Council bears cost, but shirks responsibility

Latrobe Valley RSLs will receive funding to cover Anzac Day and Remembrance Day traffic management costs until the end of next year, but could be on their own after that unless another source of funding is found.
Nanjing Night Net

At Monday night’s Latrobe City Council meeting councillors voted to provide funding until the end of 2018 when the Anzac centenary commemoration period ends.

According to a council officer’s report, 2017 Anzac Day and Remembrance Day traffic management expenses across the municipality will cost about $23,500.

Traffic management is a legislative requirement once a road is closed for an event.

The motion passed by councillors also resolved council would continue working with local RSLs to lobby other levels of government to meet traffic management expenses on an ongoing basis.

It comes after disagreement between the three levels of government as to who is responsible for traffic management costs on these days. Councillor Dale Harriman told the meeting council could only cover the expenses for the next two years.

“What I’d love to say is ‘we’re covering it for forever and a day’ – we can’t,” Cr Harriman said.

“We’re only doing it for two years to work out how we’ll do it in the future.”

He said council would continue to investigate options for other levels of government to cover the costs.

Council will also investigate the possibility of sourcing corporate sponsorship and engaging other service organisations to assist with traffic management operations.

The situation will be reviewed ahead of 2019 Anzac Day and Remembrance Day planning.

Council first paid for traffic management expenses in 2015 as part of the centenary of Anzac Day.

In late 2015 Traralgon RSL revealed signage and contractor costs for 2014 Anzac Day services in Traralgon and Glengarry were $10,500 – money that could have been spent on veteran welfare.

Councillors unanimously voted to support the motion.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Action ‘critical’ in achieving cyber safety

Adults are being urged to act on behalf of young victims of cyber bullying. A workshop is empowering adults to take action when it comes to cyber bullying and exploitation.
Nanjing Night Net

The free eSafetyworkshop is the result of a partnership between the BYou City of Ballarat Youth Development Team and the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner.

It is aimed at parents, and people working in youth education and welfare sectors, with a focuson the steps they can take whenrespondingto the online bullying of children.

Jodie Downey from the Youth Development Team said the office had significant powers to remove damaging online material such as hate pages and posts.

“(The office) has aclose alignment with all those big organisations such as Facebook and Twitter to be able to pull down material that is destructive and offensive, and that (power) never existed previously,” she said.

“You can access the office, put in a complaint and it is taken very seriously.”

Ms Downey saidyoung victims of bullying were oftenin a position where their self-esteem was low, andexperiencedfeelings of stress, depression and confusion.

She urged adults toadvocate for them.

“Very oftenyoung people don’t talk about these sorts of things until it is at a crisis point,” she said.

“So at that point it is really important that someone steps up and is in their corner and acts on their behalf, it is critical.”

Shesaid the policing role the office played was vital, especially in combating the harms of cyber bullying, which could have a “devastating” impact on the victim.

Councillor Des Hudson agreed.

“The impacts if these issues are notcontained or resolved, it could potentially lead to unlawful assaults, even much more criminal assaults, suicidal ideology and in the most tragic of outcomes, where a person will take their life,” he said.

In his role with Victoria Police, Cr Hudsonsaid there was alwaysdemand for cyber safety presentations at primary schools, secondary schools and parent forums.

One of the biggest difficulties for schools and communities was the uncertainty of who was responsible when it came to the online platform.

Despite these grey areas, Cr Hudson said local schools were “very proactive” in working throughissues with their students.

He also noted it was important to realise cyber safety involved everyone.

“We tend to think cyber safety is just a young person educational opportunity, when we know that there are more than 15 million Australians who regularly use Facebook and then other social media platforms as well,” he said.

Cr Hudson said if people were the victims of online bullying or harassment, to gather evidence by taking screenshots and keeping these ina folder that could be useful for law enforcement later on.

The free eSafety workshop takes place on Thursday, February 16, from 6pm-8.30pm at the Ballarat Art Gallery Annexe.

Registration is essential. For more information visit esafetyballarat.eventbrite南京夜网419论坛.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Public asked for help tracking crusaders

DISCOVERY: QVMAG entomologist Simon Fearn examining the crusader bug, which has been recently found in Tasmania. Pictures: Piia WirsuIt’s not the middle ages and we’re not in Europe but there may be a crusade happening in Tasmania right now.
Nanjing Night Net

The crusader bug, or mictis profana, has recently been observed in the state for the first time and it’s something of a mystery.

“What is really odd about it is that it’s such a large and conspicuous a bug, they are quite big animals and they’ve got this distinctive cross on their back,” Queen Victoria Museum entomologist Simon Fearn said.

“The questionis, how can such a large, conspicuous insect that’s been recorded all over Australia stay unnoticed here for 200-odd years?”

The museum is calling on the public to help solve the “curious mystery”.

“We can’t be everywhere and to do a proper survey of the coastline is just beyond our resourcesso we’re asking for the public to help us,” Mr Fearn said.

The public is asked to keep an eye out for the crusader bug and let the QVMAG know of any sightings.

