A last minute guide to the big issues this election

You may have forgotten but this Saturday the Yarra City Council is due for a reshuffle.

It may not seem like a very interesting topic, but your local council election is important if you care about local issues – or just want to avoid a fine.

Here is all the information you need to make an informed decision on all the big issues affecting the Yarra community this election.

The inner-city community is on the rise, the population has jumped from 75,000 to approximately 90,000 in the last three years according to the City of Yarra.

Development pressure across the community is linked to the increasing population. The Yarra planning scheme review is “the most critical issue” for this election according to independent candidate for Nicholls ward and former Yarra City Mayor Jackie Fristacky.

“The scheme needs to deal with the voraciousness of developers seeking property in Yarra, offering excessive prices for properties… then seeking excessive height to cover the high price,” Fristacky said.

Following the recent demolition of  The Corkman Irish Pub in Carlton, the issue of development and heritage sites is on the minds of Yarra local’s.

Victorian Labor backed candidate for Nicholls, Luke Creasey, said the demolition was “outrageous and unlawful.”

“It feels like a bit of a tipping point for us. The City of Yarra has many historic sites, structures and landscapes, and once they’ve been lost they’re gone forever,” Creasey said.

A Supervised Injecting Facility (SIF) has been on the cards for a long-time and this election is the time for councillors to make their stance clear on the controversial topic.

Fristacky views a SIF as the “least-worst alternative” to harmful drug use.

“I have moved and supported several motions on this issue, raised the matter of a SIF in Yarra and at least a trial SIF with responsible Ministers over several years, [I have also] written letters to the Premier and Ministers urging a trial of SIF in the City of Yarra,” Fristacky said.

An example of a SIF in Frankfurt, Germany. Credit: SMH
An example of a SIF in Frankfurt, Germany. Image Source

Creasey agrees with the facility as a rehabilitation approach built on “evidence-based decision making.”

“I support a supervised injecting facility and believe that rehabilitation must be central to a compassionate approach to addressing drug use in our community,” Creasey said.

First-time independent nominee for the Langridge ward Judy Ryan is campaigning strongly for a SIF as her only platform.

“I’m no professional politician, this is the first time I’ve done this because it’s got so bad that as a human being I need to do something about this and I need to make a statement, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Council backing and influence is crucial for the project to obtain the state support and funding needed to get it off the ground.

“There is a huge degree of capacity that the city council have in working with the state governments to achieve quite exciting things,” Greens candidate for Nicholls Misha Coleman said.

As one of three Greens councillors in the previous council, Coleman is “hoping to get enough Greens re-elected this time” to push forward the party’s plan.

Their focus this election is on trialling electric buses across the Nicholls ward.

“We have bus routes that are going through very densely populated residential areas, a lot of those routes have speed bumps on them.”

Coleman says while speed bumps slow down traffic, the added acceleration and deceleration increases carbon dioxide production and air pollution.

Public transport is not a local government responsibility although Coleman wants to show how councils can work with state governments.

There are six Greens candidates running across the three wards this election.

To see a complete list of nominated candidates, check out the Victorian Electoral Commission website.

Voting will take place Saturday 22nd October at local polling places across the city.

By Kathryn Lewis

Coffee date with: Olmer Bollinger

Olmer Bollinger
Olmer Bollinger, Head Barista at Industry Beans.

Tucked behind Fitzroy’s trendy Brunswick Street, among some of the best street art in Melbourne, is Industry Beans – a roastery and award-winning cafe in one. Within the old warehouse that Industry Beans calls home, the kitchen serves up seasonal food that is described as refined and progressive, and coffee travels mere meters from the in-house roaster to cup. Behind the counter, serving up some of Melbourne’s best coffee is 29-year-old Olmer Bollinger: Barista and Roaster. We were lucky enough to score five minutes with him to chat about Melbourne coffee and his love of the job.

Yarra Reporter: How did you get into coffee?

Olmer Bollinger: I’m from Wellington in New Zealand, I started making coffee there at our family-owned cafe, Ministry of Food, using Allpress coffee. I’ve been making coffee on and off since then. I’ve done a bit of bar work, but I always come back to coffee. When I started out I didn’t really expect to still be doing it now.

