South-east Melbourne supporters kick-off A-League bid

Excitement is brewing for soccer fans in south-east Melbourne as the region’s bid for national soccer teams was signed and celebrated yesterday in Dandenong.

The mayors of Cardinia Shire, City of Casey and Greater Dandenong signed a Memorandum of Understanding at Harmony Square yesterday afternoon, officially declaring their joint bid.

After the signing, a community event was held with a number of local clubs. The event was staged to promote interest in the bid and for members of the clubs to show their support.

The event included games, free food and an entertaining soccer skills display from Greater Dandenong Mayor Cr. Jim Memeti.

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Dandenong mayor Cr. Jim Memeti shows the crowd how it’s done. Photo credit: Billy Spencer

Dandenong Thunder administrator Adem Tahiri admitted he was “quietly disappointed” with the crowd numbers, in part due to his club posting about the event to Facebook only 2 hours prior.

Casey Comets president Dawn Stone was pleased with the turnout, saying that most players were at training, which brought down the crowd numbers.

Despite the small crowd, Mr. Tahiri and Ms. Stone both said the support they’ve seen has been magnificent.

“Everybody is very, very, keen,” said Ms. Stone. “I think just the fact that we have several big, established clubs coming together … I think that shows just how much it’s needed.”

“There’s a wealth of population and talent in the area that’s not getting an opportunity.”

“It’s just that people love where they live, and to have a team to represent that would be quite something.”

Mr. Tahiri warned not to be too hasty. “We have the support, we have the culture, but what we need is money.”

“We’ll need to build a stadium, that will cost money … maintenance of the stadium, that will cost money; the day-to-day administration, that will cost money.”

“If we were approved tomorrow, this wouldn’t work.”

But before dealing with those problems, the bid will have to fend off competition from the likes of Geelong and South Melbourne, who are also bidding for the 11th Hyundai A-League team.

Vince Grella, a former Socceroo who made his start as a Springvale City junior, was officially announced as an ambassador for the south-east’s bid.

The three joint areas are also looking to establish sides in the W-League and the National Youth League.

To combat opposing bids, Ms. Stone said “we really want to focus on the diversity of the area, we reckon that’s a real strength of ours.”

Throughout the event, Harmony Square’s big screen proclaimed key selling points of the regions, such as that the three regions have over 150 nationalities and that Casey is the fastest-growing area in Victoria.

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Harmony Square was buzzing with conversation and inflatables. Photo credit: Billy Spencer

“This will really be a people-focused club,” said Mr. Tahiri. “We still need the money, but it’s the support of the people that will make this successful.”


Burning bridges to fight Berwick Springs redevelopment

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The entrance to Berwick Springs. The roundabout will be expanded and moved south (further back). Photo credit: Billy Spencer

The fight against the redevelopment of the Berwick Springs estate entrance is “effectively on standby” but there are plans to block a bridge-building permit.

The Save Berwick Springs Promenade Entrance group has been left with little to do after council unanimously voted at the meeting on February 21 to proceed as recommended with the Alira estate development plans from the Victorian Planning Authority.

These plans include the relocation and expansion of the roundabout at the intersection of Greaves Road and Berwick Springs Promenade, which passed council despite strong opposition from the group.

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Layout of the roundabout changes. Source: Metropolitan Planning Authority: Berwick Waterways DCP

“We exhausted all of our avenues for objection with the council,” said active and prominent member Aldónio Ferreira.

“We have subsequently asked council various questions about the process and the outcomes of this particular decision … the mayor ruled them unacceptable.”

The Save Berwick Springs Promenade Entrance Facebook page has posted and shared links about their struggles to get answers from Casey mayor, Cr Sam Aziz.

“To us, it’s really offensive… it’s our democratic right to have questions be put to council and answered by council.” Mr. Ferreira said.  “He’s denying to keep accountability.”

The group recently learnt that developer Moremac has requested a building permit for a bridge over the waterway to the north of the roundabout, which will be the group’s next target for objection.

“The first element is to look at the application and put our objections.” Mr Ferreira said.

A fundraiser on was set up in December 2016 to raise money for, among other things, fees for VCAT; an option Mr. Ferreira says is “on the table.”

“VCAT is the next step that will follow from that if we thought there was some failures in the process.”

The ultimate goal of the permit blocking is to make council reconsider their options. Mr. Ferreira believes a viable alternative is to move the development east to the intersection of Greaves Road and Domain Drive.

