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The News Headlines

Wednesday May 25, 2016

Letters to the Editor

From The Mirror,
May 15, 1996

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 South Gippsland Secondary College
investigating school name change

• College students suggest a name change for South Gippsland Secondary College.

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 McPhee.
“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. “ 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 PS.
“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 Secondary College.
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 (Student Leaders).








Men’s Sheds:
a movement for
men’s health

• 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 Cluster meetings.
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 in FWMAC

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 display.
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 market.
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 forum.
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 presentations polite.
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 visitors.
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.


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