Tony Briffa Article in Star Observer (24JAN19)

The Star Observer published an article by Matthew Wade on 24 January 2019 based on an article Tony wrote which is published on the IHRA website.  The article is copied below complete with a link to the webpage.

INTERSEX ADVOCATE TO BOYCOTT PRIDE MARCH IF ROYAL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL IS INVOLVED

“We should be able to be the people nature made us, and if our bodies are to be modified then we should be the ones to make that decision with our full and free consent.” – Tony Briffa

Link to the Article

Intersex advocate and Hobsons Bay councillor, Tony Briffa, will boycott Melbourne’s Pride March if the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) is allowed to take part in the event.

The former mayor cited the ongoing, involuntary or coerced medical interventions on young intersex bodies performed by the hospital as the reason behind the decision.

Speaking to the Star Observer, Briffa said seeing the RCH march at last year’s Pride March was hurtful and disappointing.

TonyBriffaAltonaBeach

“Imagine being a proud member of the LGBTI community, and a survivor of childhood and adolescent conversion therapies, and seeing the organisation that tried to make you fit heteronormative stereotypes welcomed into the Melbourne Pride March,” Briffa said.

“Current interventions by the RCH include surgically reducing the size of clitorises in baby girls who have clitorises deemed too big by doctors, forced testosterone injections given to baby boys with certain intersex variations, and the surgical removal of healthy gonads in some intersex children to remove any possible intersex trait.

“None of these interventions are medically necessary, nor are they conducted with the consent of the children involved.”

Intersex people are born with physical or biological sex characteristics that don’t fit binary ideas around male and female bodies.

There are at least 40 kinds of intersex variations and according to experts up to 1.7 per cent of the population are born with one or more of them.

Some intersex traits are visible at birth while others might not be apparent until puberty.

The invasive medical interventions continue to be carried out in Australia without personal informed consent, and are often irreversible.

They can cause permanent infertility, pain, a loss of sexual sensation, and lifelong mental health issues like depression.

Briffa said that while the RCH has made important strides in recognising and affirming trans and gender diverse people, the same recognition has not been given to intersex people.

“The same hospital and many of the same doctors that [perform medical interventions] on intersex children also treat trans and gender diverse children, but their bodily integrity and right to self determination are recognised,” Briffa said.

“No treatment of trans and gender diverse children at the RCH is conducted without the consent of the child involved.

“This is in complete contrast to intersex children… so why is the RCH marching in Pride March?”

Briffa added that organisations engaging in gay conversion therapy wouldn’t be allowed to participate in pride marches, and so organisations – including hospitals – that engage in “conversion therapies against intersex children” should be held to the same standard.

Briffa called on intersex allies in the LGBT community to support intersex people and join them in the fight to recognise their right to bodily integrity and self determination.

“We should be able to be the people nature made us, and if our bodies are to be modified then we should be the ones to make that decision with our full and free consent,” Briffa said.

“I call on the Midsumma Board to make it clear to the RCH that they are not welcome to participate in the Pride March until they stop conducting involuntary or coerced medical interventions on intersex children and make amends to the many children they have mistreated.”

At this stage, the RCH is due to march in the Pride March, and will follow other youth-based contingents along the route including Parents of Gender Diverse Children and headspace.

Chief Executive of Midsumma, Karen Bryant, said the festival had been working closely with Briffa to “create a space to encourage dialogue around this issue”.

“Our role is to provide support to address the issues that affect our diverse communities as well as to celebrate the wins,” she told the Star Observer.

“We are very aware of the very difficult situations that our many and diverse communities experience on a daily basis and the huge impact that these situations can and do have.

“Midsumma Pride March is the coming together of these diverse peoples and communities to reflect, celebrate, and to shine light on the issues affecting our communities, in hope that together we can resolve them.”

For more information about the lives and experiences of intersex people, as well as the Darlington Statement, a statement outlining key priorities for intersex communities in Australia and New Zealand, visit: www.ihra.org.au.

 

© Star Observer 2019 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and  Twitter feed.

Royal Children’s Hospital Still Abusing Intersex Children

TonyBriffaAltonaBeach

Imagine being a proud member of the LGBTI community, and a survivor of childhood and adolescent conversion therapies, and seeing the organisation that abused you and tried to make you fit heteronormative stereotypes welcomed into the Melbourne Pride March. With no apology, and no evidence of change to their practices. This is what happened to me last year when I attended the Melbourne Pride March. Despite advising Midsumma Board last year of the offence taken at the inclusion of the Royal Children’s Hospital in the Pride March, I am very disappointed, and even hurt, to know that the Royal Children’s Hospital has been welcomed by the Midsumma Board to participate again this year.

Like many other Victorian children born with intersex variations – biological variations in sex characteristics from medical norms for female or male bodies – I was abused by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Incredibly, babies and children born with variations of sex characteristics are still being abused at the hospital today. Current interventions by the Royal Children’s Hospital include surgically reducing the size of clitorises in baby girls who have clitorises deemed too big by doctors, forced testosterone injections given to baby boys with certain intersex variations in the belief that it would make them become heterosexual cisgendered men, and the surgical removal of healthy gonads in some intersex children to remove any possible intersex trait (and thus also sterilising the child). None of these interventions are medically necessary, nor are they conducted with the consent of the children involved. Even parents are not provided with the full facts, and they are rarely given support.

Parents and children trust doctors with our lives and our future. We trust them to give us the best care, advice and treatment, and not to treat us differently because we are born with healthy physical variations. I am one of many intersex children abused at the Royal Children’s Hospital. I was subjected to surgeries from the time I was a baby to fit in with the heteronormative views of doctors (including genital surgeries and castration), and I was also subjected to non-consensual hormone treatment, sexual abuse, repeated genital examinations in front of many medical staff and students, as well as medical research. This still happens today and the Royal Children’s Hospital defend their ongoing interventions rather than apologising and making reparations. 

So why are the Royal Children’s Hospital marching at the Pride March? Incredibly, the same hospital and many of the same doctors that abuse and mistreat intersex children also treat trans and gender diverse children – but their bodily integrity and right to self determination are recognised. No treatment of trans and gender diverse children at the Royal Children’s Hospital is conducted without the consent of the child involved. This is in complete contrast for intersex children.

Organisations engaging in gay conversion therapy would not be allowed to participate in Pride March. The same should apply to organisations – including hospitals – that engage in conversion therapies against intersex people. This hypocrisy must end. I call on the Midsumma Board to make it clear to the Royal Children’s Hospital that they are not welcome to participate in the Pride March until they stop conducting conversion therapy on intersex children and make amends to the many children they have mistreated. 

I also call on our many allies and supporters in the LGBT community to support intersex people and join our fight to recognise our right to bodily integrity and self determination. We should be able to be the people nature made us, and if our bodies are to be modified then we should be the ones to make that decision with our full and free consent. 

The Victorian Government, which has recently been given a strong mandate to continue their progressive human rights agenda, should also act immediately to prohibit the Royal Children’s Hospital from continuing to mistreat children born with biological variations of sex characteristics (intersex variations).

The intersex movement in Australia is growing, and our human rights concerns and needs have been set out in a community consensus declaration, the Darlington Statement. I understand many people (including gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans and gender non-diverse people) are unclear about intersex people and our human rights issues and demands. Please visit the Intersex Human Rights Australia website (www.ihra.org.au) to learn more about intersex people, our life experiences and the Darlington Statement. GLBT groups are also welcome to contact us to learn more about how you can work with us and be better allies. Let us together act as a community to end human rights abuses taking place in our otherwise wonderful Royal Children’s Hospital.

