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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Breakfast, lunch and dinner at Tiffany’s

HER own battle with depression and anxiety has prompted Albany’s Anytime Fitness gym manager Tiffany Kenny to get behind a nation-wide 24 hour treadmill challenge to help raise money for suicide prevention.

Ms Kenny said she got involved with the fundraiser in Perth last year and was keen to run another successful event in her new home town.

“Together we raised around $15,000,” she said.

“I don’t think we’ll quite get there in Albany but we’ll definitely give it a go.”

So far, Ms Kenny has 15 people registered for the event and is calling for more people to get involved.

“Anxiety, depression and suicide is rampant in the country,” she said.

“I’ve had my own battle with depression and anxiety, and I’ve known a lot of people in Albany who lost theirs.

“Supporting suicide awareness and prevention is really important to get behind and get involved with.”

Among the registered runners is Anytime Fitness trainer Red Rogers, who is aiming to jog the full 24 hours.

“He wants to raise $1440 so it’s a dollar for every minute he’s on the treadmill,” Ms Kenny said.

“He’s up to $500 now, which is really good.

“We’re going to set him up with his PlayStation so he can play games while he’s jogging.”

To donate money to the 24 Hour Treadmill Challenge, give Red a dollar for his goal or to register for the event on May 25, head to the Tread Together website or visit the Anytime Fitness Albany Facebook page.

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New chapter written

IN A short chapter for a national anthology titled Growing up Aboriginal in Australia, dual cultural woman Carol Pettersen gives a deeply personal account of what it is like to be on the receiving end of bigotry – from both white and black people.

“This is probably the beginning of more writings of mine,” Mrs Pettersen tells The Weekender.

“It’s also about the racism displayed by some Aboriginal people today, not just non-Aboriginal people, and this did not happen to just me and my family but many others born into a dual culture.”

It is an experience shared by the book’s editor, Anita Heiss, a Wiradjuri woman who grew up in Sydney.

In her 2012 autobiography titled ‘Am I Black Enough For You?’, Dr Heiss asks why Australia is so obsessed with notions of identity.

Mrs Pettersen’s father was a white man, and her mother a Menang Noongar woman born by the banks of Lake Mullocullup, or Warriup Swamp as most Noongar people know the waterway east of Albany.

“Mum was semi-tribal, in that she lived in the bush all her life, and we grew up in the bush,” Mrs Pettersen says.

“She knew nothing else but living in the bush.

“I’ve taught my family to be just as proud of their white grandfather as they are of their black grandmother.”

In his 2006 interim decision on native title claims over south-western Australia, Federal Court Justice Murray Wilcox concluded that Aboriginal people were forced off their land, families broken up, and “probably in every Noongar family there is at least one white male ancestor”.

“That’s where all our surnames come from,” Mrs Pettersen reflects matter-of-factly on Justice Wilcox’s observation.

In the ruling, he expressed surprise that members of families seemed mostly to have kept in contact with each other and with other Noongar families, and many – if not most – children had learned traditional skills and Noongar beliefs.

Mrs Pettersen says the racism she still faces from some Noongar people is unfair on those with dual cultural backgrounds, and the bigotry has deep roots.

“The government did this,” she explains.

“Let me tell you, what happened when we moved into the mission, my brother and sister were there first, and I was at home and I didn’t know where they’d gone.

“We were still in the bush, Mum and Dad and me and my sister.”

She says her mother and father insulated her and her older sister from the politics of the time.

“All we knew were glorious days,” she smiles.

Mrs Pettersen says that when she and her sister moved to the mission they stayed in a separate little room from other Noongar girls who lived in a dormitory.

“We were not allowed in their room, and they were never allowed in our room,” she recounts.

“Now I don’t know what they told them, but we read, later on in getting our files, that we were to be regarded as whites.

“They must have told these girls, ‘don’t go in there because they are white girls’, and that’s been passed down, even though they know my mother’s black, and some of them are my cousins and yet they still called us ‘white’ because they were taught by the government to do this.”

