News

Nillumbik adopts Green Wedge Plan


FOLLOWING extensive community consultation, Nillumbik Shire Council adopted its Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP) at the Council meeting on November 26 by four votes to three, but not without controversy as the meeting was interrupted by a group of eight protesters.
The new plan will provide direction for the management of the Green Wedge over the next decade.
It includes a vision, principles, goals, objectives and key actions and has been informed by extensive community engagement over the past 18 months, including an independent panel to provide recommendations to Council.
Council received 746 submissions in response to the draft GWMP during the six-week community consultation period in July and August and their Future Nillumbik Committee also heard 80 verbal submissions in September.
The plan was further revised in response to the feedback received from the community.
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan said Council appreciated the feedback and had listened to what the community had to say.
“While there have been divergent views on how the Green Wedge should be managed, one thing is clear — our community is passionate about this unique landscape in which we live, work and visit,” Cr Egan said.
Nillumbik’s Green Wedge is one of 12 across Melbourne and covers 91 per cent of the Shire.
Land uses include conservation, agriculture, rural living and tourism.
Now that the GWMP has been adopted, annual implementation plans will be prepared.
Max Parsons of the Nillumbik Proactive Landowners Group (PALs) told the Diary “PALs fully supports the new GWMP as adopted at the Council meeting on November 26.
“ The new GWMP provides a comprehensive strategy for the future of the Green Wedge that represents an appropriate balance of all the factors that contribute to living in the landscape.
“Acknowledgement of the role that landowners play in a successful green wedge has been long overdue and was sadly lacking in the previous plan.
“This has been achieved whilst simultaneously balancing the importance of biodiversity and significant important vegetation with a landowners’ right to live and thrive within the same green wedge.”
Don Macrae from the Wedge Tales blog — which is sponsored by the Warrandyte Community Association, the Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group tells us that “the most positive outcome of the entire program has been community involvement in the plan” and gives it tacit approval but awards no cigar.
“To spend in the vicinity of $500,000 on this project was outrageous.”
Following up with Mr Macrae, he has confirmed this figure is a “conservative” educated guess based on Council approving consultation fees of $345,000 in 2017 and factoring in the costs of running the community panel.
A spokesperson for the protestors told us “Council disregarded the results of their own community consultation process, wasting over $300,000 of ratepayers’ money.”
We reproduce Green Wedge Plan Adopted by Council, no cigar by Don Macrae — which has been edited for print publication and an account from the Green Wedge protest group in attendance at the November 26 council meeting.

Council’s Green Wedge Plan falls short of community expectations

By DON MACRAE
WEDGE TALES BLOG
AMID SCENES of protest, at its November meeting Nillumbik Council “adopted” a new Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP).
The gallery was packed and the Council divided, but the motion to “adopt” the GWMP was passed along the now familiar 4–3 lines.
Nillumbik’s first GWMP was adopted in 2010 and was intended to serve as a basis until 2025.
For reasons never explained the current Nillumbik Council decided to prepare a replacement, which after a year-long project has now been formally adopted by Council.
This new GWMP shifts focus away from the natural environment and towards the expectations of resident landowners, as expressed in the phrase “Living in the Landscape”, the title of the current Council Plan.
The best that can be said about it is that it is unlikely to do much harm.
It is a document of only 26 pages which is more like notes towards a plan rather than an actual plan.
As a pamphlet or discussion document it is better than the published draft, but it is insubstantial.
A reference to “buffer zones”, a concept that featured in the draft, designed to allow more subdivision in the vicinity of the urban growth boundary and which attracted massive community criticism, has been removed — a distinct improvement.
But, the idea that some areas of the Shire zoned Rural Conservation should be rezoned remains, although it really does not look like becoming a serious proposal.
The document suggests that there is “land dotted throughout the RCZ that is already cleared for agriculture”,  and which should be rezoned Green Wedge Zone (GWZ) so that land owners can engage in agriculture without getting a permit.
To create a rezoning proposal would require significant effort but there does not appear to be any intention to embark on such a project.
Furthermore, if the intention is to allow agriculture to proceed on suitable land it is entirely within the Council’s control to expedite permit assessments.
Sustaining agriculture on agricultural land in green wedges is a challenging issue, but this rezoning idea probably has more to do with satisfying the “less regulation” constituency than with promoting agriculture.
The Green Wedge townships are important elements in the Shire and need to work as attractive gateways to the Green Wedge for visitors as well as providing amenity for residents.
The GWMP recognises also that [the townships] will need to be the focus of additional ageing-in-place facilities for Shire residents, as well as for increasing population.
The State Government mandates that green wedge councils must  prepare a Green Wedge Management Plan.
But this GWMP appears to have been planned as a public relations exercise.
The focus of the project was a community consultation program culminating in a “Community Panel”, which made recommendations to Council.
Then came the publication of a draft and the hearing of community submissions on the draft.
The total cost of the project has not been made public, but if all internal costs as well as consultant charges are included it is probably approaching $500,000.
As was pointed out in several of the submissions on the draft, the State Government’s Planning Practice Note 31: Preparing a Green Wedge Management Plan was not followed, contrary to Cr Clarke’s claim at the council meeting.
No Steering Committee was established and no formal collaboration with relevant bodies was embraced.
Management of the program appears to have been overseen by an external consultant without a planning background, and in the face of the loss of long term Council planning staff.
One clear outcome of the community consultation program was to confirm that the Shire overwhelmingly values the environment and in principle supports the planning scheme.
Only a very few survey respondents complained of too much regulation, so it was surprising that the draft GWMP  contained significant elements which did not respect this.
The adopted GWMP is less offensive.
But, at the conclusion of the project, what have we got for all that expense and effort?
This has been a council intent on change.
Its cavalier treatment of two development applications in 2017 and its apparent attack on its own organisation makes this plain.
It is believed that council staff turnover in 2017/18 exceeded 25 per cent, and eventually included all Senior Managers.
To replace the substantial, previous GWMP with this brief document has the appearance of a political act.
The most positive outcome of the entire program has been community involvement.
There were 688 responses to an online survey and 181 people attended community workshops.
There was a total of 746 submissions in response to the draft, mostly critical.
Many Shire residents have an increased understanding of how our Green Wedge works.
But to spend in the vicinity of $500,000 on this project was outrageous.

Environment protesters disrupt Council meeting

By HANNAH GRAHAM
AT THE NILLUMBIK Council meeting on November 26, a group of eight protesters interrupted Councillors before they voted to pass their draft Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP).
Eight people, dressed in cloaks eco-printed with local native plants, walked into the meeting when the Green Wedge Management Plan agenda item was announced.
They broke into song; singing about saving the Green Wedge, and asking why the majority of the community were ignored during the consultation process in regards to this plan’s review.
Both Mayor Karen Egan and Cr Jane Ashton promptly left the room when the protesters walked in.
There was both support and disapproval amongst the audience in the gallery.
Some joined in on the singing, as lyric sheets seem to have been circulated.
The protesters then silently turned their backs on the councillors whilst standing in a line.
They wore signs on their backs which read, “Don’t turn your back on community”.
Signs on their front read , “$300k+ Community Consultation”, “Community Panel Ignored”, “80% of Submissions Ignored”, “You speak for us not just your pals”, “Next Election: October 2020”.
After standing for a couple minutes, the protesters were warned to leave the room by Mayor Karen Egan — who had since returned.
An agitated man in the gallery attempted to shove protesters apart and the protesters proceeded to walk out of the gallery in silent procession.
One of the protesters had this to say about the disruption.
“We don’t want to upset the peace by going against the council meeting process, but we feel that the councillors have left us no other choice.
“They disregarded the results of their own community consultation process, wasting over $300,000 of ratepayers’ money.
“The majority of the community objected to the draft plan which seemed intent on looking at the Green Wedge as capital for a minority of private landholders, rather than vital native habitat, and a carbon sink.
“At this time of mass extinction and an unsafe climate the revised Green Wedge Management Plan was an opportunity for Council to prioritise the environment for the safety of all Victorians.
“That’s what the community wanted, but they ignored us.
“We disrupted the councillors in this way because we knew they couldn’t ignore us”.

Every which way you turn


CALLS HAVE resumed for VicRoads to solve the dangerous intersection at Five Ways, where Croydon Road, Brumbys Road and Husseys Lane intersect with Ringwood-Warrandyte Road.
An online petition has gathered more than 1000 signatures after recently being returned to circulation.
It is calling for improved traffic controls at the intersection.
The petition was initiated two years ago and has recently resurfaced on Facebook where it has generated a lot of discussion.
Petitioner Renny Koerner-Brown told the Diary she was prompted to start the petition following several near misses with cars mistakenly turning into Brumbys Road “only to have them do an abrupt u-turn” in front of her “leaving me out in a horrendous intersection in on-coming traffic”.
Mary-Anne Lowe is a resident on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, and says every day she navigates the intersection pulling a horse float.
She spoke with the Diary about the issues she has encountered.
“It is a daily occurrence to witness blaring horns, near misses and unfortunately I have also witnessed an accident with a horse float in the last two years,” Ms Lowe said.
She says traffic from all directions need a smoother transition and clearer instruction to make it safer for all road users.
Another South Warrandyte resident, Kim Dixon, said she has been sending letters to VicRoads for years about the intersection.
She says that the confusion at the intersection itself is only part of the problem.
“I reside in Colman Road and the traffic we get coming down our street, to avoid this intersection, is horrendous.
“[Colman Road] is not designed to take traffic travelling in both directions, it is extremely narrow and there are a number of places in which cars cannot safely pass each other,” Ms Dixon said.
She said that as a result of her ongoing complaints, around eight years ago Maroondah Council installed speed humps in their section of roadway and Manningham Council have also recently installed four speed humps.
“Unfortunately, these devices have not deterred the amount of traffic that use this road to avoid the intersection,” Ms Dixon said.
“In all my correspondence [to VicRoads] I have stated that the issue in Colman Road is a direct consequence of the dangerous intersection at Croydon Road and [Ringwood-]Warrandyte Road — I get the same reply, “this intersection is not our priority”.
Leigh Harrison, Director City Services for Manningham Council said Manningham Council is aware of congestion issues and safety concerns along Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and would support an upgrade of this intersection.
“The intersection is an important connection for local roads connecting to Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, including Brumbys Road which is a no-through road.
“While VicRoads is responsible for any upgrade works, options that could be considered include a roundabout or new traffic signals,” he said.
State Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith, said he has been asking the Government for several years about the intersection, but he says the response he has received has been disappointing.
“I have raised the very real concerns from local residents about this dangerous intersection on a number of occasions, but these concerns have fallen on the Government’s deaf ears.
“I would hate to think that a tragedy has to occur before we see any action from the Andrews Government.
“Fix the problem now so we can avoid the kind of fatal accident that many locals believe is an inevitability,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith showed the Diary a series of correspondence he has had with various Roads Ministers, during his last foray into the issue in March 2017.
Back then, he was advised: “VicRoads has been monitoring the safety record at the intersection of Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, Croydon Road and Husseys Lane in Warrandyte South.
“There has been no reported injury crash at the intersection in the most recent five-year period.
“The average two-way daily traffic volume on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road has increased from 5,700 vehicles per day in 2015 to 5,800 in 2017.
“The configuration of the intersection is in accordance with relevant guidelines and is similar to many other intersections across Melbourne.
“Based on the safety record and in inspection of the site, VicRoads considered the intersection to be operating safely for all road users.
“VicRoads will continue to monitor the road safety at this location to determine the need for any future improvements.”
Member for North East Metropolitan, Sonja Terpstra told the Diary she had not had any contact from constituents regarding this intersection, but that she would follow the issue up with the Roads Minister.
The Diary contacted VicRoads for comment and a Department of Transport spokesperson said that they receive many requests each year for safety improvements and upgrades to intersections, including new traffic lights, from across Victoria, and that all requests are prioritised based on the extent to which such a treatment would improve safety and/or congestion at each intersection.
The unnamed spokesperson said that VicRoads consider a range of factors such as the number and type of vehicles using the intersection, the need to cater for pedestrians, the historical safety record of the site and the impact the improvements would have on the surrounding road network.
“The safety of everyone travelling on our roads is our number one priority, and we’re continually looking at ways we can make it safer and easier for people to use our road network.
“We’ll continue to monitor this intersection to see if there’s any safety improvements we can make,” the Department of Transport spokesperson said.

