Stephens new Labor candidate

CITY of Albany Councillor Rebecca Stephens will join the fight for the Seat of Albany at the 2021 election as the candidate for WA Labor.

The Tuesday announcement was made just eight days after current Albany Labor MP Peter Watson revealed he would retire from his position at the next election.

Ms Stephens is the Regional Manager for the Great Southern-Esperance region for Worklink, has volunteered with various school and community boards and has been a member of the Albany Surf Life Saving Club for more than 20 years.

She paid tribute to outgoing Member Mr Watson.

“Albany is a better place because of what Watto has achieved,” Ms Stephens said.

“I look forward to representing my community and campaigning for the re-election of the McGowan Labor Government.”

Premier Mark McGowan described Ms Stephens as an “outstanding candidate” who was ready to “take the baton” from Mr Watson.

“I’m proud to have Rebecca on my team, so we can continue to deliver on our plan for Albany, to create new local jobs, build the infrastructure Albany needs and upgrade important health and education services,” he said.

Mr Watson said he was excited Ms Stephens had been chosen as the WA Labor candidate for Albany as she “shares the same values as I do to put Albany first”.

Albany City Motors Financial Director Scott Leary is expected to join Ms Stephens in the race for the Seat of Albany as the sole nominee for pre-selection for the WA Liberal Party.

Other political parties are yet to announce their candidates.

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Heroic war animals remembered

ANIMALS who have assisted with war efforts throughout history will be remembered at an event this weekend at Albany’s National Anzac Centre.

National War Animals Memorial Day commemorations will commence at 11am on February 23 and include a display by the 10th Light Horse Albany Troop.

Troop President Maxine Brown said this year was the first time the event had ever been held in Albany.

“It recognises all animals who have served in all wars, not just the wars within the past 100 years,” she said.

“Animals, particularly horses, were used to transport troops and gear, but animals were also used as mascots.

“And then you’ve got the explosive detective dogs that are used in Afghanistan, and a lot of dogs become very good companions to soldiers with PTSD.

“Animals are just so important.”

Premier Mark McGowan will travel to Albany to attend the Sunday event and said the opportunity to commemorate mateship and the role of loyal animals was very special.

“Animals including horses, dogs and even pigeons have been loyal mates for our troops in times of need and it is fitting we recognise their role as part of the National War Animals Memorial Day,” he said.

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Car show a rare vintage

A FAMILY passion passed down through the generations is the backbone of an annual event that showcases all things vintage cars, tractors and machinery.

This Saturday’s fifth annual Cars & Coffee is a chance for Great Southern motoring enthusiasts to display and sell their treasured collectables.

The event is the brainchild of the Walmsley family, who have been running the swapmeet since it started in 2014.

The late George Walmsley was a passionate collector of vintage machinery.

According to grandson Charles Walmsley, he owned one of the biggest Massey-Ferguson tractor collections in Australia, and passed his love for vintage pieces down the family tree.

“When my grandfather passed, it was all handed down to my father Gordon and he wanted to showcase it,” Charles said.

“He wanted to open a museum but this was the next best thing.

“We also wanted to showcase what we have and what everyone else in the community has in their collections.”

A gold coin donation gets you entry, with all proceeds going towards running the event and supporting not-for-profit group Albany Community Hospice.

There will be food vans and coffee vans onsite, or you’re welcome to bring your own snacks and refreshments.

People with interesting wares to sell are also encouraged to setup small stalls.

“The beauty of our event, unlike a lot of car shows, is people can come and go whenever they want – you don’t have to stay,” Charles said.

“We are doing it the week before Racewars as a bit of a warm up. There will be a lot of Racewars cars here.”

Charles said Cars & Coffee was a great networking opportunity for classic car enthusiasts, offering up the chance to buy a gem piece you’ve always dreamed of.

The event will be held from 10am to 3pm this Saturday at 278 Robinson Road, Albany.

For more information about the event, contact Charles Walmsley on 0439 097 515.

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Financial fight for CWA flats

IN A last-ditch effort to save Albany Seaside Flats from divestment after the budget accommodation site failed to secure funding for crucial renovations three times, its volunteer committee must raise $50,000 in the next three months for the site to be considered for funding once more.

The site, located on Flinders Parade in Middleton Beach, currently has four operational one, two and three-bedroom units.

The Country Women’s Association (CWA) of WA site was originally designed to offer affordable accommodation to regional and remote families, but now offers inexpensive accommodation to anyone.

Three older units on the site, built in 1938, were closed in 2013 after 75 years of use due to their poor condition.

