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Uncuddly but crucial: the overlooked species needing our help this World Environment Day
Uncuddly but crucial: the overlooked species needing our help this World Environment Day

05 June 2024, 3:21 AM

Australia's less glamorous animals, often referred to as “uncuddlies” like reptiles, fish, and insects, are driving a rapid increase in the number of threatened species. This World Environment Day - 5 June - Australians are encouraged to show these often-overlooked creatures some much-needed love and attention.The latest Australia en Danger report from Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), in collaboration with public affairs analysts Provocate®, highlights the critical need for action. CVA Executive Manager of Policy and Government Relations, Stephen McDonald, emphasised that threatened “uncuddlies” have grown at twice the average rate of threatened animals overall, increasing by 16% in just the past two years."Critically endangered reptiles and fish, which are on the brink of extinction, have seen alarming increases of 136% and 178%, respectively, since the Albanese Government launched its Federal Threatened Species Action Plan," Mr McDonald stated.Politicians often use charismatic animals like koalas to make a point on days like World Environment Day. However, while it may not be desirable - or safe - to cuddle a snake, skink, or snail, these findings show that Australia’s threatened "uncuddlies" urgently need support and protection. This is especially crucial in urban areas, where nearly half of the threatened species now reside. Simple actions, such as creating a one-by-one meter habitat in your backyard or balcony, can make a significant difference.Mr McDonald stressed that widespread community action is vital to prevent these species from disappearing entirely. He urged Australians to visit Conservation Volunteers Australia to sign up for nature repair and resilience events, download CVA’s community app, or make a donation."Australia has lost tens of thousands of conservation volunteers and tens of millions of dollars in Federal funding over the same period that our threatened species numbers have skyrocketed," said Mr McDonald. "This includes the Albanese Government's decision to cut the nation's mud army for wildlife and their habitats, despite many of these threatened species being affected by the Black Summer Bushfires."Alarming Statistics Since the Albanese Government's Threatened Species Action Plan (October 2022):Threatened reptiles (+35%; +23 species), fish (+30%; +19 species), and invertebrates (+39%; +28 species) have all grown at twice the average net increase in threatened animal species overall (+16%; +92 species).These increases are 26, 13, and 9 times higher, respectively, than the average growth under the previous Coalition government's nine years in office.In contrast, there has been a 0% increase in mammals, a 9% increase in birds, and a 14% increase in other species.Critically endangered fish and reptiles have seen near tripling (+178%) and more than doubling (+136%) of their numbers, compared to a 46% overall increase in critically-endangered species.Despite these severe increases, there has been no rise in the number of 'priority' threatened species classifications under the Threatened Species Action Plan, which are crucial for accessing government grants.Out of the 110 'priority' species in the current Action Plan, only 11 are reptiles, 11 are invertebrates, and 9 are fish.The Federal Government’s 2024-25 Budget did not include any new plans or 'Saving Native Species' funding and confirmed that the $90 million Landcare Rangers election commitment has been quietly shelved.The Albanese Government has also discontinued the nation's marine litter and environmental disaster volunteering programs, previously managed by CVA, which had over 25,000 volunteers, with no replacements in place.Proposed reforms to conservation laws have also been shelved by the Albanese Government.This World Environment Day let’s remember that every species, no matter how "uncuddly," plays a vital role in our ecosystem. By acting now, we can help ensure their survival for future generations.

Restoring Minnamurra: Kiama Council's initiative for World Environment Day 2024
Restoring Minnamurra: Kiama Council's initiative for World Environment Day 2024

05 June 2024, 3:04 AM

On World Environment Day, June 5, Kiama Council is pleased to announce the securing of NSW Government funding for restoration efforts around the Minnamurra Waste and Recycling Facility. This initiative aims to enhance environmental sustainability and preserve the local ecosystem.Although the landfill site was decommissioned in 2008, the facility continues to offer green waste and recycling services. Effective weed management is essential for maintaining these operations under the environmental conditions mandated by regulatory bodies.The restoration project, with a budget of $40,000 - split evenly between the NSW Government’s Coastal and Estuary Grants program and Council funds - will launch a comprehensive weed control and bush restoration effort. This three-year program targets the rehabilitation of surrounding coastal wetlands, including Swamp Oak Flood Plain Forest, Bangalay Sand Forest, and Coastal Salt Marsh, all classified as Endangered Ecological Communities.The initiative will significantly curtail the prevalence of invasive species such as Lantana, Asparagus fern, and Madeira vine, all recognized as Weeds of National Significance. Initial efforts will focus on the southern area adjacent to the Minnamurra River, eventually expanding to the eastern and northern boundaries.The project encompasses thorough risk assessments for local flora and fauna, implementing strict environmental safeguards to minimise potential impacts. The overarching goal is to reduce weed coverage to a manageable level within three years, ensuring long-term sustainability.In addition to enhancing local wetland areas, the project complements ongoing restoration efforts by Minnamurra Landcare at Carson Place. The Minnamurra River estuary, noted for its significant mangrove habitats and Endangered Ecological Communities, stands to benefit greatly. As a celebrated tourist and recreation spot, the estuary's restoration will also support activities such as the iconic Kiama Coast Walk and popular water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding.By investing in these environmental initiatives, Kiama Council underscores its commitment to preserving natural habitats and fostering a sustainable future for the region.

Waste management made fun at Shellharbour
Waste management made fun at Shellharbour

05 June 2024, 2:53 AM

Have you noticed the vibrant new garbage trucks cruising through Shellharbour? Shellharbour City Council (SCC) has introduced a parade of vibrant murals on their fleet, transforming the mundane task of waste collection into an engaging visual experience. These eye-catching trucks, featuring coffee cups shredding on skateboards, nature-loving avocados, and chatty pizza boxes, make sorting waste an unexpectedly fun activity.SCC is excited to officially launch its latest initiative, "Waste: Let's Get it Sorted!" This colourful campaign aims to educate the community about waste management, promote sustainable habits, and inspire lasting change in how residents handle their waste.To bring this vision to life, SCC partnered with street artist and digital illustrator ‘Happy Decay’. Together, they have created a series of lively characters that practically leap off the trucks and into the hearts of the community. Each mural is designed not only to capture attention but also to help residents easily identify kerbside waste streams, including FOGO, recycling, and general waste.Bjarni Wark, the artist behind Happy Decay, shared his enthusiasm for the project: "This was such a fun project, helping to educate and create a positive awareness around waste through art,” he said.Bjarni Wark, the artist behind Happy Decay.“I hope the murals make these trucks a pleasure to see coming up the street.” “The idea is that by sorting our waste more effectively, we get to live in a cleaner environment. Hopefully, in time, people will start to recognise these friendly characters and associate them with the correct bin they belong in, in a positive way."The murals debuted on the city's waste trucks earlier this year. Beyond the trucks, these lively designs will feature in printed signs and animated videos, becoming a central part of waste-related materials citywide. This broad integration is intended to foster intrigue and strengthen brand recognition.Shellharbour City Mayor Chris Homer praised the initiative: "Our new waste education campaign not only brightens up our streets with fantastic artwork but also plays a crucial role in educating our community about proper waste management,” he said. “By making waste fun and engaging, we're fostering a culture of sustainability that will benefit Shellharbour for years to come."With this innovative approach, SCC is not only beautifying the city but also instilling sustainable practices in a fun and memorable way.

