Wednesday, February 29, 2012

samantha in the press - planning

Yarra Ranges urges planning scheme rethink
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
29 Feb 2012

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samantha in the press - vlga

Cash surges for Wyndam's pokies
Leader Newspapers
by James Twining
29 Feb 2012

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Monday, February 27, 2012

three one six oh!

Oh what a great night the Three One Six Oh! Film Festival was.

Participants enjoyed a great selection of short films in the Cameo Outdoor Cinema on a very balmy summer evening.

Organisers had a tough time deciding on the final films for selection, this year's short film competition was inundated with entries from young filmmakers from across Victoria.

It was up to the audience on the night to vote for their favourite film. I was pleased to sponsor their prize.

The competition was stiff, but it was terrific to learn that a film called Spit was the winner.

I had the great pleasure of presenting first prize to Director, David and Producer Brian Oakley.

Spit is a documentary about making it in the music business while discovering new ways to contribute to society. Quirky and poignant, the story begins by exploring the exploits of a Christian Rapper who falls into employment as a carer for someone with Cerebral Palsy. It was a very worthy winner.

My congrats to Pocket Bonfire who organised the film festival, it was a great arts event in the Hills and sponsored by a Yarra Ranges Festivals and Events grant.

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samantha in the press - vlga

Push for action on pokie bets
Leader Newspapers
by James Twining
27 Feb 2012

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

belgrave bursting with buskers

Belgrave was filled with music on Saturday for the inaugural Belgrave Buskers Festival.

Organised by the Belgrave Traders Association, it was a great opportunity for local artists to hit the streets and perform to passers by as well as onlookers.

Competition was fierce with over 30 entries vying for cash prizes. Performances were split into three categories, Groups, Duos and Solo performances. Buskers performed throughout the town in four different sites.

The festival was a great celebration of local live music in the hills, it was great to see local community radio station, 3MDR broadcast live from downtown Belgrave.

I had the great pleasure of being one of the judges, my category Solo Performances, I was lucky to be helped by co-judges Dave Goonan (3MDR), Jenny Biddle (Busker of the Year) and Kieran Dennis(Burrinja).

There was enormous diversity in the acts making it a hard task to pick winners, but after much conversation and evaluation by the judges, a list of winners was announced for the day.

Here's first place Solo performer winner, Bryce Turcato with me and my fellow judge Dave Goonan. Bryce gave an amazing performance using a loop pedal, bass guitar and french horn he played some great tunes and it was his first public performance ever, he's got a great future!
In first place:
Group: Folk Train
Duo: Le Toot
Solo: Bryce Turcato

In second place:
Group: Fat Chance
Duo: Sista Suite
Solo: Sally Carter

In third place:
Group: Chestnut Street Orchestra
Duo: Jen & Hen
Solo: Ziggy Pop
My congratulations to organisers, I look forward to the Belgrave Buskers Festival become an annual event in the Hills calendar.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

sherbrooke forest fun at lillydale lake

I had a terrific day with the Sherbrooke Forest District Scouts Founders Day at Lillydale Lake. An annual event, it gives young people from the hills the opportunity to experience a range of water events.

I had a great time exploring Lillydale Lake and the Olinda Creek with help from Phil, Leader with the Monbulk Group.

Particpants were treated to a range of activities including the water cannon, canoeing, balancing on the inflatable pier. The day included the rafting competition, fondly named "Slaughter on the Water".

Part of my official duties including handing out certificates of service to Leaders. It's terrific to be able to acknowledge the help of these committed volunteers.

Once again it was a great day out, the Sherbrooke Forest District has 11 scout groups and their participation rate across the hills is growing. I'm always impressed by their dedication to young people, providing them with opportunities to experience many things whilst building their life skills.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

samantha in the press - public transport

109 at end of Box Hill line
Leader Newspapers
by Angus Livingston
21 Feb 2012

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samantha in the press - weeds

Declaring war on Dandenongs bully plant
Leader Newspapers
by Laura Armitage
21 Feb 2012

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samantha in the press - planning

Monbulk Soccer Centre furore
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
21 Feb 2012

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Monday, February 20, 2012

showcasing vce arts

I had the great pleasure of officially opening the 2012 VCE Creative Showcase exhibition last week at Burrinja.

