Centre built on legacy

AFTER 13 years, Graham Reside finds it quite humbling that his father is still being recognised for his contributions to the Great Southern community.

The Bill Reside Community Centre was officially opened last Thursday by the Albany Community Care Centre and Albany and Regional Volunteer Service, with an afternoon tea amongst friends and family.

Graham and his siblings, Ruth and Merv, cut the ribbon on the new centre, and fondly reflected on their father’s life.

Mr Reside was the first chairperson of the original Albany Lions Community Care Centre in 1987, and received numerous awards and medals in recognition of his community work, including the British Empire Medal in 1981, the Red Cross Service Award in 1988, the Long Service Medal in 1995 and Citizen of the Year in 1996.

ARVS manager Tracy Sleeman remembered Mr Reside’s legacy and his efforts across the Great Southern.

“He was instrumental in creating the first community centre and today we acknowledge the insight and commitment of Bill to our community,” Ms Sleeman said.

The afternoon tea also celebrated the launch of the Albany and Regional Volunteer Service’s newest project, the ‘Giving Whilst Living’ guide.

The booklet lists different groups in the Great Southern which rely heavily on ongoing community support and donations, and provides details on how to donate to them.

“This booklet gives much needed attention to local community support groups and not-for-profit organisations,” ARVS chairperson Judith Williams said.

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Graveyard shift

SIX paintbrush-wielding ‘cemetery fairies’ are working to ensure deceased Denmarkians, while gone, are never forgotten.

In 1995, the centenary of the town, Bill Pinniger, a professional fisherman now buried in the cemetery, donated granite for headstones to mark 224 unmarked graves.

But time and the elements had worn the headstones’ writing away.

Bev McGuinness, chairperson of the Denmark Historical Society, said she and five fellow fairies had spent the equivalent of 12 person-days repainting the headstones.

“Genealogy is a big thing these days,” Mrs McGuinness said.

“Being able to know where your missing relative is, and any information the headstones might contain, is invaluable for people researching their family histories.

“When we started here, most of the headstones were illegible.”

Fellow fairy Linda Humphries, who paints each headstone from the back, as she can see better through her bifocals that way, said it had been “a really rewarding task”.

“We’ve done this job out of respect for those who are interred here, and for the families that can’t attend to the headstones themselves,” she said.

The group had to strip each headstone back, as many were flecked with faded paint.

Despite the hard yakka and the gravity of their surrounds, the volunteers are quick with a quip.

Asked if painting the headstones was hard on his joints, cemetery fairy Ashleigh Murch said:

“That’s nothing to do with the gravesites, more with our proximity to them.”

Long-time Denmark local Don Redman said he observed the fairies’ work on September 10 when visiting on the birthday of his late mother, and thought it was “absolutely fabulous.”

“For us oldies, it brings back all sorts of memories,” the 76-year-old said.

“When I was a boy, there was a child kicked in the head by a horse and he died, and that’s the kind of story that’s out there.

“These stories must be passed on, and keeping the headstones in order is a good way to do it.”

The other cemetery fairies are Leanne Laurie, Ross McGuinness and Margaret Pomery.

The fairies received a $200 ad hoc grant from the Shire of Denmark, which allowed paint, brushes and stripper to be bought.

There’s a litre or two of paint left. Anyone wanting a tombstone touch-up can call Mrs McGuinness on 9848 1781.

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Flinders Primary on show

UKULELES were strumming, children were laughing and families were appreciating the display of student achievements at the Flinders Park Primary School open night last week.

The school welcomed families and friends to their campus last Thursday, to invite parents and carers to learn more about their child’s progress, and to view their efforts from the past three school terms.

Principal Richard Bushell was very pleased with the open night’s success.

“We had lots of parents and grandparents visit the school to view samples of the students’ work,” Mr Bushell said.

“There were great conversations between students’ families and their teachers about the students’ learning, which was a positive result of the evening.

“There was a great buzz around the school, plenty of excitement, and a lot of positive comment by parents afterwards.

“It was a great opportunity to give families a snapshot of Flinders Park.”

Highlights of the evening included art teacher Sarah McNamara’s amazing efforts with students to create the Spectacular Shoe Show, sports teacher Tracey Menegola’s hilariously renowned skipping videos from the physical education program, and music teacher Mike Staude’s coordination of the assembly hall music extravaganza.

