THE STATE Government has again bewildered the community in its choice of a site for the Eltham Area Community Hospital.
Minister for Health Martin Foley and Member for Eltham Vicki Ward have announced that a government-owned parcel of land at 405 Ryans Road, Diamond Creek, will be home to the new multi-million-dollar facility.
While the new hospital will be a welcome asset to the community, the selection process for the site has been nothing short of contentious.
While many see a no-brainer option in the Nillumbik Council’s preferred site, the former Council Offices in Main Road Eltham, the government has dismissed the option out of hand, first attempting to acquire land in Apollo Park, at Civic Drive, Greensborough, much to the dismay of residents.
With Council agreeing with the community and blocking the land sale for Civic Drive in late 2021, the selection committee has now returned with the announcement of the Diamond Creek location.
Documents seen by M&N Bulletin obtained under FOI by Friends of Apollo Parkway note that the Ryans Road location was ranked eighth out of 12 potential sites, scoring just 53 out of 100, whereas the Main Road site scored 85.
There is concern already from the community regarding the Ryans Road site’s lack of connection to public transport and other township infrastructure, its proximity to powerlines, that it sits across a wildlife corridor, and provides a home to kangaroos and Gang Gang Cockatoos.
When asked by M&N Bulletin if Council were supportive of the announcement, a spokesperson for Nillumbik Council said:
“The Eltham Area Community Hospital is a Victorian Government project that is being undertaken by the Victorian Health Building Authority.
Nillumbik Shire Council has not been involved in the decision to locate the hospital in Diamond Creek.
We are still to gain a comprehensive understanding of the proposal and its impacts and therefore cannot comment further.
However, we will be advocating for the best possible outcome for our local community as a result of the proposed development including an efficient and safe road network, and ensuring amenity impacts are minimised.
Nillumbik Shire Council welcomes any boost to heath care services in the north-east region that will benefit our community.”
We asked Ms Ward about some of these concerns expressed, she told us a number of sites were considered against a broad criteria, with Ryans Road chosen after meeting that criteria, including its location which is close to a range of community facilities and links to
“An ecological consultant will be undertaking a detailed survey of the Ryans Road site to provide advice on vegetation, wildlife and other ecological matters.
In response to questions about why the Main Road site was not considered, she said the old shire office site would require moving the protected Shillinglaw Trees, as well the sale of the kinder, memorial hall, and the senior citizens hall.
“There is also no guarantee Nillumbik would sell the site, as they refused to sell Apollo Parkways,” she said.
So it seems this is now a done deal.
To be operated by Austin Health, the Eltham area Community Hospital (interim name) will be a public hospital providing a range of day hospital and primary health care services, including unplanned urgent care, general medical and specialist appointments, day surgery and chronic disease management — what Ms Ward described as “a huge benefit for locals.”
She said the hospital’s strong links to specialists, community health and social support services will improve follow-up treatment and support for those requiring complex care.
Ms Ward said the Ryans Road site is close to a range of community facilities and services, including playgrounds, schools, and sporting facilities, and is serviced by several bus routes connecting to surrounding areas, including Eltham Station Greensborough, Diamond Creek and Hurstbridge.
“This location is a great outcome for our local community; it’ll mean we’ll be able to get a number of everyday health services close to home, without having to travel in traffic to the Austin or Northern Health,” Ms Ward said.
The new hospital is one of 10 new community hospitals in major growth areas, funded as part of a $675 million investment by the Labor Government.
Once complete, the 10 community hospitals will be able to treat at least 114,000 more urgent care patients and 55,000 dialysis treatments and enable more than 100,000 additional allied health sessions each year.
The Community Hospital Program will create an estimated 1,900 jobs during planning and construction and more than 1,000 healthcare jobs once completed.
Delivered by the Victorian Health Building Authority, the designs for the community hospital will be released later this year when construction begins.
The project is due for completion in late 2024.
Image courtety Victorian Health Building Authority
A TINY SCHOOL has been changing lives for almost 50 years, and it will now have the facilities it deserves after an $18 million redevelopment is completed.
