Dandenong Star Journal - 2nd April 2024

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Hero recognised

A shopping trip in Springvale quickly turned into horror for the heroic Robert Tomecki.

On the late morning of 18 November 2016, Tomecki heard screams and watched black smoke and flames billowing out of the Commonwealth Bank branch’s front doors on the opposite side of Springvale Road.

A man had self-immolated inside the bank filled with nearly 40 customers and staff, igniting a scene of “panic, confusion and danger”, a County Court judge later noted.

Without hesitation, Tomecki ran to the rear of the building and entered the fray.

“You could hear the yelling. It was dark and smoky – I couldn’t see the hand in front of my face.

“I tried yelling out and a few got out – including the perpetrator, he just ran past me in the middle of the group.”

He and two other rescuers heard entrapped people yelling behind an internal door, which Tomecki kicked open.

They helped about 10 victims outside to safety.

Tomecki returned with a fire extinguisher. He put out the blaze before emergency services arrived.

In recognition, Tomecki, now 53, of Hampton Park, has been presented with a Commendation for Brave Conduct as part of the Australian Bravery Awards on 26 March.

The hard-working Hallam Bolts & Industrial employee and supermarket delivery driver says he still seeks out extreme thrill-seeking, such as travelling overseas and bungy-jumping.

On the fateful day in 2016, he was left with the nauseating after-effects of smoke exposure.

He says he stayed inside as long as he could for “the last person to get out” until he was overwhelmed.

“Everyone got out,” he said. “There could have been a bigger situation …”

The fire was started by then-21-year-old Nur Islam, who had doused himself with petrol and set himself alight.

The blaze quickly engulfed the bank, injuring 15 customers and staff.

Four received serious full-thickness burns to their faces, hands and other parts of their body, requiring hospitalisation and rehabilitation.

Nur, who survived with self-inflicted burns to 60 per cent of his body, was later jailed for up to 11 years.

also remembers 2016 for his belovedWestern Bulldogs winning their first pre-

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stench plaguing new pavilion SES testing the waters SPORT Stingrays fall to the Power 12680451-AP14-24
Debate rises over councillortravel claims Sewerage
Tomecki miership in more than 50 years. The other unexpected silver lining was news of his bravery award this month. “The best thing is it will make my mum happy. She’s been going through a fair bit for a while.” Robert Tomecki with his bravery medal of honour. 396926 Picture: LJUBICA VRANKOVIC Emergency services in the aftermath of the bank inferno in late 2018. 162683 Picture: VICTORIA STONE-MEADOWS A tradie who helped extract people from the chaotic, smoky scene. Picture: VICTORIA POLICE

Foul run plagues pavilion

A sewerage stench has plagued a brand-new sports pavilion at Ross Reserve, Noble Park.

For nearly two months, Greater Dandenong Council has been investigating the pong which has worsened to reportedly sickening levels.

After a visit on a recent weekend, councillor Tim Dark told a council meeting on 25 March that the building was “borderline unusable”.

“It’s getting a lot worse. It’s basically encompassing the whole pavilion – the changeroom smells, the kitchen smells, the main area stinks of raw sewage.”

Cr Dark said the smell was so strong that clubs were concerned about the health impacts on players.

A visitor to the reserve in February told Star Journal of a “foul and nauseating” odour outside of the pavilion.

“It was actually really weird because it was specific to the one area, the smell was not all over the reserve.”

Greater Dandenong Council is yet to get to the bottom of the stench.

A council spokesperson said that plumbing contractors had flushed out pits and drains and cleaned traps since the first reports on 6 February.

The smell had been thought to be “intermittent”, with no smells being detected during plumbers’ inspections over multiple weeks.

In October, the long-awaited $11.26 million pavilion and lighting upgrade was unveilled.

Clubsarereportingasickeningsmellatthevisually-attractivepavilionatRossReserve. 390628

The new pavilion features six femalefriendly change rooms, first aid rooms, three all-gender umpires’ rooms, accessible toilets,

meeting rooms, a canteen and storage spaces.

The facility caters for 300 players from Springvale City Soccer Club, Noble Park Junior

Picture:GARYSISSONS

Football Club, Sandown Lions Football Club and EMC Sports Club, as well as Parkfield and Noble Park cricket clubs and RecLink.

Future shape of Green Wedge on the line

A controversial proposed boundary change combining the Green Wedge in Keysborough South and the huge industrial zone in Dandenong South under one council ward has received backlash from residents.

As part of a council boundary (wards) review ahead of elections in October, the Victorian Electoral Commission has published a preliminary report that seeks to balance out uneven numbers of voters in Greater Dandenong wards.

The report has put forth two models with a major point of difference between model one and model two being that the Dandenong Ward in model one would comprise the entire GreenWedge area in Keysborough, Bangholme and Lyndhurst as well as most of the Dandenong South industrial area and Dandenong CBD.

Model two would retain similar boundaries to the present.

Councillor Rhonda Garad, who represents the Keysborough South ward, including Bangholme’s green wedge, fears the move “could be engineering the start of industrialisation of the Green Wedge.”

“My theory is they will start to allow large warehouses - mildly agricultural, warehouse storage of fruits and vegetables into the Green Wedge.

“That will be the beginning of the end. It will no longer be the Green Wedge as such.”

She also pointed out the major difference in land use for both the GreenWedge and the industrial zones and its communities.

In a briefing on Monday 18 March, councillors remained divided on the proposed models “so a formal submission from the organisation cannot be presented,” according to a council submission to the review.

However, the council noted concerns with having the Green Wedge and the industrial zone under one ward would lead to “significant competing” and “conflicting priorities” for any councillor or council.

“Council acknowledges it may be easier to locate ward boundaries along major arterial roads and that they may cause some complexity when they are divided by ward boundaries in relation to access.

“Council however, does not agree that major arterial roads always divide communities of interest and should not automatically

be considered as doing so in ward boundary review proposals.”

More than 200 online submissions opted against model one.

Individual residents, the Defenders of the South East Green Wedge Inc, as well as representatives such as the Willow Lodge Village Residents Association were among the model-one opponents.

Palm Lake ResortWillow Lodge retirement village residents in Bangholme alone made 182 form-letter submissions as well as the

Willow Lodge Village Residents Association which called model one as “repugnant and illogical.”

An online public hearing on Wednesday

27 March hosted submissions from Cr Garad as well as Willow Lodge Village Residents Association secretary Carmel Perkins and former councillor and 2024 Greater Dandenong Sustainability Award winner Matthew Kirwan.

“Our residents are particularly vulnerable and anxious yet again due to the uncertainty

of their future,” Ms Perkins said.

“Our concern with Model one is the risk of being surrounded by industry in the future. Even though Willow Lodge is not currently zoned industrial, if our ward is moved from Keysborough South to Dandenong then there is a high probability of being rezoned industrial, as was mooted in 2015.”

She also highlighted the increase in land value if the area was to be rezoned which “will be passed onto residents by the owner” in their rental fee “inadvertently increasing living costs” and placing the majority in financial crisis.

“Site fee rental for our residents is currently approaching 40 per cent of disposable income which, for the majority of residents who receive the Aged Pension, is a substantial amount.

“This, combined with the ongoing rampant increases of Victoria’s general cost of living, would place residents in a situation of extreme financial hardship.”

The village consists of 400 houses with more than 400 residents who previously spoke up about the impacts of the industry 2 industrial zone area such as the thick cloud of toxic smoke from an industrial blaze as reported by Star Journal in December 2023.

Model one is also listed as the preferred model chosen by the VEC panel noting it had a strong chance to remain compliant through to the 2028 election despite changes to 10 wards.

However, it also noted that model two required minimal changes and impacts to the areas.

“In summary, while the panel supported model one due mainly to its longevity and its appearance of better serving communities of interest, it considered model two to have advantages too,” the report said.

“Model two has fewer electors impacted, and fewer wards changed, which might be preferable to affected communities. As such, the panel is now seeking public comment on the proposed structure.”

A final recommendation for the Minister for Local Government is being prepared which will take into account the requirements of the law, population data and public views.

It is expected to be submitted to the minister on Wednesday 24 April.

2 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au
Picture:VECPRELIMINARYREPORT NEWS
Model1depictstheGreenWedgeandDandenongSouth’sindustrialzoneinasinglegigantic ward.

Stump causes hazard mayhem

A huge, uprooted tree stump in Dandenong North has lingered as a safety hazard for road users for weeks.

The stump located on a median strip near the Stud and Heatherton roads intersection was raised by mayor Lana Formoso and councillor Bob Milkovic at a Greater Dandenong council meeting on Monday 25 March.

“We did flag the huge tree stump that was

uprooted on Stud Road,” Cr Formoso said.

“VicRoad has intervened, they taped it off and put barriers around the tree as opposed to removing it.

“The barriers subsequently have now fallen through the winds and are now blocking the passageway of the actual road itself.

“So, they have now made the situation even worse, if we could flag that please because that’s definitely a hazard.”

As they asked the council officers to prioritise this issue, Cr Milkovic added that the issue is now bigger than what it was originally.

“One of the signs has been knocked over and people drive over it. It’s become a bigger problem than what it was in the first place.”

The council has been in touch with the Department of Transport and Planning about the tree stump and were informed “they would action a clean-up” on Friday 15 March.

Reprieve for home care services

The City of Greater Dandenong Council has extended its Aged and Disability Care Service program until 2027.

At a council meeting on Monday 25 March, councillors voted to continue delivering subsidised services such as house-cleaning, delivered meals and home repairs, subject to expected contract extensions with the State and Commonwealth Governments.

“The bulk of Council’s Aged Care services, provided to the largest proportion of our clients, will transition to the new Support at Home model in July 2027, rather than July 2025 as expected,” the Council website read following the council meeting.

“The reforms represent significant change to the funding and structure of the future contracts for these services, which prompted (Greater Dandenong Council) to re-consider our role and how best Council can support residents to continue to live connected, healthy lives into the future.”

While the residents in need of the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and Home and Community Care Program (HACCP-PYP) services may be in the clear now, the council is yet to decide on its approach when new reforms play out from July 2027.

Following reforms announced by the government, City of Greater Dandenong Council had conducted a “deliberative engagement process” on their services in the field.

The detailed report contained feedback and recommendations from the Community Engagement Program making up a panel of 42 residents.

One of the random-selected panelists was

former mayor Roz Blades, who ironically led the council’s foray back into home aged-care services.

Now receiving council home-care services herself, Ms Blades was disappointed that the council didn’t make a long-term commitment to an “absolutely brilliant” program.

“I’m not reliant on the service but without it, it would make life more difficult.

“The funding has been extended but there’s no commitment to keep the service. It’s subject to whether state government funding continues.

“The council offers a brilliant service, the staff are great, it’s affordable and the residents absolutely love it. We’ve got the highest amount of people using the service in the South East. If it goes, it’s a question of whether people can afford to pay for the services.

Greater Dandenong could follow the lead of some other councils such as City of Kingston, which had adopted “successful” models to continue their in-home services, Ms Blades said.

Along, with the extension of the current contract, the report passed in the council meeting also asked council officers to“develop a comprehensive business case and cost modelling for Council consideration of a future navigation and support system.”

“Council directed officers to monitor the development of the local competitive market of alternate service providers and report back to Council for consideration of whether to seek approval as a provider under the competitive market-based Support at Home Programme.

“Council also directed officers to prepare a business case and cost modelling for a new

Black-spot speeds slashed

The State Government says it will reduce the speed limit at a notorious black-spot section of Stud Road, Dandenong North from mid-April.

The speed limit will be reduced from 80 km/h to 60km/h between Cheam Street-Heatherton Road after a 2-yearold boy was tragically killed crossing opposite Dandenong Stadium in December.

He was the second pedestrian killed on the section in the past six years.

