A RECENT spate of vandalism experienced in numerous locations throughout the shire is problematic, distressing, and a waste of time and resources, but it also demonstrates the spirit of forgiveness and understanding from a strong and united community says Mayor Bill Taylor.
“It’s understandable that the community should feel outrage at news of today’s act of vandalism and racial intolerance as seen in Bega’s Littleton Gardens,” he said on Wednesday.
“This is the community’s garden; the newly opened centre of town that has quickly been adopted as a place to relax and play, and it’s upsetting to see graffiti and burnt-out street furniture taking centre stage.
“In addition to this, we have recently experienced other acts of vandalism within the shire.
“About a month ago, many in the Eden community were devastated to discover a 12-metre section of the Lake Curalo boardwalk burnt beyond repair, and of particular concern I have heard this week of vandals leaving broken glass in the soft fall sand around children’s play areas in Endeavour Park, Eden, and Girraween Park, Bega.
“The sand in these parks has been fully replaced to make them safe for public use, and the section of burnt-out boardwalk is in the process of being replaced.”
The graffiti on Littleton Café was painted over by the owner and the vandalised picnic table replaced within 24 hours, “but this all comes at considerable expense to the community”.
“It’s enough to make people deeply concerned and rightfully angry at these senseless acts, but importantly, we should be looking at the community’s response instead of the acts of a misguided minority,” Cr Taylor said.
“When viewed in this manner, feelings of outrage and disappointment quickly turn into those of inspiration as people work together to keep our shire branded as the safe and happy place that it has always been.
“It’s all too easy to focus on the acts of a few individuals, who for reasons that we may never know decide to engage in antisocial behaviour, but the Bega Valley Shire draws its strength from natural beauty and community spirit, and I’m happy to report that our key strengths are unshakeable.
“A strong community is a tolerant community, and it is pleasing to hear people refusing to be drawn into racial debates despite the painting of a provocative and ugly message on a local wall.
“The graffiti has already gone, we continue as a united community regardless of race or culture, and the community has moved on.
“In fact I would welcome the person who painted this message to hear the Mayoral Minute at the upcoming council meeting on Wednesday, in which we will vote on formally recognising the shire as a place that welcomes refugees.
“If anyone has information relating to these or any act of vandalism, I encourage them to contact the police,” Cr Taylor said.