Go ‘bananas’ to lift fresh food intake

GREAT Southern residents are being challenged to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables throughout September after a national survey discovered only five per cent of Australians met their daily quota.

As part of the LiveLighter Fruit&Veg September Challenge, the Cancer Council WA and the Albany Farmers Market are joining forces to encourage Albany locals to incorporate more fresh produce into their diets.

Albany Farmers Market Coordinator Ruth Speldewinde said bringing more local produce into people’s cooking not only provides essential health benefits, but also supports the local economy in a meaningful way.

“By supporting the producers you’re keeping the local economy boosted up and that allows the farmers to keep bringing that fresh produce back to the market,” she said.

“It’s made a big difference for local producers. They are an absolute wealth of information when it comes to their own produce.

“They can give people lots of tips on what’s in season, how to cook and prepare it and that sort of thing, and it also has encouraged the producers to become really invested in offering a great range to the customer.

“So, the more we support it, the more opportunity we give producers to bring back something different.”

Ms Speldewinde said if more people visited their local market, concerning statistics around Australians daily fruit and veg intake would slowly turn around.

“I think one of the reasons why people don’t eat enough fruit or veg is because of the convenience of fast food and pre-prepared foods, but also a lot of the fruit and veg you buy in the supermarket is not of the same quality that you would find at the market,” she said.

“I think people discover the taste of fruit and vegetables again when they buy such fresh produce.

“We’re just about to hit strawberry season again and people are so excited for those local strawberries to arrive because they just taste so much better than the little ones you get at the supermarket.”

Cancer Council WA’s Great Southern Regional Education Officer Bruce Beamish said the Fruit&Veg September Challenge is designed to make increasing the consumption of healthy foods more fun and accessible.

“In celebration of Fruit&Veg month, and to help Great Southern residents to eat more colour throughout September, we’ve created a handy downloadable Fruit&Veg challenge card,” he said.

“It has 12 fruit and veg challenges spread out over the month, plus plenty of tips and fun facts to check out between challenge days.

“Once downloaded, simply click the links in the boxes to access additional information, resources and recipes.

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Upgrade for pool first since 1971

A REDEVELOPMENT of the Mount Barker swimming pool has taken a big stroke forward after the Shire of Plantagenet voted to progress with the first phase of a $7 million project.

Stage 1A, which will cost $1.7 million, is scheduled to begin in March next year and involve the construction of a new main building that boasts a club room, change rooms, kiosk and admin area.

Designed by H+H Architects, Stage 1B includes plans to refurbish the existing 50m pool to modern standards and build a new splash area for young swimmers to learn their craft.

The final piece of the puzzle, Stage 2, will see the construction of a new western wing for the 39-year old facility, featuring a hydrotherapy pool, gym, change rooms and cafe.

Stage 1B is estimated to cost $2.8 million, while Stage 2 is valued at $2.5 million.

Shire of Plantagenet Executive Manager of Strategic Development Andrus Budrikis said the project would be the pool’s first substantial upgrade since it opened in 1971.

“The current gravity sand filter system does not deliver water at a sufficient volume to meet current regulations,” he said.

“This will be replaced by a pressurised system. The current splash pool is not adequate and does not cater as a learn-to-swim pool.

“The existing change rooms and toilets have reached their use by date and also do not provide sufficient facilities to meet current standards.”

The multi-million dollar project has been in the pipeline for almost three years after the Shire assessed the condition of the pool in 2017 and found filtration systems needed replacing.

A feasibility study was completed earlier this year, with Council voting to take the opportunity to do more than a simple filter change.

The Shire’s Recreation Advisory Committee worked with Mount Barker Swimming Club on the finer details of the design.

The committee voted to adopt solar heating as the heat source for the pools.

Mr Budrikis said the Shire would seek funding for Stage 1A by lodging a Community Sporting Recreation Facilities grant application this week.

“The Shire has also allocated $600,000 of the Federal Drought Communities Fund Extension to the pool redevelopment,” he said.

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Creative approach needed to entice workers

GREAT Southern business chambers have welcomed a new State Government advertising campaign which aims to attract more workers into the regions but say more needs to be done to address widespread labour shortages.

This time of year, young Western Australians would usually be travelling overseas gaining life experience in places like Europe and Asia.

But with international trips off the cards, the Government is encouraging school leavers or university graduates to backpack and work locally instead.

Leveraging off its ‘Wander Out Yonder’ intrastate tourism campaign, the Government’s ‘Work and Wander out Yonder’ initiative hopes to plug labour gaps in the farming, tourism and hospitality sectors.

