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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.

Summer scorchers

Mid-summer means we are mid fire season, so staying safe is a must during the fire danger period. While parts of our community work hard to keep us safe and informed, others have been less than helpful. Explore the issue in this compilation of our hot-weather stories.

Be Aware in an Emergency

By COREY BLACKWELL

MANNINGHAM Council is set to launch a new Emergency Aware program which will empower local communities to prepare for the impacts of various emergency situations. 

The program, which will be delivered in partnership with emergency service organisations, will aim to help local residents develop home emergency plans, and work together so they can be better prepared for the effects of fires, floods, storms and other emergencies. 

Mayor Paula Puccini said that the support of the local emergency services partners and local residents was vital to the success of the initiative. 

“It’s great to see these organisations, the Council and local residents coming together to create a stronger and more resilient community,” Cr Puccini said.  

While Warrandyte’s natural beauty is among its best features, it also leaves our community especially vulnerable to bushfires, making the prospect of an emergency plan even more necessary. 

A recent report published by the SES shows that home emergency plans greatly reduce the impact of an emergency and help those affected recover quicker.

According to the report, taking the time to make a plan helps residents to “think clearly, have a greater sense of control and make better decisions when an emergency occurs.” 

With the aid of the program, Warrandyte’s locals will hopefully be relieved of some of the stresses that come with summer’s scorching heatwaves, knowing they are better equipped to handle potential bushfires. 

Cr Puccini said she encouraged all residents in fire or flood prone areas to get involved in the innovative pilot. 

“Emergencies affect the whole community.

“This program reinforces the importance of working together to plan and prepare for emergency events,” she said. 

The program will see the Council work together with emergency organisations, such as the CFA, MFB, Victoria Police, and the Red Cross, to help residents implement preventative strategies.

To find out more about the program and how to get involved call 9840 9333.

Fair weather fools

Hot weather brings tourists flocking to Warrandyte to engage in the age-old tradition of swimming at the Pound.

Not satisfied with having a dip under the bridge or at the tunnel, swimmers have been heading to more secluded areas of North Warrandyte.

The lack of infrastructure at these locations leads to visitors’ cars blocking roads and, dangerously, impeding access for emergency vehicles.

Cars impede emergency access to Normans Reserve

There were several high fire days in early January, and the North Warrandyte Fire Bridge reported major difficulty accessing Normans Reserve.

Captain of North Warrandyte CFA, Trent Burriss, told the Diary that there were many cars parked along the roadside. 

“We just squeezed through, I had to fold some mirrors in… there was also a car parked across the gate,” he said.

Despite Parks Victoria closing the parks, many visitors ignore the signage and park in no standing zones.

People just don’t care, they come from out of the area, I don’t think it is locals that are doing it, that is the hardest things.

But we get a few people fined and then those people don’t come back, and the next people who come down do it,” he said.

“If there is a fire in there, how are we going to put it out?”

He says the parks all along the river are having the same issues.

“Bradleys Lane, Laughing Waters, Koornong Cresent — we’ve had cars parked on blind corners, we could just squeeze the truck through — but it is a no standing zone, and down at the end there were cars parked in the turnaround — it is all clearly signed, I know Jimmy (Bolton) did a lot of work with that down in the Koornong.”

Capt. Burriss says there are more emergencies than just fire when swimming in the river.

“If they are down there swimming and they hurt themselves or they drown, the other emergency services need access as well.”

The Brigade took to social media to try and warn of the risks of blocking access.

“Nearly 80,000 people have seen that post — which is great.”

He thinks that a tow away zone may be a deterrent, however policing the hot-spots needs to be a priority.

 “Parks [Victoria] should be down in the parks telling people to move on — but who is going to listen to the guys in green, unless you have a blue uniform with a gun on your belt, that’s the only time they are going to listen to someone.”

Station Officer at the Warrandyte Police Station, Sergeant Stewart Henderson, said the local police have been patrolling regularly and, since the early January incident, “are pleased to report we haven’t come across any further instances”.

Capt. Burriss wants people who come to Warrandyte on Total Fire Ban days to exercise caution.

“I know they are trying to stay cool — but go to the beach or something — don’t come to one of the highest fire danger spots in the world,” he said.

Plan to survive

AS WE MARK the 10th anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires that devastated communities throughout our Green Wedge, CFA Captains are calling for better education for families in our bushfire-prone areas.

North Warrandyte Captain Trent Burriss told the Diary reaching new residents can be difficult.

“There have been lots of houses for sale, a lot of different people coming into the area — it is a different generation that are moving in now,” he said.

