News

New ward structure for Manningham Council


MANNINGHAM COUNCIL will have nine wards, instead of three, at the next local election.
Manningham Council announced the changes today, requesting input from the community regarding the names of the nine new wards.
Council has to submit the suggested name changes by May 21, through Manningham’s Your Say website.
The changes were announced by Minister of Local Government, Adem Somyurek on April 22.
Manningham joins nine other councils across Victoria who will not only have a new council in October, but a new representational structure.
Representational structure has been a topic of debate in the last 12 months, firstly with debate over making all local councils single member wards or single ward representation in early drafts of recently assented Local Government Act 2020 and during representational reviews conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) in 2019.
Given Manningham has just finished a representational review, and – along with many other councils — objected to the requirement to become a single member wards council, it is a shock that this change has taken place.
Manningham Mayor, Paul McLeish said: “Our existing ward boundaries have been changed by the Victorian Government despite the Electoral Representation Review, conducted last year by the Victorian Electoral Commission, recommendation to stay with the current three multi councillor wards,”
In early April, the VEC announced their representational reviews were being wound-up as part of the new Local Government Act 2020.
When the changes to local government structure were announced on April 22, Mr Somyurek said:

“Single member wards support accountability, equity and grassroots democracy.
“This is about giving people more confidence in local government, because strong councils build strong communities.”

It is perplexing why the Minister has decided to take this action, given that there was such obvious opposition to a single member ward system in Manningham, supported by the 2019 VEC representational review which states in its final report that:

“There was also unanimous support for retaining a multi-councillor ward arrangement for Manningham City Council.
“The VEC’s analysis, along with submissions from the community and the Council, indicate that the current electoral structure is functioning well and suits the diverse landscape and demography of the local council.”

However, with the new structure now coming into effect in October, Cr McLeish is encouraging all businesses, residents and community groups within the municipality to have a say on what the mandated new nine wards will be called.

“The Minister has now given us just a couple of weeks to provide a list of ward names for Manningham.
“We want everyone in our community to share their suggestions into what our wards should be named.
“I encourage everyone to think about what represents your local area in Manningham and make a name suggestion before 21 May.
“We will then put a recommendation to the Minister for names of the nine new Manningham wards, which will come into effect at the next Council elections in October this year,” Cr McLeish said.

The Diary will have more on this story in its mid-month bulletin and in the June edition of the Warrandyte Diary.
In the meantime, head to Manningham’s Your Say page
to have your say on what our nine new wards are to be named.
Submissions will close at 12noon on Thursday 21 May 2020.

Jumping Creek Road works commence


TRAVELLERS between Wonga Park and Warrandyte now have an extra 10km added to their journey times as the first stage of construction of the road upgrade has now commenced.

Work started on April 21 with a 350 metre stretch of road between Potters Cottage and Nelson Drive closed to through traffic, and diversions will remain in place until complete, which is currently scheduled for end of August.

The diversion route is lengthy, and involves a 10km detour along Ringwood-Warrandyte, Croydon, Wonga, Brysons and Yarra Roads.

There will be access through the works for emergency vehicles at all times, and access for residents within the work zone will be allowed for most of the time.

This is a continuation of Stage 1A of this massive project which will eventually rebuild the entire length of Jumping Creek Road from Ringwood-Warrandyte Road through to Homestead Road.

Stage 1A commenced over a year ago with some minor works including the relocation of electricity, gas and water lines.

These works will involve removing the existing road pavement in order to significantly lower part of the road to improve sightlines for road users, new drainage infrastructure including pits, pipes, kerb and channel, retaining walls, safety barriers, a pedestrian path and landscaping.

But those living along the diversion route have expressed their concern on Facebook about the extra traffic and the speed with which it travels.

Leanne Torpey, who lives on a bend in Brysons Rd close to a blind corner posted a video showing the new traffic problems and received over a hundred comments and replies.

Most of these were supportive but, as is typical with Facebook, a few were abusive with one respondent suggesting “You’ve clearly bought on a blind corner, therefore it’s your issue” missing the fact that some of these people have been there for 25 or more years and the traffic was not an issue when they bought.

Kerrie Reid posted “Sadly the last 48 hours has seen a HUGE increase in the amount of traffic on Brysons Road upon the closure of Jumping Creek Rd.

“It’s like the Monaco GP has been relocated to Brysons Rd — not just for the day, but for months!”

Fiona Jane agreed, “Totally ridiculous that all the traffic is being diverted down Brysons which is narrow and winding with broken edges.

“Traffic should be going down Yarra Rd — wider, straighter and can carry the traffic load.”

A number of people have commented on the fact that Brysons Rd has a number of horse properties and there have been a few near misses with fast cars trying to overtake slow horse floats.

Leanne Torpey spoke to the Diary and told us that residents had received advice about the diversions from Manningham Council only a couple of weeks in advance, which was too late for residents to make submissions to the next council meeting.

“Cyclists are now riding along the footpath because the road is too dangerous” she told us.

She has been trying to get the speed limit on Brysons Rd changed from 60 km/h to 50 km/h for the duration of the diversions.

However the Department of Transport has told her that they can’t change the speed limit as that requires the approval of Manningham Council.

Manningham Council has told us that it “has not proposed any changes to speed limits along the detour routes and any proposed speed limit changes would require Department of Transport approval.”

The original Jumping Creek Road Development Framework was endorsed by Manningham Council in 2016 and arose because between January 2009 and December 2013, a total of 17 crashes resulting in casualties were reported at Jumping Creek Road, including one fatal crash.

Rachelle Quattrocchi, Director City Services at Manningham Council, told the Diary, “The Jumping Creek Road project aims to improve safety for all road users and upgrade the infrastructure of the road in a way that that supports the local area.

“The works underway between Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and Nelson Drive form part of stage 1 of the project and are the first step of the upgrade of this important local road in Manningham.

“The design for future stages is currently in development with further consultation planned in early 2021.”

 

Safety push for Research-Warrandyte Road

By DAVID HOGG

AS MENTIONED in our February edition, Ben Ramcharan, Australian Greens candidate for Warrandyte, together with local residents Renee Peta and Simone Mariani had written to VicRoads, State MPs and MLCs, and local councillors and mayors calling for improved road safety for local residents, road users and pedestrians following a number of serious accidents on the road.

In mid-April, Mr Ramcharan posted on Facebook that they had just heard that the Department of Transport (DoT) will continue to work with both Nillumbik Council and Victoria Police to determine the need to implement road safety improvements in the area.

“This is a great win for our community but it’s important to keep the pressure up.

“What we’ve had now is an acknowledgement from the department that they’ve heard us.

“Let’s keep pushing; our community deserves to be safe and I know this is something that can be achieved,” he said.

The post has resulted in over 30 varied and differing comments.

Matthew Magilton was sceptical.

“I think the DoT borrowed from one of Utopia’s scripts; promising substantially nothing but using warm and glowing terms.”

Cathie Joy wanted to see the speed limit on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road lowered, whereas Robyn Galley suggested that returning the speed limit to 80 km/h on Research-Warrandyte Road would be a start.

Another correspondent wanted to know how they proposed to make improvements, and was concerned that the move might result in ugly railing being put up everywhere.

Jillian Garvey was keen to ensure that any changes to Research-Warrandyte Road do not result in trucks using Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road instead.

Sharron Weight believes that the North East Link is the only way to stop the trucks driving through Warrandyte, and we should mention that there has been speculation in the press over the past few weeks that in view of the Coronavirus costs, the North East Link project may be in doubt.

Ryan Smith, State Member for Warrandyte, wrote to Benita Quine whose family were victims of the oil tanker rollover in January, advising “It seems some measures will be taken to slow vehicles down on that road which is a good outcome, given yours is not the only accident I am aware of on that stretch.

“I have raised the matter of these local truck movements and the inexperience of some heavy vehicle drivers with the Victorian Transport Association.

“They are currently in discussion with the government about increased training requirements for new drivers, and I hope this will, in time, lead to our roads being that much safer.”

So the views expressed are all very varied.

One thing is certain in that whilst almost everyone agrees that something needs to be done, there is absolutely no detail as to what should be done and locals will have some very firm views once the details are released.

Hopefully the DoT, Nillumbik Council and Victoria Police will get their heads together and come up with some specific proposals and advice.

 

 

Helping our most vulnerable and marginalised


Doncare is particularly concerned about the vulnerable members in our community and people who are now being impacted financially, socially and emotionally by situations arising from COVID–19.

Many of whom, may not have required assistance before.

Last financial year, 98 per cent of clients seeking assistance from Doncare’s Information and Emergency Relief program were in receipt of a government pension, with 30 per cent receiving a Newstart Allowance.

That figure is set to rise, as Covid-19 continues to affect the level of unemployment.

Every day, Doncare’s Community Support Workers hear stories of family violence, financial hardship, homelessness or people facing the real risk of becoming homeless through the inability to pay rent or mortgages.

They see parents who cannot feed their children, pensioners who have not put on heating or who have had to choose between paying their utility bills and eating.

Many seniors tell us that they would normally spend time in local libraries or shopping centres to keep warm, but with Stage 3 restrictions in place, they are housebound.

Now that Victorian children are learning remotely, financially vulnerable families will also see significant increases in utility usage and expenditure as the winter months approach.

