The medicine of music on the streets of Cooma – the Australian National Busking Championships

Sharon White, “Music is healing.” Photo: Ian Campbell.
Sharon White, “Music is healing.” Photo: Ian Campbell.

The recent Australian National Busking Championships were more than a tourism and commerce promo for the Monaro.

Sure, the tills were ringing, but for those who stopped to listen and watch the 180-odd performers dotted around Cooma’s CBD, something more valuable was at play – the joy and medicine of music.

Despite the grandiose name, this year was the first time the Championships were a truly national affair.

Throughout 2017, Rotary Clubs along the East Coast staged their own regional heats, culminating in a Cooma showdown on the first weekend in November.

The best buskers from Noosa, Stanthorpe, Ballarat, Wangaratta, Narooma, and Berry competed across a range of categories.

The top prize of $2000 went to Ballarat’s one-man band, Geoffrey Williams. The Rhythm Hunters from Narooma Primary School won the crowd vote and $1000 – their drums and spunk were hard to walk past.

Cooma music teacher Allan Spencer and his comrades from Cooma Rotary got the momentum rolling and are rightly proud of their ‘baby’ six years after it started as a Cooma only event.

“Yeah we’ve got some wonderful stories,” Allan says.

“There’s Canberra’s Guyy Lilleyman, who won in 2013 and 2014, and on the strength of 2013, he was picked up by an agent and he had a tour of South Africa.

“He went on to complete a 10-week tour of Afghanistan, entertaining Australian and NATO troops,” he says.

There is an art to pulling a crowd on a busy street of passers-by who are perhaps more intent on getting the day’s groceries than stopping to listen to some tunes.

Being cute, loud, and colourful is worthy and part of the festival’s appeal but what unfolds in Cooma is a genuine celebration of music and those who share it with us.

#Narooma Rhythm Hunters from Narooma Primary School, contenders at the Australian National Busking Championships in #Cooma.Ian

Posted by About Regional on Friday, 3 November 2017

 

Sharon White, a singer-songwriter from Sydney, remembers coming to Cooma as a kid on holidays.

Her powerful voice sitting on a milk crate in front of the fish and chips shop on Sharp Street called me over from the big trees of Centennial Park.

Stopping to listen I realised there was more to this little lady with a cane.

The lyrics she sings speak of love, loss, hurt, recovery, and release.

“She’s got a story to tell,” the couple next to me says to each other.

Sharon didn’t win any of the awards that day – the fact that she is alive seems to be Sharon’s prize.

“I write all my own songs, and events like this are good for original material,” Sharon says.

“There are a few people here playing covers, and they’ll probably get the people in, but my stuff is personal.”

Sharon White, “I am already a winner.” Photo: Ian Campbell.
Sharon White, “I am already a winner.” Photo: Ian Campbell.

Sharon says she comes from a musical family.

“My great-grandmother was Sydney’s second-best opera singer,” she says.

“I’ve got her voice.”

Dame Nellie Melba was the only voice better than her great-grandmothers according to Sharon.

“I just do what I do because I love it,” Sharon smiles.

“I write about life experiences, everything that happens in my life, I’ll probably write a song about talking to you!”

At the suggestion that music might have a healing effect in her life, Sharon pulls a pink, polished gemstone from her pocket with the word ‘healing’ engraved across its surface. A lucky stone that pushes her on.

“I lost my brother and I sort of lost myself for a little while, I was messed up, too much alcohol,” Sharon starts to explain.

“And my son said to me one day – if I lose you, I’ll have no one, so I said okay, I’ll fix myself up.”

The song “I am Gonna Fly” from Sharon’s homemade album “The Naked Truth” was born of that time.

“I sing that song now with a smile because it’s now a recovery song, it gives me strength and I think of my son and brother,” Sharon says.

“It makes me go on.”

The walking stick that helps Sharon cart her amp and guitar around Cooma’s CBD is a reminder of a car accident that almost claimed Sharon’s life, another time when music played its healing tune.

“I don’t even know it [music]’s there, I just do this,” Sharon says.

“I come up with songs all the time, it feels good to create something that wasn’t there before.”

