Motorists advised to delay all travel

Motorists are advised to delay all travel due to the wild weather on the NSW North and Mid North Coast.
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Waterfall Way is now closed in both directions on Dorrigo Mountain due to flooding.

As well, numerous trees have fallen across the Pacific Highway between Nambucca and the Queensland border due to the heavy rain and high winds.

In Dirty Creek, traffic on the Pacific Highway is affected in both directions due to water over the road.

For the latest traffic information, visitwww.livetraffic南京夜网or call 132 701

A tree fell across the road near Port Macquarie High School earlier today (Friday).

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Memories, in Technicolor

SOME memories never fade away – like a movie reel, they go on and on.
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Take the old days at the Dandenong Town Hall. The hall, now the Drum Theatre, was a hive of community activity.

Happy: Jovo and Vicky Popvic. Picture: Wayne Hawkins

During World War II it would be packed to the rafters with American servicemen — back from the fierce fightinginGuadalcanal in the Solomon Islands— who had a camp at Rowville and painted the town red at the dances. Then there were the music and art festivals for youth, sundry concerts and displays.

Then a front page headline in the Dandenong Journal, dated August 1941, jogged my memory of this action-packed era.

‘Pictures for Dandenong Town Hall’, the headline proclaimed. The story read: “Tenders for the leasing of the Dandenong Town Hall for pictures were dealt with at a special meeting of the council on Monday night.

The tender of Mr C Armstrong of St Kilda at £13, 10s a week for a term of three years was accepted. Mr Armstrong intends to show pictures every Wednesday night and Saturday afternoons and evenings and it’s expected the first screening will be at the end of September.”

Around the corner, the matinees at the Boomerang Theatre in Thomas Street held us in thrall. Ms McAfee was in charge of the library upstairs. John Chambers was the town hall caretaker. Another very popular town hall caretaker was Luke McCoy.

The silver lining

We’re a greying nation and it’s important that our elderly get out and about to make new friends. That process need not end in their 20s and 30s. In our city, elderly folk can choose from numerous clubs whose members have diverse interests … sports, travel, excursions, crafts and more.

Not the least of these is the Springvale Senior Citizens Club where long-time club members Vicky and Jovo Popvic celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary on February 19.

Surrounded by 100 of their closest family and friends, it was a perfect day, made happier by the lasting bonds of friendship between club members.

Any senior citizen can join the Springvale club, which meets at 3 The Crescent, Springvale. For times, call Mary Borg on 9547 6908.

What do you think? Post a comment below.

Do you have a milestone, memory or question for Marg? Email [email protected]南京夜网.au or post submissions to A Moment with Marg, c/o The Dandenong Journal, PO Box 318,Dandenong 3175.

For all the latest breaking news, stay with this website. Also, follow the Weekly atfacebook南京夜网/dandenongjournalor on Twitter @DandyJournal.

Pakula tipped as Holding successor

THE next likely Lyndhurst MP could be chosen by March 20 after the Labor Party meets to preselect its candidate this week.
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Party officials on the ALP’s administrative committee will meet on Thursday to choose how they will preselect a candidate for the Lyndhurst byelection, ALP state secretary Noah Carroll said.

Insiders suggest their meeting is likely to choose the shortest possible timeline, given that a byelection date is set by the Liberal Speaker Ken Smith.

Mr Smith could theoretically choose a date between March 20 and early May, but the actual date won’t be known until he issues a writ.

Labor officials suggest speed and preparedness are key in the byelection.

Barrister Miguel Belmar has announced he will stand for preselection, although doubts have been raised about his lack of profile in the party.

Many members suggest upper house MP Martin Pakula as a likely successor to Tim Holding, who officially stepped down on February 18.

The safe Labor seat, with a 13.9 per cent margin, is unlikely to be contested by the Liberal Party, and may also not be seriously challenged by the Greens.

What do you think? Post a comment below.

