Media Release: Stroke a Chord goes from the stage to the screen

A documentary on the establishment and success of Maroondah’s Stroke a Chord choir will be filmed thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Ian Potter Foundation.

Maroondah Councillor Alex Makin said the choir was started in 2010 to give people with limited or no speech the opportunity to experience something positive and joyful with their voice.

“The members of the choir may not be able to speak, but they still have the ability to sing. This is the reality experienced by a number of people living with aphasia,” Cr Makin said.

“The idea for the choir was first raised during Stroke Week 2008. After hearing that several people in Maroondah were living with aphasia, Council took the first tentative steps towards the formation of a choir,” Cr Makin said.

“With the help of a number of external organisations, the choir has gone from strength to strength, with more than 20 members now meeting every week at Maroondah Family Church in Ringwood East,” Cr Makin said.

“The choir has a qualified music therapist of Yooralla working alongside the participants to ensure they are getting the most out of the experience,” Cr Makin said.

Cr Makin said making a documentary about the choir was one more way to spread the word about aphasia and the benefits of the choir.

“The $20,000 to make the documentary will allow the participants to share their journey with Stroke a Chord, and highlight the positive health benefits that being part of the choir has had for stroke survivors and their families,” Cr Makin said.

“I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of the participants since the choir began, and the documentary will allow these people the chance to let them share their voice with the world again,” Cr Makin said.

“Seeing the positive changes in the mental and physical health of the participants will hopefully inspire other people with aphasia to consider becoming part of a community activity,” Cr Makin said.

The Stroke a Chord initiative is a partnership between Council, Yooralla, Royal Talbot Hospital, University of Queensland, Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, Croydon Stroke Support Group and Melbourne University.

Yooralla’s Eastern Region Communication Service speech pathologist Bronwen Jones said the participants were excited about sharing their story as part of the documentary.

“The choir has been such a terrific success, and everybody who has had something to do with it has just been blown away by the personal stories of these participants,” Ms Jones said.

“These people have got very little speech, so we thought being in public would be confronting. But when they perform they turn into show ponies,” Ms Jones said.

“They really have blossomed, they have been filmed for the Today show and recorded for ABC radio’s Life Matters program. They are all keen to share their stories and show people that there is life after stroke,” Ms Jones said.

Filming for the documentary is expected to start in July, with production expected to take about six months.

Stroke a Chord will perform publically for the first time at 2pm, Saturday September 17 at Karralyka Theatre, Ringwood East. For more information or to purchase a ticket visit

The 2011 Young Leaders Presentation Evening

The Young Leaders Program is a week long imitative providing leadership opportunities for Year 10 students within Maroondah. The program works with schools to identify potential students who undertake a week-long intensive leadership course at EV’s Youth Centre in Croydon.

The program covers public speaking, confidence and teamwork, with the aim of developing leadership skills. At the end of the course the participants organise a presentation evening, which includes the presentation of certificates from Council.

This evening I was invited to speak about the program and to formally congratulate the students for their completion of the course. The speech delivered during the presentation is available within this post:

Continue reading “The 2011 Young Leaders Presentation Evening”

Attendance Report: Promoting the arts and community organisations

On the 31st of March I had the pleasure of opening Parole Viaggianti, which is the latest exhibition at Maroondah Federation Estate. Parole Viaggianti, otherwise known as Travelling Words, features artwork by Angela Cavalieri explores the relationship between language, cultural memory and subjectivity drawing upon Angela’s experiences while travelling.

The exhibition was developed in partnership with the La Trobe University Museum of Art and highlights the Gallery’s role in exhibiting promising artists.

Parole Viaggianti will be on exhibition until the 14th of May at the Maroondah Art Gallery, located at Maroondah Federation Estate in Greenwood Avenue, Ringwood.

On the 7th of April I had the pleasure of attending the 21st birthday celebrations of the Croydon Stroke Support Group. The Group, which focuses on providing peer support, has grown rapidly over the past 21 years In recent times, the group has developed an arts focus, uncovering the hidden talents of its members, through painting, drawing and mosaics, as as well as writing.

The group has also pioneered the first choir for people with aphasia, a stroke condition where people are unable to speak but are still able to sing. The choir, which is an Australian first, helps restore confidence for people with aphasia and develops new talents in the arts and singing.

