No MRI until mid-March

ALBANY’S first and only MRI machine is currently on lockdown after an internal water leak at Albany Health Campus.

All appointments have been cancelled and rescheduled, with patients either being sent to receive a CT scan in its place, or being asked to travel to Perth for a bulk- billed MRI.

Great Southern Radiology CEO Glen Marshall said he was alerted to the issue on Saturday.

“I just got the phone call on Saturday morning to say that there was water in our MRI room which is quite strange,” he said.

“Our technicians flew down on Sunday from Perth, they’ve been here up until lunch time today and they’ve checked out the machine.

“The [MRI] is fully operational, so that’s a fantastic outcome for the machine.”

Despite the good news for the expensive piece of tech, it’s structural damage to the room itself that has halted all use of the MRI.

“Because it’s such a technical piece of equipment it actually lives inside a copper room,” Mr Marshall said.

“So now what we need to do is to test the integrity of that copper room, because what’s happened is the water has flooded and effected the floorboards, they’ve stretched and that’s stretched the copper casing, and we now need to make sure it hasn’t separated anywhere.”

The copper casing is an essential aspect of the room as it prevents an excessive amount of electromagnetic radiation from distorting the MR signal.

It also stops the electromagnetic radiation generated by the MR scanner from causing interference in other nearby medical devices.

Great Southern Radiology conducts approximately 10 to 12 MRI scans per day, with around 100 appointments expected to be impacted.

A spokeswoman for WA Country Health Service confirmed the water leak, and advised that the equipment will be examined.

“In line with the WA Country Health Service’s (WACHS) unwavering commitment to patient safety, all technology housed within the area will now undergo a safety review,” she said.

“This includes the facility’s MRI machine.

“In the interim, WACHS is providing alternative imaging pathways for patients and working with Great Southern Radiology where appropriate noting there are currently no urgent cases waitlisted for an MRI.”

While all appointments are being diverted and rescheduled, the loss of the machine comes after years of campaigning, petitioning and bipartisan and community support to get the device to Albany in the first place.

Mr Marshall said the installation of the machine in 2014 was a step in the right direction for health in the Great Southern.

“It was a real win for Albany,” he said.

But as a $2m piece of machinery, it’s likely to be the only MRI in Albany for a while yet.

“It’s the unfortunate problem of living in a regional town.

“Occasionally equipment is affected and we need to make best use of what we’ve got.

“We’ve had no major issues before this at all.”

Appointments with Great Southern Radiology are estimated to be running again in mid-March.

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Museum unveils mask exhibition

MUSEUM visitors have the chance to learn more about what happens behind and in front of the masks of Torres Strait culture at a new exhibition at the Museum of the Great Southern.

Evolution: Torres Strait Masks opened last weekend and will remain in Albany until May 3.

The Weekender caught up with artists Milton Savage and Kapua Gutchen Snr while they were in town for the grand opening to learn more about the significance of the masks and mask making within the Zenadh Kes Torres Strait culture.

“This is a replica of an ancestral mask that would have been worn for a seasonal performance,” Savage explained.

“They would dance over four days with the westerly wind … about survival and understanding the natural world.

“It’s quite a heartfelt thing; I wish my grandfather could have taught it to me.”

Savage said these types of rituals have almost been completely lost within his community, as European colonisers forbade they be performed after British administrative control began in the Torres Strait in the mid 1800s.

He said making these masks gave him the opportunity to connect with his ancestors and gave him their strength and knowledge.

At first, Savage felt confusion regarding how to craft the masks and when to make them – he was trying to make them during the day.

After connecting with his ancestors, he learned that 3am was the best time to make them and from there, everything “fell together”.

“To embrace culture is a gift,” Savage added.

Cygnet Repu from the Torres Strait Regional Authority said Evolution: Torres Strait Masks was important in closing the gap between different people and cultures, where language could not.

“It links outsiders to insiders,” he said.

“For so long, people have thought these masks were worn in only times of war, but they are also worn for love – there’s a lot more explanation with this exhibition.

“It lets us tell two stories – from behind the mask, and from the outside, looking at the mask.”

The exhibition is free to enter.

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Moscow Ballet to perform

ALBANY is the fourth stop on The Moscow Ballet’s Australian tour of fairytale classic Sleeping Beauty.

The internationally acclaimed company will first stop in Perth, Bunbury and Geraldton before heading to the Albany Entertainment Centre on March 13.

Moscow Ballet Choreographer and former Principal Dancer Andrey Lyapin told the Weekender that Sleeping Beauty was not an easy ballet to prepare, but when it was done well, it was very successful.

“It’s one of the best stories for kids and one of the best options for classical ballet,” he said.

“It is a light story, will make you laugh, and the music is very beautiful.

“It’s very beautiful too with many decorations and costumes.”

Lyapin joined the Moscow Ballet after graduating the Uzbek Ballet School in 1996.

He performed as a leading soloist in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Coppelia and Romeo and Juliet.

Tickets to the Albany performance of The Moscow Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty are on sale now and can be purchased online at albanyentertainment.com. au or at the AEC’s box office on Toll Place.

