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The Darebin City Council has submitted its comprehensive submission on the proposed redevelopment of Preston Market to the Victorian Planning Authority and Minister for Planning Richard Wynne MP.

In a detailed submission on the VPA’s Preston Market Precinct framework, Council had planning, heritage, urban design and transport experts review the state government’s draft plans, which raised fundamental flaws in the planning methodology for the precinct. 

Council’s work has revealed there is no need to demolish and shift the market to allow for new development on the site. A better way is to keep the market where it is, protecting its heritage and social functions, and build around it in a way that is liveable and sustainable. The State Government’s plans are a significant overdevelopment.

Darebin is deeply committed to protecting the 50-year-old Preston Market – which is privately owned by developer Salta Properties – and serves as a vibrant hub for the community and a source of affordable and diverse fresh produce from independent traders.

“Council submits that the proposed framework fundamentally fails to protect the social, economic or cultural functions of the market and poses an existential threat to Preston Market,” the submission stated. 

“The proposed planning framework expresses values that are not in tune with market users and the broader community, and shows little understanding of how the market functions or how it generates value for its community.”

Some of Darebin’s key findings included:
Poor heritage outcome – plans to retain only 20 per cent of the market (and spaceframe roof) does not respect the market’s heritage fabric or social significance;
Existential threat to market identity – Increasing the size of the building footprints, and changing the orientation and existing network of market streets and accessways are extreme and inappropriate;
Significantly out of character – the residential target of 2,200 dwellings is far too high and creates a higher population density ratio than Fishermans Bend;
Competitive retail impacts – any loss of the market’s unique retail, social and cultural values would mean a corresponding loss in its appeal, a reduction in its capacity to draw customers from a wide region, and a shrinking of its customer catchment;
Uncertain transport impacts – The VPA’s traffic analysis report does not reflect the reality of likely transport demands and corresponding impacts on the capacity of surrounding networks, including vehicle traffic generation from future development, and parking capacity. 

Council is pushing for a commitment from the developer to keep the market use operating and in the same location, and to apply stronger heritage protection to the site. The current plans show up to 80 per cent of the original market would be demolished.

Darebin also wants to see the proposed building heights and density reduced, as the draft plans would shoehorn 2200 apartments onto the site – almost 100 dwellings per hectare higher than the rules for Australia’s largest urban renewal project at Fisherman’s Bend – and have no mandatory maximum height controls in place. 
Council held multiple community consultations in the last three years to discuss the proposed changes, as well as a petition encouraging concerned residents to lobby Minister Wynne which has been signed by over 7,000 people. 
In the petition, Darebin Mayor Cr Lina Messina said Preston Market’s owners hadn’t committed to protect all the things about the market that the community cares about.
“That’s why Darebin Council is calling on the Victorian Planning Minister, the Hon. Richard Wynne MP to use his powers to change the planning process to make sure Salta Properties protects the market in any future development of the site,” Mayor Messina said.

“We want an outcome that guarantees that the Preston Market continues to serve the community at the same location, in the same way for another 50 years and beyond.” 

Darebin also advised that new housing in a precinct of this size with one majority landowner should be “of the highest sustainable design standards”, in order to support the State Government’s commitment to zero carbon by 2050 and circular economy objectives including to disconnect from gas and provide energy generation on site.

VPA’s consultation process closed on 13 July, which had also allowed the public to submit their views on the plans in writing.

An Advisory Committee will hear unresolved submissions in November, and the VPA will consider these recommendations before submitting final planning controls to the Planning Minister.

Minister Wynne’s decision is expected to be announced early 2022.

The submission can be viewed here

Release date: 22 July 2021

Louise Baxter, Media Officer
Email:  Mobile: 0433 486 359

In early 2020, a mystery sculpture appeared overnight in All Nations Park, Northcote – a cast head and plinth dubbed ‘Gold Head’. He was quickly embraced by the local community and prompted a creative dialogue about the role of art in public spaces.

Sadly, the precariously installed artwork was soon pushed over and taken into temporary care by Darebin Council. After thorough research, community engagement and discussion with the Arts Advisory Panel, Council decided to professionally install Gold Head at the original site, giving him a home for 12 months. After making contact with the anonymous artist group, it was determined Gold Head would be de-installed at the end of the period and auctioned off for charity.

The auction on Thursday 29 July will be a playful night of performances by MC Jason Tamiru (Yorta Yorta), eternally glittery performance duo The Huxleys, and a set by DJ Sean Whelan. There will be several Gold Head-inspired prizes to bid on before the main event.

Mayor Cr Lina Messina is proud that Darebin will be hosting this special event. ‘I’m so thrilled to see the artwork which captured Darebin’s imagination begin its next chapter; and now the community has a chance to own a piece of Northcote history. Gold Head not only provided inspiration during a difficult year but also changed the way we think about community-led artworks. Not to mention that the proceeds from this auction will go to such a worthy cause.’

All profits from the auction will go to Elizabeth Morgan House (EMH), a proudly Aboriginal community-controlled organisation. EMH provides secure refuge accommodation and specialist family violence services to Aboriginal women and their children, and aims to provide advocacy and support for the empowerment of Aboriginal women.

The Gold Head Auction will take place at 5.30pm-7pm, Thursday 29 July at Northcote Library.


Release date: 8 July 2020

Louise Baxter – Media Officer, Darebin City Council
Email: Mobile: 0433 486 359


On June 28, 2021 Darebin Council endorsed the Darebin 2041 Community Vision, Council Plan 2021-2025 (incorporating Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan) and the Budget for 2021-22.

Council also endorsed the Financial Plan 2021-31 and Revenue and Rating Plan 2021-25.

These five documents, shaped directly by the community, lay the foundation for the City of Darebin’s long, medium and short-term future.

More than 1800 community members told us what they wanted to see for the municipality in 2041, and 38 residents and business owners formed a Deliberative Panel to shape that feedback into a vision statement and key pillars.

The Community Vision Statement for 2041 is :

Darebin is an equitable, vibrant and connected community.

Darebin respects and supports First Nations People, values country, our diverse communities and places.

Darebin commits to mitigating the climate emergency, creating prosperity for current and future generations.

Within the Council Plan are objectives and actions to achieve the Vision our community has set, ranging from the inclusion and strengthening of diversity in our community to actions needed to create a circular economy and prevent waste.

The following are the big actions contained within the 2021-2015 Council Plan: 
1. Build infrastructure for the future 
2. Plan infrastructure for decades to come 
3. Continue to lead with our response to the climate emergency
4. Deepen our commitment to truth and justice for First Nations communities 
5. Support vulnerable members of our community 
6. Champion local business and creative industries 
7. Build a more inclusive community for all by supporting Darebin’s multicultural communities, 
8. Improve the quality of development and work to protect all that we love about Darebin
9. Protect our natural environment and biodiversity 
10. Expand our delivery of quality universal services.

Supporting the first year of this plan is the spending adopted as part of the Budget 2021-22.

The budget continues Council’s work in supporting the community still affected by the COVID pandemic and delivers a $3.2 million financial assistance package, including an innovative voucher program to stimulate the local economy.

The budget also delivers a $61.65 million capital works program, and provides for the community focused projects and services we know are highly valued by residents, businesses and visitors including:
- 22,200 immunisations
- 130,000 hours of aged care services and programs
- The planting of 4,800 trees and 250,000 indigenous plants
- Maintenance of more than 56 sporting ovals and fields
- Repairing more than 30km of shared bike paths
- And the collection of 5,500,000 bins, 14,000 tonnes of green waste, and 15,000 tonnes of recycling.

The full documents with projects, goals, objectives and pillars are available for reading here.


Release date: 30 June 2020

Louise Baxter – Media Officer
Email: Mobile: 0433 486 359


Analysis by Darebin Council of draft plans for the Preston Market Precinct have revealed the proposal, if adopted, would lead to 80% of the market being demolished and rebuilt elsewhere on the site.

Last night, Darebin Councillors voted to oppose large parts of the Victorian Planning Authority’s draft Preston Market Precinct planning rules as part of its formal submission to the public consultation into the proposal.

The draft Plans would also shoehorn a massive number of apartments onto the site, with the VPA setting a dwelling target of 2200 apartments, almost  100 dwellings per hectare higher than  the rules for Australia’s largest urban renewal project at Fisherman’s Bend. 

Darebin Mayor Lina Messina said Darebin Council’s analysis of the draft Plan showed it not only represented an existential threat to the market, but that the surrounding housing development massively overrepresented the amount of housing needed for the Preston Central area.

“It’s even worse than we first thought,” said Cr Messina.

“Under these plans, only 20% of the existing market footprint will be retained, with nothing to stop the rebuilt parts being designed in the style of a conventional shopping centre. This is extremely poor heritage practice and will decimate the heritage significance of the market”

Cr Messina said the draft Plan’s level of housing density - measured by the number of dwellings per hectare - was 31% greater than at Fisherman’s Bend and at a level virtually unheard of outside of the inner city. 

“The proposed height limits of 10-20 storeys across the site are also hugely concerning,” she said.

“Alarmingly, because there are no ‘mandatory maximum’ height controls in the VPA’s plans, there is the potential for apartment buildings around the market to be even greater than 20 storeys.”

Cr Messina urged the community to have their say in the proposal before the consultation period closes on July 13. 

“Don’t leave it until it’s too late. Without significant community opposition, the VPA will move ahead with this plan and usher in a development that destroys what makes Preston Market so loved, and imposes an unprecedented and unnecessary number of apartments around the market.”

The proposed height limits will mean the new development looms heavily over the surrounding area, including from High Street and Cramer Street. It will also have a significant impact on public space to the south of Cramer St, including overshadowing of Cramer Street Oval. 

In its submission, Darebin Council is proposing significant changes to the VPA’s plan, in line with its Heart of Preston vision, including:

- Retaining the current market location and footprint.
- Retaining current cruciform layout and introducing controls to avoid shopping centre style design for any redeveloped market.
- Significantly reducing height limits across the site, especially toward Cramer St.
- Reducing the number of apartments in any development by 1000 to 1200 and the dwelling density from 423 apartments per hectare to 330. 

The public can make a submission to the VPA’s consultation process at

Release date: 29 June 2020


Louise Baxter - Media Officer
Email: Mobile: 0433 486 359

Darebin’s small business owners will have more support now Darebin City Council has signed up to Victoria’s Small Business Friendly Council initiative.

The initiative makes it easier for people to start, run and grow a business locally, and it’s being rolled out by the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) in partnership with the 56 councils that are now on board.

Acting Commissioner Mark Schramm, Darebin City Council CEO Sue Wilkinson and Mayor Cr Lina Messina met virtually on June 17 for the signing of the initiative’s Charter.

Darebin Mayor Cr Lina Messina said “We’re really pleased to be partnering with the Victorian Small Business Commission to increase support to our vibrant and diverse small business community. Our businesses are the heartbeat of our city, and we’re fully committed to exploring new ways that we can help them to thrive.”

Victorian Small Business Commissioner Mark Schramm congratulated Darebin City Council on the commitment.

“Congratulations Darebin City Council for committing to boost supports for your local small businesses. We look forward to working together on ways to respond to local needs with solutions that we know work, helping to create a level playing field,” he said.

By putting pen to paper at their Preston offices, council is committing to a range of measures. 

They’re pledging to support small businesses to keep trading throughout council infrastructure works. Support includes providing project managers with guidelines to help them scope the impacts, engage with businesses and implement proven strategies to help manage disruption.

This pledge builds on the council’s engagement with the City of Darebin’s vibrant and culturally diverse small business community during the recent level crossing removal works.

This has included maintaining open communication and working with the VSBC to translate its small business owner’s guide for managing disruption into four community languages most in need for these owners.

In signing the Charter, the council is also pledging to help new local business networks to get up and running, pay small business suppliers within 14 days and streamline business approval processes – further adding to their business supports in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

The City of Darebin is home to over 49,600 thousand jobs across a range of industries that stand to benefit from today’s commitment – from education and training and retail trade to construction and manufacturing.

Media Release: 18 June 2021

Forty-six Victorian Councils are thrilled to announce the launch of VECO, the Victorian Energy Collaboration, the largest ever emissions reduction project by local government in Australia.

By pooling their energy contracts, this partnership will power 45 per cent of all Victorian Council electricity with renewables, reducing greenhouse emissions by 260,000 tonnes of C02-e every year.

The 240GWh of clean power, provided by Red Energy, is equivalent to powering 48,000 homes with renewables or removing the emissions from 90,000 cars every year.

Led by Darebin City Council in Melbourne’s north and facilitated with the Victorian Greenhouse Alliances, VECO demonstrates the benefits of renewable energy for the environment and the economy. 

The ground-breaking project will reduce each of the Council’s energy bills and reduce electricity prices by using clean renewable energy generated right here in Victoria.

VECO is expected to save Councils up to 35 per cent on their electricity bills, based on current costs. This will vary across Councils based on energy needs.

Darebin Mayor Councillor Lina Messina said the project was proof of what can be achieved by local government working together.

“This is a bold, visionary project that pushes the boundaries of what was thought possible for local government. This is a collective effort of staff and councillors from across the state, for the benefit of our communities,” Cr Messina said.

“There is no box this project doesn’t tick – it tackles climate change, cuts energy bills, invests in Victorian businesses, and grows jobs in regional Victoria.”

“By powering our council buildings and streetlights with affordable renewable energy, we’re making ratepayers’ dollars go further. Every dollar we save on energy bills is a dollar we can put towards improving our roads, footpaths, libraries or community programs.”

Indigo Shire, in Victoria’s North East, is among the 46 Councils to join VECO. Indigo Shire Mayor Councillor Jenny O’Connor said the project was an important step in Council’s response to declaring a climate emergency and sends a strong message to the community that Council is serious about tackling climate change

“This is a fantastic initiative that will have far reaching benefits, not just for the environment, but also in cost savings for our community,” Cr O’Connor said.

Red Energy will provide 240 GWh of electricity per year to the 46 councils in the VECO purchasing group over a period of 9.5 years, beginning 1 July 2021.

Owned by Snowy Hydro, Red Energy is a 100 per cent Australian owned and operated energy retailer based in Melbourne.

“Given Red Energy is born and bred in Victoria, we are really excited to be a part of a project that is supporting Victorian councils, their ratepayers and two new Victorian wind farms”, said Red Energy CEO Iain Graham.

“Our owner Snowy Hydro has been a leader in renewable generation for decades and Red Energy is delighted to partner with Victorian councils to provide a long-term energy contract that will enable councils to purchase renewable energy at a competitive price”, Mr Graham said.

The renewable energy will be provided by two wind farms in Victoria – Dundonnell wind farm near Mortlake, which started exporting power to the grid in March 2020, and Murra Warra II wind farm near Horsham, which commenced construction September 2020 and will be fully operational by June 2022.

Both wind farms have and will continue to deliver economic benefits to the regions during construction and ongoing operation, and form an important part of state, regional and local economic development.

Media Release: 19 May 2021

Darebin City Council is seeking feedback on work that will shape the long-term future of Darebin and see significant investment in our local economy.

We are inviting the community to provide submissions on Darebin’s draft Council Plan 2021-25, incorporating the Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan, draft Budget 2021-22, draft Financial Plan 2021-31, and Mayoral and Councillor allowances.

Darebin Mayor Cr Lina Messina said the Council Plan addressed the immediate challenges of our economic recovery, while providing the infrastructure and programs necessary to make Darebin a more equitable, sustainable and inclusive city.

“Council has prioritised a relief and recovery program that supports our local traders, pensioners, and those most vulnerable in our community,” she said

“We have an opportunity to ensure Darebin’s multiculturalism and diversity is celebrated and strengthened over the next four years.”

“The plan also includes action towards a circular waste economy, support for those experiencing homelessness, and improving our streets and facilities, particularly in our local shopping strips.

“Our work in the sustainability space continues and I particularly look forward to launching the Darebin Nature Plan.”

Council also released its draft Budget 2021-22, which continues Council’s active approach to supporting our community affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This work is highlighted by a voucher system for residents to spend and support our local traders, as well as fee waivers and the ability for ratepayers to defer payment until 2022.

The budget includes funding for around 130,000 hours of aged care services, programs and assistance, the planting of 4,800 trees and 250,000 indigenous plants, and the maintenance of more than 56 sports ovals and fields.

Also included is a commitment towards maintenance of more than 30kms of shared bike paths and reinvigorating our streets through streetscape and place improvements across the city.

A planned $57.9 million capital works spend will allow the completion of the new Multi-Sports Stadium at John Cain Memorial Reserve, finalise design work for the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre, and complete the redevelopment of BT Connor pavilion.

“This budget marks the beginning of a transformation of our municipality, with renewed community facilities across Darebin,” Cr Messina said.

“Our focus on the COVID recovery will be complemented by this infrastructure spend, and ensure everyone has access to quality facilities for years to come.”

The draft Financial Plan 2021-31 provides a 10-year projection for how the actions of the Council Plan may be funded.

Feedback on the plans can be given through Darebin's Your Say page

Media Release: 15 April 2021

Every year the Darebin Community Awards highlight the wonderful and impactful contributions our community members make to the City of Darebin.

The presentation night, presided over by Darebin Mayor Councillor Lina Messina and MC local comedian Nelly Thomas, is this year nestled within the FUSE Darebin program. FUSE is Darebin’s new biannual arts festival and highlights the many talents and creative endeavours of the Darebin community.

Mayor Messina said the achievements of all nominees deserved to be celebrated, and were a testament to the love and care shown throughout the entire community during a difficult year.

“It’s a privilege to preside over these awards and acknowledge the many wonderful contributions that individuals and groups make to enrich life in Darebin. Through these awards we celebrate local heroes who have shown great leadership, compassion and kindness,” she said.

The awards will be held at Darebin Arts Centre, Cnr Bell and St Georges Road Preston, on Thursday 18 March from 6.30pm. A COVID safe and limited number of guests have been invited for this year’s presentation night.

Citizen of the Year Joint Winners

Chris Lombardo
CEO of community organisation Bridge Darebin, Chris Lombardo led her team of staff and volunteers through a year like no other in 2020. When the global pandemic reached Melbourne, face-to-face gatherings stopped, but rather than close the facilities in Preston and Thornbury, Chris recognised that the local community was going to need support in acute and unprecedented ways and was determined to keep Bridge Darebin open.
Chris partnered with other neighborhood houses and organisations including City of Darebin, FareShare, Feed Appeal, Foodbank, local businesses, MPs and Uber, to provide emergency relief in the form of thousands cooked and frozen meals, hygiene packs and fresh food. To protect employment, staff were redeployed to assist in donation distribution and training and educational classes moved online

Hiruni Peiris

Hiruni is a sustainable business leader known for her work on the Wangim project (reducing coffee cups going to landfill), participating in many sustainability events, mentoring students in sustainability projects and establishing the Darebin Zero Waste Business Facebook Group. Hiruni believes that businesses can lead the way by working together with their local community.
In response to COVID, and working with other Darebin residents, Hiruni established and administers the Northcote, Thornbury and Fairfield Takeaway Facebook Group for residents (currently 10,486 members) to support local cafes and restaurants. Hiruni has also mentored and partnered with businesses and established an online Darebin Traders Association with 100+ members. As a representative of this Association, Hiruni has advocated to politicians, Council, made meaningful connections and been a conduit of information.
Hiruni also co-administers a Northcote, Thornbury and Fairfield Retail and the Women Leaders in Darebin Facebook Groups.
Hiruni’s initiative for progressing positive change and responding to global crises through positive local actions that support and grow local community and business. In her own business Northcote Bakeshop donates their end of day bread and baked products regularly to social enterprises ‘Lentil as Anything’ and ‘Food without Borders’.

Young Citizen of the Year Winner – Rumbi Mutezo
In 2020 Rumbi was dedicated to community and youth engagement and inspiring young people to keep connected online. 
Rumbi has been an active participant at Darebin Youth Hub and volunteers with the FreeZa committee (youth developmental program which provides opportunities for young people to organise live performances and create opportunities for local artists.
During the closure of The Hub in 2020, Youth Service programs went digital. Rumbi curated and hosted many online events via Darebin Youth Services to actively engage young people in the community. Even though she was going through her own challenges of online schooling and faced many social barriers, she took the initiative to connect with Darebin Youth Services weekly and create weekly dance workshops, cooking workshops and supported other online events. 
Another event Rumbi designed was an online Youth Activism Panel for Youth Week. She wanted to use the platform to inspire the work of local young people and create a safe space to share important topics such as climate change and race-based discrimination. Overall this young leader took initiative and many long hours to support young people in Darebin.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Community Leader of the Year Winner – Ian Hamm
Ian Hamm is a well-respected Victorian Yorta Yorta Aboriginal man. He is well known across the wider Melbourne community including here in the City of Darebin, the heartland of Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations in Victoria. For the past seven years Ian has attended National Apology events and National Sorry Day events for Darebin City Council and been a keynote speaker at these events.
Ian is a great advocate for reconciliation and has also supported Darebin Council in its Reconciliation Week messages, National Apology to Australia’s Stolen Generations and National Sorry Day events amongst other events by providing his attendance and Leadership in the Community.
Although Ian is often selected and invited to be upon many committees and boards across Victoria his work at the community level is predominately done on a voluntary basis in the Aboriginal community space.

CALD Elder Community Leader of the Year Winner (new category) – The Very Reverend Fr George Nasr
The Very Reverend Fr George Nasr has been the Parish Priest at St George’s Cathedral Thornbury for nearly 50 years, and has performed over 30,000 ceremonies for the Antiochian Orthodox community including christenings, weddings and funerals.
Fr George Nasr has served and lived in Darebin since migrating to Australia from Lebanon. Some key work was helping migrants settle in Australia, including Lebanese in the early days and more recently, the newly arrived Syrian refugees. 
Fr George Nasr started the congregation with a small number of families and it has grown to over 1000. Fr George mentored many Priests who have now established new Churches, and recently had his parish elevated to Cathedral status. This is the only Antiochian Orthodox Church in Victoria with this status and only the second in Australia.
Fr George Nasr’s contribution in humanitarian work has not been limited to his religious community, and many dominations know the work Fr George Nasr has done.
In the next few weeks year Fr George Nasr will be celebrating 50 years as an Antiochian Orthodox priest.

