Catherine Forsayeth has put her hand up to lend a lifetime of experience, passion and know-how to the role of Corangamite Shire’s new North Ward councillor.
Ms Forsayeth made a tree change to Derrinallum three years ago and finally feels at home after living all over Australia and the world during her working life.
She said she was excited to nominate for election as the North Ward councillor and she had the time and motivation to make a difference.
“I’ve wanted to get involved in my new community for some time, but it’s taken a few years to feel settled and really feeling like I can help,” she said.
“My approach would very much be to help facilitate action for the community and not to impose my own ideas on the shire’s northern communities.
“Life is meant to be rich and happy and filled with people doing things they enjoy with passion and commitment. I think I can do what I’m good at to see what our community needs and help us collectively meet those needs.”
Ms Forsayeth was born in Albury and spent time in Melbourne, Kinglake and Adelaide where she fostered two Afghani boys, volunteered with asylum seekers and refugees and coordinated the People’s Inquiry into Mandatory Detention.
In 2006 she began a decade-long stint as an international teacher in India, Thailand, Vietnam, Spain and Portugal where she met her husband Victor. Among a long list of accomplishments, Ms Forsayeth managed the rebuilding of a school in Mozambique.
“All my life I’ve been quite politically and socially aware of how people need a voice. I used to think everyone could access things and do things they wanted, but it’s not true and sometimes they need someone to help empower them,” she said.
“We moved to Derrinallum because it was affordable and it’s somewhere we can be healthy that is within a reasonable distance of major centres.
“I certainly think there is an opportunity to attract tree changers who are young enough, with families, to help build our economy and vibrancy.”
Ms Forsayeth said, if successful, she would like to host regular community sessions where people could come and share their views without censure or judgement.
“Listening to other people’s needs will be the key to the role, but of course I have my own thoughts about what is needed – like infrastructure,” she said.
“We need better public transport for young people to get to other centres independently of their parents and for older people as well. Healthcare is another issue where regional disadvantage is quite clear.
“I also believe we need to make sure small farmers can maintain a sustainable business. That’s quite crucial to the viability of living here as we don’t want corporations moving into enormous landholdings with less people and empty houses in the future.
“I’ve got a diverse set of skills…everything from working as a cartoonist at a newspaper to teaching people to make bread. I love painting, drawing, sewing, gardening and growing my own fruit and vegetables.”
Ms Forsayeth has four daughters and is expecting her fourth grandchild. She said she was looking forward to talking to more community members over the next few weeks.
“This is my home and standing for Council is me putting my roots down and wanting to contribute to the community. In all my professional life and travels I’ve collected many relevant skills and I’m ready to put them to work,” she said.