The Museum of Australasia and the Pacific.

A Precinct Structure Plan is soon to be created for the land formerly known as the Point Cook ex Green Wedge as a first step in determining how the land could be used. When Wyndham City Council originally suggested to the State Government, around three years ago, that the land should be developed, they did suggest that up to 3,200 housed could be part of the plan. Obviously another 3.200 houses additional to hundreds already in the pipeline for Salt Water Coast and Life developments, will add to Point Cook’s already heavy peak hour traffic.’ We believe visitor traffic to the MAP would be off peak hour and mainly be via the Sneydes Road interchange and Hacketts Rd. The project would enormously benefit Wyndham’s existing tourism precinct (Werribee Mansion, State Rose Garden, National Equestrian Centre,Point Cook Aircraft Museum …. and more), in terms of visitor traffic. It would also generate local employment opportunities and potentially tie-in with the planned and educationally strong Werribee East project.

OBJECTIVE :

Point Cook Action Group Inc (PCAG) seeks expressions of interest from carefully selected major Australian corporations for a singular or joint philanthropic venture for Melbourne. We plan to ignite worldwide interest with the capacity to match or even surpass some of the World’s iconic modern architecture and tourism facilities. It has been a long time since an iconic and exciting project of this type has been undertaken and will be the only one of
this type undertaken in the growth corridor in the West of Melbourne.

GOALS :

To transform a 433-hectare section of under-utilized land located in the popular Melbourne suburb of Point Cook, close to the city, for an iconic facility that will compliment Melbourne’s and indeed Australia’s existing tourism opportunities. To assist in understanding and recognition of Australia’s Aboriginal community and bridge some of the cultural gaps that exist between mainstream Australia’s learning and knowledge and correct and explain the historical accuracies. This is particularly lacking in the Southern states of Australia. To fill an unfortunate gap with a learning and education centre for the diverse cultures of Australia and the Pacific region, such as Polynesia, Indonesia and the Torres Strait Islands, which despite being our close neighbours are relatively neglected in terms of our cultural heritage, particularly in comparison to our English and European ancestry.

CONCEPT:

• This Museum will celebrate Australia’s rich and ancient Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islands cultures
• Will highlight Australia’s huge mark on the entire world, achieved in only 230 years
• The rich and colourful indigenous cultures of the Pacific including Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Polynesian, Micronesian and Melanesian cultures.

VISION:

A modern, vibrant structure, not only visually exciting from the outside, but filled with the colour and amazing sounds of the myriad of Australian and Pacific indigenous cultures:
• Australia’s unique and ancient Aboriginal heritage
• A Maori war canoe experience, including clothing and traditional implements
• The energy of the Polynesian culture …… it’s art, traditions and lifestyle
• The creative energy of the Melanesian and Micronesian cultures including the danger and vibrancy that is Papua
New Guinea
• The varied and spectacular colour of the multitude of Indonesian cultures including traditional architecture and
dances, possibly utilizing video, holograms, and tactile experiences
• Live and audio-visual performances, bringing the kaleidoscope of the region’s exciting, varied, unique and colorful
culture into one centralized space, creating interest for Melbourne, but also for the Asia-Pacific region.

Genuine artifacts and the history and use of implements such as Fijian war clubs, the expanse of wood carving
throughout the region, palm frond weaving activities, Papua New Guinea head-dresses and masks to try on,
boomerangs of all types, woomeras, preservation and study of ancient rock art, and deciphering the mystical world of
totems. As well as live dance and music performance such as Balinese dance with a Gamelan orchestra, the world-famous Maori Haka and Pacific Island variations, the evocative beat and rhythms of wooden drums ……..all that is just a small part of the culture and colour of Australia and the Pacific region.. Then there are the Melanesian and Micronesian cultures with so many varied island groups containing a multitude of  traditions, with individual language and art variations that no-one in mainstream Melbourne even knows about yet. So many things to discover and preserve. And we have the chance with space in such a vibrant community so close to the middle of Melbourne.

More details on the concept and the proposal is available here : PCAG_Museum_Propsal.pdf

Point Cook Schools at Breaking Point

If you’re a parent of school aged children in Point Cook, you’ll be acutely aware that the situation with public schools is at breaking point. We now have four Prep to Year nine campuses, and one senior school, which accommodates Year 10-12 students. Most of these schools are at or over capacity, and, with a huge amount of housing development still underway and planned for Point Cook’s future, the situation will go from bad to worse.

The majority of these schools now contain many more students than they were originally built for, with portable classrooms increasingly taking over open play space and vegetable gardens, such as the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden at Point Cook College that has recently been all but destroyed to bring in new buildings.

