Jun 052015

A Signpost in a Country Town – Jacob Rayment


The Dandenong Ranges draw tourists all throughout the week. In the heart of this area is Emerald, a small town with a huge focus on community, possibly best known for the whistle of Puffing Billy as it chugs through the mountains. When the tourists are gone, the community flourishes. A lot of things can come to mind when thinking about what creates community, but there isn’t much that encompasses the sense of community quite like a local community magazine, a publication designed for the sole purpose of bringing the community closer together.

Signpost is the local community magazine the runs out of Emerald. It’s been in publication for fifteen years and has spent that time working with all the local community groups to carefully connect them to the community. The local sporting groups, church groups, music clubs, play groups, local markets and more are all brought to the attention of the community thanks to Signpost Community Magazine.

Jean Hayne started the magazine in 2000 and continues as the editor in chief to this day. When Signpost Community Magazine was first published it was a small, four page newsletter that was only distributed to a very small portion of central Emerald. Only four issues were released in its first year but it grew quickly. Word of Signpost spread around the local community very quickly and it wasn’t long before people all over the community wanted to get their hands on Signpost.

Speaking to Jean Hayne, she spoke about the challenges that arose with setting up a free publication. At the beginning it had no source of income, it was entirely self-financed and the demand for the magazine started to outweigh what could be afforded. One of the most important parts of Signpost for Jean was keeping Signpost free. It was her way of staying dedicated to the community, her focus was on bringing every single person in the community together and she felt that would be much harder to achieve if people had to start paying to receive the magazine. This lead to the idea of selling advertising space in the magazine in order to both fund the magazine and allow it to reach a broader audience, it was also a way to encourage local businesses and community groups to get involved with the magazine. Adding advertising allowed Signpost to continue for over a hundred issues, a backlog of which can be found here.

Daniel McNeil is a chaplain at one of the local primary schools. He has spent his entire life in Emerald and has grown up reading Signpost. When asked about the effect that he sees Signpost having on the community he was able to offer some insight from the perspective of his school. Signpost was something they could use to advertise school enrolments, inform the public about school events, and communicate many other things with a wide range of people in the community. Daniel was also able to reflect on the impact Signpost Community Magazine had on him as a teenager. He mentioned that he was one of the only teenagers that he knew that was reading Signpost on a regular basis. He mentioned that he really enjoyed the way it kept him engaged and up to date with what was going on in the community and that it was a way he was able join in on different activities and events going on in town and it even helped him discover a youth group full of other teenagers where he was able to make friends his own age. He made a big point about emphasising the credit he gives to Signpost for helping him find a youth group in is high school years.

Signpost Community Magazine is there to help the community and has hundreds of contributors from within the community, everybody from business owners to stay-at-home mums have been able to find a way to contribute to Signpost and write articles for it. Hearing from Rev. Dr. Peter Crawford, a regular contributor in Signpost Community Magazine who has been writing for the publication since its first issue, offered a great view on how Signpost Community Magazine has evolved over the last fifteen years and the effect he’s seen it have on the community over that time. Crawford was the senior pastor of the local Anglican Church in Emerald for most of Signpost’s fifteen year life. He noted that Signpost has been an integral part of Emerald’s community growing into what it is today. He suggests that there wouldn’t such a large amount of community groups and activities if it weren’t for the work that Signpost has put into bringing the community together. Crawford went on to talk about the feedback from people within his church congregation, he mentioned that several of the people in the church had found out about the events at the church through ads in Signpost and that a number of members of the church were trying to find out how they could be contributors to Signpost. Crawford’s connection with Signpost Community magazine has allowed the church to connect with Signpost so much so that they have entered a partnership and the church grounds now contain the Signpost Community Magazine headquarters.

Signpost Community Magazine is showing no signs of slowing down, in fact, they are continuing to grow. Their hundredth magazine was published recently and Jean Hayne asserts that she wants to see Signpost continue on well after two hundred issues. Signpost is definitely a big part of the community in Emerald and, based on what the people of Emerald say about it, it achieves its goals of bringing the community together.





 Posted by at 10:20 am
Jun 032015

Patrick Carlyon’s article ‘Where the Hell is Everyone?’ is a detailed account and discussion on the Black Saturday bushfires. It looks at the events during the destruction of Marysville, a regional town north-east of Melbourne. Towards the beginning of the article we are given a brief history of Marysville. It tells us about he things and the people in the town, its history dealing with the threat of fires and the luck they’ve had in avoiding them, it tells us about the timber mills that used to exist there and even gives us a bit of insight into the local fire department.

