Protestors in Perth call for change three decades after report into Aboriginal deaths in custody




Attendees called on governments to do more.

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Students call on Australia to let them stay as military guns down protesters in Myanmar


Naw Naw* becomes shaky when she talks about the deadly violence being unleashed in her home of Myanmar.

Activists estimate more than 700 people — some of them children as young as five years old — have been killed since the military seized power in a coup on February 1, deposing de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“Sometimes they kill at night … every age, they kill,” Naw Naw told the ABC.

For now, Naw Naw is safe in Melbourne, studying a diploma of early childhood.

But her time in Australia could be about to run out — her visa is due to expire next month.

As a member of the Kachin ethnic community who has been outspoken about the atrocities back home, she fears what would happen if she were forced to return. 

“I would be arrested too if I must return now,” she said.

She fears if she was detained, she wouldn’t come out alive. 

“Everyone here is in fear of returning at the moment. I really fear for every student.”

Mary Aung, also an international student, echoed those fears at a public hearing on the situation in Myanmar held by the joint standing committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade on Tuesday. 

“There’s a great danger for me if I go back if I go back to Myanmar — I could be arrested on my arrival,” she said.

There are more than 3,500 temporary visa holders from Myanmar in Australia, about half of them students.

Last month, The Australian reported the government was planning to grant visa extensions on humanitarian grounds to Myanmar citizens in Australia on temporary visas.

The report said the Home Affairs and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were working on a policy to be announced in “not weeks, but days” – but no announcement has yet been made.

The latest government figures show that in March, 45 Myanmar citizens applied to the Australian government for protection visas. Thirteen applied in February. 

Some in the Myanmar community have called on the Australian government to follow in the steps of Bob Hawke, who offered asylum to Chinese students in Australia after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

That’s something Naw Naw would like to see too.

“I really want to request the Australian government to take strong and quick action [on] this,” she said.

Members of the Myanmar community criticised Australia’s “slow and ineffective” response to the coup. 

Labor MP Julian Hill said they “deserve better”. 

“Here we are in mid-April, and the best you’ve got is something might happen and it’s not my problem,” he said. 

“It sounds somewhat constipated, shall I say, so I do hope some of these actions can be brought to bear soon so things are unblocked.”

Ridwaan Jadwat, from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, disagreed with that assessment. 

“The government will look at this with a great deal of compassion and make a sensible decision,” he said. 

He said visa extensions are being considered, and when it comes to sanctions, “nothing is off the table”, he added. 

Hugh Jeffrey from Defence warned that sanctioning the military is not a “silver bullet”. 

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First Nations call for increased water ownership of Murray-Darling river system


First Nations groups say it is a national disgrace that almost no water in Australia’s largest river system is owned by Aboriginal people and are calling on the Federal Government to deliver on a 2018 commitment to help traditional owners buy water.

Brendan Kennedy, a Tati Tati man from Victoria and a traditional owner, says governments must act urgently to help First Nations people access water for cultural, spiritual, environmental and economic benefits.

“The state of ownership for traditional owners in the Murray-Darling Basin currently is absolutely disgraceful, it’s deplorable,” Mr Kennedy said.

A recent study by Griffith University reported that less than 1 per cent of the water in the Murray-Darling Basin was owned by Aboriginal Australians.

“Before colonisation we were 100 per cent the owners, the stewards, the managers of water,” Mr Kennedy said.

“The suffering of our people, it relates directly back to the deprivation and the lack of recognition of First Nations people to own our water.

Almost three years ago, the then water minister, David Littleproud, announced $40 million over four years to “allow [Indigenous Australians] to economically participate in water and ensure that they get not only economic, but also cultural outcomes”.

It was announced as part of a deal with Labor to secure the opposition’s support against a disallowance motion, that would have seen more water recovered for the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt has told the ABC in a statement that the funding must “deliver real jobs and generate economic activity for Indigenous people across the Murray-Darling Basin”.

“Our government remains committed to work with Indigenous organisations to build consensus about the way forward,” the statement said.

The statement did not address the ABC’s question about whether the funding could be used for non-water assets.

Chair of the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations Fred Hooper called on Mr Pitt to rule out spending the money on anything other than water.

He estimated that $40 million would provide enough funding to buy about 6 gigalitres of water “on the best day” and acknowledged it would need to be shared among almost 50 First Nations groups throughout the Murray-Darling river system.

He called on the government to provide some certainty about how and when the funding would be distributed.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment said since the funding for First Nations water had been announced there “has been wide-ranging consultation with many Indigenous peak organisations” — but would not specify which organisations.

