The Bugle App
The Bugle App
Your local news hub
Get it on the Apple StoreGet it on the Google Play Store
FeaturesThe Bugle: latest issue24 Hour Defibrillator sitesSportsWin StuffKCR
The Bugle App

News


Council plans to be back in black by 2026-2027
Council plans to be back in black by 2026-2027

21 May 2024, 3:01 AM

Kiama Council has come out swinging and plans to land a surplus, eradicate structural losses and establish a balanced budget with a cash balance in the black, by 2026-2027.Its Long-Term Financial Plan (LTFP) wants to eliminate operating deficits, and ensure cost increases in services and borrowings, are financially sound.The council is working to answer all of the Performance Improvement Orders (PIO), which stated amongst other matters, that there was, “evidence to suggest that Council has failed to meet its legislative responsibilities in relation to its financial management.”Council has worked hard to clear the nine matters posed by the Minister Wendy Tuckerman in November 2022.Even so, the Auditor wrote in the 2023-2022 council statements, that there are still doubts the council’s records stated its true financial position.Council will be able to pay its debts as long as Blue Haven Bonaira is soon sold. To remain fiscally sustainable, it will need to sell Blue Haven Terralong.Yet before moving to a sale, the council will examine, “options to retain and refurbish Blue Haven Terralong to conform with contemporary independent living units.”Mayor Neil Reilly and CEO Jane Stroud.The remaining $15m owed to TCorp is slated for August 2025 but payment depends on the sale of Bonaira.According to the council’s Draft Delivery Program 2022-2026 and Operational Plan 2023-2024, the sale of these assets and others will improve the council's unrestricted cash balance and its working capital position by $14.7M by the end of June 2024.There are early plans to consider subdividing Halivah Place as per the original Kiama Development Control Plan 2020.“The zoning on (this) site allows for residential development and, as part of the preparation of this DCP, an option was created for a mix of apartments and terrace houses,” the Development Control Plan states.The Local Government Remuneration Tribunal also awarded a 3.75 per cent salary increase to mayors and councillors from 1 July 2024. Each Kiama councillor will be paid $22,540 and the Mayor will receive $49,200 per annum.Council must also staunch the $4M already spent on legal fees this financial year, up from $1.7M the year before.Rates - A wicked problem Council provided an excellent example of a ‘wicked’ or paradoxical problem in the recent business papers.Rate rises are not always the solution.Setting the rates at a specific return every year (rate pegging) protects rate payers but it also restrains the council's ability to provide services.The Council was told by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal the rate peg for 2023/24 was 4.2 per cent or approximately $800K yet CPI rose by 7 per cent.For the same period, the Local Government (State) Award required a 4.5 per cent wage increase or about $1.6M.Councils are exposed to many other increases in materials, contracts, insurance, electricity, fuel and other costs, all to be absorbed in the annual budget.Excessive cuts to infrastructure expenditure creates mounting pressure on the asset renewal and maintenance, and may pass on cost to the next generation.

Understanding domestic violence and providing Safe Places
Understanding domestic violence and providing Safe Places

21 May 2024, 1:52 AM

Domestic and family violence (DFV) is one of the primary causes of homelessness among women and children in Australia. Perhaps of greater concern, 34 women lost their lives at the hands of an intimate partner between 2022-23, which was a 28 percent increase from the prior year. This data has not gone unnoticed, with recent government action to increase awareness, support and crisis accommodation for women and their children in Supported Accommodation & Homelessness Services Shoalhaven Illawarra (SAHSSI) Safe Places.Prevalence in regional communities Recent data has shown that DFV impacting women - and subsequently their children - is not only increasing, but more prevalent in regional communities than urban areas. According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, the DFV assault rate in 2023 was 592.8 incidents for every 100,000 people in regional NSW. This was a significant increase to Sydney, which registered 360 incidents per 100,000 people. “Women in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas are more likely than women in urban areas to experience DFV; with 21 percent in RRR and 15 percent in urban areas,” says Chief Executive Officer at SAHSSI, Penny Dordoy.This, Dordoy says, may be due to a number of factors. Firstly, the geographical separation limits the amount of social support with others outside of the relationship. Furthermore, seeking help may be more difficult.“The more rural the community, the more likelihood of police, health professionals and DFV workers knowing both offender and victim. This lack of privacy can inhibit women's willingness to use local services and may also affect the adequacy and fairness of justice-based responses,” says Dordoy. “Public visibility of courts in small towns can result in women and their children feeling unsafe and exposed to their perpetrators. Perpetrators have often spent time purposely destroying the woman’s reputation in the community and within services where she may need to reach out for support.”Social norms and values may also prevent women from reaching out. This may be particularly so within rural communities that consider ‘family problems’ as private affairs not to be discussed, and hold expectations for individuals to be stoic and self-reliant. “The fear and threat of community gossip, social stigma and shaming, and the additional consideration of how this will affect children in small communities, can also be used as a coercive tool used by perpetrators,” explains Dordoy.Furthermore, Dordoy cites other contributing factors, including: complex financial arrangements such as those where money is tied into farms and family businesses, fewer available support and emergency services particularly for those with diverse and specific needs, lacking transport systems, reduced connectivity and digital literacy, perpetrators having greater access to firearms, dominance of rural masculinity, community protection of high-standing perpetrators, and additional stressors such as flood, fire and drought. Overall, Dordoy views such issues like a triangle. “The closer you are to the top of the triangle, the more remote you are, the fewer people in your community, the higher the barriers and the less opportunity to escape DFV safely. If you are in a city, at the bottom section of the triangle, the more services, opportunities, places to seek help, financial assistance or ability to rent or achieve secure housing, and choice,” she explains. Understanding various forms of domestic violenceThe broader definition of DFV may not be well-understood by the general public and is often littered with misconceptions. General Manager of Women Illawarra Inc., Michelle Glasgow, reiterates that DFV may take various forms, and in many instances does not involve physical violence.“Domestic abuse is about the perpetrator exercising power and control over the victim. In my experience, it usually starts with emotional and psychological abuse, such as name calling, public humiliation, undermining and gaslighting, threats to leave, withdrawing of affection or attention, stonewalling. It is designed to undermine the victim’s confidence, socially isolate them and make them dependent on the perpetrator’s approval.” “I liken it to a systematic process of creating a brain fog that keeps you in the dark, unable to see clearly as the rules and behaviours are unpredictable and ever-changing,” she explains. “The other forms of abuse that are not physical are religious, financial and abuse of pets in some instances. Coercive control is a little more subtle. It is a pattern of behaviours that in isolation look innocuous. However, they are repeated over time and have the effect of removing the autonomy of the victim in their life.”Glasgow paints a painful picture of how someone experiencing DFV may feel like they are constantly walking on eggshells, unsure of how someone will respond, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. From the outside looking in, it may be hard to detect. However, it is a relentlessly terrifying and exhausting existence for the target. Providing new Safe Places Naturally, increased cases means increased need for support. Unfortunately, the system is drastically under pressure. Whilst Women Illawarra Inc. are able to support with advocacy letters to housing providers to advocate for women fleeing DFV, Glasgow admits that the Staying Home Leaving Violence program in the Illawarra has been at capacity for a significant period of time, and hence a primary service that cannot currently be utilised.Acknowledging this critical need for support amid the current housing crisis, Federal Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips, recently announced the opening of a new Safe Places facility in Ulladulla to provide emergency accommodation for women and children experiencing DFV in the Southern Shoalhaven. The Safe Places Emergency Accommodation Program is funded by the Albanese Labor Government, which, thanks to an investment of $72.6 million, financed the renovation, building or purchase of new crisis or emergency accommodation. The program has enabled 32 SAHSSI Safe Places sites to open across the region, providing support for up to 256 women and children experiencing DFV each year. Most recently, the Southern Cross Community Housing Safe Places site in Ulladulla opened its doors last February. The facility’s six studio apartments will provide assistance to up to 24 women and children. Federal Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, recently visited the Illawarra Safe Places sites. “Women and children face significant challenges when leaving family and domestic violence,” said Minister Rishworth.“These new Safe Places sites will assist more women and children experiencing DFV, by ensuring they have a safe place to go and can access necessary specialist services. Our government remains determined to tackle the scourge of family, domestic and sexual violence. It’s simply unacceptable.”Phillips recently accompanied Minister Rishworth for a tour of the newly opened Ulladulla facility. “Visiting the new Safe Places emergency accommodation gave me an opportunity to meet the women and children who have experienced family and domestic violence, and to hear their harrowing personal stories first hand,” said Phillips.“It was great to speak with the wonderful frontline workers, who are helping these women and children by providing a safe haven for them, and also providing the absolutely vital support they need to move forward.”Federal Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth and Federal Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips visiting the new Safe Place in Ulladulla.More information on the Safe Places program is available through the Department of Social Services’ website.Speaking up and seeking helpPhillips reiterates that, “one life lost to violence against women is too many, and deaths of women at the hands of men who profess to love and care for them has to end".It can be confusing trying to clearly ascertain the state of a relationship, particularly one in which a degree of coercive control has been enforced. If you are unsure, Glasgow urges reaching out to a trusted friend, colleague, family member or support worker and starting a conversation. “There are some incredible online supports like 1800-RESPECT that can provide 24-hour counselling and information. The first step is always having a chat,” she urges.Women Illawarra also welcome contributions from volunteers, who feel the call to support women and children who have experienced DFV. Potential volunteers can register their interest via the Women Illawarra website: www.womenillawarra.org.au. They will also be at Wollongong City Council’s Volunteer Expo on 22 May and hosting a community gathering at Lang Park, Wollongong on 25 May at 12:30pm, calling for action to change the Illawarra culture towards violence against women.If you or someone you know may be at risk in a DFV situation, please seek support from organisations such as Women Illawarra, SAHSSI and 1800-RESPECT. Contact police on 000 in the event of immediate danger.