Carlyon uses a sort of timeline throughout the article. Commentating what was going on at different time. He begins at eleven in the morning, talking about the elderly men at the local bowls club. Carlyon constantly relays the perspectives of victims as the story unravels. The stories of the victims consistently bring copious amounts of emotion into the article. These stories really set the mood of the whole article. The times he mentions people dying or being close to death, the destruction that the fires caused, and the pain that the families went through it creates quite a solemn and glum mood.

Carlyon writes with authority, his direct use of facts, statistics, specific dates, and first-hand accounts from people that lived through it all give the reader a sense of understanding of the events and doesn’t cast any doubt. His language throughout the entire article commands a lot of power, it’s clear that, while trying to write an objective and accurate depiction of the events surrounding and including the fires, there is a sense of passion in the way he writes. He also paints very strong pictures in what he says, he talks about the fires sounding like planes and trains, he talks about people suffocating in the smoke, he makes sure the reader is able to clearly picture the scenes he is talking about and he ensures the reader is able to sympathize with the victim’s stories as best possible.

The article is very effective in making the victims human. Carlyon takes great care in the way he speaks about each victim, giving us information about who they are, sometimes giving us part of their background and even going as back as to talk about when certain people were married. He wants the reader not only to learn about what happened but gain an awareness, and awareness for the dangers that fires pose and awareness for the people out there that have been affected.

Overall Carlyon has presented an article that strikes at people’s heart and pushes them to sympathise with the people, learn about everything that really happened to the people surrounding the fires rather than just the obvious physical destruction. He has created an article that will resonate with the people that read it and have an impact on the way they view and understand the Black Saturday fires.

 Posted by at 1:04 pm
Jun 012015

The School of Hard Knocks For Football Players – Richard Guilliatt

In ‘The School of Hard Knocks For Football Players’ Richard Guilliatt starts the discussion of contact sports and the effect that they have on people. He makes a strong case mentioning the drastic effects that concussion, received during sport, can have on a person in the long-term.

Guilliatt looks at the specific case of Rugby Union star Berrick Barnes and the excessive physical and mental issues he had moving on from injuries related to concussion. Guilliatt injects a lot of emotion into this article as he discusses how severe the long term effects of concussion related injuries can be. He goes on to discuss the input on the topic from neurologist John Watson. Guilliatt continues to display authority in his writing taking the words of Watson as a respected neurologist and the first-hand accounts of Barnes.

Guilliatt brings other accounts to his article including Matt Psaltis who played for his high-school rugby team, he suffered a head injury that resulted in some memory loss, dizziness, and prolonged headaches and, after a second concussion in the sport, he was advised to stop playing altogether.

More case studies are mentioned in the article and each one supports the idea that contact sports can cause concussion related injuries that could potentially have awful, long-term effects. He backs this up with evidence from retired gridiron players that are over fifty ‘suffer “dementia-related conditions” at five times the rate of the general population.’

Overall Guilliatt presented a well argued and quite insightful point of view on the overlooked issue of the effects of contact sports.


Mother courage: Rosie Batty’s life after Luke – Fiona Harari

The murder of Luke Batty devastated the nation when he was murdered by his father on a sports field when he was only eleven years old. Unlike most of the reports surrounding the family that, understandably, discuss the tragic incident, Fiona Harari decides to take a more focussed look at Rosie Batty’s (Luke’s mother) life after her son’s death.

The article visits all sorts of different stages in Rosie’s life and looks into the ways she has continued in her life after going through the trauma of losing her son. One thing that stands out about this is that Luke’s death is constantly brought up but it’s never talked about all too much and is generally swiftly directed on from talking about it. Although Harari tries to keep the article focussed on Rosie’s life rather than Luke’s death, she does take some time to discuss some of the horrible moments in Luke’s life growing up where there were all sorts of issues with his father including threats of physical violence.

Harari chooses to bring up some levels of positivity including the copious amounts of support that Rosie received from people from all around and even talks about the way that Rosie has been able to have a positive impact on other people.

Harari provides a wonderful article full of emotion that takes a different stance on the more often reported on death of Luke.

 Posted by at 1:44 pm