Local, Independant and Effective

News from 117 Murphy Street, June 20, 2014

Posted June 20, 2014



The Arts headlines this week’s edition of News from 117 Murphy Street.

Youth mental health was ‘centre stage’ in Canberra thanks to a compelling performance from talented young students in Wodonga’s HighWater Theatre. As a co-convenor of Parliamentary Friends of Youth Mental Health (PFYMH), Cathy invited the theatre group to perform at Old Parliament House.

About 50 people packed the venue to watch Mindfields…Burns Too Bright on Wednesday afternoon and the feedback has been fantastic. The play delivered strong and confronting messages about the mental health issues youth deal with on a daily basis.

With statistics out this week saying one in five youth suffer mental health problems, Cathy and the PFYMN are keen to highlight to their colleagues more support is needed, especially in rural and regional areas.

Clive Palmer was one of Cathy’s colleagues who accepted an invitation to watch the play, and in a kind gesture, organised for the performers to hitch a ride in his Rolls Royce! Yesterday, the HWT group met with Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, with the students appealing to him to remember non-mainstream schools in the Government’s plan for education. The two songs the students sang will leave a lasting impression and Mr Pyne takes their advice on board.

Cathy started the week with a Grievance Debate on a topic many consider a major grievance in Indi: the state of the rail service along the Wodonga-Melbourne line. Punctuality of V/Line trains along the line is slowly improving, but more needs to be done to lift the service to a standard of Indi’s cousins in the southern part of the state.

Cathy called on the Victorian Government to commit further funding to improve the train service and questioned why the Wodonga-Melbourne line had not been included in the 2014-15 State Budget. $40 million was allocated to help install WiFi and lift mobile phone coverage, yet North East Victoria missed out. Cathy also asked Australian Rail Track Corporation to let the public know when works would be completed on the line.

The full extent of how the de-regulation of university fees will affect rural and regional students is not yet known. But predictions are they will be disadvantaged under the new system. Cathy used Question Time yesterday to ask the Government whether Commonwealth Scholarships, a new initiative, could be pooled and distributed to students on a needs basis. While Mr Pyne’s response did not answer the question, Cathy will seek further information from his office to determine whether this can be achieved to relieve pressure from rural families with teens wanting to study. 

Council representatives from Indi beat a path to Canberra this week for the National Assembly of Local Government. Councillors from Alpine and Moira shires and Wodonga City Council met with Cathy to discuss issues facing local government, including Regional Development Funding and Financial Assistance Grants. Cuts to Federal Government funding for councils have them concerned that they will have little choice but to increase rates.

Cathy also delivered four 90-second statements this week: praising the King Valley Art Show organisers and general community; the Alexandra Truck, Rod & Ute Show and Alexandra Quilters; and former Wodonga mayor Mark Byatt and CEO Patience Harrington for their work driving Regional Capitals Australia, and HWT students and everyone involved in the performance of Mindfields…Burns Too Bright

This morning Cathy was thrilled with the portrait local artist MariJana van Zanten has created for the 2014 Archibald Prize. Four sittings in as many months were needed to complete the work, which is headed to Sydney next week. MariJana’s inspiration came from a photo taken in Yackandandah from a balcony in Station Street. Painted in oil on Belgium linen, the work encapsulates Indi, community and inclusiveness in the ‘Cathy McGowan Pose’.

The Arts scene is really important in Indi and we’re blessed to have such creative artists, including some who are internationally acclaimed. Cathy is delighted MariJana will get national recognition at the Archibald and all Indi’s creative energy goes with her to Sydney.

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