Mattresses no longer a landfill burden

According to recent studies by Blue Environment Pty Ltd, Australia has now become one of the biggest producers of green house gases and produces more waste per capita than the US, Canada and New Zealand. Australia is also ranked the twelfth highest waste generator out of the 35 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD).

The same report also shows that levels of landfill waste in Australia have been rising faster than the national birth rate. In the period between 1996-2015, the Australian population rose by 28%, however, waste generation increased by 170%, resulting in waste growth levels of 7.8% a year.

While levels of landfill waste are growing at a concerning rate, Australia’s recycling recovery rate of 60% is the third highest out of the other OECD countries. This is due to better incentives that prohibit unsorted waste going to landfill, better use of advanced waste processing technologies, and in part due to higher waste disposal costs.

However, in Victoria, large volumes of landfill capacity in close proximity to Melbourne provide relatively cheap access to landfill disposal and has resulted in competitive landfill markets.

Furthermore, there are a limited range of resource recovery technologies in operation, resulting in lost opportunities to recover used materials.

The TIC Group is a mattress recycling company based in Melbourne who recognise the importance of waste reduction and are one of the only major mattress recycling companies in Australia.

“We’re the second company to do this outside of the Netherlands. We’ve automated the process of deconstructing the mattress, however, it’s Dutch technology,” said TIC Group CEO, Michael Warren.

“We collect mattresses from all over Melbourne and about 3000 mattresses a year from the City of Yarra. We deconstruct the mattresses, the steel is sent off to be shredded, and we recover the foam and turn it into carpet underlay.”

“We recover about 75-80% of the mattress, which would otherwise go to landfill,” he said.

Michael says that this is just the beginning and that the company hopes to increase the number of mattresses recycled.

“We started from scratch 4 years ago and in July we processed just over 10,000 mattresses. The growth has been quite steady and we think we’re still just scratching the market in terms of what’s available,” said Michael.

Mattress parts being recycled. Photo: TIC Group.

“Every mattress we divert from ending up in landfill is around 0.75 of a cubic metre, so we are diverting around 100,000 cubic metres from landfill, but not only that, we are also doing resource recovery and recycling many different materials,” he said.

As waste levels continue to increase year on year the conversation concerning environmental damage has fast become a hot topic. Australian radio and television comedian, Craig Reucassel, explored the impact of waste in Australia in a three-part series aired on the ABC earlier this year –  War on Waste.

Craig’s campaign gained a lot of traction in Australia, with his #BYOCoffeeCup tram video going viral on social media. His aim? To change behaviours and show people the lasting impact of waste on the environment.

Speaking to Craig about his campaign, he told The Yarra Reporter that: “Overall I’m very pleased with the response. There’s been a huge increase in people using their own [coffee] cups. There has been a 690% increase in KeepCup sales – that was the last figure. It has also helped supermarkets in using less plastic bags.”

“The mattress waste reduction by the TIC Group is very much so a worthwhile project. Due to their size [mattresses] are a difficult part of the waste stream, there are a lot of resources in there. It’s definitely a positive.”

“Matresses are a huge litter object, you see them dumped a lot on the side of the roads … They are an issue we might look at in the future,” said Craig.

Disposing of dumped and littered items not only poses an environmental threat, it also comes at a high financial cost to local governments and other agencies.

Between 2012 and 2013 the City of Yarra’s Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2014-2018 reported spending $5,500,000 cleaning up litter and dumped objects, and recycling.

Environmental assessments have shown that for most materials, recycling results in net savings in energy and reductions in green house gas emissions. The Waste generation and resource recovery in Australia report also shows significant savings in water use and the equivilant of 1.5% of Australia’s total emissions, due to resource recovery.

The increase in levels of landfill have had a negative impact on the environment, which is why campaigns advocating waste minimisation, such as the War on Waste, and the work of companies like the TIC Group are important in helping to increase recovery rates and reduce landfill.

For more information on the TIC Group and their work head over to their website here.

Written by Deniz Karaman

AAIS: A Place for Integration, Community and Faith

The Albanian Australian Islamic Society (AAIS) mosque is situated in a blink-and-you-might-miss nook in North Carlton. This stands as an interesting metaphor for the seamless integration of the Albanian Muslim community into Australian life.

The AAIS is a religious space that aids cultural assimilation and provides education for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It has wholeheartedly contributed to the formation of the Yarra’s rich and multi-layered identity.

