A shining example of Ballarat community
What a joy it was to be able to participate last Sunday in a free public event inviting friendship and goodwill, combined with enquiry. The Friendship Walk organised by Ballarat Interfaith Network, in partnership with the Jewish, Christian, Islamic Association of Australia, on 5th November, invited participating members of the public into three different places of worship within the city: St Alipius Catholic church, the Ballarat Hebrew Congregation Jewish synagogue, and the Islamic mosque.
What was evident throughout this event was the genuine interest people showed in listening to what each faith believed in, and the history of each building in Ballarat, and freely asking questions for greater understanding. Adding to the enjoyment of the occasion was being able to hold conversations with one another as we walked from venue to venue. It was an ideal sunny spring day. When the afternoon concluded with refreshments and a great spirit of friendship and goodwill at the mosque. It was clearly apparent that Christians of various denominations, Jews, Muslims, Baha'is, Hindus, and others of no particular faith at all, could meet together in complete harmony. This is a good news story worth celebrating.
Margaret Lenan Ellis, Invermay
Footpath funding rethink
There are 547 local government councils in Australia, and having travelled widely in Australia, I am aware of the atrocious condition of footpaths in most municipalities. As I have been saying to our local council, the state and federal governments for a year, it is high time a real start is made to improve the lot of the entire population, all of whom rely on good footpaths. There are 30 types of mobility aids used legally on Australian footpaths - most are on wheels - and there are 40 categories of people who desperately need good footpaths. Our proposal has culminated to the following: that the federal government offers to all 547 local government councils, if they choose to apply, an equal share of $547 million dollars each year of special "within-municipalities-footpath-funding" to be used giving preference to paths that have never been sealed previously, thus meaning more than $1 million dollars annually to those councils applying if others choose not to apply. The reason for this indirect method of funding is to bypass the fact that the federal government has a problem with the legislation between itself and local government which can be overcome if councils request a share of the grant. If this becomes, as it should, ongoing annual funding, it would need to be restricted to majority housed streets and part-housed streets thus maintaining the rules applying to commercial development. No doubt federal, state and local governments would between them, be able to resolve any issues thus allowing an early start to, and continuity of this programme through changes of government at any level, and also be able to make an early start to this fulfilling of a deserving need to all people in Australia, and rewarding to us all in varying ways.
Donald Drake, Maryborough.
Butttons left behind
The recent letters to the editor about the arrival in Ballarat in 1865 of six officers of the Shenandoah and their attendance at a ball in their favour is a timely reminder to all custodians of button boxes and other containers of heirloom trivial bits and pieces, to check for gilt buttons showing two crossed cannon behind an anchor and chain with the initials 'CSN' ( Confederate States Navy) below. If you are lucky to have one passed down from previous generations then it's a strong indication that your grandmother received 'special' attention from one of the confederate officers who cut off and gave a button from his tunic to seal a kiss irrespective of the lady's marital status. More than one madame cried as the train took her officer of the previous night and early morning back to Melbourne and out of her life.
Peter Berlyn, Mt Rowan