Dandenong Star Journal - 19th March 2024

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Asylum seekers still in limbo

Lockdown adventures of ‘rocketgirl’

Legacy celebrations for community centre

Dandenong West best of the best

Driving innovation

Fast cars are not unheard of on Dandenong roads, but what about driverless racing?

Three days a week, Greaves Reserve is the preferred testing ground for Monash Motorsport and its incredible driverless, all-electric, 4WD vehicle.

In its 24th year, the Monash Universitybased team of 120 students has developed the country’s first driverless car for Formula SAE competition in Europe this winter.

They’re now in the phase of refining the car – named the M23.

It is customised for low-speed circuits with tight corners and short straights.

For that reason, the M23’s top speed is capped at 115km/h but accelerates 0-100km/h in a blazing three seconds.

“The goal of making it faster is getting more out of the tyres,” says the team’s mechanical chief technical officer Josh Fromberg.

That’s done by tweaking the mechanical set-up, such as the electric powertrain and the wheels’ camber-and-toe.

And by refining the self-driving algorithms that include choosing the car’s optimal racing line.

Among the M23’s other high-tech features are four independent motors – one on each wheel.

The performance benefits are better use of

the tyres as well as greater independent control over each wheel. Fromberg says.

Monash has had enviable success in Formula SAE, including a golden run between 2013-‘19.

It retired its combustion racing car as No.1 in the world in 2019, while also holding the third-ranked electric car.

Last year, its racer finished 10th after a costly electrical failure.

“It was heartbreaking. It cost us overall victory in the competition.”

Now in his final year of an engineering degree, Fromberg has been on board the team for three years.

He enjoys the “amazing feeling” of being

part of a world-class team.

“It’s hands-on, it’s a cool interactive project with an amazing group of people.

“We’ve been testing here (in Greaves Reserve) for a number of years.

“It’s essentially a matter of convenience with enough space to do the testing and being close to Monash University in Clayton.”

Fromberg predicts driverless technology on Australian public roads in the not-distant future.

“Given how farTesla and other manufacturers have gone, I think it’s very close.

“The technology is basically there. It’s a matter of when there’s consumer acceptance of it and legislation is in place.”

40¢ Inc. GST DANDENONG /DandenongJournal @StarJournal_SE dandenong.starcommunity.com.au Tuesday, 19 March, 2024
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Team Monash Motorsport with the driverless M23 in testing at Greaves Reserve, Dandenong. 395160 Pictures: GARY SISSONS Test driver Dillon Maxwell puts the M23 through its paces. 395160 Spoiler alert on the testing track. 395160

Recycling tender deferred Hoarding concern

A hoarder’s property stacked to the rooftop remains an eyesore and fire-risk for more than two decades despite regular complaints from neighbours.

The Noble Park home’s front and back yards are piled and packed with materials including an oil heater tank, roller doors, bikes and a bus with a dinghy on top.

Items are even piled on the garage roof, with an alleged illegal building structure shedding timber into a neighbour’s yard.

The exasperated neighbours, Ruth and Fred, are a couple in their 90s who have lived at their home since the 1960s.

They first complained to Greater Dandenong Council about the unsightly mounds in 2011 and it remains very much unresolved.

It makes Ruth feel like she’s in “a mad comedy show” and is “sick of the excuses”.

In the past, the council had made visits, sent letters and notices to the owner which resulted in a partial and temporary clean-up, she said.

But the alleged fire and vermin risk has continued largely unabated.

She’s worried about the ramshackle timber scaffolding that towers over their fenceline, as well as the safety of the occupier in his 70s who scales ladders to compile his collection.

“He says he had a permit to put a second storey on his house. I want that horrible mess taken off the fence.

“We have put up with roller doors, plastic crates, bikes and other rubbish next to us for years - the ‘construction’ was the last straw.

“His hoarding shouldn’t impact our lives - and the rest of our neighbourhood for that matter.”

Meanwhile Ruth was informed by Fire Rescue Victoria that the property was being added to its Hoarding Notification System so fire crews were aware of the “increased fuel load”.

FRV advised her to consider interconnected smoke alarms at her home and to ensure she had an emergency evacuation plan.

Greater Dandenong Council says it has a “long history” with the hoarder dating back to 2004.

“Over the past two decades we have worked with the owner to address a number of concerns,” a spokesperson said.

However, the issue has not yet been identified as a “hoarding concern” for the council’s public health team.

“This property has not to date been identified as a hoarding concern by Council’s Public Health team.

“The Public Health team becomes involved when all other avenues have been exhausted – this includes action under planning legislation, building legislation, or under Council’s Local Laws as an unsightly or overgrown property.

“The issue of hoarding is complex and multi-layered, and each case is unique. They often involve mental health issues and require patience, flexibility and understanding.”

In response to a councillor’s question at a meeting in January, a council officer stated that Greater Dandenong was “resolving” a hoarding case in Springvale South.

It would be “used as an example to develop a procedure to deal with hoarding properties”.

“These are difficult and delicate situations that take many months of effort and resources from Council to resolve.

“We request the patience of the neighbours and the wider community during the coming months.”

Clinical psychologist Catherine Madigan said it was a “slow process” to treat extreme hoarding, which was often a complex mental condition. It can be underlined by depression, ADHD or perhaps growing up in poverty.

Cognitive behavioural therapy was available to treat hoarding disorders. However, only up to 10 sessions are subsidized by Medicare and very few psychologists bulk-bill.

Anti-depressant, ADHD and anti-anxiety medications may also help.

“Medication alone is not going to address the issue but might put them in a better state of mind.”

For the collector, the ‘junk’ may look like useful potential treasures for making arts and crafts.

Often when they’re told to clean up, it never happens, Madigan says.

“If they have got so much mess, it would be very overwhelming to clean up. The person wouldn’t know where to start.”

Madigan says forcibly removing the “stuff” and “throwing it in a skip” doesn’t address the problem.

“It’s traumatizing the person, they get angry and hostile and they go and collect another bunch of stuff. And you’re back to where you’ve started.

“Sometimes when people are given the right sort of encouragement and support, you can get them to get rid of some of their stuff.

“We’re not discounting the neighbours’ perspective but we want a long-term solution. A slow but steady approach rather than going in there and throwing their stuff out.”

Award winning AI app good for the mind

A Haileybury student has won a national technology award with an AI-inspired chatbot to improve teenage mental health.

Milana Kumykova, 15, was announced as the winner in the 2023 Young ICT Explorers competition Year 7-8 division.

The comp encourages students to solve real-world problems using technology.

Milana spent a year developing Purple, a chatbot that provides adolescents with credible mental health information.

It also analyses user data to link young people to positive experiences that can lift their mental health.

Purple also uses new technology to create Violet, a virtual friend that users can talk to through their microphone or camera.

“The inspiration for my project came from a personal interest in creating an AI app to help my generation deal with the challenges being thrown at them,” Milana says.

“Personally, I don’t always find it very comfortable to go to adults or to speak out when I feel pressure, and the anonymity and security of Purple provides other people facing struggles in life with an outlet.

“They know their data is safe and that nobody on the other side of the screen is judging them.”

Milana began developing Purple at the end of 2022 as part of Haileybury’s Digitech Explorers and StartUp programs.

She is a previous Middle School STEM Captain at Haileybury and is passionate about

technology and its potential.

“I’ve been interested in coding since I was 7, working my way through coding challenges for beginners and slowly leaning into other programming languages.

“I joined Digitech Explorers at Haileybury at the first opportunity in Year 7 and I’ve immersed myself in as many STEM opportunities as possible.

“I’ve always known that I want to be a doctor and developing Purple has only increased my interest in working in the medical field.

“After Haileybury I plan to study medicine and endocrinology so I can become a specialist one day.”

Haileybury has competed in the Young ICT Explorers awards since 2015 and has won consecutive national titles over the past five years.

“The competition is a fantastic opportunity for students to investigate a variety of technologies, develop their programming and technical skills and help solve real problems,” says Damien Del Vecchio, Coordinator of Digitech Explorers at Haileybury’s Keysborough campus.

