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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.

 

Time to get fire-ready

SUMMER will be soon upon us and local councils, community associations and the CFA have begun their annual bushfire preparations.

Local CFA volunteers prepare for summer

By TIM KEMM

LOCAL FIRE brigades have ramped up training of new recruits ahead of the upcoming bushfire season this summer.

Brigades from the CFA Maroondah Group met at the Warrandyte Bridge last month to conduct a practical exercise aimed at familiarising recruits with some of the equipment.

The main exercise conducted was drafting, which involves pumping water out of the river into the appliances, where it is then pressurised and pumped out through the hoses to fight the fire (or in the case of this exercise — sprayed back into the river).

“What we do is whack in some drafting lines, and then with our priming pumps we get lift, so we then turn on our main centrifugal pump, and we’ve got water coming into the appliances,” said Bob Dowie, the Maroondah Group Recruits Course Coordinator.

“We can either do a fill and drop, or an appliance can remain there and be used to fill other appliances, or we can conduct a fire fight from here if we have to.

“Later on we’ll be ‘showing’ water, which means we’re just going to fire some water back into the river.”

This technique can be used to pump water out of not just rivers, but also pools, lakes and dams.

For the new recruits it is an important step they have to take to becoming operational firefighters.

These sessions also provide an opportunity for the brigades in the Maroondah group to get to know each other, as these are the people they will be working alongside this summer.

The exercise included trucks from North Warrandyte, South Warrandyte, Chirnside Park, Yarra Glen, Lilydale, Wonga Park and Coldstream. Fire authorities are predicting it to be a long, hot summer and implore local residents to stay on alert at all times.

“We really want people to be prepared as always,” said Warrandyte Brigade member Renee Bisscheroux. “Particularly in this area it is quite dangerous.”

The drafting exercise is just one component of a rigorous, 12 week course that new recruits take in order to thoroughly prepare them for the summer.

Over the next few weeks a whole range of training scenarios will be covered, sometimes it may just involve scoping the lay of the land.

“Area familiarisation is a really big thing for us,” said Ms Bisscheroux.

“While we do have maps to get to fires it’s definitely much more useful if the driver knows where they’re going or know that they can’t get the truck up this road and need to go from a different direction.

“We’ve got maybe two main roads out [of Warrandyte] and if people are trying to get out it’s going to get congested, and we’re also trying to get the trucks in the opposite direction which causes us problems,” she said.

“We’re doing a lot of training based around bushfire scenarios in the area.”

For the new recruits, a sense of responsibility to the community is a significant driving force towards volunteering for the CFA.

“I signed up because I wanted to learn the necessary skills to improve bushfire resilience, prevent bushfire and combat fire so that I can aid my community and those in need,” said Tim Benedict, a new recruit of the South Warrandyte brigade.

“The CFA is a great community organisation with incredible commitment from its volunteers and staff,” he said.

For Tayla Walsh, another South Warrandyte volunteer, it has been a valuable and worthwhile experience.

“It wasn’t until my mum and brother joined a few years ago and I got that exposure to what being a volunteer involves that I decided it was something I really wanted to do,” Ms Walsh said.

“I’ve loved it — it’s definitely been challenging and has tested me both physically and mentally, but both the recruits and the trainers are so supportive, we’ve become a real team.”

With training well and truly underway, Warrandyte residents can rest assured that local brigades will be ready to tackle whatever this summer may bring.

Will you be as safe as houses this summer?

By SANDI MILLER

LIVING IN Warrandyte is a privilege that comes with risk.

Living amongst the bush makes Warrandyte among the places most at risk of bushfire in the world.

To lessen the risk, there are actions that can be taken before the danger period, such as reducing flammable materials around your home, installing water tanks, sprinkler systems and firefighting equipment — and having a fire plan.

The CFA has said the warmer and drier than average weather over recent months, combined with the forecasts for spring, suggest that the fire season is likely to commence earlier than usual and be more active than normal.

So now is the time to ensure your family have a plan in case of bushfire, storm or other emergency events, and one of the most important things to remember when producing your plan is to decide when you trigger your plan.