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New gallery welcomes exhibitors

A NEW gallery space designed for abstract artists and performers to showcase their skills and work in is now open in Mount Barker.

Resident artists and coordinators of the venue Barry Mackie, Joanne Francis and Melaine McQuillan opened the doors to 26/2 a couple of weeks ago.

The aim of 26/2 is to provide artists who do not practise traditional art forms the opportunity to exhibit their creations with other likeminded artists.

Mackie said as long as the artist’s work fit the contemporary art bill, it was welcome at 26/2.

“There are lots of galleries for more traditional art, and we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but we just think there is ample room for something different,” he said.

“We want to encourage the conversation that it doesn’t have to be traditional, real life or representational art.”

A group of Perth artists has already secured the venue – which is divided into three galleries – to exhibit at Easter.

Mackie and McQuillan are eager for more artists to approach them about hiring the venue.

“We are particularly interested in art that tells a narrative,” McQuillan added.

“And we are very keen for installation art, musicians, performing arts, workshops and art talks.”

The works of Duncan Moon, Mackie, Judith Clarke, Trevor Woodward, Christine Baker, Michelle Stanley, McQuillan, Wayne Coleman, Francis and Linda Morrison are currently on show at 26/2 until the end of the month.

If you are interested in exhibiting at the new venue on Langton Road, you can reach the coordinators through the Facebook page – 26/2 Contemporary Exhibition Venue – or by emailing barry.mackie@bigpond.com

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Art concept a 10

AN EXHIBITION reflecting the very venue it has been installed in is now open to the public.

Navigate by Albany art group MIX is now on within the foyer of the Albany Entertainment Centre.

It is part of the centre’s Ten in Ten program, a concept that will see 10 visual art exhibitions exhibit within the AEC environment over 10 months to help celebrate its 10th birthday.

Navigate is a progressive exhibition and will see more pieces added to it over the next couple of months.

Lizzie Riley and Barbara Madden are some of the first artists to exhibit in the space with their photography and installation art.

Madden is displaying her photos of the entertainment centre blended with images of granite on backlit transparency film and lightboxes.

“The AEC is strongly embedded in Albany’s granite landscape,” she said.

“My work draws attention to the building’s crystal-like structure and its granite environment … using images with strong reflections is a reference to twinned feldspar crystals, a component of local granite.”

Riley’s installation is a series of delicately interwoven twigs and the ends of peppermint trees.

It hangs from the interior balcony, above the main foyer.

“It looks at what was here before the AEC,” she said.

“This area would have been covered in peppermint trees.

“I was looking at the connections between the natural world and construction, and the complexity of breaking the natural system … the piece is very fragile and full of holes, to show that once you start to pull apart the environment, you can’t put it back together again.”

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Students win scholarships

THREE Boyup Brook teenagers aspiring to attend the WA College of Agriculture in Denmark have each received $1000 to help make their dreams come true.

Roreigh Curran-Jones, Josh Coole and Georgia Dalton were the successful recipients of scholarships from Rylington Park Research & Training.

The students met the criteria of living within the Shire of Boyup Brook, put forward a compelling case outlining their desire to attend an agricultural school and performed well at an interview with a panel from Rylington Park Management Committee.

WA College of Agriculture Denmark Principal Kevin Osborne said he was thrilled the three students chose his school.

“We strive to encourage our students to take part in study streams that matter to them and gain knowledge and skills that they can take with them into every-day life when they graduate,” he said.

“I have no doubt that Georgia, Roreigh and Josh will be able to take back to their communities a wealth of learning during their time here.”

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Mum’s the word in new production

MUMS are the centrepiece of a new performance work currently based at Vancouver Arts Centre.

Perth-based company Whiskey & Boots created Mama Stitch two years ago as a way for people to talk about their mothers.

Performer Georgia King said people often had

complicated relationships with their mothers, so she thought it was a good place to “mine” for a performance idea.

Mama Stitch utilises storytelling, verbatim performance and music to re-tell tales about mums the company has collected from various people in the Albany community.

“Mums are often the unsung heroes of regional communities,” King said.

“They influence you in all kinds of ways.

“They [stories] are so amazingly emotional, and we want to set them free.”

in Albany was that stories were often about resilience.

To remain authentic to those stories, she and the other three performers “get out of the way” to present each tale.

Original music accompanies the telling of each individual story.

“It’s a powerful thing, seeing and listening to a story being reflected back,” King said.

“It’s like a window into that person.

“It’s palpable, the emotions felt during the performance.”

Mama Stitch will play at Vancouver Arts Centre tonight, tomorrow and Saturday, and March 5, 6 and 7.

Doors open at 6pm for a 6.30pm start.

Tickets can be purchased at trybooking.com

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Dining in style for Sailability

GREAT Southern locals are being encouraged to dress up in their finest white attire this Sunday in support of a sailing club’s disability program.

Sailability is an initiative that aims to get people of all abilities into sailing through specialised equipment and experienced support.

