Christmas, Community, Charm and A Tree

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A Community Christmas Tree

This year, the Governor of Victoria held a reception at Government House to unveil the Victorian Community Christmas Tree. The first such event and one she hopes will become a calendar feature. The aim, to build community, and provide a safe, relaxed environment for people from all over Victoria to meet, chat, and get to know each other.

Each Victorian regional city and shire was invited to prepare a decorative ornament that best represents their local area. A booklet with pictures and an explanation of the decorations that arrived in time to be included was printed.  Hopetoun Blue baubles were placed on the tree with the names of those cities and shires that didn’t submit their ornaments by the deadline so no place was excluded.

Some people brought ornaments on the night, and others will continue to be placed on the tree as they arrive, between now and  Christmas . The Governor placed a handmade ornament by a local artist on the tree after a short welcome speech. It featured an inked sketch of  Government House and the message of ‘Peace and Prosperity’ to all.

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As Kingston’s Citizen of the Year 2016,  the Council asked me to attend.  Of course, I accepted even although, in my heart, I’m a republican! Charlie Mizzi, last year’s Citizen of the Year and his wife Gael were familiar faces, along with Meesha Salaria who is Deputy Junior Mayor this year, and her mother. I met Meesha when I spoke at Cheltenham Library earlier this year.

The booklets with details of the ornaments weren’t available until near the end of the evening. There was a glitch with the Government House photocopier an aide said. It’s nice to know even Government House has a problem with photocopiers – the bane of my life – I work in three different community houses with three different photocopiers of varying quality, and three different codes to remember! I know all about ‘glitches’.

Along with my fellow Kingston representatives, I spent a good half hour examining all the decorations trying to find the one Kingston Council sent – all we knew was it had been produced on the 3D printer at Cheltenham Library!

I guess it being a ‘first-time’ event no one was quite sure what to expect or what to do.

Young eyes succeeded where old eyes failed – Meesha spotted the Kingston logo on the leaves attached to 3 red balls,  representing holly, a traditional Christmas symbol. The words ‘beach’, ‘park’, and ‘my home’ glittered and sparkled on the balls.

Later, when I checked the booklet there was no explanation of Kingston’s ornament just a note “Merry Christmas from the City of Kingston”.

However, if you want to know more about what our city is like download Mordialloc Writers’ free e-book Kingston My City!

Many of the other decorations make a strong statement about their community. If this event becomes a Christmas ritual for Victoria, I can see an artistic or historical exhibition in the future for these ornaments.

Most were works of art with a story attached.

Some community leaders took advantage of the golden opportunity to showcase local artists and groups. Ornaments represented what districts are known for and shared historical information.

Some were spectacular!

Of the 43 in the booklet that I could identify it was easy to choose favourites. A few representatives from the various geographical areas had in-depth knowledge of their ornament and were proud to share information. The friendly buzz of conversation around the Christmas tree exactly what the Governor hoped as guests searched for ornaments, or added ones they’d been too late to send.

I was impressed with the thought put into some of the decorations with councils proud of being a diverse, multicultural society with indigenous heritage. The Christmas Tree an ideal symbol to celebrate life. Many who celebrate Christmas as part of their culture and/or religion gather around a tree to exchange greetings and gifts and this custom has been adopted or accepted by those who are not Christian.

Some councils and shires sent mayors and councillors as their representatives, others sent citizens. Some councils and shires commissioned artists to make the ornaments, others ran competitions in the community or schools or asked community groups; others had council employees or committees provide the decoration.

A Sample of Decorations

 

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Mitchell Shire

 

 

The original reason for the Cast Off Craft was to bring socially isolated women together under the excuse of craft. This was initially after the Black Saturday Bushfires, but the group wanted to be inclusive of all women, and not defined by that event.

The reason we chose the Golden Sun Moth and Mount Piper was the matching symbology between our group and these two magnificent objects from our community – Mitchell Shire.

Mt Piper stands alone, isolated from other mountain ranges, strong and stunning, but it is accessible – via walking track to the summit. It looks over our community.

The sun moth is delicate and rare, something that needs to be looked after and appreciated for its part in our local ecosystem – even the smallest contributor has value.

The gum nuts and leaves are reflective of our landscape and flora, and their silver reminds us of the beautiful, resilient and remarkable nature of our community.

 

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Whitehorse City

 

 

The City of Whitehorse delighted to provide a hand-cut paper decoration which represents the sights and sounds that encapsulate the multiculturalism, flavours and heritage of the City of Whitehorse.

I had a lovely conversation with Helene (‘please pronounce it Helen because the other way sounds too posh!’) from Mitcham about the importance of neighbourhood houses cultivating community and encouraging wellbeing. When I said I grew up at Croydon she recommended Magda Szubanski’s book Reckoning, which had ‘heaps’ about growing up in Croydon. It is now on my Christmas wishlist.

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ballarat

City of Ballarat

 

 

We have selected a small brass gold pan stamped with the Eureka Flag. The pan is a symbol of Ballarat’s significant association with the Victorian gold rush, which started when gold was discovered at Poverty Point on 18 August 1851.

Ballarat quickly transformed into a major gold rush boom town with over 20,000 people moving to live on the diggings during this time.

The Eureka flag is also associated with this area and represents the Eureka Rebellion that took place on 3 December 1854. The battle of Eureka was fought between the colonial forces of Australia and miners objecting to the cost of a miner’s licence and the actions of the police and military on the gold fields.

The flag became a symbol of the rebellion and has become a national symbol of democracy in Australia.

 

 

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City of Swan Hill

 

 

Made by Suzanna Connely, ‘The Koorie Garden’ is a representation of the Mallee scrub. The feathers, eggs and seeds are brought from commercial farms and the trees are rescued from wood chipping.

 

From Golden Plains Shire, these Christmas pieces speka to the joy, colour and warmth of the festive season and feature the natural charcateristics of the municipality.

The characteristics of both the Christmas present and the Christmas tree art pieces are predominantly the golden wheat and canola paddocks, vaious fodder crops, winery vinyards, sheep and the golden sun across the plains.

 

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Monash City

 

 

The Monash men’s Shed is located in one of Monash council’s bushland parks, Bogong reserve in Glen Waverley. The ornament created by a Monash Men’s Shed member was inspired by the garden city landscape of Monash.

The ornament is also a reminder of the beautiful setting of the Monash Carols by Candlelight. This annual event is held amongst the gumtrees of Jells Park and attended by thousands of members of our culturally rich and diverse communities.

 

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Greater Geelong City

 

 

The City of Greater Geelong commissioned Geelong-based fibre artist, heather Frizzell to create an Orange-Bellied Parrot in flight as the ornament for the Government House Christmas Tree.

With around 30 to 40 left in the wild, the bird found in Geelong and the Bellarine region has been recognised as critically endangered and is protected under the Environemnt Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999).

