Boolarra Community Development Group – March. 2011

The AGM was held on 12 August 2010 at the Bowling Club. Rob Herni thanked the Bowling Club for the warm welcome, hospitality and the quality of the catering. 22 people attended and enjoyed interesting speakers from the Mirboo North Community Bank and the Mirboo North community foundation.

The following committee was elected:

  •             Chair                                       Rob Herni
  •             Vice Chair                               Mark Cooke
  •             Secretary                                 Colin Brick
  •             Treasurer                                 Les Hunt
  •             Asst Treasurer                         Gwenda Pither
  •             Committee                              Marietta Herni
  •             Committee                              Doug Black
  •             Committee                              Jill Simmonds
  •             Committee                              Emma Cooke
  •             Committee                              Sue Webster
  •             Committee                              Pat McAlister

It is a strong committee and it is pleasing to see a couple of members that became involved through the fire related Community Recovery Committee (CRC) activities put their hand up to join the general committee. It should also be recognised that several of the members are feeling the strain that has been imposed on the group and the community generally, as a result of extra work load and stresses associated with fire recovery.

Fire recovery activities continued to be a major focus for the group over the last few months and it is pleasing that positive progress is being made on a number of fronts. The CRC has been working with Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority (VBRRA) and Latrobe City Council (LCC) to identify and classify wood piles on fire affected properties and a program has commenced, in consultation with property owners, to address and resolve the issues. The fencing issues are also almost resolved and a TAFE team has done extensive work in the Boolarra/Yinnar area assisting owners of fire affected properties.

Development of the Local Emergency Action Plan (LEAP) has been completed and was launched at a public meeting of around 150 people on 28 November 2010. Unfortunately quality assurance and printing issues meant the final document was unavailable for distribution at the meeting, however, they were distributed to all residents before Christmas. If anyone does not have a copy of the document leave your name at the Post Office and arrangements will be made to deliver one to you. The group developing this have received very positive feedback from other areas that will be looking to use the Boolarra/Yinnar model as a template for their region. John Harris and Tim Delany from Yinnar and Les Hunt and Dave O’Brien especially, are to be commended for the time and effort they have devoted to developing a quality outcome. Thank you also to the “street captains’ who contributed their time to notify people of the public meeting and to deliver the final documents.

The first edition of the new Boolarra Link was fantastic. On behalf of the Boolarra Community Development Group (BCDG) and the general community I would like to thank the people who have offered their time and effort to make this happen. They seem very enthusiastic and to have a good complementary range of skills and I’m sure they’ll do a great job. Another bonus from a community perspective is that there are a number of “newcomers” getting involved in community activities. All the best for many great future editions.

At our last couple of meetings we have had presentations firstly from Gippsland Water, who spoke about the planned extension in 2011 of the Moondarra based water supply from Yinnar to Boolarra and secondly, following concerns expressed at the first meeting, a presentation and discussion on fluoridisation of the water supply which will occur once we are connected to the Yinnar water line. The new supply will provide a better quality of water and also reduce the level of restrictions imposed, as we will be on the same level of restrictions as Morwell and Churchill.

The switchover to digital TV for Boolarra will have occurred by the time this edition comes out. Hopefully, the changeover is smooth and was facilitated by the well attended public meeting arranged by the BCDG to enable an expert presentation on the switchover. Community thanks are due to Les Hunt for his unceasing advocacy on this issue and other communication related issues with LCC and local politicians.

Refurbishment and upgrade of the Multi-purpose Building (MPB) was listed as the number one community priority in Boolarra’s Recovery Action Plan. Substantial funding has been confirmed although insufficient to complete the work to the submitted plan. The BCDG is currently in discussions with the MPB committee, VBRRA and LCC to determine what can be achieved to best meet the community’s needs and has pledged to support the MPB in the development and implementation of plans.

Funding has been received for a Men’s Shed, which will also incorporate a garage facility for the community bus and refrigerated trailer. The funding received will still require a significant proportion of volunteer labour for the erection and installation of fittings. Arrangements are currently underway for the transfer of the DSE yard to BCDG management. DSE have given in principle support to the transfer. The Folk Festival committee are also considering developing some storage facilities at the yards.

The Community Bus has been used quite extensively by the Gipps TAFE crew that is doing bushfire recovery work. Jared Mills has taken on the role of coordinating the bus. Thanks to Jeff and Val Henderson for their efforts, unfortunately, Jeff was unable to continue the role due to his knee operation. There has been a range of community feedback suggesting that the hire rates are set too high for the bus; a revised set of rates has been distributed and will hopefully stimulate greater patronage of the bus.

The Boolarra South Landcare Group (BSLG) are doing some wonderful work at present on beautification and installation of tracks at the Old Mill site. To assist them in this project the BCDG allocated $6,000 of fire related funding towards materials for bridges and tracks. The BCDG also allocated $1,000 of events funding towards the opening of the new CFA Fire Station, which was a wonderful occasion. The CFA and the community should be very proud both of the way the ceremony was conducted and the facility we now have.

The Australia Day celebrations were once again a great success. A dull damp morning indicated numbers might be down and we were a bit slow getting underway with the cooking. However, the people quickly turned up and the place was soon buzzing with conversation. Thanks to the CFA and other volunteers on the BBQ; next year we’ll cook earlier and more as numbers just keep rising. Thanks also to the helpers on the kids activities and to the Bool Aria members who helped make the national anthem a bit more tuneful than normal. There was a rumour that Roz almost raised the flag upside down, at least it is better than a couple of years ago when we almost raised a Dutch flag by mistake. Congratulations to the 12 people who received richly deserved Community Appreciation Certificates and one also received a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday (well done Faye!).

Finally, a couple of months back Dan & I called in at the Yinnar Community Market and I saw Jack Richards gazing over the oval. We got chatting and Jack regaled us with 65 yo tales such as paying two shillings (2/-) for the bus trip to get thrashed at footy against Erica on the hill they called an oval. It was very interesting and very funny and it brought home to me again how much we lose as a community when the old folk such as Thelma Deppeler, Maisie Fox and Arthur Robbins pass away. The Boolarra we know and love owes a lot to people such as these and we are poorer for their passing.

Colin Brick,
Boolarra Community Development Group.