For all the latest breaking news, stay with this website. Also, follow the Weekly atfacebook南京夜网/dandenongjournalor on Twitter @DandyJournal.

A foot in the rubble

Source: The Age
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In oneof the most chilling photographs taken on February 22, 2011, a white-sneakered foot protrudes from a dirty grey blanket amid a mountain of rubble. The foot belonged to Olivia Cruickshank.

Left for dead , she lay face down amid the ruins of City Mall. She lay silent and still as the sirens wailed and the people screamed. There were no signs of life in her face as the limp body of her six-year-old daughter Abigail was pulled from beneath her.

For more than two hours, three men separately searched for a pulse or a sign of life. She gave them nothing. Now, two years on, Olivia wants the world to know that, against tremendous odds, she and Abigail are alive.

Olivia, 35, does not often talk about how she came back from the dead, nor does she like to discuss how Abigail, now 8, nearly died beneath her.

She can’t explain their survival – to her, it is truly a miracle.

”I didn’t believe in miracles to the extent that I do now. A miracle to me now is something that cannot be explained easily. There are some things in this world that you just can’t get your head around. Maybe there were guardian angels or maybe it just wasn’t my time.”

Looking at her and Abbie now, there is barely a sign of their ordeal. Their physical scars are hidden and they laugh often. They look like just another mother and daughter, giggling as they cuddle on the couch in the comfort of their North Christchurch home.

But, seeing them together, knowing what they have had to overcome, makes their survival all the more wondrous.

”All those people thought I was dead and yet here I am, drinking a cup of coffee, sitting on the couch,” Olivia says.

But she suffers from post-traumatic amnesia and still has no recollection of the week before the quake to a month after it.

It has been wiped from her memory and her account of what happened on the day is based on a jigsaw of second-hand information from her rescuers, hospital notes and appointment cards.

She starts with what she knows: On Tuesday, February 22, Abbie had a routine dental check-up appointment at Christchurch Hospital at 2pm. At 12.50 they were wandering through City Mall hand-in-hand looking for somewhere to have lunch.

A minute later, the magnitude-6.3 quake tore the mall to pieces. It ripped up paving, smashed glass windows and shook buildings to the ground. Debris and rubble rained down on the mother and daughter, hurling them to the pavement. As the dust began to settle, people started to comb through the ruins for any signs of life.

Joe Roy, 29, one of the first to find the pair, has remained a close family friend ever since and he has helped to fill in the blanks. He recalls seeing Olivia’s legs sticking out from beneath a colossal brick and concrete column.

A group of 10 men, some in work suits, tried to lift the column, which was the ”size of a two-seater couch”, he says.

It was too heavy to lift, so they used a steel rod to lever it up.

As they pulled Olivia’s ”twisted and bent” body out from beneath the column, Roy saw her arm was draped protectively over a small child, hidden beneath the debris. They were bloodied and purple, starved of oxygen.

”Once we lifted that thing it looked like they were gone. They were purple, their eyes were open, they weren’t breathing at all. They didn’t look alive,” Roy says.

Abbie’s tiny, limp body was quickly plucked from the wreckage.

Roy and an another man put their hands together to form a human stretcher and ran to Christchurch Hospital. Two young boys cleared a path for the men, using their skateboards to separate the gathering crowds and stop traffic.

Abbie was the first person with earthquake injuries to reach the hospital. The other man sat in the carpark for hours waiting to hear if she had survived, while Roy ran back to City Mall to try to help her mother. By the time he reached the mall Olivia was covered by a blanket, already pronounced dead by a dentist and a medic from St John Ambulance. Believing Olivia was dead, Roy was helping someone else when he saw her blanket move. He tore it off, tried to clear her airway and yelled for help.

Another St John medic checked for a pulse and placed the blanket back over her body, telling Roy she was dead and her body was only twitching from the trauma. Again, Olivia Cruickshank was left to die.

