Yarra News - April/May 2017

Mayor’s message

Mayor Amanda StoneThis edition of Yarra News contains information about the consultation for our Draft Council Plan, Draft Annual Budget, which includes a Proposed Waste Service Charge, and the Draft Long Term Financial Strategy.

These documents are designed to meet the needs and expectations of Yarra’s growing and diverse community. I encourage you to get involved by attending one of our drop-in information sessions and by making a submission. Refer to the story below for more information.

Our city is named after the Yarra River which shapes our eastern boundary. The Yarra River is arguably Melbourne’s greatest natural asset and it has been used and abused over the past 200 years, as well as loved and celebrated, and its beauty and natural features have been threatened by encroaching development and poor water quality.

Yarra Council and community members and groups, including the Yarra Riverkeeper, have been advocating for many years for better protection of the Yarra Corridor so the recent State Government announcement of a landmark Yarra River Action Plan was welcome news. You can read more about this good news below.

Other good news this month includes the opening of Bargoonga Nganjin, a new library and community facility in Fitzroy North. With a range of community services under one roof, and state of the art environmental features, this is a $14.5m investment in Yarra’s community, many of whom contributed to the process over a number of years. For your commitment, we thank you.

Finally, Yarra is home to many respected and effective community activists. Josip Lenger, a strong, persistent and reliable advocate for public housing tenants in Fitzroy, passed away recently and Council pays tribute to his contribution to the Yarra community over many years.

Cr Amanda Stone

Hellen SkyTake to the Skylab

The opening of a new dance studio has further enhanced Yarra’s reputation as a centre for the arts. Part of the iconic Dancehouse in North Carlton, the ‘Skylab’ studio is using Wi-Fi enabled audio-visual technology to transform the way we think about dance.

Dancehouse Artistic Director and CEO Angela Conquet says that Skylab will support “a vast array of activities and explorations from classical ballet classes to the edgiest digital choreographic explorations.”

Angela notes that the new studio is named in honour of digital performance pioneer (and Dancehouse co-founder) Hellen Sky. “Skylab is both a gift and an invitation to all those who will be working within its walls, to be as ferociously creative, wildly imaginative and profoundly inspiring as Hellen Sky herself.”

Visit www.dancehouse.com.au to book your place at one of the studio’s many upcoming performances.

Skylab was made possible by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Yarra Council’s Room to Create program, which is helping arts organisations meet the rising costs of operating in the inner city.

Council’s Room to Create program aims to foster more affordable and sustainable spaces for Yarra’s arts community.

To learn more about the fund or to make a tax-deductable donation, visit www.yarracityarts.com.au/room-tocreate or call us on 9205 5555.

MCH VintageA century of care

In 1917, Richmond City Council established Victoria’s first baby health centre, making this year the 100th anniversary of maternal and child health services in this state.

Located at the Matthias Church Hall in Richmond, the service was lobbied for and partially funded by local women concerned about high rates of infant mortality.

Maternal and child health services then spread throughout the state, helping to guide and support families as they welcomed their children into the world.

Today Yarra Council operates eight maternal and child health centres, with a new service opening at the Bargoonga Nganjin community facility in North Fitzroy.

To learn more about maternal and child health services in Yarra, visit www.yarracity.vic.gov.au/mch or contact Council at info@yarracity.vic.gov.au or on 9205 5555.

The legacy continues

While a century has passed since the pioneering days of the service, the motivations of today’s maternal and child health workers remain the same.

Ann Bond is one of Yarra’s longest serving maternal and child health nurses. Ann decided to become a nurse in order to “support women at their most vulnerable” and “stand with the family for many years”.

“It is a privilege to follow the family on their journey and to celebrate their overcoming the difficult times,” she said.

Bargoonga Nganjin KidsWelcome to Bargoonga Nganjin

We’re celebrating the launch of Bargoonga Nganjin, our newest library in North Fitzroy, which officially opened its doors on 8 April.

The library

Our exciting new library offers programs and services to encourage lifelong learning and creativity.

