Friday, October 31, 2008

report from the roundtable – 28th Oct

A small agenda, but plenty of discussion at this week’s council meeting.

First up on the agenda is “reports from delegates” where councillors talk about items of interest.

I’ve had a busy two weeks so I confined my report to a handful of items so I didn’t take up too much time.

Yarra Ranges Bus Service Review
One of the successes of the Eastern Transport Coalition, of which I am the Yarra Ranges representative, was to lobby the government to bring forward the Bus Service Review in Yarra Ranges. The Bus Review enables residents to identify how bus services could be improved throughout Yarra Ranges. There are a total of 24 different bus routes included in the review for Yarra Ranges. If you want to have a say make sure you visit the DoT
website. It includes information about the review and submission guidelines to help you out. I have been a strong advocate for public transport and will continue to be, so your voice is heard through the Bus Service Review process. The message that comes back to me time and time again from the community, is spread of hours, ease of use, safety, frequency of service and connection to the train system.

I also reported back on the
Clean Up Blacksmith’s Way Day and the Kyeema Commemoration.

Tecoma Pre School Water Tank
In a previous post (see blog) you may recall that I funded a 3000 litre water tank for Tecoma Pre School. As a way of saying thank you the children at the kinder painted me a picture.

The painting represented what the children liked about living in Yarra Ranges and they said,

“we like the sunny days, sometimes when it rains we can see rainbows over the mountain. The mountain (on the right hand side) has trees on it that touch the sky. In one tree is a possum, in the sky is a bird. We love coming to kinder (on the right) and want to go to school next year (on the left). The people are us, near the trees, the kinder and the school.”

It was a very touching gesture and beautiful way for the children to express their thanks.

“Late items through the chair”
This is an opportunity to raise an issue you want discussed at council that doesn’t appear on the agenda. For some time I have been campaigning to reduce the speed limits through our towns to 50kph. (
blog 25 Aug, blog 1 Jun and blog 30 Apr)

Back in July the Minister for Roads and Ports, Tim Pallas, gave a commitment to council that, in response to the Shire’s request to reduce speed limits, every town would be reviewed on a case by case basis. The review is to be carried out with Vic Roads, the Shire and Victoria Police.

I thought it was important to remind the Minister of his commitment and seek an urgent update as to where the reviews were at.

On the night Cr Heenan reported that Yarra Ranges Inspector Andrew Humberstone was supportive of the Shire’s request for reduced speed limits which was terrific news.

I will continue to fight for our 50 kph zones through our townships. The safety of our community is paramount. Many of our townships have small rural roads and challenging sight lines, others a tremendous amount of through traffic. We need to make our townships more accessible to pedestrians, our community shouldn’t have to run the gauntlet every time they want to cross a road.

Did you know that all members of the public are welcome to attend any council meeting, if you’d like to know more contact me on

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

school focused youth service needs analysis report released

I have just read the School Focused Youth Service Needs Analysis Report which highlights some the key themes and emerging issues for young people in the Shire.

The SFYS works with local schools and agencies to support student wellbeing across the state. The needs analysis provides local schools and agencies with priority areas to address the needs of young people and it provides some sobering reading.

From information gathering the following are the top four priorities in Yarra Ranges:
Depressed mood and depressive disorders
Early School Leaving

Emerging issues include:
At Primary Schools: Anxiety, autism, aggression and anger management, grief and loss, poverty & welfare needs and relationships with peers, family & school.
At Secondary Schools: Risky behaviours, cyber bullying, transport, need for support for boys including role modelling
From Agencies: Need for support for boys including role modelling, poverty & welfare needs, family support and transport.

The young leaders recently presented to council the results of a survey they had conducted with 281 young people across the Shire. One of the survey questions was about how young people feel they are perceived in our community. The results were interesting and very telling. Out of the 281 responses, 15 answered positively, the rest believed that they are perceived negatively.

