Archive for the ‘Rural Events’ Category


Geelong is a city going through a turbulent transition, stranded between its history and its future. Its modern legacy as a stronghold of heavy industry – led by Ford, Alcoa and Shell – is fading fast.

Ford has been closing its Geelong manufacturing works for some time, with the final jobs to go by 2016. Alcoa has announced that its ageing aluminium smelter and rolling mill would close in August, at a cost of 800 jobs. Last year Qantas axed just under 300 maintenance jobs at the nearby Avalon Airport and Target sacked 260 workers from its Geelong head office.

Geelong has a long history as a city, and with that, a long history of being able to rebuild itself from problems past. There is little doubt Geelong will reinvent itself as a smart city of the future on the back of its tourism, agriculture and, service industries, as well as its role as a port, and  its role as a hub for new industry, such as carbon fibre manufacturing.

The inevitable and immediate pain of future uncertainty looms for Geelong’s recently unemployed. One of the major problems with widespread job cuts to similar industries to an area in a short period of time is that it creates a situation where there are too many workers looking for what little work is still available. As Professor Louse Johnson explained during my interview with her, about one third of workers will find work in a similar industry, maintaining a similar standard of living; another third will find work in lesser jobs, reducing their standard of living. For the other third, it’s unlikely that they will work again. The question of whether to remain in Geelong, the bedrock of many workers’ lives, beckons also.

Fitter and turner Jay Craven, 24, was made redundant by Ford in Geelong in an early wave of job cuts. The atmosphere of redundancy is not a good one. The media seem to know information before the workers do, and there’s a general sense of despondency in the air as colleagues and friends turn on each other in a battle for job survival.

Whilst many of his colleagues tried to find work in and around Geelong to varying degrees of success, Jay decided to apply for a jobs in Melbourne. After a period of applying for jobs without luck, a family friend suggested he apply for a maintenance job at Yarra Trams. When he found out that he got the job, the decision to head down the highway was an easy one. Unlike some of his colleagues whom were rentrenched in Geelong with homes and young families, Jay’s only attachment was a sentimental one, having lived in the area his whole life.

Jay now lives in Preston with his sister, who also works in Melbourne. He is really enjoying the change, believing his fresh start will allow him to better develop a career and grow as a person. No one likes seeing people lose their jobs, but for Jay, redundancy was was the catalyst for a positive change in his life.


Young manufacturing boss by Candy Huang

Posted: June 1, 2014 by ivoburum in Economics, mojo, Rural Events
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This young manufacturing boss was a student two years ago, he has had some special experience that others cannot imagine. He realized his dream, created his own brand “AUMORE WOOL”, and became a factory owner in Australia. His name is Clark, and now he is the founder and managing director of Chuanxin international Pty Ltd.

When we made an appointment for an interview, I waited outside his factory for him and notice the large sign, “AUMORE WOOL”. The neighboring factory worker Chris told me Clark was a really excellent young man, worked very hard, and that everyone who worked in this street knows him. I began to image what sort of a person he is.

During the interview, Clark told me a long story about his personal life, and how hard he worked in order to start this business. I found that this young man was very passionate for his own business, he showed me his factory and the products and told me the story about the machine. Although he had lot of pressure and stress on business, this young man was still calm and had a serious plan. I supposed that was the real difference between him and all the rest.

David, who is a boss form Mobile Essential says, “in today’s market competition, product quality is most important.

Clark said that, he flew to different places hand-picked wool in every season, and chose the best wool in the world used to make a quilt. Every time a product was sold to a different country, he hung the national flag of that country in the factory. “I want to hang the national flag of different countries in whole of industry,” Clark says proudly.

Now, his career going very stable, and he has more long-term goals. That is, to make his brand “AUMORE WOOL” a world leading luxury brand.

From a student to a young manufacturing boss is not the end of Clark’s story, it is just beginning, he has a long way to go to realize his dream.

Just over 12 months ago, the future of Australia’s favourite steam train was in dire jeopardy. Puffing Billy faced possible closure, requiring a 25 million dollar cash injection to continue operating.

One year on, the iconic tourist attraction is thriving. Recently celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous Belgrave to Menzies Creek line, the hardship of the past year seems a distant memory, but not to the people involved with the heritage railway.

Puffing Billy is an iconic Melbourne tourist attraction, and has been loved by families for generations, and its possible foreclosure came as a shock to visitors and volunteers.

Henry Shultz has been volunteering as an engine mechanic for nearly 20 years, says the railway is more than just a tourist attraction or a old steam train it is by no means just that –  “The steam locomotive machine is a snapshot into history, into an era that has shaped our world today, and the community support shown by the visitors, and countless volunteers shows the determination to keep Puffing Billy alive”.

