Elected Member Profile - Shaneane Weldon

Published on:
Friday, 24 March, 2023
WALGA updates

Shaneane Weldon
Deputy President – Shire of Laverton
What is your day job and how does it relate to your role as a Councillor?
My day job is basically working for my own company, which allows me the flexibility to sit on a few boards and of course the Shire of Laverton.  I often relate my experience as a director to my role as a Councillor on the Laverton Shire.  As a Shire Councillor, the experience I have gained has given me the experience to share with these other boards.  It’s about making a shared decisions that positively impacts the wider community.  Reflecting on my role as both a self-employed person, and as a Councillor, it is important to not only have the necessary skills for good governance, which also includes strategic planning and financial management, but to also have commitment and dedication to your role.  This includes reading agendas and reports, having the information, so that we can make good sound decisions for good outcomes.

What spurred you on to run for Council?
I felt like getting involved with the Shire and being part of the decision making for whatever’s going on in town.  Also being an Indigenous person, I felt like the Council needed to hear directly from an Indigenous person and what our perspective is rather than the Council making decisions for the people without their input.

How has Local Government changed over the years?
One of the first changes at a local level I saw was the abolishing of the ward system in our Council.  There used to be a Country ward and Town ward.  Now there is just the Town ward.  Other changes is that there is more engagement and interaction with other Local Governments in the region as opposed to say 20 years ago.   I also believe that there are more female Councillors on Councils which is a huge change in terms of gender equality, and more Aboriginal people are getting on Council.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your time on Council?
I guess explaining things from a cultural perspective and giving Council background information, so a better understanding is shared before making decisions. Understanding reports and understanding and keeping up with changes in policies and departments has also been a challenge. I have often challenged other community people to put their hand up and stand for Council, with lots of support and encouragement.

What does a good weekend look like in Laverton for you?
When my children were smaller, I used to love taking them to the swimming pool.  Nowadays, I take my grandchildren to the pool for a cool down.  A good start to the weekend in Laverton begins with a nice cup of coffee at the Great Beyond where you usually bump into the locals for a catch up, and usually a meal at the local pub is another way to catch up with visitors to town or the locals who you don’t see during the week.  I have a few relatives in town, so now and then we would go out bush and spend time on country.
What are some of the benefits of living in the region?
The benefits are there’s no traffic or traffic lights, except when you’re out on the main road to Kalgoorlie and passing huge trucks travelling back and forth to the mines.  You get to know everyone and everything, and you get to know and understand the issues on a better level
And challenges of life in the region?
The biggest challenge living in the north-east Goldfields is the distance from your main provincial town with the services.  People living out here depend on some of these services which visit on a monthly basis.  If residents don’t have their own vehicle for transport, then they must rely on a weekly bus service.  People have to plan trips whether it be medical or personal, to coincide with other business, so that the trip to these main towns or the city is organised to get as much done as possible to make the trip worthwhile. 
The other major challenge is food shopping.  With the cost of living on the rise all over Australia, take a step back and double or triple that cost in remote areas such as here.  The price of food is astronomical.  And again, if you haven’t got the transport to travel to the main town for a weekly shopping trip, you have no choice but to buy local.  You have to think about how you’re going to transport this food back, the space, and you need to keep it cool or frozen.  A simple shopping trip can become a full-on project. 
You have to take into account, the cost of fuel, opening hours of fuel outlets, be prepared for vehicle breakdowns, and communication.  There are black spots for communication throughout the whole region.  You cannot assume you will have mobile coverage 100 per cent of the time. 

Travelling in remote areas, is one of the biggest challenges facing anyone.  If people are planning to travel on unsealed roads they need to travel according to the conditions of the road, be prepared for any form of breakdown, and most importantly let people know where you are travelling. If you’re going to travel at night, be aware that there are properties with unfenced boundaries near the roads, which involves watching out for wandering stock on roads, not to mention the roos.

What is your proudest achievement to date as a Councillor?
There’s been many, but to mention a few, I must say the proudest would be having the Aboriginal flag flown outside the Shire office, and having our Aboriginal language under the English wording, on the welcome and exit signs at each of the town entrances.  The town upgrade is definitely one of the highlights, which includes the building of a new pool compound on the same site, and the extension of the Great Beyond Centre.  There is a lot of changes that has happened to this wonderful little town over the years, and I am proud to say that for the past 16 years, I have been a part of that.

What advice do you have for someone thinking of running for Council?
Anyone who is passionate about their town and the issues, please join Local Government and be a part of the change in your community.  It’s not okay to sit back, talk, and criticize what Council is doing. Put your hand up and have a go and be a part of the decision making.  Don’t be intimidated by the people around the table, gain your confidence and speak the truth for what you believe to be the best for the community.  You can’t go in with the view of what you can personally get out of it.  No, you must always have the best interest of the community in your heart and soul.  Another good advice is to speak to the current Councillors to get an understanding of the role and get to know the background of the Shire as to what it entails, the landscape of the region, the local issues impacting services for the residents and also have a vision for the future.  It is a great experience, and there’s so much to learn and be a part of change.

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