Bendigo is just entering its third renaissance… first we had the gold rush in the 1850s, then we had the Bendigo Mutual Permanent Land and Building Society which evolved into Bendigo Bank and now we have the new Bendigo Hospital which will open in January 2017, and will be up there with the world’s best. It will service regional communities from as far away as Woodend to Mildura and beyond. Ultimately it will employ a further 1000 specialised staff and provide many services.
Diversity has been the hallmark of our growth, firstly with the Chinese who settled in Bendigo during the goldrush days. They have been, and continue to be, an important cultural part of our community. Then followed Greek and Italian migrants after mass migration from Europe and again they made a major contribution to this city’s well-being.
Over the past two decades Bendigo has become a multi-cultural community and sometime in the near future we will have a brand new mosque which has unfortunately been a divisive issue. But we now are a city of diversity which we should embrace as that is the way of the future.
Bendigo is now entering another important stage in its ever-evolving development with City of Greater Bendigo council elections coming up in October.
Bendigo has been well served in the past by citizens offering themselves for altruistic service and helping to build a better community. Unfortunately, the current council has at times been divided. There is nothing wrong with differing opinions but their ultimate goal should be for the betterment of the community. Sometimes that has been lost with personal recriminations.
It is so important we get the best citizens to offer themselves to continue the vision of Bendigo being the most liveable city in regional Australia. We have come of age over the past 10 years with arts, culture and events, as well as with economic development, tourism, transport and links with La Trobe University.
And of course we have some of the best medical services provided by Bendigo Health, St John of God hospitals and the day surgery. Some of the best education facilities are available with Bendigo Senior Secondary College and the private colleges providing an array of courses.
One of the crowning glories has been the Ulumbarra Theatre with more than 115,000 people attending the venue during the first 12 months. The Capital Theatre and art gallery continue to have record crowds. The re-development of the Bendigo Airport, along with the new proposed Kangaroo Flat aquatic centre, are some of the big major ticket items.
Another big industry that provides extensive employment and economic development is real estate, housing and subdivisions. We are now seeing some very innovative sustainable ideas being introduced. Another great council initiative is the 10 minute neighbourhood along with an aim of having a rail, bus and bike network to try and do away with the reliance on cars.
Through my involvement in Bendigo IPTV’s Pointy End program I have been lucky to interview many of Bendigo’s best thinkers and unsung heroes who go under the radar.
We have some fantastic groups who have rightly identified the environment as one of the key issues for our future and Bendigo Sustainability Group is one such organisation that has a proper plan for our future. Coliban Water, with the introduction of the super pipe, has also set Bendigo’s water security up provided we value that resource. We need to change our attitude that we are owed something by governments and councils, but that is not the way modern societies operate.
Bendigo is lucky as generally it is a caring and sharing community, and we could not operate without the generous volunteers whether at hospitals, aged care facilities or events run by many groups or organisations. It is those people that contribute to the wellbeing of our community and make us the most liveable city.
Finally, I would like to propose for consideration by council that part of Rosalind Park be set aside for a picnic area with table and chairs and electric barbecue facilities and it be named in the honour of former Bendigo identity, councillor and mayor, the late Daryl McClure. He was a passionate supporter of the park and at all times tried to protect it from further encroachment.
My other request and hope is that some sort of youth citizenship or similar award be set up in honour of the late Phil Lazenby. Phil is another unsung hero who gave his all for the betterment of not only youth and music but has helped countless people along their journey. His work should not go unrecognised.