Another song “I am Going to Nashville” points to where Sharon hopes her music and a few coins in her guitar case will take her one day.

“In Sydney, I can make about $300 in three hours,” she says.

While it was a fella from Ballarat and a bunch of kids from Narooma that claimed the big prizes at the Australian National Busking Championships, Sharon says the festival has been a great opportunity to share her music.

“It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, I’ve already won – I have my life and I have my songs,” Sharon says.

Sharon has auditioned for the upcoming season of the TV talent show “The Voice”, she’s waiting to hear if she has made it through to the next round.

Cooma will be cheering you on Sharon!

*This article was originally published to Riot ACT

“Seeing my designs on the runway will drive me to do it again.”- Cooma’s Charly Thorn

Charly Thorn, back home in Cooma. Photo: Ian Campbell
Charly Thorn, back home in Cooma. Photo: Ian Campbell

Cooma fashion designer Charly Thorn says she is happy to be sleeping in her own bed again after plying an international catwalk but is hungry for more.

India is the next stop for this ambitious 18-year-old.

The opportunity to leave her Snowy Monaro home was forged at FashFest in Canberra this time last year, an industry scout spotted Charly’s talent and offered her a spot at Vancouver Fashion Week in Canada – if she could raise the money to get there and create a spring/summer collection.

Cooma turned out to make sure the opportunity didn’t pass her by with a fashion show fundraiser held earlier this year to supplement Charly’s savings while working at the town’s Thai restaurant and at the online fashion house Birdsnest.

Part of Charly's Vancouver collection, the teal top is Merino wool, the skirt is made of silk. Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography
Part of Charly’s Vancouver collection, the teal top is Merino wool, the skirt is made of silk. See the full collection HERE. Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography

In Vancouver, Charly’s designs were the first to stride out before an audience of media and international buyers – Charly was the opening event.

“It was such a thrill, seeing my creations walk down a runway together as a collection,” she says.

“It was exhilarating after all that work to get there.”

New York was added to the travel schedule, her youth and ability the ticket.

“I grabbed an awesome opportunity in New York, there was a day at Parsons School for Design, which is where I have always wanted to go, my dream school,” Charly says.

The collection Charly presented in Canada was a mix of her two homes – Hamilton Island off Queensland’s tropical coast and Cooma, a stone throw from Australia’s highest peak and coldest temperatures.

Since she was a baby, Charly’s year has been split between the families snow business – Village Ski Hire in Cooma during winter and another life and business on Hamilton Island in the warmer months.

It’s a lifestyle that gave birth to, until now, an unlikely connection – holiday time resort wear meets Merino wool, an idea that attracted positive coverage from fashion bible Vogue.

“It was a real contrast for people and challenged what they think of when they think wool – lots of beachwear, very floaty – a juxtaposition that puts wool on the beach or beside the pool,” Charly says.

“It works though, wool is so breathable, it’s really nice to wear, and at the end of its life when you throw it out it’s not going to hurt the environment.

“To be able to showcase Australian wool, alongside other natural fibres like linen and silk, on an international stage is awesome,” Charly says.

Part of Charly's Vancouver collection, featuring linen printed in Sydney. Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography
Part of Charly’s Vancouver collection, featuring linen printed in Sydney. See the full collection HERE.  Photo: Robyn Damianos Photography

The colour and cut of the cloth wasn’t the only point of interest in Charly’s travels, the 18-year-old’s passion for the Monaro’s fibre lead to conversations at Parsons around the marketing and production of wool.

“It was really interesting to see the comparison between the Australian wool industry and what America wants to make of their wool industry.”

“America is talking about localising wool, not just production on local farms but also the milling, dyeing, and manufacturing side of the business in local factories.

“I really hope Australia follows that trend, because at the moment once wool leaves Australian farms it goes to China to be dyed and go through a fabric mill, and then we buy it back from them for manufacturing,” Charly explains.

“It’s really tricky to track wool once it leaves the farm.

“Food has already done it, people want to know where their products come from,” Charly says.

Still coming down off her high, Charly is considering her next move.

