Ableart 2008

Able Australia, formerly the deafblind association, provides a range of support services for people with multiple disabilities. Ableart 2008 was the second exhibition promoting artwork by people with multiple disabilities. The program aims to provide art therapy through providing ways for people with multiple disabilities to explore their creativity and express themselves through their artwork.

This afternoon I attended the launch of the Ableart 2008 exhibition at Australia on Collins in Melbourne’s CBD. A number of artists were available at the launch to discuss their works and it was great to see a strong community interest in the artworks.

The Ableart exhibition will be shown throughout September and 100% of the purchase price goes directly to the artist. For further details please visit

Planning within Maroondah

Planning is one of the more vexing issues in being a local Councillor. It is important to ensure a high standard of planning while also protecting our municipality from inappropriate development.

Whether an objector or applicant it is important to understand the planning process so that we can achieve outcomes that result in creating a better Maroondah. Planning in Maroondah is guided by the Maroondah Planning Scheme, which in turn is affected by the Victorian State Planning Provisions. The Planning Scheme defines the type of development or uses that require a planning permit.

The planning process formally begins with the advertising of a planning permit. It is during this time that people can view the lodged plans and potentially object to the application. There are a number of factors that are taken into account when considering a planning permit, one of those being Maroondah’s Neighbourhood Character Study. The Neighbourhood Character Study divides the residential parts of Maroondah into 23 areas based on their defining urban characteristics. Details on the Maroondah Neighbour hood Character Study are available from

The planning process allows the opportunity to improve community infrastructure and assist in creating a more sustainable and accessible municipality . As an example, any permits within the Ringwood Transit City, require the construction of footpaths to ensure that council is able to encourage walking and sustainable transport. This also helps achieve a more accessible municipality for people with disabilities and walking aids. Furthermore I have been able to request a number of sustainability improvements, such as rainwater tanks and energy improvements as part of a planning application.

It is important that the community is offered the opportunity to provide input when council considers a planning application. To ensure that community views are taken into account I will often call planning consultative meetings. These meetings, which include objectors as well as the applicant, provide an opportunity to reinforce concerns and to see if any of the issues raised can be addressed.

While planning can unfortunately be somewhat adversarial in nature, planning consultative meetings help reduce this potential conflict by seeing whether a community supported outcome is possible. This approach ensures a higher standard of development within Maroondah while also preventing inappropriate development.

Please contact me on 0408 311 645 or email if there are any planning issues you would like to discuss.

Ringwood Historical Society – the history of Ringwood's railways

Tonight’s Ringwood Historical Society meeting included a presentation from a former Ringwood East resident who discussed the history of Ringwood’s railways.

The rail line from Hawthorn to Camberwell was completed in April 1882 and later extended to Lilydale in December of that year. The 1st of December 1882 marked the opening of Ringwood Station and operated as both a goods and passenger service.

The extension to Upper Ferntree Gully occurred six years later in December 1889 and the line was extended to Belgrave in 1962.

The construction of Ringwood Station, between Wantirna and Warrandyte Roads, was chosen due to its flat land despite not being the centre of activity in Ringwood at the time. The chosen site had major ramifications for the development of Ringwood, with it refocusing the centre of Ringwood around the railway station and away from the antimony mines of Ringwood East.

Croydon Station was also opened on the 1st of December 1882, however it was known as Warrandyte until 1884. The renaming occurred to prevent confusion when passengers realised they still had to catch a coach service from the station to arrive at Warrandyte.

The other stations within Maroondah were opened after electrification, which began in 1924 and was completed by 1926. Ringwood East Station was opened on the 18th of May 1925 and Heathmont was opened on the 1st of May 1926. The grade separation of Warrandyte Road occurred as part of the electrification works.

The history of Ringwood has been dramatically shaped by the railways and it was rather fitting that the proclamation of the Borough of Ringwood (severed from the Shire of Lilydale) occurred in 1924 during the time that the Ringwood line was being electrified.

