Throw-aways a deadly diet for birds

CELIA Furt has been “horrified” by the cast-offs being thrown to seagulls at Hastings.

While on one of her regular trips “to say hi to the pelicans” near the boat ramp, Ms Furt’s attention was drawn to a group of seagulls feeding in the grass.

She discovered they were eating loaves of mouldy bread.

“People still think that feeding seagulls, pigeons and other birds, is good for them. They think that they are feeding them but, instead, they are killing them,” Ms Furt said.

“If they want to feed birds, they must only feed them what’s right for them, what they can digest and it’s not human food waste.

Human bread is poison to any bird, as they cannot digest it, it stays in their throats and crops and they die horribly.”

Ms Furt filled two rubbish bags with the 10 mouldy loaves.

A photographer, Ms Furt also took pictures of the seagulls and crows “fighting for a hamburger cover” outside the towns McDonalds outlet.

Again, she felt compelled to pick up the rubbish that was not suitable food for birds.

Ms Furt hopes her pictures and story will make people realise “that feeding the birds with human food is bad for them … we need to be a lot more careful about what we do with rubbish”.

First published in the Western Port News – 24 February 2021

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Victorian coronavirus rulebreakers warned as Melbourne woman charged with attacking police officer over mask

A growing group of anti-maskers have been “baiting” and antagonising Victorian police, and in one instance smashed the head of a female officer into concrete until she was concussed, authorities say.

Police said two female police officers approached a 38-year-old woman, who was not wearing a face covering, in the Frankston area on Monday night.

After questioning the woman about why she was not wearing one, police allege she pushed one officer and struck the other in the head.

“After a confrontation and being assaulted by that woman, those police officers went to ground and there was a scuffle,” Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said.

“During that scuffle, this 38-year-old woman smashed the head of the [26-year-old] policewoman several times into a concrete area on the ground.”

Police said the constable was taken to Frankston Hospital with “significant head injuries”.

The woman’s alleged assault left the young police officer with a concussion and a missing clump of hair, Police Association of Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said.

“The offender had a clump of our member’s hair in her hands and said to our member ‘what’s it like to have your hair in my hands’ or words to that effect,” he said.

“That’s just horrible conduct — it’s not human-like to be quite honest.”

Police have charged the alleged attacker with nine offences, including two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and one count of recklessly causing injury.

She had no previous criminal history and was granted bail to appear before the Frankston Magistrates’ Court on March 31, 2021.

Details of the alleged attack were revealed as Victoria announced there would be more police and Army resources and new fines targeting people who did not self-isolate when directed.

A new $4,659 on-the-spot fine will apply for people who breach self-isolation orders, but “particularly selfish behaviour” and repeated breaches can now attract a $20,000 penalty, Premier Daniel Andrews said.

An additional 250 police officers will also join the roughly 1,500 personnel who are already working on enforcing restrictions around Victoria.

Mr Gatt said he did not know why the 38-year-old’s alleged response to being questioned was so strong.

But he said it was just one example of people refusing to comply with restrictions and antagonising police.

“This was a particularly violent occurrence but our members have been stood up by smartarses around the state for five minutes of fame in front of a camera,” he said.

“Frontline police and emergency service workers shouldn’t have to go through this.

“We should be holding them in the highest of regards and supporting them as they keep us safe — not dragging them to the ground and smashing their head into the concrete.”

Chief Commissioner Patton said in the past week police had seen a trend of people calling themselves “sovereign citizens” who “don’t think the law applies to them”.

“We’ve seen them at checkpoints baiting police, not providing a name and address,” he said.

“On at least four occasions in the last week, we’ve had to smash the windows of cars and pull people out to provide details because they weren’t adhering to the Chief Health Officer’s guidelines, they weren’t providing their name and address.”

Commissioner Patton said the groups were small “but nonetheless concerning”.

“People have to absolutely understand there are consequences for your actions and if you’re not doing the right thing, we will not hesitate to issue infringements, to arrest you, to detain you where it’s appropriate,” he said.