According to Mr. Ferreira, “the Domain intersection has heaps of space and could be developed into a better access for people living on that side already.”

Mr. Ferreira is eager to assure that the group’s sole concern is the estate entrance, not the Alira estate or Greaves Road.

“It’s never been our intent to stop the development of that road.” Mr. Ferriera said. “Our fight is about the fact that the developer is putting the roundabout on our side… and that is grossly unfair.”

Mr Ferreira said that the estate could lose around 7.5 million dollars due to an estimated one percent drop in house prices.

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Colour, coffee and care coming to Cranbourne

Pastor Drew Gormlie is looking to reconnect people excluded from society. Photo: Billy Spencer

By Billy Spencer

An arts space/ café/ mentoring program for people who have become isolated from society is being planned for Cranbourne.

CEO of Life! Central Ministries, Pastor Drew Gormlie, is working closely with Casey Council and others to bring L’Arte Centrale Social Enterprise to life.

The enterprise aims to support people with any kind of mental health issue that has lead to social isolation.

About 45 per cent of people will experience anxiety, depression or substance abuse in their lives, according to SANE Australia.

Pastor Gormlie says the project will be not just an art gallery or café, but a hub for the community.

“We found out that there was an initiative run by Anthony Cheeseman [MadCap Café], which was a mental health employment reintegration initiative,” he said.

Mr Cheeseman established MadCap café in 2007 before selling it to the Eastern Regions Mental Health Association. It focused on giving hospitality training to people with mental disabilities. In 2013 it partnered with Masters Home Improvement and has since gone out of business along with Masters.

“I’ve got another colleague [Michelle Sanders], who is currently doing a second PhD.” Pastor Gormlie said. “It’s a way of using art to articulate what you’re going through.”

Ms Sanders runs Art & Soul, a program using art classes to combat anxiety and depression.

“I started to get this idea of bringing those two things together,” Pastor Gormlie said. “What we’re looking at doing is using similar principles to MadCap café … developing the mentoring elements of it a lot more … then including both the gallery aspects of the painting and the therapeutic aspects.”

Gormlie, Cheeseman and Sanders presented their joint proposal to Casey Council in April.

Cr Amanda Stapledon is one of the major supporters of L’Arte Centrale within the Casey Council chambers.

“I think this could be a great opportunity,” she said during a September council meeting.

According to the agenda for the meeting, the ideal location for the project is the Old Shire Offices in central Cranbourne. However, Gormlie and other will have to negotiate with a family counselling service who has recently been awarded a short-term lease for the venue.

“Location is the big issue right now,” Cr Stapledon said. “Without it, you can’t secure funding.”

Pastor Gormlie is remaining optimistic. “We’re pretty confident, because both the Art & Soul element and the MadCap element…  have in the past worked quite well,” he said.



More rooming houses required but oversight is key

Gloria Anderson and Michael Eggleton at the Cornerstone office.

More housing is required to combat homelessness and they need to be governed better, say support service workers.

Pastor Michael Eggleton is the administrator and Gloria Anderson is the kitchen manager at Cornerstone Contact Centre in Dandenong, which provides many services to disadvantaged people in the area.

Ms Anderson said that a key plan for the government is to “provide more housing… even if it’s temporary… [it’s] enough to move on”.

The Council to Homeless Persons have previously made recommendations to the Victorian Government for inclusionary zoning, where a portion of all unit developments must be social housing, to be considered.

Mr Eggleton considered this “a good step, but then… they need to govern it properly”.

Ms Anderson noted that some people don’t feel safe at boarding houses, due to some becoming brothels and drug dens at night, and instead choose to sleep rough on the street.

Mr Eggleton said that “if there’s no sort of supervision … if they’ve got problems with drugs then they can just start to abuse it”.

“What you don’t want to do is turn those places into havens for the wrong kind of activity,” he said. “You want to make sure that you’re … protecting them, sometimes even from themselves”.

Ian Gough, manager of consumer programs at the Council to Homeless Persons, echoes their thoughts.

“The critical driver of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing,” he said.

In regards to rooming houses, Mr Gough said “this newer type of rooming house … they’re uncontrolled spaces, no-one works there”.

According to the Tenant’s Union of Victoria rooming house handbook, a rooming house (or boarding house) can be defined as premises where private rooms or beds are rented, but the kitchen and bathroom are shared by all residents.