Tag Archives: Sonja Terpstra MP

State Budget makes good on Election promises

LABOR CANDIDATE Naomi Oakley made an election commitment before the 2022 State Election to provide $300,000 for new cricket nets for Warrandyte Cricket Club, which has been honoured in the State Budget 2022/23.
Despite Ms Oakley not being successful in her bid for the seat of Warrandyte, and even before the spectre of the Warrandyte byelection was on the cards, MPs for North East Metropolitan Region, Sonja Terpstra and Sean Leane attended the Warrandyte Cricket Club on Budget Day to deliver on that commitment.
She said this will mean that the club can continue to be a place that members and the broader community can stay active and engaged.
“The Andrews Government recognises the importance of community sport,” she told the club executive at the announcement.
“I know you guys do a great job here, you play such an important role and I know this club is an amazing club, how you engage with everyone.
“The sense of community and pride is amazing, so we couldn’t be happier to be delivering that promise,” she said.
Club President Royce Jaksic said last season the club fielded nine Senior sides, 16 Juniors, Over 40s, Over 50s, Over 60s and Over 70s, as well as Women’s and Girls’ teams.
“We’re the largest club in the RDCA, which is amazing because we’re a pretty small community when you think about it,” Mr Jaksic said.
He said next season there were plans for an all-abilities side.
He said the current nets are a health and safety issue as they intrude into the playing field.
“If there’s a game going on out in the centre, particularly cricket, and we’ve got people training, if a six gets hit, someone’s going to get killed,” he said.
He said it is also an issue during the cross over between cricket and football seasons.
A major concern is children can climb on top of the existing cages.
Mr Jasic said the new nets would be designed to make that “impossible”.
Mr Leane said: “The Labor Andrews Government understands that local sporting clubs are at the heart of so many communities.
“It’s why we’re funding upgrades to the Warrandyte Cricket Club.”

Upgrade for dog parks

Ms Terpstra and Mr Leane also announced the Budget was providing funding for upgrading the dog parks at Stiggants Reserve, Warrandyte.
A spokesperson from Ms Terpstra’s office said the announcement was about providing funding, the details of the park “still to be hashed out”.
“They’ll likely be run and maintained by council, with details of the build and requirements to be negotiated, including individual funding amounts”.
He said Stiggants was marked for funding as it is known to be popular with local dog owners.
Exactly what that will look like is still up for speculation, as Manningham Council currently has no plans to make changes to Stiggants Reserve.
Manningham’s Director City Planning, Duncan Turner told the Diary, Council was pleased to see the recent State Budget allocation to upgrade up to 22 dog parks.
“We understand Lawford Reserve Doncaster and Stiggants Reserve Warrandyte are on the list, but we have no further details about the funding,” he said.

Park Orchards Community House

Ms Terpstra and Mr Leane also announced a funding for Park Orchards Community House & Learning Centre a budget allocation of $60,000 to go towards important upgrades to their learning centre.
Ms Terpstra said: “Everyone in Park Orchards knows the community house and learning centre and how they have been serving our community for years.
“I’m proud to give back to those who have given so much to us.”

