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 third instalment – Mayor Ranka Rasic of Brimbank City Council

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

    After the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, I came to Melbourne with my young family and made the City of Brimbank my very first Australian home.

    You landed eventually in Brimbank – what drew you here?

    The multiculturalism and mixture of different nationalities, traditions and culture made Brimbank feel like a home away from home. I quickly grew to love this vibrant city where I made life long connections through work and community. Whether I’m walking down Alfrieda Street in St Albans, doing my groceries at Watergardens Shopping Centre or visiting the Sunshine Town Centre, I can almost always hear my native language spoken along with dozens of other languages that contribute to our diverse Brimbank. When I’m out and about in Brimbank I can see the continuous evolvement of different nationalities as they too settle down and call Brimbank their home, whether it’s through food, music or dance. Every trip to our bustling centres across our city is a unique experience and really proves that every corner of Brimbank is special.

    The west is home to many cultures and backgrounds, did being from ‘elsewhere’ give you a special insight into their challenges?

    It certainly did. Having come from a different country, I experienced many barriers, whether it was learning the English language or finding my first job. It’s a very unique and challenging experience. So I can understand what people of different cultures and backgrounds experience when arriving in Australia, especially when it comes to fitting in.

    What has your life consisted of through that period?

    I migrated to Australia in the 90s, and Brimbank became my home. Prior to becoming Mayor, most of my time was devoted to my small business in Taylors Lakes and raising my children in our local area. I’ve always had a strong passion for community and advocacy. I was involved in a range of local community engagements, including advocacy for the improvement of local roads. I ran a successful campaign for the installation of road safety barriers in Taylors Lakes, which made it all the way to the Victorian Parliament.

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

    I was inspired to run for office by my passion for community. After speaking to so many locals about what matters to them and their frustration with the lack of action in our local area, I decided to put my hand up and help contribute to create a better Brimbank for everyone.

    Is this part of a long-term pursuit to transform Brimbank?

    Brimbank’s greatest strength is its commitment to inclusivity. As Mayor of Brimbank, I am working with my fellow Councillors to enhance Brimbank’s standing as a vibrant and inclusive community, and to continuing the special legacy of inclusion that Brimbank represents. My focus is on the important tasks of improving and enhancing Brimbank to ensure the best possible quality of life for the community, and of supporting and advocating for Brimbank through the process of recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. During my term as a Brimbank Councillor, I’m working to address key issues that our community is facing, including the need for better local roads, improved community services, even better parks for residents, creating a more sustainable and greener Brimbank and making sure that Brimbank gets its fair share of funding. Advocating for Brimbank with other levels of government is also essential. Earlier this year I and some fellow Councillors attended the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly in Canberra to advocate for Brimbank at a national level.

    I was thrilled to receive unanimous support of the Assembly for Brimbank’s four notices of motion on crucial issues such as climate change, expanding JobKeeper and JobSeeker, investing in social and affordable housing, and a Jobs and Skills Partnership for local governments.

    I also had the opportunity to advocate for important priorities during meetings at Parliament House, including building the Sunshine Super Hub and reconsidering the Albion flyover as part of the Melbourne Airport Rail Link. In the past year, Brimbank has successfully advocated for more than $160 million in State and Federal investments for our community and we’ll keep going.

    What are your passions and motivations?

    As a progressive woman in politics, the advancement of female representation across all levels of government and sectors is a huge passion of mine. As a young migrant who came to Australia in the 90s, I would love to see more people share my vision of greater female representation. My journey to becoming both a small business owner and local representative has taught me the hardship women face on the path to success. I hope to be a voice of inspiration to all women of all backgrounds and support them on their journey. As a small business owner I really want to support local businesses and let them know what support is out there, because small businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy and every level of government should be supporting them. Another major passion of mine is the environment. I believe that we are living in a time of a global climate emergency and think that all levels of government must do more to address the growing issue of climate change. As a mother of two children, I want to ensure that we protect and preserve our environment for generations to come.

    What does a perfect weekend look like for you and your family?

    Between running a small business and representing my community, I enjoy visiting the outdoors with my family when I can. Whether it’s going for a walk to the Organ Pipes or travelling up to regional Victoria for the day, I enjoy quality time spent with my family.

    Picture yourself in 3 years looking back at your time on council, what achievements do you hope to be celebrating?

    I hope to look back at the last four years and know I have done everything I can to represent my community. I want to make sure that as a team, our Council worked as hard as possible to secure as much funding for our local area from both State and Federal Governments. In particular I hope that in future years Brimbank residents will be driving down a safe and upgraded Calder Freeway and catching a train from a world class Sunshine Super Hub. I look forward to looking back at my four years and celebrating the delivery of my election commitments that I had made, by improving our Council services, greening our suburbs, upgrading our parks and improving key infrastructure such as our roads and footpaths.

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