 Marine Rescue NSW urges boaters to plan, prepare and be vigilant on the water this King’s Birthday long weekend
Marine Rescue NSW urges boaters to plan, prepare and be vigilant on the water this King’s Birthday long weekend

05 June 2024, 1:00 AM

More than 3,400 Marine Rescue NSW volunteers are ready to respond to boaters needing assistance across the state this King’s Birthday long weekend.Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Alex Barrell said if conditions allow he expects large numbers of boaters to hit the water over the long weekend.“We are urging all boaters to plan and prepare before heading out on the state’s waterways this June long weekend.“Check the weather forecast before departure and continue monitoring because if conditions change rapidly you could end up in a life-threatening situation.“If you haven’t taken your vessel out recently, check the engine and battery, make sure you have fresh fuel and plenty in reserve along with the correct safety equipment.“We ask all boaters to be safe, vigilant and respectful on the water, enjoy the voyage and most importantly return home safe,” he said.Marine Rescue NSW volunteers completed 90 search and rescue missions during last year’s King’s Birthday long weekend, safely returning 205 people to shore.“The pleasing thing about boating behaviour during last year’s long weekend was that more than 2,100 vessels Logged On with Marine Rescue NSW ensuring our dedicated volunteers kept watch for their safe return,” Commissioner Barrell said.“We are encouraging all boaters to make Logging On part of their pre-launch behaviour either via the free Marine Rescue NSW app or VHF channel 16, it only takes a minute to protect a lifetime,” he said.Marine Rescue NSW recently received confirmation from Buckingham Palace that His Majesty King Charles III graciously retained the Patronage of Marine Rescue NSW.“His Majesty’s commitment maintains the link between Marine Rescue NSW and the Royal Family,” Commissioner Barrell said.“His Majesty's Patronage dates back to the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol, whose members became an integral part of Marine Rescue NSW,” he said.Marine Rescue NSW is a volunteer based not-for-profit professional organisation dedicated to keeping boaters safe on the water and supporting local communities.

Review: ‘The End of the Morning’ by Charmian Clift, edited by Nadia Wheatley
Review: ‘The End of the Morning’ by Charmian Clift, edited by Nadia Wheatley

05 June 2024, 12:00 AM

Over 100 Charmian Clift fans gathered at the Kiama Library on Saturday 1 June 2024, to hear Nadia Wheatley, discuss her new work “The End of the Morning”, the final and unfinished autobiographical novel by Charmian Clift. It is the book that Clift herself regarded as her most significant work. Although the author did not live to complete it, the typescript left among her papers was fully revised and stands alone as a novella. It is published alongside a new selection of Clift’s essays and an afterword from her biographer Nadia Wheatley.Wheatley is Clift's long-time advocate, and champion of both the work and the woman. She informs that Clift had produced this wonderful volume about a girl called Cressida Morley, who has appeared already in “My Brother Jack”. Kiama Library and Cultural Hubs Manager Michelle Hudson said, “The event sold out within a week and the community is always very supportive of all the Charmian Clift events we run.”When asked about the appetite for the new book Ms Hudson said, “Everyone was excited about this new book of essays and Nadia’s presentation explored Charmian’s Kiama through a series of old photos and readings from her essays.”“The main theme of the comments was that this new book will highlight Charmian’s writing again and hopefully many other readers will get enjoyment from her work.”There is both joy and sadness in reading Charmian Clift's unfinished novel, The End of the Morning, published some 55 years after her death. Clift writes, “In those days the end of the morning was always marked by the quarry whistle blowing the noon knock-off. Since everybody was out of bed very early, morning then was a long time, or even, if you came to think about it, a round time - symmetrical anyway, and contained under a thin, radiant, dome shaped cover...”Speaking about her character Cressida in The End of the Morning, Clift reveals, “I invented her first and her eccentric family who live in a weatherboard cottage on the edge of a beach. It is a book about young dreams and young longings and filled with sand and sea and sun and wind and seaweed draped on the front picket fence after a storm.”  And of course, we all know that front picket fence and weatherboard cottage are in Kiama - Clift’s hometown.During the years of the Great Depression, the Morley family were outsiders in their small working-class community. They rant and argue and read books and play music and never feel themselves to be poor. Yet as Cressida moves beyond childhood, she starts to outgrow the place that once seemed the centre of the world. As she plans her escape, the only question is: who will she become?Sydney writer, Fiona Wright, has said, “’The End of the Morning’ is full of feeling, animated by that formless, aching questioning of childhood, and a fascinating glimpse of the forces that shaped Clift as a person and a writer.” Peter Craven, Sydney Morning Herald journalist says, “Reading her, even a glimpsed paragraph of her, is like quaffing the finest champagne on earth.”Author Richard Cotter says, “'Forthright, funny and with an indefinable flair, Charmian Clift's writing plays second fiddle to nobody”.Charmian Clift was born in Kiama, on 31 August 1923. After serving as a lieutenant in the Australian Army, she joined the staff of the Melbourne Argus newspaper, and in 1947 married fellow journalist George Johnston. Clift wrote the memoirs ‘Mermaid Singing’ and ‘Peel Me A Lotus’, her two novels, ‘Honour’s Mimic’ and ‘Walk to the Paradise Gardens’, and, for several years, a popular weekly column that appeared in the Melbourne Herald and the Sydney Morning Herald. Charmian Clift died in 1969.Nadia Wheatley is the editor of ‘Sneaky Little Revolutions: Selected essays of Charmian Clift’, and author of ‘The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift’. Described by critic Peter Craven as ‘one of the greatest Australian biographies’, this was the Age Non-Fiction Book of the Year, 2001, and won the NSW Premier’s Australian History Prize (2002). After 20 years it remains the classic account of the life and work of this transformational Australian writer.

Action needed for Council to meet Minns housing target
Action needed for Council to meet Minns housing target

04 June 2024, 4:34 AM

Kiama Council reckons it has 500-600 potential building sites on its books and will meet the target of 900 homes to be built by 2029, even with the Boral Quarry site a non-starter.The Minns government has directed councils to lay the administrative foundations for 377,000 new residences across the state, as part of the National Housing Accord.A council statement says the target will be met through residential zoned land and greenfield sites.“Approximately 500-600 lots are already provided through existing zoned greenfield sites located at South Kiama, Jamberoo, Kiama Heights and other infill sites, which have been identified for some time in Council’s Long Term Strategic Plan,” the statement says.“It is expected that the Housing and Growth Strategy will speak to both the five-year targets set for Kiama Municipality by the NSW Government and also outline options for future growth areas beyond 2029.”Councils will receive $1 billion over 10 years to provide infrastructure.That still leaves about 300 residences to be built.The Bugle reported in April that council had knocked back Traders in Purple’s proposal to build 1000 homes at Springside Hill, of which about 100 were for social housing and local workers.Kiama Council said the development proposal didn’t conform to its Housing and Growth strategy and the ‘Cows not Concrete’ action group garnered 642 signatures from locals and day trippers last summer, which nipped the proposal in the bud.Plans for housing growth. In Kiama the concept of planned development means projected(Credit NSW Government)Council wants the community to discuss prospective areas for development such as the Bombo Quarry, South Kiama, Spring Creek and Dido Street but the clock is ticking as the new residences must be built by 2029.The growth in residences in the state government graphic above includes the ‘potential’ to build more than 440 residences on residential land on the South Kiama site, between Weir Street and Saddleback Mountain Road.It also includes the 67 dwellings in Dido Street in Kiama, which is before the Southern Regional Planning Panel for approval. In February, council rejected the $31m development proposal due to fears of flooding.There are also plans to build 82 residential units at Akuna Street and about another 40 or so apartments in Gerringong.None of these proposals have gained final council approval.As intergenerational tension rises, young people, single mums and dads, and renters are struggling to find a place to live.The local ‘Pashmina Boomers’, living on ground pegged by developers, have consistently rejected the construction of new houses near them and have become militant environmentalists, with a fervour that would make an Extinction Rebellion organiser proud.Bombo Quarry will take five to eight years to remediateThere is local support to remediate the 46-hectare Bombo quarry but there are two major problems:Boral stopped its quarry mining operations in 2014 but Transport NSW is still using the site.A Boral status report says it would take between five to eight years (my italics) and 4.5 million cubic metres of infill, to make the site ready for construction.Mayor Neil Reilly said on Kiama Community Radio recently the site had the potential for 3000 houses.A masterplan for Bombo quarry submitted to Kiama Council in 2017 by urban designer Steve Thorne.“Anything we do in that area is going to be a vast improvement. I have a mayoral minute which will seek from the land owners, Boral and Transport NSW, to plot the future with us.”Boral is working with the state government and council to move the development of the Bombo Quarry site along.“We have significantly progressed the pre-works required for a rezoning. We see our development contributing to the 5-year housing targets recently released by the NSW Government,” a Boral spokesperson said.While there may be considerable benefits building 900 residences in the LGA, how many of those will never be bought by investors who litter the area with Airbnb’s?

