Tasmania’s Latrobe Council in costly blunder over Wesley Vale accommodation development


Ratepayers in Tasmania’s north-west will have to pay potentially “tens of thousands of dollars” in legal fees after the local council failed to properly reject a development application and lost an appeal before the state’s planning tribunal.

A decision handed down by the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal (RMPAT) said Latrobe Council intended to reject a 2019 seasonal worker accommodation development, but did not pass a motion doing so, meaning their decision was not legally valid.

Under the Tasmanian Land Use and Approvals Act, projects requiring council approval are automatically given the green light 42 days after the council receives them if they are not formally addressed earlier.

“The result of the vote on the motion to approve the application, in the negative, did not constitute a determination to refuse the application. As the Council failed to determine the application within the time required … it was deemed to have granted a permit on conditions to be determined by the Tribunal,” the decision said.

Latrobe Mayor Peter Freshney.(

ABC News: Tim Morgan

)

The tribunal ultimately came to the same conclusion as the council, deciding the permit to build the 106-person accommodation facility on Beer Street in Wesley Vale should not be granted, but that the council must pay the costs for all parties involved.

That includes the proponents, Devonport-based Starbox Architects, and Beer Street resident PJ Hodgkinson, who was part of the proceedings as a joined party.

Latrobe Mayor Peter Freshney said the council’s appeal against the awarding of costs failed.

“It’s difficult to stomach, to some degree, particularly when we’re having to pay ratepayers’ money out, but at the end of the day we do have to justify our decisions and, quite rightly, get the process right,” he said.

Mr Freshney said it could be months before the council knew exactly how much it owed.

“It’s a lesson learned, but obviously at quite some cost.”

Development opposed by residents

The 2019 development was recommended for approval with conditions by council officers, but councillors decided against it, something Mr Freshney said was “rare”.

According to the minutes from the meeting, it was knocked back because of a lack of access to enough quality water for the amount of people likely to be living there, and because the wastewater could adversely affect surrounding properties.

A birds eye view of a mocked up cabin development on a property surrounded by trees.
Objections to the project cited concerns about traffic impacts, water and stormwater infrastructure.(

Supplied: Starbox Architecture

)

Seven members of the public made representations against the plan, expressing concerns about traffic impacts, water and stormwater infrastructure and potential damage to livestock.

Beer Street resident David Miller was one of those to object, and has called the council’s handling of the matter “disgusting”.

“The council should know how to put things through meetings,” he said.

“I could never see how it got through planning, it should have stopped there, and yet it’s dragged on for two years.”

The site of the development application made headlines last year as one of two in the municipality under investigation for being inappropriate accommodation for berry pickers, with the other site, a five-bedroom house in Shearwater, found to have up to 70 workers living there in what unions called “slum-like conditions”.

Planning a ‘difficult field in which to work’

The challenges of having local governments act as planning authorities have been much discussed in the past few years, with councillors across the state citing the difficulty of taking public opinion into account when acting under specific laws.

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It has prompted the state government to introduce controversial Major Projects Legislation, which would allow the government to declare large and complex developments as requiring special attention and have them assessed by a specially convened panel rather than a local council.

Mr Freshney said the council had rejected a different proposal in the same way in 2018, but in between the two decisions, a new legal precedent had been set by a Supreme Court ruling against the Launceston City Council — a legal move the council didn’t know about when considering the Beer Street application.

“Planning is a difficult field in which to work, always has been and always will be,” he said.

“We are everyday people after all, we aren’t perfect and without fault, and occasionally there will unfortunately be the odd error around protocols.”

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Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital cyber attack leaves staff struggling to communicate, patient says


“The wi-fi was cut off,” said one woman who was in the Wesley Hospital at Auchenflower in Brisbane’s inner-west when the hacking occurred on Sunday.

“I spent the next two days trying to get onto it but I couldn’t. It was very frustrating.”

The patient, who asked not be identified, said staff confirmed the cyber attack when she asked about the wi-fi.

She said she had seen staff grappling with a range of problems involving communications and patient records, and struggling with tasks as basic as inserting a canula.

“They would normally text people to come and do it [the canula] but they couldn’t so they were having to ring people with a land line,” she said.

“Everything was slowed down. It was a bit chaotic.”