The positives…
Most young people are seen as respectful and honest people
In our community we are perceived well
We are environmentalists of the future
Good role models
Recognised for sport and achievements
Smart and know what we are doing
We are the future…we will fill their spots

The negatives…
Focus on negative not positive
Drink, drugs, parties
Cause trouble
No respect for anyone…all the same
Station rats/annoying
Don’t look after environment
Hoons and hooligans
Bad because we are young
Not taken seriously
Grow up too quick
Judged on appearance
Bad drivers

Our young people have a lot to contend with, the pressures of today are far different from those of yesterday. I have great faith in our young people, they have a lot to offer. We need to provide a supportive community that nurtures our young people. I have met so many motivated and talented young people as councillor for Lyster, their energy and commitment is inspirational.

Note: The Young leaders is a program run by Yarra Ranges to assist young people develop important skills that will assist them to discover what is great about their community, including the opportunities and challenges that exist for young people.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the campaign trail

The election is now on in earnest with nominations closing yesterday.

As part of the electoral process the ballot draw was held the same day at the electoral office in Lilydale (a ballot draw is to determine where a candidate’s name appears on the ballot paper).

I went along to see how I’d fair. Luck was with me as I drew number one position on the ballot paper out of a field of five. It’s always a positive to get the number one spot on the ballot.

I expect the predictable smear campaigns against me however I proudly stand by my track record over the past three years on council.

In all my thoughts and decision making I have always put the aspirations and needs of the Lyster community front and centre. My passion for the community is unwavering.

I have unfinished business, I want the opportunity to see projects through to completion and new projects undertaken. Please give me that opportunity.

VOTE 1 Samantha DUNN


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Monday, October 27, 2008

getting into art

It was a great day at Burrinja getting into art. The community were out in force to find out the local happenings at Burrinja.

Aunty Dot was there doing basket weaving, the Treefern Potters were showing their wares, the children had a chance to try their hand at pottery, artists gave talks on their exhibitions, bush tucker was available on the barby, local musos provided live entertainment, the artist studios threw open their doors, it was a fantastic day out.

Me and Alex at the Jarmbi Gallery in Burrinja with one of his marvellous creations. Alex is a sculptor, potter, poet, has a myriad of other artistic pursuits and is a great supporter of Burrinja.
The place was buzzing with activity and reinforces Burrinja’s place as a key cultural centre in the Dandenong Ranges.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

listening to lyster

There have been many challenges as ward councillor for Lyster. I’ve always thought the important thing is to listen to my constituents. The community is always very clear on its aspirations and needs and I have worked hard to try fulfil them.

Kerrs Lane
A while ago the residents of Kerrs Lane, Lysterfield contacted me to do something about the continual use of their road as a rat run from Belgrave Hallam Rd to Wellington Rd. After consultation with the local residents it was decided the best way forward was a locked gate. But it’s not that simple, emergency services, waste services, utility companies and residents all had to be consulted to ensure there was agreement about the way forward. I’m pleased to say the residents are now enjoying a much quieter road with a shiny new gate installed about half way along Kerrs Lane and no more cars belting down this well known shortcut.

Belgrave Pool Upgrade
The Belgrave pool has served our community well and has the highest use of all the Shire’s outdoor pools however there is a need for some long term upgrading. Enhancement of amenities and facilities will see it brought up to scratch to become an even more popular destination for our community.

I have fought to ensure that $500,000 has been set aside in the capital works budget to make sure the works are undertaken. (note: Monbulk Pool to get $1.5 million, see
blog for more info)

The Patch Playground
I was alarmed to discover that the Shire was going to remove the Children’s Playground in The Patch. The playground was treated pine, starting to splinter and the tyres were wearing to the point the steel belting was exposed. I was all for getting rid of a risk to children but then I learnt the Shire had no intention of replacing the playground.

This was an outrageous proposition and I made a concerted effort to the highest levels at the Shire to ensure a new playground was installed to replace the old one.

