Ringwood Spiders Motivation Dinner

The Ringwood Spiders, based at Jubilee Park, is a football club for people with disabilities and is part of the fourteen member Football Integration Development Association league.

Tonight’s dinner provided an off-season social activity and motivational event for the players and supporters of the club. Speakers included Clinton Young and Grant Birchall, two players from the Hawthorn Football Club, who also generously provided the Spiders with a chance to see the Premiership Cup.

A Victoria Police Community Liaison Officer also spoke during the evening to discuss personal safety and the role of the Police within our community. The Ringwood Spiders thoroughly enjoyed the evening and appear eager to begin pre-season training for their season next year.

With a number of off-season events and a commitment to fostering the development of players, the Ringwood Spiders will prove to be a formidable team in 2009.

Coloured Emotions Art Display

The Parent Support Network is a community based organisation that provides support and information to parents for children with a disability. The network provides social groups, workshops and advocacy support for these parents to assist them in caring for their children with a disability.

One of the activities organised by the group is a ten week Art Therapy course, which provides an opportunity for its participants to meet other parents who are caring for children with a disability, as well as being able to express emotion through art.

The launch of the aptly named Coloured Emotions Art Display, is the result of the ten week course and featured paintings, collages and other artworks that were made by the participants. This evening I had the pleasure of launching the exhibition and meeting many of the participants.

As one member stated, ‘art therapy gives me the freedom to express my emotions and unlock deep feelings’. These parents often experience isolation due to work and care commitments and activities like art therapy allow them to share experiences.

Importantly the exhibition also provides an opportunity for parents of children with a disability to demonstrate that they have a voice and they do have needs within the community. These parents often do not see themselves as professional carers and have little available time to advocate on behalf of their needs.

This project provides a voice for these parents and highlights their need for assistance and support. The Parent Support Network Art Therapy course has seen ongoing interest and courses will continue in 2009. Congratulations to each of the participants for their courage in displaying their emotions and for the friendship they have offered each other.

For more information on the Parent Support Network please visit www.psn-emr.com.au.

Ringwood Historical Society – Australian Comforts Fund

The final Ringwood Historical Society meeting for 2008 included two presentations, the first discussed the Australian Comforts Fund and the second included advice on the resources that are available for people interested in researching local history.

The Australian Comforts Fund was a voluntary organisation that was formed to support Australian troops serving overseas. The Australian Comforts Fund, which included divisions in each state, was federated in 1916 becoming the nation’s first federated organisation.

The activities within the Australian Comfort Fund were largely organised by women who led fundraising activities to support Australian troops during World Wars I and II. While the Red Cross assisted injured soldiers and prisoners of war, the Austalian Comforts Fund supported soldiers through providing additional food, clothing, socks and other gifts.

Local branches of the Australian Comforts Fund existed within Ringwood, Croydon and South Warrandyte. The Ringwood branch raised over 3,500 pounds before it was formally dissolved in March 1946. The branch was under the auspice by the RSL War Services Fund and heavily involved in fundraising activities including dances and raffles since the organisation had no form of government assistance. The women involved in the branch also spent many hours providing in-kind support such as knitting and packaging hampers to send to the troops overseas.

Following this presentation there was a discussion on the information sources that are available to assist in researching local and family histories. The State and National Libraries were mentioned, as were local historical societies and the archives that they retain. Council rate books, newspaper archives, records on births, deaths and marriages can also assist in research efforts.

The Ringwood Historical Society has extensive archives and its members also provide first-hand knowledge of Ringwood’s heritage. The society must be congratulated for its efforts in documenting Ringwood’s heritage and for encouraging the community to take an interest in local history.

Ringwood Chamber of Commerce – 2008 End of Year Function

This evening the Ringwood Chamber of Commerce held an end of year function as its final event for 2008. The Ringwood Chamber, which represents Ringwood based businesses, provides a voice for its members and aims to represent their concerns.

The end of year function provided an opportunity to speak to the many participants within the chamber and to discuss goals for 2009. Projects like the Ringwood Transit City will only be successful if they incorporate all members within our community, including businesses.

Since the redevelopment of Eastland and the station forecourt is expected to begin towards the middle of next year there will be the need for proactive strategies to assist in mitigating the temporary adverse effects of these works. Organisations such as the Ringwood Chamber of Commerce and the newly incorporated Maroondah Business Group will play a key role in assisting businesses during this transition.

Maroondah Journal: legal wrangle

As the local council elections enter their final week, the Maroondah Journal has reported on the inaccurate claims made by Mary-Anne Lowe regarding my mobile phone usage.

Last Thursday, Cr Alex Makin’s solicitor sent a notice of intent to take legal action against Mullum candidate Mary-Anne Lowe, concerning an advertisement she placed in the Journal.

The action is in regard to false and inaccurate claims made over my mobile phone usage by Mary-Anne Lowe.

“While it is true that my mobile phone expenses are higher than the other councillors in Maroondah, the expenses are not near the figures that have been claimed,” he said.

One of the key roles in being a local councillor is connecting people into our community and working with local residents to secure results. Unfortunately some of my opponents seem to think that the community is unimportant and would rather rely on running mates and preference deals to secure election.