Bonnie, student from Monbulk Secondary College, is one of the artists on display, Bonnie has also been selected to exhibit at the VCE Top Arts at the National Gallery.

On exhibition in the Jarmbi Gallery through to 11th March, the VCE Creative Showcase was established to exhibit and celebrate outstanding work from top graduating visual art students across Yarra Ranges.

In it's fifth year, it's an exhibition that never fails to be a challenging and rewarding arts experience. I'm always impressed by the works of our young artists, it's good news for an ongoing creative future in The Dandenongs, a place that's inspired artists for decades (if not centuries!).

This year's VCE Creative Showcase featured 28 student artists across 8 local schools, well up from the 15 students featured in 2011.

The works on display are from students of local schools including Belgrave Heights Christian College, Emerald Secondary College, Mater Christi College, Monbulk College, Mountain District Christian School, Sherbrooke Community School, St Josephs College and Upwey High School.

The exhibition runs from 16 Feb to 11 Mar, in the Jarmbi Gallery (Burrinja).
Hours: Tues - Sun, 10:30am to 4:00pm
Address: At the corner of Glenfern Rd and Matson Dv, Upwey.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

samantha in the press - planning

Plenty of backers not for Maccas
Leader Newspapers
by Laura Armitage
17 Feb 2012

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selbyfest 2012, coming soon

Selbyfest 2012 is coming soon.

The planning committee has been busily working on a jam packed progam for Selbyfest 2012.

Selbyfest kicks off at 7pm on Friday 16th March at the Selby Art Show at the gorgeous Carlotta Tye Memorial Church in Selby.

Saturday, 17th March, sees Selbyfest go green for St Patrick's Day. The festival runs from 11am to 8:30pm.

Organisers have planned a great day with music, healing, art, environment, food, fashion, fun, artspace, market stalls, creativity village workshops, wandering minstrels, youth circus, sustainability stalls, great live music, fair trade products, Kululu's ukuleles, demonstrations, rocket launches, hills fashion parade, the amphitheatre stage, therapies and healing space, face painting, teepee seminars and workshops, comfy cafe, yummy nutritious meals, song writing competition, Selby House Course taster workshops, sing for fun - there is definitely something for everyone.

Parking is limited so catch a ride on the shuttle bus at from Belgrave or Menzies Creek Station, or walk or cycle. Local community radio station, 3MDR will be doing a live to air broadcast.

If you'd like to volunteer or have a stall at Selbyfest call 9754 2039. Want to know more, visit the website or find Selbyfest 2012 on facebook.

It's a great day out for one and all. I look forward to seeing you there.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

off with their heads

Yes, it's that time of year again. Time to get out the secateurs and get to the agapanthus.

Ranked the 5th worst weed in Yarra Ranges due to it's spread, it is prolific in the Dandenong Ranges and is currently setting seed after summer flowering.

Agapathus out compete the native groundcovers and grasses and harbour slugs and snails. You can help control their spread by giving them a good beheading now.

If you'd like to find out more about this pesky environmental weed, click here for the Yarra Ranges fact sheet.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

buskers coming to belgrave - 25 feb

What better way to spend the last weekend of summer than enjoying the Belgrave Buskers Festival.

An initiative by the Belgrave Trader's Association, the festival will fill the streets with entertainment.

When: Saturday 25 Feb 11am to 4pm
Where: Belgrave main street (Burwood Hwy) - high side, Commonwealth Bank for bands and Duncans for solos

I'm delighted to join 3MDR's Dave Goonan, Oscar's Gypsy Merritt and Guitar Guru's Guy Mallaby as judges on the day.

If you'd like to enter contact the Belgrave Traders on 9754 1027 or, entry forms online here.

It's going to be a great way to celebrate everything local, I look foward to seeing you there.

(and don't forget you can keep enjoying everything Belgrave has to offer by going to the three-one-six-oh! film festival that night at the Cameo Outdoor Cinema)

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interacting with the interface

report from the roundtable - 14 Feb

I was delighted to be endorsed as Council's representative on the Interface Councils Group for 2012, in a unanimous vote of council.