Paws, Puddles, and Pup: The Joyous Adventure of Bringing Patsy to Tasmania
Paws, Puddles, and Pup: The Joyous Adventure of Bringing Patsy to Tasmania

20 May 2024, 11:00 PM

There's an instant connection for anyone who has brought home a puppy. It's akin to welcoming a human child into your life; a surge of emotion and love overwhelms you, and you solemnly vow to safeguard your furry companion with every fibre of your being. This was precisely the experience my partner and I shared when we brought home our eight-week-old bundle of joy, "Patsy," from Worrigee in the Shoalhaven. Patsy, a spirited Dalmador, stole our hearts from the moment we saw her.Like many new puppy parents, we had grand plans for Patsy. We envisioned enrolling her in puppy training classes and strolling proudly down streets like Kiama’s Terralong Street, with Patsy trotting beside us, the essence of canine obedience. We even imagined it all in slow motion, with a cinematic soundtrack to boot.But as life often does, it had other plans in store for us.Within months, we found ourselves relocating to Tasmania, faced with the heart-wrenching decision of entrusting Patsy's care to my brother, who happened to have Patsy's brother. It was a tough adjustment, marked by endless video calls that never quite filled the void of her absence. Who knew we'd miss the chaos of her constant licking and signature bed launches, as precise as a military operation?Eventually, our fences were erected on our new property just outside Hobart. The missing piece to complete our home was the pitter-patter of Patsy's paws echoing through the hallway. After much preparation and navigating the intricacies of the BioSecurity Tasmania website, Patsy was finally set to embark on her journey aboard the Spirit of Tasmania.During my lunch breaks at The Bugle office, I would often stroll along Black Beach, marvelling at the serene ocean. Fast-forward to May 2024, and I found myself drawing upon all my low-level nautical skills to bring that same sense of tranquillity to the Bass Strait.Boarding Patsy in the kennel on deck five was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences we've had during our mainland crossings, surpassing the tumultuous swells that once tossed me out of my cabin bed. Our priorities and perspectives had shifted. While previous crossings were marked by excitement over the buffet offerings, this time, our minds were preoccupied with concern for Patsy amidst the ship's vibrations and noise.From top clockwise: Patsy enjoys the fire on her first night in Tasmania, disembarking the Spirit of Tasmania, the early morning crisp air of Devenport greets all passengers, Patsy snoozes during her trip to Hobart. As the vessel departed Geelong, its familiar rumblings filled the air. While other passengers chatted excitedly about the voyage, we remained sombre, our thoughts consumed by Patsy's well-being two levels below, perhaps wondering why we'd left her there.The crossing felt endless, alleviated only by the illicit indulgence of mini-doughnuts, cheese and crackers. Upon arrival in Geelong, amidst the usual bleary-eyed passengers recounting their experiences, we made a beeline for the kennel, eager to reunite with Patsy and relieve her of the dim, dreary accommodations.The subsequent three-hour drive back to Hobart was peaceful. Patsy was mostly asleep in my lap, occasionally rousing to peer out the window in search of the mythical Tassie Tiger.The once pristine mudroom now resembles a Dalmation motif thanks to Patsy's muddy pawsA week into our new life in Tasmania, constant rain transformed our yard into a muddy wasteland reminiscent of scenes from Mad Max. Our once pristine mudroom tiles now bore the imprint of dark pawprints, resembling a Dalmatian motif. Mud adorned our walls, couches were draped with protective coverings, and our new carpets bore the marks of countless clay deposits.The first day, we gave up mopping every few hours and accepted the fact that our home resembled the London workhouse from Oliver Twist, which coincidentally was set in the fictional town of Mudfog. We’re now waiting for the sun to return.Would we change it? No. Nothing beats the love of cuddling our Patsy by the fire, looking out towards Kunanyi/Mt Wellington and planning our return trip to a certain seaside town, discussing what soundtrack to strut down Terralong Street with as we flash our pearly whites, all with the most well-behaved Dalmador ever in tow.

Independent reviewer highlights need for upgraded and modern sport facilities
Independent reviewer highlights need for upgraded and modern sport facilities

20 May 2024, 6:42 AM

With a growing population at its hand, and the positive effects of physical activity on health and general well-being well-documented, the ability to access fully-functioning sport facilities for both recreational and training purposes within the Kiama district is crucial. However, with the Council facing potential budget cuts, investments in sports and civic assets could potentially be put on the backburner. As previously covered by The Bugle, the new Local Government Minister Ron Hoenig appointed an independent reviewer, Mr John Rayner, in December of 2023 to advise on Kiama Municipal Council’s financial circumstances. Rayner’s findings were made public this summer, on 1 February, and recommended several severe budget savings and efficiencies to be made within the next two years.In Item 13.9 - Submission to Legislative Council: Inquiry into the ability of local governments to fund infrastructure and services, which is included in the Agenda for the Council’s Ordinary Meeting on Tuesday, 21 May 2024, it is noted that: “There is a concern over investment in aged care services and commensurate consequential underinvestment in civic assets, such as swimming pools, sports fields, surf clubs, stormwater, roads, moving services etc. Increasingly the local sporting community require upgraded and more modern assets that are fit for purpose and encourage female participation. As noted in the charts and financial analysis above KMC’s ability to meet the needs to existing and future community through existing budgets falls short of community expectations and need".