On average, Doncare feeds over 3,000 individuals a year and has already experienced a 200 per cent increase since February in the numbers of people approaching its Emergency Relief program for essential food items.

At the same time however, as suppliers and major donors take their own precautionary measures and downsize operations, Doncare is rapidly running out of food to distribute.

A Doncare spokesperson told the Diary thst now, more than ever, Doncare needs the community’s help to maintain the health and wellbeing of people experiencing hardship by donating food and household items.

“We have been very fortunate that Bendigo Bank’s Warrandyte and Doncaster East and Templestowe Village branches donated funds and Noel Jones Doncaster jumped to the rescue with a significant donation, even securing a huge amount of food from Metropolitan Foods Pty Ltd with the funds they donated.”

Year 9 students, Lucas and Angus also popped in to the Doncare office with Toby, Vice Captain of Whitefriars College.

The students initiated a fundraising BBQ and partnered with Youth Resource Officers from Warrandyte and Forest Hill Police Departments.

They raised $413.40 for Doncare’s food pantry.

Thanks to Mary-Anne Lowe, Warrandyte locals can now donate non-perishable items to Doncare’s food pantry by visiting the drive-thru drop zone at Bramleigh Estate, Warrandyte.

Donations will be gratefully accepted seven days a week from 7am–7pm (contactless).

Doncare’s new CEO Gaby Thomson said: “We are extremely grateful to Mary-Anne for creating this fabulous initiative, and to all the families, businesses and community groups that have already donated.

“This level of support really and truly echoes the sentiments of Doncare’s philosophy ‘for the community, by the community’,” she said.

Donations can also be delivered to Doncare’s main office at Suite 4, Level 1, 687 Doncaster Road, Doncaster.

Whilst the MC2 building is closed due to Covid-19, staff will gladly meet you downstairs to collect donations.

Meanwhile, Doncare has adopted physical distancing and other transmission reduction measures across the organisation and will be providing remote service delivery to clients in Family Services; Counselling; the Social Support for Seniors program and Community Visitors Scheme.

DAWN mentors will also continue to support women in recovery from family violence.

Should you require emergency relief or assistance with food parcels and food vouchers, please call Doncare on 9856 1500.

For more information, visit
www.doncare.org.au

 

The bank that cares for its community in a crisis

By SUSAN FOREMAN

YOUR LOCAL community bank has long been the lifeblood for the community, and especially in our current State of Emergency, the bank is doing all it can to help.

Community Liaison Officer at the Warrandyte Community Bank, Dee Dickson said the branch is staying in touch with Bendigo Bank head office, their staff, customers and community partners to ensure they are able to continue to service and support customers safely.

“Behind the scenes we have been speaking with our not-for-profit partners to understand the needs of locals, how this presents now and how it is likely to present moving forward.

“Recently we have contributed $2,000 to Now and Not Yet for the provision of emergency food parcels for local people and families in need.

“We have also reached out to Doncare and provided $1000 toward the distribution of food parcels and donated $2,000 to the Rotary Op Shop Food Bank to ensure they are well stocked with non-perishables.

“We’re exploring other ways to fund projects that support those in need and lift spirits — demonstrating what we can achieve together.”

If you know of someone, including your own family, that is in need, there is help available:

  • Now and Not Yet:  148–150 Yarra
    St, Warrandyte — for food and
    support.
  • Rotary Op Shop:  Rear of the
    Bridge shops, 264 Yarra St,
    Warrandyte  — for food (non-
    perishables on  site)  and food
    orders (purchased  and  delivered
    by op shop  volunteers)
  • Doncare:  Manningham City
    Square, Suite 4 level 1/687
    Doncaster Rd, Doncaster
    — for food  and crisis intervention
  • Pettet Family Foundation, Park
    Orchards — Crisis intervention
    and inclusion services for children
    and their families.
    Contact Geoff Parkes
    geoff.parkes@bigpond.com
    or 0418 392 748.

For 17 years, the Warrandyte Community Bank Branch has been committed to the care of locals and the groups of which they are members, especially when things get tough.

“As we respond to COVID-19, please know our commitment to our customers, will not change.

“If you need assistance our branch staff are here to help you navigate these uncertain financial times,” Dee said.

The branch is open Monday–Friday from 9:30am–5pm or staff can be contacted on 9844 2233.

 

CFA still there for community


In these crazy and weird times that is COVID-19, many organisations and businesses are finding ways to adapt and remain relevant.

Warrandyte CFA is no different.

Despite all events, face-to-face meetings and weekly training being cancelled, the volunteers down at the station are finding new ways to adapt to isolation.

With the “stay at home” campaign in full force, the brigade is experiencing a downturn in call outs.

Community Safety Officer, Rebecca-Leigh Dawson said: “The community is being careful and doing the right thing”.

But rest assured, the volunteers down at the station are still here for you.

They are still working hard behind the scenes to ensure they are ready for any emergencies.

Captain of Warrandyte CFA, Adrian Mullens, highlighted the need for the volunteers to stay connected and continue to upskill.

He said, “The brigade management team continue to hold meetings online via Zoom, ensuring all operational needs of the station are being met.”

“We’re also maintaining a focus of member wellbeing and have assigned a select group of officers to remain in touch with all our volunteers,” he said.

The volunteers continue to train in whatever capacity they can.

There are multiple opportunities, from online training programmes available from CFA corporate, to joining in with CFA Group area led lessons.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The officers of Warrandyte CFA have taken it upon themselves to prepare localised training, designed for the unique characteristics of Warrandyte.

The interactive online tailored workshops include local infrastructure with specific maps, details of existing sprinkler and booster systems of sites around town such as the schools.

Warrandyte’s 1st Lieutenant, Will Hodgson said: “Our volunteers aren’t necessarily skilled in training preparation, so to undertake this task in preparing lessons for their fellow members in their own time is extraordinary”.

The training is attended by the Captain, Lieutenants, Officers and firefighters — offering plenty of opportunities for the members to effectively learn as a team.

“The adapted training is thorough with detailed framework, quality images, and thought-provoking questions,” Will said.

But it’s not just training and meetings, the team at Warrandyte CFA remain committed to providing educational resources as well as supporting some much-loved annual events.

The unprecedented challenge of the CFA being unable to shake their tins for the Good Friday Appeal, was quickly transformed to an online fundraising portal by the Royal Children’s Hospital.

A Virtual Tin Shake became the platform and the team down at the station were keen to ensure they could still help raise funds for the kids.

202 Victorian CFA brigades raised a total of $195,000 for the appeal, with Warrandyte CFA contributing a collection of $4,290 from our supportive community.

Warrandyte CFA’s efforts placed them second on the urban brigades leader board.

Will Hodgson, who has personally experienced the exceptional services of the Royal Children’s Hospital with his own children.

“I’m proud of what our members have achieved for the appeal.

“To raise more than we normally would in these unprecedented times is credit to the team’s unbreakable comradery and spirit”.

In these unpredictable times, your CFA volunteers are still here for you.

Warrandyte CFA’s members continue to undertake the groundwork to ensure they continue to be prepared to service Warrandyte.

The brigade wishes to express their appreciation to the Warrandyte community for supporting their volunteers in their efforts.

 

 

Fireball delayed

By JAIME NOYE

IT IS NO SURPRISE with all the uncertainty going on, this year’s Fireball event will be postponed.

The Fireball committee is mindful that so many businesses are struggling and respectfully recognises that it is not the right time to seek sponsorships and donations.

Chair of the Fireball Committee, Michelle Lambert said “With everything so uncertain, it’s not possible that they will be back on their feet and ready to support anything other than rebuilding their businesses by October”.

“Hopefully, by this time next year things will be improving, and people will be getting ready to celebrate and move forward” she said.

But there is good news.

Fireball is delighted to share that their extremely generous major sponsor; Bramleigh Estate, Warrandyte’s newest wedding venue, will continue to support a reschedule of this wonderful community event.

This means  Fireball is still able to maximise the profits being donated to the Greater Warrandyte CFA’s.

“Mary-Anne from Bramleigh, is the gift that keeps on giving” Michelle said.

“Considering the current climate, to still host Fireball free of charge, is an incredible demonstration of Bramleigh giving back to the Warrandyte community”.

Fireball made a commitment to the volunteers of the Wonga Park Fire Brigade to facilitate the purchase of a new light tanker.

Together with Bramleigh, the committee intend to follow through on their promise in 2021.

The event has been rebooked for Friday, October 22, 2021.

Fireball will continue to keep the community informed on event updates, all opportunities and ticket sales as we move through the aftermath of COVID-19.

Captain of Wonga Park CFA, Aaron Farr said: “We are ever so grateful for Fireball and Bramleigh’s continued support to honour the original offer, in light of the delay caused by COVID-19 and the tough financial environment”.

The Fireball Committee looks forward to resuming event preparations in 2021, to support the volunteers of CFA.

To keep updated on event announcements, the community can register their information at
www.fireball.org.au.

 

 

Council services impacted by COVID-19


WITH COVID-19 causing many disruptions to daily life, as we all try to “flatten the curve”, local councils still need to provide important services to the community, albeit at arm’s length.

As the doors closed to visitors at Council run facilities, the Diary asked Manningham and Nillumbik for details of how residents continue to interact with them during these restrictions.

Manningham City Council  

Manningham Council CEO Andrew Day said Council has modified operations to continue to provide core services to the community.

