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Bargain for Bonaira buyer as Council gets $11m
Bargain for Bonaira buyer as Council gets $11m

17 July 2024, 5:43 AM

The Kiama Council has sold the gold-plated Blue Haven Bonaira facility to Hall & Prior Aged Care for $95m on paper, but once deductions were made for entitlements and accommodation deposits, the net figure plummeted to around $26m.If one includes paying off the $15m TCorp debt, the council will pocket about $11m. Settlement is planned for 1 November 2024.To paraphrase the late Kerry Packer, the Kiama Council only comes along once in a businessman’s life.This will cut Kiama Councils’ debt, staunch year-on-year losses and fund its ballooning legal costs.MORE COURT ACTIONCouncil will also take the Bonaira builder Richard Crookes Construction to court, as the sale price had been affected by building defects, drainage and cladding issues.CEO Jane Stroud said the defects on the property’s value were too extensive to be ignored.The council’s current legal bills are just under $5m.The sale price was not affected by union or resident protests.Mayor Neil Reilly said the sale of Blue Haven Bonaira was a win for the community, the residents and the council.“The sale ensures that Blue Haven Bonaira continues to provide excellent care under the management of Hall & Prior Aged Care, while allowing us to focus on financial sustainability and service delivery,” Mayor Reilly said.Hall & Prior CEO Graeme Prior said no jobs or entitlements would be lost due to the sale.“We expect to hire up to 100 more staff over the next two years,” Mr Prior said.The sale buries one of the most acrimonious periods of the council’s history, with vocal residents trying to stop the sale, which set councillor against councillor.COST BLOW OUTThe cost of the Blue Haven Bonaira build was approximately $83m yet inflation and material costs blew this out to $107m (2022-23), yet some suggest the real cost was much higher.The stress on Bonaira residents and their families was not quantifiable.In September 2013, the plan was to build a $40m aged care centre. By July 2014 it had risen to $55m.By December 2014, the price had rocketed to $62.9m. By 2018, it had soared to $103m.Council borrowed $60m from TCorp and in total, spent $107m on construction. It used more than $20m of internal reserves and cash to fund shortfalls in construction costs.It is still unknown if tapping those reserves included monies from rate payers.Blue Haven Bonaira was completed in 2019 by Richard Crookes Constructions.BUNG ACCOUNTSThe cost blowout and ongoing operational losses, undermined the council’s budgets and caused a raft of severe knock-on problems.These included the discovery that council’s accounts were wrong and it could not accurately track where monies had come from or gone.The council used the Refundable Accommodation Deposits and Independent Living Unit to make initial payments to TCorp.Blue Haven Terralong was also going to be sold but was defeated by a single vote.It will remain in Council’s hands for the time being. The new NSW government Performance Improvement Order calls for a tighter rein on finances, to ensure rate revenue was not subsidising its operation.Apart from operating Blue Haven Terralong, the sale of Blue Haven Bonaira will allow the council to focus on the core business of providing local government services.Blue Haven Bonaira is a 134-bed residential aged care facility, which includes 59 Independent Living Units, the administration offices for Blue Haven Home Care Services, Matterson Hall, the Barroul House café, a chapel, a gym and a hair salon.Prior is the co-founder and CEO of Hall & Prior, a nationally recognised and respected leader in aged care delivery, quality and innovation. Founded in 1992 with a single family-owned nursing home.It now operates 13 residential aged care homes across Sydney and regional NSW, and 23 aged care homes in Western Australia and employs more than 3100 staff.

Jamberoo Mountain Road garbage dump
Jamberoo Mountain Road garbage dump

17 July 2024, 5:20 AM

A landslide halfway up Jamberoo Mountain Road meant it was blocked for more than a year, massively inconveniencing local residents and almost destroying the small enterprises of Jamberoo.The road reopened a year ago but the impacts of the severing of one of the main arteries between the coast and the highlands still linger. One local who commuted regularly up the road for work and to take his children to school in Robertson had to buy a second car and park it on the other side of the landslides, which he would hike past every day. He estimates that set him back some $12,000. As part of all this fiasco he claims Council trucks began dumping dirt from the road repairs at   the east side of the bus stop near the base of the mountains. There is still a sizable mound of rubbish there, by one estimate about 80 tonnes worth. The local gentleman, who does not wish his name published, is particularly concerned about the unsightly mound. He says he has made frequent complaints via email to the Council and had even met with the Council’s General Manager Jane Stroud over the issue, but the garbage remains. He says the mound began with the Council dumping rubbish from the road repairs, then attracted people dumping mattresses and other household material, and has since had further loads of dirt dumped over it. Now vegetation is growing all over it. “The rubbish has been there for two years,” he said. “They are saying it is too expensive to remove it. Surely, (a) you shouldn’t have dumped it there in the first place and (b) people are just dumping other rubbish there. “If we light a fire we have to fill out forms, get a permit, take pictures. They make sure we do the right thing.“The Council’s attitude is pretty disgusting in my eyes. I have sent eight emails and they haven’t responded to one of them. They are just terrible. We have met with the Council manager Jane Stroud. Nothing ever happens. They just fob you off. Their attitude is just not right.”In response to inquiries from The Bugle Kiama Council issued the following statement.“Kiama Council has stockpiled material from our 2022/23 emergency clearing and repairs to Jamberoo Mountain Road adjacent to the bus shelter at the bottom of the mountain.“The material had originally been planned to be removed by 2023; however, a series of urgent operational issues resulted in the removal being deferred.“Council is initiating an investigation and design project for improvement works on Jamberoo Mountain Road under the NSW Betterment Program and will be assessing if this stockpiled material can be used for improvements to the road. “Securing funding for these works has taken longer than anticipated.“If the material can be used for some of the Betterment works this will save ratepayers funds being spent on disposing of the stockpile at a waste or material recycling centre.“The stockpile does not contain contaminated material.“It is composed of soil, clay, rock, trees and pavement materials, which is only suitable for use on road reserves. The material is not creating any road safety or drainage problems.”