Denmark Chamber of Commerce CEO Sumer Addy said local operators were struggling to keep up with booming tourist numbers because casual workers were hard to find.

“We are generally slow and sleepy this time of year in Denmark, but that’s not true at the moment,” she said.

“Our accommodation operators are close to capacity and hospitality venues are pumping.”

It’s a similar story further east, with Albany Chamber of Commerce CEO Benita Cattalini saying the port city was experiencing labour shortages across most sectors.

“Albany has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation,” she said.

“I think we could do better to support these people to gain the skills and move them into the jobs our businesses require.”

While praising the Government’s advertising campaign, Ms Addy said the next step was to come up with some creative solutions.

“It’s going to take some imagination,” she said. “It’s a statewide conversation.

“Whether that be shifting people from north to south when the season changes, but it’s hard to know because we may have a capacity problem for the entire year.”

Ms Addy said the hospitality industry, for example, could look at offering more full-time roles rather than employing mostly casual workers.

“It could entice more people to take that leap,” she said.

“It gives them more job security.”

With a number of farmers crying out for more resources to assist the upcoming harvest, Shadow Minister for Regional Development Dr Steve Thomas called the ‘Work and Wander out Yonder’ campaign a second-rate response.

“This is just government spin – another government advertising campaign – and it will be a wonder if it works out yonder,” Dr Thomas said.

“I suppose we should be glad that the Labor Government has finally acknowledged that there is an impending crisis in the shortage of labour in the regions, but we have known this was coming for six months and an awareness campaign is no longer of value.”

In a media release, the Government said a regional worker incentive scheme would soon be finalised for the agriculture sector.

But Dr Thomas said the State should consider bringing in workers from Covid-safe countries as an immediate solution.

“Each of these measures is a small part of a much bigger issue, and the Government needs to look at all possible solutions, including making use of the Federal Government’s support for bringing in workers from Covid-safe places like the Pacific Islands, just like the re-elected Labor Government in the Northern Territory has done,” he said.

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WA: no to fee freeze

FARMERS and consumers alike could expect to feel a pinch after the State Government increased heavy vehicle registration charges this year.

The 2.5 per cent mark-up, payable as of July 10, follows as all other Australian states opted to freeze fees, sparking concern among the WA trucking community.

Owner of Southern Haulage Chris Pavlovich said the fee increase couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“From a Southern Haulage perspective, the licence fees in July have increased by 2.5 per cent, and we’ve just entered into a recession,” he said.

“The focus from our State Government has been to freeze municipal rates and freeze fees and charges. The industry is struggling to bear the cost increase of that 2.5 per cent.

“To our business alone, it will be over $20,000 a year and that arguably will be passed on to either primary producers or even consumers in increased costs of goods which is going to be tough in this present economic climate.”

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti justified the fee increase as WA is not part of the juris- diction of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), which agreed to the freeze but charges truckies from a higher base rate.

“The State Government announced a freeze on household fees and charges, including vehicle licence fees, on 16 March 2020,” she said.

“This freeze in charges does not apply to heavy vehicle motor vehicle licence fees, as they are not part of general household fees.

“In 2020-21, WA’s heavy vehicle industry would be paying about four per cent more in fees if the NHVR fee structure (despite the freeze) applied than it will be under the WA fee structure.”

Ms Saffioti added that WA’s licence fee revenue was an important money pool for further road safety projects and development.

“In WA, unlike other states in Australia, motor vehicle licence fee revenue is used to fund upgrades to roads and improve road safety, to the benefit of all road users,” she said.

Shadow Transport Minister Libby Mettam implored the State Government to reconsider the increase.

“The transport industry has been advocating against these fee hikes,” she said.

“We are the only state to have not agreed to freeze these fees and so I am urging the McGowan Government to rethink this cruel decision which is still resonating with industry.”

Mr Pavlovich echoed Ms Mettam’s request, citing the industry’s other current struggles as reason to put a hold on increased registration fees.

“[I would want] a discount in licensing fees by 2.5 per cent to fall in line with the rest of Australia in the present place in time,” he said.

“There’s been a downturn in woodchips, in potential export opportunities for wine, barley, meat, wool and other commodities.”

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Memorial ceremony for US submariners

LAST Friday saw current and former members of the Royal Australian Navy and the US Navy gather in Albany in remembrance of submariners who lost their lives during WWII.

The ceremony has been a feature of the Albany events calendar for more than 40 years, with the first memorial being held in Lawley Park in 1979.

This year, a small gathering met at the Princess Royal Fortress onFriday evening, timed to coincide with a port visit by one of Navy’s Collins Class Submarines, HMAS Farncomb.

