• August 19, 2013

Life + Career + Love with

Angela Altair


“As I get older, I increasingly think, what would mother do? What would mother say?” -Hobsons Bay Mayor, Angela Altair.

_Some people just have it. You know when you meet them, their infectious enthusiasm and zest for life captures your attention. It’s hard to pinpoint the correct  word to explain the feeling but it’s something along the lines of charisma, an aura of personality that draws people in and holds their rapt attention. From the first handshake, Hobsons Bay Mayor, Angela Altair exudes a warm, immediately personable nature, it almost feels like you could have known her for quite some time rather than a mere 40 minutes. She kindly took time out of her hectic schedule and stepped into Compton Green’s Williamstown office for a coffee and chat where we touched on every subject imaginable: such as her successful career as a journo, favourite recipe, the love of her life, her favourite colour, her mother.  The  list goes on as no topic was off the chart.

At the beginning of our catch up, Angela is immediately transfixed by our sleek new office and when asked the question, five words to describe yourself, her response comes as no surprise.  “I’m expressive, creative, ethnic, extrovert, kind and I must throw in I absolutely adore the arts. Art is the soul of people, right now we are in a room of art, this is just so attractive! Art is not just pictures on the wall, it’s singing and everything,” she said.

Angela’s links to the Western Suburbs began when she arrived by ship from Malta and caught the ferry across to Newport. She grew up in Sunshine and years later her 92 year-old mother – whom she refers to as her ‘role model’ – still lives in her childhood home, a place filled with happy memories. “My mother is a woman of great ethics, integrity and wisdom. As I get older, I increasingly think, what would mother do? What would mother say? Then something happens and you realise it’s what your mother predicted all along and I think to myself, she is definitely no fool. Every day she surprises me and reminds me of how insightful she is. She left school at 10 yet is so wise. My mother is a woman of the world.”

With a love for people, politics and words, Angela went on to be a successful journalist in her 20’s.  She met her husband, Ron, as a cadet on the Footscray Mail.  In 1981, in partnership with two Fairfax colleagues, they established their own suburban newspaper group, The Western Times, purchased by Leader in 2006.After three decades in newspapers, Ron retrained as a yoga teacher and runs weekly classes at Williamstown Yoga Centre in Douglas Parade.

So how did she fall into politics? “Well, I literally did fall into it! Someone suggested it to me and I was sceptical at first because at the time my kids were doing their VCE. I have three children and one day my beautiful boy who was only in high school at the time said in the most encouraging voice, go for it Mum and with those words, I went for it. That’s what I’ve learnt in life, some opportunities may never come again. This is my philosophy in life, you must stay interested, curious and involved in different things. Keep your mind open to new possibilities, it’s the best secret to staying happy.”

Angela has been a Councillor at Hobsons Bay Council for 14 years and was elected for the fifth straight term last October. She is now serving her second term as Mayor and in 2002 was Australia’s first Maltese female mayor of a municipality. “I’ve learnt so much that’s the beauty of it; and I’ve met the most amazing people. My highlight in the first term was unveiling an art trail as part of my mayoral program: a series of historic markers located all along our foreshore from the bottom of North Road right along The Strand and Nelson Place and the beaches all the way to Truganina wetlands. The timber marker was my idea and I believe they enhance all of the rich history of  Williamstown and Hobsons Bay.”

So when Angela isn’t running around the Western Suburbs attending events and being involved in a number of committees (she is the founding president of the Williamstown Literary Festival), how does she unwind? “I adore reading of course. My favourite book is Wuthering Heights. I also love opera and all music. I’m a huge social media nut, I Tweet, I’m on Facebook and have my own blog. It’s a great way to communicate.”

Angela’s passion to impart her knowledge and share her life experience can be summed up with one of her favourite quotes:  “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”