Monthly Archives: March 2019

New kids’ courts for South Warrandyte

WORLD NUMBER One wheelchair tennis player, Dylan Alcott had a hit-up with the kids’ at the South Warrandyte Tennis courts in February.

He was there to present a cheque from the ANZ Bank to the Warrandyte Tennis Club to enable them to install five purpose-built kids courts.

The South Warrandyte annex of the Warrandyte Tennis Club will convert two of their full-size tennis courts into two “Red Ball” courts, which are 1/4-size courts, and three 3/4-size “Orange Ball” courts.

The ANZ Tennis Hot Shots program allows kids to gain tennis skills and technique on smaller courts before having to develop the power to hit on the full size courts.

The low compression balls make the game fun and accessible for kids as young as three.

Warrandyte Tennis Club head coach Craig Haslam says they applied for the grant because the facility has been under-utilised, but with the renovation they will be able to participate in junior inter-club competitions.

“I am hoping that a lot of kids from all around the area will be able to play their matches here — tournaments too,” Craig said.

While this does remove two of the full-size courts from the Club’s fixture, there will still be eight adults’ courts available across the club’s two sites.

Dylan Alcott told the Diary he was “super-pumped” to come out to Warrandyte because he said it is important to support the next generation of young tennis players.

“You might not win the Australian Open, but tennis is such a great sport — it keeps you fit, and puts a smile on your face,” he said.

Along with the cheque, the club received merchandise, equipment, signage and access to a local ANZ specialist.

Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said: “We are grateful for ANZ’s ongoing support of tennis and the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots program, and their commitment to growing the game from the grassroots level up.

“We’re excited for South Warrandyte Tennis Club and we know they will make the most of this wonderful opportunity.”

The grant will be supplemented by additional funding from Manningham Council.

ANZ Tennis Hot Shots is Tennis Australia’s official development program with a record 543,850 children between three and 12 years of age playing ANZ Tennis Hot Shots in 2017/18.

ANZ Tennis Hot Shots use smaller courts, lighter racquets, lower nets and low compression balls making it suitable for children of all abilities.

Defib your community

Photo: DEE DICKSON

WARRANDYTE Community Bank Branch has recently purchased seven new automatic external defibrillators which have been installed throughout the greater Warrandyte area.

The defibrillators, which were purchased as part of the bank’s Defib Your Community program, were part of a $20,000 contribution by the local branch.

Branch Chair Aaron Farr said the defibrillators were one of the most important investments the bank has ever put into the community.

“Over the next 20 years, if one of our new defibrillators can be used to save one life, it will be worth all the money we’ve invested”.

Community liaison officer Dee Dickson said the program was something the bank was very passionate about.

“The directors are volunteers on the Board because they believe in community and want the best outcomes for our community.

“As soon as they heard about the program, they unanimously said ‘we’re in, let’s do it’.”

Ambulance Victoria figures show approximately 6,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital each year in Victoria.

The new defibrillators, which are fixed externally to buildings throughout the community, are accessible 24/7 and are designed to assist in these exact emergency scenarios.

Advanced Life Support Paramedic Bec Hodgson said with greater access to a defibrillator in the community, chances of surviving a cardiac arrest are greatly increased.

“The management of a patient between the time of collapse and the arrival of an ambulance is vital.

“Survival rates nearly double when a defibrillator has been used prior to paramedic arrival,” she said.

While most businesses will have a defibrillator, it may only be available during business hours, these new externally mounted units give people a chance when a cardiac arrest occurs outside of business hours — like on a Monday.

“If you’re going for a 7am walk along the river, they’re not available.

“Hopefully the community doesn’t need them, but these new external defibrillators are an insurance policy in case they do.”

As well as providing a priceless benefit to the community, the new defibrillators will relieve some of the stress for emergency services workers and volunteers, who respond to these calls.

“They may make the difference between a patient still being in cardiac arrest or having come out of it when the ambulance arrives,” said Ms Hodgson.

Aside from funding the program, the bank is also working with emergency services organisations to encourage those members of the community who already have defibrillators to register them with Ambulance Victoria.

The more defibrillators which are registered means an Emergency Services Telecommunication Agency worker can direct someone calling 000 to the nearest unit, potentially saving someone’s life.

“There’s no point in someone calling 000 and the operator not knowing there is a defibrillator two doors down because it’s not registered,” said Mr Farr.

The defibrillators were purchased through non-for-profit organisation Defib For Life, which also provides on-going support for the machines, including regular checks and training.

The bank will be working with Defib For Life to organise training sessions in the coming months for those interested in building confidence with the defibrillators.

Although proper training on how to use one of these units will mean they are used properly, and promptly during an emergency, Ms Hodgson says they are also designed so anyone can assist someone suffering from a cardiac arrest.

“The unit will talk you through what you need to do in simple steps and you will have the support of the 000 call taker also helping you through the process”.

Mr Farr said the training will be directed at building confidence with the machines.

“If you’re more confident in using something, you’re more likely to pick it up and use it.

“When people actually feel confident in using it, it empowers them to say, ‘I know how to make a difference myself’.

“So, it’s no longer just this daunting box on the side of the wall,” he said.

