Here we explain more about our 3 strategic objectives so you can understand what they mean.
Strategic objective 1
Connected community – we want Merri-bek’s residents feel connected to their community. We want everyone to be cared for, healthy and safe.
Strategic objective 2
Progressive city – as more people make Merri-bek their home, we want to make sure the area is a great place to live, now and in the future.
Strategic objective 3
Responsible council – we improve the way we deliver services to meet our community’s evolving needs.
Strategic objective 1: case study 1
The future of leisure
We completed stage 1 of a major upgrade to Coburg Leisure Centre during 2020-21.
This is a $1.4 million project that included:
- new tiling in the 25 metre and children’s pools
- new children’s water play features
- upgraded pool plant and filtration systems.
Updates to the changeroom facilities and the spa/sauna area are underway. This is one part of our commitment to great leisure and aquatic facilities.
We also started talking to the community about the upgrade of Fawkner Leisure Centre. This is so it meets the needs of our changing and growing community.
We invited the local community to join focus groups in March 2021. More than 40 people worked with us to explore priorities for the centre. We had a wide range of people from across the Fawkner community take part in these groups.
We looked at all of the ideas and priorities the focus groups gave us. We used these to develop a high-level concept design for the centre.
We talked to the community about these concepts during the 2021-22 year. We are now working with our architects to use this feedback to develop detailed plans for the centre. We will present this back to the community.
Strategic objective 1: case study 2
Merri-bek for all
We worked last year to make more of Merri-bek accessible to people with disability.
This included a wide range of actions.
Our sports and leisure centres are now more accessible to people with low vision or blindness. This is after we installed new navigation technology. This was a partnership with Guide Dogs Victoria.
BlindSquare helps blind, deafblind and partially sighted people move through spaces safely. It is now available at:
- Coburg Leisure Centre
- Fawkner Leisure Centre
- Brunswick Baths
- Oak Park Sports and Aquatic Centre.
BlindSquare is an app. It describes where a user is within the centre and helps them find their way around. It uses location services and Bluetooth beacons.
At Coburg City Oval we started upgrades to the heritage-listed pavilion and grandstand. We are improving the facility’s accessibility. This includes a new lift and updates to amenities.
We also spent $45,000 on improving the accessibility of bus shelters. And $80,000 on accessibility upgrades of our pedestrian network.
To keep improving, we developed a new 4-year capital works program. This will improve the accessibility of activity centres, like shopping strips.
During 2020-21, we also:
- improved our website to meet international accessibility standards
- implemented a 12-month inclusive traineeship program for 5 people with disability
- developed and piloted a grant program for local businesses to improve disability access.
Strategic objective 2: case study 1
Better outcomes for you
The Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) has been Merri-bek’s single largest civic infrastructure project.
The State Government leads the LXRP. During 2020-21, we continued advocating to them about the project. We focused on involving the community.
We worked for better outcomes for you. These included:
- new walking and bike paths
- new playgrounds
- extra open space equal to 2 MCGs in area.
This is on top of the removal of 4 level crossings and new stations at Coburg, Merri-bek and Glenroy.
We supported local businesses in Glenroy during the major works. We ran a mentoring program and a ‘Feed the Workforce’ initiative. This gave workers vouchers to local food outlets.
We also worked to create a hub for the arts and invest in the arts. We are partnering with LXRP to deliver public art along the Bell to Merri-bek rail corridor.
Strategic objective 2: case study 2
Parks close to your home
We want everyone in Merri-bek to have access to quality open space.
Parks and open spaces are more and more important as our population grows. We also need green spaces to help us keep our city cool during summer.
We want there to be a park or open space within at least 500 metres walking distance of everyone’s home. This is the aim of our A Park Close to Home program.
In 2020-21, we opened 2 new parks in this program. Our new Garrong and Bulleke-bek parks are both in Brunswick.
