Brunswick Residents Network News, May 2022

Welcome to our monthly newsletter. Read on for updates on planning, parks, politics, plus history, olive oil, and more. For cleaner formatting, read on Mailchimp.

New planning challenges follow Bunnings victory. Industrial update; elections; opening the golf course and more on greenery; community gardening; and where to press your olives.

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Brunswick Residents Network Newsletter,
May 2022




Council staff strike for better conditions

Striking Moreland workersMany Moreland Council staff walked off the job on 4 May, striking for improved pay and conditions.

Over recent months, Moreland City Council has been facing industrial action from members of the Australian Services Union (ASU) and two other unions – Council staff who clean Moreland’s streets, work in libraries, in-home aged care, customer service and many other essential services.

Last November, ASU organisers, the Municipal and Utilities Workers Union (MUWU) and other union representatives raised issues with Council’s MyPay system, including concerns around superannuation not being paid, allowances or penalties not being accurately paid, staff being required to perform unpaid overtime to complete timesheets, and problems regarding underpayments (AKA wage theft).

Over the last 12 months, the cost of living has risen by over five per cent. Moreland Council’s management initially offered a 2% wage offer for the 2021-22 financial year. However unions argued this is still well below the rise in the cost of living – a 2% wage offer would be a significant real wage cut for Moreland workers. Our wonderful librarians are the only workers at Moreland Council who do not have a set span of hours, meaning they do not receive overtime for things like working on a Saturday morning.

The ASU again wrote to Moreland CEO Cathy Henderson last February, raising concern around pay and workplace concerns, and foreshadowing industrial action.

From 20 April, workers began protected industrial action, including: restrictions on street cleaning and sweeping; emptying street rubbish bins; collection of garbage from council reserves. They refused to respond to non-urgent requests by councillors or take phone calls outside of working hours.

Weeks of industrial action, including overtime bans, delays in rubbish collection and other measures, culminated in a strike on 4 May. MUWU workers established a picket line at the council depot in Hadfield, and ASU members from across Moreland City Council walked off the job and joined a mass rally outside Brunswick Town Hall.

Facing escalating work bans and the possibility of another strike, union and management representatives met last week to discuss a new deal. At a meeting of ASU members from across Moreland Council on Thursday 12 May, union members voted overwhelmingly to accept a significantly improved EBA offer. The offer was also unanimously accepted by members of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) employed by Council on 11 May.

The new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EPA) is being formally put to ASU union members from 24 May.

Most industrial action planned for this week has been cancelled, but one of the three unions involved has not yet reached agreement with Council, there could be impacts on rubbish collection in parts of Fawkner and Coburg North on Friday 27 May. See latest advice from Council.



Khalil wins Wills

Peter Khalil MP, representing the Australian Labor Party (ALP), was re-elected for the Federal seat of Wills on 21 May.

As we go to press, Khalil had a small swing of +1.18% compared to his election in 2019, defeating Sarah Jefford of the Greens on a two party preferred result of 42,158 (59.65%) to 28,519 (40.35%). Check the final results at the AEC website:

This election has highlighted the demographic division in the municipality of Moreland, with a strong Greens vote in the South Ward – but the further north you go, the bigger the Labor vote.

As Brunswick Voice reports: “This election saw a solidification of rapidly gentrifying Brunswick as a Greens stronghold . . .  Of the 11 booths in Brunswick, Brunswick East and Brunswick West, Labor won the primary vote in just one, at St Joseph’s School in Brunswick West. And even then, it was by the narrow margin of 37 votes (which improved to 158 after the distribution of preferences). Overall, the Greens won 42% of the primary vote in the 11 Brunswick booths to Labor’s 35.9%.”

As we now move towards the State elections in November, sitting member of the Legislative Assembly Dr. Tim Read MLA, representing the Greens, must be pleased with the strong turnout below Bell Street for his party!

Closer to the State election, BRN will hold a candidates forum giving you the opportunity to consider which contender deserves your vote.



Feature article:
What’s in a name: “Moreland”

Moreland re-names

Moreland City Council is currently in the process of changing its name – and needs your feedback on three possible names.

