Sam Afra the candidate of the local election in the city of greater Dandenong speaks to Arab Australia

Creating Jobs, grabbing funds, recovery system, and youth engagement programs on his top priority list.

Melbourne-Moataz A. Moneam
“If I haven’t something to offer, I wouldn’t nominate myself to this election” Sam who lived in greater Dandenong for over 30 years, and was first settled in Keysborough believe that this is the time for a change in his area which suffers a lack of the major adequate services as he said. The Lebanese migrant was first arrived to Australia in 1984 to escape the uncertainty and danger of the war in Lebanon which had re-escalated suddenly in that year, he is currently self-employed as a Consultant/Director. Also, he is the Deputy Chair and one of the Directors of ERHMA where he has joined its board since 2003 and a Trust Member of the SMCT, Melbourne. “The current councillors had been there for long time, they lost their vision, and this is the time for a change “Sam added before I start this quick conversation with him. During the interview the man was confident and his answers came well organized and here is the full interview:
1) Why had you chosen at this time to nominate yourself as a councillor in the Victorian local council why now?
I had chosen to be a candidate in the local election in the city of greater Dandenong, because I believe that the current councillors had been there for long time, they lost their vision and they are not doing the right things with the community. long time ago greater Dandenong was much better from all aspects, but at the, moment as am taking social responsibility I became worried about the community because they are not receiving the adequate services they deserve.
2)Why greater Dandenong, why Keysborough specifically?
I lived in greater Dandenong for over 30 years, and i had chooses Keysborough because it was my first settlement place in Australia, I spent there my best days ever, and you can consider it has a very special spot in my heart.
3) in your opinion what is the major challenges that Keysborough suburb is facing?
Well let’s agree firstly that Keysborough in general is a residential suburb, and mostly all the facilities are aging, it needs a lot of attention and updating. also, the suburb is missing a lot of services, and we need to see more opportunities for young generations, we need to see updating for the existing facilities and the creation of centres. Finally, i can see that central Dandenong is getting more attention and we need a strong voice for Keysborough.
4) and how you are going to solve this issue?
With my experience as a former councillor, and with my experience working for the state
government for over 20 years I know exactly how to deal with the other levels of government
  • authorities to attract more funds, at the same time with the small business operators, also I know how to look at the budget overall performance and improve the working strategy to attract more funding for the municipality in general and specifically for Keysborough.
    5) If I am going to ask you to pick the biggest challenge that you see Keysborough is facing, what would it be?
    I believe that the biggest problem is the work recovery system, as Keysborough is a residential suburb, most of the families now are feeling bad about the uncertainty of the future especially with the Covid 19 lockdown and the high percentage of people losing their jobs. So, we need to be ready after Covid crisis ends to see the work recovery and to look at our plans in case the pandemic will stay longer with us, on how Keysborough suburb will deal in the future with these circumstances.
    6) in few points would you illustrate your election program?
    my program concentrates on some points that relates to the community of Keysborough day to day problems. it starts by finding a way to attract more funds, baring in mind that I don’t want to raise  the rates on the people as we need to keep a balance about the rates in greater Dandenong as its already one of the highest in the state. I believe we have to find an alternative for the suburb funding rather than raising the rates on the community. Second thing I would focus on is creating more jobs and establishing more facilities specially for younger generations. I remember years ago greater Dandenong was the manufacturing hub for the state, and I can see that this is the time to
    get it back.
    7) can you determine who is your main audience in terms of age, background?
    I would say that all the community of Keysborough are my audience I want to take care of all of them without any discrimination specially the young generation I want them to look at me as a supporter, and now let me say am willing to understand more about younger generation needs as I already have two kids who are teen agers so I understand most of the families concerns for this group age specifically. on the other hand, I believe that the biggest challenge is to find them a job opportunity after march 2021.
    8) how much percent do you believe you could win this election?
    Unfortunately, I couldn’t do an effective campaign, due to the Covid 19, usually in local community elections you go and knock on the doors and speak to people about their concerns, but this time we couldn’t because of the lockdown. Regarding the percentage I cannot give a specific percentage but I would say it all depends on how the people will give their preference to me if they didn’t give me  the primary vote.
    9) who are your competitors, and how about their chances to win?
    They are ten other candidates we can consider them all as competitors but let me say that the current councillor Tim Dark might have more chances to win the elections as he is already inside the system and is controlling many things. I believe that he is a racist because he put four running mates to break the votes of the he added four people from different backgrounds in order to break the votes, and that’s something I don’t like because yes we are migrants, but we are Australians at the same time and if someone look at us as a lower grade or class citizen… “do you want this kind of people to represent you?” that’s my question to the community.
    10) what are you going to offer for the youth in Keysborough area?
    The problem with the youth is that you need to keep them engaged, if you didn’t give them something to do, they are going to do the wrong thing. Whether going to get wondering in the streets or they might get involved in other bad things like drugs, or gambling or whatever which reflect badly on the whole we need to create those kinds of programs and activities to make sure we engage the youth. We need to give them long term vision to plan for their future. And that’s why I said it and will repeat it again “The council must be ready for the future with or
    without Covid 19”.