Bega’s Teen Clinic spreads – Kiama, Narooma, Bermagui, Merimbula, Eden

The Teen Clinic approach starts at reception. Photo: BVMP.
The Teen Clinic approach starts at reception. Photo: BVMP.

A fresh approach to youth health that started in Bega is expanding to five new locations.

South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network and Senator John Williams, Duty Senator for Eden-Monaro, have announced Commonwealth funding to roll out “Teen Clinic” in GP practices at Bermagui, Eden, Narooma, Merimbula, and Kiama.

Bega Valley Medical Practice in Bega started the free drop-in service for the region’s young people in 2015.

Dr Duncan MacKinnon says Teen Clinic starts at the front desk of his GP practice with reception staff.

“When teens come all they have to say is ‘We’re here for Teen Clinic’ and that’s as much information as they have to give, no questions asked,” Duncan says.

On two afternoons a week, each practice will set aside time for teens with registered nurses (RN). High schoolers simply show up, no appointment needed, and no fee – Medicare picks up the cost.

Doctors and other health professionals are there and ready to respond if needed, supporting the work of the RN.

With the Commonwealth funding, Teen Clinic has expanded to Bermagui Medical Centre, Curalo Medical Centre (Eden), Lighthouse Surgery (Narooma), Main Street Medical (Merimbula), and Kiama Medical Practice.

Dr Duncan MacKinnon from the Bega Valley Medical Practice. Photo: BVMP.
Dr Duncan MacKinnon from the Bega Valley Medical Practice. Photo: BVMP.

Conscious of the barriers that sometimes exist when ‘grown-ups’, bureaucracy, and adolescents try and engage, an easy, non-judgmental, welcoming approach is key to the Teen Clinic model, as well as the leadership of nurses.

RN Sue MacKinnon is one of the faces of Teen Clinic in Bega each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon between 2 and 5 pm.

“There has been a lot of research that shows teenagers can be reluctant to talk to doctors,” Sue says.

“But they are fairly happy to talk to nurses, we are a good entry point.”

Aside from offering their own high level of primary health care, Sue and the clinic’s other RNs work to introduce and connect teens to the people and additional care they might need.

“We do a lot of baton passing, it’s a really smooth transition for the kids and takes away some of the scariness for them,” Sue says.

It’s important that Teen Clinic is not “just” seen to be a mental health service or a sexual health service.

All bases are covered, open access covering all medical concerns for teens.

The response from Bega teens has been positive over the last two years.

“We have a small population, so sometimes we might get one person, sometimes we get seven,” Duncan says.

“We get groups of kids coming in which is really lovely because they’re bringing their friends.

“It’s important that teenagers know this is a confidential service,” he says.

“But we always talk to them about parental involvement, but a lot of teenagers are capable of making informed choices.”

The free, drop-in Teen Clinic service is now available at Bega, Kiama, Narooma, Bermagui, Merimbula, and Edem. Photo: BVMP.
The free, drop-in Teen Clinic service is now available at Bega, Kiama, Narooma, Bermagui, Merimbula, and Edem. Photo: BVMP.

In announcing the funding, Senator Williams said, “Any investment in rural health in the search for better outcomes is a good investment.

“There has always been a great divide between city and regional health services but thankfully with initiatives such as this it will assist our medical specialists and ease the burden on country people,” he said.

Bega Valley Medical Practice has already started to roll out the Teen Clinic service to the five other practices and will provide ongoing support and mentoring.

*The article first appeared on RiotACT

Peter Pan gets a Eurobodalla twist with Red Door Theatre @ Moruya

Narooma's Linda Heald, the storyteller behind, Peter Pan - The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Ian Campbell
Narooma’s Linda Heald, the storyteller behind, Peter Pan – The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Ian Campbell

A Eurobodalla chapter is about to be added to a story that has enthralled the world for decades.

Peter Pan is the creation of Scottish writer James Matthew Barrie and first appeared in Barrie’s 1902 novel The Little White Bird. Narooma writer and director Linda Heald has put a local twist on the story, her chapter opens at St Mary’s Performing Arts Centre in Moruya on Friday night (December 8).