Portables take over the Kitchen Garden - Point Cook College, 2013

Portables take over the Kitchen Garden – Point Cook College, 2013

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden - Point Cook College 2010

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden – Point Cook College, 2010

 

As far as the Point Cook Action Group is concerned, we have two major problems that need addressing with schools.

  1. Whilst ‘planning’ for further Prep-9 schools seems to be on track with two land sites allocated to future schools in current estates (as well as another planned site in the Werribee Employment Precinct on the Point Cook side of the Freeway), we desperately need funding to build these schools. This is to a) help take pressure off overcrowded existing schools, and b) keep on track for adequate number of schools for current and future population growth.
  2. There has not been any land set aside for the development of another senior campus in Point Cook. This lack of foresight demonstrates inadequate planning beyond the next five to ten years of population growth. We cannot simply turn around in ten years’ time and say, we need to build another senior school when there has been no land set aside to do so.

Population Growth

abs_censusBetween the 2006 and 2011 census time points, Point Cook welcomed over 18,000 residents. However, only two new P-9 schools were opened during this time period to accommodate the extra 5,000 residents under 15 years of age. As the current annual population increase for Wyndham is estimated at 7.1%, it is estimated that Point Cook has grown by another 4,000 residents since the 2011 census. During this time, just one new P-9 school was built to accommodate an increase of approximately 1120 residents under 15 years of age.

Current Schools

The public schools currently available in Point Cook are as follows:

School Year Levels Number of students (approx.) Year opened
Carranballac – 2 Campuses Prep-9 1425 2002 and 2006
Point Cook Senior Years 10-12 700 2008
Point Cook College Prep-9 1300 2010
Alamanda College Prep-9 (currently P-6) 400 2013

 

Planned Prep-9 Schools

There are currently two planned schools in Featherbrook and Saltwater Coast Estates, both of which are Prep-9. However, in April 2013, Premier Denis Napthine announced the funding for the schools to be opened in 2015, and neither of these sites were selected, despite the obvious need for such funding. In particular, the Featherbrook school is in desperate need.

apples_chalkboard_pvWhen Matthew Guy approved the Precinct Structure Plan for Point Cook West in November 2012, he did so with no planned school within the community, nor any promises of funding to develop the Featherbrook School site which will be an absolute necessity to cope with the further increase to our population. A quick look at the map reveals that the closest school, and therefore most likely zoned school, to this precinct is Point Cook P-9 College – arguably the most overcrowded of all the schools in Point Cook. This further exacerbates the dire need for funding for the Featherbrook school site.

Lack of planning for another Senior School

high schoolNowhere in any of the current or planned estates for Point Cook, has land been allocated to the development of another Senior School Campus. Whilst Point Cook Senior is not yet at capacity (1,100) it will only be a matter of 3-5 years before it this has been reached. Currently, it is estimated that there are around 500 prep students enrolled in our four Prep-9 schools – which in ten years’ time will account to at least 500 students potentially enrolling in Year ten at Point Cook Senior (double the current number of Year ten enrollments).

Matthew Guy was quoted in the Wyndham Weekly as saying; “The demographic of Point Cook doesn’t demand schools running from prep to Year 12. More high schools will happen when the demand comes.” Whilst this may make sense based on our current population data (although we need to remember that the 2011 Census is already two years out of date!), one does beg the question as to where ‘more high schools’ will be built if the land is not set aside for them now.

We need your help!

Pencils on a blank notebookThe Point Cook Action Group has just begun a campaign to bring these issues to the attention of the Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine, along with Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, and Minister for Education, Martin Dixon. We urge Point Cook residents to get on board and write to these politicians urging them to reconsider the long term planning for the education of our young students. Namely, to:

  • Allocate funding for at least one of the proposed Prep-9 schools in Point Cook (Featherbrook and Saltwater Coast Estates)
  • Allocate land for a proposed senior school to be build when the demographic of Point Cook requires another campus.

Points you may wish to include in your letter:

  • Our Prep-9 schools are overcrowded; more portables arriving yearly and larger classroom sizes
  • There are several estates still being developed (Saltwater Coast, Kingsford, Saratoga, Paragon, Sanctuary Lakes and Point Cook West); we need additional funding for the proposed Prep-9 schools to be built to keep up with demand and ease the burden on our existing schools
  • There was no new funding for any of the proposed Prep-9 sites announced in the next budget – we will have to wait till at least 2016 before a new school is built in Point Cook
  • Point Cook Senior has a ceiling of approximately 1,100 students, which will likely reach capacity within a few short years
  • There are no proposed sites in any Precinct Structure Plans for another senior school to be built in Point Cook
  • Where will our Year ten students go to school in five-ten years’ time when Point Cook Senior reaches breaking point?
  • Why do we not have any choice of where to send our children in Point Cook for their Senior Education?
  • If Matthew Guy will plan a senior school when the population demands it, where does he propose on building this school?

