Gardens of Edinburgh representing Yarra at Melbourne Webfest

The Fitzroy hipster is a fascinating character, a baneful creature or a delight, depending on who you’re talking to.

Although the hipster is not a new phenomenon, the inner north is arguably the birth-place of the modern Melbourne kind. This particular hipster can often be found frolicking in Edinborough Gardens on sunny afternoons.

Enter actor and writer Rhett Hughes, who has captured the Gardens and her subjects in his latest web series, “Gardens of Edinburgh.

Featured in this year’s Melbourne WebFest ‘Spotlight on Melbourne‘, Gardens of Edinburgh, is a comedic portrayal of the goings on in the iconic North Fitzroy park.

Gardens of Edinburgh

Having moved to Melbourne after a stint as a manny (male nanny) for Sting, Rhett tells YR about his first experience at the Gardens.

“My friend invited me to Edinburgh Gardens, I’d never been there before. We had some very funny conversations… it had quite an eclectic crowd… and I immediately thought this would be a great location to set a web series.”

To Rhett, the Garden itself was to be a central character in the series; not only a place, but a catalyst in defining the events taking place on screen.

The conversation unfolding in the episode ‘Southsider’ is difficult to stomach. Striking a chord with any Northerner, the reaction of the recurring character, Brett, seems perfectly acceptable. Owing to my journalistic integrity and responsibility to the audience, it’s with a heavy heart that I must reveal this episode is based on true events.

“Yes, I have [gone Southside]. I ate my own words and I’ve gone to Brighton.” Says Rhett.

What was said after that is a bit of a blur. However, if it’s any consolation, I do recall him offering only kind words for his former home in the North.

Rhett Hughes, Photo: Facebook.

For both past and present Northsiders, creating can be challenging at the best of times. Most budget web series rely on the help of friends in return for the promise of a lifetime of favours.

“We shot Gardens of Edinburgh, all five episodes, for under $500. The quality definitely looks more expensive than what it was, but that is because I had really fantastic people helping me with it [and] because people worked for free.” Says Rhett.

The evolving nature of the way we consume content continues to shape our on-screen experience. The growing popularity of Melbourne WebFest, which this year saw its highest number of web series submissions, highlights the expanding landscape for creators globally.

“The whole world is your audience. There is a demographic out there that want to watch whatever weird idea you have. Just keep producing content [and] keep chipping away at it… A lot of people talk about producing work, but getting the wheels in motion is a different ball game… Actually shooting something is a feat in itself.”

As Rhett wisely says, “if you produce work, someone will watch it.” Here’s hoping we’ll see some more of the Yarra’s iconic features on-screen soon.

By Tiyana Matliovski

Youthful perspectives: Capture Yarra Photography Competition

It’s remarkable just how much our perspective changes each year. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not, but it is forever changing, moving and growing.

The Yarra community we know and love is full of diversity; in race & religion, education, and age. How we see Yarra is unique to each and every one of us.

In conjunction with Yarra Youth Services, the Yarra Libraries held a ‘Capture Yarra Photo Competition’ for youth residing in the Yarra and library members.

Participants aged between 12 and 18 were encouraged to capture Yarra as they saw it.

Emma White, the youth services librarian at Yarra Libraries, told YR that the aim was to ‘provide an insight into the world of our young Yarra residents. Participants were given the brief to capture what they thought was the true essence of Yarra. This collection of images is a poignant and honest exploration of their experiences.’

The winners, chosen by a panel of judges, were Ella Cox, age 13, with her photograph titled ‘The Bus Stop Lounge Room’, Lillian Gutteridge, age 15, with her photograph ‘Evening Light’, and Poppy Ward, age 12, with her photograph ‘Tram Gateway’.

Ella Cox The Bus Stop Lounge Room
Photographer Ella Cox, The Bus Stop Lounge Room


Lillian Gutteridge Evening Light
Photographer Lillian Gutteridge ‘Evening Light’
Photographer Poppy Ward, ‘Tram Gateway’

‘I feel very excited [to be nominated]!’ Poppy ward told YR via email.