Walt Disney’s 1953 animated film is perhaps the first image that comes to your mind. Peter Pan, the boy who can fly and who never grows up, leader of The Lost Boys, a lifelong childhood in Neverland mixing with pixies, mermaids, and pirates.

Linda remembers it fondly, “As a young child I would sit beside my cousin at the piano and she would sing the songs,” she says.

With Moruya’s Red Door Theatre Company only new to the stage, Linda was looking for the amateur company’s next challenge and one that allowed people with a range of experiences to have a go.

“I couldn’t find anything that was perfect, so I thought let’s write it,” Linda says.

“I started thinking – pirates in Moruya, and if you are thinking pirates then you’ve got to have Peter Pan, and you’ve got to have Hook, and then you need to have Tinkerbell.

“But we’ve taken a slightly different approach to those characters and given them a twist.

“There are a lot of accountant jokes – there’s mess and there’s music – it’s a fast-moving panto,” she explains.

With that Linda lets slip that Tinkerbell is “Stinkerbell” in her production – “And there are lots of jokes.”

Some of those involved in Red Door Theatre's production of Peter Pan - The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Facebook
Some of those involved in Red Door Theatre’s production of Peter Pan – The Eurobodalla Chapter. Photo: Facebook

The Peter Pan story now belongs to The Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, J.M.Barrie gifted the rights in 1929, which have been a significant source of funds for the Hospital’s Children’s Charity.

Barrie asked that the hospital never reveal the actual income received, which the hospital has always respected.

Knowing this Linda checked with Great Ormond Street before proceeding with her one of a kind local chapter, and got the all clear.

This will be Red Door’s second production, the pantomime “Babes in the Woods” earlier this year got things started with seven people on stage, the cast swells to 17 this weekend for Peter Pan – with a four-piece band!

“We’ve got a whole load of new people and some amazing talent,” Linda says.

“We are there to entertain and to bring the community together.”

Audiences on Friday and Saturday can expect lots of local references and some well-placed topical gags but above all, as with any amateur theatre production its the strength and spirit of the community that created it that shines through.

“I love seeing it when people [cast and crew] arrive on day one and they’re hesitant and unsure of themselves, and then you look at them on stage in the production and they have just blossomed – that’s the best thing,” Linda says.

“And it’s just a fun night out!”

What are you waiting for?

*About Regional content happens because of the support of members, thank you to Sprout Eden – Cafe and Local Produce,  Bronnie, Taylor, Tabitha Bilaniwskyj-Zarins, Nastasia Campanella and Thomas Oriti, Jeanette Westmore, Oh’Allmhurain Films, Claire Blewett and Neroli Dickson, Kate Liston-Mills, Fay Deveril, Shane O’Leary, Fiona Cullen, Nancy Blindell and Jo Riley-Fitzer.

Take a drone flight over Dignams Creek roadworks

Looking north over existing highway, July 2017. Photo: RMS
Looking north over the existing highway. Photo: RMS

The roadworks at Dignams Creek, south of Narooma are a real talking point for motorists negotiating the Princes Highway at the moment – the scale of the project is epic.

Twenty-five large pieces of machinery are currently onsite supporting the work of 80 people, who during August, September, October shifted 100,000 cubic meters of earth.

At one point in your journey north or south, you end up in the middle of the worksite under the control of high-viz lollypop people who are dwarfed by the massive wheels and earthmoving blades cutting a wider, safer, straighter roadway through what was once a lush floodplain and a forest of eucalypt and tree ferns.

“This section of road was identified by the State Coronial Inquest 10 years ago as having a very real need to be upgraded,” Member for Bega, Andrew Constance says.

“In that 10 years there have been 26 accidents on this section of highway and unfortunately one life has been lost.”

Looking north over what will be the new bridge over Dignams Creek. Photo: RMS
Looking north over what will be the new bridge over Dignams Creek. Photo: RMS

The end result of this $45 million upgrade will be a widening of the current highway for about 800 metres leading into two-kilometres of new roadway built to current highway standards. There will also be new bridges erected over Dignams Creek and Dignams Creek Road.