Some solutions you may wish to include in your letter:

  • SolutionAllocate some land in the new Werribee Employment Precinct Plan (Point Cook section) for a senior campus for Point Cook. If this site is not available, another site must be found and set aside for a senior campus before it’s too late.
  • When the Prep-9 school at Featherbrook is finally built, design it so it can be easily converted into a high school when the time comes. For example, as the student population ages, younger year levels can be dropped off as older year levels are added in, i.e. stop Prep intake when the time arises for Year ten intake to occur. Or, design and build the Featherbrook school as a Prep-12 school, where senior intake can come from any neighbouring schools.

Make sure you make your letter personal, and make it clear how the current and future situation affects you and your family.

Who to write to:

 Thank you all for your help in making Point Cook the best place it can be!

Williams Landing – ‘Sneak Peak’

Williams Landing Station 1

Williams Landing Train Station

Williams Landing Train Station is set to open for commuters on Sunday April 28th, and to celebrate, Public Transport Victoria (PTV) held a ‘Sneak Peak’ this morning where members of the public could have a look at the new facilities.

The publicity of the event was commendable, with brochures in letter boxes, advertisements online and in newspapers, and as a result, the organisers of this event ought to be really happy with the turn out!

Hundreds of people were in attendance, from babies to the elderly, all coming out on a windy Sunday morning for a bit of a nosey. Several shuttle buses brought Williams Landing residents in droves, the car park was almost full, and several people came by foot or bicycle.

There are some really fantastic aspects of this new station. It will be extremely convenient for Residents of Williams Landing, who will have easy access via road or foot from several vantage points at the South end of the suburb (once the roads open and the development is finished).

Williams Landing Ramp

Ramp to the train platform

Its fantastic to see a train station with pedestrian foot ramps from both Williams Landing and Point Cook, as well as stairs and elevators to provide different options for commuters to reach the station which is situated above the train tracks. Along the pedestrian ramps that were open today, there were benches part way up for those who needed to take a break as the ramps are quite a long walk.

Williams Landing Platform

Williams Landing Platform

The train platform is excellent. Access is available via ramp, stairs or elevator. There are electronic notice boards, plenty of shelter and benches available for waiting.

There are five bus shelters available, one for each of the bus routes that will access the station. Each shelter provides six seats and a timetable of the route, and they all have fantastic overhead shelter for rain.

Williams Landing Bus shelter

Bus Shelter

The whole bus area is monitored by the use of several video surveillance cameras, hopefully making a safe environment for commuters throughout the day and night. A rather small bike shed, with space for 16 hanging and perhaps 10 or so bikes on the floor, is also available in the bus shelter area.

 

There are, unfortunately, several issues that are being discussed in the media and social media, and only time will tell which of these will become serious problems for commuters after the station is open.

Williams Landing bus stops

Row of five bus stops

There is no bus lane on Palmers Road from Point Cook to Williams Landing station. As residents of Point Cook are well aware, this, and every other road out of Point Cook, is at a standstill from around 7am-9am on week days. Adding four new bus routes in Point Cook, all of which travel down Palmers Road to the train station every 22 minutes – around 10 buses an hour – can only add to the stress of commuters heading to the freeway every morning.

Residents of Point Cook are already frustrated with our bus service, with them being unreliable and inefficient – one of which was reportedly cancelled in peak hour because it couldn’t get through the traffic. With these new buses stuck in the freeway traffic on Palmers Road, it is unlikely they will make it to their destination on time. One does wonder why the buses couldn’t drop commuters off at Wallace Ave for them to access the station from the massive new footbridge that spans the freeway. As a fellow PCAG Board Member stated to me at the event this morning:

sitting on a bus which is stuck in traffic on top of the Palmers Road bridge, will infuriate passengers as they watch their trains take off below without them.

The other issue with the buses at the station is that it is possibly up to a five minute walk (possibly longer for those with mobility issues)  for commuters to travel between the bus stops and the train platforms. One can only hope that the bus timetable takes this into account when trying to marry the bus and the train services together.

Williams Landing Car park

Williams Landing Car Park

The car park at the station reportedly holds 500 cars and several residents have already expressed their concern that the car park will be overflowing from day one. Today, I estimate the car park was at least 3/4 full when I left the event around 11am. As many people had walked or come to the event via a free shuttle bus service, I’m inclined to agree that it just wont be big enough to meet demands.

However, if the new bus routes proves to be an excellent service that manages to get through the traffic on Palmers Road, snake around the dog leg, and reaches the station on time, with time allocated to reach the platform, perhaps we’ll see hundreds of commuters from Point Cook take the bus and train instead.

