Survivor seeks apology and demands Federal Government action over abuse claims at Retta Dixon Home in Darwin


It is not easy for Frank Spry to talk about what happened to him at the Retta Dixon Home in Darwin decades ago.

“I was in there from when I was seven until I was just under 18,” he said about the institution that was supposed to care for children.

“There was abuse … physical, mental, sexual.”

Mr Spry is now 69 years old.

He has been a teacher, a musician and a vocal advocate for people from the Stolen Generations.

But when he looks back at his life, it is clear to him what happened at Retta Dixon had a major impact.

“There were times where I basically wanted to commit suicide,” he said.

“I’ve not gone that far, but there were occasions where I felt really deeply hurt by what happened to me.”

In an attempt to seek redress for what he says occurred at the facility, Mr Spry made an application to the National Redress Scheme [NRS] for people who have experienced institutional child abuse.

He was shocked this week to learn that that application has hit major hurdles.

The Retta Dixon Home facility housed mainly Aboriginal children, including many Stolen Generation children.(Credit: Royal Commisson into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse)

The organisation which ran the Retta Dixon Home, Australian Indigenous Ministries [AIM], has been barred from participating in the scheme by the Federal Government, which says the church group does not have the money to pay out potential claimants.

On top of that, no “funder of last resort” has been identified for the Retta Dixon Home survivors, meaning no state, territory or federal government has stepped up to guarantee that any compensation payments ordered through the scheme are fulfilled.

It has left people like Mr Spry in administrative limbo, with no guarantee the National Redress Scheme will deliver compensation or acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

“Some of those people have passed on”

An unidentified girl sits in the dormitory of Darwin's Retta Dixon Home in 1958.
A dormitory in Darwin’s Retta Dixon Home in 1958.(National Archives)

The ABC has asked the Federal Government if it will step in as the funder of last resort for people in Mr Spry’s position, of which there are at least 10.

The Department of Social Services said a decision regarding this would be discussed at a NRS governance board meeting this year.

“The scheme continues to actively explore options, including with state and territory governments, for expanded funder of last resort arrangements,” the department said in a statement.

It suggested a two-year review of the scheme, which is due in the first quarter of this year, could deliver changes to how the funder of last resort provision could be applied.

“Any changes from this review will be considered by the state and territory ministers, who are also required to give approval to substantive redress changes,” it said.

Northern Territory's Retta Dixon Home
Frank Spry is demanding an apology from the operator of Retta Dixon Home.(National Archives of Australia)

For Mr Spry, who previously received some compensation from a 2017 class action regarding Retta Dixon Home, accessing the full amount of compensation he may be entitled to under the law is important.

But equally pressing for him is a desire to have his story acknowledged.

It is for this reason he is asking AIM to apologise to him and others who might be in his situation.

“They must wear it and take it on the chin.”

The church group, which rebranded from Aborigines Inland Mission in 1998, maintains that it did all it could to join the National Redress Scheme.

In a statement, AIM said it would like to find ways to meaningfully apologise to Mr Spry and any others in comparable situations.

“We would like to explore with them how they would like to have us make a relevant apology,” AIM’s acting general director Cliff Letcher said.

Frank Spry stands with his hands on his hips as he looks ahead with several trees in the background.
Frank Spry recalls harrowing times at the Retta Dixon Home, where he spent most of his childhood.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Mr Spry is yet to respond to AIM’s offer but given the Federal Government has decided to allow AIM to stay off the scheme, he believes the onus is now on it to help people like him find justice.

“If they’ve said to AIM and Retta Dixon Home: ‘Because you don’t have enough money, you can cop out of it’, then the Federal Government needs to be [the] owner of this,” he said.

“Own what happened to these little children, to us, in this institution.”

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Universal credit: Labour presses PM for action ahead of benefit vote



Labour says the PM should give millions a helping hand by extending the £20 universal credit uplift.

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AFL 2021: Hannah Mouncey, transgender footballer, legal action against AFL, wants to play local footy, trans rights, latest news


Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey is planning legal action against the AFL and its Gender Diversity Policy in an attempt to play top-level local footy in Canberra.

Mouncey was not allowed to enter the AFLW draft in 2017, but was permitted to play at VFLW level. She now says she has no desire to play at AFLW level and is seeking to play at first-grade level in the ACT.

On Friday night, Mouncey confirmed she will begin legal proceedings – unless the issue can be resolved – based on her concerns around the AFL’s new policy revealed last October.

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Round 1

The three requirements in the new policy are:

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Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey set to take legal action against the AFL in bid to play for Ainslie in Canberra


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“There are certain questions that need to be answered before anyone would go through any sort of process,” Mouncey said.

