Former councillor honoured for services to local government and environment

Former councillor honoured for services to local government and environment
Brendan Rees

Former City of Melbourne councillor and Kensington resident Dr Cathy Oke has always had a desire to contribute to her community.

She held executive positions on a range of council advisory committees including the Water Reference Group, the Aboriginal Melbourne Portfolio, and the Melbourne Music Steering Committee, during her term as councillor from 2008-2020 – with increasing investment in biodiversity in the City of Melbourne being her biggest highlight.

On Australia Day, Dr Oke received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her services to local government, and to the environment.


“To be considered for the Order of Australia is obviously an honour,” she said. “I was a little taken aback, and then clearly thankful to whomever it was that nominated me, and to my family and colleagues for their support.”


But like many community-minded citizens, Dr Oke said, “individual awards are a little awkward, given the projects I have been recognised for are not achieved by one person alone”.

Ultimately, though, the recognition for her contribution to local government and the environment was very welcome.

While at the council, Dr Oke’s projects included the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy and Nature in the City Strategy, Exceptional Trees Register, and Melbourne Music Week.

“Local government is the level of government closest to the action when it comes to climate and biodiversity responses, and cities are full of diverse and innovative people. So, highlighting the importance of other levels of government collaborating with cities and their citizens on these critical issues is what drives me, as I see real opportunity for change,” she said.

Dr Oke, an enterprise principal fellow in Informed Cities, Melbourne Centre for Cities, Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne, follows the footsteps of passionate family members who have also made a difference to their communities.

“I am proud to be the fourth Oke woman in my immediate family to be considered for an Order of Australia honour. My Nanna, Marjorie Oke, my mother Elizabeth Kay Oke and my aunt Linda Oke have all received an Order of Australia. So, my dad needs a nomination now because he is a champion too!” •

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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