“Local government provides many important services and we understand we have a critical role to play in supporting our community at this time.”

He says Council is doing its part to contain the spread of the virus and reduce the risk to the health of the community, including the implementation of crisis management planning, in collaboration with the Victorian Government.

“Our management team is also meeting daily to direct and monitor our response to the situation as it unfolds, and for future planning.”

Mr Day said Council is continuing to provide as many services to the community as possible.

“To do this safely we are continually adapting our service delivery models and following the advice of the Department of Health and Human Services at all times,” Mr Day said.

For example, he said services like Maternal and Child Health visits are now being conducted over the phone or via video link and essential services for our elderly community, like Meals on Wheels, will continue to run with even stricter safe food handling standards.

“Since mid-March, there have been many impacts to Council events, facilities and services and we understand these impacts are being felt deeply by our community.

“At this time we ask that the community stay safe, practice appropriate social distancing, particularly in Manningham’s beautiful open spaces”

Mr Day urged residents to stay connected with family and friends via phone, email, video link or social media.

“We are all in this together, as a community we will support one another, and as a Council we will do what it takes to look after those who are most vulnerable at this time.”

For the most up to date information about COVID-19 and its impacts to Council services, events and facilities please visit:
manningham.vic.gov.au/coronavirus 

Customer service centres closed

To help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community Council’s customer service centres have closed until further notice.

This change was made following further restrictions on non-essential services and the government advice for the community to stay at home where possible.

Council rates, fees and charges 

Mr Day said Manningham Council is acutely aware of the devastating financial impacts the COVID-19 situation is having on the community.

In response, Council is considering a range of options to assist residents and community members during this difficult time.

He said more information will be made available as details are finalised.

“For those in our community who are already impacted, please contact Council to discuss hardship options,” he said.

Customers can contact Council via:

Website:

manningham.vic.gov.au

Email:

manningham@manningham.vic.gov.au 

Phone: 9840 9333

Nillumbik Shire Council

Nillumbik Communications Officer Natalie Town said Nillumbik Shire Council has closed its Customer Service Counter at the Civic Drive offices in Greensborough.

She told the Diary most Council staff are working from home where possible, and while some services have been significantly impacted, it is business as usual for many departments.

Most Council services can be conducted online including payments for pet registrations, rates, parking fines and other infringements.

If residents are experiencing hardship, they should call the rates team on 9433 3285.

If you are having technical trouble making an online payment, call Customer Service on 9433 3111 and they can talk you through the process or provide other information.

Mayor Karen Egan said the health and wellbeing of the community and Council staff was a priority.

“Council is committed to reducing the risk of the coronavirus spreading and we appreciate your patience during this difficult time.

“We urge residents to stay home and follow the recommendations of the State and Federal Governments.

“At the same time, we encourage you to look out for your neighbours, and others in the community, who are struggling.

“We will continue to monitor and update you as the situation changes over coming days and weeks,” she said.

Essential Council services are continuing, and these include:

  • Kerbside landfill, recycling and
    green waste collections as well
    as booked kerbside hard waste
    collections.
  • Food delivery services for older
    and vulnerable residents.
  • Critical Maternal and Child Health
    visits.
  • Essential call out services.

Council’s Economic Development team are offering support for local businesses.

Council’s Visit Nillumbik Facebook page @visitnillumbik is getting behind Nillumbik businesses with a Stay Home, Shop Local campaign.

Customers can contact Council via:

Website: nillumbik.vic.gov.au

Phone: 9433 3111

Swimming pool and spa registrations 

The Victorian Government has not currently advised councils of any changes to the time frame for the requirement to register swimming pools and spas.

Local Councils roll out governance updates

By JAMES POYNER

MARCH 24 was a big day for Local Government.

As well as the finalisation of a new Local Government Act, local councils also debated measures to enable them to be able to effectively govern as the threat of a worsening pandemic continues to dominate our news feeds.

An updated Local Government Act became law on March 24, 2020.

The Act provides the necessary legislative framework to enable local councils to perform their task of administering their municipality.

The Act replaces the Local Government Act 1989 and over the next 16 months, the Divisions of The Act 2020 will gradually replace The Act 1989.

It has been a long five years waiting for the updated Act to come into effect, the Local Government Bill 2018 fell at the last furlong in November 2018, when it lapsed after the Legislative Council failed to pass the bill.

The Local Government Act 2020 includes six key reforms in the areas of simplified franchise, standardising, electoral structure, training, donation reform, improved conduct and community accountability.

In July 2019, councils across Victoria were submitting responses to these areas of reform with many councils requesting The Act does not require all councils to operate as single member wards.

The proposal was generally rejected by most councils, even councils which already operated with a single member ward structure were not overly supportive of the move to simplify the electoral structure.

In their submission to the Local Government Bill 2019 in July 2019, Nillumbik Shire Council wrote:

“Given that Council already operates under a single member ward structure, the impact on Council as a result of this proposed reform will be minimal.

Council however recognises the diverse nature of councils across the state and that a single ward structure may not be appropriate in all instances.

Council would therefore advocate for the electoral structure for each Council be considered on its merits and not on a one structure for all basis.”

To the relief of many municipalities, the Legislative Council passed an amendment to The Act, which allows for a mixed system of single and multi-member representation.

The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) has also been watching and waiting for a determination on whether the October 2020 Local Elections will be Postal or Attendance voting.

The Act specifies that the voting system to be used will be determined by the Minister for Local Government and that the Minister must make a decision on the system to be used within two months of that part of The Act coming into effect.

Documentation outlining the transition from The Act 1989 to The Act 2020 indicates this section comes into effect on April 6, 2020, which means Victorians will know how they can vote in the October 2020 local elections by no later than June 6, 2020.

However, it is worth noting — given our current situation — that the Minister has the power to change the date of an election under circumstances such as the declaration of a State of Emergency.

Council’s preparing for the worst

Manningham and Nillumbik Councils also passed motions to expand the Instrument of Delegation at the March 24 Ordinary Council Meeting.

The Instrument of Delegation means the CEO and other Officers can delegate on their behalf.

The responsibility was expanded as Councillors were concerned the current health situation may result in a scenario where not enough Councillors can attend a meeting to form a quorum.

Presently, there is no policy in place to allow councillors to conduct council meetings using teleconferencing software, which means they need to be physically present, a situation which may become difficult if social distancing restrictions become more severe.

While the vote was very cut-and-dry at Manningham, in Nillumbik, there was fierce debate with opposing councillors arguing they should be discussing supporting an initiative by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), which is calling on State Government to give councils the legislative capability to be able to hold Council Meetings online, with Councillor Perkins standing against Councillor Clarke to argue that this is what they should be discussing.

In a statement from MAV, Cr Coral Ross, MAV President and councillor for Boorondara, said:

“Inflexible council meeting requirements under state legislation are a significant concern for local governments across the country as many council chambers do not allow for appropriate social distancing.

“This is an unprecedented situation which requires collaboration and innovative thinking.

“We have been proactively working alongside the Victorian Government to provide solutions which will ensure the health and safety of councillors, council staff and the community.

“With streaming and virtual meetings now widely available, we call on the Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek and the State Government to make this common sense decision and enable one of these options to be implemented as alternative to meeting face to face.”

Efficient operation by Local Government in the coming months will be integral to keeping a semblance of normality to the bureaucracy of everyday life.

The Diary will continue to report on the actions of local councils and the efforts of MAV to enable them to do their job in this climate of increasing restrictions.

 

Connecting with our artists in a disconnected world


THE ARTISTS of the Nillumbik Artist Open Studios program are taking their studios online.

The artists originally planned to open their studio doors for the weekend of May 2 – 3, but due to the restrictions around COVID-19, the artists will be displaying their works in a special online space.

The online store is open now with a small selection of works, but will be expanded over the coming weeks.

Founders of the program, Ona Henderson and Syd Tunn have been part of the program since 1983.

“We initially thought we could postpone and then we thought, no it has to be a cancellation, because everyone is saying this will go on for months”.

Program Coordinator and potter, Annette Nobe said going online is something that many organisations have been embracing.

“I have worked in the IT industry in the past, and many businesses will be able to survive with the use of digital platforms,” she said.

In light of the recent success of the Artists Open Studios weekends, Bend of Islands artist Tim Read said the cancellation of the studio openings was inescapable.

“Unfortunately, [the open weekend] is the ideal way for the disease to spread, so [the cancellation] is a good move.”

All of the participating artists will be initially submitting three works to the online site, with works available for pickup or delivery from studios.

The website will also incorporate video messages from the artists and a virtual look inside some of the studios.

The program is also cancelling many of the workshops and classes that are normally run by the artists, and most artists have cancelled their private art classes as well.

However, many of the artists say they will be able to use their time in isolation effectively.

Artist Linda MacAuley said her classes being cancelled has allowed for a creative space to open up.

“It gives you space to do whatever you like — it opens you up to other opportunities,” Linda said.

Glass Artist Jacquie Hacansson said that she is enjoying the time in self-isolation in her studio, and has already started to be very prolific.

“It is wonderful to be able to sit and create without interruption from the outside world,” she said.

Metal artist Mel Rayski-Mati said that the Artist Open Studios program has allowed for many collaborations between artists and doesn’t see this changing under the current restrictions.

