Tag Archives: March 2021

Celebrating 10 Years of Run Warrandyte

A SOLD OUT Run Warrandyte set the pace for community events in Warrandyte in 2021.
On the last day of summer, 500 runners and walkers toed the line to celebrate 10 years of the annual community fun run.
Event organisers stuck to the now-familiar course, taking in the West End residential area and Pound Bend, but to add some spice, introduced a 21km version — four laps of the course.Although lapped courses are often less attractive, participants jumped at the opportunity for a Warrandyte half marathon, 69 runners took to the course on Sunday morning — including me, Warrandyte Diary’s very own “running reporter”.
A gloriously cool and misty morning made for optimal running conditions and runners, walkers and marshals enjoyed being immersed in our bush setting.For those who are curious, the Run Warrandyte course has just the right amount of hill to keep it interesting — and the runners “honest” — and some wonderfully runnable downs and flats which, if managed properly, makes for a fast course.
The fastest 5km event runners clocked 20-minute times, a trend which continued all the way through the running categories with Brynton Ashton — fastest male overall in the 21km distance setting a course record of 1:19:43, and Jessica Barbara setting the female course record at 1:38:42.

Brynton is a regular Run Warrandyte participant and in 2018 won the 15km event with a time of 1:02:50.In 2020, the 15km course record was set by Luke Walker at 59:29.
With Brynton managing a similar pace in 2021, with consistent sub-four-minute kms, while gaining (according to Strava) 400 metres of elevation over four laps — it is quick!
But while we can pour over stats and splits, Run Warrandyte is about celebrating our community, and exploring our bush environment.
The participants were diverse in background and ability but “the vibe on the run” was that everyone was glad to be back out in the open, with other people.
As always, the volunteers and the organising committee did a stellar job in keeping people safe and on course and I thank the marshals and organisers for putting on a wonderful community event.
Local MP Ryan Smith normally takes on MC duties at the event, but with the COVID changes, this was off the cards, so he took the opportunity to run the 5km course.
The popularity of Run Warrandyte is growing and as well as representatives from groups such as Victorian Ultra Runners (VUR), Westerfoldians and Generation Run; there were also runners using Run Warrandyte to achieve their 2021 running goals — such as Daniel Cole who is running 20 x 21km runs in 2021, with an official result from Run Warrandyte making this run number three.
The Diary spoke with Daniel about his challenge.
“I am 73 years old and prior to having my left hip begin to wear out, I was regularly running marathons and ultra-marathons, including the Boston Marathon, the Marathon du Medoc in France and the legendary Comrades race between Durban and Pieter Maritzburg in South Africa.
“I had a new hip in 2018 and ran one marathon in 2019, then not a lot of running events over 2020.
“So I decided that the perfect challenge for 2021 was to run 20 x 21s.”
Daniel went on to talk about his impressions of Warrandyte’s annual fun run.
“I was more than impressed with the organisation and conduct of the event.“Everything went smoothly, from acceptance of my late entry to my rather well towards the tail of the field finish, and the showbag at the end.
“The course is scenic, with challenging ascents and descents, pleasant views of the Yarra for those slow enough like me, to take it in, and cheerful encouraging volunteers along the way.“A really nice touch was the individual announcement of runners as they finished.
“Congratulations to all involved.”
On the day, water was supplied by Just Water, in containers made out of a plant based material which kept the litter to a minimum.
After running the three-lap version for a couple of years, the fourth lap — to bring it up to a half-marathon — felt like a gamble.
But it was a surprisingly enjoyable experience.
I am looking forward to seeing what the event committee have in store for 2022, especially when (one hopes) both the spectators and event village will be able to feature once again.

