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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
By DAVID HOGG
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.
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
By JAMES POYNER
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.
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.
TRAVELLERS between Wonga Park and Warrandyte now have an extra 10km added to their journey times as the first stage of construction of the road upgrade has now commenced.
Work started on April 21 with a 350 metre stretch of road between Potters Cottage and Nelson Drive closed to through traffic, and diversions will remain in place until complete, which is currently scheduled for end of August.
The diversion route is lengthy, and involves a 10km detour along Ringwood-Warrandyte, Croydon, Wonga, Brysons and Yarra Roads.
There will be access through the works for emergency vehicles at all times, and access for residents within the work zone will be allowed for most of the time.
This is a continuation of Stage 1A of this massive project which will eventually rebuild the entire length of Jumping Creek Road from Ringwood-Warrandyte Road through to Homestead Road.
Stage 1A commenced over a year ago with some minor works including the relocation of electricity, gas and water lines.
These works will involve removing the existing road pavement in order to significantly lower part of the road to improve sightlines for road users, new drainage infrastructure including pits, pipes, kerb and channel, retaining walls, safety barriers, a pedestrian path and landscaping.
But those living along the diversion route have expressed their concern on Facebook about the extra traffic and the speed with which it travels.
Leanne Torpey, who lives on a bend in Brysons Rd close to a blind corner posted a video showing the new traffic problems and received over a hundred comments and replies.
Most of these were supportive but, as is typical with Facebook, a few were abusive with one respondent suggesting “You’ve clearly bought on a blind corner, therefore it’s your issue” missing the fact that some of these people have been there for 25 or more years and the traffic was not an issue when they bought.
Kerrie Reid posted “Sadly the last 48 hours has seen a HUGE increase in the amount of traffic on Brysons Road upon the closure of Jumping Creek Rd.
“It’s like the Monaco GP has been relocated to Brysons Rd — not just for the day, but for months!”
Fiona Jane agreed, “Totally ridiculous that all the traffic is being diverted down Brysons which is narrow and winding with broken edges.
“Traffic should be going down Yarra Rd — wider, straighter and can carry the traffic load.”
A number of people have commented on the fact that Brysons Rd has a number of horse properties and there have been a few near misses with fast cars trying to overtake slow horse floats.
Leanne Torpey spoke to the Diary and told us that residents had received advice about the diversions from Manningham Council only a couple of weeks in advance, which was too late for residents to make submissions to the next council meeting.
“Cyclists are now riding along the footpath because the road is too dangerous” she told us.
She has been trying to get the speed limit on Brysons Rd changed from 60 km/h to 50 km/h for the duration of the diversions.
However the Department of Transport has told her that they can’t change the speed limit as that requires the approval of Manningham Council.
Manningham Council has told us that it “has not proposed any changes to speed limits along the detour routes and any proposed speed limit changes would require Department of Transport approval.”
The original Jumping Creek Road Development Framework was endorsed by Manningham Council in 2016 and arose because between January 2009 and December 2013, a total of 17 crashes resulting in casualties were reported at Jumping Creek Road, including one fatal crash.
Rachelle Quattrocchi, Director City Services at Manningham Council, told the Diary, “The Jumping Creek Road project aims to improve safety for all road users and upgrade the infrastructure of the road in a way that that supports the local area.
“The works underway between Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and Nelson Drive form part of stage 1 of the project and are the first step of the upgrade of this important local road in Manningham.
“The design for future stages is currently in development with further consultation planned in early 2021.”
Safety push for Research-Warrandyte Road
By DAVID HOGG
AS MENTIONED in our February edition, Ben Ramcharan, Australian Greens candidate for Warrandyte, together with local residents Renee Peta and Simone Mariani had written to VicRoads, State MPs and MLCs, and local councillors and mayors calling for improved road safety for local residents, road users and pedestrians following a number of serious accidents on the road.
In mid-April, Mr Ramcharan posted on Facebook that they had just heard that the Department of Transport (DoT) will continue to work with both Nillumbik Council and Victoria Police to determine the need to implement road safety improvements in the area.
“This is a great win for our community but it’s important to keep the pressure up.
“What we’ve had now is an acknowledgement from the department that they’ve heard us.
“Let’s keep pushing; our community deserves to be safe and I know this is something that can be achieved,” he said.
The post has resulted in over 30 varied and differing comments.
Matthew Magilton was sceptical.
“I think the DoT borrowed from one of Utopia’s scripts; promising substantially nothing but using warm and glowing terms.”
Cathie Joywanted to see the speed limit on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road lowered, whereas Robyn Galley suggested that returning the speed limit to 80 km/h on Research-Warrandyte Road would be a start.
Another correspondent wanted to know how they proposed to make improvements, and was concerned that the move might result in ugly railing being put up everywhere.
Jillian Garvey was keen to ensure that any changes to Research-Warrandyte Road do not result in trucks using Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road instead.
Sharron Weight believes that the North East Link is the only way to stop the trucks driving through Warrandyte, and we should mention that there has been speculation in the press over the past few weeks that in view of the Coronavirus costs, the North East Link project may be in doubt.
Ryan Smith, State Member for Warrandyte, wrote to Benita Quine whose family were victims of the oil tanker rollover in January, advising “It seems some measures will be taken to slow vehicles down on that road which is a good outcome, given yours is not the only accident I am aware of on that stretch.
“I have raised the matter of these local truck movements and the inexperience of some heavy vehicle drivers with the Victorian Transport Association.
“They are currently in discussion with the government about increased training requirements for new drivers, and I hope this will, in time, lead to our roads being that much safer.”
So the views expressed are all very varied.
One thing is certain in that whilst almost everyone agrees that something needs to be done, there is absolutely no detail as to what should be done and locals will have some very firm views once the details are released.
Hopefully the DoT, Nillumbik Council and Victoria Police will get their heads together and come up with some specific proposals and advice.
Doncare is particularly concerned about the vulnerable members in our community and people who are now being impacted financially, socially and emotionally by situations arising from COVID–19.
Many of whom, may not have required assistance before.
Last financial year, 98 per cent of clients seeking assistance from Doncare’s Information and Emergency Relief program were in receipt of a government pension, with 30 per cent receiving a Newstart Allowance.
That figure is set to rise, as Covid-19 continues to affect the level of unemployment.
Every day, Doncare’s Community Support Workers hear stories of family violence, financial hardship, homelessness or people facing the real risk of becoming homeless through the inability to pay rent or mortgages.
They see parents who cannot feed their children, pensioners who have not put on heating or who have had to choose between paying their utility bills and eating.
Many seniors tell us that they would normally spend time in local libraries or shopping centres to keep warm, but with Stage 3 restrictions in place, they are housebound.
Now that Victorian children are learning remotely, financially vulnerable families will also see significant increases in utility usage and expenditure as the winter months approach.
On average, Doncare feeds over 3,000 individuals a year and has already experienced a 200 per cent increase since February in the numbers of people approaching its Emergency Relief program for essential food items.
At the same time however, as suppliers and major donors take their own precautionary measures and downsize operations, Doncare is rapidly running out of food to distribute.
A Doncare spokesperson told the Diary thst now, more than ever, Doncare needs the community’s help to maintain the health and wellbeing of people experiencing hardship by donating food and household items.
“We have been very fortunate that Bendigo Bank’s Warrandyte and Doncaster East and Templestowe Village branches donated funds and Noel Jones Doncaster jumped to the rescue with a significant donation, even securing a huge amount of food from Metropolitan Foods Pty Ltd with the funds they donated.”
Year 9 students, Lucas and Angus also popped in to the Doncare office with Toby, Vice Captain of Whitefriars College.
