“Social distancing” is the problem.

Most people won’t keep their distance. I have been in a few public places in the last few days and haven’t witnessed any discernible difference in people’s behaviour.

That is why the “social distancing” policy is mostly ineffectual because:

  • it’s seen as rude to deliberately distance yourselves from others, particularly in a social setting.
  • personal risk of the virus won’t hit home to many people until someone they know has the virus.

Unfortunately, shut-down is the only next step worth taking. This removes places that people can come together and transmit the virus.

Masks are the new fashion.

I wear a mask whenever I come within two metres of another person. If you come within two metres of another person, you should be wearing a mask.

People are infectious with the virus for four days before symptoms appear. The most common transmission occurs not from surfaces or hands, but from breathing. It surprises me that more in my local community are not wearing masks – in other countries, it is default behaviour to wear a mask even if you have no symptoms. Given that there are now projections for 50,000 to die in Australia, you could save a life by wearing a mask.

A four day incubation period with no symptoms. Act as if you have the virus.

Coronavirus and social media

The way that news is propagated to the public has changed.

Before social media

Before social media, important government announcements in Australia were efficiently transmitted via:

  • two newspapers in each city; and
  • five television channels in each city.

The situation now

Now, a large proportion of the public’s primary source of news is via social media channels. News-related posts are mixed in amongst posts about cats and selfies.

This makes it more difficult during crisis situations for government to communicate a consistent message to the public. There is no consistent timing for social media posts to appear in a user’s feed, so it can happen that news stories can be out of sequence in a user’s news feed, resulting in misinformation and confusion.

What needs to happen?

In future, government should legislate so that in a crisis:

  • Government posts are mandated as highest priority across the main social media used in Australia; and
  • Mandated SMS text messaging should be used for official government information.

Coronavirus in Australia should be contained

My inexpert guess is that Coronavirus infections will be contained within the next 6 months.

The basis is the following:

  • Australia is a sparsely populated country. It is one of the least densely populated countries. Therefore people coming close enough to each other to be infected is less likely.
  • Australia is an island and can more easily control its borders.
  • Australia has a strong health system to support virus testing and remediation of the infected.
  • Australians are well informed of hygiene, and infection mitigation.
  • The virus does not cope well in the hotter temperatures in Australia.

The risk

The ongoing risk is mass infection triggered by a single event, example as follows:

An infected individual attends a mass event. The infected individual comes into enough sustained contact to infect a large number of people. The whereabouts of this large number of infected people are untraceable after the event.

If this single event occurs, then all bets are off and contagion will be much more widespread.

The consequences

The most likely consequence for most of the public in Australia will not be health-related. The effects will be damage to the economy due to loss of confidence; disruption in international trade; less international tourists due to restrictions; and a shortage of some goods.

Disclaimer
Personal opinion only. The infection rates of the coronavirus are impossible to predict accurately and most affected by the public’s actions.

What does a local councillor do?

I still find it is not commonly known what exactly a local councillor does, and that there are quite a few misconceptions by the public. I will try to explain as simply as possible:

A councillor is a member of a “board of directors”

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Chief Ex…
councillors
counc…
 appoints 
 appoints 
day-to-day
council staff and operations
day-to-day…
Viewer does not support full SVG 1.1
  • Councillors provide input and give final approval to council policies.
  • Councillors provide input and give final approval to the whole of the council’s annual budget.

A councillor represents the community

  • Councillors are elected by the public and are expected to listen to residents’ feedback and any issues that a resident may have with something about the council.
  • Councillors provide input and give final approval to the whole of the council’s annual budget.
  • Councillors can attend local events and community group functions.

How much does a councillor get paid?

A councillor in a metropolitan council gets paid around $30,000 per year.

How many hours a week does a councillor work?

  • There is generally one important council meeting per week that goes for around four hours. Councillors should have read the agenda papers prior to the council meeting.
  • In elected positions, there is no “boss” as such. Councillors are expected to do a good job otherwise they will be voted out at the next election.
  • Some councillors also working a full-time job so have to fit councillor duties around their full-time job.
  • Generally, I find that on average councillors work from 6 to 10 hours per week, depending on what is happening, and the circumstances of the individual councillor.

Planning application flowchart

I’ve put together a draft guide on the council planning process. Please don’t hold me to the complete accuracy of it. I’ve just done it to try to explain the quite complex process when residents object to a planning application.

