Dennis Clarke

Veteran Community Award Winner

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Dennis Clarke

Veteran Community Award Winner

Latest Issue → Back Issues →


Cover Story

Recognising Dennis Clarke’s Contributions

By Dot Haynes OAM Long-time Manningham resident and former Marcellin College student Dennis Clarke was awarded the Veteran Community Award at the 2023 Victorian Senior of the Year Awards at Government House on Wednesday, 11 October. The award recognised Dennis for his exceptional contribution to the veteran community. Dennis and a select group of Senior Victorians from across the state were recognised by Minister for Ageing Ingrid Stitt and Governor of Victoria, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Margaret Gardener AC, at the Government House ceremony. Minister Stitt said, “The Victorian Senior of the Year Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of older Victorians and give us the chance to say thanks for all they do. I congratulate all award recipients and nominees.” Talking about his award, Dennis said he was deeply honoured, “As a veteran myself, it is incredibly satisfying helping other veterans, and I just want to do everything I can to support those who have experienced war, who have experienced loss through war and those who are struggling as a result.”  On 20 December 1967, at the age of 20 and now a fully qualified motor mechanic, Dennis received a letter from the Department of Labour and National Service, which notified him that he had been conscripted and to present himself to the Engineers Training Depot in Melbourne on 7 February 1968. Following ten weeks of recruit training and an assessment, Dennis was posted to the Royal Australian Electrical Mechanical Engineers (RAEME), where he served as a Diesel Mechanic/Plant Fitter. He served in Vietnam with 1 Field Squadron Engineers RAEME Workshop from January 1969 to July 1969, when he was medivacked back home due to contracting poliomyelitis.  Returning home to Manningham, Dennis immersed himself in his work, building a home and raising his three children with his wife, Martha. The family has now been extended to include six grandchildren.   Dennis was a partner in several automotive businesses within the municipality before opening his own business in Nunawading, where he specialised in Dyno Tuning and LPG conversions. He spent long hours – working from 6 am till 10 pm seven days a week. This was how he coped with PTSD, absorbing himself into his business and, at the same time, volunteering on the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce committee. In early 1980, he became the inaugural President of the RAEME Vietnam Association. He established a Vietnam Counselling Service in South Melbourne. He is still the President and continues to hold regional and metropolitan meetings to connect with Veterans through telephone calls or functions. Dennis became a Life Member of the RAEME Association in 2016 in recognition of his services.  Dennis joined Doncaster RSL in the late 1970s and since the late 1990s, he has been committed to helping raise funds not just for the RSL but Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia and LEGACY. As a result, he also became a Legatee.   As an accomplished drummer (he was in a band in the early 1960s), Dennis volunteered his services at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital to assist veterans in a program to help with PTSD, a condition he was diagnosed with in the 1990s.  Now, as the Senior Vice President of the Doncaster RSL, together with a very dedicated committee, Dennis has taken on the task of rejuvenating this unique RSL for veterans and the entire community, where many hours are spent sharing their life experiences.   Dennis was also recently recognised as Manningham Citizen of the Year by Manningham Council.   Dot Haynes OAM is the Secretary of the Doncaster RSL Subbranch.


Actions speak louder than words

On the evening of 14 October, less than two hours after polling on Referendum Day had closed, we learned that most Australians rejected a request by Indigenous Australians for recognition in our Constitution. Voters were asked whether they agreed to a change in the Constitution to establish the Voice – an advisory body to make representations to the federal government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The answer was an emphatic no. For a referendum to succeed, a majority of voters in four out of six states must vote yes, as well as a majority of all voters across Australia.  All states voted no, and Manningham voters were no different. The results for the federal seat of Menzies, which encompasses the entire municipality of Manningham, showed 44.26% of us voted yes and 55.74% voted no. It was the first referendum held this century, in the era of the internet and digital media. On the positive side, people could easily get the information they needed about the proposed change. But on the negative side, the worst aspects of the national character manifested themselves, often anonymously through social media. Long after we have moved on from this vote, the misinformation and offensive comments about Indigenous Australians during the campaign will be a shameful reminder of the referendum for future generations. in 2004, Michael Long, the football legend, walked from Melbourne to Canberra to raise awareness of the plight of Indigenous peoples and met with then Prime Minister, John Howard. He asked, “Where is the love for my people?” This year, in the lead-up to the referendum, Michael did the walk again. This time, he got an answer from the majority of Australians: we don’t love them enough to grant them a permanent body to have a say on things that affect them. Once again, Indigenous peoples have come off worst in their engagement with people who came later to this continent. We can add the referendum result to a sorry history of such interaction which included mass killings, disease, dispossession, and stolen children. After this rejection of their plea for recognition, will the First Peoples of this country trust us again? We don’t know.   We do know that we live on Wurundjeri Country, alongside the Yarra/Birrarung River. A river that is thousands of years old and an important life source for the Wurundjeri people. We know their songlines became our major roads like Manningham and Doncaster Roads.    It’s up to all of us to try to repair the relationship now.  We can start by not just talking the talk about reconciliation but walking the walk.  Actions speak louder than words.

