Stand up to discrimination in Darebin Council decision-making

Stand up to discrimination in Darebin Council decision-making

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Darebin Watch started this petition

Link to video: Councillor Newton’s comments

Darebin Councillor Susanne Newton has stated that a 50 metre pool is not recommended for Reservoir because of the “many new migrants in the area who may not have experienced swimming before”. We, the Darebin community, believe this is offensive and discriminatory. The issue goes far beyond a swimming pool. Darebin councillors should not be making decisions which disadvantage people based on their race, birthplace and/or perceived lack of a particular skill. This type of decision-making affects the whole Darebin community. 

The Darebin community says NO to racism, discrimination and elitism. 

Councillor Newton’s comments:

Greens Councillor Susanne Newton said in the council meeting on 26 April 2022:

“Ultimately when considering the complex and varied health and well-being needs that exist in the East Reservoir and surrounding community, a 50 metre pool is not recommended as an option to respond to those needs or address the socio-economic disadvantage that exists in the community … so what the report talks about is that there are many new migrants in this area who have may not have experienced swimming before, which is why the report recommends an increase to the hydro-therapy pool and to the learn-to-swim pool, which is what would make sense for this area.” (Link to video at top)

Councillor Susan Rennie has agreed that a 50 metre pool shouldn’t be provided based on a “needs analysis” conducted by Council. 

The law:

The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) states: “It is unlawful for a person to do any act involving a distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of any human right or fundamental freedom in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.”

Our beliefs:

We, the Darebin community, believe that: 

  1. A person’s country of birth should never be used as a reason to deny them a council service or amenity. 
    Doing so is discriminatory and unfairly punishes people based on their race and/or national extraction.
  2. It is wrong to make blanket assumptions about the skills of everyone in a particular group, based on their country of birth.
  3. Council services and amenities should be allocated and funded on an equitable basis, regardless of race or national extraction.
  4. The concept that services and amenities should be provided only to people who already have the relevant skills to use them is elitist and cruel.
  5. If skill level is to be considered as a factor in allocating and funding services and amenities, this should be looked at through a lens of trying to remedy disadvantage and improve people’s skills, NOT used as a basis to deny people services and entrench disadvantage. 

Questions for Councillor Susanne Newton:

  1. How did you come to the conclusion that migrants may not have experienced swimming before? Please produce the research/evidence you’ve relied on to reach this conclusion.
  2. Have you considered the possibility that people who have not experienced swimming before, could learn?
  3. Have you considered the children and grandchildren of these migrants you are referring to? Even if migrants may not have experienced swimming before, why will their children and grandchildren be denied access to a 50 metre pool?
  4. Have you considered Australian-born people in this local area and how your decision will affect them?
  5. Do you apply this policy logic to other services and amenities? For example, if there is low literacy in a particular community, should they be denied libraries? If there are low levels of education, should they be denied schools? Should refugees not have access to English classes because they can’t speak English? If you don’t agree with this policy logic, please explain why you’re applying this policy logic in relation to whether Reservoir should have a 50 metre pool.


Councillor Newton indicated her comments were based on the consultants’ report (quote and video above).

BUT, the points she attributed to the report, are not in the report at all. So, we already know these comments have been really hurtful and offensive. But maybe worse — what we also have is an elected representative potentially misleading the community and pretending her comments are based on an independent report, when in reality, it appears they’re nowhere to be found in the report.

Councillor Susanne Newton — the ball’s in your court. You used a public platform to make these comments about us and our community. If you have anything further to say, please use your public platform again to do so.

Most importantly — a HUGE thank you to everyone who has signed and shared this petition. It’s a true community effort and we should all be proud that we’ve stood up and said we won’t tolerate offensive, elitist and discriminatory comments and decision-making by local representatives!

Link to full council meeting:

Link to the reports:

1,495 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!