Plea for help on rooming houses

WORRY: A former Robinvale motel in Ronald Street, which had been converted into a boarding house, was destroyed after an electrical fire in January.RELATED STORY: No easy answer
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SWAN Hill council will plead for assistance from the state and federal governments in dealing with the ongoing issue of “rooming houses” in the Robinvale community.

Growing rates of temporary workers in the region has led to an increasingly critical problem of alleged rooming houses.

Some councillors have accused upper levels of government of failing to fulfill a duty of care towards what they say are vulnerable itinerant workers, many of whom are forced into inadequate, unsafe and over-crowded living conditions.

They will ask the different tiers of government to take part in a “coordinated approach” to deal with the issue.

The move follows a number of reports about rooming houses since changes to legislation in 2009 forced local government to play a key role in enforcement and registration of rooming houses.

But council says it does not have the resources to enforce the legislation.

A report presented by council gave an example of an investigation into 20 rooming houses that led to legal costs of $5000, of which just $1500 was awarded.

Just one of the rooming houses was registered.

“[This] highlights that while it may be easy for local residents to identify what appears to be an alleged rooming house, the ability to gather sufficient evidence to prove a premises is operating in that manner is difficult to obtain.

“The challenges faced by the council are reflected across the region and across the state and while council actively enforces the legislation, more may be achieved through a coordinated approach by other tiers of Government and industry.”

Swan Hill Rural City councillor and Robinvale ward representative John Katis said council was being let down by other authorities.

He cited examples of unsafe rooming houses where electric cables were exposed and fuses had nails through them.

“If you have a house with 10 or 15 people living in it and half those people die in a fire, who’s going to pay the liability?” Cr Katis said.

“Council doesn’t have the resources to attend to every call from the public.

“I think we’ve been let down by the government authorities… they need to take more of a role.”

Cr Katis said there was a duty of care when it came to people’s safety.

“They are itinerant and lower income workers who can’t afford housing and there aren’t enough homes that are affordable,” he said.

“The whole public should play a lot more of a role. If you know of one of these houses pick up the phone and report it. Council can only do so much.”

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PHOTOS: Busselton Bombers take on Nannup Tigers

PHOTOS: Busselton Bombers take on Nannup Tigers Busselton Bomber Chris Cooke.
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Nannup’s Damien Waugh slides in for the ball with Busselton’s Troy Docking into defend.

Busselton’s Jake Nolan tries to stop Damien Waugh’s mark.

Busselton’s John Albury.

Busselton’s Aaron Prince, David Stobbie, Dale Andrews and Nannup’s Ryan King.

Busselton Bomber Jake Nolan, Nannup’s Nathan Craigie and Busselton’s Brayden Timms.

Busselton’s Paul Northover.

Nannup’s Scott Smith, Busselton’s Dale Andrews, Nannup’s Brendan Cockman and Busselton’s Jake Nikander.

Busselton’s Troy Docking and Jake Nikander.

Busselton’s Rhett Tihany.

Busselton’s Sam Shreus and Nannup’s Glen Hamilton.

Busselton’s Lachlan Mills and Nannup’s Ryan King.

Busselton’s Paul Northover and Nannup’s Damien Cockman.

Busselton’s Adam Wera.

Busselton’s Graeme Snow, Nannup’s Nathan Craigie and Busselton’s Jake Nikander.

Nannup’s Brayden Timms and Busselton’s Aaron Prince.

Bussselton’s Dale Andrews, Adam Wera and Nannup’s Scott Smith.

Busselton’s Graeme Snow.

Nannup’s Jaxon Pillage and Busselton’s Nick Gangell.

Nannup’s Shae Cullen and Busselton’s Mathew Gordon.

Busselton’s Troy Docking and Nannup’s Matthew Bornatici.

Busselton’s Rhett Tihany and Nannup’s Jaxon Pillage.

Busselton’s Rhys Stockley.

Busselton’s Scott Johnstone and Nannup’s Nathan Craigie.

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Greater Taree libraries take role in National Pain Week

A partnership between the State Library, the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) and Hunter New England Health is benefiting local communities.
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The partnership is bringing the latest evidence-based information on managing chronic pain to libraries across NSW, including Greater Taree City libraries, during National Pain Week.

Libraries within the HNE health district that are involved are: Cessnock City Library, Newcastle Region Library, Gunnedah Shire Library, Tenterfield Public Library, Upper Hunter Shire Library, Armidale-Dumaresq Library, Greater Taree City Libraries, Inverell Shire Public Library, Glen Innes Severn Public & TAFE Library and Central Northern Regional Library (Tamworth).

Chronic pain is pain which persists for more than three months or beyond the usual time for tissue healing. It is real, not imagined and affects one in five people in NSW, interfering with their daily lives, work and relationships.

Improving access to the latest scientific information on how to better manage chronic pain is one of many healthcare improvement activities of the ACI, the lead agency working to design and promote better healthcare for NSW.

