Giants flying visit

Big visit: GWS Giants players Lachie Whitfield, Tom Downie and Devon Smith visited Liverpool Eagles AFL club at Rosedale Oval, Warwick Farm last week. Picture: Chris LaneThe Liverpool EaglesJunior AFL Club had some extra motivation heading into the opening round on the weekend.
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GWS Giants players Lachie Whitfield, Tom Downie and Devon Smith made a special visit to their home base atRosedale Oval.

The trio met players from the club and ran a mini coaching clinic.

The club has come a long way.Two years ago it was on the verge of folding, now they have three teams –under-9s, under-11s and under-13s – and they also run an Auskick program.

This Friday the Paul Kelly Cup school competitionwill be held at Ash Road Sports Complex inPrestons.

Fun: Liverpool Eagles enjoying the activites run by GWS. Picture: Chris Lane

Game one: Liverpool Eagles’ players participate in activities.

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‘Our whole family has been amazed’: Steph Scott’s family comforted by Leeton’s love

DEARLY MISSED: Steph Scott.THE pain of Stephanie Scott’s death is still incredibly raw for her family.
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But one thing that does give her loved onesnursing broken hearts strength is the support and love shown by the Leeton community.

One year after her death,the impact of her short life is still felt far and wide.

Her father, Robert Scott, said as time went on, the depth of their loss became clearer.

“It takes time to sink in what you’ve actually lost,” Mr Scott said.

“When it all happened in a bit of a hurry it was very sad and very distressing, but as time progresses you realise just how deep the loss is because of the way she’s impacted on your life.

“(The pain) is not just going to disappear,grieving is an ongoing process and when you’ve got someone who was such a delight to have in your life there’s a lot to miss.”

The Scott family still receives cards and letters filled with words of support and in return they attend events held in Stephanie’s honour and meet with people touched by their daughter.

In February, Mr Scott visited Leeton High School to see an amphitheatre being built in his daughter’s memory. When he was introduced as “Steph’s dad”, the students’ faces lit up.

On Saturday, Mr Scott and his wife, Merrilyn, were inAlbury to presentthe Stephanie Scott Cup at awomen’s league tag competition. Fittingly, the Leeton Greenieswon the event.

“Our whole family has been amazed at the way she’s been received,” Mr Scott said.

“It didn’t matter whether you met her for a day or she’d been part of your life for an extended period, she just had an impact on you.

“Shewas very vivacious, very genuine in what she said and the way she formed relationships with people.

“She was just an absolute joy, a happy girl who enjoyed her part in sports and the teaching life and being part of the Leeton community gave her a lot of pleasure.”

Mr Scott said his daughterhad coached Leeton High School’s girls soccer team. He said the winning teams in the Bill Turner Cup, an inter-school soccer competition, would be presented with Stephanie Scott Memorial Shields.

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‘Our whole family has been amazed’: Steph Scott’s family comforted by Leeton’s love

DEARLY MISSED: Steph Scott.THE pain of Stephanie Scott’s death is still incredibly raw for her family.
老域名

But one thing that does give her loved onesnursing broken hearts strength is the support and love shown by the Leeton community.

One year after her death,the impact of her short life is still felt far and wide.

Her father, Robert Scott, said as time went on, the depth of their loss became clearer.

“It takes time to sink in what you’ve actually lost,” Mr Scott said.

“When it all happened in a bit of a hurry it was very sad and very distressing, but as time progresses you realise just how deep the loss is because of the way she’s impacted on your life.

“(The pain) is not just going to disappear,grieving is an ongoing process and when you’ve got someone who was such a delight to have in your life there’s a lot to miss.”

The Scott family still receives cards and letters filled with words of support and in return they attend events held in Stephanie’s honour and meet with people touched by their daughter.

In February, Mr Scott visited Leeton High School to see an amphitheatre being built in his daughter’s memory. When he was introduced as “Steph’s dad”, the students’ faces lit up.

