Feds push State to back cancer care

DESPITE unwavering Federal and local support, the State Government says it needs to put “more consideration” into backing a radiotherapy facility in Albany to enable Great Southern cancer patients to receive treatment closer to home.

In the wake of a $6.6 million funding announcement by Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson to aid the purchase of radiotherapy equipment for a private facility at Albany Day Hospital, State health minister Roger Cook said further thought and planning was required before the State could throw its full support behind the project.

“The WA Government welcomes the Commonwealth funding commitment towards the purchase of oncology equipment,” he said.

“More consideration needs to be given to the project and communication is ongoing with the Federal Government and the WA Country Health Service.”

Federal health minister Greg Hunt made a whirlwind trip to Albany on Tuesday in a show of support for the project and further insisted the State come to the party.

Mr Hunt said the likely remaining cost for the radiotherapy facility would be $6 million, of which the State’s contribution could potentially be half.

He said Genesis Cancer Care, the private provider awarded the license for the facility, would contribute “significantly” and split the remaining cost “50/50” with the State.

“This [facility] is in WA’s interest, it’s in Albany’s interest and we would like the State to do what other states are doing and provide this basic facility,” Mr Hunt said.

“It’s about moving quickly now.

“This is in the top 100 projects in the country.

“The Commonwealth has assessed need and viability, and determined that Albany has high need and high viability.

“I don’t think the State can ignore this finding by the Commonwealth.

“It is innovative, where you have private and public and community com- ing together, and the only missing part now is the State.”

Genesis Cancer Care general manager Michael Davis said although he would not guarantee the facility would be operational by the June 30, 2019 date as suggested by Mr Wilson previously, he said it would not be a long process once the wheels started turning.

“There are many requirements to be considered prior to commencing a service,” he said.

“The first step is to agree on a service model that will benefit all patients in the region.

“Then, a site is required and further capital raised to build the facility.

“There are still a number of unknowns, but once these are agreed, the service can come together quickly.”

WA Country Health Service regional director for the Great Southern David Naughton, who stated in March that the WA Health Clinical Services Framework for 2014 to 2024 did not include a dedicated radiation oncology treatment service for the Great Southern, would not speculate on the role WACHS would play in a radiotherapy facility.

“In other parts of Western Australia, some public radio oncology treatment services are delivered by the private sector and organisations such as Genesis Care,” he said.

“However, as there has been no formal assessment of the capital cost of an Albany facility, it would be remiss of the WA Country Health Service to speculate on the role it would play in the development and operation of this technology.”

Mr Naughton said patients in the Great Southern currently have access to a range of specialised outpatient cancer treatments in Albany and are supported to access radiotherapy in Bunbury and Perth.

In instances where travel is required, Mr Naughton said eligible patients are able to apply for financial support in the form of the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme.

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Long time in the making

CENTENARY commemorations for the end of World War I will extend into the theatre this November with Albany Light Opera and Theatre Company’s production It’s Been a Long, Long Time.

Director Susie McIntosh said the musical tribute review will showcase the songs that “boosted morale” during the first and second world wars, as well as bookend a previous production the company produced.

ALOTCo performed Sing As We Go in 2015 as part of the initial centenary commemorations in memory of the Anzacs, and McIntosh said It’s Been a Long, Long Time had been in the pipeline since then.

“We always spoke about a follow-up production,” she said.

“But it has evolved since we first started talking about it.”

It’s Been a Long, Long Time will feature songs, visual presentations, poetry, dance and audience participation to celebrate the end of war time, but also reflect on the circumstances people found themselves in once guns were laid down.

Artistic director Findlay MacNish reflected on how it wasn’t all smiles come Armistice Day.

“After the initial ‘hooray, the war is over’, people realised that things weren’t fantastic,” he said.

“The end of the war didn’t mean the end of pain.

“Everyone still needed jollity to keep them going, so this show is about the music that boosted morale in that time.”

McIntosh said the production had been specifically worked on for the past five to six months and has included the efforts of a cast of 30 people, ranging from ages 16 to 91.

“This is our third week of rehearsals,” he said.

“We are rehearsing songs at the moment and it’s sounding really lovely.”