Local footy player signs with the Dragons
Local footy player signs with the Dragons

17 July 2024, 3:04 AM

Rising young sports star Koffi Brookfield signed a development contract with St George Illawarra Dragons in May.“She has been in the state school teams and we see a bright future for her. She’s a young hooker who’s going to play some Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership this year, so we wanted to reward her and get her into our NRLW system as possible,” said Dragon NRLW head coach Jamie Soward in a Dragons’ press release.Brookfield found out that she’s been signed with the Dragons close to the end of the Steelers Rep season. Soward pulled her aside during one Monday training session and chatted before handing her a piece of paper and asking if she’d like to become a development player for the NRLW 2024 season.“It was an awesome feeling,” says Brookfield.“I had trained so hard the previous season in and around the NRLW squad and Sowie. I was prepared and ready for a good season.” “Unfortunately, I injured my knee and worked twice as hard physically and mentally to get back to my best during and after my injury. That moment when he handed me the Development Contract made the struggles, frustrations and extra efforts all worth it. It refilled the tank to keep my focus and keep chasing my goal of playing NRLW.”Photo credit: Koffi Brookfield.Brookfield got into rugby, thanks to the enthusiasm of the male members of her family.“I remember playing in the backyard with my brother Jeff, how we would just tackle each other, and how it would be Jeff and I against my dad. I remember just having so much fun.”She played junior football with the Kiama Junior Knights, which began with the League tag and progressed into the Tackle Rugby League, once it became available for girls to play when Brookfield was 13. She loved it.“We all had the same interests in playing tackle, and for Kiama,” she says.She also pursued rugby league through school, having represented South Coast, Greater Southern and NSW CHS at the highest level.During the last week of May, Koffi joined the Dragons Rookie Camp where her 2024 season with the NRLW team began. There were two things that stood out in particular. “Definitely the mindset and self-confidence by Dan Haesler and female health by Jessica Stoll,” she says.Close to 23,000 people attended the Women's State of Origin III at Queensland Country Bank Stadium at the end of June. That can be compared with the around 7,000 people who saw the first Women's State of Origin at North Sydney Oval six years ago.“There’s been a bigger look on women’s games, which is amazing,” Brookfield says. “My experience has been great, as a player you have your highs and lows. I’m definitely thankful for my mum, dad and brother who got me through that. Overall, I don’t think I would change my experience for the world. I’ve loved it and can’t wait for more.”

To tell or not to tell
To tell or not to tell

17 July 2024, 1:30 AM

We’ve all encountered that tricky situation when a friend or family member asks our opinion about something, like “Does this look good on me? or What do you think of my new dress/jacket/shoes/hairstyle….?” Sometimes it places us in a dilemma - should we give honest feedback here or simply smile and give a thumbs up? In my family, growing up with four siblings (mostly girls) we told the bare truth - often! After I moved out of home and into shared accommodation, I noticed that other people were quite different. They were a lot more polite with each other and didn’t always reveal what they really thought.All habits die hard, and I recall many years ago expressing an opinion to an ex - that he had ‘pedestrian’ fashion sense. It wasn't an attempt to be cruel; it was simply the truth, and someone had to break it to him. I found his blind faith in labels and his obliviousness to style to be frustrating. He had no apparent pride in his wardrobe, only wore four colours, no stripes or patterns and had zero flair. His reaction? Let's just say it was less than enthusiastic. I will admit though, that from my perspective it was actually highly amusing. His response - at the time, and whenever I think back on it - causes me to choke back laughter. He kept repeating “pedestrian?” … “pedestrian!”  The word seemed to baffle him, as though I'd conjured up a term from a foreign language.  Was that honesty or insensitivity on my part? I feel no guilt, but the jury is still out.Consider: Would I have done him a favour by keeping forever quiet about his lack of style? I didn't think so. You could argue that some useful feedback is worthwhile and gives one an opportunity to see the reality and make improvements! My intention was pure; I aimed for neutral delivery but must have missed the mark.Does it matter? In the grand scheme of things, this might be the better question. I now wonder, “How honest and frank should we be with people - our family, our friends? When they try a new hairstyle that doesn't suit them, do we smile and say, “Lovely,” or do we tell them the truth?”Don't we have a responsibility to give our honest opinion to those we care about? If delivered kindly, I believe we do.Would I want the same honesty coming back at me? Well, that depends on the subject and who's giving the feedback! If I valued the person's knowledge and expertise and felt they were qualified to comment, then yes, I'd want to know what they think, hoping they’d be kind in their delivery. If they are merely opinionated and not qualified to give me some (re)direction, then they should probably keep their thoughts to themselves. So let’s just say that it is ‘situational specific’, and the safest approach, unless someone directly asks for your opinion, is to keep it to yourself - unless you’re very close, and even then, it’s tricky.So, should you be honest? Sure, but with a pinch of tact and a dash of empathy. After all, there’s a fine line between being truthful and being insensitive.I am betting that many of you will now go to evaluate your wardrobe to see if it could be described as pedestrian!