CALD Emerging Young Leader of the Year Winner (new category) – Fardowsa Yussuf

Fardowsa was dedicated to youth engagement and took a strong interest in organising workshops for Young Women to support their mental health.
Fardowsa completed a Leadership program at Darebin Youth Hub and volunteers with Girl’s Night, located at the Hub. During the closure of The Hub in 2020, Youth Service programs went digital. Fardowsa hosted many online events via Darebin Youth Services to actively engage young people in the community.
Fardowsa played a major role behind the scenes, supporting the online ‘Make Space’ workshops, a program to engage young people online. She also hosted a wellbeing session. Fardowsa also supported the online Youth Activism Panel for Youth Week.

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner – Vona Thompson

A local legend, Vona Thompson has made an impact on Preston for more than 80 years through community volunteering and fundraising. As a child, her first fundraiser was selling toffee at school for the War Relief. Now 90 years young, she works two days' a week in 'Vona's wonderful haberdashery shop' at Northern Care Works. Her 'share all' attitude enables customers from diverse cultural backgrounds to find previously used fabrics buttons and thread for their creative projects. 

Life Achievement Award Special Commendation – Christine Hodge
Chris has been an early years educator in the Kingsbury area for 30 years and has established strong links with families and community. A kindergarten is the beating heart of the community and through her welcoming and inclusive nature, she has fostered a life-long love of learning with young children. Chris has taught many children across three generations of families, indicating the trust and respect she has within the local community.

Community Group of the Year Winner – Locked Down Trivia
The Locked Down Trivia team, made up of several Darebin residents, saw a great opportunity to use lockdown productively. The team volunteered to coordinate and host weekly on-line trivia nights open to anyone and everyone. The Locked Down Trivia events were completely free for players, with an optional donation to different a local charity, community-based organisation, school or kindergarten each week.
These nights offered much needed source of light-hearted, family-friendly and COVID-safe fun. They included trivia questions, of course, but also some crazy dress up competitions, cake decoration competitions, Lego building contests and even an avenue to showcase musicians and entertainers.
This incredible team hosted 25 trivia nights and raised over $170,000 - with 100% of the funds raised going directly to the 70 different beneficiary organizations, including many Darebin based organisations. 

Sustainability Award – Darebin Hardwaste Heroes
In May 2020 two local residents, Jacqueline Lewis and Jo Press launched a Facebook Group called Darebin Hard Rubbish Heroes. The primary goal of the group was to save usable items and materials from landfill by helping Darebin residents find new homes for things they no longer required. Membership is open to anyone and the group is for the use of individuals not professional companies. 
Members were walking around streets taking photos of hard rubbish piles and posting them on the page, and others asking if someone can pick up an item seen in a photo. Members can add an ISO (in search of) request and ask others to look out for items, and people are showcasing what they've collected and how they've cleaned or fixed it up and are now using it. 
As of February 2021, membership is over 7000 followers and at the time of hard rubbish collection had 100 or more posts a day. This group assists to reduce landfill; expand our circular economy; assist with behavior change on reducing waste and greenhouse emissions by reducing consumption. 
The DHRH have a big year planned for 2021 to reach even more members in the community and rehome as many pre-loved items as possible.

Sustainability Award Special Commendation – Moon Rabbit
Moon Rabbit is a social-enterprise café situated in Preston and is part of the Bridge Darebin network.
Created with zero-waste values at its core and set up as a vocational training facility, the team were ready to build on their award-winning success of 2019 when the COVID crisis hit the hospitality sector hard.
Undeterred by having to face an uncertain “pause” in regular trading, Moon Rabbit members rallied together to remain open and created innovative solutions and pivots that not only kept staff employed but upheld the sustainable practices of the business.

Media Release: 19 March 2021


Darebin City Council is thrilled to receive $299,580 from the Victorian Government for our exciting redevelopment of KP Hardiman Reserve.

Council’s priority inclusion of recycled materials in the demolition and construction of the KP Hardiman hockey field was recognised with a grant from Sustainability Victoria’s Sustainable Infrastructure Fund.

The newly constructed field will use 98 per cent reclaimed tyres for shock pads, recycled glass and aggregate in the concrete pathways around the field, recycled paper mulch for surrounding grass areas, recycled plastic seating for spectators, and recycled plastic in the playing field.

As part of the demolition process, synthetic grass will be reused at local schools and golf courses and concrete will be recycled.

Darebin Mayor Councillor Lina Messina said the $3.18 million project would become a case study for what could be achieved when the circular economy was prioritised in demolition and construction work.

“We hope this project will become an inspiration for individuals, businesses and organisations across Victoria to take up the use of recycled materials and these exciting new technologies,” Cr Messina said.

“Recycled materials are no longer a novelty. Their use will and must become a priority for how we design and build for our future.”

Home to the La Trobe University Hockey Club, the field at KP Hardiman Reserve will see hundreds of junior, senior and masters players compete in Hockey Victoria competitions.

The field will be complete in June 2021.

Media Release: 22 February 2021

With Australia’s high speed limits increasingly out of step with the rest of the developed world, there is a new push for the standard speed limit on local streets to drop to 40 km/h.

After consulting road safety experts, Australia’s leading walking organisation is calling for the default speed limit on local streets to drop from 50 to 40 km/h and 30km/h to be allowed in busy pedestrian areas, in a comprehensive new position statement on speed limits. An increasing proportion of those being killed on Victorian roads are people walking, especially older people.

Darebin City Council proudly supports this call. 

“We know 66 per cent of Victorians support lower speed limits in neighbourhood streets” said Ben Rossiter, Executive Officer of Victoria Walks “and this would make it safer to walk to schools, shops and public transport”.

With students returning to school Victoria Walks is also pushing for a rethink of school speed zones, which reduce speeds only outside designated school entrances, to support initiatives like the Walk to School program.

“Current school zones protect kids who are being dropped off at the school gate, but they don’t do much for children actually walking to school through the wider neighbourhood,” Dr Rossiter says.

“We need to give kids a fair go at walking to school and their parents some freedom from the school drop off.”

“Research has estimated that the risk of death for a pedestrian hit at 50 km/h is more than 80%” said Dr Rossiter “but at 40 km/h the risk is thought to be less than 20%.”

Speed limits of 40 km/h are already in place across a lot of inner Melbourne, but Dr Rossiter says “councils have to go through too much Government red tape to change the limit.”

“The City of Darebin has numerous residential streets that have been reduced to 40km/h, and as a result we’ve seen an enormous reduction in the number of crashes and accidents that occur in our municipality,” Darebin Mayor Lina Messina said.

“During the 2019-20 financial year, there were 82 fewer crashes on the 50km of Darebin’s local roads that have had speed reductions. This was a 193 per cent improvement on the previous year and has come about largely due to increasing the number of speed-reduced roads,” Mayor Messina said.

Victoria Walks is also calling on the Government to allow councils to easily set 30km/h speed limits in busy walking areas like major shopping strips.

“Victoria’s approach to speeds and road safety is lagging behind many countries” said Dr Rossiter. “Spain and the Netherlands are now applying 30 km/h to residential streets across their entire country.”

In Victoria, however, the Government’s speed limit guidelines do not give councils the option of using 30 km/h as a speed limit.

“Councils need 30km/h as part of their toolkit to use on local shopping streets,” Dr Rossiter said. “The state government needs to get out of the way and let councils protect their communities.”

Victoria Walks is also pushing for speed limits to be reviewed on main roads because two-thirds of pedestrian deaths are on roads with a speed limit of 60 km/h or higher.

“Australian speed limits are very high compared to overseas. Internationally, the countries that are serious about road safety have 50 km/h on arterial roads,” Dr Rossiter says.

“The new government road safety strategy says some nice things, but if we’re going to reduce the road toll, business as usual won’t cut it,” Ben Rossiter says.

“Historic improvements in road safety came off the back of visionary leadership that bought in compulsory seat belts, speed cameras and previous reductions in area wide speed limits. Further action on speed will be the key to saving lives."

The Victoria Walks position statement, Safer Urban Speed Limits, is available at this link.

Media Release: 28 January 2021

This January, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre is thrilled to launch three thought-provoking new exhibitions: The Multiverse, Shannon Lyons – Li, and Jeremy Eaton – Through the hand to the mouth.

Climb the master staircase at the Homestead and visitors will encounter portals into alternative realities. The Multiverse, guest-curated by Charlotte Christie, features five diverse artists who have each been given a space to transform into their own version of the universe; some dark, some playful, some utopian. The exhibition was preceded in late November by a special Digital Space designed by Alexandra Margetic, which will remain online until the show’s conclusion on March 27. 

Darebin Council Mayor Lina Messina is eagerly anticipating what this season will bring.

“I can’t imagine what these multiverses will look like, but I’m looking forward to finding out. At a time when a lot of our daily lives have become insular, this exhibition is sure to inspire the imagination of our community,” Cr Messina said.

Downstairs, the Old Dining Room will be transformed by local artist Shannon Lyons, winner of the 2018 A1 Darebin Art Salon. Shannon’s installation Li responds to the unique social and institutional histories of Bundoora Homestead Art Centre, formerly the Bundoora Repatriation Mental Hospital. The work shines a light on the work of Dr John Cade, whose experiments would alter the course of treatment for people with bipolar disorder.

Alongside Li, Jeremy Eaton’s exhibition of large-scale prints Through the hand to the mouth will feature on the ground floor. Presented in the atmospheric Old Billiards Room, these works capture the coded gesture of lighting a cigarette, a motif occurring in gay cinema since the 1950s. This body of work continues Jeremy’s inquiry into undisclosed homosocial histories, evoking the sensuality of these discrete exchanges.

Mayor Messina expressed her pleasure at this diverse approach to the 2021 opening season.

“The balance of contemporary art and historical exhibitions means there’s something for everyone. I’m looking forward to visiting the gallery again, as I’m sure are many members of our community.”

Bundoora Homestead Art Centre is the public art gallery for the City of Darebin and is committed to presenting challenging and inspiring contemporary visual arts exhibitions and public programs. The Homestead was built in 1900 and is registered by Heritage Victoria and certified by the National Trust.

The Homestead is closed for the holidays but will reopen on 13 January 2021.  

For more information on any of these exhibitions, visit

Media Release: 4 January 2021

Darebin City Council is relieved that more than 50 of the men imprisoned in the Park Hotel have been released and welcomes them as our newest neighbours and friends.

Darebin City Council understands some of the men have been temporarily housed in Darebin, and is helping to provide practical assistance, including emergency relief, and working with other agencies to assist the men’s settlement into the community.

Detained for years, first in Manus and Nauru, and then in the Mantra Bell Hotel in Preston for over a year, these men have been treated cruelly for exercising their legal right to seek asylum. All people seeking asylum deserve dignity, respect and safety.

The treatment of these men, who have committed no crimes, is a national shame.

“We are delighted that more of these men have been freed, and I know our community will welcome them with open arms,” Darebin Mayor Cr Lina Messina said.

“But this is just the beginning, and we hope the remaining men are freed soon. There is no reason to detain them any longer.”

“I pledged on behalf of Darebin City Council that we would continue to advocate until all the men are free and we will uphold that promise.”

“I would like to thank all the community organisations, groups, and individuals who supported the men and called for their release. Without your support, this would likely have not been possible.”

Darebin City Council is supporting a range of initiatives and organisations to improve the treatment, care and rights of all asylum seeker detainees, including working with the City of Melbourne to improve conditions at the Park Hotel, and supporting individual asylum seekers to raise their voice by providing other platforms for expression, such as arts projects.

Darebin City Council is proud to be a Refugee Welcome Zone and a member of the Welcoming Cities Network, and supports the Time for a Home campaign, calling on the Federal Government to release refugees in detention and commit to a pathway for their resettlement.

Media Release: 21 January 2021

Cultural and linguistic diversity is a great strength of our community and we continue to seek out new opportunities to celebrate and promote this. We are delighted to announce two new categories in our annual Darebin Community Awards.

The new awards are the: 
CALD Elder Community Leader of the Year 
CALD Emerging Young Leader of the Year (under 21 years)

The Darebin Community Awards recognise the achievement of community members who have made an outstanding contribution to the Darebin community. The Awards are presented to recipients at an annual event, which for 2020 will be a part of FUSE Darebin Autumn Festival at the Darebin Arts Centre on March 18.

“Darebin is home to one of the largest, most diverse communities in Victoria and we’re thrilled to announce an award to recognise the outstanding leaders that exist here,” Darebin Mayor Lina Messina said.

“2020 was a unique and challenging year, and there are hundreds of stories of people inspiring others and demonstrating the values of our community. We want to ensure those people are appreciated and rewarded for their work.”

The closing date for nominations to the Darebin Community Awards is February 11, 2021. This will be the last day people can recognise the special accomplishments of someone in their community or demonstrate their admiration or gratitude by nominating them for a 2020 Award.

In recognition of this and to further acknowledge the diversity of our community, Council resolved to add two new awards to the established seven categories of the Darebin Community Awards. 

At the December 21 Council Meeting it was decided the CALD Elder Community Leader of the Year award would be presented to an individual who symbolises the values important to the CALD community and is an inspirational role model for others, and the CALD Emerging Young Leader of the Year would be presented to a person up to the age of 21 who has made an outstanding contribution to their community and/or demonstrated excellence in their chosen field. Full details are available on our website

The full list of the Darebin Community Awards is:

Citizen of the Year 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Leader of the Year 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Emerging Young Community Leader of the Year 
Young Citizen of the Year 
Community Group of the Year 
Sustainability Award 
Lifetime Achievement Award
CALD Elder Community Leader of the Year 
CALD Emerging Young Leader of the Year (under 21 years).

To Nominate a person or group, you must:
1. Complete a separate survey for each nomination.
2. Ensure you complete all sections of the nomination form and attach copies of any supporting information, e.g. previous awards won, newspaper or magazine articles, details of additional referees, etc.
3. Submit your nomination online or by email to

Nominations close 5pm on 11 February 2021.

All nominees and nominators will be invited to the Darebin Community Awards Night which will be held on Thursday, 18 March 2021 at Darebin Arts Centre, Preston.

For further enquiries, please contact:

Richard Pearce, Media Officer, Darebin Council
0437 563 788

Bronwyn Ryan-Mercer, Senior Producer, Creative Culture & Events
8470 8551

Media Release: 18 January 2021


Darebin Council objects in the strongest possible terms to the transfer of men, who have not committed any crime, from the Mantra Bell to another hotel.

The men should be freed into community detention immediately, pending determination of their permanent status.

Sixty men have been held at the Mantra Bell for over a year, under restrictions far tighter than the COVID restriction that the rest of Melbourne followed. Some of these men have been in detention for more than seven years. 

These asylum seekers were transferred to Australia to receive medical treatment. Instead they have received a heavy handed and disproportionate response and have been kept in the dark about their futures.

“As Australia heads towards Christmas, after this year of restrictions, the treatment of these men is a national shame. Our community stands ready to welcome these men as our new neighbours and friends. Instead the Federal Government has offered them cruelty and neglect,” Darebin Mayor Lina Messina said.

“Former Mayor and current Councillor Susan Rennie was among those arrested at the site. She was protesting peacefully and has our full support,” Mayor Messina said.

Darebin Council is proud to be a Refugee Welcome Zone and a member of the Welcoming Cities Network, and supports the Time for a Home campaign, calling on the Federal Government to release refugees in detention and commit to a pathway for their resettlement.

Media Release: 17 December 2020

Darebin Council welcomes the news that two people seeking asylum have been freed from detention and hopes they are the first of many.

Since learning of the men detained inside the Mantra Bell Hotel in Preston, Council has been an active advocate calling for their release.

Darebin Mayor Lina Messina said it was high time the men were welcomed into the community.

“Everyone has the right to seek a safe place to call home,” Mayor Messina said.

“Being trapped indefinitely against your will would be horrendous and is a practice that must end today.”

“The men inside Mantra, and many others seeking asylum, are some of the most vulnerable members of our community and we should be doing everything we can to help them.”

The men have been detained at the Mantra Bell for more than a year, having been brought to Australia from offshore detention camps under the Medevac legislation. Some have been in detention for 7 years.

Darebin Council is proud to be a Refugee Welcome Zone and a member of the Welcoming Cities Network, and supports the Time for a Home campaign, calling on the Federal Government to release refugees in detention and commit to a pathway for their resettlement.

In July 2020, Council joined the Nobody Left Behind campaign in calling on the Federal Government to extend crucial support to people seeking asylum.

Council will be holding a vigil at the G.M. Mott Reserve opposite Mantra Bell on Saturday 19 December to show solidarity and support for the men still languishing in detention.

Media Release: 11 December 2020


Darebin Council has released the city’s first Good Design Guides, marking a new era of design for the municipality.

Council endorsed the innovative Good Design Guides on 7 September 2020, the first Local Government to do so outside of the City of Melbourne. Development of the Guides has been led by Council’s City Designer Munir Vahanvati.

The Darebin Good Design Guide - Apartment Development and Darebin Good Design Guide - Medium Density Development are highly visual documents that outline and clarify Council’s expected outcomes for design in planning applications and help applicants and planners in pre-application meetings and application assessments.

Mr Vahanvati said the Guides are designed to help lift the standard of design proposed by developers working in Darebin. The Guides complement the planning scheme requirements by providing a clear way for applicants to meet Council’s expectations.

“Planning schemes by necessity are broad and there are various ways to meet the requirements. Our Good Design Guides clarify how Council expects applicants to meet those requirements in Darebin,” Mr Vahanvati said.

“We know ensuring high quality design will create more resilient and liveable neighbourhoods. It’s not just about aesthetics, it’s about how things work and how the developments interact with their environment.”

The Good Design Guides are part of Council’s Design Excellence Program, developed to improve the quality of development in Darebin and create neighbourhoods that will stand the test of time.

Mr Vahanvati said the Program aimed to lift the standard of design in multiple ways, including by encouraging developers to go above and beyond minimum requirements and finding new ways to ensure Darebin is sustainable, inclusive and liveable.

Darebin Council CEO Sue Wilkinson welcomed the Good Design Guides and said with Darebin’s expected population growth of around 40% over the next 20 years, ensuring good design outcomes for the community was more important than ever.

“Council is determined to be a leader in this space, to think different, and be brave. We want our Darebin of the future to deliver on the ideals so important to us and our community. Our city needs to be sustainable, accessible and liveable, while supporting our diverse population,” she said.

Part of this leadership is Darebin’s ongoing advocacy to the State Government to strengthen state-wide requirements for building and planning to make sure buildings include renewable energy and have higher standards of energy efficiency.

Future guides are planned for landscape, streetscape and environmentally sustainable design.

Mr Vahanvati is an urban designer with 15 years’ experience across the local government and the private sector. He is known for his work on the Moreland Apartment Design Code, which received Planning Institute Australia’s President’s Award and Best Large Project Award.

Media Release: 7 December 2020


Darebin Councillors have elected Cr Lina Messina as Mayor and Cr Gaetano Greco as Deputy Mayor for 2020-2021.

The election took place at a Special Council meeting held in Preston City Hall on 23 November 2020.

Mayor Messina pledged to serve Darebin with “passion, integrity and pride” and said she was proud to represent such a vibrant, progressive and inclusive municipality.

“When my mother and her sisters settled in Northcote, they were coming to a land they’d never seen to speak a language they’d never heard. The Darebin community is a proud, diverse group whose lives have been enriched by the migrants and refugees that have come here,” Mayor Messina said.

Mayor Messina said while the COVID-19 recovery came with many challenges it also resulted in extraordinary experiences and opportunities.

“I and my fellow Councillors are excited to get started and begin delivering real results for our community. I’m looking forward to working cooperatively with other levels of Government and partners in local Government.” Mayor Messina said.

“The pandemic will usher in a new world and in the economic recovery the health and wellbeing of our community will be essential.”

With Darebin’s population expected to grow by 40 per cent over the next 20 years, Mayor Messina said planning for future growth with sustainable development, addressing disadvantage and inequality, and tackling the climate emergency were priorities for the Councillors. 

“Darebin is a great place to live, work and play, but there is important work to be done to not only improve the lives of those that live and work here already, but future generations as well.”

“I look forward to serving you as your Mayor, and I look forward to continued collaboration with the community. We want to hear from our community and incorporate their ideas into our plans for the next four years.”

It is Cr Greco’s fourth term as Councillor. Cr Greco said supporting businesses and residents and assisting our First Nations population would be priorities for the next 12 months.

Media Release: 24 November 2020

Darebin Council is proud to announce the most recent recipients of the FUSE Fund arts grants program. The FUSE Fund supports local artists and organisations to present high-quality arts projects and events as part of Darebin’s new multi-arts festival FUSE, held in Autumn and Spring each year.

The latest round of the FUSE Fund sees a total of $50,000 granted to six exciting new projects for the 2021 FUSE Autumn and Spring festivals. The funding round was highly competitive, with 45 applications received. The investment is on top of Darebin’s $11.8 million COVID-19 Community and Local Business Resilience and Recovery Package, which allocated almost $500,000 to supporting Darebin’s creative sector through initiatives such as waived license fees and honouring existing artist payments.

Darebin CEO Sue Wilkinson acknowledged the arts and cultural sector had been significantly impacted by COVID-19.

“Darebin is home to a rich and diverse arts community. Investing in arts and culture not only supports artists but leads to community strengthening and supports community wellbeing. Artists and arts organisations are significant assets that we need to protect,” Ms Wilkinson said.