Community School gets new digs

A TINY SCHOOL has been changing lives for almost 50 years, and it will now have the facilities it deserves after an $18 million redevelopment is completed.
Croydon Community School opened as an “alternative school” in the 1970s and has been catering to students who do not fit — or do not want to fit — within the mainstream system.
Having operated largely out of portable buildings at the old Croydon Primary School site in Mt Dandenong Road, it is now moving to a brand-new, purpose-built facility in Croydon Road at the vacated Croydon High School site.
Principal Bronwyn Harcourt said the school’s student population has been kept small.
“It was 23 when I started; it is 126 this year, but we had deliberately reduced our numbers before moving to the new site, but we’ve got about 73 this year alone on our waiting list.
“And we get enquiries from Grade 4 families for Year 7 transitions and Year 11 kids who are struggling in the mainstream.”
She said the Big Picture Learning model the school uses is becoming more and more an option of choice.
Bronwyn said that Big Picture Learning allowed them to engage with students based on their passions.
“When they are engrossed and loving a topic and are able to explore it fully — students have followed passion projects including a school-wide scale model of the Tasmanian Rail system and a taxidermy project — the learning and the confidence that is picked up along the
way — they learn how to learn,” she said.
Assistant Principal Kaye Bhan told M&N Bulletin that the school is a public school, so it is open to accepting all types of students and, in essence, is run like a gifted program with student-directed learning.
She said if they attract only bright kids, “who are wonderful to have, and we want them, but we want the others who are at risk of falling through the gaps”.
Education Minister James Merlino and Member for North East Metro Sonja Terpstra recently toured the close-to-completed school.
Mr Merlino described the project as “really critical”.
“Every school project is important, but this is the last stop for these kids, and if we can engage with them and deliver them a pathway, we set them up for life,” he said.
The school redevelopment follows the ethos of the school community, with the architects consulting with the students to enable the school to be fit for purpose.
The new school offers townhall-style performance space for the music faculty, which opens onto the main courtyard, with a creek running through the outdoor areas, a multi-purpose outdoor court, stationary bikes where students can add charge to the school’s power supply, classrooms (called advisories) including Science, Food Tech, Physical Education and Technology facilities, there is even a wood-fired oven, computer lab, 3D printing workshop, and a wellness centre with private spaces for counselling or other medical interventions.
Bronwyn said the school also has an integration area for students that are disengaged from the education system.
She said school staff can work one-on-one or even two on-one with the students to build trust.
“Trust with young people who have none in adults — and young people who are used to transactional relationships.
“It is about them having a having a home here, where they feel comfortable and welcomed.”
The integration area even has a separate entrance to the main school so students can come and go on their terms.
Students were all able to participate in work experience with the various trades during the construction.
One Year 12 student, Marcus Joy, had been on-again, off-again with his school attendance but has become engaged with his learning, and, Bronwyn says, “he shows up every day, coffee in hand” and will graduate at the end of the year.
Marcus stood out as part of his work placement with the project’s landscaping team and has now been offered an apprenticeship with the firm.
During his tour of the facility, Mr Merlino offered the school community, the architect practice Crosier Scott and building company McCorkell Constructions his congratulations on the project.
“This is one of the best projects I’ve seen in my eight years, so well done,” he said.
Students will say farewell to Mt Dandenong Road at the end of Term 2 and move to the new campus at the beginning of Term 3.

A butterfly flaps its wings

in response to Derailed by the butterfly effect, (WD Bulletin, July 2021)

MANY IN MONTMORENCY welcomed the announcement of the Hurstbridge Line Duplication (HLD) project at the 2018 election.
In 2019, when the project was confirmed to start in 2021, the Montmorency community was promised an “upgrade” to our small, unmanned station following a community consultation period.
No information on planned design or footprint was given to the community during the consultation period from late 2019 until October 2020.
Montmorency locals were aware of investigative works taking place throughout 2019 and 2020, including environmental assessments as mandated by the Banyule Council Planning Scheme for any works in a declared Vegetation Protection Overlay 1 (VPO1) where native species are protected.
In January 2020, feedback was sought for Amendment GC155 to the Banyule Planning Scheme.
This was then superseded by clause 52.03 Level Crossing Removal Project of the Victorian Planning Scheme, passed in late January 2020.
Clause 52.03 gives the Level Crossing Removal Project (LXPR) wide-ranging scope to bypass all local planning schemes in order to facilitate any project undertaken by LXRP.
Only minimal consultation with councils or communities is required, and all reports and assessments can be carried out only “to the satisfaction of the Minister for Planning”, with no other checks and balances for compliance or responsibility.
The Environmental Management Framework (EMF) required by Clause 52.03 was not made available to the public, despite repeated requests directly to LXRP, until late June 2021 via Banyule Council.
The released EMF, dated March 29, 2021, is Revision 2 of the EMF.
We have been unable to obtain previous versions of this document to date.
The current EMF version does mention the discovery of the Eltham Copper Butterfly (ECB) in January 2021 and the actions taken to ensure the protection of its habitat since confirmation of its presence.
Environmentalists in Montmorency and beyond were extremely thankful to the local resident who recognised the endangered butterfly and reported its sighting to the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.
As WD Bulletin’s July article comprehensively related, the conditions for a colony of ECB to thrive are very particular and require a three-way symbiotic relationship between a native bush, Bursaria Spinosa, a specific species of ant, Notoncus genus, and the ECB.
We take issue however with Sonja Terpstra’s claims that the ECB “before this year, was not previously known to be in Montmorency” and “has never before been seen in Montmorency”.
According to a report Butterfly changes in a peri-urban landscape published in Austral Entomology, the colony was first detected in 1977, on a property on Looker Road.