Time will tell, and I’m sure we all have our fingers crossed!

Were you at the opening today? What did you think?

 

Point Cook Action Group Announces New Working Groups

Pencils on a blank notebookThe Point Cook Action Group has recently formed Working Groups to tackle specific issues within Point Cook. The purpose of the groups is to bring together both PCAG members and non-PCAG community members to work together towards certain goals, focusing on specific issues they are passionate about.

This is a very exciting new development within the PCAG, one which we believe will help bring our members together with the community.

The groups are as follows:

We are looking for more people to become involved, no matter how big or small the contribution. If you would like to be involved or would like more information, please contact us via info@pcag.org.au

Don’t forget you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter!

We look forward to this new step in our aim to help make Point Cook the fantastic place we all want to live in!

Point Cook Action Group 2014 New Board

A new Board was confirmed at the start of 2014

PCAG_logo

 

Board Member Positions:

  • President – Tony Hopper
  • Secretary  – Gerrard Delvaux
  • Treasurer – Liz Thompson

Ordinary Board Members:

 

The new Board brings with it a variety of skill sets and passions, with all members focused on improving the standard and quality of living in the Point Cook area.

 

Point Cook South “Logical Inclusions” Public Meeting Outcomes

As many of you are now well aware, late last year Wyndham City Council (WCC) proposed to the State Government that Point Cook’s Green Wedge should be a ‘logical inclusion’ to be rezoned into Victoria’s urban growth boundary. Residents of Point Cook, other suburbs in Wyndham and environmentalists alike have been reeling at the news. Point Cook residents are particularly concerned about further housing developments in our already overcrowded suburb, with demand far outweighing supply in basic infrastructure such as transport, schools and primary care facilities.

Wyndham is the fastest growing municipality in Victoria, and it is set to double in size over the next 20 years. Over the last five years, Point Cook has grown by 128% and is set to increase by around 20,000 residents in the next 10 years. This is of great concern to the residents of Wyndham, and without the addition of much needed infrastructure, we feel that the rate of growth here is unsustainable.

Following a public protest rally at the Point Cook Town Centre on July 1st, WCC called a public meeting (held at Arndell Park Community Centre in Truganina on July 31st) to discuss their position on the issue and to hear the concerns and ideas of the community. In light of this, several residents of Wyndham banded together, and created a campaign to bring the issue to the attention of Point Cook residents. The Save Point Cook’s Green Wedge Facebook Page, twitter account and email address (savepcgreenwedge@gmail.com) were created. Several members of the Point Cook Action Group joined the campaign and worked hard to advertise the meeting throughout Point Cook.

Volunteers hand delivered more than 4,000 flyers advertising the meeting to letterboxes throughout the suburb. Flyers were also put up in local shops and community centres. PCAG also released an updated blog on the issue, calling people to action. We did all we could to get the message out into the community. We thank Colleen Hartland MLC and The Hon Jill Hennessy for printing 2,500 of these flyers for our campaign.

More than 100 residents of Point Cook and other parts of Wyndham attended the meeting. This was a really positive and encouraging turn out and demonstrated to WCC that we are a passionate and united community. Residents want to have a say in the future of our growth and development, and are concerned about the environmental impact of developing Point Cook’s lungs into more housing.

In attendance from WCC were Cr Kim McAliney Mayor, Cr Glenn Goodfellow Deputy Mayor, Cr Bob Fairclough, Bruce Hunter and Bill Forrest. In addition, Colleen Hartland and Jill Hennessy attended following an invitation by Point Cook residents. An external facilitator was provided by WCC to mediate the conversation between WCC and residents.

Bruce Hunter, from WCC’s Town Planning Department, spoke on behalf of WCC, and declared their position of nominating Point Cook South into the Logical Inclusions. Bruce used several photos of the green wedge throughout his presentation, and of note he explained:

  • The details of the site, including that Lincoln Heath South is already in a Green Wedge A Zone, which has different standing in terms of development. The remaining area is made up of around 25 different plots of land owned by different individuals; many of these are not usable farming spaces with owners not able to make an income from their land.
  • That around 33% of the land is wetlands/swamp areas and that most of this area would be rehabilitated using proceeds from land sales, although some may be filled in and built on;
  • That the existing situation is not an acceptable buffer between farming and residential housing. For example, the Lincoln Heath estate has fences that back onto farm land, and Alamanda and Featherbrook Estates have a road/walking tracks separating houses and farmland. He stated that rubbish is blown onto farmland, and animals, such as domestic cats wander into farmland making farming livestock difficult.