FUSE, Darebin’s ground-breaking new festival, has continued to operate during the COVID-19 lockdown. The FUSE Spring 2020 program included 50 events enjoyed while observing COVID-19 restrictions. Initiatives delivered through the program led directly to 62 artistic commissions supporting close to 200 artists, artistic producers and technicians, across mediums as varied as visual arts, broadcast, performance, film, digital art and music. Artists have displayed creativity and resilience in adapting festival events to address restrictions, providing a much-needed creative boost to communities in a time of great uncertainty.

“The new FUSE Fund projects reflect and celebrate what is unique about Darebin, enabling a sense of belonging and fostering creative connections between people. They will provide opportunities to discover and explore new ideas and spaces across the municipality. The projects reflect the diversity and creativity of our community, with performances and events designed for or by Aboriginal artists, people with disabilities, young people and the broader population,” Ms Wilkinson said.

Dan Koop, a Darebin based artist and producer who has worked extensively across Australia and overseas, was awarded funding for his project The Market Record. The project focuses on community relationships, social history and food culture at Preston Market. Dan explains that recent travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19 made him fall in love with his local environment.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work in my own backyard and with my own community,” Mr Koop said.

FUSE Fund Grant Recipients

For FUSE Autumn 2021:

I Liked It...But I Didn’t Know What The F#!k It Was About (Joel Bray): A performance-come-conversation season with Aboriginal artist and raconteur Joel Bray presented at the Wesley Anne, Northcote. With a relaxed format and humour, Joel will share his creative process and use scenes from his work to engage the audience in a conversation about the importance of contemporary performance. 

Women of Soul (Chelsea Wilson): A special ten-year anniversary event celebrating the strength and resilience of female artists in Darebin. Funding will support a songwriting intensive, live show creative development, and the creation of digital content including interviews with the songwriters and documentation of the creative process and live performances.

For FUSE Spring 2021:

Still Here @ Northcote Social Club: Medicine Songs (Emily Ferris): A collaboration between the Northcote Social Club and Neil Morris's Still Here project. Neil Morris is a Yorta Yorta DjaDja Wurrung activist, poet, RRR show host and musician who will curate a showcase of emerging First Nations talent. The event will be a part of his Medicine Songs series.

Wear the Wild (Luna Aquatica): A multifaceted community collaboration project with the young people of Darebin. Local costume designers, Luna Aquatica and Sarah Seahorse, will host a series of workshops engaging young people of Darebin in environmental issues using wearable art as a medium. The project will culminate in a runway showcase event. 

The Market Record (Dan Koop): A site-responsive audio experience, developed in conversation with people of the Preston Market precinct, designed to map community relationships, social history and food culture in the City of Darebin. The project is led by artists Jamie Lewis and Dan Koop, both regular market shoppers and local residents, and supported by the Preston Market Management and traders. 

Spaced (Jess Kapuscinski-Evans): A spoken word/poetry development which is a cry for solidarity between those with mental illness and those with physical impairments. The development will culminate in an online presentation and publication of a corresponding zine.

Media Release: 23 November 2020

Submissions are now open for Amendment C170dare, a proposed change to town planning requirements that would introduce a levy on new development to help fund and upgrade infrastructure across Darebin.

Darebin CEO Sue Wilkinson said the new Development Contributions Plan would ensure the cost of essential infrastructure for Darebin’s growing population is shared between developers and Council on a fair and equitable basis and in accordance with Victorian Government legislation.

“The population of Darebin is predicted to grow from 165,000 in 2019 to more than 230,000 in 2041. The new DCP will help Council fund essential infrastructure such as roads, paths, and community and sporting facilities to meet the needs of the growing community into the future,” Ms Wilkinson said.

The levy is a common tool used by local governments to support infrastructure development and is a commitment set out in Darebin’s Council Plan 2017-21. 

It will allow Council to collect levies from new developments proposing to increase the number of dwellings and/or increase leasable commercial, retail or industrial floor area. It does not apply where dwellings are being replaced, extended or renovated.

The amount of development contribution varies depending on the type and location of development and is used to help pay for planned new infrastructure and upgrades to existing infrastructure. New development means more users of Council’s infrastructure with new residents and increased commercial activity, so it is important that developers contribute to this cost.

The proposed DCP includes 72 infrastructure projects with an estimated total cost of $120 million. It is anticipated the DCP levy would collect approximately $29 million, around 24 per cent of the estimated total cost of these projects, over the next 20 years.

A full list of projects can be viewed in the Darebin Development Contributions Plan 2019 on the YourSayDarebin website.

Darebin Council has received authorisation from the Victorian Planning Minister to prepare and exhibit the amendment, which proposes to incorporate a new Development Contributions Plan into the Darebin Planning Scheme.

Amendment C170dare is on exhibition from 12 November until 14 December 2020. During this period members of the public can make a submission on the proposed changes or register to attend a virtual community information session via the Development Contributions Plan page on the YourSayDarebin website.

Information sessions:
Tuesday 24 November, 1.00pm – 2.00pm
Thursday 3 December, 5.30pm – 6.30pm

Following the exhibition period submissions will be presented to Council in early 2021.

Media Release: 17 November 2020


The results of the Darebin City Council 2020 election were declared on 9 November 2020 by the Victorian Electoral Commission.

The Darebin community’s elected representatives are:

Central Ward Lina Messina

North Central Ward Julie Williams

North East Ward Tim Laurence

North West Ward Gaetano Greco

South Central Ward Susan Rennie

South East Ward Emily Dimitriadis

South Ward Tom Hannan

South West Ward Trent McCarthy

West Ward Susanne Newton

Darebin CEO Sue Wilkinson welcomed new and returning Councillors at a ceremony at Preston City Hall on 9 November.

“Congratulations to all candidates on running a fantastic race in very difficult circumstances as a result of the pandemic restrictions. It’s great to see a mix of returning Councillors and newly elected Councillors” she said.

Councillors will serve a four-year term from 2020 to 2024.

The election for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor will take place at a Special Council Meeting on 23 November.

Media Release: 12 November 2020

Darebin Council is calling on the Victorian Government to reduce the opening hours of pokies venues to lessen gambling harm when poker machines return on November 9.

Since Pokies venues were closed on 23 March 2020, the Darebin community has saved an estimated $51 million from being spent on poker machines.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform is leading the call for reduced hours and a two-hour gambling time limit.

Darebin Council CEO Sue Wilkinson said the Darebin community loses more than $81 million every year to poker machine gambling.

“We know these machines cause harm and that poker machines are disproportionately located in areas of higher socio-economic disadvantage,” she said.

“Venue closures have helped people experiencing gambling harm get a break, and we want them to be able to continue to pay their bills and put food on the table long after COVID-19 ends.”

“Every dollar spent in these machines is a dollar that could be spent supporting our local economy in the COVID-19 recovery.”

“We want venues to be closed from midnight to 10AM every day at every venue. Nothing good happens at a pokies venue at 3AM.”

“A lot of gambling harm occurs in the early hours of the morning and with unemployment and social stress and anxiety high from COVID-19, our community members will be more vulnerable to gambling harm.” 

A strictly enforced two-hour time limit for which patrons can gamble at poker machines should also be implemented to limit community transmission of COVID-19. 

“Health advice says a two-hour limit on gambling would ensure the risk of an outbreak at a venue is more manageable, as well as minimise the risk of gambling harm,” Ms Wilkinson said.

“This time limit and the closing of venues for at least 10 hours is a simple but effective measure to avert the tidal wave of gambling harm seen in other states whose venues have reopened.”

“These reforms have repeatedly been recommended by public health experts and gambling harm counsellors, along with the Productivity Commission due to economic benefits. In the wake of COVID-19, there is no better time that the community needs these reforms."

Media Release: 06 November 2020

Darebin Council has joined the call for urgent investment in infrastructure to drive economic and jobs growth post COVID-19.

The Building Communities, Connecting People: Northern Horizons 2020 report identifies a range of investments in Melbourne’s North to kickstart the COVID-19 recovery and provide the necessary infrastructure for the expected boom in population.

Darebin CEO Sue Wilkinson said the municipality was expecting an additional 60,000 residents in the next 20 years.

“Darebin is one of Australia’s fastest growing areas and a place people want to live. We need to ensure our future residents have access to good transport, amenity and employment,” she said.

Key projects identified in the report include the $5 billion La Trobe University Redevelopment, estimated to create around 20,000 jobs, and connecting infrastructure including the Suburban Rail Loop and the Northern Regional Trails cycling and walking network.

NORTH Link Executive Director Chris James said COVID-19 caused significant economic disruption.

“Creating jobs is now the number 1, 2 and 3 issue in the region and economic confidence needs to be restored. The COVID-19 shock comes on top of Melbourne’s North already lagging on several measures of social disadvantage”, Mr James said.

The report recommends the infrastructure projects be largely private sector funded, but Government endorsement and infrastructure support will enable them to come on stream more rapidly, boosting economic confidence and create jobs.

Environment, health and wellbeing and liveability have also been prioritised, with proposals for more open space in the Inner North, enhancements to the Northern Centre for Health and Education Research, a new hospital in the Outer North and an acceleration of energy efficiency and renewable opportunities for business and residents.

The Northern Horizons 2020 Report also finds that Melbourne’s North is also well-positioned to help secure the country’s supply chains via local manufacturing, given the region’s strengths in this space, particularly around food and health, and the education, research and incubator infrastructure that supports manufacturing locally.

Media Release: 27 October 2020

Darebin Council is proud to announce an amazing line up of artists, artworks and events in the Spring program for FUSE. FUSE is Darebin’s brand-new multi-arts festival, held in Autumn and Spring each year, designed to accommodate a range of different access points for audiences and practitioners.

Kicking off in Spring 2020 with a Welcome to Country by Aunty Georgina Nicholson, courtesy of Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, the festival includes nearly 50 events to be enjoyed while observing COVID-19 restrictions that may be in place. Between September 1 and November 29, there will be a curated festival, commissioned work, and supported community engagement.

There are featured events, including podcasts, radio broadcasts, commissioned artworks in the streets where you live, new films and art-focused walks to help you see your neighbourhood differently. There are workshops from local artists Dan Goronszy, Diego Ramirez, and Mark Pritchard, there are streamed concerts from Darebin Youth Services, bee workshops by Backyard Harvest, and we launch our call for nominations for the Darebin Community Awards, which will be awarded at a ceremony in March.

Tune in to the Darebin Songwriters Award Grand Final Broadcast on 3KND Radio at 7pm, Thursday 17 September to find out the winner of this year’s award. In a special program hosted by Neda Rahmani, the broadcast will feature the finalists’ songs, interviews, special guests and the announcement of the winners, from well over 100 entries, of both the People’s Choice Award and the Darebin Songwriters’ Award selected by our esteemed judges Emma Donovan, Jess Ribeiro and Charles Jenkins. 

If you live locally, then as part of your one-hour exercise, you and your family might be able to choose one of four self-guided art walks in History on High or All Nations Artworks Hunt. History on High takes in three strips along High Street Darebin, Queens Parade to Separation Street, Separation Street to Dundas Street and Dundas Street to Tyler Street. Take a journey into the recent cultural heritage or listen to an audio track you can enjoy in the comfort of your home. All Nations Artworks Hunt is an interactive audio tour of public artworks in All Nations Park, Northcote, recorded by Jane Bayly.

Hyperlocal is a new series of immersive art works that invite audiences to see Darebin differently. Through narrative, song, visual art, performance and technology, the familiarity of Darebin’s streets, buildings and landmarks is celebrated, unpacked or transformed, creating a new local mythology, for locals, by locals. The three new works commissioned for the inaugural season will be available for download all through November.

Also in November, Stimulus Package - Street Gallery is an exhibition of temporary works curated by Made Spencer-Castle. Stimulus Package wryly plays with the notion of economic stimulus during the current global pandemic, through the commissioning of artworks presented on advertising sites throughout the City of Darebin.

Media Release: 9 September 2020


Darebin Council is thrilled to announce the two winners of its 2020 Pitch It competition, TBH Pets and Body Confident Collective.

TBH Pets was awarded the 2020 Winner of Sustainability. The start-up makes sustainable pet treats from 100% plant-based ingredients and insect protein, including hemp, quinoa and crickets.

Our 2020 Winner of Social Impact was the Body Confident Collective. Body Confident Collective is a not for profit social impact business providing evidence-based resources and training to improve body image, health, and wellbeing.

The two winners were each awarded $20,000, a place in La Trobe University’s Global Accelerator program and access to an online start-up community thanks to La Trobe University.

Finalist My Milkman won the Special Judges Award for their milk and groceries delivery service, supplying independent produce using plastic-free, reusable and recyclable packaging.

My Milkman received $7,000 and access to an online start-up community thanks to La Trobe University.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said the final was a fantastic day of talent, innovation and commitment to the Darebin community.

“Congratulations to our winners, and to all our participants on their incredible business ideas. I was inspired by the finalist’s pitches and know their energy, enthusiasm and talent will be essential as we recover from COVID-19,” Mayor Rennie said.

Beginning in 2016, the Darebin Pitch It program was the first Local Government accelerator program in Australia. Each year local entrepreneurs are invited to show why their business idea is innovative, has commercial potential, and will benefit residents in the City of Darebin.

To adapt to COVID-19 this year Pitch It went virtual. 30 business teams were shortlisted to a group of 10 finalists after a couple of tough first rounds. The 10 finalists were then supported through an accelerator program run by the Melbourne Innovation Centre, assisting their personal and business development and giving them a chance to fine tune their pitches.

At the Grand Final on 6 August 2020 the finalists were judged by La Trobe University Accelerator Program Director Cerasela Tanasescu, Melbourne Innovation Centre CEO David Williamson, CERES CEO and Chair of SENVIC Cinnamon Evans, and Darebin Council Equity, Wellbeing and Economic Development Manager Wendy Dinning.

Mayor Rennie thanked the 2020 program sponsors, the LaTrobe University Accelerator and Melbourne Innovation Centre. Both organisations have a strong history with Council and the Pitch It Program and continue to support the development of new and innovative entrepreneurs and businesses that will benefit Darebin’s economy.

Further quotes:

Cerasela Tanasescu, Director, La Trobe University Accelerator Program
“It was a pleasure for me to be one of the panel judges of Darebin Pitch It that offered in total $47,000 to 3 start-ups. The process was very competitive and I salute the commitment and support provided by Darebin Council to the start-ups. La Trobe University is proud to be part of this initiative in particular in this difficult economic context. Now more than ever start-ups need us as Darebin City Council offered their help and support. Well done to all teams for this amazing experience. Looking forward to next year.

David Williamson, CEO, Melbourne Innovation Centre
"Melbourne Innovation Centre has been delighted to be involved once more in Darebin Pitch It. As a founding partner organisation of Darebin Pitch It, Melbourne Innovation Centre has enjoyed contributing to the accelerator, mentoring and judging. Darebin Pitch It, as the first Local Council Accelerator program in Australia, continues to evolve to support local entrepreneurs in the City of Darebin aligning directly with the objectives of Melbourne Innovation Centre.”
“2020 has presented unprecedented challenges and Darebin Pitch It was able to pivot itself into an entirely virtual program. The start-up finalists across both categories were of a strong calibre, and the Grand Final was entertaining and provided great hope for the economic recovery within the City of Darebin led by talented and emerging entrepreneurs. We congratulate all of the winners and finalists and look forward to assisting these new enterprises to scale further."

Media Release: 19 August 2020

Darebin Council is delighted to announce the appointment of ADCO Constructions as the contractor for the Darebin Multi-Sports Stadium, set to be a sporting hub for the people of Darebin and surrounds, and deliver more than 116 jobs over its lifetime.

Darebin Council is delighted to announce the appointment of ADCO Constructions as the contractor for the Darebin Multi-Sports Stadium, set to be a sporting hub for the people of Darebin and surrounds, and deliver more than 116 jobs over its lifetime.

The $24.8 million project will deliver a state-of-the-art sports stadium with 4 indoor multi-use courts, encouraging increased participation in community sport, particularly for women and girls.

The contract includes upgrades to the main road entrance and Darebin Road intersection.

Four outdoor multi-use courts are also under construction as part of the precinct’s redevelopment.

One of the most experienced construction companies in the country, the ADCO Constructions contract was unanimously approved by councillors at the 20 July 2020 Council meeting.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said the stadium would be a fixture of the local community for years to come.

“This is a vital project for our community sporting landscape. Many of our sports teams have dealt with inadequate facilities for too long,” Mayor Rennie said.

“The number of women and girls participating in sport is exploding in Darebin and we’re proud to deliver the facilities our community deserves.”

Parkside Netball Club President Carly Kluge, who was part of the initial push for the stadium in 2017, said she was “thrilled” the project was getting underway.

“We understand the importance of keeping women and girls involved and engaged in sport,” Ms Kluge said.

“Sporting clubs like ours play an important role in keeping our community members fit, healthy and socially connected.”

A report from Michael Connell and Associates estimated construction activity will generate 89 FTE onsite construction jobs and 18 jobs in the materials and equipment supply sectors, and contribute $14.05 million to the economy.

When operational, there will be 9.5 FTE jobs for operations and staffing of the multi-sports-stadium.

Construction is expected to start in September 2020 and be completed by November 2021.

Media Release: 23 July 2020

Darebin Council is one step closer to delivering much-needed affordable housing in the heart of Preston, following a decision to lease a Council owned car park to Housing Choices Australia for a period of 50 years.

Darebin Council is one step closer to delivering much-needed affordable housing in the heart of Preston, following a decision to lease a Council owned car park to Housing Choices Australia for a period of 50 years.

Councillors agreed to the lease at the 20 July 2020 Council meeting after a competitive, multi-stage tender process.

The decision is important not only for the Darebin community, but for the affordable housing and government sectors, because it shows a lease model can work.

In this model the valuable community asset – the land – is retained, while making the site available for affordable housing for those in need. The site will be leased to HCA for $1 per year.

Darebin Council Mayor Susan Rennie said the lack of affordable housing was a critical issue in Darebin, one further highlighted by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All communities have a right to access safe, secure and affordable housing options and this has become even more important during the pandemic,” Mayor Rennie said.

“We know there is a need for affordable housing in Darebin, and we’re excited to deliver such a critical project while retaining a valuable community asset.”

Council is working with Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation on the project, who will contribute $1 million to construction and provide the proponent a $2 million low interest loan.

“We are proud to work with Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation on such an important project and to use this opportunity to help tackle the growing housing crisis,” Mayor Rennie said.

The tender process included a range of criteria and objectives all applicants were required to satisfy.

The plan for the site, currently a public car park, is a five-storey, 41 dwelling block of affordable housing.

The proposal would contain 23 1-bedroom, 6 1.5-bedroom (Specialist Disability Accommodation) and 12 2-bedroom dwellings.

100 per cent of the dwellings will be social housing and allocated to those on the Victorian Housing Register.

There are currently more than 80,000 people waiting for social housing in the state.

The development is yet to be finalised and will go through the standard planning application process.

The development also proposes a communal rooftop space, retention of significant Lemon Scented Gum trees and a commitment to a minimum 6 star NatHERS energy rating.

LMCF CEO Dr Catherine Brown OAM congratulated Darebin Council and Housing Choices Australia.

“Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation is committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing to prevent homelessness in Melbourne,” Dr Brown said.

“Our Affordable Housing Challenge aims to encourage cross-sector housing solutions through leveraging philanthropic funds and well-located sites owned by local government or not-for-profit organisations to enable a funding and financing mix that increases the supply of affordable housing.”

Its location at 52-60 Townhall Avenue, Preston, is close to shops, services, public transport and Preston Market.

Plans for the site provide for 30 public car parking spaces, a reduction of 12 spaces.

To offset this, the local community will be consulted on a proposed change to nearby street parking to create additional parking spaces and improve accessibility for people visiting and living in the area.

Council first resolved to proceed with the project in November 2018 after an extensive community consultation process.

The local community will be able to comment on the proposed development when the planning permit application is advertised.

Media Release: 21 July 2020

6,000 street trees will be planted in nature strips across Darebin over the next 18 months, transforming neighbourhoods and providing countless environmental and health benefits.

6,000 street trees will be planted in nature strips across Darebin over the next 18 months, transforming neighbourhoods and providing countless environmental and health benefits.

Part of Breathing Space: Darebin’s Open Space Strategy, the Rapid Canopy Project will run from July 2020 until October 2021 and plant a variety of different species, prioritising suitable native options.

The 6,000 additional trees will be a 10 per cent increase on the number of street trees in Darebin, the equivalent of almost 5 years of planting programs.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said trees played an essential role in a happy and healthy neighbourhood.

“Trees are an investment in the future vitality of our neighbourhoods. These trees will improve amenity, shade our parks, and provide a habitat for native fauna,” she said.

“The increase in canopy will also help us respond to the Climate Emergency. As well as purifying our air and absorbing CO2, these trees will keep our streets cooler during summer and drier during winter.”

All newly planted trees will be matched with existing plants in their streets. For those without an obvious theme, a suitable native option will be chosen.

Darebin Parks have undertaken extensive auditing to identify locations capable of sustaining additional trees, while ensuring road safety and infrastructure won’t be affected.

All new trees will be cared for with an establishment program lasting two years, which includes regular watering, staking, mulching and formative pruning.

Residents receiving a new tree in their street will be notified in writing before any works begin.

The program will make a significant improvement to Darebin’s canopy coverage and will help ensure the sustainability of our urban streetscapes into the future.

The group of mayors is calling on the Federal government to extend the commendable programs it has in place to those who are struggling.

Media Release: 13 July 2020

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie has joined a coalition of leaders around the country in calling for the Federal Government to extend crucial support to people seeking asylum affected by COVID-19.