In 2021, Elders from the Traditional Owner community (and other community members) informed Council that ‘Moreland’ was named after a Jamaican slave estate (something that was known when the Kennett government amalgamated local government areas).

In response to these community concerns, Council collaborated with the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation to design a renaming process. On 14 May, Council formally accepted and endorsed three name options offered by Wurundjeri elders (as pictured in The Age):

  • Wa-dam-buk, meaning: Renew
  • Merri-bek, meaning: Rocky country
  • Jerrang, meaning: Leaf of tree

Moreland Council is seeking community feedback on the proposed names, through an online survey and a number of community meetings. The preferred name will be presented at a Special Council meeting in July 2022, and submitted to the Minister for Local Government for consideration and approval. At that time, Moreland City Council will transition to its new name over two years (though other organisations and businesses that have the name Moreland don’t have to change their name).

If you have questions about the renaming process, you can find out more at a community meeting on Wednesday 1 June at the Coburg Library.

WHAT: Renaming Moreland Information Night
WHEN: Wednesday 1 June, 6.30 – 7:45pm
WHERE: Coburg Library Meeting Room, Victoria Street & Louisa Street, Coburg
REGISTRATION: On Conversations Moreland website

History, treaty and First Nations’ rights

Throughout May and June, there are a series of events in Brunswick where you can find out more about the indigenous history of our area, current debates around treaty, and what you can do.

Warrigal Creek 
In July 1843, up to 150 Gunaikurnai people were killed near the banks of what is now known as Warrigal Creek. This mass murder was committed by early colonists Angus McMillan and the Highland Brigade. This event is now captured in a compelling film: “Warrigal Creek Massacre: A Truth-telling Documentary.” There will be food and drink refreshments at the screening – it’s free to attend this event, but bookings are essential.

WHAT: Screening of “Warrigal Creek Massacre: A Truth-telling Documentary”
WHEN: Friday 27 May 2022, 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm
WHERE: Siteworks Workroom 2, 33 Saxon Street, Brunswick, VIC 3056

William Barak and First Australians 
On 15 June, at Brunswick Town Hall, you can watch a screening of the ‘First Australians’ episode on the impacts and consequences of dispossession. The  episode begins in 1860 in Victoria and, through the lives of Wurundjeri elders Simon Wonga and William Barak, explores broader issues facing Aboriginal people in these times.

WHAT: ‘First Australians’ screening
WHEN: Wednesday 15 June, 6.30 – 8.30pm
WHERE: Brunswick Town Hall, 233 Sydney Road, Brunswick
REGISTRATION: On Conversations Moreland website

Truth and Treaty Yarns
As Victoria continues the process of developing a treaty with indigenous peoples in the state, you can join a public forum on Thursday 30 June with the Commissioner of Yoorrook Justice Commission and members of the First Peoples Assembly of Victoria (the elected voice for Aboriginal people and communities in future Treaty discussions). Speakers include Tracey Evans (Gunditjmara), Ngarra Murray (Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Dhudhuroa and Wiradjuri) and Maggie Walter (Palawa).

WHAT: Truth and Treaty Yarns
WHEN: Thursday 30 June, 6.30 – 8.00pm
WHERE: Brunswick Town Hall, 233 Sydney Road, Brunswick
REGISTRATION: On Conversations Moreland website

Local history
The area we know today as Moreland was, for tens of thousands of years, governed by the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people. The Merri Creek, also known as the “Merri Merri” Creek, means “very rocky” in Woi-wurrung, the traditional language of this country. You can also find out more about the history of Wurundjeri at:



Planning news

Battle of the commentators over Bunnings

In last month’s BRN newsletter, we reported on the successful community campaign against a proposed Bunnings warehouse and timber yard on Glenlyon Road, Brunswick. In April, a planning application from Brunswick Investment Project Pty Ltd was rejected, after a lengthy and costly hearing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Since then, there’s been significant commentary across the Nine and NewsCorp newspapers and on commercial TV, with the business pages analysing the David and Goliath defeat of Wesfarmers’ proposal.

