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Opportunity for increased participation by councils in recovery planning

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Victoria’s re-opening and recovery, following the COVID-19 pandemic, will be the top priority of the Municipal Association of Victoria’s newly appointed interim President, Cr Josh Gilligan.

The MAV Board elected Cr Josh Gilligan, representing Wyndham City Council, to the position vacated by the former President, Boroondara’s Cr Coral Ross, who retired at the recent local government elections on Friday.

Cr Josh Gilligan was first elected to Wyndham City Council in 2016, where he served as Mayor for the 2019/2020 term.  At 26 years of age Cr Gilligan was the youngest person to be elected Mayor in Wyndham’s history. Cr Gilligan has served as a board member of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) since 2017, representing six councils in Melbourne’s West.

Cr Gilligan thanked Cr Ross for her leadership during her two years as MAV Board President, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and her contribution to local government over 18 years as a councillor.

“It is an honour to be elected as the Interim President by my fellow Board members,” Cr Gilligan said.

“It goes without saying that this year has provided many challenges, and the year ahead provides opportunities for all levels of government to come together to support the community and businesses as they move forward.”

Cr Gilligan continued to say they were proud of the work of councils across Victoria, who have adapted and innovated service delivery models in response to the pandemic.

“Councils have shown their commitment to helping communities stay connected and supported, recognising the likely economic impacts of the pandemic on businesses and households,” Cr Gilligan said.

“In fact, they have led the way in offering fee waivers, refunds and reductions, relaxing enforcement of infringements, reducing or waiving rent for council facility tenants, and promoting financial hardship policies.”

Cr Gilligan added that councils have also announced multi-million-dollar support packages for local businesses and implemented a range of practical support measures including facilitation of online training and networking opportunities and development of “shop / support local” campaigns.

“Efforts to streamline regulatory activities and fast-track approval processes, including the activation of street frontages and parklets for outdoor dining, have been well-received by the business community,” Cr Gilligan said

“It has been especially heartening to see the development of campaigns and platforms to share stories of positivity, resilience, community spirit and kindness, councils remain committed to working with and looking after our communities.

“However, like many businesses and organisations, Victorian councils have suffered sizeable loss of revenue through the mandated closure of facilities.”

Cr Gilligan explained the Victorian local government sector is anticipating sustained financial challenges ahead as their residents and businesses seek to recover from the pandemic.

“The State Government’s Budget announcement on Tuesday is a significant opportunity for closer collaboration and coordination between the State Government and Victoria’s councils as we recover from the impact of COVID-19,” Cr Gilligan said.

“The Working for Victoria program is an example of positive engagement between the State Government and councils.

“We believe there is also opportunity for increased participation by councils in recovery planning to ensure better outcomes for communities and local businesses. This will be especially important in tackling the projected increases in the number of vulnerable and at-risk community members over coming years.

For further information, contact the MAV Communications Unit on (03) 9667 5590.