Wednesday, July 31, 2013

samantha in the press

Pool fills with excitement
Leader Newspapers
30 Jul 2013
Cat curfew views sought
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
30 Jul 2013

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Monday, July 29, 2013

celebrating kalatha on national tree day

It was terrific to be up in the Toolangi Forests to celebrate the opening of the Kalatha Giant Tree Walk. It seemed a fitting thing to do on National Tree Day.
The Kalatha Giant, a testament to survival and resilience.

I joined with locals from the Dandenong Ranges as well as Toolangi, Healesville and Castella locals to celebrate the event. Uncle Roy Patterson Taungurung Elder conducted a traditional smoking ceremony before the opening, he also did the welcome to country.

The Kalatha Giant Tree bears an ancient fire scar and has clearly survived several bushfire events in its long lifetime. It was selected for celebration as an exemplar of resilience and survival. The construction of the walk was a community bushfire recovery initiative to enable visitors to view the tree while protecting it and its environs. It was installed by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (now DEPI) with funding from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund. The Project was auspiced by the Toolangi & Castella District Community House and supported by Healesville Environment Watch Inc. and Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum Inc.
Pictured left to right: Mark Butler MP, Federal Minister for the
Environment and Steve Meacher.
It was terrific to see this project come to fruition. Steve Meacher,
Toolangi stalwart, has played a key role in the community after
the 2009 fires and was recognised for his efforts by being
awarded Murrindindi Citizen of the Year, 2013. He has been a
key driver of this project from inception to delivery. 

Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus Regnans) is Australia’s tallest tree and the tallest flowering plant in the world. The Kalatha Giant is a truly magnificent specimen, one of several in the area dating back at least three to four hundred years. It has a girth of 16 metres and reaches a height of approximately 73 metres. 
The stump of this old tree contains the slots used by loggers
in the past (they put planks in the slots so they could climb the tree
in order to cut it down with an axe where the trunk narrowed).
In those days logging was selective, long before the indiscriminate
 clearfell logging of today.

The Toolangi community sits alongside the Toolangi State Forest on the ridge of the Great Divide. In the Black Saturday fires of February 2009, about 65% of the forest was burnt. The Kalatha Giant Tree is situated in the section of the forest that escaped the fires and has become an important pocket of biodiversity, a refuge for native wildlife and local residents alike. It has become known locally as the “hole in the donut”.
One of the key reasons these forests are so
important is because they are home to our faunal
emblem, the Leadbeater's Possum.
Currently listed as endangered, now being
considered for an upgrade to critically endangered.

It is a magnificent part of Victoria and reminds us that we do have some beautiful and pristine tall tree forests in this state, well worth a visit.
This one isn't the Kalatha Giant, small in comparison,
but quite enormous. Tragically there's a logging coupe just
uphill from this tree containing magnificent forest. This tree
will be spared as part of the walk, but others wont.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

health and wellbeing - what do you think?

report from the roundtable - 23 jul

At this week's council meeting councillors unanimously voted to release the draft Health and Wellbeing Plan for public comment. The development of a municipal Health and Wellbeing Plan is a legislative requirement under the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.

The Health and Wellbeing Plan is an over-arching strategic document, which sets the goals and priorities for improving public health and wellbeing in Yarra Ranges.  

The Health and Wellbeing Plan draft contains the following priority areas:
- Healthy places, healthy people;
- Positive mental health and wellbeing;
- Service access for a healthier Yarra Ranges; and
- A healthy start to life as the foundation for lifelong wellbeing.

One of the goals under Healthy Places, Healthy People is to increase understanding, access and consumption of healthy food, the aims to achieve this goal include:
- Increase skills and confidence to buy and prepare fresh foods as part of a daily diet.
- Increase awareness of the value of healthy eating by working with our partner organisations.
- Address food insecurity for our most vulnerable residents through innovation.
- Increase understanding of healthy food and fruit and vegetable intake by supporting community-led projects such as community gardens.
- Secure water for food production by working with agribusinesses.
- Ensure continued protection of food production areas of the municipality by advocating to the State Government.
- Inform solutions and resource allocation by understanding the barriers to healthy eating in our diverse communities.
- Seek greater local planning control over decisions affecting health through advocacy to the State Government

Yarra Ranges is seeking comments and feedback from the community about the draft Plan now. Submissions close on Friday, September 6th, at 5pm. Please address submissions by post to Social Planning and Development unit, PO Box 105, Lilydale, VIC 3140, or by email to

You can find out more about the draft Health and Wellbeing Plan here.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

samantha in the press

Nadrasca says disabled people discriminated against in upgrade plans for Mitcham station
by Tim Michell
Leader Newspapers

25 Jul 2013

Big splash when revamped pool opens
Leader Newspapers
24 Jul 2013

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

maccas update - day 18

Last week the National Union of Workers provided
their blockade bbq to cook up breakfast for community
members protesting on site.
I attended parts of the Supreme Court Hearing today, where McDonalds Australia Ltd sought an injunction to restrain named defendants, a number of community members who have been protesting at the McDonalds Tecoma site.

