Apps combat climate change

THE City of Albany and two local schools are on a mission to reduce their carbon footprints with a suite of apps designed to be an affordable way to take meaningful action against climate change.

City of Albany Chief Executive Officer Andrew Sharpe said partnering with ClimateClever was the latest step in the City’s Carbon Footprint Reduction Strategy and gave the opportunity for the City to develop community targets and give feedback to users.

“We have an aspiration for Albany to be clean, green and sustainable, so implementing community-driven initiatives like ClimateClever allows us to identify and deliver improvements in sustainability within the wider community,” he said.

“This partnership will allow residents to reduce their costs as well as their carbon footprint, and be part of transformational change in the way we view our usage.”

Great Southern Grammar (GSG) and Albany Senior High School have also embraced the technology, engaging students in the process of measuring and reducing consumption, carbon and costs arising from energy, water and waste utilities.

GSG began using the schools app in November 2019, and within three months managed to save eight per cent on electricity consumption, $1,912 on electricity bills, and reduced their carbon footprint associated with their electricity consumption by 10.5 per cent, totalling 5.4 tonnes.

ClimateClever founder Dr Vanessa Rauland said the goal of the apps is to provide an affordable way for local governments, schools, and homes to tackle issues of climate change.

“We want to encourage and empower individuals,” she said.

“We want them to know that they can make a difference.”

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City’s facilities reduce capacity

A NUMBER of City of Albany facilities will operate at reduced capacity over the next six months as the local council implements a decision to reduce staff hours by 20 per cent between July and December.

With the City facing a $7 million revenue loss this year, more than 75 per cent of staff voted to forego a sizeable chunk of their pay package in 2020 to avoid job losses.

Under the enterprise agreement, which is yet to be approved by the Fair Work Commission, wage increases will be frozen until the end of 2021.

The move came off the back of the entire council, including Mayor Dennis Wellington, announcing they would take a 20 per cent pay cut.

City of Albany said it expects the move will save $2.6 million.

In the short-term it means popular community amenities such as the City of Albany Library will go unstaffed on Mondays.

Amongst a host of temporary changes to operating hours, ALAC’s gym will be staffed Monday to Saturday from 6am, while its pool, stadium and court facilities will be closed on Sunday and Monday.

Albany Heritage Park, which includes the National ANZAC Centre and Princess Royal Fortress will be shut on Mondays.

The Library and Albany Visitor Centre will be closed Mondays and Sundays, while the Vancouver Art Centre will be open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

With WA entering Phase 4 of the State Government’s COVID-19 restrictions, the City announced ALAC would welcome back a string of senior and junior sporting programs in the coming weeks.

This includes the popular Long Live You program, which will return on July 6.

Acting Executive Director Community Services Nathan Watson said further reopening of ALAC’s services was welcome news for the community.

“ALAC supports the health and wellbeing of our community through sporting fixtures, gym, aquatics, senior fitness programs and more, so we’re really pleased the community is able to reconnect with all these services again in some capacity,” he said.

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City ‘pleased’ as Rex doubles Albany flights

REGIONAL Express (Rex) will almost double their number of flights in WA this week, after a sharp drop in the service’s availability due to COVID-19.

The regional flight provider experienced their passenger numbers drop by more than 95 per cent, leaving Rex to implement a minimum essential service to support continued essential travel.

However, due to the state’s positive response to the pandemic, Rex General Manager of Network Strategy and Sales Warrick Lodge said the service is in a position where they can begin increasing flights again.

“It takes a great leap of faith for us to double the number of services entirely at our own risk when the current flights are not even achieving the pre-COVID load factors,” he said.

“However, we are very encouraged by the continued support from the WA State Government and the Commonwealth Government and we are doing this as our way of giving back to the community.”

Previously, Rex was operating 23 weekly return services between Perth and Albany, which then dropped to just four return services during COVID-19.

Now, Rex will be operating eight weekly return services between Perth and Albany, a far-cry from their previous offerings, but an important increase for local FIFO and essential workers.

City of Albany CEO Andrew Sharpe said they were pleased to see the service increase after a tumultuous period.

“The City are very supportive of the service that Rex offer to our community from transporting FIFO workers to keeping families connected, and this flight increase ensures we are on the road to recovery, growing our economy and allowing this important service to continue in the Great Southern,” he said.

Mr Lodge said the Rex team looks forward to providing more services to the community.

