Home // 2019 // January

State pledge’s $45m to tackle Victoria’s ice scourge

FORTY-FIVE million dollars is a lot of money, but it remains to be seen whether it will make a dent in Victoria’s ever increasing and frightening ice epidemic.

The Andrews government is following up on its pre-election commitment to have a go at tackling the ice scourge and will introduce tougher laws, boost police powers to shut down drug labs and create better access to health programs.

It is only a first step and it has been widely applauded as a bold move.

Ice has crept up on the community and taken it by surprise.

It is highly addictive, dangerous and ruinous for those who are seduced by its euphoric power.

Widely available, it has gained a particularly strong hold in regional and rural communities where organised crime elements have identified a ready market among the vulnerable and disenfranchised.

Areas with high youth unemployment are particularly vulnerable, but ice has also become the drug of choice for people with jobs who have to work long hours to make ends meet.

Increasingly, the drug is injected so part of the Andrews program includes bolstering needle-exchange programs in regional areas.

New laws, including tougher measures to target those who push the drug near schools and those who allow their premises to be used for “cooking’’ or dealing the substance, will be introduced.

Police have long argued that one of the most effective ways to tackle ice is at the source, so they will receive $4.5 million to boost the forensic drug branch along with its intelligence operations.

Support for families stricken by the drug will also get extra support.

It is going to be a long, hard slog to win the battle against ice.

Organised crime gangs are sophisticated, ruthless and greedy. They preside over an immoral trade where money is king and life is cheap.

Our courts are clogged with victims of ice, but rarely do we see the Mr Bigs get the comeuppance they so richly deserve.

This government funding is welcome, but it will take much more to kill off this monster in our midst.

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Warrnambool teenager remanded over axe handle assault

Riley Flanagan, 19, of Wanstead Street, unsuccessfully applied for bail in Warrnambool Magistrates Court and is next scheduled to appear in court on May 19.A WARRNAMBOOL teenager charged with offences which led to an alleged victim jumping through a window to escape has been remanded in custody.

Riley Flanagan, 19, of Wanstead Street, unsuccessfully applied for bail in Warrnambool Magistrates Court and is next scheduled to appear in court on May 19.

Detective Senior Constable Jason Bourke, of Warrnambool CIU, told court that Mr Flanagan and a co-accused were alleged to have gone to a McGregors Road home at 6.30pm on Wednesday.

They were met at the door by a woman and asked her to call a man to come around. He arrived about five minutes later.

The men then confronted the visitor and demanded cash, saying “where’s my money?”.

Detective Senior Constable Bourke said the pair were armed with a wooden stick, similar to an axe handle.

The visitor is then alleged to have denied he owed any money and was hit with the axe handle about 10 times to the head, face and arms.

The police officer said that during the assault the victim retreated to a corner of the lounge room, he pulled a curtain rod from the curtains, waved it around to defend himself and then broke a window which he jumped through to escape.

The two offenders are then alleged to have chased the victim down McGregors Road towards Tozer Road.

Mr Flanagan and the co-accused are then alleged to have resumed their assault after the victim fell to the ground.

The man suffered a laceration to his head, cuts to his hands and an elbow injury expected to require surgery to have pins and a plate put in place.

He also suffered ligament and muscle damage to his left knee.

In denying bail, magistrate Peter Mellas said the case against Mr Flanagan sounded strong.

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‘We’re all aviation tragics here’

Thrilled: Sydney’s Ezekiel Curnow, 8, is an aviation buff. He made the trip with his grandparents. Picture: SYLVIA LIBERQantas jumbo lands at Illawarra Regional Airport: photos, videoAviation history: old girl’s final flightAmazing reader pics of the Qantas landingThere were toys for the boys – both big and small at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society.

“It’s plane day,” Ezekiel Curnow shouted in joy when he opened his eyes first thing on Sunday morning.

Not even an early morning start could deter the enthusiasm of the eight-year-old, who has autism.

