Digital donation aids concert

A CONCERT will be held at Albany’s Oceans Church next week to raise money for YouthCARE school chaplaincy programs in the region.

Albany City Wind Ensemble will join forces with AboutFACE Youth Choir for the family-friendly event A Concert for Chappy featuring a highly-varied program.

From the soundtrack of Shrek to Lord of the Dance, to children’s fables and pieces from the Glenn Miller Big Band, music director Sue Findlay promises there will be something for everyone.

She said the addition of a brand-new instrument would take the performance to another level.

“We’re usually locked into venues with grand pianos for our concerts,” Ms Findlay explained.

“Particularly if we want a soloist to perform.

“This new digital piano will make such a difference and the great thing about it being based at Oceans Church is that other community groups can use it too.”

The new digital grand piano is a gift from Albany accountancy firm Lincolns, who had the instrument in storage.

Lincolns partner Craig Anderson was happy to see the piano go to community use.

“It’s better than it sitting and collecting dust!” he laughed.

Ms Findlay said tickets to the June 22 concert commencing at 7.30pm would include a light supper, and proceeds would go to YouthCARE Albany programs.

Adults are $22, concession $18, children aged six to 17 $8, and children under five are free.

Tickets are available at the door or online via

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Firies commended

THE City of Albany and Shire of Denmark have praised the efforts of volunteer fire brigades from last week after more than 20 fires sparked up due to severe weather conditions.

Dry and gusty northerly winds last Thursday mirrored conditions from 12 months ago when more than 50 fires swept across the Great Southern and caused devastating damage
to properties.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Superintendent of the Great Southern Wayne Green said emergency services responded to 13 fires in the City’s jurisdiction and 10 fires in the Shire’s jurisdiction last Thursday.

“Burning off is an important tool in mitigation and is an effective way to reduce bushfire risk,” he said.

“Private property owners are responsible for mitigating bushfire risk on their own land, in close consultation with their local government.”

City Manager of Rangers and Emergency Services Tony Ward said all fires were brought under control within a matter of hours.

“Fire fighters responded to 18 call-outs across Wednesday and Thursday last week and did a great job in containing and controlling all incidents,” he said.

“The first call on Thursday came in around 5am with a steady rate of call outs throughout the day.

“All bushfire brigades were back in station around 10pm that night.”

Shire President Ceinwen Gearon praised the efforts of newly appointed Chief Bushfire Control Officer Lez Baines and his quick reaction to the fires.

“We are very lucky to have an immensely dedicated group of individuals willing to volunteer their time to keep us all safe,” she said.

Earlier last week, both the Shire and City announced that due to the severe forecast conditions they would be enforcing Section 46 of the Bush Fire Act 1954 that prohibits the lighting of open-air fires and required any existing burns to be extinguished.

On the City website it states people in breach of similar bans could be issued with penalties of up to $5000.

Mr Green said during prohibited burning times it was an offence under the Act to light a fire in the open air.

“Local governments are responsible for issuing burning permits and following up any breaches,” he said.

Mr Ward said no penalties were issued to residents who were in the process of burning off during the ban, as “they were happy with the way the community responded” and most residents were quick to cooperate and extinguish their fires.

“Generally residents did the right thing and extinguished fires or held off from lighting new ones,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to reach everyone and some fires were lit well before the weather event forecast.

“Given the conditions were similar to 2018, I think residents had this in mind this year and were far more aware of their responsibility.”

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Shark fin sale ban bill tabled

GREENS MLC for South West Diane Evers did not consult with the government prior to tabling a bill to stop the sale of shark fin products in Western Australia last week, according to the
State Fisheries minister.

Ms Evers’ Bill is to amend the Food Act 2008 to prohibit the sale and supply of shark fin products for incidental and related purposes.

If endorsed, the Bill would introduce fines to people selling food that contains shark fin from $50,000 for an individual to $250,000 for a corporate body.

Ms Evers said shark finning, which involves a shark’s fins being removed while alive and returning it to the ocean to drown, was currently a federal offence.

