Outdoors, but not wandering

WITH MANNINGHAM Council’s 24-hour Cat Confinement Order now in place, Cat Considerations offers a monthly column on cost-effective ways to keep your cats healthy and happy while living indoors or confined to limited space.
By way of introduction, this month answers a much-asked question, “How can my cat have outdoor time and not go wandering?”
While allowing your cat to roam wide may seem more sympathetic to its natural behaviour, several key factors make it more beneficial to encourage your cat to adjust to a more contained lifestyle.
Throughout spring and summer, unwanted kittens appear in their hordes in pounds and animal shelters.
There is not room for them all, and ultimately, deciding what to do is extremely difficult.
The rest is for your imagination, so nothing more to be said, apart from please, please, desex your cats.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus — transmitted through biting, which 15 per cent of all outdoor cats carry — as well as roundworm, tapeworm, lungworm, heartworm, ringworm, fleas and ticks, and bacterial infections, can all be prevented by limiting your cat’s contact with other infected animals.
Cats with paler noses and ears are also susceptible to skin cancer.
Roaming cats are also at risk of injury from humans, dogs, and other wild animals, as well as death and injury on the road.
Even powerful owls will hunt and catch an unsuspecting cat. But cats are also a danger to wildlife — research shows they have directly contributed to the extinction of more than 20 Australian native mammals and are implicated in a further eight.
Lastly, some more food for thought regarding those who care for cats suffering from the above-listed problems.
Victorian vets have the highest rate of suicide in the health professions.
Their valuable work includes attempting to mend the results of roaming cats again, and again, and again, a tragedy they know is preventable.
So, what can be done to give your cat some enriching outdoor time?
Much of this depends on your garden size and the type of fencing you may or may not have.
A garden with solid fencing or fencing a cat cannot get through can be set up as an outdoor space.
There is a roller-type product on the market that is attached along the top of a fence line to prevent cats from getting out or in.
Simply put, a cat cannot grasp the top of the fence if it wants to launch itself over.
Google Oscillot or Rapid Mesh Cat Roller to find it.
The following options are ideal if you have a larger, unfenced garden, a veranda, or a small, enclosed yard.
Catios are quite the thing and can be purchased in various sizes, custom built or self-made.
A catio needs shelving, protection, and space for your cat’s scratching post, toilet, and feeding and resting areas — designing one for your feline can be a delightful, creative project.
They can be constructed separately from the house, but supervision is needed, i.e. not leaving a cat in it all day with no one home.
A cat door leading out to your catio is more suitable, as your cat can come and go as it pleases.
A catio must include space for stretching, walking, climbing, and resting.
Research online will provide many ideas for catio design and construction and a surprising number of cat door options.
While most catios are made using wire mesh, a netting mesh can be a suitable option to enclose a veranda or a small yard space whereby the netting can stretch from the fence to the roof.
Lastly, the idea of walking a cat sounds odd but is indeed possible.
However, it does depend on the cat’s personality, as no cat can be led anywhere like a dog.
Walking a cat is a slow process and requires patience and observation to get it happening.
You will need a harness of appropriate size and comfort.
Try the harness indoors first, then attach the lead to it.
Then, open the door and let your cat explore.
What happens from there depends very much on the cat’s personality.
If your cat is already an indoor cat, exploring outdoors will be a new experience for them, so simply follow your cat around with the lead.
It is not likely cats new to this experience will charge off confidently into the wilderness.
If they want to disappear into tiny spaces you cannot get into, deter them by picking them up and placing them somewhere else.
Cats like to establish an area to check out and leave claim to, and such a path becomes the traversed route, so walking can eventually become an off-the-lead time when you just follow your cat on its route around your property.
Having said this, however, keep watch.
If the kitty gets a twinkle in their eye planning an escape, pick her up and bring her indoors again.
If they are used to being outdoors, they will likely immediately head off along their familiar territory-checking routes.
In this case, they will suddenly experience restraint and struggle to be released, so take them indoors and try again later.
As said, walking takes time and patience.
Much better is to build the aforementioned catio or confined garden space.
Whatever you do, do not take your cat away from your home to a park or unfamiliar area where the very high possibility of it completely freaking out will occur.
To help your cat adjust to contained living requires some forethought and planning.
The best aspect is hanging out with your cat and knowing them better.
They’re quite quirky creatures, and if you work towards confining your feline to your property, you will benefit not only them but also many others in the community.

Jennah has gained her knowledge as a volunteer at Animal Aid Coldstream and gives Happy Healthy Cat talks through Friends of Manningham Dogs and Cat.

How to care for your household appliances

APPLIANCES: they’re the unsung heroes of our homes, tirelessly working behind the scenes to make our lives easier.
From the trusty refrigerator to the faithful washing machine, these marvels of modern technology deserve a little TLC to keep them humming along smoothly.
So, grab your cleaning supplies and let’s dive into some essential appliance care and cleaning tips that will have your home shining brighter than ever before.
Regular maintenance routine: Like a well-oiled machine, your appliances need regular maintenance to stay in top shape. Set aside time each month to give them a once-over.
Check for loose screws, clean out any dust or debris, and inspect hoses and cords for signs of wear and tear.
Prevention is key to avoiding costly repairs down the line.
Keep it clean: A clean appliance is a happy appliance! Get into the habit of wiping down surfaces regularly to prevent dirt and grime from building up.
A gentle cleaner like white vinegar and a microfiber cloth will keep stainless steel appliances looking shiny and new.
And don’t forget about those hard-to-reach spots — a toothbrush or cotton swab can work wonders.
Tackle those filters: Filters are the unsung heroes of many appliances, from the air conditioner to the dishwasher.
Make sure to clean or replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Clogged filters can decrease efficiency and even lead to appliance malfunctions, so take notice of this important step.
Defrosting delight: If you have a frosty friend in the form of a freezer, be sure to defrost it regularly.
A build-up of ice can create an ice monster, restricting airflow and making your freezer work overtime, leading to higher energy bills.
Plus, nobody likes chipping away at an iceberg to get to the ice cream.
Gentle care for delicates: Certain appliances, like the microwave and coffee maker, require extra attention.
Avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive scrubbers, as they can damage delicate surfaces.
Instead, opt for gentle cleaners and a soft touch. Sometimes, washing up liquid will do the trick.
Your appliances will thank you with years of faithful service.
Don’t forget the exterior: While it’s easy to focus on the inner workings of our appliances, don’t neglect the exterior.
Dust and grime can accumulate on knobs, buttons, and handles, so wipe them down regularly.
For appliances with vents or coils, like the refrigerator or dryer, vacuum or brush away debris to ensure proper airflow.
Safety first: Last but certainly not least, safety should always be a top priority when caring for your appliances.
Never attempt to repair a malfunctioning appliance yourself.
Enlist the help of a qualified technician to avoid accidents and ensure proper repairs.

Roll up your sleeves

By following these simple appliance care and cleaning tips, you’ll extend the lifespan of your trusty machines and keep your home looking and functioning at its best.
So, roll up your sleeves, put on your cleaning cap, and show those appliances some love.
Michelle Sterling is the owner of Sterling Renovation.
Contact her on 0413 745 485.

Accelerating the move towards solar energy households

AS PREVIOUSLY reported (Warrandyte Diary, May 2023), WarrandyteCAN has been advocating for the Manningham Council to develop a plan for implementing its Climate Emergency Response Plan.

We have indicated to Council that we see the development of a detailed implementation plan as the only reliable way of achieving the ambitious community target of net zero emissions by 2035.

Apart from continuing to advocate an implementation plan, WarrandyteCAN has also been working with Council on a specific, very important area of emissions reduction for the Manningham community: the transition of households to solar energy.

According to the Australian PV Institute, the proportion of dwellings with solar energy in Manningham as of the end of last year was approximately 21.3 per cent, while in Warrandyte and North Warrandyte (in Nillumbik), the proportion was 30.5 per cent.

There is clearly a long way to go in terms of households converting to solar, and Manningham Council is seeking to increase the uptake of solar in its municipality by various means, including the Solar Savers program.

Solar Savers is a non-profit association comprising a partnership of some 17 councils, including Manningham — although not Nillumbik — supported by the Eastern Alliance for Greenhouse Action.

Solar Savers aims to make it easier for people in participating council areas to access solar energy and batteries by helping them install quality, affordable rooftop solar and batteries from a single supplier.

It has selected this supplier on the basis that it is a trusted company that provides quality products and services.

When Solar Savers is contacted by a resident, it will advise the resident as required.

If the resident would like to go ahead with solar, Solar Savers will put them in contact with the supplier for a quote.

If the resident obtains an acceptable quote, Solar Savers will help them claim any financial assistance to which they may be entitled.

Readers interested in learning more can visit the Solar Savers website at

Rebates and other subsidies are offered to households by the three levels of government, subject to meeting eligibility requirements.

