Matthew, you recognised that participation is a key feature of a well-functioning community and you played a very strong advocacy role in creating a more inclusive and engaged city – determined to empower residents and community groups whilst highlighting and working towards addressing many human rights disparities.
On behalf of the Greater Dandenong City Council and its diverse communities, this letter of appreciation under the seal of Council is a record or your enormous contribution to the Greater Dandenong community as a Councillor, which you embarked on in November 2012. For almost a decade you have tirelessly and impartially served the community as an elected Councillor of Red Gum Ward. From day one you quickly established relationships with Council officers and were seen by all as a passionate advocate for the Greater Dandenong community with your achievements being many and varied. During your time as Councillor, you have acted as a great ambassador for the city, working hard to promote and encourage civic participation and community engagement. Understanding that these are key features of a well-functioning community you initiated a new Community Engagement Strategy ensuring more residents had a say in Council decisions.
You have raised the profile of climate change, environment and sustainability in this Council and community, highlighted through many new initiatives directly resulting from your enthusiasm, determination, courage, hard work and perseverance. These include the inaugural Greater Dandenong Family Sustainability Festival and Sustainability Awards, the Greater Dandenong Sustainability Strategy 2016-2030, Council’s Zero Carbon Planning Policy, Climate Emergency Strategy 2020-2030, Climate Change Strategy and its Biodiversity Action Plan.
You played a substantial role in improving community infrastructure and significantly contributed to securing Government funding for the redevelopment of Ross Reserve including an All Abilities Playground and the redevelopment of the Noble Park Aquatic Centre. Similarly, you played major roles in finalising Springvale Community Hub from concepts to completion, securing the future development of the Keysborough South Community Hub and realising a vision for a third Community Hub in Dandenong.
Your interest in the art and culture of our city enabled you to be an influential driving force in both the redevelopment of the Dandenong Masonic Hall into the Greater Dandenong Gallery of Arts and the Greater Dandenong Short Film Festival. You also led the way in the establishment of a digital archive platform (e-Hive) ensuring the preservation of our City’s history for future
generations to inherit and enjoy.
There were many other fundamental areas of community life that you actively sought to seek effective change, including Council’s participation in a national gambling reform, supporting local asylum seekers and refugees through your insight to create a Mayoral Taskforce which implemented the Back Your Neighbour campaign, the Greater Dandenong Volunteer Resource Service and your commitment to ensuring social and cultural cohesion through supporting, advocating and promoting diversity and inclusion – from LGBTIQ+ to culturally and linguistically diverse communities. In addition, your stellar contributions to the Greater Dandenong RAP not only supported Council’s business plan but will also drive our responsibility to reconciliation both internally and in the communities in which we operate.
Matthew, you have left an indelible mark on the many committees on which you represent Council, including, but not limited to, the Arts Advisory Board, The Audit and Risk Committee, Dandenong and Springvale Historical Societies, Community and Safety Advisory Committee, Cultural Heritage Committee, Multicultural and People Seeking Asylum Advisory Committee, Reconciliation Working Group, Springvale Major Projects Advisory Group and the Sustainability Advisory Committee.
In your role as a community leader you have always maintained an extremely approachable and understanding manner and your resolve to achieve a fair outcome for all those represented has earned you respect and high regard among your peers and across the whole community. It would be fair to say that you have often challenged the status quo and also encouraged your colleagues and constituents to look at things from a new perspective such is your caring and individual commitment to a group effort. Thank you for your honest voice and for being such an important part of our City’s story of growth, change, opportunity and achievement. On behalf of the community of Greater Dandenong, Council wishes to acknowledge your outstanding contribution towards enriching the quality of life for all who live and visit in Greater Dandenong. We wish you the very best for the future and look forward to your continued contribution to our great city as an active community member.