Local Resident

Congratulations to Alana & Anita

By Avril Clark, Secretary of Doncaster Garden Club Garden Clubs of Australia Young Gardener of the Year - Alana Camilleri On Wednesday, 11 October, members, friends and guests participated in an exciting Awards night at the Doncaster Garden Club. We had nominated our youngest club member for an award from Garden Clubs of Australia. Doncaster Garden Club is one of the 780 affiliated clubs of Garden Clubs of Australia, which has a membership of more than 52,000 individuals.  We were thrilled when Alana Camilleri, our youngest member (and became a very young member), won the Young Gardener of the Year Award! Alana is an enthusiastic eighteen-year-old and a Year 12 student at Doncaster Secondary School. She joined the Doncaster Garden Club in November 2022. She and her father, Stephen, attend every monthly meeting and extend their knowledge by listening to reputable horticultural experts and mingling with and learning from local club members. At home, Alana has a 4 x 4-metre garden plot where she plants various seasonal crops, including celery, potatoes and lettuce. Alana is very knowledgeable about the timing and planting in her garden. Alana also raises and cares for six chickens as part of her sustainable living. We wish Alana every success for the future and her forthcoming VCE exams.   Manningham Council Doreen Stoves Volunteer of the Year nominee - Anita Luzza Mrs Anita Luzza is a loyal, hard-working member of the Doncaster Garden Club,  and we are thrilled that she has been recognised by Manningham Council with a beautiful framed certificate for her outstanding commitment to the Club. Anita has been a consistent and regular member of the Doncaster Garden Club for fifteen years and has been on the Committee for thirteen years. Anita’s role on the Committee is as Fundraising Co-Cordinator, and even before taking on this role, she did the monthly shopping for our monthly Club raffle prizes and sold raffle tickets to members on Club nights. She also approaches various nurseries in Warrandyte, Templestowe, Doncaster and Bulleen. She seeks the support of up to twenty local traders at the Tunstall Square shops for the Club’s extra large Christmas raffle.  Under new leadership, in the last 17 months, the Doncaster Garden Club has helped Bunnings at their Easter Fair and had a BBQ.  Anita had assisted in both.