The Commonwealth government offers a financial benefit towards the purchase cost of installing solar (or other renewable energy) systems under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (this benefit is gradually decreasing in value).

The Victorian government at present offers: an interest-free loan of up to $1,400 for solar PV systems; a rebate of up to $1,400 for solar installations and an interest-free loan of $8,800 for batteries.

The Manningham Council offers: subsidies of up to $2,000 plus GST for pension card holders for solar PV systems purchased through Solar Savers and subsidies of up to $2,000 plus GST per household for battery systems purchased through Solar Savers.

To learn more about the subsidies offered by Manningham Council, see

WarrandyteCAN encourages everyone who has not converted to solar to think seriously about doing so, especially considering the advantages of reducing their dependence on the grid, lower electricity bills, fewer power outages, less reliance on fossil fuels, and the financial incentives being offered by the different levels of government.

Become a Solar Saver Manningham Council, in conjunction with WarrandyteCAN, will conduct an information session about the Solar Savers program at the Warrandyte Community Centre, 168-178 Yarra Street, Warrandyte, at 2pm on May 15, 2024.

Tea, coffee and light refreshments will be provided.

And please note that Council is offering to donate $100 to WarrandyteCAN for every completed solar panel or battery installation for a client who mentions they have been referred to Solar Savers by WarrandyteCAN.

Jeff is a member of WarrandyteCAN, a local climate action group advocating for positive climate change outcomes
Find them on Facebook.

Preparing for the 2024 flu season

AS THE 2024 flu season begins, we are seeing new strains, updated vaccines, and an empowered public ready to fight this illness.
Luckily, getting vaccinated is easier than ever in Victoria, with pharmacies offering vaccination services for individuals aged five and above.
However, recognising flu symptoms and knowing how to treat them is still crucial.
The flu is more severe than a common cold, with symptoms like high fever, chills, coughing, sore throat, and fatigue.
Early detection and treatment are vital, especially for vulnerable groups like young children and the elderly.
f you believe you have symptoms of the flu or have tested positive on a home-based rapid antigen test, please get in touch with your doctor immediately.
Do not visit the doctor or pharmacy in person — first, make contact via phone.
If positive, your doctor may provide antiviral medication if appropriate, and your pharmacy can provide a medication delivery service.
The best defence against the flu still remains to get your yearly flu shot.
Vaccinations not only reduce the risk of getting the flu but also lessen its severity.
The Australian Government’s National Immunisation Program(NIP) provides free flu vaccines to high-risk groups, including children under five, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, pregnant women, those aged 65 and older, and individuals six months and older with certain medical conditions that put them at risk of severe flu.
If you fall into these categories, make sure to take advantage of the NIP benefits.
If you do not fall into these groups, you can still receive your flu vaccine at a small cost.
This year’s flu vaccine is tailored to the strains most likely to circulate.
Recommendations from the World Health Organisation guide the vaccine composition to offer broad protection against the latest virus variations.
Monitoring from sources like the Immunisation Coalition and HealthDirect Australia helps Australians stay informed about influenza trends.
While flu activity is generally low, staying vigilant is essential.
Navigating influenza can be challenging, but with advancements in vaccination and improved access to immunisation services, we can fight back.
Your first line of defence starts with vaccination — for your health and the well-being of the community. Stay informed, stay healthy, and remember that your local pharmacist in Victoria can help protect you and your loved ones against the flu from as young as five.
In addition to getting vaccinated, it’s crucial to adopt preventive measures to reduce the spread of the flu.
Simple practices like regular handwashing, covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and avoiding close contact with sick individuals can make a significant difference.

Furthermore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle improves overall well-being and boosts your immune system.
Ensure you get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and stay physically active if you can.
These habits not only help protect you from the flu, but they also contribute to your overall health.
It’s essential to stay informed about the flu vaccine’s availability and any updates on recommended strains.
TerryWhite Chemmart Warrandyte often provides information on our websites or through local community channels.
Keeping an eye on such updates ensures that you can plan and schedule your vaccination well in advance.
If you’re unsure about the flu vaccine or have concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at TerryWhite Chemmart Warrandyte.
We can address any questions you may have and provide personalised advice based on your health condition.
As part of our commitment to community health, TerryWhite Chemmart Warrandyte invites everyone in the community to visit in-store and learn more about how to protect themselves and their loved ones during this flu season.
Preparing for the 2024 flu season involves a multi-faceted approach, including vaccination, preventive measures, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
With increased accessibility to flu vaccines and valuable information, we have the tools to combat the flu effectively.
By staying informed, taking proactive steps, and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals, we can collectively create a healthier and safer community.|
Join us in the fight against influenza and prioritise your well-being this flu season.
Let’s stick together, stay informed and make Warrandyte a flu-free zone.

Historic Tikalara Park

TIKALARA Park is probably the most historic area in Manningham and is located at the junction of Mullum Mullum Creek and the Yarra River.
It is historic on two fronts, from both Aboriginal and pioneer perspectives.
Access to Tikalara Park is gained either by walking west from Beasley’s Nursery on Warrandyte Road, north from Aumann’s Nursery on Websters Road, or east along the Yarra Trail from Petty’s Orchard on Monckton Road.
On reaching the junction of Mullum Mullum Creek and the Yarra River, you will find a small viewing platform that faces north up the river.
If you stand on the viewing platform, you will see a deep-water area immediately in front of you.
This is typically a breeding place for fish and a protected resting area for eels.
In tribal times, it would have been a busy fishing and swimming place.
Looking upriver from the platform, you will see a rapids area two hundred metres to the north.
This was not only a crossing point but was also where fish and eel traps would have been typically located.
Along the shady banks of the river would have been where freshwater mussel farms were located.
On the land to the right of these rapids is a rise that is above the spring flood level, so this was the typical location for a small village.
These river junction locations typically contained half a dozen or more bee-hive-shaped permanent houses that were two metres high and three metres across.
Jimmy Dawson, a local settler who arrived in Warrandyte in 1840, recorded the construction of these turf-block houses.
The frame is made by a circle of three-metre wattle saplings being driven into the ground.
The saplings were then bent into an igloo shape and secured.
The structure was then sheeted in bark and blocks of turf stacked against the frame, with the grass facing outward.
As the grass continued to grow after construction, the houses ended up looking like shaggy igloos, but were amazingly strong and durable.
A little chimney hole was always left at the apex of the structure.
The artefacts found in this raised area adjacent to the river crossing suggest that a village was located here.
The subsequent farming and grazing activity from 1838 on might have alone been enough to erase evidence of such prior Aboriginal housing — but it is more than likely that more deliberate action took place.
The first colonist in this area, and the first in present-day Manningham, was Major Charles Newman, who arrived in 1837. Looking to the right from the viewing platform, you will see Pontville, the permanent house he built in 1844.
It was an Indian-style three-room bungalow with surrounding verandas and is the oldest pioneer building still standing in the mid-Yarra region.
However, and rather ironically, the first dwelling Major Newman built in 1838 was a turf-block hut.
This was done with contracted convict labour, and it stood in the bracken-covered area right behind the present-day viewing platform.
Although it is not recorded, we can safely assume that the brief of the convict labourers was not just to build the Major’s turf-block hut and construct his fences.
It would also have included explicit instructions to obliterate any nearby Aboriginal houses.
The turf-block hut they built for the Major was a single-room dwelling.
It had a large chimney taking up the wall on the eastern side next to the creek and a doorway and window facing north up the river.
The south side of the hut was windowless and faced a bluff, so the west was the only direction from which Aboriginal people could approach the hut.
To cater for this eventuality, the Major had narrow slit windows constructed on the west side, and he kept an array of muskets propped beside each window.
This was so he could fire at any natives who dared to try and cross “his” land. Local oral history records that he did this regularly and with lethal intent. In response to the Major’s open hostility, Aboriginal people regularly broke down his fences, burnt his paddocks, and drove off his stock.
Such events are not only recounted in local oral history, they are also directly evidenced in letters of complaint the Major wrote to the government in New South Wales about his paddocks being burnt and stock being driven off by the natives.
There is one other feature in this area worth a look at, and it is reached by heading east from the viewing platform along the wooden walkway and then 50 metres or so south.
Here, you will find a pond, probably with some ducks in it. This is not a dam. It is the remains of a slurry pit made by the Major to produce the bricks with which Pontville was built.
The kiln accompanying the slurry pit is long since gone, as are the saw pits for cutting timber and the original wooden roof tiles.
Jim Poulter is a local historian.

