Road name changes afoot

PUBLIC comment is now open regarding proposed road name changes to portions of five streets in Little Grove.

Parts of Queen Street, Marine Terrace, Rushy Lane, Stubbs Road and O’Connell Street will be considered to form three larger streets – Rushy Crescent, Friend Court and Stubbs Close.

City of Albany Acting Executive Director for Development Services Jan van der Mescht said the City was considering the road renaming in response to feedback from local residents.

“The aim is to remove any confusion to emergency service responders, service providers and visitors to the area while also bringing the street addressing into alignment with current road naming practices as outlined in the Geographic Names Committee Policy and Standards for Geographical Naming in Western Australia,” he said.

Mr van der Mescht added that the proposal also addressed road name duplication, such as Marine Terrace – there is one in Little Grove and one in Middleton Beach.

He reiterated the proposal was in its very early stages of community consultation and changes to street numbering would be addressed through this process.

To see if you could be affected by these name changes, visit albany.wa.gov.au/council/have-your-say/public-comment.aspx

Public submissions regarding this proposal can be made to the City up until October 4 via mail – Zoe Sewell, City of Albany, PO Box 484, Albany WA 6331 – or by email – staff@albany.wa.gov.au

 

Image: Courtesy City of Albany.

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Shark deterrent proves attractive

GREAT Southern water users have claimed more than 200 government rebates for personal shark deterrent devices since 2017, with the uptake in Albany typically surging following media reports about shark attacks.

State figures released last week indicated a total 221 claims had been lodged in the region in that time and showed the seaside city ranking fourth in the top 10 locations in Western Australia utilising the $200 subsidy.

Owner of surf shop Aido’s Boardroom, Aido Shepherd, said he had sold about 40 Ocean Guardian Freedom devices, which are usually attached to surfboards to keep sharks at bay, since the program began.

“The media paint a pretty awful picture about shark attacks, which they are, but it scares people into buying things,” he said.

“Once it’s out of the news it becomes old news and people tend to say it’s fine until something happens, then the uptake will happen again.”

Mr Shepherd said he believed the “proven” devices were the best option available for dealing with sharks and that a lot of his customers were compelled to make their purchases by loved ones worried about their safety.

“Parents that are concerned for their kids, wives that are concerned for their partners. There are a whole lot of reasons why people do it and I understand why they do it,” he said.

“Obviously they want a bit of security in the water and I think it’s a wonderful initiative by the government.”

Mr Shepherd has been surfing for 50 years and said that in that time he had not had any dangerous encounters with sharks.

He said he did not use the device himself in part because it can change the weight and balance of a performance surfboard and because Albany didn’t have “too many problems” with sharks.

“Probably 99.9 per cent of the time they will swim straight past you. Yes, it’s a frightening experience but they’re not out to eat us,” he said.

“For me as a seller of these items, there’s not much money in it. For a month or two we’re actually out of pocket while we wait for the rebate … but I do it because people want it.”

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said it was pleasing to see surfers and divers in the Great Southern taking their safety seriously.

He said about a third of rebates claimed in the state were claimed in regional areas like Albany.

“Our beach culture is the best in the world and we want to continue to see people enjoy the ocean with confidence,” he said.

“Using a shark deterrent makes good sea sense for your personal safety, as is checking the SharkSmart website before you head to the beach.”

Member for Albany Peter Watson echoed Mr Kelly’s sentiments and said the devices “take the worry out of staying safe in the water”.

A total 15 people have been the victims of fatal shark attacks in WA since 2000, with 13 of those being surfers or divers.

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Ninja course sneaks into Albany

AN ALBANY ‘ninja’ began construction on a real-life ninja obstacle course rivalling the one from television show Australian Ninja Warrior this week and plans to open the doors to the adventure centre in mid-November.

Sam Goodall, known as the tradie ninja from Australian Ninja Warrior, has combined forces with nature playground builder James McLean to create Unhinge the Ninja, a business venture that will form part of a broader vision, Albany Indoor Adventures.

The pair recently signed a lease to occupy a vacant building on the corner of Sanford Road and Albany Highway, and plan to have things up and running before the Christmas school holidays.