Mayor Dennis Wellington said the ceremony has been an integral part of remembering Albany’s past.

“The US Submariners Memorial commemorates an important part of Albany’s military history, honouring the US submariners who died defending Australia during World War II and pays tribute to the 31 submarines that arrived in Albany from March until October of 1942,” he said.

“Keeping the remembrance of our ancestors who fought for Australia alive is vital to preserving our nation’s history and honouring the men and women who were caught in conflict and lost their lives defending our future.”

Mr Wellington said events like these will always be a staple for the city.

“Memorials connect us with the past, show appreciation for the lives we lead today and provide our servicemen with the respect and dignity they deserve,” he said.

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Annual vigil for suicide

FOLLOWING the over-whelming response to Albany’s first candlelight vigil for people who lost someone to suicide, the event will take place on September 10.

Coordinated by the Great Southern Suicide Prevention Advisory Group (GSSPAG), the organisation ask people to join them for the vigil that marks World Suicide Prevention Day.

The purpose of the event is to raise awareness, remember those lost to suicide and unite in a commitment to prevent further deaths by suicide.

Anyone touched by suicide is encouraged to attend the vigil.

It will include a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony, the lighting of candles in memory of loved ones lost, and a speech from a community member who will share her own experience of losing a close family member to suicide.

A report from the WA Country Health Service found that suicide was the leading cause of death in the Great Southern for 15-24-year-olds from 2011-15.

It also reported that the male youth suicide rate was significantly higher in the Great Southern than in the state.

Palmerston Suicide Prevention Coordinator Kristin Haefner said suicide prevention remains a universal challenge.

“Every life lost represents someone’s child, partner, parent, friend, or colleague,” she said.

“For each suicide approximately 135 people are profoundly impacted by their deaths.

“These are 135 unique experiences of grief, characterised by emotional pain, stigma, anger, loneliness, isolation and sometimes shame.

“The candlelight vigil acknowledges these experiences and creates a space that joins them together.

“Everyone can hear and feel another’s loss, no one needs to go through this alone. There is help.

“Joining together peacefully is critical to preventing suicide and reducing the stigma that is attached to it.”

Last year’s event attracted about 250 people with many travelling from regional towns.

Ms Haefner said that a lot of families affected by suicide attended together to show their unity and support.

GSSPAG was formed in 2018 and is a consortium of key government and non-government agencies, community members and people of lived experience of suicide in the Great Southern region of Western Australia.

Ms Haefner said as suicides and mental health issues are increasingly becoming a major health issue, GSSPAG endeavours to prevent life loss to suicides, promote community mental health literacy, resilience, capacity building and help-seeking behaviours.

The vigil is on September 10 from 6.30pm at the Albany Town Square.

Everyone is welcome, and there will be trained support people in attendance.

Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the suicide call back line on 1300 659 467.

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$15.2m revamp revealed

THE redesign of Mount Lockyer Primary School was revealed last week after a $15.2 million commitment to the school’s redevelopment from the Premier was made late last year.

Originally built in 1954, the school will see a host of changes which will be built on the existing oval.

The redevelopment includes general and specialist classrooms, a new ad- ministration building, an undercover assembly area, a redeveloped oval and play areas and a car park.

As well as these additions, a cluster of old classrooms will be refurbished.

Albany MLA Peter Watson said the improvement of local teaching facilities is essentially for the community and future families.

“Mount Lockyer Primary School has served the Albany community well for more than 60 years and this redevelopment will ensure it continues to do so in future,” he said.

Preparation works are underway and are scheduled to be completed in January 2021, with Albany business Roberts Gardiner Architects assigned as the lead consultant.

The new school is set to be ready for the start of the 2022 school year and will have permanent capacity for up to 648 students.

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Gypsy brewers awarded

BOUTIQUE Denmark producer Artisan Brewing has won a three-peat of trophies at the Perth Royal Beer Awards, taking out best European draught for the third year running.

Artisan’s Quad 2018, an 11 per cent Belgian quadrupel, beat entries from the likes of craft beer heavyweights Feral Brewing to win the coveted prize at last month’s awards.

The big Belgian brew, which is full of raisin and toffee flavours, continues to bring home the goods for owners Brian and Julia Fitzgerald, who compare their European-style beer to a fine wine.

“For us to call ourselves boutique brewers we need to be creating something unique because we don’t want to be like anyone else,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“Some people think beer doesn’t age, but it does if you brew the right types of beer. The barrel ageing allows us to have beers that have been in barrel for five years.”

