News

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.

The whys and wherefores of bylaws: nature strips

COUNCIL AREAS have many different rules and bylaws in place that residents must adhere to when going about their daily lives.
Sometimes quite differently in each of our two municipalities.
In this new series the Diary seeks to clarify what can and cannot be done under these local laws.
This month we investigate the what and the why around nature strips.

What exactly is a nature strip?

According to VicRoads, a nature strip, sometimes called a road verge, is defined as “the area between a road and adjacent land and includes — amongst other things — areas of grass, cement or gravel, dirt and driveways — it does not include the kerb, shoulder of a road or a bicycle path, footpath or shared path”.
Given the semi-rural environment in Warrandyte and North Warrandyte, nature strips are a bit of a grey area for many people — we often do not have the standard footpath and strip of lawn that you see in the urban areas of the municipalities.
So what does that mean for homeowners and occupiers?

Can I, can’t I

Nillumbik CEO, Carl Cowie advised the Diary that it is “accepted practice that residents maintain the nature strip abutting their property as an extension of their garden”.
However, contradicting this, he also said residents must not remove or prune indigenous vegetation, non-indigenous vegetation or trees on nature strips or rural roads without Council permission, and if a resident wants to plant on the nature strip, they need written permission from Council.
“The resident must submit an application that includes a map of the area and a list of the plant species intended for planting,” he said.
The proposed species must be from the Live Local Plant Local publication.
Mr Cowie says Council is responsible for maintaining trees on council land.
“Residents are allowed to remove plants on the weed list of the Live Local Plant Local publication,” said Mr Cowie.
In Manningham, road verges are council owned land, these can be traditional style nature strips, road reserves or tree reserves.
Manningham Director of City Planning and Community, Angelo Kourambas told the Diary Council is responsible for managing trees on council land, however in contrast to Nillumbik, this includes removing ivy and other weed species from nature strips.
“We encourage residents to contact us about any trees on their nature strips that may require attention, so that we can have a qualified arborist inspect the tree and schedule any works,” Mr Kourambas said.
He said while residents aren’t permitted to do their own planting on council land, residents that would like a tree or additional planting on their nature strip should contact Council to request this.
“We will then investigate options for the specific area.”
There are also different rules that apply depending if you are on a Council road or a main road managed by VicRoads, with slightly different vegetation removal rules depending on the speed limit of the adjoining roads, these can be found at www.vicroads.vic.gov.au
Nillumbik’s website discusses how roadsides adjoining Council roads fall into two classifications, Low Conservation Significance or High Conservation Significance.

Properties classified as Low Conservation Significance under Local Law No. 5 can undertake the following without a permit:

• The removal of fine ground fuels (grass, leaves, twigs, loose bark).
• The removal of regionally controlled weeds and those weeds listed in Council’s guide Live Local Plant Local.
• Maintenance and mowing of any part of the road reserve containing exotic vegetation abutting the property.
• The removal of vegetation that has fallen onto the road from the resident’s land.
• The removal of vegetation that is the subject of a fire prevention notice.
• Participation in works undertaken by friends groups, Landcare groups and community fireguard groups in accordance with an agreement approved by Council.

Properties classified as High Conservation Significance under Local Law No. 5 can undertake the following without a permit:
• The removal of regionally controlled weeds and those weeds listed in Council’s guide Live Local Plant Local.
• Maintenance and mowing of any part of the road reserve abutting the resident’s property comprising exotic vegetation.
• The removal of vegetation that has fallen onto the road from the resident’s land.
• The removal of vegetation that is the subject of a fire prevention notice.
• Participation in works undertaken by friends groups, Landcare groups and community fireguard groups in accordance with an agreement approved by Council.

Further information, including a copy of Live Local Plant Local, is available on the Nillumbik website: nillumbik.vic.gov.au/Living-in/Roads-Drains-and-Paths
Further explanation of what residents can and can’t remove can be viewed under “Roadside Vegetation Removal” via nillumbik.vic.gov.au/Living-in/Fire-and-other-emergencies/Preparing-for-fire.

Parking 

Paths, nature strips and dividing strips are not constructed for the parking of vehicles.
Parking on them can damage the nature strip surface, trees and root systems, kerb and channel, paths, house drain connections and other underground services, and it can also impact sight lines for drivers and pedestrians.
Mr Cowie said, “you are not allowed to park on or store any type of vehicle or trailer or building materials on nature strips”.
Parking on nature strips is not permitted under Victorian road rules legislation, this can be enforced by Victoria Police and/or Council.
Mr Koroumbas said, when investigating parking on nature strips, Manningham Council officers will consider the location, whether damage is being caused, along with visual impacts for drivers and pedestrians in the area.
The VicRoads website confirms that a driver must not park on a bicycle path, footpath, shared path, dividing strip, or a nature strip adjacent to a length of road in a built up area, unless the driver parks at a place allowed by a parking sign.
A motorcycle rider can stop on a bicycle path, footpath, shared path or dividing strip, or a nature strip adjacent to a length of road in a built-up area, in a place where the motorcycle does not inconvenience, obstruct, hinder or prevent the free passage of any pedestrian or any other vehicle.
Mr Koroumbas said residents can report illegally parked vehicles to Council at any time for investigation.

Prepare now for bushfire season

LATE AUGUST saw the launch of the Australian Season Bushfire Outlook 2019.
Held as part of the Australian Fire and Emergency Management Conference at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Emergency Management leaders from across the country gathered to launch the report, which was compiled by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Dr Richard Thornton, CEO of the Bushfire CRC gave an overview of the outlook for the whole continent, and said this year we will see that a lot of the activity, particularly in the east, is dominated by both an increased average temperature and a decline in rainfall.
Dr David Jones of the Bureau of Meteorology said the coming summer will be a challenging fire season in terms of the fire weather.
“We anticipate an early start and a long season, certainly based on the climatic conditions we have in place at the moment, he said.
Victoria’s Commissioner for Emergency Services, Andrew Crisp said this year would be a fairly similar picture to last year, citing particularly bad weather across Gippsland and the Alpine areas.
“We are more likely to see protracted and campaign fires which is exactly what we saw last year on the back of record low rainfall for the previous two years, so we are now in the third year of that,” he said.
This rainfall, the report states, has led to “severe levels of underlying dryness persisting in soils, and heavy forest fuels, along with higher abundance of dead fuel components and higher flammability of live vegetation”.
This could mean a busy time for our local brigades from Warrandyte heading out on Strike Teams.
And this does not mean Warrandyte should become complacent.
Dr Thornton said in his experience with communities that have experienced bushfires, a large proportion of the community are not well prepared for the fire season.
“A lot of them express surprise that they were actually impacted by fires, so it is important that we note that fires are a normal part of the Australian landscape and fires can start anywhere, they can start without warning, and in fact many communities may not receive a warning, because the fire will be on them so quickly.
Commissioner Crisp said that now is the time to start thinking about your preparation.
“It is cold and it is wet at the moment, but this is the time where we need to start preparing — so we plan and prepare in peace time, because it is too late when we are actually battling a fire,” he said.
Talking to the Diary, Commissioner Crisp advised that communication is the key to preparing for fire season.
“If you are getting good information, it will enable you to make good decisions,” he said.
He advised to have the Vic Emergency App loaded on your phone and to begin the physical preparation of properties.
“In the areas like Warrandyte and  Eltham, what are people doing to start thinking about preparing their properties?”
The emergency services have commenced preparing for the coming season.
Commissioner Crisp said there is a really narrow window as to when and where planned burning can occur.
“Forest Fire Management Victoria and DELWP have done their absolute best in relation to their targets for planned burning,” he said.
Chris Eagle, Assistant Chief Fire Officer of Forest Fire Management Victoria told the Diary that the urban areas of Melbourne are very interesting places to burn, as they are more complex burning areas because of the urban interface.
“Last year we did burning in Greensborough for the first time, so we are very conscious of how we do that small mosaic burning.
“We have a depot at Warrandyte, and the team there is very conscious of how they work with the local community to protect them,” Mr Eagle said.
Commissioner Crisp said that the population in outer Melbourne was growing, but that should not change our vigilance or our preparation.
“Even though we say Gippsland is of higher risk, we can’t become complacent anywhere across the state… that peri-urban fringe, where there is a lot of grassland, no one can afford to become complacent,” he told the Dairy.
“It doesn’t matter who you have got and where you have got them, it comes back to shared responsibility — [the Emergency Services] are preparing across the country — individuals and communities, are you preparing?”
Commissioner Crisp urged residents to begin now to start preparing for the season ahead by clearing around your house, cleaning gutters and making a fire plan — practice it and to stick to it.
“If you have got a plan to leave on an Extreme or a Very High day, then just make sure you do it — you have developed a plan for a reason.”

Earlier this year, Warrandyte Diary and CFA partnered with students on the Swinburne University Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media — Animation course to produce a series of short, educational animations on fire and bushfire safety.

Visit our Fire Safety page on the Warrandyte Diary website (warrandytediary.com.au/fire-safety) for tips on how to prepare your property, prepare your Fire Plan and what the various fire danger levels mean.

To make sure you are fire ready, download the Vic Emergency App from the iTunes or Google Play store, store the Bushfire Hotline number in your phone 1800 226 226 and make sure you listed to Emergency Broadcasters including 774 ABC Radio Melbourne on days of high risk.