“As a result, students feel a huge sense of pride and satisfaction that they’re helping to create a better world by using their knowledge and skills in a meaningful way.”

Amid a flurry of unanswered questions, Greater Dandenong Council has deferred a decision on a $4.38 million recycling tender.

At a 11 March meeting, councillors raised questions over the proposed twoyear deal with Re.Cycle Operations to receive co-mingled recyclables.

Cr Rhonda Garad noted the “enormous spend” of the contract.

She asked how the council would monitor the sorting, processing and marketing of recyclables by Re.Cycle, as well as the volumes of waste diverted from landfill.

Garad also asked how the council had done “due diligence” to avoid a repetition of the “problems” of its present contractor Polytrade Recycling.

Polytrade was heavily fined by the Federal Court last year for underpaying workers on refugee visas at Dandenong and Hallam in 2018 and 2019.

It was acquired by Re.Cycle’s parent company Re.Group in 2022.

City Futures executive director Sanjay Manivasagasivam deferred his response to that question.

But he said Re.Cycle scored highly for their “relevant experience”, social procurement, capability and being locally based in Dandenong South.

The council would monitor volumes of recyclables diverted from landfill, he said.

Re.Cycle had been a “proven and capable contractor” that provided a “very good service” to the council, according to a council officer’s report on the tender.

It also offered the “lowest” tender price per tonne – a saving on the current rate paid by the council.

According to the report, the Australian-owned Re.Cycle was established in 2021. Its depot in Dandenong South could handle more than 450 tonnes of recyclables a day.

It employed people from social enterprises at their depots and were committed to also hiring the “long term unemployed and migrant, refugees and asylum seekers”.

A tender proposal from Cleanaway was reportedly more expensive, but scored marginally better for “non-price” points such as capability and capacity to do the service.

Cr Bob Milkovic questioned Re.Cycle’s three-year track-record compared to Cleanaway, which dated back to 1979.

Chief executive Jacqui Weatherill warned councillors that responding to the queries in public could breach tendering requirements.

On her advice, councillors voted to defer the decision for two weeks to allow for a private briefing.

2 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 19 March, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au NEWS
Items are stacked on the roof of the hoarder’s property in Noble Park. 392355 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS Precarious timber scaffolding looms above a hapless neighbour’s fenceline. Milana has won a national technology award for her AI app that helps improve teen mental health.

Lives remain in ‘limbo’

Asylum seekers remain in limbo despite the Federal Government’s ‘fast-tracked’ permanent visa pathway introduced last year.

Dandenong-based Tamil couple Kumaran and Kulali fled from civil war in Sri Lanka after Kumaran and his friends were shot by security forces in the island’s north.

Bullets remain in Kumaran’s body but he survived. His friends perished.

Now with a toddler Kuyili, the couple’s claim for a safe haven in Australia has stalled for 12 years despite their insistence that it’s not safe for them to return.

“He thought Australia was a democratic country and would help them,” refugee advocate Wicki Wickiramasingham says.

“But it is going very, very badly.”

In February 2023, the Federal Government announced fast-tracked Resolution of Status visas for refugees languishing on temporary visas.

By January this year, 14,390 RoS visas were granted, with about a quarter (5685) of applications remaining.

Temporary partner visas and permanent partner visas were also granted in greater numbers as the Government cleared what it said was an inherited 1 million visa backlog.

Despite the fanfare, 12,000 asylum seekers were not eligible for the RoS visas. Like Kumaran and Kulali, they remain in limbo.

Things got markedly worse when the couple’s rights to work and study in Australia were suddenly cancelled in 2018. Those rights have not been restored.

Kumaran had been saving to start an enterprise in Australia. Meanwhile Kulali’s childcare studies was also brought to a halt.

With their savings exhausted, they depend on donations from various charities and friends.

They’ve moved between five rental homes in 12 years, barely able to pay rent, utilities and Kuyili’s medical expenses.

Living on charity is demeaning for Kumaran, the former businessman who employed up to 70 people in video-photo, jewellery, poultry and timber enterprises in Sri Lanka.

“When I first got here, I had a work permit and built savings,” Kumaran said. “But when I lost the work permit, no one gave us work.

“We’ve lost all our savings. In the past two years, I’ve sold all our things one by one.”

Even so, Kumaran insists life would be too perilous in Sri Lanka.

“The worries are here but over there, you can’t sleep peacefully. You don’t know whether you’ll be alive or not.”

Capital projects ‘blowout’ risk for budget

Greater Dandenong Council faces risky capital project blowouts contributing to a “perfect storm of attacks” ahead of its 2024-’25 budget, say councillors.

The Dandenong Wellbeing Centre, an allelectric aquatic project is one of the biggest projects Council has worked on, replacing the 40-year-plus Oasis pool.

However, the project cost is set to cross the $98 million mark in another increase from its initial $89 million estimate.

According to councillor Sean O’Reilly financial contracts and interest rates were different when the council committed to some large capital projects in the past.

“The budget is limited. So if the DWC figures blowout, something else must suffer.

“The DWC project is the largest by far this council has ever considered and we’re still waiting to get a more accurate estimate of what that willcost,”hesaid.“Nowwiththechangeineconomic climate and costs of money, it’ll be extra challenging to deliver the capital projects slated and maintain services.”

Accordingtoacouncilspokesperson,it’snot “appropriate to discuss cost of estimates” while the procurement process is underway.

“Council has an ambitious pipeline of major capitalprojects,includingtheDandenongWellbeing Centre, the Keysborough South CommunityHubandtheDandenongCommunityHub.

“Rapid escalations in construction costs will

pose a challenge for Council and all local governments in coming years.

“We also need to consider the costs of responding to more frequent extreme weather events. “Big storms not only create expensive clean-up work but can take a toll on our roads and other assets.”

While the Federal Government has pledged $17 million towards DWC, the council is still lobbying the State Government for a $20 million contribution. Without the latter, it leaves the Council with at least $81 million to find.

“All Victorian councils are challenged in a context of rate capping, with limited avenues to raise more revenue. We appreciate that our communityisalsofacedwithseverecost-of-living pressures,” the council spokesperson said.

“In this context, Council is preparing a measured, responsible budget for 2024-25 that will enable us to continue to deliver valuable servicesandfacilities,whilemaintaininglongterm financial sustainability.

“A draft budget is expected to be released for community feedback in mid-May.”

A report published by Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has rankedVictoria as the worst performing state in the nation.

Victoria has the highest tax burden, state debt burden and energy price increases in the institute’s State Economic Scoreboard 2024 report published onTuesday 12 March.

Given the financial debt burden of the State Government, it would be highly unlikely for the

Council to receive state funds for DWC, according to councillor Rhonda Garad.

Cr Garad has had major concerns around the construction cost of DWC and its energy efficiency costs but was outvoted by colleagues.

“It’s too much money for a local council particularly at this time when we have a perfect storm of attacks on our budget from massive cost shifting from the State Government.

“To continue restrictions on our income with rate capping, all councils are under big financial strain. “For the State government to stretch themselves so much financially has an obvious financial impact on councils because that’s why we’re getting a lot of the cost shifting and which is why we’re not getting any grants contributing to our major projects.”

While the council works towards an exact cost figure for DWC, Cr Garad says they need to re-visit the drawing board and cut down the costs to $60-65 million.

On the other hand, Greater Dandenong Council will lose a bit over $4 million in revenue according to Councillor Garad because of the new waste guidelines introduced by Local Government Minister Melissa Horne, effective from 1 March. “I personally fear for the future oflocalgovernment,itsfinancialcapacityisgetting narrower, services and standards of public service that people expect will be reduced over time,” Cr Garad said.

While she believes funding for capital projects may not directly impact Council’s 2024-’25 budget, it will have a long-lasting ripple effect.

Wickiramasingham says Sri Lankan authorities can’t be trusted to welcome the family home.

“The Government says that in the current situation you can go back. But I say it’s dangerous for them. After seven days, they’ll disappear.”