Other than rehearsals, the cast and crew are busy organising country flags and poppies, of which a sea of them will be strewn across the theatre.

And of course, making sure there will be enough tea and Anzac biscuits to go around.

It’s Been A Long, Long Time will play on November 3, 4, 9and 10and tickets are available now from Paperbark Merchants.

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Roundabout no-go

AFTER receiving “outstanding” ideas for a sculpture and clearing several garden gnomes from Mount Barker’s main roundabout, Plantagenet shire has decided to do nothing much there for the time being.

Addressing the Shire’s council recently, works and services manager David Lynch thanked all people who made a submission on aesthetics of the town’s northern roundabout on Albany Highway.

Mr Lynch noted a roundabout was mainly for getting vehicles across an intersection safely and in a timely manner.

“Nothing within the roundabout area should be overly distracting to the motorist, so items such as signage are not encouraged,” he advised.

“Some of the sculptural ideas were outstanding but the concern was that they either would be too distracting to motorists or would attract pedestrians onto the roundabout to take photos.

“In light of the above, none of the ideas fitted the criteria and the roundabout will therefore remain in its current state for the time being.”

Mr Lynch said the matter of improving and upgrading Mt Barker’s entry statements remained open for discussion.

“This includes not only the roundabout, but also approaches to the south, east and west, including signage,” he said.

The intersection will get a facelift soon with its coloured stones being refreshed.

Also, four ‘Tupelo’ (Nyssa sylvatica) trees have been planted at the roundabout.

The facelift comes after Councillor Brett Bell dubbed the intersection’s looks “a disgrace” (‘Barker roundabout action’, 8 February) and the Shire removed a collection of garden gnomes from the roundabout (‘Barker gnomes rehomed’, 19 April).

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Watson holds firm for love of Pies

AHEAD of Saturday’s AFL Grand Final, the Speaker of Western Australia’s Parliament has eschewed all local hype surrounding the West Coast Eagles, choosing to back his beloved black-and-whites instead.

With magpie season in full swing atop Mount Clarence on Tuesday, Albany MLA Peter Watson said the time was ripe for Collingwood to swoop and snatch the nation’s most coveted flag for the sixteenth time.

“After the Eagles beat Collingwood in the qualifying final, I copped a lot of flack,” winked the Legislative Assembly Speaker, who this week donned the black and white for his daily constitutional down, then up, Mount Clarence with pet pooch Harry.

“But I’ve kept all the emails and all the text messages just in case we happen to win at the weekend, and then I’ll reply to them.

“And if we lose, nothing else will be said.”

Mr Watson said his all-time favourite Pie is 2011 Brownlow medallist Dane Swan, “because he’s different”.

“He was his own man, a brilliant footballer, won a medal,” he reflected on the champion midfielder who retired in 2016.

Not far behind in Mr Watson’s esteem are current player Steele Sidebottom, and Macedonian Marvel Peter Daicos, who played his first footy in the Melbourne suburb of Preston where Mr Watson was born.

“They’d be the three, but Swanny is number one,” he expanded.

“He’s a real Collingwood person, rough around the edges, tatts all over him, but by gee he could play footy and he’s a great entertainer.”

Mr Watson, 71, grew up in Thornbury, just south of Preston.

“The guy across the road used to deliver the wood and the ice and he used to wear a Collingwood guernsey year in, year out with a beanie and he’d get me in my high chair and he’d grab me on the cheek and he’d say: ‘Don’t you barrack for Carlton’,” he recalled.

“Everyone else in my family barracked for Carlton.

“But he bought me a Collingwood guernsey when I was two and I’ve been a Collingwood supporter ever since.”

Mr Watson, who represented Australia as a middle distance runner at the 1968 Olympics, played junior footy and a scratch match or two in the Colts for Claremont before running took over.

“I wasn’t much of a footballer,” he confided.

“I wanted to be a footballer.

“All I wanted to do was play for Claremont and Collingwood, but I had to find something that I was good at, not what I wanted to be good at.”

He said he just hoped Saturday’s grand final would be a good game.

“I think it’s two teams who at the start of the year no-one thought would do well, so it’s a good luck story for one of the teams and it’s also a good luck story for the other team that got there,” he added philosophically.