When I started at Industry Beans I got more into the technical side of coffee and just got really into it from there. I liked that it was treated the same way that I’d seen cocktails and wine treated at bars that I’ve worked at, and once I was working with people who knew enough about it to teach me about it, it just took off.

YR: How long have you worked at Industry Beans?

OB: Over two years

YR: What is the best part of your day?

OB: Well lunch here is always awesome. They look after us real good. I smash the burgers here, they are both really good; the chicken and the wagyu beef. Most of us here have to put restrictions on ourselves to how many we’re allowed to eat a week. I allow myself one of each a week. That’s it. If you see the burgers you’ll see what I mean. They’re massive.

YR: What about the best part of the job?

OB: I always enjoy learning and I enjoy the challenges. At the moment I have a dual role: learning how to roast, as the most junior in the roastery, and then out the front I’m the head barista. So in one element I’m learning and the other one I’m teaching. I guess it’s just that transferral of knowledge that I find really awesome. And I get to drink delicious coffee all day.


YR: And on the flip side, the worst?

OB: Hmm … (there is a long pause and I’m about to scrap the question and let him off the hook when he says,) Large milk spills are really annoying. We have a machine called the juggler, it basically has a bunch of trays holding about 10 litres of milk each. If one of those bursts, it’s not pretty. And cleaning out the flues sucks, (he points behind me to large silver chimney-like pipes climbing up the wall above the roaster.) It’s basically exhaust from the roaster that builds up with oils and we have to get up on the giant ladder and clean it with a chimney sweep.

YR: If you could work anywhere in the world as a barista where would it be?

OB: Melbourne definitely. I’ve worked as a barista in New York and New Zealand and now here in Melbourne and my experience here has just been awesome. In New York I worked at a couple of places: a little cafe called Oatmeal in Greenwich Village, Public bar and Public restaurant.

YR: Where is your favourite place in the City of Yarra to grab a coffee?

OB: I really like Assembly, I haven’t been to their new place, but whenever I manage to get over to the old one in Carlton it’s always great.

YR: What about it do you like?

OB: It’s got a really nice vibe. They treat coffee with respect. I like that they showcase coffee from outside of Melbourne that I don’t get to try very often too.

YR: And what would you be drinking at said place?

OB: I mix it up, I can’t really go past either a short black or a pour over.

YR: If you weren’t making coffee what would you be doing?

OB: Well, I used to work in interior design, but I don’t think I’d be doing that. If I wasn’t doing this I’d probably be playing music or teaching.

YR: You play music? What do you play?

OB: I play lots of things, but guitar has always been my main instrument.

YR: What do you think makes a good Barista?

OB: Caring about it. Caring about the quality of coffee. Attention to detail. You get people who let a lot of shit slide and that can be a problem with quality control. I guess as well, the ability to keep calm under pressure is key. It sort of depends on where you work. There are lots of different environments and different baristas are better suited to certain roles. Here, for example, we’re quite a high-volume place but at the same time we have a very strict level of quality control. We don’t let sub-standard coffees go out. A lot of high-volume places don’t go to the same effort. It is pretty difficult but we’re also blessed with really great staff.

YR: Most ridiculous coffee order you have ever received?

OB: We get a lot of ridiculous orders. I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but we have tasting notes on our menu, right, (we open up the elaborate coffee menu, to take a look, showcasing coffee from around the world) and people misinterpret the menu sometimes and think the tasting notes are actually things that we’re adding to the coffee. They’ll ask for the “Fitzroy Street” without the plum. I mean it’s not that ridiculous, the coffee menu is pretty full on.

Coffee Menu

YR: Who are you listening to right now?

OB: I listen to a lot of old ’70s disco stuff, like a few of my friends DJ that music and I’ve just gotten really into it. My friend’s band from LA, Roses, are really good, and Frank Ocean’s new album is pretty cool too.

YR: What’s next for Olmer Bollinger?

OB: I’ve always wanted to go to outer space. Maybe I’ll get to that one day. Other than that I just take it day by day. Eventually, like everyone else who’s been working in hospitality as long as I have envisions opening up their own place … I haven’t conceived the idea yet. I’m still at that point of accumulating knowledge to the point where I feel comfortable and really ready to do it. Up until then I’m really just content working somewhere I enjoy myself and I feel like I’m still learning and I’m surrounded by people who know more than me. In that situation, I feel happy and I feel like I can progress.

