Darebin has a history of advocating for the community. Learn about our current and past advocacy projects that we hope create a better future.
Advocacy is a key way that we supports our community. We advocate on behalf of our community to ensure other levels of government understand local community needs, opportunities and challenges, and to secure support for policy change and local investment. We have adopted an Advocacy Strategy for the Council term that sets out what we are standing up for on behalf of our community.
We endorsed our 2022 Advocacy Platform which outlines our priorities ahead of the 2022 state election.
We encourage residents to get in touch with Victorian Government representatives and candidates to show your support for our priorities.
Priority policy matters proposed in our 2022 advocacy platform include:
- social housing
- mental health
- reducing harm from gambling.
There is need for much greater action and investment than is currently underway by the State Government.
Priority advocacy for investment in local community infrastructure includes transport safety matters to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, sports infrastructure including to increase gender inclusive facilities, and investment to stimulate the local economy, including as a renewable and circular economy.
Current advocacy projects
Here are some details about our current advocacy projects:
We all love Preston Market
The Market is the beating heart of Preston. It has served us for over 50 years and will continue to feed us, be a meeting place for friends and play a central role in the lives of Preston locals.
In 2017, the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) began reviewing and updating the planning controls for the Preston Market Precinct. We listened to your views so we can advocate to the VPA. We're working to achieve this community vision which we endorsed in 2018
“the Market is a vibrant and diverse place for the community to gather around food and celebrate culture”.
Since then we've endorsed key objectives and elements, and called on the State Government and developer to commit to them. "The Heart of Preston" document sets out what must happen for the Market Precinct to create a liveable, safe, and sustainable precinct. We endorsed this in 2019.
There are several steps before the the Minister for Planning decides on any new planning controls. However in August 2020, the VPA announced that the project would be fast-tracked, which they didn't notify us of.
We'll continue to advocate for the best outcome for the community, including commenting on the VPA's draft plans when they're released.
To find out more about the Heart of Preston - Preston Market Precinct, visit yoursay.darebin.vic.gov.au/PrestonMarket.
Increasing social and affordable housing
Housing affordability is a challenge for us and the community-housing sector. We want to increase the level of affordable ‘bricks and mortar’ accommodation across the city.
Low-income families and individuals are being priced out of Darebin due to a lack of affordable housing. Government rental housing subsidies haven't kept up, and those in housing stress are trading off between the cost of housing and the cost of food, education and health.
Our advocacy actions include:
- an active partnership with the State Government to protect and increase public housing
- increasing the level of safe and affordable rooming houses by being a member of the Melbourne Metropolitan Rooming House Working Group
- exploring financial models such as Superannuation funds for building affordable housing
- advocating for public policy and structural change such as our formal submission to Australian Senate’s Inquiry into Affordable Housing
- improving local government practices around homelessness policy through the ‘Parity’ magazine
- being an active member on the Housing and Local Government Network
- asking the Darebin Housing Advisory Committee to give us an accurate account of issues and trends.
Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre
The Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre (NARC) was built in 1968 and has a gym, swimming pools and tennis courts. It has more than 5,000 members and gets around 500,000 visits a year.
Its facilities are old and it needs an upgrade so it can continue to be a place for locals to get active, socialise and stay healthy.
We're looking for support for a redevelopment, which is expected to cost more than $60 million. The project will create local jobs and help the economy as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. We also want NARC to be the first indoor and outdoor facility in Australia to get a 6-Star Green Star rating.
To find out more, visit yoursay.darebin.vic.gov.au/NARC.
We want to make sure our transport systems can support everyone and benefit the environment. We're calling for better public transport and other changes in Melbourne to make it a better option than cars.
- improvements to Tram routes 11 and 86, and a tram stop at Oakhill
- a new bus service connecting La Trobe University to Burnley Station in Richmond
- better routes and more frequent train, tram and bus services
- more electric buses and trains that run on renewable energy
- more pedestrian crossings and safer spaces for cycling and walking
- a safe cycling route from Preston to the Melbourne CBD
- the Alphington Rail Spur: a new shared path and open space
- the northern section of the Suburban Rail Loop to be built first.
Refugees and asylum-seekers
A group of asylum-seekers were detained at a hotel in Preston for more than a year. Some were released in January 2021, but several are still detained in another part of Melbourne.
Many of the released men are in temporary housing in Darebin, and we're working with other organisations to help them.
We ask the Federal Government to speed up the process and move all detained men to community detention so they can get health and social support while they wait.
To find out more, visit the Time For a Home website.
Funding of sporting clubs with electronic gaming machines
We want to help local sports clubs end their unhealthy relationship with gambling. Clubs do a great job promoting public health, but their reliance on gambling funds causes harm.
We invest a significant amount of money in local clubs, and we can't support activities that undermine this. We're concerned that the gambling industry is reaching into clubs with junior teams to recruit the next generation of gamblers.
We'll consider a future report exploring options to help clubs develop transition plans. We'll also write to local state and federal MPs and the relevant minister. We want a matched commitment by the State and Federal Governments to ensure taxpayer funds don't go to groups, clubs or organisations involved in EGMs.
We'll publish any responses from these organisations and ministers here.