After extensive consultation a design befitting the region was chosen and the children of The Patch now have a terrific playground which they love to play on.

Droughtproofing Our Reserves
This is an issue that is continually raised with me and front and centre in my thinking. The stage 3A water restrictions mean that only 6 of the shire’s 65 recreation reserves are able to be watered. Without water our reserves are virtually unusable and this has dire consequences for the social fabric of our community.

I have worked to ensure that bore exploration, tank installation, pool backwash projects and re-seeding of recreation reserves are part of the solution to securing ongoing water supplies for the reserves in Lyster. So much more work needs to be done in this area and I am committed to sourcing alternative water supplies. I will also continue to advocate to other levels of government the need for funding to help the shire address this pressing need.

If you have any local issue you would like to raise with me, I’d welcome your
email or call me on 9752 6869.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

kyeema commemorated

I was pleased to represent the Dandenong Ranges and the Lyster community as ward councillor at the 70th anniversary of the Kyeema Air Disaster atop Mount Dandenong. The Kyeema air crash was Australia’s worst air disaster of the time with all 18 people on board dying.

Rather than a sombre affair the commemoration was a celebration and recognition of the positive steps towards greater air safety in Australia. The inquiry into the Kyeema crash led to many changes to air safety regulations and air traffic control. Our country’s good air safety record can be credited to the inquiry after Kyeema.

Families of the crash victims were represented, the Mt Dandenong Historical Society did a great job organising a fly over by 2 DC3s, the Victoria Police Band and the Air League Cadets.

A solemn moment in the commemoration was when Macarthur Job OAM read the names of the crew and passengers who died in the Kyeema to the sound of the bass drum, the drummer striking a sober tone after each name.

The commemoration also saw the launch a new book by Macarthur Job OAM, Disaster in the Dandenongs, a detailed account of the Kyeema crash. Many in the community came along, both young and old and the new works at the site far better reflect the significance of the Kyeema Crash in our history.


Friday, October 24, 2008

a new chapter for emergency relief

Tonight I attended the AGM of the Dandenong Ranges Emergency Relief Service (DRERS). Being a councillor has really opened my eyes to the range of community services out there and DRERS play an important role in helping those in our community in crisis. The people DRERS assist are often alone and isolated trying to manage complex and difficult issues.

The AGM was very well attended and there is a growing awareness and support for the work of DRERS in the community.

To ensure that funds raised from the Mayor’s Sleep Out event (see blog) came to the Dandenong Ranges and not just to Lilydale and the valley, I put forward DRERS as a recipient of the Shire’s fundraising efforts along with ANCHOR.

I also suggested to my son’s school (Selby Primary) that they should hold a Pyjama Day to assist the Shire’s fundraising efforts for the agencies that provide relief for the homeless. It was a great success and a very enthusiastic Grade 3 student helped me with the on the ground logistics. For a gold coin donation the children dressed up in their finest pyjamas and a couple of the teachers joined in for good measure.

Frank Watson, president of DRERS for the past 11 years chose not to restand, Frank has certainly seen the organisation grow in this time. I’m pleased to announce the committee for 2008/09 is:
President: Anita Burman
Vice President: Glyn Jones
Treasurer: Darrell Jolly
Secretary: Jenny Simms
General members:
Sarah Jobson
Christina Lillie
Garry Watts
David Fulford

My congratulations to the incoming committee members, I look forward to working with them in the future.

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get into art at burrinja

Last night I attended the Young Bloods comedy tour at Burrinja. It was a great night produced and presented by local comedian Michael Connell. With funding and support from the Shire of Yarra Ranges, Youth Foundations Victoria and the Yarra Valley Arts council it was a hilarious night of comedy.

Michael Connell (Gladysdale's most famous export), me and Kieran Dennis, local performer from Orphic Mystery and all round supporter of the arts.

