Apr 27, 2010

Last Chance to register for Seniors Garden Party

My annual Seniors Garden Party is on this Sunday, May 2 … it has come around quite quickly this year.  Don’t forget to put your name down if you are planning on coming along so that we can cater for you.  It’s a day of recognition and acknowledgement of our Senior residents. It’s the day when we, the community say thank you for all you have done. So if you live in the City of Botany Bay come along and enjoy being pampered for a couple of hours.

Apr 26, 2010

Daceyville residents, past and present, we need some help!

To celebrate History Week in September 2010 takes some planning, especially if we want to showcase the history of Daceyville.

To ensure that Council’s George Hanna Memorial Museum presents an exhibition that will bring out the history of Daceyville, we need a little help from Daceyville residents – past and present. If you’ve lived in the suburb, have any stories, photographs or objects connected to the neighbourhood, please contact the Museum’s curator
via phone, 9366 3802 or email: museum@botanybay.nsw.gov.au  

Nicknamed “Audaciousville” during its construction, Daceyville was built as a response to rehousing those who lived in the slum-like housing conditions in The Rocks at the turn of the 20th century. Based on the then progressive ideas of the English “Garden City” movement, the suburb brought many firsts to Australia, including public housing and the country’s first cul-de-sac (in Colonel Braund Crescent).

While much formal documentation exists on Daceyville, we’re asking anyone connected with Daceyville to help the museum exhibit a more personalised
view of life in the suburb.

Apr 25, 2010

Trees for Mum

This Mother’s Day – Sunday May 9 so no one forgets – will be marked by Council’s participation in “Trees for Mum”. This is the initiative of two women, Lauren Adlam and Deena Raphael who decided to get people to plant a tree to honour their mums.  Lauren and Deena say it’s an ideal way to pay tribute to mothers who have passed away but also mums who are still the centre of a family.

Like any great idea, this one was simple and with wide community support and has now grown to a national activity where more than 20,000 people have spent part of Mother’s Day planting a tree. We’ve decided that “Trees for Mum” will be located at Sir Joseph Banks Park at the Tupia Street end between 9.00am and noon on May 9. The location is perfect as the use of native trees fits with Sir Joseph Banks Park, there is ample nearby parking, we have a ready supply of mulch to encourage growth in the trees, it is adjacent to Council’s depot so that watering will be maintained and this area is accessible to everyone in the community. We’ll have a range of native trees available to be planted and there will be Council staff on hand to assist and advise.  

We’ll also have some spades ready for those who want to plant a tree for their mum.  Everything will be provided free of charge as not only Council’s support of mother’s day but also for an initiative that will make our City greener. If you’d like to be part of “Trees for Mum” just turn up at the Tupia Street entrance to Sir Joseph Banks Park between 9.00am and noon on Mother’s Day.

Apr 24, 2010

Care missing in Brimble case

Caroline Hutchinson – Sunshine Coast Daily – 23 April 2010

IS it just me or is everyone praying for the Brimble family’s pain to be over?

Almost eight years after Dianne Brimble’s humiliating death on the floor of a ship’s cabin, this week the Redcliffe mother was dealt a final insult.

A lengthy investigation, 16-month coronial inquest and subsequent manslaughter charges failed to secure a conviction over the mother of three’s death on the first night of her “holiday of a lifetime.”

NSW Supreme Court judge Roderick Howie this week said that while the accused Mark Wilhelm might have been “bad, loutish or even insensitive” on the night of Dianne Brimble’s death, he was not legally responsible for her manslaughter.

That means eight so-called persons of interest have now all escaped major charges over Ms Brimble’s death aboard the Pacific Sky cruise ship.

Justice Howie told the court that “the community (must) be aware that ... although the death of Ms Brimble was, to say the least, unfortunate, it was only technically Mr Wilhelm’s fault.

“She was an adult, and, on the evidence, voluntarily took the drug.

“She did not believe that it would injure her and neither did Mr Wilhelm believe it would injure her.

“Although he might have been morally or technically responsible for the death of Ms Brimble, I doubt he was legally responsible.”

Bottom line, the offer of a drug alone does not amount to manslaughter.

What I can’t reconcile is the duty of care.

While they have never been made public, the police recovered and tended up to 150 photos of Wilhelm and his ship mate Leo Silvestri continuing to use Ms Brimble for their sexual gratification after she had lapsed into unconsciousness.

Even in the daylight, when the pair claim they tried mouth- to-mouth resuscitation and showered Ms Brimble, they still didn’t alert the ship’s medical services.