Croydon Community School opened as an “alternative school” in the 1970s and has been catering to students who do not fit — or do not want to fit — within the mainstream system.
Having operated largely out of portable buildings at the old Croydon Primary School site in Mt Dandenong Road, it is now moving to a brand-new, purpose-built facility in Croydon Road at the vacated Croydon High School site.
Principal Bronwyn Harcourt said the school’s student population has been kept small.
“It was 23 when I started; it is 126 this year, but we had deliberately reduced our numbers before moving to the new site, but we’ve got about 73 this year alone on our waiting list.
“And we get enquiries from Grade 4 families for Year 7 transitions and Year 11 kids who are struggling in the mainstream.”
She said the Big Picture Learning model the school uses is becoming more and more an option of choice.
Bronwyn said that Big Picture Learning allowed them to engage with students based on their passions.
“When they are engrossed and loving a topic and are able to explore it fully — students have followed passion projects including a school-wide scale model of the Tasmanian Rail system and a taxidermy project — the learning and the confidence that is picked up along the
way — they learn how to learn,” she said.
Assistant Principal Kaye Bhan told M&N Bulletin that the school is a public school, so it is open to accepting all types of students and, in essence, is run like a gifted program with student-directed learning.
She said if they attract only bright kids, “who are wonderful to have, and we want them, but we want the others who are at risk of falling through the gaps”.
Education Minister James Merlino and Member for North East Metro Sonja Terpstra recently toured the close-to-completed school.
Mr Merlino described the project as “really critical”.
“Every school project is important, but this is the last stop for these kids, and if we can engage with them and deliver them a pathway, we set them up for life,” he said.
The school redevelopment follows the ethos of the school community, with the architects consulting with the students to enable the school to be fit for purpose.
The new school offers townhall-style performance space for the music faculty, which opens onto the main courtyard, with a creek running through the outdoor areas, a multi-purpose outdoor court, stationary bikes where students can add charge to the school’s power supply, classrooms (called advisories) including Science, Food Tech, Physical Education and Technology facilities, there is even a wood-fired oven, computer lab, 3D printing workshop, and a wellness centre with private spaces for counselling or other medical interventions.
Bronwyn said the school also has an integration area for students that are disengaged from the education system.
She said school staff can work one-on-one or even two on-one with the students to build trust.
“Trust with young people who have none in adults — and young people who are used to transactional relationships.
“It is about them having a having a home here, where they feel comfortable and welcomed.”
The integration area even has a separate entrance to the main school so students can come and go on their terms.
Students were all able to participate in work experience with the various trades during the construction.
One Year 12 student, Marcus Joy, had been on-again, off-again with his school attendance but has become engaged with his learning, and, Bronwyn says, “he shows up every day, coffee in hand” and will graduate at the end of the year.
Marcus stood out as part of his work placement with the project’s landscaping team and has now been offered an apprenticeship with the firm.
During his tour of the facility, Mr Merlino offered the school community, the architect practice Crosier Scott and building company McCorkell Constructions his congratulations on the project.
“This is one of the best projects I’ve seen in my eight years, so well done,” he said.
Students will say farewell to Mt Dandenong Road at the end of Term 2 and move to the new campus at the beginning of Term 3.
SPORT IS OFTEN considered the great equaliser.
Nelson Mandela remarked that “sport has the power to change the world.
“It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” The End of the Game is by Warrandyte-based author Michael Fiddian and explores this notion through the eyes of Tom Wallace and a small fictional country town called Duneldin.
It is September 1992, the whole town is enveloped in footy fever when the under 18s win through to the Grand Final – a feat not seen for 22 years.
Tom had only moved to Duneldin from Melbourne at the start of the year, and while he missed his friends and life back in the big city, joining the football club certainly helped him make friends and find a place.
One of the players in particular, Albert Edwards, was quick to strike up a friendship with Tom.
So when Albert is racially abused by some of the local parents, Tom is stunned and feels uneasy and unsure as to what to do and how to react, and despite all the celebrations in the lead up to the Grand Final, Tom is sure Albert has payback planned but has no idea what.
