Students of St Peter’s College’s East and West Campuses have been putting their best foot forward since the launch of the Premier’s Active April initiative.
The Cranbourne East and West Campuses are among the top 20 in the state for registered participants in the month-long challenge.
Active April encourages people of all ages and fitness levels to commit to 30 minutes of physical activity a day to improve their health and wellbeing.
St Peter’s College’s East Campus health and physical education teacher Sarah Slykerman said students had embraced the initiative.
“Each day before school, at recess, lunch and after school activities have been run at both the East and West Campus to promote students being physically active together as a community,” she said.
From yoga to egg and spoon race, tennis and basketball, Ms Slykerman said there was an activity to suit all students.
After school activities included gardening, roller-skating and trampolining.
Ms Slykerman said the school was on track to surpass their record of 2000 hours of physical activity set last year.
“With plenty of activities planned for the final count down, we are sure to smash the 2017 total and set a new record and pace for being active during April at St Peter’s College.”
The Victoria Cross family is an exclusive club.
There are just four surviving Australian recipients of perhaps the world’s highest award for valour.
One of them is the charismatic Keith Payne VC, who headed a roll-call of notables at a sell-out launch of the book The Victoria Cross: Australia Remembers at Bunjil Place on 21 April.
The 420-page richly-illustrated volume honours the 100 Australian awardees, the medal and also the men’s families.
It involved travelling the world to gravesites and a hyper-secure vault containing the VC’s originating bronze lump.
The author Michael Madden of Berwick even gained rare access to the diaries of the medal’s instigator Queen Victoria.
For many of the families, the book was the first time their heroes have been described in their own words. These lofty heroes have never seemed more human.
“They are put in a situation, they had to make a decision and they act,” Mr Madden told the 800-plus audience at Bunjil’s theatre.
“Keith Payne had a long career. In some ways, he’s just a veteran, just a man like any other.
“But what he did (to earn the VC) wasn’t normal.”
As a wounded commanding officer, Mr Payne covered for his troops’ withdrawal from a heavy North Vietnamese attack during the Vietnam War in May 1969.
For three hours, he searched for injured soldiers while under fire. He found 40 of them and led them to safety through enemy territory.
“I was the company commander and it was my responsibility to look after my soldiers,” the 84-year-old told the 800-strong gathering at Bunjil.
“I wasn’t going to ask someone else to do a job I wasn’t going to do myself.”
Like many veterans, he suffered post-traumatic stress after his military service.
But as his spirits started to rise, he made himself a pledge: “If I’m going to live, I’m going to live a happy life.”
He added that one enduring problem he had were some marks that scarred his face.
“That’s only because the girls don’t kiss me – they bite me.”
Mr Payne was joined on stage by Doug Baird, the father of the late Cameron Baird VC.
He was awarded Australia’s most recent VC for his “ultimate self-sacrifice” leading multiple charges under fire as a Commando Team Commander in deep enemy territory in Afghanistan in 2013.
Cameron was killed in the endeavour, which repeatedly neutralised enemy threats and helped preserve the lives of his team members.
His parents help run a not-for-profit charity Cam’s Cause in his memory.
It has raised more than $35,000 for the welfare of Australia’s returned Commandos.
“By doing that, it allows us to carry on what we believe Cam would be doing,” Mr Baird said.
After the launch, Mr Payne, Mr Baird and Mr Madden shook hands with long lines of admirers as they signed copies of the book.
Others took the chance to handle the late Reg Rattey’s Victoria Cross, observing its unique name and date inscriptions on the back. Such medals are estimated to be worth up to $1.5 million.
It was all academic to son Rob Rattey; the medal will be never going up for sale, he told the audience.
About 130 members of VC families gathered for the launch – what is believed to be some sort of record.
One of them was 97-year-old Daphne Dunne, the widow of Albert Chowne VC, who travelled from Sydney for the event.
Another was Faye Axford, of Endeavour Hills, is a great-niece of Thomas ‘Jack’ Axford VC as well as a great-niece by marriage to the highly-decorated Albert Jacka VC.
She described the event as one that would go down in history.
“It will never be forgotten. We’ll never get something like this again.”
Mr Jacka’s great-nephew David Streatfield, of Greensborough, was interviewed for the book.
Some inaccurate accounts had been given about his illustrious ancestor’s life. It was a chance to put the record straight on the man, Mr Streatfield said.