There are many wonderful works on display on the Nillumbik Artist Open Studios website, and there is likely to be a large outpouring of new works from artists when isolation is lifted.

This will ensure November’s Artist Open Studios will be bigger and better than ever.

 

Stand apart but together for our Anzacs


Photo: Bill McAuley

IN THIS EVER-CHANGING climate of uncertainty, social distancing and working from home I would like to remind you of the importance of looking after those around us.

As the President of the Warrandyte RSL I would like to call on you all as a community to ensure we are caring for our families, friends, veterans, members of Anzac House and the elderly.

The priority of the Warrandyte RSL is to support veterans and their families during the coming months and difficult times ahead.

If you are aware of a veteran or family member who requires assistance, please contact us on (03) 9844 3567.

We will endeavour to do our best to support those in need.

In some cases, you may be required to request additional support from RSL Victoria.

They can be contacted on:
(03) 9655 5555.

Anzac Day

The Warrandyte RSL traditional Anzac Day service will be very different to what most of us are used to.

The community march along the main road to the Memorial RSL grounds has been cancelled.

Warrandyte RSL will hold a Commemorative Service, but we ask our local community to stay at home.

Anzac Day is not cancelled; we are asking families to commemorate the day at home by watching or listening to the Dawn Service on television, the internet, or on the radio.

We are also asking people to participate with a Stand-To gesture.

At the time of the Last Post bugle call, we are asking members of the community to stand to attention at the end of their driveway, or on their veranda, balcony or deck, with their right hand on their heart and then to stay there, with their head bowed for the one minute’s silence which follows.

It would also be great if families and individuals could take a selfie of themselves doing this and share it on social media with the hashtag #STANDTO.

Musicians are being urged to play the Last Post on their lawn at 6am.

Anzac Day can be a deep, meaningful and nearly spiritual experience for everyone.

While it is primarily the recognition of the camaraderie, mateships and sacrifices made by the ANZACs.

Remembering their sacrifice is particularly relevant given the sacrifices we are all being asked to make during this time, as the whole of humanity does what it can to combat the spread of COVID-19.

This year, we are unable to sell Anzac badges locally, at schools, or on the street.

We shall, however have tins (for donations), and Anzac Badges available at the counters at Quinton’s SUPA IGA.

If members of the community would like to buy the limited-edition Anzac biscuit tin, please ring the Warrandyte RSL on (03) 9844 3567.

 

ANZAC: The story of “Turkish” Charlie Ryan

By DON HUGHES

I THOUGHT I knew the ANZAC story well but recently stumbled upon a new insight — the story of Charlie Ryan.

He was born at Killeen Station just north of Melbourne in 1853.

The son of a grazier, Charlie dedicated his life to medicine and the care of others.

He graduated as a surgeon from the University of Edinburgh in 1875.

Seeking adventure, Charlie sought medical experience with the Turkish Army in Constantinople (now Istanbul).

However, the Russo-Turkish war of 1877–1878 broke out and Charlie found himself in the Balkans at the siege of Plevna as a young military doctor.

Despite his brave caring of the wounded, he was eventually captured by the Russians at another front in Eastern Turkey.

After the war, Turkey honoured Charlie’s distinguished service with the Order of Mejidiye (4th class) and the Order of Osmanli, the second highest order in the Ottoman Empire.

A hero to the people of Turkey, he returned home to Melbourne in 1878 to become a successful civilian doctor.

He also was made the representative — similar to an ambassador — of the Ottoman Empire in Australia for some years.

He still liked army life and continued as a Captain in the Volunteer Medical Service.

Charlie was the doctor who tendered the wounded bushranger Ned Kelly, and after his execution — declared him deceased.

At the outbreak of World War 1, Charlie enlisted as the Senior Doctor for the 1st Division, Australian Imperial Force (AIF), and landed in Egypt just after his 61st birthday.

He had enlisted to fight the Germans.

Aboard the troopships bound for the ANZAC landings at a dinner for senior officers Charlie knew more than anyone how hard the Turks would fight to defend their homeland.

It prompted him to state: “If, after 40 years, I am now about to fight them, it is not because of a feeling of enmity, but because of orders I have received as a soldier”.

Clambering up the steep cliffs of Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, Charlie and the ANZACs landed on the peninsula to face the Turkish commander, Mustafa Kemal and his troops.

On May 19, the Turks launched a major attack which became a slaughter; over 3,000 Turks lay dead in no man’s land.

Both armies wanted to bury the dead as the putrid smell had become unbearable.

A one-day cease fire was declared on May 24 and on that day, both sides buried their dead in shallow graves.

This was the first time; the Turks and Australians came face to face and talked to each other.

There are diary entries about swapping Turkish tobacco for bully beef.

Respectfully, the seeds of comradeship between two countries were sown on that day — this still thrives today.

Charlie Ryan carefully attached his Ottoman Medals and, armed with only a box camera, proceeded to direct his medical staff tending the wounded.

Some Turks became seething, thinking he had stolen the decorations.

In an unused Turkish voice of 40 years, the distinguished looking doctor was able to placate the situation.

All stopped their gruesome tasks, time seemed suspended, the Turks remembered the “Hero of the battle of 93” — Charles “Plevna” Ryan.

Shortly after this infamous armistice, Charlie contracted dysentery and typhoid.

He recovered and was knighted by the King in 1916 and appointed the senior doctor of the Australian Army until November 11, 1918.

Charlie was the hero of two countries.

Major General Sir Charles Snodgrass Ryan KBE, CB, CMG, VD, died on October 23, 1926.

Turkish Charlie Ryan: Canakkale’s Anzac Hero written by John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher, and beautifully illustrated by Lillian Webb, was published in 2018.

It is a wonderful book straddling this defining story of a little-known hero for both countries and it is a story every Australian should know, and cherish.

A copy of the book, as well as a special package for teachers can be purchased from
www.friendsofgallipoli.org

 

The true meaning of Anzac Day

By DON HUGHES

WHEN ON United Nations Peacekeeping and Demining operations in Africa in 1994/5, I had the unique and pleasant opportunity, to spend a few days on leave at the spectacular Victoria Falls.

Going for a pre-dawn stroll, on Anzac Day in 1995, to pay my respects, I came upon three fellow visitors to this magnificent natural wonder.

The first was a tourist from Japan, we exchanged cordial pleasantries.

Next, was a robust and jovial German on his first trip to Africa — we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

Finally, I bumped into an outgoing and friendly South African Boer, who was visiting the amazing Victoria Falls for the first time.

It made me reflect deeply — as these men were all former enemies of Australia.

It also made me reflect on the mammoth task of trying to rid a country (Mozambique) of the appalling remnants of war (landmines).

It took 20 years for Mozambique to be the first severely landmine affected country in the world to be declared “landmine free”.

How long does it take to declare ourselves free of the other effects of war?

Just before Sir “Weary” Dunlop, the great Australian Prisoner of War Doctor, passed away in 1993, I had the honour of hearing him speak at a formal regimental dinner at the Oakleigh Army Barracks.

He spoke with reverence and sincerity, of the need to forgive past enemies.

Despite witnessing horrendous atrocities during the latter campaigns of the Second World War, he had come to the understanding — that forgiveness is probably the greatest of human attributes.

War is the result of deep divides in society, and it is in peace, where we heal those divides, that our true spirit lives.

Register your pool or spa by June 1, 2020


THE VICTORIAN Government has introduced Building Amendment (Swimming Pool and Spa) Regulations 2019, which took effect from  last December.

This introduces mandatory requirements for owners of private swimming pools or spas to register their pool or spa with their local council.

In addition, pool and spa owners will now be required to have their safety barriers inspected by a registered building surveyor or building inspector every four years.

These regulations are being introduced because, on average, four young children die in Victoria in home swimming pools or spas each year, and many more are taken to hospital for near-drownings.

The cost to register your pool or spa is set by the State Government.

So, what does this all mean for owners of existing backyard or indoor pools and spas?

Definitions

A swimming pool or spa is any structure or excavation containing water and primarily used for swimming, wading, paddling or the like, and is capable of containing water to a depth of greater than 300mm.

This includes in-ground swimming pools, indoor swimming pools, above-ground swimming pools (including permanent and temporary swimming pools), spas, swim spas, bathing and wading pools and hot tubs.

Small inflatable pools that do not require any assembly — other than inflation — are not subject to these rules.

Also exempted are spas and baths inside a building which are used only for personal hygiene and are emptied fully after each use.

The owner of the land on which the pool is situated is responsible for compliance, so in the case of a tenanted property, the onus is on the landlord.

Register your pool or spa

The new laws require mandatory registration of all Victorian swimming pools and spas by June 1, 2020.

You can register your swimming pool or spa online via your council’s website, or alternatively in person at the council offices.

A fee of $79 applies for all swimming pool and spa registrations and is paid at the time of registration.

This fee consists of a registration fee of $32 and an information search fee of $47.

Have your pool inspected and get a certificate of compliance

Once you have registered your pool or spa you will be advised of the date your pool was built, and when you are required to lodge a Certificate of Pool and Spa Safety Barrier Compliance (CPSSBC) to verify that your swimming pool or spa is safe.

To obtain this certificate you will need to arrange to have your pool inspected by a registered building surveyor or registered building inspector.

