Fire season approaching — are you ready?

WITH A WET September seeing Warrandyte’s verdant gardens bursting with growth, compounded by COVID-19 travel restrictions and the closure of green waste facilities, preparing for the upcoming summer is going to be a challenge.

With council tip facilities remaining closed, Manningham Council is developing a way for residents to dispose of green waste in the lead up to the fire season.

Similar to the response following January’s hailstorm, a council spokesperson said that it is planning to roll out skips at strategic locations around the municipality.

Rachelle Quattrocchi, Director City Services told the Diary “Council will provide a series of garden waste disposal days throughout spring and early summer to assist residents in Manningham’s Bushfire Prone Areas to prepare for the summer fire season.”

She said portable skip bins will be provided across several locations in the Bushfire Prone Area over four weekends so residents can dispose of their garden waste and reduce fire hazard fuel loads on their private properties.

“An Eventbrite booking system will be available for residents to pre-book garden waste disposal across several weekends and locations in Manningham,” she said.

The garden waste disposal days will be held on Saturdays and Sundays on the weekends of November, 21–22, 28 –29, and December 5–6, 12–13.

Booking information and skip locations will be communicated to residents in the coming weeks at and will be published in the Warrandyte Diary and WD Bulletin.

Residents in North Warrandyte and Green Wedge areas of Nillumbik Shire, while unable to take their green waste to a transfer may be able to take advantage of the recent change in restrictions.

Under Step 2, sole traders such as garden maintenance are allowed to work, if they are working alone and outside. Although Nillumbik Shire transfer stations are currently closed to the public, the sites are open for commercial use, with a valid work permit.

With those on big blocks concerned about their inability to legally remove cleared vegetation, this — at least — may provide a short-term solution to help reduce the risk of bushfire damaging their property.

For those on properties able to burn off, the window of opportunity is closing, with the fire season having already started this time last year.

The Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook indicates Victoria will have a “normal” fire season in 2020–21, however possible spring rainfall is likely to have an impact on fire potential in the lead up to and over summer.

The outlook, developed by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre with Bureau of Meteorology and relevant state fire and land managers, was released on August 31.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the outlook was an early indication of what Victoria could expect in the summer season and would be updated in November as predictions firm up.

“The severity of fires in the west half of the state will depend on several factors including the amount, location and timing of rain during spring and over summer,” he said.

Fast-running grassfires and fires in dry forests and woodlands are likely by late spring, depending on fire and weather conditions and dryness in grasslands.

“We have to stay home as much as possible at the moment due to COVID-19 restrictions — why not use the time to clean up your property and make a plan on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this summer?” he said.

Across the state, six thousand more burn-offs were registered with the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) between the start of May and the end of August.

CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said it was great news to see so many Victorians doing the right thing.

“More people are spending more time at home at the moment and if that means they are choosing to spend more time to clean up their properties before the bushfire season, that’s a good thing.”

Acting Chief Officer Cook said welcome rain in many parts of Victoria over the winter months meant a slight delay to the start of the fire season compared to recent years when the fire danger period started in early September in East Gippsland.

“The best way to defend your homes is to prepare before the fire danger period begins.

“This includes cleaning up your gardens, your gutters and removing flammable waste from your yards,” Acting Chief Officer Cook said.

“Many property owners dispose of this waste with a burn-off, but we also recommend people consider alternative methods such as mulching, chipping or taking green waste to a transfer station.”

The recent Australian seasonal bushfire outlook identified recent rains have led to a reduced risk of prolonged fire activity throughout spring, although shorter duration fires in grasslands, drier forests and woodlands are still likely to occur across the state.

Mr Cook reminded Victorians that even an average fire season in the state can be a bad one.

“Residents who want to conduct burn-offs on their private properties need to follow some basic rules such as checking the weather conditions, monitoring the wind, and following local council laws and regulations.

“It is important that as well as registering your burn-offs, you notify your neighbours that they may see smoke as false alarms take CFA firefighters away from real emergencies which can be very frustrating for our crews.”

By registering burn-offs, any reports of smoke or fire will be cross-checked with the burn-off register to avoid unnecessary response of fire services.

Landowners can register their burn-off with ESTA by calling 1800 668 511 or emailing

Mr Cook said that when registering a burn-off by phone or email, people would be asked for basic information such as location, date, start and finish times, and what they intend to burn.

“The burn-off line is very easy to use — the operators are friendly, and prompt you by asking the key questions,” he said.

“When conducting burn-offs, remain alert and always have resources on hand to extinguish the fire.

“Check the weather, winds must be light and temperatures low.

“Make sure you have sufficient water on hand at all times and fully extinguish the burn once completed.

“Escaped burn-offs or those not conducted properly will result in you being liable for the consequences.”

Keep your burn-off safe and legal:

Check fire restrictions with your local council and register your burn -off on 1800 668 511.

Check and monitor weather conditions — particularly wind.

To avoid unnecessary calls to emergency services, notify your neighbours beforehand.

Leave a three-metre fire break, free from flammable materials around the burn-off.

Have sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading.

Never leave a burn-off unattended — stay for its entire duration.

If your burn-off gets out of control, call 000 immediately.

“You also need to plan and prepare for your safety so that you, and everyone in your household, know what to do on hot, dry, windy days when fires will start and spread quickly,” said Acting Chief Officer Cook.

For more information about preparing your property, go to


Back in action before bushfire season



THE FIRE DANGER sign at the north end of the bridge has not worked for almost a year.

We were originally told in November last year that Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) were awaiting a part to repair the sign.

In January, we were advised by EMV that the sign could not be repaired safely at its current location due to safety issues with a new overhead high-voltage cable and that EMV were working with Nillumbik Council to determine a new location for the sign.

In May, we were advised that EMV was working closely with Nillumbik Council, the Country Fire Authority and the Department of Transport to identify the most appropriate location for a new Fire Danger Rating sign, and that once agreement has been reached between all parties, it would be relocated.

With the 2020/21 Fire Season only three to four weeks away we decided to follow up progress on this issue with EMV and Nillumbik Council.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp sent us an almost identical response to the one he provided in May, but with a slightly changed first paragraph that reads “EMV is committed to ensuring the Fire Danger Rating sign near the Warrandyte Bridge in North Warrandyte is operational prior to the 2020/21 fire danger period and works to rehabilitate and make the sign operational will commence shortly.”

He then continued to advise that EMV is working closely with Nillumbik Council, the Country Fire Authority and the Department of Transport to identify the most appropriate location for a new Fire Danger Rating sign.

When we queried this further we were advised that works are about to commence on the sign and that it will be repaired and operate again in the same place it is now, until such time as another site can be agreed.

Nillumbik Council has also confirmed that a contractor has been engaged and the sign will be repaired in its current position before the Fire Danger Period commences.

Deer session provides information but no solution

NILLUMBIK COUNCIL hosted a two-hour online webinar Deer Information Session on September 12 to address the continuing problem of wild Sambar deer causing considerable destruction in the shire.

A Council spokesperson has told the Diary “198 people booked a place at the deer webinar, with 270 people tuning in”.

This is a surprisingly high number, particularly as other household members not counted may have been watching as well, and perhaps indicates the seriousness of the deer problem in the Shire.

Kirsten Reedy and Michelle Hanslow from Nillumbik’s environment team provided a wealth of information on the origins, distribution and impacts of the various species of deer, but locals focussed on the Sambar species as being the ones causing most of the destruction in the Warrandyte area.

On hand were representatives from professional and sporting shooters to explain their positions, although none would be drawn on the costs involved or the local requirements for engaging them.

Increasing populations of deer in Nillumbik, in rural and suburban areas, are causing understandable concern for many residents.

These introduced animals are now widely regarded as pests, come into Nillumbik from the north and are heading south into the Warrandyte State Park.

The river is no barrier to them and they will happily swim across it.

The Diary has been following the problems these beasts are causing, and the subject was comprehensively covered by James Poyner in our June edition last year and covered the ongoing dissatisfaction with the State’s Draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy.

Nillumbik Shire Council has recently been successful in receiving two, one-year grants from the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Communities Environment Program to build the capacity of the local community to engage in targeted local area deer control options via delivery of educational programs related to deer management.

This webinar was one of the resulting initiatives; the other is the Collaborative Community Deer Action across Nillumbik project, details of which you can find on the Council website.

The latter project will involve a collaborative approach which might include; field days, workshops, practical demonstrations, citizen science activities, and site inspections.

Our attention was drawn to the Deer Scan website, which can be found at which encourages residents to log deer sightings and has a downloadable app.

Feedback from North Warrandyte residents was that the session was full of good and useful information for those with little knowledge of the problems, but that those who had been battling the problems for a while found little practical advice on how to handle it.

Fencing to exclude deer is very expensive and causes problems to the natural flow of other native fauna particularly kangaroos and wallabies.

One North Warrandyte resident on a two-hectare block had tried to engage sporting shooters but fell foul of getting approval from police and agreement from some neighbours for them to operate on his property.

As he said “It only takes one person in five within earshot of a gun to refuse to agree and you can’t cull them; and in Warrandyte that pretty much means no shooting”.

His approach to professional shooters found that they were expensive, and it was not worth their while to look for one or two deer on a smaller block when they could cull tens of deer at a time on a larger rural farm block.

Another resident on a block over three hectares had engaged a professional shooter at a fee and he had culled four deer.

Certainly, it was clear that Council at this time is happy to provide advice, but not to financially subsidise any culling operations.

Groundhog Day as another truck comes to grief at the bridge

WARRANDYTE bridge was blocked for several hours on Tuesday, September 22, after a semi-trailer rolled on its side at the intersection of Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road and Research-Warrandyte Road.

A police spokesperson at the scene stated that the truck had apparently lost its brakes coming down the steep Research Road hill (Sloans Hill).

The driver tried to turn the speeding vehicle left into Kangaroo Ground Road, resulting in the semi-trailer rolling onto its side.

The driver of the semi was taken to hospital after receiving a heavy knock to the head.

No one else was injured at the accident and fortunately no cars were coming down Kangaroo Ground Road at the time of the accident.

The semi had crossed the southbound lane of Kangaroo Ground Road and ended up hard against the bank at the side of Kangaroo Ground Road.

Ben Ramcharan, candidate for Sugarloaf Ward in the forthcoming Nillumbik Council Election has been advocating for improved safety on this road since February, and says it is frustrating to see yet another incident which could easily have been fatal under different circumstances.

“This is now the fifth truck crash on the south side of Research-Warrandyte Road since November 2018.

“Fortunately, as the roads are quieter at the moment due to lockdown, nobody else was hit.

“My thoughts are with the truck driver who has gone through a very traumatic experience.”

Mr Ramcharan said he spoke with a resident on Research-Warrandyte Road who has had multiple cars lose control at Bradleys Lane and plough into his fence on Research-Warrandyte Road.

“One driver even crashed through his driveway.

“He said VicRoads were able to make improvements on the corner, which has solved the problem.

“This shows that safety improvements can make a difference and now that we’re seeing more crashes at the bottom of the hill, we need to ask the Department of Transport to take similar action,” he said.

Benita Quine, the mother of Ana Quine who was injured in a crash in January in the same spot is angry the intersection remains dangerous.

“This has to stop,” she said.

She said that the intersections at both ends of the bridge are a safety concern.

“Talking to others, and in my experience, plus witnessing other near misses — the pedestrian crossing at the Yarra Street end of the bridge is so dangerous!

“Drivers seem to be unaware of its purpose, myself and others have had to hold up a hand to say ‘I am crossing please stop,’” she said.

Mr Ramcharan agreed the incidents on Research-Warrandyte Road are part of a much larger problem with road safety in North Warrandyte, Research and Kangaroo Ground.

In a letter seen by the Diary, the Department of Transport indicated that they are working with their road safety partners to identify future improvements on Research-Warrandyte Road.

The letter also indicated that Nillumbik Council are planning to construct new footpaths on sections of Research-Warrandyte Road as part of its Getting to School Safely project.

“These projects will enhance pedestrian access and safety,” the letter said.

Mr Ramcharan said the incident on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road in June, where a 29-year-old woman was killed, is “a sobering reminder of how important it is to address road safety across the board.

“This is about our safety and our families’ safety,” he said.

Coronavirus: September 13-28

From midnight on September 13, metro Melbourne begins Step 1 of the State Government’s five step plan to get Victoria out of lockdown.
With curfew still in effect and the majority of Melburnians confined to home overnight, the updated restrictions will effective come into effect at 5am on Monday, September 14.
This is what the next two weeks look like for metro Melbourne, all the activities and restrictions listed below come into effect at 11:59pm on Sunday, September 13 and not before.
Curfew will continue to be a feature of our lives until we reach Step 3, which is currently projected to begin October 26, but the duration of the nightly curfew has been shortened to give Melburnians an extra hour in the evening, meaning curfew is now in effect between 9pm and 5am nightly.
As with conditions of curfew in the preceding six weeks, the only reasons to leave home during curfew are if you have a work permit to do so, or if it is an emergency.
Leaving your home to pick up take-away during curfew is not a permitted reason to leave home.
You are still able to purchase and consume food after 9pm, but by delivery only.


