Coming from a Non-English-speaking country was a reason for him to succeed in overcoming all the barriers that most migrants face. Anthony Helou the Lebanese migrant who had arrived to Australia 50 years ago in the 1970s, has completed nearly 25 years of involvement in the Local Community Health Centre and many other groups and associations in Victoria. This has involved frequent analysis of situations through research, reading reports, discussion, consultations and the analysis of statistical data across a diverse range of disciplines such as Immigration, Human Services, Centrelink, Local Government, State and Federal, Newspapers, Television and many other agencies.
The Moreland city resident of over 50 years served more than 16 years as a councillor and 3 terms as a Mayor. In this interview the man seemed to have real plans ready to be in action for youth, seniors facing unemployment and dealing with issues associated with the Covid-19 lockdown. If you believe he deserves to represent your community and be your voice his voting number is one.
1) The youth represent a growing demographic in many cities and suburbs including Moreland do you have any project in mind, to help them overcome their current problems associated with covid 19, in particular mental health, community participation, and entering the workforce?
To overcome the current problems associated with Covid 19, we might need to start having a youth Expo by calling community participation to face such problems. Also, we need to work more against depression within the community in particular mental health and alcohol addiction issues. This requires initiatives including public speakers who have direct experience in dealing with such issues where assistance can be provided. But let me say This is not going to be only an information session about the services available in the city as we are going to highlight the youth education and job opportunities as well, where education providers and recruitment agencies can play a role. Also, this Expo will give the opportunity for council and the broader community to hear from youth about their problems and then come out with a solution.
.2) On the other end of the spectrum, seniors who feel that they are still able to contribute to the community and the workforce, what do you have in mind to assist them to participate? What kind of project would you put forward in relation to job creation? What kind of assistance can you offer for old aged people who don’t have any employment especially with the government incentives programs for people who employ youth? Specifically, how will you tackle the disincentive in hiring people above the age of 30?
First, we need to focus on small retails and the centres. Also, we need to set up a special committee including traders, business owners, landlords, manufacturers, and service providers with the help of state government and federal government to help the older people return back to their workforce. By offering the employers incentives like wages, subsidies and short training. The council role is to provide residents a way forward to give them hope and freedom and above anything else, give them a pathway to all the things that will help them reduce issues associated with mental health problems.
3) Mental health problems, addiction, and family violence are sadly growing community problems, how will you face that, do you have any initiatives or projects on your plan?
Actually, I believe this is not the role of an individual citizen or even a councillor, we need to work closely with other health providers and agencies to provide such services. The council always has emergency claim, policies and staff who are very qualified to deal with such problems.
4) You have stated on different occasions that you would encourage the electors to give their votes for the experienced public servants in the local community, acknowledging your extensive service in the community for about 20 years, my question here is what would you advise younger members seeking to enter the contest, especially new candidates who would like to enter the field of community and public service?
That’s very good question, let me say that such important decisions affecting the future of the municipality are usually met at the council. During council meetings all citizens are encouraged to attend if they are planning to play a role in the local government. these meetings provide citizens with the opportunity to ask questions about councillors and to raise issues for the council to consider in its decision-making process. I encourage any new candidate to attend many of these council meetings before taking such decision. Council is not a training institution or a place to learn. When a candidate normally asks me questions about the intention to nominate, I ask him or her “Don’t tell me what you are going to do, just tell me what you have been doing” so my question to the people used to be “do you really want to elect candidates that don’t know where they truly stand?
5) Finally, what makes you stand out in terms of the competition to win these elections?
I always believe community service is not a position, it’s all about helping the people and the community to live better. To do that you must have full knowledge of the community. For me I had been a resident of the city of Brunswick for about 50 years. Also, I have 50 years of experience behind me working for private and public sectors. On top of that I have about 20 years of working with the government 16 years as a councillor and 3 terms as a mayor. This gave me a lot of knowledge and experience that had been translated into a proven track record of being accessible and responsive to the resident’s needs.