On Saturday, Mr Scott and his wife, Merrilyn, were inAlbury to presentthe Stephanie Scott Cup at awomen’s league tag competition. Fittingly, the Leeton Greenieswon the event.

“Our whole family has been amazed at the way she’s been received,” Mr Scott said.

“It didn’t matter whether you met her for a day or she’d been part of your life for an extended period, she just had an impact on you.

“Shewas very vivacious, very genuine in what she said and the way she formed relationships with people.

“She was just an absolute joy, a happy girl who enjoyed her part in sports and the teaching life and being part of the Leeton community gave her a lot of pleasure.”

Mr Scott said his daughterhad coached Leeton High School’s girls soccer team. He said the winning teams in the Bill Turner Cup, an inter-school soccer competition, would be presented with Stephanie Scott Memorial Shields.

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NSW Swifts refuse to get carried away after favourable start to ANZ Championship

Key player: NSW Swifts veteran Kimberlee Green. Photo: James AlcockNSW Swifts coach Rob Wright is refusing to get carried away after his side’s first-round win over the Melbourne Vixens and wants to push his players towards a perfect four-quarter performance when they take on the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic this weekend.
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Wright has been renowned, in years gone by, for never being completely satisfied with results and always striving to instil a ruthless mindset within his teams.

Despite winning the first three quarters comfortably in a 57-42 win against Melbourne, Wright said a two-goal deficit in the last term would be motivation enough when they faced the Magic in Sydney on Saturday.

“I’m not wanting to get too carried away,” Wright said. “In the second half there were only two goals in it. We’ve got to continue to make sure we’re good for 60 minutes, so that’s something we want to improve on. We have to continue to find ways to make sure that we can continue to do that for the four quarters. If we want to be a super competitive team we’ve got to make sure we get a lead in every quarter.”

The Swifts have bragging rights over the Magic after beating them 60-52 in last year’s semi-final before being pipped on full-time by the Queensland Firebirds 57-56 in the grand final.

“There’s no surprise they were the conference champions last year … they’re a really quality side,” Wright said. “It’s going to be a really tough one. I think they’re a really dangerous team across the court.”

Former Swifts coach and Australian Diamonds assistant Julie Fitzgerald is now in charge of the Magic and will be doing everything in her power to thwart Kim Green, who Wright believes is in stellar form after retiring from Australian duties.

“She was brilliant … some of the best netball I’ve seen her play in the last couple of years,” Wright said of Green’s player-of-the-match effort against the Vixens. “She’s said herself she feels refreshed and rejuvenated and it showed on court. Her mind was free and some of her passing was unbelievable. It was vintage Kim Green at her best.”

Sharni Layton is another Diamonds player thrilled to be back in the red of the Swifts and working towards going one better than last season.

“It was a good first round performance,” Layton said. “We probably weren’t as consistent for a full four quarters … we’re always intending to improve on that. It’s about being absolutely prepared for everyone. It’s really nice to get back to clubland though.”

Abbey McCulloch is in doubt for Saturday’s clash after breaking her nose against the Vixens, with Wright set to make a decision about her fitness on Thursday. 

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Australian facing drug charges in Perth arrested in Bali over fake identities

Shaun Edward Davidson, 31, waiting to be transferred to Kerobokan jail in Bali after being charged with possessing another person’s identity and overstaying his visa. Photo: Amilia Rosa Shaun Edward Davidson, in Bali. Photo: Amilia Rosa
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Shaun Edward Davidson, 31, who faces drug charges in Perth. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Australian arrested for paedophilia in BaliJakarta arrests of Australian chiropractors 

Jakarta:  An Australian man facing drug charges in Perth has been arrested in Bali for allegedly impersonating another Australian and using multiple fake identities.

Shaun Edward Davidson, 31, was due in Perth Magistrates Court on January 28, charged with four offences including possessing methamphetamine and cannabis to sell or supply.

He failed to show up to court in Perth but on Tuesday he emerged in Bali where he was named a suspect for possessing another person’s identity and overstaying his visa.