The most ridiculous commentary, however, came from columnist Osman Faruqi in The Age. Faruqi, a former Greens member, onetime candidate and party advisor in NSW, derided Brunswick residents as NIMBYs and suggested “it’s hard not to see their victory as a misguided attack on a class of Australians they don’t understand, and don’t want living in their suburb.”

It’s surprising to see a supposedly progressive commentator line up so stupidly alongside a corporate behemoth like Bunnings. However when you read this clickbait, it’s pretty clear that Faruqi knew little about the issues (for example, misrepresenting the size and scale of the project, or how traffic would exit the site).

In response, it’s heartening to see local Greens councillor James Conlan take on Faruqi’s “reactionary counter-narrative”, which misrepresents the role of the hundreds of residents who campaigned for more appropriate development at the site.

“Every time a community fights back against any kind of building, urban planners and commentators pile on the NIMBY accusations,” Conlan writes. “This is a reactionary, counter-narrative created by the property and real estate lobby to delegitimise any attempt to rein in corporate greed and ensure that development is done in the public interest. The argument that ‘all development is good’ is just trickle-down economics in physical form, which seeks to unleash the ‘benevolent’ hand of the private property market by sidelining public-interest governing.

“Parroting this narrative without question only serves to consolidate the property lobby’s hold over how our city is developed. As a former town planner, I’ve had to unlearn this rhetoric that dominates the field. Really though, it doesn’t take a degree to see whose interest all this private-led development actually serves.”

For more background on the significance of the Bunnings decision, listen to this interview on Community Radio 3CR with planner Stephen Rowley, who represented residents at the VCAT hearing (starting from 5’30”).

Stockland joins Mirvac to tower over park

As we reported last month, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) approved a planning permit in March for a massive, multi-storey project near to Clifton and Gilpin Parks. The project, from property developers Mirvac is on a site at 395-411 Albert Street, located within the same Urban Renewal Precinct that includes another site owned by developers Stockland at 429 Albert Street, Brunswick.

Now VCAT has approved this second Stockland project, opening the way for two towers – eight and nine storeys – next to Clifton Park.

On 5 May, VCAT ruled in favour of planning permit application MPS/2020/674, granting Stockland Development Pty Ltd a permit for the land at 429 Albert Street Brunswick. The major property developer now has approval for one eight- and one nine-storey apartment building (with roof top terraces), as well as four 3-storey dwellings, over two basement levels. To the immediate east the site abuts Clifton Park, and across Albert Street lies Gilpin Park.

In response to community protests, Stockland filed amended plans with VCAT last October, proposing a reduction in the total dwelling numbers from 155 to 129 (apartments reduced from 145 to 123; and townhouses from 10 to 6), together with increased setbacks to boundaries and to the park interface. They also asked for an increase in car spaces and a reduction in bicycle parking!

Residents mobilising against the project sought to add 258 new parties to the proceeding to the joint statement of grounds filed by Linda Bennett and Rodney Spark. However VCAT rejected this bid. Locals were concerned that the shadow caused by the Stockland project will fall over the Clifton Park West oval and surrounding path, largely due to excessive height and lack of meaningful building setbacks proposed to Gilpin and Clifton Parks.

After the decision, the residents’ group ‘Scale it down’ noted: “At our last meeting on 5 May, we acknowledged deep disappointment with VCAT and the planning process. However, the Stockland decision was not really a surprise, especially given that VCAT had already set a precedent with the Mirvac decision. We will now take a pause before an open invitation to all supporters to regroup with us in July 2022. This will involve an energetic and positive face to face get together to review what’s happened and create a new strategy to protect Brunswick parks. Watch this space.”

Lights out for Mirabella?

For many years, travellers along Lygon Street have enjoyed the sights, lights and chandeliers of the Mirabella store at 141-153 Lygon Street, Brunswick. The business was established in the 1960s by Italian migrants Paul and Silvana Mirabella, and over decades expanded into a multi-million dollar lighting corporation.

Back in 2018, the Mirabella family lodged plans to replace the store with a multi-storey complex comprised of 78 apartments, four shops and space for a showroom at street level. Mirabella’s original planning application, which was refused by Moreland Council, was for a building of eight levels above ground level, plus a roof terrace and two basement levels.

