High school students from Cooma have combined with a locally based, online fashion house in a colourful approach to tackling family violence.
The idea of a workplace ‘Colourathon’ is being trialed at Birdsnest in Cooma, with female students from Monaro High School preparing to launch the idea nationally in November.
New ‘Colourathon for Corporates’ kits come packed with everything a business will need to host their own event, broadening the community response to family violence.
Artistic change maker, Big hART is leading the collaboration under the banner of ‘Project O‘.
“Project O is a national program we run with young women aged 12 to 15, assisting them to build new skills and capacity and to learn how to be change makers,” says Genevieve Dugard, Project O National Director.
Project O started in the ‘family violence hotspot’ of North West Tasmania and has since been rolled out to Cooma, Roebourne WA, and Canberra.
“A colourathon is a colouring-in arts marathon,” Genevieve explains.
“An arts endurance event, where every hour of colouring-in is sponsored and raises money for trauma therapy services for young children fleeing violence and needing crises care.”
A colourathon at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra on November 30 will help launch the corporates kits being developed at Birdsnest by the twenty young women from Monaro High School.
“They roll out a play based therapy program in women’s shelters,” Genevieve says.
“The average age of a child fleeing violence is two and a half years old, through the fundraising we provide training in play based therapy which helps children who can’t talk or express their feelings like adults.”
The add on to Big hART’s Project O initiative for the Monaro girls is the opportunity to be mentored by the innovators and entrepreneurs that make up Birdsnest – winner of the ‘Best Online Customer Service Award’ at the Online Retail Industry Awards in 2015 and 2016 and BRW Australia’s 8th ‘Best Place to Work’ for companies with 100 employees or less in 2015.
Former IBM e-business consultant, Jane Cay is ‘head bird’.
“It’s such a great opportunity for them to realise that they can create change even when they are young and at school,” Jane says.
Students have been embedded in Jane’s company for a ten week period, mentored by staff in event management, product development, publicity, design, logistics, and a range of other business skills.
“It’s a massive company and it’s amazing that we are able to have workshops here,” says Brooke, one of the Project O students.
‘We are so lucky that we have this experience, to meet all of the staff and learn new things from them,” Brooke’s friend Georgia adds.
Both students say they have also been surprised to learn about the issue of family violence.
“It does happen in Cooma, I didn’t think it would happen in Cooma, it’s been a shock to me,” Georgia says.
“I hope this [The Colourathon] will show people that it is happening and it needs to stop,” Brooke says.
“Hopefully we raise money to help them [children] get through it and find more support through play based therapy,” Georgia adds.
Aside from the benefit to the community through programs like Project O and the Colourathon, Jane Cay believes it makes good business sense for corporates to get involved.
“People need to come to work feeling nurtured, and they need to look after themselves in order to be of service to anyone – whether that’s in the workplace or to their families,” Jane says.
“If the family environment is not a safe and nurturing place it’s very difficult to then come into a work place without that very basic foundation that humans need to operate.”
Thanks to About Regional members, Jeanette Westmore, Claire Blewett, Fay Deveril, and Fiona Cullen for supporting local story telling.
Leanne Atkinson sat on Snowy River Shire Council between 1999 and 2003 and has stood as a Labor candidate for the NSW Parliament in the seat of Bega a number of times since, she says it can feel like a ‘leap of faith’ when you first put your name forward for election.
“You really aren’t sure what you are doing at the beginning,” Ms Atkinson told About Regional.
“You need to get the message out about yourself and what differentiates you from other people.”
Ms Atkinson says she went into her first campaign with issues she felt connected to and could speak on.
“I was a young mum, and was very aware of the constraints there were for families in the area and what services were available for them,” she says.
“That was how I went into that first campaign, looking at services for families, for young people, ” she says.
Ms Atkinson says she never considered standing for council until a couple of people suggested it to her.
“I said I can’t see myself doing this, there are all those people sitting around that table, all that procedure, I couldn’t do that.
“The funny thing is that once you are elected you realise that you absolutely can be at that table,” Ms Atkinson says.
Ms Atkinson believes the role goes beyond the popular catchphrase of ‘roads, rubbish, and rates’.
“There are a lot of demands on Council, and the role a Councilor is to have a strategic view, to set the tone, and to set the direction,” she says.
“It’s really important to engage effectively with the community.”
The merger process, taking three council areas into one has left smaller communities concerned that they will be over looked by the big new entity shaped by the Baird – Berejiklian Government.
Leanne Atkinson believes it’s incumbent on the eleven new councilors to think beyond their own home town.
“Don’t focus just on the big towns, there are little communities where those people matter and are just as important as the people in the bigger towns,” she says.