A man Mr Davidson allegedly impersonated, Michael John Bayman, 33, had reported that his passport had gone missing in 2013, according to Bali immigration authorities.

“It seems (Mr Davidson) is evading the law back in his country Australia, that’s why he was trying to disappear here,” said Mohamad Soleh, an immigration officer from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International airport.

Two false identities were discovered when Mr Davidson was arrested, a passport under the name of Michael John Bayman and a KITAS (residency permit) under the name of Eddie Lonsdale. It is believed he may have used up to five identities.

According to immigration, Mr Davidson had entered Indonesia on a 30-day tourist visa that expired on February 26 last year.

“A report was made of a foreigner who was suspected of overstaying in Kuta,” Mr Soleh said. “We found that he not only overstayed but used different identities.”

Mr Davidson was detained on March 7 while authorities investigated further. “It took quite some time for us to prepare proof of his offence,” Mr Soleh said.

Immigration authorities interviewed staff at Rabasta hotel in Kuta where Mr Davidson had been staying under the name Michael John Bayman.

Mr Soleh said they also obtained confirmation from the Australian government and AFP about his real identity.

“Now that we have both, it is enough to proceed to name him as a suspect and to legally process him,” Mr Soleh said. “Yesterday (April 5) he was officially named as a suspect for breaching immigration (laws), with a total maximum prison time of seven years.”

Mr Davidson was transferred to Bali’s Kerobokan jail on Wednesday, April 6.

The manager on duty at Rabasta Hotel said a man who went under the name Michael John Bayman had stayed at the hotel for a month and then extended for another month.

However on the tenth day of the second month an immigration officer came and inspected his passport. “They were suspicious as the latest stamp to enter Indonesia on the passport was back in 2012,” said the manager.

An arrest warrant had been issued for Mr Davidson when he failed to show up at Perth Magistrates Court on January 28.

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Measles alert: four people with measles have been in planes, surgeries, hospitals

The measles rash on the face of a child. Photo: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionRecent plane passengers, hostel residents, hospital and medical centre patients are among those at risk of developing measles following confirmed cases of the highly contagious disease in Sydney in late March and early April.
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NSW Health has issued a community alert after four people with measles are known to have been in close contact with large groups of people while they were still infectious but before they were diagnosed.

Two travellers spent time in hostels in Cairns and Magnetic Island while they were infectious and then respectively travelled to Sydney on a Virgin Airlines flight on March 28 and a Tiger Airlines flight the following day, the health department said.

One of them also spent time in the Royal North Shore Hospital Emergency Department.

Meanwhile, two children who probably contracted measles in India were most likely contagious when they took flight AI302 from Delhi to Sydney, arriving on March 30.

They spent time in a medical centre in Blacktown and later Mt Druitt Hospital on April 2.

NSW Health Communicable Diseases Branch Director Vicky Sheppeard said people who had not received two doses of the vaccine and may have been in contact with those people should look out for symptoms over the next days and weeks.

Symptoms include fever, sore eyes and a cough, followed three or four days later by a blotchy rash that spreads from the head and neck to the rest of the body, and is not itchy.

It is spread when a person with measles coughs or sneezes into the air, which is then breathed in by other people, and can be contracted by being in the same room as an infected person.

About 20 per cent of people who develop the disease are hospitalised and one in 1000 will get inflammation of the brain.

Until about 10 years ago it was the highest cause of child death globally, Dr Sheppeard said. International efforts to eradicate the disease through vaccination have limited its spread, and it is rarely seen in Australia.

There have been six cases in NSW this year.

Dr Sheppeard said the last biggest outbreak was in 2012, when 172 people contracted the disease, with 170 catching it from one person who brought it back from Thailand.

“When a person who has measles has been in a setting like an airplane, like a hospital, like a general practice, we can quickly get more cases,” Dr Sheppeard said. “It’s the most infectious communicable disease there is.”

The measles vaccine is given in two doses at the age of 12 months and 18 months.

The children who probably brought the disease back from India were too young to be vaccinated, while the travellers were from a European country where vaccination rates are lower, Dr Sheppeard said.