No magpies or eagles were harmed in the production of this story.

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Dance invokes reflection

THE second instalment of Denmark choreographer Annette Carmichael’s The Beauty Index will be performed next month following part one’s finalist listing in the 2018 Australian Dance Awards.

A Light Shade of Red will take centre stage at the Albany Entertainment Centre on October 19 and 20 and feature dancers aged 16 to 26 from the Great Southern.

It will explore a palette of emotions evoked by Armistice Day to tie in with the centenary celebrations which will commence in Albany in November.

Carmichael said the production took two years to develop and is similar to being in a dream, where “layers upon layers of images wash over you”.

“There is no single story, but the intent and commitment of the performers is to lead you through the experience,” she said.

“My War? [the previous production] was for the centenary of Anzac Day and it felt right that we created another performance for the centenary of Armistice Day.”

A Light Shade of Red was selected as the title name by Carmichael to evoke the dawning of the sun, which she said is an important time of day for reflection.

“The colour red means so much, from anger and violence to hope and joy,” she said.

“That moment between night and day when we are filled with the potential of what is to come… that seemed a good fit for the feeling of Armistice.

“What is the potential of humanity when we lay down our guns?”

The Beauty Index saga will continue with Carmichael’s third instalment, Chorus now underway.

Chorus is currently in production and will be a dance project for 200 women to perform in 2020.

Carmichael said a number of women of all ages and experiences have already joined in the project, but if anyone is interested, they can subscribe to her e-news via annettecarmichael.com.au.

Tickets for A Light Shade of Red can be purchased via the AEC Box Office or online via tickets.ptt.wa.gov.au.

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The fruits of labour

HOT on the heels of success at the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry annual awards where it was lauded for its innovative approach to business, Wilson Brewing Company will launch an aged fruit beer tomorrow night.

Wilson team member Rob Quayle said the company had been experimenting with ageing beers in a variety of casks during the past 12 months.

“We’ve done a few seasonal beers in cabernet sauvignon barrels and in whisky barrels from a local distillery,” he said.

“The Skuttle Butt has been aged in both gin and cabernet sauvignon barrels which gives it a really interesting smell and taste.”

Mr Quayle said the brewers also added some locally grown plums and nectarines into the mix.

“It has a wonderful fruity smell to it, but the flavour is much more complex than that,” he said.

“You get the bitterness from the gin come through with the wine and the locally grown hops.

“We only transferred it to the fermentation tanks on Monday and we should have it in kegs and cans on Wednesday and Thursday.”

A quick independent visual and olfactory assessment of the new brew that was sitting at a relatively light 4.1 per cent before canning confirmed a drop that was light in colour and surprisingly fruity smelling.

Mr Quayle said support for Wilson Brewing Company had skyrocketed in recent months and had triggered an expansion in storage and distribution.

“We’re producing three times the amount that we were last year,” he said.

“We’ve entered in to a few competitions this year and done pretty well,” he said.

“Our Rough Seas pale ale got a silver medal at the Perth Royal Beer awards recently and we got silver and bronze for our packaging and design.

“We also got People’s Choice too. We went up for the beer and came back with the medals.”

“We wouldn’t have got here if it wasn’t for the amazing support we’ve received from locals and from people enjoying our beer outside of the Great Southern.”

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Campaign continues

DENMARK fund raiser Mary Williams says she always knew in her heart that Albany would get a radiation machine to treat cancer patients, but that didn’t mean learning about Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson’s $6.6 million grant to fund one last week was any less sweet.

The Weekender exclusively revealed last Thursday that Mr Wilson had secured Federal funding to assist the purchase of a linear accelerator, CT simulator and CT interfacing planning and computer system for three work stations for use at Albany Health Campus as early as June next year (‘Cancer funding coup’, 13 September 2018).

Ms Williams began the Albany Radiation Machine Project last year in an attempt to raise $15 million for a facility in Albany.

She said it wasn’t good enough that sick people were forced to travel to Perth and Bunbury for radiotherapy and urged the broader community to donate to help fund the machine.

The project has raised approximately $25,000 so far through sausage sizzles, a radiothon and various other fundraising events.

