Sunday, August 31, 2014

putting children at the centre of participation

report from the roundtable – 26 aug

At this week’s council meeting I was pleased to be able to move a motion to endorse the Yarra Ranges Child and Youth Strategy 2014-2024. I have had long history of campaigning for children and childcare and the development of this strategy is one that is dear to my heart.

The strategy seeks to make Yarra Ranges a place where every child and young person will be able to thrive, reach their potential and actively participate in decision making.

It recognises the importance of the early years and early intervention programs to ensure children have every opportunity to flourish.

The strategy seeks to cement the relationship between early years and youth services. It recognises that one outcome of effective early years services and opportunities will be more resilient and achieving young people with the flow on effect being more resilient and achieving young adults, the parents of the next generation.  
I have always been a firm believer in get it right in the
early years, get it right for life. Here's the class of
2013 Kallista Kinder kids tree planting at the
George Tindale gardens.

Part of the strategy includes endorsing the Victorian Charter for Child Friendly Cities and Communities. I was proud to be able to launch the charter in my role as VLGA President last year. The Charter provides a set of guiding principles - freedom, respect and dignity and equitable access, to help to empower our youngest citizens.

The Charter was developed to assist local governments and community organisations to work in conversation with children on creating places, policies and programs which fully consider their needs.

I was delighted that councillors unanimously resolved to endorse the strategy.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

council supports campaign on pokies

report from the roundtable – 26 aug

A group of councils have got together to campaign for systemic reforms to Electronic Gaming Machines gambling (I’ll be calling them Pokies from here on). 

Part of the ask was a contribution from each local government of $5,000 to put towards the campaign Redressing the Burden of Electronic Gaming Machines.  As chair of the Local Government Working Group on Gambling I was pleased to be able to move the motion to support the campaign.

The campaign will provide legal advice on the proposed systemic changes to the requirement around proof of ‘net community benefit’ in relation to pokies, include a communications strategy and materials councils can use in the lead up to the state election.

The current annual spend on pokies in Yarra Ranges is $26million, when you extrapolate out the problem gambling component it equates to $9.1million. That’s a lot of money out of household budgets and out of our local economy.

Local government has had low levels of success in the regulatory processes related to Pokies applications. The views of local communities and evidence of harmful impacts are difficult to quantify and therefore hard to argue. The timelines for preparing sophisticated social and economic impact statements are extremely short and the onus is on local government not the Pokies applicant.

There’s been a long held frustration by local government at the impact of the regulatory processes and system and our capacity to protect community wellbeing.

I was delighted that councillors voted unanimously to support the motion (and the campaign).

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Friday, August 29, 2014

belgrave hub gets budget go ahead

Great news for Belgrave. This week council unanimously endorsed the Belgrave Health Hub Project to be referred to the 2014/15 capital expenditure budget.
A long time in the making, I’m delighted that councillors unanimously voted to support this project.

Seeing this project through is one of the reasons I stood for council in 2012.

It’s been a very long time since there’s been major capital community facilities built by Yarra Ranges Council in Belgrave, the last being the Belgrave Library in 1997.
The Belgrave Health Hub is a collaboration between Yarra Ranges Council and Inspiro (community health providers). Back in 2010 a feasibility report was prepared, it highlighted the ongoing problems with buildings in Belgrave that weren’t fit for purpose, were substandard structures and did not provide for any growth in current services or new services.

This has been to the great detriment of community members as there has been no opportunity to provide additional services due to the current configuration of buildings.

There has been enormous consultation over the Belgrave Health Hub, we received 1,085 survey responses from residents, had numerous face to face meetings, phone conversations and held listening posts, the community response has been overwhelmingly supportive of the development of this centre.

Ongoing studies have identified that the hub will cost $8.7million to build and fit out. It will be a one stop shop that will enhance service access, referral pathways and collaboration. It will also include meeting spaces, so there’s more spaces for community in Belgrave, at the moment the current community space at the library has its limitations, so the hub will improve greatly the options for community participation and social inclusion.
This is a diagrammatic plan only, it does not represent
what the building will look like as the detailed design
work has not yet been done. It shows conceptually
where the building, car park and landscaping will go.

