Letters to the editor - March 2

Speak up challenge

How refreshing to witness citizens accepting the challenge to “have their say” on the future of Fun4Kids, Congratulations to those contributors to The Standard for their creative and diverse comments and suggestions regarding the future of Fun4Kids. The references to changes of location alerts us to consider and appreciate the existence of the natural and developed venues for entertainment we have at our disposal. The showgrounds, parks, gardens, foreshore, numerous areas, arenas and amphitheatres which have been gifted to us by nature or the foresight and planning of our founding pioneers. The expense of enticing entertainers to head up the Fun4Kids program undoubtedly largely contributed to the burgeoning costs. Thank goodness for the wonderful band of volunteers who prevented a further escalation of expenses. Is it time to review and appreciate the existence of local talent, perhaps unheralded, under valued and unappreciated at present under our very noses? Consider the musicians, artists, crafters, sporting bodies, food and wine enthusiasts, theatre groups, authors, writers, poets, comedians, dancers and so many other individuals and groups with multiple interests and talents who might be approached to “put on a show” for the pleasure of locals and visitors alike. I'm sure we may well be pleasantly surprised at the home grown talent at times dormant among us. If the decision is made to surrender the set dates held by the Fun4Kids Festival, it might prove difficult to secure appropriate, alternate dates for future planning, as many cities, towns, communities tenaciously guard the traditional time for their annual function. One of the greatest, most universal experiences in life is the sharing of joy/fun, irrespective of age whether it be free or at least affordable. Accept the invitation of the City Council, be it the voice of youth or experience, have your say.

Brian Kavanagh, Warrnambool

Decision no fun

To the councillors of this amazing city. Just a couple of questions: Why was the community not informed of the axing of Fun4Kids festival in time to have our voices/concerns heard? Surely it would be normal practice to begin planning the 2018 event almost immediately after the 2017 is over. If the decision was only made in the past few weeks there would be a large amount of cancellation fees to be paid or it would be way too late to secure any performers. Why would you axe a prestigious ‘hallmark’ event only to seem to re-create something very similar? It seems to have been growing steadily intra and interstate and gaining momentum internationally, so in it’s 20th year which should have been a reason to make it special – it’s over – just like that. Haven’t you just recently given ratepayers free entry to Flagstaff Hill? Why not also encourage locals in some more productive way? I believe the major reason for dropping number of locals is cost. Do you really believe that 508 responses to a survey in The Standard is remotely indicative of what the community is really feeling? Last I recall the official population of this city is somewhere close to 35,000.  “We are happy to see that the community are so engaged and looking at alternative events,” says Visitor Economy Manager. Seriously, 508.  I didn’t  notice anything all that new, in fact the majority still want a ‘Family/Children’s festival’. Do you all agree that the Wunta  festival has had more than a few stumbling blocks over the years, those having been addressed saw the event this year as one of the more successful of its 20-plus years? Maybe a revamp of what we had would have been a more sensible first option rather than wipe out so many years of ‘blood sweat and tears’ by so many employees and residents alike.  “Changing habits and expectations” was quoted by the Mayor as one of the reasons for the demise. The statement he released was very contradictory – on one hand he claims  “Tens of thousands of wood working kits for tens of thousands of kids- and the tapping of dozens of little hammers was a sound synonymous with the festival”  - which is exactly why we should be continuing to compete against ‘electronic entertainment’  - if anything that should have been a selling point. Why would you not take up the offer of the founder of the festival to own the management rights and continue to run such an amazing event for this city? Sadly it will be taken up very quickly by some other city.  20 years of such an enormous effort simply just slips away.

Nan Adams, Warrnambool

Save ratepayers’ funds

Do we need an alternative to Fun4Kids. We seem to be saturated with events and because of this the success of of any individual activity is less assured. Local Government will gain in terms of number of people employed and salary levels. Would it be beneficial to not spend the money, and have some resistance to ever increasing rates, leaving the ratepayer with a few extra dollars in their pockets?Surely we should be challenging all non-essential expenditure and not searching for alternatives.

Lawrence Winter, Timboon

Rowing handicap

I tried to tell Warrnambool councillors but they wouldn’t listen; They had no hope of winning the South West Regatta race against Moyne. Not when you take into account their handicap - having to stop at all the swimmer's crossings along the way.