The five-kilometre bubble will also continue, until we reach Step 3 but a major change is in leaving home to exercise and social bubbles.
The time allocated to exercise, off your premises, has been extended to a maximum of two hours and can be taken in either one or two sessions per day.
The type of activities that you can do, and who with, has also been expanded.
Whereas a feature of the previous six weeks was that, regardless of whether living in the same household or not, you could only exercise outside with one other person, this has been expanded to be either one other person, or the persons who live in the same household with you.
Outdoor playgrounds are allowed to open, but sports facilities and skate parks are still closed and activities such as reading a book or having a picnic in the park are allowed but must be with your household or one other person only.


For people living on their own and/or single parents, Step 1 introduces the “social bubble” concept.
This additional measure will allow those living on their own to have one other person over in their home.
However, singles need to nominate their social bubble buddy now and must keep the same buddy until we enter Step 3.
You can visit your buddy and they can visit you as often as you like but, if they live in a shared household, then the other householders need to be out whenever you visit them.
Social bubble buddies can also spend the night at each other’s homes, but masks must be worn at all times and travel cannot happen during curfew hours.
However, if you and your bubble buddy are both living in metro Melbourne, the 5km limit does not apply.
This is different to an “intimate partner”, the rules of which continue from Stage 4.
Regional Victoria is still off limits.


When reporting on Saturday’s figures, the Chief Health Officer’s daily update stated the 14-day average for metro Melbourne was at 61.6.
This number is promising, alongside data which shows this is the first time the state has gone seven days with new active cases below 100.
The daily active cases condition for progressing to Step 2 for metro Melbourne is a 14-day average of 30-50 daily active cases and fewer than five per day for Step 3. Regardless of which way the active cases in Victoria go, the slightly relaxed Stage 4 restrictions will likely be in effect until at least September 28, so enjoy the extra hour in the sunshine, stay COVID Safe and look out for further updates in September’s WD Bulletin (Monday, September 21) and October.

Victoria prepares to vote

UNCERTAINTY around the October Local Council elections has been abated with the Minister for Local Government, Shaun Leane announcing on August 19, following advice from the Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton, the election can go ahead as planned on Saturday, October 24.

“As Minister for Local Government, I sought advice from the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office and Chief Health Officer as to how best to proceed while Victoria is in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

“I also engaged with the local government sector to fully understand concerns regarding the impact of current restrictions in Victoria on campaigning, and relayed that I would act on advice from the Chief Health Officer.

“The Chief Health Officer has advised that October represents a period when risk is likely to be substantially lower than at present, and there are no compelling public health grounds for the elections to be delayed,” Mr Leane said.

This was reaffirmed by Professor Sutton at the September 6 Road Map Press Conference.

In a virtual press conference attended by the Diary, Victorian Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately said that he “welcomed the certainty that this announcement brings”.

He said the VEC has closely monitored Government advice in developing a COVIDSafe election plan.

The Plan puts additional measures in place to safely manage the Victorian local council elections being held by post this October.

Mr Gately has said postal voting is safe and of high integrity, and that the VEC is ready to respond to the changing environment.

“The situation remains dynamic and the VEC continues to actively monitor conditions and restrictions.

“Additional measures in place include increased distancing in election offices, limiting face-to-face contact, enforcing mask wearing where mandated by the Victorian Government, and moving operational activity online whenever possible,” he said.

The 2020 Victorian local elections will also be the first elections held under the Local Government Act 2020.

Under The Act, all election candidates are required to undertake mandatory training, regardless of whether they are new or an incumbent.

The training covers areas such as: how councils are run, election donation rules, councillor code of conduct, conflict of interest and what support is available to councillors.

Candidates will also have the opportunity to include a 300-word statement in the mailed-out ballot packs.

Councillors will also have to complete Councillor Induction Training within the first six months of taking office.

The 2020 Victorian council elections will be the State’s largest single election program, with a predicted 4.5 million voters and over 2,000 candidates participating in elections across 76 councils.

For the first time in Victoria, the local election will be the first to be held completely by postal vote, in 2016, 72 of the 78 Councils that held elections were by postal vote.

For 2020, 76 Councils will see their citizens, and ratepayers cast their vote, which is every Victorian Council excepting Whittlesea, Casey and South Gippsland, who are currently in administration.

In the change to council structure — with some Councils changing from multi-member to single-member wards — there will be 298 seats in contention across participating Councils.

With eight councils switching to single member wards, including Maroondah and Manningham, which will switch to nine, single councillor wards, the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) has stressed the importance of voters making sure they know what ward they will be voting for on October 24, as the ward names and their boundaries have changed.

Detailed information about the forthcoming election, at a local government level can be found on the VEC website.

The VEC is also encouraging voters to sign up for its VoterAlert sms and email service, which will provide those registered with prompts and other important information about the forthcoming election.


Dates for your diary

The enrolment deadline has now passed.

The next big milestone is the candidate nomination period which occurs between Thursday, September 17 and 12pm on Tuesday, September 22.

Eligible candidates wishing to nominate should visit the VEC website for further information on procedures and the required pre-nomination training.

Those who do qualify and choose to nominate will need to present at their municipality’s election office — by appointment — during the nomination period.

Ballot packs will be mailed out between October 6 and October 8, delivered via Australia Post.

Voters have until 6pm on October 23 to return their ballot paper, either posted before this date and time, or hand delivered to their municipality’s election office.

Election declarations are expected to take place before Friday, November 13, the deadline for declaration was extended to accommodate for COVID-Safe work practices for VEC counting staff.

Memoirs of a local councillor


WHEN I WAS first elected as Councillor in the Mullum Mullum ward, I felt proud and full of gratitude for the many people in the community who trusted me as their representative and advocate.

I remember that first day in the council chambers, my name plate, the officialdom, the other eight councillors, all with big personalities.

I asked myself “How did I get here?” I had a Talking Heads song recycling in my head!

It was not long before my head was full of facts and figures.

Newly appointed councillors are thrown into many strategic briefing sessions to help us get up to speed about what council does and how it does it.

That includes how decisions are made about how much to spend on roads, rubbish, open spaces, sport and activity centres.

At first, the cynic in me saw it as indoctrination by the “system”, with fellow councillors posturing to portray themselves as all-knowing.

I was determined to not become a part of the machine, and to stay true to those who elected me.

I noticed early that council had a distinct city vs country mentality in its approach to just about everything.

I am not referring only to trees!

There was a strong push for curb and channel and drainage schemes which did not entertain alternative options.

Business as usual was the motto. 

Readers of the Diary will most likely be aware of the magnitude of the battle for Melbourne Hill Road (MHR).

If it were not for the residents’ strong opposition to the drainage scheme (a seven-year fight), this area of Warrandyte would look like a suburban estate with no character and no mature trees.

My advocacy for MHR was my longest running battle.

The final result is also due to the efforts and collective knowledge of the residents who never gave up.

The MHR residents’ stand against council on this drainage scheme created benefits that flowed to all the residents of Manningham.

Their win effectively removed the Special Rates and Charges as a means for Council to proceed with works, and then charge residents.

So, if you happen to bump into a resident from Melbourne Hill Road, do not forget to thank them.

When the day comes that a drainage scheme is coming your way, you will not have to pay for it, because your rates are already paying for it!

There is a big lesson here.

When you have difficulty with council, approach your ward councillor and ask for their support.

Hopefully you have elected a person who is sympathetic and feisty enough to battle for you.

I loved being a councillor most when I could advocate for community groups and help individuals and families navigate the web of council rules, regulations and permits.

Communication from council is often dry and “official” and I often saw letters to residents which gave cool legalistic responses to issues that affect families in very emotional ways.

For instance, a brother and sister in Warrandyte wanted to subdivide five acres of inherited land into two lots.

Council had refused the application for two years and it was not clear why.

The residents asked for my assistance.

At a meeting with senior executives at the Council, the Officers said they had not approved of the line of division because the line was not front and centre.

I suggested they look at the site as Warrandyte has many dips and slopes and perhaps the siblings were trying to ensure they both had equal amount of usable land.

The result was that the application was quickly approved.

Two happy families finally able to enjoy their property.

Another example of advocacy concerned a senior citizen who lived alone on an acre in Park Orchards.

Due to council graveling the road and subsequent rain, a lot of gravel entered her driveway and garden, and also under her house.

Her pleas to council to remove it came with the response, “We cannot do work on private property”.


Tribute to Mick Woiwod

Mick Woiwod

March 31, 1929 – August 26, 2020


The wattles are in bloom and now it is my time to fly with Bunjil

TRIBUTES have flowed for local historian and founder of the Nillumbik Reconciliation Group, Mick Woiwod, who died on August 26, at the age of 91.

Mick was born in Ferntree Gully in 1929 during the Great Depression.

His parents were London born Alfred and Gertrude Woiwod (nee Rosenbrook).

Mick spent his formative years in Frankston.

A description in the school magazine included the phrase “Michael says little but thinks a lot”.

He married wife Marg in 1954 and children followed in quick succession with Louise and Christine born in 1956, Graeme 1958 and Deborah the following year.

In the seventies Mick signed up for a Council of Adult Education course in Archaeology through the University of Melbourne and attended summer camps at Wood Wood on the Murray and Yambuk beyond Port Fairy that opened up a window into the mysterious Aboriginal world.

This later led to further courses in geology and little did he know then that he would one day be writing a book, opening up to today’s world how the Aboriginal people had seen the land of the Yarra Valley of which they had long formed its most important element.

In the late 70s a friend mentioned to Mick that they had just purchased land in the Bend of Islands, which followed an offer for them to have a picnic on the new block.

Driving the last kilometre, Mick described: “at last I was home”.

At the age of 60 Mick enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts course in Australian History, which he completed in 1991.

While still at university he started a booklet about Christmas Hills first settler Joseph Stevenson.

This soon assumed major book proportions and was called Once Around the Sugarloaf: The Transformation of a Victorian Landscape and the story of its People and launched at the Christmas Hills in Primary School in 1992.

This also was the beginning of many an unveiling of commemorative rocks and plaques.

Over the last 30 years he has researched and written over 25 books, most of these on the history of the Yarra Valley’s Indigenous people, in particular the story of Coranderrk Aboriginal Station in Healesville.

All through his life, Mick searched for the truth about Victoria’s Indigenous people, always determined to fill in the missing layer of Victoria’s history.

He was Founding President, and later patron of Nillumbik Reconciliation Group (NRG).

NRG President Jan Aitken paid tribute:

“It was a vision for him of a group of people who would work together to promote reconciliation with the Traditional Owners of land which included Nillumbik Shire, the Wurundjeri people.

For Mick, reconciliation covered acknowledgment: he was instrumental in having the Shire give its regular acknowledgement at all Shire meetings.

It meant information: we need to know more about the lives of Wurundjeri pre-settlement and their lives after invasion of their lands by squatters, gold miners, and settlers.

Mick researched these topics constantly over the last 30 years or so.

I read his first book, The Last Cry when I arrived in Eltham in 1998.

It was that book which set me on the track of reconciliation.

Mick compiled his research into early original records into two large databases, Birrarung and Coranderrk, each with a searchable CD.

He then had copies distributed to all the schools in Nillumbik, at his expense.

Each of Mick’s books had two or three launches so that as wide a population as possible could know about them.

NRG was there for most of these.

They are solid volumes, filled with history, story, imagination and love for Wurundjeri.

A book he struggled with and worked on for years was the story of Coranderrk.

Not only the story of Simon Wonga, William Barak and Rev John Green and the success of the farming enterprise, Mick went further.

He explored what had happened to bring an end to Coranderrk as an Aboriginal reserve.

Barak and the Black Hats of Melbourne was the result, a moving tragedy of political takeover by ruthless men in the Victorian Acclimatisation Society.

This is a story not told in history books to date.

Mick also liked to have markers on the land so that the Aboriginal story was firmly acknowledged in ways that would remain.

Go down to the end of the Boulevard in North Warrandyte and you will find a rock there with a plaque commemorating the area as an Aboriginal reserve where the last corroboree was held.

Walk in Kangaroo Ground Cemetery and find a large rock with a plaque acknowledging the place as an earlier Aboriginal campsite near a spring which still flows.

And on the Eltham-Yarra Glen Road, the Gawa Wurundjeri Resource Trail was established on a Mick initiative.