An interview with Emma Wood

OVERCAST AND empty was the mood in Warrandyte when I met Emma Wood on Referendum day in the local Now and Not Yet Café to chat to her about her plays, directing, her writing processes, A Hit and Miss Christmas, and a variety of other topics too personal to make it into this article.
As I await Emma’s arrival, I order a loose-leaf oat chai and look through my research notes for a last bit of preparation. Emma has written and published three 15-minute one-act plays: Real World 101, Voices, and Women of the World, and five full-length plays: Water Child, Mr Bennet’s Bride, A Hit and Miss Christmas, The Third Act, and Piece of Mind — which incidentally is being performed in February next year at Lilydale Atheneum, directed by Susan Rundle.
She also recently collaborated with Warrandyte Theatre Company and Ballarat National Theatre Company, producing A 2020 Vision — an online curation of lockdown experiences “constructed entirely from the words of local residents” and wrote a verbatim script called Turning Points in collaboration with stroke survivors, performed in 2019.
Before she moved to Warrandyte, Emma worked, lived, and wrote in Newcastle, New South Wales, where her play Water Child won Best New Play at the 2012 City of Newcastle Drama Awards.
Women of the World won the Audience Choice award at Short and Sweet Manila 2017, and A Hit and Miss Christmas and The Third Act have been finalists in UK and US competitions.
Not a bad feat for someone who wasn’t planning on being a writer.

I’ve chosen a seat at the window near the door, and I take Emma by surprise when she enters and looks around.
I’m sitting there like a gremlin, grinning up at her.
“Hi!” I say with a wave as she takes a step back to get me in focus.
She gives me a big smile and hug and joins me at the table.
She orders a turmeric latte, and we share a raspberry, apple, and white chocolate muffin.
What strikes me about Emma the most — apart from us being tall lady buddies — is her reflective nature in her writing and her personality.
She is always interested in making sure she’s creating a safe and open environment for people to share and feel comfortable, especially in the acting and directing space.
Perhaps that is a monocle of her high school Drama teaching style, but I feel it’s an intrinsic element in her general, good-humoured nature.
A Hit and Miss Christmas will be the first time Emma has directed one of her own scripts.
During their first table reading at the hall, Emma was sure to make the distinction to her cast that she wanted them to see her as the director and not the writer.
“I don’t think it’s fair to the cast to be going here’s the script, and then next week, so here’s the script, and I’ve just got these changes.
“No one is ever in a play and doesn’t have some things where they are like, ‘ugh, this is hard to work with’.
“I want them to be able to say to me as a director so I can put aside my writer feelings and go ‘okay, cool, let’s work this as director and actor’.”
Emma went on to say co-directing with her friend Anika Means allowed her to focus on directing.
“You can sometimes have blind spots in your own work, and we’ve known each other long enough that she can be quite frank with me.”
Emma wrote her first play, Water Child, when she was 35 with a one-year-old.
“I woke up one morning with an idea.
“It was burning enough to get me out of bed at 4am and start writing.
“You know, when you’re in a flow, it just feels really good; I was absolutely in the zone.”
Emma credits ideas as “just coming to her”.
However, as she talks, it’s clear that her unconscious and conscious observations of subjects and experiences that ignite her passions seem to ruminate around in her mind until a story starts to form.
Playwriting is her way of expressing what she sees in the world.
She shares them as plots and characters on a journey of transformation that an audience can relate to.
Allowing for a contemplation of the watcher’s own life through the lens of a relatable or un-relatable character and being entertained by it.
And that’s exactly how A Hit and Miss Christmas “dawned on” her.
It was a combination of “being around community theatre companies long enough to realise that there’s quite often a bit of a scramble for a festive feeling play [at the end of the year], and there just aren’t that many to choose from.”
She said that while looking at the American community theatre scene, she noticed that many theatre companies would just do A Christmas Carol every year — and that’s where the idea came from.
She said there is always tension in theatre companies between people who want to bring something more contemporary and edgy, and the champions of the bums-on-seats classic who don’t care if it has been seen 10 times; they need to fill the coffers.
“When I wrote A Hit and Miss Christmas, my intention was to write just a laugh-out-loud comedy with absolutely no meaning, and I couldn’t do it! [Laughs]
“So eventually what came through was a desire to write something that was genuinely festive, but I suppose in a way it’s also a bit of a love letter to community theatre.
“There’s always argy-bargy, but there’s also friendship, and there’s sometimes potential for transformation.
“And I’ve always thought that was a beautiful thing about theatre, so I just thought I’d explore that a bit too.”
I’m pleased to say that Emma’s passion and energy for writing, our drinks, and the warmth of Now and Not Yet Café effortlessly cast out the surrounding gloom of the day.
I hope you have been as uplifted as I was by her humour, insights, and willingness to share so deeply and frankly about her process.
A Hit and Miss Christmas is premiering for the first time in Victoria later this month at Warrandyte Theatre Company, with eight performances over six evenings and two matinees between November 17 and December 2,

Are you getting ready to sell in spring?

SPRING IS usually a busy time in Melbourne for those thinking of buying or selling real estate.
To make the process as smooth as possible, here are some things you can do to get ready to sell your property in spring.
Make your house picture perfect First impressions count, so start packing and decluttering as soon as possible.
You want your house to look as attractive as possible for prospective buyers.
Cluttered houses often look smaller than they are, so decluttering creates an illusion of space, making your home feel larger.
If this seems too overwhelming, ask for help. There are many service providers that can assist with getting your house prepared for sale.
Property stylists, packing and decluttering services, landscape gardeners, and real estate agents can provide tips that may be beneficial in preparing your house for sale.
It is also an opportune time to have a working bee with family and friends, and perhaps even a garage sale to get rid of unwanted clutter.

Choose your real estate agent

If you have been looking to sell for some time, you may already have developed a relationship with a real estate agent who you will use to sell your property.
If not, start researching or asking around for some referrals. Ask friends or trusted colleagues about their experience and who they would recommend.
When selling your property, you are likely trusting your real estate agent with your biggest asset.
So, it is important to get this decision right and select someone you are completely comfortable with who can guide you through the process.

Have your Contract of Sale and Section 32 Vendor Statement ready

Instructing your conveyancer or property lawyer at least 2–3 weeks before putting your home on the market is ideal.
That way, the Contract of Sale and Section 32 Vendor Statement will be ready for your first open inspection.
Things that your conveyancer or property lawyer may need from you to complete a Section 32, Vendor Statement include:

  • Details of any structural or non-structural works completed on the property over the last seven years.
  • There may be further requirements in this respect, and your Conveyancer or Property Lawyer will be able to guide you; If your home was built less than seven years ago, there are additional requirements around providing Domestic Building Insurance, Occupancy Permit and Building Permits.
  • Now is a good time to locate each of those so that they are ready to provide.
  • Copy of pool/spa registration and pool/spa barrier compliance.
  • Any easements or covenants on the property and checking to ensure that there has been no non-compliance.
  • Lists what services are or are not connected.

What you need to know about Section 27 Deposit Release

If you are relying on the release of the deposit from the sale of your home to purchase your new property, you need to ensure that you are aware of how the Section 27 Deposit Release process works — so that there are no surprises that leave you in an unfortunate financial predicament.
A number of requirements must be met if you wish to apply for the early release of your deposit. You should discuss with your conveyancer or property lawyer when instructing them that you would like to access the deposit before settlement so that they can walk you through the process and discuss whether you meet the appropriate criteria.
There is a common assumption that your deposit can just be released once the Contract of Sale is unconditional; however, this is only sometimes the case and, in most circumstances, not that common.

Before you purchase

Before you sign the Contract of Sale, it is extremely important to have the Contract of Sale and Section 32, Vendor Statement looked over by a property lawyer or conveyancer.
They will review and advise you of any matters that may be detrimental or that you may need to look into further before purchasing the property.
This will give you a comprehensive understanding of the property and help you decide whether this is the right property for you.
Selling your property is a big moment in your life, so preparation is the key, and surround yourself with a team that can support you in getting your desired result.
And don’t forget to take a moment to stop and smell the roses.

Louise Aitken, Conveyancing Manager at Madison Sloan Lawyers in Park Orchards.

Triggers that it is time to update your estate plan

MOST OF US put our estate planning in place and tick it off as done.
However, we need to be mindful that our life changes, and so do our circumstances.
So, it is important that we also review our estate planning documents regularly to ensure that they are still relevant to your circumstances and reflect your current wishes.
Some triggers that it is time to update your estate planning documents are:

You marry or separate

If you have married since you put your current Will in place, it is time to update it as the very act of marriage revokes any Will you have in place unless that Will was put in place in contemplation of your marriage.
Many people are caught out by this little fact and are unaware that their Will is no longer valid.
If you have entered a de facto relationship since putting your Will in place, reviewing whether you wish to make any amendments to your Will and Power of Attorney documents is a good idea.
In instances where you have separated or divorced, it is highly unlikely that you wish for your former spouse to receive your assets or undertake the role of your executor, so it would be prudent to undertake a review and update your estate planning documents.

You have children

Having children should be an immediate trigger to update your Will.
However, I am often surprised by clients who have not updated their Will for 15 or 20 years, and their Will does not make any provision for their children as it was put in place before their birth.