Now in its third year, the annual Le Dejenur en Blanc – white picnic for the non-French speaking linguists – is an afternoon of picnicking that raises funds for Princess Royal Sailing Club’s (PRSC) Sailability program.

Held on picture-perfect parkland right next to the sailing club, attendees are asked to setup their own picnic spread and let the good times roll as local musicians entertain.

Gracing the stage will be the Albany Pipe Band, Phil and Plune, Shanty Lilies, Mike Hyder and David Rastrick.

Raising almost $7000 since the event first started in 2018, organiser Georgie Walker is hoping for another strong turn out on Sunday.

“We’ve got a coffee van this year,” she said.

“People have asked me about having add-ons, but I feel it’s enough to ask them to bring everything.”

There’s also a prize for best looking table, with the winner banking dinner for four at Lime 303.

“Some of the ideas are fantastic,” Ms Walker said.

“It was really difficulty to judge last year’s winner.

“People do go out of the way with their food and presentation. It looks great.”

Since the Sailability program started at PRSC about a decade ago, it’s played a big role in re-shaping the identity of the club, according to former Commodore Clive Walker.

“We’re reaching out more into the community, rather than just being all about racing,” he said.

“We’ve spent about $250,000 on infrastructure since the program began.

“Originally there wasn’t even a ramp into the front of the club. It’s made a huge difference to people.”

Mr Walker said the club also took people with disabilities out fishing if that was more their thing.

“It’s growing,” he said. “Royal Perth Yacht Club said we probably have the best Sailability program in the state right now.”

With the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Mr Walker said participants could even have their sailing fees covered.

“If they come to the club they can get the details, but NDIS will cover even the $55-an-hour coaching fees,” he said.

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Dave feels the burn

‘DEMONIC’ Dave is his name and chilli is his game.

Albany man Dave Shorter has been munching on chillis and all things hot and spicy since he was five years old and is aiming to lock down the title of Chilli King in just about every competition there is in existence.

He is part of the UK’s League of Fire, is an accredited top-tier Golden Ladle Chilli Head with the N.E.U.K Chilli Heads and is now eyeing the title of best in Australia when it comes to eating hot things.

Mr Shorter already has the title of best in WA but that’s not enough.

So, he’s heading to New Zealand in May to take on the eating challenge of eating challenges.

But before he goes, Mr Shorter has been hard at work accruing points in various chilli food challenges.

The rules are simple: eating certain foods is worth a certain amount of points, and the winner is the person with the most points.

Each challenge must be filmed live and you have to film the “afterburn” too, not just the eating part.

The hottest thing he’s had recently was the Tube of Terror.

“It’s a tube of peanuts,” Mr Shorter said.

“I had cramps for about six hours afterwards.

“And when I’ve spoken to lady competitors, they compared the cramps to giving birth.”

Mr Shorter has to eat chilli in some shape or form regularly to maintain his ability to eat it successfully.

The key to eating it successfully also comes down to prep work – he drinks plenty of milk and eats lots of carbs beforehand, and drinks lemon and lime juice afterwards.

He has chilli-flavoured candy every day at lunch time – his co-workers find it weird and hilarious.

But, chilli is Mr Shorter’s thing and he loves it.

So much so, he wants to start a chilli festival in Albany.

“We need to bring chilli to Albany,” he said.

“It could be our thing.

“We could invite growers from Perth and over east and they’d supply their products, and it would encourage local growers as well.”

Mr Shorter is currently working on a chilli-eating challenge with new Lockyer cafe D&C Grill Taste of Albany.

You can watch Demonic Dave take on food challenges with Carolina Reaper Peppers, Scorpion Chilli, Bhut Jolokia Chilli and 13M Capsaicin Crystals, or offer him some of your own chilli-hot products to review, on his Facebook page.

Just search Dave Shorter.

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Donate to share the dignity

FOR most women, buying sanitary products is something they don’t give a second thought about.

They need them, so they buy them; if anything, they see them as just another annoying thing they have to add to the shopping list.

But for some women, buying these essential items is difficult – they can’t afford them, they have been prevented by others from buying them, or they have to forgo them for other essentials, like food.

Share the Dignity is a charity designed to aid girls and women experiencing homelessness, domestic violence or poverty by giving them sanitary products such as pads and tampons.

The organisation has an annual Dignity Drive for such products and the Albany drive starts next month.

“There are so many people using services like this in Albany,” Coordinator Trish Robinson said.

“I was contacted once by a school because a young girl had been using the same tampon for two days … the health risks associated with that are huge.

“I’ve heard of people using toilet paper or socks instead of sanitary products … and it’s not just young girls – there’s a whole generation of women out there without pads and tampons.

“That’s why it is so important that we can do this.”

The Albany Dignity Drive begins on March 1 and will continue until March 31.

There will be collection points for sanitary products – pads, tampons, incontinence pads, cups, and underwear – at various stores across Albany, including Woolworths, for that time period.

“We only ask for products, not money,” Ms Robinson said.

“And anything collected in the Great Southern stays in the Great Southern.”

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