Police Association says stations could close

Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles

FRESH concerns have been raised for the future of single-officer police stations in the Ballarat region.

Police Association of Victoria secretary Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles said single-officer stations in close proximity to 16-hour stations could come under threat from the Victoria Police blue paper.

The concerns come after Fairfax Media revealed two single-officer stations have remained unoccupied since closing in 2010.

The single-officer stations at Cressy, near Colac, and Piangil, in the Mallee, were among eight unoccupied stations reviewed in 2012 and given a commitment by Chief Commissioner Ken Lay that they would remain open.

But more than two years later, both stations remain empty.

There are currently nine single-officer stations in the Ballarat police service area.

“Ironically, while we have Liberal and Labor saying they will not close a police station, the Chief Commissioner does have the ability to not resource a station which effectively closes it,” Detective Senior Sergeant Iddles said.

“The station is technically shut but not officially closed.” Detective Senior Sergeant Iddles said single-officer police stations provided a wealth of intelligence on any given small community.

“Once a community knows there is no police officer living in the area or working at the local station, it’s easy for criminal activity to increase because the chances of being detected are remote,” he said.

A Victoria Police spokesman said the rostering of police resources was currently being reviewed in some areas.

“As our Blue Paper suggests, we need to ensure the rostering of police resources reflects service demand,” the spokesman said.

“In some areas, this is being reviewed or has been reviewed.

“The location of many current police stations reflect an outdated model of allocating police according to population, not crime rates or emerging crime trends.

“Many stations are based on 19th century patterns with a day’s horse ride between them.”

The spokesman said there were no current plans to close any stations in the Ballarat police service area.

Both the Victorian Coalition and Labor have pledged to not close any police stations.

– With The Age

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Student says her needs were ‘pushed aside’

STUDENT: Cassandra Wright is profoundly deaf. Picture: ANDI YU

A STUDENT at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus says she has suffered “institutional discrimination” because of inadequate support for her needs as a deaf person.

Cassandra Wright, 33, is in the final semester of aBachelor of Arts degree majoring in sociology and history but says she is unable to complete her studies.

Shepulled out of two history subjectsbecause she could not follow teachinggiven via video conference.

“There has been a definite shift away from face to face classes,” Ms Wright said.

Ms Wrightrelies heavily on face-to-face communication because she has tolip-read, which she says is too difficult on video.

Shesigned up to have her lectures transcribed, but found there was a four-day delay meaningshe fellbehind.

Ms Wright sent emails to her lecturers and to the university’s Equality and Diversity centre, but did not receive the support she hoped for.

“I’m tired of the fact that I can just be pushed aside in terms of my needs. I don’t want any special favours, I just want equal footing,” shesaid.

“I find La Trobe University to besomewhat hostile in the sense that there’s not adequate support for people in my situation.

“I don’t feel welcome at my local university anymore.”

Ms Wright said the increasingmove towards online learning meant thoseneeding face-to-face tuition were being left behind.

She does not begrudge teaching staff for not providing adequate support but said they were unable tobecause of pay and time constraints.

La Trobe University Bendigo campus head Rob Stephenson said the university could not comment on any student’s personal circumstances but that the institution was “strongly committed to supporting students with a disability”.

“We currently have more than 1000 students with a disability across the university who receive ongoing support,” he said.

“Supports are tailored to the specific requirements of each student.

“We provide a range of services including note-taking, Auslan interpreting, real-time captioning, lecture transcripts, additional time in examinations and extensions on assignments.”

Mr Stephenson said the provision of online learning and “flexible delivery modes” enabled students to participate whopreviously would have been excluded.

“When these modes of delivery provide difficulties for students we have a commitment to providing alternative access to this material via lecture transcripts, real time captioning, note-takers and interpreting services.

“In addition many lecturers meet one-on-one with students to ensure they don’t miss any important content. There are many more flexible options that are available in supporting disadvantaged students.

“While there is some material delivered remotely, the university is moving away from non-facilitated video-conferences. In other words, students will be in the room for important tutorials and workshops.”

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Shellharbour City Stadium reopening delayed for extra works

Shellharbour City Stadium.ShellharbourCity Council had delayed the reopening of Shellharbour City Stadium to allow for additional works to the building’s upgrade.

The stadium has been undergoing a complete roof replacement since June this year and was due to reopen on September 30.

It will now remain closed until November 1. However a council spokeswoman said allowances would be made in the program of works to accommodate two regional and international competitions scheduled for next month.

Regular competitions due to begin in October have been postponed until November.

Problems with the stadium’s old leaky roof dated back more than a decade, with the council losing hundreds of thousands of dollars through lost revenue, temporary solutions and failed legal action against the architects and project managers who constructed the stadium.

In November 2013 a Facebook page titled ‘‘Fix Shellharbour Stadium’s Leaking Roof’’ was set up after the indoor stadium had been closed for 55 days in the previous two years due to wet weather. Within days the page had attracted more than 600 ‘‘likes’’. In April this year the council unanimously accepted a tender worth $1.168 million to replace the roof.

