News

Storm clean up


Warrandyte was hard hit by Sunday’s hail storm, with hundreds of calls to SES with damage from gold-ball-sized hail to skylights, windows  and cars as well as flooding and damage from falling trees.

The hail also caused tree canopies to be “shredded” with huge amounts of leaf debris blanketing much of the area.

Once the warm weather return, this additional leaf litter will only add to the fuel for any potential bushfires, making the cleanup imperative.

Manningham Residents

Council have stepped up to assist with the removal of green waste, with Manningham Council sending out an army of street sweepers to clear the roadsides on Monday, and have also offered Manningham residents several ways to get rid of the extra leaf litter.

To make use of these offers you must provide proof of residency (any official document with your address on it).

1. Free garden waste drop off and extended opening hours

From Tuesday, January 21 to Saturday, January 25 Manningham residents impacted by the storm can drop off green waste free of charge to Manningham’s Garden waste centre at the corner of Blackburn Road and Websters Road, Templestowe.

Garden waste centre extended opening hours:
Tuesday, January 21 to Friday, January 24:
  • 6.00am to 8.00am
  • 12.00pm noon to 2.00pm
  • 5.00pm to 7.00pm.
Saturday January 25: 
  • 7.00am to 12.00pm noon.

2. Free skip bins to dispose of (green waste) storm debris

Free skip bins will be made available to Manningham residents wishing to dispose of storm debris (green waste only). The bins will be staffed by Council officers from 6.00am to 4.00pm each day from Wednesday, January 22. Please note: Council officers will not be able to assist residents to dispose of any waste.

Skip bin locations (green waste only):

3. Additional garden waste kerbside collection service

Storm affected residents can contact Council  have their garden waste bin collected this weekend. To opt in to the service simply contact the Manningham customer service team and book in your extra collection.

Please note that bin must be put out on the evening of Friday, January 24 and will be collected on either Saturday, January 25 or Sunday, January 26.

Nillumbik residents

Nillumbik Shire Council will arrange a second green waste bin pick up in the North Warrandyte area later in the week, details to follow.

A spokesperson from Nillumbik Council told the Diary, “Affected residents from these areas can use their green waste vouchers to dispose of their storm debris free of charge at the Nillumbik Recycling and Recovery Centre, 290 Yan Yean Rd, Plenty.

“If you have already used your three vouchers, you can access up to three additional vouchers”.

These vouchers are valid for a two-week period from Friday, January 24 to Monday, February 3.

The Recycling and Recovery Centre is open Friday-Monday, 8am-4pm.

You should bring your rates notice with you.

Bushfires: How can I help?


THE MEDIA COVERAGE around the bushfires currently raging around Australia is as intense and terrifying as the fires themselves — as well it should be.
Warrandyte and its surrounding communities have been lucky so far this season and many people want to know how they can help those in Victoria and beyond who have been impacted by the recent and ongoing bushfires.
But the number of groups asking for money, supplies or time is overwhelming and it can be daunting trying to decide who and how to help.
If you are suffering from analysis paralysis then this list is for you.

Five ways you can make a difference

1. Donate to the Bushfire Disaster Appeal

Bendigo Bank and The Salvation Army have partnered to raise funds to assist all communities affected by bushfire in Australia.
Donations can be made through the appeals website or over the counter at a local Bendigo Community Bank branch.

2. Give provisions to the CFA

Coldstream, Belgrave, Lilydale and Gruyere Fire Brigades are currently accepting donated provisions as part of their East Gippsland Bushfire Appeal.
Supplies will begin their journey to Bairnsdale and communities impacted by bushfire on Monday and locals who are looking to contribute have time this weekend to give what they can:

THESE ARE THE ITEMS DESPERATELY REQUIRED:
Long Life Milks / Breakfast Long Life Drinks
Cereals
Non perishable Can items.
Biscuits (Salada, Ritz, Cruskits etc)
Salt / Pepper / Sugar
Small Drink Bottles
Bottled Water
Pet Items – Especially Food, Leashes, Bowls, Bedding
Camp Chairs
Camping Beds
Sun hats
New Kids Thongs and Sandals
Toiletries – Shampoo/Cond, Deodorants
New Make up
New Brushes and Combs
Face Washes & good Towels
Moist Towelettes
Nappies
Tampons and Pads
Any Bedding, Doonas, Blankets or New Pillows (Please mark size on items)
Childrens Pyjamas
Packs of New Childrens Underpants and Socks (Boys or Girls)
Suitcases
Backpacks/handbags/purses
Zip-lock bags (all sizes)
Shopping bags (all sizes)
***STRICTLY NO 2 minute noodles, adult clothing, books or bbq’s – there is already an abundance donated.****
(source: Facebook)

Times and locations for donating:
Coldstream: Currently not accepting due to overwhelming community support and a lack of space.

Lilydale: Saturday, 10am–12pm and Sunday, 10am–11:30am.
Unit 1/100 Beresford road Opposite super soil and behind Melbourne heating.
Please enter from Hiltech place.
There will be a CFA vehicle on site helping to direct you

Gruyere: Saturday, 10am–12pm and Sunday, 10am–11:30am.
103 Killara Road — this is opposite the Gruyere fire station and next to the primary school.
There will be a CFA vehicle on site to direct you.

Belgrave: Saturday, 2pm–6pm and Sunday 10:30am–1:30pm.
4 Bayview Road, Belgrave.

3. Donate to Wildlife Victoria

Wildlife Victoria are currently seeking donations to provide support to Wildlife Shelters impacted by bushfire.
Donations will allow these shelters to repair fences, building and enclosures to continue to the work of caring for Australian wildlife.
Donations can be made through their website.

4. Share your space

Airbnb’s Open Homes program aims to provide free, temporary housing for those affected by bushfire in Victoria.
If you would like more information on how to get involved, visit their website.

5. Don’t become the next problem

The messages of preparation and planning are still relevant and people should continue to prepare their property, update their fire plan and follow-through when the weather, fire danger rating, total fire ban, etc. trigger you to leave.
With potentially still months of hot weather ahead of us, we should not let our guard down on the home front.
If you were not able to attend the Be Ready Warrandyte event held late last year, Eltham CFA will be running a Fire Ready Victoria meeting on Tuesday, January 14 at 7:30pm at 909 Main Road Eltham.
Ensure you understand the risks and know what to do in the event of an emergency.
To get the latest on the Plenty Fires there is a Community Readiness Meeting being held on Sunday, January 5 at the Plenty Hall.
Finally, remember if you do want to go camping in the bush, walking for the day or spend the weekend at the beach — be mindful of the fire danger rating, where the bushfires are, the weather and the current dangers (via the Vic Emergency app).
Smoke from bushfires across Australia are having a detrimental impact on air quality, the current advice is: if the visibility is less than 1.5kilometres limit your time outside.
Stay safe.