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‘It’s crazy’: Eastwood coach slams call to hand Donaldson Waratahs No.10 jersey


“It’s a real bitter pill for me to swallow as his coach. What does he have to do to get the starting jersey?

“It’s crazy. The Waratahs dig their own grave sometimes. They’ve only got themselves to blame for certain things.”

Following Rob Penney’s departure, interim coaches Chris Whitaker and Jason Gilmore are in charge of picking the team. The Waratahs have two regular season matches remaining.

Eastwood and Waratahs playmaker Tane Edmed. Credit:Rhett Wyman

Donaldson played under Gilmore at the 2019 under-20 world championships, where Australia lost 24-23 to France in the final. Harrison was the team’s starting No.10, however Donaldson did play there in the semi-final but was used mostly off the bench.

Donaldson has been touted for a number of years as a player of promise and NSW may be simply experimenting with him at No.10 given their Super Rugby AU season is all but over. He was a regular bench player for the Waratahs last season as a back-up option to Harrison.

Ironically Edmed, 20, left Randwick to take up an opportunity with Eastwood because he was behind Harrison and Donaldson in the pecking order at club level.

“They’re clearly not rewarding Shute Shield form at all, which is disappointing for us in club land,” Batger said.

“I’m sick of everyone talking up that great 2019 under-20s team. They made one finals appearance and they sunk a hell of a lot of resources into that tournament. They still were only runners up. I played in the 2005 team that was runners up and I think all 15 of us were playing Super Rugby at that time. They seem to be getting a saloon passage everywhere in Australian rugby. Their breeding ground is right at their doorstep and they’re not honouring it.

“From the outside looking in, there appears to be no rhyme or reason to rush a guy in. If it was an experienced campaigner, say a Jono Lance, you completely understand. They can’t say it’s an experience thing. I would dare suggest Tane has played more senior games against men than Ben Donaldson. They can’t use form because Donaldson hasn’t been playing. They can’t use runs on the board; he doesn’t have any.”

Batger even took aim at the Galloping Greens, suggesting they were being given preferential treatment.

“If these guys are all so good, no one has got a chance of winning the Shute Shield at the back end of the year because Randwick have a mortgage,” Batger said. “They have brought in Mitch Short from Randwick, Will Harrison, Ben Donaldson, Izaia Perese and James Ramm. From the outside looking in, it certainly does seem to help if you have a green jersey on your back.”

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Edmed is understood to have taken the news in his stride but so incensed is Batger that he threw up the idea of the prodigious youngster looking to take his talents elsewhere.

“I’d be telling him to look at options,” Batger said. “If you’re the third-choice five-eighth … he could potentially look at being a first-choice five-eighth [elsewhere]. The Force is one to look at. You could almost build a franchise around Tane, in my opinion. That’s how highly I regard him.”

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Roosters brothers Brett and Josh Morris could part ways in retirement call


“Being an older guy people always ask you about [retirement]” Morris said. “It helps when you’re winning, as well as when you pull up sweet from games.

“But there’s also other external factors, the kids are getting a lot older now and they’re starting to do a lot more things outside of football that I want to be a part of as well. There are all those other factors that contribute to whether you go around again or not.”

The Morris brothers both signed a one-year contract extension at the end of the 2020 season and are off-contract at the end of the year. Credit:Getty

Josh was hopefully the club would allow them to play on until 36 if they had the desire to play in 2022.

“If we want to continue hopefully the Roosters have it,” Josh said.

“My body feels pretty good at the moment.”

One of the major factors in the Morris brothers being eager to remain in the game is the youngsters coming through.

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For Brett, the experience he can offer players like Sam Walker continues to be invaluable.

The Roosters will come up against the Storm on Friday and it will be the 18-year-old’s biggest test yet. The teenager has pulled on the no. 7 jersey over the past two weeks to replace Luke Keary, who will remain on the sidelines for the rest of the year with an ACL injury.

“It’s funny – someone showed me a thing the other day that said I played against his old boy and now I’m playing with him, so that made me feel really old,” said Brett.

“But those [young] guys, they’re great to have around the club, they’re always wanting to learn. They’re always asking questions,” he said. “We want them to keep building and keep learning.”

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Parents call for nationwide screening for deadly muscle-wasting Spinal Muscular Atrophy


Oakley Gough is not the first baby to miss out on a newborn health test that could have prolonged her life, but her parents hope she will be the last.

