Councillor profiles - Mayor Robert Bria City of Norwood Payneham and St Peters, South Australia

Article image - Councillor profiles - Mayor Robert Bria City of Norwood Payneham and St Peters, South Australia

“My hope for the future is to continue serving the community I love and have lived in all of my life in whatever role adds value and makes a difference.”

The City of Norwood Payneham and St Peters is located in Adelaide’s inner eastern suburbs and has a population of 38,000 people. It is separated from the Adelaide City Council by the eastern parklands.
The City was formed in 1997 from three councils (City of Kensington and Norwood, City of Payneham and the Town of St Peters) following a round of council amalgamations in South Australia (SA) that year.
The Linear Park, which stretches along the northern boundary of the council area, is the jewel in Adelaide’s crown in terms of open space. I also love The Parade; the cultural, civic and retail heart of the municipality, which is a unique main street boasting a diversity of offering without peer in South Australia.

A chance to make a difference
I was elected as a Councillor in 1997 and was first elected mayor in a bi-election in October 2005.  I have since been re-elected mayor in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

I became involved in local government at a time when South Australia was experiencing council amalgamations. I thought the formation of a new amalgamated council from three councils in 1997 presented an exciting opportunity to get involved in local government and make a contribution to my community.

I work as a Policy Officer in Multicultural SA, Department for Human Services.  

Regular engagement with culturally diverse communities gives me a real sense of what is happening ‘on the ground’ in the local community, which serves as a constant reminder of how important it is to use the privilege of being in public life to make a positive difference to the lives of others.

Outside of work and my mayoral duties, I enjoy reading, spending time with my young family and watching my football team, Norwood.
I am active in my children’s school (St Joseph’s Memorial School) where I was a member of the board from 2012-2018.

I have organised ‘Footy Nights’ and ‘Bowls Night’ for the fathers of students, assisted with the school’s fundraising events and for the last two seasons have coached my son’s Aussie Rules football team.

Planning changes challenge us
Changes to South Australia’s Planning System is one of the big challenge facing the council. As an inner-urban council with a big stock of Victorian and Federation era housing, ‘tick-a- box’ planning rules that allow for insensitive infill poses a threat to the character of our suburbs.

Massive growth in property values is seeing many of our suburbs becoming unaffordable for young people and young families, which over time has the potential to negatively alter the balance of the demographic profile of our city.

Cultural Heritage offers opportunities
Currently council is working on a number of exciting initiatives involving the cultural heritage, the arts and creative industries. This includes working with a number of other South Australia councils on an Australian version of ‘Antiques Road Trip’, as well as a major film festival.

I am always on the lookout for new opportunities and partnerships that our council can get involved in, particularly with and on behalf of our business community.

In 2017, I initiated a partnership with the neighbouring City of Burnside to jointly promote businesses along Magill Road, which divide our two council areas.  

That same year, I also won the Council’s support to expand our successful ‘Food Secrets of Glynde’ bus tours to include food and beverage manufacturers in Stepney.

Who pays
What I like least about working in the sector is cost-shifting from the State Government to Local government.

The best part about being mayor is the variety of the role.
I could be meeting with a minister one day, holding a Citizenship Ceremony the next and then chairing a Council meeting the day after that.