Thursday, November 29, 2012

samantha in the press

Fear of Rowville link derailment
Leader Newspapers
27 November 2012

Fears that rail project will be shunted
Knox Weekly
by Tara McGrath and Daniel Tran
28 November 2012

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

fire readiness kicks off

The Yarra Ranges Annual Fire Readiness Program details Council's range of activities to mitigate the risk of bushfire on private property and land under its management. These activities include:
  • Roadside slashing
  • Fire Hazard Inspections – Private property
  • Bushland Reserve fire management
  • Fire Access Road maintenance
  • Water Tank installation and Maintenance.
The Program is reviewed and updated annually with new initiatives and changes included. This year's program is allocated $1.5million.

This year Council's Action Plan for preparedness for the coming fire season includes:

  • Community Education
  • Updating Emergency Management and Fire Readiness Plans
  • Install and maintaining new emergency vehicle access tracks and water tanks for the CFA
  • Working with the CFA to identify Neighbourhood Safer Places
  • Working directly with the State Government on the Refuge (Shelter) Policy
  • Additional staff to act as municipal fire prevention officers to inspect properties
  • Promoting greater fire awareness
It's important to commence your fire preparedness if you live in a fire prone area. If you'd like to know more you can check out the Shire's Getting Fire Ready page or the CFA website.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

carols in belgrave

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

belgrave alive at the end of the line

Congratulations to organisers of the End of the Line Festival. Belgrave was jam packed with artists, events and all sorts of creative happenings as part of the festival.
CJ Baxter, Cr Samantha Dunn and Brent Dakis.
I was pleased to be able to provide funding from
my community ward fund to the EOTL festival.
Thousands flocked to Belgrave for a great event.
CJ Baxter and Brent Dakis of Limerence and Josh Collings, local artist, the driving force behind the End of the Line Festival, put together the most amazing program of events and the town was pumping from 10am till late into the night.
The Cameo Outdoor Cinema proved to be a very
popular live music space for the festival.
The festival featured over 40 musicians, had 18 different performance and exhibition spaces, some in places you might not ordinarily visit in Belgrave.

This mural, created by Glenn Scolyer, was painted 
whilst the festival was underway - it looks great!
The festival was a fantastic celebration of all things creative in the hills. People flocked to enjoy the everything that Belgrave and our artistic community has to offer. It was a great example of traders, community and local government working together.
Myself, Tiffaney Bishop and some of the collective
artists at Belgrave's newest public art space.
It was great to be part of it and officially launch the Belgrave Bins project. For a very long time I've been keen to see the wheelie bins that line Blacksmith's Way turned into a feature, rather than the eyesore they've been for many years. With the assistance of the Tiffaney Bishop Collective, a collective of young artists who operate out of Belgrave, the bins now feature works which will change over time so there's always some new and interesting public art to see.

It's Belgrave's newest public art space and I'm very thankful to Tiffaney Bishop, the collective of artists, the Belgrave traders and our Manager of Waste, who have all been very supportive of the project. The bins look great and are well worth a visit.
A myriad of events continued into the evening and the town was bustling with activity, it was terrific and I thank CJ, Brent and all the volunteers and businesses who supported them and the End of the Line festival. The bar's been set high for next year's festival, I can't wait!

This sand sculpture was created by Kallista local, Natasha.
The kids played in the sand whilst Natasha set about
creating this sculpture during the festival. At the same time
the Selby First Scouts did a roaring trade on the
sausage sizzle.
This space at the rear of India Gate was transformed
into street art and dance party.

Artist Glenn Scolyer donated his time to create this
fantastic mural on the Safeway wall, one of the gateways
to Belgrave.
Even Belgrave's Cherry Trees were
part of the festival action, this one
sporting some yarn bombing.

Me and Glenn Scolyer, Glenn's done a lot of work
with murals across the Shire, but this is his first
local piece and it looks great.

Night time saw this spoken word venue created
downstairs at Chocolate Sensation. Isha Molloy
captivating the audience with her pieces.

Belgrave's live music venues were part of EOTL too.
Local artist Ben Kelly played Oscar's Alehouse, Steve
Davies joined in with drums and digeridoo. It was a
great way to finish a big day in Belgrave.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

rowville rail report - where is it?


The final report of the Rowville Rail feasibility study, nearly six month overdue, needs to be released by the State Government, the Eastern Transport Coalition said today.

