Outer Suburban/Interface Services and Development Committee: livability options in outer suburban Melbourne

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — It is a pleasure today to speak on the penultimate report from the now disbanded Outer Suburban/Interface Services and Development Committee entitled Inquiry into Livability Options in Outer Suburban Melbourne.

As former deputy chair of that committee, I put on record again my thanks for the hard work of all the committee’s members from both sides of the house. I urge the government to take up some of the recommendations and findings that are in the reports tabled by
this committee even though the committee has been disbanded. I ask the government not to simply put these reports on the shelf but to take action on them.

I take this opportunity to speak on chapter 5 of the report, entitled ‘Community cohesion’, and specifically on section 5.5.4, ‘Arts culture’, because is an area about which I feel strongly. I know it is an area in which something needs to be done. Both sides of Parliament have made a series of recommendations that reflect my concerns, the committee’s concerns and the need for immediate action. I point members to recommendations 5.8 and 5.9 specifically.

Let me set the scene. The report provides evidence that indicates that large numbers of young people in the outer suburbs do not perceive there to be adequate opportunities to get involved in the arts. In fact the opportunity to participate in arts locally is significantly lower in many interface councils than is the case for greater Melbourne. The interface
councils’ submission stated that cultural centres and performing arts facilities were desperately needed in the outer suburbs.

The chair of the committee was aghast when it was related at one of the public hearings that there is no public art gallery in the city of Casey. Earlier this year I attended the Berwick Artists Society arts fest. I am proud to be patron of that organisation. It was a terrific night. There was lots of art on display. The artists were delighted with the
evening, and they were justly proud of their work. It happened at the Akoonah Park showgrounds in Berwick. It is a nice facility and was dressed up wonderfully, but it is not an art gallery. The artists, who are of a high calibre, deserve recognition and to be able to show their artwork in a purpose-built facility.

I am fully behind the campaign to make sure that the City of Casey includes a quality art gallery space as part of its future civic precinct. I know the shadow Minister for Local Government, the member for Richmond, who has appeared in the house, was out in Casey just last week and was, I think, briefed on its project.

I think most people are very interested to hear what the government thinks about it and hope it will contribute financially to what is a very large undertaking by the City of Casey. It is also a very worthwhile project. As our report shows, there was some work done by Dr Kevin Johnson in 2009 indicating that:

… inner metropolitan councils spend almost twice as much per head of population on arts and culture than outer metropolitan councils … However, there is substantial evidence that art and culture has a positive impact on a number of wellbeing indicators, and therefore on livability.

High levels of interest in the arts and relatively low levels of arts expenditure indicate that there is a need for greater investment in artistic and cultural pursuits in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.

My request is that the government takes the findings and the recommendations of this report, which, as I said and would like to emphasise, both sides of the house supported, and that it thinks seriously about what is happening in the city of Casey in terms of the lack of arts and culture facilities — and this is mirrored all the way along the outer suburbs of Melbourne, and I am sure other councils would like to make a pitch to ministers in the government as well — and about providing a funding commitment for a new arts and cultural precinct in the city of Casey. The people of the outer suburbs and of the south-east deserve nothing less than to have what the rest of Melbourne has. We do not want two Melbournes; we want one.