Night net

Elite schools take the country road in race to top

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IT’S an arms race with the most alluring artillery. Newborn lambs, glorious country properties and architecturally designed cabins that generate their own electricity and hot water. The target: your children. If you can afford it.
Nanjing Night Net

The yellow box timber cabins melt into the hills, a symphony of nature and design, some 500 kilometres and a hefty school fee from chilly Melbourne. The buildings fuse gently with a sloping paddock and surrounding forest as though inspired by the mythical shire in The Hobbit. Through this wonderland traipse teenagers, year 9 students from Methodist Ladies College – feeding lambs and calves, tending solar panels and doing lessons at the school’s 114-hectare Marshmead campus.

MLC is among a small battalion of the state’s elite private schools investing huge sums in their country campuses, offering ”experiential” and outdoor learning programs that run for up to a year. In a largely Victorian phenomenon, these rural campuses have become vital assets for schools seeking to remain in the state’s top tier. Each spruiks the benefits of its plush country seat and accompanying curriculum. Several have bolstered their pitch with psychological philosophies to help students cope with extended periods away from home.

And while some observers baulk at such abundance – or at least at its being available to so few of Victoria’s students – at Marshmead the real world feels like the dissolving memory of a dream. The school has recently spent $8 million on an upgrade. The campus is self-sufficient, producing its own solar power and capturing water in tanks. ”We’re essentially a little town here in the middle of nowhere,” says MLC director of remote sites Mark Gray.

It is a sunny and surprisingly warm August morning when Gray arrives to pick us up by boat at Mallacoota near the New South Wales border. From here it is another 15 minutes across the Mallacoota Inlet, which funnels into a small creek where the school has built a wooden jetty for docking. The inlet is glassy and flat as Gray powers the four-stroke-engined boat towards the campus. He skilfully nudges it into a slender berth at the jetty.

A short drive down a muddy track and suddenly it is ”Good Morning Marshmead” time. The students, all leggings and Blundstone boots, huddle inside a circle of towering wooden poles in the middle of a paddock. It feels more like a sacred tribal site.

A group of girls act out a Buddhist parable to their giggling audience, followed with a Bible reading. The students and teachers then scatter across the field for five minutes of silence or ”mindfulness”. Some crouch or stand, others sit in the wet, glistening grass. Kookaburras, chickens and cows offer the only soundtrack. Gray says the mindfulness philosophy helps students manage their busy schedules. ”It’s really about how we balance life to make it sustainable and have a healthy mind as well as a healthy body.”

The girls have left their main school, in Kew, to experience life on a farm. For eight weeks they will live in cabins with corrugated iron roofs and mud-brick interior walls. The cabins turn a rich brown in the rain, contrasting with the large solar panels mounted on metal stands in front of each house. Every household manages its solar power. The girls adjust their panels’ angle throughout the day, tracking the sun’s direction to ensure maximum exposure.

It is one of many daily duties. They mix milk formula and feed it to newborn calves. They collect eggs from the bird coop with its huge yard, protected with electric wire to keep the chickens, geese and turkeys safe from goannas.

”The farm doesn’t run at a profit, it’s here for educational purposes,” Gray says.

But it is an educational experience few high school students will share.

Monash University education senior lecturer David Zyngier says Victoria’s private schools are trying to outdo each other with their country campuses. ”It’s a race to the top of how much money you can spend,” he says. ”It’s all about market share. The elite schools create a perception among their customers that the students need the experience.”

MLC’s 2011 community report names its ”next generation $8 million capital campaign” at Marshmead as one of its achievements. The report says the school also received $200,000 in federal government funding for a renewable remote power program at Marshmead.

Zyngier says poor schools are suffering while genteel independent schools invest in their country campuses. And while the state’s public schools increasingly offer special curriculums to engage and challenge the supposedly troublesome year 9s (although Zyngier also questions this central belief), they can’t compare with offerings such as Marshmead’s. ”It’s further advantaging the elite and privileging the privileged,” he says.

