The Magpies’ win sets up a grand final against the Lake Cathie Raiders this Saturday.
The Tigers’ playmaker injured himself in the warm up forcing a reshuffle in the backline but more importantly Comboyne lost a vital cog in their attacking armoury.
The Lower Macleay Magpies took full advantage of a disjointed Tigers attack but not before the Tigers took a 6-0 lead on 20 minutes through a Thomas Latimore try and Shawn Madeley conversion.
The Magpies hit back when halfback Sam Drew found Luke Dufty with a great inside pass before the centre dived over the tryline. Despite missing the conversion, the Magpies were down 6-4 but looking the more composed side.
Comboyne did themselves no favours with too many errors early in the tackle count and poor sixth tackle options.
Magpies hooker Zac McKiernan exploited a yawning gap in the Tigers defence to grab the lead for his side and when Dufty converted from in front the Magpies went to the break 10-6 leaders.
Lower Macleay posted two tries in the opening 11 minutes of the second half through a great solo effort from five-eighth Joel McCafferty and centre Tom Stevenson to stretch their lead to 18-6 after Dufty booted one of the conversion attempts.
An angled run from Comboyne’s Thomas Latimore caught the Magpies defence flat-footed close to the line to bring his side back into the contest. The Tigers forward improved his position to give goalkicker Madeley and easier conversion. That left the score at 18-12 and the Tigers were, somehow, back into the contest.
But the comeback was short-lived. The Magpies peppered the Comboyne defence with a couple of stirring runs before Dufty wrongfooted a couple of Tigers defenders to score under the posts. The centre landed the conversion to stretch the Magpies’ lead to 24-12.
With the clock winding down, Paio scored off the back of a strong charge from Bevan Castles and with the conversion attempt waved away, the Magpies were 24-16 winners and through to Saturday’s grand final.
The Magpies were best served by McCafferty and McKiernan while the Tigers’ best included winger Lee O’Brien, lock Ben Wadwell and Blake Reis.
Tigers down: Sam Hensley and Luke Dufty … battle it out in the Hastings League finals last Saturday.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.
On the beat: The police band entertains a crowd at Box Hill. The Victoria Police band continues to wow audiences. Picture: Darrian Traynor
They’re police, but their mission is music and making people feel good, writes Loretta Hall.
It can be a glamorous life fronting a showband, but this is not one of those days.
The band’s equipment truck, emptied of trunks of brass instruments and sound gear, doubles as a hasty change room for Elise Beattie as she transforms from “worker ant” roadie to lead singer in a shopping mall in Melbourne’s east.
Long loose hair is secured in a no-nonsense plait, and casual clothing discarded for navy trousers, sensible flat black shoes and a crisp light-blue shirt with an epaulette and stripe on each shoulder.
Only the showbiz shades remain from her civilian guise as Beattie prepares to front the Victoria Police Showband with co-senior constable Daina Jowsey under the midday sun for the mostly unsuspecting shoppers and commuters.
Music director (and prominent Melbourne musician) Daryl McKenzie is absent, so Beattie and Jowsey consult over a whiteboard song list and a takeaway coffee while fellow band members set up 500 leads and an array of instruments for the gig.
They choose songs from hundreds of the band’s own arrangements, mixing swing with jazz, classical, musical theatre, rock and pop. Beattie is down for Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, Jowsey is opening with Dancing in the Street.
Some of the tracks they performed for the Showband’s Divas CD, sales of which aid the police force’s Blue Ribbon Foundation community program.
There are a few curious glances from passers-by as Beattie sets up the microphones. But once she re-emerges from the back of the truck an audience begins to gather and several shoppers question the diminutive but authoritative figure at the microphone stand.
“As soon as you are in uniform there’s a certain level of interest; people come up and ask what you are doing,” Beattie says. “We explain to them that what we are doing is a full-time job.”
When the police band originated 120 years ago it was formed by those on the beat who volunteered to play an instrument part-time. It became a full-time occupation in 1980s, when professional musicians were sworn in as police members
The Showband plays across Melbourne and regional Victoria in the community and schools and the public can check the police website for the showband’s calendar for a performance in their neighbourhood.
More glitzy gigs include charity nights, when Beattie frocks up out of uniform to perform at venues that have included Crown’s Palladium room, Hamer Hall and Melbourne’s World Congress Centre.
