Local News at Your Fingertips

‘A Royal Affair’ – Rob Forgan

2014-02-05 11.06.50

Rebekah Lowe and Rob Forgan in Studio 1 5 THEFM

by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow

Rob Forgan, took a day out from his ‘Gap Year’ experience, to be a  guest on 5 THE FM’s morning program with Rebekah Wednesday 6th February. Rob is a new member of the passionate community group Rehls @ Wehls,  who regularly screen a variety of International films at the Wehls Street Theatre in Mt Gambier. They will host a special screening ‘A Royal Affair’ on Valentine’s Day this year Friday 14th February.

The Wehl Street community group was established over 5 years ago by a group of people who seeded this project with personal funds. They wanted to screen films not shown anywhere else in the region and films that the community would normally have to travel to Adelaide or Melbourne to see. Films must meet a certain criteria and are not being screened anywhere else in the region, is one of the important requirements. They are complimentary, not competitive, to any other screenings in the area and a huge variety.

“The mix over the years has been remarkable,” Rob said.

“We come under the banner of the Victorian Film Society and Patron David  Stratton and Margaret whose ratings we watch and if they rate a film under 31/2, we don’t screen it.

“People from Mt Gambier, Millicent, Penola, Casterton and even as far Dartmoor and Nelson make up the audience on many nights and some do not even check what is screening. They come for the experience, the social outing and are prepared to enjoy the unknown screening on the night. Films are screened every 6 weeks, usually on a Thursday evening except on Valentines day and this year the special Valentines Day screening will be on a Friday.

“Sub-titles are usually provided because the films are in a variety of languages depending on the film. French and Italian films are popular but there is a variety of cultures represented at the screenings. One Scottish Film was so hard to understand, even though it was in English, we really needed the sub titles  because the only easily recognisable words were the ‘swear’ word,”  Rob said.

“The sub-committee sometimes watches the film beforehand but often they take it on the recomendation of peers or members,: Rob said.

“A member may come back from a flight and say they saw a great movie on the plane and as long as it meets our guidlines, we will screen it.”

“The Valentines Day film is about a girls who goes to Denmark to marry the King and realises that the King is mentally unstable and the Physician is very attractive!”

“The film is set in 1767 or there-abouts.”

“The next film is an Italian one and will screen on March 13th. This film is set ‘on the road’ as people travel to a Music Festival, it is a comedy and is about humility and the meaning of life.”

“I’m sure there will be a lot of laughter during this film I think and that’s great; you can laugh out loud and really enjoy yourself.”

“Wehl Street Theatre began life as a Primary School, went on to be used as a TAFE campus and is now a nostalgic setting for a night of culture. The theatre seats 250 people, the seats are in long rows similar to yesteryear.  One seat here and there may not have worked but you could move on to the next one, it is a friendly setting and people say they feel at home there.”

“Before the film we serve drinks and nibbles and most importantly the theatre is air conditioned,” Rob added. “Our last screening was on a 40 degree day and everyone was very comfortable in the theatre.”

“It is a real social evening too.”

“We have the next four years dates planned which makes us  even more organised than the International Olympic Committee!” he said laughing.

“We have eleven films coming our way this year and we plan four in advance.”

“Our group is called a Film Society but it is not a closed group it is pen and everyone is welcome.”

“Our selections provide the Limestone Coast with a selection of movies second to none and our frequency is also of very high quality.”

Rob laughingly calls this year his Gap Year and we asked him, gap year from what?

Rob Forgan retired from his SE Local Government Association (SELGA) Executive Officer role in February 2013.  SELGA, a regional local government association represents the 7 Member Councils in the Limestone Coast (SE) region.

 Rob is no stranger to the South East having spent his teens and the majority of his schooling in Penola and Mount Gambier. His family left the region in the late 60’s and Rob somewhat older and wiser made the decision to return with his young family to the Limestone Coast 30 years later.

 Over the past 15 years, Rob has served on a broad range of regional, state and cross border committees in the Green Triangle region.  Some of these included the Green Triangle Freight Action Plan Implementation Management Group, Regional Roads and Transport Working Group, the Limestone Coast Economic Diversification Forum and the convenor of the SE Road Safety Strategy. Rob also led a successful campaign to amend the Commonwealth’s restrictive criteria on Student Income Support that discriminated against and disadvantaged regional youth who needed to leave their homes in regional Australia to undertake tertiary studies.

