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
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, its 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 70’s 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 out-sider’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.
I regularly take photos at events I attend. Where possible, I take photos from the back so that people, particularly children, are not identifiable. The photos are for my councillor social media pages including https://www.facebook.com/councillorseanoreilly.
It is not always possible to seek permission for photographs. Legally, photos of anyone in public are allowable, as explained in the following links:
As I respect that some people do not want photos published, I commit to deleting any photos of yourself or people related to you that you object to. Please let me know which photos you request to be deleted, and I commit to deleting all copies.
Please phone me on 0422 523 258 if you wish to discuss this further.
Official council photos
Council generally has a sign up at most events regarding official council photos and your right to object. If you wish to query a photo taken by the council photographer, please email council at firstname.lastname@example.org
The following is an edited summary of the response I received from the Director regarding parking issues.
While Stopping on or across a driveway (or any other access for vehicles to or from adjacent land) is an offence under the Victorian Road Rules (Sec. 198 (2)) there is however no distance stipulated in the Victorian legislation.
There are exceptions to this such as dropping off or picking up a passenger, ensuring the driver does not leave their vehicle unattended and moving the vehicle on as soon as possible or within two minutes afterwards.
Can residents report an incident with a photo, and then an infringement be issued by council?
Council officers would not issue an infringement notice based solely on a picture attached to a report from a resident. The matter would , however, be rostered for a council patrol once a resident’s Snap Send Solve is received.
While the council could roster some shifts in the future to cover some of these times in the future, I would also encourage residents to contact Victoria Police should the matter fall outside of our council patrol hours. This information is provided to customers by the council’s after-hours service provider should they contact the council after business hours. Victoria Police are authorised to issue infringements for Victorian Road Rules offences.
Frankston Regional Recycling and Recovery Centre 20 Harold Road, Skye (off Ballarto Road, opposite the Skye Recreation Reserve) Phone: 1300 322 322 Open: seven days a week, 8am-4pm Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day
Knox Transfer Station and Recycling Centre George Street, Wantirna South (Melway reference 72 D3) Phone: 9887 4222 Open: seven days a week from 7.30am–4.30pm (closed: Christmas Day, Good Friday)
SITA Australia / Outlook Waste Transfer and Recycling Centre 274 Hallam Road, Hampton Park (Melway reference 129 F1) Phone: 9799 6277
Monash Waste Transfer Station and Recycling Centre 390 Ferntree Gully Road, Notting Hill (Melway reference 70 H8) Phone: 9518 3767 Open: seven days a week from 7.30am–4pm (closed: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Anzac Day before 12pm)
Having been a long time resident of Springvale, I have noticed that a lot of residents are treating certain areas as dumping grounds.
It appears that anywhere where there appears to be a higher density of people (i.e. flats/units), there seems to be more rubbish. The creek is always full of rubbish whether it be a shopping trolley, a tv, shoes, bags etc. So naturally when a downpour occurs, that all ends up being pushed downstream thus polluting our waterways. The fencing next to the railway lines (along Newcomen Rd) also seems to attract its fair share where I have seen mattresses, tyres etc. This is just one area – I imagine there are plenty of others within the suburb.
Ideally, as people seem to be lazy and find dumping easier than calling for a collection, the council needs to implement a regular inspection of the city and clean up as rubbish is just unsightly and an environmental issue.
Perhaps the free once-yearly collection on a standard date should be re-instated along with allowing each household one extra free collection a year (one that needs to be booked via the council). This could be more appealing to residents.
Thank you for taking the time to read my email and I hope something can be done to help rectify the situation.
Thank you for your feedback and suggestions.
The problem is quite well defined. Solutions are harder to come by. Rubbish dumping is quite hard to combat as the culprits do it out of sight.
Council recently discussed the cost and efficacy of once yearly collection. My recollection is that it wasn’t supported – it would cost the council an extra million dollars at least that would be passed on to ratepayers in the waste charge.
We have and are trying new initiatives such as in the following links. A surprising piece of advice when I asked the council officers involved was that these initiatives do not seem the impact rubbish dumping. The initiatives just make it more convenient for residents that are already doing the right thing.
Your suggestion of regular inspections & clean up is also something I’ve raised, but it was not supported due to the cost. We do have hotspots that are regularly inspected and cleaned up, but to inspect the whole municipality on a regular basis would cost a lot.
What is the size limit for trucks, where they can or are allowed to have them on the properties? If they are bigger than 3 tonnes or 5 tonnes I believe they may be illegally parked on the street, is that correct?
The maximum weight for a truck to be parked in a residential street or on a residential property is 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) or 7.5 metres in length. A permit may be issued for a larger truck where it is parked on a residential property, however, permits are not issued for larger trucks to park in residential streets. As such, any truck exceeding 4.5 tonnes or 7.5 metres in length that is parked on a residential street would be doing so illegally.