“It’s not something we want to be doing, but it is what we will do and it has been occurring in the past week.”

The Premier said the attack on the officer in Frankston was “fundamentally disgusting”

“Police are out there, putting themselves in harm’s way, they run towards the danger when the rest of us wouldn’t.”

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Anni Hagber: Flux

Anni Hagber: Flux

Anni Hagber: FluxAnni Hagber: Flux

Flux explores processes of unpredictable change and abstraction which work as independent co-collaborators alongside myself as the artist and the materials utilised.

Combining traditional ceramic materials and waste steel and glass through the ceramic firing process these works challenge notions of waste and capture the dynamic and autonomous interactions between the materials and their environment.

❊ When & Where ❊

Date/s: Friday 26th March 2021 – Saturday 17th April 2021

Times: Thursday and Friday 11 am – 6 pm Saturday and Sunday 12 pm-5 pm

❊ Venue ❊

 Alternating Current Art Space  Events 6
⊜ 248 High Street Windsor | Map

Alternating Current Art Space248 High Street, Windsor, , 3181

✆ Event: | Venue: 03 9525 2459

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❊ Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update ❊

As Victoria takes action to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), events may be cancelled at short notice. Please confirm details before making plans | Disclaimer

❊ Web Links ❊

Anni Hagber: Flux

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Flower industry expects losses ‘in the millions’ as Victoria’s snap COVID lockdown affects weddings and Valentine’s Day

Trentham flower grower Cheryl Roehrich spent a year gearing up for one of her biggest days of the year; Valentine’s Day.

She had an abundance of freshly cut flowers to sell, and five weddings planned, when it all came to a sudden halt when the State Government announced a snap five-day coronavirus lockdown on Friday afternoon.

“At one o’clock, when it was announced, the industry went into a spin,” Ms Roehrich said.

“Flowers were already prepared, ready to go for weddings, greenery had been picked and trucks were already delivering the product — it’s done a lot of damage to our business.”

Eighty per cent of her stock has been lost over the weekend, including flowers like hydrangeas, proteas and greenery.

Ms Roehrich is now questioning her next step.

“How many times can a small business take a cop like this and back it up again?” she said.

“After the first lockdown, we were very hesitant to replant for the next season.

In Melbourne’s CBD florist Liz Ricci said the new lockdown and five-kilometre travel bubble had killed the foot traffic that she heavily relied on.

“We’ve sold less than 30 per cent of what we would have initially sold,” she said.

Ms Ricci said online orders were still proceeding, but it was not enough.

“Some of this will just be waste,” she said.

Flowers Industry Australia chief executive Anna Jabour said it was hard to put a figure on how much had been lost over the weekend, but expected it would be in the millions.

“On Valentine’s Day alone, any florist can make three months’ trade in one day,” she said.

“It also really does make a huge difference for shopfront florists when they can’t have that foot traffic going by.”

Ms Jabour said despite losses over the weekend, the industry had been tracking well.

She said the loss of exports during COVID-19 meant local production had picked up.

Ms Jabour said many growers were looking for compensation for losses over the weekend, but in the meantime, they have been asking Victorians to support local small businesses.

And it is something Melbourne florist Shane Sipolis is noticing.

“On the weekend, everything went dead — the phones stopped ringing,” he said.

“Then at about lunchtime on Sunday, our loyal clientele got on board and ordered some flowers from home, and got us out of some hot water.

“We didn’t have that Valentine’s Day crowd, so we’re left with about a thousand rose stems.

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Three men arrested after hoon meet in Melbourne

Three men including a drug-driver are facing charges after a hoon event in Melbourne overnight which saw about 100 cars gather.

Officers swarmed on the crowd allegedly performing and observing burnouts at Carrum Downs just before 11pm last night.

Police had been monitoring the group for some time, Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett said today.