“You have to be aware that you are there for the whole community.”
But there is some strategic advice from this Labor stalwart for smaller centres keen to see one of their own elected.
“I have a view that the amalgamations shouldn’t have been forced, but the fact is it’s amalgamated,” Ms Atkinson says.
“The community needs people who are going to move the shire forward in it’s new form.
“Maybe some smaller communities should get together and ask, who is the one person who could represent us well?” she says.
Find a candidate and get the community behind them seems to be the advice.
“I lived in Berridale for a while, and if it was me in a community like that, I’d be pulling people together and saying, okay we want representation on this council, who can we advocate for and increase our chances of getting someone elected,” Ms Atkinson suggests.
Reflecting on her council time, Ms Atkinson says it was one of the best experiences of her life, she is keen to see a diverse range of candidates stand for election on September 9.
“There were lots of little things that I would look at and think, we can do better than that.”
“If you are willing to work you’d be surprised at how much you can achieve,” Ms Atkinson says.
Long before Donald Trump turned America’s back on the Paris Agreement, Australian families decided that investing in solar energy for their homes and businesses made sense, in fact Australia has the highest take-up rate in the world.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritageis keen to build on that and have just been in the region, dropping in on towns where the take up of solar panels hasn’t been as great as it has been in other communities.
Free community seminars in Queanbeyan, Cooma, Eden and Ulladulla have helped “Demystify Solar Power’.
OEH staff were on hand to answer questions and lead discussion – explaining the different options for businesses and households wanting to switch to solar; saving money and saving the planet.
The Paris Agreement was part of the conversation that took place at these seminars, but this all happened just before Trump quite, not that I think the local response would have been different.
Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro, John Barilaro got a chance to goof off today (May 26) with the official opening of Stage 1 of the Cooma Lions Park upgrade.
Mr Barilaro left talk of nuclear power, council amalgamations, and the sale of Snowy Hydro behind as he tested the park’s new flying fox with Snowy Monaro Administrator, Dean Lynch.
The redeveloped Cooma Lions Park at Yallakool Road was officially opened today. There's a leash free dog area, improved seating and an adventure playground fitted out with a flying fox! Here is our Administrator Dean Lynch and Deputy Premier John Barilaro trying the flying fox.
The work is the first step of a big vision for the park on Yallakool Road, just north of the Cooma CBD.
Lions Club members and Snowy Monaro Regional Council have got the job done ready for winter; stage 1 includes landscaping, road and parking area improvements, fencing of a ‘leash free’ area for dogs, installation of a flying fox, and most importantly new playground equipment.
Cooma Lions say the upgrade is already popular with local families and no doubt will pull a crowd over the busy winter months.
An extraordinary 1,500 volunteer hours have gone into the project which has been looked after by Lions Club Project Manager Chris Reeks and Construction Manager John Britton.
Chris says, “Our ongoing aim is to bring the park into the 21st Century and provide an up-to-date fun and recreational facility.”
The dream of the club is to develop the site into an adventure playground, future works are likely to include additional car parking, construction of the next section of the Cooma North to Murrumbidgee walking/cycle path, as well as refurbishment and upgrade of the existing BMX circuit.
The club is also open to community suggestions for further upgrades.
Cooma Lions has a long association with the park having originally owned the site and carrying out the initial development before handing it over to Council to manage and maintain in 1986.
These works have been made possible by a grant under the NSW Government’s ClubGRANTS scheme.
*Content contributions from Cooma Lions and Snowy Monaro Regional Council
South East NSW is pitching itself as a new home for a range of Federal Government departments.
Following the political and media stink around the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra to Armidale, a Senate inquiry was established to investigate elements of the decision by Agriculture Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and local member for Armidale, the National’s Barnaby Joyce.
However, the work of the committee has been seen as bigger than just the issue of the APVMA as regional leaders look to fertilise a deeper discussion around moving public service jobs out of Canberra, all looking for a greater share of the $16.7 billion annual wages bill for their local economies.
All of the local submissions declared the region as an ideal location for Commonwealth investment and backed the idea of decentralisation.
In his submission, Snowy Monaro Administrator Dean Lynch spoke of the boost such a move would be for the local economy and pointed to an available workforce.
Andrew Greenway, from Eurobodalla Shire, highlighted lifestyle advantages and the benefits that had for staff retention.
Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain pointed to the region’s proximity to Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne and the private investment that would follow.
Senator McAllister says the terms of reference of her committee are narrow and focused on the APVMA decision, none the less local government and regional business organisations from around the country have seized on the opportunity to put a stake in the ground.