Paul Harder spoke on behalf of the Point Cook community. Of note, he explained that the specific issues that concern the Community are:

  • The lack of recognition of environmental impact on significant indigenous fauna and flora, listed by State and Federal Governments as Threatened, Endangered and Rare;
  • The lack of recognition of the importance to the health and well-being of current residents who overlook and use this space as a calming haven from stresses of city commuting;
  • The broken promises for residents who purchased and invested in the Edge of the Wedge with the understanding it would remain non-residential for the next 30 years;
  • The short-sighted approach to preserving substantial green open space for the growing suburb as blocks become smaller and building to boundaries becomes the norm – the lack of suitable recreation space for residents now borders on the alarming;
  • That Point Cook already has a glut of housing and developments. There are several estates yet to be developed, or in early stages of development; and
  • That our infrastructure is already stressed, with the State Government not yet coming to the party to improve transport issues.

Paul also made the point that just over two years ago the Brumby Government extended Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary and in doing so appropriated around 45,000 hectares of land for urban development. This action was with the full support of the now State Government and it was clearly stated at the time that it would provide sufficient land to cater for 20-30 years of growth. Why then is it that extra land now so desperately needed?

The meeting was then opened up to the floor for questions and comments. At least 15 people took the opportunity to express their own concerns, opinions and ideas relating to the future of the green wedge. These ranged from standing firm that the wedge should remain untouched, to it being redeveloped and rehabilitated into open usable public recreational space, and even that housing could be permitted to help fund the rehabilitation of some areas, but that it should not be anywhere near 3,000 dwellings and that land sizes should be well above average. This discussion continued for over an hour and could have kept going if not for time constraints.

At the conclusion of the meeting, it was decided that a ‘working party’ of residents and council members would be formed to help determine a plan for the future of the wedge. Six nominations were taken on the night. Further appointments on this committee will be advertised publicly and can be applied for directly to WCC.

Overall, this was a very successful evening. The strong community attendance demonstrated to WCC that public consultations regarding major decisions for our municipality are imperative. We feel positive about the future of working with WCC to help ensure this land meets the needs of our community with great foresight.

Submissions objecting to the State Government’s rezoning of the Green Wedge can be sent direct to:

The Hon Matthew Guy
Minister for Planning
Email: matthew.guy@parliament.vic.gov.au
Postal: Level 7, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne 3000, VIC.

 

Census Data Released – What Does Point Cook’s Data Mean For The Future Of Our Suburb?

The 2011 Census data are starting to be released. I have taken a look at the QuickStats for Point Cook and have provided an overview of that data below.

In August 2011 there were 32,413 people living in Point Cook,  approximately a 220% increase from the data five years earlier, supporting all previous reports that we live in one of the fastest growing suburbs in Australia. This growth rate indicates that this data that has just been released already underestimates how many people are living in our suburb now.  However, it is great to finally have some more recent and accurate figures at our hands rather than working off assumptions and predictions based on five year old data.

86.9% of dwellings in Point Cook house families, with 9,081 families living in Point Cook. 69.7% of those families have children, with an average of 1.8 children per family.

The average number of people per household is 3.1. This is significantly higher than the state average of 2.6 people per household and this variance can make a significant difference when projecting population in an area based on number of households.

For example, the population estimates given when Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan was first drafted calculated population in the area at 2.8 people per household for conventional housing and 2.5 for medium density housing. On this basis the future population of this area was estimated at 4,746 residents. However, census data supports one of the arguments PCAG used against these projected figures. Point Cook attracts larger average number of people per household than the Victorian State average and therefore future planning should reflect this in their projections, as this has a significant knock on in regards to provision for other vital infrastructure, such as schools, health care and community leisure and wellbeing options.

Interestingly 4,097 people, that’s 12.6% of Point Cook’s population, are aged between 0-4 years, with 28.4% of the suburb aged 0-14 years. There are 5,111 (15.8%) 5-14 year olds (approximate P-9 school age) and 1,588 (4.9%) 15-19 year olds (approximate 10-12 school age). What does that mean for our already bursting schools? If you look at the number of people that are currently in the 15-19 year age bracket and then look at the age bracket below and our overall growth rate as a suburb, you don’t need to have passed maths with a Distinction to see that we are going to have twice as many people in years 10-12 in four years time than what we have now. Where are they going to go to secondary school? I haven’t seen any plans to build another Year 10-12 College or to double the size of Point Cook Senior College. Already we have many families sending their children as far as Bacchus Marsh, or in some instances much further to ensure quality education for our children. Think of all those extra cars and school buses on our roads, not to mention our children having to commute for up to an hour each way when they could otherwise be using that time to participate in sports or do their homework. It won’t be until much later in life that we will see what impact this will make and by then it will be too late.