“To be in the middle of all those creatives is what I live for,” Charly says.

“So I’ve applied for a couple of international scholarships, and to colleges and universities here, I am just waiting to hear back.”

In the meantime, work as a trainee at Birdsnest has opened a door to travel to India in December.

“Every year they visit their suppliers and I just said can I come with you? I’ll pay my way, I just want to come and watch,” Charly says.

The experience in Vancouver and New York has left her hungry for more and it’s impossible not to believe 2018 will be the start of so much more for Charly Thorn and her homespun unique inspirations.

“Seeing my designs come to life on the runway will drive me to do it again and again.”

*About Regional content happens because of the contributions of members including – Tathra Beach House Appartments, Four Winds Bermagui, Kate Liston-Mills, Kym Mogeridge, Pam Murray, Jo Saccomani, and Doug Reckord. Thank you!

Cooma MotorFest shines bright on a HUGE weekend

My car sits in the driveway at home covered by dust day in day out, rain is the only thing that gets my Subaru sparkling. A couple of hours at Cooma MotorFest on Saturday (Nov 4) is not going to change that but it has left its mark.

Brilliant blue Monaro skies backed the hard work of the Cooma Car Club and other local service groups; it was a magic day, not just for rev heads but for anyone that appreciates hard work, style, colour, and nostalgia.

This bi-annual event raises money for local charities and draws around 3000 people to Cooma Showground, not to mention car, truck, and machinery clubs from Canberra, the Far South Coast, and southern Monaro.

MotorFest is one of the anchor events for Cooma’s biggest weekend of the year – a weekend that also incorporates The Australian National Busking Championships and The Snowy Ride for the Steven Walter Foundation.

Cooma has extra buzz about it on the first weekend in November.

Capturing the hundreds of cars, trucks, and machines lined up on Cooma’s lush exhibition space is impossible, you’ll have to make sure you come along next time and see it all for yourself.

A few of my favourites were the Monaro, the “32 CDAN” and a hot red Mustang – any memories here for you?

How great that men, women, and families hang on to and protect this social history.

Cooma MotorFest is so much more than a “show’n’shine”.

Hope you enjoy the pics, more to come.

It wouldn't be a car show in Cooma without a Monaro! This 1969 Holden Monaro GTS was a crowd pleaser. Photo: Ian Campbell
It wouldn’t be a car show on the Monaro without a Monaro! This 1969 Holden Monaro HT GTS was a crowd pleaser. The car and the region are pronounced differently however. Monaro is said to be the Aboriginal word for ‘high plateau’ or ‘high plain’ or ‘treeless plain’. Photo: Ian Campbell
The HT Monaro marked the phasing out of the 5.0-litre Chevrolet V8 that featured in earlier models, and the introduction of Holden's own locally made V8 engines. Photo: Ian Campbell
The HT Monaro marked the phasing out of the 5.0-litre Chevrolet V8 that featured in earlier models, and the introduction of Holden’s own locally made V8 engines. Photo: Ian Campbell
According to Monaro car enthusiast Greg Wapling, a member of Holden's desugn team named the Monaro. "Noel Bedford, was driving through Cooma on holiday when a sign on the council offices took his eye. "It said Monaro County Council, n western-type lettering that reminded him of 'Marlboro Country', and fitted with the cars American styling and image. The car and the region are pronounced differently however. Monaro' is said to be the Aboriginal word for 'high plateau' or 'high plain' or 'treeless plain'. Photo: Ian Campbell
According to Monaro car enthusiast Greg Wapling, it was a member of Holden’s design team named the Monaro. Noel Bedford, was driving through Cooma on holiday when a sign on the council offices took his eye. It said Monaro County Council, in western-type lettering that reminded him of ‘Marlboro Country’, and fitted with the cars American styling and image.  Photo: Ian Campbell
Greg Wapling writes, in 1969, the Holden Dealer Team Monaro's came first (Bond/Roberts) and third (West/Brock) in the Bathurst 500. Photo: Ian Campbell
Greg Wapling writes, that in 1969, the Holden Dealer Team’s Monaros came first (Bond/Roberts) and third (West/Brock) in the Bathurst 500. Photo: Ian Campbell

