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The Chinese New Year Spectacular


Chinese Spectacular
By Songfa Liu
The NTDTV Chinese New Year Spectacular, which showed in Canberra Theatre on March 20 and 21, has completed its Australian tour for 12 shows in 5 cities but the interest in traditional Chinese culture is just beginning.
Produced by the New York based independent Chinese television network, New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV), the Spectacular combined dance, music and song to present popular myths and legends from ancient Chinese culture including those from Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
Mr Zhong Lee, president of NTDTV, said China has a 5000 year history and NTDTV’s aim in producing this show was to facilitate a renaissance of traditional Chinese culture through its art forms and folklore.
The interest for such culture is certainly there in Canberra as evident in the two full house shows in Canberra including an extra show added due to popular demand.
Despite the luxuriance of colour and splendid costuming in the dance scenes, the stage setting remained largely minimal with colour and variety provided by clever use of digitally animated backdrops. This was not a big budget operation but the excellent combination of beautiful traditional costumes and scenes, digitally mastered animation, stories that promote honesty, goodness and loyalty, and fascinating dancing has produced a memorable subtle entertainment of tremendous creativity and depth of feeling.
Helen Musa, arts editor of the Canberra Times, said she was captivated by the show and there was something in it for everyone. Ms Musa said you “can’t go past the costuming and dancing in the show” but acknowledged that she found the Buddhist influence in the Spectacular “extremely interesting”.
Ms Musa said she understood that the show touched on many different levels and said for her it had been most effective. “Not just the eyes, not just the ears but on the heart and soul” she said.
However, the Spectacular met disapproval of the communist Chinese government. Its consulate in Sydney advised diplomats and federal and state politicians not to see the show as reported by ABC Lateline. What are they afraid of such a nice traditional culture show?

Mental illness gets a theatrical make-over


No Island is a Man
In April and May, two plays will be staged at Tuggeranong Arts Centre to raise awareness about the impacts of mental illness.
Would you recognise mental illness in yourself, your family or your friends? If you did, would you know how to help?
There is nothing so debilitating as having no sense of purpose or hope, and although the statistics on mental illness are frightening, often the experience of living with a mental illness is far worse.
April – No Island is a Man will open people’s eyes to what depression is like as an experience, rather than as an illness. The play explores the experience of depression through the main character, Jesse, and the impact his illness has on his friends and family.
May – Imperfectly Sane during Schizophrenia Awareness Week, Canberra Celebrities and Canberra Youth Theatre participants will theatrically represent the true stories of people living with a mental illness, in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation.
If you require information or support about mental illness for yourself, or someone you may be helping to look after contact the Mental Health Foundation on: 6282 6658 or www.mhf.org.au

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play the didgeridoo?


Playing the Didge!
Alex Murchison, of Canberra based didgeridoo manufacturers Echo Tree, has spent years tutoring would be aficionados in the finer arts of playing the didgeridoo. He has also taught the somewhat less finer art involved with this instrument, namely getting that termite hollowed wood tube to make any noise at all, never mind a musical note. No student of Alex has failed to achieve this feat and now with the launch of a tutorial DVD entitled “Learn to Play the Didgeridoo” no one ever will.
As the presenter, Alex will take you through the basics required to play the didgeridoo. The DVD will teach you how to play the didgeridoo quickly and easily. The presentation is straight forward and easy to understand, where the sole aim is to get you playing, and to get you playing well.
Alex uses the highly effective Echo Tree didgeridoo tuition method, developed in Australia throughout his years as a professional didgeridoo tutor. This method employs a unique three-step process, built on practical teaching experience, using exercises and techniques that are tried and proven to work. With practice you really can learn how to circular breathe and play the didgeridoo! Surprisingly, it’s really not that hard, and this presentation breaks it down for you into easy to understand steps that will have you playing your didgeridoo in no time!
Once you can play a didgeridoo Alex can help again. With his brother Malcolm he owns and runs a local business called Echo Tree where they handcraft and offer exquisite, authentic, musical quality didgeridoos that are both beautiful and functional to a worldwide market. Their instruments come with a lifetime guarantee, and the indigenous style artwork that is painted onto them is certified as authentic with an authenticity label that provides all the details of the artist who created the artwork. Malcolm, the master craftsman, also provides a ‘custom made’ service, where he is able to craft almost anything that a customer wants.
Alex has also recently gained exclusive rights for the Australia-wide distribution of an innovative new type of didgeridoo that has the potential to take the market by storm. This new product range of very affordable didgeridoos caters for children, travelers and the serious learner. They are made from a polymer and all models will retail for under $100. To find out more about these new modern polymer didgeridoos you can go to www.walkaboutoutback.com
Alex Murchison also provides a service to schools both locally and schools that come on excursion from all around Australia, which both entertains and educates students about the didgeridoo. He calls this branch of the business “Didgeridoos Alive!”, and finds it a great tool to promote the didgeridoo as a musical instrument to a large audience.
Alex is also involved with the community and indigenous organizations on a number of levels, one being that he teaches young people and at risk youth how to make a didgeridoo. Participants are given the opportunity to gain the skills needed to make their own didgeridoo and they get to take the one they made home with them. This program is often followed up with a ‘Learn to Play’ course. Alex also runs the ‘How to Make a Didgeridoo’ programs for the general public and calls them “Didj in a Day”, where course members get to do the whole thing in the one day and take their new didgeridoo home at the end of it!
If you would like to learn how to make or play the didgeridoo or purchase one of the high quality instruments handcrafted by Echo Tree you can go to www.echotree.com.au to find out more, or you can contact Alex on alex@echotree.com.au

