Government tackles domestic violence in Hunter

END THE CYCLE: Stop Family Violence

The state government has announced a $60 million package to tackle domestic violence.

The package, announced on Wednesday, will target perpetrators and support women, men and children who have experienced domestic and family violence

The package, announced on Wednesday, will target perpetrators and support women, men and children who have experienced domestic and family violence.

The package includes new police domestic violence high-risk offender teams to target perpetrators and reduce the rate of reoffending as well as a domestic family violence suspect target management plans that will put offenders on notice.

The package also includes mandated behaviour change programs to make perpetrators address their behaviour.

The package will increase crisis accommodation support as well as introduce Australia’s first domestic violence disclosure scheme. The scheme will disclose information about a perpetrator’s violent history and provide a stronger response to sexual assault.

‘‘Domestic violence is a plague that needs to be eradicated across this state and country,’’ Mr Baird said.

‘‘No one should have to live in fear in their own home.’’

Mr Baird said he aimed to reduce the rate of domestic and family violence reoffending within 12 months by five per cent by 2019.

Minister for the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault Pru Goward said the package would build on supporting the victims of domestic family violence.

‘‘More than one in five domestic violence offenders will end up in court convicted of another domestic violence offence within two years. This must change,’’ she said.

The package represents the first stage of the NSW government’s increased investment into domestic family violence.

Living in fear: The human cost of family terrorism

LIVING NIGHTMARE: Family violence survivor Stephanie (pictured) believes the current protection system is failing to keep victims safe from perpetrators. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric STEPHANIElives everydayfearing for her life.

The Ballarat woman is inhiding following the release ofher violent ex-partner, who was jailed for fourand half years forrape and sexual assault.The attack occurred whenStephanie, who was only 16 at the time, broke off their relationship.

She was abducted from central Ballarat on her way to school and subjected to a violent four-and-a-half hour ordeal, despite an intervention order being in place.Now, she saysshe is terrified of becoming another statistic.”We’ve got a system in place whichprotects the perpetrators more than thevictims,” she said.“Legally he needs to know where I am living to stay at least one kilometre away from my house.But I’mnot even allowed to know what town he is inor if he plans on coming back to Ballarat.”

Stephanie said the current system wasfailing victims, wholived everydaycrippled by fear.“I was assaulted and raped while there was interim intervention order against him,” she said. “My life has becomea never-ending nightmare. This should never been allowed tohave happened.”

Stephanie said she isfrustrated by the way police and the Victorian legal system have handled her case. Under the existinglegislation for intervention orders, police are unable to disclosedetails of the whereabouts of perpetratorstovictims. As her ex-partner was being lead away in the courtroom he unleashed a tirade of threatswhich still hauntStephanie.”He told I’m dead, that I’m a dog andhe’s going to get me.”

Since the attack Stephanie’s life has stood still.She has suffereddepression, anxiety and agoraphobia and been unable to work.

The violence throughout their three month relationship was further intensified by her ex-partner’s drug use which included a dangerouscocktail methamphetamine,heroin, speed and marijuana.When he was coming off a drug-fuelledbender, he’d inject himself with morphine.

“He absolutely terrifiedme,” she said. “He was uncontrollable and explosive. Itdidn’t matter if he was on drugs or coming off it.He’d flip out at the smallest things.He’d constantly belittle me and he was financially abusive. Hewould take all my money to pay for his drug addiction…he had total control of me. I was too afraid of what would happen to me and myfamily if I didn’t give him what he wanted.”

On the day sheended herrelationshipwith her ex-partner, Stephanie was at the police station getting arestraining order against him.

But the abuse didn’t stop.

“He’d taunt me and say an intervention order is just a piece of paper,” she said.“I’ve got one with no expiry datebut to him it’s still a piece of paper.”

As the days passed, the threats became more terrifying.

“He said he’d slit my throat if I didn’t take him back,” she said. “He threatened to burn down my family house with my family in it. He terroisedme with threateningmessages forweeks after we brokeup.”

Then suddenlythe messages stopped.The following day Stephanie was abducted.

“He was stalking me on my way to school,” she said. “He grabbed my arm and said we needed to talk.I kept saying no, buthe saidhe was going to kill me andthen kill my family if I didn’t go with him.”

After hesexually assaulted her, Stephaniewas held hostage for another two hours.Following her ex-partner’srelease, Stephanie has moved house and said sheremained aprisoner inside her own home.