Tony Briffa writes chapter in LGBTI book

Tony Briffa: “The Hippocratic Oath, Western Medicine, and the Children of Hermes and Aphrodite”

9781743055953Tony Briffa has written on being intersex and Maltese Australian in the book Living and Loving in Diversity: An anthology of Australian multicultural queer adventures (chief editor Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, Wakefield Press). The book was launched at the 2018 Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council conference, “Living Loving Diversity”, and an edited extract has been published by Archer Magazine.

“I am proud of my Maltese heritage; I am also proud of my intersex heritage. As a heritage that has a very long history, I believe having an intersex variation is nothing to be ashamed of, despite the fact that some would have had my parents and I feel ashamed, as they still to this day try to convince others.

People with intersex variations have only relatively recently found their own voice. We work to ensure that the social and medical needs of those with intersex variations have a voice that is understood in its own right.

It is often the cultural examples of other societies rather than Western understanding of intersex variations that is key to achieving the best way to approach treatment and so it would have been in my case.”

More information

Briffa, Tony. 2018. ‘Intersex Variations: Western Medicine and the Hippocratic Oath’. Archer Magazine (blog). 28 September 2018. http://archermagazine.com.au/2018/09/intersex-variations-western-medicine-and-the-hippocratic-oath/.

Pallotta-Chiarolli, Maria (editor). 2018. Living and Loving in Diversity An Anthology of Australian Multicultural Queer Adventures. Adelaide, South Australia: Wakefield Press. https://www.wakefieldpress.com.au/product.php?productid=1473.

Acknowledgement to IHRA website where this article was originally published.

This is the world’s first openly intersex person elected into public office

This is the world’s first openly intersex person elected into public office

Tony Briffa: Growing up, I was castrated and treated ‘like a freak’

By Tony Briffa and published in Gay Star News, 26 October 2017.  https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/tony-briffa-worlds-first-openly-intersex-person-elected-public-office/#gs.tywLjgy9

Intersex people are very diverse. Like the rest of society, some of us are lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans. But most of us are straight.

Most of us never experienced any gender confusion and are happy in the sex we’re raised. But many intersex people don’t learn they’re intersex until they reach adolescence. Only a small portion of intersex people are born with any obvious genital variations.

In my case I was born with a mostly female body but with internal testes and the typical male chromosome pattern. I was raised as a girl which I was mostly ok with.

Unfortunately, the doctors treating me at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne decided to reinforce the sex I was being raised through any surgical and hormonal means possible. This meant removing my healthy testes – and any chance of being a biological parent – when I was seven.

They also subjected me to many repeated genital examinations treating me like a freak.

This mistreatment had a huge negative impact on me that still impacts me today.

‘I felt like a freak’

Like many other intersex people, these repeated unnecessary examinations (often witnessed by many other doctors and students) made me feel ashamed of my body to the point of feeling like a freak and not worthy of relationships.

I felt very alone in the world.

The doctors controlled every aspect of my life in order to make me as stereotypically female as possible.

In addition to castration, they started me on female hormones when I was 11.

The commencement of the hormone treatment was calculated so that I would be as tall as my mother; an acceptable height for a woman. They calculated my natural height as an adult would be too tall for a woman, so my body was made to be only 5’2” tall instead of the 5’10” predicted.

Despite feeling so negatively about my body and self-worth, I have managed to have great relationships with wonderful people and a satisfying career.

I was previously in a long-term relationship with an awesome man with whom I fostered and raised several children, and am now married to a woman although my marriage to her is not yet legally recognised in Australia.

My career has been varied, exciting and humbling.

I have held positions with the Department of Defence and Australian Federal Police, have worked for an airline, and am now working in a company that does lots of work for airlines across the globe.

Work has resulted in me working in many disadvantaged countries and experiencing a variety of cultures. This has helped form who I am.

‘I am the world’s first openly intersex person elected to public office’

I was elected to the Hobsons Bay City Council in 2008, 2012 and 2016 as a Councillor, elected as Deputy Mayor in 2009 and 2010 and elected as Mayor in 2011.

Being openly intersex as a public official has some challenges but for the most part, the community are very accepting of me. Even if they don’t understand it fully and perhaps wonder whether I am female or male.

In my case, they are right either way.

Being openly intersex also impacts on my career but thankfully all my work colleagues have been very supportive and inclusive.

I am now 47 years old and am in a comfortable place in my life. I have a better appreciation of the way I was born, what was done to me without my consent, and who I am as a person.

Nature made me biologically mostly female but with male sex characteristics too. There is nothing wrong with that or anything to be ashamed of.

That is who and what I am.

Most intersex people are female or male. For me, I accept my sex is mostly female but with a twist of male as well.

If anyone should feel ashamed it’s the doctors that mistreated and abused me as a child, and those that still mistreat and abuse intersex children today.

Even today the Royal Children’s Hospital reduce the size of intersex girls’ clitorises without their consent and without any medical need.

Sex and gender are different

Sex is about biology and gender is about identity. Like most people, my gender is consistent with my sex.

I am very comfortable in women only places, and am also comfortable in men only spaces. Thankfully society is gradually getting more accustomed to people who do not fit old-fashioned stereotypes of what women and men should look like and how they should behave!

Hopefully in the near future, society will be more aware of intersex variations and people born with them. It’s wrong for doctors to medicalize us and conduct normalizing intervention without our consent.

Our bodies will be as accepted as beautiful natural variations of human kind.

 

Tony Briffa is a Co-executive Director of Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia and Vice-President of the AIS Support Group Australia

Gay News

Tony Briffa: My experience as the world’s first openly intersex Mayor

My experience as the world’s first openly intersex Mayor

When I was 30, I appeared on a national TV program in Austalia, 60 Minutes, outing myself as an intersex person. I never imagined what the years ahead of me had in store. There was one thing that became obvious fairly quickly though; once “out” I would never be able to go back “in”. The world now knew I was intersex, and that was a label that was going to stick with me in all facets of my life. 

The most difficult thing was that although society – my work colleagues, family, friends, neighbours and even strangers – knew that I was intersex, they didn’t know what that meant. Many erroneously assumed being intersex is about gender and that I must be ether a transgender or transsexual. Some thought I was a hermaphrodite with complete sets of both female and male genitalia. Some thought I was just confused. The reality is that I was born with an intersex variation called “Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome” (AIS). This means that, despite having a typical male chromosomal pattern and being born with testes, my body is not able to respond to male hormones in the usual way. As a result, I was born with a mostly female body, and a clitoris that was larger than usual. I do not consider this an impediment in any way. In fact, the opposite is true!

The development of an activist

I was born and raised in a wonderful community; the suburb of Altona in Melbourne’s west. I went to the local Catholic Schools. I formed many friends at school but I knew I was different from other girls – I was medicalised because of my clitoris. I had repeated and frequent invasive medical tests and examinations, but was told not to tell anyone about why. It was all a dark, shameful secret, and it involved my genitals. I was made to feel like a freak and that is pretty much how I saw myself growing up. It was as if there were girls, boys, and me.

