Featured

Queen’s Birthday Honours for two local stalwarts

Congratulations to Jan Davies and Doug Seymour who have each been awarded an OAM in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours.

Doug Seymour

Doug Seymour has been recognised for his work in the Warrandyte Community, most notably with the Warrandyte Community Association, where he has been on the central committee since 2012.

Doug was also a foundation member of the Warrandyte Environment League in 1970, where he served as President for more than six years.

Doug told the Diary he was surprised by the award, but said it was “much appreciated, as the nomination must have been put forward by some of the wonderful Warrandyte people I have worked with in the interests of sensitive planning and conservation values over the past 40 years”.

“We value our heritage bushland character and conservation values and you are never alone when the battle goes forward in this town,” he said.

More recently he has been on the committee of the Warrandyte Community Retirement Cooperative, which has been working to enable older Warrandyte residents the opportunity of staying within Warrandyte when the typical Warrandyte block becomes too much to maintain.

The cooperative built the award-winning Creekside retirement village, and are nearing completion of the new Riverside development in West End Road.

The honour has also recognised Doug’s tireless work for the community of Warrandyte on his work on numerous committees, including the WCA’s Be Ready Warrandyte campaign, which promoted fire safety throughout the community, as well as his volunteering with Friends of Warrandyte State Park, where he has been a member since its inception in 1982.

He has also been involved with the Warrandyte Historical Society since 1976, and managed the Warrandyte Organic Food Cooperative.

Jan Davies

Dr Janice Davies (B.Sc Hons, Grad Dip HRM, MBA, PhD) has been recognised for her considerable contribution both to health care throughout Australia and to her local community in Warrandyte over the last 40 years.

Jan Davies’ two faceted award acknowledges her generosity with her time with pro-bono and community activities, in addition to her considerable achievements in her professional life.

Health

As a leading innovator in the health sector in Australia, she has introduced “communities of practice” to clinicians around the country — helping health service leaders identify ways to improve the clinical services they deliver to patients.

Jan initiated innovative approaches to address educational, social and health inequalities in rural, disadvantaged and Indigenous communities.

She established the National Institute of Clinical Studies (NICS) in collaboration with Professor Chris Silagy AO and worked with Alzheimer’s Australia to introduce new programs designed to improve the care and design of services for people with Alzheimer’s.

Jan has an abiding commitment to protecting some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

Jan has also been actively involved in a national bullying prevention program, and in caring for and supporting victims of sexual assault.

One of her earliest projects, in the 1990s, was to head up and coordinate the establishment of the North- East Centre Against Sexual Assault (NECASA).

Community

The legacy of Jan’s volunteer work is enjoyed by the thousands of people who use the Warrandyte State Park, the Warrandyte Community Centre and our many cultural and social facilities.

Her passion for community health is seen in the many trekking tours she has organised, and her leadership of the Heart Foundation Walking Group.

Her enduring legacy in the Warrandyte community is her achievements as Co-Chair of the Warrandyte Environment League.

In this role, she spearheaded a campaign advocating for the State Government to purchase land in North Warrandyte now known as Koornong Reserve and was instrumental in convincing the then Eltham Council to purchase the environmentally sensitive Professors Hill land as a Council Reserve.

She also persuaded the then Doncaster and Eltham Councils to purchase vacant garage land in central Warrandyte as a site for a Community Centre.

The Warrandyte Community Centre was later developed by Manningham Council to house the community library, Warrandyte Diary, the Neighbourhood House and facilities to host many other community functions and activities.

VEC: Nillumbik Representation Review

Final report released

The Victorian Electoral Commission(VEC) have released their final report and recommendation for the Nillumbik Shire Representation Review.

The review, a process which takes place every 12 years, aims to ensure residents in municipalities are fairly represented by local council.

Over the course of the process, which began in April, a total of 157 public submissions were received by the VEC across the Preliminary Submission and Response Submission phases.

In its Preliminary Report, the VEC’s preferred option was a multi-councillor, three-ward structure which would have seen the distinct urban and rural areas covered under their own ward.