 

Community’s development dread at Eltham gateway

By JAMES POYNER

THE ROUNDABOUT at Fitzsimons Lane/Main Road on the Eltham—Templestowe border has become the focal point of a conflict between green-minded conservation groups in the latest infrastructure development from the State’s Major Roads Project team.
As part of the $2.2million Northern and South Eastern Roads Upgrade, the roundabout, which marks the gateway to the Green Wedge from Templestowe, is planned to be developed into an 11 lane intersection, in an effort to reduce congestion and improve safety.
In background supplied by Major Roads Project Victoria (MRPV), the agency stated the upgrade would “benefit more than 60,000 people who use the busy road every day.”
“Unfortunately, some tree and vegetation removal will be necessary to carry out the upgrade.
“However, Major Road Projects Victoria will plant new vegetation where there is available land within the project boundary and manage landscape and vegetation loss in accordance with statutory obligations.
“Design revisions to date have been able to save more than 100 trees in the vicinity of the project, and any options to minimise the removal of trees will continue to be considered.”
If you have not seen Eltham Community Action Group’s campaign against the development of this intersection on social media, you may have noticed the red ribbons tied around trees on and around the Fitzsimons/Main Road roundabout.
These are the trees currently marked for removal.
Nillumbik Council issued a press release on October 22 stating their disapproval of the upgrade in the face of opposition from residents and community groups with ties to the Shire.
“While Council recognises that congestion is a significant issue at the intersection and supports State Government efforts to improve this issue, Council does not support the planning process to deliver this project”.
In their last Community Update in April 2019, MRPV indicated construction would begin in 2020.
The Diary asked MRPV if there was any room for additional discussion and design changes to the project between now and 2020, to prevent the destruction of trees at the roundabout.
A spokesperson from MRPV responded:
“The Fitzsimons Lane upgrade will improve congestion, making it easier and safer for the community to travel through and around the area.
“We recognise that the greenery surrounding the Eltham Gateway is a key feature of Nillumbik’s unique landscape and we’re committed to minimising this project’s impact on the environment.
“We’ll continue to keep the community up to date as the planning stage progresses.
“We will consult with the community throughout the life of the project, ensuring that we continue to hear and consider their feedback on this important project,” they said.
MRPV has told the Diary it will be releasing revised designs — which save more than 100 trees in the vicinity — in the coming weeks.

 

What goes around comes around


THE REUSE SHOP at Nillumbik’s Recycling and Recovery Centre in Plenty reopened on October 25.
In an effort to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, the shop takes items delivered to the Recovery Centre that cannot be recycled, but are in good condition, and prepares them for sale on site.
In August 2018, the shop had to close while the intersection between the Recovery Centre and Yan Yean Road took place as part of the State Government’s Major Roads project.
With works now complete, the ReUse shop announced its reopening on Facebook, on October 18.
The reopening is yet another plus for Nillumbik residents and businesses in a month which has seen the tables slowly begin to turn in the war on waste.
On October 6, Nillumbik announced they had made a short-term agreement with KordaMentha, SKM’s receivers to send waste and recycling to the (then) newly reopened Laverton North recycling facility, with kerbside recycling services returning to normal on October 7.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan expressed Council’s joy in seeing normality resume.
“This is exciting progress for our residents, who are enthusiastic recyclers and have been waiting patiently for proper services to resume,” she said.
On October 10, Cleanaway Pty Ltd, who acquired SKM’s senior secured debt of $60 million from the Commonwealth Bank in August, announced the acquisition of all SKM assets — which includes three recycling facilities in Victoria.
Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal commented on the acquisition.
“The Acquisition provides Cleanaway with a strong recycling platform in Victoria and Tasmania as part of our Footprint 2025 strategy and our mission of making a sustainable future possible.
“The recycling sector is undergoing significant structural changes with a move to increase recycling within Australia to support a transition towards a circular economy.
“The Acquisition provides us with the infrastructure to capitalise on the growth opportunities created by these changes.”
Nillumbik Council has also confirmed the current arrangement to send recycling to Laverton North remains in place.
At State level, there are a number of policies and strategies in development to further enhance our ability to “reduce, reuse and recycle”.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) are currently developing a circular economy policy which aims to repurpose our waste though repair, recycled goods, and energy generation, in an effort to divert as much waste as possible from landfill.
An initial issues paper and a series of workshops occurred between July and September, with the final outcome and report expected to be released later this year.
Advisory body Infrastructure Victoria released an evidence-based report on October 20 which looked at Victoria’s waste and recycling industry and has outlined a number of solutions for the future.
One possible solution which has sparked interest in national press is the possibility that Victorian’s may end up separating rubbish into six or more bins (organics, plastics, paper, glass, metals and other are given as examples) to reduce the need to co-mingle which, the report suggests, will allow for cleaner waste transport streams which would reduce the risk of contamination and potentially stop recyclables being sent to landfill.
Although the circular economy and the proposal for additional recycling bins is still a long way from becoming a reality, at least the light at the end of the (waste)tunnel is a little bit brighter.
In the meantime, Warrandyte and surrounds should simply continue to do what we do best; take advantage of the monthly Repair Café, fossick and visit the shops like ReUse in Plenty.

 

Bag ban to stop litter before it begins

By SANDI MILLER

THE VICTORIAN Government has now banned single-use, lightweight plastic shopping bags across Victoria.
Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said the Labor Government would consult closely with businesses and the community on how best to implement the policy.
“Banning single-use plastic bags will slash waste, reduce litter and help protect marine life in Victoria’s pristine waters,” she said.
The trick for all of us will be to avoid adopting behaviours with an even greater environmental impact, such as relying on heavier single-use plastic bags.
Plastics in the environment break up into smaller and smaller pieces over time, becoming increasingly difficult to manage.
They can end up in our waterways, lakes and oceans — contributing to litter and posing a significant hazard to our marine life.
As seen in last month’s Diary, when local photographer Denise Illing captured a photograph of a platypus tangled in rubbish, our local river-dwelling creatures suffer from the pollution that ends up in the Yarra.
Reducing the number of plastic bags we use is an important part of addressing the overall impacts of plastic pollution.
The phasing out of bags in supermarkets is now well established, and local supermarket owner Julie Quinton has said that people are getting much better in remembering to bring their own bags.
Warrandyte Riverside Market has prepared stallholders for the ban, and has been suggesting market goers bring their own bag for some months in the lead up to the ban.
Dick Davies from the Market committee said they are taking the ban very seriously, with committee members checking compliance at the market.
“Any concerned customers can also report non-compliance to the market office marquee in the Stiggant Street car park,” Dick said.
He said customers also have a responsibility to bring their own bags and reusable coffee cups.
“Even plastic or cardboard cups labelled ‘eco-friendly’ are not bio-degradable if the appropriate disposable or recycling facilities are unavailable,” he said.
He said the market has attempted a number of times to provide reusable ceramic coffee mugs but “has run into problems meeting the required food hygiene criteria”.
“Our best advice to shoppers is ‘Bring your own bag and cup’”, Dick said.
The 2015/16 Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index reported that Victoria has the lowest litter count in the country for the fifth year in a row.
Let’s keep it that way.

 

New Research Pavillion kicks goals


CRICKET AND FOOTBALL in Research has a shiny new home, with the opening of the $3 million Research Park Pavilion.
Eltham MP Vicki Ward opened the pavilion on behalf of Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek.
She said she understood the importance of having such a community facility in Research.
“To be able to have every gathering that people want to have, at a venue in Research, is just fantastic,” she said.
The redevelopment project took almost 10 years from conception, and replaces the ground’s ageing infrastructure, and followed a huge turnout to a pivotal council meeting in 2017, which was attended by almost 300 club members in a show of support.
On the strength of the community engagement in the project the Council adopted the two-story option, rather than just a single-story pavilion.
The expanded clubrooms allow for a social space both for the resident clubs, but also for the whole community.

The then Mayor, Peter Clarke told the Diary that Council had to decide between a $1.2m single-storey pavilion, or an $1.7m double-storey.
“What it achieved was the financial viability of the clubs, because the clubs earn money out of that space as well as lease it out.”
He said the facility fills a need in Research for a community hub, and Council is encouraging community groups to use the space during the week.
“You do these things once and you do them really well — there is no good doing two-thirds of the task.
“This will last for 30–40 years — it’s a good investment in the future,” Cr Clarke said.
The two-storey redevelopment at the park, which is home to the Research Junior Football Club (RJFC) and Research Eltham Collegians Cricket Club (RECCC), has allowed for greater participation across the community.
Current Deputy Mayor Bruce Ranken, who is also the social infrastructure portfolio councillor, said the new pavilion was long overdue.
“The previous sports pavilion on this site was ageing and no longer fit for purpose,” Cr Ranken said.
“Council listened to what the community had to say and now we have this modern all-inclusive facility.
“This project shows what can be done with people power.”
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan said the upgrade included the addition of two much-needed female change rooms and facilities for female umpires.
“This wonderful new facility is a win for our whole community and, importantly, caters for the growing number of females in sport,” she said.
“Both the football and cricket clubs have had increasing numbers of female members over the past few years.
“But the growth of female participation in sport locally has been restricted by the lack of facilities and I’m pleased we are smashing these barriers here in Research,” Cr Egan said.
Paul Northey from Research Junior Football Club said that the new facilities would be fantastic for their 15 junior football teams — including four girls’ teams — and “would be an asset for the whole community for generations”.
Chris Cunningham from the Research and Eltham Collegians Cricket Club who play out of the facility said that the stadium would allow access for their 10 junior teams, including two girls’ sides, six mixed seniors’ sides, and a veterans’ team, an over sixties team and an all-abilities side.
Nillumbik Council contributed $1.69 million to the project as well as $265,000 for the upcoming car park works.
The State Government provided a total of $950,000, with $650 through the Growing Suburbs Fund, a $100,000 grant from Sport and Recreation Victoria and $200,000 in funding through a State Government election commitment in 2014.
“We went into every bucket,” Ms Ward quipped.
The football and cricket clubs raised $130,000 for the pavilion.
The pavilion features an upstairs community hall with kitchen, bar and meeting rooms overlooking the grounds.
Downstairs are four player change rooms, umpire change rooms and an accessible toilet and lift.

Grant awarded to fight deer


THE VICTORIAN Government has awarded grants of $30,000 to local Landcare groups to continue their work in protecting the local environment.
Part of this year’s grants program is supporting the work of Friends of Warrandyte State Park and Andersons Creek Landcare, both member groups of the Middle Yarra Landcare Network who received a grant of $10,900.
These groups are working to protect the last populations of Variable Billybuttons and Musk Daisy-bush from sambar deer in Warrandyte State Park and Manningham (see story below).
Sonja Terpstra MP, Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region , congratulated the successful recipients of the 2019–20 Victorian Landcare Grants.
“It is projects like these that make a significant contribution to both the environment and the economy,” Ms Terpstra said.
She said the annual grants program delivers “critical funding to Landcare and other environmental volunteer groups who make significant contributions to caring for the environment through on-ground works, education and capacity building projects.”
In a statement to the Diary, she said over the past four years, the Victorian Government has provided “more than $149 million to protect Victoria’s biodiversity, supporting native and threatened species through a range of on-ground initiatives and funding”.
Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said more needs to be done with respect to deer management.
“A large number of residents have contacted me in relation to the huge number of deer in the area, which is rightly being seen as a danger to both drivers and our sensitive environment,” he said.
Mr Smith said he raised the deer issue with the Environment Minister Lily d’Ambrosio 10 weeks ago, but has “yet to receive a response from her acknowledging the growing problem”.
“With the Minister failing to respond to my electorate, and with the Deer Management Strategy update almost eight months late, it is clear this concern has not even made it on to her to-do list.
“Any contribution to our committed volunteers is welcome, but this funding is a drop in the ocean when measured in the context of a problem that is reaching epic proportions.”
Ms Terpstra said the funding focuses on protecting and managing a range of native plants and animals, threatened species and habitats through collaborative planning, increased engagement and alignment of natural resources, scientific, educational and community sectors.
The Christmas Hills Landcare Group also received $19,000 as part of an ongoing program to eradicate woody weeds and to hold a talk to “Learn About Owls” in the Christmas Hills area (see story below).
Landcare is a key component of the Victorian Government’s plan Protecting Victoria’s Environment — Biodiversity 2037, which sets out the strategy to stop the decline of native plants and animals and ensure the environment is healthy, valued and cared for.
Ms Terptra conveyed her congratulations to the grant recipients.
“It is projects like these which make a significant contribution to both the environment and the economy.”
She also said investment in Landcare in the Warrandyte area was important “so that local communities can enjoy our precious natural environment for years to come.”