“We’re really energised about getting kids off screens and getting body exercise, not thumb exercise,” Mr McLean said.

“I approached Sam after I saw him on Australian Ninja Warrior and we’re working together to create a nature ninja workout studio with an edgy, urban twist.”

Mr McLean remained tight-lipped about what else was planned for the centre but told the Weekender there would be a variety of full-size obstacles, a warped wall and a rock-climbing setup, amongst other activities.

The entire indoor adventure centre will be suitable for all ages and host classes, workshops and monthly competitions.

“I’ll be training here for the next season of Australian Ninja Warrior,” Mr Goodall revealed.

“So, it will all be proper full-scale as well as a great place for families to come and do something together – there will be an intermediate and an advanced course so anyone can give it a go.”

Mr McLean said a massive undercover carpark would allow lots of people to visit the adventure centre, that birthday parties would be able to be hosted at the centre, and that the centre would likely trade six days a week, Tuesday to Sunday.

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Hotel fate rests with committee

A COMMITTEE has now been formed to lead the way in determining whether Broomehill’s Imperial Hotel will ever return to its former glory.

The pub closed down in May this year and has since been left abandoned, with no new owner taking the reins after previous management walked away from it.

Broomehill farmer Scott Thompson said a meeting held last week to discuss the pub’s fate was well attended by locals.

“We had about 40 people turn up, plenty of good people,” he said.

“Out of that, nine people put up their hands to be part of a committee and that’s enough for us to get started.”

Mr Thompson explained the committee’s role now was to “go away and do some research” and weigh up the community’s options.

“There’s definitely a desire to have a pub,” he said.

“But people don’t really know how to do something – whether it’s as radical as knocking it down and building a new facility… the main thing is that it caused a reaction when it closed, and we need to work together to do something about it.”

Mr Thompson hopes the committee will liaise with the community sooner rather than later to discuss the next step.

The Weekender will keep you informed of any updates.

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Phone tower discord

FRUSTRATED Robinson residents are fighting for a 40m-high telecommunications facility proposed for their suburb to be knocked back by City councillors amid concerns of property devaluation and radiation exposure.

At an informal community meeting last week, residents from and near Home Road aired their apprehensions about a Telstra phone tower planned for 60 Home Road.

The tower would form part of Telstra’s 4GX network and prepare the Albany region for the new 5G network.

Residents at the meeting denied Telstra’s claim they had reported issues with the current Telstra service in Robinson and now stand firm that they do not want a tower built near their homes.

They are worried a phone tower will affect their ability to subdivide their properties in the future, will ruin their water and nature views, and have unknown, adverse health effects on young children.

Suzanne Moore of Home Road lives with her two grandchildren and is concerned a nearby tower would expose them to radiation.

“We basically moved here for the children because we didn’t want to be with things in the city and put up with the radiation and towers,” she said.

“Plus, there’s no way we’ll be able to subdivide with that view – when we look out on our main verandah, we would look directly at the tower – and our resale value is going to be hugely affected, we think.

“And I don’t think there’s enough known about what all the radiation is going to do to young people, whether it’s happening in their minds, their brains or physically.

“It’s just too big a risk not to fight for their future.”

Dan Toovey of Roberts Road, whose backyard shares a fence line with 60 Home Road, echoed Ms Moore’s worries.

He believes the 5G network is “unproven” and that Telstra is “still” undergoing studies into it.

“We’re elevated 25m above ground level, so we’re only about 10m below the main components of the phone tower infrastructure,” Mr Toovey said.

“And we look over the harbour for our view – that’s the value of our property.

“That tower will be right in the line of sight.”

Mr Toovey is working with the City of Albany to set up a crane at the same height as the proposed tower, so others can gauge how he believes the tower will negatively impact the area.

He is frustrated at what he calls a “lack of consideration” coming from Ashleigh and Colin Dowsett, the landowners of 60 Home Road.

“I think it’s a bit shallow for one person to take a money grab and look after their own pocket when it’s affecting the nearby community and maybe the wider community,” Mr Toovey said.

Telstra Regional General Manager Boyd Brown reassured Mr Toovey and Ms Moore that studies had been conducted into the amount of electro- magnetic energy (EME) emitted from phone towers.

