Letter to the editor

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 15-Dec-2017


Dear Prime Minister

It is Christmas. A time to reflect on our values and ethics.

Please declare an immediate amnesty for all those detained on Nauru and Manus. 

It doesn’t matter how they came. It doesn’t matter who is to blame.

They have done nothing illegal. In desperation they were fleeing the very terrorists we are fighting.

Enough is enough. The Bendigo Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children and other citizens of Bendigo call for the immediate safe resettlement of the children, women and men on Nauru.

We also join the national call for immediate safety and resettlement for the men held unjustly on Manus.

End this shameful, political farce. 

For four plus years we have punitively incarcerated these people. They are Australia’s responsibility, and have waited long enough. Innocent children’s lives have been put on hold. They have been abused.

At the very least, accept the New Zealand offer now. 

Di O’Neil

Convenor Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children

Interesting reading

Regular readers of the opinion pages in this paper will be well aware that former councillor Helen Leach has been an untiring supporter of the no campaign in the marriage equality debate.

Her objections to marriage equality are by now very familiar, but as the yes vote has won I shall not labour the point. Neither should she.

As our local member Lisa Chesters represents all voters in her electorate, regardless of how they voted in the marriage equality debate. 

Or even whether they voted at all.

Just because the yes vote won does not mean that no voters or non voters have suddenly been silenced or disenfranchised.

Ms Leach’s concluding remarks in her open letter to Lisa Chesters, Bendigo Weekly,  December 8 do, however, make very interesting reading.

“...no Australian, whether clergy or not, should be treated unfavourably or discriminated against because of their beliefs about marriage.”

Isn’t this precisely what the supporters of the yes campaign were advocating from the outset? 

Julie Hopper,


Inform the community

An open letter to Jacinta Allan and Maree Edwards.

As the school year comes to a close, it’s over 10 months since Mr Ernie Fleming was mysteriously removed from his position as Principal for Bendigo South East Secondary College.

I say mysteriously because the school and local community are still no wiser for his removal despite numerous requests for information and responses to this situation from both our local member and the regional office of the Department of Education and Training. 

Is this the way for our school community, the school council, parents and broader school supporters to be treated let alone the impact that this has had on Mr Fleming? 

Is this the way a government department should treat one of its most successful principals and schools for being a champion and leader in advocating for what is needed to provide the best public education for our children?

It’s time for the regional office and our local members to properly inform the community on what the issues were for Mr Fleming’s removal.

Why hasn’t our local member and the regional office responded to the numerous requests for information and consultation by the BSE school council on this issue?

Laurie Whelan,


Local pools keep everyone safe and happy

Summer is here, and there is no better place than the local swimming pool to cool off and spend time with friends and family.

Australian communities, whether in the city or the bush, are dotted with public swimming pools of all shapes and sizes, some built well over 50 years ago. 

They are the hub of many neighbourhoods. We urge Australians to use these pools all year round, but particularly over summer.

Royal Life Saving has been researching the benefits of the local pool, and have found that health benefits outstrip the cost of entry fivefold. 

Research shows that 40 per cent of Australians are physically inactive and at-risk of developing type two diabetes, heart disease and other related illnesses. 

Our findings indicate people can greatly improve their health by visiting the local pool for a swim once a week. Aqua-aerobics, slow lap swimming, even walking laps can also provide low impact training options.

However, many public pools are under pressure, in need of re-development or at-risk of being closed, and so hundreds of people through the turnstiles will send a message that they are essential parts of the Australian way of life.

Remember that although the pool lifeguards are highly trained, they are not babysitters. They need your help. 

Some pools have introduced programs to keep you off your phone and focused on your child’s safety. Actively supervise and stay within arm’s reach of children under five. Look out for signage, talk to the lifeguard, introduce your kids and explain the rules.

Last summer we had great weather, but there were too many tragic drowning incidents, many in rivers, beaches and home pools. 

This summer, why not try the local pool? Let’s keep the heart of the community open so everyone can stay safe and healthy.

Justin Scarr, CEO

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia 

A high price to pay

Isn’t it scandalous that Police Minister Lisa Neville has promised to bill the venue and organisers of Milo’s visit to Melbourne? $50,000.

Shouldn’t she be billing the Left Antifa violent protestors who necessitated the presence of some riot police? 

Shouldn’t they be fined for causing damage and assault? This is effectively censorship of any ideas contrary to the Left PC; or as the minister says “controversial”. 

So, the lesson is clear. If you choose to exercise your freedom of speech or listen to someone speaking what thousands of young people are thinking, then there is a price, a high price to pay. 

Shame on the Andrews government, shame on Victoria Police. 

Helen Leach,


Let’s make this the festive season of belonging

For many Australians, the festive season is one of joy and connection, where friendships and family are celebrated, food is shared and holiday plans are made. 

Yet for others in our neighbourhoods, that sense of togetherness, warmth and belonging will not be felt, and rather an acute sense of loneliness will take hold.

Christmas day might be lunch for one, sleeping rough or spent with the paralysing uncertainty of not knowing where family is, after being separated because of war or conflict.

There is hope. At Red Cross loneliness is not something to be ashamed of. We’re there for people who have nobody else: calling and visiting, driving them to appointments, offering one-to-one support to those struggling with mental illness, or giving a warm welcome to those seeking safety from violence or persecution.

We know loneliness doesn’t discriminate. It stealthily creeps into our lives, no matter our age, gender or ethnicity, and takes hold when tragedy happens, like losing a loved one, a divorce or losing your job. 

And if you don’t catch it early, loneliness can reach chronic levels and have a significant effect on our health.

But it’s bigger than that. When there’s no one by your side, and you’re feeling deeply isolated, communities start to become less trusting, there’s more fear and places start to feel less safe. 

It’s time for Australians to change that. Red Cross is calling on you to make this the Season of Belonging, by taking simple steps.

Be kind on social media, say hello to your neighbours, volunteer or check on someone you know is in trouble.

A donation to Red Cross will also help us continue on our mission to work with half a million of the most socially excluded Australians to build the vital connections they need. You can help: redcross.org.au/act.

Wenda Donaldson,

Director Victoria, Australian Red Cross


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