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

Controversial Melbourne artist, Lushsux

Melbourne street artist Lushsux is recognised for his large murals on streets, walls and other structures.

He goes without a name to keep anonymous and with a following of 210,000 on Instagram, his work speaks for itself.

Lushsux is considered the first meme artist on social media.

Trending memes are constantly created on social media based on popular events and issues that happen in the media. Lushsux makes a comical meme out of the trends and paints them.

He started painting murals around Melbourne and now travels the world working on murals based on trending events on social media.

He has painted famous A-list celebrities and politicians such as Kim Kardashian, Kanye, Donald Trump, Seinfeld, Kesha, Kin Jong Un, Kanye and Bill Nye.

Early this year a mural of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald Trump was painted on the corner of Victoria Street after Schwarzenegger responded to Trumps climate move creating controversy between them. Photo: Zathia Bazeer
An uncomfortable encounter between Jerry Seinfeld and singer Kesha during a red carpet interview, where Kesha asked Seinfeld for a hug and he awkwardly denied it, sent social media into a frenzy. Memes of the moment were made in a comical sense on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Photo: Zathia Bazeer

 

A mural of the supreme leader of North Korea wearing street clothing was a comical take of Kim Jon Un who is renowned as a serious leader. The work also used the pun of his supreme leader status with him drawn wearing the brand ‘Supreme’. Photo: Zathia Bazeer

 

Bill Nye was interview by Marco Morano about his controversial views on climate change where he claimed he didn’t believe in free speech. A mural was painted days after the event. Recently the mural has been spray painted with comments criticising the artist Lushsux by calling him Banksy (another street artist). Photo: Zathia Bazeer

 

A mural of Andrew Bolt appeared after he got attacked on the streets by two men that may be linked to Antifa (a leftist group). “Lefties get a left hook” was added to make the mural comical and focus on the fact that Bolt punched one of the attackers. Photo: Zathia Bazeer.

By Zathia Bazeer

Walking, cycling and public transport – travel the Yarra way

In her three separate tenures as Mayor of the City of Yarra, Cr Jackie Fristacky has invited residents and visitors to ‘travel the Yarra way’.

“To travel the Yarra way is to walk, cycle and use public transport,” Cr Fristacky said.

In December 2013, the City of Yarra released the four-year Yarra Environment Strategy 2013-2017 (YES).

The strategy’s aim was to provide the direction and actions required to make the City of Yarra more sustainable.

A key pathway in this strategy is ‘Sustainable Transport’ and more broadly, sustainable infrastructure.

“Despite the larger projects such as rail and road being the responsibility of Federal and State Government, at a council level, we have created great developments for the City of Yarra’s infrastructure,” Cr Fristacky said.

One development is the adoption of a bike path on every road in the City of Yarra.

The project was created in 2003 and has progressively been rolled out.

“There are line markings on most roads, as part of ongoing maintenance, some line markings need to be redone,” Cr Fristacky said.

Melbourne Bike Share is a public bicycle hire scheme designed for short trips across the city and is another example of a recent addition to the City of Yarra’s sustainable infrastructure.

“Bike Share is growing, with already 51 stations across the city and thousands of users annually,” Cr Fristacky said.

Two men hiring a bike using Melbourne Bike Share. Photo: Flickr

Australian Bureau of Statistics data comparing the method of travel of people living in the City of Yarra showed a 2.1% increase in bicycle use between 2006 and 2011, with this number expected to rise once 2016 data is available according to Cr Fristacky.

“Bike paths are embedded in every road project as an important part of cycling infrastructure,” Cr Fristacky said.

Cycling isn’t the only transport priority for the City of Yarra.

In 2014, the route 12 tram was established, travelling from Victoria Parade to St Kilda.

“The route 12 tram shuttle was enormously important for Yarra,” Cr Fristacky said.

“Instead of the route 109 to Box Hill, route 12 provided a quicker, additional service for people to get around the City of Yarra, particularly through Victoria Parade,” Cr Fristacky said.

The City of Yarra is proposing a similar shuttle on Brunswick Street, as a joint venture between the Yarra and Moreland councils.

Tram in the City of Yarra. Photo: Flickr

Dr Kane Nicholls has lived in Clifton Hill for two years and has embraced the sustainable transport mantra.

While 34.4% of residents in the City of Yarra get to work by car, Dr Nicholls isn’t one of them.

“I take the train from Clifton Hill station to work and then repeat the journey on the way home,” Dr Nicholls said.