Another local Tamil, Sunashanmudam, waited 10 years until he was granted a permanent visa by Australia in 2023.

In September, he paid $23,000 for familyreunion visas for his wife and three children to join him from Sri Lanka.

Six months on, he’s heard nothing from the immigration department.

In the meantime, he’s spent a month in hospital after a recent heart attack.

He’s been dependent on friends to help him – he says he needs his family more than ever to care for him during his recovery.

Another distraught father is Murali, who hasn’t seen his family of two children since leaving Sri Lanka in 2011.

He has already saved money for family reunion visas for his loved ones, and still sends money to support them when he can.

But under his bridging visa, he can’t apply for them to join him in Australia.

Every three months, he has to re-apply for his visa. He has work rights but with such an uncertain visa status, no one will employ him, he says.

Even after a successful appeal to the Federal Court, he continues to be denied a five-year temporary protection visa.

Murali says he’s “burning” all the time inside, unable to sleep and dressed. He prays that “all good things will come with time”.

“I’m laughing (on the outside) but I’m not laughing.”

Wickiramisingham says he knows of more than 10 other cases like Murali.

He says family reunion visas are exorbitantly priced for humanitarian entrants to Australia. Not only that but the family members are denied social security for several years.

Police raid storage facility

A tobacco store and a storage facility in Keysborough have been raided by police as part of an investigation into largescale illegal tobacco importation.

Police allegedly seized hundreds of packets and cartons of cigarettes, 10000 nicotine pouches, 10 kilograms of loose tobacco and more than 1000 vapes from the two premises as well as a home in Truganina on Wednesday 13 March.

A 35-year-old Truganina man was arrested and charged with possessing tobacco products with an intent to defraud the revenue and with committing an indictable offence on bail.

Police say he was previously charged in relation to the investigation. He faced court and was bailed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 9 July.

The raids were part of Operation Tyers involving Victoria Police, the AFP and members of the Australian Border Force’s Illicit Tobacco Taskforce.

Last month six men were arrested in Melbourne as part of the investigation.

Yarraman Ward result to be announced

The winner of the Yarraman Ward by-election was expected to be revealed on Monday 18 February.

The Victorian Electoral Commission was expected to announce City of Greater Dande-

nong’s councillor 10 days after postal voting closed on 8 February.

“As there was the Labor Day public holiday on Monday 11 March, the extended postal vote receipt period was pushed back to 12 pm Mon-

day 18 March (when normally in a council postal election it would be the Friday following the close of voting),” aVEC spokesperson stated.

For the outcome and post-results coverage, go to dandenongstarcommunity.com.au

Police alleged some of the men work for freight and transport logistics companies in trusted positions, and that several of the men may have links to a Melbourne-based Middle Eastern organised crime syndicate.

It is alleged several of the men have links to a Melbourne-based Middle Eastern organised crime syndicate, suspected of being behind a series of illicit tobacco imports into Victoria.

dandenong.starcommunity.com.au Tuesday, 19 March, 2024 | STAR JOURNAL 3
NEWS
Kumaran and Kulali with their toddler Kuyili. 393752 Picture: GARY SISSONS

Snapshots of an alien time

A

adventure for Andrew Rovenko and his 4-year-old daughter Mia. Craft was one of the family’s most popular pastimes in the long hours at home during Melbourne’s sixth lockdown in late 2021.

Picking up on Mia’s love of the planets, stars and outer space, her mother – a theatre costume designer - made Mia an astronaut helmet out of papier mache.

Rovenko then took photos of his helmeted daughter in nearby abandoned places, beaches and familiar spots like Moorabbin Air Museum and the former Atari ‘UFO building’ in Clayton.

“The pandemic brought quiet time to everything. Even in those two hours a day to explore the world, there was no traffic and nothing over-crowded.

“We explored these strange, weird places.”

His Instagram photos drew instant acclaim from friends and strangers near and far.

Rovenko at first thought that people were just desperate for a “feel-good story” at the time.

“A lot of people saw themselves as Mia going against the world. That lonely figure, that world we are navigating feels alienating sometimes.

“People reflect back to their childhood memories and how they imagined they used to be.”

And so begun a wildly popular ‘Rocketgirl’ series, with a glittering array of exhibitions and awards such as Australian Photography Magazine Photographer of the Year, Tokyo International Foto Awards and Prix de la Photographie Paris.

“It’s been over two years since the project became real and I still can’t believe it.

“It was not meant for fame. It was a family thing.

“It’s a great thing to see people get inspired by something you created. I’m a bit shy but at the same time, so many people shared so many nice words.”

Rovenko has now released a self-published book The Rocketgirl Chronicles which includes the photo series as well as Dandenong Journal’s most famous page-1 splash on the 1966 Westall UFO mystery.

Rovenko first saw the Journal page in a public library window – and it was like a “perfect match” that added a layer of “historical context” to his work.

“It’s one of those Australian UFO stories that is famous. I couldn’t help but find that connection.

“There’s a bit of nostalgia for the days when people remember being young.”

As a child growing up in Ukraine, Rovenko had adored his grandfather’s camera, which he was never allowed to touch. It became like a “forbidden fruit”, he says.

“As kids when we’re not allowed to have something we gravitate towards it.

“(My grandfather) developed all the films himself and it exposed me to the medium and

the process.”

He has long collected “old-school” film cameras, which captured the nostalgic Rocketgirl series.

“I love the craft.

“Everything is becoming disposable and fast-paced – you don’t feel in the moment.

“But when you shoot with an old camera with light meters and manual focus, you are immersed in the moment.”

The colours are different through these an-

cient lenses, he says.

“You see the world the way it used to be seen 100 years ago. It’s like a time-machine in the way it transports you back into an older world.”

His go-to colour development lab was shut down during the pandemic, so he used a make-shift dark room in his laundry at the time.

He ordered colour development chemicals online and employed a sous vide stick for temperature control.

In a strange way, Rovenko misses the incubator-like Covid lockdowns.

“It wasn’t the best time in the world for any of us or all of us. I never thought I’d spend so much time at home – I used to spend so much time in the office.

“This gave me the opportunity to spend time with Mia and become good friends. You don’t usually have that opportunity.

“As humans, we tend to forget the bad things and stick with the good things.”

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Covid lockdown family project unlocked a poignant ‘Rocketgirl’
Andrew Rovenko loves the craft behind using large-format ‘old school’ cameras. Mia at the former Atari ‘UFO’ office in Clayton. 395414 Picture: ANDREW ROVENKO Andrew Rovenko’s ‘Caged’ portrait of daughter Mia outside Moorabbin Air Museum during Covid lockdown. Picture: ANDREW ROVENKO
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100 years ago

20 March 1924

Where will we put the Market?

The market question is a subject that has been under discussion for years and is one upon which residents appear to be almost equally divided. Such being the case, and in view of the importance of the problem, linked up as it is with the future prosperity and welfare of Dandenong, how is it to be ultimately settled? New arrivals in the town or persons living a distance from Dandenong – although having perhaps a business to attend to here each week in connection with the market – invariably say: “Near the railway station that’s where the market should be located.” But those are not the people to decide the question, for they have no responsibility in the matter. It is a matter that should be left to the ratepayers. A great deal of publicity has been given to the subject in these columns, and numerous correspondents have availed themselves of the opportunity of publishing their views. It is the intention of the Shire Council to remove the cattle market (currently in Lonsdale Street) to the site that was purchased years ago, for the purpose, which is at present used as a show ground by the Agricultural Society and as the local football ground. The Shire Council at their last meeting endorsed its previous decision to build cattle yards on the corner of Clow and Cleeland Streets.

50 years ago

19 March 1974

Mother lashes school

An irate mother of two technical school students has described the aluminium portable classroom at Springvale South Technical school as “hot boxes” and a disgrace to the Education Department. The mother said the classrooms

are set down in a 25-acre paddock at the corner of Henderson and Corrigan Rds Springvale South. “There is not one tree in the grounds and last week a 6ft snake was seen. The water is undrinkable and quite often the water is turned off during the day and the boys are sent home. They often wander the streets,especially students who have both parents working,” she said. “It’s not good enough. This is not a proper school at all. There are about 100 boys enrolled and there are five portables. One portable is used as a toilet block and another as an office.”

