The Central Western Daily today features outgoing councillor Jason Hamling as the final of our profiles on the seven candidates standing for Orange mayor at the December 4 local government elections.
Name: Jason Hamling
Occupation: Small business owner, student support learning officer
What is your family situation: Married with three sons
How long have you lived in Orange: Born and bred in Orange, spent one year abroad
Most important issues: Family recreation. Recent census information shows the largest demographic in our city's population is the 0-4 year old group followed by the 30-39 year old group. This means we have a big proportion of young families living in Orange and there are more relocating as metropolitan areas become too crowded and costly.
The last 18 months of COVID-19 restrictions, lockdowns and stay at home orders have shone a light on the regional centres of NSW as viable places for more young people to live and work. But we have some gaps in the lifestyle facilities Orange has on offer to help these young families and professional couples to stay here and enjoy the local region.
We don't want young professionals who have made the move to Orange to have to go elsewhere on their weekends or holidays because of a lack of facilities here in town. So I propose a program of council-led incentives to entice investment in facilities such as indoor recreational activities including laser tag, climbing walls, play centres, wet are playground at the Aquatic centre, improvement and addition to outdoor facilities including mountain biking, ropes courses, art walks, history trails, orienteering and playground upgrades to meet the needs of all age groups and mobility levels.
Mental Health Training - Developing a hub for mental health training in Western NSW to educate the next generation of mental health professionals, to ensure wait times are reduced for young people seeking help. This would also have a focus on preventative programs for mental health for the whole community, and a wider discussion of what's needed and how services should be delivered to make them accessible for different groups.
Cultural and community event - Making use of the community spaces we have for more markets, festivals and concerts. Sporting facilities - Finishing development of the $25m Jack Brabham Sporting Precinct to attract high level sporting competitions, across all codes and making it accessible for existing Orange sporting groups to utilise weekly for local events and training.
Hospitality training and employment - We don't want our school leavers and young people moving away from Orange, to find employment or better lifestyle and recreation pursuits: we want them to know they can enjoy their own city. Roads and Footpaths
Council has a responsibility to utilise ratepayers funds responsibly in the general operations to maintain and upgrade roads and footpaths, and the spending should be reviewed regularly and adjusted for seasonal conditions. Keeping on top of state and federal funding programs to construct or renew local roads and infrastructure is essential. As a regional council, this is a big part of the day to day business that needs to run efficiently, but I don't want to get bogged down in roads, rates and rubbish.
Why should you vote for me: I love Orange, I have the best interests of this community at the heart of all the decisions I've made in the past 17 years as a councillor. It's time we had some younger voices at the helm, and while I have just turned 50 I'm still the youngest candidate for the job. The valuable experience I'll bring with me to the role is going to be crucial in a council with more than half its members newly elected. This brings with it an opportunity to shape the next two decades for The Colour City to truly grow into one of the best positioned regional centres in NSW: for families, for jobs, for lifestyle and tourism.
Housing availability: The Orange City Council Housing Strategy has just been released and is on exhibition until the end of February 2022. The new council will have the opportunity to review the feedback and make decisions based on the demand for housing and the areas where council can assist with accompanying infrastructure. I believe a more robust discussion between council, state and federal agencies, and benevolent groups to address the local lack of housing availability will highlight where the challenges lay and we can start to then tackle fixing the gaps.
Sporting precinct: This is an exciting development for Orange, and one the entire sporting community has been long waiting for. Seeing this facility come to fruition will be a major highlight for the next Council, and its benefit will be felt across the whole community and visiting teams and families. I believe the economic, cultural and community benefits gained from this one State Government funded project will be immense, and continue for generations to come.
The redevelopment of Mount Canobolas: This is another exciting project which can bring positive outcomes for many groups in the community: mountain bike clubs, visiting bike riders, school groups, orienteering clubs, nature hikers, indigenous groups and tourists will be able to make use of this wonderful natural environment that we have on our doorstep. I believe now is the time to bring all parties to the table to discuss a positive outcome here for all, and the redevelopment will only make this area more accessible and better understood by all of us. For too long, we haven't appreciated the beautiful natural resource we have in our backyard and any redevelopment will resurrect that understanding.
Water security: This is a constant, cyclical challenge for our city, without a river water source like neighbouring cities. Stormwater harvesting plays a pivotal role in our future water security. Discussions with state and federal governments need to be regular and insistent to ensure we aren't forgotten in water planning policy for NSW. Orange residents are keen subscribers to water saving measures in times of drought, and we need to maintain this mindset as a way of life in The Colour City, with transparency from Council on storage and programs key to this way of thinking.
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