HOUSING, financial insecurity, death of a friend, illness of a family member and domestic violence led to Kerri McCafferty’s seemingly sudden resignation from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
McCafferty publicly explained the reasons behind her resignation last December at council’s Tuesday 21 February meeting.
After congratulating Cr Simon Brooks on being her Seawinds Ward replacement, McCafferty said: “A little more on my resignation. It’s probably time I started to talk about it.
Elected to council in October 2020, McCafferty was part of a new look council, with eight of its 11 members being first time councillors.
However, ratepayer representation by councillors has not been consistent.
In March 2021 long time councillor Hugh Fraser resigned from Nepean Ward, followed late last year by Watson Ward’s Paul Mercurio who was elected in November as the new state Labor MP for Hastings.
Briars Ward councillor Despi O’Connor took time off earlier in the year to campaign as an independent for the federal seat of Flinders.
McCafferty told the 21 February meeting that her decision to leave council had been “incredibly difficult. … and now it is the time for me to take care of my loved ones and support them in the same way they supported me in my endeavour to pursue progressive change for the community in which I was born and raised”.
The meeting where McCafferty spoke was held at Mount Eliza Community Hall, a place she emotionally recalled having attended as a four or five year old for calisthenics training: “I’ve been here forever – quite a memory coming back in here.”
She said 2022 had been “undoubtedly one of the most challenging of my life”.
“My personal circumstances changed significantly from the time I was elected, eventually compromising my ability to perform my role at a level I wanted to and a level I believe this community deserves,” McCafferty said.
“Due to occurrences beyond my control, housing and financial insecurity impacted my life, in much the same way it has for countless people on the Mornington Peninsula.
“I addition, these pressures were accompanied by acute grief after the sudden death of a close friend, the declining health of a family member and a serious domestic violence incident that has deeply affected my entire family.
“These pressures, combined with the time demands of raising two small children on my own and the all-encompassing role of a councillor, created an untenable situation.”
McCafferty said that during her time on council she had “focussed on driving change through evidence based policy, fairness and equity and sound democratic consultation”.
“In all processes of council, I have strived to combine reason, logic, genuine consultation and compassion in equal parts.
“However, representing a community is a privilege, it is a responsibility that I take seriously, and I understand and recognise that leading well can also mean knowing when it is time to step back and let someone equally, or more, capable to take the reins.”
McCafferty thanked her supporters and the “countless people” who had inspired her.
“I would even extend a thanks to those who attempted to intimidate me, a gruelling reality for those elected to local government, and it’s made worse in the age of social media.
… Because it allowed me to realise the full extent of my resilience and determination.”
McCafferty said she would “continue to use my energies and abilities to advocate for the greater good in my community”, including campaigning for community places to be accessible to people with disability, for maternal and child health services to be adequately financed by the state government.
“[And] for the promised Rosebud Hospital rebuild and for our environmental policies always to be based on evidence rather than ideology and, mostly, for our women and our children to be safe in their homes.”