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Lismore News

Photo essay on Lismore’s flood survivors is Sydney bound

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Photo essay on Lismore’s flood survivors is Sydney bound

 LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin has arranged for some of award-winning photojournalist   Jacklyn Wagner’s stunning portraits of the city’s flood survivors to be displayed at NSW Parliament House next month.

The exhibition, ‘Through the heart … a flood of fears and tears’, which could be described as Wagner’s love letter to Lismore and its resilient spirit, will be opened by Ms Saffin in Sydney on 8 November and runs until 24 November.

Ms Saffin said she is thrilled that 25 portraits from a much larger body of work – 100 images taken in local homes during the mud army’s post-flood clean-up – will be showcased in the halls of Parliament.

“This exhibition will keep the issue of flood recovery in the spotlight because there is still so much to do in ‘building back better’ and it documents a tragic event in our history with great empathy and sensitivity,” Ms Saffin said.

Ms Saffin thanked NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and NSW Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin MLC for taking a personal interest in the community-led project and supporting the exhibition.

Jacklyn Wagner, a former chief photographer at The Northern Star and photographer for the Our Kids calendar (now in its 21st year), described her photo essay as an organic project which grew out of the adrenalin-filled weeks following the February 28 flood.

“I carried just one camera, one lens, a notepad and pen, and I thank all the people who welcomed me into their homes, 90 per cent of which had never flooded, and who shared their personal stories,” Wagner said.

“It’s been a labour of love for me and local writer Jennie Dell, who is helping me with editing the captions for the photographs and penning an introduction for the exhibition itself.

“I’m grateful to Janelle Saffin; she really is a pocket rocket when you want to get something done, and to the Premier for responding so genuinely to the photographs; I could tell by reading his letter to me that he’d really looked at them.

“It is hoped that sometime next year we will be able to exhibit all 100 images at Parliament House.”

Local businesses assisting Wagner mount the upcoming exhibition include Jon Paterson owner of The New Camera House (printing); Rhonda Armistead of Armistead’s Quality Framing (framing); Soren Hjorth of Grafiti Design Studio (graphic design); and Chas Glover (art installer). All were slammed by the floods but are rebuilding their businesses.

Below are captions for three photographs to accompany this media release and a backgrounder, About the collection by Jacklyn Wagner:

FROM THE HEART: Lismore MP Janelle Saffin introduced photojournalist Jacklyn Wagner to Premier Dominic Perrottet in State Parliament this week as Jacklyn prepares for the upcoming exhibition.

JILL Witham has lived in her South Lismore home for six years.

 “I was rescued from my neighbours’ roof from where I watched my own home go under”.  Photo: Jacklyn Wagner

SIMON Robinson lives in South Lismore. A collector of fine art and vintage wares specialising in fine paper, books and fabric, Simon lost ninety percent of his collection.

“I thought we were doomed, and I rang a friend to say goodbye. I dropped my phone in the water after my last goodbye phone call”.

Simon remembered a gable at the front of the house and from there hours later was rescue by two civilians in a boat.

 About the collection by Jacklyn Wagner

I was not at home when disaster struck Lismore on February 28, 2022.

My daughter was expecting a baby. We were needed on the Gold Coast and had left town a few days before. We watched the catastrophic rain event in horror from afar. Our beautiful grandson Tommy was born days after the flood came up. Then we went home.

We listened to the stories of close relatives and friends, who had themselves been impacted by the dangerous, dirty waters now surrounding our town. Some told us of how they had joined the “mud army” – civilian rescuers, in any watercraft they could use, saving hundreds of townsfolk who had been at risk of their lives.

Walking and driving around the streets, I soon had a feel for what was unfolding. There was an adrenalin-like energy; hundreds of people were helping each other in countless ways.

In the back of my mind were the first stirrings of what I might do photographically. I decided I would just let it come to me. A fortnight later, I woke up one morning and knew exactly what I needed to do.

I would document the actuality of residents in their ruined surroundings, if they would let me, exactly as I found them.

I would simply ask them – people who had lost everything or saved something; people who now needed to start reclaiming their homes and lives – if I may take a picture of them. No lights, no paraphernalia – just a picture.

I knew it was important to document these moments in time, but had no thought or even concern about what might become of my work.

I didn’t know how I would be received, but many years’ professional experience as a photojournalist in this town has given me confidence. Armed with my camera and notepad, I felt fearless.

I drove to South Lismore and stopped at the first house where there was a car parked outside.

There was a woman at home. I introduced myself and told her what I was doing. I explained I had no idea what would become of this work, but that I felt it was important and would end up somewhere significant.

She welcomed me into her unliveable, flood-devastated home. She thanked me for my interest and foresight.

(That first person I photographed for the project was Suzanne Johnson, who features in the collection. Her family had lost everything, including their dogs).

