tus quo of failed State and Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment poli­cies when Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment should be tak­ing the lead to trans­form the way we ac­cept this on­go­ing so­cial dis­ad­van­tage.

Our In­dige­nous cul­ture is the old­est in the world, yet Aus­tralia seems to be the only na­tion on earth where tourists visit and yet can’t get a proper cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence with First Na­tions Peo­ples.

I’ve trav­elled ex­ten­sively to first and third world coun­tries. In the south­west­ern deserts of the USA, lo­cal Amer­i­can In­dian peo­ple are trad­ing the in­trin­sic value of their cul­tural her­itage for out­side tourist dol­lars. Vis­i­tors spend money buy­ing sou­venirs, paint­ings, dream­catch­ers, they pay lo­cal peo­ple for their ver­sion of bush tucker and to watch them per­form tribal dances and songs, yet here in Dubbo and Welling­ton, with one of the largest con­cen­tra­tions of Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple in the na­tion, we have no such op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­ter­ac­tion with lo­cal peo­ple.

Tourist dol­lars feed back into dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties to cre­ate mean­ing­ful, sus­tain­able and ful­fill­ing jobs, and also cre­ate path­ways for youth to make a liv­ing and es­tab­lish work ethics while they learn about and im­merse them­selves in their tra­di­tional cul­ture.

This is not rocket science, this is pretty sim­ple stuff, and it’s time Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil gave strong lead­er­ship to make this hap­pen, if it is what the lo­cal Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity wants.

My ap­proach on Abo­rig­i­nal cul­tural and com­mu­nity is­sues will be fo­cussed and con­sul­ta­tion and self-de­ter­mi­na­tion. The time for the Gov­ern­ment to im­pose its will on Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple has passed.

Can I also pay tribute to state MP Troy Grant, who has se­cured over $1 mil­lion in fund­ing to make a Wi­rad­juri project a re­al­ity. If Coun­cil seeks and em­ploys the best Grants Of­fi­cer we can, I can see these dol­lars be­ing lever­aged into $3 mil­lion or $4 mil­lion to de­sign a project which should pro­vide that crit­i­cal mass to cre­ate an en­tirely new so­cial en­ter­prise for this re­gion.

I com­mit to con­sult widely with the lo­cal In­dige­nous peo­ple, as well as gather in ex­per­tise from the broader com­mu­nity. I want to see the re­sound­ing suc­cess of this ven­ture to be the sig­na­ture achieve­ment of the in­com­ing 2017 Coun­cil.

Next week:

River/en­vi­ron­ment, Live Stream­ing of coun­cil meet­ings, Grants of­fi­cer, Traf­fic, Lake, Show­ground and CBD.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.