Doctors removed my testes without my consent and without the approval of a court when I was 7. I was told I was going to hospital to have some “tissues” removed. I thought they meant Kleenex and wondered how they got into my abdomen. I recall the night before surgery crying in my hospital bed and thinking that it was probably my last night alive. I thought of my parents and siblings and how much I would miss them. When I woke up from surgery I was numb. Later, when I needed to go to the bathroom I recall getting stuck in the hospital corridor on the way to the toilet, and calling out for nurses to help. They were horrified to see me out of bed and helped me back. They told me about the operation and that I had to stay in bed. It was painful and confusing. I admit, even writing about this reopens the deep wounds from my childhood. When I was 11, doctors started me on female hormones to replace the hormones I would have produced naturally if I wasn’t castrated.

Being raised Catholic was a challenge growing up, and remains a challenge. There are so many strict rules about expectations of girls, our role and function in society, and prohibitions on what we can do. As a child, my first challenge was being denied the opportunity to be an altar boy. I didn’t understand or accept that I couldn’t assist a priest in the celebration of Mass just because I was a girl. I felt discriminated against. Then there were rules against girls being attracted to other girls. Why are boys only allowed to be attracted to other girls? Does this mean I am a boy?

In my teenage years, I slowly learned more about my body. I learned about my chromosomes, about my body’s inability to respond to male hormones, and about my infertility. I learned I was castrated. I was confused and felt alone in the world. Had I not had my love of music I am not sure I would have survived. My doctor repeatedly tried to convince me that I was more female than other women because my body couldn’t respond to male hormones, but that didn’t feel right to me. How could I be more female when I couldn’t even have a child? I never even menstruated.

I went to my first AIS Support Group meeting when I was 18. It was arranged by the hospital and I was very pleased to meet other women and girls with AIS, but discussion was controlled by the doctors and it didn’t feel like we were given the opportunity to discuss anything real about living with AIS and the way we feel.

My life in my twenties were turbulent but I was again blessed with great friends and loves who cared for me, put up with me, and accepted me fully. I never hid the fact I was having relationships with women, while also having relationships with men. Either way, I felt very comfortable in the LGBT community, and I could openly discuss who I am and being intersex. It was a community where I could openly be me for a change. It was liberating.

A life changing event occurred when I was 27. I had a serious motor bike accident resulting in a broken femur and hand, and partially collapsed lungs. I was lucky that the doctors saved my life and my leg after months of being in hospital. I wasn’t able to walk unaided for two years, during which time I had come to the conclusion that life was too short not to be me. I wanted to make a change in the world. At that point, I was no longer going to hide the fact I was intersex. Nature made me this way and I have nothing to be ashamed of.

If anyone should be ashamed, it’s the doctors that abused and mistreated me and my parents.

Going public

Not long after being able to walk again I reconnected with the AIS Support Group. The internet made connecting with intersex groups and individuals easier. I met the President of the group in Australia and helped them shift from being a group controlled by doctors, to being an independent and legally registered organisation. I joined the committee and met lots of other intersex people – including people with AIS that were not women! I helped start online intersex groups and discovered the vibrant, rich tapestry of intersex people. Sadly, it was a tapestry woven with lots of shame, secrecy, misinformation, abuse, mistreatment, misunderstanding, solitude and darkness. We are still fighting these challenges almost 20 years later.

Following a program about David Reimer, a boy who was raised as a girl following a botched circumcision in Canada, the television station contacted me about going public on their program about the treatment of intersex children in Australia. I agreed. Life would never be the same again. From that point, no matter what I did, it was somehow connected to being intersex. It was as if my identity had changed overnight. No longer was I seen as a woman. I was seen as something else. Some saw me as a man because I had the typical male chromosome pattern and was born with testes, others saw me as a bit of both. Some saw me as a transgender person.

Frankly, I understand and respect their confusion. I too was confused. What am I? Who am I? I simply wanted to be me. I longed for a simple life but it didn’t seem like that was an option.

Most intersex people identify as the sex they were raised and do not look sexually ambiguous. I find that for me some people see me as female and others as male. I mostly like this because it reflects what nature made me and how I feel.

I worked for a time for the Department of Defence as an airworthiness auditor and instructor, where I was perceived as a man. I chose to change my name from Antoinette to Tony to make life easier for people I interacted with. I also made the drastic decision to have surgery to reduce the size of my breasts, in order to fit in professionally. My breasts were a constant issue and a source of confusion. I also know politically it made my life easier not to have such large breasts. This is a decision I don’t completely regret. I think the bigger regret was being in the situation where I had to make that decision in order to fit into society and for my financial independence.

I went on to become the President of the AIS Support Group Australia as well as work in other areas, supporting and advocating for people and families affected by genetic variations. I wrote many submissions to politicians, human rights organisations, law reform commissions, ethics bodies, hospitals and any other organisation or person I thought might be able to help address the human rights issues facing intersex people. I later joined OII Australia and am pleased to now be a Co-Executive Director of that organisation.

Being elected!

MayorBriffa

I became involved in local issues two years after the TV program, and a campaign to save a local park from being sold by the local council. I was in the council chamber when a councillor singled me out, mentioning my former name was Antoinette and that I was a woman. I was shocked that my intersex variation could become an issue in this way. The comments were reported in all three local papers and the response from the community was humbling. The overwhelming response was that the councillor should not have made those comments. I’m pleased to say I now consider that former councillor a friend and he genuinely regrets those comments.

This incident encouraged me stand as an independent candidate in the council elections in 2004. I didn’t win that time but I stood again in 2008 and won that election very comfortably. In 2009 and 2010 I was elected to the position of Deputy Mayor, and in 2011 I was elected Mayor. I am currently an elected Councillor.

This all means that I became the first publicly ‘out’ intersex person elected to office anywhere in the world, but it wasn’t until I was elected Mayor that the world noticed. Suddenly, within a week I had 250,000 independent visitors on my website. I couldn’t keep up with all the media requests and emails of congratulations.

Quite quickly it appeared that I wasn’t just “Mayor Tony Briffa”, but “Intersex Mayor Tony Briffa”. Some newspapers would refer to me as that even when my intersex variation had nothing to do with the story. Often, they would also mention that I was born intersex and am biologically both female and male. Despite focusing on the usual tasks of being a Mayor, being intersex had suddenly morphed to be part of my public identity.

For the most part, the local community was wonderful. They know me. I’ve always lived locally and had not hidden the fact I was born with an intersex variation, was raised as Antoinette, went to the local Catholic girl’s school, married a local guy, divorced, changed my name to Tony, etc. Most assume I am a man, and I accepted that even though that wasn’t the complete me.

The local Maltese community, of which I am a member, has been extremely supportive of me. I admit I used to feel a sense of embarrassment and uncertainty about how they will respond to me because Maltese is an extremely conservative and religious culture. Thankfully, being intersex, open about my past and open about my bodily diversity has been very much accepted by them. I am very proud of being Maltese.

Being referred to as “Mr Mayor” was not easy. Inside I cringed every time I heard it because I felt the “Mr” denied my full self. “Madam Mayor” similarly would have felt strange because that too denied part of me. It’s funny how words have these affects. For the most part I just went on with the job and ignored the male/female salutations, just as I tried to ignore being constantly labelled the world’s first intersex mayor.

There is understandably a push to increase female participation in public roles including as elected councillors and mayors, but I experienced the effects of this in a bizarre and public way when I was elected Deputy Mayor. The other candidate for the Deputy Mayor position was a woman, so when I was successful there was much fuss made from her political supporters, including a former leader of the State of Victoria. He publicly stated that I should not have been elected because the role should have been allocated to a woman. This was almost laughable if it wasn’t so offensive. I strongly believe in affirmative action, but to ignore the facts of my biology and history, how I was raised, who I am, how I identify and the disadvantage I had to endure like other women growing up and as a woman in an industry dominated by men, was incredible! Essentially, this former Premier not only publicly criticised my election, but also in effect publicly declared me to be a man with all the privileges and advantages that presumes.