From that day I drove most days to the flood-affected areas in Lismore and knocked on doors. Only once was I rejected. Between three and sixteen weeks post-flood, I covered just shy of 100 homes.

The time I spent with people was around twenty minutes. They were photographed in their home and I took notes as they talked about whatever was in their heart that day.

The words I will use to accompany the images in the exhibition will be simple, succinct and often something said by the subject of the image; a heartfelt quote.

I photographed people as I found them. Many cried, most were hurting deeply – and six months later, most still are.

I stopped photographing, 16 weeks post-flood, for two reasons: to limit the proposed exhibition to 100 images, and to capture it in a distinct bubble of time.

Those initial post-flood months now have passed. Though little has improved in our landscape, it has changed. New days are dawning, bringing new waves of hope and hopelessness.

Six weeks after the disaster I was once again having a screw removed from my tyre. I had been so often in the flood-affected areas, parking near piles of debris where there was an abundance of screws and nails from the clean-up. Along with others I became a regular at the tyre shop.

While waiting there, I received a catch-up call from my friend, Dr Chris Ingall.  I told him of my project.

Dr Ingall just happened to be hosting newly elected Lismore mayor Steve Krieg and his family at his home. Mayor Krieg had lost his family home and two businesses to the flood.

It was suggested I put some images together and give them to the Mayor, who was travelling to meet with the NSW Premier, and with the Prime Minister, to discuss the disaster.

Unable to have anything printed, or copies made, in Lismore and surrounds, because so many businesses had been destroyed, I went to Sydney.

Officeworks in Mittagong promptly printed a collection of some of the images I had done. I had three copies made: one for the Premier, one for the Prime Minister, and one for me.

I hurriedly brought them back, met with the Mayor and gave him the two copies to deliver….which he did.

The first was presented to the NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet. Some days later I received a letter from him. I knew by the wording he had really looked at the images and I could feel he was moved. He understood their importance.

I am so grateful for that letter; it gave me the determination to push ahead.

Later I also had a copy of a selection of images made for our State MP for Lismore, Janelle Saffin. We spoke at length, which helped with my vision to take the collection of images forward.

This 100-image body of work is just one aspect of the disaster that has confronted our community. I believe it is highly significant now and into the future.

It comprises a comprehensive representation of the Lismore community – long-term residents, even some third and fourth generations, homeowners, newcomers, renters, young families, artists, people with disabilities.  One thing they share is their deep love of community. The decisions that lay ahead are difficult for them, on many fronts.

I have made a group email of all the people I photographed and as promised kept everyone up to date with anything related to the images. I have full records of individual subjects with their addresses and contact details.

This data will become vital and fascinating information that will allow for future follow-ups, to see what has become of those one hundred individuals, their homes, streets and communities.

The project was gentle, the participants have shown such courage and for that I really thank them.

I hope this can be an exhibition that makes them realise that through my images they will never be forgotten.

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Lismore News

Terania Street Reopening to Light Vehicles Only

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Terania Street Reopening to Light Vehicles Only

 

After a closure lasting over four months, Terania Street in Lismore is set to reopen to light vehicles starting from late Friday 21 June, pending favourable weather conditions. This reopening follows the implementation of traffic calming measures aimed at preventing further damage to the rail-over-road bridge caused by oversized vehicles.

  • Traffic Calming Measures:
    • New measures include speed humps, a reduced speed limit of 25 km/h, restricted lane width, traffic islands, and surveillance cameras. These are designed specifically to slow down light vehicles and restrict heavy vehicles (over 4.5 tonnes) from using Terania Street near the rail bridge.
  • Purpose of Measures:
    • The installation aims to prevent future damage to the bridge, which necessitated its closure between Tweed and Peate streets since February 7.
  • Community Impact and Appreciation:
    • Transport for NSW, through Director Region North Anna Zycki, expressed gratitude to residents and businesses for their patience during the closure period. They continue to work towards a permanent solution for the bridge’s sustainability.
  • Heavy Vehicle Detour:
    • Heavy vehicles are advised to use a detour via Wilson Street, Elliott Road, and Ballina Road until further notice. Residents needing access to or from Peate Street should detour via Pine, Crane, and Tweed streets.
  • Heritage Council Approval:
    • Transport for NSW has received approval from the NSW Heritage Council to remove the Terania Street rail-over-road bridge. They are currently addressing the consent conditions and will inform the community about the commencement of this work.
  • Compliance and Safety:
    • New signage, including ‘No right turn’ signs at Peate Street, has been installed to guide vehicles and ensure compliance with the new traffic conditions.

For ongoing updates and details, residents and road users are encouraged to stay informed through Transport for NSW communications channels.

This reopening marks a significant step in restoring normal traffic flow while safeguarding the historic bridge structure from further damage caused by inappropriate vehicle use.