The students initiated a fundraising BBQ and partnered with Youth Resource Officers from Warrandyte and Forest Hill Police Departments.
They raised $413.40 for Doncare’s food pantry.
Thanks to Mary-Anne Lowe, Warrandyte locals can now donate non-perishable items to Doncare’s food pantry by visiting the drive-thru drop zone at Bramleigh Estate, Warrandyte.
Donations will be gratefully accepted seven days a week from 7am–7pm (contactless).
Doncare’s new CEO Gaby Thomson said: “We are extremely grateful to Mary-Anne for creating this fabulous initiative, and to all the families, businesses and community groups that have already donated.
“This level of support really and truly echoes the sentiments of Doncare’s philosophy ‘for the community, by the community’,” she said.
Donations can also be delivered to Doncare’s main office at Suite 4, Level 1, 687 Doncaster Road, Doncaster.
Whilst the MC2 building is closed due to Covid-19, staff will gladly meet you downstairs to collect donations.
Meanwhile, Doncare has adopted physical distancing and other transmission reduction measures across the organisation and will be providing remote service delivery to clients in Family Services; Counselling; the Social Support for Seniors program and Community Visitors Scheme.
DAWN mentors will also continue to support women in recovery from family violence.
Should you require emergency relief or assistance with food parcels and food vouchers, please call Doncare on 9856 1500.
YOUR LOCAL community bank has long been the lifeblood for the community, and especially in our current State of Emergency, the bank is doing all it can to help.
Community Liaison Officer at the Warrandyte Community Bank, Dee Dickson said the branch is staying in touch with Bendigo Bank head office, their staff, customers and community partners to ensure they are able to continue to service and support customers safely.
“Behind the scenes we have been speaking with our not-for-profit partners to understand the needs of locals, how this presents now and how it is likely to present moving forward.
“Recently we have contributed $2,000 to Now and Not Yet for the provision of emergency food parcels for local people and families in need.
“We have also reached out to Doncare and provided $1000 toward the distribution of food parcels and donated $2,000 to the Rotary Op Shop Food Bank to ensure they are well stocked with non-perishables.
“We’re exploring other ways to fund projects that support those in need and lift spirits — demonstrating what we can achieve together.”
If you know of someone, including your own family, that is in need, there is help available:
Now and Not Yet: 148–150 Yarra
St, Warrandyte — for food and
Rotary Op Shop: Rear of the
Bridge shops, 264 Yarra St,
Warrandyte — for food (non-
perishables on site) and food
orders (purchased and delivered
by op shop volunteers)
Doncare: Manningham City
Square, Suite 4 level 1/687
Doncaster Rd, Doncaster
— for food and crisis intervention
Pettet Family Foundation, Park
Orchards — Crisis intervention
and inclusion services for children
and their families.
Contact Geoff Parkes
or 0418 392 748.
For 17 years, the Warrandyte Community Bank Branch has been committed to the care of locals and the groups of which they are members, especially when things get tough.
“As we respond to COVID-19, please know our commitment to our customers, will not change.
“If you need assistance our branch staff are here to help you navigate these uncertain financial times,” Dee said.
The branch is open Monday–Friday from 9:30am–5pm or staff can be contacted on 9844 2233.
In these crazy and weird times that is COVID-19, many organisations and businesses are finding ways to adapt and remain relevant.
Warrandyte CFA is no different.
Despite all events, face-to-face meetings and weekly training being cancelled, the volunteers down at the station are finding new ways to adapt to isolation.
With the “stay at home” campaign in full force, the brigade is experiencing a downturn in call outs.
Community Safety Officer, Rebecca-Leigh Dawson said: “The community is being careful and doing the right thing”.
But rest assured, the volunteers down at the station are still here for you.
They are still working hard behind the scenes to ensure they are ready for any emergencies.
Captain of Warrandyte CFA, Adrian Mullens, highlighted the need for the volunteers to stay connected and continue to upskill.
He said, “The brigade management team continue to hold meetings online via Zoom, ensuring all operational needs of the station are being met.”
“We’re also maintaining a focus of member wellbeing and have assigned a select group of officers to remain in touch with all our volunteers,” he said.
The volunteers continue to train in whatever capacity they can.
There are multiple opportunities, from online training programmes available from CFA corporate, to joining in with CFA Group area led lessons.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The officers of Warrandyte CFA have taken it upon themselves to prepare localised training, designed for the unique characteristics of Warrandyte.
The interactive online tailored workshops include local infrastructure with specific maps, details of existing sprinkler and booster systems of sites around town such as the schools.
Warrandyte’s 1st Lieutenant, Will Hodgson said: “Our volunteers aren’t necessarily skilled in training preparation, so to undertake this task in preparing lessons for their fellow members in their own time is extraordinary”.
The training is attended by the Captain, Lieutenants, Officers and firefighters — offering plenty of opportunities for the members to effectively learn as a team.
“The adapted training is thorough with detailed framework, quality images, and thought-provoking questions,” Will said.
But it’s not just training and meetings, the team at Warrandyte CFA remain committed to providing educational resources as well as supporting some much-loved annual events.
The unprecedented challenge of the CFA being unable to shake their tins for the Good Friday Appeal, was quickly transformed to an online fundraising portal by the Royal Children’s Hospital.
A Virtual Tin Shake became the platform and the team down at the station were keen to ensure they could still help raise funds for the kids.
202 Victorian CFA brigades raised a total of $195,000 for the appeal, with Warrandyte CFA contributing a collection of $4,290 from our supportive community.
Warrandyte CFA’s efforts placed them second on the urban brigades leader board.
Will Hodgson, who has personally experienced the exceptional services of the Royal Children’s Hospital with his own children.
“I’m proud of what our members have achieved for the appeal.
“To raise more than we normally would in these unprecedented times is credit to the team’s unbreakable comradery and spirit”.
In these unpredictable times, your CFA volunteers are still here for you.
Warrandyte CFA’s members continue to undertake the groundwork to ensure they continue to be prepared to service Warrandyte.
The brigade wishes to express their appreciation to the Warrandyte community for supporting their volunteers in their efforts.
By JAIME NOYE
IT IS NO SURPRISE with all the uncertainty going on, this year’s Fireball event will be postponed.
The Fireball committee is mindful that so many businesses are struggling and respectfully recognises that it is not the right time to seek sponsorships and donations.
Chair of the Fireball Committee, Michelle Lambert said “With everything so uncertain, it’s not possible that they will be back on their feet and ready to support anything other than rebuilding their businesses by October”.
“Hopefully, by this time next year things will be improving, and people will be getting ready to celebrate and move forward” she said.
But there is good news.
Fireball is delighted to share that their extremely generous major sponsor; Bramleigh Estate, Warrandyte’s newest wedding venue, will continue to support a reschedule of this wonderful community event.
This means Fireball is still able to maximise the profits being donated to the Greater Warrandyte CFA’s.
“Mary-Anne from Bramleigh, is the gift that keeps on giving” Michelle said.
“Considering the current climate, to still host Fireball free of charge, is an incredible demonstration of Bramleigh giving back to the Warrandyte community”.
Fireball made a commitment to the volunteers of the Wonga Park Fire Brigade to facilitate the purchase of a new light tanker.
Together with Bramleigh, the committee intend to follow through on their promise in 2021.
The event has been rebooked for Friday, October 22, 2021.
Fireball will continue to keep the community informed on event updates, all opportunities and ticket sales as we move through the aftermath of COVID-19.
Captain of Wonga Park CFA, Aaron Farr said: “We are ever so grateful for Fireball and Bramleigh’s continued support to honour the original offer, in light of the delay caused by COVID-19 and the tough financial environment”.