Bilingual families


By Mandy Scott
Canberra Region Bilingual Families has recently been formed by a number of local parents who want their children to learn to speak their family language as well as English. The aim of the group is to build a support network to help families access information about bilingualism and share practical advice about raising children bilingually.
The group had its origins in a forum held at the University of Canberra entitled ‘When English is not enough: a forum to discuss raining children bilingually’. Over 90 people attended. They included speakers of Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, French, German, Vietnamese, Dutch, Sinhalese, Greek, Japanese, Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese. According to the 2001 ABS census, over 13% of the people living in the Canberra region speak a language other than English at home.
Canberra Region Bilingual Families believe that maintaining and developing languages in bilingual (and multilingual) families in Australia can play an important part in promoting social cohesion as well as preventing the loss of an important national resource.
Possible activities for the future include language specific workshops; a system to share or exchange books, games, and other resources in particular languages; an interactive website; language clubs or play groups; social activities to celebrate multilingualism and show children that it is a natural part of Australian life; and a workshop to help parents prepare their own books in various languages.
To register your interest in the group and join the mailing list, please email bilingualfamily-subscribe@googlegroups.com

Youth Week cashed up!


This is the second year all 152 Councils across the State will host Youth Week activities and we are making real progress in supporting young people to be the very best they can be. With almost $240,000 being allocated to Councils across the State this year, Youth Week 2007 is set to be an exciting week for young people in NSW and I am very pleased that young people from our community have the opportunity to be involved.
Young people who would like to get involved in organising or participating in an event during Youth Week should contact their local Council, or visit the Youth Week website at www.youthweek.nsw.gov.au .
Youth Week activities encourage young people to raise issues of concern to them and suggest ways of addressing these issues, show their talents and have fun. Young people play a vital role in our local community and it is important we acknowledge their valuable contribution and help them achieve their goals.
This year, Youth Week will be celebrated from 14 to 22 April with the theme ‘Launch Yourself’. This is an opportunity for hundreds of young people from the Monaro area to be involved in creative activities such as live music, film festivals, forums, debates and sporting activities. By working with the support of local councils young people will be able to organise events and activities that are relevant to our local community.
Last year, thanks to the Iemma Government, 152 Councils and 18,000 young people across NSW worked together to organise around 1,000 events for more than 170,000 young people.