As Mayor, I was invited to various functions to attend on behalf of the city. I recall being invited to a Masonic Lodge and deciding to attend to see what that was like. I recall siting there thinking how strange it was to be in a men’s only space. Fortunately, I am not just invited to men-only spaces, but women-only spaces too. The Arabic Women’s group, for example, are extremely kind and welcoming, and they occasionally invite me to attend women’s only functions too. Their kindness and acceptance means a lot to me and helps restore a balance in my life, just as lesbian spaces do.

During an election campaign, the way that people perceive me can be challenging. I recall one incident when visiting a Muslim business, and a man didn’t want to shake my hand because he assumed I was female, while a woman didn’t want to shake my hand because she assumed I was male. It was a little awkward but I respect their choice and the way they see me. My experiences working in aviation in countries like Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia were often more awkward, particularly due to additional security and safety issues.

It hasn’t always been positive. I have also been excluded from women-only events that other female councillors were invited to. I didn’t make a fuss or bring it to the attention of anyone at the time, but it was noted. One of the most distressing things I experienced as a mayor who is intersex was the stalking and harassment by a local resident who threatened harm me because, in his words, I was a “mutilated freak”, “homosexual”, “paedophile”, “transsexual” and worse. Stalking and harassment sadly resulted in a need for legal action.

Positives!

Despite the negatives, my experiences as a publicly elected intersex person has been positive. My local community is obviously very accepting of my intersex status and personal history because I’ve been elected 3 times as an independent candidate – each time with the highest primary vote of all the candidates I was up against.

Earlier this year I was invited on a tour of a new, very impressive mosque in the city in which I am still a Councillor. I was apprehensive about attending due to the issue with the segregation of sexes, the requirements for women to cover their heads, and which rules would apply to me. I went nonetheless, determined that whatever I do I will respect their religion even if it meant wearing a head covering. At the beginning of the tour the Imam gave us an introduction to the mosque design and history, and then explained the requirements for women to wear a head covering. I raised my hand and explained that I was intersex and am therefore not exclusively female or male, and asked what he would like me to do in terms of whether I should wear the head covering or not. I explained I was happy to wear it if he wanted me to. The Imam spoke about intersex and acknowledged that he had already sought advice about my situation, and felt it was ok for me not to wear the head covering – maybe the suit I was wearing helped! Either way, I really didn’t mind covering my head. I had worn head coverings in mosques in Turkey as well as a kippah at Jewish funerals, so I am happy to respect the wishes of those whose special places I am welcomed in.

Being intersex and the experiences I had as a direct result, has also helped me understand a larger diversity of people and to have empathy for people who are different. It made me a strong advocate and helped hone the skills I’ve needed to represent and support our community.

I also like to think that perhaps my very public role as Mayor has helped raise awareness of intersex variations and people who have them. I know this is the biggest factor that will help reduce the shame and stigma still widely felt by intersex people today.

Finally…

I understand and accept people are not aware of intersex variations and some people are confused about my sex and even about my gender at times. Ultimately however, they care more about what I do for them as their representative as a Councillor or previously as a Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

My hope is that my experience and successes demonstrates that despite our differences and the abuse and mistreatment many of us are subjected to, we can still aspire to achieve goals including public office – which is a pretty good indicator of public acceptance. There is hope. When I was a child I was concerned about my future – as were my parents – but I didn’t need to be. Intersex people can achieve goals and have successful lives.

In my experience people are very accepting and understanding, and appreciate openness. The fact I am open about my intersex variation and the past mistreatment, is often commented on by constituents as being a positive thing. A sense of humour and being honest about not having all the answers is also well received.

During a radio interview when I was Mayor I was asked whether I thought the public would find my sex confusing and whether it would be better for me to pick one sex and stick with it. I explained that I understood their confusion, and that they should try to see it from my perspective, because I’ve been confused about my sex my entire life. The reality for me is that, as a person with my particular intersex variation, I was born biologically partially female and partially male. That is my truth. In practical terms however, for my public life I still do whatever I can to make people comfortable with me. I accept whichever pronouns they use and do my best to serve them.

Thankfully I am able to be myself in my private life.

– Tony Briffa, September 2017.

Save Altona’s Kindergartens!

I support the retention and upgrade of the existing kindergartens in Altona and Seaholme.  They are wonderful kindergartens that serve our community well and are much loved by many of us.  Sadly, council has previously resolved to build an “Early Years Hub” in Altona and to make it viable they closed the Altona West Kindergarten last year (while I was not part of the council).  Now council officers have recommended that we close a further two kindergartens in Altona – the Altona Kindergarten on Blyth St and the Somers Parade Kindergarten.  Here was the recommendation from the council officers:

Kindergarten Officer Recommendation

 

The community’s response was wonderful, and within days the kindergartens had met with me and obtained 848 signatures on a petition and a joint letter to the council.  It was also great to see so many parents and concerned residents attend the council meeting to show their opposition to the council officer recommendation to close the kindergartens.

Kindergarten at HBCC

 

Families at the Council Meeting where the recommendation to close two local kindergartens was debated.

I was pleased to put up an alternate motion at the meeting which was as follows:

Kindergarten Resolution

As you can see, my motion to consider this matter on 12 September following a further report was accepted, but not my attempt to not engage a builder for the Hub.  The CEO explained we can seek a builder via tender but we still have the option not to award the tender to anyone.

The future of the kindergartens is sadly still not secure.  I encourage families and the local community to support our local kindergartens and to get in touch with them about ways you can support the campaign to save them.

 

Altona kindergarten closures on hold

Two Altona kindergartens have won a reprieve after Hobsons Bay council delayed a decision on their closure.

Close to 100 protesters, some holding signs saying “Save Altona’s kinders”, attended last week’s council meeting at which the issue was being heard for the third time.

A council officer’s report recommended that Altona Kindergarten and Somers Parade Kindergarten be closed due to a new hub being built at Altona P-9 College.

Cr Tony Briffa tabled a petition with 848 signatures and a joint letter signed by committee of management heads of both kindergartens, pleading for them to remain open.

The petition stated in part: “These kinders have been part of the community for more than 50 years. They exceed national quality standards, are financially viable and are loved by the community and our children.”

Cr Michael Grech told last week’s meeting it was important to keep community kindergartens.

“I went to Russell Court kinder in Altona Meadows and, funnily enough, so did my wife,” he said.

“This year we were lucky enough to have our three-year-old son follow in our footsteps. At the moment, we can only get him in one day a week due to demand. I feel by destroying our centres, we are destroying our communities.”

The state government has contributed $1.6 million for a new early-years hub to be built on the Altona P-9 College site, with the council to contribute about $5.6 million. The hub would have 198 places.

Last week’s meeting heard that it would cost $3.8 million to upgrade the existing kindergartens.

The council voted to consider a further report on early years services in Altona and Seaholme and the matters raised in the petition and joint letter at its September 12 meeting.

 

Budget passed but hub could spell end for kinders

Budget passed but hub could spell end for kinders JULY 4, 2017 2:00 PM BY GOYA DMYTRYSHCHAK

Hobsons Bay council has adopted its annual budget, despite concern that allocating $4.59million to build an Altona early years hub will seal the fate of local kindergartens.

