Mountain Districts Association.
A.G.M. March 9, 2022
Welcome everyone and thank you for supporting our Association.
Our aim is to represent our local rural community at all levels of Government and to encourage initiatives that will enhance our local area, its environment and the lifestyles of our residents.
We have experienced another year of disruption in 2021 with our biggest challenge being Covid 19 lockdowns as well as severe weather events that have impacted our community and a continuing Local Government crisis that has had repercussions for us all. We have been able to continue monthly committee meetings via Zoom thank you to Simon Perry. There have been some annual event cancellations during the year but we have been involved in many issues affecting our community.
Clean up Australia.
Sadly we were unable to conduct our usual Clean up Australia campaign last year in 2021 but I am very pleased to say that it did go ahead this year with some dedicated locals gathering litter from public areas and roadsides near to their homes. Despite the weather last weekend these stalwart volunteers gathered a large mound of rubbish that CCC contractors will take to landfill. Many thanks to Verena and Poppe for organizing this event and to the local school children who made posters to help encourage community participation.
Kariong Sand and Soil Supplies Proposal.
MDA along with several other local groups and individuals opposed this concrete recycling development at 90 Gindurra Rd, Kariong on the grounds of health, road safety and traffic issues and environmental concerns. We have recently been notified that this development has been approved by the State Government, which is a disappointing result for our local community.
In May 2021 the Committee of the Union Church called a public meeting to announce that they intended to sell our local church. This came as a huge shock and a devastating blow to many locals who have had generations of their family involved in the running and maintenance of this local historically significant public building. Meetings convened by local groups including MDA discussed how support could be provided to avoid the sale of the property. The majority of the Union Church committee was unmoved by offers of assistance and determined to press ahead with sale plans. Ultimately a new group has now been formed to seek legal advice on the withdrawal of the Liquidator and prevention of the sale of this iconic building that is held in Trust and has been funded by local families for over a hundred years. The battle to maintain local community ownership continues. Donations toward the cost of this process would be appreciated by the new Union Church committee.
A very small window of opportunity during Covid 19 disruptions allowed the annual Harvest Festival to be held in 2021. On a beautifully crisp but sunny long weekend in June MDA held their usual Soup Stall with great success. This year we were located at Silver Gully Estate Mangrove Mountain, as the Kulnura Arts Hub was not operating. We very much appreciated this opportunity to run the soup stall as it allowed us to raise funds for our ongoing projects and running costs such as Insurance. As well it allowed us the chance to promote awareness of local issues. Many thanks to the hardworking committee and their families and friends who helped set up the stall and make a delicious selection of home-made soups and sweet treats to serve with tea and coffee. Special thanks must go to Steve Raines who installed an amazing wood stove that kept soups at just the right temperature and allowed the stall volunteers to keep toasty warm while serving customers. (We could have sold your stove many times over Steve!)
Sadly this major community event had to be cancelled again this year due to Covid 19 restrictions. We normally run the Fruit Salad stall to help raise funds for local non-profit groups. Instead this year we were able support their online raffle which is an initiative to be congratulated.
The Landfill issue remains an ongoing concern for our community. A Court case involving Central Coast Council, Environmental Protection Authority and Verde Terra has continued during the year. A determination is expected in the coming weeks. However concern about contamination of ground water from the huge mound of unlined waste that currently exists on the Golf Course remains unchanged for locals and Central Coast residents during significant rain events such as we are experiencing now. Leachate from the site has the potential to contaminate the groundwater in our bores, as well as surface water, and the Central Coast Water supply. MDA has asked EPA for water sample test results as required by agreement following rain events of more than 50mls. But no adequate response has yet been received. We must thank the members of the Landfill sub-committee who have worked dogmatically on this issue for several years and we hope for an outcome that does not negatively impact our community any further. Remediation might be a dream.
Central Coast Council
Serious concerns exist around the functioning of Central Coast Council. It remains under the control of an Administrator with considerable concerns about its financial status, lack of community representation, meeting accountability and ongoing applications for resident rate rises. The pandemic and natural disasters have magnified the Council’s inability to be responsive to the needs of local residents. It seems that the amalgamation of Wyong and Gosford Councils has not provided benefits for local residents as was hoped.
District Image Making
The slow progress of our Visitor Information Signage project continues. Covid restrictions and CCC lack of available funding for their parts of the planned project have resulted in very limited progress this last year. We have recommenced discussions with Council Officers and we are now in the process of re-developing the concept with a local Graphic Designer to include locality welcome signs. The placement of public rubbish bins at key locations is also under discussion. We are keen to get any community feedback or suggestions on what locals would like to see developed to welcome visitors to our area.
Telecommunications and Connectivity
Internet connectivity and mobile phone reception remain issues of concern for many in our community particularly as digital communication is necessitated in more everyday situations (and has been compounded by Covid 19 restrictions). Our committee members George and Simon conducted a local survey to collate data about connectivity status in various local areas. This data was forwarded to the Offices of Senator Deborah O’Neill and local State member Liesel Tesch following a Public meeting held at Mangrove Mountain Hall. The issue of poor and unreliable service was subsequently raised in Federal Parliament by Senator O’Neill. Her powerful speech called for improved infrastructure, the lack of which currently undermines education, health care and business outcomes in our area.
Recently Lucy Wicks, our Federal representative, at a mobile office meeting held at The Hub, was asked to assist our community in this quest for better more reliable digital services. Will this plea for action be seriously considered in an election year?
After our 2020 AGM and following animated group discussion of our experiences of the Black Summer Fire event, moves were made to establish a group responsible for community bushfire preparation and resilience. Meetings with Council and RFS representatives have eventually led towards the establishment of a Community Protection Plan Initiative through RFS and the re-establishment of the Mangrove Emergency Planning and Communications Committee Inc. It is hoped that through these initiatives our community can become involved with disaster mitigation and be better prepared for and more able to withstand natural disasters that impact our area.
We were very pleased to be able to present Stephen Goodwin and Marilyn Steiner with Emeritus Certificates for the enormous amount of work they put into MDA projects including the battle to stop the expansion of the Landfill and the CSG campaign. We are indebted to them for the energy, persistence, scientific understanding, knowledge of political processes and intellectual rigour they brought to our campaigns.
So it was with very great sadness that we learned of Dr Stephen Goodwin’s passing on July 9th, 2021. Stephen has been a very passionate community campaigner and his dedication is greatly missed.
Stephen and Marilyn relocated to the Southern Highlands last year after Stephen was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, a debilitating and incurable disease. Stephen’s sphere of influence was far reaching with public recognition of his considerable contributions from Councillors, Community Environment Network, Central Coast ABC Radio and State politicians. His legacy will be long remembered.
In conclusion I must thank most sincerely our dedicated, hard-working committee who have continued to work for the benefit of our district despite the challenges of this past year. You are a small band of volunteers who have helped foster greater co-operation and inclusivity within our community. And that is a benefit to all of us.