Warped and Twisted 2007


Canberra Spinners & Weavers Inc annual exhibition and sale
The Exhibition features new approaches to old crafts as members show works created during the past year: proficiency in hand spinning and dyeing, felting, knitting, weaving, tapestry, rug making, crochet and allied techniques produce unique articles of the highest quality. Spinners explore the use of fibres such as angora and silk as well as the high quality fleece available from local graziers and breeders including lambs’ wool, alpaca, mohair and fine merino.
Many of the well crafted items on display will be for sale and range from the purely decorative to the practical: wall hangings, rugs, household linen, shawls, foot-friendly socks, hats, bags for all occasions, garments and skeins of colourful yarn. The well-stocked shop carries further delights for all ages and all seasons.
Opening Times 10 am to 4 pm
CSIRO Discovery, Clunies Ross Street, Black Mountain ACT
27-29 April. The venue provides wheelchair access.
If you require further information please contact
Helen on 6295 7313 or email e-mail hrhahamilton@optusnet.com.au

Inner North businesses provide


ParentLine calls on businesses from the inner north of Canberra to help link families with kids under five with the community.
ParentLine’s Small Sparks Project is part of a team effort with Northside Community Service, ACT Playgroups, Barnardo’s, Campanion House, YMCA Canberra, the YWCA, plus many voluntary and small community agencies in the inner north to build Communities for Children. The scheme is part of the Australian Government’s Stronger Families and Communities strategy.
How can your business provide a small spark in the inner north?
A recent community/business partnership in the inner north has been the aquaCulture Nights at Dickson pool in January, sparked when Jane Goffman (of Active Planning) and a group of mums saw an opportunity to create a local event that would be fun for families with young children. Jane worked with pool managers who supported the idea of live music and fund-raising on Saturday nights, and agreed to keep the pool open later.
Attendance figures of over 1,000 by the third night in 2006 demonstrated the event’s popularity, so this year funding from the North Canberra Community Council and Tradies made it possible to hire clowns and circus performers, and offer a wider range of foods. Attendance doubled to 2,000 as word of mouth spread, and volunteers raised over $3000 for charity and community organisations. This started out as a small spark for families with young children which has rapidly turned into a big community event.
‘Our surveys showed people mainly came for the music and the community atmosphere, and they came back because they enjoyed themselves so much. We wanted to help families see that having fun is really easy’, said Jane Goffman.
Following this success, ParentLine invites businesses in the inner north to support more Small Spark initiatives. Your help could include:
– Publicity: community noticeboards, signs in your window, information table outside your business
– Discounted or free goods or a donation
– Help with fundraising: such as prizes for a raffle, or a sausage sizzle in front of your business.
– Free service: such as photocopying/printing, book keeping, IT support, or meeting space.
– Advice and information.
And the benefits of being involved? Small Spark can be another low cost way of moving your business closer to your customers and the things that matter to them.
To offer a small spark, please contact ParentLine’s Small Sparks Project Officer, Judy Elton, on 62873833.

CIT and AIE continue successful relationship


Artwork by Simon Cottee
By Tanya Henshaw
The Canberra Institute of Technology and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) recently re-signed their highly successful relationship for another two years.
CIT has been collaborating with AIE for the past nine years in offering ACT and regional students high quality animation programs. The joint CIT/AIE programs have enjoyed great success over the years, with graduates now placed in many local, national and international film, television, games and production studios. Graduates have worked on many of the worlds largest animated film productions, such as the academy award winning Happy Feet and TV shows such as David Tench Tonight and the Shapies.
Dr Colin Adrian, Chief Executive of CIT said “CIT is delighted to continue such a valuable relationship with the AIE. It allows the CIT to continue to offer animation programs that satisfy an important and growing industry here in the ACT, nationally and abroad.”
AIE Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ian Gibson, said ‘This is a welcome continuation of a partnership widely regarded nationally and internationally as best practice. It is a great example of how a small city state like the ACT can use co-operation to win for students and the community’.
Locally graduates from these programs have enabled growth in a range of emerging creative digital content companies including SimUrban, Eye Candy 3D, Catalyst Interactive, GeoScience Australia and Department of Defence. The AIE recently had success with CIT Diploma of Screen students working on ‘The Story of Ned’, a Tropfest top 16 finalist.
AIE offers CIT backed qualifications in Screen and 3D Animation.
For more information on these courses, go to www.cit.act.edu.au

