Meander Valley Gazette

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Meander Valley

Alpacas with Maracas and kids!

FeatureJoanne Eisemann
Mole creek Primary School was visited by llamas to help celebrate National Simultaneous Storytime.  Photo supplied

Mole creek Primary School was visited by llamas to help celebrate National Simultaneous Storytime.

Photo supplied

By Jessica Marston, teacher librarian at Hagley Farm School

ON 22 May students from across the Meander Valley joined over 1 million children in Australia and New Zealand for National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS), all sharing the same book, Alpacas with Maracas by Matt Cosgrove.

This was the 19th year of the NSS, which is an event aimed at promoting the value of reading and literacy, the fun of books, and an Australian author and publisher.

Hagley Farm School took advantage of their own reallife alpacas with children from Kinder to Grade 6 enjoying a live-feed from the alpaca paddock.

Visitors’ Centre staff member Mr Tyson introduced the story with help from Maggie, Snowy, Noelle and Blinky Bill. This video can still been seen on the Hagley Visitor Centre Facebook page.

The children then watched the Story Box Library version of the story read by the author Matt Cosgrove and ABC TV identity Jimmy Rees (Jimmy Giggle).

At Bracknell Primary School, Mr Eeles read the story and Mrs Strickland provided the sound effects, while children were able to see the story unfold on the interactive whiteboard.

Mole Creek Primary School had visiting llamas for the day and made lots of alpaca themed crafts. They made their own maracas and even learnt and performed a song about alpacas with maracas!

Deloraine Primary School students were joined by Early Learners from the Toddle Inn Childcare Centre. Mr Samphier filmed Mrs Groenewold reading the story, adding lots of sound effects as well. As children watched this film in their classrooms they felt as if Mrs Groenewold was actually in the story.

Westbury Primary School Prep/1 and 1/2 classes walked to Westbury Library to take part in their NSS event. Anne-Marie Loader from the Deloraine Library kept them engaged with a lively reading of the book. Afterwards they shared library books together and made an alpaca collage.

Giant Steps students from Prep to Grade 12 watched the key-sign video and read along with the story. As well as following up with some craft activities, the children learned the key-signs for alpacas and maracas with some help from their speech pathologists.

At Our Lady of Mercy, Kinder to Grade 2 students followed up the story by making their own maracas using rice, disposable spoons and masking tape. The students then had fun playing songs with their maracas.

For those who didn’t get a chance to join in with the fun of this year’s NSS event, Westbury Show are planning to feature an alpaca display in November this year, which will likely include another

reading of this very engaging

book.

Steady development in the Meander Valley

BusinessJoanne Eisemann

By Wai Lin Coultas

EVER WONDERED how building and development is getting on in the valley? Some research into Meander Valley Council building approvals from 2017 to April this year, shows there is a steady rate of approved building works.

As of April, MVC issued a total of 71 building approvals, comprising 37 building permits and 34 notifiable building works, of which 17 were for urban and 54 for regional development.

This compares favourably with the first four months of 2017 and 2018 – a total of 64 and 78 building approvals issued respectively.

In total, there were 244 building approvals in 2017 and 235 in 2018, so similar numbers could be anticipated this year.

Building permits so far this year were valued at $10,315,018. Most were for new dwellings, units, additions and alterations to existing dwellings. Only four were for commercial buildings.

Of the 132 building permits issued in 2018, 49 were for urban and 83 for regional works, valued at $46,945,782 in total. The permits were for 52 new dwellings, 21 units, 23 additions and alterations, 3 farm buildings, 3 offices/ factories, 12 commercial buildings and 17 outbuildings.

For 2017, a total of 145 building permits were issued, for 53 urban and 92 regional works, valued at $30,297,701. This was for 44 new dwellings, 30 units, 23 additions and alterations, 3 farm buildings, 6 commercial buildings and 30 outbuildings.

Of course, building development is only one element of local prosperity, but by this standard, it would seem that the Meander Valley is on the right track.

A letter from the Gazette

CommunityJoanne Eisemann

THE GAZETTE has been dealing with some difficult issues recently.

Because these have been made public, the Manager (Joanne Eisemann) and Editor (Elizabeth Douglass) have chosen to respond publicly.

The Gazette has found it necessary to review the ways in which representatives of the newspaper interact with the people, organisations and businesses they are dealing with.

This review was initiated by a temporary breakdown in communications with Meander Valley Council. The relationship between the Gazette and Meander Valley Council required some clarification on both sides.

Both the Gazette and Council now consider the breakdown to be repaired. The manager and editor of the Gazette have met with the council, and will continue to meet with the council, to make sure that lines of communication remain open.

The Gazette had hoped to resolve this issue quickly and quietly.

However, contrary to what we had expected, our conversations with the council and subsequent internal discussions were made public through Facebook posts, the circulation of emails, and the usual progression of social media and rumour.

Despite social media commentary not always being an accurate reflection of real events, it became very clear, very quickly, that the Gazette has many passionate supporters in the Meander Valley community.

We deeply appreciate the level of concern that has been expressed about our economic viability and editorial independence. Our sincere thanks go to everyone who has contacted us in the last month for their interest and offers of assistance.

