Saturday, 29 September 2012

In memory of Jill - reclaim the night on Sydney Road ... and wherever you are

We may not be able to reclaim Jill Meagher 
to walk this world once again.

there is something constructive we CAN do.
We can walk, in her memory, to reclaim the night
on Sydney Road, Brunswick.

If you can't be in Melbourne,
please do what you can to 
wherever you are.
Sydney road street party in Feb 2004, Sydney R...
Sydney road street party in Feb 2004, Sydney Road, Melbourne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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Show you care for the ecosystem that cares for you - walk in solidarity for solar in Ballarat to-morrow

Do something for your ecosystem to-morrow.
Walk in solidarity for solar to-morrow.
We are doing it in Ballarat.
It is happening in other places too.

Friday, 28 September 2012

To-day, I raced The Cold Front and won

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a sneaky disorder.  It sneaks up with the weather.  It affected me when I lived in Melbourne. Now, I live in Ballarat which is colder and wetter.

My neighbour's beautiful fruit blossom
coming over my fence

We have had winter for four months - and I am well and truly over it.  SAD has affected me severely in recent weeks.  I am a girl from the tropics and I don't believe I have adapted to the climate after eight years in Victoria.  Ballarat is very cold. I now refer to visits to Melbourne as visits to the sub-tropics.  The cold and the rain keep me indoors.  A few years ago I had a serious health event brought about by cold - cold in a heated room with me in a fleecy dressing gown.  In addition, I also suffer from Raynaud's syndrome.  

To cut a long story sort - I feel imprisoned in a gloomy, rainy winter. I feel liberated in warmth and sunshine.  Adding to my frustration is a garden which needs attention but I can't get out there.

Bearing all this in mind, this morning was a pleasant surprise.  I woke up at 6 a.m.  My house is well-insulated - sufficiently to make a difference of a few degrees between inside and outside temperatures.  So if, by a wintry chance, it is comfortable inside and there is no need of heating - externally there can still be a breeze straight from the Antarctic. This morning, however, I put my head out the door to find the morning warm, comfortable, the extreme winds of previous days were no more,  and the lightening sky didn't seem to indicate any precipitate interference.

So I got stuck into the garden.  

I have been in the house just short of seven months.  A March arrival didn't allow one to do to much in the garden.  Forays over winter have been hit and run.  But I had plans. 

 The lavender planted in Autumn is beginning to take off.
Candytuft has just been planted between the lavender bushes
 - and there's a rose behind.
  • To-day, I pulled some remaining weeds from the lavender bed, planted some candytuft in between, and added a red rose recently purchased from the market at the Ballarat East Community Men's Shed.  And there is room for another rose.  
  • I planted out salad onions (shallotts to a North Queenslander like me), which had come from the same source, in a wooden planter box that I had once picked up from footpath hard rubbish in Melbourne.
The French Currant -
it would me nice if mine grew up to look like this
My eight-year-old Oregano
  • I repotted a recently purchased Thyme.  Me and Thyme don't travel well together and are prone to misadventures.  I want herbs like my Oregano (see above).  I have been growing it in the same galvanised metal tub for eight years.  It dies back in Winter and rebounds beautifully in Spring.
  • Between the Lavender bed and where I positioned the shallots in the wooden planter box, there was sufficient room for a new bed which I dug and into which I placed some mini-roma tomatoes from last season.  Later, I will plant in other beds mini-roma seeds and black russian seeds I have brought from Melbourne.  I loved the mini-romas last summer.  They have a 'take over the world' mentality and proved quite hardy and a frequent cropper. 
  • I believe in feeding the soil before planting. We cannot grow good crops of nutritious food unless we first feed the soil and feed it as well as we would ourselves. I have had worm pots positioned in the garden beds.  When I came here one could dig into the soil and not find a worm.  That is no longer the case.  This morning, I fed more sheep manure into the beds.  
And guess what happened.  While I had the precious time of one hour of warmth, clearness and a lightening sky, there came the sound of rolling thunder.  A little later came spattering drops of rain.  Now we have had rain since about 8 a.m.  My manure is being rained into the soil.  The new plantings have the encouragement of rain.  And I think I can honestly say that I beat the cold front which is transiting across the weather-maps of south-east Australia!
Rocket & Rake
The rocket is going elegantly to seed -
over a lengthy period of time with 
lovely yellow and brown flowers

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Springtime in Ballarat

Just want to record for Networkers 
how beautiful spring can be in Ballarat, Victoria.
These pictures were taken at the Visitors Centre
near Gillies Street at the
Ballarat Botanical Gardens.

In Ballarat this Sunday - here or wherever you are we are Walking for Solar

Walk in Solidarity for Solar in Ballarat

Dear Networkers,

The community of Port Augusta are pushing hard to have AUSTRALIA'S FIRST SOLAR THERMAL PLANT built in their town to replace the coal-fired power plants that are being closed. Even Alinta, the company who owns the plants, is behind it.  

To read more about this, please go here.

80 intrepid walkers have started the Walk for Solar, a two week, 325km trek from Port Augusta to Adelaide to win support for their big solar vision among the people of Adelaide. 