The Jester Ball


The Jester ball
By Tom Woodward
Send in the clowns, drown in the wine, and dream with the music. Canberra’s very own Bayonet Records invites you to its film-clip Masquerade Ball. To be held at the Albert Hall on the 11th of May, the Jester Ball will be a novel and exotic evening of entertainment. The night will ignite with wild poetry and sultry jazz, the haunting murmur of a twisted string quartet and the sombre sounds of Bayonet Records’ latest album, Blue Day Requiem. Film crews and photographers will mingle amongst the revelry, literally producing the material that will serve as the film-clip for Blue Day Requiem’s first single, Drinking the Dregs.
Like a traditional Masquerade Ball, The Jester Ball will be a festive toast to the spirit of art and a celebration of the imagination. The archetypal jester represents the mystical cleverness bereft of reason inside all of us. With a rose in one hand and a bindle in the other, the jester is portrayed innocently striding towards the edge of a cliff. It is with the spirit of this innocence that Bayonet Records invites you to stride from the norm and fall to a fun filled night of glitz glut and glamour.
With The Jesters Bar serving beer, bubbly and wine, decorated bodies and masked faces will collage the hall from 7pm ’till midnight. Tickets can be purchased for $17 from Landspeed, Songland and The Street Theatre from March 15th (they go up to $20 on April Fools Day). So leave your inhibitions at home, bring your imagination with you, and be anyone or any thing you like. For workers, artists, drinkers, hoboes, students, and anyone with the spirit to do something different the, Jester Ball is definitely a night not to be missed.


WHEN: Friday May 11th
WHERE: Albert Hall, Commonwealth Ave, Yarralumla
TICKETS: $17 Available at Songland, Landspeed or through website, from March 15th. $20 from April Fools Day.
WEBSITE: www.thejesterball.com

Matrix 6: Printmakers in Residence of 2006


clockwise from top left: Rae, Laffan, Schell, Trevillian, Kobal, Parrot
Selected works by Megalo Printmakers in Residence of 2006
Megalo Print Studio + Gallery

Megalo Gallery 28 March – 28th April 2007
Coinciding with the 6th Australian Print Symposium at the NGA

Mark KOBAL, Julian LAFFAN , Flora PARROTT, Jude RAE , Kirrily SCHELL, Annie TREVILLIAN
Matrix 6 presents a selection of works generated by artists during their 2006 residency in the Megalo Print Studios. The six artists used a variety of printing surfaces (matrix) to produce their prints including stone, wood, copper-plate, silk-screen and digital. The exhibition provides a glimpse of the diversity of contemporary printmaking practice occurring in Canberra.

I've Wheelie Bin Changed


I’ve Wheelie Bin Changed!

By Nigel Baker


Have you heard the expression out of sight out of mind? Many of us deny that this mantra influences our meticulous decision making process. It’s not until the car stops for no apparent reason that we realize how important petrol is and that we should have filled up yesterday. The same goes for those bills left on the table that we swore we would pay tomorrow and then realized that they were due last week!


Not that either of these have ever happened to me, but I must admit to other more nefarious and costly incidents that have come as a rude surprise. Instead of acting at the time, I was either too cheap, too stubborn or just too down right lazy. As a consequence, I have then had to deal with the original issue plus the resulting problems as well.


The great news is that we can change. I have since tried to become a practitioner of the old adage “prevention is better than the cure”. A great example of this is how I dealt with my old arch nemeses – the stinky unhygienic garbage bin.


We all have them sitting out the front, side or back of our houses – far enough away so that the smell doesn’t get us yet close enough so that we don’t over exert ourselves (or sacrificial children) when the hermetically sealed bundles of rubbish are thrown away.


Garbage bins truly are out of sight and mind. That is until we notice their lingering and unique pong. Well, let me tell you that by the time you notice this SMELL – germs, moulds, viruses and bacteria have made your bins a microbial squatter’s retreat (with a constant supply of food) and a wheelie bin health hazard (to you or anyone who regrettably has to use such bins).


Not to frighten you, but bacteria can multiply very rapidly in the right conditions (like those in and around your festy garbage bins). In a 24hr period a single germ can multiply 281 trillion times! That’s a lot of germs! It’s no wonder that horrors like Tuberculosis, Weils Disease, Salmonella, E Coli, Listeria and many others are found on bins. But, the fun doesn’t stop there. To your high rises of microbial infestation we need to add its many visitors – flies, spiders, ants, rats, mice, cockroaches and their by-products (faeces). Now you understand why your garbage bins stink and why it‘s a good idea to do something about it, now – like I did!


