“I think more restaurants need vegan options, it just makes sense. That way shops would get more business and more people would be able to participate in Melbourne’s foodie culture. I mean, Melbourne’s already pretty good when it comes to vegan options, better than Brisbane definitely. At least, if you walk into a restaurant [in Melbourne] they can make stuff vegan for you on request, and they understand what you mean when you say ‘vegan’. And the food being made vegan doesn’t compromise on its quality. In Brisbane, there’s not as much creativity when it comes to vegan food – it’s all just salads. People are quick to assume that vegan food is just generally bland, but it’s nice to see that that assumption is being challenged here. People are giving veganism a go, and that’s really refreshing to see.”
The Abbotsford Convent is a rich artistic treasure nestled in suburbia. Spread over 16 acres, it was once identified as the biggest religious institution in the Southern Hemisphere. It now boasts a diverse artistic aura and is a breath of fresh air in the midst of a gentrified pocket of Melbourne.
The Abbotsford Convent is currently undergoing huge renovations to improve its image as a cultural hub. According to the Abbotsford Convent Foundation Business Plan, only 60 per cent of the Convent’s buildings, grounds and gardens are presently usable. In 2015, the Federal Government announced that the Abbotsford Convent Foundation (ACF) would receive a challenge grant of $2.68 million from the National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF) to renovate the 3600 square metre building and surrounding land, according to the Abbotsford Convent website.
The photos that follow walk you through the Convent’s invaluable artistic community, home to artists, art galleries, educational workshops, markets and much much more.
From the moment you meet Judy Ryan her passion for the neighbourhood she fondly refers to as ‘my village’ is impossible to ignore. “I just love this grungy area; I love walking out of my front gate and going ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen today.'”
As it turns out, this love of spontaneity has proved a valuable asset for Judy’s involvement with her neighbourhood and has led her to become one of its most valued members.
The seventh of eight children and hailing from Wangaratta, Judy is driven by a need to feel connected to those around her.
Warm and bubbly, it’s not hard to feel connected to her. “I just love knowing people,” she says with a shrug.
“Having lived in the country, I was very involved in the community … my parents were very involved – we’ve always had a sense of getting your energy from the community.”
So when Judy and her husband John settled in Abbotsford five years ago, the first thing she did was seek out a place for herself in her new neighbourhood.
“One of the things I wanted to do was create community for myself.”
She began by volunteering as a mentor with Yarra Community Friends. Then there was a stint in the Abbotsford Convent’s choir. But Judy’s greatest act of community involvement began last year in July 2016.
It was a typical Melbourne Sunday she says; cool but clear, not a cloud in the sky. Judy was on her way out and in the laneway behind her home, a young man lay overdosed on the concrete.
This has become so common that Judy is often afraid to leave her home – not out of concern for her own safety, but for the wellbeing of those she refers to as her ‘regulars’: the individuals using her laneway as their own injecting facility.
Upon leaving to meet me, she explains, there was someone using her laneway to inject. She has become so involved in the lives of addicts her GP has advised her to be vaccinated against hepatitis.
Not one to be passive, Judy reached out to her council and after failing to get results, decided to run herself as a single-issue candidate. She received more than 600 primary votes, putting her on the map and on top of various organisations’ contact lists.
After being inundated with emails from interest groups across the Yarra, she noticed one from Victoria Street Drug Solutions.
Judy picked up the phone and arranged to meet them the next day, and became involved instantly. Her first order of business was to instil her community values into the organisation, which she did by changing the name.
Judy is now secretary of Residents for Victoria Street Drug Solutions (RVSDS) – a community-led initiative campaigning for the introduction of a supervised injecting facility into the community.
After touring Sydney’s Kings Cross injecting facility, Judy decided “I want one of these in my backyard” and began the push along with RVSDS’s other members: “I just felt the residents didn’t have a voice”.
RVSDS has become that voice and Judy is its loudest member. “We often call Judy the Erin Brockovich of North Richmond. She’s really helped bring a spotlight to what is going on here,” says Penny Francis of North Richmond Community Health.