Secretary Anne Radys, Finance Officer Anne Barton, Committee Member Peg Vickers and Caretaker Laura Ferrell said the Albany Seaside Flats committee had discussed taking financial and administrative control of the accommodation site for many years with the CWA of WA State Committee – so they could work on upgrading the old facilities – but it was to no avail.

Only recently, the group said, was the committee awarded the control it needed.

Now, CWA of WA has given the committee a May deadline to fundraise a minimum of $50,000 before the decision to fully fund the renovation can be put to a state vote for the fourth time.

“They are part of Albany’s social history,” Ms Vickers said of Albany Seaside Flats.

“We didn’t have much back then but staying here was something I still remember, and it was absolutely wonderful.

“Losing them now would be like giving up the crown jewels.”

The three 1938-built units in question are heritage-listed and cannot be demolished.

The other option is to fund extensive and expensive renovations.

This includes installing firewalls, asbestos removal, replacing the ceilings, updating the kitchens and replacing the floor coverings.

CWA of WA State President Elaine Johnson explained that the issue of financing these renovations had been put forward to the CWA State Conference several times, but had failed to secure support and funding each time.

“A motion was carried at State Conference in 2014 to approve renovations of units A, B and C for up to $120,000 but no funding source was identified,” she said.

“Branches were consulted by postal vote in 2016 in an attempt to seek funds to support the required renovations or return the property to the State, and the response to the vote was mixed; it did not lead to a decision to fund the renovations, and further investigation into projected costs was authorised by the Board and approved as a motion at the 2017 State Conference.

“The renovations were proposed to the membership at the State Conference as a Statewide fundraiser, but this motion was lost.”

Ms Johnson said various other proposals had been considered by the Board, but they were deemed unsuitable.

This was because the financial model was “not sufficiently proven to justify the re-allocation of assets, nor do the units provide a sufficient community benefit to risk undermining the Association’s asset base and independence”.

“It is noted that the property is a Crown Grant in Trust, which means the Association cannot realise any funds invested into infrastructure, as if it wishes to divest the property it will need to return it to the State, subject to the approval of the Minister for Lands.”

Ms Barton is starting a crowd funding account which the public can donate to if they wish to support the cause.

The Albany Seaside Flats committee will also host a fashion show in April to assist the effort.

While the Weekender was speaking with the group about this issue, Ms Ferrell turned away bookings from potential clients as she had no room for them to stay.

She said the accommodation site was frequently booked out during the year and that it lost money by not being able to offer more accommodation, as the three 1938-built units sat empty.

“How can we make money if we can’t fix and use these units?” Ms Ferrell questioned.

President Ms Johnson said a minimum of $280,000 was required to lift the three 1938-built units to a “holiday lettable standard”.

She said she understood the community sentiment and history associated with the property and hoped the Albany community could help to save the units.

“CWA of WA cannot do this alone as the costs are high and returns low when you are dealing with budget family accommodation,” Ms Johnson said.

“As the units continue to deteriorate there is some urgency.”

A crowd funding link will soon be launched on the Albany Seaside Flats Facebook page to give community members the opportunity to financially support the cause.

Alternatively, people can call Ms Barton on 0412 937 641 to make a donation or donate direct to the account here: BSB 633 000, Acc 172 407 363.

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Novel idea features local writers

NEARLY a quarter of a new fiction book released this month was written by a group of Albany and Denmark authors.

Once: A selection of short short stories was published on January 18 and features stories written by Matt Beamish, Yann Toussaint, Ellie Fisher, Mark Hackleton, Rachel Isaacson, Izzy Mead and Bronwyn Jones.

The book was created by Perth-based Night Parrot Press who put the call out to authors last year to submit their flash fiction, micro fiction and hybrid fiction.

These genres constrain the author to writing no more than 500 words – to give you an idea, this news story is just under 300 words.

There will be a celebration at Six Degrees tonight from 5-7pm to commemorate the launch of the book, as well as a Flash Fiction Workshop on Saturday, February 1.

Night Parrot Press editors and publishers Laura Keenan and Linda Martin will teach people how to write big stories in less than 500 words.

“We feel a particular affinity for Albany; there’s such a talented pool of writers there, and a very supportive and enthusiastic literary community,” Keenan said.

“There is already so much great fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction that comes out of Albany and now it’s really exciting to be able to work with another genre – flash fiction.

“Flash fiction continues to gain momentum in WA and the rest of Australia, but it’s still a relatively new form, so we’re hoping to share its charms and challenges through workshops like these and future publications and readings.”

The Flash Fiction Workshop will be held at UWA Albany from 9.30am to noon and is a ticketed event.

Interested people can book online at


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Roe absorbs Jerri Shire

THE Shire of Jerramungup will no longer be part of the seat of Albany for the 2021 state election after changes to State electoral boundaries were formalised last week.

