‘She wears pink, I wear black’: Bird eyes off Div 5
COLLEEN Grace Bird is making South Burnett history as the first person Wakka Wakka person to run for a position in the local council elections and she is grasping the opportunity with both hands.
The 54-year-old Murgon resident said her pet saying is “there’s too many Indians and not enough chiefs” and believes she has the right experience, personality and background to give longtime Division 5 councillor, Kathy Duff, a run for her money.
The Murgon division has been held by Ms Duff since amalgamation in 2008, but Ms Bird said the region is in need of a shake up in leadership, stating “it’s time for change”.
The proud Wulgurukaba and Wakka Wakka woman said she is passionate about reducing suicide and domestic violence in the region and would like to see more communication between schools, parents, teachers and students when it comes to Murgon’s children’s education.
“I was born in Cherbourg and I spent my first 12 years there before my family moved down south to a dairy farm near Sydney,” Ms Bird said.
“I’ve worked in the aged care sector for many years and am a passionate domestic violence and suicide prevention worker and member of the Community Health Action Group.
“I became inspired to get more involved with my community and run for a position in council after my sister became a chairman for an aboriginal land council and together we discovered the misappropriation of funds.
“The whole process took 10 years of my life but it really ignited my passion is justice, transparency and upholding a strong code of conduct.”
Ms Bird returned to the South Burnett in 2016 and said she hasn’t looked back since.
“I returned to the region four years ago to care for my mother, Lynette Forbes-Beitsch and I was shocked to what I had come home too.
“We had 14 suicides in Cherbourg alone in 2019, not to mention how many were reported in the rest of the South Burnett region.
“I want to know why these things are happening and I think it’s high time we start doing more to prevent our own people from taking their lives.
Ms Bird wanted to make it clear that while she was a Cherbourg born and raised woman, she now calls Murgon home and is passionate about making the entire community a better place to live, work and visit.
“While I do have a very strong connection to Cherbourg and my Wakka Wakka people, I am devoted to making Murgon a better region for everyone, no matter your cultural background or nationality,” she said.
“I can see there’s a lot that needs to be done when it comes to youth crime in Murgon.
“I would like to create a liaison program where we have liaison officers out on the streets patrolling the shops, schools and streets, better communicating with families and the courts and making sure our kids are where they’re supposed to be: in school.
“I say let the police do their policing and then liaison officers can be responsible for keeping an eye on the kids out making bad decisions and help them turn their life around while they are still young enough to make a change.”
Ms Bird said she’s going to be out and about meeting as many locals and businesses over the next couple of weeks and is looking forward to hearing Murgon’s concerns, questions and queries.
“I feel like there are a lot of realistic solutions that can make Murgon a much more liveable town.
“I’d like to see a bus service run from Goomeri through to Murgon and Cherbourg and on to Kingaroy for weekly shopping and doctors trips, and I’d like to see the trucks diverted off of the main roads of Murgon, it’s too dangerous for elderly people and children trying to cross the street.
Ms Bird said she wasn’t afraid of the struggles and setbacks that present themselves when you’re in any level of government.
“I’m not the sort of person that lets red tape get in my way.
“I’m a strong-headed woman, if I say I’m going to get something done I’ll get it done by hook or by crook. There isn’t much that can stop me when I put my mind to it.”
When it came to the looming election date, Ms Bird admitted she wasn’t afraid of Ms Duff’s wealth of experience and only had one thing to say.
“She wears pink, I wear black and I’m here for the Murgon community.”