This 1932 Ford Tudor was the jewel in the crowd at Cooma Showground for MotorFest 2017. Photo: Ian Campbell
This 1932 Ford Tudor was the jewel in the crown at Cooma Showground for MotorFest 2017. Photo: Ian Campbell
Look but don't touch! A sunny day showed this one off beautifully.Photo: Ian Campbell
Look but don’t touch! A sunny day showed this one off beautifully. Photo: Ian Campbell
The workmanship inside and out is jaw dropping. Photo: Ian Campbell
The workmanship inside and out is jaw-dropping. Photo: Ian Campbell
When first released in 1932, prices ranged between $495U.S and $650U.S, these days - priceless. Photo: Ian Campbell
When first released in 1932, prices ranged between $495U.S and $650U.S, these days – priceless. Photo: Ian Campbell

Ford released it's Mustang concept car in 1963, it was released on to the market in 1964. The original shape, style, and attitude continues to inspire the Mustang of today. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Ford released its Mustang concept car in 1963, it was released on to the market in 1964. The original shape, style, and attitude continues to inspire the Mustang of today. Photo: Ian Campbell.
The care and attention to detail the owners of these cars display is mind blowing. Photo: Ian Campbell
The care and attention to detail the owners of these cars display is mind-blowing. Photo: Ian Campbell
Wouldn't you just love to!? Photo: Ian Campbell
Wouldn’t you just love to!? Photo: Ian Campbell
How do you do that? Make a car engine shine and sparkle? Photo: Ian Campbell
How do you do that? Make a car engine shine and sparkle? Photo: Ian Campbell

*About Regional content is supported by the contributions of members, thank you to – Kiah Wilderness Tours, Alexandra Mayers, Amanda Stroud, Olwen Morris, Deborah Dixon, and Maria Linkenbagh.

 

Small communities represented on new Snowy Monaro Regional Council

Lynley Miners. Photo: Keva Gocher ABC Rural
Lynley Miners. Photo: Keva Gocher ABC Rural

Small towns have made their presence felt after the first flush of counting in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council election.

Just over 10,200 of yesterday’s votes have been counted at this point, with 11 new councillor positions to be decided from a field of 27 candidates.

Former Bombala Mayor and grazier Bob Stewart has polled the most votes with 1,447, followed by Adaminaby livestock carrier, Lynley Miners (1,364), and 23-year-old apprentice carpenter James ‘Boo’ Ewart from Jerangle (948).

Former Cooma – Monaro Mayor, Dean Lynch who has over seen the operations of the merged council for the last 16 months as Administrator says he’s happy to see the election come and democracy restored to the region.

“My biggest concern was representation for the smaller areas, and you can see that’s not going to be an issue now,” Mr Lynch says.

“I am a little bit worried about the lack of female representation in the results at this stage,” he says.

Bombala’s Anne Maslin is the highest polling woman with 243 votes which puts her in thirteenth position over all – outside the 11 member council.

Postal votes and preferences will come before the poll is declared and the final results are known.

Under the counting system used for local government elections in New South Wales, each candidate must reach a quota of votes to be elected, preferences follow and are distributed according to the voter’s instructions on their ballot paper.

“You get the total number of voters and then dived it by 12, one more than the new Council needs, to work out the quota,” Mr Lynch explains.

“Going off previous elections I think the quota will be around 930 votes.”

Preferences help candidates who don’t reach the quota in the first round of counting get elected.

Bob Stewart. Photo: Town and Country Magazine
Bob Stewart. Photo: Town and Country Magazine

Bob Stewart believes it might not be until Tuesday or Wednesday before all 11 seats in the new chamber are decided, he is hopeful a flow of preferences from himself and running mate John Last will get Anne Maslin elected.

Mr Stewart, a passionate critic of the merger process says he is humbled by his result and is looking forward to getting back to work.

“I will be putting my hand up for the Mayoral position,” Mr Stewart says.

“We’ve gotta make sure there’s equity down our way, the merger process for council staff in Bombala has been very unfair.”