1 objection
1 objection
2 or 3
objections
2 or 3…
4 or more
objections
4 or more…
How many objections?
How many objections?
Decision made by council planning department
Decision made by council planning…
decision to approve
decision to approve
decision to refuse
decision to refuse
Decision made at public council meeting by elected councillors
Decision made at public council meet…
Recommendation made by council planning department
Recommendation made by council plann…
Meeting between applicant and objectors
Meeting between applicant and object…
residential
residential
non-residential
non-residential
Type of application?
Type of application?
Yes
Yes
Decision appealed by objectors?
Decision appealed by objectors?
Yes
Yes
Decision appealed by applicant?
Decision appealed by applicant?
Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal
(VCAT)
Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal…
Final decision
Final decision
Yes
Yes
Decision appealed by applicant?
Decision appealed by applicant?
Application received
Application received
Advertise the application:
newspapers
letterbox drop
Advertise the application:…
Council receives objections
Council receives objections
Council receives objections
Council receives objections
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Postal vs attendance voting


Postal voting

All voters receive a ballot paper through the mail. They are required to complete the declaration and return their vote through the mail.

  • Easier for mobility-impaired voters.
  • Easier for multicultural English-challenged voters. They have day rather than minutes to seek advice and help from family and friends
  • Increased window to vote. Some voters forget to return their voting papers.
  • More likelihood of “dummy” candidates being used to direct preferences to main candidates. This has been mitigated somewhat by candidate preference lists no longer included in the vote pack.
  • Public perception that votes are easier to manipulate than attendance elections.

Attendance voting

All voters are required to attend a polling booth on the election data. Other options are early voting (aka pre-poll), or voters can apply for a postal vote.

  • More likely to be person-to-person contact. Candidate might be at polling booth (note that there are around 9 voting booths per ward).
  • Local schools can run fundraising BBQs on election day, colloquially known as democracy sausage.
  • More difficult for genuine grass-roots community candidates to run a campaign. Newer candidates find it hard to staff around 7 polling booths from 8am to 6pm on polling day.
  • Some voters feel intimidated by having to “run the gauntlet” of people handing them how-to-vote cards outside the polling booth.
  • Waste of paper. A lot of paper is used for candidates’ how-to-vote cards.
  • Voters have to stand in queues on a Saturday.
  • Voters generally make a quick decision after receiving how-to-vote cards from candidates.
  • Bad weather.

References

Greater Dandenong attendance vote to cost more than $200,000

Election information


Note
The information presented on this website does not represent a final position. All viewpoints will be considered up to the point where a final decision is made.

Keep clear markings

I received this response from VicRoads regarding generally how Keep Clear markings are implemented:

It should be noted that ‘Keep Clear’ markings are primarily used to minimise delays to through traffic on arterial roads caused by vehicles queuing to turn right onto a side road. Where right-turning vehicles are able to wait safely in a dedicated turning lane, as is this case, they do not obstruct the flow of through traffic and hence Keep Clear is not considered necessary at this location. These markings are not intended to enable motorists from side roads to turn into the main road.

Springvale North-East Quadrant

Affected area is:

Google maps link

What’s the problem?

Drivers living in this area that need to travel north up Springvale Road, have to turn onto Lightwood Road or Springvale Road. But there’s no traffic lights to help with these turns.

Resolution by Greater Dandenong Council

On 8 July 2019, Cr Sean O’Reilly moved the a motion at the City of Greater Dandenong council meeting. The motion was passed unanimously by council.

Councillor Sean O’Reilly at council meeting
Notice-of-Motion-No.71-Springvale-North-East-Quadrant

Question to council

Ordinary-Council-Meeting-181210_1

Media references

What does this mean?

It means that council believes that this area is a problem.

It means that council has officially adopted an advocacy position towards organisations such as VicRoads and the Victorian Government.

It means that council has committed to resourcing further evidence gathering to support council’s advocacy position.

Example

Accident cnr Lightwood Road and Lindsay Williams Crossing – occurred on 15 July 2019

Advocacy

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing and shoes

On 25/10/2019, a delegation of residents met with the Victorian Premiers’ adviser.

Hon-Jaala-Pulford-Minister-for-Roads-re-congestion-delays-around-Springvale-Station-project-26.11.19

Letter to Minister from Mayor, City of Greater Dandenong

Kate Durham’s speech on Dandenong

Artist Kate Durham gave a speech strongly endorsing the City of Greater Dandenong’s support of asylum seekers and refugees.