“This Bill is a clear, measured and important step in our work towards ending the inhumane and wasteful practice of shark finning,” she said.

“The proposed amendments to the Food Act 2008 will improve food standards and ensure the practice of shark finning is prohibited at each stage of the supply chain.

“This Bill simply seeks to treat shark fin food products the same as others considered unsuitable for consumption and will mirror provisions for existing offences under the Act.”

Ms Evers said it had been reported that thousands of kilograms of shark fins are imported into Australia each year due to loopholes in existing regulations.

She said many jurisdictions have implemented their own specific bans on shark fishing and that she had been vocal in the past about the harmful effects of baited shark drumline trials.

“Even with bans in place, we know some fishers continue this cruel practice,” Ms Evers said.

“In 2015, a boat was apprehended in Queensland waters carrying over 3000 shark fins.

“The international community recognises that shark finning damages species and ecosystems, while shark fins have not been established to offer any scientific health benefits.

“Unfortunately, foods such as shark fin soup continue to be offered in restaurants as a delicacy.”

State Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said shark finning was illegal in WA.

“The international practice of shark finning, which involves cutting off the fins and discarding the rest of the shark, is awful and I can understand people’s disgust,” he said.

“Prior to tabling this bill, Ms Evers did not consult with the government.

“I have sought advice from the Department about Ms Evers’ Bill.”

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Program success

A FREE roller-skating and mental wellbeing program for teenage girls will likely continue into next year after the Albany group behind it became one of only two around the world selected to receive a grant worth thousands.

Funding for the Albany Roller Derby League’s (ARDL) Skate like a Girl program, which combines weekly skating sessions with mental health literacy lessons coordinated by headspace, was set to run out at the end of 2019.

ARDL President Natalie Jarvis said United States skating organisation Girls on Track Foundation (GOTF) selected the group to receive the grant because of the work it had already been doing.

“Last year, we saw over 80 girls participate in Skate like a Girl and this year our first two terms have been more than full,” she said.

“We do roller skating and roller hockey and we provide an overall safe space where the girls can fail and fall and learn that mental resilience that comes through a physical sport like roller derby.

“The girls generally come for one term or more and in a few weeks they’re jumping things, skating backwards, learning how to skate fast.

“The Girls on Track Foundation is hopefully going to keep that alive.”

A $13,000 grant provided by Healthway has allowed Skate like a Girl to operate at no cost for participants for the past two years.

According to Ms Jarvis, this meant the program brought together girls from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.

“We’ve had young people from all different walks of life, all different schools, all different experiences … that’s a real testament to the space being inclusive and diverse and welcoming for all,” she said.

GOTF President Carla Smith said many families could not afford the $200 or more it cost to buy the skates, pads and helmets necessary to participate in roller-skating safely.

She said of the more than 40 applications for funding the organisation received, ARDL was one of the strongest and most likely to have a wide impact.

“Their successful Skate like a Girl program and their aspirations to grow it and reach lower income families fit with our organisation’s goals of expanding awareness of and access to roller derby for teenage girls,” she said.

“Participation in roller derby helps girls develop confidence, leadership and organisational skills with lifelong benefits for skaters and their communities.”

Ms Jarvis said she hoped the League would receive around $15,000 to cover operational costs in 2020.

The GOTF grant will be raised through a crowd- funding campaign and anyone interested in donating can visit

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Dancers form Floyd choir

A GROUP of Albany dancers will take part in the upcoming Echoes of Pink Floyd tribute concert when it rolls into town on July 6.

Students from Twilight Dreams will form the Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 choir and sing alongside the tribute band during the chorus of the song.

Twilight Dreams owner Anyes Icher said her dancers were excited to participate in the performance.

“I think they chose dance students rather than singing or music students because my dance students are motivated to be theatrical,” she said.

“And that’s what they [tribute band] want – they want drama and a bit of attitude.”

The Pink Floyd tribute concert will feature the entirety of the original band’s iconic album The Wall, and be headlined by singer Matt Goodluck, guitarist Daniel Hunter, drummer Jason Miller, bassist Mark Dole, Paul Bindig on keyboards and synthesisers, and Mark MacNab on rhythm and acoustic guitar.

