Revive our CBD

Like many, I rarely shop in the CBD because I object to the parking fees. My shopping dollars therefore go to retail outlets where free parking is provided, both here in Bendigo and Melbourne.
Recently however, I chose to pay $3.80 for two hours spent in the CBD, chiefly in the Hargreaves Mall.
Since I parked outside the Bendigo library I decided to wander in for a quick look and discovered a warm and welcoming community hub.
But why should we need to pay parking fees in order to partake of all this incredible free facility has to offer?
Next I ventured to the mall. Initially I could be forgiven for thinking that nothing was open.
When I did venture into some shops, I was greeted like a long-lost friend. These faithful retailers spoke of hard times and a council that does not support their loyalty.
Come on Bendigo council; take heart.
1. Parking should be free for all retail areas in Bendigo.
2. Both sides of the mall should be joined under one roofline and retailers given a chance to rent new shop spaces.
3. Keep some outdoor lawned areas for relaxation, playgrounds and concerts and the like.
4. Turn the soon to be vacant Officeworks building into a welcoming and vibrant hub. Fresh meats, seafood, fruit and vegetables could be bought and sold there, including multi-cultural delights.
Pop-up stalls could co-exist with permanent shops to provide a community meeting spot. A food hall with coffee shops and bakeries would do well too.
My ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Councillors, please don’t spend our money on out-of-town, professionals who think they know best as to how our city centre will thrive. This was done before, with horrendous results.
Survey ratepayers and be stunned by local ideas. Be a council who is for its people, by its people and with its people.

Barb Collins,
East Bendigo


No sympathy

Thank you for your very biased article on Ernie Fleming and the comments from the Victorian Principals Association.
You have belittled those staff who have had the courage to stand up for what they know is wrong.
You have demeaned the opportunity for future staff to report things that are not quite right to the department.
Only things that are of a serious nature or compromise the integrity of the department get escalated to this point.
Ernie Fleming has had the opportunity to defend these allegations from the time of his removal as principal, and should have resigned then, but chose not to and take leave and take more money from the education department’s pockets.
Which means us as tax payers have paid for his leave.
I have no sympathy for him and, like a lot of middle-aged principals, the agenda becomes their ego and not what is right for the school or the education department.

Bev Gardiner,


Boaters deserve a home

Bendigo Dragon Boat crews deserve a proper home.
The crews operate from a modest corrugated iron shed at Lake Weeroona, which is rather inadequate given the role they play in the Bendigo community.
Dragon’s Abreast was formed in 2002 to support women recovering from breast cancer.
Dragon’s Afloat was formed in 2010 and supports men recovering from prostrate and other cancers.
The crews provide an avenue for cancer survivors to come together for emotional support, to continue their rehabilitation to good health, and to help people who may be grieving.
They deserve better facilities.

R Beachley,


Animal abuse a red flag

People in northern Victoria and throughout the country are rightly dismayed at the light sentence handed out in the case of the teenager who put a seven-week-old kitten in a microwave oven.
The kitten suffered massive internal damage but was not euthanised until the next day.
The offender was given neither a fine nor a conviction, just six months’ probation.
Under the Victorian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, offences can result in fines of $74,000 or imprisonment for up to two years but, despite this, penalties for cases of cruelty to animals are rarely imposed to the full extent of the law.
In this case, the magistrate observed that the act was “horrible” but that the offender “had not understood the impact his behaviour would have on his life and reputation”. The unimaginable suffering and impact on the kitten was not mentioned.
Numerous studies show that people who harm other animals often move on to harm their fellow humans.
One US study found that animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans.
An Australian study revealed that 100 per cent of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of animal cruelty.
It’s time that this country started to treat cases of cruelty to animals as the serious crimes that they are, because the whole of society is at risk when we don’t.
If you suspect someone of abusing an animal, report it to authorities right away for the safety of humans and other animals.

Desmond Bellamy,
Special Projects Coordinator,
PETA Australia


City’s care top rate
Recently my wife was admitted to the Bendigo hospital. Prior to attending the hospital, I rang the Nurse-on-Call who directed me to an on-call emergency doctor.
After a thorough question and answer session it was determined that she was probably experiencing what is called transient global amnesia and that I should immediately take her to the emergency department.
The diagnosis was immediately emailed to me in a report which I was able to download on my phone. On attending the emergency department, I showed the triage nurse the report.
Within a short period of time, tests and a CT scan were conducted and my wife was admitted to the emergency treatment section.
The tests eliminated the possibility that a stroke had occurred and confirmed the initial diagnosis.
After a rather long stay in the emergency department, my wife was eventually moved to the medial ward.
The new building is extremely good. However, more importantly was the professionalism of the staff. There was a consistent stream of staff checking and double checking every possible aspect of my wife’s well-being.
Although the staff were only doing what they’re trained to do, we consider ourselves fortunate to live in a city that has such competent and committed medical professionals.

Stephen Mooney,
Golden Square

Flawed investigation

We should not be surprised by the resignation of Ernie Fleming from the position of principal of Bendigo South East College.
The 18 month “Speak up” process investigation by the Department of Education and Training has created enormous pressure on Ernie and his family.
The Victorian Principals Association position paper on DET’s Speak Up process/investigation guidelines states “There is real concern for the health and wellbeing of principals being subjected to ‘Speak Up’ investigations”.
It also states “Principals are being treated unfairly”. Many may wonder how Mr Fleming lasted this long.
The ”Speak Up“ investigations are recognised by the Victorian Principals Association as a flawed process.
Some of our assumptions about justice are challenged by DET’s Speak Up process. For example freedom of speech and access to documentation are restricted. The VPA implies that the DET investigations deny principals natural justice.
The 18 month DET investigation at Bendigo South East College raises serious questions. Who investigates the investigators?
Will DET officials be held to account for conducting an investigation, based on anonymous accusations, which occupied an extraordinary 18 months and denied a school community the leadership of Mr Fleming. Is this the behaviour we expect from our education department?
One wonders what strategies have been employed by DET during the investigation. The VPA Position Paper states that the whole investigative process contravenes a code of conduct which in part “ensures freedom from discrimination, harassment and bullying”.
The paper also states that principals investigated by DET as part of the “Speak Up” process report feeling “uninformed, confused and disrespected”.
Does DET have another agenda it is pursuing? Relevant politicians and DET officials were alerted to concerns about this investigation last year.
Time may reveal the action of DET officials and policies. In the future this investigation may be held as an example of how not to conduct an investigation.

Phillip Ellison,
Kangaroo Flat