Community Housing saved by people power


COMMUNITY GROUPS scrambled to save Warrandyte’s Emergency Housing in Police Street after the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) placed the building up for sale.
President of the Warrandyte Community Association, Carli Lange-Boutle contacted the Diary following the news that the Old Warrandyte Police House was for sale.
However, a week after it was placed on the market, the Minister for Housing, Richard Wynne, had a change of heart and intervened to stop the sale.
A spokesperson for the Director of Housing, said: “The Minister for Housing has carefully considered the matter and agrees that this site remains public housing.
“He has requested the Department to take the property off the market and ensure it remains in public hands to provide a safe place for Victorians who need a roof over their heads.”
The spokesperson said the Department will now get on with the job of completing the necessary work to refurbish the property so it is fit for tenancy.
Ms Lange-Boutle said: “ This community win for a community service is a combined effort from all people involved, especially the representatives from five community groups — Warrandyte Community Association, Warrandyte/Donvale Rotary, Now & Not Yet, Warrandyte Police,  Warrandyte Riverside Market and support from Park Orchards Ratepayers Association, Warrandyte Diary and Doncare, as well as support and assistance from Warrandyte Liberal MP Ryan Smith, Eastern Region Labor MP Sonja Terpstra MP and Labor candidate Stella Yee.
Warrandyte Police OIC, Sergeant Stewart Henderson, said he did some detective work when the property became vacant and discovered that DHHS was considering selling the property.
“When the previous tenants vacated I asked around to see who the next tenants were but didn’t get much of a response, then I discovered that it was going to be sold, so I contacted a few people and talked to people at local events … and the snowball started  from there,” he said.
After being contacted by members of the community, both the Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith and Member for Eastern Metropolitan Sonja Terpstra petitioned the Minister to keep the building in public hands.
The Old Warrandyte Police House Emergency Housing Support Service was community managed by Margory Lapworth but was given to  DHHS when she became ill, under the agreement that it was used for short-term emergency housing for Manningham and Nillumbik residents.
Before the building was used for emergency housing it was the residence attached to Warrandyte Police Station — Officer in Charge of the police station from 1992-2011, Keith Walker lived in the station when it was considered a country station, however Mr Walker said that he was
disgusted when, in 1996, the Kennett Government sold off more than 100 houses attached to Police Stations and State Parks.
He said it caused a huge disruption to him and his family given he was ordered to live in the house when he took the position, so sold the family home in Croydon, only to be effectively evicted three years later when the government sold it off.
“I was delighted to see the support of the community rally to keep the house in the community at that time.”
He said the property was transferred to another Government department and given to Margory Lapworth to manage on their behalf.
“It was supposed to be used for emergency housing for the local community, and it did do that for a while when a family moved in after their house burnt down, but from therein it never seemed to follow the rule, in that there was a tenant who lived there for 15-plus years.
However, he said he was disturbed that when the last round of tenants left, the property had to be decontaminated.
“Where was the DHHS to let it get to that condition?” he asked.
However, Mr Walker said he is very pleased that people have managed to save it again.
Ms Lange-Boutle says that the WCA was “furious” that the property had been placed on the market “without any community consultation” but she says that she is “ecstatic to the point of tears” that community action has delivered such a great result.
The DHHS originally advised that it applied to the Minister of Planning to sell the property because DHHS resources do not allow for them to manage the property when they have areas with a much higher housing demand than Warrandyte.
However, Ms Lang-Boutle says the need for emergency housing is not based on the affluence of the town — the need for short-term emergency housing can affect anyone.
“ Divorce, house fire, loss of employment, death of a spouse, it can happen to anyone at any time,”
she said “To have the ability to stay within our community can be a major benefit, particularly for people with school-aged children,” she said.
Sgt Henderson says the property’s proximity to the police station allows the police members to foster good relationships with the tenants.
He said the whole community came together to support the children of the last family of tenants, with relationships fostered with the Community Church, the football club and local businesses.
Former Labor candidate, Stella Yee has been investigating the social need in the area and says, “there is a significant need for social services in the community”.
According to Doncare’s 2018 annual report, the Manningham based charity provided 3,325 cases of assistance under the category of Emergency Relief Services.
Sgt Henderson said that there is need in the local community.
“The people who are in need are often embarrassed about it, so there is need, it is just not in your face,” he said.
When the WCA first learned of the plan to sell the property, they set up an Emergency Housing Support Service (EHSS) Task Force to stop the sale.
Ms Lange-Boutle tells us this task force will now be submitting a business plan for the community to manage the property.
She floated the idea of a Men’s Shed being established and based in the building while they carry out the refurbishment to make the property suitable for tenancy.

Chris “Chewy Padham (WCA), Therese Dawson (WCA), Ryan Smith MP, Carli Lange-Boutle ( WCA President), Sonja Terpstra MP, Sgt Stewart Henderson, Warwick Leeson (WCA) John Hanson (WCA) and Dick Davies (WCA)

Sgt Henderson thinks that a Men’s Shed is a really needed program. “Mental health for men is a big issue, he said,” I think that would be a brilliant opportunity.”
In a letter obtained by the Diary, Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said in September, the “Department has advised that there are significant maintenance issues, including structural work, graffiti removal, rodent infestation and methamphetamine residue to be cleaned up — this work was estimated to cost up to $200,000”.
The property has since been cleaned up enough to put on the market, but there is still much more work required to make it fit for tenancy.
Mr Smith was originally advised by the Planning Minster that it was not an option to retain the premises once the work was done, “as it is deemed to be too old to continue to remain in public hands, with the preference to purchase new stock”.
However, the pressure from the community has, happily, changed the Minister’s mind and the building is now going to be able to continue supporting vulnerable people in our community in the years to come.