“To further support the community which has been as badly affected as us, Rex is not only continuing to provide the Rex Community Fares (CF) at pre-crisis prices, but we are relaxing the fare conditions to sell all remaining seats within seven days prior to departure as a CF instead of the 24-hour condition applied previously,” he said.

The CF promotion is priced at $139 for Albany and is available for each way travel.

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Arts package fail; ‘too little too late’

THE WA branch of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEEA) has slammed the Federal Government over its handling of the arts sector during the COVID-19 crisis, questioning whether its stimulus package will help freelance artists get back to work.

Last week Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Arts Minister Paul Fletcher announced the arts industry would be backed by a $250 million cash injection to help restart the creative economy.

But Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance WA Branch Director Tiffany Venning said the funding package was a long time coming and would do little for artists who aren’t associated with large organisations.

“It’s a lot too little too late,” she said.

“It certainly doesn’t address the majority of freelance and casual workers who were ineligible for JobKeeper and in some instances JobSeeker, simply by the nature of their work.

“This package again fails to address those individuals.”

Key parts of the targeted package include $75 million-worth of competitive grant funding and $90 million in concessional loans to help fund productions and events.

Australian film and television producers will get a $50 million boost to start filming again, while $35 million of direct assistance will be offered to Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations.

Local musician David Rastrick said he was surprised the Federal Government was offering any assistance given they had shown a lack of respect for the arts sector in recent years.

Mr Rastrick said he was worried musicians who work gig to gig would be left behind by the Government’s stimulus package.

“I don’t expect them to support the arts,” he said.

“The statements they’ve made and the directions of their packages haven’t shown they appreciate the arts or the contribution it makes to the economy, either nationally or locally.”

Every year the arts sector adds $112 billion to the national budget and employs more than 600,000 Australians.

Ms Venning said the Government’s own job outlook described the arts as a low-skilled profession, which was a slap in the face to those who have made it their life’s work.

“It goes to show the Government’s absolute disrespect and lack of understanding of the sector as a whole,” she said.

“We’ve consistently seen that there is no regard for workers in this sector and the contribution they make to the economy.”

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Shantymen go dry

KNOWN for their boisterous singing and spirited gigs, the Albany Shantymen are making the bold move of going dry this July in an effort to support cancer research.

The group of 13 local musicians are putting away the beers this month to raise funds for the Cancer Council WA.

Cancer Council Great Southern Regional Education Officer and shanty-singer Bruce Beamish said their hope is to spread a message of positivity, while raising funds for an important service.

“A lot of the old songs that we sing have a lot of stuff about alcohol, whisky and rum, and I guess at some level we don’t want to be seen as promoting that lifestyle currently,” he said.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to lead by example and show that you can catch up with a group of mates and have a good time without drinking alcohol.”

All funds raised through the Dry July challenge for the Cancer Council are said to stay in your state to assist local families affected by cancer.

Research shows every year more than 3,200 cancers can be attributed to alcohol consumption.

“People still don’t make the connection between alcohol and cancer and yet it’s been proven,” Mr Beamish said.

“It is actually a group one carcinogen … so it’s up there with asbestos and smoking and things like that.”

While drinking any amount of alcohol puts people at risk, Mr Beamish said they don’t expect people to give up drinking entirely.

“We suggest people stick to the NHMRC standards which suggest no more than two standard drinks a day, and in any one session no more than four drinks.”

The Albany Shantymen are asking for people to donate what they can.

If you’d like to donate, you can find the Shantymen on www.dryjuly.com/teams/the-albany-shantymen

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Domestic violence reforms welcomed

WOMEN’S safety advocates and support services in the Great Southern have welcomed sweeping changes to domestic violence laws passing State Parliament last week, saying the new reforms will help save lives.

According to a 2019 report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one woman is killed every nine days in a family violence incident.

The same report found 2.2 million Australians have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or previous partner.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show WA has the largest number of family and domestic violence-related homicides across the nation.

New laws brought in by the WA Government aim to change these grotesque facts.

One of the key changes is the introduction of a new specific criminal offence for suffocation and strangulation, which was previously classified as an assault.

Asha Bhat, Chairperson of the Albany Family and Domestic Violence Action Group, said strangulation and suffocation, much like domestic violence, had flown under the radar for far too long.

“Strangulation is predominant in violent intimate relationships and adds to that character of power and control present in domestic violence,” she said.