 

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 Bayside City

 

Brighton’s iconic Bathing Boxes are one of the most celebrated and recognised locations in Melbourne. The Bathing Boxes feature in both national and international marketing campaigns for the State of Victoria and are Bayside’s most visited tourist location.

This decoration is a whimsical, ‘beachy’ take on Christmas that employs images that are as iconic to Australian culture as the Bathing Boxes are to Bayside.

 

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East Gippsland Shire

 

 

The artwork on the Christmas bauble is of a mural designed and painted by local Aboriginal artists and youths as part of a graffiti prevention project.

The mural shows stories from the Gunai Kurnai people, traditional custodians of part of East Gippsland. A dingo and Bogong moth make the journey from the mountain to the seas. A journey also taken by the Gurnai Kurnai people.

The mural can be seen in ‘real life’ in Bairnsdale’s CBD.

PS. When I spoke to a councillor, he said a local woodturner made and polished the ornament from local wood.

 

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Cardinia Shire

 

 

This beautifully hand-crafted decoration was created by artists Viktor kalinowski and Elaine Rieger, and was inspired by a local native grass called bidgee-widgee.

It is made of 40 individual pieces of anodised silver and aluminium, which represent the 40 townships that make up Cardinia Shire.

 

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Buloke Shire

 

 

Artist Jo Malham from Donald:

Dry drought summer,
Autumn seeds, sown in hope,
Wet winter, flooded land,
Life springs,
Grains flourish,
Rich harvest reaped.

PS. An artist and a poet – how lovely.

 

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Moreland City

 

 

Created by the Lentara UnitingCare Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre. It was inspired by Simon Perry’s ‘Monument of Free Speech’ sculpture located outside the Brunswick Mechanics Institute.

The bird cage ornament was constructed using diver wire and crystals which sparkle as a symbol of hope for the future. the silver base was cut and engraved by local jeweller NB Jewel Masters of Coburg.

The bird cage is open and the birds have flown free, leaving behind only a small feather.

The idea of the cage resonated with the people who visit the Welcome Centre. These people are at various stages of rebuilding their lives, which have been devastated by conflict and oppression.

On the way into Government House, I walked behind Taj and his mother and offered to take a photograph of the pair of them in front of the building. Taj was Moreland’s Junior Citizen of the Year for his work on behalf of Asylum Seekers. His proud Mum involved in the environmental movement with their home open during Sustainability House Week. Taj wants to be an architect and has won a scholarship to Ivanhoe Grammar.

Talking with Taj you believe the future will be in safe hands! Here he is with Moreland’s other citizen representatives who made the most of the occasion.

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Greater Dandenong City

 

 

This ornament is decorated with patterns taken from a series of workshops held within the municipality where community members were encouraged to explore their cultural identity through textiles.

From representation of traditional dress to cultural celebrations, the etched images reflect individual fragments of fabric and pattern. these patterns combine to form an intricate layering, which highlights the diversity of our community.

 

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Corangamite Shire

 

 

Our ornament was made and designed by the Corangamite Youth Council. It is a symbol of our community’s strong connection to and proud history of agriculture and dairy farming. It represents the diversity of our region from the grain and sheep farms in the Western Districts to the beautiful beaches around the Great Ocean Road. 

It shows our pride in our youth and the hope we have for the future, while celebrating our history through the historic clock tower in the centre of Camperdown, our largest town.

 

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Glen Eira City

 

 

Made by local artist Madeleine Grummet using recycled materials from council’s Arts and Cutlure program.

PS. As one of my employers – I teach at Godfrey Street and also facilitate an ABI group – I looked out for Glen Eira’s ornament too but their description didn’t explain why they chose the design.

 

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Latrobe City

 

 

Students talked about the trees in shopping centres and stores, which were for sale roadside and the decorations throughout the Valley. They also spoke of the ‘giving trees’ at shopping centres. Sadly, some of our students experience hardship and trauma and stated the importance of this Christmas icon as they did not have one at home.

This Christmas tree is made from polymer clay and pipe cleaner. The process involved most students and staff at the campus being canvassed for their ideas. Six to eight students made prototypes, with two students working on the final product, supported by a staff member who undertook the drilling.

 

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Hobsons Bay City and Stonnington City

 

 

An ornament created by Louis Joel Arts and Community Centre representing divers locations within the Hobsons Bay municipality.

The glass work is by Maureen Williams, recognised as one of Australia’s foremost glass artists.

 

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Colac Otway Shire

 

 

The magic and beauty of the Otways inspired us to bellieve Santa might live here.

 

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Alpine Shire

 

 

The Christmas decoration represents Alpine Shire Council and was designed by a young artist, 13-year-old Giordano Genaro from Myrtleford.

 

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Macedon Ranges Shire

 

 

A finely detailed print porclain of our significant natural landmark, Hanging Rock. This rare volcanic formation, located near the townships of Woodend and Mount Macedon, is a sacred place for local indigenous people, and home to various events and a wide array of native flora and fauna.

PS.Who hasn’t read Picnic at Hanging Rock or been there to try and discover what really happened?

 

 

bendigo

City of Greater Bendigo

 

 

Bendigo Council is the first municipality in Australia to have its own official tartan registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans.

The colours represent the stories of Bendigo, whilst the design is symbolic of the mullock heap from Bendigo’s gold mining heritage.

  • Gold: History of Bendigo’s goldmining days;
  • Green: The state forest Bendigo is surrounded by;
  • Red/browns: The parched Australian landscape and the sun;
  • Blue/White: the State of Victoria, water and skies.

PS. Although Scots born, Bendigo’s tartan was a new discovery for me!

 

hume-city

Hume City

 

 

This decoration represents the hopes and aspirations of the people who live in the City of Hume, many of whom are refugees and migrants. The decoration celebrates the cultural diversity of Hume City.

It was made by a group of women of diverse faiths, from many different countries. It has a message of peace and tolerance.

Everyone Was Charmed By The Governor And Her Partner

Both Linda Dessau AM, who is the first female Governor of Victoria, and her partner Anthony Howard QC, are down-to-earth and inclusive. They were friendly and approachable on the night – so much so, it became like a Pixie Photo queue as they made themselves available to chat and their aides cheerfully took snaps for people on phones and iPads.

Anthony Howard approached me in the corridor, introduced himself and wanted to know where I was from and whether I was enjoying myself. His aide Michael obligingly took a photo and as the evening progressed and we were invited to wander through selected rooms and ‘make ourselves at home,’ I spotted Anthony on a sofa between a group of ladies from Echuca. Michael took half a dozen photographs amid laughter and joking. A fabulous time had by all!

A far cry  from the stuffiness and strict protocol of ‘Government House and Governor’ in days of yore!

I saw hijabs, turbans, young and old, male and female, elected officials and ordinary citizens. Like the ornaments on the tree, we were diverse, colourful, different shapes and sizes and each had our own story!