ETC Chairperson, Cr Samantha Dunn said the final report for phase 1 of the study was due to be released mid-2012. Phase 2 of the study was to begin in mid-2012 and be completed by mid-2013.

“The Transport Minister still hasn’t released the final report for stage 1 and there isn’t even a commitment of funds to undertake phase 2,” Cr Dunn said.

Phase 1 of the study investigated the feasibility of a 12 kilometre rail line between Huntingdale Railway Station and Rowville that would serve residents in the eastern suburbs and the large number of students attending Monash University.

It looked at engineering, architectural and operational options and included extensive public consultation.

A draft report of the study’s results, released by the government in March this year, showed that a Rowville rail service would be well-used with an estimated 68,000 passengers per day.

“That would remove the equivalent of one lane of traffic from the Monash Freeway,” Cr Dunn said.

“For the first time in four decades, tens of thousands of people living in the eastern part of Melbourne have had a glimpse of hope that there might be an alternative to free them from the traffic snarls along Wellington Rd, the Monash Freeway and Eastern Freeway,’’ she said.

“It would be a savage blow if the government didn’t commit to completing the study and set firm timelines for building the project.

“Delaying the project decade after decade only exacerbates costs, road congestion and leaves the door open for further complications with land use.”
Cr Dunn also welcomed the RACV’s Growing Pains report, which identified 159 critical projects across Melbourne and Geelong that need to be undertaken urgently to improve transport.

“The ETC supports the RACV’s position that a better approach to funding is needed and seeks a commitment from government that it will addressing the backlog of public transport projects around Melbourne, Rowville Rail included,” she said.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

you can help shape the plan - your plan!

Play your part in shaping council's plans for the future
Yarra Ranges Council is currently collecting ideas from the community to help shape our key plans, the Council Plan (2013-2017) and Budget (2013-2014).

The Council Plan and Budget determine the focus of Council's work over the coming four years. It is used to plan for our services, identify specific projects and budget allocations.

It is important that this plan reflects the needs and views of our community. We are asking for your help to complete a short survey. Alternatively, you can express your views using the online discussion.

It's really important we hear from you, this is your chance to input to an important community planning process. A hard copy of the survey has gone out with our quarterly mag, Shirewide, alternatively you can complete the online survey or join the online discussion.

The ideas gathered will be used to develop the Council Plan in the first half of 2013.

Like all surveys there is a deadline, be sure to get your response in by Friday 14 December 2012.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

threatened species in the senate spotlight

Let's not remember
our species as stuffed
animals like this
threatened species, the
Leadbeater's Possum.
Recently Senator Larissa Waters successfully committed the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications to conduct an inquiry into the effectiveness of threatened species and ecological communities' protection in Australia.

The investigation will cover:

(a) management of key threats to listed species and ecological communities;
(b) development and implementation of recovery plans;
(c) management of critical habitat across all land tenures;
(d) regulatory and funding arrangements at all levels of government;
(e) timeliness and risk management within the listings processes;
(f) the historical record of state and territory governments on these matters; and
(g) any other related matter.

The investigation is timely, we've seen the Auditor General report that Victoria's environment and primary industry departments are failing to act as proper watchdogs (see The Age story here).

Further to that we've seen Professor Tim Flannery publish his opinion piece (from the Monthly's Quarterly Essay) on the extinction crisis pointing some of the blame at the Commonwealth's inaction (here). 

The rate of extinctions in this country is alarming, if you are concerned then you should write a submission to the  Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications. You can help create a policy that starts to protect our species, but to do so means you are going to have to make a submission.

MyEnvironment are planning Senate Inquiry Information Sessions across the region, visit their website for more information with the first one coming up in Healesville on Friday night (23/11). 

Want to know more? Then visit the Inquiry site.

The effectiveness of threatened species and ecological communities' protection in Australia
  1. Information about the Inquiry
  2. Terms of Reference
  3. Getting involved in Committee inquiries
  4. Upload Submission Online
  5. Submissions Received
Submissions should be received by 14 December 2012. The reporting date is 07 February 2013.
The Committee is seeking written submissions from interested individuals and organisations preferably in electronic form submitted online or sent by email to as an attached Adobe PDF or MS Word format document. The email must include full postal address and contact details.
Alternatively, written submissions may be sent to:

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

samantha in the press

Fears over Rowville rail project
Leader Newspapers
by Tim Michell
20 November 2012

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our disappearing wildlife, info session at healesville

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belgrave becomes festival town

There's some terrific festivals coming up in Belgrave and surrounds in the next couple of weeks. This Saturday, 24 Nov - 10am to 10pm, Belgrave comes alive with the End of the Line Festival. There's a huge program available at the festival website, be sure to study up, there's so much going on in a lot of interesting spaces. It's been terrific to be able to support the festival with a grant from my community ward fund.

