WARRANDYTE TENNIS Club players faced off in the Club Championship while their very own Tennis Guru, Coach Craig Haslam, was recognised at the Tennis Victoria awards night.
Haslam was nominated in the category of Coaching Excellence (Club or Centre) and says while he took pride in being a finalist, it was not simply recognition for his own work.
“It was a great honour to be recognised for all of the effort over the past few years,” said Craig.
“But the award also recognises the work of the whole coaching team and the club committee for the incredible work they have done to improve the facilities, participation and standard of the tennis in Warrandyte.”
He is especially pleased in the work that is being put into the next generation with Warrandyte’s youth tennis players turning out in big numbers.
“The most exciting part of the Club Championships this year was that the highest participation was in the Under 10 and Under 12 events, which is great for the future of the club,” he said.
On a day of high-quality tennis, Tristan Jackson claimed the Men’s Championship while Ruby Bradford claimed the Women’s title.
Daniel Mizzi and Erika Hamilton claimed the U18s Men and Women’s Championships respectively while Hamish Pattenden and George Dunkley prevailed in the lower age brackets.
IT HAS BEEN a sad month of November as we learn news of the ravaging fires up north and the decimation of our beautiful country, farmland, National Parks, the wildlife, birdlife and other critters.
It brings to harsh reality the dangerous place we live in.
We rely on Mother Nature to look after us, and for our neighbours to be aware and watchful of how they tend their gardens, their cigarette butts and just their consideration of others in general.
December 1 is the time when panic sets in on when we last cleaned out the gutters, is our fire plan in order and have we cleared flammables from around the house.
We look in admiration at the CFA as we drive past the station, knowing they will have our backs when we need them.
Are we leaving out water bowls for the birds and animals?
It is amazing how many native animal sighting there have been this year.
How many are frequenting our gardens and river.
me laugh when someone comments on Kevin the Kookaburra who arrives on their balcony waiting for tidbits and someone else comments that “this is not Kevin” but their kookaburra Harry.
My water lillies are showing their faces out of the murky water of my old copper near the front door.
They flower year in and year out. Just a single simple plant.
I love how the birds come to admire themselves in the water while they are drinking.
Try popping a little chunk of manure in an old piece of stocking and weigh it down in the water with an old brick.
This is all I do to fertilise my waterlily.
It thrives on the neglect.
A little bit like my orchids.
I pull my blinds open in the morning and just spend a couple of minutes taking in all the plants that come to peer in the window.
The salvias, struck from tips put into the ground this time last year, are now two feet high and flowering.
The clematis and Pierre de Ronsard roses entwining each other — clamouring over a rusty old arbour.
The euphorbias, an old reliable in the garden, are flowering profusely, the Jerusalem Sage a pop of yellow and always covered with bees.
Poppies that I have never planted have decided that they will come to stay; probably brought in with bird droppings.
The scent of the lemon blossoms, mock orange, the scented verbenas and the roses of course, waft through the window on the morning breeze.
The day will always be a rush but this is the few minutes of peace we can have.
Moments to plan. Moments to contemplate life and its ups and downs.
The vegetable patches are looking a bit forlorn this year. We have the lettuce, spinach, peas and beans, tomatoes, basil, fruits and herbs.
Still all doing their thing even though they have been neglected this year.
There is nothing so humbling as finding the plants flowering and fruiting even though no one will be there to witness it.
December is a time to batten down the hatches as we prepare for the predicted heat waves and scorching north winds that will dry out the garden.
Hopefully you took my advice last month and got on top of the mulching, trapping the moisture underneath it in preparation with the dry months ahead.
Make sure your taps, hoses and buckets are all in position.
That there is a bucket collecting water in the bottom of your shower, ready to be tipped on the plants closest to the house.
Remember to wander around the garden in the afternoon snipping off the dead heads of the annuals, perennials, roses and lavender — make pot pourri with the cuttings.
It is not too late to plant seedlings in the vegetable garden.