The Barak Short Story competition was run by the NRG in the early years of the new millennium.

Mick wanted children who were writing stories about Wurundjeri life to have a hands on experience of what the land provided.

The Gawa Trail was built in partnership with Wurundjeri, the Shire and Parks Victoria and remains today as an important community resource.

I recall with affection the urgency and passion with which Mick pursued a story he was researching.

It was this passion and drive which fed the NRG.

Even when he had retired from being President, Mick was there: at meetings, at events, speaker, honoured guest, author, elder.

His legacy continues to inspire.

He has given us a significant example of what reconciliation requires: passion, commitment, honesty.

Thank you Mick for your gifts all of us.”

Fellow historian and founder of Reconciliation Manningham, Jim Poulter, said Mick Woiwod was a good friend, colleague and collaborator for more than 40 years.

“He made an invaluable, indelible and unique contribution to the telling of our local Indigenous history.

“He was a kindred spirit and I will miss our always animated chats,” said Jim.

Mick was also the co-founder of the Andrew Ross Museum at Kangaroo Ground and member of both the Warrandyte and the Eltham District Historical Societies.

Mick served on the Advisory Committee for the Kangaroo Ground Tower for 14 years, which saw the reserve brought up to its present highly commendable state.

This introduced a new fire-spotting cabin complete with spiral stairway as replacement for the ancient steep ladder to the top-deck, plus the iconic Moor-rul Viewing Platform with displays which speak of the Hill’s Wurundjeri Story to the thousands who now visit the site each year.

Jim Connor, President of Eltham District Historical Society told the Diary:

“Mick, as he was usually known… comprehensively researched and wrote extensively about European settlement in the Eltham and Kangaroo Ground districts, particularly commenting on the resulting impact on the local Wurundjeri clan.

He was honoured with the name Murrup Ngooloo ‘Spirit Voice’ and his work helped raise the awareness of settlement activities of the early pioneers of the area, while concentrating on highlighting the adverse reactions their introduced lifestyles had on the original inhabitants.

In researching and recording this information, Mick’s legacy is a valuable resource of local Indigenous history, culture and practices, particularly for current and future history researchers.

Mick was a decisive initiator of change in respect of practices and attitudes towards our earliest inhabitants.”

Warrandyte Historical Society also paid tribute to Mick.

Society Secretary, Valerie Polley said:

“Warrandyte Historical Society was saddened by the news of the death of Mick Woiwood, a leading advocate for Aboriginal history of the local area.

As a past member of the Society, Mick together with wife Margaret, were keen supporters over many years.

Mick loved to share his passion and great knowledge of local Aboriginal history especially with children during school visits.

Truly a sad loss.”

Nillumbik Councillors paid their respects to Mick.

Mayor Karen Egan said Mr Woiwod would be sadly missed by all who knew him.

“Mick was a true champion of history and heritage, a passionate advocate for Indigenous rights, and a revered member of the Nillumbik community,” Cr Egan said.

Cr Jane Ashton said:“Mick was a scholar and a gentleman, reading his books added significantly to my understanding of this area.

“From the first peoples, the squatters, gold miners and farmers, to the present-day story of The Bend of Islands Community, he brought the place alive and put people into the landscape.

“Passionate about the history, devoted to using his writing to shed light on the suffering of the Aboriginal people and the founder of our Nillumbik Reconciliation Group Mick was a champion for truth and justice.

“I was privileged to have met him, enjoyed very much listening to him, and can only imagine the gap he has left in the lives of those who knew him for so much longer than I did.”

He may be gone but never forgotten and the legacy of his books, knowledge of Australian Aboriginal history and the passion will live on in many for years to come.

Mick’s funeral was held on September 3 and was livestreamed.

Those interested can view the livestream at until mid-October.
Contact the Diary for login details.

Thanks to the Woiwod family for their assistance in telling Mick’s story.


The road out is long, stay the course

ON SUNDAY, September 6, Punxsutawney Dan emerged from his burrow in Parliament House and, upon seeing his shadow, announced the numbers were still too high and Melburnians would have two more weeks of Lockdown, but at least there is a plan, a roadmap to an end to Groundhog Day, and towards COVID Normal.

For the record, I am penning this latest update on day 35 of Stage 4 Lockdown.

It has not been easy and I think you would struggle to find anyone who can genuinely say the opposite.

The new cases are steadily coming down with the seven-day average, as of Sunday, September 6, in the mid-80s.

As if living under curfew and with limited legal reasons to venture beyond the perimeter of your property wasn’t difficult enough, the severe storm that blew across Melbourne and the South East on Thursday, August 27 caused a critical failure at Silvan Water Treatment Plant, releasing untreated water into the water supply.

Yarra Valley Water released a boiled water notification on Friday morning, advising those living in affected suburbs to boil all drinking and food preparation water before use, as a precaution.

The storm also felled trees and powerlines with some households still without power the following Monday.

With certainty, I can say that at four weeks into Stage 4 restrictions, the added challenge of no power and no potable water was an additional test of Melburnians’ resolve.

Emergency legislation

The Lower House sat for the first time in three months at the beginning of September as Premier, Daniel Andrews sought to pass legislation to allow him to extend the State of Emergency for a further six months.

Under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, the State of Emergency can be enforced for a maximum of four weeks at a time, at the end of those four weeks it can be extended, but by a maximum of four more weeks.

Under the act, the State of Emergency can only be in continuous enforcement for a maximum of six months.

Originally, Premier Andrews sought to extend the State of Emergency for an additional 12 months but this prompted fierce opposition from the Liberal Party, with both the Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien and Party Leader, Peter Walsh stating they would oppose and vote against any attempt to extend the state of emergency another 12 months.

“This is the act of a Premier whose power has gone to his head.

“We will stand with Victorians whose rights and freedoms are threatened by this extraordinary power grab,” said Mr O’Brien.

Mr Walsh called the proposed action draconian.

“The State of Emergency hands enormous power to the Premier and a small number of unelected officials with very little oversight and accountability.

“There’s a reason it’s strictly limited to a maximum of six months – because no government should be able to write itself a blank cheque for extraordinary powers over Victorians’ lives and livelihoods,” Mr Walsh said.

With Labor holding majority in the Lower House, the real battle for this amendment to The Act was fought in the Upper House, where Labor needed to win support from cross-benchers for it to pass.

On Monday, September 1, amendments to the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, debated as the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (State of Emergency Extension and Other Matters) Bill 2020 was eventually passed in the Upper House without amendments.

The Bill allows for an extension of the Victorian State of Emergency for an additional six months — but only in relation to a COVID-19 emergency and has lowered the threshold in which the CHO can authorise enforcement of directions, changing the trigger from “necessary” to “reasonably necessary”.

This should make it simpler for CHO Directives to be enforced more quickly during any future COVID-19 outbreaks.

Following the passing of the Bill in the Upper House, Health Minister, Jenny Makikos took to Twitter to publically thank the crossbenchers who tipped the vote in favour of the amendments, which scraped through the Upper House at 20 votes to 19.

“Thankyou to all Government MPs & to @AndyMeddickMP @FionaPattenMLC & @SamanthaRatnam who put public health above politics & voted to allow a declaration of a State of Emergency to continue for another six months if necessary to protect Victorians from #COVID19 #springst”

The Bill was then debated in the Lower House on September 3–4 and eventually passed, 33 to 23.

The Bill has now passed both houses and awaits Royal Assent.

Once The Bill becomes Law, the amendment to the Health and Wellbeing Act 2003 will be repealed one calendar year after it becomes law.

Amendments to the Victoria Police Act 2013 are also being debated in the Parliament, as part of the Police and Emergency Legislation Amendment Bill 2020.

The proposed changes extend the reach of Protective Services Officers (PSO) in relation to enforcement of public orders by expanding the definition of “designated places” as well as including an amendment to Clause 37b the Police Act which will allow deployment of PSOs in an area declared a State of Emergency or State of Disaster.

The Second Reading of The Bill is scheduled to continue on September 17.

The road out

On Sunday, September 6, the Premier laid out the roadmap to take us to COVID Normal.

Following a preamble from the Premier which indicated the news was not going to be good.

Mr Andrews outlined a roadmap which will see us at COVID Normal by Christmas.

However, this roadmap has checkpoints which must be met before we can begin the next phase out of the second wave.

Regional Victoria is on a different trajectory towards COVID Normal, the restrictions outlined below apply to those living in metro Melbourne.

For the moment, following a 14-day average which has new cases averaging at 100 per day, the numbers are still too high — so Stage 4 restrictions have been extended for an additional two weeks, to at least September 28, with some slight modifications which come into effect at midnight on Sunday, September 13.

Exercise will be extended to two hours per day, and can be split into two one-hour blocks, and has been expanded to include social interactions such as going to the beach, having a picnic, et cetera.

Social interactions outside will be expanded to two people or an entire household.

The nightly curfew will also be modified and will be in effect between 9pm and 5am.

Single parents and those living on their own can also nominate one person to visit them, at their home, during this extended lockdown.

On September 28, if the 14-day average is between 30 and 50 active cases per day in metro Melbourne there will be further easing of restrictions and some businesses will be able to reopen.

For businesses, the road out is very, very long with many sectors which are currently closed, remaining closed until at least Step 3 of the roadmap which, optimistically, is October 26.

For parents of children at the beginning and end of their education journey, a return to face-to-face learning is imminent, with Prep, 1, 2 and VCE students returning to the classroom from October 12.

Those students sitting General Achievement Tests and other essential assessments will be able to sit those, in a school setting from October 5.

More broadly speaking, the roadmap as it currently stands will see curfew and the 5km bubble in effect until the conditions are met to enter the Third Step, which may not be until late October.

The timeline for the five steps to COVID Normal is another 10 weeks of staged easing of restrictions and while we could outline, in full, the roadmap in this story, Victorians need to tread carefully to ensure our efforts keep driving down numbers and moving us towards COVID Normal.

With the excepted easing outlined above, the Stage 4 restrictions we are all used to are still in place until the end of September and masks will continue to be mandatory.

A lot can happen between now and September 28, the Diary will have more information on the second stage of reopening in the September WD Bulletin and in October’s Warrandyte Diary and on the Warrandyte Diary website and social media channels.


Parks closures

The Warrandyte Diary has been informed that Warrandyte State Park visitor sites have been closed due to danger from high winds.

According to an email from Parks Victoria sent to registered Volunteer Groups and Tour Operators,  Jumping Creek Reserve, Normans Reserve, Koornong Reserve and Pound Bend are currently closed to the public, and are scheduled to reopen on Thursday, September 3.

There are damaging winds warning in effect across South East Victoria and as many will have seen, during daily activity following the storm o Thursday, and from notifications on the Vic Emergency app today, trees are coming down.

Stay safe out there today!

Staying apart keeps us together

MELBURNIANS HAVE survived their first full week of Stage 4 Lockdown but there is an extremely long road ahead.
At 6pm on Sunday, August 2, a State of Disaster was declared for the state, and in metropolitan Melbourne a suite of restrictions was rolled out, beginning with more severe restrictions relating to the four legal reasons to leave your property.
The Directions at the time of publication state that until September 13, the reasons for leaving your property for exercise or shopping have been tightened.
Both exercise and shopping now must take place within five kilometres of your property.
For exercise, you may only be off your property for a maximum of one hour and you can only exercise with one other person, regardless of whether they live with you or not.
For shopping, the Directions stipulate that one person, per household, per day can leave the property for the purposes of obtaining essential goods and food, but only once — meaning you have to do all your shopping in one trip.
There is also a nightly curfew in place, and only those who have a legitimate reason (work, medical or compassionate reasons) can be off their property between 8pm and 5am.
Warranditians would have probably already noticed the impact of this night curfew with the significant reduction in traffic noise.
Over the week that followed, the Government outlined and implemented a series of reductions or closures to businesses and industries it deemed non-essential for the next six weeks.
Note, these closures principally impact businesses who cannot work from home and are designed to significantly reduce the movement of people around Melbourne, and to reduce the number of daily active cases, which had stubbornly sitting between the 400 and 700 mark for the previous week.
The Stage 4 Business Restrictions document is extensive and has been modified, slightly, over the past week to reflect the nuance of types of businesses under certain categories, such as the recent adaptation of the business restrictions to allow the collection of new and lost pets from animal shelters.
Local animal shelter, Blue Cross Animal Society of Victoria in Wonga Park expressed their joy of the change to restrictions on Facebook, on Saturday, August 8.
“Blue Cross is thrilled… new pet adoptions can continue during Stage 4 restrictions.
“This is great news Blue Cross will continue with animal adoptions by appointment only, following all Government guidelines.”
The necessity for a COVID Safe plan for those businesses who can have employees and customers on-site, plus the necessity for all employees to carry a work permit when travelling to and from work will mean that by now, every business knows if, and how, they can open.
But there are some very basic and very easy to understand restrictions in place which will serve as a baseline for any questions on what you can do and where you can go.
To reduce the number of people who are intermingling for the period of the Stage 4 restrictions, businesses which can operate on-site are limited to essential and critical services only.
For Warrandyte, this principally means Quinton’s Supa IGA, the butchers, bakers and other food and beverage vendors are currently open for business.
Trades such as plumbers, electricians, gasfitters and mechanics do have a capacity to operate but for works, which usually take place in your home (such as leaking taps, servicing your gas heater, electrical wiring, et cetera), these services are limited to emergency and critical work only.
There are a number of other businesses that can still operate but may only be offering a click and collect or home delivery service.
Check out our What’s Open guide on Page 20 for a rundown of what is open in Warrandyte.
These restrictions will have a significant impact on local gardening and housecleaning businesses who have had to shut up shop for the time being.
Jim’s Mowing owner, Jim Penman, made mainstream news at the beginning of the business restrictions when he went head-to-head, via dualling media conferences with the Premier over the prospect of Jim’s Mowing franchisees having to shut up shop.
Vehicle mechanics have also found themselves in a similar predicament, the Ultra Tune franchise has now updated its national website to reflect the situation in Victoria:
“The health and safety of our team members, customers and the community have remained our priority throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
“All Ultra Tune Service Centres throughout Victoria remain open as permitted under the Victorian Government’s restrictions.
“Melbourne customers are under the Stage 4 restrictions and will only be allowed to shop and exercise within five kilometres of their homes.”
Remember, whenever you leave home to shop, it must be one person, per household, per day, once a day.
The State of Disaster gives authorities the legal freedom they need to enforce restrictions and there are fines in place for anyone who, without good reason, is found more than five kilometres from home, not wearing a face mask or covering, or leave their properties between 8pm and 5am.