Historic: Geoff and Clare Loudon from Christchurch met up with fellow enthusiast Martin O’Dea. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

“Planes, or any type of aircraft, is what motivates him,” said mum Rachel Curnow, of Sydney.

His grandfather Bob Besley said the HARS hanger was “the biggest men’s shed anyone had ever seen”.

“We’re all aviation tragics here really,” said Mr Besley, a retired geologist and HARS member. “Old planes have such an amazing history. This is a very exciting day for us. A beautiful bird, with its lovely red tail, has come here on its final flight.”

Geoff and Clare Loudon travelled from Christchurch to witness the jumbo jet ending its career with its shortest flight ever from Sydney to Albion Park.

“This is a huge event,” Mr Loudon said. “We’re aircraft buffs. Our DC-3 plane is here, it’s part of the museum collection. We’re also members and sponsors. I think the 747 will be a great attraction for the museum which has in the past struggled financially. It will bring a lot more people to the air shows. I’m sure it will be a turning point for the society.”

Graeme Boyd flew in from Brisbane for the event.

“I’ve been a member of HARS since 1995,” he said. “I’m a geologist but have always been a very frustrated pilot. You know Qantas don’t give away their jumbos easily. The 747 is a magnificent piece of technology which you will probably be able to see from the road. This is a significant arrangement for HARS and one which will save the aircraft from ending up as a piece of twisted metal. She’s done her job and now this proud bird has a beautiful resting place.

Martin O’Dea, of Sydney, said it was amazing to be so close to the 747 as it landed.

“This is a very special event in Australia’s aviation history,” he said.

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Camperdown psychologist on the shortlist for Rural Women’s Award

A PASSION to increase access to mental healthcare in rural areas has Camperdown-based psychologist Melissa Ferrier in the running for a state award.

Dr Ferrier is on the shortlist for the 2015 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Award to be announced next week.

The $10,000 grant that comes with the top honour would allow her to continue her work in improving mental health access.

Dr Ferrier, a clinical psychologist, specialises in children, adolescents and families and combines her private practice work with visiting clinics and schools across the region.

Compared to the inner-city, she said regional areas severely lagged behind when it came to mental health access.

“I’m very excited that I’m shortlisted,” she said.

“It’s a great opportunity to have a platform to talk about the inequity for rural Australians in accessing mental healthcare.”

Dr Ferrier said the stigma surrounding mental health was improving in regional areas. “But there’s still that barrier we have to get past,” she said.

That change would come with more education in schools to encourage the next generation to view mental health positively, she said.

“More education in schools means then children grow up thinking that caring for their mind is just as important as caring for their body.”

Dr Ferrier came to the south-west from Melbourne in 2003 and quickly fell in love with Camperdown.

If she wins the award she plans to use it to promote telehealth services and market a computer program she has been developing over the past year.

Telehealth was one solution to addressing the lack of mental health professionals in rural areas. The service allows people seeking help in remote areas to be linked up with a psychologist from anywhere in Australia.

“We have to think outside the box a little bit,” she said.

Dr Ferrier said she had been working on a computer program to complement her work for the past year.

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Logans Beach village endorsed

A NEW housing subdivision overlooking Logans Beach, Warrnambool has moved closer to reality with the city council unanimously endorsing development plans.

The Logans Beach Coastal Village will provide about 100 lots on former farm land south of Hopkins Point Road.

Lots will be a mixture of larger allotments with a minimum 2000-square-metre blocks and smaller sizes ranging from 400-1000 square metres.

Building height will be restricted to five metres and tree height to three metres to ensure coastal views.

The subdivision forms part of a larger growth area covering 119 hectares on the north and south of the Hopkins Point Road.

At this month’s council meeting Cr Rob Askew said the village plan had been well thought out.

Cr Peter Hulin said it would attract retirees from Melbourne.

He said he was intrigued by sections in the planning report which listed marram grass and coastal tea-tree as prohibited species and said native vegetation could be “trimmed, lopped or removed” to develop the proposed pedestrian path and fencing.

“It’s a pity we can’t do the same at McGennan car park,” Cr Hulin said.

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