All we’re left with, I guess, is the cautionary tale.

Leo Silvestri told the police that Dianne Brimble’s death in his cabin ruined his holiday.

Witnesses told the inquest Mr. Silvestri joked with fellow passengers that he considered throwing her body overboard.

In his first interview, in which Mr. Silvestri denied any involvement with Ms Brimble he told police that the night before she died Ms Brimble allegedly walked up to his table and said: ‘Hi, how are you going?’

“It’s like, ‘Hi, see you.’ I just brushed her off; I didn’t want to speak to her ... breath, yuck, ugly dog, just go talk to someone else. Ring the RSPCA,” Silvestri said.

Later in the interview, Mr. Silvestri repeatedly referred to Ms. Brimble as the “thing” and called her the “ugly dog”.

He prided himself on the fact he didn’t “talk to anything over 60 kilos”.

Dianne Brimble’s long-suffering family sat patiently through hours of similar evidence including secretly taped telephone conversations in which Mark Wilhelm is heard abusing and blaming Ms Brimble, and painting himself as “the real victim here”.

Someone raised these men.

Someone taught them that women don’t matter, that other people’s feelings and safety are irrelevant.

I’ve said it before, I know, but if Dianne Brimble’s story is worth anything, hopefully, it reminds us to consider how we are raising our sons.

For the sake of Dianne Brimble, and every fat, friendly girl who just wants someone to like her, look around today.

Look at your sons, and ask yourself what their values are?

Is your boy kind?

Is he generous of spirit?

Does he think about the needs of other people?

Is he brave?

Do you trust him to do the right thing?

Would your son stand up for a drunken girl being harassed or degraded by a group of older blokes?

Would he drag Dianne Brimble out of a ship’s cabin and call for help?

Look at your son.

Ask yourself if he’s that kind of boy. Because that’s the type of man we need him to be.

Apr 23, 2010

Saga ends with lives still to heal, questions to be asked

GEESCHE JACOBSEN – Sydney Morning Herald – April 22, 2010.

Both the inquest into the cruise ship death of Dianne Brimble and a criminal trial came to similarly sad finales, writes Geesche Jacobsen.

Dianne Brimble was killed by some person or persons, by someone slipping her a lethal dose of a date rape drug without her knowledge for the sole purpose of their own sexual gratification and the sexual assault and abuse of Mrs Brimble.

So began the opening of the coronial inquest four years ago into Dianne Brimble's death. This alleged fate of the Queensland mother - being drugged and raped and left to die on the floor of a cruise ship cabin shared by four men - unleashed unprecedented public interest in the case. The enormous sympathy for Brimble's family was matched only by the antipathy for eight Adelaide men who were at least once all painted as rapists and murderers. The behaviour of some, especially Leo Silvestri, before and after the death did nothing to endear them to the public.

At the end, charges were recommended against three of them but yesterday's decision to drop manslaughter charges clears the supposed main player, Mark Wilhelm, of any criminal responsibility for her death, ending the saga.

The decision, however surprising to the public, was made after what a judge yesterday called the ''rumour, misinformation, supposition and conjecture'' of the inquest died down. This allowed a close look at the relevant evidence and legal principles.

The contrast between the 12-week inquest, which ran from March 2006 to July 2007, and yesterday's outcome could not have been greater. The shift was already apparent during Wilhelm's trial late last year when a jury could not decide whether he was guilty of Brimble's manslaughter. A retrial was averted by yesterday's decision to drop the manslaughter charge.

The inquest, in the small, bright court room at the Glebe Coroner's Court, had been driven along by colourful characters, incriminating photos and sordid details.

Every day the seats in the public gallery were filled by Brimble's family, court watchers and representatives of nearly every major media outlet in Sydney.

Headed by Jacqueline Milledge, the former senior deputy state coroner known for her compassion for victims, the inquest looked at what had happened on board the Pacific Sky cruise ship before and after Brimble's death. It looked into the police investigation and the cruise industry in general.
Last year's trial with Justice Roderick Howie - known for his sharp legal mind and impatience with wordy lawyers - presiding, was held in a vast, austere, dark-panelled Supreme Court room at Darlinghurst with an almost empty gallery.
No family, hardly any media and only a few court watchers saw the case unfold. There were 35 witnesses, compared with the 95 who had appeared at the Coroner's Court.

Much of what had caught the imagination of the public at the inquest - allegations Silvestri had offered drugs to passengers on board, suggestions some of the men had propositioned several young women and comments by Silvestri blaming Brimble for ruining his holiday - was now irrelevant.

