Michelle Heyman is now the W-League’s all-time leading goal-scorer, has just played her 100th game and her form for Canberra United this season has been top level. The road back has been anything but smooth, but Heyman is thrilled to be playing and finally loving the game again.
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Some children with autism have a fascination with water, a tendency to wander and little or no sense of danger, putting them much more at risk of drowning.
But a unique swimming program in Canberra — with a counterintuitive structure — has dived deep into the issue to turn the tragic tide.
Renee Zwikielberg has two children with autism — William, 9, and Sophie, 7 — and said she came frighteningly close to the tragedy of losing a child to drowning.
“We went on holiday about 18 months ago and William nearly drowned,” she said.
Ms Zwikielberg said they had tried many different types of swimming classes over the years from group settings to one-on-one lessons with instructors trained in teaching people with autism.
But she said it was not until William was enrolled in WaterAbilities at Black Mountain Schoolthat he made progress.
“At first, he didn’t even want to get in the water,” she said.
“He was afraid … and had a lot of anxiety about drowning given that it almost happened twice.”
But William has since thrived in the lessons, learning strokes, safety and how to enjoy the water.
And that’s also given Ms Zwikielberg confidence that her son would be safe around water.
“It’s really changed my life. I can’t stress that enough,” she said.
Strengthening exercises key to swimming success
The program’s unique composition involves spending as much time outside of the pool as in it.
The unconventional strategy has used land-based exercises that strengthen muscles and movements used for swimming well before participants try to thrash against the water.
Those strength-building exercises have been especially valuable for William’s little sister Sophie.
“Even at five, [Sophie] was what you would consider a floppy baby, but now her strength and her muscle tone has increased,” Ms Zwikielberg said.
Ele Fogarty has seen a similarly remarkable transformation in her son Flynn.
The five-year-old happily and safely dived underwater for the first time last week after a sensory condition had meant he previously became distressed if water — even from a shower — washed over his head.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Ms Fogarty said.
“And he actually decided he’s going to do showers. They’re only small things but they’re massive.”
Drowning leading cause of death in children with autism
Carol Jennings co-founded the “holistic” pilot and said it was intentionally very different to mainstream swim schools.
“The whole team are allied health workers, so we draw on occupational therapy, exercise physiology, physiotherapy and early education, in addition to being swim school qualified,” Ms Jennings said.
According to Royal Life Saving Australia, children with autism are 160 per cent more likely to drown than those without.
And drowning is the leading cause of death for children with autism.
The ACT Government spent $15,000 on the trial, which was also supported by Royal Life Saving ACT.
Royal Life Saving ACT general manager Cherry Bailey said the disability community had been crying out for a solution like WaterAbilities.
“The demand was obvious and really important,” she said.
“We want these children to be experiencing the same types of program opportunities as children without autism.
“[The program] has provided really special connections for families and children in the water and provided focus points needed in terms of fundamental movement, development in the water and readiness to learn … water safety skills.”
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The temporary tightening of COVID-19 restrictions seems to have paid off, with NSW recording no new locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to 8pm last night. But Mother’s Day celebrations will still be very different for many after household gatherings were restricted and face masks were made compulsory,. On Thursday restrictions were ramped up in greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains after another locally acquired COVID-19 case was detected in NSW. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also banned dancing and singing, with the new rules enforceable until 12.01am on Monday. Six new cases were acquired overseas to 8pm Friday, bringing the total number of cases in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic to 5338. Read more: Outgoing UOW boss has ‘no regrets’ heading into retirement There were 22,153 tests reported to 8pm last night, compared with the previous day’s total of 13,339. NSW Health administered 5234 vaccines in the 24 hours to 8pm Friday. The total number of vaccines administered in NSW is now 762,458, with 234,725 doses administered by NSW Health to 8pm last night and 527,733 administered by the GP network and other providers to 11.59pm on Thursday, May 6. NSW Health thanked the community for their response to calls for testing this week. NSW Health also identified a new venue of concern as part of ongoing investigations into the two locally acquired cases of COVID-19 reported earlier this week. Anyone who attended Woolworths in Double Bay on Monday, May 3 from 1045-11am is is considered a casual contact and should get tested immediately and isolate until a negative result is received. They should continue to monitor for symptoms, and if they appear, get tested again. We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.
