Kyogle Council, Robert Cullen, Afterlee, Independent
Tell us about where you live and your family.
I was born and bred on my family’s dairy and beef farm at Afterlee. I am the fourth generation of the Cullen family to live there. It is now a beef farm with fruit trees.
My family have all had a great love of Kyogle and were active in the community. They wanted a better quality of life for rural and regional people.
Robert has not been a councillor before.
What do you bring to the role of councillor this election?
I am incredibly proud and passionate about Kyogle and the entire shire. I am committed to maintaining this area as the best place in the world to live and grow up in. I want to listen to and be open to the ideas and wishes of the people.
I have a good understanding of the issues facing farmers and people who live in rural areas as well as the people who live in the towns and villages.
I am also motivated by the recent attempt by council to change the main street. There was no prior consultation. I want to change the process. Listen to, talk to and truly survey all the people about what they want. Not just online surveys. The council should serve the people.
The council must listen to all age groups not just the voters.
All sides of my family have had a long association with the local indigenous people. My grandfather Walter Reeves was a tickie and spoke the Githabul language. My grandmother Helen Montgomery taught indigenous children and learnt a great deal from them.
I am aware of disabled issues. I had a brother Greg, who had muscular dystrophy and was in a wheelchair from the age of nine until his death at 17.
I’ve also experienced the issues of the elderly through having a mother with dementia. Kyogle Hospital Aged Care was outstanding. Kyogle LGA has a large elderly population.
What brings you joy in life?
I get great pleasure on my farm, the amazing natural environment around here, the birds, trees, plants, the animals and the beautiful creeks and valleys. I absolutely love teaching primary school children. I love meeting people.
What difficulties does your community face?
One of the biggest issues that the people of Kyogle Shire face is the lack of an open council, one that listens to the people first. And roads are a huge issue. The lattice work of roads in the council area should be one of the main priorities – improving and maintaining them as well as the environment, both natural and rural.
What is your job? What do you like/dislike about it?
I taught for 38 years in many multicultural suburbs of Sydney. I have loved every minute of being a primary school teacher.
Primary age children keep you young at heart and they give you a hope for the future. I am retired but I teach at the small country schools and in Kyogle.
I am passionate about keeping small schools open.
Dare to dream – what is your vision for your region?
I have lived on a farm and in a big city which has fostered an understanding of why people move to the Kyogle area. Let’s not ‘Bangalow-ise’ Kyogle.
I am a mix of country and urban, of the old and new, but I hope one thing I have more than anything, is a love of Kyogle Shire and the wonderful, friendly people who live here.