Sexual expression in aged care

A PERTH university student is looking to the Great Southern to conduct research on how residential aged care workers perceive and experience sexual behaviour from aged care facility residents.

Marie Smith, who is completing an Honours degree in Psychology at Edith Cowan University, worked in aged care when she first left high school and described the experience as “eye opening”.

She hopes her research project will give carers a voice as she believes no other scholarly literature does.

“After working in aged care and reading the literature, I realised how little focus there was on this,” Ms Smith said, regarding sexual expression in aged care.

“I was a bit shocked because studies look at aged care managers and nurses, but not at carers, who make up 70 per cent of the aged care workforce.”

For her project, Ms Smith defines sexual expression and behaviour as “any act that communicates sexual need or desire, such as suggestive comments and gestures, flirting, hugging, kissing, groping, viewing sexual material and solo or partnered sexual activities”.

“This can be sexual expression between a resident and a carer, between resident and resident, or a resident with themselves,” she further explained.

“And it’s not just physical – it might be verbal, or an elderly lady wanting to read 50 Shades of Grey, or a couple getting embarrassed even though they are married.”

Ms Smith is focusing on the Great Southern due to the high population of retirees and rural retirees, as she believes regional residents are often overlooked in scholarly research.

She feels it is a “no brainer” to ask carers in the Great Southern about their encounters with sexual expression.

“It’s tricky because there aren’t a lot of guidelines around how to deal with sexual expression,” Ms Smith said.

“So, I really want to ask questions and see how people can be helped in a constructive way.”

Only carers employed in the aged care sector are eligible to participate in Ms Smith’s study.

All interviews will be confidential, and a $20 Coles Myer voucher will be granted as thanks for participation.

Pseudonyms will be used when the interviews are included in Ms Smith’s final paper, which she hopes to finish in October and publish next year.

Those interested can contact Ms Smith on 0487 982 722.

Continue Reading

Ensemble kitchen

MUSICIANS rehearsing at Albany Community Music Centre now have the luxury of running water, a sink and space to store cutlery and kitchen utensils for their supper breaks thanks to the support of TAFE students and business donations.

Brad Eastough is the Certificate I and II coordinator for South Regional TAFE’s building construction program and is always on the look-out for real-life projects for his students.

When Lancaster Hall Management Committee member Robyn France asked whether his students were interested in designing, constructing and installing a functioning kitchen at the Albany Community Music Centre, Mr Eastough did not hesitate.

“Students benefit from live work,” he said.

“Normally, they will make something and just take it home, but with this, they have the enjoyment of building something the community can use.”

Mr Eastough said over 12 months, his 14 students broke the project down into a series of smaller projects and designed and constructed every element.

Cabinet making lecturer Bryan Thompson installed the finished products.

“It’s been really rewarding for the students,” Mr Eastough said.

“They can see the benefits of their labour.”

Ms France was overwhelmed at the community interest in the project and was thankful for all of the material and labour donations.

“Southern Ports paid for the plumbing, which was done by King’s Plumbing, Choices Flooring gave us some lino and laid it for us, and Brocks gave us some tiles and grout,” she said.

“It’s just great; we’ve been washing up plastic for 20 years so it’s nice to have space to use real mugs and store them somewhere other than the cleaning cupboard and have more than just an urn and a plastic dish.”

Ms France said the City of Albany Band, Albany Sinfonia, City of Albany training band and the Amazing South Coast Big Band rehearse on a weekly basis at the music centre and said the new kitchen would certainly be appreciated.

Yvette Elms from the Albany Sinfonia added that the kitchen increased the social element of band practice.

“For a lot of people, band practice is an outlet for them to drag out their instruments and is great for their mental health too,” she said.

“The social element is fantastic, and this new facility will make a huge difference – everyone can stick around for a cuppa and wash up afterwards.”

Continue Reading

Cyclone memories

AN AUTHOR and historian who collated the stories of those affected by a devastating cyclone in the South West more than four decades ago will share his findings during a book tour in Albany and Denmark next week.

