Five councils show their courage

Courage was the theme of the MAV Annual Conference held in October and five Local Governments spoke about differing aspects of strong leadership.

Greater Dandenong City Council Director Community Services Mark Doubleday spoke about the media backlash when Council allowed a private function with strict neck to knee outfits after hours in a public pool for the Islamic community.

He said the strength of the backlash showed that 'Islamophobia' was a reality in Australia and he often felt that the newspapers depicted it as 'an attack on Western civilisation.'

Greater Dandenong did not waiver in its support for the Islamic community in the face of this opposition because of its commitment to multiculturalism.

Moreland City Council CEO Peter Brown spoke about the Coburg Principal Activity Precinct and the hard decisions that needed to be made about cutting loose a 'private partner' in a major project to rejuvenate the central area of the municipality.

Whittlesea City Council Project Coordinator Yamsin Standfield and Greater Shepparton City Council LEAD Coordinator Amanda Tingay talked about their councils' approach to reducing discrimination against people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

With obvious pride, Wangaratta CEO Doug Sharp discussed handling community discontent over the demolition of the town hall in order to build a Performing Arts Centre.

The centre now attracts over 60,000 people a year and it is considered to be an overwhelming success, despite strong initial community protests.

Another Council, which addressed strong community and media protests was Greater Geelong Council, when it pushed ahead with the Road World Cycling Championships.

Dean Frost General Manager of Projects, Recreation and Central Geelong said "The extensive road closures for the cycling event has caused many concerns throughout the community.

However, the event was so successful that a negative turned so positive that people demanded we hold it again."