 Rob’s previous employment history includes the delivery of small business advisory services in regional South Australia and a substantial background in Human Resource Management specialising in recruitment.

 His work colleagues are impressed with his lateral thinking, his capacity and commitment, his extensive networks and knowledge of regional Australia. His peers all remark that they have come to understand and appreciate his unique sense of humour.  As Rob puts it “we spend a large chunk of our time at work, we may as well enjoy it, make it enjoyable and fun for those we interact with and not take ourselves too seriously”.

 Rob and his wife Julie are avid travellers whose passports indicate that they regularly seek the road less travelled with recent adventures in Cuba, Mexico, Cambodia and Laos and have plans to continue for as long as possible.

 In his opinion, the Limestone Coast still is a great place to live and work and an Australian region often overlooked despite its unlimited potential.

Hatherleigh Golf Club invites community to have a go

2014-01-31 11.10.16

Rebekah Lowe chats with Val Clarke President of Ladies Golf Hatherleigh

by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow

Hatherleigh Golf Club members decided recently that they needed to launch a campaign to increase their numbers and Val Clarke said, “I’ll go and see 5THE FM, they do community announcements.”

Val arrived at 5THE FM’s reception to ask about a community announcements and got more than she had hoped for with a spontaneous spot on air with 5THE FM’s Rebekah Lowe to promote the Hatherleigh Gold Club and their need for new members.

“We are a progressive club, the greens are amazing at the moment and we really want people to know that they are welcome to come and have a go,” she said.

Hatherleigh Competition Days are Thursday each week, beginning at between 9-15 to 9-30am and everyone is welcome.

“You don’t have to be at a certain standard,” she said, “just come and have a go and see if you like it.”

“The club was formed in the early 1970’s and we just want to keep it going, so we’d like people to come and try it, they may like it and decide to stay,” she said.

If you would like further information you can call Val on 8735 9050 0r 0429 359 050

Former Kangaroo Inn student’s work in Kenya

adam and rebekah 2

Rebekah Lowe and Adam Sargent in 5 THE FM’s Studio One.

by S Lowe 5THE FM’s newsonline wattlerangenow

Former Kangaroo Inn student Adam Sargent was born and raised in Beachport and the surrounding region but distant horizons always beckoned. His family’s interest in overseas programs and assisting those who need a helping hand were definitely an influence Adam said. He is the Chairman and Founding Board Member of the NGO UMaY in Kenya which develops programs to assist and uplift men and youth in Africa and now is broadening its focus on uplifting Africa in areas of education, orphanages, mental health and vitality, medical and community health, food security and environment and is currently developing a radio station as part of the media program and building project that will begin early this year 2014.

Adam has worked in Dubai representing investors from Australia; he has worked in London and Kenya. Career roles include establishing the Hospitality Guild while working as Director of Development for People 1st, the UK Sector skills Council; he also sits on the Board of Directors for Quo Vadis Trust, a mental health and housing charity.

Adam moved to Kenya in 2009 to volunteer with the NGO Kenya Network of Women with AIDS (KENWA) whilst doing research into the sustainability of Non Governmental Organisations.

He oversaw the establishment of UMaY, its official launch in 2010 and is focusing on identifying and understanding successful programs that can be implemented by UMaY in Kenya.

Adam is a regular guest on 5THE FM and dropped in again while home for Christmas with parents Gordon and Yvonne Sargent of Beachport, who visited Adam in Kenya 2 years ago.

Adam’s sister is a paediatric nurse in Bali, training local nurses in the hospital she works in, and has just applied to work with ‘Doctor’s With-Out Borders.’  She visited 5 THE FM shortly before leaving for London to further her studies 2 years ago and said she looked forward to working with Adam in Africa in the future.

Adam spoke with Rebekah on 5THE FM on the morning program on Thursday 23rd January 2014 and explained what led him to Africa. He began a research program into the effectiveness of NGO’s is Africa and the struggles and health issues of the people, and with 2 other men, they established UMaY, spending 2 ½ years creating programs for men and youth in the region. UMaY began in Korogocho, one of the worse slum areas in Africa, where over 200,000 people live in shocking conditions.  Adam said the only way to describe the living conditions there is it smells like a sewer farm, a rubbish dump, and the shanty homes are built from scrap materials on the uneven surface of the rubbish dumps.