At an early age, Vahid’s family migrated to Australia. His parents hailed from the coastal Ulqin (pronounced Oullchin).

“I was actually born in Rome (Italy) where my parents resided in an estate mainly for European refugees and migrants planning to travel abroad,” Vahid says.

“My parents and I (11 months old at the time) boarded the Italian ship named Galileo, which was on route to Australia, and after a 30-day voyage by sea we docked at Port Melbourne on December 3rd,  1970. This also happened to be my very first birthday,” Vahid says.

Vahid and his family are no strangers to cultural shock and ennui. Shortly after they arrived, his family joined the AAIS.

On being asked about the best method for combating alienation, he prescribed socialising.

“Such activities bring you closer to other people in the community, it creates an environment for individuals to interact and meet with other people, then gradually friends can be made,” Vahid says.

Inside the Albanian Australian Islamic Society’s Mosque (North Carlton) on Open Day Melbourne. Photo: Devana Senanayake

The AAIS’s social activities and educational programs encourage people to group together. As a result of the interaction, they learn from one another and move to achieve goals that benefit the larger community.

In 1997, Vahid joined the AAIS Executive Committee as a volunteer.

Some of the society’s standout events include the annual Kid’s Bayram Eid Carnival and Bayram Eid Dinner Celebration. Eid, also called the “Sacrifice Feast”, is a Muslim holiday celebrated worldwide.

Both of these events fall on an important day of the Muslim calendar and are particularly loved by the Albanian Muslim community.

Vahid recalls the 2003 Building and Renovation project. The project aimed to restore the beauty of the Albanian Mosque and also expand to aid the increasing number of attendees.  This is a brilliant example of an ambitious vision that ensued due to the support provided through the collectivised AAIS community.

Donations and time contributed by volunteers played a massive factor in the success. Moreover, dinners and BBQ’s helped raise funds. Vahid calls this a triumph for his community and a brilliant exposition for general society.

“I can still recall the sense of happiness we all felt when the project was finally completed,” Vahid says.

Vahid became president of the AAIS in 2006, initiating the successful set up of The AAIS Youth Center. The center has a café, social corner, sports facilities, recreation area and educational space.

Vahid claims that the biggest achievement is the bloom of multigenerational interaction – a true rarity in these isolated, technology fuelled days.

“We have kids, teenagers, parents, and grandparents all visiting The AAIS’s Youth Centre and spending their time there together,” Vahid says.

The AAIS have laboriously worked to conserve the Albanian Muslim faith, language, and tradition and have initiated multicultural relationships in the Yarra area.

The Albanians are very hospitable people – they are quick to welcome you in and accommodate you in their community. This is also reflected in their interactions around non-Muslims hoping to be exposed and educated about their culture.

“Being a good host – be that to a member of the family, a friend or even a total stranger – is held in high regard in our community,” Vahid said.

“The AAIS has always supported harmony and social cohesion among all members of the community. As a society, our doors are open to others from various backgrounds,” Vahid says.

The AAIS is open to school tours, public events and interfaith collaborations such as the Friendship Walk that aims to form cross-religious friendships.  

“I believe that many people in the Yarra have enjoyed their experience at our society and also had a pleasant time meeting community members and learning from one another,” Vahid says.

The AAIS is a cultural institution that has aided assimilation and celebrated the richness of the Albanian Muslim community.

Written by Devana Senanayake

The dog days are not over

In 2016 it was estimated that there were more than 24 million pets in Australia.

The shift towards higher-density housing in urban areas, particularly in the City of Yarra, is the biggest threat to pet ownership in Australia.

Unsuitable homes and strict body corporate rules that exclude pets in multi-dwelling developments are threatening the viability of pet ownership in Australia.

With almost two in five households owning a dog in Australia and with their population rising by 600,000 from 2013 to 2016, dogs are an important member of many Australian families.

One of Yarra’s neighbouring councils, Hume, conducted a feasibility study highlighting the health and wellbeing benefits associated with owning a dog.

These include:

  • Pets are shown to greatly increase the quality of life for the elderly;
  • dog walkers are more likely to experience social contact and conversation than those that walk alone, and
  • dogs motivate their owners to walk more often and meet recommended levels of physical activity.

Of the City of Yarra’s 89 parks, 30 are ‘dog-friendly’.

