May, 2019

Family court system is failing our children

IF the current Royal Commission into institutionalised sexual abuse has shown us anything, it’s that there are many, many children whose voices are desperately raised in a call for help that is all too often ignored.
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And just when it seemed we couldn’t, as a community, be shocked any more by the widespread whitewashing of abuse, comes a report by the Bravehearts organisation into the family court system.

According to Bravehearts, the Family Court has sent children to live with convicted sex offenders in Queensland.

The 277-page report, dubbed Abbey’s Project in memory of a young girl allegedly driven to suicide by the family court system failing to adequately deal with sexual abuse she suffered, examines 15 case studies and calls for a royal commission into the nation’s “dysfunctional” system of child protection.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston has told the media that private funding had enabled the organisation to compile the report to highlight a system in crisis.

She told the ABC many lawyers were reluctant to raise issues of child sexual abuse, because the parent making accusations was viewed as vindictive by the Family Court.

“Children are being sent to live with convicted sex offenders,” she said.

“This is insane and this is unacceptable so our political leaders have to step up to the plate.

She is pleading with politicians of all persuasions to consider “doing the right thing by Australian children”.

“We’ve produced this report to demand that the Federal Government, no matter who is elected, conduct a royal commission into the family law court system,” she said.

“If they’re serious about children and they’re serious about protecting our families, then we need to have a federal royal commission and we need to unpick this system and find a better way to protect our kids.”

Bravehearts had actually tried to have these issues addressed by the current Royal Commission, but it was reportedly decided these issues would simply have overwhelmed an already heavy agenda.

“But that doesn’t make this problem go away,” Ms Johnston said.

“This is not anyone in particular’s fault, this is a system that is dysfunctional.”

She said the system could work so much better, but it needed to be reinvented.

I have no doubt there are parents who fling accusations at their partners when relationships are breaking down and acrimony is rising, but it is foolhardy in the extreme to assume this is always the case.

The Bravehearts report is utterly heartrending reading.

It is extremely difficult to read it through the case studies, particularly, without being distressed.

There is little doubt we need to see, in this country, a great many more resources allocated to our child protection system.

Child protection workers are as important to our community as police officers, firefighters, paramedics and medical staff, yet it’s a portfolio that never seems to get the same attention.

The NSW Government this week announced a $3.7 billion surplus.

Already, the government has asked to pony up for better health services.

Perhaps some pressure needs to be applied to the government, in a bid to have it MPs open the public purse a little wider and throw some additional funding towards frontline child protection personnel.

I cannot imagine it is a decision that would be regretted further down the track.

Jody Springett is a Fairfax writer

Rare, renovated charmer

STUNNING ART DECO: 158A Rocket Street has just been listed for sale, and has been beautifully renovated to highlight its original features.BEAUTIFULLY renovated to highlight its original features, 158A Rocket Street is a rare art deco charmer that has just hit the market.
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Chris Boserio, from Landmark Langlands Hanlon, has just listed the property andsaysit offersa unique opportunity to buy a one-of-a-kind home which has been lovingly restored and is now ready for the new owners to move straight in.

“Properties like this are hard to come by,” Ms Boseriosaid.

“It is absolutely immaculate. Everything has been redone from the new kitchen to the bathroom to the electrical wiring.There is nothing left to do but move in.”

Ms Boserio said period features were among the home’s attractions.

“The quality and authentic features of this art deco home holdall the charm of the deco period with a wide entryway, ornate ceiling and fantastic traditional light fittings,” she said.

“This rare home offers three double bedrooms all with built-in wardrobes, plus a home office which could be accessed from the back, making it ideal to work from home.All the renovations have been respectfully done in keeping with its era.

“The hub of the home is the near-new kitchen, with soft closing draws and a large island bench overlooking the dining room making it a wonderful room for entertaining.

“There is also a brand new bathroom with a large bath and separate shower which has been tastefully renovated.”

There is a separate toilet, plus a shower in the laundry that has also been newly renovated.

Outside is an entertainer’s dream:a large gabled carport which could be used for an outdoor entertaining area, and a beautifully paved backyard with established gardens, meaning everything is all very easy care.

“So all you have to do is sit back and enjoy this beautiful home,” Ms Boseriosaid.

“The home has been meticulously looked after to provide a comfortable living style and nothing has been spared in the renovations.

“Even the doors have retained their original art deco style.”

Ms Boserio said the property was also within easy walking distance to town.

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Barbs slung in the backblocks

As the Sydney Morning Herald this week was headlining its front page with an updated story on the battle for New England between incumbent and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and once long-time holder of the seat Tony Windsor, it was also signalling the rancour in a fight plumbing new depths.
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On exactly the same day, on another national front page, there was theastonishing story of Tony Windsor being accused of student bullying at his old school, Farrer, more than 50 years ago.

This is how low you can go in a battle for survival for one ambitious politician who now regards it as his and theresurrection of one who believes he has to reclaim it for his electorate’s better future.

The viciousness and brutality of this battle for even hardened campaign onlookers is appalling.

When Mr Windsor announced he was going to re-contest the seat, there was a dread among veterans about thebattlelines and the engagement rules.

Metro media types salivated at the prospect of some colourful campaign stuff and the interesting days ahead.

They spoke at length with local media about the highlights to come, in what was an election landscape looking decidedly banal, grey and soexceedingly long that it trailed off into the distance.