CFA recommends that a severe fire danger rating or higher should be your trigger to leave — do not wait for an official warning before you leave, as you may not get one — fires can start quickly and threaten homes and lives within minutes.

Your plan should also include a plan of where to evacuate to — hanging out at Eastland might be ok for a couple of hours, but remember you may need to take yourselves, you pets, and your valuables away from Warrandyte for a couple of days if there is an extended heatwave.

The CFA urge residents to understand your risk and plan ahead. Know what to do on hot, dry, windy days and plan for all situations. Let your family and friends know your plan — what are your triggers, where you’ll go and how you will get there.

This year especially, your plan should include strategies to avoid being stuck during the roadworks on Warrandyte Bridge.

Even if you do not have to cross the bridge, the CFA warns if you wait and decide to leave after a fire has started, you risk driving your family through thick smoke, fallen trees and power lines, and face the danger of collisions, being trapped, serious injury or death.

Your fire plan also requires a Plan B, for when you get caught at home by an unexpected event — so your home should be defendable even if your plan is to leave.

Get informed Should the worse happen and your home is threatened, how can you ensure your family and your home are more likely to survive? Get as much information as you can before the fire season is upon us.

Go along to one of the CFA Open Days or attend one of the information sessions being held by local community groups.

The Be Ready Warrandyte Safe as Houses? forum, hosted by the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) and their partners in Manningham and Nillumbik Councils and the local Emergency Response and Recovery Services, aims to answer this question.

The Safe as Houses? forum will be held at 7pm on Thursday October 26 at the Warrandyte Community Church.

The forum will explore case studies in which a house was or was not lost as a result of a fire. Justin Leonard from the CSIRO will present on different building materials and how they fare against a fire and will also look at a houses’ surroundings to give you an idea as to how best to prepare your property.

The forum will also give an overview of the upcoming fire danger period including communication and access interruptions within the area.

The community will be given the opportunity to ask questions about any of the topics raised in a panel of speakers and local agency representatives following the completion of the presentations.

Residents are encouraged to bring along your personal emergency plan as you may wish to include information that you gain from the evening.

Fire info for Nillumbik landowners

Proactive Landowners Group (PALs) will be conducting a Community Fire Awareness Program on November 19 at the Panton Hill Hall.

PALs is a group from Nillumbik who pride themselves as being “well intentioned, non-aligned landholders” who came together to dispute planning changes in Nillumbik two years ago. PALs are calling for a dismantling of native vegetation clearing regulations to remove the “archaic, draconian and overly-complicated legislation” asserting that “the process must begin afresh” with appropriate consultation.

“It needs to be collaborative process with good intent and good will,” he said.

Spokesperson for the group, Damien Crock, said “the group have come to realise that, since Black Saturday, landholders must bear some responsibility of protecting ` Shire and the State from the threat of bushfire.”

“Nillumbik Shire spreads out to the north of Warrandyte, which is recognized as the most highly populated high-fire danger areas on planet Earth,” he said.

Mr Crock says the Shire is blessed with talent from all walks of life and they have come together in PALs with “the right intent to make effective change”.

He told the Diary that the Bushfires Royal Commission key recommendations were about protecting human life “and our preoccupation is also with human safety.”

The group is therefore holding an information session to discuss fire safety and preparedness in the lead-up to what is likely to be a challenging bushfire season.

“The session can be attended by anyone in and around Nillumbik” to gain valuable information about preparing for the fire season.

The day will include guest speakers such as Neil Marshall who, with more than 50 years’ experience with the CFA, will be speaking on a number of subjects.

There is also information about preparing pets and livestock during bushfire threat.

Horse owners can also learn about the National Equine Database, an invaluable resource in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Council gets ready for fire season

With Fire Action Week kicking off from 13 – 20 October, Councils are working closely with local CFA brigades to identify and reduce bushfire risks on Council land to help improve community safety.

Nillumbik Shire Mayor Cr Peter Clarke said Council is preparing for the summer season with bushfire mitigation plans underway, this includes roadside clearing, slashing and mowing, tree management and native vegetation clearing.