She lay in the rubble for two hours and it wasn’t until a young construction worker saw her foot twitch that she was finally given the help she desperately needed.

Another medic found a faint pulse and together they lifted her out of the rubble. She arrived at Christchurch Hospital almost three hours after the quake, despite being injured less than one kilometre away.

According to hospital reports, neither mother nor daughter were opening their eyes, verbally responding or moving any of their limbs when they arrived.

Abbie had suffered crush injuries, a traumatic brain injury, liver lacerations, a broken jaw, cuts to her face and scalp and had a limited response to resuscitation. Olivia had a collapsed lung, a broken neck, a shattered jaw, a ripped ear lobe and a severe traumatic brain injury.

”At one point the doctors considered stopping treatment on Abbie and I have been told that I would have died if I arrived at the hospital 20 minutes later,” Olivia says.

Shortly after 5pm that day, her partner of 13 years, Tristan Walls, received the worst phone call of his life.

Tristan, who had been trying to get hold of Olivia for hours, was ecstatic to see a call come through from her mobile phone. But it was the voice of a stranger who told him his partner and daughter had been critically injured and that he needed to hurry because ”things weren’t looking good”.

Up to that point, Walls had been feeling lucky as earlier in the day he had been working in the CTV building (later to collapse, killing 115) and he had also stopped by Joe’s Garage on Hereford Street, which also crumbled, claiming a life.

He nearly collapsed when he first saw Olivia and Abbie at the hospital. ”I couldn’t breathe. Abbie was all purple and Liv was just so bashed up. It was like somebody had just ripped my heart out,” he says.

It took eight steps to walk from one bed to the other and he made the short journey hundreds of times that night.

Olivia and Abbie were then both flown to Auckland’s Starship Hospital.

Doctors initially warned Tristan that if Abbie survived it was unlikely she would ever fully recover or be the child she used to be.

When she woke for the first time three days after the quake, he was there. She told her father her birthday, her cat’s name and that she loved him, Then she slipped back into unconsciousness.

SHE did not fully wake from her coma for another two days. She was disoriented and extremely distressed when she came to and Walls was woken at 4am and came running. Doctors pulled a chair up to Abbie’s bed, carefully picked her up to avoid further damage to her spine and placed her on Wall’s lap for comfort.

It was the first time he had been able to hold her. ”It was the most amazing feeling. It was the first time I felt like we were going to make it out of all this,” he says.

The extent of her crush injuries left Abbie with blood-red eyes for weeks after the quake. At first she could only speak like a baby and couldn’t walk at all.

Occupational therapists used an array of different methods to help her recover, including fingerpaint, play dough and whiteboards. Three weeks later she was discharged from hospital and has since made a full recovery. Abbie is now known as Starship Hospital’s ”miracle kid”.

She is now one of the top pupils in her Cotswold Primary School class and her days are busy with dancing lessons, swimming classes and touch rugby games.

Her mother’s road to recovery has not been as smooth. Olivia underwent a 9½-hour operation to repair her injuries and can only recall bizarre fragments of her stay in hospital, such as having vivid hallucinations that she was being held captive in a foreign country.

After 3½ weeks, she was transferred to the brain injury rehabilitation unit at another hospital.

In late March, when her neurologist told her Prime Minister John Key was coming to the hospital to meet quake survivors, she panicked.

”I was upset all day because I thought they were going to ask me to lie to the Prime Minister and say I was hurt in the earthquake, when I actually believed I had been hit by a bus.”

It took weeks before Olivia began to understan she had been injured in a second quake. Her family did not tell her how close to death she had come until the end of her five-week stay. ”Everyone told me and I understood what they said, but I still thought it was so unbelievable,” she says.

It wasn’t until April when she watched video footage from City Mall that it finally sunk in. ”I remember watching the DVD thinking I must have been somewhere in the area and then I saw my foot. I recognised my shoe. I rewinded it, paused it on my body and just went into absolute shock,” she says.

