One fatality is one too many

NINETEEN people lost their lives on Great Southern roads last year, despite a downward trend in road fatalities across the state.

Road Safety Commission figures show 16 motor vehicle occupants, one cyclist, and two pedestrians were killed in the region in the period leading to December 30, 2019.

This comes as Western Australia recorded a total 164 road deaths, seven less than the preceding five-year average of 171.

Eighteen road fatalities occurred in the Great Southern in 2018, 15 in 2017 and a significant 31 in 2016.

Road Safety Council Chairman Iain Cameron told the Weekender inattention and fatigue were major factors in road crashes, with around seven out of 10 serious accidents involving a mistake or lapse in concentration.

“Road trauma is estimated to have cost Western Australia $20 billion over the past decade but the effect of just one death on family, loved ones, friends and the general community is incalculable,” he said.

“Even good drivers make mistakes and it is not just high risk behaviour such as speeding or drink and drug driving that can cause crashes.

“It is up to every road user to do their part to ensure we are all safe on the roads.”

According to the RAC, roughly 60 per cent of WA road fatalities occur on regional roads.

The organisation’s General Manager of Corporate Affairs Will Golsby called for the State Government’s Regional Road Safety Package to be fully funded in the 2020/21 State and Federal Budgets.

The $900m road improvement initiative aims to accelerate road upgrades to more than 17,000km of WA’s regional road networks.

“Our regional communities are hurting – just 20 per cent of WA’s population live in our regional areas yet this is where most of our fatalities occur,” Mr Golsby said.

“These low-cost road improvements would reduce road trauma by an unprecedented 60 per cent and prevent more than 2,100 serious crashes from occurring in the next decade.”

The nine-year initiative would not immediately target Great Southern routes, instead first focusing on improvements along the Great Eastern Highway, the Great Northern High- way, the South Western Highway and the North West Coastal Highway.

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Edward floats his boat

NO ONE looks more at home than Edward Saffrey when he’s lakeside steering his handmade model tug boat through the gently lapping water.

Decked out in his bucket hat and welly boots and seated in his trusty fold-out chair, the Albany man looks the absolute picture of peaceful retirement.

He kindly shared his collection of handmade model boats and his customised model yacht with the Weekender and even let one journalist take a boat for a spin.

Mr Saffrey got his first model boat when he was just four-years-old, gifted to him by his father when they lived in Sri Lanka.

It is a pond yacht – it has no remote control or motor.

It simply had to be pushed from one side of the lake to the other and a young Mr Saffrey had an absolute ball playing with it.

“It was built around the war time, in the early 1940s,” Mr Saffrey said.

“I think that’s where my interest in model boats started.”

He’s since refurbished it and the boat looks as good as new.

He built one of his first boats in 1967.

It used to have a two-stroke combustion engine but with the growing popularity of electrics, he’s upgraded it now to modern tech.

Mr Saffrey’s latest two projects – one he started 20 years ago and finished just three years ago, and the other completed recently in just seven months – were more difficult builds, intertwining more modern technology and intricate craftsmanship.

But Mr Saffrey loves the challenge and the chance to revisit and reuse past inventory, as he and his wife used to operate Hobbytronics in Albany.

“I like the intricacy of it,” he said, taking a closer look at his tug boat.

“After school, I wanted to do boat building, but the place my father found in Fremantle ended up closing down, so he found me an apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery instead.

“So learning how to do it really came from the desire to want to build them, and then I picked up the skills.”

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Water meet in pipeline

DENMARK residents will have a chance to have their say about a proposed water pipeline from Albany to Denmark during a Shire-hosted community meet later this month.

Water Minister Dave Kelly and Member for Warren-Blackwood Terry Redman will attend the January 28 consultation, more than four months after the Shire requested they visit to discuss the town’s long-term water security.

Mr Kelly has faced criticism for postponing a meeting originally scheduled for December 10 and for announcing the $32m pipeline project without first consulting the Shire and the City of Albany (‘Kelly transparent on water meeting’, 12 December).

Denmark Shire Acting CEO David Schober, who previously expressed disappointment at the delay, said the new meeting date was locked in in late December.

“We have enjoyed some discussions with the Water Corporation as a result of this request to the Minister’s Office,” he said.

“The Department of Water and Water Corp will both be present for this meeting.”