Six-month-old Oakley was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) at eight weeks old when she lost the ability to breast or bottle feed and was fitted with a nasogastric tube.

SMA is the childhood version of Motor Neurone Disease and, over time, results in the muscles wasting away.

Babies diagnosed with SMA Type 1 (Oakley’s classification) are given a life expectancy of two years, or less than six months without treatment.

Kate and Grant Gough already had a healthy two-year-old daughter when Oakley was born and had no idea they carried a gene that could result in their second child having SMA.

“We had never heard of SMA, we had no family history, we had no idea what to look for,” Ms Gough said.

Screening for SMA has been trialled as part of the routine newborn heel-prick test for the past two years in New South Wales and the ACT, but not in Queensland where Oakley was born.

The approximate cost of the test is $10.

If detected at the newborn stage, SMA can be treated with medication that slows progression of the disease.

However, once damage occurs it cannot be reversed and babies like Oakley rapidly lose mobility, including the ability to breathe or swallow.

“If Oakley had that test she would still be able to breastfeed, breathe without support, and she’d be meeting all of her milestones,” Ms Gough said.

She said the situation was particularly tough to deal with, as the Goughs were originally from Lismore in northern New South Wales.

“We’re from New South Wales through and through, so it’s devastating to think we could have been just a few hours’ south and things could have been so different,” Ms Gough said.

A Queensland Health spokesperson issued a statement saying:

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath also confirmed a Queensland trial was under “active consideration”.

“I have become aware of that in the past couple of days and I do think it is worth us at least exploring,” she said.

The Goughs are now dedicated to raising awareness of SMA and campaigning for routine newborn screening to be standard practice nation wide.

“A lot of people have been advocating for a lot of years for this to change, so we’re not pretending to be the first people who have done this but we really hope we’re the last,” Ms Gough said.

“It’s not OK that this has continued to happen for so long when the treatment exists.”

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‘Hasn’t had any control’: Shaun Johnson stunned by Sharks’ John Morris call


Sharks star Shaun Johnson said he was “disappointed’ by the bombshell reports John Morris was set to be sacked by Cronulla.

The Daily Telegraph first reported Morris was a dead man walking after the Sharks’ loss to the Roosters on Saturday, with news progressing on Sunday that Roosters assistant Craig Fitzgibbon had agreed to terms with the club.

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It’s expected that Fitzgibbon will see out the season with the Roosters before joining the Sharks for the 2022 season.

While not entirely unexpected with pressure on Morris throughout the 2020 season and leading into 2021.

But the coach has been widely praised for taking a weaker roster on paper to the finals in the past two seasons, appearing to bat above his average with the club after being thrust into the position after Shane Flanagan was banned from coaching before the 2019 season.

The Telegraph spoke to Morris revealing “As Morris was leaving the SCG, his wife rang in tears about the news breaking in The Sunday Telegraph and on Fox Sports … that the club had approached Sydney Roosters assistant Craig Fitzgibbon to replace him”.

But he also did his match review until 4am and was in the office on his day off.

“I don’t intend going down without a fight.” Morris told The Daily Telegraph, “I love this club and my commitment and work ethic will remain strong.

“The constant speculation around my job hasn’t been pleasant but I’ve had unbelievable support from the members and fans.”

One of the big reasons given around Morris being moved on was the talent coming off contract at the end of the season as well as a battle over money.

Despite being the lowest paid coach in the NRL, Morris’ manager was looking for an upgrade from his $350,000 deal, which The Telegraph reported started the problems with management.

Under Morris, 12 rookies have debuted and Morris has not been able to dip his toe into the play market.

It’s something that off-contract star Shaun Johnson said was disappointing, especially when Morris “hasn’t had any control over the roster”.

“I think everyone that’s aware of the situation would definitely be feeling the same about it,” the injured playmaker said on Fox League’s Sunday Night with Matty Johns.

“I look at the facts, bro. I don’t know how you can have a coach who has been thrown in at the deep end right at the start. He had to take over a difficult situation at the star with Flanagan leaving.

“He’s gone after it, taken the side to the finals the last couple of years and finds himself in the position he is now. It’s disappointing, certainly disappointing.”

As for Johnson’s belief over whether he might stick around as an assistant next season, he said Morris had proven himself in the top job.

“If I was at the club next year I’d love Bomber [Morris] to be around,” he said. “For me personally, he has definitely brought a better version of myself out.

“Coming over from New Zealand, what I got with Bomber was someone who believed in me and he pushed me every day.