Roger Underwood spent two years interviewing more than a hundred people who were living in the region when tropical cyclone Alby swept through on April 4, 1978.

The freak weather event triggered flooding and hundreds of bushfires across the Great Southern and beyond and left a trail of fatalities and destruction in its wake.

One year after the 40th anniversary of the crisis, Mr Underwood spoke with the Weekender this week about his book Cyclone Alby: Memories of the 1978 Western Australian Storm and Bushfire Crisis and about what happened during those fateful days.

“The book has really two objectives,” he said.

“One was to record the personal stories of those involved and the second was to record history and try to see the parallels between what happened then and what might happen today.”

Mr Underwood was living in Manjimup and was the area’s Bushfire Controller when the first inklings of the coming disaster were felt.

He said in late March 1978, a low developed off the Pilbara coast, some 800 kilometres north northwest of Karratha before it moved south.

“When it reached not far north of Perth, it suddenly started interacting with a cold front and the resulting intermixture of the cyclone and the anticyclone produced gale force winds,” he recalled.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the tropical cyclone further built in intensity as it approached the South West and the Great Southern.

Mr Underwood said the extreme winds spurred on more than 500 fires in southern WA all on the same afternoon.

“You had a situation where almost the entire southern half of the state was being threatened by bushfires and storms and floods and at the same time there was no communications,” he said.

“They were paralysed because the power went out everywhere, there were no telephones and no radios and roads were blocked by fallen trees.

“Communities and farmers were all isolated and having to deal with the crisis by themselves.”

Mr Underwood spoke to a host of those who were tested by the “shocking conditions” of the crisis, from farmers and foresters to emergency service personnel and medical staff.

“Most rose to the occasion magnificently. The stories in the book demonstrate the tremendous courage and resilience of the people involved,” he said.

But the crisis was not without tragedy.

A total of five people were killed as the cyclone unfurled, including two Albany men who drowned when their dinghy overturned and a woman who died when she was struck by a falling tree in Kendenup.

The overall damage bill was estimated to have reached approximately $39 million at the time – 280 houses were burned, thousands of sheep and cattle were destroyed and the fires razed approximately 114,000 hectares of forest and farmland.

“The storm itself came and went in a period of about five or six hours, but it left behind a period of days, weeks and in some cases years of recovery work,” Mr Underwood said.

“It also left its psychological scars on many people. When I was doing the interviews I had people who rang me up and they just burst into sobbing tears because the memories were just so painful.”

Mr Underwood is an avid disaster historian and worked as a forester for around 35 years before retiring in the mid 1990s.

He said although the storm came as a surprise for many people since cyclones generally head inland, it was not unprecedented.

Two serious cyclones in 1937 and 1945 wreaked similar havoc.

“Most people had forgotten about those. There was a general feeling in 1978 as there probably is today that you don’t get tropical cyclones sweeping across the southwest,” Mr Underwood said.

“I think even today people don’t study history and often don’t learn from the past … it’s inevitable we will have another event like this sometime in the future.”

Mr Underwood will be giving his free talk at the Albany Public Library on June 21 and in Denmark on June 22.

Continue Reading

Activity club launched

AN ALBANY man living with a severe physical and mental disability, epilepsy, scoliosis and dislocated hips has created an activity group so people of all abilities can have fun and be creative.

Alan Brenton, 34, is holding an information session for Al’s FlyinHi Activity Club on June 18 at Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre (ALAC) to give potential club members an insight into the club and a chance to sign up.

Mr Brenton’s mother Kathy Scott said the club’s values were “fulfilled, adaptive, inclusive, respectful and supportive”.

“Years ago, we’d go out with Alan and fly kites and he loved it,” she reflected.

“But no agency we were involved with was interested in starting any kind of social or activity club, so last year, we decided we’d do it ourselves.”

