Bendigo Advertiser letters to the editor

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: The group Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children is calling for an end to offshore detention in the wake of the "Nauru Files" revelations.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: The group Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children is calling for an end to offshore detention in the wake of the "Nauru Files" revelations.

Open letter to Australia’s politicians

Dear Prime Minister and all members and senators.

With all our hearts, we implore you to release to safety in Australia the refugee children detained on Nauru.

We are a movement of 2000 grandmothers. We beg you to do all in your power to stop the enormous damage being done to the over 150 asylum seeker and refugee children in desperate and dangerous situations on Nauru.

The recently released “Nauru Files” documents over 2000 incident reports, outlining shocking details of physical and sexual assaults, self-harm attempts, poor living conditions and poor medical treatment.

Alarmingly, 51.3 per cent of these reports relate to children.

The Nauru Files is the latest in a long line of reports documenting devastating damage being done to innocent refugee children left in limbo on Nauru.

Dr Peter Young, former director of mental health for offshore detention centres, has emphasised that children are particularly vulnerable in “a system designed to drain people of hope”.

We, as grandmothers, cannot be silent.

We call on the Australian government to stop being part of the child abuse of refugee and asylum-seeker children.

We urge the prime minister and all parliamentarians to work together.

You must act now to resettle the child refugees and their families on Nauru into safe community settings on the Australian mainland.

Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children

New council must take back control

Councillor Peter Cox’s recent media comments, titled “Independence Day”, deserves a response.

His timely comments on the separation of powers under the Local Government Act, with councillors having the governance role and being responsible for policy and strategy decisions with the corporate arm (the officers) administering and implementing decisions under the CEO’s leadership, needs to be understood and heeded by everyone putting themselves up as candidates for election.

Under the present system, contrary to the intentions of the act, officers assume the governance role, and prepare the draft plan and budget after consulting special interest groups; councillors tinker at the edges claiming ownership, but make no meaningful contribution with limited opportunity for community input.

With officers firmly in control, they proceed to implement their own plan, council passing it off as the community’s effort.

Everyday citizens have little say on council’s direction and how their money is spent.

The ideas pool is primarily confined to officer thinking, ignoring alternative viewpoints.

It is time to go back to the drawing board and find councillors prepared to assume the governance role.

Many old compliant councillors have abdicated that role and seem comfortable with the current officer-driven spending program.

A starting point for the new council could be for them to initially meet independently of the officers, formulate strategies reflective of the aspirations of ordinary ratepayers, invite citizens to contribute ideas in a spirit of inclusiveness and call for input from business and community leaders, in complete openness, unlike the present secret forum meeting approach.

To be a successful council, plans and strategies need to be owned/endorsed by the community and not have them imposed from above.

Let’s hear from council candidates prepared to step up to the plate and tell voters how they would execute the governance role.

Michael McKenzie, Bendigo

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