THEY take your rubbish away and cut the grass in the park. But if that’s all you know about your local council, you’re probably missing out on lots of free and useful services. Luke Henriques-Gomes has more.
In Melbourne, the suburb you live in is governed by a local or city council. They maintain many of the facilities you pass everyday like parks, swimming pools and yes, waste disposal. But they also provide a whole range of handy free services you might not know about.
Each council operates its own network of libraries throughout their area. Inside are a wide range of books, DVDs, music and magazines. If you join at one branch, you automatically become a member of all libraries within that city council. This means if you borrow a book from the Richmond Library, you can return it at the Collingwood Library. Also, you don’t have to live in the area to become a member. As long as you’re a Victorian resident, you can join any library in the state. Just take along some ID and you’ll be borrowing books and surfing the web in no time.
Computers and wi-fi
Once you join your local library, you can also use their internet equipped computers free of charge. If you’ve run out of bandwidth and your university is a train ride away, just skip down to your local library to use the internet. And if you have you’re own laptop or smartphone, you can sign up for the free wi-fi service too.
If you want to improve your English but don’t trust the ads you see on Gumtree, or up on the university noticeboard, there’s an alternative. Many councils offer free conversation circles. These meetings are a relaxed opportunity to practice your English with experienced volunteers. Check with your local library or neighbourhood house to see if they’re available near you.
Halls for hire
Want to throw a big party without disturbing the apartment across the hall? Have you thought about the local community centre? City councils will let you hire out their facilities so you have more room and more privacy.
Like libraries, neighbourhood houses are a community focused meeting place that offer a range of free activities and services. If you feel like talking to someone, try your local neighbourhood house for counselling services. Or if you’re in the mood for some fun, there are lots of arts and crafts activities too.
As you now know, the council you belong to depends on where you live. So here’s a quick student tour of Melbourne’s local councils:
RMIT and Melbourne University are located in the City of Melbourne which includes Melbourne, Docklands, Parkville, Carlton, and Flemington. Also close-by is the City of Yarra (Richmond, Collingwood, Fitzroy and surrounds).
If you take the tram along Bridge Rd, you’ll eventually reach the City of Boroondara, the home of Swinburne University. As well Hawthorn, Boroondara takes in the likes of Kew, Camberwell and Glen Iris.
North of Melbourne is Latrobe University and RMIT’s Bundoora Campus. Darebin, Banyule and Whittlesea each lay claim to Bundoora. Darebin’s heart is closer to the city – think Northcote and Fairfield – while Banyule reaches the hills of Eltham and Greensborough.
A long way from Bundoora is the south-eastern suburb of Clayton. Here you’ll find Monash University’s aptly named Clayton Campus and be standing in the also aptly named City of Monash. Glen Waverley and Oakleigh are also in Monash.
The other Monash Campus is in Caulfield, home of the famous racecourse and the City of Glen Eira. As well as Caulfield, Glen Eira oversees suburbs like Bentleigh, Ormond and Elsternwick. Nearby are Port Phillip and Stonnington.
On the other side of West Gate Bridge is Victoria University. Its Footscray location means that if you live nearby, your rubbish is taken away by the City of Maribyrnong.