However, in the Final Report, the VEC has recommended the Shire retains its current representation structure of seven wards with one councillor per ward, a decision which will be welcomed by Council who have been submitting for the status quo since this process began.

Read our full analysis of the Nillumbik Representation Review in June’s Diary,  which will be available online on Monday.

Click here to read the Final Report.

Health and Safety

Prepare for flu season

By SANDI MILLER

THE STATE Government has launched a new campaign encouraging Victorians to get their flu shot ahead of winter and do their part to stop the spread of flu.
More than two million free vaccinations are expected to be administered before the flu season takes hold.
Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos says vaccination is safe, effective and it saves lives.
“You never forget the flu, so don’t forget your flu shot.
“Coming down with the flu is not like catching a cold.
“It hits you quickly and hard, and it can last for weeks — and for some people, it can be deadly.”
A horror flu season in 2017 saw more than 48,000 Victorians diagnosed with influenza.
That number fell to 11,612 cases last year, but flu diagnoses in 2019 are currently triple what they were compared with the same time last year.
Vaccinations are free for kids aged six months to less than five.
Pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Victorians with a chronic condition are also eligible for a free flu vaccination as part of the National Immunisation Program.
Victorians over the age of 65 are also covered and the vaccination can be obtained from your local GP.
Flu shots are also available at some pharmacies — without the need to visit a doctor.
Warrandyte Pharmacist, Chris Farmakis says the Terry White Chemmart at the Goldfields Shopping Centre has established a flu clinic to administer vaccinations.
The Terry White Chemmart website provides a booking service where you can schedule an appointment, or you can pop in for a walk-up consultation.
Go to terrywhitechemmart.com.au and click on Health Services to make your booking for a flu shot.
The vaccination costs $19.95 and it is administered on site.
Flu symptoms can include a sudden high fever, headache, body aches and feeling extremely weak or tired.
For children, the elderly or people with a weakened immune system, the flu can have devastating outcomes.
Mr Farmakis says the flu is very easy to catch, and good hygiene is imperative to avoid the disease.
“It is not merely passed on through coughing and sneezing, it hangs around — even on door handles it can survive up to eight hours, and then if you open the door it is on your hands. “It’s very easy to catch, but very easy to prevent by having a flu shot,” he said.
Anyone who thinks they have the flu should visit their doctor, a pharmacist, or call Nurse-On-Call on: 1300 60 60 24.

Electromagnetic Sleep Study, Participants sought

Nicole Bijlsma is a building biologist and CEO of the registered training organisation — Australian College of Environmental Studies based in Warrandyte.
She first became interested in environmental medicine following two events in her life: firstly working as a naturopath and acupuncturist she noticed many of her patients with asthma, allergies and chronic fatigue syndrome were sick following exposure to mould, electromagnetic fields (EMFs), and/or toxicants like pesticides in their home.
However it wasn’t until she moved into her home in Warrandyte, that she experienced insomnia and ten miscarriages which she believed arose from sleeping near the meter panel.
After relocating bedrooms, she subsequently gave birth to her twins (natural conception as she didn’t qualify for IVF) and spent the next two decades investigating the impact of hazards in the built environment.
In 1999 she established the college and the building biology industry in Australia and wrote the best seller — Healthy Home Healthy Family — now in its 3rd edition, which attracted numerous television and radio interviews.
Nicole lectures about environmental sensitivities at medical conferences both in Australia and abroad.
Nicole and her husband Mark, sold their home in Warrandyte to invest in a manufacturing facility in Bayswater to create the cleaning product range — Abode — specifically for people with chemical and skin sensitivities.
The products are sold in health food stores across Australia.
Nicole is also looking for couples who would be interested in taking part in a short study which studies the effects of electromagnetic fields on sleep.
If this is something you and your partner would be interested in, check out the details below:

Electromagnetic field sleep study. We need you!

RMIT researchers seeking healthy adult couples who live in a detached house in the Eastern suburbs to participate in a study to find out if electromagnetic radiation affects sleep and brain function. You may be eligible if you are a healthy non-smoking adult, who sleeps well, aged between 18 and 55 and who is prepared to avoid digital devices at least one hour before bed for a 4 week period. Participants will receive a healthy home pack valued at $100, access to their sleep data and a free electromagnetic field assessment of their bedroom. If you  interested in participating, please call Nicole Bijlsma on 0417 310 002 or email info@aces.edu.au.