Following the history of Ringwood’s railways, the Society’s presentation Russ Haines provided a history of antimony mining within Ringwood. Mining had a huge impact on the settlement of Ringwood, with extensive antimony mining occurring from 1869 until 1892. Antimony was used extensively during that time for the manufacturing of rubber, pewter, paint pigments and within the print industry.

Approximately 3,600 tonnes was mined between 1873 and 1889 with mining occurring during Summer months. The antimony was processed during Winter months due to the 30 feet (9.1 metre) deep mines being susceptible to rising water tables.

A number of mines existing within Ringwood with the most prominent being Boardman’s Antimony Company, which was located on the current site of the Maroondah Civic Centre. The company briefly resumed operating between 1920 and 1934 due to the Great Depression.

The many layers of Ringwood’s history provide a diverse and unique history for the area. The Ringwood Historical Society meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at Federation Estate. For further details visit

Ringwood Spiders 2008 Presentation Night

The Ringwood Spiders Football Club competes in the Football Integration Development Association (FIDA), which provides a football program for people with mild to medium intellectual disabilities.

This season has marked an impressive year for the Ringwood Spiders with the group becoming incorporated and a committee being established to oversee the development of the club. In addition the Ringwood Spiders has provided sponsorship opportunities for businesses and individuals to sponsor a player and assist in funding equipment for the club.

I was pleased to be one of the 2008 sponsors, through supporting Tom Raisebeck one of the new players in the 2008 season. Sponsorship is available for $150 and provides a great way of supporting the Ringwood Spiders and their aim of providing people with disabilities an opportunity to interact, participate and build social skills and leadership.

The off-field success for the Spiders was replicated on the field with the club winning four games in the season and making it into the semi-finals. In addition the Spiders implemented a pre-season training program and several players had the opportunity to participate FIDA’s City v Country game, as well as interstate games.

A strong team spirit has evolved throughout this year and tonight’s function provided a chance to celebrate the season and share in the enthusiasm for the club. The Ringwood Spiders have come a long way in this season and no doubt they will be an even greater force in 2009!

Scoot Wheel n Move meeting – Introduction to Eastern Access Community Health

Scoot Wheel n Move was a council initiated group that aims to improve accessibility for people with mobility aids.

Since it’s inception two years ago, the group has organised a number of successful initiatives, including the recharge program where local businesses provide recharge facilities for people with motorised mobility aids, a booklet on mobility aids as well as an expo and public forum on accessibility.

Today’s meeting focused on the future direction of Scoot Wheel n Move so that it continues to be an effective advocate for accessibility improvements within Maroondah. In this regard Eastern Access Community Health (EACH) has expressed an interest in providing administrative support so that Scoot Wheel n Move can operate with greater autonomy from council.

Greater autonomy will enable the group to strengthen its advocacy efforts particularly in regard to securing accessibility improvements to Eastland and the redevelopment of Ringwood Station. The meeting today provided an opportunity to meet Eastern Access Community Health (EACH) and to discuss the future priorities for the group. It was encouraging to see Scoot Wheel n Move members support the transition to EACH and this will be further developed at the next group meeting.

In addition, the group expressed its interest in the State Government’s bus service reviews for Maroondah and it is important that Scoot Wheel n Move is provided with an opportunity to participate in this process. This will enable members to raise their concerns with bus services, including the need for more low floor buses and improvements to frequencies and service spans.

Similarly, I was able to discuss with the group a proposal put forward by 13 CABS via the Eastern Transport Coalition. 13 CABS wishes to establish an outer eastern taxi zone covering Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and would provide a more responsive taxi service for people beginning or completing their journey within the zone.

This means that there should be an increase in taxis readily available for shorter journeys within the region, as well as at least 60 maxi taxis available for use within Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

13 CABS are currently developing the plan with assistance from Maroondah, Whitehorse, Manningham, Knox and Yarra Ranges Councils. It is hoped that the State Government will agree to the proposal and allow the creation of the outer eastern taxi zone.