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UnitingCare, which runs Wesley and St Andrew’s Hospitals in Brisbane, hit by cyber attack


The organisation runs the Wesley and St Andrew’s Hospitals in Brisbane, St Stephen’s Hospital in Hervey Bay and the Buderim Private Hospital on the Sunshine Coast, and dozens of aged care and disability services throughout the state.

The healthcare provider said it was affected by a cyber incident on Sunday, and its digital and technology systems were currently inaccessible.

It has contacted the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and technical and forensic advisors are working on the outage.

Manual back-ups are now in place, and some services are being rescheduled.

In a statement, UnitingCare Queensland said it did not know when the problem would be resolved, but it was committed to keeping its people, patients, clients and residents informed and safe.

A spokesperson for the organisation confirmed the charity’s email system was impacted, with some staff having to use private email accounts.

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Wesley College principal sends letter apologising, announces call to action after sex assault claims


The principal of a prestigious Melbourne private school has “apologised unreservedly” after claims of sexual assault and harassment surfaced.

The allegations, which include incidents involving sexual assault, groping and sexism, were mentioned in a petition created by students at Wesley College in a bid to prompt the school to take urgent action.

It comes just days after some students were caught publicly denigrating women in a TikTok video on a bus on Monday – the same day as the nationwide March4Justice rallies, which called for equality and an end to violence against women.

On Friday, Wesley College principal Nick Evans issued a statement to parents and guardians, saying being devastated was not enough and there needed to be a “call to action”.

“I apologise unreservedly to those affected on behalf of the College. Sadly, and as I have observed over the past few days on several occasions, Wesley College is a microcosm of Australian society,” the letter read.

“We are not alone in this scourge. We must face it with honesty, courage and a willingness to confront hard truths.”

Evans also said for the remainder of the term there would be a roll out of processes dubbed their “call to action”.

This will be a “phase of deep listening” with lunchtime forums where students can discuss the culture, as well as engaging external psychologists to “advise and support students”.

“If any other members of the College have testimonies they wish to share, I would encourage them to come forward,” the letter said.

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Wesley College refers sexual assault and harassment complaints to police


Wesley College has referred allegations of sexual assault and harassment to Victoria Police in the wake of complaints made following the March 4 Justice event in Melbourne.

A boy from another private school told ABC Radio Melbourne he wrote to the principal of Wesley College after hearing some disgusting and derogatory comments on a bus in the presence of people who had attended the march.

“I heard one of them say, ‘Oh we should’ve bombed the women’s march,’ kind of joking around,” he said.

Since then a number of students have come forward to recount their experiences of harassment at the school.

Kim Bence, the head of the St Kilda Road campus, confirmed that complaints had been referred to police in recent days.

Principal Nick Evans encouraged anyone with a complaint to come forward.

“There are things that emerge in this space that are criminal —as simple as that — and it’s not appropriate to have a pastoral response for accusations of a crime,” he said.

“They will be passed on to the police.”

Ms Bence said the school had been having discussions with senior students and she was shocked by what they were told.

“It’s just the enormity of what’s happening on a day-to-day basis, their interactions in corridors in what I would classify as public spaces. I think that’s where the real concerns lie for me,” she said.

“What we have been privy to in the last 24-48 hours would indicate there are certainly students who do not feel safe.

“This has been devastating for our entire community.”

The school said it would use “trauma-informed” psychologists to work with those who had been affected in a discreet and confidential way.

Mr Evans said the school had not been listening carefully enough and the programs that were in place to teach respectful relationships had not been effective.

“I apologise unreservedly,” Mr Evans said.

“Many personal testimonies have been shared with us and in other fora that show how deep this issue runs.”

The school said it had partnered with the child safety organisation Bravehearts in recent times  and education consultants had been engaged to canvas the experience of students.

Wesley College is not the only school facing complaints from students.

A student of private school Haileybury has gone public with a letter recounting her experiences with sexual harassment at the school.

In a message to the school community, principal Derek Scott said he met with her and other students for three hours on Thursday about the “confronting” letter. 

He said the letter reflected poorly on the school and the misogynistic behaviour it outlined did not represent the school’s values.

“Now that this conversation is out in the open, I am hopeful we can work together on the cultural change required,” he said.