Al’s FlyinHi Activity Club will offer dance, kite flying and puppet theatre classes to people aged 15 years and older.

The club will mark Mr Brenton’s first step into the business world.

“It’s been really fun working with Alan to do this,” Ms Scott said.

“We’ve never done anything like this before – making our own kites and all the paperwork.

“But the main thing is creating something people of all abilities can be a part of; there was nothing for Alan to do before.”

Ms Scott said the club would not tolerate discrimination and was very adaptable to people’s suggestions.

She hopes the club can host a concert after 20 weeks of the program to show the community what skills club members had learned.

The June 18 information session at ALAC will commence at 12.30pm and wind up at 2.30pm.

Any enquiries about the group can be sent to

Continue Reading

Church looks to higher authority for approval

THE pastor who last month had an application to build a church in Denmark rejected by Shire councillors has taken the case to the State Administrative Tribunal for review.

Baptist Pastor Graeme Ritchie submitted an appeal application to the independent dispute resolution body last Thursday after failing to find “alternative solutions” at a meeting with Shire staff earlier in the day.

“If we don’t go to SAT, we have to go through a new development application and the whole long process starts again, which is just ridiculous,” Mr Ritchie said.

“Council could then turn around and still say no.”

Mr Ritchie said of a number of sticking points that could not be reconciled at last week’s hour-long meeting, the most noteworthy revolved around the proposed building’s size and venue capacity.

Under the original plans, the church that would be built on Lot 166 at 987 South Coast Highway would be 560 square metres in size, reach a maximum height of 6.3 metres and feature an assembly hall with seating for 180 people (‘No faith in plans’, 30 May).

“I think they were really more concerned about the actual number of people, reducing it from a 180-seat capacity down to … 100, 120 or whatever,” he said.

“We could be open to looking at seating capacity, but to actually change the size of the building is another discussion altogether and the Denmark Baptist Community hasn’t come to any conclusion on that just yet.”

Mr Ritchie said the Shire was also concerned about parking and feared the 46 car bays required by planning guidelines would not meet demand if the venue were to be used for large events.

Mr Ritchie argued events that attracted a significant number of people to the venue would occur “infrequently” and would benefit the town.

“I’m sure we can get around that by negotiating with surrounding areas who can provide off street parking,” he said.

Denmark Shire Director of Assets and Sustainable Development David King was at last Thursday’s meeting alongside Senior Town Planner Jasmine Tothill.

“Given that the proponent has verbally advised they will be seeking a review of the decision at SAT, it would be inappropriate for me to relay any information relating to our informal discussions at this stage,” Mr King said.

“In the event of an SAT review, it would be hoped that a resolution can be found at formal mediation and [that the case wouldn’t have to] proceed to a full hearing.”

Under the Planning and Development Act 2005, an aggrieved applicant has the right to engage SAT to review a council’s decision within 28 days of it being made.

Mr Ritchie submitted his appeal application to SAT within 16 days of the Denmark Shire’s decision.

A directions hearing will determine the next course of action, which could include methods of alternative dispute resolution instead of a full hearing.

“I think there could be a bit of give and take, but I think also the councillors themselves need to realise [their decisions have consequences],” Mr Ritchie said.

SAT has overruled decisions made by local governments in the Great Southern before.

In January, the Tribunal overturned the City of Albany’s ruling to refuse landowner Graeme Robertson’s plans to build a lime pit on the Nullaki Peninsula (‘Nullaki concern’, 17 January).

Last year in August, the body overturned the City’s February 2017 refusal of a development application for a service station near the Chester Pass roundabout.

Spokespeople for the Minister for Local Government David Templeman and Minister for Planning Rita Saffioti each told the Weekender they were not responsible for or were unable to comment on matters relating to SAT and local government decisions.

A spokesperson for Attorney General John Quigley said Mr Quigley could not “comment on or intervene in a matter determined by the Tribunal.”

“The government and the judiciary are independent of one another,” the spokesperson said.