“We will probably see further cases in backpackers.”

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Andreu and Alberto Aguilar stall on new Western Sydney Wanderers contracts

Off contract: Alberto Aguilar. Photo: Dallas KilponenWestern Sydney are still no closer to securing the futures of Spanish pair Alberto Aguilar and Andreu Mayoral despite offering the two players bumper contract extensions to remain with the title challengers.
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After re-signing Dimas Delgado, the Wanderers turned their attention to extended the deals of the two remaining Spaniards who helped evolve the club’s style of play to one of the most attractive in the A-League. Central midfielder Andreu, and classy defender, Aguilar, flourished into the pillars of coach Tony Popovic’s new possession-based style and are set to be rewarded with significantly improved deals.

Having both arrived from the cash-strapped Spanish Segunda Division, the two signed for Western Sydney at comparatively lower prices than many visa-players at rival A-League clubs.  However, having made a greater impact than many other foreigners, The Wanderers are eager to keep the 31-year-old defender and the 32-year-old Andreu beyond the end of the season and according to sources close to the club, offered significantly improved deals worth more than $200,000.

The two players have been integral features in the new-look side that could lift the Premiers’ Plate on Sunday with a win over Wellington Phoenix and other results going their way, but there’s no guarantee they will remain with the club beyond the finals. Despite the improved offer, Fairfax Media understands both players are yet to accept the new deals and have stalled further negotiations.

Meanwhile, Sydney FC striker Matt Simon is itching to extend his stay with the Sky Blues but is similarly yet to enter contract talks with the club. The experienced forward joined the club at the start of the season and has slowly emerged as somewhat of a fan favourite, earning a standing ovation from supporters when substituted in the second half of their 1-0 win over Pohang Steelers on Tuesday. He didn’t hit the back of the net that match but his frantic style of play endeared him to fans this season, and he hopes it’s been enough to have the same effect on the club’s hierarchy.

“Of course. Sydney last year gave me the opportunity to continue my career in the A-League and I loved every minute of it. I can’t speak highly enough of the club and everyone who works behind the scenes have given me the opportunity and they look after their players so well. It’s such a huge club and I have loved every second of it,” Simon said. 

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Guillermo Erades’ Moscow harks back to Chekhov

Back to Moscow, by Guillermo Erades. Photo: SuppliedBACK TO MOSCOW
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Guillermo Erades

Scribner, $32.99

Review by Ross Southernwood

Following the advice of his then Russian girlfriend in Amsterdam, the protagonist of Back to Moscow applies for and receives a scholarship to a Moscow university. Martin’s intended PhD thesis will be about the heroines of some of the Russian classics, including Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Pushkin’s Tatyana and Chekhov’s three sisters, Olga, Masha and Irina.

The title of this first novel by Spanish-born Guillermo Erades, who has lived in Moscow, is drawn from Chekhov’s play Three Sisters. “Olga: … I feel how every day my strength and my youth are leaving me … Only one dream grows … Irina: To go back to Moscow … to finish everything here … Olga: Yes! … to Moscow.”

Martin’s Moscow is a much different one from that longed for by Olga and Irina. It is the early 2000s, communism gone and capitalism arrived. A new political elite is rising.

Yet months after his arrival Martin is yet to begin his thesis, to the concern of his research supervisor, Lyudmila Aleksandrovna, a woman still harbouring sympathies for Soviet ways. To waylay her concerns, Martin announces he will write his observations and thoughts on today’s young Russian women, thus being able to compare them with those of the literature and giving his thesis a contemporary layer.

Martin has no trouble finding research subjects as the main thrust of his Moscow stay, accompanied by three other young expats from various countries, has been into its vibrant night life among the clubs and bars, and by day its cafes. Although never stated, Martin appears to hail from somewhere in western Europe.

Women come and go and drunken nights abound, as the quartet dive right in. For Martin, some do stay around – at least for a while: there is Lena, who speaks of the “mysterious Russian soul”, the teenage schoolgirl Polina and the blonde real estate agent Tatyana.

