Monthly Archives: November 2017

Black Saturday heroes recognised

On Saturday February 7, 2009, CFA members around the state were poised for the worst fire danger day in living memory, following sustained extreme temperatures and a forecast of 50 degrees with strong northerly winds — in short, a recipe for a disaster.

Crews gathered in fire stations across Victoria, including those around Warrandyte.

The events of Black Saturday are well known, and have almost passed into the annals of history.

However, one group of volunteer firefighters who put their lives on the line to battle the inferno that erupted that day have had to wait until now to receive the recognition they greatly deserve.

Some nine years later, the members of South Warrandyte Fire Brigade have received their National Emergency Medal, to honour the service they gave to the community on Black Saturday.

The National Emergency Medal was first issued in 2012 and was struck to recognise “sustained service during specified dates in specified places in response to nationally-significant emergencies within Australia; or to other persons who rendered significant service in response to such emergencies”.

Those events included the Black Saturday bushfires, the 2009/10 Queensland Floods and Cyclone Yasi. In a presentation at the South Warrandyte Fire Station in early October, 11 members of the South Warrandyte Fire Brigade received the National Emergency Medal in front of their families and CFA colleagues.

 

Lieutenant Warren Aikman

Responded to St Andrews and subsequently to Kinglake on Black Saturday and then responded to events in St Andrews during the aftermath for a total of 12 days service during the period.

Firefighter Alan Bastow

Responded to Kinglake on Black Saturday with a total of eight days service during the period.

Firefighter Patricia Cridland

Responded to Kinglake on Black Saturday and then responded to events in St Andrews in the aftermath for a total of nine days service during the period.

Firefighter Aaron Farr (now Captain of Wonga Park)

Responded to Kinglake on Black Saturday and then to events in St Andrews during the aftermath of Black Saturday for a total of 21 days service during the period.

Firefighter Gerard Fitzpatrick

Responded to events in Bunyip and Drouin on Black Saturday and to events in St Andrews in the aftermath for a total of 12 days service during the period.

Firefighter Chris Haggerty

At the request of Woori Yallock Captain Bendigo Bank released Chris to fulfil Communications support at Woori Yallock ICC. Chris fulfilled his Communications Support role during the evenings while still carrying out his work for the bank in the relief centres during the day, with a total of seven days service during the period.

Firefighter Andrew Hedderwick

Responded to St Andrews and subsequently to Kinglake on Black Saturday and then responded to events in St Andrews during the aftermath for a total of eight days service during the period.

Communications Officer Graham Moulden

Responded to Kinglake on Black Saturday and then responded to events in St Andrews during the aftermath for a total of 15 days service during the period.

Firefighter Kristian Nielsen

Responded to St Andrews and subsequently to Kinglake on Black Saturday and then responded to events in St Andrews during the aftermath for a total of 20 days service during the period.

Firefighter Megan Perry

Radio Operator at Kangaroo Ground Incident Control Centre during Black Saturday and the days that followed for a total of seven days service during the period.

Firefighter Lou Simonis

Operations Officer at Kangaroo Ground Incident Control Centre during Black Saturday and the days that followed for a total of nine days service during the period.

Lieutenant Warren Aikman told the gathering of the role that brigade members performed during the fires:

On Saturday February 7, 2009, South Warrandyte were at the station early in readiness for an extreme fire danger day, assigned to multiple locations we had members manning the ICC at Kangaroo Ground in management and radio operator roles, another member on Pumper Tanker Strike Team 1306 deployed to Bunyip and Drouin where significant fire suppression and asset protection activities were carried out throughout the day and night.

In addition, our members were assigned to the brigade nominated Strike Team 1364 on multiple appliances including the Warrandyte FCV and the Strike Team Leaders vehicle, North Warrandyte Tanker and of course our own Tanker.

Importantly we also had the crew in station fulfilling vital roles of protecting our own local communities and responding to incidents in our own assignment area.

We also had an ex-member at that time (now a current member) providing support to the Woori Yallock ICC.