There were no allegations about alleged criminal activities by some of the men back in Adelaide or criticism of investigating police who had danced with witnesses.

No evidence was led about Brimble's supposed prudish and conservative nature, her reluctance to show her body or her old-fashioned sexual attitudes. Instead, by then it was accepted that Brimble had not been drugged, that she had taken the drug willingly, just as she had willingly embarked on the sexual encounter with Wilhelm. There was not enough evidence, beyond reasonable doubt, to suggest otherwise.
Despite the inquest's approach, the case was not about moral responsibility, about what ought to have been done. And ''bad, loutish or maybe even insensitive behaviour'' as Justice Howie called it, is no crime.

Should she have been photographed during sex?

Should she have been kicked off the bed?

Should she have been left lying on the floor, having defecated?

Should people - young men and four young women from another cabin - have laughed about her, even looked at her, and done nothing?

The answers appear obvious in the sober light of day. But these are largely moral questions, not matters of law. There was no general duty to help a stranger in distress, however unusual that seemed, Justice Howie told the jury after the prosecution acknowledged in the final days of the trial it could not prove Wilhelm had had a duty of care towards Brimble. No legal duty. Nor could it prove whether she was still alive when he first learnt of her distress and if therefore he could have done anything to prevent her death.

This left the Crown trying to prove Wilhelm was legally responsible for her death because he had given her an illegal drug, gamma hydroxybutyrate, which ''substantially contributed'' to her death.

How far back, the judge asked rhetorically, do you go in the chain of responsibility? Do you blame the person who sold Brimble the ticket for the cruise? Do you blame Wilhelm, who made the drug available to her? Or do you blame Brimble, the ''42 year-old free-thinking adult'' for accepting the offer?

Ultimately, the prosecution's case came down to a short conversation between Wilhelm and Brimble seven years ago, overheard by cabinmate Ryan Kuchel, who had said he had been woken when Brimble and Wilhelm came to his cabin.

''I remember hearing a voice … and the voice asked Mark what he was doing. He told the female voice that he was having some fantasy. He asked her if she wanted any. She asked what it was. He said it was like ecstasy but it made you 10 times hornier. She was not quite sure. She asked whether it was dangerous. He said no, it was just like ecstasy.''

In intercepted telephone calls Wilhelm disputed part of this version. ''That's the thing. I actually didn't offer it to her. She asked what it was. I told her, she said she wanted to try it,'' he said in a conversation with an unknown male in June 2006.
The result must come as a great relief, and vindication, for Wilhelm - and to a lesser extent the other seven men - but the day is tinged with sadness. Sadness not just about the needless death of a woman who was loved by friends and family. Sadness for the impact this had on so many lives. And sadness about the failings of someone to step up and fulfil the moral obligations we all would hope for if we were in Brimble's situation.

Geesche Jacobsen is writing a book on the Brimble case.

Apr 22, 2010

From Morning Tea to belle of the ball

We’ve got a great example of community spirit down in Eastlakes in the guise of Mary Urgate.  

For the past few years, Mary has organised the local version of the “Biggest Morning Tea”, where people get together and raise money for Cancer Council NSW.  She’s raised over $13,000 for this really worthwhile organisation.  Mary was moved to get involved when a close friend and some of her family were stricken with cancer – and she is certainly making a difference in her support for Cancer Council NSW.  Not content with what she’s done to date, Mary is about to venture into event organisation on a grander scale than an office or home morning tea.  

To raise money – and have a bit of fun – Mary will take us to the ball.  She’s organising a Black & White Ball for May 21 and everyone from our City is invited.  For $120 a head (or $1100 for a table of ten) you get to have a great night with a four course meal, wine, beer and soft drinks topped off with live entertainment.  The Black & White Ball in support of Cancer Council NSW will be held at Conca D’oro Events Centre at 269 Belmore Road, Riverwood with drinks at 7.00pm and dinner at 7.30pm. This event is worth supporting and if you’d like to get a ticket (or reserve a table) you can by contacting Mary on 0419 420 805 or 9667 2478 or via email at mary@manorism.com.au

Apr 19, 2010

Council's food service gets a positive tick

The NSW Food Authority, which is responsible for ensuring that the food we buy is fit to eat, has just completed an audit of Council’s Food Services Program, our Meals on Wheels and our Centre Based Meals – all vital community services, especially for our seniors.  It’s all part of food licensing to make sure what we provide to the community is good and safe.  We always work to maintain the highest standards and we’re pleased to say the Food Authority has given us the highest possible rating – an “A”.  I want to congratulate Pauline from our Aged Services, her staff and the great team of volunteers who provide a great service to the community.

