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    GETTING TO KNOW YOUR INNER-WEST COUNCILLORS

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    Last year’s council elections in Brimbank, Maribyrnong and Hobson’s Bay were different to any other. COVID aside, many incumbents decided not to run, which meant quite a few new faces among the candidates. The Westsider’s editor Derek Green is finding out more about those elected. Here’s the second instalment – Pamela Sutton-Legaud of Hobson’s Bay City Council.

    Can you tell us the backstory of how you came to Australia?

    I have always loved to travel and lived in Dubai in the UAE for three years before returning to the UK and then migrating to Australia five years later. I had visited Sydney for a holiday and loved the country and Melbourne felt more like home so decided to settle here and have never left.

    You landed eventually 20 years ago in Williamstown – what was the appeal?

    As soon as I saw Williamstown, I was smitten. At the time I was living in Port Melbourne so just over the bridge. To live by the coast was always a dream, having grown up in London and to find such a historic, beautiful town at Williamstown was a delight. I was particularly taken by the view of the city across the bay which is sadly been blocked by the big cranes that have been more recently installed. I first lived in Clark St in a tiny 1890’s worker’s cottage – I had to sell my car to help buy that cottage! Then moved to Victoria St and am now in Willy North. I haven’t moved far in 20 years.

    What was your career focus during that period?

    Well I started an advertising career in England with Ogilvy & Mather Director and then in Australia, I joined Leo Burnett Connaghan & May, Lintas:Melbourne. After a few years, I felt I really needed to align my work with my values – I wasn’t really interested in selling more cars or cheese – and went back to study and earned my Grad certificate in Business at RMIT. I then moved to the non-profit sector – first by starting my own charity – The Wild Tiger Fund – raising awareness and funds for anti-poaching programs in India – we have lost 90% of the world’s wild tigers mostly to provide tiger bone for the traditional medicine market – and then I joined Oxfam Australia to run their direct marketing program. I really thrived in this sector and found my mission which has really centred around helping the most vulnerable – whether it’s women and children or wildlife. From Oxfam I moved to Plan International, another international aid agency and was recognised for my work with Plan and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games as a Victorian Telstra businesswoman of the Year in 2006. ‘I’m now a professional fundraising consultant working with non-profit organisations in Australia and New Zealand, helping them achieve greater financial sustainability.

    The flora and fauna of Australia has a special appeal for you doesn’t it?

    Yes – I found my way back to wildlife and conservation joining Bush Heritage Australia as Chief Marketing Officer – they have done a wonderful job of protecting entire landscapes around Australia. Then I became Foundation Director with Zoos Victoria, helping to raise more than $20million to restore the zoos’ infrastructure and contribute to protecting Victoria’s 20 most threatened species including many bird species such as the Helmeted Honeyeater which is down to tiny numbers in the wild and the Tasmanian Devil whose populations have been devastated by facial tumour disease. With Bush Heritage began my love of birds. I am a keen photographer and the birds around Victoria and Hobsons Bay are a joy, so whenever I take a walk I take my camera. I have a bird photography Facebook page – facebook.com/pamelasuttonlegaud. I’d love to have better skills to paint or draw birdlife but a camera can help me to capture their lives and threats and share them with those who also love our wildlife.

    You’re a big believer in continual education?

    Yes, in my professional life I have won several scholarships including to attend Stanford University through the Dyson Bequest to take a residential course to assist non-profit organisations with strategic development. That was life changing. I also received a scholarship from the AGSM Alumni to attend the University of NSW graduate school where I completed my Grad Dip and then incredibly, a further scholarship from the Australian Scholarships Association to finish my MBA. My learning has been greatly aided by all of the support I’ve received from different organisations who put their faith in me to complete my studies. It is a lesson to anyone considering further study – apply for a scholarship – you just never know unless you submit an application.

    What were the main reasons for wanting to run for council?

    As a new councillor with Hobsons Bay City Council since elections in 2020, it was a difficult time to be part of an election and of course there are things I would have done differently looking back. We could not talk with constituents in the way that would have been possible in previous years. Social media was very important and that has pros and cons – not everyone who cares about Hobsons Bay is active on social media. That’s one of the reasons why I love local papers and would love to see them get more support. I’m very happy to be on the board of Seddon Community Bank/Inner West Community Enterprises who have supported the work of The Westsider. We need more voices in our communities.

    Do you see yourself as a circuit-breaker councillor, or is this a long-term pursuit to transform Hobson’s Bay?

    Well I ran for council as I was concerned, with four of the incumbent councillors not standing three of whom were women, that there may be no women elected to the council unless more women ran as candidates. It was a difficult decision as I had not been politically active prior to the election. However I had wonderful support particularly from past councillors and people in my local community who encouraged me to run and helped me get through. I also wanted to be a voice for conservation, green space preservation and help to encourage community groups who perhaps get left out of conversations about new infrastructure to speak out.

    Reducing plastic packaging has been a focus for you, how can we improve?

    I would love to see a complete ban on single use plastics including all those plastic milk bottles and plastic wrapping around vegetables and encourage everyone to recycle and reuse whatever you can. If we could remove single use plastic from the value chain i.e. before it gets to the end user, that would be the best way to deal with it.

    I feel like this might be part of a broader concern for the environment?

    I am very committed to the environment – once it’s gone, it’s gone. I have watched the decline of birds everywhere I’ve visited in Australia – woodland birds are so tiny, weighing just a few grams. We lose so many to foxes, cats but more than anything, to loss of habitat. So I fully support the council’s Urban Forest Strategy – being a nature lover this was something I really wanted to champion and I’m glad to see the program rolling out. I was already involved in several great community groups including Hobsons Bay Wetlands Centre and Hobsons Bay Community Fund and I continue to actively support their work. The Wetlands Centre will be an amazing addition to the West, not just Hobsons Bay and I encourage everyone to visit their website to see what’s planned. Hobsons Bay Community Fund provides grants and support to non-profit organisations in Hobsons Bay and we have done such great work and again, encourage anyone seeking help to reach out. I’m also on the board of BirdLife Australia.

    Picture yourself in three years looking back at your time on council, what achievements do you hope to be celebrating?

    Over the next three years, I hope to see some of the results of the Urban Forest Strategy and the beginnings of the Maritime Precinct strategy which will particularly affect my ward, Strand Ward. I also hope to see sufficient support for the Wetlands Centre for that to be well under way. As joint Women’s Charter Champion I encourage any women who want to make a difference to contact me and talk about what would make a difference to their lives. It’s been a particularly challenging and sometimes scary year or so. I am looking for ways to make a positive impact on our community by engaging in open discussions to lead the council plan. I’m looking forward to these conversations – the more voices we hear, the better our plans will be and the more we can achieve for each other.

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