”It cemented everything I had been told. I believed what people had said but didn’t think it had actually happened. It was just utter disbelief, there were so many people around me and yet there I was.”

Olivia doesn’t feel any bitterness towards the people who mistakenly left her for dead. If anything, she wants to tell them how ”bloody grateful” she is.

”I feel for them because of the trauma they have gone through and the guilt they have felt knowing that I was alive and that I am alive. The guilt people feel is huge,” she says, crying for the only time in our interview.

”They need to know that Abbie and I wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t lifted that stuff off us. She would have suffocated and the weight would have been too heavy for me.”

But two years after being pulled from the rubble, the after-effects of her injuries still linger. She suffers from extreme fatigue, severe headaches and her memory is still hazy at times. But she has returned to work part-time and life is slowly getting back to what it once was.

There are even some positives – an unshakeable bond with Abbie and a stronger relationship with Tristan. ”If we can get through what we got through, nothing can stop us,” she says.

The battered city of Christchurch remains home for the family, perhaps because of Olivia’s ”pig-headed stubbornness” or because the city’s recovery is linked to her own.

”I believe it is a miracle that we both survived that day,” she says. ”We have been given a second chance and I want to make the most of it.”

Olivia Cruickshank lies in the rubble of the Christchurch earthquake; her foot sticks out from the blanket rescuers covered her with after taking daughter Abbie to hospital. Photo: IAIN McGREGOR

Abbie with her mother. Photo: KIRK HARGREAVES

Sarah Harris: Happily frozen in Nippon Nikon time

FOR a time in the late ’70s our family made its home on a bluff overlooking Guam’s Tumon Bay.
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Back then, the Micronesian island was the No.1 destination for Japanese honeymooners, who flocked there on Western-style white wedding packages.

From the hotels below, many couples espied the perfect vantage for wedding photographs and beat a path through the tropical undergrowth to summit on our front lawn.

There, the pretty little brides and their camera-slung grooms would politely await until they caught someone’s attention to “please, photo”.

In the autumn of ’79 I took dozens of photos of bridal couples poised like happy birds between sea and sky and — as a dubious return courtesy — they took dozens of me.

A photograph of the photographer was an unspoken part of the deal.

I imagined the presence of my lumpy teen self in the newlyweds’ albums being explained to bemused relatives from Akita to Yamaguchi.

“. . and this is the fat girl at the top of the cliff who takes photographs”.

Travelling along the Great Ocean Road last week I noticed couples of all walks stopped at lookouts taking their own photographs in that peculiar heads-tight-together-one-arm-outstretched pose of the phone camera.

With some sadness I realised the random helpful stranger who appeared in albums the world over had become redundant — the curled up corner of a memory, like the ghosts on a polaroid left too long in the sun.

But behind the shoji screens and across the tatami mats, the plump girl at the top of the cliff lives on.

Firies save “catastrophic” incident after truck catches fire at Faulconbrige

Quick work by Springwoodfirefighters stopped a potentially “catastrophic incident” this morning when a truck caught fire and ruptured both its fuel tanks at Faulconbridge.
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Specialist hazmat workers from NSW Fire and Rescue only finished emptying the truck’sfuel tanks about 3pm today (Friday) following the incident at9.45am.

Inspector Josh Turner of NSW Fire and Rescue said quick work extinguishing the blazeby a Springwood NSW Fire and Rescue crew saved the ruptured fuel tanks from catching fire.

“Because of the ruptured tanks it could have been quite a catastrophic incident,” he said.

Inspector Turner said the truck driver noticed smoke filling the cabin as he was travelling west on the Great Western Highway. By the time he pulled over and left the vehicle, flames were shooting out of the exhaust.

“The fire totally destroyed the cabin and ruptured both fuel tanks,” said Inspector Turner.

Ahazmat team from St Marys was called to empty the fuel tanks and remove the truck from the scene.