Dog-friendly parks are open spaces where people and their dogs can recreate together with other people and their dogs.

A visit to Rushall Reserve in North Fitzroy showcases the benefits of pet ownership and dog-walking in the City of Yarra.

Labradoodle, Benji (left) and German Shorthaired Pointer, Sheryl on leash on the way to Rushall Park. Dogs must be kept on-leash on shared pathways. Photo: Nicholas Nakos
Sheryl is permitted to be off-leash when at least 10 metres away from playgrounds or sporting fields. Photo: Nicholas Nakos
Parks offer owners the chance to teach dog obedience. The Northcote Obedience Dog Club, in Alphington Park, is an example of an organised, professional obedience club operating in the City of Yarra. Photo: Nicholas Nakos
A regular walk is vitally important to a dog’s health. Obesity in pets is associated with osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and insulin resistance. Photo: Nicholas Nakos
Recreation makes dogs happy. They enjoy checking out the sights and smells of outdoor spaces. A dog without sufficient exercise can become easily bored and destructive.

Urbanisation shouldn’t deter Yarra residents from owning a pet. With a multitude of open spaces within the community that are dog-friendly, the benefits for owners and dogs alike are truly worthwhile.

Written by Nicholas Nakos

The Future of Brunch

Brunch has shaped Melbourne’s cultural identity. The terms brunch and Melbourne have become synonymous, ringing bells that conjure picturesque platings that people salivate over on Instagram and Pinterest.

Due to its popularity, the concept is being rapidly reproduced in other parts of the world (check out St Kilda Cafe in Iowa, USA).

Interestingly enough, consumer demands have changed in tandem. People are on the hunt for clean, healthy food that is locally, seasonally and sustainably sourced. They are also on the lookout for a diversity of flavours.

“Breakfast or brunch out didn’t even rate a mention in the first edition of The Age Good Food Guide in 1980. But we’ve made up for lost time. Now, Melbourne-style brunch, with restaurant-level table service and plating, high-quality coffee and sleek architect-designed interior, has become an export commodity,” Roslyn Grundy, co-editor of The Age’s The Good Food Guide 2018, said.

Grundy said, that in late 2015, US Michelin-starred chef Grant Achatz was so impressed by the local brunch scene that he decided to add some elements to his restaurant in the Big Apple, the Aviary.

Moreover, blogger of Never Too Sweet For Me, Daisy Wong said her “family and friends who live overseas always tell me how much they want to come and brunch with me.”

“Melbourne style institutions are opening up in Hong Kong, London and New York,” Wong said.

Darian Szyszka, owner of Reunion and Co stated that his café has a strong commitment to ethical farming and transparency.

“We are proud to support local Victorian suppliers that help deliver their vision of food from farm to your plate,” Darian said.

At Reunion and Co. seasonality is incorporated into meals. On top of this, the Richmond cafe meets the demand for ethically sourced and raised proteins such as eggs and meat. Not surprisingly, its best sellers are the fresh green salads and seasonal vegetables.

Darian’s recipe for success is simple. Obtain fresh, transparent produce that is then properly cooked.

“We do what we do really well. People understand the difference in their palates. They are also political – they like to know where their food comes from,” Darian said.

“Food sourcing and farm to plate scenarios are bound to rise as people become more educated about ethical sourcing and locally produced food. It is really important to support local farmers and not import our supplies from overseas due to cheaper prices,” blogger Daisy Wong said.

Lisa too voices the rise of sustainability in brunch. She has noticed eaters to be “savvy” and applauds the ban of takeaway cups.

Similarly, self-professed food nerd and University of Melbourne PhD student, Sophie Lamond echoes the inclusion of sustainability as a core value. She also has a controversial prediction about the type of protein used.

“On our plates this might look like more protein from insects and more sea vegetables as sudden shocks could mean sharp price rises in grains, fruits, and nuts,” Lamond said.

Nola James, freelance writer and cafe reviewer for The Age’s Good Food charts the rise of other cultural influences.

“Our love affair with Asian-style breakfasts will continue to grow, too, expect more congee, more bonito and more kimchee across the board,” James said.

Similarly, Grundy echoes the popularity of a variety of cultural influences.

“Brunch might be congee, pho or kedgeree as much as hot cakes or french toast,” Grundy said.