20 years ago

15 March 2004

UFO lights in Berwick

Two strange lights seen in the Berwick sky last week could have been an unidentified flying object, believes a Narre Warren family. There has been no explanation for the lights since. Melissa and Stacey Dagg were leaving a friend’s home in Centre Road last Monday about 10pm when two bright lights suddenly appeared in the sky. They were as big as streetlights at cloud height in the east. “We thought of every possible explanation, they paused in mid-air then went off to the left and went behind a cloud, came out again and then just vanished.”

5 years ago

18 March 2019

Congestion-Buster

During a 20-minute press conference, boom gates signals held up long lines of cars and trucks five times. You could say the bells are certainly tolling for the removal of South Gippsland Highway’s congested level crossing in Dandenong South. The State Government unveiled the intersection redesign – a road bridge clearing the rail line coupled with a new look, safer intersection at Princes Highway. It is expected to be completed by 2022.

FOCUS ON … MEDICALLY SPEAKING

Historic aged care wage rise delivers dignity

Large swathes of the aged care workforce will receive wage rises of between seven and 28 per cent delivering justice and dignity to them and the elderly residents they devote themselves to, says the Health Services Union (HSU).

“This is an historic improvement that will usher in a new era of decency and dignity in our aged care homes,” HSU National president, Gerard Hayes said.

“For the last decade aged care has been held together by the goodwill and commitment of a severely underpaid, insecurely employed workforce. Today those workers have won wage justice.”

The aged care work value case was lodged by the Health Services Union in the Fair Work Commission in November 2020.

It sought a 25 per cent increase to wages for all employees arguing that work had been undervalued because of its increasing complexity and its overwhelmingly feminised workforce.

At the end of 2022, the Fair Work Commission awarded an interim 15 per cent pay rise to approximately 240,000 direct care employees.

Last Friday that decision was updated. The improvement to pay will have a stark, material impact.

The hourly wage for direct care workers will increase between 18 and 28 per cent (inclusive of the previous 15 per cent).

Support services workers such as laundry hands, cleaners and food services assistants will increase by 6.8 per cent through a combination of increased wages and reclassification.

Work remains to lift the wages of support workers in areas such as admin and maintenance.

“These are life changing improvements,” Hayes said.

“They will allow the industry to retain workers which, as the Royal Commission noted, is absolutely essential to delivering continuity of care.

“When someone is dealing with a condition such as dementia, it is deeply reassuring

for them and their family to see the same carer.

“We acknowledge that people in administration and maintenance have not received the wage increase we pushed for. We will keep pushing and fighting to lift their wages.

“Most of the aged care workforce itself can now imagine and plan for fully fledged careers, where people can plan a life around their work and really commit to it.

“Many workers have subjected themselves to the edges of poverty and homelessness to work in this industry.

“Now they can care for the elderly and also provide for themselves and their family.”

Tuesday, 19 March, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au 12677459-AP12-24
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HAVE
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LOOKING BACK Compiled by Dandenong and District Historical Society
Picture: ON FILE Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams and the then-Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan at the site of the level crossing in 2019. The crossing has since been replaced by a road bridge on South Gippsland Highway, Dandenong South. 191372 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS
dandenong.starcommunity.com.au Tuesday, 19 March, 2024 | STAR JOURNAL 7 12663909-MP12-24

Dedication recognised

The Noble Park Community Centre held its own “legacy celebration” with contributors after its recent City of Greater Dandenong Australia Day Award.

After 18 years of service to the community, the hard work of groups of volunteers were recognised as NPCC’s annual community art show was awarded Outstanding Contribution to the Arts.

Home Affairs Minister and Hotham MP Clare O’Neil presented her own certificates to volunteers for their contribution on Friday 8 March.

Past mayor and now Mulgrave MP, Eden Foster also made the appearance along with deputy mayor Richard Lim and Councillor Sean O’Reilly.

The popular annual Noble Part Art Show showcases talents with no age limit or restrictions as they’re judged on their art with a chance to win cash prize.

“We don’t have a lot of funding but we’re still able to produce a show that supports first time exhibiters that’s like a launching pad for many to take a leap in the art work,” art show coordinator Shelly Kemp said.

Last year more than 1,300 members of the community walked through the doors at the art show over the weekend, which displayed artists aged between 3 and 96 years old.

“It provides a lot of encouragement to create and pursue their dreams to become professional artists.”

Ms Kemp says the award is an accumulation of the collective hard work over the years by the volunteers and also sponsors who’ve supported NPCC.

She has seen the positive changes of the organisation over the course.

“Over the past 15 years we have added so many new programs and a lot of what we do

are social and recreational and that plays an important role in our community.

“Apart from the fact that every single culture within Greater Dandenong is represented in our members, our aim moving forward would

Student Voice Shines

Giving students a voice is a critical component of building self confidence and empowering young people.

At Holy Family Primary School, student leaders have undertaken significant leadership training to ensure that they know their voice matters.

The students now lead tours at the open days. The students were taught how to make a good first impression. These skills assist their confidence and will be critical in the transition to secondary school and the workforce.

The students brainstormed all the things they believed were great at the school. Their list included: Great teachers, inclusive and welcoming, breakfast club, dance club, chess club and large soccer oval.

Feedback from the sessions extended to families, who commented that the students had gone home and spoken about the lessons. They enjoyed the opportunity to be heard and demonstrated pride in their school.

The school has followed up on suggestions from the students, and worked alongside the students to design new sporting tops, that the students will wear with pride as they compete at various sporting events throughout the year. The Dance Crew will also be getting new outfits that they will design as well.

Students regularly complete wellbeing surveys which provide the opportunity for all students to raise concerns and they are encouraged to identify two adults they trust in school. This is critical for child safety.

The students would love to show prospective families around at our next open days on April 23 and May 1. You can book places at www.hfdoveton.catholic.edu.au

be to include more people from the disability community.”

The centre is all about inclusivity and community through the range of programs from arts and crafts, wellness, and playgroup for

children to community programs such as practising English over a cup of tea.

The latest project is an accessible garden currently underway to include people with special needs.

8 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 19 March, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au
12676629-ET12-24 NEWS
ADVERTORIAL
Cr Richard Lim , Barbara, Sheila and Cecilia (Noble Park Community Centre Knitting Group), Clare O’Neil MP, Cr Sean O’Reilly and Eden Foster MP. 392545 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

“Breathtaking disregard”

A hit-run driver with a “horrific” record who killed a traffic controller and seriously injured another at a road works site in Carrum Downs has been jailed for more than a decade.

Jason Mark Ruscoe, 31, pleaded guilty at the Victorian County Court to culpable driving causing death, causing serious injury, disqualified driving and two counts of failing to assist after a car accident.

It was a “grave example” of culpable driving – “protracted, irresponsible and appalling”, sentencing judge Robyn Harper said on 14 March.

“With a driving record as horrific as yours, a tragedy of this magnitude was only a matter of time.

“Your leaving the scene after seeing (the victim) lying lifeless on the road was cowardly and callous and bespeaks a breathtaking disregard for human life.

“It was shameful conduct that is difficult to comprehend.”

Only out of jail 10 days earlier, Ruscoe was reported driving erratically and dangerously shortly before the crash on Hall Road about

7.15am on 9 November 2021.

This included crashing into the side of a parked ute and straying onto the wrong side of the road in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

It should have given Ruscoe “ample warning that a serious collision was likely”.

Despite several sets of road-works signs including ’40 ahead’, Ruscoe sped towards the traffic controllers in the closed right-hand lane at 97-105 km/h in his red Commodore.

Even after hitting the brakes, he was estimated to be travelling at least 75 km/h on impact.

Ruscoe fatally struck Timmy Rakei, crushing him between the back of his work ute and the Commodore and propelling him forward onto the road.