It's an important role for council, the Interface Councils Group has a strong voice, is well respected by government and advocates on issues important to the group of interface councils.

The interface councils group is an advocacy group of comprised of Cardinia, Casey, Hume, Melton, Mitchell, Mornington Peninsula, Nillumbik, Whittlesea, Wyndham and Yarra Ranges.

They are the group of municipalities that skirt Melbourne and are the link between the suburbs and rural parts of Victoria. Diverse in nature, some municipalities contain vast tracts of Green Wedge land whilst others are Melbourne's growth corridors.

We share common challenges amongst us, lack of infrastructure, services and public transport to name a few. The Interface Councils Group is very active in advocating to both State and Federal government.

I'm very pleased to be reappointed for a second year to represent Yarra Ranges Council.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

sorry day anniversary

Today is the fourth anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. It is important to remember these landmark occasions, I remember the National Apology well, celebrating with my colleague Cr Jeanette McRae and community members at the live broadcast at Swinburne University, Lilydale campus.

It is important at this time to turn our minds to the discussion around the Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians. Recognition has bi-partisan support and the Federal Government has committed to referendum, however given the past success rates of referenda in this country it will be difficult to achieve.

I can only hope for a simple straightforward question that people will easily support matched with wide consultation and a well resourced education campaign.

I intend to move a motion that the Yarra Ranges Council supports Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and have referred it to our Indigenous Advisory Committee for their comment.

The time is right for our society to support Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and bring our country into line with other nations which have long recognised their traditional owners.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

my environment -v- vicforests, week one

I've been watching the progress of the MyEnvironment -v- VicForests at the Melbourne Supreme Court with great interest.

The case is testing whether logging operations of VicForests are in compliance with state laws, focussing on three logging coupes in the Toolangi State Forest (Freddo, Gunbarrel and South Col).

Day one and two saw opening statements from both MyEnvironment and VicForests.

Day three saw Justice Robert Osborn and the legal teams visit the coupes in question out in the Toolangi State Forest.

Day four and five saw Prof David Lindenmayer, eminent expert on Leadbeater's Possum take the stand.

After the 2009 bushfires and decades of industrial logging, the unburnt remnant Ash forests now contain the last viable population of the endangered Leadbeater's Possum, along with a large host of other threatened flora and fauna. In his evidence Prof Lindenmayer stated that only 1.16% of the forest remains unburnt or unlogged, there's not much that hasn't been effected by disturbance.

During his cross examination Prof Lindenmayer continued to state the importance of tree hollows in which Leadbeater's Possum spend 75% of their time. His cross examination finished with confirmation that in assessing the Toolangi coupes considerations had been based on hollow bearing trees, occurence of Leadbeater's Possum, added risk of extinction if the coupes were logged, the presence of "Zone 1A" habitat and the impacts of coupe edge effects on the persistence of animals.

VicForests did not make any challenge to the veracity of the underlying data contained in Prof Lindenmayer's report. This week in court it's expected that arguments about the economic impact of logging will be explored.

If you'd like to read more about the case, transcripts are available on the MyEnvironment website, here.

Late last year FSC certification was removed from products coming from these forests because VicForests failed to demonstrate compliance with the principles of biodiversity management.

The primary recipient of wood from the Central Highlands is Nippon Paper Ltd. According to the 2010 URS Treasury Report, Nippon does not pay full costs of production so tax payers are subsidising the wood stream.

Victoria has legislated to guarantee wood to Nippon so the State Government, in a bid to access new resources, are now planning to log parks, water catchments and special protection zones to fulfill the contract.

VicForests argue that they should be allowed to log habitat to keep the industry alive. Whilst resource mapping shows that little forest is left outside special protection zones and buffer strips containing endangered species. The current State Government is proposing 20 year contracts to guarantee industry stability.

I've been in these forests many times, they are magnificent, teeming with life, the most biodiverse of any forest in the country. Far too precious to lose to woodchips for paper production.

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fire management plan out for comment

I'm one of the councillor representatives on the Yarra Ranges Municipal Fire Management Planning Committee. The committee is charged with the responsibility of improving fire management planning and integration of plans across the relevant agencies.