It featured comedians Tom Sigert, Danny McGinlay, Tom Ballard, Michael Connell, Damien Briese, Alison Bice and Orphic Mystery performed the music. The Young Bloods tour is on around the Shire this weekend, if you can get along I highly recommend it.

Burrinja is a great local arts facility and we are fortunate to have it. To celebrate Burrinja’s tenth birthday GET INTO ART is on this Sunday between 11am & 4pm. The day will include free activities and events for one and all. I certainly be going along and I encourage you to visit our local cultural centre.

I have always been a great supporter of arts in the hills and I look forward to seeing the Burrinja site redeveloped into a Performing Arts Centre for our region.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

the campaign trail

I’ve had a terrific time out in the community campaigning for re-election. It’s been a privilege to serve the community and one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’ve had a tremendous amount of positive feedback from community members and great support from local traders too.

I’ve been handing out my flyer in local townships and I must say I’ve had a great response. By now you should have received my flyer, one way or another but just in case you haven’t here it is…

Samantha lives with her partner and their young son in Selby and is familiar with the issues facing residents of the urban fringe and rural townships.

“It has been a privilege to serve the community. I look forward to working hard to make Lyster an even better place to live. It’s time to build on my achievements, see projects through to completion like the Monbulk Pool and the Children’s Hub.”

Samantha has:
· Saved Sherbrooke Children’s Centre and long day care in the Dandenong Ranges
· Introduced the Green Waste Wheelie Bin service
· Fought for the redevelopment of the Monbulk Pool
· Provided a sensible and pragmatic approach to protecting our unique environment
· Renewed council’s investment in early childhood services
· Stopped inappropriate high density development in Belgrave and Tecoma townships
· Secured $12.2 million dollars in capital works for the local community of Lyster

Samantha will:
· Fight for better public transport and commuter parking
· Campaign for a permanent increase in local police presence
· Encourage home grown, small business
· Fight for more funding to tackle the weed crisis
· Create shared pathways for walking and cycling to link our townships and communities
· Support innovation and value added businesses
· Continue the fight for 50 kph zones through our towns
· Continue to ensure adequate funding for roads in the Lyster Ward

I offer sensible, balanced decision making and stand for transparent, hard working, cooperative grass roots democracy.

Authorised by Judy Wolff, 1523 Burwood Hwy, Tecoma, 3160
Written by Samantha Dunn, 377 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, 3000

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

strong women of the hills – 8th november

I’m looking forward to going to the Strong Women of the Hills - Celebrating 100 Years of Women's suffrage event in November. The first event, a history forum at Mont De Lancey was great and a fantastic learning experience of the life and times of women living in the hills at the turn of the (last) century. (see blog entry for more info).

It is a project I’ve keenly followed and supported in a historic year for women in Victoria and the suffrage movement. I encourage you to come along for what will be a fabulous occasion.

The Dandenong Ranges Music Council Presents:

Strong Women of the Hills - Celebrating 100 Years of Women's suffrage

Finale Day - Saturday November 8th, 2008
at Burrinja 351 Glenfern Rd, Upwey.

Workshop commences at 11.00am with Peru the Singing Woman - Singing from your belly! FREE - ALL WELCOME!!

Entertainment in the Burrinja Cafe between 1-2pm, the finale kicks off just before 2.00pm with a musical and visual FEAST.

Cost: $8 or $5 includes afternoon tea.

Program includes:
Peru the Singing Woman
Jenny Thomas
Dana Zeimer
Tammy Lobato MP
Cr Samantha Dunn
Sing Australia Choir
New work by Ranges Young Strings
Circus Folk
Tracey Roberts
Helen Wozitsky
Elizabeth Fensham
Barb McFarlane
Suzann Frisk Singers
Sing Like a Bloke Chorus
DRMC Orchestra
and much much more!!!

