Online Insights on FIVEaa Sunday November 07 2010

November 7, 2010

This month we give one last hurrah to the local government elections closing soon in South Australia, listen to the voice of the River Murray, give our dogs a dementia test and ogle over some Adelaide sunsets. 

Local government elections

Campbelltown Mayor, Simon Brewer, at the Black Hill Challenge
Campbelltown Mayor, Simon Brewer, at the Black Hill Challenge


A few weeks ago I was asked by my father-in-law who is also president of the local Lions club if I would volunteer as a timekeeper for the Black Hill Challenge – a footrace attracting a few hundred competitors to Black Hill Reserve and the nearby Thorndon Park Reserve. 

As fate would have it, a fellow volunteer was the current Mayor of Campbelltown, Simon Brewer. Having been asked to give advice and/or support a number of candidates in the Adelaide City Council and Burnside Council elections, I was keen to ask Simon about his campaign and whether or not he was using social networking sites as part of his push. It turns out he is and he pointed out that there were many other mayoral candidates doing the same. 

During our discussion I opined about my hitherto lack of interest in local government issues. I don’t read the local Messenger newspaper because it seems full of the usual staged stories of shots of residents holding certificates or vox pops of people complaining about the weather or tributes to a local who came fifth in a macrame competition or tabloidesque attempt to turn local coverage of council happenings into the incredulous “shock horror” stories you would expect from Britain’s notorious The Sun. All stories of merit for the people involved but of no seeming value to me. 

But Simon was able to talk about some important threats to the amenity of neighbourhood and challenges faced by council to keep providing services that matter. One example was Thorndon Park itself. This park should be one of South Australia’s proudest stories – a reservoir decommissioned then resurrected into an attractive, broadly-appealing park used by toddlers, children, families and seniors. However, a portion of the park area which remains in a fairly natural state is being eyed off by the state government to swallow into housing despite the cost to lifestyle that this vital oasis of water and grass and shade affords residents and visitors alike. Indeed, again we see a government wanting to take claim for South Australia boasting a positive lifestyle experience but the moment there is money to be made the same people (ministers and faceless bureaucrats) will trash the very assets providing this lifestyle for a quick buck. 

Simon gave some great insights into work being done behind the scenes to protect this heritage and suddenly, in this one story alone, I felt the immediacy of local issues and the swelling of passion that drives one to get involved in public service (not The Public Service – that is a different story). 

So I wonder if you are actively attuned to issues in your local area and whether you have taken action or committed to a long, steadily-paced task to right a wrong or create positive change. And moreso, what was it that made you take this action. For me, I confessed to Simon that in the case of Thorndon Park which my daughter loves passionately, it is a case of my vested interest being in harmony with council’s. Maybe that’s the key: the more you partake of local services the more interest you develop in their protection. 

To help you vote, I have a link to the LGA list of candidates. My advice is to select “council” from the dropdown list in the search box on this page, then search for your council. It will list candidates in a more orderly and helpful function, separated by mayor and wards. Remember to post back your ballot by Tuesday (November 9, 2010) to make this Friday’s deadline. Then you can feel like you’ve done your part for your community! 

The River Murray story

The River Murray is in the news a lot lately, with new plans for its management and reports on floodwaters bringing a little relief from drought. 

Meanwhile, at Adelaide Zoo, a new audio tour has been launched that gives you a chance to have the river itself guide you around the zoo, pointing out its significance in the life of various animals, birds, fish and plants. 

I know about this tour because I was asked to write the script and be the voice of Murray River, on behalf of the zoo and the University of Adelaide’s, Environment Institute. Here is a wee taste. 


Powered by 

You can download the whole Water Is Life series as a zip file – there are about 15 tracks in all – from the Adelaide Zoo website, so you can load them into your favourite MP3 player and enrich your next visit to the zoo. 

Doggy dementia

Stateline ran a story last week about research into dementia in dogs. The cause, it seems, is similar to the cause in humans but the reason we are noticing it more is because both dogs and humans are living longer. 

There was talk of an online survey being created but it doesn’t seem to be live yet. In the meantime, the researchers involved, at the University of Sydney, have a basic website up where you can take a general survey about your dog and, I imagine, learn more about the online test when it is ready. 

Some of the key points to help you determine whether your dog is suffering or showing signs of demential, are: 

  • loss of housetraining or other learned behaviours
  • restless and vocalisations for no apparent reason
  • sleeping during the day and being awake and restless at night
  • wandering aimlessly and repetative behaviours such as pacing or circling
  • aggression
  • getting lost in familiar surrounds, particularly, facing the hinge side of a door to be let out
  • change in eating or drinking patterns
  • failure to recognise familiar people or pets
  • Visit the doggy dementia website and see for yourself. 

    Adelaide sunsets

    I always enjoy a good sunset and I stumbled across a Facebook page last week in which Adelaideans are invited to upload photos of sunsets from this town. 

    There are only a few there at the moment and the page might or might not grow, but if you want somewhere to share your Adelaide sunset pics, this Facebook page could be the place. 

    Look at the sunsets on Facebook to date.