VEC Representation Review: Manningham


The Victorian Electoral Commission’s (VEC) Local Council Representation Review: Preliminary Report for Manningham has been published.

Those interested in submitting feedback regarding the two options outlined in the preliminary report have until 5pm on Wednesday, September 18 to do so.

In total, there were 6 (six) submissions in the initial stage of the Manningham representation review with approximately 64 per cent of the submissions stating they were happy with the current number of councillors and the current number of wards.

In response, VEC have proposed two options, both of which maintain the current structure of three wards with three councillors per ward.

The two options propose a slight boundary shift reducing a reduction of the size of Koonung Ward.

Images courtesy of VEC, for illustrative purposes only.

Option A brings extends Heidi Ward, bringing the entire suburb of Bulleen under one ward, whilst Option B moves the boundary of Mullum Mullum Ward, to bring the entirety of Tunstall Square Shopping Centre into the same ward – Mullum Mullum.

These boundary changes will have minimal impact to Warrandyte Diary readers but if you do wish to “have your say” regarding the preliminary report, visit the VEC website for details on how to submit and to read the full report.

 

Vale Sigmund Jorgensen

Image: Where the blue shadow dances under the cream panama, SYD TUNN

THE ARTS COMMUNITY is in mourning for the passing of Sigmund Jorgensen OAM, a cornerstone of the arts in Nillumbik, aged 79.
He was the son of Montsalvat founder Justus Jorgensen and served as chief executive and artistic director of the historic artist colony from 1969 to 2005.
Justus and his partner, Lily Smith, established the beautiful artist’s colony in Eltham in 1934, naming it after the home of the legendary Holy Grail.
Originally built for Justus and his family, Montsalvat attracted many artists, artisans and intellectuals over the years, including Clifton Pugh, Betty Roland, Leonard French, Helen Lempriere and Albert Tucker.
Sigmund and his brother, Sebastian, are the children of Justus and colony member Helen Skipper.
Lily and Justus remained married and reportedly dined together with Skipper each night, much to the chagrin of the less liberal-minded.
Current Executive Director of Montsalvat, Jacqueline Ogeil expressed the sadness of the whole Montsalvat community at Sigmund’s passing.
“It is a very sad end of an era for us.
“His contribution and dedication to Montsalvat was all encompassing and his love for his heritage and artistic expression was ever present,” she said.
Sigmund, known lovingly as the Godfather of Eltham, is remembered for his significant and considerable contribution to the arts and the broader Nillumbik community.
He made Montsalvat a haven for local and international artists.
His contributions to art and culture were many, including the Melbourne culinary scene, running the award winning restaurant Clichy, being a judge at the Melbourne Asian Food Festival, food critic for the Melbourne Times and played host to, and support the formation of, the Montsalvat Jazz Festival, which has gone on to become one of the major Melbourne cultural events.
Sigmund was also a supporter of the acclaimed student orchestra, the Geminiani Chamber Orchestra.
Sigmund was a Nillumbik Shire Councillor from 1999 to 2002 and served as Mayor from 2000 to 2002.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan acknowledged his important involvement in Nillumbik’s arts and culture scene.
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Sigmund Jorgensen’s passing and offer our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
“Sigmund leaves an enduring legacy as a passionate advocate for the arts, and we are grateful for his tireless promotion of Nillumbik and Montsalvat as significant cultural centres,” she said.
Bend of Island’s artists Syd Tunn and Ona Henderson recalled fond memories working with Sigmund for several years on projects at Montsalvat.
The couple said they found Sigmund to be “a warm-hearted generous and honest supporter of so much in the cultural life of Eltham and beyond”.
“His passion was legendary, innovative and determined — for all art forms.”
They invited Sigmund to sit for them in their studio for an Archibald portrait, however Ona says initially he was shy.
“I said I’d make a gorgeous lunch, and Syd said (being a quick painter) that it would only take a couple of hours.
“Well it was memorable! And we dined in style with a classy vintage red to wash it down.
“Syd painted this portrait (above) in several hours, it sold at The Archibald Salon and Sigmund asked for a framed print of Syd’s acrylic on canvas,” recalled Ona.
In 2013 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for service to the arts.
He is remembered as a friend and supporter of the arts and artists all his life.
Sigmund Jorgensen is survived by his partner Sue and brother Sebastian.
Montsalvat will be holding a public memorial service at 2pm on August 9 and will be closed to visitors that day.

128,000 reasons to support our market


THE WARRANDYTE Riverside Market continues to go from strength to strength, distributing $128,000 in grants, donations and jobs created in the last financial year.
As a not-for-profit community organisation, revenue raised by stallholder leases is used in small part to pay for management and operating expenses, and also fees to Manningham Council and St John’s Ambulance for attendance.
A large part is distributed back into the local community by way of grants to schools, kindergartens and local community groups, including the member service organisations and associations.
In addition to the management committee members, local beneficiaries included Warrandyte High School, Neighbourhood House, the Be Ready, Warrandyte bushfire campaign, Warrandyte Festival, a Pottery Expo award for innovative contemporary ceramics, Rotary Art Show, Warrandyte Junior and Senior Football Clubs and Warrandyte Pre- school.
Most of the running costs incurred by the committee create jobs in Warrandyte.
Over and above the Market committee’s revenue, is the additional overall return to Warrandyte stallholders, who otherwise would not have an outlet on a Saturday morning — all of which adds up to a sizeable return to the Warrandyte economy.
The market is held on the first Saturday in each month except January, with two markets in December.
The market management is by a sub-committee of Warrandyte Donvale Rotary under licence from Manningham City Council.
Other members of the organising committee consortium are the Warrandyte Lions Club, North Warrandyte CFA, the Warrandyte Community Association and the Warrandyte Community Church.

ATM to stay

One of the most asked questions at the market office on market day is: “where is the nearest ATM?”
For a while stallholders and market visitors have been asking if one could be made available.
With this in mind, the organising committee investigated the hire of an ATM tent for the market.
The July market was the first time ATMs were on site and available to visitors and stall holders, and it was a huge success.
The committee had been prepared to invest funds for the provision of this facility, should the demand not have met the required transaction level.
Happily, in their first appearance, the ATMs exceeded the minimum transaction level and so will now become a regular part of the market infrastructure.
They are located in Stiggant Street car park near the market office and the St John First Aid station.

Scouts scupper shops’ stocks of snags

THE JULY market saw the Warrandyte Scouts’ best stall yet with over $1,000 raised.
Over the last 12 months the scouts have improved the layout of their kitchen and introduced some new ideas.
In July they offered slow cooked roast pork and lamb rolls, cooked over the coals on a traditional scout campfire.
The problem was, there were so many people attending the market, the mouth-watering smells of fine food attracted the market visitors by the droves, and there was not enough to go around when it got to lunchtime.
They sent a detachment of troops to IGA where they bought up all the remaining bangers.
Still not enough!
The next platoon sallied forth to the butcher’s, where again they emptied the store of snarlers.
And still they ran out, eventually having to turn people away.
The Scouts’ market stall offers the scouts the opportunity to develop skills in service, cooking, money handling and organisation while serving their community.
Warrandyte Scouts is one of the most successful groups in the district.
They use the income from the market to buy equipment and materials for camps and adventures.
And they proudly announce that one of their venturers, Hamish, is representing Warrandyte at the World Jamboree in Virginia this month.
Next market, beat the crowds and help the scouts fund their next adventure.

 

Recycling crisis hits Nillumbik

Update: 14/8/19

ON AUGUST 13, Council released an update regarding the recycling situation in Nillumbik:

Council is working with the State Government’s Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) to find an alternative for the Shire’s recycling. Council has a contract with SKM through the MWRRG. SKM’s closure affects several councils and about half of Victoria’s recycling.

The broader, long-term issue requires a response from all levels of government. At this stage SKM, while temporarily closed, has indicated that it is working to recommence receiving recycling.

Council will continue to collect recycling bins as normal and encourages residents to continue their recycling efforts until this is resolved, it’s important we keep working together to meet the current challenges.

Unfortunately we expect this week’s recycling will be sent to landfill.

The capacity of alternative facilities in the north of Melbourne is limited and the MWRRG is working to find alternative arrangements.

FAQs

Why can’t Council follow Boroondara’s lead and use Visy or another provider for its new recycle facility?

Nillumbik Shire Council is one of five Councils that has a contract with SKM Industries Pty Ltd through the Metropolitan Waste Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG). A separate company, SKM Corporate Pty Ltd, was recently placed into liquidation. SKM Recycling have advised that SKM Industries Pty Ltd is still able to trade.

Notwithstanding current contractual arrangements, the biggest hurdle for alternatives to processing recyclables appears to be the lack of excess capacity in the northern region to be able to process the kerbside recycle materials.  Other Councils appear to be taking advantage of capacity in other regions. The additional transport costs associated with processing outside the northern region is currently being quantified to help assess the value of any alternative arrangements.

Not a single Councillor, staff member or community member wants to put recycling to landfill, it goes against everything we stand for, so you can be assured we are doing everything we can to get through this.

What does council recommend for residents and how can residents help?

Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre at 290 Yan Yean Road Plenty accepts recycling paper and cardboard, metals (cans, aluminium foil, pots and pans) and e-waste free of charge.

These source-separated materials are sent to dedicated recycling facilities not affected by the SKM closure.