Earlier this year, the Minister for Health Jillian Skinner launched the ACI Pain Management Network’s website and a separate consumer book collection which has been distributed to participating public libraries across NSW.

The book collection complements the ACI Pain Management Network’s website, which is already making a difference with over 82,000 views since its launch in March.

To promote awareness of National Pain Week 2014, the ACI has added two more consumer books to the collection, providing additional evidence-based guides on managing pain.

Visitors to the ACI Pain Management Network website can access:

o Interactive learning and self-management modules for young people

o Online resources that promote self-management to help people to retrain their brain’s response to chronic pain

o Inspirational videos of people young and old sharing their experience of how adopting an

evidence based approach to pain made a real difference to their daily lives

o Practical tools and resources to help people with chronic pain to improve daily sleep and

mood, guidance on the role of pain medication and the importance of healthy lifestyles

o A health professional toolkit that includes assessment and management tools for doctors

and healthcare professionals working in the community, factsheets for patients and

information on NSW Pain Clinics.

National Pain Week 2014 runs from July 21-27. For more information see www.nationalpainweek.org.au

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Rail Trail full steam ahead

A TRANSFORMATION of abandoned railway lines into desirable cycling getaways is more than a pipedream.
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That’s the view of McComas Taylor, the convenor of a newly formed group aiming to drum up support for rail-trail cycling – a cross-country discipline permitted in every Australian state bar New South Wales.

A cyclist of more than 40 years, Mr Taylor says a rail trail circuit from Goulburn to Crookwell is ideal on multiple levels.

“I’ve seen how these things work in Victoria, I’ve ridden rail-trails there.

This would be an absolute gem for Crookwell,” he said yesterday.

“Rail-trails in other areas have created new business opportunities, including cafes, restaurants, B&Bs and bikeshops.”

The cycling format offers riders a journey passed heritage-listed buildings and a view picturesque countryside as they follow paths adjacent to defunct railway lines.

Mr Taylor shares a common view with founding members of Friends of Goulburn Crookwell Rail Trail – officially formed on Saturday – and the committee of the Southern Tablelands Cycling Group.

The latter has drawn up preliminary plans, sounded out support of interstate cycling groups and convinced both Goulburn Mulwaree and Upper Lachlan Shire councils to commit money for feasibility studies.

“We’re a new group, we’re a small group and we’re just getting on our feet,” Mr Taylor continued.

Their influence won’t be fully realised for the next six weeks, at least.

Friends of Goulburn Crookwell Rail- Trail members won’t conduct their first meeting until after a workshop in Sydney on August 26.

That workshop’s invite list will include names of rail trail enthusiasts the state-over, at least two representatives from every local government body in relevant areas of New South Wales, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian and a guest-speaker from Mike Halliburton and Associates – a firm that specialises in viability studies on the subject.

Rail Trails For NSW founder John Moore said the format was gaining traction. Mr Moore this month held a meeting with the Transport Minister, whose thrown her support behind the concept.

Next month’s workshop will help railtrail supporters turn their vision into reality, he says.

Legislation presently permits disused railway lines from being adapted.

Ms Berejiklian and her cabinet colleagues, however, have made it clear individual rail-trail projects will be assessed on merit – thus opening the door to a Southern Tablelands circuit.

“I am a personal fan of rail trails and think they have a big future in our state,” the Minister said during a speech at the launch of Rail Trails for NSW in March.

“If you look at what Victoria has done, it has been incredibly positive for their economy, for their tourism, for their lifestyle.”

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Bungonia Hall makes progress

THE Bungonia Hall supper room will likely receive its final touches thanks to a little help from the council.
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Since June, 2013 members of the village’s Progress Association and a team of generous helpers have been beavering away, building a new room.

President Bill Dobbie said it was an essential ingredient, catering for functions and as a money spinner for the Association.

The old supper room was demolished in June, 2013 after it was discovered that upgrade to meet standards would be too costly. Its replacement was estimated to cost $158,000 to $231,000.

One year on, a “very solid building” stands in its place, independent of the hall but lacking a ceiling.

Completing the rendering will soak up remaining funds.

“We would like to get the ceiling up and completed so an occupation certificate can be issued and the supper room be used for functions again,” Mr Dobbie wrote to Council.

“The alternative is to continue fundraising locally but to raise this sum could take a few years.”

The Association asked Council for $10,700 to fund the work.

Corporate services director Brendan Hollands recommended to last Tuesday’s meeting that the money come from the recently created ‘Village Plan’ reserve.

But Deputy Mayor Bob Kirk asked that the funds come from Council’s budget proper.

“We haven’t set the parameters for the village plan reserve yet so to dip into it at this stage is I think, premature,” he said.

Councillors agreed the ceiling’s funding should be considered as a matter of priority in the September quarterly budget review.

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