Roads and Road Safety Minister Melissa Horne said on 28 March that “what we saw on this road last December was absolutely devastating and our thoughts are with all those who have been affected.”

“Any life lost on our roads is one too many – so we’re taking action by reducing the speed limit and investigating other options to improve safety along Stud Road.”

Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams said the new speed limit will “improve safety for those travelling along Stud Road, including to and from our stadium and neighbouring parklands”.

“We will ensure residents and motorists are informed about the changes, while we investigate more options to keep our community safe.”

The Department of Transport and Planning is investigating further safety improvements at the McFees Road-Stud Road intersection, the Government announced.

Greater Dandenong Council has lobbied several years for a fully-signalised pedestrian crossing to link to Dandenong wetlands and the sports stadium.

More than 25,000 commuters travel on the six lane roadway each day.

Residents, including children, regularly bolt across the road to access the popular Dandenong Stadium, a bus stop, playground and floodplains parkland.

“Navigation and Support” system, to help older people navigate the aged care sector.

“The panel’s report is valuable, but the urgency to decide whether to join the Support at Home programme and/or exit some services has significantly reduced with the Commonwealth’s changed timeline. Council now has more time to monitor the rollout of the reforms, before re-considering the recommendations of the deliberative panel.”

In response to the reforms, councils such as the neighbouring City of Casey have already outsourced its in-home services and family day care services.

Greater Dandenong’s client base (2,900) represents 11.5 per cent of residents aged over the age of 65.

The new Yarraman ward Councillor Phillip Danh, had this issue as the epicentre for his election campaign.

However he had to leave the council chambers due to a declared conflict of interest, being a close relative of his working in the industry with the council.

“Prior to the meeting I was advised of a potential conflict of interest. I believe it is important to be transparent about such conflicts, and I am currently working to further determine how I can proceed in a manner which is appropriate.

“In regard to the future of Home Care, I have a deeply principled view that council has an important role to play in providing these human services,” he said.

“This program is essential to people in my community and any future plans must consider their needs as a matter of urgency and priority.”

The nearest pedestrian crossing is 850 metres away at the Heatherton Road lights, with the eastern side of Stud Road largely without a footpath.

It means many attempt crossing unsafely or instead drive across rather than taking a detour of about 1.7 kilometres.

Greater Dandenong mayor Lana Formoso maintained her view that the speed limit was an “interim safety measure”. The road still required a fully-signalised pedestrian crossing as a “matter of the highest priority”.

The council will lobby for funding for a fully-signalised pedestrian crossing at Stud and McFees in the State Budget in May, Cr Formoso said.

dandenong.starcommunity.com.au Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 | STAR JOURNAL 3
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Elisabeth Weber and Mayor Lana Formoso recently at the Stud Road black spot. With no signalised crossing nearby, Elisabeth couldn’t cross the road on her pusher. 382752 Picture: GARY SISSONS Cr Bob Milkovic and mayor Lana Formoso with barriers surrounding the fallen stump, which have caused a hazard on Stud Road. 397764 Picture: GARY SISSONS

Cash finally splashed

Casey Council’s chief administrator has challenged local MPs to “put your money where your mouth is” to complete the long-awaited Doveton Pool in the Park upgrade.

Despite no state or federal funding, the council has gone it alone and announced $7.91 million for Stage 1 works to rebuild the outdoor 50-metre pool.

The parkland and splash pad will be accessible all year, and the toddler’s pools, water slide and Gambetta Room will also be removed.

In 2022, the council stated that the $21 million project was contingent on 50 per cent state and federal funding.

The project will now be staggered across three stages, with stage 1 funded by the council across 2024-’25 and 2025-’26.

Its total cost has been estimated down to $14.7 million, contingent on state and federal funding.

Chair of administrators Noelene Duff told a council meeting on 19 March that it was time for state and federal governments to get behind the project.

“We remind those federal and state members that here is an opportunity to support this community.

“We know there has been a lot of interest. I think it’s ‘put your money where your mouth is’ time.

“We’ve done that here and seek the support of state and federal governments to finalise this into the future.”

Local MPs had backed a fierce public campaign to ‘Save Doveton Pool’ that led Casey to abandon its 2021 plans to replace the pool with parkland.

At the 2022 election, Bruce federal Labor

MP Julian Hill pledged that he was “very confident” that the pool upgrade would receive federal funding.

“Progress in saving the pool is incredibly welcome,” he said in reaction to the council’s committed funding.

“I’ve been proud to stand with the community in opposing Council’s efforts to close the pool. People power worked!”

Mr Hill urged the council to submit a “high quality application” to an upcoming federal grants program.

“While this is ultimately a local project, funding for a metropolitan sporting and community infrastructure grants program was allocated in the Federal Budget and program arrangements are currently being finalised.

“Of course our Doveton Pool in the Park project will have to compete against all other potential projects nationally as the era of Scott

Morrison style rorts where Governments just hand out money to individual projects is over.

“But we’ll give it a red hot go as soon as applications open.”

A spokesperson for Dandenong state Labor MP Gabrielle Williams said: “Any state contribution will be subject to state budget rounds, and Gabrielle has been actively discussing this with Council.

“Gabrielle will continue working with Council over the coming years in what we understand may be a multi-stage proposal.“

Doveton-Eumemmerring Township Association member Sean Balfour said the project was now “finally coming to fruition” – with the group hoping to learn further details on the design.

“We don’t need a ‘Mercedes’ that no one wants to use. We just want a ‘Ford’ that everyone wants to use.”

Construction of the project’s first stage will be timed during the pool’s off-season.

The rebuilt pool may include environmentally sustainable design features, such as energy capture and recovery, more efficient electric services, and water use and capture systems.

Future stages will be subject to funding from state and federal governments as well as community feedback, according to a council report.

Stage 2 could include a beach sand pit, plaza, canopy tree planting, upgraded splash pad, playground, outdoor fitness equipment, barbecue, toilets.

Stage 3 will upgrade the pool building.

The latter stages’ combined estimated cost is $6.84 million.

For the past two summers, the outdoor pools has opened on days 25 degrees Celsius and hotter – a reduction from the previous 30-degree temperature trigger.

However, attendances were down. In 43 days of operation in 23-’24, there were 5836 visitations – thought to be due to the lack of extreme heat days.

The Doveton Pool was developed in 1968 after a long campaign of community fundraising in response to drownings in Eumemmerring Creek.

Ms Duff said the pool was an “excellent example of the challenges with respect to infrastructure maintenance and ongoing development that the city faces”.

“It is a very sad facility currently, left in demise for a long time.

“So the community engagement process has been a significant part of the decision making ... advocating to us as a council for the facility to remain accessible to the community.”

Maintenance concern for Thompson Road bike path

Local recreational cyclists are troubled by the maintenanceoftheThompsonsRoadbikepath, saying its deteriorating conditions could lead to potential dangers and hazards.

Brian Clark, who cycles with his group every Saturday morning from Sandhurst to Lynbrook Railway Station to Marriott Waters Shopping Centre and back, said that the 2.5-kilometre Thompsons Road bike path from McCormicks roundabout to Westernport Highway was riddled with overgrown vegetation, hard rubbish, and general disrepair.

“That bike path is overgrown with blackberry bushes on both sides which are rapidly encroaching on the path. Gorse bushes do the same. Wild grasses and weeds have got out of control, as well as overhanging tree branches along the way. People have also dumped hard rubbish on the roadway side of the path,” he said.

“It is both a danger and an eyesore and a complete disgrace for ourVictorian community to have to endure.”

MrClarksaidonceheevencamedowntothe road to cut back everything.

“There are multiple hazards to bike riders, runners, and scooter riders in the form of potential snakes and vermin and various obstructions.

“It’s obviously not being maintained,” he said.

“The condition depends on the seasons, but it gets progressively worse.

“The path is wide enough for two bikes, but youcannotridetwobikestogether.You’vegotto sometimes duck or weave under branches.”

Early last year Mr Clark and his cyclist group took the problem to the local MP Sonya Kilkennywithaccompanyingphotosandhadtorevisit the office twice over a couple of months to urge a response.

“Since our first visit, the only thing that was moved was a whole bunch of hard rubbish that people have dumped. That’s all that’s happened,” he said.

“What this whole length of pathway desperatelyneedsismechanicalslashingonbothsides of the pathway followed by the spraying of poison to kill off the remaining roots of the blackberry brambles and gorse bushes.

“Weunderstandthatthisresolutionprobably remainstheresponsibilityofVicRoadsandState Government, but sinceThompsons Road is also

the border between Dandenong and Frankston Councils, it is difficult to pin down exactly who should fix the unsightly and dangerous mess.”

SouthEasternMetropolitanRegionMPAnnMarie Hermans took the issue to the Parliament on 6 March and called for urgent action to address the “hazardous conditions” on the bike path. “The safety and wellbeing of cyclists and pedestrians utilising the Thompson Road bike path must be prioritised,” she said.

A Department of Transport and Planning spokesperson said crews would be on the ground within the next week to remove vegetation along the Thompsons Road shared user path, weather depending.

The State Government and the City of Greater Dandenong are working to confirm regular ongoing maintenance arrangements for the shared-use path, according to the department.

Carrum MP Sonya Kilkenny said she was delighted that residents were using the shared-use path that was constructed as part of the State Government’sThompsons Rd upgrade project.

If guilty, ASA also faces fines of up to $46.950 and its director and payroll manager up to $9390 each.

“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees,” Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said.

“A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers.

“Employers also need to be aware that taking action to improve compliance in the building and construction industry is among our top priorities.”

The hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Melbourne on 18 April.

WITH GLOWING LIGHTS AND SOUNDS Order now on aussietoysonline.com.au 4 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au CONTACT US Phone: 5945 0666 ADVERTISING Visit starcommunity.com.au/advertise Email advertising@starnewsgroup.com.au Phone 5945 0666 EDITORIAL Email dailyeditor@starnewsgroup.com.au Published by Star News Group Pty Ltd ACN 005 848 108. Publisher/Managing Director, Paul Thomas. All material is copyright to Star News Group Pty Ltd. All significant errors will be corrected as soon as possible. Distribution numbers, areas and coverage are estimates only. For our terms and conditions please visit www.starcommunity.com.au starcommunity.com.au AUSTRALIAN OWNED & INDEPENDENT REAL ESTATE Email seren@starnewsgroup.com.au Visit networkclassifieds.com.au Email sales@networkclassifieds.com.au Phone 5945 0600 12651767-RR48-23 Charges over alleged $236K underpayment A Dandenong-based labour-hire company, director and payroll manager are facing charges over an alleged $236,100 underpayment of staff. ASA Personnel, which has its head office in Dandenong and operates in the building and construction industry, has been prosecuted by the Commonwealth’s FairWork Ombudsman. Sole director Steven Lloyd Richardson and payroll manager Peter Crilly are also facing charges. A Fair Work Inspector had alleged that ASA had underpaid 13 casual construction-site labourers between November 2018 and May 2021. They worked on construction sites in Toongabbie, Rosedale and Drouin South in easternVictoria. ASA is charged with failing to obey a Fair Work compliance notice requiring it to calculate and back-pay the owed entitlements. FairWork alleges that a large majority of the $236,100 is still owing. It is seeking a court order for ASA to rectify the underpayments, plus interest.
Blackberry on the Thompsons Rd bike path from McCormicks Rd. 395066
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Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS Federal Regional Development and Local Government Minister Kristy McBain, second right, with Casey Council chief executive Glenn Patterson and administrator Miguel Belmar and Bruce MP Julian Hill at Doveton Pool last year. 336420 Picture: CAM LUCADOU-WELLS

Backlash over ‘junkets’

Advocacy group Greater South East Melbourne (GSEM) has come under fire during a debate over Greater Dandenong Council “junkets”.

In a council meeting last week, councillors narrowly approved $750 return flights each for mayor Lana Formoso and chief executive Jacqui Weatherill to join a GSEM delegation at Parliament House, Canberra on 26 June.