During the narrative, punctuated by real-life events, Martin relates these relationships and his thoughts on them; reflects on Russia’s great writers and considers their works; befriends a Moscow family; describes contemporary Moscow and recounts some of its past. The tone and feel of much of this recalls, for me, Henry Miller’s novels Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

Back to Moscow is a lively and engaging work. Erades develops Martin from being careless with his relationships to finally appreciating a stable one. However, a shocking event will end this calm.

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Canberra’s arts diary from April 8

Grant Hill’s Stringy Bark Street (detail) from the Thoroughly Modern exhibition at CCAS Gorman Arts Centre. Photo: SuppliedArts diary – April 8
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What’s on in Canberra’s art scene

VISUAL:

ANCA Gallery: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. A solo exhibition by local artist Rosalind Lemoh exploring the transformative interchange between humans, animals, plants and minerals. Until April 24. Open Wednesday to Sunday, noon-5pm. 1 Rosevear Place, Dickson. See: anca.net备案老域名.

Belconnen Arts Centre: Beauty and Belonging. An exploration of blue and white decorative ceramics from Turkey and Morocco. Uncertain Journeys. Euan Graham examines forced migration and the journey of many to Australia by boat. Strathnairn artBAC. Members of Strathnairn Arts present works in a diverse range of media. All until April 25. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-4pm. 118 Emu Bank, Belconnen. See: belconnenartscentre老域名出售备案老域名.

Bungendore Fine Art:Australia, its Beauty. Realistic and abstract depictions of Australian scenery. Also on display, more than 150 paintings by the eight artists who operate the gallery. Until April 28. Open daily, 10am-4.30pm. 42b Ellendon Street, Bungendore. See: bungendorefineart老域名出售备案老域名.

CCAS Gorman Arts Centre:  Over & Over. A series of pencil drawings by artist Clare Thackway mimicking the craft of knitting, a metaphor for the complex threads that weave human relationships. Until Saturday. Thoroughly Modern. An exhibition examining the effect of rising house prices and urban planning on the ‘Great Australian Dream’. Until May 7. Open Tuesday to Friday 11am-5pm, Saturday 10am-4pm. Gorman Arts Centre, 55 Ainslie Avenue, Braddon. See: ccas老域名出售备案老域名.

Form Studio and Gallery: Friends and Acquaintances. A colourful solo exhibition by artist Steve Roper. Until Sunday. Open Monday to Friday 9.30am-2.30pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm. 1/30 Aurora Avenue, Queanbeyan. See: formstudioandgallery老域名出售备案老域名.

[email protected]: The Youth of Tomorrow. A multimedia exhibition focusing on the future. Presented by participants of the BCS Bungee Youth Resilience program. Until April 15. Open Monday to Friday, 9am-4.30pm. Belconnen Community Centre, Swanson Court, Belconnen. Ph: 6264 0200.

M16 Artspace: The Lost Plans. Painter Yanni Pounartzis presents his interpretation of the Griffins’ original plans for the capital. Perceptions, Connections. Artists who work as volunteer guides at the National Gallery respond to works in the NGA’s collection. Attitudes. An investigation of the human form in action. All until Sunday. Open Wednesday to Sunday, noon-5pm. 21 Blaxland Crescent, Griffith. Ph: 6295 9438 or see: m16artspace老域名出售备案老域名.

Nancy Sever Gallery: Riedelbauch | Amesbury | George. An exhibition displaying the works of three contemporary artists who explore the possibilities of various mediums and materials, including digital technologies, traditional metal techniques, ceramics and glass. Until May 1. Open Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-6pm. 4/6 Kennedy Street, Kingston. See: nancysevergallery老域名出售备案老域名.