“The Montmorency site was monitored for over 10 years (from 1977 to 1988) but was subsequently reduced in extent by housing development in 1985, and then the colony subsequently collapsed sometime during the late 1990s-early 2000s.”

According to a letter from the Hon. Jacinta Allan dated July 12, 2021:

“Since 2017, the Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) has been conducting detailed ecological assessments to make sure the project would not threaten the ECB and its habitat.”

Yet these same ecological assessors failed to find any evidence of the presence of the ECB in an area where at least two of the three required species are present and would have been for a while, and close to where the ECB was recorded and monitored until the early 2000s.
The area around the rail cutting, currently fenced as an Environment Protection No-Go Zone, is also well-known to be a very significant example of pre-occupation remnant bushland where native species thrive.
It is not a stretch to assume that ecological assessments, carried out over almost four years, should have been actively looking for the ECB since it is part of the list of seven protected species potentially found in the project area as per the EMF.
Environmental and community groups are rightly worried that this fairly cavalier attitude to protecting areas of significant vegetation and wildlife is carrying through to other areas of the project.
This worry is borne out by the experience of members of the Banyule Sugar Glider Project and the Montmorency Community Group, who have been trying to work with LXRP to secure assurances that the Montmorency sugar glider colony would be shielded from impacts of the construction works as much as possible.
The Banyule Sugar Glider Project was awarded a $64,000 grant in 2019 as part of this State Government’s Pick My Project, a participatory budgeting community grants initiative carried out in 2018.
This same State Government’s LXRP has now destroyed a large part of the sugar gliders’ habitat in Montmorency and Greensborough.
The hard work of community volunteers, who nurtured and secured a thriving colony of over 70 sugar gliders in the area, was wiped out when LXRP removed most of the mature canopy trees found along the rail corridor between the Plenty River and the Diamond Creek, mostly for site access, car parks and a project whose scope is sorely lacking in foresight and benefits.
This rail corridor is also in a VPO1 zone and is recognised by local environmentalists and community groups as a thriving wildlife corridor supporting many native species of our precious and declining fauna.
LXRP’s consultation process with community groups has been tokenistic at best, and manipulated to fit their narrative at worst.
Many community members are feeling dejected and betrayed, having been used as pawns by the government’s spinning machine, to pay lip service to sham consultation processes.
As quoted in Derailed by the butterfly effect, LXPR downgraded its delivery expectations in light of the ECB habitat protection with peak services “on average every seven minutes from Greensborough, every 10 minutes from Montmorency and Eltham, and every 20 minutes from Diamond Creek, Wattle Glen and Hurstbridge, and will be delivered by the end of 2022”.
Montmorency is bearing the brunt of the environmental impacts of the project, yet it appears that there is no integrated plan to improve services and amenities along the Hurstbridge line as part of this $530m project, nor any political will to ensure a lasting legacy for the communities along the train line.
The revised design has deleted 950m of duplicated tracks and a brand-new bridge at Mountain View Road, yet we are told there have been no significant savings and that the extra services can now be achieved through signalling works. Calculations, based on the current PTV timetable, have found that the current morning peak services already meet the promised average of trains every seven minutes from Greensborough, 10 minutes from Eltham and 20 minutes from Hurstbridge.
Afternoon service peaks would require eight additional services to Greensborough, six to Eltham, and two to Hurstbridge to deliver the promised benefits.
LXRP has confirmed that only two additional services in the morning peak will be delivered at the end of 2022.
Once again, we question the extent of the construction impacts on the environment and the community for only two additional services in the morning and no change to afternoon services.
Many communities around Melbourne are seeing their precious green environment devastated and irreversibly changed for the worse, for the benefit of major infrastructure projects that are being imposed on them with no meaningful consultation, and with no regard for local planning and environmental safeguards.
Locals are being disempowered and silenced by large government agencies dedicated to spinning and selling major works on behalf of a state government without an integrated transport plan.
This is devastating for our local environment and far- reaching across our city.

