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Love in all forms celebrated at ChillOut festival

LOVE is love.
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That was the overarching message at the ChillOut carnival day, with same-sex couples celebratingtheir relationshipswith others.

It seems simple, says gay celebrant Leslie Ridgeway – to accept those for who they are – but the journey towardstrue equalityis still a long way ahead.

She said while ChillOut was a great example of all that is possible,so many gay and lesbian couples remained in limbo due to government policy which prevented them from getting married.

She knows the day of change will come – but when that will be remains a mystery.

“I couldn’t tell you why we are so backward in our country, but it has a lot to do with our political representation,” she said.

“It does seem like we’ll be the last ones in an English speaking country to be allowed to marry.

“To have a wedding means the world to some, so we just need to keep fighting and making it known we are the same as everyone.”

Ms Ridgewayspends her days chatting about relationshipsand marriage with engaged couples, and says it is heart breakingso many are excluded from that right.

“Many gay and lesbians don’t care about marriage, but for some, it’s all they want.It’s just about fairness, and treating people the same,” she said.

“People still sexualise gays and lesbians and say we’re the same as paedophiles, but it’s not about sex – it’s just about love.”

Entertainment director TanyaBaricevich echoed Ms Ridgeway’s sentiments, saying marriage equality was still an important goal for those living in Daylesford and surrounds.

“Festivals like ChillOut go a long way in working towards equality and giving people the chance to be who they are, no matter what,” she said.

“”We know Daylesford is a warm and accepting place,but marriage equalityreally does remain significant for those living as LGBTI.”

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Giving thanks to those who saved little Anna

ANNA Merrifield is a miraculous little girl.
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At just eight months old, she has already fought hard to survive.

Born with two holes in her heart on July 8 last year, Anna was later taken to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne where she underwent lifesaving, open-heart surgery.

Now a healthy, smiling baby, Anna’s parents, Merryn and Lee Merrifield, want to say thanks to the Royal Children’s Hospital.

“We were there for two weeks and for that time they looked after us and saved our baby’s life,” Ms Merrifield said.

“The least we can do is organise some way to raise some money for the hospital.”

To do so, the husband and wife team will hold a fundraising dinner on March 27 at The American Hotel in Creswick.

Promised to be a great night of entertainment, coupled with raising money for a worthy cause, Ms Merrifield encouraged people to join in.

“This hospital saves the lives of countless families everyday,” she said. “Now is our chance to say thanks.”

The night, which includes a three-course dinner, auctions and trivia, will donate money from ticket sales and all other proceeds to the hospital.

To book tickets, email Ms Merrifield at [email protected]南京夜网 or call 0400 898 518.

Tickets can also be collected at The American Hotel.

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Labor promises to build a new school at Medowie

Luke Foley.Labor has guaranteed a new public high school for Port Stephens if elected at the March 28 state election.
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Opposition Leader Luke Foley announced last week that Labor would invest $40 million to build a new school in Medowie during the party’s first term, if elected.

“Giving our children the best possible education means building new schools where they are needed,” he said in a statement.

“We will invest in education, building new schools like Medowie, without privatising the electricity network.”

The announcement comes after Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the government had no plans to build a new public high school in the Maitland local government area.

The government has funded multi-million dollar expansions of Rutherford Technology High School and Bolwarra Public School recently to cope with the increasing populations.

Labor had previously pledged to investigate the need for a new high school in Maitland if elected in March.

Independent candidate Philip Penfold has also said he would advocate for a new school in the region if he became the Maitland MP.

Property developer Hardie Holdings has earmarked a site in Anambah that it wants to sell to the Department of Education to be used as a new school for Maitland’s west.

Hear what the candidates for Maitland have to say here

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Technology brings health forum to Dubbo

Indigenous health and wellbeing will be top of the agenda at this week’s Youth Health Forum in Dubbo.
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The forum will be streamed live to the University of Sydney’s School of Rural Health from the Westmead Children’s Hospital on Wednesday, March 11, from 9am.

The university’s associate professor Catherine Hawke said it was a valuable opportunity for regional and rural health workers to improve their knowledge and skills, without the need for travel.