Council Report

Aug to Sept 

By Alexander Owens Reports and reconstruction were the focus of our councillors' time over August and September.  Capital works have been a focus of this Council's term, with councillors committing to continually increasing construction and asset renewal spending. Over the last financial year (July 2022 to June 2023), Manningham spent 86% of its $54m capital works budget, with 158 projects completed, 16 continuing, and ten cancelled. This is a strong result considering current difficulties in material costs and sourcing labour, with up to six-month waits for drainage pipes and labour for projects having to be re-tendered as a result of receiving zero applicants. With Macedon Square's redevelopment cancelled and works there now comprising minor upgrades in line with Manningham's ongoing maintenance works across activity centres, councillors are turning their attention to the Aquarena outdoor upgrade and master plan. With the outdoor pool shell now 45 years old and at risk of significant structural failure in the next few years, the reconstruction of Manningham's only outdoor pool is an important priority. This project presents an opportunity to consider the redevelopment of the entire outdoor area at the facility, and the now-endorsed master plan provides a vision for this.  In addition to the already approved $10 million redevelopment for the 50m pool, the master plan proposes a deck to replace the infrequently used dive pool, add amphitheatre seating on the hill, expand the café, provide more shade, and replace the current toddler pool with a 25m programmable pool. This is projected to cost $13 million. Cr Conlon questioned the need for the programmable pool, which will primarily function as a sensory-adjusted quiet pool, given the cost has increased from an initial $7.3 million estimate in 2022. Mayor Deirdre Diamante advised that the cost had increased to factor in supply chain issues and include a contingency fund for further unanticipated costs. Construction is anticipated to close the outdoor facilities for 9-12 months, but once completed, the scope of the renewal is such that work will not be needed for years to come at Manningham's only pools.  A Nature Strip Guide has been endorsed by councillors, providing detailed regulations on how residents must maintain and optionally plant. Previously, permits and public liability insurance were required for most works, and this Guide reduces the frequency with which permission must be sought to alter nature strips, provided planting is in line with regulations. Cr Stephen Mayne noted that Manningham "didn't do any formal community consultation" and that nature strips were "our [Manningham Council's] land, but you're maintaining it." Given enthusiasm towards transparency and public consultation of plans and projects later in this meeting whilst discussing clean auditing results, it is irregular that this Guide was endorsed without consultation. Council can issue a "Notice to Comply" when nature strips do not meet regulations. Fines can be issued for non-compliance, in addition to having the power to take works at the landowner's expense without prior notice. Councillors encouraged residents to get in touch should they have any questions on what is permissible to plant on their nature strips.  Finally, annual reports are still flowing through, with regular auditing all being completed without finding issues with Manningham's operations. Council advisory committees have recently concluded a short call-out for nominations, which closed on 18 October. Manningham's advisory groups include the Youth, Disability, Gender Equality and LGBTQIA+, Health and Wellbeing, and Recreation and Sport advisory committees. Vacancies occasionally occur, and if you are passionate about any of these areas, keep an eye on Manningham's social media for opportunities to nominate yourself.   The recent national referendum on the First Nations Voice to Parliament saw Australia head to the polls in a complex environment of messaging, partisanship and misinformation. What was a roar on news, federal and state politics, and social media was instead a whisper in the Manningham council chambers. This was the norm for Victoria’s municipal councils, with only 16 of 79 publicly declaring a position, all of those being “Yes”, which included neighbouring councils Nillumbik and Yarra Ranges. On the decision to remain neutral, Mayor Deirdre Diamante stated that (in response to a question by ManninghamLife editor Stella Yee) Manningham would provide information from the AEC across its pages. However, Mayor Diamante highlighted the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation’s position for “Yes”, reading out a statement sourced from social media. This was later removed from Manningham’s website as the Corporation advised the statement may be updated.  Through the Reconciliation Action Plan, Manningham is committed to “regular Cultural Consultations” with elders and the Corporation, yet this statement being removed from the website shows a lack of clear dialogue between Manningham and the Corporation. Three of the nine councillors later publicly stated their support for the Voice, Crs Laura Mayne, Tomas Lightbody and Stephen Mayne, with the remaining councillors not stating a position. With reconciliation having previously been a priority of this council, underlined by a commitment to listen to First Nations groups such as the Corporation, the actions of this council have not followed their words and promises. 

Furry Locals

Snakes Alives!

By Andrew McFarland Since Spring is the active snake season, FOMDAC (Friends of Manningham Dogs and Cats) recently hosted a community event with renowned Australian snake catcher Raymond Hoser. Raymond recounted some of the many myths about our protected native reptiles and then moved on to a more serious subject - the difficulty of identifying snake species. Because snakes of the same species vary greatly in size and colour, Raymond’s advice was to play it safe and assume that all snakes are venomous. The vast majority of snakes will only bite if they are unwell or if you stand on them, or seek to catch, hurt or handle them. Usually they will avoid people. Dogs, however, can menace them and are more likely to be bitten. No property is snake proof and they can turn up anywhere at any time. Snakes can come up drainage systems, travel in trucks and cars or get dropped by birds. A snake’s domain is on properties adjacent to parkland, lakes and rivers. They can also be found where rodents thrive or amongst woodpiles, long grass, rubbish and sheet metal. The shelter of sheets of metal is particularly inviting. If you happen to find a snake on your property, LEAVE IT ALONE. Never attempt to catch, move or harm it. Stay calm, remove pets and children and maintain a safe distance. If you can, observe the location of the snake. Many snakes will simply move on. If it doesn’t, call a snake catcher. Meanwhile, take the opportunity to clean up your property, wearing protective clothing while doing so. Also, do not let your dog off-lead in long grass and areas where snakes typically hide.