“The Tribunal operates in accordance with the main objectives set out in section nine of the SAT Act 2004 which includes resolving questions, complaints or disputes and making or reviewing decisions fairly and according to the substantial merits of each case.”

Continue Reading

Giving back

OYSTER Harbour Store owner Mark Cuzens is selling more than two tonnes of pumpkins he has grown on his property and donating all of the proceeds to Albany Community Hospice and Foodbank.

Mr Cuzens has been the owner of the convenience store and service station for the past 22 years and said he had been growing pumpkins on his property for around four years.

“I grow a few different varieties like jarrahdales and butternuts,” he said. “They’re really easy to grow; you just need to put them in the ground and that’s it.”

Mr Cuzens said a few years ago he gave Hospice a large amount of his pumpkin crop to sell on their open day and decided this year he would support the not-for-profit organisation again.

“At a guess I would say we have around two and a half tonne of pumpkins,” he said.

“This year we’re selling them for $1 per kilo with all money raised going to Hospice and Foodbank.”

Mr Cuzens said he began selling the pumpkins on Monday and on that first day of trade, sold $50 worth of pumpkin.

“The best thing to make with pumpkin is some good old pumpkin soup, especially in this weather,” he said.

“The pumpkins are just out the front of the shop so come by and just grab one, we’ll pop it on the scales and the money will go in a separate tin.”

The Oyster Harbour Store is located on the corner of Bayonet Head Road and Lower King Road and is open seven days from 6am to 7.30pm.

Continue Reading

Music eisteddfod turns 40

THERE is less than a week to go until the Albany Music Eisteddfod begins and musicians of all ages and skill levels are tuning up to showcase the best of their talents.

The event celebrates four decades this year and in recognition, has had a bit of a facelift.

The Eisteddfod will this year be performed at Wesley Uniting Church from June 11 to 14 and audience entry is by gold coin donation.

Albany Eisteddfod Committee President Elizabeth Burns said a special primary school choir session would be held at the Free Reformed Church on June 15, and that the winner concert would be at the Albany Entertainment Centre on June 14.

“There is so much fantastic local talent in this region which deserves to be celebrated,” she said.

“We really want to make this event more accessible to the community, so that’s why for 2019, we have moved the event to Wesley Church and decided to make entry for audience members by gold coin donation.”

Ms Burns encouraged everyone to come along to the performances.

“It’s a great atmosphere and local artists have worked hard to perfect their performance which deserves to be appreciated by an audience,” she said.

“It’s particularly special for younger performers who are just starting out – they get the opportunity to come and watch students who are a bit further along in their musical career and be inspired by that.”

Visit for more information on session times.

Tickets for the winners concert at the AEC can be purchased online or via the AEC box office.

Continue Reading

Coffee shop saga stirs up council

EFFORTS made by councillor Alison Goode to reconsider a controversial commercial lease for a coffee kiosk in the Albany Tourism and Information Hub were slammed by Council on Tuesday night with the motion voted down two to nine.

In August last year, barista Chris Saurin won the rat race to be named the preferred operator for the 14.25spm space (‘Coffee shop booked in’, 30 August 2018).

However during the November council meeting, Cr Rebecca Stephens, Cr Emma Doughty, Cr Bill Hollingworth, Cr Tracy Sleeman, Cr Robert Sutton and Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks voted to sink the proposal (‘Coffee shop canned’, 29 November 2018).

In the effort to bring the proposal back to the drawing board Cr Goode, who was notably absent to promote her motion, moved to reconsider the lease and request the proposal process for expressions of interest to be called again.

Mr Saurin fronted Council during question time to plead his case to have his proposed kiosk, Booked, reconsidered.

“There is still a considerable amount of interest in the kiosk,” he said.

“Many libraries across the state have coffee kiosks inside of them.

“Local operators that have claimed they will suffer a loss if the kiosk is approved, this has not been proven. They’ve clutched those numbers from the sky.