Supportive community

We are a long way from living COVID-Normal and the concept of business-as-usual is bordering on ancient history.
The severity of the current restrictions is having a significant impact on our lives, but unless we all follow the letter and the spirit of these directions, things will get worse before they get better.
There are many in the community that are struggling with the isolation and uncertainty during the restrictions.
Premier Daniel Andrews said: “We know Victorians are resilient, but we have never faced a crisis quite like this one and I know there are a lot of people out there doing it tough right now.
“We want them to know that they are not alone.”
Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley told the media that there has been an increase of people presenting at Hospital Emergency Departments following episodes of self-harm.
Therefore, to ease the burden on hospitals, opening hours in mental health community clinics will be extended to enable face-to-face sessions and assessments — to be conducted in accordance with physical distancing requirements — focusing on prevention and providing support to those who need it.
As a community, and as individuals, we can all help with this: keep connecting with family and friends over the phone or video chat, and make sure your neighbours are coping with lockdown.
Warrandyte is well placed to come through this challenge with a stronger sense of community and togetherness following our shared isolation.

Living smart, living local

Some local businesses will be hurting right now, and you may be inclined to go out and shop to help support local traders, but remember, once per day, one person, per household, can leave the house to go shopping.
The restrictions, as they currently stand, give us the option to choose who goes shopping, what they buy and where and when (within restrictions) but if we do not all try to live within the confines of these restrictions, and numbers continue to rise, then those freedoms will be at risk of requiring a permit as well.
The Directions also state that you can only use your vehicle to travel to a place to exercise, within your five kilometres, if it is not reasonably practicable to do so without using your vehicle.
There are also severe limitations on what recreational activity you can do in public, during your one-hour per day.
The list of permissible activities is also extremely short, activities such as golf, kayaking, horse riding and boot camps are off the table, limiting exercise to either walking, running, cycling or kicking the ball with a mate on the local oval, for the foreseeable future.
Most community sports and recreation facilities are closed.
Tennis courts and stadia have literally padlocked their front gates and councils have erected cyclone fencing and hazard tape around skate parks, playgrounds and community fitness equipment.
Luckily for residents of 3113, there are a wealth of walking trails on our doorstep which means your daily 60 minutes is not limited to walking the streets.
As with all the directions prior to these, there is an element of common sense to the execution of these directions in our everyday life.
For example, you can only travel within five kilometres of your property for shopping, but if the essential service you need is more than five kilometres away, then you are permitted to travel to that, but you must visit the closest most practicable provider of the service you require.
Gardening and building supply businesses are also offering click and collect and contactless delivery services, so if you are looking to work on your garden, using a local garden supplies business with a delivery service might be your best bet.
But it seems, that mostly, people in 3113 are doing the right thing, whilst, as of Sunday, August 9, there were 72 active cases in Manningham and 67 in Nillumbik, recent postcode data for 3113 indicated Warrandyte is back to zero active cases.
As part of our #wearitwellWarrandyte social media campaign, the Diary wants to hear from you all, we want to see pictures and videos of your local five-kilometres.
Send an email to: with “My 5KM” in the header and tell us what you love about living within your five kilometres.

Getting arty with our health and safety


WHETHER IT be instore or online, finding a mask or two right now is high on everyone’s shopping list.
Social media is awash with crafty critters that have turned their hand to mask making and several of the businesses in town are selling the wares of this new cottage industry.
Kim Miatke from Calla Collective is one of the local businesses selling the masks made by local makers.
“We made the decision not to make our own masks,” said Kim.
“At Calla Collective our vision is about supporting other people in the community to use their gifts and talents, especially at this really hard time.”
Kim stocked up on locally made fabric masks as quickly as she could.
“In the first week of needing masks people were panicked, they were fearful.
“It was a very intense week; it was heavy, and people were sad
“We did 12 days straight administering masks, it went nuts as soon as it went on social media.
“The phone didn’t stop ringing, we were contacting makers, driving around and picking up, packaging, coordinating orders, it was crazy.
“None of us like wearing a mask and it is challenging,” said Kim, “and it has been hard for people to find something that is comfortable.”
Kathy Donovan is a local mask maker, selling both online and supplying to Calla Collective.
When the need for masks was made evident, Kathy naturally turned to her sewing machine.
“I’ve been sewing all my life,” said Kathy, “and pre-COVID I did markets with a friend, but we have done nothing since February, so this was a chance to do something.
“It has just taken off,” said Kathy, “I put an ad on marketplace and had to take it down — I was inundated.”
Kathy is a trainer with St John’s Ambulance and with first aid training and an acute awareness of infection and PPE guidelines, Kathy’s advice for mask wearing and handling is to be noted.
“If you are wearing a mask under your nose it is not right,” said Kathy, “and you need to wear them once and then wash them,” she said.
“It’s a good idea to carry a Ziplock bag labelled ‘used masks’ in your pocket, car or handbag, and drop them straight in to it when you take them off to stop contamination.”
Anna Smart is from Park Orchards and is also assisting Calla Collective with orders as well as selling via social media.
“As masks became mandatory, I thought ‘let’s fire up the sewing machines’ and since then, me and my Janome have been working overtime,” she said.
Anna is a self-taught seamstress and says it is nice to have a skill that can be used and appreciated at this time.
“Sewing is often overlooked as a skill these days, with the focus on mass produced items.
“There has been lots of nights burning the midnight oil, and I’ve been able to use some of the fabric I’ve been storing for quite a while,” said Anna.
Karen is a resident of Creekside in Warrandyte.
She trained as a dress designer and at one time made wedding dresses, and now her competence is put to a new and vital need.
Karen started with developing a prototype from the internet and working on it until the product was perfect.
At first, she laboured for her loved ones; four children and their partners, then the seven grandchildren over two.
It was not long before friends received her special creations and then she turned her hand to supporting the community.
She quickly used up Spotlight’s dense thread count material but was able to access the fabric closer to home from Clare’s Fabrics boutique shop, on the grounds of Warran Glen Garden Centre.
Maddy Connolly from Ringwood North was a children’s party entertainer pre-COVID and has spent many hours dressed as Elsa and other princesses.
COVID restrictions put an end to children’s parties and Maddy found the first round of isolation very challenging to be out of work.
“First iso was pretty rough”, said Maddy, “I felt like I didn’t have any purpose, I didn’t have anything to do.”
“When Lockdown 2.0 arrived, I thought I have to find something to do.
“I found the sewing machine in the shed, and as there are six people in the family, I thought it would be cheaper if I made us some masks.
“I looked up a YouTube tutorial and just made them for the family,” she said.
Demand took off when friends of Maddy’s siblings and colleagues from her Mum’s work also wanted some.
So, having had no income for a while, Maddy accepted the challenge and has now made well over 50 masks.
“Working in batches of cutting and then sewing, it takes about half an hour to make a mask,” said Maddy, “the machine is getting a good workout.
“I did textiles in Year 8 but hadn’t touched it since, but the manual was in the box – lucky for me.”
Maddy’s family are enjoying having an inhouse seamstress and asking her to make masks to match their outfits.
16-year-old Amelia O’Neill, from Wonga Park, is currently studying at Luther College and working shifts at a Coles Supermarket.
In the gaps, Amelia is spending hours making masks to help meet the demand.

Amelia started her own business when she was 12 years old, making dog bandanas, hair scrunchies and cushions, and selling them at markets.
Abandoning this several years ago as work and study demands increased, it wasn’t until the mask mandate was broadcast, and her mum encouraged her to get sewing again, that Amelia sat at the machine again.
“I worked out how to make a mask and got to work,” said Amelia.
She posted her masks on social media and was inundated with orders immediately.
“I finished a shift at work and looked at my phone and I had hundreds of orders,” said Amelia.
With supplies selling out fast all over town, the search went as far as Collingwood for materials and supplies, but for now Amelia is well stocked.
“I’ve made over two hundred masks,” she said, “and now I’ve paid off schoolies for next year.”
Let’s hope this is all over soon and schoolies is on for next year Millie.
Congratulations to all those wonderful women (and several men) who have rallied to the cause pulled their sewing machines out of hiding and set to work to help us combat this crisis together.
Reusable masks are available locally from Calla Collective, The Avenue, Douglas & Hope, and other local retailers.
Under Stage 4 Lockdown, purchases can be made via click and collect and delivery — see page 20 for contact details.
Independent mask makers can be found via social media.
There are so many mask makers out there, it really is easy to find a mask which suits your outfit, mood, or personality.
As part of the #wearitwellWarrandyte social media campaign, Warrandyte Diary is asking you to take a selfie of you wearing your favourite — possibly locally made — mask so we can celebrate the good during these times and showcase the many wonderful designs our local mask makers are producing.
Send your mask face pictures to

Warrandyte awaits a grand return of the pub

THE GRAND WARRANDYTE’S taps have been switched off since March 23.
Warrandyte’s local bar and eatery has not seen a closure of this length in its 120-year history.
If history is anything to go by however, the pub will emerge from Coronavirus with flying colours and with a shiny new beer garden.
Fire, floods and everything in-between has beset the Yarra Street establishment over its 120-year journey and while General Manager Peter Appleby is confident the Grand will re-open its doors when appropriate, he admits the lockdown period has been a tough one, especially in the early days of the virus.
“It’s been a real challenge,” he said.
“Having to change our service three times in a week before we actually got shut down was a challenge as well.”
“Going from one person per four square metres, to 25 people max in a room, to this to that— to adapt to that three times in a week was tough.”
With a large financial hit, uncertainty across the hospitality industry and staff stood down across the board, Peter’s mind has been on the wellbeing of the pub’s workers.
“My main concern now is about our staff and their mental health and wellbeing.
“It’s been a pretty challenging time for all of us, including the owners,” he said.
Peter said pub management have to simply live with the obvious financial losses, their focus is on making sure staff are safe and well.
“We don’t have many people coming and going with the restrictions, obviously.
“I keep in touch with a few of the team and I know a lot of the other management team keep in touch as well.
“People are bored, people want to get back to work and they’re just sad to see the pub shut.”
“Once the doors re-open I think everyone will be happy again.”
Once they do, patrons of the Grand will be able to stroll into the pub’s most recent and exciting development — the Grand Beer Garden which is tipped to be just six weeks from completion.
“We are super excited.
“We don’t think there’s another spot on the Yarra River from this side of the city that will have views like this.
“We’ve got outdoor fire pits, some greenery, undercover areas.
“It’s going to be a nice, unique spot out on the Yarra River in beautiful Warrandyte, we can’t wait to have it thriving.
“I’d like to think when we re-open the outdoor restrictions will be different than inside areas — that’s what we’re hoping for.
“And hey, the sun will be shining by the time we get to re-open and it [the beer garden] will be a good spot to enjoy,” said Peter.
The need to adapt in the face of COVID-19 forced many restaurants into a reshuffle and with no certainty as to the end date of the lockdown, the Grand briefly offered a takeaway menu to continue trading.
Peter explained how the Grand’s initial take-away service was a pivot, but it did not really fit with what the team wanted the Grand to be known for.
“Being shut down was like ‘ok how long is this going to last?’
“We did the takeaway and the takeaway went quite well for us.”
“I guess at the end of the day that’s not what we wanted to be known as.”
July 16 was set to be the grand re-opening of the pub but a second wave of Coronavirus cases in Victoria put those plans on hold, temporarily.
“We got some hope that we could re-open — then the numbers went backwards — it’s been a rollercoaster challenge as to when we can open, what’s going to happen in the environment, and how does it work?”
“We’ve just got to sit here and keep rolling with the punches and wait for our turn to open — it’s out of our hands.”
In terms of the road back, Peter says the Grand will only re-open with a minimum patronage of 50 people to a space, as anything less simply is not financially viable for the establishment.
“We will still stick with 50 patrons,” he said.
“It is just not financially viable to open for 20 people — it simply does not make sense with such a large space as well.”
In a challenging environment, the Warrandyte community is keenly awaiting the return of its pub and Peter says that while it has been a difficult road, patrons will be enjoying a cold beer or a delicious meal soon, likely in the sunshine of the spring and summer months.
“It’s going to be a challenge but we’re certainly up for it.
But, Peter says, as many of us have had to already, the rules around this virus often require some form of adaptation and the pub is ready to adapt, if necessary, to meet any requirements which will allow it to reopen.
“We want the doors open as quick as we can so whatever rules present themselves; we will follow.”
For now, we all wait, and watch, but it is certain that the reopening of our local pub will be a grand event.