The temporary tightening of COVID-19 restrictions seems to have paid off, with NSW recording no new locally acquired cases in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
But Mother’s Day celebrations will still be very different for many after household gatherings were restricted and face masks were made compulsory,.
On Thursday restrictions were ramped up in greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains after another locally acquired COVID-19 case was detected in NSW.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also banned dancing and singing, with the new rules enforceable until 12.01am on Monday.
Six new cases were acquired overseas to 8pm Friday, bringing the total number of cases in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic to 5338.
There were 22,153 tests reported to 8pm last night, compared with the previous day’s total of 13,339.
NSW Health administered 5234 vaccines in the 24 hours to 8pm Friday.
The total number of vaccines administered in NSW is now 762,458, with 234,725 doses administered by NSW Health to 8pm last night and 527,733 administered by the GP network and other providers to 11.59pm on Thursday, May 6.
NSW Health thanked the community for their response to calls for testing this week.
NSW Health also identified a new venue of concern as part of ongoing investigations into the two locally acquired cases of COVID-19 reported earlier this week.
Anyone who attended Woolworths in Double Bay on Monday, May 3 from 1045-11am is is considered a casual contact and should get tested immediately and isolate until a negative result is received.
They should continue to monitor for symptoms, and if they appear, get tested again.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.
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The hunt is on to find the quick-thinking cyclist who “didn’t even hesitate” to save a three-year-old boy who scooted straight into Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin.
Mother Ellie Carey was out walking near the National Carillon on Sunday when her son, Miles, ventured slightly ahead of the rest of the family.
“I called him to come back,” Ms Carey said.
“He’d half turned around and then scooted straight in [the lake].
But before Ms Carey could get to her son, an unknown cyclist came to the rescue.
“The man was cycling towards us with a friend so he would have seen the whole thing unfold,” Ms Carey said.
“He didn’t even hesitate. He jumped off the bike, ripped off his backpack and leapt straight in.”
With Miles safely in the arms of the cyclist, it was all hands on deck to get the pair back on solid ground.
“A million people stopped to help,” Ms Carey said.
“It’s about a metre drop down into the lake, so someone helped pull Miles out and then a few of us helped the man out.
Search for the rescuer begins
Once Miles was back on dry ground, Ms Carey said the cyclist stayed to check if the little boy was okay.
But within minutes, Miles’s rescuer disappeared.
“He stood there for a little while and asked me a few times if Miles was okay and I think I said ‘thank you so much’ at least four times,” Ms Carey said.
“I was trying to rip everything off Miles because he was frozen, and then the cyclist just quietly left.”
With no name or details, Ms Carey is now hoping the Canberra community can help her find the heroic cyclist.
“Now that we can laugh about it, we want to say thank you – particularly Miles,” she said.
“We were so mortified for the first day or two but now we know it’ll be a story that’s told for years to come.”
Ms Carey said Miles “kept his cool in the water – thanks to swimming lessons – and then got over it in record time to go on and play in the park for two hours”.
And, in the event the cyclist cannot be found, Miles’s father Pat Carey recorded a short chat with the three-year-old about the incident, which clearly shows his gratitude.
Pat: “So, you were on the scooter and what happened?”
Miles: “I fell in the lake.”
Pat: “Did a man come and save you?”
Pat: “What do you want to say to him?”
Miles: “Thank you for saving me, man.”
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The reigning premiers will host their 2020 grand final opponent to kick off round eight of the AFL season. Follow our live AFL ScoreCentre for all the scores, stats and results.
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The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has apologised to athletes who spoke out about their treatment during their time at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).
An Australian Human Right Commission report found a culture of abuse was enabled in gymnastics in Australia
The ASC offered an apology and support to “former AIS athletes treated inappropriately in the past”
It said a new helpline has been established called AIS Be Heard
An independent review by the Australian Human Right Commission (AHRC) into gymnastics in Australia found the sport enabled a culture of abuse, predominantly against young women.
A number of women spoke about negative experiences during their time as gymnasts at the AIS, with some detailing allegations of sexual, physical and psychological abuse.
They also said their complaints were not acted upon by administrators at the AIS.