I would like to congratulate the Croydon Stroke Support Group for celebrating its 21st birthday and its innovation, I’m certain the Group will have many more birthdays to celebrate.

Maroondah Leader: Trains unreliable

The Maroondah Leader has reported on the decline in reliability for trains serving Maroondah through the Belgrave and Lilydale lines.

Cr Alex Makin said the lack of services left passengers waiting up to 30 minutes to get from Croydon to Ringwood.

While peak-hour services continue to suffer from reliability issues, there is also a lack of frequent rail services serving stations beyond Ringwood during inter-peak times.

“The whole notion of Ringwood being the Central Activities District is built on the notion of reliable and frequent public transport.”

While the Government should be commended for committing to the redevelopment of Ringwood Station from 2014, there is a need to provide frequent services to reduce the delays in travelling to and from Ringwood and other stations in Maroondah.

Media Release: Croydon man prosecuted for littering

A Croydon man has been convicted and fined $1635 after pleading guilty to three separate littering offences.

Maroondah Councillor Alex Makin said the matter was heard at the Ringwood Magistrate’s Court on Monday 7 February.

“Following an extensive investigation by Council officers the man was charged with three separate offences for dumping bags of printer cartridges during September and October,” Cr Makin said.

“The man was placed on a good behaviour bond, ordered to pay court costs of $635 and to contribute $1000 to a charity nominated by the Court,” Cr Makin said.

“Council is extremely pleased with this verdict, especially given the nature of the products being dumped. Any goods which contain hazardous chemicals, like printer cartridges, are extremely hazardous to residents and the environment and need to be disposed of appropriately,” Cr Makin said.

“Council will not tolerate the dumping of rubbish in our beautiful municipality. We take these matters seriously and will do all we can to ensure that those who participate in this illegal action will be held accountable,” Cr Makin said.

“At the end of the day dumping rubbish in our municipality not only impacts the environment and appearance of our suburbs, it also comes as a major cost to ratepayers,” Cr Makin said.

“Council has a number of processes in place to ensure residents can dispose of their rubbish easily and safely,” Cr Makin said.

“Maroondah households with a residential waste service are entitled to two hard waste collections of up to two cubic metres per financial year. When households require a hard waste collection, residents need to register with Council and they will be provided with a date in which they can place their hard waste on the nature strip,” Cr Makin said.

“For those who aren’t sure if their waste is eligible to be collected as part of this service simply pick up the phone and speak to one of Council’s customer service officers who will be able to assist you to dispose of your waste correctly,” Cr Makin said.

As a reminder, the correct procedure to follow when making a hard waste booking is:

  • Ring Council on 1300 88 22 33 to make a booking.
  • Place acceptable items out in a neat pile the weekend before your collection.
  • Put the ‘booked’ collection sticker supplied to you by Council on your pile facing the roadway.

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Media Release: Putting wetlands on the map

Residents are being urged to get to know their local parklands to celebrate World Wetlands Day on 2 February.

Maroondah Councillor Alex Makin said Maroondah has various wetlands that attract an array of flora and fauna.

“Wetlands play such an important role in creating ecosystems that support various populations of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. These animals are often not found anywhere else,” Cr Makin said.

“Wetlands also help to absorb pollutants which can be washed off our roads and roofs into the storm water system, which leads to improved water quality for our rivers and creeks,” Cr Makin said.

“Ringwood Lake is probably one of the best known wetlands in Maroondah, but there are other hidden treasures worth taking the time to explore,” Cr Makin said.

“Candlebark Walk Reserve in Croydon Hills is an important link in the habitat corridor that extends from Warranwood Reserve to Yarrunga Reserve,” Cr Makin said.

“For the keen bird watchers, the reserve is home to the Purple Swamp Hen, Australian Wood-duck, Little Pied Cormorant and the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, to name a few,” Cr Makin said.

“If you’re lucky you may even spot a koala, wallaby or echidna in the area,” Cr Makin said.

Other wetlands in Maroondah worth exploring are Yarrunga Reserve, Settler Orchard Reserve and Narr Maen Reserve, all of which are in Croydon Hills.