Ian Marr, Allansford

Let the kids play

As a Hampden league junior club coach and father of two junior footballers, it came as a great relief Wednesday evening to learn of AFL Western District’s decision to backflip on their decision to implement changes to the structure of junior football in our region. The notion of introducing a cap of 26 on teams and reducing the number of players on the field to 16 and only allowing 21 to participate in a game each week was to become a coach’s nightmare. With many kids being forced to find a new club because they had been ‘squeezed out’ due to cap numbers, or being forced to play every second or third week due to rotating through the 16/21 policy, would soon have lost faith in their dream of one day becoming the next Dangerfield, Martin, Franklin etc, sadly may be lost to our code. I believe, as a coach (me being Koroit u12’s) that our duty is to give everyone who wants to play our great game the opportunity to play. History shows all kids develop at a different level, struggling at a young age but they had a dream, desire and determination to make it. In my past three years coaching, only a couple of times have we come up against a side battling for numbers, but as coaches we get together and work it out on the day.  From my experience, in Hampden, the U12 numbers have as a whole been very strong. Clubs work extremely hard to retain these numbers as kids get older but I believe it is an issue with society and today’s lifestyle that makes it hard for clubs to retain kids as they age. AFL WD need to work closely with individual clubs and communities who may struggle with this and not punish those who may just have better systems than others to maintain their numbers. Over the past few weeks there has been a groundswell of emotion from the football families in our region and clubs alike, it’s great to see all Hampden league clubs united as one in their stance to have the AFL WD implemented changes to be overturned. To those that worked so hard for their clubs, players, families and communities-thank you. It’s about giving kids the opportunity to just play football, having fun running around with mates, meeting new people and for many - keeping the dream alive.

Mark Suter, Crossley

Vale Billy Graham

It is saddening for me to reflect on the possibility that the recent death of Dr Billy Graham will go largely unnoticed by millions of my countrymen and women, and many will not even know who he was.  How quickly an era passes and how profoundly a culture can change in one or two generations – the one in which we now live being unrecognizable to the one in which I grew up. But, lest younger readers should assume it was a ‘Christian culture,’ it may have been in many respects — certainly there was greater awareness of what the churches were about and a respect for the “golden rule”— and it was a much more civil society than today’s; and yes, church attendances were higher than those of today, but to the general populace, and even many within the churches, Billy Graham’s message was never well understood or received.  So, who was Billy Graham and what was his message?  Born in 1918 to dairy farming parents near Charlotte, North Carolina, a typical country boy – average at schoolwork, keen on games and always ready for fun, William Franklin Graham Junior’s life changed in 1934 when evangelist Mordecai Ham came to town. Following his conversion, he was soon speaking in public.  He began street preaching while a student at Florida Bible Institute, was ordained a Baptist minister in 1939, and went on to graduate from Wheaton College, Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology in 1943.  It was at a conference in Southern California where, influenced by Henrietta C. Mears, director of Christian Education at the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, Graham decided he could take the Bible as the infallible word of God, and from that point his career as a world-wide evangelist took off, touching the lives of millions in almost 90 countries.  Many may not know of Graham’s positive influence on race relations in the US, how he refused to preach to the segregated crowd which the authorities insisted on; how they backed down, and how black and white came forward arm in arm when he called for decisions from that mingled assembly.  Friend and counselor to US Presidents since Harry Truman, revered Pastor and, above all, a man who lived what he preached; Billy Graham’s passing marks the end of an era.  History will judge his contribution, but I and thousands of fellow Australians, together with millions across the world who by the grace of God have embraced the message of John 3:16 —“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”— join in thanking God for Billy Graham: his life of 99 years, and his message of hope to a lost world.

Alec Witham, Warrnambool

Purple pride

For Purple Day 2018, coming up on March 26, Australians with epilepsy are encouraging friends, family members, colleagues and the wider community to become better informed about epilepsy to reduce the fear and misconceptions often associated with the condition. Around 250,000 Australians are diagnosed with epilepsy, and more than 65 million people worldwide, making it the world’s most common serious brain disorder. More people have epilepsy than have Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy combined, however epilepsy remains poorly understood – and often feared – by much of the community. That’s why we’re using the tagline “Know epilepsy. No fear” this year, to promote the idea that knowledge is power when it comes to understanding and assisting someone with epilepsy. Epilepsy Action Australia has developed an extensive suite of online resources designed to increase understanding and awareness of epilepsy in the community, including seizure first aid advice, with most material available free of charge on our website www.epilepsy.org.au. Ideas and suggestions for ways to get involved in Purple Day this year can also be found on the website. On behalf of all Australians living with epilepsy, thank you in advance to the people in your region for supporting Epilepsy Action Australia. Your support helps to ensure people living with the condition can lead optimal lives.

Carol Ireland, Chief Executive Officer, Epilepsy Action Australia