The environmental report for the proposed tower, prepared on behalf of Telstra by Visionstream, states the maximum EME level calculated for the proposed site would be 0.36 per cent, 246m from the tower.

The maximum exposure allowable under the Australian standard is 10 W/ m2 (100 per cent).

This makes the maximum EME exposure expected at 60 Home Road to be below one per cent of the legal limit.

“Telstra has conducted extensive EME testing on the 5G network and found the EME levels to be similar to 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi and well below the EME safety limits,” Mr Brown said.

“5G wireless networks are designed to be very efficient and minimise EME; this means that both the network and device power will be low, which means low levels of EME on 5G.”

Mr Brown said Telstra relies on the advice of a number of health authorities, including the World Health Organization, International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) for overall assessments relating to health and safety.

Dr Ken Karipidis, Assistant Director of ARPANSA’s Assessment and Advice Section, explained how radiation affected the human body.

“The 5G network will initially use frequencies in the current mobile phone network, then move to higher frequencies where the depth of radio frequency EME penetration into human tissue is short,” he said.

“Consequently, this energy is absorbed mostly within the skin where surface heating is the predominant effect.

“At these higher 5G frequencies, the limits in the ARPANSA safety standard are set to prevent excessive heating at the surface of the skin and the eye.”

Dr Karipidis said no health effects were expected from radio frequency exposures below the limits set in the ARPANSA standard.

“In our community today, there are a range of devices and applications that utilise higher frequencies, for example security screening units at airports, police radar guns to check speed, remote sensors and in medicine,” he said.

Albany real estate agent and principal of Ray White Albany Graham Walker questioned Mr Toovey and Ms Moore’s concerns that a phone tower would affect their properties’ resale value.

“For a proposed phone tower to be considered it is obviously required to improve the service to customers, as the provider would not spend the money if they didn’t have to,” he said.

“I don’t know of any evidence to suggest that property values would change for the better or worse.”

Professor Paul Flatau, Director of the Centre of Social Impact at the University of Western Australia, could not directly comment on Robinson residents’ concerns without a thorough investigation, but agreed it is “vitally important” a Social Impact Assessment was brought into the urban planning process.

“Importantly, all relevant stakeholders should be consulted, and social impact assessment management plans should clearly outline how any adverse social impacts are mitigated,” he said.

“The social impacts of interest in an urban planning context can include dimensions such as services, housing, health impacts, the environment, employment, social connectedness, community spirit and social cohesion.”

City of Albany CEO Andrew Sharpe confirmed the matter would go before Council once the planning assessment process was complete, and that planning officers would “apply due process and consider all aspects relating to the application, including potential impacts and taking into account the community’s feedback”.

Home Road landowners Ashleigh and Colin Dowsett did not wish to comment on the proposal.

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Fish filleting fillip

ALBANY fisherman Bryn Westerberg hopes a new filleting machine will help his family’s business expand beyond the bait industry and compete in the supermarket trade and restaurant market.

Albany Seafoods received a $175,000 grant from the State Government this year to help subsidise the purchase of an automatic filleting machine, bread crumbing machine and high-volume vacuum packing machine totalling just under half a million dollars.

Albany Seafoods placed the equipment into full operation mode on Monday and Mr Westerberg said everything was running smoothly.

He explained the equipment was designed for blue mackerel and could fillet up to 300 fish in one minute – that’s about 600kg of fish in one hour.

“We’re trying to get into value-adding with food,” Mr Westerberg said.

“We’ve seen an increase in demand for sardines for consumption and that’s the way of the future; people want to eat clean, green fish.

“It’s very healthy for you.”

Member for Albany Peter Watson believed the equipment upgrade would allow Albany Seafoods to target new food markets nationally and expand into exporting.

“We are keen to support better utilisation of our fisheries resources and processing of this type is adding value to what we catch here in WA,” he said.

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The second coming

DENMARK council is set to reconsider a proposal to build a new church in the town after its initial rejection of the project in May prompted a mediation hearing at the State Administrative Tribunal.

Baptist Pastor Graeme Ritchie met with Shire representatives at the independent dispute resolution body’s offices in Perth on Monday, August 5 to consider a way forward without having to go to an official tribunal hearing.