Residents can also help by avoiding and reducing the amount of waste generated in the first place, only placing the recycling bin out for collection once it’s full and taking soft plastics to Coles/Woolworths for recycling through REDcycle.

What are Council’s next steps?

In the immediate term, Council has no choice but to send kerbside recyclables to the landfill.

In order to understand and manage the contract risk, Council is currently having daily interactions with MWRRG given the situation with SKM is fluid.

In the medium term, the best outcome is that the recycling infrastructure currently owned and operated by SKM continues to operate to process municipal kerbside recycling, whether the operator is SKM or another party. This infrastructure is capable of sorting to the level required by markets both locally and overseas.

In the longer term, Nillumbik is participating in process initiated by MWRRG to explore a collaborative contract for recycling.

*******

ON AUGUST 2, the Supreme Court ordered recycling processing business SMK Recycling is now to be liquidated.
This followed a July 25 announcement that the firm would cease accepting Council recycling waste from 33 municipalities, including Nillumbik.
As a result, Nillumbik Council, which has been sending all its material from household recycling bins to SKM, may have to divert this material to landfill until a new solution is found.
Moments after news of SKM’s imminent demise was made public, Nillumbik issued a press release, advising residents of the situation.
The Council have continued to collect recycling bins as normal and encourage residents to continue their recycling efforts.
After the courts announcement, Nillumbik Mayor, Karen Eagan said residents can help by reducing the amount of waste they generate whether its recycling, food or general waste.
“Every effort is being made by Council to find short term, interim and long term solutions, including finding alternative recycling options.
“Like several other councils that are also affected, we’re very concerned about how we’re being forced to send recycling to landfill this week”, she said.
Cr Egan said Council will continue to work with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group and other councils to create sustainable solutions for managing waste.
Nillumbik has been in a long-term collaborative contract with Wyndham, Brimbank, Melbourne and Port Phillip Councils, with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group as contract principal — this contract was not due to expire until 2026.
Cr Egan said the state’s recycling service is a state-wide and long term issue that “requires a stronger response and commitment from all levels of government”.
Apart from the obvious concern of all environmentally-conscious residents that recyclable material is once again going to landfill, there are serious financial aspects to this fiasco which will undoubtedly have a significant effect on Council rates in future years.
Sending this material to landfill comes at a cost, as all Councils have to pay a State Government levy for every tonne of material deposited in landfill — an extra expense that has not been budgeted for.
Additionally, any contract with an alternative collector would come at a significantly higher price than that agreed with SKM.
More worrying is that although we do not know what advance payments, if any, have been made to SKM, we do know that at the last Council meeting on June 25 the existing contract was amended to change the price.
That item on the agenda was held in camera, and despite our enquiries to Council as to whether additional sums over and above the original contract agreement had been paid to SKM in the last month, we are told that “the detail remains confidential”.

The bigger picture

Earlier this year, SKM was ordered to stop receiving waste at its Coolaroo and Laverton North sites after they failed a waste audit and SKM was fined $16,000 for failing to get its facilities back within regulation within the prescribed timeframe.
SKM has been in an insolvency hearing at the Supreme Court, facing liquidation from creditors, with debts reported to be in the millions.
The recycling company — who has contracts with 33 Councils in Victoria — had warned 400,000 tonnes of recyclables would be sent to landfill each year if the company was to permanently close.
There is genuine concern that this will become the reality.
As the recycling situation has deteriorated during the last month there has been no shortage of blame in the mainstream press.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio recently labelled SKM as a “rogue operator”.
Victorian Waste Management Association’s Chief Executive Peter Anderson criticised councils for continuing to send recyclables to SKM and of being irresponsible in maintaining their contracts with the company.
SKM pointed the finger at households for contaminating the recyclable rubbish.

Impacted Councils

There are a total of 79 Local Councils in Victoria.
33 Councils across Victoria had contracts with SKM to collect and process their waste.
The other 46 used Visy or similar waste and recycling contractors.

The 33 Councils which have been impacted by the liquidation of SKM are:

  • Melbourne, Port Phillip, Darebin, Nillumbik, Hume, Whittlesea
  • Wyndham, Brimbank, Moonee Valley, Hobsons Bay, Cardinia
  • Booroondara, Stonnington, Knox, Casey, Kingston
  • Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Colac, Otway, Queenscliff, Surf Coast
  • Ballarat, Macedon, Hepburn, Golden Plains, Mildura, West Wimmera,
  • Yarriambiack, Buloke, Hindmarsh, Pyrenees, Glenelg.

At this point in time, all other Councils in Victoria are still able to collect and properly process recycling.

The War on Waste continues

Recycling: increasing costs and new initiatives

OUR ARTICLES on recycling in recent issues of the Diary have met with much interest. Our ongoing look at the issue has garnered feedback from both residents and government alike, but sadly, not the recycling companies themselves.

Local Councils

Increased costs

The separate Manningham and Nillumbik Council meetings on June 25 each made reference to these councils signing deeds of amendment to their contracts with Visy Recycling and SKM Recycling respectively to amend the pricing for delivery of recyclables to these operators.
This comes as a consequence of China’s restrictions on imports of foreign waste, although the specific details in both instances were
confidential and held in closed meetings.

Soft plastics

Manningham does not accept soft plastics in the recycle bin.
Nillumbik Council has confirmed with the Diary that it is accepting soft plastics in a tied bag in the recycle bin, whereas SKM Recycling’s website tells us that no soft plastics are allowed.
We are advised that Nillumbik Shire Council is one of four councils currently participating in a trial project to collect and recycle soft
plastics in kerbside recycling bins.
The remaining Councils that send recycling to SKM do not have this arrangement.
After the bags of soft plastics are collected, they are sorted via manual picking or optical sorting technology, compacted, baled and sent to a plastic recycler either locally or overseas for recycling into a range of items including other soft plastics, street furniture and children’s toys.
This trial is currently being reviewed by the partner councils and Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group in light of data
collected over the past 18 months and the current challenges in Victoria’s recycling industry, and will continue until further notice as the review progresses.

Co-mingling and sorting

Whilst welcoming the initiative to start recycling soft plastic, for this writer, who already sorts waste into
landfill (red), recycling (yellow), garden big stuff (green) and food, ash, lawn clippings, leaves into our own compost bin which makes wonderful nourishment for our garden, the need to further segregate soft plastics became somewhat of a logistical problem.
We tried hanging a plastic bag in the kitchen waste cupboard, but there was no room and it got in the way, so we hung it outside by the bins and the contents blew all over the garden in the next gale!
Councils do not sort rubbish; they pick it up and deliver it.
This means that the sorting of rubbish is done either by the householder at one end of the chain or the recycling company at the other.
Recycling companies are noting that the mixing of glass, paper, aluminium, steel, plastic and cardboard into one yellow bin (co-mingling) can cause difficulties.
Co-mingling of multiple classes of recyclable product in the one bin causes cross contamination, e.g. glass gets into paper and plastic.
Asian countries have not actually banned the import of Australian recyclable waste; they have reduced t h e percentage of allowable
contamination to levels which are very difficult and costly to achieve, so this effectively can be regarded as a ban.
And some of the solutions in the pipeline may require us to further segregate our rubbish into yet more bins in the future.
New initiatives such as burning landfill waste to generate power will require an extra sorting process.
Only 50 per cent of red bin (landfill) contents is burnable, so either the householder will be asked to sort it, or the receiver will have to accept the lot, sort it themselves, and take the remainder to landfill.

Recycling companies

The Diary has made every effort to interview SKM Recycling and Visy Recycling, offering to see how the
sorting process works, report on what happens to the sorted materials, and take photos; however, all our efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

Nillumbik Council

Nillumbik Shire Council had put the creation of a domestic recycling scheme on the agenda at the Australian Local Government
Association conference in Canberra in mid-June, and Council hopes it will be supported and added to a national advocacy campaign.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan said putting items such as recycling on the national agenda would benefit councils and residents across the country.
“Many councils are facing the same issues and we look forward to working collaboratively to address them and seek support from the Federal Government,” Cr Egan said.
“Nillumbik has led the way when it comes to recycling for so many years and developing a domestic industry would mean we would no longer be reliant on China and other counties.”

Victorian Government

The Legislative Council, the upper house of the Victorian State Parliament, is currently in the process of conducting an inquiry into
Recycling and Waste Management.
Sonja Terpstra MP, State Upper House Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, visited Warrandyte last month to inspect the new bridge.
She was impressed with the level of community engagement within Warrandyte and was interested in our coverage last month of recycling
matters, as she is a committee member sitting on the current inquiry process which is ongoing as we go to press.
Speaking as the Member for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, Ms. Terpstra noted that of the 12.9 million tonnes of total waste generated by Victorians in 2016–2017, 4.2 million tonnes was sent to landfill and 8.6 million tonnes was diverted from landfill for recycling.
Of this recovered material, 86 per cent remained in Victoria and only 14 per cent was exported overseas.
2.3 million tonnes of the total waste above was attributable to kerbside collections, and 46 per cent of this was diverted for recycling as a State average, although our local councils are doing much better.
Ms. Terpstra noted that Victorians are excellent recyclers — by and large.
She was keen to stress the low percentage, 14 per cent, of recyclables that were exported and felt that recent publicity concerning the policy
change in China made the problem appear larger than it actually was.
However, this did not take away from the fact that community concern still exists about exporting of recycling to other countries, contamination rates and the like.
Ms Terpstra also drew attention to other initiatives being taken by industry including:

  • •A proposal by Australian Paper to proceed with Victoria’s first energy-from-waste project with plans to use kerbside rubbish to
    help power its Maryvale Paper Mill; the scheme is in fact very similar to — but on a much larger scale than — the initiative being
    taken by Manningham Council to convert tree waste to biochar and further development of that technology to produce power,
    as we reported last month.
  • Advanced Circular Polymers’ $20 million advanced plastics recycling facility in Somerton, which received a $500,000 funding
    boost from the Andrews Labor Government and is set to process 70,000 tonnes of plastic each year.
  • The Government has issued a statewide exemption for local councils to remove the administrative barriers to extend their recycling
    collection contracts to June 2021 and look at future shared contracting of recycling services across multiple municipalities,
    which will help local councils save money in management and procurement costs.
  • The Victorian Budget 2019/20 is investing an additional $35 million to strengthen and diversify Victoria’s waste and recycling industry.
  • Lightweight, single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned across Victoria from November 1, 2019.
  • A complete ban on sending electronic waste to landfill came into effect on July 1.