To book your tickets for the finale please call DRMC on 9754 6566

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blacksmith’s way clean up

A big thank you to everyone who came down to Blacksmith’s Way in Belgrave to help clean up the laneway. Community, police and traders all came along to assist with the clean up.

Members from the Kilsyth Township Group came along to provide moral support to the Belgrave Trader’s Association and help out with the clean up. The Mooroolbark Township Group lent out their Gurney to help clean up the brickwork. The Upwey Township Group came along to assist.

Many hands make light work and it was not long before Blacksmith’s Way had a total spring clean, looking fantastic.

There are some spaces in Blacksmith’s Way that are crying out for some public art and if re-elected in the November elections I will certainly be exploring this option.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

mav to oppose logging in catchments

Yesterday at the MAV (Municipal Association of Victoria) State Conference the Shire of Yarra Ranges put up a motion to oppose logging in Melbourne's Water Catchments. I'm pleased to say the motion was supported 53% for and 47% against. This was a flow on my motion at Yarra Ranges to oppose logging in November 2007 (see blog entry for more info).

It is not the first time Yarra Ranges has put up this motion to the MAV, in April the vote was unsuccessful with 51% against and 49% for. Clearly times are changing and the local government sector is starting to recognise the impact of logging on our water catchment areas.

The MAV is the peak representative and advocacy body for Victoria's 79 councils. Their role is to represent and advocate the interests of local government, lobby for a 'fairer deal' for councils, raise the sector's profile, ensure its long-term security and provide advice. Now that this motion has been passed, the MAV will advocate this position to state government on behalf of the local government sector.

The wording of the Yarra Ranges motion to put to The MAV (originally moved by me on 8th April, 2008 and supported unanimously) is:

That the following statement, adopted at the Council meeting held on 27 November, 2007, namely:

"The Shire of Yarra Ranges does not support logging in water catchments.
Council recognises that:
1. Logging has a dramatic and detrimental effect on water yield in catchments.
2. Young re-growth trees need more water to grow thus releasing less water into catchments.
3. Logging reduces stream flow and yields to water catchments.
4. It takes 150 years for water yields to return to their pre-logged status.
5. It is poor water policy to continue to log our catchments.
6. Logging of water catchments adversely affects water quality through increasing sediment as does road Construction through logging coupes.
We urge the government to consider a policy of no logging in water catchments."

be presented to the next meeting of the MAV State Council requesting its support in making representations to the State Government in opposition to logging in Melbourne's water catchments.

Given what we now know about the carbon carrying capacity of these Mountain Ash forests it is even more imperative that they are protected from logging (see
blog entry for more info).

This latest support from the local government sector is great news for those who want to protect and conserve our water catchments and given this was one of my election platforms from the last council election (2005) I’m proud that I’ve been able to deliver on behalf of my community.

Note: The photos used in this blog entry are all from the Armstrong Water Catchment up near Cambarville where logging commenced earlier this year.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

tecoma supermarket application

Earlier today I attended a public meeting held in Tecoma to discuss the supermarket application. There were over 100 people in attendance from Tecoma and surrounds. Organisers of the meeting placed helium balloons on site to give a visual indication of the proposed height of the building.

I was invited to attend and I thought it was important to let the community know about the steps involved in the planning process. There are some people who think the decision has already been made, it has not.

The process is:
*All of the objections received will be collated and reviewed by the planning officer (to date 50 objections have been received by council)
*The objectors and applicant will be invited to a consultation meeting. This will provide an opportunity to discuss the proposal, address any issues that can be addressed, and explain the process further.
*In the meantime the planning officer will follow up any outstanding referrals with statutory authorities like Vic Roads for example.
*Once the officer has all the information to hand she will prepare a report to Council. This matter will be decided by Council because of the number of objections.
*The application is likely to come to Council in December at the earliest.
*Once Council has made a decision, whatever that decision may be, there is the potential for appeals to VCAT by either the applicant or objectors.
*If an appeal is lodged the Tribunal (VCAT) hears all parties and makes a decision as if it were the responsible authority (council).