Hunter said each member of the band loved and respected what the original Pink Floyd gave to the world with their music.

“We want to bring this to life for the audience who may not have had a chance to experience a Pink Floyd concert, or wish to relive memories from their youth,” he said.

“We aim to ensure every aspect of the original Pink Floyd music is captured authentically.”

Echoes of Pink Floyd will perform The Wall tribute concert on July 6 at the Albany Entertainment Centre.

Tickets are available online or at the entertainment centre’s box offic

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Unravelling stigma of death

DENMARK workshop facilitators James Gentle and Ruth Maddren hope their upcoming wool and timber-based activities at Albany’s Vancouver Arts Centre will provide people with a safe space to talk about death.

The Unravelling, The Last Loop and Bed Beneath The Earth will take place over three weekends in June and July and the creations from those workshops will be showcased in the final exhibition Permission to Die.

It’s all part of Dying to Know Day which aims to stimulate conversation and reduce the stigma surrounding death, dying and bereavement.

“There’s multiple stages to the project,” Gentle explained.

“The Unravelling will see people dismantling knitted woolen clothes, they will then use that material to crochet flowers in The Last Loop which form part of the final installation, and then they will be helping to construct a coffin in Bed Beneath The Earth.”

Maddren said the creative element of the workshops should help alleviate any stress or pressure felt when talking about a sometimes-uncomfortable topic.

“I think it’s important for people to come together when they have a difficult discussion such as about death, but they can be distracted by busy hands,” she said.

“If they don’t want to make eye contact with someone, that’s okay; they can sit in silence or they can just speak every now and then.

“We’re not intending to give a lecture on the right way to die or deal with death; we’re merely creating a space so people can share their stories.”

The pair remained tightlipped on the content of the final exhibition Permission to Die but did reveal how the workshop creations would come together.

“It will be in three different parts and be interactive,” Gentle said of the exhibition.

“The crochet flowers will be on the coffin and the coffin will be there so people can ‘try out’ death – they can lay in the coffin and take a picture of themselves in it.

“This is quite a confronting thing for some people, but death is something that is going to happen to all of us, so it’s important we talk about what things we’ll need, like emotional support.”

“We just hope people will feel like they have permission to explore the rituals we have with death, like the coffin and sitting in a room, because usually, the only time we do is when we’re grieving,” Maddren added.

“This is an unusual opportunity to experience it.

“I know even with my experiences with cemeteries and death – my grandfather was a grave digger and gardener – I know I have blockages when it comes to talking about this, so I hope people can find peace and resolution in our project.”

Gentle and Maddren said the project and exhibition was open to all ages but children must be accompanied by an adult.

The Unravelling will be held at Albany Public Library on June 22 from 1-4pm and at Vancouver Arts Centre annex on June 23 from 1-4pm.

The Last Loop will take place at Albany Public Library on June 29, 1- 4pm and at Vancouver Arts Centre annex on June 30, 1-4pm.

Bed Beneath The Earth will be held at Vancouver Arts Centre annex on July 6 and 7, 1-4pm.

All workshops are free, and RSVPs are encouraged but are not compulsory.

RSVPs can be made via Vancouver Arts Centre.

Permission to Die will exhibit in August.

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Snapshots of history

THE history of Indigenous families in the Great Southern will be pictorially displayed at Vancouver Arts Centre from tomorrow in celebration of NAIDOC Week.

Averil Dean and her son, Lindsay gave the Weekender a sneak peek at the exhibition prior to the opening on June 14 and were excited to set everything up.

Photos in the Voice Treaty Truth exhibition include images from Ms Dean’s childhood alongside photos taken by Australian anthropologist Norman Tindale, who in 1939 documented various Indigenous families in the region, their cultural habits and tribal groupings.

Dr Tindale’s image collection includes photos of Ms Dean’s grandparents, Lily Toorlijan Williams and Eddie Womber Williams.