The Fireball Committee looks forward to resuming event preparations in 2021, to support the volunteers of CFA.
To keep updated on event announcements, the community can register their information at
WITH COVID-19 causing many disruptions to daily life, as we all try to “flatten the curve”, local councils still need to provide important services to the community, albeit at arm’s length.
As the doors closed to visitors at Council run facilities, the Diary asked Manningham and Nillumbik for details of how residents continue to interact with them during these restrictions.
Manningham City Council
Manningham Council CEO Andrew Day said Council has modified operations to continue to provide core services to the community.
“Local government provides many important services and we understand we have a critical role to play in supporting our community at this time.”
He says Council is doing its part to contain the spread of the virus and reduce the risk to the health of the community, including the implementation of crisis management planning, in collaboration with the Victorian Government.
“Our management team is also meeting daily to direct and monitor our response to the situation as it unfolds, and for future planning.”
Mr Day said Council is continuing to provide as many services to the community as possible.
“To do this safely we are continually adapting our service delivery models and following the advice of the Department of Health and Human Services at all times,” Mr Day said.
For example, he said services like Maternal and Child Health visits are now being conducted over the phone or via video link and essential services for our elderly community, like Meals on Wheels, will continue to run with even stricter safe food handling standards.
“Since mid-March, there have been many impacts to Council events, facilities and services and we understand these impacts are being felt deeply by our community.
“At this time we ask that the community stay safe, practice appropriate social distancing, particularly in Manningham’s beautiful open spaces”
Mr Day urged residents to stay connected with family and friends via phone, email, video link or social media.
“We are all in this together, as a community we will support one another, and as a Council we will do what it takes to look after those who are most vulnerable at this time.”
For the most up to date information about COVID-19 and its impacts to Council services, events and facilities please visit: manningham.vic.gov.au/coronavirus
Customer service centres closed
To help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community Council’s customer service centres have closed until further notice.
This change was made following further restrictions on non-essential services and the government advice for the community to stay at home where possible.
Council rates, fees and charges
Mr Day said Manningham Council is acutely aware of the devastating financial impacts the COVID-19 situation is having on the community.
In response, Council is considering a range of options to assist residents and community members during this difficult time.
He said more information will be made available as details are finalised.
“For those in our community who are already impacted, please contact Council to discuss hardship options,” he said.
Customers can contact Council via:
Phone: 9840 9333
Nillumbik Shire Council
Nillumbik Communications Officer Natalie Town said Nillumbik Shire Council has closed its Customer Service Counter at the Civic Drive offices in Greensborough.
She told the Diary most Council staff are working from home where possible, and while some services have been significantly impacted, it is business as usual for many departments.
Most Council services can be conducted online including payments for pet registrations, rates, parking fines and other infringements.
If residents are experiencing hardship, they should call the rates team on 9433 3285.
If you are having technical trouble making an online payment, call Customer Service on 9433 3111 and they can talk you through the process or provide other information.
Mayor Karen Egan said the health and wellbeing of the community and Council staff was a priority.
“Council is committed to reducing the risk of the coronavirus spreading and we appreciate your patience during this difficult time.
“We urge residents to stay home and follow the recommendations of the State and Federal Governments.
“At the same time, we encourage you to look out for your neighbours, and others in the community, who are struggling.
“We will continue to monitor and update you as the situation changes over coming days and weeks,” she said.
Essential Council services are continuing, and these include:
Kerbside landfill, recycling and
green waste collections as well
as booked kerbside hard waste
Food delivery services for older
and vulnerable residents.
Critical Maternal and Child Health
Essential call out services.
Council’s Economic Development team are offering support for local businesses.
Council’s Visit Nillumbik Facebook page @visitnillumbik is getting behind Nillumbik businesses with a Stay Home, Shop Local campaign.
Customers can contact Council via:
Phone: 9433 3111
Swimming pool and spa registrations
The Victorian Government has not currently advised councils of any changes to the time frame for the requirement to register swimming pools and spas.
Local Councils roll out governance updates
By JAMES POYNER
MARCH 24 was a big day for Local Government.
As well as the finalisation of a new Local Government Act, local councils also debated measures to enable them to be able to effectively govern as the threat of a worsening pandemic continues to dominate our news feeds.
An updated Local Government Act became law on March 24, 2020.
The Act provides the necessary legislative framework to enable local councils to perform their task of administering their municipality.
The Act replaces the Local Government Act 1989 and over the next 16 months, the Divisions of The Act 2020 will gradually replace The Act 1989.
It has been a long five years waiting for the updated Act to come into effect, the Local Government Bill 2018 fell at the last furlong in November 2018, when it lapsed after the Legislative Council failed to pass the bill.
The Local Government Act 2020 includes six key reforms in the areas of simplified franchise, standardising, electoral structure, training, donation reform, improved conduct and community accountability.
In July 2019, councils across Victoria were submitting responses to these areas of reform with many councils requesting The Act does not require all councils to operate as single member wards.
The proposal was generally rejected by most councils, even councils which already operated with a single member ward structure were not overly supportive of the move to simplify the electoral structure.
In their submission to the Local Government Bill 2019 in July 2019, Nillumbik Shire Council wrote:
“Given that Council already operates under a single member ward structure, the impact on Council as a result of this proposed reform will be minimal.
Council however recognises the diverse nature of councils across the state and that a single ward structure may not be appropriate in all instances.
Council would therefore advocate for the electoral structure for each Council be considered on its merits and not on a one structure for all basis.”
To the relief of many municipalities, the Legislative Council passed an amendment to The Act, which allows for a mixed system of single and multi-member representation.
The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) has also been watching and waiting for a determination on whether the October 2020 Local Elections will be Postal or Attendance voting.
The Act specifies that the voting system to be used will be determined by the Minister for Local Government and that the Minister must make a decision on the system to be used within two months of that part of The Act coming into effect.
Documentation outlining the transition from The Act 1989 to The Act 2020 indicates this section comes into effect on April 6, 2020, which means Victorians will know how they can vote in the October 2020 local elections by no later than June 6, 2020.
However, it is worth noting — given our current situation — that the Minister has the power to change the date of an election under circumstances such as the declaration of a State of Emergency.
Council’s preparing for the worst
Manningham and Nillumbik Councils also passed motions to expand the Instrument of Delegation at the March 24 Ordinary Council Meeting.
The Instrument of Delegation means the CEO and other Officers can delegate on their behalf.
The responsibility was expanded as Councillors were concerned the current health situation may result in a scenario where not enough Councillors can attend a meeting to form a quorum.
Presently, there is no policy in place to allow councillors to conduct council meetings using teleconferencing software, which means they need to be physically present, a situation which may become difficult if social distancing restrictions become more severe.
While the vote was very cut-and-dry at Manningham, in Nillumbik, there was fierce debate with opposing councillors arguing they should be discussing supporting an initiative by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), which is calling on State Government to give councils the legislative capability to be able to hold Council Meetings online, with Councillor Perkins standing against Councillor Clarke to argue that this is what they should be discussing.
In a statement from MAV, Cr Coral Ross, MAV President and councillor for Boorondara, said:
“Inflexible council meeting requirements under state legislation are a significant concern for local governments across the country as many council chambers do not allow for appropriate social distancing.
“This is an unprecedented situation which requires collaboration and innovative thinking.
“We have been proactively working alongside the Victorian Government to provide solutions which will ensure the health and safety of councillors, council staff and the community.
“With streaming and virtual meetings now widely available, we call on the Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek and the State Government to make this common sense decision and enable one of these options to be implemented as alternative to meeting face to face.”