The bugs, which are widespread on mainland Australia,occur in coastal areasandanyone living or holidaying near the beach is asked to keep their eyes peeled for the bug.

“They live in the … low scrub that’s directly behind the dunes above the high tide mark, and they live on the coast wattle or boobyallah,” Mr Fearn said.

Mr Fearn found the crusader bug at Beechford on the North Coast in December, 2016, which is intriguing in itself.

“We had a family shack there for many years in the 70’s and 80’s and as a bug-mad kid Icollected insects extensively there … and never saw them,” he said.

He has not found the species in any other coastal locations.

It is unknown if the bug has recently arrived in Tasmaniaor has just been rare and gone unnoticed in localised pockets, which is contrary to its behaviour everywhere else it occurs.

“It’s really important to know whether or not due to global warming maybe these things have recently arrived, maybe they came in on a camper van or something –we just dont know,” Mr Fearn said.

“If it turns out there’s just pockets of them right around the coastline then it just means that for whatever reason they’ve been completely overlooked, but if it turns out they’re only in that area [Beechford] then it looks more and more like they may have accidentally got here.”

Mr Fearn thinks it unlikelythe bug will have a big impact on coastal ecology.

“They don’t appear to be a pest, on the mainland they sometimes get into citrus crops but they’re never a major pest so their impact is probably going to be very small, but it’s just areally curious storywhy they have suddenly popped up allof a sudden,” he said.

For anyone who sights the bug;it is not dangerous but be warned, it does produce a stinky liquid when handled. Mr Fearn suggests the use of a jar, into which they will drop easily, to collect any specimens.

Any specimens found can be taken into the museum, or anyone who has sighted the bug can contact [email protected]论坛.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

McGregor v Mayweather: why it will be Farce of the Century II

Roll up! Roll up! Roll up!
南京夜网

Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor!

The Ultimate Fight in Las Vegas!

Mayweather, the undefeated boxing champion to beat ’em all, v the Irish UFC fighter McGregor who has beaten them all up in his own sport – and now needs someone bigger to work over!

Not just a battle between fighters, but between sports! Not just the 39-year-old Old Bull v the 28-year-old Young Bull, but Ye Olde Pugilistic Art v Street Thuggery pretending to a respectability it does not remotely possess.

Friends, it is tabloid heaven, and it broke in the Irish Sun on Monday, instantly generating headlines around the world.

“Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather,” the paper quoted a source close to the Irishman, “have agreed a deal to fight and have both settled on their respective fees. The contract hasn’t officially been signed yet because of a third party hold-up but all the details have all been agreed on. The fight could even be announced within two weeks.”

And yes, of course, Mayweather, has since downplayed the report with some quotes of his own, but, happily, I speak fluent boxer and can translate:

“There seems,” Mayweather said, “to be several rumours floating around media recently however, let the record show, there hasn’t been any deals made in regards to a fight between myself and any other fighters.” (Translation: Like the Irish Sun says, I have not yet actually put pen to paper to sign the contract. What I’d actually like, first, is to squeeze a few more million dollars out of the promoters. They’re currently talking $100 million for each of us, but I want more. My name is bigger than his.)

“I am happily retired and enjoying life at this time. (Look, I think even my supporters are laughing hard at that one. In the history of the world no one with my record just says ‘I’ve had enough’ and walks away. We will always come back for more, and I will, too. I just want to squeeze a few more million out of them, did I mention?)

“If any changes are to come, be sure that I will be the first to let the world know.” (“Come on, gimme a few more million! You can see the publicity even this report is generating, you must KNOW that this thing will turn over a billion dollars!”)

For his part, McGregor has already waxed lyrical on his chances. “I’ve got the reach. I’ve got youth. I’ve got the confidence. I’ve got the unpredictable style. You can’t prepare for a style like me. Why conquer one world when you can conquer two? So I’m going to go conquer two worlds.” (Translation: “$100 million? That’ll do me!”)

In sum, my pound to your peanut says it will happen. And my pound to your peanut farm says it will be a farce.

Older readers will remember that in 1976, the great Muhammad Ali took on the world’s wrestling champion, Antonio Inoki, in Tokyo, in what was billed as the “Fight of the Century”, before a global audience of 1.4 billion.

It was actually the Farce of the Century. What we saw, instead of a genuine contest, was Muhammad standing over the poor bastard who refused to stand and kept kicking him in the leg.

“The celebrated ‘Bout of the Century’ turned out to be the rip-off of the century,” the Japan Times noted the next day. “The 15-round contest was pretty much a bore from start to finish. Ending in a draw, it proved once again that when an apple fights an orange, the results can only be a fruit salad.”

Ditto this.

For, what rules could they come up with to make it an actual contest?

On one side you have boxing, based on Marquis of Queensbury rules, which, from 1865, maintains that, “you must not fight simply to win; no holds barred is not the way; you must win by the rules.” Those rules are very explicit and based on the notion that boxing is an art, that rules are followed by gentlemen and that thugs need not apply to win in their thuggish ways.

And on the other side you have UFC – much more lethal and multifaceted than mere kickboxing – which says, broadly, that “the only rule is are that there are no rules, and anything goes!”