“Council’s fire prevention program also includes ensuring maintenance of fire tracks, power line clearance, removing hazardous trees, clearing road sides, water tank maintenance and environmental works in our 32 reserves,” Cr Clarke said.

“This work is vital for Council to undertake but it will not eliminate our bushfire risk entirely.

“It is important for residents to have a think about their own properties and start to get them ready for summer by conducting regular maintenance of their property, including clearing long grass, timber and wood stores, gutters and drains.”

Fireball funds fire appliance

By SANDI MILLER

THE FIREBALL organising committee handed over the keys to a new slip-on unit to Warrandyte Fire Brigade. Last October’s Fireball, where 350 members of the local community gathered together for a fun-filled night at the Park Hyatt, raised over $70,000, which purchased a LandCruiser ute to replace the brigade’s old vehicle.

The slip-on unit is a four-wheel-drive ute with fire-fighting capability which enables firefighters to get to places traditional tankers would be unable to access.

The previous fourteen-year-old firefighting appliance was involved in a burn-over incident while supporting firefighters in Tasmania.

Warrandyte CFA Captain Adrian Mullens got the call from Tasmania last year saying the vehicle had been involved in a burn-over.

“My heart sank — I didn’t think my ticker could go 500 beats per minute…luckily apart from some scorch damage to the slip-on they were fine, fortunately we had an experienced crew on it, and that is paramount — there is no place for learners on a slip-on because there are only two of you,” he said.

The appliance was refurbished following the incident, however Captain Mullens believed that the 2003 vehicle was no longer providing an acceptable safety standard for fire crews.

“Having all the extra safety features in it, crew safety is something that is always top of the list,” he said.

The firefighting equipment which was replaced following the incident in Tasmania was able to be reused on the new vehicle, although supplementary donations from the Lions Club and Rotary enabled the brigade to fit out the appliance with some ancillary equipment such as winches and crew protection sprinklers.

Captain Mullens said the brigade would not have had the funds if not for the donation from Fireball.

“Fireball has just taken a huge burden off the brigade in relation to raising funds for major ticket items, so we are extremely grateful for the Fireball Committee’s efforts,” he said Jaime Noye from the Fireball Committee said while the idea that the brigades shouldn’t have to fundraise for themselves is a big part of the reason behind Fireball, it is more than that.

“It is a celebration of the firefighters and all they do for us, and last Fireball was at a time when there was a lot of uncertainty, so bringing them all together, it really did help them,” she said.

After the 2014 fires, Julie Quinton, from Quinton’s IGA, identified there was a need for local brigades to have some assistance in relation to major expenditure — trucks, generators, etc. Julie formed the Fireball Committee and then in conjunction with the four local fire captains identified the worthiest recipients — North Warrandyte were top of the list to replace its aging tanker, which was the recipient of the 2014 Fireball, then Warrandyte for this appliance.

Fireball committee member Michelle Lambert said the Fireball is only about raising money for big ticket items.

“People are still contributing from the community to the brigades in other ways,” she said.

For instance, Warrandyte Community Bank contribute $50,000 per year to our local CFAs.

“The bank also gave Fireball a grant and [when the venue was moved] they came in and put on the busses,” continued Ms Lambert.

The Fireball Committee is not resting on its laurels, it is in the process of providing a model for taking Fireball to other communities and is planning for the next Fireball event in 2019.

“When the government has a clearer idea of what the new fire service is going to look like, we can go to the community saying this is it, and this is the shortfall and this is what we are intending to do,” she said.

Warrandyte’s slip-on goes into service this week, ready for the upcoming fire season and will turn out for local incidents and be part of strike teams around the state and potentially around the country.

Taking power underground

By SANDI MILLER

COMMUNITIES in high-risk bushfire areas such as North Warrandyte could benefit from an initiative to bury powerlines, which will significantly reduce the risk to lives and property from bushfires.On February 7, 2009 Victoria suffered the deadliest bushfires in its history.

The subsequent Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission found that uninsulated overhead powerlines were the cause of many of these fires, and recommended the Victorian Government contribute towards the cost of replacing these lines, starting in highest priority areas.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said after viewing the installation of 43km of underground wires recently in Healesville: “the risk this summer is very real and we’re working to ensure Victorians have the best possible protection against bushfires.”