The heritage railway relies almost solely on donations and visitors to keep the locomotive alive and running. Although the number of visitors is on a continuous rise, with a record 268, 984 passengers in 2011, Shultz says that “we still need further financial assistance and more volunteers to keep the railway running for years to come”.

From each ticket sale, 37% of funds go towards train operations and maintenance, 25% to track and land maintenance, 22% administration, 10% to marketing and 10% to coal. The locomotive is run predominantly by volunteers, who spend their weekends and spare time providing maintenance services to the track or engines, driving the train or tending to the thousands of visitors of this historic landmark.

“We have received enough donations to keep this beloved steam train running for now, but who knows what the future holds? That is why we want people to continue showing their love for the trains by visiting us, buying a ticket, and even donating money where possible. I want my great grandkids to enjoy this locomotive as much as I have” Shultz warns.

Although out of the woods for now by receiving overwhelming support and donations to repair the necessary tracks and engines ensuring the safety of the line, the threat for the future is still a concern.

Click here to watch the history behind Australia’s favourite steam train.

Amanda Beardmore

Uniting Church fighting for those most in need

Posted: October 1, 2012 by jessgeelong20 in Rural Events
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Despite living in the comparative safety of a rural community, teenage involvement with sex, drugs, alcohol and violence is on the increase and becoming alarming.

The Buloke Shire located in North West Victoria is confronting this problem and working along side the Donald Uniting Church to tackle this issue amongst youth within their Shire.

Reverend Margaret Russell and her husband John have been working within the community for several years and fund a variety of programs which provide support and advice for young rural children and their families.

“The people had been carrying the baton for the community over the drought; it must have been going for seven years since before we came. They were tired; they were struggling to a find a way to build people up, and when we had made our decision to come we thought one of the things we have got to try and do is make a difference. We just can’t be a church in four walls; we have got to make a difference at large,” said Mr Russell.

When John and Margaret first moved to Donald they noticed that the Buloke Shire only funded a youth worker, two and a half days a week.

During this time, Donald and surrounding areas had also suffered a number of accidents involving youth.

“We had some suicides and bad car accidents and problems with kids wiping themselves off with alcohol and we were between a brick and a hard place saying, how can we make a difference here,” Mr Russell said.

The Uniting Church applied for a Commonwealth Grant to enquire about youth and parenting around the Buloke region and to assist a full time worker for the youth program.

The Russell’s then applied to the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania to enable the funding of the Youth Worker full time.

St Andrews Uniting Church – Donald

“We were able to run health expos where they bussed in all the kids into Birchip and looked at healthy eating and all sorts of things such as sports, substance abuse, inappropriate sex and behaviour. At the end of that first two years it was so successful that we then asked The Synod for another grant for another two years. We were able to help fund the youth worker for four years and we really started to see a difference for the youth but there was still so much work to do,” said Mr Russell.

Better Health released a statement that young children in regional areas are more inclined to drink underage over those living in metropolitan areas.

But what is driving these children to push the limits of the law and become involved in these illegal activities?

“They don’t actually understand that drinking is meant to be sociable, to enjoy, to have fun and eat and have conversation. But this drinking to be numb is bloody sad and I see a lot of that,” Mr Russell said.

“I think the football clubs have made an effort in that direction to be more responsible about young people and drinking,” Mrs Russell said.

Julie Saylor, Youth Development Officer for the Buloke Shire has helped young children find alternative activities such as encouraging them to attend their local youth groups.

“The youth groups have all increased by tenfold, participation is high and young people that would never engage with a service before are actually engaging with a LGA which is not rare but it’s unusual. They are more inclined to want to work with community based organisations, but our participation rates has been fantastic and they are all involved in some level of all our programs,” Saylor said.

On March 2012, Saylor held a local youth freezer ‘Huddle for the Puddle’ at Birchip to help raise funds for the Charlton floods.

The Birchip Youth Group helped Saylor make this event a success having The Justice Crew as their main act.

“Since the youth group put on this event and even with all the after math of challenges it’s actually been quite positive because other shires are finally starting to see what young people and what our programs are doing. Even for all the challenges that the program has the other side of the program is that it’s quite well respected from funding bodies to other workers in other shires,” said Saylor.

The Buloke Shire and Uniting Church say they are not giving up on these children.

The programs set in place have enabled children to form a brighter future, one without violence, jail time and drug and alcohol abuse.

It is believed that this behaviour is a cry for help from other issues that are occurring at home.