Landcare focuses on fencing out the deer

By ARTUR MUCHOW,
Middle Yarra Landcare

EACH YEAR local Landcare groups have the opportunity to apply for project funding from the State Government’s Landcare budget.
This year we are fortunate to have received nearly $11,000 in total for a substantial effort to protect specific native plants badly impacted by the growth in deer numbers.
The funding will be invested mainly in fencing material and plants.
This work is designed, in the short term, to limit sambar deer on Parks Victoria land and will enlist the support of Manningham Council.
Deer are browsing, trampling and rubbing threatened indigenous plants and their habitat, causing erosion, preventing natural regeneration and spreading weeds.
In the longer term we await the new Victorian Deer Management Strategy, now reported as due out later this year to address the problem at its source.
Friends of Warrandyte State Park (FOWSP) and Andersons Creek Landcare, member groups of the Middle Yarra Landcare Network (MYLN), will share the funding and co-ordinate their work to build fences and replant
destroyed species.
Between them, the two groups have 250 volunteer members, many of whom have special knowledge and skills to apply across the two Landcare groups and importantly to share with all volunteers.
Together they will co-ordinate on all aspects from planning right through to monitoring outcomes.
This year’s project will also cater for volunteers who enjoy particular activities such as monitoring and plant identification, especially important in this project.
There will be plenty of tasks for those who enjoy being physical, with fence building a big focus.
We are constantly told by volunteers that they love the involvement with Landcare because they are outdoors doing something to contribute to preserving the natural habitat, while meeting new people.
Volunteers of all ages are always needed, regardless of their experience level, so please join in.
Andersons Creek Landcare runs on Wednesdays 10am–12pm and FOWSP every Thursday 9am–12pm.
Contact both groups through Facebook to participate either regularly or occasionally.

Funding for Christmas Hills Landcare projects

By DON EVANS

Christmas Hills Landcare THE CHRISTMAS HILLS Landcare group received $19,000 in grants to allow landowners to protect and respect the local environment.

There are two parts to this project — the first builds on a long-running staged program of woody weed removal in remnant forests on private land in Christmas Hills that commenced in 2011.
To date, this program has treated woody weeds on 50 private properties covering a total of 669 hectares, and this new grant will enable us to treat woody weeds in 99.7 ha of remnant vegetation on 10 properties.
Complementing woody weed control works that Melbourne Water and Parks Victoria are also doing locally, this work will continue to improve the quality of our remnant vegetation, and the function of the habitat corridor it forms connecting Kinglake National Park to the Yarra River corridor and Warrandyte State Park.
This is all for the benefit of the rich diversity of flora and fauna Christmas Hills supports.
The second part to this project also builds on a long-running program of helping local landholders to better understand, and connect to, the natural environment of which they are custodians.
Specifically, this grant will enable local landholders to learn about the range of owl species that are believed to occur in and around Christmas Hills.
It will do this through a flight display of live owls that will give landholders the opportunity to meet some of the local species face-to-face, coupled with information on what landholders can do on their own properties to support owls.

The whys and wherefores of bylaws: Pets


Photo: Anthony Edge

HAVING A PET is a privilege and a responsibility.
There are rules around pet ownership that must be adhered to.
These rules ensure that both your pets and other members of the community are able to live together.
These rules are administered by our local councils, and while they differ slightly across all municipalities across Victoria, they all follow State Law, largely the Domestic Animals Act 1994.
Manningham’s Acting Director City Planning and Community, Niall Sheehy and Nillumbik CEO, Carl Cowie gave the Diary the lowdown about pet ownership in their municipalities.

Getting a pet

What some people may not be aware of, is that from July,1 2019, any person or business who is advertising to sell or give away a dog, cat, puppy or kitten will need to be enrolled on the Pet Exchange Register.
“The dog or cat must be advertised with the animal’s microchip number and source number, which has been generated by the Pet Exchange Register,” said Mr Sheehy.
The Pet Exchange Register allocates this unique source number to animals which ensures sellers are transparent about where an animal comes from.Sellers must ensure animals are microchipped before they change owners and animals must be microchipped before 12 weeks of age.
Once someone takes ownership of a new pet, they  should contact Council to register their animal as soon as possible.
Pet registrations are due to be renewed each year on April 10, but all puppies and kittens must be registered by three months of age — this is not the same as microchip registration.
The registration fee gives you more than just a lost and found service for your pet.
It is also funds:

  • facilities such as dog parks, dog poo bins and pounds/shelters
  • animal management staff to attend to nuisance complaints, investigate dog attacks, patrol parks/beaches/streets, and collect and return stray animals to owners
  • events such as pet expos and discount microchipping days
  • information such as responsible pet ownership publications, websites, and online courses
  • domestic animal business audits (e.g. to check animal welfare standards in pet shops, breeding facilities, boarding kennels etc)
  • management of dangerous and restricted breed dogs
  • dog bite prevention education programs for kindergarten and primary school children
  • emergency animal welfare preparedness
  • research into a range of dog and cat welfare issues

In Manningham and Nillumbik there are limits to the number of pets and/or livestock per household can have.
Residents can have two cats and two dogs per household without needing a permit.
There are also limits on other animals that can be kept.
In Nillumbik, without a permit a person must not keep more than:

  • 5 reptiles* or rodents
  • 10 large birds
  • 25 small birds
  • 1 rooster
  • 24 poultry

on any land throughout the municipality.
Keeping some animals may require additional licences.
*You are able to have up to five reptiles without a permit, however, you may need to obtain a licence from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to keep most species of reptiles in captivity.
In Manningham, the numbers vary slightly:

  • 13 domestic birds
  • 8 mice
  • 4 rabbits
  • 8 guinea pigs
  • 4 chickens, ducks, geese or pigeons

If you wish to exceed these limits, you may apply for an excess animal permit.
In Manningham, a permit is required to keep any emu, ostrich, goat, sheep, cow, pig, bull, or horse in an area less than two acres (8000 sqm).
And in either municipality, a person must not keep any livestock on any land in a residential zone or any land of an area less than 4000sqm.
A pet pig, for example, is considered livestock, so depending on the land zoning and size, a permit may be required.
Mr Cowie told the Diary if residents are seeking to keep animals outside these categories there is a vast array of laws that impact on having exotic or native animals as pets.
“In general, Agriculture Victoria is responsible for the legislation, regulations and standards that governs ownership of these pet types,” he said.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 protects the welfare of all animals, including amphibians.
Council is responsible for any issues that relate to breaches of containment, cleanliness, smell or noise nuisance that may come from exotic and native pets.
If you want to keep a native animal, for example a dingo, possum, or kangaroo, a private wildlife licence would be required.
These can be obtained through DELWP.

Dog laws

There are several areas of conflict where dog owners come into conflict with other community members.
One is persistent barking.
If a dog in a neighbouring property is too noisy and unreasonably disturbs you, the first step is to make contact with the dog owner to alert them that their dog is causing a nuisance.
If the barking persists and is deemed to be unreasonable, you can contact council to intervene.
The other area of conflict is dog waste.
Mr Sheehy told the Diary that for the enjoyment of the whole community dog owners need to carry a waste bag and pick up after their dog in public.
“Failure to do so could result in a $200 fine,” he said.
He said Manningham Council provide free poo pouches to dog owners.
“These pouches are often handed out by Council Rangers at our parks and reserves”.
Mr Cowie said Nillumbik Shire Council’s Amenity Local Law, states that a person in charge of a dog in a public place must have dog poo bags (or another receptacle to pick up their dog’s excrement) with them.
“They must ensure their dog’s excrement is collected and disposed of appropriately.
“Additionally, if requested by an authorised officer, the owner must present the bags (or other receptacle) they have with them to collect their pet’s waste,” Mr Cowie said.
There are many places to take dogs to run off-leash.
Manningham has 81 off-lead dog areas, including 28 sporting grounds and the popular Warrandyte River Reserve.
Nillumbik have 13 off-lead areas, including two dedicated off-lead dog parks.
One is in Diamond Creek and the other in Hurstbridge.Mr Cowie said off-lead areas throughout the municipality can be located on the Nillumbik website.
However, there are no Council-managed off-lead areas located in North Warrandyte.
Off-lead does not mean a dog can run amok.
Every off-lead dog area has its own signage and guidelines that must be adhered to and they all require off-lead dogs to be under effective control,” said Mr Sheehy.
Effective control by command means the dog must be:

  • Within 25 metres of the owner.
  • The owner is able to see the dog at all times.
  • The owner can recall the dog immediately when needed.

There are further guidelines that help people to act as responsible dog owners and avoid causing concern to other users of a park.
Guidelines include:

  • A dog is at least 15 metres away from permanent barbecue facilities, children’s play equipment, organised sporting events, approved functions or public meetings.
  • A dog’s owner has a leash on hand at all times.
  • A dog is not threatening of worrying any other user of the park.
  • A dog’s owner brings their dog under immediate control if any aggressive behaviour or threat is displayed to another person or animal.
  • A dog’s owner stays alert and focused on the dog at all times.
  • A dog’s owner brings a maximum of two dogs to the park at one time.

There are rules around some breeds of dog which require special registration and cannot be imported or bred.
These include pure or cross bred American Pit Bull Terriers (or Pit Bull Terriers), Perro de Presa Canarios, Dogo Argentinos, Japanese Tosas, and Fila Brasileiros.
Rules have been removed for owners of greyhounds.
As of January 1, 2019, all pet greyhounds are no longer legally required to wear a muzzle in public, including retired racing greyhounds.
A greyhound adopted through Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Greyhound Adoption Program must always be on lead in any public place, but like other dogs, all greyhounds still need to be under effective control by their owner.

Cat owner responsibilities

There is no cat curfew in Manningham.
However, Council recommends that cats be confined to their owner’s properties.
Nillumbik Shire Council has an order requiring cats to be confined during the specified hours of 7:30pm to 6am and restricts the presence of cats in certain public areas (e.g. parks or reserves).
The curfew time remains the same all year round — including during daylight saving time.
Mr Sheehy said as per Victorian state law, cat owners are responsible for ensuring their cats do not wander onto a private property at any time.
“Stray cats may be seized, notices of objection may be served and further non-compliance may result in penalties being issued,” he said.

Vaccinating pet rabbits

Having pet rabbits can require additional precautions when kept in close proximity to feral rabbit populations.
A new strain of rabbit calicivirus, RHDV1 K5 (also known as K5); was released in Victoria in March to help land-owners control pest rabbits.
Anyone who owns pet rabbits should make sure that their vaccinations are up-to-date to protect against the virus.
Domestic pet rabbit owners can take the following extra precautions to protect pet rabbits from K5 infection:

  • Prevent contact between pet and pest rabbits.
  • Don’t cut grass from areas where pest rabbits may be foraging and feed it to pet rabbits.
  • Wash hands with warm soapy water between handling rabbits.
  • Insect-proof the hutch with fly and mosquito proof wire or keep pet rabbits indoors.