You can also download a copy of the sleep study participation form in advance from here.

 

DIGITAL HEALTH: TIPS FOR DETECTING SCAM EMAILS

By IAN CRAIG

WE OFTEN see news items in the popular media about people being scammed and defrauded out of thousands and sometime hundreds-of-thousands of dollars.

It was not until I witnessed this first hand — when a close member of my family was scammed — that I was able to comprehend not just how easy it is to be tricked but the extent of the emotional impact this can have on someone.
>According to government website Scamwatch , in 2018 there were 177,516 reporting cases of scams, 9.9 per cent of these involved the loss of money totalling $107,001,451.
That is a lot of money and these are just the figures for the ones that are reported, so who knows how many of these scams go unreported.
Top five scams for loss of money are investment scams, dating and romance, false billing, identity theft and hacking.
Billing scam emails seem to be the trend in scamming at the moment with my friends telling me they repeatedly receive emails claiming they have an unpaid invoice or bill.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) frequently post information about scams on their website and has this to say about false billing scams:
“Often a scam is disguised as an outstanding invoice to get the business to sign-up for unwanted advertising or office supplies.
Another common ploy involves sending invoices for the renewal of a non-existent domain name registration.
In some cases, false bills and invoices are followed-up with phone calls demanding payment or legal threats.”
Although I work in IT, I am not a safety online expert and I am not writing this article to scare everyone into going back to writing cheques and switching off their phones or computers — because I cannot work or play without them.
So why write about it?
The answer is simple, if we don’t talk about it and warn our friends and neighbours about the potential of a scam, the ‘scamsters’ will continue to take what doesn’t belong to them.
We are all familiar with the concept (like it or not) of the door to door salesperson who will knock on your door and try to sell you something — immediately we take a defensive approach, ascertain where they are from and do we trust them.
So, the point here is that the internet is like putting your front door in front of every person with something to sell or scam on a global scale.
With the right software, it is easy to send you an email, text message, phone call or some novel electronic message with some kind of hook, opportunity, link, attachment or instruction.
The ACCC’s Scamwatch website is a great place to educate yourself about current scams and I highly recommend you read their section on how to protect yourself against scammers.
But for now, here are some top tips on how to reduce your risk of being scammed while online.
Be alert to the fact that scams exist.
Know who you’re dealing with.
Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in emails — delete them.
Don’t respond to phone calls about your computer asking for remote access — hang up.
Be wary of unusual payment requests.
The site also has useful clues for spotting a fake document, email or dating profile.
My safety tip is to have a friend or family member who has your back when it comes to validating any online communication that you think is suspicious.
Or, if you have some experience and skills in this area then maybe you could offer your services to those in your circle.
Scammers often use fear and threat to get money out of us, which is why the billing scams are often used by scammers, so having someone who is able to look at the email objectively and is tech-savvy enough to be able to spot a scam or suspicious email can mean the difference between getting scammed or putting their email in the junk folder.

Priceless Community Crutches

By JOCK MACNEISH

LIKE ALL communities, the Warrandyte community is built on friendship, generosity, care and respect.

We don’t measure out these qualities in units like metres, dollars or litres.
We choose not to speak about how many units of kindness people display, or the exact width and breadth of their unselfishness.
But in Warrandyte there is something that symbolises and represents the care that people have for one another.
Surprisingly, it’s a pair of well-worn arm-crutches that, technically, belong to Adrian.
I say “technically” because the crutches are almost never at his place.
For more than a dozen years the crutches have been in continuous circulation around Warrandyte.
They have been “borrowed” by Adrian’s friends and neighbours to help them get back on their feet after various operations.
The crutches are once again back at my place, as I hobble around on my second knee replacement.
My first knee was replaced eight years ago and I’m pleased to report that the crutches are none the worse for wear.
I’m not sure the same could be said about my legs.
My wife Diana has had both her knees replaced, and yes, she also used the crutches to get back into her stride.
I know Jack and Jonathan were also restored to being upright citizens while hanging onto the crutches.
Warrandyte’s walking tracks bear the imprint of many steady journeys back to health, and those arm-crutches epitomise a spirit of generosity that pervades the place.
You can’t put a price on that.
Thank you Adrian.