There were 186 objections as neighbouring residents opposed the scale of the development, which would have been 29 metres high in an area with a 17-metre preferred maximum height. Residents were also concerned by original discussion of funnelling vehicles out the back into Warburton Street, a small residential street that runs into Glenlyon Road (ironically, exiting directly across the road from the exit to the proposed Bunnings store on Glenlyon Road, which has just bitten the dust).

After extensive discussions and hearings, VCAT in April granted a planning permit for a revised project at the site of the Mirabella store (application MPS/2018/202). The permit allows partial demolition of the Mirabella building, despite its heritage overlay, and construction of a six (not eight) storey building over basement car parking.

Instead of providing vehicle access to the building via the Warburton Street lot, VCAT approved an exit onto Lygon Street. The ruling noted: “We find that the interruption to the Lygon Street footpath caused by the crossover, an occurrence not uncommon in activity centres, is not fatal to the acceptability of the proposal as a whole. The Department of Transport did not object to the proposal, subject to restricting entry and exit movements to left-in and left-out only, thereby not allowing south-bound traffic to turn right into the site or vehicles exiting the site to turn right into Lygon Street.”

VCAT approved the project going ahead, but with the removal of level 4 and a reduction in the overall height by a minimum of 3.2 metres. They also required “the retention of the heritage building at 151A Lygon Street for a minimum depth of 5 metres from the street frontage including the roof and original awning.”

Proposed giant would extend Lygon “canyon”

A new planning application lodged with Moreland Council proposes two new buildings to tower over Lygon Street and Evans Street, Brunswick: an eight-storey building for 251-265 Lygon Street, running south from Evans Street, currently the ceramics shop and zipper factory; plus a five-storey building on a small block to the rear, 1A Pitt Street (actually up a251 Lygon Street proposal render laneway off Pitt).

This 109-apartment, 29-metre high project is much higher than the preferred maximum height in the Moreland Planning Scheme for this section of Lygon Street (17 metres – a standard 5 storeys). The proposed Pitt Street building is taller than the 4-storeys set out in these guidelines. The proposed buildings would add to the “tunnel” being created by oversize buildings along Lygon Street, with footpaths on both sides in shadow at 3pm on 20 September (Under the planning scheme, shadow is measured on that date, not at mid winter!). Buildings immediately to the south, such as the Lygon Street Nursery – whose plants like a bit of sun – would also be overshadowed.

Resident traffic would enter and exit the site via Evans Street, with 38 traffic movements per hour at peak (almost doubling current Evans Street traffic). Loading is proposed to be via existing laneways off Pitt Street.

The original Mirabella proposal in Lygon Street (story above) was for this height, but was substantially reduced following resident campaigning and a VCAT hearing.

To see the plans or lodge an objection, go to:
Select Enquiry, then click to get to Planning permit applications advertised, and enter application number MPS/2022/4 (or the address).

Filling vacant shopfronts

At the bottom level of multi-storey towers in the Brunswick Activity Centre, you’ll often find an empty space with a “For Lease” sign out the front.

Apart from greedy owners seeking sky-high rents, another reason many spaces are empty is the cost of fitting out a “cold shell” – the empty concrete box left on the ground floor after developers have made their return on investment by selling apartments on upper floors. For many small businesses, paying the rent for a ground floor space can be a challenge, but the cost of fitting out a store-front (lighting, ventilation, grease traps, carpeting, disability-accessible toilets etc) may discourage investment or leasing.

In 2019, Brunswick Residents Network did a quick survey of ground-level shop fronts in multi-story apartment towers along Lygon Street. In those pre-COVID times, half of these shop-fronts were empty (25 out of 48). Many had been vacant for months – or longer (see our June 2019 newsletter for the full report).

We’re now pleased to see some innovative thinking, with a new project to develop a Sustainable Temporary Adaptive Reuse (STAR) Toolkit, as a way of addressing the underuse of commercial buildings in city centres.