“I do not go outside,” she said. “I suffer panic attacks daily.I can’t even go to the supermarket withoutsomebody being there. For me to move forwardI just need to knowhe is not in Ballarat.”

Stephaniesaid she was speaking out to empowerother women experiencing violenceand tocall fortougher penalties for perpetrators who breached intervention orders.Despite facing theVictorian Adult Parole Board numerous times, her ex-partner served his fullsentence.

“Thereis no way for police to monitor him now,” she said.”For the system to have it that they must know where we live and we can’t know where they are.. it’s protecting them and not us.I’d really like to see the day the perpetrator doesn’t have as much protection as the victim. A daywherevictims are able to live their lives not just exist in a cycle of fear.”

*Stephanie is not her real name


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Sunraysia Football Netball League faces new age: Under 17 comp on the cards as clubs lose numbers game

A SHAKE-UP of Sunraysia football age groupings is on the cards after the league board recommended the Under 18 competition move to an Under 17 model.

Irymple’s Mathew Millward leads the race for the ball in the SFNL Under 18 Grand Final against Mildura. Picture: Carmel Zaccone

The Sunraysia Football Netball League board’s recommendation would also remove a grade, with the Under 16 and Under 14.5 competitions replaced by an Under 15 competition.

If adopted, the plan would see the SFNL run a structure of Seniors, Reserves, Under 17, Under 15 and Under 13 from next season.

Under 12, Under 10 and Auskick would continue in their ­current format.

The board requested submissions from the senior and junior bodies of all eight clubs in response to clubs having low player numbers.

Feedback indicated there was concern among some clubs about the need for footballers to play multiple games on the same day.

In a memo to clubs this week, SFNL administration manager Peter Walker said low player numbers were an issue in the Reserve, Under 18 and Under 16 grades.

“The Reserve grade, in particular, faced some real issues with the majority of our clubs having to play 40 to 50-year-olds to make up numbers plus having to utilise multiple Under 18 players to ­double up, having already played earlier in the day,” the memo said.

“One club in particular utilised 70 players throughout the season in the Reserves competition – 59 players was the average across the board.

“This same scenario was faced in the Under 18 and Under 16 competition where some clubs struggled to get sufficient numbers without playing top-up players from lower age grades, again seeing players participating in multiple games over a weekend.”

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Runners to promote peace and harmony

RUNNERSwill promote peace and harmony andpoundthe pavement in the name of peace next Tuesday, October 20, when a torchcarried to promote a harmonious world passes through Bunbury.

The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run was founded in 1987 by the late peace visionary Sri Chinmoy ina spirit of love and harmony. It has passed through more than 140 nations and involved everyone fromcommunity members to Mother Teresa and former South African President Nelson Mandela.

This is the second time in recent years the Peace Run has visited Bunbury.

Activities on Tuesday willinclude the laying of a plaque at the Friendship Walk in Queens Garden at 3pm andmembers of the public arewelcome to attend thecivic reception hosted by the City of Bunbury.

Run participants, from as far away as Mongolia, set off from Perth on Monday and will cover around1000 kilometreduring their two-week trek that will take in numerous communities throughout WA.

Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan said the message carried by the Peace Run participants complimented theCity’s vision of a harmonious community.

“Events such as the Peace Run remind us that we all have a role to play in making our community a peaceful and vibrant place to live,” Mr Brennan said.

For more information about the Western Australian leg of the Peace Run, visit

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Long haul for rower

MILDURA rower Rob Ellis has returned from the Australian Masters Games in Adelaide with 10 medals – nine gold and one silver.

What’s more, he did it all in two days and after training in a different state to his rowing partner.

“We challenged ourselves a little bit,” Ellis said of him and his Port Adelaide-based rowing partner David Trinne.

“It was initially going to be over a three-day period, so we picked three to four races each day.

“Then they condensed it to two days, so we were lined up to row five races on both days.” Rowers can compete in younger age groups.

That’s where a strict training program in the 12 weeks leading up to the event came in handy.

Ellis’ regimen built up to include five to six sessions in each of the six weeks before the event, which helped make up for the lack of training time with his partner.

“We both started our programs early enough and just our technique and our general fitness worked in well together,” he said.

“Normally the ideal thing is to train together, but we sort of just winged it a little bit.”

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Greens fail in move to block bill on Tasmanian planning reforms

DEBATE on the state government’s planning reforms ran into last night, in what’s expected to be one of the longest parliamentary debates of the year.