The State Government is calling for applications from all regional Victorians interested in applying to the Powerline Replacement Fund to underground their bare-wire overhead powerlines before applications close in February 2018.

To obtain funding under the scheme, powerlines must meet the following criteria:

• is currently in active use (ie the POEL [Private  Overhead Electric Lines] must not be disconnected) — if the POEL is disconnected, the POEL owner will not be eligible for funding assistance unless the POEL has been reconnected for ongoing active use;

• is overhead and uninsulated (that is a span, or part there-of, is bare wire);

• is located in one of the PRF local government areas listed;

• is located in a High Bushfire Risk Area as designated by the Country Fire Authority.Residents of Nillumbik and Yarra Ranges could be eligible for a grant from the scheme, although property owners interested in taking part should check their eligibility at www.energy.vic.gov.au/electricity/powerline-replacement-fund.

The Manningham council area is not included in the scheme.

Chef Lisa breaking the sound barrier

LISA PARKER is the new chef on the block.

She starts her day in the kitchen of Warrandyte’s favourite social enterprise café, Now and Not Yet, cutting and chopping up ingredients, portioning sauces and vegetables and seasoning meats.

She commands the ovens and fryers, reigns supreme over the stove top, and knows how to make a mean batch of pancakes.

Lisa also happens to be deaf.

Her employment at Now and Not Yet isn’t just a job—it’s a life changing experience, especially after over 100 rejected job applications and years of struggling to find fulfilling work.

I sat down with Lisa, her interpreter Danielle Don and Sign for Work case worker Laura Bell to chat about her job, being welcomed into the Warrandyte community, and why she puts a few heaped teaspoons of sugar into her Now and Not Yet coffees—it takes the edge off the caffeine, she says.

Lisa started as a volunteer in the Now and Not Yet kitchen six months ago.

It was a sharp change of pace from her last job, working as a cleaner in accommodation houses in Tasmania.

From working in isolation cleaning homes—hard and tiring work—where the only person she communicated with was her employer via text, to the bustling, fast-paced kitchen on Warrandyte’s main street — it’s a big change, but a welcome one.

“I love it here,” Lisa says.

“I actually enjoy coming to work because there’s nothing worrying about it.

“It’s a really comfortable and friendly place, and everyone just goes with the flow here.”

It’s the people that make all the difference.

The worst part of her old cleaning job was that she was always working alone, Lisa says, and that it was isolating and quiet.

But here in the busy kitchen on Yarra Street, the word “quiet” certainly doesn’t come to mind.

The kitchen, the coffee counter and the café floor are almost always teeming with people.

And it’s these people, staff, customers and community members alike, that have made Lisa feel so welcome in Warrandyte.

“I’m mixing with different people and I get to meet a variety of different people.

“They’re just friendly and welcoming and they accept people for who they are — they don’t shun people or push them away, or judge them.

“With me, it’s just a different style of communication and instead of going ‘oh that’s too hard’, everyone here actually wanted to learn.

“They’re taking the time to try to communicate through mime and gesture or by writing things down — they accept me for who I am.”

When Lisa joined the team in the kitchen, the communication process between staff members changed.

Gone were loud vocal cues and yelled warnings (“HOT!), and in their place a bevy of basic sign language phrases, hand gestures and lots of smiles.

Lisa explains the system to me: one tap on the shoulder if somebody needs her attention, two taps to let her know somebody is walking behind her or carrying something hot, to avoid giving her a fright.

“Sometimes it can be hard, so we have to write things down.

But everyone is trying their best to communicate with me, and I’ve been teaching them some sign language.”

And they’ve taken a shine to it.

Now & Not Yet cafe, deaf chef, Warrandyte

Now and Not Yet chef’s Lisa and Jack

Jack, a full time chef in the Now and Not Yet kitchen, has made a determined effort to learn AUSLAN and ensure that the kitchen is a safe, supportive and inviting place for Lisa.