Men raise $13,000 for mental health with Sydney-to-Kiama walk
Men raise $13,000 for mental health with Sydney-to-Kiama walk

17 July 2024, 12:00 AM

The CEO of The Man Walk, Mark Burns, left his house one day to meet with the buyer of his caravan. Unbeknownst to Burns that buyer was Brad Halliwell who was planning to do a huge 120-km walk and was looking for a cause that he could raise money for. When they met that day, Halliwell asked Burns about The Man Walk hat he was wearing. Burns explained what it was and the rest is history.“He said, We’re going to walk from Sydney to Kiama and we want to raise money and donate it to The Man Walk. I said, mate that would be amazing,” said Burns. “That's how I met him, and yeah, he is the world's nicest bloke.”On July 18, Brad and 10 others will walk from the Sydney Opera House to the Kiama Blowhole, dedicating it to men’s mental health and they have already raised over $13,000.“Me and a mate last year decided that we'd do a 60-km walk just for fun and we had a few people ask us, Did you do it for charity? and we said, No. Come this year and we came up with an idea to double the length of that walk to 120-kms,” says Halliwell, adding,“We’re aiming to do it in 24 hours but we’re raising money for men’s mental health, and at the moment it's more about finishing it than anything else. So, aiming for 24 hours but completion is our real goal.”The $13,000 raised for The Man Walk will help support existing and new walks as well as fund the group’s ‘Mental Fitness for Teams’ which is a mental health training program.“It will help fund our mental health training … It’s a 90 minute, either online or face to face, mental fitness education program. So we fund that and offer it free to our members … and it's been really well received - we’ve trained almost 100 people in the last 7 or 8 months.”The Man Walk’s aim is to support men’s mental health through walking, talking and supporting one another in a healthy and regular way.“Activity, exercise outside, walking and talking, sharing stories … So many blokes out there are lonely. 1 in 3 Australian men are lonely. These are crazy stats on how many blokes out there who don't have someone to connect with. So The Man Walk offers that too, decreasing isolation and a sense of belonging.”During Halliwell’s training, which he has been doing most nights, he has found that exercise is such a great way to clear your head.“I think just getting out and going for a walk just helps lower stress. I know I have felt it, even training for this, you get out there and put your headphones on, if you're by yourself, and just go for gold,” says Halliwell.Halliwell’s initial aim for the walk was to raise $10,000, but he is already at $13,000 and still climbing. In addition to helping out The Man Walk with their training and the walks, it will also buy new merchandise that can inspire moments like the one Brad and Mark had when Brad caught sight of a hat with The Man Walk insignia written on it.You can still donate to Halliwell’s walk via his GoFundMe online. 

The role of local councillors in addressing housing and education policies to prevent suicide
The role of local councillors in addressing housing and education policies to prevent suicide

16 July 2024, 8:00 PM

Opinion by Lynne StrongAs lawmakers in New South Wales consider the profound impact of housing, health, and education policies on suicide rates, it becomes increasingly clear that our local councillors have a crucial role to play in this vital issue. The proposed suicide prevention legislation, promised by Mental Health Minister Rose Jackson, underscores the importance of addressing the social determinants of health that contribute to suicidal crises. This initiative aims to follow in the footsteps of successful legislation in South Australia and Japan, which have seen significant declines in suicide rates.The consultation process for this legislation has already begun, and it is essential that local councils actively participate and consider the potential impact of their policies on mental health.The proposed suicide prevention legislation represents a significant step towards addressing the social and economic factors that contribute to mental health crises. As community leaders, local councillors have a unique opportunity to influence these factors directly. By prioritising affordable housing, equitable education, community engagement, mental health services, lived experience, and economic stability, councillors can play a pivotal role in reducing suicide rates and improving overall community well-being.Our community's health and safety depend on the proactive efforts of our local leaders. It is crucial that councillors engage with the consultation process, advocate for comprehensive policies, and work tirelessly to create an environment where everyone has the support they need to thrive. By doing so, we can make a real difference in the lives of those at risk and build a stronger, more resilient community for all. Probing questionsHow can local councillors effectively advocate for affordable housing projects in our community?What specific partnerships with developers and community organisations can local councillors establish to ensure stable housing for all residents?In what ways can reducing housing instability directly impact the mental health of our community members?What types of community-building activities and support networks can local councillors promote to reduce social isolation?How can local councillors ensure that the voices of people with lived experience of suicidal distress are included in policy discussions?What mechanisms can be put in place to regularly gather and incorporate insights from those with lived experience into decision-making processes?How can the inclusion of lived experiences in policymaking lead to more effective suicide prevention strategies?

Ward congratulates Kiama Netball Association
Ward congratulates Kiama Netball Association

16 July 2024, 1:20 AM

On Monday July 15, Kiama MP Gareth Ward met with players, coaches and other members of the Kiama Netball Association (KNA) to congratulate them on their success at the State Championships.Meeting at the Kiama Netball Courts, Ward spoke with players and coaching staff from the U13’s, who were winners at this year's state championships, and the U12’s, who were runners up, praising Kiama’s sporting ability.The U13 winners with Gareth Ward“Kiama is a little town but we continue to punch well above our weight and I'm so proud, and the community is so proud, of what the team has achieved. It's a huge success to be recognised for your accomplishments and your skill at this level,” says Ward.Both teams believe it was the close-knit culture and their team spirit which got them through the gruelling 19 game weekend and was the secret to their success.“We were all in a hotel with each other so there was lots of time where we could have fun games and bond with each other. We had breakfast and dinner every morning and night together and got a big bus in from Kiama together,” says Manager of the U12’s team Anne Marie Esler.U12 runners up with Gareth Ward“We just had a lot of bonding, so the team spirit between each other meant across the court each girl stood by each other, they did their role and knew their role, it's like nearly a year's preparation and it all pulled off,” says Coach of the U13’s team Dave Whitchurch.Ward says that he finds so much joy in days like these where he gets to go and congratulate, in person, the people of this community who are doing so well.“I love saying well done to people who have represented our community well and we as a community can be proud of each and every one of the members of this team,” says Ward.“And I also want to commend, not just the coaches but also the parents who have supported them through this journey.”While he was at the Kiama Netball Courts on Monday, Ward also addressed concerns that the club had about the quality of their facilities.“Having good facilities locally is really important and I know that we need to look at an upgrade of the netball courts here and I’ve been talking to the club about that today and I look forward to supporting them in seeking funds to do that so that we can continue to see a new generation of netballers come along, succeed and continue to blast away the competition into the future,” says Ward.The Bugle wants to congratulate all players, coaching staff and members of the KNA as well as the parents who made it all happen.