What is powerful about this story is that some 30 years after it is set, in 2022 the kind of racism that Albert faced is still very prevalent.
Author Michael Fiddian set the book in September 1992, three months after the Mabo Decision because “that (time) was meant to be the cusp of change.”
Throughout the book, Tom struggles to truly believe and understand how easily this kind of thing happens, and as readers we are challenged with issues of race that we may not realise exist all around us.
Tom is meant to be a bystander with a conscience, and the whole week in the build up to the game, he has inner turmoil as to what he should do and say, and how can he fix this.
Yet this is not something he can just fix and in the end the realisation is that he does not have any idea what it is really like.
As Michael Fiddian explains: “Albert realised he might win a battle but he is not going to win the war.
“Writing this (story) is trying to help win that war.”
This is a must read – footy fan, or not – the issues tackled in the book are ones that are not confined to the white lines on a Saturday, nor do they just exist between the four quarters.
They exist after the end of the game.
After the end of each and every game. The End of the Game is published by Fairplay publishing and available as both paperback and ebook from fairplaypublishing.com.au or at good bookshops.
The June 2022 edition of Warrandyte Diary has several stories around the theme of heritage – in relation to construction, preservation and planning, these stories make up our feature article this month. Feature photo: PAUL KELLY
Memorial Gardens embrace our spirit of place
By DON HUGHES
QUIETLY NESTLED in the heart of Warrandyte is a place of deep reflection, commemoration, and connection.
Warrandyte Memorial Gardens commemorate our fallen warriors.
Overlooking wonguim wilam and the Warrandyte bridge, the Gardens are a place to remember and reflect upon the tragedy of war.
Each Anzac Day, our community gathers to commemorate and pay their respects to our service personnel.
Daily, the Gardens also provide a place for individual reflection and respite; every community needs a special place like this.
Warrandyte RSL, as custodians of the site, are working actively to preserve the heritage and spirit of the Gardens, as well as maintain and upgrade the facilities for modern-day needs.
Warrandyte RSL President and current serving Army Engineer, David (Rhino) Ryan, highlighted that:
“The Gardens require significant upgrading to bring them into the 21st Century.
Many challenges face the steep site, hewn into the rocky riverside slopes of Warrandyte, where access is difficult for many.
Careful landscape engineering can tame and complement this special place”.
Gifted to the people of Warrandyte in perpetuity by surviving soldiers and grieving families of soldiers from WWI, the Memorial Gardens offers a sacred place for all.
Vietnam Veteran and Memorial Trustee, Lionel (Horrie) Aldenhoven, told the Diary:
“Dominating the Gardens, as a symbol of resilience and respect, stands an impressive stone tower.
“Built by local stonemasons early last century, it embodies the blood, sweat, and tears of a whole community within the stone and mortar joints — the heritage significance of this special place is obvious — it connects the whole community.
“As the current custodians, we must ensure it remains so”.
Manningham Council has previously provided much needed financial support to Warrandyte RSL, providing $25,000 in 2018 to facilitate vital structural repairs to the balcony section, which had become unsafe and was closed to the public. Yarra Ward Councillor Carli Lange reflects on the importance of the Memorial Gardens.
“The Warrandyte Memorial Gardens are a peaceful, sustainable, and inclusive space where we can celebrate life with its diverse culture, wildlife, and the natural environment.
“Warrandyte is resilient, and we can build on our community’s assets through inspiration and reflection, to provide quality public spaces that support health, happiness and wellbeing,” she said.
Local stonemason, James Charlwood told the Diary that careful consideration should be given to any works on the Memorial Gardens to maintain the integrity of the stonework.
Pointing to the redevelopment of the bus stop at the base of the gardens, “which was a miserable failure”, Mr Charlwood said that using the right stone and skilled stonemasons is vital.
“The revitalisation of the whole memorial precinct that myself, David Ryan and others have talked over is very much in need, with non-compliance of the pathways and lack of ramps, and the lack of a cohesive plan.
“It is an expensive exercise, but to have a well-formulated masterplan approach, particularly regarding stonework and hard landscaping, that adopts some principles and approaches that would then see it happen bit by bit eventually,” he said.