And as a result, his relationship with Lisa is an incredibly special one, where the roles of mentor and mentee are reciprocal: Jack teaches Lisa skills in the kitchen, and Lisa teaches him sign language and deaf awareness.

“It was a bit of a struggle to start with because I didn’t know any sign language — but because Lisa and I got along so well, it was easier to learn from her.

“I’m not fluent obviously, but I’ve learned things like bacon, lamb…the really important words! It’s fun but it’s a lot of work to remember,” Jack says.

They’re both visual learners, and Lisa says having Jack in the kitchen with her ensures every day is filled with plenty of learning — but plenty of fun too.

“[Jack] has a really cheeky laugh and we have a good giggle in the kitchen together,” she says.

Laura Bell, Lisa’s case worker from Sign for Work, says that being employed by Now and Not Yet has been a transformative experience for Lisa.

“Lisa has struggled in employment previously; but now I see this happy and excited person every single day.

“Her confidence wasn’t there and her sense of self-worth, but to see the change in her is amazing,” she said.

But Laura Bell says that it’s a rarity for a deaf person to find such a cooperative and supportive workplace in Melbourne.

Now and Not Yet is the exception.

“For us to find people who are so accepting and willing to employ a deaf person…and they did it all own their own, without us prompting them!

“Even when Lisa was just a volunteer here, they all wanted to learn sign language, learn how to communicate and make it easier for her.

“Most hearing people don’t try to involve themselves in the deaf persons experience, it’s just sort of like, you’re here in my hearing world, work it out — that makes it really hard to keep a deaf person in employment,” Laura says.

“So finding a special, unique place like this… they on their own said ‘how can we become deaf? How can we make your life easier?’.

“In this situation, we’ve not come across any roadblocks, it’s just about saying how can we support Lisa? How can we make this experience great?”

Laura and Lisa agree that it’s not just about finding and creating opportunities, but more broadly contributing to deaf awareness.

“The wider community today just doesn’t accept something as basic as hearing loss — I can’t understand it, and it makes it so hard — but the community here in Warrandyte, we need more people like the people here,” Laura says.

“Just because somebody is hard of hearing or deaf, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the skills to succeed and to work, it’s about patience and resilience, and they can be on the exact same level as their hearing counterparts.”

And café owner Derek Bradshaw, says it’s people like Lisa that are the reason he does the work he does.

“It’s why we exist, there’s no point in being a social enterprise and putting money back into the community if you’re not actually willing to really live it in everything you do,” Derek says.

“I’d say that probably over a third of our staff have faced some kind of significant challenge or have a learning disability.

“We actually kind of gravitate towards employing people that maybe wouldn’t be offered a job in a more mainstream workplace.

“For me, that’s one of the most exciting things about this place is the opportunity to assist and help people every day and provide employment and training — it’s pretty hard to put a value on that.”

Derek is implementing a number of workplace modifications to make Lisa’s job easier, including putting a mirror in the kitchen so Lisa can see behind her, and getting Lisa a watch or pager, that can vibrate to let her know when alarms or timers are going off on the kitchen appliances.

Lisa’s not sure what’s next for her, but for now, it’s all about becoming a better chef, learning more skills and completing her TAFE course in culinary arts and hospitality.

North East Link corridor plans released

OFFICIAL PLANS for the four routes under consideration for the North East Link have been released by the North East Link Authority (NELA).

The four possible corridors were determined through geo-technical investigations, traffic modelling, environment studies and discussions with community groups, businesses and local residents.

Premier Andrews made the announcement and said local roads in the north-east have become default freeways.

“North East Link will fix that — carrying 100,000 vehicles a day and creating 5,000 jobs,” he said.

However, Member for Warrandyte and Shadow Minister for Roads and Infrastructure, Ryan Smith told the Diary: “building the North East Link without a plan to build the East West Link will simply channel 100,000 vehicles a day onto an already gridlocked Eastern Freeway”.

Routing options

Of the four routes under consideration, two are set to run to the west of Warrandyte.

The proposed Corridor B would cross the Yarra at Fitzsimons Lane and follow the current powerline reserve with an interchange at the Tindals Road and Reynolds Road intersection and join EastLink at the Ringwood end of the Mullum Mullum Tunnel.

