Drum Theatre building

1994-2019: 25 Years of Greater Dandenong

2019 marked 25 years since the Victorian Local Government Board (under the Kennett Government) instigated Council amalgamations throughout Victoria. These changes aimed to promote Council reform by realigning municipal boundaries to achieve greater efficiencies. This was the biggest change to local government in Victoria’s history.

In 2019, we reflected on and celebrated what Council and our local community has achieved in those 25 years through the commissioning of the publication ‘City of Opportunity: The Making of the City of Greater Dandenong.

Shifting boundaries

In this area, the changes affected the former councils of the City of Springvale, City of Dandenong, City of Berwick, Shire of Pakenham and the City of Cranbourne.

The City of Springvale supported the retention of existing boundaries where possible and the non-splitting of communities of interest.  Many residents had concerns regarding the retention of community services including the library service if an amalgamation was to occur.

The City of Dandenong proposed the creation of a Dandenong super city including most of Springvale, and parts of Berwick and Cranbourne with Dandenong as the future base for council.

From 1993 formal and informal discussions about the changes to local government took place and on 15 December 1994, most of the former City of Dandenong, City of Springvale, as well as small parts of the former City of Berwick and City of  Cranbourne were proclaimed the 'City of Greater Dandenong' by Order of the Governor in Council.

Selecting a name

In October 1994, the first Local Government Board proposal was that the five Councils merge into three and were to be named Heatherton, Casey and Cardinia.

The name "Heatherton" is believed to have been not selected because it duplicated an existing suburb name. Residents in Springvale suggested that an alternative name of the ‘City of Sandown’ be considered.

The City of Greater Dandenong was chosen because Dandenong was already recognised as a regional hub for services and “forerunner in industrial and economic growth.”
Saying farewell

On 4 December 1994, the City of Springvale held a closing ceremony. This included a tree planting ceremony in Memorial Drive, Noble Park, which recognised the contribution of all Councillors over the 39 years of the City of Springvale. A thanksgiving church service, a festival in Braeside park and a reconciliation ceremony with the Aboriginal community were also part of the ceremony.

The last serving mayors of the former Councils affected by the amalgamation were:

  • City of Dandenong: Mayor David Kelly
  • City of Springvale; Mayor Eric Mitchell
  • City of Berwick: Mayor Tom Gyles
  • Shire of Pakenham: Shire President Keith Ewenson
  • City of Cranbourne: Mayor Peter Bottomley

Managing the new municipality

Commissioners Ian Cathie, John Nixon and Margaret Nicholls were appointed to manage the City of Greater Dandenong between 1994-1997. The Acting CEO was Warwick Heine.

The new council was governed from the former City of Springvale offices.

As a result of amalgamation, the organisational restructure lead  to a dramatic reduction in Council's workforce, consolidation of the amalgamated Council records and assets, the implementation of the competitive tendering process and the consolidation of sister city relationships.

In February 1995, Commissioner Cathie reported that "Since the amalgamation the new city had saved between $3-$4 million through senior management restructure and the expected sale of surplus council equipment…"

The City of Greater Dandenong was only one of 12 councils to achieve cuts in expenditure of more than 20 per cent among the Melbourne councils.

The commissioners acted as administrators until 1997 when the first City of Greater Dandenong Council was elected. Many former City of Dandenong and City of Springvale Councillors were elected to the new Council.

City of Opportunity: the Making of the City of Greater Dandenong’ 25th anniversary publication

In 2018 Council’s Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee proposed the commissioning of a publication to celebrate the first 25 years of City of Greater Dandenong.

In 2019 Council appointed publisher Slattery Media and author Martin Curtis to create City of Opportunity – The Making of the City of Greater Dandenong. 

The book reflects on our most defining moments since Council amalgamations took place 25 years ago and acknowledges the people who have helped shape our city during this time.

The publication is available to purchase and borrow from Springvale and Dandenong libraries.

Proceeds from the sales will be distributed to Dandenong and District and Springvale and District historical societies for them to continue their valuable work in capturing our region’s history. 

For further information regarding purchases please contact our Cultural Heritage team on culturalheritage@cgd.vic.gov.au or 8571 1000.