Bushfire Scenario shocks community


By DAVID HOGG
ABOUT 200 people attended a very clever Bushfire Scenario evening at North Warrandyte Family Centre on November 27, presented by Be Ready Warrandyte, a branch of the Warrandyte Community Association.
The evening was intended to inform the community as to what would actually happen in a serious bushfire scenario, rather than give specific detailed advice as to how people should act or how they should write their individual bushfire plans.
It certainly succeeded. Steve Pascoe, Emergency Management and Bushfire Safety Consultant and a survivor of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires at Strathewan, together with Joff Manders, Commander Emergency Management Liaison at Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade, took us on a simulated journey of what will actually happen if and when a serious bushfire hits our region.
Set on the lines of a Geoffrey Robinson Hypothetical, with brilliant and disturbing graphics, photographs, and map simulations on a big screen, these two eminent experts took us step-by-step through each stage of the disaster, from time-to-time calling other experts in their field — police, CFA, local authorities — to the microphone to provide additional clarification.

3 dead, 10 missing, many in hospital, 50 homes gone, many more damaged.

It is Terrible Thursday, February 13, 2020.
This is the second of two very hot spells of weather so far this year, temperature is 39°, wind is a strong south-westerly, Forest Fire Danger  Index is 60 so the fire danger level is at Severe and so those who were going to evacuate on Extreme or Code Red days have not done so.
At 9am a bushfire is reported in Beauty Point Road, Research; trucks are dispatched and on arrival call for more assistance as the fire spreads quickly west and 000 receive calls of further spot fires.
Emergency Services issue a “Watch and Act” for North Warrandyte, Warrandyte, South Warrandyte and Park Orchards, and many people start to leave North Warrandyte by car.
By noon the Watch and Act is upgraded to an Emergency Warning stating: “It is now too late to leave”.
Power is off to the whole district and the water supply is reduced to a trickle.
By 12:30pm the temperature is 40°, humidity is 12 per cent, there is smoke everywhere; Research Road and Kangaroo Ground Road are jammed with cars trying to go south across the bridge.
Others are trying to get north across the bridge to join their families who are trapped on the north side but they are being turned around by Police at the roundabout.
A 4WD with horse float has jackknifed on Research Road.
The north-westerly wind change comes through and the flank of the fire now becomes a wide fire front which the wind pushes as a huge storm towards North Warrandyte.

The fire has quickly doubled in size and embers are spotting up to 10km ahead of the front.
Firefighters have now been pulled back as the fire roars into North Warrandyte.
It is evening: 2,350 hectares have been burned, three bodies have been pulled from cars, 10 people are missing possibly in the remains of their homes, 50 houses have been lost and hundreds are damaged.The area will be locked down for at least a week, possibly a month as there are trees and powerlines across roads and embers still burning.
Resident s cannot access the fireground, and any who have survived and decide to leave the area will not be allowed to return. 
Councils will provide emergency relief centres in due course, possibly at Diamond Creek Stadium and Eltham Leisure Centre, and at Manningham DISC and the Pines Shopping Centre, where victims can obtain assistance, advice, comfort, and some food.
Power may not be restored for weeks and emergency crews will be busy removing fallen trees, erecting new powerlines, dousing burning embers, removing any dangerous trees from roadsides and removing the remains of many cars.

The presentation was very informative and made most residents more aware of what could happen.
The photos were, at times, disturbing.
The evening finished with snacks and drinks outside, and the emergency services and council personnel were available to answer any further question.
Well done Be Ready Warrandyte, and congratulations to all involved with this very professional and informative scenario session.