The ASC offered an apology and support to “former AIS athletes treated inappropriately in the past”.
“We know incidents and practices occurred that are not acceptable. For this, we are truly sorry,” a statement from the ASC board read.
“We admire the courage of people who have come forward to share their stories. We assure you, we are listening and you have been heard. We have begun reaching out personally to athletes to offer our support.”
The ASC board said most of the thousands of athletes who went through the AIS scholarship programs from 1981 to 2012 “will remember their time fondly”.
“Unfortunately, that is not everyone’s experience,” the statement read.
The ASC said it has set up an independent and confidential support service called AIS Be Heard that was available to any former AIS athletes or staff members, which also links with the existing support services.
The statement said the AHRC review was “a painful process” but one that the ASC hoped could bring about meaningful change.
“The ASC is committed to working with our partners in the Australian sporting community to address unacceptable practices of the past, and to ensure they have no place in Australian sport in the future.”
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Sharks are the ocean’s world travellers, swimming thousands of kilometres a year to their favoured locations.
But how do they pull off these impressive feats of navigation without looking out for landmarks?
Sharks swim vast distances, with many returning to the same locations every year
US researchers have found sharks use magnetic fields to orient themselves towards their preferred site
Their magnetic navigation could explain why sharks from the same species are genetically distinct in different locations
A US team has shown that sharks use the Earth’s magnetic fields as a map when making long-distance migrations to specific locations.
The findings are published today in the journal Current Biology.
“Even when they’re far away, the animals know where they are and where to swim to get home,” said study co-author Bryan Keller at Florida State University.
Magnetic map readers?
Many species of sharks, skates and rays travel far and wide in the ocean, with some species returning to the same locations each year.
In 2005, a great white shark called “Nicole” made a record-breaking return trip from South Africa to Australia, swimming over 20,000 kilometres in just nine months.
For half a century, researchers have suspected that sharks are sensitive to magnetic fields, which could be used for navigation.
Other animals like sea turtles, lobsters and newts are known to be magnetically sensitive, but no-one has been able to confirm whether sharks are too.
To find out, Mr Keller and colleagues captured 20 juvenile bonnethead sharks – a small coastal species that return to the same estuaries each year – from off the coast of Florida.
They brought the sharks back to the lab and placed them in holding tanks.
Surrounding the tanks were wooden frames with copper wires running along their edges.
By tweaking the current running through these wires, the researchers were able to recreate the magnetic fields the sharks would experience in three different locations.
When the team adjusted the current to match conditions 600 kilometres south of where the sharks were collected from, they swam in a northward direction, indicating that they were able to read the magnetic field like a map to guide them home.
They also checked what happened when the magnetic field values north of Florida, in the middle of the state of Tennessee, were reproduced.
In this case, the sharks showed no particular swimming preference.
The researchers reasoned this might be because the sharks’ magnetic map-reading abilities were learned from locations they frequent.
Since they would never have experienced a land-based magnetic field before, the animals would not be able to rely on it to navigate.
And when the researchers exposed the sharks to the magnetic field conditions of the site where they were captured from, they didn’t swim in a particular direction as they were already “home”.
“This suggests that sharks have an amazing ability to detect and navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field,” said Nathan Hart, a neurobiologist at Macquarie University who was not involved in the study.
All in the genes
The researchers also wanted to explore whether magnetic fields could help explain another mystery: why sharks from the same species are genetically distinct in different locations?
The team compared mitochondrial genes (passed down from the mother) and nuclear genes (inherited from both parents) in bonnethead sharks from various locations in the northwest Atlantic Ocean.
They also tracked the difference in magnetic field values, sea surface temperatures, and coastal distances between the locations.
It turned out that the magnetic fields across the locations accounted for more variation in the sharks’ mitochondrial DNA than temperature and distance.
This suggests that on an evolutionary scale, females that initially colonised an area may have selected it based on similarities between the magnetic fields of that location and the one they originally came from, Mr Keller said.
This tendency to stick to specific locations means that sharks don’t cross paths with far-flung members of the same species, leading to genetically distinct groups scattered throughout the Atlantic Ocean.
A built-in compass?