Flinders Park Primary is an independent public school, catering for students from kindergarten to year six, and is located on Yatana Road in Bayonet Head.

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New support group stands proud

A NEW safe and non-judgemental support group has been established in Albany for parents, friends and families of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, known as PFLAG, is an international organisation providing support, education and advocacy for LGBTIQ communities.

Albany’s new branch is currently being coordinated by Jule Ruscoe, who has actively been involved with support group Albany Gay and Lesbian (AGAL) for a few years.

PFLAG welcomes people of all ages and stands alongside the local LBGTIQ community to support equality for all, and to promote understanding and support.

The group is comprised of parents, grandparents, siblings and friends of the LGBTIQ community.

“We are very excited to start PFLAG Albany,” Ms Ruscoe said.

“We believe in keeping families together through acceptance and greater knowledge.”

Current PFLAG Albany members will soon have their business cards distributed throughout local high schools, doctors’ surgeries and Anglicare, to let people know how to get in touch with them.

“We are more than happy for people to come and have a chat with us, or go for a coffee with them,” Ms Ruscoe said.

“We want to be a point of contact for people.”

Ms Ruscoe is aiming for the group to commence regular meetings every two months, but welcomes informal meetings any time.

PFLAG Albany will be working closely with AGAL and can be contacted through their website, albanygayandlesbian.com.au.

PFLAG began in America in 1973 and has been operating in Australia for more than 30 years.

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Buckets raised for MND

EMU Point locals opened their hearts and their wallets on Saturday to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease at the ‘Get to the Point’ fundraiser at the Emu Point Sporting Club.

Organiser for the event Gus Woithe said the turn out was absolutely amazing.

“It was a tremendous effort by the attendees and those that donated their time for the event,” he said.

“So far we have raised over $22,000 and we’re expecting that amount to rise by the end of the week.

“Some donations haven’t been processed yet, so I’m hoping we break the $23,000 mark.

“We were raising money for a reason, and everyone was so generous in donating.”

As a part of the festivities on Saturday some locals, including Mr Woithe, were ‘auctioned off’ for the pleasure of being able to dump a bucket of icy water over their heads.

“I had two buckets auctioned off at $100 each to be dumped over my head,” he said.

“It was a fun way to raise money.

“It was great to see so many people getting involved and being such good sports.

“The Ice Bucket Challenge was very successful in raising money in Australia.”

Since 2014 more than $3 million was raised by the Ice Bucket Challenge for MND Australia.

“The money we raised will be going towards getting proper beds and mattresses, cough assist machines and power chairs for MND sufferers,” Mr Woithe said.

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Learning tricks of the language trade

ALBANY Dyslexia SPELD Foundation’s clinic coordinator Mark Jones wasn’t sure the centre would survive six months ago.

They are now about to enrol their 50th student and employ a fourth teacher, proving that Albany DSF is a vital resource for primary and secondary students needing extra assistance in their reading, writing and spelling.

“We are really pleased with the centre’s progress,” Mr Jones said.

The not-for-profit organisation provides individual and small-group specialised tuition for students struggling with the necessary literacy skills for their age category.

Students do not require a doctor or school referral to attend the clinic, and parents are welcome to visit the centre, to learn more information and ask questions prior to enrolling their child.

“Our on-site psychologist conducts cognitive and literacy tests to create a learner profile, which helps us identify the learning difficulty affecting the student,” Mr Jones said.

Albany DSF has built strong relations with allied health services and schools, including Flinders Park Primary, Mt Lockyer Primary, St Joseph’s College and Albany Senior High School.

“We are really grateful that we can help the kids, and it is also good to provide employment opportunities to the community through the centre,” Mr Jones said.

A typical routine for a student attending Albany DSF includes a 45-minute session after school, once a week, with one of the centre’s specialist teachers.

After each session, the DSF teacher speaks with the parents about the child’s progress and provides homework tasks to further the child’s learning.

“Parent involvement in these processes is crucial,” Mr Jones said.

“We see the best progress in students when there is parent involvement.”

Albany DSF student Matthew Thompson and his family have been working with the centre since its conception.

