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Terrified by two recent home invasions, a Hampton Park woman says she is now being unfairly hounded by Centrelink.
Noelene Nolan, 42, was assaulted by groups of youths as they ransacked her Somerville Road home on 26 April and 31 July.
On the first occasion, she investigated noises at her front door. She remembers a man grabbing her by the neck and shoving her against a wall.
The intruders rummaged through a wardrobe, grabbed medications and unbolted a safe with her engagement ring, passport and – worst of all – wedding photos of Ms Nolan’s late parents.
In vain, Ms Nolan posted on Facebook for the thieves to at least return the photos in her letterbox.
“They got what they wanted.
“It went for probably five or seven minutes but it felt like hours.”
Ms Nolan was left more than bruised by the assault. She recalls one of the youths wondered what it would be like to “rape a white girl”.
The group repeatedly asked for “Money, money, phone, phone”.
“There was no way I was giving up my phone,” Ms Nolan said.
The offenders – tall, male and some perhaps of African appearance – are still apparently at large.
On 31 July, she returned home at night and was shoved to the ground off the front step by a fleeing group of burglars who stole her medication. Police told her she was just unlucky.
“You’re just healing and it puts you back again,” she says.
It’s been a horrible year including the death of her beloved toy poodle in March. She had also been caring for her mother, who died from ovarian cancer in September.
The shooting of two males at the nearby Hampton Park Tavern car park on 22 November gives Ms Nolan further angst.
Being a victim of crime “shocks your whole foundations,” Ms Nolan says.
She used to be confident, dealing with all manner of public miscreants when she worked for Metro Trains. Now she’s suspicious.
“You feel you’re not safe in your home. I get neighbours to check there’s no-one in there.”
Ms Nolan often stays at her late mother’s Dandenong North address, too terrified to stay overnight in Hampton Park without the company of friends.
She is seeking to replicate her mum’s high-tech security cameras, with a red emergency button to instantly summon police.
Riddled with painful back fractures and knee and foot ailments, Ms Nolan uses a walker to get herself around.
She suffers a lack of co-ordination and balance, making her prone to falling.
Last year, she unsuccessfully applied for a Disability Support Pension – though she receives Commonwealth SWEP funding for disability upgrades such as shower railings in her home.
Centrelink is demanding that she applies for 15 hours of office, retail or call-centre work a week, as far away as Broadmeadows.
This is despite a Monash Health orthopaedic expert’s opinion that she shouldn’t sit down for more than 10 minutes. A 15-minute drive even makes her feel like the “Tinman in Wizard of Oz”.
“It’s disgraceful, absolutely,” a distraught Ms Nolan said.
“They told me they’re not accepting any more medical documents from me. You’re wasting your time.
“But what sort of job can I do?”
A Department of Human Services spokeswoman said the department would get in touch with Ms Nolan to “ensure they are appropriately supported”.
“A person can also lodge a new claim for (a disability support pension) if their circumstances change.
“If a condition deteriorates, or someone has new medical evidence, they should provide that information to the Department so we can assess the most suitable support for their circumstances.”
According to the department, conditions have to be “ fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised” with “no significant functional improvement within the next two years”.
Major Collision Investigation Unit detectives have charged a 26-year-old man following a double fatality outside the Lighthouse Christian College in Cranbourne West on 9 August.
The Devon Meadows man is facing seven charges – two counts of culpable driving causing death, two counts of dangerous driving causing death, disqualified driving, exceeding the prescribed alcohol limit and driving under the influence.
The charges relate to the deaths of a 44-year-old woman and 14-year-old girl, both from Lynbrook, who were killed in a collision on the South Gippsland Highway, after attending parent-teacher interviews.
He was bailed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
Pakenham’s most congested arterial road has been promised a facelift under a Liberal Nationals Government in 2018.
The Racecourse Road and Bald Hill Road intersection has been declared one of the worst of 55 in Victoria by Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.
Visiting the site on Tuesday 21 November, the Shadow Minister for Roads and Infrastructure David Hodgett revealed that a grade separation was the likely solution to counteract the local volume of traffic.
“Pakenham has been neglected for far too long while Daniel Andrews has allowed traffic congestion,” Mr Hodgett said.
“Residents are the eyes and the ears of the community and we will do everything we can to accommodate their needs.”