The inspection will check that the pool or spa and its safety barriers, gates, pool fences, boundary fences, walls, screens, balustrades, doors, windows, locks, latches, hinges and self-closing devices (where applicable) are all in compliance with Australian Standard AS1926.1.

This inspection and certification will cost somewhere in the region of between $250 and $400, as inspectors set their own fees independently.

It is suggested that you obtain more than one quote.

Rather like obtaining a roadworthy certificate for your car, if it passes you get the required certificate and if it fails you get a notice of defects and will require a further inspection, for a smaller fee, once these have been corrected.

Fortunately, you have some time to do this because the date by which you have to lodge this certificate with the council depends on the date of construction of your pool or spa.

If constructed before July 1994, the certificate must be lodged by
June 1, 2021.

If constructed between July 1994 and April 2010, the certificate must be lodged by June 1, 2022.

If constructed after April 2010, the certificate must be lodged by
June 1, 2023.

Having obtained your certificate of compliance, lodge it with your council before the due date.

Ongoing four-year certification

Pools and spas will only need to be registered with the council once.

Following the initial certification, pools and spas are required to be re-inspected every four years thereafter, at your cost, and further certificates lodged with council.

Penalties

If you do not register your pool or spa by June 1, 2020, this will result in an infringement notice of approximately $330.

If a failed inspection is not corrected within 60 days, the inspector will issue a non-compliance certificate and submit it directly to council.

Council will then contact you and issue a barrier improvement notice, which will need to be actioned within 14 days and a fee of $385 will apply.

If you do not comply with Council’s directions to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations, this may result in the referral of the matter to a magistrate.

The State Government has a zero tolerance approach to offending property owners and is committed to ensuring adequate water safety for young children.

Significant penalties could apply if a matter is brought before the court.

Swimming pool and spa owners have a legal obligation to ensure they maintain the effective operation of swimming pool and spa safety barriers.

Gates and doors must remain closed except when entering the pool or spa.

 

Eltham Gateway trees remain under threat


THE CLASH between utilitarian necessity, and community and environmental amenity is all too familiar to many residents of Warrandyte and surrounds.

The latest battleground is the Eltham Fitzsimons Lane Roundabout at the Eltham Gateway.

Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV) is planning to remove the roundabout and replace it with a multilane, traffic-lighted intersection, as part of its $2.2 billion Northern Roads Upgrade project.

Planned works also include the removal of the roundabout at Porter Street in Templestowe and the redesign of the Foote Street intersection.

The work at the Eltham Gateway to replace the roundabout with an intersection will involve the removal of hundreds of trees which will significantly change the look of the area, threatening what many see as the visual gateway into Nillumbik’s Green Wedge, as well as damaging the character of the area and disrupting community amenity for residents.

Eltham Community Action Group (ECAG) has been campaigning for an alternative design which will help ease traffic flow without damaging the amenity and character of the area.

“People see those trees and it makes them feel like they have come home”, said Carlota Quinlan, a representative of ECAG.

Following what many see as an ineffective campaign by MRPV to share the proposed design in September 2018, the impact of the works — the extent of the removal of the trees — was not fully visualised to both commuters and the broader community until late 2019, when ECAG tied red ribbons to all the trees planned to be removed at the Eltham Gateway, as well as publishing mock-ups of the proposed design.

ECAG also submitted a petition with 3,000 signatures to the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan, requesting the project is halted and more a sympathetic design be sought, with more up to date traffic data.

In November 2019, the Diary ran a story on the ECAG red ribbon protest and asked MRPV if they were planning to alter the plans, given works are scheduled to begin in 2020.

At the time, MRPV told the Diary: “Updated preliminary designs will be published on the Major Road Projects Victoria website in the coming weeks.”

Nearly three months passed with no update, so the Diary contacted MRPV again for an update on the works, MRPV has now released information regarding alterations to the proposed 11 lane intersection.

Major Road Projects Victoria’s Delivery Director, Steve Cornish, told the Diary the design balanced important community feedback about the local significance of the Eltham Gateway with the needs of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

“We’ve listened to what’s important to the community and investigated a number of design options,” Mr Cornish said.

“The design changes we’ve made will reduce the number of trees that are impacted, while still ensuring we can deliver vital safety benefits and reduce congestion.”

The new design slightly reduces the footprint and, according to MRPV, reduces the number of trees being removed.

But details in their latest update are vague.

Following a meeting between the project team and ECAG on Wednesday, February 26, ECAG spoke to the Diary, and indicated they were still “very disappointed” with the planned works.

“They have not taken on board community concerns,” said Ms Quinlan.

Although the updated design reduces the number of trees that need to be removed, the trees which currently stand in the middle and around the roundabout are still going, which has been the whole point of ECAGs protest.

Ms Quinlan told the Diary ECAG includes members who have experience in urban design, engineering et cetera, and that the group has submitted alternative design ideas to MRPV, which meet the expectations of both MRPV and the local community, but these have been declined.

Ms Quinlan also reinforced the sentiment that ECAG is not against the road improvement project in principle.

She said the community action group simply want a design which maintains the character and amenity of the Eltham Gateway.

Whilst ECAG continue to negotiate with MRPV for a better deign, the project continues to grind through the necessary bureaucratic processes needed for works to begin with the necessary planning amendments gazetted on January 16.

Construction is still scheduled to begin later this year.

The Diary asked MRPV for specific details regarding the number of trees saved in the new design, as well as comment on how traffic flow will be impacted by the North East Link.

“Design refinements, since the initial reference design was released in September 2018, have resulted in a total of 150 fewer trees needing to be removed.

“This includes a most recent saving of 50 fewer trees needing to be removed with the design revisions released in February 2020.

“Major Road Projects Victoria’s traffic modelling showed that while traffic volumes on Fitzsimons Lane are expected to reduce with the opening of North East Link (2027), the existing roundabout would continue to create congestion, long queues and risky driver behaviour without an upgrade.

“Every iteration of the design has taken into account how future traffic volumes will affect the intersection.

“The updated design has reduced the overall footprint of the upgrade, while still delivering significant improvements to safety and congestion to Fitzsimons Lane.

“Major Road Projects Victoria will continue to inform and consult the community through web, electronic and mail updates, door knocks to nearby properties, community information sessions, and pop ups at events.”

The recent “artist’s impression” released by MRPV as part of the February update has also come under fire from ECAG on social media with a post on the groups Facebook page haranguing Major Roads for an artist’s impression which is misleading and not to scale.

There is still time for the community to voice their concerns or seek clarity on any aspect of the design.

MRPV is hosting a Drop In Session at Eltham Library on Wednesday, March 11, from 6pm.

 

Running to build community

Photographs in gallary below courtesy of www.primaryfocus.net.au

©2020 Primary Focus

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THE THEME of community was strong at this year’s Run Warrandyte as our community welcomed, encouraged and celebrated the blind and vision impaired community.

The event committee reports registrations were up by 100 participants this year, proving the event continues to showcase our stunning bush surrounds to more and more people, year on year.

Guide Dogs Victoria were the official fundraising partner for Run Warrandyte 2020 and the not-for-profit running group Achilles Australia — who team up sighted and vision impaired runners were also on course, guiding a contingent of runners up and down the hills and trails of The Pound, as they ran the picturesque course.

Leah McFadzean, General Manager of Guide Dog and Vision Services, spoke to the Diary about what Guide Dogs Victoria do and their reasons for partnering with Run Warrandyte.

“It seemed like a natural fit.

“We try to come out into the community because we like to ensure that our blind and vision impaired clients and families can be in the community.

“Because that’s what it is about — independence, inclusion and accessibility.”

Leah explained that it takes two years to raise a guide dog and the organisation is reliant on volunteers and donations to help prepare the caring canines, but she also explained that Guide Dogs Victoria is not just about dogs.

“I am big on allowing individuals and families to do what they want to do independently.

“There may be someone here who has a family member, or extended family member, who is just starting on the journey and doesn’t know where to go.

“So if I say out loud ‘Guide Dogs Victoria is more than just the dogs’, then maybe they will ring us and we can wrap our professional selves around them and guide them where they need to go,” she said.

While guide dogs drew the crowd in the event village, the group from Achilles Melbourne ran the course, guiding six runners around one, two or three laps of the course.

The Diary spoke with several blind and vision impaired runners, and their guides, after the run, to gauge their experience of our annual community event.

“What was really interesting was the support we got from the fellow runners, as well as the Marshalls and the organisers — it has been a really great, warm and welcoming run”, said Carl de Campos, a vision impaired runner from South Africa, who is in the middle of a five-week holiday in Australia.

Carl took on the 15km course, completing the distance in 1:34:53.

“We were told we were going to run along the river and there was going to be some off-road track and I ran with Rhi for the first time.

“Rhi” (Rhiannon Rowbotham) is a regular guide with Achilles Melbourne, as well as a passionate and experienced trail runner in her own right.

“She did extremely well guiding me, there were a few steep bits, a few steep hills.

“But I am fairly fit and I found it really, really, good,” he said.

Carl and Rhi were caught out by the rocky Tank Track when Carl tripped on a rock early on, but she said it did not put a dent in either of their enjoyment of the course.

“[Carl] is a really experienced trail runner and he was fine — I asked him if he was hurting and if he wanted to stop but he was fine, he kept going.

“He bombed the downhills, even though he said he was going to take it easy, and when we got down to the river he could hear the rapids and he loved the birds.