These include digital literacy programs, regular children’s storytime sessions, creative programs and events, such as author talks, panel discussions, films and music performances, as well as events in community languages.

Library opening hours

Monday, Tuesday, Friday 10am–6pm

Wednesday and Thursday 10am–8pm

Saturday 10am–4pm

Sunday 2pm–5pm

Council customer service

Bargoonga Nganjin has a customer service counter where you can speak to our friendly staff about applying for a parking permit, paying your rates, registering your pet or any other Council-related matter.

The customer service counter is open from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Maternal child health services and playgroups

Bargoonga Nganjin offers maternal child health and playgroup services, including child health and development, first time parent groups, feeding rooms, facilitated playgroups, community playgroups, parent information sessions and first aid sessions.

Bargoonga Nganjin means ‘Gather Everybody’ in Woiwurrung, the language of the Wurundjeri people.

Community meeting rooms and activity spaces for hire

Bargoonga Nganjin offers meeting rooms and activity spaces for hire by the community, including:

  • A large activity space for up to 150 people
  • Two medium-sized meeting rooms with audio visual facilities
  • A conference room ideal for showing films or holding lectures.

Building features

Bargoonga Nganjin has achieved a six Green Star rating – the highest environmental rating awarded by the Green Building Council of Australia.

Sustainable features include:

  • Solar panels on the roof providing up to 12.5 kilowatts of power
  • Facades to reduce heating from sunlight
  • Collection of rainwater for reuse throughout
  • An automatic irrigation system for rooftop garden plants, with moisture sensors to minimise water usage
  • Energy efficient fixtures and fittings.

Getting there

Bargoonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library is located at 182 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy.

Public transport: Tram 11 (Alfred Crescent, Stop 21).

Bicycle parking is also available.

Everyone is welcome at Bargoonga Nganjin – we hope to see you there soon!

Mayor Stone at Yarra RiverProtecting the Yarra River

The Yarra River is a haven for many of the things that enrich us as a community, from beautiful plant and animal life to priceless opportunities for rest and recreation.

Yarra Council has long advocated for stronger protections for this valuable natural asset and for a more coordinated approach to managing development along the Yarra River Corridor.

That’s why Yarra Council has welcomed the State Government’s announcement of the new Yarra River Action Plan. The plan responds to Council’s calls for greater protection of the Yarra and will inform new planning controls to prevent developments from unduly encroaching upon or overshadowing the river.

It is expected that mandatory setbacks and building heights will be adjusted in some areas to improve protection of landscapes and biodiversity along the river. Setbacks will typically be between 30 and 50 metres from the river edge.

We anticipate that permanent planning scheme changes will go through a normal amendment process with opportunities for consultation, submissions and review by an advisory committee. This will provide opportunities to assess and adjust the new controls in response to community input.

Visit the State Government’s Yarra River Protection page for more on this announcement.

Graffiti TeamOff the wall

If you have graffiti in your neighbourhood, Yarra Council is making it easier than ever to tackle the problem.

We’re providing free graffiti removal kits to allow you to wash away messy tags or smaller pieces of graffiti from your own home or business.

The kits include an environmentally friendly cleaning solvent, a scrubbing brush, goggles, gloves and a paintbrush. We’re also offering discount vouchers for purchasing exterior paint from many local paint and hardware suppliers.

Our dedicated Graffiti Management Team responds to about 12,000 graffiti requests per year. Priority jobs include graffiti hotspots, shopping strips and Council assets, as well as offensive graffiti and bill poster removal.

To request your free graffiti removal kit, contact us at info@yarracity.vic.gov.au or on 9205 5555. Visit our graffiti page to learn more about our approach to graffiti management.

Oxford Pocket ParkGuiding Yarra’s growth

Yarra is becoming an increasingly desirable place to live. Our unique lifestyle, close proximity to the city, access to services and good public transport connections are expected to draw an extra 29,000 people to our municipality in the next 15 years.

One of the most challenging issues for Council, both now and into the future, is managing growth and development.