Choosing the right pet

No matter what pet you choose, the most responsible choice is one that fits in with your lifestyle.
Remember that puppies and kittens won’t be small and cute forever, so don’t get a puppy if you don’t want a dog.
They are a commitment for up to twenty years.
Ask yourself:

  • What type or breed will you choose?
  • What size dog?
  • How much time do you have for grooming and training?
  • What is your financial position?
  • Will it be kept inside, outside or both?
  • Why do you want a pet?
  • Where you are going to buy it?

Both male and female dogs and cats can be de-sexed at three months of age.
By de-sexing your pet you are promoting responsible pet ownership by preventing unwanted litters.
Council provides a discounted registration fee for dogs and cats what have been de-sexed.
When choosing the type of pet to suit your needs, consider the amount of time the animal will be alone, the time you can commit to grooming and care.
When considering a cat, think about whether there are native birds and animals in your area and whether you will have an enclosure for your cat.
In general, fine-boned oriental cat breeds are very active companions while the larger heavy-boned breeds tend to be more sedate and less inclined to hunt and wander.
And when considering a dog, remember that a cute pup is going to grow up — six months down the track your dog could grow to be much larger than expected.
Consider going to a rescue shelter when looking to adopt a new member of your family, there are many older dogs who deserve a second chance.

For more information, see your relevant council’s website, DELWP, or the Department of Agriculture, or get down to the Nillumbik Pet Expo in Diamond Creek on Sunday, October 20 and talk to Council officers about responsible pet ownership.

 

Recycling service resumes in Nillumbik

AT THE ELEVENTH hour Nillumbik Shire Council have secured a short-term deal with SKM receivers, KordaMentha, to deliver all recycling material to the recently reopened Laverton North facility.
In a press release issued on Sunday morning, Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan welcomed the new deal.
“This is exciting progress for our residents, who are enthusiastic recyclers and have been waiting patiently for proper services to resume,” she said.
However, the new deal has a number of restrictions which means it is not exactly business as usual.
Bundled plastic bags will no longer be accepted and any resident wanting to dispose of them should take them to a REDcycle program receptacle at Coles or Woolworths.
Stores in Eltham, Greensborough, The Pines, Diamond Creek and St Helena participate in this program.
Council has also said it does not have capacity for additional collections which means residents who have been stockpiling their recyclable material, in anticipation of services returning to normal, will need to take it to Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre at 290 Yan Yean Road, Plenty.
The new deal is also putting Nillumbik, and its residents on the frontline in the war against waste.
“The new arrangement is a lot stricter. If our recycling is more than 10 per cent contaminated, it may be rejected and sent to landfill.
“It’s up to residents to do the right thing,” said Cr Egan.
If and/or when the Laverton North facility is sold to another company, Council will likely need to renegotiate with the sites new owners.
KordaMentha is the advisory and investment firm appointed as receivers and managers to SKM Recycling Pty Ltd in August.
KordaMentha also received a $10 million State Government loan to aid in the restarting of proper recycling processes for the groups seven sites.
Nillumbik used to deliver to a facility in Coolaroo, but that facility currently remains closed.
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan thanked residents for their patience as Council worked to find a way through what is a national crisis.
“Nillumbik residents are among the best recyclers in Victoria and I encourage you to continue your efforts through our kerbside collection,” Cr Egan said.
Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre is also open to the public to drop off paper, cardboard and metals for recycling.
The cardboard and paper is collected from there by Veolia and taken to the VISY paper plant in Coolaroo, where it is made into new recycled packaging.
The metals are taken to Ecocycle where they are sorted and then recycled locally and overseas.
The fallout from SKM Recycling Pty Ltd entering receivership is still plaguing the State.
Every week there is another story in national press about the mess left by SKM after they failed to pay their creditors.
While the 33 councils impacted by this recycling crisis look to find solutions that avoid sending waste to landfill; warehouses, such as the one owned by Marwood Construction in Derrimut (as reported in The Age on September 29), which has 10,000 tonnes of waste stored by SKM before it went into receivership, currently have no way of getting rid of it.
The ABC recently reported that Indonesia is preparing to send 100 containers of plastic back to Australia following a discovery that the waste, earmarked for recycling, was contaminated.
The bottom line is, while the resumption of recycling services is good news for Nillumbik residents, this issue is far from over, to emulate the words of Nillumbik’s Mayor, it is up to all residents, regardless of municipality, to do the right thing and to continue to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Council’s recycling respite

By DAVID HOGG

The DIARY continues to follow the ongoing recycling crisis which has forced Nillumbik Council to take recycling waste to landfill for the past few weeks.
A comprehensive statement of the current position was posted on Nillumbik’s website on August 30.
“SKM’s Laverton facility is expected to re-commence processing recycling within five weeks; however, timeframes are still unknown for the Coolaroo, Geelong and Hallam facilities.”
Nillumbik, along with the 32 other Councils affected by the closure of SKM, is hopeful that this is the beginning of the return to normal recycling practices.
Presently Nillumbik, like many other councils, has no alternative than to send this material to landfill, but is exploring alternatives to try and stop this from happening.
An earlier bulletin from Nillumbik gave indication of the complex and confusing series of contracts in place, the Diary sought clarification from Nillumbik’s Chief Executive Officer Carl Cowie.
Nillumbik Shire Council is one of five Councils that has a contract with the Metropolitan Waste Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) to manage its recycling, and they in turn have a contract with SKM Industries Pty Ltd.
A separate company, SKM Corporate Pty Ltd, was the first to be placed into liquidation, and another company SKM Recycling Pty Ltd has a direct deed with Nillumbik Council for day to day contractual matters.
On August 21, mainstream media reported Cleanaway paid $60m to become the major lender and has put Cleanaway, effectively, in control of the recycling group.
Although the details of contracts and payment arrangements, which were renegotiated in June just before this crisis broke, have been kept as a closely guarded secret by Council, Mr Cowie clarified that Council does not continue to pay SKM or its receivers if they do not take recycling.
Recycling sent to landfill is subject to the Victorian government’s landfill levy.
The Victorian government recently announced financial support to councils to manage the impacts on their recycling system with the closure of SKM, but the specific detail of this financial assistance on a council-by-council basis is not yet fully understood.
As well as continuing to work with the MWRRG on alternatives, Council is applying for some of the $6.6 million recycling rebate on offer from the Victorian Government to help cover the cost of the landfill levy.
It is also exploring options to accept a broader range of separated materials such as glass and plastics at their Recycling and Recovery Centre.
Although Nillumbik and other councils will be relieved recycling sorting facilities are coming back online, this crisis is far from over.
Manningham Council is not affected at this stage, as its recyclables are handled by Visy Recycling.

The whys and wherefores of bylaws: nature strips

COUNCIL AREAS have many different rules and bylaws in place that residents must adhere to when going about their daily lives.
Sometimes quite differently in each of our two municipalities.
In this new series the Diary seeks to clarify what can and cannot be done under these local laws.
This month we investigate the what and the why around nature strips.

What exactly is a nature strip?

According to VicRoads, a nature strip, sometimes called a road verge, is defined as “the area between a road and adjacent land and includes — amongst other things — areas of grass, cement or gravel, dirt and driveways — it does not include the kerb, shoulder of a road or a bicycle path, footpath or shared path”.
Given the semi-rural environment in Warrandyte and North Warrandyte, nature strips are a bit of a grey area for many people — we often do not have the standard footpath and strip of lawn that you see in the urban areas of the municipalities.
So what does that mean for homeowners and occupiers?

Can I, can’t I

Nillumbik CEO, Carl Cowie advised the Diary that it is “accepted practice that residents maintain the nature strip abutting their property as an extension of their garden”.
However, contradicting this, he also said residents must not remove or prune indigenous vegetation, non-indigenous vegetation or trees on nature strips or rural roads without Council permission, and if a resident wants to plant on the nature strip, they need written permission from Council.
“The resident must submit an application that includes a map of the area and a list of the plant species intended for planting,” he said.
The proposed species must be from the Live Local Plant Local publication.
Mr Cowie says Council is responsible for maintaining trees on council land.
“Residents are allowed to remove plants on the weed list of the Live Local Plant Local publication,” said Mr Cowie.
In Manningham, road verges are council owned land, these can be traditional style nature strips, road reserves or tree reserves.
Manningham Director of City Planning and Community, Angelo Kourambas told the Diary Council is responsible for managing trees on council land, however in contrast to Nillumbik, this includes removing ivy and other weed species from nature strips.
“We encourage residents to contact us about any trees on their nature strips that may require attention, so that we can have a qualified arborist inspect the tree and schedule any works,” Mr Kourambas said.
He said while residents aren’t permitted to do their own planting on council land, residents that would like a tree or additional planting on their nature strip should contact Council to request this.
“We will then investigate options for the specific area.”
There are also different rules that apply depending if you are on a Council road or a main road managed by VicRoads, with slightly different vegetation removal rules depending on the speed limit of the adjoining roads, these can be found at www.vicroads.vic.gov.au
Nillumbik’s website discusses how roadsides adjoining Council roads fall into two classifications, Low Conservation Significance or High Conservation Significance.

Properties classified as Low Conservation Significance under Local Law No. 5 can undertake the following without a permit:

• The removal of fine ground fuels (grass, leaves, twigs, loose bark).
• The removal of regionally controlled weeds and those weeds listed in Council’s guide Live Local Plant Local.
• Maintenance and mowing of any part of the road reserve containing exotic vegetation abutting the property.
• The removal of vegetation that has fallen onto the road from the resident’s land.
• The removal of vegetation that is the subject of a fire prevention notice.
• Participation in works undertaken by friends groups, Landcare groups and community fireguard groups in accordance with an agreement approved by Council.

Properties classified as High Conservation Significance under Local Law No. 5 can undertake the following without a permit:
• The removal of regionally controlled weeds and those weeds listed in Council’s guide Live Local Plant Local.
• Maintenance and mowing of any part of the road reserve abutting the resident’s property comprising exotic vegetation.
• The removal of vegetation that has fallen onto the road from the resident’s land.
• The removal of vegetation that is the subject of a fire prevention notice.
• Participation in works undertaken by friends groups, Landcare groups and community fireguard groups in accordance with an agreement approved by Council.

Further information, including a copy of Live Local Plant Local, is available on the Nillumbik website: nillumbik.vic.gov.au/Living-in/Roads-Drains-and-Paths
Further explanation of what residents can and can’t remove can be viewed under “Roadside Vegetation Removal” via nillumbik.vic.gov.au/Living-in/Fire-and-other-emergencies/Preparing-for-fire.

Parking 

Paths, nature strips and dividing strips are not constructed for the parking of vehicles.
Parking on them can damage the nature strip surface, trees and root systems, kerb and channel, paths, house drain connections and other underground services, and it can also impact sight lines for drivers and pedestrians.
Mr Cowie said, “you are not allowed to park on or store any type of vehicle or trailer or building materials on nature strips”.
Parking on nature strips is not permitted under Victorian road rules legislation, this can be enforced by Victoria Police and/or Council.
Mr Koroumbas said, when investigating parking on nature strips, Manningham Council officers will consider the location, whether damage is being caused, along with visual impacts for drivers and pedestrians in the area.
The VicRoads website confirms that a driver must not park on a bicycle path, footpath, shared path, dividing strip, or a nature strip adjacent to a length of road in a built up area, unless the driver parks at a place allowed by a parking sign.
A motorcycle rider can stop on a bicycle path, footpath, shared path or dividing strip, or a nature strip adjacent to a length of road in a built-up area, in a place where the motorcycle does not inconvenience, obstruct, hinder or prevent the free passage of any pedestrian or any other vehicle.
Mr Koroumbas said residents can report illegally parked vehicles to Council at any time for investigation.