“We are really active in monitoring the behaviours in young people, particularly these drivers,” Asst Comm Barrett said.
“A number of males have already been processed by police and at least three vehicles have been seized.”
He said he expected more arrests to be made and more car seized over the coming days.
Police broke up the meet at Frankston Gardens Industrial Estate and believe the group had originally gathered in Heatherton before travelling south to Carrum Downs.
From the industrial estate, which is known for attracting hoon gatherings, police, including the AirWing pursued and arrested the three men.

The first man returned a positive drug test and was arrested.

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Tributes flow for music entrepreneur Michael Gudinski after he dies in Melbourne aged 68

Musicians Jimmy Barnes, Ed Sheeran and Kylie Minogue have led the tributes for music legend Michael Gudinski after he died peacefully at his Melbourne home.

Gudinski came to fame after forming the hugely successful Australian record company Mushroom Records in 1972 when he was just 20.

His roster of artists has included Kylie Minogue, Jimmy Barnes, Danni Minogue, Eskimo Joe and 1970s legends Skyhooks, among many others.

He died on Monday night aged 68.

Barnes released an emotional statement via Twitter, saying Gudinski stood by him on both his darkest and happiest days.

“Today the heart of Australian music was ripped out. I felt it, my family felt it, the music business felt it , the world felt it,” he said.

“Michael was the rock I reached for when life tried to wash me away. He never closed his door or his heart to me and my family.

“We will stand by his family just like he stood by ours. I loved Michael, always will.”

Singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran posted a photo of the pair arm in arm on his Instagram page with the simple yet powerful caption: “I’ll miss you mate”.

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Rescuers reveal desperate fight to save drowning siblings from notorious rip at Apollo Bay

King Fue spent the first 15 years of her life living beside the sea in Samoa, where she would swim with her brothers on most days in calm, protected bays.

Anton McMurray grew up in the mountains of the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, but spent his summers surfing with his brother at the beaches along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.

Last Monday, on January 25, these strangers found themselves grasping each other and gasping for air in a desperate fight for their lives as a ferocious ocean rip tried to drag them under and pull them further out to sea.

Around the nation, similar terrifying experiences have cast a pall over summer, with 40 people losing their lives in Australian beach tragedies since December 1, and many more being pulled from the sea close to death.

But much can be learned from the fateful encounter of King and Anton.

This is the story of how four siblings were rescued from the watery clutches of death by two brothers from another family, who risked their own lives to save them.

It is also the story of how a makeshift triage team of family, friends and other bystanders on the beach flew into action, helping from the shallows, administering lifesaving first aid and communicating with emergency services to give those pulled from the water a fighting chance.

In short, it is the inside story of how a day at the beach became a fight for life — and what it took to fend off tragedy.

King Fue doesn’t have many opportunities to visit the coast these days, as the 25-year-old flight attendant now lives in a housing estate in Melbourne’s far-northern suburbs.

So on Monday last week, King and her family were full of enthusiasm when they decided to make a spontaneous trip down the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay.

They had never been before, but had heard it was beautiful, so they packed a picnic and hit the road. Two and a half hours later, they arrived at Marengo, an unpatrolled beach west of Apollo Bay’s main swimming area.

King said that some family members, eager to feel the splash of salt water on their skin, rushed into the water while others set up the picnic under a shady tree.

Within moments, three members of King’s family — her brother Junior and sister Vaisaele, both 18, and her 14-year-old sister Agnes — were caught in a strong rip at the mouth of an estuary.

She instinctively rushed into the water to help them.

Within minutes they were all struggling to keep their heads above water as they were being swept out to sea.

By the end of the day, King’s siblings were in hospital and she was on her way home, in shock and exhausted.

If sculptor Anton McMurray, 47, and his brother Myron, 41, had not been nearby with their friends and family, that could very well have been the outcome for the Fue family last Monday.

It was soon after taking this photograph and making a video call to her brother to show him how beautiful the beach was, that King realised her siblings were not having fun in the water, as she had thought, but were actually in real trouble, struggling against a rip.

“All I wanted to do was to get in the water and save them,” King said.