The hub will make health services far more accessible, create community spaces and is based on a unique partnership arrangement. It consolidates 3 council buildings and the services that operate out of them. At the moment the service mix includes Maternal and Child Health Services, Aged and Disability Services, Youth Services, Inspiro, Dandenong Ranges Emergency Relief Service, Belgrave Community Arts Partnership, the hub opens up possibilities for an even greater service mix than currently exists. The hub is a great investment in future proofing as it will provide options for attracting additional services for the hills community.

The hub will be located on the current Youth Services site, now the project has been approved we can move to the detailed design process and planning permit application. It's a great opportunity to provide a gateway to Belgrave. I’ll keep you posted with news as it comes to hand.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

samantha in the press

In response to this article:
The owners of Burnham Beeches have asked the Minister for Planning to determine a Planning Scheme Amendment (PSA) for their site.
It is up to the Minister to decide if the community will be consulted, not councillors, not council officers, not Burnham Beeches owners (unless the owners ask the Minister to do so and  at any rate it's still the Minister's call). It is also up to the Minister to determine if he makes a decision or asks council for a decision on the PSA.
The owners of Burnham Beeches have been in talks with Yarra Ranges Council for approximately 2 years, in this time they have been encouraged by council officers to lodge a Planning Scheme Amendment with council, the owners have chosen to go directly to the Minister and not to council.
What will be interesting in all of this is what the Minister will do, given it is very close to a state election in Victoria. I can only hope that the community does get to have a say, consultation is an important part of the planning process. Given it's a tight contest in the seat of Monbulk I wonder what all the candidates for Monbulk think?

It is an exciting time for Burnham Beeches, it's a much loved site and it's terrific to see it being used again, but I also think the community has a right to be consulted.
Tourism feast
FTG Mail Newspaper
by Marc McGowan
26 Aug 2014

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maccas update - 28 aug 2014

Regular planning register watchers will have noticed this application for a planning permit amendment – YR-2011/647/A at 1529 Burwood Hwy, Tecoma (McDonalds site) for “Buildings and works associated with a convenience restaurant including acoustic boundary fence, creation and removal of easements, variation to the existing easements, erection of associated signage including internally illuminated signage and removal of vegetation”.    

The nature of the amendment is a request for ‘secondary consent’ for additional signage on the site.

Secondary consent is a mechanism that has no public submission process attached to it, there is also no ability for a Councillor to use ‘call in’ powers for the matter to be decided before full council.

Secondary consent is a way for a Responsible Authority (council) to consent to change plans when the change being considered is not ‘transformational’, (ie: reducing impact such as lowering a building height, increasing setbacks, changing building materials, roof colour, etc).

It utilises the mechanism of a permit condition, in this case condition 2 which says “The layout of the site and the size of the buildings and works shown on the endorsed plans must not be altered without the prior written consent of the Responsible Authority”.

In it’s decision for the permit the VCAT tribunal members made these comments in relation to signage (from para 91):

91   Notwithstanding the above general support for the proposed signage, we concur with the residents that the number of signs should be reduced. There is some duplication of the larger signs and we think the number of signs exceeds the signage generally provided for other commercial premises in Tecoma. We think the following signage should be deleted as it largely duplicates other signs and would add to the extent of night illumination. The signs that we will require to be deleted are:

·   S13 – flagpoles and banners (should be replaced by landscaping).

·   S9D – 2.3metre by 0.7 metre directional sign (could be replaced by smaller non illuminated directional sign).

·   Delete either 9A or 9B (2.3 metres by 0.7 metre) at entry to the access aisle to Burwood Highway as these signs duplicate.

·   Replace Sign S2B on the west elevation with S4B.

·   Delete S4B from the blade on the west elevation.