At the most recent meeting we discussed the draft Yarra Ranges Municipal Fire Management Plan 2012 - 2014. The plan is currently out for public comment.

If you'd like to find out more you can find a copy of the plan here. The plan reflects the shared responsibilities that government, fire agencies and communities have.

Closing date for submissions is 28 February, 2012.

Once the document has been finalised it will be presented to the Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee (I'm also a councillor representative on this committee) for endorsement. The plan will then be endorsed by Committee Agencies and it is planned that the final plan will go to council for approval in July 2012.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

limerence announces 2012 th'ink tank project

It's great to learn that Brent and CJ from Limerence (in Belgrave) are running their second Th'INK Tank Project.

The Th'INK Tank Project is a community based t-shirt design competition that centres itself around local artist exposure and promotion while also providing the winning artists with display space with some unique, limited edition pieces of clothing.

This year's theme is FORESTS. Entries close 2 March. The two winning designs will be printed on a series of limited edition, organic cotton t-shirts exclusively available through Limerence, each labelled with the artist's name. Entries are limited to 'hills folk' - you know who you are.

If you want to know more, check the event page on facebook.

Last year's Th'INK Tank was a great project and not only provided some very exclusive and funky clothing but gave winning artist Nina Maskiell an alternative venue to display and sell her work. It's terrific to see business support local artists and locals support this terrific boutique business in Belgrave.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

samantha, vlga - pokies and politics

Politics and Pokies a bad mix for problem gamblers

VLGA Media Release

A peak body of local governments, community organisations and individual members concerned with the impacts of problem gambling on hundreds and thousands of Australians has called for the removal of politics from the cost of precommitment technology for pokies.

"The Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) has supported the Productivity Commission's recommendations on mandatory precommitment and is disappointed that neither the Federal not State Governments have taken the steps we would have like to have seen," VLGA President Cr Samantha Dunn said.

Responding to the recent news that the State Government will delay the implementation of voluntary precommitment on pokies in Victoria, Cr Dunn confirmed that she will be writing to the Premier and Gaming Minister.

"We'd like to test their view that introducing precommitment technology in Victoria has to be extended to 2016 due to its cost prohibitive nature. We'd like to know on what costing advice the government has made this call, especially given the Federal Minister's claim that their plans are no threat to the State Government delivering on their election commitment."

If you'd like to read the full release click here.

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know your bushfire risk

I recently attended my local CFA community meeting on bushfire awareness.

It was terrific to see a number of locals there, both newcomers to the area and people who've lived in the area a long time. It was heartening to learn that this session was one of the best attended.

A straw poll on the night revealed around half the attendees had a written bushfire plan and the CFA put forward a detailed case as to why every household should have a written bushfire plan.

It's important to be prepared, the CFA has a wealth of online information here, you can also click here to find a local CFA meeting in your area.

I was pleased to be able to launch the Shire's Are You Fire Ready? Family Bushfire Relocation Card as part of council's efforts to ensure community bushfire preparedness.

Here I am pictured with two of our Family Day Care providers, this useful guide will be distributed throughout shire services including Long Day Care and Family Day Care.

The z-card is credit card sized fold out information sheet and contains practical tips to make bushfire planning easier and has some great ideas for places to go when you need to relocate with your family.

It also includes a handy checklist for bushfire survival to jog your memory about the sorts of things you need to consider if you live in a high fire danger area.

Due to its design it fits easily into a purse of wallet and is there when you need it most.

If you'd like a card, they are available at all Shire Community Links, the local ones near Lyster Ward being Upwey and Monbulk, the cards are also available at our libraries.

If you'd like advice on retrofitting your home so it's better protected from bushfire the Building Commission has produced this handy guide.

If you'd like a free CFA site assessment so you're better prepared and understand your bushfire risk you can book online, call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667 or email Nic Rodway on (for Eastern Metropolitan Region).

There's a whole lot of information out there, so don't delay, be prepared and know your bushfire risk.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

reflecting and remembering

The 7th February, 2012, three years after the tragedy that was Black Saturday, is a day of reflection and a day of remembrance. I will be taking some time today to remember those events of three years ago with the communities of Healesville and Yarra Glen.