Beattie, 46, has been on patrol with the showband around Victoria for the past 11 years and previously sang with the Victoria Police’s rock band, Code One, for six years. Her role in the police force was recognised with a national award for “rockin’ it” in January.
She wears the stripe of a senior constable, “and we have full police powers of arrest”, but, as with the rest of the 24 showband members, isn’t operational as a police officer.
Band leader Sergeant Pat Hudson, who has in the past been in the back-row line-up on trombone, watches from beyond the police-taped stage edge as the party gets started.
Music spills into the mall and an audience builds. Most of the smoking section – a half-brick wall outside the supermarket – is full. Hudson says that at the height of the set about 200 people are toe-tapping to the tunes.
The youth that the showband is reaching out to largely respond to the offer of musical friendship, with most unplugging at least one earphone to catch a Lady Gaga or Beyoncé song.
An older fan, Robert Fraser, 59, dances through all three sets, oblivious to the fact he is mostly dancing solo on the pavement. A middle-aged woman kicks off her heels, dumps her handbag under the watchful gaze of the band’s brass section and joins him for a track. Towards the end of the last set a trio of teens lose their inhibitions and let their lanky limbs loose.
Collectively, the three bands perform about 500 gigs annually, and Hudson says these reach about 650,000 Victorians a year. In times of hardship and disaster, the Showband is dispatched to communities where an uplifting tune can bring some cheer or relief in tough times.
“When there were floods in country Victoria a year ago we had a week tour in those regions, and we based ourselves in Horsham. We were bussed out to country towns I had never heard of where all 50 people in the town came to see us. When we do a show for them it’s the only thing that has made them smile in a long time.”
Beattie says the performances are not all about the music, as she spends a lot of time talking to locals.
In addition to Cats, Beattie took lead roles in her school’s Gilbert and Sullivan productions before studying voice at Melba Conservatorium and primary teaching in music at Victoria College. She gained professional experience with Dame Joan Sutherland in Othello for the Australian Opera (now Opera Australia) and with the Wiggles in front of a crowd of 80,000.
“I still have singing lessons because it is important that our music is as high a standard as it can be,” Beattie says. “Being with the band involves a regimented lifestyle, especially for the singers to stay fit and healthy. In a 10-day fortnight we get four days off, and those 10 days can be at any time.
“We spend many hours travelling … being on tour with the band on the bus is like being in a sitcom. There are some incredibly funny personalities.”
HUME Council has sought to allay Aitken College fears over a Growth Areas Authority (GAA) plan to build a public road that would intersect the school in Greenvale.
The school site, which faces Mickleham Road, is included in the GAA Greenvale Central Precinct Structure Plan (PSP), which was released this month.
Council’s city sustainability director, Kelvin Walsh, said last week: “It is council’s understanding the Minister for Planning [Matthew Guy] has directed that the GAA not propose a road extending through the school site – and there is currently no proposal to construct a road through the school”.
He said the decision for a road connection was at the discretion of the school.
His comments followed on college principal Josie Crisara urging parents to voice their concerns at the road plan.
Ms Crisara said the plan showed a road connection along the southern boundary of the school, running up to the northern boundary.
She said the road would pose a safety risk to students and impact on the school’s sustainability projects, including its wetlands.
She urged parents to fill out a submission objecting to the proposal, to be sent to the GAA.
“There have been suggestions that a public road could be built to cut through the school or provide an alternative access other than using Mickleham Road,” Ms Crisara said.
“Both of these propositions are unacceptable to the college. A road access point to the south or north of the college would only create more congestion and would be a costly exercise in the order of millions of dollars, which the college would most likely need to fund.”
The school site has also been labelled a ‘future urban area’ by the GAA.
Ms Crisara said this was unacceptable. The school, which opened in 1999, has 1260 students from prep to year 12.
Janelle Judge, whose son is in year8 at the college, said she would be putting in a submission to the GAA.
”It’s a prep-to-year 12 school so I was concerned about the students crossing that potential road,” she said.
“The safety of the children would be at risk.”
GAA chief executive Peter Seamer said there were no immediate plans to build a road through the school, but he added that it was a possibility.
“While the PSP shows a potential future connection, as requested by Hume City Council, the PSP is neutral on whether there should be a road connection through that site and quite certainly it does not require this [connection],” he said.
But the council said the concept of a road connection arose from recommendations of the GAA’s own traffic report.