If you would like to discuss the application or the planning process I welcome your call on 9752 6869 or you can email me at

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

report from the round table – 14th October

Report from the roundtable is my regular blog entry to update you on the proceedings at council meetings. I know that it’s not that easy for my constituents to get to Lilydale to see council in operation for themselves and this is just a small way I can give an insight into the goings on at council.

This week it was a packed agenda with the meeting going very late into the night. In this edition of report from the round table I’m going to report back specifically on local Lyster Ward matters.

Ted Heron at the Belgrave CFA Annual Awards night accepting his 55 year service medal.

First up was the presentation of a letter under seal to Ted Heron of the Belgrave CFA. It is a small token of our thanks in recognition of his contribution and Ted was modest in acknowledging his presentation. Earlier this year Ted reached his 55 years service with the CFA, an outstanding achievement. Ted has made a significant and long lasting contribution to our community and is worthy recipient of a letter under seal from council.

Next up locally was the Belgrave Main Street Toilet redevelopment. Anyone who currently uses the toilets knows they are well past their use by date. There were some concerns about the original plans but after the planning consultation meeting with residents, the Shire and a safety officer from the Victoria Police, the toilets had a far better redesign. The toilets will now consist of dedicated female, male and a unisex all abilities toilet in a much safer configuration. I for one can’t wait for the new toilets, the redevelopment is well overdue and will serve not only the local community and our tourists well.

The next local issue was approval of funding of $3,000 to construct a shower facility at the Tin Shed in Belgrave. In conversations I’ve had with emergency relief providers it seems there is a desperate local need for shower facilities for people experiencing homelessness. Currently the closest public shower is located in Wantirna and only open on Fridays between 9am and midday which is a great impost on people of the Dandenong Ranges who are already struggling with homelessness. It is a simple and basic need that I was happy to support from my ward fund and I was pleased that councillors supported my request to have the shower installed.

Children get enormous pleasure from growing (and eating) vege's straight from the garden. A vegetable garden is a great learning experience for children in so many ways.

Lastly was approval of funding of $2,236 for the installation of a water tank at the Tecoma Pre School. The preschool contacted me to see if I could help them with their water tank project. It is their intention for the children to use the water on their vege patch and garden and teach the children the value of water conservation. It is a project of great merit in these times of water scarcity and a valuable learning tool for the children.

Did you know that all members of the public are welcome to attend any council meeting, if you’d like to know more contact me on

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Monday, October 13, 2008

sleep out for homeless

On Saturday night my family and I participated in the sleep out for homelessness at Melba Park in Lilydale. The event was to raise awareness about the issue of homelessness. I took along a large cardboard box to represent those homeless people who sleep out in improvised shelters across Australia.

The statistics are telling and shameful for such an affluent country as ours. I thought it was important to raise awareness about homelessness and provided food for thought by detailing the statistics on my improvised shelter.

From the ABS: On census night 2006, 105,000 people were homeless

16% were sleeping out
45% stayed with friends or relatives temporarily
21% were in boarding houses
19% stayed in hostels, shelters and refuges

55% were single
20% were couples
26% were families with children

67% were over 18
21% were between 12 and 18 years old
12% were under 12

Me and Anita Burman from the Dandenong Ranges Emergency Relief Service (DRERS). Money raised from the sleep out event will go to DRERS and Anchor to provide emergency relief in the Yarra Ranges.

I thought the box was a great way to raise awareness and everyone at the event strolled over to have a read. As the night wore on, it got colder and colder and the box provided little protection against the cold and damp of night (and it was a relatively mild night).

Definition of homelessness
Absolute Homeless: living on the streets, in deserted buildings, improvised dwellings, in parks.
Relative Homeless: staying in boarding houses, using emergency accommodation or people with no secure accommodation staying temporarily with friends or relatives in private dwellings.
Marginally Housed: people living in caravan parks.