Information session

LXRP had planned to host some information sessions to outline the changes to the project following the discovery of the Eltham Copper Butterfly (ECB) in Montmorency.
In a statement from Member of Eltham, Vicki Ward, it was announced that the current lockdown has made it clear that face-to-face sessions will not be able to be run. “I have asked LXRP to host an online information session regarding the changes to the project, to replace the sessions scheduled for last month,” she said.

An online information session will now be held at 4pm on Friday, August 27.

To register, please visit:

hurstbridge-line-duplication.eventbrite.com.au

Community representatives are calling on greater consultation on landscaping, colour scheme, and artwork of the Montmorency station upgrade, to allow the community to take ownership of the project.
Local activist Cécile Ménard said:

“Monty and its surrounding area is teeming with passionate environmentalists, artists and community-minded people who would love to put their mark on the heart of their village for the better”.
She urged the local member to call on LXRP to “revisit their token Landscaping Working Group, Stakeholder Liaison Group and 2021 Consultation Report (conducted when the community had no information on the design) and turn them into forces for good — there is still time.”

feature image supplied

Derailed by the butterfly effect

WORKS ON THE Hurstbridge Rail Duplication project have been disrupted by the discovery of the Eltham Copper Butterfly in bushland near Montmorency station. Since the last confirmed sighting of the butterfly in January this year, works on the project have been diverted to avoid the butterfly habitat as experts engaged by the Level Crossing Removal Project have carried out further investigations, assessments and design work to avoid impacting the butterfly. In 1986, the Eltham Copper Butterfly (Paralucia pyrodiscus lucida), then thought to be extinct, was rediscovered in Eltham, and before this year, was not previously known to be in Montmorency. The butterfly habitat comprises a three-way relationship between the butterfly, a tree, and an ant. The life cycle of the butterfly includes an intimate and obligatory association with ants of the genus Notoncus and a dwarfed form of the shrub Bursaria spinosa (Sweet Bursaria). The butterflies have not been found in areas where Notoncus ant colonies do not occur. Adults lay their eggs on the roots of Bursaria spinosa. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars are guarded by the ants, which lead them to and from the ant colony to browse on the Sweet Bursaria leaves. In return, the ants feed on sugar secretions which are exuded from the caterpillars’ bodies. Vicki Ward, Member for Eltham said Labor has a long history of protecting the butterfly over many decades.
“I’m proud and happy we’ve been able to work alongside our engineers to continue that record,” she said. As the Diary reported in the lead up to the 2018 election, the Andrews Government made the commitment that the works
“would allow trains to run every six and a half minutes at Greensborough, every 10 minutes at Eltham and Montmorency, and every 20 minutes at Hurstbridge, Diamond Creek and Wattle Glen, as well as two extra Hurstbridge express services, and would be completed by 2022”. To allow the project to continue duplicating the Hurstbridge line while protecting the endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly, which is listed as protected under the Commonwealth Environment and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, there will be changes to the original scope of the project and how the project will be delivered. The Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) claims it will still be able to deliver the election commitments, with adjustments to signalling to compensate for the 950 metres of line that will now not be duplicated. However, the revised outcomes do fall slightly short of the election commitments, as the project now promised trains will be able to run
“on average every 7 minutes from Greensborough, every 10 minutes from Montmorency and Eltham, and every 20 minutes from Diamond Creek, Wattle Glen and Hurstbridge, and will be delivered by the end of 2022”. Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said:
“We have had to act quickly to ensure that we are both following the Commonwealth environmental legislation and can still get on with this vital project”. LXRP CEO Kevin Devlin assured the Diary the endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly will be protected during the works.
“We’ve avoided the Eltham Copper butterfly and its habitat won’t be impacted during construction,” he said. Mr Develin said they will continue to deliver the Hurstbridge line duplication,
“which will allow for more frequent and reliable services for passengers on the Hurstbridge line as well as new stations at Greensborough and Montmorency.” The discovery of the butterfly means there is almost 1km of track that will remain single track, however, Mr Develin said there is still
“approximately 2km of the rail line to be duplicated between Greensborough and Montmorency, and approximately 1.5km between Diamond Creek and Wattle Glen.” He said the bulk of the original scope of the project was located outside of the butterfly habitat and therefore will continue to be delivered under the revised design. The new sections of track, along with other infrastructure improvements, will facilitate the delivery of the planned service improvements for passengers. There will be two new stations at Greensborough and Montmorency which will feature greater weather protection, better and safer connections to the surrounding area and new car parking. Platform two at Diamond Creek Station is getting an upgrade and a new pedestrian connection will be built behind Diamond Valley College. Construction for the new design of the project is underway, and the butterfly habitat has been fenced off, with major construction set to start early next year and the project completed in late 2022. Sonja Terpstra, State Labor Member for the Eastern Metropolitan Region said she commended Vicki Ward MP, the Member for Eltham on her strong advocacy around the preservation and protection of the Eltham Copper Butterfly habitat.
“The Andrews Labor Government will continue to modernise and upgrade Montmorency station, whilst ensuring the rare Eltham Copper Butterfly, which has never before been seen in Montmorency, be protected whilst important rail upgrades take place. “I look forward to seeing the completed project at Montmorency Station as this rare butterfly flourishes in its new-found habitat near the station,” she said.