The Albany to Denmark pipeline is expected to be roughly 60km long and will begin construction sometime this year.

It was announced last September alongside a raft of Stage 5 water restrictions for Denmark and after the town’s primary water source, the Quickup Dam, looked to receive its lowest stream flow ever.

“Like many parts in the south-west of Western Australia, Denmark simply doesn’t receive the amount of rain that it used to due to the very real impact of climate change,” Mr Kelly said at the time.

“Denmark’s water supply is solely reliant on rainfall. If we don’t act now, Denmark could run out of water before next winter.”

As of January 3, the Quickup Dam measured just below 70 per cent capacity.

The upcoming consultation may also address other potential water saving strategies, including rainwater harvesting, water catchment and dam expansion and a desalination plant.

It will take place at the Riverside Club at 3 Morgan Road from 6pm on January 28, with residents urged to submit their RSVP and questions to the Shire by January 21.

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Stampede comes to a grinding halt

ALBANY’S annual Kalgan Stampede rodeo will not be going ahead this summer after efforts to find it a new operator last year proved unsuccessful.

Coordinator Tom Kennedy approached a Perth-based company to take the reins in July after the endeavour became too much of a burden for him to bear on his own.

He said while plans to get the rodeo up and running just after Boxing Day fell through, he had hope a local crew with a strong volunteer base would step forward to coordinate future iterations.

“We thought we’d be better off waiting a year, revising, observing the tourists and gaining a better understanding of when is a good time to try and run it, ” Mr Kennedy told the Weekender.

“I don’t want to stress out my family, to pour our hearts and souls into the rodeo over Christmas and the new year, and then find we only get half the amount of people and owe $20,000 plus to local businesses at the end of it.”

Mr Kennedy has been running the Kalgan Stampede, which features barrel racing, calf steering, mustering and other activities, since its three-day debut in 2018.

He said poor ticket sales at its early 2019 run were the result of a list of challenges somewhat unique to Albany.

“We need to rely on the tourists to come to the event because the locals either don’t want to go, don’t know that it’s on or would rather sit at home and watch something on Netflix,” he explained.

“But you can’t afford to clash with anyone else’s events. If it isn’t a rodeo, it’s another event like horse racing, speedway or the City of Albany’s Australia Day celebrations at Middleton.”

“There’s many boxes you’ve got to tick through government departments, regulations, all the different insurance issues.

“It’s a lot tricker to run events nowadays than it was back in the ’70s and ’80s.”

Mr Kennedy also helms Albany Tenpin Bowling and used to operate the town’s Central 70 Drive-In which officially closed last April.

He said a rodeo had a lot to offer a community like Albany because it promoted rural lifestyle skills like mustering and horse activities and was a drawcard for visitors.

“It’s the excitement, the power, the speed, the adrenaline rush,” he said.

“The bulls are the main attraction, they are the absolute superstars of the arena.”

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Posting a half century

DENMARK postal worker David Wilson reached a career milestone going into the new year.

Mr Wilson celebrated 50 years working for Australia Post – a career that saw him work and live in eight different towns and cities.

The 65-year-old caught up with the Weekender this week as he commenced 12 months of long service leave ahead of retirement.

Mr Wilson’s first experience with the postal service was when he was just 14 – he performed relief postman work in his hometown of Yarloop during the school holidays.

“There was no break for me,” Mr Wilson laughed.

“The school term ended and I went straight to work.”

He scored himself a permanent job working in Bridgetown a few months later and as he got older, was chosen to work the night telephone duty.

This made Mr Wilson responsible for the telephone exchange between 10pm and 7am.

Over the course of time, he was a postman in Pemberton, again in Yarloop, Waroona, Perth, Mandurah and Bunbury.

Mr Wilson signed off as a postman in 1978 and began working inside the post office behind the counter.

He moved to Denmark 10 years later with his family to work at the town’s post office and never looked back.

“They’re a good mob to work for, they look after you,” Mr Wilson said of Australia Post.

“It’s also a great way to get to know people.”

Australia Post State General Manager for WA Donna Vecchio congratulated Mr Wilson on his achievement.

“It is with great pride that we acknowledge and sincerely thank David for his 50 years of service with Australia Post,” she said.

“David has worked in many communities across the South-West of Western Australia over the years and has been a part of the fabric of Denmark Post Office since 1988.