The lack of readily available transport is continually raised as a major issue for people with disabilities. It is critical that advocacy for transport improvements, such as the redevelopment of Ringwood Station and better bus services, continues so that we can improve the mobility of Maroondah residents and people with disabilities.

Eastern Transport Coalition – Strengthening our aims and objectives

With the success of the Eastern Transport Coalition’s recent public transport summit and State Government announcing that it will release a new transport plan in November of this year, it was timely to review the group’s mission statement and objectives to reflect the growing need for public transport improvements.

The ETC’s mission statement has been revised to reflect the importance of accessibility, as well as the need for an integrated public transport system that will improve the liveability of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. The mission now reads as follows:

The Eastern Transport Coalition will advocate for integrated and accessible sustainable transport in the Eastern region of Melbourne to improve liveability and reduce car dependency.

This mission statement will ensure that that the ETC will remain a strong advocate for public transport improvements within its member councils.

Tonight’s meeting also included a presentation from the Bus Association of Victoria to provide some input into the impending bus service reviews for Maroondah, Knox and the Yarra Ranges. It is unsurprising that bus routes that have received improvements, such as frequent services and longer operating spans, have seen patronage increases, especially the Ringwood to Frankston SmartBus which has seen almost a 60% increase in patronage.

The success of the Ringwood to Frankston SmartBus, as well as other SmartBus routes demonstrates that people will use bus services when they are fast, frequent, direct and readily available. The State Government must therefore respond by accelerating its implementation of the SmartBus program so that the orbital network is completed by the end of 2010, rather than the original completion date of 2015. This would assist in providing transport choice for residents that live beyond the reaches of the rail network.

Likewise local routes need further improvements with the the State Government’s minimum service standard of hourly frequencies being inadequate. These routes should be provided with a half-hourly frequency, which would enable better connections with the rail network and other bus services.

The bus network across Melbourne’s eastern suburbs requires substantial improvements and the State Government must use the bus service review process to deliver bus services that provide transport choice for Melbourne’s outer east.

I have stressed to my council colleagues the importance of engaging the community over the bus service reviews. Council will be hosting its own forum to discuss bus improvements once the State Government releases its timeframe for the service reviews. This will ensure that council is providing feedback that is consistent with the views of our community.

We must continue making a difference to secure public transport improvements within Maroondah and Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

Rotary Club of Ringwood – the GROW program

The Rotary Club of Ringwood is one of the many Rotary clubs that form District 9810 covering Melbourne’s eastern and southeastern suburbs.

Tonight’s Rotary meeting included a speaker from GROW, a peer support program for people with mental illnesses. The organisation was formed in 1957 as a community based mental health movement organised and led by people who have experienced mental health issues. GROW consists of a network of over 300 local groups, including Box Hill, Ringwood and Lilydale. The groups meet on a weekly basis for a two hour duration and provide mutual support for members.

GROW has recently initiated a new project known as GROW – Better Together. This program, which received funding through the Federal Government, provides peer support for Carers of someone with a mental illness. The initiative provides an opportunity for carers to discuss their situations and challenges with other cares and provide mutual support. Like GROW, the GROW – Better Together program meets on a weekly basis for a two hour duration. A GROW – Better Together group has been meeting at Ringwood since February this year at the Eastern Access Community Health (EACH) offices in Warrandyte Road.

GROW is a unique organisation focused on mutual support and self help, for more information on please visit

Media Release: Rattle some chains at the Annual Punkfest

Smooth the hair into a Mohawk and get the chains and studded leather ready for the 6th annual Punkfest at EV’s Youth Centre in Croydon on Friday 12 September.

Councillor Alex Makin said the annual Maroondah Punkfest has become one of Melbourne’s leading underage FReeZA gigs.

“The Maroondah Punkfest brings together some big names in the Australian punk scene while giving talented local bands a chance to perform before an enthusiastic audience,” said Cr Makin.