GSEM will provide one night’s accommodation for the pair as well as for other mayors and CEOs from South East councils.

In opposition, Cr Tim Dark said the trip was “nothing short of another rort”.

GSEM “basically said they’ve delivered nothing to the City of Greater Dandenong” while supporting an airport “past Pakenham”, a clustered employment network in Monash Council and a biosphere framework in Mornington Pensinsula, Cr Dark said.

“Yet the City of Greater Dandenong has continually paid money into this group and has had no tangible outcome in return from this at all.”

Councillors already had the ability to have “good conversations” with Federal MPs from the region without having to “embark on a daytrip expedition to Canberra”, Cr Dark said.

Alternatively, they could join the delegation by video conference, he said.

In support of the trip, Cr Sean O’Reilly said: “I don’t think you’re going for a party in Canberra, mayor.

“If we think junkets are eating biscuits and cheese in Qantas economy, I don’t think it’s

something you’d choose to do on a holiday.

“It’s work – it’s a work trip as many organisations do.”

He said residents wanted the council to lobby other governments more, not less.

Greater Dandenong had “reaped benefits”

from the Federal Government recently with $20 million towards the yet-to-be-built Dandenong Wellness Centre, for example.

“It makes sense that this council advocates to the federal government and spends $750 per person to do it.

“If other councils in our region are going in person, we’d look pretty stupid if we’re just attending by video.”

GSEM includes the councils of Cardinia, Mornington Peninsula, Casey, Frankston, Kingston, Knox, Monash and Greater Dandenong.

A GSEM spokesperson said the delegation’s purpose was to launch the GSEM Jobs and Skills Roadmap.

“Delegation members will also advocate for investment in training and jobs growth across the whole region, including Dandenong.

“It is vitally important to achieve cutthrough in the run-up to the upcoming federal election.”

The delegation would also meet with ministers and shadow ministers, and create awareness in the “halls of power” of the region’s “vital importance” to the state and national economy.

“The GSEM region, including Dandenong, hosts more manufacturing jobs than Adelaide and is a vital part of the national economy that cannot be allowed to fail.”

GSEM’s projects were of “immense benefit” to Dandenong, creating tens of thousands of jobs in the region, easing congestion, benefiting the environment and boosting productivity and liveability.

They included lobbying for greater support for the National Employment and Innovation Cluster in Dandenong, the proposed South East Sports and Entertainment Centre in Dandenong and extending Dandenong Bypass, the spokesperson said.

Spotlight on travel claim ‘error’ sparks debate

Greater Dandenong mayor Lana Formoso has called for new protocols for councillortravel claims after a recent “administrative error”.

Crs Formoso and Bob Milkovic flew to Canberra for a Statehood Day of Serbia reception at the Canberra Hyatt on 27 February.

As required by the council’s travel policy, the mayor approved Cr Milkovic’s travel and accommodation expenses – about $1400.

However the mayor’s costs did not receive prior approval from chief executive Jacqui Weatherill – which is also required under the council’s protocol.

Cr Formoso subsequently reimbursed the council for the entire trip’s cost.

“I originally planned to drive to Canberra in February and there wasn’t going to be any cost to Council,” Cr Formoso said.

“For personal reasons, my plans changed and I flew to Canberra.

“Then there was an administrative error where I overlooked the formal approval process regarding my own travel. I take responsibility for this error.

“As a result, I decided it was appropriate to cover my own travel expenses. I reimbursed Council for the total cost of my travel within a few days of my return from Canberra.”

Cr Tim Dark said he had “significant concerns” about the “systemic failures of governance”.

He said there had been a “blase” explanation that there had been a clerical error by an administrator.

Subsequently, it was clear that the error breached the councillor code of conduct and the Local Government Act, he said.

Signalling a change in protocols, councillors voted on 25 March on whether to approve $750 flights for Cr Formoso and MsWeatherill to join an upcoming GSEM delegation in Canberra.

“I won’t be approving any further travel for any councillors until we change the policy - that it is voted upon by council resolution or Ms Weatherill makes the call,” Cr Formoso said.

“I don’t want to be put in that position of approving other councillors’ travel.”

The Statehood Day of Serbia reception shortly followed ambassadors and community leaders attending an historic Serbian flag

Police continue investigation into Lynbrook shooting

March.

It’s

The man was driven to the hospital by a rel-

where he remained in stable condition.

The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are yet to be determined at this stage.

Detectives will investigate if a

fire in

Warren last night is linked to the shoot-

Emergency services received reports an

9.30pm.

The fire is being treated as suspicious.

Anyone with information about the shoot-

raising at Harmony Square in Dandenong to mark the day on 15 February.

Cr Formoso told Star Journal it was important for the council to “maintain strong ties with community leaders and diplomats who represent different cultures (and) backgrounds of our residents”.

“I am proud of our city’s connections to other countries.”

Cr Formoso also attended the inauguration of the Federation of Hazara Council of Australia at Parliament House on the same day.

“The Hazara community is particularly strong in Dandenong.

“Many members of our highly valued Hazara community arrived as refugees or asylum seekers and they are now small business owners, tradespeople, professionals, students and volunteers who enrich our municipality’s cultural fabric and contribute to our economic prosperity.

“It is always a pleasure to attend events of significance to our local communities.”

Neither Cr Formoso and Milkovic have yet reported back to the council on the trip, a council spokesperson said.

“It is common for councillors to explain travel and attendance at conferences in their

councillor reports (at) following Council meetings.

“This is then published in the Minutes of Council meetings.”

Greater Dandenong’s public online register of councillor expenses gives little detail except a cost breakdown of flights, taxi fares, accommodation and other expenses.

There’s no explanation on the travel’s purpose, destination or benefits for Greater Dandenong.

So far in 2023-’24 financial year, Cr Formoso has claimed $5759 in expenses, followed by councillors Richard Lim ($3404), Jim Memeti ($3310), Bob Milkovic ($1629) and Rhonda Garad ($1063).

In October, a Municipal Association of Victoria conference and dinner in Melbourne attended by Crs Formoso, Lim, Memeti and Garad cost $764 per person.

The mayor also claimed $399 overnight accommodation at Sofitel on Collins to attend the MAV State Council meeting at the hotel the next day.

In September, Crs Formoso, Lim and Memeti each claimed more than $2300 for a National Local Roads & Transport Congress in Canberra.

dandenong.starcommunity.com.au Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 | STAR JOURNAL 5 Greater Dandenong City Council Yarraman Ward by-election vec.vic.gov.au | 131 832 Authorised by S. Bluemmel, Electoral Commissioner, 530 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria. DECLARATION OF RESULT The following candidate was elected at the Greater Dandenong City Council, Yarraman Ward by-election that was held in March 2024: DANH, Phillip Jenni Colgan Election Manager Tuesday 19 March 2024 The Victorian Electoral Commission conducted this by-election on behalf of Greater Dandenong City Council. 12656556-JC14-24
a shooting in Lynbrook on
27
Police are investigating
the night of
man was shot
in
vehicle at a set of traffic lights at
tersection of Commercial Drive
Gippsland
8.30pm.
believed a
while sitting
a
the in-
and South
Highway about
ative
Narre
ing.
car
Audi
was alight on Boundary Road shortly before
ing or the car fire is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au
NEWS
Cr Sean O’Reilly said the trip to Canberra was nothing like a holiday. 238815 Picture: GARY SISSONS

Petition builds up anger

An online petition of more than 1400 signatures is opposing a new application for a controversial proposed school near Lysterfield Lake Park.

PARED Victoria lodged a ministerial planning permit application on 15 December 2023, after two previous proposals for a new private boys’ school Lysterfield Lake College were declined by both Casey Council and VCAT.

The boys’ college, which is proposed to be developed at 19-23 Horswood Road, Narre Warren North, was rejected by VCAT due to the site’s unsuitability, and incongruence with state and local planning policies intended to protect the Casey Foothills.

In a recent statement from PARED, it stated it was “hopeful” of the outcome, which is expected in the second half of 2024, and that “the school is working with the relevant areas of government to ensure the success of the application.”

It noted that VCAT had stated the school is “beneficial in planning terms as it meets state policy seeking “a diversity of primary and secondary schools”.

However, located next to Lysterfield Lake Park, - which receives in excess of 500,000 visitors and tourists annually - local opponents argue the school would result in visibly intrusive urban development near the park, and a disregard for the rural expanse of green wedge land and its wildlife.

“It’s a shocking situation,” local resident and environmental advocate Karen Cavanagh said.

“The green wedge policies are just so weak.

“Once they get their foot in the door, there’s nothing stopping them from reapplying to expand the school.

“And they have to develop the whole site, because financially there are a certain number of students you need to make running a school financially viable.

“So it’s important that the school is refused now, because once you’ve got a small school on the site, you can’t stop it from growing.”

Home to a plethora of wildlife in its natural habitat, the proposed site is a “haven” for animals like the kangaroo and the endangered swift parrot, along with seven other endangered species that rely on the park’s environment for survival, she said.

“The land needs to remain undeveloped to serve as a buffer zone between the town and the park.

“You can’t contain animals, they know no boundaries, so it has always been the plan for the animals of the park to be able to overflow into pastures and properties surrounding the park.”

Opponents have also raised concern about the school’s proposed “Kangaroo Management Plan.”

Put forward during the VCAT case, the plan proposed the culling and relocation of the kangaroos from their natural habitat.

“I’ve been rescuing here for 18 years now, so my main concern is the kangaroos,” Sue Johnson of Sue’s Roo Kangaroo Rescue-RehabRelease said.

“I rescue and release kangaroos into Lysterfield all the time, so if this proposal goes ahead and then the proposed management plan goes ahead, that means all kangaroos on that site will be killed.

“I understand it’s not their land - the national park is - but they’ve been grazing that land for years.

“At the moment, the kangaroos are free to go on that property and the next property and the next… but if that is blocked off for them, then that will push them more onto Horswood Road.”

This sentiment was echoed by the petition’s

signers, one of which noted in their comment that “humans do not have the right to interfere with the wildlife just because they are ‘in our way’.”

“It’s so overdue for us to learn that without nature and healthy ecosystems we cannot exist,” they wrote.

Through their petition, locals also take issue with traffic implications.

With the school publicly advocating for parents to transport their children to school, and with no viable connection to public transport available, it would add to the traffic from private vehicles, the opponents argue.

They say it goes against the Victorian Government strategy which promotes a reduction in vehicle emissions and a focus on accessible, 20-minute neighbourhoods.

The potential influx of school-related traffic may disrupt park visitors and endanger wildlife, equestrian riders, and their horses. Additionally, the school’s presence is likely to worsen existing traffic congestion on a road that is already heavily congested, and contribute to increased traffic volume on nearby arterial routes, notably Belgrave-Hallam Road and Heatherton Road, the opponents say.

As well as impacts to traffic, petitioners are also arguing that a school development on the

site will mean significantly higher volumes of wastewater and stormwater flowing downhill from the site, affecting the neighbouring lake, dams, wetlands, and Eumemmerring Creek.

“The old Narre Warren North Township Strategy talks about making sure that land north of the township is not developed because the land is not capable of servicing septic systems,” said Ms Cavanagh.

“You’re talking about hilly land and granite boulders all around the ground, which complicate septic absorption.”

The objectors are also concerned by the location of a school at the end of a dead-end road with only one entry and exit lane in a high-risk bushfire area, which is at odds with both Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO) policies and the 2009 Royal Commission recommendations.

It will also test Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny’s commitment to strengthening protections for green wedges, going against one of the key Labor Party promises to hold strong on the Urban Growth Boundary and restricting growth beyond the boundary, the objectors say. As the matter is currently before the Minister, PARED stated it was “not appropriate” to provide further comment at this time.

