Lydia Kauzlaric was mayor of Moonee Valley in 2004 -5, the first woman to hold that role and, before that, the first female Deputy Mayor. The three things that motivated her were social justice, building stronger communities and putting democracy into action, all of which contributed significantly to the Flemington/Kensington community.
The daughter of migrants, Lydia arrived in Australia as a 7-year old from the former Yugoslavia. As an adult she was drawn to the Flemington/Kensington area with her family. She said, “The area has always impressed me aesthetically with its big old beautiful buildings and leafy streets.”
When interviewed for the Autumn 2005 edition of the Flemington Kensington News, Lydia listed the village feel, community spirit and her “fantastic” neighbours as things important to her in Flem/Ken. She added, “I have never looked at living anywhere else since moving to this area because I have everything I want right here!”
Lydia, a teacher and later western region Catholic curriculum co-ordinator, originally became aware of the importance of local government through her interest in local planning issues. It was a time when Victorian councils were being amalgamated, and commissioners had been brought in during the transition period to replace councillors. Lydia said, “I guess it was a case of realising how important something is when it is taken away. True local democracy is so important as it gives the community a voice and allows us to have a say in the big decisions that will affect our families now and for generations to come.”
One of Lydia’s personal and professional passions was the advancement of women. She tried to develop greater opportunities for women in key decision-making forums in the community.
Lydia never sat back and allowed others to do the job, becoming involved in many community groups, including the Flemington and Kensington Associations, the Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek , and was a board member of Doutta Galla Community Health and founding member of the Moonee Valley Peace Network. In the early 90s, Lydia did a stint as editor of the Flemington Kensington News. Lydia said her time as editor gave her a greater insight into local government and brought her closer to the community, with an enhanced knowledge of local issues.
In the limited opportunities outside of her dedication to her family and the local and broader community, Lydia found time to enjoy movies, eating with friends, bushwalking and travelling.
Unfortunately Lydia passed away in December 2006, after a long battle with cancer. The Pink Breakfast fundraiser, of which Lydia was also a founding member, honoured her with an award. There is also an annual award in her name bestowed by Doutta Galla Community Health.
The Friendship Circle, a lovely gathering spot with a mosaic in Debney’s Park, was dedicated to Lydia when it opened in March 2008, acknowledging her substantial devotion and contribution to our area and her hopes for the future.
This article is sourced primarily from “Lydia Leads By Example”, an article in the Flemington Kensington News of Autumn 2005 by Carolyn Webster.