Twelve-year-old Poppy’s interest in the photography competition sparked after she participated in a photography workshop held in the Carlton Library, but she has always had a keen interest in the craft.

Understanding the perspective of youth while facilitating avenues of creative expression is just one aspect of community engagement we see here in the Yarra.

Most importantly it gives youth a chance to tell their stories, their way, and promote the confidence, independence and creativity of the future of Australia.

Pub footy’s captain, Alice ‘Ox’, is searching for new female recruits!

Alice ‘Ox’ Minns is a self-confessed Alpha, proud to ‘flex her feminist muscles’ as she captains the Renegade Pub Football League team, The Tote, in her second season in the role. Ox has ensured that the team achieves a 50/50 gender split and has been a stellar leader for the ‘Toter family’ by ‘being very committed to each person there’.

Ox first came to a Tote training session three years ago and says ‘it just felt like home’. Having ‘felt a sense of belonging’ in her time with the team, when she was given the honour of captaining the side, she knew she had a great responsibility to the Toters. This also meant that she had to learn to face her ‘crippling sports nerves’. With the support of the team she gathered her courage and swore to herself that ‘I’ve got this voice, and I’m going to keep using it’.

As an empowered female in a traditionally male sport, Ox believes maintaining good sportsmanship is key. She’ll ‘pull up’ anyone using derogatory language, on and off the field, and her teammates follow suit.

This pub footy captain sees more than just sport in The Tote Football Club. There is a sense of community’ that each member of The Tote has contributed making it such a successful club.

Ox wants to put a call out to all women who are interested in being involved in the league to come down to a training session. She recognises that ‘as adults sometimes it’s hard to make new friends’, but she describes the league’s environment to be a ‘utopia’ for new friendships.

So if you want to join up, come along to a game day or even try out training. You can find more information on the Renegade Pub Football League Facebook page. In no time you’ll be fitting in kick-to-kick sessions with your new pub footy mates. Fire up!


By Clareo O’Shannessy.

Political debates, portraits and hot topics. Refugees are in the Spotlight this weekend.

It’s been a big week for asylum seekers in the Australian media. After Dutton’s much talked about comments earlier this week, the timing for the opening night of the I Came By Boat exhibition couldn’t be better.

On display are 13 portraits of Australians who happened to have arrived here by boat.

Each portrait is accompanied by a story; a personal journey of uncertainty, poverty, war and detention. Each story told willingly in a bid to highlight the contribution of refugees in Australia.

Photographer Lucas Allen manages to capture distinctions in ethnicities and cultural diversity in the minimalist portraits. The one consistent feature being the ‘everyday Australian’ aspect of each photograph.

The unspeakable words ‘boat people’ hardly come to mind when walking through the gallery. In fact, it looks like they might have stepped off a plane much like the other one in four migrants who now call Australia home.

Blanka Dudas & photographer, Lucas Allen

John Gulzari, an Afghani Hazara, was one of the participants in the campaign.

“I think that refugee and asylum seekers have been let down, by the minister [Peter Dutton] and by politicians [in general]. They have always been demonized.” Says John.

Left to Right: John Gulzari and Dr Munjed Al Muderis
Left to Right: John Gulzari and Dr Munjed Al Muderis

John Fled Afghanistan as a teenager in 1999. He first traveled to Pakistan, then on to Indonesia where he boarded a boat heading for Australia.

His story is all too familiar, one which combines the best and the worst of humanity. In 2007 John became a fully-fledged Australian citizen and active participant in Victorian politics.

“[The campaign] will raise the profile of asylum seekers and refugees, especially as it becomes a hot debate in politics.”

Opening Night of the I Came By Boat Exhibition

And a hot debate it is indeed. Although the campaign serves to disprove Dutton’s statement that asylum seekers are all illiterate, it does highlight the fact that they are actually employable.