“I got fabric so I could try and rope them in but the fabric wasn’t long enough, and then I was in the current.

“I said, ‘I can’t get to you but I need you to float’.”

King estimates her brother and sisters had been struggling in the water for about 10 minutes before she reached them. She had rushed into the water so quickly she was still wearing her dress, and it began to weigh her down.

“It was just the rip, no matter how hard we tried to come to shore it was just pushing us back,” King said.

Then, like a miracle, a group of bystanders — or “angels”, as King describes them — appeared on the beach.

As fate would have it, those “angels” had sufficient medical skills and surf-lifesaving knowledge to make it through the mammoth effort required to save King and her siblings.

But the ocean did not give in without a fearsome fight.

Anton and Myron McMurray, both strong swimmers, heard the Fue family’s calls for help and made a snap decision to attempt a rescue at the notorious Marengo rip.

Everyone knows the cruel irony that it is often the people who rush into raging surf to rescue others who end up drowning due to exhaustion.

Amid the frantic battle for survival unfolding just a few kilometres from one of Victoria’s most popular beaches, both the rescuers and those they were trying to save knew the odds of them all surviving were slim.

As the Fue and McMurray families and other beachgoers watched anxiously from shore, Anton and Myron ploughed through the ocean and reached Vaisaele and Agnes first.

Anton said they managed to pull the girls from the rip and get them back to the shallows, where their friends were waiting to carry the teenagers to shore.

Both girls were breathing but Vaisaele was unresponsive.

Friends and family of the McMurray brothers and other bystanders immediately used their lifesaving and nursing skills to administer first aid as they waited for an ambulance and lifesavers from Apollo Bay to arrive.

Rushing straight back out into the waves again, the brothers finally reached King and Junior, who by that stage were exhausted and incapable of keeping their heads above water.

A friend attempted to help with the rescue by using a stand-up paddle board but was unable to reach them in the rough conditions.

Anton took hold of King and Myron supported Junior. But as they all struggled, Anton and Myron realised they, too, were quickly running out of energy.

It was at this point, Anton said, that his training as a pool lifeguard really helped him to keep calm and make decisions during the chaos of the rescue.

“They were climbing on top of us and pushing us under, just to try to get a breath of air.

“Then of course we’re getting exhausted by that stage and I was really worried about my brother.

Back on shore, as Myron’s partner, a nurse, and others focused on trying to help the girls, Anton and Myron’s friends’ children realised that the brothers’ lives were now also in danger.

The children grabbed their boogie boards and alerted another adult in their group who was able to swim far enough out to skim the boards across the water to Myron and Junior.

“It was lucky that the kids thought we needed boogie boards, and they ran back and got them,” Anton said.

In the children’s swimming lessons, they had learned that boogie boards could be used to save people from drowning. That early life lesson proved crucial.

After Myron got Junior to shore, he returned with the boogie boards to help his brother.

Anton said that once King knew her siblings were safe, she remained calm despite her exhaustion and the terror of still being caught in the rip.

Eventually, in a last heroic effort to save King and themselves, the exhausted brothers used the boogie boards to “crash” onto some nearby rocks using the force of the waves to propel them.

“I stood back in disbelief.”

Anton said the whole rescue scene on the beach reminded him of a movie set, with everyone quick to act and pitch in.

Two nurses happened to be among those helping, including a local woman who is a critical care nurse.

“It was incredible everyone knew what to do,” he said.

“I’m an experienced surfer, my brother and I have both done surf-lifesaving.

“There [were] nurses amongst us and three of us had done workplace first aid.

He said it proved how important it was for people to make sure they had the basic skills to deal with emergencies, and that it was sheer luck that a team of people so well-equipped to deal with the situation happened to be on the beach at the time.

“We’re not heroes, we didn’t do anything amazing outside of taking opportunities that have been offered [such as] doing some first aid courses,” he said.

“If you like to go to the beach, you’ve learned how to swim and importantly, identify rips.

After emergency services arrived, Vaisaele was airlifted to Geelong Hospital and Junior and Agnes were taken to hospital in ambulances.