Proposed Corridor C would cross under the Yarra near Crystal Brook Caravan Park and follow the powerlines to the same interchange at Tindals Road.

Both of these options would also incorporate upgrades to Reynolds and Springvale Roads.

Further West, Corridor A is proposed to travel 11 kilometres directly south from Greensborough through the Banyule Flats to connect with the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen Road; this route would include an upgrade of the Eastern Freeway to accommodate the increased traffic volume.

Corridor D is a sweeping 40-kilometre route which travels through Kangaroo Ground, Bend of Islands, Christmas Hills, Lilydale, Mooroolbark and Bayswater, with connection to Eastlink near the Burwood Highway.

Extensive tunnels are planned to protect the environment and cultural assets: Corridor A will be 50% tunnel, Corridor B is planned to comprise a minimum 70% of tunnels over its 24-kilometre length, while Corridor C will have 55% of its 26-kilometre route underground and around 40% of Corridor D will be tunnelled.

Ryan Smith said that having these four corridor options on the table “with a significant lack of detail, Daniel Andrews has created an extreme level of anxiety amongst residents who will potentially have their homes acquired”.

NELA Communication and Stakeholder Engagement officer, Kim Jordan, who presented the plans to local community groups said that NELA have discussed using the powerline reserves with AusNet and they said that to place the high voltage lines underground would not be feasible with the existing reserve.

“That leaves us putting the road underground and leaving the powerlines where they are,” Ms Jordon said.

She said the project “will be completed with a set of guiding principles”:

• Minimise impacts in communities.

• Minimise impacts on environment and cultural assets.

• Minimise impacts during construction.

• Optimise efficient use of resources.

Residents are invited to attend local information sessions during August or can provide their feedback online.

There will be an information session on August 19 at Warrandyte Primary school where residents can give feedback to NELA about the proposed routes.

The Diary will supply publish the NELA technical report on this website when it is made available, in the mean time, more details on the corridor options can be found here.

The Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) says that it is actively preparing for the short feedback period.

Convenor for the WCA’s North East Link subcommittee, Carli Lange-Boutle, says “the WCA is collaborating with other associations along the Greensborough-Eltham-Park Orchards-Donvale-Ringwood Route corridor to identify the potential benefits and impacts of the options.

“This consortium of local associations forms a study group, calling itself the North East Link Forum (NELF), which facilitates an understanding of priority concerns of each district, while also being a means to share information and ideas.”

Ms Lange-Boutle advises that each association continues to work to their individual objectives and priorities.

“The WCA’s priority is to help defend our village character, our natural Yarra River valley bush setting and the surrounding Green Wedge buffers”, she continued.

“The Park Orchards and Donvale communities are worried about potential impact on the Mullum Mullum Creek corridor and about traffic issues.

“The WCA has respectfully identified concerns regarding increased traffic pressure on Yarra Street from a possible ramp system at the intersection of Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road as a key issue.”

Ms Lange-Boutle said “We are devoting considerable effort into encouraging Manningham Council and residents that now is the time to get involved.

“Now is when we all need to communicate our core issues to NELA in response to the route option discussion paper.”

Ms Lange-Boutle said the WCA hoped “Warrandyte residents would take an active interest in this issue”.

These sessions continue the community consultation which commenced last month.

NELA received 7000 responses to their online survey and found the community’s three main issues were: protection of the environment, public transport and urban design.

Last month, residents of Nillumbik were given the opportunity to attend a series of pop-up meetings held by NELA, which were initiated by Nillumbik Council Officers and councillors Karen Egan and Jane Ashton.

Residents asked many questions of the NELA community engagement team with many of the question raised during the first pop-up meeting in Eltham concerned primarily with the routes plan to run through Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground.

Narelle Campbell has attended several of the pop-up meetings as a concerned resident of the Green Wedge.

She told the Diary that NELA appeared receptive and welcoming of discussions.

“The NELA and Nillumbik Council pop-up sessions give us the opportunity to talk to NELA with our issues face to face,” she said.

