News

Our bank is a beauty

NOTHING says helping the community quite like $2 million and that’s exactly what the Warrandyte Community Bank Branch has done – returned $2 million in grants and sponsorship contributions to the community in its 12 years of operation.

That’s money for schools, sporting clubs, the CFA, for our students and teachers, small businesses and people in need in our community, and even the community newspaper you’re reading right now.
It’s money Warrandyte deserves and money Warrandytians have earned by banking locally. That’s the key to opening the vault for money flowing back into our community – you bank with your Warrandyte Community Bank and everyone benefits, including you. It’s a bank like no other in that it givers back, not always ‘take’ like the others.

The Warrandyte Community Bank Branch is part of the Bendigo Bank group and has been an important fixture of the Warrandyte community since 2003. It was created thanks to funding and pledges from local people, who are now shareholders, with a team of professional directors made up entirely of volunteers.

SES

It’s a bank steeped in community spirit and which is determined to create new avenues for community benefit. And the vast majority of the profit is returned to the local community in several ways to the tune of $2m.

Every year, money from the bank goes towards local projects, programs, resources and infrastructure. It’s money used to support local people, keep them safe and improve their lives.

It’s an initiative the bank’s board chairman Aaron Farr is proud to be a part of.

“We’ve given $2 million back to the community, and $390,000 in the past 12 months, and we hope to increase that number every year exponentially,” Aaron says. “We’ve given money back to the CFA, to local pre-schools and schools, we’ve given money to help with the development down at the local sports club.”

Every year, $50,000 is awarded to the local CFA to ensure Warrandyte’s fire fighters have the resources to keep the community as safe as possible. Funds have contributed towards a new generator, new trucks, vehicles, lockers, defibrillators and more.

Warrandyte Kinder kids

But even the small grants can make a big difference – the kinder kids of Burch Memorial Pre-School have received over 100 new books, CD books, parent resource books and an upgrade to their Burch Bookworm Library thanks to a grant of $1518.

The Warrandyte Community Bank’s scholarship program has also changed lives, contributing $25,000 in the past year to university-aged students who may be facing disadvantage. Last year five students received $5000 to put towards their education.

“Our scholarship program has also provided funds to young people attending university who, without the money maybe wouldn’t have been able to attend university due to financial hardship or personal hardship,” Aaron says.

“I’ve been very proud of being involved in that because we’ve assisted those young people to grow and to develop and get back involved with the local community, and further their education.”

Community funding is only generated by accounts opened at the Warrandyte branch, which is why it’s important to bank locally. Money banked at the Warrandyte Community Bank Branch finds a meaningful purpose and helps not only improve the Warrandyte community, but to change lives in big and small ways.

For more info about how to make the move and change banks, or to find out about the Warrandyte Community Bank Branch’s Community Funding initiative, bendigobank.com.au/public/community/our-branches/ warrandyte

Our Green Queen

ALTHOUGH Judy Green didn’t come to live in Warrandyte until 1969, her family was associated with the area generations ago. Her grandfather Samuel Painter was an original member of the Wonga Park Village Settlement in 1893.

At the outbreak of WW1, Judy’s father Les Painter answered the call and joined the ranks of the Australian Army. Les served in Gallipoli and fortunately was one of the lucky survivors. After the war, Les was in London waiting to be repatriated back to Australia when he met Judy’s grandmother Dorothy. In 1921 they married in London before the young Aussie digger brought his bride back to Australia and settled in Cheltenham.

Judy grew up in Sandringham and Springvale and attended Dandenong High School. She met her husband Cliff Green in 1957 and they were married in 1959.

Cliff, then a young primary teacher, was sent out to teach in country Victoria. For the next seven years, he was a headmaster/teacher in the tiny Mallee town of Rainbow and then at Torrumbarry on the mighty Murray River.

The Greens began raising their brood of four children during their time in country Victoria. Mandy, now 56, Kathy, 54, and Fiona, 50, were born during their time in the country, and David, the youngest, 43, was born in Warrandyte. All children attended Warrandyte Primary School.