Lack of action for Green Wedge protection plan

The GreenWedges Coalition is concerned the State Government’s new Green Wedge protection plan will not address the longstanding urban encroachment into green space.

Minister for Planning Sonya Kilkenny released the Green Wedge and Agricultural Land Action Plan 2024 on Monday 18 March that contains 20 actions to be implemented in the next three years.

It follows a 2020 consultation paper outlining 41 planning reform options designed to protect agricultural land and guide decision-making in green wedges.

“The peri-urban area within 100km of central Melbourne is home to some of Victoria’s most fertile soil and productive agricultural land. It punches above its weight – it produces enough food to meet 41 per cent of Metropolitan Melbourne’s food needs, including 80 per cent of its vegetables,” Ms Kilkenny said.

“Our precious Green Wedges and peri-urban areas are facing increasing pressure from over-development.

“They are at risk of irreversible change –once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.”

The new actions focus on preserving Green Wedges and agricultural land on Melbourne’s outskirts and tightening planning controls over developments.

In setting tight controls, the new action plan will prohibit new data centres in the

resisting land speculation and pressure to convert farmland to urban uses, retaining rural land for non-urban uses, and improving protection for agriculture and significant natural assets.

However, she pointed out the lack of real actions in the plan to effectively achieve these reforms.

“It has no actions to limit the spread of urban uses like schools, places of worship, or secondary dwellings in the Green Wedges,” she said.

“The GreenWedges will still be threatened by death from a thousand cuts. These urban uses rightly belong inside the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) where the students and parishioners live.

in a VCAT hearing, stood with the Green Wedges Coalition, stating that place of worship and other large urban developments should get specifically mentioned or refused in the new action plan.

“But we are happy that the State Government has chosen to further strengthen the Green Wedge and agricultural land protections with this new policy,” Pearcedale resident Craig Gobbi said on behalf of the group.

New conditions will be inserted for exhibition centres, group accommodation, and hotels.

A new permit trigger will be introduced for clean fill.

Casey is home to Green Wedges in areas around Westernport, Cranbourne South, Narre Warren North, and Harkaway.

The Green Wedges Coalition coordinator Rosemary West said the new action plan had good intentions and correctly identified issues needing planning reform, including

“We are disappointed that the very moderate proposals in the 2020 options paper to require schools and places of worship to be located adjacent to the UGB, on a main road with access to public transport and not in a Bushfire Management Overlay, has been dropped.”

Prior to the Victoria Planning Provisions by AmendmentVC103 in 2013, places of worship, and primary and secondary schools were prohibited uses in Green Wedge Zones.

The 2013 amendment allows discretionary uses if they are considered appropriate.

Peninsula GreenWedge Protection Group, which formed in 2022 to oppose a proposed large temple development in rural Pearcedale in Mornington Peninsula Green Wedge

“We support actions in the plan to maintain the important non-urban purpose of the Green Wedges and avoid use and development that would adversely affect their future productive use or environmental significance.We also welcome the action to support preferred land uses and encourage uses that contribute to the non-urban landscape and character.

“We need policies like these to create zone consistency across the Green Wedges.”

Ms West said the coalition feared that Green Wedge protection would still largely be left to local residents, environment and Green Wedge groups, and sometimes councils fighting unequal battles in VCAT against cashed-up developers with KCs and expensive expert witnesses.

“We hope there will be time for Minister [Sonya] Kilkenny to consider closing some of the loopholes indicated above when she amends to the Victorian Planning Provisions to implement the actions in this plan,” she said.

6 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au NEWS
GreenWedge Zone, GreenWedge A Zone, and the Rural Conservation Zone and subdivision of small lots below the minimum lot size in some zones within 100km of Melbourne. This Green Wedge land in Pearcedale has been earmarked for a proposed temple development. 365405 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS A family of kangaroos on the proposed site, with the nearby urban area of Narre Warren North in the background. Kangaroos grazing on the proposed school site, taken from the neighbouring property. The proposed school site next to the main gate of Lysterfield Lake National Park.

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Community shines

Winners of the 2024 Casey Community Awards were announced at a gala celebration event at Bunjil Place on Friday 22 March.

The annual awards are a recognition program that celebrates the outstanding individuals and groups who go above and beyond in their contribution to the community.

CFA member Shane Keen was named Casey Citizen of the Year, Gunaikurnai/Yorta Yorta Elder Aunty Lucy Boothey the Casey Senior of the Year, and Maya Pinn the CaseyYoung Citizen of theYear.

Cancer Support Angels chief executive officer Jodie Hollis was named Casey Woman of the Year, Berwick and District Woodworkers Club member John McMahon won the Lindsay King Art Award, and Fiona Spargo was named the Environment and Sustainability Champion.

Casey Rainbow Community advocate Ray Adcock won the Casey Diversity and Inclusion Award and Wild Days Wildlife Shelter was named Casey Community Group of theYear.

City of Casey chair of administrators Noelene Duff PSM congratulated all the nominees for the well-deserved recognition.

“It was fantastic to come together and celebrate the many people who give their time, passion, and energy to help build a better community,” she said.

“I’dliketocongratulatethe2024winnersand all the nominees for these prestigious awards. Thank you for the contribution you all make to our community.”

Casey Citizen of the Year – Shane Keen Shane has been a volunteer with the Country Fire Authority (CFA) since 1977. He was at Hampton Park Fire Brigade for 30 years, including 10 years as captain. Since then, he has served with the Narre Warren North Fire Brigade, where he has been Captain for the past three years. Shane is also the Casey Group Officer, who is responsible for facilitating information sharing and emergency response capability development between the 13 brigades within the City of Casey. Shane is a representative of the City of Casey Municipal Fire Management Working Group and the Municipal Emergency Management Planning Committee.

Casey Young Citizen of the Year – Maya Pinn Maya is a business owner, a university student, and a single carer/mum to a six-year-old child, who is severely disabled, and a neurotypical three-year-old. Maya has advocated for better policy throughout her paid and volunteer role at Syndromes without a Name (SWAN) and Association for Children with a Disability, as well as through the Dandenong Valley SDS school council. Maya has hosted numerous events as a volunteer peer support facilitator for parents and carers of children with undiagnosed or rare genetic conditions. She is also on the community advisory group at SWAN and Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance and contributed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) review for zero to eight-year-olds.

Casey Senior of the Year – Lucille Boothey (Aunty Lucy)

Proud Gunaikurnai/Yorta Yorta Elder Aunty

Lucy is a pillar in the Aboriginal community, committedtosharingtheinvaluablegiftsofstory, culture, and care for the Country. Aunty Lucy tirelessly volunteers and connects to community and country through various contributions including gardening at the Aboriginal Gathering Place and engaging in the co-design and facilitation of cultural elements in playgroups. Lovingly known as ‘Nan’, a term only used with the utmost respect and regard in many cultures, these contributions to the Casey community have had a profound and lasting impact.

Casey Woman of the Year – Jodie Hollis

Jodie’s journey began in 2017 with her volunteer work for the Narre-Cranbourne Relay for Life in the City of Casey. In recognition of her outstanding commitment to the community, she received the Holt Australia Day Award in 2020. In December 2019, Jodie founded her own charity, Cancer Support Angels to assist cancer patients and their families during challenging times. As Cancer Support Angels enters its fourth year, it now boasts more than 70 dedicated volunteers nationwide and has touched the lives of more than 5,000 patients.

Casey Community Group of the Year – Wild Days Wildlife Shelter

For more than 15 years,Wild DaysWildlife Shelter has cared for sick, injured, and orphaned Australian native wildlife from Casey and surrounds. Founder and licensed wildlife carer Kay Taranto, and her wonderful team of volunteers operate 24/7, 365 days a year to fulfill their mission to rehabilitate wildlife that need help, nurture their environment, and return them to the wild. Wild Days is passionate about sharing knowledge of biodiversity by training carers, mentoring, speaking with the community, schools, and groups, attending expos, consult-

ing with the council, and guiding junior volunteers.

Casey Environment and Sustainability Champion Award – Fiona Spargo

Fiona began collecting recyclable items when she started working at the Botanic Gardens Retirement Village two years ago. She expanded her recycling efforts to include the residents living there, and in August last year also began collecting items from the Coral Mews Retirement Village. Some of the items are given to local childcare centres and schools and the rest are taken away for recycling. For events such as DetoxYour Home and textile recycling days, Fiona does a collection on behalf of the retirement village residents and books in time to drop items off on their behalf.

Casey Equity and Inclusion Award – Ray Adcock

Ray has made an outstanding contribution to the Casey community over the past year by facilitating numerous social events for the Casey Rainbow Community and providing a strong voice for the group. Ray partnered with the local Casey Cardinia Rotaract Club to auspice a grant for the facilitation of events in a neurodiverse inclusive space for an intersectional community.

Lindsay King Art Award – John McMahon

John is a member of the Berwick and District Woodworkers Club. As part of this club, he contributes to the significant handmade toy contribution that the club makes to local children’s charities each year. John has recently prepared a proposal for the establishment of a National Woodcraft Collection and Exhibition Centre to be located in Berwick. He has spent many hours researching the project and dedicated his own time to meeting with the Council, as well as local and federal MPs to gain support for his project.

Retail thefts on the rise in Casey

Casey Council saw retail theft spike by 9 per cent by the end of 2023 compared to 2022, with supermarkets seeing the highest rate of incidents with an 83 per cent rise compared to the previous year.

With supermarket incident figures jumping from 187 to 342, service stations were the second highest, with a 42.7 per cent increase from 601 to 858.

The city also had a rise in young offenders, with those aged 10 to 17 seeing a 27.9 per cent increase from the previous year’s figure of 1009 pushing to 1291.

Similarly, and for the first time in the 10-year stretch of records by the Crime Statistics Agency, the age group of 45 and over alleged offenders peaked at 1244 incidents.

This is a 42.5 per cent increase to the average figure of 873 from 2014 to 2022.

Houses were the most common locations for recorded offences, with an 8.6 per cent increase from 2022 at 10,328 and 9506 respectively. The second most common location was streets, lanes and footpaths, which saw a more dramatic increase of 13.8 per cent from 2022 to 2023, jumping from 2649 to 3017.

Both Cranbourne and Narre Warren remain at the top, with, respectively, 3232 and 3028 recorded offences and a 17.31 and 6.69 per cent

increase compared to 2022.

Berwick and Clyde North trail just behind, with 2527 for the former and 1630 for the latter suburb; a 12 and 12.5 per cent increase each. Property and deception offences, such as theft and burglary were up 17.6 per cent, with a figure of 3231 compared to 2747 the year prior. Theft from a motor vehicle saw an increase of 35.3 per cent compared to 2022, with figures at 736.9 and 544.6 per capita respectively.

This comes after a two-year dip in figures between 2020 and 2021, which saw a decrease of 18.7 per cent from 721.2 and 585.8 per capita. Residential aggravated burglaries were also up 10 per cent, with non-residential, non-aggravated burglaries up 31 per cent.

Overall the city had an 8 per cent increase in offences recorded per capita in 2023 compared to 2022, with Mark Goldspink, Casey’s local Area Commander and Acting Inspector remaining confident in the city’s safety.

“The overall crime rate in Casey has slightly risen over the past year, it remains at its third lowest level for the past decade.

“Casey remains a very safe place to live and work, with the overall crime 22 per cent below the state-wide crime rate,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Neil Patterson, who spoke on state-wide crime trends on 21 March said, in relation to youth crime, that what they’re seeing “is mindless and driven by the

Oyiti’s legacy

Hundreds are expected to return to a growing basketball tradition in Dandenong that targets young people’s mental health.

Up to 30 teams from across Melbourne will be taking part on 12-13 April in the second annual Oyiti Foundation Cup at the Hoops 24/7 centre in Dandenong.

Oyiti Foundation head Nyibil Amum, of Cranbourne, said the tournament is about mental health rather than lifting up the trophy.