The other significant age group in Point Cook is 25-44 years (14,277), making up a combined total of 44% of our population. These consist of the parents of these children and contribute to a large proportion of our commuting workforce. Employment details are yet to be released, but unfortunately statistics such as where people work have not been captured in this study. It would be interesting to see how many people work locally and how many people exactly we have battling to get out of Point Cook each morning via one of our three exits into town. More interesting would be the number of people that would prefer to work locally should options become available in areas such as the proposed, but yet confirmed Werribee Employment Precinct.

It will come as no surprise to Point Cook residents that we are a suburb reliant on our motor vehicles. In fact only 180 dwellings (1.8%) are without a motor vehicle. This is significantly down on the State average of 8.4%. Could our poor public transport have something to do with this perhaps? The average number of motor vehicles per dwelling is 1.9, with 53.8% having 2 motor vehicles, significantly greater than the State average of 37%.

The median household income is $1,986 per week, up from a State median of $1,216. However, with 73.7% of us being home owners rather than renters, it looks like this slight income advantage is going straight into the mortgage repayments. Our median monthly mortgage repayments are $2,200 compared to the State median of $1,700.

Point Cook is a multi-cultural suburb. Whilst Australia tops the country of birth (54.4%), other top responses in order of population numbers were India (5.7%), China (4.4%), England (3.9%), New Zealand (3.3%) and Philippines (21.1%).

Point Cook’s infrastructure is struggling to cope with the current number of residents in the suburb. Public transport is inadequate, arterial roads are at a standstill during peak times, there is limited local employment and our schools are bursting at the seams. Trying to squeeze more people into the suburb by releasing more land for development and/or approving applications for high-density housing in already populated areas of Point Cook should therefore be put on hold until our infrastructure issues catch up to at least support the requirements of our current population, as agreed by Planning Minister Matthew Guy. If not, then where are these people meant to work, go to school or develop other life skills such as learn to swim? There is no provisions for them to do that in Point Cook and they will struggle to get a bus or be able to drive elsewhere to do any of these things either.

So how does this data compare to what you though and what implications do you think this has for Point Cook as a suburb. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Crime Prevention and Fire Safety In Our Community

In the past few months there have been many articles and discussions between residents regarding the increase of crime in our community.  Vice President of the PCAG Glenn Rowlands together with Cr Bob Fairclough invited Senior Sergeant John Johnson and Senior Sergeant Gary Drummond to join us last April to discuss these issues. On the agenda were home safety, car safety, community safety, graffiti and vandalism.

Sergeant John Johnson pointed out that even though crime is on the rise, the numbers are in correlation to the population growth and is no worse than other areas of Melbourne. Wyndham’s population 13 years ago was 80,000 and it has now grown to 180,000. Despite this reassurance that we don’t have a crime epidemic on our doorsteps, residents are still concerned and we all want to feel safe in our homes and our community. Senior Sergeant John Johnson and Senior Sergeant Gary Drummond discussed some useful tips to decrease crime and the importance of neighbourhood watch. They also stated that Police cannot be everywhere and community awareness of crime prevention, together with working alongside the Police, is the best possible defence in keeping our community safe. Since that meeting Glen Rowlands has set up a Facebook page Point Cook Crime Prevention & Neighbourhood Watch to help begin that process.

Another area of concern over the last few years is the number of house fires we have witnessed in Point Cook. The Hon Peter Ryan, Emergency Services Minister, recently stated that “the risk of house fires during winter increases by 20%”.   We know that the thought of a house fire strikes fear in most of us; it is the very reason why information on fire safety is so important. Cr Glenn Goodfellow, Deputy Mayor Wyndham City Council, who is a Volunteer Fire Fighter with CFA Truganina has been assisting the PCAG with information on fire prevention. He stated to us that “it is essential to be well informed and prepared in the protection of our homes or in the event of a fire”.

PCAG are serious about crime prevention and fire safety as well as empowering the local community with the knowledge on how to do so:

We are pleased to announce a free Crime Prevention and Fire Safety Community Night to be held on Tuesday 24th of July 2012 at 7 pm at Point Cook P-9 College.

This will be a fantastic night offering important information and is supported by the Point Cook P-9 College, Wyndham City Council, Werribee Police and the CFA with the following confirmed speakers: Michael Hayes (Principal Point Cook P-9 College), Cr Kim McAliney (Mayor Wyndham City Council), Police Officer Tracy Duhig (Werribee Police), Glen Cockram (CFA) and a representative of the PCAG.

Residents are encouraged to come along to:

  • learn what they can do to keep themselves fire safe within their own homes;
  • learn what they can do to be proactive in crime prevention within their own homes and neighbourhood to reduce crime;
  • show our children and teens that we “grownups” are doing what we can to make their community safe; and
  • send out a strong message that we will not stand for crime in our area and that we are all working together to help keep our community safe.