Warrandyte Community Bank will continue to fund the Defib Your Community program, and have two more defibrillators already lined up.

“We’re going to keep rolling them out until you can’t go 10 minutes without seeing one,” said Ms Dickson.

“By us dotting them around the community, with some even only 200 metres apart, we’re really increasing the outcomes for members of our community if something drastic happens.”

Ms Dickson reminds us that it is the profits gained from banking with Warrandyte Community Bank which goes towards funding projects like this and through locals and businesses banking locally, they can be proud knowing their money is being reinvested in the health of their local community.

“People are making a difference just by banking here — it’s so simple,” she said.

Members of the community with defibrillators can register them with Ambulance Victoria via www.reigstermyaed.ambulance.vic.gov.au or call 1800 233 734.

Anyone wishing to participate in training with the defibrillators can contact Dee Dickson via

community@warrandytecb.com.au

Birrarung stories: Just how long have aboriginal people been here?

BEFORE THE 1940s it was thought that the arrival of Aboriginal people in Australia only dated back 2,000 years.

In 1940 this arrival date was dramatically extended when the Keilor skull was unearthed and dated at nearly 15,000 years.

However the skull was in the upper sedimentary levels of the Maribyrnong River Gorge and by 1971, radiocarbon dating had pushed the date of the lower sedimentary layers back to 31,000 years.

In every decade since, the date of human occupation of Australia has inexorably marched backward as new scientific techniques have been developed.

The problem though, is that scientists get attached to the theories and techniques of their own particular discipline.

Certain ideas get entrenched with religious conviction in the scientific community and then in the general public.

For instance the technique of radiocarbon dating originally had a validity level of only 40,000 years, but with technological advancement is now 50.000 years.

That is, the radiation decay in a C14 molecule is such that every 5,730 years its radioactivity decreases by half.

Ultimately you get to a situation when a half of stuff all is still stuff all.

This means that the oldest artefact measured by radiocarbon dating always came out at 40,000 years, regardless of the fact that it might have been 80,000 years or even 180,000 years.

So from this imprecise scientific method, a myth developed that Aboriginal people have been in Australia for 40,000 years.

This is still the most quoted figure, even by Aboriginal people.

The point is, if you ask the question ‘Well, if Aboriginal people arrived here 40,000 or even 50,000 years ago, how did they get here?’

The obvious answer is: ‘They arrived by boat during an ice age when the sea levels were lower.’

Well, if that is right then the sea levels were right for migration into Australia around 70,000 years ago.

This is an interesting figure because about 75,000 years ago Mount Toba, a volcano in Sumatra erupted.

It was a catastrophic event that almost wiped out life in the Northern Hemisphere.

The toxic pollution would have been a great motivator to migrate southward into Australia, which was not affected.

However an arrival date in Australia of 70,000 to 75,000 years ago conflicts with the popular ‘African Eve’ theory.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) research, which traces ancestry through the female line, puts migration out of Africa at 60,000 years ago.

The big problem with such research is that every time a woman has no daughters, her genetic history disappears, because her sons cannot pass on her mtDNA.

This means that the age of African Eve is constantly moving forward as female genetic history disappears. The same flaw also applies to male Y chromosome dating.

New research in fact now shows that there was indeed migration into Australia around 75,000 years ago.

However there is also mounting evidence that Aboriginal people were already here.

Another window for migration at the time of low sea levels occurred about 105,000 years ago, but various new techniques put the antiquity of Aboriginal occupation significantly longer than even this.

In 1985 Australian palaeontologist Gurdip Singh drilled a 72 metre core sample at Lake George in NSW and analysed the pollen and charcoal layers.

He found that the charcoal deposits at a certain point became so regular, that it could only be explained by deliberate human activity.

In other words it was due to Aboriginal firestick farming.

Singh estimated this date as 120,000 years ago, and created a storm of controversy amongst conservatively minded academics.

However his findings were replicated by core samples in North Queensland which pushed the date back to 140,000 years ago.

Since then, thermoluminescence techniques have pushed the date of ochre paintings at Kakadu back to 150,000 years ago.

This is a really interesting coincidence of dates, because at this time there was a 20,000 year window of opportunity for migration into Australia, due to the lower sea levels of an ice age.

So it now seems likely that Aboriginal people first migrated here at least 150,000 years ago.

As marsupial animals cannot communicate diseases to humans they found themselves in a disease free environment, and apart from the marsupial lion (the Dooligar), they had no predatory competitors.

So within 10,000 years of arrival, Australia was fully colonised and Aboriginal people had begun systematically managing the environment by fire.

However you will still see the culturally blind assumption in academic texts that Aboriginals were just using fire to hunt animals, rather than as a sophisticated tool of land management.

Terra Nullius still insidiously influences our thinking.

If firestick farming was going on 140,000 years ago then it was underpinned by a systematic knowledge base.

That knowledge base was of course the totem system, within which all knowledge was integrated to serve ecological purposes.

Nillumbik considers outsourcing ethanasia

NILLUMBIK Council is considering a report to cease providing a wildlife euthanising service across the Shire.

