City of Darebin

City of Darebin
City of Darebin
Victoria, Australia
Map of Melbourne showing City of Darebin
Population: 139,608(2009)[1]
Established: 1994
Area: 53 km² (20.5 sq mi)
Mayor: Cr Diana Asmar
State District:
Federal Division: Batman
LGAs around City of Darebin:
Hume Whittlesea Banyule
Moreland City of Darebin Banyule
Yarra Yarra Boroondara

The City of Darebin is a Local Government Area in Victoria, Australia, located in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. It has an area of 53 square kilometres (20.5 sq mi), and as of 2009, has a population of 139,608. Municipal offices are located at 350 High Street, Preston.

Darebin was rated 386th of 590 Australian Local Government Areas in the BankWest Quality of Life Index 2008.[2]



The City of Darebin was formed in 1994 with the merger of most the former City of Northcote and City of Preston, with the transfer of the portion of the City of Northcote south of Heidelberg Road to the City of Yarra and minor adjustments with the former cities of Coburg, Heidelberg and Diamond Valley.


Council Governance

Darebin Council elections have been dominated by the Australian Labor Party (ALP). At the first City of Darebin election in 1996 and at subsequent elections in 1998, 2002 and 2004 only ALP member candidates were successful. The ALP endorsed candidates for the very first Darebin Council elections, but in subsequent elections the local party organisation supported particular candidates in each contested ward. The decision of the party not to endorse candidates almost certainly arises from the performance of the very first elected council, in which a deal between ALP factions determined the preselection of the party's council candidates.[3]

Dissatisfaction with the performance of the first Darebin Council led to the Kennett government holding an Inquiry under David Elsum, which reported to the Victorian Parliament in April 1997.[4] The Elsum Report found that factional differences led to poor governance on the Council. As a result the Kennett government sacked the Council and appointed a commissioner, but decided to return to an elected council about eighteen months later in 1998.

The council consisted of nine single-councillor wards at each of the four elections totally dominated by the ALP. In 2008, following a representation review by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC), Darebin was divided into three wards comprising three councillors in each elected by proportional representation. For the first time the ALP stranglehold was broken with the election of Trent McCarthy, a Greens candidate, to Rucker ward. The first election in 1996 was by attendance voting. Postal voting was used at each subsequent election.

ALP factions provided much of the interest in Darebin politics, given that the ALP is in a commanding position within the municipality. Two Councillors elected from the Right or Labor Unity faction, Nazih Elasmar and Marlene Kairouz, were subsequently elected to the Victorian parliament. Both Elasmar and Kairouz have at various times served as Mayor of Darebin, Kairouz having held the office of Mayor on two occasions.

At the first Darebin Council election no faction held control, with four Councillors from the Preston area being members of the Labor Unity (Right) faction, four Councillors from the Northcote area being members of the Socialist Left, and one Councillor from the Preston area being a member of the Pledge faction, a breakaway group from the Socialist Left frequently voting with the Right.[5] After elections in 1998, 2002 and 2004 the Labor Unity group held almost all Council positions, but complications existed within Labor Unity as two sub-factions competed for dominance and for the election of Mayor. In 2008, with the introduction of the proportional representation voting system, no faction again held dominance.

Ethnically the Council reflected non-English speaking background (NESB) residents in a way that previous Preston and Northcote Councils did not, for the latter were for much of the time dominated by Anglo and Celtic Councillors who were often prejudiced against residents from NESB backgrounds.[6] All Darebin Councils have been ethnically diverse.

The first Council was one-third Greek, with Councillors Bilias, Tsitas and Politis of Greek-ethnic background. The first Council also saw the election of Crs Keirl (of German-Chinese background), Elasmar (Lebanese), Laurence (Indian) with Anglo-Celtic Councillors Anderson, Donohue and Kelly.

Greek membership of the Council declined at the elections of 1998, with only Cr Tsitas returned, and his defeat in 2002 meant that there we no Greeks on the Council for the 2002-2004 term. Tsitas was again elected in 2004,[7] and he was joined in 2008 by a second Greek, Nick Katsis. Anglo-Celtic representation remained at three in 1998, but was reduced to two in 2004 and has remained at that level since. Crs Kelly, Perry and Stephenson were returned in 1998, and were re-elected in 2002. In 2004 Crs Kelly and Stephenson were returned, but neither contested the elections of 2008. Crs Morgan and McCarthy were elected in 2008.