Mrs Pettersen says that without the combined discipline of her mother’s and father’s cultures her family would not be “the tolerant and loving people that we are”.

“Every now and again you’ll get from non-Aboriginal people: ‘But, you’re different’;” she says.

“And I say to them that I am the proper Aboriginal.”

She says it is not enough to say: “I’m a proud Aboriginal woman”.

“It’s about the doing and it’s about the feeling and it’s about the application of that pride,” she adds.

“Well, show us what pride is – and that’s about when I look down and see my great-grandchildren following my same values that my grandparents taught me, that’s what pride feels like.

“That comes from a long line of discipline and a foundation of values.”

Co-owner of York Street’s Paperbark Merchants, Lockie Cameron, says sales of a small run of the book have exceeded expectations.

The bookshop has ordered in more, which should be available by the time The Weekender hits the streets this week.

Image: Mrs Pettersen with the book in which her chapter appears. Photo: Chris Thomson

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Drug dog for GS police

ON THE heels of a recommendation that police dogs and horses be afforded protection under Western Australia’s Animal Welfare Act, the Superintendent of Police for the Great Southern says a police dog is a distinct possibility for the region.

“We’ve been pushing for a while, and they are reviewing trying to get a police dog in our district,” Superintendent Dom Wood told The Weekender.

“We think we will get one, but when, I don’t know.”

He said drug detection dogs sometimes saw action in his district, as recently as last week in a rural area.

“It would be difficult to justify a general purpose dog for tracking and all that, because we just don’t have the level of burglaries and crime that they have in the metro area,” he said.

“But certainly there is talk of an agreement that we can get a drug detection dog down here at this point.”

Mr Wood said that, most likely, one of the existing patrol officer positions in the region would be converted to a dog handler position.

“All we would have to do is find a position, for example we could have an officer down here who puts their hand up and says ‘I’d like to become a dog handler’, and he or she could do the [handler’s] course,” he said.

“And, if the time is right, the next dog that is available would come down here.”

Mr Wood said police horses also helped patrol the region from time to time.

“Over the summer period, we had a little bit of an increase in crime in the Albany town centre, so we did actually bring the horses down [from Perth] and we coincided that with the 150-year anniversary of the police station, so they came down for that,” he said.

The Weekender has learned that WA Police Union President George Tilbury wants a Parliamentary committee to recommend that the existing Animal Welfare Act be amended to prohibit the “assault” of a police animal.

In a letter dated April 18, Mr Tilbury tells the Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on Legislation that the police force has about 40 dogs and 20 horses.

“Police animals provide alternatives to using lethal force and it has been said by officers from those units that a dog is worth six officers and a horse is the equivalent of 10,” he writes.

“The WA Police Union is advised that police horses are worth approximately $150,000 after their initial purpose and associated training.

“The monetary worth of a general duties puppy can also be as much as $15,000.”

Mr Tilbury advises that about four police dogs are injured on average each year.

“Police animals are often deployed in dangerous situations for the purpose of law enforcement,” he notes.

“The Act should be amended to reflect the gravity of assaulting one.”

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Nothing succeeds like succession

ARRANGING a successful handover of the family farm to the next generation will be the subject of a workshop to be held in Ongerup on June 8.

Ellie Stone, whose family grows wheat, canola, barley, lupins, and merino and cross-bred sheep at Boxwood Hill, says succession planning regularly comes up in conversation in regional areas.

“Many family farming businesses have completely different structures to one another, but a lot of the issues remain the same – what’s going to happen in the future, when will it be my turn to take on the farm, how do I keep Dad happy, how do we keep the lines of communication open?,” she says.

“I think that marrying into a farm business, it can be quite hard coming into a family that has its own way of communication, and finding your place in the farming business.”

Ms Stone, who is president of the Ongerup branch of Women in Farming Enterprise – better known by its acronym, ‘WIFE’ – says there is no one-size-fits-all solution to farm succession.

“But I think the core values of how to communicate better and how to approach things, and how important planning for the future is, always stay the same across the board,” she says.