Initially, I tried to clean the bins myself and with hindsight I can’t really understand why. Not only was the job really disgusting (clumps of rotting smelly garbage and wiggling maggots everywhere) but I was wasting a lot of water and had nowhere legal or safe to dump the waste. I thought about putting the water (containing all the waste from my bins) on my thirsty plants but quickly reconsidered when it dawned on me that I would be depositing the germ teeming waste from my bin on my garden, where I relaxed). The storm water drain was an option for about a millisecond but we all know that dumping anything into the storm water drain, other than storm/rain water (thus the name), is illegal and attracts a hefty penalty. Clause 17 of the Water Quality Policy states that a person must not discharge or deposit a pollutant listed in Schedule4 of the Policy into any waters or onto land where it might enter any waters. The pollutants listed in Schedule 4 that relate to bin cleaning activities include: cleaning agents, detergents and their by products, putrescibles waste (food scraps) and other rubbish particles.


I later learned that due to the Stage 3 water restrictions in Canberra, it is now practically impossible for a home owner to clean their garbage bins themselves without breaking the law. It’s similar to washing your car, only harder to do yourself, a lot less safe and infinitely more disgusting. Besides, why would anyone actually want to do it themselves?


Alas, I was still stuck with my smelly infested unhygienic bins.


In the past nobody was willing to take responsibility for the problem and if they did they used ineffective methods (which are illegal today but some still do it) to try and clean bins. Some thrifty geniuses (like I) thought it would be easy and cost effective to clean the bins themselves, using the primitive tools and ways of their forefathers (bucket, hose, broom, dishwashing liquid & gloves). Luckily, times change, people get smarter and methods improve – for most anyway!


My saviour was Green Cleen, Canberra – The Wheelie Bin Cleaners. They arrived in a gleaming white truck with a smiling green clean wheelie bin emblem (sporting a big red nose) emblazoned over the bonnet with an impressive looking clawed machine riding on the back of the ute. Undoubtedly, the red nosed mascot was a victim of having smelt too many stinky bins and the clawed beast sitting in the ute’s tray was the specialized wheelie bin cleaning equipment and the answer to my unpleasant stinky and unhygienic garbage bins! They didn’t disappoint.


Green Cleen, Canberra’s mobile bin cleaning system left my bins free of stinking built up refuse and smelling great. They use environmentally friendly cleaning solutions that are 100% natural (& safe), Anti Viral, Anti Bacterial and Anti-Fungal and kill 99% of all common micro-organisms.


All bins serviced by Green Cleen are cleaned, sanitised, deodorised and de-bugged. The cleaner kills bacteria and works in tandem with the sanitisers to neutralise bad smells by penetrating the surface of the bin thus helping to eliminate the sources of bacterial odour.


Green Cleen carries its own water supply, which is recycled and filtered at each stage of the bin cleaning process saving thousands of litres of water a week. At the end of the day the waste water and its contents are deposited at a licensed drop off point. No pollution. No mess.


The company cleans both residential and commercial bins. Residential bins typically need cleaning every four weeks whereas commercial customers require a more regular bin cleaning regimen due to their heavier bin usage and OH&S obligations. For convenience and cleaning effectiveness Green Cleen schedules its service to coincide with garbage emptying days.


So, how are your bins? Go have a whiff and peek into the bin.


If you still foolishly clean your own bins or instruct someone else to do it (without the proper equipment or the correct procedures) you will get yourself (and business) into serious trouble. Green Cleen’s service is very affordable – they will clean your bins from as little as $5.50 per bin!


Gladly, I no longer have to hold my breath each time I visit my bins or worry about dirty pests and germs. By having bins cleaned every 4 weeks (or as needed) you’re able to maintain a high level of hygiene and lower the chances of bins becoming a source of germs, bacteria and illness.


To be quite honest, customers tell me that since signing up for Green Cleen’s wheelie bin cleaning service they don’t really think about their bins at all, because there isn’t anything nasty to remind them. It just goes to show that if you do the right things now, some things can genuinely be left out of sight and out of mind with no consequences! Now all you need to do is remember to pay on time…


Give Green Cleen, Canberra a call 1300 550 523 or visit them online: www.greencleencanberra.com.au


Twilight Fair great success!