In pure fighting terms, it is putting a boxer with a hammer, up against a UFC fighter with a hammer, a chainsaw, a grappling hook, a knife and the sledgehammer that is his foot flying at his opponent’s head.

How do you make that an even contest?

You don’t. You just make it appear an even contest in some contrived manner, you sell the rights, sell the tickets and make hundreds of millions of dollars as the suckers pour in.

“No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public,” the great H.L. Mencken once wrote, and this, friends, will prove to be the second-greatest example of that, after the ascension of President Donald Trump. But it runs it close … which is saying something.

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

VIDEO: Alex Lahey is cracking the whip for her debut album

ON A ROLL: Alex Lahey is expanding her horizons in the UK supporting her childhood idols Tegan and Sara.ANYONE who has learnt to play guitar remembers the joy of finally making the strings produce the sound of a recognisable song. Like solving amagical puzzle.
南京夜网

The first songs indie songwriter Alex Lahey taught herself wereTegan andSara’s Nineteen and Call It Off from the Canadian duo’s 2007 album The Con.

It’s fitting that the same act which played a pivotal rolein Lahey’s earlymusical development, are also helpingthe 24-year-old Melbournian take hernext major step in the industry.

Lahey is in Englandon her first international tour supporting Tegan and Sara.

“It’s definitely the biggest opportunity given to me so far and I am so grateful to Tegan and Sara for it,” Lahey tells Weekender from her London motel room.“This is the first time I’ve ever toured overseas and to be doing it under the wing of two of the most respected artists in the world is truly humbling.”

It was actually Lahey’s deep respect for Tegan and Sara’s music thathelpedher land the support tour, which passes through venues like London’s Roundhouse and Manchester’s Albert Hall.

“When I was at SplendourI just went up to them and said, ‘thank you for giving me the songs that helped me develop into my own artist’,” she says.“To even have the opportunity to express my gratitude to them like that was such an honour.”

Alex Lahey – Wes AndersonThe hype surrounding Lahey has been building over the past year. Her debut EP B-Grade University and its singles Let’s Go Out and You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me are Triple J favourites andLahey’s melodic tunes and wittyobservational lyrics have led to comparisons with Courtney Barnett.

Expectations are high Lahey will deliver with herdebut album. The record is currently in production and is being produced by Holy Holy guitarist Oscar Dawson.

“The record is coming along swimmingly, thus far,” Lahey says.“We tracked the beds for seven of the songs on it last week before I flew to the UK, and will we keep working on those and some other songs I’ve written for the next couple of months until it’s all done and dusted. Making a first album is a very daunting, yet exciting task, and having someone like Oscar working on my first record with me makes it all the more special for me.”

Just like B-Grade University, Lahey’s album will cover a widerange oftopics. Everything from getting dumped toaccepting her brother’s friendship and telling off people for texting while driving.

Alex LaheyB-Grade Uni EP with any sort of plan for how it would turn out and I’m taking that attitude into this album too, in a way,” she says.“I think the record will show some development and potentially more cohesion in the arrangements of the songs, but at the end of the day, I only ever write about things that I’ve experienced personally, so that common thread will still be there.”

Following the overseas tour, Lahey is heading back to the Hunter for the Hard Grime festival at Maitland Gaol. On her last trip to Newcastle she played a wild free show at the Sydney Junction Hotel.

“The show was awesome, not only because of the energy in the room, but also because of the genuine gratitude from everyone who came along,” she says.“It just goes to show that touring isn’t just about hitting up capital cities.”

Catch Alex Lahey alongside The Gooch Palms, Luca Brasi and Nicole Millarat Hard Grime on March 4.

Lane Cove, North Sydney councils reconsider fight against mergers as five stand firm

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announcing on Tuesday that the government would proceed with the five merger proposal across Sydney. Photo: Louise KennerleyNSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian may have resolved the uncertainty in regional councils, but in Sydney the limbo continues as mayors expressed disappointment and frustration over the government’s decision to continue the city mergers.
南京夜网

Promising to “end the uncertainty”, Ms Berejiklian announced on Tuesday the government would abandon its proposed mergers of regional councils, which had been delayed by legal action.

But she recommitted to proceeding with the five pending Sydney mergers, which councils have also fought through the courts.

“Profound disappointment sums it up,” said Hunters Hill mayor Richard Quinn, who accused the government of prioritising a development agenda over local representation.

“Ms Berejiklian hasn’t ended uncertainty at all. What certainty has come is that the whole motive is housing and development issues. It’s about ensuring there is more and more development in Sydney.”

Justifying her decision on Tuesday, Ms Berejiklian said the benefits of the city mergers far outweighed those in the bush, and were necessary to address the city’s housing affordability crisis and improve development approval times.

“It is really important for us if we care about housing affordability, if we care about planning and infrastructure, to go and proceed with these reforms.”

While some mayors have reaffirmed their council’s resolve to continue their legal challenges, others are reassessing the futility of the fight, given the government’s renewed determination, amid mounting costs to ratepayers.