Daisy covered in new coats for Winter Festival
Daisy covered in new coats for Winter Festival

16 July 2024, 1:04 AM

On Saturday July 13, during Kiama’s Winter Festival, the community was invited to paint Daisy the Decorated Dairy Cow at the Old Fire Station.The day marked a new chapter in the biography of Daisy and Kiama’s strange and endearing fascination with her.“It was packed, I reckon we probably had 500-600 people through here on Sunday and probably almost a thousand on Saturday. But poor old Daisy looks like she's got about ten layers of paint on her,” says Experience Art facilitator Michelle Springett. Springett inhabited the Old Fire Station during the festival inviting visitors to come inside and paint. Whether it be painting Daisy, painting the Kiama mural inside the building or just simply getting some paint and some paper and making something.“One person said, how nice is it that there's six or seven children around the cow painting, and they’re not home on their mobile phones? Yeah, it was really lovely. We’ve had kids hanging around here all weekend and not just adding one piece onto the mural but adding five, six, seven pieces to the mural,” says Springett.But it wasn’t only kids painting their magnum opuses onto Daisy, Kiama MP Gareth Ward stopped in to have a go at it and he says that the festival was an incredible success.“The festival was a success and I just want to congratulate Destination Kiama, Sally (Bursell) and her team, who did a terrific job and I’m just really pleased to have supported them in a request for a government grant to help make the festival a success,” says Ward.Ward says that although the festival brought in a lot of people, he is interested in garnering the response from the local businesses involved as it is important that they are benefitting from all these community events.“I’ll be interested to hear some feedback from small businesses in the main street specifically, as they have to pay ongoing rents and overheads. Just to make sure they did benefit out of it because we need to think about our small businesses and the impact on them,” says Ward.This article is another episode in the continuing saga of Daisy the Decorated Dairy Cow, you can find the previous article here.

Foxground author to interview Jane Caro at festival’s gala dinner
Foxground author to interview Jane Caro at festival’s gala dinner

16 July 2024, 12:20 AM

Foxground journalist and author Diana Plater has the “great privilege” of interviewing Jane Caro on Saturday night at the Kiama Readers’ Festival gala dinner! Diana, a former political reporter and war correspondent, will join Caro on stage at Kiama Leagues Club to discuss the Walkley Award winner’s wide and varied writing career. Caro is a regular newspaper columnist, social commentator and novelist, whose book The Mother explores the devastating impact of domestic violence on families. It is an issue Diana is keen to delve into when she interviews Caro, whose novel may be fictional but its topic - coercive control and family violence - is all too real for the one in four women who experience it. “I want to ask Jane why she thinks this keeps happening, and what can be done about it,” says Diana. As a fellow novelist, whose books look at our history, Diana is also keen to explore Caro’s passion for Queen Elizabeth I, the subject of her popular trilogy for young adult readers set in the 1500s.   “I also have elements of history in my books including my non-fiction and memoir and I find the research component absolutely fascinating,” says Diana. “But writing a novel is a lot harder than journalism. Anyone who thinks it’s easy to dash off a novel has no idea!” The writing process is another topic she’s likely to explore with Caro. Plater is in the midst of writing her second novel - The Cedar-getter’s Granddaughter - based on the South Coast in the 1800s.  “When the first British settlers colonised Sydney they started looking for timber,” explains Diana. “The Illawarra rainforest was full of Red Cedar and the cedar getters, who were escaped convicts or those with a ticket of leave, raced down here and started logging it. They had to be really secretive about where they found it, because it’s so valuable. The softness of the wood makes it ideal for furniture. By the 1830s it was nearly all cleared, and the cedar getters moved further north.” In the book, which she expects will be published next year, Diana recognises the role played by the South Coast’s Aboriginal communities, who helped the cedar getters find the timber to mill. As a journalist she spent several years working in the Kimberley and the Northern Territory and has paid tribute to the Aboriginal communities she worked alongside by giving them a voice in both her fiction and non-fiction writing.  “I feel honoured to have Aboriginal friends throughout my life who I have connected with, first as a journalist and storyteller, but most importantly through friendship.” Diana’s most recently published novel, Whale Rock, is based on her experience as a journalist living and working in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Diana reported on the aftermath of the Sandinista revolution, where a group of leftist revolutionary guerrillas and intellectuals overthrew the right-wing dictatorship in 1979. Diana, who has dual United States citizenship, was inspired to travel to the war-torn country after meeting a female soldier who joined the revolution and moved up through the ranks to become a commander.“I was working for AAP and interviewed a female commandant who was visiting Australia at the time,” explains Diana. “Her story and that of the revolution was fascinating so I spent three months learning Spanish, packed my bags, and went to Nicaragua to live for a year.” It was during this time that Diana began exploring the impacts of trauma and post-traumatic-stress disorder after meeting former soldiers suffering from the psychological effects of war.  “Whale Rock is about hidden trauma but it is ultimately a tale of redemption and rebirth,” says Diana. “It is about the serious issues facing Australia today; immigration, the state of the media, politics, the environment and giving First Nations People - particularly members of the Stolen Generations - a voice. But it’s also about love and friendship and dancing.”  Whale Rock was awarded Gold for Popular Literary Fiction in the 2019 Global EbookAwards. If you are lucky enough to have a ticket to the sold out session with Diana interviewing Jane Caro on Saturday night, take the time to also learn about Diana’s rich and varied writing.  Tickets are still available for most sessions: https://library.kiama.nsw.gov.au/Events/Adults-events/Kiama-Readers-Festival-2024