The incident caused major delays to westbound traffic on the Great Western Highway.

A NSW Fire and Rescue team from Glenbrook also attended the incident.

An electrical fault was the likely cause of the fire.

The scene of the truck fire at Faulconbridge on Friday morning, February 22. Photo: Top Notch Video.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

A long way from the top

Swedish pop group Abba last performed in Melbourne 36 years ago — the last of three concerts at the Sidney Myer music bowl with almost 15,000 fans per show and almost as many outside the fence.
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But, in more ways than one, they never went away.

Nor did the fans. Take Trish England for instance, dancing and grooving to all the hits — Ring Ring, Mama-Mia, SOS, Fernando, Waterloo — here at, um, the Grand in Cathies Lane, Wantirna South.

Well maybe it’s not exactly Abba, but for Trish and nine dedicated friends who’ve travelled from Wonthaggi, near enough is better than good enough. As the self-described Abba Groupies, they’re at their 36th consecutive performance by the Swedish quartet’s tribute band Babba.

No Babba show is complete, it seems, without the Groupies. Not only do they pile into a bus and pursue the act to every Victorian gig, they

synchronise their dancing and even their dress to what’s happening on stage. When Babba has a costume change, so do the Groupies — into identical outfits.

Plastic musical instruments are also part of their routine and it goes without saying that there’s an even distribution of blondes and brunettes.

Babba, one of the most successful of a number of Abba tribute groups, has the illusion down pat: the trademark hip-hugging sequined jumpsuits, the beards, the slick choreography, the soothing harmonies, even the effervescent Scandinavian accents.

“If you close your eyes, you would think they were Abba,” enthuses Ms England.

The respect is mutual: band member Michael Ingvarson, who plays Benny Andersson, says they keep a close eye on the Groupies. “It’s a sign we do a good job and they enjoy it and keep coming back. A lot of people over the years keep coming back.”

The two pieces of mutual affection might illustrate why the phenomenon of tribute bands seems to be growing stronger and stronger, in Australia and overseas. It might not be the real thing but it’s close — and familiarity breeds content.

There have been tribute acts since . . . well, since Elvis was in the building. In fact, Elvis tribute artists, or impersonators, are still probably the largest class of such acts. Possibly the first tribute bands — as opposed to impersonators — were those paying homage to the Beatles, such as the (unimaginatively named) Buggs.

The idea, of course, is to replicate, as closely as possible the look and sound of the originals, although the names are often appalling puns — the Fab Faux, ReGenesis and Fred Zeppelin. Most of the great names of rock over the past half century now have tribute bands or performers: The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Queen, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Madonna, Oasis . . . the list goes on.

But the tributes — and fans — spill into a range of genres and not all of them pop or rock.

At the Cardinia Cultural Centre over the next few months, for instance, there’s an Englebert Humperdink tribute and others to Liza Minelli and Shirley Bassey, Doris Day and ‘the Queens of Croon’ such as Patti Page. That’s on top of the Ultimate Bee Gees and Ultimate Rock and Roll Show with ersatz Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash as well as Time Warp, a tribute to the Rocky Horror Show.

And, while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, some acts add a twist to the tribute: Gabba performs Abba songs but in the style of the Ramones; there’s Mini Kiss, a band made up of little people; and a range of distaff

versions, such as the all-female AC/DShe, Aerochix, the Iron Maidens and Lez Zeppelin.

Australia has long been an epicentre of tribute. In 1997 the Sunday Times in London called Australia “the main cradle of the tribute band”. Journalist Tony Barrell claimed it was because “starved of big names, owing to their reluctance to put Oz on their tour

itineraries, Australians were quite unembarrassed about creating home-grown versions”.

These days one of the original Abba knock-offs, Bjorn Again, and acts like The Australian Pink Floyd Show now regularly perform in the UK.