Earlier this year, I went to Government House after being nominated for a Seniors’ Award but I never got a chance to meet the Governor.  This time, I was able to congratulate her for trailblazing and being an inspiration for younger women. Each time I’ve heard her speak she has emphasised the importance of tolerance and equity, as well as equality.

This community event she has initiated has the potential to grow, to provide a space for city and country to come together, to learn from each other. To share stories about our communities and maybe even change the way things are done at a council or community level as ideas are explored and discussed.

For me, it was the first official Christmas event for this season and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I know there is a lot of sadness and conflict in the world but it is comforting to know that in Victoria there are compassionate, caring, community-minded people working to build a  welcoming, harmonious society and we have a Governor who wants to recognise and honour that.

Events like this fill up those dark places and thoughts with light.

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Wyndham City’s ornament looks like a large silver jellybean

 

 

Artist Will Francis used materials of 3D printed plastic with light emitting diodes, to signify the future of technology and manufacturing. When it glows the light represents the constantly increasing cultural diversity of the region.

Christmas is indeed the season of Light – a light in the Christian faith emanating from the birth of a little boy who was sent to preach love and be the spiritual light for His followers.

Other faiths celebrate light and love too – Hanukkah, Diwali and Eid al-Fitr is a festival of sacrifice, feasting and giving of presents.

The girls and I have now put up our own Christmas tree with baubles loaded with memories just like the Government House tree.

A great beginning to what I hope will be a happy festive season!

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A Hall Full of Harmony

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Harmony Day is a celebration of Australia’s cultural diversity held each year on 21 March.

On Sunday, I was fortunate to take part in a Harmony Day celebration organised by Mordialloc Neighbourhood House. Billed as ‘A Taste of the World‘ and supported financially by the City of Kingston, the event involved displays and performances from a variety of cultural traditions. There was food, music, and dance by immigrants who now call Australia home and homegrown poetry and song.

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Harmony Day is held every year on 21 March to coincide with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The message of Harmony Day is everyone belongs. It’s a day to celebrate Australia’s diversity – a day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home.

  • around 45 per cent of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was
  • 85 per cent of Australians agree multiculturalism has been good for Australia
  • apart from English the most common languages spoken in Australia are Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Vietnamese, Tagalog/Filipino, Spanish and Hindi
  • more than 60 Indigenous languages are spoken in Australia
  • 92 per cent of Australians feel a great sense of belonging to our country.

These facts are taken from ABS 2011 Census Data

About 30 per cent of Kingston’s population was born overseas, with 22 per cent from non-English speaking backgrounds including Vietnamese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Greek, Italian and Chinese societies.

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Lisa Sun, the manager of Mordialloc Neighbourhood House and many of the staff were ably supported by volunteers, including Gabrielle Fakhri who was a magnificent MC as always. Gabrielle travels an hour and a half from the other side of Melbourne to support Mordialloc Neighbourhood House’s multicultural activities.

This is the second year for a Harmony Day celebration and there were a greater number of performers and a much larger audience proving indeed that

From little things big things grow


From little things big things grow

Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody

The local MP, Tim Richardson and also Councillors Geoff Gledhill and Rosemary West OAM attended to show their support with Tim and Geoff presenting raffle prizes. Our elected representatives moving between several events in other parts of the city and left to attend even more.  A great effort that should be acknowledged!

As Tim mentions on his Facebook page:

Incredibly the more than 150,000 residents in the City of Kingston come from 150 different nationalities and heritages, speaking more than 120 languages. Our cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths in Melbourne, whether it is the celebration of the arts, food, creative arts, culture or history.

Local businesses donated prizes and I was lucky to win an organic facial from Endota Spa Mordialloc. Perhaps I channelled the luck of the Irish (thank you Mum) it being so soon after St Patrick’s Day because I rarely win anything.

Jaden Williams, the grandson of Boon Wurrung elder Carolyn Briggs offered Welcome to Country. As first people of the bay areas Boon Wurrung are proud  to share the history of their people and offer insights into their culture.

The opening act for the afternoon was the spectacular Lion Dance by The Hong De Lion Dance Association  formed in April 2008 by a group of passionate lion dancers with the aim to teach and promote the art to the community. The Hong De Lion Dance Association is a member of the International Hong Teck Association. The instructors have over 20 years experience in the art of the Chinese lion dance.

The next contribution came from Vivace Voices, one of the choirs at Kingston U3A. The choir was formed 12 years ago and has an extensive repertoire performing at concerts in various venues.

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The Pilipino group P.E.A.S.E.R., (Pilipino Elderly Association of South East Region) a voluntary senior citizens group founded in 1993 to assist elderly Pilipinos and their families had a strong presence and entertained a delighted audience with singing and dancing. They also had a well-stocked stall. The group was recognised for community volunteer work by Premier Steve Bracks in the International Year of Volunteers 2001, received Victoria’s Award for Excellence in Multicultural Affairs for Meritorious Service in the Community in 2004, and on Australia Day 2006 they were the City of Kingston’s Community Group of the Year:

… for making its own unique contribution to the broader community while still keeping the Pilipino cultural heritage alive.

Over the years P.E.A.S.E.R. has focused on the broader community.

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After the Pilipino Group, Vanessa Fraser sent the blood pressure of some of the audience sky high and had the rest of us in awe at her belly dancing expertise, energy and how easy she made it look! An absolutely stunning performance of a dance with origins in the Indian sub-continent, Middle East, Mediterranean and northeastern Africa.

We then had the first of several traditional dances by the Kingston Chinese Senior Citizens Club Inc. There was also an instrumental solo of a traditional Chinese instrument like a flute, a difficult instrument to master.

The upbeat dance music had toes tapping and hands clapping and the sound engineer and myself even had a jig. The joy, enthusiasm and desired harmony in the room palpable.

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When it was time for me to read some poetry and acknowledge the power and flexibility of the English language to contribute to harmony and diversity I had many hard acts to follow!

However, words can acknowledge and celebrate our humanity, our differences, our similarities, our needs, our sadness and happiness… and have the power to engage, encourage deeper understanding and appreciation of each other and events, even incite change…

I read three of my own poems:  a haiku, a short poem about asylum seekers, the acrostic poem Words Words Are All I Have and finished with the wonderful poem Unity by aboriginal poet/ author/ artist Kevin Gilbert.

Ningla a-Na! This our land
Indigenous and immigrant
Now sharing history

Seeking Asylum

Despair and desperation in their eyes
they plan to seek a new life
as far away as possible from strife

Seeking a safe haven is the prize
perhaps leaving behind children and wife
despair and desperation in their eyes

For many it may take several tries

Living on the edge of a knife
their only crime seeking a new life
despair and desperation in their eyes.