Even so, it seems almost churlish to begrudge the busy enthusiastic MLC girls their once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Morning inspection. The cabins have open kitchens and lounge rooms, warmed by potbelly stoves, where the girls cook and eat their meals. Clothes dry on stands perched on mezzanine floors.

This morning Dana Stroynova (red gum boots, black tights and hair in plaits) must refold and straighten her bed sheets. The wall next to her bunk is plastered with pictures of Roger Federer and a newborn baby. Dana, 15, has spent four weeks at Marshmead, although she went home to Caulfield to meet her new sister, Maria, for four days.

Shy but articulate, Dana says she loves the farm life. ”In Melbourne we get things from the supermarket but here there’s quite a few things we can get out of a garden. It’s nice to go out and pick a potato,” she says.

MLC is one of several schools that offers as part of its curriculum the opportunity for its Victorian teenagers to have an extended period away from home in which to learn independence and other skills to equip them for life in the big world. Oddly, it is not such a trend in other states. Geelong Grammar started it all in 1953 with Timbertop at the foot of the Great Dividing Range, where students, including its most famous alumnus, Prince Charles, spend an entire year. Today, the goldmining town of Clunes, near Ballarat, hosts Wesley College’s country campus where students live for eight weeks. Lauriston Girls School owns a campus in Howqua in which their students complete year 9. Caulfield Grammar not only has a country campus, but one in Nanjing, China.

Lauriston deputy principal Nene Macwhirter says students learn sustainable living principles such as recycling at Howqua. The curriculum also focuses on ”physical challenges”, including six-day hikes and snow camping. ”Their last run is a 17-kilometre run up Mount Stirling and they all make it,” she says.

Lauriston has also introduced a personal growth component, similar to Geelong Grammar’s ”positive psychology” program. ”We’re very interested in positive psychology but what we work on is positive relationships,” she says. Students live nine to a house at Howqua with tutors living separately. Macwhirter says bullying is rare. ”There just isn’t the time for it up there.”

But Howqua is also a massive expense. Macwhirter estimates maintaining the bush retreat is twice as costly as a city campus. And parents pay handsomely – about $40,000 for the year, she says.

And it is an exclusive club. ”It’s very seldom that schools can afford to build and staff their own campus from scratch today,” says Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green.

For MLC, its Marshmead campus justifies the expense. Gray praises the school’s ”vision” in buying the property in 1989 with the intention of focusing on sustainable principles.

The girls return to school with more confidence, he says, and better prepared for the academic challenges of senior high school. But they also make changes to their lifestyle.

Some families install solar panels, buy chickens or plant vegetable patches.

And these are lessons that cannot be taught in the classroom. ”I think Marshmead is more relevant now than it was 20 years ago,” he says.

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St Albans boy, tough law man

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Attorney-General Robert Clark: cracking down on violence.WHILE Melbourne has become a thriving international metropolis where one can down a creme de menthe at midnight after a night at the theatre, drill down and it remains a village in which everyone seems connected.
Nanjing Night Net

And here is where we must make a confession.

The subject of this column, state Attorney-General Robert Clark, and your correspondent have a vague link.

His daughter was a guest at our favourite daughter’s 21st birthday, and we are happy to report that Ms Clark was perfectly well behaved and, unlike others, neither vomited nor stole family artefacts – for which we are grateful.

We learnt two very important lessons from this function: speeches should be done and dusted early, and Jagermeister shots should be banned by United Nations decree. (Strong drink, we found, is to young ladies what myxomatosis is to rabbits: it leaves both species weepy eyed and with an overwhelming desire to lie down in long grass.)

However, we are not here to discuss family matters but to examine the performance of the Attorney-General since he came to power in December 2010.