Celebrating ‘Hidden Treasures’ during National Volunteer Week
Celebrating ‘Hidden Treasures’ during National Volunteer Week

04 June 2024, 3:16 AM

On May 23, 2024, the Rural Women's Network hosted a significant event in Wagga Wagga, NSW, to celebrate National Volunteer Week. This event honoured the remarkable women who volunteer in regional and rural NSW and marked the launch of the Hidden Treasures Honour Roll 2023.The "Hidden Treasures" initiative acknowledges the vital volunteer roles women play within NSW's regional, rural, and remote communities. It serves as a public tribute to express gratitude to the countless women who dedicate their time and energy to helping others.Women are nominated by peers, friends, or their volunteer organisations to be included on the digital honour roll. Hidden Treasures is an inclusive program where all nominees who meet the eligibility criteria are honoured. Since its inception in 2010, Hidden Treasures has recognised 1,116 women volunteering across regional, rural, and remote NSW.A 2010 inaugural inductee, Lynne Strong, who attended the event informed, “The Honourable Jodie Harrison highlighted the immense contributions of volunteers: nearly 900 million hours of service each year, which equates to about 17 and a half hours per month per volunteer. The replacement cost of this volunteering effort is estimated to be $39.7 billion—equivalent to hiring the entire NSW Public Service twice!”During National Volunteer Week, three exemplary women were celebrated for their extraordinary contributions to their communities through the Hidden Treasures Honour Roll.Diane McParland - Diane's journey of community service began when she married into a farming family in Jamberoo and later managed her own dairy farm. Her commitment evolved from agricultural duties to civic engagement. Diane played a crucial role in founding the South Coast & Tablelands Women in Dairy group and organising its inaugural conference, profoundly impacting the dairy community.Her volunteerism extends to the Albion Park Show Society, where she has managed numerous facets, including stewarding sections at the annual show and organising the Young Woman and Junior Girls competitions. Diane has been instrumental in encouraging participation in The Land Showgirl, now the Young Woman competition, mentoring young women and helping them succeed at various levels, including the prestigious Sydney Royal. Her efforts have led many mentees to join the show committee or become ambassadors, fostering youth involvement in agriculture.Additionally, Diane has researched and documented the society's history, contributing to an "Honour Roll" that preserves community heritage. Her volunteer work extends to local church activities and catering for the Dapto Poultry Club, marking her as a cornerstone of local volunteer efforts.Diane reflects on her motivation: "Being a volunteer to me means doing whatever I can to help others. It is rewarding to see what your help has provided, whether it be confidence, advancing skills, or seeing a happy face when goals are achieved. A personal highlight was being awarded life membership of the Albion Park Show in 2012 and receiving the Royal Agricultural Society award for my services in 2024."Vivienne Marris - Vivienne's commitment to the Jamberoo community began after relocating from Hobart. Her extensive volunteer work spans sports coaching, managing community events, and leadership roles in the Jamberoo Valley Ratepayers and Residents Association, where she has been instrumental in voicing community needs and concerns.Vivienne's organisational skills shine as the market organiser for the Jamberoo Village Markets, supporting local artisans and growers. Her involvement with the Jamberoo Red Cross, the Country Women’s Association, and various local sports associations underscores her wide-reaching impact on fostering community spirit.Recognised as the Kiama Citizen of the Year in 2018, Vivienne's contributions have significantly enhanced local events like the Christmas Giving Tree and annual garden club activities."Volunteering offers me the opportunity to give back, so lives can get better and encourage the recipients to believe others care. Volunteering is all about the receiver, not the giver," says Vivienne.She adds, "Organising the Giving Tree for Christmas for nearly 25 years has been a highlight. We receive over 400 gifts each year, and watching families with small children bring presents in to give to others less fortunate continues to make me smile."Barbara Adams - Barbara's life as a community volunteer began in Port Kembla, where she actively engaged in local initiatives. Her volunteer journey started with the P&C at Kemblawarra Public School, earning her a life membership for her dedication.After moving to Jamberoo, Barbara's commitment extended to the local school and the Red Cross, where she served as president, leading to a flourishing membership. For 14 years, she served as secretary and treasurer of the Jamberoo Football Club and organised numerous community events, including the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal and Jamberoo Australia Day celebrations. Barbara's passion is evident in the community's Christmas lights tradition, which she has passionately maintained.In 2015, Barbara received The John Fries Memorial Award for her work with the Red Cross. Her efforts have earned numerous accolades for the Jamberoo Red Cross's fundraising success.Reflecting on her work, Barbara says, "I became a volunteer for the Red Cross when I saw the need with the members getting older. I enjoy helping others, whether raising money, making Trauma Teddies, or simply being present in the community."Barbara was honoured as the Kiama Citizen of the Year in 2022 and received the Kiama Electorate Woman of the Year award in 2024. Her unwavering commitment to volunteerism serves as an inspiration to all aspiring to make a difference in their communities.Acknowledgment: The Bugle extends gratitude to Lynne Strong, Communication Strategist and Director of Ecosystem Development in Jamberoo, for providing this rich information on these inspirational women.

Nominations open for the Local Government Awards 2024
Nominations open for the Local Government Awards 2024

04 June 2024, 2:13 AM

The awards will be presented at a ceremony on Tuesday 30 July. Nominations are now open for Kiama's 2024 Local Government Awards.Mayor Neil Reilly has officially opened nominations for the Kiama Council’s Local Government Awards 2024, aimed at recognising the individuals who make significant contributions to our community.Cr Reilly highlighted that the Local Government Awards serve as an annual platform to honour the impactful efforts of people in our municipality, regardless of the scale of their contributions."We're using Local Government Week (29 July – 4 August) to celebrate our community, the Municipality of Kiama, the place we live, work, and play," Cr Reilly said."Our municipality has been evolving since 1859, and that's a legacy worth celebrating.""This year, we're focusing on the diverse ways people contribute to our 'social fabric'," he added.Cr Reilly noted that the awards will be presented during Local Government Week, coinciding with the municipality's founding anniversary."In the past, we've distributed various community awards at different times of the year," he said. "Now, we've consolidated them into a single event to truly celebrate our community and the people who make it what it is – the best place on earth."The Local Government Awards 2024 will be presented in the following categories:- Citizen of the Year Award- Young Citizen of the Year Award- Senior Citizen of the Year Award- Community Group of the Year Award- Sports Honour Roll- Arts Honour Roll- Sports Achievement Awards – sports person, young sports person, and sports volunteer- Megan Dalley Award- Robert East AwardFurther details about each award, including selection criteria and online nomination forms, are available on the Kiama Council’s website:[Kiama Council Local Government Awards](www.kiama.nsw.gov.au/Council/Awards/Local-Government-Awards)Nominations close at 5 pm on Sunday, 30 June 2024.The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday, 30 July.