 

Words Are All I Have

Words are my business
Often they flow, or stay sealed like a time capsule
Remembering, imagining, creating, forgetting…
Depending on mood, knowledge, skill… the dictionary
So they can colour the page: language, meaning, interpretation… frustration

Why does the sentence not work
Or the words engage? Where’s the impact?
Rambling, nothing of substance… stuttering
Don’t start… don’t stop… less is more… Oh, decisions!
Structure? Be sensible, sensitive, sarcastic, serious, succinct, smart, strong

Alliteration can work
Repetition a crafty tool. Pizzaz needed
Especially metaphor and simile

Am I mad?
Losing it?
Laughing, crying, anxious, arrogant, scared… confident…

I squeeze the words from the pen

Hammer the keyboard
And shape the words and worlds to
Vindicate the term ‘writer’
End of story!

Unity by Kevin Gilbert

I am the land
I am the trees
I am the rivers
that flow to the seas
joining and moving

encompassing all
blending all parts of me
stars in my thrall
binding and weaving
with you who belong

sometime discordant
but part of my song
birds are a whisper
the four breezes croon

raindrops in melody
all form the tune
of being belonging
aglow with the surge
to life and its passions
to create its urge
in living expression
its total of one
and the I and the tree
and the you and the me
and the rivers and birds
and the rocks that we’ve heard

sing the songs we are one
I’m the tree you are me
with the land and the sea
we are one life not three
in the essence of life
we are one.

Mairi Neil _n
Yours truly

We then watched a riveting performance of Korean drumming by Mordialloc’s St Brigid’s Primary School . Later, the teacher told me that next year they will also have Korean dance. How lucky  to have access to another culture this way from an experienced teacher and to see the children embrace it so enthusiastically!

St brigid's korean drums

The local Aumsai Sansthen Temple again supported the event and the children gave us the delights of Bollywood, the three-year-old girl setting maternal and paternal hearts aflutter.

After the planned performances finished there were a range of activities to see and do encouraging people to move out of their comfort zone and dabble in diversity: Dressing up in Egyptian costumes and having a photograph with pharaoh, sipping Eritrean coffee, making Chinese lanterns, having a henna tattoo, face painted, tasting delightful delicacies, receiving a balloon animal, and joining in the singsong around the piano.

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There is so much to do in Melbourne every weekend, the March calendar particularly crowded with Moomba, the Labour Day weekend, the Grand Prix and of course this year Palm Sunday and Easter.

I had choices to make too  regarding ‘where to go’ but was thrilled to be part of this lively celebration of multiculturalism. What better way to promote harmony and acceptance  of our diversity than ‘A Taste of the World’ in your own backyard.

For me, it was also a chance to share my thoughts.To remind everyone that we all came from ‘somewhere else’ to this great country and yet the first people still welcome us although we invaded their land. What generosity of spirit to have and encourage.

While we celebrated, laughed and sang, thousands of others marched through Melbourne’s streets asking our political leaders to have a more humane approach to the refugee crisis engulfing the globe.

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Harmony Day in Mordialloc an example of the richness other cultures bring to an already talented community. Long may we continue to celebrate diversity and work to spread that welcoming and inclusiveness.

I look forward to a bigger and better bash next year.

Well done to  Mordialloc Neighbourhood House for initiating this event.

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A Stroll To Serenity – thank Goodness for Mother Nature

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It’s been a tough week – no make that a tough year, so far – and although I’ve become accustomed to putting a smile on my face and “faking it till I make it” my mind has difficulty switching off from traumatic events.

Energy is hard to find and inspiration for creative writing, a lost cause.

If my wee, Irish Mum was still alive, she’d suggest I’ve had a week of ‘not being able to get out of my own road’ .

A family member died suddenly, much too young at 48. The unexpected death leaving everyone devastated, especially her thirteen-year-old daughter. This tragedy occurred only weeks after the funeral of a cousin who found living with illness too difficult and chose to end his life. His close family still grieving his older brother’s death (another of my cousins) from a heart attack just before Christmas.

These tragedies feed the superstition that catastrophe happens in threes but this is just an urban legend  –  isn’t it?

Each death made past grief raw with a numbness descending. I had the line ‘what’s it all about?‘ from Alfie playing in a loop in my head.

However, lessons must be planned and presented, letters and emails written, an IWD presentation prepared and worried over, and this blog written – the cliche ‘life must go on’ indeed a truism.

Thank goodness then, for close friends, and nature’s beauty, to distract from the doldrums and reinvigorate a purpose for life and joy in living.

My dear friend,  Glenice Whitting suffered a home invasion and could laugh about it over coffee and despite inclement weather and a busy schedule, another friend Lisa Hill picked me up after work and we went for a walk in the park as a balm to troubled souls.

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Karkarook Park is located on Warrigal Road in Heatherton, nestled among an industrial estate and not far from several housing developments. The park is ideal for a relaxing stroll, providing an oasis of tranquillity. Traffic sounds diminished by evergreen native trees and an undulating landscape.

Karkarook, a tribute to those with vision and prepared to work hard to rehabilitate land owned by a mix of parties, including council, state government and private companies. To shape a place for the public to enjoy with recreational facilities such as: cycle and walking tracks, angling, BBQ and picnic areas, playground, canoeing and kayaking.

view towards Warrigal Road
View towards Warrigal Road, Moorabbin

 

“Karkarook Park is a recreational and environmental oasis, revegetated with indigenous plants. The 15 hectare lake is a good spot for canoeing, kayaking or sailing. Explore the park on foot or bike on 6km of trails. Take the dog for a walk. Or try your luck fishing for Rainbow Trout or Red Fin. “

Fisheries Victoria restocks the artificial lake with about 4000 trout a year.

Sanctuary
Peaceful, secure
Feeding, breeding, nurturing
Providing responsible ecological balance
Wetlands
© mairi neil

 

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Parks Victoria provides the following information:

The area around Karkarook would have been a rich source of food for Aboriginal people. “Karkarook” is an Aboriginal term meaning “a sandy place”.

After European settlement, Karkarook was used for flood retarding, market gardens and horse agistment. Through a partnership between Parks Victoria, Boral, Readymix and the community, the area was mined for sand, then transformed into the beautiful park you see today.

Flora and fauna
Karkarook Park is gradually being restored to a healthy environment. Over 500,000 indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses have been planted, many by volunteers. As the park improves, birds are returning to make Karkarook their home. More than 110 species of bird have already been recorded at the park.

Karkarook is represented by the dragonfly, chosen to represent a healthy environment and metamorphosis (transformation). The information display is in the shape of a dragonfly.

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Successive councils and state governments, and the community have supported the concept of a Chain of Parks since it was first suggested and the recent development of Karkarook Park was an important catalyst project.

Kingston has a number of landfills and there are limited ways that land can be used after landfills are closed. The idea of a series of linked parks in the Heatherton/Dingley area has been around since the early 1970s when Sir Rupert Hamer’s  Liberal Government first established the Green Wedges in 1971 .