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Information Warrandyte shuts up shop

INFORMATION WARRANDYTE closed its doors during the COVID lockdown, and now operator Doncare has decided not to continue operating from the Warrandyte Community Centre site.
Originally the Warrandyte Citizens Advice Bureau, the service commenced operations in 1986 in the Old Post Office and, since November 1991, has been situated at the Warrandyte Community Centre, operating as Information Warrandyte Inc.
In 2017, Information Warrandyte, in partnership with Doncare, commenced delivery of Emergency Relief services following discussions about the provision of local services in the Warrandyte area.
After suffering some significant hurdles in 2019, Information Warrandyte sought the support of Doncare to continue operating.
Doncare provided the following statement:

“Following lengthy discussions with Manningham Council, in March 2020 the Committee of Management agreed to wind-up Information Warrandyte’s Incorporated Association due to the lack of recurring funding.
At that time, with the support of the outgoing committee and subsequent funding from Manningham City Council, Doncare committed to not only continue the services offered from this site, but to expand and build a strong and robust connection to the Warrandyte community.
Of course, no-one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and its profound impact on the Australian economy and society.
Like many other Community Service Organisations, Doncare faced a wide range of sustainability-related implications as the impacts of COVID emerged.
The financial implications on our fundraising due to the temporary closure of the op shops and cessation of fund-raising events and initiatives has been detrimental to our income streams.
While the Op Shops have since reopened, due to a reduction in volunteers and the current economic crisis, the recovery to Doncare’s income has not eventuated, thus, to remain afloat Doncare has implemented cost-saving measures, including reducing its paid workforce from the top down.
Sadly, the stretch on Doncare’s resources has meant that we are not able to adequately resource a second site.
Therefore, with a very heavy heart, Doncare will not be operating from the Warrandyte Community Centre.
Doncare strives to provide innovative, high quality, person-centred services and we pride ourselves on developing initiatives that place the organisation in a robust position to respond to community demand in Warrandyte.
While our plans to deliver services from the Warrandyte Community Centre have been hampered by COVID-19, we continue to provide services to members of the Warrandyte community from MC2 in Doncaster.
Whether we are supporting socially isolated seniors with volunteer supported recreational activities, or paying their winter bills, helping disadvantaged kids get to school or to camp, providing counselling to teens or families, helping women and children escape family violence, or simply being a source of community connection, Doncare’s presence in Manningham, and particularly Warrandyte continues.”

Information Warrandyte has a long and proud history, and some volunteers had provided their valuable service for decades.
One volunteer, Joyce Wilks provided this reflection on the legacy of Information Warrandyte:
“It was run by a voluntary Committee of Management and at their peak they had as many as 38 volunteers.
Most Information Warrandyte volunteers completed a 50-hour accredited training course, and a few volunteers were also accredited to offer Tax Help for eligible low-income clients.
Many volunteers were very loyal, and even after moving away from Warrandyte they continued to come in weekly to do their shift.
Three volunteers put in over 30 years of service.
However modern technology and smart phones took a toll on Information Warrandyte with less visitors and clients needing their services, so the decision was made to disband after serving the Warrandyte community for 34 years.
A final get together was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic until March 2021 when many of the volunteers enjoyed catching up with each other at Petty’s Orchard for morning tea.”

New hope

The good news is that all is not lost.
Manningham Council is actively working to re-establish a service for the Warrandyte Community.
Manningham Yarra Ward councillor, Carli Lange told the Diary:
“Many community groups would love to utilise the space and to work together for the benefit of the community.
“Manningham Council will conduct an expression of interest and looks to have a vital support facility for its community”.
Support services continue to be available from Doncare at their Doncaster facility at 687 Doncaster Road.
The Diary will keep across the issue and will provide updates on the reinstatement of welfare services for our community.

Your daily coffee — at what price?

