Letters to the editor

December 16, 2017

Save Presbyterian Church

There is a strong rumour circulating in Benalla that the Board of Management of the Presbyterian Church in Benalla wants to subdivide its land on the corner of Church and Mitchell Sts.

This is to enable a block containing the former Presbyterian Church, the two disused tennis courts and the two large cedrus deodar trees to be sold off for redevelopment.

This block would be cleared of all encumbrances before being offered for sale.

If this was to happen Benalla would lose yet another of its historic buildings.

The former Presbyterian Church is the small, red-brick building facing Mair St, with the two large cedrus deodar trees flanking its entrance, and now used as the Benalla Family History Research rooms.

This building dates from 1866 and is the most intact mid-Victorian church in Benalla.

It is distinguished by its architectural design, which combines Italianate detail with a predominately neo-Gothic building.

The building is structurally sound and apart from some internal alterations to suit the present tenants, is in near-original condition, including the original galvanised iron roof.

The old church building is of such significance to Benalla that it is listed on the Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive) and in the City of Benalla Conservation Study (Vol. 3).

A sketch of the old Presbyterian Church building is also shown on the pictorial map of Benalla, 1882, erected beside the Information Centre in Mair St.

Many of the fine, old, town buildings, now lost by demolition, can also be seen on this map.

The two cedrus deodar (cedar) trees flanking the old church front door are magnificent examples of that tree species, perhaps 100 years old and thriving in an alien environment to their natural habitat.

They should be included on the Register of significant trees as well as the National Register of big trees.

It is to be hoped that this building and the two trees can be saved from demolition to be enjoyed by future generations of Benalla citizens.

— Ellen Crocker, Benalla

Roo suffers horribly

A family of kangaroos will never be the same again after today — on a lovely clear morning, a big boomer tried to follow a female and joey across the road.

He was confused by the VicRoads roll out of Armco barriers along Mansfield Rd, a speeding motorist hit him and broke his back.

The roo had propped, if this driver had slowed for just a few seconds none of this would have happened, but no, he sped up. The roo suffered horribly.

A few seconds would have saved all of this, more lives could have been lost.

For heaven’s sake, please drive with care.

— Gail, Benalla

Hardest time of the year

With all of life’s distractions, we sometimes forget the true meaning of Christmas. When we are caught up buying presents and over indulging in food, Christmas can be a time when we often forget what really matters.

But bad experiences and misfortunes can culminate at Christmas time, which means for vulnerable and marginalised Australians, Christmas can be the hardest time of the year.

For the Salvos it’s our busiest period, with more than 300000 families and individuals seeking assistance.

We give out more than 500000 gifts and toys, and serve over 10000 meals to those who don’t have the means to celebrate Christmas.

We can only meet this need because year after year Australians come together and stand by those doing it tough.

This, I believe, is the true meaning of Christmas. So this holiday season let’s remember those going it alone.

By donating $29 to The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal, you can help put a present under the tree and food on the table, bringing hope where it’s needed most.

— Neil Venables, national secretary for communications, The Salvation Army

Better to walk alone

It was great to read the very intelligent letter from Mike D. Larkin about the white ribbon march.

I would say spot on.

Not so with the letter from Kevin Smith.

Coming from Europe and having lived as a teenager through the holocaust period I am not interested at all in what most of the population thinks.

Ninety per cent of Germans venerated Hitler. So what?

It is better to walk alone than with a crowd going the wrong way.

To be sanctimonious means you think you are better or morally superior to others.

After the war as a teenager I could have suicided as I had witnessed the utter evil of mankind, but I realised that I also belonged to that human race and had the same genes in me.

I humbly repented before God and accepted Christ’s offer of grace.

Obviously Kevin has no need for grace as he seems to think he is better and holier than me and still quite a few others. So be it.

Now about this new era: according to the statistics:

●The use of drugs, methamphetamines including ice, tripled in the past five years;

●Youth suicide has reached a 10-year high. Alarmingly the statistics show that eight young children and youth suicide each week;

●NHS shows a shocking rise in self-harm among the young in the past 10 years. One in 10 self-harm;

●Question on internet ‘‘why are rates of domestic violence still so high?’’

●Alcoholism causes 3000 deaths per year and causes 5000 cases (or five per cent) of all cancers;

●Crime and assault are rampant;

●Marriages break up daily, leaving a spate of single parents;

●Abused children cry in silence;

●Young children can ask for a sex change and the courts can do nothing about it; and

●The RSPCA is inundated with cases of cruelty and neglect of animals.

Need I say more about the era we live in?

I don’t think that the narcissistic behaviour of the mayor of Benalla and others, the depicting of three menstruating women eating a plate of roast beef and the other uplifting examples mentioned, will do anything to diminish the hurt and frustration of the young people mentioned above.

On the contrary, the young don’t know where to turn any more, when we as adults behave like immature school kids lacking all wisdom, dignity and spiritual values.

— Diwi Bekins

‘Season of Belonging’

For many Australians, the festive season is one of joy and connection, where friendships and family are celebrated, food is shared and holiday plans are made.

Yet for others in our neighbourhoods, that sense of togetherness, warmth and belonging will not be felt, and rather an acute sense of loneliness will take hold.

Christmas Day might be lunch for one, sleeping rough or spent with the paralysing uncertainty of not knowing where family is, after being separated because of war or conflict.

There is hope. At Red Cross loneliness is not something to be ashamed of.

We’re there for people who have nobody else: calling and visiting, driving them to appointments, offering one-to-one support to those struggling with mental illness, or giving a warm welcome to those seeking safety from violence or persecution.

We know loneliness doesn’t discriminate.

It stealthily creeps into our lives, no matter our age, gender or ethnicity, and takes hold when tragedy happens, like losing a loved one, a divorce or losing your job.

And if you don’t catch it early, loneliness can reach chronic levels and have a significant effect on our health.

But it’s bigger than that.

When there’s no one by your side, and you’re feeling deeply isolated, communities start to become less trusting, there’s more fear and places start to feel less safe.

It’s time for Australians to change that.

Red Cross is calling on you to make this the ‘‘Season of Belonging’’, by taking simple steps.

Be kind on social media, say hello to your neighbours, volunteer or check on someone you know is in trouble.

A donation to Red Cross will also help us continue on our mission to work with half a million of the most socially excluded Australians to build the vital connections they need.

You can help:

— Wenda Donaldson, director Victoria, Australian Red Cross


I write to correct the Letter to the Editor of December 6 from Mr Kevin Smith.

In 2014 the Benalla Art Gallery hosted the Benalla Nude art prize and exhibition.

In his letter, Mr Smith said the council donated $20000 for the prize.

The prize of $50000 was donated by the Friends of the Benalla Art Gallery Inc.

— Tony McIlroy, chief executive officer, Benalla Rural City Council

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