Thursday, December 24, 2009

merry christmas and best wishes for 2010

It has been a very challenging year, the effects of the Black Saturday bushfires continue to resonate through our communities. From tragedy has come recovery and rebuilding, our communities generously reaching out to help those affected directly and indirectly by the bushfires.
The bush has also undergone its own recovery, existing plants regenerating whilst some surprising newcomers have appeared as a response to fire.
The grass trees on the mountains behind Steele's Creek put on a magnificent display of flower spikes this spring, post bushfire.
This summer stay safe, I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful new year.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

two more places of last resort for the dandenongs

report from the roundtable – 22 dec

This week’s council meeting, not on the original schedule of meetings, was called to consider Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSPs)/ Places of Last Resort for Yarra Ranges.

Last Friday I spent time with the assessment team looking at five sites across the Dandenong Ranges including the rear of the Olinda shops, Ferny Creek Horticultural Society grounds, Alexander’s Carpark in Belgrave, Belgrave Recreation Reserve and the Upwey Recreation Reserve. The CFA, Victoria Police and the Shire were all represented on the assessment team.

As a result of the assessments undertaken on those site visits two sites were referred to council for consideration to be designated as NSPs. I moved the motion to support the two sites. Council unanimously supported both the Belgrave and Upwey Recreation Reserves as designated NSPs.

I still continue to be concerned about community perceptions about NSPs, in many cases they are figuring as part of people’s fire plans and not being seen as a last ditch effort to survive when all else has failed.

There has been some conjecture out in the community that council can oppose the designation of NSPs based on ideological grounds, however the legislation is quite clear and states that councils ‘must’ identify and designate NSPs. The Act goes on to say that council is not required to designate an NSP if the council is satisfied on ‘reasonable grounds’ that it is not appropriate to designate.

There is a degree of ambiguity about what the definition of ‘reasonable grounds’ is, so I went on to move a further motion to assist council to better understand our obligations under the new legislation.

“That council seeks legal opinion on the definition of reasonable grounds as referred to in Section 50G, clause 7 (b) of the Emergency Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2009.”

It is important that we understand the full implications of the Act, much of the logistics and policy on the implementation of NSPs has been done on the run, it is time to gain a more informed insight into the Act.

As a councillor in the Dandenong Ranges I think it is important that we use our best efforts as a council to identify NSPs, but it is also important that the community and visitors understand that these are places of last resort. They offer no guarantee of safety or survival, they are places of last resort where you might have a better chance of protection from radiant heat, when all else has failed.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, December 20, 2009

alex webb memorial track opens

Tuesday saw the official opening of the Alex Webb Fun and Fitness Park in Monbulk. Alex was tragically killed riding his BMX bike back in July 2008. Alex was a much loved member of the local community and a keen soccer player. Early this year I was humbled to be able to assist the family with a memorial garden and seat installation in Baynes Park Reserve, Alex’s favourite local soccer ground.

Today Alex’s parents, Leo and Karen thanked the community for their support, particularly Ray Yates, principal of Monbulk Primary School.

The Fun and Fitness Park consists of fitness equipment as well as a running trail, already popular with children attending the opening.

It is a fitting tribute to a boy who was full of fun, always fit and passionate about sport. I am sure it will be a much loved and well used community facility.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

children’s hub a reality

report from the roundtable – 8 dec

Tuesday night was a great victory for the community who have fought for many years to save Sherbrooke Children’s Centre, council’s long day care centre in Upwey.

Me outside Sherbrooke Children's Centre. The long day care centre is a much loved facility and well regarded in the local community, at last count there were 290 on the waiting list.

The planning permit for the Children’s Hub came before council for approval. The Children’s Hub came about as an idea from community to save the much loved Sherbrooke Children’s Centre. Back in 2003 the council of the day wanted to close the centre, a strong backlash by parents saw the closure stall and council agreed to keep the centre open till 2009.
The Children’s Hub was first conceptualised by parents campaigning to save the centre, the vision an integrated service which would include a number of services aimed at families. At the time I was one of those angry parents campaigning and the potential closure of the centre was the reason I first ran for council.