It also became clear that there is confusion about our ongoing relationship with the Council and whether they make any financial contributions to us. The Gazette’s editorial integrity and our commitment to fair and unbiased reporting have also been questioned.

To make our independent status completely clear, we are sharing the following information about the Gazette.

  • We are a not-for-profit, independent paper covering news and events across the Meander Valley municipality with approximately 20 000 readers.

  • Gazette revenue mainly comes from the sale of advertising space that pays for part-time production and editorial staff, printing, delivery and other running costs.

  • Meander Valley Connect Inc. is the organisation that supervises and advises the Gazette as well as the Online Centres at Mole Creek and Deloraine.

  • Committee members of MVConnect Inc. are drawn from volunteer workers for all three organisations and the Gazette shares office space and some staff with the Deloraine Online Access Centre.

  • The Gazette receives no funding from the Meander Valley Council, Tasmanian State or Federal governments.

  • The Gazette has no obligations, financially or editorially, to the Tasmanian Education Department or Libraries Tasmania.

  • Sponsorships from local businesses supply additional funding.

Our relationship with Meander Valley Council also seems to require explanation.

The Council pays for a double spread in the Gazette every month. This allows the Council to regularly inform ratepayers about council activities without needing to print and distribute a separate publication. The council is solely responsible for the content and appearance of these pages.

The Gazette is always willing to engage with anyone who chooses to advertise with the Gazette, contribute stories and photos, or just read the paper. We expect that anyone should come directly to the manager or editor with any concerns they may have about the content of the paper or if they feel that they have a right to reply.

This includes Council management, the Mayor and individual councillors, because, as one of the largest ‘businesses’ in the valley, Council affairs are often the main topic of many stories.

It is extremely important for the Gazette to maintain a good relationship and clear communication channels with the Council. As with all who make up the ‘subjects’ of our stories, the Gazette tries to ensure that our reporting remains balanced.

Hearing from all parties concerned is the only way we are able to gather and cross check information, and cover all aspects of a particular story.

We can assure readers that we remain financially independent and strive to be impartial. We try to make balanced and careful judgements about what we publish.

Good communication is the essence of what we try to achieve every month.

As long as our readers find us relevant and we can continue to generate sufficient income to produce the paper each month, the Gazette is proud to keep making a contribution to the Meander Valley community and is grateful for the affection and interest that is returned.

Rowing for refugees

News, FeatureJoanne Eisemann

By Sharon Webb

AROUND 20 Meander Valley residents took to the water last month to add their voices to other Australians fighting to get child refugees off‰ Nauru.

Battling a stiff‰ wind on Deloraine’s Meander River in their canoes, kayaks and rowboats, they joined 1000 people in Sydney’s Hyde Park who listened to rock idol Jimmy Barnes, around 500 people in Melbourne and 6000 petitioning Australian doctors to demonstrate their strong objections to keeping children on Nauru.

Local organiser Pip Stanley said on the day: “There are still 80 kids on Nauru and they are having to go through the courts to get to Australia.

“The government is saying all will be off‰ by Christmas but we believe there’s no reason they can’t come now.”

According to Guardian Australia, the Federal Government is spending around $300,000 a year fighting legal cases aimed at getting refugees off‰ Nauru, including “a large number of children, among whom there is a worsening mental health crisis and several cases of resignation syndrome – a rare and potentially fatal condition that is considered a reaction to extreme trauma.”

As Deloraine’s own boat people demonstrated their prowess on the water, complete with wobbly rowing and at least one unexpected dip, Reedy Marsh resident and former Meander Primary School principal Graham Pennicott maintained the Australian Government had created “a humanitarian crisis” on Nauru.

Deloraine resident Andy Dunn coxed an inexperienced rowing crew while Mark Kitteridge said he’d just wanted to turn up and make his voice heard on the issue.

Locals Margaret Tabor and John Phelps sported canoe signs saying “Try being humane” and “Sorry?” with John commenting: “My theory is that the Australian PM in 10 years’ time will be saying sorry to these refugees.

Margaret Tabor and John Phelps added their voices to a protest for refugees held on the Meander River.  Photo by Mike Moores

Margaret Tabor and John Phelps added their voices to a protest for refugees held on the Meander River.

Photo by Mike Moores

Montana Falls

FeatureJoanne Eisemann
Tara Ulbrich takes a short walk to experience the falls

Tara Ulbrich takes a short walk to experience the falls

MANY MEANDER Valley walks have infrastructure that clearly defines the route. Some even provide a viewing platform at your destination.

Montana Falls has no such indulgence. Although a signpost on Leonards Road indicates Long Ridge Regional Reserve - you’re on your own from that point.

Access tracks lead in various directions. Tall eucalypts will lure you into the forest and the key to avoid getting lost is to stop if you find yourself ascending the ridge. Some tape markers will assist. They point to at least two alternative routes, each becoming increasingly steep and narrow.

My walking companion, a known pedant, refused to describe the water flow as a fall, insisting the term cascades more apt. Indeed, the falls might be most appreciated after heavy rainfall as they spill down several rock shelves. At the low point a sharp bend forces the Western Creek to veer dramatically in the direction of its name.