The project is co-designing a toolkit for addressing pockets of vacancy within commercial buildings in the Sydney CBD : “The toolkit will support the planning and establishment of low-cost, interim uses for these buildings, countering the economic, social, and environmental stresses affecting urban vibrancy.”

The City of Melbourne already runs a Shopfront Activation Program, reusing retail space temporarily to artists, entrepreneurs and artisan makers to transform empty shopfronts into creative spaces, bespoke displays and pop-up shops. This allows creative businesses to test ideas and build connections between entrepreneurs and the commercial property sector.

The Sydney Fringe Festival has also run a Popup Theatre Pilot Project, examined spaces for temporary reuse to theatre and performance spaces. The project aimed to activate up to
five empty shop-front, retail or alternative spaces to create temporary theatres during
the Fringe festival.

For creative workers facing the loss of space as old factories are turned into apartment blocks, such initiatives might be useful in the Brunswick Activity Centre, along Lygon Street, Nicholson Street and Sydney Road!



Greening Brunswick

Strolling through the golf course

During lockdown, many Brunswick residents took their daily walk into the neighbouring municipality of Darebin, to stroll through the Northcote Public Golf Course across the new Warrk-Warrk Bridge east of the Merri Creek.

Golf course from droneWith no golfing allowed during lockdowns, the empty course became a great place for a stroll, a picnic or for dogs and kids to run wild. Post-lockdown, many people in Darebin and Moreland wanted to continue accessing the course, but the golfing community was understandably narky and put major resources into mobilising objections from far and wide.

Now, after extensive community debate, Darebin Council has decided on the future of the Golf Course after this month’s Council meeting. The endorsed option will see golf continue on-site with a full nine holes, while unlocking 5.72 hectares of open space at the southern end for the wider community to enjoy. Council will further consider whether the nine-hole golf course be open to the public from mid-afternoon.

The new plans, to be implemented in coming months, include new connections to Warrk-Warrk Bridge, creating a valuable link across Merri Creek and along the eastern side of the golf course.

New plan for Stewart Street

The east end of Stewart Street is an important connection for pedestrians between Nicholson Street and the CERES Community Environment Park, near the Merri Creek. With the new Warrk-Warrk bridge now safely linking Brunswick and Northcote, Stewart Street is also a major walking and bike route across the creek, especially for kids going to Brunswick East Primary. This route will soon link us with the new golf links parkland (discussed above). With the 96 tram terminus nearby, plus Albion and Blyth Street buses, the street links CERES (and the new apartment tower next to CERES) with excellent public transport.

Council is belatedly looking at improvements to the area, “to improve the pedestrian amenity, walk-ability and presentation of Stewart Street between Nicholson street and CERES/Roberts Street.” The area is currently a shocker as far as walking goes, with no footpath on much of the southern side, and a narrow path on the north. Council officers have developed a Draft Concept Plan for the area, and you have until 10 June to submit comments or alternatives.

Council has acquired some land to construct a new footpath on the south side of Stewart Street (between Nicholson St and Ryan St), and proposes to upgrade existing footpaths to make Stewart Street safer and more accessible. The plan also includes ideas for trees and landscape, pedestrian crossings and public art.

We believe the plans don’t go far enough in prioritising walking and riding (despite these being the stated priorities of Council and the State Government). Although a southern footpath has been added, the land purchased from the Cretan Brotherhood appears insufficient for a wide footpath, and will require mature trees to be cut down. We would like to see spacious footpaths, and serious treatment, such as a shared zone, to discourage rat running and slow trafficThere’s no sign on the plans of how cars exiting and entering the hundreds of new apartments next to Ceres, will be managed. The amount of car parking spots seems excessive, as few residents appear to park on the street. This is a rare opportunity to create something beautiful, a pedestrian-centred avenue to Ceres, the bridge and to Merri Creek walks. Let’s not miss the chance!

Our community win seats for the Merri Creek

In a welcome decision, Moreland Council has announced funding for 25 seats along the Merri Creek, so walkers, peddlers and joggers can rest their weary feet.