Efficient operation by Local Government in the coming months will be integral to keeping a semblance of normality to the bureaucracy of everyday life.
The Diary will continue to report on the actions of local councils and the efforts of MAV to enable them to do their job in this climate of increasing restrictions.
THE ARTISTS of the Nillumbik Artist Open Studios program are taking their studios online.
The artists originally planned to open their studio doors for the weekend of May 2 – 3, but due to the restrictions around COVID-19, the artists will be displaying their works in a special online space.
The online store is open now with a small selection of works, but will be expanded over the coming weeks.
Founders of the program, Ona Henderson and Syd Tunn have been part of the program since 1983.
“We initially thought we could postpone and then we thought, no it has to be a cancellation, because everyone is saying this will go on for months”.
Program Coordinator and potter, Annette Nobe said going online is something that many organisations have been embracing.
“I have worked in the IT industry in the past, and many businesses will be able to survive with the use of digital platforms,” she said.
In light of the recent success of the Artists Open Studios weekends, Bend of Islands artist Tim Read said the cancellation of the studio openings was inescapable.
“Unfortunately, [the open weekend] is the ideal way for the disease to spread, so [the cancellation] is a good move.”
All of the participating artists will be initially submitting three works to the online site, with works available for pickup or delivery from studios.
The website will also incorporate video messages from the artists and a virtual look inside some of the studios.
The program is also cancelling many of the workshops and classes that are normally run by the artists, and most artists have cancelled their private art classes as well.
However, many of the artists say they will be able to use their time in isolation effectively.
Artist Linda MacAuley said her classes being cancelled has allowed for a creative space to open up.
“It gives you space to do whatever you like — it opens you up to other opportunities,” Linda said.
Glass Artist Jacquie Hacansson said that she is enjoying the time in self-isolation in her studio, and has already started to be very prolific.
“It is wonderful to be able to sit and create without interruption from the outside world,” she said.
Metal artist Mel Rayski-Mati said that the Artist Open Studios program has allowed for many collaborations between artists and doesn’t see this changing under the current restrictions.
IN THIS EVER-CHANGING climate of uncertainty, social distancing and working from home I would like to remind you of the importance of looking after those around us.
As the President of the Warrandyte RSL I would like to call on you all as a community to ensure we are caring for our families, friends, veterans, members of Anzac House and the elderly.
The priority of the Warrandyte RSL is to support veterans and their families during the coming months and difficult times ahead.
If you are aware of a veteran or family member who requires assistance, please contact us on (03) 9844 3567.
We will endeavour to do our best to support those in need.
In some cases, you may be required to request additional support from RSL Victoria.
They can be contacted on:
(03) 9655 5555.
The Warrandyte RSL traditional Anzac Day service will be very different to what most of us are used to.
The community march along the main road to the Memorial RSL grounds has been cancelled.
Warrandyte RSL will hold a Commemorative Service, but we ask our local community to stay at home.
Anzac Day is not cancelled; we are asking families to commemorate the day at home by watching or listening to the Dawn Service on television, the internet, or on the radio.
We are also asking people to participate with a Stand-To gesture.
At the time of the Last Post bugle call, we are asking members of the community to stand to attention at the end of their driveway, or on their veranda, balcony or deck, with their right hand on their heart and then to stay there, with their head bowed for the one minute’s silence which follows.
It would also be great if families and individuals could take a selfie of themselves doing this and share it on social media with the hashtag #STANDTO.
Musicians are being urged to play the Last Post on their lawn at 6am.
Anzac Day can be a deep, meaningful and nearly spiritual experience for everyone.
While it is primarily the recognition of the camaraderie, mateships and sacrifices made by the ANZACs.
Remembering their sacrifice is particularly relevant given the sacrifices we are all being asked to make during this time, as the whole of humanity does what it can to combat the spread of COVID-19.
This year, we are unable to sell Anzac badges locally, at schools, or on the street.
We shall, however have tins (for donations), and Anzac Badges available at the counters at Quinton’s SUPA IGA.
If members of the community would like to buy the limited-edition Anzac biscuit tin, please ring the Warrandyte RSL on (03) 9844 3567.
ANZAC: The story of “Turkish” Charlie Ryan
By DON HUGHES
I THOUGHT I knew the ANZAC story well but recently stumbled upon a new insight — the story of Charlie Ryan.
He was born at Killeen Station just north of Melbourne in 1853.
The son of a grazier, Charlie dedicated his life to medicine and the care of others.
He graduated as a surgeon from the University of Edinburgh in 1875.
Seeking adventure, Charlie sought medical experience with the Turkish Army in Constantinople (now Istanbul).
However, the Russo-Turkish war of 1877–1878 broke out and Charlie found himself in the Balkans at the siege of Plevna as a young military doctor.
Despite his brave caring of the wounded, he was eventually captured by the Russians at another front in Eastern Turkey.
After the war, Turkey honoured Charlie’s distinguished service with the Order of Mejidiye (4th class) and the Order of Osmanli, the second highest order in the Ottoman Empire.
A hero to the people of Turkey, he returned home to Melbourne in 1878 to become a successful civilian doctor.
He also was made the representative — similar to an ambassador — of the Ottoman Empire in Australia for some years.
He still liked army life and continued as a Captain in the Volunteer Medical Service.
Charlie was the doctor who tendered the wounded bushranger Ned Kelly, and after his execution — declared him deceased.
At the outbreak of World War 1, Charlie enlisted as the Senior Doctor for the 1st Division, Australian Imperial Force (AIF), and landed in Egypt just after his 61st birthday.
He had enlisted to fight the Germans.
Aboard the troopships bound for the ANZAC landings at a dinner for senior officers Charlie knew more than anyone how hard the Turks would fight to defend their homeland.
It prompted him to state: “If, after 40 years, I am now about to fight them, it is not because of a feeling of enmity, but because of orders I have received as a soldier”.
Clambering up the steep cliffs of Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, Charlie and the ANZACs landed on the peninsula to face the Turkish commander, Mustafa Kemal and his troops.
On May 19, the Turks launched a major attack which became a slaughter; over 3,000 Turks lay dead in no man’s land.
Both armies wanted to bury the dead as the putrid smell had become unbearable.
A one-day cease fire was declared on May 24 and on that day, both sides buried their dead in shallow graves.
This was the first time; the Turks and Australians came face to face and talked to each other.
There are diary entries about swapping Turkish tobacco for bully beef.
Respectfully, the seeds of comradeship between two countries were sown on that day — this still thrives today.
Charlie Ryan carefully attached his Ottoman Medals and, armed with only a box camera, proceeded to direct his medical staff tending the wounded.
Some Turks became seething, thinking he had stolen the decorations.
In an unused Turkish voice of 40 years, the distinguished looking doctor was able to placate the situation.
All stopped their gruesome tasks, time seemed suspended, the Turks remembered the “Hero of the battle of 93” — Charles “Plevna” Ryan.
Shortly after this infamous armistice, Charlie contracted dysentery and typhoid.
He recovered and was knighted by the King in 1916 and appointed the senior doctor of the Australian Army until November 11, 1918.
Charlie was the hero of two countries.
Major General Sir Charles Snodgrass Ryan KBE, CB, CMG, VD, died on October 23, 1926.
Turkish Charlie Ryan: Canakkale’s Anzac Hero written by John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher, and beautifully illustrated by Lillian Webb, was published in 2018.
It is a wonderful book straddling this defining story of a little-known hero for both countries and it is a story every Australian should know, and cherish.
A copy of the book, as well as a special package for teachers can be purchased from
The true meaning of Anzac Day
By DON HUGHES
WHEN ON United Nations Peacekeeping and Demining operations in Africa in 1994/5, I had the unique and pleasant opportunity, to spend a few days on leave at the spectacular Victoria Falls.