Further Information regarding this event will be handed out closer to the date in forms of flyers, social media, school newsletters and more. If you are able to attend, please RSVP on-line here or email info@pcag.org.au. Please help us spread the word. We look forward to seeing a huge turnout to this important community event.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy says “We heard You!”

PCAG were invited to a meeting by the State Planning Minister The Hon Matthew Guy to discuss the issues we are currently facing, and how future plans for Point Cook and the surrounding area will deal with these. Also in attendance were Peter Seamer – Executive Officer of the Growth Areas Authority, MP Bernie Finn and MP Andrew Elsbury being the members for Western Metropolitan Region.

The meeting began with Andrew Elsbury introducing Matthew Guy to the group, Mr Guy began with “call me Matthew” and thanked us for coming to the meeting. He said that there wasn’t a day in his office that Point Cook didn’t come into discussion in some way. He congratulated the PCAG for “making ourselves known” and for “making enough noise”. He assured us with a few humorous murmurs from around the room “we heard you, we heard you in the papers, we heard you on the news, in all the letters (prompted Mr Seamer), we have heard you, we’re here aren’t we?” This prompted a few chuckles from the members of our group; it was a positive start to the meeting.

Sprawling a map of Wyndham across the table, which highlighted our growth areas and population hot spots, transport poor areas and circled intersections across the municipality in dire need of attention, Mr Guy began by saying he wanted us to understand that he had inherited the fiasco that is Point Cook without the funds to implement the necessary infrastructure neglected by the previous government. This much we knew. He went on to state that since he had been in power he had not approved a single new development in Point Cook; the ones that are continuing to go ahead were approved by the previous government. I personally acknowledged and thanked him for that on behalf of the PCAG.

We commenced general discussion about the Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan (PCW PSP), in particular the diamond interchange at Sneydes Rd. Mr Guy expressed that their intentions were to move quickly on the Werribee Employment Precinct (WEP) to help fund the construction of the interchange. He also acknowledged that if even funding wasn’t an issue that it would not be an overnight fix and gave realistic timelines of when it would be constructed. He stated that together with council they had put in a joint submission through the federal Suburban Jobs Program to form a three tiered funding commitment for the interchange to boost jobs to the area. We felt that this was a fair approach since The Labor Party had caused the growth explosion without providing sufficient vital infrastructure for the area to cope.

In further discussions about the WEP, Mr Guy explained that the pocket of land was geologically stable which made it highly suitable to establish the area as a major data centre. This would create much needed employment in the IT sector for the area, a real positive for Point Cook with so many residents in the industry living here.

We found Mr Guy to be well-versed on the transport issues of Point Cook. As a Planning Minister his main focus was to create employment in the area to help alleviate the transport issues. We discussed our disappointment in the State Budget in relation to roads funding, poor bus services, lack of station parking and train services as well as the impact the Regional Rail Link (RRL) will make on the surrounding area. We questioned him about issues surrounding North Melbourne station and the impact of the more trains to that station. He adequately explained that upgrades were going ahead to North Melbourne station as part of the RRL that would prevent the crisscross that currently occurs between suburban and country trains.

Also discussed were the plans for a Ferry Service to the Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) being part of the transport solution for the area. Mr Guy explained the difficulties they are facing from old policy hurdles to funding in order to make this a reality. He said they were currently doing a feasibility study and mentioned those who were in support of plans. We expressed our reservations and had questions regarding the ferry that did not get answered due to time constraints but will most likely be answered through the feasibility study or in further discussions.

Mr Guy had another function to attend in Werribee and he had already run over time, Bernard Reilly thanked him on behalf of the group for his time. It went so quick and we had so much more to discuss. To our surprise Mr Guy offered to come back and have another meeting with PCAG. He then offered to come in peak hour traffic to experience firsthand the pain we feel in trying to get out of our own suburb. We were all very pleased. We felt he clearly understood the issues of Point Cook and he gave us hope that they were working towards viable solutions. It was a positive meeting.

We are not naive and we know that we need to hold Mr Guy and his Government accountable. We can only keep pushing the transport/infrastructure issues and continue making ourselves heard.

As Mr Guy was preparing to leave I couldn’t help myself from requesting Mr Elsbury take him via “Russian Roulette”. Mr Guy looked at me a little perplex so I explained that I meant the intersection Forsyth/Old Geelong Road. A death trap by day, but without a light pole at night time it was “Russian Roulette”. As he conversed with Mr Finn about it I cheekily asked if he could tack a light pole onto his expense account, lucky for me they both had a sense of humour. Hey, can’t blame me for trying!