As always, careful collaboration and active consultation, engagement and education will be essential for any pathway forward which considers the whole social, spiritual, historical and physical environments of the site.
Riverbank works near completion at Taroona Reserve
By JAMES POYNER
CONTRACTORS have now completed major bank reconstruction works at Taroona Reserve, a Melbourne Water spokesperson attributed the works to “extensive recreational use which resulted in heavy erosion in the area”.
The spokesperson went on to outline the project.
“Works include the construction of a rock wall made from mudstone followed by planting a mix of grasses, shrubs and local canopy species.
Temporary fencing will also be installed to protect the plants while they grow.
The plants will be maintained over the coming years and will provide habitat and shade for the future.
This project, which is due to be completed in July 2022, will ensure recreational use can continue without further eroding the bank and causing more degradation to the existing vegetation, habitat values and water quality in the river itself.
The work is part of a larger capital works program, the Middle Yarra Habitat Improvement Project, which includes revegetation works and weed control at 13 locations along the Yarra River between Templestowe and Warrandyte.
Areas are selected in consultation with Parks Victoria, Manningham Council and Nillumbik Council as land managers along the Yarra from Templestowe to Warrandyte.”
Users of Taroona Reserve will note that the bulk of the works are complete, and the beach is again available for use.
Exploring our heritage foundations
By VALERIE POLLEY
Photos: PAUL KELLY
A MOST APPRECIATIVE audience of some 50 people attended a recent talk held by the Warrandyte Historical Society, titled Foundation Stone, presented by James Charlwood of Cathedral Stone.
The newly renovated Federation Room at the Grand Hotel Warrandyte proved an ideal venue for James’ illustrated talk. He started by asking what heritage is before running through many photos of heritage buildings.
He proposed that heritage is both personal and accumulates across generations.
He argued it attaches to our place and to the detail of our township and the natural environment.
He suggested that heritage places are like children, unable to care for themselves and need us to look after them.
He covered the requirements of the Burra Charter with its guiding principles.
Using the restoration of a stone statue of Robbie Burns initially placed in the Camperdown Botanic Gardens and severely degraded over time, James showed that teams are necessary for this kind of work. It entails replacing like with like; it requires research for authenticity and craftsmanship using all the available skills and disciplines.
The photos of before and after the restoration demonstrated the level of detail required.
James then touched on the various themes of historical significance for the town. Indigenous heritage and bushland environment, people, gold mining, arts, stone, and Warrandyte’s place as one of the premier riverfront townships on the Yarra River (Birrarung).
James discussed a plan currently being compiled. This plan hopes to identify sources of similar stone as replacement stone given the local stone is no longer quarried; how and where to stockpile any remnant stone as buildings are demolished or renovated, and develop a policy for the use of the stone in the township.
James finished with a proposal for a draft set of core values for the town (a summary follows):
Maintain the township character, Care for the natural environment;
Preserve river health;
Encourage pedestrian amenity;
Deal with fire risk;
Manage storm abatement;
Work on sustainability.
James appealed to his audience to join with him and others working towards plans for the future.
His final slide showed several curb treatments in the town centre area.
It illustrated the various solutions over time (from bluestone and stone to concrete channelling) and highlighted the lack of a cohesive view for the future.
It inspired a great deal of conversation and debate over afternoon tea.
A recording of James’ talk can be viewed at : warrandytediary.com.au/community-collaborations This story first appeared in the Warrandyte Historical Society newsletter and has been edited for this publication.
MANNINGHAM Council is reviewing its Planning Scheme and is seeking community input.
Under the Planning and Environment Act 1982, the review is required by the local government every four years.
In particular, feedback is sought about:
What aspects of the Planning Scheme are working well?
What aspects of the Planning Scheme need improving?
What is missing from the Planning Scheme?
The Planning Scheme includes the following key themes:
Employment Heritage, arts, cultural and leisure
Transport and car parking
Manningham Mayor, Cr Michelle Kleinert, says,
“I encourage everyone in the community to get involved.
“Now is the time for your input to help shape our future directions for the planning scheme.