Her questions relate to the transparency of the process, how the information and data will be used and who might sit on the AFL gender diversity policy committee which is to be used to resolve disputes under the policy.

Mouncey told The Age on Saturday she made her intention to take legal action public after receiving what she considered an unsatisfactory response from the league on Friday afternoon, with the legal action to be submitted in Canberra if a resolution is not reached.

Under the policy transgender athletes can make applications to play in the elite competitions including AFLW and state league competitions for the AFL’s Gender Diversity Committee to consider.

The AFL outlined in October’s policy that the committee considering applications would be drawn from representatives with skills in women’s football operations; inclusion and social policy; risk; legal; medicine and mental health; and anti-doping rules.

If an application is rejected it remains confidential unless the applicant makes the decision public and applicants can have decisions reviewed within seven days if a cause for review is proved.

Under the AFL’s gender diversity policy applicants need to fulfil three criteria to be declared eligible to play in elite competitions.

The three requirements are:

1. Testosterone levels to have been at or below five nmol/L for at least two years prior.
2. If that threshold is met, trans women and non-binary people may nominate for the AFLW draft or apply to play in other elite competitions by providing information regarding their height, weight, bench press, 20-metre sprint, vertical jump, GPS data and two-kilometre time trial.
3. If the application is approved, the player is required to maintain their total testosterone levels below five nmol/L, and may be required to undergo periodic testing.

The League can also assess safety issues that may be relevant.

Mouncey said if the matters she raised were addressed she would be prepared to submit an application although she questioned why information such as bench press, 20m sprints and vertical jumps were necessary to inform decisions.

She claimed the AFL’s approach has been legalistic rather than appearing open to a resolution.

“I’m happy to mediate with them, I am happy to talk through them what the issues are. I am happy to go through the process but they have never done it in good faith,” Mouncey said.

The AFL was contacted for comment. AFL Canberra’s first-grade women’s competition is due to start in May.

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Anti-COVID restrictions class action lawyer goes off script, ‘It we need to shed blood so be it’


She is also representing Jenny D’Ubios, who escaped hotel quarantine in Perth on Boxing Day after claiming that her detention was a violation of her human rights and based on a virus that did not exist. Ms D’Ubios was put into a maximum-security prison after police found out that Ms Teffaha had mistakenly given the wrong address in her bail application.

Ms Teffaha appeared at a rally in Broadmeadows on December 6 to prosecute her argument against coronavirus restrictions, with a speech that described bureaucrats as “liars”, judges as “corrupt” and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as “the most terrorist organisation”. She also said there was no need to wear masks at a time they were mandatory in numerous settings in Victoria.

“This is gaslighting,” she said.

“This is abusive behaviour. This is not on and we will call them out and if these judges are going to be corrupt we will call the judges on it.

Class action lawyer Serene Teffaha has raised more than $500,000.

“We will keep calling them all out until there’s a revolution on the streets and if we need to shed blood for peace, then so be it.”

Ms Teffaha was previously a senior lawyer with the Australian Taxation Office but left after lodging a whistleblower complaint and subsequently sued the ATO.

She said she has more than 2000 clients, each of whom must give a minimum upfront payment of $250. The money was being held in a trust, she said, and she had not yet paid herself for her work.

However, she said she was not required to hold in trust monies donated by people who had not signed a costs agreement.

Ms Teffaha has drawn the attention of anti-scamming activists including “Lucky Lance” Simon, a convicted criminal-cum-comedian married to Melbourne gangland lawyer Zarah Garde-Wilson, whose early scepticism about some coronavirus claims has been replaced by a crusade against those who seek to profit from it.

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Mr Simon started by skewering the anti-coronavirus groups who sought to enlist his support, including the libertarian Facebook group Reignite Democracy Australia and right-wing activist Avi Yemeni, who has raised close to $500,000 through crowdfunding for a constitutional challenge against the lockdown.

He encouraged his followers to report Mr Yemeni to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for deceptive and misleading conduct. Mr Yemeni reported Mr Simon to the police for making a death threat against him in a comedy skit. The matter was thrown out. No action has been taken against Mr Yemeni regarding his fundraising.

Mr Simon said he had been contacted by many people who had donated to Ms Teffaha’s class action and were concerned that nothing had happened yet. The rally footage has been sent to the Victorian Legal Services Board.

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“Nothing she says makes sense, but she’s a champion of the people because she’s a lawyer,” he said. “If someone like Serene Teffaha calls lawyers corrupt, people believe her and there’s a huge attitude in society that the judges are all against us and I don’t think that’s helpful.”

The Legal Services Board is prevented under the legislation from confirming whether a complaint has been received.

