About janus

British-born, schooled in Holland and Wales, I worked my journalism cadetship in the Home Counties, escaped to London, then spent a couple of years travelling before settling in Melbourne, where I have written and edited for a range of publications, including Pacific Magazines [Your Garden, Home Beautiful, New Idea] and Fairfax Community Newspapers. Now a mother of two wonderful teenagers, I write about gardening, sustainability and people, when I can drag myself away from the vegie patch and my saxophone.
Website: http://janeswrite.com
janus has written 47 articles so far, you can find them below.


State law faulted on saving native species

BY JANE CANAWAY
07 Apr, 2009 08:30 AM

A DAMNING report by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office on the state’s main law to protect threatened species has found it “no longer provides an effective framework” for the conservation and protection of native flora and fauna.

The findings vindicate environment groups, which have argued for nearly 20 years that the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act has failed.

The law aims to protect endangered plants and animals with action plans for their management and fines for their removal or destruction.

But the report found: “The powers in the act have not been used as intended, and parts of the act are out-of-date.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Sustainability and Environment, which administers the act, said there were two fines imposed in 2008. The offences related to the taking of protected flora.

Riddells Creek Landcare member Russell Best said the act had many weak points, including failing to automatically protect rediscovered plants that had been considered extinct.

“A geranium called ‘species 1′ was listed as extinct in about 1904 but was rediscovered in Riddells Creek a few years ago. But it’s not covered until it’s formally listed, which takes a while.”

Since the act was passed in 1988, 653 of more than 800 nominated plant and animal species, ecological communities and processes have been listed – about 37 listings a year – and many are also listed under Commonwealth legislation, which offers tougher protection.

Many species in Melbourne’s west are listed because of cats and foxes and because much of their grasslands habitat has been lost to development. These species include the eastern barred bandicoot, striped legless lizard, grasslands earless dragon, growling grass frog, Australian grayling, golden sun moth. Plants include the small scurf-pea, matted flax-lily, Sunshine diuris orchid and clover glycine.

To enforce the act, the Department of Sustainability and Environment received $4.9million in the 2008-09 state budget and $2.4million from the Federal Government. Staff working on the task were raised from six in 2004 to 12.

Environment Minister Gavin Jennings commended the Auditor-General’s Office for its “frank and helpful appraisal”. “The [department] is reviewing the FFG Act and will soon provide advice on options for improvement.

“The findings are both a pat on the back and a reminder that we must continue working to protect Victoria’s unique plants and animals.”

He has asked the department’s secretary to report back in 12 months.

Towns the missing link

BY JANE CANAWAY AND LAURA LUVARA
07 Apr, 2009 05:56 PM

LINKING townships along growth corridors – such as Craigieburn and Wallan – is the best way to plan Melbourne’s spread, according to the head of the Growth Areas Authority, Peter Seamer.

As landowners and environmentalists await the imminent release of new boundaries for Melbourne’s urban growth, Mr Seamer said last week the GAA aimed to align growth along existing rail and road corridors.

“We strongly support urban consolidation. But in Victoria there is demand for 10,000 new homes a year across the UGB (urban growth boundary).”

The expansion will eat into Green Wedge areas, set up in 2005 to protect the city’s open spaces. But Mr Seamer said the GAA’s approach should benefit the environment and developers and be less ad hoc than in the past.

“We have mapped everything inside and even some outside of the new UGB. Areas of high value we want to set aside…developers need to know in advance what they can and cannot develop.”

Farmers, however, will have to make their own choices about how to use their land.

“Toorak used to be prime farmland too,” Mr Seamer said.

“The value of land is so high that farmers are often better off going further out, but the issue is – we believe – really around water (availability).”

Cr Drew Jessop said the environment in northern Hume needed preservation, in particular the red gum forests in Mickleham and creek and water courses such as the Merri and Kalkallo creeks.

“Our environmental assets need to be preserved and enhanced whatever the outcome. The council can’t be involved in that or manipulate the market. As long as it’s clear and consistent you have a level-playing field and you can’t argue with that.”

Cr Jessop said an outer-metropolitan ring road and an extension to the Craigieburn railway line needed to be prioritised in the infrastructure. “There needs to be good transport links. Some areas are appropriate for trains while others are for buses, pedestrians and bike trails.”