Ms Terpstra observed shrewdly that we are spending a great deal of time working on how to get rid of rubbish, but perhaps our focus should include looking into why we are creating it in the first place.
Having just purchased a dashcam for my car which arrived in a plastic bag containing a cardboard box containing polystyrene and no less
than six sealed plastic bags containing things such as simple cables and USB adapters, which did not need to be wrapped, I have to question — do we really need all that packaging?

Repairing our throwaway culture

By JO FRENCH

THE INAUGURAL Warrandyte Repair Café went off with a bang, a snip, a screw and a stitch on Sunday, July 7 at the Mechanics’ Institute Hall.
The initiative of the Warrandyte Mechanics’ and Arts Association is only the third Repair Cafe in Melbourne and follows in the footsteps of the movement that started in Amsterdam.
The event was held from 10:30 to 12:30 and organiser David Tynan was encouraged by the number of visitors and repairers that took part in the event.
“A great turnout,” said David as he gestured to the crew of volunteers around the room that had made the day a success.
Jillian McKinn offered her skills in garment repair and upcycling.
“It’s is a wonderful idea for people to learn to repair,” said Jillian, “I loathe the idea of a throwaway society, and I was delighted to be involved.”
Jillian worked alongside Agnes Stuyfbergen and Denise Farran to help Hazel Rice recover an old faded footstool with bright red Burmese woven fabric.
Agnes’ sewing skills were also put to good use teaching a visitor to darn a woollen jumper.
“I showed her how to do one hole,”
said Agnes, “and then she went home to do more.”
“It’s really exciting, so many people came in with a variety of different things.”
Greg Lawrence was working on a few small mechanical repairs and had a happy customer leave with his pressure pump sprayer working again.
“It’s a great idea — on two fronts — it gets people together and helps people out.”
Brian Prewett and Roger Gray worked together on a few appliances.
“Of the three, we fixed a slow cooker but the vacuum cleaner and toaster were simply worn out,” said Brian.
“The Repair Café suits me,” said Roger, “I like the idea of fixing something rather than trashing it.”
Jock Macneish was also on the scene.
“The repair café is a wonderful device for delaying the terrible moment when I realise I will become old and useless,” he said.
“While I can still fix things, I can delude myself,” he said.
The grin that followed was evidence of the fun and companionship shared over the event, and all participants are looking forward to next month’s event.
The next Repair Café will be held Sunday, August 4.

Where have all the koalas gone?

By SANDI MILLER
Feature image: Sondra Vlasic

ANYONE WHO has lived in the area for any length of time will know the joys of receiving a visit from one of Warrandyte’s koalas.
Sadly, this is an increasingly rare occurrence, and as our nature columnist Glenn Jameson discusses below, the reintroduction and
subsequent drought has been responsible for the boom and bust of the local koala population over the last 20 or so years.
Koalas locally have been a large tourist drawcard, indeed the national value of the koala as a tourism icon has been estimated at over $1 billion.

In 2004, the then Department of Sustainability and Environment produced a Koala Management Strategy, which outlined the challenges faced by the koala population and the approaches to aid in their preservation.
Major conservation issues for the koala in Victoria were seen as the continuing incremental loss of mature trees through deliberate felling
associated with land development and land-use change, and the declining health of remnant trees in rural landscapes.
The potential for increased frequency of wildfire associated with climate change is also a serious concern for the Koala.
Annual koala counts in Pound Bend occurred from 1998 to 2011, with numbers declining over this period.
This local decline may be caused by dispersion along the river corridor, as individual koalas tend to require a substantial environment to accommodate their dietary needs, or other factors such as the Millennium Drought, urban encroachment or natural attrition.
In light of the Government reviewing the State’s Koala Management Strategy, which seems to have been much more successful than that of New South Wales and Queensland where koala populations are effectively extinct, the Diary sat down with Vivian Amenta, Wildlife Management Coordinator at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
Diary: What has led to the decline in the local koala population?
Vivian: In Victoria, the koala population was reduced to extremely low numbers by the 1920s, when the koala fur trade was finally abolished.
A re-introduction program, begun in 1923 with French Island koalas, has resulted in occupation of almost all suitable koala habitat in the State.
While we do not have statistics for koala numbers in Warrandyte, there is no doubt that numbers would have dropped over the last 20
years, and indeed would have been declining since people first moved into the area.
This is due to habitat fragmentation, removal of their preferred food trees to make way for housing, roads and other infrastructure, and significant numbers being killed directly by cars and dogs.
Though koalas are considered vulnerable in Queensland and New South Wales, in rural areas of Victoria and South Australia,
they are plentiful, and far healthier than their northern counterparts, as the diseases chlamydiosis and koala retrovirus are not nearly as
prevalent.
In fact, in Victoria and South Australia, fertility control and translocation are required to ensure they do not eat themselves out of house and home and end up starving.
Diary: Are there any plans to repopulate the area?
Vivian: Translocation of koalas is only undertaken in areas where their on-going welfare is well-assured.
Unfortunately, the network of roads, the ever-increasing housing density and number of predators (dogs) in Warrandyte and surrounds rules out consideration of repopulation here.
There is also a need to consider the existing population of koalas.
They are territorial, will fight to retain/establish their patch, and if the new comers are displaced, they may try to return “home”, increasing
their chances of road mortality.
This is why the Kinglake translocation undertaken in 2017 was considered ideal.
We only translocate to sites where there are very few or no existing koalas.
At Kinglake we were able to release the koalas deep within the park.
There is only one nearby road and the 400 koalas were able to move in unopposed, as sadly, the existing population had been destroyed in
the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
Diary: Are there tips we can give local residents to provide habitat for the animals?
Vivian: Residents can encourage koalas to remain by:
• discouraging harassment by dogs – their own animals and other residents’
• keeping dogs on-leash when in koala habitat
• not letting dogs roam
• being “wildlife aware” when driving
• requesting that speed limits be lowered on local roads, and adhering to the limits
• calling wildlife carers to assist when an animal is sick or injured
• reporting cases of wildlife cruelty (yes people are cruel to koalas) to Council and DELWP
• planting appropriate species of Eucalypts — though there are around 28 species that Victorian koalas will eat, koalas in this part of Victoria prefer manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), swamp gum (Eucalyptus ovata), blue gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) and
river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
• leaving out shallow bowls of water for koalas in hot weather — koalas get most of their moisture from leaves, but in hot conditions will need additional water.
Diary: What are the ongoing plans for koala management?
Vivian: Victoria is currently in the process of reviewing the Victorian Koala Management Strategy (2004).
Updating the Strategy is an action under DELWP’s Living with Wildlife Action Plan, to ensure the State’s koala populations are secure and
healthy, and to guide their current and future management.
Victoria’s koala population will also benefit from the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity 2037 Plan which aims to improve the extent
and condition of native habitat and secure the greatest possible number of species in the wild.