“It is stunning out there, even for someone with vision impairment he was able to enjoy the course as well,” she said.

Rhi had nothing but praise for the encouragement by volunteers and runners on course.

“It was incredible… we had so much encouragement out there.

“I think the message about us is spreading — we have a hashtag #goachilles and often when we run you hear quite a few people yell that.

“But today, on course, people were yelling whether they knew Achilles or not — it was great encouragement, you have a really good crew out here.”

Peggy Soo took on the 10km distance with her guide Lowell.

“I’ve always wanted to come to Warrandyte and experience coming through here.

“I didn’t know about Run Warrandyte until I saw it on the Guide Dogs page so thought this was the best time to get on board,” Peggy said.

Peggy and Lowell told us the course was quite challenging but Peggy is looking forward to coming back.

“I like these sorts of runs that are a little bit away from the city, less busy, you just enjoy the run itself instead of having to go around and through people.”

Achilles Melbourne is always looking for new runners, both vision impaired and sighted.

The clubs social structure is building a community, which means, regardless of your level of sight, anything can be achieved.

Achilles Melbourne helps the vision impaired continue to be physically and socially active and also gives their sighted guides life perspective.

“I think we all get dire thoughts like that sometimes, even as a sighted runner”, said Rhi.

“When I get injured I get into the doldrums straight away and I think ‘oh my god I can’t run all week, life is horrible’ — there is not much anyone can do to pull someone else out of a funk when they have stuff going on in their life.

“Whether I am guiding or not, running is a community event and guiding for Achilles has shown that to be the case.”

Carl adds “What I have noticed with my friends who have deteriorating sight, what I find is they don’t want to accept it straight away, so they don’t want to run with somebody and it becomes dangerous.

“It is not just a running club, it is also a support group, a social running club — because you go through depression when you start to lose your eyesight and a lot of us in South Africa we are looking for a social club, whether it be a church, or a coffee drinking club.

“And what is more healthy than getting out and doing a race, whether you walk or whether you run?

“What could be more of a confidence booster than to get out there in nature?”

From showcasing local clubs and businesses in the event village, to the contingent of local volunteers cheering everyone on course, and the charity partners who strive to develop independence and community for the blind and vision impaired, Run Warrandyte 2020 was a celebration that strong community values improve both physical and mental wellbeing.

Everybody who took part in the event reflected Guide Dogs Victoria’s values of independence, inclusion and accessibility.

As local initiatives like the Warrandyte Men’s Shed and Repair Café have also reflected — inclusion, independence, accessibility and socialisation are important in maintaining positive mental health — and Warrandyte, on March 1, demonstrated its cup was overflowing with this sentiment.

 

Photographs in gallary below courtesy of Sandi Miller

Guide Dogs Victoria www.guidedogsvictoria.com.au/

Achilles Melbourne:
www.achillesaustralia.org.au/melbourne.html

Official photographs from the event are available to purchase — participants will have received an email via Run Warrandyte about how to select and buy official photographs.

 

Manningham declares a climate emergency


MANNINGHAM CITY Council unanimously approved the motion to declare a climate emergency at their January 28 Ordinary Council Meeting (OCM).

This motion brings Manningham Council in line with more than 1,000 councils across the planet, and over 85 councils in Australia who have been declaring climate emergencies since early 2019.

The global political movement to recognise the threat of climate change and take action against it began in April 2019 with Scotland and Wales becoming the first countries to declare a climate emergency.

During the January 28 OCM, Councillor Mike Zafiropoulous tabled Notice of Motion 1/2020 and outlined the need for this action.

“As councillors we have a responsibility, not only to address the local concerns of residents through core issues such as waste collection, planning permits, road maintenance, et cetera — but also broader issues such as the climate emergency we are facing,” he said.

Later, Cr Zafiropoulous went on to talk about the evidence.

“The scientific evidence on this issue is overwhelming and the consequence of no action is catastrophic, not only for Manningham, but for the whole planet.”

Cr Andrew Conlon, who seconded the motion, spoke specifically of the increased impact Warrandyte faces.

“Without climate change, Warrandyte is already in the most prone, most at risk areas in terms of population, terrain and fuel, in the world.

“So it would be ignorant of us to basically put our heads in the sand and not acknowledge that we can do more and that we will do more in the years to come.”

An amended motion, introduced by Cr Sophy Galbally, to add the words “climate emergency” specifically to the clauses of the motion being discussed, triggered a 30-minute debate into the definition of the words “serious” and “emergency”, highlighting concerns surrounding the bureaucratic implications of the use of the word “emergency”.

In his closing remarks, Cr Zafiropoulous spoke about the popularity and symbolic nature of the term “Climate Emergency” and the importance of Council to follow a global trend.

“…to be consistent with other organisations initiating such action, I think it is much better to use the term Climate Emergency in the motion… I think it strengthens the motion if we include it there.”

In attendance at the OCM were representatives of WarrandyteCAN who have been lobbying Manningham Council on the issue since August 2019.

In late September, members of WarrandyteCAN met with the then Mayor, Councillor Paula Piccinini and Mannigham Council CEO Andrew Day to discuss the issue, following the matter up with letters to other councillors in support of a climate emergency declaration and implementation of a structured emergency action plan.

Subsequently, WarrandyteCAN had a meeting with Cr. Zafiropoulos.

“WarrandyteCAN is very grateful for having been given the opportunity to present our case to the Council, and we highly commend the Councillors for passing this landmark resolution,” said WarrandyteCAN President, Jeff Cranston.

The passing of Notice of Motion 1/2020 not only means Mannigham recognises the threat of climate change to the municipality but empowers council to prepare a response in its 2020 Environment Report by including a Climate Emergency Response Plan.

 

Bridge and traffic issues continue

THERE ARE several continuing issues concerning the bridge, its surrounds and heavy traffic and the Diary will keep you updated with progress.

Fire Danger Sign

The Fire Danger Sign on Kangaroo Ground Road on the north side of bridge has not been operating since the start of the current fire season.

The Diary discussed this matter with North Warrandyte CFA following the Bushfire Scenario meeting in November.

Their initial enquiries to the Country Fire Authority(CFA) HQ were met with the response that, although the data to be displayed on the signs is provided by CFA, the actual signs are owned and operated by Emergency Services Victoria (EMV).

Further enquiries by CFA and by some readers to EMV’s ‘Report a Fault’ line were met with a standard response that the fault was known but they were awaiting a part. 

By mid-December, when nothing further had been done, North Warrandyte CFA members investigated the matter and found that the box had not been touched or opened for many months.

When this was put to EMV they eventually did attend and reported back that they could not work on the sign at its current location due to a health and safety issue; namely that there is a new High Voltage power cable immediately above the sign.

After enquiries from the Diary and representations from Ryan Smith MP to the Emergency Services Minister’s office, we finally received a statement from Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp: 

“EMV is aware of the current operational issues with the Fire Danger Rating sign at North Warrandyte and is working closely with the Nillumbik Shire Council, CFA and local brigades to come to a resolution that meets the needs of the community. 

“The current location of the sign means it cannot be serviced due to considerable safety and access issues and once a new location is sourced, the Fire Danger Rating sign will be reinstalled.”

So, that is the current situation, but it raises further questions.

When the sign was originally erected in 2014, the high voltage (HV) powerline was 3-wire and passed to the west of the now bundled line.

At a very early stage of the bridge widening project, the HV line was converted to bundled and re-routed directly over the sign, and at a later stage of the project a small gate was set into the bridge railing to provide access to the sign.

Where were EMV when all this was being planned and why did they allow all that work to happen, or did VicRoads and Ausnet Services never consult EMV?

And as it is not working now, should it be covered up because out-of-towners will come across the bridge and say “Ah, there’s no fire danger today!”?

Readers have also reported that the Fire Danger Sign at the strawberry farm on the Ringwood Road was was not displaying the Severe rating on December 20.

Commissioner Crisp advises “In relation to the South Warrandyte Fire Danger Rating sign, during routine checks all Fire Danger Ratings on the sign are working effectively and there have been no reported issues; but as a precaution a further in-person assessment will be completed shortly.”

Traffic light sequence

Several people have noted and commented that the traffic light sequence at the lights north of the bridge has been changed during the last four weeks.

The lights used to work well.

Now, they are causing a build-up of traffic on Research-Warrandyte Road, with motorists facing red lights even when there is no traffic on Kangaroo Ground Road.

Further, the lights are only letting a few cars through at a time.

The Diary contacted VicRoads to ask if there was a fault or if this was a deliberate change.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport stated:

“In response to community feedback, we adjusted the sequencing of the signals to provide more time for northbound traffic on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road, which has reduced queuing at the roundabout.

“We will look into whether we can make any further improvements to improve traffic flow in all directions.”

So, yes, the current sequence does mean a shorter green light for drivers exiting Reasearch-Warrandyte Road, and yes, it is deliberate.

For the moment, drivers will have to wait and see if VicRoads deem the queues on Research-Warrandyte Road to be too long and make further adjustments to the sequnence.

Trucks through Warrandyte

Following our December article Fed-up residents call for Warrandyte truck ban, and yet another major truck accident at the bridge, the matter has been taken further by local activist Ben Ramcharan.