The Baulkam Hills African Ladies Troupe documentary ready to take on violence against women

The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe documentary previewed at the Nova Cinema in Carlton on 27 September.  We caught up with the producer of the film, Ros Horin, at the screening to find out how the film is challenging social attitudes on violence against women.

Yarrie, Aminata, Yordanos and Rosemary are four female refugees who escaped sexual abuse, violence and war in Africa, and made their home in Australia. The documentary records the journey that the women took with Ros Horin – a community leader and acclaimed theatre director – to transform their trauma into a poignant theatre production.

Produced and directed by Ros Horin, the film was screened at the Sydney Film Festival and MIFF 2016, where it was voted in the top 5 audience favourites for Australian documentaries at both festivals.

“A play has a finite life,” said Ros Horin, when asked how the film came to life.

“We decided we couldn’t keep doing this play, despite a lot of offers, because it was too emotionally taxing for everybody.”

“[We wanted] a film that could go everywhere, to all sorts of communities within Australia and outside of Australia. We really have a purpose of social change and we want to be able to change attitudes towards women who have been abused.”

Ros hopes that the film will also be used as a teaching tool for schools, the military, and people who work with abused women to aid in breaking the cycle of violence against women.

‘What we’re working on here is how to stop blaming women for what has happened to them, and how to stop women from thinking they have to hide in shame,” Horin said.

“How do we change the attitudes within communities to say ‘Yes, I’m going to support this woman!’,” Ros Horin asked audience members at the pre-screening.

The film was released Australia-wide on the 6th of October and will be available for screenings on demand from early 2017.

Despite little knowledge of the Troupe before attending the screening, we left feeling uplifted by the women who experienced so much emotional turmoil to reach audiences with their life stories.

Check cinema listings for screening locations and times.

Little green lady – historic figure honoured in pedestrian cross-walk signal

This year, the Yarra City Council paid homage to Victoria’s first female politician by introducing a new pedestrian light silhouette in the shape of a woman.

The figure – although often mistaken for Mary Poppins – is of Mary Rogers, dressed in the classic 1920s fashion and is the first of its kind in Australia.

The Yarra City Council and VicRoads teamed up to introduce the new set of pedestrian lights on the corner of Bosisto Street and Bridge Road in Richmond.


The planning was in the pipeline for several years and was thought up as a way to not only celebrate an iconic figure but as a way to promote gender equality.

Mayor of the Yarra City Council, Roberto Colanzi, says Mary Rogers is the perfect role model for gender equality.

“She was elected in 1920 as a Labor councillor when politics, particularly in Richmond, was hard and tough and pretty unforgiving,” he says.

The light will remain for a 12-month commemorative period, with no plans for any duplicates in the area just yet.

“There are issues that VicRoads need to assess because essentially it’s a new piece of equipment,” Colanzi says.

“But throughout the trial we’ll find how people connect with it and how they relate to it and function to it, and so there may well be other opportunities that arise.”

A poll conducted on the Herald Sun website had negative views on the issue with 96% of voters claiming it was ‘political correctness gone mad’.


Online, some residents are calling it a “waste of taxpayer’s money” and the whole issue as “sexist, simply because the original figure isn’t wearing a dress, the assumption is made that it is a man”.

But Colanzi says the poll is “ridiculous” and was hijacked by particular views and opinions.

“I’ve genuinely had people, both men and woman, email, phone call, people walking down the street saying it’s just either long overdue or it’s just a simple lovely idea,” he says.

In addressing the financial complaints from critics, he explains “It’s not a piece of necessarily expensive kit or equipment.”

“It fits over the top of the existing or new standard lighting system so it’s just the screen that we’re dealing with,” Colanzi says.

The idea came from New Zealand where councillors were acknowledging and celebrating their first woman to parliament, Mary Shephard, and parliamentarians here wanted to do something similar.


Mary Rogers was most famous for her work with people living in poverty in Richmond, improving their sanitary and living conditions.

The widowed mother of four also initiated the first community maternal and child health services in The City of Yarra and lead progress in the areas of education and welfare. She was appointed to the board of enquiry into neglected children and worked heavily with family issues.