Lifeline celebrates the collective impact and experience of their legion of volunteers
Lifeline celebrates the collective impact and experience of their legion of volunteers

20 May 2024, 6:31 AM

This National Volunteer Week, Lifeline Australia is shining a light on its volunteers and the critical role they play in giving thousands of people across Australia hope and connection around the clock each and every day. Lifeline Australia CEO Colin Seery said the organisation’s services were under more demand than ever, with people reaching out for help in record numbers.  “The critical work that Lifeline does is only possible with the thousands of Lifeline volunteers available 24/7 nationwide who pick up a call from a person in crisis every 30 seconds, as well as all the others who ensure Lifeline can carry on our critical, lifesaving work,” said Mr Seery. “This week, we are making extra sure to thank and recognise each one of our volunteers for the meaningful impact they are having on the lives of others – from our Crisis Supporters on the phone and digital services, to our retail workers and book fair volunteers.”  “Those at the frontlines of crisis support demonstrate extraordinary empathy and generosity, listening without judgment and providing care and assistance to help seekers at their darkest hour.” “We are fortunate to be supported by so many wonderful volunteers who continue to build resilience and reduce stigma around mental health concerns and suicidality.”  “Volunteers are the backbone of Lifeline – quite simply, we couldn’t do what we do without them.” Mr Seery added that the contribution of those who generously give up their time to make a difference in their communities means the organisation can ensure no one has to face their darkest moments alone. “Creating an Australia free of suicide takes dedication, time and patience and our volunteers have this in abundance,” Mr Seery added. You can phone Lifeline to speak to a Crisis Supporter on 13 11 14, text 0477 131 114, chat to Lifeline online or access the Support Toolkit to self-manage what you’re going through at www.lifeline.org.au (all services are available 24/7).  

Minnamurra Lions’ shout-out to volunteer, Knoxy
Minnamurra Lions’ shout-out to volunteer, Knoxy

20 May 2024, 1:33 AM

Leading up to their 25th anniversary (and National Volunteer Week, 20-26 May), Minnamurra Lions Clubs are acknowledging the outstanding contribution their members have made to the club itself and the broader community. One compassionate volunteer in particular is John Knox - fondly known as Knoxy. He’s been a member of the club since 2007, according to the President of Minnamurra Lions Club, Bill Lyon. During that time, Knoxy has held the position of President (2011-12) and Zone Chairperson (2012-13). He has also coordinated numerous Minnamurra Lions’ service and fundraising programs. Knoxy’s teaching background has enabled him to connect with his local communities in both professional and volunteer capacities. This is something he continues to do today - not only through the Minnamurra Lions Club, but through other avenues as well. For example, when bushfires ravaged the South Coast several years ago, Knoxy was often absent from Kiama, busily contributing to local communities and assisting farmers through the BlazeAid volunteer-based organisation.Clearly an avid believer in giving back to the community, Knoxy also assists many of Kiama’s older residents in accessing healthcare, social outlets and shops locally, and throughout Wollongong, as a volunteer driver for Kiama Community Transport.“Driving some of our locals to their doctor and health appointments is a rewarding experience,” beams Knoxy.“Many of our clients would be unable to access these opportunities if community transport didn’t exist. We are always looking for more drivers to help out. No particular qualifications are required, apart from a driver’s licence,” he urges.Members of Minnamurra Lions Club know that Knoxy is always one of the first people to put up his hand when volunteers are needed - whether that be to help at the monthly Kiama Market barbeque, assist at the entrance gates for Kiama Rugby League Club or coordinate one-off events. Knoxy also played a central role in the Minnamurra Lion’s Killalea Parking Project, which kindly coordinated the parking of hundreds of cars for patrons attending the monthly Killalea Markets.  “This was a big undertaking, requiring a very coordinated approach from members,” he recalls. “We would mark out the parking areas on the Saturday before the markets and then attend from early on Sunday morning, managing three parking areas until patrons left in the afternoon. This was all for a gold coin donation.“Unfortunately, COVID and then a change in the management of the venue saw the markets close, which was a pity as every cent of the roughly $2,000 collected each month went straight back to the community.” As you can see - Knoxy is always on the lookout for projects that serve others. One of his current projects involved encouraging members to pass ring pulls from aluminium cans onto him. This might sound odd initially, but Knoxy has a heart-warming reason for this request - so be sure to bear this in mind and set your ring pulls aside. “The ring pulls themselves are not aluminium. They are titanium. The ones we collect are donated to make lightweight wheelchairs for people with disabilities,” he explains. Lyon and all involved in Minnamurra Lions Club applaud Knoxy’s consistent efforts, noting the significant difference his commitment makes to the lives of many. Thanks for your contribution, Knoxy!

Navigating grief: a journey of healing and remembrance
Navigating grief: a journey of healing and remembrance

20 May 2024, 1:30 AM

Dealing with grief and loss is a profound journey that affects individuals in unique and complex ways. Whether it's the loss of a loved one, a pet, a home, or a sense of identity, the process of navigating grief can be overwhelming. However, understanding the causes, symptoms, and strategies for coping can make a significant difference in one's ability to heal and find meaning in life once again.Understanding GriefGrief can stem from various sources, including the loss of a relationship, a job, health, or a sense of safety. Symptoms may manifest physically, emotionally, cognitively and behaviourally, making it a multifaceted experience. From physical ailments like headaches and digestive issues to emotional struggles such as intense sorrow and depression, grief affects every aspect of one's being.Coping StrategiesAcknowledging grief and seeking help are crucial steps in the healing process. Expressing emotions, practicing self-care and engaging in activities that bring joy can provide relief amidst the pain. Meditation, in particular, offers a way to calm the mind and restore a sense of balance during turbulent times.Models of GriefVarious models, such as the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief, Stroebe & Schut’s Dual Model and Worden’s Task-Based Model, offer frameworks for understanding the grieving process. These models emphasise the importance of accepting reality, processing pain, adjusting to life without the lost loved one, and fostering enduring connections.The Science of GriefUnderstanding the neurobiological aspects of grief, including the role of stress hormone cortisol in the brain, sheds light on why grief can be so overwhelming. Increased cortisol levels during grief can impair cognitive function and emotional regulation, contributing to the intensity of grief symptoms.Remapping RelationshipsRemapping one's relationship with the lost loved one or the aspects of life that have changed can aid in the healing process. Rituals, such as visiting a loved one's resting place, writing letters or creating a memorial, provide opportunities to honour and remember them while adjusting to a new reality.Self-Care PracticesEngaging in self-care practices, such as meditation, exercise and relaxation techniques, is essential for maintaining physical and emotional well-being. Developing a personal plan that prioritises self-care, seeks support, allows for emotional expression and incorporates rituals can provide clarity and direction throughout the journey of grief.Navigating grief is a deeply personal journey that requires patience, self-compassion and resilience. By understanding the causes and symptoms of grief, exploring coping strategies and embracing models of grief, individuals can find solace and meaning amidst the pain. Through self-care practices and rituals, they can honour their loss while embarking on a path of healing and remembrance.In the end, grief transforms us. It shapes our perspective and deepens our understanding of life's complexities. As we navigate the terrain of grief, may we find strength in our vulnerability and solace in the memories of those we have lost.

