Shire News 


Hugs on Hold at Henri Nouwen House

Friday 12 June 2020 

COVID19 has provided us all with opportunities as well as challenges. One of the opportunities has been for us to share the stories of our people who work and volunteer in our community.

This week we met with representatives from Henri Nouwen House. The services Henri Nouwen House provide are explored in an interview which you can view here.

Henri Nouwen House has quietly, yet powerfully served people facing tough times in our community for 29 years. Their clients are people from all walks of life who are facing a range of challenges including grief, divorce, depression, childhood issues, substance misuse, unemployment, family and relationship issues.

If you are facing any type of life difficulty or challenge please take the time to view this video and consider contacting Henri Nouwen House on 9761-2027 or enquiries@henrinouwenhouse.com.au


Funding for Litter Projects

Wednesday 10 June 2020 

Keep Australia Beautiful has announced that Community Litter Grant Funding 2020 is now open.

Grants of up to $5,000 for local projects including event litter management and education, and grants up to $10,000 are available for regional projects/major initiatives.

The grants provide financial assistance for action and education on litter and were opened by the Minister for Environment, read here.

Local associations, community groups, small to medium enterprises, schools, events and festivals are all eligible.

The grant round is open from 5 June to 24 July.

Further information can be found here. If you require assistance please email Keep Australia Beautiful.


Funding for Tourism Operators

Monday 8 June 2020 

Eligible tourism operators are encouraged to submit their application for the WA Tourism Recovery Fund.

The fund provides an initial $10.4 million in one-off cash grants for up to 1600 individual small businesses around the State.

The $6500 grants will provide immediate support to eligible tourism operators, with annual taxable wages of less than $1 million, including accommodation, attraction, and tour and transport businesses.

Applications close on Friday, 12 June. For more information or to apply, visit the Tourism WA website.

To hear what the Southern Forests & Blackwood Valley’s Tourism Association Chairperson had to say regarding this funding opportunity please click here.


Stage 3 Eased Restrictions - Shire Halls 

Monday 8 June 2020

In alignment with the State Government introducing stage 3 of eased restrictions we have been able to increase the number of patrons allowed in the Shire halls.  Patronage numbers now align with the 1 person per 2m2.  Social distancing of 1.5m is still required when using our halls. Anyone who wishes to book a Shire hall for an activity or event will still need to comply with the State Government requirements to develop a COVID Safety Plan. 

There is a template for this Safety Plan which can be accessed here

Guidelines for the development of the Safety Plan can be accessed here

Hall hirers will need to submit their completed Safety Plan to the Shire (as owner of the hall) for review as part of a new hall booking process. 

To view the Shire’s Information Sheet on the new Hall Hire Process please click here.


Tourism Body Puts Southern Forests & Valleys On Show

Wednesday 3 June 2020 

When we met with Louise Stokes in May we discussed the benefits of a coordinated and collaborative approach to branding and marketing our region as a tourism destination.  The importance of developing a strong regional brand to promote the ‘Southern Forests and Valleys’ as a unique tourism destination was highlighted.  To watch that video please click here.

In this follow up video, Louise shares insights with regard to the work the Southern Forests and Blackwood Valley Tourism Association Board, their preliminary work on branding the region, promotional activities and how the Association works with Australia Southwest, Tourism WA and our local visitor centres.  To watch the second video, please click here.

If you would like to learn more about this Association or take advantage of the current ‘free membership’ offer please contact admin@southernforestsandvalleys.com.


Community Support Throughout COVID-19

Friday 29 May 2020 

Local businesses, sporting and community groups have all been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  This week we met with Jo Moore, Manager of the Bridgetown Family & Community Centre (BFCC) to find out how the Centre is emerging from the pandemic.  To watch the video interview with Jo please click here.

The BFCC is housed in an iconic Bridgetown building, the old Terminus Hotel, which has been home to the Playgroup for more than 30 years.  The facility is also home to the local YMCA Early Learning Centre.

The building was donated to the community by Swan Brewery in 1975, as it was believed to be a better option to donate it to the community rather than to renovate and modify it to meet the required regulations.