Environment groups believe there is no need to move the UGB and enough land exists within the existing zones to cater for the growth.

Green Wedge Coalition spokeswoman Arnie Azaris wrote in her submission to the review: “The Calder Highway to Sunbury was not supposed to be a growth corridor and we had guarantees from ministers Delahunty, Hulls and Madden that this would not happen.”

The coalition also argues the land release will put more homes in fire-prone pastures and woodlands.

Coalition member Jenni Bundy, who died in the Black Saturday fires, had analysed Department of Planning and Community Development figures for Urban & Regional Development and had said the projections fell well short of the promised 15 lots per hectare development rates.

“For example, Hume Council shows a yield estimate of only 9.6 lots per hectare in the 6-10 year timeframe and reduces further to 8.07 lots per hectare for land in the 11 year-plus, 2019-plus timeframe,” she wrote.

Course offers help for anger

BY JANE CANAWAY
12 May, 2009 08:31 AM
YOU don’t have to hit someone to be violent – that’s one of the first lessons to be learned in the Men’s Business program at Sunbury Community Health Centre.
The program is offered to men “ready to change their violent, abusive or angry behaviours”.

In 2007-08, 213 men visited the centre, with 46 taking part in anger-management groups.

The nearest alternative centres are in Melton and Preston. The men come from as far away as Seymour, Diggers Rest, Craigieburn, Caroline Springs and Gisborne.

Some are referred to the program after a violent incident at home; others sign up voluntarily. All share the need to learn more about the way they react to stress.

“What we work on is ‘how do they change’,” counsellor Joy Fawcus says. “That includes learning that violence can be verbal, emotional, social and financial, too.”

The men’s families know all too well how a raised voice or punched wall can instill fear.

It is not unusual for Ms Fawcus to find four incidents referred to her by police on a Monday morning.

Others are referred by local doctors’ surgeries or partners. And, yes, woman make up 98per cent of all victims.

Awareness campaigns will always bring a torrent of reports, and Christmas and Easter are busy.

“All the holidays are big – people spending more time together, and often alcohol is a factor,” Ms Fawcus says.

Each report means a phone call to both the victim and perpetrator, offering counselling.

In Sunbury, there’s only one service so, until a year ago, Ms Fawcus would be dealing with both parties.

“Now I’ve got Craig [Caple] here, too – it’s better for me and good for men to know that he’s here.”

With women meeting during the day, and sometimes off site, and men at night, she has had warring parties come face to face at the centre only twice in 20 years.

As well as working out what triggers anger, the sessions also work through the cycles of violence in a relationship.

“First there’s the explosion, then remorse, then the honeymoon period, then it builds up to an explosion again,” Ms Fawcus said.

Even after 25 years, she is amazed at how many men come from split homes where violence was an issue.

“It’s about 80per cent,” she says. “It’s just part of their lives.”

A men’s support group fills the needs of “graduates” from the 14-week course who miss the contact and feedback.

Fathers are also encouraged to spend time with their children to understand the effects their violence has on them. A major annual event is the family camp, which last year gave 65 parents and children a chance to play, enjoy time together and not worry about cooking meals, getting to work or school, or other daily stress.

Sunbury Community Health Centre is at 12-28 Macedon Street, Sunbury. Phone 9744 4455.

New high for entrepreneur

BY JANE CANAWAY
11 Aug, 2009 09:31 AM

AFTER months of hard work, Essendon Grammar graduate Aaron Hornlimann hit the headlines last week when Jetstar announced it would use his ground-breaking technology to send boarding passes via mobile phones.

Mr Hornlimann, 22, who started IT company Sissit Group, was asked by Jetstar to investigate the technology about five months ago. Last week the national carrier announced it would be trialling the high-tech SMS boarding system at Avalon Airport and hoped to roll it out across its domestic network by the end of the year.

“Retrieving a boarding pass for a domestic flight will now be as simple as receiving a standard text message 24 hours prior to travel and having that SMS message electronically scanned at the gate to produce a boarding pass if you do not have bags to check-in,” Jetstar chief executive officer Bruce Buchanan said.