Community Housing saved by people power

COMMUNITY GROUPS scrambled to save Warrandyte’s Emergency Housing in Police Street after the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) placed the building up for sale.
President of the Warrandyte Community Association, Carli Lange-Boutle contacted the Diary following the news that the Old Warrandyte Police House was for sale.
However, a week after it was placed on the market, the Minister for Housing, Richard Wynne, had a change of heart and intervened to stop the sale.
A spokesperson for the Director of Housing, said: “The Minister for Housing has carefully considered the matter and agrees that this site remains public housing.
“He has requested the Department to take the property off the market and ensure it remains in public hands to provide a safe place for Victorians who need a roof over their heads.”
The spokesperson said the Department will now get on with the job of completing the necessary work to refurbish the property so it is fit for tenancy.
Ms Lange-Boutle said: “ This community win for a community service is a combined effort from all people involved, especially the representatives from five community groups — Warrandyte Community Association, Warrandyte/Donvale Rotary, Now & Not Yet, Warrandyte Police,  Warrandyte Riverside Market and support from Park Orchards Ratepayers Association, Warrandyte Diary and Doncare, as well as support and assistance from Warrandyte Liberal MP Ryan Smith, Eastern Region Labor MP Sonja Terpstra MP and Labor candidate Stella Yee.
Warrandyte Police OIC, Sergeant Stewart Henderson, said he did some detective work when the property became vacant and discovered that DHHS was considering selling the property.
“When the previous tenants vacated I asked around to see who the next tenants were but didn’t get much of a response, then I discovered that it was going to be sold, so I contacted a few people and talked to people at local events … and the snowball started  from there,” he said.
After being contacted by members of the community, both the Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith and Member for Eastern Metropolitan Sonja Terpstra petitioned the Minister to keep the building in public hands.
The Old Warrandyte Police House Emergency Housing Support Service was community managed by Margory Lapworth but was given to  DHHS when she became ill, under the agreement that it was used for short-term emergency housing for Manningham and Nillumbik residents.
Before the building was used for emergency housing it was the residence attached to Warrandyte Police Station — Officer in Charge of the police station from 1992-2011, Keith Walker lived in the station when it was considered a country station, however Mr Walker said that he was
disgusted when, in 1996, the Kennett Government sold off more than 100 houses attached to Police Stations and State Parks.
He said it caused a huge disruption to him and his family given he was ordered to live in the house when he took the position, so sold the family home in Croydon, only to be effectively evicted three years later when the government sold it off.
“I was delighted to see the support of the community rally to keep the house in the community at that time.”
He said the property was transferred to another Government department and given to Margory Lapworth to manage on their behalf.
“It was supposed to be used for emergency housing for the local community, and it did do that for a while when a family moved in after their house burnt down, but from therein it never seemed to follow the rule, in that there was a tenant who lived there for 15-plus years.