Beetroot, lettuce, parsley, peas, pumpkin, silverbeet and radish.
Cistus is a great plant to plant out now.
It is a Mediterranean native from Italy and Greece.
They love sunbaked soils and are drought tolerant.
Always remember the plants with grey leaves or spiky small leaves are an indication that they like arid conditions.
Salvias, the perfect example; rosemary, lavender and catmint others.
Maybe hunt down the beautiful pink rosemary and the white lavenders.
Or catmint (nepeta) “Six Hills Giant” that will grow up to a 70cm high and one metre across.
Remember that basil, lavender, and catnip are all plants that mosquitoes can’t stand, while other varieties, like lemon balm, are best crushed up and applied to skin for a natural insect repellent.
Packets of seeds are always a beautiful gift, as are new gardening gloves.
Or of course a pair of secateurs.
Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas surrounded by your garden and those that love you.
Wishing you peace in the new decade, and a garden that always blooms.
COMMUNITY GROUPS scrambled to save Warrandyte’s Emergency Housing in Police Street after the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) placed the building up for sale.
President of the Warrandyte Community Association, Carli Lange-Boutle contacted the Diary following the news that the Old Warrandyte Police House was for sale.
However, a week after it was placed on the market, the Minister for Housing, Richard Wynne, had a change of heart and intervened to stop the sale.
A spokesperson for the Director of Housing, said: “The Minister for Housing has carefully considered the matter and agrees that this site remains public housing.
“He has requested the Department to take the property off the market and ensure it remains in public hands to provide a safe place for Victorians who need a roof over their heads.”
The spokesperson said the Department will now get on with the job of completing the necessary work to refurbish the property so it is fit for tenancy.
Ms Lange-Boutle said: “ This community win for a community service is a combined effort from all people involved, especially the representatives from five community groups — Warrandyte Community Association, Warrandyte/Donvale Rotary, Now & Not Yet, Warrandyte Police, Warrandyte Riverside Market and support from Park Orchards Ratepayers Association, Warrandyte Diary and Doncare, as well as support and assistance from Warrandyte Liberal MP Ryan Smith, Eastern Region Labor MP Sonja Terpstra MP and Labor candidate Stella Yee.
Warrandyte Police OIC, Sergeant Stewart Henderson, said he did some detective work when the property became vacant and discovered that DHHS was considering selling the property.
“When the previous tenants vacated I asked around to see who the next tenants were but didn’t get much of a response, then I discovered that it was going to be sold, so I contacted a few people and talked to people at local events … and the snowball started from there,” he said.
After being contacted by members of the community, both the Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith and Member for Eastern Metropolitan Sonja Terpstra petitioned the Minister to keep the building in public hands.
The Old Warrandyte Police House Emergency Housing Support Service was community managed by Margory Lapworth but was given to DHHS when she became ill, under the agreement that it was used for short-term emergency housing for Manningham and Nillumbik residents.
Before the building was used for emergency housing it was the residence attached to Warrandyte Police Station — Officer in Charge of the police station from 1992-2011, Keith Walker lived in the station when it was considered a country station, however Mr Walker said that he was
disgusted when, in 1996, the Kennett Government sold off more than 100 houses attached to Police Stations and State Parks.
He said it caused a huge disruption to him and his family given he was ordered to live in the house when he took the position, so sold the family home in Croydon, only to be effectively evicted three years later when the government sold it off.
“I was delighted to see the support of the community rally to keep the house in the community at that time.”
He said the property was transferred to another Government department and given to Margory Lapworth to manage on their behalf.
“It was supposed to be used for emergency housing for the local community, and it did do that for a while when a family moved in after their house burnt down, but from therein it never seemed to follow the rule, in that there was a tenant who lived there for 15-plus years.
However, he said he was disturbed that when the last round of tenants left, the property had to be decontaminated.
“Where was the DHHS to let it get to that condition?” he asked.
However, Mr Walker said he is very pleased that people have managed to save it again.