King’s family swapped contact details with the McMurrays and the families have kept in touch.

Anton said the “big, beautiful family” was gushing with tears and gratitude.

Anton said he hoped that speaking about last week’s incident would remind beachgoers that it was vital to learn how to safely navigate the ocean rather than be afraid of it.

“It’s not about fear, it’s a beautiful playground we come into contact with, it’s a wild place,” he said.

He said he supported a proposal from the Apollo Bay Surf Lifesaving Club to build a centre in the town dedicated to teaching people practical skills, including how to identify rips and how to enter the water safely.

At the time of the rescue, Apollo Bay volunteer lifeguard Thom Cookes, who helped to save the Fue family, said they had been swept out to sea “very, very quickly” by the notorious rip at Marengo.

King said her family members had all recovered now and were extremely grateful to be alive.

“We are very religious people,” she said.

“I believe we were given a second chance in life by God and he sent those angels that were on the beach to help us through our toughest time.”

She said the children in her family had said they would not swim in the ocean again.

“I told them they can still swim but we need to ask questions about where it’s safe to swim, especially at a new place,” King said.

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Victorian mental health royal commission final report finds system operates in crisis mode

Victoria’s mental health system operates in crisis mode, has “catastrophically failed to live up to expectations” and must be rebuilt, a damning report from the state’s mental health royal commission has found.

There need to be major changes to stop hospital emergency departments being entry points to assistance and a boost to community-based services which are currently underfunded, the report says.

Among the final report’s 65 recommendations, outlined in a mammoth five-volume report, are the phasing out of seclusion and restraints treatments over the next decade, and making compulsory treatments an option of last resort.

Premier Daniel Andrews has vowed to implement all the recommendations, but is yet to work out an estimate of how much that might cost and has ruled out a special levy in the upcoming budget.

The royal commission’s chair, Penny Armytage, said more than 12,500 submissions from individuals and organisations were received over the two years.

The report said the system was “over-reliant” on medication, and the COVID-19 pandemic and last year’s bushfires had highlighted the system’s failures.

Demand has now overtaken the capacity of the system, prompting the royal commission to recommend up to 60 community-based adult mental health services be established across the state, with another 22 high-level treatment services delivered in partnership with local hospitals.

The report says there should also be 13 services specific to young people who can access those services up until their 26th birthday.

All of these services should have 24-hour care and phone service available.

The commission has also recommended triple-0 calls regarding mental health crises be directed to ambulance officers instead of police, in an effort to provide a care response.

The state would be divided into eight regions, with each to have at least one top-level emergency department equipped to deal with mental health crisis and addiction treatment.

Access to services in rural and regional areas needs to be improved in order to stop people having to travel vast distances to get help.

To address the gap in services in the rural and regional areas, the commission calls for incentives to attract and retain workers in the bush.

Every year around one in five Victorians experience mental health issues.

About 3 per cent of the population — roughly 200,000 people — have a “severe” mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

The report has also recommended that 2,000 of the homes being built as part of Victoria’s $5.3 billion public housing project be constructed as supported housing for Victorians living with mental illness.

The final report can be viewed in full on the royal commission’s website.

The major reform is likely to cost billions of dollars.

The report has recommended Victoria work closely with the Commonwealth and other states to properly implement change.

Mr Andrews said his government was committed to providing better care.

“These recommendations will serve as our blueprint for delivering the biggest social reform in a generation: building our mental health — from the ground up.”

In a press conference later, he said the essence of the report was that health services had to provide care much earlier and much closer to home.

“Local early, not hospital late,” he said.

“It’s all about keeping people well.”

Asked whether the government had an estimate on how much implementing the recommendations would cost, the Premier said he did not, but would provide more details about funding in the budget.

“It will take some time but this is not a cost, it’s a profound investment in a system that will be there when you need it,” he said.

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Nomads, retirees, and jobless city people make an effort to bolster harvest picker workforce

Cathy Downie has been picking grapes in Mildura, in Victoria’s Sunraysia region, for just over a week, but has learnt quickly what makes a good bunch.