Encouraging women to run for government

GOVERNANCE in many municipalities has long been dominated by male voices.

So, there is a drive by the Victorian State Government to inspire a new generation of women councillors ahead of the October local government elections.

Minister for Local Government Shaun Leane, announced the It’s Our Time campaign, which aims to inspire women to get involved in local government and nominate for election.

The push will include the provision of online resources including webinars.

Mr Leane said, “Gender equality makes communities, councils and Victoria stronger.

“That’s why we’re making support available to encourage women to run for council and support safe campaigning.”

It’s Our Time will draw on the experience and expertise of a range of partners including LGPro (Local Government Professionals), the Australian Local Government Women’s Association, the Victorian Local Governance Association, the YWCA and the Ethnic Communities Council.

Minister for Women, Gabrielle Williams, said Victoria is leading the country when it comes to improving gender equality.

“We want people of all genders to enjoy equal rights, opportunities, responsibilities and outcomes — and programs like this help us make it happen,” she said.

A century on from the election of the state’s first woman councillor, Mary Rogers, Victoria now boasts the highest number of female mayors in history with 32 in place across the state.

However, 13 of Victoria’s 79 councils have just one female councillor while overall, women account for just 38 per cent of elected representatives.

Locally, Manningham Council currently has a majority of women on council, with five out of the nine councillors identifying as female, while only two of the seven members of Nillumbik’s council are women.


Andrew Day, Manningham CEO told the Diary, with four female Mayors over the past eight years, Manningham Council has a proud history of electing women into leadership roles.

“Manningham Council is committed to supporting and celebrating gender equality and diversity within our community and among the Councillors who are elected to represent our community,” he said.

Mr Day said during the current four-year Council term, the Manningham community elected five female Councillors and four male Councillors.

“During this time, the Councillors have elected two female Mayors and two female Deputy Mayors, which highlights the opportunities for local women in leadership roles at Manningham Council.

Mr Day said having an elected Council that adequately represents the local community with a good gender mix is important to Council decision making.

“This encourages a diversity of views and opinions to effectively lead and represent constituents, make strategic decisions and support good local governance for the wider community,” Mr Day said.

He said Manningham Council has a range of support options in place to help remove some of the traditional barriers for women standing for Council, including carer support options, payment of allowances and expenses for Councillor duties, and a flexible approach to meeting times to accommodate other personal or family commitments.

“As Manningham moves to a new nine ward structure, we encourage women and people of all ages and backgrounds who are interested in representing their local community to stand for Council at the upcoming October election,” Mr Day said.


Nillumbik Mayor, Karen Egan said Nillumbik Shire Council has strong commitment to gender equality through its Gender Equity Policy Statement, which was adopted in 2018.

“For local government to be a true reflection of the communities we serve it is important to have representation of both men and women, as well as people from a range of diverse experiences.

“Not only do women make up just over 50 per cent of the population, but men and women have very different ways of looking at things — together, we represent a wide range of views and offer different perspectives on the important issues Council needs to consider for our community.

“I’m proud to be the first Mayor from the rural ward of Bunjil,” she said.

Ms Egan said standing for Council can be tough, particularly in rural areas.

“You have to have a thick skin to withstand the personal attacks and opposition, and financially, campaigning can be costly.

“The time commitment required of councillors, including the time away from home, can be difficult for women already juggling the demands of family and work, particularly single mothers like myself,” she said.

This year, with COVID-19, women are bearing even more of the financial burden and caring responsibilities, making it more difficult.

“But being a councillor is an extremely rewarding opportunity to serve the local community.

“I urge more women to consider using their unique skills and knowledge to help make a real difference to their local areas,” she said.

Parthway to diversity

The Victorian Government has provided $137,000 to promote pathways for a more diverse range of candidates standing for local government in 2020.

This has included backing the Victorian Local Governance Association’s Your Community, Country and Council campaign to Aboriginal communities.

Minister Leane has also announced the launch of a new Gender Equality Advisory Panel which will focus on achieving the 50 per cent representation target set by Victoria’s gender equality strategy Safe and Strong and delivering the reforms of the state’s new Gender Equality Act 2020.

The panel will include members from across the sector including LGPro and councillor representatives.

Mr Leane said the new Gender Equality Advisory Panel will be “full of experience and know-how”.

“It’s an important step towards achieving gender equity in councils by 2025 and one that will inspire a new generation of councillors,” he said.

The Local Government Act 2020 also promotes gender diversity with stronger action on sexual harassment and rules for councils to measure gender equality, diversity and inclusiveness in their workforce plans.

The nomination period for the 2020 Municipal Elections is from September 17–22.

Anyone wishing to nominate for Council should visit their local council or VEC website:



Victorian Electoral Commission


Enrol to vote now to exercise your entitlement


TIME IS running out to ensure you have your say at the upcoming municipal elections.

Election day is October 24 and the close of roll is 57 days prior.

The vote will be conducted as a postal election, with ballot packs being mailed to every enrolled voter in early October.

To vote in the council elections you must be enrolled by 4pm on Friday, August 28, 2020.

There are two categories of enrolment, either the State roll or the Council roll, called the “CEO’s list”.

The State Roll requires voters to be over 18 and an Australian citizen, the CEOs List is provided to give non-citizen ratepayers an entitlement to vote.

State enrolment

If you live in an electorate and are enrolled to vote in State elections at your current address, you are automatically enrolled to vote in that Council’s elections.

If you are an Australian citizen aged 18 years or over and you have lived in Victoria for at least one month, you will need to enrol with the Victorian Electoral Commission if you are not on the State electoral roll.

You can apply, check and amend your state enrolment details online at

Voting is compulsory for State-enrolled electors at Council elections.

Council enrolment

If you were on the last voters’ roll for your current municipality at the 2016 Council elections as a non-resident owner (and the circumstances of your enrolment have not changed), you may be automatically enrolled by council to vote at this year’s election.

You can apply to appear on the CEO’s List if you are aged 18 years or over, pay rates for a property within that municipality and are not otherwise entitled to vote in that municipality.

You have an automatic entitlement as a council-enrolled voter if you:

  • Own a property within a council but do not live in the area,
  • pay rates for a residence or a corporation in a council area.

You can apply to enrol if you:

  • Are not an Australian citizen, but you live and pay rates in a council, or
  • pay rates on a property you occupy and have no other entitlement to vote in the council, or
  • are a director or company secretary of a corporation that pays rates and have no other entitlement to vote in the council, or
  • are a ratepayer, you were not on the council roll at the 2016 council election and you are not on the State roll for that council area.

Check with your local council to apply, check and amend your council enrolment details.

For local council elections in October 2020, it is not compulsory for council-enrolled voters to vote, except in Melbourne City Council.

The introduction of the Local Government Act 2020 will make it compulsory for all types of voters, including council-enrolled voters, to vote in all municipal elections scheduled from October 2024.

Situation: Isolation

MELBOURNE returns to Stage 3 lockdown from midnight tonight (Wednesday, July 8) for a minimum of six weeks, as authorities attempt to curb the rising numbers of Coronavirus and avoid the numbers of infections and deaths that have been seen in other parts of the world.

The rules are mostly the same as in April-May, so we should be familiar with them, but as a reminder: Stage 3 restrictions mean we return to stay-at-home orders with only four reasons to leave home:

  • To buy food and other essential goods;
  • for mental and physical health, safety or compassionate reasons (i.e., to give or receive care);
  • for work or education;
  • for daily exercise.

In accordance with Stage 3 restrictions, unless it is for one of the four purposes listed above, the maximum number of visitors (people who do not usually reside there) you can have at your property is 0 (zero).

The number of people who can meet up in public is 2 (two) i.e. yourself and one other person; there are few exceptions to this, the most common exception is groups who usually reside together — such as family groups — but if you are out walking with your family, you will not be able to meet up with a person from outside your household.

The maximum group size of two also applies to organised outdoor bootcamp activities, [EDIT: the latest Health Department Directions state this means two plus the instructor], so one-on-two personal training along the river is back on the agenda for the time being.  [Note that Manningham Council has closed all of its sporting venues, both indoor and outdoor, to sports training, including boot camps]

The return to more stringent restrictions is also a big blow to local wedding venues, cafes, restaurants, hair and beauty salons and, of course grassroots sport.

Weddings are back down to the bare minimum of 5 (five), cafes and restaurants need to return to take-away only, which means from Wednesday Cocoa Moon, Now and Not Yet, Warrandyte Café and White Owl are again offering take away only.

Ember Dining will be offering its take away and essentials menu from Friday, July 10.

Unfortunately, this also puts a pause on our local pubs grand reopening and locals will have to endure another couple of months before they can have a glass of beer at the Grand Hotel.

Warrandyte Basketball Association made a decision on Monday evening to withdraw the Redbacks from a contracted EDJBA 2020 Season and have since suspended all competition and training for all three participation tiers within the club (Redbacks, Venom, Big V) until further notice.

Warrandyte Junior Football Club were excited about the restart of competition this Saturday but the 2020 YJFL 12 Round season has officially been postponed until further notice.

Term 3 is also looking a lot like Term 2, as of Monday, VCE students (Years 10, 11 and 12) will be back to face-to-face learning, whilst all other Grades have an additional week of school holidays as teachers prepare for the possibility of remote learning, once again.

With metro Melbourne locked down and escape to Regional Victoria or interstate a firm “no” for some time, it is likely — as seen previously — that families from inner Melbourne suburbs will flock to the greener fringes for their exercise, which means popular nature spots like the Warrandyte riverside, Westerfolds Park and the Main Yarra Trail are likely to be extremely busy.

What this will mean for Warrandytians is there will be cues at the cafés, bakeries and supermarkets, and the river will feel like Bourke Street.

At time of publication, there are 11 active cases of COVID-19 in Manningham and one case in Nillumbik.

Remember to adhere to the 1.5 metre physical distancing rule and to limit your risk of exposure to this extremely contagious virus.

The community of Warrandyte is a special place, with a community connected through community groups, clubs and businesses.

The next six weeks — and possibly longer – will be tough, but we are here to support each other.

Stay safe.

Crashes question road safety

Crashes question road safety



LOCAL TRUCK driver, Stephen Goldsworthy says “enough is enough” after being forced to swerve his delivery truck into a ditch to avoid head on collision on Brysons Road in late June.

“My truck is a write off,” he said.

He told the Diary he was driving along Brysons Road, when he saw another truck come towards him in the middle of the road

“It was speeding towards me as I came around the bend I had nowhere to go — I hit the wall and wrote off the truck.”

He said the other driver stopped briefly before driving off.

“If I had not driven my van into the [ditch], the van coming the other way would have hit me head on, it was on the wrong side of the road, and I suspect speeding.

“He would have known what had happened, and then he drove off.”

While he managed to walk away from the accident, he said he is disgusted with the state of Brysons Road.

“Brysons Road is a mess, a total mess,” he said.

He said with no footpath on Brysons Road, people have to walk on the road, there is nowhere for kids to ride their bikes on the way to school.

He also says the drains are more than half a metre deep in places,

“They have not been managed at all, the road often floods, because the drains are full of debris,” he said.