“Any proposed changes to the Planning Scheme require approval from the Minister for Planning.
“We will continue to advocate on behalf of our community to reflect their values and needs,” she said.
The community have until Monday, June 20, to submit feedback via: yoursay.manningham.vic.gov.au/planning-scheme-review.
Council has also scheduled a drop-in session at Manningham Civic Centre, 669 Doncaster Road, on Thursday, June 9, between 4pm and 7pm.
No other drop-in sessions have been scheduled at the time of writing.
Have your say:MP calls for road upgrade
MEMBER FOR Warrandyte, Ryan Smith stood up in State Parliament recently to speak on behalf of Warrandyte constituents asking for upgrades to Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road.
“As the major arterial for entering and exiting the township of Warrandyte from the west this road is in desperate need of upgrading.
The limited street lighting along the road is also concerning particularly with Warrandyte High School and local sporting grounds being in such close proximity and the cyclists on the road also face safety issues, due to the lack of lighting.”
He then asked the Department of Transport to complete an audit of the road quality and safety and undertake resultant works.
Does Mr Smith speak for the people of Warrandyte in asking for urbanisation of our rural road, which would fundamentally change the gateway to our township?
Let the Diary know.
Send your comments to email@example.com
IT’S A WEDNESDAY night.
You have finally finished up work in the home office.
The kids have been home from school for an hour.
You stick your head in on teen number one; he’s in front of his computer with Discord chats on one screen and a fast-moving game he’s yelling at on another.
You check on teen number two, and it’s pretty much a mirror image, except she’s laughing at Tik Tok.
Your next shift has started without you, and you already feel like you’re on the losing side.
The Screen Wars: phones, tablets, laptops, PCs playing all the games, social media, funny videos, messaging services, school requirements and work access all in one.
The war started well before COVID, but let’s face it, COVID has bought it into starker focus.
The screens that allowed us to connect became our lifeline to work, school, friends, and entertainment.
We have all become so reliant on them that we have forgotten how to function with less.
So, how can we reduce their overuse without an all-out war?
This is a question I am so often asked by the parents of young people I see.
Our need for up-to-date information, especially during the lockdowns, was intense in recent years.
There were daily press briefings on rules, numbers, and the heartbreaking toll of deaths.
Each time we picked up the screen, there was a sense of “I know what I need to”.
We still need information but not as frequently.
Letting our icy grip loosen on the screens will take time and conscious choices by our families and us.
Don’t blame the kids, ourselves, or the screens.
They did the job, and they kept us going.
We were all so sick of seeing each other or pretending to be ok over lockdowns that it was easier to say, “ah, let them do it,” while we cosied up with Netflix or our friends on Facebook.
But now, like that partner you want to break up with and go back to being friends, our focus needs to change.
A big step is a family plan/contract that is built with input from everyone whilst calm.
It needs to be clear how long screens can be used over weekdays/weekends and maybe a day a month with no rules.
Where possible, get your young people to decide when they will use their allotted time.
You cannot ask anyone to go from eight hours a day to 30 mins.
There will be a complete family revolt.
Most importantly, you as the parents need to lead this by role modelling it.
Young people will quickly shut down if there is one rule for the grownups and one for them.
So, if there are no phones at the table, get a phone basket, and everyone pops theirs in.
If its no screens before school, then everyone needs to.
If rules get broken, the contract needs to have agreed consequences.
If people start slipping screens before school, turn Wi-Fi off for that period.
But don’t pull out heavy-handed consequences straight away.
We want to bring about the change gently, with love, with humour and with an understanding that this is not easy.
Decide on other things to help fill the time.
You can’t take away and leave a gaping time hole.
If your kids like a bit of sport, head down to the local basketball courts or football ground, get some exercise equipment or do yoga.
If your kids are more creative — get the art stuff out.
Get the cameras out and print out the best ones for the walls.
Music or podcasts — the non-screen silence can be unnerving for some at first.
Do home mani-pedis, facials, or hair treatments together.
Or solo ones like scented baths, et cetera.
Each person learns how to cook a new meal that they love.