All of the book’s proceeds will go to the critical service The Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association of Victoria.
Copies of the book are available at https://www.tpivic.com/products/our-merchandise
This year’s Yakkerboo Festival has been hailed a roaring success – despite some minor traffic snarls.
Thousands flocked to Pakenham’s Bourke Park and Main Street to partake in the 43nd annual event, which has continued to expand in recent years.
Yakkerboo committee president Michael Porter was extremely satisfied with the weekend, citing traffic control as the only issue.
He has implored the community to get involved, amid the committee’s declining size.
“As the shire grows, the festival has to keep getting bigger and better and with that comes more work,” he said.
“The biggest problem with that is that the committee keeps getting smaller.
“We struggled in manpower this year and we’re really looking for new people to spread the workload.
“Other than the car par incident, the day was very successful and we trust everyone enjoyed themselves.”
According to Mr Porter, James Street’s underground car park entry was closed when it should have remained open – creating congestion for those trying to leave.
However, festival goers have expressed overwhelming praise for the event.
“It was a great day out for the kids and one of the biggest turnouts we’ve seen so far,” Pakenham’s Sarah White said.
“Hopefully it will continue to grow in the years to come.”
Yakkerboo’s Saturday night entertainment was described as the highlight, boasting the biggest turnout of the weekend.
“The Saturday night was a huge success,” Mr Porter said.
“This year we decided to put a band on and have some food trucks and it worked.
“The park was just so full, we’ll definitely be doing that again.”
Those who are interested in joining the Yakkerboo Festival Committee can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Damien Hunter is a shadow of the man he was a year ago – and couldn’t be happier.
The Endeavour Hills 28-year-old put himself on a 12-month alcohol ban on 15 May last year and followed up with gastric sleeve surgery on 28 August.
Now he’s 70 kilograms lighter and brimming with new-found confidence.
But it’s not all about him.
The Dandenong motor mechanic is donating money he’d normally spend on alcohol to beyondblue and encouraging others to fund-raise with him.
“I had a bit of a wake-up call. A few friends committed suicide,” he said.
“I spent time seeing the after-affects with the families.
“I was in a bad place as well.”
Mr Hunter struggled with obesity throughout his life and was at 173kg.
“I used alcohol to deal with that,” he said.
“I used to drink and be the clown of the group.
“Confidence-wise I’m heaps better off.
“I’ve been out night-clubbing a few times sober.
“I can have just as much fun.
“Twelve months ago, if I wasn’t drinking I wouldn’t go anywhere.”
He’s going to have a beer come the 12-month mark.
“But the amount that I’ve achieved in the past 12 months, it’s all because I gave up drinking,” he said.
“I don’t want to go back to where I was.”
It was three months into sobriety that Mr Hunter went to a weight loss clinic and asked about surgery.
“Before I knew it I was sitting on a hospital bed waiting for the operation,” he said.
The gastric sleeve took away 80 per cent of his stomach capacity.
“You’re pretty much training yourself to eat again,” he said.
“You’ve got to be on top of your nutrition.
“You’ve got to be smart about what you eat.”
Mr Hunter said customers had asked his boss who the new worker was.
“A lot of people don’t recognise me,” he said.
“It’s the best feeling.”
He has more energy, sleeps better and doesn’t have the leg pain he was battling before dropping the weight.
“Even in the race car I have more energy,” he said.
“I get out feeling good instead of feeling like I’ve run a marathon.”
Mr Hunter has been racing cars since he was 14 years old.
He’s added beyondblue stickers to his latest car ahead of his next race, at New South Wales’ Wakefield Park Raceway.
He hopes it will provide a last-minute boost to his fund-raiser and is offering sponsorship space on the car for donations to beyondblue.
Visit give.everydayhero.com/au/raising-gold-for-quiting-alcohol or email email@example.com to get involved.
“Never let anybody say that you cannot do something.”
This was among the advice Basketball star Andrew Bogut shared with Doveton College students on Monday 23 April.
He stopped by to officially open the school’s new outdoor play space, “our big back yard”.
“If you put the time and the effort into anything…you can do anything you want,” he said.
“It doesn’t just come easy. You have to put in the time and hard work.”
Bogut’s visit coincided with news breaking that he was ending his 13-season career playing in the US in the NBA and returning to Australia to play in the NBL with the Sydney Kings.
He told the Journal that he wanted to give the kids something to aspire to.
“It’s not an area that gets a lot of positive attention,” he said.