“We don’t need it [Council] to be centralised towards Cooma so that Bombala loses out on jobs, we must try and protect jobs for the social and economic benefit of our smaller communities,” the former Bombala Mayor says.

Mr Stewart says he is also keen to address recent extra charges on utility costs like water and waste, he says he’ll be asking for a report to Council early in the term.

Speaking to About Regional while loading livestock on to his truck, Lynley Miners has mixed feelings about being elected to Council.

“The truth is I didn’t want to stand now, I am too busy with my own business, but now is the logical time, it’s a fresh start being the first council,” Mr Miners says.

Being a truckie, Mr Miners says he’ll be taking a particular interest in the region’s roads and better infrastructure.

“A lot people think we are going to be able to fix theses things over night,” Mr Miners says.

“We’ve got a three-year term and the first 12 or 18 months will be taken up with learning and trying to get sorted with whats been done during the administration period and get the ship steering straight.”

Dean Lynch, Administrator of Snowy Monaro Regional Council
Dean Lynch Photo: Snowy Monaro Regional Council

Despite his high personal vote Mr Miners says he won’t be standing as Mayor in the near future, preferring to leave the job to people with more time and experience for now.

When asked to reflect on the merger process between Bombala, Cooma-Monaro and Snowy River Shires, Mr Miners is hopeful people can move on

“It will hang there for a bit, but once people get to the table if they want to strive to make this better, it can’t be about us and them, it’s done, it’s happened, it’s time to move on,” Mr Miners says.

Dean Lynch will remain Administrator until the first council meeting on September 26 when the new Mayor is elected, says he has been working hard to tidy up loose ends and set the new council up for success.

The election marks an end to Mr Lynch’s nine-year career in local government, he says the last 16 months have been some of the most challenging times.

“I always knew pulling this together would be a poison chalice, but I love local government and I love this area,” he says.

“Some of the social media comments have been hard for my family but I’ll stand behind all the decisions I made, I feel like I’ve given the new council every chance possible to be good.”

Mr Lynch is delighted James ‘Boo’ Ewart appears to have been elected.

James Boo Ewart voting in Saturday's election. Photo: Facebook
James Boo Ewart voting in Saturday’s election. Photo: Facebook

“Boo has been around Council meetings with me for the last four years, he’s always wanted to be on Council, it’s great to see him get in without the need for any alliances, a fresh start is just what this council needs,” Mr Lynch says.

“The new council needs to get out and meet with communities right around the area

“My advice for the old and the new, they just need to get around and meet everybody before they rush in and make decisions,” Mr Lynch says.

When asked about his future, the former Cooma-Monaro Mayor says they’ll be a holiday with his wife first.

“The most exciting thing, I am the chair and a director of the Country Universities Centre and we are rolling those out right across the state at the moment, that’s my passion.

“I’ve had various offers, but I just need to take a step back for a while,” Mr Lynch says.

To keep track of the progressive election results head to the website of the NSW Electoral Commission.

 

*Thanks to About Regional members, Simon Marine, Kelly Murray, Gabrielle Powell, Nastasia Campanella and Thomas Oriti for supporting local story telling.

 

 

Making an informed choice for Snowy Monaro Regional Council this Saturday

Election Day is Sept 9. Source: AEC
Election Day for Snowy Monaro Regional Council is this Saturday – September 9.  Photo credit: AEC

A new era in Local Government is set to bloom with elections for Snowy Monaro Regional Council this Saturday (September 9) ending 16 months of administration by former Cooma Mayor, Dean Lynch.

Pre-Poll voting is already underway at Jindabyne, Berridale, Cooma, and Bombala with 27 candidates contesting 11 positions in the merged council chamber.

Familiar names on your ballot paper include Bob Stewart, Winston Phillips, Sue Haslingden, John Shumack, and Roger Norton.

But there is some new interest including solicitor and tourism operator Maria Linkenbagh, Nimmitabel grazier John Harrington, and 23-year-old apprentice carpenter James ‘Boo’ Ewart.

You can explore the full list of local candidates through the NSW Electoral Commission website.