 

Images by Jock Macneish

Nillumbik adopts Green Wedge Plan


FOLLOWING extensive community consultation, Nillumbik Shire Council adopted its Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP) at the Council meeting on November 26 by four votes to three, but not without controversy as the meeting was interrupted by a group of eight protesters.
The new plan will provide direction for the management of the Green Wedge over the next decade.
It includes a vision, principles, goals, objectives and key actions and has been informed by extensive community engagement over the past 18 months, including an independent panel to provide recommendations to Council.
Council received 746 submissions in response to the draft GWMP during the six-week community consultation period in July and August and their Future Nillumbik Committee also heard 80 verbal submissions in September.
The plan was further revised in response to the feedback received from the community.
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan said Council appreciated the feedback and had listened to what the community had to say.
“While there have been divergent views on how the Green Wedge should be managed, one thing is clear — our community is passionate about this unique landscape in which we live, work and visit,” Cr Egan said.
Nillumbik’s Green Wedge is one of 12 across Melbourne and covers 91 per cent of the Shire.
Land uses include conservation, agriculture, rural living and tourism.
Now that the GWMP has been adopted, annual implementation plans will be prepared.
Max Parsons of the Nillumbik Proactive Landowners Group (PALs) told the Diary “PALs fully supports the new GWMP as adopted at the Council meeting on November 26.
“ The new GWMP provides a comprehensive strategy for the future of the Green Wedge that represents an appropriate balance of all the factors that contribute to living in the landscape.
“Acknowledgement of the role that landowners play in a successful green wedge has been long overdue and was sadly lacking in the previous plan.
“This has been achieved whilst simultaneously balancing the importance of biodiversity and significant important vegetation with a landowners’ right to live and thrive within the same green wedge.”
Don Macrae from the Wedge Tales blog — which is sponsored by the Warrandyte Community Association, the Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group tells us that “the most positive outcome of the entire program has been community involvement in the plan” and gives it tacit approval but awards no cigar.
“To spend in the vicinity of $500,000 on this project was outrageous.”
Following up with Mr Macrae, he has confirmed this figure is a “conservative” educated guess based on Council approving consultation fees of $345,000 in 2017 and factoring in the costs of running the community panel.
A spokesperson for the protestors told us “Council disregarded the results of their own community consultation process, wasting over $300,000 of ratepayers’ money.”
We reproduce Green Wedge Plan Adopted by Council, no cigar by Don Macrae — which has been edited for print publication and an account from the Green Wedge protest group in attendance at the November 26 council meeting.