92   We consider the dimensions and content of sign S4A to be appropriate, however, we consider its colour to be overly prominent. We consider a more muted colour should be employed.  Given the height, size and illumination of the large north facing ‘McDonald’s’ sign, we concur with the residents that it would generate a strong illumination into the adjoining residential areas, and we will direct that the illumination be turned off between 10.00pm and 7.00am.

93   With these modifications we consider the proposed signage would comply with the decision guidelines of the Scheme, make a positive contribution to the streetscape and not adversely impact the site’s neighbours.

As the application was only lodged this week it has not as yet been considered by our planning officers. Although there is no public submission process as part of a Secondary Consent application given it is a live planning permit amendment application plans are available for public viewing. I have organised for plans to be available at our Upwey office as of next week (1 Sep).
I’ll keep you posted with more details as they come to hand.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

samantha in the press

Forest Hill candidates under the spotlight at Whitehorse’s Metropolitan Transport Forum
Whitehorse Leader
by Laura Jolly
26 Aug 2014

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an update in the fight against wandering trad

My thanks to Bill Incoll (Friends of Sherbrooke Forest) for providing this update, Bill has been tireless in his pursuit to rid the Dandenongs of Wandering Trad - Tradescantia fluminensis. Thanks also to Glenn Brooks-McMillan (Community Weed Action of the Dandenongs) and Anne Fitzpatrick (Yarra Ranges Landcare Network) who had a hand in preparing this summary update.

Regular readers of my blog will recall an earlier article detailing the call for research into a biological control for this weed nasty, ranked 10 in Yarra Ranges.

Wandering Trad forms a smothering carpet, it displaces
indigenous ground covers, herbs, grasses and orchids.
It is a common cause of rashes in dogs and is toxic
to cattle.

Funding has been found to start the battle with Tradescantia fluminensis (Wandering Trad). A recent Research Update provided by the Department of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI) and CSIRO has provided the following news.

An application to the Australian Weeds Committee to have Wandering Trad (Trad) a target for biological control has been prepared and is being considered by the Committee.

While the application is being approved, testing of biological control agents can begin, provided this is done under safe quarantine conditions. Two agents, an insect and a fungal pathogen, are being imported from New Zealand. The fungal pathogen has already been imported and is currently in the quarantine facility with CSIRO in Canberra.

The insect, Lema basicostata, attacks the stem of the plant and greatly reduces the biomass of the plant. It has already been released in New Zealand and is successfully attacking Trad in the wild. It spreads by natural increase and will reduce the volume of weed until a natural balance is achieved that maintains a population of insects and a low biomass of Trad.
The fungus, Kordyana sp, (Brazilian yellow leaf spot fungus) attacks the leaves. The spores are spread by wind, much more quickly than the insect. This agent also has the potential to reduce Trad biomass to a low level.

The biocontrols will be tested on Australian native plant species likely to be affected, under strict quarantine conditions. DEPI will work on the insect, and CSIRO the fungus.

The first year of a three year program has been funded from State and Federal sources. Further funding must be found for two more years, leading to the safe release of up to four biocontrol agents.

In addition to the biological control program, Federal funding has been found to combat the spread and impact of Trad while the biological control program is carried out safely. These efforts will be concentrated where Trad is likely to affect rare or endangered species or communities in the Dandenong Ranges, on both private and public land.

It's great news and good to receive progress updates, it's a terrible weed which smothers everything else in its path and sadly is commonly found throughout the Dandenongs, especially along our waterways.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

video challenge - tell us why commuters count

Commuters and other users of our trams, trains and buses have a pretty good idea of what is needed to improve the system. The Eastern Transport Coalition (ETC) wants to make sure your voices and ideas are heard so we are running a video challenge.

The ETC are inviting people to post a video, up to 2 minutes, on the Commuters Count facebook page in order to go into the running to win a year’s worth of public transport.

The ETC wants to know, with some creativity, about your public transport experiences and how they could be improved. Maybe you want a new train line or your day may be made better if the bus met the train. Whatever it is, we want to know.

