Australian-Croatian Bianca Crvelin (born Vidaic) Succeeds in Local Government Elections in Sydney

Bianca Crvelin (née Vidaic) Photo: Private collection

Stretching from Sydney’s Palm Beach to Manly the Local government area of Northern Beaches Council houses over 266,000 people and an Australia born lady of Croatian descent, Bianca Crvelin (born Vidaic) has at the 4 December 2021 as Australian Liberal Party candidate secured a seat as Councillor, thus entering into a very important  hands on role in making a difference to the Australian community living in this vast area. It is clear to me that this young woman, Bianca Crvelin, has approached this journey of public life from citizen to councillor with energy, enthusiasm and a clear view of what she wants to achieve for the community. These are the hallmarks of someone who sees their tasks in life in advocacy and effective representation of the community around them. I wanted to know more and so I interviewed her and this is what she had to say to the questions I asked:

First of all permit me to congratulate you on your victory at the recent Local Government elections in NSW. You have been elected as councillor on Northern Beaches Council in Sydney. How did the electoral success make you feel and why?

Electoral success is unlike anything I have experienced. It is such a great feeling to have the support of my local community. To be the trusted voice for them and their families. I feel very humbled and privileged to have been elected into this position. I am looking forward to learning the ins and outs of Council and how to best represent my community.

Have you ever run for political office before this year?

This is my second time running as a candidate for local government. On my first occasion I ran as a number 2 in the Forest Ward. I knew I had no chance of success, but the experience was great. On this occasion I ran as the lead candidate for my ward, and the odds where slightly better for me to get elected. We ran a good campaign, and I would have loved for my number 2 to get up. Perhaps we can work on this for the next election.

You were a successful candidate at 4 December local government elections for the Australian Liberal Party, how long have you been an active member of that Party?

I have been an active member of the Liberal party for some 12 years. As you can see, I joined the party much later in life. It has been a wonderful experience, and I have made some great friends.

Bianca Crvelin and her husband Ante (back row), their two sons (front row) Photo: Family album

What specifically drew you to lead a life of politics or government? How did you decide to pursue such involvement in life and what attracted you to the Australian Liberal Party?

I joined the party to get active and to be heard. I realised that I wanted to be part of the solution and not simply stay on the sidelines and see issues. I wanted to get involved. I felt that I was not represented in politics at that time (being a young mother) and so by joining I was able to get involved.

I have been a Liberal voter since I was 18 years of age. My values are very much aligned to the party. I reached out to my local State Member (MP Jonathan O’Dea) and he connected me with my then branch president. I started attending meetings and became very active in the branch, helping out on election days and eventually holding numerous positions in the various Conferences within the Party. Over the years I gained the trust of many supporters within the party which gave me the confidence to run for local government.

Can you tell us about your electoral platform for the last local government elections please.

Main concerns for Narrabeen Ward:

  1. Rates – There was a promise upon amalgamation (of Councils) that rates would drop. I am yet to see this occur. I would hope that we would see these promises achieved. Accountability is very important, and when a promise is made it must be delivered.
  2. Waste – Council has to-date spent funds on unnecessary changes to bins and approved funds for a COVID memorial (I like many, do not want to walk along our fore-shore a remember the events which transpired in 2020/21 where families and business were put under huge stresses and the world as we know it changed, not for the better).
  3. Narrabeen Lagoon Entrance Management – I would like to see the lagoon entrance managed in a more future proof fashion. We have had several weather occurrences which have made it difficult for residents of Narrabeen Ward, Council needs to stop talking about solutions and start delivering. 
  4. Flood proofing the Wakehurst Parkway – Being a mum of two who utilised the Oxford Falls Early Learning Centre for some 4 years I was heavily affected by the flooding when it occurred on Wakehurst Parkway. I would like to see the road flood proofed, so that others do not suffer as I did.
  5. Narrabeen State Park needs to be maintained and kept in pristine conditions. I and my family have been to the park on many occasions, as have many (especially during lockdown), we need to make sure we look after the area so all can enjoy it now and in the future.

How do those main concerns or needs for improvement or strengthening on the Northern Beaches compare to those of Sydney as a whole and then the State of New South Wales?