The homes have no power and no sewerage but he said the people’s willingness to work at whatever they can do is obvious; they will wash dishes, deliver parcels, transport people on the back of their scooters, they will do anything to earn something!

His  work in Dubai had given him the opportunity to save and with this money he supported himself and financially supported the work of UMaY.  However this situation was not sustainable and he returned to London where he was able again to have income but also investigate further economic programs for Africa.

NGO’s cannot apply for federal funding until they have been operating for 2 years and have a proven sustainability and effectiveness record so the initial 2 years were spent doing that. Operations were scaled back while Adam worked in London  until funding could be applied for but his 2 friends, who helped establish UMaY, maintained basic operations during this time.

During the two years he spent in Kenya with UMaY, they  implemented programs such as a youth based centre, HIV clinic, maternity programs, and female youth programs. They encouraged other NGO organisations to become involved with them and together become more effective.

“The people live in terrible conditions but their spirit is strong, he said.  Drought still affects the country through lack of water and this is an on-going challenge for the people.”

“Kenya has had a troubled history; in the 07/08 the government gained power in a hotly contested election violence, resulting in terrible violence and this caused confusion with the people of Kenya because they could not understand why their neighbour their friend became violent.  A new constitution was developed and new president and Kenya is now moving forward.”

As Kenya moves forward, UMaY want to work with the Government, not against it, to help the people be uplifted, support the people as the changes are implemented.

“Big companies are now investing in Kenya and this will help develop Africa, so we all need to work together for the best outcome,” he said.

“We don’t want to repeat what is already being done but find gaps in the needs being addressed and put our focus where it is most needed.. We found that the needs of men and youth were not being addressed as much as the women were, and this was creating further problems.”

“When women learned new ways to cook or protect themselves from HIV, the men were not learning at the same time and so this compounded the problem of violence.”

“The men needed to be educated at the same time.”

“The men did not know how to process the changes, so we worked with other NGO’s to help bring about that change.”

“The exciting news is that we have now been able to apply for considerable funding and expect to receive that  in the next few months. This will enable us to build a new Centre where 6 key program streams will operate from.”

UMaY’s six program streams are:-

          Youth Support and Development Program

          Life skills training, pre-employment and education program

          Food security and agricultural training program

          Orphans and vulnerable children care and support program

          Health and vitality program

          Greening Kenya environmental program

“We will be looking after men and the boy child and well as women and girls now.”

“The radio station in the new Centre will bring together all community radio stations across Africa to reach all youth. Even if they do not go on to have a career in radio, it builds confidence in them to apply for another job, stories they hear on radio will inspire them in their own life.”

“Radio can be a very positive influence in people’s lives.”

“Silas Miami is the director of youth and he is a recording artist and musician and  is looking at an arts program, culture and music program for the youth bringing together well-known artists mixed with, up-and-coming artists, providing HOPE for the future through radio and concerts.”

“Everyone needs a break; rich or poor.”

“Silas just finished recording his latest song last night and emailed it to me at 4-00 am this morning so that it could be launched on 5THE FM this morning.”

 The song ‘What we Lost’ by Silas Miami was broadcast first on 5THE FM on Thursday 23rd January.

Rebekah asked Adam where home is for him.

“Australia is home but Kenya has a special part in my heart. I always come home to Beachport for Christmas with my family.”

“I may settle  in Australia again, and travel to Dubai and Kenya for my work there. We’ll see”

For further information about Adam’s work in Kenya, go to  http://www.umayafrica.org

Editors note:

WRN asked Adam what he thought of the closure of Obstetric Services at the Millicent Hospital.

“Deplorable, ” he said.

“In our work in Kenya I have learned  that a woman has a better overall outcome at the time of giving birth if she is in a familiar place with people around her she trusts and that trust is built during the pregnancy, with her doctor and staff. We are trying to build that for the women of Africa and right here in Millicent the very thing that women from the area need and could have, is being denied them.”

I asked Adam what he thought of the reports that local Millicent women have been discharged from the Mt Gambier hospital only hours after giving birth,  sent home to Millicent in a private car, with a baby just hours old.

“Policies and procedures seriously need to be looked at,”  he said.

” I have no other words for this situation other than it is deplorable.”