The Centre offers many services such as social support and emergency referral services, financial counselling, book club, and a parent’s support group for families that have children with disabilities.  They also have a number of workshops that cover nutrition, sewing, crafts, natural therapies and friendship groups.

"We are here to support the whole community, young and old, families and individuals," Ms Moore said "The Bridgetown Family & Community Centre is here for everyone."


Shire Halls to Reopen

Thursday 28 May 2020 

In alignment with the State Government easing some of the COVID-19 restrictions the Shire is now able to open its halls for community use. 

Anyone who wishes to book a Shire hall for an activity or event will need to comply with the State Government requirements to develop a COVID Safety Plan. 

There is a template for this Safety Plan which can be accessed here

Guidelines for the development of the Safety Plan can be accessed here

Hall hirers will need to submit their completed Safety Plan to the Shire (as owner of the hall) for review as part of a new hall booking process. 

To view the Shire’s Information Sheet on the new Hall Hire Process please click here.


Restrictions Lift for Some of Us

Wednesday 27 May 2020 'image description'

We are all glad that COVID19 restrictions began to be lifted last week and are hopeful that more will soon be lifted.  Slowly, life is returning to normal.  While many of us can now enjoy going to work, shopping a little more easily, travelling a little more widely and eating out again, many people still cannot.  Our seniors, and those with certain pre-existing medical issues such as autoimmune conditions, are still at high risk.

People with health and social care vulnerabilities are likely to suffer more anxiety, especially those worried about service reductions due to staffing issues, general fear and carer availability. Loneliness is already a big factor for many of our seniors, even before corona virus.

UK based Psychotherapist Dr Noel McDermott provides practical means of reducing anxiety for those who continue to face an indeterminate time in isolation:

  • Help by looking for the positive and looking for gratitude and sharing this. These positive psychology tools help those who have and are experiencing trauma form meaning from it and positively grow and learn lessons rather than develop PTSD symptoms.
  • Encourage personal strength by drawing on life experience in the elder to demonstrate how they have been through challenges and survived.
  • Be realistic about the risks and the timescales involved, dashing inflated hopes of rapid change will cause more harm than being honest about the real challenges ahead.
  • Organising visits be it real world (with social distancing measures in place), or online by loved ones and friends. They don’t have to be long as it will often be enough to show you care.
  • Provide support to carers and family so they are able to spot the signs of psychological distress and can raise the alarm to get professional help.

Continuing to check in on, reach out to and engage with seniors and others we know in our community who may be in need, is still important.   As life gets back to greater normality, let’s not forget to keep connected, especially with our elders and other vulnerable people in our community.


Loneliness Highest Stressor in Australia

Monday 25 May 2020

Loneliness was the most widely reported source of personal stress for Australians during April, according to the third Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey.  Information was collected on the impact of COVID-19 on people's lifestyles and behaviours during the period early April to early May.

Michelle Marquardt from the ABS said loneliness affected more women (28 per cent) than men (16 per cent).

The most commonly experienced personal stressor was loneliness, reported by one in five Australians (20%)

The survey also highlighted changes to people’s lifestyles during the period early April to early May, including:

  • 22% said they are eating more snack foods such as chips, lollies and biscuits
  • 14% said they are consuming more alcohol, and 10% cent said they are consuming less alcohol
  • 58% reported spending more time in front of their television, computer, phone or other device
  • 29% reported less frequent consumption of takeaway or delivered meals
  • 38% spent more time cooking or baking.

Compared with March, fewer people were taking the following precautions in late April to early May such as:

  • keeping distance from people (94% compared with 98% in March)
  • purchasing additional household supplies (21% compared with 47% in March)
  • purchasing additional medical supplies (8% compared with 29% in March)

While restrictions are lifting, there are still a lot of people valuing the benefits of social distancing and social isolation.  If you are feeling lonely and need to talk to someone about your mental health, you can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.


Tourism Opportunities Post COVID-19

Friday 22 May 2020 
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Tourism is an important economic driver for Western Australia and will play a vital role in the State’s recovery post COVID-19.  Tourism has always been an important part of our community, for social, cultural and economic reasons.

