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Financial woes sting residents By Esther Lauaki Melton and Bacchus Marsh have been counted among Victoria’s bankruptcy hotspots, an Australian Financial Security Authority report shows. Between July and September this year, 44 personal insolvencies from Melton and Bacchus Marsh were lodged with the authority. In the same period, those areas recorded an additional five debtors with business-related insolvencies.

Wyndham topped the number of people declaring bankruptcy in Victoria with 105 residents going bust over the past quarter and another 18 debtors lodging business-related insolvencies. The Whittlesea-Wallan areas in the north followed with 81 personal cases and 12 business cases. The authority report, released earlier this month, said the main reasons Australians cited for declaring personal bankruptcy were “excessive use of credit”, unemployment or loss

of income, and domestic discord or relationship breakdown. Financial counsellor Colin Handreck, of Moorabool-based Child and Family Services Financial Counselling, said staff were often asked to help with debt management and housing affordability. Melton residents also ranked among the highest in the state for mortgage arrears and debt collection for utility bills. Mr Handreck said people who lived in Melton and Moorabool, but worked outside of

the area, often faced high costs in petrol, public transport and road tolls. Overall, personal insolvencies in Victoria numbered 1545 for the three months to September, up 6.6 per cent from the 1449 during the same quarter last year. Financial Counselling West, operated by Djerriwarrh Health Services based in Melton and Caroline Springs, can be contacted on 1300 786 696. Moorabool residents can contact Child and Family Services Financial Counselling on 5367 9900.

On track for new station

Nesrine, student welfare co-ordinator Vince Gentile and Corey. (Shawn Smits)

Tram crew’s cafe ready for big brew Springside P-9 College students have breathed new life into an old Z-class tram as part of an innovative education program. Year 7, 8 and 9 students at the Caroline Springs school have been refurbishing the tram to turn it into a student-run cafe as part of the Hands On Learning program. Program co-ordinator Lisa Vagg said the program ran at Springside P-9, Creekside and Brookside colleges and aimed at changing the way students felt about school. “It’s all about keeping them engaged in learning,” Ms Vagg said.

“Kids learn differently so it’s great to build on their strengths and give them the opportunity to gain skills outside the classroom in building and hospitality.” At Springside, one crew of students has been building the tram cafe while another has been running The Next Stop Cafe out of the school’s home-economics room. The Next Stop Cafe operates at recess and lunchtimes on Friday for students and teachers. It will start operating from the tram early next year. The Hands On Learning program,

supported by Save the Children, recently earned international recognition after it was named in Finland’s Global 100 list of the most inspiring education innovations from across the world. “The program was recognised for its innovativeness, impact and scalability, with the listing noting that Hands on Learning is about being brave enough to try something that isn’t traditional schooling for at least one day per week,” Ms Vagg said.

Toolern residents are set to benefit from a new train station near Ferris Road in Melton South. The station will be based on the Ballarat line between Rockbank and Melton and is expected to be open by late 2019. The state government last week announced that the new service will be built to accommodate Melbourne’s booming outer-western suburbs and the growth of the Atherstone community. Toolern’s population is expected to jump to 55,000 people, from 1000 people, over the next decade. The station will include a carpark, a bus interchange and bike storage. Melton locals can have their say on the station’s designs in the coming weeks. Melton mayor Bob Turner said: “Council has been advocating to the state government for a new train station on behalf of our residents for years and we’re excited that plans and works are finally under way. “A new train station at Toolern is fantastic news, and will help service the rapidly growing population. “Access to close public transport will only provide greater incentive for more people to move to our thriving city.” Lendlease’s communities business managing director Matthew Wallace said the new station was a game-changer. “We acknowledge the state government’s vision in bringing this project to life. “For our Atherstone residents this means a shorter commute time into the CBD, allowing them to spend more time with their family,” Mr Wallace said. Dewi Sherry

Esther Lauaki

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