Nishi Gallery: Lake Eyre Horizons. Local artist Carmel McCrow exhibits a body of work from her trip to Lake Eyre in 2015 to document aerial views of the receding lake waters, leaving the red algae and saltpans exposed. Until April 24. Open Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-3pm. New Acton Precinct, cnr of Edinburgh Ave and Marcus Clarke Street, New Acton. See: newacton老域名出售备案老域名

PhotoAccess: Right Hear, Right Now. A multimedia exhibition creating a sensory experience that provides understanding of what it is like to live with hearing loss. Until April 24. Open Tuesday to Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday noon-4pm. Manuka Arts Centre, corner of Manuka Circle and New South Wales Crescent, Griffith. Ph: 6295 7810 or see: photoaccess.org备案老域名.

Queanbeyan Art Society:  Queanbeyan Leagues Club Art Exhibition. A selection of artworks in a variety of media submitted by members of the Queanbeyan Leagues Club. Until April 23. Open daily, Monday 10am-noon, Tuesday and Wednesday 10am-2pm, Thursday 10.30am-2.30pm, Friday 10am-noon, Saturday 10am-1pm, Sunday 10am-1.30pm. 6 Trinculo Place Queanbeyan, next to the Riverbank Café. See: qarts老域名出售备案老域名 or ph: 0439 392 709.

PERFORMANCE:

ANU School of Music: Vista Needle. The brainchild of award-winning Australian musicians Daniel Susnjar and Steve Barry, this collaboration explores and re-composes the music of 20th century composers Hindemith, Bartok and Federico Mompou. Tickets $15 on the door. 8pm, Wednesday, April 13. Big Band Room, ANU School of Music. Ph: 6125 5730.

Art Song Canberra: Northern Lights. Mezzo-soprano Christina Wilson and pianist Alan Hicks present a program of music from lands illuminated by the Aurora Borealis. Tickets $35, full-time students $15. Includes complimentary program and light refreshments  Sunday. 3pm. Wesley Music Centre, 20 National Circuit, Forrest. Ph: 6286 7373 or see: artsongcanberra.org.

Notices for Arts Diary must be submitted five days ahead of publication. Email [email protected]老域名出售备案老域名. Inquiries: 6280 2211.

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Rebecca Wiasak makes every cent count on Olympic Games pursuit

Funding boost: Paratriathlete Katie Kelly, hurdler Lauren Wells, paratriathlete Nic Beveridge and track cyclist Rebecca Wiasak all received government funding on Wednesday. Photo: Jay CronanOlympic Games hopeful Rebecca Wiasak doesn’t know how she will spend her ACT government grant to help her on the road to Rio, but she says every cent makes a difference on the tightrope to reach her dream.
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Wiasak was one of 30 Canberra athletes to share in $80,000 funding as they chase their Olympic and Paralympic goals.

Wiasak, a two-time individual pursuit world champion, is hoping to break into the team pursuit to secure her ticket to Rio given her pet event is not part of the Olympic program.

She will go into Cycling Australia camps at the end of next week to ramp up her preparation and has vowed to do everything in her power to clinch a spot.

“I know I’m sitting in the No.6 spot but I’ve got to think anything can happen, especially in cycling,” Wiasak said.

“When you’re striving to be your absolute best and you’re on the edge, pushing the boundaries every day, things happen. I figure I just have to be ready when my opportunity comes.

“The fire has always been in my belly … I know I need to keep proving myself. I still feel like the newby so I’ll keep putting my hand up. There’s no room for complacency If I miss out, this isn’t the road for me.

“I lived for two years on my savings and I’m lucky enough that I’ve been on a Cycling Australia scholarship which gives you a lot of things, but not everything. I’ve always been good with my money, every dollar is accounted for and this is a massive help.”

ACT sport minister Yvette Berry announced the 30-strong contingent of Canberra hopefuls at a function at the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.

They included Wiasak, para athletes Nic Beveridge and Katie Kelly and 400 metre hurdler Lauren Wells.

Canberra athletes who now have government funding compete in a range of Olympic and Paralympic sports including track and road cycling, BMX, athletics, rowing, volleyball, hockey, judo, triathlon and swimming.

Wiasak has been training in Canberra for the past two weeks before rejoining the national squad in Adelaide for a series of camps.