While it’s clear that sharks rely on magnetic navigation to cruise the seas, the next step is figuring out how they pick up on these magnetic cues.
Even though there are no shortage of theories on how animals, including sharks, can detect magnetic fields — from the presence of light-sensitive pigments in the eye to tiny crystals of magnetite in the nose and head — scientists are still scratching their heads.
For instance, migratory birds also use the Earth’s magnetic fields to guide their flights paths, but they are only able to pick up on them during the day, suggesting that light plays a role.
However, other animals, such as turtles, are able to read magnetic maps in complete darkness.
“This is definitely still an unsolved mystery in biology,” Professor Hart said.
“Given how many animals detect and orient to the Earth’s magnetic field, it’s an important one to solve.”
Mr Keller said that it would be also interesting to explore whether magnetic fields generated by human activities — such as underwater cables and offshore wind farms — throw off sharks’ sense of direction.
“If a shark is using magnetic navigation to find a target and it detects an anomaly, it could get confused.”
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You do not have to be a Raiders fan to feel joy for recruit Ryan James, who charged his way over the try line in his first NRL match in 693 days.
Ryan James’s last NRL match was in round six, 2019
James was previously the longest serving Titans player, with 144 games across 10 years
The 29-year-old is contracted with the Raiders until the end of the 2022 season
It was an emotional moment for the forward, who considered retirement last year following back-to-back ACL injuries while captaining the Gold Coast Titans.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart praised James’s courage and determination, which helped Canberra claim a 30-12 round one victory over the West Tigers.
“I was just really happy for him that he got through what would have been a pretty nervous day for him, because he’s been a player that’s had some bad luck with a couple of knee reconstructions,” Stuart said.
“It was nice for Ryan James from an individual point of view that he got through an NRL game with his new club.”
The 29-year-old arrived in Canberra ahead of the 2021 pre-season following a 10-year career at the Titans starring in 144 matches.
Unfortunately for James, the final two years of his Titans contract were spent in rehab after suffering his first ACL injury in the early rounds of 2019, before a second at training which saw him miss the entire 2020 season.
Eager to put his best foot at the Raiders, James moved his family earlier than anticipated to ensure he was in good stead by the time the 2021 season rolled around.
“He’s worked extremely hard all off-season. He’s just a real professional,” Stuart said.
“What I admire about Ryan was that him, Anna and the kids, they came to Canberra earlier than he needed to, to get him ready for his season.
“He started training with our under 20s. You visualise and imagine the buzz that our under-20s had with a guy such as his stature in the game — 10 seasons he’s played as an NRL player — and he’s in the gym training with the under-20s, 19s and 18-year-olds.”
Stuart said he had not planned to name the forward in his starting line-up for the round one clash, but he could not look past his work ethic to be ready for a return.
“I don’t know when he was expecting to play NRL but he’s worked his way right through the pre-season into a position to start in the 17 this week,” he said.
The Canberra Raiders hit the road in round two to face the Cronulla Sharks.
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Northern Territory farming and business groups are proposing a second Howard Springs-style quarantine facility outside Darwin, to bring in much-needed overseas workers.
The NT agriculture and hospitality industries say a second quarantine facility near Darwin could help ease the nation’s labour-shortage crisis
The facility, Bladin Village, can accommodate 1,400 people at a time
The Federal Government is considering several quarantine facility proposals, including from Queensland and Victoria
The NT Farmers Association and Hospitality NT want to use Bladin Village — a former detention centre 50 kilometres from Darwin, previously known as Wickham Point — to help bring in foreign workers for industries including agriculture, hospitality and construction.
They say the facility could also be used to quarantine international students who wish to study in Australia.
The Howard Springs quarantine facility, held up as the “gold-standard” for quarantine, is only available for the repatriation of Australians returning from overseas.
NT Farmers CEO Paul Burke said Bladin Village could quickly be made ready for use as a quarantine facility for international workers who could then fill the labour shortage crisis.
“We think there is a real opportunity for all industries to come together to utilise that facility to get the workforce we need,” he said.
“The first thing that anyone in business talks to me about — whether it’s agriculture, hospitality, civil engineering, construction — is [a need for] a workforce.
Mr Burke said Bladin Village was being used by the Australian Defence Force and workers in the gas industry, but that contract would end on July 17, opening up opportunities for other industries.
