$20k facelift for station

THE State heritage listed Kojonup railway station building will soon get a lick of paint to bring it back to its former glory.

Shire regulatory services manager Mort Wignall said the yellowish, timber building would be repainted in different colours – manor red, cream and white.

“We’ve engaged a contract painter who’s starting work very shortly to give the structure a bit of a facelift,” he said.

“The job is around 20-odd thousand dollars, so it’s a major sort of a paint job.

“It will preserve the fabric of those walls for years to come.”

The new colour combo is in line with the colour scheme used from the 1940s to 1980s when the station was most in use.

Mr Wignall said the colours had been endorsed by the State Heritage Council.

“The railway is still active in terms of the Kojonup tourist railway that operates the train that used to be at Perth Zoo that goes out through some of the reserves and outlying areas of the previous rail line here,” he said.

“That station is important because it’s been retained and occupied and used by the Kojonup Tourist Railway.

“So, it’s got a purpose for being there and it’s better than these buildings being locked up and unattended because they tend to deteriorate more.”

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Call for end to ‘school apartheid’

THE level of discrimination children with disabilities experience in school is equal to that of black South Africans under apartheid, says a Western Australian advocate.

Curtin University Faculty of Health Sciences Adjunct Associate Professor Robert Jackson says the apartheid regime consciously used the education system to prepare black people for life as one of the under-class.

“It is hard to explain the segregated education system for people with a disability in Australia in any other way,” Dr Jackson, who has a PhD in psychology, says.

“It’s separating children with disabilities into separate classrooms and even separate schools, telling parents they need to be with their ‘own tribe’.

“After a century or more of segregated education we know that the outcome is a life apart; in institutions or group homes and sheltered workshops.”

Federal Government figures show that 17 per cent, or nearly 70,000 of all WA’s 407,562 school children across Government and non-Government schools, have a disability or learning difficulty, after a surge in recent years in the number of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

Many are segregated from other students into Education Support Units – separate buildings located alongside schools – and in many cases individual students are accompanied to mainstream classes by a teacher’s assistant.

Other children, considered to have higher needs, are placed in Education Support Schools – entirely separate schools.

And parents are increasingly angry.

Among their litany of complaints is that children in ESUs are excluded from learning the curriculum and largely taught by education assistants, not qualified teachers.

Dr Jackson says such segregation contravenes the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with a Disability – to which Australia is a signatory – which says students with disabilities have the right to learn alongside other typically developing students in mainstream classrooms, not in segregated, separate or self-contained programs.

He explains; “If you walked into a school and saw all the girls being taken to a separate section of the school and they were being taught cooking and all those life skills and the boys were in the main part of the school learning academic skills – how would you feel about that?”

“You walk into a school in Australia and you see all the kids with disabilities in a separate section learning life skills and all the mainstream kids learning things on the curriculum. Why is that different?”

WA education minister Sue Ellery says the decision about whether to send children to a local school or an Education Support Centre is ultimately up to parents.

“That decision would be based on what the school offers and the needs of their child,” she says.

“If they would like their children to attend their local school, the school will make adjustments to cater for their needs.”

However, research released in 2017 on ‘gatekeeping practices’ shows a staggering 70 per cent of parents of children with disabilities nationally reported that schools employ a range of tactics to exclude children with disabilities from schools and mainstream classes.

They included refusing to enrol them, telling parents their children are better off with their disabled peers and that they won’t cope outside an ESU.

The number of families resorting to legal action against education departments across Australia on the grounds of discrimination is increasing.

But Dr Jackson says the financial and emotional cost to parents discourages many from court action.

To help, advocacy group All Means All (of which Dr Jackson is a board member) is gauging support for a class action as part of a growing movement to overhaul the existing system and end segregated education.

Italy had closed all its special schools by 1977 and it is now considered a model for inclusive education internationally.

In a fully inclusive classroom, children with disabilities are supported by their classmates, teacher and teacher’s assistant who provides support across the entire class.