She got a double boost on Wednesday with the funding injection and partner Ben Hill winning the Tour of Thailand as he chases a spot on a professional team.

Wiasak won her second world title in London last month when she beat Poland’s Malgorzata Wojtyra by eight seconds in the individual pursuit final. If she does not make the Rio team, Wiasak will set her sights on Tokyo in 2020.

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Giant cranes a sign of a city stirring to life

AFTER years of decline and stagnation, there are enough positivesigns to say with some assurance that the Newcastle central business district is coming back to life.
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The latest indication came on Wednesday with an announcement of a new high-rise residential and commercial property development between King Street and Hunter Street, at Cottage Creek in the city’s west end.Together with the Spire apartment buildings now going upon top of the nearby Marketown Shopping Centre, the $130-million 19-storey Verve apartments are a sign of confidence in the western end of the city:a precinctproposed by thestate government and Newcastle City Council as the high-rise apex of the re-imagined city.

Add in the Doma Group’s A-grade office space at 18 Honeysuckle Drive, the spectacular new University of Newcastle campus at Civic and the newly completed law court building, and it’s fair to say that it’s been a whileindeed since the city has seen asmany construction cranes at the one time.

The state government would no doubt say theseprojects are a sign that its “Revitalising Newcastle” plans areworking. Equally, it could also be said thatthese buildings have gone upbeforelight rail isintroduced, and that political decisions have had little if any role in this welcomespurt of development.

Either way, as Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance made clear in his visit to Newcastle on Tuesday, the government is determined to go ahead with its light rail plans, regardless of any criticism. As far as it isconcerned, it istime to “embrace” the opportunity and stop “being negative” about “the opportunity” the government isgiving to the region.

But as the minister surely knows, politics in Newcastle is rarely straightforward.

Some mightcall former lord mayor Jeff McCloya hypocrite, but in criticising a light rail he once enthusiastically supported, MrMcCloy isvoicing the sort of concerns that are worrying a growing number of people, as light rail morphs from the vague possibilities of an artist’s impression to a real-life confrontation with disruption and change.

It is impossible to over-estimate the influence of the light rail project on the city’s future.

The imminent release of the government’s Review of Environmental Factors will give the public an overdue look at some of the hard detail that has been missing until now.

The rail debate may yet be far from over.

ISSUE: 48,203

Public service office squabbles clogging whistleblower scheme

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office, which has oversight of the scheme, agrees, saying the “scope and breadth” of matters to be investigated under the Public Interest Disclosure Act needs to be re-examined. Photo: Tanya LakeMore public service news
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Complaints over public servants’ workplace squabbles need to be taken out of the system meant to uncover serious corruption and wrongdoing in the federal government sector, according to the man appointed to review the scheme.

Commonwealth whistleblower protection laws need to be further developed to prevent authorities being swamped by the minor workplace grievances of public sector employees, former Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Phillip Moss told a conference in Canberra on Wednesday.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office, which has oversight of the scheme, agrees, saying the “scope and breadth” of matters to be investigated under the Public Interest Disclosure Act needs to be re-examined.

Mr Moss, who is leading a statutory review of the act, spoke of “administrative burden” placed on the scheme when public service bosses “escalate issues unnecessarily”.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act has been in force since 2013 and is meant to give protection to officials who report, through certain channels, wrongdoing, corruption or maladministration in the Commonwealth public sector.

In its first years of operation the scheme has attracted 1336 “notifications” of disclosures to agencies or departments by more than 1100 serving or former federal government officials, according to the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office, the agency tasked with overseeing the scheme.

About 40 per cent of those reports were diverted to be investigated under other legislation, mostly the Public Service Act or Defence Force legislation.

George Masri, of the Ombudsman’s office, told the gathering in Canberra on Wednesday that the disclosure scheme had attracted complaints on several fronts.

Some potential whistleblowers said they could not get access to the public servants in their agencies or department who were authorised to accept disclosures of wrongdoing.