“She is genuine, generous and has true community spirit – around her kitchen table strangers become friends,” says Kylie Troy-West, one of Judy’s fellow RVSDS members. “There’s that sense of dedication to her community and the drive to act in their benefit.”
When our conversation turns to the addicts there’s no bitterness or judgement, only maternal concern, and an empathy coming from personal experience. Having lost two nephews to heroin addiction, Judy is no stranger to the suffering families affected by drug abuse. She believes, if they had had access to a supervised injecting facility they would have been saved.
After our meeting, Judy takes me on a walk around her neighbourhood; we visit local injecting and dealing hotspots. It’s a tour Judy has conducted many times with various politicians and journalists to highlight the need for injecting facilities, “I like people coming out to see for themselves,” she says.
“Education is key,” she tells me, and the streets speak for themselves. Stepping into one commonly frequented car park, we witness someone shooting up. Syringes and cotton swabs litter the ground.
“Imagine overdosing in a place like this,” Judy reflects as we stand in the falling rain, among piles of rubbish and muddy puddles. But she’s optimistic RVSDS’s efforts will end that possibility: “I’m so full of hope,” she tells me.
Judy doesn’t want recognition or credit for her efforts, but her dedication shouldn’t go unrecognised. Since becoming involved Judy has put her life on hold.
She still works three days a week at a school in Brighton, but it’s clear her work with RVSDS is her true passion, and she is determined to see her project through, “mum would say ‘you should never die wondering'”.
It’s clear that though Judy may be keen to return to her everyday life, she has no plans of quietening down until she’s achieved a better environment for all of her village.
Residents of Victoria Street Drug Solutions will hold their inaugural March to Stay Alive on August 27 in anticipation of International Overdose Awareness Day to raise awareness and funds.
The Real Greek Souvlaki is slightly more expensive than Lambs with standard souvlaki’s starting at $12.
However, Fitzroy locals Jacob Friest and Andrea Crocco believe the one dollar premium is entirely justified.
“Of all the shops on the strip Real Greek easily has the most appetising spread – all the food looks really fresh and you can tell everything’s hand-made.”
“Out of the four, Real Greek is the place to go,” they said.
Chubbys Kebab, Pizza and HSP might be the best value on Brunswick Street, with the going rate for a souvlaki at a measly $9.50, but regular Chubbys’ customer and Fitzroy local Adam Crew said that there’s a clear reason the souvlakis are the cheapest on the strip.
“At the end of the day Chubbys is cheap and nasty, it’s the kind of place you go late at night and it tastes good at the time, but you pay for it the next day.”
“In saying that I think they have the best bread on the strip, particularly the Turkish bread,” Adam said.
Lucas Anderson said that of the four shops on the strip, Souvlaki King is easily the most forgettable.
“Souvlaki King is alright, but it’s not the first place I would be going, in fact it’s probably the fourth,” Lucas said.
All four souvlaki shops on Brunswick Street are open until 5 am, so if you’re ever feeling so hangry you could ‘squirrel grip’ your brother we at The Yarra Reporter would recommend The Real Greek Souvlaki.
The program’s expansion comes after a successful trial in the neighbouring suburb of Richmond where there were more than 300 expressions of interest and solar capacity within the suburb increased by 10-12%.
The bulk buy gives residents access to market leading rates by aggregating suburbs of people and making a single discounted bulk purchase.
Yarra Energy Foundation acting chief executive Dean Kline said the program’s expansion will make solar power more accessible and affordable.
“The solar bulk buy, planned for early 2018, will give all Yarra residents the opportunity to purchase high quality solar photovoltaic (PV) systems for their homes or businesses at market leading rates.”
“This is the best option for homeowner’s eager to invest in solar power. The program’s scope means that we are able to demand quality materials with bulk purchase discounts.”
“This process makes it easy for households to make the move towards solar power because we organise everything from finding quality manufacturers, to overseeing installation and even project managing if required,” Mr. Kline said.