Thoughts turn to the tragic loss of life, the loss of people's homes, the ongoing impact on people's lives and the extensive loss of wildlife and habitat.

I will never forget the tireless efforts of the Emergency Services and Community volunteers and the incredible generosity from people near and far as they responded to the disaster unfolding in 2009. A generosity of spirit we still see today as floods devastate both Queensland and New South Wales.

Three years on, we continue to see recovery, rebuilding and regeneration. People continuing their journey to get their lives back on track and the bush continuing with its regeneration.

It will take a long time to recover from such a tragic natural disaster, Black Saturday has affected people in many ways. With understanding and care people are rebuilding their lives, overcoming trauma and learning to live with the memories.

On this third anniversary of Black Saturday, my thanks again to all the volunteers who assisted and continue to assist our community in bushfire affected regions and my heartfelt and sincere well wishes to all those people who lost loved ones in the fire, this day will be difficult for you but know that our thoughts are with you.

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Monday, February 06, 2012

day one, saving sylvia creek

Today saw the commencement of a landmark court case for the environment and our endangered faunal emblem, the Leadbeater's Possum, in the trial for MyEnvironment Inc -v- VicForests.

Pictured here: Sarah Rees, Director of MyEnvironment and myself a the Supreme Court.

I, along with many others, went to the Supreme Court to watch proceedings on day one. I was joined by many locals and keen environmentalists. Court room 6 was so full that it was standing room only until Justice Osborn kindly ordered more chairs so everyone could sit down.

The legal team for MyEnvironment put forward a compelling outline of their case, citing numerous breaches of the legislative frameworks that are in place to protect endangered species.

To read more on the background on the logging issue in Toolangi visit my blog (17 July 2011) and here (28 Aug 2011).

Tomorrow will see VicForests put forward an outline of their case. Wednesday will see a site visit to the Toolangi State Forest by Justice Osborn. Thursday expert witnesses will be called for MyEnvironment, with continuation of the case on Friday.

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

helmeted honeyeaters - investigating now!

It's terrific that the Victorian Environment Assessment Council have been directed to investigate the future of public land near the Yellingbo Conservation Reserve.

Here I am pictured with Jeff Latter, part of a consortia of local groups keen to see public land linked up and protected to provide additional habitat links for Victoria's bird emblem, the Helmeted Honeyeater.

The investigation is the result of many years of lobbying by local environment groups, including Jeff and the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeaters.

Conservation of the area is vital to provide the essential habitat these endangered birds need to survive.

It's really important that VEAC hear your views. Submissions close on the 20 February and you can find out more at the VEAC website.

We feel particularly privileged in Yarra Ranges, home to three of Victoria's four state emblems, all endangered, all threatened. It's important we protect their habitat.

VEAC is an independant statutory authority that conducts investigations and provides advice to the State Government on the protection and ecologically sustainable management of the environment and natural resources of public land.

Don't delay, tell VEAC how important it is to you that the Yellingbo investigation area is critical to the ongoing survival of our bird emblem, the Helmeted Honeyeater.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

samantha in the press - weeds

State gets tough on weeds in the Dandenong Ranges
Leader Newspapers
by Emily Webb
1 Feb 2012

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three-one-six-oh! onsale

It is terrific to see tickets on sale for the Three One Six Oh! Film Festival.

In it's seventh year, featuring short films and videos from Melbourne and surrounds, this year's program is going to be great. The festival will be held Saturday 25th February, films start at dusk, but there's plenty of entertainment before hand.

I have supported this short film festival since it's inception and this year I'm proud to be able to support the event with a donation of $500 to be awarded to best film, as voted by the audience. The festival is also supported with an Events Grant from the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

It's a great night out, at the outdoor cinema at Belgrave's very own Cameo Cinema.

This year's event will be a real treat, with the tunnel entrance to the outdoor cinema converted to Tunnel Vision, an underground arts space, featuring contemporary still and motion works from around the state.

You can come early and picnic, listening to the fine sounds of local muso, Great Earthquake as well as Elk & Whale and Siblings.

To buy your tickets click here. I look forward to seeing you on the night.

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