Others were worried about reprisals for telling what they knew and about potential breaches of confidentiality, and there were also issues of “managing the expectations” of public servants who believed they were exposing wrongdoing.

Mr Moss told the conference, organised by the Institute of Public Administration’s ACT division, that the legislation needed changes including tweaks to the breadth and scope of its coverage because too many complainants were trying to have minor workplace grievances investigated under the scheme.

Mr Moss also spoke of the administrative burden that resulted from workplace supervisors escalating issues unnecessarily.

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Sydney Uni photo exhibition Silent Tears features disabled women who are victims of violence

Silent tears: Photographers Denise Beckwith and Belinda Mason (front row, left to right) have told the stories of disabled abuse survivors Rochelle Taylor, Jeannine Burt and Amao Leota Lu (back row, left to right). Photo: James Alcock Jeannine Burt, who was abused by a dentist when she was 13, is pictured emerging from a bathful of tears. Photo: Belinda Mason
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Carolyn Dewaegeneire, whose genitals were unnecessarily removed by the “Butcher of Bega” Graeme Reeves, remembers lying on the operating bed and being told her clitoris would be taken. Photo: Belinda Mason

“I know I can overcome what life throws at me:” This anonymous indigenous woman was assaulted by her partner, who then killed her eight-year-old son. Photo: Belinda Mason

 Jeannine Burt was abused by a dentist while she was in the dentist chair, on happy gas, at the age of 13.

A vague memory of it followed her through life, consuming her with flashbacks, confusion and a crippling fear that eventually prevented her from taking her daughters to see doctors or dentists.

But that would not be the last of her struggles.

While undergoing psychiatric treatment for a breakdown connected to the abuse, Ms Burt, 47, had a bad reaction to medication and acquired Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare condition causing her body to burn from the inside out.

She spent a month in a coma, 90 per cent of her skin peeled off and her eyelids stuck to her eyeballs. The permanent condition means she has her eyelashes removed weekly to stop them growing inwards and regular blood transfusions to allow her eyes to produce moisture and tears.

“I kept saying somehow I have to find a positive way of me expressing this or bringing it into my children’s lives so they have an understanding,” she said.

“You can’t keep living in the past. You have to make the memory become a part of your future and your present.”

Ms Burt’s story is one of dozens portrayed in a photographic exhibition, Silent Tears, that opened at the University of Sydney on Wednesday night.

Ms Burt is pictured emerging defiantly through a bathful of tears by photographer Belinda Mason, a former Moran Prize winner who has used saturated water to depict the haunting stories of women who have been left disabled due to violence or been abused because they have a disability.

It is a hidden but startlingly large problem in Australia.

More than 70 per cent of disabled women have been sexually abused and the figure is closer to 90 per cent for those with an intellectual disability.

Disabled women are 40 per cent more likely to be the victims of domestic violence.

Yet violence “often goes unidentified, unreported, un-investigated, inadequately investigated or results in poor outcomes for the person involved,” the country’s main disability advocacy bodies said in a recent submission the federal government.

Victims are often not believed or not given the chance to tell their story. Ms Mason, who worked with artists Dieter Knierim and Margherita Coppolino and disability consultant-turned-photographer Denise Beckwith, said the exhibition screams: “Don’t forget these are people’s lives”.

“As long as we create an inclusive environment for these conversations there will be better solutions because we are not being desensitised,” she said.

In the exhibition, Carolyn Dewaegeneire, who had her genitals mutilated by the “Butcher of Bega” Graeme Reeves, is pictured terrified before going under the knife.

Rochelle Taylor, a survivor of severe child physical and sexual abuse, is distorted to look like the lost child she once was. Amao Leota Lu, a transgender woman of Samoan heritage, is pictured undergoing dialysis with a huge smile on her face.

After spending years confused about her identity and the abuse she suffered as a child, Ms Leota Lu said she is finally learning to laugh again.

“This exhibition was a healing process for me,” she said. “This is the tip of the iceberg to me feeling free.”

Silent Tears will run in the Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library until April 22.

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