Babba had its start in 1994, partly, band members admit, because of their physical resemblance to Agnetha, Frida, Bjorn and Benny — but also to cash in on the wave of nostalgia sparked by the release of Muriel’s Wedding and, earlier, the greatest hits record Abba Gold.

So before hitting the stage at the Grand, Michael Ingvarson pencils on a beard and straightens his hair to mimic Benny and he and James

Macdonald, as Bjorn Ulvaeus, slip into those Evel Knievel-like jumpsuits. Jacqueline Hamilton is a slim, tall brunette image of Frida Lyngstad and Kelly Wild her blond match as Agnetha Faltskog.

But that’s not all. They seamlessly segue from Oz to Swedish accents. “We just slip into the characters when we go on stage,” says Ingvarson. “It wouldn’t make sense to go out there and speak in an Australian accent.

“It’s not just a band, it’s reliving the Abba experience. We’re always refining our performance and trying to make it more like Abba. They were such great singers.”

There’s clearly a hunger for what they provide. About 450 fans flocked to Babba’s first show at the Central Hotel, Richmond, in December 1994.

“Our manager advertised the first show almost like we were an international act,” Ingvarson says. “By the third year we were doing 180 shows a year.” Now the four have more than 2500 shows under their sequined belts and performed at the closing

ceremony of the Masters Games in 2002 in front of 45,000 people.

It’s probably a 180-degree turn from Abba to AC/DC, but the latter’s tribute band, Acca Dacca, is another of Australia’s most popular substitute gigs. And lead singer Larry Attard was probably destined to front it.

In 1975 his band Snake supported AC/DC at two shows in Sydney and after the death of Bon Scott in 1980, the band’s Malcolm and Angus Young were spotted at a Snake gig, checking him out as a replacement. He was called in to Albert Studios in Sydney, but the job went to Brian Johnson — so that’s who Attard now plays in Acca Dacca. And loves it.

“No one can play AC/DC songs like they can, but Acca Dacca come damn close,” he says. “People actually want to come and see us and the elation on their face afterwards is great. It may be the AC/DC factor, who knows?

“We don’t really have to do very much extra. I am in a black shirt and cloth cap and the rest are in jeans and T-shirts.”

Attard says keeping Acca Dacca’s performances simple was vital. “We just play meat and potatoes rock ‘n’ roll really. We don’t let our crowds down. We get out there and play it like AC/DC would.”

In 2008 Angus Young paid Acca Dacca the ultimate compliment when he told German TV: “If you can’t see us, see Acca Dacca.”

Attard is incredibly proud of that. “He was virtually saying that AC/DC can’t play everywhere, so if you get a chance go see Acca Dacca.”

While AC/DC can’t play everywhere, the artists Joe Piastrino pays musical tribute to, for the most part, can’t play anywhere. He started off as an Elvis impersonator but decided there were so many of that original rock and roll ilk. Piastrino’s repertoire includes Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, The Drifters and most notably Roy Orbison.

His first Orbison tribute was in 2006 and now includes many of the trademarks Orbison was known for — the dark glasses, slick, straight hair, tassels and dark jackets.

“If you are going to be impersonating him you have to be as close as you possibly can. I don’t do Roy without the costume, it just doesn’t work.”

But it’s the music, the singing that transports the fans. “When you hit those high notes on the head it’s a real buzz.”

Piastrino says the emotion he is able to evoke from his crowds has “blown me away”.

“We’ve had ladies crying and men coming up to me saying that my song brought back memories. And that’s what it is all about.”

Acca Dacca’s James Mcintyre channels Angus Young.

Substitutes: Babba does their thing, like a certain Swedish supergroup.

Joe Piastrino invokes the late, great ‘lonely one’ Roy Orbison in his tribute show. Picture: Shawn Smits

Volgren bus dispute continues

WORKERS at a Dandenong South bus-making factory are expected to extend a six-month industrial dispute by voting down a pay offer on Thursday.
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Many of the Volgren workforce — members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union — downed tools for four work days in a row up until last Tuesday as part of the dispute.