The St Joseph’s College year five student was diagnosed with dyslexia two years ago, after receiving his year three NAPLAN test results.

Matthew’s mother Amanda has seen first-hand the benefits of having a DSF clinic available to regional students.

“Now after two years, which is a decent intervention time, we have seen a significant improvement in Matthew’s literacy,” Ms Thompson said.

“We have been very fortunate this year to see Matthew continue to improve, which has proven to us how extremely worthwhile DSF’s services are.”

Ms Thompson said DSF’s extra curricula has helped lessen her concern for Matthew’s wellbeing for high school.

“Our main worry was how Matthew was going to cope in high school,” she said.

“We wanted to best prepare him for high school, so now he is learning the tools he needs to get through.”

Parents interested in Albany DSF’s literacy services are welcome to visit the clinic at 93 Earl Street, opposite Albany City Motors, or call them on 9842 2594.

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Community bands together for MND

FOR members of the Emu Point community, Motor Neurone Disease is close to home.

They recently lost a good friend to the degenerative disease, and another has been diagnosed less than a year ago.

The need to rally together has been the catalyst for the Emu Point Sporting Club’s fundraiser on September 16, which will feature the hallmark ice-bucket challenge.

Funds raised will go towards Motor Neurone Disease Association of Western Australia (MNDAWA) who provide vital support for sufferers, their families and carers.

Vanessa Brooks’ father Ian was diagnosed with the disease in November and said the support of the community had been overwhelming.

“It’s been very touching with how much the Emu Point community has been supporting dad and the family,” Ms Brooks said.

“It’s been so hard dealing with Dad having MND, and to have such a show of support means so much to us.”

Ms Brooks was with her dad when he was diagnosed with MND and said the day would be something she would never forget.

“I’d never seen him cry before and it broke my heart.

“It’s such a terrible diagnosis and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

“MNDAWA has been an amazing support for my family.

“I’ve been going to their You, Me and MND carer’s course and it’s been brilliant to have been given an in-depth knowledge of the disease.

“I’ve learnt how to care for my dad and how to care for my family.”

After Mr Brooks was diagnosed with the terrible disease, Gus Woithe decided to do something about it.

“Everyone in the community wanted to help the families,” he said.

“So we decided the best way to help the Brooks and Swarbricks was to raise money for MNDAWA.”

Mr Woithe said the highlight for the day will be the ice bucket challenge, with 11 people pledging to dump ice over their heads along side him.

He has raised more than $3000 for the challenge on his own so far.

Mr Woithe encourages people to wear blue and white on the day in support of MNDAWA and the Brooks and Swarbrick families.

“We’d like everyone to get in the spirit and wear the MNDAWA colours,” he said.

For more information on joining the ‘Get to the Point’ fundraiser, you can contact Gus Woithe on 0427 241 232.

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Bright futures explored

SECONDARY students with a disability and at-risk students participated in an interactive conference in Albany on Tuesday, to learn more about their future living and education possibilities.

Year 10, 11 and 12 students from Albany schools who either suffer from a physical, sensory, intellectual or psychiatric disability, or are at risk of not making a successful transition from school to future endeavours, attended the event at the Albany Entertainment Centre.

Local Menang elder Carol Petterson kicked off proceedings with the Welcome to Country, and encouraged students to do their best to reach their goals.

“Learn to be led by your dreams,” Ms Petterson said.

“Don’t let rejection be your master.

“Focus on what you can do today, to make a better tomorrow.”

Students then heard from Darrian Graham and Jess Hughes, two successful Great Southern Personnel pupils who worked hard to earn their current jobs, with work experience and assistance from GSP.

“I may have taken a longer road, but work experience and GSP gave me the confidence I didn’t think I could achieve,” Ms Hughes said.

A range of workshops, displays and presentations followed about independent living, mental health, achieving educational goals, personal safety, employment preparation and self-advocacy.

“The main objective of this conference was to get students meeting the people who will be supporting them in their lives,” event organiser and Albany Secondary Education Support Centre teacher Deb Guest said.

“We have brought together the resources we feel can help students with their journey.

“There’s a fantastic network of people ready to help; students just need to ask.”

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Getting over the man

I MET a bloke who said his father had been dead for 20 years and he still wasn’t over it.

