News

New Research Pavillion kicks goals


CRICKET AND FOOTBALL in Research has a shiny new home, with the opening of the $3 million Research Park Pavilion.
Eltham MP Vicki Ward opened the pavilion on behalf of Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek.
She said she understood the importance of having such a community facility in Research.
“To be able to have every gathering that people want to have, at a venue in Research, is just fantastic,” she said.
The redevelopment project took almost 10 years from conception, and replaces the ground’s ageing infrastructure, and followed a huge turnout to a pivotal council meeting in 2017, which was attended by almost 300 club members in a show of support.
On the strength of the community engagement in the project the Council adopted the two-story option, rather than just a single-story pavilion.
The expanded clubrooms allow for a social space both for the resident clubs, but also for the whole community.

The then Mayor, Peter Clarke told the Diary that Council had to decide between a $1.2m single-storey pavilion, or an $1.7m double-storey.
“What it achieved was the financial viability of the clubs, because the clubs earn money out of that space as well as lease it out.”
He said the facility fills a need in Research for a community hub, and Council is encouraging community groups to use the space during the week.
“You do these things once and you do them really well — there is no good doing two-thirds of the task.
“This will last for 30–40 years — it’s a good investment in the future,” Cr Clarke said.
The two-storey redevelopment at the park, which is home to the Research Junior Football Club (RJFC) and Research Eltham Collegians Cricket Club (RECCC), has allowed for greater participation across the community.
Current Deputy Mayor Bruce Ranken, who is also the social infrastructure portfolio councillor, said the new pavilion was long overdue.
“The previous sports pavilion on this site was ageing and no longer fit for purpose,” Cr Ranken said.
“Council listened to what the community had to say and now we have this modern all-inclusive facility.
“This project shows what can be done with people power.”
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan said the upgrade included the addition of two much-needed female change rooms and facilities for female umpires.
“This wonderful new facility is a win for our whole community and, importantly, caters for the growing number of females in sport,” she said.
“Both the football and cricket clubs have had increasing numbers of female members over the past few years.
“But the growth of female participation in sport locally has been restricted by the lack of facilities and I’m pleased we are smashing these barriers here in Research,” Cr Egan said.
Paul Northey from Research Junior Football Club said that the new facilities would be fantastic for their 15 junior football teams — including four girls’ teams — and “would be an asset for the whole community for generations”.
Chris Cunningham from the Research and Eltham Collegians Cricket Club who play out of the facility said that the stadium would allow access for their 10 junior teams, including two girls’ sides, six mixed seniors’ sides, and a veterans’ team, an over sixties team and an all-abilities side.
Nillumbik Council contributed $1.69 million to the project as well as $265,000 for the upcoming car park works.
The State Government provided a total of $950,000, with $650 through the Growing Suburbs Fund, a $100,000 grant from Sport and Recreation Victoria and $200,000 in funding through a State Government election commitment in 2014.
“We went into every bucket,” Ms Ward quipped.
The football and cricket clubs raised $130,000 for the pavilion.
The pavilion features an upstairs community hall with kitchen, bar and meeting rooms overlooking the grounds.
Downstairs are four player change rooms, umpire change rooms and an accessible toilet and lift.