Has someone passed away or become incapacitated?

If the person you listed as your executor or the guardian or your children have died or become incapacitated, it is imperative that you review your Will so that you can list someone else to undertake one of these important roles.
Likewise, if a beneficiary passes away, you should review your Will to ensure that you have made provision for what will happen to their share of your estate.
Prospectively, you may wish to change who will receive the share of your estate they would have received.

A beneficiary can no longer manage their own affairs

The circumstances of a beneficiary you may have listed in your Will may have changed.
They may no longer be able to manage their own affairs, whether through incapacity, addiction, or other personal challenges.
In such instances, it is ideal to review your Will to ascertain how best to make provision for this beneficiary.
It may mean creating a particular vehicle in your Will whereby their inheritance is held in a trust for their benefit and prospectively controlled by your executor or another trusted person.

Have you commenced a new business, established a company, Trust or other structure?

Often, we hold significant assets in businesses, company structures or Trusts.
It is imperative that if you make any changes to these structures or establish any new structures, you review your estate planning.
Implementing or changing one of these structures without looking at your estate planning holistically may leave you exposed and create problems when you are no longer here.

Your Superannuation or Life Insurance arrangements have changed

If you change your superannuation arrangements, it is important to make sure that you have in place a current and valid Binding Death Nomination that provides a direction to the Trustee of your Superannuation Fund as to where you would like your superannuation to be paid at the time of your death.
You should also regularly review your life insurance arrangements to ensure that you are adequately insured and have the appropriate beneficiary on any life insurance policy.

Have you acquired significant assets that you wish to make provision for?

If you have recently acquired assets that you wish to leave to a specific person at the time of your death, you need to make provision for this in your Will.
Additionally, if you have recently sold a particular asset that you had bequeathed to someone in your Will, it is a good idea to update your Will to take account of this asset no longer being part of your asset pool and perhaps making provision of an alternate asset to that specific beneficiary.
By regularly reviewing your estate planning documents, you can easily identify any amendments that may be required and action these so that they are up to date and reflective of your current wishes.

Melisa Sloan is an Estate Planning and Property Lawyer based in Park Orchards. For more information, go to:

Climate change threatens platypus in your river

Photo Melinda Casey

Photo Melinda Casey

HOW MANY of us have wandered down to the Yarra, Birrarung River in Warrandyte in search of the ever-elusive platypus?
We know they call this special part of the world home, but these cherished creatures are under threat.
From habitat loss and urbanisation to pollution and climate change, our platypus friends face numerous challenges.
Keep reading as we explore the dangers they confront and discover the urgent actions needed to safeguard their existence in the heart of the Yarra, Birrarung River.
Human activities such as damming upstream, excessive water extraction and alterations to the riverÕs flow disrupt the delicate balance necessary for the platypus to thrive.
These changes reduce water quality, impacting the availability of the platypusÕs favourite prey, including crustaceans, insects, and small fish.
Moreover, sediment accumulation, nutrient runoff, and invasive species further degrade their habitat, making it increasingly challenging for these captivating creatures to find suitable shelter, construct their burrows, and rear their young along the banks of the Yarra, Birrarung River.
Humans are also masters of pollution.
Industrial and agricultural activities and urbanisation introduce toxic chemicals such as pesticides, fertilisers, heavy metals, and plastics into our waterways.
Unfortunately, these pollutants contaminate the platypusÕs vital food sources, leading to long-term health problems and reproductive complications.
Chemical contaminants can accumulate in their bodies, compromising their immune systems and can result in untimely deaths.
The ingestion of plastic debris, mistaken for food, poses a severe risk, causing blockages in their digestive systems and leaving them vulnerable to starvation.
In the ever-changing landscape along the Yarra, Birrarung River, our platypus companions also face a heartbreaking loss of their precious homes.
Deforestation, land clearing, and rapid urban development encroach upon their habitats, leaving fewer places for them to forage, nest, and raise their young.
The loss of vegetation along the riverbanks exacerbates the situation, contributing to increased water temperature, bank erosion, and instability.
This combination threatens their survival, as the platypus population becomes fragmented, and their genetic diversity diminishes.
The encroachment of human activities takes a toll, leaving these remarkable creatures vulnerable to environmental changes and the outbreak of diseases within the heart of the Yarra, Birrarung River.
And on top of everything else, there is climate change.
Rising temperatures and erratic rainfall patterns disrupt the delicate equilibrium of their habitat.
Heatwaves and altered weather patterns make it difficult for platypuses to regulate their body temperature, leading to stress and reduced reproductive success.
Extreme weather events like droughts and floods wreak havoc on their homes, washing away nesting burrows and leaving individuals displaced.
These environmental disruptions pose immense challenges to the platypus population, straining their ability to adapt and survive amidst the changing climate along the Yarra, Birrarung.
So, despite all these threats, how can we help?
Reduce pollution by properly disposing of waste.
Participate in local clean-up events to remove litter and plastics from the river.
Follow fishing regulations, use barbless hooks, and release non-target species promptly.
Join local conservation groups such as the Friends of Warrandyte State Park, volunteer for platypus monitoring programs, and contribute to fundraising efforts of organisations that protect our waterways.
Advocate for urgent action on climate change.
Maintain healthy riverbanks by minimising disturbance and avoiding activities that contribute to erosion along the river corridor.
Spread the word about the importance of platypus conservation within the community.
By actively engaging in these actions, we can all contribute to the long-term conservation of the platypus in the Yarra, Birrarung River and ensure their survival for future generations.
Charlotte Sterrett is a member of WarrandyteCAN a local climate change action group that campaigns for positive changes to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Find WarrandyteCAN on Facebook for more information

Birrarung stories: Jindi Worobak: Healing through ceremony

IN THE mid-1980s, I decided to try and understand the concept of The Dreaming as closely as possible.
Academic publications proved to be of little help, as they tended to be detached, esoteric ramblings about the term’s etymology.
However, this did show that there were deeper layers of meaning implied.
This was then reinforced by some tribal people I spoke with, who assured me that the term “The Dreaming” was, in fact, “just right”.
So, I decided to read every Dreamtime creation story I could find, and in doing so, a deeper pattern to the stories soon became apparent.
All these primary creation stories began in an empty darkness in which the Spirit of All Life began to Dream, and the first Dreaming was of Fire.
My first thought was: “Wow, this is the Big Bang; only the universe is being imagined into place by a Supreme Being”.
These creation stories then all told how after Dreaming of fire, wind, rain, earth and sky, land and sea, the Spirit of All Life grew tired but wanted the Dream to continue.
So, life was sent into the Dream to make it real, and each Creator Spirit was given a piece of the Dreaming jigsaw to guide their actions.
Then, when they had finished their work, the Creator Spirits each surrendered their Dreaming to become the landmarks and animals we see today.
Finally, the only remaining creature with consciousness and knowledge of The Dreaming plan was mankind.
So, it is the job of mankind to protect The Dreaming by caring for the Land.
However, we cannot do this as individuals; we need to do it in ritual association with each other and pass on the Dreaming Secrets to the next generation to prepare them for their responsibilities.
In a very real way, traditional Aboriginal thought systems hold that human perception and human ritual are important elements in defining reality.
We are still connected to the original Dreaming through our own Personal Dreaming, and just like the Spirit of All Life imagined the world, human consciousness and ritual hold reality in place.
Aboriginal people were the first post-modern thinkers. In this vein, many Aboriginal people have, over the years, expressed to me the idea that there is a ritual answer to every problem.
This idea is well illustrated in traditional culture, specifically in how inter-tribal disputes were prevented from spiralling out of control.
For instance, if the traditional “payback” system continued to escalate and aggravate tensions between two tribes, the respective Elders from the tribes would meet and agree on a ritual resolution.
This was known in some languages as “Jindi Worobak”, which means “Come together after a dispute”.
The ceremony agreed on might or might not include a time-limited ceremonial fight between the tribes, but it would undoubtedly include ceremonial healing and cultural exchanges.
This included speeches, ritual smoking, dance performances, and games.
The point was that after the ceremonial resolution, all further payback was strictly forbidden, and any breach was subject to immediate and drastic punishment by your own tribe.
The point I am leading to is, why not adopt the Jindi Worobak approach and create a special ceremonial event where all Australians could “Come together after a dispute” and make it a National Day of Healing? Such a day might, for instance, start with a Sorry Time speech by an Aboriginal Elder, highlighting the historical issues behind the dispute.
This could then be followed by a traditional Aboriginal Smoking Ceremony in which all attendees would, in turn, ritually cleanse themselves by bathing in the smoke.
After this, there could then be cultural exchanges, in which, for instance, various ethnic groups within the community could perform and teach their traditional dances.
Ending such an event with a traditional Australian barbeque would also be entirely appropriate.
The only question remaining would be, what particular date would be the most symbolic, on which to hold a series of ceremonies across the country, where all Australians could come together after a dispute? What date could best serve to recognise our past difficulties, and become a new day of national healing, when we could all move forward together as Australians? Well, I have just had a random thought.
Why not put aside January 26 and celebrate it as Australia’s Jindi Worobak Day? Local Councils around Australia could even lead the way.
Councils are uniquely well-placed to coordinate the contributions of local Aboriginal and ethnic groups.
They are also best placed to include a Citizenship Ceremony as part of a National Day of Unity.
As my Aboriginal friends have always said, there is a ritual answer to every problem.
|So, if Australia Day is a problem, why not make it the answer?