Kiama Council calls for landowner and developer submissions
Kiama Council calls for landowner and developer submissions

20 May 2024, 12:59 AM

Kiama Council has recently announced an invitation for landowners to submit an expression of interest (EOI), nominating potential development sites for consideration in their Growth and Housing Strategy. This invitation is extended to developers who gain consent from a landowner. Although, the turnaround for submissions is tight, with a deadline of 5:00pm on Friday 24 May 2024. Whilst some people may consider this a surprising and somewhat controversial move, Council view it as a proactive step towards sustainable growth and housing. According to Kiama Council’s Director Planning, Environment and Communities, Jessica Rippon, this initiative demonstrates commitment to partnering with the community in establishing sustainable growth and housing solutions. “The Landowner and Developer EOI process is intended to reduce speculative planning proposals, through clear identification and articulation of sites to investigate as potential future growth areas through the Growth and Housing Strategy. This allows for development to be appropriately staged and infrastructure needs to be met and strategically planned,” she explains.“The Growth and Housing Strategy intends to provide more certainty to the community and development industry about where growth could occur in the future and areas where growth or expansion is not suitable. Only sites deemed to possess strategic merit will be considered for inclusion.”Rippon advises that all nominations would undergo a thorough and confidential evaluation process. In addition to cross-checking against a set criteria, other relevant factors will be considered, such as adherence to normal planning processes. Furthermore, Council has developed a probity plan to ensure joint protection of Council and community, and continued respect for commercial sensitivities of landowners and developers.“Any land that is proposed for inclusion will be clearly identified in the draft strategy, which will be subject to a formal exhibition process allowing for community feedback at that time,” advises Rippon. This call for submissions is a move that is wholeheartedly backed by the Director of Fountaindale Project Management - the development company behind the Golden Valley subdivision in Jamberoo - and Chair of the Property Council’s Illawarra Chapter, Jennifer Macquarie.“The development industry is very supportive of Kiama Council providing the opportunity for landowners to submit expressions of interest for their property to be included in its growth strategy,” says Macquarie. “Council has made the process pretty clear and simple. There is a series of questions on Council's website intended for landowners to convey the unique elements of their site and why it should be included. Council is not looking for lengthy submissions or expensive design plans, which makes the process accessible to any land owner, not just larger developers.”Acknowledging the current housing crisis, Macquarie has been advocating for all Councils in the Illawarra region to accelerate their housing supply. “Equally important is making sure the industry is enabled, through good planning controls, to deliver a mix of housing types, including affordable rental housing,” she adds.“I expect Kiama’s growth and housing strategy will address these elements while looking at the best location for different types of housing in terms of access to services and infrastructure.”As Macquarie agrees, any discussions around growth and housing in the Kiama region often stirs up emotion and controversy within the community. However, this EOI is not only an opportunity for landowners and developers to submit an application, but also for the community to share their views and ideas.“Although historically, there has been a push back against new housing in Kiama LGA, there is a growing understanding of the need for more housing to be provided in the community, particularly options that are price accessible to young people and service workers. Many people are okay with new housing, if it’s well planned, well designed and in the right locations,” elaborates Macquarie. Further information and to lodge an expression of interest, head to Kiama Council’s website before the deadline of 24 May 2024. 

Blue Haven Bonaira models defib rollout
Blue Haven Bonaira models defib rollout

19 May 2024, 11:00 PM

As Heart Week (6-12 May) raises awareness of how to keep our tickers in check, Member of Parliament for Kiama, Gareth Ward, and Blue Haven Bonaira resident, Mike Newcombe, are lobbying for a similar cause to ensure heart starters are strategically placed and maintained within our community. In 2023, Ward gave notice in Parliament of the Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) (Public Access) Bill, which would see defibrillators become mandatory in public buildings and transport. This bill would also aim to introduce mandatory registers of clearly marked and maintained defibrillators, as already stipulated in the United States, South Korea and 15 other European countries. The bill; however, lapsed in accordance with Standing Orders between Parliamentary sittings. A delay which could essentially be a matter of life and death. “On average, 3,800 people in New South Wales die from an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year. More than 70 percent could have been saved if they had access to a defibrillator. That figure is several times the national road toll. Put simply, this bill will save lives,” says Ward.“Defibrillators last about seven years, with ultra-portable defibrillators lasting about one year. It is concerning that one-fifth of PADs are non-functional when tested, potentially wasting time and worsening outcomes in time-critical cardiac arrest management. The current lack of regulation is contributing to avoidable deaths.”“South Australia has introduced similar measures, and I couldn’t think of a better time during Heart Week to give notice of this bill.”In the lead up to this year’s National Heart Week, Ward revived his intention to introduce the bill, which is yet to be debated or voted on in the Legislative Assembly. In the meantime, he has taken heart in visiting the model village Blue Haven Bonaira has become, with monumental efforts and fundraising made by Newcombe and fellow residents to roll out widespread state-of-the-art AEDs throughout every floor, and in other main thoroughfares within the retirement village. It was Newcombe’s son and local Senior Staff Specialist in Emergency and Retrieval Medicine, Mark Newcombe, who got the wheels in motion for this potentially life-saving upgrade to the facility, having queried the accessibility of AEDs when Newcombe, who has had a bypass himself, moved in approximately three years ago.“I wasn’t sure what an AED even was to start with,” chuckles Newcombe, a former engineer.“I checked with the committee that it was okay to look around, and there were none. There was one buried in the nursing home, I believe. But that was too far away from us. There are 59 units here, and often a couple of people in each one, yet no AED available. I told the committee we needed to do something about that, but in those days the cost was out of our reach to do it properly. They were around $3,000 each.”What Newcombe soon discovered after conducting his own research was an Australian TGA-approved product to recently hit the market, CellAED. Much more affordable and easier to house, transport and utilise, this discovery made approximately one year ago suddenly allowed the dream to become reality. “They are one-tenth of the cost, about $300-$400 roughly, and very simple to use. They just sit on a bracket on the wall with a sticker above it, and all you have to do is crack it open and place two pads onto the person,” says Newcombe, holding one comfortably in the palm of his hand. “The first step was then to decide how many we needed, keeping in mind they need to be placed in timely accessible locations. You have only got a very small window. Every minute that passes, the chance of recovery reduces. You have got to use it within the first five or so minutes otherwise you lose the patient.”Newcombe and his team calculated that 16 AEDs were required to cater for one on each of the four floors in all four buildings, along with additional installations in the garages, the café and the main hall. Having done the math on cost to install CellAED products in all required spaces, Newcombe took the figures and proposition to Kiama Council, as current owners of the premises.“Council generously chipped in a couple of thousand dollars. The rest has been funded by residents, including ongoing maintenance,” explains Newcombe.“Every AED is battery operated and must be serviced every year – because if that battery goes flat, they are useless. Each of these devices has a green light that will flash every minute or so, which means it is operational. If it is red, it says the battery is getting low. The sim inside it will contact its base every month and tell them that it is operational. If it fails for some reason, it tells them there is a problem and they send a new one out.“The next step is now training, because AEDs are of no use if somebody doesn’t know what they are or what they do, or have confidence in using them.”It certainly pays to have family in high and helpful places, with Necombe’s son sharing his medical know-how by delivering a training session for residents to gain confidence around when and how to use AEDs. “Lots of people have been worried about doing something wrong, but as soon as you put the pads on, it does an ECG first and then talks to you. It says ‘shock required’ and then does its thing. It determines how much shock is required – it will do shock one, and then two, and then three if necessary. It is very clever.”“They are meant for sudden cardiac arrest, which is different from a heart attack. Many people don’t know the difference. A heart attack can be described as a really bad pain, like somebody standing on your chest. Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart just stops. The person drops to the ground and is unconscious. This could be called a heart starter. It shocks the heart back into its rhythm again.”Fortunately, Blue Haven Bonaira residents haven’t had to use one of the CellAED devices yet, which Newcombe lightheartedly admits really would be, “the proof in the pudding.” However, this well-considered rollout provides peace of mind, particularly among an ageing demographic. Although, as Newcombe reiterates, sudden cardiac arrest can strike anyone of any age and any health status.“There are about 20,000 deaths in Australia every year from sudden cardiac arrest. There is no discriminatory age about it. It can even happen to infants, and a fair number of footballers have suddenly dropped on the field,” he cautions. Ward had advised Newcombe from the outset that if he was going to do this, he may as well do it properly - and Newcombe has gone above and beyond to do just that and more. Ward will be in attendance at the residential training on Friday 24 May, hopefully with a much anticipated update regarding the progress with his bill in Parliament. 