The open letter, which has 38 signatories, outlines key concerns for people seeking asylum who have lost work as a result of coronavirus and remain ineligible for income support programs and, in some cases, Medicare.

The Nobody Left Behind campaign is an initiative from the Refugee Council of Australia.

Mayor Rennie said Darebin Council was proud to be a Refugee Welcome Zone and a member of the Welcoming Cities Network.

“Everyone has the right to seek a safe place to call home,” Mayor Rennie said.

“These people are some of the most vulnerable in our community, and we should be doing everything we can to support them through an incredibly difficult time.”

Many areas in the open letter are home to large populations of people seeking asylum and local governments are seeing the full impact of the lack of support being offered by the Federal Government.

The open letter comes after a coalition of educators called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston to extend the JobSeeker scheme to people seeking asylum over concerns of their students becoming destitute.

Many local councils are concerned about the growing demand for emergency relief in their communities and are particularly concerned about what will happen when the eviction moratorium is lifted in September.

The group of mayors is calling on the Federal government to extend the commendable programs it has in place to those who are struggling.

For more information visit the RCOA website
Media release: 6 July 2020

The Darebin Mayor’s Writing Awards for Young People was launched today and is seeking submissions from creative young minds across Darebin. The new Awards program celebrates creative writing of primary and secondary aged school aged students living and/or studying in the City of Darebin.

“The Darebin community is an extremely creative one, so I look forward to seeing what the wonderful students of Darebin come up with!”
“The judges are all local writers who have been specially selected for their expertise in writing for children and young people. They include Judith Rossell, Nicki Greenberg, Thai Snaith and Michael Pryor.
“This is a new initiative, developed with funding from the Darebin City Council’s $11.3 million Community and Local Business Resilience and Recovery Package, aims to support artists and the development of creativity and arts in Darebin,” said Mayor Rennie.
Primary and secondary school aged writers are invited to apply. All types of writing including poetry, short story, fiction, fantasy, Sci-Fi can be submitted. There is a 1200-word limit and only one entry is permitted per person. 
There are many prizes to be won including $500 and $250 cash prizes for both primary and secondary school student categories and book vouchers.
Entries close 30 June 2020.
Winners will be announced on on 27 July 2020.
For information and to download the online submission form go to or for enquiries email 
Media release: 3 June 2020

The State Government has announced it will contribute $400,000 for Darebin to construct the Oakover Pocket Park in Preston.

The pocket park will be located on the now-closed slip lane on the corner of Oakover Road and High Street. Its construction will help revitalise the Preston Junction precinct by creating a new pocket park in an area of Darebin that has been identified in lacking open space for residents.

Creating the new pocket park was a key project in the Junction Urban Master Plan which was endorsed by Council in 2014.

A trial of the pocket park was temporarily tested in 2016. Community feedback on the idea showed over two-thirds of submissions supported the permanent closure of the slip lane to create a new public open space.

Last year, Council began works to revitalise the site which included widening the footpath, planting six new trees and installing a drinking fountain.

On Sunday 24 May 2020, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) announced the Oakover Pocket Park was one of 24 new parks across Melbourne to receive funding through the Suburban Parks Program.

This funding will be used to finalise the pocket park which includes four new custom seats, nine new trees, a bike repair station, bike parking, bins, and new garden beds which will use stormwater runoff.

“Council is very thankful to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning for their significant contribution towards the Oakover Pocket Park project. This will help revitalise an area of Preston that lacks open space for the community to enjoy,” Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2021.

Media release: 27 May 2020

On Monday 18 May 2020, the Darebin City Council resolved to call on the VPA and Minister for Planning to put in place the strongest possible protections to ensure the Preston Market retains what the community loves about it despite any potential future change to the site. Since then, a number of false claims and misinformation have circulated online and created considerable confusion in the community about what Council is doing to protect the much-loved market. Disturbingly, some of the claims being spread include the false claim that Council voted to demolish the market. This is blatantly untrue.

This statement seeks to call out these false claims and set the record straight to ensure the community has an accurate, clear and credible source of information.
At the 18 May Council Meeting, the Council resolved to call on the state government to apply a permanent Heritage Overlay to the Preston Market as part of the package of planning controls and mechanisms it is working on for the entire Preston Market Precinct, and called on the Minister for Planning to put in place an immediate Interim Heritage Overlay whilst these controls are being developed.
Currently the state government is reviewing the planning ‘rules’ at the site, and Council is advocating hard for strong rules that protect what’s important about the market. These rules are important because they are the rules that will apply if the private owner wants to change or develop the site.
Darebin Council urges concerned community members to not believe the claims about the market being demolished. Instead, Darebin Council strongly urges people to read the Minutes from the meeting (due to be uploaded today) or watch the Council Meeting debate that was livestreamed. Council will also prepare a myth-busting page on its website.
Darebin Council loves the Preston Market and is determined to ensure it thrives well into the future. 
It is important to note the Preston Market is owned and run privately – just like supermarkets are. Many people are surprised by this, and while Council loves the market and wants to protect it, it doesn’t have the power to just do this. That is why Council is calling on the VPA (the planning authority for the site) to apply the strongest possible protections to the market precinct.
The only role of Darebin City Council is to represent the views of the community and to advocate on their behalf to ensure the market is protected. Council has invested a considerable sum of money to obtain numerous independent studies and reports over many years to ensure we can provide a comprehensive, evidence-based case to the state government and the VPA as to why the market must be protected, should the owner wish to develop the site.
Council’s requests of the VPA relating to the future of the Preston Market have been outlined in the Heart of Preston document. This document sets out Council’s vision as to how the market, its collection of diverse traders, and open and airy feel can not only be protected into the future, but be allowed to thrive.

Media statement: 21 May 2020


Darebin City Council has again called on the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne MP, and the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) to protect the future of Preston Market.

Last night, Council resolved to call on the VPA and Minister for Planning to put in place the strongest possible protections to ensure the market retains what the community loves about it through any future change.

Council’s recent heritage study concluded that parts of the market buildings have heritage significance, and that these should be protected by a heritage overlay that would have to be considered in any future development. A range of other protections should be put in place to ensure a good outcome for existing traders, a commitment to use the site as a market and broader community benefits from the surrounding precinct

Council has heard from hundreds of community members about what they most love about Preston Market and has commissioned multiple studies from experts on matters such as identity, urban design and heritage and now has a full picture of what should be considered to protect the market as planning controls are drafted by the VPA to guide future works that may be undertaken by the landowner.

“Council believes a package of protections will be needed to protect the market, including a heritage overlay to protect aspects of the fabric of the market building, a voluntary agreement to protect the market use and support the existing traders, and steps to ensure the surrounding precinct delivers open space and affordable housing,” said Mayor Susan Rennie.

In October last year, Council called on the Minister for Planning to put an interim heritage overlay in place, but he has not yet done this. Council also called on the VPA to consider permanent heritage controls. “We understand that they are now doing more work to understand the market’s heritage significance,” said Mayor Susan Rennie.

Although Council is not the site owner, or the authority responsible for approving any redevelopment application, Council has consistently called on the site owner and State Government to prioritise the interests of the traders, community and future users of Preston Market.

“Preston Market is extremely important to our community, and it’s critical that, during the VPA’s drafting of the planning controls and the owners’ redevelopment, the Market keeps its special character intact and thrives for future generations to enjoy,” said Mayor Rennie.

Media release: 19 May 2020

Mayer Park in Thornbury is one of the great open spaces of the City of Darebin, and Council has been working with the local community to look at ways the park could be improved for the future.

The draft Future Mayer Park master plan has been released for community consultation, and Council is keen to hear feedback from residents on the plan. The master plan sets out a vision for Mayer Park, identifies elements of the park that require improvements, and provides clear actions to guide the implementation of these improvements in future years.

The master plan has been created with the help of a Project Control Group made up of dedicated community members who, over the past 18 months, have been instrumental in providing local input on the future of the park.

Some of the key projects in the Future Mayer Park draft master plan include:

  • Doubling the existing tree canopy cover with increased planting of indigenous and native vegetation.
  • Retaining open spaces for formal sport and informal activities like walking and dog walking.
  • Building a new playground for all age groups to complement the existing outdoor gym.
  • Providing a new picnic shelter and BBQ area.
  • Improving existing footpaths and access to and through the park.
  • Improving amenities and facilities such as park seats and wheelchair accessible picnic tables
  • Enhancing the safety around the existing park boundary adjacent to nearby roads through tree and shrub planting and fencing upgrades where appropriate.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said the draft master plan covered many improvements.

“Thank you to everyone that has provided feedback on the project over the past 18 months to help us get to this exciting stage where we can finally share the draft Future Mayer Park Master Plan,” Mayor Rennie said.

“The draft master plan sets out dozens of ways Mayer Park would be improved in the future. This includes increasing habitat and biodiversity links, and new park facilities like a playground and BBQ area for everyone to enjoy, all while keeping the great grassy open space that already exists.”

Community feedback on the draft masterplan closes on June 8.

To read the draft Future Mayer Park Master Plan, please visit

Media release: 18 May 2020

The draft Darebin 2020-2021 Budget has been released for community feedback and submissions. The proposed Budget was endorsed at a Special Council Meeting on 13 May, and aligns with the vision set out in the Darebin Council Plan 2017-2021, while also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in a meaningful, practical, and tangible way.

The draft Budget has been prepared with the community front of mind. In particular, the draft Budget provides funds for Council’s $11.3 million COVID-19 Community and Business Resilience and Recovery Package. This support package includes numerous initiatives to help the most vulnerable members of our community, while also assisting businesses adapt to the changed economic conditions. This includes emergency meal provision, business recovery grants, suspended and refunded fees, and support for arts organisations and creative industries.

However Council has also been hit hard by COVID-19 effects, and has forecast a $18 million revenue reduction during the next financial year. In order to continue providing the more than 100 different community services and programs, Council will be asking for, on average, an additional $1 per week from ratepayers in the coming financial year.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said ratepayers who are in financial difficulty are urged to contact Council to take advantage of Darebin’s COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy, which will allow them to defer rate payments to June next year with no interest. Council is aware of only two other local councils in Victoria giving ratepayers this option.

“The draft budget has been designed to look after our community who are doing it tough at the moment. I’m proud that Darebin is able to offer the $11.3 million Community and Business Resilience and Recovery Package - one of the largest community and business support packages in the state – to provide relief to those that need it.”

The draft Budget also sets out how Council will continue to provide more than 100 different community services in the next financial year. This includes nearly 22,200 immunisations, approximately 130,000 hours of aged care assistance (including over 25,000 meals for those in need), collection of 5.5 million bins, planting for more than 6000 trees and 3800 indigenous plants, as well as maintenance and upgrades of more than 8000 square kilometres of footpaths, more than 30 kilometres of bike paths, and more than 60 sporting fields and ovals.”

The draft Budget also funds a capital works program of $34 million. This includes works on projects such as the Multi-Sports Stadium at John Cain Memorial Park (which will deliver four indoor and four outdoor courts), the detailed design stage of the Northcote Aquatic Recreation Centre, an upgrade of the plant room and replacement of pool hall columns at the Reservoir Leisure Centre and a $1 million Solar Saver Program focusing on lower income households.

The draft Darebin 2020-2021 Budget can be read on Council’s website. Submissions to the Budget can be made until June 15, and there will be a public “Hearing of submissions” on June 25.

Media release: 15 May 2020

More than $500,000 in grants are available for local businesses in the City of Darebin to provide immediate financial relief, while supporting their resilience against the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Darebin’s Business Recovery Grants Program has  been launched, with funding available in four different streams. Businesses can apply for:

  • Individual Business grant
    Up to $5,000 for investing in online development, e-commerce, upskilling, or business adaptation activities to build resilience during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Collective Business grant
    Up to $10,000 for a collective of businesses to fund new or existing initiatives which directly support or promote the strength and vibrancy of Darebin’s business community, economy and local jobs market.

  • Social Enterprise grant
    Up to $2,000 for social enterprises looking to strengthen their businesses, whilst supporting Darebin’s key priority community groups or projects.

  • Placemaking activities grant
    Up to $2,000 for activities to be delivered in Darebin, either online or on the streets, to create connection and bring vibrancy to public space.


Up to $50,000 of these grants are for individuals or businesses that identify as being part of Darebin’s creative or cultural industries.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said the grants would help businesses invest in online development and other ways they could adapt and innovate to the current COVID-19 restrictions.

“We know there are many businesses struggling with the economic impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. These grants are designed to complement the existing financial supports available from other levels of government, while providing funds to help businesses adapt and upskill where possible,” Mayor Rennie said.

The Business Recovery Grants have been made available through Darebin Council’s COVID-19 Community and Business Resilience and Recovery Package. The $11.3 million package prioritises assisting people who are already experiencing disadvantage or who are in a state of vulnerability, while also providing immediate and ongoing support to our local businesses.

 The first round of grants will open on Friday 15 May at 9am 2020 and close on Sunday 31st May 2020 at 11.00pm.

Applications can be lodged online at

More information including Information Booklet and FAQs can be found here

Media release: 15 May 2020

Darebin is proud to announce Isabella Battersby as the winner of the 2020 Mayor’s Writing Awards. The panel of expert judges, made up of Sian Prior, Susan Johnston and Adolfo Aranjuez, awarded Ms Battersby the $2000 prize for her distinctive piece 'Bird'.

The judges noted they were drawn into this story by the simple use of the recipe to tell a compelling story of troubled family life.

“The story was dark and punchy, full of pathos, with superb pace and voice, a refreshing take on mothering,” according the panel.

The second prize of $1000 was awarded to Jasmine Anoushian for You Could Be Here to see the World Change. This careful account of loss uses rhythm and repetition to capture a life in free fall.

Two pieces also received $500 highly commended prizes – In the Walls by Bradley David and Lens Cap of History by Rowan Williams.

This year’s theme was Change, with more than 175 entries received incorporating the theme into short stories, poems, song lyrics and non-fiction with 1200 words or less.

“It was great to receive so many fantastic entries in the is year’s competition,” Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said.

“I wish to congratulate Isabella Battersby on her outstanding piece and to celebrate all the writers who entered this year. As we emerge from the lockdown, the arts, ideas and creativity will keep us connected and present for one another. We are very fortunate in  Darebin to have so many talented writers offering new ways to look at life and the difficult and sometimes crazy times we are living through.”

The winning works can be read in n-SCRIBE 15, Darebin’s own journal for writers who live, work or study in the City of Darebin.  Additionally, selected works will be available online at

Darebin Council will soon announce the details of the Mayor’s Writing Awards for Young People, with categories for primary and secondary school students with cash and book voucher prizes. Details will be announced soon at

Media release: 15 May 2020

Darebin Council is proud to announce the inaugural recipients of the FUSE Fund arts grants program. The FUSE Fund aims to support local artists and organisations present high-quality arts projects and events as part of Darebin’s brand-new multi-arts festival FUSE, held in Autumn and Spring each year.

Seven exciting projects were successful and received their full funding request, totalling $50,000, providing work to around 60 artists and much needed creative connection for our community in the coming months. Council had received 35 high quality applications for funding.

Mayor Susan Rennie said the City of Darebin has a vibrant creative community and is the home and workplace to a large community of artists, and that Council values the role they play in our community’s wellbeing.

“We wanted to support the artists and contractors in our community during this difficult period. Darebin City Council has a strong arts focus and sees the arts as essential to increasing community wellbeing and contributing to broader cultural expression,” Mayor Rennie said.

“We are thrilled to be able to support such wonderful projects through the FUSE Fund. Darebin is full of talented artists, and this is an example of the quality. The projects reflect the diversity and creativity of our community, with performances and events designed for or by intergeneration engagement, LGBTQIA communities, Aboriginal artists and families, and the broader population.”

The seven grant recipients will have their work showcased at this year’s FUSE Spring festival and next year’s FUSE Autumn festival programs.

Dan Goronszy, whose project Hearts in Isolation was approved for funding, said she was thrilled with the outcome.

“We are so excited to have this opportunity to virtually meet people from across our communities and bring together the wonderful diversity of our community for FUSE,” Ms Goronszy said.

“We feel lucky to be here in Darebin, the council have a strong history of supporting the arts, and we're are thrilled they are continuing to nourish their artists and communities at this time of uncertainty.”

While this year’s inaugural FUSE Autumn festival was cancelled soon after launching due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, Council took the position to still honour 100 per cent of its financial commitments with artists and contractors who had been engaged for the festival.

Additionally, Council honoured all box office payments to artists for cancelled performances at its arts venues, while also refunding 100 per cent of ticket sales for shows that did not proceed so that neither artists nor audiences would suffer financially.

These decisions were made in line with Darebin Council’s advocacy for valuing artists and creative practitioners, and the role they play in community wellbeing. 

FUSE Fund Grant Recipients

For FUSE Spring 2020:

Speak Percussion (Thornbury): Before Nightfall at Bundoora Homestead (Thornbury)
A series of new artistic encounters between Speak Percussion and invited guest artists. Each collaboration takes place across the course of one day, culminating in a free, intimate, live performance. Speak Percussion will partner with Bundoora Homestead to present a site-specific performance inspired by works in the Darebin Art Collection and in collaboration with a visual artist.

Dan Goronszy (Reservoir): Hearts in Isolation; A Map
A multiplatform, participatory mapping project, asking Darebin residents to create and submit an artistic map representing items in their home that hold their heart afloat while in isolation. This poetic project allows us to share our hearts space in isolation with others via an online gallery.

Diego Ramirez (Thornbury): Stray Dogs
An online reading featuring 5 writers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. These writers will produce a text reflecting on art in times of pandemia from an alternative perspective and deliver a virtual reading across media platforms. The texts will range from reviews, opinion pieces, autobiographical and fictocriticism.

Mark Pritchard (Northcote): Playwrights Bake Off
A two-day rapid playwriting challenge, challenging ten playwrights to each write an entire play overnight in response to a set of ingredients, and then share them with one another. The workshop focuses on creative inspiration skills development to build confidence and community between the cohort of writers.

For FUSE Autumn 2021:

Katie Eagles (Thornbury): Infinite Thanks
A collaborative LGBTQIA art project involving a growing collection of small ‘gratitude’ paintings, exhibited in a bespoke ‘chapel’ covered with Kaff-eine’s vibrant characters. It honours LGBTQIA saints and heroes and invites people to share stories of LGBTQIA gratitude by creating paintings or writing directly on the chapel characters, allowing insight into the private lives of the LGBTQIA community.

Northlands Campaign Community Aboriginal Reference Group (Preston): A Fight for Survival – Northland Gathering - Healing, Hope & Future
A creative project about Aboriginal people telling their own story and sharing this in a creative and cultural way, involving grassroots Aboriginal people’s intelligence, knowledge, strength and challenges. This collective story about Aboriginal identity, resilience and celebration supported by strong allies is an exhibition on Healing, Hope & Future.

Dominic Weintraub (Northcote): Anything You Can Do
A community-led performance work. Older members of our community will graciously teach a skill to a young member of our community. The student must perfect the skill, learn from their master's mistakes and challenge them in a dojo of theatrical proportion - a community council venue.

Media release: 1 May 2020

Darebin City Council has expressed concern at the move to single-member wards for the Council elections due in October this year. The Local Government Minister’s preference for single-member wards goes against the recommendations of the VEC (Victorian Electoral Commission) and the community’s wishes. It is a retrograde step for democracy and the representation of women and diverse communities in Darebin.

In order to respond to the Minister’s preference for single-member wards for the upcoming election cycle, the VEC will need to undertake deep and significant community consultation at a time of social distancing. Darebin will write to the VEC and ask how the community will be able to participate in this process during the coming period.

In 2019, the VEC undertook a review of the representation structure in Darebin which included significant community consultation. Councils are obligated by the State Government to pay for the VEC to undertake such a review every 12 years. The review cost ratepayers $48,000.

Feedback obtained by the VEC from a diverse range of local Darebin stakeholders universally supported the multi-member ward structure. As a result, the review reaffirmed the community’s preference for multi-member wards and recommended only minor changes to ward boundaries to ensure similar number of electors in each ward.

The long-term trend in Victoria has been away from single-member wards and towards multi-member wards since the turn of the century. Multi-member wards, where several Councillors are selected to represent the local area, are more democratic, have seen greater representation of women and candidates from diverse communities. Six of the nine current Darebin Councillors are women.

If the Minister is determined to proceed with single-member wards against the advice of the VEC and the wishes of the Darebin community, it would be wise if he listened to feedback from the local government sector about the benefits of deferring the council elections until 2021.

Councils pay the VEC to conduct elections, and Darebin has budgeted around $700,000 for the elections in 2020. That money could be better spent if it were diverted towards the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Council has already committed $11.3m towards supporting residents and businesses through COVID-19.

Such a delay would also enable the VEC to properly undertake the work and consultation required to form single member wards.

“Imposing this change, at this time, is counter-productive and will confuse many members of the community who participated in the VEC process in good faith that the consultation was genuine,” Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said.

“The Minister should listen to the Darebin community and retain the existing ward structure and multiple members for each ward.”

Media release: 24 April 2020

Darebin City Council staff who have had their hours impacted due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic are being redeployed to help plant 30,000 trees, plants and grasses to rewild parts of Darebin.

The rewilding program is part of Breathing Space: Darebin’s Open Space Strategy which was endorsed last year. A key part of the open space strategy involves rewilding Darebin’s parks and gardens to improve biodiversity by increasing both the quantity and quality of multi-layered indigenous vegetation.

Darebin’s Parks and Open Space department has put together a comprehensive redeployment program to keep impacted staff (such as those in in our leisure, libraries and arts teams) engaged, active and employed.

Starting this week, more than 35 impacted staff have begun to rewild parts of Bundoora Park. This will include large scale plantings of indigenous trees, grasses and ground cover. Others will assist in hand weeding, mulching and litter removal.