Bulleke-bek Park – at West and Breese streets – is a 2,600 square metre park. We asked for your ideas for the park, and it has:
- lots of different places for kids to play
- community gardens and a food forest, plus space to enjoy communal meals
- 2 BBQ areas with tables and seating
- seating throughout the park
- a grassed area
- a composting toilet.
Garrong Park – on Tinning Street – features a space for children’s play. It also has native plants and lots of trees for shade. We are also adding street art and murals by local artists.
We also started working on a new park at Frith Street, Brunswick. During the year we engaged the community on the design of this park.
We also asked you about our draft plan for another new park in Glenroy. This is a 1,400 square metre park at 132 Cardinal Road. This pocket park should be finished by mid-2022.
During 2020-21, we also upgraded other playgrounds. We worked on playgrounds in:
- Martin Reserve in Hadfield
- Balfe Park in Brunswick East
- Douglas Reserve in Brunswick East.
Martin Reserve now has more equipment and nature play opportunities. We designed Douglas Reserve to bring in elements supported by the community.
Strategic objective 3: case study 1
Our new vision
We have a new community vision that reflects how you want Merri-bek to be in the next 10 years.
Writing this vision was one of our key achievements during the year. We talked to the community and followed our new Community Engagement Policy. This new policy meets the requirements of the new Local Government Act 2020.
We talked to:
- 2,000+ members of the Merri-bek community at events and online
- 44 people who joined our community panel
- 150 stakeholder groups.
We called this process Imagine Merri-bek. We asked the community what sort of place you hope to live, work and play in.
First, we spoke to you through:
- pop-up events
- focus groups
- online conversations
- questionnaires you returned to us.
We received 3,227 contributions from over 2,000 Merri-bek citizens. Then we sent 30,000 invitations to random households across Merri-bek. We invited people to tell us if they wanted to take part in a community panel.
From those who volunteered, we randomly selected 44 people. They were young and old, and from different backgrounds, like people in Merri-bek. The people on the panel reflected Merri-bek’s diversity.
This panel met several times. They met face to face and online. They learned about the hopes the community had for the future. These hopes were what you told us earlier in the year at our events and other activities.
They also spoke to experts about key local issues.
Using this information, the panel members worked together to develop a community vision. The vision is used as a guide to write important documents such as the council plan. The council plan says how we will work towards achieving the new community vision.
Strategic objective 3 case study 2
Working for Victoria
We were proud to deliver the Working for Victoria initiative in 2020-21.
The State Government gave us a $16.18 million grant to run this program. It provided temporary employment to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We employed approximately 308 people in fixed-term 6-month roles.
Maddy Wald joined our Public Participation team through Working for Victoria. In this role, Maddy helped us with our Imagine Merri-bek community engagement project.
She said: “Before I got my Working for Victoria role, I was at a local community health organisation. My contract ended and I was pretty stressed out about what was going to happen in the middle of the pandemic.”
“The Working for Victoria program has just been a lifesaver for me. It’s given me really valuable experience in local government.”
Working for Victoria staff helped us support the community through other roles, including:
- tending to our parks and open spaces
- maintaining other council facilities and venues
- distributing COVID-19 information to residents
- working with the community to share important information. This included working with culturally and linguistically diverse community members
- delivering food and meals for vulnerable people
- cleaning our assets, including graffiti removal
- supporting local businesses.
Zach was another of our Working for Victoria employees. He worked in our Garden Maintenance team. Before the pandemic he worked in hospitality. He said: “Working for Victoria has given me a really good opportunity. There’s a lot of uncertainty and no one knows what’s going on. But with the 6-month contract it’s great that I can come out here and work. I can put some money in the bank in times when no one knows where the next pay cheque is coming from.”
Luke McShane also joined our Garden Maintenance team. He said: “I have always worked in office spaces. I’ve always thought that’s what I’d be doing. But working outside is actually a lot more satisfying and fulfilling … which is great for mental health.”
We offered some further temporary and ongoing roles to our Working for Victoria staff at the end of the scheme. The Working for Victoria initiative ended in April 2021.