“The City of Albany is not paying for the fit out, I am.

“It’s a small space. You can’t swing a cat in there. It’s smaller than a disabled toilet.”

Mr Saurin also condemned cafe operators for being closed over the Easter long weekend and praised the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) for rescinding comments made in a submission to Council (‘Coffee shop quiz’, 15 November 2019).

“You can’t have customers if you’re closed,” he said.

Owner-operator of the Albany Sandwich Bar Stephanie Metcalf, whose business is directly located opposite the proposed site, spoke against the lease.

“Businesses are closing left, right and centre,” she pleaded.

“Do you want more unemployment? My five employees will lose their jobs, I’ve put my life savings into this business and my super.

“We’re facing the possibility that we will lose everything.

“This will be a kick in the guts for us.”

Owner operator of Poppies the Corner Store Jacqueline Daniel also spoke against the motion.

“We were open every day over Easter,” she said.

“This proposal will create an unfair playing field.

“I cannot draw a wage but I’m still paying yours in rates.

“Please don’t destroy mine, or other businesses.”

Councillors Paul Terry and Ray Hammond spoke in favor of opening discussions again on the lease.

“With the redevelopment of the Alison Hartman Gardens, a coffee kiosk would probably be the best use for the area,” Cr Terry said.

“We really need to look at this again.

“It’s not going into competition with other places. Businesses that think they are at risk with a kiosk opening, if you ran well you wouldn’t have an issue.”

Cr Stocks spoke against the motion and slammed the ACCI for not appearing at the council meeting after allegedly rescinding their comments made against the kiosk last year.

“The absence of the ACCI is pathetic,” he said.

“How can we have an industry council make comments like that six months ago and be absent tonight?

“They’re limp, lost and hapless.

“Good luck petitioning me for help in the future.”

Mayor Dennis Wellington, Cr Stephens, Cr Stocks, Cr Sutton, Cr Doughty, Cr Moir, Cr Hollingworth, Cr Sandie Smith and Cr John Shanhun voted against the motion.

Cr Terry and Cr Hammond voted for the motion.

Cr Doughty’s motion to take no further action on the lease until November 2019 following the completion of the gardens and a report compiled by the CEO on options for the site was supported nine to two with Cr Stocks and Cr Hollingworth against.

Continue Reading

Group needs support

DWINDLING interest in the Albany Friends of the Leukaemia Foundation group has coordinator Gayle Harman worried that people affected by blood cancer are not aware of the support available to them.

Ms Harman started the group in 2012 after she participated in Neil’s Walk, a fundraising walk from Perth to Albany she completed with family and friends in honour of her late brother Neil Stephens.

Mr Stephens died aged 46 after a 16-month battle with T cell prolymphocytic leukaemia and Ms Harman wanted to do something to honour his memory.

Since the creation of the Albany Friends of the Leukaemia Foundation group, approximately $150,000 has been raised.

Ms Harman said all the money raised by the group goes directly to Perth accommodation for country blood cancer sufferers and their families to stay in, to alleviate the financial strain of travelling for treatment.

She is concerned that a decline in fundraiser volunteers will affect the group’s ability to fund this accommodation, and a decline in group interest will affect the group’s future.

“I think people don’t know we’re here,” she said.

“But we can offer companionship and someone to talk to, as we’ve all been affected by blood cancer in some way.

“People need to know that they are not alone.”

Sausage sizzles, golf days and the annual Light the Night event at Emu Point are some of the fundraisers the group does.

Ms Harman said any amount of time people can give to the group is precious.

“If you can only spare a couple of hours, or an hour, or five hours, anything is great,” she said.

“Being a part of something feels good and you don’t have to have a connection to someone with blood cancer to help out.”

Fellow group member Nevanne Castellaro reflected on the importance of supporting cancer sufferers living far away from treatment they require.

“This is country money going to country people,” she said of the group’s fundraising efforts.

“It’s very important to keep it going.”