But let’s be honest, if you had choose between Dr.Munjed Al Muderis and myself to perform life-saving surgery on a loved one, you’d be pretty thankful he stole that job away from me.


So let’s not delve too deep into the statement that illiterate beings, who speak no English, are stealing our jobs, whilst simultaneously sapping your tax dollars because they’re on the dole. The memes circulating Facebook are doing a rather good job of breaking down that argument on their own.

The exhibition will be open to the public from Friday the 20th of May to Sunday the 22nd of May from 11am-5pm.

It’s a highly regarded campaign Australia wide, with talks it may venture interstate.

Eva Orner, director of recently released documentary film Chasing Asylum attended the opening. In a joint event with I Came By Boat, Orner will take part in a Q&A session following the screening of her film next Sunday the 29th of May at Cinema Nova.

Thanks to Blanka Dudas, the driving force behind the campaign, you can expect to see the posters popping up around Melbourne sometime in June, just in time for the federal election.

If you can, get down to 9 Glasshouse Road in Collingwood over the weekend, it’s a great exhibit and an accurate reflection of how we need to view refugees and asylum seekers, just like anyone else.

To donate you can visit the I Came By Boat website here. Tickets are also still available to the Q&A screening of Chasing Asylum.

Art & Sex-Ed: Using comics for CALD youth sexual education

Sexual education can be a tumultuous process for teens and young adults, even more so for those from our culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Imagine discussing what is already a taboo topic in many cultures, compounded with language barriers and contrasting ideologies.

» Tan Œ Safe sexS.H.A.R.E is a new guided learning tool created by strategic design consultancy, Paper Giant, and commissioned by the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health, that uses cleverly designed comics as discussion points for community health workers and youth.

Chris Marmo, co-founder of Paper Giant, spoke to YR about the process of creating what is fundamentally a sex-ed guide for CALD youth.

“It can be awkward talking about sexual health, with culturally and linguistically diverse young people it’s super hard.”

The team began its research by gathering stories from social workers relating to sexual experiences among youth in the community, with both language barriers and age as a major component in the analysis.

“These obstacles compounded, using comics as a discussion point for youth sexual heath education was a natural decision.” Says Chris.

Through a network of youth advocates, supervised workshops were conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the first-hand issues CALD youth face. Using the comics depicting the scenarios outlined by social workers they began to identify other factors surrounding youth relationships and sexual interactions.

“We had some really brilliant young people, across a range of religions and cultural backgrounds… [and] we learnt a lot from what they were noticing in the stories, but we learnt even more from what they didn’t notice.”

Having a healthy relationship and positive sexual interactions is largely learned through social groups, home life and society attitudes at large. Often CALD youth are not permitted to talk about sex at home leaving them to generate their own ideas through social streams, entertainment and news.

“A lot of cultural attitudes became apparent when people would comment on things like teen pregnancy and how it is the responsibility of the girl to manage that.”


» Solomon and Sally Œ Comic

The comics depict scenarios such as unplanned pregnancy and sexual assault as well as highlighting pressure tactics used to dissuade condom use or initiate sexual intercourse.

Some scenarios, such as ‘Solomon and Sally: Sexual Assault’ and ‘Solomon and Sally: Happy Ending’ show the outcome of two possible scenarios, one in which sex is forced and the other where it is consensual.













With recourses in the health and community sector already stretched thin, having effective teaching material is paramount. All too often recourses are poured into streams that are inaccessible to target groups or have little preemptive focus.

“The biggest effect you can have from a project is making really good quality stuff that is available to everybody who wants it…We found that young people don’t search for this stuff unless they have a medical issue… so the idea of self-guided education and general niceties around how to have a healthy relationship or what positive and negative sex is, people don’t research that on their own. They only research that stuff if they have a specific issue they want to find an answer to, some kind of medical issue or they are already in trouble in some way.”

Since the projects launch in April, Marmo says the guides have been quite popular among the social services sector and have already been used in youth detention and other learning facilites around Melbourne.