Mayors from Hunters Hill, Strathfield, Ku-ring-gai, Mosman and Woollahra all confirmed their councils would not abandon their legal challenges.

However, Lane Cove and North Sydney councils will vote to decide whether to maintain their appeals at council meetings on Monday.

In North Sydney, where residents will soon go to the polls for the North Shore byelection, mayor Jilly Gibson said she was now “very despondent” about the council’s legal challenge, but acknowledged some of her fellow councillors did not share her view.

“The courts can’t save North Sydney council. Only the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, can. There was one opportunity for our council to be saved and that was when Mike Baird stepped down and Gladys Berejiklian stood up.

“We’ll really have to seek some advice and make a very carefully considered decision about whether or not we proceed.”

However, deputy mayor Melissa Clare rejected Cr Gibson’s position as a “minority view” and said she was confident a motion to continue the legal fight would easily win the support of the other councillors at Monday’s meeting.

Lane Cove mayor Deborah Hutchens was also circumspect about the council’s ongoing attempt to fight the merger with Ryde and Hunters Hill councils.

“I’ve got very mixed feelings today, following what happened yesterday,” she said. “Is it worth pushing through. Is it worth fighting?”

However, in Mosman Council, opposition to the proposed merger with North Sydney and Willoughby councils remains unequivocal, Mayor Peter Abelson said.

“In Mosman Council, every single council resolution on whether to take legal action has been unanimous. There is complete solidarity we should be taking these steps.”

The legal challenges will also add to the uncertainty over when council elections can be held.

On Tuesday, Ms Berejiklian said she wanted all pending councils to hold elections by March 2018.

But the appeals for Mosman, North Sydney and Lane Cove are set down for April, with a judgment expected to delay any decision by weeks or even months, leaving a small window to achieve Ms Berejiklian’s timeline.

“The whole thing gets very messy. To claim uncertainty is finished is a big claim,” Cr Abelson said.

Aggrieved mayors also took aim at the Premier’s concession that a “one-size-fits-all approach for NSW” was the wrong approach, and one which had failed to appreciate the differences between the city and country.

Ku-ring-gai mayor Jennifer Anderson said a similar blanket rule had been applied to the city councils.

“Clearly, a one-size-fits-all model across Sydney is equally problematic in our case,” Cr Anderson said, noting that the council had no intention of abandoning its Supreme Court Appeal which begins on Thursday.

She said the proposed merger with Hornsby would force together “quite different communities of interest”, with Hornsby Shire “largely rural and river land” whereas Ku-ring-gai is an urban area with strong links to the city.

Tanna’s director knows a backlash against Donald Trump could rule out Oscar win

Island bliss: Bentley Dean films Tanna on a Vanuatu volcano. Photo: PHILIPPE PENEL Tribal unity: Martin Butler and Bentley Dean with members of the Yakal tribe (from left) Peter Kowia, Lingai Kowia and Caha Toata.
南京夜网

Beginnings: Bentley Dean (bottom left) when he started making films with The Race Around The World team in 1997. Photo: Peter Rae

Less than two weeks before the Academy Awards, Australian filmmaker Bentley Dean is wandering around the city looking for a pair of black shoes.

One of the two directors of Tanna, the country’s first nomination for best foreign-language film, already has a good suit from the world premiere at the Venice Film Festival but shoes are proving tricky. “I need help,” he says. “Got any recommendations?”

Dean, who made the touching Vanuatu island romance with Martin Butler, reckons he’s solved another Oscars fashion dilemma. “Instead of a bow tie, I’m thinking of wearing pig’s tusks,” he says.

The filmmakers, who leave for Los Angeles on Saturday, had to miss last week’s Oscar nominees lunch for financial reasons. “It was a little bit too extravagant for us to go there,” Dean says.

But they have big plans for the awards. Just as at the Australian premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival, they will be joined by members of Vanuatu’s Yakel community wearing their tribal dress – feathered head-dresses with grass skirts for women and penis sheaths for men.

“They’re of course keen to wear their traditional dress on the red carpet and the people at the academy have said ‘yes, by all means’,” Dean says. Living in a village without electricity let alone a cinema or television, they won’t know most of the famous faces around them. Dean thinks there’s a chance they might fall asleep if they ceremony gets dull.

There is just one Hollywood star who might ring a bell. The villagers know that Mungau Dain, who stars in Tanna, was once described on the island as “Vanuatu’s Prat Pitt”.

While Tanna had only a small Australian cinema season and has been out on DVD and digital release for a year, the Oscar nomination has triggered new interest in a film shot for just $1 million, including a limited re-release.

“It’s amazing what the Oscar trademark does to a film,” Dean says. “All of a sudden our sales agent says there’s been interest from all over the world. He reckons he’ll sell it to almost every territory, including the ones that have been dithering.”

Considering how Tanna was made, it is remarkable that it has become one of a record 14 Australian nominations at the Oscars on February 27.