The story of the boom and bust of the koala

By GLENN JAMESON

MY MATERNAL Grandmother was an English World War One, war bride, marrying my grandfather an Australian soldier after he was
discharged from the army suffering chronic “trench feet” from wet and muddy trenches at the Somme.
Grandmother owned a pair of gloves made from koala fur, her pride and joy, bringing them on the honeymoon voyage to Australia.
As peace spread across Europe, a war continued on koalas with an estimated eight million koalas killed between 1888 and 1927 for the fur
trade, their waterproof pelts shipped to London, the United States and Canada to line coats and make hats and gloves.
By 1924, the koala population had gone bust; they were extinct in South Australia, severely depleted in New South Wales, and estimates for
Victoria were as low as 500 animals.
The economic bust of the 1930s depression was a difficult time for Nana who had the task of bringing up a family of six by herself as
Grandfather had died, never quite recovering from the war.
By this time, the koala population on the Victorian mainland was thought to be confined to a few remnant populations in South Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula.
Citizens concerned at the survival of the koala in Victoria during the 1930s captured individuals and placed them on Phillip Island and
French Island where they were secure and able to breed up.
Koalas had been extinct from Warrandyte for decades when in 1985, government agencies released 30 adult and eight juvenile koalas at
Pound Bend.
The following year there was another release of a similar number.
Phillip and French Islands had provided security to enable koalas to boom and breed up large numbers but now they were outstripping their habitat.
However, the koala boom was from an isolated, in-bred population, with a very low genetic diversity and this population is now the source of most of the Victorian koala populations — with the exception of unique Strzelecki Ranges wild populations, which are genetically intact and diverse.
The release was incredibly successful and by 1995 koalas were generally found everywhere in the Middle Yarra area where there was suitable habitat, especially in Warrandyte State Park, the population had even spread to private property.
In Dreaming Stories, Wurundjeri legends associate Koobor (koala) with drought.
Although they may kill koala for food, the skin may not be removed, or bones broken, until after koala is cooked.
Should anyone disobey this law, it is said that the spirit of the dead koala will cause such a severe drought that everyone except the koalas will die of thirst.
In 1997 the Millennium Drought started, the climatic version of “boom or bust”, and our local koala population went bust.
The koala diet is very restricted, there is only a few species of eucalypt leaves which they can eat.
The leaves they can eat also need to have a minimum moisture level of 45 per cent to provide them with enough water so that they do not have to drink water.
The success of the 1985 koala release allowed koala’s to fill all available niches in local habitats, but the Millennium Drought reduced the leaf moisture content below 45 per cent and koalas began falling out of trees.
In the local wildlife refuge, 52 died in care and 102 were euthanized, the population dropping dramatically.
“Boom and bust” is the breeding dynamic many Australian mammals employ to overcome one of the most erratic and variable climates
in the world; breeding prolifically during productive high levels of rainfall, which allows populations to safely diminish (bust) during
periods of drought and then expand again (boom) when the rains return, Australian mammals are genetically pre-determined to
manage their population and habitat in conjunction with this climate cycle.
B u t , as successful as the translocation program operating from the Islands has been, the lack of genetic diversity has produced
behaviour traits which do not assist in survival.
For example, not changing food trees every night, thereby killing feed trees and breeding during droughts, strategies other genetically intact and diverse koala populations avoid doing.
The good news is koalas are still in the landscape — but at highly reduced numbers and fighting for survival.
I have not seen one since 2005.
On the mainland, the amount of viable habitat available remains a limited island in a sea of urbanisation, farmland and unsuitable bushlands.
The hotter and drier our climate becomes with Global Warming the more precipitous their future becomes.
My Grandmother — a war bride and then a war widow — never needed her koala skin gloves in the hot Australian climate, but she
did need the sanctuary which her children provided for her in later years.
Something we may not be able to provide for koalas locally, as the climate warms.

 

 

VEC Representational Review of Manningham begins


THE VICTORIAN Electoral Commission (VEC) has begun its representational review of Manningham City Council.

Between now and October, members of the public will have their opportunity to have their say on the representational structure of Manningham Council.

The review will examine the following aspects of Council’s structure:

  • The number of councillors.
  • Whether the council should remain subdivided into wards.
  • The number of wards, their boundaries and the number of councillors per ward.

Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately says these reviews are an important way to ensure voters are represented fairly within the council structure.

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

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

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

Submission for the preliminary report will be accepted between Wednesday, June 26 and 5pm, Wednesday, July 24.

Information on how to submit can be found on the VEC website or will be listed in the July edition of the Diary.

On Monday, June 24, the VEC will be holding a public information session at the Manningham Civic Centre from 7pm.

Members of the public who wish to find out more before the purpose of this review and its processes are encouraged to attend.

National recycling problems deepen

AT A TIME when problems with weekly recycling collections have escalated beyond local council level to State and Federal Government, the Diary is still unable to find out exactly where the material we put in to our recycling bins ends up.

For this writer, and I suspect many of our readers, despite Councils’ best efforts to educate us, it has always been a problem understanding exactly what we can and what we can’t put in our recycling bin.

Different councils have different rules, some packaging carries a numbered recycling logo yet Councils say that some of these cannot be recycled, stuff that is obviously plastic such as coat hangers are not to be recycled, glass bottles are OK but drinking glasses and window glass are not.

We are told to put “soft plastics” into another plastic bag (Nillumbik only) but their recycling company tells us that nothing is to be inside plastic bags, and is that black tray that your BBQ meat came on made out of recyclable plastic or polystyrene?

It all gets much too difficult and I was slightly in sympathy with a non-politically-correct neighbour who told me, “I’ve never understood it; I just put everything into the green bin because it gets collected weekly and I don’t have to bother sorting it”.

But now even when we do get it right, we have to ask whether it actually gets converted into something useful or gets stockpiled or sent to landfill or, at worst case, left in a disused warehouse until it catches fire!

One of the problems is that the so-called recycling companies do precious little recycling themselves.

Their function is to collect the refuse from the local council, sort it, and then “make it available” to other companies, some of whom may be subsidiaries who do recycle the material, or they may export the material for processing overseas.

Local councils are very helpful in providing information; recycling companies are not.

Nillumbik

Nillumbik residents are some of Victoria’s best recyclers, consistently achieving at least 65 per cent diversion from landfill, compared to the State average of 46 per cent.

Nillumbik is one of five councils in a collaborative contract with recycling processor SKM Recycling, administered by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group on behalf of the councils.

This contract requires SKM to manage kerbside recycling in an environmentally responsible way.

Nillumbik delivers approximately 7,000 tonnes of kerbside recycling to SKM annually.

Of all the material collected in the Yellow Bin, the big hitters are glass, at 27.96 per cent, paper at 23.41 per cent and cardboard at 17.66 per cent.

Whereas soft plastics come in at 1.48 per cent and Tetra Pak (or liquid paperboard) at a low 0.45 per cent.

It is expected that SKM will sort, bale and sell this material through local and overseas markets for processing into new products.

According to SKM’s website, more than 60 per cent of materials remain in Australia for use in local industries.

In regards to whether any materials are being stockpiled, Council has not been notified of any non-conformance since SKM’s Laverton North and Coolaroo sites re-opened in March.

Residents can find out what to recycle or how to dispose of something correctly on Nillumbik Council’s website.

SKM Recycling has not responded to the Diary’s emails or phone calls.

In the recently adopted 2019/20 budget, ratepayers will see an increase of around 3.5 per cent in charges for waste and recycling collection, bringing the standard waste charge to $263.40.

Manningham

Manningham have a similar arrangement to Nillumbik, but their contract is with Visy Recycling.

Visy would appear to have associated companies who produce PET plastic food containers and it would seem that their clients can select the inclusion of varying amounts of recycled content.

But as with all the “recycling” companies their website concentrates a great deal on “collecting” and “sorting” the waste and “recovering” the material but has very little to say on how it is reprocessed and what is actually produced from the material and where.

Our calls to Visy to find out about all of this fell on deaf ears, but Manningham Council were helpful in providing the Diary with the contact details of their person there.

However, despite numerous emails and phone calls, no-one at Visy has responded to us or returned our calls.

In the draft 2019/20 budget adopted in principle by Council in April with a final decision occurring at the June 25 Ordinary Council Meeting, Manningham ratepayers will see a domestic waste service charge increase of 2.25 per cent.

State Government

In February 2018, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio chipped in $13 million to help the Councils manage their recyclable rubbish, after China had refused to accept further plastic waste.

This was a stop-gap measure in the 2018/19 Budget.

In late May of this year, Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings announced that Infrastructure Victoria should look at what is needed to develop waste-to-energy projects and resource recovery from organic waste.

It comes at the same time as Malaysia announced that it would be returning plastic waste to Australia and after the earlier discovery of a dozen illegal waste sites in Melbourne’s north as well as toxic factory fires involving waste stockpiles at Campbellfield, West Footscray and Coolaroo.

Federal Government

The Australian Government has announced the appointment of an Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environment Management.

The new Assistant Minister, Trevor Evans, was appointed on May 26 as part of Scott Morrison’s new cabinet.

Evans said he is humbled to have been sworn in as the Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management and was looking forward to the challenges ahead and working as a strong advocate for protecting Australia’s environment.

No more time to waste

With the recycling industry now in a deepening crisis, it is time for government — at all levels – to come up with a plan, and hopefully some sort of standardisation across councils and packaging, so that we all know what can go into any yellow bin in Australia and have confidence that it will be properly recycled.

It is clear from the 2019/20 Budget that a solution to the recycling crisis has not been found.

Maybe it is time for the community to handle this problem on a local level.

Dealing with deer

MANY READERS will be aware of the increasing number of incidents in and around Warrandyte involving deer.

There are regular posts on the Warrandyte Businesses and Community Facebook page about deer sightings, and regular walkers in Warrandyte State Park are likely to have spotted a deer or two around Fourth Hill and The Pound.

There is an increasing number of posts regarding incidents involving deer on roads too.

The Andersons Creek Landcare Group is on the front line when it comes to the battle against the damage inflicted by the deer population.

Andersons Creek Landcare Group Secretary, Jill Dixon, spoke to the Diary about the deer problem at Andersons Creek Reserve.

“Deer are now quite a serious problem, doing more damage than foxes, rabbits and feral cats.

“They are so large, they breed quickly and can reach up high, with a taste for most bushes and trees and stripping the bark off trees,” she said.

In November 2018, the Diary published a story about environmental groups’ dissatisfaction with the State’s Draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy (DVDMS), their dissatisfaction supported by concurrent submissions by Manningham, Nillumbik and Yarra Ranges Councils to the DVDMS in July/August of that year to make it easier for councils to control the deer populations in peri-urban municipalities.