“An incident of strangulation in an intimate relationship significantly increases the risk to the victim of serious injury or death.

“The Bill is a big step forward in recognising the seriousness of the strangulation as an offence and carries higher penalties than an assault.”

Under the package of reforms, persistent family violence will also become a criminal offence and changes to the Restraining Orders Act 1997 and Bail Act 1982 will make it easier for victims to be granted protections.

Albany Women’s Centre Manager Joanna Fictoor said the new laws would have an immediate effect.

“We work daily with women who are in fear for their safety due to their perpetrators being granted bail for serious offences with limited monitoring,” she said.

“The introduction of monitoring, or changes to when an offender can be bailed, will hopefully provide some peace of mind for survivors of family violence, especially living in regional areas such as here in the Great Southern.”

Ms Fictoor said the reforms had been long overdue.

“For years now victims of family violence and those of us working in support services have been raising concerns the legislation did not go far enough in protecting victims, nor did it hold perpetrators to account for what are often repeated acts of abuse,” she said.

“Many workers in family and domestic violence services have supported numerous victims of the same perpetrator; these changes have the potential to hold repeat offenders to account and potentially break the cycle.”

WA has the second highest rate of family and domestic violence in the country and Ms Fictoor said those rates had risen at an alarming rate during COVID-19.

“Here at the Albany Women’s Centre, we saw a 50 per cent increase in calls for help during the height of the coronavirus,” she said.

“We know perpetrators have weaponised social isolation measures and contagion fears to cut off their victims from support networks, such as family members and friends, as well as using it to excuse abusive behaviour.”

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Emerging leaders

ALBANY’S next generation of entrepreneurs were already doing things a little bit differently to the business norm and it put them in the box seat to not just survive but thrive through the pandemic.

While many of your traditional industries scrambled to transition online during the hysteria of the coronavirus, Albany’s younger group of business owners were already set up for success in the digital world.

Change and adapting to a new norm doesn’t faze these up-and-comers.

We’ve all heard the frightening assessment of Australia’s economy.

Companies are suffering and there are talks of thousands more job losses to come.

But the new norm has opened up exciting opportunities for the likes of Aaron Attwell, who runs digital marketing company Xesiv Digital.

“Business is booming bigger than ever,” he said.

“We had our biggest months through COVID.

“Even though there was a short period where everyone was a bit uncertain, which was understandable, business picked up because people understood the impact of being online and they wanted work done last week.

“People came to me wanting to know how they could thrive in this new environment.”

Emily Smith, who founded mindset coaching company Be Think Do Coaching, said she now has a waiting list for new clients.

“Everyone is realising the importance of mental health and looking after ourselves more than ever,” she said.

“What I do is help people with their mindset, and with what’s happening this year people have been forced to face the things they may have been avoiding dealing with.

“I’ve had my two biggest months in business in April and June. I wish I could take on more clients but I can’t right now and that’s a good place to be in as a business.”

Ms Smith said she had already been partly running business from home before the coronavirus, but has now decided to work online full-time.

“We get straight to the point. If someone is coming to your house you might talk about other things, but when we just have an online call it’s focused and straight into it,” she said.

“I found it a really good change. It forced us to go online and practice a different way of doing things that actually works better.”

Jordan Wilson, who started up Albany IT company Concept Tech, said it is an exciting time for businesses in the digital space if you know what you are doing.

“Things were moving so fast,” he said.

“The Government and business system was getting a shake up so a lot of money was getting passed around.

“We’ve had a lot of people purchasing products from us because they’ve had a bit of extra coin in the bank.

“It’s creating a gap for younger businesses and new business owners to pop-up and take advantage of it.”

Mr Wilson said many local business owners aren’t making the most of the digital space and don’t understand cyber security.

“We deal with hundreds of businesses locally and lots of them don’t know what they are doing,” he said.

“They might be a great electrician or plumber but they don’t know how to run a business and that’s their downfall.”

Mr Attwell, who won Young Business Person of the Year at the 2019 ACCI Business Awards, said seasoned operators were starting to take notice of services like digital marketing.

“They are paying attention,” he said.

“You’re not some kid hanging out on a computer anymore.

“The market is changing, but it brings opportunity.

“While I started in Albany, I’m starting to connect with people all over the world. There’s opportunity everywhere if you keep your eyes out for it.”