Among the 200 written submissions were councils from the Mallee, Longreach, Manning Valley, Colac, and the Spencer Gulf along with groups like Australian Wool Growers, NSW Business Chamber, the Winemakers Federation and the Country Women’s Association.
Listening to the live stream on Friday morning as Cr McBain spoke, Senator McAllister and fellow committee member Senator Bridget McKenzie seemed to encourage that wider discussion, moving beyond the APVMA.
All those on the call were asked if their region had been considered along with Armidale as a new base from the APVMA, all answered, “Not as far as I know” and the conversation quickly moved on.
Both senators went on to point to the separate but related process underway within the Turnbull Cabinet, where the Minster for Regional Development, Senator Fiona Nash is developing the Government’s broader decentralisation policy which will be released later this year.
“When government invests in community it breeds confidence,” Senator Nash said.
She went on to explain the process all Federal ministers are currently involved in, which asks them to detail the departments, entities or functions that might be suitable for relocation to a regional area.
“We are not going to leave any stone unturned in looking for those agencies that could be relocated to the regions for the benefit of the regions,” Senator Nash told the Press Club.
Danielle Mulholland, President of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils and Mayor of Kyogle, told Senator McAllister that she is keen for the government to better definition ‘the regions’.
At the moment a regional community is seen as being one that lives at least 150km from a capital city.
“That’s a really loose definition,” Cr Mulholland said.
She fears authentic regional communities might miss out with a 150km starting line.
Dean Lynch from Snowy Monaro, in fact contends that regional areas around the ACT should be “initial priorities” and that Cooma’s proximity would “facilitate an easier transition from existing to new workplaces” for Commonwealth staff.
As the phone panel’s assessment of decentralisation evolved on Friday, Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain said there also needed to be a synergy between the agency being relocated and the new host town for the process to be a win-win.
“From our point of view, it would have to be an agency or a department that had a natural fit with our area,” Cr McBain told the Senate committee.
From a Eurobodalla perspective, Business Development boss, Andrew Greenway believes that includes agencies responsible for regional communications, marine services, sciences and safety, regional development, regional transport, aged care, tourism, and education.
“We are going to have a big conversation around this over the next six months,” Senator McKenzie said.
All those on the call encouraged the two Senators in their suggestion that there should be a parliamentary committee formed with broader terms of reference than their own to fully develop a transparent and fair criteria and assessment process around decentralisation – the suggestion being, to avoid the allegation of political pork barrelling that has been leveled at Barnaby Joyce in the APVMA decision.
The findings of Senator McAllister’s committee will be delivered in June, it’s understood Turnbull Cabinet ministers have until August to complete their departmental reviews and report back to Senator Nash.
With 83% of Commonwealth employment located in Canberra or the five largest Australian cities, the potential of shifting some of that into regional areas is huge, hence the level of interest. In the Bega Valley’s submission, Cr McBain points to NSW Government data that estimates for each public sector job in a regional area, two jobs are created in the private sector.
However, “Government can’t fix everything,” warned Senator Nash at the Press Club, signaling that the Turnbull Government would be looking to partnerships with local government and the community more broadly as decentralisation rolls out.
It would appear that regional Australia is interested to know more and ready to play its part.
Disclaimer: Author is part time media officer for Bega Valley Shire Council
Mark Fleming, from OEH said the seminars will explain in plain-English the different types of solar technology available and the trends in solar power use in Australia and around the world.
“We had such a positive response to the last seminars that we are again encouraging people to come along and get the info they need to make decisions that are best for their circumstances,” Mr Fleming said.
“We’ll also explain the different options available for local businesses wanting to switch to solar and save money on bills.
“Businesses and households often get unsolicited approaches from companies wanting to install solar panels and while most people agree that solar is a good thing, it’s hard to compare these offers.
“At the seminars, you’ll find out the exact questions you should ask suppliers if you are thinking about installing solar panels,” said Mr Fleming.
Mark Fleming talks to About Regional, click play…
Around 800 people attended the seminars held last year across the region and since then more than 50% of those surveys have either installed solar or are in the process of getting quotes.
“Our goals to make people comfortable to ask the questions on their minds and leave with a much clearer understanding as to if solar is right for them,” Mr Fleming said.
Tuesday, 16 May 2017, 2:00pm to 4:30pm @ Queanbeyan City Library, Rutledge St, Queanbeyan.
Wednesday, 17 May 2017, 8:30am to 11:00am @ Alpine Hotel, Sharp Street, Cooma
Wednesday, 17 May 2017, 2:00pm to 4:00pm @ Eden Fishermen’s Club, Imlay Street Eden
Thursday, 18 May 2017, 1:00pm to 3:30pm @ Milton Ulladulla Ex-Servos Club, Princes Highway, Ulladulla.