“This year’s lineup on the Main Stage at EV’s features five bands, with headliner act Yidcore returning to Melbourne following a successful tour in Israel and the release of their latest EP,” said Cr Makin.

Supporting Yidcore will be The Resignators, Ashleys Affair, Paris, and Two Cone Tyrone.

Maroondah Punkfest is an annual event organised by Maroondah Youth Services FReeZA group, Out Loud Audio.

Punkfest will run from 6.30pm to 11pm on Friday 12 September at EV’s Youth Centre, with tickets available at the door for $10 with a pass, or $12 without.

EV’s Youth Centre is located at 212 Mt Dandenong Road, Croydon.

This is an all ages, fully supervised, drug, alcohol and smoke free event. There are no passouts.

For more information and band set times call Amanda on 9298 4379 or visit or

Maroondah Leader: Out to give access a push-along

The Maroondah Disability Action Group aims to provide a community led voice for people with disabilities and will advocate for greater inclusion and accessibility to all levels of government.

The recent formation of the group has been covered by the Maroondah Leader, where group spokesperson Margaret Stevens stated that one of the immediate priorities is to comment on Maroondah’s Disability Policy and Action Plan.

Cr Alex Makin said the group’s formation showed how important accessibility was in Maroondah. He said he looked forward to working with members to improve bus routes and Ringwood railway station.

The Maroondah Disability Policy and Action Plan is currently in draft status and was released for public exhibition at Monday’s council meeting. This provides an opportunity for community feedback to ensure that the document achieves its vision of an inclusion municipality.

Maroondah has one of the highest proportions of people with disabilities within the state of Victoria and it is therefore important that council is at the forefront of creating an accessible and inclusive municipality. The Maroondah Disability Action Group as a community based advocacy group will help ensure that council remains accountable to people with disabilities.

The Maroondah Draft Disability Policy and Action Plan is available from the Maroondah Council website. Comments are required by Tuesday the 16th of September.

Maroondah Journal: Petrol, housing costs 'hitting eastern suburbs'

Griffith University academics, Dr Jago Dodson and Dr Neil Sipe recently released Unsettling Suburbia: The new landscape of oil and mortgage vulnerability in Australian cities. The report further explores the VAMPIRE index (Vulnerability Assessment for Mortgage, Petroleum and Inflation Risks and Expenses) whereby the costs borne by rising petrol prices and mortgages are compared across suburbs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the report finds that Melbourne’s outer suburbs, including the eastern region, is more vulnerable to rising petrol prices compared to the inner or middle suburbs.

Cr Alex Makin, spokesman for the Eastern Transport Coalition of seven municipalities, said the report highlighted the “dire need” of improvements to outer east transport.

Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs are vulnerable to rising petrol prices due to the lack of readily available public transport. This results in higher levels of car dependence and thus a higher proportion of income being vulnerable to rising petrol prices.

“The rise in oil prices affects the mobility of the community and it is critical for action to be taken now.”

While petrol prices have decreased slightly in recent weeks, trends are continuing to show further increases. It is therefore imperative that Melbourne’s outer suburbs are provided with transport choice, through the provision of frequent, reliable and readily available public transport.

Council has an important role to play in advocating for public transport improvements, particularly since the State Government will be undertaking a review of Maroondah’s bus services towards the end of this year. This review will provide the opportunity to request higher service frequencies, increased operating spans and new routes to cover areas such as Canterbury Road, Mount Dandenong Road and Warranwood which lack much needed bus services.

In addition, Council must strengthen its advocacy for the upgrade of Ringwood Station. The State Government can no longer be allowed to ignore the dire state of Ringwood Station, a facility that is perceived to be unsafe by our community and fails to meet accessibility standards.

While a number of municipalities including the City of Knox are currently considering a Peak Oil Policy, some of my colleagues on council are unfortunately reluctant to consider such action despite the economic, social and environmental consequences for Maroondah.