“They also provide a chance to network with local people from different disciplines who are working to improve the health and wellbeing of young people in the district,” she said.

This week’s forum will focus on improving the health of the region’s indigenous youth through cultural sensitivity, community support and empowerment and resilience programs.

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Cancer survivors and carers spread hope at Orange and District Relay for Life

FIGHT BACK: Breast cancer survivor Kellie Grant with her sister and carer Melissa Foster at Orange and District Relay for Life on Saturday. Photo: ALEXANDRA KING KELLIE Grant was proud to be able to walk around the Orange and District Relay for Life track in the Survivors and Carers lap for the first time on Saturday.
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The Orange woman was diagnosed with breast cancer in February last year, and after a year of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can call herself a cancer survivor.

She walked with her sister and carer Melissa Foster alongside many other survivors and carers in the lap that kicked off Cancer Council’s Relay for Life at Waratah Sportsground.

“[The Survivors and Carers lap] makes you think of the people who haven’t survived, you think of the loved ones who have passed away,” Mrs Grant said.

“We’re all here for the same reason. It’s not a competition, it’s about remembering, but its also about spreading hope.”

Mrs Grant said by participating in the Relay for Life, she hoped to encourage more people to be cancer aware.

“I didn’t realise the importance of checking yourself. When I turned 40 last year, I thought getting a mammogram was just part of that stage of your life. I was diagnosed not long after my birthday,” she said.

“If it’s caught early, you have a much higher chance of surviving. And with the treatments today, you have a much better chance than you did 20 years ago.”

Mrs Grant’s thoughts echoed those expressed during the opening ceremony, with speeches from Relay for Life committee chairman Terry Betts, Orange Aboriginal Medical Service CEO Jamie Newman, Sydney-based cancer researcher Professor David Smith, and member for Orange Andrew Gee.

“We’re going to beat cancer as a result of this weekend,” Mr Betts said.

“We need to take the opportunity to fight back against cancer. There is a lot we can do as individuals and there is a lot we can do as a collective.”

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A season for outdoor fun

I HAVE to admit that we really are heading in to my favour­ite time of year in our region.
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DEFENCE: Korea’s Su Jeong Jang will be aiming to defend her 2014 Mildura Grand International tournament title in Mildura this week.

There’s just something about autumn that makes this great district shine and between now and Easter the town will be abuzz with great events that always do us proud.

The 2015 Mildura Wentworth Arts Festival kicked off on Friday night in conjunct­ion with the Twilight Sunraysia Farmer’s Market.

The festival launch set the scene for what is sure to be nine brilliant days of creativity across the region.

Saturday saw the annual Mildura Grand Tennis International begin in style.

This great event gives local tennis lovers the change to see some of this nation’s emerging tennis talent up close and personal.

I must say the curators at the Mildura Lawn Tennis Club should be very proud, with the courts looking amazing.

The Mildura Grand Tennis International runs all week and into the weekend, so make sure you try to take some time to pop down and enjoy the action.

On Sunday, March 15, Ouyen will be the first to see the All British Car Club and RACV’s Fly the Flag tour roll into town.

The tour will see about 190 vintage cars ferrying 330 people into the region, with a visit to Ouyen for Sunday lunch.

The tour will then travel to Mildura and spend two days visiting all we have to offer.

This is a great opportunity for local car enthusiasts to see some beautiful vehicles from a bygone era and show off their own pre-1982 vehicles. This is just one of a number of motor-vehicle events that are heading our way in the next 12 months.

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Monday’s Sunraysia Daily 09/03/2015.To subscribe to our Digital Edition Click here

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Bendemeer trainer’s maiden win takes his breath away

ALAN Smith was out of breath and lost for words after Elamor Del Cielo broke both both their maidens at the Tamworth Greyhound Club on Saturday.
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It was one of several good stories to come out of a big day of racing where the club unveiled new sponsors the Shooters’ and Fishers’ Party.

While Smith has always had an interest in racing and greyhounds, he only began training in October, not taking long to bag what is hoped will be his first of many wins to come.

“Words cannot describe how I am feeling right now,” Smith said.