Ms Lange-Boutle says that the WCA was “furious” that the property had been placed on the market “without any community consultation” but she says that she is “ecstatic to the point of tears” that community action has delivered such a great result.
The DHHS originally advised that it applied to the Minister of Planning to sell the property because DHHS resources do not allow for them to manage the property when they have areas with a much higher housing demand than Warrandyte.
However, Ms Lang-Boutle says the need for emergency housing is not based on the affluence of the town — the need for short-term emergency housing can affect anyone.
“ Divorce, house fire, loss of employment, death of a spouse, it can happen to anyone at any time,”
she said “To have the ability to stay within our community can be a major benefit, particularly for people with school-aged children,” she said.
Sgt Henderson says the property’s proximity to the police station allows the police members to foster good relationships with the tenants.
He said the whole community came together to support the children of the last family of tenants, with relationships fostered with the Community Church, the football club and local businesses.
Former Labor candidate, Stella Yee has been investigating the social need in the area and says, “there is a significant need for social services in the community”.
According to Doncare’s 2018 annual report, the Manningham based charity provided 3,325 cases of assistance under the category of Emergency Relief Services.
Sgt Henderson said that there is need in the local community.
“The people who are in need are often embarrassed about it, so there is need, it is just not in your face,” he said.
When the WCA first learned of the plan to sell the property, they set up an Emergency Housing Support Service (EHSS) Task Force to stop the sale.
Ms Lange-Boutle tells us this task force will now be submitting a business plan for the community to manage the property.
She floated the idea of a Men’s Shed being established and based in the building while they carry out the refurbishment to make the property suitable for tenancy.
Chris “Chewy Padham (WCA), Therese Dawson (WCA), Ryan Smith MP, Carli Lange-Boutle ( WCA President), Sonja Terpstra MP, Sgt Stewart Henderson, Warwick Leeson (WCA) John Hanson (WCA) and Dick Davies (WCA)
Sgt Henderson thinks that a Men’s Shed is a really needed program. “Mental health for men is a big issue, he said,” I think that would be a brilliant opportunity.”
In a letter obtained by the Diary, Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said in September, the “Department has advised that there are significant maintenance issues, including structural work, graffiti removal, rodent infestation and methamphetamine residue to be cleaned up — this work was estimated to cost up to $200,000”.
The property has since been cleaned up enough to put on the market, but there is still much more work required to make it fit for tenancy.
Mr Smith was originally advised by the Planning Minster that it was not an option to retain the premises once the work was done, “as it is deemed to be too old to continue to remain in public hands, with the preference to purchase new stock”.
However, the pressure from the community has, happily, changed the Minister’s mind and the building is now going to be able to continue supporting vulnerable people in our community in the years to come.
By DAVID HOGG
ABOUT 200 people attended a very clever Bushfire Scenario evening at North Warrandyte Family Centre on November 27, presented by Be Ready Warrandyte, a branch of the Warrandyte Community Association.
The evening was intended to inform the community as to what would actually happen in a serious bushfire scenario, rather than give specific detailed advice as to how people should act or how they should write their individual bushfire plans.
It certainly succeeded. Steve Pascoe, Emergency Management and Bushfire Safety Consultant and a survivor of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires at Strathewan, together with Joff Manders, Commander Emergency Management Liaison at Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade, took us on a simulated journey of what will actually happen if and when a serious bushfire hits our region.
Set on the lines of a Geoffrey Robinson Hypothetical, with brilliant and disturbing graphics, photographs, and map simulations on a big screen, these two eminent experts took us step-by-step through each stage of the disaster, from time-to-time calling other experts in their field — police, CFA, local authorities — to the microphone to provide additional clarification.
3 dead, 10 missing, many in hospital, 50 homes gone, many more damaged.
