Ogy Simic: Greens candidate for Gateway Ward

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By Ogy Simic – Greens candidate for Port Phillip Council, Gateway Ward

In 1998, my mother and my two brothers were granted refugee status to move to Australia after civil war erupted in our hometown of Sarajevo some years earlier. We travelled to Australia without possessions, without a working knowledge of the language and with little idea of what our futures would hold in this country.

The initial culture shock was predictably difficult, but within months of arriving I learned that if I was willing to push my comfort zone and to ”have a go,” that the opportunities to get involved were vast.

A desire for ecological and economic justice prompted me to study law and to engage with Green politics. Like the Greens, I believe that cohesive and capable communities are only possible when trust, transparency and integrity are prioritised and opportunities exist for the community to engage with councillors and the decision making process.

Here in Port Phillip we are home to enviable natural and cultural landmarks and I believe it is the role of council to recognise the huge public benefit that the protection and enhancement of our local environment provides.

Increased open spaces, bike and walking paths and robust public services should be seen as an investment in improving the health and resilience of our area. Similarly the promotion of ecologically sustainable development that respects our unique urban environment, and the prioritisation of essential local renewable energy projects within Port Phillip is a no brainer.

I would work with local artists, musicians, businesses and social enterprises in recognition of the significant contributions that they make to the character and employment opportunities in our area.

When my family first moved to Australia we lived in good quality public housing and so I recognise the need for adequate and well designed public housing infrastructure throughout Port Phillip.

My background as a linguistically and culturally diverse person would broaden the representativeness of our council and help to foster greater mutual respect, harmony and equal opportunity with community members.

The development of a formal instrument of reconciliation of indigenous people is long overdue, and I would welcome the opportunity to be guided by local elders and to work with different levels of government towards this end.

We know that the remit of local councils is much broader than rates, roads and rubbish. Councils exist to support communities and to enhance the character and identity of a local area.

At the recent federal election we saw large swings in our area towards the Greens. This is indicative of an appetite within our community for coherent and forward looking policies that respond to the social and environmental challenges we face.

The responsibility inherent in representing my community is not one I take lightly, and given the opportunity, I commit to working with the community and council colleagues to position the City of Port Phillip as 21st century leaders.

Please get in touch – ogy.simic@vic.greens.org.au.

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