Interior Motives: Colour drenching on the South Coast
Interior Motives: Colour drenching on the South Coast

04 June 2024, 12:00 AM

As a South Coast based interior decorator, I have always got my eyes open for new ways to bring the rich hues of the region’s colours into our homes. Enter ‘Colour Drenching’, a very 2024 term for painting all surfaces in a room the same colour.  I’m talking walls, skirting and frames, doors and woodwork, cornices and ceilings. The results are impactful and non-negotiable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it feels like too much if you choose a colour you truly love. Take your cues from our area for a result that connects your home to its location. The emerald greens of Gerringong’s rolling hills or the bushy greens of Kangaroo Valley, the lavender haze of a distant mountain, blues of the ocean, golden sands of the coastline – you get the idea. There is no need to limit yourself to your street address, think about the colours of what you love across our whole region.Another element to consider is colour psychology. Theoretically at least, blues are calming and can carry away your worries. Reds are warm and can feel like a big hug. Neutrals rest the eyes. Yellows can make you feel happy (or ill, depending on your feelings about yellow).Be aware that the same colour applied throughout a room will still have variation, so it is rare that the effect will be box-like. Flat ceiling paint will absorb the light making it appear lighter, whilst low sheen and semi gloss paints can look darker depending on how much light they reflect. The easiest thing about colour drenching is that it is guaranteed the room will look fresh and contemporary, no matter which colour direction you choose. Asha ArdillSouth Coast ColourVisit the website here:https://www.southcoastcolour.com.au/Check out Asha's profile here:https://www.southcoastcolour.com.au/team-item/asha-ardill/

Kiama optometrist set to retire
Kiama optometrist set to retire

03 June 2024, 11:00 PM

Kiama optometrist Joan Comber has been helping the community see clearly for more than 40 years. Joan’s business first opened in Edessa Arcade in 1977 before moving into Kiama Centrepoint in 1983. She remains a loyal tenant and was one of the first businesses to move into the centre, which holds many cherished memories for her and her family. Joan’s youngest son, Clayton, learned to walk in Centrepoint’s arcade and played on the floor of her optometry workshop. In a lovely twist of fate, Clayton now runs a cafe and bookshop, Bouquiniste, out of the same space. “I think it's wonderful that things have come full circle,” says Joan. “Clayton finds it quite ironic that all these years have gone by and he's now working in the shop he played in when he was a toddler.”When Joan reflects on her own career of almost five decades, she marvels at how far she has come. Born in Malaysia, Joan and her family emigrated to Australia after her older brother moved here to study engineering.“He told my Mum and Dad he had no intention of coming home, so we all followed him here,”  said Joan, who planned to study medicine. She got the required marks, but six years of university was not financially feasible. So she “played it safe” and started a science degree but found it “quite frustrating”. “There were thousands of us, and it was quite overwhelming,” she says. “So, a friend suggested optometry.” It was 1969 and the class was a small one, with just 11 students. “Our year was quite unusual at the time because 50 per cent of our group was female,” recalls Joan. After graduating in 1973, Joan began her career in Sydney before moving to the South Coast with her husband Arthur in 1976, where she took over the Warrawong Gibb & Beeman franchise. Joan had no intention of opening a second optometry store, but working for a large optical retailer had its challenges. When the opportunity to own an independent optometry business in Kiama came up, Joan took it, as it gave her the chance to provide a more personalised service. "Kiama was always going to be a part-time practice because I was already a franchise owner in Warrawong," says Joan. However, her business was quickly embraced by the Kiama community and, a year after it opened, Arthur quit his job in Sydney to work in the store as an optical mechanic, building, fixing and dispensing glasses.“Arthur was a very practical hands-on person,” explains Joan. “When he was still working in Sydney, I was sending out my jobs to be done to another contractor. It was great to have him come on board and do the practical part of the optics.”Optometry became a family affair. Joan’s sister moved to Australia from England in the late 1970s to help with the day-to-day running of the business. By 2006, Joan decided to focus solely on the Kiama store, with the help of her sister and Arthur."My sister still comes in to help me on a voluntary basis sending out appointment reminders, which I don't really get the time to do,” says Joan. Arthur continued to work alongside Joan until his passing in 2018. She admits it was “difficult to continue without Arthur by her side”, and was grateful when Clayton stepped in to help.  “Clayton grew up watching, then helping Arthur when he was doing the mechanics,” says Joan. “I’m very thankful he continues to do what his Dad used to do for me, as well as running Bouquiniste.”As an independent optometrist, Joan prides herself on making and dispensing glasses with Clayton’s help. She admits dispensing is a dying artform, with big franchises like OPSM and Specsavers sending glasses away to external contractors. “Not many places offer optometry as well as dispensing,” says Joan. “Along with bulk-billing, it's a service I am very grateful to still be able to provide, and the community of Kiama seem to really appreciate that. Clayton has been known to make up glasses and deliver them directly to customers.”Joan credits her loyal customers and a sense of community for keeping her in business for so long. "I still have a passion to do optometry,” she says. “I think it's great to meet all sorts of people and help them with their visual problems. I have built some beautiful friendships over the many years of looking after customers. I have seen things come full circle; people I tested as children have now grown up and bring their children to me. It's quite rewarding in that sense.”Joan says retirement is on the cards, but she won’t be putting her feet up anytime soon.“When I first started working as an optometrist, I thought my retirement age would be 45," chuckles Joan. Whatever the future holds, there is no question that Joan will remain a stalwart of the Kiama community. Each year, from 1984 until 2016 when Arthur became unwell, the family would host an annual Christmas lunch for the community at Kiama Leagues Club.“Clayton and my older son Brendon would entertain those who attended and play the golden oldies for us," laughs Joan. Brendon now owns a sound and lighting company and works part-time at the Kiama Leagues Club as an entertainment manager. Clayton is also a DJ when he finds time between working at Bouquiniste and Joan’s optometry business.“Growing up in Kiama, Clayton and Brendon used to be known around town as Joan and Arthur's sons,” says Joan. “Now the tables have turned and I'm Brendon and Clayton's Mum! It's funny how history works, but I am very proud that they are such an important part of the community. They love Kiama, as do I.”

Adventures cruising on the Mekong in Laos
Adventures cruising on the Mekong in Laos

03 June 2024, 12:00 AM

Some years ago now my friends and I had quite an adventure in Laos. We survived our first misadventure in Luang Prabang, and decided to stay put for a while and just soak in the atmosphere. However, our plans changed when we noticed the cruise boats drifting up and down the river. They appeared to have dining decks where tourists were attended to by waiters. Eager for some comfort and luxury, we decided to give it a try.The following morning, John went to the ticket 'offices' on the shoreline and managed to purchase some tickets despite the language barrier. I was surprised at how cheap they were, but it wouldn’t be long before I found out why. We arrived at a longtail boat, about 10 metres long with a tiny cabin, assuming it would take us to a larger cruise boat. Instead, they advised us to get some lunch and enough water for the day. This was confusing, as the entire purpose was to dine in splendour. Four other travellers shared our assumption and were equally shocked when they realised that this small boat was our cruise.Six passengers and two crew had this small boat loaded with the water up to the gunnels. The seating consisted of the boat’s ribs, not even a plank of wood to form the actual seat. I felt a sinking feeling as we set off upstream. When we encountered grade three to four rapids, the driver would full-throttle the ancient engine to propel us across the rough sections, everyone sighing with relief as we made it into calmer waters.On one occasion, the engine failed, and we floundered onto a nearby beach. While the crew worked on the engine, I found a clump of bushes to relieve myself and, more importantly, grabbed a three-foot piece of giant bamboo to use as a makeshift life buoy if needed.Once we had passed the rapids and felt relaxed enough to look around, the sights were stunning: steep cliffs with caves enclosing ancient Buddha statues, dwellings on stilts over the river, villages with wooden buildings, and hordes of naked kids running and splashing.Our destination was a very primitive village in the upper reaches of the tributary. Exhausted, stiff, and sore, we didn't complain about the dilapidated overnight accommodations, but I lost my appetite when I saw the kebabs: rats, bats, giant spiders on sticks. We settled for the ubiquitous noodles.The next morning, we were told to board the boat for the return trip. I flatly refused and opted for the 'bus,' an antiquated utility vehicle with a canvas cover on the back. It was to be a three-hour journey with local women going to market. Among the usual array of wares and animals, I noticed under my legs a large section of bamboo with breath holes, from which emerged the longest, hairiest black legs I had ever seen - a giant bird-eating spider. Stifling a scream, I climbed out the back and spent the rest of the journey standing on the rear bumper bar. So much for our luxury cruise!Rest assured; this was in 2005. The destination has since changed dramatically - the five-star hotels have arrived. However, I loved Laos in its raw, innocent, and authentic state. I left in awe of the resilience of their ancient culture, religion, and traditions that remain indestructible despite occupying forces that failed to make a dent. Their spirit runs strong and eternal, like the river Mekong.