Going for a pre-dawn stroll, on Anzac Day in 1995, to pay my respects, I came upon three fellow visitors to this magnificent natural wonder.
The first was a tourist from Japan, we exchanged cordial pleasantries.
Next, was a robust and jovial German on his first trip to Africa — we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.
Finally, I bumped into an outgoing and friendly South African Boer, who was visiting the amazing Victoria Falls for the first time.
It made me reflect deeply — as these men were all former enemies of Australia.
It also made me reflect on the mammoth task of trying to rid a country (Mozambique) of the appalling remnants of war (landmines).
It took 20 years for Mozambique to be the first severely landmine affected country in the world to be declared “landmine free”.
How long does it take to declare ourselves free of the other effects of war?
Just before Sir “Weary” Dunlop, the great Australian Prisoner of War Doctor, passed away in 1993, I had the honour of hearing him speak at a formal regimental dinner at the Oakleigh Army Barracks.
He spoke with reverence and sincerity, of the need to forgive past enemies.
Despite witnessing horrendous atrocities during the latter campaigns of the Second World War, he had come to the understanding — that forgiveness is probably the greatest of human attributes.
War is the result of deep divides in society, and it is in peace, where we heal those divides, that our true spirit lives.
THE VICTORIAN Government has introduced Building Amendment (Swimming Pool and Spa) Regulations 2019, which took effect from last December.
This introduces mandatory requirements for owners of private swimming pools or spas to register their pool or spa with their local council.
In addition, pool and spa owners will now be required to have their safety barriers inspected by a registered building surveyor or building inspector every four years.
These regulations are being introduced because, on average, four young children die in Victoria in home swimming pools or spas each year, and many more are taken to hospital for near-drownings.
The cost to register your pool or spa is set by the State Government.
So, what does this all mean for owners of existing backyard or indoor pools and spas?
A swimming pool or spa is any structure or excavation containing water and primarily used for swimming, wading, paddling or the like, and is capable of containing water to a depth of greater than 300mm.
This includes in-ground swimming pools, indoor swimming pools, above-ground swimming pools (including permanent and temporary swimming pools), spas, swim spas, bathing and wading pools and hot tubs.
Small inflatable pools that do not require any assembly — other than inflation — are not subject to these rules.
Also exempted are spas and baths inside a building which are used only for personal hygiene and are emptied fully after each use.
The owner of the land on which the pool is situated is responsible for compliance, so in the case of a tenanted property, the onus is on the landlord.
Register your pool or spa
The new laws require mandatory registration of all Victorian swimming pools and spas by June 1, 2020.
You can register your swimming pool or spa online via your council’s website, or alternatively in person at the council offices.
A fee of $79 applies for all swimming pool and spa registrations and is paid at the time of registration.
This fee consists of a registration fee of $32 and an information search fee of $47.
Have your pool inspected and get a certificate of compliance
Once you have registered your pool or spa you will be advised of the date your pool was built, and when you are required to lodge a Certificate of Pool and Spa Safety Barrier Compliance (CPSSBC) to verify that your swimming pool or spa is safe.
To obtain this certificate you will need to arrange to have your pool inspected by a registered building surveyor or registered building inspector.
The inspection will check that the pool or spa and its safety barriers, gates, pool fences, boundary fences, walls, screens, balustrades, doors, windows, locks, latches, hinges and self-closing devices (where applicable) are all in compliance with Australian Standard AS1926.1.
This inspection and certification will cost somewhere in the region of between $250 and $400, as inspectors set their own fees independently.
It is suggested that you obtain more than one quote.
Rather like obtaining a roadworthy certificate for your car, if it passes you get the required certificate and if it fails you get a notice of defects and will require a further inspection, for a smaller fee, once these have been corrected.
Fortunately, you have some time to do this because the date by which you have to lodge this certificate with the council depends on the date of construction of your pool or spa.
If constructed before July 1994, the certificate must be lodged by June 1, 2021.
If constructed between July 1994 and April 2010, the certificate must be lodged by June 1, 2022.
If constructed after April 2010, the certificate must be lodged by
June 1, 2023.
Having obtained your certificate of compliance, lodge it with your council before the due date.
Ongoing four-year certification
Pools and spas will only need to be registered with the council once.
Following the initial certification, pools and spas are required to be re-inspected every four years thereafter, at your cost, and further certificates lodged with council.
If you do not register your pool or spa by June 1, 2020, this will result in an infringement notice of approximately $330.
If a failed inspection is not corrected within 60 days, the inspector will issue a non-compliance certificate and submit it directly to council.
Council will then contact you and issue a barrier improvement notice, which will need to be actioned within 14 days and a fee of $385 will apply.
If you do not comply with Council’s directions to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations, this may result in the referral of the matter to a magistrate.
The State Government has a zero tolerance approach to offending property owners and is committed to ensuring adequate water safety for young children.
Significant penalties could apply if a matter is brought before the court.
Swimming pool and spa owners have a legal obligation to ensure they maintain the effective operation of swimming pool and spa safety barriers.
Gates and doors must remain closed except when entering the pool or spa.
THE CLASH between utilitarian necessity, and community and environmental amenity is all too familiar to many residents of Warrandyte and surrounds.
The latest battleground is the Eltham Fitzsimons Lane Roundabout at the Eltham Gateway.
Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV) is planning to remove the roundabout and replace it with a multilane, traffic-lighted intersection, as part of its $2.2 billion Northern Roads Upgrade project.
Planned works also include the removal of the roundabout at Porter Street in Templestowe and the redesign of the Foote Street intersection.
The work at the Eltham Gateway to replace the roundabout with an intersection will involve the removal of hundreds of trees which will significantly change the look of the area, threatening what many see as the visual gateway into Nillumbik’s Green Wedge, as well as damaging the character of the area and disrupting community amenity for residents.
Eltham Community Action Group (ECAG) has been campaigning for an alternative design which will help ease traffic flow without damaging the amenity and character of the area.
“People see those trees and it makes them feel like they have come home”, said Carlota Quinlan, a representative of ECAG.
Following what many see as an ineffective campaign by MRPV to share the proposed design in September 2018, the impact of the works — the extent of the removal of the trees — was not fully visualised to both commuters and the broader community until late 2019, when ECAG tied red ribbons to all the trees planned to be removed at the Eltham Gateway, as well as publishing mock-ups of the proposed design.
ECAG also submitted a petition with 3,000 signatures to the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan, requesting the project is halted and more a sympathetic design be sought, with more up to date traffic data.
In November 2019, the Diary ran a story on the ECAG red ribbon protest and asked MRPV if they were planning to alter the plans, given works are scheduled to begin in 2020.
At the time, MRPV told the Diary: “Updated preliminary designs will be published on the Major Road Projects Victoria website in the coming weeks.”
Nearly three months passed with no update, so the Diary contacted MRPV again for an update on the works, MRPV has now released information regarding alterations to the proposed 11 lane intersection.
Major Road Projects Victoria’s Delivery Director, Steve Cornish, told the Diary the design balanced important community feedback about the local significance of the Eltham Gateway with the needs of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
“We’ve listened to what’s important to the community and investigated a number of design options,” Mr Cornish said.
“The design changes we’ve made will reduce the number of trees that are impacted, while still ensuring we can deliver vital safety benefits and reduce congestion.”
The new design slightly reduces the footprint and, according to MRPV, reduces the number of trees being removed.
But details in their latest update are vague.
Following a meeting between the project team and ECAG on Wednesday, February 26, ECAG spoke to the Diary, and indicated they were still “very disappointed” with the planned works.