The pedestrian light is not the first initiative to commemorate Rogers. In 2008, an upgraded square on the corner of Bridge Road and Church Street was renamed Mary Rogers Square.

So while there is ambivalence about the light in its contribution to gender equality, the main focus for the Yarra City Council was to honour a person that did so much for her local community.

Even if her identity is occasionally mistaken for the lady who sings about sugar helping the medicine go down.



Colanzi runs for re-election as Yarra City Mayor

Mayor Cr Roberto Colanzi’s term is up next month after stepping  into the role in November last year.

Cr-Roberto-Colanzi2012_7Colanzi’s achievements in the last 12 months speaking volumes, with the council named Sustainable city of the year for 2016 at the Keep Victoria Beautiful Awards, as well as progressing on planning matters across the city.

As Director of the Yarra Energy Foundation since 2012, Colanzi noted one of his priorities at the beginning of his term to be promoting environmentally sustainable architecture.

“Council has invested significant resources into taking action in the areas of climate action, including but not limited to, the built environment and sustainable transport, water sensitive urban design, and other measures.” says Colanzi in a Yarra city media release.

Yet his efforts were not just focused on the council’s environmental footprint. Over the past year Colanzi has worked with the council and other organizations to tackle the big issues affecting the Yarra community.

“The most immediate stuff was a whole range of planning matters.” He tells Yarra Reporter in an interview.

“We have a population of around 90,000 residents, but we have something like 14,000 small businesses. They employ 60,000 people, so our population virtually doubles day in, day out.” Colanzi said.

Before the end of his term, the council will begin rolling out parking sensors, starting with the Richmond precinct bordered by Bridge Rd, Punt Rd, Swan St and Church St.

“It’ll be in the residential areas where we’ve identified there is competition between residents and people who are visiting.” He says.

Colanzi has been a long-time member of the community living in Fitzroy for the last 13 years.

The Yarra community is known for its open and inclusive sense of community, Colanzi is no different, recognising the many varied and unique people within the community facing diverse problems.

“The passion and diversity of the Yarra community has continued to both inspire and humble me.” He said in his last address in the Yarra News.

 Colanzi says the Yarra artist community are facing ‘gentrification’ of the area, being priced out by developers buying up spaces suitable for arts practice.

“There is still a place for them but it’s a function of economics and supply and demand, we’ve seen increased development and we’ve seen property prices increase,” he said.

He is committed to working with the arts community to ensure they maintain a strong presence in the Yarra; initiatives such as the Collingwood Arts Precinct are designed to ensure artists have a place in the short and long-term.

 “I know one [art gallery] that is also providing artists space now when once upon a time it was just a gallery. They still have the gallery function but they’ve reconfigured it slightly so they can provide studio spaces.” He said.

Colanzi is running for re-election in the upcoming council election on October 22.

By Kathryn Lewis

Saving Merri Creek’s Head-banging bees

A recent crowd-funding campaign to raise much-needed funds to help the Blue-banded bee protect the Merri Creek grasslands raised more than $25,000, far surpassing the original target of $15,000.

The Friends of Merri Creek community group created the Pozible campaign in August to support theirs efforts to protect the grasslands, which are under threat from increasing development.

The Blue-banded bee is crucial to the habitat, pollinating the wildflowers and endangered lilies that are essential to the diversity and long-term survival of the Yarra grasslands.

The bees’ pollination technique is called buzz pollination, which involves banging their head in a flower an exhausting 350 times per second.

But the bees can only travel short distances, and the diminishing number of native flowers in the ecosystem is making their job more challenging. With the funds raised through the campaign, Friends of Merri Creek will plant wildflower seedlings to replenish the numbers of native flowers, and help the bees to regenerate the grasslands.

The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is matching the first $15,000 raised, bringing the current total to more than $40,000.

The administrative arm of the volunteer community group is the Merri Creek Management Committee (MCMC), which was formed in 1989 and coordinates works and planning along the creek.

Katrina Roberg, Conservation Program Manager for the MCMC says they were incredibly excited about the success of the campaign, which hit its target just four days into the four-week long campaign. “We had a strong Facebook and social media plan to get the message out,” she told the Yarra Reporter.