“I rarely use my car, only when I go grocery shopping or to suburbs without a quick transport option such as Doncaster,” Dr Nicholls said.

The Doncaster Rail Project has been a buzz topic for the City of Yarra and a political issue for State Government for some time.

“We support Doncaster Rail as it will reduce sole occupancy vehicles on roads in the City of Yarra,” Cr Fristacky said.

“We opposed the East West link and the West Gate tunnel. These will have the opposite effect of a new public transport network,” Cr Fristacky said.

The Victorian State Government recently announced $10 million towards devising a new airport rail plan, despite a 2013 study by Public Transport Victoria concluding the high costs of the plan outweigh the project’s benefits.

“Airport Rail would reduce the number of people using the Eastern Freeway and lessen the number of cars driving through the City of Yarra, which is desirable,” Cr Fristacky said.

Both Cr Fristacky and Dr Nicholls are supporters of travelling ‘the Yarra way’ and next time you visit the City of Yarra, if you don’t already, maybe you should too.

Written by Nicholas Nakos

Yarra, Moreland and Darebin unite to help give young entrepreneurs a go

Do you ever feel attacked by the media for being a part of a generation of self-centred narcissists who spend too much money on smashed avo and not enough on a housing deposit? Kate Rizzo, youth development officer for the Yarra council and leader of the Young Entrepreneurs in the North program, thinks this assessment of young people couldn’t be further from the truth.

Rizzo, 27, has a degree in Psychology and Social work, runs her own social enterprise and has a passion for working with what she says is one of the most misrepresented demographics: youth.

Kate Rizzo (centre) with last years Young Entrepreneurs. Photo: Juan Castro.

Since being developed by a colleague of Rizzo’s in conjunction with the Yarra council in 2014, Entrepreneurs in the North has since expanded to the cities of Moreland and Darebin under Rizzo’s leadership, beginning in 2015.

Rizzo said the aim of the program is to “support young people in business develop an idea,” by running weekly workshops with guest speakers, and providing mentors for participants. With 18 young people from the City of Yarra currently receiving mentorship as part of the program, Rizzo said that about 80 per cent of participants are of African heritage, and are inspired to develop many of their business ideas specifically for the African community.

Rizzo gave an example of two young Somalian women called Fatima and Huda who are creating a “safe space” for Somalian women to discuss traditionally taboo subjects like sex and relationships. The young women told Rizzo that many African women are discouraged from talking about sex and relationships among family and peers, making this project especially beneficial for these women.

Young entrepreneur Nyonno Bel-Air is a success story from last year’s intake. Bel-Air, pictured above, discovered a gap in the cosmetics market for people with tan to dark skin tones, so she used the program to help create the highly successful brand, Kleur Cosmetics, which specialises in formulating shades for skin with high levels of melanin. The brand already has a following of almost one and a half thousand on Instagram, and is definitely a space to watch.

Kleur Cosmetics latest foundation. Photo: Instagram.

Rizzo said that Young Entrepreneurs in the North was developed after seeing a lack of employment opportunities for youth. It has since received funding from the Yarra and Moreland council’s youth services and economic development units.

The workshops are run weekly on a Tuesday night by the Roshambo Group, who, according to their website are “founders, investors and advisors, working with … individuals, teams, departments, and businesses to efficiently and effectively deliver the critical 21st-century adaptability [to business].”

Rizzo said that the young people in the program are working to “modern models of business” rather than the old school, and are using state-of-the-art technology and strategies to make sure their businesses get off the ground in the right direction.

So, if you’re a young person who resides in the City of Yarra, Darebin or Moreland and have a great business idea, email kate.rizzo@yarracity.vic.gov.au or phone 9426 1455 to sign up for this awesome program to kick-start your career and prove to the media and your parents that young people aren’t just self-absorbed avo-eating dreamers with no realistic goals.

Watch last year’s video by Moreland City Council to find out more:

Written by Caitlin Matticoli

Fussy consumers and the food waste fight

Anthony James, leader of The Rescope Project, believes, to reduce the surplus of wasted food the community must change its ideals of how produce should look. Fitzroy is set to receive an education on food wastage when The Rescope Project comes to town tomorrow, July 19to encourage sustainability for a brighter future.

There’s no denying the Yarra community is an eco-friendly bunch, already having done much to combat food waste through council initiatives such as Food Know How.

“We work with residents and households to avoid creating food waste in the first place,” explains Food Know How project manager Matthew Nelson.