Two of the Greens kids have bought houses and settled in Warrandyte and are bringing up their families here.

“We see a lot of the kids, we also have 11 grandchildren and recently we have a new addition to the family, our brand new great grandchild Tayo, who is only six-weeks-old,” Judy says proudly.

Judy drives her son David’s children to and from school every day.

“I really enjoy doing that, it’s great to have the daily connection with them,” she says.

In 1969 when Cliff and Judy moved to Warrandyte, they fitted into the local community straight away. Cliff joined the youth club committee and Judy joined the mother’s club and the Warrandyte Tennis Club.

“We both felt a sense of belonging straight away,” Judy told the Diary. They eventually moved into the brand new home they had built in Webb Street and have lived there ever since.

Judy trained and worked as a medical technologist and Cliff joined Crawford Productions as a staff scriptwriter. Later when Cliff went freelance, Judy learned to type and helped Cliff with his scriptwriting business.

“She was invaluable to me,” chimes in Cliff. “Judy was meticulous about accuracy. She acted as a sort of editor and wouldn’t allow me to exaggerate. As a scriptwriter I was writing fiction, flights of fancy, but with local stories for the Diary, I was supposed to be writing the truth and Judy helped me achieve that.”

COLUMNS - our green queen

When Judy joined the tennis club it became a big part of her life.

“I was fully involved in managing the junior competitions and playing competition tennis,” she said. Judy is now a life member of the club and still plays for WTC in the night tennis competition.

Judy has won the WTC club person of the year “a couple of times”, she said modestly. In 1993, Judy and Keith Wilson co-wrote a history of the WTC. The book is entitled Rallies by the River – A Centenary of Tennis in Warrandyte.

Judy has been very involved with the community garden, a project she is very passionate about.

“We grow our own vegetables and don’t use sprays,” said Judy. “It’s a great way to socialize and being right down on the river it’s a lovely spot to go.”

She also helps with archiving at the Warrandyte Historical Society and volunteers at the Warrandyte State Park Nursery.

Judy and Cliff have made lifelong friends since moving to Warrandyte 57 years ago, including well known locals such as Jock and Di Macneish, Val and Austin Polley and Shelagh and Richard Morton.

What does Judy think of Warrandyte’s future?

“Well,” she replies thoughtfully. “Let’s keep it the way it is. It’s still the same sort of place that it used to be, even though there’s more people living here. We haven’t lost the feel of the place and the community spirit is still alive. Hopefully we can share our future without service stations,” says Judy, making it very clear how she feels about that particular issue.

“I’m also concerned with what they might do to the bridge. Another bridge downstream is desperately needed. Traffic on the bridge is a problem any time, but especially when the threat of bushfire hangs over us for three months of the year. Living here is worth the worry over fire season though, because it’s so good living here for the other nine months.

“Warrandyte’s been a great place to live and bring up our family,” she added. “We love the environment here, especially the river. Cliff and I walk along the river most days unless it’s raining. As a community we must always be vigilant to what’s happening and try to preserve the physical environment as much as possible.”

Safe on Social


If you hadn’t worked out already, social media remains for the most part an unharnessed minefield where reputations or businesses can be ruined and children can be harmed emotionally, mentally and even physically when all goes to plan for bullies or predators. Same goes for grown-ups, as we’ve all seen or experience on our own community Facebook pages. Talk with anyone and you’ll no doubt hear stories of abuse, bullying and threats that have touched the lives of adults as much as children. But help is at hand amid the gloom, as Diary editor SCOTT PODMORE catches up with a true expert in the field of social media policy, Kirra Pendergast, the founder and managing director of accredited consulting group Safe on Social: www.safeonsocial.com

At a time we’re all trying to get our heads around the best way to move forward and manage this ‘new way of life’, organisations like SoS couldn’t have come along soon enough and Kirra explains her own horrible first-hand experience as a victim which inspired her mission to make things “safe on social”.