“We want everyone whether they’re a player or in the audience to go away a winner.

“The main target is bringing them together.”

Amum set up the Oyiti Foundation and the tournament in memory of his late son Oyiti, a talented young leader who played college basketball in the US and took his life three years ago.

Inspiringly, the bereaved father trekked on foot from Melbourne to Canberra and Sydney raising funds to tackle the tragic scourge of youth suicide in African-Australian and CALD communities.

Along the way, he met with the then Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

He raised $10,000 to set up the foundation as a “voice for the voiceless”.

Now with State Government support, the foundation runs a weekly homework club, basketball training and monthly mental health awareness sessions for more than 20 youths.

Amum says the foundation is not just about celebrating Oyiti any more. It’s about preventing young people from suffering the same fate as his son.

Recently, as a sign of its growing reach, Oyiti Foundation was a finalist in national suicide prevention awards.

“At the awards, we went there and celebrated with those who won awards. For us we’re so happy to see so many organisations doing much better than us – and we can learn from them.”

This year, it has launched facilitator training for sports coaches and leaders of womens groups and faith groups.

The initial intake of nine has trained with mental health professionals in order to help young people in their midst.

“There were many people who wanted to be facilitators in the program. We had to have people go through an interview process and we chose the best.”

pursuit of notoriety or social media likes”.

“When cars are stolen by children their driving is particularly poor, that’s not surprising because they have very little experience on the road,” he said.

Victoria Police have dedicated operations such as Alliance – targeting youth gangs – and Trinity – targeting youth burglars and car thieves – to counter the offending, and have a focus on Casey, Greater Dandenong and Cardinia areas.

“When interviewed, offenders are telling us they will walk up and down a street until they find a door or window that is unlocked,” Mr Patterson said.

“Young people know the technology around cars; it’s harder to steal a car than it has been.

“The only way is to steal the keys; we’re calling on everyone to lock their doors and lock their cars, this will make a big impact on those types of crime,” he said.

Police have also added that with the gears of the local community once again moving postpandemic, crimes in public places have also risen.

Additionally, local units are proactively door-knocking on known family violence offenders and victims to identify any breaches and prevent further offending.

A short doco film The Voice on the training sessions is expected to be released in the next month.

There are also plans for a podcast featuring mental-health professionals as guests.

Registrations for the Oyiti Cup are open at aau-aus.com.au

· Lifeline 13 11 14

8 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au
John McMahon, Lucille Boothey (Aunty Lucy), Fiona Spargo, Shane Keen, City of Casey Chair of Administrators Noelene Duff PSM, Maya Pinn, Jodie Hollis and Kay Taranto and Stefanie Cruscz from Wild Days Wildlife Shelter. Picture: SUPPLIED
NEWS
Joshua Piech Meat with organiser Nyibil Amum at last year’s Oyiti Foundation Cup.

Bruce candidate revealed

An Afghan-born businessperson from Endeavour Hills has been pre-selected as the Liberal candidate for the seat of Bruce.

Zahid Safi says he was convinced to run by residents and businesses that were “hurting”.

“The community of Bruce has been neglected by the Labor party. The cost of living, the housing crisis and interest rate rises have been hurting them.”

Born in Afghanistan, Safi moved to Finland to complete a Bachelor of Business Administration.

On a visit to Australia, he saw staff with diverse backgrounds working in a bank and decided to settle here in 2013.

“I thought this country has opportunities for everyone.

“In Australia, you can access opportunity no matter who you are, and where you come from.

“I want to make sure that we will always have an open, free and tolerant society where people’s personal values are respected.”

Married with six children, Safi now runs a business in the “services sector” after previously working with people with disabilities in education and training.

One of his passions is improving access to mental health services.

“Since working with people with disabilities and having seen tragedies (suicides) happening recently … we need more awareness of mental health services and more access for the community.”

La Trobe MP Jason Wood endorsed Safi as a “true advocate, dedicated to addressing the pressing concerns of our community”.

“He commands deep respect within our community, and alongside his wife Zinab and their children, they exemplify a wonderful family unit.”

Once a supremely safe Labor seat, Bruce is held by long-time MP Julian Hill with a shrunken 6.6 per cent margin.

Wood says the Liberals are taking the seat “seriously” with Safi as a “serious candidate” who’s getting “strong support”.

“I look at the Albanese Government performance and the past week in Parliament. It’s an absolute shambles.

“There were promises to put down interest rates – they’ve gone up; they promised to reduce electricity bills – they’ve gone up. They spent 12 months on The Voice and people feel forgotten.”

Safety message on show

A Greater Dandenong councillor has long been driving home a road-safety message at agricultural shows in the South East.

Angela Long with the Roadsafe South East caravan was out again at the Pakenhaw Show in March, handing out leaflets among the animals, rides and showside alley attractions.

The brochures cover an array of road safety issues, including motorcycles, cars, pedestrians, public transport, L to Ps and safety of children on the road.

As president of Roadsafe South East, Cr

Long has been out at the most recent Pakenham, Berwick and Dandenong shows.

She is one of several volunteers from Greater Dandenong, Casey, Cardinia and Mornington Peninsula, supported by Victoria Police.

“We are very grateful to Gerry Ryan from Jayco for the generous donation of the caravan which we picked up just before the closure of all businesses due to Covid 19 in March 2020.”

To volunteer, contact Cr Long on 0466 004 616 or angela.long@cgd.vic.gov.au

dandenong.starcommunity.com.au Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 | STAR JOURNAL 9 NEWS Keeping up to date with your local news has never been so easy... Simplysubscribetodayandgetourlatest news articlesandDigital EditionsinyourinboxforFREE SenttoyourinboxeveryTuesday 12665958-ET06-24
Angela Long and Nancye Gardner from RoadSafe South East at the Pakenham Show in March. 393927 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS Bruce Liberal candidate Zahid Safi and La Trobe MP Jason Wood in Dandenong Park on 28 March. Zahid Safi starts the meeting-and-greeting ahead of the next federal election. Zinab and Zahid Safi with their children in Dandneong Park.

Providing nutrition for those in need

A community garden at the Cornerstone charity in Dandenong are providing a haven for people at risk of homelessness.

The gardeners plant vegetable seeds and seedlings and harvest fresh produce for the Cornerstone kitchen’s meals served throughout the week.

The plots are growing a “sense of achievement and productivity” among the gardeners, says chief executive Naomi Paterson.

“A lot of participants are living in rooming houses, or are rough sleepers, and without access to their own gardens.

“We find that a lot of community members are quite disconnected from the earth and where their food comes from.

“Being able to provide opportunities to be involved in, and learn new skills, where previously they might have been limited because of their living situations, has been very valuable.”

As a further resource, community health nurse Julie Monteiro is co-located at the garden as part of the Bolton Clarke Homeless Persons Program (HPP).

“It is a positive space where conversations can be held over gardening, a place people can attend outside of where they are living, there is no cost, it is fun and good exercise and people can eat a healthy lunch afterwards.

“It can take time to get to know a new client, and this is a great space to do that. Sometimes it is hard to find a confidential space to visit and if people are moving addresses, this is a place we can meet to discuss their health.”

Carol, a Homeless Person Program client who has been involved in the Cornerstone Garden club since it began, says the garden is like a home.

“I believe it is a necessity - more places should have them,” she said.

“I come here and am amazed at what we get. When I come here, I wonder what is new, what has changed? It does wonders for my mental health; it is my escape from reality.”

She values the help and advice from having Julie on site.

“I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor if I hadn’t spoken with Julie. She helped me navigate the Covid-19 immunisations.

“I talk about things that matter and I talk about things that don’t. I know what I picked last Tuesday went into our Sunday night meal and there were 15-20 people there.

“I share what I do here with my children and my daughter is now doing an agriculture course, inspired by my time here in the garden over the years.”

Cornerstone is also a hub for other services Orange Sky Laundry, One Voice Shower Van, Nourish Church and The Dandenong Baptist Church.

The Bolton Clarke Homeless Persons Program operates at several community gardens across Melbourne.

It has 61 community health nurses working with about 1500 clients every year to access health services and support.

‘Blindspot’ concerns after crash incident

A Cranbourne resident is calling out a “structurally compromised” intersection between Evans Road and South Gippsland Highway following her grandchild’s significant car collision.

Gail Davidson said her grandchild was driving north along the highway on 5 March at around 8pm when a man pulled out of the Evans Road intersection and tipped over her car. All the traffic lights were out at the intersection at the time of the accident.

“He hit her all in the left wheel. All the lights and all the fronts are mangled. And the tyres are all bent,” she said.

“The car was slid across the road. Eight to 10 people rushed over and slipped the car back on the wheels to make sure they could get her out.”

As the police investigation of the accident is ongoing, Ms Davidson said they were not putting any blame on anyone.

Ms Davidson would like to point out that the left-hand turn from Evans Roads into the highway was made ‘a little too severe’, which could create a blindspot to see the upcoming traffic.

“Before you turn left, and when you’re looking back, you can’t just turn your head. You have to turn more or less from your waist and your shoulder and look right back,” she said.

“You are nearly doing a 90-degree turn with your body to look back to see if there’s traffic coming.

“What I think they’ve done is to stop people just driving straight onto the highway, but they’ve made it a little too severe because you turn, and then you get a curve like you’re going to do a U-turn, and then you come back round to straighten up to head.”

The intersection at South Gippsland Highway, Hallam Road, and Evans Road was upgraded in 2020 with new traffic lights installed to improve safety.

Evans Road was also realigned with Hallam Road to create a cross-intersection with the highway.

Ms Davidson said she heard similar accidents happened at the intersection after the upgrade and her grandchild knew someone who ran into an accident at the same intersection only a few weeks ago.

“There was an upgrade there, and they got flashing lights, but there are still accidents there for some reason,” she said.

A Major Road Projects Victoria spokesper-

son said they had seen a massive reduction in crashes since completing the Hallam Road Upgrade.

The statistics they retrieved from the Department of Transport and Planning showed that in the 10 years before the completion of the upgrade, 23 crashes occurred along Hallam Road south of Ormond Road and at the South Gippsland Highway intersection.

Since the completion of the project in 2020, there had been one reported crash at this intersection, they said.

When contacted by Star News, Casey Council noted that the intersection of Evans Road and South Gippsland Highway was under the care and management of the Department of Transport and Planning.

It checked the State Government’s crash statistics database which confirmed six reported collisions had occurred at the intersection since the traffic signals were commissioned in the second half of 2020.

The council does not have access to the

circumstances surrounding the most recent incident at this site and therefore unable to provide comment.

The discrepancy between the two databases could result from different ways to collect data or different definitions of car crashes.

Hacking probe continues

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Greater Dandenong Council continues to investigate the unauthorised hacking down of a row of trees in Jim Hardy Park.

The vegetation was chopped to about waist-height in the public reserve in Foster Street East, Dandenong.

The former trees used to stand in front of a neighbouring residential fence.

Community strengthening director Peta Gillies told a 25 March council meeting that officers were “in discussions” with residents in the area.

“However it’s not an offence under the new tree protection local law.

“We’re investigating in in regard to the damage-to-council-assets local law.”

The new tree-protection law was endorsed by the council in December. It applies to trees on private land.

Meanwhile, in a separate investigation, the council received admissions to the unauthorized removal and replacement of a native ornamental flowering gum on a nature strip in Foster Street East.

A series of the gums were planted on the area’s nature strips by the council in 2019.

According to the council, one was removed due to poor health and replaced by an exotic tree species.

“Council officers are now determining the outcome for the new-planted nature strip trees.”

This matter was also not being prosecuted under the tree-protection by-law but instead as damage to council assets, Ms Gillies said.

“Under our local laws, residents are not permitted to plant, prune or remove nature strip trees,” a council spokesperson recently told Star Journal.