Comedy For a Cause fundraiser
Comedy For a Cause fundraiser

19 May 2024, 1:30 AM

The Kiama High School P&C Association is excited to announce our major fundraising event, Comedy for A Cause, which will be held on Friday, 31 May at 7:30 pm at the Kiama Leagues Club. Tickets are $40 each, which includes a free raffle ticket and can be bought at: https://comedyforacause.net/tc-events/kiamahs/. We are raising money for our school, and we need your help! The KHS P&C don’t often host fundraisers as we run the high school canteen. The profits from the canteen provides funding to students for representative sports and to the school directly, for items such as the COLA, school murals and arts programs.In recent years, our number of canteen volunteers has been critically low and we’ve had to employ more staff to cover the workload, which impacts our canteen profits and ultimately reduces the funding that we have available to offer the school.Just as importantly, we also need volunteers on our P&C committee in order to keep it (and the canteen) thriving as sadly, we have a number of retiring committee members this year. If we can’t keep the P&C operating, we risk losing the school canteen.This will have a huge impact on our kids because they love the canteen. In the words of our students:“I love the canteen because it’s open for everyone. If it’s a cold day, you can come and eat something warm.” “The canteen is a friendly, welcoming space where you can spend time at recess and lunch.”“The canteen team is always a highlight of my day! They always make me feel seen, comfortable and supported during the times when I’ve really needed it. Not only that, but the food is the BEST!” The welcoming atmosphere, which is mostly due to the wonderful Janelle, who works full-time preparing delicious meals for our students in the canteen. She’s a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear and a helping hand. Janelle really embodies the values of the school: respect, responsibility and excellence. She’s created not just a canteen but a positive space that enhances the well-being of our students, where all students and volunteers are welcome. It’s such a great space for our young people.We’re looking for people to join the P&C committee in the roles of President, and Vice-President. General members are also encouraged to join. We’d love you to join us! Whether it’s by attending our Comedy for A Cause evening or becoming a volunteer. We welcome all volunteers, whether you have a grandchild at the school, a neighbour or a friend, we encourage everyone who can spare a little time to reach out and help, either as a canteen volunteer or a P&C member.We look forward to seeing you at our fun Comedy for A Cause night on 31 May, or at our annual general meeting, which will be held in the high school library on 4 June at 6:30 pm.

Volunteer Judi Sandilands-Cincotta is busier than ever supporting the mental health of communities
Volunteer Judi Sandilands-Cincotta is busier than ever supporting the mental health of communities

19 May 2024, 12:00 AM

When Judi Sandilands-Cincotta retired from a decades long nursing career and moved from Sydney to Kiama for a seachange, she had no idea how busy she would be.Judi is a Guide Dogs NSW volunteer and her weekly calendar is fully booked through her work as a therapy dog handler with her five-year-old labrador Ollie. Judi and Ollie visit high schools, courts, libraries, police and ambulance stations across the region to provide smiles, support and comfort to those who need it most.Judi began volunteering in 2018 and has spent thousands of hours teaching and nurturing labradors as a puppy raiser. But in 2020 when COVID hit, the guide dogs training program went into lockdown. “COVID was a real shift for me,” says Judi. “Everything shut down at guide dogs and if you’ve ever tried to train a dog on zoom, well it’s just about impossible. I was fortunate that I was not a new handler, so I had a bit of experience behind me that served me well, but I found the technology difficult.” So, to maintain the training and discipline needed to be successful, Judi set up her garage to mirror external experiences for the dogs, including steps and water hazards. It was during this time that Ollie came into Judi’s life. Ollie was on the Guide Dog Pathways Program with another puppy raiser, but medical issues meant she was no longer suitable. Ollie was rehomed with Judi, who soon realised she would make a brilliant therapy dog, due to her gentle, calm, loving nature. Judi, a former clinical nurse consultant in mental health, knows how beneficial a therapy dog can be to wellbeing. Research has proven that patting a dog can release the feel-good chemicals serotonin and oxytocin, and reduce stress hormones like cortisol. Ollie is now one of the hardest working therapy dogs in the region, visiting Warilla High School’s wellbeing hub each week and spending time with students at Kiama and Bomaderry High every fortnight. After COVID, the need for mental health support in schools increased markedly, with anxiety among students and higher rates of school refusal on the rise. Staff at all three high schools describe Judi and Ollie as “superstars” for the volunteer work they do supporting kids who need a little bit of extra help navigating the challenges of school.Warilla High School’s head teacher of wellbeing, Natasha Clark, says having Judi and Ollie on site for the past three years has provided invaluable support to both students and staff.  Ollie keeps a close eye on her protege Shiko“Judi is amazing,” says Natasha. “Judi and Ollie are such an important part of our school, we consider them staff. Ollie has a school support dog vest, she gets her school photo taken, has a school ID and takes part in events like RUOK Day. Everyone just loves them.”The dynamic duo has now become a trio, with Judi introducing 11-month-old labrador pup Shiko - in training for the Guide Dog Pathways Program - to students so he can learn how to behave in busy environments with both children and adults. Natasha says the positive impact Judi and her dogs have had on students is invaluable and the benefits of the therapy dog program “endless”. “School can be stressful for students and teachers, but as soon as Judi, Ollie and Shiko walk in, everyone who crosses their path smiles,” says Natasha. “You just can’t help it, they bring so much joy. Patting Ollie or Shiko really calms people down. If a student is feeling overwhelmed or anxious, you see them relax within minutes when they are with the dogs. It refocuses them on something other than the big emotions they are feeling. “Once they are calm, we can start working with them to help with whatever it is they need. Having therapy dogs on site is mutually beneficial for everyone. It helps us as teachers to do our job better and I watch kids who are so upset just calm down straight away as soon as they see Ollie or Shiko.” Bomaderry High School student support officer, Marty Richardson, agrees. “We have a tutorial centre at Bomaderry for kids with anxiety or behavioural issues and Ollie and Shiko help them with their emotional regulation,” explains Marty. “If the kids need to see the school counsellor or deputy, we make sure Ollie goes in with them. The kids learn, through handling the dogs and training them, about trust and responsibility. Everyone loves Ollie and Shiko, and Judi too. If we could clone all three of them that would be so awesome. They are rockstars here at Bomaderry and how lucky are we to have them at our school?”It is a sentiment shared by Natasha, who recognises that not all schools have had the support needed to implement a therapy dog program.“We are so thankful for Judi and to have this program running in our school,” she says. “We had been wanting to do it for a very long time, but it was about finding the right person. We are very lucky to have found Judi, Ollie and Shiko. Everyone here can see the value that it brings to students and staff.”Judi says the therapy dogs program works because of the bond students and staff have built with her and the dogs and the training that has gone into ensuring Ollie and Shiko are suitable for school environments, which can be high energy and full of temptations like lunch boxes and ball games. “You need to make sure your handling skills are really good,” says Judi. “Ollie’s nature is so beautiful. She has the best temperament and I knew she would be helpful with students in school settings.”Shiko is a gentle giant, who loves attention. But Ollie keeps him in line and likes to remind the younger pup that she is the boss and the classroom is her domain.“I just love them,” says Cooper, a Year 12 student who visits the wellbeing hub during a free period to hang out with Judi, Ollie and Shiko.Judi takes her role as a puppy raiser, therapy dog handler and mentor to students very seriously and recognises it is a privilege to do volunteer work that she loves, even though she is busier than she ever was when she worked full-time.“I will often ask students to help me train Ollie or Shiko, by walking the dogs on lead and getting kids to ask them to sit or stay or leave food,” explains Judi. “They see how much better the dogs get at following commands through practice. Kids start to learn that it takes a lot of practice to get something right. The dogs show students that they might not get something right the first time, but they will get better with practice.”Judi says volunteering with Guide Dogs NSW, and in particular therapy dogs like Ollie, has changed her life.Ollie at Warilla High School's RUOK Day“Therapy Dogs is what I love,” says Judi. “Once a dog goes back to Guide Dogs NSW, you don’t get to see what they are capable of as an assistance dog because they are with their new owner. With therapy dogs you get to see the benefits immediately, and you get to interact with people in the community. My grandkids are in Sydney, so I love being around these young people in high schools.”Judi also recognises the benefits therapy dogs can provide to the wider community. Judi and Ollie were a welcome presence outside Westfield Bondi Junction, where they spent time with members of the public impacted by the horrific stabbings inside the centre just days earlier.“I can read my dogs. You spend hours and hours training them everyday,” explains Judi. “I knew that having a therapy dog like Ollie outside Westfield Bondi would be so beneficial for so many people. We didn’t speak to anyone about what happened, we were just there for people to come and pat or cuddle Ollie, or for kids to sit with Ollie while their parents spoke to the mental health volunteers on site. “I just knew in my heart that cuddles with Ollie was exactly what this community needed. When people are at their absolute lowest, that’s when we see the benefit of therapy dogs the most.”Judi and Ollie have also worked in disaster recovery centres after bushfires and floods, recently providing support at the Northern Illawarra flood recovery centre after torrential rain impacted communities across the region.The pair are part of the Canine Court Companion Program at Campbelltown Court, offering comfort to victims of domestic and family violence. They also pop in to local police and ambulance dispatch stations for ‘fly-in, fly-out visits’ so staff can have a pat, play and cuddle with Ollie. “It’s a distraction from the difficult things they have to deal with everyday,” explains Judi.Next month, Ollie and Judi will start volunteering at Lifeline Sylvania, where Ollie will sit with call centre volunteers and offer handshakes, hugs and support once a month. And, as if the dynamic duo are not busy enough, they will be at Shellharbour Library throughout August to read books with young people to celebrate Pawgust.Training a guide dog is expensive, around $50,000 for each puppy, and not all are guaranteed to become assistance dogs. Judi’s volunteer work as a puppy raiser and therapy dog handler ensures that all members of the community reap the rewards and benefits of the guide dogs program.“People have donated their hard-earned money towards that cost so I’m going to make sure I give 115 percent as a puppy raiser,” says Judi. “No dog is ever trained as a therapy dog. They all start on the guide dog pathway. But in the end, they choose the pathway themselves. I am so blessed that I have the opportunity to do this for people in my community and share the beautiful Ollie. And I know I have set Shiko up well for whoever receives him in the future. I may never meet them or see where he goes, but I know I finished what I started. I often tell this to students: ‘when you start something, see it through to the finish, don’t give up when it becomes hard’.”Judi, who has been nominated in this year’s NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards for her work with Therapy Dogs in schools, encourages anyone interested in volunteering to “just do it”. “Volunteering is such an important part of communities,” says Judi. “I get to use my skills, adapt what I have learned in my profession and translate it into supporting the mental health of young people, empowering them to get involved with their community. These kids see what I can bring to the table as an older person and I want them to think that they can do the same, everyone has something to offer. I always say ‘use what’s in your hand’.”What’s in Judi’s hand right now is treats for Ollie and Shiko, and she wouldn't have it any other way. 