Shaun Kilmartin, who was outside on the ute’s passenger side, was also struck and suffered a broken leg. The workers’ ute was projected 17 metres into a median strip tree.

For several minutes, Ruscoe stayed in his car, talking on his phone. When he got out, he looked briefly behind him at the crash scene including Rakei lying on the road.

Instead of helping, Ruscoe – who was a dis-

qualified driver and on a community corrections order - walked away.

He burnt his clothing in Baxter Park to “distance himself” from his deadly act.

“Your flight from the scene further impeded police from taking blood samples from you,” Judge Harper said.

She noted that “Timmy Rakei was clearly a much-loved man whose death has impacted many people”. An innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time, she said.

Rakei’s partner told the court how their daughter still sends Rakei text messages “asking if he’s OK and if he misses her and tells him that she misses him”.

“I just cry reading the messages, especially because I know she’s waiting for that message to appear as ‘seen’ and we know that will never happen.”

An employer spoke of the “hole in the hearts of so many”.

The injured Kilmartin told of seeing his colleague dead on the road while fearing that he would also die and be unable to see his children again.

Judge Harper noted Ruscoe’s guilty plea

but found “absolutely nothing” in the way of remorse.

“You proffer no explanation for your offending, no explanation of how or why it happened and there is no evidence of any insight into your conduct.”

As an adult, Ruscoe had smoked and injected meth daily. And used heroin to “come down”.

In the past, he’d stated his offending was due to substance use but gave no such explanation in this case.

Ruscoe had been imprisoned for all but 52 weeks of the past 11 years.When out, he’d lived a “transient lifestyle” and abused drugs.

He was facing his 11th unlicensed driving charge, with priors for dangerous driving, drug and dishonesty offences.

With “poor” rehabilitation prospects, Ruscoe was told “hopefully the consequences of this matter will resonate with you”.

Ruscoe was jailed for up to 16 years and three months, while eligible for parole in 10-and-a-half years.

His term includes 644 days in pre-sentence detention.

SRL toxic soil in Dandenong not ruled out...

Contaminated soil from Suburban Rail Loop works could be taken to soil-treatment facilities “east of Melbourne”, according to the project’s authority.

Stage 1 of the twin-tunnel-rail project links Cheltenham to Box Hill, with possible contaminated soil expected to be unearthed near the former Highett Gasworks as well as a train stabling facility to be built on a former landfill in Heatherton

Acid sulphate soils, gases and vapours, contaminated groundwater or “any other hazardous materials” were potential issues.

The Suburban Rail Loop Authority responded to Star Journal’s recent story on Greater Dandenong councillors alarmed by the possibility of thousands of tonnes of toxic soil being dumped in Dandenong.

Whilst not specifically addressing the Dandenong question, the SRLA has confirmed that “any soil that cannot be reused” would be treated at appropriately licensed facilities in consultation with the EPA.

The facilities “could include approved sites in the east of Melbourne”.

“The vast majority of soil excavated on SRL East will be safe to reuse as part of SRL works or on other projects – we will work with contractors to identify the most appropriate way to recycle and manage soil safely,” a spokesperson said.

According to the project’s Environment Effects Statement, less than 5 per cent of the 3.5 million cubic metres of soil was likely to be contaminated. That’s up to 175,000

tonnes.

Toxic soil would be disposed in line with Environment Protection Authority Victoria and WorkSafe guidelines at “appropriately licensed facilities”.

The SRL project has been plagued by cost blowouts. The initial $50 billion projection has reportedly blown out to $216 billion for the first two stages between Cheltenham and Tullamarine airport.

The State Opposition, if elected in 2026, has pledged to halt the project. It also raised concerns about relocating “toxic and dangerous soil” near communities.

As reported last month, Greater Dandenong councillors Rhonda Garad and Jim Memeti say Dandenong, which is home to soil recycling facilities and Lyndhurst toxic landfill, should not become the SRL’s dumping ground.

They have also been outspoken on residents in Dandenong South and Keysborough South being exposed to industrial pollution.

The SRL’s first stage includes six new underground stations and 26 kilometres of rail tunnels between Cheltenham and Box Hill. It is touted to open by 2036.

According to the SRLA, residents in Greater Dandenong and surrounding municipalities would be able to access an extra 100,000 jobs within an hour on public transport.

An example is a student could travel from Dandenong railway station to Deakin University in 28 minutes, via a train swap in Clayton.

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NEWS
Sir William Fry Reserve in Cheltenham - one of the future Suburban Rail Loops work sites. 386465

WHAT’S ON

A Tra$hy Dreamland

Join artist Moon Girle as she unveils her playful installation as part of A Tra$hy Dreamland exhibition. Featuring refreshments, interactive art and fun. Exhibition on display until Saturday 8 June.

· Tuesday 19 March, 6pm-8pm at Walker Street Gallery and Arts Centre, cnr Walker and Robinson streets, Dandenong.

Friends of Red Cross

Hallam Friends of the Red Cross invites you for a chat or a cupper. We are a very friendly group of people, who like to chat and help people in the community. By raising funds to assist people in the community who need assistance.

· third Tuesday of the month (next 19 March), 10.30am at the Hallam Community Learning Centre, 56 Kays Avenue Hallam. Details: Robert Read, 0455 566 570.

Come and try basketball

Dandenong Basketball Association and Greater Dandenong Council will be running free basketball sessions every Wednesday in March. Sessions are 4.30pm-5.15pm - Aussie Hoops for ages 5-10; 5.15pm-6pm - Skills session for ages 11-18; 6pm-7pm - Pick-up game for all ages.

· Wednesdays 20 and 27 March at the multiuse court, George Street, Dandenong. Free event, register at greaterdandenong.vic.gov. au/greater-dandenong-council/events/comeand-try-basketball-program

Harmony Day

Join multicultural seniors groups for a Harmony Day celebration of dancing, diverse range of foods, music and harmony.

· Thursday 21 March, from 10am at John Pandazopoulos Hall, 78 Power Road, Doveton.

Keysborough’s Big Picnic

Free activities for all ages, including live music, food trucks and stalls, roving performers, baby-animal nursery, sports and games and annual Easter egg hunt. Bring your pet along and compete in our Pet Competition. Also bring your picnic blankets, chairs and picnic baskets and spend the day relaxing in the park.

· Sunday 24 March, 11am-4pm at Frederick Wachter Reserve, 133-155 Kingsclere Avenue, Keysborough.

That Made Me Laugh, That Made Me Wonder

Join us for a fun morning sharing poems, jokes, limericks and other reading material over a cup of coffee in homely setting. All welcome.

· Monday 25 March, 10.30am–11.30 am at The Open Door, 110 Ann St, Dandenong. Gold coin donation welcome. Bookings essential: 9791 8664 or Theopendoor@ssjg.org.au Neighbourhood Watch public forum

Greater Dandenong Neighbourhood Watch safety information session with Detective Sergeant John Curnow (38 years in Victoria Police, worked in Armed Robbery Squad, Dandenong CIU, Southern Metro Crime Squad) and Dectective Sergeant Katie Johnston (16 years in Victoria Police, including Springvale police and South Metro Region Metro Squad). Light supper provided.

· Wednesday 27 March, 7pm for 7.30pm start at Paddy O’Donoghue Centre, 18-34 Buckley Street, Noble Park. (Ample parking rear of centre off Frank Street).

Senior activities

Keysborough & District Multicultural Senior Citizens Inc is an over 55s club with bingo on first, second and fourth Tuesday of the month ($3 entry and $1.50 per bingo book), live concerts with professional entertainers on third and fifth Tuesday of the month, line dancing on Wednesdays ($3 en-

Paddle for Patterson clean-up

Join Parks Victoria and partners for the inaugural Paddle for Patterson community clean up. Jump into one of our kayaks, collecting a masive amount of litter nestled in the reed beds from recent stormwater inflows to prevent it from polluting the Bay. Includes activities, stalls, a community BBQ, and inspiring speeches unveiling the five-year Lower Dandenong Creek Litter Action Plan.

