Discussing the Croydon Conservation Society with Channel 31's Eastern Newsbeat

This morning the Croydon Conservation Society was interviewed as part of Channel 31’s Eastern News Beat program. Participants in the interview included the President, Liz Sanzaro, the Secretary, Sandra Hardiman, committee member Margot Seidel and myself as the group’s Treasurer.

The interview covered topics such as the history of the Croydon Conservation Society, its successes over tree canopy protection and parkland improvements and current campaigns such as lobbying for the introduction of container deposit legislation, similar to the successful program that has been operating in South Australia.

I also discussed the Croydon Conservation Society’s involvement in the lobbying for public transport improvements, including the need for ongoing advocacy to ensure the redevelopment of Ringwood Station. The Society provides a crucial voice for the Maroondah community and assists in demonstrating the support that exists to improving the sustainability of our municipality.

Eastern News Beat is a weekly program that provides news and information from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. The program is broadcast each Monday at 9.00am and on Thursday at 11.30am.

For more information on Channel 31 please visit www.channel31.org.au. For information on the Croydon Conservation Society please visit www.croydonconservation.org.au.

2008 Young Leaders Program Presentation Night

This evening I had the privilege of officiating the 2008 Young Leaders Program hosted by EV’s Youth Centre in Croydon.

Alex awarding a certificate to a participant of 2008 Young Leaders Program

The Young Leaders Program is a week long program aimed towards year 10 students by providing them with a variety of leadership skills, such as public speaking, communication and conflict resolution. At the conclusion of the program the participants host a presentation evening to demonstrate the skills they have learnt.

It was fantastic to see each participant gain so much from the program and I hope that they will continue to use these leadership qualities in not just their school and employment pursuits but also within the broader community. Many community groups would welcome the input and dedication of younger people and it is imperative that our future generations step forward to continue the strong tradition of volunteering that we have within our community.

Alex with the participants of the 2008 Young Leaders Program

Please continue reading for a copy of the speech that I delivered this evening.

Continue reading “2008 Young Leaders Program Presentation Night”

Media Release: Get in early for teenage holiday action this winter

There’s something for everyone these school holidays with an exciting range of entertainment and activities on offer in the Winter Teenage Holiday Program.

Maroondah City Council has planned a great holiday program for young people 12 to 16 years of age with six jampacked days of fun from Monday 30 June to Friday 11 July.

Councillor Alex Makin believes school holiday programs are a great way for young people to stay entertained while trying new activities and meeting new people their own age.

“To tie in with the winter theme, there’s a whole day of snow delight at Lake Mountain with all equipment provided, as well as a session of ice-skating at the touring rink at Waterfront City in the Docklands precinct,” said Cr Makin.

“Spend the 4th of July visiting the Melbourne Aquarium and Galactic Circus, Australia’s largest indoor interactive theme park with hundreds of the latest arcade games,” said Cr Makin.

“Other activities include cartooning workshop and movies; go karts and dodgem cars at Fun City; and a day of adventure golf and computer games,” said Cr Makin.

The cost for the holiday program varies between $17 to $32 per day, depending on the activity. For further information or to book activities, telephone Dure Morrell, Youth Program Worker on 9298 4252.

Bookings are essential and close on Friday 6 June, however enquiries may be made after this date in case any vacancies exist.

Ringwood Historical Society – Children of the Early Licensees of the Coach and Horses Hotel

Tonight’s Ringwood Historical Society meeting featured a presentation from Anita Barker, who is submitting a thesis on the childhood toys that were uncovered at the original site of the Coach and Horses Hotel.

Anita’s research is unique to Australia and the world, with very little being researched in regard to historical toys, where she covers toys that were used during the early 1900s when the Coach and Horses was leased by the O’Meara family. Over 200 artefacts were excavated at the Coach and Horses site, which at the time was located along the southern side of Maroondah Highway.

The Coach and Horses, which was a log cabin structure at the time, was burnt down in a fire during 1907 and while the O’Meara family escaped the blaze, the hotel was completely destroyed. The toys that were excavated at the site were dated from the early 1900s through to the time of the fire. While some of the toys, such as tin soldiers would have melted under the heat of the fire, tea sets, marbles, writing slates and bisque dolls were able to be recovered.

In the early 1900s, toys were sold through the local post office as well as mail catalogue and the O’Meara family appeared keen to provide their children with some of the latest toys that were available at the time. Consumerism also appeared to be rife, with shops directly marketing to children through the use of coupons, brochures and toy makers that provided eye catching decorative designs. The intricate nature of the toys was remarkable, given that they would have been hand made and spent many months being shipped over from Europe.