New residents come into the area and are unaware that summer in Warrandyte means being ever-vigilant against the threat of bushfire.

“Unfortunately we can only educate the people who want to be educated, but it doesn’t matter how hard you try,” Warrandyte CFA Captain Adrian Mullens told the Diary.

Capt. Mullens recounted a recent phone call with a resident who was unaware how to respond to a Total Fire Ban day.

“When this guy said ‘we have been here twelve months, my wife is the only one that drives and we have got five kids, how do we know if there is something happening?’; when you get phone calls like that it really makes you start wondering,” he said.

For the record, Capt. Mullens’s advice to his caller: “CFA recommends, on a bad day you make a conscious decision to leave the night before or first thing that morning, don’t wait around until you see smoke and flames, because that is too late”.

Capt. Mullens says a good idea is to educate the children first.

“I have a personal belief that they should be targeting the primary schools, they did it years ago with the ‘Stop, Drop and Roll’… say from Grade 4 up you would have the ability to instil something into the kids — people probably do not get the time to do these things, but if the kids come home and say ‘what’s our fire plan?’, well that’s going to get Mum and Dad’s attention and that is a pretty good way of selling it — to educate the kids, who are going to educate the parents.”

Locals have also been called upon as volunteers for the CFA, but as Capt. Burriss said to the Diary, the brigades struggle to keep up with recruiting.

“The hardest thing is that, and they don’t have time to commit to the fire brigade, and we are a commuter suburb so people go out to work and they just come here to sleep because house prices are higher, meaning they have to work,” he said.

Local CFA brigades offer community education sessions throughout the year, you can also join your Community Fireguard group, and ensure you have a range of options for staying informed during the fire season, such as the Vic Emergency App, the CFA website, or listen to ABC 774 Local Radio for emergency broadcasts.

Check out the Be Ready Warrandyte website, warrandyte.org.au/fire, for tips on making a fire plan for your family.

People and power wilt in heatwave conditions

By DAVID HOGG

WITH WARRANDYTE experiencing many days of temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius this January, Facebook has gone into meltdown with complaints about the heat, power outages and traffic delays.

Tuesday, January 15 was one such day and Warrandyte made the Channel 7 News on two fronts.

With the Fire Danger Rating for Central District classed as Severe and a Total Fire Ban in place, AusNet Services went ahead with an all-day planned power outage affecting around 500 residents to do remedial work in Aton Street and Osborne Road.

Affected residents, who had received prior notification, had realised that this was going to be a difficult day and had been phoning and writing to AusNet for a number of days beforehand asking them to reconsider and reschedule the work.

Jillian Garvey talked to AusNet on January 12 and was advised that it hadn’t been cancelled and would go ahead unless a Total Fire Ban was declared.

Meg Downie took to Facebook and wrote “AusNet are so uncooperative; we’ve had lots of ‘planned outages’ with some on very hot days and it isn’t fair to the frail and elderly who may not be able to go somewhere cooler.”

Despite the community uproar, the planned work did go ahead.

The Diary contacted AusNet Services for comment and Hugo Armstrong, Media and Communications Consultant in their Corporate Affairs section, provided the following statement:

AusNet Services’ Statement on January 15 Power Outage

In maintaining the safety and reliability of the electricity network, we are very sensitive to the need to balance the short term impact of maintenance or upgrade works with the long term interests of the community.

In very hot weather we normally review all planned works requiring customers to be taken off supply, to try to achieve this balance.

On Tuesday, January 15, (a declared Heat Health Day and Total Fire Ban day) approximately two thirds of all planned outages on our network were postponed.

The large planned outage affecting 446 customers in North Warrandyte needed to go ahead however, primarily because the work involved was bushfire mitigation work.

Safety regulations give us less discretion to re-schedule these kinds of works.

We thank affected customers for your patience and understanding.

These decisions are not taken lightly, and are made or reviewed at very senior levels within the company.

We remained mindful of the impact on customers (many of whom contacted us to express their concerns), and were able to complete the work (which included the replacement of three poles in Osborne Road, the installation of multiple bays of new overhead line, and some other works) and restore supply some two or three hours earlier than originally estimated.

The same afternoon a major accident occurred on the Fitzsimons Lane bridge between a bus and a 4WD, closing Fitzsimons Lane completely and causing massive traffic diversions in the area.

Again, hundreds of posts were made on social media, with local residents reporting traffic delays lasting hours on the eastbound approaches to Warrandyte.

A major complaint was traffic attempting, unsuccessfully, to take shortcuts through local streets.