However, he said he was disturbed that when the last round of tenants left, the property had to be decontaminated.
“Where was the DHHS to let it get to that condition?” he asked.
However, Mr Walker said he is very pleased that people have managed to save it again.
Ms Lange-Boutle says that the WCA was “furious” that the property had been placed on the market “without any community consultation” but she says that she is “ecstatic to the point of tears” that community action has delivered such a great result.
The DHHS originally advised that it applied to the Minister of Planning to sell the property because DHHS resources do not allow for them to manage the property when they have areas with a much higher housing demand than Warrandyte.
However, Ms Lang-Boutle says the need for emergency housing is not based on the affluence of the town — the need for short-term emergency housing can affect anyone.
“ Divorce, house fire, loss of employment, death of a spouse, it can happen to anyone at any time,”
she said “To have the ability to stay within our community can be a major benefit, particularly for people with school-aged children,” she said.
Sgt Henderson says the property’s proximity to the police station allows the police members to foster good relationships with the tenants.
He said the whole community came together to support the children of the last family of tenants, with relationships fostered with the Community Church, the football club and local businesses.
Former Labor candidate, Stella Yee has been investigating the social need in the area and says, “there is a significant need for social services in the community”.
According to Doncare’s 2018 annual report, the Manningham based charity provided 3,325 cases of assistance under the category of Emergency Relief Services.
Sgt Henderson said that there is need in the local community.
“The people who are in need are often embarrassed about it, so there is need, it is just not in your face,” he said.
When the WCA first learned of the plan to sell the property, they set up an Emergency Housing Support Service (EHSS) Task Force to stop the sale.
Ms Lange-Boutle tells us this task force will now be submitting a business plan for the community to manage the property.
She floated the idea of a Men’s Shed being established and based in the building while they carry out the refurbishment to make the property suitable for tenancy.

Chris “Chewy Padham (WCA), Therese Dawson (WCA), Ryan Smith MP, Carli Lange-Boutle ( WCA President), Sonja Terpstra MP, Sgt Stewart Henderson, Warwick Leeson (WCA) John Hanson (WCA) and Dick Davies (WCA)

Sgt Henderson thinks that a Men’s Shed is a really needed program. “Mental health for men is a big issue, he said,” I think that would be a brilliant opportunity.”
In a letter obtained by the Diary, Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said in September, the “Department has advised that there are significant maintenance issues, including structural work, graffiti removal, rodent infestation and methamphetamine residue to be cleaned up — this work was estimated to cost up to $200,000”.
The property has since been cleaned up enough to put on the market, but there is still much more work required to make it fit for tenancy.
Mr Smith was originally advised by the Planning Minster that it was not an option to retain the premises once the work was done, “as it is deemed to be too old to continue to remain in public hands, with the preference to purchase new stock”.
However, the pressure from the community has, happily, changed the Minister’s mind and the building is now going to be able to continue supporting vulnerable people in our community in the years to come.