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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Lismore News

No early education care places in ‘childcare desert’

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Kevin Hogan with childcare participants Lismore
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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

No early education care places in ‘childcare desert’

 

By Samantha Elley

Rachael Lane and Jaclyn Pilbeam are two young mums who are finding it difficult to navigate the lack of childcare spaces in the Lismore area.

Because she was unable to find childcare for her two-year-old daughter, Sophie, Rachael does shiftwork at night, packing shelves, then takes over at home so her husband can go to work during the day.

Jaclyn was luckier in that she was able to find a place for her 13-month-old daughter, Evie,  but she had to take extreme action.

“We had our daughter Evie on a daycare (list) before she was even born,” she said.

“She is still on waiting lists, as Evie goes to daycare that is 20-30 minutes from our house.

“It’s not ideal for our family. I need to go to work. I’d love to stay at home with my children but it’s just not an option for me.”

Ms Pilbeam said the cost of living meant she had to work, but not only that, her time at work helped her as well.

“I am a better mum when I work,” she said.

“I am quite happy to send my child to daycare, although it’s not my first option. It works for me and it works for my family.

“We need those options available in our area for mums like me.”

Ms Pilbeam said that the waiting lists in Lismore for childcare is on average 200 young ones.

Isabel McLennan of The Learning Cottage in Lismore and Wollongbar confirmed the numbers.

“I’ve got 300 families on both waiting lists,” she said.

“That’s 600 children that we can’t supply places for.”

Another issue, especially since the 2022 flood, is the need for quality early childhood educators, according to Mitch Hutchinson of Kyogle Early Learning.

“To fill those spots with quality educators is also a big issue in this area,” he said.

“To attract and retain high quality early childhood teachers in the area where there’s zero rentals (and) high cost of living area is really hard for the award wages they get paid.”

The opposition is calling for the government to address the crisis for young families.

“This is a big problem across our country,” said Angie Bell, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education.

“We are looking at more flexibility and choice for regional families that currently do not have access to early learning.”

Minister Bell said the issue seemed more acute in Lismore, due to the flood crisis, but it was an issue across the country.

“There are 9 million Australians who live in a childcare desert and what that means is there are three children waiting for every place available.”

Minister Bell said the Labor government needed to step up and deliver more for regional families.

“They spent $4.7 billion on their Cheaper Childcare Bill and all they’ve delivered is zero places for regional Australians,” she said.

“Fees have gone up by 7% in less than six months and so families are paying more, which means they have to work longer hours.”

And while Minister Bell was unable to reveal the childcare policy of the Coalition, more would be revealed closer to the next election.

“What we want to see is flexibility and choice for families,” she said.

A new report from the Centre for Policy Development was released last week and it recommended bold reforms to ensure universal early education and care for all children.

Ten key reforms were suggested in the Growing Together: A future universal early childhood education and care system for Australia report.

These included  ensuring all children had access to a minimum of three days of early childhood education and care a week at low or no cost.

“Three days is perfect,” said Jaclyn.

“It feels like a happy medium. I feel like I can give more to my children.

“It’s good socialisation for the kids and you’ve still got four days with your children at zero dollar rate.”

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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Soldiers to March into Lismore: Freedom of Entry Parade

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Soldiers to March into Lismore: Freedom of Entry Parade

 

Soldiers from the esteemed 41st Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment, based in Lismore, are set to perform a stirring Freedom of Entry Parade into the heart of the Lismore CBD on Saturday, June 22nd, 2024.

Led by the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Danial Healy, the ceremonial parade will feature up to 200 soldiers from the Northern Rivers region, accompanied by a military marching band. The event will commence at 1:00 pm on Magellan Street, proceeding through the city streets before concluding at Memorial Gardens on Molesworth Street around 2:00 pm.

This symbolic procession will see the soldiers donning their full regalia, showcasing the esteemed traditions of the battalion. Superintendent Scott Tanner, the Richmond PD District commander, and Mayor of Lismore, Councillor Steve Krieg, will formally challenge the soldiers’ right of entry into the city as they halt along the route.

Lieutenant Colonel Healy emphasised the significance of exercising the battalion’s Freedom of Entry, underscoring the close ties between the soldiers and the local community. He highlighted the battalion’s pivotal role in the response to the 2022 floods, reaffirming their commitment to serving the community.

The Freedom of Entry Parade holds historical significance, rooted in military tradition and medieval history. It represents the highest honour bestowed upon the Australian Defence Force by a city, symbolizing the enduring bond between the military and the local community.

The parade not only serves as a ceremonial spectacle but also as an opportunity for the soldiers to deepen their connections with the City of Lismore. As a prelude to the lantern parade, this event promises to be a captivating display of unity and respect, commemorating the rich heritage of the 41st Battalion.

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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