SP: Thanks for talking to the Diary, Kirra, please tell us what Safe on Social is all about?

KP: The socialisation of the web means that every photo uploaded, every post commented on and every video shared on social media has the potential to compromise an organisation’s security and destroy years of community goodwill.

SoS focuses on teaching people how to use social media with awareness. The team at Safe on Social “SoS” have translated decades of experience in information security, privacy, risk management and business consulting into the social media realm. By implement- ing tools and training to enable safe usage of social media, we 
help organisations to continue to engage and grow their online communities whilst minimising risk. We provide specialist, real world experience based training to educate staff, students and their parents on personal risk management when using social media.

Late in 2015 we were honoured to be one of the first companies in Australia to be accredited by the new Office of the Commissioner of Children’s eSafety for our work in schools across Australia. We are based near Byron Bay and travel nationally.

SP: You’re obviously passionate about this whole initiative/ business for a very good reason. Would you like to share your own experience in the social media space?

KP: Let’s just say that after 18 months of constant bullying online about my looks, my weight and everything else in between, I have some great primary research! I am also dealing with the fact that I was recently informed that my bully had been posting on Instagram that there is someone trolling them and my bully has made the ridiculous assumption that it is me! When I think it might actually be my bully trying to gain sympathy. We are seeing that a lot in high school: bullies setting up fake accounts and bullying themselves to gain sympathy and deflect their terrible behaviour.

Adult online bullying is very
real, people say to switch off but 
it is very, very difficult as people who care about you will continue to send screenshots with “have you seen this”, for example. The bullying brought me to my knees; 
I barely left the house. I was in a very dark place and it is very easy to see why people take their own lives. After a 22-year Information Technology career predominantly focused in Information Security, 
I had already spent the last eight years working in social media security, privacy and risk mostly with large government departments and healthcare. So during this time I decided to fight back and re-focused my eight-year experience in this space and founded Safe on Social. I decided to focus on educating students first and foremost, in an effort to change the culture in a generation. I am now working with 36 schools in NSW and Queensland, state, private and Catholic, and we have a suite of online tools available to them as well as face to face classes.

SP: Kirra, what do you believe are the main things people forget when it comes to social behaviour/common courtesy when tucked away behind the safety of keyboards?

KP: Common courtesy, respect and manners. My grandmother always used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Behind a keyboard there is very little accountability as the law is yet to catch up. I tried to take out a Personal Violence Protection Order when my bully repeatedly threatened me online and the judge refused, calling that facet that the threats were being made through social media “journalistic and vexatious”. I was being stalked and was very scared.

SP: That’s terrible. And no one is untouchable, would you say? It clearly can affect everyone from small children up to celebrities, businesses, sportsmen and every- day people?


KP: Correct. Everyone is vulnerable. I am seeing an enormous rise in anxiety issues in teens. There has been a phenomenal rise in students getting their parents to call the school and ask to excuse their child from public speaking, for example, as they suffer from anxiety. I could almost guarantee that this anxiety, in a lot of cases, is caused by the constant worry about being filmed on Snapchat or photographed while they are doing their speech and openly criticised on social media platforms by other students.

That is a real concern. Most schools try and ban smartphone usage in class but it still happens. Teachers are targets as well.

SP: OK then, for a school or business, in a nutshell what would you recommend as the bare essential requirements for social media policy and/or safety protocols?

KP: A robust social media policy is a must in small businesses. Most bigger businesses and government agencies have them, however, they are often out of date and need to be reviewed by an expert in the field. It protects them and their staff.

Schools should consider guidelines to support the state government policies in place to cover such things as contractors taking photos of students when they are on the campus and posting them and to make sure that staff and students really do understand what can and should not be shared on social media to respect the privacy of others and protect the wellbeing of students.

Ongoing education is key. Parents need to step up and realise that a teacher can not also be a parent. They bought their child a smartphone so they should take the responsibility to guide them in how they can and can’t use it. You wouldn’t hand your 13-year-old the keys to a car and let them drive down a busy highway without les- sons would you?