Grant awarded to fight deer


THE VICTORIAN Government has awarded grants of $30,000 to local Landcare groups to continue their work in protecting the local environment.
Part of this year’s grants program is supporting the work of Friends of Warrandyte State Park and Andersons Creek Landcare, both member groups of the Middle Yarra Landcare Network who received a grant of $10,900.
These groups are working to protect the last populations of Variable Billybuttons and Musk Daisy-bush from sambar deer in Warrandyte State Park and Manningham (see story below).
Sonja Terpstra MP, Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region , congratulated the successful recipients of the 2019–20 Victorian Landcare Grants.
“It is projects like these that make a significant contribution to both the environment and the economy,” Ms Terpstra said.
She said the annual grants program delivers “critical funding to Landcare and other environmental volunteer groups who make significant contributions to caring for the environment through on-ground works, education and capacity building projects.”
In a statement to the Diary, she said over the past four years, the Victorian Government has provided “more than $149 million to protect Victoria’s biodiversity, supporting native and threatened species through a range of on-ground initiatives and funding”.
Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said more needs to be done with respect to deer management.
“A large number of residents have contacted me in relation to the huge number of deer in the area, which is rightly being seen as a danger to both drivers and our sensitive environment,” he said.
Mr Smith said he raised the deer issue with the Environment Minister Lily d’Ambrosio 10 weeks ago, but has “yet to receive a response from her acknowledging the growing problem”.
“With the Minister failing to respond to my electorate, and with the Deer Management Strategy update almost eight months late, it is clear this concern has not even made it on to her to-do list.
“Any contribution to our committed volunteers is welcome, but this funding is a drop in the ocean when measured in the context of a problem that is reaching epic proportions.”
Ms Terpstra said the funding focuses on protecting and managing a range of native plants and animals, threatened species and habitats through collaborative planning, increased engagement and alignment of natural resources, scientific, educational and community sectors.
The Christmas Hills Landcare Group also received $19,000 as part of an ongoing program to eradicate woody weeds and to hold a talk to “Learn About Owls” in the Christmas Hills area (see story below).
Landcare is a key component of the Victorian Government’s plan Protecting Victoria’s Environment — Biodiversity 2037, which sets out the strategy to stop the decline of native plants and animals and ensure the environment is healthy, valued and cared for.
Ms Terptra conveyed her congratulations to the grant recipients.
“It is projects like these which make a significant contribution to both the environment and the economy.”
She also said investment in Landcare in the Warrandyte area was important “so that local communities can enjoy our precious natural environment for years to come.”

Landcare focuses on fencing out the deer

By ARTUR MUCHOW,
Middle Yarra Landcare

EACH YEAR local Landcare groups have the opportunity to apply for project funding from the State Government’s Landcare budget.
This year we are fortunate to have received nearly $11,000 in total for a substantial effort to protect specific native plants badly impacted by the growth in deer numbers.
The funding will be invested mainly in fencing material and plants.
This work is designed, in the short term, to limit sambar deer on Parks Victoria land and will enlist the support of Manningham Council.
Deer are browsing, trampling and rubbing threatened indigenous plants and their habitat, causing erosion, preventing natural regeneration and spreading weeds.
In the longer term we await the new Victorian Deer Management Strategy, now reported as due out later this year to address the problem at its source.
Friends of Warrandyte State Park (FOWSP) and Andersons Creek Landcare, member groups of the Middle Yarra Landcare Network (MYLN), will share the funding and co-ordinate their work to build fences and replant
destroyed species.
Between them, the two groups have 250 volunteer members, many of whom have special knowledge and skills to apply across the two Landcare groups and importantly to share with all volunteers.
Together they will co-ordinate on all aspects from planning right through to monitoring outcomes.
This year’s project will also cater for volunteers who enjoy particular activities such as monitoring and plant identification, especially important in this project.
There will be plenty of tasks for those who enjoy being physical, with fence building a big focus.
We are constantly told by volunteers that they love the involvement with Landcare because they are outdoors doing something to contribute to preserving the natural habitat, while meeting new people.
Volunteers of all ages are always needed, regardless of their experience level, so please join in.
Andersons Creek Landcare runs on Wednesdays 10am–12pm and FOWSP every Thursday 9am–12pm.
Contact both groups through Facebook to participate either regularly or occasionally.

Funding for Christmas Hills Landcare projects

By DON EVANS

Christmas Hills Landcare THE CHRISTMAS HILLS Landcare group received $19,000 in grants to allow landowners to protect and respect the local environment.