Don't forget to head down to Blacksmith's Way near the station entrance to see the launch of one of the more innovative art projects, something I've been working on with Tiffaney Bishop and her collective of young artists. Be there at 4pm and you'll find out more....

The following week on Saturday 1 December - starting 4pm at the Cameo Outdoor Cinema, Belgrave, will be the Three One Six Oh! Film Festival. A short film competition for young filmmakers. I'm proud to be able to support the best film award with a grant from my community ward fund.

The afternoon starts with live music at 4, a pop up art exhibition space in 'the tunnel' , then at dusk the movies start (for a full program click here). Best Film Award presentations will be at Earthly Pleasures across the road from the Cameo. What a great way to spend the first day of summer.

Next day, Sunday 2 December, sees the first ever Victorian closed road longboard /
slalom race. The event is a colloboration of Yarra Ranges Council Youth Services, ASRA and Team Melburn. It's an all ages, family friendly drug and alcohol free event.

Who'd live anywhere else, there's plenty to do on the mountain!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

monbulk soccer gets zoning go ahead

report from the roundtable - 13 nov
This week's council meeting saw council deliberate on whether council would ask the Minister for Planning for approval to rezone the land mooted for the Monbulk Soccer Facility. It was terrific to see the Monbulk Rangers Soccer Club in the gallery with over 80 people in attendance.

I was pleased to be able to second the motion. In speaking to it I said that this rezoning in particular was about balancing the policy objectives and there was no doubt that this was challenging due to the fact this was agricultural land in the centre of our floriculture industry.

I outlined the exponential growth in soccer, 40 plus teams and 600 plus members, our current grounds simply cannot cope with the popularity of the sport which is currently outstripping Aussie Rules in terms of parents encouraging children to take up the sport.

I talked about the lack of change facilities, particularly for women and girls and how inadequate and inappropriate that was in 2012. I went on to talk about the lack of flat land in the Dandenongs and that this site was a good compromise due to it's proximity and lesser slope than land right in the midst of the Dandenongs.

The rezoning is consistent with our Regional Strategy Plan (RSP), with the planning panel finding that the rezoning is consistent with the public land policies of the RSP which could be applied in this case.

There is clearly strategic justification for the project and the planning panels additional recommendations had strengthened the project and addressed objectors concerns with additional controls covering off on design, amenity and vegetation management and landscaping.

It must be remembered that the planning panel are independent ofcouncil, the whole point of the panel is to give independent assessment of the amendment taking into account issues raised by submitters.

In a surprise move, Cr McAllister moved an amendment to the motion to defer the motion pending a report on the scope and cost estimate of the project. In speaking to her amendment Cr McAllister talked about duty, due diligence and use of community funds.

I couldn't support the amendment. This motion was quite clearly about a planning process, not a budget process. I urged councillors to not support the amendment motion, to do so would unnecessarily delay a key part of this process, to see the land rezoned to a Public Park Recreation Zone and provide council with the opportunity to gain external funding. The motion on the table was very clear, it was about asking the Planning Minister to approve the rezoning, it was not about Yarra Ranges budget process, which would come and be the appropriate place to raise budget issues

I'm pleased the amendment to the motion was not supported with only Cr's McAllister and Witlox supporting the amending motion.

The original motion was put and received majority support of council. It's a great day for soccer across the Dandenongs.

Those in favour:
Cr's Dunn, Callanan, Avery, Cox, Cliff, Witlox, McCarthy and Child.

Those against:
Cr McAllister

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appeal attempt fails

report from the roundtable - 13 nov

At this week's meeting I once again raised the issue of a Supreme Court appeal in relation to the VCAT decision on the Tecoma McDonalds application, it was in response to countless community requests for the new council to consider the matter. 

On the night around 50 community members attended the meeting.

The motion: 

That council:
1.    Seek leave to lodge a Supreme Court appeal out of time to enable a challenge of the VCAT decision in relation to P3933/2011 McDonalds v Yarra Ranges Shire Council and others.
2.    If successful, lodge a Supreme Court appeal to challenge the VCAT decision in relation to P3933/2011 McDonalds v Yarra Ranges Shire Council and others.