IN EARLY FEBRUARY, café and restaurant workers in Adelaide’s Chinatown started protesting about wage theft and unfair working conditions.
The public protest was in response to a video recording of a young worker asking her boss to pay her what she was entitled to — the recording then shows an alleged assault between the worker and her employer.
Needless to say, it sparked the protests.
We have all heard about wage theft at some of our most well-known restaurants (and other large companies) in Melbourne, which led me to wonder — what is happening in our own backyard?
We use our consumer power to support businesses and industries doing the right thing — whether they use free-trade coffee, free-range eggs, or discounts when you bring your own cup.
But what about the more obvious issue of treating the often-young workers that serve us and make our coffees also ethically (and legally) by paying the right wage?
We all want to support our local businesses — there are 190 registered food businesses in Manningham.
Wouldn’t you prefer to support those businesses doing the right thing?

What is wage theft?

Wage theft is basically not being paid what you are entitled to as stipulated under your relevant industrial award.
It also includes underpaying penalty rates, superannuation, overtime and other entitlements.
Making unauthorised deductions from an employee’s pay is also considered wage theft.
It is a “practice” found in businesses big and small.
The practice is so extensive that it has become some kind of warped business model — a business model based on exploiting people — in particular our young and vulnerable people.
I spoke with Tim Kennedy, the National Secretary of the United Workers Union (which covers hospitality workers).
He said the problem is the norm in the hospitality sector — which employs mostly young people.
“What we found over a long period of time is that wage theft is not an aberration it’s a systemic operational tool.”
How has it become the norm?
Mr Kennedy said: “This was less of a problem about a generation ago — when unions had right of entry and could check that workplaces were doing the right thing.
“Once these rights were removed there were no checks.
“So no one’s been checking for a whole generation and that’s why we have the problems we have now.
“Now it’s a race to the bottom.
“We’ve seen what big businesses have done — they’ve set up systems to systematically steal wages from their employees.
“It’s a sophisticated well-resourced and super profitable system.”

Warrandyte is not immune

It is everywhere.
Sometimes — despite all the fresh air, wildlife and majestic gum trees — bad things happen in Warrandyte too, just like everywhere else in Melbourne and beyond.
The experiences of local young people shed a light on what has become the norm in Warrandyte and surrounding areas.
However, some Facebook users were shocked to even think that this could be happening in Warrandyte.
“I would expect they all pay the correct rate”, said one person.
“Is there any reason as to why you suspect they aren’t?”, asked another.
Even council expects businesses to be doing the right thing.
Manningham Mayor, Cr Andrew Conlon said:
“We expect all businesses, including restaurants and cafés, to comply with the requirements of the Fair Work Act 2009, which include fairly paying employees at a rate no less than the national minimum wage.”
Despite expectations, wage theft is happening.
Meanwhile comments (public and private) were posted about young people’s experiences.
As one parent said:
“It is the norm it seems, to not have staff on the books and to pay below minimum wage.
There are also no penalty rates paid.”
And a young person wrote:
“I don’t want to say it publicly from fear of losing my job.
They don’t pay weekend or holiday rates, and don’t like it when we take breaks.
They didn’t pay me for my trial shift.”
And another young person said:
“I used to get paid $8 an hour.
People are in such denial that it would ever happen it Warrandyte.”
Even people with extensive hospitality experience have rarely worked for venues paying the award rates.
“I worked in Hospo for 15 years and I think I only got paid the legal wage at one café.
I worked in a few Warrandyte cafes and restaurants and all paid cash in hand and nowhere near the correct amount.
One Warrandyte café even paid me $11 an hour, but being 17 at the time, you don’t really think to report them or tell anyone.”
Fear of losing their job, not knowing what they should be paid, compounded with living in a small town makes standing up for yourself difficult.
And if you do ask questions, it has been people’s experience that their shifts have dried up.
Said one local: “If the employee does question pay or conditions, suddenly they have no more shifts as there are 20 other unsuspecting keen-as kids wanting a job; they just keep turning them over.”
And by another person, “Unfortunately I doubt very much will change as there are always so many kids trying to find work, that they’re easy to replace.”

What should a young person be paid?