He grew up in Eumemmerring and went to St John’s Regional College in Dandenong, and his dad went to Doveton Tech.
Bogut has friends in Hallam and Dandenong and said he still spent a lot of time in the area.
He told students to listen to their parents, teachers and principal, to do their homework and eat their vegies.
“Treat the person next to you and the person behind you the way you would want to be treated,” he said.
“If you see one of your classmates that’s a little sad or down, maybe put your arm him and ask him if he’s doing ok.”
He said his most important message for them was to enjoy being kids.
“I would give anything I could to be your age again and just have no responsibilities,” he said.
“This is the best time of your life, enjoy it.”
College benefactor the Colman Foundation funded the “big back yard”.
Founder Julius Colman organised Bogut’s visit.
“We want to show them they can achieve,” he told the Journal.
“I don’t know him. I got a number and called him out of the blue.
“He said yes.”
Mr Colman told the official opening: “Andrew is an example for you that you too can do anything that you want if you really try”.
College principal Greg McMahon said the space would allow kids to actually be kids.
“It’s a great opportunity for our little ones to have this space to run around in and get dirty,” he said.
“We’re really proud of what’s happened here.
“Seeing a local made good is just the inspiration they need.”
“Terrifying”, “dangerous” and “a disaster” – these are the words being used to describe Pakenham’s most notorious intersection.
The intersection of Main Street, McGregor Road and the Princes Highway has long been a source of controversy.
There have been 15 casualty crashes at the Princes Highway and McGregor Road intersection and three at the intersection of Main Street and McGregor Road in the past five years alone.
Garnering over 130 signatures from across Pakenham, elderly petitioner Lazso Sinclair says enough is enough.
“Accidents happen all the time as this intersection, it’s really terrifying,” Mr Sinclair said.
“It’s particularly disastrous for elderly drivers who are vision-poor and have slower reflexes.
“It’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed here.”
Fellow elderly petitioner Merv Gould says he is afraid the treacherous road, and will lengthen his trip just to avoid it.
“I am too scared to cross it, so I avoid it altogether,” Mr Gould said.
Calls to improve the intersection have the support of MP Brian Paynter, who regularly uses the road.
“VicRoads needs to come up with a solution,” Mr Paynter said.
“As a user of this intersection all the time I know how dangerous it is.
“The whole of McGregor Road needs an upgrade. If it’s not this intersection it’s the level crossing, it’s the signals on the crossing, it’s the people turning right into Roger Street coming north, it’s Henty Street needing lights, and it’s the on-off ramps.
“I am pushing for an upgrade of McGregor Road right through.”
Mr Sinclair believes that millions of dollars in rates have been paid out of his retirement village in Main Street alone.
“Many millions are paid in rates in this area – we have every right for some basic improvements,” he said.
“There’s a huge increase of pensioners coming here to live, and for us life is not a rehearsal. We pensioners pay our rates and what do we get back? Nothing.
“This should have been rectified many years ago. Lives are at risk here.”
The intersection is managed by the Cardinia Shire, and council has admitted the site is a cause for “inconvenience” and “difficulty” for motorists.
“Council completed duplication and intersection upgrade works three years ago on McGregor Road between Rogers and Main streets in Pakenham,” Council’s Infrastructure Services Manager Andrew Barr said.
“In addition, VicRoads made further improvements around the Princes Highway and McGregor Road intersection over 12 months ago.
“While the works have improved safety, access and traffic flow, this area still causes some inconvenience and difficulty for motorists.”
Mr Barr said that while the intersection does present a current challenge, the council does have plans to address it in the future.
“The Pakenham Township Strategy identifies realigning Main Street with McGregor Road at Cunningham Crescent and adding a signalised intersection as a future goal,” he said.
“Changing where vehicles enter Main Street would significantly improve traffic movements in Pakenham.
“The works would present a significant cost to council and are subject to future budget considerations.”
These improvements by VicRoads included resequencing traffic lights to improve safety for traffic turning right from McGregor Road and The Avenue and upgrading the existing pedestrian crossing to make crossing easier and safer.
“Safety is our top priority,” VicRoads Manager for Movement and Safety Sasha Yarwood said.
“Improvements to address concerns were put in place in April 2017 at the Princes Highway and McGregor Road intersection which has helped reduce the number of crashes at this intersection.
“We will continue to monitor this intersection to ensure the safety of drivers relying on this intersection every day.”