Warrandyte Festival: Our favourite thing


By CHERIE MOSELEN

“Purple regalia and
monarchs’ proud faces,

Music and magic and billycart races,

Children’s cute costumes
all tied up with string,

These are a few
of our festival things…”

Warrandyte’s annual festival kicked off last month with popular evening events, Warrandyte Film Feast and Warrandyte Donvale Rotary Art Show.

The festival celebrated the town’s hallmark qualities over the weekend of March 22–24 via the theme “Stars of Warrandyte”.

Saturday’s trademark Grand Parade was filled with firefighters, councillors in classic cars, floats adorned
with superstars, theatre nuts blowing bubbles, community bank benefactors holding big cheques and
children cheering.

A star-studded cast came out with props and colourful costumes.

Sporting clubs, IGA apples, Ringwood RSL rat-a-tat-tatters, ultimate martial artists in full spin, Neighbourhood House knits, an old Dodge, a young Billycarter, Arty Farty umbrellas, the honourable Ryan Smith all fired up about Fireball…

Variety Bash “Benzey” — now there’s a star! Sixteen Variety Bashes throughout Australia, raising money for children’s charity.

Giant ducks, mountain bikes, Dylan’s trike (made at school from recycled materials), CFA pumpers, scouts getting about — and all this to the shout of Town Crier Ian Craig.

Commentators kept it entertaining, even trotting out a joke or two: “These ducks look like they have their eyes covered, but actually… they’re Peking ducks!”

Brave.

Rain made a half-hearted attempt to dampen enthusiasm but never really had a chance.

You see, for locals, nothing speaks to community pride more than Warrandyte Festival.

This year, the town clocked up 43 straight festival runs, thanks to a committed band of volunteers who continue to come up with ideas and the gusto to see them through.

A week earlier, organisers were told by Manningham Council that due to safe food-handling regulations, the Kid’s Market would not be able to sell baked goods — staples for these stalls, really, but rules are rules.

Families were notified and organisers feared the worst: dozens of disappointed children and parents, doing their buns and pulling out.

But, that is not the Warrandyte way.

A prize-winning number of stalls were registered — 70, in fact.

One young stallholder said it best: “We just ate all our cakes and made pet rocks instead!”

Kids’ Market organiser Grace Johnstone told the Diary that many interesting ideas were presented on the day, but it was “Warrandyte’s spirit of cooperation that was truly on show”.

Taking the cake, for mine, was a repurposed duck-race duck —complete with potted plant — “Hugh Quackman”.

Sunday’s Billycart Derby action drew a few choice words from parade monarch and motorcycle racing champ Cameron Donald, who helped out on the mike.

Cam’s commentary skills were tested — a minor stack, a false start and several finishes that looked too close to call — but he came through unscathed. Phew!

Meanwhile, on the Main Stage, the smooth countrified vocals of local performer Jo Pearson and the Pearl River Ramblers set up a further flow of excellence from Sydney’s alternative Country combo The April Family, dirtgirl and Mother Earth.

Fabulous Tom Petty/Fleetwood Mac and feisty Janis Joplin tributes followed on.

A day earlier, Riverbank Stage audiences had kept pace with drumming sensation African Star, before local bands Velvet Lounge and Riffmasters chilled things down to create a relaxed vibe.

In a new move, festival organisers brought Friday night’s three-hour Battle of the Bands (BOB) to the Main Stage on Saturday.

Applause for first-time festival volunteer Opal Gough.

It was a huge hit, giving young acts the opportunity to play primetime on a stage that has seen local bands like The Teskey Brothers and The Scrims go on to achieve success further afield.

Among others, bass player for The Teskeys, Brendon Love, stepped up as a Battle judge, offering the young players valuable feedback and advice.

Also helpful was Ben Dennis, (ex BOB organiser and manager of award-winning Australian electronic music duo Peking Duk) who generously produced 12 tickets to an upcoming Peking Duk concert as an event prize.