Are we being too shallow in our food choices? Photo: Michael Moloserdoff

While community initiatives encouraged by Food Know How such as food swaps and community gardens, along with measures taken by residents within the home have gone a long way to reduce the surplus of wasted food, are our attitudes about how our food should look holding us back from winning the food waste fight for good?

It has long been a trend of supermarkets to toss fruits and vegetables deemed visually unappealing in order to meet consumers’ aesthetic expectations.

The Rescope Project leader Mr James said: “It’s interesting that we seek that idea of perfection in the first place … we get lost in the details of perfection as opposed to what counts in life; good healthy food from a healthy ecosystem. Whether an apple’s got a little lump on it is by-the-by; in fact it becomes a quality test of the real kind because you’ve got it closer to [its] source.”

Fitzroy is a popular location for dumpster divers Photo: Alice WIlson

Mr James isn’t the only one holding this opinion. Skip-dipping, dumpster diving, whatever you may call it; the growing trend of ‘freegan’ living is becoming a popular choice for those fed up with the amount of food wasted due to the community’s search for picture-perfect fruit and veg.

“A large portion of society has grown up with ridiculous regulations on how our food should look. Banana too straight? Throw it out. Apple has a spot on it? Throw it out.”

Ricardo Potoroo, began dumpster diving after becoming aware of food waste caused by food sellers. He wants more pressure placed on supermarkets to dispose of excess food more responsibly.

“Councils have an ethical duty to put more pressure on supermarkets and wholesalers to donate their excess produce back to the community,” he said.

Fellow ‘diver’ Gabrielle Paz-Liebman agrees. “Councils need to work harder to create some very strong laws around food waste, but not in ways that keep the power within supermarkets.”

While it’s true that supermarkets fuel our high standards, and should be doing more to ensure what is discarded is done so in a more responsible manner, is it down to only them and councils to shoulder the blame?

Anthony James says no: “Local councils are responsible for mediating and encouraging the community to get more informed on these issues… Where does responsibility lie in general? It’s across the board,” he said.

This view is also held by Bree Fomenko of Food Without Borders, an upcoming food rescue program orchestrated by Lentil as Anything, the pay-as-you-feel vegan haunt operating out of several locations across Melbourne, including the Yarra’s own Abbotsford.

“Broadly speaking, food retailers can implement actions to reduce the amount of food wasted. However, responsibility must also be shared by consumers in the choices made when purchasing and disposing of food items.

“As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to aesthetically perfect products and beautifully-designed packaging.

“For example, perfectly smooth, red tomatoes are often favoured over ones with a few blemishes, but the nutritional content and taste-factor may be the same.”

Once up and running, Food Without Borders hopes to work with food retailers to repurpose unwanted food, minimising waste and helping those in need, along with raising awareness of the implications of food waste and encouraging positive actions to reduce waste among the community.

Ventures such as Lentil’s Food Without Borders is a step in the right direction to further reduce waste in the Yarra community, and if locals can lower their standards while shopping, a sustainable future becomes much more obtainable.

The Rescope Project is on at the Bargoonga Nganjin North Fitzroy Library, 182/186 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North, Wednesday, July 19 from 6pm-7pm.

To register for The Rescope Project’s free event, visit the Yarra City Council’s What’s On for further details.

Written by Alice Wilson

Family Violence in Yarra

Yarra families that are victims of violence are lacking places of refuge and support, according to an online advocacy group run by the Socialist Party.

The Facebook group, We Need a Family Violence Support & Service Hub was created in December last year after the council released a statement on its website in the same month citing a 24.5 per cent spike in family violence reports over the previous year in the City of Yarra alone. This statistic was derived from the Crime Statistics Agency Victoria earlier this year.

The report was even more alarming because the average increase in family violence reports across Victoria was 10 per cent. The group was one of the key drivers of the investigation run by the Royal Commission which released a report in December last year stating five safety hubs will be built across Victoria, with just one of those five to be built in Melbourne.

Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly, a key member and spokesperson of We Need a Family Violence Support & Service Hub said they lost the battle when trying to turn the council-owned property at 152a Hoddle Street into a domestic violence refuge and resource centre. Cr Jolly said that the decision was a “slap in the face” to survivors of domestic and family violence in the area.

He also said that there is a possibility that the council will use the property, located opposite the Collingwood Town Hall,  for units and other housing development. Jolly said that the Yarra council’s main concern is money, but assures the public that he will “keep banging away” in tune with the new budget due to be released in August.