Although the waters have come a long way from Kooparoona Niara, across open farmland, here they’re wild again. The most ideal viewing points transition a walker from a tourist into an active participant. It is necessary to leave the path to appreciate the grandeur.

Tread lightly in your boots as you brush past the feathery clumps of tassel cord rush.

On our visit an enjoyable disagreement ensued as we tested best vantages. Here! No here. Give the falls time to show off.

Leaving the path is a controversial matter. Will degradation of the vegetation and terrain result? While Red Riding Hood is unlikely to meet a wolf, you are likely to encounter dumped rubbish. Montana Falls deserves more local pride than that.

You will only need 1 to 1½ hours for your visit and maybe you can take out more than you carried in?

Photo | Jade Hallam

Rates up 4.46%

Events, NewsJoanne EisemannComment

August 2018 | Sharon Webb

HOME OWNERS in Meander Valley on average will pay an extra $34.00 in rates this financial year, with commercial properties paying around $170.00 more.

Meander Valley councillors disputed for a month over a 2018-2019 rates rise before boosting them by almost 4.5 per cent.

Mayor Craig Perkins said the rise couldn’t be avoided, considering factors such as a loss of $278,000 in decreased Taswater dividends and increased inflation costs for core work such as road and bridge repair.

“After hearing concerns around the council table about increasing by five per cent, we found some savings to bring it down,” he said.

“I’m comfortable we’ve had a good look at the finances to make sure we’re providing a level of service at the lowest possible cost.”

At the June council meeting on 2018-19 budget estimates most councillors seemed a bit shell-shocked at the council staff recommendation to increase rates by five per cent. Since 2015 rates have risen by no more than three per cent, sometimes lower.

They deferred the rates decision to the July meeting and held a workshop to consider how to reduce the increase to around 3.5 per cent.

That goal was never achieved, but the following budget items were axed so ratepayers have only a 4.46 per cent increase:

• Westbury town common management plan: $15,000

• Westbury community facilities review: $20,000

• Deloraine pop-up community space (Flashing Chook block): $15,000

• International Women’s Day event: $10,000

• Deloraine recreation facilities feasibility study:$10,000

• Deloraine Community Complex scoreboards and shot clocks: $6000

In the July meeting, Cllr Andrew Connor put a motion, seconded by Cllr John Temple, that these cuts not be enacted. Instead, the $160,000 Myrtle Bridge north of Liffey upgrade listed in capital works should not be done.

“Things are really tight and we can cut $10,000-$20,000 here and there, but it’s just fiddling around the edges,” Cllr Connor said. “It’s a lot cut out for not much benefit.

“There’s nothing to say Myrtle Bridge is urgent; we do 10 bridges a year, all in rural areas and we’re doing them too fast. We have to tone down our investment in bridges.

“We’re doing little bridges in the middle of nowhere – it’s not where the majority of our ratepayers are.”

Cllr Connor’s suggestion was not supported and in the end councillors compromised on a 4.46 per cent increase for the sake of finding a way forward.

Cllr Rodney Synfield has recommended a future “root and branch review” of all council activities to identify efficiencies – in waste management, for example.

“Council’s rates, based ultimately on the Assessed Annual Value (rental value) of properties in the municipality, and currently set at less than 6 cents in the dollar of that AAV, is one of the lowest in the state,” he said.

“Compared to, for example, Launceston Council’s … which is in excess of 7 cents in the dollar and an even higher figure in respect of West Tamar municipality. This means Meander Valley rates in most cases are hundreds of dollars a year less than they would be in neighbouring municipalities for an equivalently valued property.

“This, however, results in less capacity for Meander Valley Council to absorb losses in income, such as from Taswater. This loss is not just for one year, amounting to well in Old school site reborn excess of 1.5 million dollars by the end of 2024/25.”

 

Easy, beautiful bike rides

SportJoanne EisemannComment

July 2018

BICYCLE NETWORK Tasmania has released a new tool to help both visitors and locals to find safe and easy places to ride in Tasmania.

The Ambassador Routes in the RideWithGPS website are designed to create self-guided tours to some of the best bits of Tassie.

You can enjoy beautiful Tasmania just as if you are riding with a savvy local who knows the best shortcuts and the quietest streets.

The routes are all designed to be easy for people of a wide range of riding ability.

So far, three Meander Valley routes are included:

  • Deloraine gourmet ride under Western Tiers, 33km; quiet roads taking in Mole Creek, Three Willows winery and 40 Degrees South;

  • Deloraine to Westbury under Western Tiers, 35km; quiet country roads including historic buildings, farmland and the John Temple Gallery;

  • Westbury Bracknell country, 45km; taking in rural roads and village of Bracknell.

The choice is yours

FeatureJoanne EisemannComment

“Are there any particular needs of the Meander Valley that you and your party will address if elected?”

February 2018

Guy Barnett, Liberal

ADDRESSING COST of living issues will remain a major focus of a re-elected Hodgman Liberal Government. As part of our Tasmania First energy policy we have capped prices to assist households with energy bills, provided a special energy bonus to eligible Tasmanians, and are investing in our on-island renewable energy capacity.