Ms Ellery says the State Government is fulfilling an election commitment by putting an additional 300 education assistants back into classrooms.

“Starting this school year, education assistants will be employed in 238 primary schools and district high schools and will work across kindergarten to Year 2 and be permanent on appointment,” she says.

However, Perth mother Michelle Lyons says the education assistant for her son Caleb, who is on the autism spectrum, was little more than a “babysitting service”.

“He was becoming increasingly stressed about going to school,” she says.

“He’d be crying and he didn’t want to be left there; he was very uncomfortable in the class so they asked me to come to school with him.

“I found it just wasn’t the environment for him; he was off in his own little world and no one seemed to care too much.

“Once I saw what was going on, I could see that as he got older he’s going to be shoved to the back of the classroom and it becomes more of a babysitter service; I could see there was no one guiding him and helping him.”

Ms Lyons withdrew Caleb.

They are part of a growing wave of desperate Western Australian parents turning to home education.

Today, about 3500 Western Australian children are home-schooled.

Peak home-schooling body Home Education WA co-ordinator Gabrielle Crosse says the percentage of children they have with disabilities has risen from an estimated 15 per cent to a staggering 50 per cent over the past 15 years and the most prominent diagnosis among them is autism spectrum disorder.

Ms Crosse said that at the end of each year she gets a flood of calls from distraught parents saying their child is not coping at school and they are at their “wits’ end” about what to do.

One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson controversially claimed in Federal Parliament in 2017 that education standards could be improved if children with disabilities were in ‘special schools’ to prevent them taking teacher time away from typically developing children.

Dr Jackson says such a move ignores extensive scientific research that proves the opposite.

It includes the most recent research by Harvard Graduate School of Education Dr Thomas Hehir (2017) that analysed 4.8 million students and found inclusive learning environments, where children with disabilities are embraced as part of the mainstream classroom, had no detrimental impact and some positive impacts on the academic performance of non-disabled students.

The positives include reducing fear of human difference and the development of ethical and moral principles.

However, Catherine McDonald of Perth says taking precious teacher time from other children was a major concern for her geologist husband Andrew, when they searched for the right education for their daughter Sofia, who has Williams Syndrome.

Sofia had been taught alongside neurotypical children in pre-primary but in Year 1 she was steered to an Education Support Unit attached to her government primary school.

Ms McDonald says alarm bells rang for her almost immediately when Sofia and another child with a disability from the Special Education Unit did not even appear on the Year 1 class list.

They did not exist to the mainstream school.

Sofia became increasingly isolated socially and regressed developmentally.

But the family stuck it out, only moving her after school staff took umbrage at their request to explore helping Sofia participate more fully in the mainstream school alongside her kindergarten peer group.

Mr McDonald admits he feared other students would suffer academically with Sofia in the class but as a scientist he could not argue with the research that said otherwise.

“It was black and white,” he says.

“When I started reading the research I started thinking of it a little bit more logically; the education support units and centres are management and if you are having a child in an environment where they are managed 24/7 and not have contact with their typically developing peers, what is it going to look like for them when they come out of Year 12?”

Dr Jackson says society has rejected people with disabilities for thousands of years.

“Now we have the UN saying these students belong in the mainstream school. We have had two generations; 25 years to get that together, and I reckon that’s long enough,” he says.

– Kerry Faulkner has three times been named Best Freelance Journalist at the WA Media Awards. She is the parent of a child with a disability.

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Ratepayer told to ‘sit down’

ALBANY Mayor Dennis Wellington has loudly rebuked a ratepayer in an attempt to establish authority over an environmental and Aboriginal heritage consultation that is fast spiraling out of control.

At a City council meeting on Tuesday, four ratepayers asked questions about controversial plans to gazette Lake Mullocullup, east of Albany, for water skiing.

Bob Van Den Berg of Warrenup said “in despair” he had left a May 9 committee meeting that discussed the lake.

“Every [councillor at the meeting] was looking at each other wondering what they would do next,” he told the City’s elected officials.

