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Minutes: Urgent General Meeting of Members called 14 August 2023

Melbourne Wellness Hub

Held at 1 Cowen Close Pakenham Vic 3810

Meeting began 19.40

Present in person : Pavlina McMaster, Leanna Dries, Sebastian Richards, Victoria Terrazzano, Talia Wilson, Kamya Foster

Present on zoom: Sevvy Groza, Mamia Shukuroglou, Fiona Bardwell, Joan Stanton, Beth Symes, Ruth Fidow

Pavlina welcomed members and thanked them for coming at short notice.

Pavlina outlined the crisis currently faced by the Hub, being that the Council has deemed the Hub a “business” (rather than social enterprise or community organisation) and therefore restrictions are placed upon operating from Pav’s residence as we currently are – particularly the collection of goods due to traffic and use of website to purchase online (under the council’s planning regulations, goods sold by a business online are not permitted to be collected at a residential premises).

Pav has communicated with the Planning Department at Cardinia Shire Council at length, regarding our status as a community, volunteer-run organisation vs business, but they are immovable. They cite our website being too professional, and also their own designation of us as a business on our initial Class 3 Food Permit registration as a business (which they did despite us applying as a community organisation - this designation was later changed to community organisation for service charge purposes, but the business designation remains despite our protests).

Pav also explained that purchasing on the website is not available to just anyone - only members have access, and it is there purely to make administration tasks more streamlined and easier. This has also been dismissed by the council.

Pav has also had a local MP attempt to intervene with the Planning Department, to no effect.

Pav has also spoken to the Mayor, who is very sympathetic, and will speak to the Shire CEO on our behalf. The Mayor is unable to overturn Department decisions and must go through the CEO.

Pav outlined the potential solutions she has investigated thus far:

  • Find new designated collection point and have a 1 to 2 hr window per week for collections

  • Living and Learning: at cost of $75 per week which is still prohibitive

  • RSL in Snodgrass St: Kamya to approach and is awaiting a response

  • Saturday mornings seem the most likely to work for most people AND Saturday is also the day after milk is delivered

  • We are restricted by lack of funds to rent somewhere else permanently; further fundraising is required

  • Membership base needs to be increased to enable network to be expanded for future growth.

Short term:

  • As of August 24th, we can no longer collect from 1 Cowen Close Pakenham

  • Deliveries to 1 Cowen Close are also to be managed due to the traffic complaint that has been made – at risk of $1,000 fine if a second complaint is made.

  • Essentially at this stage, trucks will deliver to Victoria’s at Ferntree Gully (non perishables); larger vans will deliver to Kamya’s and some small vans will still deliver to Pavlina

  • Logistical nightmare in the short term with then getting goods from multiple drop off points to the collection points

Pav opened the meeting to members for questions and feedback on possible solutions. Discussion around the following topics:

  1. Collection times at pre-determined nominated time? It will have to be fixed, and a short window due to refrigerated/frozen items being involved.

  2. Delivery to members at charge? This would be an option, and we would do specific areas on different days. This could be expensive, however, but something to look at if set pickup times are not working.

  3. Car Park pick up: still covered by insurance and food permit ?? this needs to be investigated and determined. UPDATE: Insurance is fine (have sent email to underwriter to get it in writing).

  4. Take to VCAT ? legal aid support ? Will wait and see what the Mayor can achieve by approaching the CEO, and then take action if needed.

  5. Awaiting feedback from Mayor’s approach to CEO

  6. Talk to local media ? Again, this will be pursued depending on the result of the Mayor approaching the CEO.

  7. Approach local churches for support as a pick up point

  8. Letters of complaint/impact statements from members individually to Council - Pav to formulate a document with talking points and distribute to members so they can write individual letters to council

  9. Box refrigerated trailer ? Members with towballs required.

  10. Pav has looked into getting street permit parking zoned - Parking people at the council say this is very unlikely to happen

  11. Lodge Notice to appear at Council meeting and attend en masse - Find out when the next Council meeting will be, after waiting for outcome of Mayor talking to CEO

  12. Approach 'Meet Me At The Gate' to see if they have chilled space to share and can use location as a pick up point

Discussion around option of Saturday morning as starting collection time – feedback was that it’s better than shutting down and definitely worth the trial.

Trial the Saturday morning pick up – Pav and Tim will need some assistance from members if this is to continue.

Pav to send out a survey scouting most popular pick up time. Please access the survey here.

This week’s pick ups are as per usual.

If anyone has any other thoughts or suggestions, communication with Pav is welcomed.

Meeting closed 8.45 pm

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