“It is like having your first born all over again.

“It is surreal.”

Elamor Del Cielo flew out of box two in the 340m Mikeloren Patisserie Maiden, and settled just behind Soaring Elite out of the inside box.

The pair made it a two-dog race as the red dog rounded the bend in first before Smith’s white and black two-year-old mounted a perfectly-timed sprint up the inside to just win by a half length.

The two dogs beat a few others at much shorter odds, including Hayden Munn’s third-placed Little Grace who was two lengths off the pace at the finish.

“I was confident coming in today,” Smith said.

“He has had a lot of niggles in his other races and came into today fit after trialling well.”

It was his second place in five starts, the other a third in his first outing at Muswellbrook in November.

Since then he has had a few sixths, a fifth, and a seventh but now that he has won and is fit, Smith believes there is plenty of improvement still to come.

“He is bred well enough to run in a TAB C meet,” Smith said.

The Bendemeer trainer is a former studio director at Sky Racing.

“It was always a retirement plan for me but has come a bit early,” Smith said.

“I dabbled in horses but it was way too expensive and I just love the dogs.”

“They are a beautiful animal and I was always ready to have them as pets.”

Smith praised the local greyhound racing community for helping him to his maidenvictory.

Alan Smith’s Elamor Del Cielo looks for a run on the inside of Soaring Elite to break his maiden and the maiden of his Bendemeer-based owner-trainer. Photo: Chris Bath 070315CBA02

“They have been ridiculously supportive and I have been blessed with help.”

Guyra’s Benjamin Vidler also won his first after returning to the sport and then picked up another for good luck as well as Miss Guyra broke her maiden in the maiden final, and Kevin Sills’s Mr Riley once again proved he is a cut above in the country, claiming the feature $1800 Shooters and Fishers North West Shoot-Out at short odds.

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Street feast on Clarence

CLARENCE Street’s niche restaurant precinct will take centre stage on Friday.
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Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has partnered with CBD restaurants and businesses to showcase local food and entertainment at the Clarence Street Food Festival.

Located in Clarence Street, between Short Street and the Hastings River, the event also represents an opportunity for visitors and locals to meet council’s Place Making team and help determine a vision for the future of the precinct.

In additional to a smorgasboard of street food, there will be plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained, including live music, a projected light show, giant games (chess, checkers and Jenga) and street art demonstrations, which will be auctioned for charity on the night.

To embrace Friday the 13th, festival goers are encouraged to come in fancy dress and the street will be suitably decorated with spooky artwork from local school students.

Local business owners Todd and Lisa Richardson from Lv’s on Clarence said they were excited about the festival and promoting “an area many people bypass in their usual visits to the CBD”.

“There are a range of exciting restaurants and menus for people of all ages to enjoy close to the riverfront, and we are looking forward to revealing Port Macquarie’s best kept secret,” he said.

According to council’s community and economic growth director Tricia Bulic the festival is both an opportunity to showcase the precinct and for the community to share their vision of a transformative future.

The festivities will run from 4.30pm to 8.30pm.

Entry is free and a variety of food and refreshments will be on offer for a fee.

[email protected]南京夜网.au

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Next step for preschool planPOLL

A decision about future expansion for Dubbo and District Preschool Kinder-garten will be made by Dubbo City Council in the coming weeks, after a state government ruling on the proposal.
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A planning proposal to rezone land at Daphne Park was given support by councillors at the February ordinary meeting and is now in the hands of the NSW Minister of Planning.

If given the green light, the plans will be put on display to the public for at least 14 days and submissions from the public will be accepted.

Council will then make their final decision.

The land at Daphne Park is Crown land controlled by council, and is currently zoned RE1 Public Recreation, which prevents any expansion but the rezoning would see it become R1 General Residential.

A concerned resident who lives near the preschool approached the Daily Liberal because she was worried the expansion would eat into the city’s parklands.

Georgia Bryan said the land had been zoned as Public Recreation for a reason and she did not want the rezoning to happen without other residents being given the opportunity to have their say.