Ms Campbell said that Nillumbik residents have been “turning up to these sessions to make sure NELA acknowledges and can articulate all of the reasons why a rural Nillumbik Green Wedge option is a bad idea in its own right and achieves a poor project outcome when compared to other North East Link options”.

Ms Campbell gave the Diary her impression of the reality faced by the North East Link Authority.

“The reality is that all North East Link Project options impact on people, homes, the environment, and create engineering challenges — there is no ‘easy’ build option, completing the Link now is about identifying the ‘least worst’ project option to achieve project benefits,” she said.

As reported in the May edition of the Diary, The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) have been advocating for a wholly aboveground option.

“Tunnels are expensive to build, prolong construction timelines, and cannot accommodate dangerous goods vehicles, which forces them onto other roads, impacting community amenity,” VTA CEO Peter Anderson said earlier this year.

However, Ms Jordon said the VTA’s preferred route through Chirnside Park would require some tunnelling, and that only around 1% of trucks carry dangerous goods.

Ryan Smith said the proposed North East link routes are an unprecedented attack on the Green Wedge.

“Daniel Andrews seems not to know or care about the impact this project will have on the local environment, Mr Smith said.

A final decision on the final route will be announced by the end of the year, with the Premier saying contracts would be signed in 2019 and construction commencing in 2020.

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Major upgrade for Jumping Creek Road

AFTER 17 RECORDED vehicle crashes in four years, Manningham Council began the process for a major upgrade to Jumping Creek Road in July 2016.

At an estimated cost of $17.9M and a construction period of six years, works are scheduled to begin in 2018, after the next fire danger period has ended and assuming the necessary permits have been issued.

An important link road between Warrandyte and the Yarra Valley, the road also gives access to the only river crossing with 10 kilometres for Wonga Park and the surrounding area.

Manningham Council estimates Jumping Creek Road currently carries more than 8000 vehicles per day, a number which is expected to of doubled by 2035.

Taking into account the number of accidents on this important artery, Manningham believe the road, which is already failing to keep drivers safe will be unable to accommodate a major increase in traffic without an upgrade.

The works will include roadway realignment, roundabouts, emergency vehicle stopping bays and a shared pedestrian/cycling path which will run the entire length of Jumping Creek Road between Wonga Park and Warrandyte.

This last adjustment will deliver greater accessibility to the Wonga Park community as well as improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

As part of the development process, Manningham Council have formed the Jumping Creek Road Community Reference Panel, a panel which consists of residents, businesses and community groups which are directly affected by Jumping Creek Road.

Mr Leigh Harrison, Director of Assets and Engineering for Manningham Council spoke to the Diary, explaining the role the panel will play in the forthcoming upgrade.

“The Jumping Creek Road Community Reference Panel will provide an important and long term opportunity for the community to highlight issues, queries and provide feedback on proposals to upgrade Jumping Creek Road.

“[The panel] will also help guide the materials and finishes, path widths, replanting opportunities, fauna crossings, street lighting, pedestrian crossing locations, non-regulatory signage, roadside aesthetics, emergency stopping bay locations, the Dudley Road/Yarra Road/Jumping Creek Road intersection surface treatment and the extent and nature of equestrian treatments,” he said.

Residents will get the opportunity to express their thoughts on the road upgrade via the Community Reference Panel, as well as via the Manningham “Your Say” page.

However, one major concern will be traffic congestion.

The Diary asked Mr Harrison what steps have been taken to minimise further congestion to an already heavily congested area.

“The key objectives of this project are to improve safety for all users, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, and to accommodate the forecasted increase in traffic volumes — which is expected to double to 15,000 vehicles per day by 2035.

“During our consultation process, concerns were raised about traffic congestion at the Jumping Creek Road and Homestead Road intersection — located on the municipal boundary between the Shire of Yarra Ranges and the City of Manningham.

“Council is working with the Shire of Yarra Ranges to address resident concerns regarding this intersection.

“Some traffic disruption during works of this scale is unavoidable,” he said.

Jumping Creek Road Upgrade plan courtesy of the Manningham “YourSay” page