Brunswick Residents Network joined other community groups to put in a joint submission to Moreland’s “Community Budget ideas”, with Council choosing from a selection of budget proposals. Walk on Moreland engaged with BRN and other groups including Friends of Merri Creek; Sustainable Fawkner; Friends of Coburg Lake and Surrounds; and Neighbours United for Climate Action (thanks to Andrea for co-ordinating our submission, as part of ongoing work to improve walkability in Moreland).

Our idea was to increase seating along the Merri creek path. It particularly aimed to help those who need to take a rest while walking. The proposal “Merri Creek Trail: Seating Installation Blitz” was successful, rating second in the community popularity vote, with Council pledging $87,500 for 25 seats along the creek!

Other successful projects totalling $462,500 included: a new scoreboard for Hadfield sporting club; fences at the Harold Stevens Athletics Track; community access to a commercial kitchen; extending the Youth Holistic Outreach Program (YHOP) for one year and funding for information nights for the Northside Renters Rights group. Put on your thinking cap for a proposal next year!



Olive time

Olives to Oil Festival

The BRN newsletter editorial team has just spent the last month, picking, bottling and brining our olive crop (13 kilos this year).

If this all sounds like too much work, why not turn your olive crop into oil, at this Sunday’s CERES Olives to Oil Festival?

Harvest on 27/28 May and book a time to bring your olives to CERES in Brunswick East on this Sunday 29 May, between 12pm – 3pm. Join in the festivities including live music, olive fruit identification, pruning advice and mini olive press demonstrations.

Your olives will be communally pressed by Barfold Olives with the oil available for collection in June. The first 50kg will be processed for you for free, and each kilo after that will have a charge of 50 cents/kilo, payable on the day.

WHAT: Olives to Oil Festival
WHEN: Sunday 29 May, between 12pm – 3pm 45pm
WHERE: CERES Environmental Park, Stewart Street & Roberts Street, Brunswick East



History time: a fruit forest

History of the Dunstan Reserve Food Forest

The Dunstan Reserve Food Forest, at Everett Street in Brunswick West, has a long history as a valued community asset.In the early 1990s, a small group of residents called the Friends of the Food Forest wanted to create a publicly accessible orchard. Designed using permaculture principles, the orchard would not only provide food for the community, but also provide a place for people to visit and enjoy.

Now there’s a great online history of the Food Forest, telling the tales of the ups and downs on community gardening over nearly three decades. With the project once more rejuvenated and going strong, please contact the organisers if you’d like to volunteer or just visit the site in Brunswick West.



Moreland Council stuff

Regular Council meetings – held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month –  are normally held at: Council Chamber, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg.

Future dates are:

  • 8 June
  • 13 July
  • 10 August
  • 14 September
  • 12 October
  • 9 November
  • 29 November – Mayoral Election (Tuesday)
  • 7 December.

Meeting details are available on the Council website.

Council meetings can be watched online, either live, or later – you can find details here along with the agenda for the next Council meeting when it’s posted on the Friday before the monthly meeting. You can register there to receive an alert when the agenda is posted.



Email us!

Please note our email address: And write to tell us what you think of the newsletter. We love feedback. 

If you are able to offer some time to volunteer to help organise our campaigns, and support our work, please get in contact. Our work includes organising meetings, leafleting and letter boxing, graphic design and publicity, and research; on planning, greening Brunswick and traffic management.

[Wondering why this email comes to you from Our Mailchimp email service doesn’t like a gmail sender’s address, so we use a member’s address. Add this address your contacts so our emails don’t get filed as spam, but don’t write to it)



Contacts for our local councillors

Mark Riley (Deputy Mayor)
Mobile: 0499 807044

Lambros Tapinos
Mobile: 0433 419 075

James Conlan
Mobile: 0409 279 335




Welcome to new readers! To contact organisers of the Brunswick Residents’ Network, or to offer help with future activities, please email (This gmail is our preferred address, rather than replying to this email). Thanks to those who have contributed to this edition.

Please forward this e-letter to other Moreland neighbours who’d like a say in the way their community is changing. It’s easy to sign on, or edit your details to include your interests – just go to

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Election commentary authorised by N. Maclellan, c/- 135 Albert Street, Brunswick, Victoria 3056.




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