Annie Douglas from Women’s Health in the North (WHIN), a council-funded organisation and full member of Domestic Violence Victoria told the Yarra Reporter that she didn’t know about the refuge centre issue, but the increase in family violence reports isn’t necessarily negative as it may demonstrate that the ongoing funding and support of the Yarra Council is helping survivors of family violence be more confident in seeking help.

“It’s really hard to say what has caused the increase. Generally, it can be attributed to increased confidence in the system, an increase in media attention and public understanding that [family violence] is not a ‘private matter’. It is simply not acceptable.” Douglas said.

Douglas, who is the health promotion officer focused on prevention against violence and gender equity, said that WHIN developed a Building a Respectful Community strategy, for 2017 – 2021.The strategy, supported by the state government and backed by a further 26 organisations was released last Friday, and aims to help combat violence using a strategic partner approach with its supporters, Douglas said.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services is providing core funding for the strategy, that many major organisations in the City of Yarra and others in the north-metro region are supporting. Cr Jolly said that any strategy or resources are a step in the right direction, but reiterated that he still hasn’t given up the fight to fund more places of refuge.

Fitzroy library showed its support of WHIN’s strategy by facilitating a talk by Fitzroy Legal Service on Wednesday, July 12 in an attempt to educate the public on their rights when faced with family violence. The talk was part of  Know Your Rights, a series of regular sessions held at libraries accross the Yarra, presenting legal information for communtiy members. 

Fitzroy Legal’s community development officer, Jennifer Ward, said that having better access to information surrounding survivors’ rights empowers them to make better choices.

Ward said the main aim of the talk was to target vulnerable people who may not already have access to services.

The City of Yarra is “diverse and full of new migrants,” said Ward, and this is why the service is committed to providing good quality legal information to those who may not have the tools to know their rights and options.

Cr Jolly said that 152a Hoddle Street is continuing to be discussed as becoming a potential safe hub.

Written by Caitlin Matticoli

Cultivating workplace culture: how migrants are enriching this Collingwood enterprise

Consumerism, fast fashion and immigration are issues that are fast becoming household discussions. The ever-increasing conversations surrounding these socio-economic and environmental topics are making them much harder to ignore.

As we all struggle to be better humans, to find a way to make a meaningful difference, one social-enterprise in Fitzroy has already done just that. For almost a decade, The Social Studio has been employing a globalisation of a different kind using an untapped resource many Australian employers are ignoring – individuals of migrant and refugee backgrounds.

In February of 2017 it was reported that the unemployment rate of East African and Middle Eastern immigrants was averaging 33 percent in the first five years of settlement; six times higher than the national average. While, most migrants will cite employment as an integral part of their settlement, they often face hurdles in getting into the Australian workforce.

The Social Studio, situated amongst the cultural crucible of Collingwood’s Smith Street is a not-for-profit social enterprise on a mission. Founded in 2009, what originally began as a provider of design and sewing classes has since evolved into a successful, multi-faceted organisation intent on improving the lives of those most marginalised in our community. According to CEO Eugenia Flynn, the enterprise’s objectives are simple; “We use the vehicle of a fashion and hospitality business including a clothing label, retail shop, digital printing studio, café and a catering business to create meaningful social change”.

Through its fashion label, textile studio, and café, The Social Studio employs young refugees and immigrants, or those hailing from migrant backgrounds, offering employment with a creative twist. Employees are encouraged to express and share their culture, forging links between refugee and migrant groups and the wider community. Clothes sold in the Social Studio’s Smith Street store are produced locally, with sustainable resources to minimise environmental impact. Designs are affordably priced and feature vibrant, bold prints with significant cultural meanings behind each piece. The adjoining café, The Cutting Table, is also staffed by young refugees and migrants and serves a menu featuring a blend of East and West African fare.

The label’s designs feature vibrant prints all produced locally and sustainably. Photo: Alice Wilson

In addition to providing employment opportunities, the Social Studio makes it possible for refugees to get certified within the areas of hospitality and design. “Our purpose is to create meaningful and long-term pathways into employment for young people from a refugee or migrant background, and who may have experienced barriers to accessing education and/or securing employment.” Says Ms Flynn. “We provide TAFE level training, work experience, volunteer opportunities and employment in fashion, manufacturing, retail and hospitality, creating imperative education and employment opportunities and pathways.”