It is Terrible Thursday, February 13, 2020. This is the second of two very hot spells of weather so far this year, temperature is 39°, wind is a strong south-westerly, Forest Fire Danger Index is 60 so the fire danger level is at Severe and so those who were going to evacuate on Extreme or Code Red days have not done so. At 9am a bushfire is reported in Beauty Point Road, Research; trucks are dispatched and on arrival call for more assistance as the fire spreads quickly west and 000 receive calls of further spot fires. Emergency Services issue a “Watch and Act” for North Warrandyte, Warrandyte, South Warrandyte and Park Orchards, and many people start to leave North Warrandyte by car. By noon the Watch and Act is upgraded to an Emergency Warning stating: “It is now too late to leave”. Power is off to the whole district and the water supply is reduced to a trickle. By 12:30pm the temperature is 40°, humidity is 12 per cent, there is smoke everywhere; Research Road and Kangaroo Ground Road are jammed with cars trying to go south across the bridge. Others are trying to get north across the bridge to join their families who are trapped on the north side but they are being turned around by Police at the roundabout. A 4WD with horse float has jackknifed on Research Road. The north-westerly wind change comes through and the flank of the fire now becomes a wide fire front which the wind pushes as a huge storm towards North Warrandyte.
The fire has quickly doubled in size and embers are spotting up to 10km ahead of the front. Firefighters have now been pulled back as the fire roars into North Warrandyte. It is evening: 2,350 hectares have been burned, three bodies have been pulled from cars, 10 people are missing possibly in the remains of their homes, 50 houses have been lost and hundreds are damaged.The area will be locked down for at least a week, possibly a month as there are trees and powerlines across roads and embers still burning. Resident s cannot access the fireground, and any who have survived and decide to leave the area will not be allowed to return. Councils will provide emergency relief centres in due course, possibly at Diamond Creek Stadium and Eltham Leisure Centre, and at Manningham DISC and the Pines Shopping Centre, where victims can obtain assistance, advice, comfort, and some food. Power may not be restored for weeks and emergency crews will be busy removing fallen trees, erecting new powerlines, dousing burning embers, removing any dangerous trees from roadsides and removing the remains of many cars.
The presentation was very informative and made most residents more aware of what could happen.
The photos were, at times, disturbing.
The evening finished with snacks and drinks outside, and the emergency services and council personnel were available to answer any further question.
Well done Be Ready Warrandyte, and congratulations to all involved with this very professional and informative scenario session.
FOLLOWING extensive community consultation, Nillumbik Shire Council adopted its Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP) at the Council meeting on November 26 by four votes to three, but not without controversy as the meeting was interrupted by a group of eight protesters.
The new plan will provide direction for the management of the Green Wedge over the next decade.
It includes a vision, principles, goals, objectives and key actions and has been informed by extensive community engagement over the past 18 months, including an independent panel to provide recommendations to Council.
Council received 746 submissions in response to the draft GWMP during the six-week community consultation period in July and August and their Future Nillumbik Committee also heard 80 verbal submissions in September.
The plan was further revised in response to the feedback received from the community.
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan said Council appreciated the feedback and had listened to what the community had to say.
“While there have been divergent views on how the Green Wedge should be managed, one thing is clear — our community is passionate about this unique landscape in which we live, work and visit,” Cr Egan said.
Nillumbik’s Green Wedge is one of 12 across Melbourne and covers 91 per cent of the Shire.
Land uses include conservation, agriculture, rural living and tourism.
Now that the GWMP has been adopted, annual implementation plans will be prepared.
Max Parsons of the Nillumbik Proactive Landowners Group (PALs) told the Diary “PALs fully supports the new GWMP as adopted at the Council meeting on November 26.
“ The new GWMP provides a comprehensive strategy for the future of the Green Wedge that represents an appropriate balance of all the factors that contribute to living in the landscape.
“Acknowledgement of the role that landowners play in a successful green wedge has been long overdue and was sadly lacking in the previous plan.
“This has been achieved whilst simultaneously balancing the importance of biodiversity and significant important vegetation with a landowners’ right to live and thrive within the same green wedge.”