Mr Attwell said he felt part of the next generation of business owners in the port city who were open to doing things differently to the traditional norm.

“There’s a pocket of very forward thinking people here and it’s getting bigger and bigger,” he said.

“You don’t need to be restricted with Albany anymore and there are opportunities to connect and grow. We are building our team and scaling nationally.”

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Sawyer’s bronze age

PORONGURUP artist Larry Sawyer is candidly refreshing, does not mince words and labels himself a traveller in arts and crafts.

“You won’t get much arty-farty talk from me as I am a worker in all disciplines,” Sawyer begins.

“I won’t wear silk cravats or attend art meetings or groups. I just do my thing.”

Having no trade qualifications but self-belief, he started woodwork with a view to selling his products, and now after 30 years has built himself a sound economic unit working from home.

Sawyer also sells watercolour paintings and promised that when he got older he would investigate deeper into traditional arts.

“So on retiring at a overproof age, I taught myself bronze casting,” he said.

“This followed a period of resin casting, as I thought ingot bronze unobtainable.

“I have now built a studio workshop if people care to visit.

“Sales are unimportant as this is a collection of my work, however there is a donation box to help me continue.

“Most of monetary input has come from success at local level, such as Art in the Park.

“The awards came fairly quickly giving me enormous confidence to plunge in.

“I have also a small display of traditional oil paintings focusing on portrait works.”

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The meditative healing of painting

IN A move that was supposed to encourage her children to paint, Albany choreographer and theatre performer Carmen Fasolo has found a new creative passion.

Well known locally for her work with Albany Light Opera and Theatre Company in the likes of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, Fasolo has swapped the bright lights of the theatre for a makeshift painting studio in her Mt Melville home.

With theatre shows cancelled during COVID-19, she decided to set up a painting space in a room usually reserved for making coffee and fresh bread.
Fasolo was hoping her kids would try their hand with the paintbrush, but soon found herself using the new studio far more often.

“It was more for my girls, but I really got into and got lost in it, it’s really meditative,” she told the Weekender.

While the smell of coffee still fills the air of her studio, there’s now more than a few short macchiatos on the production line.

Fasolo has taken to abstract portrait work, and she is loving the change of pace.

“I love that you have no idea what will is going to come out on your canvas,” she said.

“For me it’s knowing when to stop which is quite hard. I think it’s not being too scared about being perfect. That’s why I really enjoy the more modern abstract style.”

Working with the paint brush has also been a healing process, according to Fasolo, who was choreographing Elton John and Tim Rice’s musical Aida for Great Southern Grammar when the show had to be dramatically cancelled because of restrictions.

“We were in production week when it got shutdown so that was pretty devastating,” she said.

“So this has been a form of healing – going into something new.”

Fans of her theatre work don’t need to be too worried though, as she plans to get back to singing and choreographing musicals once the local scene gets up and running again.

But Fasolo believes her theatre experience has helped her creative flair flourish when it comes to painting on canvas.

“Theatre taught me to be brave and just have a go,” she said.

“I’m at the beginning of my little journey.”

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Roundabout safety trial

A ROUNDABOUT that has received plenty of attention in the past due to the unusual amount of accidents associated with it is receiving a safety trial after another vehicle lost control at the location in April.

Mainroads WA confirmed that since December 2019 there has been a total of five crashes at the intersection of North Road and Campbell Road, with information about crashes that occurred in 2020 not available until next year.

Of these five incidents,two required medical attention, two involved major property damage totalling more than $3000 and one involved minor property damage under $3000.

The City of Albany will be making four safety enhancements to the location in consultation with Main Roads, Western Power and the Albany Roadwise Safety Committee.

White road paint and glass bead reflective coating will be applied to the kerbing on the corner of North and Campbell roads, and applied to the inner arc of the roundabout itself.

Seven red retroreflective raised pavement markers will be placed along Campbell Road to face oncoming traffic and an old driveway on Campbell Road will be closed and replaced with new kerbing.

A city spokesperson said permanent solid forms of protection were explored for the area through the consultation period but were considered by all agencies to be a larger hazard for vehicles, posing a greater risk to road users.

City of Albany Executive Director Infrastructure, Development and Environment Paul Camins said the safety trial was essential to prevent and minimise any risks at the intersection.

“We have worked with agencies to consider a range of safety options that will protect both drivers and pedestrians that use this particular road network and have reached an outcome that aims to save lives” he said.

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