Village can house 1,400
The facility has the capacity for more than 1,400 people and, under the NT Farmers’ proposal, it would be run by the Federal Government, with states and territories contributing to operational costs.
Industries would pay $2,500 per person for the 14-day quarantine period.
Federal Minister for Employment Stuart Robert, who visited Darwin on Wednesday, did not comment specifically on the Bladin Village proposal, but said the government was considering a number of similar quarantine proposals in Queensland and Victoria.
NT Minister for Agribusiness Nicole Manison said the NT Government’s top priority was running Howard Springs.
“We have a raft of different application processes, where the chief health officer clearly and carefully has a look at these applications to make sure they maintain people in a safe way,” Ms Manison said.
“I am working closely with NT Farmers and the mango industry about getting seasonal workers here, but I want to be clear, it is those countries that we see as not having COVID-19 that we want to work with.”
Hospitality needs 7,000 staff
Hospitality NT is backing the NT Farmers’ proposal for Bladin Village, with CEO Alex Bruce saying he hopes it will help his industry solve a 7,000-worker shortage.
“That is casuals and part-time workers, but the reality is the Territory has always had a workforce shortage in our industry, so we always just make do,” he said.
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Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says the government is reviewing the temporary travel ban to India “every single day”.
Ms Andrews says the government is focused on restarting flights after the ban ends
She has defended the ban, saying it was an appropriate measure given the case numbers from India
The Deputy Prime Minister says Scott Morrison has made it clear no one will be jailed for breaching the ban
The government has come under sustained criticism for implementing the ban, which — for the first time ever — has made it a criminal offence for citizens and permanent residents to return to Australia if they have been in India in the last 14 days.
The temporary ban is due to end on May 15, with the Prime Minister and other senior government ministers saying it is to give quarantine facilities like Howard Springs time for the high number of positive cases to come down.
Ms Andrews said she understood people’s concerns, but that the ban was an “appropriate measure” given the rates of COVID-19 in travellers arriving from India.
“These are temporary measures, we will be reviewing them,” she said.
“Quite frankly, they’re being looked at every single day as we look at what the options are to support the Indian community here in Australia and to do our best for all Australians.
One of the issues flagged by Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly was that there needed to be an improvement in the pre-flight testing system.
All travellers are required to present a negative COVID-19 test before they board a repatriation or commercial flight.
But despite that, people were returning from India and testing positive for the disease.
Health authorities and the government have said Howard Springs’ infection rate reached 15 per cent, seven times higher than the goal of 2 per cent.
Ms Andrews said as well as improving testing systems, one of the other avenues the government was considering was how to deal with travellers from India who were vaccinated.
“How we’re going to know who has been vaccinated, which vaccination they have had, which countries they have come from, whether it will be hotel quarantine when they get here, whether it will be home quarantine — those are all the issues that are being discussed across government,” she said.
‘Nobody’s going to be jailed’
Unlike some of the other travel bans the government has enforced since the beginning of the pandemic — from China and most recently from Papua New Guinea — travelling from India carries with it the threat of five years in jail or a $66,000 fine.
Despite putting out a release late last Friday making clear the potential consequences, senior government ministers including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have now walked back the idea that anyone would face the sanctions.
“Obviously there needs to be a hard line taken as far as the overall [Biosecurity] Act being in place, but nobody’s going to be jailed at this time, the Prime Minister’s made that quite clear,” Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said.
The federal opposition has questioned why, if there was no plan to enforce the sanctions, they were introduced and publicised by the government.
Yesterday, Scott Morrison said it was unlikely anyone would be charged for breaching the ban, and that he expected it to be implemented “proportionately”.
The ban was introduced under the Biosecurity Act, in a determination made by Health Minister Greg Hunt.
In March last year, the Governor-General declared a “human biosecurity emergency” in response to the emerging pandemic, which gave the health minister and government the power to make such emergency determinations to try to keep COVID-19 out of Australia.
But any kind of new rule or offence must abide by certain criteria, including that it is “no more restrictive or intrusive” than it needs to be, and that it is only in place for as long as it is necessary.
Lawyers are preparing to challenge the legality of the ban in court.
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