Ms Harman understood why older generations of people may no longer require the companionship offered by the group but was unsure why younger generations did not seek help.

She hoped this message would remind people that help is always there.

“I understand that people’s lives have moved on,” Ms Harman said. “They’ve received the companionship and help they needed, and

they’ve moved on.

“But I hope people continue to remember that we are here for them and there’s no pressure to be part of the group; not everyone comes to every meeting or fundraiser, but they are connected to us with newsletters and being part of the group.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the Albany branch of Friends of the Leukaemia Foundation, about volunteering or about joining is encouraged to contact Ms Harman on 0408 094 817.

Continue Reading

No faith in plans

THE Shire of Denmark has refused an application by the Denmark Baptist Community to build a church citing issues such as the development size, suggested usage and potential impacts on nearby landowners.

The Baptist Union of Western Australia has owned Lot 166 at 987 South Coast Highway for around 30 years and lodged an application to build ‘a place of public worship, community purposes and consulting rooms’ at the site with Shire Planning Services on January 1.

The motion to refuse the development approval was carried six to three by Shire councillors at their recent council meeting.

Church Pastor Graeme Ritchie said they had been renting the St John Ambulance Hall on Price Street for the past two decades and were in need of a new site to carry out church activities.

“Renting restricts the sort of things we would like to do within the community because we don’t have our own facilities,” he said.

According to the application, the building would be around 560 square metres in size, reach a maximum height of 6.3 metres and include an assembly hall with seating for 180 people and support facilities such as toilets, a kitchen and counselling rooms.

Shire Chief Executive Officer Bill Parker said the building’s size was one of a number of reasons behind the rejection verdict.

“Council was further concerned that there would be unreasonable impacts on surrounding landowners,” he said.

Eight submissions received during a 42-day public consultation process conducted by Planning Services also objected to the proposal for various reasons, with some calling the scale of the development excessive for a local Baptist congregation of around 40 people.

“It doesn’t matter how big the congregation is now,” Mr Ritchie said.

“You’re looking at a town that’s going to grow and grow over the next 25 years or more [with] more people moving into the area.

“We have a shortage of aged care activities and facilities in the area, so we’re looking at things like that.”

Mr Ritchie said the Baptist Church’s building committee had enlisted the aid of an acoustic engineer during the design process and suggested the facility could be used for other activities, including concerts.

Lot 166 is located in a residential zone about 600 metres east of the town centre and down the road from the Shire office.

According to Mr Parker, developments intended for “community use” are not permitted in a residential area without Council approval.

“Its proposed usage [is] not fitting with the residential nature of the neighbourhood,” he said.

Architect Martin Beeck worked with the Church to design the space and said he didn’t recall the residential area issue being raised during consultations with Shire staff.

Mr Ritchie took issue with several other reasons for refusal listed in the council resolution following this month’s meeting.

He said there was some confusion about reason four for the rejection that stated ‘the provision of consulting rooms detracts from the primacy of the CBD for service provision’.

“The term consulting room has given a wrong impression,” he said.

“All of a sudden at the council meeting we heard we were going to be letting out rooms to doctors, lawyers, dentists and all that.

“We were left gobsmacked about that … we’re not going to do anything along that line.”

Mr Ritchie said the extra rooms could instead be used for things like seminars about budgeting, family planning, and life after divorce.

Mr Parker said in this case the term ‘consulting room’ referred to a building used by legally qualified medical practitioners or persons associated with “the prevention, investigation or treatment of physical or mental ailments”.

“Pastor Ritchie’s comments around consulting rooms will be an item for discussion with a view to providing more clarity around the proposed use,” he said.

Mr Ritchie said he intended to meet with the Council to find some resolution before considering approaching the State Administrative Tribunal for review.

Mr Parker said the Shire planned “to meet with the proponent next week with the aim of collaborating and discussing a mutually acceptable position”.




Architect: Martin Beeck

Continue Reading