Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Editor January 19, 2017


Dear Editor,

I’ve been a Shepparton girl all my life, and I’m greatly saddened to have witnessed the decline of the Maude Street Mall over the last few decades. I’ve also seen the way in which a lot of assumptions have been made around the new concepts.

Pop-up Picnic Area: Not aimed at people who want to pack a picnic and have a day-out. Instead encourages people to pick up a bite to eat on Fryers Street and come to the mall to sit/eat. The grassed area near Maddison’s hasn’t been appropriately designed as a picnic space.

Pop-up Veggie Patch: A temporary veggie patch set up in the mall a couple of years back. It budgeted to allow for vandalism. Budget wasn’t needed. The patch was respected. There is no guarantee plants wouldn’t be ripped out this time around, but have a little more faith in people.

Pop-up Food Kiosks: These would be low rent, short lease options for local people who want a low risk, low cost way to incubate their small business. Unfortunately the empty shops in the mall have ridiculously high rent and inflexible leases. Question; what can landlords do to help?

Open-air Art Gallery: This would be an accessible art space, available to local artists, visual arts students and cultural groups, to share their work in a public space. This would only complement SAM and continue to build Shepparton’s art culture.

Idea of supermarket in CBD: Only metres from the mall, Coles on Vaughan Street. Coles paid parking is always full, free parking often more than half empty. Paid parking not main issue. Where would we put a supermarket in mall? There is not room.

Parking: A few years back there was a three week trial of free parking on Fryers Street. No increase in sales occurred.

Mall failures: Malls have failed because they have the same issues as our mall. They lacked diversity. Church Street in Brighton is vibrant because it is diverse, not because it has a road and parking. Look at Chapel Street in South Yarra; has road and parking, used to be the mecca of shopping. Not anymore. Why? Because just like our mall, the majority of shops are clothes shops. It lacks diversity.

The Shepparton CBD severely lacks a vibrant public open space so let’s create one. Let’s ditch all the negative thinking about the mall, and focus on the positive. Let’s ditch the old fashioned answers, which aren’t relevant in an age where we need sustainable and innovative solutions. Let’s think positive, think outside the box and try something new. Nowhere else in country Victoria are they doing anything like this, because (let’s be honest) country communities can be a little afraid of change in their own backyard. Our mall would become a drawcard for people from right across country Victoria. And if we don’t do this now, another regional centre will beat us to it. This could be a new identity for Shepparton and a fresh start for our CBD.

The concepts put forward are only $350,000. A tiny amount when you look at civil works costs. Even with ongoing running costs, it would still take this concept a lifetime to cost as much as civil works. The ideas put forward are flexible, low risk and can be rolled out next year! It doesn’t involve the removal or demolition of any existing infrastructure, doesn’t involve the costly job of relocating services (water main etc.), and doesn’t rule out exploring other options in the future. It also considers how we can begin to represent and include the whole Shepparton community, in all its beautiful diversity. Can’t the Maude Street Mall be more than just another road?

With upgrades to the mall’s amenities block set to kick off this year, and additional parking coming with the Maude Street Bus Interchange redevelopment, what have we got to lose by giving these ideas a shot in our mall?

Get on the council website, read the details and do the online survey. Have your say. Otherwise we run the risk of suffering from the ‘squeaky wheel syndrome’, which only hinders positive progress.

Yours sincerely,

Melissa Stagg





Dear Editor,

Parks Victoria has set up a Board of Management Scheme where by Aboriginal communities assume control of vast areas of National Parks in Victoria. This board known as the “Traditional Owner Land Management Board” has been set up in Barmah Forest to give control of the forest to the local Yorta Yorta. In other words Yortas have control over what happens in Barmah Forest or the national park. Is this move because Parks Victoria finds it impossible to maintain the park, as its quality has reduced since Parks took over?

“Slap bang” in the middle of the park is the Barmah Muster Yards, which is heritage listed and has been operated for 150 years by farmers to serve the communities in the area and now Parks Victoria want to hand over the running of these yards to Yorta Yorta. The Barmah cattlemen have been running muster events there very successfully over the past nine years since Parks Victoria prevented them from putting cattle in the bush in 2007. It now looks as if the Barmah Muster will fade into history as did the Dharnya Centre did when the Yortas. They do not have an interest in horses. They do not have interest in team penning. They do not have an interest in wood chopping. They do not have an interest in camp oven cooking. They do not have any interest in maintaining the yards.

So why do you think they want control over it so badly?

Now on the Parks Victoria website, it states that the board has been set up to enable Aboriginal communities to have control of these areas for cultural reasons. The criteria for the Aboriginal community include that they have to have native title to the lands which Yorta Yorta do not. Three months ago in the state parliament, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Natalie Hutchins announced under pressure from The Nationals Deputy Leader, Steph Ryan from Euroa that the Bangerang Aboriginal community are the traditional owners of the lands claimed by Yorta Yorta!

Yorta Yorta have the Reconciliation Action Plan (R.A.P) status but they do not have entitlement to the land as per the High Court of Australia. Then why has control been given to them by Parks Victoria? Because the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, a group of Aboriginals will not recognise the Bangerang as the traditional owners yet the Victorian Labor Party does. That heritage council is heavily stacked with Aboriginals sympathetic to the Yortas’ power base. It will now be interesting to see what happens to the muster yards if the cattlemen get thrown out by Yortas and Parks Victoria. We are all mindful that the Yortas did not have an ongoing association with the lands in their claim for land rights through their application to the High Court of Australia.

The only answer to this is that the community friendly Bangerang go for native title so their rights are assured and the community can breathe a sigh of relief.

Yours sincerely,

Max Schier