Solar powered panels installed as part of the program are predicted to have paid for themselves after five to eight years and PV systems are guaranteed for at least 25 years.
Saint Marys House of Welcome in Fitzroy received an eight kilowatt (Kw) solar PV system last September and business manager Kathy Hogarty said the donation makes a huge difference to their bottom line.
“Our services like hot showers, a warm place to relax and freshly prepared meals demand considerable electricity use and the solar panels save us about 10 to 12% on our monthly electricity bill.”
“That equates to around $2500 a year, which is enough money for us to provide meals to the homeless for a month.”
“The installation itself was quite seamless and a sideline to that it brought a level of awareness both to our organisation and the community at large where by people consciously thought about their own energy use,” Mrs. Hogarty said.
Doctor Jacek Jasieniak Monash university’s director of Energy Materials & Systems Institute said solar power is the most viable renewable energy option for those living in metropolitan areas.
“About 16% of Victorian households have solar power, which equates to about 400,000 homes. It’s a popular renewable energy option for metropolitan households because it is among the cheapest available and only limited by roof direction and size.”
“The average household uses between 20 – 25 kWh per day. To produce enough solar power to meet these energy demands a household would need 17 – 21 high powered panels at the minimum.”
“While it is unlikely that typical metropolitan houses will be able to go off grid, there is no impediment for local generation on a smaller scale that is used, passed back to the grid, or stored in a local energy storage system,” Dr. Jasieniak said.
Registrations for the Yarra Energy Foundation’s solar bulk buy are expected to open early 2018, for more information click here.
New road rules are set to redefine Victorian arterials for both cyclists and motorists from the 1st of July.
The laws give riders access to all bus lanes across Victoria unless otherwise signed and include $476 on the spot fines for cyclists caught using their phone.
These changes bring cyclists into line with all other road users and are designed to streamline the prosecution process with police issuing on the spot fines, rather than charging riders through the expensive and time-consuming court process.
Changes to the bus lanes come following a five year trial on two of the Yarra’s busiest arterials, Hoddle Street and Johnston Street. The trials found that allowing cyclists bus lane access increased rider safety and reduced traffic congestion.
Acting Minister for Roads and Road Safety John Eren says that the new legislation will make Victorian roads quicker, and easier for everyone.
“Safety is our top priority – that’s why we’re investing in separated cycling paths and updating the road rules to move riders away from high volume traffic lanes.”
“These are common sense changes aimed at keeping people safe on our roads,” Mr. Eren said.
However, Val Nagle from the Yarra Bicycle Users Group believes that giving cyclists access to bus lane’s is only a start and much more should be done to improve rider safety.
“These changes are window dressing, cars going down these roads are travelling at 60 kms an hour and any cyclist who has any awareness of their own safety doesn’t ride down a road with a bus lane in it,” Mr. Nagle said.
“Personally, the only bus lane I use is the one on Johnson Street and that’s spooky enough as it is, there’s so many bikes and cars moving in an out, particularly between Smith Street and Hoddle Street, that it’s just too tight.”
“No cyclist likes using bus lanes, its dangerous but it’s the lesser of two evils, it’s like the choice between Stalin and Brezhnev.”
The new on the spot fines have also caught the ire of cyclists with many feeling the new law is unnecessary.
“I can understand the argument that there should be one sort of penalty for everyone operating a vehicle on the roads, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen one person out on their bike having a text.”
“This is not a real issue for cyclists, it’s just a law for laws sake,” Mr. Nagle said.
However, Chief Scientist – Human Factors from the Australian Road Research Board Professor Michael Regan believes that any legislation that encourages people not to use their phones while commuting will reduce road trauma.
“In terms of crash risk, the latest studies suggest that if you talk on the mobile phone while driving you increase your risk of having a crash by two times. If you are texting on a phone your risk is roughly multiplied by seven.”
“Using a mobile device while riding takes your eyes off the road, mind off the road and hands off the road, so I would say that in many ways using a mobile phone while riding a bicycle is more dangerous than in a vehicle,” Prof. Regan said.
