The News Headlines
Wednesday May 25, 2016
Letters to the Editor
From The Mirror,
May 15, 1996
South Gippsland Secondary College
investigating school name change
• College students suggest a name change for South Gippsland Secondary
THE local secondary college is considering a name change and is keen to
gauge the views of as many people as possible through a community survey.
South Gippsland Secondary College principal Matt McPhee explained why.
He began by saying: “Ask a student from South Gippsland Secondary College
which school they go to and chances are they will answer ‘Foster Secondary.’
Whilst the members of the local community know the location of our great
little school, not many others do and there is little idea from our name.”
Mr McPhee said that 14 years ago the school council underwent a major review
of the school name and investigated alternatives to the name ‘South
Gippsland Secondary College.’ After much work and consultation, it was
decided to stay with the existing name at that time.
“In 2016 however, the issues prompting that review have not gone away and
many at the school believe the arguments supporting a change have only
become stronger in the intervening period,” said Mr McPhee.
“As a result, the current School Council believes it is time to revisit the
issue and to begin consultation with the current school community. School
Council is aware that the school is fast approaching its centenary
celebrations in 2019/2020 and believes it would be best to have the issue
dealt with well before that. A sub-committee of School Council looking into
the issue met on April 28th to begin the process of consultation. It should
be said at the outset that the Name Change Sub-Committee and School Council
as a whole are hopeful that a name change will occur.”
So what are the arguments for a change?
The first reason, said Mr McPhee, is possibly the most significant and could
be described as ‘location confusion.’
“When the school first changed its name to ‘South Gippsland Secondary
College’ in 1990, the Shire of South Gippsland was based in Foster. Now the
South Gippsland Shire Council is based in Leongatha and has been for many
years. The school gets several calls a week from people thinking we are
based in Leongatha when applying for jobs or moving to the area,” said Mr
“In addition, we often get confused with ‘South Gippsland Specialist School’
which is also based in Leongatha. Those who don’t live in the area have a
very vague notion of where South Gippsland actually is. The school’s
initials are actually the same as the South Gippsland Shire Council (SGSC)
and we often get calls from people asking why we have deposited funds or
asked for payment, when it is actually from the Shire!”
The second reason relates to the length of the name.
“It is very long when quoting email addresses,” Mr McPhee pointed out.
“firstname.lastname@example.org is a mouthful when answering phones
and filling out the hundreds of forms we need to use each year printed on
letterheads, uniforms and other school property. This may sound a trifling
reason, but when staff are doing it all day every day, it would be nice if
it was shorter.”
“Thirdly, our ‘identification’. Who are we? It is very important for the
name change idea not to be seen as some kind of ‘appropriation’ of the
school by the township of Foster. We are one of the few rural secondary
colleges in the state that are not named for the town that we are located
in. All other government secondary colleges in South Gippsland are named for
the town where they were established, so they never experience confusion as
to where they are located and ‘who’ they are. All of them have feeder
schools from other towns within their area, but don’t have that reflected in
their names. For example, Wonthaggi Secondary College has students enrolled
from feeder schools as far apart as Inverloch PS, Cowes PS and Bass Valley
“The South Gippsland Shire covers a very broad area from Nyora, Venus Bay,
Yanakie, Mirboo North and as far east as Hedley. The shire has four
government secondary colleges in its area, being Korumburra SC, Leongatha
SC, Mirboo North SC and ourselves. There seems no logic to the fact that
only our school is named to represent the whole shire.”
Finally, said Mr McPhee, it is worth considering the history of the school
name. “‘Foster’ has been part of the school name for 70 of our 97 years.
Originally we were named the ‘South Gippsland Shire Higher Elementary
Memorial School.’ We were then named ‘Foster Higher Elementary School’ until
1952 when we changed our name to ‘Foster & District High School.’ This name
survived until 1990, when the current name ‘South Gippsland Secondary
College’ was adopted.”
If a new school name was to be adopted it could also be an opportune time to
look at a new logo, introduce some new items into the uniform range and
possibly drop some of the older items. Any uniform changes would be phased
in so that students could ‘wear out’ their current uniforms. The school is
determined to avoid unnecessary costs on families.
In considering a potential name change that would address the issues
considered above, the sub-committee recommends the name changing to Foster
Where to from here? A consultation process will take place, as is required
by the Department of Education and Training, and the Name Change
Sub-Committee has created a survey that will be conducted online. The link
to the survey is:
The link will also be sent out to the school community via Compass, the
school management portal. Respondents are asked to identify which ‘category’
they belong to for data collation purposes - student, staff, parent,
community member or community organisation. The data will then be considered
by School Council as a whole. Any decision must have the approval of the
Department of Education’s regional director, Stephen Gniel.