But the DVDMS is woefully inadequate and local Landcare groups are asking residents to write to State Government to convey this concern.

“You can help by writing to Victorian State Ministers on the inadequate strategies currently in the planning process which we believe are too few and too slow,” said Ms Dixon.

Public submissions and responses to the DVDMS were due to be released in February this year.

The Diary wrote to Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to ask them for an update on the DVDMS.

“A Deer Management Strategy is currently being developed to set out a coordinated and strategic approach to deer management across the state.

“Feedback received during public consultation is currently being reviewed to inform the development of the final strategy.

“The final strategy will be released later this year,” said a spokesperson for DELWP.

The Diary also spoke with North Ringwood resident Brian Dungey, a licensed hunter.

Mr Dungey believes the deer are not as large a threat to the local environment as others have stated.

“Yes, deer do some damage to the environment… but compared to people and stock they do very little.

“People as a whole need to care more for their environment before we start blaming animal species — we are the more destructive species.

“I would pose the observation that kangaroos do more damage due to their over-population here in Warrandyte,” he said.

Mr Dungey also believes the DVDMS has missed the mark, but for very different reasons.

“While it acknowledges deer are both a material and monetary resource it doesn’t do enough to help landowners and the State to benefit more from the money that could be derived from foreign hunters and from balloted hunts.

“The document does acknowledge that deer are too many and too wary to remove from everywhere, hunters also acknowledge this and the Government should make further use of these people, and not just one group of hunters.

“The use of scent-trailing hounds is generally acknowledged as the most effective form of deer management yet the document doesn’t make use of this tool.

Mr Dungey also commented the deer management strategy does not do enough to discourage illegal hunting practices, and that practices such as arial hunting and poisoning not only cause the animal to suffer, but can also cause more problems down the line, like attracting feral dogs.

“Hunters dislike the waste, expense and cruelty created by aerial shooting.

“Recreational hunters are more than happy to remove all the meat from the deer they take.

“Aerial shooting creates food for feral dogs, which then breed up, and then kill native wildlife.

“What the document needs to do is change the law so venison gathered by legal hunters can be commercially processed and donated to charities for human consumption which happens in many countries,” said Mr Dungey.

Currently, whether you are of the opinion that deer are either a game species that should be protected, or a pest species which needs to be eradicated, this introduced species is still currently protected under the Wildlife Act.

Mr Dungey has some advice for residents who would like to deter deer from their property.

“Deer are creatures of habit, once land owners have established where the deer are accessing their properties, they can set up scarecrows and use solar powered flashing lights to act as a deterrent.

“The more you move around your property the less deer are likely to visit, as they like to be left alone.

“Remember deer only want three things, to eat, to drink and to sleep, you need to deny them what they want.”

Mr Dungey notes these animals have been in country for more than 100 years and have adapted to the environment.

“Perhaps we, as people, need to consider living with these wonderful creatures — they have adapted to living with us — are we so arrogant as a species that we expect other sentient creatures to conform to us?”

If an invasive deer population, or any wildlife is causing significant damage to your property, and your only option so to have them destroyed, then there are a series of permits you are required to possess before you can hire a local hunter.

This starts with an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) permit which is issued by DELWP.

A recent discussion on 3AW, and subsequently the Rural Link Facebook group, regarding the explosion in number of eastern grey kangaroo across Nillumbik, attributed to a migration of the kangaroo population from the Northern Growth Corridor.

Urban development is displacing the kangaroos in the urban growth corridor and forcing them to move onto properties in the Green Wedge.

Property owners are reporting an exponential rise in the number of kangaroos causing property damage and becoming a traffic hazard, this may add some weight to Mr Dungey’s controversial statement regarding living with deer.

Extending this to encompass all wildlife, maybe the discussion should look to how Green Wedge communities can co-habit with both indigenous and introduced wildlife as urban expansion around Melbourne continues.

 

Photos: Shirley Bendle

Have your say on North East Link


THE NORTH East Link Authority (NELA) has released its Environmental Effects Statement (EES).

Both Manningham and Boroondara Councils have had concerns over, in particular, the light industrial and sporting precincts in their council areas.

Manningham Council claims that 1,200 jobs will be lost with the loss of the light industrial areas around Bulleen and that the road project will take away public sporting facilities in the area.

In a special meeting on June 4, Cr Paul McLeish spoke passionately about the need for compensation for removal of these local amenities, particularly as they are situated on some of the only flat open space in the municipality.

The special meeting also heard public submissions, with public concern expressed for the welfare of the 350-year-old River Red Gum in Bridge Road Bulleen, which council have agreed is a of significant cultural and environmental importance and have included its protection as one of their recommendations, along with Bolin Bolin Billabong.

Based on the preliminary information provided on the proposed North East Link (NEL) project, Manningham Council has submitted 19 recommendations to the North East Link Authority (NELA), of those 19, the following are of significance to the residents of Warrandyte.

The upgrade of Templestowe Road (including an off-road shared path) should be included as part of the NEL project.

That a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service between the CBD and Manningham is incorporated as part of the Doncaster Busway proposal.

Ensure that public transport infrastructure and service improvements to the Doncaster Area Rapid Transit (DART) are provided.

Provide a number of improvements to the local bus network to support public transport connections between the City of Manningham and the La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster.

Develop the existing Doncaster Park & Ride site to create a mixed-use Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).

That a corridor along the Eastern Freeway is preserved for a future heavy rail link to Doncaster (or that the Doncaster Busway is designed to allow for future transition to heavy rail).

To deliver a number of walking and cycling improvements including a new shared-path bridge across the Yarra River between Bulleen and Heidelberg and safer pedestrian crossings in various locations.

Enhance the Koonung Creek Linear Park and associated trails, including a safe crossing point at Doncaster Road and maintain the existing natural landscape environment.

Minimise or mitigate impact to several sites of (cultural, recreational or community) significance throughout the municipality.

Provide prominent public art at key “gateway” entrances to Manningham.

Ensure that no road tolls are introduced to the Eastern Freeway

Public submissions to the North East Link EES close at 5pm, Friday, June 7.

To have your say go to https://engage.vic.gov.au/north-east-link-project

The next step is for the appointment of an Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) who will conduct hearings starting on July 25.

Those who have made a written submission will be invited to give a verbal submission to the panel.

Your Say: Brickbats and Bouquets

RSL Access an issue for our ageing Veterans

Dear Diary,
Two veterans from the Second World War led the march along Yarra Street on Anzac Day this year.
One used a walking frame; the other was in a wheelchair.
Warrandyte’s citizens greeted them as the heroes they are.
They were waved at, cheered and clapped.
The march ended at the bridge for the turn into — and up to — the place where the service was to be held.
And there began the problem for those leading men.
The climb up the steps was steep and long.
And the steps were not deeply spaced nor wide enough for a walking frame.
Certainly out of the question for a wheelchair.
Alternatively, the second entrance was a little further along.
A make-piece railing, bound with wire which end sprung dangerously into space.
More difficult steps leading to a steep and rutted track along which it was impossible to push a wheelchair.
My 96-year-old father was in that wheelchair.
He had to leave it and finally reach the service area on the arms of strong and willing relations.
When the National Anthem had been sung and all the photographs taken, he had to leave the area the same way — walking with difficulty on the arms of the stalwart younger generation.
Access difficulties are not confined to veterans in their nineties.
My generation of Vietnam “boys” are only a few years behind and they too will find, if they already have not done so, that the easy part of the march ends at the entrance to the RSL.
Babes in prams and pushers, the civilian elderly and the disabled are all faced with a steep climb made extra difficult by dangerous path work.
Last year I was already worried about access to the service area for this year’s Anzac Day and, not knowing how heritage overlay, OHS, the roles of Warrandyte RSL, Manningham Council and the State government could affect improvements, I approached State MP, Ryan Smith as a first call.
He readily took up the problem and began talks and a visit with the RSL and the Council.
Then came the State election and despite two emails to Mr Smith since then I have heard nothing.
And nothing was done to make this year’s end of march access easier and safer.
Please, is there nothing that can be done to improve the situation before Anzac Day 2020?
Gaynor Bishop, Warrandtye

Hoon Hassles in Jumping Creek

Dear Diary,
This is an issue I think everyone living in and around Warrandyte must be made aware of and I ask that you all share this with your friends to ensure as many people as possible will know about this very local, potentially dangerous situation.
Jumping Creek Reserve, off Jumping Creek Road, but across the Yarra from North Warrandyte, approximately 1.5 kms as the crow flies north of Warrandyte Village, is a ticking time bomb.
I live directly opposite the picnic area and car park, and along with my neighbours I enjoy hearing visitors having a good time at the Reserve during the day.
However, as night falls other visitors arrive, doing burnouts and causing so much noise it is unbearable.
I’m sure this terrorises the wildlife in that area as well.
Sometimes they light fires (with wood provided by Parks Vic) and then they leave, often leaving the fires burning….and these fires are not always in the BBQ areas.
My neighbours and I regularly have to call the CFA and police but of course after hours police from Doncaster are never going to arrive in time to catch the hoons.
Last night (early April) at 10:30pm the situation escalated dramatically.
Hoons were doing burnouts for half an hour before leaving and peace reigned again, for ten minutes until the first massive explosion bought me to my feet.
Across the river was a huge car fire, flames leaping up among the top leaves of gum trees.
More explosions and finally the car was totally engulfed with the sky alight with fire and smoke.
We called the emergency services with the CFA arriving within 10 minutes.
They extinguished the fire before it escaped into the tinder dry bush on this occasion, but imagine if it was one of our hot nights with a north wind blowing.
The river would be no fire break as the embers would be landing in our village. We have two major issues here and locals have tried to eliminate them in the past even meeting with an MP on site, to no avail.
These two issues:
The park is only ever closed if the fire rating is severe or extreme, not necessarily on a Total Fire Ban day. This means vehicle access is 24 hours at all other times.
Wood fires BBQs are available here, with wood provided by Parks Vic, all year round. In such a high fire danger area why do we need wood fired BBQs? Parks Vic answer to this is “healthy Parks, healthy people”.I believe it would be acceptable to all visitors to the park to have no fires at all in the fire ban season. If I can’t light a fire 50 meters away on my property, why should visitors to the park be able to light fires? Remembering that not all fires are lit in the BBQ areas.
Ok locals, what should we do about this situation, are you all happy to allow this to continue?
I believe it is only a matter of time, not if, but when, before a similar situation arises and we locals are not around to call emergency services.
We need the park closed at sunset and wood fired BBQs removed.
A small price to pay to keep Warrandyte and surrounding suburbs safe.
Gail Watts, North Warrandyte

Young people these days!

