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Wood collection sites to open

SIX domestic firewood collection sites near Mildura and Robinvale will progressively open after the completion of harvesting of trees.

People are able to collect firewood for domestic use from within the designated collection areas until June 30 this year.

The designated firewood collection areas will be marked by official signs.

Parks Victoria district manager Peter Foster said the areas around Mildura and Robinvale would open slightly after the opening of the collection season statewide on March 1 to allow sufficient time for harvesting of the trees in a manner that was safer to Parks Victoria staff.

“Those collecting firewood must only collect fallen trees,” he said.

“It is also possible that collection areas may close early if firewood supplies are exhausted or conditions become unsuitable.”

Parks Victoria and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) staff plan to patrol parks, forests and reserves to ensure people do the right thing while collecting their firewood.

Concealed cameras will be used in some areas.

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Endless possibilities

A STEP CLOSER: Robert ‘Stumpy’ Taylor, pictured with another second track supporter Allan Cunynghame at Mount Panorama, says this week’s news is the best he has heard in a long time. 122110ztrackNEWS that a second track on Mount Panorama has come a step closer to reality has been welcomed by local motorsport supporters.

Long-time second circuit advocate and motorcycle racing supporter Robert ‘Stumpy’ Taylor said the $20 million from Bathurst Regional Council is the best news he’s heard in ages.

“If we got the track, right now we would be able to get the biggest motorcycling event in the state, the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed at Eastern Creek,” he said. “That’s just for starters. There’s other events you could look at, like a round of the world endurance championship.

“But the big one is the Moto GP at Phillip Island. It’s a great track, but the location at the bottom of Victoria isn’t the best.

“Australia has only got so many motorcycle enthusiasts and they can’t go to both events because of the location of Phillip Island. If you live in Queensland it’s a two-week trip, so you only go to one.”

Mr Taylor believes Bathurst is perfect, in terms of geographic location, to house a motorcycle circuit.

“We are only four hours from the most densely populated area of Australia,” he said. “That’s from Wollongong going up through Sydney to Newcastle.

“If council got the land at Mount Panorama, anything could be possible for the second track. It could be developed into a full motorsport precinct. I know of businesses involved with the bikes who would move up here if we had the track.

“They don’t need to be based in Sydney anymore because the tyranny of distance doesn’t exist anymore.”

Mr Taylor said he is elated by the prospect of a second track.

“Because it would be a closed track and not a public road like Mount Panorama, there’s an endless number of uses for it,” he said.

“There could be an emphasis on something to do with road safety and young people. All forms of rider and driver training could be included, as well as having industrial businesses up there.

“The benefits to Bathurst would be up around the $25-$30 million mark every year, and that’s on top of the V8 Supercars and 12 Hour race. It would create jobs, too. It really does tick all the boxes.”

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CFA lacks gender diversity: commissioner

EMERGENCY WORKERS: Carol McCormack, Sarah Wynn, Nicole Eames and Shelly Cowen at Lake Weeroona on International Women’s Day. Picture: GLENN DANIELSTHECountry Fire Authorityis amale-dominated, overly Anglo-Saxon organisation which needs to become more diverse,Emergency ManagementCommissioner Craig Lapsley says.

The comments come as Mr Lapsley attended an International Women’s Day event in Bendigo on Sunday to celebrate women’scontribution to the emergency services.

There is one female career firefighter in Bendigo and she is one of eight women in the state – a small numbercompared to about 1000 male career firefighters.

Mr Lapsley said these career firefighter statistics,as well as female representation in other CFA roles,were a challenge to the organisation.

“What it tells you though is that we’re denying a large percentage of our community to be involved if we continue down that road and we’ve got to change that,” Mr Lapsley said.

“Communities in rural Victoria are getting smaller so therefore diversity is critical and it’s not just about gender, it’s about diversity.

“Because we’re still very strong in what we call the Anglo-Saxon profile, it’s got to be a diversityissue, not just a gender issue, but gender is a very important part.”

Mr Lapsley said the CFA needed to ask itself questions about its culture, the roles that are available and whether the stereotype of the heroic male was something that held women back from considering a firefighting career.

“There are some examples where there are some really strong CFA fire brigades that have got great female leadership, but in the main, the leadership of CFA across the state is male-dominated,” Mr Lapsleysaid.

“It’s not reflective of societal figures and therefore we have to look at it and do things differently and we’ve got to take actions that encourage the workforce to become more diverse.”

Mr Lapsley said other emergency services including police, ambulance and SES had better female representation.

New requirements placed on firefighters this year will mean firefighters have to be trained foremergency medical responses.

Given the number of female paramedics, Mr Lapsley said, medical duties might appeal to women considering firefighting work.

“It’s not necessarily just the hard firefighting bit, it’s got other elements,” he said.

Mr Lapsley said the lack of female representation in the CFA was not at crisis point, but indicated the organisation was not maximising people’s potential.

In contrast, BendigoSES spokesperson Natalie Stanway said gender diversity was not an issue at her unit because women accounted for 50 per cent of members.

These figures are also represented in the unit’s leadership witha femalecontroller,deputy controller and officers.

“The only time that you might encounter (gender issues)insome of the work that we do, is when we’re using the ‘jaws of life’,” Ms Stanway said.

“They are quite heavy and although, as a woman, I can use them, I will sometimes get my male counterparts to help me place them becausethey are27 kilograms.”

Ms Stanway said Sunday’s Lake Weeroona event was about celebratingthat many women’s partners support oftheir emergency work and their helpwith home-related responsibilities sowomencouldbe outserving the community.

Victorian Minister for Emergency Services Jane Garrett said there was a long way to goin terms of female representation in theemergency services and other sectors.

Ms Garrett said the community should commit to making sure girls had the same work opportunities as boys.

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Love in all forms celebrated at ChillOut festival

LOVE is love.

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.

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]苏州美甲美睫培训学校 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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