The Mudgee Guardian polled readers on the issues they consider most important in the community. Among the many responses, five stood out as the 'top' issues. They were: roads, rail, sustainability, entertainment and housing.
This week, we look at entertainment.
Much has been achieved during my term in Council, including the latest children's movies, run by Rotary, varied and interesting holiday events at the libraries for children, the Liberty Swing installed in Robertson Park for residents in wheelchairs and the elderly. The Gulgong adventure park and the Mudgee water park and improvements to the region's skate parks. A further $10 million in grant funding has been secured for Glen Willow for 12 new sporting fields and club houses for the use of kids and adults and the Putta Bucca Wetlands expansion with improvements to walking tracks and bbq facilities.
This is great but we need to continue with more and diverse options for entertainment. In my opinion our local government area is lacking activities which would be good for people of all ages. An example would be a tenpin bowling alley. I would like to see the Council encourage and assist people to establish these types of businesses in our region. I will also continue to support youth initiatives and if elected will continue to promote our region as a great place to invest in and aim for Council to make the process as easy as possible for those wishing to start a business or invest in our region.
I have fond memories of waiting the entire school bus ride from Moolarben to Mudgee to see what new movie would be playing that week - announced on the theatre's analogue sign. The Titanic played for so long that I think I lost interest in the end and probably got back to playing snake on my mum's old Nokia. I think that means I'm old enough to represent a significant portion of Mudgee; it also means I'm too old to accurately represent the younger portion of Mudgee without consulting them in detail. Which is what I'd really like to do - work with the subject matter experts (in this case, I'm talking about our region's kids) to help direct the region's future.
Despite drought, fires and COVID, the Mid-Western Region is in an enviable economic position. I'm proud to say that we have the biggest budget we've ever had because we've been able to secure big investment dollars from State government programs that have saved our ratepayers millions. A bigger budget means a bigger opportunity for diversity in our spending. One of the main reasons I decided to run for Council again is because I feel like there have been a few things on the Region's wish list that are still in the pipeline and one of those is the BMX track for Kandos.
It's important to have diversity in sport and choices for remaining active so I think this is a big one for the young people in the area. Group G also has Peta Newsome, a local youth worker running as candidate Number 3, and Summer Land at Number 5 who is in touch with the Arts world. These are the right people to tap into our local youth, to listen to them and to understand what it is that they value.
Our region has a great tradition of sport and outdoor activity. The expansion of the Glen Willow facility in Mudgee is a great opportunity for structured sports activity for all age groups. There is great potential to foster the art and cultural activity within the Mudgee Arts Precinct. That's a great new facility.
I would like to see the development of more safe places for unstructured activity for the young people of the region.
The Kandos-Rylstone area needs something with a bit of ZING and Kandos-Rylstone has some great hills and bushland. What better combination than a push bike and a hill for a bit of fun. A BMX track for the Kandos-Rylstone would be a great thing. It would be great recreational activity for the young.
This is a project that we in Kandos have been talking about for some years and it would be great to see it come to pass. I know that there is support within Council for this project - we have just got to put together the right team to push it forward. Des, don't worry. It's in the pipeline.
I believe our Youth Council as an important part to play in this decision making. I will continue to listen to our Youth Council and take advice on projects we can undertake.
Council has done a good job in trying to cater for the entertainment needs of young people in our community. The skate parks, sporting facilities, parks and play grounds are of a high standard and are well maintained. They run community movies and support different arts and cultural events through out the year. The Youth Council is also a very good initiative and highlights the importance council places on the youth of our community.
I would push council to support the construction of quality mountain/bmx bike tracks and facilities, look at extending the length of time the swimming pools are open through the year or support an indoor aquatic centre and encourage organisations such as Mudgee Tourism to attract more youth oriented events and festivals.
The most important change I would make, is to have the current position of "Youth Officer", which is currently paid for through grants and sponsorship converted to a fully funded, full time position in Mid-Western Regional Council. This role would be responsible for co-ordinating councils resources and outside agencies toward the ongoing needs of our youth and would be the major conduit between the young people of our region and council.
This is a very common theme in conversations that I have with locals, and I'm committed to continuing to address it in another term as a Councillor. I played an instrumental role in securing funding for the Adventure Park at Gulgong, and believe this has been an exceptionally good example of how we can provide more options for our children and local families.
When we talk about providing facilities such as this, it's important that we recognise the importance of liveability. It's one thing to encourage people to move here, but it has to be an enjoyable place to live once they're here. Equally, we need it to be an enjoyable place to live for all of those who are already here. We live in one of the nicest spots in the world (I may be a little biased), and I believe we can continue to make it better, year in and year out.
One project that I'd love to see Council promote is a kids BMX bike park for the region. Not only would this be an incredibly entertaining facility that could be enjoyed by hundreds throughout our community, it should also be very achievable. My comment to ratepayers in respect of entertainment options is to come forward with your ideas. As Councillors, we don't always have the ideas, and some of our best often come from our own people. Tell us what you're thinking, what you've seen elsewhere, or what you'd like to see here, and there's a good chance, providing it has merits, and we have the capacity to do it, that it will be supported by Council.