“The narrow approach to the bridge and the twists and turns of the road where built to standards that are 70 years old,” Mr Constnace says.

“Modern-day traffic travels quicker and there are more heavy vehicles on the road – it’s important we get on and fix roads like this.

“To see the project progressing now is very pleasing,” he says.

The purple tracks the route of the new highway, to the west of the current bridge and roadway. Photo: RMS
The purple tracks the route of the new highway, to the west of the current bridge and roadway. Photo: RMS

The signs you whizz past on either side of the road point to competition in mid-2019.

In the run-up to Christmas 2017, extra hours have been added to the work schedule, a move welcomed by residents keen to see the finish flag fall.

Crews are now working 6 days a week including Saturdays from 8am till 6pm.

John Cursley and his partner Maggie live 200 metres from the new section of highway, “It’s dusty and the noise at times is quite disrupting, but in defense of them [York Civil Road Engineers] they have tried to address the problem,” Mr Cursley says.

“They changed the beeper on the reversing trucks to a squawker.

“These trucks don’t seem to ever go forward,” Mr Cursley laughs.

Paul Munro and his partner Sally are 100 meters away and pump drinking water from the creek, “Our pipes and basins have been turning blue,” Mr Munro says.

“I think it points to a change in the pH and acidity of our water.

“We’ve been here over 30 years and its the first time we’ve seen these signs,” Mr Munro says.

Rising water levels downstream in the salty Wallaga Lake might also be influencing the water table and makeup of the Munro’s creek water.

Mr Munro doesn’t believe the water is toxic or harmful and has consulted the project’s environmental officer.

“Somethings changed, but there is a lot happening in the catchment – dust, earthworks, new drainage, so its hard to know where the change has come from, we’ll be keeping an eye on water quality,” Mr Munro says.

Both men also have concerns about flooding while works take place, worried what will happen if an East Coast Low forms and drops a lot of rain while the ground is open and exposed.

“The quicker they get the job done the better,” Mr Cursley says.

“It is what it is, we just have to see it out,” Mr Munro says.

Andrew Constance says he is particularly grateful for the input and understanding of local residents.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to put community safety first, and I am confident the end result will address all concerns,” Mr Constance says.

“Look this work needed doing, the bridge is too narrow and the corner too steep,” Mr Cursley says.

Looking south over the new section of highway at the northern end. Photo: RMS
Looking south over the new section of highway at the northern end. Photo: RMS

Motorists will be moved to a new 800-metre temporary road at the northern end of the project from Monday November 27 until mid-2018, and work will be put on hold between December 16 and January 8 in order to keep holiday traffic moving.

“And motorists need to remember there are 80 people working on this site, and they need to go home to their families each night,” Mr Constance says.

“So please drive with patience, observe the reduced speed limits and traffic controls.”

*About Regional content is supported by the contribution of members, thank you to – Julie Rutherford Real Estate Bermagui, Fiona Cullen, Nancy Blindell, Jo Riley-Fitzer, Jenny Anderson, Ali Oakley, Julia Stiles, and Patrick Reubinson.

Podcast 19 – Eurobodalla Youth Forum

Some school holiday listening this time around.

During Local Government Week recently, Eurobodalla Shire Council made space for the youth of the shire.

Senior students from Carroll College and St Peter’s Anglican College at Broulee, and Batemans Bay High School were given time to address Council – including Mayor, Liz Innes and Deputy Mayor, Anthony Mayne.

One of the Shire’s Federal MP’s was also taking notes – Member for Gilmore, Anne Sudmalis.

Courtney Fryer from Carroll College used the opportunity to advocate for young people living with physical and mental disability.

Harrison O’Keefe from Batemans Bay High, made a great point around youth engagement –“show them what they are missing out on” and he has an idea to do just that.

While Pippi Sparrius from St Peter’s presented some surprising stats around teenage pregnancy in the Eurobodalla.

Keen to give the students a ‘real council meeting’ experience, Cr Innes was watching the clock, with Courtney, Harrison, and Pippi all given five minutes each.

