Councillor profiles – Paula Masselos Mayor of Waverley
The Waverley Local Government Area (LGA) is one of Australia’s oldest, having been incorporated in 1859. We are also one of the most densely populated LGAs in the country with a population of around 75,000 spread over just nine square kilometres.
We are home to some of Australia’s most iconic landmarks including the world-famous Bondi Beach, and the popular and beautiful Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk. The Coastal Walk attracts more than 1 million people annually and is home to the international Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. During whale season, the Coastal Walk also provides vantage points for whale and dolphin spotting.
Waverley was the birthplace of the surf lifesaving movement in Australia and the very first surf clubs were established in our LGA. Our five surf clubs, along with our professional lifeguards who star in the multi Logie award-winning documentary, Bondi Rescue, keep our beach-goers safe.
Being elected to Council nine years ago was a great personal honour and being elected as Mayor in September 2019 has been especially gratifying. Being the daughter of Greek migrants and the first Mayor of Hellenic heritage in Waverley is a milestone.
I decided to become involved in local activism more than 15 years ago when I joined my local Bronte Precinct Committee. I felt I
needed to give back as Waverley gave me so much. The experience gained in saving the local Tamarama Waterfall from being destroyed and fighting against overdevelopment – which is rampant across Waverley – stood me in good stead when I was elected to Council.
For me, local government is the most important level of government. It is the purest form of representative democracy, where our decisions can have immediate and impactful outcomes on our community. Councillors are readily held to account by constituents as we live and move within our community on a daily basis. It is all about local relationships and the trust that comes with those.
Big capital works agenda
The most enjoyable aspect of being a Mayor is the ability to set and guide the policy and program agenda.
COVID-19 has certainly been a key focus during my two years as Mayor. We have supported our community and local business with a COVID support package while keeping our staff employed. Our response to the COVID-safe management of outdoor public spaces saw me close Bondi Beach in March 2020 for the first time since WW2!
But in spite of COVID-19, I have managed to push through some major achievements of which I am proud. Under my Mayoralty, Council is delivering the biggest capital works program in Waverley’s history which includes major projects such as the restoration of the heritage-listed Bondi Pavilion, progressing design work on the upgrades to important local surf clubs, and much needed upgrades to local parks and playgrounds right across the council area – all with a balanced budget.
My training as a social worker/psychologist has provided me with an appreciation of community and how it works. I introduced a resilience framework across community, planning and environment designed to build a resilient, inclusive and connected society wherein we all want to live and recreate. This so important during these times of COVID-19.
Having a passion for innovation, I am excited to see the much-loved heritage listed Boot Factory building in Bondi Junction being restored and repurposed to become a community-based Innovation Civic Hall. And closing our streets for street play at various times refocuses attention on to our residents and pedestrians rather than on cars.
There is still so much more to do so I will be seeking re-election at the imminent local government elections. In the meantime, I continue to work tirelessly for the community while managing my communications business.