“If a resident is found to have damaged a Council asset (which includes trees and vegetation in public spaces), we will investigate and take necessary action.”

The spokesperson said street trees and park vegetation provided important benefits such as shade, amenity, reducing pollution and providing wildlife habitat.

“Greater Dandenong has one of the lowest tree canopies in metropolitan Melbourne at just 9 per cent.

“Council has identified the lack of street and park trees in our municipality as a major concern and we want to protect those existing trees while also planting more.”

To report people damaging or removing trees on public land, go to greaterdandenong.vic.gov.au/report

10 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au
Evans Rd to South Gippsland Hwy. 396099 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS A row of trees in Jim Hardy Park, Dandenong were illegally chopped down in front of neighbouring homes. 391963
NEWS
Picture: GARY SISSONS Carol and registered nurse Julie with a bounty of tomatoes from the Cornerstone community garden.

Technology is helping to “give a voice” to students at Springvale Park Special Developmental School.

Thirty students recently received iPads from Victorian not-for-profit State Schools’ Relief (SSR), as part of a roll-out of 400 devices across the state.

“The iPad program assists students experiencing significant communication barriers within their school environment and home,” SSR chief executive Sue Karzis said.

“The iPad gives students a voice – something that is a universal right and helps these young people to have a voice, have agency and to be heard.”

Research shows that for non-verbal students, iPads can increase their learning potential, improve their ability to communicate and increase their social skills.

Since 2016, SSR has provided $45 millionplus in uniforms, shoes and educational essentials to students in need across the state.

“I am so proud that SSR is able to deliver such an impactful program,” Karzis said.

“And it is only possible due to the generosity of our partners, particularly Bank First and ASCA as well as TheWilliam Angliss Charitable Fund.”

AFL FOOTY TICKETS WIN! NEW GAMES EVERY WEEK! Scan the QR Code to ENTER NOW Or visit - starcommunity.com.au/competitions 12676764-JC13-24 NEWS
Students thrive on devices
Kris 11 with teacher Leigh Richards. 396603 The iPad adapted as a communication tool for non-verbal students. 396603 Charlie, 10, and Kris, 11, with speech therapist Yildiz Kent. 396603 Pictures: LJUBICA VRANKOVICCharlie, 10, takes a tour of the iPad. 396603

Honing their rescue skills

More than 70 SES members, lifesavers, police, firefighters and a search dog took part in a massive training exercise on Patterson River, Carrum on March 18.

Without prior knowledge, they were plunged into a fictional scenario of 12 people being swept by stormwater rapids under Wells Road bridge.

Chelsea SES spokesperson Phil Wall said the aim was to make the exercise as realistic as possible.

“None of the guys knew the scenario until they got there. It was a bit like two (real-life) events in the past two years where we’ve had to rescue people out of there.”

The members teamed together to find and rescue people – represented by dummies –who had been washed down river, some as far as the mouth and beach.

Some had made it themselves onto the banks, others picked out of the water including two fatalities.

Victoria Police, Life Saving Victoria, Edithvale CFA, Search and Rescue Dogs Australia and members of Chelsea, Greater Dandenong Pakenham, Monash and Narre Warren SES units were involved.

During the response, a search dog sniffed along the river bank, SES members were in boats towards the top of the river and rescued

dummies out of the water.

Meanwhile, life savers responded to ‘casualties’ on the beach, transporting them on jet skis and rigid inflatable boats to the SES’s multi-casualty tent.

An LSV drone was also taken into the sky to scan the scene.

Meanwhile in the Edithvale CFA Mobile Command Vehicle, police, SES and CFA officers were coordinating the response.

Chelsea SES deputy controller for training Cameron Milner meticulously planned the scenario for six months.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see everyone enjoy the night and come away with new lessons, insights and experiences.

“It was also great to have so many senior leaders from the different emergency services there to observe the exercises first hand.”

Some of them included VICSES Chief Officer Tim Wiebusch as well as senior police officers from Chelsea and Moordialloc police.

For some of the newer SES volunteers, it was their first time at such a major scenario. All of the members felt “chuffed” by the end of the night, Wall said.

“When you have these training events, there’s an air of excitement.

“And if there’s anything we have to learn from the situation, it’s better to do so with a dummy.”

12 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au NEWS
A casualty arrives from the beach to the emergency triage area. 398305 Life savers bringing one of the dummies to shore. 398305 SES and LSV members carry a casualty ashore. 398305 A dummy line-up on the banks of the Patterson River. 398305 Lifesavers transport a dummy by jet-ski to the multi-casualty triage area. 398305 A search dog helped to find dummies on the river banks. 398305 Another casualty arrives to the main staging area. 398305 Emergency responders from LSV, SES and Victoria Police. 398305 A surf rescue boat transported dummies from the beach to the river bank triage area. 398305 A rescued dummy is carried into the SES multi-casualty tent. 398305

Funding plea for desexing

The Lost Dogs Home Cranbourne is pleading for “consistent and ongoing” funding for cat desexing programs as the shelter has seen its cat intake for Casey increase by 88 per cent in the last two years.

The Cranbourne facility took in 739 cats from 2020 to 2021, 1093 from 2021 to 2022, and 1393 from 2022 to 2023 in the City of Casey area.

Spokesperson Suzana Talevski said there had been a steady increase and it was a quite staggering number.

“There are just not enough animals that are being desexed,” she said.

“As much as we’ve tried over the years to educate and inform the community about the importance of desexing your pets, it has worked to a degree, but not enough to stop those numbers getting higher and higher.

“What we need to do is to work together with the community, the local government, and the State Government to make sure we’ve got programs that provide low-cost desexing alternatives because we know that the cost of living does bite, and there are a lot of families doing it tough.”

Casey Council currently has 8439 registered cats, and the majority are desexed except those with exemptions.

The State Government has recently committed $300,000 to run a trial program to increase cat desexing rates, address cat overpopulation, and support vulnerable cat owners.

Councils can now apply for grants of up to $25,000 to deliver targeted cat desexing programs within their community.

The council-run programs will focus on people who care for semi-owned and unowned cats and help them take full ownership of these cats. The program will also provide free and low-cost desexing services to cats

owned by Victorians who may be experiencing financial hardship in the program’s target areas.

Executive director of animal welfare Victoria Dr Trevor Pisciotta said desexing cats helped reduce the burden of over-population on Victoria’s domestic animal services.

“Although 95 per cent of registered cats are desexed by the age of two, cats can have multiple litters in this time. This can sadly result in thousands of cats entering the Victorian pound and shelter system each year,” he said.

Ms Talevski said the recent program was a great start, which the shelter welcomed.

“But when you think about the fact that it will be divided between councils in Victoria, then that means it’s probably not going to have

the impact that we need to really make a substantial difference in reducing the number of cats that are out there,” she said.

She pointed out the cat population issue was likely the number one issue facing the shelter.

“And it doesn’t seem to be getting any better,” she said.

“We really need support from the State Government to provide adequate funding for those initiatives.”

City of Casey’s manager connected communities Callum Pattie said Casey had a 24hour cat curfew in place since 1999 to address cat issues in the community.

“Uncontrolled cats can have a significant impact on local wildlife and by containing cats

to their owner’s property, it not only reduces the impact on the wildlife but helps keep the cat itself safe from other stray animals, disease, and harm from vehicles,” he said.

“It is important that pet owners practice responsible pet ownership by ensuring their cat is contained to their property, microchipped, registered with council, and wearing a registration tag at all times.

“Should a cat be found wandering outside their owner’s property and if registered with the council, the cat is returned home, and the owner is given a warning on the first occurrence. If the wandering cat is found and is unregistered, they are taken to the pound and the owner will be issued with an infringement penalty.”

Or, read the full digital edition as it appears in print now! Read the latest Autumn Edition of your favourite family magazine Autumn Edition magazine Read it now Scan the QR CODE Pick up a printed copy of Casey Cardinia Kids Today Magazine from outlets everywhere. OR VISIT: caseycardiniakids.com.au/digital-editions 12676619-ET13-24 NEWS
They’re cute and fluffy, but there are serious concerns about cat over-population.

LOOKING BACK

100 years ago

3 April 1924

It will be greeted with much satisfaction by all Dandenong that a start has been made in the extensions and improvements at the Dandenong Railway Station. The engineer has the matter now in hand and no delay is to take place in commencing the work. The whole work, so far as the roads are concerned is embraced in the arrangement whereby the traffic presently entering the town from the Brighton Road and Hammond Road is to be diverted into the new road, which will take the course in a straight line from the Brighton Road, by way of Grace Street, across the heart of Dandenong Estate, under the railway at Kingsbury’s corner, into Foster Street and to Lonsdale Street. The entrance to the platform from the south will be in Hammond Road, 100 yards from where the new road begins in Hammond Road.

50 years ago

2 April 1974

Karate boss says – “I’ll straighten the kids out!”

“Bring me all the louts and street corner kids in Dandenong and I’ll straighten them out …“ so says burly karate instructor, Bob Jones. Bob,a third black belt holder,runs karate schools throughout Australia, plans to establish a school in Dandenong. He said “if the louts and street corner kids come in and

WHAT’S ON

Dinner with a View

The next dinner meeting of the Dandenong Evening VIEWClubfeaturesguestspeakerDarrenHayesfrom The Smith Family. The club supports The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program. New members and guests very welcome.

· Tuesday, 2 April 7pm at Dandenong RSL Bookings essential. Details: Brigitte, 0491 626 527.

Qing Ming

In 2024, Qing Ming is on Thursday 4 April and the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT) welcomes community members to honour and celebrate their loved ones at Springvale Botanical Cemetery.

· Friday 29 March-Monday 1 April and Saturday 6 April-Sunday 7 April at Song He Yuan and Clarence Reardon Centre, Springvale Botanical Cemetery, 600 Princes Highway, Springvale. Free event.

Youth activities

Coming up at Noble Park Community Centre are drawing classes for ages 12-17 (Thursdays 4.30pm6.30pm, 18 April-27 June; $135) and a soccer, netball & AFL school holiday clinics (Monday 8 April, 9.30am-12.30pm or 1pm-4pm; $30pp).

· Noble Park Community Centre, Memorial Drive, Noble Park. Details: facilities@nobleparkcc.org.au or 9547 5801

Discover Dandenong Creek Festival

Lots of fun, free activities to celebrate Dandenong Creek. Featuring a Welcome to Country by Traditional Custodians, roving performers, craft activities, a plant giveaway, wildlife show and display, fishing activities, a free sausage sizzle and coffee, airbrush tattoos, open mic stage and more. Bring your own reusable water bottle to refill at the event.

· Thursday 11 April, 11am-2pm at Tirhatuan Park, 4 Kriegel Way, Dandenong North. Parking via the entrance at 114 Somerset Drive. Free event.

Noble Park reunion

Reunion for over-65s who have lived or worked in Noble Park.

· Saturday 13 April at Club Noble, 46/56 Moodemere Street, Noble Park. Details: Dawn Vernon, rwdlvernon@bigpond.com

Urban harvest

Springvale Urban Harvest is a free monthly swap event of excess homegrown produce and gardening extras. Also swap seeds, seedlings, cuttings, gardening tips, recipes, coffee grounds, worm juice and gardening literature. Meet like-minded growers in the area.

· Saturday 13 April 1pm-3pm at Springvale Community Hub, 5 Hillcrest Grove, Springvale. Free event.

Clothes swap

Join us for a community clothes swap at the Springvale Community Hub. Contribute up to 10 items of clothing, shoes and/or accessories. All items must be clean, in good condition and ready to display on the day.

· Saturday 13 April, 1pm-3pm at Springvale Community Hub, 5 Hillcrest Grove, Springvale. Free

their excess energies are channelled the right way – with proper training and discipline – they inevitably make the best tournament fighters, and if their aggressive energies are dissipated through tournament fighting under strictly controlled conditions – they will have no interest in street brawls.”

event.