Minimum wages are covered in the Hospitality Industry (General) Award.
There are different pay rates if you are 19 years or younger.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has a pay calculator so you can check what you should be getting.
Employers are allowed to pay you more than the minimum rates.
If I am under 16 and work as a casual at the “introductory level”, I should be getting $12.40 per hour for hours worked before 7pm, Monday to Friday (the evenings attract an additional $2.31 per hour), Saturday the rate is $14.88, Sunday it is $15.63, and public holidays $24.80.
If I am an adult, aged 20 years or older, then the introductory rate is $24.80, $29.76 on Saturdays, $34.72 on Sundays and $49.60 on public holidays.
The introductory level is for the first three months of employment — the absolute basic pay rate, otherwise the minimum rate for an adult employed as a casual (Level 1) is $25.51 ($20.41 if you are employed part- or full-time).
Thereafter, the rates increase depending on your age, your qualifications and the hours and days of the week that you work.
You can see how it can be confusing for young people — especially for a 16-year-old who is starting their first ever job.
And you should get paid for a “trial” shift.
“I worked countless trial shifts over 15 years of hospo jobs and never saw a single dollar for it.
“Hopefully times have changed now,” said one local person.
Unfortunately, things have not changed.

What does it teach young people?

If we accept wage theft in our community, if we accept it as a “they all do it” business model, what are we teaching our young people?
That exploitation is ok.
If you say something, you will lose your job, you will ruin someone’s “business”, you won’t get a good reference.
Silence perpetuates exploitation.
Silence perpetuates injustice.
We teach our young people to be silent in their very first workplace, what will happen in other workplaces, at school, at university, in the family, and in their intimate relationships?
Do we want them to stay silent when things are not fair?
When they are being exploited?
When they are being controlled for fear of the consequences?
I suspect not.

What young people can do

The United Workers Union has developed tools for people in the hospitality industry.
Mr Kennedy said there are two tools available, the Hospo Voice Mobilise App and Fair Plate.
“The Mobilise App is a pay and conditions checker.
“So you can enter what you’re getting paid and see if you’re being paid correctly.
“The app was launched at the end of 2020 and we want young people to get on board,” Mr Kennedy said.
He said it is about empowering young people.
“The power imbalance makes it all the worse for young people.
“So the tools we have developed in Hospo Voice aim to educate young people about their rights in the workplace and how they can deal with that power imbalance.”
The other tool the UWU has set up is Fair Plate.
“On this website, and through the app, hospitality workers can rate places where they work as to whether they respect workers’ rights — it’s a reputational tool.”
He said you can also use this website to find places that are doing the right thing.
“If their first model of the workplace is exploiting you — and this is your first exposure to the job market — it’s a bad exposure.
“Hospo Voice is an advocacy and education initiative and we’re hoping that young people can take some agency through these online tools,” said Mr Kennedy.
Last year the Parliament of Victoria passed the Wage Theft Act (2020) (due to come into effect on 1 July, 2021.
Cr Conlon said Manningham Council is aware of the new Act.“We will work with the Victorian Government to communicate and promote the legislation among local businesses and networks in Manningham,” Cr Conlon said.
How effective will this Act be?
There are potential problems with the Federal Government’s response to this issue.
At the state level, having a criminal response to wage theft, as opposed to a civil response, requires a higher burden of proof.
Mr Kennedy said: “It remains to be seen if a Wage Theft Commission at a state level can be effective, but it is a clear indication from government that wage theft is a really big problem that needs a response.”
Let’s hope the new laws do make a real difference to the working lives of young people.
It is clear that it might cost businesses more to pay staff what they are entitled to, and therefore might cost customers more — paying a fair price for fairly paid work.
But the cost of not doing so — especially for our young workers — is far greater.

