Ageing population brings new challenges

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that in 1901 just four per cent of the population was over the age of 65.Today, that figure is 14 per cent, and projections show by the year 2100 it will be 25 per cent.The 2011 census shows that this national trend is being played out even more dramatically in the Shoalhaven where we are increasingly top heavy in the older age brackets.And it’s not just due to better health care and increasing longevity. Here, we are gaining even more older residents through sea changers and retirees.Nationally, it’s acknowledged that the ageing population is creating enormous economic challenges, particularly in the light of recent financial turmoil which has decimated many people’s super and retirement funds.It’s also recognised that even for younger people, superannuation is likely to be inadequate to meet their needs when they retire.The South Coast has always been a mecca for retirees, but bad economic times will only increase the attractiveness of our area because it is simply more affordable to live here.The question is, will our services keep up with the demand?Some serious planning needs to take place now to make sure we have facilities in place to care for the elderly.It is to be hoped that these census figures and the challenges they pose might finally make our society realise the value of aged care workers and the job they do.It’s shameful that the people who look after our frail elderly, like the people who look after our children, are among the lowest paid workers.Unfortunately, this says something about the values of the society we live in.Earlier this year at the Shoalhaven Women’s Conference, health services advocate Gail O’Brien made the comment that every politician should be made to walk the corridors of an old people’s home for a day, to gain an appreciation of the work being done by carers.It’s time aged care was promoted to a more important status in our communities, and the very special people who look after our elderly fairly compensated for the work they do.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Community protests over a tower of problems

ANGRY: Shoalhaven Heads residents express their concern about a new Telstra mobile communications tower planned for the centre of their town, during a protest last week.WHILE Shoalhaven Heads residents have been calling for improved telecommunications for years, plans to build a mobile phone tower in the centre of town have sparked protests.Telstra has lodged a development application to build a mobile phone tower beside sporting fields, the Shoalhaven Heads community centre and the fire brigade station.The application has already prompted objections to Shoalhaven City Council, and sparked a protest in Shoalhaven Heads last week where people complained about the location.Protestor Sue Casburn said at 33 metres tall the tower would be about the height of an eight-storey building, and was totally out of place in Shoalhaven Heads where nothing was over two storeys.She feared the location in the town’s centre would provide an eyesore, dominating the streetscape.“This is the most prominent, visible position in town,” Mrs Casburn said.“It’s disappointing that they have picked such a visible location.”While the main battle is looming over the tower’s location and planning issues, the elephant in the room is health concerns over electro-magnetic radiation emitted by telecommunications towers.“People are mostly concerned about health aspects,” Mrs Casburn admitted, “but no-one’s ever won a battle on health grounds, ever.”However with the tower located next to sporting fields used by large numbers of children, and close to the community centre used by playgroups and as a gathering place for the elderly, she said the health concerns were real.Despite several scientific reports indicating mobile phone towers created dangerous levels of radiation, “There seems to be no regard on the aspects of people’s health,” Mrs Casburn said.With council relying on a scientific report saying mobile phone towers posed no danger, “a lot of people feel a bit powerless,” she added.Several Shoalhaven Heads residents are in the process of looking into the scientific issues surrounding mobile phone towers, along with asking for radio frequency maps to ascertain possible impacts of key locations around the community.However there has been a breakthrough in the tower battle.Following last week’s protest Telstra contacted Mrs Casburn wanting to set up a community meeting on the issue during August to discuss other possible tower locations.“If Telstra is willing to work with us on this then everyone will be happy,” Mrs Casburn said.“They’re really trying very hard to work with us and answer all our questions.”The deadline for submissions to council is also expected to be extended until after the community meeting looking at suggestions for alternative tower sites.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Grand old building in need of some love