Politics, Profit and a Whale of a Dilemma: A long-form essay
Politics, Profit and a Whale of a Dilemma: A long-form essay

02 June 2024, 6:26 AM

The whale watching season has begun, a ripple of excitement moving up the coast as enthusiasts perch on headlands and promontories to watch and record one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.The migration up and down the East Coast of Australia extends from May to November as the behemoths travel up from the Antarctic to their breeding grounds off the Queensland coast, and then follow a similar route back with their new born calves.The hunting of whales began almost immediately after the European settlement. The export of whale oil was a major export industry during the 1800s, slowly dwindling in the 1900s as humpbacks were hunted almost to the edge of extinction. After years of impassioned activism by environmentalists, their killing was outlawed in Australia in 1978. Their numbers were variously estimated to have crashed to as low as 250 individuals, and have now dramatically recovered, with current estimates placing their population at around 40,000. They are believed to be increasing in number by about 10 percent each year.At up to 10,000 kilometres, the whale migration route is one of the longest animal migrations in the world. Having evolved from land mammals that lived in warm salty waters about 55 million years ago, their migration patterns developed to such a length as the animals became separated from their seasonal food sources.Manager of cruise operators Shellharbour Wild and Jervis Bay Wild, Bethany Vidler, said their tours have just begun. Tour groups mainly operate out of Jervis Bay, while most of the clientele out of Shellharbour are locals. “I think the fascination is just the pure size of the whales, and the breaches, and spy hop, where they poke their heads out of the water basically to look around, what they can do for the pure size of them.” “Especially on the long weekends, we get a lot of people from Canberra and Sydney come down to see the whales.” “They follow currents. If the currents are close into shore, they come in.”These majestic, ancient, highly intelligent animals, the subject of myth and legend across multiple human cultures, provoke both deep affection and awe in the Australian public. There are those who think they can hear them in their dreams, as these giant animals, believed to be some of the most intelligent on Earth, pass us by.  Keen whale watchers, cameras in hand, have already begun appearing at various viewing sites, including at the Kiama Blowhole, Minnamurra, Bass Point, Bushrangers Bay and Bald Hill at Stanwell Tops. Anthony Crampton, 76, a retired fisherman known as a “whale tragic” and highly respected amongst the whale watching community, has been out on the headlands photographing the whales virtually every day during the season since 2011.He says he is at a loss to explain his obsession. “They are just magical,” he says. “It is their effort to survive. There’s thousands of people right up the coast watching for them, all crazies like me.” “There have been sightings over the last three weeks, just one or two, but it wasn’t until a few days ago they fired up in real numbers. I sight them here, and it alerts people further north if I post the pictures and they can work out when they are going to see them.”“All the whale watchers, I would love to say, are all nutters. We are looking at something so special. It is a class of its own. Enjoy it while you can.”Keen whale watchers, cameras in hand, have already begun appearing at various viewing sites. Photo credit: Anthony Crampton.This year, the much-loved whales face their most serious threat since the suspension of hunting. The proposal to put hundreds of wind turbines off the South Coast has provoked furious controversy, and widespread concern about the future of the whale migration.Despite thousands of hostile submissions from residents, an official declaration from the Albanese government of the South Coast as a designated Offshore Wind Zone is expected any day now, the next step in the process. Last August, at an Illawarra Clean Energy Summit, Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen announced a formal public consultation period on the proposed Illawarra Offshore Wind Zone, an area covering 1461 square kilometres.“Australia is the world's largest island, without any offshore wind,” he said. “We lag the rest of the world, which has been developing this industry for years. This is something our Government has been working fast to fix.” “Offshore wind can help with energy security and resilience due to its power capacity and availability at times when solar power and onshore wind are not available. How we transition is vital, bringing people together and bringing them along on this journey.”What followed was a public relations disaster, and Bowen made far more enemies than friends. The government held information sessions, so-called “community drop-ins,” from Bulli down to Wollongong, Port Kembla, Shellharbour, Kiama and Gerringong. The sessions did little but stir hostility. Residents, expecting to attend town hall-style meetings, were instead given a bureaucratic brushoff. Consultation was in name only. Being handed leaflets by public servants provoked a visceral response from many people concerned about the destruction of their coastline.  As part of the community resistance, in a feat of local organisation, a number of intense and well-attended protest meetings were held.Here are some random comments from those meetings to illustrate the mood:“I have voted Labor for 45 years. I will never vote for them again.”“They are already putting out tenders. How disgusting is that! If we stand together we can really make a difference.”“No one knows about it. We have spoken to neighbours and friends, they had no idea.”“Everyone loves to see the whales. I was out there fishing, and one came right up next to me. This is the peak of the whale migration off the coast. We see them all the time.”“People have not been consulted. All the locals were expecting an open forum, a presentation and an opportunity to ask questions, none of which has happened. There are a lot of concerns about the marine life, and that no studies or research have been done.”“The government has no intention of listening to anyone.”A humpback's back flip caught on camera. Photo credit: Anthony Crampton.As part of the community resistance, a number of Facebook groups were established, including No Offshore Wind Farms Illawarra, which has 8,400 members, No Offshore Wind Farms for the Illawarra, which has 4,700 members and the Coalition Against Offshore Wind Community Forum, which has 2,600 members. Quizzed on when an announcement of the Illawarra as a so-called Offshore Wind Zone, a spokesperson for Chris Bowen said the Minister was currently considering all submissions for the Illawarra offshore wind zone.“Based on feedback from the submissions, the Minister can decide to declare all or some of the proposed zone. Before declaring an offshore zone, the Minister will balance the views of local communities and industries, including co-existence with existing marine users and interaction with the environment, as well the future energy security, supply for heavy industry, and job opportunities for the Illawarra region.”Minister Chris Bowen and other officials have consistently reassured the public that wind turbines do not pose a threat to whales, emphasising that these intelligent animals will simply swim around them. This sentiment has been echoed by both Labor and the Greens.Bowen has previously declared: “Whales are smart animals. They can navigate around oil rigs, gas rigs, cargo ships, cruise ships, offshore wind turbines.” Few people are convinced.Anthony Crampton, for one, doesn’t believe for a second government assurances that wind turbines won’t hurt the whales. He thinks it a travesty that taxpayers money is being directed towards foreign corporations who, as he puts it, are bent on destroying Australia’s marine ecology. Around 300 wind turbines are proposed, each a height of some 260 metres.“I would say to the government, pull your heads in, leave the whales alone,” he says. “There are many people around here just as fanatical as I am about looking after these creatures.”“I am dead set anti-wind farm. They say they’re not going to hurt the whales, but I firmly believe the noise they make will harm them.” “So much money has been poured into protecting these things, and now they are going to put things out there in the ocean that are going to destroy them. I haven’t heard anyone saying they are going to be a good thing.”The controversy is by no means limited to the Illawarra and the South Coast but has spread up and down the East Coast.In March, Bowen announced the declaration of the so-called Offshore Wind Zone for the Southern Ocean region of Victoria, an area stretching from the Limestone Coast down to Warrnambool, but the area proposed was cut by 80 percent after massive community opposition.Equally, on the other side of the country, at Geographe Bay in Western Australia, there are protests and disbelief at the proposal to install wind farms in the middle of a whale migration route.Back in NSW, the protests have been just as vigorous up and down the coast as they have been in the Illawarra. Frank Future, a whale watch operator working out of Port Stephens, said: “We don’t like the wind farms. Most whale watch operators are opposed. It’s a huge part of our industry.” “This is a fishing and tourist community. At least 70 percent of the adult population of Port Stephens are opposed. We are all together in this, we oppose it.”“The government had already declared the zone before the consultation. They weren’t very consultative. They didn't come to this community. You think of Labor as more consultative, but not at all.”“To see such a huge creature is a wonderful sight, and it’s only in the last few years we have had the opportunity to see them. There aren’t many good news stories in the environment. Considering they are all born in Australian waters, we have a right to love them and look after them.”Spokesman for Responsible Future Illawarra, Alex O’Bren, said there was growing concern within the community about the potential impact of the proposed Illawarra wind farm on these majestic creatures. “With Minister Bowen expected to announce the wind farm zone soon, the future of many whale seasons, cherished by both the local community and First Nations people for generations, hangs in the balance.”“We must take these concerns seriously. If politicians continue to dismiss the real impact on marine life and whales as misinformation we risk a catastrophic situation here in the Illawarra.”“If we do not heed the warnings of lifelong whale protectors and learn from international experiences, this could be one of the last whale migration seasons that the Illawarra gets to enjoy. “We have fought tirelessly for the recovery of whale populations and cannot allow a ‘renewables at any cost’-mentality to prevail. As a community that is a custodian for these magnificent creatures, we must ask questions and demand the highest level of environmental studies and one that is independent and not controlled or funded by profit making developers.”Approximately 40,000 whales and their calves that migrate through this pathway each year. Photo credit: Anthony Crampton.Significant concerns have been raised by both Sea Shepherd Australia, a name synonymous with the welfare of whales, along with Paul Watson, one of the co-founders of Greenpeace, in company with activists up and down both the East and West Coast of Australia. In their submission to the government, Sea Shepherd Australia called for more thorough research into the risks turbines pose to marine life and stressed the need for stricter regulations on developers before any turbines are approved.The submission underscored significant risks to critically endangered and other species, citing concerns such as unplanned spills, pollution events, pile driving, cable laying, artificial lighting, underwater noise, vibration, vessel strikes, blade strikes, and electromagnetic fields. Notably, a quarter of the submission focused on the risk of entanglement for the approximately 40,000 whales and their calves that migrate through this pathway each year. Entanglement risk is a major concern due to the kilometres of cables needed to anchor the massive turbines. Their report read: “On an assumption of floating wind turbines with catenary mooring lines being the preferred installation method in the Illawarra, there is likely to be a considerable network of lengthy underwater cables and lines and there is no research about what might happen to whales that might encounter this network, or their behaviour to seek to avoid this structure in their path. “The need for research about this is urgent particularly as floating technology has not yet been deployed anywhere else in the world at commercial scale.”“We don’t know how a whale population of this size is likely to fare when passing through or around this cluster of mooring lines together with the cables to floating sub-stations, and to shore that will carry the energy created by the turbines. It has been suggested by some academics that whales will be able to navigate successfully through or around these cables and lines but there is no precedent elsewhere in the world for this number of whales passing this number of lines at these depths.”Other groups have also expressed concern. The Organisation for the Rescue & Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) have been monitoring marine mammals along the East Coast of Australia for more than 30 years. Vice-President Jessica Fox said it is imperative marine mammals are included in any environmental impact assessments as part of any feasibility studies with relation to the wind farm project. “The proposed location is a migratory route for many species including the blue whale and the southern right whale, both of which are endangered species,” she said. “Any future developments on the ocean need to have more evidence about potential impacts.”She said as the whale watching season began there was already significant concern over the number of boats and drones “getting way too close” to the whales.There is a 100 metre exclusion zone for boats and drones, with that being extended to 300 metres for any whales with calves. She also urged anyone with concerns for the welfare of any marine animals to contact ORRCA, which operates a 24 hour hotline. Whales are uniquely sensitive to sound, which travels further through water than it does through air. In April, after the mass stranding of pilot whales in Western Australia, the Smithsonian Institute, one of the world’s leading scientific bodies, noted that “human-made noises at sea can disturb whales’ ability to navigate”.Numerous studies, including by the US military, have found that whale beaching can be directly connected to human noise, be it from ships, submarines or recreational craft.One thing everyone knows about wind turbines, not only are they just plain ugly, they create a lot of noise. “Whales live in a soundscape of fear, listening is as important to them as vision is to humans,” says Patrick Miller, a marine biologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and a joint author of research on why, when naval ships and other sea vessels use sonar, many whale species flee for their lives; some even stranding themselves on beaches in a desperate attempt to escape.Scientists now believe loud sounds trigger the same fear response as when the animals hear calls emitted by their most terrifying predator: killer whales.To hear unusual or loud human noises, such as sonar, triggers the same defensive reaction, Miller explains: “The whales aren’t confusing sonar with killer whale sounds,” he stresses. The cetaceans flee from sonar “likely because it is loud.” “They perceive it as a general threat, and that triggers their decision to escape. In time, susceptible cetacean species may learn that they don’t need to flee from sonar, but “they don’t have time to evolve,” Miller says. “All they know is ‘that sonar might eat me.’ And in their race to get away, they end up on a beach.”You can bet if whales do start beaching themselves as a result of the noise from wind farms, both during their construction and their ongoing operation, no one in the Australian government will put up their hand to take responsibility.Meanwhile, outrage in the community continues to mount as more and more people become aware of the broader issues surrounding wind farms and the extreme manipulation of the debate through various media outlets and government funded academics.  Mark Fox, an enthusiastic local photographer at this time of year, is even more entranced by the area’s natural beauty than usual when schools of dolphins and humpback whales pass close to shore. “It sickens me to the core that they would destroy the pristine, picturesque coast line with an industrial eyesore development stretching further than the eye can see.” “Wind farms are known to be an obstruction and danger for migratory whales. This will be an environmental, economic and tourism disaster for the region.”He speaks for many.As with everything to do with climate change, there are many billions of dollars involved, both in terms of money to be made by private corporations and taxpayer funds channelled into supporting the renewable push.Politics, profit and passion all tied up together. It is a putrid mix. For the government it is a whale of a dilemma. Make no mistake, wind farms are highly political. The potential destruction of the migration routes of Australia’s whales may well destroy Labor’s environmental credentials and come to be seen as a significant breach of public trust. The next election must be held during or before 2025. The Conservatives, recovering from an historical defeat in 2022, can already scent blood in the water.Opposition leader Peter Dutton visited Port Stephens twice last October to push against the Hunter Offshore Wind proposals, suggesting that the government had no idea what it was doing.“It’s very clear to me this is fast growing into a national scandal,” he said. “I don’t believe the government has done the necessary work. They haven’t undertaken the environmental impact statements that need to be carried out in any other like development onshore. The rising level of anger is something that Australians really should take note of.”Kiama Member of Parliament, Gareth Ward, is of a similar sentiment. "The proposed Federal Government zone for offshore wind would be smack-bang in the path of endangered species such as whales and birds. This impact needs to be understood and we shouldn’t risk the future of critically endangered species without further serious evidence and proper analysis." "I believe we need to reduce our emissions which provide for cleaner air, cleaner water, and a more sustainable environment. We do not inherit this planet from our parents, we borrow it from our children.""My chief concern with the Federal Government’s proposed wind factory off our coast is the lack of information, particularly when it comes to our environment," he said. "The government should be transparent and accountable about environmental impacts alongside the zoning process; environmental impacts should not be an afterthought."Controversy aside, this is a special time. Whale watching websites, most particularly the Shellharbour Whale and Wildlife Spotting group on Facebook, have lit up with remarkable images, including spectacular drone footage of whales swimming with schools of dolphins.There are no reliable statistics, but it is estimated that more than 1.5 million Australians will go whale watching this season. We are all flecks in the great torrent of life, and for most of us all we can do is the best by the day. So why not go down to the shore and join Australia’s armada of whale watchers? If nothing else, these majestic animals stir the mystic in us all.