“If we were to say what the worse thing we see is, yes we see alcohol and yes we see problems with sexual stuff, but the biggest thing is parenting. Being the parent the mother or the father wanting to be their son or daughters best friend rather than their parent,” said the Russell’s.

The Uniting Church has continued to sponsor the local football club and together with Donald football trainer, Colin Adams, John holds a breakfast before each football match for players that do not eat breakfast.

“They don’t come up and say XYZ but I know deep down that they feel the church really cares about them and their attitudes have changed tremendously. Our aim to get involved with the youth at football and in sport wherever was to not put bums on seats, it was to actually show that we care and we want to share God’s love with them in another way. That we will be there, have a presence, support them, do whatever we can do that’s within our power and try to make a difference and I think we have done that,” the Russell’s said.

To listen to the full interviews please click on the pod-cast.

A Burning start to Spring

Posted: October 1, 2012 by 320b in Environment, Rural Events
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September 6th

Written by Bennett Norbury

A swift grass fire backed by 100km/h winds ripped through the fields of Cooma yesterday pushing fire brigades back to the outskirts of Berridale.

At approximately 2pm yesterday, officers from Fire Rescue station 263 in Cooma NSW, supported by elements of Rural Fire Services, rushed to the scene of a life threatening grass fire in the fields outside of Cooma.

The blaze engulfed a 100-year-old historical home in its wake however no other properties were damaged.

Cooma Fire officer Bede Nicols said, “A number of properties were threatened but we were able to protect them and thankfully, no one got hurt.”

As fire crews slowly began to get a strangle hold over the grass fire, it leaped into another paddock and surged towards the town of Berridale some 20km away.

Paul Clark, manager of Snowy Mountains Airport located between Comma and Berridale said, “I could see the fire moving across the paddock quickly.

“With all the smoke in the air and given how strong the wind was, I was beginning to panic.”

25 fire trucks and a helicopter performed a desperate fighting withdrawal and were able to halt the fire on the outskirts of Berridale.

Strong winds continued throughout the day damaging homes throughout the region. The ABC has the latest updates on the story.

For information and advice on fire safety, contact your regional fire department.

Animal Aid welfare worker, Sharon Smith holding her pet dog, Eagan.

How sweet it is to be welcomed home by family after a long time apart.

Or so it must’ve felt if these three pet cats, two guinea pigs and one rabbit were given a voice.

The furry passengers were gripped with excitement as they were driven home in a van by Animal Aid welfare worker, Sharon Smith.

Earlier that day, Sharon received a phone call saying the pet owner, a mother of three, had found a new home and escaped the clutches of her abusive partner.

“I don’t know who was more excited, me or the lady,” said Sharon.

For a month these animals had been in the care of Animal Aid, a not-for-profit animal welfare organisation.

Now it was time to return them to a new home, free from fear and domestic abuse.

“When I knocked at the door all I could hear was ‘mummy they’re here, they’re here’. The sheer excitement in all of their voices, including the mum, was putting a big lump in my throat,” said Sharon, the memories of the occasion still bright in her eyes.

“Well, the tears were flowing with joy from the kids. And the pets were getting so many cuddles and kisses. It was just beautiful to watch.”

This story is one of hope and not despair – sadly, this is not the case for many other pets and families in need.

And it’s hitting closer to home than ever before.

“Sometimes I wonder what this family would have done if they hadn’t been told about our Pets in Peril program. Would they still be living with the perpetrator? Or would they have fled and have had to leave the pets behind, and not know what the future would have been for the pets?” said Sharon.

Recent reports confirm that family violence-related crime has climbed by 39.9 per cent in Victoria, with the state’s overall crime rate rising for the first time since 2000/2001.

A 2008 Monash University study has also proven that more than 50 per cent of victims delay leaving a violent relationship, fearing the abuser will harm the family pet.

Leaving these victims silenced.

A furry adoption candidate in the Animal Aid cattery

Launched in 2006, Animal Aid’s Pets in Peril program offers a way of giving them a voice.

Debra Boland, Animal Aid Marketing and Communications Manager, said that the program offers temporary accommodation to the pets of victims fleeing domestic violence.

“Basically we give them about 28 days but unfortunately that is rarely long enough. And we are often asked to extend that period of time. And we do,” said Debra.

“It means that victims will no longer have to compromise their safety and the safety of their children for the sake of their pets.”

In September 2012, the Baillieu government pledged 16 million dollars in response to the rise in domestic violence in Victoria.

But space in the Animal Aid facilities is limited, and they receive no government funding for the 6000 animals they take in each year.

“Ignorance is probably too hard a word, but a lack of government understanding of the role animal shelters play in the domestic violence realm,” said Debra

“It’s a logical conclusion to give the money to the domestic violence support services. They just don’t see Animal Aid as one of them.”