Click play to listen here and now…

Or listen and subscribe via AudioBoom,, or Apple Podcasts/iTunes.

For support or more info about the issues raised in this podcast check in with the Eurobodalla youth services directory or drop by one of the Shire’s popular youth cafes in Narooma and Batemans Bay.

About Regional is supported by the financial contributions of members, including Jill Howell, Max Wilson, Sue MacKinnon, Geoff Berry, and Four Winds at Bermagui – who have just released the program for next Easter’s festival, 60 artists, 10 ensembles, 26 performances, 10 stunning locations, over 5 days starting in late March 2018. Early bird tickets are on sale now.

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

Hall of Service to take soil from 65 South East locations

NSW Governor, David Hurley collects a sample of soil with members of Narooma RSL sub-branch looking on. By Ian Campbell
NSW Governor, David Hurley collects a sample of soil with members of Narooma RSL sub-branch looking on. By Ian Campbell

Soil collected from sixty-five war memorials across South East New South Wales will be featured in a new state memorial honouring First World War veterans and their hometowns.

The Office of Veterans Affairs is overseeing the program, which is collecting soil from almost 1,700 WW1 enlistment locations for an art installation in what will be known as the Hall of Service at the revamped Hyde Park memorial in the centre of Sydney.

An artists impression of what the Hall of Service will look like when complete in 2018. Source:
An artists impression of what the Hall of Service will look like when complete in 2018. Source:

Narooma is one of 15 Eurobodalla locations identified for the program, and one of the first local spots where soil has been collected. NSW Governor, His Excellency the Honourable David Hurley who visited the Shire this week was the one to do the honours.

Other South East locations include:


Batemans Bay














Central Tilba








Dignams Creek





Jervis Bay




















Rock Flat


Rocky Hall


South Pambula

South Wolumla

Stony Creek


Tilba Tilba








Yatte Yattah

Linda Hurley chats to Narooma school kids about life in Government House. By Ian Campbell.
Linda Hurley chats to Narooma school kids about life in Government House. By Ian Campbell.

When complete, memorial visitors will be able to learn about each location via their personal digital devices.

The information presented will include details on the soil collection, the names of enlistees who gave that location as their home address, and maps showing the local area and its surrounding memorials and schools.

The simple soil collection program forms part of a $40 million enhancement of the memorial marking the centenary of World War 1.

Works are on track for opening on Remembrance Day 2018, which will bring to life the original 1930’s vision for the space and include a second water feature and new educational areas.

NSW Governor, David Hurley told About Regional, war memorials like this are a reminder of the strength of service and sacrifice for current day service women and men and of the history they are a part of.

His Excellency believes the new Hall of Service will be stunning and emotional…

This story was made with the assistance of About Regional members Wendy and Pete Gorton, Amanda Dalziel, Phil Martin, and Olwen Morris – thank you for supporting local story telling.

Over $5 million for local cycleways including Bega to Tathra link

The long-awaited Bega to Tathra cycleway is set to become a reality with $3 million set aside in the NSW Budget this week.

Member for Bega, Andrew Constance said, “I am so excited to confirm the funds to build this important project.”

“This will not only better connect two of our great communities it will also provide a fantastic tourism driver and give the region a further economic boost.”

The money will go to Bega Valley Shire Council to work with the community and stakeholders to design, plan and construct the much-anticipated path.

The Bega – Tathra money was the largest part of a big splash of cash for local cycleways.

Other money announced by NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet included:

  • $2 million for a shared pathway from Rotary Park in Merimbula to Merimbula Wharf.
  • Construction of 660 metres of shared path in Moruya along Bergalia Street.
  • Construction of almost 500 metres of shared path in Narooma along the northern end of McMillan Road.

The champagne corks were popping as Doug Reckord, the Secretary of the Bega Tathra Safe Ride Committee shared the news with his dedicated group. Click play for more.

Disclaimer: Author is part-time media officers for Bega Valley Shire Council

Cooma busking championships become truly national

Allan Spencer, founder of the Australian National Busking Championships, with the Busk CD featuring talent from the festival.
Allan Spencer, founder of the Australian National Busking Championships, with the Busk CD featuring talent from the festival.