Warren Butler, assistant national vehicle division secretary of the AMWU, estimated about 100 of the 120 workforce had joined the protected stopwork action.

Each day, a group of about 50 disgruntled Volgren workers held barbecues outside the factory’s Hammond Road fence.

Mr Butler said the main sticking point was proposed job classification changes that would cut new workers’ pay by 30 per cent.

“There’s important union principles at stake,” Mr Butler said. “They’re effectively taking us on a race to the bottom. It’s a tribute to our guys. They’ve got mortgages and it would have been easy for them not to worry about the workers coming through.”

Volgren’s general manager of sales and marketing Tony Kerr could not be contacted.

At the start of the dispute in August, he told the Journal that the bus-making market had steered downwards.

“The bus industry is having more difficult times. Governments aren’t spending the money they used to and there are significantly less buses being ordered than in the past five years,” he said at the time.

“Whatever the workers are being offered in the current business environment is better than being offered nothing and losing their jobs.”

What do you think? Post a comment below.

For all the latest breaking news, stay with this website. Also, follow the Weekly atfacebook南京夜网/dandenongjournalor on Twitter @DandyJournal.

Cooking up a storm: Volgren workers during their four-day stopwork outside the factory in Dandenong South. Picture: Cam Lucadou-Wells

Filfthy over rockpool

I would not be surprised to be informed that the person responsible for the cleanliness and safety of the Cronulla rock pool has resigned, retired, gone on long service leave or won Lotto.
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It is in a disgraceful condition and not just because of all the weed that has come in the last 10 days. Sand, slime and sharp barnacles are the main problems.

It has been reported online, and by phone to the council and mentioned to the lifeguards at Cronulla. Just go and have a look. Clean it or close it — please!

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

‘Act on behaviour, not colour’

Bridging the gap: Interaction between police and young African-Australians is the subject of a critical new report, despite the work of multicultural liaison police. Picture Joe Armao/The AgeCOMPLAINTS of heavy-handed policing of African youth have “not completely gone away”, says a south-eastern community legal service boss.
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Helen Yandell, director of Springvale-Monash Legal Service, was pleased with the “positive” response by Chief Commissioner Ken Lay to the issue last week.

“I think the instances have reduced but not enough for my liking. We’re hearing anecdotally that it’s still happening.

“Youth workers are still telling me these stories, and they’re not dissimilar to our 2009 report.”

The report Boys, you wanna give me some action: Interventions into Policing of Racialised Communities in Melbourne, co-authored by three community legal services including Springvale-Monash, found African young people claiming “racialised” treatment by police.

The report stated Africans were being excessively stopped and searched, questioned, asked for identification and asked to move on — more so than other cultural groups. In some cases they were victims of physical violence.

Last week, after an out-of-court settlement between police and a group of African-Australians alleging “racial profiling” and over-policing against them, Victoria Police’s chief commissioner Ken Lay acknowledged “some of our people have let us down”.

Chief Commissioner Lay announced a review into police’s public relations and multicultural training.

At the Dandenong-based Safe Suburbs taskforce, there is a sense of marked change — especially since moving from a “zero tolerance” to “firm but fair” approach to public disorder last August.

Acting Senior Sergeant Sam Knight, who heads the enforcement arm of the taskforce, says her members treat everyone equally.

“We have quite a good rapport with the African community. You come across the same sort of people and same sort of issues regardless of background.”

The Safe Suburbs taskforce has been credited with reducing public drinking and public robberies and assaults in Greater Dandenong since late 2011. Protective services officers have also becalmed notorious railway stations such as Dandenong at night.

Senior Sergeant Knight says out-of-control, unregistered weekend parties — many involving African and Pacific Islander groups — were the most pressing issue. Police are being called out to disperse crowds of hundreds of intoxicated people from about six parties each weekend.