“The community response was very supportive. It was very exciting because of the work from Jen Cloher, a well-known musician,” Says Roberg. “Because of Jen’s work and also other skilled volunteers we managed to reach a new market, a new area of people that we knew would be interested but that we had never really reached before.”

Jen Cloher as well as other musicians such as Courtney Barnett and Steph Hughes helped promote the cause to the community and supporters of local independent music.

As part of the campaign, the musicians behind the cause came together to form the ‘Blue Banded Bee Band’, which is slated for a gig at the Northcote Social Club on Saturday, 3rd December.

Photo courtesy of Friends of Merri Creek
Photo courtesy of Friends of Merri Creek


“It’s a great initiative, an invitation for people to connect with their local environment and support it,” Roberg says. “There’s a beautiful local natural environment right here along the Merri Creek and you can enjoy it by walking the trail but you can also get involved and learn more about it and be involved in caring for it.”

The Blue Banded Bees are important for the ecosystem of the area, in particular for the pollination of the Dianella Amoena Matted Flax Lilly, found at Merri Creek.

“Because we’ve built a city on a natural landscape some of these patches are too far apart for the bees to be able to get from one patch to another, so this project will plant stepping stones or pollination pathways so the bee can transfer pollen between the patches,” Roberg explains.

The money raised will go towards planting new lily patches and the maintenance of those in their first stages. A group of citizen scientists will monitor and report on productivity of the pollinating and the vitality of the new flowers.

By Caitlyn Leggett


Photo courtesy of the campaign
Photo courtesy of the campaign

CUB beers no longer for the hardworking tradesperson

Protests by sacked workers outside Carlton and United Breweries’ Abbotsford plant have entered their twelfth week with no end in sight.

The workers, comprising electricians, fitters, and various maintenance workers, have proven to be integral to the production and supply of CUB’s various brands of beer.

CUB has been bussing in non-­union workers to replace the sacked workers but it seems they lack the experience and skill of their predecessors, with production levels suffering as a result.

The Australian Manufacturers Workers Union allege that beer production has slowed down considerably, putting production output at only a third of normal levels.

“It’s a state­-of-­the-­art brewery and for that you need state-­of-­the-­art trades people,” said AMWU’s Craig Kelly to 3CR Community Radio.

In a press release CUB have claimed that union action has caused “no impact in beer supply” but added that it has caused “noise and disruption (that) has impacted local residents and businesses”.

“They are attacking Australian workers while not contributing to society in any meaningful way.”

The current impasse between CUB and its sacked workforce has turned out to be a public relations nightmare, with users taking to social media to express anger at CUB’s actions.


Facebook pages for Victoria Bitter (CUB’s best selling beer) and Pure Blonde, have been repositories of angry posts from users denouncing CUB’s actions and calling for the sacked workers to be rehired at their old pay rates, or at the very least, be given some fair and sympathetic treatment.

When considering VB’s target demographic, the hard-working tradesperson, it’s small wonder there has been public backlash following the mass terminations and subsequent treatment of its trade-workers.

Unfortunately for CUB the publics indignation has not been confined to social media. Prominent Melbourne pubs such as Kent St and The Lincoln Hotel have both turned off their taps for CUB products, in solidarity with the sacked workers. With the Grand Hotel Yamanto in Queensland also following suit, the action is spreading nationally.

CUB owns half of the most popular beer brands in Australia. Its parent company, SABMiller earns US$22bn in yearly revenue.

It produced zero taxable income in Australia during the 2015, in spite of generating A$2bn in earnings.

As Electrical Trades Union organiser Steve Diston points out, “They’ve (CUB) managed to find a way to pay no tax, while their CEO is in for a $64 million bonus. To top it off, they are attacking Australian workers while not contributing to society in any meaningful way.”


Perhaps this gross inequality lies at the heart of the anger surrounding this issue. To many unionists, this seems like little more than union­-busting and cost­-cutting, but the real cost is to the lives of those affected.

In an ABC AM radio programme interview, labour economist John Spoehr, pointed out that based on previous incidents “around about one third of manufacturing workers that lose their jobs during downturns go on to be long term unemployed.”

Unless some sort of fair agreement is reach between CUB and their workers soon, the costs of these workers losing their jobs is going to be more than just dollars and cents.


By Garry Johal