In 1994, this idea was formalised into a report by the former Melbourne Parks and Waterways (now Parks Victoria) and in September 2002 the Bracks Labor Government finalised new green wedge zones in a process to protect Melbourne’s Green Wedges for future generations.

But of course life is never that simple and environmentalists will tell you the battle in Kingston is unrelenting with the Planning Department forever wanting to rezone land. Fortunately, in 2015, the council made an effort in the northern part of the city for the first time. Kingston City’s C143 amendment rezones old quarries and landfill tips to green wedge and assures no more concrete crushers and similar inappropriate uses.

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Pathways form grey ribbons for relaxing walks

Other parts of the city are not so lucky and currently arable land and a part of the Green Wedge is under threat from The Cemeteries Trust, who want to remove the market gardens and build a cemetery. A chain of parks trail, agricultural activities, equestrian activity such as a riding school, or even environmental conservation such as a horticultural school – all of these preferable to a commercial enterprise involving a lot of buildings, concrete and cars.

The fight for sensible, sustainable environmental policies on going but as Lisa and I enjoyed Karkarook Park I welcomed the chance to reduce my stress level.

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Dusky moorhens
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Pacific Ducks
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Galahs foraging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bubbling residue in damp sand
Ephemeral evidence of
Mankind’s footsteps

© mairi neil

 

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A Stroll to Shift Mood
A Haibun by Mairi Neil

Determined summer
captive to ardent grey clouds
beams silver sunshine

We stroll sculpted pathways hoping to avoid the next downpour of rain. A Melbourne afternoon justifying the city’s reputation. It’s summer and we’re prepared for winter, but must shed our jackets when the brilliant sunshine ignores bruised skies and radiates heat.

On the gentle breeze
amidst a flurry of rain
a tiny blue wren flits

The park abandoned apart from a seagull susurration above the lake and Pacific Ducks waddling for the water as we approach. Galahs peck at the moist soil but keep their distance. Magpies rush for the cover of trees their movement enticing me closer.

Through a highland mist
the repeated haunting call
of a lonely moorhen

Three Fairy Wrens decorate dull brown branches with brilliant blueness. If only the elusive Hooded Plover skittering along the sandy hem of the lake would pause long enough for the camera to capture his glory. And sheltered from the rain we watch the mist rise and fall over the lake, dark blue-grey clouds sweep across the sky and a defeated sun struggles to assert its authority.

After the shower
the gulls aerial ballet
brightens the dull sky

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The rain arrived
sunshine
and left as the sun came out

 

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A walk always blows the cobwebs away and helps me put life in perspective, especially the curved balls occasionally pitched that hit their mark.

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Melbourne has earned the title of the ‘world’s most liveable city’.  Kingston’s part in The Chain of Parks and the protection of the Green Wedge contributes to Melbourne’s appeal – so here’s to future sensible, sustainable policies maintaining the lungs of our city.

And getting some writing mojo back!

Winds Of Change
Mairi Neil

I am the balmy breeze that becomes the whistling wind
I wonder at the foolishness of architecture
I hear the sighs of lovers and the curses of farmers
I see the cricket matches and the collapsed houses
I want to travel the world and display my power
I am the balmy breeze that becomes the whistling wind

I pretend that I am always in control
I feel the power of Mother Nature’s other children
I touch the clouds and make them weep
I worry that there are places I cannot reach
I howl and keen in the eye of the cyclone
I am the balmy breeze that becomes the whistling wind

I understand the flutter of a baby’s hand
I manipulate heaving white horses
I whisper soft sentences and rant furious prose
I try always for my poetry to be heard
I hope always for a memorable role
I am the balmy breeze that becomes the whistling wind.

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Serenity restored

Formatting and Frustration all Free

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I could have done with listening to one of Earl Nightingale‘s inspirational speeches over the last couple of days as I tried to upload the already formatted Ebooks of Mordialloc Writers’ latest anthology: Kingston My City.

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I wanted to complete the dream (promise) of making the digital version free after our group launched the hard copy on the 14th November.

I had the book formatted for EPUB and MOBI and thought all I had to do was offer it to the local library, or even have it on the city’s website and the promise would be fulfilled, plus I could publish on my blog and the group’s blog and share links.

I’m a lifelong learner but my training in the workforce began with manual typewriters and progressed to an electric golfball typewriter, which I thought amazing.

I never received any formal training on computers let alone digital publishing.

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I started blogging a year ago and only know the basics. Trying to publish our digital book, I discovered that WordPress won’t accept file types EPUB and MOBI. A young man I contacted via help and “live chat” was helpful, but he could’t tell me why these files are not accepted.

“Be Prepared” a motto I should have remembered from Girl Guides.

I visited the local library and found the staff extremely helpful, but they use a particular supplier for their ebooks, who in turn has contracts with ebook vendors. The library will happily provide a link to our book, but can’t load it directly onto their system, which is understandable.

And so my disappointment but also learning continued.

What were other possibilities?

I overthink, do too much research, and procrastinate when it comes to writing. Computer decisions also suffer from these flaws!  My confidence is easily shaken or disappears faster than a sinking ship. However, I don’t give up and I usually get there in the end.

I kept telling myself that many writers publish online everyday so decided to load the book onto Amazon and iAuthor with a zero price tag and then let people know through email or blog posts.

It’s embarrassing how many hours this process took. (It didn’t help when the Internet connection kept dropping out or slowing down – something that happens all too frequently now since a less than perfect NBN rollout.)

With the Kindle upload on Amazon I wanted to avoid giving my personal banking details, but ultimately had to because the Group doesn’t have an Amazon Account. Meanwhile, it turned out that it is easier to load the book onto iAuthor at zero price tag than Amazon.

The book is currently listed at $US1.99 on Amazon . It can be reduced to zero for a promotional period, but only if you haven’t listed the book with another site, which I have done! Another stumbling block on my learning curve!

I hope when I investigate further the book can be reduced to zero dollars, but this may have to wait until after New Year.

My blood pressure matched my frustration levels until a quicker and easier way to upload the book using other sites was revealed.

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I Googled and discovered this article explaining digital publishing and read about a site similar to Smashwords, that I didn’t know about: DRAFT2DIGITAL.

Within minutes I had the book loaded and available on a host of sites and as each distributor accepts the book they will notify me by email.

The fact I’m not looking for money from the book may have made it harder to publish on Amazon and easier to publish elsewhere, however the process on Draft2Digital was certainly quicker and friendlier and one I’d use again.

They have already emailed me to say the book can be downloaded from:

iBooks and Page Foundry

They will email me as the book appears on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, Tolino and 24 Symbols. Some of these online stores I didn’t know existed!

Most sites will guide you through downloading apps to read the book but here is information that may be of use provided by the company that originally formatted our book. Useful for those who don’t own a kindle or unaware you can read ebooks on a computer:

eREADER EXE
If you have no eReader then first you must install an eReader EXE for viewing your eBook files on your computer. This is free software.