There are two parts to this project — the first builds on a long-running staged program of woody weed removal in remnant forests on private land in Christmas Hills that commenced in 2011.
To date, this program has treated woody weeds on 50 private properties covering a total of 669 hectares, and this new grant will enable us to treat woody weeds in 99.7 ha of remnant vegetation on 10 properties.
Complementing woody weed control works that Melbourne Water and Parks Victoria are also doing locally, this work will continue to improve the quality of our remnant vegetation, and the function of the habitat corridor it forms connecting Kinglake National Park to the Yarra River corridor and Warrandyte State Park.
This is all for the benefit of the rich diversity of flora and fauna Christmas Hills supports.
The second part to this project also builds on a long-running program of helping local landholders to better understand, and connect to, the natural environment of which they are custodians.
Specifically, this grant will enable local landholders to learn about the range of owl species that are believed to occur in and around Christmas Hills.
It will do this through a flight display of live owls that will give landholders the opportunity to meet some of the local species face-to-face, coupled with information on what landholders can do on their own properties to support owls.

The whys and wherefores of bylaws: Pets


Photo: Anthony Edge

HAVING A PET is a privilege and a responsibility.
There are rules around pet ownership that must be adhered to.
These rules ensure that both your pets and other members of the community are able to live together.
These rules are administered by our local councils, and while they differ slightly across all municipalities across Victoria, they all follow State Law, largely the Domestic Animals Act 1994.
Manningham’s Acting Director City Planning and Community, Niall Sheehy and Nillumbik CEO, Carl Cowie gave the Diary the lowdown about pet ownership in their municipalities.

Getting a pet

What some people may not be aware of, is that from July,1 2019, any person or business who is advertising to sell or give away a dog, cat, puppy or kitten will need to be enrolled on the Pet Exchange Register.
“The dog or cat must be advertised with the animal’s microchip number and source number, which has been generated by the Pet Exchange Register,” said Mr Sheehy.
The Pet Exchange Register allocates this unique source number to animals which ensures sellers are transparent about where an animal comes from.Sellers must ensure animals are microchipped before they change owners and animals must be microchipped before 12 weeks of age.
Once someone takes ownership of a new pet, they  should contact Council to register their animal as soon as possible.
Pet registrations are due to be renewed each year on April 10, but all puppies and kittens must be registered by three months of age — this is not the same as microchip registration.
The registration fee gives you more than just a lost and found service for your pet.
It is also funds:

  • facilities such as dog parks, dog poo bins and pounds/shelters
  • animal management staff to attend to nuisance complaints, investigate dog attacks, patrol parks/beaches/streets, and collect and return stray animals to owners
  • events such as pet expos and discount microchipping days
  • information such as responsible pet ownership publications, websites, and online courses
  • domestic animal business audits (e.g. to check animal welfare standards in pet shops, breeding facilities, boarding kennels etc)
  • management of dangerous and restricted breed dogs
  • dog bite prevention education programs for kindergarten and primary school children
  • emergency animal welfare preparedness
  • research into a range of dog and cat welfare issues

In Manningham and Nillumbik there are limits to the number of pets and/or livestock per household can have.
Residents can have two cats and two dogs per household without needing a permit.
There are also limits on other animals that can be kept.
In Nillumbik, without a permit a person must not keep more than:

  • 5 reptiles* or rodents
  • 10 large birds
  • 25 small birds
  • 1 rooster
  • 24 poultry

on any land throughout the municipality.
Keeping some animals may require additional licences.
*You are able to have up to five reptiles without a permit, however, you may need to obtain a licence from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to keep most species of reptiles in captivity.
In Manningham, the numbers vary slightly:

  • 13 domestic birds
  • 8 mice
  • 4 rabbits
  • 8 guinea pigs
  • 4 chickens, ducks, geese or pigeons