My father had died the year before and I could still hear him telling me how to remove the ceiling fan in the bathroom.

I’d done it a couple of times and I was over 50 years old, but that didn’t make any difference.

As far as he was concerned I was still “bloody hopeless”.

His funeral was a classic country town affair.

The police stopped the traffic, locals lined the main street, and the hearse stalled.

When it stopped, about half-way through town, one of my brothers poked my ribs and said: “Look out, he’s got one more thing to tell you.”

When Stanley Roy Doust was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in September 2001, I was shocked and wept for days.

I had to get it over before I saw him.

He wouldn’t want any son of his blubbering in his face.

From September to December my brothers and our wives were with Dad and Mum every week, driving him to chemotherapy, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and caring for Mum.

Dad had been Mum’s full-time carer ever since she broke both hips.

She broke one at home, in Bridgetown and my brother Jamie said she did it as she turned to return to the kitchen for more food.

The hip collapsed and she fell to the floor.

He ran to her and she said: “I’m ok, dear, you finish your meal.”

Mum broke the other hip in a Bunbury hospital.

She tried to leave the bathroom without assistance, turned, and the other hip collapsed: “The staff are very busy in here and I didn’t want to bother them.”

That was how they were.

They kept saying: “We’ll go into a nursing home. We’ll get full-time care. You can’t keep doing this for us.”

He never complained.

And he never gave up.

One day we had a working bee at his house.

It was after a particularly heavy bout of chemo and he wasn’t feeling too posh.

There were about 10 of us, weeding, mowing the lawn, collecting garden refuse.

We were only five minutes into the job when the back door opened and there was dad in his work clobber, mouth open and issuing instructions:

“You can’t get a good cut like that. That hose should run straight. The rubbish goes on that side of the compost heap.”

We knew Christmas would be Dad’s last and we wanted to do something special.

The oldest brother came up with a winner: a fishing trip by houseboat, just Dad and his sons.

We did it.

Sadly, Dad had a stroke the night before and by the time we got him on the boat he was a bit ragged.

We did it again the following year, Stan’s four boys and his grandsons.

We talked a lot about Dad.

He was a leader and a legend in the South West, a stirrer with a great sense of humour, a kind and forgiving man, and no father could have been more generous.

There was only one thing missing.

All our lives Dad had never said he loved us, that he was proud of us, or that he respected us.

Never.

We knew he did, but he never said it.

Then a family friend called a day before the funeral and said, “I have a note for you. From your father.”

It’s a beautiful note. He tells us why he never said those things, that it was hard for men of his generation, and then he says them.

Who would want to get over a man like that?

He’s an inspiration.

In his darkest hours, he not only found the courage to break through a lifelong pattern of behaviour, but he left his sons with a wonderful gift: his love, his pride, and his respect.

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Lucky chicks saved from the runway

THE Albany Airport has had another year of surprise visitors, with three chicks found hiding away in a tree by the runway last week.

Born Free Wildlife Carers bird rehabilitator Annette Grant is now the primary carer of the three young banded lapwings, who were removed from the airport runway for their safety.

“It’s considered very dangerous for them at the airport, because the nest was so close to the runway that when they leave the nest, there’s a risk of them being hit by a plane,” Mrs Grant said.

Albany Regional Airport has become a favourite nesting ground for the little creatures.

“The airport staff look out for them every year, as they keep choosing the same spot,” Mrs Grant said.

“About three years ago, five eggs were found in that spot.

“That was a very happy outcome, as they had a very healthy release.”

Mrs Grant began caring for the precocial chicks at the end of their first 24 hours of life, and will be looking after them for at least two months.

“I am feeding them close to every hour at the moment,” she said.

“I weigh them every day and they are putting weight on, which is really very good.”

Mrs Grant has been a bird rehabilitator for seven years and began her love for birds through the Albany Summer School’s bird watching program.

Her knowledge and skills from the program have been of great help to her, as she can identify the different bird species and their natural foods and behaviours.

“They will stay under the heat lamp for a couple of months until hey get their feathers to keep them warm.

“Then they will go up to my aviary for a while and scratch away to their hearts’ delight at all the worms and dirt.”

The three chicks are the first group of baby banded lapwings for the year.

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