  1. Do you have IPAD or similar device? If YES, then search “iBooks apps”;  add this free app and you will have epub format
  2. KINDLE SOFTWARE (You can get a version for your MAC or PC) http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_ipad_mkt_lnd?docId=1000493771  and https://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-page?ie=UTF8&ref_=klp_mn
  3. Adobe Digital Edition (PC version)

http://www.adobe.com/in/products/digital-editions/download.html
(Run this EXE, when asked email id, skip this information, after installation you will see the icon on your desktop)
OUTPUT FORMAT: .epub
(After installation you see “LIBRARY and the Add Item to Library”, click that button and go your location where you located your epub file. Open EPUB file)

KINDLE for PC (PC version)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/pc/download
(Run this EXE, when asked email id, skip this information, after installation you can see icon in your desktop)
OUTPUT FORMAT: .mobi
After installation then press ENTER any Kindle format : mobi)

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No doubt my education will continue because the digital world is here to stay and after 20 years and nine anthologies I believe the future for Mordialloc Writers’ Group and the individual writers will be digital publishing.

We have dipped our collective toe in the water to establish our name, let’s hope we’ll soon be swimming. Enjoy our stories, share them and please let us know if you like them.

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Respect and Gender Equity To End Family Violence

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Earlier this year, Janice Munt, the former Member for Mordialloc, and now an advisor to the Hon Fiona Richardson MP, Minister for Women and the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, addressed the Southern Branch of the Union of Australian Women meeting at Mordialloc Neighbourhood House.

Although only June, a cold snap in mercurial Melbourne broke records. Winter already taking its toll on members’ health, but the chilly weather suited the topic as we gathered to hear a sobering, informative speech about family violence and what the current State Government is doing about this tragedy.

Janice’s introduction forthright, “this will not be a light and fluffy speech – rather a plethora of facts and information, particularly newly released statistics from police.”

She rightly referred to family violence as the “most pressing, urgent and pervasive scourge” our community faces. We are well beyond crisis point, “the system having failed too many women, too many children, too many families.” 

Fortunately, since the Andrews Government announced the Royal Commission into Family Violence, the Minister and her team have been working like women possessed consulting and researching people and groups touched by family violence. The consultation includes the large chain of public authorities impacted by family violence: hospitals, courts, schools, and all associated departments.

Janice shared the following shocking statistics from the Victorian Police:

  • 68,134 family violence incidents attended by Victorian Police in 2014
  • Children were present at 34% of family violence incidents attended police in 2013-4
  • Family violence incidents have increased by 8% between 2013 and 2014.
  • Since 2010, family violence incidents have increased by 72%
  • In 2014,  29 family violence incident-related homicides recorded in Victoria.
  • In 2013-4, family violence incidents represented 41.7% of all crimes against the person offences in Victoria.
  • Intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death and disability and ill health for Victorian women aged between 15 and 44 years.
  • Women are more likely than men to have experienced emotional abuse by a partner since the age of 15 (25% of women compared to 14% of men).

Statistics for the City of Kingston (the local refuge for this area being the largest in Victoria) are just as frightening with the following recorded Family Violence offences:

2011:     865
2012:     1025
2013:     1229
2014:     1331
2015:     1297

The National Community Attitudes Survey of 2013 indicated that attitudes that justify, excuse and minimise violence against women persist in a significant proportion of our community.

  • Nearly 1 in 5 people believe a woman is partly responsible if she is sexually assaulted while drunk or affected by drugs
  • More than 1 in 5 think the violence is excused if the perpetrator later regrets it
  • Up to 1 in 5 believe there are circumstances where women bear some responsibility for the violence
  • Nearly 8 in 10 agree it’s hard to understand why women stay in a violent relationship

The same survey measured community attitudes towards gender equality:

  • Up to 1 in 4 believe women prefer a man to be in charge of a relationship
  • Up to 1 in 4 consider men make better political leaders than women
  • Up to 28% of Australians endorse attitudes supportive of male dominance of decision-making in relationships, a dynamic identified as a risk factor for violence against women and children

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In 2009, the annual cost to Victoria’s economy of violence against women and children was estimated at $3.4 billion.(An estimate based on the National cost of $13.6 billion!) This cost includes all the associated services: police, courts, hospitals, refuges, counselling, relocation, housing, interrupted employment and schooling.

In Australia, on average women suffer a 19% pay gap and as we heard from Robyn Dale at a previous meeting, this is rising.

Robyn was the Director of the Union Research Centre on Organisation and Technology. (URCOT, Participation, Research, Innovation.) In 2004-5, URCOT’s research examined the extent and causes of gender pay inequity in Victoria and identified some options for addressing the continuing pay differential between men and women.

Robyn concluded that Australia still has one of the most sex-segregated workplaces, with gender discrimination built into their DNA.  Before Workchoices, it was estimated it will take 73 years to close the gender gap and there have been no real gains since Workchoices. Women’s pay has stagnated.

Not surprisingly one of the main supporters of Workchoices was our recently deposed Prime Minister, Tony Abbott whose attitude to women was often questioned by the media:

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Finances are commonly used to exert dependence; therefore, women risk and fear homelessness and destitution if they leave the family home.

The National personal Safety Survey of 2012 indicated:

  • 1 in 3 (34%) of Australian women have experienced physical violence
  • 1 in 5 (19%) Australian women have experienced sexual violence
  • 403,200 women (aged over 18 years) experienced physical violence in the last 12 months
  • 102,400 women (aged over 18 years) experienced sexual violence in the last 12 months.
  • 1 in 4 Australian women had experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner
  • A woman is killed in Australia almost every week by a partner or ex-partner.

 Sadly, these statistics have not improved in 2015!

In 2013-14, Victorian women comprised over half (52.9%) of all victims of crimes against the person, 79.2% of sex (non-rape) offence victims and 90% of rape victims.

Female victims of crime against the person increased by 4% in 2013-14, whereas male victims decreased by 1.5% in the same period.

The increase in crimes against the person (females) since 2012-13 includes:

  • 6.8% increase in homicide
  • 3.4% increase in sexual assaults (non-rape)
  • 7.9% increase in rape
  • 4.2% increase in assaults
  • Women are more likely than men to have experienced partner violence: 16.9% cf 4.5% men

The shocking statistic that an estimated 67% of women have NOT been in contact with the police after their most recent incident of physical assault by a male should alarm us all.

Plus the horrific statistic that 27% of women who present to the Royal Women’s Hospital are currently being abused by their partner, many for the first time while they are pregnant. Women are particularly vulnerable when they are pregnant!

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A recognition that gender inequality is the leading cause of violence against women – the evidence base developed by the Victorian Health Promotion in 2007 and supported by the World Health Organisation, underpins approaches to violence prevention by governments and agencies in Victoria and nationally.