He said Denmark councillors would be expected to “make a determination” about “what was discussed at that meeting” on or before September 17.

“I can’t say a lot because what was said in the actual mediation can’t really be said outside of that room,” Mr Ritchie noted.

“We explained our position, what we were about as a church and the types of things we would like to do as a worshipping community.

“We also discussed some of the concerns they had and just clarified those a bit … [That included] parking, the size of the building, what it was going to be used for and things like that.”

Mr Ritchie added that he had agreed to provide the Shire with any other material that would help clarify points of contention.

He described the mediation hearing as “a great meeting” and said he felt more positive about the whole matter.

“If there are other things that come about from [council’s consideration], which I don’t think there will be, we can either go back to mediation or we go to the tribunal,” he said.

Shire Director of Assets and Sustainable Development David King, who was present at last week’s meeting, said since “SAT mediation is without prejudice and confidential” he was unable to respond to a majority of queries from the Weekender.

“However, I am able to confirm that Mr Ritchie and Shire officers are working towards presenting an item to council in September for consideration,” he said.

Section 31(1) of the State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004 enables SAT to ‘invite the original decision-maker to reconsider the decision that is the subject of review proceedings before SAT’.

Mr Ritchie made the decision to take the matter to SAT after an hour-long meeting with Shire staff in June failed to find “alternative solutions” to the issue.

Under the original development application rejected by council the month prior, the church would be built on Lot 166 at 987 South Coast Highway and measure 560sqm in size.

It would reach a maximum height of 6.3m and feature an assembly hall with seating for 180 people.

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Bar licence for lodge

SMALL country town nightlife just got a bit groovier with a Kendenup accommodation site successfully obtaining a bar licence.

Kendenup resident Jane Robinson and her husband took over the reins of Kendenup Lodge and Cottages 18 months ago after the previous owners thought they did a better job of relief caretaker work than the employed caretaker.

Seeing their fellow townspeople driving past into Mt Barker and Albany for a meal on week- ends got the couple thinking and inspired them to revamp the lodge.

“We started cooking here on Friday and Saturday nights,” Ms Robinson said.

“We do things like chicken parmigiana, pizza, fish and chips… we’re by no means chefs but people seem to keep coming back!”

The obvious next step for the pair was to start serving alcoholic drinks.

“It used to be BYO and people would bring their drinks in and we thought, we’re missing out here,” Ms Robinson said.

“Or, they’d have a meal here and go away for drinks.

“Now we’ve got our small bar licence, people can come here for a drink and a meal.”

The bar was officially opened last fortnight but Ms Robinson said ironically it was one of their worst nights of trade.

“I think we had about three people here,” she laughed.

“But I think people didn’t know and it was bad weather – people don’t want to go out again once they’re home.

“So hopefully, now they know, they’ll come here.”

Ms Robinson said there wasn’t anything quite like being in the bar and dining area on a cool evening.

“We have the fire going and we turn down the lights and just have the lamps on, so it’s really cosy; a great atmosphere,” she said.

Coming into the warmer months, Ms Robinson hopes to host regular live bands and an outdoor cinema.

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Wood’s burning passion

WORLD leading burns specialist Fiona Wood will take to the podium at the Albany Entertainment Centre next week as part of the Great Southern Speaker Series.

The 2003 and 2004 Western Australian of the Year and 2005 Australian of the Year is best known for her work in cell-based therapy and her invention of the ‘spray-on skin’ technique known as Re-cell which greatly reduces permanent scarring in burns victims.

Professor Wood spoke with the Weekender about gender diversity in the fields of science and medicine, her career and hopes for the future and the relevance of her work for regional Australia.

“Like many things in life, if you believe you can do something you will do it,” Ms Wood began.

“As a society we need to think about facilitating people to be the best they can be and that means instead of saying girls don’t do something, encouraging them to have a go.”

The current board member of the Fiona Wood Foundation commenced her medical career at St Thomas Hospital Medical School in London where she was immediately drawn to plastic surgery.

She moved to Australia in 1987 and four years later became Director of the Burns Service of Western Australia and began training as Western Australia’s first female plastic surgeon.

“That was a long time ago, we’ve got lots of plastic surgeons who are female now,” she said.