After unsuccessfully seeking an adjournment, the matter was heard by Supreme Court Justice Kyrou. 

In summing up the reasons for granting an injunction order Supreme Court Justice Kyrou said he was granting a temporary order that strikes a balance as some aspects of the terms sought by the Plaintiff (McDonalds) were too wide.

Justice Kyrou defined the areas that the named defendants are not permitted to enter or remain in relation to the site on Burwood Highway. He said the order was limited to those who entered the McDonalds property between 1-17/7/13 and ascended the roof and those who wrongly interfered with the access of workers.

He went on to describe the areas that the order pertained to, which referred to a map supplied by the Plaintiff, I do not have a copy of the map but it is my understanding that these areas include the McDonalds land, the adjoining vacant lot, the footpath to the front of the site (the temporary one) as the evidence suggests that entry and egress to the site occurred from the footpath. Burwood Hwy cannot be accessed for the purpose of doing anything prohibited. There was also discussion on the carriageway easements, however I don't have clarity as yet on this element of the order.  

There are also a number of other conditions regarding conduct and preventing the throwing of articles to the land.

Justice Kyrou acknowledged he had only heard one side of the story and has granted the temporary injunction till 4pm 1 August, 2013, when the case will resume allowing defendants the opportunity to put their side of the story and where the matter of costs sought by McDonalds will be covered as well.

In explaining his reasons Justice Kyrou said that elements of the request made by the Plaintiff caused some difficulty because of the need to balance the right to peacefully protest and the rights of the owner of the land and that it was not his intention to stifle legitimate community debate. He also confirmed that statements made on websites or in conversations against the development would not infringe this order.

The matter will resume at 10:30am on the 1st August, 2013 in the Supreme Court.

Here's a couple of stories from today's Age and the Herald Sun.

(please note this blog entry is a recollection of the time I attended the hearing, it is not legal advice, nor should it be read as such)

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

samantha in the press

Pecking Order
by Emma Sun
Mail Newspapers
9 Jul 2013

Weeding blitz takes hold
by Chelsea Clugston
Mail Newspapers
9 Jul 2013
Fingers pointed
by Emma Sun
Mail Newspapers
9 Jul 2013
Protest freezes construction
by Emma Sun
Mail Newspapers
9 Jul 2013

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

celebrating our reconciliation framework

It was wonderful to celebrate the launch of Yarra Ranges Reconciliation Framework for Action as part of Reconciliation Week activities. 
It was terrific to catch up with Aunty Dot Peters who did the
welcome to country.

I am proud to be part of a council that supports an Indigenous Advisory Committee, who have defined Reconciliation as "a pathway to healing the past and moving forward toward a future of respect, caring and sharing with all cultures living in harmony".
Me pictured with local artist Safina Stewart, Safina
painted the most beautiful artistic representation
of  Yarra Ranges Reconciliation Framework.

The Yarra Ranges Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) was first established in 2005 and is central to driving Reconciliation in Yarra Ranges. The IAC and council recognise that strategies to create and strengthen social and economic participation need to underpinned by a strong cultural framework and led by the Indigenous community.

The IAC has been important in emphasising the need to recognise the contemporary culture of Indigenous people, as well as the vast history and heritage of Indigenous culture.
This photo of Safina's work does not do it
justice, the piece is around 1.5mt high, and
details from the piece feature throughout
the Reconciliation Framework.

The Reconciliation Framework for Action is based around four key themes with respect, caring and sharing overarching the document in its entirety.

The four themes; Health, Healing and Spirit, Participation, Service Access and Strengthening Cultural Heritage form the foundation on ongoing work. 

As part of the development of the Yarra Ranges Reconciliation Framework for Action, local artist Safina Stewart was commissioned to paint a representation of the framework. Safina did an amazing job translating the brief into a beautiful piece of art. The theme of the tree is strong along with the themes of respect, caring and sharing encompassed in the piece.

It is a wonderful work and it's terrific to see it's addition to the Shire's art collection.

If you'd like to know more about council's Reconciliation Framework for Action click here.  As a next step we'll be working with our partners to develop actions for Year One.

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Monday, July 08, 2013

maccas update @ 8 july - day 8

Day 8 since McDonalds began works out at their site in Tecoma. The community continues to maintain their picket line at the site, the CFMEU continues to respect the community picket and many people come and go maintaining the protest at the Burwood Hwy frontage of the site.

Today's media coverage included a spot on 3AW where Brian Baker's Ballad of Tecoma got a run and this article appeared in The Age.

A small group of community members travelled to the city to protest outside Treasury Place to coincide with a Cabinet Meeting of the State Government. Tomorrow a group of protestors will head to VCAT to protest, where at the same time Day 2 of the appeal regarding the 'sawmill site' in Healesville will continue (the original sawmill site proposal contemplated 2 convenience restaurants, a McDonalds and Red Rooster).