This was a team effort by our members across many parts of the organisation. Strike Team 1364 was responded to form up at Hurstbridge fire station in readiness for deployment to St Andrews where a major spot fire from the main Kilmore fire had started, crews were deployed on Jacksons Road at approximately 4:30pm and commenced fire suppression activities and asset protection, at the time of the severe change in the weather conditions, crews moved to a safe zone as the fire intensified and the fire front moved through.

Once the front had passed, crews of ST1364 were re-deployed via the Whittlesea staging area where they were the first team to enter into the devastation of Kinglake.

Crews were assigned to fire suppression and asset protection in an attempt to save lives and property.

The South Warrandyte Tanker crew was specifically assigned to the Kinglake Primary School where a large number of residents were taking refuge.

The crew set up there for the night to ensure the facility remained defendable and residents were assured of their safety.

The morning of the 8th at around 6am first responding crews were relieved by our changeover crew who had already been up much of the night having been faced with the logistic challenges of getting into the fire zone.

Those crews commenced the painstaking and heart-wrenching task of recovery whilst also maintaining fire suppression activities.

During the ensuing days crews continued to be responded to local incidents in addition to responses back to Kinglake and Christmas Hills, while members also played significant leadership roles in the recovery and rehabilitation program in the Kinglake complex.

During this time, our members at the ICCs also continued to carry out important roles in supporting and co-ordinating the crews on the fire ground and much more.

Following Black Saturday, South Warrandyte members along with other Warrandyte brigades also took on the 24/7 manning and operations of the St Andrews Fire Station, this was done to allow their members impacted by the fires to go off-line and attend to their personal needs and recovery.

Those crews manning the station continued to conduct fire suppression, containment and recovery operations. St Andrews Captain, Helen Kenney acknowledged the positive impact of these crews and relief and support they provided to her members.

“Black Saturday was an unprecedented event which had significant impact in so many ways on CFA members and their families and communities we protect, on behalf of the members receiving the medal today I would like to thank the CFA and Government House for recognising the members for their commitment to protecting our communities during the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

I also pay our respects to the 173 people who lost their lives in this devastating event.

These well-deserved medals may have been a long time coming, however the depth of gratitude towards these Black Saturday heroes is no less than it was nine years ago.

Current Brigade Secretary Kim Dixon has worked for over twelve months to organise the presentation to formally recognise the service and commitment of the South Warrandyte firefighters. Readers of the Diary should be mindful that the devastation of Kinglake could very easily have played out in our own town, and remain vigilant and be thankful for the volunteers that strive tirelessly to protect us from nature’s wrath.

 

Pigeon Bank application batted back to VCAT

THE SUPREME Court has dismissed the 2 Pigeon Bank Road case meaning it will now go to VCAT in January for a full hearing.

As reported in last month’s Diary, the case was originally heard on September 12 but Justice Kevin Bell reserved his decision until November 2.

Costs of the case are to be paid by the applicant, Phillip Mannerheim Holdings Pty Ltd. In a complicated legal case, which hinged on whether an email to Nillumbik Shire Council sent by neighbour Kim Cope was an objection or a submission; the court determined Mr Cope’s “polite” email represented an “expression of opposition” to the grant of the permit, and clarified that as being “a term of description ex post facto not a condition of eligibility a priori” which means Mr Cope’s email met all the requirements of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 for lodging an objection, and that VCAT’s earlier decision to continue with the case was valid.

Mr Cope was in attendance and spoke to the Diary following the decision.

“We are very happy with this judgment which enables us to move forward from here in the knowledge that the previous VCAT decisions were sound”.

Phillip Mannerheim, the applicant, whose planning application had been approved by Nillumbik Shire Council with conditions before the objectors took the case to VCAT, told the Diary “whilst disappointed by the Court’s decision, I will now be preparing for the Tribunal hearing in January next year.

“Council will be supporting my dwelling proposal, which is consistent with what has occurred on all of the surrounding lots (including on lots owned by people who oppose it) but will be more sensitively designed to the landscape and safer in terms of bushfire risks”.