The budget includes more than $34million on capital works, $118million on operational expenditure and an average rate increase of 2 per cent.

It includes $7.4million for open space, $6.7million for roads, $3.8million for footpaths and bike paths, $2.7million for plant and equipment and $11.4million for buildings, with the hub being the most expensive project.

Councillors Tony Briffa and Michael Grech said while they supported the overall budget, the funding allocation for a new hub on the Altona P-9 College site meant supporting the closure of Altona and Seaholme kindergartens.

Cr Briffa told last week’s council meeting that the hub and the future of the kindergartens were intertwined.

“They are inextricably linked and we are making an allocation of $4.59million for a hub that is going to make local kindergartens unviable, so that is definitely my consideration,” Cr Briffa said.

Cr Grech asked if the previous council, which did not include himself or Cr Briffa, had known local kinders would be closed when it voted in favour of a new hub.

“When council resolved on the 26th of April, 2016, to construct a hub, were council fully informed that in order to make a hub viable, kindergartens would have to be closed?”

Community wellbeing director Peter Hunt replied that the councillors had been briefed a number of times.

“I think we had three fortnights in a row when we had briefings to the council so the councillors were well aware of the challenges posed by a small catchment and an oversupply of places.”

Cr Briffa moved a budget amendment to allocate but not use the money for the hub until the future of the kindergartens was decided, but this only gained support from Cr Grech.

The council meeting heard that a report on kinders in the precinct would come to the council in September and a contract to build the hub was expected to be awarded in October.

Hobsons Bay council has adopted its annual budget, despite concern that allocating $4.59million to build an Altona early years hub will seal the fate of local kindergartens.

The budget includes more than $34million on capital works, $118million on operational expenditure and an average rate increase of 2 per cent. It includes $7.4million for open space, $6.7million for roads, $3.8million for footpaths and bike paths, $2.7million for plant and equipment and $11.4million for buildings, with the hub being the most expensive project.

Councillors Tony Briffa and Michael Grech said while they supported the overall budget, the funding allocation for a new hub on the Altona P-9 College site meant supporting the closure of Altona and Seaholme kindergartens.

Cr Briffa told last week’s council meeting that the hub and the future of the kindergartens were intertwined. “They are inextricably linked and we are making an allocation of $4.59million for a hub that is going to make local kindergartens unviable, so that is definitely my consideration,” Cr Briffa said.

Cr Grech asked if the previous council, which did not include himself or Cr Briffa, had known local kinders would be closed when it voted in favour of a new hub. “When council resolved on the 26th of April, 2016, to construct a hub, were council fully informed that in order to make a hub viable, kindergartens would have to be closed?” Community wellbeing director Peter Hunt replied that the councillors had been briefed a number of times. “I think we had three fortnights in a row when we had briefings to the council so the councillors were well aware of the challenges posed by a small catchment and an oversupply of places.”

Cr Briffa moved a budget amendment to allocate but not use the money for the hub until the future of the kindergartens was decided, but this only gained support from Cr Grech.

The council meeting heard that a report on kinders in the precinct would come to the council in September and a contract to build the hub was expected to be awarded in October.

 

 

Westgate Tunnel

I support infrastructure including new roads, public transport (e.g. a new train station in Altona North), schools (a P-12 for Altona!), etc., and I really wanted to support the so-called Westgate Tunnel (formerly called the Western Distributor) but now that we know the real impacts of what is being proposed I have serious concerns about the project.  It is obvious the Westgate Tunnel (which is not an alternative to the Westgate Bridge) is designed to appease the concerns of Maribyrnong residents without any regard for residents in Altona North, Brooklyn and Spotswood, and all the many people that visit, work, go to school and drive through those areas.

The concerns are all laid out in the EES but basically there are huge air quality and traffic impacts.  HUGE.  The graphic below is an good indication of some of the traffic issues (keep in mind we also need to factor in the additional 7000 residents proposed for the former Dons site on Blackshaws Road):

DC4fLJjVoAAu2Fm

 

It is incredibly to me that the issues such as amenity, air quality etc that resulted in residents in Maribyrnong being successful in getting this tunnel are being ignored in Hobsons Bay.  We are not getting any truck bans, curfews, etc., as was the case in Maribyrnong.  Also, it’s fair to say the residents in Altona North, Brooklyn and Spotswood could not have envisaged on living near such horrendous impacts when they bought their properties – it’s just not fair.

I encourage residents to get involved and lodge submissions to the state government about the adverse impacts of this project.

There are several wonderful community groups working on this issue too.  If you want to get in touch with them please contact me – tony.briffa@briffa.org

DDMG-FLYER

A flyer distributed by the Brooklyn residents’ group

The following are some media articles about this project.

 

Hobsons Bay council backs West Gate Tunnel protest

June 22, 2017 11:07 am
by Goya Dmytryshchak

HOBSONS BAY COUNCIL MILLERS ROADWEST GATE TUNNEL

Hobsons Bay council last week voted to help residents campaign against the negative impacts of the West Gate Tunnel project, with one councillor calling it the “Maribyrnong bypass”.

While truck curfews will be implemented in Maribyrnong, Millers Road in Hobsons Bay will see up to 10,300 more trucks a day by 2031 as a result of the project.

Hobsons Bay residents have formed a new lobby group called Don’t Destroy Millers Road.

The council voted to “conduct a public campaign and a public meeting to encourage, support and assist Hobsons Bay community members and groups to make their own submissions” on the project.

“It is not an alternative to the West Gate,” Cr Tony Briffa said.

“This project, as far as I’m concerned, is the Maribyrnong bypass and that’s certainly what I refer to it as.

“The impact on Millers Road, particularly nearer to Brooklyn, will be quite significant. Then there is also the health impacts.”

The council is seeking 24-hour truck bans in Blackshaws Road, Hudsons Road, Mason Street, North Road, Kororoit Creek Road east of Millers Road, and High Street.

It wants a night and weekend curfew in Millers Road, between Kororoit Creek Road and Geelong Road, with trucks travelling to local businesses exempted. Cr Jonathon Marsden said the council did not support the West Gate Tunnel toll road.

“It is not a second river crossing, it is a political fix … We have recommended … the state government purchase the vacant industrial land located between Simcock Avenue and the West Gate Freeway for the purpose of conversion to public open space.”

A petition has started on change.org calling for trucks to be moved to Grieve Parade instead of Millers Road as part of the West Gate Tunnel project.

 

 

Impacts of West Gate Tunnel project on commuters revealed

A new ring of tolls and road bans will hit thousands of trucks unless they use the new $5.5 billion tunnel connecting the West Gate Freeway to CityLink.

A 10,000 page environmental effect statement has been released showing that all trucks using the West Gate Freeway would face a new toll regardless of whether they use the new tunnel or continue over, or come via, the West Gate Bridge.

RELATED CONTENT:

 

And motorists heading to the CBD via the new tunnel in the morning rush hour face the state’s first peak period tolls to try to discourage them from entering certain city streets.

At the same time, truck curfews will be slapped on streets around the Port of Melbourne, sparking criticism transport operators will have to inflate cost of goods to offset new costs.

Mr Andrews said today truck curfews could be written into legislation to ensure heavy vehicles dd not rat run through suburbs in Melbourne’s west to flout tolls.

However, it is unlikely that more resources would be invested by the Andrews Government to carry out enforcement.