Another area that has gained prevalence in the Melbourne brunch scene is the Middle Eastern cuisine. Richmond’s Feast of Merit provides sumac, Turkish delight, tahini, Persian feta and isot chermoula. Similarly, Carlton’s Babajan is influenced by Turkish cuisine. The menu provides a beautiful blend of rose, cardamom, dukkah, sucuk, smic and za’atar.

With a strong focus on sustainability and a mishmash of international flavours, Lisa, Melbourne based blogger of Lisa Eats Worldsums it up best: “brunch isn’t just smashed avocado and eggs on toast anymore”.

Written by Devana Senanayake

Darebin Council hoping to ban ‘No’ same-sex marriage campaigners

Darebin Council in Melbourne’s north is attempting to take heavy-handed action to silence ‘No’ proponents on the issue of marriage equality.

Independent councillor Susan Rennie and her colleagues are set to vote on an emergency motion next week to ban ‘No’ campaigners from using council facilities.

In an interview with Neil Mitchell on 3AW last Monday Cr Rennie said: “We won’t allow council spaces to be used by groups campaigning against marriage equality.”

“We will make those spaces available to local LGBTIQ organisations so that they can organise activities that support the community and marriage equality,” Cr Rennie said.

A recently married couple (Credit: Flickr)

Darebin Council is offering free venue hire for locations including  Northcote Town Hall and Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre for ‘Yes’ campaigners.

Venue hire rates in Darebin Council vary, but can be up to $2000 per day for some locations.

An online petition seeking to counter Darebin Council’s proposal has achieved more than  2,000 digital signatures so far. 

The Good Governance Charter of the Darebin Council is comprised of six principles, one of which is equity and inclusion.

In endeavouring to achieve equity and inclusion, the council’s charter proposes the council is “responsive to and inclusive of Darebin’s diverse community needs and aspirations.”

The council’s services and resources are also said to be “equitably distributed”.

Cr Rennie and her counterparts are choosing when and how to invoke their charter and this is to the detriment of the marriage equality debate.

The Darebin Council is attempting to censor the ‘No’ campaigners, but has little justification to do so.

Cr Rennie told Neil Mitchell that she wrote to local church groups to outline the “potentially harmful impacts of campaigning against marriage equality.”

She went on to make unsubstantiated claims that she has seen no evidence that ‘No’ supporters of the marriage equality campaign will do so with decency.

Neil Mitchell then asked, “have your local churches been indecent in their campaign?”

“No, not at all. They’ve actually been quite silent and we’re grateful for that,” Cr Rennie said.

Regardless of individual council views on marriage in Australia, in seeking to achieve equality, Darebin Council is acting in a divisive, unfair and ironically inequitable manner.

Robert Gibson, a member of the gay community who works in the City of Yarra has called the intentions of the Darebin Council as “a travesty of democracy”.

“They are showing a lack of tolerance. Tolerance is the key. That is what my community wants,” Mr Gibson said.

The Darebin Council’s stance aligns with recent hatred and vitriol received by prominent Australian people and corporations, who are ‘No’ campaigners.

Australian tennis champion Margaret Court has experienced the intolerance of the gay marriage movement.

Ms Court, a Grand Slam champion turned Christian pastor, famously voiced her opinions against gay marriage earlier this year when she said that gay people were “aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take”.

She openly criticised Qantas, saying that she will avoid flying with the Australian airline due to its public support for gay marriage.

The hysteria around Ms Court’s statements prompted outrage, with calls for Melbourne Park Precinct to change the name of Margaret Court Arena.

Similarly, there have been attempts to trash the reputation of the beer company Coopers Brewery, because its product appeared in a short Bible Society video debate about gay marriage between Liberal MPs Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie.

Social media went into a frenzy and accused Coopers of being a catalyst for homophobia by letting its product feature in a debate about gay marriage between two politicians.

In a knee-jerk reaction, instigated by the gay community, bars and restaurants began to throw out all of their Coopers stock, boycotting the South Australian brewer.

The high-profile examples of Ms Court and Coopers Brewery demonstrate the issue of intolerance against those who are opposed to same-sex marriage.

Similarly, Darebin Council has demonstrated its double-standard in its advocacy for a diversity of community views this week by ostracising a subsection of their community from engaging in democratic, fair and peaceful campaigning.

“Excluding an argument categorically is dangerous and completely nullifies the position of the council,” Mr Gibson said.

Darebin Council’s meeting to discuss their proposals will be held on Monday 21st of August at 6 pm. The meeting is being held at the Darebin Civic Centre 350 High Street, Preston, Victoria 3072.