“While today you can still go into an engineering lecture and it’s predominantly male, that is changing and slowly we’ll get there.

“Surgery should be a career for people, whether you’re male or female, and it should be facilitating those who have the capacity, the interest, the skill and the intellect to do it.”

Professor Wood was thrust into the national spotlight in October 2002 when the largest numbers of survivors from the Bali bombings were transported to Royal Perth Hospital.

She would go onto save a total 28 patients, some of whom had burns covering 92 per cent of their body, deadly infections and delayed shocks.

“It’s been my focus to try and reduce the suffering [from burn injuries], not just in that painful early stage but across life.

“In the last 30 years there’s been a huge drive to shift the paradigm from survival to the quality of survival. We’ve done a lot of work in cell-based therapy, scar minimisation, and exercise as a tool to reduce the profound muscle wasting and long- term impact burn injuries can have.”

Professor Wood said she expected further significant advancements in the next 30 years and pointed to the potential of harnessing the “systems biology approach” to tailor treatment to each individual.

She said this “precision medicine route” would involve taking into account things such as a person’s genetics, past history and all of their body systems to ensure they have the best outcome.

According to Professor Wood, the field of burns medicine is particularly relevant to communities in regional Australia.

She said the great distances between towns in rural and remote areas rendered people especially vulnerable to the short-term and long-term effects of burn injuries.

“Every intervention from the point of injury will influence the scar worn for life. Therefore the first aid, what’s done in the community, sets you up for success or not,” she said.

“We understand that vulnerability and since the 1990s have focused on education and organising travelling roadshows around WA.

“We also have a very vibrant Telehealth system that involves video links [with doctors and specialists] and photograph review over time.”

City of Albany Executive Director of Community Services Susan Kay said 57 people were hospitalised with burn injuries in Albany between 2012 and 2016.

“Professor Wood’s work in advancing the treatment of burns has helped revolutionise the care of burns patients in hospitals across Australia and enabled the majority of patients to return to a normal life,” she said.

“Her spray-on skin invention has helped to treat more than 1000 patients around the world.

“We’re very pleased to be hosting Professor Wood as part of National Science Week to share some of her knowledge and experiences with the Albany community.”

Professor Wood’s special presentation will take place at Albany Entertainment Centre at 5:30pm on August 15.

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Dying bill needs dignified debate

WA PREMIER Mark McGowan has called for a respectful, factual and dignified debate when the new Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill is considered by Parliament before a conscience vote later this year.

The 109-page Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was released on Tuesday and details strict measures to assess a person’s decision-making capacity and eligibility for voluntary assisted dying, how to request access to voluntary assisted dying, the supply, administration and disposal of voluntary assisted dying substances, and the penalties for misused, incorrect or unauthorised voluntary assisted dying administration and procedures.

If passed, the Bill would make WA the second state in the country to legalise voluntary assisted dying.

Victoria passed legislation in 2017.

WA State Minister for Health Roger Cook explained that a person requesting a voluntary assisted death must be over 18 years of age, an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and have been a resident of WA for at least one year.

The person would need to have a disease, illness or medical condition that is advanced, progressive and will on the balance of probabilities, cause death within six months, or 12 months if it is a neurodegenerative condition.

The condition would also need to be causing suffering to the person that cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable.

“The government has weighed up the Ministerial Expert Panel’s recommendations and the advice of other key stakeholders to draft safe and compassionate Western Australian appropriate legislation which is in step with prevailing community views,” Mr Cook said.

“This has been a comprehensive process which included the biggest community consultation ever undertaken by the WA Health Department.

“It has resulted in safe, fully informed and workable legislation and I look forward to the upcoming legislative debate.”

Mr McGowan hopes to pass the Bill through Parliament by the end of the year.

“I know there will be people who try to scare people about this issue, but it is essentially an act of kindness and compassion for people who are terminally ill and in pain,” he said.

“Many people across the community who have had their parents or loved ones pass away in agony want something done, and that’s what this is about.”

If the Bill passes, it is anticipated there would be an 18-month implementation phase before it would take effect.

The full Bill can be viewed online at health.wa.gov.au/voluntaryassisteddying

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