Former Deputy Mayor of Cooma-Monaro Shire Council, and now Member of the NSW Upper House, Bronnie Taylor says a mix of old and new will be important for the new council.

“Yes we need experience but this is an opportunity to get some really great new people on council and I really encourage people to look at that,” Mrs Taylor says.

With just days to go until polling day the attention and interest of voters will start to sharpen.

Voting instructions on each ballot paper will guide locals, but generally speaking, each voter will be asked to select six candidates in order of preference, you can select more if you wish and perhaps push out to 11 to reflect the full council you want to be elected. But for your vote to count, you must at least number six boxes in order of preference.

The inaugural mayor will be elected by councilors at their first meeting after the election.

Mrs Taylor admits the process and choices can be overwhelming but she is calling on locals to take an interest and use the days ahead to find their new councilors.

“Vote for who you think is going to make a difference…vote for someone who has the same values and aspirations for your community,” she says.

Despite being part of the State Government that drove the merger of Bombala, Snowy River and Cooma-Monaro Councils, The Nationals MLC accepts that the process could have been better but has confidence in the future of the 11 member Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

Mrs Taylor is adamant small communities won’t be forgotten in the new larger entity.

“The councilors that get elected, they’re good people, they care about their communities [but they also] care about their region,” she says.

The former Deputy Mayor points to the $5.3 million State investment in the Lake Wallace Dam project at Nimmitabel as an example of that ‘bigger regional thinking’.

“I am someone who lives in the town of Nimmitabel which has a population of around 300 people,” Mrs Taylor says.

“We had a really shocking time during the drought.

The Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce will host a 'meet the candidates' forum on September 4.
The Jindabyne Chamber of Commerce will host a ‘meet the candidates’ forum on September 4.

“There was not one other councilor from Nimmitabel or from down this end of the shire [on that council except me but] every single one of those nine councilors on Cooma-Monaro Shire Council voted to invest that money.

“They knew it was really important for that community (Nimmitabel) and that that community was part of them,” Mrs Taylor says.

Given the size of the field to choose from and the need to at least number six boxes on the ballot paper, voters can be forgiven for feeling confused or unsure of who to vote for.

“I think people that get up there and promise 16 different things aren’t very realistic,” Mrs Taylor says.

“You have to have someone who is prepared to work with other people and prepared to see other points of view.

“At the end of the day…you have got to find compromises and ways through to get good results,” the former Deputy Mayor suggests.

Working out who those people are or finding the information you need to have an informed vote can be a challenge in amongst the posters, Facebook pages, and how to vote cards of an election campaign.

“I think candidate forums are really good,” Mrs Taylor says.

“And the great thing about local government is that you can pick up the phone and ring them (candidates) and ask them what they think about something and they should be able to give you some time to do that.”

Mrs Taylor also suggests talking to other people in the community as a way of making your vote count.

“Talk to the people that you trust, they know the pulse of the community, I think that’s really valuable,” she says.

Contact phone numbers and email addresses for many of the candidates can be found on the NSW Electoral Commission website.

Polling booths are open between 8am and 6pm this Saturday (September 9), voting is compulsory at one of 13 South East locations from Adaminaby to Delegate to Bredbo.

 

*For more coverage of the Snowy Monaro Regional Council election, including comment from former Snowy River Councilor Leanne Atkinson, click HERE.

*This story was made possible thanks to the contribution of About Regional members Julie Klugman, Nigel Catchlove, Jenny Anderson, and Ali Oakley. 

 

 

 

Colouring for change in Cooma, lead by local teens

Has anyone seen the orange pencil? By Ian Campbell
Has anyone seen the orange pencil? By Ian Campbell

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.”

Jane Cay, 'big bird' at Birdsnest and Genevieve Dugard, Project O National Director. By Ian Campbell
Jane Cay, ‘big bird’ at Birdsnest and Genevieve Dugard, Project O National Director. By Ian Campbell

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.

The Project O crew are hoping businesses will buy a kit as a team building or social responsibility exercise while raising money for the Australian Childhood Foundation.

“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.

