Mayoral Column 15 September 2014

Published on 15 September 2014

Show and tell for city crowds

When the 159th Royal Melbourne Show opens to its usual fanfare next Saturday, Loddon Shire will have a toehold there.

Salute Oliva owners Peter and Marlies Eicher, at Boort, have tasted considerable success at the Show’s Fine Food Awards in recent years and they’re lining up again this year.

The couple won the gold medal for their Kalamata olives last year alongside three silvers after taking home three awards in 2012 and two the year before.

Marlies said the only category to be judged at the awards this time would be extra virgin olive oil, so Salute Oliva has entered its produce for that. The table olives competition has been moved to next autumn.

The Eichers plan to spend the full 12 days of the Show in Melbourne, tending their stall in the highly popular Tastes of Victoria Pavilion.

Peter said last year’s gold medal was a great boost for the business.

“Winning the trophy for champion table olives saw us sell out of our entire annual production of Kalamata olives before the new season table olives even came online,” he said.

Also representing the Loddon Valley in the Tastes of Victoria Pavilion will be Simply Tomatoes, of Boort, and Synergy Farms, of Yarrawalla, who will be taking a turn at the Bendigo Regional Tourism stand. 

Loddon Shire Manager Tourism Robyn Vella has been promoting the Show for some months as a great opportunity for Loddon producers to showcase their products.

“It’s a big commitment to come to Melbourne for that length of time, but the event delivers a massive audience,” Robyn said.

More than 500,000 people visit the Showgrounds over the 12 days with an average length of stay of six hours, while the Show’s online profile lifts that market reach enormously.

Show dates for this year are 20 September to 1 October.

Funding news a win for parents

The news that the Commonwealth has agreed to provide the necessary funding for the continuation of 15 hours of kindergarten next year is welcome indeed.

The government has extended the national partnership agreement on early childhood education with an investment of $406 million for 2015.

Until the first week of this month, funding of the 15 hours was in limbo. While the state government funds 10 hours, Canberra was undecided on whether it would continue to fund the extra five hours beyond December.

This decision saves parents from unsustainable fee increases or the prospect of their children missing out on preschool.

State-wide, more than 50 councils – including Loddon – lobbied their federal MPs and the Commonwealth for this continued investment.

Victorian local councils own $2 billion (1,094 or 83 per cent) worth of community kindergarten facilities and have invested $240 million in the past three years to get buildings ready for the national 15 hours reforms.

Loddon Shire’s five Council-owned kindergartens all run 15-hour programs for four-year-olds.

Enrolments for next year closed on 29 August, but any residents still thinking of enrolling their children are urged to contact either their local kindergartens or Council as soon as possible.

Early Years staff use those enrolment figures to determine the structure of sessions and which kindergarten programs will run in the coming year.

In line for top award

Congratulations to Yarrawalla’s Kia-Ora Piggery, which has been announced as a finalist in the 2014 Premier's Sustainability Awards for its environmental efforts.

Listed in the Small and Medium Enterprises category, the piggery is a family-owned operation that runs 1,950 breeding sows and produces around 950 pigs each week, representing more than 4,000 tonnes of fresh pork sold each year.

Kia-Ora’s achievements in sustainability include the use of waste food by-products to supplement the pigs’ rations, a recycling system for cardboard, plastics and steel packaging and an effluent treatment and recycling approach which captures biogas to be used for heating and electricity generation.

We at Council wish the business the best of luck for the awards announcements, planned for Thursday 2 October in Melbourne.

Be a better leader

Aspiring community leaders have the opportunity to hone their skills with this month’s call from Community Leadership Loddon Murray for participants in next year’s course.

CLLM operates across central and north-west Victoria, running a program from February to November each year for up to 25 participants.

According to executive officer Julie Slater, LMCLP has inspired more than 350 people to make a significant difference in their local communities and the wider region since it began in 1998.

“Our graduates are involved in a wide range of community leadership roles, everything from club committees to industry board memberships and local government,” Julie said.

“Many people are already heavily involved in their communities when they come into the program and are simply looking to work more effectively.”

Each year, Council sponsors one applicant, this year’s recipient being Chloe Armstrong, of Serpentine.

The second representative of Loddon Shire, Glenys Broad, of Durham Ox, believes the course to have been most worthwhile.

“If you would like to learn about your region, make new friends and have a totally awesome time, join the program,” Glenys said.

“I did and I won’t look back.”

The region covered by the program takes in the Loddon, Buloke, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Gannawarra, Hepburn, Northern Grampians, Macedon Ranges and Mount Alexander Shires, as well as the City of Greater Bendigo and Swan Hill Rural City Council.

It is also supported in part by the Victorian government’s Regional Growth Fund.

Applications for the 2015 course close on 31 October.  For more details, go to www.cllm.org.au

Flood forum a first

A first-ever flood forum open to anyone with an interest in managing flood events and dealing with their aftermath is planned for Mildura later this year.

The Mallee Catchment Management Authority is hosting the forum on 13-14 November to give people involved in floodplain management the chance to come together to network, listen and present on issues of relevance to Victoria.

The event will begin with a dinner-cruise on the Murray River on 12 November, before two days of presentations from agencies such as CMAs, Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Municipal Association of Victoria and the Bureau of Meteorology, as well as local government organisations and the private sector.

The forum will also include a late afternoon tour of Hattah Lakes, concluding with dinner and entertainment.

Event organiser Victor Brenners, from DEPI, said the forum was an experiment in opening up these kinds of discussions to others.

“We’re hoping it will be of interest to any flood-prone municipalities and have already received responses from several,” Victor said.

“It’s really open to any parties who consider themselves to be stakeholders in the area of flood plain management.”

Registrations are now open and “early bird” rates apply to all registrations made by Friday 3 October. Go to www.eventbrite.com.au/e/flood-forum-victoria-2014-tickets-12647183065