New wetlands are also being constructed as part of residential development sites in Maroondah including The Range in Croydon and Bayview Rise in Bayswater North.

World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997 to mark the signing of the Convention on Wetlands which took place in 1971 in a small Iranian town called Ramsar. The Convention is now commonly referred to as the Ramsar Convention.

“During the time of the signing there was concern from many countries about the declining number of wetlands and waterbirds. It was hoped the international treaty would help to prevent further loss of wetlands by providing countries with a framework for action and establish an international cooperation aimed at the conservation and wise use of wetlands,” Cr Makin said.

“For the past 40 years the annual World Wetlands Day has provided an opportunity for all levels of government and community groups to raise public awareness of the critical role wetlands play in maintaining our natural environment,” Cr Makin said.

The theme for World Wetlands Day 2011 is “wetlands and forests – forests for water and wetlands” in celebration of the United Nations International Year of Forests.

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Media Release: Youth support services still available

Council’s youth team will continue to support Maroondah’s young people and their families over the Christmas school holidays.

Maroondah Councillor Alex Makin said the last session of the EV’s Lounge drop-in program is on Friday 17 December, but youth workers are still available over the summer break.

“During the holidays our youth workers will be only be a phone call away for any young person 12-25 years old who is in need of assistance or referral to another support agency,” Cr Makin said.

“So if you or someone you know finds themselves in a position where they need support or help, then our youth workers can provide information on almost any issue, including school, finding a job, family issues, getting involved in the community, or if a young person is just having a hard time,” Cr Makin said.

“For those wanting information outside of business hours the Maroondah Youth Services website offers a range of information including activities on offer in Maroondah to keep young people entertained, contact details for other local support services, and other resources for young people and their families,” Cr Makin said.

“The Maroondah Youth Card is also a good source of information. The handy wallet-sized card provides a range of afterhours support numbers which can be used in times of need,” Cr Makin said.

“The card, which caters for people aged 12-25, also includes discounts for local businesses and recreational facilities which will definitely come in handy over the summer break,” Cr Makin said.

To get your hands on the card visit or pick one up at EV’s Youth Centre, 212 Mt Dandenong Road, Croydon or Council Service Centres.

For more information contact Council’s Youth Services team on 9294 5709, email or visit

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Remembrance Day Services at Croydon RSL

The 11th of November is Remembrance Day, with Australians pausing at 11am to reflect and remember casualties caused during war. The Ringwood and Croydon RSL both hold Remembrance Day services, and this year I attended the Croydon service at James Stevens Lawn, outside the Croydon Civic Centre.

The Croydon RSL, which organises the Croydon services, has a strong focus on community involvement through the inclusion of local schools and the community. It is encouraging to see increased attendees each year at Remembrance Day and the ongoing focus Croydon RSL has on the wider community.

The 2010 Mayoral Art Show

The Mayoral Art Show is an annual art event that supports the Croydon Branch of the Bone Marrow Donors Institute and the work it undertakes in the research of Cancer. The art show, which features 90 artists, includes promising and local artistic talents with a range of mediums.

The Mayor is able to acquire one of the pieces for the Maroondah Art Collection and I acquired a piece by Jazmina Cinina, a promising artist specialising in linocut and drawing upon her Lithuanian heritage and interest in werewolves.

The speech delivered for the opening is available within this entry:

Continue reading “The 2010 Mayoral Art Show”

Tour of Donwood Community Aged Care Services

Donwood Community Aged Care is located at 1-5 Mt Dandenong Road in Croydon and is a not-for-profit community organisation, that provides a full range of aged care facilities, from low-care needs through to high care, as well as respite services and care for people with dementia.

This afternoon I attended a tour of Donwood Community Aged Care to view the facility and to meet staff and the community of management. Donwood was established in 1991 and is unique in being a community based aged care facility, focusing on the individual needs of its residents.

Donwood has a strong focus on staff development to ensure that the best possible service and has modern facilities for their clients. The facility is unique is providing a complete aged care service and has high occupancy rates due to its focus on individual needs.

Donwood’s facilities are impressive and it is encouraging to see the committee of management and staff continuing to focus on the needs of the community through its provision of aged care services.