Ethical Decimal, a four-piece all-girl band from Castlemaine Secondary College, won the competition overall.

Gozleme, crepes, salted caramel ice cream, those little pancakes that everyone loves, a giant spring roll — I couldn’t decide among some fab food choices this year, so tried them all — in one afternoon.

A good thing St John’s Mobile CPR Learning Lab was on standby.

A lifesaving initiative to build resilience by training more people in CPR, 12-year-old visitor from Shepparton Tom Di Petta did the training:

“It was fun and the instructions were clear, I learned CPR in 10 minutes.”

Tom looked very keen to practice his newfound techniques, (at the time we spoke I was slowly sagging under the weight of Polish dumplings and lychee infused beer!)

Later, lighting genius Hugh McSpedden boosted the night sky and transformed trees around the Main Stage with creative images.

But, stars eventually fade from view.

And just like that, another Warrandyte Festival slipped by like a wet child on a giant water slide…

If you lost your mind over Hugh’s light show, the Information Caravan has it and some other things as well! Watches, hats, mats and multiple pieces of Tupperware with the name Carla Thompson on them: contact Carolyn on 0411 789 922 with lost property enquiries.

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Main Stage music medley

By IAN CRAIG

WHILE THE day started with the weather raining on our parade it ended with a twilight battle of the bands in Stiggants Reserve in what could only be described as a very pleasant and balmy evening.

Sitting in my favourite camping chair enjoying a pint of Kellybrook Ale, this sure was a good idea to hijack my wife Jo’s Warrandyte Diary assignment.

“You just keep working on your other writing assignments I will do this one for you,” says I, ha-ha, all part of my cunning plan.

With Greg Champion MC’ing the night and surrounded by three to four hundred fellow festivillians it was a pleasant night indeed.

As Greg Champion said to me when I asked him about the night, “The Battle of the Bands has brought more people in then our band … be young or die”.

Don’t take it personally Greg.

The competition started in the 80s with the back of a tray truck for the stage in the middle of the footy oval.

After a number of moves it has finally made it to the main stage and judging by the crowd it is there to stay.

The idea behind Battle of the Bands is that young aspiring musicians get a chance to demonstrate their creative “musicality” (I don’t know what that means but the judges told me that’s one of things they were looking for) in front of a good audience and the judges score them on the things that musically talented people look for in an up and coming band.

The judges are no slouches in this field with Fiona Steel (half of the indie folk duo GraceJean and session artist), Brendan Love (from Warrandyte’s own The Teskey Brothers), Joseph Dwyer (Moring After Girls), Fossa (Melbourne based Hip Hop Producer) and Kain Hardie (musician and music journalist).

Fiona told me she was, “looking for overall musicality, interaction with each other, interaction with crowd”.

I asked if it brought back memories for her.

“Yeah it does actually … I did a few of them when I was younger … it’s interesting being on the other side.”

Of course the audience got in on the act with the people’s award voted through the event page on Facebook.

Nice touch although there was a lot of voting happening before some of the acts even hit the stage, go friends.

Acts included Reborn Rebellion, Dead Pig, C-K-H, In The Works, Bleached and Blessed, Ethical Decimal, Suzi and Space Goats.

The winner of first prize (a full day of recording at Jet Studios) was Ethical Decimal, a young all female band from Castlemaine Secondary College.

Runners up were a young solo act, Suzi Yaghmoor from Mornington Peninsula and Dead Pig from Park Orchards.

First timer organiser Opal Gough, joined the Warrandyte Festival Committee in November last year.

“I think the kids were great,” said Opal, “they’ve pulled in an amazing crowd … that was really good support for them.”

Well done to Opal, her assistants and the committee for a great night, we thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment and the beautiful evening.

 

Blast into Warrandyte’s past

By JAMES POYNER

Mine Tour

THE WEATHER was glorious for the Hanson’s annual Sunday afternoon Gold Mine Tour and a group of around 50 people made their way up to the top of Webb Street for this Festival highlight.

Entry to the tour is free, with a small donation requested to raise money for Oxfam’s Walk Against Want, which raises money to assist women in developing countries who have to walk tens of kilometres each day to fetch fresh water.