 

 

Calling candidates for Snowy Monaro Regional Council

Dean Lynch, Administrator of Snowy Monaro Regional Council
Dean Lynch, Administrator of Snowy Monaro Regional Council. Source: SMRC

The wheels of democracy are starting to spin again across the High Country with nominations now open for candidates at the September 9 Local Council Election.

Eleven councilors will sit in the chamber of the merged Snowy Monaro Regional Council, which has been run for the past 15 months by former Cooma Mayor, Dean Lynch.

In his role as Administrator, Mr Lynch called on the advice and input of Local Representative Committees covering the former shires of Snowy River, Cooma-Monaro, and Bombala.

Ultimately though final decisions fell to Mr Lynch, an arrangement put in place by the NSW Government and one many have described as undemocratic.

Mr Lynch, who says he won’t be standing on September 9 says he understands the criticism but has enjoyed the opportunity despite feeling burnt out.

He says the whole merger process has got people thinking more about local government and perhaps has inspired some locals to stand for election.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of new faces,” Mr Lynch says.

Nominations opened on Monday and will close at Midday on Wednesday, August 9 through the Electoral Commission on NSW.

In the lead-up, Snowy Monaro Regional Council held candidate info sessions in Jindabyne, Berridale, Cooma, and Bombala.

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.

And once you are elected what is the job of a new councilor on Snowy Monaro Regional Council?

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.”

Election Day is Sept 9. Source: AEC
Election Day is Sept 9. Source: AEC

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.

Thanks to About Regional Members, Simon Marnie, Alison Oakley, Linda Albertson, and Kiah Wilderness Tours for supporting local story telling.

Podcast 16 – Cooma’s Charly Thorn, the talk of the town.

Cooma's Charly Thorn (on the right) with one of her models and creations at Canberra FashFest 2016. Souce: Canberra Times, taken by Martin Ollman.
Cooma’s Charly Thorn (on the right) with one of her models and creations at Canberra FashFest 2016. Souce: Canberra Times, taken by Martin Ollman.

Welcome to About Regional – a new place for the stories of South East NSW.

This podcast is brought to you by Julie Rutherford Real Estate at Bermagui, Doug Reckord, Wendy Gorton and Shan Watts – thanks for your support.

About Regional Memberships are now open and come packed with perks!

Charly Thorn is the talk of the town, not only in her home town of Cooma but also on the other side of the world in Vancouver and Los Angeles.

Charly is a young fashion designer, not long out of high school, learning her trade and so much more at Birdsnest Cooma.

FashFest 2016 in Canberra was her big break and has led to a spot on the catwalk for Charly’s garments at Vancouver Fashion Week in less than 9 weeks.

Cooma has been helping Charly raise the money she needs to get there.

Since Charly and I spoke on a cold Cooma day, she has also been invited to show at LA Fashion Week in October.

As you are about to hear, Charly has all the ingredients for success…

Or listen and subscribe via AudioBoom, Apple Podcasts/iTunesor Bitesz.com

You can stay in touch with Charly via her Facebook page.

Your feedback, story ideas, and advertising inquiries are always welcome, just click on the contact tab.

Thanks for your interest, see you out and about in South East NSW.

Cheers

Ian

Landmark Monaro tree hollow gets a resident

This old girl has seen a few Monaro winters and it seems she now has something to cuddle up to.

About Regional, podcast 14 – your solar power questions answered

Interest in installing solar panels is strong. Source: NSW OEH
Interest in installing solar panels is strong. Source: NSW OEH

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 Heritage is 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.

Lisa Miller is a confessed solar geek from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

Or listen and subscribe via Audioboom, iTunes, or bitesz.com

Resources recommended by Lisa: Clean Energy Council, Australian PV Institute, OEH – Energy Efficiency

Thanks to my partners in this program – Light to Light Camps rolling out the red carpet on the 31 km track between Boyd’s Tower and Greencape Lighthouse south of Eden.

Feedback, story ideas, and advertising inquiries are really welcome – send your email to hello@aboutregional.com.au

Thanks for tuning in, see you out and about in South East NSW.

Cheers

Ian

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