Dianne Trenfield wrote “To all of those who try to jump six cars ahead of your fellow traffic jammers…..cutting up Blair St, Cemetery Rd, McCulloch Street and the cemetery end of Brackenbury St will get you nowhere; but we sure enjoy watching you find that out on your own.”

On Friday, January 25, another 40+ degree day with Severe Fire Danger and a Total Fire Ban, power outages hit Warrandyte and surrounding areas.

In the morning it was the turn of around 3,000 properties north of the river to lose power due to a fault, although this lasted less than an hour.

In the afternoon it was the turn of those south of the river experiencing one of the many load-shedding outages due to failure of supply against demand, and this lasted less than two hours.

Facebook was active with locals asking why our power infrastructure is so fragile, debating coal versus renewables versus nuclear, and

generally critical of State and Federal Governments; particularly as Victoria’s Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio had assured us earlier in the day that there would be no risk of blackouts.

This should serve as a warning to all residents that on hot days — and there may be plenty more to come this summer — we may find ourselves without power.

Everybody’s Fire Plan needs to take this into account.

Remember that a temperature forecast of 33C for Melbourne can mean a temperature approaching or exceeding 40C in Warrandyte.

And whilst some chose to vent their fury on social media, others sought cooler places such as shopping centres, cinemas or took a leisurely dip in the Yarra.

Fail safe

Warrandyte Fire Brigade have ensured they are able to remain operational in case of blackout, thanks to a generator purchased with a grant from the Warrandyte Community Bank.

The significant grant of $39,545 from the bank has allowed the brigade to install a 90kVA power plant to run the station in the case of a power outage.

Until the generator was installed, blackouts meant the firetrucks were trapped inside the station.

Captain Adrian Mullens told the Diary that the automatic doors can only be raised by the electric motor.

“Our engine bay doors are electric, so our pagers go and ‘boom’ the doors come up, if the power is out we can play around for ten minutes to try and get doors open,” he said.

The crew has to remove the door from its hinges to get the doors open.

“That adds significant time to our turnouts, and we are under a fair bit of pressure to get a truck out the door within four minutes,” he said.

The generator will now allow the station to remain fully functional during blackouts.

“If the power is to go off now within 10 seconds the generator starts up.

“A lot of places will only put in a relatively small generator, and you 

could only run a few lights, that thing runs the whole station and we have got a little bit up our sleeve”.

Capt. Mullens said that to have the ability to keep the station operational during prolonged blackouts was a major consideration.

“When we have members here waiting to go out on strike teams and the power goes out, we need to be able to continue to have power to run the doors, the radios and other appliances,” Capt. Mullens said.

In the event of a major incident power could be down for days or weeks, meaning that the station could become a lifeline for the community in the face of a Black Saturday level event.

“With the generator, we could continue to run the station as long as we can continue to supply fuel.

“The technology for solar and batteries to run three-phase is not there, so we felt the generator was the only way to go,” he said.

The last part of the installation is to put up a screen to help it blend into the surrounding landscape.

“That’s the way it comes from JCV — bright yellow — you can’t do much about that, but we will put up a fence to camouflage it.”

Despite the large outlay, Capt.Mullens says that he hopes there is no need for it.

“Hopefully it doesn’t get used,” he said.

Fresh approach to fire safety

THE DIARY have teamed up with Swinburne University and the CFA to produce a series of animated fire safety videos.

The resultant videos will be launched on the Diary’s website and social media channels, so watch out for them over the coming months.

http://warrandytediary.com.au/fire-safety/Our first video is up now, and explains the fire danger rating system.

Other videos talk about pet safety, preparing your property, using fire blankets, and fire safety for young children.

“We are blown away by the really out-of-the-box ideas these guys have come up with,” says CFA Region 13 Community Education Manager, Rohan Thornton.

Jaime Kroupa has lived in Warrandyte for around 15 years, and is one of the animation students at Swinburne University.

“It was great working with the Diary and CFA guys as ‘clients’ on our projects, it was great to have the feedback as we went along,” said Jaime.

She says being a Warrandyte resident gave her a better understanding of fire danger than some of her more urban cohort.

“I live only a couple of streets away from Flannery Court, and when the fire hit in 2014 I was at home, we expected the danger would be more in the bush areas around North Warrandyte, so we were a bit shocked when it happened so close to us,” she said. 

Jaime’s video was a stand-out amongst the nine videos produced for the Diary, and we look forward to showing you her work later in the year. 

She is still midway through her course, and she hopes she will finish in two years’ time with a Bachelor of Animation.

From there Jaime hopes to be able to work with some of the big Melbourne based animation studios, so she can work on feature films.