We can all do our bit to help the homeless in our community, whether it be buying an extra tin of food at the supermarket to donate, giving cash, donating blankets, volunteering time, every effort helps to assist our emergency relief agencies to help the homeless.

At this Tuesday’s Council meeting I will be moving a motion to use my ward fund to install a shower at Mission Impossible at the Tin Shed in Belgrave. In speaking with locally based emergency relief services there is a real need for a locally based public shower for the homeless. I hope my colleagues support my motion, it is a simple but pressing need for the most marginalised in our community.

Did you know:
$5 can provide a phone card
$10 can provide a MET ticket
$30 can provide asthma medication for a month
$50 can provide warm clothing
$100 can provide access to an essential health service
$200 can provide a family food for a week

The event was well worth it if in some small way it helps those who are most marginalised and disadvantaged in our community.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

the supermarket application – tecoma

I have received many calls and emails from residents in Tecoma and surrounds about the application for a supermarket on Burwood Highway (YR2008/816).

Many residents have expressed their concern about the application and the short time line to lodge an objection.

I would like to assure residents that the time on the planning application relates to the statutory period of notice for the application, council will continue to accept submissions right up to the day of the council meeting that will decide whether to approve or refuse the application. Given the complexity of the application it will not be heard by council before December and perhaps even later.

To date 15 objections have been received by concerned residents, which means the application will be decided by full council (the trigger is 6 objections or more). Given the amount of objections to date a planning consultation meeting will be held, this gives the opportunity for objectors and the applicant to discuss the points of objection and the detail of the application.

Many residents have asked me which supermarket it will be, an independent or a larger chain. In looking through the file, I did see on two of the plans a notation that stated Tecoma Coles and I can only assume that it is intended to be a Coles, however the Shire has not been officially advised of who it will be.

If you would like to discuss the application in more detail I welcome your call or email on 9752 6869 or

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I was impressed with the quality of work at tonight’s launch of State Of Mind - The Sunny Side of Mental Health exhibition at Burrinja as part of the Shire’s activities for Mental Health Week.

The photography exhibition is the work of members of the Shire’s Paying Attention To Self (PATS) and Traction programs.

The main aim of the exhibition is to show positive images created by young people whose lives have been affected by mental health issues in some way. The work was impressive and rich in the diversity of subject matter covered and techniques used and I’m sure we will see more artistic endeavours from these budding artists in the future.

Participating Artists received certificates
in recognition of their involvement.

Me at tonight's launch, the exhibition runs till October 12th, I encourage you to get along and have a look for yourself.

The PATS and Traction programs are run by the Shire for young people who are coping with a range of mental health issues.

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all systems go for sailability

Today it was terrific to attend the official launch of the Lysterfield floating jetty at Lysterfield Lake Park. The jetty was funded to the tune of $10,000 by a Shire of Yarra Ranges Community Grant. The floating jetty will be used for the Sailability program which encourages sailing for people with disabilities in social, recreational and competitive activities.

Me in front of the new jetty at Lysterfield Lake Park. The wind was certainly up, great conditions for sailing.

The Lysterfield Sailing Club has been in existence since 1979, been sailing at the lake since 1986 and since that time has gone from strength to strength. The floating jetty is made of recycled plastics and will greatly assist those with disabilities to participate in mainstream sailing activities. The design of the jetty keeps it close to water level making it much easier for people with mobility challenges to access their boat.

When construction started on the jetty the water level was one metre higher than what it is now, the jetty's construction allows for a great deal of variability in water level at the lake.

It’s a great venue and a great initiative and well worthy of a community grant.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

film fundraiser - 16 October

Join me for drinks and a movie at the Cameo in support of the Greens candidates contesting the upcoming local government elections.