Prepare now for bushfire season

LATE AUGUST saw the launch of the Australian Season Bushfire Outlook 2019.
Held as part of the Australian Fire and Emergency Management Conference at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Emergency Management leaders from across the country gathered to launch the report, which was compiled by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Dr Richard Thornton, CEO of the Bushfire CRC gave an overview of the outlook for the whole continent, and said this year we will see that a lot of the activity, particularly in the east, is dominated by both an increased average temperature and a decline in rainfall.
Dr David Jones of the Bureau of Meteorology said the coming summer will be a challenging fire season in terms of the fire weather.
“We anticipate an early start and a long season, certainly based on the climatic conditions we have in place at the moment, he said.
Victoria’s Commissioner for Emergency Services, Andrew Crisp said this year would be a fairly similar picture to last year, citing particularly bad weather across Gippsland and the Alpine areas.
“We are more likely to see protracted and campaign fires which is exactly what we saw last year on the back of record low rainfall for the previous two years, so we are now in the third year of that,” he said.
This rainfall, the report states, has led to “severe levels of underlying dryness persisting in soils, and heavy forest fuels, along with higher abundance of dead fuel components and higher flammability of live vegetation”.
This could mean a busy time for our local brigades from Warrandyte heading out on Strike Teams.
And this does not mean Warrandyte should become complacent.
Dr Thornton said in his experience with communities that have experienced bushfires, a large proportion of the community are not well prepared for the fire season.
“A lot of them express surprise that they were actually impacted by fires, so it is important that we note that fires are a normal part of the Australian landscape and fires can start anywhere, they can start without warning, and in fact many communities may not receive a warning, because the fire will be on them so quickly.
Commissioner Crisp said that now is the time to start thinking about your preparation.
“It is cold and it is wet at the moment, but this is the time where we need to start preparing — so we plan and prepare in peace time, because it is too late when we are actually battling a fire,” he said.
Talking to the Diary, Commissioner Crisp advised that communication is the key to preparing for fire season.
“If you are getting good information, it will enable you to make good decisions,” he said.
He advised to have the Vic Emergency App loaded on your phone and to begin the physical preparation of properties.
“In the areas like Warrandyte and  Eltham, what are people doing to start thinking about preparing their properties?”
The emergency services have commenced preparing for the coming season.
Commissioner Crisp said there is a really narrow window as to when and where planned burning can occur.
“Forest Fire Management Victoria and DELWP have done their absolute best in relation to their targets for planned burning,” he said.
Chris Eagle, Assistant Chief Fire Officer of Forest Fire Management Victoria told the Diary that the urban areas of Melbourne are very interesting places to burn, as they are more complex burning areas because of the urban interface.
“Last year we did burning in Greensborough for the first time, so we are very conscious of how we do that small mosaic burning.
“We have a depot at Warrandyte, and the team there is very conscious of how they work with the local community to protect them,” Mr Eagle said.
Commissioner Crisp said that the population in outer Melbourne was growing, but that should not change our vigilance or our preparation.
“Even though we say Gippsland is of higher risk, we can’t become complacent anywhere across the state… that peri-urban fringe, where there is a lot of grassland, no one can afford to become complacent,” he told the Dairy.
“It doesn’t matter who you have got and where you have got them, it comes back to shared responsibility — [the Emergency Services] are preparing across the country — individuals and communities, are you preparing?”
Commissioner Crisp urged residents to begin now to start preparing for the season ahead by clearing around your house, cleaning gutters and making a fire plan — practice it and to stick to it.
“If you have got a plan to leave on an Extreme or a Very High day, then just make sure you do it — you have developed a plan for a reason.”

Earlier this year, Warrandyte Diary and CFA partnered with students on the Swinburne University Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media — Animation course to produce a series of short, educational animations on fire and bushfire safety.

Visit our Fire Safety page on the Warrandyte Diary website (warrandytediary.com.au/fire-safety) for tips on how to prepare your property, prepare your Fire Plan and what the various fire danger levels mean.

To make sure you are fire ready, download the Vic Emergency App from the iTunes or Google Play store, store the Bushfire Hotline number in your phone 1800 226 226 and make sure you listed to Emergency Broadcasters including 774 ABC Radio Melbourne on days of high risk.

VEC Representation Review: Manningham


The Victorian Electoral Commission’s (VEC) Local Council Representation Review: Preliminary Report for Manningham has been published.

Those interested in submitting feedback regarding the two options outlined in the preliminary report have until 5pm on Wednesday, September 18 to do so.

In total, there were 6 (six) submissions in the initial stage of the Manningham representation review with approximately 64 per cent of the submissions stating they were happy with the current number of councillors and the current number of wards.

In response, VEC have proposed two options, both of which maintain the current structure of three wards with three councillors per ward.

The two options propose a slight boundary shift reducing a reduction of the size of Koonung Ward.

Images courtesy of VEC, for illustrative purposes only.

Option A brings extends Heidi Ward, bringing the entire suburb of Bulleen under one ward, whilst Option B moves the boundary of Mullum Mullum Ward, to bring the entirety of Tunstall Square Shopping Centre into the same ward – Mullum Mullum.

These boundary changes will have minimal impact to Warrandyte Diary readers but if you do wish to “have your say” regarding the preliminary report, visit the VEC website for details on how to submit and to read the full report.

 

Vale Sigmund Jorgensen

Image: Where the blue shadow dances under the cream panama, SYD TUNN

THE ARTS COMMUNITY is in mourning for the passing of Sigmund Jorgensen OAM, a cornerstone of the arts in Nillumbik, aged 79.
He was the son of Montsalvat founder Justus Jorgensen and served as chief executive and artistic director of the historic artist colony from 1969 to 2005.
Justus and his partner, Lily Smith, established the beautiful artist’s colony in Eltham in 1934, naming it after the home of the legendary Holy Grail.
Originally built for Justus and his family, Montsalvat attracted many artists, artisans and intellectuals over the years, including Clifton Pugh, Betty Roland, Leonard French, Helen Lempriere and Albert Tucker.
Sigmund and his brother, Sebastian, are the children of Justus and colony member Helen Skipper.
Lily and Justus remained married and reportedly dined together with Skipper each night, much to the chagrin of the less liberal-minded.
Current Executive Director of Montsalvat, Jacqueline Ogeil expressed the sadness of the whole Montsalvat community at Sigmund’s passing.
“It is a very sad end of an era for us.
“His contribution and dedication to Montsalvat was all encompassing and his love for his heritage and artistic expression was ever present,” she said.
Sigmund, known lovingly as the Godfather of Eltham, is remembered for his significant and considerable contribution to the arts and the broader Nillumbik community.
He made Montsalvat a haven for local and international artists.
His contributions to art and culture were many, including the Melbourne culinary scene, running the award winning restaurant Clichy, being a judge at the Melbourne Asian Food Festival, food critic for the Melbourne Times and played host to, and support the formation of, the Montsalvat Jazz Festival, which has gone on to become one of the major Melbourne cultural events.
Sigmund was also a supporter of the acclaimed student orchestra, the Geminiani Chamber Orchestra.
Sigmund was a Nillumbik Shire Councillor from 1999 to 2002 and served as Mayor from 2000 to 2002.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan acknowledged his important involvement in Nillumbik’s arts and culture scene.
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Sigmund Jorgensen’s passing and offer our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
“Sigmund leaves an enduring legacy as a passionate advocate for the arts, and we are grateful for his tireless promotion of Nillumbik and Montsalvat as significant cultural centres,” she said.
Bend of Island’s artists Syd Tunn and Ona Henderson recalled fond memories working with Sigmund for several years on projects at Montsalvat.
The couple said they found Sigmund to be “a warm-hearted generous and honest supporter of so much in the cultural life of Eltham and beyond”.
“His passion was legendary, innovative and determined — for all art forms.”
They invited Sigmund to sit for them in their studio for an Archibald portrait, however Ona says initially he was shy.
“I said I’d make a gorgeous lunch, and Syd said (being a quick painter) that it would only take a couple of hours.
“Well it was memorable! And we dined in style with a classy vintage red to wash it down.
“Syd painted this portrait (above) in several hours, it sold at The Archibald Salon and Sigmund asked for a framed print of Syd’s acrylic on canvas,” recalled Ona.
In 2013 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for service to the arts.
He is remembered as a friend and supporter of the arts and artists all his life.
Sigmund Jorgensen is survived by his partner Sue and brother Sebastian.
Montsalvat will be holding a public memorial service at 2pm on August 9 and will be closed to visitors that day.

128,000 reasons to support our market


THE WARRANDYTE Riverside Market continues to go from strength to strength, distributing $128,000 in grants, donations and jobs created in the last financial year.
As a not-for-profit community organisation, revenue raised by stallholder leases is used in small part to pay for management and operating expenses, and also fees to Manningham Council and St John’s Ambulance for attendance.
A large part is distributed back into the local community by way of grants to schools, kindergartens and local community groups, including the member service organisations and associations.
In addition to the management committee members, local beneficiaries included Warrandyte High School, Neighbourhood House, the Be Ready, Warrandyte bushfire campaign, Warrandyte Festival, a Pottery Expo award for innovative contemporary ceramics, Rotary Art Show, Warrandyte Junior and Senior Football Clubs and Warrandyte Pre- school.
Most of the running costs incurred by the committee create jobs in Warrandyte.
Over and above the Market committee’s revenue, is the additional overall return to Warrandyte stallholders, who otherwise would not have an outlet on a Saturday morning — all of which adds up to a sizeable return to the Warrandyte economy.
The market is held on the first Saturday in each month except January, with two markets in December.
The market management is by a sub-committee of Warrandyte Donvale Rotary under licence from Manningham City Council.
Other members of the organising committee consortium are the Warrandyte Lions Club, North Warrandyte CFA, the Warrandyte Community Association and the Warrandyte Community Church.

ATM to stay

One of the most asked questions at the market office on market day is: “where is the nearest ATM?”
For a while stallholders and market visitors have been asking if one could be made available.
With this in mind, the organising committee investigated the hire of an ATM tent for the market.
The July market was the first time ATMs were on site and available to visitors and stall holders, and it was a huge success.
The committee had been prepared to invest funds for the provision of this facility, should the demand not have met the required transaction level.
Happily, in their first appearance, the ATMs exceeded the minimum transaction level and so will now become a regular part of the market infrastructure.
They are located in Stiggant Street car park near the market office and the St John First Aid station.

Scouts scupper shops’ stocks of snags

THE JULY market saw the Warrandyte Scouts’ best stall yet with over $1,000 raised.
Over the last 12 months the scouts have improved the layout of their kitchen and introduced some new ideas.
In July they offered slow cooked roast pork and lamb rolls, cooked over the coals on a traditional scout campfire.
The problem was, there were so many people attending the market, the mouth-watering smells of fine food attracted the market visitors by the droves, and there was not enough to go around when it got to lunchtime.
They sent a detachment of troops to IGA where they bought up all the remaining bangers.
Still not enough!
The next platoon sallied forth to the butcher’s, where again they emptied the store of snarlers.
And still they ran out, eventually having to turn people away.
The Scouts’ market stall offers the scouts the opportunity to develop skills in service, cooking, money handling and organisation while serving their community.
Warrandyte Scouts is one of the most successful groups in the district.
They use the income from the market to buy equipment and materials for camps and adventures.
And they proudly announce that one of their venturers, Hamish, is representing Warrandyte at the World Jamboree in Virginia this month.
Next market, beat the crowds and help the scouts fund their next adventure.

 

Recycling crisis hits Nillumbik

Update: 14/8/19

ON AUGUST 13, Council released an update regarding the recycling situation in Nillumbik:

Council is working with the State Government’s Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) to find an alternative for the Shire’s recycling. Council has a contract with SKM through the MWRRG. SKM’s closure affects several councils and about half of Victoria’s recycling.

The broader, long-term issue requires a response from all levels of government. At this stage SKM, while temporarily closed, has indicated that it is working to recommence receiving recycling.