“They have not taken on board community concerns,” said Ms Quinlan.
Although the updated design reduces the number of trees that need to be removed, the trees which currently stand in the middle and around the roundabout are still going, which has been the whole point of ECAGs protest.
Ms Quinlan told the Diary ECAG includes members who have experience in urban design, engineering et cetera, and that the group has submitted alternative design ideas to MRPV, which meet the expectations of both MRPV and the local community, but these have been declined.
Ms Quinlan also reinforced the sentiment that ECAG is not against the road improvement project in principle.
She said the community action group simply want a design which maintains the character and amenity of the Eltham Gateway.
Whilst ECAG continue to negotiate with MRPV for a better deign, the project continues to grind through the necessary bureaucratic processes needed for works to begin with the necessary planning amendments gazetted on January 16.
Construction is still scheduled to begin later this year.
The Diary asked MRPV for specific details regarding the number of trees saved in the new design, as well as comment on how traffic flow will be impacted by the North East Link.
“Design refinements, since the initial reference design was released in September 2018, have resulted in a total of 150 fewer trees needing to be removed.
“This includes a most recent saving of 50 fewer trees needing to be removed with the design revisions released in February 2020.
“Major Road Projects Victoria’s traffic modelling showed that while traffic volumes on Fitzsimons Lane are expected to reduce with the opening of North East Link (2027), the existing roundabout would continue to create congestion, long queues and risky driver behaviour without an upgrade.
“Every iteration of the design has taken into account how future traffic volumes will affect the intersection.
“The updated design has reduced the overall footprint of the upgrade, while still delivering significant improvements to safety and congestion to Fitzsimons Lane.
“Major Road Projects Victoria will continue to inform and consult the community through web, electronic and mail updates, door knocks to nearby properties, community information sessions, and pop ups at events.”
The recent “artist’s impression” released by MRPV as part of the February update has also come under fire from ECAG on social media with a post on the groups Facebook page haranguing Major Roads for an artist’s impression which is misleading and not to scale.
There is still time for the community to voice their concerns or seek clarity on any aspect of the design.
MRPV is hosting a Drop In Session at Eltham Library on Wednesday, March 11, from 6pm.
THE THEME of community was strong at this year’s Run Warrandyte as our community welcomed, encouraged and celebrated the blind and vision impaired community.
The event committee reports registrations were up by 100 participants this year, proving the event continues to showcase our stunning bush surrounds to more and more people, year on year.
Guide Dogs Victoria were the official fundraising partner for Run Warrandyte 2020 and the not-for-profit running group Achilles Australia — who team up sighted and vision impaired runners were also on course, guiding a contingent of runners up and down the hills and trails of The Pound, as they ran the picturesque course.
Leah McFadzean, General Manager of Guide Dog and Vision Services, spoke to the Diary about what Guide Dogs Victoria do and their reasons for partnering with Run Warrandyte.
“It seemed like a natural fit.
“We try to come out into the community because we like to ensure that our blind and vision impaired clients and families can be in the community.
“Because that’s what it is about — independence, inclusion and accessibility.”
Leah explained that it takes two years to raise a guide dog and the organisation is reliant on volunteers and donations to help prepare the caring canines, but she also explained that Guide Dogs Victoria is not just about dogs.
“I am big on allowing individuals and families to do what they want to do independently.
“There may be someone here who has a family member, or extended family member, who is just starting on the journey and doesn’t know where to go.
“So if I say out loud ‘Guide Dogs Victoria is more than just the dogs’, then maybe they will ring us and we can wrap our professional selves around them and guide them where they need to go,” she said.
While guide dogs drew the crowd in the event village, the group from Achilles Melbourne ran the course, guiding six runners around one, two or three laps of the course.
The Diary spoke with several blind and vision impaired runners, and their guides, after the run, to gauge their experience of our annual community event.
“What was really interesting was the support we got from the fellow runners, as well as the Marshalls and the organisers — it has been a really great, warm and welcoming run”, said Carl de Campos, a vision impaired runner from South Africa, who is in the middle of a five-week holiday in Australia.
Carl took on the 15km course, completing the distance in 1:34:53.
“We were told we were going to run along the river and there was going to be some off-road track and I ran with Rhi for the first time.
“Rhi” (Rhiannon Rowbotham) is a regular guide with Achilles Melbourne, as well as a passionate and experienced trail runner in her own right.
“She did extremely well guiding me, there were a few steep bits, a few steep hills.
“But I am fairly fit and I found it really, really, good,” he said.
Carl and Rhi were caught out by the rocky Tank Track when Carl tripped on a rock early on, but she said it did not put a dent in either of their enjoyment of the course.
“[Carl] is a really experienced trail runner and he was fine — I asked him if he was hurting and if he wanted to stop but he was fine, he kept going.
“He bombed the downhills, even though he said he was going to take it easy, and when we got down to the river he could hear the rapids and he loved the birds.
“It is stunning out there, even for someone with vision impairment he was able to enjoy the course as well,” she said.
Rhi had nothing but praise for the encouragement by volunteers and runners on course.
“It was incredible… we had so much encouragement out there.
“I think the message about us is spreading — we have a hashtag #goachilles and often when we run you hear quite a few people yell that.
“But today, on course, people were yelling whether they knew Achilles or not — it was great encouragement, you have a really good crew out here.”
Peggy Soo took on the 10km distance with her guide Lowell.
“I’ve always wanted to come to Warrandyte and experience coming through here.
“I didn’t know about Run Warrandyte until I saw it on the Guide Dogs page so thought this was the best time to get on board,” Peggy said.
Peggy and Lowell told us the course was quite challenging but Peggy is looking forward to coming back.
“I like these sorts of runs that are a little bit away from the city, less busy, you just enjoy the run itself instead of having to go around and through people.”
Achilles Melbourne is always looking for new runners, both vision impaired and sighted.
The clubs social structure is building a community, which means, regardless of your level of sight, anything can be achieved.
Achilles Melbourne helps the vision impaired continue to be physically and socially active and also gives their sighted guides life perspective.
“I think we all get dire thoughts like that sometimes, even as a sighted runner”, said Rhi.
“When I get injured I get into the doldrums straight away and I think ‘oh my god I can’t run all week, life is horrible’ — there is not much anyone can do to pull someone else out of a funk when they have stuff going on in their life.
“Whether I am guiding or not, running is a community event and guiding for Achilles has shown that to be the case.”
Carl adds “What I have noticed with my friends who have deteriorating sight, what I find is they don’t want to accept it straight away, so they don’t want to run with somebody and it becomes dangerous.
“It is not just a running club, it is also a support group, a social running club — because you go through depression when you start to lose your eyesight and a lot of us in South Africa we are looking for a social club, whether it be a church, or a coffee drinking club.
“And what is more healthy than getting out and doing a race, whether you walk or whether you run?
“What could be more of a confidence booster than to get out there in nature?”
From showcasing local clubs and businesses in the event village, to the contingent of local volunteers cheering everyone on course, and the charity partners who strive to develop independence and community for the blind and vision impaired, Run Warrandyte 2020 was a celebration that strong community values improve both physical and mental wellbeing.
Everybody who took part in the event reflected Guide Dogs Victoria’s values of independence, inclusion and accessibility.
As local initiatives like the Warrandyte Men’s Shed and Repair Café have also reflected — inclusion, independence, accessibility and socialisation are important in maintaining positive mental health — and Warrandyte, on March 1, demonstrated its cup was overflowing with this sentiment.
Photographs in gallary below courtesy of Sandi Miller
MANNINGHAM CITY Council unanimously approved the motion to declare a climate emergency at their January 28 Ordinary Council Meeting (OCM).