The tours have been running since 1978 and up until recently were run by John Hanson himself.

But 42 years is a long time to run Gold Mine tours and these days, John has passed the baton on to his children; Peter, Jenny and Christine.

But before we headed off on our tour with Jenny and Christine, John gave the group potted history of gold mining in Warrandyte and the popularity of the tour.

“Typical gold country has three different types of eucalypt, red box, long leaf box and red stringy bark and often if they saw those sorts of trees [the miners] would think there is gold in the area,” he said.

“In some years, I had 200 people turn up, I borrowed a loud-hailer and off we went, but with 200 people, it was pretty slow.

“One year I decided to split it into two groups, 1pm and 3pm — 1pm 35 turned up, 3pm 150 turned up so I went back to just one time,” he said.

A short, bushy walk through the Hanson’s property and we reconvene at the top of Tunnel Street where Jenny begins the official tour.

Jenny explains there are two types of gold found in Warrandyte, alluvial gold and gold found in quartz seams.

Alluvial gold was panned in the creeks and the Yarra and our tour would involve a walk down the hill to Andersons Creek to visit the cairn where gold was first found in Warrandyte.

But before that, Jenny took us to Forth Hill Gold Mine where the group could get a feel for what it was like to be in one of these mines, even if nowadays, people can only walk 10 metres inside the old mine.

Jenny’s knowledge of the mine is impressive and it is enthralling to watch her map out the layout of the mine in the dirt.

A lot of this knowledge extends from previous decades, before the mine was closed to the public when she was able to explore the network of mines around Warrandyte.

With public safety paramount, access to the mines is prohibited and we have to use our imagination as Jenny imparts history and personal experience.

The second, and last, stop on our tour is to the Gold Memorial cairn, on Gold Memorial Road.

“This is the spot where they first found gold in Victoria, in 1851”.

An exciting statement and given the regions history with gold mining, really helps place Warrandyte in Australian history.

“Louis Michel came here with a party of four who were panning in this creek and found a few specks of gold…that then started the gold rush in Warrandyte.

“They had sections of the creek, it was tent city for about five kilometres, between here and what is now Ringwood.

To add an extra pinch of excitement to the tour, descendants of Louis Michel, his great-great-great-grand-daughter and her children were on the tour.

Living in Eltham, it is fascinating to see that Warrandyte’s gold history still maintains a local connection.

With the tour torch successfully handed to his children, it looks like the Gold Mine Tour will be around for the next 42 years, we only scratched the surface of Warrandyte’s mining history but with the knowledgeable Hanson’s at the helm, I look forward to learning more about the history of Warrandyte’s gold mines in years to come.

 

A tail-wagging success

By CLAIRE BLOOM

THE PET SHOW is a long standing fixture of the Warrandyte Festival.

I can’t recall exactly when it started, but I suspect I have MC’d this event for more than 30 years.

And a wonderful and heart warming number of decades it has been.

This year, we again had sponsorship from the Warrandyte Veterinary Clinic who provided some wonderful hampers for the prestigious Best in Show Award.

This year’s big winner being a gorgeous spoodle puppy named Monty.

Other prizes included the Most Unusual Pet, going to a pigeon pair of ferrets (oops maybe don’t mention the pigeons.)

The usual categories such as Dog Most Like its Owner (loved the couple of Wonder Women.) and Shaggiest and Waggiest dogs were lots of fun.

The Loudest Dog in Warrandyte was ear piercing and won by a most vocal fox terrier.

This little rascal’s name is suppressed in case the Dog Ranger gets any ideas.

Well, not really, but it was certainly a noisy little dog.

Of course, Best Trained Dog always excites our imagination, Big Boy Bosley seems to have a new trick each year, and was happy to play dead when his Mum shot him (with her index finger, of course).

Molly, another spoodle, was most attentive as her trainer placed a treat on both front paws, and waited for the command to eat.

I thought I might try this with my black lab, but it’s never going to happen.

Overall, lots of bragging rights as most dogs (and the ferrets) managed to excel at something, including Dog with the Most Appealing Eyes or Best Groomed Dog in Warrandyte.

