Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : April 25, 2017 Edition Contents THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, TUESDAY, APRIL 25, 2017 - PAGE 3
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SOUTH Gippsland Mayor Cr Ray Argento was
asked a direct question last Wednesday, at the
end of a public presentation session, by a mem-
ber of the Great Southern Rail Trail (GSRT)
Committee of Management.
He didn’t answer the question.
And given what was being asked, he probably
did exactly the right thing.
“So what’s the next step?” asked Rob Knight,
the secretary of the GSRT.
He and his fellow GSRT committee member,
the president in fact, Neville Pulham, had just
got through telling the council that the com-
mittee of eight, all of them appointed by the
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate
Change, Minister for Suburban Development,
Lily D’Ambrosio, would be standing down on
June 30 this year.
They’ve done enough, especially people like
Neville Pulham, who have been on the commit-
tee for the best part of 20 years.
“They’re just burnt out,”
Mr Knight told
“And we’ve got no capacity to attract people
with the requisite skills to take it on,” he said.
“It’ll be a full time job for someone. I do two to
three days-a-week on it myself.
“And as a committee, we’re on call 24/7, 365
days of the year, if there’s a fallen tree or some-
thing wants doing.”
Mr Knight was making a pitch for the coun-
cil to take it over but six months into their first
term of office, and after months of painstaking
work on the council’s budget, several council-
lors were quick to see the obvious flaw in that
suggestion - how much will it cost?
“So, let me get this straight. You’ve got main-
tenance costs of $120,000 annually, there’s
$65,000 contributed in volunteer labour and
$30,000 in capital works that need doing, mi-
nus the $37,000 you’re getting in licence fees?”
asked Cr Meg Edwards.
“That’s $170,000 to $180,000 (cost to council)
to do what you’re doing?”
“Yes but the council also gives us $60,000 a
year, so you’d have to take that into account,” Mr
The council would still have to find well over
$100,000 a year to manage land owned by
the State Government, to wit, the old South
Gippsland Railway Reserve, now a very popular
77km rail trail, with room for expansion.
And there was more than a suggestion, at the
meeting, that there’s something wrong with the
‘Pumphouse Bridge’ over the Tarwin, just west
So, no wonder the Mayor Cr Argento didn’t
jump at the offer of taking over management of
the local rail trail, as much as everyone loves
what it is doing for the local economy and the
wellbeing of the community.
Hopefully there’s some room to negotiate with
Department of Environment, Land, Water and
Planning for a financial contribution.
Otherwise it would amount to more cost-
shifting on to local government, and on to local
Or the department might still advertise for ex-
pressions of interest from people willing to join
the committee of management, clearly one of the
region’s most onerous volunteer roles.
Those with a vested interest, the business op-
erators along the way who’ve done so well out of
the passing trade, might like to step up.
“My concern is there’s only two months left
before we have been asked to take it on,” Cr Ed-
“Was there no plan to keep the management
committee going?” said Cr Jeremy Rich, think-
ing along the same lines.
Mr Pulham said after the meeting that the
committee had advised the Department back
in October that they would not be continuing
and had in fact agreed to extend beyond their
appointed finishing time, of April 14, 2017, just
so that alternative arrangements could be made.
What Cr Argento did do was be effusive in his
praise for what the committee members and rail
trail volunteers have been able to do to date.
“The work of the committee has not gone on
unrecognised by the community. I thank you for
it and for the contribution you have made to the
wellbeing of the South Gippsland Shire.”
All councillors chimed in with similar senti-
But the question remains, what happens after
June 30, 2017?
It was a question left to hang in the air as the
rail trail officials departed the scene.
South Gippsland Mayor, Cr Ray Argento thanks Gippsland Southern Rail Trail Committee
of Management president Neville Pulham for 20 years of volunteer commitment to the rail
trail and also GSRT secretary Rob Knight after the committee announced its intention to
stand down at the end of June.
looms for rail trail
TWO films created by Year 12 VCAL students
at Wonthaggi Secondary College have helped
shed a light on youth mental health.