Councils on the whole need to be focused on efficiency, accountability and community involvement. As elected officials our constituents have trusted us to be their voice.

Councils need to reduce the amount of waste be it in their processes and their profit and losses.

I believe that these concerns resonate throughout all councils. This is why we need active representation from the community. Locals need to get involved. I will be seeking community engagement within Narrabeen with the hope that we can make some real differences in our area. 

In your local government community, are there any specific projects or needs that you are particularly passionate about and would like to highlight and advocate for?

I have grown up in the Northern Beaches and I feel that I am so lucky to have had this experience. I would like to see all our parks upgraded. I would like to see clean areas for families and friends to connect. I want to see our beaches and parks in pristine conditions.

I want to ensure that we protect our area so that future generations can enjoy our area as much as we have.

Perhaps I am reaching to far, but I have much work ahead and I want to make an impact in our area.

Your local government area attracts a large number of tourists but this industry has suffered significantly due to Covid-19 pandemic restriction measures and lockdowns. Do you see a light at the end of this business downturn tunnel and what do you think, in general terms, needs to be done to help business recovery at a greater pace than what is already occurring? How can local governments help?

Small businesses have been hit the hardest by the COVID events. In the short-term Councils need to help out as much as possible. We need to have engagement with them to understand their specific pain points. During my time out and about so far in the community the biggest issue many are facing is the lack of staff. Many cafés simply do not have staff to be able to open their doors to full capacity. Council needs to be the voice so that State and Federal Governments are aware of this issue.

Council can offer some discounts to use of open areas (it is my understanding we are already doing this).

In your opinion, what sort of role should local councils be playing in terms of assisting new migrants, refugees and asylum seekers?

Local Council can help ensure any new migrants, refugees, asylum seekers are well assimilated to the local area. Council can reach out to the new residents and make sure they feel welcome and know about the events in their local community, so they feel connected to their new home.

Your local government area is often described as paradise, with its beaches, coastal spreads, green areas. What about Climate Change and carbon emissions reductions program, what sort of things do you think the local government could influence? What changes or reforms to environmental protection would you like to see?

It is my understanding that overall concerns on climate are considered by Federal Government. However Local Council can ensure that local projects take into account the latest guidance by the Federal Government.

Council has the ability to try to ensure that the local take up Federal Initiatives is achieved.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am Northern Beaches born and bred. The beaches have been my home for over 40 years. I am a wife, and mother of two boys, I have a career in Financial Services which spans over 20 years. Being a qualified accountant, I bring with me a wealth of knowledge from the corporate sector. Over the years I have been active in both my son’s schools and sports activities. I am a Rotarian and I am excited about the opportunity to be a voice for my community and represent them and their families on Northern Beaches Council.

Bianca Crvelin (back row R) and her sister Simone Magas Front row: Mile and Jenny Vidaic (Bianca’s parents) Photo: Family album

Both of your parents are of Croatian origins (your father Mile from Zrnovo on the Island of Korcula and your mother Jenny from Nin near the northern coast city of Zadar). What does your Croatian heritage mean to you personally in terms of your bringing up as an Australian in a multicultural society? How do you think your Croatian cultural heritage may have contributed to developing awareness of needs of others and living as active member of the community?

Being a daughter to two wonderful Croatian parents I am very privileged to have had this cultural upbringing. My parents have instilled in me a strong sense of family, community and work. I believe I have a unique ability to understand many groups of people because of this. Australia is full of people from varying backgrounds and being able to connect with them is a wonderful feeling. Whilst I was campaigning, I had the opportunity to speak to many different people and I was overjoyed to tell people of my Croatian heritage and speak to them in Croatian. Some people of ethnic decent told me they felt that I am a great representation of them, and that I would get their vote. Croatians by our nature are very welcoming and kind-hearted, I believe this is what carried me through my campaign, and will allow me to work well with my fellow Councillors.

Ina Vukic

Part of Northern Beaches Council Area Sydney Australia PHOTO: northernbeaches.gov.nsw.au
Zrnovo Beach Island of Korcula Croatia
Zrnovo Island of Korcula Croatia
Nin Croatia

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