“You do what they say is ‘trimming’. So you take off the little ones, the dead ones, the ones that are bruised, tidy up your bunch, and then just put it in the bucket and start the process again,” she said.

The 57-year-old spent the past 30 years living and working in Sydney as a recruitment consultant until she lost her job due to the pandemic.

“I was sitting around wondering what am I going to do now and I thought what better way to travel around Australia, picking fruit and vegies,” she said.

“I took advantage of getting my super out and bought a camper van so I don’t even need to worry about accommodation.”

Ms Downie is part of a growing number of grey nomads taking up seasonal harvest jobs, partly lured by the chance to change their lifestyle and travel.

“Just hearing some of the stories from farmers around Australia and how much they relied on backpackers from overseas, that really resonated with me,” Ms Downie said.

“I’m in a Facebook group of 11,000 women travelling solo around Australia and I just encourage them to take up and do what I’m doing,” she said.

Citrus farmer Kevin Cock from Buronga in south-west New South Wales said grey nomads were a reliable part of his workforce for the past 10 years.

“Most of them set off around Australia, they land in the caravan park, you put your name in there and see if anyone wants work,” Mr Cock said.

He said with Australia’s international border closed the older worker are helping to fill jobs once taken by backpackers and workers from the Pacific.

“Most of them come out having never had experience, so you’ve got to do a bit of training. But they are skilled people,” he said.

“I’ve had accountants, I’ve had nurses, I’ve had engineers, I’ve had the lot. They’re dedicated.”

The Victorian government offers a $2,500 cash bonus to entice domestic workers to pick fruit and vegetables.

The federal government is also encouraging Aussies to move to the regions by offering up to $6,000 to cover things like transport and accommodation, but few have taken it up.

“The last update we had about the federal government’s relocation assistance program was about 500 people,” said NFF Horticulture Council executive officer Tyson Cattle.

He said the incentives were generous, but more needed to be done to attract a domestic workforce to farming.

“There’s plenty of money available but it has always been a hard one for the industry to crack, a domestic audience in terms of harvest labour,” Mr Cattle said.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) confirmed this week that labour shortages in the horticulture sector have led to a fall in horticulture production across the country.

According to ABARES, the lack of supply in overseas harvest workers will result in a forecast drop in fruit production by 17 per cent and vegetable production by around 2 per cent.

Meanwhile, Cathy Downie said she had not only found a new career, but a whole new way of life.

“I could say to anyone out there give it a go. You get your exercise, you’re working outside in the fresh air, you get money for food and petrol. I love it,” she said.

“This is my lifestyle now so I would say to people give it a go, you won’t look back.”

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Music to liven up Frankston

ALTHOUGH the annual Waterfront Festival was cancelled this year, live music and events are still scheduled around Frankston this month.

The “Live and Local Event Series” will replace the Waterfront Festival on the calendar this year. On the weekend beginning 20 March, four locations will host events for Frankston residents to enjoy.

A market with food vendors, amusement rides, and live music will be set up on Long Island Drive and McCombs Reserve from 2pm until 8pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

Youth Central forecourt at 60 Playne St will play host to performers from the FReeZA program. A professional street artist will also attend to teach and display their talents.

From 10am to 8pm on 20 March, Broughton Reserve in Seaford will host performances on the stage.

Local musicians will also entertain attendees to the cinema forecourt on Wells Street over the weekend.

Frankston councillor David Asker said “following a difficult 2020 which saw lockdowns and cancelled events, residents well and truly deserve the opportunity to get out and about and celebrate Frankston.”

“Our number one priority is providing a safe, healthy and fun event for locals, visitors, stallholders and performers. We’re committed to increased cleaning at all sites. There will also be QR code entry for all people and monitoring of numbers to enable the events are delivered in line with COVID safe practices.” 

For more information and for the full schedule of events visit

First published in the Frankston Times – 2 March 2021

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