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Wesley College students create petition to share sexism, sexual assault claims after TikTok video emerges


A prestigious Melbourne private school is facing a growing scandal as female students come forward with claims of sexual assault at the hands of their male classmates.

The allegations, which includes incidents involving sexual assault, groping and sexism, were mentioned in a petition created by students at Wesley College in a bid to prompt the school to take urgent action.

It comes just days after some students were caught publicly denigrating women in a TikTok video on a bus on Monday – the same day as the nationwide March4Justice rallies which called for equality and an end to violence against women.

Wesley College Headmaster Nick Evans wrote to parents about the incident on Monday, conceding “we have work to do”.

Evans confirmed some Wesley students on public transport had made derogatory comments about women that were “highly offensive and caused extreme discomfort”.

“I have run the gamut of emotions as a result of this news, from fury to frustration, from disbelief to determination, from shame to sadness,” he said.

The incident followed the school’s audit of its programs dealing with consent and respectful relationships.

“It was clear last week, and it is even clearer now, that we have work to do,” he added.

He said Wesley had partnered with child protection organisation, Bravehearts, and that would involve more education for students with a focus on safety, consent and respect.

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Wesley College students reported for misogynistic March 4 Justice comments


A Melbourne student says he wishes he had called out the sexist comments of a group of Wesley College boys his age on a bus after the March 4 Justice rally.

The boy, Ben, a student at St Michael’s Grammar in St Kilda, told ABC Radio Melbourne that he wrote a letter of complaint to Wesley College about what he called disgusting and derogatory comments after the march on Monday.

He said the comments were made within earshot of people who had attended the march, including himself, and some were too offensive to be repeated.

“I felt pretty disgusted that some boys my age, or roughly my age, were making comments like that… those kinds of comments should not be made.”

Ben said he now wished he had confronted the boys at the time of the incident.

“It’s difficult to call out at the time. I really wish I did, but unfortunately it didn’t happen at the time,” he said.

“Teenage boys need to call out other teenage boys. Right now that isn’t happening. That’s what’s building the culture of quite toxic masculinity.”

The boy’s complaint prompted the Principal of Wesley College, Nick Evans, to write a strongly worded email to students at the school regarding behaviour he described as “unacceptable”.

“I am sad because this is indicative of behaviour I have witnessed too often from too many men,” Mr Evans said.

“Casual misogyny and sexism are so often expressed in all-male conversations. This episode is no exception.”

Mr Evans said in the email he would be examining the effectiveness of the school’s programs “dealing with consent and respectful relationships”.

Educational consultant John Hendry urged people not to rush to condemn the boys or the school.

“Those young boys from Wesley, they’ll be horrified, and I’d encourage Wesley, and no doubt they will, and their parents and so forth to be kind to them,” he said.

“When we make mistakes we are unkind in many ways with how we deal with those rather than looking carefully and constructively and looking for a way forward that’s going to be helpful.”

Mr Hendry said schools should make an effort to educate students in how to call out offensive behaviour in a public setting.

“It’s difficult for young people in groups to do that and we have to empower them to do that.” 

Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino said schools should not be complacent about these issues.

Mr Merlino said the state government was rolling out its respectful relationships program to all public schools, and many private schools had also adopted the program.

“The respectful relationship curriculum goes directly to issues around consent, respecting each other and gender equality, and my view is not only should it be for all schools in our state it should be rolled out right across the country.,” he said.

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Alleged misogynistic behaviour of Wesley College schoolboys just ‘beggars belief’: Education Minister James Merlino


Dear parents and guardians,

Today, I was made aware of the disrespectful behaviour of some of our students travelling on public transport yesterday. I understand that these students made derogatory comments about women which was highly offensive and caused extreme discomfort. This behaviour is unacceptable. I am deeply disappointed to have Wesley students behave in such a manner. Such behaviour does not reflect what we value and share in our Wesley community.

I have run the gamut of emotions as a result of this news, from fury to frustration, from disbelief to determination, from shame to sadness.

I am sad because this is indicative of behaviour I have witnessed too often from too many men. Casual misogyny and sexism are so often expressed in all male conversations. This episode is no exception. I am ashamed not just because this reflects poorly on a school I love, but also because there have been times in my life, particularly my youth, when I was a bystander of such conversations and thus helped perpetuate them.