With the easing of travel restrictions within Western Australia, Bridgetown is already experiencing higher levels of accommodation bookings as the June long weekend draws near.

This week, we met with Nannup based tourism operator Louise Stokes of Holberry House.  Louise has been in the tourism industry for 30 years and recently took on the role of Chair of the Local Tourism Organisation (or to use its official name, the Southern Forests Blackwood Valley Tourism Association). Louise shared her insights as a tourism operator regarding the benefits of having a united approach to branding and marketing the region, particularly as we begin to ease out of COVID19 restrictions. 

Louise shared some of the unique opportunities we have to offer in our region (which encompasses the Shires of Nannup, Manjimup and Bridgetown Greenbushes, also known as the Warren Blackwood Region).  Louise also provided some insight regarding the Western Australian Tourism Recovery Fund.

To watch the interview with Louise please click here.

For more information regarding the Western Australian Tourism Recovery Fund please click here.

To visit the Southern Forests & Blackwood Valley Tourism Association website please click here.


A New Chapter Begins As Library Reopens

Wednesday 20 May 2020 

The Bridgetown Library reopened on Tuesday 19 May.  Approximately 30 people accessed the reopened facility including Sharyn and Ian Belliars. 

“I understand why it had to close, but am happy it has reopened now” stated Sharyn.

“We’ve had to buy books, which we will now donate to the library” said Ian.

Many people expected the facility to open on Monday 18th May, unfortunately this was not possible because – just like the local cafés and restaurants – there was a lot of planning required to meet the guidelines implemented by the State Government to ensure we re-opened the facility in a safe fashion.  This included:

  • Compliance with the conditions outlined in the COVID Safety Guidelines for Sport and Recreation venues/facilities
  • Completion of a COVID Safety Plan
  • Display of a COVID Safety Plan Certificate in a prominent location visible to patrons
  • Implementation of the necessary safety requirements
  • Display of a COVID Safety Plan Certificate in a prominent location visible to patrons
  • Recording contact details of all customers (attendance records)
  • Only allowing 20 people at a time (excluding staff) to access the library
  • Maintaining (and enforcing) existing 1.5m social distancing
  • Continued quarantine of items (24 hours) on return before reissue

In addition to these areas of compliance, and while our library staff do not fall under the ‘hospitality and tourism’ banner, we felt it was important for our staff to complete the  AHA Hospitality & Tourism COVID19 Hygiene training before reopening.

It is a requirement for any business or facility to maintain attendance records of patrons when reopening. This will assist Public Health with contact tracing in the event of a positive COVID19 case in the facility.  Staff in the Library and any other Shire facility which reopens will request customer names and contact details to meet this requirement. Your details will not be used for any purposes other than contact tracing.

“I came to Bridgetown to see a friend and thought I would drop in, I do use the Balingup library but there is a larger selection of books in Bridgetown,” said Jackie Massey.

Library opening hours can be viewed here


Supporting Local Eateries

Monday 18 May 2020

With the easing of some of the COVID 19 restrictions starting today, some of the local eateries are opening for table service this week and we are delighted to see the Bridgetown Hotel and Mulberry Tree offering dine in service. 

Re-opening any closed facility or business is not easy.  There are a myriad of guidelines and requirements to be met to allow for the facility or business to reopen including:

  • Complete a COVID19 Safety Plan prior to reopening or expanding beyond takeaway.
  • Display a COVID Safety Plan certificate.
  • Maintain a strict limit of a minimum of 4 square metres per person.
  • Ensure a maximum of 20 dine-in patrons per venue (excluding staff).
  • Maintain hygiene and frequent cleaning.
  • Ensure staff have completed the AHA Hospitality & Tourism COVID19 Hygiene training before returning to work.
  • Maintain attendance records of patrons for the purposes of contact tracing (not including takeaway services).
  • Carefully manage waiting areas to ensure social distancing.
  • Alcohol can only be served with food and consumed at a table (not bar or counter)

As our cafés and restaurants begin to re-seat customers, we can continue to support their business by avoiding ‘just going for a coffee’.  Due to limitations and restrictions on maximum occupancy numbers and social distancing requirements, it is worth remembering that our $5 coffee might cost them a $20 customer who can’t get a meal if the tables are occupied by coffee drinkers.  So perhaps consider keeping coffees as takeaways for now, and booking in for meals whenever possible.  We can also continue to support our local eateries who have decided to continue with takeaway service only, especially as many have restricted floor space which makes social distancing too difficult for dine in.

