Fostering community pride and focusing on the needs of the region as a whole while serving her own division are among the key goals of Moreton Bay’s newest councillor.
Voted in at the region’s first by-election in December, Yvonne Barlow is relishing the chance to represent the community again after a 13-year absence from council chambers.
The former Pine Rivers Shire Division 10 Councillor acknowledges the local government landscape has changed dramatically since the shire was dissolved to make way for Moreton Bay Regional Council – an amalgamation of Pine Rivers, Caboolture and Redcliffe councils – in 2008.
But she says one thing that hasn’t changed is the passion residents have for the communities in which they live.
“Some things I am working on at the moment are things I was involved in then and the residents are still involved,” Cr Barlow says.
“It’s great to be able to work with them again - you have to know where you have come from to be able to look forward.”
While she’s keen to lobby on behalf of the residents of Division 7, Cr Barlow says she’s also conscious of the need to represent the whole of the region and contribute to decision making that would benefit the greater good.
“It’s a very interesting time to come onto the council – it’s an exciting time.
“I left council 13 years ago and a lot has changed in that time - there’s a lot more layers and governance but they’re all important.”
While the region’s population has surged by more than 100,000 people in the past decade alone – the increase bringing with it complexity in terms of planning for the future and ensuring infrastructure keeps pace with growth - Cr Barlow says it’s still vital to ensure smaller projects that can also make a big difference don’t fall by the wayside.
“I want to raise the pride in the area,” she says.
“When I was a councillor before, I was lighting up the trees on Anzac Ave and doing beautification works at the end of streets.
“Yes, we have areas that are older, but it does not mean to say they should be left out.”
She looks around Yvonne Barlow Park with pride, reflecting on her role in bringing a hall from a church at Bald Hills to serve as a permanent home for Vietnam Veterans Brisbane North and the Kallangur Over 50s Social Club.
“(Pine Rivers Mayor) Yvonne Chapman had been organised to open the park,” Cr Barlow recalls.
“But that day she was really sick and losing her voice, and I said ‘do you want me to open it as the local councillor?’.
The mayor insisted on doing the opening and when Cr Barlow arrived the sign was uncovered, revealing the park was not to be called Ogg Road Park as voted in Council a few weeks earlier.
“I was so surprised when they took the cover off and they’d changed it to Yvonne Barlow Park,” she laughs.
“More than 700 people had signed a petition to change the name.”
Other issues close to Cr Barlow’s heart include road safety and green space and she is eager to establish more places where the community can connect.
“There’s a lot of green space in some areas, and it’s lacking in others, there are tiny parks in areas of Griffin where they need larger ones.
“You need areas of shade, drinking water and barbecues where people can meet.
“We have to look after the young, the elderly and in between.”