Janice dispelled some of the myths and misunderstandings about family violence by explaining:

  • It is women and children who bear the heaviest burden and it is men who are overwhelmingly the perpetrators. Women are usually the victims, many of the statistics for men come from same-sex relationships. Pets are at risk too!
  • Gender inequality and poor gender stereotypes are the fundamental drivers of family violence. Countries (particularly Scandinavia and Northern Europe) with greater equality have fewer rates of family violence.
  • Victims don’t leave because they are fearful of the lives of themselves and their children. Statistically they are at the most risk when they leave a relationship.
  • We need to ask why the perpetrator is not held to account, what will be done to stop causing the harm, and if behaviour doesn’t change then, he should leave.
  • Family violence thrives under a cloud of shame and secrecy – it needs a bright light like the spotlight being shone on the RC church and its abuse of children. We must believe, not blame the victim!
  • The tragic death of a woman at the hands of her partner needs to treated in the same way as the tragic death at the hands of a stranger – it is murder.
  • Our societal attitudes towards women and children and our cultural attitudes towards violence contribute to our national shame. Our culture must change, not just the laws.

We all have a role – not just those who suffer or have suffered.

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The Andrews Government has put in place the Royal Commission to conduct a root and branch examination of our system. There is $40 million, set aside to hear from victims and service providers and a commitment to implement all recommendations. Already hundreds of people and organisations have put in submissions and Janice encouraged those present to do so or spread the word to others.

Extra emergency funding has been made available for duty lawyers, children’s counsellors, crisis accommodation and transport, service providers, crisis lines and support agencies. A Family Violence Index has been announced working like the Consumer Price Index.

All indicators for examination: police reports, hospital admission reports, impact on children from education reports, data about homelessness, court costs, working days lost, police referrals to family violence services, and the variation of community attitudes to family violence.

A baseline established of the real cost to the Victorian economy and ministers can go to Treasury and get funding for the relevant programmes.

The cause of family violence is a bad attitude towards women and support of gender inequality. When males treat females as inferior, or limit their capacity to live their lives the way they choose, it encourages some men to bully, using physical power to dominate and control.

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There is hope the royal commission will encourage the resourcing of a  world class prevention system in Victoria to stop family violence.

  • There’s been an 82% increase in family violence since 2010, but the data based on crime statistics offers an incomplete picture
  • High-risk groups(Aboriginal, rural, CALD) are not receiving the necessary services
  • The cost nationally anticipated to be $15.6 billion by 2021
  • Family violence a factor in 50% of substantiated child protection cases
  • Family violence connected to 35% of homelessness services
  • Family violence is 40% of Victoria Police’s work in crimes against a person
  • 284% increase in intervention order breach cases in courts over three years.

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Already these ten gaps identified:

  1. Poor data collection of the scale and breadth of the problem
  2. Lack of consistent and sufficiently resourced prevention frameworks and programs
  3. Limited understanding of the short and long-term impact on children and youth
  4. Poorly resourced and underinvestment in responses as demand for services grows
  5. Inconsistent and poorly tailored responses for high-risk groups and specific cohorts, including failure to be culturally responsive
  6. Weak legal consequences failing to hold perpetrators to account
  7. An inaccessible and complex justice system; victims don’t always feel safe
  8. Lack of integrated response model; insufficiently robust governance structures
  9. Barriers to sharing information
  10. Challenges to working with the Commonwealth Government

The Federal Government spent $30 million on an advertising campaign and wanted half of that from Victoria, but the Andrews Government’s Royal Commission will ultimately be of more benefit.

The needs are:

  • Talking about issues and solutions and changing attitudes
  • Integrated services, and better training for those responding, effective governance making systematic use of data to support decision making, sharing information to support early intervention, crisis response and perpetrator accountability
  • A one-stop “shop” for victims with access to multi-disciplinary professionals and services – strengthening and rolling out conventional risk assessment tools – an entire workforce in family violence system trained to identify and manage risk in a similar ways
  • Reform of court system so victim and perpetrator don’t use same door, same waiting area – innovative justice actively avoiding the re-traumatisation of victims
  • Affordable housing, with public and private, strategies for emergency accommodation. Victims must be able to leave violent situations quickly. Opportunities to use legislation to ensure third party organisations overlay their hardship criteria and policies with a family violence lens
  • Make perpetrators more visible and accountable, have early intervention strategies that converge policing, health and legal services for perpetrators. Strengthen and follow-up compliance with orders
  • Shine a light on bureaucrats, professionals must lay cards on the table and ensure responses are not public servants covering their arse
  • A whole new approach, not just more money and resources – a whole of government family violence education agenda. An integrated community care model with high-quality specialist family violence expertise
  • Good decent men have to speak up and challenge the misbehaviour and bad attitudes of other men in their circle – community education program for prevention – schools, workplaces, health centres, community sports centres
  • Acknowledgement of the spectrum of disrespect for women and that discriminatory societies breed family violence

No more defending the status quo!

The Government’s aware this is not working and will refuse to shy away from the problem – a bright light will be shone, and solutions found. The Royal Commission’s task to provide practical recommendations to overcome failures in the system.

  • Gaps addressed and opportunities to improve seized
  • Currently, the focus is on response to victims, not enough on holding perpetrators accountable and stopping them repeating violence
  • Focus now on the legal lens – but the impact is often to compound pain, trauma and fear
  • Currently, not using technology to its fullest capacity (warning systems, like mobile phone Apps etc.)
  • More needs to be done to free victims financially and lessen the impact of bureaucracy
  • Delivery of a tailored response
  • Currently, victims bearing the burden of complex system – ease of navigation must be improved
  • Need to mobilise the many loving, decent men to change collective behaviour
  • Educate men in ways to stop the violence
  • Gender equality at the heart of family violence solutions
  • There must be a change in behaviour and attitude – crude, sexist remarks against women one end of the spectrum, family violence at the other
  • International evidence shows that societies that have inequality built into their laws and cultural norms will have higher levels of violence against women and children.

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Janice affirmed that it is the job of government to help people understand the connection between gender inequality and family violence.

She asked the meeting to reflect on all those lost and the thousands of women living in fear in their own homes.

Daniel Valerio’s bruised, sad, little face gave us mandatory reporting in Victoria. Rose Batty gave family violence a voice. We must now examine our broken system and put forward practical measures to end the violence.”

The meeting was stunned by many of the statistics Janice shared and questions and discussion followed. This is an issue the Union of Australian Women has consistently raised and thought about. Members praised the Andrews Government for the decision to have a royal commission and voiced optimism that at last we may see the current broken system, fixed.

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Sharing Words That Work

“Seeing yourself in print is such an amazing concept: you can get so much attention without having to actually show up somewhere.”

Anne Lamott

The Melbourne Writers Festival

At the moment the Melbourne Writers Festival is in full swing and there are plenty of writers showing up to share their writing journey, words of wisdom, promoting their books and ideas, taking part in debates and engaging with each other and audiences.