Dean and Butler collaborated with the roughly 200 members of one of the South Pacific’s last traditional tribes, who live by the same beliefs and customs they have followed for centuries. They don’t have electricity for their huts, which meant the filmmakers had to import a solar panel to charge their batteries, and they still hunt with bows and arrows.

Because the tribe had never seen a feature film before, Dean and Butler showed them the Aboriginal drama Ten Canoes so they could get a sense of how to bring one of their own stories to the screen. They decided to dramatise a controversial real-life romance that took place in the 1980s, with the cast speaking the tribal language Nauvhal.

During filming, the filmmakers hosted movie nights for the villagers that included their own documentaries and Star Wars. “The most popular was the series of David Attenborough’s Life On Earth,” Dean says. “They just loved it, seeing all of these incredible animals that they’d never seen before.”

If getting to the Oscars was way beyond expectations, the two directors are well aware that a Hollywood backlash against President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban affecting seven predominantly Muslim nations could mean Tanna has no chance of winning.

“Hollywood does like a cause,” Dean says. “Politics may enter into the decision-making and that’s not such a bad thing. The odds of us winning are very, very low.”

With Oscars voting underway, there has been speculation that academy members could protest about Trump’s immigration policies by voting for two other nominees – Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman, given the Iranian director is boycotting the Oscars in protest at the ban, or Hannes Holm’s A Man Called Ove, a Swedish film about a cranky old bigot who is upset when an Iranian woman moves next door.

But Dean, who considers Germany’s critically acclaimed Toni Erdmann another leading contender, believes there are good reasons that members should vote for Tanna.

“I think it exemplifies what the category of foreign-language film is all about, which is essentially to celebrate film in all its forms, wherever it comes from – not just English language,” he says. “In Tanna, you’ve got people who started out in this process not even having seen cinema before – let alone participated or acted in it – and here they are being considered one of the five best foreign-language films of the year and they’re in Hollywood.

“It sums up what’s magic and what’s transformative and what’s brilliant about cinema, in particular world cinema. I haven’t seen the other films but I can’t think of a better example than Tanna that captures the spirit of this category.”

While three Yakel villagers are going to the Oscars – cultural director J.J. Nako and cast members Lingai Kowia and his daughter Selin – Dean says it has sadly proven too difficult for Butler to be joined by his journalist wife Liz Jackson, who revealed her struggle with a form of Parkinson’s disease on Four Corners late last year.

“We knew that we’d have an excellent time and we’d learn a lot [making Tanna] but it’s gone beyond our wildest dreams to end up with a good film and for it to be appreciated with the highest accolades you can get,” Dean says. “To be nominated for an Academy Award is pretty damn good.”Perkins to appear at Jasper Jones sessions

Director Rachel Perkins, author Craig Silvey and a revolving cast of actors are appearing at a batch of Q&A sessions around the country to launch Jasper Jones in coming weeks.

In Sydney, they are at no less than four cinemas next Monday – the Chauvel (with Dan Wyllie), Cremorne Orpheum (with Wyllie and Hugo Weaving), Dendy Newtown (with Weaving, Angourie Rice and Aaron McGrath) and Event Cinemas George Street (with an introduction rather than a Q&A with Weaving, Rice and McGrath).

Opening soon: Aaron McGrath and Levi Miller in Jasper Jones

In Melbourne, there are two sessions next Wednesday – Cinema Nova and Sun Theatre, Yarraville (both with Hugo Weaving and Dan Wyllie). And two sessions the next night – Palace Como and Rivoli Cinemas (both with Wyllie and Angourie Rice).

Perkins has adapted Silvey’s popular novel for the drama, which centres on a bookish 14-year-old (played by Levi Miller from Red Dog: True Blue) and a mixed-race outcast (McGrath) whose lives in a West Australian town are changed by a mystery. It opens on March 2.The Dressmaker and Down Under filmmakers develop follow-ups

New films from the directors of The Dressmaker, Down Under and Jasper Jones are among a slate of new films to get development funding from Screen Australia.

The Dressmaker’s Jocelyn Moorhouse is working on The Variations, a drama about “one of the most potent love triangles in music history” centring on legendary 19th century musicians Clara Schumann, her husband Robert and Johannes Brahms.

Working on a love triangle centring on famous classical musicians: Jocelyn Moorhouse.

Down Under’s Abe Forsythe is developing Little Monsters, a comic horror film “dedicated to all the kindergarten teachers out there who motivate our children to learn, instil them with confidence and stop them from being devoured by zombies”.

And Jasper Jones’ Rachel Perkins is working again with writer Craig Silvey on The Prospector, a western crime mystery about a woman who risks everything to find her missing husband during the West Australian gold rush. Also funded is an adaptation of Leah Purcell’s acclaimed play The Drover’s Wife, which re-imagines Henry Lawson’s classic short story.

Twitter @gmaddox

Parent group that ousted scripture from schools in Victoria to fight for ban on NSW Special Religious Education

Robyn Bernstein, with her sons Ed and Kai Hall, questions why Special Religious Education should be held in class time. Photo: Steven SiewertA parent group that successfully ousted church-run classes from public school class time in Victoria has turned its focus to NSW, but this time they are campaigning to get religion off public school premises altogether.
南京夜网

The Fairness in Religion in Schools group claimed victory in Victoria in 2015 when the state’s Minister for Education James Merlino announced that Special Religious Instruction was to be pushed out of school hours from 2016 and treated as an after-school elective.