Late last week, Mr Guy’s spokesman said: “The minister has no intention of directing the location of local roads; this is a matter that should be sensibly sorted out between the GAA and the Hume Council.”
ROWVILLE cannot afford to wait another 10 years for a rail link to be built, Eastern Transport Coalition chairwoman Samantha Dunn says.
She lashed out after the state government last Friday released its feasibility report into a possible Rowville rail link, the results of which have put any project on hold for another decade.
The draft stage 1 report by engineers Sinclair Knight Merz states that while the best solution was to provide frequent train services between Rowville and the city, it would not prove possible until at least 2020.
But Cr Dunn said delaying the project would “exacerbate costs, road congestion and land use issues”.
“This project has been shoved into the too hard basket for four decades by successive state governments who claim that it is either too hard or too expensive,” she said.
The independent reports stated the Dandenong line would need to be upgraded between Huntingdale and Caulfield before work on the Rowville line could begin. There would need to be extra track capacity and grade separation of level crossings on existing lines, and rail capacity would need to be increased in central Melbourne.
The report stated Rowville station would be best located underground just north of Stud Park shopping centre, where the area could be redeveloped to provide a bus interchange and station parking.
The report showed more than 80 per cent of journeys to work beginning in the Rowville rail link area in 2006 were by car, and only 10 per cent by public transport.
“For those living at the Rowville end, buses simply cannot adequately meet the community’s public transport needs, nor is it a viable option for many commuters as buses use the increasingly congested road network,” Cr Dunn said.
Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said that by 2046, it was predicted the Rowville line would have about 68,000 passengers a day.
Comments are being sought on the draft report until April 27 and can be made in writing via [email protected]南京夜网.au or online at rowvillerailstudy南京夜网.au.
There will also be public forums at Rowville Secondary College next Monday, and at Monash University on Thursday next week.
The final report will be submitted to the government by mid-year.
Knox Tavern Cup: Upwey Tecoma 3-185 (Spence 65no, Taylor 44, Mulcahy 51) d FTG Footballers 183 (Brittain 55, Rawlings 45, Waters 3-28, Taylor 3-46), Eildon Park 5-98 (C Morris 42no) d Johnson Park 95 (Pimm 4-18, A Devenish 39).
Decoite Shield: Lysterfield 3-98 (Hill 37) d Rowville 81 (Chivers 5-40, Snyman 4-24), Knox Gardens 2-147 (Prowse 70no, W McInerney 56no) d Mountain Gate 94 (Mulder 3-34, Adams 3-24).
Grand finalists: Upwey Tecoma needs a big performance from bowlers like Sam Waters in the Knox Tavern Cup grand final. Picture: Wayne HawkinsFIRSTLY, Upwey Tecoma and Eildon Park will decide whose going to be the underdog; then the two sides will do battle for the Knox Tavern Cup starting this weekend.
The Tigers and Panthers won their semi-finals over Ferntree Gully Footballers and Johnson Park respectively on Sunday to book their match-up in the Ferntree Gully District Cricket Association’s season decider.
Panthers’ captain Cam Cosstick said the reigning premiers considered themselves underdogs after some patchy play this season.
The Tigers were minor premiers and feature several exceptional players including former Premier Cricketers Matt Mulcahy (captain) and Sam Taylor.
“I’m looking forward to another grand final, two years as captain and we have a chance to go back to back, but in saying that, we go in as the underdog,” Cosstick said.
But Mulcahy has countered his opposite number, stating the Tigers, who haven’t won the top-grade premiership since 2002-03, would start as underdogs.
“I’m not so sure they are underdogs,” Mulcahy said. “They’ve got last year’s premiership under their belts whereas we lost the grand final two years ago and lost a close semi-final last year.”
The Tigers are also excited to have their first three sides all in grand finals this weekend.
“As club coach I’m pumped for all of them,” Mulcahy said. “After the firsts won our semi on Sunday we went over and watched the end of the thirds match. Everyone at the club is excited, in the back of our minds we would love to win all three and get some silverware for the club.”
The Tigers scored a seven-wicket win over Footballers on Sunday to make the grand final but Mulcahy stopped well short of calling the win “easy” as his side allowed Footballers to make late runs which could have proven costly. Chris Brittain (55) and Ben Rawlings (45) made key runs for Footballers.
“We were disappointed because we missed one opportunity when they were 8-120,” he said. “In our chase we had two very good partnerships, that’s something we were really happy about.”