Council will continue to collect recycling bins as normal and encourages residents to continue their recycling efforts until this is resolved, it’s important we keep working together to meet the current challenges.

Unfortunately we expect this week’s recycling will be sent to landfill.

The capacity of alternative facilities in the north of Melbourne is limited and the MWRRG is working to find alternative arrangements.

FAQs

Why can’t Council follow Boroondara’s lead and use Visy or another provider for its new recycle facility?

Nillumbik Shire Council is one of five Councils that has a contract with SKM Industries Pty Ltd through the Metropolitan Waste Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG). A separate company, SKM Corporate Pty Ltd, was recently placed into liquidation. SKM Recycling have advised that SKM Industries Pty Ltd is still able to trade.

Notwithstanding current contractual arrangements, the biggest hurdle for alternatives to processing recyclables appears to be the lack of excess capacity in the northern region to be able to process the kerbside recycle materials.  Other Councils appear to be taking advantage of capacity in other regions. The additional transport costs associated with processing outside the northern region is currently being quantified to help assess the value of any alternative arrangements.

Not a single Councillor, staff member or community member wants to put recycling to landfill, it goes against everything we stand for, so you can be assured we are doing everything we can to get through this.

What does council recommend for residents and how can residents help?

Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre at 290 Yan Yean Road Plenty accepts recycling paper and cardboard, metals (cans, aluminium foil, pots and pans) and e-waste free of charge.

These source-separated materials are sent to dedicated recycling facilities not affected by the SKM closure.

Residents can also help by avoiding and reducing the amount of waste generated in the first place, only placing the recycling bin out for collection once it’s full and taking soft plastics to Coles/Woolworths for recycling through REDcycle.

What are Council’s next steps?

In the immediate term, Council has no choice but to send kerbside recyclables to the landfill.

In order to understand and manage the contract risk, Council is currently having daily interactions with MWRRG given the situation with SKM is fluid.

In the medium term, the best outcome is that the recycling infrastructure currently owned and operated by SKM continues to operate to process municipal kerbside recycling, whether the operator is SKM or another party. This infrastructure is capable of sorting to the level required by markets both locally and overseas.

In the longer term, Nillumbik is participating in process initiated by MWRRG to explore a collaborative contract for recycling.

*******

ON AUGUST 2, the Supreme Court ordered recycling processing business SMK Recycling is now to be liquidated.
This followed a July 25 announcement that the firm would cease accepting Council recycling waste from 33 municipalities, including Nillumbik.
As a result, Nillumbik Council, which has been sending all its material from household recycling bins to SKM, may have to divert this material to landfill until a new solution is found.
Moments after news of SKM’s imminent demise was made public, Nillumbik issued a press release, advising residents of the situation.
The Council have continued to collect recycling bins as normal and encourage residents to continue their recycling efforts.
After the courts announcement, Nillumbik Mayor, Karen Eagan said residents can help by reducing the amount of waste they generate whether its recycling, food or general waste.
“Every effort is being made by Council to find short term, interim and long term solutions, including finding alternative recycling options.
“Like several other councils that are also affected, we’re very concerned about how we’re being forced to send recycling to landfill this week”, she said.
Cr Egan said Council will continue to work with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group and other councils to create sustainable solutions for managing waste.
Nillumbik has been in a long-term collaborative contract with Wyndham, Brimbank, Melbourne and Port Phillip Councils, with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group as contract principal — this contract was not due to expire until 2026.
Cr Egan said the state’s recycling service is a state-wide and long term issue that “requires a stronger response and commitment from all levels of government”.
Apart from the obvious concern of all environmentally-conscious residents that recyclable material is once again going to landfill, there are serious financial aspects to this fiasco which will undoubtedly have a significant effect on Council rates in future years.
Sending this material to landfill comes at a cost, as all Councils have to pay a State Government levy for every tonne of material deposited in landfill — an extra expense that has not been budgeted for.
Additionally, any contract with an alternative collector would come at a significantly higher price than that agreed with SKM.
More worrying is that although we do not know what advance payments, if any, have been made to SKM, we do know that at the last Council meeting on June 25 the existing contract was amended to change the price.
That item on the agenda was held in camera, and despite our enquiries to Council as to whether additional sums over and above the original contract agreement had been paid to SKM in the last month, we are told that “the detail remains confidential”.

The bigger picture

Earlier this year, SKM was ordered to stop receiving waste at its Coolaroo and Laverton North sites after they failed a waste audit and SKM was fined $16,000 for failing to get its facilities back within regulation within the prescribed timeframe.
SKM has been in an insolvency hearing at the Supreme Court, facing liquidation from creditors, with debts reported to be in the millions.
The recycling company — who has contracts with 33 Councils in Victoria — had warned 400,000 tonnes of recyclables would be sent to landfill each year if the company was to permanently close.
There is genuine concern that this will become the reality.
As the recycling situation has deteriorated during the last month there has been no shortage of blame in the mainstream press.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio recently labelled SKM as a “rogue operator”.
Victorian Waste Management Association’s Chief Executive Peter Anderson criticised councils for continuing to send recyclables to SKM and of being irresponsible in maintaining their contracts with the company.
SKM pointed the finger at households for contaminating the recyclable rubbish.

Impacted Councils

There are a total of 79 Local Councils in Victoria.
33 Councils across Victoria had contracts with SKM to collect and process their waste.
The other 46 used Visy or similar waste and recycling contractors.

The 33 Councils which have been impacted by the liquidation of SKM are:

  • Melbourne, Port Phillip, Darebin, Nillumbik, Hume, Whittlesea
  • Wyndham, Brimbank, Moonee Valley, Hobsons Bay, Cardinia
  • Booroondara, Stonnington, Knox, Casey, Kingston
  • Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Colac, Otway, Queenscliff, Surf Coast
  • Ballarat, Macedon, Hepburn, Golden Plains, Mildura, West Wimmera,
  • Yarriambiack, Buloke, Hindmarsh, Pyrenees, Glenelg.

At this point in time, all other Councils in Victoria are still able to collect and properly process recycling.

The War on Waste continues

Recycling: increasing costs and new initiatives

OUR ARTICLES on recycling in recent issues of the Diary have met with much interest. Our ongoing look at the issue has garnered feedback from both residents and government alike, but sadly, not the recycling companies themselves.

Local Councils

Increased costs

The separate Manningham and Nillumbik Council meetings on June 25 each made reference to these councils signing deeds of amendment to their contracts with Visy Recycling and SKM Recycling respectively to amend the pricing for delivery of recyclables to these operators.
This comes as a consequence of China’s restrictions on imports of foreign waste, although the specific details in both instances were
confidential and held in closed meetings.

Soft plastics

Manningham does not accept soft plastics in the recycle bin.
Nillumbik Council has confirmed with the Diary that it is accepting soft plastics in a tied bag in the recycle bin, whereas SKM Recycling’s website tells us that no soft plastics are allowed.
We are advised that Nillumbik Shire Council is one of four councils currently participating in a trial project to collect and recycle soft
plastics in kerbside recycling bins.
The remaining Councils that send recycling to SKM do not have this arrangement.
After the bags of soft plastics are collected, they are sorted via manual picking or optical sorting technology, compacted, baled and sent to a plastic recycler either locally or overseas for recycling into a range of items including other soft plastics, street furniture and children’s toys.
This trial is currently being reviewed by the partner councils and Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group in light of data
collected over the past 18 months and the current challenges in Victoria’s recycling industry, and will continue until further notice as the review progresses.

Co-mingling and sorting

Whilst welcoming the initiative to start recycling soft plastic, for this writer, who already sorts waste into
landfill (red), recycling (yellow), garden big stuff (green) and food, ash, lawn clippings, leaves into our own compost bin which makes wonderful nourishment for our garden, the need to further segregate soft plastics became somewhat of a logistical problem.
We tried hanging a plastic bag in the kitchen waste cupboard, but there was no room and it got in the way, so we hung it outside by the bins and the contents blew all over the garden in the next gale!
Councils do not sort rubbish; they pick it up and deliver it.
This means that the sorting of rubbish is done either by the householder at one end of the chain or the recycling company at the other.
Recycling companies are noting that the mixing of glass, paper, aluminium, steel, plastic and cardboard into one yellow bin (co-mingling) can cause difficulties.
Co-mingling of multiple classes of recyclable product in the one bin causes cross contamination, e.g. glass gets into paper and plastic.
Asian countries have not actually banned the import of Australian recyclable waste; they have reduced t h e percentage of allowable
contamination to levels which are very difficult and costly to achieve, so this effectively can be regarded as a ban.
And some of the solutions in the pipeline may require us to further segregate our rubbish into yet more bins in the future.
New initiatives such as burning landfill waste to generate power will require an extra sorting process.
Only 50 per cent of red bin (landfill) contents is burnable, so either the householder will be asked to sort it, or the receiver will have to accept the lot, sort it themselves, and take the remainder to landfill.

Recycling companies

The Diary has made every effort to interview SKM Recycling and Visy Recycling, offering to see how the
sorting process works, report on what happens to the sorted materials, and take photos; however, all our efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

Nillumbik Council

Nillumbik Shire Council had put the creation of a domestic recycling scheme on the agenda at the Australian Local Government
Association conference in Canberra in mid-June, and Council hopes it will be supported and added to a national advocacy campaign.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan said putting items such as recycling on the national agenda would benefit councils and residents across the country.
“Many councils are facing the same issues and we look forward to working collaboratively to address them and seek support from the Federal Government,” Cr Egan said.
“Nillumbik has led the way when it comes to recycling for so many years and developing a domestic industry would mean we would no longer be reliant on China and other counties.”

Victorian Government

The Legislative Council, the upper house of the Victorian State Parliament, is currently in the process of conducting an inquiry into
Recycling and Waste Management.
Sonja Terpstra MP, State Upper House Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, visited Warrandyte last month to inspect the new bridge.
She was impressed with the level of community engagement within Warrandyte and was interested in our coverage last month of recycling
matters, as she is a committee member sitting on the current inquiry process which is ongoing as we go to press.
Speaking as the Member for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, Ms. Terpstra noted that of the 12.9 million tonnes of total waste generated by Victorians in 2016–2017, 4.2 million tonnes was sent to landfill and 8.6 million tonnes was diverted from landfill for recycling.
Of this recovered material, 86 per cent remained in Victoria and only 14 per cent was exported overseas.
2.3 million tonnes of the total waste above was attributable to kerbside collections, and 46 per cent of this was diverted for recycling as a State average, although our local councils are doing much better.
Ms. Terpstra noted that Victorians are excellent recyclers — by and large.
She was keen to stress the low percentage, 14 per cent, of recyclables that were exported and felt that recent publicity concerning the policy
change in China made the problem appear larger than it actually was.
However, this did not take away from the fact that community concern still exists about exporting of recycling to other countries, contamination rates and the like.
Ms Terpstra also drew attention to other initiatives being taken by industry including:

  • •A proposal by Australian Paper to proceed with Victoria’s first energy-from-waste project with plans to use kerbside rubbish to
    help power its Maryvale Paper Mill; the scheme is in fact very similar to — but on a much larger scale than — the initiative being
    taken by Manningham Council to convert tree waste to biochar and further development of that technology to produce power,
    as we reported last month.
  • Advanced Circular Polymers’ $20 million advanced plastics recycling facility in Somerton, which received a $500,000 funding
    boost from the Andrews Labor Government and is set to process 70,000 tonnes of plastic each year.
  • The Government has issued a statewide exemption for local councils to remove the administrative barriers to extend their recycling
    collection contracts to June 2021 and look at future shared contracting of recycling services across multiple municipalities,
    which will help local councils save money in management and procurement costs.
  • The Victorian Budget 2019/20 is investing an additional $35 million to strengthen and diversify Victoria’s waste and recycling industry.
  • Lightweight, single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned across Victoria from November 1, 2019.
  • A complete ban on sending electronic waste to landfill came into effect on July 1.

