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,


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.”

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

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.

Scouts and Cubs ready for return

Norlane West Scout Group continued to operate during COVID-19 restrictions and is preparing for a return to halls at the start of Term 3.

Group Leader Kim Brian said Scouting across Victoria has been active online since the last week of Term 1, with weekly – and in some cases twice-weekly – online meetings for more than 20,000 young people.

“We believe Victorian families – especially young people – need support at this time,” Kim said.  “Many young people are missing the social interaction they enjoyed through school and sport, but Scouting can fill the gap.”

Kim said volunteer leaders and youth members are running online meetings. They have also participated in a state-wide sleepover with 2000 Joeys Scouts (aged 5-7) and held an overnight backyard camp with the Cubs and Scouts all connected online.

Work has also continued to raise funds online through the annual Scout Monster Raffle, while also planning for a return to outdoor Scouting.

“It is a great time for new families to check out Scouting as Scouts Victoria has scrapped membership fees till March 31 next year to support Scouting families in 400 communities across the State,” Kim said. “Families will still need to purchase uniform items and pay for any camps and excursions their children participate in. 

“We recognise that many families will be financially affected, or suffering stress or uncertainty, so we want to do our bit to support families at this critical time.

Email membership inquiries to  or go to For more information Kim Brian, phone 0425-783-995

Gardening with Batty Betty

After an unpredictable summer, it’s a pleasure to get out in the garden on a warm but not hot day, and to have Mother Nature providing the watering system. The work and planning you do now will provide the groundwork for the coming year.

Perennial plants are the gardener’s friend as they provide lovely displays for years on end with little work required to keep them at their best. There are two kinds, those that lose their leaves every year and those that are evergreen.

The main thing they have in common is that they keep multiplying and getting bigger. They need attention at this time of the year and by dividing them you get more plants for either your garden or to give to other happy gardeners. Who can resist a freebie?

By digging and dividing the plants you keep them at manageable sizes and ensure that they will keep flowering. Prune all the visible foliage to just above ground level and make sure that the soil is moist before digging them out.

Plan to dig them out either early in the morning or late in the day so they don’t dry out; this reduces stress on the plant. Cut them into sections (or some can be pulled apart by hand) before replanting them in the garden. If you’re not sure where they are to go, put them in pots to plant at a later date or to give away.

Your roses need to be dead-headed, which will encourage the plants to flower more freely.  Shrubs such as lavender and buddleia need to be trimmed and shaped, and new trees and shrubs are best planted during the coming months when there is less likelihood of stress to the plants.

Bulbs for your spring display should be planted over the coming months, with a staggered planting to ensure a continuous flowering period. Check your local nursery to see what seedlings are available and choose your colour scheme for the coming spring.

In the vegetable garden

Now you need to dig the vegetable garden over prior to planting the new season’s crops, but there is a problem. What on earth do you do with those green tomatoes left on the plants that never seem to ripen?

One answer is to place them in a paper bag or cardboard box and store in a warm, dark spot. The trapped ethylene gas they give off will turn them red. To speed up the process, include a ripening banana. Just don’t forget to check on them every couple of days or you may get a nasty surprise instead of the lovely red tomatoes you expect.

This season is a vegetable planting bonanza with seeds for beetroot, carrots, parsnips, radishes, turnips and swede due to go in and seedlings for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choi/pak choi,

cabbage, cauliflower, celery, coriander, fennel, herbs (all except basil), kale, lettuce, peas, rocket, silverbeet, spinach, spring onions and strawberries. Garlic bulbs may also be planted now – just plant them in a drier spot so they don’t get them too wet and go mouldy.

Norlane is blooming

Norlane residents Lorraine Miller and Carolyn Slevin have featured in the annual state-wide Victoria in Bloom competition.Victoria in Bloom recognises and celebrates the gardens of public and community housing tenants.  It is an opportunity for tenants to showcase their gardens, and to celebrate the work they do to create brighter neighbourhoods for all Victorian residents.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Barwon Area, had 16 entrants in the 2019-20 competition with four winners and five commendations, who were awarded their certificates at the Barwon Awards Ceremony in early March.

Lorraine Miller was highly commended in the Best Edible Garden category and Carolyn Slevin was highly commended in the Best Creative Garden.

Lorraine has been gardening at her Norlane property for 45 years, producing more than 20 varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs to share with family and friends – she used a lot of her produce for Christmas dinner last year.

Carolyn has created an ‘imagination garden’ in the backyard of her Norlane unit.  Her low-maintenance garden provides a space where Carolyn feels grateful and relaxed.

If you are a public or community housing tenant and interested in finding out more about Victoria in Bloom, or would like to register your interest for the 2020-21 competition, which will open in October, email

Leadership role for Farzana

Corio’s Farzana Hussaini has been elected as the City of Greater Geelong’s second Junior Mayor. 

Farzana, 15, is one of three Windermere Ward youth councillors and was voted to become Junior Mayor by her fellow Youth Council members.  Kardinia Ward representative Ashley Delaney, 15, is serving alongside Farzana as Junior Deputy Mayor. 

Farzana is a Year 9 student at Northern Bay College and this is her first experience as a youth councillor.  She said the skills she brings to the Youth Council are communication, being good at listening and critical and creative thinker.

The 12 young people, aged 12-17, were inducted to the Youth Council after their selection and will serve as an official ‘youth voice’ for City of Greater Geelong council.  The other Windermere Ward junior councillors are Carmen MacLeod and Logan Chandler.

The Youth Council meets once a month at City Hall to discuss priorities including social and community connections, mental health and wellbeing, and capability; such as skill development, education and employment. 

As Junior Mayor, Farzana will appear before the Council on a quarterly basis during 2020, to present the Youth Council’s findings and recommendations.  Mayoral duties also include chairing all meetings, representing the Youth Council at official functions, and acting as the group’s spokesperson.

In 2019 the Junior Council successfully presented four reports to the Council, including recommendations for the City’s new Civic Precinct, and improvements to the region’s bike lanes and network.

Volunteers playing an important role

Have you ever wondered about who is responsible what happens at our local Neighbourhood Houses? Volunteer community members play an important role as members of the Board or Committee of Management.

These are people with an interest or passion for their centre and a desire to contribute to their running. They are also community members who want to share their positive experiences with others.

Committee of Management or Board members set the direction of the organisation, then work closely with the centre staff to put their plans into action. Participation can be rewarding and enjoyable – it also provides good experience for other parts of life, such as work or other community service.

The current Norlane Community Centre board comprises Adam Fratantaro as the new Chair, Sandra Anderson (Secretary), Krystine Canny-Smith (Treasurer), Monique Hurley, Naomi Furlong, Stefan Manche and Bruce Warner.

Norlane co-coordinator Esther Konings-Oakes said there is room for more general members to come on board. “We are also looking for an experienced bookkeeper or accountant to take over from Krystine,” she said.

At Cloverdale Community Centre the committee of management has undergone quite a change in recent years.  Kellie Spark is in her first year as Chair and is supported by Steve Taylor (Deputy Chair), Mary Budd (Secretary), Peter Jewell (Treasurer), Dianne Johnston, Samuel Johnson, Matthew Pavelis and Helen Smith.

For more information about the Board and Committee of Management roles, call Cloverdale Community Centre, phone 5275-4415 or Norlane Community centre, phone 5275-8124.