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Restoring faith in council

08 Dec 2016

Restoring faith in council Image

By Sean Car

New Greens councillor for the Gateway Ward of the City of Port Phillip Ogy Simic says he wants to re-engage the community with its local council.

As the ward covering the Montague Precinct of Fishermans Bend and Southbank, Cr Ogy will represent Gateway alongside Mayor Bernadene Voss and fellow new Liberal councillor Marcus Pearl.  

And while at 29 years of age, Cr Ogy is the youngest of the nine City of Port Phillip councillors, he is certainly not short on life experience.

Having escaped to Serbia from a war-torn Sarajevo along with his mother and two brothers as a young child, Cr Ogy only arrived in Australia at the age of 11 after living in Germany as a refugee.

While the civil conflict in Sarajevo was one that tragically took the life of his father, he said the entire experience had taught him to appreciate and fight for every opportunity.

“I was 11 and a half when I arrived in Australia and I didn’t speak any English,” he said. “The experience of arriving here shaped and sparked my community interest and political interest,” he said.

“I guess I felt this overwhelming sense to give back to the community. I started putting my hand up for things and being involved in different organisations and groups was always very important to me.”

Cr Ogy originally settled with his family in Adelaide where he attended school and studied law at university.

He said his experience in local politics first began when he undertook year 10-week work experience with his local council, which would later lead him to a number of youth advisory roles and ultimately, The Greens Party.  

He said the recent elections were a great result for his party with fellow Greens Canal Ward councillor Tim Baxter and Lake Ward councillor and new deputy mayor Katherine Copsey also having been elected.

“The big story of the election is how well the Greens did,” he said. “We went from zero representatives to three and we topped the primary vote in each of the three wards, which is incredible I think.”

“What having Greens on council will bring I think is an opportunity for people to see what good local representation means and what it means to have people who are championing their views at a local council level.”

He said his experience in working at local community level through local council had made him appreciate all that could be achieved in local government.

The issues he is most determined to address include education, public transport, sustainability, social inclusion, community safety and climate change.

And representing the ward covering Montague and Fishermans Bend, he said he was concerned by the current state of planning as a result of the urban renewal area having been rezoned as capital city.

“The retrospective stuff really worries me because it’s a wasteful approach to planning. It means that you end up paying a lot more than what you should have originally as we did with the Montague Park,” he said.

“We really have to put the amenities in now so that we can build the rest around that otherwise it’s not going to work.”

While he is excited by the opportunities Fishermans Bend presents for building a city of the future, he said the vision wouldn’t be achieved unless the local community informed it.

It’s that belief in engaging with local community that has inspired his passion for local government and he said he hoped to use it to restore the municipality’s interest in its local council.

“When I found out I had been elected I couldn’t put my words together,” he said. “I was quite overwhelmed with being trusted with so much responsibility.”

“I think for too long people have been disengaged with what council does and I hope to be able to work towards restoring some of that and making sure that people get the sort of representation they deserve.”

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