City of Whittlesea releases performance report after first full year under panel of administrators

City of Whittlesea administrator chair Lydia Wilson.

The City of Whittlesea has released its 2020-21 annual report detailing its performance during the first full year under the leadership of a panel of administrators.

As a local government requirement, the annual report provides the community with an overview of council’s achievements during the 2020-2021 financial year, reported against each council goal and its annual budget.

This year council has delivered a number of infrastructure projects, upgrades and initiatives within its budget allocation, as well as responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with financial support for businesses and community organisations.

In 2020-21 council allocated $54 million to its new works program, which included more than 133 projects to build and upgrade community centres, sporting fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, roads, bike paths and footpaths across the municipality.

It also completed the $25 million redevelopment of Mill Park Leisure, introduced an opt-in food and garden organics waste recycling service, resulting in a 16 per cent increase in the diversion of food and garden waste from landfill, and implemented a new online planning portal, allowing people to manage their planning applications from start to finish in the one location, as well as receive real-time application status updates.

Council’s $2 million COVID-19 recovery program includes $400,000 to community organisations for emergency relief and $400,000 for a ‘support local’ campaign and incentive program to help businesses.

At the most recent council meeting, chair administrator Lydia Wilson said while the pandemic had a significant impact on the community, the City of Whittlesea had been able to adapt and deliver important services.

“I’m immensely proud of the amazing work undertaken by our staff, and particularly given a period of enormous instability and turbulence associated with the pandemic,” she said.

“It’s been a constant process of flux and this has obviously not been easy.

“Our residents, service providers, local business and the staff at the City of Whittlesea have all responded and adapted … and I feel privileged to be representing this community.”

Council has also successfully advocated for several community support initiatives this year, including the inaugural Whittlesea youth advisory committee; a headspace satellite service for youth mental health at the Baseline for Young People facility; and an international student wellbeing hub. Council also received an Orange Door Access point, a key family violence support service.

“We have continued to develop strong strategic partnerships and advocate to all levels of government about the issues that matter to our community,” Ms Wilson said.

She said with a growing population, council would continue to focus on improving customer service, working to make it easier for the community to interact with council and share issues that matter to them.

The report also provides a snapshot of the municipality’s community, which saw a three per cent population growth this year, with Mill Park the biggest suburb and Whittlesea township the smallest.

A total of 44 per cent of residents speak a language other and English at home, while 35 per cent were born overseas.

The median age of the city is 34, with 60 babies born every week.

The full annual report is available to read at report.