Tigers opener Darren Spence (65 not out) was the pillar of his side’s chase and Mulcahy (51) and Taylor (44) were good contributors.
Mulcahy’s brilliant stumping down the legside to dismiss young Luke McComb was the highlight of day one.
In the other semi-final, Johnson Park could only muster 95 on day one having been restricted by some tight bowling by Steve Pimm 4-18.
Only skipper Andrew Devenish placed a high price on his wicket occupying the crease for some time reaching a patient 39. By stumps on day one, the Panthers were well placed at 1-28.
The Sharks bowling line-up fought back on Sunday and suddenly Eildon Park slumped to 5-49 with opener Cody Morris still at the wicket. Morris (42 not out) was joined by Nathan Hicks (24 not out) to overtake the target without further loss.
Cosstick said Morris had shown his class while the Panthers bowlers were exceptional.
“Our bowlers lead to way and deserve the credit,” he said. “When we batted their bowlers made it tough to score all day and they just continued to build pressure. Cody again showed his class to get us over the line.”
In DeCoite Shield, Knox Gardens will host Lysterfield for the premiership and promotion to the Knox Tavern Cup next season.
The Beavers knocked over the in form Rowville for just 81, thanks to Tim Chivers (5-40), and cruised to victory.
Mt Gate had no answer to Daniel Adams and Travis Mulder and was dismissed for just 94. In reply, the Falcons reached 2-147 before Mt Gate conceded victory.
Former St Kilda batsman David Prowse (70 not out) and Wayne McInerney (56 not out) dominated for the Falcons.
Both grand finals will stretch over this Saturday and Sunday and the following weekend.
For full scores click on Scoreboard link at upper right.
London bound: Jeff Riseley trains for the London Olympics at Central Reserve in Glen Waverley last week. Picture: Wayne HawkinsFOR a man with a guaranteed spot at the London Olympics, runner Jeff Riseley isn’t taking anything for granted.
The 25-year-old former Narre Warren South resident and now of Harkaway, is still working to earn a place in his favoured event, the men’s 1500metres, after he earned automatic selection in the men’s 800m at the selection trials in Melbourne earlier this month.
While Riseley has run the qualifying time in the 1500m, he lost in the selection trial race and continues to battle with rivals like Ryan Gregson, victor in the trials, to win the trust of national selectors, who can pick up to three runners for the event.
But there is another, more personal reason why Riseley wants his opportunity in the 1500m. “My whole family is booked and ready to go for London and they have 1500m tickets for the heats, semis and final but not for the 800m,” Riseley says.
Riseley was officially named in the Olympic squad for the 800m last week but no 1500m men’s runners were named. Gregson has yet to record a qualifying time due to injury.
Running never seemed like an elite pursuit for Riseley despite doing Little Athletics, at least until he joined Knox Athletics and fell under the tutelage of respected coach Richard Huggins.
“I was a late bloomer,” Riseley says. “A teacher of mine at Mazenod College encouraged me to join Knox and everything grew from there. I really enjoyed running and the older I got, the more that was required and I’ve just kept going.”
In 2008, Riseley went on to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. But as a 21yearold at his first Olympics, Riseley must have walked under the five-ringed ladder because he endured what he calls a “nightmare games”.
“It was great to make the team but I got sick in training camp before the Olympics and ended up getting quarantined,” he said.
As an older, more skilled runner, Riseley has put together some impressive wins in the past two years, especially last year, when he bested Gregson and several leading African runners.
But question marks still hang over whether he can win on international soil, something he has only rarely done.
Riseley said he would arrive in London determined to do his best and “compete well”, whatever the outcome.
The intense competition between 1500m runners, especially in Australia and New Zealand, keeps everyone on their toes.
While that high competition level may cause Riseley to miss out on the 1500m, he believes the level of competition only makes him stronger.
“If anything it’s good because you don’t slack off. We’ve had a few good battles lately. Last year, I had wood over him [Gregson]; this year he won in Melbourne. We are very, very evenly matched athletes and it’s something Australia hasn’t had for a long while.
“It’s good for sport. We might both go but in the end it doesn’t change anything because there will still be three Kenyans, three Spanish, three Ethiopians etc and someone will have to win.”
KNOX Raiders men have basically the same names as last year but want a completely different outcome to the 2012 South East Australian Basketball League season.