“You seem obsessed with your decision of following through with your gazettal of the lake.”

He said it was “okay” for councillors to acknowledge they had made a mistake and correct it, if they were not given the right information – as acknowledged by Cr Ray Hammond during an earlier debate on the lake (‘The sacred and profane’, December 1, 2017).

Mr Van Den Berg returned to his seat in the public gallery.

Moments later, Mr Wellington asserted that arguments enlisted by the four ratepayers had been “fallacious in terms of the facts”.

Mr Van Den Berg rose slowly to contest the Mayor’s critique, but Mr Wellington exclaimed: “No, sit down!”

“You’ve had your opportunity,” he said, loudly, of Mr Van Den Berg’s allotted four-minute question time.

“Sit down!”

“Sit down!”

Mr Van Den Berg did sit down, saying: “I think that’s a bit harsh.”

Earlier, Noongar woman Carol Pettersen had asked why a recommendation – that an anthropologist’s report and recommendations on the Aboriginal heritage significance of the lake be noted – was amended to delete reference to the recommendations.

Later, Cr Sandie Smith moved that the recommendation, as amended, be approved, explaining she’d pushed for mention of the anthropologist’s recommendations to be deleted.

Cr Paul Terry instead proposed that the original recommendation be reinstated.

Cr Terry – who at a council meeting on November 28 unsuccessfully pushed for the lake’s gazettal to be suspended – began to explain why he preferred the original.

But Mr Wellington interjected.

“Hang on, someone’s got to second that emotion [sic], your amendment,” he cautioned.

Cr Anthony Moir seconded Cr Terry’s motion, which was defeated eight votes to three.

Mrs Pettersen, a former Albany councillor, immediately left the chambers.

The 76-year-old later told The Weekender she felt “very offended and humiliated”, that Mr Wellington had dismissed the four ratepayers’ arguments.

The motion, minus mention of the anthropologist’s recommendations, was carried 9 votes to 2, with Crs Terry and Moir voting against.

With that, the remaining three ratepayers left the council chambers.

Outside, Mr Van Den Berg said Mr Wellington did not have to use the term “fallacious”.

“He should have just said nothing,” he expanded.

The anthropologist’s report pointed to deficiencies in the city’s handling of consultation with Noongar people over the lake (‘City clears muddy waters’, May 10, 2018).

Among the report’s eight recommendations is that the City actively acknowledge “that all waterways and especially freshwater sources have cultural significance to Noongar people”.

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Second tilt at 2am closing time

EIGHTEEN months after it was refused approval to trade to 2am on weekends but allowed to open until 1am, Albany’s Six Degrees bar is having another crack at the later closing time.

In a move that must be advertised at Six Degrees from tomorrow, the Stirling Terrace venue has asked the State liquor licensing director to allow it to trade to 2am on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The bar’s new licence application, seen by The Weekender, says there is only one venue in Albany allowed to open long into weekend mornings, Studio 146 nightclub.

“… Not all consumers in Albany wish to patronise the nightclub, and a city the size of Albany should be providing alternatives for consumers,” Six Degrees argues.

The bar also wants licensing conditions varied so that on those weekend nights it does decide to trade to 1am or 2am it is no longer required to engage two bouncers between the hours of 8pm and 10pm.

“… Six Degrees is not a hotel in the traditional sense of the word,” the venue argues.

“There is no TAB service, no traditional ‘front’ or ‘public’ bar for workers, and no bottle shop attached to the premises.

“This application merely seeks to vary the time that the crowd controllers are at the premises, with one beginning at 8pm and the second beginning at 10pm when the majority of diners have finished their meal, and the focus of the premises shifts to entertainment and socialising.”

Also in the bar’s sights is a condition requiring its doors and windows to be shut from 8pm on weekend nights.

Six Degrees submits this condition is “restrictive and onerous, and impedes its ability to provide a vibrant hotel premises during what is essentially a dining period between the hours of 8pm and 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights”.