The short films were shown to a packed room
of Bass Coast Health staff, Bass Coast Shire
Council staff and others at the Wonthaggi Hos-
pital on Thursday, April 20.
Executive director of Primary and Communi-
ty Care at Bass Coast Health, Paul Greenhalgh,
said the films were about raising awareness
about youth mental health, and for suicide, a
focus on prevention and early intervention.
“Too often our community has had to deal
with youth and adults taking their own lives.
This is devastating for those that are left be-
hind, for loved ones, for work colleagues, for
friends and family.
“It leaves a ripple effect throughout the region.
It also leaves a heaviness across the community
for an extended period,” Mr Greenhalgh said.
The school partnered with Drift Media’s Mick
Green. He engaged with students at Wonthag-
gi Secondary College to help them create two
films that would bring greater focus to youth
Students and Mr Green agreed they didn’t
want to bring up anything controversial, but also
didn’t want to censor expression in the films.
“It began with students sketching down ideas,
writing down the first five words that come into
their head when they hear a word, such as de-
pression,” Mr Green said.
Students also looked at how they would con-
ceal the main character’s identity.
One idea was to say “I had a friend who...” - a
common saying used to talk about oneself.
They decided a student wearing a box on
his head would work well and called the film
‘ Boxhead’ .
During the film, one student said she thought
people didn’t care about her. Another likened
depression to a war, but “in your own mind”.
Students didn’t want to make the film “all
doom and gloom”, Mr Green said, so they add-
ed a scene where the student wearing a box on
his head drank from a bottle water – obviously
failing, the water ran down the box and onto
The film showed a number of alarming sta-
tistics, including that one in four young Austra-
lians experience a mental health condition.
“Even if we take them (the statistics) conser-
vatively, they’re scary. I wonder what that would
translate to if we were to drill it down to Bass
Coast as to whether or not our statistics would
reflect the national statistics.
“I dare say they’d be higher,” Mr Green said.
In the second short film ‘Sketchy’, girls from
Wonthaggi Secondary College responded to
questions such as ‘Do you find it easy talking
about depression?’ and ‘How would your friend
react if you said you were depressed?’
“It wasn’t just the end result, it was the jour-
ney,” Mr Green said, adding that students be-
gan talking about mental health when news of
the filming spread throughout the school.
The San Remo Bendigo Bank funded the proj-
ect, with support from Bass Coast Shire Council.
If you or someone you know is experiencing dif-
ficulties, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline
on 1800 55 1800 or visit www.beyondblue.org.au
Mick Green from Drift Media talking about the issues concerning young people and their mental
health, showing two short films created by students at Wonthaggi Secondary College. mm061717
Students make film on youth mental health
The $38m question
BASS Coast Shire Council left its colleague, Cr
Les Larke, and a $38 million question hanging at
its council meeting last week when it failed to sup-
port three complex financial interrogatives.
In one of his motions, lost on a vote of 8:1 at last
Wednesday’s council meeting in Cowes, he urged
the CEO to explain why the operating position
showed a deficit of $24 million but the net result
showed a surplus of more than $14 million “a cu-
mulative difference of approximately $38 million
for the corresponding financial years”, Cr Larke
Several councillors objected to the wording
of the motion, which questioned how open and
transparent were council’s budgetary processes
and they also feared the queries might delay bud-
Cr Whelan accused Cr Larke of “a history of nit
picking” and alleged harassment of the shire’s fi-
nancial staff but Cr Larke rejected this claim, say-
ing he was merely asking reasonable questions.
“I’m not an accountant,” said Cr Whelan. “But
I object to the constant carping and harassment
Cr Whelan said however that he would be happy
to consider Cr Larke’s requests later in the year.
Bruce Kent, the Mayor Cr Pam Rothfield and
others agreed, saying a lot of this information
would be available when the shire introduced its
new IT system.
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