Since its beginning, the Social Studio has provided education and employment for over 580 people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. One such individual who has benefited from this enterprise is Abuk Bol, who worked as a seamstress in Sudan before she came to Australia in 2004 as a refugee. Abuk came across the Social Studio, after several failed attempts to get into the Australian workforce. She has since gone on to work for Brunswick-based bridal designer Mariana Hardwick and is now the owner of her own enterprise, Twich Women’s Sewing Collective, which sells clothing and homewares in her home town of Dandenong. “I was interested in clothes making and wanted to do something that could get me a job, being an immigrant and hardly knowing English, I decided to do the Certificate III in clothing production with the Social Studio.”

Abuk’s story is a great example of how increasing just one persons skill set can, in turn, work towards increasing many. The Social Studio champions multiculturalism and demonstrates that these individuals contribute to, rather than diminish the economy. “I now have my own store and space where I can help women like me get certification and jobs.” Abuk says.  “I would like to provide women, especially ones in a minority, the opportunity to get an education and a job. Or just somewhere they feel they belong.”

The Social Studio and Cutting Table Cafe, located on Collingwood’s Smith St. Photo: Alice Wilson

This sense of belonging is perhaps the most important contribution the Social Studio provides. “For students it’s developing friendships and broadening their community, branching out and become more open to everyone else.” Says Helen Kelabora, a teacher for the Certificate III clothing course the Studio offers. The benefits of an organisation like the Social Studio are as diverse as the services they offer to those they employ and to the Yarra community. For Eugenia Flynn, the is much more work to be done, “we would love to consolidate our work across the past eight years and create a deeper social impact” and it’s through the help of the Yarra community that this can be achieved.

Written by Alice Wilson

Submissions for Emerge 2017 are coming to a close

Call outs to get involved in the City of Yarra’s most inclusive celebration of multicultural arts and music, Emerge 2017, are coming to a close this Friday.

Created in 2004, in conjunction with Multicultural Arts Victoria’s (MAV) Visible Music Mentoring Program, Emerge 2017 started out as a humble arts festival and has grown into an all-encompassing series of art and music events taking place across the Yarra for one week at the end of June.

Emerge 2017 welcomes innovative music and art submissions from artists in the Yarra and provides an outstanding opportunity for newly arrived refugees and emerging communities to get involved in telling their stories and connecting with the community.

We spoke to Joel Ma, one of the creative producers, about all that is coming from this year’s event.

“It’s about opening up communities and neighbourhoods to the multicultural personalities and diversity that is around them and we often take for granted… and within that is this rich amount of human story and experience that we can all benefit from and embrace,” he said.

Cookin’ Up Community with South Sudanese spoken word poet Abe Nouk and South Sudanese singer Ajak Kwai (held at the Fitzroy Community Kitchen). Photo: James Henry Photography

“MAV gravitates towards innovative ideas and artistic pursuits,” he says,“The other side of [Emerge 2017] is to create amazing art, for us it’s about finding artists within [the Yarra] who represent all groups… to come together and collaborate and try ideas out and connect with where they live now.”

Emerge 2017 is also pushing the boundaries of the mainstream music scene by challenging expectations of many mainstream musicians who are of the notion that multicultural arts and music can’t be separated from the traditional.

“From the music perspective, I’m very interested in the idea that multiculturalism includes more than just a traditional view of art or view of music. It can sometimes be engaged with traditional instruments, but that could be offset with electronics or contemporary music collaboration… And that is where you’ll find the most popular music of today,” said Joel.

With a philosophy of celebrating the positive contributions of newly arrived refugee groups, and embracing diverse art and music in the Yarra community, Emerge 2017 is definitely something we can get behind.

In its 13th year and thriving with strong connections to community leaders and cultural groups, Emerge 2017 is only expected to continue to cultivate its invaluable contribution to the community.

The submission deadline is 5 pm Friday the 5th of May, with all submissions going to Freja Macfarlane at freyja.macfarlane@multiculturalarts.com.au

Faces of Yarra

Leidy Ballesteros, Richmond

“I came to Melbourne to study English, at the moment I am doing a Diploma of Business. I live in Richmond, close to Jolimont station. It is the perfect area with all its parks, cafes, restaurants and really good pubs. Working in hospitality for 2 years, here, gave me the chance to learn about the diversity of food in Australia; Richmond is a perfect example of it. I feel like Melbourne is my second home.”

Photograph: Alexandra Gorbunova