It depends on how you define 'entertainment'. I am not sure it is Council's role to provide entertainment for the community. Entertainment venues and activities can be more efficiently and effectively managed by businesses and community groups if there is enough demand to make them commercially viable. To me Council's role is as an 'enabler' by providing infrastructure and support to community groups, and to business within planning guidelines.
Council has done a very good job developing high quality sporting facilities for our community to use and to attract major sporting fixtures to our region, providing entertainment to sports buffs and putting our region on the tourist map. The new Gallery in Mudgee will fill a much-needed cultural gap in the community and the workshop spaces will be useful for artists of all ages to showcase their talents and learn new skills.
We can create healthy and active communities if our parks, pools, footpaths, green space, and play spaces allow everyone to enjoy them safely. Not everyone wants to participate in organised sports and having a range of play options for both little and big kids, ensures access and equity in our community. Council needs to understand the community's priorities and advocacy is important to attract programmes and services to meet those priorities.
My background as a teacher and having worked with families and youth in crisis as well as in disability services does give me some oversight on this question.
The Youth Council provides an opportunity for young people in the region to have a voice in helping determine Council's priorities and highlight issues that need addressing, particularly programs and services relating to youth.
I will always take advice from locals as to what they see is lacking in our region and work with our Youth Council to address these concerns.
I have been working in my last term to get an Aquatic centre complex on the agenda at Council. I have also been putting a plan forward to redevelop Flirtation Hill to include a possible BMX style track. I also believe that there is an opportunity (given the right site) to develop an indoor recreation facility including things like indoor cricket, tennis, futsal and other similar activities.
Council has a Youth Council who meet on a regular basis and forward suggestions to Council for inclusion in its Management Plan. Council has developed a major sporting complex at Mudgee and provided sporting fields at Gulgong, Kandos and Rylstone. Skateparks have also been provided as well as adventure playgrounds and a water park at Mudgee. It is a DCP requirement for new residential subdivisions to provide within a 400 metre radius of the development. Swimming pools have been provided at Kandos and Gulgong as well as Mudgee and libraries are established in all four towns.
The library provides story reading for children and also IT facilities. Organisations such as Scouts and Guides provide opportunities for group activities such as camping and bush walking. Service Clubs often offer activities for youth to participate in. There is also the opportunity for Council to provide vacation activities during school holidays ay our halls. Now that we have a cultural centre this could be extended to art and culture workshops. Drop in centres with coffee facilities could be established for after school activities.
Every Decision, Every Time believes it is time to undertake an extensive consultation process with the young people in the Mid-Western Council area to find out how to improve their entertainment options. The last consultation process was in 2017 and it resulted in a Youth Strategy, Youth Council, Youth Worker and some infrastructure such as the water park at Mudgee. Every Decision, Every Time councillors would be keen to participate with the Youth Council in running this consultation.
With regard to entertainment for young and older children. In the first instance I would like to conduct a survey of young children and then older children (not all entertainment would suit every age group) to find out what type of entertainment they wanted. This would be a start.
Not all entertainment for children is a Council responsibility but that of private enterprises.
Ten Pin Bowling has had a resurgence in popularity. We used to have a bowling alley in Mudgee maybe we could get one back again.
Maybe drama classes would be possible. These could be incorporated with the dance schools and would suit all age groups.
Sports are pretty well covered for older children but is lacking for the younger children. This would be something that could be rectified with the different clubs being encouraged to make the different sports available for younger children.
Boys and girls alike are into biking whether it be BMX, mountain biking or motocross bikes. Maybe there should be more bike tracks and circuits around the region as we have plenty of open space. This type of sport also encourages competition which is beneficial to a child's development.
Since we're talking particularly about entertainment for children and young people, I'd like send a message to the young people interested in influencing council's offerings for their demographic: join the Mid-Western Regional Youth Council! This is a group of young people who work directly with council's youth services officer to plan school holiday activities, after-school groups, and big events for young people. They have their own budget for projects and they have influence over council's decisions. Young people don't have to wait for our old councillors to hear about their ideas - you can bring it straight to the Youth Council and give it the best possible chance of becoming a reality.
Through my work outside of council, I'm involved with numerous forms of entertainment and creative community activities, particularly with young people. So my contribution to this discussion leans towards creative endeavours - some of the future possibilities I can see are a filmmaking club and a creative program linked to the artists and exhibitions at the Mudgee Arts Precinct.
Many of the most popular activities for young people in the Mid-Western Region are presented by volunteer groups, and council is often best able to support these activities by providing facilities and partnerships for these groups. In the last term, I've been pleased to be part of council's cooperation with creative groups on the planned transformation of the former Court Street TAFE, into a home for multiple not-for-profit creative and educational organisations.
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