He also says that with trees only 30–40cm away from the road, the speed limits are inappropriate.

“I would be lucky to be doing 40 safely [given the condition of the road],” he said.

However, he is appalled that the road carries a Federal Black Spot sign only 150 metres from where the crash occurred, despite not having any substantial work done on it for the 12 years he has lived on that road, particularly as the road is currently carrying additional traffic as the Jumping Creek Road traffic is being detoured along that road.

He said that funding is given to projects in more populated areas but is not going where is it needed.

“Someone will die on that road before Christmas,” he said.

Stephen is calling for a public meeting to discuss what should be done, saying that “Council, State and Federal Government, along with VicRoads are not taking the safety of our local residents seriously”.

“Federal Government, VicRoads, Council, we don’t care who is responsible, we just want it fixed.


Taking care, taking responsibility

Meanwhile a woman who was seriously injured in a crash in January at Warrandyte Bridge is calling for changes on Research Road.

Ana Quine was trapped in her vehicle for several hours, broke several bones and received lacerations, when a truck collided with her car when its brakes failed coming down Research Road toward the bridge.

“I would like to see signs telling trucks to check their brakes, warning about the steep incline,” she said.

Her mother, Benita Quine says there has got to be more accountability and more policing, to get the message through, that it is not just road deaths that leave a lasting legacy on families.

“Ana’s life was saved, and we are very grateful.

“But they don’t see the result, she has a lifetime of injury because of someone not thinking, ‘oh should I check my brakes’; the police officer said the driver knew his brakes were failing, and he could have pulled over at some point,” Benita said.

Ana said she understands that change happens gradually.

“I would like to see small changes that would add up to something better, like warning signs on the road.”

She implored people to be aware while driving “not driving for yourself but for everyone around you”.

“You can’t predict when an animal is going to run out in front of you, but you can help yourself be able to react, by doing the speed limit and leaving your phone in the back seat — none of these things contributed to my accident, but there are just so many things people could be doing every single day, simple things that won’t be as inconvenient as you think, but something that could save someone’s life.

“I think a lot of people who drive by [an accident] are hoping that the person survives, but then the person surviving has to deal with surviving afterwards.

“Coming so close to not surviving is something that makes you feel very, very mortal,” Ana said.

Lions Park budget revealed as works commence

FOLLOWING our coverage last month of the Lions Park development, the Diary has now received detailed explanation from Angelo Kourambas, Director City Planning and Community, Manningham Council, on our requests for clarification.



Stage One of the Lions Park upgrade in the Warrandyte River Reserve includes construction of a new car park and new pedestrian paths, along with ramps and stairs, an upgrade of the existing shelter area and construction of a new picnic shelter area with a barbecue, drinking fountain and picnic table.

This stage will also include water sensitive urban design treatment garden beds, new open picnic and grassed areas, an animal rope crossing bridge over the road and the installation of new exercise equipment.


Budget and timing 

During 2019/20, Manningham Council has completed the detailed design, soil and geotechnical testing and a cultural heritage management plan for Stage One of the upgrade to Lions Park.

While Council initially hoped works would commence earlier in April 2020, this was delayed to June following an extended tender process.

As part of Council’s planning for this project and following initial works estimates, $410,000 was allocated in Council’s 2019/20 budget for the construction of Stage One with remaining funding to be allocated in 2020/21.

Following the detailed design and tender process, it was determined that the initial estimates for the construction of Stage One were under-priced according to current market values and the construction costs for this project were revalued.

Funding of $625,000 has been allocated in Council’s draft 2020/21 Annual Budget for the completion of Stage One, bringing the total funding allocated for Stage One to $1.035 million.

As we go to press, Council has finally released the minutes of the closed May meeting to decide the tender, and we can now see that JMAC Constructions Pty Ltd has now been awarded the contract for the Stage One works at a cost of $1.1M.

The minutes also reveal that the total cost of Stage One is $1.324M after including income from other sources.


Exercise equipment 

The Lions Club of Warrandyte initially approached Council to offer a contribution for exercise equipment in Warrandyte.

After careful review and consideration, Lions Park was chosen as the location and was approved as part of the endorsed masterplan.

Whilst an initial quotation for fitness equipment, in the region of $15,000, was obtained by the Lions Club, Council advise that it unfortunately did not meet or comply with safety standards; therefore alternative equipment has been sourced, as there are a range of safety standards and requirements for outdoor fitness equipment installed in open space areas.

The total cost of the exercise equipment including supply, installation and rubber surfacing is $52,000, of which $45,000 will be funded by the Lions Club and the remaining amount will be funded by Council.

Concern has been expressed in the community regarding the loss of the tennis courts, in that the static fitness equipment is not really a substitute for the courts in terms of provision for active facilities for the community.

It has been suggested that some sort of social sporting facility such as perhaps a bocce or petanque pitch is needed at this part of town.

Mr. Kourambas advises that the endorsed masterplan for Lions Park also includes open space areas suitable for outdoor exercise and has been designed following community consultation.

Whilst Council has not received any requests for bocce or petanque pitches or similar, this could be considered in the future.



The masterplan for Lions Park has a total of six barbecue burners across the space that are complemented by picnic facilities.

As part of Stage One of the upgrade, the existing shelter area will include a new accessible and Disability Discrimination Act compliant two burner barbecue and picnic facilities.

We are told that as well as retaining the existing shelter it is intended to repurpose parts of the existing four burner barbecue currently in this space.

We believe the intention is to reuse the surround bricks, which are engraved with the names of donors to the original bicentennial project, in the immediate area.


Stage Two budget and timing 

Stage Two of the Lions Park upgrade will include the playspace as well as an additional shelter, barbecue and picnic facilities.

Funded separately in 2021/22, Council has provisionally allocated $700,000 in its four-year capital works program for Stage Two of the Lions Park upgrade.

This allocation will be reviewed and reassessed once the final detailed design is developed.

Crackdown on community transmission

THE AUSTRALIAN Coronavirus battleground is squarely located in Melbourne.

June 22 was meant to bring everyone closer to a state where we can go down to the local for a pot and a parma, but a steady increase in the number of new cases in Victoria — and specifically in Melbourne — saw new cases hit triple figures on the first weekend in July with 108 new cases reported on Saturday.

The State Government has now enforced Stage 3 restrictions (the same as we all lived under through April/May) in 10 metro-Melbourne postcodes in the north and west of Melbourne and has instigated full lockdowns in nine public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne.

At Saturday’s press conference, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews likened the spread, and the authorities’ response to COVID-19, to bushfire.

“The close confines and the shared community spaces within these large apartment blocks means this virus can spread like wildfire.

“And just like fire, we need to put a perimeter around it to stop it from spreading.”

As we go to press, the reality of these new lockdowns for affected Melbournians is only just coming to light.

Manningham and Nillumbik are a long way away from the threat of similar lockdowns being imposed, however, there are a very small number of active cases in Manningham and surrounding municipalities so the situation in the north and the west is a glimpse into what could be if we become complacent.

The uptick in cases and the Government’s response also falls during the school break and will mean, for many, yet another school holiday period spent at home.

The national response to Victoria’s COVID-19 resurgence has been to close the borders.

In an early morning conference call on July 6, the Victorian and NSW Premiers and the Prime Minister agreed that the border between NSW and Victoria is to be closed for the first time in 100 years, which now means that as of midnight July 7 there is no travel in either direction across the Murray.

South Australia’s border has remained closed since March, which has seen tension in cross-border communities.

Tasmania, Western Australia and Northern Territory are also closed to Victorians, unless granted an exception or spending 14 days in quarantine.

Queensland has stated that Victorians from COVID-19 hotspots are unable to travel to that state, but as of July 3, Queensland considers all 79 Local Government Areas within Victoria as hotspots.

Local impact

For communities outside the hotspots, the restrictions reintroduced on June 22 are in place until at least July 12 and restrict the number of people you can have in your home and the size of social groups in public places.

Under the current restrictions, in a home, excepting the people who usually reside there, a household is allowed up to five additional guests.

This includes both indoor and outdoor spaces on the property and whilst guests can stay the night, the limit of five people needs to be adhered to.

In public spaces, groups are limited to a maximum of 10 people.

Businesses such as cafes and restaurants remain open but are currently limited to a maximum of 20 people, in compliance with the four-square-metre (4m2) rule, and gyms and yoga studios have also reopened, although classes are limited to a maximum of 10 participants, plus the instructor and any other required support staff.

General multi-use areas, such as the gym floor are limited to 20 people, in compliance with the 1.5 metre and the 4m2 rules.

There is good news for junior sport, the 2020 Junior grassroots footy season is scheduled to begin on July 12.

For community sport and recreation that takes place outside of a sporting facility (such as bush walking and mountain biking on local trails), groups are limited to 10 people who do not normally reside together and it is prohibited for a group to organise to have two (or more) parties of 10 to meet for a common purpose.

Basketball may also make a late return this year, Warrandyte Basketball Association (WBA) spoke to the Diary about the measures the club is taking to make a return to play possible.

“Warrandyte Basketball is excited about the return of basketball.

“We are working with Basketball Victoria, YMCA and local government to ensure the health and safety of our basketball community is prioritised whilst getting players back on the court.

“To help us implement return to basketball health and safety protocols we are actively recruiting Biosafety Officers.

“We are waiting for confirmed dates for the return of competition from EDJBA and Basketball Victoria.”

Since mid-May, The Grand Warrandyte has been closed, preparing for a return to business and finishing work on its new beer garden.

The Diary spoke with Manager Peter Appleby about the mechanics of the proposed re-opening on July 16.

“We will open the public bar first, utilising the old and new area and the outdoor area once completed.

“Table service is defined as consuming a drink and meal at a table with no vertical drinking — guests can order at the bar but must return to their table.

“However, there is no requirement to order food anymore.

“Guests are most welcome to treat the public bar as a public bar, and come in for a cold beer without a meal,” he said.

Unlike other venues across Australia which introduced mandatory booking post-COVID, Peter says booking is not required to enjoy The Grand, once it reopens.

“With opening the public bar in Stage One, this will be on a first in best dressed basis as a continuation of what we have done in the past,” he said.

The new outdoor beer garden is nearing completion and with concrete pouring taking place in early July, Peter and the team are looking forward to welcoming patrons back into The Grand.

“We look forward to seeing our loyal customers returning and meeting new customers too.

“We have the safety of our staff and customers as our priority and we ask for patience from our customers as we adhere to the new rules and patron limits.

“With the inclusion of our new outdoor space, we welcome everybody to come in and check it out and tell their friends and family.

“We have had an overwhelming amount of support over the past three months with emails and messages and we look forward to reconnecting with everybody once we are permitted to open our doors,” he said.

Bramleigh Estate owner, Mary-Anne Lowe has also been awaiting some much-needed good news from the government.

At the moment weddings are still limited to 20 guests, plus the couple, plus the celebrant, which is having a huge financial impact on the wedding industry.

Ms Lowe recently contacted Member for Croydon David Hodgett about the distress the Wedding industry is facing about a lack of a road-map for the wedding industry to reach a state of COVID-Normal.

The local arts community is also taking the first tentative steps to a return to normal.

After closing in March, The Stonehouse Gallery on Yarra Street reopened its doors to the public on July 1.

Beatrix Mol, a member of the artist collective who run the space, spoke to the Diary about their decision to reopen.

“The 18 Stonehouse member artists have been busy behind the scenes in their studios creating exciting new artworks ready for the reopening.

“We have a large community of artists and makers who also have their work in the gallery and they have been bringing in their new work the past few weeks.

“It was decided six weeks ago that we would reopen on July 1 and the gallery will be showcasing the fabulous new work of our makers that has been created during the COVID-19 closure.

“We are so grateful to have had wonderful support on our social media and from our local community.

“Our following has increased even though the gallery has been closed this past three months.

“We are very thankful to our wonderful landlords who have been incredibly supportive and made this transition much easier,” she said.

The gallery has hand sanitisation stations, directional arrows (similar to Quinton’s IGA) and are stating a preference for contactless payment.

The gallery is open Wednesday–Sunday, 11am–4pm.


Working together

The COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving and it is imperative that we work together, as a community, to make sure we all get through 2020 with our health and our local businesses intact.

The Premier has made it explicitly clear when he told the media half the numbers are being transmitted during family get-togethers where attendees are not following the advice around distancing and hygiene.

“You can see how this could happen — people feeling relaxed at home, letting their guard down, letting old habits creep back.

“But we are still in a pandemic — and people’s lives are still at risk,” said Mr Andrews.

The latest developments demonstrate how contagious this virus is and the consequences of complacency.

The roadmap to COVID-Normal means finding a path to something resembling life before COVID-19 but we may never be COVID-Free which means the intimacy and proximity we used to practice openly may, very well, be a thing of the past.