It is a job in which you make few friends. To the law-and-order lobby you are always seen as a closet Marxist. To the civil libertarians you are a Ku Klux Klan-sympathiser. By any definition, Clark has been busy – and a politician who does anything more energetic than playing Angry Birds on his mobile during parliamentary debates will always make enemies.

That is the sad truth. We want ministers to make decisions and then want to spit on them when they do. Clearly it is much easier to sip muscat and doze fitfully during late-night sessions in the house than actually push through legislation.

Clark, one of the longest-serving members of Parliament (nearly 25 years) is a key figure in the Baillieu cabinet, partly because he is responsible for rolling out a raft of reforms that make up the government’s ”Tough on Crime” pre-election policy.

This, of course, is a nonsense as no political party has ever gone to the polls with a soft on crime policy. That is why Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California, whereas Gandhi would not have won a Broadmeadows byelection.

But Robert Clark is no political opportunist. He is a true believer who started to contemplate a parliamentary career while still at high school. And there was never any doubt on which side of the fence he would land.

”It was during the Whitlam era when the country was going to the dogs at a great rate,” he recalls.

And Clark is no silver spoon Liberal. He was raised by migrant parents in St Albans in what he says were simpler, safer times.

His mother, Peggy, migrated from England to Australia with her family as a child. During World War II, his father Jack, then serving in the RAF, was on his way to a new posting via Melbourne when he met her at a dance. At the end of hostilities he returned to Melbourne to marry her.

”It was a very open and safe society,” Clark says. ”Many of the families came from war-torn Europe determined to start a new life for their kids.

”Kids from all different backgrounds mixed together in the playground long before the word multiculturalism was invented.

”I grew up in an optimistic household. We didn’t feel we were deprived or that we missed [out]. We didn’t have a TV until I was eight or 10, and my folks were keen to make sure we didn’t spend too much time glued in front of the box.

”My folks were big on education and I was lucky enough to pass the exam to go to University High in form three.”

(Another coincidence. Your correspondent followed a remarkably similar path in another working-class suburb. Indeed we sat the same University High exam, although that path was blocked to this reporter on a technicality – chronic stupidity. So while he went on to try to right wrongs, we went on to write about nongs.)

His mother, who regretted that her education had been cut short by the Depression, returned as a mature-aged student to complete her HSC (today’s VCE) at night school in the same year as her son.

Infused by his parents with a sense of public duty, Clark became politically active at university and was elected to Parliament in 1988 at the age of 31.

Now in a government sometimes criticised for a lack of urgency, he is making broad reforms to a court system notoriously resistant to change.

The abolition of home detention and suspended sentences, plus the introduction of a mandatory minimum four-year jail sentence for serious assaults, means more Victorians than ever will end up in jail.

At present, the jail population sits at around 5000, but capacity will increase by more than 1000 over the next few years. This will include a new, privately run 500-bed prison to be built near Deer Park, not far from where Clark grew up.

There is no doubt the government’s tougher sentencing philosophy is in line with community expectations, but many experts say more prisoners just means more recidivists.

We reflect on the thoughts of another working-class kid, former Supreme Court judge and chairman of the Parole Board Frank Vincent.

Big Frank is no kaftan wearer (although as a former long distance runner he has the legs for it) but he believes every effort should be made to keep young offenders (17 to 23) out of prison.

”If you keep individuals in custody for too long it becomes very difficult for them to be reintegrated into the community later,” he once told us.

”The question has never been about hard or light sentencing but appropriate sentencing. There will be cases where it is in society’s interest to extend as much leniency as we can. But it isn’t always the case.”

Clark makes no apologies for the changes, saying suspended sentences have failed.

”I would think most crooks would walk out of the court [having received a suspended sentence] thinking they had got away with it.”

He says the recently introduced community corrections orders give courts more flexibility. Options include curfews, no- go zones, bans on associating with certain people, and alcohol-exclusion orders. ”So they can draw on those to protect the community and send a message to the offender that their crime has unpleasant consequences.”