Lebanese representation on the Council has also been significant, with two of their number later being elected to the Victorian parliament. Lebanese Councillors elected were Crs Elasmar in 1996, Cr Kairouz in 1998, 2002 and 2004 and Cr Asmar in 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2008. All three have served as Mayor.

Italians have served in all Darebin Councils other than the first. Italians elected have been Cr Fontana in 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2008, Cr Salata in 1998, 2002 and 2004, and Cr Greco in 2008. Other ethnic groups represented have been Indian (Cr Laurence in 1996 and 2008), Chinese (Cr Chiang in 2002, 2004 and 2008) and Macedonian (Cr Kundevski in 2004).

Council Administration

The City of Darebin has been served by five Chief Executive Officers:

Kelvin Spiller (1994 to 1998) was the Chief Executive Officer of the former City of Preston (Victoria), and stayed on at amalgamation to become the first Chief Executive Officer of the City of Darebin. He left the City of Darebin to take up the role of Chief Executive Officer at the Shire of Maroochy in Queensland. His involvement in the events leading up to the Council dismissal made his position untenable upon the return of democratically elected Councillors, and he departed the City of Darebin on 28 August 1998, 15 days before the 1998 Council election.

David Graham (1998–1999) was seconded to the City of Darebin from the City of Port Phillip to lead the organisation and during the tumultuous period following the Council's 1997 dismissal. His major priority was to undertake the recruitment of a permanent Chief Executive Officer. Mr Graham made it clear to staff he was at Darebin for a temporary assignment and would not be a candidate for the permanent role. Upon the recruitment of Philip Shanahan, Mr Graham returned to the City of Port Phillip.

Philip Shanahan (1999–2005) was Darebin's longest serving Chief Executive Officer, and Victoria's most experienced local government Chief Executive. Mr Shanahan came to Darebin after serving as the Chief Executive Officer at the City of Maribyrnong since amalgamation in 1994. Mr Shanahan retired from full time work in 2005.

Michael Ulbrick (2005–2010) came to Darebin from the Victorian Workcover Authority, but was already known to Darebin staff, having served a period on Philip Shanahan's Executive Management Team from 1999 to 2003. In 2002, Mr Ulbrick served a six month period as temporary Chief Executive Officer at the Surf Coast Shire following the departure of their Chief Executive Officer.

Rasiah Dev (2010–present) arrived from the City of Moonee Valley in May 2010.

Arts and entertainment

Darebin City has an active artists community which is contemporary, experimental and culturally diverse. Writers, musicians and visual artists flock to the locality for performance, collaboration and acceptance. Notable contributors to the Darebin arts community are locals, Rose Turtle Ertler, Sundown and/or Last Stand, The Contrast, The Melbourne Ukulele Kollective, DIY artshows and housegigs collective, Loveanarchistpress Publishing, Performing Older Women's Circus (POW Circus) and TRAX Arts.

Darebin celebrates the artistry and diversity of the community with regular festivals and events such as the Darebin Music Feast and the High Vibes festival. The city also funds public artwork, such as the Fairfield Industrial Dog Object.[8]

The Preston Markets are a central feature of Darebin and attract people from all around the area.

City of Darebin automated waste collection truck (2009).

See also


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (30 March 2010). "Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2008–09` - Victoria". Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "BankWest Quality of Life Index 2008" (pdf). BankWest Quality of Life Index 2008. BankWest. 2008-08-20. pp. 8. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  3. ^ Lyle Allan (2010), "Dummy candidates and the end of Labor endorsements. The Darebin Council election of 1998," in Recorder (Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Melbourne Branch), No. 268, Page 4.
  4. ^ David L. Elsum (1997), Inquiry into the Darebin City Council (Elsum Report), Victorian Government Printer, Melbourne
  5. ^ Elsum Report, p.53
  6. ^ Lyle Allan (1984), 'Ethnic Transition in Inner-Melbourne Politics,' in James Jupp (ed.) Ethnic Politics in Australia, George Allen and Unwin, North Sydney, p.141
  7. ^ Lyle Allan (2004), 'Changing the political landscape. A history of Darebin Greeks and their political involvement,' Neos Kosmos English Edition Darebin Special, 20 December, p.8
  8. ^ "Inner-city haven - Property - Domain". The Age. June 24, 2006. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 

External links

Coordinates: 37°44′S 145°01′E / 37.733°S 145.017°E / -37.733; 145.017

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