Friday, 14 September 2012

Robyn Erwin - Achieving for Your Community

Hi, my name is Robyn Erwin and I am standing as a candidate for the South Ward of Kingston Council.  I have lived in Chelsea Heights for 24 years and love the community, the beaches and the wetlands. 

As a councillor I will support:

-          Adequate funding for community facilities and organisations

-          Reduction of Kingston council’s greenhouse emissions

-          Protection  and enhancement of the Green Wedge

-          Protection of open spaces and natural environments

-          Community programmes to support sustainable living

-          Adequate funding of local sporting and youth facilities and clubs

-          Protection and planting of indigenous plants

-          Protection of neighbourhood character

-          Real community consultation so that people have real input into decisions that affect them

Strengthening the Local Community

Whilst raising my children over the last 13 years I have worked voluntarily to strengthen the local community through a number of community groups and organisations including:

-          Chelsea Heights Community Centre

-          The Friends of Manatuto (initiator and secretary)

-          Chelsea Heights EarthCarers (group convenor)

-          EarthCarers Community Garden (co-ordinator)

-          Chelsea Heights Kindergarten

-          Chelsea Heights Playgroup

-          Chelsea Heights Primary School (currently School Council President)

-          Kingston Conservation and Environment Coalition

-          Kingston Council’s Climate Change and Biodiversity Reference Group

These experiences have given me a sound understanding of the needs and concerns of the area as well as the skills to work with groups to achieve results in developing strong communities.  I know that the best results are achieved when the varied knowledge and skills of all those involved are pooled together. I know how to listen and I value the views of everyone.

In standing for council I want to achieve a strong connected community where people’s views are valued and people feel they have real input into decisions that affect them.

I believe that one of our greatest needs as people is to feel connections with other people. When people have strong connections they feel greater well being. People are less inclined to be disruptive to their own community. Some people’s circumstances enable them to achieve connections without outside support. Many others need assistance to do this or need extra support at particular times in their lives. Council plays a key role in ensuring that opportunities, facilities and activities are available to all sectors of the community. It needs to play a direct role in providing some services and ensure that other groups and clubs that provide these services are well resourced and supported.

My greatest passion and the thing that really drives my work in the community is my concern for the environment and the threats to all of us of climate change. I want to ensure that our council does all that it can to protect our local environment and ensure a safe climate future.


Climate Change and Sustainable Living

Kingston has begun to take action to reduce its own greenhouse emissions and as a Kingston councillor I will ensure that these continue and improve. 

I will work to ensure council supports sustainable living initiatives within the community including community gardens, waste reduction and education.

I will call for council to investigate options for the installation and funding of solar power plants on some of the many large roofs within the city – including some of council owned buildings or on factories within the area. Similar projects are under investigation in other municipalities with funding options including community investment.


The Green Wedge

The Green Wedge must be protected and revitalised so:

- it can serve its purpose as the lungs of our city

- it can provide open spaces for our community –to play sport, go for a bike ride or just appreciate and relax in a natural environment

- it can play its role in providing food security for the citizens of the area in the future.

Having adopted the Green Wedge Management Plan Kingston council has the opportunity to transform the Green Wedge into a vital area showcasing the diverse uses of open space. Kingston must continue to consult and work with the local community to put in place the Plan's recommendations. I would like to see a network support group for local food producers to help tackle the issues they face in farming their land. Water management processes must be implemented to cater for the increased run-off through the Green Wedge. As a priority I would advocate for implementation of the Chain of Parks and safeguarding of conservation areas.

My involvement in the Kingston Community

Whilst raising my children over the last 13 years I have worked voluntarily to strengthen the local community through a number of community groups and organisations.

Chelsea Heights Community Centre

 I have been on the committee of Chelsea Heights Community Centre for over 12 years, for most of that time in the role of either President or Secretary. This has led to direct involvement in issues and activities relating to childcare, youth, seniors, wellness, sustainability and many more. A community centre is a real hub where you are able to experience all sides of the local community and gain a strong understanding of its needs and issues.

Education and Children

As a parent I have been fortunate to have been able to take on roles on committees relating to my children’s activities and education including Chelsea Heights Playgroup, Chelsea Heights Kindergarten and Chelsea Heights Primary School, where I am currently President of the School Council.  This year I’ve worked with Grade Fours at Chelsea Heights Primary to manage the school’s vegetable garden.