“We’ve got four sons, aged four, eight, and the twins are five, and they’re already mad-keen farmers.

“So, for my family, we’re looking for the future of how we can set ourselves up for our sons’ opportunities to work on the farm if they wish to, or in other avenues if they choose.”

WIFE will run a workshop on farm succession at Ongerup Sporting Complex from 9am to 2.30pm on June 8.

All comers, including blokes, are welcome to attend.

Farmer-cum-accountant Ben Thompson, from Ironbridge Group, and Michael Pyne from HPH Solutions, will talk on the day.

“I suspect a lot of the younger generations who potentially married in to farming families will participate on the day,” Mr Thompson says.

“A lot of the farmers who started farming in the ‘60s and ‘70s are now starting to get to the point of retiring and there is a big difference between that generation of farmers and these ones.

“The younger generations want to know what’s happening and how things are going to be structured, whereas you only have to step back a generation and it was pretty much: ‘You do what you’re told and you don’t ask questions, and we’ll tell you when it’s time to be told’.”

He says that especially when a farming enterprise is carrying a lot of debt, securing a comfortable life for retiring farmers and security for their families while ensuring the future viability of the farm is a challenge.

He says a particular concern for women is securing a future for their off-farm children.

“A lot of them are used to a huge proportion of assets ending up with a son coming home to the farm, and the off-farm children being left with not much,” he explains.

“I think a lot of women want to ensure there is a balance, that it’s not all about the farm and the pressure that comes with that.

“It can’t always be equitable – otherwise, in many cases, you’d have to sell the farm – but I think it can be fair.”

WIFE members can attend the workshop for $15, and non-WIFE members for $25.

RSVPs to [email protected] by June 1.

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Devil is in the detail for roundabout servo

TORTUOUS negotiations – including on a safe entry point and a $9000 piece of public art – continue over a fuel station planned for near the Chester Pass roundabout, despite a building permit having been issued for the contentious project.

City of Albany chief planner Paul Camins told The Weekender a building application was approved for the Albany Highway site in April.

He said the permit was valid for two years, and if the proponent, Peter D. Webb & Associates town planners, wished to extend it a standard application process would apply.

In August, the State Administrative Tribunal overturned the City’s February 2017 refusal of a development application for the project.

In her conditions of approval, Tribunal member Rosetta Petrucci ordered that access points and stormwater management to the highway be designed to the specification of Main Roads Western Australia.

Main Roads Great Southern regional manager Andrew Duffield said such a requirement was standard, and in “99.99 per cent of the cases never an issue”.

“This one’s been topical from Day 1,” he said.

“We have just been wanting to work with [the proponent] over safe access to the site and it’s taken quite some time to get them to the table.

“It’s very clear there’s a whole range of other things they need to get approval and endorsement of.”

Mr Duffield said stormwater was one.

“If they’re looking to tap into our network, then we need to know about it and we need to give approval of it,” he said.

He explained that drawings submitted with the development application were site layout plans only that “did not give any particular engineering detail”.

He said that for projects abutting a main road it was perfectly normal for discussions to ensue on technical details such as the type of paving, and a traffic management plan for the construction phase.

“It’s not as simple as: ‘SAT has given us approval, we can do whatever we want’,” he said.

Mr Duffield said he sat down with the proponent on May 7 to help improve the project’s on-site traffic circulation, which would lead to fewer cars backing up out onto the highway.

The planned exit on to Albany Highway is about five car lengths from the entrance to the roundabout, the worst intersection in regional WA in terms of frequency and cost of crashes.

“I hope [the proponent] come[s] back to us fairly quickly with their modifications, and if things are looking okay we’ll tick it off, and away they’ll go,” Mr Duffield said.

He said Main Roads was dealing with Peter D. Webb & Associates on “a number of other” projects in Perth.

“We’re very happy to see development, but there are some sites that are more challenging than others,” he said.

“Whilst [a fuel station] might be allowed under that zoning, so were a number of other options which had a lower traffic generation [and] traffic impact capacity.

