Friendship and ‘visitors’

Australian Red Cross is providing social companionship and friendship for older people through its Community Visitors Scheme.

The Community Visitors Scheme is a free program where volunteers are matched with an older person for social companionship and friendship on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

During COVID-19 restrictions the program has transitioned to phone calls, cards, letters and video calls, until it is safe to resume face-to-face visiting. Participants and their volunteers might have a cuppa, do puzzles together, reminisce or otherwise enjoy each other’s company.

The Community Visitors Scheme is available to older people who are living in a public aged care facility or receiving a home care package. It is an initiative of the Australian Government.

If you are interested in volunteer with the program or would like to know more about receiving a volunteer, email

Spring delight in flowering fruit trees

Nothing says spring more loudly than the sight of a flowering fruit tree – all that lovely blossom with the promise of freshly picked fruit.

But what do you do if you don’t have room for a fruit tree? They do take up a lot of space and even though they do look great in the garden, they also give you heaps of leaves to clean up in autumn. The answer is a miniature tree.

These trees can be planted in the garden or grown in large pot. I have two – a peach tree in the garden that is 35 years old and stands 1.2 metres high which yielded about 50 peaches last year, and a pear growing in a pot which yielded two pears in its first year. I have high hopes of more this year.

A little extra care is needed to ensure they don’t dry out and monthly feeding of a liquid fertilizer will ensure a happy result when the fruit crop comes in. If you’re not sure where to site them in your garden, they are easily moved to that particular spot where they look at home. A special benefit is that if you are renting you can take them with you.

Tomatoes are always the subject of discussion in my house at this time of year – what type, height and size of the crop we want to try. If growing from seed they should be planted now to have healthy seedlings ready for planting out in November, the popular idea being that Melbourne Cup day is the ideal time.

I don’t suppose the tomatoes will object if the Melbourne Cup is not actually run, but the soil should be warmed up a little by then and this will give your plants a good start. Staggering the planting time with a two-week break between plantings will see you with a continuous supply during the summer months instead of having them all coming in at the same time.

If growing the taller varieties, placing the stakes or other supports in place when planting the seedlings will prevent root disturbance which will affect their progress. Leave at least one metre between plants (I prefer a little more) which helps prevent overcrowding and transmission of disease. It also makes it easier to pick your fruit and to control weeds around the base of the plant.

Plants need fertilizing on a regular basis with either granular or liquid types and if you are short on space you can also grow these in pots if you take a little extra care of them.

Happy gardening,


Students name the crane

Young Northern Bay College students have helped name the crane being used on the GMHBA rebuild site in the Geelong CBD.

The new building is rising out of a hole in the ground at the corner of Corio and Moorabool streets, where the large crane is rising high into the sky.

Kane Builders, Quintessential developers and GMHBA recognised that naming cranes is a great community initiative and invited Northern Bay College students to take on the task.

All of the college’s Prep and Kindergarten children across the five college campuses – all 170 of them – were given the opportunity to colour a drawing of the crane and then give it a name. All of the names were then sent off and a winner was chosen by a panel representing the three major stakeholders. 

The children don’t yet know who won the naming rights, but one day in September the lucky youngster will be invited to visit the site, look at the crane up close and have a picture taken with ‘their’ crane. The icing on the cake will be a prize for the College’s Family Learning Centre to say thank you for participating in the naming project.

Walking for community impact

Norlane resident Ben Le Fevre has completed a significant personal challenge to honour lost loved ones, raise money and awareness of suicide prevention activities in Geelong.

As well as playing a key role in the annual Geelong Suicide Prevention Awareness Network (SPAN) walk this month, during July he walked 200 kilometres on his way to raising $2791 for RUOK?

The RUOK? event raised money to help provide counselling in remote areas and develop programs for schools and workplaces about how to ask RUOK? and know how to follow up if the answer is no.

The 200 kilometres, about six kilometres a day, were at night and mostly alone. Sponsors supported his effort and contributed to his fundraising result, which exceeded his original goal of $1000.

“I decided to do the kilometres at night because my loved ones were in a dark place at the time,” he said. “I also carried a weighted bag, because I know they would have been carrying a lot of emotions with them.”

Ben, 26, is a Geelong SPAN committee member and has joined its annual walk since it began in 2010. Ben has lost six loved ones to suicide since 2008 and joined SPAN to get support for himself.