Parents should also stick to their guns and respect the fact that there are age restrictions on social media platforms for a reason. I see a load of kids under the age of 13 (the age requirement) on Instagram, for example. Parents think it is OK if they have their account set to private, always worried about people looking at their kids, but often forgetting they can’t monitor 24×7 what their kids are looking at. Take, for example, a 10-year-old girl who loves cats typing in #pussy on Instagram. Guess what she is going to see?

SP: Our own Warrandyte Facebook pages can be a complete disaster at times with some really hurtful and damaging content being posted. There’s an argument about freedom of speech, of course, but I’ve seen businesses almost get mauled to death and have talked to people who have been seriously affected. What are your thoughts?

KP: Freedom of speech is all well and good, but administrators of pages need to realise that in the eyes of the law they are considered the publisher of every comment on that page. So if someone is threatening or defaming someone in any comment or post – they are just as liable as the person who posted it.

SP: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the topic?

KP: One thing I really want to point out to your readers is that we post photos of our kids online all the time and then we complain that they don’t respect their own privacy. We have shared their photos of everything they are doing without their permission for years! No wonder they have no respect for privacy and massively over share everything they are doing online.

The horse has bolted – we cannot stop our children from using social media. Everyone under the age of 15 now has never known a world without social media. We need to catch up and realise that this is the primary communication channel for them. Their phone is their social brain and they can not manage their social life without it. We need to teach them how to use social media with awareness, respect their privacy and understand per- sonal risk.

We (safeonsocial.com) have a range of solutions that can help and is available to schools and through P&C associations where we donate a percentage of the cost back to the school for fundraising.

SP: Speaking of schools, I hear there’s been an interesting development regarding school holidays. Is it true social media may even affect your insurance claims when it comes to being robbed?

KP: Yes, believe it or not that’s correct. When you’re posting photos that clearly state you’re away you’re effectively advertising the fact that no one’s home and there- fore opens the door to be robbed. It’s likely that insurance companies could deny claims for break and enter if you’re not there. That’s a big one to think about, so if you want to post photos do it when you get home. The crooks can see from photo maps where you live on Instagram.

For more info visit the website www.safeonsocial.com

 

It’s a purrrfect storm


Myth or monster? Community speaks up about big cat.

Following the Diary’s big reveal on the return of Warrandyte’s resident “Big Cat” sightings, social media has been awash with opinion and more sightings of the alleged resident beast.

The Diary Facebook page unveiled both video teaser and published article relating to the Big Cat and the response has been overwhelming, with avid Diary followers noticing a divide in public opinion.

A handful jokingly suggested Warrandytians claiming to have seen the cat had gone without their medicine (which is yet to be verified) or that flying spaceships were colluding with the whiskered one in some capacity.

On the other hand, multiple residents backed up claims the cat did indeed exist. After last month’s eye witness testimony provided by Ross Henderson and Kassie Jones, Warrandytians have stepped up to share their experiences about Big Cat sightings, and one “encounter“ stands out above the rest.

Judith Irving recalled an incident of five or six years prior which may well shed some light on the origins of Warrandyte’s enormous cat.

“Many years ago now my neighbour had a friend who came over with this cat and asked me to look after it,” Judith said. “She admitted it was virtually wild and the owners who fed it had it microchipped. I put it in my room it was quite large at this stage. It was so crazy and in the morning I couldn’t find it. I’d left the window open and it had leapt up about four feet off a shelf, out the window and flown through the flywire.”

If this cat did happen to have some kind of connection with the elusive wild beast lurking in our woods today, Judith pointed out the microchip would still be present and would be able to prove if the two animals were one and the same.

“I rang up the microchip people and got my name on their files, but I never heard any more and no one seemed to see it,” she said. “It was wild enough to look after itself. I was hoping someone would see it and let me know, but I’ve heard nothing. If anyone could ever manage to catch it and see if it’s microchipped, it could be the same cat as the one people are talking about today.