“We would have open conversations, it’s selfish of me saying he should stay on in any capacity, but I think he’s beyond that.

“He hasn’t had any control over the roster, he’s been in a situation where our cap has been shot the last couple of years and he’s made do with what he’s got.

“He’s got us all on board, so I genuinely can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Johns even pointed to the demotion of forward Andrew Fifita, who Morris dropped before the season.

He said it showed Morris was ready for the role as all the players played for the coach, despite getting in hot water over an ugly reserve grade tackle.

“On Andrew, he’s been unreal, he’s such a key figure around our group and he’s shown everyone else it’s team first,” Johnson added.

“You get dealt a situation like he’s in at the moment and he’s trying to make the most of it.

“With Bomber, he’s turned up and done the same.”

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Sydney Swans vs Essendon Bombers, Tom Hickey holding the ball, umpiring call


Sydney Swans’ thrilling three-point victory over the Essendon Bombers on Thursday evening has been marred by a late umpiring controversy.

The round four match featured a tightly-contested arm wrestle throughout the second half, which set up a nailbiting climax at the SCG.

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Sydney was ahead by three points with less than one minute remaining on the clock when Tom Hickey caught a boundary throw near Essendon’s defensive 50.

The Swans ruckman took a couple of steps looking to handball before he was tackled by Bombers young gun Nik Cox, but the umpires believed Hickey did not have prior opportunity, and proceeded with a ball-up.

Several AFL fans voiced their frustration on social media, arguing that Essendon should have been awarded a free kick because Hickey had run a few metres before he was tackled.

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Speaking on Fox Footy’s First Crack, AFL reporter Tom Morris argued: “I think it’s holding the ball.

“If you get tackled straight away, fair enough. But he takes it out of the rough, takes a couple of steps, and had a chance to handball.”

Three-time All-Australian Gerard Healy disagreed: “I’ve always been of the view that you should reward the ball winner.

“To me, he’s had one-and-a-half steps, he’s been tackled pretty much straight away. I would have said play on.”

St Kilda great Leigh Montagna elaborated: “We don’t want to reward the tacklers. We don’t want to reward the negative play.”

Speaking to reporters after the match, Essendon coach Ben Rutten said he did not see the incident.

The decision would have gone unnoticed if it occurred earlier in the match, but every moment in the closing passages of a thriller inevitably comes under heavy scrutiny.

Regardless, the undefeated Swans secured a fourth consecutive victory to push their case as genuine finals contenders.

Sydney is the fifth team since 2017 to win their opening four games of the season — the other four all qualified for the preliminary finals.

The Swans will enjoy a nine-day break before facing the GWS Giants at the SCG on Saturday, April 17.

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Support services call for repeat funds to help manage increased rates of family and domestic violence



Peak bodies for women’s refuges and other support services say special funding to address a spike in domestic violence needs to be repeated.

Specialist women’s safety services and women’s refuges will have to cut staff and support without another $150 million in special funding, peak bodies in NSW and Queensland say.

More than 15 organisations on Wednesday called on the federal, state and territory governments to repeat the cash injection that addressed the spike in domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We cannot wait for the commencement of the next national plan to provide critical safety and support to those Australian women (cis and trans), children and families who need our help now,” the NSW Women’s Alliance says.

Ending Violence Against Women Queensland President Emma Iwinska said: “All service sectors across Queensland have been inundated, with women seeking support and are struggling to keep up with demand even with COVID funding.”

Federal, state and territory ministers responsible for women’s safety will meet on Wednesday to discuss the replacement of the nation’s first domestic violence national plan, which is due to expire in 2022.

The meeting will be co-chaired by federal Minister for Women Marise Payne and federal Women’s Safety Minister Anne Rushton.

A federal parliamentary committee’s bipartisan report last week said the economic cost of violence against women and their children in Australia is estimated at $26 billion each year.

“Billions of dollars in pandemic support was given to corporations who reported huge profits. Surely the safety of women and children should not be allowed to be reduced, at a fraction of that cost,” White Ribbon Australia executive director Brad Chilcott said on Wednesday.

Queensland service providers said last year’s funding injection had helped address chronic and historical underfunding of the sector.

But demand was already rising before the pandemic and the complexities associated with supporting women, children and families had only amplified since the pandemic.

NSW frontline organisation reported their busiest year on record, with no signs of the need slowing.

Demand for a court advocacy service for NSW domestic violence victims rose 35 per cent last year, or an extra 73,000 calls for help.