Meet North Warrandyte’s Litter Warrior.
Liz Blackwood takes a whole week of work each year to pick up rubbish along the north side of the Yarra and along Research-Warrandyte Road.
This year she collected over 4 cubic metres of other people’s rubbish.
She collects it in large bags then sorts it: the skip is for landfill and large yellow bags for recyclables.
“Thanks to mum and dad for helping and also bringing me icy poles on the side of the road…it was hot this year!” she said.
Liz’s mother Celia told the Diary that Liz has been doing this for several years, occasionally with the help of family, friends and neighbours.
“I think this is the 4th time Liz has had a skip to fill — it was filled up further when neighbours paddled the river and even collected a fuel tank,” Celia said.
“Pick up your rubbish people,” quipped Liz.
The Diary offers a round of applause to this amazing Warrandytian.
Great work Liz.

 

Lions Park ready to roll


WITH THE BRIDGE Upgrade now almost complete, attention turns to the Lions Park, previously the Lions Tennis Courts and more recently the work site for the bridgeworks.
The masterplan for the Lions Park project was approved by Manningham Council in September last year, and covered in our October issue.
Key features include additional picnic facilities, seating, barbeques, outdoor fitness equipment, drinking fountains, signage, public art displays and landscaping work, which includes an improved path layout and river access.
Angelo Kourambas, Director City Planning and Community at Manningham Council, told the Diary: “The site of the Lions Tennis Court will be updated as a part of the broader Lions Park Masterplan, which will deliver places and spaces for the whole community to enjoy.
“Lions Park works will be undertaken in a staged implementation over 2019/20 and 2020/21 and the immediate focus will be on updates to the areas surrounding the bridge, access and carpark improvements.
“Further community consultation will be undertaken around the design of the Lions Park play space and area and nearby picnic facilities.”
Council has allocated a total of $450,000 to the project in this and the next financial year.
There is an excellent animated video of the planned works here .
For more information, see manningham.vic.gov.au/manningham-approves-lions-park-masterplan

The Bridge is complete: but at what cost?


AS THE QUEEN of the Shire was returned to her rightful place, State Government politicians have come out to applaud the completion of the Warrandyte Bridge.
Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green has officially announced the completion of the project to widen the bridge to three lanes and build a new shared path for pedestrians and cyclists across the Yarra River.
“We’ve worked hard to make this bridge safer while preserving the unique character of the bridge and this area of Warrandyte,” said Ms Green.
She also commended the people of Warrandyte for their patience during the roadworks.
“We appreciate all of the feedback we received from locals who helped shape the look and feel of this bridge and showed great patience while we made these important safety improvements,” she said.
Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, Sonja Terpstra said: “I am really pleased to see the results of this project to make the bridge crossing safer and easier for all local road users.”
So with the politicians marking the project as complete, the Diary thought it was time to ask the authorities concerned with the Bridge Upgrade project whether they regarded it as complete, and what the total cost was.
Nillumbik suggested that we ask VicRoads whether they had any further landscaping works to be done on the north side.
Manningham told us that “Council is working with VicRoads to plan the delivery of the surrounding landscape works” in particular with reference to the Lions Park project, so we take it that there is still more site clearing and landscaping work to be done on the south side by VicRoads.
We asked VicRoads whether they considered the project to be complete, however they had not responded by the time we went to press.
Cost of the Upgrade
The Andrews Labor Government committed $5.1 million funding for the project in March 2016.
In May 2017, we ascertained the contract had been awarded to VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd for $4.265M.
In November 2017, following representations in State Parliament by local member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith, a further $200,000 had been secured for the slip-lane on the south side.
Following extensive delays to the project we asked VicRoads in November 2018 what the final cost of the project would be, in view of rumours circulating that the cost had blown out way beyond the original funding commitments.
At that time, they responded “The total cost of the project will be provided once complete”.
The Diary has continued to ask VicRoads over the past month what the final cost will be, and they have failed to respond to our questions.
We will publish an update if we learn anything further.

Nillumbik representation report published


THE VICTORIAN Electoral Commission (VEC) have released its preliminary report regarding the electoral structure of Nillumbik Shire Council in its representation review.

Following an analysis of the projected population/voter data and the comments made in the Preliminary Submissions the VEC want feedback on two options:

  • Option A: Seven councillors elected from three wards (one three‑councillor ward and two two‑councillor wards)
  • Option B: Seven councillors elected from seven single‑councillor wards.

 

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The VEC has highlighted its preference is for Option A.

An extensive 36 page report has been produced by the VEC and can read and downloaded here.

The urban/rural divide and the challenge of fairly representing residents was a common theme during the submission period.

It is common knowledge that the 435 square kilometre shire, with an estimated population of around 50,000 struggles with the challenges of having a highly concentrated population in its urban areas (Eltham had a population of 18,314 in the 2016 census) but has a responsibility to conserve the Green Wedge which makes up 91% of the geographical area and a population of 13,000.

This, coupled with ideological differences between significant community groups within Nillumbik’s Green Wedge, make fair representation a challenge.

Under the Local Government Act 1989 (LGA89), a subdivided municipality needs to ensure that each councillor represents around 10% of the total voter population.

The VEC uses LGA89 to calculate the total number of councillors needed to accurately represent each ward.

The choice to keep the number of councillors at seven is based on population growth projections which estimates Nillumbik Shire’s voting population will increase by 9.51% by the year 2036.

A large number of the submissions called for a system based on un-subdivided proportional representation, and while its preferred multi-councillor ward system does rely on proportional representation, it decided to not adopt a single ward model:

“The VEC recognises that there are some significant advantages to an un-subdivided electoral structure for Nillumbik Shire Council.

It would mean the proportional representation system would be used at elections and ensure that all seven councillors would be subject to the same quota to be elected (12.5%), which increases the community’s confidence during elections.

The un-subdivided electoral structure would provide voters with the widest choice of candidates at elections, enable both geographic and non-geographic communities of interest to elect a representative based on the proportion of support by the whole community and promote a whole-of-shire focus for councillors in a local council area where urban and rural interests are deeply inter-related due to their shared concerns about balancing environmental and development priorities.

However, the VEC has observed that elections for Nillumbik Shire Council have consistently been highly contested.

…An un-subdivided election for Nillumbik Shire Council will result in a lengthy ballot paper with an unwieldy list of candidates.

In the VEC’s experience, longer ballot papers can be confusing for voters and more difficult to fill out correctly, leading to higher levels of informal voting through voter error thereby effectively disenfranchising these voters.

On balance, the VEC did not favour an un-subdivided electoral structure for Nillumbik Shire Council for the following reasons:

  • An un-subdivided electoral structure would result in a much larger ballot paper.
  • The preliminary submissions have tended to focus on the division between interest groups with conservation or development priorities in the Green Wedge.

However, the VEC has generally heard that there remain differences in experiences and interests between urban and rural voters in the Shire.

Unlike an un-subdivided electoral structure, a subdivided structure would ensure there remains recognition of the broad geographic communities of interest in Nillumbik Shire.”

The VEC’s preferred three-ward multi-councillor option divides the shire into urban and rural wards and the multi-councillor option “ensures that the same counting system will be used in all three wards (i.e. proportional representation).”

With more than one councillor per ward, it is hoped this would address the issues of polarised council policy, specifically in the Green Wedge as it will not be just one councillor representing the view of everyone.

However, this is only going to work if the views/opinions of two Green Wedge council representatives are different enough to bring balanced representation to both conservation and development factions within the Green Wedge.

The VEC does highlight that under the three-ward Option, the Artisan Hills Ward is disproportionately larger — in terms of area — than the other two wards and may mean long travel times for those elected councillors, but the VEC states that this two-councillor structure keeps with the 10% representation tolerance.

If Option-A is chosen, will it “fix” the legislative issues in the Green Wedge? — probably not. It is this journalist’s opinion that the ideological and policy issues of the Green Wedge transcend Local Government.