Jim Poulter is a local history author.
His articles are freely available through Reconciliation Manningham; find them on Facebook for more information.

Hope — the greatest motivator

ONE OF THE first things I do when I start with a new client is search for a sense of hope in them.
It doesn’t matter whether they present with anxiety, depression, lack of friendships, school problems, or family issues.
If I can find what they are hopeful about, even if it is buried down very deep, we can engage their motivation for change.
We find a preferred vision of their life and start making purposeful steps towards it together.
But what is hope?
Some people think it’s just a feel-good emotion.
Like watching a romcom that is all about Hollywood’s expectations of love.
I mean, how many people really do “that run” to the airport to stop their great love from flying away in the real world?
Hope is so much more than that.
Hope is a feeling of anticipation and craving for a particular outcome.
It’s not all unicorns and rainbows, but positively pragmatic and rooted in the reality of what is possible.
That is what makes it so powerful as a motivator.
It pushes us to understand and clear obstacles, channel energy into learning, and use the approaching goal to fuel more hope and confidence.
It’s a self-generating positive energy source for change and growth.
Research shows us that hope has many positive benefits in our lives.
People with higher levels of hope have better health behaviours, physical health, less chronic disease and live longer.
The mental health and well-being aspects are evident in lower levels of anxiety and depression, less stress, better social support, and more resilience.
Studies have shown that hope was a better predictor of academic achievement than IQ and athletic success than training and confidence.
In other words, it’s the holy grail of mindsets to have.
It has been suggested that those with higher hope are more likely to set learning goals that promote personal growth and change.
Those without hope are more likely to set mastery goals that aren’t particularly challenging and give up if they hit obstacles very early.
This continues their feedback loop that having hope is pointless because they “succeed” anyway.
In being hopeful, we look for solutions to the obstacles rather than just focusing on the obstacles.
Hope is flagging for a lot of our young people right now.
If we remember that hope is pragmatic and rooted in the real world, let’s look at the types of evidence they see around them.
They will inherit climate change but currently have little power over the decisions currently being made.
Overall living costs, which we are all constantly talking about, including housing prices, make it seem like having their own house when they grow up is impossible.
The pandemic that took such a vast toll on their lives and development and the notion it could happen again, the war in Ukraine, and rising Russian threats to the West.
Bringing it closer to home, how many young people struggle with school or university because of remote learning?
How many young peoples’ grades took a nosedive?
How many young people’s social groups or families struggled over the past few years?
This is all viewed as evidence that the world has become increasingly unpredictable and frightening and their place in it cannot be relied on.
Whether it comes from us or others, doubt can also eat away at the foundation of hope.
For our young people, parents, teachers, coaches, grandparents, other extended family members, or family friends can intentionally or accidentally plant the seeds of doubt.
I’m sure all of us can remember when an adult said something that planted doubt about what we could achieve and, what it did to us, how it felt.
It literally can take the wind motivation from our sails.
It doesn’t mean we tell every young person they can be an astronaut or Prime Minister.
But, it does mean we role model and teach them how to problem solve obstacles, hopefully for things that are important to them.
We need to show them hope in action where we can.
Whether that is taking a risk in looking at a promotion for yourself or trying out that new exercise regime to deal with a health problem.
We can discuss our hopes and dreams with them and actively determine courses of action to get us there.
When given the chance, our young people want to help us achieve our hopes the same way we do for them, and many are incredibly smart at coming at things from angles we would never see for ourselves.
They can also be quite blunt in calling us out on our BS.
Equally, we want to help them identify and maintain their hopes for themselves.
This might be pointing out evidence of what they have achieved to date, when we saw them overcome previous obstacles, that we believe the doubting voice in their heads isn’t accurate.
Hope is the best motivator there is for our young people.
Have a good think about what you are hopeful for and make time to talk to your young person about their hopes and dreams.
Until next time folks!

Natalie Rinehart (B.A.Sci (Psych); Grad.Dip.App.Psych)
Young Person & Family Counsellor/Life Coach, Author
0425 735 106

Wurundjeri, Woi Wurrung: What’s in a name?

THE HUMAN SENSE of identity and belonging is multi-layered.
At an immediate level, we can identify our belonging to a family, a locality, and a community.
From there, it broadens to a matrix of various communities of interest, such as your membership of a profession, sports club, recreational pursuit, or religious affiliation.
At increasingly broader levels, we can identify as belonging to a region, a state, a nation and a particular cultural heritage.
Within these various layers of personal and group identity, there are often also competitive elements.
For instance, your best friend at work may barrack for a rival football team, and this might then involve some friendly banter and mock mutual derision.
The point, though, is that in-group and out-group psychology does not necessarily lead to deep alienation and antagonism between individuals or groups, even though, of course, it sometimes does.
Traditional Aboriginal society was no different in that there were many overlapping layers of personal and group identity.
These successively involved your family and totemic relationships, a shared geographic water catchment area, a language group of several catchment areas, and then an even broader federation of adjacent language groups.
However, just like Victorians might refer to West Australians as “Sand Gropers”, Queenslanders as “Banana Benders” and South Australians as “Crow Eaters”, so too did Aboriginal people have derisory nicknames for other Mobs.
This was clearly demonstrated in the early colonial period in Sydney when an Elder named Mahroot was asked what was the name of the people at Liverpool.
His reply was “Cobrakalls, same as you call the French people”.
As Cobra was the Aboriginal name for a foul-smelling mollusc that the Liverpool people ate and regarded as a delicacy, he was, of course, saying that they were snail-eaters.
More than that, though, he was probably implying that the Liverpool Mob were known as “Bad Breath People”.
Jimmy Dawson, who settled at Warrandyte in 1840 and then moved to the Western District in 1844, had a similar experience.
In recording the names of various languages in the Western District, he was told various nicknames that meant things like “Drawlers”, “Bleeding Lip”, and “Seaweed Speakers”.
These nicknames have since become institutionalised as the traditional language names in the area, because Jimmy Dawson’s is the only record, and Aboriginal humour was not accounted for in accepting the names.
There are many other instances across Australia of joke names being mistakenly adopted as traditional Aboriginal names, but I can give a couple of pertinent examples closer to home.
The Dandenong Valley catchment area of the Dandenong Creek, Cardinia Creek, and Bunyip River from Bayswater down to Kooweerup, was occupied by a Woi Wurrung clan, the Ngaruk Willam Balluk.
In context, Ngaruk refers the rocky southern slopes of the Dandenong Mountains down to Westernport Bay, whilst Willam-Balluk means “home country of these people”.
However, they were colloquially referred to by others as the Balluk-Willam and this changes the meaning to “Swamp People” or even more accurately, “Bog Dwellers”.
A very apt name for that area.
As can be seen from the preceding example, Aboriginal tribes very often take their name from the major river of their area.
The proper name for the Yarra is Birrarung, so the locals referred to themselves as the “Birrarung-Willam-Balluk”, but were commonly known by their language of Woi Wurrung.
To the surrounding tribes, however, just like the snail-eaters anecdote, the Birrarung people of the Woi Wurrung were given a nickname by their neighbours that reflected their dietary habits.
This nickname was Wurundjeri, which means “Witchetty Grub Eaters”.
However, in 1835, Batman’s surveyor John Helder Wedge, mistakenly thought that the name of the Melbourne river was “Yarra”.
The local Birrarung people therefore, quickly adapted to the Whitefella change and began referring to themselves as the “Yarra Tribe”.
This situation is tacitly confirmed by the Aboriginal Protector William Thomas, who kept a daily diary from when he started in 1839 to when he died in 1867.
In his diary, he makes about 400 references to the Woi Wurrung people but not one single reference to the name Wurundjeri.
However, just before his death in 1867, he drew a map of the Yarra Valley and Westernport area in which he marks Coranderrk, the Aboriginal Reserve, which had been established in 1863.
So, the map was obviously made at some time in the four years after that.
Then, across the map of the Yarra Valley area, he superimposed the words “Wurundjeri of the Woi Wurrung”, thereby clearly showing that the name Wurundjeri had only gained some currency after 1863.
The inescapable conclusion is that when Coranderrk was established in 1863, the non-locals there continued to refer to the locals by their nickname of Wurundjeri, and the locals simply got used to it.
The net result is that nowadays, we all routinely refer to the Wurundjeri as the traditional owners when originally it was just their nickname.