“I think this exhibition has been a long time coming,” Ms Dean said.

“It tells the real story from our point of view, and how we saw what was happening.”

“It’s interesting; people want to know the truth now about this somewhat dark history,” Mr Dean added.

There are nearly 30 images in the exhibition that capture snapshots of Indigenous history, including Indigenous experiences in missions and the effects of the Stolen Generation.

“This is our history, of all the Aboriginal families in this area,” Mr Dean said.

“It tells the real story.”

Local history coordinator for the City of Albany Sue LeFroy added that the pictorial records were “powerful representations of the past”.

“They give families a voice,” she said.

“Seeing the Tindale images alongside and incorporated with family photographs of past generations tackles dark history head on; it is an exhibition of parallel histories, encapsulating the resilience of a family, a people and a culture – a story of survival which is meaningful to us all.”

Voice Treaty Truth will be on display at Vancouver Arts Centre from June 14 to July 18.

This year, NAIDOC Week will be celebrated from July 7 to 14.

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Sexual expression in aged care

A PERTH university student is looking to the Great Southern to conduct research on how residential aged care workers perceive and experience sexual behaviour from aged care facility residents.

Marie Smith, who is completing an Honours degree in Psychology at Edith Cowan University, worked in aged care when she first left high school and described the experience as “eye opening”.

She hopes her research project will give carers a voice as she believes no other scholarly literature does.

“After working in aged care and reading the literature, I realised how little focus there was on this,” Ms Smith said, regarding sexual expression in aged care.

“I was a bit shocked because studies look at aged care managers and nurses, but not at carers, who make up 70 per cent of the aged care workforce.”

For her project, Ms Smith defines sexual expression and behaviour as “any act that communicates sexual need or desire, such as suggestive comments and gestures, flirting, hugging, kissing, groping, viewing sexual material and solo or partnered sexual activities”.

“This can be sexual expression between a resident and a carer, between resident and resident, or a resident with themselves,” she further explained.

“And it’s not just physical – it might be verbal, or an elderly lady wanting to read 50 Shades of Grey, or a couple getting embarrassed even though they are married.”

Ms Smith is focusing on the Great Southern due to the high population of retirees and rural retirees, as she believes regional residents are often overlooked in scholarly research.

She feels it is a “no brainer” to ask carers in the Great Southern about their encounters with sexual expression.

“It’s tricky because there aren’t a lot of guidelines around how to deal with sexual expression,” Ms Smith said.

“So, I really want to ask questions and see how people can be helped in a constructive way.”

Only carers employed in the aged care sector are eligible to participate in Ms Smith’s study.

All interviews will be confidential, and a $20 Coles Myer voucher will be granted as thanks for participation.

Pseudonyms will be used when the interviews are included in Ms Smith’s final paper, which she hopes to finish in October and publish next year.

Those interested can contact Ms Smith on 0487 982 722.

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Ensemble kitchen

MUSICIANS rehearsing at Albany Community Music Centre now have the luxury of running water, a sink and space to store cutlery and kitchen utensils for their supper breaks thanks to the support of TAFE students and business donations.

Brad Eastough is the Certificate I and II coordinator for South Regional TAFE’s building construction program and is always on the look-out for real-life projects for his students.

When Lancaster Hall Management Committee member Robyn France asked whether his students were interested in designing, constructing and installing a functioning kitchen at the Albany Community Music Centre, Mr Eastough did not hesitate.

“Students benefit from live work,” he said.

“Normally, they will make something and just take it home, but with this, they have the enjoyment of building something the community can use.”

Mr Eastough said over 12 months, his 14 students broke the project down into a series of smaller projects and designed and constructed every element.

Cabinet making lecturer Bryan Thompson installed the finished products.

“It’s been really rewarding for the students,” Mr Eastough said.

“They can see the benefits of their labour.”

Ms France was overwhelmed at the community interest in the project and was thankful for all of the material and labour donations.

“Southern Ports paid for the plumbing, which was done by King’s Plumbing, Choices Flooring gave us some lino and laid it for us, and Brocks gave us some tiles and grout,” she said.

