Helen Reid, a founding member of the Friends, was voted in as President at the July 2012 AGM and hence, this was her outgoing Secretary’s report:
The Friends group held a provisional AGM in December 2011, and this meeting is a half yearly report to bring our AGMs in line with the financial year, since this is required by the Incorporation body, Consumer Affairs Victoria.
Since our last meeting in December 2011, much activity regarding the proposed rail crossing changes has seen a show of appreciation for the gardens; at times, fear for the future of the gardens; a great deal of communicating with the public and with the planning authorities of the Regional Rail Link and those who have a stake in its management. This is something we desire as Friends, and perhaps the realisation of a goal, to get people talking about the gardens, and expressing some opinions on its value to the community. As we meet again, changes have begun to the rail crossings and some incursions on the boundary of the garden that abuts the railway line took place last month.
Most of our energies has gone into meetings between City of Brimbank staff, particularly with Nick Mann, the Urban Planning Officer who has also lobbied hard to bring about changes to the plans of the Regional Rail Link for minimum loss of land occupied by the gardens themselves. Those involved kept a network of emails going to spread the latest information. We found the need to join with the Albion Residents Action group, the Bettering Brimbank group, and the Sunshine Residents and Ratepayers Association as they are concerned about the proposed closure of King Edward Avenue and this added to the numbers working to keep the area safe and intact as much as possible.
As we meet, a banner is located in the gardens asking the public to save the H. V. McKay Gardens, and this was donated, designed and put in place by our member Leanne Callaghan, and we gratefully thank her for her professional assistance. This banner was provided without cost. She also made up placards to draw attention to passers by which were very helpful.
Also, grateful thanks are due to our Media Officer, Michelle Edwards, for her organization of the press and media visits and news gathering to make the wider public aware of what is happening. And much more gratitude goes to those who faithfully attended meetings with Regional Rail Link and others to keep Friends represented.
The group was one of a collective of 12 Friends Groups within the area who received awards of appreciation by the Administrators of City of Brimbank in December. For our award we received a glass plaque and a framed certificate of appreciation, given at a ceremony at Victoria University Convention Centre.
Correspondence: I have received the autumn edition of Friends News from Martha Ragg. Other correspondence was sent to our post box and dealt with by Catherine, our president. A planting day in the gardens on 16 June 2012 was successful and more build up of the bed that houses our Centenary planting was continued. People from the community, Sunshine Golden Age Garden Club, City of Brimbank including Ros Savio, our supervisor of works in the garden and staff of the Environment Department came. lt was good to draw people together for the good of the gardens.
[Financial information not published]
Our president, Catherine McDonald desires to stand down at this meeting from her position, and I cannot express enough, our thanks to her for her hard work and leadership. ln a very recent conversation with her we recalled that during her term as president, much was achieved, and that the Friends group has not operated in a formal way. However, due to her ability to keep abreast of all that has happened, the Friends Group has not been idle. Catherine remains as our public officer. She has been a great Friend that will be hard to duplicate. Other officers are Michelle Edwards, media officer, who has been invaluable and very efficient as a member and we thank her again, for her energies and help; and myself.
The gardens themselves are a testament to the duty of care that has been provided for it, including many reports of graffiti for removal around the southern corner in particular. Quite a few people make the effort to remove litter, cans and bottles from the gardens, not all of them known to us, but can be observed doing the rounds of the gardens. On the Clean Up Australia Day in February, on the Friday evening a group of young people arrived and proceeded to clean up around the footbridge area. Compared with other public places where people congregate in Sunshine the gardens are kept tidy and as neat as possible. Drinking alcohol in the gardens remains a problem, despite the signage that is displayed close to the most popular location for that activity.
Helen – the Friends cannot thank you enough for your unwavering commitment to the Gardens – the progress of the last 5 years would not have been possible without you plus your personal contributions of plants, maintenance and horticultural knowledge has made an incredible difference to the Gardens. We look forward to the coming year supporting you as President.