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Getting Your Voice Heard – Being An Active Citizen

Our Year 7 Humanities students are not holding back getting their voices heard with several critical political events occurring locally and internationally. As part of their study into Civics and Citizenship, they were asked to investigate a local issue they were passionate about and submit to their mayor. Numerous issues were selected, including AGL’s Hastings gas import terminal, the illegal poaching of spider crabs in Rye, dog beaches, domestic cats, dangerous intersections, and Hooded Plover protection on the Mornington Peninsula.

Max McG completed his submission on linking Balnarring to the Red Hill Rail Trail and received some good news from Sam Hearn, the Mayor of Mornington. Telling him the council is working hard to secure additional funding from the State and Federal Governments “for a range of key bike paths across the Peninsula.” Below is his submission.

Dear Councillor Sam Hearn (Mayor),

I am writing to you because of an issue that I have noticed over the last couple of years. I am talking about bike tracks. I am sharing the information that I have to solve this issue, along with some photos and videos. This is my topic - Linking Balnarring to the Red Hill Rail Trail with tracks and paths that are safe for riders and walkers. There already is a way that you can get there, but it is a tough ride, let alone walking there and it involves going on the roads. It would be great to have a real path to get there, as all the young riders are the next generation and active citizens of the Mornington Peninsula. Since we are a democracy, I hope you take my idea and try to make our community a better place.  There are three different levels of Government in Australia: The Federal, State, and Local Government. Some of the things that Local Governments are responsible for, include managing parks, garbage collection and bike tracks. The State Government is responsible for managing road works, drivers' licences, education and policing. The Federal Government is responsible for: the military, air traffic control, airports and the economy. My issue is going to be best dealt with our local government. This is because the local government looks after our parks and bike tracks by keeping them clean and safe to ride and play on. The key groups that are affected by this issue are young riders, adventures, all the way to walkers and even people in their cars. You may ask why the people in cars are affected, well the track you take at the moment to the rail trail is on the side of Frankston Flinders Road. Which can cause some very close accidents. I am interested in this topic because I love to go for rides with friends and family. The rail-trail is one of my favourite rides and I hope that there is going to be a safe and fun bike trail that connects Balnarring to the rail trail. 

Lots of people like to go for family rides, individual rides or rides with friends. We all like to come home from these rides safe and sound, but if there is no safe path for us to ride, we may come home injured or not at all. The problem that the Mornington Peninsular riding community is facing is that we don't have a bike path that connects Balnarring to the Red Hill Rail Trail. So, we have to ride on the Frankston Flinders Road which is a busy road and not safe at all. The big thing is that during this pandemic, we all need to get out of the house for exercise. 67% of the people on the Mornington Peninsula ride every week according to the 2010 to 2014 survey 'Mornington Peninsula bicycle strategy ride safe' document. Think about all of the people that would love the new path from Balnarring to the Red Hill Rail Trail. It would unlock many new opportunities for different riders, walkers and tourists. This path may take money and time, but it will have many positive outcomes when it is finished for example lots of kids will love it and ride on it every day. At the top of the Rail Trail, there is a bicycle skills park that lots of kids from all over the Peninsula like to ride. It would be so cool if you could just jump on your bike with your mates and ride there from Balnarring. 

I am hoping for a proactive start to making our community a better place by building a safe, fun and maintained bike track from Balnarring to the Red Hill Rail Trail that we all can love and enjoy. What the local government should do is go out to bike trails and survey people and ask if there should be a bike track from Balnarring to the Red Hill Rail Trail. The actual path will cost some money but there are many solutions to that problem - many mountain bike riders like to build trails and jumps, so they can help. The local council could also visit schools on the Mornington Peninsula and talk about if they would like to build tracks. Many kids like outdoor adventures and exercising and use shovels to dig big holes and all of that kind of stuff. There are so many ways that we could build this trail - all we have to do is get started! I have suggested that we visit places and take surveys about if they ride the Red Hill Rail Trail and to think about what this track will do to their life. 

I don't know one person that doesn't like to get out of the house and go for a walk or a ride. I know some people prefer swimming or horse riding, but I don't think that would make them not want to have this track built. There could be people that don't want their tax money spent on a bike trail, but this money is going towards something that will help our community, therefore it will be a great addition to our amazing community. Some people don't want trees cut down or dirt to be dug up. One of the things that riders love so much about riding is that they are out in nature and feel fresh air. I know that there are people out there that want this path built and are committed to helping build it and can make it happen. Some people are not going to like this path, but I am telling you this, the path is going to make such a huge difference to the next generation of kids. This project will have ups and downs, it will be bumpy and there may be some roadblocks but we will push through so we can have the path that we need.

In summary, my key points are that we need a safe, well-maintained bike track from Balnarring to the Red Hill Rail Trail. I want action to take place as soon as possible. We need this path as it's a necessity for our community and its future. Sam Hearn, as you have lived on the Mornington Peninsula for 16 years, you have seen first-hand the expanding and growing of our communities and how the things that make our community a better place are the things that make our life fun, safe and easier. I'm so happy that in the last couple of weeks the Mornington Peninsula Shire has announced the ride safe cycling network for the Peninsula. This is going to help with my problem so much because it will give the drive to start the path. This project could be done in a very short amount of time. It could be done in a couple of weeks, so why don't we start now? I chose to send this message to you because you have lived on the Mornington Peninsula for 16 years, so you know that kids like myself love outdoor adventures and there are heaps of place to go and do that kind of stuff. I know that you are engaged in schools and youth clubs, and I believe that this would provide a great way to get them doing activities that will be fun and at the same time benefit our community. I hope that my letter makes you and the council build this bike track that the community needs.

Sincerely 
Max McG

Click here to support Danny A's fight against Ryman Healthcare's proposal to build a retirement  village in Mt Eliza. His protest goes on, and he recently received confirmation that his objections “were considered” from the Shire’s Principal Planner.

Harry H argued strongly for developing a skatepark in Flinders. Mornington’s youngest ever Mayor, Sam Hearn, agreed - feeling it personally and stated there was a need for “more opportunities and projects for young people in our community to engage in.”

Aston C focused his submission on how to enhance the lives of those suffering with mental health issues. In his response, Sam Hearn (Mayor) shared how he had experienced challenges as a teenager and that the Council continues to develop programmes to help those who may be struggling.

MARK ADAMS
Year 7 Humanities Teacher