This newspaper article marked one year of campaigning by parents to save council run long day care in the Shire. The Save our Sherbrooke Children's Centre (SOSCC) marked the occasion with a birthday cake.
After much advocacy to my colleagues on behalf of children and families there was a recognition of the importance of the early years, integrated children’s services and the need for community based long day care in the Dandenong Ranges.

The Children’s Hub had an extensive consultative process which included the Upwey Pre School, neighbours of the site, community members, Sherbrooke Children’s Centre parents and staff, Maternal Child Health Services, Victoria Police, Childcare professionals, allied family services and early childhood development specialists.

Controversy reigned after the SOSCC were successful in getting Sherbrooke Children's Centre awarded our favourite place in the Year of the Built Environment.
A project steering group met every 3 weeks for approximately 18months to discuss the best outcomes for children. The group toured various long day care sites throughout Melbourne and incorporated the best attributes of those sites into the Children’s Hub.

The design of the building responds very well to the site and will mean that the construction can be staged so long day care can continue through the building process. It is an exciting design and will be a wonderful municipal building.

I’m pleased to say Council approved the permit meaning detailed design and contract tendering could proceed. It is a great outcome for children and their families. It will be a centre of excellence for early childhood development and one we can all be proud of.

It was a great moment for me with a real feeling of achievement, I have worked hard for many years to see this project come to fruition and have great satisfaction knowing that more children in our community will have the best start in life.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

new mural for belgrave

This week saw the unveiling of a new mural on the Telstra building in Belgrave. Created by local primary school children using the Belgrave Lantern Festival as their theme, the mural consisting of numerous panels, has brightened up a wall that was consistently targeted by taggers.

It is a wonderful addition to our town and I congratulate the Belgrave Trader’s Association for their efforts in seeing it come to fruition.

Labels: , ,

nsp’s under scrutiny at the royal commission

On Monday I was a witness at the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. I was there to give evidence about the process of designating Neighbourhood Safer Places in the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

I have followed the process of NSPs very closely and been directly involved with the development of the Neighbourhood Safer Places Plan and onsite inspections of potential NSPs.

I was pleased to be able to provide the Commissioners with a perspective as a local Dandenong Ranges resident as well as a shire councillor. I felt it was important for Commissioners to understand the on the ground workings and efforts being undertaken by the Shire of Yarra Ranges. I would be more than happy to speak to the commission again.

The Shire of Yarra Ranges is currently in the process of assessing additional sites to designate as NSPs and will hold a special meeting of council to discuss those sites on Tuesday 22nd Dec.

If you’re interested in reading what I said to the Commission click
here, my statement starts on page 114.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

peninsula link ploughs through the pines

I recently joined with concerned residents to walk through the Pines Flora and Fauna Reserve in Frankston. The Pines is one of the reserves impacted on by the construction of “Peninsula Link”.

To read on visit Samantha Dunn - Greens Candidate for Eastern Victoria.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I walked amongst many

Saturday saw 40,000 Melburnians come out to participate in Walk Against Warming, I was proud to walk with them. Clearly this is an issue that people want to see action on, with 90,000 people Australia wide participating in Walk Against Warming events.

This is the tail end of the march, people came from far and wide to Walk Against Warming.

Our leaders are currently failing us with no real transition plan for Australia and its community.

Healesville was well represented by HEWI and Understorey Editor, Keiran Martin.

Local secondary school, Sherbrooke Community School supported the walk. Here I am pictured with student Jordan Crooka and Teacher, Davey Heller.

Action on Climate Change is something I will continue to pursue through the Shire of Yarra Ranges. Our reversion back to coal fired electricity was a backwards step for our shire and it is important that our actions go beyond what we currently do. I will be advocating for greater action on climate change. We all have our role to play and so do all tiers of government.

Local Transition Towners from Sherbrooke were out in force.