My daughters and I attended a session with Rob Thomas the creator and executive producer of the popular Veronica Mars television series, movie, and several young adult books. It was a delightful evening as Rob shared inside stories of trying to get his concept and pilot accepted and also the selection of actors, scenes, and storylines.

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For all the would-be authors in the audience, it’s always good to hear that a successful character/story eventually finds a home after years of hoping – in Rob’s case Veronica Mars sat in a drawer for 7 years, occasionally being tweaked, but waiting for the ‘right moment’ to be accepted.

A Rob Thomas groupie at MWF 2015
Me being a Rob Thomas groupie at MWF 2015

You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander.”

Anne Lamott

The Mordialloc Writers’ Group

My love of words and writing led me to establish the Mordialloc Writers’ Group in 1995 with the aim of providing a supportive environment, not only for local writers but also for others living beyond the City of Kingston. My dream always to ensure people who joined the group had the opportunity to see their words in print and I know for many members our anthologies are valued for that reason.

Like the moon, Mordialloc Writers’ Group has waxed and waned in membership but still thrives. Members workshop each Tuesday evening fortnight (8-10pm) at the Mordialloc Neighbourhood House in a supportive environment where talent is nurtured and constructive criticism  encouraged. Information about current writing opportunities shared with several members achieving writing awards, success in competitions, publication in other anthologies and even publishing contracts.

“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.”

Anne Lamott

We welcome poets, playwrights, novelists, family historians, children’s writers – anyone interested in creative or factual writing, whether for publication or personal pleasure. The majority of our members are over 50, but we also have younger writers  ensuring the group is representative of the community.

Anthology Number 1 – Writers By the Bay – 15 writers:

Writers By The Bay
Writers By The Bay

The group hosts the public Readings by the Bay at the Mordialloc Neighbourhood House at 2pm on the last Sunday of the month where the entertainment is followed by refreshments and interaction with wordsmiths from Frankston to Fern Tree Gully.

Anthology Number 2 – Casting A Line – 17 writers:

Casting A Line
Casting A Line

This year Mordialloc Writers celebrate 20 years and we are producing another collection of current and past members work entitled: Kingston My City. Twenty writers sharing their personal recollections and views of interaction with the City of Kingston – including memories before the amalgamation of suburbs created the entity.

Each published anthology shows a progression and improvement in our writing abilities – this was another challenge to the writers to fill the pages of our ninth anthology . The personal essay is not as demanding as the personal memoir because it can be about almost anything, whereas the memoir tends to discuss past events. However, a memoir is similar to the personal essay, except that  memoir tends to focus more on significant or life-changing events. The personal essay can be a relatively light reflection about what’s going on in life right now.

Anthology Number 3 – Up the Creek with a pen! – 17 writers:

Up the Creek with a Pen
Up the Creek with a Pen

Contributors were asked what Kingston means to them. They don’t all live in Kingston but are connected in some way –– either in the past or present, (birth, residence, schooling, work, regular visitor, holidays, tourist, hobbies, attending workshops, readings, festivals…) Their essays explore this connection free from any need to interpret, analyse or seek the deeper meaning beneath the surface experience of particular events. The variety of subject matter and style of writing is amazing as well as entertaining. There is a cross section of past and present writers associated with Mordialloc Writers’ Group and although all pieces are creative non-fiction, there is also haiku and free verse.

Anthology Number 4 – Eleven o Four – 12 writers:

Eleven O Four
Eleven O Four

Our anthologies have always included poetry and prose, but also articles or memoir. They reflect the community’s history as well as being a record of the times in which we live. There are always new writers who have never been published as well as accomplished authors. Our group prides itself in providing a means for every voice to be heard.

Anthology Number 5 – A Rich Inheritance – 20 writers:

A Rich Inheritance
A Rich Inheritance

Our oldest contributor, Frank Jones is almost 90 and he writes about coming to Mordialloc in the 1950s, our youngest contributor is in her 30s and first time published. She writes about coping with motherhood and how the Maternal & Infant Welfare Services helped her. There are essays about the Eisteddfod, the Town Hall, the Farmers’ Market, U3A, football teams and schools. One of our writer’s has a disability, but she explains what it was like when Patterson Lakes was formed and how improvements make it a desirable location to indulge her love of swimming and bush walking.

Anthology Number 6 – Scandalous Bayside – 20 writers:

Scandalous Bayside
Scandalous Bayside

We are the oldest established writers’ group in Kingston and as such represent a cross section of the community as well as keeping a literary tradition alive. To demonstrate the importance of the written word and to celebrate our language it is important there are examples of the work of local writers for future generations to read.

Many of the writers have published individual work, but it is valuable for the community to see a collection of local writing and appreciate the richness of the literary arts in Kingston. We thank the City of Kingston for giving us grants to help towards the printing costs of our anthologies and appreciating Mordialloc Writers’ contribution to the Arts in Kingston.

Anthology Number 7 – Carnival Caper – 23 writers:

Carnival Caper
Carnival Caper

We will produce an E-book (yes, we are embracing the digital age)  as well as  traditional printed books. The launch, on November 14 at the Allan McLean Hall in Mordialloc will celebrate our 20 years and allow the public to meet the writers and perhaps encourage others to join. We always have a spike in membership after a book launch and it is a good way of raising our profile.

We pride ourselves in making sure each anthology improves on the one before and readers can see the progression, hear from new writers, appreciate the improvement of the craft in longtime members and read work that reflects the community, a range of abilities, skills, and topics. We are a community writing group with a high standard, however, the writing varies from popular genres to more academic pieces.

We decided on using the personal essay style this time, but one submission is in haiku.  We are celebrating as well as promoting a literary tradition and although several of our writers have a language other than English, our anthologies focus on the richness, flexibility, and vibrancy of the English language.

Anthology Number 8 – Off the Rails – 21 writers:

Off The Rails
Off The Rails

Many people have touched our lives and we theirs. Writing is a solitary task, but it is important to stay connected with others and a writing group provides that safe nurturing environment. Camaraderie and mentoring, socialising and networking, improving skills, generating ideas, receiving positive feedback and having fun. Lifelong friendships have been formed and through the public readings, we host people from outside Kingston too. Readings By The Bay enables links with other writing groups such as Bayside Poets, Mornington Writers, Henry Lawson Society, Melbourne Poets et al.

Our creative writing group offers a sense of community, and within this community exists an environment that is not only pleasant but conducive to achieving publication – and to be read and appreciated is the aim of most writers. With new writers in our up-and-coming anthology, we will have helped 65 individual authors see their name in print.

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Watch this space for more information closer to our launch date, but please join us on Saturday afternoon on November 14th, 2015 and help make our twentieth anniversary celebrations a day of happy memories!

And remember – please support local writers – wherever they may be!