Ms Whittaker said she is excited to be the Greens candidate at the September elections.
“I grew up in Bulli. I studied at Bulli High School and completed a Bachelor of Science at University of Wollongong,” she said.
“I lived in the northern suburbs as a renter until around seven years ago then we purchased a home in Port Kembla.”
“I believe it’s time for a fresh approach to how our council operates and what we, as a community, aim for,” she said.
“The Greens have big plans to push for more changes to increase affordable housing so our young people, key workers such as teachers, health care workers, paramedics, police officers, and the vulnerable can afford to live in our wonderful city.
“We want to see better access and transport throughout the city with more footpath upgrades, pedestrian crossings and bike paths constructed so we put people first.
“We will ensure the first new skate park built in 10 years is delivered as soon as possible, followed by the second and the third. This is what the community has been asking for decades.
“This is just a few of the ideas the community has told us they want, but we know we need to do so much more to tackle urban heating, the transition to renewables and protecting our amazing escarpment, waterways and beaches as the effects of climate change intensifies. So we’ll be out talking to the people of Wollongong every day until 14 September to guide our progressive agenda for the next term of council.”
“I consider the opportunity to build on the achievements of our exceptional Greens Councillors Mithra and Cath,” Mr Docker said.
“We need a fundamental shift in our Council’s approach to housing that puts the needs of the community before the interests of property developers.
“Council must do more to future proof our communities for the impacts of a changing climate including greater investment into Urban Greening projects to keep our communities and streets cool and leafy.”
State Greens MP, Sue Higginson, MLC, said Illawarra is on the frontline of the biggest challenges and opportunities that NSW faces, and her party are ready to tackle the big issues without the baggage of vested interests.
"It might be a challenge but I've never shied away from a challenge," Ms Whittaker said at the Greens' candidate launch.
"I think we've seen in Shellharbour we've had a first-time Mayor who's never been a councillor and it's been very successful.
"I'm someone who likes to have a go. I have really strong community values and I think as long as I represent what people are asking and stay connected to the community then I can get the job done."
Ms Whittaker praised the "integrity" of Cr Bradbery but felt "we're ready for some new ideas and a fresh approach to council".
"I think the last council operated really well because there was no one block who was in control," she said.
"Decisions had been made collaboratively and I think that's the best way to work. I'm a great collaborator and I hope the next council has a good balance rather than a big block of one party."
"It took me a lot of time to consider because I feel it's very onerous to get involved in something as a volunteer in this kind of way," Ms Stuart said.
"I suppose what buoyed me, I talked to Cath and Mithra and I talked to other people in the Greens. They told me there would be a team that would help me look through documents and help think through things. No-one can be an expert on everything."
"One of the things I loved the most, even though obviously didn't end up in parliament, was hearing people's stories," Mr Docker said.
"Hearing the challenges they've been facing and being able to take it to some sort of platform, like the media, and help elevate and promote their voices.
"There are a lot of people in the community, vulnerable people, who are simply not heard. I hope whether I make it on council or not that I can promote and elevate the concerns of those most vulnerable in our community."
"It's time for a fresh approach to how our city council operates," Ms Whittaker said.
Ms Whittaker said in the midst of a housing crisis it was time for Council to take on a more active role in addressing housing affordability, such as collecting windfall profits where upzoning occurs and including social and affordable housing as part of planning agreements.
"At the moment, it's basically crumbs," she said. "Considering the large profits that developers are making, it's quite shocking that wasn't able to be 10 or 20 per cent."
Ms Whittaker said increasing supply, without stipulating that units be set aside as social or affordable housing, would do little to address soaring rents and house prices. "Having people near transport hubs is something the Greens support, because it reduces cars on the road, we just have to make sure that there's trains on the train lines."
"I want to be able to see people not being trapped in their homes and able to get about the community freely without being fearful of cars," she said. "Safe routes to school, access for the disabled, we'll really focusing on getting all those upgrades happening around the city, building on the work that the last council has done."
Ms Whittaker was the lead Greens candidate for Ward 3 in 2021. 2024 is shaping up to be a very different contest. "We weren't allowed to door-knock, we couldn't have how to vote cards, we would have candidate forums where no one would turn up because everyone was terrified for COVID." "I feel like that was a bit of a training ground and I'm more confident now and I have an idea of how you win a campaign which is to get out and talk to as many people as you can.
"Listen to people and then things they are telling you, put those ideas forward and fight for them."
Councillor Mithra Cox said while Council's ability to intervene in the housing market was limited the scheme had not yet had a significant impact on housing affordability.
"It's an absolute drop in the ocean," she said. "A couple of housing units is really not going to touch the sides, but when you think about how much it costs to buy a house, it's difficult to stretch that money to a lot of people."
Ms Cox said without significant government interventions, which were out of reach of local governments, this would continue to be the case.
"Massively increasing the amount of social housing in the system is one of the key things that would improve housing affordability," she said. "That said, it's outside of council's remit to do that."
Wollongong councillors have voted to stand with the victims of the war in Palestine.
Greens councillor Cath Blakey brought a motion before Wollongong City Council calling on councillors to reiterate the city's "commitment to the human rights of all people to live with freedom, safety and self-determination".
Cr Blakey also wanted council to acknowledge "the anguish and pain that the war in Palestine and Israel is causing to many people in the Wollongong community".
"I'd like to see this city join the diplomatic chorus for a ceasefire, oppose the killing and collective punishment of civilians and also join the chorus to release hostages and political prisoners and support that diverse community we have here in Wollongong," Cr Blakey said.
"This council was also addressed by community members last meeting with a compelling request that council request the federal government to vote for a ceasefire," Cr Blakey said. "Over the last nine weeks the Wollongong community has been rocked by the attacks by Hamas and the Israel Defence Force on civilians since the seventh of October.