The reshuffle, conducted by the Western Australian Electoral Distribution Commission, will see Jerramungup cede from the District of Albany currently held by Labor MP Peter Watson.

It will be absorbed by the agriculture District of Roe, held by Nationals WA’s Peter Rundle, which will in turn lose the shires of Kulin, Wickepin and Cuballing to balance elector numbers in the Central Wheatbelt.

The changes come three months after Jerramungup councillors unanimously voted to lodge an objection to the Commission about the move (‘Boundaries crossed’, 29 August).

In his report to council at the time, Shire CEO Martin Cuthbert claimed the decision would have “detrimental effects” on the work the Shire had put into building a relationship with the City of Albany.

“The Shire of Jerramungup believes it does not share a community interest with the majority of the Roe District,” he wrote.

Jerramungup originally joined the Albany electorate in 2015 and has since coordinated a number of economic, tourism and advocacy efforts with the City and the shires of Denmark and Plantagenet.

“The Commissioners have decided to affirm their decision,” the report read.

“Alteration of state electoral boundaries should not prevent continued each Parliament.

Retired judge Eric Heenan, government statistician Tom Joseph, Electoral Commissioner David Kerslake and Acting Electoral Commissioner Chris Avent led the review.

Shire of Jerramungup CEO Martin Cuthbert was contacted for comment.

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Christmas activities raise festive spirits

THIS weekend is jam-packed with activities to get the Great Southern into the festive spirit.

Twilight markets, a Christmas-themed outdoor movie, giant snow globes and Santa are some of the entertainment ready to roll into the Albany Town Square and Alison Hartman Gardens on December 6 and 7 as part of the Christmas Festival and Pageant.

Expanded to two nights, the Christmas Festival and Pageant this year includes a Friday night program that includes the lighting of the Christmas Tree next to Albany Public Library, followed by a screening of the 2018 film The Grinch, all from 4pm.

Festivities continue at 3pm on Saturday with live music, kids’ activities, entertainment and food vendors.

The Christmas Pageant will begin at 6pm with 45 floats from schools, businesses and community groups marching up York Street.

Green Skills is holding a Twilight Market in the Town Square on Friday and Saturday from 3pm to coincide with the festivities and has a sustainable Christmas theme.

City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington encouraged everyone in the region to come into the city centre and get into the festive spirit with the whole community.

“The Christmas Festival and Pageant is always a highlight on the calendar and it’s a great way for families to have some fun and celebrate the year that has been and look forward to the Christmas break,” he said.

More information on the festival pageant and road closures can be found online at or by calling 6820 3000.

Pictured here are Logan and Harper Wilkinson, who are more than excited about this weekend’s events.

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Canteen closure drama

THE closure of the Albany Primary School (APS) canteen for 2020 has been shrouded in secrecy as outraged parents have their questions as to why it was closed left unanswered.

The APS P&C formally announced the decision last Thursday on their Facebook page and followed it up in the school newsletter the following day.

The decision was made at the final P&C meeting for 2019 on the previous Monday.

The P&C Executive Committee released a brief statement saying the canteen was no longer financially viable and would not re-open in 2020.

“We understand that shutting down the canteen will have an impact on APS families and during term one 2020, the P&C will start to investigate alternative lunch service options to mitigate the impact,” it said.

P&C President Carly Talbot declined to elaborate any further or discuss if any other options were considered.

APS Principal Cathy Willis passed the Weekender’s queries to the Department of Education’s Media Team who said, “as the canteen is run by the P&C, we will leave it to them to talk about it”.

On the day before the social media post announcing the canteen closure due to financial constraints was made, the P&C thanked visiting artists for the P&C funded Toilet Artwork Project that ‘has lifted our toilet blocks to new and inspirational heights.”

“Three toilet blocks have been completed and they truly are beautiful, fun spaces for our students,” the post read.

On social media, parents expressed their anger.

Questions such as exploring the option of opening two or three days a week or outsourcing the service went unanswered.

Outraged parent Courtney Hathaway is so upset with the decision and lack of transparency, she is looking at moving her son to another school.

“How can you even run a school with no canteen? Are you serious?” she told the Weekender.

“As a parent of a child that goes to the school, I’m very disappointed that the canteen is closing. I don’t understand how you can efficiently run a school without a canteen.

“If they can afford artwork in the toilets then why can’t they afford something that’s actually needed like the canteen? I don’t know about you but I don’t sit on the toilet looking at the artwork on the walls.”

The Weekender understands that one of the paid employees, who had worked there for 19-and-a-half years, was only told of the decision two days before it was announced on Facebook.