He and local residents are writing to VicRoads and members in all levels of government, calling for:

•  improved safety for residents, road users and pedestrians

•  fairness to our hard-working truck drivers

•  minimised environmental impact

•  minimised impact on local character

They have conducted a straw poll on social media and present a wide-ranging list of suggestions for solving the problems, with scores for and against each option.

The Diary contacted VicRoads and asked if they were actively looking at the problem of trucks on these steep and winding roads, and to enquire about the status of the 30-tonne limit on Research-Warrandyte Road, now that repairs have taken place to the culvert near the traffic lights.

A Department of Transport spokesperson responded “It’s important all drivers, especially drivers of trucks and large vehicles, drive to the conditions and make sure loads are secure at all times.

“The safety of our roads and road users is our highest priority and we regularly inspect our road network to identify any areas where we can further improve safety.

“A temporary 30-tonne load limit was introduced on Research-Warrandyte Road while we carried out works on the road, and we’re now reviewing whether this limit will continue to remain in place.

“Our five-year crash data shows there has not been an increase in crashes involving heavy vehicles in the Warrandyte area,” the spokesperson said.

Shared pathway

VicRoads have finally erected signs on the shared pathway on the west side of the bridge to mark it as such, a shared pathway for pedestrians and cyclists.

However, these signs are only visible to cyclists travelling south on the pathway, with start and end signs erected.

There are no signs visible at all to northbound cyclists.

A Department of Transport spokesperson tells us “We will review the signage for the shared path on the western side of the bridge and install additional signage, if necessary.”

Cyclists on Research-Warrandyte Road

A new hazard could occur on Research-Warrandyte Road and other main roads in the area if RACV’s current, well-intentioned push for the State Government to mandate a minimum passing distance for motorists when overtaking cyclists is passed.

The proposal would mean that motorists would legally have to leave at least one metre of space between their vehicle and a cyclist when overtaking.

Now that the entire 7.5km length of Research-Warrandyte has been painted with double white lines, it would be impossible for motorists to overtake a cyclist anywhere on that road without crossing the lines.

In a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”, even now motorists who slow down to 4 km/h behind a cyclist puffing and panting up a steep hill quickly get a long queue of traffic behind them, and find that it is not long before someone behind them comes out and tries to overtake the lot.

Work to begin on Lions Park

By SANDI MILLER

CONSTRUCTION of the upgrade of Lions Park in Warrandyte River Reserve is anticipated to start in April this year.

Angelo Kourambas, Director of City Planning and Community at Manningham Council says the first stage of works will include landscaping around the bridge, creating a new car park, paths, installing fitness equipment and new picnic tables.

“The masterplan for the upgrade of Lions Park includes two new picnic shelters with barbecues, one near the bridge, and one closer to the play space,” he said.

This is in addition to the existing barbecue shelter in Lions Park.

“To allow the space to be used for cooking and eating and improve accessibility, the existing shelter will be updated to include a new barbecue with two plates that is wheelchair accessible, together with picnic facilities,” Mr Kourambas said.

However, this is not without controversy. 

Denis Robertshaw of the Warrandyte Lions Club is disappointed that the existing barbeque is being replaced with a smaller one.

“In 1988 Warrandyte Lions raised money from the community to construct an undercover electric BBQ facility with picnic tables in the surrounds.

“This is a four-burner hot plate unit with stainless bench top that has served locals and tourists for 32 years.

“As part of council redevelopment, they are reducing the four-unit cooktop to two, at considerable cost, requiring a complete new stainless top.

“Why this change is happening defies logic, all four units get regular use.

“Apparently another two-unit BBQ will be constructed closer to the bridge,” he said.

Mr Kourambas said that the change to the existing shelter “has been considered in light of the facilities featured in the overall masterplan for the Lions Park upgrade”.

Mr Robertshaw said that due to lack of use, Lions are relinquishing the tennis courts to make way for landscaping and car parking and instead will be contributing to a Fitness Station to be built under the bridge.

 “It will be a sad state of affairs if our original BBQ unit is rehashed, as it was an initiative under the Bicentennial Year,” Mr Robertshaw said.

A shed amongst the gum trees

MENS’ MENTAL health has a new home in Warrandyte. 

Two years in the making, the Warrandyte Men’s Shed held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday, January 15.

The Warrandyte Men’s Shed is the latest project by Chris “Chewy” Padgham who has a history of advocating for male mental health.

In the past he has worked for the Victorian Red Cross Men’s Referral Service, MensLine Australia, Shire of Yarra Rangers Kids’ Service and he is currently Group Leader for Warrandyte Scouts.

Until they can find a permanent venue, the Warrandyte Men’s Shed is making use of the Warrandyte Scouts Hall to host its weekly get-togethers.

At the first meeting, Warrandyte Lions provided decks of cards, board games and basic supplies for tea, coffee and sandwiches.

“I just want to create somewhere where men can get together, enjoy each other’s company and do the things they like to do,” said Chewy.

“I’m really just trying to create an environment to facilitate that.”

The concept of a Men’s Shed in Australia as a place for men to come together, and “work” together towards positive mental health first began in the late 1970s – early 1980s.

Traditionally, these community “sheds” are a space where retired men can work on community projects together, usually using practical, mechanical, carpentry and metal working skills they acquired through their former working life, and this concept is still deeply rooted in what a modern Men’s Shed is, but with Generation X entering the retirement window, the types of skills retired Australians have are beginning to change.

Eltham Men’s Shed is a great example of this with their website posting about the Shed’s activities outside the traditional workshopping projects – such as gardening, photography, cooking and even weekly bicycle rides.

What does this mean for our Warrandyte Men’s Shed? 

It means its purpose and its potential is open-ended.

The collective work and social experiences of the members of the inaugural Warrandyte Shed were diverse.

“We could have these meetings under a gum tree, it doesn’t really matter”, said member, Don Hughes.

“It’s about getting a bunch of blokes together to share stuff and help out when we can,” he said.

Living up to these words, the group did exactly that. 

The group moved from the Scout Hall for their second meeting and formed a working party to help a local resident clean up her front yard following the devastating hailstorm that pummelled Warrandyte recently.

Don also spoke about how the Warrandyte Men’s Shed can offer support to males of all ages.

“There’s also a place for younger men, perhaps they get retrenched or something like that, this could be a place for them too.

“Often there is a youth element who may need an uncle figure and this could be a place for them to get camaraderie that way,” he said.

Currently auspiced by Warrandyte Community Association, Chewy is going through the process of getting the Warrandyte Shed registered with the Victorian Men’s Shed Association (VMSA), he is also looking to council for support.

Regardless, the Shed is up and running.

The vision of VMSA is “for all Victorian men to be happy and healthy contributors within their local community”; with Warrandyte’s rich tapestry of community focussed organisations and its artistic history it is still unclear how this vision will manifest in the Warrandyte Shed.

However, camaraderie, sharing stories, and helping others were core values within the group present at the first meeting, and whatever direction Chewy and the other members take their Shed, it is sure to contribute significantly towards fostering positive masculinity in our community.

Men of all ages are welcome to attend the Warrandyte Men’s Shed.

The Shed meets every Wednesday at 10am at Warrandyte Scout Hall, Stiggants Reserve.

Membership costs $15 per year.

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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”.