Written by Nicholas Nakos and Deniz Karaman.

Yarra Council “stripped” of power following Australia Day controversy

Last Wednesday, the Yarra Council unanimously voted to no longer recognise Australia Day, receiving political backlash.

The council’s decision follows months of consultation with the local indigenous community.

In addition to its refusal to celebrate Australia Day, Yarra Council is lobbying the Federal Government to change the date of Australia Day and implement communication plans to help people understand the indigenous community and its experiences.

The council had previously been warned that any push to cancel citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day would be seen as “a significant breach of the citizenship protocol”, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Alex Hawke said.

Mr Hawke said, “the Federal Government wouldn’t tolerate councils using citizenship ceremonies to campaign against Australia Day being celebrated.”

“I am surprised and disappointed that the City of Yarra has chosen to pursue this divisive approach,” Mr Hawke said.

The council was not expecting the federal government to follow through with its threat to ban the council from holding ceremonies.

“It’s unnecessary and an overreaction. We asked for a discussion but he has chosen to act instead. It’s a shame,” City of  Yarra Mayor, Amanda Stone remarked in an interview with The Age.

Cr Stephen Jolly said, the council would not stop anyone from celebrating January 26 as Australia Day.

“It’s not North Korea here, you know. We are a small council. If the City of Yarra decides to call it January 26 … that does not stop the vast majority of people in the council area calling it Australia Day. No one is going to jail because they are having an Australia Day barbecue,” Mr Jolly told The Age.

Harsh consequence came from the federal government’s view that Yarra Council’s decision serves to divide the Australian people on a day intended to unite the population, with attacks coming from all angles.

The ABC has reported that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull remarked that “an attack on Australia Day is a repudiation of the values the day celebrates: freedom, a fair go, mateship and diversity”. He went on to further describe the change as “utterly out of step with Australian values”.

Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy also expressed his displeasure with council members, calling on the state government to “sack this rabble” if the council is unwilling to focus on its real job of addressing issues at a community level.

The Age quoted Victorian premier Daniel Andrews saying, “I think we get the balance right [on Australia Day]. We respect the traditional owners of our land, but we then get on in a really unified way.”

In the same story, former Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott is quoted as referring to Yarra Council as a “mad lefty council”.

Though the Australian Government considers The Yarra Council’s stance as active and reductive, others believe that the celebration of Australia Day ignores the persecution and discrimination suffered by our indigenous population in the years since.

Australia Day has been a recognised national holiday since 1994 and celebrates the arrival of British ships on our shores in 1788, prompting members of the indigenous population instead to refer to the date as “Invasion Day”.

For many indigenous Australians, Australia Day isn’t a day for celebrating. It signifies the beginning of exploitation, destruction of a culture, abuse and separation of families and extreme social control.

The celebration of Australia Day is considered to be divisive as it marginalises the indigenous community, who see the day as an event that instigated unfortunate events.

In a piece written for The Guardian, actor and writer Nakkiah Lui said: “I refuse to celebrate, and every Australia Day my heart is broken as I am reminded that in the eyes of many, I am not welcome on my own land.”

In the future new Australian citizens in the Yarra community will be required to attend ceremonies performed by neighbouring councils or the Department of Immigration.

Though responses at a state and federal level have been largely negative, other local councils around Melbourne have displayed similar positions on the significance of Australia Day.

The public has taken to twitter and social media to voice opinions on the matter.

The Yarra Council tweeted the news yesterday and received a range of reactions from the public.

Some members of the public believe the decision made was questionable. It has been reported in mainstream media that the City of Yarra commissioned a survey of nearly 300 non-indigenous people who were in the council.

According to the most recent populus survey conducted by the ABS in 2015, the Yarra municipality housed almost 90,000 residents and only 0.33% of residents have changed the rules of the entire municipality.

Delta Preston, Benefit Officer from Mercy Health in Richmond, said that the council’s decision to not celebrate Australia Day on January 26th is “ridiculous … it creates more division than inclusion,” she said.

Victoria, a local Salvos worker congratulated the Yarra Council for the move, saying that, “if it will keep the peace between non-indigenous and indigenous community members then it’s a good thing.”

James Moffat, who works in Abbotsford doesn’t support the change of date and said that the issue is tricky.