We are also delighted to confirm that the Bridgetown Public Library will reopen on Tuesday 19th May from 10am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.  For more information please review the Media Release here.


Economic Recovery & Community Spirit

Friday 15 May 2020

Like all communities, Greenbushes has been significantly impacted by the COVID19 pandemic.  Unlike Bridgetown, which has the ability to capture passing traffic and trade, Greenbushes-based small businesses rely heavily on local patronage for support.  That support comes from Greenbushes residents and also residents from Bridgetown and Balingup.

This week, we interviewed the owners of Tasty Edibles and the Community Resource Centre Coordinator to learn a little more about the challenges Greenbushes residents and businesses have faced during the past few months.  Their stories reveal how the pandemic has created specific challenges as well as opportunities that have brought their already tight knit community even closer together. 

These stories show how the principles of collaboration and support that we value so highly remains strong, despite the challenges we have faced.  We hope you will be encouraged and inspired by these interviews.  To view the video of these stories please click here.


Grant Support for Community and Sporting Groups

Wednesday 13 May 2020

The impact of the COVID19 pandemic has obviously affected our local businesses and, for many of our residents, individual financial circumstances.  At the local government level, your Shire Councillors are acutely aware of the impacts facing you, and our community collectively.  They have endorsed a local COVID19 Community Response Plan which can be viewed here. This Plan outlines the economic support package that will be in place for the remainder of this financial year and the 2020-2021 financial year.

The state government (through Lotterywest) has made available grant funding to assist local sporting and community groups.  The Bridgetown Lawn Tennis Club and Bridgetown Historical Society have submitted applications to Lotterywest seeking financial assistance due to loss of income from their events arising from COVID19 restrictions.  Henri Nouwen House has also submitted an application seeking financial assistance to help them develop capacity to deliver mental health related programs online due to the COVID19 restrictions.

We encourage all community and sporting groups to contact Lotterywest to determine if financial assistance is available.  The Shire can support your applications in the role of referee.  This link will take you to the Lotterywest Crisis & Emergency Relief Grants website.

The Australian Government has an excellent website which can be accessed here.  This website is a Grants Service Directly which includes details of active grants and organisations providing service delivery.


COVID-19 Restrictions Eased - The Road Ahead

Monday 11 May 2020 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that there will be a 3-step plan to achieve a COVID safe economy and society.  Here in Western Australia, under direction from Premier Mark McGowan, we had begun to slowly ease off on some restrictions with social gatherings increasing from 2 to 10.  Now, because of the great results we have achieved collectively in flattening the curve, we will see further lifting of the COVID19 restrictions next week. 

This will include the ability to travel more widely throughout the South West, Peel, Perth, Great Southern and Wheatbelt regions. To view a map showing the changes to regional travel boundaries please click here.

To view an infographic of “Our Way Forward” please click here.  To view the Western Australian’s Government COVID19 Road Map please click here.

As the Prime Minister stated on Friday we do need to walk before we run in order to carefully preserve our gains.  Yes, there will be risks, there will be challenges, there will be outbreaks of COVID19 and there will be set backs. We must remember that not everything will go to plan and that we must continue to be vigilant as we enjoy the return to greater freedom and normality. 

Your Shire President, John Nicholas and Deputy Shire President, Barbara Johnson share some personal insights regarding the easing of COVID19 Restrictions on video which can be accessed via the links below:

Shire President Community Address – Easing of COVID19 Restrictions Step 2

Deputy Shire President Community Address – Easing of COVID19 Restrictions Step 2

Shire staff will develop the required COVID19 Safety Plans for each of our facilities that are currently closed to determine the safest timeline for reopening these services to our community.