Apr 18, 2010

Seniors Garden Party ­ Sunday May 2

It’s the premier social event of our seniors’ calendar – even more popular than a Melbourne Cup lunch, and far more fun.  

What I’m talking about is the Seniors Garden Party, which this year we’ll be holding on Sunday May 2.  It will kick off at 11am in the Sir Joseph Bank Pleasure Gardens and I know it’s an event anticipated by all our local seniors.  

It’s our City’s way of recognising and thanking the invaluable role that is played in the community by our seniors – not only now but in the past.

The one thing we do ask is that those locals who want to attend do let us know so we can make sure that the catering and all the facilities are targeted for the right numbers. You can let us know by either contacting my office on 9366 3600 or Community Services on 93663889.

You will be required to give your name and address when registering, as this party is for those seniors who live within the City of Botany Bay.  This year’s Seniors Garden Party will be bigger and better than ever.  We’ll all have a great day – but you have to let us know you’re joining in the fun.

Apr 15, 2010

Botany Bay's World Cup bid

Southern Courier 12 April 2010 by Leesa Smith.

Football Federation Australia has approached Botany Bay Council to use Hensley Athletic Field as an official training site for future FIFA World Cup events.

A self-confessed soccer fan, Botany Bay mayor Ron Hoenig said if Australia’s World Cup bid in 2018 or 2022 was successful, some of the world’s biggest sports stars, such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, could find themselves at the home of former Australian captain Johnny Warren.

Cr Hoenig said Warren, who passed away in 2004 after a long battle with lung cancer, had grown up in Botany and played junior football for Botany Methodists before carving out an impressive international career.

Warren made his full international debut for Australia in November 1965 and in 1967 he captained the national team for the first time in a match against New Zealand in Saigon. He went on to captain Australia in 24 internationals.

Cr Hoenig said preparations were under way to make Hensley Athletic Field in Eastgardens fit for the world’s greatest football tournament.

The field is undergoing a $2 million facelift, which caused controversy when the council revised the plans to include a synthetic soccer field and one less running lane for athletics events.

Opponents of the Hensley Athletics Field redevelopment, including former triple Olympian Ron Crawford, claim athletics has been left behind with the re-development.

“This facility would have been a great asset to the community but now it’s an asset to some elite group of people,” he said. “They have put the World Cup ahead of their community. We are paying the price for this World Cup bid which is speculative.”

But Cr Hoenig said Hensley would still remain a multi-sport facility.

“We could conceivably see little athletics one day and then the next one of the world’s premier football teams - the Brazilians, French, German, English or even the Socceroos, training down at Hensley when the focus of the sporting world is on the World Cup,” he said.

The Federal Government approved $45.6 million for Football Federation Australia to officially launch and lobby for the soccer World Cup in 2018 in December.

The money, which will be paid over the next three years, is to secure at least 13 votes from the 24-strong FIFA executive to gain Australia the World Cup ahead of rivals England, Russia, the US, Spain, Qatar, Mexico, a combined Netherlands-Belgium bid and a possible Asian rival, China.


Apr 12, 2010

A reminder of our convict past

There are only a few spots left for the lecture on a interesting aspect of our convict past to be given this coming Saturday at the Central Library at Eastgardens.  The lecture revolved around Simeon Lord who was a miller.  The connections to our current City are obvious – Mill Pond, Mill Pond Road, Lord Street, which are all located close to each other.

The connection comes from Lord’s Botany flour mill, when he dammed a local creek to get the energy to drive the mill.  Water power in those days was the only way to go – with rising electricity prices I sometimes wonder how far we have come.  Mr Lord came to the colony of New South Wales in chains and through hard work ended up a very wealthy man, hence the title of the lecture “Simeon Lord – From Chains to Riches”.

Council’s Heritage Reference Librarian Mark Butler will deliver the lecture, which is part of the 2010 National Trust Heritage Festival.  It’s at the Central Library on Saturday April 17 and it begins at 2.00pm.  The lecture is free but you will have to book, which you can do by calling the Central Library on 9366 3888.

Apr 11, 2010

Let's Look After our Nature Strips

The continuing hot weather (when will it ever end) along with higher than normal rain has given our outdoor staff an almost impossible task – keeping the nature strips looking neat and tidy.  This is not the same sort of problem as illegally dumped rubbish (which I want to talk about next week), but it’s another step in making the City look good.  