Fitness for the time-poor
Fitness for the time-poor

02 June 2024, 1:30 AM

Last month, I wrote about the importance of prioritising time for physical activity, and the need to treat it as a must-do rather than a luxury if we want to stay well enough to carry out all our other responsibilities. Although, statements like this can draw eye-rolling from busy people (me included) when you feel like you might have more chance getting to the moon than to the gym during the week, with all of your daily commitments. There is good news, however, for people who are not considered ‘regularly active’ by current World Health Organisation standards (i.e. 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity over three or more days of the week). Recent research (JAMA, 2023) has shown that people who do all of their physical activity concentrated in just one or two days each week still have the same cardiovascular benefits as those who exercised more regularly. This means that “weekend warriors”, or those who are able to do 150 minutes of exercise in just one or two outings each week, are still much better off health-wise than those who are inactive. Of course, there are other advantages to exercising regularly, but this flexibility in the way we can accumulate health benefits is encouraging for time-poor individuals. Another option for fitting exercise into a busy schedule could be through short bursts of vigorous physical activity during everyday life. These activities can include tasks such as carrying shopping bags, walking uphill and stair climbing. One recent population study (Nature Medicine, 2022) indicated that people who were classified ‘inactive’ but did three to four short (less than one minute) bursts of physical activity everyday had up to a 40 percent reduction in premature death from any cause, as well as death from cancer. Such findings are impressive and align with what we already know about the benefits of more structured high intensity exercise training (short bouts of intense activity followed by rest). This is still an emerging area of research, but for those of us who find structured physical activity unfeasible for whatever reason, this news is very welcome indeed. So, if getting active feels like an impossible task, don’t despair - take the stairs, go for that long Sunday walk, and remember that every little bit counts.

