History defining chance for Yarra Ranges

Sue Thompson reads through historical newspaper records in front of the Old Lilydale Courthouse. 200586 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Romy Stephens

The Yarra Ranges Council could be the first municipality in the country to formally acknowledge the value of history, according to the Yarra Ranges Heritage Network.

Lilydale Historical Society President Sue Thompson asked Councillors at their 26 November meeting to consider embedding a statement on the value of history into the council’s own vision statement.

Ms Thomspon spoke on behalf of the Heritage Network and said if the statement is incorporated, Yarra Ranges will be the first council in the country to do so.

“Yarra Ranges is a progressive, forward-thinking council,” she said.

“You can show leadership in your community and to local governments throughout Victoria by adopting the Value of History’s two-sentence statement.”

That statement summarised how sharing stories of the past are critical to communities, a sense of belonging and the future.

Ms Thompson also said the Heritage Network would like to see more Council projects referred to local heritage groups for input so each project can be put into its community context.

“History is not about stopping development, it’s about setting that project or development in its community context,” she said.

“Through Council’s various projects you are not building and planning for today, you are building for the future.

“What decisions you make today will be your lasting legacy to our community and will become part of our community’s history.”

Councillors that spoke in response to Ms Thompson’s request were unanimously supportive of the idea.

Cr Fiona McAllister said the value of history should be recognised throughout the region.

“Professionally and as a Councillor and as a human being I truly understand the power of stories,” she said.

“I applaud every single historical society that we have and I hope we continue to support them.

“I’ll certainly support the inclusion of these statements in our documents.”

The request comes after the State Government recently announced the Local History Grants Program which will allow community organisations across Victoria to share in $350,000 worth of grants.

Organisations can apply for individual grants of up to $15,000.

The last round of the program saw 49 community groups across the state receive funding.

Applications close on 8 January next year and can be made by visiting prov.vic.gov.au/community/grants-and-awards.

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