This meeting was a real turning point for PCAG.  Despite only being an Incorporated Association for five short months, this meeting demonstrated the level of impact we have been able to make already. We are proud not only of ourselves but of everyone involved. The residents who have taken the time to write letters, send emails, comment in the papers and on our various social media profiles, called radio stations, attended meetings, became members supporting the group financially for our campaigns and even those who just bought a hot dog at our BBQ. We all achieved this together. No matter what anyone says it was a positive start and a big win for the Residents of Point Cook.

As I write this blog post today I am even more delighted to hear the news that the Point Cook West Precinct that we lobbied so hard for as a group has not been approved for development as a new suburb as part of the announcement that Matthew Guy made today. He was due to announce 6-8 new suburbs, with Point Cook West rumoured to be one of them. Matthew Guy seems to have stood by his word and Point Cook West has not been approved for development (at this time). It is equally pleasing to see that Matthew Guy is standing by the commitment he made in our meeting regarding the need to provide infrastructure prior to releasing more land for development in Point Cook.

This is a direct result of Point Cook residents fighting hard to ensure our community is developed in a sustainable manner. On behalf of PCAG, I would like to thank all those involved.

A Purpose Built Fenced Off-Lead Dog Facility To Be Built In Point Cook

We all know the bigger issues that the residents of Point Cook are actively campaigning for, schools & roads etc, but there is one facility that doesn’t rate much of a mention, unless you are an animal lover and dog owner.

There are too many reports of “vicious” dog attacks in the news. Socialising your dog is part of being a responsible dog owner and can assist in reducing these types of attacks. Dogs need to learn what behaviour is acceptable, similarly to children, and off lead play is the only way that they can do this successfully.

Go anywhere in Victoria, and the facilities for dog owners and their charges are fabulous. From open stretches of beach on the Mornington Peninsula, to fenced doggy havens in the west, there are so many fabulous areas for people to exercise and socialise their animals off lead.

It wasn’t until I got involved with Fostering and Dog Rescue that I realised there were no suitable facilities in Point Cook.

Some of the dogs I have fostered to date have not had the opportunity to be around other dogs, and learn to play. Along with teaching the dog manners (e.g. sit, stay, etc) this is an essential part of the fostering process in order to find them a suitable new home. With this in mind, it made my job very difficult to get these dogs to an acceptable standard for rehoming without the facilities available.

There was a space put aside at Skeleton Creek, however due to its condition and location, I was taking my charges to Hobsons Bay or the back of Werribee in order to meet likeminded people for off lead play.

Skeleton Creek is unsuitable for the following reasons:

  • Floods in winter
  • Snakes in summer
  • Known dumping ground for rubbish
  • No bins or facilities
  • No fencing
  • Too close to busy roads
  • And just last week a jaw trap was set and caught a fox that later needed to be euthanised

Over the last 12 months, myself & the PCAG have campaigned heavily for a suitable off-lead area in Point Cook.

Submissions were made to Council in the latter half of last year for the 2012/13 budget for inclusion of a purpose built off lead area that would be secure and contain the facilities needed for its use.

In the December Council meeting it was determined that Alamanda Oval, a pre existing facility, would be used as a trial off lead area. We took this as being immediately available, and started using it as such.

A group of up to 30 residents were gathering up at the oval of an evening after the footballers had finished training to let their dogs exercise and socialise. Tips and hints of products and training for dogs were swapped and a little community was born. Unfortunately after about three months we were notified that the trial had not yet in fact commenced and would be subject to public input, with notification of the outcome presented in May. As a result, we were to cease use immediately. This was devastating to the dog owners of Point Cook, especially those who had begun to build friendships. Since then, we have not had a location in Point Cook to gather, which by all reports has made a massive difference to animal behaviour!

However we are pleased to announce that as a result of submissions to the Council for the 2012/13 budget and individual letters to Council from residents explaining their issues, needs and desires, Point Cook will be getting a purpose built off-lead area with fencing, seats, trees, drinking facilities, bins and bags.

Around $92,000 will be spent on this project and will be located in the Saltwater Reserve part of Point Cook Road. The benefits of this being a purpose built facility means that there should be no tension between dog owners and non dog owners about the use of the area.

We have requested Council forward a map that outlines where the oval will be located and the facilities to be provided.

Further to this announcement, it has been determined that the Alamanda sports oval on Prudence Parade will be opened up as an off lead area on a 12 month trial basis between 6am to 3pm Monday to Friday. Signs will be erected and bins/bags put in.

The hours are obviously not ideal for most residents as they outside Point Cook during these times, so it is recommended people with any further suggestions or queries send them to council for further consideration. Residents have until the 11th June to make their opinions known.

The Point Cook Action Group is very excited by this development as it shows that persistence for a local cause will pay off in the end. We hope to inform the residents as to the progress of this area as we are notified.

Feel free to share below why you think an off-lead dog area in Point Cook will be great for our community.