Community volunteer deserves reward not censure

Angela Dunlop’s contribution to South Golden Beach (SGB) has been wide ranging and significant. As a longstanding member of SGB community hall management committee, she was the driving force behind the recent hall renovations – pushing the project along at every level for many years.

To describe Angela’s role as ‘tasked with helping the recent SGB hall renovations’ (13/1/16) fails to encompass the vital job undertaken by this unpaid, undervalued volunteer in getting the project off the ground, in developing plans, her push for funding and through Byron Shire Council’s intricate planning and deliberations processes, and the eternal vigilance, keeping an eye on schedules, implementation and sites works.

When council failed to provide essential information (i.e. starting date for the proposed works) after repeated requests, Angela went directly to the source, the building contractor, to enable effective management of hall bookings.

Byron Council’s GM Ken Gainger gives no explanation for why he decided to ‘censure’ Ms Dunlop for this rather trivial ‘breach’ to the code of conduct – when his staff was unable to provide the necessary information to SGB management committee in a timely manner.

While council claims Ms Dunlop’s efforts and contributions were ‘greatly appreciated and acknowledged’, it appears she was treated in a very shabby and disrespectful manner by the GM.

Community consultation and participation is far more than a box-ticking exercise, we demand the right to be involved in the spending of our public funds and the development and implementation of worthwhile projects in our communities.

Council’s GM may feel threatened by the talents, skills, expertise and commitment of voluntary workers, but I can assure the GM we are far from impressed by the ineptitude and non-performance of council staff.

It is increasingly difficult to find volunteers willing to do anything – and who can blame them, when instead of being honoured, thanked and rewarded by council, Ms Dunlop was censured for her vital role in overseeing the renovation of SGB community hall.

Michele Grant, Ocean Shores

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