Council’s draft housing strategy ticks boxes for good growth
Council’s draft housing strategy ticks boxes for good growth

15 July 2024, 11:09 PM

The Kiama Council’s comprehensive draft Growth and Housing strategy meets state government housing directives and models housing planning, infrastructure and dwelling-size, based on demographic variables to the year 2044. The Kiama Local Government Area (LGA) is expected to grow to more than 31,000 people by 2044 and will need another 3456 dwellings to meet demand. The Kiama Growth and Housing strategy, ‘leading growth for good’ provides implementation plans to meet short-term targets and is flexible enough to input variables to meet long term goals. The draft document draws on previous work such as the Local Environment Plan, the Local Strategic Planning Statement 2020 and the Community Strategic Plan 2022-2023 and puts Kiama Council at the forefront of organisations who are serious about providing suitable housing. The council consulted more than 1600 people across the LGA, including businesses, students and young people. It has gathered and analysed numerous demographics, economic, social and environmental factors and variables. The shape of things to come will see more demand for smaller dwellings, including medium and high density housing in Kiama and Gerringong. There will be “more people, more jobs, more places to go and entertainment.” Even though there was considerable community debate about increases in density and building heights, according to the strategy, “density allows for the provision of housing supply that is well located and serviced, thereby reducing the need for greenfield expansion in locations not serviced and where infrastructure to support growth is not aligned.” According to the strategy the Kiama LGA (including the proposed greenfield release areas) has the capacity to accommodate an additional 4,985 dwellings. Some insights included: ·        the potential additional dwelling capacity across the LGA is assessed to be 9,002 lots/ dwellings (or 5,891 excluding the release areas) based on existing planning controls. ·        dual occupancy can potentially deliver 3,455, followed by residential flat at 1,583 dwellings. ·        subdivision potential, including already identified release area lands, can potentially deliver an additional 3,144 housing lots. There will be property developments in South Kiama and smaller developments in central Kiama and Gerringong. “It is expected the targets will be met by existing approval dwellings and land release, ongoing infill development in existing residential zoned land…” the draft strategy said. Approximately 500-600 lots are already provided through existing greenfield sites located at South Kiama, Jamberoo, Kiama Heights and other infill sites (potentially Havilah Place and the council’s administration building), were identified in in the council’s long term financial plan. There is every indication the council will meet the state government target of 900 homes to be built by 2029. While the Bombo Quarry development won’t be ready for development until after 2029, Boral is working with the state government and the council to move the development of the site along. The draft Growth and Housing strategy dictates that all property developments will have state supplied services, protection for environmental lands, a mix of growth options and boundaries maintained between urban interface and agricultural and coastal lands. The strategy also provides new figures on population ageing and worrying data of worsening inequity in the region. ·        The strategy recognises that the LGA has an ageing population with 36 per cent over 60 years of age and while an affluent area, 25 per cent of residents earn less than $400 a week. ·        Almost half of all households in Kiama are couple families without kids. ·        About 45 percent own their own home outright. Renters make up 17 per cent of total tenure share. ·        Approximately 32 percent of renter households are in housing stress – that’s when 30 per cent of house hold incomes goes towards housing costs - compared to 7 percent of homeowners. ·        According to the Property Council, there were 744 STRA properties in the LGA during May 2024. In 2021, there were 1701 unoccupied dwellings – some maybe STRAs – which represented 16 per cent of LGA housing stock. ·        The most unoccupied areas were in Gerringong, Gerroa and Werri Beach area at 24.4 per cent, which is significantly higher than the NSW average of 9.4 per cent. The strategy illuminated how unaffordable the area was for new entrants and this was, “seriously undermining socio-economic diversity, which underpins Kiama’s social fabric. People are moving out of the area because they cannot afford to live close to family or work.” Qualitative feedback by locals wanted council to protect the local environment and Kiama’s village and heritage aesthetic. There were a number of comments that the development approval process for property developers was not ‘fit for purpose’ and hurdles should be removed “Council is also committed to working collaboratively with the development industry including hosting regular developer and industry forums, working through roadblocks and impediments to supply…” the plan said. As one participant said, “Stop saying no, start conversations now.” The draft strategy will go to council and if endorsed, will be exhibited for public comment for 28 days.  

Personal Phone Use Restrictions in Childcare Centres
Personal Phone Use Restrictions in Childcare Centres