The Weekender also understands that the canteen bank balance was deemed healthy, there was not a lack of volunteers and paid employees managed to run the canteen efficiently whether there were any volunteers or not.

The decision has blindsided employees with two people losing their jobs. Parents are demanding answers and even some teachers were unaware of the impending closure days after it had been announced.

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Healing program is classical therapy

The Weekender in conjunction with Palmerston and the Great Southern Suicide Prevention Advisory Group (GSSPAG) will be running a series of articles to improve mental health literacy, promote help-seeking behaviours and preventing life loss to suicide. This week, the article by Ian Magor from Ruah Community Services focuses on the Red Dust Healing Program.

TOM Powell, author of the Red Dust Healing Program, describes being a young boy and seeing his father driving a grader home from work: “He’d come up the road in a big red cloud of dust,” he said.

“And I always remember how happy the sight of that dust made me feel.”

It’s the reason Tom called his program Red Dust Healing.

The program was initially devised by Tom, who describes himself as a “proud Warramunga Man”, as a healing program for Indigenous men but response to the course has been so positive, Tom became convinced he should “open it up to everybody”.

I attended a facilitator training course recently in Albany along with 16 other human services workers.

Our response to the course was overwhelmingly positive which is unusual because sometimes you attend a training course and walk away thinking someone is just trying to reinvent the wheel.

A lot of programs are well-intentioned but not necessarily eye-opening.

Red Dust Healing is a little bit different.

It has all the goals of classical therapy – helping people to feel better, improve self-esteem and achieve goals, yada-yada – but it does it in a way you’re not immediately aware of.

No, it’s not smoke and mirrors, it just asks you to have a look at yourself and realise that there is good and bad in your past but you need not let it define who you are now.

Red Dust is a hands-on visual program.

Participants are given time to reflect on their history and draw a family history in the form of a tree (the tree is an important metaphor in Red Dust) and then uses some other useful metaphors to talk about life.

We’re introduced to the bird and fish – the bird controls the air, the fish the water – and we’re asked to compare bird and fish to our own relationships; I can only control what I can in my environment and I can’t control you or yours (and vice versa).

It illustrates how much time we spend trying to control things we have no control over.

It brings an understanding of how we sometimes need to let go in order to have control over ourselves.

We’re also introduced to the JIG (Jealousy, Insecurity, Greed); emotions we need to recognise to stop them affecting our behaviour.

Don’t get JIGged (don’t be influenced by those three emotions).

It gives us a language; “Hey, they’re just JIGging you, don’t get sucked in to it!”

The JIG can make us angry or behave in ways we might regret.

The JIG gives us a framework to recognise how these feelings can have a negative effect on our behaviour.

Ultimately, Red Dust asks us to act with integrity and maintain our dignity.

As Tom says, when the dust settles, that is all we’ve got.

We can ask the question, “Did I act with integrity?” and we can use this as a guide, thereby maintaining our dignity.

For more information about Red Dust Healing and related workshops please contact Ian Magor on 0437 539 513 or Palmerston on 9892 2100.

A day of healing could change your life.

If by reading this, you need support please phone Lifeline on 13 11 44.

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Coach scores role in West Indies

FORMER Albany cricketer Chris Brabazon will be living the dream when he jets out in 11 days to Antigua to commence his new job with Cricket West Indies (CWI).

He is currently the Coach Development Manager for the Western Australian Cricket Association but takes on the role as National Coach Education Manager with CWI, formerly the West Indies Cricket Board.

Brabazon commenced his A-grade career with local team Collingwood Park when he was 15 and played for six seasons, winning a premiership.

A talented sportsman, he played colts football for Royals before crossing to play league for North Albany.

His younger brother Ryan played for the Sydney Swans in the AFL.

Brabazon said he first went over to the West Indies in 2016 with Cricket Australia to coordinate coaching courses.

Eighteen months later, CWI made contact through former 54-test cricket star Jimmy Adams who raised the role with Brabazon.

But the job was put on ice until Ricky Skerrit took over the CWI presidency earlier this year and one of his main priorities was developing West Indian coaches.

Brabazon was contacted again, and this time he signed on for a three-year deal.

“My priority is to develop a national framework looking after the coaches development, and focusing on level two to level three accreditations,” he said.

“The West Indies comprises 15 countries and territories and they are all fiercely independent so it can be a tricky situation.

“So I’ll find out what their philosophy is and then try and implement it.

“Previously it’s been a scattergun approach as the islands drive themselves but now they want their own national system.

“It’s taken them a while to get to this point but to be fair, Australian cricket weren’t that far advanced to them.

“For example, seven years ago my job didn’t exist.”

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