Ms Williams said the task at hand now was to continue campaigning to guarantee the radiation machine is delivered to Albany.

“Truly, my heart is singing,” she said, upon learning the news.

“I started this off as a five-year project because no one believed me that we could do it in that time, but I knew we’d get it sooner!

“Now, we must plough on and keep the momentum up.”

Ms Williams said during her travels throughout the Great Southern to promote the Albany Radiation Machine Project, she learned of many people’s afflictions with cancer and the struggles they encountered when travelling to Perth for treatment.

Between gaining this knowledge and receiving various negative comments about the project, Ms Williams was more driven than ever to pursue her goal of getting a radiation machine for Albany.

“One person asked me, ‘when are we going to get it?’ and I said, ‘just hang in there, we will get it’,” she said.

“I can’t wait to tell those farmers and people I met in the regions that we’ve done it.”

Ms Williams is continuing her effort to raise additional funds by visiting previous businesses and sites that hosted the large signs she erected for the Albany Radiation Machine Project and asking them to put them back up.

A street stall in Denmark, a barn dance in Kojonup, a high tea and a few more sausage sizzles are also on her fundraising to-do list.

“I’ve put out about 2500 flyers around the region and we are currently organising a dinner dance,” Ms Williams said.

“We are hoping to hold it at Princess Royal Sailing Club in November, so everyone should keep an eye out for tickets for that one.”

According to Mr Wilson, the radiotherapy machine and facility should be in operation at Albany Health Campus by June 30, 2019.

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Barker’s pie in the sky

AFTER taking the time and care to hand deliver an assortment of Mount Barker Country Bakery’s finest pies to Melbourne last week for the Official Great Aussie Pie Competition, the team behind the counter will be able to add another nine medals to their growing collection.

Qualified pastry chef and bakery founder Mick Dumbrell and wife Kristine have visited the competition every year since the bakery opened its doors.

“We had to really pack the eskys tight with newspaper and ice packs for the trip in the plane. But it was worth it,” Ms Dumbrell said.

“We’ve always done really well at the Aussie Pie Competition.

“Our staff is critical to producing great results and fantastic pies.

“Our pies are the biggest part of our business and we make sure that every pie is made fresh and from scratch.”

This year the bakery received a medal for each pie submission, with their chunky mince, kangaroo and chorizo, and cauliflower and blue cheese pies all receiving gold medals.

Their chicken carbonara, braised lamb, surf and turf, Sri Lankan pork curry and barbeque pork all received silver.

“We’re really proud that our chunky beef pie was named the second best pie in Australia,” Ms Dumbrell said.

“What we put in a pie is the same quality as what you find in a restaurant and it made the difference.”

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Fruit crisis bites

ALBANY farmer Neil Handasyde says he has already felt the devastating effects of the nation-wide strawberry crisis and has urged the State Government to assist growers.

Online footage of farmers dumping entire crops of strawberries has gone viral over the past week following the discovery of needles inside the popular seasonal fruit that was sold in Queensland.

The discovery has seen strawberry prices plummet, but ironically, demand has skyrocketed in the past few days.

Mr Handasyde was still selling produce from his 50-hectare property on Chester Pass Road earlier this week, but described the situation as “diabolical”.

“We’re becoming this international joke with needles found in our fruit,” he said.

“I don’t know what strawberries have done to get treated like this.”

Mr Handasyde said he was shocked and dismayed that consumers and big supply chains had facilitated the drop in price.

“I know for damn sure that it wouldn’t have been a grower or a picker that would have done this,” he said.

“Something like this seriously affects businesses and people can lose jobs.

“People’s livelihoods are being affected by someone with a weird vendetta against strawberries.”

Mr Handasyde said that while locals had come out in support of his business following a post on their Facebook page, other businesses would not be so lucky.

“You can get a punnet of strawberries for 50 cents,” he lamented.

“Queensland won’t be as affected as we are, since they’re at the end of their season, but we’ve only just started ours.

“Last year we had the quarantine issue and this year we have needles. It’s no wonder farmers just can’t do it anymore.”

Mr Handasyde said he was angry the State Government had not yet offered assistance to the industry similar to the $1 million boost handed out by the Queensland government.