Port augusta location map in South Australia
Port augusta location map in South Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of these walkers is Ballarat's own Will Bennett.

To place this event firmly on the national stage, 100% Renewable is organising supporting walks all around the country on Sunday, 30th September, to coincide with the huge rally that will welcome the Walk for Solar crew on their arrival in Adelaide .

In Ballarat 100% Renewables and the local Australian Youth Climate Coalition group are organising our own walk! We'll be walking to show that solar thermal in Port Augusta is a critical first step to achieving an Australia powered by clean, renewable energy that all Australians want to see, no matter where they live.

We'll be meeting out the front of Catherine King's office at 12pm and walking to Lake Wendouree for a BYO picnic lunch.  I have an old lady's dispensation from Andrew Bray.  I won't we walking.  I will be waiting for the walkers at Lake Wendouree near The Boatshed.

Can you walk in 
in Ballarat on Sunday, September 30th?

It will be a lot of fun and a great opportunity 
to get to know others in Ballarat with similar interests.

So put on your sneakers, pack yourself a yummy lunch and come on down! 

For more information 
contact Sophie at

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Thursday, 20 September 2012

We're not getting the real deal - First Nations recognition in the Australian Constitution - just another Act of Parliament.

Hello all,
The Government announced today plans to introduce an Act of Recognition into the Australian Parliament before the end of the year, as an interim measure to holding a referendum on Constitutional Recognition. This means that a referendum will not go ahead by the next election, as was the original commitment. The ‘Act of Recognition’ would have a two-year sunset clause, in the expectation that a referendum will be put by the next government, irrespective of who wins (see The Age and Australian articles below).
RecVic’s initial response to this announcement, largely consistent with Reconciliation Australia and ANTaR responses, is:
  • We welcome today’s commitment to legislate an Act of Recognition as a step on the road to Constitutional Recognition
  • We await further detail about the proposed Act of Recognition, but hope that it reflects all elements of the Expert Panel’s package, including the inclusion of a prohibition on racial discrimination.
  •  We urge the Parliament to provide a firm and bi-partisan commitment on the timing of a referendum.
  • What we’ve learnt from the ’67 referendum campaigners is it took 10 years to reach out to the majority of Australians to touch their hearts and minds. We don’t expect it to take that long but the research conducted by You Me Unity suggests that awareness isn’t high enough to hold a successful referendum yet.
  • We support the Expert Panel’s advice that careful consideration of the timing of a referendum on this issue is crucial to ensure the best chance of success.
  • We are happy that the Government, Opposition, Greens and Independents are talking to one another because for a referendum to be successful we need the support of the whole Parliament, along with states and territories and the Australian people.
  • We must continue our efforts to engage more people in the conversation.
  • Building up recognition of the histories and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the LOCAL level will create a foundation for achieving recognition at the national level.

PM plan for indigenous recognition

Michael Gordon
Published: September 20, 2012 - 3:00AM
THE Gillard government has embraced a new strategy to recognise the ''unique and special place'' of indigenous Australians after conceding that a referendum proposing constitutional change could fail if it is put at or before next year's election.
It now plans to legislate an ''act of recognition'' before Parliament rises this year in the hope that it will build momentum for constitutional recognition of indigenous language and culture in the next two years.
The legislation will have a two-year sunset clause in the expectation that a referendum will be put by the next government, irrespective of who wins.
The retreat is likely to be endorsed by indigenous leaders who feared a referendum campaign would be overwhelmed by the political contest between Labor and the Coalition in the lead-up to the election due this time next year.
''The last thing you would want is for this to fail,'' Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin told The Age last night.
The Prime Minister agreed to the goal of a referendum before or at the next election in separate minority government agreements with the Greens and with independent MP Rob Oakeshott after the 2010 election.
But, in a report to the government late last year, a 22-member expert panel urged caution on the timing of the referendum, saying a failure to have it passed would result in ''confusion about the nation's values, commitment to racial non-discrimination and sense of national identity''.
Ms Macklin said the decision to hold back followed strong advice from indigenous leaders that there was not yet sufficient awareness or support to ensure the success of a referendum, which needs to be passed by a majority of votes and a majority of states.
A preliminary report prepared by Reconciliation Australia found that while there was strong awareness among indigenous Australians, only 39 per cent of the non-indigenous community had heard about the proposed referendum.
Ms Macklin said she had held preliminary discussions with the opposition, Greens and independents on the planned legislation and would continue to work with all parties to develop the legislation.
''We are committed to recognising indigenous people in Australia's constitution and want meaningful reform that reflects the hopes and aspirations of indigenous people.''
The panel proposed changes to the constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and languages, prohibit racial discrimination and remove the last vestiges of racism in the nation's founding document.
Co-chairman of the expert panel, Patrick Dodson, said the change in strategy made sense. ''There should be a clear distinction between the election and the need for statesmanlike behaviour to resolve a 200-year problem - the lack of recognition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.''
For extended article:
You can also vote in today’s Age Poll at