Speech at the opening of Home Here and Now at Walker St Gallery, Dandenong, 2 July 2015:

By Kate Durham

Kate Durham at Walker Street Gallery, Dandenong
Hello Dandenong. Defiant Dandenong, look at you, how you’ve grown. I remember you, but not like this. Dandenong you are like a council of nations. Here in this intricate city is an Ark, as if from the bible, representatives of every breed, clan or culture are assembled here, a gathering has taken place, Moses would be pleased. But what did this city know of the bewildering displacement, the loss of art and cultivation, the self-expression or the needs of the people of the world? Or how to welcome their tentative steps towards a cautious resettlement, in an often hostile terrain? 

What is the purpose of the shelter, the vessel, the shield you have made here? The purpose is a very human one: to allow people to represent and to reproduce themselves, and their lives; to find passage to future generations, to stretch their allotted time and space on this ground, to leave a sea of turmoil. Like those animals in the Ark, people seek, if not deliverance from a place of evil, then a place to stay and to be, the way a creature needs a habitat. 

The people of the well-named “Greater Dandenong” recognised as an opportunity, other’s need to find a resolution to the search, a nest, a home, a full stop. With them, they also knew those exotic people would bring their freight of ancestry, their knowledge, their joke-bags, their grievance and losses, fears and expectations. 

Their great enterprise will be to flourish, but also to pass on an indefinable essence, to pass it on, and to pass it on. Like the game Pass The Parcel: here is my gift, it may get smaller, but keep it, please keep it. 

I’m picturing Dandenong, twenty years from now. Take yourself there now, on a little mental voyage. You may discover, that for the first time in a long while, white people, and certainly white females like me, even with the price of a ticket, can no longer travel to more than a quarter of the world’s surface, it’s prohibited or at least risky. White people are astonished, they have been the ones fussing over, visas, tickets and border control. We, no longer rule the world. we start to experience ostracism, mistrust and boundaries, like those immigrants only a generation ago. 

The travel Industry has not shut down, a vast commercial machine like that won’t rest or die, it will simply restrict or invent our horizons in a manner that suits its business model. They are already doing it. Travel is re-focussing, its offering has changed. In the ’70s the idea was to experience otherness, other cultures, other vistas. Nowadays its imperative to experience more about YOU. You, trekking, you on a mountain. you, snorkelling, you chilling on a beach, any beach. You taking a short trip around Europe within the sanitary and speedy confines of an ersatz Las Vegas: Disneyland for grown-ups, time-poor and afraid of anything but the highlights…

Some of you and some of these artists will remain here in Dandenong. Most of you will possess far more than highlights, you will have the fine grain, the memory, the advice of your former politics and parents. You will have a culture that is not thin, not dilute, but strengthened by its hybridity. Dandenong will be well known for its cultural curiosity and learning. 

The artists in this show have something in common, mostly their otherness. In the future, artists like Valamanesh will not have such close, direct insight into Islamic Art and its cosmic gaze, but they’ll have this artist to guide them so the past won’t be so misunderstood. I’ve followed this artist for a while, admiring his cool austerity and wit.

I also know and have desired artworks by Guan Wei, also witty, with an outsider’s idiosyncratic eye in relation to Australia. 

Rhubaba Haider’s work spoke immediately to me of her feminine Hazara heritage. She has morphed that knowledge into something strong yet fragile and contemporary, and philosophical. Whilst retaining a great deal of a typical Hazara woman’s discipline and personal restraint. 

Khaled Sabsabi‘s work turns like a Dervish on Sufi themes, that strange metaphysical branch of Islam which is becoming endangered. Thank you Khaled for preserving it. 

Gosia Wlodarczak’s unsettled lines following and chasing life, restless and unfixable, charting her relationship to objects. She makes a cartographic record over time and space.

Kosar Majani’s work is highly symbolic and resonant. It speaks of unrelenting rituals and repetitions that we’ve never known or encountered, in our young country. 

20 years from now we may find ourselves grateful that Greater Dandenong ignored the “Team Australia” slogans of some of the worst leadership known in this country. That Prime Minister tried to frighten us about the living and cultural aspirations of others, demanding to know whose side we were on, challenging us to mistrust foreigners or the unfamiliar.

Fortunately, we barely remember that Prime Minister, he left no relics or artefacts. Unlike these artists who will again join us in a gathering just like this to fill this once slight and shallow space with all our lives, heredity, children, art, adventures and exploration on the vast subject of US and WE. Not THEM or THEY. 

Thank you Dandenong, dear Dandenong: you are the Ark. Pass it on, pass it on.