Reservoir Leisure Centre lifeguard Abdisamad Mohammad said he was taking the redeployment in his stride.

“I’d love to be doing this a couple of days each week for as long as need be. What more could you ask for than to be outside with people in such a beautiful spot, even if we are still keeping a distance from each other,” Mr Mohammad said.

Darebin Libraries senior customer service officer Damian Stephens has also been redeployed to rewild Darebin.

“It’s been a bit of an adaption, to be honest, going from a full-time role, but being out here is fantastic. I’m having a ball being active and getting dirty. That said, I’m looking forward to libraries re-opening when it’s safe - they’re great environments for looking after people,” Mr Stephens said.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said she was delighted to see staff impacted by services closures being redeployed to other projects across Council.

“This massive project has been able to be brought forward thanks to the additional staff who have put their hand up to help our Parks and Open Space team,” Mayor Rennie said.

“Even though Darebin, like the rest of the country, has been impacted by the knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re still committed to getting on with the job by maintaining essential services to our community and working towards our Council goal of increasing the amount of tree canopy and urban forest in Darebin.”

Impacted staff have also been redeployed to assist other Council areas to deliver necessary programs, such as the rollout of Darebin’s $10 million COVID-19 Community and Business Resilience and Recovery Package. Others are assisting other teams improve Council’s practices around assets and audits, administration practices like digitatisation and record keeping.

Media release: 22 April 2020

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is having a substantial impact on the social and economic health of our city, and particularly those who are already the most vulnerable members of our community. To help those impacted, Darebin Council has announced a substantial recovery package worth approximately $10 million to provide relief to local businesses, community organisations and community members amid the ongoing pandemic.

At a Special Council Meeting on Friday 27 March, Darebin Council agreed to implement a COVID-19 Community and Local Business Resilience and Recovery Package. The package prioritises assisting people already experiencing disadvantage or who have heightened vulnerability, while also providing immediate and ongoing support to our local businesses. Council has also developed a COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy, which will provide financial relief to individuals and businesses who need assistance.

“This pandemic is affecting communities right around the world, including Darebin. We’re all in this together. Council will help our residents, ratepayers and businesses as much as we can,” Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said.

“We’ve put together a Darebin City Council Community and Business Resilience and Recovery Package worth close to $10 million to provide immediate to longer term relief and recovery initiatives. It focuses on the most vulnerable in our community and areas of emerging vulnerability, including those at risk of experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, and people from diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal community members and older people living alone without support.”

“The package also addresses both short and long term needs of local micro, small and medium businesses, providing significant new support and resources, waiving fees and providing guidance, counselling and training. It will also focus on community building initiatives and providing support to those involved in the struggling arts and culture sector,” Mayor Rennie said.

As part of the plan, Council will provide short term funding to support local family violence, elder abuse and homelessness services in Darebin and will also redeploy staff to help those organisations respond to the increased demand. Council will also provide funding to existing emergency relief services and increase their capacity to respond to a growing client base, providing food vouchers, essential supply hampers and local pre-made meals.

A Local Business Taskforce made up of local business leaders will be set up to define and deliver business programs designed to build resilience, with dedicated resources and support from Council to make this happen. Council will also set up a dedicated Business Support Line to assist impacted businesses and waive multiple fees and charges to provide immediate financial relief.

The relief and recovery package will deliver a range of additional small and medium scale grants to support community groups, sports clubs, and creative organisations to deliver initiatives which support recovery efforts and improving wellbeing. Council will make a donation to the Inner North Community COVID-19 Fund. The fund will support emergency relief vouchers for families to buy essentials from local traders, rapid response grants for charities, pathways to employment projects that support people in our community impacted by COVID-19.

These are just some of the programs outlined in the COVID-19 Community and Local Business Resilience and Recovery Package. For more information on the announcements, click here.

Media release: 28 March 2020

Calling all authors, poets and writers! Do you have a way with words? Maybe a penchant for the pen? If so, the City of Darebin is looking for you. Entries are now open for Darebin’s annual Mayor’s Writing Awards.

The creative competition is now in it’s sixth year, and is open to adults who live, work or study in the City of Darebin. The awards celebrate local writers and the stories that make up our community.

The awards are open to all types of writing, from short story, poetry, memoir, fiction and non-fiction. The winner will take home a $2000 prize, while two other highly commended works will receive a $500 prize.

Each of the winners will be invited to have their work published in n-SCRIBE 15.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said there was a strict word limit of 1200 words per entry, and each must make some reference to this year’s theme - change.

“This year’s theme of change is broad enough that it can be interpreted in many ways,” Mayor Rennie said.

“Darebin is home to many creative-types, so I look forward to seeing how each writer is able to weave the theme into their story. I hope all local writers, whether they are professional, hobbyists, or those writing their first story, enter the awards.”

This year’s Darebin Mayor’s Writing Awards will be judged by Adolfo Aranjuez (freelance writer and editor-in-chief of Archer magazine), Susan Johnston (celebrated manuscript writer and community worker), and Sian Prior (novelist, ABC Radio presenter and The Age columnist).

Entries close at 6pm on 1 April. To enter you must be over 18 years old.

For more information, please visit

Media release: 6 March 2020

Funding is now available for not-for-profit community groups and organisations through the City of Darebin’s extensive community grants program for 2020/21. Applications are now open for several different grant streams.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said the annual grants program helped fund projects that aligned with Council’s goals by making Darebin a greener, bolder and a more connected city.

“We are committed to working with community groups and organisations to meet the needs and interests of residents and to make our city a great, safe and exciting place to live for everybody,” Mayor Rennie said.

“Funding supports projects and activities across a wide range of settings, including arts and culture, sport and recreation, community wellbeing, equity and inclusion, human rights, education, climate change and environmental sustainability.”

Community groups are encouraged to apply for the following Council grants programs:

  • Small Grants Program (up to $3,000)
  • Medium Grants Program (up to $15,000)
  • Venue Hire Support Grants Program (up to $8,000 for events at nominated Council venues)

The closing date for these applications is Monday 20 April 2020 at 11.59pm.

As grant applications can only be submitted online, support is available to eligible applicants who do not have access to a computer or internet.

Applicants from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds can request information on the grants program in community languages or book an interpreter for the information sessions through the City of Darebin’s Multilingual Telephone Line on 8470 8470.

To assist community groups with their applications, the following two information sessions will be held:

Session One
Date: Thursday 19 March 2020                                    
Time: 10.00am – 12.00pm                                              
Location: Council Chamber, 350 High St, Preston       

Session Two
Date: Thursday 26 March
Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: Shire Hall, 286 Gower Street, Preston


Other City of Darebin grants programs which are available now are:

  • Youth Grants Program (up to $5,000)
  • Minor Sports Clubs Facility Improvements (up to $10,000)
  • Sport Participation Grants (up to $500)

More information: For more information, including step-by-step instructions on how to access, fill out and submit the online application forms, please visit


Media release: 6 March 2020

Each year on 8 March individuals, communities, organisations and governments around the world commemorate International Women’s Day. This day exists to celebrate the social, cultural and political achievements of women and to raise awareness and take action against gender-based discrimination and violence.

Darebin Council celebrates International Women’s Day with special events and activities which take place throughout the municipality during the month of March, beginning with the annual Molly Hadfield Social Justice Oration.

Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said the Molly Hadfield Social Justice Oration is an important event for the community.

“This free event is a tribute to respected Darebin resident Molly Hadfield OAM, who worked tirelessly to advance the rights of women and seniors. International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the many achievements of women, but also to recognise that the fight for equality is still ongoing,” Mayor Rennie said.

This year’s Molly Hadfield Social Justice Oration will be delivered by keynote speaker Roj Amedi. Ms Amedi is a writer, strategist and human rights advocate passionate about design, contemporary art, and access to justice. Since migrating to Australia as an Iraqi-Kurdish refugee, Roj has campaigned for refugee, migrant, and LGBTIQ+ rights.

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that we need communities of breadth and depth, as well as the ability to create an ecosystem that supports a life-long commitment to social justice,” Ms Amedi said.

“I’m passionate about what we can achieve when we hold ourselves accountable to a more representative community. Social justice is realised when we integrate the contributions of diverse people in civil society, academia, grass roots movements, arts, music and culture.”

The event will be hosted by Djed Press founder and editor Hella Ibrahim.  It will also include performances from young sing-songwriter Mia Jeffers and para dance sport group Dance & Roll.

When: Thursday, 5 March, 6:30pm
Where: Darebin Arts Centre
Book your spot:

Darebin will continue to celebrate International Women’s Day throughout March. Other events include an exhibition showing the strength, bravery and professionalism of women in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade; a talk from author Loretta Smith about Alice Anderson, a motoring pioneer who established Australia’s first motor service run entirely by women; a Women on Wheels course designed to enable women to feel more confident while cycling; and participation in the This Girl Can campaign which hopes to inspire more women to get active.

For more information on these events please visit

Media release: 27 February 2020

Darebin Council is urging the State Government to protect Melbourne’s water supply by announcing an immediate end to all logging in catchment areas, and will write to all Upper and Lower House MPs, as well as all other metropolitan councils, to ask for their support.

The deadly summer of bushfires has highlighted the urgent need to protect Victoria’s water catchments. Darebin Councillors unanimously passed a Notice of Motion from Cr Trent McCarthy calling on the Premier and State Government to act at its first Council Meeting of 2020, held on 3 February.

While the bushfires continue and communities remain on alert in much of the country, logging has continued in Central Highlands Victoria, with more logging planned in coming months. It’s been proven that logged forests in their regeneration stage are more likely to burn at a higher severity, and should a fire burn through one of the forests in Melbourne’s water supply catchment, Melbourne residents would be severely impacted through compromised water quality, quantity and cost. Bushfire smoke from those fires would also likely put residents at further risk of cardiac and respiratory illnesses.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said an immediate ban on logging in water catchment areas would provide immediate protection for threatened species, safeguard Melbourne’s water supply and reduce fire risk.

“This would ensure habitat for the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum, Greater Glider and other threatened species would be protected, the chance of bushfires would be reduced, and Melbourne’s water supply would be kept clean,” Mayor Rennie said.

“Darebin Council has welcomed the recent State Government announcement to phase out native forest logging by 2030, and the recent interim injunction against logging of threatened species habitat in the Central highlands. However given the catastrophic impact of recent fires on threatened species we call on the State Government to implement an immediate moratorium on all native forest logging to assess the biodiversity impacts.”

In the letter addressed to the Premier and sent to all Upper and Lower House MPs, Council has called for an immediate end to logging in Melbourne’s water supply catchments with a view to mitigating these risks, and a moratorium on all other native forest logging, including salvage logging operations in burnt forests, until the biodiversity impacts of this season’s catastrophic fires have been assessed.

Council has also called for the development of an additional regional public sector jobs transition plan for forestry workers to retrain and be employed in emergency services, paid firefighting roles and other roles within the state government’s land management workforce, in addition to the already announced $120 million forestry plantation transition package.

Media release: 6 February 2020

Latest pokies data has shown a noticeable decrease in the money being spent on pokies in Darebin in the second half of last year.

Data from the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation shows for the six months between 1 July and 31 December 2019 there was a $2.6 million decrease in the amount of money lost on electronic gaming machines (EGMs) in Darebin than over the same period the previous year. This was the largest decrease out of all Victorian local government areas.

In total community members lost $40,358,145 on Darebin’s 754 EGMs in the last six months of 2019, down from $43,009,644 from 1 July to 31 December 2018.

In the month of December 2019, Darebin recorded a 10 per cent decrease in poker machine losses ($718,932 less) when compared to December 2018. This was also the biggest decrease in Victoria during that time.

In December the largest decreases in December were recorded at Summerhill Hotel (which recorded losses $736,933 less than it did in December 2018), Edwardes Lake Hotel ($557,826 less), and Preston Hotel ($425,396 less).

Mayor Susan Rennie said while the decrease in losses was a positive step, it was still a “drop in the ocean”.

“Insidious poker machines still ripped more than $40 million from Darebin residents in the second half of 2019, and more than $80 million in total last year. This is an unacceptable amount,” Mayor Rennie said.

“We know poker machines are designed to be addictive and gambling industry operators target lower income communities. The money being lost is being ripped from the people and families who need it the most.”

Harm from gambling isn’t just about losing money. Gambling can affect self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, work performance and social life. It harms not only the person who gambles but also family, friends, workplaces and communities.

Darebin is committed to reducing the harm caused by EGMs and adopted its Electronic Gaming Machine Policy 2018-2022 in December 2018 which at the time was heralded as “Australia’s strongest gambling reform policy” by the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

Media release: 6 February 2020

The popular entrepreneur competition, Darebin Pitch It, is back for another year and is on the lookout for innovative ideas that will make our community a greener and more connected city. This year’s competition is calling for nominations in two categories – sustainability and social impact.

Darebin Pitch It gives anyone from the community, including local students, graduates, entrepreneurs and businesses, the opportunity to turn their innovative start-up ideas into a reality, with the winners sharing in more than $50,000 worth of prizes.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said Pitch It was a huge opportunity for people to get their ideas off the ground.

“Last year’s winner was Gecko Traxx, an innovative wheel design to allow wheelchair users to easily navigate bumpier terrains like sand and rocks. Ideas like this can make a real difference to people’s lives and to our local community in Darebin, and that’s what we’re looking for in Pitch It,” Mayor Rennie said.

Council’s two categories this year are sustainability and social impact. This could include ideas that address the climate emergency by using renewable energy or reducing carbon dioxide, encouraging the circular economy by creating new products from waste, or providing sustainable alternatives. Social impact ideas could address equity, diversity or inclusion issues, or focus on the health and wellbeing of the community.

“Overall, we want to understand there is a clear market for your business idea, that it is has a distinct approach and that it streamlines, improves or enhances the market in which it intends to operate,” Mayor Rennie said.

“Pitch It provides a small group of shortlisted entrepreneurs the chance to go through an inspiring and rewarding Accelerator program, and receive start-up prize money of $20,000. If you or someone you know has great idea, we want to know about it.”

Individuals or teams must live, work or study in Darebin to be eligible. Nominations are now open and close on March 11.


Media release: 6 February 2020

Darebin’s new biannual, multi-arts festival FUSE is set to transform Darebin into a dynamic hub of creativity, with 150 events taking place from 13 – 29 March. Every Autumn and Spring, FUSE will bring artists, communities and audiences to the streets, parks, venues, theatres, galleries and public spaces of Darebin to immerse themselves in art, culture and creativity of all forms.

Welcoming all ages, genders, ethnicities, sexualities and abilities, FUSE will encompass a huge range of art forms, including fashion, visual arts exhibitions, film, performance, dance, music, craft, public art, literature, food and wine, cultural events, as well as a range of participatory workshops and artist talks.

Bringing Darebin into an exciting new decade, FUSE will unite the previous festival offerings of the Darebin Community & Kite Festival, Darebin Homemade Food & Wine Festival and Darebin Music Feast.

“We are really excited by the community’s response to this new model of festival programming in Darebin,” said City of Darebin’s Festivals and Events Coordinator, Simon Clarke.

“We have received and registered more than 150 events for FUSE Autumn, and we are reaching into corners of Darebin we haven’t been able to access through previous festivals. This means greater accessibility for a greater number of Darebin residents and artists, and we look forward to seeing everyone there.”

Festival-goers will be able to gather in the heart of Preston on the lands of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung for the FUSE Opening Party and launch of major projection project, Tapestry on Friday 13 March from 7pm – 11pm at Preston Library. A Call to Country will kick-off celebrations, and as darkness descends new projection works from local Aboriginal artists will come alive alongside live sound, performance and food trucks.

Tapestry shares stories of culture, identity, politics and self-expression, invoking a strong and unapologetic reminder that, despite Eurocentric urbanisation, this is and always will be Aboriginal land. Festival-goers are invited to freely engage with contemporary Aboriginal art and question and reflect on this country’s narrative.

Children and their adults will delight in a day of family fun with art and craft workshops, circus, kite flying, a very strange garden and a field of talking see-saws with Keon Spark on Sunday 22 March at 11am – 4pm taking place at Keon Park Children’s Hub in Reservoir.

Local designers, crafters and art-makers curated by Kelli Vizzari (Make It Collective) will bring unique fashion, jewellery and homewares to Civic Square, Northcote Town Hall with the FUSE Design Market on Saturday 28 March at 12pm – 9pm. Individuals will be inspired to create their own amazing upcycled piece with Fast Fashun, whilst Tenfingerz will convert a tonne of clothing saved from landfill into amazing wearable art. With pop-up runway shows, tunes and food, all ages and skill levels are welcome to drop in.

The FUSE Closing Party will celebrate the culmination of 16 days of creative risk taking and art making on Saturday 28 March from 6pm – 9pm at Civic Square, Northcote Town Hall. An evening of performance, dance, live music and DJs will explore the truth and effect of how diverse people engage with public spaces.

“Darebin is widely recognised for its thriving arts and culture sector,” said Mayor Susan Rennie.

“Darebin City Council is firmly committed to supporting the sector, and FUSE aims to meet the needs of our creative community by providing a forum for creative development and expression. This in turn provides new and innovative experiences while fostering a sense of belonging for audiences, residents and cultural tourists alike.”

Stretching from Keon Park on the Northern border to Westgarth in the South, FUSE will encompass a diverse program of events, with the full program to be announced on Wednesday 5 February at

Media release: 3 February 2020

Darebin Council is once again on the lookout for our local Young Business Achiever of the Year.

If you know someone aged 25 years or younger who has achieved something outstanding or innovative in business over the last 12 months, we want to know about them.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said this was a great opportunity for businesses to recognise the efforts of their younger members of staff who are going above and beyond in their work.

“If you know of a young person who is excelling in their workplace, now is the time to nominate them for the Darebin Young Business Achiever of the Year,” Mayor Rennie said.

Nominations are encouraged for young people who are achieving great results as part of a team in a business, or from young entrepreneurs and those engaged in running or managing their own businesses. Fill out the online Expression of Interest form and tell us why you think they should be our Young Business Achiever of the Year.

The winner will be presented at the Northern Business Achievement Award breakfast event on March 5.

Nominations are now open and will close at 5pm on Friday 14 February.

For more information, please visit

Media release: 10 January 2020

Darebin Council has offered its services to the dozens of asylum seekers who are being detained at the Mantra Hotel in Preston.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie has written to the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton offering free access to Council’s services for the asylum seekers, such as use of Darebin’s libraries, leisure centres and sporting clubs.

According to recent media reports, more than 45 male asylum seekers have been detained by the Australian Border Force in the Mantra Hotel in Preston for months after being evacuated from Papua New Guinea.

“The people being held at the Mantra have come to Australia seeking care and protection. They are the brothers, sons and cousins of families around the world who have come to us seeking a safe place to call home,” Mayor Rennie said.

“Darebin Council strongly believes that as current residents of Darebin these men are entitled to access all of our services.”

“This would greatly improve their health and well-being. Given that these people have been medevacked to Australia, it is of great concern that the Federal Government is further damaging their health by blocking them from using universal services,” Mayor Rennie said.

Darebin has written to the Minister requesting the contact information of who could help facilitate the access to Council’s resources. In the event external visits are not allowed, Council would be very happy to deliver a visiting library service directly to the Mantra Hotel which is a short distance to the Preston Library branch.

Darebin Council is proud to be a Refugee Welcome Zone and a member of the Welcoming Cities Network.

Merri Outreach Support Services has been engaged to deliver Darebin Council’s two-year homelessness assertive outreach program. The program will see specialist outreach workers visit and respond to individuals experiencing homelessness to connect them to services they need, including housing and healthcare.

Assertive outreach is a purposeful approach used with people who do not present to, or have difficulties engaging with, housing, homelessness or health services. Assertive outreach engages with and delivers services to people who are sleeping rough, living in rooming houses, squats or caravan parks.

The assertive outreach program is anticipated to be fully operational in early 2020 and will include two full-time Darebin focused homelessness outreach workers.

Once the service is up and running, Darebin residents will be able to alert Council to someone who may be experiencing homelessness or rough sleeping across the municipality. This will initiate an outreach visit by one of the specialist workers who will be able to provide assistance to that person. The outreach program will work closely with Darebin’s local services, including Victoria Police, Haven Home Safe, Women’s Information Support and Housing in the North and more.  

Merri Outreach Support Services have been a local homelessness agency for 30 years and provide a range of services and programs across Darebin. Chief Executive Officer of Merri Outreach Support Services, Mark Goodie, said the program would better connect individual people with the housing or healthcare services they require.

“The two new homelessness outreach workers will be out in the community, actively seeking out those who need help. The program will seek to address both the immediate wellbeing needs of the person, while also seeking to facilitate longer term, safe housing outcomes,” Mr Goodie said.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said this was just one initiative Council was taking but called on other levels of government to continue looking at ways to increase the amount of affordable housing.

“Homelessness is a significant and complex issue that cannot be resolved solely through the interventions of local government. However, Council can play a role by supporting the homelessness sector to respond to identified gaps,” Mayor Rennie said.

“Access to safe and affordable housing is a basic human right. We recognise this today, on International Human Rights Day. The new assertive outreach program will ensure that people who are homeless are treated with respect and dignity and provided with choices that respond to their different life experiences.”

Family violence is still the single biggest cause of homelessness in Victoria and Australia. 42 per cent of homeless Victorians said they were homeless due to family violence, while a further 39 per cent said they were homeless due to financial hardship or housing issues.

The 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census noted there are 972 people in Darebin experiencing homelessness, with 80 of these being rough sleepers.

Media release: 10 December 2019

This week marks the third anniversary of Darebin Council’s historic climate emergency declaration. Council continues to call for urgent State and Federal action on climate change, and has outlined five key demands relating to renewable energy, electric vehicles and recycled materials to help Australia achieve zero emissions by 2030.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said urgent action and leadership was needed to address the climate emergency.