Council issues parking infringement notices (fines) for vehicles parked over driveways, however, Council does not have the authority to issue fines for most other traffic offences. The Police may be able to enforce other traffic offences if resources permit. If there are particular locations of concern, the police generally recommend contacting Crimestoppers at https://www.crimestoppersvic.com.au/report-a-crime/ or on 1800 333 000.
Events attracting over 200 attendees on Council land in the City of Greater Dandenong require an event permit.
To commence an application for an event permit, complete the intention to hold an event form and return to Council within the relevant application deadline. Once this is received, Council will advise the next steps of the application and whether any other relevant event application forms are required.
Event application deadlines
All event applications forms must be submitted by due dates outlined below, otherwise, the event will not be approved and may need to be rescheduled to a later date.
If the submitted event documentation is incomplete or requires additional work, the event may need to be rescheduled to a later date. If that is required, the later date will only be confirmed once all forms are completed correctly.
Link to council webpage: http://greaterdandenong.com/news/1754/fighting-pokies-together
Following are my responses to questions put to me by a RMIT student:
Q:The statement you’ve linked me to is from a couple of years ago now. It’s clear the council has a strong stance in regards to gambling, what significant moves has the council taken towards lowering the average of gambling losses?
There’s not a great deal that local councils can do, given that the final arbiter on individual applications and the cap on the number of machines allowed per municipality is the Victorian Government.
As you mention, the council is part of a multi-council coalition against problem gambling. This coalition has become significantly stronger in the last six months, as more councils have joined the coalition.
The council does have limited success. For example, recently we voted down an increase of machines at Club Noble and the club did not appeal to the Victorian Government.
Q: Given that the council has been aware of this issue for a long time, is it of concern that these loss statistics are still so high today?
Most definitely. More than ever, our local community has less disposable income and is more vulnerable to the effects of problem gambling.
Q: What ongoing actions does the council have in place to lower these losses, and have they been changed by recent revelations, or do they remain the same?
I’m not sure of the revelations you refer to. The amount of money lost to gambling in Greater Dandenong has been high for a long time.
The council has the following actions to reduce problem gambling:
Assess each application for increase including the context of harm to the community by problem gambling.
Continue the multi-council coalition to advocate to the Victorian Government for, in particular, harm minimisation. Harm minimisation is about making it harder for an individual to lose a large amount of money in a short time. One of these initiatives is $1 minimum bets, which we were happy to see has been supported by Coles.
Support community initiatives such as Australian Friendship Chess that offers an alternative to gambling.
Support awareness of problem gambling by initiatives such as Two Sides of the Coin.
Q: Your statement reads, “a lot of what Council is trying to achieve is hampered by the impact of gambling including domestic violence, crime as well as physical and mental health”. Have you seen any changes in these areas within the community having joined this taskforce and taken a more aggressive stance on gambling?
I haven’t seen any data or studies showing a causal link between problem gambling and purported associated issues. What we do know is that problem gambling takes money out of family budgets, and one of the main stresses on family relationships and well-being is financial stress.
Response to questions by Cr Matthew Kirwan:
State legislation specifies a dual role for Councils in the process of approval as follows:
• The initial granting of planning approval of the addition of further electronic gaming machines(EGMs) or establishment of a new gambling venue; and
• In terms of the next step under state legislation which requires applicants to also seek approval from the State Government Statutory Authority known as the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), the opportunity to respond to an application by submission to VCGLR. As part of this process, legislation specifies the amount of time Councils may take to notify the VCGLR of its intention in relation to an application and to present its submission on behalf of the community. Having made a submission, Council has the option of supporting its position with an oral presentation at a hearing of the Commission, should it choose to do so.
So, in short we can’t stop ultimately gaming machine applications nor do we have the power to remove EGMs. Recently our rejection of an application for 20 additional machines in Club Noble in Noble Park was supported by the VCGLR but they ultimately had the power to decide.
Hence with dealing with the problem of the very large number of machines at Keysborough Hotel, and the very large losses there (from memory in the Top 10 across Melbourne) our role is advocacy related specifically to advocate, and support the advocacy of other local governments or organisations, for reform to the regulation of EGM gambling, including but not limited to the following:
• Reduction in the density and number of EGMs permitted under the caps of EGMS, in municipalities of socio-economic disadvantage and relatively high EGM density (one of the caps covers Greater Dandenong);
• Measures that diminish problem gambling. For example:
– Imposition of a limit of $1 upon the amount of money that may be lost in a single bet on an EGM;
– Removal of EFTPOS facilities from EGM gambling venues;
– Introduction of a compulsory pre-commitment mechanism; and
– Increased State Government financial support for programs and services that prevent problem gambling or the harms associated with
• An extension in the period of time Councils are allowed to respond to gambling applications; and
• Revision of the VCGLR Social and Economic Impact Assessment Form, to more clearly direct local governments to relevant evidence about the local impact of gambling applications.