Lighthearted defib training for Blue Haven Bonaira residents
Lighthearted defib training for Blue Haven Bonaira residents

01 June 2024, 10:33 AM

Having to use a defibrillator in an emergency is obviously no laughing or lighthearted matter. Regardless, over 50 residents at Blue Haven Bonaira enjoyed being educated on this topic on Friday 24 May 2024, thanks to the relaxed, relatable manner displayed by presenter and local emergency doctor, Mark Newcombe. Member of Parliament for Kiama, Gareth Ward, who is currently lobbying for broader access to maintained defibrillators in public spaces and transport, also attended. Blue Haven Bonaira resident and Mark’s father, Mike Newcombe, was largely to thank for the recent fundraising and subsequent roll out of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) throughout the facility. Mike, who has previously had heart bypass surgery, thoroughly scoped out all areas of the facility that would require CellAED devices to ensure prompt emergency support for all residents in the event of cardiac arrest. Once installed, Mike recognised training for understandably apprehensive residents was necessary. Naturally, he looked to his highly qualified and kind-hearted son, who is also the leader of a not-for-profit charity that runs medical conferences in third world countries. Mark kicked the session off with a well-received chuckle about his parents gifting him a CellAED last Christmas, knowing his genetics. Mark managed to deliver technical topics in an accessible manner to an engaged team of increasingly confident potential first responders, including visual mechanics of both a normal-functioning heart and one that may classify a person at risk of a cardiac arrest. Mark Newcome presents defib training to Blue Haven Bonaira residents.Additionally, Mark relayed crucial statistics, such as: out of the 25,000 cardiac arrests recorded annually, 75 percent have a shockable rhythm. Approximately 35 percent of individuals experiencing cardiac arrest survive if the event is witnessed, and early CPR and defibrillation is provided. “Getting to people early with the right tools is the only way we are going to make a difference. In cardiac arrest, the probability of successful resuscitation declines by 10 percent every minute. Attending to the person within the first three or four minutes is more likely to have a good outcome,” said Mark. “Remember - it is very difficult to do harm to the person. If we do nothing, the outcome is death,” he urged the residents, demonstrating the ease at which the automated devices can be used.  Upon conclusion, Ward addressed the residents, advising an outcome on his proposed Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) (Public Access) Bill is expected to be settled by August. This bill would not only enforce maintained defibrillators in public places and transport, but also rules and penalties regarding vandalism to the devices. “I had a constituent come and see me over a year ago now. It is a meeting I will never forget. He said, ‘I want to say to you, Gareth, you saved my life. It was a grant that you got for a defibrillator. It was there when I needed it. I would have been dead without it.’ That is what really speared me into doing something about defibrillators,” said Ward. “Every year, around 3,800 people die from an out of hospital cardiac arrest. Lives could have been saved if they’d had access to a defibrillator. These devices save lives, by having them in public places, on forms of public transport.“Let’s hope these devices never need to be used, but it is good to know how to use them if we need them,” closed Ward.Ward and Mark received a hearty round of applause from the appreciative residents, particularly Mark’s proud Dad.“Mark was absolutely fabulous with his presentation, answering all very intelligent questions that probably only an emergency doctor could have done,” beamed Mike.“I went to a gathering of attendees after the event, and they could not stop praising his presentation. He added some humour to a very serious subject.” Fortunately, none of the participants have experienced cardiac arrest before - and let’s pray they never do. However, should the unfortunate event occur, they have peace of mind knowing they are in equipped and capable hands thanks to the caring work of this father-son dream team. This defibrillator training session may have been fairly lighthearted, but potentially life-saving nonetheless.  

Battle for Inclusion: Concern for Young Cadets Quitting Meds
Battle for Inclusion: Concern for Young Cadets Quitting Meds

01 June 2024, 3:38 AM

Every week, at Shellharbour Airport and locations across Australia, over 28,000 teenagers aged between 12 and 18 gather for a youth development program with a difference. The Australian Defence Force Cadets (ADF Cadets) offers young people skills in leadership and resilience, and a pathway to start a career in the Defence Force.Parents are concerned, however; by pressure felt by young Cadets to stop taking medication prescribed for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) — one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. “I was happy when my son joined the Cadets,” a mum from Kiama told The Bugle. “A month later, he came home and announced he wanted to join the Royal Australian Air Force when he finished high school – it was great to see him so inspired.”There was, however; a caveat to his plan. He had discovered that he would have to be “off” his ADHD medication for two years before he applied for the Royal Australian Air Force. As a result, he stopped taking his medication, which, in part, had been prescribed to help him focus during his exams.At present, a diagnosis of ADHD is not a barrier to a teenager joining the ADF Cadets, although medical conditions must be noted on their Cadet profile. But eligibility for the ADF, including the Air Force and the Navy, is far less certain. Australian Government Department of Defence/PTE Alfred Stauder.The career website for the ADF states: "Reaching the necessary medical and fitness requirements for the Navy, Army or Air Force for entry is well within most people’s capability."However, a thorough medical examination is required and, when it comes to particular medical conditions, the career site states, “There's not one answer for all, as the outcome depends on individual circumstances.”It’s ambiguous and, as a result, young Cadets are turning to Google — a rabbit hole of potential misinformation. In posts on the online forums, Quora and Reddit, Australians with ADHD who have allegedly attempted to join the ADF — and been declined — share tips on how to downplay symptoms and hide a diagnosis.When a teenager from Kiama asked his pediatrician for clarification, he was told, it is “very difficult” to be accepted into the ADF with ADHD, and that he would need to be off his medication for 24 months to start the enlisting process. This is in line with the requirements of the New Zealand Defence Force, which states that, “in general, any applicant who requires regular or long-term medication (contraception excluded) will be unfit for service.” The concern is, they may not be able to access medication in a deployment situation. With Kiama’s close proximity to HMAS Albatross, many local teenagers have aspirations to join the Royal Australian Navy. A local mum, whose teenage son is considering “weaning off” medication prescribed for autism because he wants to enlist, admits this is a controversial topic. “I don’t think the Defence Force is a safe space for people who should be medicated and aren’t,” she says. “Legislation needs to catch up with countries who are making progress in this area.”Australian Government Department of Defence/LACW Emma Schwenke.The 2024 National Defence Strategy has called for a “widening of eligibility criteria” to enable more people to join the ADF. It’s a necessary step as the ADF faces a recruitment crisis.In an interview with Sky News, Shadow Defence Minister Andrew Hastie revealed there is a “lot to do” to improve the ADF, because they are “about 5,000 under strength.” There have been reports that the ADF will change 15 medical criteria, which can disqualify recruits, including acne, braces and some mental health conditions. The teenagers and their parents who spoke to The Bugle say all they want is some clarity. “It’s impossible to find information,” said a 15-year-old, who dreams of becoming a pilot, and is weighing up coming off his medication or choosing a different career path. Doug van Gelder works for the Australian Spatial Analytics (ASA) — a social enterprise with a mission to increase workforce participation for neurodiverse people. Since 2020, ASA has provided careers in the geospatial and engineering professions for over 150 young neurodivergent adults. “Australia is experiencing severe skills shortages,” says van Gelder. “Defence needs to consider ‘non-deployable’ status for people with ADHD and other neurodivergent conditions so they can scale to meet the challenges today’s unsettled world brings.” He gives the example of people with colour blindness, or ‘significant colour deficiency’, who can join the ADF, although their “employment streams” are restricted and they can only work in certain environments.“Similarly, people on ADHD medication that supports their function can be assigned similar roles that minimise the ‘risk’ of deployment without medication,” says van Gelder.  “In regards to coming off ADHD medication, these medications help with everyday life. It makes no sense for young adults to effectively be forced to accept self-harm by coming off their medications.”Australian Government Department of Defence/CPL David Gibbs.A Defence spokesperson told The Bugle: “The application process should not deter candidates from seeking medical advice and treatment for their medical conditions. Defence considers every ADF candidate’s medical circumstances individually. A current or past history of ADHD or autism spectrum disorder does not necessarily exclude candidates from entry.” They added: “Defence continues to review and amend its medical entry standards in line with new information as it becomes available to Defence medical professionals.”