Get them with their friends in person.
Make a firepit for fires with marshmallows.
If there are extra jobs around the house, they could make a few extra bucks out of — get them on those.
Ask your kids if there is a new skill they’d like to learn — car maintenance, carpentry, cake decoration; find a short course together.
Finally, we need to reteach ourselves and our kids how to be without constant screen attention.
This isn’t an overnight venture; it will take time and conscious awareness.
Talk to your young people over time about how they are going with it.
If they say it’s hard, then validate that it IS hard.
Share your experiences of what has and hasn’t worked for you.
It’s incredibly important to remain calm, collegial, and full of praise for the steps your family make in overcoming this issue.
Until next time folks! Natalie Rinehart (B.A.Sci (Psych); Grad.Dip.App.Psych) is a Young Person & Family Counsellor/Life Coach 0425 735 106
AS WE LEARN to live with COVID-19, another challenging virus lurks in the wings.
During lockdowns, with our general improved hand-washing and sterilisation routines, and mask-wearing, confirmed Influenza cases took a dramatic nose dive.
Data on recorded cases provided by Immunisation Coalition shows national Influenza cases in 2019 hit 313,085 and month-on-month data had the virus tracking hight into early 2020 until March/April when there were 6,043 cases in March, this fell to 321 cases in April, as lockdown measures began to kick in.
With numbers in the hundreds, then mere dozens month-on-month for the last two years, the current strain of influenza has now seen a dramatic uptick, with Australia-wide Influenza cases as of May 30, 2022, reported to be 35,317. Victoria is reporting an increase of 50 per cent in the last week of May, rising from 10,000 to 15,000 cases.
Flu vaccines are available from GPs and pharmacies, such as Terry White Chemmart or Warrandyte Medical Centre and would normally cost between $25 and $70 depending on what type of vaccine you are eligible for.
To combat a sudden rise in Influenza cases, Victoria has joined other States and Territories in the push to get the population vaccinated against Influenza.
As part of a $33 million package, more than 3,000 GPs and community pharmacies are offering free flu vaccination to all Victorians during June.
Until now it has only been free for vulnerable groups, including children under five years, people over 65 years, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people with increased risk medical conditions.
The Government has said it will also reimburse GPs and community pharmacies for flu vaccines administered to any Victorians that are not usually eligible for free flu shots — so that immunisation providers can continue to use vaccines that they have already purchased.
This will mean all Victorians aged six months and over will be eligible for the free flu shot in June to help boost vaccination coverage as much as possible and avoid more hospitalisations throughout winter. Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley encouraged all Victorians to get vaccinated against Influenza.
“This will be the first time in two years that we will face a real flu season — we need all Victorians to roll up their sleeves and help protect their loved ones and our health system by getting vaccinated.
“Victorians really took up the call to arms when it came to COVID-19 vaccinations, and we know they can do it again — so we’re removing as many barriers as possible to help boost vaccine coverage,” he said.
The Government is also suggesting vulnerable groups get a fourth “Winter Booster” against COVID-19; also noting that it is possible to have your Influenza and COVID-19 vaccination at the same time.
Winter COVID-19 boosters are recommended for people who are:
65 years or older a resident of an aged care or disability care facility severely immunocompromised Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander aged 50 years and older.
Those aged 16-64 and with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness those aged 16 to 64 with disability with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities that have an increased risk of a poor outcome.
Presently, the Winter Booster is not recommended for those aged 16 – 64 who are not considered part of a vulnerable group.
Anyone with cold and flu symptoms should get tested for COVID-19 and remain at home until their symptoms have resolved — regardless of whether it turns out to be COVID-19 or flu.
People who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for seven days from the date of their result.
GRAND HOTEL Warrandyte has, once again, won big at the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) Awards.
The Grand was a finalist in nine awards, including Best Overall Hotel Metro.
On the night, they returned to Warrandyte with two awards, and, we must say, the Diary is not surprised they took home the goods in these particular categories.
Our host with the most, Manager Peter Appleby was awarded the Local Legend (Metro), while the Grand took the Best Outdoor Dining Experience (Metro) award.