Look Local First

Friday 8 May 2020

Because we are “all in this together” we spoke with three Bridgetown based main street traders during the week.  The stories and experiences they shared are from the perspective of people who are community members who also own small businesses.  Their narratives are poignant, personal and inspiring and are captured on a video you can access here.

In speaking with Vanessa, Sue and Pip common themes emerged about how important it is to continue to support our local businesses by “looking local first” and the amazing and heart-warming support they have already received.  Their insights on the community impact and response to COVID19 , observed through their eyes, are positive and encouraging. 

The impact of the COVID19 pandemic on our community is a snapshot of what is being played out regionally, nationally and internationally.  We can all contribute to economic stimulus and recovery, within the constraints of our personal financial circumstances, by choosing to explore options to buy local. We hope these stories will inspire and encourage you to do just that, wherever you can.


Community Survey on 40km/h Speed Zone Trial

 Thursday 7 May 2020

  • Community asked to evaluate reduced speed limits on South Western Highway
  • 40km/h speed zone trial for sections of South Western Highway running until June
  • Zone operates in main streets of Boyanup, Donnybrook, Balingup and Bridgetown

Residents of three South Western shires and South Western Highway travellers are being invited to comment on the 40km/h speed zone trial now underway along sections of the route. The six-month trial, which began in January, limits maximum speed in sections of the South Western Highway that run through Boyanup, Donnybrook, Balingup and Bridgetown to 40km/h.

An average of 6,000 vehicles per day pass through the towns and World Health Organisation statistics show that the injury risk to pedestrians drops dramatically as travel speed decreases.

The community can now provide feedback on the lower speed limits trial in those towns using a simple online survey, with input welcome from residents in the Shires of Capel, Donnybrook-Balingup, Bridgetown-Greenbushes and all South Western Highway users who travel through the area – including truckies, cyclists and pedestrians. The survey results will be analysed and included in a report for the Community Liaison Group, chaired by Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray, that is evaluating the trial.

Respondents will be asked for their feedback on the 40km/h trial, including:

  • Whether they support the lower speed initiative
  • If they think the reduced speed limit has improved road safety in the four towns and;
  • Whether they feel safer using the main streets of their respective towns since the 40km/h trial began.

The survey can be accessed here and has been extended to 12 June 2020.


Economic Recovery for Our Towns - We Are All in This Together

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Economic recovery does not just rest with government.  “We are all in this together” has been a catch phrase that has gathered momentum since the early days of COVID19 across the country.  For our community this is true and captures the sentiment that we have heard and experienced when visiting local businesses in both Bridgetown and Greenbushes.   This feedback has included gratitude for the support they have received and hope that this support both continues and increases. 

The Shire President addressed this issue in a recent video address which you can view by clicking here.

All businesses have been impacted by the COVID19 pandemic.  Some industries (gardening, home improvements, hardware and the like) are doing fairly well.  This is largely due to the current travel and social restrictions, as well as ongoing work from home requirements, which mean most of us are spending more time at home.  Business owners in these industries are aware that this is unlikely to last as restrictions ease and winter sets in.  They are equally aware that other retail and business operators in the community are not doing well. 

The need to support our local businesses and services has never been more important.  The range and level of services and business we enjoy will not be guaranteed to move forward if we don’t support them now when they need us most. 


Service Continues at Your Shire

Monday 4 May 2020

Like all business, COVID19 continues to impact on the Shire and how we go about our daily business of servicing the community.  Along with the Shires of Harvey and Boyup Brook, we were 1 of only 3 of the 12 Shires in the south-west region who have remained open.  Some of the Shires that closed during the initial response period are now starting to reopen.