For many people it can also be the most perplexing. Some people believe the rate of growth is too fast and that new development impacts on the look and feel of their neighbourhood. They want to see better design outcomes, protection of heritage and more open space.

Some people view new development as providing opportunities for sustainable, inner-city living, close to jobs and vibrant retail and night-time precincts.

While Council does not always have the power to determine the precise nature and scale of development, it is working hard to preserve the unique character of Yarra while capitalising on the opportunities presented by growth.

This feature is the first of a series aimed at helping readers understand how Council manages growth and development within local and state planning guidelines.

Change – what can we expect?

Yarra’s growing population is expected to mostly live in apartments. Many new residents will choose apartment living because it is generally more affordable than a house.

Almost 50% of people living in Yarra are renting, and this trend is expected to continue.

Where can new development go?

We often hear concerns from residents that major development occurs everywhere in Yarra and that buildings can be as high as the developer wants them.

In reality, areas where new housing can be built, and how high it can be, are carefully controlled by State Government-approved ‘zones’.

For example, about 70% of residential land in Yarra is covered by the Neighbourhood Residential Zone – restricting the height of new developments to nine metres and a maximum of two storeys.

The General Residential Zone applies to about 30% of residential land and also limits building heights.

Larger developments can occur in ‘strategic redevelopment areas’ – often located near shopping strips and other busy areas linked to public transport. These are generally in Commercial and Mixed Use Zones. There are also unique sites, like the former paper mill in Alphington.

We believe these areas are generally a good fit for new housing, although each development is assessed on its own merits on a case-by-case basis.

What does council consider when deciding on a new development?

Assessing a new planning application is complex. Council must consider a range of detailed planning rules and policies – as well as community feedback, balancing sometimes competing expectations.

Yarra’s key policies include:

  • Yarra Planning Scheme - sets out the local and state policies and controls for the way land can be used and developed.
  • Plan Melbourne - the State Government’s blueprint for where and how growth will happen in inner-Melbourne to 2050.
  • Heritage - many properties in Yarra have a Heritage Overlay. The overlay protects properties and precincts that contribute to the unique heritage character of Yarra.
  • Environment - new developments are assessed for environmentally sustainable design – including efficient water and energy use, sustainable building materials and more.

The State Government recently introduced new planning controls for the Yarra River that restricts the height of new buildings along the river and how far they are set back from the river’s edge. See story above for more.


New housing helps to accommodate Yarra’s growing population, while often benefiting the wider community.

These developments can offer new community infrastructure – such as meeting rooms and sporting facilities. Over the last few years, Council has used compulsory developer contributions to create five new neighbourhood ‘pocket parks’. We also negotiate for social and affordable housing to be included in new developments – ensuring people on lower incomes can continue to live in Yarra.

For example, the new development on the former paper mill site in Alphington is required to include at least 125 affordable homes.

New development, in the right area, can also help revitalise shopping strips, provide housing close to employment areas and boost the local economy.

City profile


  • 2011 – 78,903 residents
  • 2016 – 92,610 residents
  • 2021 – 103,830 residents
  • 2031 – 122,022 residents


  • Semi-detached/town house – 41%
  • Flat, unit or apartment – 37%
  • Separate house – 22%


  • Jobs – 66,792
  • Active businesses – 13,621
  • Gross Regional Product – $9.5b


  • 51% owner-occupiers
  • 49% renters (including 11% in public housing)

Planning for the future

Council does a great deal of planning work behind the scenes to ensure we make informed decisions.

Recently, we have completed:

  • A review of heritage properties, leading to additional heritage protections to a number of precincts and places. Six heritage assessments have resulted in six amendments to the planning scheme
  • Structure plans for Swan Street in Richmond and Johnston Street in Collingwood and Abbotsford that outline a long-term vision for the precincts
  • A review of Mixed Use Zones (areas that are both residential and commercial) to understand how these areas may accommodate new housing.

We are also working to update the Yarra Planning Scheme so our planning policies better respond to Yarra’s growth.

An updated version of the scheme is expected to be released later this year and we will be inviting our community to have their say.