“On 5 December 2016, Darebin Council unanimously voted to recognise we are in a state of climate emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government, including local councils. In doing so, Darebin Council became the first government of any level anywhere in the world to declare a climate emergency,” Mayor Rennie said.

In the three years since, more than 1200 jurisdictions in 25 countries have also declared a climate emergency, including the entire countries of Portugal, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, the Republic of Ireland, and Argentina, and global cities like Milan, Amsterdam, Madrid, Auckland and New York.

In Australia, roughly 26 per cent of the population live in an area that has already declared a climate emergency, including the cities of Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin, Hobart, and the Australian Capital Territory which all made declarations this year.

At Monday night’s Darebin Council Meeting, Councillors renewed calls for the Victorian and Federal Governments to also declare a climate emergency and achieve zero emissions by 2030 through policy reform that:

  • Achieves 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and then quickly doubles renewable energy supply - to meet all Australia’s energy needs and foster new jobs and new industry.
    Australia has some of the most significant renewable energy resources on the planet. With investment and policy reform from state and federal governments, these can be harnessed to meet this target. This target could also be achieved in partnership with fostering better energy efficiency, such as introducing new building standards and fast racking energy efficiency performance standards of electrical appliances and equipment.
    Darebin is switching to renewable energy and are also coordinating efforts of a buyers group of councils across the state to also switch to renewable emergency. Darebin also pioneered the successful Solar Saver scheme for residents, a version of which has now been implemented by the Victorian Government.

  • Requires all products and packaging sold in Australia to be made from fully recycled material by default.
    A policy like this would transform the recycling and manufacturing industries in Australia, with more buyers for recycled material, which means increased value of recycled material, which would drive investment in good quality recycling collection networks. There would of course need to be some exceptions to this in cases where using recycled material would be inappropriate, but the state and federal governments could work together to make an integrated approach to this policy.
    Darebin is developing a Social and Sustainable Procurement Policy which will consider a range of environmental factors like the use of recycled materials, reducing waste and water consumption, and the use of single use plastics, when assessing potential supplier relationships.

  • Requires all roads and footpaths to be made with recycled materials.
    Doing so would further drive the market for quality investment into recycling infrastructure by increasing the value of material while keeping the circular economy turning. These road products already exist, so there is no reason why this couldn’t be required on a state or national level. Technical requirements for roads would, of course, need to be met.
    In Darebin we are trialling resurfacing our roads with recycled materials, such as an asphalt made from old truck tyres and steel slag.

  • Invests in infrastructure to support the just transition to all electric cars, buses and trucks by 2025, and support local manufacturing of all types of road transport vehicles.
    There are now alternatives to petrol cars, and this is the time to begin to phase them out. Other governments around the world have already committed to doing so (for example, India plans to only sell electric vehicles by 2030). Governments have a key role to play in fast tracking the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and encouraging the transition away from petrol cars. Transport greenhouse gas emissions are one of the fastest growing sources of end-use sectoral emissions in the country.
    Darebin has already begun introducing electric and hybrid vehicles into its fleet and has installed public charging points for electric cars.

  • Reforms planning laws and building standards to mandate that all new construction and major renovations, including extensions on existing buildings, deliver net zero emissions outcomes by 2023, including the removal of all mandated requirements to connect to gas.
    New building standards could enforce sustainable design, lowering the energy usage of residents as well as making power bills cheaper. Removing requirements to connect to gas can will also accelerate the transition to renewable energy while lowering emissions.
    Darebin has employed a City Architect to help guide developers as to what Council’s expectations are when it comes to building and design. This includes energy efficiency and sustainable design outcomes. Major Council projects that are in the design phase like the Northcote Aquatic Recreation Centre are also planned to have a six-star energy rating and will not be connected to gas.

Other projects Darebin has undertaken to help mitigate the effects of the climate emergency include the introduction of the residential food waste recycling program, investing in infrastructure to encourage the uptake of cycling and sustainable transport, and holding events to engage and educate residents, businesses and other organisations on what they can do too.

“Local councils across Australia like Darebin are doing their bit to combat the climate emergency. Now it’s time for the State and Federal Governments to do the same,” Mayor Rennie said.

Media release: 4 December 2019

Darebin’s small business owners will have more support now Darebin City Council has signed up to Victoria’s Small Business Friendly Council initiative.

The initiative makes it easier for people to start, run and grow a business locally, and it’s being rolled out by the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) in partnership with the 56 councils that are now on board.

Acting Commissioner Mark Schramm, Darebin City Council CEO Sue Wilkinson and Mayor Cr Lina Messina met virtually on June 17 for the signing of the initiative’s Charter.

Darebin Mayor Cr Lina Messina said “We’re really pleased to be partnering with the Victorian Small Business Commission to increase support to our vibrant and diverse small business community. Our businesses are the heartbeat of our city, and we’re fully committed to exploring new ways that we can help them to thrive.”

Victorian Small Business Commissioner Mark Schramm congratulated Darebin City Council on the commitment.

“Congratulations Darebin City Council for committing to boost supports for your local small businesses. We look forward to working together on ways to respond to local needs with solutions that we know work, helping to create a level playing field,” he said.

By putting pen to paper at their Preston offices, council is committing to a range of measures. 

They’re pledging to support small businesses to keep trading throughout council infrastructure works. Support includes providing project managers with guidelines to help them scope the impacts, engage with businesses and implement proven strategies to help manage disruption.

This pledge builds on the council’s engagement with the City of Darebin’s vibrant and culturally diverse small business community during the recent level crossing removal works.

This has included maintaining open communication and working with the VSBC to translate its small business owner’s guide for managing disruption into four community languages most in need for these owners.

In signing the Charter, the council is also pledging to help new local business networks to get up and running, pay small business suppliers within 14 days and streamline business approval processes – further adding to their business supports in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

The City of Darebin is home to over 49,600 thousand jobs across a range of industries that stand to benefit from today’s commitment – from education and training and retail trade to construction and manufacturing.

Media Release: 18 June 2021

Councillor Susan Rennie has been re-elected Mayor of the City of Darebin for the next twelve months following last night’s Special Meeting of the Darebin City Council. Councillor Susanne Newton was re-elected to the position of Deputy Mayor.

“I’m humbled to be able to lead Darebin Council for another a year. It is a real privilege,” Mayor Rennie said.

“I appreciate the faith my fellow councillors have in allowing me to continue as Mayor, and I look forward to working with them closely as we embark on the final year of our ambitious four-year Council Plan.”

“I will work hard, I will work inclusively, and I will continue to sustain the same energy, enthusiasm and commitment to working in the best interests of the people of Darebin.”

Mayor Rennie said one of the defining features of the past year had been Darebin’s response to the climate emergency.

“In this last year we’ve seen over 600 new solar panel installations on homes; we have initiated a power partnership agreement with more than half the Councils in Victoria to pool their energy use and purchase renewable energy in the future; we have a new open space strategy which recognises the importance of our natural environment; we’ve also introduced a tree protection local law to ensure significant trees are protected; and we’ve introduced a food waste recycling scheme which will dramatically lower the amount of waste we send to landfill,” Mayor Rennie said.

“Of course, this is just a tiny fraction of what we’ve accomplished. We’ve built three new cycling bridges, we’re undertaking affordable housing projects, we were one of the first councils affected by Victoria’s waste crisis to be able to return services to residents, and we continue to demonstrate leadership on important issues from showing respect to the First Nations People of this land, to becoming the first level of government in Australia to affirm the Darlington Statement in support of the human rights of intersex people.”

“Darebin Council delivers more than 100 different services for our community, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other great outcomes we can achieve for the City of Darebin over the next 12 months.”

Darebin Chief Executive Officer Sue Wilkinson said she had full confidence in Mayor Rennie and Deputy Mayor Newton to continue to lead Darebin City Council.

“Both Susan and Susanne have shown exemplary leadership across the past year, and I’m confident they will continue to do so until the next council elections in October 2020,” Ms Wilkinson said.

Media release: 26 November 2019

Darebin City Council is pleased to welcome Munir Vahanvati as the municipality’s first City Designer. The creation of this new role will help deliver higher standards of architectural design within Darebin by setting clear expectations to the design industry.

Mr Vahanvati is a qualified architect with 15 years’ experience across the local government and the private sector. He is known for his work on the Moreland Apartment Design Code, which received Planning Institute Australia’s President’s Award and Best Large Project Award. Mr Vahanvati has also worked closely with Office of the Victorian Government Architect in setting up the framework for the Victorian Better Apartment Standards.

Darebin is embarking on a design excellence mission to ensure our city is made sustainably, accessible and liveable, all while supporting our diverse and growing population. Highly efficient buildings which use renewable technologies can help address the climate emergency, while good design can also help build community by creating spaces for people to come together.

The appointment of a City Designer is in recognition that there is an opportunity for Council to provide clearer guidance early in the design process to developers about Council’s aspirations and expectations. Mr Vahanvati will be available to provide the design and building industry with more clarity and certainty on the design standards Council expects to be achieved through new developments in Darebin. 

“Our community has made it clear to us that excellent design is important to them. However, Council has been left frustrated by numerous planning applications being approved by VCAT despite Council’s objections to their shortcomings in design. We look forward to Munir working proactively with the design industry to highlight the quality of design we expect in Darebin,” Darebin Chief Executive Officer Sue Wilkinson said.

“I’m very happy to have now started in the City Designer role at Darebin. I see my position as a bridge between architects and developers, and the planners within Council. I will be working closely with the applicants on larger applications as part of the pre-application process to provide certainty and clarity on Council’s expectations so that we can achieve better development outcomes,” Mr Vahanvati said.

“Good design is fundamental to the liveability and sustainability of our communities. We live in a highly urbanised area and buildings not only impact the people who live in them but also affects everyone around them. This means it is very important we are delivering high quality developments that will stand the test of time and help Darebin become more sustainable and liveable in the future,” Mr Vahanvati said.

Darebin Council launched its Design Excellence project on 20 November, where architects, designers and developers were introduced to Darebin’s City Designer. As part of the Design Excellence project, Council will seek to build design capacity within Council’s planning team, will review planning policies and frameworks, and encourage good design outcomes by implementing Design Review Panels and establishing the Darebin Design Awards.

Media release: 21 November 2019

Darebin Council will write to Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne requesting the Australian Federal Government immediately step in to ensure Julian Assange’s human rights are being upheld by British authorities while he is being held in the United Kingdom.

Mr Assange is an Australian citizen and former Darebin resident, having previously lived in Thornbury. Darebin Council is requesting the Federal Government act as if Mr Assange was being held in Iran, Egypt, Cambodia or Indonesia. They must not turn a blind eye to the violation of any Australian's human rights, just because it is occurring in the West.

Mr Assange is facing extradition from the United Kingdom to the USA in an unprecedented Espionage Act prosecution for engaging in journalistic activity during his time as Wikileaks publisher. If convicted, he faces 175 years imprisonment. Darebin Council requests the Foreign Affairs Minister and her office continue to offer all and any consular assistance Mr Assange requires.

It has also been reported Mr Assange is in very poor health, and Darebin Council is requesting the Foreign Affairs Minister ensure British authorities are taking the necessary steps to address his health issues.

“As Mr Assange is an Australian citizen, the Federal Government must ensure that his rights are being upheld and respected,” Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said.

Darebin notes Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe, Massimo Moratti, has said the United Kingdom would be in breach of its obligations to protect human rights should Mr Assange be extradited to the United States.

“The British authorities must acknowledge the real risks of serious human rights violations Julian Assange would face if sent to the USA and reject the extradition request. The UK must comply with the commitment it’s already made that he would not be sent anywhere he could face torture or other ill-treatment,” Mr Moratti said.

“The UK must abide by its obligations under international human rights law that forbids the transfer of individuals to another country where they would face serious human rights violations. Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of these obligations.”

Darebin also notes the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, said he fears Mr Assange’s human rights could be seriously violated if he is extradited to the United States.

“My most urgent concern is that, in the United States, Mr Assange would be exposed to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial and the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” Mr Melzer said.

“In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution he has never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”

Media release: 19 November 2019

The City of Darebin has become the first local government in Australia to affirm the Darlington Statement supporting the rights of intersex people in Australia and New Zealand. Councillors agreed to affirm the statement at the 6 November Darebin Council Meeting.

The Darlington Statement is a community consensus by Australian and New Zealand intersex organisations that actively acknowledges the diversity within the intersex community and the progress they are seeking regarding their human rights, health and wellbeing, peer support, education, awareness and employment.

Following the affirmation Council will seek to increase community understanding of intersex rights and issues through library resources, as well as identifying opportunities to further improve the inclusion of intersex people in council services, programs and processes.

At the Council meeting it was also agreed that Darebin will fly the Intersex Flag annually between 26 October and 8 November to recognise Intersex Awareness Day and Intersex Solidarity Day.

Darebin City Council Mayor Susan Rennie said affirming the statement was just the first step in supporting the intersex community of Darebin.

“This Council has a long history of supporting diverse communities, and we will continue to do so by finding new ways to support, engage and include intersex people who call Darebin home,” Cr Rennie said.

“We also encourage other levels of government to affirm the Darlington Statement in support of the intersex community in Australia, and around the world.”

Intersex Human Rights Australia co-executive director Tony Briffa commended Darebin City Council for becoming the first local government to affirm the Darlington Statement.

“The prevalence of people born with variations of sex characteristics indicates that there are over 2,000 intersex people in Darebin, so supporting intersex issues is important and relevant,” Briffa said.

“Intersex people are still largely invisible in society, and often conflated with being either trans or not being male or female. We look forward to working with Darebin to help raise awareness and reduce the shame and stigma still experienced by many intersex people today.”

For more information, please visit

Media Release: 8 November 2019

Council is encouraging local residents to learn more about the area’s newest sports facility by attending a community information session in November.

The Multi-Sports Stadium (MSS) will be built in John Cain Memorial Park in Thornbury and will cater to multiple sports and community needs.

Darebin City Council Mayor Susan Rennie said the new stadium was an exciting step forward for sport in Darebin and will be a central part of the local community for many years to come. “Our new, state-of-the-art stadium will be centrally located and cater to several sports and community needs making it a real hub for the people of Darebin and surrounds,” said Mayor Rennie. 

The MSS hit another milestone this week after the Council released conceptual images and a fly through video featuring the proposed design for the stadium. The video offers residents a preview of their newest community sports facility and is an exciting step forward.

“It’s very exciting to see the fly through and start to get a real understanding of just how spectacular this stadium will be. While it’s still a while until the actual stadium is built, I hope the video and concept images give local residents a real sense of excitement about this project.”

The community facility will provide a much-needed space for a range of court sports including netball, basketball, volleyball, futsal and badminton. Purpose-built and fully accessible, the MSS will create more opportunities particularly for women and girls in Darebin to participate in sport and exercise.

The first phase of this project is underway, with construction of four new outdoor netball courts expected to be completed in mid-2020. These courts will cater to the high demand for netball facilities in Darebin. Council awarded the contract to design the MSS to Brand Architects in April 2019. The company are now finalising the design of the four-court indoor stadium, which will have a five-star Green Star rating.

All residents are invited to attend a community information session to get an update and to provide your feedback. The session will take place on 13 November at Northcote City Football Club in Thornbury from 6pm. If anyone is unable to attend the information session, more information is available at

For more information about the stadium please visit The fly through video can be viewed at

Media release: 1 November 2019

Council has welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement that it will fund improved lighting along Main Drive in Bundoora to improve safety in the area. Darebin City Council Mayor Susan Rennie joined Minister for Crime Prevention Ben Carroll and Member for Bundoora Colin Brooks to make the announcement today.

Darebin City Council will contribute $58,800 and the Victorian Government $184,000 to the lighting project which will upgrade 23 lights in the area and identify opportunities to improve lighting on the surrounding private properties such as Polaris 3038 and the grounds of La Trobe University.

The location of the improved lighting is particularly significant as it is close to where Aiia Maasarwe got off a tram before she was tragically murdered in January. Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said the lighting improvements will help ensure that people using Main Drive feel safe in the area.

“We’re determined to make sure everyone in Darebin feels safe at all times, and these lighting upgrades will help us do that in Bundoora. This is an especially important place for security as it is very close to La Trobe University and the tram stop is used by students coming back to their residence,” said Mayor Rennie.

“Aiia’s death was a tragedy and it should not have happened. Darebin City Council believes there is no place for any kind of violence in our community and that everyone has the right to get home safely. We’ll continue to invest in projects and initiatives that make our community a safer place for everyone to live, work or visit.”

The newly announced funds will continue the work Darebin City Council started earlier this year when it upgraded four lights in the area. The new upgrades will take place on Main Drive between Copernicus Crescent and Grange Boulevard with work expected to begin in 2020.

Media release: 23 October 2019

The Darebin community is invited to provide their feedback on the draft Reimagining Ruthven Master Plan which will guide the future of Darebin’s newest park at the former Ruthven Primary School site.

The draft plan outlines how the site will be transformed by creating a bushland sanctuary, a natural place of welcome, and a space for both play and quiet retreat, right in the heart of Reservoir West.


“This is a really exciting project for everyone in Darebin. The Ruthven master plan will simultaneously create a haven for wildlife by becoming a stepping-stone for local habitat along the Edgars Creek corridor, while also adding high quality open space for our community to enjoy with friends and family,” Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said.


The Reimagining Ruthven Master Plan outlines Council’s long-term vision for the park. The master plan is the culmination of two years of site analysis, design, and investigative work (including community input from the Ruthven Community Reference Group) to inform the transformation of the site. The creation of this draft has been underpinned by enhancing the site’s existing landscape character and biodiversity, and the community’s desires for a nature-based space. Its creation will also be informed by the newly endorsed Darebin open space strategy, Breathing Space.


Ruthven Community Reference Group member Serena O’Meley welcomed the release of the plan for consultation. 


“It’ll be a natural meeting place where people can feel welcome and relaxed, while increasing their sense of well-being and connectedness. The park will be a botanic showcase that will encourage people to love and appreciate the wide variety of plants and wildlife which are indigenous to the area,” Ms O’Meley said.


Some of the key actions outlined in the master plan include retaining all indigenous trees and shrubs and the planting of many more, the creation of wild bushland areas, a sheltered barbecue with seating and a public toilet, new play spaces, the retention of an open lawn area, and recognition of Darebin’s Aboriginal history and Reservoir’s migrant past. Looking towards the long-term future of the site, the master plan also notes the park could be also used to create a small section of ephemeral wetland to further increase the park’s biodiversity.


The three-hectare parcel of land is bordered by Hurley Street, Tracey Street, Glasgow Avenue and Wilson Boulevard, and was purchased by Council in 2016 after the former primary school site was declared surplus by the State Government.


“I encourage everyone to provide their feedback on the Reimagining Ruthven Master Plan, so they can have their say on the creation of this fantastic new space which will delight Darebin residents for generations to come,” Cr Rennie said.


Consultation on the master plan will close on 16 November. There will also be two drop-in sessions for community members to learn more:


  • Wednesday 30 October, 10am-12pm at the Reservoir Library, 23 Edwardes Street, Reservoir.

  • Saturday 9 November, 10am-12pm at the former Ruthven Primary School, 74-76 Glasgow Avenue, Reservoir.


To view the Reimagining Ruthven Masterplan and provide feedback, please visit

Media release: 17 October 2019

Darebin Council is pleased with the Darebin RSL’s decision not to proceed with its application for an additional 15 electronic gaming machines (EGMs) at its Preston venue. As such, Council has agreed to withdraw its Supreme Court appeal.

Council maintains that an increase in the number of EGMs in Darebin would have represented an unacceptable harm to our community, and the RSL’s decision to amend its application by removing the EGMs is applauded and represents a significant win for the people of Darebin. 

“We’re pleased the Darebin RSL has removed plans to increase the number of EGMs in Darebin. We know these machines cause a lot of harm – not just to the person gambling, but also their social networks of friends and family. Gambling harm needs to be recognised as a public health issue that effects our whole community,” Darebin Deputy Mayor Cr Susanne Newton said.

Research shows four out of five weekly poker machine users experience harm which not only impacts them, but their partners, families and community as well. Gambling is a major driver of household debt, family breakdown and contributes to causing family violence.

A 2018 community survey showed 86.8 per cent of respondents agreed that gaming machines are too widely accessible in the local community and 70.2 per cent felt that they are a serious problem in the community. More than $82 million are spent on EGMs in Darebin every year, equating to more than $225,000 each day.

In April the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal had supported the RSL’s application for 15 additional EGMS (which would’ve increased their total from 65 to 80) despite strong opposition from Council and the community. Disappointed with this decision, and determined to protect our residents from further harm, Council lodged an appeal against the decision to the Supreme Court in May.

Council was advised of Darebin RSL’s intention to settle in June, with the settlement terms being recently finalised.

This week is also Gambling Harm Awareness Week (7-13 October) which is a time to encourage community discussions about why gambling harm matters. This year’s theme is Talk, Share, Support.

Harm from gambling isn’t just about losing money. Gambling can affect self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, work performance and social life. It can harm not only the person who gambles but also family, friends, workplaces and communities.

Darebin is committed to reducing the harm caused by EGMs and adopted its Electronic Gaming Machine Policy 2018-2022 in December last year, which at the time was heralded as “Australia’s strongest gambling reform policy” by The Pokies Play You group.

Media release: 10 October 2019

Darebin residents will soon be able to sustainably empty food scraps into their green waste bin alongside their garden waste from next Monday, 7 October, in a move which will dramatically reduce their overall impact on the environment.

The food and green waste bin will be collected by Council every fortnight and taken to the Veolia recycling facility in Bulla where it will be processed and turned into valuable compost for use on farms, parks and gardens across Victoria.