A Tra$hy Dreamland

Exhibition on display until Saturday 8 June at Walker Street Gallery and Arts Centre, cnr Walker and Robinson streets, Dandenong.

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, 10am2pm until 19 July at Benga, Heritage Hill Museum and Historic Gardens, 66 McCrae St, Dandenong. Free event.

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 entry), Thursday ballroom dancing lessons (12.30pm-1pm) and ballroom dancing (1pm-3pm, $3 entry). Entertainers include Marcia Rae (16 April) and Rob Foenander (30 April).

20 years ago

5 April 2004

Opinions vary as storm in a T-shirt blows over.

WESTCO’s Dandenong and Fountain Gate stores appear to be at odds last week about

female staff wearing a controversial, tight-fitting T-shirt. Last week, a Westco city female employee refused to wear a T-shirt bearing the slogan ‘Stop pretending you don’t want me’ after she was harassed by a male customer. Her stand later forced the company to recall the garment. The Fountain Gate female store manager, who did not want to be identified, said her staff were proud to don the T-shirt. “We wear them with pride. I think it’s been blown out of all proportion by the media. Our staff love wearing them.” However, the female manager at the Dandenong Plaza, not wanting to be identified for fear of losing her job, said she and her staff no longer wore the T-shirt.

5 years ago

1 April 2019

Last rides for velodrome

The morning was bitter cold as a hardy band of protesters witnessed the demolition of the Maurice Kirby Velodrome in Noble Park. The track, named after sports legend and Pedal’s Club of Victoria founder Maurice Kirby, makes way for the council’s $11 million upgrade of Parkfield Reserve including a shared walking-cycling track. Over the past seven months, cyclists had banded vigorously against the plan and fought the Dandenong Council to the bitter end. Maurice Kirby’s family publicly denounced the demolition, requesting his name not be associated with the new reserve.

INTERFAITH Building a strong mind

MESSAGE OF HOPE

of Dhamma Sarana Buddhist Temple, Keysborough

We see the big masses of rocks, no matter how fast the wind blows, it’s not shaken.

· 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.

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, 10.30am at the Hallam Community Learning Centre, 56 Kays Avenue Hallam. Details: Robert Read, 0455 566 570.

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 goldcoin donation. 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

The Buddha said same like that rock, wise people are unshaken by the praise or the blame in their lives and that is the strong mind set.

To have such a mind-set, it is important to maintain a stable mind set in ups and downs in life. These ups and downs are experienced in eight worldly conditions that no one can escape. They are praise and blame, gain and loss, fame and disgrace, and pleasure and pain.

Mind should be trained to accept these ups and downs in life.

Whenever people criticise you, blame you, go through tough times, if you can be mindful about your mind, your emotions and your feelings, not to chase these emotions and feelings then you can be more stable in these situations.

You can be emotionally balance in these situations.

So it is important to be mindful and to have self-awareness in these situations

Another thing is to build resilient mind.

It’s the ability to stand up back when you go through adversity and challenging situations.

The ability to practise this, one thing you have to understand is that what is in your control and what is not in your control.

It is always a choice, you can think that should I become angry with this, should I take this negativity, and be negative as them.

If you can question like that then you are not ready to take that negativity.

You also have to cultivate a problem solving mind-set.

If you’re easily panicked or triggered by problems then it is not easy to solve the problems.

But if you can maintain calm and peaceful mind-set even when you go through tough situations then it is easy to go into the root and solve the problems.

Finally, you have to practise a mind-set of self-love and self-compassion.

If you truly love yourself, you’re not going to take others’ negativity with you.

Whatever negative thing that comes to you, you say I am not going to take this negativity with me.

The strong mind-set is not disturbed by the ups and downs in life.

So, practising these simple steps, build a stable mind-set, make your mind resilient, and love yourself.

When you practise these steps, you can build up a mind-set that is unshaken by the ups and down in life.

14 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au
Venerable Gnanawimala Bandaraulpatha advises on how to build a strong mindset.
Compiled by Dandenong and District Historical Society
Protestors formed a human blockade prior to the demolition of Maurice Kirby Velodrome early on 25 March 2019. Picture: BRIANA MONDON

Culture proudly

Large-scale woven sculptural installations, moving image works and striking paintings will don the Bunjil Place Gallery as the collection called Kungka Kunpu, or Strong Women lands on Tuesday 2 April until Sunday 21 July 2024.

In partnership with the Art Gallery of South Australia’s Tarnanthi program, Bunjil Place will feature major contemporary works by celebrated women artists from the A?angu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

AGSA director Rhana Devenport ONZM said, “Kungka Kunpu (Strong Women) reflects the adaptive genius, energy and dynamism of Anangu culture”.

The collection tells the inspiring tale of women supporting one another through generations, expressed and interpreted through a multitude of art pieces.

MsDevenportsaiditisa“nationalshowcase for the artistic excellence, creative diversity, innovation and cultural depth of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art”.

“It recognises the APY art movement as a vital source of contemporary art production in Australia today.

“This exceptional travelling exhibition gives audiences outside of South Australia a rare opportunity to experience AGSA’s far-reaching and impactful Tarnanthi program,” MsDevenport said.

Kungka Kunpu features major contemporary works by more than 60 Anangu women artists that centre on caring for Country, mapping significant sites and life-sustaining practices of the desert while sharing narratives of family obligations and relationships.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard AC voiced her support for the exhibition, saying that “Strong Women, the theme of Kungka Kunpu, is a message of empowerment with a

relevance that stretches far beyond Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara [APY] Lands”.

Ms Gillard, now the current chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London at ANU also added that “it impacts women in all parts of Australia and

all corners of the world”.

“This touring exhibition represents a singular opportunity for the views and voices of Aboriginal women, sharing traditional wisdom about the importance of female strength, to be seen and heard around our nation.”

show

Kungka Kunpu includes works that have been crafted from diverse materials including Tjanpi Desert Weaver’s sculptural installations made from tjanpi (grasses) and other objects.

This works ties together local knowledge and cultural meaning, serving as an interpretation of Tjanpi Desert Weaver’s collective practice and the important role of Tjanpi for Anangu artists.

Artist Mrs Kaika Burton said “we have very strong feelings towards our grasses, we love them”.

“They have sustained our lives forever, so when people ask us about our tjanpi and we say they have Tjukurpa, we really mean it,” she said.

New technology in the form of moving images helped capture the vision of young Anangu artists, with the exhibition featuring a cross-generational film of the same name, Kungka Kunpu that first premiered at Tarnanthi in 2019.

Combining live action and animation, artist Kaylene Whiskey explained that “we want our film project to show a strong, positive message about life in a remove Indigenous community”.

“Us young women here in Indulkana love to dance and have fun and make each other laugh, we’re proud to live on our land and hold on to our culture and language,” she said.

Among the exhibiting artists in Kungka Kunpu (Strong Women) are Angkuna Baker, Kunmanara (Wawiriya) Burton, Nyunmiti Burton and Mrs Kaika Burton.

Other artists present also include Sylvia Ken, Kunmanara (Militjari) Pumani, Rhoda Tjitayi, Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Kaylene Whiskey and Yaritji Tingila Young.

For more information visit www.bunjilplace.com.au/events/kungka-kunpu-strongwomen

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on
From left to right: Iwantja Young Women’s Film Project featuring Kaylene Whiskey, Leena Baker, Leonie Cullinan, Betty Muffler, 2019. Picture: IWANTJA ARTS
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Coming in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate different species of birds and possums, the hollows join the fauna habitat logs previously installed around the bases of

While MRPV urges that every effort is made to preserve as many trees as possible during their works, initiatives like the log hollows allow for the timber to be repurposed as part of MRPV’s commitment under their Timber Reuse Program.

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General Classifieds V Accommodation Real Estate ROOF RESTORATION Reg No 082 1317E ★ Replace Broken Tiles ★ Cleaning Roofs/Gutters/Downpipes ★ Re-Bedding & Pointing ★ Roof Spraying (3 coats acrylic paint) ★ 10 Year Guarantee ★ Free Quote For a free quote phone Carlos Ph: 9700 7098 Mob: 0414 393 700 10% discount G6032580AA-dc24Jun 12475470-JW51-20 Chris: 0410 584 435 • Carlos: 0414 393 700 ★ Replace Broken Tiles ★ Re-Bedding & Pointing ★ 10 Year Guarantee ★ Cleaning Roofs/Gutters/Downpipes ★ Roof Spraying (3 coats acrylic paint) ★ Free Quote V Roofing Hot Winter Specials Pensioner Discounts • Brivis Gas Ducted Heaters • Daikin & Rinnai Splits • Installs - Service - Repairs • Duct inspections & Repairs 9702 4410 REC 17042 PIC 38148 AU 06212 www.fairbairns.com.au 12541726-HC12-22 rakruyt@aol.com Pruning & Removal of Trees & Shrubs Stump Removal Hedges Mulching & Mulch Sales Full Insurance Cover 0409 14 15 19 HIGH TREE TREE SERVICE ABN 20 410 687 524 Autumn Special THIS MONTH ONLY OFF 25% Rick Kruyt FREE QUOTE 124 8 4 888S N1 0 -21 Find us on Facebook 0451 771 837Lic. no 122277 www.triplezeroplumbing.com.au LOCAL PLUMBER Leaking taps Burst pipes Hot water Blocked drains Gas heating Leak detection CCTV inspection Pipe relining Storm water Sewerage 24/7 SERVICE 12670933-SM09-24 LONGWARRY FIRE BRIGADE COUNTRY CRAFT & PRODUCE MARKET REFER TO FACEBOOK FOR DETAILS* 1ST SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH (March-December) Sunday 7th April • Sausage Sizzle • Chips • Scones Contact: 0419 158 946 | 15 Bennett Street 12674115-JC15-24 V Heating V Plumbing V Tree Lopping/Surgery V Markets General Classifieds Trades & Services NEWS Log hollows join Hall Road By Emma Xerri Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV) is hoping to create more shelter for local wildlife across their recently completed Hall Road Upgrade Project Area through the installation of several carved log hollows. By staying drier and better insulated, and providing refuge for wildlife in cold and hot weather, these suspended tree log hollows are an improvement on traditional nest boxes, and will provide more nesting options for local wildlife species.
hollows have been placed in areas lacking natural hollows in existing trees, with seven installed along Taylors Road, and another two installed west of the McCormicks Road intersection.
The
habi-
local trees, which seek to improve the
tats of ground fauna including mammals and reptiles.
Road.
The team at Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV) is creating more shelter for wildlife across Hall

Otters ready for nationals

Eight members of the Dandenong Oasis Otters Swimming Club are set to compete on the national stage this month on the Gold Coast.

The Australian Age and multiclass age championships start on 6 April and run through until 14 April, with those meets followed by the Australian Open Championships on 17-20 April.

With just 50 swimmers within the Otters, about one in six swimmers will compete, a staggering ratio for a small, family-driven club.

“It’s a fantastic result of all the hard training the kids have put in and an absolute credit to the coaches who have worked really hard to get them there,” president Brian Atkinson said.

“Overarching all of that is the effort put in by the families and the parents.

“The swimmers have put in a huge effort and the coaches have done right by them, and families back them up.”

The Otters’ national squad trains at least six times per week, with a seventh day of dry land training occasionally added to the schedule on top of stroke development, time-cycle and distance training.

The club encourages swimmers to compete at least once per month, with the most recent high-profile meet being the State Championships in February.

Qualification for the national meet, however, was dependent on swimmers meeting a qualifying time, rather than placing at an individual event.

“(Racing) gets them used to the idea of competing against other clubs and larger environments, which is good for their mental strength so they aren’t psyched out by the opposition,” Atkinson said.

“And because they’re registered events, they can see their progress as they go.

“Seeing some of their eyes light up when they swim a personal best is always fantastic to see because it proves to themselves they can better their performance.”