Crime Prevention

Be Scam Savvy

By Leading Senior Constable Noni Bousfield Police are encouraging all Manningham residents to be scam savvy and practice saying NO assertively and confidently. A scam is when a criminal deceives you to steal your money or personal information. Scammers try to engage with people of all ages and backgrounds via telephone, email and social media. Scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and manipulative, so it’s important to be alert and protect yourself from falling victim to a scammer. Detectives at Manningham Crime Investigation Unit regularly have scams reported to them. Some recent cases include; An 80-year-old female from Doncaster has been repeatedly contacted by a scammer via phone over the past 9 months and has transferred around $100,000 via cryptocurrency. A 22-year-old female from Doncaster East received correspondence from a scammer claiming to be Chinese Police and threatened to arrest her if she didn’t transfer $70,000. A 47-year-old female from Templestowe received a text message from a scammer pretending to be her bank and requesting she call them regarding a security breach. She called the number provided in the text and lost $50,000 when tricked into revealing her banking details. A 79-year-old male from Doncaster received a call from a scammer claiming to be from a government agency. He downloaded remote access software onto his phone, but thankfully realised something was off prior to losing any money. Multiple men on dating apps have been tricked into thinking they were communicating with an attractive local female. The scammers (likely overseas males) request an intimate photo, then threaten to share the image with the man’s friends and family unless payment is made.  Be sceptical and cautious of contact you don’t initiate. Scammers love to create a sense of urgency. They don’t want you to think things through. They want to pressure you into acting quickly. Scammers usually claim to be from a familiar organisation, like your bank, service provider, a business or government agency. They may say things like, “We’ve detected a hacker trying to access your account, transfer your money now to help us catch the hacker!”. Or “There is a warrant for your arrest for an outstanding debt!”. Or “Double your money now with cryptocurrency!”. Or “Your bank manager is corrupt, withdraw cash now and hand it to an undercover police courier!”. If you receive contact from someone via your phone or computer, try imagining yourself sitting alone at a café and a stranger sits down next to you and is asking questions such as, “What are your bank account details?” or “Let’s set up a cryptocurrency account on your mobile phone” or “Can I have a photo of you naked?”. If this happened at a café, you would likely tell the stranger to leave you alone. If they kept pestering you, you would call the police! Treat cyber contact with the same precaution you would a random stranger in the street. Say NO. Don’t worry about being rude. You don’t need to engage in conversation with someone contacting you unexpectedly. Cease contact, no explanation needed. Block all contact with a suspected scammer. If a scammer succeeds in taking your money, be extra cautious of secondary scammers claiming to be investigating the original scam and offering to get your money back. While most scammers are making contact from overseas, some scamming criminals may come to your home in person. They typically claim to be doing a survey to obtain personal information. Or they may pretend to be tradies able to repair an urgent issue with your home that they just happened to spot. They will ask for an upfront deposit or full payment via credit card or in cash (even offering to drive you to the bank), then do a dodgy job or simply disappear. Police encourage you to have conversations with your loved ones about scams to educate and empower them. Victims are often embarrassed or afraid to tell their family if they’ve been scammed. Older people tend to have more money and accumulated wealth than younger people, making them an attractive target for a scammer. It’s important that your loved ones know they can talk to you about any strange requests or interactions they’ve had. Leading Senior Constable Noni Bousfield is positioned at the Doncaster police station and, in her role as Manningham’s Crime Prevention Officer, is available to give crime prevention presentations to community groups. Contact Noni on (03) 8841 3999 to enquire further. To learn more about protecting yourself and your loved ones from scams, visit and If a scam involved the theft of your identity, contact or phone 1800 595 160. Criminals also try to connect with young people via online games and social media. For information about keeping your kids safe online, visit For emergencies, to report a crime in progress, or for immediate police attendance, please call Triple Zero (000).