Need some inspiration, check out this entry from Yarra Ranges Council (no we're not allowed to win - but great effort team YR!)

The competition is open until 24 September and you can vote for your favourite video anytime until the end of September.

To see example entries and all the details visit our facebook page.

For terms and conditions, visit the ETC website.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

the campaign trail - 25 aug

I'm running in the upcoming state election in the upper house seat of Eastern Metropolitan. It's been another busy week on the campaign trail. This week includes updates on:

  • Your invitation to the launch of Bulleen and Warrandyte campaigns - on this Friday
  • Whitehorse Transport Forum - a lot of unhappy commuters who've lost their bus service with no consultation
  • Relaunching the Victorian Renewable Energy Target
  • Kingswood College Year 10s invite to talk environment accepted by the Greens and only the Greens
  • The Murphy Legal challenge to the East West tunnel
  • 99 days - election countdown

You can keep up to date with campaign news on:

facebook - Samantha Dunn EasternMetropolitan


twitter - @greens4eastmet

to volunteer or donate

web - Samantha Dunn, Candidate for Eastern Metropolitan

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

birdsland boardwalk gets official opening

Great to have the Shire's bushland officer,
Gavin, assist with official ribbon cutting duties.
It's official, the newly constructed boardwalk linking the Monbulk Creek bridge with the shared trail at Birdsland in Belgrave Heights is open and ready for traffic.

In another first for me, I've never officially opened a boardwalk before, the elevated boardwalk links the new footbridge over the creek to the Birdsland trail.

The boardwalk will provide cyclists and pedestrians with a safe passage into the reserve, away from traffic as well as providing a unique view of the Monbulk Creek corridor. This corridor is important as it's home to one of our iconic locals, the platypus.

The timber railings are plantation hardwood, no native forest used here, whilst the boardwalk planks are made from recycled plastic manufactured by local maker, Replas.

It's great to see the construction of this community asset which provides safer options for reserve users. Birdsland is a well loved place, visited by many locals and not only home to platypus, but to other iconic species including sugar gliders, powerful owls and wedge tailed eagles.

The boardwalk is part of the joint Yarra Ranges Council, Melbourne Water and Parks Victoria project to develop a cycle trail network linking the Belgrave township to Lysterfield Lake Park.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

bridging peace in the hills

I’m delighted to be able to participate in the Bridge of Peace Ceremony being held at Burrinja on Saturday September 20th, to recognise the International Day of Peace.

Hosted by the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), the Bridge of Peace Ceremony provides opportunities for individuals to take meaningful steps that result in the creation of a new partnership dedicated to and actively working for peace.

Ceremony participants build friendships with a peer from a different culture, faith, nationality or even a former enemy nation and commit to bridge the gaps of heart between them.

When: Saturday 20 September starting 11am
Where: Burrinja, cnr Glenfern Road and Matson Drive, Upwey
Cost: entry by donation, includes a light lunch
RSVP: 5968 2664 or email

The WFWP says ending the cycle of conflict by gaining a new perspective is essential to achieving world peace. WFWP is committed to utilising the remarkably powerful Bridge of Peace Ceremony to further peacemaking efforts.
The Bridge is a symbol of crossing over the barriers that many of us hold in our hearts, or that generations past have held. It is also a symbol of being willing to embrace someone different so that we ourselves become bigger and greater by our ability to accept and love someone different.

I look forward to seeing you there, Yarra Ranges is proud to be able to support the Bridge of Peace with a community development grant.  


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Friday, August 22, 2014

samantha in the press

Yarra Ranges councillor says she was left in dark by application from Burnham Beeches in Sherbrooke for extra guest capacity
Lilydale Leader
by Therese Allaoui
21 Aug 2014

note: to date Yarra Ranges Council still hasn't heard back from the Minister for Planning or his department on what he intends to do regarding the planning scheme amendment request.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

southern dandenongs landcare – another active year working hard for our environment

I was delighted to be able to chair the Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group Annual General Meeting and preside over their elections for 2014/15.