Ms Teffaha said she planned to file the “detention towers” class action this week, followed by the national class action and a COVID-19 vaccine challenge once it had been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

She said her use of the term “blood on the streets” was not meant to be taken literally, but referred to the expression coined by Baron Rothschild and intended as a plea for people to go against the crowd.

“My speech was a protest speech and was impassioned, which is not my usual demeanour,” she said.

“I was not referring to all judges as corrupt but specifically the Family Court of Australia has many corruption issues with people taking children and forcing them to go with the perpetrator parent — I am doing an action on that.”

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AUS vs IND, 3rd Test: Kumar Sangakkara Asks For “Stern Action” After Racism Rown In Sydney





Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) president and former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara on Monday strongly condemned the racial slurs faced by India pacers Mohammad Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah during the Pink Test and demanded stern action against the offenders. The Indian team on Saturday had lodged an official complaint after the crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground racially abused pacers Bumrah and Siraj over the second and third day of the Sydney Test. Siraj had to face the brunt of unruly crowds even on the fourth day.

Sangakkara said those responsible for the act should be strongly punished. The former wicket-keeper batsman also said he was very fortunate that he never faced any kind of racial abuse while playing against any team in any country during his career.

“I did read about what happened with the crowd and the Indian team in the last couple of days. Racism in any country in any manner has to be decried and has to be condemned and those responsible should be strongly punished and stern action should be taken against them,” said Sangakkara while replying to a query from ANI.

“During my time I was fortunate that I never came across any kind of racial abuse. I can’t speak on behalf of other Sri Lankan cricketers but I personally have not been victimised in terms of racial slurs and racial abuse and that’s true for every country I have toured,” he added.

Last year in June, Sangakkara, who will seen mentoring Team Abu Dhabi in the upcoming T10 league, had voiced his support for the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

The former Sri Lankan skipper had said activism happening in the USA against systemic racism is a lesson for everyone worldwide and added that a state cannot determine the sensibilities of any citizen.

In a series of tweets, Sangakkara had said that the state can never determine the wisdom and compassion of any citizen and he also said that the citizens should choose their representatives more carefully.

“The activism in America against systemic racism and injustice is a powerful lesson to us all. Whichever country we live in, be it America, Sri Lanka, or another, it is not the State that should determine our sensibilities and sensitivities. That’s your choice and mine,” Sangakkara tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Sydney crowd did not stop on day four of the ongoing Pink Test as Siraj along with skipper Ajinkya Rahane had a word with umpire Paul Reiffel regarding the unruly behaviour of the crowd on Sunday.

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Visuals on television indicated that there were some words spoken for Siraj who was fielding near the boundary rope. Both the umpires then had a word with each other and the police then asked a group of men to leave the stand.

The third Test of the four-match series between India and Australia ended as a draw on Monday. Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari batted out 258 balls to help India walk away with a draw and head into the final Test at the Gabba, with the series level at 1-1.

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Bozell: Social media giants ‘canceling conservatives,’ antitrust action needed


Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell called for antitrust action against Big Tech for “canceling conservatives” after Amazon, Apple and Google took action against Parler, an alternative social media app drawing conservative users.

CONSERVATIVES FLEE TO PARLER FOLLOWING TWITTER’S PERMANENT SUSPENSION OF TRUMP

“Big tech is doing what we were all told was a crazy conspiracy, canceling conservatives. Now they’re after [Parler]. Don’t let them win! Join me there @brentbozell,” Bozell wrote on Twitter Saturday.

“BigTech has declared war not just on the right but on the American ideal of freedom. Apple, Google and Amazon are dangerous monopolies and must be smashed. Deluge them with calls and emails,” he continued.

Bozell’s comments come after all of Big Tech appeared to come together to block President Trump following Wednesday’s sacking of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will be blocked “indefinitely” and for at least the next two weeks before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. 

In this Oct. 25, 2019 photo Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Paley Center in New York.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Twitter announced the permanent suspension of Trump’s account Friday, following months of flagging his tweets with warnings. The social media company said the president was spreading disinformation that could incite further violence.

Parler was crippled after Amazon, Apple and Google booted it from their platforms, citing numerous posts that they say incite violence. Amazon said in a statement that Parler lacks sufficient controls on violent content.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere slammed the social media crackdown that has gained steam since the Capitol riot.

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“It is indisputable that nobody has been more successful at using digital media than President Trump to communicate directly with the American people, but it’s incredibly ironic, yet not surprising, that when the President spoke to the country at a critical time Big Tech chose to censor and block him from doing so,” Deere told Fox News. “Big Tech is out of control.”

Fox News’ Michael Ruiz and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.