Rebecca White, ALP

MY NUMBER one priority for all Tasmanians is to fix the health system by employing more health workers and treating more patients. Labor will support our young people with a good education so they can get a job and Labor will build employment, infrastructure and regional economies.

Fraser Brindley, Greens

LIKE MANY rural areas, Meander Valley needs better public transport, including patient transport. Whether it’s school kids, the elderly, people who need medical attention, or people just wanting to make a trip into town, public transport is not up to scratch. This is simple stuff† and it can be fixed.

Kylie Wright, ALP

IF ELECTED, I will work closely with the local community to identify and address local concerns. Some major issues include health, education, employment, transport / traffic, support for the Arts and local growers and producers. The Statewide Planning Scheme needs to fully consider climate change, natural values and local character.

Rene Hidding, Liberal

THERE ARE over 10,600 more Tasmanians in jobs since the 2014 election. We will take jobs growth to the next level with targeted jobs initiatives. By keeping the Ashley Youth Detention Centre open, only a majority Liberal Government will provide job security for 60 workers and their families who are an important part of the Deloraine community.

Jen Butler, ALP

The Hodgman Government has failed to generate jobs in regional Tasmania. As a member of a Labor Government, I will work with regional and rural industries to identify their training and infrastructure needs to ensure that young Tasmanians can stay and raise their families in regional areas like Meander Valley.

Kim Peart, Independent

RUNNING AS an independent lion for Lyons, one issue that will take me through the towns from Devonport to Port Arthur, will be my proposal for a footpath and cycle way, serving both visitors and residents, which will create a new form of foot and cycle tourism in Tasmania.

Janet Lambert, ALP

I WILL assist the MV Council, community groups and local people to; invest in preventable health programs, access a‹ordable housing, provide more police, work with local industries creating new employment opportunities, invest in education, support Neighbourhood House to meet the needs of community and MVC to meet its chosen strategic projects.

Mark Shelton, Liberal

JOBS ARE the number one priority of the Hodgman Liberal Government. Our $2 million investment in Ridley Corporation Limited’s aquaculture feed mill at Westbury will provide work for up to 250 construction jobs and around 20 full-time positions once operational. I will continue to advocate for investment to help job creation.

John Tucker, Liberal

WITH A booming tourism industry and record visitor numbers, the Meander Valley has the opportunity to tap into this thriving market. With some truly beautiful areas including Mole Creek and the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, and great events like the Deloraine Craft Fair, the Meander Valley can grow its share of Tasmania’s visitor market.

Jane Howlett, Liberal

WITH TWO young children of my own, I know how important a quality education is to giving our kids the best start in life. Our long-term plan to extend high schools to year 12 is working, with 533 more students studying year 11 and 12 subjects at 30 schools which have already extended.

Darren Clark, ALP

LAST YEAR, we lost a community youth worker through a redirection of funding. Early intervention programs are crucial, with 20% of Meander Valley’s population under 15. This must be addressed through organisations like PCYC and Save the Children. Roads are a major issue. I have asked for $6 million to improve road safety and conditions.

Please note: Meander Valley Gazette was unable to contact the following Lyons candidates despite numerous attempts: Labor: Gerard Gaffney Greens: Helen Hutchinson, Lucy Landon-Lane, Gary Whisson, Glen Millar Shooters, Fishers & Farmers: Mathew Allen, Carlo Difalco, Andrew Harvey Jacqui Lambie Network: Michael Kent, Bob Vervaart, Chris Reynolds

This feature was put together by Cody Handley

Pumped Hydro for Meander Valley?

NewsJoanne EisemannComment

January 2018

The shift in Australia’s energy market towards more renewables, may create a significant opportunity for Meander Valley to play a role in delivering clean, aff–ordable energy for our state and the nation, and generating development and employment opportunities.

Under the Battery of the Nation initiative, Hydro Tasmania is looking at development options that can provide energy security for Tasmania and give Tasmanians access to the lowest possible power prices, and deliver more clean energy nationally.

Pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) is one of the keys to unlocking the state’s future potential.

Hydro Tasmania’s initial assessment has shown significant potential for PHES development in the state’s north west and in particular, the Mersey Forth and Meander Valley areas.

When fully realised, PHES projects could double Tasmania’s current hydropower capacity and potentially generate up to $5 billion in investment and up to 3000 jobs.

Energy storage systems like pumped hydro help balance energy from variable sources, such as wind and solar. They will become much more important in the future as Australia seeks to replace coal-fired power and get more energy from renewable sources.

Pumped hydro energy storage can store clean energy on a large scale to use during periods of low energy production. It can also reliably provide energy on demand for sustained periods.

Hydro Tasmania is continuing to evaluate the potential PHES sites, and is in the process of identifying a shortlist to undergo further detailed assessment.

Hydro are committed to engaging with the community, and invite you to share your views so that they can better understand any concerns, and opportunities as they move through the assessment process.

Visit www.hydro.com. au/energy/battery-nation for more information about the Battery of the Nation initiative and how studies are progressing.

Scholarships are up for grabs

BusinessJoanne EisemannComment
Juleesa-2.jpg

DECEMBER 2017

MEANDER VALLEY students looking to further their education, have the chance to apply for a scholarship worth $5000 to assist with the cost of further studies.