The preschool received a grant of $907,000 from the NSW government to allow it to build two classrooms and a staff room, and they had been awarded an interest-free loan of $91,000 to cover the costs of the rezoning application, development application and other fees.

Ms Bryan said she was surprised by the amount of assistance the preschool had received.

She pointed out a claim on Daphne Park had been lodged by the Dubbo Local Aboriginal Lands Council (LALC), but a day after the government grant was awarded to the preschool, the claim was revised to exclude the 2200-square metre section being requested for rezoning by the preschool.

Dubbo LALC chief executive officer Darren Toomey confirmed the decision was made to drop that parcel of land from the claim at the request of Dubbo MP Troy Grant.

“A claim had been made for Daphne Park but after negotiations and looking at the bigger picture, we decided to partially withdraw the claim,” he said.

“The overall decision was made because we recognise it is about working together. We recognise the need for preschool places in Dubbo so we can see the benefit the expansion would provide.”

DCC director of community services, David Dwyer, said the preschool had been treated the same as any other non-government organisation residing on council-owned land.

He said it was common for council to provide loans to help community groups and assist them with planning proposals.

Mr Dwyer said if the rezoning was approved and the preschool expanded, there would still be more than 5700 square metres of land available for public recreation at Daphne Park, including a playground, which is scheduled for replacement during 2015-16.

A previous expansion by Dubbo and District Preschool onto a portion of Daphne Park was completed in 1963, before the land was rezoned as Public Recreation, Mr Dwyer said.

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Why are we so scared to acknowledge life?

Claire Van Ryn asks: Why are we so scared to acknowledge life?AMBER Elizabeth Rose died last week. Quickly. Invisibly. Tragically. She hadn’t even reached her birth date.
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The newspapers reported the devastating news of the murder-suicide in the rural town of Biddeston near Toowoomba.

They reported three deaths – Kris-Deann Sharpley, her seven-year-old son Jackson and her father Derek.

Amber was not in the headcount. Her life was not counted.

Over and over it was reported that Kris-Deann was “heavily pregnant”, that she was on maternity leave awaiting the birth of her daughter, that she had chosen her name and was sharing the excitement with her son Jackson.

But no one counted Amber’s life.

Before her death Kris-Deann, a nurse, told her family how Jackson spent time chatting to his baby sister through her bulging belly. He kissed her and told her he was her big brother, that he was boss.

On Facebook, Kris-Deann shared a photo montage under the words “My Beautiful Children”. The two photos were of her son and a 3D ultrasound image of her unborn daughter. In curling script beneath were their names; Jackson and Amber.

Kris-Deann, like any expectant mother, treated the child in her womb as a valid human life, even though they had never met.

But no one counted Amber’s death when she and her family were slain last Sunday night in a red brick home on a quiet street as gum trees futilely waved their arms in the breeze.

The truth is that four people died.

Kris-Deann’s pregnancy was almost to term – that much is clear from the ultra-sound photo. The only thing separating that baby from bona fide humanity (according to this crazy world we live in) was her mother’s flesh.

Why are we so scared to acknowledge life?

As I’ve read through these stories I have grieved little Amber, the forgotten life in all of this. I have also glimpsed the mother’s heart of Kris-Deann and I get the feeling it would sadden her to know that her youngest child has not been publically acknowledged.

For what it’s worth Kris-Deann, from one mum to another, I counted four tragic deaths that night, and I know that many more were thinking the same as they digested their Cornflakes together with the news of your family’s passing.

I take comfort in the words of Jesus who persuasively spoke of the intrinsic value of life. God knows when a sparrow dies, or a hair falls from our heads, he said, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more…” (Matthew 10:30)

Amber is worth more than the vague references to her mother’s pregnancy. God knows that.

Jesus also said this: “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (Matthew 10:26)

Refusing to acknowledge life within the womb – especially with medical evidence expanding daily – is like refusing to answer a neighbour’s knock at the door because you cannot see them.

Rest in peace Kris-Deann, Jackson, Derek.

Rest in peace Amber.

■ Read more of Claire van Ryn’s musings at www.faithlikeamushroom.wordpress南京夜网 or follow her page on Facebook.

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