Rei of sunshine for East Melbourne and South Yarra

Community pride and connection is the name of the game in the communities of East Melbourne and South Yarra, which are proudly cared for by neighbourhood partner Rei Chin. 

Rei began her career as a teacher, working with people from migrant and refugee backgrounds who were on journeys to build their sense of belonging in their new home.

She progressed into working in community development at a grassroots not-for-profit organisation, where she often worked in partnership with a local council.

After observing the many ways councils can work with communities to help strengthen connections and enable community-led actions, she became interested in local government.

She is now one of seven neighbourhood partners supporting communities across the City of Melbourne municipality.

‘I love that I get to work with a team of other community development professionals who have come to their roles from very diverse professional backgrounds,’ Rei said.

‘I get to learn from so many people who have vastly different experience than me.’

About our neighbourhood model

We’re working to better understand and respond to community needs in a highly localised way through a new neighbourhood model.

Led by passionate neighbourhood partners, the model aims to ‘connect the dots’ between the City of Melbourne, residents and businesses, to empower local people, build community capacity and guide city projects.

To find out more and have your say on what matters to you in your local area, visit Participate Melbourne.

Rei works closely with the communities of East Melbourne and South Yarra to build connectivity and help make local people’s visions for their neighbourhoods a reality.

‘East Melbourne and South Yarra are both very established neighbourhoods that take pride in their unique community identity and care deeply for their environment,’ Rei said.

‘East Melbourne has a village-like atmosphere where people feel that they can rely on their neighbours, and South Yarra takes pride in the beautiful Domain Parklands and Fawkner Park.’

‘I think people sometimes get the impression that East Melbourne and South Yarra are quiet neighbourhoods where not much happens, but in reality there are many diverse community activities happening already.

‘There are families who have been living in the neighbourhoods for generations, and young professionals and students who enjoy the serenity while being close to the surrounding busy areas.

‘There are also many a range of businesses that have been serving local people for decades and bringing visitors into the neighbourhoods.

‘Both neighbourhoods attract many frequent visitors who feel strongly connected to the gardens and parks.’

While all of our neighbourhood partners develop a strong affinity with their ‘patch’, the whole team is dedicated to revealing and implementing the community’s vision, rather than their own.

‘A neighbourhood partner’s role is to gain a strong understanding of their neighbourhood’s strengths and priorities to inform City of Melbourne’s work and to support community-led initiatives and projects,’ Rei said.

‘Our team’s work enables more community-led projects to flourish, through community capability and capacity building.

‘It also enables the organisation to work with the neighbourhoods more closely to ensure that decisions are well communicated to the community and, wherever possible, decisions are made with strong community input.

‘There is a wealth of talent, knowledge and passion among the East Melbourne and South Yarra communities, so there is a lot of potential for nuanced and tailored community-led projects to emerge.’

East Melbourne and South Yarra both have resident groups led by locals who are dedicated to fostering community connectivity and ensuring the unique character and heritage of the local area is protected.

Rei has been working on an extensive community consultation project to collect local feedback to help inform neighbourhood plans with unique priorities for each area.

‘In East Melbourne, community members have said that they would like to see more community activities, events and initiatives in their local area where people of all backgrounds can come together to build meaningful connections,’ Rei said.

‘South Yarra community members also envision a community that is more connected, with active community and green spaces where people meet to socialise and engage in programs that look after people’s health and wellbeing.

‘Both neighbourhoods want to create safe, inclusive, and sustainable communities that support their neighbours and local businesses to thrive.’

Visit Meet Your Neighbourhood Partners to hear from partners for other local suburbs.

A group of people smiling on a city street

Neighbourhood partners outside Melbourne Town Hall