The Deloraine & District Community Bank scholarship was first awarded in 2013 to Ms Juleesa Smith.

Ms Smith said the scholarship allowed her to move to Wagga Wagga to study a Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/ Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree at Charles Sturt University.

“The scholarship helped me to be able to support myself through university and not have to rely on my parents which would have caused financial restraint on them,” said Ms Smith.

The scholarships are for students within the Meander Valley area, for study-related expenses including accommodation and course costs, textbooks, and tutoring.

The most recent recipient, Mr Cameron Swain, is currently working towards his Bachelor of Psychology at Griffith University on the Gold Coast.

Community Bank Branch Manager, Darren Rumble said “We are delighted to be able to provide support for local students like Juleesa and Cameron to pursue higher education.”

“We are also delighted to announce that this year we will also offer a TAFE Scholarship in its program for 2018.”

Scholarships will be awarded based on academic achievement, financial and/or social challenges and evidence of leadership and citizenship within their communities.

Scholarship applications will be available in the Community Bank Branch or online at bendigobank.com.au/scholarships from 1st December.

Cllr’s concern over property sale

Events, NewsJoanne EisemannComment

December 2017 | Sharon Webb

A MOLE Creek property valued in 2012 at $320,000 was sold by Meander Valley Council for $120,000 with a reserve price of around $20,000.

Cllr Rodney Synfield has signaled he will take further action on the issue.

The Mayor of Meander Valley, Cllr Craig Perkins, said the auction reserve price was calculated to cover the Beerepoot family’s debt to the council of $3,500 in rates and costs associated with the auction, which he estimated at $10,000-$15,000.

The remaining $100,000 will be returned to the Beerepoots.

The property, comprising 2.4 hectares of land and a 250 square metre house with open verandah and garage, was sold on 1st September to Mr Geoff›rey Oscar Styles for $120,000. Bidding started at $20,000 and Mr Styles’ bid was the only one, by telephone.

Four Meander Valley councillors are critical of the process of selling the house according to the Local Government Act, although five councillors support it.

Cllr Rodney Synfield said council should have taken the matter to court and plans future action, although he would not detail that action.

“We have a duty of care to these people and I’d hate to think this is allowed to be the end of it all,” he said.

“It’s one thing to require the family to pay rates and another for it to cost them so dearly.

“It’s absurd to think that if you went to court for a debt of $3,000 there would be a penalty of $100,000.”

Cllr John Temple said he would also have preferred the matter to go to court. “It was a disproportionate use of power, a sledgehammer to crack an acorn,” he said. “With the benefit of hindsight I believe a far better reserve should have been set, at least at government valuation.

“I believe that when selling a family home, as opposed to a vacant block of land, the Local Government Act should be changed through the reserve price to protect the interests of the owner.

“For the Beerepoots, who I understand now live in rented accommodation, it’s very sad. It takes most of a lifetime to cobble together enough money to buy a house.”

Mayor Perkins said the council tried to get the highest price possible for the property but was hamstrung by the inability for prospective buyers and the real estate agent to view it.

“A lot of people are wondering about the fairness of the price but any purchaser would have been taking a risk because of that,” he said.

Mr Styles, who has changed his electoral roll address to 36 South Mole Creek Rd, said he had no comment to make on his purchase.

Are you satisfied with the council’s processes in selling the Beerepoot family’s property at Mole Creek? Mayor Craig Perkins: Yes. Over several years council followed the legislation and gave the Beerepoots every opportunity to pay rates according to the law. They couldn’t have done more. Cllr Andrew Connor: Yes. We took all the steps required by the Local Government Act. Cllr Michael Kelly: No. There are some serious issues around it. Given the poor outcome it would be good to look at the processes we had to follow. Cllr Tanya King: Yes. Council followed due process. The outcome was undesirable but council’s process was transparent. Cllr Ian Mackenzie: No. I would have liked to see it go through the court process. To me selling was a last resort – even though the outcome may have been the same. Cllr Bob Richardson: Yes. Everything was done to the dot. They had lots of time to pay. Cllr Rodney Synfield: No. I believe we have a duty of care to those people. It’s one thing to require them to pay rates and it’s another for it to cost them so dearly. It should have gone to court. Cllr John Temple: No. They were not paying rates on religious grounds and we are a caring community. It was a disproportionate use of power and I would have liked it to go to court. Cllr Deb White: Yes. It was the Beerepoot’s decision. Council was not able to say, “Don’t pay your rates” because everyone else has to pay them.

Worried about wombats?

NewsJoanne EisemannComment
wombat-cutie-cropped.jpg

SEPTEMBER 2017 | Hayley Manning

SOME MAY not realise that wombats in Meander Valley are affected by sarcoptic mange. While wombats are not listed as threatened, there are significant population declines in some areas of Tasmania and on the mainland.

According to the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), consultant, Ben Davidson, mange has been present over many decades in Tasmania but research and monitoring are now underway to determine how wombats became infected and why there are more losses in some areas than others.

Tasmanian Wildlife Rehabilitation Council President, Oma Rodger, said the mange – caused by the sarcoptes mite is a “highly contagious and agonising condition” that can be treated depending on the presentation of the wombat.