Don Macrae from the Wedge Tales blog — which is sponsored by the Warrandyte Community Association, the Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group tells us that “the most positive outcome of the entire program has been community involvement in the plan” and gives it tacit approval but awards no cigar.
“To spend in the vicinity of $500,000 on this project was outrageous.”
Following up with Mr Macrae, he has confirmed this figure is a “conservative” educated guess based on Council approving consultation fees of $345,000 in 2017 and factoring in the costs of running the community panel.
A spokesperson for the protestors told us “Council disregarded the results of their own community consultation process, wasting over $300,000 of ratepayers’ money.”
We reproduce Green Wedge Plan Adopted by Council, no cigar by Don Macrae — which has been edited for print publication and an account from the Green Wedge protest group in attendance at the November 26 council meeting.
Council’s Green Wedge Plan falls short of community expectations
By DON MACRAE WEDGE TALES BLOG
AMID SCENES of protest, at its November meeting Nillumbik Council “adopted” a new Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP).
The gallery was packed and the Council divided, but the motion to “adopt” the GWMP was passed along the now familiar 4–3 lines.
Nillumbik’s first GWMP was adopted in 2010 and was intended to serve as a basis until 2025.
For reasons never explained the current Nillumbik Council decided to prepare a replacement, which after a year-long project has now been formally adopted by Council.
This new GWMP shifts focus away from the natural environment and towards the expectations of resident landowners, as expressed in the phrase “Living in the Landscape”, the title of the current Council Plan.
The best that can be said about it is that it is unlikely to do much harm.
It is a document of only 26 pages which is more like notes towards a plan rather than an actual plan.
As a pamphlet or discussion document it is better than the published draft, but it is insubstantial.
A reference to “buffer zones”, a concept that featured in the draft, designed to allow more subdivision in the vicinity of the urban growth boundary and which attracted massive community criticism, has been removed — a distinct improvement.
But, the idea that some areas of the Shire zoned Rural Conservation should be rezoned remains, although it really does not look like becoming a serious proposal.
The document suggests that there is “land dotted throughout the RCZ that is already cleared for agriculture”, and which should be rezoned Green Wedge Zone (GWZ) so that land owners can engage in agriculture without getting a permit.
To create a rezoning proposal would require significant effort but there does not appear to be any intention to embark on such a project.
Furthermore, if the intention is to allow agriculture to proceed on suitable land it is entirely within the Council’s control to expedite permit assessments.
Sustaining agriculture on agricultural land in green wedges is a challenging issue, but this rezoning idea probably has more to do with satisfying the “less regulation” constituency than with promoting agriculture.
The Green Wedge townships are important elements in the Shire and need to work as attractive gateways to the Green Wedge for visitors as well as providing amenity for residents.
The GWMP recognises also that [the townships] will need to be the focus of additional ageing-in-place facilities for Shire residents, as well as for increasing population.
The State Government mandates that green wedge councils must prepare a Green Wedge Management Plan.
But this GWMP appears to have been planned as a public relations exercise.
The focus of the project was a community consultation program culminating in a “Community Panel”, which made recommendations to Council.
Then came the publication of a draft and the hearing of community submissions on the draft.
The total cost of the project has not been made public, but if all internal costs as well as consultant charges are included it is probably approaching $500,000.
As was pointed out in several of the submissions on the draft, the State Government’s Planning Practice Note 31: Preparing a Green Wedge Management Plan was not followed, contrary to Cr Clarke’s claim at the council meeting.
No Steering Committee was established and no formal collaboration with relevant bodies was embraced.
Management of the program appears to have been overseen by an external consultant without a planning background, and in the face of the loss of long term Council planning staff.
One clear outcome of the community consultation program was to confirm that the Shire overwhelmingly values the environment and in principle supports the planning scheme.
Only a very few survey respondents complained of too much regulation, so it was surprising that the draft GWMP contained significant elements which did not respect this.
The adopted GWMP is less offensive.
But, at the conclusion of the project, what have we got for all that expense and effort?