Would you like to know more?

Visit the planning section of this website for more information about:

  • Advertised planning applications
  • What to consider when applying for, or objecting to, a planning permit
  • Information about heritage and environmentally sustainable design
  • State Government planning initiatives
  • Structure and Local Area Plans
  • Planning studies, strategies and guidelines
  • Urban Design Frameworks and Streetscapes
  • Yarra Planning Scheme.

Shape_Yarra_Future_5Help shape Yarra’s future

Consultation on Yarra’s Draft Council Plan, Annual Budget, Long Term Financial Strategy and Proposed Waste Service Charge is now open.

Have your say from Thursday 6 April to Thursday 4 May 2017.

Yarra Council is seeking feedback on some of our key strategic documents:

  • Draft Council Plan 2017–21 incorporating the Health Plan
  • Draft Annual Budget 2017-18
  • Draft Long Term Financial Strategy 2017-18 to 2026-27
  • Proposed Waste Service Charge.

The draft documents were informed by more than 2,330 community suggestions from our engagement activities during November 2016 - January 2017.

Read the draft documents

Online: www.yoursayyarra.com.au

In person:

  • Richmond Town Hall, 333 Bridge Road, Richmond
  • Collingwood Town Hall, 140 Hoddle Street, Abbotsford
  • Connie Benn Centre, 160 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
  • All Yarra Libraries branches.

Learn more

Attend one of our drop-in information sessions.

  • Wednesday 19 April, 6–8pm at Edinburgh Gardens Community Room, Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy
  • Friday 21 April, 12–2pm at Studio One Community Hub, 15 Barnet Way, Richmond
  • Thursday 27 April, 6–8pm at Fitzroy Town Hall, 201 Napier Street, Fitzroy
  • Saturday 29 April, 10am–12pm at Collingwood Senior Citizens Centre, Eddy Court, Abbotsford.

If you have questions about the documents or the process, please contact Council on 9205 5555.

Make a submission

Online: www.yoursayyarra.com.au

Email: info@yarracity.vic.gov.au

Post: Yarra City Council, Your Say Yarra Consultation, PO Box 168, Richmond VIC 3121

Please note in your submission which of the four documents you are responding to.

Waste Service Charge submissions will also be treated as feedback on Council’s Draft Annual Budget 2017-18.

All submissions must be received by 5pm on Thursday 4 May 2017.

Speak to your submission

Council will hear verbal submissions at a Special Council Meeting at 6.30pm on Wednesday 17 May at Richmond Town Hall.

If you lodged a submission before the deadline, and your submission stated an intention to speak in support of it (or have someone else speak on your behalf) you will be given an opportunity to do so at this meeting – we will contact you.

Final adoption

Council is expected to adopt the draft documents – with or without changes – at an Ordinary Council Meeting at 7pm on Tuesday 6 June at Richmond Town Hall.


Yarra’s proposed Council Plan 2017–21 incorporating the Health Plan establishes Council’s priorities and goals for the next four years.

It has been divided into the following seven strategic objectives:

City of Yarra, a place where:

  1. Community health, safety and wellbeing are a focus in everything we do
  2. Inclusion, diversity and uniqueness are welcomed, respected and celebrated
  3. Council leads on sustainability and protects and enhances its natural environment
  4. Development and growth are managed to maintain and enhance the character and heritage of the city
  5. Local businesses prosper and creative and knowledge industries thrive
  6. Connectivity and travel options are environmentally sustainable, integrated and well-designed
  7. Transparency, performance and community participation drive the way we operate.

The proposed Council Plan 2017–21 incorporating the Health Plan also includes a Strategic Resource Plan outlining how the strategies will be financed.


Yarra Council’s Draft Annual Budget 2017-18 details the financial resources required to provide important services and infrastructure for Yarra’s growing and diverse community.

Budget at a glance:

  • $174m total operating expenditure budget
  • $30m for capital works projects and other new initiatives
  • $2m for community grants
  • 2% increase in general rates (in line with the rate cap)
  • 2% increase in the rate rebate for pensioners
  • Proposed Waste Service Charge including a 50% rebate for pensioners and health care card holders (see article below).