15 July 2024, 11:00 PM

It’s an ongoing debate within early childhood education.Some parents love being sent photographs of their little ones throughout the day. Others would prefer educators to focus on caring for their children.Across daycare centres and preschools, it has become normal — even expected — for parents to have access to an online app, such as Xplor or OWNA, which allows educators to post a feed of snapshots showing what their child is learning, playing and eating.But is it necessary — and what about digital safety?Now, the Federal, State and Territory Governments have come together to clarify guidelines for taking photos of children in childcare. Working with the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), long daycare centres, preschools and kindergartens are encouraged to adopt the new National Model Code and Guidelines. These are an interim measure while government child-care safety reforms are being worked out.The guidelines include restrictions on using personal electronics to take photographs of children — instead a “service-issued device” must be used. Personal electronic devices that can take or record images, including smartphones and smartwatches, should not be carried when providing early childhood care, unless for “essential purposes”, such as emergencies and health reasons. The guidelines also dictate how images are stored and the use of ‘inappropriate’ images. For example, if a child is in a state of undress.The ACECQA notes, there are benefits to taking photos of children to share with their families.“This type of communication can and does play a role in engaging families and carers in a child’s education and care experiences, particularly where there may be low levels of literacy or English is not a first language.” There are downsides. Constant documentation can ‘reduce educators’ ability to supervise, interact and engage with children.In Kiama, early childhood education services have already begun exploring their electronics policies, with the support of families. The Kiama Preschool use the OWNA childcare app to share updates but not to post photographs. Instead, every child has a scrapbook, which contains printed photographs of their activities. At the end of term, kids take the books home to show their families. Dido Street Early Learning Centre (ELC) road-tested a “no technology day”, during which the educators did not take any photographs of children, even on service-issued devices. The feedback from educators and children was positive.Staff reported feeling calmer without the distraction of needing to take photographs and were able to facilitate more meaningful interactions with the children.Dido Street ELC is exploring further opportunities to promote a healthy balance of technology-use in the centre with input from families.

The benefits of travelling with kids
The benefits of travelling with kids

15 July 2024, 8:00 PM

Taking time off isn't just for adults; it's just as crucial for children, especially in today's tech-heavy world. Here's why you should consider taking your kids on a journey to discover the wonders of our planet:Nature Nurtures the Mind - Engaging with nature has profound effects on mental well-being. Research shows that outdoor activities can calm the mind, elevate moods, improve focus, and stimulate cognitive functions. There's something magical about watching children play outside, trading their screens for the joy of a hike or a beach day.Cultural Connections - Travel introduces children to a variety of cultures and people, fostering gratitude and empathy. Experiencing how children in different parts of the world live, often with fewer material possessions, can teach our youngsters valuable lessons in appreciation and compassion. These encounters can profoundly shape their worldview and understanding.Strengthening Family Bonds - In our busy lives, quality family time often gets sidelined. Travel provides a unique opportunity to eliminate distractions and bring families closer together. Many parents notice how siblings bond better and create lasting memories during holidays, reinforcing family ties.The World as a Classroom - Travel is an exceptional educational tool, offering lessons in geography, languages, history, and more that far surpass what a textbook can provide. It's a learning experience that sparks curiosity, broadens horizons, and enhances understanding.Three Great Places to Travel with KidsAt Travel Focus Group, we have first-hand experience of taking our kids to the following incredible destinations, and we highly recommend them:Morocco - Morocco offers an exciting blend of cultural experiences, vibrant markets, and stunning landscapes. Families can explore the bustling souks of Marrakech, ride camels in the Sahara Desert, and visit the historic city of Fes. The diverse scenery, rich history, and unique cultural experiences make Morocco an unforgettable destination for children.Dubai, UAE - Dubai is a city of contrasts, combining ultramodern architecture with traditional Arabian culture. Kids will be thrilled by the futuristic skyline, enjoy the world's largest indoor theme park, and experience a desert safari. Visiting places like the Global Village, Palm Jumeirah, and the Burj Khalifa offers a mix of fun and educational experiences.Malaysia - Malaysia is a family-friendly destination with diverse attractions. Explore the vibrant city of Kuala Lumpur, visit the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, take a trip to the beautiful islands of Langkawi or even take the kids to Legoland. Malaysia's rich cultural heritage, delicious cuisine, and stunning natural scenery provide a well-rounded travel experience for kids.Travel not only enriches the minds of children but also strengthens family bonds and creates lifelong memories. If any of the reasons or destinations resonate with you, it's time to plan your next family adventure. Contact Travel Focus on 4209 2044 for personalised ideas that will educate, entertain, and connect your family in unforgettable ways.