Mountaineering in Laos… 2005: Part 1
Mountaineering in Laos… 2005: Part 1

18 May 2024, 11:00 PM

I was lost for words looking for an expression that would describe the ambience of Luang Prabang, so I drew on a phrase used by the French Colonialists when they occupied Indochina in the 19th century: ‘The Vietnamese planted the rice, the Cambodians tended to the rice but the Lao listened to it grow.”Some feel that this is a somewhat disparaging remark, implying that the Lao are lazy. But as someone who shared their lives, I feel that the French got it right. Their serenity and composure could be seen as laziness by those from the frenzied pace of the European industrial revolution.They merely displayed the effects of a deeply entrenched Buddhist culture. Here was the spiritual centre and base for the royal household. The tranquillity was palpable. The royal family was abolished in 1975, and Laos became a communist state. We took the bus from the capital Vientiane to Luang Prabang complete with all the chickens, pigs and a man with an AK-47 standing over us. He was to protect us from the serious separatists operating out of the mountains. This caused some concern but not as much as realising that the dirt road, which we were travelling on, was held in place by bamboo poles suspended over a bottomless gorge. This tested all my pretensions of having to ‘trust in the universe’! Our arrival was marked by a total lack of mayhem, which is found in most Asian towns. Everyone went around their usual daily chores against the backdrop of the magnificent architecture and the languid Mekong River. I noticed the stately bearing of the younger people, the women dressed in long sarongs and white blouses, their hair tied up on the top of their head amplifying their elegance.After booking into an old French Colonial guest house, we went searching for a guided trekking outfit. Being experienced global trekkers, we couldn’t wait to see what lay in those alluring limestone mountains. When checking in for this two-day walk, there was a lot of commotion made about my age (60). I could not understand this until I saw the physical shape of older women, who had spent their lives in the rice fields. They shuffled along with a pronounced sideway bend at their waists and seemed to be perennially tired.Our walk started out pleasantly enough, soft trails through the forest. But when we hit the steep climbs, the delight quickly turned to dismay. The trail, if you could see it over the long razor grass, was set at 30 degrees and in some places 45 degrees. In Europe or New Zealand, there would be set ropes for this gradient but all we had was bamboo trees and thick vines to hang onto. The surface was muddy and slippery. It was seriously challenging climbing in the hot steamy jungle, carrying a day’s water supply. At one point, I looked down to see myself covered with mud, blood and sweat. The tears were awaiting their turn. Descending was even worse, slipping and sliding on the edge of the trail exposing an abyss. At one stage, I lost it and let out a blood curdling scream and the worst obscenities one could imagine. (The sort of words that I learnt in the shearing shed and cattle camps of outback Queensland). That sent the hidden wild animals scattering as I tried to forget that tigers lurked in this location. Eventually, I found a piece of bark that I could sit on to slither down on my bum.Finally, we arrived at the Hmong village where we were to stay overnight. That night I slept the deepest sleep ever. The next day was a relaxed walk back, stopping at the famous Kuang Si falls with its clear turquoise waters.And, to think it was only the start of three amazing weeks.

Snap to it! Kiama-Shellharbour Camera Club Photography Exhibition
Snap to it! Kiama-Shellharbour Camera Club Photography Exhibition

18 May 2024, 9:25 AM

A convivial crowd converged on the Old Fire Station in Kiama on the chilly evening of Friday 17 May, for the opening of the 2024 Kiama-Shellharbour Camera Club exhibition.  The exhibition (of 38 photos) features the images of seven local photographers – Troy Williams, Phill Reece, Kevin O’Gorman, Nathan Miller, Rowan Hollingworth, Flavio Spedalieri and current Club President Linda Fury.  Nathan Miller with his stunning photo Galactic GuardianMs Fury explained that the event, “showcases the amazing work of some of our talented members, a number of whom are national award winners, and who have all put a great deal of work into their images”. The exhibition features nature studies, landscapes, seascapes, portraits and other subject matters and styles according to the photographers’ creative choices. Rowan Hollingworth with his incredible macro works - Lichen Splatter and Figtree Leaf StudyLinda Fury's lovely and vibrant images of Tasmania's Bridestowe Lavender FarmKiama Mayor Neil Reilly opened the exhibition enthusiastically, commenting on being, “astounded by the diversity of styles” on display. Also in attendance were Shellharbour Deputy Mayor Kellie Marsh, and Kiama Councillor Mark Croxford, alongside Shellharbour Mayor Chris Homer, who remarked that after the difficulties of the last few years it was, “fabulous to see arts and culture coming back to the fore”. Member for Kiama, Gareth Ward, spoke of the “beautiful vistas” on display and “how blessed we are to live in this part of the world”.  Chris Homer, exhibitors Flavio Spedalieri and Linda Fury, Neil Reilly, Gareth Ward MP, Kellie MarshThe Club was grateful to have received a Kiama Council Small Community Event Grant, which helped fund this year’s exhibition. Winners of the Council grants were required to demonstrate how the donation would:·        Benefit the Municipality of Kiama;·        Strengthen the Kiama community; and·        Contribute to Council’s goal of a socially just and inclusive community. Ms Fury, who has been President of the Club for over seven years (and a member for 15), said of the Club, now in its 60th year, “Our small and friendly club welcomes new members and offers them help and encouragement on their photographic journey”. Prospective new members can join or view further information via the Club’s webpage. Membership is $35 a year and includes:·        A members meeting on the first and third Wednesday of each month;·        A range of online monthly competitions – which are either open or themed. Recent themes have included ‘Minimalism’ and ‘Food and Drink’; and ·        group support and encouragement.The exhibition runs daily from 9:00am-5:00pm until Wednesday 22 May, at the Old Fire Station Kiama. 