“I then realised that Geelong still had an issue with suicide and depression being a taboo subject,” he said. “I wanted to help raise awareness.”

The traditional SPAN walk was replaced by a virtual walk on September 13, with Ben providing a welcome to participants via a Facebook live feed. He said the walk helps dismantle the stigma around the taboo subject and is a safe place to talk about loved ones lost to suicide.

Ben said he has experienced depression himself and knows what a merry-go-round it can be. He wants everyone to have access to support when they need it most.

If you or someone you know needs help phone, Lifeline on 131-114 or Beyond Blue on 1300-224-636. You can support SPAN Geelong by going to its website

Fiona recognised for caring

MatchWorks Corio site manager Fiona McIntyre has been recognised for an important role she plays outside of her work. Earlier this year, Fiona was crowned the 2020 Lady of Racing for her work in retraining and rehoming former racehorses.

The award is run by The Victorian Wakeful Club in partnership with Racing Victoria and aims to celebrate women who have made an outstanding contribution to the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries.

Fiona has several former champions of racing in her care, but it was her work with two former champions that set her apart in the award. She looks after Bart Cummings’ former grand stayer Precedence, who competed in four Melbourne Cups and won two Moonee Valley Cups.

Precedence and Fiona have competed in the past two Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout events held during the Melbourne Show and widely recognised as the pinnacle of the horse showing world. Another of Bart Cummings’ former stars, Sirmione, is also in Fiona’s care and has also had a successful equestrian career.

RV CEO Giles Thompson said Fiona was a very worthy winner.

“Fiona has long been an advocate for life after racing, and has worked tirelessly to ensure former racehorses lead happy and healthy lives once they have left the track,” he said.

“We are very fortunate to have Fiona as one of the RV Acknowledged Re-trainers who support our Off The Track program, which aims to facilitate the placement of retired racehorses in secondary careers and drive demand for thoroughbreds as performance and pleasure horses.”

Fiona said was honoured to receive the award for doing something she loves.

Anis rewarded for leadership

Northern suburbs resident Anis Gul Mohammad Ali has worked hard to achieve many things in her 24 years. She continues to work hard and study, and has been rewarded for her commitment to also helping others.

In late July, Anis was honoured as the Leadership category winner in the City of Greater Geelong 2020 Youth Awards for her academic achievements and contributions as a community volunteer.

Anis was born in Afghanistan and migrated with her family to Pakistan when she was one year old. When they arrived in Australia in 2013, Anis knew little English but was determined to make the most of the opportunities her new home offered.

When she first enrolled at Northern Bay College she completed a six-month English language class, which she credits for learning foundation English. “I was also watching TED talks and YouTube videos to improve my English,” she said.  “I was up late every night.”

Driven by her passion to one day become a doctor, Anis worked hard to ensure her English skills were at a level that allowed her to progress to VCE studies. She achieved her VCE with the highest ATAR score at Northern Bay College.

“From a young age I dreamed of becoming a doctor and that’s what motivated me to keep going. I have to overcome some struggles – learning English was my first challenge – but I got into VCE and then did very well.”

Anis said her mother Gulsoom remains her greatest supporter. “She just wants me to do well and still cooks and cleans and just lets me study,” she said.

Anis enrolled at Deakin University in 2016 to study biomedicine. At the same time, she studied nursing at The Gordon and is currently working at St John of God Hospital. She will complete her biomedicine degree this year and then take a ‘gap’ year in 2021 when she will “just work, not work and study”. Her goal is to be accepted into medicine at Deakin in 2022, for four more years of study towards becoming a doctor.

Anis is an advocate for young refugee women in the northern suburbs, assisting with the integration of refugees into the Geelong lifestyle. In the little time she has free, Anis is also volunteering at Diversitat, Pako Festa, The fOrT Youth Centre and other multicultural events in the northern suburbs.

“I have been so welcomed since I came here and have had amazing people around me,” she said. “Now I try to do as much to help others in any way, to guide them.”

Help is a phone call away

Bethany Community Support has launched a new program to support people as they work through impacts of COVID-19. These include sudden loss of income and jobs, social distancing, working from home and daily messaging in the media that can increase levels of stress and anxiety. 

Sometimes you just need someone to talk to. The Bethany COVID-19 Support Line – 1300-655-598 – is a new and easy pathway to speak with a trained counsellor. 

