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Editions

The old guard says goodbye

29 May 2018

The old guard says goodbye Image

By Meg Hill

Three long-term members of the Docklands Community Forum’s (DCF) representative group are bidding farewell, having not put their names forward to stay on into the next phase.

Andrew Ward, Janine Standfield and Keith Rankin have all been on the DCF since 2012, but are stepping aside as the forum is restructured.

David Wong is also not continuing on the forum, but didn’t reply to invitation for an interview with Docklands News.

Mr Ward – owner of PUSH! Fitness in Docklands – is leaving the forum to allow a better balance – personally and on the forum – for life/work/voluntarism balance and “fresh ideas” respectively.

Mr Rankin – “probably one of the first residents in Docklands” and a former Docklands business owner – said his departure was due to missing the expression of interest deadline.

Mrs Standfield, who acted as the parent representative on the forum, is moving out of Docklands for her son’s secondary schooling.

She spent her time in the forum advocating for a school in Docklands, and won. But, in the meantime her son reached high school age, a facility is still far from fruition in Docklands.

“The school was huge. Prior to coming into the forum, I’d been arguing for a school on my own,” Mrs Standfield said.

“With the forum I could meet with the Education Department and other groups, and I think, all of a sudden, push came to shove.”

Both Mr Ward and Mr Rankin also cite the school as the forum’s biggest achievement.

“In the beginning we came up with three priorities for Docklands: a school, waterway activation and the brand,” Mr Ward said.

Mr Ward said the water activation remained a “work in progress” and the brand had improved.

“Six years ago I would constantly defend Docklands. People would always complain about it being too windy, not friendly, or just not nice,” Mr Ward said.

Mrs Standfield said that the community feeling was gaining momentum in Docklands.

“What I really liked about it, perhaps in the earlier days, was the ability to ask questions of people. As a resident in Docklands you get frustrated with planning and decisions and developments,” she said.

Both Mrs Standfield and Mr Ward also said that they believed the forum would benefit immensely from fresh faces and perspective.

City of Melbourne (CoM) and Development Victoria (DV) are dialling down their involvement with the DCF as of this year in a move with dual implications.

While withdrawal of government involvement means a loss of administrative support, it’s also an opportunity to overcome reoccurring bureaucratic issues.

CoM and DV cutting ties with the forum may mean less oversight and influence on the agendas set, and a more genuine voice for the community.

Mrs Standfield, Mr Ward and Mr Rankin all expressed concern over pre-set agendas and the tokenisation of the DCF during their time.

“It didn’t make the difference that I thought it could over the six years. It didn’t have the suggestive or assertive powers it should have,” Mr Rankin said.

“There’s one concern out there that developers continue to have their agenda. That means that sometimes the community voice is tokenised,” Mr Ward said.

“We would say ‘we don’t like this’, or ‘we reject this’, or ‘we think this will happen’ but there’s an overlay or an agenda that is already set.”

Mrs Standfield said that, while there was much to celebrate in Docklands, the future DCF shouldn’t avoid the difficult issues.

“Community in Docklands will absolutely flourish with a primary school and the sporting fields and all those sorts of things, including the library,” she said.

“But don’t give up the space to discuss the difficult. Don’t be afraid of the controversial things.”

Other original representative group members, who have left before now were: Elena Tsapatolis; Roger Gardner; Anita Donnelly; Ani Linton; and Albert Morcos.

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