He says the mandatory minimum laws will include an exceptional circumstances clause to ensure courts still have some discretion, although he believes this will only be used in rare cases.

”If offenders commit assaults on people which are gross, both in degree of injury and culpability, we want them behind bars for at least four years, be they young, old or middle-aged,” he says. He expects the tougher penalties, coupled with the promised 1700 extra police, to ”deter likely offenders in the first place”.

Clark is a straight, decent man whose conservative values don’t blind him to alternative opinions. Within the legal fraternity even his opponents say he is prepared to listen, but not to the extent of doing nothing.

His greatest frustration, he says, is over the time it takes from formulating a policy until it becomes law.

In politics, he says he has ”a few” friends on the other side of the house.

”When you are in the Parliament you have the opportunity to assess people as individuals. Some you warm to and can work with, even though you passionately disagree about things. Others you would never socialise with and would have no interest of ever doing so.”

In many ways he is using new laws to try to enforce old standards.

One is the anti-bullying ”Brodie’s Law” (named after Brodie Panlock, the 19-year-old waitress who took her own life after being relentlessly bullied at work).

”We want to send a very clear message that all bullying is unacceptable, and serious bullying is a serious crime that can result in you being sent to jail,” he says.

And while no one has been charged under the law, he reveals that police are examining several cases where charges may be laid.

Clark, 55, wants a criminal justice system that is more efficient, less cumbersome and more transparent – and more in touch with community expectations. ”Statistics show we are far less safe than we used to be, and people feel less safe.

”When I was growing up we didn’t even lock our back door. Now you go to St Albans or Deer Park and every second house has roller shutters on the windows because of concerns about crime,” Clark says.

”It has been a huge change. When my mother was growing up she could take the last train to Altona and walk home without thinking twice about it.

”Now most parents are concerned about their kids’ movements at night.”

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Night net

VIDEO: What makes the perfect parma? 

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IT’S a question publicans have been trying to answer for decades: What makes the perfect parma?
Nanjing Night Net

Figuring it out is like finding the holy grail of pub culture and would answer a thousand variables.

Head chef at the Grapes Hotel Greg Koriuk with his masterpiece. PHOTO: JEREMY BANNISTER.

What type of chicken tastes best? Should it be grilled or deep fried first? And to ham or not to ham?

Ballarat’s bustling pub scene means locals have a myriad of choices when going out for a parma, which, incidentally, originated in southern Italy and was first made with eggplant rather than chicken.

As the weather warms up and Ballarat heads out for lunch, every chef is now perfecting their parma recipe.

WHERE DO YOU FIND BALLARAT’S BEST PARMA? SEND YOUR PHOTOS VIA OUR iPHONE APP

“If you don’t do a good parma, you’re not going to get people in,” says head chef at the Red Lion, Joe Capuano.

“It’s fairly do or die.” Mr Capuano’s own approach is to deep fry the chicken and use mozzarella on top, with locally sourced ingredients a must.

At The Mallow, they’re more traditional. Head chef Dean Pedrotti said the secret ingredient to his parmas was thick ham under the cheese.

“We get a lot of compliments on the fact there’s a nice bit of ham there,” he said.

But which kind of cheese, exactly? He wouldn’t say. “I don’t want to give too much away,” he said.

Mr Pedrotti said a good parma was key to running a bistro in Ballarat. “We do sell quite a few of them, so it’s important to make it a good product that people enjoy,” he said.

Head chef at the Grapes Hotel, Alex Wilson, said his kitchen used thin slices of ham and Egmont cheese and his parmas were cooked on a flat grill rather than deep fried.

Mr Wilson said the most important thing was to keep it simple.

“That’s one of the things I’ve learned – don’t over-complicate things,” he said.

[email protected]南京夜网.au

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Night net

Families fall ill in cold and mould

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ONE Launceston suburban resident wears three jumpers and thick socks at home to stop the cold making her arthritis worse.
Nanjing Night Net

A family with young children sleeps together in the lounge all winter because the cold has made the rest of the house mouldy.