Mr Andrews defended the project despite the EES revealing the promised time saving of 20 minutes only applied in a few trips on the new road.

“We can have a debate about a range of time savings or we can just pause for a moment and think about where will we be in 10 years if we don’t build this,” he said

“This represents great value.”

Mr Andrews confirmed negotiations over the controversial toll extension are ongoing.

Previously the government have said tolls could be extended 10 to 12 years.

However, Mr Andrews declined to commit to the figure today.

The toll rates are still subject to negotiation between Transurban — which is funding most of the project in return for tolling revenue — and the Andrews Government, but the EES points to two new toll points on the West Gate Freeway at either side of Millers Road and one more at Hyde Rd.

Another toll point is at the city access ramps to Footscray Road, Dynon Road and Wurundjeri Way — which would hit motorists with an extra charge if they get off there during the morning peak.

Modelling on tolling has been done as much as 20 per cent above the 2015 CityLink rate for trucks of about $13.00.

Cars using the tunnel will likely be hit with the same toll as the Bolte Bridge — now $3.

Locals fear without proper monitoring of the truck bans on inner-west roads the streets will still be used as rat-runs, while transport companies are furious it will force them to use the paid highway.

Victorian Transport Association chief executive Peter Anderson said plans to curfew trucks and put them on a toll road will harm the Victorian economy.

“Transport operators will inevitably pass on the cost of higher tolls throughout the supply chain, so ultimately it is consumers that will foot the bill through higher prices for goods and services,’’Mr Anderson said.

But the government says truck travel to the Port of Melbourne from Princes Freeway will be at least 12 minutes faster in peak times — leading to cost and time savings for transport companies.

Greens western suburbs MP Colleen Hartland said there was deep community concern the western suburbs “mega toll road” would not stop trucks from travelling on inner west roads.

The government says 9000 trucks a day will be removed from local roads and 8000 from the West Gate Bridge with the tunnel and the bans.

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan promised cars would not be tolled on the upgraded West Gate Freeway or there would be any charges on the existing road network.

“We’re building a dedicated route to the Port of Melbourne to relieve the pressure on the West Gate Bridge and the EES shows that the tunnel will do just that,” Mr Donnellan said.

The EES says there would be “innovative tolling solutions” for night time discounts, trip caps for use of the tunnel and the CityLink and discounts for multiple trips to and from the port.

More freight would be encouraged to be moved at night with discounts for truckers using the toll routes after sundown.

The report says final toll price and structure, are still subject to negotiations through the Department of Treasury and Finance’s Market Led Proposal process.

Shadow treasurer Michael O’Brien said the document showed the project was “an absolute dud”.

He said there would be more trucks using the West Gate now than when the project was built.

“It shows that for spending billions of dollars, and years and years of extra tolls, Victorians will not really get any traffic relief at all,” Mr O’Brien said.

“It’s only going to take about 3 per cent of trucks off the West Gate, but 100 per cent of CityLink users have to pay extra tolls for years and years. This just doesn’t stack up.

“We’ve said we don’t see arguments for supporting people using CityLink paying extra tolls for years and years, for a project Labor never took to the election.”

 

Overdevelopment in Altona North

At the council meeting on 14 February 2017 I voted against the significant overdevelopment of the former Dons site on Blackshaws Road, Altona North.  It is a large parcel of land, but 3000 dwellings consisting of multi-storey buildings as high as 6 storeys in an area with very little connectivity to public transport means its impact will be enormous on the local area, particularly on our traffic.  As a representative of the local community on the council, I could not in good faith support this development under these conditions.

There will be more community consultation about the development of the site in the coming months , so I will keep residents updated with opportunities to provide input.

For the record, all the other councillors except Michael Grech supported the motion which is why the vote was passed by the council.

The minutes of the Council meeting that passed this motion is available on the council website.

I will keep residents informed of any updates, so please email me at tony.briffa@briffa.org if you wish to be put on my newsletter distribution list.

PLEASE ALSO SHARE this update with your facebook friends, particularly if they live in Altona North, Altona, Brooklyn, Spotswood and Newport.

Also refer to the article in the Star Weekly by Goya Dmytryshchak (21 February 2017).

Don

Making Council Accessible

As a Councillor, Deputy Mayor and Mayor, my main focus was to give the community a voice and to provide leadership to the council and community.  I often spoke about integrity, values, openness and transparency, but rather than just speak about them, I made sure I walked the walk.

As a Councillor it is important that all my actions and decisions are open and transparent.  I am pleased to have therefore introduced the following policies to the Hobsons Bay City Council:

(a) Council meetings are recorded and podcast on the council website within 24 hours;

(b) Councillor expenses are regularly made publicly available on the council website; and

(c) Matters are only considered in camera when absolutely necessary, and even then they are to be reviewed and made public once the reason for the confidentiality no longer applies.

I was very disappointed with a number of decisions made by the council behind closed doors and without any community consultation.  Incredibly most of the other councillors – including those who talk about “values” and “integrity” – were happy to support that process.  I will always speak out in support of what is right and what is in the best interests of our community. 

As a Councillor I also ensured I regularly consulted with the community and informed the community what I was doing via twitter, facebook, this website and my regular email newsletter “Community Update”.  I was also regularly available to meet with local community groups, individuals and business owners/operators.

Vote for me as per my how to vote cardif you want this level of representation, openness, transparency, integrity and communication.

 

Working Hard for our Community

As a Councillor I was very active in the local community to ensure I was able to represent and advocate for the community as well-informed as possible.  The following is a list of some of my activities in a 11 month period on council (not including Council meetings, briefings, meetings with Council’s CEO and Directors, etc):