Council’s Green Wedge Plan falls short of community expectations

By DON MACRAE
WEDGE TALES BLOG
AMID SCENES of protest, at its November meeting Nillumbik Council “adopted” a new Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP).
The gallery was packed and the Council divided, but the motion to “adopt” the GWMP was passed along the now familiar 4–3 lines.
Nillumbik’s first GWMP was adopted in 2010 and was intended to serve as a basis until 2025.
For reasons never explained the current Nillumbik Council decided to prepare a replacement, which after a year-long project has now been formally adopted by Council.
This new GWMP shifts focus away from the natural environment and towards the expectations of resident landowners, as expressed in the phrase “Living in the Landscape”, the title of the current Council Plan.
The best that can be said about it is that it is unlikely to do much harm.
It is a document of only 26 pages which is more like notes towards a plan rather than an actual plan.
As a pamphlet or discussion document it is better than the published draft, but it is insubstantial.
A reference to “buffer zones”, a concept that featured in the draft, designed to allow more subdivision in the vicinity of the urban growth boundary and which attracted massive community criticism, has been removed — a distinct improvement.
But, the idea that some areas of the Shire zoned Rural Conservation should be rezoned remains, although it really does not look like becoming a serious proposal.
The document suggests that there is “land dotted throughout the RCZ that is already cleared for agriculture”,  and which should be rezoned Green Wedge Zone (GWZ) so that land owners can engage in agriculture without getting a permit.
To create a rezoning proposal would require significant effort but there does not appear to be any intention to embark on such a project.
Furthermore, if the intention is to allow agriculture to proceed on suitable land it is entirely within the Council’s control to expedite permit assessments.
Sustaining agriculture on agricultural land in green wedges is a challenging issue, but this rezoning idea probably has more to do with satisfying the “less regulation” constituency than with promoting agriculture.
The Green Wedge townships are important elements in the Shire and need to work as attractive gateways to the Green Wedge for visitors as well as providing amenity for residents.
The GWMP recognises also that [the townships] will need to be the focus of additional ageing-in-place facilities for Shire residents, as well as for increasing population.
The State Government mandates that green wedge councils must  prepare a Green Wedge Management Plan.
But this GWMP appears to have been planned as a public relations exercise.
The focus of the project was a community consultation program culminating in a “Community Panel”, which made recommendations to Council.
Then came the publication of a draft and the hearing of community submissions on the draft.
The total cost of the project has not been made public, but if all internal costs as well as consultant charges are included it is probably approaching $500,000.
As was pointed out in several of the submissions on the draft, the State Government’s Planning Practice Note 31: Preparing a Green Wedge Management Plan was not followed, contrary to Cr Clarke’s claim at the council meeting.
No Steering Committee was established and no formal collaboration with relevant bodies was embraced.
Management of the program appears to have been overseen by an external consultant without a planning background, and in the face of the loss of long term Council planning staff.
One clear outcome of the community consultation program was to confirm that the Shire overwhelmingly values the environment and in principle supports the planning scheme.
Only a very few survey respondents complained of too much regulation, so it was surprising that the draft GWMP  contained significant elements which did not respect this.
The adopted GWMP is less offensive.
But, at the conclusion of the project, what have we got for all that expense and effort?
This has been a council intent on change.
Its cavalier treatment of two development applications in 2017 and its apparent attack on its own organisation makes this plain.
It is believed that council staff turnover in 2017/18 exceeded 25 per cent, and eventually included all Senior Managers.
To replace the substantial, previous GWMP with this brief document has the appearance of a political act.
The most positive outcome of the entire program has been community involvement.
There were 688 responses to an online survey and 181 people attended community workshops.
There was a total of 746 submissions in response to the draft, mostly critical.
Many Shire residents have an increased understanding of how our Green Wedge works.
But to spend in the vicinity of $500,000 on this project was outrageous.

Environment protesters disrupt Council meeting

By HANNAH GRAHAM
AT THE NILLUMBIK Council meeting on November 26, a group of eight protesters interrupted Councillors before they voted to pass their draft Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP).
Eight people, dressed in cloaks eco-printed with local native plants, walked into the meeting when the Green Wedge Management Plan agenda item was announced.
They broke into song; singing about saving the Green Wedge, and asking why the majority of the community were ignored during the consultation process in regards to this plan’s review.
Both Mayor Karen Egan and Cr Jane Ashton promptly left the room when the protesters walked in.
There was both support and disapproval amongst the audience in the gallery.
Some joined in on the singing, as lyric sheets seem to have been circulated.
The protesters then silently turned their backs on the councillors whilst standing in a line.
They wore signs on their backs which read, “Don’t turn your back on community”.
Signs on their front read , “$300k+ Community Consultation”, “Community Panel Ignored”, “80% of Submissions Ignored”, “You speak for us not just your pals”, “Next Election: October 2020”.
After standing for a couple minutes, the protesters were warned to leave the room by Mayor Karen Egan — who had since returned.
An agitated man in the gallery attempted to shove protesters apart and the protesters proceeded to walk out of the gallery in silent procession.
One of the protesters had this to say about the disruption.
“We don’t want to upset the peace by going against the council meeting process, but we feel that the councillors have left us no other choice.
“They disregarded the results of their own community consultation process, wasting over $300,000 of ratepayers’ money.
“The majority of the community objected to the draft plan which seemed intent on looking at the Green Wedge as capital for a minority of private landholders, rather than vital native habitat, and a carbon sink.
“At this time of mass extinction and an unsafe climate the revised Green Wedge Management Plan was an opportunity for Council to prioritise the environment for the safety of all Victorians.
“That’s what the community wanted, but they ignored us.
“We disrupted the councillors in this way because we knew they couldn’t ignore us”.