Mayoral Column 17 March 2014

Published on 17 March 2014

New network goes live

Council has given its backing to a new online network for residents of Loddon Shire who are living with disability, their supporters and other interested community members.

The Inclusive Communities Network of Greater Bendigo and Loddon Shire is now live on the social networking tool, Yammer.

Yammer is like Facebook, where users can post information and comment on other people’s posts, but it offers higher security by requiring email addresses on registration.

Council’s Community Inclusion Officer, Jolie Middleton, said the need for an online network was identified through consultation work undertaken by the Greater Bendigo and Loddon Shire Inclusive Communities Team early last year.

“The aim is to provide an accessible tool where people living with disability, service providers, carers, families, advocacy groups and other interested people can share information and talk about topical issues and upcoming events,” Jolie said.

“We hope people will be able to share stories, ask questions, offer advice and suggestions and support each other in their individual situations.

“In order to join the network, you must be invited. To request an invitation, email inclusivecommunities@bendigo.vic.gov.au with your email address.

“We encourage anyone who is already a member of the network to recommend membership to their colleagues, friends and others.

“We’ll wait six months, then review its level of activity and its benefit to the community.”

A weekly email will be sent to all members of the network wrapping up what has been said online and summarising the main themes and opportunities discussed.

For further information, please phone Jolie on 5494 1200.

Visitors were flocking in

Wedderburn was a bustling place over the Labour Day weekend, with the annual Minelab Detector Jamboree heading a quartet of attractions for visitors and residents.

Also on offer were a major reunion of former students and staff of the Wedderburn Higher Elementary School, which operated from 1948-61, a string of local garage sales and an open door to a number of vacant shops and houses around the town.

According to Council’s Tourism Manager, Robyn Vella, the weekend was a resounding success, with more than 300 people at Hard Hill Reserve for the Jamboree and 100 maps for the garage sale trail issued from the Visitor Information Centre.

“People really enjoyed the day, with plenty of spectators around to watch the prospectors and junior gold panners in action,” Robyn said.

“We had participants there from the Northern Territory, New South Wales and South Australia, as well as from around Victoria.

“Just to illustrate this, the winner of the Minelab CT3030 was Wayne Robb, from Largs Bay in Adelaide, the X-Terra 705 Gold went to Anthony Taylor, from Longford in East Gippsland, one Coiltek coil was won by Glenn Canfield, from Sale, and another by Rolf Schulze, from Corlette, north of Newcastle.

“Much closer to home, the Gold Prospecting Australia Junior Detector Hunt was won by Daniel Ludwig, from Wedderburn.”

Our thanks go to the volunteers from Wedderburn Tourism, the Lions Club and the local community who helped make this important event happen, as well as to Minelab and Coiltek for their ongoing support.

Amid all the action and movement on the weekend, I had the pleasure of welcoming visitors for the high school reunion at their lunch in the Mechanics Institute hall on the Saturday, before the group of 140 former students and staff toured the new Wedderburn College.

It was great to see the delight of all who came at the opportunity to renew acquaintances with so many old friends.

Event funding switch

Council has changed the way it handles its Event Sponsorship Scheme in an effort to make life easier for event planners around the Shire.

Formerly, community groups organising events for the first half of the year had to have their applications in by the previous October, while for those scheduled for July to December, the deadline was May.

The feeling was that, with lag times between applications closing and the events themselves dragging out to a possible eight months, it was difficult for organisers to have all their details nailed down that far ahead.

When the matter was raised at the last Council meeting, the decision was taken to allow groups to apply for funding anywhere up to 30 days before their big day.

Council officers now have the authority to approve or reject applications in line with Council’s established guidelines.

The budget for the Event Sponsorship Scheme is $20,000 a year.

Free HPV shots planned

Free human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be offered at all four secondary schools in Loddon Shire over the next 10 days.

As part of the National HPV Vaccination Program, Victorian high schools are offering the three-dose HPV vaccine Gardasil free to girls and boys in Year 7. Until the end of this year, boys in Year 9 are also being offered the vaccine free at school under the national catch-up program.

The immunisations will begin at Wedderburn and Boort this Thursday (20 March) and continue at East Loddon and Pyramid Hill on 27 March.

Council’s Early Years Co-ordinator, Alycia O’Sullivan, said students could only receive the vaccine at school with their parents’ permission.

“It’s really important for parents of students who are eligible for the HPV vaccine to have their consent forms completed and returned to school before the first dose is administered,” Alycia said.

For more information, phone Council’s Serpentine office on 5437 7999.

Lake’s future ensured

The decision by Councillors at their last meeting to buy 300mL of water to secure the long-term future of Little Lake Boort was a huge win for the local community.

It didn’t come cheap – in the current water market, the price is expected to be around $450,000, with an annual operating cost for that volume of $15,000 – but Councillors viewed Little Lake Boort as a critical asset for the town.

It has high environmental values and an undoubted place as the centrepiece of Boort’s recreational life, with its picnic and sporting opportunities and popular caravan park.

Unfortunately, the lake is shallow and suffers from an estimated loss of 1.5m of water depth each year through evaporation and seepage.

Council’s purchase of this water will mean the lake will continue to be useable in all but the most extreme drought periods. It also underpins Boort’s retail and accommodation businesses, its reputation as a reliable water skiing venue and its growing tourism sector.