“For example, a showroom would have been within those zonings and we would have been much happier with a showroom than a high traffic generating site.”

Mr Duffield said road safety was his paramount concern.

Ms Petrucci also ordered the developer to either erect a piece of public art worth 0.5 per cent of the $1.8 million project cost, or contribute 0.3 per cent of the project cost if additional landscape and building treatments were proposed to the satisfaction of the City.

Mr Camins said Peter D. Webb & Associates was yet to advise if art, or the extra landscaping and building work, would be chosen.

The company’s Managing Director, Nik Hidding, said his “client” had instructed him not to comment to the media.

The owner of the site is Victorian-based Procon Developments, which has arranged for at least two Coles Express and one BP servo to be built in WA.

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Royal nod for teacher

GOODE Beach resident Charles Pierce was so nervous before meeting the Queen earlier this month, he was suited up and ready to leave for Buckingham Palace five hours early.

His visit to the palace was no ordinary tourist trip – he flew halfway across the world to receive a medal from Queen Elizabeth II and be granted the title of ‘MBE’ at The Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours List ceremony on May 4.

Mr Pierce was recognised for four decades of education services to Vanuatu, the country he called home for more than half his life.

The 77-year-old Englishman said after travelling throughout Asia in his younger days, he discovered the Baha’i faith, and it was through this faith he began his journey of teaching abroad.

He now calls Albany home and has done so for the past five years, in-between trips to Vanuatu.

“I’m a teacher by trade, and I heard through my Baha’i faith that people were needed in the Pacific, to help develop and grow the Baha’i people in the community,” he said.

“So I lived and worked for a year in Vanuatu, married my wife in Australia a year later in 1968, then in 1971 went back to Vanuatu and stayed there for 42 years.”

Mr Pierce said his work in Vanuatu focused on promoting unity and education within the Baha’i faith, building greater community cohesion and empowering people.

“One of the two questions the Queen asked me was what kind of education I was involved in,” Mr Pierce said.

“I told her I was principal of a secondary and tertiary school, was involved in training teachers, taught a Baha’i moral education program, and was involved in developing, producing and delivering a course in climate change.

“She thought it was wonderful.”

The other question the Queen asked Mr Pierce during the MBE ceremony was whether he lived in Vanuatu.

“I told her that I did, and that I remembered her visiting years ago, and that she wore a yellow dress,” Mr Pierce said.

“I think she was quite moved when I said that, she was smiling.”

Despite speaking with relative ease during his few moments with the Queen, Mr Pierce was a bundle of nerves in the hours leading up to his royal encounter.

He said he took an hour to carefully put on his suit, a piece of attire he hadn’t donned in 50 years.

“I was terrified,” he laughed.

“The night before the ceremony, I didn’t get to bed until after midnight and I was up at 4am.

“I just could not sleep.

“We had to be there at 9.45am but I was ready by 5am!”

After keeping it a secret from his family for two months, and finally receiving his medallion, Mr Pierce said the reality of being awarded MBE finally sunk in.

“It wasn’t real until I got the medal,” he said.

“I feel very privileged and honoured.

“But it’s not about the medal, it’s about what you have done to receive it.”


Photo: British Ceremonial Arts

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Top cop moves on

GREAT Southern Police Superintendent Dom Wood will return to Perth where he is set to become the state’s top traffic cop.

“I’ve done my tenure, so I’m off in July, August,” he told The Weekender.

He said that, come July, he will have been in Albany for three years.

“It’s gone very quickly,” he said.

“I love the region, I love the people.”

Mr Wood said Superintendent Ian Clarke, who currently works in the police professional standards unit in Perth, would fill his shoes.

“He’s a really nice fella, a good bloke,” he said.

“He’s got a good background, in traffic for a while as a superintendent, and done some crime work, and worked country as well.

“He was an OIC up in Kununurra, and also in Dunsborough, and has some detective background as well.”

After a handover to Mr Clarke in July, Mr Wood will become Superintendent, State Traffic.