The draft budget supports hundreds of vital services as well new initiatives, including:

  • $500,000 to extend the separated bike lane in Wellington St, Collingwood
  • $450,000 for a new park at the corner of Charles and Mollison streets in Abbotsford
  • $240,000 to improve the Victoria Street streetscape in Richmond
  • $102,000 for a marker honouring members of the Stolen Generations
  • $100,000 to support Cubbies Adventure Playground.


Our draft Long Term Financial Strategy provides the framework to support Council’s financial sustainability into the future.


Yarra Council is considering a proposal to introduce a new separate Waste Service Charge to meet the rising cost of waste services and improve Council’s long term financial sustainability.

The proposal, which would involve a new flat service fee for all properties based on bin size, would see Yarra join 73 other Victorian councils already applying a separate Waste Service Charge in addition to their general rates.

Council is considering this option because:

  • The cost to deliver waste services is expected to increase 6.5% per year (triple the State Government’s 2% rate cap), leading to a $20m shortfall over the next decade
  • Council has significant budgetary challenges associated with a growing population, ageing infrastructure, rate capping, reduced grants, cost shifting and the need to repay debt and build cash reserves in the short to medium term.

The proposal would enable Council to reallocate the $8.5 million previously collected for waste services from within general rates, to improving Council’s finances so it is better placed to respond to emerging community priorities and external constraints.

Among the options open to Council would be to allocate this money to reducing debt and/or growing cash reserves which would improve Council’s liquidity immediately and provide opportunities in the future to be innovative and responsive.

If Council chooses not to implement the Waste Service Charge it will need to look at other ways to address the financial challenges. This could result in Council having to reduce services, service levels and/or capital expenditure.

Income from the Waste Service Charge would pay for the weekly collection of rubbish and recycling, as well as Yarra’s green and hard waste services. A Waste Service Charge would ensure that these services could be maintained at a high level into the future.

How much will the Waste Service Charge be?

The proposal is for a flat charge of $165 per year for households with standard 80 litre bins and $247.50 for households that currently have a 120 litre bin.

Commercial properties using Council’s domestic bin collection services would pay $165 for an 80 litre bin, $247.50 for a 120 litre bin and $800 for a 240 litre bin. GST may be applicable to the commercial property charge.

Rebate for pensioners and health care card holders

Council is proposing a 50% rebate on the Proposed Waste Service Charge for pensioners and health care card holders in 2017-18, subject to annual review. Details on how to apply for the rebate would be provided with rate notices.

Saba AlemayohFaces of Yarra

Passionate about her Ethiopian heritage, Saba Alemayoh left the corporate world to open Brunswick Street’s Saba’s Restaurant (with her mother Tekebash) and Nicholson Street’s Afro Hub.

Saba works seven days a week, but lives by the old saying, “If you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.”

Follow @CityOfYarra on Instagram for more on Saba Alemayoh and our other #FacesOfYarra.



Medically supervised injecting facility

Yarra Council will ask the State Government to trial a Medically Supervised Injecting Facility (MSIF) in Richmond to help prevent a repeat of the overdose deaths that occurred in Yarra in 2016.

A MSIF in the vicinity of Victoria Street would help save lives, connect people with health services and provide them with an opportunity for rehabilitation.

Council will make a formal submission to the parliamentary inquiry on this subject.

Height controls introduced for queens parade site

Interim planning controls have been introduced for proposed development sites at 26 – 56 Queens Parade in North Fitzroy.

The controls, introduced in March by the Minister for Planning, apply a mandatory maximum of 10 storeys for the main part of the site and a mandatory maximum of three storeys for the small triangle site to the rear.

Council joined with the local community to advocate for mandatory maximum height controls and setbacks for the site, which was subject to a planning application originally proposing to develop the land into a 16 storey building.

If you have any comments or queries about Yarra News, please contact us at yarranews@yarracity.vic.gov.au or call 9205 5555.

Large print and audio versions are also available.


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