This motion brings Manningham Council in line with more than 1,000 councils across the planet, and over 85 councils in Australia who have been declaring climate emergencies since early 2019.
The global political movement to recognise the threat of climate change and take action against it began in April 2019 with Scotland and Wales becoming the first countries to declare a climate emergency.
During the January 28 OCM, Councillor Mike Zafiropoulous tabled Notice of Motion 1/2020 and outlined the need for this action.
“As councillors we have a responsibility, not only to address the local concerns of residents through core issues such as waste collection, planning permits, road maintenance, et cetera — but also broader issues such as the climate emergency we are facing,” he said.
Later, Cr Zafiropoulous went on to talk about the evidence.
“The scientific evidence on this issue is overwhelming and the consequence of no action is catastrophic, not only for Manningham, but for the whole planet.”
Cr Andrew Conlon, who seconded the motion, spoke specifically of the increased impact Warrandyte faces.
“Without climate change, Warrandyte is already in the most prone, most at risk areas in terms of population, terrain and fuel, in the world.
“So it would be ignorant of us to basically put our heads in the sand and not acknowledge that we can do more and that we will do more in the years to come.”
An amended motion, introduced by Cr Sophy Galbally, to add the words “climate emergency” specifically to the clauses of the motion being discussed, triggered a 30-minute debate into the definition of the words “serious” and “emergency”, highlighting concerns surrounding the bureaucratic implications of the use of the word “emergency”.
In his closing remarks, Cr Zafiropoulous spoke about the popularity and symbolic nature of the term “Climate Emergency” and the importance of Council to follow a global trend.
“…to be consistent with other organisations initiating such action, I think it is much better to use the term Climate Emergency in the motion… I think it strengthens the motion if we include it there.”
In attendance at the OCM were representatives of WarrandyteCAN who have been lobbying Manningham Council on the issue since August 2019.
In late September, members of WarrandyteCAN met with the then Mayor, Councillor Paula Piccinini and Mannigham Council CEO Andrew Day to discuss the issue, following the matter up with letters to other councillors in support of a climate emergency declaration and implementation of a structured emergency action plan.
Subsequently, WarrandyteCAN had a meeting with Cr. Zafiropoulos.
“WarrandyteCAN is very grateful for having been given the opportunity to present our case to the Council, and we highly commend the Councillors for passing this landmark resolution,” said WarrandyteCAN President, Jeff Cranston.
The passing of Notice of Motion 1/2020 not only means Mannigham recognises the threat of climate change to the municipality but empowers council to prepare a response in its 2020 Environment Report by including a Climate Emergency Response Plan.
THERE ARE several continuing issues concerning the bridge, its surrounds and heavy traffic and the Diary will keep you updated with progress.
Fire Danger Sign
The Fire Danger Sign on Kangaroo Ground Road on the north side of bridge has not been operating since the start of the current fire season.
The Diary discussed this matter with North Warrandyte CFA following the Bushfire Scenario meeting in November.
Their initial enquiries to the Country Fire Authority(CFA) HQ were met with the response that, although the data to be displayed on the signs is provided by CFA, the actual signs are owned and operated by Emergency Services Victoria (EMV).
Further enquiries by CFA and by some readers to EMV’s ‘Report a Fault’ line were met with a standard response that the fault was known but they were awaiting a part.
By mid-December, when nothing further had been done, North Warrandyte CFA members investigated the matter and found that the box had not been touched or opened for many months.
When this was put to EMV they eventually did attend and reported back that they could not work on the sign at its current location due to a health and safety issue; namely that there is a new High Voltage power cable immediately above the sign.
After enquiries from the Diary and representations from Ryan Smith MP to the Emergency Services Minister’s office, we finally received a statement from Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp:
“EMV is aware of the current operational issues with the Fire Danger Rating sign at North Warrandyte and is working closely with the Nillumbik Shire Council, CFA and local brigades to come to a resolution that meets the needs of the community.
“The current location of the sign means it cannot be serviced due to considerable safety and access issues and once a new location is sourced, the Fire Danger Rating sign will be reinstalled.”
So, that is the current situation, but it raises further questions.
When the sign was originally erected in 2014, the high voltage (HV) powerline was 3-wire and passed to the west of the now bundled line.
At a very early stage of the bridge widening project, the HV line was converted to bundled and re-routed directly over the sign, and at a later stage of the project a small gate was set into the bridge railing to provide access to the sign.
Where were EMV when all this was being planned and why did they allow all that work to happen, or did VicRoads and Ausnet Services never consult EMV?
And as it is not working now, should it be covered up because out-of-towners will come across the bridge and say “Ah, there’s no fire danger today!”?
Readers have also reported that the Fire Danger Sign at the strawberry farm on the Ringwood Road was was not displaying the Severe rating on December 20.
Commissioner Crisp advises “In relation to the South Warrandyte Fire Danger Rating sign, during routine checks all Fire Danger Ratings on the sign are working effectively and there have been no reported issues; but as a precaution a further in-person assessment will be completed shortly.”
Traffic light sequence
Several people have noted and commented that the traffic light sequence at the lights north of the bridge has been changed during the last four weeks.
The lights used to work well.
Now, they are causing a build-up of traffic on Research-Warrandyte Road, with motorists facing red lights even when there is no traffic on Kangaroo Ground Road.
Further, the lights are only letting a few cars through at a time.
The Diary contacted VicRoads to ask if there was a fault or if this was a deliberate change.
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport stated:
“In response to community feedback, we adjusted the sequencing of the signals to provide more time for northbound traffic on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road, which has reduced queuing at the roundabout.
“We will look into whether we can make any further improvements to improve traffic flow in all directions.”
So, yes, the current sequence does mean a shorter green light for drivers exiting Reasearch-Warrandyte Road, and yes, it is deliberate.
For the moment, drivers will have to wait and see if VicRoads deem the queues on Research-Warrandyte Road to be too long and make further adjustments to the sequnence.
Trucks through Warrandyte
Following our December article Fed-up residents call for Warrandyte truck ban, and yet another major truck accident at the bridge, the matter has been taken further by local activist Ben Ramcharan.
He and local residents are writing to VicRoads and members in all levels of government, calling for:
• improved safety for residents, road users and pedestrians
• fairness to our hard-working truck drivers
• minimised environmental impact
• minimised impact on local character
They have conducted a straw poll on social media and present a wide-ranging list of suggestions for solving the problems, with scores for and against each option.
The Diary contacted VicRoads and asked if they were actively looking at the problem of trucks on these steep and winding roads, and to enquire about the status of the 30-tonne limit on Research-Warrandyte Road, now that repairs have taken place to the culvert near the traffic lights.
A Department of Transport spokesperson responded “It’s important all drivers, especially drivers of trucks and large vehicles, drive to the conditions and make sure loads are secure at all times.
“The safety of our roads and road users is our highest priority and we regularly inspect our road network to identify any areas where we can further improve safety.
“A temporary 30-tonne load limit was introduced on Research-Warrandyte Road while we carried out works on the road, and we’re now reviewing whether this limit will continue to remain in place.
“Our five-year crash data shows there has not been an increase in crashes involving heavy vehicles in the Warrandyte area,” the spokesperson said.
VicRoads have finally erected signs on the shared pathway on the west side of the bridge to mark it as such, a shared pathway for pedestrians and cyclists.
However, these signs are only visible to cyclists travelling south on the pathway, with start and end signs erected.
There are no signs visible at all to northbound cyclists.
A Department of Transport spokesperson tells us “We will review the signage for the shared path on the western side of the bridge and install additional signage, if necessary.”