Another elderly woman moves between her home and her sister’s place when her emphysema, brought on by the cold, gets bad.

Ravenswood Neighbourhood House manager Jenny Gee said yesterday that her group had been working with the communities of Ravenswood, Waverley and St Leonards for more than 30 years and thought that they knew them well.

But they say they have been surprised and alarmed by what they have heard this winter.

They held a public meeting in July to assess the extent of the problem.

They followed up with a survey of home heating.

“The meeting was attended by 28 local people, all of whom had real problems with condensation and mould in their homes,” Ms Gee said.

“All of these people were in public housing.”

The difference between houses in the same street that had heat pumps installed or used wood heating, and those with the standard Housing Tasmania-installed heat panels, was significant, Ms Gee said.

Those in public housing said their heaters only warmed their lounge room.

Almost all had considerable mould in their houses and felt it was causing ill health or exacerbating existing conditions, Ms Gee said.

Some said that they used torches and the television for light and did not turn the heating on because of the cost.

Housing Tasmania’s Lynden Pennicott said that the division was aware of the concerns.

“We are assessing the properties to ensure adequate insulation and that the heating source is working efficiently,” Mr Pennicott said.

“We provide a heater sufficient to heat the main living space in our public housing properties – tenants may choose to use additional plug-in style heaters in other rooms of their homes.”

Opposition human services spokeswoman Jacquie Petrusma said thousands of public housing properties had heaters that were three times as expensive to run as other options.

Ms Gee said that public housing should have heat pumps and roof ducting.

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Night net

Knee injury brings end to Likiliki’s season

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ROOKIE Siuatonga Likiliki will play no further role in Newcastle’s NSW Cup finals campaign and faces a long-term recovery from a knee injury suffered last weekend.
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Specialists have confirmed the New Zealand-born speedster will need a knee reconstruction after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament playing in last week’s win against Canterbury.

Knee reconstructions usually sideline players for six months or more, which will hinder the centre’s pre-season preparations for 2013.

The injury could hardly have been more untimely, given that he had been in talks with Knights officials about extending his contract.

Asked to comment yesterday on his status, the Knights said club policy was not to discuss player negotiations.

But when asked about Likiliki’s future on the club’s website forum two weeks ago, Knights coach Wayne Bennett replied: “Tonga is off contract at the end of year, but we are in negotiations now and we hope to have him here next year.”

The Knights are reported to be interested in signing Likiliki’s brother Toka, who plays prop in the Warriors under-20s side.

Likiliki, 22, has played two NRL games for Newcastle since arriving from Auckland last season and was not used in the top grade this year, despite scoring a team-high 16 tries in NSW Cup.

But after the departure of Junior Sa’u and Wes Naiqama, Bennett may view Likiliki as a handy back-up option if first-choice centres Timana Tahu or Dane Gagai were injured.

Injury has also ruled Knights forward Kyle O’Donnell out of tomorrow’s qualifying final against North Sydney at Kogarah.

O’Donnell has a damaged spleen and, barring a miraculous recovery, has played his last game for the Knights.

The promising back-rower will join Penrith next season.

Newcastle, who finished third on the points table, drew 24-24 with Norths two weeks ago, and Knights coach Rip Taylor said confidence was high as they entered the play-offs.

If they win tomorrow, the Knights earn a week off and progress straight to the grand-final qualifier.

“We’ve spoken about opportunity,” Taylor said.

“They’ve presented themselves with an opportunity and we’re hoping to make the most of it and take it as far as we can go.”

The Knights will be without back-rowers Joel Edwards and Matt Hilder, who have not played enough NSW Cup games to qualify for the finals.

But they welcome back Robbie Rochow, who has played eight NRL games this year.

Taylor said halfback Adrian Davis, who suffered a knee injury last weekend, was still hoping to take his place.

“I’ll give him until tomorrow morning,” he said.

