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Southbanker

08 Apr 2016

Southbanker Image

The original voices of Southbank

Profile by Sean Car

Having founded the Southbank Residents’ Group together in 1998, inaugural president Ray McDonald and former public officer Faye McDonald have helped shape a lot of important changes in our community.

Living in what was originally the former IBM building, the couple downsized to the retrofitted Southside Tower complex on the corner of Sturt and Coventry streets from their Templestowe home in 1996.

To this day, their apartment still boasts one of the most undisturbed views of Southbank and Ray said it had provided them with the perfect vantage point to witness the area’s growth over the past 20 years.  

“We rather liked the view and they said well everything’s for sale naturally. We went away and thought about it, stuck down a deposit and then three years later when it was finished we moved in,” he said.

“For us the city has moved right around and the view has only enhanced we think. There used to be hole where you could look through in to the distance and see the city but now it’s all built up.”

The pair was the first of any residents to move into the building, which they said was still so new that it was still being completed around them at the time of moving in.

Back then the area around them was still being marketed as “Southbank Village” and the conversation around development and planning for the community was one they thought needed to be championed more strongly.

“When we first came there was a lot of building going on and there were a lot of plans to build all sorts of buildings around this area and that was the origin of the Southbank Residents Group,” he said.

“We used to have all of our meetings at the Malthouse Theatre, which was quite a big area and we’d get the hall practically full because people were a bit more involved in those days.”

“We started it because we were disgusted with what was going on and I think it was a good move. I’m glad that it’s sort of gone on because you don’t want it to be static and the people that are in it seem to be active now.”

With the help of former politician and inaugural vice president Bill Stephen, who has since passed away, the group was responsible for driving many important changes, including the introduction of the area’s first mandatory height limit.

While the pair had numerous visits to VCAT and continued to champion change at the helm of the group for several years, Faye said, like all things, it eventually reached a point where it was best to hand over the reigns.

“You get tired as well you get tired of the hassles,” she said. “We don’t go very much anymore. It’s better to let them do their own thing. You don’t want people hanging around.”

“We did what we had to do and we knew it was time to step aside. We were tired so it’s worked out very well.”

Our community has much to thank Ray and Faye for in providing Southbank with its voice, and the pair still write submissions and have their say on many important issues affecting our neighbourhood.

While Ray is a retired biomedical engineer, Faye still works part-time as a registered nurse at Royal Freemason’s and she said they both continued to enjoy life in Southbank mainly for its convenience.

“The location here is just terrific. We’ve got trams, we walk into town and the city is quite friendly. It’s a real community for us now. We’ve met quite a lot of people along the way so it’s been really good.”

“We love Southbank and we’ve done pretty well as far as we’re concerned and we’re still reasonably happy.”

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