Cate Cross’s working and community history reads like an ‘100 ways to care for others’ guide.
Before moving to Tumut she taught reading and writing skills to adults at TAFE, and after settling in the valley began working with long-term unemployed people through Skillshare. Next, she became the Director of the (as it was then called) Capper Kindy day care centre, and lent her skills to Tumut Regional Family Services Centre providing support for children and facilitating parenting skills.
She was a Schools for Communities facilitator at Franklin Public School for seven years, helping disadvantaged families feel at home in a school environment, and worked as a consultant for the education department before retiring.
She said her wealth of experience in working with our community’s most vulnerable people has taught her lessons that would make her an asset to council.
“I would like to be a voice for people who may not have necessarily felt heard,” she said.
“That’s been most of my working life, really, is working in that area. The thing I’ve learned most is how valuable it is to work with people, to stand side by side and really listen; to listen to their story and to work out how, together, you can plan how to give them the support to realise their goals.
“Communication is one of my passions. Just making sure that you’re open and transparent, in the way you deal with people.”
It’s Cate first foray into local government, but she said she has an excellent mentor in her husband and former councillor, Peter Cross.
Besides, she sees the challenges of the post-amalgamation council as opportunities, to bring together the best of both shires.
She said that she isn’t going in with any particular projects or agendas in mind. Her first priority will be to listen, and then to use her role as a councillor to fulfil the wants and needs of the whole shire.
“I’d certainly hope that we engage the community and that we bring the whole community together,” she said.
“It’s a much, much bigger area now with very small communities, and I think they must be feeling that they could possibly be overlooked. We must make sure that when we are in meetings that all of those voices are heard. We need to be mindful of the responsibility to ensure that everyone is on board.
“I’m going in with an open mind. It’s a lovely opportunity to see how Tumbarumba have been doing things, and how Tumut does things, and to see the commonalities. How can we cherry pick what’s working really well to make the whole shire work really well?
“It’s a very challenging time. Lots of change, lots of challenges, and that really excites me. One of the things we always hear is that bigger is not always better, but I’d like to work together with the community to make it work well, and to be the best. Not just better, but the best.”