The O’Meara family remained in Ringwood until the 1907 fire and later appeared to have relocated to the South Melbourne area.

Anita’s presentation is another example of the diverse topics that are discussed at the Ringwood Historical Society. Meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of each month from 8pm at Federation Estate.

For further details please visit www.rhs.org.au.

Maroondah Journal: City cool on climate change

Maroondah Council is currently considering its budget for the 2008 to 2009 financial year with expectations that the council will commit to reducing greenhouse emissions. Unfortunately much to the dissatisfaction of the community, council’s draft budget fails to provide funding to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The Maroondah Journal has reported on my attempts to further refine the budget prior to it being considered by council.

Cr Alex Makin opposed the release of the draft budget, saying it was incomplete.

While the proposed council budget has solid foundations it is currently incomplete since it does not allocate any new funds to improving our environmental sustainability and reducing greenhouse emissions. Council’s emissions are continuing to increase despite pledging to reduce emissions by 20% before the year 2010.

He said the council should release funding similar to the $1.05 million allocated to environmental sustainability in its 2007-08 budget.

Maroondah Council demonstrated leadership when it allocated over a million dollars to water sustainability and reducing its water usage. Similar measures are required in regard to energy usage to provide economic, social and environmental sustainability for future generations.

I call on my colleagues to not forget the need to honour our greenhouse reduction targets and to demonstrate ongoing leadership in the issue of environmental sustainability.

The proposed Council Budget is currently available for public comment. I urge the community to submit its thoughts and to demand that council meets and exceeds its greenhouse reduction commitments.

For further information please visit www.maroondah.vic.gov.au.

Maroondah Journal: More councillors, less wards under electoral boundary changes

The Maroondah Journal has reported on the new ward structure that will apply to Maroondah City Council from the November elections. The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) has found that three wards, electing three councillors each would provide a greater level of representation for the City of Maroondah.

The official council submission made a futile attempt to try and retain the status quo.

“Cr Alex Makin disagreed [with the council stance], saying the new structure would provide greater diversity of people standing for election.”

Myself and Councillors Jo-anne Taylor and Maureen Naylor suggested that a new ward structure was required to provide a higher standard of local democracy. In my submission to the VEC I stated that multi-member wards would ensure a more holistic approach to council and encourage cooperation.

“Residents are confused about who represents them because of the way Maroondah is divided. This simple structure should change that.”

Maroondah’s existing ward structure wards arbitrary boundaries that make it confusing for people to identify their ward councillor. The new structure with larger wards means that residents will be able to clearly identify the ward they are within, thus making it easier to raise concerns with council.

The VEC should be congratulated for maintaining its independence and for not being swayed by council’s attempt to maintain the current inequitable and confusing ward structure.

Maroondah acknowledges Reconciliation Week and National Sorry Day

National Sorry Day, which is part of Reconciliation Week, is held on the 26th of May to acknowledge and learn from the mistreatment experienced towards indigenous Australians. National Sorry Day was first convened in 1997 in recognition of the Bringing Them Home Report, which investigated the Stolen Generation and the forced removal of Indigenous children.

Reconciliation, which is held between the 27th of May and the 3rd of June, follows National Sorry Day and provides an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the culture of Indigenous Australians and to discuss how to further the cause of reconciliation within Australia.

The dates of Reconciliation Week coincide with two significant events in relation to Indigenous Australia. The 27th of May marks the anniversary of the 1967 Referendum where over 90% of Australians voted to remove discriminatory clauses from the Australian Constitution against Indigenous Australians. The 3rd of June is the anniversary of the 1992 High Court of Australia’s judgement in the Mabo Case, where native title was recognised thus reversing the concept of terra nullius, where the it was claimed that Australia was unoccupied at the time of first settlement in 1788.

The theme for the 2008 Reconciliation Week is Reconciliation: it’s all our story. This reflects that reconciliation is shared between all Australians and all levels of government. The Federal Government recently delivered an apology on behalf of the Parliament of Australia in recognition of the mistreatment towards Indigenous Australians and Maroondah, as the form of government closest to the community needs to follow this leadership in progressing reconciliation.

Maroondah is now flying the Aboriginal Flag at both its Ringwood and Croydon Civic Centres and has a draft Reconciliation Policy, which was recently out for public comment and exhibition. The Policy aims to reaffirm council’s commitment to reconciliation and will need to demonstrate council leadership.