Despite no official government funding, the efforts of over 470 volunteers help maintain programs like Pets in Peril.

The program’s role is now being recognised by the Yarra Ranges Council Youth Services, which is sponsoring a Dog-A-Thon to raise funds and awareness.

“Aside from being an animal lover, I want to make a difference to the lives of those that cannot speak for themselves,” said Romina Inglese, member of the Council’s ‘Youth Leaders’ program.

“All proceeds will go to Animal Aid to build more infrastructure as part of their campaign to rescue more animals.”

The campaign is called Give Them A Voice, and it intends to do exactly that.

For more information please ring 9739 0300, or visit the official Animal Aid and Give Them a Voice website.
Donate to Animal Aid at any branch of Bendigo Bank.

People of note

Posted: September 27, 2012 by brycemason in Arts & Culture, Music, Rural Events

Welcome to the Herald Sun Aria Award Heat 1.

Facing the stage at Ballarat’s Her Majesty’s Theatre

The emcee welcomes everyone. Introduces our adjudicators, our pianist, tells everyone to turn off their phones. Most in the audience of 25 do not. But they are mostly elderly. I switch it to flight mode. He introduces the first competitor.

The lights go out. The red curtain rises and a beautiful old Steinway is simply lit. Being the first onstage is a tough slot. You set the tone for the whole show. It is your responsibility to start with a bang. You have to hook the audience, you have to impress the judges, and, most importantly, you have to not stuff it up.

Something else about the first slot is the amount of time of time between the beginning and the end. By the end, unless you’ve done your job right, you are mostly forgotten. Or you are remembered in abstract ways, like what you were wearing or the colour of your hair, or how you stuffed it up.

The Herald Sun Aria Award has been part of the Royal South Street Society’s repertoire for the 88 years. The Herald Sun has been the sponsor for all that time.

The award showcases exciting new operatic talent, with the winner getting a $30,000 cash prize with overseas tuition.

Herald Sun Aria 2012 Finalists (From left) Javier Vilarino, Fiona Jopson, Brenton Spiteri, Elizabeth Lewis, Roberto Abate and Clarissa Spata.

The Royal South Street Society, better known as simply South Street, started as a Men’s Debating Society in 1879, but grew to include acting, singing, music, dance and calisthenics. Australia’s premier calisthenics competition is held at South Street.

Maria Callas once said, “I would not kill my enemies, but I will make them get down on their knees. I will, I can, I must.” Opera is all about talent and only the most talented and disciplined performers succeed.

Of a pool of 48, only the best young talent will be considered, until there are just six performers who will battle it out at Hamer Hall to be crowned the winner.

A scurry of applause comes from the 25-strong audience. Ms. Kate Amos introduces herself, and her song, and sings.

The final will be performed at Hamer Hall on Monday, October 22 at 7pm. The six finalists are Roberto Abate, Javier Vilarino, Brenton Spiteri, Elizabeth Lewis, Fiona Jopson and Clarissa Sparta.

Follow the link to listen to Hana Crisp at the Herald Sun Aria Award.

It’s winter so let’s celebrate it with a lot of snow!

Snow in Ashburton

And it was the joy of snow that has attracted thousands of children to come to the snow tube event at Ashburton on July 21st 2012. The whole shopping centre has become a place to celebrate the winter and the joy of life itself. There was Blake the Buller Flake, Frosty the Snowman and the “Skater Dude”, a lot of surprises and giveaways for both adult and kids and the last but not the least the ice tube was there for the very first time in the Ashburton snow event.

Mt Buller delivered tonnes of snow and snow tubes in Ashburton.  The Ashburton shopping area was turned into a snow play zone for kids and families.

The snow at Ashburton is an annual event that started 6 years ago. At that time the coordinator of the snow at Ashburton event, Lis Webster saw on the news that Mt. Butler took snow down on the zoo. She was then inspired to do the same thing on the Lexia street.  She rang the management of the Mt. Butler, and they told her that they willing to have it ago.

Snow really happened in Ashburton on 9th of August 1961. When I asked Ms Webster about this she told me that yes it was really happened but it was not that fact that has inspired her to ring Mt. Butler to bring the snow to Lexia Street. Ms Webster said: “It always fun to do things to be a bit different and it was fun to have a snow on the street”.

The beauty of the snow has marked the day for the kids. The snow event undoubtedly has been one of the most wonderful experiences in their lives, Abby (8 years old) and Ella (9 years old) said that “This is one of the best experience I ever experienced, I told my friends to come along because this is so much fun”.