Cyclists on Research-Warrandyte Road
A new hazard could occur on Research-Warrandyte Road and other main roads in the area if RACV’s current, well-intentioned push for the State Government to mandate a minimum passing distance for motorists when overtaking cyclists is passed.
The proposal would mean that motorists would legally have to leave at least one metre of space between their vehicle and a cyclist when overtaking.
Now that the entire 7.5km length of Research-Warrandyte has been painted with double white lines, it would be impossible for motorists to overtake a cyclist anywhere on that road without crossing the lines.
In a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”, even now motorists who slow down to 4 km/h behind a cyclist puffing and panting up a steep hill quickly get a long queue of traffic behind them, and find that it is not long before someone behind them comes out and tries to overtake the lot.
Work to begin on Lions Park
By SANDI MILLER
CONSTRUCTION of the upgrade of Lions Park in Warrandyte River Reserve is anticipated to start in April this year.
Angelo Kourambas, Director of City Planning and Community at Manningham Council says the first stage of works will include landscaping around the bridge, creating a new car park, paths, installing fitness equipment and new picnic tables.
“The masterplan for the upgrade of Lions Park includes two new picnic shelters with barbecues, one near the bridge, and one closer to the play space,” he said.
This is in addition to the existing barbecue shelter in Lions Park.
“To allow the space to be used for cooking and eating and improve accessibility, the existing shelter will be updated to include a new barbecue with two plates that is wheelchair accessible, together with picnic facilities,” Mr Kourambas said.
However, this is not without controversy.
Denis Robertshaw of the Warrandyte Lions Club is disappointed that the existing barbeque is being replaced with a smaller one.
“In 1988 Warrandyte Lions raised money from the community to construct an undercover electric BBQ facility with picnic tables in the surrounds.
“This is a four-burner hot plate unit with stainless bench top that has served locals and tourists for 32 years.
“As part of council redevelopment, they are reducing the four-unit cooktop to two, at considerable cost, requiring a complete new stainless top.
“Why this change is happening defies logic, all four units get regular use.
“Apparently another two-unit BBQ will be constructed closer to the bridge,” he said.
Mr Kourambas said that the change to the existing shelter “has been considered in light of the facilities featured in the overall masterplan for the Lions Park upgrade”.
Mr Robertshaw said that due to lack of use, Lions are relinquishing the tennis courts to make way for landscaping and car parking and instead will be contributing to a Fitness Station to be built under the bridge.
“It will be a sad state of affairs if our original BBQ unit is rehashed, as it was an initiative under the Bicentennial Year,” Mr Robertshaw said.
Two years in the making, the Warrandyte Men’s Shed held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday, January 15.
The Warrandyte Men’s Shed is the latest project by Chris “Chewy” Padgham who has a history of advocating for male mental health.
In the past he has worked for the Victorian Red Cross Men’s Referral Service, MensLine Australia, Shire of Yarra Rangers Kids’ Service and he is currently Group Leader for Warrandyte Scouts.
Until they can find a permanent venue, the Warrandyte Men’s Shed is making use of the Warrandyte Scouts Hall to host its weekly get-togethers.
At the first meeting, Warrandyte Lions provided decks of cards, board games and basic supplies for tea, coffee and sandwiches.
“I just want to create somewhere where men can get together, enjoy each other’s company and do the things they like to do,” said Chewy.
“I’m really just trying to create an environment to facilitate that.”
The concept of a Men’s Shed in Australia as a place for men to come together, and “work” together towards positive mental health first began in the late 1970s – early 1980s.
Traditionally, these community “sheds” are a space where retired men can work on community projects together, usually using practical, mechanical, carpentry and metal working skills they acquired through their former working life, and this concept is still deeply rooted in what a modern Men’s Shed is, but with Generation X entering the retirement window, the types of skills retired Australians have are beginning to change.
Eltham Men’s Shed is a great example of this with their website posting about the Shed’s activities outside the traditional workshopping projects – such as gardening, photography, cooking and even weekly bicycle rides.
What does this mean for our Warrandyte Men’s Shed?
It means its purpose and its potential is open-ended.
The collective work and social experiences of the members of the inaugural Warrandyte Shed were diverse.
“We could have these meetings under a gum tree, it doesn’t really matter”, said member, Don Hughes.
“It’s about getting a bunch of blokes together to share stuff and help out when we can,” he said.
Living up to these words, the group did exactly that.
The group moved from the Scout Hall for their second meeting and formed a working party to help a local resident clean up her front yard following the devastating hailstorm that pummelled Warrandyte recently.
Don also spoke about how the Warrandyte Men’s Shed can offer support to males of all ages.
“There’s also a place for younger men, perhaps they get retrenched or something like that, this could be a place for them too.
“Often there is a youth element who may need an uncle figure and this could be a place for them to get camaraderie that way,” he said.
Currently auspiced by Warrandyte Community Association, Chewy is going through the process of getting the Warrandyte Shed registered with the Victorian Men’s Shed Association (VMSA), he is also looking to council for support.
Regardless, the Shed is up and running.
The vision of VMSA is “for all Victorian men to be happy and healthy contributors within their local community”; with Warrandyte’s rich tapestry of community focussed organisations and its artistic history it is still unclear how this vision will manifest in the Warrandyte Shed.
However, camaraderie, sharing stories, and helping others were core values within the group present at the first meeting, and whatever direction Chewy and the other members take their Shed, it is sure to contribute significantly towards fostering positive masculinity in our community.
Men of all ages are welcome to attend the Warrandyte Men’s Shed.
The Shed meets every Wednesday at 10am at Warrandyte Scout Hall, Stiggants Reserve.
Warrandyte was hard hit by Sunday’s hail storm, with hundreds of calls to SES with damage from gold-ball-sized hail to skylights, windows and cars as well as flooding and damage from falling trees.
The hail also caused tree canopies to be “shredded” with huge amounts of leaf debris blanketing much of the area.
Once the warm weather return, this additional leaf litter will only add to the fuel for any potential bushfires, making the cleanup imperative.
Council have stepped up to assist with the removal of green waste, with Manningham Council sending out an army of street sweepers to clear the roadsides on Monday, and have also offered Manningham residents several ways to get rid of the extra leaf litter.
To make use of these offers you must provide proof of residency (any official document with your address on it).
1. Free garden waste drop off and extended opening hours
From Tuesday, January 21 to Saturday, January 25 Manningham residents impacted by the storm can drop off green waste free of charge to Manningham’s Garden waste centre at the corner of Blackburn Road and Websters Road, Templestowe.
2. Free skip bins to dispose of (green waste) storm debris
Free skip bins will be made available to Manningham residents wishing to dispose of storm debris (green waste only). The bins will be staffed by Council officers from 6.00am to 4.00pm each day from Wednesday, January 22. Please note: Council officers will not be able to assist residents to dispose of any waste.
Skip bin locations (green waste only):
Carpark at the rear of Warrandyte Library – 168 Yarra Street (Enter via Webb Street) Warrandyte
Please note that bin must be put out on the evening of Friday, January 24 and will be collected on either Saturday, January 25 or Sunday, January 26.
Nillumbik Shire Council will arrange a second green waste bin pick up in the North Warrandyte area later in the week, details to follow.
A spokesperson from Nillumbik Council told the Diary, “Affected residents from these areas can use their green waste vouchers to dispose of their storm debris free of charge at the Nillumbik Recycling and Recovery Centre, 290 Yan Yean Rd, Plenty.
“If you have already used your three vouchers, you can access up to three additional vouchers”.
These vouchers are valid for a two-week period from Friday, January 24 to Monday, February 3.
The Recycling and Recovery Centre is open Friday-Monday, 8am-4pm.