While emphasising that development and

enjoyment are key focuses, several swimmers’ personal bests, proportionate to qualifying time, are expected to net the club positive results.

The following swimmers, ranging in age from 14-25 have all qualified for at least one event: Scott Robinson, Dion Gordon, Daniel Atkinson, Henry Han, Bronwyn Zheng, Georgia Hyde, Keith Han, Andrew Dinh, and Kelvin Tranh.

Here’s how the team shapes up:

· Scott Robinson: 200m butterfly, 100m but-

terfly, 50m butterfly, 800m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 400m individual medley (IM), 200m IM.

· Dion Gordon: 200m butterfly, 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 50m freestyle.

· Daniel Atkinson: 200m butterfly, 400m IM.

· Henry Han: 100m breaststroke, 50m breaststroke.

· Georgia Hyde: 50m butterfly.

· Bronwyn Zheng: 50m butterfly, 100m butterfly.

· Andrew Dinh: 100m breaststroke, 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 50m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 200 IM, 50m breaststroke, 50m butterfly, 50m backstroke, 400m freestyle.

· Kelvin Tran: 400m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 100m butterfly, 50m breaststroke, 100m backstroke, 200m IM, 100m freestyle, 50m backstroke.

· 50m medley team: Keith Han, Scott Robinson, Dion Gordon, Daniel Atkinson.

Seven local teams bite the dust in Australia Cup action

A dismal weekend for South Eastern sides in the Australia Cup saw seven teams perish in the fourth round of knockout action, including National Premier League (NPL) Victoria side Dandenong City.

City’s campaign came to an end at the hands of Preston on Thursday night courtesy of a 10-minute lapse they would like to take back.

The Lions opened the scoring late in the first half and added a second immediately after the interval, with City unable to make up the ground in the remaining 40 minutes of play.

It was an upset loss for City, with the Lions in the State’s second division, the Victorian Premier League 1 (VPL), knocking out a highly-touted opponent.

Dandenong South conceded early against Bundoora United and failed to recover, suffering a 0-1 loss at George Andrews Reserve.

A dangerous pass across goal from Ali Ibraimi was picked-off by Bundoora forward Daniel Soumelidis, before Ross Phlorides produced a beautiful strike from outside the area that curled into the top-left corner of the net in the 15th minute.

The home side had a chance to equalise through Rohan Gani 10 minutes later but his shot attempt was quashed by a brilliant sliding challenge.

Dandenong South utilised crosses and balls from outside the area as a primary source for shooting opportunities but were unable to convert on a number of occasions.

The margin could have doubled through a headed attempt at point-blank range, but stopper Sermin Sadikovski made a brilliant save to push the attempt over the crossbar.

Ajdin Memeti almost produced a carbon copy of Phlorides’ first half goal with a curling ball from outside the area, but United goalkeeper Zac Cittadini managed to parry the ball to safety behind the touchline.

A shot from the resulting corner was again deflected by Cittadini, this time at close range

from Kenan Akalan, pouncing on a lose ball. Memeti then tried his luck once more from distance minutes later, as Cittadini was forced to save the day for his side once again in a manic period of 10 minutes with the ball entrenched in Dandenong South’s attacking half.

The desperate search for an equaliser, however, went unanswered, consigning the State League 3 South East side to elimination.

It’s a second consecutive Cup elimination over a Dandenong club for United, which sentWhite Star Dandenong packing in round three.

Springvale White Eagles was thrashed 1-4 at the hands of St Kilda Celts FC at Keysborough’s Serbian Sports Centre.

After conceding the opener, Marko Stanisavljevic equalised in the first half before the White Eagles let in another two before the half time interval.

They conceded a fourth in the secondhalf to confirm the three-goal margin.

Doveton went down 1-3 at the hands of VPL1 side, Langwarrin, despite a first-half strike from Luca Slavica.

State League 1 outfit Casey Comets suffered a 0-2 loss to State League 2 side Uni Hill Eagles in a clash where both sides finished with 10 men in Mill Park.

The Comets conceded on either side of the half time interval, with Ali Nazari receiving a pair of yellow cards.

State League 4 side Endeavour United was thoroughly outmatched by NPL side Avondale FC, going down 1-11 in a lopsided affair.

Berwick City, meanwhile, fell 4-5 in a nine-goal thriller against Sunshine North.

The lead changed three times throughout the match, with scores tied 2-2 at the half.

The Eagles scored three consecutive goals to swing the game from trailing 2-3 to leading 5-3, before City pulled one back in the dying stages.

Dandenong Thunder’s next Cup fixture sees them head to Skye on Wednesday 10 April to battle Syke United.

18 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au SPORT
Dandenong City lost 1-0 to Preston Lions on Thursday night in the Australia Cup.
Picture: SUPPLIED
Swimmers from left: Kelvin, Dion, Scott, Andrew, Keith, Henry, Daniel. Back from left: Bridget (Coach), Bronwyn (Swimmer), James (Coach). 396952 Picture: ROB CAREW

‘Rays stung by Gippsland

Dandenong Stingrays went down to Gippsland Power 16.13 109 to 14.9 93 on Good Friday at Belvedere Reserve in a high-tempo, free-flowing day of Coates Talent League football.

Gippsland had a narrow lead for most of the day in a quick and hot game of footy, but there was still a host of Stingrays able to showcase their weapons.

In his first game for the season, Noah Mraz started excellently, winning several important contests in defensive 50 to prevent the visitors getting off to the hot start that they threatened to.

The Narre North Foxes junior and AFL Academy representative got his hands to plenty of aerial contests in defensive 50 and finished with 24 disposals in a strong start to the season.

Fellow defender Ben Hopkins was also strong from the first bounce, with his six first quarter intercept marks helping limit Gippsland’s lead to only seven points at the first break.

Following a 27-disposal game against Geelong Falcons last week, the teenager, also North Melbourne VFL contracted, played with a blend of competitiveness, nous and dash to again finish with a team-high 26 touches.

The ‘Rays kicked four goals in the seven minutes either side of quarter time to briefly hit the lead as Vic Country aspirant Harry Doughton showcased his finishing ability in a second consecutive pleasing outing where he was given midfield minutes.

Despite some moments of class from Dandenong’s Vic Country midfielder-forwards

Cooper Hynes and Harvey Langford in the second quarter, the Power got out to a 12-point halftime lead.

Berwick junior and Haileybury College student Tairon Ah-Mu imposed himself on the contest in the second half.

The 2023 under-16s Vic Country representative kicked three goals, including the first of the second half.

At 198cm, Ah-Mu used his size well in ruck contests and took five marks, alongside nine hit-outs.

Gippsland pulled away from the Stingrays late in the third quarter, which put a premium on the first goal of the last stanza, with Noah Hibbins-Hargreaves standing up and delivering.

The highly-regarded bottom-aged player took a crunching one-on-one mark and calmly finished a difficult set shot two minutes into the quarter.

He did similarly 12 minutes later as the margin again blew out, with the Vic Country player finishing with three goals from 10 disposals in a promising display.

Dandenong’s defence, which contained local lads Kane Hurst (Berwick) and Tahj De La Rue (Pakenham), held up well for the last 15 minutes to resist several Gippsland forward forays.

The margin, ultimately, proved too big to overcome and the weight of the Power’s entries eventually saw them kick a late sealer.

Other locals in action included Fountain Gate junior Coren Giliam, who was flashy and kicked two goals, Devon Meadows’ Toby Sinnema and Beaconsfield’s Jordan Doherty. It was a tight tussle between Dandenong

Endeavour Hills eager for new Division 2 challenges

Southern Football Netball League (SFNL) club Endeavour Hills is confident its young list will stand up to the rigours of Division 2 footy after a momentous 2023 flag.

The Falcons, who defeated Frankston Dolphins by 25 points in the Division 3 grand final last year, are backing internal development to see them immediately compete in Division 2.

The club brought in Fallon Wanganeen, former NarreWarren Magpie Jake Hough and Kansas Varker, who are all set to slot in well, but the excitement stems from seeing the incumbents improving.

“We have a pretty young team generally and it’s about them taking the next step, which I think they can,” coach Matt Peake said.

“There’s enough talent there that they will be up to the next level.

“You have to make sure the guys that are there feel like they’re looked after and hopefully that breeds years of loyalty.

“As a young group, that’s what I’m looking for because they can keep improving yearon-year and put us in a really good place.”

The Falcons’ toughest task in the offseason was finding a replacement for star Sean Van Velsen.

A ruckman who carried a heavy load last season and capped it off with a huge performance on grand final day, Van Velsen is travelling this year and thus unavailable for selection.

Unable to secure a primary ruck, Peake forecasts rotating several players through the position, including emerging talent Tyler Studd, describing him as a “goer with

strong follow-up.”

“It will be around doing something slightly different,” Peake said of replacingVanVelsen.

“You can’t just replace a Sean Van Velsen so it will be a mixture of potentially (Studd) and others, because we have a lot of second rucks who can pinch-hit.

“Alex Cann can chop-out in the ruck, Ben Holland can play a role and Fallon Wanganeen has size so they will all be serviceable.”

Seeking to run young blood through the midfield to accompany stars John Rafferty and Liam Hasler, there is an acceptance that the ruck dominance could change the dynamic.

“We’ll have to be quite honest in there and have the discipline and organisation in the midfield,” Peake said.

“It’s something I’ve been highlighting with the group and I’ve seen big steps made in

early intraclubs and practice matches, so I’m buoyed by that as well.”

It was the defence which held up so strongly against a fleet-footed Frankston last year, with an injection of forward speed set to accompany that in 2024 as the club looks to make an immediate impact.

“I want to play finals,” Peake said.

“Maybe others think that’s unrealistic, but that’s what I’m aiming for.

“I don’t want to set a limit on what we can achieve but the main thing is to focus on getting better.

“Development is a big thing and it’s going to be so important with a young group this year.”

Endeavour Hills’ season kicks off against a strong Highett outfit at home on Saturday.

dandenong.starcommunity.com.au Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 | STAR JOURNAL 19
Division 2 awaits Endeavour Hills. 359763
Pictures: ROB CAREW John Rafferty will again play a key role this season.
SPORT
Matt Peake is optimistic in the development of his young group. and Gippsland. 398645 Picture: BLACK FOOT PHOTOGRAPHY

Ann-Marie Hermans MP

MEMBER FOR SOUTH-EASTERN METROPOLITAN REGION

Can You Help Save Local Jobs in the South-Eastern Region?

Dear Friends,

We urgently need your help to halt the closure of a vital transport link which is threatening to destroy manufacturing in the south east, impacting thousands of local jobs.

The Level Crossing Removal Program (LXRP) is going to close Progress St in Dandenong South so the government can tick-a-box and say they have removed another level crossing.

The level crossing in Progress Street will not be replaced with a road-over-rail or road-under-rail alternative but will be completely closed to through-traffic cutting off a critical link to the Princes Highway and the Monash Freeway.

We need to be doing everything we can to support major industries in our south-eastern region who provide thousands of local jobs and create the training opportunities for our young people to be future-ready.

We need your help to halt the closure of Progress St.

Scan the QR code below to sign our online community petition so we can show the Allan Labor government the people of Berwick, Cranbourne, Dandenong and Pakenham are prepared to stand up and protect our local businesses.

If you are concerned about other road or rail projects in your neighbourhood, contact my office on 9794 7667 and let’s work together for a better future.

Yours sincerely

20 STAR JOURNAL | Tuesday, 2 April, 2024 dandenong.starcommunity.com.au 12680782-JB14-24
Ann-Marie Hermans MP, Member for South-Eastern Metropolitan Region 1/31 Princes Hwy, Dandenong VIC 3175 03 9794 7667 AnnMarieHermansMP ann-marie.hermans@parliament.vic.gov.au Ann-MarieHermans.com.au
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