· Saturday 23 March, 9.30am-1pm at National Water Sports Centre, 5 River End Road, Bangholme. Free event. Register at ecocentre.com/events/event/paddle-forpatterson/

try), Thursday ballroom dancing lessons (12.30pm1pm) and ballroom dancing (1pm-3pm, $3 entry).

Entertainers include Col Perkins (19 March),Marcia Rae (16 April) and Rob Foenander (30 April).

· 1pm-3pm Tuesdays,Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Rowley Allan Reserve 352 Cheltenham Road Keysborough. Tea and coffee provided. Membership for remainder of F/Y 23/24 until 31 May is $5. Details: Julie, 0428 561 694.

Trees: A Canopy Extraordinaire

An exhibition that celebrates, reflects and recognises the significance of trees in the local landscape over time and the timber industry that grew the local community. It marks 80 years since community forest planting began at Greaves Reserve, Dandenong in 1944. Features artwork, local historical society collections and the council’s civic and cultural heritage collection.

· Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 10am-2pm from 28 March-19 July at Benga, Heritage Hill Museum and Historic Gardens, 66 McCrae St, Dandenong. Free event.

Awareness Meditation

Meditation brings stillness, harmonises body & soul & connects to meaning.

· Mondays (during school term), 2.30pm–3.30pm followed by a cuppa at The Open Door, 110 Ann Street, Dandenong; suggested gold-coin dona-

tion. Details: 9791 8664 or Theopendoor@ssjg. org.au

Adult Exercise

Improve fitness and energy levels for good health and wellbeing at this adult exercise group class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is a self-paced, gentle aerobics class suitable for all levels.

· Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9.30am at Jan Wilson Community Centre, Halton Road, Noble Park North; $5 per session. No registrations required. Details: 8571 1436 or communityfacilities@cgd. vic.gov.au

Fun for retirees

New members from Dandenong North and Noble Park are sought by the Waverley Gardens Combined Probus Club. In addition to other activities, club members also meet for coffee & listen to a guest speaker.

· last Tuesday of the month 9.45am-noon at Southern Community Centre, 27 Rupert Dr, Mulgrave (near Police Rd). Details: Don,9560 6046. Meditation and positive thinking

Learn how to make your mind your best friend through open-eyed meditation. Led by Bhavani Padmanabhan, these free sessions are open to all. Presented by Bakhtar Community Organisation and The Brahma Kumaris Organisation.

· Saturdays 2pm at 23-47 Gunns Road, Hallam. Registrations: 9703 2555 or 0403 551 596.

Weekly badminton

Adults welcome (Mondays 7pm-9pm) and ladies and retired (Wednesdays 12pm-2.30pm).

· Hallam Badminton Club, Frawley Road Recreation Reserve; $5.

Yoga Clsses

For all ages, experience and abilities. Mats and other equipment available. No Booking required.

· Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9.30am-10.30am at Noble Park Community Centre, Memorial Drive, Noble Park; $5 per class or $40 for 10 classes.

Details: programs@nobleparkcc.org.au or 9547

5801

Mindfulness meditation

Held weekly for people to learn the basic skills of concentration. Meditation may benefit people with spiritual and mental health support.

· Thursdays, 2.30pm-3pm at Dandenong Hospital’s Sacred Space, 135 David Street, Dan-

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Free legal help for all

A free legal help service for workplace sexual harassment has been launched, with appointments opening at Dandenong Library.

South-East Monash Legal Service lawyer Rohan Sethi is at the library one morning a week for free legal advice appointments.

It’s part of the SMLS’s Advocacy Against Sexual Harassment (AASH) program to combat under-reporting of workplace sexual harassment.

Fewer than one in five people (18 per cent) who experience sexual harassment in the workplace make a report or complaint, Rohan says.

Only 4 per cent see a lawyer.

“Since the AASH program has launched the number of enquiries and cases are a much higher than usual response for intakes.”

Confidential free legal assistance is also given to low-income workers experiencing vulnerability or disadvantage.

SMLS recently represented a young woman at conciliation.

“She demonstrated courage and resolve in sticking to her walkaway figure and insisting on the other party paying not just damages but also demonstrating accountability.

“We negotiated a substantial amount in terms of general damages, apology and the other party agreeing to get anti-discrimination and sexual harassment training for all staff to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination at the workplace.”

According to SafeWork Australia, one in

three people (33 per cent) - including 41 per cent of women - say they have experienced sexual harassment at work in the last five years.

Young women and women from a culturally diverse background are particularly at greater risk.

Women of CALD backgrounds report experiencing sexual harassment at twice the rate of the surveyed population.

“Our team has seen a number of young people coming forward with complaints of workplace sexual harassment, including clients under the age of 18,” Rohan said.

The AASH program is free and confidential. Details: 9545 7400 or 9038 8002 between 9am4.30pm, or info@smls.com.au Lawyer

1.

2. Limit Exposure to Negative News: While it’s important to stay informed, consuming too much negative news can contribute to feelings of anxiety and helplessness. Limit your exposure to distressing news stories.

3. Focus on What You Can Control: Accept that there are many things in the world that are beyond your control and focus your

MESSAGE OF HOPE

energy on the things you can control, such as your attitude, actions, and responses to situations.

4. Engage in Self-Care: Make self-care a priority by engaging in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul such as exercise, meditation, hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or simply taking breaks.

Surround Yourself with Positivity: Surround yourself with positive people who uplift and support you. Cultivate relationships with individuals who share your values and encourage you to be the best version of yourself.

Practice Mindfulness: Stay present in the moment and practice mindfulness to help you stay grounded amidst chaos. Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or body scans, can help you manage stress and maintain a sense of calm.

7. Realistic Expectations: Avoid setting unrealistic expectations for yourself or others, as this can lead to disappointment and frustration. Instead, set achievable goals and celebrate your progress along the way.

8. Find Meaning and Purpose: Identify activities or causes that give your life meaning and purpose. Engaging in activities that align with your values can help you find fulfillment and perspective, even in the midst of chaos.

9. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to reach out for support from friends, family, or mental health professionals if you’re struggling to maintain a positive outlook. Talking to someone can provide you with perspective and help you navigate difficult emotions.

10. Practice Compassion and Kindness: Finally, be kind to yourself and others. Show compassion towards yourself and those around you, recognizing that everyone is dealing with their own challenges and struggles.

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help deal with chaos
Williams, member of Greater Dandenong Interfaith Network May I suggest some ways to maintain a positive outlook while dealing with chaos:
Forge a positive outlook to
By Mehtap
reflect on
Practice Gratitude: Take time each day to
the things you’re grateful for, no matter how small. Gratitude can shift your focus from what’s going wrong to what’s going right in your life.
NEWS
Rohan Sethi. 392903
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At

grades has been a key feature of his leadership.

“I would say he’s been the best coach I’ve seen,” Rahoul Pankhania said.

“I appreciate his inclusiveness and he has that enthusiasm and drive, and he has really

put in.

“He cares about the people around the club - having that personality and his skill and competitiveness is what we want.”

Suppree missed a few early games as he recovered from a knee injury and never quite hit his straps on-field, averaging 16 with the stick, but formed a balanced leadership combination with skipper Liam Hard.

“He has been someone who has fully committed to the role and the rest,” Hard said.

“He’s the first one to training, he runs the show (during the week) and lets me do my thing on a Saturday.

“I hardly talk at training, he does all the drills and everything else so we’ve got a good little thing going.”

Suppree attributes the rise to Turf 2 to an accumulation of the club’s hard work.

“We’ve worked our arses off for the last couple of years and we finally got the result we wanted today which was awesome,” Suppree said.

“It’s a very tight young group of people together.

“It’s a great place to be around and everyone who has bought in has loved it and doesn’t want to leave which comes from the people

which are around the club.”

Hard agreed that the win was a testament to the club, and points to the rise to Turf 2 as being crucial to take the club to the next level.

I’m relieved and stoked – we really needed this one,” he said.

“I didn’t want to think about going up to Turf 2 today because we just needed to get it done.

