Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Kaitlin Thals' Best of 2012

News journalist Kaitlin Thals looks back at a year of big news stories.

December 11, 2012 4:04am

1. Birth choice denied

GV Health

We first began hearing about this in May after two private obstetricians left Goulburn Valley Base Hospital.

Margreet Stegeman's contract was not renewed by Goulburn Valley Health and Ljiljana Jeftic-Ilic then resigned.

Since then, The News has been contacted by many concerned families about the lack of choice for women in the region, and last week, several expecting mothers spoke to us, as did Dr Stegeman.

Dr Stegeman is practicing in Shepparton privately, but has been denied admission rights by GV Health, meaning no private female obstetricians are delivering babies at the city's public hospital.

GV Health chief executive Kerryn Healy responded, "private access to Goulburn Valley Health is a privilege for medical professionals, not a right."

2. Facing the many challenges of isolation


Covering the 2012 north-east Victorian floods was a memorable and raw experience.

Wading through flood water, we watched as people waited anxiously as water levels rose, and we also spoke to people who had lost everything they owned.

Yet through all this trauma shone community spirit, as emergency services personnel, volunteers and residents came together to fight the floods.

Photographer Ray Sizer and I spent one day with Nathalia farmer Chris Bourke and his kelpie Rusty, who were isolated by floodwater. Chris drove us across his 1012ha property in his only mode of transport at the time - a tinnie.

This was a fine example of how wide-spread the floods were and gave us a real picture on its impacts. It would take three months for the water to completely drain from Chris' property.

3. School merger plans withdrawn


Parents from Mooroopna Park Primary School and Mooroopna Primary School were outraged to hear the schools could merge by January 2013.

Parents formed anti-merger committees and wrote letters to local government and Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon, saying they were left in the dark about the future plans for their schools.

The school's principals said the merger was the best way forward to deliver a greater range of learning opportunities and education facilities to students.

Eventually, plans were withdrawn by both school councils.

4. Communication failure blamed

Numurkah Hospital

The end result of Numurkah and its hospital was up for debate - and still is - after floodwater swept across the region in March.

After endless community meetings and an independent review of the floods in north-east Victoria, it was found ineffective communication, management and preparation led to unnecessary flooding of towns - with Numrukah identified as the most affected.

Outpourings of emotion continue to flow across Numurkah and district about the handling of the floods. The town will be without a fully-functioning health facility for more than two years, but residents have been reassured the hospital will be reinstated.

5. Left with nothing after blaze


When I met Mooroopna north resident Debra Mahy on August 1, all she owned were the clothes on her back and her vehicle.

Debra was lucky to be alove after escaping a fire which completely destroyed her weatherboard home earlier that morning.

Once again the community rallied and donated food, clothing and goods for Debra and her family, and a charity concert was organised a few months after.

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