It was replaced with an in-school class about the major religions, secular humanism and ethics, taught by class teachers.

Now the group is targeting NSW, where Special Religious Education (SRE) is delivered in class time by religious groups unless parents opt their child out.

Catherine Walsh from the Fairness in Religion in Schools group, a mother of three children at inner west Sydney high schools, said she was shocked when she found out SRE classes were not run or regulated by the Department of Education, despite their presence in the enrolment paperwork.

She accused the department of negligently suspending its duty of care for children during the time they spend in SRE.

“I believe that any program which requires the suspension of the department’s own policy and curriculum should not operate in public schools. To do so is to risk children’s protection and the department’s duty of care,” Ms Walsh said.

Ms Walsh alleges SRE is in breach of the department’s Controversial Issues in Schools policy which prevents teachers or visitors from using schools to recruit students into partisan groups, among other things.

A spokesman for the department said religious education was part of the Education Act and said the policy did not apply to SRE teachers.

He also said the department kept no central record on the number of students or schools that participated in SRE; and confirmed it did not authorise or oversee the material taught. Religious providers authorise their own content and self-certify once a year that they are teaching with appropriate materials.

“The department takes its duty of care to students seriously,” he said.

Robyn Bernstein, who has a child at Sydney Secondary College, said she objected to religious groups of any persuasion having influence over public school curriculum and timetables and access to students.

“Why should SRE be in class time?” she said. “There are hundreds of kids who participate in the school’s extra-curricular music and sports programs, which stay well clear of school hours.”

FIRIS is also concerned by a 2016 Queensland government review of the “Connect” materials used by several Christian faith groups to teach SRE, which found it contained inappropriate material that should be removed, “including content that may encourage undesirable child safe behaviours, such as the keeping and intentional hiding of secrets and the formation of ‘special friendships’ with adults.”

The Anglican Diocese is one of the largest providers of Christian SRE, and the Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, is responsible for authorising Anglican SRE content in NSW including “Connect”.

He confirmed the “Connect” material had been changed as recommended across all states after the Queensland review, and defended the importance of SRE in public schools, saying religious education taught by a person of faith was a key part of helping children understand religion.

“We’re in a multi-religious country and atheism is a very small part,” he said.

“We don’t proselytise in religious education. That’s the accusation but that is not true. We present a history of the Bible, which is a very significant literary document in our culture.

“For the vast majority of parents who want their children in SRE it gives them the opportunity to have a broader education.”

FIRIS describes itself a grassroots parents group, with 3000 Facebook followers. It argues that education about religion in public schools should instead be delivered by department teachers using materials developed by the department.

On February 8 it launched a modest crowdfunding campaign to fund brochures and outdoor banners, which was more than 50 per cent subscribed two days later.

The FIRIS group has been given a boost in its NSW campaign by inner west parents displeased by the expansion of SRE into the inner city Sydney Secondary College for the first time this year; and a contentious change of timetable that put SRE in the middle of the day at Fort Street in Petersham last year.

Fairfax Media has spoken to parents at both schools who are irritated about the timetable change apparently forced by SRE.

Hilary Bell, who has two children at Fort Street and is not connected with FIRIS, said she was told by the SRE provider in a phone call last year that there were eight students enrolled, out of a school population of 900.

Under department policy, students not enrolled in SRE can not have any other classes while SRE is on. This meant hundreds of Fort Street students were wasting time while just eight received SRE classes. (Enrolment may have increased this year.)

“They’re sitting there doing nothing. They’re supposed to be studying. Whenever you bring this up, people just shrug and say it’s the law, what can we do? I believe the law should change,” Ms Bell said.

SRE is a politically contentious area of education policy.

Under former education minister Adrian Piccoli the department’s primary school enrolment form was changed, so that parents marking a religion on the enrolment form would have their children automatically enrolled into SRE, without any advice being given about the alternative secular ethics program available in some schools.

In high school, where there is no ethics option, parents must pro-actively opt out of SRE if they don’t want their children to participate.

Then premier Mike Baird was forced to deny there had been a deal on the enrolment form changes done with the Christian Democrat MLC Reverend Fred Nile to secure passage of government legislation in the upper house.

Listen to rural day care experts

BORDER SUPPORT: Cathy McGowan’s comments about funding for mobile childcare services have been supported by Albury Wodonga Community College chief executive Rodney Wangman.The head of the region’s mobile childcare services has pleaded with Education Minister Simon Birmingham to learn from, not argue with, criticism ofnew legislation.
Nanjing Night Net

Senator Birminghamthis week accused Indi MP Cathy McGowan of “misleading” her electorate by claimingproposed childcare reforms would make mobile services for farming families unviable.

Albury Wodonga Community College chief executive Rodney Wangman has supported Ms McGowan, saying the MP had a strong understanding of what the rural childcare needed because she helped to set up theservice about 25 years ago.