The annual Torrens Primary School Twilight Fair was held on Saturday 31st March 2007. We were blessed with a fabulous day with blue skies, warm sun and no wind. The fair again proved a popular event with over 700 visitors and kids attending. The fair provides the parents and friends of the school with an opportunity to join together in an action packed fundraising event.

This years popular attractions included: Sideshow Alley, The Fairy Room, the Haunted House and the Crockery Smash. The sausage sizzle and cafe did a roaring trade. The petting zoo, pony rides and giant bouncy castle also proved winners.

Thanks to all helpers and organisers for putting on such a great day!

Export-led growth for Canberra


Canberra Business Council logo
By Neil Primrose

In Canberra’s now predominantly private sector economy, exports are increasingly driving our growth.

Development of an export culture isn’t surprising, given Canberra’s strong international orientation as Australia’s national capital and the strong and extensive work of the Australian Government internationally in both policy and operational work.

That policy work has included working with the governments of our trading partners to reduce barriers to entry and open their markets to Australian products and services. Since the mid 1980s, this has seen the development of highly successful partnerships between Australian Government and business to grow our national income from overseas trade.

And the contribution of Austrade to the development of local businesses succeeding as exporters in the face tough international competition has been huge.

It’s pleasing the see the ACT Government also engaging in an increasingly effective partnership with local exporters, working alongside them at they move into fresh markets to help overcome official indifference and to open doors into new relationships with customers and business partners.

This kind of partnership between government and business is far more important in overseas markets than many people at home realise. Business people in other countries tend to accord significantly greater respect to the position and stature of visiting government ministers than we’re used to doing in Australia. Hence the significant role that successive ACT Chief Ministers and other political leaders have been able to play in support of local businesses opening up overseas markets.

The present Chief Minister, John Stanhope, was particularly effective in his leadership of the recent ACT Trade Mission to India. He paved the way for numerous introductions to Indian business leaders that would not have happened if the ACT businesses had not had such visible and official support in the person of the Chief Minister. We ought not to underestimate the value of governments working in partnership with local businesses.

The participants on the Trade Mission to India are now busily engaged in following up their contacts and the business leaders are very appreciative of the role the Chief Minister played. Those who are planning to be in the forthcoming trade mission to China need the same support and are looking forward to the Chief Minister working with them as the leader of Team ACT.

The bottom line for the community is that growth in exports from the ACT creates additional jobs in the ACT, as well as bringing new skills into our economy. It ensures our companies operating overseas are operating at world best practice. This high standard flows back to local operations, so increasing competitiveness even of those businesses that are not exporting.

The general increase in business activity also flows back to the community through increased GST returns that go to pay for our facilities and services, such as schools, hospitals, parks and all the other things that are paid for from the ACT Government’s revenues.

So our growing export culture benefits all of us.

On another matter, as foreshadowed in the March article, the Council’s paper on the taxi shambles has been submitted to the ACT Government and is now posted on the Business Council’s website at www.canberrabusinesscouncil.com.au

Dr. Neil Primrose chairs the Action Agenda Co-ordination Group of the Canberra Business Council and its kindred organisations.

Ainslie businesses promote local communities for children event


Brumbies Bakery enjoyed meeting with their community
By Judy Elton
The World’s Biggest Playgroup was held ‘in the park’ throughout Australia on 28th March. Playgroup Associations organised the events to celebrate National Playgroup Week. Wakefield Gardens near the Ainslie shops saw over three hundred small children with their Mums, Dads and Grandparents converge to enjoy wonderful play activities. Ainslie businesses helped promote the event with notices in their windows. Manuel and his staff at Ainslie IGA are well known for supporting their local community and promoted the event by circulating flyers to families with young children. Erin and the ‘Bread Man’ from the Brumbies Bakery had fun participating throughout the morning and gave away show bags which included a voucher for free bread. Promotion from Ainslie shops resulted in enquiries about joining playgroups from many of their customers.

ParentLine invites other business from the inner north of Canberra to promote Communities for Children events and provide a small spark to connect families with young kids with the community. We need your help!

To offer a small spark, please contact ParentLine’s Small Sparks Project Officer, Judy Elton, on 62873833, or M. 0448244013.

To join a playgroup contact the ACT Playgroup Association on 1800 171 882.