DISAPPOINTED: Deputy Mayor Andrew Guile wants to see something done about the old Berry council chamber, which marks its 100th birthday this year.WHILE Shoalhaven City Council has plans to restore the old Berry Council Chambers, unfortunately it will not be completed in time for its birthday.The Berry Council Chambers (BCC) will mark its 100th birthday later this year and in 2013, the Berry Show Society will celebrate its 125th Show.However the building is suffering from root damage, damp problems, cracking and general disrepair.Deputy Mayor Andrew Guile has criticised Shoalhaven City Council for not living up to its responsibility to protect heritage assets in Berry, including the original Berry Council Chambers.He believed milestones should require this prominent building to be restored to an acceptable state.Cr Guile was dismayed to realise reports completed in 2010 on the original Berry Council Chambers and the Berry School of Arts have not been reported or acted upon.“To be frank, I’m appalled at the state of these buildings and amazed that staff have never brought these reports to the elected council to show us the extent of works required so that something could be done,” he said.Shoalhaven City Council infrastructure planning manager Martin Upitis said the structural report on the BCC was commissioned as there were concerns about the cracking of brickwork which had been evident for many years.Mr Upitis said that although the report assessed one section of the building as being in poor condition, it did not recommend any immediate remedial action as the building was not unsafe.“Consequently, the report did not trigger any immediate action by council as any proposed works needed to be ranked against existing priorities of building repairs and available funding,” he said.Mr Upitis said there will be a staged approach to the restoration of the old BCC with works to strengthen the footings commencing this year.This will include assessing the need to remove the trees and the type of repairs to the building’s footings.Once the footings have been repaired their effectiveness will be monitored for a year or so to ensure they do not move.Only then can the brickwork and other fixtures be repaired, he said, and the whole process may take about two years.A full restoration is not planned by council in the short-term, but council staff are meeting with the showground management committee shortly to discuss its possible contribution to bring forward both repairs and restoration work.“If this comes to fruition, it would be another great example where community groups can bring forward works which council cannot presently fund,” said Mr Upitus.At the next ordinary council meeting, Mr Guile will be moving to for a full review of the state of heritage buildings for which council is responsible where they are below acceptable standards.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Renovators dream results in regional award

CREATIVE DESIGN: Architects Ross Hill and Colin Irwin from i architecture with builders Bruce and Richard Preston and the plaque their recent renovation won. A RENOVATION that draws in an ocean view secured the award for Best Renovation and Addition between $100,001-$200,000.The award was presented to Kangaroo Valley builder Bruce Preston and his son Richard at this year’s Master Builders Association South East Region Building Awards of Excellence.The renovation was on part of a house on Penguins Head Road, Culburra Beach.Nowra architect Colin Irwin designed the improvements which involved removing obstructions to the view and virtually creating a wall the length of the house from glass.Mr Irwin pointed out with this project, as was often the case with good design, it was all the things that you can’t see that helped make this an award winning design.“Details like making the internal floor the same height as the deck with nothing to step over.“Our biggest challenge was getting the largest, high performance glass sliding door possible.“Those glass panels ended up being the largest Hanlon Windows had ever built.“The focus for this project really was on the glazing,” he said.Mr Preston has been building locally for 30 years and since his son joined him in 2009 had won industry awards each year.“We are fussy and we like working on upmarket houses.“The thing is with a renovation you don’t know what’s there until you start taking things apart.“But it is the old story like with any complicated job you chunk it down and nut out how you are going to do it bit by bit,” he said.The judges commented on the restricted access to the site and Mr Preston was pleased to hear that recognition because a lack of access presented the biggest challenge.“With the awning we couldn’t fit down the side of the house, so had to bring it through next door and that took about 10 men to carry.“And while those glass doors are a delight, it took four people to lift them into place,” he said.“But it was a pleasurable place to work and the clients were good to work with.”This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

UFO footage baffles the experts

Australian astronomer David Reneke is confounded by the footage of a UFO taken by Durras surfer Ben Roberts and featured on the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner website.“I don’t know what to make of it,” he said.“At first I was sure it was Venus, because it was in the area in the sky at the time, but the way it moves in the last five to 10 seconds is strange stuff. Unless the film has been sped up it has me puzzled.” Mr Reneke said that Venus was responsible for most sightings across the world, and can be “quite brilliant”.However, he also brought some aspects of the footage into question.“In the end it pans left and there is a very bright sunrise, whereas before it was pitch black,” he said.Mr Reneke was a UFO researcher for 15 years in the 1970s and 1980s and has pored over much footage of UFOs.“UFOs usually don’t hang around for long, but this one does for nearly 10 minutes,” he said.“What I would like to do is talk to the people who filmed it. It’s not bad footage but with the cameras and editing technology we have now it would not be hard to fake something like this.”Meanwhile Mr Roberts, who filmed the footage near North Durras around dawn on June 21, has scoffed at suggestions the object is a “Chinese lantern” he made with firelighters and a plastic bag.“That theory seems just as far out there as ETs,” he said.“It would have had to have come over the sea from New Zealand. Someone commented with the thought a Chinaman on a container ship may have been up early lighting lanterns. I guess it’s still a UFO until we find the Chinaman! I’m not saying it’s not possible but the odds are extremely slim, and also, a lantern would be ascending more and not moving parallel or descending.”Hao Xu claims to have seen a matching sight in the evening on the same date in Eastwood in Sydney.“At around 8pm I was walking on the street and I saw an orange round bright object flying over my head quickly. I was very sure it was not a plane or anything similar, it was a UFO. When I saw the footage on the Bay Post website, I checked back my photos that night and amazingly, it was 21 June.”This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.