The venue also wants 2am Friday and Saturday trading extended to its laneway beer garden.

Six Degrees notes that on February 9 the liquor enforcement supervisor for the Great Southern, Mike Russell of Albany Police, visited the bar with a Department of Local Government inspector.

“I can tell you that Inspector John Hassell and I were at Six Degrees last night … at about 22:30hrs … and we were both in agreeance that noise levels were well and truly within acceptable standards,” the venue quotes Sergeant Russell as saying.

“All the feedback I have ever got from my friends and the public has always been positive about Six Degrees.

“I have never regretted supporting the [early morning trading] as I think that contributed something positive to Albany.

“You should be very proud of what you have created.”

The venue lodged its original application for 2am weekend trading on Friday, December 23, 2016.

In November last year it was issued a permit to trade to 1am only.

To no avail, the bar asked that a requirement to advertise its new application be waived.

Anyone wishing to object must do so on or before June 7.

Licensee Anton Davey declined to comment at this stage.

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Shop returns to its roots

A BESPOKE business revival at the intersection of Albany’s two high streets is now complete, with a boutique barber shop opening where the Eclectic Ladyland dress shop recently closed.

The establishment of Monk & Hound Barber Shop on the north-eastern corner of York Street and Stirling Terrace comes not long after Mark Blyth Fine Jewellery started trading from the imposing but long-empty Albany House on the north-western corner (‘City jewel gets new tenant’, 12 January).

Last week, Monk & Hound owner Jason Abbott revealed he would start trading on May 22.

“I was a barber in Perth, in the city, for a long time,” he told The Weekender.

“Then I was in construction for a long time and I went back to barbering last year or the year before.”

Mr Abbott has family in Albany, likes the place and decided to move on down.

“I saw this shop come up for lease, and thought it would be a good spot for a barber shop,” he said.

“We’ll get the men’s hair and grooming off the ground first.”

He said beer tastings and coffee could, down the track, be on the cards for customers.

The shop will have two barbers’ chairs and newly installed exposed copper piping.

A layer of striped paint, perceptible on either side of the shop’s front door beneath a more recent coat of white, is a hint the shop is returning to its roots.

“I had no idea until we started talking to the building owner about it,” Mr Abbott said.

“I think it’s a great thing to have it go back to being a barber shop.”

With barbers coming back into vogue in recent years, Mr Abbott would not be drawn, specifically, on whether his trade had benefitted from a hipster-led recovery.

“I think it’s the beards,” he smiled.

He thought his old-school operation had potential to encourage the extension of the Stirling Terrace hospitality strip both west from the White Star, Six Degrees and Kate’s Place end of the Terrace and east from the Liberté end.

“Yeah, you need a bar and a coffee shop down this way,” he said.

“A whiskey bar or something, or a craft beer tap room.”

The shop, in the 1912-built Empire Buildings, retains its original pressed tin ceiling.

Mr Abbott has added historic light fittings and arty timber shelving.

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New CEO takes helm

A RETAIL journeyman who spent five-and-a-half years as a state development manager at Coles has been appointed CEO of the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

On Tuesday, Chamber President Caroline Hayes asked The Weekender not to call new CEO Mark Forrest as he was packing to move from Perth to Albany.

Mr Forrest’s Linkedin profile says he had been a senior management and marketing consultant for the past 18 months, was a consultant business manager for three months before that, and for 15 months prior to that Director of Operations with a non-profit packaging organisation.

Ms Hayes said he “won the role from an extremely impressive field of candidates from the Great Southern, Perth and interstate”.

“Mr Forrest and his family have been regular visitors to Albany in recent years and are looking forward to relocating from Perth,” she said.

The CEO job, advertised with a six-figure salary, took two rounds to fill, with initial applicants asked not to reapply.

Before the above-mentioned roles, Mr Forrest was for more than five years State Business Development Manager for Coles Online.

Coles recently said it would employ more people at its two Albany stores if the City of Albany relaxed restrictions on it trading on weeknights and Sundays (‘Employment trade-off’, April 19).