“I dare say if he doesn’t play this week, he’ll be right for next week.”

SIUATONGA LIKILIKI

Night net

Cry for help

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YOUNG people in crisis are being forced onto long waiting lists or referred on as adolescent mental health services buckle under an ever-increasing demand.
Nanjing Night Net

The number of children and teens seeking help has soared 66 per cent in four years and yet there is no dedicated child psychiatrist between Melbourne and Sydney.

North East CAMHS manager Lisa Gundish says the strain on services was “tiring” and she had been shocked by the increase in the number of referrals.

North East Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) also confirmed yesterday there had been no funding for more staff in at least six years to meet the increased workload.

Only nine mental health workers service at-risk youth in the North East.

Lisa Gundish, North East CAMHS manager, said the strain on services was “tiring” and she had been shocked by the increase in the number of referrals.

“I didn’t realise it was that much over that time,” she said.

“It just confirmed what we know was happening, and the actual figures speak loudly.”

And Ms Gundish agreed the statistics showed the Border was crying out for a headspace centre, adding that people aged 14 to 17 consistently took up one third of CAMHS referrals.

Overworked staff have voiced their frustration in having to redirect young people or tell them to wait at a time when they are in need and at risk.

CAMHS clinical psychologist Sarah Lyons has seen firsthand the anger and frustration of families who are told their child can’t be seen immediately, often forced to wait weeks or even months.

“They would say, ‘we don’t have any other options’, and I share that frustration in talking to them, saying it’s not ideal for us either to be turning people away or making them wait,” she said.

“We don’t enjoy it either but our hands were tied.

“It’s a shared frustration — for the community and for us.”

North East CAMHS already provides services for its maximum intake of 75 people but has also had to manage an average of 100 new referrals a year.

From 2010 to 2011, the service had 158 more referrals.

“We’ve had to provide a lot more crisis assessments; kids presenting as having self-harmed or suicidal thinking that are requiring a quicker response time, that’s certainly been a marked increase,” Ms Gundish said.

Across the Border, CAMHS Albury has seen referrals rocket from 11 in July to 50 in August.

It’s the highest number of referrals the service has seen within a month since 2007.

The pressure is also felt in the private sector.

A psychologist in private practice moved to the Border two years ago for work opportunities.

He began working one day a week but the demand pushed him to become full-time.

Ms Gundish and Ms Lyons said a passion to help young people was their motivation for working in the mental health sector.

But they said the burden public mental health workers faced each day now made them look to other careers.

“There is easier work around,” Ms Gundish said.

“We’ve had no additional staff to deal with it, we’ve had to restructure our service provision.”

Ms Gundish wants to see funding doubled but concedes that is unlikely.

“The impact that mental illness places on children and adolescents often gets overshadowed by demands for bed-based services and adult mental health services,” she said.

“CAMHS has always been chronically underfunded.”

Compared to an increased demand for youth services in the North East, adult services have seen a drop in referrals.

Wodonga Adult Community Mental Health had 1132 referrals in the year to July 2011, but had 84 fewer referrals to July.

Ms Gundish hoped a headspace centre could relieve some of the strain.

“If there was a workforce in the private sector, like headspace, who could manage some of these less complex cases, then that will help ease some of the pressure.”

Join our campaign on Facebook: Albury Wodonga Needs Headspace

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Lights on but no one home

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FRUSTRATED Border residents are going to extreme lengths to combat rapidly rising power bills.
Nanjing Night Net

For the past three months Adam Flanagan has resorted to switching his power off at the mains each morning before leaving for work in a bid to stop the crippling effects of the July 1 price rise.

Yet despite curbing his usage, Mr Flanagan still received a quarterly power bill of $864.76 this month, which was $100 more than the corresponding period last year.

He is among the thousands of NSW power users reeling in the wake of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal giving energy companies the green light for a 19.7 per cent price slug.