“You can, if all the stars line up, try to push [your tenure] out to maybe four [years], which I was kind of thinking, maybe [until] Christmas, but they said ‘no’, they want me to take over and do the State traffic role up at Midland,” he said.

Immediately before coming to Albany from Perth, Superintendent Wood was the police force’s Manager, Media and Communications.

“We’ve got a couple of older kids back up in Perth, and we always knew I was never going to retire down here,” he said.

“I’m too young to retire, so I always knew this was about a three-year tenure.

“I’ll still get the chance to come back down here with a booze bus, maybe.”

He said he’d miss Albany’s bush walks and coffee shops.

“My wife and I were out on the boat on the weekend, the Vancouver Street Festival became a bit hot, and I said: ‘C’mon, let’s get the boat out’,” he said.

“We went out with a couple of friends of ours, and we were followed by dolphins in the harbour.

“So, I’ll miss the town, and the community is a very good community, a very friendly community.”

In other policing news, Mr Wood said a drug detection police dog was on the cards for the Great Southern (Drug dog for GS police, p.5 of today’s Weekender).

Mr Wood said one priority he would pass on to Mr Clarke would be to “keep pushing” for a canine to join the ranks of the local constabulary.

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Lawyer invokes Flintstone defence

A WOMAN who confronted her elderly neighbour who on a habitual basis would scream “yabba-dabba doo!” while drinking from the break of day has pleaded guilty to one count of common assault.

On May 3, police prosecutor Mike Russell told Albany Magistrate Raelene Johnston that on the morning of November 24, the 67-year-old man was walking with the assistance of a frame when his neighbour Donna Marie Baxter remonstrated with him “about his shouting in the morning”.

Sergeant Russell said Baxter, 58, grabbed the man around the throat with her hands.

She later admitted confronting, but not assaulting, the man near their three-unit public housing complex at Orana.

Defence lawyer Richard Hickson said Baxter admitted to yelling and “getting right up in his face”.

He said the man regularly drank and took phone calls from 5am, while yelling out his “favourite saying”, the Fred Flintstone-esque “yabba-dabba doo!”.

“His behaviour has significantly improved since the incident,” Mr Hickson said.

“The units are now harmonious and everyone’s getting on well and his behaviour, yelling and shouting in the morning, has stopped.”

Mr Hickson explained that Baxter had yelled “yabba-dabba doo!” in the man’s ear and asked him “How do you like it?”.

Magistrate Johnston acknowledged Baxter, who suffered insomnia, would have felt “frustrated” and been suffering from not sleeping.

But she said the defendant acted in an “inappropriate” manner that would have been “very concerning” to the man who was “in a frail state”.

Baxter was ordered to undertake 30 hours of community work.

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Goon guzzler stabbed

AN ALBANY woman confronted by another who admitted she was “completely and utterly paralytic” after consuming “four litres of goon” has pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful wounding.

On May 3, police prosecutor Mike Russell told Albany Magistrates Court that Elicitor May Roberts, then 49, was intoxicated when between 8.35am and 9.48am on November 14 another woman approached her in her Orana home.

Sergeant Russell said Roberts slashed the visitor in the left forearm and upper arm with a 30cm carving knife, before cutting the woman’s forehead, leaving a two-centimetre-long gash.

The visitor fell to the ground, Roberts left her house with the knife, and police later found her walking along South Coast Highway.

Defence lawyer Richard Hickson said the stabbed visitor later admitted she had “consumed four litres of goon” and was “completely and utterly paralytic”.

He said the woman had been “completely obnoxious” and Roberts “felt threatened by her”.

Magistrate Raelene Johnston told Roberts she was “very lucky that something more serious did not happen”, as picking up the knife created “potential for greater injury or death”.

Roberts told Magistrate Johnston she was no longer drinking.

“Good,” the Magistrate said.

“Continue on that path.”

Roberts was ordered to report to community corrections staff for the next 12 months and not to reoffend during that time lest she breach the order.

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