“We whole-heartedly congratulate David on this remarkable milestone.”

Now that Mr Wilson has called it a day on his working life, he is looking forward to the many adventures retirement can hold.

“I’d like to do the lap, of course,” he said.

“And I’m heading to Japan in September with my seven brothers and their wives, and I’m taking my daughter, so that should be interesting.”

Bowls in the summertime and more fishing are also on the cards for Mr Wilson’s golden years.

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Protect yourself from pesky insects

ALBANY residents are being urged to protect themselves from mosquitos this summer to prevent the spread of debilitating mosquito-borne diseases.

The City of Albany launched its Fight the Bite campaign last week to encourage locals to cover up, use repellent and clean up areas around their homes that would help mosquitoes breed.

The pesky insects deposit their larvae in stagnant pools of water, domestic ponds, roof gutters, septic and water tanks, old car tyres, pot-plant drip trays, open containers and other hiding spots during warm weather.

They spread diseases such as Ross River virus, which can cause inflammation, pain, fatigue and muscle aches from several weeks to up to a year.

Manager of Public Health and Safety Scott Reitsema said citizen support was an essential part of controlling mosquito populations.

“We get great results from the management plan we implement each year, but it’s important that residents take some responsibility too. By supporting our baiting efforts we can try to get the best outcome for everyone,” he said.

“It’s also important we guard ourselves and our families from being bitten and potentially getting sick. Wearing long sleeved shirts and pants when out and about, as well as wearing lighter coloured clothing can help to deter them.

“Using insect repellents when possible and cleaning up around the yard are all important steps in the management of mosquitoes; it doesn’t take a big water pool for mosquitoes to decide they want to make it their home.”

The Great Southern saw a significant spike in Ross River virus cases in early 2017 following record rainfall and flooding across the state.

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Lions and Salvos combat hunger

ALBANY South Coast Lions Club and the Salvation Army have joined forces once again this Christmas to provide for Great Southern families doing it rough.

The Albany branch of the Salvation Army accepted 100 Christmas cakes from the Lions Club earlier this month to help create food hampers for those in the community who cannot afford to prepare their own Christmas luncheon.

Salvation Army Auxiliary Lieutenant Colette Albino said the delicious treats would go alongside other crucial Christmas foodstuff and goodies.

“This year we’ll be putting together 125 of these hampers,” she said.

“We’ll try and put in a ham along with some drinks, vegetables and pretty much everything you would go out and purchase by yourself for a Christmas lunch.

“We really want people to be able to create a tradition for themselves.”

Lions Club President Lindsay Smith said the community organisation had donated hundreds of Christmas cakes to the Salvation Army over the past eight years.

“It’s a real privilege for our club to help out with this initiative,” he said.

Those wanting to make their own donations can go to any number of Christmas Cheer Appeal boxes around Albany, including at any local Woolworths store, Icky Finks, Officeworks, IGA on York Street, Mason Realty on York Street and Albany Stationers.

Kmart’s Wishing Tree also takes donations for the Salvation Army.

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Community group investigates fires

THE Denmark Environment Centre (DEC) has formed a community working group to investigate fire safety in response to public concern.

The newly formed Denmark Community Fire Safety and Ecology Group is to investigate all aspects of the south coast’s prescribed burning regimen by both the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and local government.

DEC convenor David Rastrick said all those interested in working with the group are welcome to join.

“While community safety is non-negotiable, fire safety goes hand in hand with keeping the bush in good condition,” he said.

DEC deputy convenor Geoff Evans said the group was responding to concerns that the community had indicated it would like more information given Western Australia had one of the “largest dryer weather prescribed burning program in the world”.

“Forming the group is consistent with our vision to nurture a sustainable community that has a high level of environmental conscious- ness and proactively protects its environment,” he said.

Mr Rastrick said a significant concern for the DEC was the environmental impacts on flora, fauna and soil ecology in the short and long term.

“Associated with this is the impact on climate change,” he said.

“The investigation is not, however, about prioritising ecology over the protection of people and property.

“As part of this, the DEC group is aware of conflicting reports that prescribed burning either makes future wildfire suppression easier, or in fact makes it worse in many cases. And, concerns arise that the huge commitment of resources to prescribed burning may be to the detriment of rapid effective wildfire suppression response.”

