FORMER government councillor and Capella local Gai Sypher would dedicate herself to fostering inclusive and welcoming communities if elected to the Central Highlands Regional Council.
Ms Syper said local governments do more than just "roads, rates and rubbish" by also delivering services and programs that strengthened community wellbeing.
"They also play a role in advocating in partnership with communities for funding and services provided by other levels of government," she said.
Ms Sypher, who was a councillor between 2012 and 2016, said she would also be keen to restrain council debt which could negatively affect growth.
"The structure of our economy is increasingly being challenged by national and international forces. Our survival as prosperous and self-reliant communities is under threat, and we must discover new opportunities for growth. We must create an environment for small to medium businesses to flourish, innovate and trade internationally."
Ms Sypher said she was committed to focussing on the region's ageing population, and age care and community services, including addressing skill shortages.
"As a councillor, I will focus my energy on increasing allied health service particularly age care and community services. Over the past year, through CQUniversity, I have developed a health hub model that will deliver training packages to address the skill shortages in the health and community sectors."
Ms Sypher said it was important to bring people back to rural Australia, "because if we don't do that, we won't have any of these communities. They're all going to become ghost towns."
"I want to focus on the growth of the community so people can take responsibility for that and remain or return to our community.
"People are no longer making rural Australia their homes, but Australia won't survive if we're all gong to congregate on the coast."
She said it was important council did not become centralised in Emerald.
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