If you wish to exceed these limits, you may apply for an excess animal permit.
In Manningham, a permit is required to keep any emu, ostrich, goat, sheep, cow, pig, bull, or horse in an area less than two acres (8000 sqm).
And in either municipality, a person must not keep any livestock on any land in a residential zone or any land of an area less than 4000sqm.
A pet pig, for example, is considered livestock, so depending on the land zoning and size, a permit may be required.
Mr Cowie told the Diary if residents are seeking to keep animals outside these categories there is a vast array of laws that impact on having exotic or native animals as pets.
“In general, Agriculture Victoria is responsible for the legislation, regulations and standards that governs ownership of these pet types,” he said.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 protects the welfare of all animals, including amphibians.
Council is responsible for any issues that relate to breaches of containment, cleanliness, smell or noise nuisance that may come from exotic and native pets.
If you want to keep a native animal, for example a dingo, possum, or kangaroo, a private wildlife licence would be required.
These can be obtained through DELWP.

Dog laws

There are several areas of conflict where dog owners come into conflict with other community members.
One is persistent barking.
If a dog in a neighbouring property is too noisy and unreasonably disturbs you, the first step is to make contact with the dog owner to alert them that their dog is causing a nuisance.
If the barking persists and is deemed to be unreasonable, you can contact council to intervene.
The other area of conflict is dog waste.
Mr Sheehy told the Diary that for the enjoyment of the whole community dog owners need to carry a waste bag and pick up after their dog in public.
“Failure to do so could result in a $200 fine,” he said.
He said Manningham Council provide free poo pouches to dog owners.
“These pouches are often handed out by Council Rangers at our parks and reserves”.
Mr Cowie said Nillumbik Shire Council’s Amenity Local Law, states that a person in charge of a dog in a public place must have dog poo bags (or another receptacle to pick up their dog’s excrement) with them.
“They must ensure their dog’s excrement is collected and disposed of appropriately.
“Additionally, if requested by an authorised officer, the owner must present the bags (or other receptacle) they have with them to collect their pet’s waste,” Mr Cowie said.
There are many places to take dogs to run off-leash.
Manningham has 81 off-lead dog areas, including 28 sporting grounds and the popular Warrandyte River Reserve.
Nillumbik have 13 off-lead areas, including two dedicated off-lead dog parks.
One is in Diamond Creek and the other in Hurstbridge.Mr Cowie said off-lead areas throughout the municipality can be located on the Nillumbik website.
However, there are no Council-managed off-lead areas located in North Warrandyte.
Off-lead does not mean a dog can run amok.
Every off-lead dog area has its own signage and guidelines that must be adhered to and they all require off-lead dogs to be under effective control,” said Mr Sheehy.
Effective control by command means the dog must be:

  • Within 25 metres of the owner.
  • The owner is able to see the dog at all times.
  • The owner can recall the dog immediately when needed.

There are further guidelines that help people to act as responsible dog owners and avoid causing concern to other users of a park.
Guidelines include:

  • A dog is at least 15 metres away from permanent barbecue facilities, children’s play equipment, organised sporting events, approved functions or public meetings.
  • A dog’s owner has a leash on hand at all times.
  • A dog is not threatening of worrying any other user of the park.
  • A dog’s owner brings their dog under immediate control if any aggressive behaviour or threat is displayed to another person or animal.
  • A dog’s owner stays alert and focused on the dog at all times.
  • A dog’s owner brings a maximum of two dogs to the park at one time.

There are rules around some breeds of dog which require special registration and cannot be imported or bred.
These include pure or cross bred American Pit Bull Terriers (or Pit Bull Terriers), Perro de Presa Canarios, Dogo Argentinos, Japanese Tosas, and Fila Brasileiros.
Rules have been removed for owners of greyhounds.
As of January 1, 2019, all pet greyhounds are no longer legally required to wear a muzzle in public, including retired racing greyhounds.
A greyhound adopted through Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Greyhound Adoption Program must always be on lead in any public place, but like other dogs, all greyhounds still need to be under effective control by their owner.