Newport Senior Citizens Group;
Altona Gate Shopping Centre Management;
Brooklyn Resident Action Group;
Hobsons Bay Men’s Shed;
Noordenne Residents Group;
Italian Social Club, Altona North;
Delegation of traders from Hudsons Road, Spotswood;
Joseph’s Corner;
Individual residents on a range of issues such as upgrades to local reserves;
Mayor of Cairns and visited Cairns Regional Council  (Self paid);
Victoria Police, Youth Services and Hobsons Bay Blue Light Disco;
Hobsons Bay Residents Association;
Bendigo Bank;
Altona City Theatre;
Jill Hennessy MP;
Seaholme Primary School;
Youth Services regarding possible Blue Light Disco in Altona;
Hobsons Bay Maltese Association;
Spotswood Traders;
Westbourne Grammar’s Annual Concert;
Altona Historical Homestead open day;
Powercor Buloke Business Excellence Awards Gala Presentation;
GLBTIQ Advisory Committee Meeting;
Mobile Customer Service Program, Pier Street Altona;
Williamstown High School Centenary Theatre Fund;
Dinner with the Altona Fishing and Angling Club;
Launch of the “Say ‘No’ to Homophobia” campaign at Parliament House;
Unveiled the new mosaic artwork at Somers Parade Kindergarten;
Spoke at Hobsons Bay Youth Forum 2012;
Held Environment Day as part of Mayoral Program;
Welcome Ceremony for 2012 Anjo Students at Bayside P-12;
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development DVD Launch;
Joseph’s Corner Thank You Luncheon;
All Aboard Club’s 75th Celebration;
Arabic Women’s Pre Ramadan Conference;
Association of Bayside of Municipalities;
Customer Service Mobile Program in Williamstown;
Complete Family Care Re-Opening;
Youth Leadership Graduation Ceremony;
Mobile Customer Service Program, Altona Gate;
National Tree Day (Altona North and Altona Meadows);
Celebrations Altona;
Spoke at NAIDOC Week Raising of the Flag Ceremony;
Spoke at the Victorian Multi Cultural Conference;
Spoke at the Anjo, Japan Student Welcome Reception;
Spoke at the Laverton Time Capsule Event;
Spoke at the Hobsons Bay Early Years Conference;
Visited Yarrabah Council, Cairns;
Chaired Citizenship Ceremonies;
Altona City Soccer Club;
Williamstown Chamber of Commerce;
Hobsons Bay Maltese Association;
Supt Peter Bull from the North Western Metro Region;
Youth Citizen of the Year;
Men’s Shed Open Day;
TS Voyager Annual Unit Assessment (Williamstown);
ALGA Conference;
Crashendo group rehearsal at Laverton P-12 College;
Hobsons Bay interagency networking meeting;
Lions Club of Altona Changeover dinner;
Spoke at the Brooklyn Federation Trail Celebration;
Spoke at Refugee Week Celebrations;
Spoke at the Crashendo Concert at Laverton P-12 College;
Presented awards at the Hobsons Bay Meals on Wheels Celebration;
Chaired Junior School Council;
Visited Cooraminta Kindergarten, Laverton;
Newport Islamic Group;
Brooklyn Residents Action Group;
Lois Joel Arts Centre;
Point Cook Action Group;
Maltese Bocci Club;
Melbourne Queer Film Festival;
Williamstown Visitor Information Centre;
South Kingsville Community Centre – Cooking with all Abilities;
St Martin de Porres Primary School in Laverton;
Parents of Children with a Disability;
Maltese Association of Hobsons Bay Mother’s Day Lunch;
Finnish Friendly Visiting Service 15 Year Anniversary Celebration;
Tour of the Sea Shepherd in Williamstown;
Mobile Customer Service Program in Spotswood;
Official Opening of the Williamstown Cricket Ground;
Yooralla UCAN Event as part of Governor General’s visit;
Brooklyn Residents Reference Group;
Altona Loop Action Group Meeting;
Street SmART Art Auction in Laverton;
Spoke at the Pixel 8 Awards;
Spoke at the Art in Public Places Wrap Up/Awards Night;
Spoke at the Altona North Children’s Centre 20th Birthday Celebration;
Spoke at the International Day Against Homophobia (City of Port Phillip);
Raised HBCC’s Rainbow Flag for IDAHO;
Chaired Junior School Council;
LGMA National Congress;
Altona Hockey Club;
Mobil CEO;
Toyota CEO;
Evolve re: Port Phillip Woollen Mills;
Williamstown Chamber of Commerce;
Inside Edge regarding Altona Facilities Feasibility;
Otway Partners regarding Precinct 15;
Jill Hennessy, MLA for Altona;
Members of the Hobsons Bay Community Fund;
Residents to discuss 99 Queen Street;
Mobile Customer Service Program – Aviation Road, Laverton;
Altona Lions Market;
Hobsons Bay Community Fund Meeting;
Fell Reserve, Seaholme Consultation meeting;
Meeting regarding Spotswood Pub;
Official Re-Opening of The Rex Theatre, Charlton;
Woods Street Art Space;
Community Grants Committee meeting;
MAV Councillor Development Weekend;
Presented and spoke at the Hobsons Bay Young Citizen of the Year Awards;
Participated in the Rainbow Family Forum Session;
Participated in the ‘Meet Your GLBTIQ Neighbours’ session in Wyndham;
Visited Altona Meadows Primary School;
Visited the Williamstown Cricket Ground and Williamstown Library;
Visited the Williamstown Senior Citizens Club;
Judged Art in Public Places;
Joy FM Radio Spot;
Hobsons Bay Libraries;
Ron Walker (Evolve) re: Port Phillip Woollen Mills;
Friends of Williamstown & Newport Libraries Summer Writing Awards Night;
Signcraft CEO;
The Project (Ch 10);
Burbank Homes CEO;
Newport Traders Association;
Hobsons Bay Community Bank Defibrillator for Life Project Launch;
Sisters of Saint Joseph;
Buloke Shire Visit;
Andrew Elsbury MLC;
Hobsons Bay Altona Garden Club;
Newport Mosque with Victoria Police;
Mayor of Wyndham;
Westgate Entertainment Centre;
Australian Paralympics Olympic Committee Member;
Joy FM Radio Interview;
Relay for Life in Altona;
Australian Coastal Councils Conference;
Men’s Shed Meeting;
Disability Committee Forum as part of Mayoral Program;
Western Suburbs Disability Advisory Forum;
Official opening of Seabrook Community Centre & Kindergarten;
Francis Sullivan Kindergarten Fundraising Event;
Williamstown Rotary Club Meeting;
VECCI’s Business Leaders information session;
Japanese Consulate General’s memorial ceremony for the anniversary of Japanese Earthquake victims;
Altona Beach Festival;
Chaired Junior School Council;
Inspected the Williamstown Town Hall works;
Presented Food Safety Awards;
Launched Art in Public Places;
Judged the Mayor’s Choice Award (part of Altona Beach Festival) at Louis Joel Arts Centre;
Media Launch at Logan’s Reserve for WiFi as part of Mayoral Program;
Lead West;
Qenos;
Moonee Valley Traffic School;
Migrant Resource Centre;
Compustore;
“Every Australian Counts”;
Evolve;
Able Engineering;
Arabic Women’s Group;
Scienceworks;
Salvation Army;
Altona Little Athletics;
SKM Recycling;
PAZ Group;
St John’s Ambulance;
Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy MP;
BAE Systems;
Emergency relief and food security project at St Stephens, Williamstown;
Commemorative Service in honour of the Darwin Bombing Victims;
Altona Cricket Club’s 50th Anniversary Dinner;
Launch of the National Year of Reading;
Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week event by the Lions Club of Altona and the Police Community Consultative Committee;
Official reopening of the Williamstown Uniting Church;
Lions Club of Altona 1000th Meeting;
Wyndham City Council Mayor;
Disability Advisory Committee;
Williamstown Chamber of Commerce and the manager of Arts, Events and Tourism;
Residents from the Noordenne Estate, Seaholme and representatives from the Altona City Soccer Club;
Save Williamstown Group and senior Planning Department personnel;
Herald Sun;
Movies by the Bay;
Dog’s Breakfast;
Summer Sounds concert;
Mobile Customer Service Program;
Australia Day Breakfast and Citizenship Ceremony;
Australia Day celebration;
Go West events:
Spoil Yourself Wellbeing Workshop;
Sailing Day (Altona Yacht Club);
Croquet; and
Stories from the city, stories from the sea.

If you want a hard working Councillor, vote for Tony Briffa in accordance with my How to Vote card.

Council run childcare in Hobsons Bay (12 February 2014)

Last November the council made an unfortunate decision while I was overseas.  It decided in a meeting closed to the public and without any community consultation to outsource the management of the two council-run childcare centres in Hobsons Bay (Altona Meadows and Altona North).  Council management also failed to consult with staff.  Incredibly, this motion was supported by all councillors present.

I have opposed this decision and the process from the outset and am very pleased I successfully moved a resolution in the council last night to abandon that process and start again, complete with consultation with staff, affected families and other stakeholders.

I am very grateful to the families, staff and union organisers that attended the council meeting last night, and to Cr Luba Grigorovitch who has supported my moves to reverse the council decision since early December.