The Raiders will again be led by star imports CJ Massingale and Lester Strong and high-scoring guard Michael Hill, point guard Liam Carroll and forward John Philip will be called on once more to help their side to the title.
After finals disappointments in the past two seasons, the Raiders want to take the next step and believe the cohesion and stability of their side could help them beat other talented sides this season.
But they have lost two key players from last season with forward-centre Cam Rigby and guard Alex Vanrenen leaving the club after playing key minutes last season.
The Raiders will look to younger players to fill their roles, with Justin Aver likely to take Vanrenen’s minutes while Liam Carroll, Dylan Hare and Simon Grant could all see more time in place of Rigby.
A major advantage for the Raiders is they won’t be waiting on NBL players to join their side, so having a full team from round one could earn them vital early season wins.
The club is also slated to move into the new State Basketball Centre in Wantirna South during late autumn but will play its early games at Knox Stadium.
The Knox Raiders women’s team will be a much-changed side following the departure of several leading players from last year’s grand final team which lost to Dandenong.
Sarah Parsons, Sarah Graham, Danni Bone, Sam Woosnam, Julia Tan and Billie Lucas have moved on, although Bendigo WNBL guard Kelly Wilson has joined the team giving it another prominent on-ball defender and outside shooter.
Former Kilsyth women’s coach Cheryl Chambers has signed on with the Raiders and will have younger side at her disposal.
Sam Donald, Shanae Greaves, Cassie Smith, Emily Fryters, Odette Andrew and import star Amy Denson remain a highly competitive roster and how Donald, Greaves and Smith handle increased responsibility will dictate how far the Raiders go in 2012.
The SEABL season begins this Saturday night with both Raiders sides hosting their Dandenong counterparts at Knox Stadium. The women’s game begins at 6pm and the men’s game at 8pm.
Bowls of fun: Alistair Smith at the Bayswater Bowls Club with a copy of The Eighth Day. Picture: Sam StiglecAS a travel writer, Bayswater’s Alistair Smith has had the kind of international experiences many people can only dream about.
Those stories have helped shape the 69-year-old’s first foray into fiction, in the form of a novel titled The Eighth Day.
The award-winning former journalist’s debut book crosses international lines with scenes set in the ancient exotic Silk Road cities, as well as Istanbul and Melbourne.
It focuses on the central characters of Mack McDonald, a former Special Ops soldier, and Sally Chong, as they become key figures in the race to thwart a planned coup. Behind the scenes, a spymaster and the leader of a secret society are pulling the strings.
Smith was a reporter in the 1960s for the Sun and The Herald. He then tried his hand at other careers, including public relations, before falling into a career in travel writing.
Smith originally set out to write a non-fiction travel book about China in time for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but couldn’t meet the time constraints.
Instead of wasting the extensive research he had carried out, he turned the story into a novel – “I didn’t want to let all the information go”.
Smith said writing a novel was an “incredibly different” experience so he sought out professional advice after writing a couple of chapters.
Once he got the go-ahead from those critics, he spent the next two years on his “labour of love”, writing the 90,000 words on 365 pages.
But it wasn’t all work for Smith and he still allowed himself to indulge his passion for lawn bowls.
The grandfather of four, who helped start up the Bayswater Bowls Club more than 25 years ago, said everyone at the club was “very excited” to read the thriller.
And with years of travel stories under his belt, Smith is certain he’s still got another novel in him.
The Eighth Day is available at the Booked Up bookshop at Knox City shopping centre.
Tasting time: Kate Henderson can now enjoy the full taste of a sweet, juicy watermelon. Picture: Lucy Di PaoloAS Boronia’s Kate Henderson underwent treatment for breast cancer last year, she went from loving fresh fruit and vegetables to a constant craving for pastries.
It was one of the unexpected changes she noticed during her chemotherapy.
Dietitian Anna Boltong was not surprised. After 15 years in the field, she had seen these sort of changes as many of her patients went through cancer treatment.
With the aim of improving the nutritional health of cancer patients, Ms Boltong started a research project for her PhD that looked at patients’ tastes and diets.
The collaborative study with Deakin University and the University of Melbourne is under way at the Maroondah and Box Hill hospitals and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
“If we have more detail about how tastes change during chemo, we can tailor our dietary advice and patients will have a better outcome if they’re well nourished,” Ms Boltong said.
The study involves 52 cancer patients whose taste sensitivities are tested before, during and after chemotherapy treatment.