“I’ve got a few guys lined up to recruit who said Turf 3 wasn’t very appealing but Turf 2 makes it a bit easier to get there and it’s massive for the club.”

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Nick Suppree (left) celebrates the premiership with bowler Michael Klonaridis and 12th man Jake Robertson. Nick Suppree with his premiership medallion. 393915 Pictures: ROB CAREW

Thunder strikes in Derby

A 2-1 victory away from home saw Dandenong Thunder shake off a controversial week for the club and maintain a stranglehold in the Dandenong Derby, downing cross-town rivals Dandenong City in the National Premier League (NPL) on Friday night.

The Memeti Cup remains draped in Thunder red and black, stretching their unbeaten run over City to 11 matches.

Stunning conditions greeted the two sides as a balmy Autumn evening offered a picturesque sunset over the Valley before kickoff.

Despite City doing much of the attacking in the opening stages, with one thrust seeing a double-save from Pierce Clark in the Thunder goal, it was Thunder who opened the scoring through Wade Dekker in the 13th minute.

The veteran needed only a sniff of an opportunity and pounced on some lax defending from the home side.

A throw-in saw the ball launched deep into Thunder’s attacking area, and a poor clearance from Kenny Athiu failed to alleviate the pressure on his defenders.

Mersim Memeti won the ball back in his own half, and the ball was whipped out wide to Jay Romanovski left alone on the right hand side.

Jack Webster put out that fire, only for Birkan Kirdar to light another with a shot from distance.

Giannikopoulos blocked that, but the ball took flight, drifting perfectly into Dekker’s airspace for a right-foot volley nestled into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Having broken the deadlock, Thunder began to swarm the City defenders like a pack of hyenas on wounded prey, pressuring the ball carrier at every turn.

Dekker, Sulemani and Romanovski and Kirdar buzzed, hunted and stalked, with City’s desire to play the ball from deep in defence

bringing them unstuck.

In a huge blow for the home side, Jacob Alexander’s return only lasted 25 minutes before he was substituted out of the game with a lower leg injury.

The defender had given City a real spark as an attacking threat down the left-hand side of the pitch and they missed his drive in his absence, seen on crutches after the match.

It was Thunder’s press that resulted in their second goal before half time, as Kirdar gave his side a 2-0 cushion.

City’s clearance from a corner only reached half way and was sent right back into the danger zone by Thunder defenders.

The ball found Sulemani deep, who beat his first defender but then lost the ball and he shaped to strike with his right boot.

The loose ball spilled to a sprinting Kirdar on the right, who sizzled a shot low across the face of John Hall with his first touch and celebrated with the Thunder faithful on the hill.

Down two at half time, City was going to be forced to draw on the resilience that fuelled last season’s campaign if they were to maintain their unbeaten run at home.

With the returning Daniel Alessi partnering Memeti at the heart of defence, City’s forward thrusts looked hopeful rather than organised, despite possessing more of the ball after half time.

Athiu, their talisman up front, was hardly given any space all night, as his teammates began to take long shots out of hope of penetrating Clark’s goal.

Reward for possession came in the 80th minute through last season’s leading scorer Damian Iaconis.

A shot from Jay Lino was saved by Clark off his line, the parry falling perfectly for Iaconis who put the ball into an open net off his quad.

City suddenly had a spark and made Thunder defend strenuously for the final 10 minutes as the visitors appeared to tire late in the contest.

Iaconis had the best of the chances to level the scores in stoppage time but could not convert on a golden opportunity.

In a near carbon copy of his successful attempt on goal just minutes earlier, he found himself in the right place at the right time after another Clark save, but couldn’t control the ball at speed, putting it wide of the goal mouth.

With the clock on the digital scoreboard stopping at 90 minutes, only the referee was aware of how much of the six minutes of added time had elapsed, making for a nervous finale for Thunder supporters.

The final few minutes saw Clark made a handful more saves, with the dying stages of the match halted by an offside flag close to his goal.

The referee’s final whistle elicited thumps on the advertising boards from Thunder fans as players joined them on the sidelines to sing the club song.

Manager Adam Piddick was proud of his side’s work rate and ability to hold on to the lead throughout the contest, crediting Clark’s double save in the opening minutes as setting the tone for the match.

Thunder heads to Keilor Downs to face Green Gully next week with City travelling to Moreland.

Bucks overcome the odds to be champions once again

Buckley Ridges are champions of the Dandenong District Cricket Association’s Turf 1 competition for the ninth time after a 64-run win over Springvale South on Sunday afternoon’s grand final.

Two seasons of heartbreak are long in the rear view mirror the Bucks, vanquishing the demons of grand finals past against the Bloods in comprehensive fashion at Arch Brown Reserve.

Asked to bat first on Saturday morning by Bloods skipper Ryan Quirk, the pressure was on Springvale South to maximise the new ball.

Yoshan Kumara removed the in-form Jake Cronin for just three, slashing a cut shot to Quirk at gully, and when Jackson Sketcher had Josh Holden caught in the ring in his first over for 33, the Bloods had the two openers back in the sheds within 11 overs.

Roshane Silva joined Ben Wright at the crease, the Bucks’ two lynchpins and highest-regarded batters given their experience at international and first class level, respectively, and shaped as the big partnership.

Not much appeared to phase the pair as the Bloods turned to their dynamic duo of Blade Baxter and Jarryd Straker to settle in for another marathon spell, the tonic for a Buckley collapse in the previous contest two weeks prior.

Wright advanced down the wicket in Straker’s third over and lifted him over the midwicket boundary with a glorious on drive as the pair reached a 50-run stand, with Silva following suit in skipping down the wicket in the following overs.

They persisted with Straker and he was rewarded not long before the lunch interval, as Silva perished.

Silva showed deft footwork but a lofted drive brought him unstuck, Sketcher taking a difficult catch to his left at mid-off with the

Sri Lankan on 24.

The run rate fell dramatically after Silva’s wicket, as Jayson Hobbs took his time to settle at the crease.

On the stroke of lunch, Wright continued the assertive approach, but was given LBW attempting to sweep Straker on 57, leaving the Bloods cockahoop.

It was the breakthrough they wanted in the first session and combined with Silva’s removal, gave them the ascendency heading into the interval with the Bucks at 4/126.

Baxter’s spell came to an end following the interval after 21 overs with Sketcher proving a difference maker once again, striking in his second over as Troy Aust fell to a spectacular diving catch from Baxter at midwicket for 18, and Hobbs shortly after for a gritty 34.

Ishan Jayarathna upped the tempo but was cruelly run out in Baxter’s follow through, having not made his ground after backing-up on 30 in the 76th over.

Jayarathna looked set to launch in the final handful of overs, and in Michael Davies,

the only batter to have success against Straker in the qualifying final, he had a partner capable of clearing the boundary and making quick runs.

He holed-out on the long-on boundary to another excellent catch from Sketcher, for 29, leaving last week’s batting heroes in Westley Nicholas and Hussian Ali to make something from the final few overs.

A straight drive from Ali just cleared Sketcher’s leap on the straight boundary and a dropped catch from Kumara at the beginning of the final over helped the Bucks attain a minor foot-hold.

Little chances started to go their way, and finishing at 8/257, the Bucks finished the innings with their noses slightly infront.

The Bucks made critical early breakthroughs on Day two in the form of Mitch Forsyth and Brayden Sharp for nine apiece, bringing the dangerous duo of Quirk and Jordan Wyatt together at 2/45.

Quirk looked in as good touch as he had all season, driving the ball with confidence

and picking gaps in the field, but fell to leftarmer Farrid Khil, snaffled by Davies in the gully for 35.

Wyatt played streakily in an action-packed innings, freeing his hands and playing with the textbook cavalier approach that took him to Wookey Medal-winning success.

He was dropped three times, by Davies at cover, by Holden at deep point, and by Aust, and skied a ball to no-man’s land on the off side, with each occasion feeling like a huge shift in the contest.

But his reckless abandon only lasted an action-packed 22 deliveries, Khil the man once again with the huge scalp in the 25th over for just 30.