Oma said teams around Tasmania have applied for treatment kits that work by administering a dose onto the wombat’s skin as it enters the active burrow over a twelve week period.

Mr Davidson said in addition to the kits, members of the public can also help by driving carefully and preventing their dogs roaming in wombat areas; while farmers can install ‘wombat gates’ that allow the wombat to pass through from one area to another without damaging fences.

To start a wombat team in the Deloraine area please contact Oma on 6429 3348 to discuss the State and Commonwealth treatment permit and all other start-up information.

To report injured or mange affected wombats call DPIPWE on 6165 4305.

Celebrating farmers

Events, News, RuralJoanne EisemannComment
the-watters.jpg

SEPTEMBER 2017

MEANDER VALLEY is looking forward to hosting this year’s Creative Ageing Festival, showcasing innovative arts and health programs which encourage older adults to participate.

Following the success of last year’s festival, a diverse range of activities will be on offer during Seniors Week.

One of those is the Celebrating Farmers Project, where Meander Valley farmers have told stories and had their photos taken to be included in a special publication that will be launched during Seniors Week at 4.00pm on Wednesday 18th October at the Deloraine Library. Wayne Johnston, President of the TFGA will launch the publication and light refreshments will be served

The project is a collaboration between a number of groups including LINC Tasmania, Aged Care Deloraine, Deloraine Online Access Centre, 26Ten, Kanangra, Grenoch and RAW.

LINC volunteers and staff have gathered the stories, photographer Joanne Gower has taken portraits and book designer Elizabeth Douglass is preparing the publication for print.

Farmers were selected through an expression-of-interest process and all farmers that put their hand up were included in the project.

A copy will be available in the reference section of the Deloraine and Westbury Libraries for those would like to view the publication but are unable to attend the launch.

Also on offer during the festival will be a host of guest creative arts practitioners including ceramic artist Gill Riches, botanical artist Deborah Wace, composer Jimmy Reece and art therapist Megan Booth.

Photo | Joanne Gower

The capital of short walks

NewsJoanne EisemannComment

September 2017 | David Claridge

NEGATIVE IMAGES portrayed by the media from the fires and floods of the last two years are still influencing tourism in the Meander Valley Region.

Lower than normal tourism figures for the Meander Valley region have sparked action with local groups coming together to form a Great Western Tiers and Meander Valley Destination Action Plan with the aim to bring the crowds back into the region.

President of the Great Western Tiers Tourism Association, Rosemary Norwood, said the group has been looking for a focal point or a point of difference to the rest of Tasmania to bring more people into the region.

“Since Great Western Tiers has so many amazing walking tracks the group decided we would become the short walks destination of Tasmania,” she said.

“We will be meeting again this month to be working out exactly what to do in the short term to actually market the package of walks for this summer season.

Leader of the action plan group, Barbara Harvey, added that for the plan to go ahead they required funding to market it.

“There has been such a downturn in our region. There was a lot of information through the media about how terrible the floods were and everyone was on alert to move while the fires were on. There has been a continual stream of negative media coverage,” she said.

“Since that time, Parks and Wildlife Services have had a real struggle trying to recoup and restore all of the damage that was done to most of our assets like Liffey Falls and the Walls of Jerusalem.

The fact that many of the attractions had been closed has given the perception to people that there is no point in visiting the area because not everything is open.”

Premier Will Hodgman officially launched the Destination Action Plan at Trowunna Wildlife Park in late August. Barbara commented, “We will need some funding and support as well as the Plan to get the ball rolling.”

The group are also searching for a volunteer admin assistant to do some basic admin and liaison tasks for about 15 hours a week.

Projects funded

NewsJoanne EisemannComment

July 2017

MEANDER VALLEY communities will benefit from grants totalling $80,000 for two projects from the State Government Community Infrastructure fund.

Parkham will gain a new unisex toilet block worth $50,000 and $30,000 has been contributed towards the Deloraine Recreation Precinct Feasibility Study.

Australia Day accolades

Events, NewsJoanne EisemannComment

February 2017 | David Claridge

ON THE 25th of January, Australia Day for Meander Valley was celebrated at the Country Club Casino.

Attendees were part of witnessing the area’s newest Australians sworn in at a citizenship ceremony. This was followed by awards presented to people who have stood out in the community as well as memorable performances by a local musical group, the Various Deeths of Weetah.

New Australian, Artem Filipovskiy, from Russia, was delighted to be become an Australian citizen. Now working in Westbury, he studied at the University of Newcastle.

“My wife and I originally travelled to America and we fell in love with the people and the values of western society,” explained Artem.

“After some research, we decided to move permanently, so we came to Australia.”

Among the award recipients were volunteers who have given countless hours of their time to the community and were recognised by the Mayor, Craig Perkins.

Local sports enthusiast,Taneil Bloomfield was overwhelmed about receiving the Sports achievement award.

“Just to be nominated is a bit of a shock,” she quipped.

Bracknell’s, Sharmane Jones was awarded the 2017 Citizen of the Year award.

Mayor Craig Perkins was present to thank people for their contributions and to meet the new Australians.

