A proud Wiradjuri woman who grew up in Melbourne’s western suburbs has set her sights on being a strong voice for her community as Melton’s first Indigenous councillor.
Ashleigh Vandenberg, a registered nurse who works on a surgical ward, said she has always had a passion for helping others and striving to see the best in people.
The mother or two who was elected to represent Coburn Ward said she is proud to be breaking new ground as a proud Wiradjuri woman in local government.
“My mother is Wiradjuri and as a child she was taken from her family as she was deemed ‘half-caste’ and placed in the Ballarat Orphanage in an event now known as the Stolen Generation,” she said.
“The inclusion of proud in today’s context is based on past stereotypes that cast Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a negative light to the point people would hide who they were.
“Today’s Australia is vastly different to the world my mother was raised in – the wonderful people of Melton have further proven that by supporting me in my council candidacy.”
Cr Vandenberg said her role as a nurse is to help people in their time of need, a responsibility that extends into her personal life where she continue to help and support the people around her such as working with sporting clubs and community groups to run activities and fundraisers.
She said she is proud to be representing the people of Melton, a place that has grown dear to her heart.
“My motivation to run for council was to continue to help my community by being a strong voice and work towards building a healthy, safe and strong community,” she said.
“Melton has always been special to me for the time I spent at school and when it came time to choose a place to raise our family we could not go past the City of Melton.
“The people of Melton are a fantastic, welcoming and inclusive community.”
Cr Vandenberg said there are a range of areas in which Melton needs further improvement, however the “current overwhelming community issue” that requires urgent action is the establishment of a new Melton Public Hospital.