Key facilities such as Leisure Centres, Visitor Centres and Libraries remain closed for all Shires.  Our staff in the those facilities continue to work on duties including:

  • Telephone calls and email enquiries
  • Reviewing all procedures and training manuals
  • Stock take and surplus equipment audits
  • Provision of collection library loans
  • Reviewing and updating/archiving membership databases and details

The outcome of these tasks is to ensure that when the facilities reopen staff will be well placed to continue to deliver improved customer service across each area.  As some of these tasks are nearing completion, staff will be redeployed across the organization to where there are additional needs to provide service.

The Shire’s works and services; parks and gardens; ranger services and administration customer service/corporate services teams have continued to work and focus has been on standard service provision in these areas. 

The community services team has continued to function, with a strong focus on reaching out to local business, community groups and agencies. This has resulted in the development of the key resources aimed at supporting individuals, businesses and groups within the community as much as possible during these challenging times. The creation of the video messaging from the Shire President and Deputy President are a key focus on community connectedness at this time.  All COVID19 resources, videos and links can be accessed here.


Key Projects the Focus of Economic Recovery

Friday 1 May 2020

Now that the initial emergency response to the COVID19 pandemic has subsided we are endeavouring to resume focus on key projects for the community.  These include progressing the 2020-2021 financial year budget.  Like most businesses, it will be a tight year for the Shire and we will be looking to maintain our services as much as possible, despite the loss of income that will be incurred as a result of the Community Response Plan (click here for details)

We are continuing to actively lobby the state government seeking financial assistance that will promote local economic stimulus now as well as lobbying to assist with key projects that align with the proposed Talison mine expansion in Greenbushes.  Obviously COVID19 is impacting all business, and the impact on the proposed expansion is currently unclear.  We are still seeking government investment in key projects including:

  • Redevelopment of the Blackwood River Foreshore Park (Bridgetown)
  • Development of the Youth Precinct (Bridgetown)
  • Redevelopment of the Bridgetown and Greenbushes Railway Stations

These projects have been prioritised as being ‘shovel ready’ should external funding become available.  We have been actively pursuing that funding by grant applications and lobbying processes. 

Consultation with the Greenbushes community regarding the Redevelopment of the Greenbushes Sportsground and Campground project has been undertaken and compiled.  The feedback included suggestions for ongoing consultation and awareness of the importance of flora and fauna (particularly bird life) in the development of more detailed plans moving forward.  As soon as COVID19 restrictions on public gatherings are lifted there will be another community session in Greenbushes to discuss this project further.

Another key project is the redevelopment of the Bridgetown Town Hall & Civic Centre with Lotterywest funding secured and Federal government applications submitted.  Projects such as these are considered essential for the development of our communities, especially in light of the impacts of COVID19.  Seeking to progress these projects will assist the economic recovery of our community.


Review of Council Wards and Councillor Representation 

The Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes is conducting a review of its wards and representation and invites public participation in the review.

The Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes currently has a 2 ward structure – North Ward (2 councillors) and South Ward (7 councillors).

The purpose of the review is to assess the arrangements in place for the ward boundaries and representation that is most appropriate and best suits the characteristics of the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes and its electors and residents.

Ward boundaries and the number of offices of councillor for each ward will be reviewed against the following five factors:

  • Community of interest
  • Physical and topographic features
  • Demographic trends
  • Economic factors
  • Ratio of councillors to electors in the various wards

Council has endorsed a discussion paper outlining the current situation and several alternative ward structures. A copy of the discussion paper can be accessed here.

Written submissions on this matter, addressed to the attention of the CEO, will be received up to the close of business on Wednesday 17th June 2020.


Local Government Elections

Ordinary Election Results - 19 October 2019

Elected to South Ward
Jenny Mountford - 4 year term
Barbara Johnson - 4 year term
Peter Quinby - 4 year term
John Nicholas - 2 year term

Elected to North Ward
Tony Pratico - 4 year term
Joann Moore - 2 year term


Election of Shire President and Deputy President

A Special Meeting of Council was held on Monday 21 October, 2019 to swear in our newly elected Councillors and to elect the President and the Deputy President for the 2019-2021 term of office.

Congratulations are extended to Cr John Nicholas, elected to the position of President and Cr Barbara Johnson elected to the position of Deputy President.



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