Councillor profiles - Renée McLennan Mayor Town of Bassendean
I was first elected to the Town of Bassendean Council in 2015 and became Mayor in 2017; this October will mark the completion of my first term.
Four years ago, while on maternity leave following the birth of my first child, I had the time and motive to consider the community I lived in. The demographics of our local area were changing with increasing numbers of young families moving into the Town, yet the composition of our council did not reflect this.
There was a growing desire for our Council to be more progressive and inclusive but this shift had not yet occurred. Having recently become a mum to my young daughter I had a growing consciousness of the kind of future that I wanted for her and our community.
I was also increasingly aware that I couldn’t defer the responsibility and expect others to create the type of future I was seeking but that I needed to commit to being actively involved in making it a reality.
I decided to nominate for Council.
Now I am in a position to influence the direction of our Town, a primary focus is to facilitate as many of our community members as possible to also have a role in shaping the future of their neighbourhoods.
During my first term, I was the only woman in the council chamber, with all my fellow councillors and the entire executive team being men.
I became pregnant with my second child not long after my election to Council and my newborn son accompanied me to every meeting and Council related event from one week of age. Today my children continue to be by my side at many of our official functions and meetings.
Over the past two years we have seen significant changes. Council now has a female majority and our administration is led by an outstanding female chief executive officer.
I hope that this example will help model a form of local government that is more accessible and inclusive and breaks down some of the barriers faced by women and younger members of our community in becoming involved in local leadership.
Connected to country
Our Town is a relatively small, metropolitan local government area that has not only a rich Noongar history but was also one of the first colonial settlements in Western Australia.
Our Town has managed to retain its connection to country and sense of community in a world where these connections have so often been lost.
I particularly value the strong sense of community spirit that exists in our neighbourhoods and it is a feature that many locals identify as unique to our area. This connectedness and love of our shared open spaces is at the heart of our Town’s identity and is something that we want to actively nurture and continue to grow.
The Town of Bassendean is also developing a reputation for our leadership in sustainability. We have recently adopted the ten 'One Planet Living' principles as a framework to ensure environmental, economic and social sustainability is central to all that we do.
The ten principles aim to help create a future for our community in which it is easy, attractive and affordable for people to lead happy and healthy lives with a fair share of earth’s resources.
Bassendean was the first local government in Western Australia to strive to be single-use-plastic free. We are committed to minimising waste and are currently planning the implementation of a three bin system to recover the organic resources from our waste stream.
Council’s changing role
A current challenge for our community is responding to state government’s infill targets in a way that accommodates projected increases in population while preserving the character and spirit of our Town. We want to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to shape the future of their neighbourhoods and central to this is hearing what our community values about living in the Town of Bassendean.
A further challenge is redefining the role of our local government, and moving towards a new way of working that empowers the community. We recognise that there is a wealth of knowledge, skills and resources in our community and facilitating and partnering with our community is a key focus.
Instead of local government just delivering projects and services to the community, wherever possible we want to support our local people to contribute and drive projects that are important to them.
I am fortunate that my role allows me to spend time with a lot of inspirational, passionate local people who are dedicating their time to build upon the existing strengths of our community and make it even stronger in the future.