Ms Terpstra observed shrewdly that we are spending a great deal of time working on how to get rid of rubbish, but perhaps our focus should include looking into why we are creating it in the first place.
Having just purchased a dashcam for my car which arrived in a plastic bag containing a cardboard box containing polystyrene and no less
than six sealed plastic bags containing things such as simple cables and USB adapters, which did not need to be wrapped, I have to question — do we really need all that packaging?

Repairing our throwaway culture

By JO FRENCH

THE INAUGURAL Warrandyte Repair Café went off with a bang, a snip, a screw and a stitch on Sunday, July 7 at the Mechanics’ Institute Hall.
The initiative of the Warrandyte Mechanics’ and Arts Association is only the third Repair Cafe in Melbourne and follows in the footsteps of the movement that started in Amsterdam.
The event was held from 10:30 to 12:30 and organiser David Tynan was encouraged by the number of visitors and repairers that took part in the event.
“A great turnout,” said David as he gestured to the crew of volunteers around the room that had made the day a success.
Jillian McKinn offered her skills in garment repair and upcycling.
“It’s is a wonderful idea for people to learn to repair,” said Jillian, “I loathe the idea of a throwaway society, and I was delighted to be involved.”
Jillian worked alongside Agnes Stuyfbergen and Denise Farran to help Hazel Rice recover an old faded footstool with bright red Burmese woven fabric.
Agnes’ sewing skills were also put to good use teaching a visitor to darn a woollen jumper.
“I showed her how to do one hole,”
said Agnes, “and then she went home to do more.”
“It’s really exciting, so many people came in with a variety of different things.”
Greg Lawrence was working on a few small mechanical repairs and had a happy customer leave with his pressure pump sprayer working again.
“It’s a great idea — on two fronts — it gets people together and helps people out.”
Brian Prewett and Roger Gray worked together on a few appliances.
“Of the three, we fixed a slow cooker but the vacuum cleaner and toaster were simply worn out,” said Brian.
“The Repair Café suits me,” said Roger, “I like the idea of fixing something rather than trashing it.”
Jock Macneish was also on the scene.
“The repair café is a wonderful device for delaying the terrible moment when I realise I will become old and useless,” he said.
“While I can still fix things, I can delude myself,” he said.
The grin that followed was evidence of the fun and companionship shared over the event, and all participants are looking forward to next month’s event.
The next Repair Café will be held Sunday, August 4.

Where have all the koalas gone?

By SANDI MILLER
Feature image: Sondra Vlasic

ANYONE WHO has lived in the area for any length of time will know the joys of receiving a visit from one of Warrandyte’s koalas.
Sadly, this is an increasingly rare occurrence, and as our nature columnist Glenn Jameson discusses below, the reintroduction and
subsequent drought has been responsible for the boom and bust of the local koala population over the last 20 or so years.
Koalas locally have been a large tourist drawcard, indeed the national value of the koala as a tourism icon has been estimated at over $1 billion.

In 2004, the then Department of Sustainability and Environment produced a Koala Management Strategy, which outlined the challenges faced by the koala population and the approaches to aid in their preservation.
Major conservation issues for the koala in Victoria were seen as the continuing incremental loss of mature trees through deliberate felling
associated with land development and land-use change, and the declining health of remnant trees in rural landscapes.
The potential for increased frequency of wildfire associated with climate change is also a serious concern for the Koala.
Annual koala counts in Pound Bend occurred from 1998 to 2011, with numbers declining over this period.
This local decline may be caused by dispersion along the river corridor, as individual koalas tend to require a substantial environment to accommodate their dietary needs, or other factors such as the Millennium Drought, urban encroachment or natural attrition.
In light of the Government reviewing the State’s Koala Management Strategy, which seems to have been much more successful than that of New South Wales and Queensland where koala populations are effectively extinct, the Diary sat down with Vivian Amenta, Wildlife Management Coordinator at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
Diary: What has led to the decline in the local koala population?
Vivian: In Victoria, the koala population was reduced to extremely low numbers by the 1920s, when the koala fur trade was finally abolished.
A re-introduction program, begun in 1923 with French Island koalas, has resulted in occupation of almost all suitable koala habitat in the State.
While we do not have statistics for koala numbers in Warrandyte, there is no doubt that numbers would have dropped over the last 20
years, and indeed would have been declining since people first moved into the area.
This is due to habitat fragmentation, removal of their preferred food trees to make way for housing, roads and other infrastructure, and significant numbers being killed directly by cars and dogs.
Though koalas are considered vulnerable in Queensland and New South Wales, in rural areas of Victoria and South Australia,
they are plentiful, and far healthier than their northern counterparts, as the diseases chlamydiosis and koala retrovirus are not nearly as
prevalent.
In fact, in Victoria and South Australia, fertility control and translocation are required to ensure they do not eat themselves out of house and home and end up starving.
Diary: Are there any plans to repopulate the area?
Vivian: Translocation of koalas is only undertaken in areas where their on-going welfare is well-assured.
Unfortunately, the network of roads, the ever-increasing housing density and number of predators (dogs) in Warrandyte and surrounds rules out consideration of repopulation here.
There is also a need to consider the existing population of koalas.
They are territorial, will fight to retain/establish their patch, and if the new comers are displaced, they may try to return “home”, increasing
their chances of road mortality.
This is why the Kinglake translocation undertaken in 2017 was considered ideal.
We only translocate to sites where there are very few or no existing koalas.
At Kinglake we were able to release the koalas deep within the park.
There is only one nearby road and the 400 koalas were able to move in unopposed, as sadly, the existing population had been destroyed in
the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
Diary: Are there tips we can give local residents to provide habitat for the animals?
Vivian: Residents can encourage koalas to remain by:
• discouraging harassment by dogs – their own animals and other residents’
• keeping dogs on-leash when in koala habitat
• not letting dogs roam
• being “wildlife aware” when driving
• requesting that speed limits be lowered on local roads, and adhering to the limits
• calling wildlife carers to assist when an animal is sick or injured
• reporting cases of wildlife cruelty (yes people are cruel to koalas) to Council and DELWP
• planting appropriate species of Eucalypts — though there are around 28 species that Victorian koalas will eat, koalas in this part of Victoria prefer manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), swamp gum (Eucalyptus ovata), blue gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) and
river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
• leaving out shallow bowls of water for koalas in hot weather — koalas get most of their moisture from leaves, but in hot conditions will need additional water.
Diary: What are the ongoing plans for koala management?
Vivian: Victoria is currently in the process of reviewing the Victorian Koala Management Strategy (2004).
Updating the Strategy is an action under DELWP’s Living with Wildlife Action Plan, to ensure the State’s koala populations are secure and
healthy, and to guide their current and future management.
Victoria’s koala population will also benefit from the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity 2037 Plan which aims to improve the extent
and condition of native habitat and secure the greatest possible number of species in the wild.

The story of the boom and bust of the koala

By GLENN JAMESON

MY MATERNAL Grandmother was an English World War One, war bride, marrying my grandfather an Australian soldier after he was
discharged from the army suffering chronic “trench feet” from wet and muddy trenches at the Somme.
Grandmother owned a pair of gloves made from koala fur, her pride and joy, bringing them on the honeymoon voyage to Australia.
As peace spread across Europe, a war continued on koalas with an estimated eight million koalas killed between 1888 and 1927 for the fur
trade, their waterproof pelts shipped to London, the United States and Canada to line coats and make hats and gloves.
By 1924, the koala population had gone bust; they were extinct in South Australia, severely depleted in New South Wales, and estimates for
Victoria were as low as 500 animals.
The economic bust of the 1930s depression was a difficult time for Nana who had the task of bringing up a family of six by herself as
Grandfather had died, never quite recovering from the war.
By this time, the koala population on the Victorian mainland was thought to be confined to a few remnant populations in South Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula.
Citizens concerned at the survival of the koala in Victoria during the 1930s captured individuals and placed them on Phillip Island and
French Island where they were secure and able to breed up.
Koalas had been extinct from Warrandyte for decades when in 1985, government agencies released 30 adult and eight juvenile koalas at
Pound Bend.
The following year there was another release of a similar number.
Phillip and French Islands had provided security to enable koalas to boom and breed up large numbers but now they were outstripping their habitat.
However, the koala boom was from an isolated, in-bred population, with a very low genetic diversity and this population is now the source of most of the Victorian koala populations — with the exception of unique Strzelecki Ranges wild populations, which are genetically intact and diverse.
The release was incredibly successful and by 1995 koalas were generally found everywhere in the Middle Yarra area where there was suitable habitat, especially in Warrandyte State Park, the population had even spread to private property.
In Dreaming Stories, Wurundjeri legends associate Koobor (koala) with drought.
Although they may kill koala for food, the skin may not be removed, or bones broken, until after koala is cooked.
Should anyone disobey this law, it is said that the spirit of the dead koala will cause such a severe drought that everyone except the koalas will die of thirst.
In 1997 the Millennium Drought started, the climatic version of “boom or bust”, and our local koala population went bust.
The koala diet is very restricted, there is only a few species of eucalypt leaves which they can eat.
The leaves they can eat also need to have a minimum moisture level of 45 per cent to provide them with enough water so that they do not have to drink water.
The success of the 1985 koala release allowed koala’s to fill all available niches in local habitats, but the Millennium Drought reduced the leaf moisture content below 45 per cent and koalas began falling out of trees.
In the local wildlife refuge, 52 died in care and 102 were euthanized, the population dropping dramatically.
“Boom and bust” is the breeding dynamic many Australian mammals employ to overcome one of the most erratic and variable climates
in the world; breeding prolifically during productive high levels of rainfall, which allows populations to safely diminish (bust) during
periods of drought and then expand again (boom) when the rains return, Australian mammals are genetically pre-determined to
manage their population and habitat in conjunction with this climate cycle.
B u t , as successful as the translocation program operating from the Islands has been, the lack of genetic diversity has produced
behaviour traits which do not assist in survival.
For example, not changing food trees every night, thereby killing feed trees and breeding during droughts, strategies other genetically intact and diverse koala populations avoid doing.
The good news is koalas are still in the landscape — but at highly reduced numbers and fighting for survival.
I have not seen one since 2005.
On the mainland, the amount of viable habitat available remains a limited island in a sea of urbanisation, farmland and unsuitable bushlands.
The hotter and drier our climate becomes with Global Warming the more precipitous their future becomes.
My Grandmother — a war bride and then a war widow — never needed her koala skin gloves in the hot Australian climate, but she
did need the sanctuary which her children provided for her in later years.
Something we may not be able to provide for koalas locally, as the climate warms.

 

 

VEC Representational Review of Manningham begins


THE VICTORIAN Electoral Commission (VEC) has begun its representational review of Manningham City Council.

Between now and October, members of the public will have their opportunity to have their say on the representational structure of Manningham Council.

The review will examine the following aspects of Council’s structure:

  • The number of councillors.
  • Whether the council should remain subdivided into wards.
  • The number of wards, their boundaries and the number of councillors per ward.

Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately says these reviews are an important way to ensure voters are represented fairly within the council structure.

“The opportunity to have your say doesn’t come around too often, so it’s important to have a broad range of community members contributing to the shape of their local democracy.

“If you are interested in the future electoral structure of your local area, I encourage you to get involved.

“Public submissions are a vital part of the review process, providing valuable local knowledge and perspectives,” he said.

Submission for the preliminary report will be accepted between Wednesday, June 26 and 5pm, Wednesday, July 24.

Information on how to submit can be found on the VEC website or will be listed in the July edition of the Diary.

On Monday, June 24, the VEC will be holding a public information session at the Manningham Civic Centre from 7pm.

Members of the public who wish to find out more before the purpose of this review and its processes are encouraged to attend.

National recycling problems deepen

AT A TIME when problems with weekly recycling collections have escalated beyond local council level to State and Federal Government, the Diary is still unable to find out exactly where the material we put in to our recycling bins ends up.

For this writer, and I suspect many of our readers, despite Councils’ best efforts to educate us, it has always been a problem understanding exactly what we can and what we can’t put in our recycling bin.