Every which way you turn


CALLS HAVE resumed for VicRoads to solve the dangerous intersection at Five Ways, where Croydon Road, Brumbys Road and Husseys Lane intersect with Ringwood-Warrandyte Road.
An online petition has gathered more than 1000 signatures after recently being returned to circulation.
It is calling for improved traffic controls at the intersection.
The petition was initiated two years ago and has recently resurfaced on Facebook where it has generated a lot of discussion.
Petitioner Renny Koerner-Brown told the Diary she was prompted to start the petition following several near misses with cars mistakenly turning into Brumbys Road “only to have them do an abrupt u-turn” in front of her “leaving me out in a horrendous intersection in on-coming traffic”.
Mary-Anne Lowe is a resident on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, and says every day she navigates the intersection pulling a horse float.
She spoke with the Diary about the issues she has encountered.
“It is a daily occurrence to witness blaring horns, near misses and unfortunately I have also witnessed an accident with a horse float in the last two years,” Ms Lowe said.
She says traffic from all directions need a smoother transition and clearer instruction to make it safer for all road users.
Another South Warrandyte resident, Kim Dixon, said she has been sending letters to VicRoads for years about the intersection.
She says that the confusion at the intersection itself is only part of the problem.
“I reside in Colman Road and the traffic we get coming down our street, to avoid this intersection, is horrendous.
“[Colman Road] is not designed to take traffic travelling in both directions, it is extremely narrow and there are a number of places in which cars cannot safely pass each other,” Ms Dixon said.
She said that as a result of her ongoing complaints, around eight years ago Maroondah Council installed speed humps in their section of roadway and Manningham Council have also recently installed four speed humps.
“Unfortunately, these devices have not deterred the amount of traffic that use this road to avoid the intersection,” Ms Dixon said.
“In all my correspondence [to VicRoads] I have stated that the issue in Colman Road is a direct consequence of the dangerous intersection at Croydon Road and [Ringwood-]Warrandyte Road — I get the same reply, “this intersection is not our priority”.
Leigh Harrison, Director City Services for Manningham Council said Manningham Council is aware of congestion issues and safety concerns along Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and would support an upgrade of this intersection.
“The intersection is an important connection for local roads connecting to Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, including Brumbys Road which is a no-through road.
“While VicRoads is responsible for any upgrade works, options that could be considered include a roundabout or new traffic signals,” he said.
State Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith, said he has been asking the Government for several years about the intersection, but he says the response he has received has been disappointing.
“I have raised the very real concerns from local residents about this dangerous intersection on a number of occasions, but these concerns have fallen on the Government’s deaf ears.
“I would hate to think that a tragedy has to occur before we see any action from the Andrews Government.
“Fix the problem now so we can avoid the kind of fatal accident that many locals believe is an inevitability,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith showed the Diary a series of correspondence he has had with various Roads Ministers, during his last foray into the issue in March 2017.
Back then, he was advised: “VicRoads has been monitoring the safety record at the intersection of Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, Croydon Road and Husseys Lane in Warrandyte South.
“There has been no reported injury crash at the intersection in the most recent five-year period.
“The average two-way daily traffic volume on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road has increased from 5,700 vehicles per day in 2015 to 5,800 in 2017.
“The configuration of the intersection is in accordance with relevant guidelines and is similar to many other intersections across Melbourne.
“Based on the safety record and in inspection of the site, VicRoads considered the intersection to be operating safely for all road users.
“VicRoads will continue to monitor the road safety at this location to determine the need for any future improvements.”
Member for North East Metropolitan, Sonja Terpstra told the Diary she had not had any contact from constituents regarding this intersection, but that she would follow the issue up with the Roads Minister.
The Diary contacted VicRoads for comment and a Department of Transport spokesperson said that they receive many requests each year for safety improvements and upgrades to intersections, including new traffic lights, from across Victoria, and that all requests are prioritised based on the extent to which such a treatment would improve safety and/or congestion at each intersection.
The unnamed spokesperson said that VicRoads consider a range of factors such as the number and type of vehicles using the intersection, the need to cater for pedestrians, the historical safety record of the site and the impact the improvements would have on the surrounding road network.
“The safety of everyone travelling on our roads is our number one priority, and we’re continually looking at ways we can make it safer and easier for people to use our road network.
“We’ll continue to monitor this intersection to see if there’s any safety improvements we can make,” the Department of Transport spokesperson said.

 

Community’s development dread at Eltham gateway

By JAMES POYNER

THE ROUNDABOUT at Fitzsimons Lane/Main Road on the Eltham—Templestowe border has become the focal point of a conflict between green-minded conservation groups in the latest infrastructure development from the State’s Major Roads Project team.
As part of the $2.2million Northern and South Eastern Roads Upgrade, the roundabout, which marks the gateway to the Green Wedge from Templestowe, is planned to be developed into an 11 lane intersection, in an effort to reduce congestion and improve safety.
In background supplied by Major Roads Project Victoria (MRPV), the agency stated the upgrade would “benefit more than 60,000 people who use the busy road every day.”
“Unfortunately, some tree and vegetation removal will be necessary to carry out the upgrade.
“However, Major Road Projects Victoria will plant new vegetation where there is available land within the project boundary and manage landscape and vegetation loss in accordance with statutory obligations.
“Design revisions to date have been able to save more than 100 trees in the vicinity of the project, and any options to minimise the removal of trees will continue to be considered.”
If you have not seen Eltham Community Action Group’s campaign against the development of this intersection on social media, you may have noticed the red ribbons tied around trees on and around the Fitzsimons/Main Road roundabout.
These are the trees currently marked for removal.
Nillumbik Council issued a press release on October 22 stating their disapproval of the upgrade in the face of opposition from residents and community groups with ties to the Shire.
“While Council recognises that congestion is a significant issue at the intersection and supports State Government efforts to improve this issue, Council does not support the planning process to deliver this project”.
In their last Community Update in April 2019, MRPV indicated construction would begin in 2020.
The Diary asked MRPV if there was any room for additional discussion and design changes to the project between now and 2020, to prevent the destruction of trees at the roundabout.
A spokesperson from MRPV responded:
“The Fitzsimons Lane upgrade will improve congestion, making it easier and safer for the community to travel through and around the area.
“We recognise that the greenery surrounding the Eltham Gateway is a key feature of Nillumbik’s unique landscape and we’re committed to minimising this project’s impact on the environment.
“We’ll continue to keep the community up to date as the planning stage progresses.
“We will consult with the community throughout the life of the project, ensuring that we continue to hear and consider their feedback on this important project,” they said.
MRPV has told the Diary it will be releasing revised designs — which save more than 100 trees in the vicinity — in the coming weeks.

 

What goes around comes around


THE REUSE SHOP at Nillumbik’s Recycling and Recovery Centre in Plenty reopened on October 25.
In an effort to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, the shop takes items delivered to the Recovery Centre that cannot be recycled, but are in good condition, and prepares them for sale on site.
In August 2018, the shop had to close while the intersection between the Recovery Centre and Yan Yean Road took place as part of the State Government’s Major Roads project.
With works now complete, the ReUse shop announced its reopening on Facebook, on October 18.
The reopening is yet another plus for Nillumbik residents and businesses in a month which has seen the tables slowly begin to turn in the war on waste.
On October 6, Nillumbik announced they had made a short-term agreement with KordaMentha, SKM’s receivers to send waste and recycling to the (then) newly reopened Laverton North recycling facility, with kerbside recycling services returning to normal on October 7.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan expressed Council’s joy in seeing normality resume.
“This is exciting progress for our residents, who are enthusiastic recyclers and have been waiting patiently for proper services to resume,” she said.
On October 10, Cleanaway Pty Ltd, who acquired SKM’s senior secured debt of $60 million from the Commonwealth Bank in August, announced the acquisition of all SKM assets — which includes three recycling facilities in Victoria.
Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal commented on the acquisition.
“The Acquisition provides Cleanaway with a strong recycling platform in Victoria and Tasmania as part of our Footprint 2025 strategy and our mission of making a sustainable future possible.
“The recycling sector is undergoing significant structural changes with a move to increase recycling within Australia to support a transition towards a circular economy.
“The Acquisition provides us with the infrastructure to capitalise on the growth opportunities created by these changes.”
Nillumbik Council has also confirmed the current arrangement to send recycling to Laverton North remains in place.
At State level, there are a number of policies and strategies in development to further enhance our ability to “reduce, reuse and recycle”.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) are currently developing a circular economy policy which aims to repurpose our waste though repair, recycled goods, and energy generation, in an effort to divert as much waste as possible from landfill.
An initial issues paper and a series of workshops occurred between July and September, with the final outcome and report expected to be released later this year.
Advisory body Infrastructure Victoria released an evidence-based report on October 20 which looked at Victoria’s waste and recycling industry and has outlined a number of solutions for the future.
One possible solution which has sparked interest in national press is the possibility that Victorian’s may end up separating rubbish into six or more bins (organics, plastics, paper, glass, metals and other are given as examples) to reduce the need to co-mingle which, the report suggests, will allow for cleaner waste transport streams which would reduce the risk of contamination and potentially stop recyclables being sent to landfill.
Although the circular economy and the proposal for additional recycling bins is still a long way from becoming a reality, at least the light at the end of the (waste)tunnel is a little bit brighter.
In the meantime, Warrandyte and surrounds should simply continue to do what we do best; take advantage of the monthly Repair Café, fossick and visit the shops like ReUse in Plenty.

 

Bag ban to stop litter before it begins

By SANDI MILLER

THE VICTORIAN Government has now banned single-use, lightweight plastic shopping bags across Victoria.
Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said the Labor Government would consult closely with businesses and the community on how best to implement the policy.
“Banning single-use plastic bags will slash waste, reduce litter and help protect marine life in Victoria’s pristine waters,” she said.
The trick for all of us will be to avoid adopting behaviours with an even greater environmental impact, such as relying on heavier single-use plastic bags.
Plastics in the environment break up into smaller and smaller pieces over time, becoming increasingly difficult to manage.
They can end up in our waterways, lakes and oceans — contributing to litter and posing a significant hazard to our marine life.
As seen in last month’s Diary, when local photographer Denise Illing captured a photograph of a platypus tangled in rubbish, our local river-dwelling creatures suffer from the pollution that ends up in the Yarra.
Reducing the number of plastic bags we use is an important part of addressing the overall impacts of plastic pollution.
The phasing out of bags in supermarkets is now well established, and local supermarket owner Julie Quinton has said that people are getting much better in remembering to bring their own bags.
Warrandyte Riverside Market has prepared stallholders for the ban, and has been suggesting market goers bring their own bag for some months in the lead up to the ban.
Dick Davies from the Market committee said they are taking the ban very seriously, with committee members checking compliance at the market.
“Any concerned customers can also report non-compliance to the market office marquee in the Stiggant Street car park,” Dick said.
He said customers also have a responsibility to bring their own bags and reusable coffee cups.
“Even plastic or cardboard cups labelled ‘eco-friendly’ are not bio-degradable if the appropriate disposable or recycling facilities are unavailable,” he said.
He said the market has attempted a number of times to provide reusable ceramic coffee mugs but “has run into problems meeting the required food hygiene criteria”.
“Our best advice to shoppers is ‘Bring your own bag and cup’”, Dick said.
The 2015/16 Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index reported that Victoria has the lowest litter count in the country for the fifth year in a row.
Let’s keep it that way.