Get Up are sending hundreds of photos to Copenhagen like this one to urge governments to come back home with a climate treaty. Linda Laos and I were pleased to assist.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

carols in belgrave

Friday night saw the annual Carols in the Park in Belgrave. Around 200 people came out to listen to local artists perform carols and original songs. Children were entertained by story telling and a rendition of the 12 days of Cricket (Christmas).

The arrival of Santa with his sack of lollies delighted the children.
Rotary did a roaring trade, cooking up sausages provided for via my ward fund. I was there with the Eastern Transport Coalition’s Monster Petition, where community members were keen to support public transport issues.

It was a terrific night, organised by BRAG and supported by many local traders throughout the township.

I spoke about the trying year Yarra Ranges has had with the Black Saturday bushfires, but how the community had rallied behind bushfire effected regions where I have seen recovery and rebuilding as well as regeneration. The generosity given to our communities after the Black Saturday tragedy is a real reflection of the Christmas spirit. With that I wished carol goers a merry Christmas and quiet new year to follow.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 11, 2009

royal commission, coming up 14th dec

On Monday I will speaking at the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission about the process around the establishment of Neighbourhood Safer Places in the Shire of Yarra Ranges and Township Protection Plans for the Dandenongs.

I look forward to speaking to the commission from the perspective of not only a Yarra Ranges councillor but as a resident of the Dandenong Ranges too.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

place of last resort – a better name for an unsafe place

report from the roundtable – 8 dec

At this week’s council meeting I moved the following motion:
"That council write to the Premier of Victoria, the Hon John Brumby MP, with a copy to local MPs, requesting that the name of Neighbourhood Safer Places be changed to Places of Last Resort."

I continue to be very concerned that many in our community consider Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSPs) to be a safe place. In conversation and bushfire community meetings it is clear to me that NSPs are being given far too much consideration as a place to go in the event of a bushfire in the Dandenongs. I have heard people refer to NSPs as "safe places", "safe havens" and "refuges", people are considering them as part of their fire plan.

The Multi Agency community bushfire briefing in Upwey last week.
I believe many of these perceptions occur because of the name of NSPs and that’s why I moved a motion to advocate to change the name so it is abundantly clear that these places are Places of Last Resort.

The message isn’t getting out there, the last place you want to be in the case of a fire is in a car trying to seek shelter at an NSP. The road is a scary place in a bushfire, smoky with decreased vision, noisy, windy, people panicking, it is not a place I’d want to be under those conditions.

It is my view that you are far safer in your home than on the road seeking some sort of shelter in an open field. The CFA’s message is clear, leave early, not only on catastrophic code red days but on all total fire ban days. Only those who are well prepared should stay and defend.

The focus on NSPs has diminished the CFA’s message of leave early with some in our community considering NSPs as their fall back position. The last place I’d want to be in the event of a bushfire is heading to an NSP. I do understand that we have many visitors to the hills and perhaps NSPs have a role to play for these people, but there needs to be a really strong message that these are Places of Last Resort.

An NSP does not guarantee safety, they do not cater for animals, there is no guarantee that emergency services will be there to protect you, they do not provide for specialist needs such as infants, the elderly, the ill or disabled and in the case of open spaces they do not provide shelter from ember attack.

We should be calling these places for what they are, there is nothing safe or safer about them, they are Places of Last Resort and there is no guarantee you will survive using one.
Councillors unanimously supported the motion for a name change to Places of Last Resort.

Labels: , , , ,

neighbourhood safer places, two designated

report from the roundtable – 8 dec

At this week’s council meeting we had to consider two sites identified as potential Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSPs) as well as the Neighbourhood Safer Places Plan (NSPP - see
blog for background).

Work on our NSPP has been extensive, with our Emergency and Safety Planning area working hard to ensure the plan reflects the Yarra Ranges context. Since my last blog entry much has happened to ensure Yarra Ranges is in a position to consider designation of NSPs. The officers have done a phenomenal amount of work to not only get a NSPP in place, but to create an audit and assessment tool, organise additional site assessments and report back the results to council from one council meeting to the next.