A full list and further details on the new laws are available on the VicRoads website.
“I opened Maison de Linda salon around 4 months ago on Victoria street. I was studying French at school and I am deeply into this culture; the films, history, design and art. The place itself has a little bit of Parisian sophistication mixed with vintage. I wanted to establish a place on Victoria street that not only speaks of me, but also becomes ‘home’ for some of my customers, where they will feel comfortable, free, relaxed and ready for new beauty adventures. We are all aware of the way we look. Sometimes we have days we dislike ourselves and feel down. My job is to bring out the best in people, make them feel more confident and special.”
If you’re craving music, great food, an escape from the frantic city, and good vibes all at the same time, then I have the place for you!
Set in the beautiful Abbotsford Convent, The Supper Market has returned for 2017 and will be running right through until the end of February.
The historic Abbotsford Convent is home to the market every Friday night from 5 pm to 9.30 pm, where you can experience a magical world full of live music, food stalls, hand-made crafts and much more.
An aroma of sweet chocolate donuts and salty sweet potato chips entice you to the food trucks, taking up prime spots at the market – there is something for all taste buds with cuisines ranging from Ratatouille Burgers through to the tastes of the Himalayas.
One of Melbourne’s most popular food trucks, The Little Mushroom Co. has a permanent park for this year’s Supper Market, tempting visitors with their widely sought after burgers.
The Little Mushroom Co. owner Bryan Mooney said the Abbotsford Convent is a beautiful space for the market and a great environment to sell food.
“Our food is quirky and we take a lot of care developing the food and we can take over a year to make a menu item,” he said.
Alongside great food to indulge in there is also great music to entertain you throughout the night with electronic pop, live bands and African dance music.
Event organiser Jane Goodrich said the event sparked from a Sunday market that was previously held at the venue, and they decided the spot was perfect for a relaxing Friday night market.
“The main asset is the really beautiful location and you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city while being surrounded by the beautiful heritage gardens of the convent,” she said.
As you wonder around the markets there is plenty to see and buy, with handcrafted jewellery and vintage threads making an appearance.
The Supper Market is the place to spend a Friday evening after a hectic week of work. With another three markets to go, enjoy the relaxing twilight markets in one of Melbournes most iconic and scenic spaces.
And best of all, it’s puppy friendly.
For more information about The Supper Market or other events at the Abbotsford Convent click here.
The gentrification of Melbourne’s inner north has been a reality since the 1970’s when industry moved further out and housing affordability decreased rapidly.
Yet, the City of Yarra is host to some of Melbourne’s largest and oldest public housing settlements, which are a core feature in the municipalities profile.
Eighteen year old Yarra Resident, Wilson Poni, has lived in Richmond in a community housing residence for over a decade and can’t imagine a better place to have grown up.
“It’s a good area, it’s safe as well.”
Part of Wilson’s love for his community stems from his participation in the council run Yarra Youth Services (YYS), located on Napier Street in Fitzroy. YYS aim to cater, not only to the 15,000 youth living in the area, but also to those who frequent it through school, work or play.
“Yarra Youth helps a lot of kids. They provide support and they give opportunities to kids to actually engage.”
YYS run programs such as fashion and textile design, artist in residence workshops, event management projects and leadership programs among many others.
“I’ve actually been through most of the programs here,” says Wilson. “When I was a kid I tried everything…The Livng It Up program is really good, it provides what we want to learn, the life skills, [which] I think are very important. Its like a short taste of what’s out there, you know.”
Although anyone under the age of 25 can participate, a large number of those involved in YYS are residents of the public housing dwellings.
Wilson is just one of many kids involved with YYS, yet his story is one with a precarious beginning, a commonality among the youth.
“My family moved from Sudan to Uganda. We were refugees from Sudan to Uganda, [now] half my family is in Sudan [and] half is in Uganda.”
Wilson spent several years with his mother and siblings in a Ugandan Refugee camp before being granted asylum in Australia.