Navigating the digital love jungle
Navigating the digital love jungle

15 July 2024, 7:00 AM

Dating is hard enough without navigating the online version of meeting a man - or woman, as the case may be. Since I'm female, I can speak from personal experience and observation, as well as insights from friends. I've also listened to comments from my male friends to provide a balanced view on how to approach this medium.I've been single since late 2017, tried most of the dating apps, gone on countless dates, and taken numerous breaks. So far the field has been left wanting. After a while, I try again. Why? Because finding a suitable partner is remarkably difficult, at any age. Despite attending a variety of social gatherings, concerts, comedies, etc. and talking to all sorts of people, having great friends, I still have not yet met anyone that I'd like to bring closer.Frankly, the whole idea of dating apps feels like being in a catalogue. But it's a case of "damned if you do, damned if you don't."A few months ago, a friend in the Illawarra encouraged me to try again, having met her match years ago on eHarmony. Another friend in Sydney met her man on Bumble. Both are exemplary couples!So, once again, I ventured out of my hiatus. Given my job, it's not difficult to imagine that I value words and images to convey a message. I furnished my profile with sufficient information to convey truth and attract interest. I populated it with a range of photos, including close-ups, action shots, and a full-length photo, aiming for transparency: "what you see is what you get."Recently, I met a man on a dating app - let's call him Dave - who showed interest. His banter was interesting and fun. However, he hadn’t put up a photo, which is usually a deal-breaker for me. Are these men clueless? The jury is still out, but I suspect so. Studies have shown that men are very visual, yet despite making minimal effort on their own appearance, they still seem to expect to find someone highly attractive to become their partner. Back to Dave - he claimed he didn't have any photos of himself. After some prompting, he finally sent me a low-res mugshot on his gym membership card. The honest truth: there was nothing whatsoever to recommend him - it was a blurry thumbnail shot. I felt little motivation to get to know him better. Is that harsh? Let’s be honest. Usually, these things start with some physical attraction. I suspect that many men click on multiple profiles just to see what comes back. Women generally do not operate in this way. However, it may account for the volume of ‘likes’ on my profile, but motivation to respond to the majority received is missing. Most women I have discussed this with, feel the same way. We are looking for quality and for someone to make an effort.To be successful on dating apps, effort is required in presenting yourself. Here’s my advice: regardless of your age, your profile images are critical. They are your 'marketing' photos and need to be accompanied by a great description to attract interest from your target audience.How do so many men miss this truism? The extraordinarily funny thing is the abundance of photos of men holding up fish! It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic. So, note well: "No fish photos." Afterall how many women do you know who truly like fishing?Here are more worthwhile tips:Don’t have your children in the photos. Don’t imitate Putin with a bare chest unless you look like Chris Hemsworth, and even then, it looks like you're trying too hard.No profile shot in the bathroom mirror. (you wouldn’t believe how many men do this).The same advice applies to women: no bikini shots unless you’re a swimsuit model, no obvious cleavage shots unless that’s the type of man you want to attract, and no heavy makeup - natural is key.Avoid the three-day growth unless it’s well-groomed like Hemsworth. Sorry - my obsession is showing! But honestly, George Clooney or Brad Pitt are more in my age-range, but I’m not expecting either to pop up soon. [I’m simply aiming for a well-groomed man who is fit and has something to say – that seems fair!]So to get the best photos my advice is to ask a talented friend (or a professional photographer) to take relaxed, smiling photos in various settings - close, far, action shots, with animals, in nature - but be honest. Don’t sit on a motorbike just to look cool. Now for the words: before filling in the boxes online, think hard about what you want to say about yourself and what you want. Capture the essence of what’s important to you, especially in a partner. Write a draft, remove any negativity - some people actually complain about past relationships in their profiles! That’s a huge 'no no.' Be positive about life and give insight into how you live it. Honesty is crucial. Wait a day, review again, show a friend, discuss, make edits, leave it another day, and review again.I'm sure it’s the same for men looking at women's profiles. People prefer honesty and authenticity. It’s unattractive to be negative, angry, rude, or unkind. I have read profiles that tick all four. If dating apps are how you’re meeting people, I wish you well and hope that these insights help.If there is a male out there that would like to share their online experience, please reach out!

Stopover in Dallas, 1996
Stopover in Dallas, 1996

15 July 2024, 2:30 AM

A popular remark during the 1960s and 70s was, “Apart from that, Mrs Kennedy, how was your trip to Dallas?” – a cruel reference to the assassination of John F Kennedy on 22 November 1963. In 1996, my father and brother joined me on a trip to Scotland to do genealogical research on the Orkneys, the home of our forebears. Because it was Dad’s first and only trip overseas, we allowed him to choose the stopover. To our surprise (and dismay), he chose Dallas.This was because he was an old cattleman from North Queensland who was raised on the black and white movies of the 30’s 40’s and 50’s, featuring the wild west of America with lots of cowboys wrangling longhorn cattle.Little did he know that Dallas is now an IT centre and the cattle were chased from the streets a long time ago. We set out to see ‘the sights’. When we asked at reception where we could catch the bus, the African American concierge looked condescendingly down his nose and said, ‘white folk don’t take the bus!’On finding out the fare of a cab to the CBD we informed him that ‘these white folk do take the bus’.When we clambered onto the bus it was clear that we were the only white folk. The locals were astonished and delighted at the same time. All on board were singing and rocking so of course we joined in, even Dad in his North Queensland Stetson. It was such a delightful trip.When we got to the Tourist Information Centre, it was smaller than a doctor’s surgery and manned by two very weary women. We were told that Dallas doesn’t actually need tourists.Begrudgingly, they gave us the option of seeing either the Book Depository from where JFK was assassinated, or the film site of the TV show Dallas. Dad chose the latter as he wanted to see a REAL Texas ranch.We arrived at the ranch, which was deserted, only to find that all the horses, cattle and ranch buildings were fake! They were made of plastic. Dad was appalled.At the plastic bar he asked for a genuine Texas steak. All they could deliver was Mexican bean soup. By this stage I was looking for a green space to run in, something like Hyde Park or Central Park with trees and grass. I could only see a patch of green from the top of the hotel around 10 km away; I set out for it. I eventually found the ‘park’ and commenced a jog on the grass when I saw a cavalry of golf buggies charging toward me, somewhat reminiscent of the Charge of the Light Brigade.When they reached me, they very politely but firmly pointed out that this was a private golf club. They also told me that there was ‘no such thing’ as public open spaces in Texas.When it came time to leave, I felt we hadn’t connected with the iconic cowboy culture… but I could certainly feel the ‘Live large. Think big’ way of life. The people we met were generous and amicable, and they actually loved the Australian accent, the last thing I expected anywhere.

Authorities urge the public to leave wildlife care to the professionals
Authorities urge the public to leave wildlife care to the professionals

15 July 2024, 1:00 AM

Authorities are reminding South Coast residents not to attempt caring for injured, sick, or orphaned native animals themselves. Instead, it is crucial to pass on the responsibility to the professionals to ensure the animal is given the correct medical treatment by a vet or qualified carer. Winter often causes an increase in incidents of wildlife road accidents, particularly involving wombats and kangaroos, it is critical these animals receive proper medical care. According to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) and WIRES, native animals have specific dietary and care needs that only trained professionals know how to meet. Attempts to rescue them can often worsen their condition. Though, these organisations acknowledge that people often have the best intentions in rescuing wildlife, attempting to do so without the correct information and expertise can often cause more harm than good. Only licensed wildlife carers or registered veterinarians can legally rehabilitate native animals under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.WIRES CEO, Leanne Taylor, emphasises the risks of incorrect care leading to poor outcomes for wildlife saying, “the best way for the community to help a native animal in need of human intervention is to contact their nearest wildlife rescue group or WIRES for advice and if needed, a trained and authorised wildlife carer can attend.” Residents encountering injured wildlife are urged to contact local wildlife groups, a veterinarian, or WIRES Rescue Office at 1300 094 737 for any assistance. Prompt intervention by trained carers ensures animals receive proper treatment and are prepared for eventual release back into the wild. For more information on how to respond to encounters with sick, injured or orphaned native animals, visit the NSW Government website. By seeking professional help promptly, the community can effectively support the well-being and conservation of native wildlife during the winter season.