Peter said to take the Outdoor Dining Experience award was “fantastic”.
“During COVID, with all the rules changing, we knew that outdoor dining was going to be a thing.”
Even before the lockdowns, they had already started developing the beer garden, the Grand Stand, but they put it on hold.
“Once we realised that it was going to be the way of the future, we got the guys back on deck and created the space and have continually added to it with our fireplace, and now a kiosk.
“We think it’s beautiful out there, all year round.
“We were fortunate that we had the foresight to do what we did, and then you know to get an award for Best Outdoor Dining Experience was great — we’re very happy.”
He said that due to COVID, people are more comfortable sitting outside, especially when there are large groups, and the Grand Stand space is great in any weather.
“We’ve got the heaters out there, the fire’s roaring, people are gravitating more outside than inside, whereas in the past, it was always an inside venue — it has been well received — and the punters are happy,” he said
What a legend!
Peter told the Diary to win the Local Legend award was a humbling experience.
“It’s the first year that this award has been up for grabs — it was in recognition of someone who’s put commitment into the community, commitment to their team, commitment to all the local sporting groups, and in schools and fétés and fairs, and all that.
“We took over 10 years ago, and we wanted to get the Grand back as a community partner because it had waned a little bit over the years before us taking over — so, that was the number one goal, to give the Grand back to the community, and coming up on 10 years later, and we’re pretty proud of what we’re achieved.
“And our team here have given 15-year-olds their first job — not just in our industry, but their first job altogether, they can create some life experiences.
“Our team is pretty proud of the amount of staff that they have put through at such a young age to gain some valuable experience, which will see them advancing their lives, in whatever field.
“We like to invest in the guys who want to learn, and I also guess, with myself getting that award, it’s the investment into our team.
“And, you know, I see myself as a leader who will teach anyone who wants to be taught to better, not just themselves, but better our industry.”
He said that despite staff shortages elsewhere, the Grand has been able to find staff.
“We are fortunate that we are an employer of choice — people want to work here — we pride ourselves on our team culture, and people want to be a part of that, which is pleasing.
“People are knocking on the door four, five, six times a week for a job, which is great.”
While the Grand has been jumping of late, Peter acknowledges COVID is far from over.
“People are very cautious — people want to sit outside in the open spaces, which is fair enough, and many people are still wearing masks.
“Back to normal? Not quite, but it’s heading in the right direction.”
THE FEDERAL ELECTORATE of Menzies bucked the trend and was retained by the outgoing Liberal government after an otherwise landslide election of the Albanese Labor Government.
A massive 6.1 per cent swing to Labor in Menzies was not enough to take the seat from Liberal hands, so Keith Wolahan has claimed victory in the seat that Kevin Andrews has held since 1991.
Liberal Party retains Menzies Mr Wolahan released a statement following Naomi Oakley conceding the seat almost a week after the polls closed.
“I want to begin by thanking each of the other candidates (Naomi Oakley, Bill Pheasant, Greg Cheesman, Nathan Scaglione, John Hayes, and Sanjeev Sabhlok), their families, and their volunteers.
Thank you to the people of Menzies who have put your trust in me.
My commitment remains the same: I will fight for our community, put the national interest first, and give my all to represent you in our federal parliament.
Thank you to my dedicated party members, volunteers, and supporters for your efforts, your belief in our cause, and your faith in me.
For over 12 months, we have been out in our community, listening to their hopes, aspirations, and concerns.
I never have, and will never, take the people of Menzies for granted. To my party, there is no sugar-coating what happened on May 21.
The loss of Josh Frydenberg, Tim Wilson, Katie Allen, and Gladys Liu is a devastating blow.
As a party, a movement, and a family, we must listen, learn, and regroup.
If we do that work and draw upon our core beliefs, we will come back stronger for it.
Finally, can I thank my family, especially Sarah, Leo, Eva, Mum and Dad.
I wouldn’t be here without you, and I love you.”
Mr Wolahan gave a special mention to the community of Warrandyte, telling the Diary:
“There is nowhere else quite like Warrandyte.