But now, the battle for New England has become ugly and repugnant in places, more bitterly engaged and waged than even the most crusted-on old media watchers might haveimagined.

The forays by metro media into the New England backyard has been like watching missiles being thrown in the night.

Metropolitan barbs slung into the country backblocks like terrorist raids.

Some have assaulted residents,electors and reporters as they strivefor the ever-personal remarks and colourful country quotes.

Some have been particularlyaggressive, demanding contactnumbers, old stories and paperprintouts and some of the localknowledge that will put them in place with the battling warriors.

And certain campaign types have muddied the waters too, integrity and honesty taking a backseat toelectioneering and wedge politics, as well as high-handed arrogance.

There was a certain schadenfreude or delicious irony in one anecdote then relayed back to this newsroom.

It involved the hapless bogging of a news team chasing after one campaign culprit and being led, like a goose chase of sorts, into the countryside, where the blacksoil plains were like a chocolate mud cake.

It was a lighter moment to savour in a campaign that’s been so tough it’s become grubby.

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Quality, disease-free product crucial to maintaining strong demand

GOOD PROSPECTS: Balco chief executive officer Rob Lawson said the Chinese market was looking good.
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BALCO chiefexecutive officer Rob Lawson has just returned to SA from China, where he says there is an increasing focus on hay quality ahead of quantity.

“Their domesticplantings of oaten hay have increased, but the need for quality, clean and disease-free fodder–which Australia is known to produce–is stillhigh among the high-end dairies,” he said.

“But there are milk pricepressures in China,like there is globally, so Chinese dairies are looking closer at how to more effectively produce their own quality product domestically.”

Mr Lawson said other developing marketswere Indonesia and Vietnam, while water restrictions in the Middle East would create opportunity for Australian growers.

“Freight rates are also becoming more competitive for us,” he said.

“Australian hay growers should be optimistic, but they need to make sure they have a relationship with a quality exporter.”

Mr Lawson said the hay season was off to a great start in SA, with the area sown up about 10 per centon 2015.He believed most Australian exporters would have minimal carry-over.

“The extra plantings should comfortably meet the demand,” he said.

Last year SA exported about 250,000 tonnes, at prices up to $250/t for oaten hay.

Mr Lawson said they weren’t expecting prices to be that high because of the likely extra volume.

“It’s important that the Australian industry manages thegrowth curve in a controlled manner, because as soon as there is oversupply, the price will drop,” he said.

Australian growers diversifying into fodder production could capitalise on rising demand from China.

About 850,000 tonnes of Australian fodder was exported overseas in the past year, mainly to Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

While Japan remains Australia’s largest fodder export market, increasing Chinese demand for Australian-grown fodder is expected to underpin growth for the foreseeable future.

Australian Fodder Industry Association executive officer Darren Keating saidChina wasan exciting prospect for fodder exporters.

“Three years ago we exported about 18,000t to China,” he said.“While last year we saw more than 160,000t exported.”

This growth demand reflects the continued expansion of the Chinese dairy industry, which official figures suggest has maintained a 12.8 per cent average annual growth rate since 2000.

Producing hay for export is more specialised than producing for the domestic market, with farmersproducing grain in regions with existing export facilities best placed to diversify their operations.

“If you are going to produce hay for export successfully, you have to know your customers and you have to know what they want,” MrKeating said.

“In terms of China, the only product we have market access for is oaten hay, which is mostly used in dairy production and beef feedlots.”

Mr Keating said diversifying into fodder could also help growers to spread risk.

“Obviously if you know how to produce hay or silage, especially for people with a focus on grain production, it gives you more options in the event of challenging environmental or economic conditions,” he said.

Australian hay production is estimated to be worth more than $1.5 billion, with oaten hay accounting for almost 75pc of hay exported from Australia annually, according to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

Even if producers are not planning to export hay, its production can still help to spread risk and build resilience, according toRIRDCsenior program managerJohn de Majnik.

“We strongly encourage farmers to consider diversification strategies where appropriate,” Dr de Majnik said.“Export fodder provides one such opportunity.”

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Local 99-year-old will continue to vote

Voting: Joan Kefford has some tea and biscuits as she chats about her political views after a game of bridge at the Senior Citizens Centre.Esperance resident Joan Kefford turns100 this year and has already made he way to the polling booths to cast her vote.
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“I voted because I felt that I should vote, I was able to go so I went,” Mrs Kefford said.

Mrs Kefford said a gentleman at the polling centre saw her date of birth.

“He looked down and saw the 19thof November 1916 and he said ‘that can’t be right,” Mrs Kefford said.

She said when she was younger her family told her to vote for Labor Party but it changed when she got married.

“-I asked my husband who I should vote for and he said ‘you must please yourself and make up your own mind’ so he stood his ground and I stood mine,” Mrs Kefford said.

Mrs Kefford said she loved Paul Keating for his wit but has changed her vote over the years.

She said this year she voted for the Nationals because she met Terry Redman at Escare and she liked his manner and approach.

“He said ‘oh what are you doing here’ and I said i’m here with the Wattle Club, but not like the flower’ and he said ‘I’m the leader of the National Party,” Mrs Kefford said.

“There was a big group of them and they were all very tall and I said to him ‘I thought you were a lot of basketball players coming in,” Mrs Kefford said.

Mrs Kefford attributes her wit and humour to playing bridge at the Senior Citizens Centre.

“It keeps the grey matter working,” Mrs Kefford said.

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