Here is some of what I had to say in the council chambers last night:

“This motion is put forward to the council in the interests of supporting open dialogue with the community we represent and being accountable to them. It is also intended to provide proper, open, consultative dialogue with our invaluable staff. It is only fair that we adhere to the principles of natural justice and democracy and give people affected by a potential decision about childcare the opportunity to be heard in relation to the importance of childcare and why services are better under a council-run system.

I think it’s important the council acknowledge and understand why workers – by far predominantly women – are undervalued and why there is a 20% disparity between the Council award and what childcare workers are paid by private companies. Rather than supporting a system that devalues women, I would like to think our council would support them and advocate for equality. It’s timely that we are considering an Advocacy Policy in the council tonight because we all realize that advocacy is an important role for the council.

As a council we must abide by the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act. This, to me, includes the right of equal remuneration for work of equal value. A right that is embodied in various international instruments, and which many Australian women do not enjoy – even in 2014. On average women earn less than men for work of equal or comparable value. This inequity has adverse social and economic consequences.

This motion is about families, mothers, single parents, staff at the childcare centres (most are women), and the values and principles of the council. As a council we uphold values of equality and respect. Our values are not about money (although we are, of course, a financially sustainable and responsible council).

On that basis, and in the interest of openness, transparency, accountability and democracy, I am happy to move this motion and ask all councillors for their support.”

Lots of local events in Melbourne’s West this summer!

Lots of local events in Melbourne’s West this summer!

Melbourne’s west is the place to be this summer, so no matter where you live be sure to come and enjoy the events the local councils are supporting!

  • Movies by the Bay – Altona and Williamstown (every Friday in January 2014)
  • Free Dog’s Breakfast (Saturday 4 January 2014)
  • Wildlife Display (13 – 17 January 2014)
  • Midsumma comes to Melbourne’s West – Go West!  (12 January 12 to 2 February 2014)
  • Australia Day in Altona (Sunday 26 January 2014)
  • Summer Sounds in Altona and Williamstown (every Sunday in February)

See below for more details.

Free Movies by the Bay

Outdoor cinema returns to Hobsons Bay at two waterfront locations. Enjoy great films under the stars at this popular free family event series. Bring your own picnic or stop at a local restaurant/cafe/take away shop before the screening and enjoy a delicious dinner.

Logan Reserve, Pier Street, Altona

  • Friday, 3rd January Despicable Me 2 (PG)
  • Friday, 17th January Smurfs 2 (G)
  • Friday, 31st January Turbo (G)

Commonwealth Reserve, Nelson Place, Williamstown

  • Friday, 10th January Iron Man 3 (M)
  • Friday, 24th January Red Dog (PG)

 

Free Dog’s Breakfast!

Free breakfast for dogs and their owners.  Special guests include the Snake Bus, local vets offering discounted microchipping, and The Connies.
Altona Doggy Beach – Altona Road, Seaholme Saturday 4th January from 8.30am to 10.30am.

 

Wildlife Displays

Get up close to snakes, frogs, lizards and stick insects!
Altona North Community Library (13-15 January) and Altona Library (16-17 January)

and more – see attached flyer for details.

 

Midsumma comes to Melbourne’s West – Go West!

GoWest collectively brings together local organisations and artists supporting and representing the GLBTIQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer) communities in the western region of Melbourne. Whether you live or work in the west, or have been looking for an excuse to visit and explore, everyone is invited to celebrate the rich diversity of our community.

Hobsons Bay City Council proudly supports the GLBTIQ community and has been a officially celebrating Midsumma with GOWEST since 2009.

Go West events include:

  • Intersexion Documentary Screening (documentary about intersex people) – 13 January
  • WESTANDPROUD (Community construction of an official rainbow crossing) – 15 January
  • How I found my NICHE (Speakers will share their insights about LGBTIQ communities) – 16 January
  • Radicalism (Artists and activists from across Australia examine radicalism, resistance and defiance associated with questions of gender and sexuality) – 17 January to 23 February
  • Ghosts of the Old City Williamstown (Explore Williamstown’s secret spooky haunts) – 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 and 31 February and 1 and 2 February)
  • Rainbow Party (Youth party at the Youth Resource Centre in Hoppers Crossing) – 17 January
  • Author Talk ‘f2m: the boy within’ (Author discusses her book about transmen) – 18 January
  • Just Dance (dance based fitness class for young people followed by a bbq and fun activities) – 18 January
  • Wyndham Arvo Tea (share a cuppa rainbow style and celebrate Midsumma in Wyndham – yummy food, inflatable art, music etc) – 18 January
  • AIDS Memorial Quilt Making Weekend (help create a quilt in memory of a loved one) – 18-19 January
  • Free Sailing Day (Crew up or kick back on land and enjoy live music and drinks with fellow GLBTIQ sailors and landlubbers) – 19 January
  • A Perfect Midsumma Afternoon (Enjoy a perfect mid summa afternoon with friends, a G&T and croquet – very civilised!) – 19 January
  • Rainbow Families Bedtime Story Time (enjoy a special evening story time to celebrate diverse families.  Wear your pyjamas, bring your teddies and enjoy being with other queer families) – 20 January
  • LGBTIQ Equality Initiatives in Local Government (learn about what local government is doing for our GLBTIQ community and discuss ways we can improve) – 23 January
  • Queer as Anything: Open Mic in the West (Interested in trying stand up or another type of 5 to 7 minute performance?) 24 January
  • Finucane & Smith’s Caravan Burlesque… Goes West! (Burlesque at it’s best) – 24, 25 and 31 January, and 1 February.
  • One Day Camp-Fest (Enjoy local music in Footscray with your friends) – 27 January
  • Team Melbourne Midsumma Sports Day 2014 (try your hand at a range of different sports and activities including dancing, tennis, volleyball, running, swimming and much more) – 1 February
  • Out at Twighlight (enjoy an afternoon of free entertainment in Sunshine featuring the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Youth Chorus) – 1 February
  • PRIDE MARCH (march with other western suburbs GLBTIQ people as part of the Go West group!) – 2 February
  • NO H8 Campaign Australia (the infamous marriage equality campaign comes down under for the first time – and to Newport!) – 15 February

For more details of the events and to book tickets (even for free events), please visit – http://midsumma.org.au/program/gowest

 

 

Australia Day in Altona

Are you looking for something to do on Australia Day? Why not come to Altona with your family and friends to soak up all that Altona has to offer including:

– Outdoor market
– Cobb & Co Coach Rides
– Camel rides
– Roving entertainment
– Free children’s activities (face painting, sand art etc)
– Altona Homestead Australiana Exhibition with music & food
– Devonshire Tea in the park (Country Women’s Association)
– Great Aussie Sausage Sizzle
– Live music all day (2 stages)
– Great outdoor cafes
– Aussie Car Display
– Fireworks at 9pm

Proudly supported by the Hobsons Bay City Council and organised by the Altona Village Traders Association.

Altona Beach, Sunday 26th January from 11am to 9pm.

 

 

Summer Sounds – every Sunday in February!

We have lots more free and fun things to do in Altona and Williamstown over summer!  The council proudly presents our annual Summer Sounds series at Logan Reserve, Altona (across the road from the pier) and Commonwealth Reserve, Williamstown. We have something for everyone, including Swing, Jazz, Blues, Folk, Funk, Rock, Soul and Country!

All these events are FREE, so bring your family and friends, a picnic, rug and deck chairs and enjoy! We also have lots of lovely cafes and restaurants nearby.