Bethany’s support services include the provision of emergency relief to help those who are struggling to cope with financial stress, support for individuals and families including therapeutic counselling, family support and housing services, occupational therapists and speech pathologists to assist with your NDIS journey and support for gambling-related harm.

Bethany is committed to supporting the community and has adapted the way staff deliver all of their services, which are now effectively delivered over the phone; online via secure video conference or video calls; or in person with strict precautions to manage safety.

Therapists can also invite carers, support co-ordinators, language interpreters and any other people the participant would like to include in the session.

Bethany COVID-19 Support Line counsellors will listen, provide support, advice and helpful strategies as well as guide you to services that might be useful for your particular situation.

No problem is too big or small.

If you, or someone you know needs someone to talk to, call the Bethany COVID-19 Support Line on 1300-655-598, from Monday to Friday, 10am-3pm.

Lions Club’s community projects

Corio Norlane Lions Club has gone from strength to strength since it chartered in April 2012 with 28 original members.

The club’s major projects are:

  • Donating more than 750 computers to families and students in the last nine years.
  • Donating more than 2400 bikes to families and students.
  • Collecting winter clothes and hygiene items and donating them to those experiencing homelessness.
  • Running the Op Shop in Alkira Avenue, where volunteers also provide food parcels to the needy.
  • The Op Shop providing Work For The Dole program opportunities for 16 weeks.
  • Providing clothing and utensils to people referred by organisations.

Lions Clubs around the world support their local communities in any way that will improve it.

Community members who have projects they would like to pursue but need help with, are encouraged to contact Corio Norlane Lions.

The club is also keen to welcome new members, so if you feel you can make a difference to the local community, contact Richard Walter, phone 0402-409-895 or email

Keeping active at home

The City of Greater Geelong has put together a health and wellbeing resource to help residents create and live a healthy lifestyle, particularly in times of isolation.

Healthy at Home shares a range of ideas that can be easily adopted, like nutritious recipes, mental health support, information about positive relationships and tips for keeping active at home.

Increasing your daily activity can come from small movements around the house that build up throughout the day. Cleaning and doing laundry, working in the garden, or trying some stretches during TV ad breaks all count.

Aiming for a little more movement whenever, wherever and however you can, is a great way to boost your physical and mental health.

Mayor Stephanie Asher said the Healthy at Home toolkit has been designed to help people support the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families.

“It can be a difficult balance, juggling this new way of living, supporting others’ wellbeing and trying to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep yourself” she said. “The toolkit features a lot of very helpful information and practical tools.”

Cr Pat Murnane, Chair Community Health, Wellbeing and Safety portfolio is encouraging residents to check out the toolkit, as there’s something for everyone.

“There are tips on sleeping well, mindfulness exercises, links to online fitness classes, recipes for delicious infused water, and even a meal planning template and sample shopping list,” Cr Murnane said.

Find the Healthy at Home toolkit at

Residents without access to the internet can register for a printed toolkit by phoning 5272-5272.

Spirit of Tasmania base in Geelong

Geelong’s northern suburbs will become the Victorian home of the Spirit of Tasmania in 2022.

GeelongPort has reached agreement with TT-Line Company Pty Ltd to relocate the Victorian port home of the Spirit of Tasmania vessels, from Station Pier at Port Melbourne to Corio Quay. The project is an important investment in regional Australia, which will increase freight and exports for Victoria and jobs and tourism in regional Victoria.

GeelongPort CEO Brett Winter said that the deal with TT-Line will create major economic, employment and tourism opportunities for Geelong, the Bellarine and the wider G21 region. 

“Bringing the iconic Spirit of Tasmania vessels to GeelongPort is a huge coup for the Geelong region. Each year over 450,000 passengers and 105,000 twenty–foot equivalent units of freight sail with Spirit of Tasmania” he said.

“Now more than ever, opportunities to inject new jobs and economic growth into the greater Geelong region are crucial. Working with our key stakeholders, we need to streamline our planning approvals so that this important project will be ready for 2022”.  

The project is expected to generate up to 75 construction jobs over the two-year build program, while increasing tourism expenditure in the greater Geelong region by up to $174.1 million by 2029. In addition, there will be a number of new opportunities for regional hospitality, agribusiness, and logistics services.  

The new 12-hectare dedicated site will include a purpose-built passenger terminal building, a passenger vehicle marshalling area for 600 cars, more efficient passenger vehicle check-in, security facilities, public amenities, crew accommodation, a cafe, children’s play area and a pet exercise area.