“Cathy’s comments to the minister were appropriate, it wasn’t misleading, and the minister would be very wise to use more of Cathy McGowan’s experiences,” he said.

MrWangman, Ms McGowan and Mr Birmingham had one thing in common: they knew currentchildcare fundingwas not working.

AWCC lost $200,000 from its bottom line over recent years as operating costs rose higher than government grants, forcingchildcare services atOaklands, Tallangatta Valley and Talgarno to close in December.

Senator Birmingham said the new model would be better for families because it targeted those who worked the most and earned the least, and increased the rebate cap from $7500 to $10,000.

ButMrWangman said proposed legislation lacked detailabout how to keep remaining mobile childcare services runningand reopen others which had closed.

“I’d like to see the legislation passed, but with detail that is embedded that supports rural-based services specifically because, at the moment, it’s not there,” he said. “I’m unable today to have confidence in, will this mean that the recent closures at Oaklands, Talgarno and Tallangatta Valley will be able to be reopened in the new funding arrangement? And will those other locations be able to be reopened under this new legislation?

“My gut feel says it won’t be sufficient.”

The mobile childcare was designed to prevent a return to days where farmers had to bring children with them near dangerous machinery.

“We should have equal access and equity to parents in Oaklands as there is in Albury-Wodonga or metropolitan Sydney because if the minister’s going to say this is about providing services to the needs of all families, why should the people of rural Australia be considered as lesser class citizens?” Mr Wangman said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Light at the end of dark tunnel for advocate

IT’Sparticularly sad that it has taken decades for the voice of many men like Steve Fisher to be heard.
Nanjing Night Net

But to the credit of the Tasmanian advocate, and a number like him, they have been vindicated by the Royal Commission into child sex abuse.

The fact that it took such a major inquiry to finally force major church groups to face the demons within their ranks is more than disappointing.

The exposure this week of a “network of perpetrators” within the Church of England Boy’s Society in Tasmania and beyond was a watershed for the campaigner.

Mr Fisher says it brought an immense feeling of justification.

No doubt those seeking to keep the crimes under wraps formany years had hoped that those making the now proven claims would give up if they just held their line.

Thankfully they didn’t.

Mr Fisher says the hope is now that children will be believed, and anyone trying to take advantage of young people won’t be able to hide it easily.

“There were times…when you just felt like giving up, but it was that resolve of knowing you were right and wanting to prevent it happening to other children –that’s what kept us going,” he said.

More broadly the recent findings, and those over the progress of the royal commission, must serve as a warning to organisations and institutions of all shapes and sizes.

Every child is precious and they deserve to be protected and cherished.

The early response of the Anglican Bishop of Tasmania Richard Condie is promising. He has initiated a process of church discipline against former Tasmanian church leader Phillip Newell, who, the report says was aware of the complaints about the boy’s society.

It can only be hoped that the church will follow through with the process, and Mr Newell will be called to account for his role in this harrowing history of just one organisation.

For most of us it is hard to contemplate how the reputation of an organisation can be put ahead of the safety of young people. Explaining that will be something to behold.

If there are to be any positives from the long running royal commission, it will be that the light is shone upon the final dark corners of the places where predators lurked, and they will never prevail again.

And hopefully someone will say thanks to Steve Fisher for his dedication.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Griffith could ease Sydney’s pain

With a private hospital, schools, theatres and plenty of restaurants, Griffith has a lot to offer potential government departments.Griffith has the opportunity to help ease Sydney’s congestion burden, but it will need to shake off old ideas about life in the bush.
Nanjing Night Net

TheSenate Finance and Public Administration References Committee will soon hold an inquiry into moving government agencies from Canberra to regional areas like the western Riverina.

It comes after the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation moved 21 jobs to Wagga, a move local governments are keen to replicate in the area.

Council general manager Brett Stonestreet said Griffith had the size and capacity to take on more public servants, but generations of leaders had overlooked regional areas.

“For decades they haven’t looked at the long-term population spread of the nation,” Mr Stonestreet said.

“The downside of those policies has been increased congestion in Sydney, less affordable housing, a need for costly transport infrastructure… they’re not making any new dirt up there.

“Regional areas can help relieve the impact of metropolitan congestion, we can even deal with our own waste without having to find an empty tin mine.”

Mr Stonestreet’s reference to the failed Ardlethan dump proposal highlighted some of Sydney’s biggest problems: The city of five million needs to export its waste because land is at a premium. Urban sprawl has sent commuters up to 100km away from the CBD, with the average travel time in excess of five hours per week. The median house price has also jumped, up to more than $1 million.

Meanwhile, Griffith’s median house price is $300,000, while commuters typically spend five to 10 minutes in morning traffic. The city’s water and waste facilities are under-utilised and recent economic growth is leading to more confidence in the property market.

However, the perception of a lack of services and opportunities in regional areas –perceptions that often prove to be false –have kept potential workers and families on the coast.

“There’s a negative perception west of the Great Dividing Range,” Mr Stonestreet said.