What: Burn After Reading – The latest Cohen Brothers comedy
When: Thursday 16th October at 6:30pm
Where: The Cameo, 1628 Burwood Highway, Belgrave
Cost: $20 (all money raised goes towards the local gov election campaign)

For bookings visit or rsvp to Louis on 0407 300 188 or

click on the image for more info

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

environmental enlightening for victorian councils

I was very pleased to attend the Municipal Association of Victoria’s (MAV) Environment Policy Forum held in Melbourne last Thursday. The one day forum focussed on current climate change science, the role of local government in planning for climate change and presented a number of alternative technologies to assist councils to adapt to the shifting climate. Gavin Jennings, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, also spoke at the forum. I have no doubt the climate change is the biggest issue facing us locally and globally and I was keen to learn more from a local government perspective.

The science presented by Kevin Hennessy, Principal Research Scientist with CAWCR, was compelling. Currently climate movement is tracking at the high end of the IPCC projections. Kevin reported that 2007 was the warmest year on record with average temperatures for Victoria increasing by .8 oC (maximum) and .4 oC (minimum). Our rainfall has declined 13% but telling in that is that there has been a decline of 28% rainfall in the autumn rain period. There has been a 37% drop in inflows to Melbourne Dams and no likelihood of high inflow years anymore.

The reality of climate change means we need to start changing the way we approach water security, bush fire readiness and agricultural practices. This is something I have been mindful of when making decisions about the future direction of Yarra Ranges.

Trevor Budge, Senior Lecturer at La Trobe focussed on two major issues that local government can plan for, health and food. Local government has a significant role to play in designing towns for healthy outcomes, this means more paths and more walkable townships. I couldn’t agree more and if I’m re-elected in November I will be focussing very specifically on making our towns more walkable. A telling fact from Trevor was that every additional 1 km walked translates to a 4.8% reduction in the likelihood of obesity.

Trevor went on to talk about how most countries around the world produce 35% of their food inside urban areas, in Australia we produce 23% on the urban fringe, in Victoria this figure drops to 13.34%. Given our location Yarra Ranges has a major role to play being a local food producer to Melbourne and I have always voted to ensure our agricultural areas are protected from inappropriate development.

Then Mike Ritchie from SITA spoke about waste, carbon trading and the impact on local government. It is highly likely that waste will be included in the Federal Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme which means greater costs for councils unless they start to reduce emissions from their garbage collection services.

Mike specifically addressed organics (food, timber, green waste and paper) in the waste stream and their major contribution to greenhouse gas emissions through the production of methane. Mike suggests we need a new way to handle these organics through composting or methane digestion. By doing this councils would play a major role in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions generated by landfills. I am very keen to pursue this as an option for Yarra Ranges.

Minister Jennings talked about the development of zero emission zones, a program of retrofitting commercial buildings and the development of the Land & Biodiversity paper among other things. These things can’t come soon enough, however I would like to see climate change incorporated into planning schemes and building codes, and if re-elected I will continue to advocate for their inclusion.

There is no doubt that climate change is the biggest issue facing us, but it is a time of great opportunity and new prospects. Home grown business, community based agriculture, telecommuting, local tourism, decentralised water and power generation are all options for us in the Dandenongs.

The home vegie patch is one of the small ways you can be part of the solution to climate change. Growing vegies is a great way to reduce 'food miles' on your dinner plate and nothing beats a home grown tomatoe!

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clean up the way day - 19th Oct

The Belgrave Trader’s Association are planning a clean up for Blacksmith’s Way, the lane that runs behind the shops on Belgrave’s ‘low side’.

For a long time Blacksmith’s Way has been an eyesore and far from an inviting gateway for commuters to Belgrave.

Its great to see the traders taking on this initiative and bringing some pride and ownership to the town.

Why don’t you come along, bring your gloves and scrubbing brush and give a helping hand, its on Sunday 19th October, I’m sure all offers of help are gratefully accepted.
I’ll be down there ready, willing and able.

If you’d like more information contact the Belgrave Trader’s Association on or call 9754 1027.

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