Mr Rastrick said the group would be questioning if Denmark is safer for the prescribed burning regime that occurs and if it justifies any environmental damage made in the process.

“This in turn leads to concern for the future,” he said.

“Does a drying south coast with a longer bushfire season due to climate change mean that prescribed burning must be expanded to deal with increased wildfire risk, or does prescribed burning become riskier to the public in itself?”

Mr Rastrick said one of the areas the group had begun to focus on was recent prescribed burns near Mount Lindesay this year and in 2017 and the impacts made on community health and safety, as well as that of the native flora and fauna.

“After being affected by smoke from prescribed burns near Mount Lindesay in 2017 and recently, community members may soon again experience the smoke and ash of a prescribed burn at Mount Leay to the north of Denmark,” he said.

“The recent 8000 sq ha prescribed in the Mount Lindesay using a relatively new technique of helicopter bombing much of the periphery of the block then pattern bombing through the smoke – decimated much of the area, rather than proportionately reducing fuel load.”

Mr Rastrick said despite a collaborative study made by the DEC and DBCA on the vulnerability of tingle trees to fire, the DBCA had still initiated a prescribed burn west of Walpole.

“We want to hear from as many community members as possible,” he said.

“Residents and experts all hold valuable insight into how fire af- fects our communities and bush land, and we all want out families, communities and home to be safe while valuing our environment.”

For more information or to enquire about joining the Denmark Community Fire Safety and Ecology Group contact the Denmark Environment Centre on 0438 957 504.

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Oncology unit a step closer

THE radiation oncology service that had State funding secured in March this year is a step closer to completion with a site for the new specialised bunker identified in Albany and design planning underway.

Earlier this year the State Government announced that $13.1 million intended for the Albany Wave Energy project would be relocated to help pay for a new radiotherapy oncology unit at the Albany Health Campus.

The new oncology service will provide treatment closer to home for suitable cancer patients in the Great Southern region.

Minister for Health Roger Cook said the McGowan Government had invested the funds in the project to provide the Albany Health Campus with the infrastructure to deliver radiation oncology services.

So far in the project the WA Country Health Service has completed the concept brief, feasibility study and business case, chosen the site for the Linac Suite, appointed a lead consultant and commenced the design and development phase.

The Linac Suite, a specialised bunker, will be located within the Cancer Centre at Albany Health Campus.

The suite will deliver radiation oncology services using high energy x-rays which destroy cancer cells while sparing the surrounding tissue.

Member for Albany Peter Watson said the service would provide patients the opportunity to stay at home with family and friends rather than travel to Perth for treatment.

“With the Great Southern population due to grow by more than seven per cent in the next decade, services like these will be in more demand,” he said.

“With the site for the new Linac Suite in the hospital chosen and the planning well underway, cancer patients in the Great Southern can be assured of receiving this new life saving service as soon as practically possible.”

Construction for the bunker will take around 12 months after planning is completed with the service anticipated to be operational in early 2022.

The estimated demand on radiation oncology services in the Great Southern is anticipated to increase from around 4000 cases in 2016-17 to more than 6000 by 2030-31.

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Carols to change venue

ALBANY’S annual Christmas sing-along event is back this year in a new venue and organisers are excited to get the show on the road for this weekend.

The 67th Apex Carols by Candlelight at Ellen Cove was cancelled last year due to strong winds and threatening weather, so this year will again be the 67th event.

The Carols will be held at Alison Hartman Gardens this year instead of at Ellen Cove as earthworks currently underway at Middleton Beach are taking up most of the space.

Apex Albany’s Brendon Bailey said the December 21 family-friendly event would commence at 7pm and Santa would arrive at approximately 8.15pm.

A sausage sizzle and tea and coffee will be available to people also; Mr Bailey encouraged people to come down around 6.30pm to get a spot on the grass and a bite to eat before the Carols begins.

“The Apex Club feels that this is an important tradition to keep alive as it promotes community involvement and good spirit for the Christmas period,” he said.

“We have a group of local musicians and singers, including soloists Karlie Butler and Emma Davis with Findlay Macnish on the keyboard, who has been supporting the event for more than 20 years.”

Inside Thursday’s copy of the Weekender is the special Carols by Candlelight booklet, containing all the information you need to know about the evening plus the lyrics of the carols that will be sung.

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