The former Avondale Heights resident, who now lives in Melbourne, said that while Singapore Airlines had a system allowing passengers to check in from mobile phone-based internet, his system could be used by even the most basic mobile.

“When you put your phone to the scanner, it takes a picture of the screen when the SMS is open and it will determine the characters and transfer that information to the boarding card, as well as validating who you are and so on. You can also use it to scan in a paper printout.”

He said a lot of the hours were spent devising a portable unit that met Jetstar’s specific requirements at Avalon.

Since Jetstar announced its new technology on Tuesday, Mr Hornlimann has been inundated with media calls, as well as interest from international airlines and governments.

“I’ve aged a lot during this process – I haven’t been getting much sleep – but in the next four weeks the development cycle will have finished and I hope to get into commercial mode again from R&D.”

Mr Hornlimann, who attended Milleara Primary School before Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School, said he had always enjoyed devising new systems and processes on his computer, with early projects including his father’s online business.

He also credits two of his teachers with inspiring his technological skills.

“I did the Duke of Edinburgh award and picked computer programming for one of the activities, and two teachers took time out of their own lunch breaks to teach me the basics – they recognised I wasn’t a traditional academic and didn’t mind that I was looking at different ways to work out a career.

“And I still used my PEGS maths text book sometimes!”

While still at school he set up a company offering free SMS messaging via the website, Intazaar, then moved onto the Sissit Group in 2007, where projects included an early warning system for fire situations.

One of his next projects is an advanced object detection library, which can be used in situations where you need to be able to detect objects; for example, in a car to detect road signs or to assess how many people are in a particular area for safety or crowd control.

“It’s quite on the cutting edge to get a system that’s as good as the human eye. We’ve already started working on the first prototypes.”

Gong with a pink slip

Landcarers left to sink or swim
BY JANE CANAWAY
16 Sep, 2009 04:00 AM

Land carer: After years of kicking environmental goals, John Robinson has been made redundant.

AS a show of defiance, the timing was impeccable; the day after John Robinson’s last day as the region’s Landcare co-ordinator – his position made redundant by cuts to government funding – he was declared the state winner of this year’s People’s Choice Landcare award.
“It was pretty ironic,” he said.

“Environment Minister Gavin Jennings told me he’d had a few people confront him about it at the awards, even though it wasn’t due to State Government cuts.”

Since 2003, Mr Robinson has been the main point of contact for about 24 Landcare and 100 ‘friends of’ groups across 10 municipalities, supporting volunteers in their efforts to improve the landscape of the Upper Maribyrnong and Werribee River catchments.

Many groups voiced their concern when the Federal Government introduced a new funding model in 2008, and their fears were realised in August when the money dried up for the region’s CatchmentCare program – and with it the wages of 80-90 co-ordinators across Victoria, including four employed by the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority. Along with Mr Robinson, Sunbury-based Sam Bayley also lost his job, while two colleagues elsewhere were given different duties.

Mr Bayley, who had been with the CMA for about two years, told the Werribee Banner he had “a few irons in the fire”, but Mr Robinson, 55, was not hopeful about finding a new job quickly.

Local groups were equally concerned about their future.

“Maribyrnong could not be without his services,” John Upsher of the Friends of Maribyrnong Valley said.

Wyndham Vale-based facilitator of the Western Melbourne Catchment Network Colleen Miller is one of the people who will try to fill the gap left by the co-ordinators but said she would feel their loss.

“Sam Bayley and I worked together really closely, combining our knowledge of local groups and available grants, but before that [Sam being hired] John was our main source of information,” she said.

“As well as linking groups together, showing groups what others were doing to inspire them, they also organised access to places you wouldn’t normally see outside of an organised tour, helped with grant applications and provided resources in terms of maps and information papers.

Mental meanderings? More like mental blanks

After thinking up a few good thoughts today – well, they made me smile at the time – my mind is now predictably blank when faced with putting finger to keyboard.

Do thoughts have a natural propensity for shyness or is this nature’s way of ensuring comment is fresh and not fabricated by too much mulling over?

Please share any thoughts that occur to you while you’re trawling through this site, and I promise never to upload anything [else] purely for the sake of it……

Hello world!

Welcome to Jane’s World. Like Wayne’s World without the music, catchphrases, big hair and funny bits.

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