Baxter and Sketcher were tasked with rebuilding the innings and used a handful of overs to get themselves set.

Nicholas bowled the final over before lunch, his first of the day, and removed Sketcher for 10 off 39, with Buckley now eating lunch with their tails up, five wickets into the Springvale South batting lineup and into the all-rounders with just 99 runs on the board.

Kumara spooned a catch to a catching cover shortly after the lunch interval as Nicholas struck again, and a hobbled Jordan Mackenzie gritted through 16 deliveries for six before falling to a Davies yorker, the writing on the wall at 7/114.

Paul Hill joined Baxter at the crease with a huge task ahead.

Hill hit some boundaries and wore a short ball from Jayarathna, eventually edging to the slips for 21.

Straker and Dowling did their best to support Baxter and stave off the inevitable, but Buckley would not be denied, dismissing the Bloods for 193 in the 65th over.

Nicholas too 4/17 whileWright was named Damian Fleming Medal winner for his 57.

14 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 19 March, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au SPORT
BuckleyRidgescelebratetheirDDCATurf1premiership. 395696 Picture:MARCUSUHE
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WadeDekkeropenedthescoringintheDandenongDerby.

Dandy West’s dream team

Star News DDCA Turf 2 reporter Jonty Ralphsmith spoke to the winning Dandenong West team after their grand final win over Parkfield.

NATHAN POWER

His season: Always looked composed at the crease and was given the role of batting time in the top three, which he often did, but made just 164 runs at 10.

Quote: “I’ve been pretty dry on runs but off field I’m working on my game and when I’m in the middle I’m feeling really good; the club hasn’t put any pressure on me which has been important. I’ve been looking to get my feet going to the right positions. I feel like I’m alright when I’m leaving it but sometimes when I drive my feet just aren’t going anywhere.”

SHAUNWEIR

His season: The move to open the batting started explosively and stuttered a touch postChristmas before backing up a semi-final 44 with a grand final 55 not out. Finished with a competition-high 554 runs at 46.

Quote: “I bat the way a team bowls to me. If a team bowls loose I’ll have a crack but they bowled well, there were only a handful of poor balls. The way they bowled and fielded didn’t make it easy. Last week (in the semi against Cranbourne) I made the conscious decision to go, knowing our pitch comes off well after tea and knowing there was 30 overs. When it’s going our way, it’s my job to put the opposition on the back foot and if it comes off, usually it puts us in a pretty good position. I know being a bowler for my whole career, if the opposition come in and blast the opening bowlers off, you’re on the back foot all day trying to rein them back in so if I can set the team up, then I’m happy.”

VENUK HEMACHANDRA

His season: After playing some early season games in his first season at the club, Hemachandra went on holidays to Sri Lanka, where he trained once per week, returning for the semifinal where he passed 50. He played a crucial 31 in the big dance, getting creative against strike-spinner Nick Jeffrey.

Quote: “The boys really backed me up and told me I had the skills and had what it takes to do the job so I was pretty confident. Since (Nuwan and Malinga) are Sri Lankan as well it helps and they come up to me and tell me where I go wrong and help my game. I would say they have helped a lot because I am still 20 and I have learned a lot from the legends, so a lot of credit has to go to Kula and Mali and the team who has backed me up as well.”

ANTHONY BRANNAN

His season: A rock in the middle-order, he played the anchor several times throughout the season with the skipper’s reliability and experience in an at-times misfiring batting order crucial.

Quote: “It’s one of the better games I’ve played in. I turned up to the club when I was 18-19. (Greg Siwes) was captain (Pete Lindsay) was coach and they put so much faith in me after returning to the club after a couple of years away. The support and guidance they give is so important. This club is my home, I’ve never played senior cricket anywhere else, I never will, and it is because of people like (Greg). Going intoTurf 1 means more to (people off-field) than to us to a certain extent because it means their club is successful.”

RILEY SIWES

His season: The vice-captain returned to Dandy West this season after getting exposure at Turf 1 club Berwick and relished the extra batting responsibility in the middle-order and opportunity to learn off and play alongside Malinga Bandara.

Quote: “That was bloody unreal. One of the best feelings I’ve felt. All year we’ve been trying to get here. I moved clubs to get one thing done and one thing only so I’m absolutely rapt for the boys and can’t wait for the future.”

BAILEY HOWARTH

Season: Had struggled for runs in the middleorder until the grand final, where he absorbed pressure before making 33 free-flowing runs. Quote: “I want to be a middle order aggressive player so I stuck to my gut and went for it. I’ve got nothing but love for Branno (Anthony Brannan), he’s backed me in every week. I haven’t made many runs but he still backs me no matter what so it gives me confidence knowing he wants me there.”

NUWAN KULASEKARA

His season: Didn’t take wickets for fun like in Turf 3, but if he wasn’t getting the scalps he was drying up scoring and forcing them to look to score at the other end. In his second season at the club, he has again been widely lauded for his coaching.

Quote: “I’m enjoying my cricket still so we have a good bunch of players and people at the club. That’s what I’m enjoying a lot.We had good year last year and did the same this year. The good thing is the young players are good listeners so they are allowed to learn. Based on that, I can work on anything with them. We have a good bunch of young people improving day by day. I am happy with the way they played especially in a pressure game. It was fantastic, so as a cricketer you have to learn and play according to the situation and conditions.”

MALINGA BANDARA

His season: Wow. Back-to-back five wicket hauls in the finals followed a season where he took 38 wickets at 13 and with a miserly economy not usually associated with leggies. Was also crucial in mentoring fellow leggies Riley Siwes and Shaun Weir, and Bailey Howarth’s batting.

Quote: “I feel like in the earlier rounds I bowled well…and in the last four weeks I came

to the good rhythm and took three five-fas. In the beginning of the season I talked with (Riley) because he sometimes wasn’t sure how to trap the batsman, how to set a field, how to take wickets. He has a good action and is a good talent but we had a good chat during the season and in the last few weeks he has found his rhythm.”

MATT COLLETT

His season: Returning to his home club after playing some cricket at Cranbourne, the wicket-keeper has 28 dismissals including a competition-high eight stumpings en route to his maiden senior premiership

Quote: “It was an easy decision for me to come back. I was always going to end up here, it was just a matter of when. ‘Branno’ was the best man at my wedding so unfortunately for other clubs, if he needs me, it will happen. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing cricket. As much as it’s my first premiership, I still feel like it’s almost better for people around the club who get cash and sponsorship in.”

ADAM REID

His season: Developed immensely under the tutelage of Nuwan Kulasekara this season, culminating in a team of the year selection with 34 wickets at 17 including three five-wicket hauls in his third season playing turf cricket.

Quote: “Going back to two-day cricket has helped a lot because I can tie down a batter and not worry about being hit. I love coming on first change, because I’m better bowling with the older than the new ball. Knowing if one or both of us keep it tight, wickets will come eventually, which showed yesterday when we didn’t bowl many bad balls at all so I couldn’t be happier.”

PETER ATKINSON

His season: The experienced fast bowler who opens for Dandy West alongside Kulasekara represented Australia in the over-40s competition earlier this month in South Africa, arriving back on Monday at 7.30am. Battled jetlag for the rest of the week but trained mid-week and bowled sharply into the wind upfront, his national experience hardening him for the hot and fatiguing day.

Quote: “Over there you’re stiff all the time and starting a new day but I feel like it toughened me up to play yesterday, I felt really good. Over there you’re sore bowling and going into the game, but you realise you can be sore and still do it. I knew the body would be fine, the week rest helped though. Bowling with ‘Kula’ is awesome; you know he’ll be tight. They won’t go for him so they will go for you and if you bowl the right areas, pressure will create a wicket.”

dandenong.starcommunity.com.au Tuesday, 19 March, 2024 | STAR JOURNAL 15 SPORT
Nathan Power. 394263 Pictures: ROB CAREW Pete Atkinson.Matt Collett. Shaun Weir.
16 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 19 March, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au 12675775-FC11-24
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