Asked what Mr Forrest’s Coles experience might mean for Albany’s ongoing shopping hours debate, Ms Hayes said she would have to ask him herself.

“He might have some insights that might be useful to all of us in that regard,” she said.

“But definitely that’s a question I want to ask him too.”

The Chamber has long supported all businesses’ rights to trade whenever they like.

For three years before his Coles appointment, Mr Forrest was National Sales, Marketing and Export Manager at Barwick Wines, and for 14 months before that an export advisor with Austrade.

Earlier in his career, he had stints as a manager with David Jones and Goldmark Jewellers.

The Scotch College and Curtin University graduate is due to take up his new role today.

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Counting the cost

THE family of 20-year-old Indian student Ankit Jatain, who slipped and fell to his death at The Gap near Albany last Thursday, now faces a hefty bill to transport the young man’s body home to northern India.

Mr Jatain was visiting Albany with a group of friends when he plummeted more than 40m down rocks and was washed out to sea at about 3pm.

His body was recovered from relatively calm waters about 500m from the western side of The Gap by Albany Sea Rescue more than an hour later.

The recovery brought to an end the operation that included police, State Emergency Service volunteers and a drone operator.

Mr Jatain’s uncle, Davender Singh, told The Weekender the family is trying to raise enough money to cover the cost of transporting Mr Jatain’s body home and to provide his family with financial support.

A Facebook page was created to raise funds and raised nearly $35,000 in five days.

“He was very young, only 20 years old,” Mr Singh said.

“He loved to take photos.

“We’d like to thank everyone for donating money.”

Surya Ambati, the President of the Indian Society of WA, created the Facebook fundraiser after being contacted by Mr Jatain’s uncle and family.

“It will cost about $10,000 to transport Ankit’s body back to India,” he said.

“The rest of the amount will be given to the parents of Ankit, who took out a bank loan to send Ankit to Australia.”

Mr Ambati also thanked the nearly 1000 people who pledged a donation.

The fundraising effort stopped yesterday after reaching a third of its initial target of $90,000.

Great Southern Police District Superintendent Dom Wood was at the scene shortly after events unfolded last Thursday, and later said Mr Jatain and his friends were seen on the eastern side of the Gap taking photos.

“There were a small group of friends directly opposite the viewing platform with no protection whatsoever,” he said.

“The young man that lost his life had only come down for the last few days or so.”

Mr Wood said there was signage at the Gap to direct people to stick to the paths and viewing platforms.

“I had a look while I was up there [on Thursday],” he said.

“It clearly tells people to stay to the path and to stay to the area prepared for visitors.

“There are some signs with clearly illustrated symbols showing the risks of wind and treacherousness of the rocks.

“Sadly and tragically he made the decision to endanger his life.”

Reflecting on the circumstances that led to Mr Jatain’s loss of life, Mr Wood said some people put the “selfie culture” before their own safety.

“We all know that as a culture people want to take as many snaps as they can,” he said.

“Potentially people will put that activity ahead of their own safety.

“The message I’ll say to that and what I often say to my own kids is to stop, pause and think about what you’re doing.

“Put your safety first.”

Mr Wood said the viewing platform that had opened in 2016 following a $6.1 million upgrade was constructed purely for the safety of visitors.

“The viewing platform that has recently been put in was made to safely enclose people while they take their photographs protected,” he said.

“That platform is there to allow people to fully take in the scenery, take photos and be safe to do so.

“As soon as you focus on the activity of taking the photo and put yourself on the rocks, something will go wrong, and tragically it did.”

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Innovative tree change

EMERGING and established artists are being encouraged to submit an expression of interest into a City of Albany art project involving a dead tree in the Ellen Cove seating area.

In conjunction with Vancouver Arts Centre, the City is inviting people to take an “innovative approach” to making the tree a “permanent and exciting component” of the area.