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Medicare plan to boost workforce

A HEALTH program to increase the workforce at Mount Isa’s general practices has been formed.

Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health director Sabina Knight, Mount Isa’s GP Super Clinic Dr Bharathan Kanagaiyan, and Central and North West Qld Medicare Local chairman Phil Barwick announce a new plan to bolster the workforce in general practices in the region.

The GP Supervisor and Registrar Education Support Program was developed by Central and North West Queensland Medicare Local and the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health.

Central and North West Qld Medicare Local chairman Phil Barwick said Mount Isa’s GP numbers were currently adequate, but they generally faced “ebbs and flows” in workforce availability.

Mr Barwick said the program will help GPs maintain and grow their registrar workforce, especially in areas where shortages are worse.

A medical education director will be appointed to work with general practices and training providers to ensure the region is a destination of choice for registrars, he said.

“The next stage in the program will be the development of an academy to coordinate high quality group training in the region,” Mr Barwick said.

Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health director Professor Sabina Knight said the medical education director position is still to be filled.

She said training assets available include experienced GPs, supportive health professionals and the resources of MICRRH.

Resources included accommodation infrastructure, clinical academics, broad student body, research and interdisciplinary professional development,” Professor Knight said.

“There is a wide scope for education, which incorporates Aboriginal health, general practice, rural generalism, emergency and retrieval medicine, occupational health, public health, eHealth and Telehealth.”

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Hunter projects on ‘Resources for Regions’ shortlist

Concept images for The Levee project. Pic: Maitland City Council. IMPROVEMENTS to Newcastle’s coastline that could prove a major tourist drawcard, the completion of Maitland’s Levee project and a $20million upgrade of Muswellbrook Hospital are among 14 projects shortlisted for government funding.

Councils and Maitland MP Robyn Parker welcomed the Hunter-dominated list released yesterday, with those on it able to lodge detailed applications to be in the running for a slice of the $89 million on offer through the Resources for Regions program.

Half of those on the shortlist are Hunter projects, with the $20million stage two upgrade of Muswellbrook Hospital the most expensive.

The cash is for mining affected communities, with indirect impacts taken into account.

Cessnock and Maitland local government areas were eligible to apply to the program for the first time this round, along with Newcastle, Singleton and Muswellbrook. Lake Macquarie is still blocked.

Ms Parker said she was delighted Maitland City Council’s $9.9million application for the final stage of The Levee project had made the list.

Another is Newcastle council’s $12 million coastal infrastructure improvements, which include work to the South Newcastle seawall.

Acting lord mayor Brad Luke said the money would help the council fast track much of the Bathers Way project.

‘‘It would be a true tourist attraction,’’ he said.

Singleton and Cessnock councils were shortlisted for a joint application to upgrade the intersection of Broke and Hermitage roads at Pokolbin.

Each could get about $8million from the government and kick in their own funds for the project, which also includes the tourist facilities and an on-road cycleway connecting the Hunter Expressway with Broke Road.

However, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner cautioned that being shortlisted was not a guarantee and applicants needed to provide economic appraisals and project justifications.

A panel that includes Infrastructure NSW representatives will assess the applications, with those successful to be named later this year.

Broken Hill- $5 million for Broken Hill City Council to refurbish the Civic Centre;

Cessnock- $8.6 million to Cessnock Council, to upgrade Hermitage Road and the Broke Road intersection;

Cobar- $4.1 million for Cobar Shire Council for sealing Whitbarrow Way for mining use;

Cobar-$5 million for Cobar Shire Council for the replacement of the twin pipeline from Nyngan to Cobar, Stage 2;

Lithgow- $4.2 million for Lithgow Council for the Cullen Bullen Sewage System and Waste Water Treatment Plant;

Maitland -$9.9 million for Maitland City Council for the renovation of Maitland High Street (Stage 2);

Mid-Western- $14 million for the Mid-Western Shire Council to develop an alternative access road to the Hunter from Bylong to Wollar;

Muswellbrook- $4.2 million for Muswellbrook Shire Council for traffic safety improvement works to mining affected roads;

Muswellbrook- $20 million for Muswellbrook Hospital Redevelopment Stage 2 – clinical services;

Narrabri- $4.4 million for Narrabri Shire Council for the Timber Bridge Replacement Program;

Narrabri- $9.6 million for Narrabri Shire Council for the Boggabri Sewage System Augmentation;

Newcastle- $12 million for Newcastle City Council for the renovation of coastal infrastructure, with priority to be given to road connectivity and sea wall restoration work;

Singleton- $7.5 million for Singleton Hospital for a public and private health facility – imaging, ambulatory and primary health care; and

Singleton- $8.1 million to Singleton Council, to upgrade Hermitage Road and the Broke Road intersection.