The comics are available for download along with discussion points and other relevant learning material on the S.H.A.R.E website.


Being afraid of Islam is harmful to our society

This afternoon Professor Robert Manne sat down with popular TV personality and political commentator Waleed Aly to discuss the rising fear of Islam in the West.

Throughout the 90 minute webinar Aly discusses his famous ‘ISIL is weak‘ segment aired on The Project and talks about the impacts of the threat of terrorism in our society.

While Aly concedes that a terror attack is a possibility in Australia, he goes on to say that the most damaging element of an attack comes in its aftermath.

“The thing that hurts a society is the echo of that [terrorist attack]… We are not experts in dealing with domestic trauma.” Says Aly, “we tend to deny trauma or react really viscerally.”

In the wake of the growing and more public threat of terrorism, Aly says there is a trend of far right political movements gaining momentum and having a place in national public discourse, both in Australia and globally.

“Just about every country on the [European] continent has a far right movement that is doing quiet well. Even now we’re starting to see it in Germany, and that was the thing that scared me.” Aly tells Manne.

Here at home we see this trend in groups like the United Patriots Front, who regularly call for bans on people’s right to practice their religion.


Extreme statements, like the ‘stop the mosques’ banner unveiled at last weeks Collingwood vs Richmond football match, are harmful, not only to our muslim community but also to those of us who support freedom of religion and oppose discrimination.

stop mosques
Banner erected at last weeks AFL match

Fortunately, many Australian institutions support multiculturalism, and we saw this in the swift response put out by the Collingwood Football Club.

There are of course several far right voices that continue to penetrate the mainstream media. True to form, Aly believes they are of little consequence.

“Voices like Andrew Bolt are not as relevant as they think,”says Aly. “The ignorance is so determined and so insincere that I have no desire to engage it.”

However, Aly admits to being a minority when it comes to reflecting on anti-muslim sentiment.

“It’s clearly becoming a problem… A lot of muslims I know are really worried about this.”

We can combat the spread of anti-muslim sentiment, and Australia as a nation has an advantage in stemming the flow of fear and hate.

While identifying that Australia has a long and rich history with our first peoples he says that “We are a young nation. We therefore are malleable… The fact that we went from White Australia to whatever you call this, in 40 years, is quite amazing. I think that’s because we don’t know who we are yet.”

Unlike the deeply rooted history in Europe and the U.S, which can be difficult to change, we have the ability to mould a society based on acceptance, tolerance and understanding.

That is an exciting idea, and with a collective effort, it’s something we can give to the future generations of Australia.





Filling empty houses with Melbourne’s homeless

It seems logical that with 35,000 Victorians on the list for social housing that every recourse be used to accomodate the numbers.

Yet, the list grows each month with those most vulnerable in our community at risk of becoming homeless.

The Homeless Persons’ Union of Victoria is holding a sit-in protest which is now in its second day.

#HPUV don’t let houses rot, squat the lot. Direct action solution for the homeless on very, very long waiting lists.

Posted by Viola Wilkins on Wednesday, March 30, 2016


The protest comes after last years reports that houses acquired for the scrapped East West Link project would be used for homeless accomodation, however, to date no action has been taken and the houses remain empty.

“The demonstration seeks clarification on issues surrounding the ownership, management and occupancy of these empty, publicly-owned properties. The lack of transparency has led to confusion within the homeless community.” says HPUV in a statement released on their website.

In their latest statement HPUV claim to have been given information that two of the properties have in some way been linked to Noble Knight Real Estate and are seeking further clarification on the details.

“It was revealed to the demonstration late yesterday afternoon that a commercial relationship exists between the state government and Noble Knight Real Estate concerning property numbers 16 and 18 on Bendigo St, Collingwood.

“Today the demonstrators once again call on the Andrews government for transparency regarding their relationship with Noble Knight Real Estate as it pertains to any of the empty properties on Bendigo St.”

Feature Image courtesy of Dissident Media.