Julia Gillard switch on first peoples

  • From:The Australian 
  • September 20, 2012 12:00AM
THE referendum to acknowledge indigenous Australians has been shelved for at least three years amid fears the failure to build community support before the deadline of the next election would see it defeated.
The Gillard government will instead ask parliament to pass an "Act of Recognition" to acknowledge "the unique and special place of our first peoples" as an "interim" measure until there is enough support for a constitutional change.
Julia Gillard has talked to Tony Abbott and the Greens about Labor's intention to introduce the symbolic act in a formal admission that a referendum would fail if it were put to a vote next year as planned.
As part of Labor's 2010 power-sharing agreement with the Greens and independents, Labor agreed to hold a referendum on indigenous constitutional recognition before or at the 2013 election.
The Greens are understood to be disappointed at the delay, but acknowledge it is necessary.
It is understood all parties are prepared to follow Labor's path towards an act. They want the act passed by the end of the year.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said a sunset clause on the act would force the parliament not to neglect the issue.
"We have a sunset clause in the bill of say two or three years so that the next parliament really has to look at it and make sure that we maintain the community awareness and continue to have a discussion for the need for constitutional change, not just in the area of recognition but on the other matters the expert panel raised," she said.
"Whoever is in charge in the next parliament will have to either decide to continue it or the parliament will need to discuss it."
The government will today reveal that the Act of Recognition will be worded to reflect as closely as possible the recommendations of the expert panel the government had develop options for constitutional change.
In January, the panel recommended that the Constitution be altered to remove racist sections Continued on Page 4
and create power for the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the protection of language and culture. It also called for a clause against racial discrimination.
The panel wanted the constitution changed to empower the government to make laws for the "advancement" of indigenous Australians.
The government is keeping an open mind on the introduction of a specific non-discrimination clause in the Constitution arguing it is too early to decide whether it would gain support at an election. And instead of a clause for the "advancement" of indigenous Australians they prefer the Constitution to be changed to acknowledge that laws can be made to "close the gap". The recommended insertion of a clause to prohibit racial discrimination was described by Tony Abbott as a "single-issue bill of rights".
Ms Macklin said a preliminary report prepared for the government by Reconciliation Australia found only 39 per cent of the non-indigenous community had heard about a proposed referendum. "The Australian government agrees with the findings of the expert panel that it is important a referendum is held at a time when it has the most chance of success," she said.
Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said the vote should not be held under Julia Gillard, arguing that the Prime Minister's advocacy would ensure defeat of a referendum.

The RecVic Team

Monday, 10 September 2012

Two Quakers in a Sunday search of sustainability : worm septic system and the never-watered fruit and veges

Yesterday was Sustainable House Day.  There were lots of marvellous choices across the country - but I selected one.  Elderblogger syndrome once again.  Experience has shown I must not try to fit too much into the schedule.  When I went over the list, it seemed to me that in some entries there was an emphasis on the house with little or nothing offered in the way of an interesting garden.  I was more interested in what might be going on out-of-doors and I chose accordingly.  My destination turned out to be in a quite isolated location whose nearest settlement is the village of Napoleons.  

I set off with my F/friend Ruth after Quaker Meeting for Worship.  I checked Google Maps for location and directions before leaving and set off with the written details ... and finished up being unable to complete the directions because a tree was down across the road.  Another vehicle came along - another Google person.  So that made two vehicles heading for the same sustainable house.  Then there was movement on the other side of the fallen tree. This was a GPS victim. They had been to the sustainable house and thought they were returning the way they had come ... but not so.  

Eventually, Ruth and I made it to our destination in the hills surrounded by forest.

There were two things that were of particular interest ...

... the worm farm septic system .... 

... and the fully enclosed orchard including vegetable gardens .... which the chooks forage. 
Their three sided chook shed is at the rear of the orchard.

These are pictures of the vege garden
which is not enclosed with the orchard.

 Peter and Christine never ever water
the orchard and the vege gardens.
The septic system is one huge worm farm.
When the tanks reach a certain level,
approximately twice a day dependent upon usage,
a pump comes on and the tank contents
are pumped up automatically into trenches below
the fruit trees in the orchard.

Ruth and I had a wonderful and intrepid day out.
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The Victorian Climate Action Calendar 2012-09-08 to 2012-10-23

Successful rally in Ballarat last week : on with the campaign at the Ballarat Save TAFE community committee to-night

Life gets somewhat full and we Elderbloggers don't always have the quickest of bounce backs when a few things make it into the weekly schedule.  This is a huge contrast to my midlife.  I packed so many things into my life I get tired just remembering it - full time job, husband + three kids, tertiary studies, extensive community and church commitments, and a budding political career.

So this is a brief report back on our Ballarat rally to Save TAFE last Thursday.  I did do facebook and twitter on Friday and then couldn't keep up.  Below are some links to give you a good coverage.

You can find a slideshow of visuals of what we got up to at the Mount Helen campus of the University of Ballarat here.

BTW, if you want to become really involved in the campaign, please turn up this afternoon to Trades Hall in Ballarat for the 5.30pm meeting of the Ballarat Save TAFE Committee.  This is a community based committee drawing on a broad demographic and a wide range of skills.

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