By Steph McNicol
KILMORE resident Louise Bannister hopes to bring her community engagement skills to the table when she stands in Mitchell Shire Council’s election in October.
Having grown up on a farm near Seymour, Ms Bannister said she was an active member of the community.
She hopes her love for the country lifestyle will help her connect with the Mitchell Shire community before she enters the election period.
“I have many wonderful childhood memories of reading in the Seymour library, Saturday mornings participating in little athletics, playing netball in the leisure centre gym and frequenting the local shops and cafes,” Ms Bannister said.
“As such I appreciate the unique lifestyle that rural councils have to offer and have a great love for rural areas.
“I later lived in Melbourne, while attending University of Melbourne, and after graduating moved back to the country with my partner Patrick.”
Ms Bannister said it was her love for the country-side and regional towns that brought her back to the Mitchell Shire, where she hoped to raise a family.
“We chose to live in Mitchell Shire, in the township of Kilmore because we loved the sense of history, amazing scenery, quaint cafes and shops and relaxed country feel,” she said.
“We enjoy living in this friendly community and are excited to be starting our family here with our first child due in July.”
Beginning her election campaign will mean Ms Bannister will interact with the community to find out which issues are important for individual residents and community groups.
With her wealth of knowledge in community engagement, and her involvement in the shire, Ms Bannister wants to demonstrate the importance of regional communities through her leadership.
“I have valuable knowledge and experience in the public sector working as the Broadford Living and Learning Centre co-ordinator, the research, advocacy and partnerships officer for Mitchell Shire and as the community engagement advisor at the City of Whittlesea,” she said.
“In my role at Mitchell Shire I learnt about a variety of projects and services that happen across the shire, and gained valuable insight into how different departments work and their relationship with community.
“As a country girl I have an avid interest in preserving and maintaining the community spirit and support that rural councils facilitate.
“I believe country communities are built on the foundation of community groups, local sports clubs and local businesses.
“Therefore, it is imperative to support these organisations in order to optimise the social connections and the health and wellbeing of our country towns and surrounds.”
Ms Bannister said a good community leader was someone who led with the ‘greater good of the community in mind’.
“They must have strong communication skills to understand the issues most relevant to community, empathy and understanding of the different experiences people have as well as vision and purpose to consider current as well as future issues when making decisions,” she said.
“In addition, they must be able to communicate limitations and compromise effectively. I hope to bring these qualities to Mitchell Shire with my experience growing up in a rural area, my studies in communications as well as my knowledge from working for the public sector.”