Councillor Profiles - This month from Town of Gawler, South Australia
Gawler is situated approximately 42 kilometres north of Adelaide, with our town the entry point to the greater Gawler and Barossa region. Our population is over 20,000 residents and we attract around 90,000 people who visit Gawler from the surrounding and lower mid north areas. With many cultural, business, health and education services in our town, we are the major regional centre for the area. Over the next 30 years Gawler is expected to nearly double in size through major housing developments as part of South Australia’s future growth plans.
Gawler is the oldest country town in the state, with many fine examples of 19th century architecture still in existence in our traditional main street. Coupled with this, we have two natural river systems meandering through the town, providing a perfect landscape for walking and cycling activities.
Our heritage is exquisite and something to be cherished. Besides built heritage we have a local history collection, the Gawler Heritage Collection that contains many nationally significant items that detail our role in colonial Australian history.
No fuss or bother
I was elected to Council as an area councillor in 2010. I became involved as a result of two key issues:
- I wanted to become more connected to my community with my work taking me out of the town and feeling disconnected with local affairs.
- Major rezoning has occurred in our region to prepare for the states expected growth over the next few years. I felt I could contribute and help our community as we work our way through the issues and strategic planning that would be needed to cope with this growth. When the Mayor at the time decided to retire I made the decision to run for Mayor as part of the local government elections. The people of Gawler elect their Mayor via a popular vote, so I campaigned and was fortunate to be elected as Mayor in November 2014.
I also work part time as a Breast Cancer Nurse Practitioner. I have been involved in public health for many years so my nursing background with skills in communication, caring, policy and management all have been very useful – not to mention the fact that nurses get things done with no fuss and bother.
Our biggest project at present is the Gawler Connect project. We were recently successful in being granted $5.6 million as part of the Stronger Regions fund to help us create an amazing arts cultural and business hub in the heart of our town. The redevelopment of the iconic and state heritage listed Town Hall and Institute buildings will see this become a reality. With a multi-purpose performance and exhibition space, refurbished library, activation of our extensive basement areas – in addition to the creation of much needed community meeting areas – this new facility will be an exemplar in adaptive reuse of heritage buildings not to mention a significant draw-card for cultural tourists. The buildings will be digitally powered to enable hot desking, a business incubator and educational activities to take place and interconnect. Our nationally significant Gawler heritage collection will be pride of place with a research centre incorporated to capitalise on this important resource. We see this project as a crucial connector for our growing community so all of us, both long term and new to the town will be one.
Our growth I believe is our biggest challenge as a community. Ensuring we have good strong strategic planning, that we lobby hard for diverse job opportunities, and have adequate infrastructure and services in place is crucial to preserving our strong community values we enjoy now. If we get it right, I have no doubt we will thrive
into the future.