One of the smallest brewing operations in WA, the Fitzgeralds refer to themselves as ‘gypsy brewers’ because their business model is to make beer in any space that will fit them.

For the past few years they’ve been honing their craft at Boston Brewery, often giving up their evenings and weekends to squeeze in production.

“Boston maintains the environment and we operate in it,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“It has worked really well. We collaborate and bounce ideas off each other.”

Artisan’s landlords also collected some silverware at the 2020 Perth Royal Beer awards.

Boston was awarded an outstanding seven gold medals and three trophies by the judges, who scored each beer on aroma, flavour, appearance, style and technical quality.

Working with different yeasts to make his Belgian ales, Mr Fitzgerald said craft brewing was a mix between the creative and the technical.

“Working with yeast is as much art as science,” he said.

“It is challenging, that’s why a lot of breweries don’t work with it. It’s live and develops over time. It’s a technically challenging style to brew.”

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Penalties rise: don’t text and drive

GREAT Southern drivers are just as bad as their city counterparts when it comes to using mobile phones behind the wheel, according to police.

The comments come as new penalties introduced on Tuesday mean WA road users could be slapped with a $1,000 fine and four demerit points if they are caught texting or browsing the internet.

Likening mobile phone offences to drink driving, District Superintendent Ian Clarke has called on Great Southern road users to change their attitudes.

“It’s just as bad in regional WA as it is in metro,” he said.

“Potentially it’s more dangerous because the speeds are higher. It’s just a crash waiting to happen.”

According to the State Government, almost 20 per cent of deaths on WA roads in 2019 were caused by distracted drivers.

In the past five years more than 77,000 drivers have been caught by WA Police using their mobile phones. But the WA Government is hoping increased penalties will make a difference.

Under a new infringement system, drivers caught holding or touching their phone to make a voice call face a $500 fine and three demerit points.

Drivers are only permitted to touch their phone while it is mounted in a cradle and only to accept or end a voice call.

Superintendent Clarke hopes the legislative changes will help make a societal change.

“It’s about people’s mindset and thinking the right way,” he said.

“Ultimately it’s like seatbelts and drink driving – as they become more socially unacceptable they tend to happen less and less.

“If you are in a car with one of your mates and they are using their mobile phone on the road, pull them up about it.”

An RAC survey released this week found 97 per cent of its members had seen other drivers distracted by the phones, while more than 33 per cent admitted to engaging in the behaviour themselves.

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Baesjou’s historic pre-selection win

BORN and bred Albany resident Delma Baesjou has become the first Western Australian to win a community pre-selection vote, with the town planner securing a nomination to run for the WA Nationals at the 2021 State Election.

In an American-style selection process, Albany voters were asked to head to the polling booths well ahead of the March election and choose their preferred Nationals candidate for the Seat of Albany.

After a six week campaign more than 500 people voted in the poll.

Up against Foodbank Albany Manager Rod Pfeiffer and Business Banker Darren Bennett, Ms Baesjou received more than 50 per cent of the primary vote.

“It was quite daunting, but I’m really pleased,” Ms Baesjou told the Weekender.

“The calibre of nominees was really strong. Either Rod or Darren would have been great candidates.”

All eyes now turn to the March State Election, where Ms Baesjou will face off against Liberal candidate Scott Leary and Labor’s Rebecca Stephens for a political victory in the port city.

The WA Greens are yet to announce a candidate.

Ms Baesjou, who ran for a seat on the City of Albany council in last year’s Local government elections, said Albany deserved a greater share of regional funding.

“Albany people are either disillusioned with the political process or there are too many career politicians,” she said.

“They want a strong voice and the Nationals offer that. There hasn’t been anyone out there fighting for Albany.

“Esperance and Katanning do, for example, get more funding because they have advocates in State Parliament. It’s Albany’s turn.”

Ms Baesjou said she traditionally hadn’t been aligned with any political party, but chose to run for the Nationals because an MP could act more independently.

“I’ve always had a bit of an interest in politics but never a strong affinity until now,” she said.

“The community pre-selection process was a big turning point for me.

“With the Nationals you are not obligated to follow party lines – they allow you to represent your electorate, that’s the main difference for me.”

Congratulating Ms Baesjou, WA Nationals Leader Mia Davies said the party would consider using the same pre-selection process elsewhere in future elections.

“It always takes courage to put your hand up to nominate for public office and on this occasion we asked them to participate in a process never before tried in Western Australia,” she said.

“Most importantly, the people of Albany were given the chance to select who they wanted to run for the Nationals WA and now have their local champion in the race for the seat ahead of 2021.”

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