We’re one of the very few councils in NSW that looks after nature strips and the outdoor staff do a great job.  But nature being nature means that when there’s water and heat things grow faster and higher.  The outdoor gangs are almost chasing their tails to keep all the nature strips mowed and tidy. If we take a little longer in our constant mowing cycles across the City then I think everyone understands.

More than a few local residents have taken it upon themselves and kept their own nature strips in top condition. For that we thank them. I’ve had a few calls at the office about lush growth in the nature strips and I same the same thing – we’ll get to your street as soon as we can.

Rubbish makes our City look less than good - Dumpers Beware

In moving around the City and talking to my fellow residents I’ve been struck by the unsightliness of illegally dumped rubbish in a few areas.

We’ve always had our City looking good.  Council works with residents to make it so.  

What happens is that a few people, lazy people, dump rubbish wherever they feel like it.  

It leads to unsightly streets and neighbourhoods.  

I had some residents come into my office last week to give details about rubbish being just dumped down the street from them.  Fortunately, it doesn’t happen all that often but even once is a blight on our City.  Council moves as quick as it can to get rid of illegally dumped rubbish and carefully examines it in order to trace the dumpers.  That’s our own scaled down version of CSI.  

Once we trace the source we prosecute the dumpers to make the dumpers pay.  

For that we make no apologies – no matter what excuses are offered.

Council provides regular clean-up services for rubbish that can’t be taken away with the household garbage. But if people don’t take advantage of our service and just dump unwanted items on the streets then we will pursue them whenever and wherever we can.  

Like the overwhelming majority of our residents, we want our City to look good all the time – that’s what we’re here for.

Apr 9, 2010

Magic at the Eastgardens Library

At the Central Library in Eastgardens children again on Thursday 15th April children from 4 years and up can learn how to make Lily flowers for Mum on her special day from 2.30pm to 4.00pm.
On Friday 16th April, the Magic Jester Shayne Richards pops in for a visit and will do two shows, the first will be a magic show at 10.30am to 11.20am followed by a Balloon Workshop from 11.30am to 12.20. Bookings are necessary for this activity and can be made in person by visiting the library and speaking with Candy.  There is a small fee of $2 to be paid when booking.

Apr 6, 2010

Hensley Field Part of Australia's World Cup Bid

I wish to advise that Council has agreed to a request by Football Federation Australia (FFA) that an upgraded Hensley Athletics Field be use as a World Cup official training site.  The selection of Hensley will now be part of the Australian bid to host either the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup – the world’s second biggest sporting event.

As part of hosting the World Cup, FFA must provide not only match venues but training venues for all the participating nations. The training venues are not just suburban pitches – they have to meet a high standard. And that’s what the upgraded Hensley Field does – meet high standards.  Not only for athletics and football, but for other codes as well.

When Council embarked on the upgrade and revitalisation of Hensley Field, in conjunction with the Australian Government, we wanted to ensure that we had sporting facilities that would meet a wide range of requirements. It was to be a multi-sport facility – and that’s what it will be.

We could conceivably see little athletics one day and one of the world’s premier football teams – the Brazilians, French, Italians, Germans, English or even the Socceroos, training down at Hensley when the focus of the sporting world is on the World Cup.

Council is pleased to be able to participate in the bid for the world’s greatest football tournament. The selection of Hensley by FFA underpins not only Council’s aim for this facility but also our perseverance in getting the revitalisation underway.

I also want to thank the Australian Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese for his support in getting this project from the drawing board to where it is today – well underway.

Apr 1, 2010

Where else but the Lucky Country

Should I need to be reminded how lucky we are to live in Australia, and what makes it special, I only have to reflect on two events that happened right here in the City of Botany Bay before the country celebrated Easter.

Where else in the world would you find a Rabbi and Catholic Priest getting their communities together to learn about each others traditions for “Passover”  or where else in the world would you find children and parents from all backgrounds, cultures and beliefs gathering Easter Eggs for the elderly and taking part in an Easter Hat parade.

All accepting and sharing and living in harmony.  But that is what is special about Australia, and in particular the City of Botany Bay.  The two events I mention were the Eastlakes Public Schools annual Easter Parade and egg donation to our Meals on Wheels recipients and the other, was when Father Jersey from St Michael’s Daceyville invited Rabbi Perez from Maroubra Synagogue to exchange information, and learn about each others culture and religious belief and traditions.

If world leaders could replicate what these two events achieve on a larger scale the world would certainly be a brighter and more peaceful place.  Well done to Eastlakes and to St Michaels.