Food waste makes up approximately 38 per cent of Darebin’s kerbside household waste sent to landfill, so eliminating food waste and recycling it through this service will significantly reduce the amount of waste going into landfill. It is also one of the biggest ways for Council to work with the community to quickly reduce carbon emissions. Calculations show that the introduction of food waste recycling to existing green bin users could reduce emissions by up to 1,600 tonnes in the first year and many more after that as more users get involved.

Households without an existing green waste bin that are wanting to participate in food waste recycling can apply and pay the annual fee for a 120 litre or 240 litre food and green waste bin, in line with the normal green waste service eligibility and charges. While not all households in Darebin currently have access to the service, Council will continue to support and run other food waste recycling programs to support home composting and food waste recycling.

Council’s collection frequency has not changed. General waste bins will continue to be collected weekly, while recycling bins and food and green waste will continue to be collected fortnightly.

Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said this is an exciting new chapter in making Darebin Council more sustainable.

“If everyone in Darebin with a green bin recycled their food waste, we would save 6000 tonnes of waste from landfill, and 7000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere,” Mayor Rennie said.

“Residents will be able to put items such as fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds and loose-leaf tea, meat scraps and bones as well as garden materials in the one bin.”

“People who already compost at home are encouraged to continue doing so. This additional service will be able to accept all food waste – even that which is not usually compostable at home such as bones and meat.”

“We have received excellent feedback from the trial last year and it is wonderful that we can now expand on this service.”

For more information and tips on how best to recycle, please visit

Media release: 3 October 2019

Darebin Council is investing in the future of green open spaces by proposing to increase the open space levy that developers contribute. The levy would be put towards creating more and better open space for our rapidly growing population and to improve and enhance our local biodiversity habitat throughout the city.

Funds collected from developers through the levy would be used to improve our existing open spaces while also allowing Council to acquire additional land to be used as open space.

Earlier this month councillors adopted Breathing Space: The Darebin Open Space Strategy, which sets key directions for Council to improve the quality of open spaces and parklands and increase the amount of public open space and is a key strategy in realizing Council’s vision of becoming a ‘greener, bolder, more connected city’.

One of the major actions of Breathing Space is to increase the existing open space levy that Council collects from property developers. Increasing the open space levy is one of this Council’s 16 Big Actions in the Darebin Council Plan 2017-21. At Monday night’s Council Meeting it was agreed Council would seek a planning scheme amendment to increase the open space levy from its current rate of between two and five per cent to 10 per cent. This levy would apply to all subdivisions in Darebin of three lots or greater. Exemptions will continue to be provided for two lot subdivisions.

The next steps will be to seek authorisation from the Planning Minister. The community and other interested parties would then be invited to take part in consultation on the planning scheme amendment to increase the levy. This is likely to occur in late 2019.

Sector-leading planning and economic consultancy firm SGS Economics & Planning analysed Darebin’s open space contribution requirements. The analysis showed that, with no increase in contribution rates, there will be a per-capita reduction in the amount of open space in Darebin.

Financial modelling has also shown that increasing the levy to anything less than 10 per cent across the municipality will not allow Council to improve and acquire the open space we need for our growing population.

Darebin is a world leader when it comes to responding to the climate emergency and is determined to lead the way in creating a sustainable city. Increasing and improving the open space in Darebin will not only contribute towards this but will reflect the community’s values when it comes to protecting our local environment.

Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said the Council needed to plan to keep Darebin sustainable as our population grows.


“Darebin’s population is rapidly growing, and we therefore need to fund more open space projects to cater for this increase as well as to protect our valued local biodiversity,” Cr Rennie said.


“The increase in the levy would ensure future developments deliver a reasonable standard of open space to cater for the new residents that their developments are bringing to the area.”


“All funds raised through the levy are directly invested back into open spaces to protect quality of life for the current and future communities of Darebin.”

Media release: 26 September 2019

Taking place over 8 days from 20–27 October, the 23rd annual Darebin Music Feast will encompass 85 events across 20 different venues, thoughtfully curated to showcase a swathe of artists and musicians who represent and reflect the rich and culturally diverse community of Darebin.

Underpinning the curation of this year’s program is a commitment to welcoming and celebrating music makers and lovers of all ages. Over half of the events in the 2019 program are free to attend and nearly a third are open to people of all ages, including the major opening and closing events. As in 2018, attention has been given to ensuring broad representation within the cohort of curated artists, across gender, ethnicity and age.

“I’m so thrilled with what’s on offer in 2019. This year’s program is bold, rich and enticing, and continues the focus on diversity, collaboration and celebration that Darebin Music Feast has become known for,” Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said.

The Feast will kick off on 20 October with a massive outdoor Opening Party, featuring 15 acts across three stages. Mirroring last year’s hugely successful Closing Party, it’ll be all ages, all day and free entry, with a stellar line-up including Alice Skye, Emma Donovan and the Putbacks, Huntly, Jess Ribeiro, Kee’ahn, Raw Humps, Rebel Yell, The Goon Sax, Tiana Khasi, U-Bahn and more!

The Feast for Families program will feature Sounds Exquisite, an interactive sound installation made by Darebin primary school students in collaboration with local arts organisation Playable Streets. Families can drop into the Keon Park Children’s Hub at any time Monday to Friday to interact with the artwork, or head down on Sunday 27 October for the finale event hosted by some of the creators from Playable Streets.

The annual Darebin Music Feast Songwriters’ Award Grand Final returns to Northcote Town Hall on 24 October. One of ten local finalists will take home a prize package of $2000 cash, studio time and more.

As always, Darebin Live guarantees something for everyone with a week-long, back-to-back program of gigs across Darebin’s prestigious music venues. Showcasing an incredible breadth of styles, from punk, alt-rock, indie and folk to jazz, electro and soul, Darebin Live sees community music groups and emerging local talent perform alongside touring national acts.

The hugely successful Event Producer Mentorship program AMPLIFY also returns, this year with a focus on young producers aged 16-25. The 2019 mentorship was awarded to Acacia Coates and Winnie McQuinn, who under the guidance of Woody McDonald have curated Green Noise, an event inspired by sustainable initiatives in the music industry, youth climate strikes and growing environmental activism. Their carefully curated line-up features Jade Imagine, Elizabeth, Empat Lima and The Vovos – all chosen for their passion for and promotion of sustainable practices. A free, all ages event, Green Noise will take place on 27 October, closing out this year’s program with a bang.

For the full 2019 Darebin Music Feast lineup and event details, visit

Media release: 11 September 2019

Bundoora Homestead Art Centre is proud to announce that the winner of the 2019 Darebin Art Prize is Hayley Millar-Baker. As the winner, Hayley will receive a cash prize of $10,000 and her artwork will be acquired into the Darebin City Council’s permanent art collection.

The announcement was made at the exhibition opening on Friday 6 September.

“We are thrilled to add Hayley Millar-Baker’s work Untitled (The circumstances are that a whale had come on shore) into the Darebin Art Collection, which inspires and connects the Darebin community in an appreciation of the visual arts,” Darebin Council Deputy Mayor Cr Susanne Newton said.

“It is a sensational accomplishment and I extend my congratulations to Hayley on behalf of Darebin Council.”

Untitled (The circumstances are that a whale had come on shore) speaks to the murders of the Kilcarer Gunditj clan over the ownership of whale meat in the 1830s. 

The judging panel of the Darebin Art Prize 2019 included Lisa Radford, Lecturer in Art, Victorian College of the Arts; Kimba Thompson, Director and Curator, Blak Dot Gallery; and Renee Cosgrave, Artist and Acting Curator at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre.

“This small work holds a room, the technique of layering is subtle, not hidden, and in a generative way only over time, do we realise that the work reveals another history, quietly inviting the viewer to take on her narrative as a Gunditjmara woman, literally allowing us to re-narrate history through her collage," the judging panel said in a statement.

The Darebin Art Prize is a biennial multi-medium award for outstanding Australian contemporary visual art. Artists presented in this major exhibition are still contenders in winning the $1,000 People’s Choice Award. The contemporary artworks are across all mediums, including painting, works on paper, photography and video works, sculpture, ceramics and craft.

The exhibition is showing until 26 January 2019 at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre.

Bundoora Homestead Art Centre is the public art gallery for the City of Darebin and is committed to presenting challenging and inspiring contemporary visual arts exhibitions and public programs. The Homestead was built in 1900 and is registered by Heritage Victoria and certified by the National Trust.

 Media release: 10 September 2019

Darebin Council is delivering a plan to improve our local biodiversity and ensure all residents live within an easy walking distance of quality open space.

Council endorsed Breathing Space: Darebin Open Space Strategy on 2 September 2019. The strategy is driven by the overarching theme of responding to the climate emergency via three key directions; meeting community open space needs, rewilding Darebin by improving biodiversity, and creating a Green Streets network. 

Darebin is a rapidly growing part of Melbourne, and while it has pockets of significant open space such as Bundoora Park and Edwardes Lake, not all Darebin residents have quality open spaces within walking distance of their home. The now endorsed Breathing Space: Darebin Open Space Strategy sets a target that all Darebin residents should live within 500 metres of quality open space.

The important piece of work will direct Council to improve the quality of open spaces and parklands, and also the overall amount of public open space. This will maximise habitat areas for local species while also making the City of Darebin a greener place to live, work and play. 

Council gathered feedback from the community regarding how open spaces could be improved in Darebin in March last year, with the draft Open Space Strategy released for further public consultation last November, and a final round of community consultation on the revised draft was held in July this year.

To plan for the projected population increase and expand the amount of open space available per person, the new Breathing Space: Darebin Open Space Strategy outlines several actions Council can take to increase the amount of open space it manages, as well as improving what public open space is already available.

This can be achieved by adding new plants, shrubs and trees with a focus on indigenous species, and investing in better lighting, pathways and plantings at Council’s existing public open so they can cater to a wider range of people, for a broader range of activities, during both the daytime and into the evening.

“Open space is central to quality of life. It brings our diverse community together, provides a home for our precious local species and allows us to take part in everything from active recreation to quiet contemplation,” Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said.

“Here in Darebin we are lucky to have a wealth of natural beauty in our parks, creeks and streetscapes making up over 790 hectares of public open space. But we are also under pressure. Like the rest of metropolitan Melbourne, we are growing, and our population is increasing as more people choose to call Darebin home.”

“As Darebin grows we want to maintain the beauty of our green and natural spaces and safeguard the liveability our open spaces give us. This strategy gives us the framework to do that,” Cr Rennie said.

To read Breathing Space: Darebin Open Space Strategy, visit  

Media release: 3 September 2019


Some of Darebin’s most outstanding citizens have been recognised in the 2019 Darebin Community Awards for their tremendous, selfless work in making society a better place.

The special awards ceremony was held at Preston City Hall on Friday, 23 August. Council received more than 50 high calibre nominations reflecting the rich diversity of the local community for the eight awards on offer, including the new Sustainability and Lifetime Achievement awards. 

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said the Darebin Community Awards are about celebrating people or groups in our community who show leadership and care.

“It’s a privilege to present these awards to some of our truly inspiring community members. Their wonderful contributions to our society deserve to be acknowledged,” Mayor Rennie said.

“It’s important that we recognise people who are making outstanding contributions and showing excellence in their field.”

The winners of the 2019 Darebin Community Awards are: 

Citizen of the Year - Miranda Sharp
Miranda Sharp established the Melbourne Food Hub, an innovative template for a truly community-based local food which forges productive links between the existing farmers' markets, numerous small enterprises and local residents in order to support farmers, educate the community, create a meeting place for the neighbourhood and promote health and wellbeing. 

Young Citizen of the Year – Emily Hughes
Emily Hughes is a founding member of the Darebin Young Citizens Jury. She led the Jury’s 2019/20 budget submission process which included speaking at the public submissions hearing, while also playing a critical role in the Jury’s submission to the Mental Health Royal Commission, as well as supporting the development of the Darebin Youth Services Strategy.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Community Leader of the Year - Trevor Gallagher
Trevor Gallagher is a Gunditjmara Elder and has worked as an Aboriginal cultural educator for many years with people from all ages and all cultures. Since 2014, Uncle Trevor has been leading community walks along the Darebin Spiritual Healing Trail. This includes his own contribution to the Trail – a stone sitting circle where people are encouraged to share stories of their own identity.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Emerging Young Community Leader - Sianna Catullo
Sianna Catullo is a proud Narungga woman raised on Wurundjeri Country a former volunteer who now works with Spark Health, a social enterprise who specialises in health promotion and Aboriginal community engagement. Sianna took a leading role earlier this year advocating for the issues around Aboriginal Flag copyright and its impact on Clothing The Gap.  She has also been selected as one of 12 participants for the Indigenous Marathon Project and is in training to run her first marathon in New York.

Community Group of the Year - Transition Darebin
Transition Darebin is a community group which fosters a sustainable and resilient community by harnessing the diverse skills of our community to undertake projects around food, sharing and saving resources and re-skilling.

Lifetime Achievement Award - Chris Dureau 
Chris Dureau has had over 30 years' experience in the International Aid and Development sector. His career has seen him develop and deliver on-the-ground programs in developing countries all over the world, like Timor Leste. In recent years Chris has led Friends of Baucau, a community-led organisation that utilises an asset-based development approach to assist local communities in the District of Baucau in Timor Leste.

Sustainability Award (Business) – Moon Rabbit
Moon Rabbit is an environmentally innovative social-enterprise cafe at the Bridge Preston. The café has never had disposable takeaway cups as has calculated that they have prevented more than 10,000 takeaway cups from ending up in landfill.

Sustainability Award (Individual) - Lori-Ann Dalton
Lori-Ann Dalton is the founder of Minimal Waste 3078, a community group which looks for waste solutions and cultural change in collaboration with local businesses. In 2018/19, Lori-Ann has used that group as a vehicle to engage with local traders to empower them to shift the throw away culture by promoting waste free options to customers.


Media release: 23 August 2019

The Preston community has voiced its expectations to the unique identity of the Preston Market will be kept, while creating a diverse, sustainable and liveable new neighbourhood around it. At the Planning Committee Meeting on 19 August, Councillors noted the release of the Preston Market Quarter Identity Study and Preston Market Precinct Engagement Report – two key documents about what the local community thinks about the beloved privately-owned precinct.

One of the strongest messages from the community has been around protecting the unique character of the market, so Council commissioned specialist consultants to complete the Preston Market Quarter Identity Study. This technical report identified the tangible, and intangible elements that are required to maintain the unique identity and character of Preston Market.

The Preston Market Precinct Engagement Report summarises the most recent phase of community engagement, which marked the completion of an extensive four phase community engagement process. The engagement has been valuable for understanding insights from community groups, residents and businesses.

The State Government’s Victorian Planning Authority is currently preparing new planning controls for the precinct. They have advised that both the Identity Study and community engagement report will be considered, alongside a raft of other studies and reports.

This work has also directly informed Darebin Council’s decision on 19 August where it called for the State Government and developer to make sure the planning controls that are in development, as well as any management arrangements achieve the local community’s expectations around how the market precinct should evolve into the future, while staying true to its multicultural and working class roots. 

Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said that the community engagement involved almost 2000 participants and included interviews, pop ups, deliberative urban design workshops, online engagement and meetings with key groups such as traders and local community groups. 

“This was all about putting people at the heart of the planning process and ensuring that we were able to involve our community in a meaningful way, in the future of Preston Market. The engagement program was, in its depth and scope, the largest effort of its type in the Council’s history of planning projects. While there are a range of views, strong themes emerged from the engagement,” Cr Rennie said.

She said the local community loves Preston Market and has high expectations that Darebin will work to safeguard the market’s identity as welcoming, inclusive and affordable into the future.

“We all love the market and want the new community around it to be diverse, sustainable, connected and welcoming,” Cr Rennie said.

The findings of the Preston Market Quarter Identity Study indicate that the market’s community appeal and unique character is significantly dependent on the diverse multicultural traders, the wide range of affordable goods, the neighbourhood of covered streets, intersections, stalls, sheds and small shops, and the wide walkways that act as public space.

The Preston Market Precinct Engagement Report found that for a number of issues there was a high level of consensus among members of the community around the future direction of the precinct. These were:

 Maintaining the character of the market
 Creating new green, open spaces
Making the precinct pedestrian-centred
Embedding principles of sustainability across the site

The engagement also highlighted where community members have a variety of views, including building heights. The most consistent concern was in relation to overshadowing that may be caused by buildings.

In line with these findings, and the findings of previous phases of engagement, Council has endorsed key objectives around planning for the future of the site and it will now ask the state government and developer to incorporate these into planning controls, design and management plans. These are:

That the market retains its unique feel of covered streets, intersections, sheds, stalls and small shops that create a place of welcome, exchange and diversity.
The vibrant mix of traders, particularly those from diverse backgrounds, are supported before, during and after redevelopment to keep the market accessible, affordable and multicultural.
The surrounding precinct is developed to feature strong sustainability principles, showcase excellence in design and improve the look, feel and safety of the area.
The value that is created through the redevelopment is shared with the wider community through the creation of community spaces, affordable housing, social programs and facilities and employment opportunities.

Over the coming weeks before the State Government’s Victorian Planning Authority releases their Draft Framework Plan expected in September, Council will seek support from the State Government and developer to achieve the best possible outcome for businesses, traders, workers, residents, and members of the community who rely on Preston Market. 

To find out more about the Preston Market Precinct, please visit
Media release: 22 August 2019

Darebin residents, old and new, are invited to be officially welcomed onto Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung country at a special event in the Darebin Arts Centre precinct on Sunday, 1 September 2019.

Ngulu Nganjin - Everyone’s Voice will be a new annual event on the Darebin calendar to recognise and celebrate First Nations people and the wider Darebin community.

This free and dynamic First Nations program, which is co-designed by the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee and Darebin City Council, will feature a Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Welcome Ceremony with Uncle Bill Nicholson and the Djirri Djirri Dance Group.

Well-known Aboriginal actor and Elder, Uncle Jack Charles, will be the host for the event which will also include a live music program headlined by young vocal prodigy, Isaiah Firebrace, featuring local primary school students.

At just 17 years old, Isaiah won The X Factor in 2016, and represented Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest the following year, where he finished ninth. His debut single It’s Gotta Be You was the highest streaming song of any Australian artist in 2018.

Leading up to Everyone’s Voice, Isaiah has been holding a series of workshops with students from eight Darebin primary schools, who have been busy learning Isaiah’s new single Spirit, which they will perform on stage at the event. Attendees are encouraged to download the song lyrics from Council’s website so they too can join in on the day.

“I’m really looking forward to performing on stage with the kids. We’ve had a lot of fun over the past few weeks learning the words and signing together. It’s going to be a really fun day,” Isaiah Firebrace said.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said Ngulu Nganjin - Everyone’s Voice reinforces Darebin Council’s commitment to respecting and celebrating First Nations peoples.

“This is a special opportunity for all of Darebin’s diverse communities to join together and be welcomed onto Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung country, to share stories and voices and to raise awareness and understanding,” said Mayor Rennie.

“The input from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is fundamental to the spirit of the event,” said Charles Pakana from the Aboriginal Advisory Committee.

“This event is a celebration of the culture and history of First Nations peoples and it’s also an opportunity for all people who call Darebin home to join together and celebrate.”

For more event information and to download the lyrics to Spirit, please visit

Ngulu Nganjin - Everyone’s Voice
Sunday 1 September 2019
12.00pm to 3.30pm
Darebin Arts Centre and Ray Bramham Gardens — corner Bell Street and St Georges Road, Preston

Media release: 22 August 2019

The City of Darebin is demanding the State Government step up to the plate and acknowledge the serious failure in policy that has led to the environmental catastrophe Victoria finds itself in, with tens of thousands of tonnes of recyclable material from dozens of councils destined for landfill.

It has now been over 18 months since China adopted its National Sword policy and effectively stopped importing low quality recyclable materials, throwing the sector into chaos. Since then State and Federal Governments have refused to act

On 25 July Victorian recycler SKM closed its doors to the more than 30 councils, including Darebin, with whom it has contracts, forcing tens of thousands of tonnes of recyclable material to be dumped in landfill with no other alternative.

A petition has been launched by Darebin Council calling on the Victorian Government to take urgent action to find a solution to the recycling crisis gripping Victoria. The petition urges Victorian Government to recognise the crisis for what it is, and to begin immediate action to rectify it.

The petition also calls for the introduction of a container deposit scheme, and the establishment of an independent Victorian Waste Authority to address both the urgent short-term recycling issues plaguing the state and preventing more recyclable waste going to landfill, as well as finding long term solutions to establish a secure and robust recycling market and industry in Victoria.

The Victorian Waste Authority should be funded by the landfill levy revenue the State Government has amassed, and should be comprised of leading market developers, research and development specialists, industry commentators, local government representatives and others.

“Darebin is acting to address the recycling crisis. We have introduced a requirement for recycled content be incorporated into asphalt on local roads,” Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said.

“But the quantities that one council can use are relatively small. It’s like trying to put out a bushfire with a water pistol. These issues need joint action and for the State and Federal Governments to work together with local councils to create a sustainable recycling industry.”

The petition, which was launched yesterday afternoon, already has more than 300 signatures from concerned Victorians.

Sign the petition here:

Media release: 9 August 2019

An astounding $223,596 per day has been lost on Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) in the City of Darebin over the past financial year. The 12 EGM venues in Darebin recorded a total of $81.6 million in losses, equal to $620 for every adult in the municipality.

The latest data showed Victorians lost an overall $2.698 billion on EGMs in the 2018-19 financial year, the second highest amount of losses since they were introduced to the state.

This amount is a $3.5 million increase on last year’s losses, and only slightly lower than the all-time record of $2.707 billion in losses recorded in 2008-09.

Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said Council’s bold and ambitious Electronic Gaming Policy 2018-2022 was introduced to combat the harm caused by gambling and reduce its impact.

“Every year in Darebin people lose over $81 million to poker machine gambling, and many of these people are the ones who can least afford it,” Cr Rennie said.