Local businesses continue to contribute food and drinks to community members on site. Today I saw a box of fresh organic bananas supplied by Eastfield Organic Natural Foods in Croydon South being distributed, this morning Hahndorf's Fine Chocolates in Upper Ferntree Gully provided hot chocolate, coffee and chocolate for the community. Belgrave Organics have been a long time supporter of the community campaign and have provided a central hub to purchase stickers, t-shirts, CDs, wheelie bin stickers and donations to the campaign over a very long time.

This has been a long journey, since I first received the call regarding the application in February 2011. Since the unanimous council decision to refuse the application I have been strong in my resolve to oppose this inappropriate development for Tecoma and I join with the community in their resolve. I believe a system that does not take into account the number of community objections, nor give them weight is a flawed system and must be changed.

There is no sign of the motivation and energy dissipating from community members, they remain strong and committed to their protest.

Here's some pics from day 8 of the protest:

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monbulk pool getting very close now

It was terrific to join with Monbulk Aquatic Centre Manager, Helen Hostettler, for a very quick dip in the Monbulk pool, it was very chilly!

Believe it or not, yes, the pool is filled with a garden hose,
at this stage there was around 6 inches of water in the deep end.

I also took the time to have a quick look around and experience the change rooms first hand too (for those users of the old Monbulk Pool, you'll understand why change rooms are a key part of the redevelopment). It's an impressive looking facility and I look forward to it being open to the public, but alas I can't provide a date as yet. Maybe mid August.

A sneak peek, the view from the new pool looking back
towards the 25m pool which has been fully refurbished.
The pool is a great example of community consultation, cooperation and collaboration and I'm delighted to be part of a team led by women including Helen Hostettler - MAC Manager,   Jane Sinnamon - Manager Capital Works & Urban Planning and Julee Scott - Coordinator Major Building Projects. It's rare that women feature so prominently in building projects and I'm proud to be part of such a dynamic and energetic team.

I have no doubt the community will be very pleased with the redevelopment, not only are the pools looking great the gym looks sensational. I am very much looking forward to the official opening. I'll keep you posted as I know more.

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Sunday, July 07, 2013

maccas update @ 7 july - day 7


Today the community held a barbeque out on site. Many people came throughout the day to spend time on the community picket line, out the front of the site, chatting to the people on the roof and generally chatting with each other getting to know each other better.

Below are some pics from today of the ever evolving protest.

Today saw 5 people on the roof, with Janine, sporting
a plaster cast after injuries to her hand from the alleged
assault by security officers, returning to the roof.
The hoardings were washed clean by last night's rain, but
by mid afternoon were almost returned to their former state.
Local harpist, Susan Graham, played beautifully whilst
she joined the community picket line.

This 'shift' of the community picket line
enjoying some lunch, all donated from the community.
Sarah cheerfully volunteering to staff  the food and drink
stall today, all goods donated, all labour donated by a raft of
supportive community members.
The local drumming circle provided entertainment throughout the day.
People continued to rally throughout the day, the support not wavering.
They continue to receive a positive responses from passers by,
many of them tourists on Sunday.

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Saturday, July 06, 2013

maccas update @ 6 july - day 6

I was pleased to be invited to welcome community members
to the Say No to McDonalds in Tecoma walk.
Today there were a couple of activities underway for community members to participate in. The ongoing protest and community picket line at the McDonalds site in Tecoma continued, there was also a Say No to McDonalds in Tecoma Walk held at the 1000 steps at the Dandenong Ranges National Park in Upper Ferntree Gully.

The issue got a run in today's Herald Sun,
love the cartoonist perspective.
A very popular tourist destination, locals had a great response from visitors to the 1000 steps who were not keen to see a McDonalds built in Tecoma.

These visiting tourists were keen to take flyers and
do more to assist the campaign.
Many tourists thought it was a bad idea, they didn't think it was the right fit for the Dandenongs.

A group of around 50 locals joined in a community walk in the national park, enjoying what we love about the Dandenongs, our beautiful natural environment.

After the walk I visited the protestors in Tecoma.

This is the community picket line the CFMEU have
committed to not crossing until community concerns
are addressed.
Linda from Belgrave Heights dropped down with toasted
cheese sandwiches for all on site.

Shane has been a long standing protestor on the roof.
Today Indi Film Maker Rod Neason took this footage of local girl Emily who was being interviewed by Channel 7.

These hardy folk were happy to maintain the community
picket line through rain and hail.
Cathy from Rowville brought freshly cooked muffins
for people to enjoy, still warm from the oven.
Tamara from The Patch brought freshly brewed
home made chai to warm up protestors.
The weather got gloomier and gloomier but that did
not stop protestors at the front of site, buoyed on
by support from passing motorists.
Janine and Mark accept warm cups of tea from
supportive community members.
Even into to the night and in atrocious weather conditions
community members kept their vigil at the front of the site.
Community members remain strengthened in their resolve to maintain a presence at the site and there was much support from passing drivers and pedestrians.

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