The regulator has blamed rising network costs and the cost of compliance with federal and state government green schemes for the latest rise, including the carbon tax.

Now customers like Mr Flanagan are staring down the barrel of financial hardship and struggling to find alternative ways to cut costs.

Mr Flanagan says his neighbours must be getting sick of the screeching metal noise of the power board opening every morning and night.

He switches his hot water to night rate, turns off his heating leaving only his fridge running.

His electric heater is used sparingly, for a only couple of hours each night before bed.

He invested in blankets and thermals for himself and his son.

Despite all these measures, the bill for his two-bedroom unit still rocketed.

“When I opened it I thought ‘there’s got to be a mistake’,” Mr Flanagan told The Border Mail.

“I felt ill … I feel like I’m getting robbed and there’s nothing I can do.”

What baffled him most is the graph on his bill which compares his average daily electricity usage this quarter with the same quarter last year.

His usage was down yet his bill had gone up.

The Border Mail contacted Origin to find out if turning the power off at the mains was an effective method of saving on power bills.

A spokesman said it was impossible to tell unless an audit was done of the apartment’s appliances and insulation.

After checking Mr Flanagan’s most recent bill, an Origin spokeswoman ruled out any billing errors.

The bill would have been affected by the power price rise but only for the period from July 1.

With plans to study at university now shelved, Mr Flanagan said he had few options left.

“I’m going to either go all gas or all solar or move into a smaller place,” he said.

“If I wasn’t a grown man I’d cry.”

Adam Flanagan has taken measures to actively cut down his power bill, like switching his power off each day at the mains, yet he is still being hit with high bills. Picture: TARA ASHWORTH

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Night net

See you Legs 11 …

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EYES down was called for the final time at Sacred Heart hall in North Albury last night.
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An era ended with bingo first played in the hall soon after its opening in the mid-1960s.

Greg Brailey from Lavington was on hand to play the last games of bingo at the hall last night. Picture: DAVID THORPE

Bingo was initially a major fund-raiser for Sacred Heart Catholic parish before proceeds were directed to fund classroom technology upgrades at the nearby St Anne’s Primary School from the early 1990s.

At its peak bingo raised up to $15,000 a year for the school.

But the figure has dropped sharply in recent years despite the ongoing commitment of school parents and teachers giving up their Friday nights to call or co-ordinate the weekly games.

The first body blow to bingo was the smoking ban inside the hall, cutting numbers from 100-plus to the current levels of around 60 regulars.

Brian Kelly had the honour of calling the last night of St Anne’s bingo.

Former school principal Sister Anne Hagan said the bingo proceeds were the catalyst for the school being able to strongly embrace technology.

“It was a considerable amount of money,” she said.

“It was what kept the technology going at a time when things were starting to get going in that area.

“We leased computers initially and it was a good money spinner.

“The other good thing was the money we were getting wasn’t coming from the parents.

“It was coming from outside and not a drain on parents.”

Sister Hagan was principal at St Anne’s between 2002 and 2008 and also volunteered to help run bingo.

“It was important for the people of North Albury as well to have something to do,” she said.

“They really enjoyed it and at the same time supported the school.”

Present principal Bede Hart said the school’s board had been monitoring the return from bingo for the last 18 months.

“It has become obvious it is no longer a viable activity,” he said.

“This has been a difficult decision due to the amount of support we have received over many years.

“Dwindling numbers have been the major factor towards us not making a reasonable profit from these evenings.”

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NTFL rivalry enters local curriculum

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THE students at Parklands High School had a tough choice to make this week, and it had nothing to do with how they spent their lunch money.
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With four of their teachers involved in today’s WHK NTFL preliminary finals, the students had to decide whether they were Cats or Two Blues.

In one corner was Wynyard reserves captain Chris Bryan and team-mate Steven Blizzard.

In the other was Penguin senior assistant coach Shannon Wolarczuk and midfielder- forward Callum Mills.