A move by the Greens to block the bill until the full statewide planning scheme is released next year was voted down by the Liberals and Labor.

In handing down his second reading speech, Treasurer Peter Gutwein said it was an important enabling bill to set in place the structure of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme.

BID: Treasurer Peter Gutwein says he wants to set the structure for a new planning scheme. Picture: Jason Hollister.

“It is a fundamental step in providing a mature and contemporary planning system and articulates the roles and responsibilities of state and local government in a planning system that promotes equity, clarity and consistency across Tasmania,” Mr Gutwein said.

The Greens have indicated they will move more than 60 amendments to the 246-page legislation.

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Bolwarra joins the train battlePOLL

Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison has proposed the establishment of a Hunter Planning and Transport Authority.The residents of Bolwarra Heights have joined the western suburbs’ fight for a train station in a battle that has gone all the way to state Parliament.

More than 500 people have put their name on a petition Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison introduced to Parliament on Tuesday – and she’s confident there are many more signatures to come.

It’s not enough to prompt a parliamentary debate yet, but the petition does require Transport Minister Andrew Constance to give residents an official response within 35 days.

“People signed and handed in sheet after sheet at mobile offices I set up at train stations around Maitland demanding better transport outcomes,” Ms Aitchison said.

“I’ve never run a mobile office where people have been lining up to hand me petitions at 6am.”

A Dungog train service runs from Telarah along the eastern boundary of Aberglasslyn, through the disused Oakhampton station, and over the Hunter River behind Bolwarra Heights.

Combined these areas have swelled in populatione over the years in vast estates rubber stamped by the state government.

Ms Aitchison said it was time the Department of Planning and Transport for NSW put their heads together.

And she lodged a motion in Parliament on Tuesday morning, separate from the petition, that asks just that.

Her proposal, for a Hunter Planning and Transport Authority, could be debated within six months.

“This motion is about cleaning up the mess between planning and transport because there’s no communicaion,” Ms Aitchison said.

“Why can’t we get the Minister for Transport [Andrew Constance] out of his Sydney office and up here to look at what we need?”

The motion and petition formed part of a two-pronged strategy from Ms Aitchison for better transport outcomes this week.

The petition also asks the government to reverse the Wickham rail truncation, run buses in between those closed stations until light rail is implemented and make Victoria Street (East Maitland) more access friendly.

Ms Aitchison said she like many was anxious about the proposed changes to the Transport Act that are due to reappear in the Upper House any day now.

If adopted the state government will continue tearing out rail infrastructure between Wickham and Newcastle.

“This legislation is not just an attack on Maitland and Upper Hunter commuters, it is also an attack on the democracy of our state,” Ms Aitchison said.

“It’s never too late for the government to do the right thing and that’s to listen to the community.”

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Inclusiveness is our strength

RACISM and anti-Muslim sentiment have raised their ugly heads in Bendigo in recent months after the local council gave the green light to the construction of a mosque in the city.

The clashes between police,anti-racism and anti-Muslim protesters have created national headlines at a time when Australia is grappling with how to deal with a terrorist threat that has surfaced on our doorstep.

It is unchartered territory for this country, so, naturally it’s provoked a lot of discussion, questions, opinion and advice – not all of it informed and not all of it helpful at a time when we need to be pulling together.

What has surfaced from the Bendigo protests is that many of the protesters are not from Bendigo at all and have injected a degree of malice and hatred into the debate that was not there at the beginning.

A gentleman from Tamworth was even interviewed as part of one of the radio broadcasts on this week’s protests and the rent-a-crowd even extended as far as Queensland and South Australia.

A group called the United Patriots Front is front-and-centre of the action now, initially invited by the local mosque protest group, who are now having second thoughts in the wake of the increasingly violent clashes.

It’s not the first time these sorts of local issues have been hijacked by special interest groups with no interest in the local community – the focus solely on their group’s desire to create headlines for their own purposes.

If the local Bendigo protest group had legitimate concerns about the construction of a mosque, those concerns have now been buried under a layer of hostility and fanaticism, and the good people of Bendigo all tarred with the same brush.

These sentiments, though, from people who want “Australians” to all look the same, like them – God forbid – are disguised as patriotism, but there is nothing Australian about them.

Australia has been built on a league of nations and a melting pot of religions and beliefs, and this is where our strength lies.

There’s no doubt we have to face the threat of global terrorism head-on, but inclusiveness is our most powerful weapon in this fight, not the racist rhetoric designed to tear our communities apart.