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OAN Call to Action: How to Donate to Lawmakers Who Stayed True to President Trump



Sen. Josh Hawley:

https://secure.winred.com/josh-hawley-for-senate/support-today

 

Sen. Ted Cruz:

https://secure.anedot.com/tedcruz/pg-tedcruzorg?_ga=2.30887231.1432881635.1610142625-1642638184.1610142625

 

Sen. Matt Gaetz:

https://gaetzforcongress.revv.co/donate

 

Rep. Louie Gohmert:

 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene:

https://secure.winred.com/marjorie-greene-for-congress/donate

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Mining company faces $5 million legal action



WA mining exploration company Cockatoo Iron is facing legal action for allegedly failing to repay almost $5 million in loans.

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Call for urgent action to prevent further dieback of Adelaide’s St Kilda mangroves


Environmentalists are calling for urgent action to prevent further dieback of a popular mangrove forest north of Adelaide, saying extremely salty water is killing the sensitive plants.

About 10 hectares of mangrove forest adjacent to the St Kilda Mangrove Trail died within two months last year, along with 35 hectares of salt marsh, and the gardens of about half a dozen houses.

Nearby brine ponds, mined for salt by company Buckland Dry Creek, are believed to be leaking hypersaline water into the mangrove ecosystem — threatening not only their existence, but that of several fish and migratory bird species.

Environmental consultant Peri Coleman is calling for excess brine in the ponds to be pumped out immediately before it solidified and could not be moved.

“The brine in the ponds is now well over 10 times saltier than seawater.

“South of St Kilda, the brine is already crystalising, and you can’t move crystalising brine through pipes and ponds.”

The mangroves are dying due to hypersaline water leaking into surrounding marshlands.(Supplied: Alex Mausolf)

Ms Coleman said she believed the dieback was caused by the refilling of gypsum ponds with hypersaline brine at the nearby Dry Creek salt field, about 20 kilometres north of Adelaide’s CBD.

She said the ponds had been empty since 2014, causing their gypsum lining to dry out and crack.

“Once the brine was filled back up into those ponds, it immediately started to seep out and took the acid and the hypersaline brine with it into the mangroves and salt marsh area,” she said.

Company slow in following order

In September 2020, 10 hectares of the mangrove forest and 35 hectares of saltbush adjacent to the St Kilda Mangrove Trail died, prompting an investigation by several Government departments.

On Christmas Eve, the State Government issued the company a direction to remove as much brine from the ponds as reasonably practical.

Conservation Council SA chief executive Craig Wilkins said that had not yet happened.

“What we’re really calling for … is for the company and the Government to step up their pace and make sure they stop playing catch up, because this snowball which is already a problem before Christmas is now turning into an avalanche.”

When contacted, Buckland Dry Creek director Petar Jurkovic declined to comment.

Bar-tailed Godwits
Bar-tailed godwits are among the birds in the mangroves along the Barker Inlet.(Supplied: Chris Purnell, Birdlife Australia)

Removing brine ‘incredibly tricky’

Environment Minister David Speirs described the issues facing the mangrove forest as “the most complicated environmental matter I’ve ever come across since being Environment Minister”.

“We are talking about 35km of saltpans that work together; the pumps need to be in the right place, and that’s an engineering feat in itself.”

Mr Speirs said Buckland Dry Creek had been “quite cooperative” with the Government’s direction, and both parties were working together to fix the issue as quickly as possible.

“But because of this interconnected system, if you change one area to try to fix things there, you might actually trigger environmental detriment elsewhere,” he said.

“This is incredibly tricky.”

Dead mangroves beside a boardwalk
The boardwalk as seen from the air.(Twitter: Peri Coleman)

Opposition environment spokeswoman Susan Close said the series of events that had put the St Kilda mangroves under threat was due to the actions of the Government.

“What we understand about the pumping plan is that it was allowed by the Government, and that it’s had a terrible impact on the mangroves,” she said.

Mr Speirs said he believed Buckland Dry Creek’s decision to reinstate the dried-up salt pans had been properly reviewed by his department.

“I believe the sufficient environmental checks and balances were taken into account,” he said.

“Previous activity has been reinstated — in the past it hasn’t caused issues, but this time, for whatever reason, it has resulted in hypersaline water affecting the mangroves.”

Dead mangroves in brown water
The mangroves are an important habitat for birds and fish.(Supplied: Save the Mangroves)

Dr Close said the community deserved to know whether the mangroves could be saved, and what action the Government was taking to that end.

“I am trying to do everything I can; I’m working with the company, the mining department, the scientists, to get this fixed,” Mr Speirs said.

“Is it easy? No. Will more mangroves die off in the coming weeks? I think so… but I’m hoping not much more.”

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