The NSPP will assist council to identify, designate, establish, maintain and decommission an NSP. I joined with Shire and Emergency Services personnel in the site assessments at both Morrison’s Reserve in Mt Evelyn and Monbulk Reserve.

Both these locations passed not only the first assessment by the CFA, which only concentrates only on radiant heat or distance from vegetation, but also ticked the box on rights of access, ownership, access and egress, availability 24/7, defendable space, ability to appropriately sign and separation of vehicles from the actual NSP area (for example: the footy oval’s boundary fence).

At the meeting Council endorsed the two places, Morrison’s Reserve in Mt Evelyn and the Monbulk Reserve (footy ground) to become designated NSPs.
In speaking for the motion I pointed out to councillors that Yarra Ranges were the second council only to consider designating NSPs, an outstanding effort. I also talked about the community expectation around NSPs being available this summer. I reminded councillors that the legislation was very specific and councils must use their ‘best endeavours’ to identify and designate NSPs.

I talked about signage issues, at the time of the council meeting (and writing this blog entry) guidelines on NSP signage are still not available via the OESC. I also raised the issue of insurance gaps that still exist relating to potential NSPs not on council land.

Most importantly I spoke about the ongoing commitment for council to continue assessing potential sites as NSPs for the upcoming fire season.

I’m pleased to report that council resolved to designate the two NSPs and endorsed the NSPP as well. Council also resolved to seek urgent resolution of the outstanding insurance issues by writing to the MAV.

It is a good start in providing a place of last resort for community members. I still have grave concerns about the perception of NSPs, but you can read more about that in this blog entry.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

a monster of a time

It has been a great time touring through the shire with the Eastern Transport Coalition’s Monster Petition.
I have been to many corners of the shire, talking to hundreds of residents bemoaning the state of public transport services in Yarra Ranges.

On Friday (11 Dec) I’ll be in main street, Belgrave with the petition and will also take the petition along to Carol’s by Candlelight in the Belgrave Town Park that night. The Monster Petition finishes its tour of Yarra Ranges with a two day visit to Chirnside Park Shopping Centre.

If you’d like your name to count be sure to look out for the petition at the above locations.

29 November - Anne Marie from the Warratina Lavender Farm was very supportive of the Monster Petition.

29 November - The Red Hat Society were keen to support improved public transport in the East.

30 November - Cr Tim Heenan, ward councillor for Billanook, was keen to support the petition in Mt Evelyn.
2 December - Cr Terry Avery, ward councillor for Melba, helped out with the petition in Mooroolbark.
4 December - Local journalists from the Mail Newspaper, Casey Neill and Tania Martin, were happy to support the push for better rail services in the east.
5 December - Local Lyster resident Paul was keen to sign the petition when it visited Kallista Market.
10 December - Libraries across Yarra Ranges hosted the petition, here it is at Belgrave Library.

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 07, 2009

come a’carolling in belgrave

Carols in Belgrave is on Friday 11th December in the Belgrave Town Park.

From left to right: Liz Beaton - Brag, me, Ian Warburton - Brag, Stax the Didgeman and Rochelle Dennis - Circusfolk at the Belgrave Town Park where the Carols will be held.

A joint venture between the Shire of Yarra Ranges Youth Services, Hilltop Sounds and BRAG this year’s carols will include performances by St Thomas More’s Primary School choir as well as the Mater Christi College Choir.

The night starts at 5:30 and will go through till 9pm. Organisers encourage residents to bring along their winter solstice lanterns and redecorate them for Christmas. Rotary will provide a free sausage sizzle (vegie burgers too) and Stax the Didgeman will also be performing.

I’ll be there with the ETC’s public transport
Monster Petition on it’s final leg of its tour of the Yarra Ranges.

It will be a great night for the family, I encourage you to come along.

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 03, 2009

marysville and triangle celebration day - 12 dec


eXTReMe Tracker