“It’s had plenty of time to get big as wild cats do.”

The odds that the two creatures are the same may be slim, but it is certainly not out of the question. If Judith’s “wild cat” is indeed our resident mystery creature, we may have proof that the cat has been roaming in our midst for at least five years.

Any locals with any information about the big cat are urged to contact us at info@warrandytediary.com.au

Volunteers See Red


IN a stoush that has claimed the heads of the emergency services minister, and both the CFA’s chief executive officer and chief fire officer, and dampened Labor’s Victorian swing in the federal election and possibly costing them government, the very public dispute over fire fighters pay and conditions has been well and truly felt in Warrandyte.

About 50 volunteer fire fighters from the area met at Warrandyte fire station on the morning of the election before setting off in convoy as a “show of strength” to pro- test over the lack of consultation with volunteer fire fighters.

Ken Reed, group officer of the CFA’s Maroondah group of brigades, which includes Warrandyte, Wonga Park, Yarra Glen, Lilydale and Coldstream, said despite the politics, they also want to demonstrate they are still there to support the community.

“Our main aim is to make people aware we are still here for the community, but the way we have been getting screwed is very unfair and the worst part about it is the volunteers have had no say in the EBA at all, and that’s what we are disappointed about,” he said.

Head of the United Firefighters Union (UFU), Peter Marshall, addressed volunteers in an open letter.

“Fire fighters need to fight fires, not each other,” he wrote.

Volunteers involved in the convoy did not want the protest to be a sign of disrespect for the career fire fighters they work with, but saw it as sending a message to the State Labor government.
“We have to send a message to Labor that certain things are sacrosanct and CFA is one of them,” said one volunteer from Cold- stream.

“I’ve got no problem with the paid staff, all we want to do is fight fires,” said another.

The timing of the dispute, which has lasted over 1000 days, is seen as unfortunate by outgoing South Warrandyte captain Greg Kennedy.

In a recent interview with the Diary, Mr Kennedy said politics would not affect the operation of the station.

“The guys who work there are going to be paid in accordance with their EBA, they will do their duties in accordance with their EBA, which will be exactly the same way they do their duties at the other 31 CFA career staff stations,” he said.

“Poor old South Warrandyte just happens to be the poor buggers that are trying to open a fire station when all this is going on.”

Jamie Hansen, new officer-in-charge at South Warrandyte, did not want to comment on the dispute while the EBA was still being negotiated.

“What I can assure the community is that the volunteers and career staff at South Warrandyte Fire Brigade will maintain their commitment to providing the highest level of emergency response and there will certainly be no reduction of service from any of the surrounding brigades as a result of this ongoing dispute,” he said.

Current captains of Warrandyte and North Warrandyte also declined to comment on the dispute, but former North Warrandyte captain, Rohan Thornton, says the issue is not about fire fighters’ pay.

“I think most volunteers, and I have never found an exception, believe that all our emergency service workers, police, ambos, nurses are underpaid and deserve everything they get – this is not about the conditions and the pay,” he said.

He believes there will be positive benefits from the EBA for all fire fighters, including the contentious clause to have seven fire fighters dispatched before starting to fight a fire.

“I don’t see that and never did see that as an issue, I just see it as a union providing a safe workplace for their members which is fine – yes please,” said Mr Thornton.

Both staff and volunteer alike have made claims about lies and misinformation, and Mr Thornton can see why that is confusing the public.

“There is truth and lies on both sides and that’s what’s confusing everyone, certainly the community who I’ve had feedback from, they are worried they are concerned and they don’t understand it: it is hard to understand,” Mr Thornton said.

He says for those not in the CFA many aspects of the organisation are confusing, least of which is why people volunteer, and Mr Thornton is concerned the EBA dispute will hurt the volunteer spirit in the organisation.

“It is hard to understand the culture, what makes people, you know, get out of bed at four o’clock in the morning and hold someone’s hand until the ambulance arrives, it takes a special person to have that commitment and it’s just getting harder and harder to maintain that commitment,” he said.