Feedback wanted on Nillumbik Draft Housing Strategy

Nillumbik Shire Council has released a Draft Housing Strategy which will help shape how Council responds to housing needs across the Shire for the next 15 years.
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan said the draft strategy aims to ensure the housing needs of the Shire can be met now and into the future.
The draft notes:

“Nillumbik is predicted to be the lowest growth municipality in metropolitan Melbourne, both in terms of the proportion of growth and absolute numbers, with 0.4 per cent annual population growth (6,140 additional people between 2016 and 2036).
This compares to a city-wide average annual growth rate of 1.6 per cent.
The Nillumbik community is ageing.
By 2036 Nillumbik will have a significant proportion of one and two person households, comprising mainly empty nesters and retirees.
In particular Nillumbik will have significantly more people aged over 70 than is the case today.”

Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan said this strategy aims to ensure Nillumbik’s housing needs are met now and in the future.

“This strategy outlines a range of housing for all of our residents, including our ageing population and those with special needs.
“But, importantly, it also seeks to protect the Shire’s valued rural and neighbourhood characteristics and unique green wedge for future generations.
“Significant consolidation of housing is only proposed in the Eltham and Diamond Creek Major Activity Centres, where Council is expected, by State Government policy, to consolidate housing due to the easy, walkable access in these centres to shops, public transport and services.
“I encourage the community to provide feedback on this critical strategy,” Cr Egan said.

The Draft Housing Strategy is seeking feedback from residents and those with a vested interest in the Shire between now and June 29.
A copy of the draft document along with additional information is available via Council’s participate website.
Council is also holding a series of online Q&A sessions, where registered participants can discuss their questions/concerns with council officers.
These sessions are limited to 10 participants per session (excluding council officers) and are currently scheduled for the following dates:

11am, Wednesday, June 17.
2:30pm, Friday, June 19.
7pm, Tuesday, June 23.
1pm, Wednesday, June 24.

Those wishing to participate in the sessions, or supply feedback to the Draft Housing Strategy should visit:

Bike path plans put residents in a spin

PLANNING FOR THE final stages of the bicycle path to connect Warrandyte to the Main Yarra Trail is underway.

Manningham Council is currently planning for a new shared bicycle path to connect Pound Road to Taroona Avenue in Warrandyte, with a final leg taking the path from Warrandyte High School to the junction with the Main Yarra Trail at Beasley’s Nursery.

Angelo Kourambas, Director City Planning and Community told the Diary, the path would complete the Main Yarra Trail connection to Warrandyte.

“This was identified as one of the top 10 trail connections in the Eastern Regional Trails Strategy 2018, which Manningham is a partner Council,” Mr Kourambas said.

He said it is also Council’s commitment to deliver key objectives of the Manningham Bicycle Strategy 2013.

However, locals have safety concerns over the chosen route for the Pound Bend to Taroona Avenue.

The proposed alignment of the new shared path includes a new off-road shared path and an on-road trail connection along an existing service lane, located off Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road ending at West End Road.

Residents who reside along the Heidelberg Road service lane are unhappy that the path will bring large numbers of bicycles along their narrow service lane.

Dr Abdul Qader, contacted the Diary on behalf of the residents after they received a letter from Manningham City Council regarding the bike trail extension.

“The residents of the service road totally reject this plan, mainly on safety grounds.

In a letter, signed by all the residents along the service road, which was sent to the Manningham Council Planning Department, the residents outlined their objections.

“Our service road will be subject to accident/collisions if this goes ahead.

Our driveways are built in such a way that we have to reverse our cars to go out and with bikes it would definitely become too hazardous.

So our driveways would have to be redesigned if this plan stands, if so who would bear the cost?”

MP Ryan Smith spoke to Council on the residents’ behalf and received the following statement from Council:

“The roadway itself is a quiet Council owned service lane that currently facilitates vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

Having said that, Council acknowledges that the service lane could be improved with such works potentially incorporated into the project scope.

Council will consider all submissions before confirming next steps with the community.

This is only a conceptual alignment at this stage.

Council will ensure resident concerns have been considered and where appropriate, changes can be made to strengthen the design.”

The group has suggested keeping the path on the main road, rather than on the service road, or to reroute the path along Pound Road to the riverside.

“The latter option would serve better as all bike riders would enjoy the Warrandyte scenic beauty rather than our residential houses,” the residents’ letter stated.

Dr Qader said the residents were not rejecting the whole plan.

“The overall scheme is plausible, but the diversion from the main road to our service road is absolutely unacceptable when there are a couple of alternatives available,” he said.

Mr Kourambas said Council is currently assessing feedback received from local residents on the proposed alignment of this section of the trail.

“The detailed design process for the proposed on-road trail connection would consider safety for all road users including cyclists, pedestrians and motorists along with resident feedback,” he said.

Mr Kourambas said a final detailed design for the trail connection is anticipated to be completed during 2020/21 and works on the path are planned for 2021/22.

The completed trail should eventually join into another proposed bike path to extend the Yarra River trail from Taroona Reserve, up Taroona Avenue.

The Taroona Avenue extension was originally planned in 2018, however this seems to have been shelved for the moment.

Fire service shake up begins in July

CHANGES ARE afoot for our fire services, with paid members of the Country Fire Authority (CFA) to merge with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) to form Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) as of July 1.

FRV brings together all career firefighters — MFB and CFA staff — to serve Melbourne and major regional centres.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville said: “Our career and volunteer firefighters are the best in the world and our reforms are providing a more modern career firefighting organisation alongside a strengthened, community-based volunteer organisation.”

Member for Eastern Metropolitan, Sonja Terpstra told the Diary nothing is changing for Volunteer brigades, who will remain with the CFA.

She said the Government is “giving CFA the support it needs to continue to develop and build its proud and passionate volunteer base”.

FRV will cover the existing metropolitan fire area and has been expanded to include additional suburban areas and regional cities, until now, covered by the CFA’s 38 integrated stations.

Locally, South Warrandyte and Eltham are both integrated stations, who have both paid and volunteer firefighters, who work together with neighbouring CFA brigades to respond to emergencies.

Captain of Warrandyte Fire Brigade, Adrian Mullens told the Diary that at this stage, there has been little operational change information released.

“However, our members continue to remain positive and 100 per cent committed to our community.

“Our volunteers have been as active as ever with expanded efforts in online training, participating in community initiatives as well as maintaining station and vehicle maintenance schedules,” said Captain Mullens.

He said Warrandyte CFA have an “extremely successful working relationship with CFA career staff and MFB, we don’t believe this will change”.

Captain Mullens assured the Diary the Warrandyte community need not worry.

“In the event of an emergency, the community will still receive the same standards of excellence in response from Warrandyte CFA in conjunction with Fire Rescue Victoria.

“Our volunteers are ready and waiting to respond to the pager.”

Lieutenant Peter Cahill of Noth Warrandyte CFA said his brigade does not envisage any significant changes to the way they do business.

“We have always maintained a high level of community engagement, assistance and response and this will [continue to] be delivered,” he said.

Volunteers from the integrated station at South Warrandyte declined to comment on the changes, saying it is too early to tell what impact the largest changes in the history of the CFA will bring for volunteers, except to say that it will be operating as “business as usual” and to reassure the community that they will still be there when needed.

Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith called on the Government to guarantee that “volunteers at integrated stations are treated and valued as an integral part of the Brigade”.

However, Mr Smith said concerns were raised that the changes to the fire service would result in a reduction of volunteers.

“Over the past five years there has been a reduction of 5,000 in the number of CFA volunteers,” he said.

However, Government figures suggest that as at June 2019, CFA had over 54,000 volunteer members, encompassing operational and support.

More than 34,000 of these volunteers are operational, and the number of these that are active — available to turn out and fight fires — has remained stable at approximately 20,000 volunteers for any of the past five years

Lt Cahill said North Warrandyte is currently in the process of recruiting new members and says the enthusiastic response and applicant quality has been outstanding.

“In fact, this year will probably be the highest recruit intake for our Brigade in more than 10 years,” he said.

He said the brigade’s current surge capacity is strong, recently proven by a significant commitment of members deploying on Strike Teams both in regional Victoria and interstate.

“During the last fire season we were able to fill both deployment requirements and local commitments with excellent results,” Lt Cahill said.

This may not continue, as a CFA member told the Diary that processing recruits has been difficult during the COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite a surge in volunteer inquiries following the recent bushfires, applications are not being processed as head office staff work from home, and recruit training has been put on hold.

He said that could be “catastrophic” for the future of many volunteer brigades.

Ryan Smith is also concerned that the training for volunteers could be compromised.

“[Volunteer training] has been an issue for the last few years and, with control of the training passing to FRV, it is vitally important that all firefighters are trained to the highest standard,” he said.

Ms Neville stated the changes recognise the changing nature of population growth across Victoria.

FRV will cover existing MFB boundaries and serve metropolitan Melbourne, outer urban areas and larger regional centres across Victoria.

Boundaries will be altered to reflect population growth across the State — the current boundaries have been in place for more than 60 years.

Lt Cahill said FRV reforms will allow CFA to become a stand-alone, truly volunteer organisation.

“This will give us more autonomy, control and the direction of our service,” he said

Fire Service Levy changes

The Fire Services Property Levy rate will be reduced on residential properties across the state as part of an overhaul that will make the charge simpler and more consistent — and reflect the establishment of Fire Rescue Victoria.

As part of Coronavirus measures, the Victorian Government froze the Fire Services Property Levy (FSPL) collection levels.

The levy will be frozen at this year’s collection level for next financial year as a measure designed to support Victorians affected by the crisis.

The Government also announced it will create a consistent, state-wide FSPL.

Member for Eastern Metropolitan Melbourne, Sonja Terpstra said this is a common-sense change that recognises fire touches all Victorians — and that we all benefit from a well-resourced fire service.

“Longer and hotter summers and more intense fires are the new normal in Victoria.

“We’re making sure the men and women who keep us safe from these fires have the resources they need,” she said.

State Treasurer, Tim Pallas, said under the new streamlined system, property owners will no longer pay higher contributions depending on the location of their property.

From July, all residential properties in Victoria will see a fall in their FSPL rate, while all other properties — such as industrial or commercial properties — in the old CFA district will either see no increase, or a decrease in their rate.

The fixed levy will be indexed in accordance with the legislation.

Ms Terpstra said the vast majority of property owners will see a decrease in their rate, while for others, the change will be very modest.

The total FSPL levy charge will remain around $150 for a typical metropolitan residence, while a family home in regional Victoria will see a small fall in the FSPL, from around $141 to $137.

Non-residential properties in the old MFB area will see a modest increase in the levy — with an extra $1 per week for a typical small business, through to around an extra $15.50 per week ($806 per year) for a $10 million commercial property.

Mr Smith said many businesses are already struggling due to Coronavirus.

“With businesses largely and adversely impacted from the current pandemic, any additional cost will be very difficult to bear, including a rise in the Fire Services Levy”.


Prepare now to reduce bushfire risk


THE BRIDGE widening has been completed, but does that mean authorities think they have solved Warrandyte’s fire danger situation?

We hope not.

With winter approaching and all available resources consumed with tackling COVID-19, perhaps fire danger is not high on anybody’s radar.

But surly now is the time to be preparing in advance of the next fire season?

However, the Fire Danger Rating sign stands silently at the north end of the bridge, still out of operation, and if works are not commenced soon it will again fail to advise us of the danger levels come next fire season.

Meanwhile, the “No Burning Off” Fire Danger Period sign remains on display, even as we move into winter, a forgotten memento of summer.

After weeks of being told in November last year that Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) were awaiting a part to repair the electronic Fire Danger Rating sign, we were finally advised in January that the sign could not be repaired at its current location due to safety issues with an overhead high-voltage cable and that EMV were working with Nillumbik council to determine a new location for the sign.

The Diary has followed up with EMV and with Nillumbik to see what has been decided.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp tells us “EMV is committed to operationalising the Fire Danger Rating sign at Warrandyte and continues to meet with Nillumbik Council and CFA to seek agreement on an alternative location before the next fire season.”

Carl Cowie, Chief Executive Officer Nillumbik Council, tells the Diary “Council, along with the CFA and Emergency Management Victoria are working to resolve this issue as a priority.

“At present contractors cannot access and fix the sign due to safety issues following the bridge widening but Council, the CFA and EMV are writing to the Department of Transport requesting a solution as soon as possible.”

So it is incumbent on us to ensure we have multiple sources of information.

The sign is a great resource when it works, so it is best for all that we agitate for its repair, but there are other ways to find out: use the Vic Emergency App, radio, or internet sources (the Diary’s website displays the current fire danger rating during fire season, as does Be Ready Warrandyte).