Jim Poulter is a local historian and a member of Reconciliation Manningham.
Find out more at:

Image: Merri Creek,Plenty Ranges, Charles Troedel NGV

Proposed changes to working-from-home deductions

MANY OF YOU will now be accustomed to claiming expenses incurred whilst working from home (WFH), a lot of this largely due to the lockdown measures put in place during the early years of the pandemic.
With much of the workforce WFH, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) instigated an $0.80 per work hour “shortcut method” for claiming home expenses from March 1, 2020, to June 30, 2022.
The shortcut method has been very popular, as the expenses included could be claimed based on the production of a timesheet or work diary — much simpler than the Fixed Rate Method or Actual Cost Method.

New guidelines in development

The ATO is in the final stages of updating the methods available to claim WFH expenses for the 2022/23 tax year and beyond.
The Claiming a deduction for additional running expenses incurred while working from home — ATO compliance approach PCG 2022/D4 document is a good indicator of what taxpayers looking to claim WFH expenses in the 2022/23 financial year can expect.
I have reproduced key points from this document; these new guidelines will likely take effect from July 1, 2022.
The draft guidelines indicate that from July 1, 2022, the $0.80 method and its predecessor, the $0.52 per hour rate, will no longer be available and will be replaced with the Revised Fixed Rate of $0.67 per hour.
The ATO will allow taxpayers to continue to claim their actual expenses or use the Revised Fixed Rate Method, as explained below:

  • You do not need to have a separate home office or dedicated work area set aside in your home in order to rely on the information in this guideline.
  • If more than one taxpayer in your household is working from home at the same time, each taxpayer will be able to rely on the guideline provided that each taxpayer meets the requirements for deductibility.
  • Taxpayers working in the same household at the same time can choose to use either the revised fixed rate or actual expenses method.
  • If you do not use the revised fixed rate method, you will need to use the actual expenses method.
  • The information should be interpreted to be in effect from July 1, 2022

The Revised Fixed Rate Method covers the following additional running expenses you incur on a fair and reasonable basis by using the revised fixed rate of $0.67 per hour worked from home.

  • Energy expenses (electricity or gas) for lighting, heating/cooling and electronic items used while working from home.
  • Internet expenses
  • Mobile and/or home phone telephone expenses, and
  • Stationery and computer consumables

To calculate your total deduction for running expenses using the Revised Fixed Rate Method you:

  1. a) Calculate the number of hours you worked from home during the income year based on your records.

For only the 2022/23 income year, you need to keep:

  • A record representative of the total number of hours worked from home from July 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022.
  • A record of the total number of actual hours you worked from home for the period January 1, 2023, to June 30, 2023.

Note, for 2023/24, and later years, you must keep a record for the entire income year of the actual number of hours you worked from home during that income year.

  1. b) Multiply the total number of hours you worked from home during the income year by 67c per hour.
  2. c) Calculate the work-related decline in the value of any depreciating assets that you used to work from home during the income year and any other running expenses incurred and not accounted for in the 67c per hour rate.
  3. d) Add the amounts calculated from b) and c) above, and this total will be the amount you claim as your deduction for working from home at D5 in your Work Related Expenses Schedule of your tax return.

Further information can be obtained from the Draft Practical Compliance Guideline PCG 2022/D4; it can be found on the ATO website or by entering the above title into your search engine.
Note that the document is still in its draft form but is indicative of what will be legislated; please check the ATO website or ask your financial advisor for details when it reaches its final form.

The content of this article is not intended to be relied upon as professional advice and should not be used as such.
If you have any questions, you should consult a registered tax agent.
Brian Spurrell B A, B Com, Dip Ed, FCPA,  Registered Tax Agent.
Director, Personalised Taxation & Accounting Services Pty Ltd
PO Box 143 Warrandyte 3113
0412 011 946

Preparing for the worst: top five estate planning mistakes

THE BEST WAY to take care of your family and loved ones in the event that you are no longer here is by putting in place a comprehensive Estate Plan.
The documents that comprise your Estate Plan must be well drafted to ensure that your wishes and intentions are clear so that everything happens the way you would like it to happen upon your death.
If your estate planning documents, such as your Will, are incomplete or ambiguous, it may result in people that you do not wish to receive your assets receiving them, or prospectively a claim being brought against your estate, which would be both costly and time-consuming.
Let’s look at the five most common mistakes to avoid when putting your estate plan in place.

Putting in place a DIY Will

If you are inclined to use a “do it yourself (DIY) Will kit” or personally prepare your own Will to save money, be warned that it may often cost your estate money after you die.
DIY Wills are often ambiguous, and your wishes and intentions may not be clearly defined, and at worst, your Will could be deemed invalid.
A high level of care is required to make your Will a legally binding document, and your Will and other estate planning documents should be put in place by an estate planning lawyer, who will be able to provide you with the appropriate legal advice in respect to your circumstances and ensure that you have a comprehensive, well-documented estate plan in place that is reflective of your wishes.

Poor choice of Executor

In appointing someone as an Executor of your Will, you give them the keys to everything you own and control.
That’s big.
You, therefore, need to appoint someone that you trust implicitly to undertake this role.
Appointing someone who resides overseas as your Executor can present challenges, as can appointing an elderly parent in some instances.
Often people elect to appoint two executors jointly, and if you are inclined to do so, I would encourage you to think of the following:
Do they know each other?
Will they work together as joint Executors of your Will?
Is there any conflict between them?
Will they focus on your wishes and the best interest of the beneficiaries?
Essentially, when appointing an Executor, you select the person you trust the most.

Gifting assets that you do not own

In putting your estate plan in place, it is important to understand what assets you own individually and what assets you control.
Many people fail to understand that you cannot gift joint assets, trust assets, or company or partnership assets in your Will.
You may only gift assets if you personally own them.
Joint assets, such as a joint bank account or a property owned jointly with another person, cannot be gifted as such assets will automatically pass to the surviving joint owner.
Concerning your superannuation, most superannuation funds allow you to nominate a beneficiary by putting in place a binding death benefit nomination, directing where you would like your superannuation to be paid at the time of your death.

Not putting the Power of Attorney documents in place

Putting in place a Power of Attorney document allows you to appoint someone to make financial, legal, guardianship and medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and can no longer make your own decisions.
If you do not put this document in place, someone may be appointed as your guardian and administrator to make these decisions on your behalf, and they may not be the person you would have chosen to make these important decisions.
It is, therefore, imperative that the Power of Attorneys are an integral part of an estate plan.

Failing to update or review your estate plan

Life changes.
An estate plan you put in place 30 years ago is unlikely to be relevant today.
If you don’t review your estate plan regularly to accommodate your changing circumstances, you may leave yourself and your beneficiaries exposed.
By regularly reviewing your estate plan, you will be identifying any major life events and the need to update your Will to ensure that it is current and reflects your wishes.
The content of this column is not intended as a substitute for seeking professional advice.

If you need the services of a legal professional for any content covered in this column, consult the relevant professional.
Melisa Sloan is an Estate Planning Lawyer based in Park Orchards; find out more about her business at

