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Mayor: Use Wimmera-southern Mallee transport service or risk losing it

Horsham Rural City Council Mayor Pam Clarke has urged West Wimmera communities to either embrace or risk losing a Wimmera Southern Mallee Community Transport Service.
Cr Clarke made the comments during the official launch of stage one of the project, adding that she was passionate about its development.
“My philosophy is that if Horsham is strong, its regions will be strong, and vice-versa,” Cr Clarke said.
“For this service to receive funding is just amazing and I congratulate everyone involved on four years of hard work getting it off the ground.”
A joint Transport for Victoria and Centre for Participation project, stage one of the planned three-stage service will enable Kaniva, Nhill, Jeparit, Dimboola and Pimpinio residents to access a weekly bus service to Horsham.
“The team has worked hard to fill the gaps for our rural communities and it is important we support this service,” Cr Clarke said.
“It’s vital for the sustainability of our towns.We deserve access to basic services to make our ability to live in these communities easier.
“Why should it be just Melbourne that has access to transport?
“I am passionate about this project and I’ll keep fighting for it.”
Centre for Participation chief executive Julie Pettett said although it felt like ‘an incredibly long time’ getting to the launch, it was fantastic to see the project get off the ground and worth the wait.
After spending four years developing a framework to establish a new service, Ms Pettett said access to human services, non-emergency medical appointments and education were key areas where gaps were identified.
“Many small and remote communities have limited, or no, access to public transport,” she said. “We want to help our residents stay in their homes and regions longer, by reducing these transport barriers, and thank the government for its commitment to support us.”
Wimmera Southern Mallee Community Transport Service Steering Committee chair David Leahy agreed.
“Disconnectedness and isolation in rural areas is a major problem,” he said.
“A lack of access to transport leads to social disconnection and affects mental health and wellbeing, so it’s pleasing to see this service get off the ground, with more work being done to further improve large scale transport in the Wimmera.”
Mr Leahy described the uptake of the service as ‘exceptionally’ positive.
He said further uptake would highlight to the State Government that it was more than a pilot service – one that was both needed and become entrenched in rural and remote communities.
“It has grown into more than just a bus trip into Horsham,” Mr Leahy said.
“It is a step towards equalising services and I look forward to seeing the benefits it brings to our region.”
Mr Leahy highlighted the work of volunteers and said the Wimmera was ‘punching above its weight’ with its enthusiastic volunteers.
“We had volunteers knocking on the door asking how they could help, even before the service started, which was fantastic,” he said.

The entire December 6, 2017 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Dec 6 2017

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