“We don’t have time to waste or wait. This remains a national emergency,” Domestic Violence NSW chief executive Delia Donovan said.

“Solutions have been provided for years. They are simply not committed to or invested in. Less talk, more action please.”

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Uneasy viewers call out Channel 7 commentators for awful reaction to star’s dirty act


Kyle Hartigan has come under fire for an ugly swipe on Tom Hawkins that gifted Geelong a goal late in the first half of its Easter Monday clash against Hawthorn — while Channel 7 commentators also received stinging criticism.

Joel Selwood picked out Hawkins on the lead inside forward 50 at the MCG but Hartigan whacked the Cats star across the head with a late, swinging arm.

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Hawkins got up rubbing his head and the umpire had no hesitation awarding Geelong a 50m penalty, allowing Hawkins to easily slot the final major of the half and extend the Cats’ halftime lead to 17.

Hartigan argued with the official but there was no denying he was in the wrong, as he wasn’t even close to spoiling.

Seven commentators Brian Taylor and James Brayshaw didn’t sound overly concerned with the blow to the head.

“The lead from Hawkins was perfect, and then Hartigan just giving him an old feather duster to the back of the ear,” Taylor said. “That’s old school. Bang!”

Brayshaw then referenced AFL legend Danny Frawley, who died in a car crash in 2019.

“That’s our great mate Spud Frawley, isn’t it? He will be watching down from above, thinking, ‘That’s all you’ve got to do’. Make them earn it.”

Taylor listed several great fullbacks from days gone by and said “that’s the way they operated”.

That commentary — and the reference to Frawley, who after his death was diagnosed with CTE as a result of brain trauma, from head knocks during his footy career — didn’t sit well with some viewers.

Concussion is being taken more seriously than ever, and Seven’s commentary was seen by some as trivialising the blow to Hawkins’ head.

Journalist Brendan Casey tweeted: “Wasn’t a good look listening to the Channel 7 commentators complimenting Hartigan for bit of old fashioned play either.

“Sensitive issue of concussions and commentary team calling it ‘the ol’ feather duster’.”

Josh Elliott wrote on social media: “If we want to be serious about concussion, commentators need to handle this kind of thing a lot better than in the below. Danny Frawley had stage two CTE when he died.”

Sports reporter Oliver Caffrey said: “Exactly what (Danny Frawley’s wife) Anita Frawley has been pleading for commentators to stop doing. The message still not getting through.”

Footy journalist Rohan Connolly was no fan of Hartigan’s ugly foul.

“Someone tell Kyle Hartigan it’s 2021, not 1981. Can’t do that sort of garbage anymore mate,” he tweeted.

Frawley’s wife Anita recently opened up about the traumatic impact of Danny’s death, explaining the pain she and her family continues to feel.

She is determined to make footy as safe as possible and change attitudes around toughness in the sport.

“I want to make it safe. I don’t want my daughters’ daughters’ sons going to play football and having to worry about if they’re going to be looked after properly,” she told Damian Barrett on his In the Game podcast.

“The AFL are trying, they’re starting, but there’s still a long way to go.

“Football back in Danny’s day, it was all known about toughness … that was such a part of the game. It’s not anymore.

“These boys are so athletic, so skilful … let’s focus on that, let’s change the way they talk about the players.

“‘Oh he’s so brave backing into a pack and nearly getting killed’. No. We don’t want to make that something great. It’s dangerous. You don’t know the untold damage that’s being done so let’s change a few things.

“The players have to want to change it was well … look after your brain.”

Anita has done lots of research on CTE since the footy icon’s death and believes suffering from CTE contributed to Danny’s mental health issues before his death.

“You think of the pain that Danny must have been in to take that step and I have discussed with you I believe a lot of that was the CTE, the rash decision making,” Anita said.

“But for him to be in that state, there is no way he would do that, and know the hurt and the pain that he would cause his girls, his mum, his family, his mates, it is just unfeasible that he would do that.

“If he could see now the pain that is left, the ripple effect, families destroyed, it is just so cruel and so hard. I see his mum and the terrible suffering she is going through.

“I don’t know how to explain it – it is so painful for them what they are going through, but the pain that is left behind is a lifetime of pain. It is there for the rest of your life, it is for me.”

Last weekend St Kilda and Melbourne played Spud’s Game: Time 2 Talk, an initiative which aims to tackle mental health issues within the AFL community and encourage people to speak up, seek help and look after one another.

It led to spine-tingling scenes at Marvel Stadium as Frawley’s family and friends gathered to celebrate his legacy.

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