Wednesday, 1 October 2014
Spirit of Doveton
Tonight I want to talk about the comment on the pride of the suburb called Doveton. In a recent article in that most excellent paper, the Berwick News, a former Doveton resident—and author, apparently—stated that he was 'shocked by the deterioration' of Doveton. I understand that the individual will be writing a book tracing this decline in a version of the suburb that he remembered.
At a recent event in Doveton, the Doveton Show, I spoke about this assessment of Doveton and my view that this individual's view was incorrect at best and fundamentally destructive and wanton at worst. It is wanton and destructive because this individual has never been seen, other than in a photo, around the streets of Doveton. For example, he was not seen by the local community among the 20,000 people plus at the Doveton Show last month. He was not seen in the vicinity of the iconic $37.8 million Doveton College. He certainly was not seen, or has not been seen for many years, at the Power Road Christmas Lights display organised by Ruth Murray and Jenny Colvin, and he certainly has not been seen, or was not seen, engaging the amazingly diverse migrant and community groups who use the John Pandazopoulos Hall in Doveton on a daily basis, and he has not been seen at the Doveton Neighbourhood and Community Centre. He has not even been seen at the Australia Day celebrations at Autumn place or even at the Doveton Pool. When an individual advocates and puts forward positive ideas about benefiting the community, that is welcome, but simply being a critical outsider is not welcome in our community or our suburb. What we want is hard work, constructive engagement and consistent involvement in and dialogue to make our community even better, not cheap shots in a newspaper article.
The uniqueness of this proud suburb was on clear display at the 2014 Doveton Show at Myuna Farm last month. The annual Doveton Show has become the major community event for the region and the City of Casey. It is a special event because it is run by those who live in and care about their suburb and because it is held at one of the most unique venues in Melbourne, the iconic Myuna Farm.
Myuna Farm in Doveton is a public community farm that provides a great example of farming life. It is virtually city meets country and the bush within driving distance of nearly everyone in the City of Casey. Virtually every day of the year Myuna Farm is open. It is open to allow people, school groups and community groups, normal mums and dads and kids and community groups such as Riding for the Disabled, to visit the animals, to see them and learn about them in a habitat and to experience and play with them and the baby animals at the Animal Display Centre. They can see the many types of native birds at the bird aviary or talk to resident Joey, the talking cockatoo, or walk down to the paddock to feed the farm animals, learn about some iconic Australian native animals and visit the reptile display or see the wetlands, if they can walk far enough, at the back or take the local train, the Myuna Farm train, to get there. Myuna Farm is a local treasure. Many overseas visitors drop by.
One of great success stories in Doveton over recent years has been the $36 million combined investment from state and federal governments and the $1.8 million investment by the Colman Foundation into the new Doveton College which opened in 2012. Doveton College caters for families and children, prenatal to year 9, with the eventual goal of providing education to students up to year 12 in the years ahead. It offers a tremendous range of services with state-of-the-art facilities and it also includes the Casey 50-metre pool which is next door for the students to take part in. It is a state-leading, Australia-leading facility right in the heart of Doveton. One of the best things about this college and its student population of more than 800 children is that it offers families, residents and the local community groups access to these facilities: the performing arts centre, fitness centre, internet cafe and community meeting spaces.
I could not finish this speech without acknowledging the Christmas Lights display which has been for many years run by Ruth Murray and Jenny Colvin. Unfortunately, this year will be the last year that they run this display. Ruth and Jenny have lived in Doveton since 1979 and for the past 15 years they have been running this phenomenal display which is visited by thousands of people. They really do epitomise the spirit of Doveton. It is a pity that spirit was not experienced and properly noted by that person in that article in that paper.