The range of activities of this group is phenomenal, they have environmental fingers in many pies and I’m inspired by the amount of activity this group undertakes to protect, enhance and preserve our local environment.
Vicki Boyle was resoundingly re-elected as
President of the Southern Dandenong
Landcare Group. Vicki is a human dynamo
and was awarded Yarra Ranges Environmental
Achiever of the Year 2012.

The President, Vicki Boyle, gave an extensive report of activities, some of which included:
  • Participation in CWAD – Community Weed Alliance in the Dandenongs
  • Partner is SREA – Southern Ranges Environment Alliance working on the Green Tracks program, an environmental program focused on the Puffing Billy rail corridor
  • Targeted community engagement re weed removal with property owners abutting Moores Break, Ferny Creek.
  • Works along the Belgrave bicycle track to remove blackberries
  • Participation in the Minak Reserve biolink projct
  • Assisting with the Green Army project to target Wandering Tradescantia
  • Working with the Belgrave Traders Association for Weedbusters week and Clean Up Australia day
  • Monthly stalls at the Kallista Market
  • Working with the BEEGEES, Friends of Trestle Bridge, focusing on a stationers group (metro station), food growing and biodiversity improvements in the VicTrack rail corridor
  • Participating in Selbyfest and Selby Community House, developing community indigenous plant garden
  • Assisting Cardinia Creek Landcare Group with signage project to raise awareness of the local platypus population
  • Partnering in the Yarra Valley Landcare Landcare for Singles event
  • Partnering with Selby CFA for event catering and as a Clean Up partner
  • Enhancing relationship with Selby Primary School and the Minibeast festival
  • Working with the Selby Men’s Shed group (who build nest boxes for SDLG)
  • Coordinating the local nest box program
  • Recognising the contribution of long time locals who sadly passed away, the Beers, for their efforts in the enhancement of the local Selby environment.
  • Running the Minibeast Festival and Awesome Ornithorynkids (Platypus Day)

It’s an amazing array of activities, an enormous contribution by all involved, volunteers working hard to enhance our environment and raise awareness about environmental issues. I am truly thankful for their tireless efforts.
Pictured from left to right: Mike, Leslie, Helen, Cr Samantha,
Jackie, Catherine, Darcy, Merinda, Frank, Vicki, Robert
and Catherine.

I’m delighted to announce the election of the following people to the committee for 2014/15:

President – Vicki Boyle
Vice President – Darcy Duggan
Secretary – Jackie Glenn
Treasurer – Mike Clarke
General Members – Navila, Catherine, Helen, Merinda, Frank, Robert, Catherine, Jenny and Leslie.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

monbulk pool officially turns one

Well it’s official, the Monbulk Pool Redevelopment was officially recognised at it’s one year community birthday party. 

It’s been quite a journey for the community and the pool.

The talk about redevelopment started back in 2004 when the council of the day allocated $2million towards the project, for whatever reason unknown to me and before my time as a councillor, council reallocated the money to other projects. 

Talk about the project did not recommence until 2009. In 2010 a planning permit was issued for the $6.1million redevelopment project. In July of that year, council signed off on $7million for the project. After the tender process in 2011 the project was costed at $8.4million. I had to ask my councillor colleagues at Yarra Ranges Council for an increase in funding 3 times as the scope of the project evolved and to their credit they agreed to additional funding on every occasion.
The new gym is a great addition to the Monbulk Pool,
boasting one of the best views from any gym, anywhere.

In 2012 construction commenced, originally the pool was scheduled to open in April 2013, but eventually opened in August, 2013 at a cost of $8.7 million with council contributing $7.12million, state government $837,500 and federal government $742,000.

There were many construction challenges along the way, there was the surprise find of asbestos buried underneath the pool and admin buildings, the site shutdown due to dangerous trees, the issues with water and electricity connection and I can confirm that yes you do fill a 25mt pool with a garden hose (and it was a very chilly day to be playing under the hose!).