As the two clubs meet each other in both grades today, Blizzard said it made for an interesting week in the staff room.

“There was a bit of banter but it was all harmless fun,” Blizzard said.

“Wolly (Wolarczuk) was instigating it mostly.”

While Wolarczuk downplayed his role as the antagonist, he said the situation had created some friendly rivalry around the school.

“It all started last Sunday when both of the Penguin sides got in,” Wolarczuk said.

“We have tried to get the kids on side and hopefully a few come over for a look.

“It’s all a bit of a laugh.”

The fun and games will stop at 11.50am today, when the reserves run out.

Having finished the season on top of the ladder, only to lose to Latrobe in last weekend’s semi- final, Blizzard said the Cats had a point to prove.

“We definitely want redemption this weekend,” he said.

“We want to prove we didn’t finish on top for nothing.

“Penguin are a good team but Wynyard has been waiting 13 or 14 years to have three teams in the finals and we are really desperate to do something about it.”

Wolarczuk said a similar feeling had caught on at Pirtek Park, with both Penguin’s seniors and reserves keen to square off against Latrobe in the grand final for the second year running.

“With the seniors and the reserves through to the preliminary finals we have a good squad to pick from,” he said.

“They should both be absolutely fantastic games and whoever wins will take it right up to Latrobe.”

Parklands High School teachers (from left) Chris Bryan (Wynyard reserves captain), Steven Blizzard (Wynyard player), Shannon Wolarczuk (Penguin assistant coach) and Callum Mills (Penguin player). Picture: Meg Windram.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Night net

Small on numbers but big on tradition

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IN THE picturesque valley of Nook, halfway between Devonport and Sheffield, cricket history is being made.
Nanjing Night Net

Nook is a district, not a town – so small it doesn’t even have a pub.

But amid the tapestry of cow paddocks sits a paddock like no other.

There are never any cows in this one.

But it does have a concrete strip up the middle and a shed so quaint it belongs in a sepia-tone photo.

It’s the Nook Cricket Ground.

Somehow, this tiny district has managed to summon 11 men to form a cricket team on most summer Saturdays for the past 130 years.

The club has tried to adhere to Mersey Valley Cricket Association rules and field two teams, but it could never get enough blokes together.

Despite the fact this is probably the smallest cricket club in the North- West, it managed to outlive even the cricket association it was part of for more than 100 years.

The Kentish Cricket Association folded back in 2004 as the teams Nook had battled for generations one-by-one fell away.

Nook, perhaps the smallest of them all, joined the MVCA.

At this time its hallowed ground – one of only a couple of privately owned cricket grounds in the Southern Hemisphere – underwent one of the biggest construction projects in its history.

The boys put up a practice net.

Only one, mind you.

You shouldn’t get carried away with infrastructure when there’s only 11 of you.

In the past it was almost a club tradition to leave the first training run until the Thursday before the first game.

Sometimes, training stopped weeks before the finals – if you’re not in form four months into the season, you’re never going to be.

That was until this year.

The tiny family club has turned “professional”.

For the first time since it was formed in the 1880s, the club has employed a coach.

Scott Jaffray cut his teeth as a youngster at Nook and, after a few years playing turf cricket at CNW club Sheffield, has returned to take the helm of a club that has a shed full of golden friendships but not much silverware.

Jaffray jumped at the chance to return to a club where he has such fond memories, at the start of what he believes will be a golden era.

“There’s quite a few young players with potential there now,” he said.

“The club’s got a really bright future, they’ll do a lot of improving in the next two years.”

Nook could create club history tomorrow by actually training before November.

It will start with a light training run and meet-the-coach barbecue at 10.30am at its ground on West Nook Rd, 15 minutes south of Devonport.

The Nook Cricket Club’s first ever coach Scott Jaffray (right) with players (from left) Andrew Mansell, Greg Hinrichsen, Stephen Wood and Nick Sallese. Picture: Stuart Wilson.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.