“I don’t think we can underestimate the toll that the fires and then the floods took in the past twelve months. As a community we have rallied behind those who have lost,” Cr Perkin said.

“The Australia Day event was about recognising the amazing work that many people in our community do.”

Making hay while the suns shines

RuralJoanne EisemannComment
lorraine-clarke-cuts-her-hay-by-hand-using-a-scythe-with-a-handle-she-fashioned-herself

lorraine-clarke-cuts-her-hay-by-hand-using-a-scythe-with-a-handle-she-fashioned-herself

JANUARY 2017 | Heather Summers

IF YOU DRIVE around the back roads of the Meander Valley, it’s easy to see it has been a good season for making hay. While you may see a lot of heavy machinery around manufacturing bales in industrial quantities in half a day, you can still find a quiet corner of the neighbourhood where you are more likely to hear the soft swish of a scythe cutting an even swathe through the long grass.

Pausing to hone her blade, Lorraine Clarke is happy to chat about the virtues of scything. “It’s a heavy duty ditch-blade,” she says, “I have to hone it every few minutes when cutting grass like this.”

The grass is thick due to the good growing season, and has to be cut with a narrow swathe, rather than the wider arc she would usually make.

This time of year, Lorraine can cut it in the morning, rake it into rows, let it cure in the breeze and then stack it in a relatively short amount of time.

“You really can make hay in a day,” she says, “if the weather is favourable.”

Lorraine finds it is better to make the hay herself, in small quantities. “You can get the best quality.” The grass is stacked rather than placed in stooks, which works best when cutting grains with sturdier stalks, such as oats.

In this instance, she is using her Italian scythe; with a snaith she made herself from the branch of a tree on her property. She finds the balance and movement of the lightweight Italian model, of which she has several, preferable to the others at her disposal, which includes an Austrian scythe, as well as a couple of English ones that are a little more cumbersome to use. “They can be difficult to manoeuvre, due to their weight. They also require a different posture, where ease of movement is not as good.”

Even in this day of modern design that focuses on efficiency, a scythe is still high-tech when it comes to versatility. “You can mow the lawn, cut an acre of thistles, get through the blackberries.”

Scything has a long history of continuous use. It was at the forefront of agricultural technology for the ancient Romans, and has relatively recently overtaken the sickle in other parts of the world.

In the past, if you ate rye bread or had a thatched roof, a scythe was a necessity.

Social scything has become a community-building exercise in many places, including Tasmania, and scything championships are still relatively common in Europe, with some experts able to wield the blade faster than a brush cutter.

Lorraine appreciates the simplicity and universality of the scythe. “Anyone, anywhere can learn.”

Photo | Mike Moores

Meander Valley health funding slashed

NewsJoanne EisemannComment

January 2017 | Elizabeth Douglass

MEANDER VALLEY community health services have lost three full-time local health professionals, a social worker, a youth health and development worker, and a mental health worker under the new federal government- funded scheme administered by Primary Health Tasmania (PHT).

Meander Valley, Kentish, Tasman and Southern Midlands communities have all lost funding for their current preventative health services beyond December 2016.

Local communities, their council representatives and local federal opposition members are all outraged at the services that will be lost.

A press release from PHT on 20th December 2016 can be found on their website (www.primaryhealthtas.com.au).

It lists the five successful tenders from a field of 40 applicants — The Royal Flying Doctors Service, Diabetes Tasmania, Rural Health Tasmania, Huon Regional Care and Corumbene Care.

The release shows the complete list of local government areas serviced by the new providers and the chronic conditions they will target. Most services commence in January.

Cuts to existing community health services are not listed.

No existing community health care providers were successful in tendering.

Diabetes Tasmania, a charity already active throughout Tasmania, is the only service provider listed for the Meander Valley, despite Westbury Health and Westbury Community Health Centre both submitting tenders.

The new services address the dire need for chronic ill-health management in rural Tasmania and will ‘target conditions identified by local communities as priorities’ (PHT press release, December 2016).

Meander Valley Mayor, Craig Perkins, in a 21st December media statement, points out that “discussions concerning the ‘service gaps’ will only be with communities that PHT determine are high in chronic need.”

As only Kentish and Glamorgan/Spring Bay are described thus in the PHT press release, it follows that Meander Valley will not have any service gaps addressed.

Many axed programs focused on preventative strategies for chronic illnesses, also tackling issues such as poor mental health and social isolation.

Chronic conditions such as arthritis, cancer, dementia, diabetes, heart disease and lung disease are now targeted, with the consequent shift away from youthoriented issues.

Dinah Fitzgerald of Westbury Health has commented that the new system can be also construed as a move away from preventative health, because results are more difficult to quantify.

For example, Meander Valley/West Tamar had the lowest age-standardised rate of heart disease mortality in the state from 2009–2012 (Heart Foundation Australian heart disease statistics 2015, published 2016). Current community preventative health services may have directly contributed to this, but statistical information is unavailable.

As reported by The Mercury earlier in December, Health Minister Michael Ferguson believes the PHT tender process short-changed regional communities, and he called on the Federal Health Minister Susan Ley to intervene.

Mayor Craig Perkins also expressed his disappointment: “…it is difficult to understand how good health outcomes can be achieved from this approach.”