I am aware of the current uncertainties that kindergartens face with proposed changes to regulations regarding teaching hours and as a councillor would work to ensure that committees are supported in their decision making processes.

I’m also aware of the importance of affordable occasional childcare to our community and have been directly involved in ensuring that the occasional childcare service at Chelsea Heights Community Centre has remained open despite recent government funding cuts.

Sustainable Living and Climate Change

My greatest passion and driving force is the need to protect the environment and the threats to all of us of climate change.

In 2008 my concern led me to organise a series of seminars designed to both inform people and empower them to reduce their impact on the environment.  Many people implemented changes in their lives as a result of these seminars. They also led to two important ideas: the formation of a weekly sustainable living group and the establishment of a community garden (see below for more details).

Last year I was selected to be trained as the facilitator of the Sustainable Homes Program for the City of Kingston, a program developed by the South East Council Climate Change Alliance.

Chelsea Heights EarthCarers and EarthCarers Community Garden

The Chelsea Heights EarthCarers is a sustainable living group that meets weekly at Chelsea Heights Community Centre. We aim to educate ourselves and our community about ways to live more sustainably – through discussion, workshops, seminars and displays at community events. We also lobby our representatives at all levels of government on issues relating to climate change and the environment. I have convened this group since its formation.

Our largest project to date has been the establishment of the EarthCarers Community Garden in Chelsea Heights.  Growing your own food is one of the best ways to reduce your overall impact on the environment.  A core group of three people - Nigel Mc Gillivray, Gill Bynion and I - with input from several other members of the local community, successfully applied to council for permission to turn a vacant area of council land in Beazley Reserve into a community garden. The garden now has around fifty household and organisational memberships and stands out in the area as a vibrant, successful community initiative. Each week people comment to me on how great the garden is looking and it is a credit to all those involved.

The EarthCarers group and in particular the Community Garden project has taught me a lot about leadership and working with people.  This project has been successful because of the many and varied skills and knowledge a whole range of people have brought to it.  It has worked because it has been a co-operative approach where, as leader, I have often stepped back and let those with more knowledge or experience take charge of various aspects of its operation. In turn, this has allowed people to feel real ownership and responsibility.

There were a number of people in Kingston council who had reservations about the establishment of a community garden in outer suburban Melbourne. However our success has now been acknowledged and Kingston has not only showcased our success at community forums, it has appointed a staff member to work to establish community gardens in other areas of the municipality (funded by a State Government grant).

The Friends of Manatuto

The Friends of Manatuto (Timor Leste) is a community group that has established a Friendship link between the Kingston community and the community of Manatuto, Timor Leste.  I initiated the formation of this group, now in its tenth year, and have remained a key committee member during this time.  Our largest project to date has been the successful establishment of a kindergarten in the village of Obrato.

The group has also resulted in strong community development within the City of Kingston through talks to school and community groups, networking with church and community organisations and the holding of fundraising events aimed at various sectors of the community.


Sporting Pursuits

I am a playing member of Chelsea Heights Tennis Club and have supported my children in their sporting activities including cricket, football, tennis, swimming and life-saving. My family have memberships with Chelsea Heights Tennis Club, Chelsea YCW Football and Cricket Clubs and Chelsea Longbeach Lifesaving Club.

 I have a great appreciation of the important role sporting and youth clubs and associations and play in our community including:

·         giving children important values and skills for life

·         supporting health and fitness

·         enabling individual well-being

·         building strong community connections and support networks. 

As a councillor I will endeavour to ensure that local sporting and youth clubs and facilities are well-resourced so that they can continue their vital role in the community.


Personal History

I am married with two children aged 10 and 13.

I graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Science and worked professionally as a Business Analyst and Project Officer for 13 years for Caterpillar of Australia, National Mutual, Telstra and Australian Red Cross.

I was actively involved in Community Aid Abroad (now Oxfam Australia) between 1989 and 2001 including as:

·       a member of the Frankston and Solidarity with Aboriginal People Groups,

·       a member of the State, Public Policy and Education, and Living Ethically and Sustainably committees and

·       an alternate member of the Board.


I enjoy walking, jogging, bike-riding, gardening and spending time with my children.
I have lived in the Kingston south ward for 24 years.


Written and authorised by Robyn Erwin, 39 First Ave, Chelsea Heights, Vic, 3196