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Payout for cancer victim exposed to leaked chemicals

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A US court has awarded a woman $1.6 million in damages for kidney cancer caused by exposure to the same chemicals formerly used in fire fighting chemicals at the Williamtown RAAF base.

The jury found chemical giant Dupont was liable for negligence in the case of Carla Bartlett who developed kidney cancer after drinking water with Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8.

Ms Bartlett is among 3500 plaintiffs who are suing chemical giant DuPont in the Ohio federal court.

The claim states they contracted one of six diseases that have been linked to PFOA.

The US case could have major implications for residents living around the Williamtown RAAF base who have been exposed to the chemicals through ground and surface water.

An expert committee set up to investigate the scandal widened the affected area last week. Dupont nominated Ms Bartlett’s case as the first to be tired because it involved less egregious injuries than many others yet to be heard.

‘‘They picked this case with the idea that it was the most winnable, Mike Papantonio, who represented Ms Bartlett, said.

‘‘Strategically they never dreamed we’d win this case.’’

Dupont said in a statement that it expected to appeal the verdict and said that safety and environmental stewardship are core values at Dupont.

The lawsuits centre on Dupont’s plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where the company used the chemical to make non-stick teflon cookware.

The plaintiffs argue that Dupont continued to use the chemical after learning it was potentially toxic and that it had been discovered in nearby drinking water supplies in Ohio, West Virgina.

Ms Bartlett, now 51, was diagnosed with a kidney tumour in 1997. She spent much of her life in a small town across the Ohio River from the Dupont plant.

Bartlett’s attorneys argued that while she and tens of thousands of people living near Parkersburg were drinking the contaminated water, Dupont was working to ensure they didn’t ‘‘connect the dots’’ about the chemical. A Dupont Powerpoint presentation presented to the court laid out the company’s strategy of keeping sensitive information from government agencies, community organisations and disgruntled employees.

Fullerton Cove resident Lindsay Clout, who is outraged over the report of toxins from the Williamtown RAAF base next door leaching onto his property. Picture: Darren Pateman

Hurricanes’ men forgo imports while women sign two

THE Hunter Hurricanes men’s side are not banking on imports to boost their roster this National Water Polo League season, but the women’s team have secured two for their campaign.

South African international Kieren Paley and American Ariel Feeney will join the Hunter women’s side to fill two of three import spots.

The men’s side are permitted two imports this year after finishing with the bronze medal in the NWPL finals for 2014-15.

Americans Connor Virjee, Nikola Vavic and Justin Parsons, who was the goalkeeper, were major factors, along with eventual player of the year Daniel Lawrence, in the Hurricanes’ breakthrough season.

Virjee and Vavic are in the US national squad battling for places in their Olympic team for next year’s games. Vavic will not return to Newcastle and Virjee is unlikely to.

New Hurricanes coach Al Caldwell, who has taken over from Brett Arnold, said it was difficult to find quality imports because of Olympic preparations worldwide and the club would promote juniors to fill the void.

Caldwell conceded the likely absence of imports ‘‘will make it hard’’ to repeat last season’s success.

He said it was always a ‘‘fine line to tread’’ each season between promoting youth and signing imports to strengthen the squad.

Like last season, the women’s side will have two imports in their line-up.

Coach Daniel Lawrence said Paley, a left-handed driving centre-forward, and Feeney, a driver-shooter, had been secured through contacts and mutual friends in the US.

Paley, 25, is a regular member of the South African national team and was part of the squad which finished 16th at the World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, Russia in July-August.

Kelsey White, who was with the Hurricanes in 2013, was captain of the South African team at the tournament.

Feeney played for the University of California, Davis, from 2009 to 2012 and sits eighth all-time on their career assists list with 193.

Last year, the Hurricanes had Chinese import Yidan ‘‘Connie’’ Huo and US goalkeeper Kelly Ringel. Huo is not returning and Ringel has moved to the University of NSW club.

Lawrence said last year’s back-up keeper, Emily Grellman, would step up into the starting side for Ringel.

He believed the new imports would ‘‘fit in well with what we’ve got’’ and help ease the major loss of leading local product Georgia McConville, who is moving from the area.

‘‘Georgia will be a big loss, but we’ll definitely pick it up from where we left off last season.’’

Lawrence expected an improved result on his first season in charge.

The Hurricanes men’s and women’s teams start their season with an away double-header against the Adelaide Jets on December 3 and 4.