“No matter which way you go on this topic, you’re going to piss people off. I just think it’s crazy to change the date of a celebration that’s been happening forever,” he said.

Written by Zathia Bazeer, Alice Wilson, Caitlin Matticoli.

The children are watching us

Talented artist and father of four, Ralf Kempken, has used a grant awarded to him from the Yarra Council’s public art styles program to install historically inspired art work of children, with a major focus on their eyes, around the City of Yarra.

His latest concept “Past Futures” involves using stencils to create art installations depicting the idea of nature vs nurture in human development.

His four children aged 20, 21, 23 and 26 are the inspiration for this series of work.

“Having children makes you look at your own upbringing. I used to be a very strong believer that nurture played a bigger role than nature, but I noticed character traits in [my children] similar to mine and my wife’s that presented from day one.” 

Ralf prefers using children’s eyes in public spaces because they represent our future, and adult eyes appear “too threatening.”

Ralf’s street art uses eyes as a motif. Photo: Ralf Kempken.

Ralf believes that nature and nurture both play an important role in the development of a child, and has combined this idea with the use of stencils to represent the “psychological filter” that each of us possess, which, he says, is often inherited at birth. 

“Many people don’t realise that there is no actual image placed behind the cut out filter I create – they are just squiggly lines and paint. The human brain pieces together the entire image on its own, and this is the precise process that I wish to explore in my art work.”

This idea, combined with the inclusion of past images, work in unison to make a commentary on the connection between our past, present and future. A child’s curious and innocent state of mind is consistent throughout the ages, irrespective of the century.

Ralf Kempken’s ‘Past Futures’ exhibition is currently displayed at Carlton North Library until September. Photo: Ralf Kempken.

The historical photographs, donated by Yarra Libraries and a primary school in Fitzroy, depict early 20th century children and concentrate on eyes from varied backgrounds such as Asian, Indigenous Australian, and European.

Ralf says the choice to include different cultures in his local art work is: “a comment on suburbs [like Fitzroy, Richmond and Collingwood] that have changed through immigration and multiculturalism.”

Ralf, who was born in Germany himself is living proof of how lucky we are to live in such a culturally diverse country.

The premise of classic Italian film “The Children are Watching Us”, released in 1944, helped to inspire “Past Futures”. The film follows the story of a very young boy left with his heartbroken father after being abandoned by his unfaithful mother. It explores how well children can absorb their surroundings and make their own moral judgements despite what their parents or carers may think.

“Watching”, part of the “Past Futures” installations, is located at the entrance gates of the Abbotsford Convent where Ralf’s studio is located and contains an old photograph of a child taken in the early 1900’s.

“This piece is rather momento mori- esque, or in other words: a reminder that everyone must die. It’s a reminder that everything is transient,” says Ralf.

‘Watching’ stencil art by Ralf Kempken at the entrance of the Abbotsford Covent. Photo: Ralf Kempken.

You can find Ralf Kempken’s “Past Futures” installations in various parts of the Yarra.

Check out his stencil screen made of aluminium located in front of Dimmeys in Richmond. The piece contains an old photo of various children from Fitzroy during the migration period.

Kempken says that he has similar images displayed in his installations in West Footscray and Richmond.

Ralf uses images from the early 20th century to depict a connection between past, present and future generations. Photo: Ralf Kempken.

As a part of the Light Box Program, an art initiative from Yarra City Art, Kempken’s stencil art is being displayed at Carlton North Library until September this year. You can find more information at Yarra City Arts or check out Ralf’s art portfolio on his website to learn more.

Written by Caitlin Matticoli

Marketing modernising today’s music industry.

July saw music industry students flocking to the CollArts building on Brunswick St for an event organised by The Push and CollArts for its FReeZA Summit 2017.

An estimated 150 students from all over Victoria attended the summit, which facilitated workshops and talks by music industry professionals like Paige Cho – Head of marketing for the Melbourne born company ‘Bolster’. Based in Collingwood, with an additional office in Brooklyn, New York City, Bolster has worked with big music acts like Flume, Queens of the Stone Age and Angus and Julia Stone.

The Push, a not for profit youth music organisation based in Victoria and established in 1986, mentor youth interested in breaking into the music industry. The Push hosts a number of educational events and programs to inspire young people to get involved in music.

