Bringing social collaboration to the council

New candidate Thuch Ajak. (Stewart Chambers: 417033_03)

By Corey Everitt

‘Social collaboration’ that restores ‘trust’ in the council is the promise that new-candidate Thuch Ajak is taking to this year’s elections, backed by his years of work bringing people together.

Officer local Thuch would be familiar to those who have ventured down to Cardinia’s United African Farm, as he is the leading member who co-founded the farm.

Moving to Australia almost a decade ago, he studied agriculture in his country of birth South Sudan.

He has numerous roles beyond the farm from a senior partnership adviser for Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, board member at Living and Learning centre and presenting for 97.7 FM Casey Radio on Tuesdays.

He also was a member of the Cardinia Recovery Committee and was a council liaison officer for the South Sudanese community.

“Cardinia is one of the fastest growing shires, there is a lot happening each and everyday, lots of movement and lots of development,” Thuch said.

“I’m standing to be the voice of those who do not have a voice within Cardinia.”

He wants to empower multicultural communities, where he sees first-hand how many avenues are not keeping up.

He wants to build up facilities and programs like the United African Farm that promote Cardinia into a cultural hub.

“The farm is more about uniting voices, more about sharing our stories and connecting to the people,” he said.

“We may not have opportunities to learn from each other, but having a farm as a central place can give that social cohesiveness, that sense of belonging and bridge those social gaps.

“But we do not have the facilities, we do not have a clear road map of whether our development is following the growth.

“There has to be that social cohesiveness, that collaboration within, that we learn from each other.”

Thuch proposes developing a multicultural hub, a facility that greatly expands from the likes of Living and Learning. As well as new grounds for other community gatherings such as expanding sporting facilities.

While he also believes many existing assets are not utilised, it’s a mix of what needs to be built and what can be facilitated now.

“We need to find ways to make Cardinia more liveable by leveraging what we have already and advocating for what we don’t have,” Thuch said.

Coupled with the social development, is the necessity of tackling bread and butter issues like early learning to local jobs.

He himself is a father of four, who previously had to work out of the shire and wait exhaustively for kinder placement.

“Say if you are a mother of three, it’s quite difficult, finding childcare, finding the schools and then having to work 40 minutes away,” Thuch said.

“If I am to be asked what is the one thing that needs to change, it’s to invest a lot into kindergartens so that every parent here should not have to wait.

“I would advocate for local jobs creation, advocate for more spaces for kinder, more areas and more spaces.”

Running in the Officer Ward, one of the most multicultural areas of the shire, he sees many are utilising other council areas like Dandenong over Cardinia.

He wants to see Officer as more ‘liveable’ and rivalling the development of others in the South East.

“We want Cardinia to reflect the community it is and to be liveable,” Thuch said.

“We need to make sure all the services, all that are done in Dandenong, are done here.”