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What’s behind the lights?

Southbank Residents’ Association

09 Jun 2020

Time flies in a pandemic

By Tony Penna - President

Is it just me, or does time just seem to be flying by during our COVID-19 isolation?

Despite the expected reduced tempo from the lockdown, I still seem to be as busy as ever. Last month was certainly no exception.

A few points to note from last month …

As we are aware, Southbank Promenade is scheduled for a significant upgrade/makeover. Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) had some concerns with the removal of the trees, but particularly with what was planned for their replacements.

In our submission to council we specifically requested for the city arborist to reach out to SRA to give our committee a clearer understanding of the tree situation. The team certainly reached out to us, but owing to COVID-19 we have not been able to meet with them as yet. In any case, in owing to the significance of this project, Cr Rohan Leppert felt that the wider stakeholder community was entitled to be part of the conversation and moved a motion at the Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting on June 2 to put it onto Participate Melbourne for the community and special interest groups, such as Melbourne Heritage Action and Bicycles Victoria, to be able to have their say.

The SRA committee will certainly engage through this channel as well, but we encourage our community to also contribute to the conversation if there is something in the plan that you feel strongly about.

The Lord Mayor Sally Capp has also acknowledged the confusing, and often conflicting, COVID-19 information that has been circulating in the community with regards to our high-density living.

Apparently 83 per cent of the municipality live in an apartment or high-density environment. These environments create their own challenges during mandatory isolation and can present greater risks to its residents. The Lord Mayor resides in a Docklands apartment, so she has experienced these complexities first-hand.

At the FMC meeting on June 2, Cr Capp moved a motion requesting the council to take a greater interest in the information that is promulgated and for council to be proactive with the formulation of information and its dissemination. The council is hoping to engage with many of our owners’ corporations (OCs) to ascertain where it can improve the information flow and indeed identify where it was deficient.

I commend the Lord Mayor for this initiative. As the convenor of the Southbank Owners’ Corporation Network (SOCN), I personally found this confusion and uncertainty was evident across a number of our member buildings and as the restrictions have started to ease the confusion has once again entered the space. While the initiative could be one of those how far down the rabbit hole moments, the intent of the motion was certainly acknowledged and appreciated by all councillors and SRA and we look forward to assisting the council with this.

It is promising to see the restrictions are slowly easing, but we now need to be more alert than ever. While the government, and the community, has done a great job with flattening the curve, this has bought the government much needed time to prepare for this pandemic. They have now had two months to prepare our hospitals, manufacture ventilators, source PPE, prepare and train contract tracers and, most importantly, educate the public. It will now be accepted the virus will slowly move through the community, but if we continue to adhere to the social distancing policies and be mindful of our own safety, then this spread should be slow and manageable. The Australian public has thus far done a great job with pulling together and doing what we need to do. As the Prime Minister pointed out when quizzed why the modelling was so wrong, it didn’t consider such high community compliance. So, well done to us all so far. But this is still far from over.

A quick reminder that since the end of financial year is approaching, it is time for our members to renew their annual membership fee in time for our annual general meeting (AGM) which is scheduled for July. Watch this space, our website and Facebook page for updates as we work through how we are going to be able to hold our AGM to comply with restrictions yet keep it a public event and preserve the integrity of the governance formalities.

If you are not a member of our not-for-profit, volunteer-run organisation and would love to show your support, it is only $10 per year, you can do this by signing-up on our website or Facebook page SouthbankResidents. Or, you may even be keen to join our committee! If so, please reach out to me at

Keep safe! •

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