However, if having multi-councillor wards stops the trend of Council swinging dramatically between development and conservation and allows for some debate on how to address both sides of the Green Wedge debate, then it is a good thing.

The VEC wants to know your opinion on Option A and Option B, public submissions are open until 5pm, Wednesday, May 8.

Submissions must include the full name, address and contact telephone number of the submitter.

Submissions without this information cannot be accepted.

Submissions can be made via:

The online submission form at vec.vic.gov.au

Email at nillumbik.review@vec.vic.gov.au

Post to

Victorian Electoral Commission

Level 11, 530 Collins Street

Melbourne VIC 3000

On Monday, May 13, there will be a public hearing at Nillumbik Council.

At this hearing, submitters will have a chance to talk about their submission in person.

Spruced up and ready to come home


THE QUEEN of the Shire is coming home, and her creator, highly acclaimed sculptor Deborah Halpern, is one of many that will be happy to see her back where
she belongs.

“I’m glad she is coming home,” said Deborah, “it’s exciting.”

Residents and visitors to the area have asked of her whereabouts and when she is returning.

“When a work is made for a special place and it is moved it is upsetting,” said Deborah.

Queen of the Shire, commissioned by Nillumbik Council and installed in 2015, usually stands 2.5 metres above the ground, on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Rd just north of the bridge, marking the entrance to Nillumbik Shire.

Per the agreement between Council and VicRoads, the sculpture was removed for protection.

“She was in the way”, said Deborah.

Queen of the Shire was found to have some damage so was taken away
for repairs.

“She’s gone … to have a little revamp,” said Deborah.

Council spokesperson Mitch Grayson said the artwork underwent a standard condition report while roadworks were underway.

“This condition report applies to all public artworks exposed to natural elements that can cause some wear”.

Council attributed the damage to “almost three years of exposure to natural elements”, saying that the repairs only amounted to “replacing about five missing tiles out of a sculpture that has a couple of thousand tiles”.

He said the costs were minimal — “and well within the standard maintenance budget for keeping public artworks in pristine condition”.

As a gateway piece, Queen of the Shire has the role of both welcoming residents and visitors into Nillumbik Shire, and also of watching over
that area.

“If only she could speak,” said Deborah, “if only she could say, look — slow down, you have to be careful here.

“We have the river, and we love our river, we love our little village … so be careful.”

When the sculpture first went up, many people would tell Deborah how much they loved her, and that “she was magical”.

“Her eyes look at you,” they would say, and Deborah’s response was “yes, she is looking, she is looking at everything and she’s looking
after everything.”

Growing up in Warrandyte, Deborah has lived here for over 60 years and has noticed that many things have changed.

Perhaps the return of The Queen of the Shire is a good opportunity to remind us all that there is a law to the land and we must be careful, we need to treat the area with respect.

“There are a lot of people here who are new to Warrandyte,” said Deborah, “and you have to get into the vibe and understand it.

“You need to have a sensitivity to the place you are in and take time to find out about it.”

Although not aware of her official return date, having her ready to come back is a relief.

With the bridge now open as usual, people have been wondering when and even if the Queen would return but with a new footing poured and the giant truck warning sign relocated, the Diary has been able to confirm with both VicRoads and Nillumbik Shire Council that Warrandyte and Nillumbik Shire’s prized sculpture will return within a few weeks.

“I enjoy spending time with her because I get to revisit the process … but she has a job to do … and she is coming back to look over that intersection … to look over the area.”

“We have restored her and she looks beautiful again, we have cleaned her up… and now she is coming home.”

Mitch Grayson agrees, telling the Diary that the Shire Council is very much looking forward to her being re-installed.

“What a great day that will be for all the people who have missed her so much!” he said.

Deborah is part of the Nillumbik Artists Open Studios, and her studio will be one of many open on the weekend of May 4-5 (see page 9 for more details).

 

Slow progress on Jumping Creek Road Upgrade


IN JULY 2016, Manningham Council endorsed the Jumping Creek Road Development Framework, a major project costing (then) $17.9M with a construction period of six years scheduled to begin in 2018.

The road currently carries over 8,000 vehicles per day, a number which is expected to double by 2035, and has had over 20 recorded vehicle crashes in the past five years.

An important link road between Warrandyte and the Yarra Valley, the road also gives access to the only river crossing within 10 kilometres for Wonga Park and the surrounding area.

A Jumping Creek Road Community Reference Panel was formed in 2017 and this consists of nine people comprising residents, businesses and community groups which are directly affected by Jumping Creek Road.

The works will include roadway realignment, emergency vehicle stopping bays and a shared pedestrian/cycling path which will run the entire length of Jumping Creek Road between Wonga Park and Warrandyte.

Roundabouts are to be constructed at the Warrandyte State Park Entrance, Hooper Road, Hartley Road and Yarra Road.

We ran a detailed description of this project in our July 2017 issue.

However, since then progress has been very slow and not a lot has happened.

The Diary asked Manningham Council for an update.

“Works to relocate water, gas and telecommunications lines between Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and Nelson Drive are progressing as part of stage 1A of the Jumping Creek Road upgrade,” said Grant Jack, Acting Director City Services.

“These works started in November 2018; over summer some electrical relocation works were delayed due to warm weather.

“While the relocation works are underway, Council is finalising the design of stage 1A of the road upgrade.

“This will include a planning permit process, which is anticipated to be advertised for public comment during April/May.

“The schedule of construction works for stage 1A will be set once the design is finalised.

“It is anticipated works will commence later in 2019.

“The upgrade is proposed to be constructed across a number of stages over an eight year period,” he said.

Manningham’s Yoursay website has a comprehensive map of the upgrade works.

However the website, and the responses from Manningham Council refer to various stages by number, but it is hard to determine which features are included in which stage and we have asked for further clarification of this and a mud map of the stage process with dates.

A further meeting of the Reference Panel has now been convened for Thursday, April 11 and we have been promised an update following this.

The Diary will keep you informed.

For more information and updates on the Jumping Creek Road upgrade, visit: www.yoursaymanningham.com.au/jumping-creek-road-upgrade

 

Artists open their studios


WARRANDYTE, and its surrounds, is home to many artists, and some are throwing open the doors to their studios to let the public see just how they work.
The next instalment of the Nillumbik Artists Open Studios program will take place on the weekend of May 4-5, with over over 30 artists participating, including relative newcomer to the program, Deborah Halpern, sculptor and creator of Warrandyte’s own Queen of the Shire.
The Diary caught up with Deborah recently, and she gave us some insight into what it’s like for an artist to welcome people in to their workspace.
“Open Studios is a great time to have conversations with people,” said Deborah.
“It’s nice that people are interested and a lot of people don’t know what a studio looks like.”
Deborah says that much of what is within her studio is experimental or works in progress, and many of the works will not make it into public view.
“It is quite challenging to open your studio,” said Deborah.
“The good side is that you have to clean it up – tidying up is a good thing, you have to do it sometimes, but you also feel a bit invaded – it’s like people coming into your head,” she said.
Deborah’s son, Artek Halpern-Laurence, is a screen printer and, with his studio on the same property, will also be participating in the program.
Founding Open Studio artists and Diary regulars, Ona Henderson and Syd Tunn will also be opening the doors to their Bend Of Islands studio, an ‘Aladdin’s cave … abundant with magical adventures’.
The artists officially open their studios two weekends a year, in May and November, but many of the artists also run workshops at other times.
The weekend after Open Studios, May 11-12, Deborah will be holding one of her two-day mosaic workshops, where participants can create a mosaic piece from design to completion.
Later in the year, Research Potter, Jack Lätti will hold a workshop 
on wheelwork, hand building and raku firing.
Navigating around the 32 participating studios across the Shire has been made easier with the program being divided into geographical zones.
Studios in Zone A centre around  Eltham and Research and include Kate Hudson,  Chris and Mary-Lou Pittard, Wendy Hicks, Linda MacAulay, Sue McFarland, Glynis Brown, Clare Dunstan, Jacquie Hacansson and Jack Lätti.
Zone B includes artists from Warrandyte, Panton Hill, St Andrews and Bend Of Islands: Artek Halpern-Laurence and Deborah Halpern, Annette Nobes, Nerina Lascelles, Bruce Mckay, Ona Henderson and Syd Tunn, Tim Read and Jess Jarvie.
While Zone C features artists from Hurstbridge, Cottles Bridge and Plenty.
Nillumbik Artist Open Studios will be held on May 4-5, with participating studios opening their doors from 10 am until 5pm.
More information on Nillumbik Artists Open Studios can be found at artistsopenstudios.com.au

Bee-utiful artwork
This amazing artwork, which was commissioned to celebrate an international blockbuster film, now takes pride of place on the Tread Sculptures art trail in the Bend of Islands.
Artist Tim Read works with reclaimed steel to produce some incredible, imaginative works of art, often collaborating with fellow artists, such as glass artist Rob Hayley, who produced the glasswork for the eyes and wings on the sculpture Tim is calling Buzz.
“Rob is great to work with, very experimental and always up for a challenge, which is great as I knew we would be pushing the boundaries when it came to the glasswork for this piece,” Tim said.
Tread Sculptures is at 225 Catani Blvd, Bend Of Islands, Kangaroo Ground and will be open 4-5 May as part of Nillumbik Artist Open Studios, where local artists open their studios to visitors to meet the artists and get to see amazing pieces like Buzz in her natural environment.