“I am hoping she will see the errors of her ways. If she publicly apologies, that’ll be the end of it,” Cr Makin said.

While there is the option of potential legal action, my first preference is to receive an apology in regard to the false claims that have been made.

Maroondah Leader: phone bill flak over poll flyer

The Maroondah Leader has reported on the false claims about my mobile phone usage, which were were included on a flyer produced by another Mullum Ward candidate.

Mullum Ward council candidate Alex Makin has threatened legal action against a rival for making exaggerated claims about his mobile phone use.

Rather than produce an accurate depiction of my mobile phone usage, the candidate simply chose to extrapolate incorrect figures based on a request that only asked for my phone usage during a six month period.

“My phone bill is significantly lower than the $10,000 Mary-Anne has calculated,” Cr Makin said. “One of the key roles as a councillor is to talk to the community and I call everyone back.”

In particular, copies of the flyer were left at the Maroondah Council Chambers violating the neutrality of the council building. Council property is owned by residents and ratepayers and therefore is not to be used for electioneering purposes.

Cr Makin said Ms Lowe had left copies of the flyer at the council chambers and that he had lodged a complaint with the Victorian Electoral Commission.

It is unfortunate that a candidate would choose to perpetuate false claims and hold little regard for local governance by violating the neutrality of council property. I have referred this matter to the Victorian Electoral Commission so that it can be properly investigated.

Eastern Volunteers Brainstorming Session

After this morning’s Eastern Volunteers board meeting I was invited to attend a brainstorming session involving staff, volunteers and the voluntary board of management. The session aimed to explore new ideas to assist Eastern Volunteers in diversifying its funding sources.

The discussion explored potential annual events, grant applications, sponsorship and potential business opportunities and the ideas generated will be formally examined by the organisation.

As a provider of transport services for the aged and people with disabilities and a referral service for volunteers across Maroodah, Whitehorse and the Yarra Ranges, Eastern Volunteers provides a critical service for our community by encouraging social inclusion.

In particular the organisation has a goal of raising $500,000 to purchase new premises to ensure the continued growth and development of the organisation and the ideas that were discussed this afternoon will assist in achieving this objective.

Maroondah Citizens Advice Bureau – 2008 end of year function

The Maroondah Citizen’s Advice Bureau provides emergency relief and referral services for some of Maroondah’s most vulnerable residents. The Bureau is staffed almost entirely by volunteers and today’s end of year luncheon provided an opportunity to thank the committed individuals who dedicate their time to assist other people in need.

This year has seen a number of significant changes within the Maroondah Citizens Advice Bureau, including the adoption of a new business plan and the creation of a new office manager position. This position will manage both the Ringwood and Croydon offices and will have an emphasis on securing additional funding and volunteer recruitment.

Applications for the position have now closed and the committee of management is currently considering applicants for this position. The appointment of a new office manager will help ensure the sustainability of a service that has existed since 1967 and has a long history within Maroondah.

Thank you to all our volunteers for their dedication and commitment over the past year.

Enjoying Planned Retirement Annual General Meeting

Enjoying Planned Retirement (EPR) is one of three groups based at Norwood Hall in Warrandyte Road, Ringwood North. This evening EPR held its annual general meeting to appoint officebearers for the next twelve months.

EPR prides itself on being an active, unique and progressive activities club for seniors and this is reflected in its constitution, which requires the President to stand down after a two year term. This assists the club in considering new ideas and helps distribute the workload of committee positions. As a result, the club’s President Kath Perkins stepped down from her position and James Jamieson, the Vice-President was elected unopposed into the President role.

As the local ward councillor I have worked with Kath over the past two years to assist EPR with council issues and it has been delightful to have been assisted such a lively and inclusive club. Through its group conveners EPR is able to organise a wide range of activities, including wine tasting, performances, caravan trips, tennis, social gatherings, outings and cardgames. I have been a regular attendee to several EPR events, including its annual Spotlighters Performance, the Bocce afternoons and its Hidden Talents concert, all of which reinforce the fun friendly and inclusive nature of the organisation.

While EPR has over 400 members, its key priority over the next twelve months will be the expansion of its membership base. The committee is currently considering strategies to encourage new members and I have offered to design a website to assist in promoting the group.

I wish the incoming committee the best of wishes and I look forward to continuing my association with EPR.

Rotary Club of Ringwood – introducing new members

The Rotary Club of Ringwood meets on a weekly basis at Club Ringwood, on the corners of Maroondah Highway and Oban Road, to provide fellowship and service for the community.

New Rotary members are encouraged to make an introductory speech entitled ‘My life, My job’ and this evening Gareth Hardman made his introductory presentation, discussing his background in the banking and finance industry, as well as his young family in Heathmont.

Gareth was accepted into Rotary at the same meeting as myself and it is great to see another younger person actively participating within the club. Gareth is community minded and discussed his interest in the community and desire to become actively involved within the club.

The introductory presentation provides an opportunity to know new members and to learn about their interests within Rotary. My introductory speech will be held in mid December.