Local government has a key role to play in educating the community and assisting in reducing the gaps in life expectancy, health and educational opportunities between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. We should congratulate the many individuals and community groups, such as the Maroondah Movement for Reconciliation, Learning and Reconciliation Maroondah and the Mullum-Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place, which have worked with council and the community to advance the cause of reconciliation.

The national emblem for National Sorry Day is the Native Hibiscus flower, which is found widely across Australia, and is available from the Kimberley Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation as a silk commemorative flower. Today’s proceedings included the welcome to country by Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Doreen Garvey-Wandin who spoke about her passion for the land, the history of family and the need to continue towards reconciliation.

Many schools and community groups participated in today’s commemoration of National Sorry Day and the proceedings included the hip hop talents of Tjimba and the Yung Warriors whose songs referred to the challenges facing indigenous Australians. It was great to see the many school students partaking the festivities by dancing to the hip hop beat.

It is critical that our community continues to demonstrate its expectation that Maroondah strengthen and further its commitment towards reconciliation. All Australians have the right to expect an equitable society that is free of discrimination and provides opportunities for all and local government has a key role to play in furthering this cause.

Eastern Access Community Health – Screening of Liyarn Ngarn

Eastern Access Community House (EACH) provides a diverse range of health services for the community, including disability services, mental health services, primary care, community information, education and counselling.

Stage Club, located at Lifeworks at 9 Greenwood Avenue, Ringwood orangises film or life performances, such as plays, poetry or music, every third Friday, providing an opportunity for people with mental illness to learn skills relevant to the entertainment industry.

As part of its commitment to Reconciliation Week, EACH and the Stage Club program, hosted a screening of Liyarn Ngarn; which means ‘coming together of the spirit’ in the Yawuru language of the West Kimberley region.

Liyarn Ngarn is a documentary that explores the treatment of Indigenous Australians, as seen through the perspective of English actor Peter Postlethwaite, accompanied by Archie Roach and Patrick Dodson. Peter, explored the plight of Indigenous Australians after meeting Bill Johnson, an old friend of his, by chance in Perth. Bill and his wife, adopted an Aboriginal child Louis, who died tragically in 1992 after being beaten on his 19th birthday and subsequently denied proper care within the hospital system.

The film follows their journey as they travel from Perth through to Archie Roach’s home country in south-west Victoria providing a journey through outback Australia and the treatment of indigenous Australians. During the journey the documentary explores major turning points in the country’s relationship with Indigenous Australians.

Personal accounts make the film a very powerful documentary, particularly through music from the album “Journey” where Archie Roach re-tells the experiences of Indigenous Australians through his lyrics. Liyran Ngarn demonstrates the need for ongoing reconciliation with Indigenous Australians so that past mistakes will not be repeated.

For further information on Eastern Access Community Health (EACH) please visit www.each.com.au.

Maroondah Leader: Threat to orchid grows

Maroondah’s environmental groups are rallying behind the opportunity to protect the Kilsyth South spider orchid. The Maroondah Leader has reported on the efforts to preserve one of the world’s rarest plants.

The Kilsyth South spider orchid, which was found in 1991 at 6 Tereddan Drive in Kilsyth South, is listed as critically endangered under State and Federal legislation. The property has recently been listed for sale providing council, State and Federal Governments with the opportunity to purchase the property and protect this very rare plant.

Councillor Alex Makin said buying the site – bordered by council-owned bushland, a Melbourne Water retarding basin and a Trust for Nature Reserve – would complete “one of the largest bush reserves in Maroondah”.

Given the endangered status of the Kilsyth South spider orchid and the fact that it would connect areas of biological significance, it makes sense for the property to be jointly purchased by government and council.

Maroondah Journal: Business worry on highway

The Maroondah Journal has reported on the concern shared by the business community in regard to the lack of a State Government commitment over Ringwood Station and the uncertainty this creates for the future of Ringwood.

Cr Alex Makin said changes to Maroondah Highway could be in doubt because of the State Government’s failure to provide funding to Ringwood rail station.

Among the many proposals thrown into doubt is the calming of Maroondah Highway, which is required to create a vibrant and accessible commercial and retail precinct within the centre of Ringwood.

“It is very unlikely to occur separately”. He said it would be a missed opportunity if VicRoads reneged on its decision.

Improvements to Ringwood should not be left in the lurch simply due to State Government inaction. VicRoads has an opportunity to review the role of Maroondah Highway once EastLink opens and this must not be missed.