“We need to do more to break down that perception.”

Riverina radiologistNickStephenson said he had heard of surgeons belittling country areas, but they were filled with opportunities for growth.

“We’re now a regional capital for medical services with about 100 specialists and we’re starting to draw young doctors naturally because of that,” Dr Stephenson said.

Former Griffith MPMichael McCormack saiddecentralisation is good for regional communities and good for the economy.

“Regional Australia deserves the benefits of public sector employment just as much as any capital city,” he said.

Submissions to the inquiry close on March 9.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Suburb profile: Coal Point

SUBURB SNAPSHOTCoal Point owes its name to the first coal mine establishedatLake Macquarie.
Nanjing Night Net

Over a century later, the suburb has progressed well beyond its industrial roots.

Today, Coal Point is best recognised as a tight-knit community with alush bushland outlook, quiet streets and magnificent waterfronts.

On the western shores of the lake, Coal Point is situated on the peninsula between Kilaben and Carey Bay.The land was originally owned by missionary Reverend Lancelot Edward Threlkeld.

In the 1840s, he established the Ebenezercoal mine on the south-western side of the suburb –at the site of the present Threlkeld Reserve – after the failure of hisAboriginal mission.

LIFESTYLECoal Point consists largely of freestanding homes on spacious blocks. Itswaterfronts are renownedas some of the grandest on the lake.

TIGHT-KNIT: Coal Point is a small community with less than 2000 residents. It also boasts some of the lake’s most magnificent waterfront properties.

With a population of under 2000 residents, the exclusive neighbourhood has a median age of 49; older than the NSW average. It also has a higher-than-average median income and the most common professions aremanagers and professionals.

The multiple reserves and lakeside activities are popular with locals. The suburb has apublic school and is just two kilometres from shops and cafes at Toronto.

FROM THE EXPERTS-From David Westerman, First National Toronto

Some fresh interest in the area and proactive marketing has seenCoalPointjump out of the gates recently.

TRANQUIL: Coal Point’s multiple reserves and lakeside activities are popular with locals. It is a stone’s throw from shops and cafes at Toronto and Warners Bay.

Owners are seeing strong demand in their exclusive “nook” as buyers jockey to secure a limited supply of properties in this lake side haven. Principal of First National Toronto David Westerman said locals enjoyed a special lifestyle that was hard to explain.

“The community is very close-knit and people look out for each other,” he said. “From a lifestyle perspective it is hard to top.”

CoalPointenjoys some of the best waterfront properties in Australia and demand is strong. The localCoalPointprimary school is beautiful and is attracting young couples and first home owners to the area.

Properties are limited – a prudent consideration for anyone wanting to invest.

Food industry failing to self-regulate junk food ads to kids

A new Cancer Council NSW study has found no reduction in unhealthy food and drink advertisements on television during children’s peak viewing times.
Nanjing Night Net

This is in spite of the voluntary self-regulatory initiatives introduced by the food industry in 2009.

The study found that children are being exposed to an average of three unhealthy food advertisements every hour that they watch TV during peak periods –unchanged since 2011.

Cancer Council NSW’s study published in theJournal of Public Healthanalysed advertisements broadcast during peak children’s viewing times on the three major free-to-air commercial television channels in Sydney, over a four day period in 2015.[1]

44 per cent of food advertisements were for unhealthy foods, with 1 in 5 (21 per cent) being for fast food. Besides fast food ads (1.3/hr), other frequently advertised categories were chocolate and confectionary (0.7/hr) and sugary drinks (0.4/hr).

“While this study looked at advertisements being shown in Sydney, we know that unhealthy food brands continue to advertise during peak children’s viewing times across Coffs Coast area,” Juanita Nantes, Nutrition Project Officer, said.

Reducing exposure of children to unhealthy food marketing is part of a comprehensive package of recommendations to address childhood obesity from the World Health Organization.

In 2009 The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) introduced two self-regulatory initiatives to reduce advertising and marketing to children for food and beverage products that are not healthier choices.

“This new study from Cancer Council NSW has shown that these industry initiatives have not helped to protect children from junk food marketing on TV and it is time government stepped in,” said Ms Nantes.

Ms Nantes said McDonald’s dominated the fast food category accounting for 47 percent of fast food advertisements, followed by KFC (26 per cent) and Hungry Jack’s (16 per cent).

“The fact that each of these fast food brands have actually been signed up to the voluntary self-regulatory initiatives since 2009 is cause for concern,” she said.

“Previous studies have highlighted loopholes within the food industry’s self-regulatory initiatives. The definitions of what constitutes ‘unhealthy food’ and when an ad is considered ‘advertising to children’ are not protecting children.

“If the objective of voluntary self-regulation initiatives is to reduce children’s exposure to advertisements that are not healthier choices then the definition of children’s viewing periods needs to incorporate times when high numbers of children are viewing, irrespective of the ratio to total audience numbers.

“Cancer Council NSW is calling on government to take long-awaited action to regulate to protect children from the impact and influence of junk food advertising.

“We want Coffs Coast children to be able to take a healthier path into adult life.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.