More asset sales as Kiama Council tackles debt and liquidity issues
More asset sales as Kiama Council tackles debt and liquidity issues

18 May 2024, 6:58 AM

Charles Dickens’s character Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield warned of debt’s downside: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery”. While Kiama Council has suffered significant debt, pulling Blue Haven out of the general ledger and creating new yearly accounts for the last current and preceding financial years has created a surer course. Even so, there are still hard times ahead, as recent figures released by the Kiama Council’s Sustainable Communities Advisory Committee shows spending continues to exceed revenue.In part, this was due to an “extraordinary escalation” in contracts and materials – felt by most Councils across NSW - and a growth in depreciation with no growth in revenue. Materials and services costs increases, growth in depreciation with no growth in revenue.Whilst the council’s total cash position didn’t deteriorate in the last five years, mainly due to the sale of assets, the unrestricted cash balance (the thin purple line) – this is the money the council can spend today (liquidity) - remains very low.Unexpected outlays such as litigation fees, flood damage and more, are funded from unrestricted cash. Council’s negative unrestricted cash balance in 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.Blue Haven TerralongThe decision taken by Council about 40 years ago to move into residential aged care seemed like a good idea at the time. The Blue Haven businesses did not have a separate set of accounts. The council was navigating blind. Profit, loss and expenditure were all recorded in the general ledger.In 2022, the Council separated the ledger and created a new set of accounts for Blue Haven to establish the true profit and loss.Blue Haven Terralong in the redThe true financial position of Blue Haven Terralong and Bonaira combined for 2022-2023 is at a $2.54m loss for the financial year.The Sustainable Communities Advisory Committee’s report states over-investment in aged care and an under-performing return, and has caused “underinvestment in civic assets such as swimming pools, sports fields, surf clubs, stormwater, roads, mowing services, etc.”. This was in the context of the local sporting community needing more modern assets and to encourage female participation.Council’s unrestricted cash balance at 30 June 2023 was $2 million and would have been more except for the need to fund $5 million of landslide repair works.On 13 October 2022, Council voted to sell Blue Haven Bonaira Residential Aged Care Facility and the Bonaira Independent Living Units, but voted to retain Blue Haven Terralong. In light of new and more accurate figures, grounded in modern accounting methodology, the sale of Blue Haven Terralong looks key to resolving some of its financial issues. One strategy would be to resolve the sale after the September Council elections, in the hope of removing some of the Councillors who either don’t agree with the figures or place social justice issues above solvency.

Café quest
Café quest

18 May 2024, 1:00 AM

Last month, university students and best mates Fynn Cowen and Riley Nicholl, both  21, embarked on a mission to conquer Kiama's cafe scene by sipping their way through  30 cafés in just as many days. What inspired such an ambitious undertaking? "We’ve  always appreciated that Kiama has an abundance of cafes," they shared. "It got us  thinking about how many there actually were and how long it would take to try them all."  Their venture was not just a pursuit for their next caffeine hit, but also an exploration of  the town's culture and community. "This was our chance to experience new places and  meet new people," they added.  Cowen and Nicholl meticulously evaluated each café based on two crucial criteria. The  flavor of different types of caffeinated beverages and the ambience of the café itself.  "We focused on two main things: the taste of different coffees and the overall vibe,  including customer service, at different times of the day," the pair explained. The friends chose a different style of coffee at each location, making every visit unique. From off-menu delights like the ‘Espresso Tim Tam Shake’ at Moist ‘N’ Glazed, to heartfelt conversations with a DJ at Bouquiniste on their final day. Both found that each cafe offered its own memorable experience. Buskers outside Short Black Coffee Kiama raising money for a mental health charity while Burnetts On Barney's (Kiama’s Landscaping Hub) offered not only great coffee but also an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.  Of course, no quest is without its challenges. Juggling their mission with busy  schedules tested their commitment to the task. "As uni students working jobs, preparing for each visit was a bit of a logistical challenge," confessed the duo. Sometimes having to try coffees as early as 6:30am or as late as 9:00 pm. However, they agreed that finding cafés to visit wasn’t the hard part. “They're everywhere in Kiama!”  Reflecting on their 30-day journey, Cowen and Nicholl agreed that breaking away from the routine of visiting the same four or five spots repeatedly was a delightful change. "Every new coffee brought a smile to our faces, and we’ve come to appreciate the local scene even more."  If you are interested in learning more about the friends' café quest, you can get in touch with them directly at: [email protected].

Hoons beware as noise cameras in frame
Hoons beware as noise cameras in frame

18 May 2024, 1:00 AM

Sleepless Terralong Street residents want the state government to install new sound cameras next year, after enduring revving cars and motorbikes on the weekends.The NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and NSW Police are testing noise cameras in Wollongong and Bayside to detect the decibel level from passing cars and motorbikes.While the success of Destination Kiama means more than 1.3 million visitors passed through the municipality in the last year, success has come at a cost.Terralong Street resident Penny Montgomery says the noise from hoons revving their cars is staggering.“This is the noisiest place I’ve ever lived in. Residents are consistently woken after midnight by idiots revving their cars and tearing up and down Terralong Street,” she says.“They speed through Woolworths carpark and then belt past Blue Haven at 1:00 or 2:00 am. Noise cameras are a great idea. The sooner, the better.”Lizzie Mion lives across the road from Woolworths on Terralong Street, and says the cars and motorbikes keep her up at night.“They start at the roundabout (Havilah Place) and rev their engines on weekends until they scream. I don’t know why they do it. They must be from out of town.”Environment Minister Penny Sharpe said in April, pending the completion of the tests, the government will install sound technology cameras in NSW.“Car hoons are on notice. The NSW Government has heard the community’s concerns about noisy vehicles and is committed to sourcing and testing the most effective methods to deter anti-social behaviour on our roads,” she said.Aggressive young drivers spoil seaside tranquillity. Photo credit Traffic Technology Today.In New South Wales, the noise threshold from a car exhaust must not exceed 90 decibels and for motorbikes, 94 decibels.“The EPA is working closely with local councils, NSW Police and Transport for NSW on the trial, which will establish whether noise cameras are an effective method for identifying noisy vehicles,” says a NSW EPA spokesperson.The EPA can issue fines of $150 to $500 to individuals, while the police can issue a $206 fine for "operating a vehicle to produce unnecessary noise" – including performing a burnout or revving.Fines can also be issued for altering an exhaust or air intake to increase noise levels, while drivers can receive two demerit points and a $150 fine for "causing an offensive noise to be emitted from a sound system.”NSW police figures show the majority of drivers, who had their cars defected or impounded in the last three years, were young men aged 17-29.Hoon paying respects to the locals.A pilot study last year by Canadian psychologist, Dr Julie Aitken Schermer, published in Psychology Today, predicted young drivers with loud exhausts could be needy narcissists and sadists.“The results suggest individuals who make their vehicles loud may be doing so to deliberately hurt others by disturbing them …”To report ‘rev-heads’ and noisy exhausts, contact the EPA at: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/noise/vehicle-noise/reporting-noisy-vehicle-exhaust.

