Alison Noonan Mayor District Council of Robe, South Australia
We are one of the few stand alone councils remaining in South Australia. We have a population of about 2000 people but we swell to approximately 15000 for six weeks of the year, as Robe is a favourite holiday destination for many tourists.
A balancing act
This poses some unique challenges for us as a town as we have to balance the needs of our permanent residents with the needs of our summer residents.
At the moment we are having a few ‘growing pains’ but we are well aware that this is a great challenge to be facing given many rural towns are in decline.
I love many things about Robe – it is a truly beautiful town with the sea here being the most incredible colour due to the arctic upwelling at Cape Dombey.
We have many heritage buildings which give us that quaint village feel but also have great cafes, shops, wine bars, galleries and restaurants to explore.
Our community is really proactive and there is always plenty going on here.
The rural area around Robe supports many industries and along with the national parks, it all adds up to a pretty amazing package!
Learning on the run
I was elected as a councillor in August 2017 when a vacancy existed due to a resignation.
I really didn’t know too much about Local Government, all I really knew was that I had enjoyed living in the Robe Council area and benefitted from the many services Council offered and felt that it was time I made a contribution to our town.
In the November elections I was elected as the Mayor and I was excited and scared in equal measure.
I’ve been in the role six months and am feeling slightly more comfortable now but have an enormous amount yet to learn. Probably just like all the other new Mayors!
For the whole district
I am a farmer and live 30km from town. It tends to give me the space I need to put things in perspective. It also helps remind me that I am the Mayor of Robe district, not just the town.
I do some hiking, play netball, ride horses (I was a racehorse trainer in a previous life!), I have four kids and did I mention the farm?! That all takes up any spare time I may have.
I mentioned earlier what I perceive to be our main challenge – to balance the needs of residents with that of our tourists.
We also have the challenge of keeping the character of our town whilst still ensuring that it grows.
Coastal management is causing some major issues for us as with most other coastal councils.
The aspect I love about about being on council and being Mayor is communicating and being engaged with the community on a different level than what I did previously.
It also provides me with plenty to think about…. It’s never boring.
On the other hand dealing with the constant misconceptions about what Council is, what Council does and what it doesn’t do can be very challenging!
I would eventually like to see Robe with some type of palliative/aged care facility before I leave the role.
I will feel as though I have accomplished something when our community recognises and understands that Council is a key part of all great communities and not separate to it.