Making a bee-friendly garden

I HAVE ALWAYS had a love of bees.
My dear old dad used to call me “Bees Knees”, I assume because I had skinny legs and knobbly knees – but maybe because he thought I was.
Bee emblems, embossing, and art are scattered around my home.
My absolute favourite bee is the good old English Bumble Bee.
I have beautiful memories of them in the gardens of Giverny and Versailles on trips.
Giant, slow-moving bumble bees that bounce off you if they run into you. Home in Warrandyte, we have our beautiful Blue-banded Bee.
I had always wanted to learn beekeeping and wear the groovy gear, but of course, time was always short, and it always seemed such a huge endeavour.
I contacted the Victorian Apiarist Society and tracked down a local beekeeper who would come and set up his hives on my acreage and maintain them for me.
I get the gorgeous bee chit-chat from my “Dietmar” and jars of honey from my bees.
I thought that when Dietmar came to assess my property, I would be able to prettily point over there to a pretty spot in the garden for the hives to look pretty, but no.
The hive position decision on the property was a long and complicated process based on wind, flowering gums and shrubs, and access to water.
So, the hives are in a position that is not “pretty” and not somewhere I would have chosen at all, but the bees are happy and content and very industrious and produce beautiful Yellow Box honey.
Now I try to fill my garden with as many varied flowering shrubs as possible, so I always have something flowering at all times of the year.
Water is always a concern for them, especially over the summer months, and I often sit for an hour just watching the coming and going of the bees from flower to flower and from water bowl to water bowl.
Four hives in winter, two in summer. If you don’t have time or room or are wary of bees in general, you can get some great bee hotels that will encourage native bees into the garden.
Kids will love being involved in setting your hotel in position.
Not only do the bees love all the shrubs I am planting (currently, they love the salvias, camellias and the Erysimum or native wallflowers), but they also love herbs.
Herbs are a great addition to the garden, intermingled with other trees and shrubs, in the vegetable garden, in pots or even in cane baskets (which you should never throw away).
They will eventually rot down, but they look beautiful, planted with herbs or bulbs.
I currently have big cane washing baskets full of daffodils, and I will soon plant the bearded irises.
No rest for the wicked.
Most herbs need a good supply of sunshine, and often in the right area in the garden, they will tend to grow like weeds.
If you don’t cut off the seed heads, you will find new ones popping up to replace the old ones.
And the bees won’t want you to deadhead them either.
If you feel the need to deadhead, only deadhead half of them. I have borage popping up everywhere at the moment.
Beautiful pale blue flowers will soon appear, though I just have the serrated fuzzy borage leaves at the moment.
Bees love borage, and so do I.
I have pink borage seeds to sow soon – something new I picked up somewhere, or did someone gift them to me?
Basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, lavender, coriander, chives, lemon balm, and mint. Bees love them all; so plant them all.
They even love onion weed, dandelions, thistles and nettles, so there is always a reason for you to have a couple of weedy plants somewhere in the garden.
“Oh, they are for the bees”, not “I can’t keep on top of the weeding”.
Most plants that flower are brilliant for pollinators.
Grasses, flaxes, and foliage plants are brilliant in the garden but make sure that you add plenty of flowering shrubs for the bees.
My grevilleas at the moment are a smorgasbord for bees and birds.
They are alive with activity.
Also, if you have bees or are trying to attract them to your garden, try only using natural methods for pest eradication.
There are plenty of natural products and recipes online to get rid of caterpillars and aphids from the garden, but sometimes you just need to pop on some gardening gloves and pluck them off.
It is quite therapeutic.
If you do this and you have chickens, you will be the most popular person in the hen house, as the chooks will love their little insect treats.
My go-to cheap aphid spray is a squirt bottle with a teaspoon full of crushed garlic (I buy the cheap no-name jar of it), a squirt of dishwashing detergent and fill to the top with water.
Give it a good shake, strain and then pop it back into the bottle.
Spray on the roses in particular.
It seems to work for me.
It is meant to deter possums too.
Also, I was looking online and found that you can buy boxes of ladybirds to combat the aphid problems in your garden.
What a gorgeous gift for someone.
There are four common garden species of ladybird in Australia.
The common spotted ladybird is bright orange with black dots on its back.
They are a predator of aphids, scale insects and mites.
An adult ladybird can eat up to 2,500 aphids during their lifetime.
The fungus-eating ladybird has very bold black and yellow colouration.
Both adults and larvae feed on mildew fungus, a common problem in gardens in September.
Have a gorgeous September in the garden. Plant up herbs, and throw around seeds with gay abandon.
Enjoy the first days of spring.
Bee Happy.

The environment as a living entity


THE CONCEPT of the Dreaming is a little bit difficult to understand for people brought up in a culture believing in objective science.
The Dreaming puts that reality was originally forged in an act of imagination by the Spirit of All Life.
To make the dream objectively real, life was then sent into the Dream in the form of Creator Spirits who each carried a part of the great Dreaming Plan, like pieces of a giant jigsaw.
The Creator Spirits then completed their part of the giant jigsaw of creation work, and after this they surrendered their Dreaming to become the landmarks and animals we see today in the natural environment.
According to Aboriginal religious belief, mankind is therefore now the only being that has retained consciousness and free will, and so is charged with sole care of the real world.
The Spirit of All Life, or Wandjina, therefore now rests in the land and although watching and listening, plays no further part in the unfolding of human affairs.
Aboriginal people therefore believed in a non-interventionist Supreme Being.
So, Wandjina is always depicted with eyes but no mouth.
This is because God sees everything, but says nothing.
The idea of God resting in the land and leaving everything in human hands, very strongly conveys the Aboriginal belief in the sacredness of the land, and that human beings are solely responsible for its care.
To reinforce this notion of the sacredness of the environment, Aboriginal people have a belief in a complex spirit world that surrounds us.
Anything with a form or shape, even inert objects, is regarded as having an essential being and Dreaming of its own that must be respected by human beings.
Although this idea may seem simple, it has complex ramifications.
A tree has a spirit, the copse that the tree belongs within has a spirit and the forest to which all the copses belong also has its own spirit.
A rock has a spirit, a rocky outcrop has a spirit and the whole hill has a spirit.
A river has a spirit, each area of the river and each creek leading to the river all have their own Tikalara or “Spirit of Place”.
We are therefore surrounded by a complex, overlapping spirit world.
Anything created also gains a spirit.
If a bird makes a nest, the nest gains a spirit.
If a person makes a digging stick, a spear or a shield, these all gain their own spirit.
When it is all boiled down though, the belief in a complex multi-layered, overlapping spirit world is simply a device by which respect for the environment is guaranteed.
As an illustration of this I was many years ago walking in Framlingham Forest with the iconic Elder Banjo Clarke and his young grandson, who was carrying a stick.
The grandson dragged his stick along the ground and was softly admonished by Banjo to never make a mark on the ground unless it was for a reason.
Disappointingly, the Aboriginal belief in a pervasive surrounding spirit world has often been dismissed as just ‘Animism’.
This is a category reserved for supposedly fallacious pagan beliefs that inanimate objects can and do have a soul.
There was a great love by Europeans following the period of Enlightenment, of creating taxonomies or hierarchies that placed Western thought systems at the top and Aboriginal thought systems at the bottom. Unfortunately, the power of these ideas still exists today.
At the time Australia was colonised in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, Christian views of the day could not countenance the idea of anything other than human beings possessing a soul.
Such dismissive views clearly show an ingrained unwillingness to understand how belief in a complex spirit world could actually be part of a coherent broader set of religious ideas.
Or that it could be compatible with belief in a Supreme Being.
It certainly wasn’t compatible with the Christian idea of an interventionist God.
In reality, the belief in a complex surrounding spirit world is not so far from our mainstream life experiences today.
Our differential use of the words ‘house’ and ‘home’ gives some clue to this.
We build a house, but when we move in it gains a spirit and become our home.
As individuals, we each demonstrably have our own spirit, but when we band together with others for a mutual purpose, we then gain a team spirit and a common identity.
We will often sit in a quiet park and feel the spirit of the place.
We will stand on top of a mountain or look down a majestic valley in quiet wonderment of the power and beauty of what we see.
Just imagine what it was like to be an Aboriginal person seeing the wonders and embedded stories of your Country every single day.
Not just seeing these creation wonders each day, but also knowing that you were responsible for protecting it and maintaining its Dreaming Secrets.

Image: Untitied (wandjina) attributed to Jack Karedada
Work photographed at National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Warrandyte Primary launches Reconciliation Action Plan

STUDENTS AND TEACHERS at Warrandyte Primary School were excited to officially launch their Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) this
The school community has been privileged throughout term two to work alongside Aboriginal Elder Arbup Peters and Kira Peters, who
both work for the Victorian Education Department.
Kira is the local Koorie Engagement Support Officer (KESO), as well as being a primary school teacher herself.
During a whole school assembly, Arbup welcomed everyone to country with a traditional Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung welcome.
He explained how important the welcome is to the Traditional Owners, as they welcome people to their land.
Parent Dione and ex-student Zara Veal attended and spoke during the assembly.
They were both involved in initiating the school’s RAP, which began three years ago when a Grade 5 student wanted to start the process of formally recognising the school’s plans and vision for reconciliation.
Students from the Junior School Council talked about the importance of reconciliation, acknowledging wrongdoing from the past and moving forward to create and develop positive relationships.
They explained how important it is to understand the role Traditional Owners have always had in looking after Country and their special
relationship with the land.
Performances by students of a song entitled Wominjeka, meaning “welcome”, and Kutju Australia, the National Anthem in Luritja, a language of First Nations People from the Northern Territory, was enjoyed by all.
Another visitor was Aunty Loraine, a Taungurung Elder who has written a book entitled Bijil Ba Wudhi Deberra, or Bijil and the Moths.
The story tells of a family going to the High Country during summer, trapping and roasting Bogong moths to eat.
The people used the stars to tell them when to go and Songlines to give directions, singing instructions as they travelled.
Aunty Loraine talked about some of her work developing language resources and preserving Aboriginal languages for present and future
One of the highlights for many attending was the performance by the world-renowned didgeridoo musician, Ganga Giri.
Ganga is a rhythmic didgeridoo virtuoso and percussionist, originally from Tasmania, whose passion and infectious energy had everyone joining in with animal actions and clapping rhythms.
Principal Nieta Manser concluded the assembly by saying how proud she is to be a part of this, especially to be present, as this was the first time we raised all three flags on our new flagpoles; Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and Australian.
Scan the QR codes (right) to view Arbup’s moving Welcome to Country
and the Raising of the Three Flags and Dione and Zara’s speech on WPS’s commitment to Reconciliation.