Reforms to electronic gaming machines
Every year for the last 20 years, our residents have lost $69 million on electronic gaming machines. Most of these losses occur in our most disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
Our regulatory ability to reduce these losses is weak because current laws and regulations privilege EGM operators and maximise tax revenue for the State Government.
We participate in forums by the Local Government Working Group on Gambling (LGWGOG) and National Alliance for Gambling Reform.
LGWGOG advocacy actions include:
- maximum bets of $1 per spin
- reviewing and reforming the current ‘Capping’ system to reduce the number of EGMs in Victoria
- developing consistent Australia-wide legislation and regulation
- greater intervention of venues to reduce harm to problem gamblers
The National Alliance for Gambling Reform's advocacy actions include:
- the statewide ‘Enough Pokies’ media campaign to influence the Victorian election
- Monash University research on decisions by the Victorian Commission on Gambling and Liquor (VGCLR)
- giving councils (as the Planning Authority) greater legislative powers with regards to EGMs
- contributing to Ka Ching a documentary that raises awareness about the poker machine industry
For more information:
- read the Darebin Electronic Gaming Machine Policy 2018-2022
- visit the Alliance for Gambling Reform website.
Level Crossing Removals
After years of advocacy by us, the State Government announced in May 2019 that four level crossings in Preston - at Bell Street, Cramer Street, Oakover Road and Murray Road - will be removed by 2021.
Our advocacy secured an elevated rail solution which will create open space for residents. It's also a chance to develop new precincts and community infrastructure like pedestrian connections and green open space.
The new station to be built at Preston is also a chance for better integration with the Preston Market site and the wider Preston precinct.
Our goals are contained in the Preston Reconnected advocacy document which was endorsed by Council during the 20 July 2020 Council meeting and amended by Council during the 26 April 2021 Council meeting.
Past advocacy projects
Development of a Regional Multi Sports Stadium
On 21 September 2015 we endorsed the construction of a regional Multi-Sport Stadium (MSS). We're now working with several stakeholders including state and federal governments to make this a reality.
The stadium will provide facilities for court sports including netball, basketball, volleyball and badminton. We expect it to increase participation in sport and physical activity, especially for women who experience a lack of access to quality sports facilities.
To find out more, visit yoursay.darebin.vic.gov.au/JCMPSportsPark.
Action against Darebin RSL poker machines
People spend more than $82 million a year on poker machines in Darebin – that’s more than $225,000 a day. We're working to reduce the harm of gambling through our Electronic Gaming Machine Policy 2018-2022. The Alliance for Gambling Reform described this as Australia’s strongest gaming policy.
In 2019, we started a Supreme Court challenge to Darebin RSL’s plan to add 15 new poker machines. This would've increased their number of machines to 80. The RSL dropped this plan after we challenged it.
In 2016, we became one of the first governments of any type in the world to declare a climate emergency. Since then, more than 1,800 national, regional and local governments have done the same.
We're working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through initiatives like our Solar Saver scheme and food waste recycling program. We call on the Victorian and Federal Governments to also declare a climate emergency and achieve zero emissions by 2030.
January 26 date change
We were one of the first councils in the country to stop calling January 26 ‘Australia Day’ and to stop holding citizenship ceremonies on that day. Since then, many other councils have taken the same steps.
We continue to call for a public discussion about changing the date to one that all Australians can celebrate. We also want a national discussion about a Treaty with Aboriginal people, recognising them in the constitution and having a national voice in Parliament. For more information visit the 26 January page
Reservoir Community and Learning Centre – opened 2015
This community hub combine the library, customer service, maternal and child health, a toy library, youth services and community meeting spaces. We secured $3 million from the Federal Government and $812,000 from the State Government for the $5 Million centre. For more information, go to the venues page on this website.
Reservoir Community and Learning Centre CCTV
We now operate five CCTV cameras in the public realm around the Reservoir Community and Learning Centre. The cameras are part of our work to reduce crime and create a safe, inclusive community. It was funded by the Department of Justice Community Safety Infrastructure grants.
Keon Park Children’s Hub – opened October 2014
The Keon Park Children’s Hub provides a much-needed modern, integrated centre in Darebin’s north. It features maternal and child health services, kindergarten rooms, multi-use family rooms and playgrounds. We were successful in gaining $1.5 million in State Government funding for this $5 Million project.
Alphington Railway Station Heritage Trees – completed 2014
We worked with the community and VicTrack to advocate for the protection of heritage trees and vegetation around the station. This led to recognition of the need to preserve these much-loved natural features.
Darebin North East Community Hub – opened 2014
The Darebin North East Community Hub services residents in the Bundoora, Kingsbury and Macleod areas. We advocated to the Federal Government to get $4.9 million towards the $6.1 million cost of the project. We also received $1.2 million through the State Government’s "Places Victoria" program.
The Hub combines maternal and child health and family support programs with community meeting rooms and a conference and reception facility. It also includes community spaces, an art gallery, meeting rooms.
Preventing family violence
We're committed to preventing violence against women. Our Preventing Violence Against Women Action Plan includes a range of initiatives with the community, our organisations and our northern region partners.