Benalla Councillors hear from Ukranian counterparts on devastation of ongoing war

Key speaker: Benalla Mayor Bernie Hearn (right) pictured with Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, at the 2022 Assembly of Local Government in Canberra. Photo by Contributed

Benalla Mayor Bernie Hearn recently had an opportunity to hear messages from mayors across war-torn Ukraine.

She was in Canberra with fellow councillors for the Assembly of Local Government, hosted by the Australian Local Government Association.

While in Canberra Cr Hearn also had the privilege of meeting Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Vasyl Myroshnychenko.

This conference is the peak annual event for local government office bearers, with more than 800 mayors and councillors from across Australia attending each year.

Ambassador Myroshnychenko presented a video to the conference of Ukrainian mayors speaking about their home towns.

It showed them in all their glory with beautiful historic buildings and wonderful gardens before the war, followed by images of these same towns completely destroyed.

Cr Hearn described the video as devastating.

“It actually bought it home,” Cr Hearn said.

“It made it real.”

Cr Hearn said it was particularly confronting to see the towns before, and after the invasion.

“You couldn’t even recognise them,” she said.

“There were no buildings, and it just seemed everything was grey.

“All the beautiful gardens were gone. The trees were broken. The buildings were rubble.

“They looked like different places.”

After his address to the assembly a motion to support Ukraine was put forward and was unanimously passed.

The motion stated: “We the delegates of the 2022 National General Assembly of Local Government stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and its legitimate elected democratic governments in seeking peace, security and stability within the State of Ukraine.”

Cr Hearn said it was a necessity for mayors and councillors to attend the annual conference, due to how much they take away from it.

“There were so many speaker at the conference,” she said.

“Popular journalist Stan Grant was great.

“He spoke about democracy and was absolutely amazing.

“We also heard the new Local Government Minister Catherine King speak, plus many more.

“The assembly gives us a chance to understand what is going on in other councils around Australia.

“There was delegates from 566 local government areas, and we get to talk to them about things we are doing, about things they are doing, and it’s a great opportunity to draw on the experience of others and share ideas.”