Jeanine Orr, head of finance and administration of The Push said it acts as an “advisory centre for CollArts and Youth Central (a state government support website for youth aged 12-25)”. The FReeZA committee and events are funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Cho, 30, puts her success within the notoriously difficult music industry down to having raw passion and a mind for good business.

Her talk at the summit on Friday July 14th, to a room of young CollArts students, encompassed the importance of advertising on Facebook in the music scene. She boasts an 11-year successful career within the music industry.

“I started out completing a psychology degree after high school but, at 19 I decided I wanted to get into the music industry,” She told The Yarra Reporter.

Cho started out as a music journalist and her passion and hard work ethic quickly got her gigs writing for Beat Magazine and MTV.

Paige Cho, head of marketing at Bolster. Photo: Caitlin Matticoli

She sympathises with the next generation of young people trying to get into the marketing and event planning industry and thinks it’s definitely not as easy as it used to be.

“I was lucky to land a position in marketing; after freelancing for various music publications I kind of just fell into it.”

“My psych degree has been useful [and] my advice to those who want to get into the industry is [to] keep learning and finding ways you can up-skill because that’s what’s going to give you the advantage over someone who hasn’t.”

Cho told students at the talk to get acquainted with photography, photoshop, finance and the legalities of the industry because while marketing for the music business is fun and exciting, you still have your work cut out for you if you want to make it big.

“Based on how much Facebook’s campaigning nuances have changed over the years, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to start in the marketing industry from scratch at the stage it is now,” Cho said.

The push pop up shop flyer. Photo: Caitlin Matticoli

Cho gave students important tips on boosting posts and streamlining demographics and also shared the importance of making sure accompanying images are as bright and clear as possible.

Written by Caitlin Matticoli

A Celebration of Diversity at the Cocoa Butter Club

The Cocoa Butter Club’s second event celebrated, entertained and educated the audience about the talent of Queer, Transgender and Intersex People of Colour (QTIPOC) with a night of music, dance, acrobatics and performance art.

Held at the Melba Spiegeltent on the 26th of July, the themes of Aboriginal sovereignty, structural discrimination and racial dynamics were seamlessly stitched into the night.

Originally from London, the Cocoa Butter Club’s website describes it as a “roster of queer performers of colour” with a mission to “moisturise a thirsty club scene [through] representations of the other in everything from neo-burlesque to poetry, live music and voguing”.

Organiser Dani Weber praised the diverse talent presented during the night.

“The strength of the Cocoa Butter Club lies in diversity – the diversity of genres and the multiplicity of talents that people of colour have. Our existence is real. We are loud and talented,” she said.

“Attendees don’t have to be people of colour, but they need to be willing to enter a space where they will be supportive to the mission of the night, to centre Indigenous [people] and people of colour,” Dani said.

Roseanne Chalker performed a series of stunning acrobatics, using only a cloth hung from a hook and her body. Her gravity defying display of strength, artistry and ingenuity transgressed physical boundaries. Photo: Alexis D. Lea

The Melba Spiegeltent had undergone an interesting transformation for the event. Rather than rows of seats, circular tables decorated the space.

The night’s main singers Mama Alto and Kandere were a standout.

Mama Alto circled around like a shimmering diva, stepping onto the stage as if making a mistaken stop from the 1940s.

Mama Alto soared, particularly as she hit the piercing high notes of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston.

Moreover, she educated the audience about the achievements of people of colour in theatre. She applauded last year’s Tony Awards, which had awarded all four major acting awards to people of colour for the first time in its history.

Kandere was composed of two pacific islanders: Lakyn Tarai and Wahe Kavara. Their set included a mishmash of breathtaking beats, distorted vocals and some heated dance moves.

Caption: Drag king, Justin Teliqure, stole the hearts of the audience. His suave dance moves projected his irresistible charm. Photo: Alexis D. Lea

Next, a performer embodying  Mother Nature made an appearance. Surrounded by a cacophony of nature, she flipped the coin on conceptions of normalcy and encouraged the audience to unpack their thoughts about gender and sexuality.

Her performance reinforced that members who identified as non-binary, transgender or gender diverse had every right to belong.

Throughout the night MC’s, Nayuka Gorrie and Davey Thompson, educated the audience about the controversies and racial discrimination faced by Aboriginals.

The MCs also reminded the audience about the recent deaths of Elijah, Dr Yunipingu and Lynette Daily. A sense of loss resonated through the night.