Kiama Real Estate Agent Returns Home
Kiama Real Estate Agent Returns Home

14 July 2024, 11:00 PM

Kiama real estate agent Marnie Beauchamp has returned to the industry, and the town she loves, after stepping away for several years “to heal emotionally, physically and spiritually”.Several years ago, the successful business woman moved from Kiama to Sydney. A series of traumatic events and a mid-life evaluation prompted her to take stock of her life and make some changes, including writing a book, Unread Pages: The Silent Struggles Behind Every Success. The book is a raw account of her struggles, including losing both her parents, surviving financial ruin and two divorces, battling an eating disorder, undergoing spinal surgery and helping bring a stalker to justice, “which was pretty scary”.It is little wonder then that the self-confessed workaholic needed some time out from the daily grind of 15 hour days, seven days a week.“I went overseas, did solo road trips, I laid on the beach and I basically hid away from the world,” she laughs. But the break proved life-changing and reminded her how much she missed Kiama and the real estate industry. “It wasn’t the place that was the problem, it was the place I was in. By giving myself some space I was able to get clarity around where I wanted to be and it’s definitely here in Kiama. Sometimes you need to move away from something to really appreciate it.”Marnie had been working ridiculous hours “her whole adult life,” buying her first real estate agency at 27 while nursing a newborn. She juggled running a business and raising two young children for the next five years until her marriage broke down. When she decided to sell the business, the transaction went pear shaped and ended up in court. Marnie was being sued for damages and came out of the process “hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt from having to fight the claim”.“I lost everything,” she says. “Financially as well as physically, as my health deteriorated.”Marnie put her company, named after her daughters, into voluntary administration. But she couldn’t bring herself to declare bankruptcy or liquidate her business.  “I’m a fighter, I didn’t want to take the easy way out,” she says. “I decided to get back into it and pay every cent back. At the time, I had $1.76 to my name, that's how bad it was. I was sitting in the park and I couldn't even buy my girls an ice cream. It took me about five years to pay off the debt, but I did it.” Around the same time, Marnie’s beloved father passed away suddenly, at just 58 years old. Her dad was her inspiration to find the strength to rebuild her career and her life. Despite vowing to never open another business or franchise again, she did both in 2009, “starting from scratch”. Over the next several years she won a raft of awards, including business person of the year, most outstanding real estate agency, number one agent of the year, and business of the year. Marnie successfully “clawed herself out” of both debt and despair.“You only fail if you give up,” she says. “Failure has been the catalyst for the biggest successes in my life. If you want something bad enough you find a way. A lot of it is about mindset, you just have to be willing to do the hard yards.”Resilience is the underlying theme for Marnie’s book, a project she began working on after taking a career break from the real estate industry and moving away from Kiama in 2019.“For the last few years I haven’t done much at all,” she says. Not much at all for Marnie includes writing her book, industry coaching and business mentoring, guest appearances on business podcasts and, most recently, developing a performance-based app for the real estate industry.“Writing the book was cathartic and very emotional,” says Marnie. “Revisiting all the things I’ve been through was hard, but the book gave me the opportunity to breathe, reflect and think.”Marnie recently signed on with Belle Property and is back home in Kiama, her “happy place”.Marnie will launch her book at Belle Property Berry on August 8 at 6pm. All are welcome for book sales and signings. 

Leading by example: Active adventures for everyone
Leading by example: Active adventures for everyone

14 July 2024, 9:00 PM

As parents, we often find ourselves juggling multiple responsibilities, and never more so than during school holidays.Between work, household chores, and caring for our children, it can be challenging to prioritise physical activity.However, being a positive role model for our kids and maintaining our own health are essential. Here are some easy ways to help you stay active while spending quality time with your small people these holidays:Children learn by watching us. When they see us moving, they’re more likely to join in. Whether it’s a morning jog, a silly dance-off, or a yoga session, involve your kids and make it enjoyable. Find a park with outdoor fitness equipment. While your kids play on the swings or climb the jungle gym, you can sneak in a workout. Try pull-ups on the bars, step-ups on the benches, or even squats using your child as a weight! If you’re near a pool, take advantage of it. While your kids splash around, swim laps. It’s a fantastic full-body workout, and your kids will see that swimming isn’t just for play—it’s a valuable skill. When your kids ride their bikes or scooters on the track, join them - run alongside or power-walk. It’s an excellent way to get your heart rate up while enjoying the outdoors together.You don’t need expensive equipment to stay active. Grab a frisbee and head to the park. Frisbee is not only fun but also great for agility and coordination. Kick a footy or hit a tennis ball against a wall – turn it into a competition and see who can keep it going the longest. These simple activities engage everyone.Organise family games that involve movement. Tag, hide-and-seek, or a mini obstacle course in the backyard—these games keep everyone active and laughing and strengthen family bonds.Remember, consistency matters more than intensity. Even short bursts of activity add up over time. So, whether it’s a quick sprint or a leisurely walk, embrace the opportunity to move with your kids. Your health and their well-being will thank you.

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