Manager for City Reserves Jacqui Freeman said the tree recently died off and its roots are embedded in the seating area’s retaining walls, so rather than try to remove it, she thought to put the idea out to the community to make the tree a point of interest.

“It’s an opportunity for people who don’t have their artwork out there to have a public art space,” she said.

Vancouver Arts Centre team leader Amber Cordon said she is keen to hear from both emerging and established artists putting forward their ideas about how they would like to see the tree take shape.

“It’s a really lovely family spot here,” she said.

“So, we would be really interested to hear from art groups who want to work with community members, as well as see art designs sensitive to place, such as having a focus on the use of the area and cultural history.

“We welcome all artists, especially emerging artists.”

The budget for the project is $2000 and the artwork must be completed by September 30.

You can express your interest by submitting your idea to indrag@albany.wa.gov.au or by handing in a hard copy by 4pm on May 28.

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CWA looks for fresh start

THE Country Women’s Association of Albany has begun a desperate search for new members in an attempt to return the group to its former glory.

Branch president Abigail Parker said the branch began in 1938 but was forced to fold in 2006 due to a drop in membership.

Since then, Ms Parker said the group’s current home – the CWA Hall on Serpentine Road – had been privately leased out, until earlier this year when the group took back the reins of the hall in February.

She said she hopes to reinstate the CWA branch and get the group involved in the community once again.

Ms Parker said she and secretary Anne Barton are now on the look-out for new, young members to continue the traditions and activities of CWA.

“CWA isn’t just for when you retire,” the pair urged.

“We need some young blood to keep it going and bring new ideas in.”

Ms Barton said she remembers the CWA Hall being a hive of activity back in its day, hosting birthdays, social gatherings and ‘28 and Overs’.

She too wants CWA Albany to grow again and bring women across generations together to encourage friendships and lesson sharing.

“It’s not just about scones and tea,” Ms Barton said.

“Our goal is to create a vibrant branch that gets out with the community,” Ms Parker added.

“CWA is about what women want it to be about, and the projects we do are based on what the members want to do.”

The pair said in order for the CWA Hall to offer classes such as the traditional cooking classes, it requires refurbishment in the kitchen, a disabled toilet and disabled access.

They said they are currently in the process of applying for grants to fund these fixes, and hope more people can join the group to increase the group’s likelihood of attracting funding.

If you would like to join the CWA Albany branch, you can contact Ms Parker on 0403 783 669 or Ms Barton on 0412 937 641.

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Carvings on show

MULTIPLE generations of woodcarvers and painters will be among a group of indigenous artists exhibiting their Anangu culture-themed artwork displayed for the next three months at the Museum of the Great Southern.

The Punuku Tjukurpa exhibition opened last Friday and celebrates the stories and laws of the Anangu people – the traditional owners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta and the surrounding land in the Northern Territory.

Artist Niningka Lewis is part of the project and said she was happy to see the artwork travel among the broader community.

“It is good that our carvings should go out to the world for all to see,” she said.

“People can see and understand how things are made and that we have a lot of memories [in our collection].”

Great Southern Museum regional manager Rachael Wilsher-Saa said Punuku Tjukurpa showcases a rich cultural history.

“There are 88 punu (carved objects made of wood) featuring burnt designs, sculptural works, 2D pieces and specially produced audio and video footage on display,” she said.

“The mobile app that accompanies the exhibition also provides deeper engagement with the diverse works through audio descriptions of selected objects, a walking tour and educational activities.”

Aboriginal Community Learning Officer for the Museum of the Great Southern Vernice Gillies said the exhibition is extremely important, as it brings a “wholly Aboriginal flavour” of artwork to Albany.

“To bring central Australia to all of Australia, and for [Anangu artists] to be able to share what they do with the rest of Australia… it’s absolutely spectacular,” she said.

“It’s just stunning; I get shivers looking at it.”

The exhibition will remain in Albany until July 29.

You can download the mobile app Ms Wilsher-Saa referred to by searching ‘Punuku Tjujurpa’ in Google Play or the Apple Store.

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