The service attends to the euthanasia of injured wildlife and domestic animals on both public and private land, in accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1968.

Wherever possible, qualified and accredited officers are obliged to minimise the suffering of injured animals where a recovery from injuries is unlikely.

The service also seeks to minimise the chance of injured wildlife creating a hazard on public roads.

The service is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Currently, two licensed Rangers attend to incidents within business hours and a contractor delivers the service outside of business hours.

In May 2018, Council engaged Maddocks Lawyers and PPB Advisory (now part of PWC) to undertake an independent audit and review of its past, present and future management of its wildlife euthanising service and related management of firearms.

The audit report was presented to Council’s Audit Committee on August 13, 2018, due to the Committee’s risk management advisory role and expertise.

At its meeting, the Audit Committee decided that the Council should consider making alternative arrangements to deliver these services in the future.

Since then, officers have continued to seek alternatives for the provision of this service, and have commenced engaging with key stakeholders such as the Victoria Police and Wildlife Victoria in preparation for Council exiting this service.

In a report considered at the Council’s February Future Nillumbik Committee meeting, Councillors were briefed on a report which addressed the costs of providing this service, and the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) risks associated with the management and use of firearms in the day to day duties of Community Safety Officers (i.e. Rangers).

The report recommended that Council “support officers in engaging key stakeholders to develop an orderly exit from this service”.

The report went on to recommend:

  • Immediately cease providing the injured wildlife euthanisation service on private property and only focus on risks within the public realm.
  • Direct officers to continue an engage with Victoria Police, Wildlife Victoria and other stakeholder organisations in formulating an exit of this service.
  • Direct officers to negotiate a support package for Wildlife Victoria for a period of three years to ensure that they continue to be adequately funded within Nillumbik to provide this service as they do across the rest of Victoria.
  • Endorse a planned exit from the injured wildlife euthanisation service in its entirety by no later than June 30, 2019.

Council also heard that the financial benefit of exiting this service will be a direct cost saving of $56,000 annually as well as freeing up the time of Rangers to attend to other duties.

The report noted that the trend amongst other councils has been to pull out of this service, with all councils surveyed having stopped using firearms, while two have moved to using bolt guns.

“The remaining councils either ceased providing the service, or had never provided the service.

“Concerns relating to the overall risk of handling of firearms; whether councils really should be in the business of handling firearms; and points of decreasing demand, or access to other agencies (such as the police) being better suited to providing the service were all points put forward by these councils”, the report stated.

The Committee took the recommendations on advisement and has commissioned a period of public consultation and a further report to be considered at their May meeting.

New hope for Wonga Park shopping centre

THERE IS A NEW wave of optimism that the Wonga Park Village shops will be given a new lease of life.

The “For Lease” sign that has stood as a sentinel outside the derelict shopping strip for over a year was given the addition of an “Under New Ownership” sign in late February, and has been joined by some cyclone fencing around the perimeter of the centre.

On contacting the leasing agent, Lewis Waddell of Fitzroys Real Estate, it was confirmed that the site has been purchased by a developer who would like to remain anonymous at this time.

Mr Waddell told the Dairy that the new owner has submitted plans to redevelop and refurbish the site to “bring it back to life”.

The owner has plans for what, in his words, will be a “community revitalisation”, and is hoping to attract tenants for a variety of retail, medical and dining spaces.

“Depending on how the permit application goes the owner hopes [tenants will be able to move in] within the next three to six months,” said Mr Waddell.

Tenants were evicted from the shopping centre by the former owner three years ago.

Hairdresser, Lynn Munro received notice to vacate her Yarra Road salon just before Christmas of 2015.

“I received a letter on December 17, 2015 to say I had to vacate within four weeks,” she said.

Since then the shops in the precinct have remained empty, much to the frustration of Wonga Park locals.

“The owner was a local person, but she moved to Sydney and stopped renewing leases on all the shops, even the Post Office couldn’t continue to operate,” she said.

When the centre was put up for lease again last year there were hopes for activity at the site, but despite numerous enquiries from potential tenants, none of the shops were let.

“The shops were the heart and soul of Wonga Park, with everyone living on such big blocks it was a place for everyone to meet.

“When I was the last shop there, people would come in and say, ‘where can we get a coffee?’, but there was nowhere,” Ms Munro said.

Over the last three years, all attempts of contacting the now-former Sydney-based owner of the property have proven futile as Council, media and residents have had letters unanswered, phone calls cut off, and many questions left unanswered.

While the centre has been languishing unoccupied, the town has been resolute in maintaining their community spirit.

Wonga Park Farmers Market has been established in an attempt to reinvigorate the community, but this does not solve the village’s day-to-day needs, which, until the property is tenanted, are still unmet.

Angelo Kourambas, Director City Planning and Community at Manningham City Council said it was too early for Council to comment on the owner’s ideas for the site.

However, he said the Council welcomes the potential rejuvenation of the centre.

“Council is keen to see the Wonga Park Village Centre restored to a viable and vibrant local shopping and community precinct for the local community to enjoy,” he said.

Anyone interested in leasing space from the new owner can contact Lewis Waddell at Fitzroys Real Estate 0431 107 275.