About Me

I was born in Swan Hill to Tori & Rosie Ficarra (nee Woodburn) on 22nd January 1980.

Tori's parents arrived from Italy in the 40's & 50's, whilst Rosie's family have deep roots in the area spanning back generations.

Rosie's Mum Joyce attended the Natya school and grew up in the Boundary Bend area, and was the regions only A Grade netball umpire for quite some time.  It was hoped one of the Ficarra girls would follow in her netball shoes, but as time goes on, the game gets faster and we get older,  that looks unlikely.

I married Luke Benham, a Robinvale local in 2017 and we now reside on an almond orchard at Bannerton with our two boys.

Being of Generation X,  I'm well aware of the need that the harder you work the luckier you seem to get, and work hard I certainly do, and have done all of my life.

 

Starting from working on the stone fruit block with my Dad, to being one of the first McDonalds crew when it opened in Swan Hill in 1995, so working for Ace Radio from 1997, and returning a couple of times, to establishing my own start-up business almost ten years ago which I still operate and service many local businesses.

  

I know the meaning of hard work, and how hard things can be on the land and in business.  I also know the reward and satisfaction that comes with it though and like to celebrate the small wins.

Having sentimental and emotional attachment to the area makes me incredibly passionate about it.

I recognise the importance of the smaller communities throughout the municipality and want to see them not just survive,  but thrive once again.

I believe it's time for some very significant future planning, and not just in terms of regional development,  but in development of our infrastructure & housing so we are able to keep feeding the world.

We need a plan for our roads, through the municipality, particularly in the Robinvale Irrigation District and Woorinen, which are not keeping up with our booming agricultural industry.  Our trucks are getting bigger and the roads are staying the same size.  This will obviously take great Federal and State investment,  but with excellent working relationships in both areas already, these will be easy conversations to start.

The Swan Hill region also needs to become part of the decentralisation conversation.  When large companies talk about decentralising, we need that conversation to include centres other than Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong.  Sure, geography isn't on our side,  but as the pandemic has shown us,  geography is very quickly becoming irrelevant.  What isn't irrelevant though is the lack of suitable housing from low cost worker accomodation to executive style housing to accomodate professionals and their families to the area.

This of course will lead me to a conversation about planning schemes, rezoning and rural lifestyle living but that could have us talking for hours.

From Woorinen, now of Robinvale,  for the development of the whole Swan Hill & Robinvale Region.

- Councillor Jade Benham

My Latest Projects

 
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THE VALE PODCAST

I am a firm believer that information is power, but with power comes great responsibility.

Too much information can be confusing and communication is absolutely vital,  especially in the era we now live in.

 

The internet and social media can be incredibly useful but also problematic for communication at times,  however, in the last ten years podcasting has made conversational communication a lot easier and allowed businesses, personalities, politicians and everyday people to have important conversations that you can listen in on and gain information straight from the horses mouth so to speak.

My digital media business has expanded to create and produce a podcast to fill a broadcast media gap in the Robinvale area.

The Vale Podcast is local people, talking about local issues, local news and local sport.

We even have leaders of non-English speaking sections of the community coming in to do local news and information in language which has been received extremely well.

 

Learn more and listen here.

The Vale Podcast is a Clear Eyes Media production.

42K FOR 42K - RUN FOR ROBINVALE

In the last 20 years, humans as a whole have made great progress is address mental illness as an actual illness and treating it as such,  but we have a long way to go.

Lived experience has made advocacy and finding practical solutions in smaller communities a real individual passion of mine, so when my husband also said he wanted to make a real, practical change on the ground in Robinvale, we worked together to launch the 42K for 42K project.

This project has seen Luke, go from the couch to training for a marathon to raise $1,000 per kilometre.

This $42,000 will facilitate a free, weekly, walk-in mental health clinic at Robinvale District Health Services. 

On of those weekly clinics per month will be dedicated to young people, under 25.

 

Find out more about 42K for 42K here.