This has been a council intent on change.
Its cavalier treatment of two development applications in 2017 and its apparent attack on its own organisation makes this plain.
It is believed that council staff turnover in 2017/18 exceeded 25 per cent, and eventually included all Senior Managers.
To replace the substantial, previous GWMP with this brief document has the appearance of a political act.
The most positive outcome of the entire program has been community involvement.
There were 688 responses to an online survey and 181 people attended community workshops.
There was a total of 746 submissions in response to the draft, mostly critical.
Many Shire residents have an increased understanding of how our Green Wedge works.
But to spend in the vicinity of $500,000 on this project was outrageous.
Environment protesters disrupt Council meeting
By HANNAH GRAHAM
AT THE NILLUMBIK Council meeting on November 26, a group of eight protesters interrupted Councillors before they voted to pass their draft Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP).
Eight people, dressed in cloaks eco-printed with local native plants, walked into the meeting when the Green Wedge Management Plan agenda item was announced.
They broke into song; singing about saving the Green Wedge, and asking why the majority of the community were ignored during the consultation process in regards to this plan’s review.
Both Mayor Karen Egan and Cr Jane Ashton promptly left the room when the protesters walked in.
There was both support and disapproval amongst the audience in the gallery.
Some joined in on the singing, as lyric sheets seem to have been circulated.
The protesters then silently turned their backs on the councillors whilst standing in a line.
They wore signs on their backs which read, “Don’t turn your back on community”.
Signs on their front read , “$300k+ Community Consultation”, “Community Panel Ignored”, “80% of Submissions Ignored”, “You speak for us not just your pals”, “Next Election: October 2020”.
After standing for a couple minutes, the protesters were warned to leave the room by Mayor Karen Egan — who had since returned.
An agitated man in the gallery attempted to shove protesters apart and the protesters proceeded to walk out of the gallery in silent procession.
One of the protesters had this to say about the disruption.
“We don’t want to upset the peace by going against the council meeting process, but we feel that the councillors have left us no other choice.
“They disregarded the results of their own community consultation process, wasting over $300,000 of ratepayers’ money.
“The majority of the community objected to the draft plan which seemed intent on looking at the Green Wedge as capital for a minority of private landholders, rather than vital native habitat, and a carbon sink.
“At this time of mass extinction and an unsafe climate the revised Green Wedge Management Plan was an opportunity for Council to prioritise the environment for the safety of all Victorians.
“That’s what the community wanted, but they ignored us.
“We disrupted the councillors in this way because we knew they couldn’t ignore us”.
VOLUNTEERING is part of the fabric of Warrandyte.
In October the community voted on who they think should be the next recipient of the Community Spirit Award, an award sponsored by the Warrandyte Community Bank Branch in honour of outstanding volunteer work in the community.
Achieving 90 per cent of the vote, Maxine Rosewall, who runs a wildlife shelter out of her North Warrandyte home for Help for Wildlife (HFW), was presented with her award at Warrandyte Community Bank’s AGM.
Sue Kirwan, HFW manager and friend, had these words to say in her nomination for Maxine.
“Maxine has been a wildlife carer for more than 20 years.
“This is a voluntary role with no government funding.
“She rescues and rehabilitates wildlife with a special passion for birds of prey.
“All expenses come from her own pocket and she is on call 24/7.
“She is also an active member of Help for Wildlife a state-wide volunteer organisation and charity.
“Maxine has a strong sense of community and has also been a volunteer at other local charity groups.”
When asked to list three words to describe Maxine, Sue chose dedicated, ethical and compassionate.
After meeting Maxine, it is hard to disagree with Sue’s words.
When I first asked Maxine her thoughts about winning the award, she seemed perplexed.
“Because it was two volunteers being voted on, I thought that was a bit odd because volunteers do what they do for a different thing.”
But, as Lance Ward, Managing Director of Warrandyte Community Bank, told me — it is because of this that Maxine is the ideal recipient for this award.