Make sure that you do your due diligence, local cybersecurity-event advises businesses
Make sure that you do your due diligence, local cybersecurity-event advises businesses

18 May 2024, 12:00 AM

The organisers of the recent IT&T Empowering Small Business: Cyber Security Awareness event (2 May) were surprised that so many business owners had made it to Novotel Wollongong in North Wollongong on this particularly rainy and dark Thursday.“We thought that a few of you might turn out with the bad weather out there,” said business support at IT&T, Anne Reeve. It was quite the contrary. There was almost 100 people (96 to be exact).Although, perhaps that’s no wonder with news about cyber security and -crimes making headlines almost daily. Who can forget about Medibank and Optus being victims of high-profile cyber attacks in 2022?In April of this year, the City of Sydney had data from several public institutions posted online. Now in May, a Sydney man was arrested over an alleged data breach impacting at least 17 licensed clubs in NSW and the ACT, ABC News reported. “The cyberhackers are starting to go for the low-hanging fruit, that’s small and medium-sized businesses,” said Partner Technology Strategist at Microsoft, Philip Meyer. Meyer was one of the night’s three speakers, along with Andrew Bremner of SherpaTech and Peter Eldon of Access4 Telecommunications.Among the most common cybercrimes affecting small-to medium-sized businesses are: email compromise, fraud compromise and bank fraud. In 2023, the Australian Cyber Security Centre revealed that, on average, a cybercrime report is made every six minutes. That is rather terrifying statistics, to put it mildly. But the idea behind tonight’s event is not to alarm business owners but rather to inform them how they can protect their businesses, but how they can utilise artificial intelligence (AI) without putting their data in danger; and to be aware of the implications of the new Privacy Act 2022.Helen Hasan runs a small non-for-profit, Living Connected, and has a few clients living in Kiama. “A little bit of information is always useful,” she said. “For us protecting older people, it’s important. Balancing between not scaring them, and making them aware.”She’s known about AI for a long while after attending university in the 1960’s. The first AI program was actually written in 1967, according to Meyer. ChatGTP launched in November 2022. But for all its wonderful features, Meyer cautioned against using it for work-based queries.“It’s great for mysterious travel planning and writing poems for my wife,” he said. “But please, don’t use it for work. All the data that you put in there becomes everyone’s data.”Meyer also recommended that business owners, with a staff of less than 300 people and who are PC-users, get Microsoft 365 Business Premium, as it includes several security features in addition to products such as Word and Teams.Bremner is an insurance specialist for tech and IT with SherpaTech. “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” he asked the room. “That is, increasing technical complexity, cyber threats and a tougher regulatory environment.”It’s not said to dampen the mood but rather to ensure that small business owners are across how they will be affected by Privacy Act 2022. The review of the act saw 116 recommendations, some have been fast-forwarded and some are waiting to be passed, he noted.In summary, “there’ll be three big builders,” Bremner outlined. “Lowering the dollar amount (which means that businesses with an annual turnover of less than $3 million will need to comply with the Act); fines and penalties (the maximum penalty that can now be applied for a serious or repeated breach will be increased from $2.5 million to the greater of: 1) $50 million, 2) three times the value of any benefit contained, and 3) 30 percent of the company's adjusted turnover in relevant period; and the reporting time threshold. Previously, if you had a material breach, you had to notify the regulator within 30 days - now, it’s 72 hours."

The Music Box by Jenny England
The Music Box by Jenny England

17 May 2024, 11:00 PM

It was the most unusual and intriguing music box I had ever laid eyes on, and I had seen quite a few in my twenty-five years as an antiques and curios dealer. Atop an exquisitely carved wooden box encasing the mechanism that produced the sound, sat an exquisitely crafted wooden clown with a rather deadly smirk on its face, clothed in a brightly coloured costume adorned with gold braid trimmings. It appeared to work by winding a handle on the side to make it play a whimsical tune with bells. I was allowed to try it but the tune was nothing I recognised. The moment I saw it in the auction room I knew I had to have it.     Despite being over a hundred years old, according to the listing in the auction catalogue, it was in excellent condition and the mechanism still worked. Its provenance was a little sketchy though – probably French but there was little else to provide clues to its origins. Provenance is important when dealing with antiques and curios so I approached the auctioneer to see if he had any more information     “It came from a deceased estate,” he began. “The name of the last owners was Carlyle. Such a tragedy,” he added. “I’ll provide you with the estate administrators' contact details, if you like.”    “Thanks, that would be great,” I replied, curious to know more. I was determined to buy it anyway. With little provenance, the price was going to be affordable I suspected.     The bidding went smoothly, and as there were only a couple of less enthusiastic bidders, I was soon heading back to the shop with my new treasure and a few other interesting bits and pieces.     There was really only one spot in the shop for my music box - in the middle of the front window display. I didn’t put a price on it. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure I wanted to sell it anyway but being in the window it was sure to capture the attention of passersby, who hopefully, would come inside and become customers.      “Oh, that was a real tragedy,” the estate administrator began when I contacted him the next day. “The entire family died in a disastrous house fire. Two very young children were deprived of a future and they were only just back from their trip of a lifetime to Europe. Such a waste.”     “Well, it’s actually the music box I bought at the auction and added to my collection that I am interested in. Do you know anything about it?” I asked, trying not to sound too disinterested in the awful circumstances by which I had acquired it. I vaguely remembered something in the news about a house fire recently but gave it no more thought.     “Oh, that creepy thing,” he replied, “One of the few items that survived the fire, heaven knows how. Sorry, I don’t know much about the music box except that I think they probably brought back from their trip.”     The music box was definitely creepy as he said but I was used to unusual things and had always been attracted to items that might be described as different, especially anything macabre. At times I did feel the strange clown’s eyes following me around the shop. The little bells he held in his hands would ring when someone entered the shop. As it turned out, rather than being annoying, the ringing of the bells was quite useful as it alerted me while I was busy online researching French music boxes to get some clues to their origin and history. I had already thoroughly inspected every bit of the box inside and out, looking for a makers’ mark or date to no avail.     As I was now quite certain that it had French origins, I started to search for information on music box makers around the time the auctioneer had suggested. It was then I came across an article in a French newspaper dated around 10 years ago. Although my French is a bit limited, I did manage to get the gist of it. It was a mysterious fire where a house burned down killing all its occupants. Only a strange music box survived the inferno. The photo attached to the article was a bit fuzzy but I could make out the silhouette of the music box and the distinctive clown. It had to be it! I instantly printed it out and arranged to take it to a friend, who was more fluent in the language and had connections in the antique market in France.       I am not sure if it was the smell of the smoke or the fire engine sirens that woke me abruptly from a deep sleep that night. Regardless, I was quickly out the window, carefully navigating my way down the rickety fire stairs in the dark. Thank heavens the old building that housed my shop and living quarters above it still had one, although it was in desperate need of repair.     Soon I was standing in the street wrapped in a blanket along with many of my neighbours, watching everything that mattered to me… the shop and all its wonderful antiques and curios, burn to the ground.     The source of the fire is still under investigation. An electrical fault, they suspect as the building was quite old and had not been maintained well enough, I was told by experts. But I had another idea that would have been too weird to share and no one would have believed me anyway. True to the history I had been discovering about it, once again, the music box was the only item in the shop that survived.     I often wonder why it spared me but I'll never know because as much as I still loved it, the music box went straight back to the auction house the very next day.

1-20 of 2249