Thank you Waverley

22 October 2021

As Waverley Council prepares to enter caretaker mode on 24 October ahead of the NSW Local Government elections on Saturday, 4 December, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Waverley community for supporting me during my two years as Mayor.

It has been an honour representing our community during these unprecedented times, and working alongside our dedicated Council officers and community groups and leaders to help make Waverley an even better place to live, work, visit and do business.

In spite of the pandemic, Council is delivering the biggest capital works program in Waverley’s history including the restoration of the iconic Bondi Pavilion and the Boot Factory building, and much-needed upgrades to our local parks and playgrounds area – all with a balanced budget.

We are committed to supporting our resilient community during this period of recovery and are continuing to help keep our community safe.

We have celebrated many milestones at Council in the last two years, and some of my proudest moments include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • announcing a net zero carbon emissions target for Council by 2030
  • our COVID-19 support measures including managing our public spaces during the pandemic and supporting our most vulnerable community members and businesses
  • fighting over development
  • the Bondi Pavilion restoration
  • helping St Vincent’s Health Care establish one of Australia’s busiest drive-through testing clinics at Bondi Beach
  • inaugural forums for innovation, the LGBTQ+ community and Youth
  • taking a stand against the NSW government’s plans to control the funds for our local infrastructure. We don’t want the government to siphon developer contributions away from Councils and into a regional fund, with no clear accountability or transparency of how it will be spent. Councils use these contributions to help pay for local infrastructure projects such as playgrounds, sports fields, libraries and parks
  • street closures to allow for street play and community connectedness
  • completion of the missing Coastal Walk link at Bronte Cutting making it much safer for pedestrians
  • Increased greening of our suburbs including planting of verge gardens
  • The Bondi Memorial.

I believe that local government is purest form of representative democracy, where our decisions can have immediate and impactful outcomes on our community, and that’s why I stood for election as Councillor nine years ago.

Councillors are readily held to account by constituents as we live and move about within our community on a daily basis. The most valuable part of the role has been the local relationships formed and the trust that comes with those.

COVID has certainly been a key focus during my Mayoralty and the Council has supported our community and local business with a COVID support package while keeping our staff employed.

Our response to the COVID-safe management of outdoor public spaces saw me announce in March 2020 that Council was closing Bondi Beach for the first time since World War II.  That was a day I- and many others- will never forget!

Each day I bear witness to acts of kindness, activism and bravery that remind me how fortunate we are to live in such a wonderful community. I could give so many examples, but I will leave you with one –a conversation I heard recently at Marks Park, Tamarama.

A father and his daughter- she was about six years-old- stopped to look at The Bondi Memorial and the girl asked her Dad what it was all about.

After reading the inscription about the art work, the Dad explained that “bad things happened to some people here just because they were different and this was built in their honour”. The little girl gave her Dad a confused look and asked “what’s wrong with being different?”.

The father replied: “Nothing is wrong with being different. We are all different in our own ways. We just need to be respectful towards one another”. The young girl smiled, took a closer look at the sculpture, and then they continued on their way.

That simple but profoundly meaningful exchange between a parent and their child is representative of the values I see in our residents and it gives me hope that as a community we are on the right track and should continually strive to improve.

Our Council is focused on making Waverley a vibrant, sustainable, thriving, innovative and safe place for our current and future generations, and I look forward to being a part of that.

Lastly, I want to commend our General Manager, Emily Scott, and all our officers at Council for their hard work and commitment during the pandemic. Through your efforts, we have continued to provide essential services to our community during these challenging past 18 months. I appreciate that it hasn’t been easy and has put pressure on your own families. Please know though that your hard work and dedicated is appreciated now more than ever.

So to everyone in Waverley – from my family to yours: thank you again, and continue to stay safe and well.

Paula Masselos, Mayor of Waverley