“Working in and for the community, our directors see first-hand the good work being undertaken by volunteers and as such our Board decided to acknowledge and celebrate those wonderful folk who demonstrate the values of Community Spirit.
“There are many unsung volunteers working quietly from their homes and within community groups and clubs, the Community Spirit Award was created to put a spotlight on those working behind the scenes.
“Maxine is a shining example of a volunteer who has worked tirelessly ‘above and beyond’ for many, many, years.”
Maxine has had a passion for wildlife since she was a little girl in Eltham, where she used to visit a local wildlife carer and artist who looked after wild birds.
“There was a lady there and birds would fly through her windows… I was always finding an excuse to go up that street to be invited in to have a look.
“I think my fascination with birds started there.”
In 1998, Maxine moved to North Warrandyte and, under the guidance of renowned wildlife carer Ninon Phillips, learnt how to look after wild birds and other wildlife.
Maxine joined Help for Wildlife after receiving her wildlife shelter permit and has an aviary set up on her North Warrandyte property where she rehabilitates birds.
But Maxine’s compassion for birds does not just come from a childhood passion.
Maxine had a career in aviation but had to give it up for medical reasons and said “because I was winged, I can help them get their wings back.”
But work as a wildlife rescuer is emotionally taxing and there are, unfortunately, more bad news stories than good.
Maxine recounted several experiences where the animals had been involved in road accidents, animal attacks (from domestic pets) and of birds who end up tangled in barbed wire fences.
“There are rules of what gets saved, they have to be viable – the eyes have to be open, the ears have to be up and it is really hard to tell someone ‘I know it is alive but the chances that they will not make it are very high’.
“So we have to deeply think about that and how it will affect the public, but all of this is because of the public,” she said.
She said that nature and society living in close proximity is a large part of why these animals come off second best.
Bushfire can also inflict extended suffering on Australia’s indigenous species.
“Two months after the Bunyip fires we were getting called by farmers to come down and assess some of the larger roos — they had obviously been burned two months before, but it takes that long for the infection to get up their legs and then they just can’t move, and then it goes to organ failure and it is quite a long, torturous death actually.
“So we would go down there every weekend for a few months there and that will never leave me.
“And they weren’t all big old ones, they were little ones too — but it’s the kindest thing to do.
“There is a lot of that in what you do.”
While there is some support for wildlife shelters, carers and rescuers — Maxine spoke about a compassion fatigue session she attended, run by Help for Wildlife, which allowed Maxine and her peers to “get some things off their chest”.
The job is often distressing for both the carers and the wildlife and the opportunities to vent are limited.
Which makes Maxine’s recognition even more significant.
She also spoke about the recent bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland and the devastating impact that has had on the koala population.
“The politics involved in the koalas getting all that money has put a lot of other groups out, but that money can set the reseeding of that area with the koalas for the next 25 years and that is a wonderful thing.
“If I lived up there and looked after another species there is no way I would be jealous or anything like that – it’s all in.”
She says she tries to avoid the politics.
“It’s also an area that has a lot of politics in it, but working on my own I never got to see that side — really — so much time and effort goes into [politicking], you could be doing something else that is beneficial.”
While Maxine’s work and attitude is inspiring, she recounts how she is also inspired by some of the random acts of human kindness she has witnessed.
From donations by locals to Help for Wildlife to the community of Doreen who rallied together, with help from the Doreen Produce shop who bought vital food and equipment to help farmers affected by the Bunyip bushfires.
Maxine dedicates her life to helping injured wildlife and making sure the other Help for Wildlife shelters around the State are OK.
She liaises with Sue Kirwan during the summer, keeping her informed on the fire danger rating and weather conditions.
Maxine offered her congratulations to co-finalist Louise Callaghan on her nomination and wished her the best for her community projects, and gave thanks to the Warrandyte Community Bank and to Sue for her nomination.
Maxine does not expect recognition for her passion which is why she is fully deserving of this award.