First I had to seek leave of council to hear the motion, which I'm pleased to say they did, as at the very least it would give the community some certainty and not string the issue out any longer than needed.

I argued my case, along similar grounds to what I had with the previous council at our meeting on 23 October (see blog).

This council looked upon the motion less favourably than the last, with the vote 2 in favour (Cr's Dunn & Cliff) and 7 against (Cr's Child, Cox, Avery, McAllister, Witlox, Callanan & McCarthy).

I have become concerned about the the divisive nature of community sentiment around this issue. I would ask everyone to maintain peaceful protest and respectful dialogue. It is concerning to speak to people being afraid to speak their minds for fear of being derided in public. This is not what the Dandenong Ranges community is about. Everyone has different views, some are vehemently opposed, some pro the development, others not fussed one way or the other, what's important to remember is we are all entitled to our views no matter what they are.

Even more important we need to respect each other's views regardless of what they are. I would ask that no matter what your view, be respectful, our strength as a community is in our unity not in our division. 

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

samantha in the press

Anti Maccas protestors vow to fight on in Tecoma
Leader Newspapers
by Emily Webb
14 November 2012

Tecoma McDonalds: council meeting hijacked
Yarra Ranges Weekly
by Patrick Hutchens
14 November 2012

RACV says how to fix Yarra Ranges in roads
Leader Newspapers
by Rebecca David
13 Nov 2012

What issue should the new Yarra Ranges Council prioritise?
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
13 November 2012

Reform urged on dummy council candidates
Melbourne Weekly
by Alana Schetzer
13 November 2012

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

appeal to supreme court on again

In the last week or so I have received numerous requests regarding an appeal to the Supreme Court in the matter of VCAT P3933/2011 McDonalds v Yarra Ranges Shire Council and others. The requests are based, in the main, on a new council that is not bound by caretaker provisions.

After seeking both legal and governance advice I will be raising a motion for the new council to consider seeking leave of the Supreme Court to request lodgement of an appeal outside of the 28 day timeframe in VCAT P3933/2011 McDonalds v Yarra Ranges Shire Council and others at tonight’s council meeting.

However there's a couple of the steps I need to take in order for the motion to be put to council.

As the matter is not listed on our agenda I will need to seek leave of council to consider the matter as ‘urgent business’ for tonight’s meeting, if this does not receive the majority support of councillors I will not be able to proceed any further and will list the item as a 'councillor motion' for the next council meeting on 27 November, 2012.

Should I be successful in getting the motion heard prior to the 3 month period I will move the following motion:
“That council seeks leave of the Supreme Court to request lodgement of an appeal outside of the 28 day timeframe in the matter VCAT P3933/2011 McDonalds v Yarra Ranges Shire Council and others.”

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Monday, November 12, 2012

agm's aplenty, tonight tvag

It is most definitely AGM season, tonight saw the AGM of the Tecoma Village Action Group (TVAG) held at the Upwey RSL. I was delighted to be able to preside over their elections.

The new TVAG committee for 2012/13, from left to right:
Steve W, Nicole G, Anita D, Steve G, Anne E, Rosalind B,
Cr Samantha Dunn, David J and Barbara C.
It's been a busy year for this township group, their work mainly focussed on fighting McDonalds in Tecoma and preparation of the VCAT appeal. However there have been a few other planning issues too, Winscombe Avenue (an inappropriate multi-unit development), the Doctors Surgery extension (welcomed by the community) and the Saffron Cottage rebuild application (generally welcomed by the community).

There's also been work on the Graffiti Removal Project, working with the Upwey Township Group, the Community Noticeboard Project and representing TVAG on the UTCRASH Project.

It's a credit to TVAG that they've had time for other projects, McDonalds has taken so much of everyone's time. I thank the TVAG committee and members for their efforts, they give of their time freely and they've given much time over this past year, it's a credit to them and their community spirit.

I'm pleased to report the new committee for 2012/13 are:
President - Nicole Gale
Vice President - David Jewell
Secretary - Anne Elizabeth
Assistant Secretary - Anita Dean
Treasurer - Barbara Crisp
General members:
Steve Gale
Rosalind Burns
Steve Wood

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

southern dandenongs landcare click over another year

It was terrific to be invited to chair the fifth Annual General Meeting of the Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group (SDLG) at Selby Community House.