One of the criticisms that has been levelled at the current fire danger ratings system, both on social media and in letters to the Diary, is that the Central District is far too large and that these signs can often show a far higher rating than is applicable locally.

This has led to a few people leaving Warrandyte on Severe days in summer when in fact the conditions locally were at a much lower rating.

This could lead to complacency, and a lack of trust in the warnings, when local weather fails to live up to the forecasts.

We put this concern to EMV and Commissioner Crisp advised: “Victoria is supporting a review into the National Fire Danger Rating System along with the Commonwealth and all States and Territories.

“A key stage of the National Fire Danger Rating project has focused on reviewing the science and models behind fire danger ratings to help us to more accurately predict fire danger.

“To contribute to this review, a nation-wide community research piece was completed recently to help us to better understand how the community understands and responds to fire danger ratings and warnings provided by the emergency services.

“We will continue to work with our partner agencies across Australia to consider how we can use the evidence and models arising from this work in Victoria in due course; and are committed to using the best evidence and approaches available to keep Victorians safe.”

If there was consultation, we are yet to find anyone who has been consulted.

Dick Davies, chair of Be Ready Warrandyte (BRW) told the Diary: “we are not aware of any ‘nationwide community research’ and BRW has not made a submission.”

BRW have had a highly active community education program with forums and scenarios encouraging residents to be fire-aware and have a plan, so hopefully Warrandyte is better informed than other parts of the state.

A 2018 survey commissioned by the CFA, reported on by The Guardian in May 2020, found that before last year’s catastrophic fire season, some Victorians at ‘extreme’ risk had unrealistic expectations of help.

Residents in Victorian towns at highest risk of bushfire went into the most recent bushfire season — which was unprecedented in intensity and devastation — with many believing firefighting aircraft and vehicles would save them if their lives and property were under threat.

The emergency services will always do their utmost to protect lives and property, but when all worst-case scenarios are surpassed, there is no certainty they can be everywhere at once.

The best advice is to plan on not being there when the fire comes — leave early — and always, always, have a Plan B.

Even though it is now winter, this is the time to be planning for the next fire season and to be getting the necessary signage and advice in place.



Date set for October municipal elections

THE 2020 MUNICIPAL elections are set for Saturday, October 24, 2020, as announced by Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek on May 15.

Mr Somyurek also announced that this election will be conducted entirely by postal vote.

This will be the first time postal voting will be used by all Victorian councils.

Voters, councils and the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) have been awaiting a decision by the Minster after the Local Government Act 2020 came into effect earlier this year.

The Chief Health Officer has advised the Government that it is safe for a postal election to occur this year.

The 2020 council elections are expected to be Victoria’s biggest election ever, with over 4.5 million voters enrolled and over 2,000 candidates expected to contest.

Mr Somyurek said it was every Victorian’s right to have a say on who represents them.

“Victorians have the right to a democratic say on who represents them at all levels of government.

“By making every vote a postal vote, we’re ensuring this vital democratic process is conducted in a safe manner that also allows for the participation of more voters,” he said.

VEC Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately AM acknowledged the announcement.

“The upcoming local government elections in Victoria will support continuity of democratic representation for Victorian communities,” Mr Gately said.

“The VEC will continue to monitor and implement advice issued by the Chief Health Officer of Victoria to ensure the elections are conducted with minimal risk to the health and safety of Victorians.”

The VEC is also taking additional measures to protect the health and wellbeing of its staff, the candidates and the public.

This includes provisions to maintain physical distancing requirements and hygiene standards at all election offices and count locations.

It is anticipated the adjustments will extend the time period for finalising results by one week.

Ballot packs will be mailed to voters and will include voting instructions, candidate information, a ballot paper, and a reply-paid envelope.

Postal voting is a secret ballot and the voter’s choices are anonymous.

The VEC reiterated the importance of making sure all those who are eligible confirm they are enrolled.

Voters must confirm they are enrolled on either the State electoral roll or their council roll before 4pm on Friday, August 28.

Voting is compulsory for all voters on the State roll electoral roll, and those who don’t vote may be fined.

The State Government also indicated voting packs would contain longer candidate statements, in acknowledgement of the strict physical distancing measures which are in place.

Candidates will also be given guidance on suitable and safe campaigning methods.

The State Government is also investing an additional $50,000 to encourage more women to run as councillors in the 2020 municipal elections.

Mr Somyurek has also sought advice to inform Ministerial guidelines to ensure councils provide more flexibility to support and encourage women to serve as councillors.

“We’re supporting more women to run for local government and be successful in the 2020 elections as we take another step towards the goal of gender equality by 2025,” he said.

With Councils being converted to Single Member Ward structures across the country, the 2020 election is certainly going to be interesting, but at least both members of the public and those responsible for organising the election now know when and how it is going to happen.

Can you vote?

Following the last municipal election, candidate Stella Yee challenged the results of Manningham’s Koonung Ward election when, she contended, the advice given to prospective voters around non-citizen voting was unclear.

As reported in the June 2017 Diary, Ms Yee challenged the results of the election, on the grounds the Ward’s non-citizen ratepayers were not properly informed on their right to vote in the election, based on advertisements run in the Manningham Leader and the Age.

At that time, then Manningham Council CEO, Warwick Winn issued a statement saying, “Magistrate Smith found the VEC ‘effectively failed to properly inform, or may have misled, non-resident ratepayers’ as to their eligibility to enrol to vote,” he said.

Mr Winn said Magistrate Smith also found the numbers of non-resident ratepayers who were prevented or disenfranchised from taking part in the election were significant enough that their inclusion in the election process potentially could have affected the outcome of the election.

This decision was later overturned on appeal by VCAT, who found that while the contentious advertisement did not provide a comprehensive description of the enrolment process, the notice did inform every category of voter how they could apply to enrol, and as such the notice fulfilled the requirements of the Act.

With a 2020 election date now set, Ms Yee is on a mission to ensure all those who are entitled to vote, can, given the number of “disenfranchised” voters at the 2016 Municipal Election may have changed the outcome, if they had voted.

“In 2016, I ran as a candidate for Manningham City Council.

“In the process, I discovered a whole group of voters who were not aware of their entitlement to vote in local council elections, and were therefore disenfranchised.

“This group of potential voters comprised residents of the municipality who were ratepayers in Manningham, but not Australian citizens.”

As outlined in the May 2020 Warrandyte Diary article Who can vote in the 2020 election?, whilst it is compulsory for Australian citizens to vote, non-citizen ratepayers and nominees of businesses which also pay rates within a municipality may also be entitled to vote, although it is not mandatory.

The specifics on non-citizen and business ratepayers voting is complex (see the May Diary or the VEC website for full details), but broadly, if you pay rates in a municipality, you can vote in that municipality.

“If you are in this category of ratepayers and you would like to exercise your right to vote in the upcoming council elections, you will need to go to your council office to enrol to be on the CEO’s List of Voters by August 28, 2020,” said Ms Yee.

August 28 is 57 days before the election, this is the Entitlement Date, which is the last date in which those who are eligible to vote (either optional or compulsory) must ensure they are on the appropriate voting roll, to participate in the 2020 municipal election.

Australian Citizens who will turn 18 before Election Day can enrol via the VEC website.



New ward structure for Manningham Council


MANNINHAM COUNCIL will have nine wards, instead of three, at the next local election.

Manningham Council announced the changes today, requesting input from the community regarding the names of the nine new wards.

Council had to submit the suggested name changes by May 21 and set up a Your Say page to include Manningham residents in the process.

The ward changes were announced by Minister of Local Government, Adem Somyurek on April 22.

Manningham joins nine other councils across Victoria who will not only have a new council in October, but a new representational structure.

Representational structure has been a topic of debate in the last 12 months, firstly with debate over making all local councils single member wards or single ward representation in early drafts of recently assented Local Government Act 2020, and during representational reviews conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) in 2019.

Given Manningham has just finished a representational review, and — along with many other councils — objected to the requirement to become a single member wards council, it is a shock that this change has taken place.

Manningham Mayor, Paul McLeish said: “Our existing ward boundaries have been changed by the Victorian Government despite the Electoral Representation Review, conducted last year by the Victorian Electoral Commission, recommendation to stay with the current three multi councillor wards.”

In early April, the VEC announced their representational reviews were ceasing as part of the new Local Government Act 2020.

When the changes to local government structure were announced on April 22, Mr Somyurek said: “Single member wards support accountability, equity and grassroots democracy.

“This is about giving people more confidence in local government, because strong councils build strong communities.”

It is perplexing why the Minister has decided to take this action, given that there was such obvious opposition to a single member ward system in Manningham, supported by the 2019 VEC representational review which states in its final report that:

“There was also unanimous support for retaining a multi-councillor ward arrangement for Manningham City Council.

“The VEC’s analysis, along with submissions from the community and the Council, indicate that the current electoral structure is functioning well and suits the diverse landscape and demography of the local council.”

The Diary asked the State Government why Mr Somyurek decided to change the ward structure in Manningham when there was clear support for the status quo from both residents and council in recent reviews.

Unfortunately, the Government avoided to respond to the direct question, instead supplying the Diary with background information stating that a single member ward structure is the “preference” under the Local Government Act 2020.

In early May, when Manningham first put out the request for ward names, a number of residents commented on the Diary’s Facebook page that they would prefer a ward name that reflects the Indigenous heritage of the area.

A sentiment reflected by local historian and Birrarung Stories columnist Jim Poulter, who told the Diary:

“This actually creates an opportunity to reflect our history and heritage in the names of the new wards.

“This is not going to occur by just holding a popularity contest where residents come up with random names,” he said.

Mr Poulter suggested that the following principles should be applied to the choice of names:

The names chosen should reflect both our Aboriginal and settler heritages in reasonable balance.

The names should reflect direct connection with each of the nine wards.

The names chosen should not be those of civic figures from the 20th century.

The names of any early settlers chosen should be free of the stain of antagonism toward Aboriginal people.

Mr Poulter has also submitted for consideration a suite of names for the new wards that illustrate the breadth of both Indigenous and colonial heritage in the area.

The final decision on the nine new ward names is in the hands of the Minster for Local Government, Adem Somyurek so we will have to wait until nearer the local election in October to see what Manningham’s new wards will be known as.


New ward structure for Manningham Council

MANNINGHAM COUNCIL will have nine wards, instead of three, at the next local election.
Manningham Council announced the changes today, requesting input from the community regarding the names of the nine new wards.
Council has to submit the suggested name changes by May 21, through Manningham’s Your Say website.
The changes were announced by Minister of Local Government, Adem Somyurek on April 22.
Manningham joins nine other councils across Victoria who will not only have a new council in October, but a new representational structure.
Representational structure has been a topic of debate in the last 12 months, firstly with debate over making all local councils single member wards or single ward representation in early drafts of recently assented Local Government Act 2020 and during representational reviews conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) in 2019.
Given Manningham has just finished a representational review, and – along with many other councils — objected to the requirement to become a single member wards council, it is a shock that this change has taken place.
Manningham Mayor, Paul McLeish said: “Our existing ward boundaries have been changed by the Victorian Government despite the Electoral Representation Review, conducted last year by the Victorian Electoral Commission, recommendation to stay with the current three multi councillor wards,”
In early April, the VEC announced their representational reviews were being wound-up as part of the new Local Government Act 2020.
When the changes to local government structure were announced on April 22, Mr Somyurek said:

“Single member wards support accountability, equity and grassroots democracy.
“This is about giving people more confidence in local government, because strong councils build strong communities.”

It is perplexing why the Minister has decided to take this action, given that there was such obvious opposition to a single member ward system in Manningham, supported by the 2019 VEC representational review which states in its final report that:

“There was also unanimous support for retaining a multi-councillor ward arrangement for Manningham City Council.
“The VEC’s analysis, along with submissions from the community and the Council, indicate that the current electoral structure is functioning well and suits the diverse landscape and demography of the local council.”

However, with the new structure now coming into effect in October, Cr McLeish is encouraging all businesses, residents and community groups within the municipality to have a say on what the mandated new nine wards will be called.

“The Minister has now given us just a couple of weeks to provide a list of ward names for Manningham.
“We want everyone in our community to share their suggestions into what our wards should be named.
“I encourage everyone to think about what represents your local area in Manningham and make a name suggestion before 21 May.
“We will then put a recommendation to the Minister for names of the nine new Manningham wards, which will come into effect at the next Council elections in October this year,” Cr McLeish said.

The Diary will have more on this story in its mid-month bulletin and in the June edition of the Warrandyte Diary.
In the meantime, head to Manningham’s Your Say page
to have your say on what our nine new wards are to be named.
Submissions will close at 12noon on Thursday 21 May 2020.