A big thanks to Judges, WHS Principal Dr Stephen Parkin and Warrandyte Vet nurse, Kimberley and their assistants Mrs Suzanne Martin and Bree.

 

 

Council representation under review


THE VICTORIAN Electoral Commission (VEC) is conducting an Electoral Representation Review of Nillumbik Shire Council.

In this review, the VEC will look at Council elements such as the number of councillors, the number of wards,  where the wards are located and how many councillors represent each ward.

The VEC conduct this review of every Council in the state every 12 years.

Submissions for the Preliminary Report are being accepted until 5pm, Wednesday, March 13 and can be submitted to the VEC in writing or through their website.

VEC Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately AM is encouraging all Nillumbik Shire residents to get involved, as this review will determine how residents are represented by Council.

“The opportunity to have your say doesn’t come around too often, so it’s important to have a broad range of community members contributing to the shape of their local democracy.

“If you are interested in the future electoral structure of your local area, I encourage you to get involved.

“Public submissions are a vital part of the review process, providing valuable local knowledge and perspectives,” he said.

At the last review in 2008, the VEC report recommended the Shire reduce the number of Wards from nine to seven.

Council are vying to maintain the status quo, passing a motion at the February 26 Ordinary Meeting to submit to the VEC that it retains the seven single councillor ward structure.

The submission continues to summarise that current structure is “consistent with seven distinct geographical communities of interest”, that under a single councillor per ward, it is easy for that person to represent the diverse interests of the wards occupants and that under the current system “responsibility for an issue is less likely to be passed from one councillor to another”.

Yet, current submissions from residents do not support this view.

Vince Bagusauskas is submitting a multimember structure be introduced into the ward structure and proposes this would lead to members serving for the “greater good of the community” as “all have to consider all views”.

Narelle Campbell is submitting a proportional representational model, similar to the Federal Senate.

“The Senate model in Nillumbik would provide equal representation of urban and rural residents at council.

“This would go some way towards ensuring urban residents and landowners, and rural residents and landowners are fairly represented and their needs inform local priorities, decisions and laws”.

Local activist and former Greens candidate in the 2018 State election, Ben Ramcharan also supports the concept of proportional representation and is currently campaigning for Nillumbik residents to endorse the idea.

“Political views in Nillumbik are deeply divided between pro-environment and pro-development.

“Each election, the council seems to switch between the two points of view. This causes a lack of continuity, which is a big problem.”

“With proportional representation, there would be a greater diversity of voices and councillors would need to negotiate, as it would be very difficult for either side to get an absolute majority.

“This would result in proposals to council being more acceptable to both sides and less likely to get revoked.

“It would also mean less drastic changes at council elections, resulting in greater continuity for the shire,” he said.

With many shire residents complaining about the town vs country divide and community groups within the Green Wedge fighting with each other and council over ideological differences, the proportional representation model has promise, but is not a golden ticket.

Electoral boundaries, both within and without the Shire are driven — under State law — by the concept of maintaining a consistent voter/councillor ratio and with the population spread as it is within Nillumbik, there will always be more councillors in the more densely populated urban areas.

But this level of change is not part of the current VEC review, although the review offers a great platform to discuss this issue and maybe even begin working on a governing solution to bring about ideological and geographical balance.

“The biggest solvable issue for rural residents is that half of them are not currently represented by their local councillor because of the political divide in Nillumbik.

“Although proportional representation may not solve the problem of rural residents getting less councillors, what it will do is ensure that all rural residents are represented by at least one of their councillors,” said Mr Ramcharan.

If you are interested in posting a submission for the preliminary part of this review you can do it online via the VEC website, by email to: nillumbik.review@vec.vic.gov.au or via post to Victorian Electoral Commission Level 11, 530 Collins Street, Melbourne, 3000.

All submissions must contain your full name, address and contact number.

All submissions will be published on the VEC website or will be available for public inspection at the VEC office in Melbourne.

Following the preliminary submissions, a report will be published by the VEC and a window for submitting responses to this report will open.

The VEC review of Manningham Council is scheduled to take place before the 2020 Municipal Election but a date has not yet been announced.