“I could think of no greater honour than to be your voice in our nation’s parliament”.
Labor comes close
While Menzies remains a Liberal seat, it may not be as safe as it once was.
At the Warrandyte booth, with support from Greens preferences, Ms Oakley was the front runner, 878 — 669.
Likewise, in North Warrandyte, Labor won 504 — 272. The newer booths in Menzies, in the Whitehorse Council area that were included after redistribution, also favoured the Labor candidate.
While there was solid support for Mr Wolahan in Wonga Park, Doncaster, Templestowe and Bulleen to tip the Liberals over the line, at one stage, Ms Oakley was within 45 votes of Mr Wolahan in early counting before the margin became unassailable.
She conceded defeat a week after polls were closed, as the gap nudged 2,000 votes.
Ms Oakley sat down with the Diary to discuss the result.
“I really wanted to get it over the line; it was a six per cent swing, which is pretty much unheard of, but it would have been great to get it over the line.
“My dad said to me; it’s going to be a very difficult seat to win.
“I think there was the consensus from some of the oldest parts of the party that we’re never going to win it — it was sort of unwinnable, and of course, when the results started to come through, they were pretty shocked as well,” she said.
She said the redistribution to include Box Hill and Blackburn into the seat added to the unknowns.
“It’s a marginal seat now.”
Being a safe Liberal seat going into the election, her party did not focus its efforts on the seat.
“My energy went into phoning people — because I only had a limited budget, but I also had a limited crew.
“And obviously, they were volunteers — I just did the best I could with what I had.
“And, you know, I think the phoning was a huge part of getting through to people.
“But also, once they started to understand my backstory, it resonated with a lot of the Menzies community.
“The people of Menzies want someone who is grassroots who can relate to the many issues the community faces.”
She said it was rewarding calling people over those six weeks, “I was able to help several family violence survivors by doing that and families struggling with mental health issues as well”.
She said there were several unexpected events during the campaign.
“I had Kevin Andrews turn up to one of the booths, congratulate me, and wish me luck.
“A couple of his supporters voted for me as a protest [at Mr Andrews losing preselection].
Ms Oakley said that despite the loss, she enjoyed the campaign and said this is not the last we will see of her.
“It was great to be a part of it — and it is great that it is not unwinnable anymore.
“My political career is probably not over; I’m going to try and see if I can run for the State election; I think I’m going to give it a crack because I think there is an opportunity there for me [to be a local voice] — and I think people would like that.
“I think there’s definitely room for more women — that’s coming through loud and clear.
“I put everything on hold to run — to do my best.
“I’m happy with how I went here, it would have been great to get the prize, but that didn’t happen.
“Dad ran for Deakin under Gough Whitlam, and he missed out by 400 votes.
“Dad’s been amazing support just as a mentor — as well as Sonja Terpstra.
“To have that support of people who have been there or are doing that.
“And hopefully, Keith can actually deliver on his promises, like Five Ways.”
Greens make headway
Garnering a 3.5 per cent swing, Warrandyte resident and Green’s Candidate Bill Pheasant made a creditable showing in the polls, earning 13.7 per cent of the primary vote.
With most Green preferences flowing to Labor, it was a significant factor in almost delivering the seat to Labor. Bill Pheasant told the Dairy:
“I am pleased to have run for the first time as a Greens candidate, helping make Menzies a marginal seat — one that will now benefit from increased attention.
As a Warrandyte resident, I wanted to push for more decisive action to protect this incredible ecosystem that sustains us and reimagine politics as a profoundly important activity: where facts are important, where everyone in the community matters where incompetence is not rewarded.
I congratulate Keith Wolahan as the new representative for Menzies.
It was great to spend time with all the candidates — well done all for giving many voices a chance to be heard.”
Other candidates on the Menzies ballot could not breach the 4 per cent threshold, with the Liberal Democrats Greg Cheesman and United Australia Party’s Nathan Scaglione each taking 3.5 per cent of primary votes. One Nation’s mystery candidate, John Hayes, took 2.2 per cent of the vote, while Federation Party’s Sanjeev Sabhlok received 0.9 per cent.