Cat owner responsibilities

There is no cat curfew in Manningham.
However, Council recommends that cats be confined to their owner’s properties.
Nillumbik Shire Council has an order requiring cats to be confined during the specified hours of 7:30pm to 6am and restricts the presence of cats in certain public areas (e.g. parks or reserves).
The curfew time remains the same all year round — including during daylight saving time.
Mr Sheehy said as per Victorian state law, cat owners are responsible for ensuring their cats do not wander onto a private property at any time.
“Stray cats may be seized, notices of objection may be served and further non-compliance may result in penalties being issued,” he said.

Vaccinating pet rabbits

Having pet rabbits can require additional precautions when kept in close proximity to feral rabbit populations.
A new strain of rabbit calicivirus, RHDV1 K5 (also known as K5); was released in Victoria in March to help land-owners control pest rabbits.
Anyone who owns pet rabbits should make sure that their vaccinations are up-to-date to protect against the virus.
Domestic pet rabbit owners can take the following extra precautions to protect pet rabbits from K5 infection:

  • Prevent contact between pet and pest rabbits.
  • Don’t cut grass from areas where pest rabbits may be foraging and feed it to pet rabbits.
  • Wash hands with warm soapy water between handling rabbits.
  • Insect-proof the hutch with fly and mosquito proof wire or keep pet rabbits indoors.

Choosing the right pet

No matter what pet you choose, the most responsible choice is one that fits in with your lifestyle.
Remember that puppies and kittens won’t be small and cute forever, so don’t get a puppy if you don’t want a dog.
They are a commitment for up to twenty years.
Ask yourself:

  • What type or breed will you choose?
  • What size dog?
  • How much time do you have for grooming and training?
  • What is your financial position?
  • Will it be kept inside, outside or both?
  • Why do you want a pet?
  • Where you are going to buy it?

Both male and female dogs and cats can be de-sexed at three months of age.
By de-sexing your pet you are promoting responsible pet ownership by preventing unwanted litters.
Council provides a discounted registration fee for dogs and cats what have been de-sexed.
When choosing the type of pet to suit your needs, consider the amount of time the animal will be alone, the time you can commit to grooming and care.
When considering a cat, think about whether there are native birds and animals in your area and whether you will have an enclosure for your cat.
In general, fine-boned oriental cat breeds are very active companions while the larger heavy-boned breeds tend to be more sedate and less inclined to hunt and wander.
And when considering a dog, remember that a cute pup is going to grow up — six months down the track your dog could grow to be much larger than expected.
Consider going to a rescue shelter when looking to adopt a new member of your family, there are many older dogs who deserve a second chance.

For more information, see your relevant council’s website, DELWP, or the Department of Agriculture, or get down to the Nillumbik Pet Expo in Diamond Creek on Sunday, October 20 and talk to Council officers about responsible pet ownership.

 