The Cocoa Butter Club gave a voice to the QTIPOC community on their terms. With the voices of this community often hidden or ignored, the event portrayed their beauty, agency and authority.

The next Cocoa Butter Club event is to be held at a yet to be announced date in October. Stay tuned to get the exact dates.

Written by Devana Senanayake

Residents seek justice following ‘Pattern of Negligence’

It’s been four months since 200 residents of Fitzroy’s Atherton Gardens, a housing estate located at 125 Napier Street, were forced to flee their beds in the early hours of March 29 when the sixth floor of the high-rise housing estate was set ablaze.

Now residents are seeking justice for a catastrophe that they say could have been avoided and are seeking legal advice in an attempt to resolve issues with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Following the fire, the Melbourne Fire Brigade (MFB) released a report damning the Fitzroy Housing Office, citing a lack of duty of care and mentioning several faults. These included a lack of smoke alarms and sprinklers and the build-up of combustible items – like a mattress that started the blaze, that had lain for weeks on the building’s sixth floor, despite residents’ complaints.

The Fitzroy Housing Office has announced they will be accepting all of the MFB’s recommendations, and Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing Martin Foley has announced the changes will be applied to all 44 public estates across Melbourne.

But according to one resident, the fire is just one in a series of incidents that Minister Foley and the Department of Health and Human Services, of which Fitzroy Housing Office are a branch of, have to answer for.

Ranko Cosic has been a resident of Atherton Gardens since 2001, and is fed up with what he describes as a “pattern of negligence” on the part of the DHHS and the Fitzroy Office of Housing.

He says that in the 16 years he has lived in the building, there have been no fire drills or inspections to ensure all smoke alarms were in working order, but he says this is just the tip of the iceberg.

A terrorist threat, rampant drug use in common areas and instances where the DHHS had taken nine months to address complaints regarding unstable or unsafe tenants are just some of the issues Mr Cosic has brought to the attention of the DHHS and Fitzroy Housing Office. His appeals went as far as the Premier himself, but he says his complaints fell upon deaf ears, and that the neglect goes further than just the Fitzroy Housing Office landing at the doorstep of Minister Foley himself.

“Since his election, the Minister did not come to our estate until the day of the fire,” Mr Cosic says of Minister Foley, who he believes to be uninterested in his position as housing Minister and unwilling to police the performance of his subordinates.

“Everything rots from the top; it starts at the head and transfers through the whole body. I have reported very serious matters to Minister Foley and it all gets ignored,” Mr Cosic says.


Ranko Cosic says the first time Minister Foley visited Atherton’s residents was when they took refuge in the Town Hall following the March 29 fire. Photo: Ranko Cosic

He also recalls personal experiences of harassment and attempted character assassination at the hands of the department, which he feels came about in an attempt to silence his efforts to improve living conditions for himself and fellow residents.

Mr Cosic remains defiant however, declaring he’s “not going to lay down”.

Fed up, Mr Cosic reached out to Yarra City Councillor Stephen Jolly, whom he describes as an ‘integral part’ of the legal battle: “I’m fortunate Steve is there, because who else would fight? I haven’t seen anyone else.”

Like Mr Cosic, Cr Jolly is tired of the pattern of neglect shown by the DHHS and Fitzroy Housing Office, who he says have ignored their residents for years, “and it’s taken a fire and media publicity [and the] threat of legal action for them to do anything”.

While Mr Cosic rallied 30 fellow Atherton residents, Cr Jolly recruited key stakeholders and legal counsel.

He hopes the class action will lead to changes within the department, whose behaviour he labels “dangerously incompetent.”

“It’s outrageous the way the residents are treated … the only time the Department is efficient is when you fail to meet your rent,” he says.

Residents of 125 Napier St are seeking a formal inquest of the fire, along with achieving a successful means of communicating their issues with the Department and working towards having these issues addressed.

Mr Cosic admits his hopes for the outcome of the legal proceedings are “lofty” and go beyond monetary compensation. He says he would like to see the Fitzroy Housing Office “purged”, and Minister Foley, whom he describes as “inept” removed from his position and replaced with “a minister who does care about private housing, who will go to the estate”.

Cr Jolly agrees with Mr Cosic, saying of Minister Foley, “I think he needs to go”.

Mr Cosic says for him, it’s not about the money, but social justice, and with the aid of Cr  Jolly, he will continue to fight his cause until he sees justice done.

Written by Alice Wilson