From left to right: Vicki Boyle, President of the Southern
Dandenongs Landcare Group, Cr Samantha Dunn,
Lyster Ward and Betty Marsden AO, President of the
Save the Dandenongs League
I am always impressed by the breadth of activities this group undertakes, there's no doubt they are committed and passionate when it comes to improving our local environment and raising awareness about environmental issues.

In the past year the SDLG have been involved in so many activities. There are some key annual events the group are committed to including Awesome Ornithorhynkids day at Belgrave Lake, Mini Beast Festival at Birdsland and Selbyfest.

Other activites throughout the year include a regular and highly successful stall at the monthly Kallista Market, a partnership with the Belgrave Traders Association and the Weedbuster Day which will be once again supported in 2013 for a month by the traders. In good news to hand the owner of Jorgies (now Earthly Pleasures Cafe) has agreed to have the ivy removed from the building, ivy is one of Yarra Ranges worst weeds, ranked the number 2 worst environmental weed.

There's been support with the Southern Ranges Environmental Alliance, the newly forming CWAD, numerous Friends of Groups, the list is extensive and this report is in no way complete.

It was also terrific to hear from guest speaker Betty Marsden AO, former Shire of Sherbrooke Councillor and current President of the Save the Dandenongs League, talk about the history and activities of the League. Betty is an inspiration and living legend and gave great insights into the many battles the conservation movement in the hills has undertaken since the League was established in 1950.

I congratulate all involved with SDLG and thank you for the extensive volunteer hours you contribute to improving our environment, it is well and truly appreciated.

I'm pleased to report the new committee for 2012/13:
President - Vicki Boyle
Vice President - Darcy Duggan
Secretary - Anne Elizabeth
Treasurer - Mike Clarke
General Members:
Leslie Wilson
James Fraser

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

it's official, I'm sworn in

It was a special night earlier this week when I took the oath of office. A celebration shared with family, friends and community, it's an important occasion and officially marks the time when you truly (and legally) become a councillor.

"I solemnly and sincerely declare
and affirm that I will undertake the
duties of the office of Councillor in
the best interests of the people...
of the Yarra Ranges Shire Council..."
I'm delighted to be re-elected as the Lyster Ward councillor with a resounding 58.93% primary vote. This term on council I'll be serving on the various township groups in Lyster, the Birdsland Advisory Committee, Burrinja, Eastern Transport Coalition, Fire Management Committee, Graffiti Working Group and the Municipal Emergency Management Committee.

I welcome and congratulate my colleagues, both newcomers and experienced hands.

Cr Jim Child - Mayor
Cr Jason Callanan - Deputy Mayor
Cr Len Cox - Walling ward
Cr Noel Cliff - Streeton ward
Cr Terry Avery - Melba ward
Cr Maria McCarthy - Billanook ward
Cr Andy Witlox - Chirnside ward
Cr Fiona McAllister - Ryrie ward

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Friday, November 09, 2012

samantha in the media

Losing battle against development in the Dandenongs
ABC 7:30
by Alison Savage
9 November 2012

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

samantha in the press

Yarra Ranges councillors open up
Yarra Ranges Weekly
5 November 2012

Thousands face no vote fine
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
6 November 2012

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Monday, November 05, 2012

samantha in the press

Yarra Ranges Mayoral Race: new councillor vie for robes
Yarra Ranges Weekly
by Natalie Kotsios
5 November 2012

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Friday, November 02, 2012

tomorrow's library coming?

Earlier this year I had the role of presenting to the Ministerial Advisory Council on Public Libraries as part of the Tomorrow's Library consultations. The MAC was set up as a response to the sudden news that the government was reducing funding for our libraries (which was later restored - see blog). The MAC undertook consultations across Victoria to learn what people wanted from their libraries, but the one proviso was that this part of the review was not about funding and it wasn't appropriate to mention it.

I started the presentation by setting the Yarra Ranges context. The dispersed nature of our population provides some unique challenges in providing library services across the municipality. I talked about the challenge of maintaining an adequate collection across 7 branch and 2 mobile libraries and the difficulty of funding this as current state government funding formulas do not recognise the additional pressures that are placed on interface councils like Yarra Ranges.

Current per capita funding for book stock in Yarra Ranges is $3.78 even though the baseline is $5.56 - of this 19.8% is from the state government, or .75cents per capita. It's pretty difficult to talk about library services without mentioning funding, it's such a critical part of the equation.

The state government is due to release the stage one report in November, let's hope there's proper recognition of the challenges we face so we can turn the discussion on how the state can adequately fund libraries into the future.

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