Announcing what he describes as “the biggest traffic congestion project in Victoria’s history”, Mr Guy’s Get Victoria Moving initiative targets a number of the state’s problematic arterial roads.
“A Liberal Nationals Government will commit between $4.1 billion to $5.3 billion to removing traffic lights and roundabouts through grade separations at 55 of Melbourne and Geelong’s most congested intersections on our busiest arterial roads,” he said.
“My project continues the work of the level crossing removal program to eliminate congestion hotspots across Melbourne and Geelong.
“Everyone agrees level crossing removals will help free-up traffic congestion, but it’s only part of the solution.
“The other part of the solution is to remove some of the worst congested traffic light intersections and major roundabouts by grade separating them.”
While local residents and business owners have welcomed the proposal after years of tackling the problematic road, many think there are more pressing issues that need to be addressed on Racecourse Road.
Melbourne Rotomould, a local plastic rotational moulding manufacturer operating out of Pakenham, said it was suffering due to a combination of the road conditions and the poor train signalling at Pakenham Station.
“The roads are a massive problem for business and for the past nine years we’ve had to push back trucks earlier and earlier in order to get through the traffic to jobs on time,” business co-director Tim Leeds said.
“We have a commitment to customers to have trucks arrive at the right place and the right time and it’s nearly impossible to be efficient with the conditions of this intersection.
“But the train signalling at Pakenham Station is probably a bigger issue. The signals get triggered as soon as the train leaves Cardinia station, meaning the gates are coming down before the train has even reached the platform.
“You can be waiting anywhere from 7-10 minutes, I’ve timed it. It’s ridiculous and easily fixable.”
Pakenham resident and mother Mikayla Kennett has also been petitioning for pedestrian crossings for several months.
“Racecourse Road only has one suitable pedestrian crossing which is located near the milk bar on the corner of Racecourse Road and Cameron Way,” Ms Kennett said.
“Although this crossing is suitable for pedestrian use, it is not suitable for the use of young families and needs to be upgraded to a more appropriate and safe crossing.
“The crossing itself is nothing more than a small road island for pedestrians to stand or wait at, in the centre of the busy traffic travelling at 60kilometres per hour on either side.”
Liberal Bass MP Brian Paynter said the proposal is “a great result for the community in Pakenham”, but agrees that the entire stretch of Racecourse Road needs to be upgraded.
“Time is money for motorists and surrounding businesses.
“When I first moved to Pakenham as a kid the estate behind Racecourse Road was one of the original estates to be built, yet the road hasn’t changed in all those years.
“I will be pushing for upgrades to happen on both ends of Racecourse Road, including pedestrian crossings.”
Traffic congestion costs the Australian economy about $5.54 billion a year, with 77 per cent of Cardinia residents taking a car to work every day according to recent census data.
Matthew Guy’s major infrastructure project is also estimated to create about 5000 new jobs in addition to indirect jobs.
Key design considerations will include road safety, efficient movement of traffic and aesthetics.
Funding for the project will be come from the Victorian Government, the Federal Government and the proceeds of the sale of the Victorian share of the Snowy Hydro Scheme.
Police are investigating whether a medical condition was behind an Endeavour Hills collision that flipped one car onto its roof.
Casey Highway Patrol and CFA crews were called to Power Road about 7.20pm on Monday 13 November.
Leading Senior Constable John Diamond said a Honda Odyssey station wagon was travelling south and allegedly crossed the dividing line.
Heading in the other direction was a black Volkswagen.
“The driver noticed the oncoming vehicle travelling towards her onto the wrong side of the road,” Ldg Sen Const Diamond said.
“She has sounded her horn to warn the driver and pretty much immediately took evasive action and steered to the left to avoid a collision.”
He said it appeared the Honda struck the Volkswagen’s rear driver’s side tyre, causing its driver to lose control.
The vehicle rolled over near Kennington Park Drive.
“We’re investigating whether there was a medical condition that caused the car to cross onto the other side of the road,” Ldg Sen Const Diamond said.
The driver received minor injuries and her male passenger was not injured.
An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said paramedics treated a man in his 70s at the scene for a minor chest injury and took him to Dandenong Hospital in a stable condition.
A CFA spokeswoman said eight trucks attended the scene.
It was originally reported to emergency services that there was a car on fire but crews quickly determined that was not the case.