Links and resources

Download the Hospo Voice app and read their blog posts for more information:
www.hospovoice.org.au/
Fair Plate website – write a review of your workplace; see if your local café is listed as a fair place to work and eat: fairplate.org.au/
Link to the Fair Work Ombudsman to find out the rights and responsibilities of employers — especially for young workers and students: www.fairwork.gov.au/find-help-for/young-workers-and-students
Find out what the pay rate is using this Pay Calculator by the Fair Work Ombudsman:
calculate.fairwork.gov.au/FindYourAward
A guide for employers employing young people:
www.fairwork.gov.au/how-we-will-help/templates-and-guides/best-practice-guides/an-employers-guide-to-employing-young-workers
The Wage Theft Act (2020) is available at:
www.legislation.vic.gov.au/as-made/acts/wage-theft-act-2020 or www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/legis/vic/num_act/wta202021o2020153/

The superpowers of CFA women

HELD ANNUALLY on March 8, International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over a century, with the event’s website claiming the first gatherings were held back in 1911.
The issues of the time were women’s right to work, vote and ending discrimination.
110 years on, while we still continue the fight for gender equality, there is much improvement to be celebrated…and the women of Warrandyte CFA are no exception.
Often referred to as a “bit of a boys’ club”, in fact CFA focuses on being inclusive, no matter the gender.
Currently, Warrandyte CFA has 10 female volunteers, the majority of whom regularly respond to emergency pages day-and-night, or provide active support in other ways.
Women bring the same firefighting and rescue skills as men, with some of Warrandyte’s female members taking on years of specialist training, qualifying them to manage a broader scope of roles during an emergency.
The brigade’s support roles are open to both men and women, and it is not the stereotypical mix you would expect, in fact our current secretary is a man.
The skill set women hold is expansive, with roles in training, recruitment, community education and officer positions.
A few are also CFA staff supporting other volunteer brigades around the state and can be called upon to perform extra duties during large-scale bushfire events and managing emergency warnings from the Incident Control Centres.
Warrandyte CFA recruited its first female firefighter in 1981 when the station moved to its current location on Harris Gully Road.
Prior to that, women who attempted to apply were rejected by the captain of the time; the cited reason being the old station had no female facilities.
According to former Captain, now Deputy Group Officer Shane Murphy, the introduction of women into the brigade promoted positive cultural changes.
“Member’s self-check behaviours and language evolved with female presence”, he said “as a result, more respectful attitudes were adopted towards everyone, not just the women”.
Reminiscing over his first house fire call in the early 80’s he said: “It was a female who was first through the door”.
1996 saw Warrandyte CFA elect its first female Lieutenant.
Kate Murphy, still a current member, was elected by her male and female peers and reflected on the time as “of complete support” and that “equality and diversity was encouraged”.
Since then, and still to this day, women have held several leadership roles at Warrandyte CFA, both in officer positions and within the Brigade Management Team.
It is not uncommon nowadays for women to be captain.
Females are afforded every opportunity within CFA, and it falls to the leadership to ensure members are seen for their capabilities, not their gender.
So, when will Warrandyte see its first female captain?
Mr Murphy said: “On the fireground, it is non-gendered — it is a team operating with a common focus — but if you’re looking for it, you see females everywhere”.
The path has been paved, but women must still demonstrate to our future generations, the importance of “she can be anything she wants”.
The women of Warrandyte CFA are doing this every day.
They strive to protect our community and we recognise the value they offer the brigade.
Volunteer firefighter, Louise Leone said: “I love it when you’re driving past in the truck or getting out at a job — and a little girl sees you.
“You watch her eyes open wide and she’s like ‘hey, she’s a girl like me!’
“It’s the best feeling!”
And therein lies the superpower of the women of Warrandyte CFA.