“I remember Uganda not Sudan, I was just a baby, two or three… I haven’t been back there, but I was planning to go this year with my mum.”
In a country as multicultural as Australia, it’s no surprise that one in four Australians are born overseas. In the City of Yarra municipality, that increases to one in three.
What it is to be a youth in Australia can be an entirely different experience to that of a youth in other countries. Children from migrant families often have more responsibilities and personal freedoms can be restricted as a consequence.
“My mum is finishing study for her childcare course [and] I help look after [the kids she cares for] when she isn’t feeling well… I have to take kids to training when they play basket ball… I feel like I have to help, anyways I like doing it, it’s alright. The kids are nice as well.”
Earlier this year, Wilson was one of six selected individuals flown to the Manchester City Football Academy’s Global Young Leaders Summit. The opportunity came through the YYS Soccer Pathways program, and is sponsored by Melbourne City FC.
“Im a sports person, everything I want to do has to do with sports,” he boasts.
Wilson is studying sports development at Victoria University and hopes to become a manager of a soccer team. His recent trip to Manchester inspiring a love of travel and the idea of living abroad.
“I see myself in England managing a team in 10 years. I was there for a week, it was beautiful, [it was] the best week.”
Shaping young minds and ensuring their best possible outcome is fundamental to community development and Wilson believes YYS provides the necessary support systems.
“Yarra Youth has helped me to form what I am now, [without it] i’d be a different person.”
However, ensuring that the services offered cater to a vast array of individuals, including youth, parents and carers, is essential to the functionality of the organisation.
Cherry Grimwade, is the Youth and Middle Years Coordinator at YYS. She has been involved in the youth services sector for over 10 years and highlights their varied role within the community.
“You’ve got real pockets in Yarra of affluence, and real pockets in Yarra of disadvantage. How do you make sure a program and services you run are engaging and successful for all youth?” she asks.
From the ‘Living It Up’ life skills workshops, which teach mechanical work, cooking and boxing, to the music recording studio, which gives youth a safe place for expression, Grimwade believes it takes a variety of activities to nurture a variety of people.
“We have lots of different young people at the centre… Lots of different cultural backgrounds, [they’re] from various different sexual orientations, different age groups, different interests, involved in different sub cultures… Ultimately they are coming to those programs because they have an interest in that area, and part of youth services is to make everyone feel like they are connected and integrated in the program.”
Through free programs and transport to and from workshops, YYS aims to overcome accessibility issues, which often stem from economic hardship.
Unemployment, however, is a very real concern among Australian youth, who make up 40% of the entire unemployed work force.
According to a 2014 research report conducted by the Inner Northern Youth Employment Taskforce, a sharp decrease of entry level jobs since 2008 has further skewed opportunity vs participation of youth employment.
In the city of Yarra 26.7% of youth were unemployed in 2014, further perpetuating social and economic differences among youth.
“All young people have barriers to employment at the moment. If you’re a young person that has been born in Australia and have good family networks often your first casual job, or your job, comes from someone your family knows. For young people that live in the housing estates that’s where it differs. They don’t have those connections. [The point of] youth services is actually to build those connection points for them.”
However, the disconnect among young people can not always be measured in numbers. For some, their past experiences are harder to manage than others, and social cohesion relies on providing a safe environment for expression.
“A lot of these kids come from really traumatic backgrounds, from war torn countries , there are issues around big families living in small units, [or] not having a back garden. There are often barriers to schooling… Some of these young people have come from refugee camps, so if you’ve been in a refugee camp for 6 years your education won’t reflect your age level.” Says Grimwade
Knowing how to address these traumas and life experiences is key to the services proved by Yarra Youth.
“A number of young people are involved with the Hip-Hop program at the music studio. Through Hip-Hop and writing songs they often will write about their experiences and their histories… it means that they can start and unpack and deal with those issues.”
Wilson just finished his first demo track at the music studio, for him and hundreds of other kids who have stepped through the Napier Street doors, YYS is central to bridging the gaps that naturally occur within diverse communities.