Recycling service resumes in Nillumbik

AT THE ELEVENTH hour Nillumbik Shire Council have secured a short-term deal with SKM receivers, KordaMentha, to deliver all recycling material to the recently reopened Laverton North facility.
In a press release issued on Sunday morning, Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan welcomed the new deal.
“This is exciting progress for our residents, who are enthusiastic recyclers and have been waiting patiently for proper services to resume,” she said.
However, the new deal has a number of restrictions which means it is not exactly business as usual.
Bundled plastic bags will no longer be accepted and any resident wanting to dispose of them should take them to a REDcycle program receptacle at Coles or Woolworths.
Stores in Eltham, Greensborough, The Pines, Diamond Creek and St Helena participate in this program.
Council has also said it does not have capacity for additional collections which means residents who have been stockpiling their recyclable material, in anticipation of services returning to normal, will need to take it to Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre at 290 Yan Yean Road, Plenty.
The new deal is also putting Nillumbik, and its residents on the frontline in the war against waste.
“The new arrangement is a lot stricter. If our recycling is more than 10 per cent contaminated, it may be rejected and sent to landfill.
“It’s up to residents to do the right thing,” said Cr Egan.
If and/or when the Laverton North facility is sold to another company, Council will likely need to renegotiate with the sites new owners.
KordaMentha is the advisory and investment firm appointed as receivers and managers to SKM Recycling Pty Ltd in August.
KordaMentha also received a $10 million State Government loan to aid in the restarting of proper recycling processes for the groups seven sites.
Nillumbik used to deliver to a facility in Coolaroo, but that facility currently remains closed.
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan thanked residents for their patience as Council worked to find a way through what is a national crisis.
“Nillumbik residents are among the best recyclers in Victoria and I encourage you to continue your efforts through our kerbside collection,” Cr Egan said.
Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre is also open to the public to drop off paper, cardboard and metals for recycling.
The cardboard and paper is collected from there by Veolia and taken to the VISY paper plant in Coolaroo, where it is made into new recycled packaging.
The metals are taken to Ecocycle where they are sorted and then recycled locally and overseas.
The fallout from SKM Recycling Pty Ltd entering receivership is still plaguing the State.
Every week there is another story in national press about the mess left by SKM after they failed to pay their creditors.
While the 33 councils impacted by this recycling crisis look to find solutions that avoid sending waste to landfill; warehouses, such as the one owned by Marwood Construction in Derrimut (as reported in The Age on September 29), which has 10,000 tonnes of waste stored by SKM before it went into receivership, currently have no way of getting rid of it.
The ABC recently reported that Indonesia is preparing to send 100 containers of plastic back to Australia following a discovery that the waste, earmarked for recycling, was contaminated.
The bottom line is, while the resumption of recycling services is good news for Nillumbik residents, this issue is far from over, to emulate the words of Nillumbik’s Mayor, it is up to all residents, regardless of municipality, to do the right thing and to continue to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Council’s recycling respite

By DAVID HOGG

The DIARY continues to follow the ongoing recycling crisis which has forced Nillumbik Council to take recycling waste to landfill for the past few weeks.
A comprehensive statement of the current position was posted on Nillumbik’s website on August 30.
“SKM’s Laverton facility is expected to re-commence processing recycling within five weeks; however, timeframes are still unknown for the Coolaroo, Geelong and Hallam facilities.”
Nillumbik, along with the 32 other Councils affected by the closure of SKM, is hopeful that this is the beginning of the return to normal recycling practices.
Presently Nillumbik, like many other councils, has no alternative than to send this material to landfill, but is exploring alternatives to try and stop this from happening.
An earlier bulletin from Nillumbik gave indication of the complex and confusing series of contracts in place, the Diary sought clarification from Nillumbik’s Chief Executive Officer Carl Cowie.
Nillumbik Shire Council is one of five Councils that has a contract with the Metropolitan Waste Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) to manage its recycling, and they in turn have a contract with SKM Industries Pty Ltd.
A separate company, SKM Corporate Pty Ltd, was the first to be placed into liquidation, and another company SKM Recycling Pty Ltd has a direct deed with Nillumbik Council for day to day contractual matters.
On August 21, mainstream media reported Cleanaway paid $60m to become the major lender and has put Cleanaway, effectively, in control of the recycling group.
Although the details of contracts and payment arrangements, which were renegotiated in June just before this crisis broke, have been kept as a closely guarded secret by Council, Mr Cowie clarified that Council does not continue to pay SKM or its receivers if they do not take recycling.
Recycling sent to landfill is subject to the Victorian government’s landfill levy.
The Victorian government recently announced financial support to councils to manage the impacts on their recycling system with the closure of SKM, but the specific detail of this financial assistance on a council-by-council basis is not yet fully understood.
As well as continuing to work with the MWRRG on alternatives, Council is applying for some of the $6.6 million recycling rebate on offer from the Victorian Government to help cover the cost of the landfill levy.
It is also exploring options to accept a broader range of separated materials such as glass and plastics at their Recycling and Recovery Centre.
Although Nillumbik and other councils will be relieved recycling sorting facilities are coming back online, this crisis is far from over.
Manningham Council is not affected at this stage, as its recyclables are handled by Visy Recycling.