Referred to the study by Maroondah Breast Clinic, Ms Henderson, 36, wants to do everything she can to help someone in a similar situation.
“The study made me more aware of the taste changes and my habits. Knowing them made a massive difference to maintaining my best health throughout chemo.”
Ms Boltong said an emerging trend from the study was that people liked sweet food less after treatment. “Anecdotally though, we’ve found that the regular tastes seem to go back to normal after two months.”
One surprising discovery had been that instead of losing weight during treatment, women with breast cancer put on weight.
Ms Boltong said the study was vital for cancer sufferers because food was such an important part of daily life.
“Food can be a vehicle for celebration; it’s the social aspect. People with cancer want to feel as normal as possible, and it can be distressing if they can’t eat what they used to at gatherings.”
Novel surf: E-book reader Annette Schlafrig using her Netbook to read at Rowville library. Picture: Ted KloszynskiONCE upon a time, libraries were places to hunt out an old and dusty book – but that image is quickly being replaced by e-books, free wi-fi and interactive websites.
However, as technology advances, the number of people visiting Eastern Regional Libraries branches in person is down by almost 500,000 in the past five years.
In the 2006-07 financial year there were 2.5 million physical visits to ERL branches, but in 2010-11 that dropped to just over 2 million. Website hits rose to 1.4million in 2010-11 from 478,406 hits in 2006-07.
ERL information services manager Paul Burden said this was because website redevelopments now featured e-resources and online learning for children.
E-books have been available on the ERL website since June last year and there have been 14,000 checkouts in that time.
Mr Burden said those numbers were rapidly increasing, with 2800 books checked out during February, and a spike in rentals just after Christmas last year.
Mr Burden said ERL had about 7000 electronic titles available, including e-books and audio books.
But Amazon Kindles cannot use the ERL software yet because of copyright problems with the e-book platform Overdrive. “There’s an 82-year-old lady in a retirement village who keeps asking when they’re going to be compatible because she has a Kindle she wants to use,” Mr Burden said.
Knoxfield bookworm Annette Schlafrig, 57, reads ERL e-books on her Netbook. Ms Schlafrig said the books were especially suited to older readers because they could change the font size.
“E-books have also been great for me while I’ve had a broken arm. I’ve read book after book but haven’t actually borrowed any physical books.”
Knox residents can learn how to use these new devices at a ‘technology petting zoo’ lined up at ERL branches.
Casey family violence unit. From left, Constable Jason Banfield, Sergeant David Sheppard and Constable Luke Ingram. Picture: Rob CarewHome is meant to be a haven but for some it’s a war zone. Catherine Watson meets those dealing with the mess of family violence.
Standing in front of the magistrate, some of them look sheepish, some defiant, some just plain scared. Not one looks scary. Yet they are all here because someone has been so frightened of them that they have called the police for help.
The strange thing is that the person they were hitting or threatening or abusing was almost certainly someone they loved dearly. And it almost certainly wasn’t the first time they had done it.
Welcome to the world of family violence, with all its messy contradictions. These are laid bare in the Dandenong Magistrates Court each Thursday morning as couples and families mill around waiting their turn to be called before the magistrate. On the day the Weekly visited the court, there were 80 family violence cases listed.
The numbers tell part of the story. In 2008, 489 incidents of domestic violence were recorded in Monash, either through the courts, police or hospitals. Up to 70 per cent of family violence goes unreported, however. Studies show that on average women put up with six incidents of physical violence before they report it.
Ringwood’s Pamela McConchie kept the violence in her home a secret for a long time, and never reported it to the police. At home, her partner would punch, kick and shove her, but he also cut her off from her support network.
“I couldn’t see friends as much as I wanted to, one because he would meet them and two because I never knew how he was going to react when we were there. He was just nasty and snide,’’ she says.
“I have the best lot of family and friends anyone could ever hope for. The shame of being in something like that is it didn’t allow me to tell them. I was living a lie in this relationship for 13 years.”
Finally leaving the relationship in 2009, Ms McConchie still doesn’t discuss it with anyone but her closest family. “There is such a stigma so it is easier not to talk about it,’’ she says.
Ms McConchie is a survivor advocate for Women’s Health East, working to ensure the issue of domestic violence comes out of the shadows. At first she was unsure about volunteering to take part in the program because she felt her story wasn’t ‘bad’ enough, but speaking out has helped her regain her confidence.