“I’m waiting for answers and I’m waiting to see some help from the government,” he said.

Minister for Food and Agriculture Alannah MacTiernan was contacted for comment, but as she is on leave, The Weekender was referred to the Premier’s office.

Premier Mark McGowan emphasised the anger felt towards the culprits.

“To the people who are doing this across Australia, they are drop kicks, and they are committing a criminal offense,” he said.

“If you undertake this sort of activity you can and will be caught.

“I think every Western Australian will want the book thrown at the people who are undertaking this sort of action.”

The severity of the crisis has prompted the Federal Government to announce that it will seek to make it a criminal offense to recklessly contaminate fruit, with increased penalties for other food contamination.

Mr McGowan said a reward leading to the capture and conviction of anyone committing the vandalism against strawberries was now on the table.

“We’re offering a $100,000 reward to anyone who helps convict the vandals,” he said.

“It’s a shocking thing to do, to risk someone’s life like that.”

Strawberry Growers Association of WA Vice President Paul Da Silva said there had been an increase in WA consumers buying strawberries in the past few days who were taking advantage of the rock-bottom prices.

“Small growers are under immense pressure at the moment and a lot are choosing to hold off on picking their crop,” he said.

“We need to instill confidence back in the consumers and get more strawberries sold.

“Just smash a strawb guys, smash as many as you can and help our local producers,” he pleaded.

Mr Handasyde said while the farm had seen an increase in customers in recent days, the loss from the plummeting prices would be hard to recover.

“We can’t keep up with sales at our farm shop,” he said.

“It’s great to see the support.

“All people have to do is cut up their strawberries and enjoy them.”

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D-day for flood feud

A WOMAN embroiled in a decade-long dispute with the City of Albany over flooding at her Yakamia property will have her case heard in the Supreme Court from October 15 after her bid to adjourn the trial due to stress she is facing was knocked back.

Catherine Ziverts launched civil action against the City after her Beaufort Road property from 2007 suffered severe damage she claimed was caused by faulty drainage and subsequent flooding of Yakamia Creek.

In a decision published on Friday, Supreme Court Justice Janine Pritchard dismissed the application by self-represented Ms Ziverts, who had argued she was experiencing stress, anxiety and depression, making it hard for her to prepare for trial.

Ms Ziverts had asked that the trial, slated to last for 12 days from October 15, be adjourned for at least three months.

In a hearing on August 31, she told Justice Pritchard she needed more time to prepare.

Ms Ziverts described the trauma she was experiencing in dealing with the evidence, and her difficulties preparing her case since the end of May when her former solicitors ceased to act.

But the City argued the trial had already been adjourned for two months and a further adjournment would see it incur further costs.

In refusing Ms Ziverts’ application, Justice Pritchard noted her present stress resulted from no longer having a lawyer, but this was a “regrettable experience for many self-represented litigants”.

“… This is litigation which Ms Ziverts herself is pursuing,” Justice Pritchard concluded.

“She is not a defendant facing litigation whether she likes it or not.

“This is her action, and it is up to her whether she proceeds with it.”

She considered Ms Ziverts had “some ability” to prosecute her own action.

“In her submissions to the Court today, Ms Ziverts has been lucid and confident, and clearly has the ability to present her argument,” she added.

She implored the City and Ms Ziverts to make a further attempt at mediation.

“In making that observation, I wish to emphasise the importance of both sides adopting a willingness to compromise as to what might be done to bring an end to this litigation,” she counselled.

In a grievance motion presented to then Minister for Local Government John Castrilli in 2012, Albany MLA Peter Watson said Ms Ziverts had been left with a home she could not sell and that required large amounts of money to fix each time Yakamia Creek flooded.

He added this had taken a “tremendous toll on Ms Ziverts, not just financially but also emotionally”.

“Minister, this has been one of the most frustrating, time consuming and bureaucratic shambles I have ever seen an individual go through with government authorities,” Mr Watson added at the time.

“Ms Ziverts is a very courageous and determined woman, but no-one can be expected to wear this sort of expense and heartache forever.”

Ms Ziverts, whose phone number is now listed against an address in Denmark, was contacted for comment.

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