It was terrific to be part of an all women team overseeing the project, a rarity in local government, myself as ward councillor along with Julee Scott – Manager Major Projects and Jane Sinnamon – Manager of Urban and Built space, their input and support was invaluable.

Special thanks must go to members of the Project Steering Committee, Bev Hocking, Jean Gillard, Monbulk Aquatic Club members Gaby Mitchell and Donna Stewart, Mantric Architect David Newstead, Yarra Ranges Officers Ben Bainbridge and Ron Pearce and Belgravia staff, Frank Van Der Kraan and Helen Hostettler. To Helen specifically, she played a key role, the link between the pool users and pool manager. Her dedication to making sure we had the best available refurbishment that delivered on community expectations was exemplary. She spent countless hours gathering community input and provided a sound level of advice in the development of plans – she was a wonderful person to have as part of the project and a great advocate for community.

The response from the community has been wonderful and visitation has well and truly exceeded expectations, to June 2014 over 155, 000 people have visited the pool and estimations have visitation at over 170,000 for 14/15. The important element of community has not been lost with the redevelopment. Monbulk Pool has always been an important part of the community, more than a pool, a meeting place and hub of social activity and support, and it’s great to see it’s still playing this fundamental role to the Dandenong Ranges community.

A rousing rendition of Happy Birthday was sung and I was delighted to cut the cake with Helen Hostettler.

It’s wonderful to have legacy projects and the Monbulk Pool is one I’m very proud of.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

the campaign trail - 18 aug

I'm running in the upcoming state election in the upper house seat of Eastern Metropolitan. It's been another busy week on the campaign trail. This week includes updates on:
  • Whitehorse MTF Transport Forum coming up
  • Campaigning for a Fair Go for Firefighters in Park Orchards
  • Murphy vs EastWest Link
  • Supporting the Equal Love rally
  • Banyule MTF Transport Forum, Greens Ivanhoe candidate Paul Kennedy speaks
  • Candidate for Croydon, Jill Wild campaigns downtown
  • Cocktail Party invitation to the launch of Bulleen and Warrandyte campaigns
You can keep up to date with campaign news on:

facebook - Samantha Dunn EasternMetropolitan
twitter - @greens4eastmet

to volunteer or donate
web - Samantha Dunn, Candidate for Eastern Metropolitan

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auditor general finds public transport coordination lacking


Auditor General finds public transport coordination lacking

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Eastern Transport Coalition last week applauded the Victorian Auditor-General’s report which called for better coordination of Melbourne’s public transport network.

In the report, Coordinating Public Transport, Auditor-General John Doyle said public transport services are poorly coordinated, and progress to improve this has been slow.

He also noted the deficiencies in the network have been identified in previous public transport audits over the past few years, but that action has been slow.

ETC Chairperson, Cr Peter Lockwood said the report highlighted what everyone who used public transport already knew - particularly his observations that “many bus services remain indirect and infrequent, with long wait times for connecting train services.”

“It’s such a shame because the system could be so much better. This is what commuters have been telling us and I expect we will hear more through our Better Buses survey which is currently underway,” Cr Lockwood said.

“The Auditor General has urged Public Transport Victoria to accelerate efforts to finalise plans for metropolitan trams and buses and regional transport services, and to develop measures that will assist co-ordination of services across different public transport modes.

“The ETC would urge the same. PTV has a Network Development Plan for trains but there is none for buses and there won't be until at least the end of the year.

“For the majority of residents in the eastern suburbs, buses are the most critical part of the public transport network where little or no other public transport options exist.”

Cr Lockwood said both the government and opposition needed to show their plans for improving bus services and a comprehensive plan that co-ordinated the entire network.

“Fixing Melbourne’s public transport problems will take money, effort, better performance monitoring and in some cases, brave action. It needs to start with a coordinated plan for improving all public transport across the state,” Cr Lockwood said.

To take part in the Commuters Count Better Buses survey, go to the ETC website.

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