Volunteering role leads to Clunes councillor move

December 6th, 2020Volunteering role leads to Clunes councillor move

COUNCILLOR Tessa Halliday’s infectious smile lights up her face as many locals driving past slow down to wave and chat.

Obviously popular in her electorate with the farmers and townsfolk she tells me what motivated her to stand as a councillor for Cameron Ward, and what she hopes to achieve in her four-year term.
Cr Halliday moved to Clunes almost 10 years ago from the city after missing the sense of community a small town can bring, after growing up in Warrandyte. She tells me she’s never been happier since living in Clunes on her small property where she breeds Suffolk sheep. Speaking about her background she says “my academic background is science, as a kid I wanted to be an entomologist, but the majority of my career has been in the building industry working in construction administration”.

“I gained experience in planning through my administration role and five years ago I launched my own planning consultancy business.”
Cr Halliday tells me of the many volunteering roles she’s been involved with. “The first committee I joined was the Clunes and District Agricultural Society and I was the sponsorship coordinator for five years. I started the Clunes Open House Dinners in 2014 because I wanted there to be an affordable, healthy food option for people in our community. I didn’t anticipate the benefits for people who live alone to come together for a meal once a week and the connections and friendships formed, which made this such a valuable event.
“I started the Clunes Makers Market, a women’s wellbeing group, LGBTIQA+ dinner and film nights and volunteered for Clunes Landcare and Waterways Group, Clunes Farmers Market, the Clunes Tourism and Development Association, and was a member of the Clunes Artists’ group, and the choir. I’m currently president of ChillOut, and as a proud bisexual woman I will be a voice for my LGBTIQA+ constituents.

“I get a lot of pleasure helping people, giving back, and trying to make the world a better place. I’d like to strengthen local community and maybe one day branch out in the wider world.
“I decided to nominate for councillor because I was frustrated with the disconnect between council and community. I felt like the best way for me to bring about change was to step up, take that leadership role and be a proactive community representative.
“I’m excited that as new councillors we’re involved in drafting the new community engagement policy, to be implemented next March. The top three issues I feel need addressing in the shire are community engagement, a thorough planning scheme review, and COVID recovery.
“It’s important we help business recover as well as support our community members who are out of work and struggling to meet their financial obligations. Council has passed a motion to develop a social housing policy but currently we don’t have funding. It will be our role to help council officers source funding and follow through with the previous councillors’ vision.
“I am very passionate about strategic planning and implementation of a thorough planning scheme amendment that will protect our heritage, lifestyle and allow for carefully planned growth.
“I’m excited to be part of the positive change in our local council and look forward to getting to know my community even better through my work as councillor.”

With six of the seven councillors recently elected to the Hepburn Shire being new to the game, a sense of optimism and hope exists for more positive interactions between community and council. This weekly series by Sandy Scheltema explores the councillors’ hopes and wishes for the shire.

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