Pottery Expo celebrates 21 years by the river

THE 21ST POTTERY Expo was held on the riverbank on the last weekend of February, with ceramic artists from around Australia showcasing their work to, what organisers say, was the biggest crowd ever.
With live music, 70 stands filled with spectacular creations, demonstrations, talks and a weekend of sunshine and minimal restrictions, it was “a buzz”.
“These are the biggest crowds we have ever seen and I’m anticipating more sales than I’ve ever seen also,” says event coordinator Jane Annois.
“This is great for the local businesses too; the cafes and shops have also benefitted this weekend.”
Along Yarra St the cafes and restaurants were brimming, and Andi from Calla Collective said: “There is a good energy here this weekend, it has certainly lifted the atmosphere around the place.
“There is more excitement in the conversations, there is a buzz, and we need a bit of a buzz.”
There seemed to be a giddiness amongst the crowd, perhaps it was the mixture of sunshine and the opportunity to just be out, somewhere beautiful, amongst lots of people, and feel safe.
As a passer-by bumped into me and apologised profusely, she laughed and said, “I think I need to learn how to do crowds again.”
Perhaps she is right, I walked into people and lost track of my companion several times.
Minna Graham, from Daylesford, is an Expo stalwart and says the weekend was “crazy, busy and fun!”
“It has been amazing,” she said, as she continued wrapping items in tissue paper.
“Everyone is just happy to be out.
“Maybe it’s that and that there is a new appreciation for ceramics.
“Over the last few years people are loving and appreciating ceramics more.”
As Minna ties a package carefully with her trademark black ribbon, a customer smiles, and says,
“It really is good to be out and about, and the works here are just beautiful.”
Adam Cox (South Gippsland) has been exhibiting at the Expo for over ten years and says the weekend has been fantastic.
“People are keen to come out and do something out of lockdown,
“It is always a good weekend and a great opportunity to meet other potters.”
Sunday lunchtime, and his stall is almost empty, so Adam strategically places the few remaining items for sale a little further apart to fill the space.
“I’m almost cleaned out,” he said happily.
“It’s months’ worth of work, it’s the biggest event of the year and I have been keeping my nicest pieces for this.”
Special guests this year were Australian members of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC).
The Academy is the principal organisation representing the interests of ceramics worldwide.
Based in Geneva, the IAC is an official partner with UNESCO in the cultural sector.
Jane Annois has been a member of the Academy for two years and is honoured to be part of such a global community of ceramic artists that focus on networking, education and raising the standards of excellence within the art.
Jane is thrilled to have an exhibition of such high-end ceramics from many of the Australian members of the Academy at the Expo.
“There are 12 Australian IAC member artists represented here this weekend and it is very exciting.
“Collectors have been here, buying this weekend, and it has lifted the profile of the Expo.
“It has also been very inspiring for the potters to see these works, which are rarely seen together, in one exhibition.”
Sally Wise, from Preston, is also a member of the IAC and has been a ceramist since she was 17 years old.
Her journey started when an influential teacher in high school introduced her to the art.
She went on to study a four-year ceramics degree, and says, “it’s been my passion and obsession ever since”.
“It is exciting to have higher end ceramics at the Expo,” said Sally, “and nice to see collectors here, buying.”

Prize-winners

Winner of the Warrandyte Lions Best Presented Stand was Tian You, from Tian Ceramics, Footscray.
Tian says, “It is always the best event of the year.
“It takes months to prepare and this is the grand opening of my new work.
“It was very well received, there were lots of customers first thing on Saturday morning, determined to get in early.”
The Potters Prize is the peer favourite, voted by the potters, and this year’s winner is Arnaud Barraud, from Kalorama.
Arnaud’s prize is a piece from last year’s winner, and he in turn will donate a piece for next year’s winner.
Su Hanna (Bendigo) and Marina Pribaz (Daylesford) shared the Michael Hallam INCA Award for innovative contemporary ceramics, presented by the Warrandyte Riverside Market.
Su is one of a small group of wood-fire ceramists represented at the Expo, with fellow guest artists Sandy Lockwood, Rob Barron and Jann Kesby.
Wood firing is ceramics at a whole other level, it is earthy and rough.
Someone explained to me that wood firers see “the beauty in the natural colours of ‘brown’ and in the complexity of ‘rough’”.
Many wood-fired ceramists design and build their own kilns and after the backbreaking work of collecting, carrying and splitting wood, are known to have a moment of ceremony as they light the match.
Su says, “You have to be a bit crazy to be a wood-firer.”
“Just splitting the wood is a lot of work, and we are limited with the fire season.
“We have to time it and try and get it done before it hits.
Su and her husband take it in shifts, day, and night, stoking the fire, keeping it to temperature for four days.
“It’s a lot of work,” she repeats, and pauses, “and a lot of wood prep”.
Another pause.
I sense that the work of the firing stays with her long after the fire has gone, and as she looks at the piece in front of her, she says quietly, “but you can’t get the random surfaces, and those colours that I love any other way.
“It’s worth it.”
As I leave her stall, I realise making art is hard, and I have a fresh appreciation for both the art and the artist.
Once again, The Pottery Expo was a huge success, and the riverbank was alive with music and colour and stalls and people.
Quite simply, it was pure fun, and the people were visibly happy.