However, I am also hopeful because young people, young women and young men, are not prepared to be bystanders any longer. I am hopeful because this may presage the change required in society. I am hopeful because the conversations that need to happen, not least within Wesley College, have begun. I am hopeful because I believe wholeheartedly in the power of education to transform lives and hearts.

In my email of last week, I indicated that the Associate Principal Morag Howard in consultation with Heads of Campus, Kim Bence, Sheriden Vella and Jacinta Janssens conducted an audit of our programs dealing with consent and respectful relationships. The curriculum includes sexual intimacy, pornography, acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and sexual risks and consequences, consent and the law, and gender-based violence. I also indicated last week that we would be examining how effective these programs are. We have begun a series of conversations with students regarding their effectiveness. It was clear last week, and it is even clearer now, that we have work to do.

As part of this work, Wesley College has recently partnered with Bravehearts, a leading child protection organisation. For our students this will provide additional education focusing on safety, consent and respectful relationships for young people as well as professional training for Wesley staff. I would like to add that I do not believe that the few involved in this incident represent the more than 3,300 students who attend Wesley College and who interact with their peers, teachers and wider community with respect and humility. The considerate young leaders that I challenged at the Prefect’s Dinner just weeks ago to bring the voice of the students to us are fine examples of our students – and they are the ones that your children look up to and model themselves after.

This episode is a painful moment, for those members of the public on the bus who had to endure it and for those of us who love this school. But from such pain must come learning and action.

With every good wish

Nick Evans

Principal

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Autumn flower show at Wesley Uniting Church Centre in Forrest




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Wesley Snipes on the Value of Money and Lessons From Behind Bars


We spoke to Wesley Snipes, ’90s action icon—co-starring with Eddie Murphy in the sequel Coming 2 America—about aging with grace, the value of money, and what he learned from two years behind bars.

 

 

Men’s Journal: Who were your heroes growing up?

Wesley Snipes: The cats that influenced me were guys like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, James Brown, Michael Jackson—all of these performers who could dance. Gene Kelly was the man, him and Douglas Fairbanks. I remember growing up in the Bronx, watching them whenever there was a chance. I would jump around the house, trying to be a swashbuckler.

How should a man handle getting older?

You have to realize that things are going to slow down; that even if your mind is fast, the body, the machine, will rust. And as the machine begins to rust, the ability for it to generate kinetic power begins to diminish. So the trick is to be aging gracefully and healthfully, and keep the rust out of the body. If you can keep the rust out of the body, then getting old is not a problem at all.

What human quality do you most admire?

The ability to survive.

And what trait do you most deplore?

Squandering your talent. It’s irresponsible.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life?

Women have been a very strong influence in my life. Most of my greater accomplishments have come at the advice and care and patience of females—from my grandmother, to my mom, to my teachers in high school, who really helped propel me toward the arts and, you know, expanded my consciousness.

What role should vanity play in a man’s life?

How you look and how you style yourself and how you smell is a reflection, as we say on the streets, of the quality of your temple. If your temple is polished and gleaming, people are gonna come, people gonna worship. But if your temple is raggedy…no, no, no, no, no.

What living person do you most admire?

Not a person—a personality. I admire people who have gone through the fire and come out on the other side, in some cases rising back like the phoenix and soaring from that point forward. Those people, I dig 1,000 percent.

You spent a couple of years in jail for tax problems. What did you learn most from that?

The value of time. I was gone for two years and some months, and the most amazing thing was to return back to what they call the world—interesting term—and find that there were people who were doing the exact same thing, in the exact same situation. It’s almost like time stood still for two years. Now who was in jail? Who is still in jail?

What’s one thing that every man should understand about money?

Money is the icing on the cake, the trophy for hard work done. But the money is not really what it’s all about. It’s the knowledge of how to create the value that creates the money.

What adventure most changed your life?

Going to SUNY Purchase for art school. Completely foreign territory. I was one of maybe four Black guys in the whole department. That was the most life-altering experience for me.

How so?

They hit me with something. They said, “You don’t know who you are. You don’t know your style. You haven’t learned enough.” Now, that was offensive, especially coming from white folks who had never experienced the world that I lived in. But they were right.
— Wesley Snipes interview by Larry Kanter


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