The School Name Change Sub-Committee (of School Council) consists of the
following: Tim Fletcher (President), Matt McPhee (Principal), Dean Duursma
(Assistant Principal), Heather Blunden and Allison Hodgson (School Council
Parent Representatives), Sharni Cripps, Mariah Lawrence and Karli Fiegert-Baxter
a movement for
• Shire community strengthening officer Barbara Look and Graeme Green from
the Corner Inlet Men’s Shed look over the colour brochure promoting the
Men’s Shed movement across South and West Gippsland.
MEN’S Sheds are a place to build on the health and wellbeing of men.
That’s one of the messages in a recently produced colour brochure, Men’s
Sheds South and West Gippsland. It was in recognition of the important role
Men’s Sheds play in men’s health that Monash Health contributed to the
production of the brochure, along with local government, including South
Gippsland Shire Council.
“Men’s Sheds are places for men to come together, to capture and share their
skills and experiences,” explains the brochure.
“A place of creativity, of teamwork, and for celebrating community
spirit…More than just a ‘shed’ we meet new friends, relate our experiences,
mostly with a laugh, sometimes with compassion for someone going through a
hard time, but we always leave feeling better than when we came.”
Shire community strengthening officer Barbara Look said the regional
brochure was a resource much appreciated by health services and medical
practitioners. “It is also a great promotional tool!” she said.
Ms Look was speaking at a public presentation to Council last Wednesday on
the South Gippsland Cluster of Men’s Sheds. She was accompanied by
representatives of two of the shire’s Men’s Sheds – Graeme Green from the
Corner Inlet Men’s Shed in Foster and John Hyett, president of the Venus Bay
and Tarwin Lower Men’s Shed.
Both men spoke with great enthusiasm of their Men’s Sheds and of the support
they received from Council, Barbara Look in particular.
Mr Green said that the Corner Inlet Men’s Shed originally came under the
auspices of Foster Community House, but having become incorporated in 2015
it was now in the process of taking over the licence for the Men’s Shed site
at Foster Station Park.
“In 2013, with the generous assistance of the South Gippsland Shire, though
a grant of $10,000, we successfully applied for a grant of $60,000 for the
construction of a new shed in Foster Station Park on the old railway station
platform,” he said.
The shed is now almost complete, missing only the installation of tactile
tiles for the ramp.
There are currently 25 active members, who attend the Corner Inlet Men’s
Shed on Mondays and/or Fridays.
The major physical activity of the Shed is woodwork, with a metalwork shop
proposed as a future development, but socialising is equally important.
Fundraising is mostly through Bunnings sausage sizzles, augmented by craft
sales during the Foster craft market season and commissioned work.
The Shed has just received a grant of $5000 from the Department of Social
Services towards the purchase of a mower.
“Future plans include formal training in the use of workshop equipment to
the community at large, the establishment of a women’s evening/day and a
separate session wherein members can work on their personal projects. We
also want to open the social area to other community groups for meetings,
etc,” said Mr Green.
Mr Hyett said that he had joined his local Men’s Shed upon retirement.
Having moved from Melbourne not long before, he found it an excellent way to
meet people in the Venus Bay/Tarwin Lower area - and then beyond via the
There’s an open invitation for all men to come and share in the camaraderie
of their local Men’s Shed. Across South Gippsland, there are Men’s Sheds at
Meeniyan, Leongatha, Korumburra, Mirboo North and Nyora, as well as Foster
and Venus Bay/Tarwin Lower. The newest Men’s Shed is at Sandy Point.
Majority want war memorial cross
FOSTER and District Historical
Society’s Great War Memorial Cross is still looking for a permanent home.
After the historical society’s successful exhibition, ‘South Gippsland at
War,’ many people suggested the war memorial cross and accompanying honour
scrolls which were a part of the exhibition should be on permanent public
Foster’s main hall, the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre (FWMAC), was
suggested as the logical place for this public display.
The hall committee requested the historical society and RSL run a survey to
ascertain community interest in this suggestion, and this was duly done.
A total of 420 people completed the survey, with 408 in favour of the cross
going on display in the FWMAC, 8 being neutral and 4 against.
Representatives of the historical society and the RSL presented the results
to the hall committee, but much to their surprise the survey results were
rejected and the move to the FWMAC was knocked back.
Buckets and bouquets for
Shire's proposed budget
ONLY half as many written submissions as last year (13 compared to 25) were
made to the 2016-2017 South Gippsland Shire Council Proposed Budget, perhaps
because the rate rise has been capped at an average 2.5 %, much lower than
the rate rises of recent years.
Most of the submissions were not overly critical of the Proposed Budget, but
some expressed general dissatisfaction, including with the level of rates,
which in many cases have gone up substantially more than 2.5 %.
Approximately half a dozen people elected to speak to their submissions at a
special hearing last Wednesday.
One of the biggest bouquets was presented to Council by Michael Lester on
behalf of Prom Coast Arts Council and the South Gippsland Arts Alliance. “We
couldn’t be happier,” he said, praising Council for allocating $20,000
towards developing an Arts and Culture Policy and Strategy. He impressed
upon Council the importance of the arts to the wellbeing of the community as
well as from a cultural tourism point of view.
