Interview with: Fraser Coast Regional Council Mayor, Cr George Seymour

Prior to being elected in 2012 as a councillor for Fraser Coast Regional Council, Cr George Seymour ran the region’s youth homelessness shelter. This compassionate nature has extended into his new role as Mayor, in which George works hard to help solve youth unemployment and create a healthy, thriving local community.

Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to join Council and become Mayor?

Before I decided to run for council I worked as a disability support worker, ran a youth homeless shelter and was a lawyer mainly doing Legal Aid work, so I was very aware of social issues in my community and wanted to make a difference.

I see local government as the best avenue to assist the people within the municipality.  I also enjoy the role of Mayor and the opportunity to serve my community. Within council, I also participate in the Audit Committee, the Fraser Coast Heritage Reference Group and the Ted and Maud Mungomery Vine Forest Management Committee.

I saw joining the local government as an opportunity to help, as the community can see how we have a tangible impact through the creation of amenities such as libraries and parks.

How would you describe your vision for the Fraser Coast?

My vision is to create infrastructure that encourages participation in the community, particularly through increased recreational activities and sporting facilities. We want to create a true community, where neighbours are friends and people support one another.

I am working to help build a community that is vibrant, healthy and active.  I think the Fraser Coast is an amazing place with a perfect climate.  There are so many opportunities that can be matched with huge potential.

Our tourism and events organisation, Fraser Coast Tourism and Events, is looking at new ways to grow our economy while ensuring the Fraser Coast remains a great place to live.

There is also a resurgence underway within our local manufacturing industry. As Mayor, this year I would like to see our three new manufacturing factories for ammunition, timber and airplanes come to fruition, along with the expansion of our university.

What do you think are the main social values held by the community? 

I think the strongest and most binding value of our community is kindness.

We want to see people achieve their full potential and are working to support the community through creating new infrastructure, while also encouraging businesses to set up here and provide more jobs for the people living on the Fraser Coast.

What are the main challenges facing your city?

The youth unemployment rate on the Fraser Coast is far too high.

We know that not having a job can make a person feel as though they lack purpose and it can be very disheartening. Fraser Coast Regional Council is working hard to empower young people within our community to provide them with the opportunities they need, which includes increasing access to tertiary education and employment through our Regional Deal.

The Hinkler Regional Deal is a challenge that all three levels of government are committed to working on as the year progresses.

What are the main opportunities for the Fraser Coast?

At the moment we are building a new sporting precinct while working on our CBD revitalisation project as part of our Regional Deal. The focal point of the deal will be the renewal of the Sunshine Coast University campus in Hervey Bay.

We want to increase university participation within our community. This will be done by expanding the campus – which includes marine biology as one of its most popular courses – and providing more course options for students while increasing the amount of accommodation available. We see this as a very important project that will benefit our community and provide them with more opportunities to expand their knowledge in a discipline of their choosing.

Fraser Coast Regional Council is also working with businesses and entities including the Chamber of Commerce and the Urban Development Institute of Australia to increase our liveability through having more shops open and ready for business in our shopping centre.

Why did you choose to join Regional Capitals Australia?

We saw joining Regional Capitals Australia as a great way to work with other like-minded councils. It was also a way to increase our knowledge by working with other councils with similar issues while also increasing our access to the Federal Government.

It is in the interests of regional communities across Australia to work together and advocate to other levels of government on our shared concerns.