The announcement of a change to state policy on permanent caravan park residents is a testament to the power of a collective community voice.
Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas announced on Monday changes that will allow existing permanent residents to remain in crown land caravan parks, while preventing any new permanent residencies.
The statewide change can be at least partly attributed to a push from members of the Hepburn Shire Council and wider Daylesford community in an effort save the permanent residents at Daylesford Holiday Park, including a couple in their 90s, from being forced to leave.
A significant number of members of the Daylesford community threw their support behind the residents, who were told to leave by park owners in March.
Policy introduced by DELWP in 2011 indicated it was unlawful for them to remain permanent residents in the crown land park.
In response, passionate community members formed the Daylesford Victoria Caravan Park Campaign Committee, to act as a voice for the distressed residents.
Hepburn Shire mayor Sebastian Klein and CEO Aaron van Egmond met with Suburban Development Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to raise concerns for the caravan park residents in July.
Following the meeting, Cr Kate Redwood organised a public forum about homelessness in August, where 26 attendees agreed to write to Suburban Development Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz asking for protections for caravan park residents.
The policy change for caravan park residents is a testament to the power of community when individuals band together with the support of local council to create change. The result shows the power of dialogue between community members, councillors and state government representatives to see concerns raised and addressed.
It is hoped productive dialogue will continue as the detail of the policy is developed in coming months, to clarify how committees of management and private operators are to manage permanent residents.
It is important to continue respectful discussions while Hepburn Shire Council and the lessee amend the lease for the park, to officially allow the existing permanent residents to remain in their homes. An amendment to the lease would result in the best outcome for all involved.