Federal Labor member for Lyons, Brian Mitchell, criticises the federal government’s ‘top-down approach’ and backs suggestions from Meander Valley and Kentish communities that existing services be retained for at least 6 months, so that old and new services can be compared to identify gaps, duplications and efficacy of service.

Meander Valley Councillor Bob Richardson has commented that the loss of federal government funding to aged care services, may have affected the decisions to redirect local health funding.

He also suggests that ‘service gaps’ could be best filled by existing local community health organisations re-tendering, rather than by PHT offering the new, as yet-unproven, service providers the opportunity to extend.

BACKGROUND June 2015 – Primary Health Tasmania is the new state-wide organisation for ‘primary care-focused health, supporting general practice and other community-based providers to deliver the best possible care for Tasmanians’ (PHT website, June 2015).

April 2016 – Tasmania received $54 million as a three-year funding boost to health from the federal government.

June 2016 – Primary Health Tasmania begins consultation with rural communities and local community health groups.

June 2016 – The federal government announces cuts to aged care funding by $1.2 billion over four years in the 2016–17 budget.

September 2016 – PHT calls for tenders for services to ‘improve the health of people living with chronic conditions in rural areas’.

December 2016 – PHT announces the organisations that will deliver rural health services across 21 local government areas in Tasmania from January 2017.

Review: A Place in the Stockyard

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

January 2017 | Nell Carr

A Place in the Stockyard The story of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture (TWiA) Fiona Stocker Forty South Publishing Pty Ltd

A PLACE in the stockyard tells the story of organising and bringing to fruition the group known as the Tasmanian Women in Agriculture.

They have involved themselves in all matters which concern rural families - finance, health and well being, education, climate change and politics. Now they are a force to be reckoned with whenever a matter of rural concern comes to the fore. And when one of the regular downturns in their particular industry occurs they embark on sideline businesses, or return to their previous employment in nearby towns.

While still a full time farmer and mother of young children, Emma Pinner - from NW Tasmania - researched the soy candle making industry, and had developed a thriving business, but when her partner suffered a massive stroke, with a dire prognosis, she had to take over the running of the dairy business. He began helping with the candle making to improve his motor skills, and Emma has given that the credit for his rehabilitation.

Women in the Meander Valley are well represented in the groups working to get the organisation going. Their professions before farming are useful in various ways.

Maureen Holland, (Dunorlan), had previously worked in banking. She helped members to become familiar with computer use and Internet access, and was able to secure a Federal Government grant to set up a website for TWiA. The Internet has become an indispensable tool in running rural businesses. Maureen has also been given the credit for helping the organisation to survive after withdrawal of Govt. funding in 2009. She became the first President after the group’s re-structuring to become an incorporated body in 2014.

Joan Field (Weegena) was one of the original movers and shakers who had grown up on a farm, and was a former State President of Rural Youth where many of the members met their partners. She is the winner of several awards for her endeavours in the agricultural industry, including an Australia Day award.

Many of the founding members of the group had been city based, and their abrupt initiation into rural living came as a rude awakening. Maureen Cameron (Chudleigh) had to learn to milk cows. At the 4th gathering of members at Poatina in 2000, she helped to organise accommodation for 200 delegates, and in 2012 with 4 other members managed catering for the gathering in Deloraine.

All contributors to the book, no matter what their background, love the rural life. Anne McCormack (Kimberley), has the last word. “We live in a perfect place, between Sheffield and Deloraine, and have a perfect view of Mt. Roland, the Western Tiers, and Quamby, and can see the sea.”

A Place in the Stockyard is on sale in Deloraine at the Great Western Tiers Visitor Information Centre, the Newsagent and Seppenfelts.

Waste charges confusion

Events, NewsJoanne EisemannComment

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November 2016 | David Claridge

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THERE HAS been confusion and frustration over an annual $46.00 waste charge that Meander Valley residents have been charged in their rates.

At first it was believed the charge covered collection of a property’s rubbish. People who own multiple properties, some with land only, or who already have collection handled by other means were quick to seek an explanation. Meander Valley mayor, Craig Perkins, wishes to explain that the flat fee, in fact, is necessary to fund the waste services in the area.

“The cost of our waste management is $600,000 a year on average to maintain.”

“The nature of rates is to collect money to pay for the activities of the council. For those that have domestic collection, they pay an additional fee.”

Mayor Perkins further said that the council decided three years ago to separate the waste management fee out of the general rates so people could see what it would cost them per property to manage.

“All rate payers make a contribution to all our activities, be it maintenance of our roads, our halls, parks and gardens.”

“If everyone was charged ‘user-pays’ at the tip then nobody would be able to afford it. From a waste point of view, you would get people starting to do illegal dumping because they couldn’t afford to do it.”

Rutherglen Residential Club, where 70 people live, have their rubbish collected by Veolia – who remove the rubbish to the Launceston tip.

Together, the Rutherglen residents pay $3,000 a year through their rates towards the Meander Valley waste services.

Council is unable to control which disposal sites privately engaged waste collection companies choose to utilise.

They are, however, willing to discuss with Rutherglen residents other options that may be available.