Sergeant Dave Sheppard polices domestic violence and is an ambassador for the White Ribbon campaign against violence against women. He says people worry too much about the unlikely prospect of assaults, thefts and murders.
‘‘Someone smashes your window and steals your laptop and that’s annoying. But the person you love most punches you then kicks you while you’re lying on the ground — that’s devastating.
‘‘I’ve wrestled a man off a woman. I’ve been called out to a lesbian couple where one’s got a pair of scissors sticking out of her back. I’ve got to a job where a woman’s been beaten up by her partner and when I’ve arrested him she’s jumped on me because he’s the love of her life.’’
Asked why he chose to work in this fraught area, he says that as a child he witnessed violence in his own family. ‘‘It forms part of who you are. I’m very careful in what I do in my family. It’s made me very black and white in my practice.’’
He says alcohol and drugs are a common factor in family violence, as is financial stress. When mortgage interest rates went up there was an increase. The same thing happens every time petrol prices rise. It drops over December and January but increases sharply over winter when people are stuck inside and can’t get away from one another.
‘‘As I tell my new guys, we’re never going to solve their problems. We are there to make sure the victims are safe.
‘‘If we attend three or more times we arrest them. You wouldn’t believe the number of women who breathe a sigh of relief because they’ve got a respite because he’s in jail — there’s an unbelievable change in them.’’
By the time a case gets to court the anger has subsided. The men — all but a few of the respondents are men — frequently enter the courtroom with their partners by their side. The relationship has been mended, at least for now.
Others enter alone, followed at some distance by their former partner, usually escorted by a family member or friend. The former partners’ eyes don’t meet.
You can feel the tension in the air but the ranting and raving and blows are gone. The atmosphere is calm and civilised, reinforced by magistrate Gerard Bryant’s courteous treatment of those facing court, like a bank manager addressing a customer.
Most of the respondents are being served with intervention orders that forbid them to assault or threaten a family member or members.
The beauty of the system is that they are not required to admit guilt or plead innocence; they merely undertake not to breach the order. Mr Bryant cautions each one of them that it is a court order, not a personal agreement.
He also advises them to seek help from the Men’s Referral Service. ‘‘I couldn’t count how many times men have made that call and gone to attend that service,’’ he says, ‘‘and come back almost evangelical about how it’s changed the way they treat women and children.’’
For many men, a single brush with the law is enough of a shock to change their behaviour, especially with the threat of two years’ jail and a $30,000 fine if they breach an order.
‘‘But you can’t be there 24/7. Some of them need to take responsibility for their own actions. I often ask a man who’s assaulted his wife or partner, ‘If you saw a woman walking down the street would you think it OK to punch her as hard as you could and stomp on her when she’s down?’
‘Well, why would you do that to the woman you love most in the world?’
‘‘You can see their faces fall.’’
* Men’s Referral Service, 1800 065 973 or 9428 2899. Lines are open 9am-9pm Monday to Friday.
* Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service, 1800 015 188 or 9322 3555. Call any time.
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THE final steps towards a needle exchange program in Knox are almost complete with a decision due by the end of the month.
Responses to the proposed Knox Community Health Service project in Ferntree Gully closed on January 24.
Information and consultation packs were delivered to 1500 residents. While all results from the consultation are yet to be collated, early figures show there was a 7per cent negative response.
KCHS chief executive officer Chris Potter said there were a number of different ideas in the responses, with three main areas of concern raised, including the program’s close proximity to St John the Baptist Parish Primary School, the concept of a needle exchange program, and putting money into drug services.
About 20 of the negative responses received were ‘standard response’ forms that had been pre-made against the proposed project.
Mr Potter said the packs were also delivered to 73 businesses in the area. Only five of these responses were negative.
There were also some concerns regarding incidents of hepatitis C from syringes, however Mr Potter said a needle exchange program was the “most effective harm minimisation strategy”.
He said there were similar needle exchange programs in Maroondah and Monash, where statistics for hepatitis C were lower than in Knox.
Health Department figures show that in Monash between 2008-11 there were an average of 1.2 cases of hepatitis C per 100,000 people, while in Maroondah there were 1.9 cases. In Knox, the figure was 3.3.
Mr Potter also addressed the concerns of those who did not think public money should be spent on drug addicts.
“People who use drugs are a part of the community and they need services provided just like any other person.” He said all respondents would be kept informed.