Warrandyte local produces first book in Taungurung and English

Aunty Loraine with Matt Burns, CEO of the Taungurung Land and Waters Council

LORAINE PADGHAM, a long time Warrandyte local, has written a children’s book in the Taungurung
language, with English translation.
The Taungurung people, of which Loraine is a member, live on and care for the land in central Victoria.
Their territory commences at the Great Dividing Range and encompasses the land on which the towns of Yea, Alexandra, Mansfield,
Kilmore and Broadford now stand.
Bijil Ba Wudhi Deberra (Bijil and the Moths) tells the story of a young Taungurung boy who accompanies his parents on their annual adventurous trip to the high plains in summer to participate in cultural activities, renew friendships with other clan members and to harvest Bogong moths.
The book had its first public reading at Warrandyte Primary School as part of their activities recognising and celebrating Aboriginal culture, where it was received with great interest from the children present.
The book includes a QR code that enables the reader to listen to the story read in Taungurung.
Copies of the book can be purchased from the Taungurung website,

The Screen Wars: How to stop it tearing your family apart

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

Image: Pixabay

Time to prepare for tax time in 2022 —Part 2

LAST MONTH this column explained the importance of getting your deductible expenditure records in order, to ensure you maximise your work-related deductions.
It focused on the two options available for claiming work-related motor vehicle expenses.
This month’s column will explain the three alternative methods for claiming home office expenses at label D5 in your tax return.
During the 21/22 financial year, many of you would have been required to or would have elected to work from home and most likely incurred significant additional expenses.
You may have received financial support either by reimbursement of specified costs such as Zoom software or computer/office equipment or by way of a specified allowance.
Employer reimbursements for out of pocket home office expenses are neither treated as assessable income or the expenses claimable as allowable deductions.
The provision of an employee working from home allowance will appear on your income statement provided by your employer or available from your ATO myTax account.
This allowance is taxable income and must be disclosed in your tax return in the salary or wages section in the box labelled Allowances.

Alternative options for claiming working from home expenses

To offset the tax on your allowance, you will need to claim deductions at D5 for the actual costs you have incurred; three methods for doing this have been outlined below.

a: The temporary COVID hourly rate of 80 cents per hour method.
This simple method requires minimal record-keeping and applies from March 1, 2020, to June 30, 2022, and I expect it will be extended to June 30, 2023.
If you elect to use this method, enter “COVID hourly rate” in the Description box — the letter H in the expense type box — and enter 100 in the business per cent box.
You should also indicate how you derived the number of hours worked in the space provided.
The 80 cents rate per hour covers all costs associated with working from home, including heating and cooling, electricity, cleaning, mobile phone, internet, computer consumables, and office furniture and equipment depreciation.
You cannot claim separately any other costs of working from home.
Apart from simplicity, the other advantages of this method are:

  • You don’t need to have a separate or dedicated area of the home set aside for working as a private study.
  • If the household has more than one resident working from home, they can also claim under this method.
  • The only records required to be kept are time records such as diary records, timesheets, rosters, or any employer documents setting out required working hours and dates you commenced and ceased working from home.

b: The 52 cents per hour rate plus expenditures not included in the hourly rate method.
This alternative method prevailed prior to March 1, 2020, and is still available and may be preferred when significant costs are incurred that are not fully recovered by the 80 cents hourly rate method.
Home office expenses covered in the 52 cents hourly rate are running costs, including electricity and gas and depreciation of office furniture.
Other costs that may be claimed separately include office stationery and supplies, telephone and internet, and depreciation of office equipment such as computers, printers, scanners et cetera.
However, a disadvantage of this method is that you will need to apportion the costs not covered in the 52 cents rate between work-related usage and private usage.
For guidance on acceptable methods for apportioning phone, computer and internet expenses, go to the ATO website and search for document QC 46119.
This method is often favoured because it avoids the need to record and apportion gas and electricity and may regain popularity again once the 80 cents COVID hourly rate ceases to be available.

c: The actual expenses method.
The equation:
(Expense x percentage of floor area) x percentage of weeks the area used for work
This method may be used as an alternative to claiming 52 cents per hour for running expenses such as lighting, heating, cooling, and cleaning.
You will need to work out the floor area of the part of your home that is used exclusively for work purposes and calculate that as a percentage of the total floor area.
Next, work out the percentage of the year you have used your dedicated work area or study for work-related purposes — after allowing for days in the year the work area was not utilised due to weekends, holidays, or illness — and then apply the reduced percentage to the amount of each of the above running costs.

Annual electricity cost is $5,600, the study area as a proportion of total floor area is 12 per cent.
Total weeks the study was used (in the financial year) for work purposes after allowing for four weeks of holidays and one week for illness is 47 out of 52 weeks which is 90 per cent.
Therefore, the deductible portion of the annual electricity bill claimed would be:
(5600 x .12) x .90 = $605.

Choosing a method

Suppose you cannot quantify your deductible home office expenses using either the 52 cents per hour method (method b) or the actual expenses method (method c).
In that case, I suggest you use the 80 cents method (method a), but make sure you can demonstrate how you arrived at the number of hours you worked at home.
If you have significant running costs but have insufficient expenditure records, you may prefer to use method b.
However, you will still need to work out the deductible portion of all other home office costs.
If you elect for method c, you must have records to show how you have calculated the work-related portion and have evidence of the costs incurred.
Claiming home office expenses is one area of your tax return where diligence on your part in retaining records and using the method that gives you the highest deduction may be well worth the effort.

The content of this article is not intended to be relied upon as professional advice and should not be used as such.
If you have any questions, you should consult a registered tax agent.
Brian Spurrell B A, B Com, Dip Ed, FCPA, CTA, Registered Tax Agent.
Director, Personalised Taxation & Accounting Services Pty Ltd
PO Box 143 Warrandyte 3113 Ph: 0412 011 946

Conscious breathing: what is it and how to optimise the benefits


Photo: Rubin Utama
Facilitator Bryden McGregor

BREATHING IS something we unconsciously do every single day, however when done correctly and consciously, there’s some incredible power to breathing.
Roughly eight years ago, when I was first fully immersed in the health and wellness space, I came across breathwork through a facilitator who just returned to Melbourne after teaching for some time in Germany.
It was the newest health fad across Europe and seemed somewhat straightforward, however, I soon realised that this underrated practice had some incredible and transformative benefits.
Practising conscious breath also made people so empowered when they recognised that breath is so readily accessible.
It can be done anywhere and at any time.
Before I started practising breathwork and mindful breathing, I really had no idea just how shallow my breath was.
As I became more consistent in my practice, I realised that I was only going as far as my chest, and when I became stressed or anxious the shallow breathing was only making those feelings worse.
While the body is a complete masterpiece, there are ways and tactics to better harness the breath for holistic benefits.
Firstly, breathing into the nose brings a purification and detoxification process that happens as the air passes through the nostrils and towards the lungs.
The nostrils filter, warm, and humidify the air in a way that the mouth cannot.
At times, breathing through your mouth is necessary (increased physical activity, sinus issues), but consciously breathing through your nose will purify the air especially in very dry or cold environments.
It has also been proven that breathing through the nose will increase air flow to arteries, veins and nerves — increasing the overall oxygen update and circulation.
In breathwork, we teach that conscious breath will then move towards your stomach as your diaphragm contracts and the belly expands as your lungs fill with air.
It is a highly efficient way to breathe as it pulls down on the lungs creating negative pressure in the chest, resulting in air flowing into the maximum area of your lungs.
I often prompt the feeling of breathing into your stomach first, before allowing the breath to fill up into the lungs.
For a more mindful approach to your breath, hold this breath for up to eight seconds, allowing the heart rate to slow down.
This will help to calm the nervous system to reduce anxiety and stress, it also helps to put the body into deep relaxation.
On the release of your breath, focus on releasing your stomach first, allowing the exerting breath of carbon dioxide to travel up the body through the lungs, up the air passage, and release the full breath through the mouth.
It is nurturing for the body to also place the left hand on your heart or chest, and your right hand on your stomach.
Feeling the tactile flow of breath throughout your body.
Our breath is synonymous with life.
To be alive is to be breathing, so, when we can intentionally change the way we breathe, we change the way that we respond to life itself — and this can be incredibly powerful.
Whether it’s taking a deep breath to pause and take time out to respond, or to do a few cycles of breathing to ease anxiety, we’re able to change our internal states which leads to change in everything external to us.
Other benefits of breathwork include: deep relaxation, reduction in anxiety and stress, improved sleep, boosted immune system, increased energy, released trauma and trigger patterns, release of stuck emotions held in the body, rebalance of the nervous system, release of blockages of built-up body tension, as well as freedom from limiting beliefs and behaviours.
Remember to breathe.

Laura Roodhouse is the owner of Wellness by PP