"In Wollongong there have been nine weeks of actions ranging from prayer sessions, weekly protest rallies and marches [and] student strikes. These community events have included a wide range of participants with Palestinian and Arabic voices combined with Israeli and Jewish voices."
Cr Blakey's vote was passed unanimously.
Renewable energy sources like wind farms were "the quickest and easiest ways" to reduce emissions linked to electricity use, Wollongong councillor Mithra Cox said.
The Greens councillor was speaking on the decision to adopt a plan for Wollongong City Council to address the issue of climate change through to the end of the decade. The Climate Change Mitigation Plan 2023-30 followed on from the 2020-22 plan and sets a target of zero emissions for council operations by 2030 and net zero emissions for the city by 2050.
Cr Cox said those targets were dependent on the decarbonisation of the electricity grid. "It's the quickest and easiest way to make fast reductions but this is dependent on state and federal targets being met to reduce emissions from electricity."
"Then that is largely dependent on large-scale renewable being built for which there is a proposal for an offshore wind zone here in Wollongong. I'm really proud of the position and leadership council has shown in supporting that and I hope we're able to continue to advocate for that because without those sort of projects happening we've got no chance of meeting the big reductions in electricity decarbonisation."
Cr Cox also spoke of the problems around transportation emissions and, as the move to electric vehicles continued, that more charging options needed to be included in both residential spaces and council car parks.
"It's not going to be enough to have one or two in car parks, especially in multi-unit apartments where parking might be underground."
"It's really, really important that the electricity infrastructure is put in at the time those apartments are being built and that they are delivered to every single parking space, otherwise those car parks will be there for 100 years and won't have the infrastructure in place."
"Similarly our own parking stations, as we upgrade them, will need an electricity connection to every parking space."
Wollongong Greens Councillor Cath Blakey agreed with Ms Whittaker it was a "selfish act", and suggested more "creative means" could be used in the area to deter vandals.
"Like we saw with the Belmore Basin billboard of community artworks and photos of the tea trees, the Brighton Le Sands containers decorated in murals of native plants and wildlife, or the Noosa's billboards which have an image of a beautiful Rainbow Bee-eater alongside the words 'who destroyed my home'," Cr Blakey told the Mercury.
"These billboards and containers are large and onsite while newly planted trees regrow. There is also an opportunity for community education and artistic celebration of our native plants and wildlife."
Wollongong council to push for bikes to be allowed on footpaths and buses
Greens councillor Cath Blakey, said the changes would help get more people using bikes and were supported by the city's adopted cycling strategy.
Cr Blakey said she was in favour of all ages being able to ride on footpaths as it would especially allow more young people and women to feel safe while riding in busy areas without shared paths or cycling infrastructure. She said cyclists were allowed on footpaths in most states and territories, with NSW and Victoria the only two to outlaw riding on footpaths as a rule.
"I recognise some people are concerned about risks to pedestrians, and it is really important to give way to pedestrians, but this is mostly about formalising what already happens when people feel unsafe riding on the road anyway," she said.
"The problem with the rules now, is that police can apply them with discretion, which leads to some people being targeted and fined, while others are left alone."
She said allowing cyclists to ride of the footpath was just one of the improvements needed to encourage cycling, and needed to be combined with investment in dedicated cycling infrastructure.
"Personally, I don't actually like riding on the footpath - because you have to contend with driveways and other infrastructure - but there are some places you just don't feel safe riding on the road," she said. "This is not a perfect situation, and if we could retrofit cycleways on every single street I'd love to do that, but there's budget constraints and we can't change it overnight - so if we want people riding bikes now we need to change the rule."
Bike racks on buses makes public transport more viable: Cr Blakey said allowing bikes to be carried on buses would make public transport more viable for many people in Wollongong.
"I've ridden to work and then in the afternoon it's raining and you then have to leave your bike at work - so being able to have those mixed modes where you can put a bike on a train or on a bus would be really helpful," she said.
"In Wollongong, we've got lots of suburbs that are really hilly, so we can cycle down them but not necessarily back up - so having bike racks on buses would be great. "It would open up the catchment of people that are likely to catch the bus, because you can go so much further on a bike than you can walking, so there would be more people being able to get to the bus stop." She said bike racks could be installed as the bus fleet was upgraded, and would be able to be used on a first come, first served basis.
The Greens Mithra Cox said climate change was a mammoth task to solve and needed fast action, involving many forms of renewable energy if future generations were to have a livable planet.
"It's going to require a major economic and industrial transformation within our lifetimes and ideally within the next decade," she said.
"But the alternative does not bear thinking about. The sea level rise predictions for Wollongong, if we remain on the current emissions trajectory that we're currently on is three metres by 2100. My kids will still be alive."
She also took aim at the behaviour of people at the Thirroul forum saying she would not engage with people who "heckle an Aboriginal elder... shouts over the top of anyone with a different opinion, or sends fake information mocked up in Microsoft paint and claim it as evidence".
"If you don't care about the impacts of climate change on my generation and the generations to come, then don't expect me to engage on a deep level," she said.
The council had an important role to play in reducing community emissions, Cr Mithra Cox said, through empowering people rather than telling them what to do.
"There is a really big role for council in ensuring that we can have all-electric homes, making sure that the electricity connections that they have in the kitchens are good enough that they have induction stoves," Cr Cox said.
"It's also ensuring that new buildings, particularly apartments, have electricity in the car parks in basements should people want to switch to electric vehicles.
"When you build an apartment, it's going to be there for the next 50, 70 or 80 years. The decisions we're going to be making are going to be with us for a long time."
Cr Cox also noted that the Whyte's Gully tip was the biggest source of the council emissions and that she didn't feel they could capture 100 per cent of them by 2030.