Cooma’s annual busking festival is going national.

For the last five years, the Australian National Busking Championships have been based on the Monaro. And while talent from across the nation has been drawn to the streets of Cooma to compete and take part, that claim of being a ‘national championship’ didn’t carry the weight the name implies.

That changes in 2017.

With the backing of Rotary Clubs along the East Coast, the Busking Championships will cover three states and at least six regional centres.

Cooma based Championship Founder, Allan Spencer is delighted as he rattles off communities that have picked up the idea and run with it, including Stanthorpe and Noosa Heads in Queensland, Ballarat and Wangaratta in Victoria, Narooma and Berry in New South Wales.

Most of the towns taking part are combining the Championships with an existing festival that needs a bit of ‘sparkling up’ according to Allan.

“I think that works well, because busking won’t work unless you’ve got a lot of people,” he says.

“In Stanthorpe for instance, they’ve got an apple and grape festival that’s in it’s fiftieth year and  it’s tremendously well attended, they have sixty thousand visitors, so the busking was quite an easy fit.”

Surrounded by the instruments and sheet music of his long-running business, Allan becomes emotional talking about the success of the Busking Championships.

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

Guy Lilleyman
Guy Lilleyman

“There’s Guy Lilleyman, who’s a Canberra based musician, he won the title – Open Champion 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’s just come back from a 10-week tour of Afghanistan, entertaining Australian and NATO troops,” he says.

Allan’s connection with the Cooma community goes back 30 plus years, his connection with music even longer – around 40 years.

“It’s always been a bit of a crusade of mine to try and promote talent,” Allan says.

As the owner of the Cooma School of Music, the organisers of the annual Snowy Ride approached Allan in 2011 looking for live entertainment during their annual fundraiser for the Steven Walter Children’s Cancer Foundation.

Over 2200 motorcycle riders took part in this year’s Snowy Ride, adding a whopping $250,000 to the $6 million that has been collected since 2001. The Australian National Busking Championships that were created to serve the Ride are now very much a part of the whole weekend each November, covering 28 locations around the Cooma CBD with over 160 acts.

“I’ve been talking to businesses after this year’s event,” Allan says.

“A lot of them are saying it’s their best trading day of the year.

“The proof is that every year all our wonderful local businesses put up their hand to sponsor the event.”

Centennial Park Cooma is a focal point for the Championships
Centennial Park Cooma is a focal point for the Championships

Ten thousand dollars was shared among the winners this year adding a serious edge to a craft some see as worth nothing more than loose change.

“There are buskers that do it as their career,” Alan says.

“It’s not an easy career, but they really enjoy the freedom.”

Allan says the prize money is key in attracting artists to play but he believes that local talent needs to be looked after as that stiff competition lands.

Matilda Rose,  a 15-year-old country singer won the local category this year, scoring return plane tickets between Cooma and Sydney from Rex Airlines.

“I want to also mention the City of Queanbeyan Pipe and Drum Band, which is a 20 piece bagpipe band,” Allan says.

“They marched down Vale Street, straight to our war memorial, and they gave their first set there.

“It was a ‘hairs standing on the back of your neck’ kind of situation, it was really a moment to treasure.

“Then they played outside various pubs, they were busking, and they raised $500 for their group, they were over the moon,” Allan says.

The Queanbeyan Pipe and Drum Band
The Queanbeyan Pipe and Drum Band

Allan believes we should celebrate our buskers and the contribution they make to life and culture in regional towns especially, he’s hoping more country towns come on board with the Championships.

“We’ve kept this a regional festival,” Allan says.

“We think this is a great opportunity for regional centers to add something to their town.”

The program for the expanded format in 2017 is still being finalised, with Allan keen to speak with his partners Cooma Rotary.

At this stage, however, his thinking is that the South East Regional Final will be held on the first Saturday in November, followed by the National Final the next day – both held in Cooma not Canberra or another capital city where national finals are normally held.

Cooma – the town that built the Snowy Scheme is influencing Australia yet again.

*Copies of the Busk CD are available from the Cooma School of Music and by mail order.