Michael Schilling promises to be a fresh voice for the young families and youth of Pakenham.
The 27-year-old paediatric nurse will be running for a Central Ward seat in Cardinia Shire Council at the upcoming council election.
Having lived in Pakenham for nine years, Mr Schilling said he was motivated to stand for council to play a role in ensuring that infrastructure kept up with the rapid growth across the region.
He was first introduced to Cardinia Shire while studying his undergraduate degree, when he spent four years working locally as a disability support worker.
Mr Schilling said he was a proud member of the Australian Greens as well as the Cardinia Ratepayers Association, campaigning to stand up for a “fair” and “sustainable” Cardinia Shire.
“I see a lot of opportunity in Pakenham. I want to be a community advocate, to help people out with their inquiries and give a voice to those who don’t necessarily have one,” he said.
“About 12 months ago I held a community session and surveyed people about what issues were most important to them. People have voiced concerns about a variety of issues, ranging from the upkeep of local parks to issues of domestic violence and poker machines.”
Mr Schilling’s key areas of focus include initiating local literacy programs administered through the Pakenham and Emerald libraries to assist young people with learning difficulties, promoting social inclusion, improving access to public transport – especially for the elderly – and supporting small business and the local economy.
With a personal interest in the health sector given his profession as a nurse, Mr Schilling said he had a strong vision for preventative health care programs, particularly for those living with a disability.
This would involve respite programs for those with a disability as well as programs empowering older people to take advantage of shopping and recreational activities.
He said there were currently no specific, planned activity groups to support families caring for children with a profound disability in the shire.
More broadly, he would stand for improved access to services for people in circumstances of crisis; be it disability, family violence, mental health, gambling addiction, long-term unemployment or homelessness.
“I really do feel passionate about the local community. I am a fresh young voice in touch with the community and understand issues of all age groups,” Mr Schilling said.
“I am reliable and dedicated to improving people’s lives in Cardinia Shire.”
The 27-year-old previously stood for the then-seat of Bunyip (now Port Ward) at the 2012 council elections but was unsuccessful.
Outside of his ambitions for the shire, Mr Schilling enjoys spending time with family, hiking and bushwalking, reading, and enjoying good food at local restaurants with friends.
Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.