Different councils have different rules, some packaging carries a numbered recycling logo yet Councils say that some of these cannot be recycled, stuff that is obviously plastic such as coat hangers are not to be recycled, glass bottles are OK but drinking glasses and window glass are not.

We are told to put “soft plastics” into another plastic bag (Nillumbik only) but their recycling company tells us that nothing is to be inside plastic bags, and is that black tray that your BBQ meat came on made out of recyclable plastic or polystyrene?

It all gets much too difficult and I was slightly in sympathy with a non-politically-correct neighbour who told me, “I’ve never understood it; I just put everything into the green bin because it gets collected weekly and I don’t have to bother sorting it”.

But now even when we do get it right, we have to ask whether it actually gets converted into something useful or gets stockpiled or sent to landfill or, at worst case, left in a disused warehouse until it catches fire!

One of the problems is that the so-called recycling companies do precious little recycling themselves.

Their function is to collect the refuse from the local council, sort it, and then “make it available” to other companies, some of whom may be subsidiaries who do recycle the material, or they may export the material for processing overseas.

Local councils are very helpful in providing information; recycling companies are not.

Nillumbik

Nillumbik residents are some of Victoria’s best recyclers, consistently achieving at least 65 per cent diversion from landfill, compared to the State average of 46 per cent.

Nillumbik is one of five councils in a collaborative contract with recycling processor SKM Recycling, administered by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group on behalf of the councils.

This contract requires SKM to manage kerbside recycling in an environmentally responsible way.

Nillumbik delivers approximately 7,000 tonnes of kerbside recycling to SKM annually.

Of all the material collected in the Yellow Bin, the big hitters are glass, at 27.96 per cent, paper at 23.41 per cent and cardboard at 17.66 per cent.

Whereas soft plastics come in at 1.48 per cent and Tetra Pak (or liquid paperboard) at a low 0.45 per cent.

It is expected that SKM will sort, bale and sell this material through local and overseas markets for processing into new products.

According to SKM’s website, more than 60 per cent of materials remain in Australia for use in local industries.

In regards to whether any materials are being stockpiled, Council has not been notified of any non-conformance since SKM’s Laverton North and Coolaroo sites re-opened in March.

Residents can find out what to recycle or how to dispose of something correctly on Nillumbik Council’s website.

SKM Recycling has not responded to the Diary’s emails or phone calls.

In the recently adopted 2019/20 budget, ratepayers will see an increase of around 3.5 per cent in charges for waste and recycling collection, bringing the standard waste charge to $263.40.

Manningham

Manningham have a similar arrangement to Nillumbik, but their contract is with Visy Recycling.

Visy would appear to have associated companies who produce PET plastic food containers and it would seem that their clients can select the inclusion of varying amounts of recycled content.

But as with all the “recycling” companies their website concentrates a great deal on “collecting” and “sorting” the waste and “recovering” the material but has very little to say on how it is reprocessed and what is actually produced from the material and where.

Our calls to Visy to find out about all of this fell on deaf ears, but Manningham Council were helpful in providing the Diary with the contact details of their person there.

However, despite numerous emails and phone calls, no-one at Visy has responded to us or returned our calls.

In the draft 2019/20 budget adopted in principle by Council in April with a final decision occurring at the June 25 Ordinary Council Meeting, Manningham ratepayers will see a domestic waste service charge increase of 2.25 per cent.

State Government

In February 2018, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio chipped in $13 million to help the Councils manage their recyclable rubbish, after China had refused to accept further plastic waste.

This was a stop-gap measure in the 2018/19 Budget.

In late May of this year, Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings announced that Infrastructure Victoria should look at what is needed to develop waste-to-energy projects and resource recovery from organic waste.

It comes at the same time as Malaysia announced that it would be returning plastic waste to Australia and after the earlier discovery of a dozen illegal waste sites in Melbourne’s north as well as toxic factory fires involving waste stockpiles at Campbellfield, West Footscray and Coolaroo.

Federal Government

The Australian Government has announced the appointment of an Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environment Management.

The new Assistant Minister, Trevor Evans, was appointed on May 26 as part of Scott Morrison’s new cabinet.

Evans said he is humbled to have been sworn in as the Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management and was looking forward to the challenges ahead and working as a strong advocate for protecting Australia’s environment.

No more time to waste

With the recycling industry now in a deepening crisis, it is time for government — at all levels – to come up with a plan, and hopefully some sort of standardisation across councils and packaging, so that we all know what can go into any yellow bin in Australia and have confidence that it will be properly recycled.

It is clear from the 2019/20 Budget that a solution to the recycling crisis has not been found.

Maybe it is time for the community to handle this problem on a local level.

Dealing with deer

MANY READERS will be aware of the increasing number of incidents in and around Warrandyte involving deer.

There are regular posts on the Warrandyte Businesses and Community Facebook page about deer sightings, and regular walkers in Warrandyte State Park are likely to have spotted a deer or two around Fourth Hill and The Pound.

There is an increasing number of posts regarding incidents involving deer on roads too.

The Andersons Creek Landcare Group is on the front line when it comes to the battle against the damage inflicted by the deer population.

Andersons Creek Landcare Group Secretary, Jill Dixon, spoke to the Diary about the deer problem at Andersons Creek Reserve.

“Deer are now quite a serious problem, doing more damage than foxes, rabbits and feral cats.

“They are so large, they breed quickly and can reach up high, with a taste for most bushes and trees and stripping the bark off trees,” she said.

In November 2018, the Diary published a story about environmental groups’ dissatisfaction with the State’s Draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy (DVDMS), their dissatisfaction supported by concurrent submissions by Manningham, Nillumbik and Yarra Ranges Councils to the DVDMS in July/August of that year to make it easier for councils to control the deer populations in peri-urban municipalities.

But the DVDMS is woefully inadequate and local Landcare groups are asking residents to write to State Government to convey this concern.

“You can help by writing to Victorian State Ministers on the inadequate strategies currently in the planning process which we believe are too few and too slow,” said Ms Dixon.

Public submissions and responses to the DVDMS were due to be released in February this year.

The Diary wrote to Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to ask them for an update on the DVDMS.

“A Deer Management Strategy is currently being developed to set out a coordinated and strategic approach to deer management across the state.

“Feedback received during public consultation is currently being reviewed to inform the development of the final strategy.

“The final strategy will be released later this year,” said a spokesperson for DELWP.

The Diary also spoke with North Ringwood resident Brian Dungey, a licensed hunter.

Mr Dungey believes the deer are not as large a threat to the local environment as others have stated.

“Yes, deer do some damage to the environment… but compared to people and stock they do very little.

“People as a whole need to care more for their environment before we start blaming animal species — we are the more destructive species.

“I would pose the observation that kangaroos do more damage due to their over-population here in Warrandyte,” he said.

Mr Dungey also believes the DVDMS has missed the mark, but for very different reasons.

“While it acknowledges deer are both a material and monetary resource it doesn’t do enough to help landowners and the State to benefit more from the money that could be derived from foreign hunters and from balloted hunts.

“The document does acknowledge that deer are too many and too wary to remove from everywhere, hunters also acknowledge this and the Government should make further use of these people, and not just one group of hunters.

“The use of scent-trailing hounds is generally acknowledged as the most effective form of deer management yet the document doesn’t make use of this tool.

Mr Dungey also commented the deer management strategy does not do enough to discourage illegal hunting practices, and that practices such as arial hunting and poisoning not only cause the animal to suffer, but can also cause more problems down the line, like attracting feral dogs.

“Hunters dislike the waste, expense and cruelty created by aerial shooting.

“Recreational hunters are more than happy to remove all the meat from the deer they take.

“Aerial shooting creates food for feral dogs, which then breed up, and then kill native wildlife.

“What the document needs to do is change the law so venison gathered by legal hunters can be commercially processed and donated to charities for human consumption which happens in many countries,” said Mr Dungey.

Currently, whether you are of the opinion that deer are either a game species that should be protected, or a pest species which needs to be eradicated, this introduced species is still currently protected under the Wildlife Act.

Mr Dungey has some advice for residents who would like to deter deer from their property.

“Deer are creatures of habit, once land owners have established where the deer are accessing their properties, they can set up scarecrows and use solar powered flashing lights to act as a deterrent.

“The more you move around your property the less deer are likely to visit, as they like to be left alone.

“Remember deer only want three things, to eat, to drink and to sleep, you need to deny them what they want.”

Mr Dungey notes these animals have been in country for more than 100 years and have adapted to the environment.

“Perhaps we, as people, need to consider living with these wonderful creatures — they have adapted to living with us — are we so arrogant as a species that we expect other sentient creatures to conform to us?”

If an invasive deer population, or any wildlife is causing significant damage to your property, and your only option so to have them destroyed, then there are a series of permits you are required to possess before you can hire a local hunter.

This starts with an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) permit which is issued by DELWP.

A recent discussion on 3AW, and subsequently the Rural Link Facebook group, regarding the explosion in number of eastern grey kangaroo across Nillumbik, attributed to a migration of the kangaroo population from the Northern Growth Corridor.

Urban development is displacing the kangaroos in the urban growth corridor and forcing them to move onto properties in the Green Wedge.

Property owners are reporting an exponential rise in the number of kangaroos causing property damage and becoming a traffic hazard, this may add some weight to Mr Dungey’s controversial statement regarding living with deer.

Extending this to encompass all wildlife, maybe the discussion should look to how Green Wedge communities can co-habit with both indigenous and introduced wildlife as urban expansion around Melbourne continues.

 

Photos: Shirley Bendle

Have your say on North East Link


THE NORTH East Link Authority (NELA) has released its Environmental Effects Statement (EES).

Both Manningham and Boroondara Councils have had concerns over, in particular, the light industrial and sporting precincts in their council areas.

Manningham Council claims that 1,200 jobs will be lost with the loss of the light industrial areas around Bulleen and that the road project will take away public sporting facilities in the area.

In a special meeting on June 4, Cr Paul McLeish spoke passionately about the need for compensation for removal of these local amenities, particularly as they are situated on some of the only flat open space in the municipality.

The special meeting also heard public submissions, with public concern expressed for the welfare of the 350-year-old River Red Gum in Bridge Road Bulleen, which council have agreed is a of significant cultural and environmental importance and have included its protection as one of their recommendations, along with Bolin Bolin Billabong.

Based on the preliminary information provided on the proposed North East Link (NEL) project, Manningham Council has submitted 19 recommendations to the North East Link Authority (NELA), of those 19, the following are of significance to the residents of Warrandyte.

The upgrade of Templestowe Road (including an off-road shared path) should be included as part of the NEL project.

That a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service between the CBD and Manningham is incorporated as part of the Doncaster Busway proposal.

Ensure that public transport infrastructure and service improvements to the Doncaster Area Rapid Transit (DART) are provided.

Provide a number of improvements to the local bus network to support public transport connections between the City of Manningham and the La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster.

Develop the existing Doncaster Park & Ride site to create a mixed-use Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).

That a corridor along the Eastern Freeway is preserved for a future heavy rail link to Doncaster (or that the Doncaster Busway is designed to allow for future transition to heavy rail).

To deliver a number of walking and cycling improvements including a new shared-path bridge across the Yarra River between Bulleen and Heidelberg and safer pedestrian crossings in various locations.

Enhance the Koonung Creek Linear Park and associated trails, including a safe crossing point at Doncaster Road and maintain the existing natural landscape environment.

Minimise or mitigate impact to several sites of (cultural, recreational or community) significance throughout the municipality.

Provide prominent public art at key “gateway” entrances to Manningham.

Ensure that no road tolls are introduced to the Eastern Freeway

Public submissions to the North East Link EES close at 5pm, Friday, June 7.

To have your say go to https://engage.vic.gov.au/north-east-link-project

The next step is for the appointment of an Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) who will conduct hearings starting on July 25.

Those who have made a written submission will be invited to give a verbal submission to the panel.