“It’s just great; we’ve been washing up plastic for 20 years so it’s nice to have space to use real mugs and store them somewhere other than the cleaning cupboard and have more than just an urn and a plastic dish.”

Ms France said the City of Albany Band, Albany Sinfonia, City of Albany training band and the Amazing South Coast Big Band rehearse on a weekly basis at the music centre and said the new kitchen would certainly be appreciated.

Yvette Elms from the Albany Sinfonia added that the kitchen increased the social element of band practice.

“For a lot of people, band practice is an outlet for them to drag out their instruments and is great for their mental health too,” she said.

“The social element is fantastic, and this new facility will make a huge difference – everyone can stick around for a cuppa and wash up afterwards.”

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Cyclone memories

AN AUTHOR and historian who collated the stories of those affected by a devastating cyclone in the South West more than four decades ago will share his findings during a book tour in Albany and Denmark next week.

Roger Underwood spent two years interviewing more than a hundred people who were living in the region when tropical cyclone Alby swept through on April 4, 1978.

The freak weather event triggered flooding and hundreds of bushfires across the Great Southern and beyond and left a trail of fatalities and destruction in its wake.

One year after the 40th anniversary of the crisis, Mr Underwood spoke with the Weekender this week about his book Cyclone Alby: Memories of the 1978 Western Australian Storm and Bushfire Crisis and about what happened during those fateful days.

“The book has really two objectives,” he said.

“One was to record the personal stories of those involved and the second was to record history and try to see the parallels between what happened then and what might happen today.”

Mr Underwood was living in Manjimup and was the area’s Bushfire Controller when the first inklings of the coming disaster were felt.

He said in late March 1978, a low developed off the Pilbara coast, some 800 kilometres north northwest of Karratha before it moved south.

“When it reached not far north of Perth, it suddenly started interacting with a cold front and the resulting intermixture of the cyclone and the anticyclone produced gale force winds,” he recalled.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the tropical cyclone further built in intensity as it approached the South West and the Great Southern.

Mr Underwood said the extreme winds spurred on more than 500 fires in southern WA all on the same afternoon.

“You had a situation where almost the entire southern half of the state was being threatened by bushfires and storms and floods and at the same time there was no communications,” he said.

“They were paralysed because the power went out everywhere, there were no telephones and no radios and roads were blocked by fallen trees.

“Communities and farmers were all isolated and having to deal with the crisis by themselves.”

Mr Underwood spoke to a host of those who were tested by the “shocking conditions” of the crisis, from farmers and foresters to emergency service personnel and medical staff.

“Most rose to the occasion magnificently. The stories in the book demonstrate the tremendous courage and resilience of the people involved,” he said.

But the crisis was not without tragedy.

A total of five people were killed as the cyclone unfurled, including two Albany men who drowned when their dinghy overturned and a woman who died when she was struck by a falling tree in Kendenup.

The overall damage bill was estimated to have reached approximately $39 million at the time – 280 houses were burned, thousands of sheep and cattle were destroyed and the fires razed approximately 114,000 hectares of forest and farmland.

“The storm itself came and went in a period of about five or six hours, but it left behind a period of days, weeks and in some cases years of recovery work,” Mr Underwood said.

“It also left its psychological scars on many people. When I was doing the interviews I had people who rang me up and they just burst into sobbing tears because the memories were just so painful.”

Mr Underwood is an avid disaster historian and worked as a forester for around 35 years before retiring in the mid 1990s.

He said although the storm came as a surprise for many people since cyclones generally head inland, it was not unprecedented.

Two serious cyclones in 1937 and 1945 wreaked similar havoc.

“Most people had forgotten about those. There was a general feeling in 1978 as there probably is today that you don’t get tropical cyclones sweeping across the southwest,” Mr Underwood said.

“I think even today people don’t study history and often don’t learn from the past … it’s inevitable we will have another event like this sometime in the future.”

Mr Underwood will be giving his free talk at the Albany Public Library on June 21 and in Denmark on June 22.

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