The matter will now return to VCAT for a full hearing commencing on January 22 and set down for four days. If the VCAT hearing goes ahead in January, the Diary will report on the VCAT case in the February edition.

2 Pigeon Bank timeline up to this point

April: Planning application approved by Nillumbik, neighbour Kim Cope lodges a case with VCAT.

May: Original Objector Kim Cope and a collection of neighbours and community groups are allowed to for the coalition of objectors. Communityy groups involved in this coalition are the Warrandyte Community Association, Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group

July: After VCAT decide to go to Tribunal after the Practice Day Hearing, planning applicant Phillip Mannerheim takes VCAT’s decision to the Supreme Court (Warrandyte Diary July 2017, page 4)

October: Pigeon Bank has its day in court, the judge reserves his decision (Warrandyte Diary October 2017, page 5)

Community reaction

THE PLANNING application battle over 2 Pigeon Bank Road has attracted support from community groups on both sides of the arguement. In support of Kim Cope, a coalition of objectors approved by VCAT at the practice day hearing earlier in the year which includes the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA).

Not only did the WCA represent the coalition at the Supreme Court hearing but also sought representation for the coalition from not-for-profit environmental justice organisation Environmental Justice Australia (EJA).

Following the decision by Justice Kevin Bell, Nillumbik Pro Active Landowners (PALs) have released a statement in support of Phillip Mannerheim’s application to build on his land and their reaction to the Supreme Court decision.

Below are statements from groups on both sides of the argument.

 

 

Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) and Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) joint statement in reaction to the Supreme Court decision

 

The Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) welcomes the Supreme Court’s confirmation that everyday people can object to inappropriate developments in their community without their objections needing to pass specific legalistic hurdles,” said WCA spokesperson Jonathan Upson.

“Now that the Supreme Court has enabled the VCAT appeal to proceed, the WCA and other parties look forward to the opportunity to argue that clear-felling 740 trees to build one house on a ridgeline with nice views directly contradicts the Nillumbik and State Government planning schemes and requirements.

“The developer’s lawyers made it clear that if we were to fight this case and lose, they would seek an order for their legal costs against us. Therefore, I would like to acknowledge the courage of the three Community Associations – the WCA, Friends of Nillumbik and Green Wedge Protection Group – and several individuals who were parties to this case.

“The WCA, on behalf of the other parties, would like to sincerely thank Environmental Justice Australia for their invaluable assistance in prosecuting the Supreme Court case on our behalf.”

Environmental Justice Australia said the decision affirmed the importance of community participation in planning.

“Justice Bell’s decision represents a victory for common sense and fairness,” said Environmental Justice Australia CEO Brendan Sydes.

“The court’s decision emphasises the importance of minimising technicality and the value of community participation in our planning system.

“EJA is pleased to have been able to support the community in ensuring they can have a say about the important planning and environment issues raised by this permit application.”

 

Nillumbik Pro Active Landowners (PALs) statement in support of Phillip Mannerheim and in reaction to the Supreme Court decision

 

NILLUMBIK PALs welcomes the decision of the Victorian Supreme Court as it provides clarity in relation to the Mannerheim application to Council.

The Supreme Court action was purely related to a legal interpretation of a point of law.

It was not a result that confirmed a person’s right to object.

This was never an action that challenged that basic right. Further, it was not a reference to, or consideration of, the merits of the application. The merits will be determined by VCAT in January 2018.

PALs is conducting an online petition in support of Mr. Mannerheim’s right to build his home. To date this petition has 938 signatures.

This represents an incredible level of local support and as usual, sits in stark contrast to the mere handful that object.

“Objectors” now attached to the application were a result of implanted confected outrage based on highly emotive and misleading information.

Having completed their own buildings, they now oppose Mr. Mannerheim wishing to do the same, the hypocrisy is breathtaking.

PALs strongly support the Mannerheim application and will provide every possible assistance to ensure that this environmentally conscious home can be built delivering a superior end result than the existing vacant site.

November 2017

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