“We know gambling is a major driver of household debt and contributor to family violence. We need stronger regulations from the State Government to protect our community from the harm caused from these insidious machines.”

Alliance for Gambling Reform spokesman, the Reverend Tim Costello, said EGMs lead to the loss of much more than just money in the Darebin community.

“Pokies dens are designed to fleece people regardless of socio-economic background or geography, and especially target people who may be feeling isolated or lonely. That’s predatory behavior,” Rev Costello said.

“The Royal Commission into Financial Services exposed predatory behaviour in the banking industry and the community has rightly been up in arms about it. Darebin residents should be shouting from the rooftops about how the poker machine industry preys on people living in their municipality and seek an end to this exploitation.”

Rev Costello said it was time the Victorian Government responded to gambling harm as a public health issue akin to smoking.

“Smoking in bars was once pervasive in Victoria, not unlike the scourge that is poker machines, he said. “You couldn’t go out without coming home stinking of cigarette smoke. Now we can go out and enjoy ourselves without the effects of passive smoking,” he said.

“We call on the Victorian Government to outlaw the predatory and addictive features on poker machines that trick people into believing they are winning when they are actually losing money. These losses disguised as wins and near misses are just abuse of punters and are frankly immoral.”

Media release: 30 July 2019

The City of Darebin is calling on the State Government to extend its current exemption under Section 186 of the Local Government Act 1989 so it can appropriately deal with other recycling providers in the wake of SKM’s capacity issues.

“The Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio has repeatedly said the State Government is working with local councils to renegotiate contracts with recycling providers, which is why we are urgently asking the government to extend Darebin’s exemption under Section 186 of the Local Government Act to do just that,” Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said.

“We are unable to begin immediate negotiations with other recycling providers without an exemption which allows for contracts to be negotiated past June 2021, so at the moment the State Government is actually hindering us – not helping us – to renegotiate our contract.”

“The longer this waste crisis goes on, the more recyclable material will end up in landfill, and the more Victorian councils will have to pay the State Government through the landfill levy.”

Recycling from Darebin households was sent to landfill for four and a half weeks in February and March this year, when the EPA found the SKM sites to breach of safety requirements. This not only resulted in valuable recyclable material being landfilled but cost the Darebin community an extra $87,000 - of which $65,000 was paid to the State Government landfill levies.

Media release: 26 July 2019

Darebin is a step closer to becoming an Age Friendly City after adopting a major report into how Council can better support older members of our community.

Council commissioned the Age Friendly Darebin Review in May last year in response to the Federal Government’s planned changes to Commonwealth Home Support Program funding. Since then, in response to lobbying from Darebin Council and others, the Federal Government extended current funding arrangements of home support services until June 2022. The independent panel appointed to conduct the review, Dr Rhonda Galbally AC and Peter Allen, have now finalised their report and presented it to Council.

The Age Friendly Darebin Review’s 98 recommendations (the majority of which were accepted by Council at a meeting on 22 July) will see many new initiatives implemented, new and improved services, increased advocacy, and Age Friendly principles embedded in Council’s plans and strategies.

Some of the major new services and initiatives recommended include an innovative service to assist older people to navigate the complexities and challenges of the national My Aged Care system, and a new volunteer program to address social isolation.

The report also recommends a new gardening service to assist older people to maintain their gardens or lawns, via a volunteer program or another service model, subject to a future report for consideration by Council.

A new Service Improvement Plan will make additions and improvements to existing Council aged care services to better address social isolation and promote independence and inclusion. This will include trialling the provision of services to people receiving Home Care Packages.

A Senior Citizens Groups Action Plan will also be prepared to consider future funding and infrastructure needs for senior citizens groups.

Several Age Friendly recommendations suggest inclusion of older people in the planning and review of Council approaches through co-design. The Participatory Information Project is one way that older people will be able to influence Council communications so that they better align with their needs and preferences.

Over 1,000 people participated in the first-round consultation for the review, with 773 people providing feedback which was used to inform the independent panel as they were making their recommendations.

Does Council Care convenor Robin Vote said she was “very pleased” with the outcome of the review.

“Does Council Care is totally supportive of the whole report and its recommendations. We’re particularly interested in the range of pilot projects which will be implemented, and wish to congratulate all the staff involved,” Ms Vote said.

Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said the Council would seek to make services and programs more readily available to older members of the community.

“This extensive review into aged care services in Darebin will transform the way we support and involve older people in our community. We will implement new services, improve our existing services, so that older people live their lives well, are healthy and socially connected, and live independently within our own community,” Cr Rennie said.

“I would like to thank our distinguished panel, Dr Rhonda Galbally AC and Peter Allen, for their contribution. I look forward to seeing Council implement as many of their findings as possible.”

To read the full report and 98 recommendations, please visit

Media release: 24 July 2019

The Darebin community will be given a final chance to give their feedback on Breathing Space: The Darebin Open Space Strategy before Councillors consider endorsing it.

The comprehensive strategy has been developed through two rounds of community engagement with a wide range of individuals, groups and organisations. Council gathered feedback from the community regarding their vision for open spaces in Darebin in March last year, with the initial draft Open Space Strategy released for further public consultation in November. Now the public can have their say on the final draft of the Breathing Space: The Darebin Open Space Strategy.

In previous rounds of engagement, local people indicated how important open space is to their health, wellbeing, sense of connection and quality of life.  There was overwhelming support for the idea of more and better open space, greening of local streets and for better protections for local biodiversity under threat.  

Darebin is a rapidly growing part of Melbourne with pockets of significant open space such as Bundoora Park, the Darebin Parklands and Edwardes Lake. However, not all Darebin residents have quality open spaces within walking distance from where they live. Breathing Space: The Darebin Open Space Strategy sets a target that all Darebin residents should live within 500 metres of quality open space.

Should the strategy be endorsed, it will outline several actions Council could take to improve not only the quantity of open space, but also the quality of open space in Darebin, helping Council plan for the projected population increase while also ensuring that quality of life is protected.

“Open space is vital to how we live, work and play in Darebin, so it’s important to look at ways we can maximise the space we’ve already got while exploring new ways in how to create more. I encourage everyone to have a read of Breathing Space: The Darebin Open Space Strategy and provide their feedback,” Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said.

The community has until 13 August to provide feedback on the draft strategy via the You Say Darebin webpage.

To read the draft copy of Breathing Space: The Darebin Open Space Strategy and to have your say in the final round of consultation, please visit

Media release: 24 July 2019

Dozens of outstanding initiatives and services have received funding from Darebin Council, following the announcement of recipients for the 2019 Community Grants program.

In total, 100 projects have been funded, sharing in $749,000, including 17 three-year partnership grants. In addition, 52 groups and organisations have received almost $100,000 of in-kind venue hire.

“Darebin Council is very committed to funding community groups and projects. The extraordinary projects that will be funded by these grants will make life easier for many in our community, open pathways for those who are disadvantaged, and help make Darebin a greener, bolder, and more connected city,” Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said.

“These grants reflect our diverse community, with significant funding going to multicultural organisations and programs. There are also grants to environmental groups and cultural organisations. Congratulations to all of those who were successful in their applications.”

Earlier this year Council changed its Community Grants Program to ensure all community groups across Darebin had a chance to apply for funding. As a result, Council boosted its grants pool by $172,861. Council is providing more small and medium grants than ever before to improve equality, include those who are marginalised or disadvantaged, support community actions to address the climate emergency, and to further develop Darebin’s thriving arts scene. For the first time the three-year partnership grants were assessed by an expert independent panel.

Council received an enormous number of high-quality applications for this year’s program, particularly in the three-year partnership grants with almost $2 million requested by 57 organisations. 

Some of the great projects funded in this year’s Community Grants Program include a social meals programs for older adults, a community garden at Oakhill Kindergarten, a Muslim women’s leadership project, a youth legal outreach service, as well as new and expanded programs from Action on Disability in Ethnic Communities.

One of the other projects funded is the Koori Youth Circus, which will be run by Circus Oz in partnership with MAYSAR (Melbourne Aboriginal Youth Sport & Recreation), and will receive $44,700 from Council for three years. Circus Oz General Manager Tahlia Azaria said the program will build a pipeline of young talented Indigenous performers.

“This three-year partnership with the City of Darebin will give our Koori Youth Circus program the space to further grow and develop. A greater number of young Koori youth will be able to freely access this supportive, welcoming environment where they will learn circus skills that will help to build their confidence and sense of belonging not only to the community of Darebin, but also to the wider circus and arts community,” Ms Azaria said.

Another project funded is the Islamic Museum of Australia’s Muslim Youth Network which will receive $25,000 for three years to give young Muslims a voice and sense of empowerment to create their own identity as Australian Muslims. General Manager Maryum Chaudhry said it was “wonderful” to have the City of Darebin support their initiative.

“The grant enables us to continue our work with young Muslims by offering workshops to support personal and professional growth. Critically, the program also provides a platform for them to have a voice in the local community. The support from Darebin clearly signals Council’s genuine and ongoing commitment to empowering young people, our future leaders,” Ms Chaudhry said.

Good Samaritan Executive Director Felicity Rorke said the $50,000 it will receive for the next three years will go towards creating a cleaning social enterprise to train and employ women who have experienced family violence.

“We are delighted to partner with the City of Darebin to deliver our social enterprise which we believe will enable women who have experienced family violence and homelessness to re-enter the workforce and continue their journey towards self-sufficiency. We are thankful for the council's vision to support our community towards sustainable community impact,” Ms Rorke said.

While Council is pleased to have funded many great programs and initiatives, unfortunately some projects and groups with great ideas missed out on funding. We will continue to offer other forms of support to non funded community groups, including office space or venue hire where possible and information about other funding opportunities that may help them continue their valued work in the community.

The 2019 Community Grants Program is being delivered alongside the $265,000 of community submissions which were funded in this year’s Darebin Annual Budget.

For more information on the successful grants please visit

Media release: 16 July 2019

Darebin Council is adding its voice to the chorus of other leading local government organisations like the Municipal Association of Victoria and the Victorian Local Governance Association in urging the State Government to reconsider its proposed reforms to the Local Government Bill 2018.

Darebin Council will write to Victorian Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek to express its deep concerns regarding the significant changes to the Local Government Bill 2018 which were announced last month. At a Special Council Meeting on Monday, 8 July, Councillors discussed the State Government’s proposed changes, the lack of consultation, and the unreasonably short deadline to provide feedback on the significant reforms.

Council has particular concerns with the proposed standardised electoral structure of single-member wards for all Councils, and the introduction of a petition process requiring 25 per cent of voters to dismiss a Councillor.

“Council finds it particularly difficult to understand the State’s rationale in moving all Councils to a single-member ward structure. Darebin does not believe this leads to greater community representation,” Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said.

“Of the past 12 Victorian Electoral Commission local government representation reviews, only one recommended a council continue using the single-member ward structure. The application of a blanket approach across all Councils does not allow for the consideration of factors that are specific to each municipality, and this has the potential to impact on the fair and equitable representation of voters.”

For the City of Darebin, the last VEC representation review in 2007 recommended that Darebin Council move away from single-member wards to the current structure of three three-member wards in order to provide the community better representation. This review was conducted by experts in voter representation and informed by public submissions. 

Darebin also has serious concerns that the move to single-member wards will have a detrimental impact on the diversity of people elected to Councils, such as the representation of women. Victorian Councils with the three three-member wards structure saw women elected at a rate of 43.9 per cent, while Councils made of up of single-member wards saw women elected at a rate of just 33.9 per cent. This is a stark difference. 

Single-member wards result in poor outcomes on other levels too. There are currently 59 single-member wards in the eight Councils with this structure. Of those wards, 16 were uncontested in the 2016 council elections, meaning there was no choice of alternative candidate for the people of those communities.

“The Minister must explain how these proposed changes will lead to better community representation, when the available evidence would appear otherwise,” Cr Rennie said.

Council also finds the proposed petition process for a community-initiated Commission of Inquiry problematic. The process to attain support from 25 per cent of voters is onerous, while the dismissal of a democratically elected official is a serious issue and should be one which sits with the Minister.

As the State Government’s proposed changes were announced without warning and with only one month provided for feedback, the City of Darebin strongly urges the Minister to extend the consultation period and to outline what the new Bill will look like and what ramifications it has for Councils.
Media release: 10 July 2019

Darebin Council has adopted a new set of built form guidelines for Fairfield Village which, if approved by the Minister for Planning, will safeguard the community village feel of the area. These guidelines would protect heritage buildings and ensure future development in the area is done responsibly with respect to the Fairfield Village character.

Darebin Council adopted the Planning Scheme Amendment C161 at its June 24 Council meeting.

Fairfield Village is known for its distinct local village feel which comes from its accessibility, strong local business presence, the low-scale character of its traditional buildings, and its open space areas, especially around the railway station reserve. Importantly, the precinct also provides a strong sense of community for local residents.

 “These guidelines will maintain the integrity of Fairfield Village for years to come. This is a great outcome for residents, traders, and visitors to the precinct. I’d like to thank all those who engaged with Council over the years to help get us to this point – your submissions have helped protect the Fairfield Village we all know and love,” Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said.

The next step is that Darebin will request the Planning Minister to formally incorporate Amendment C161 into the Darebin Planning Scheme.  

The Planning Scheme Amendment proposes to introduce a Heritage Overlay and a Design and Development Overlay to guide high quality development and to protect the heritage buildings within the Fairfield Village Activity Centre. The Fairfield Village Activity Centre includes parts of Station Street, Wingrove Street and Railway Place.

For more information on Planning Scheme Amendment C161, please visit
Media release: 8 July 2019

Darebin Council has announced it will soon begin two pilot programs to make it easier for people experiencing homelessness to access housing and wellbeing services.

For many people experiencing homelessness, it can be challenging to bridge the gap between them and a homelessness service. In recognition of this, Council will fund a two-year assertive outreach program to help join the dots. As the Council for Homeless Persons describes it, “Assertive outreach is a persistent and purposeful approach used with people who do not present to, and/or have difficulties engaging with, housing, homelessness or health services. For example, engaging and delivering services to people who are sleeping rough, or living in rooming houses, squats or caravan parks.”

A specialist worker will visit and respond to individuals sleeping rough to connect them to services they need, including housing and healthcare. An outreach service seeks to address both the immediate wellbeing needs of the person, while also seeking to facilitate longer term, safe housing outcomes.

Council will undertake an expression of interest process to appoint and fund a homelessness service provider to deliver the assertive outreach program. It’s expected the outreach pilot program will commence later this year, and will cost $210,000 per year ($157,000 of which has been included in the 2019/20 Council Budget).

Council will also pilot a six-month shower access program for people experiencing homelessness to use at Reservoir Leisure Centre, and, subject to agreement with the YMCA as the operator, the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre. Council is currently developing the program structure, procedures and referral processes, and will work closely with the homelessness and emergency relief sector to consider all aspects required to ensure the program is a success.

“Homelessness is a significant and complex issue that cannot be resolved solely through the interventions of local government, but Council can play a role by supporting the homelessness sector respond to identified gaps,” Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said.

“Within the municipality of Darebin, there has been an increase in the number of people sleeping rough in the last four years. There is also an unknown number of women and children living in emergency accommodation such as refuges, and short stay hotel rooms to escape family violence. Our new programs will offer some relief and help those experiencing homelessness to access the services they need.”

Homelessness has complex and diverse origins. Many people who become homeless have experienced serious disadvantage throughout their lives. 

Family violence is the single biggest cause of homelessness in Victoria and Australia. 42 per cent of homeless Victorians said they were homeless due to family violence, while a further 39 per cent said they were homeless due to financial hardship or housing issues. 

The 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census noted there are 972 people in Darebin experiencing homelessness, with 80 of these being rough sleepers. 
Media release: 8 July 2019

Darebin Council adopted its Annual Budget for the 2019–20 financial year at the Council meeting held on Monday, 24 June. The Budget contains all of the projects which will be funded by Council over the next 12 months.

The Budget included funding for a whole host of exciting new initiatives as well as continuing Council’s core services. Some of the highlights of the Budget include employing an Aboriginal maternal and child health nurse, commencing construction on the multi-sports stadium at John Cain Memorial Reserve, a refurbishment of the Edwardes Lake Park athletics track, planning for works to upgrade Reservoir Leisure Centre and Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre, and a new homelessness outreach pilot program.

The Budget also sees the delivery of the construction of six new play spaces, provide support for our older community, ongoing renewal of footpaths and shared paths, planting new trees right across the municipality, continuing efforts to double the amount of solar power generated in Darebin, and completion of the Merri Creek pedestrian bridge at Beavers Road.

Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie said the Annual Budget would allow Council to continue providing valuable resources, assets and services to more than 160,000 people who call Darebin home.

“Darebin is a great place to live and work, and thousands more people make it their home every year,” Mayor Rennie said.

“This growing population puts additional pressure on Council services such as maternal and child health, leisure facilities, parks, libraries, roads, recycling and waste services. With this in mind, we will continue to invest in the infrastructure we need to ensure we thrive, live sustainably and build better connections between people.”

Council received 85 community submissions on the Budget supporting over 180 initiatives and projects, many of which were included in the final Budget passed by Councillors. These initiatives include the recruitment of a biodiversity officer, upgrades to Keon Park and H.P. Zwar Park, investigating the works required to upgrade the skate park at Edwardes Lake Park, and an outreach partnership program for children and youth.

“Thank you to everyone in the community who put forward their brilliant submissions for this Budget. Your feedback really helped us and many suggestions were taken on board by Council and have been funded in this Budget,” Mayor Rennie said.

The Darebin Annual Budget 2019-20 can be viewed online.

Media release: 27 June 2019


Ten iconic Darebin landmarks have been lovingly recognised in This Place 2019 by some of our most creative residents. Now in its third year, This Place 2019 celebrates all that is great about our where we live.

The project randomly pairs a talented and artistic local with a famous Darebin location. The artist is given five weeks to create a piece of work that shines a new light on some iconic places in the Darebin area. The ten new works, inspired by place, shed a new perspective on the fabulous and forgotten places in Darebin. Who better to do this than the artists, writers and creators who call this place home.

The commissioned artists and writers for This Place 2019 were:

  • Emeritus Professor, Latrobe University, Judith Brett
  • Photographer, David Wadelton
  • Comedian and writer, Kate McLennan
  • Poet, Luke Beesley
  • Singer and songwriter, Charles Jenkins
  • Writer, Larissa Dubecki
  • Writer, Maryrose Cuskelly
  • Playwright, Angus Cerini
  • Visual artist, Warren Crossett
  • Writer and podcaster, Katherine Collette

The This Place 2019 artists buried themselves in local history, stories, folklore and interviews to research the Darebin neighbourhood we all know and love.

The places they used as inspiration for This Place 2019 were Separation St, The Nest in Darebin Parklands, Mount Cooper in Bundoora, Edgars Creek, Broadway in Reservoir, a piece from the Darebin Arts collection, Bell St, The Plaza Theatre, Arts Projects Australia, and the cannons in Westgarth.

“We all love living in Darebin, and This Place breathes life into some of the forgotten locations in our neighbourhood. I’d like to thank all the artists who were able to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences about these iconic Darebin landmarks,” Darebin Mayor Cr Susan Rennie said.

Each of the newly created works can now be read, heard and seen on the Darebin Arts website.

Media release: 27 June 2019

An innovative product that allows wheelchair users to head off road and to the beach has won the $20,000 grand prize in Darebin City Council’s annual competition Pitch It.

The competition gives local students, entrepreneurs, businesses, not-for-profits and social enterprises the opportunity to create and scale new and innovative socially focused ventures in areas such as sustainability, equity, inclusion, diversity or health and wellbeing.

Five local start-up businesses, out of a total of more than 40 entries, had 10 minutes to pitch their business idea to win the top prize.

The grand prize winners were the team behind Gecko Traxx – an innovative, portable and affordable wheelchair accessory which enables off-road terrain and beach accessibility for manual wheelchair users.

Gecko Traxx co-founder Ryan Tilley said the $20,000 grand prize will allow him to scale up his business, taking the prototypes from his garage to a factory production line and into the hands of customers.

With a background in industrial design and mechanical engineering, Ryan started his career in furniture making, before realising that he could be “doing so much more with my skills than designing pretty objects.”

Working with Gecko Traxx co-founder, social entrepreneur and wheelchair user Huy Nguyen, the pair has solved Huy’s need for a portable way to access the beach.

“Pitch It for us was about the networks you gain from meeting all these amazing people during the accelerator program – the other teams, but also mentors and facilitators. That’s what provides the most value. It was great to get another set of eyes and thinking on what we’re doing.”

The four other finalists were Silfresh Sustainable Packaging, Helios Health Systems, Mums on the Move, and The Sharing Tree.

Darebin City Council Mayor Susan Rennie said Council is proud to have run Pitch It for the past three years to help foster an environment where diverse businesses and industries can thrive.

“Entrepreneurial start-ups have the potential to become the major employers of the future and to improve our way of life. All of the top five businesses are an example of this, and I congratulate Gecko Traxx for taking out the top prize on the night.”

Media release: 17 June


Tonight Darebin Council voted unanimously to withdraw its draft Parking Strategy which was released for community feedback in May.

Darebin Council Mayor, Susan Rennie said “Darebin Council strongly believes that community input is critical to good decision making, and we know our community shares our commitment to tackling complex issues.”

“The decision not to proceed with the strategy is a clear demonstration that this Council will always listen to our community and respond to their feedback.”

As a result of the decision not to proceed, the focus groups that had been scheduled this week have been cancelled. In addition, the meeting scheduled for 20 June to hear community submissions will not go ahead. Everyone who has registered to attend will be notified directly this week.

Darebin Council Mayor, Susan Rennie said “On behalf of the Council, I would like to sincerely thank everyone in our community who took the time to share their views. We hope you will continue to engage with other Council projects as they a