The Bugle View: Performance improvement starts with dollars and sense
The Bugle View: Performance improvement starts with dollars and sense

01 June 2024, 1:20 AM

Late in May Local Government Minister Ron Hoenig issued a variation to the Performance Improvement Order (PIO) that currently applies to Kiama Municipal Council. It effectively binds the current and future Council to a strict set of actions ‘required to improve performance’ over the next three financial years to FY 2026/27 with the aim of operating a budget in surplus that does not rely on property sales. The Minister said that Council ‘is moving too slowly’ towards financial sustainability and given this, Council will be required to report to the Office of Local Government bi-monthly to make sure they remain on the track to reducing expenditure and increasing revenue. The response from the Council to the revised PIO was understandably muted from Council, and the community should take note. Whilst the controversial sale of Blue Haven Bonaira looks to be finalised over the coming weeks with purchase by aged care providers Hall & Prior, it is quite clear that Bonaira will not be the last in terms of significant changes to Council assets and services. Council’s draft Long Term Financial Plan to FY 2033/34 points towards eight other parcels of land that Council will be looking to dispose of to shore up the finances. It is possible that Blue Haven will continue to feature heavily, with the PIO requiring Council to definitively determine whether general rate revenue is subsiding Blue Haven’s Terralong operations – the same issue that plagued Bonaira and led to its forthcoming sale.  In addition, there’ll be a requirement that Council set aside and establish a capital renewal reserve for Terralong with annual transfers to the reserve of $2 million. The community should not be surprised if Havilah Place at the top of Terralong Street is subdivided and subsequently sold off, perhaps sooner rather than later.  What has not been outwardly divulged in statements from Council but is found within the detail of the 40 pages of the Long-Term Financial Plan are references to how additional revenues may be secured, and how costs will be reduced.  And it all makes complete sense as to where Council will find the dollars. Cutting “non-essential services”.  Special rates variations. Sale of Council assets like the Works and Waste Depots. The Bugle’s View is that Council should be up front with these discussions. Where is the grandstanding and transparency about what this means for us, as ratepayers?  What exactly are the ‘non-essential’ services that Council is looking to cut.  We all know about the paid parking discussions and what the community already thinks – but is that another decision that will be forced upon us.We are currently in a cost-of-living crisis and cuts to services and increases to rates is not welcome news. Particularly when Council’s legal bill is now at $4.7m for this financial year, and likely to reach the $5m mark if there are further significant costs associated with a yet another code of conduct investigation between bickering Councillors.   Will Councillors and Council be honest in the upcoming local government election about what they stand for? What services and Council assets are off limits? How much could this special rate variation be? Let’s wait and see. But there is one thing the community can rely on, and that is The Bugle providing a clear and transparent View and holding this and the future Council to account.

Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea at Cedar on Collins
Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea at Cedar on Collins

01 June 2024, 12:00 AM

On Thursday 23 May, The Bugle attended a heartwarming event at Cedar on Collins, where around 120 residents, alongside their friends, family and local community members, gathered for Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea. This event, sponsored by the Cancer Council, aimed to raise crucial funds to support those affected by cancer. The atmosphere was filled with camaraderie and a delightful array of treats.According to the Cancer Council, almost one in two Australians will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 85. They strive to change this narrative with initiatives like these morning teas, rallying everyone to contribute towards a cancer-free future.The morning tea at Cedar on Collins was a picturesque affair, featuring a large marquee in one of their spacious courtyards, with three long tables adorned with charming decorations. Staff warmly welcomed guests and served coffees, while caterers from Central Perk presented a delectable spread on three-tier cake stands, evoking a nostalgic elegance.The joyful mood was palpable as conversations flowed, games were played, and raffles were drawn. Attendees were also delighted by door prizes. Sponsors of the event included House to Home, Crooked River Wines, Kiama Leagues Club, and Woolworths. Member of Parliament for Kiama, Gareth Ward, was present, engaging broadly with guests.The Bugle spoke with various attendees, including Deidre, a resident who emphasised the universal impact of cancer. “Everyone has been touched in some way by cancer.We all know someone,” said Deidre, who attended with family members, Jackie, Gary, and Caroline, and fellow residents, Brian and Pat. Margaret, who attended with Laurie, Cec, Dorothy, Terry, Gail and Lorraine, echoed this sentiment.Kudos to the dedicated team at Cedar on Collins for organising and running the event with cheerful efficiency.As of now, 25,450 morning tea hosts have registered in 2024, raising an impressive $4,832,625. Every dollar counts in the fight against cancer, and events like this bring the community together in support of a vital cause.Here are some examples of how the Cancer Council uses donations:$25 protects 15 children from harmful sun exposure through the SunSmart school program.$55 provides support from a cancer nurse available via the helpline 13 11 20.$155 covers transport and a night's stay at a Cancer Council Lodge for those needing to travel for treatment.$510 funds annual training for Support Group Volunteers to offer emotional and practical support to cancer patients.

Aimee Longbottom: Community roots and real estate expertise
Aimee Longbottom: Community roots and real estate expertise

31 May 2024, 11:00 PM

Lifelong local resident, Aimee Longbottom, brings more than a decade of real estate experience to her role as a licensed real estate sales agent at First National Coast and Country in Kiama. Her role is not just a job but also a passion, driven by her love for meeting people, making new connections and helping the people in her community.“It’s a big honour to be part of such a significant step,” Aimee shares. Aimee loves connecting with locals and people wanting to move into the area and helping them through the process of buying or selling a home. The process is usually a very personal, sometimes emotional, experience, and Aimee dedicates herself to each client interaction, ensuring her devoted guidance throughout. Aimee has worked across various roles during her time in the real estate industry and has accumulated extensive industry experience. She balances her busy career with an active lifestyle, often starting her days early at the gym or enjoying walks with her dog around Kiama. She loves spending time with her daughter, family and friends and cherishes the beautiful Kiama area and lifestyle, with a strong connection to this community. “I can’t walk down the street without bumping into someone and having a chat,” says Aimee Her enthusiasm for her work is evident and she finds excitement at the prospect of being involved in such an exciting journey for her clients. She has a passion for helping people and, with keen problem solving skills, she works hard to ensure her clients get what they need. Aimee’s genuine excitement and dedication shines through in her interactions with clients. “I really enjoy getting know my clients and am so grateful when they trust me,” she says, emphasising her commitment to helping them navigate each step of the process, especially the often daunting first step. Aimee’s recent listings can be found online here: https://www.coastandcountryfn.com.au/589763/aimee-longbottom. With a life and career intertwined with the community she loves deeply, Aimee can assist with all of your buying and selling needs. If you are looking for an understanding, experienced and dedicated agent, you can contact Aimee via 0414 615 400) or [email protected]

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