Susan Hanson’s submission was also positive. She wrote to express support
for “the proposed long term expenditure on a community and council precinct
including new principal library”. She also supported “the proposed
expenditure to revitalise the entry to Leongatha and Bair St; these appear
to be key elements to achieving a more thriving and attractive township”.
She said she had participated in a community workshop in 2015 and was
pleased to see the extent to which the community priorities expressed than
had been brought forward into the proposed budget for 16/17 and the long
term financial plan.
Such enthusiasm was in sharp contrast to the submission from Vincent Morfuni,
who took Council to task over a number of issues, including the annual
expenditure of $432,000 on a media unit [a ‘propaganda unit’ according to Mr
Morfuni], the increasing cost of staff, the unnecessarily high cost of a new
municipal office, the favouritism given to Leongatha in the capital budget,
and the too-tight timeframe for the submission process. He concluded by
recommending higher expenditure on Venus Bay (where he owns property) and
asking for reconsideration of the 200% rating differential on vacant land.
Port Welshpool land owner and developer Roger Harvey also asked Council to
reconsider the vacant land rating differential. He suggested Council
reinstate a Special Rate for land in areas suffering a downturn in the
One of the most comprehensive submissions was that of Foster resident Meg
Knight, who also chose to speak to her submission. Ms Knight has a strong
background in corporate finance and regularly engages with Council over
financial matters, speaking articulately and forcefully. In her wide-ranging
submission she covered zero budgeting and overall transparency, queries
about the transition from HACS funding to CHSP funding, employee costs,
council managed enterprises and infrastructure.
Ms Knight expressed disquiet that the 2016/17 Budget has an increase in
staff numbers and costs, while “last year we were assured that the
restructuring of council staff would result in a more efficient and
productive workforce”. She said that the shire’s employee costs of 44% of
expenditure compared unfavourably with the average costs for a large rural
shire of just 36% of expenditure. “Why are we out of kilter with most other
rural shires?” she asked. “Has Council undertaken a cost benefit analysis of
which is better – employee or contractor?”
Ms Knight argued against Council’s decision to run caravan parks and Coal
Creek. She went through the figures, concluding that “Council has not come
within a bull’s roar of making an operating profit” at the caravan parks and
at Coal Creek “ongoing losses of at least $500,000 p.a. make me shudder”.
(Cr Hill later pointed out that the loss was now closer to $300,000 p.a.)
She suggested Council think more laterally about the need – or lack thereof
– for a new municipal office. “The answer to a perceived problem is not
always to build a new building,” she asserted, recommending option papers on
future buildings and services be prepared and discussed by Council in open
Finally, Ms Knight said that ratepayers expect the budget to be transparent,
with performance indicators on services based on financial measures and
social value as well as administrative efficiency, and “we expect to and
from Council serious, open, respectful debate on all financial matters”.
Ms Knight did not say to whom she was referring in her last, pointed remark,
but it is no secret that council debate has been far from civil of late,
with councillors all too ready to swap insults rather than arguments.
Several members of the public have also had to be reminded to keep their
Foster ratepayer Ralph Gallagher drew attention to this point in his
presentation last Wednesday. He said that Council had been “dishevelled” of
late and he was concerned about its reputation. He warned that if such
behaviour continued there was a danger of the council being sacked and an
administrator brought in.
Mayor Bob Newton thanked him for his “honesty and frankness”.
Mr Gallagher’s submission focused on the rate rise, which he said was unfair
to a lot of people, being substantially more than the much-touted 2.5%. He
also had concerns about the “community budgeting” process and the
planned-for big spend on new municipal offices.
The presentations from both Lillian Brittain of ‘Spring is South Gippsland’
and Paul Katsieris of the Walkerville Ratepayers and Residents Association
centred on funding requests.
Ms Brittain said that with Council support the ‘Spring is South Gippsland’
project had fulfilled its objective of a website supporting horticulture as
a valuable social, small business and tourism element within the shire’s
beautiful natural landscape. She asked that Council recognise the initiative
as a priority project, worthy of support into 2017 and beyond.
Mr Katsieris asked Council to consider a pedestrian safety path along Acacia
Road, the main street (also known as Fish Creek – Walkerville Road)
alongside Promontory View Estate in Walkerville. He asked for money to be
set aside in the 2016/17 Budget and for $20,000 towards a feasibility study.
By contrast, Walkerville resident Don Adkins objected to some council
expenditure, specifically $130,000 budgeted for roadworks and seawall
maintenance at Walkerville. He called for more community consultation on the
project, which he said was only favoured by the 11 or so members of the
select Walkerville Foreshore Reserve Committee of Management. He said that
far from improving the area the work would restrict or even deny access to
At a special meeting on June 1 Council will decide on the merits of the
various submissions and whether the budget should be changed accordingly.
The budget will be presented to Council for adoption on June 22 and a copy
of the adopted budget submitted to the Minister on June 23.