Photos: BILL McAULEY
 

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Protecting our green wedges

GREEN EDGE
WarrandyteCAN

SOMETIMES I THINK of Melbourne as a vast living organism, growing ever larger, slowly spreading across the surrounding countryside and devouring everything in its path.
No one can stop Melbourne growing, and the best that governments can do is to control its growth and try to ensure that it is sustainable.
Melbourne’s 12 green wedges, including the Manningham and Nillumbik Green Wedges, are a good case in point.
These are non-urban areas lying outside Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary that have been designated for the protection of natural and rural values.
They contain a mix of low-density uses including farms, parks, water catchments, cultural heritage sites, and residential land on large allotments.
The policy of protecting green wedges from inappropriate development is set out in all planning schemes covering metropolitan Melbourne.
Green wedges are a product of the great foresight of people like Rupert Hamer, Minister for Local Government in the late 1960s and later Premier of Victoria.
According to Hamer, in planning for the growth of Melbourne:
“Nobody could happily contemplate a future metropolis of seemingly endless suburbia spreading out to infinity.”
“The future planning of Melbourne should take account of the surrounding countryside as a vital part of the metropolitan environment.”
Hamer’s vision for containing Melbourne’s urban sprawl was reflected in the 1971 report entitled Planning Policies for the Melbourne Metropolitan Region, which supported the establishment of urban growth corridors separated by “green wedges of open country protected from urban development”.
Fast forward to 2021, and the need for green wedges is stronger than ever in the face of climate change and rising average temperatures.
Green wedges, along with increased greening of areas within the Urban Growth Boundary, serve to absorb carbon and to mitigate the urban heat island effect.
Moreover, as the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, has noted, the importance of these areas will only increase in the future as climate change impacts where crops are grown and the green wedge and peri-urban areas are relied upon more to grow food.
Green wedges also provide vital recreational resources for Melbourne’s population and greatly contribute to our quality of life — a refuge from the concrete, asphalt and traffic of suburbia.
It is not surprising, however, that over the decades since they were established, Melbourne’s green wedges have faced significant threats from those eager to open up these areas for development.
In recent years, the Manningham Green Wedge faced such a threat by way of the Manningham Council’s proposed amendment to the Manningham Planning Scheme known as Amendment C117.
That proposal involved (among other things) changes to the Scheme that would have allowed more commercial and tourist development in the Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ), which covers most privately-owned land within the Manningham Green Wedge.
However, an independent panel appointed by the State Government recommended against those changes and instead put forward its own version of Amendment C117 aimed at preserving the status quo.
As the Diary reported in February 2019, the Panel concluded that “the broader policy position to support more tourism in the Green Wedge is contrary to sound planning and runs counter to the purposes of the RCZ.”
In September that year, the Planning Minister decided to accept the panel’s recommendations and adopt its version of the amendment rather than Council’s.
The State Government is currently undertaking a project aimed at deciding how it can best protect Melbourne’s green wedges.
At this stage, it is considering submissions received from stakeholders and community members, and is due to provide a report about this in mid-2021.
WarrandyteCAN strongly supports the protection and preservation of our green wedges, especially as they represent an important part of our response to climate change and are vital for Melbourne’s sustainable future.