Ngaree Blow emerges as an Indigenous champion who can help right the wrongs of inequality


When she was growing up, Ngaree Blow used to read statistics about the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and wonder, “does that mean I’m going to die early?”

The figures showed First Nations people had, on average, had a significantly lower life expectancy than the rest of the population.

They showed increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, renal disease and host of other health issues.

“That’s where my passion led to uncovering what those statistics actually mean, and how that links into our knowledge and understanding of health and wellbeing as Aboriginal people,” Dr Blow said.

Dr Blow has emerged as a prominent Indigenous health advocate in the years since completing her medical degree.

She is the director of First Nations health at the University of Melbourne’s medical school, a board member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and was previously a researcher at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

The Noonuccal, Yorta-Yorta​ woman is a niece of late Victorian elders Reg and Walda Blow, and her father Gene is also an elder in Queensland’s Moreton Bay region.

Dr Blow believes the health challenges facing First Nations people are linked to inequalities in other areas, such as the justice, education and housing systems.

“By improving the health and wellbeing of our First Nations people, it will have positive flow-on effects for the rest of the country,” she said.

Indigenous communities have managed to stave off COVID-19

There have been no major COVID-19 outbreaks in remote Indigenous communities, however most Aboriginal people live in urban areas.(ABC News: Nicolas Perpitch)

Dr Blow said the holistic approach used to tackle health in Aboriginal communities had shone during the pandemic, with no significant outbreaks of COVID-19 occurring.

“It’s not just looking at infection or the transmission, but actually looking at every element of what affects the wellbeing of not just an individual, but a community,” she said.

“We have larger family groups that tend to all be in one household, therefore there’s a higher risk of transmission infectious diseases.

“It’s really important to get those public health messages out early.”

In recent months, Dr Blow has been working with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 response team, to adapt some First Nations health principles for other Melbourne communities.

“It wasn’t saying that what we do for Aboriginal people is going to be fine for other culturally and linguistically diverse communities. It was rather using those principles of making sure we had local community health groups involved, and making sure we communicated with the local community about what was going on,” she said.

“Also, making sure that there was an understanding of what the Government was doing, rather than it seeming like the Government was dictating what was happening.”

Lessons learned after housing tower ‘chaos’

Police wearing face masks walk in front of a public housing block.
Ngaree Blow thinks some mistakes were made in the lockdown of Melbourne’s social-housing towers.(AAP: David Crosling)

Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19 badly affected residents in Melbourne’s outer north and west — areas with high cultural and linguistic diversity.

There were complaints about health messaging not reaching ethnically diverse communities, and even when it did, there were cases of poorly-translated material.

The hard and sudden lockdown of crowded social housing towers, home to some of the city’s most disadvantaged, left some residents traumatised and feeling like they were “in a prison”.

While Dr Blow was not directly involved in the health response to the towers outbreak, she believes some mistakes were made.

“I think the public health principles were a bit lost in the chaos of it all,” she said.

“The department as a whole really did a lot of reflection on what went well, and what could have been improved in that situation.”

As Victoria recorded another day of no new cases or deaths, Dr Blow said the team was continuing to consolidate its work in the community, and said it remained prepared to respond if new outbreaks occurred.



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As the Coronavirus Surges, a New Culprit Emerges: Pandemic Fatigue


The virus has seeped through communities, rural and urban: In Chicago, public schools remained closed to students for a sixth consecutive week as the city’s rate of positive coronavirus tests inched up near 5 percent. In Gove County, Kan., population 2,600, nine people have died from the virus in recent days, health officials reported. Clusters of infections have emerged from a spa in Washington State, a hockey league in Vermont, a Baptist church in North Carolina and a Sweet 16 party on Long Island.

Sick people are telling contact tracers they picked up the virus while trying to return to ordinary life. Beth Martin, a retired school librarian who is working as a contact tracer in Marathon County, Wis., said she interviewed a family that had become sick through what is now a common situation — at a birthday party for a relative in early October.

“Another case said to me, ‘You know what, it’s my adult son’s fault,’” she recalled. “‘He decided to go to a wedding and now we’re all sick.’”

Mark Harris, county executive for Winnebago County, Wis., said he had been frustrated by the “loud minority” in his county that had been successfully pushing back against any public health measures to be taken against the pandemic.

They have a singular frame of mind, he said: “‘This has been inconveniencing me long enough and I’m done changing my behavior.’”

In the Czech Republic, a politically divided nation, people met the initial order to shelter at home this spring with an unusual show of unity. They began a national mask sewing campaign, recognized around the world for its ingenuity. Confidence in the government, for its handling of the crisis, reached a record 86 percent.

Since then, support for the government response has plummeted, and the country is now experiencing the fastest increase in virus cases in Europe. Roughly half of the more than 150,000 cases recorded in the Czech Republic have come in the past two weeks, and more than half of the country’s nearly 1,300 deaths have come this month.



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Junior Paulo emerges as role model in second stint for Parramatta Eels


Paulo had seen it so many times before. Talented kids discarding their dreams because they weren’t ready for fatherhood or other life challenges thrown at them. Like when the Parramatta prop had only just graduated from Ashcroft High to learn he and partner Mele were expecting the first of three children they would end up having together.

“In all honesty, it became about breaking a stereotype of young Polynesians on the cusp of playing footy,” Paulo said.

“Some of the elders would say that being a young father, you are forced to give up your dreams to provide for your family.

“For me, my way of providing is through my footy. That’s the one thing I knew how to do and I put all of my eggs in the one basket.”

It has all worked out personally and professionally. Their first child, Mario-Cade, 6, now has two younger sisters; Rosalina, who is about to turn five, and 18-month-old Harmony. As far as his footballing form goes, it would be a big shock if Brad Fittler didn’t select Paulo in his 27-man Blues squad for the State of Origin series.

The big prop will again be the Eels’ most influential player in their sudden-death final against the Rabbitohs on Saturday night at Bankwest Stadium.

“There are always stereotypes of kids giving up their dreams due to circumstances or challenges you’re faced when you’re young,” Paulo said.

“For some that’s going out and getting a job, but for me that was going out and being a father, staying on the right path.”

Paulo’s silky ball skills bely his massive frame.

There have been occasions when Paulo has deviated from it. During his first stint with the Eels, the Cabramatta Two Blues product found himself embroiled in a series of off-field dramas. There was a police warning for consorting with underworld figures, before pleading guilty to common assault and reckless driving in a separate incident.

The subsequent move to Canberra was more about removing himself from some bad influences in Sydney than simply pulling on the lime-green jersey.

“We were able to understand that I faced a couple of challenges along the way in the early stages of my career,” he said.

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“First and foremost was finding myself as a footballer, but I had to find my place as a person before I could do that.

“Part of that was moving down to Canberra. It’s a decision I’m always grateful for because it straightened me out again, to get on the right path.

“As a young father and footballer, you’re faced with many challenges. You probably don’t have the understanding how to be an adult when you’re fresh out of high school, when you’re a young footballer becoming a young father.

“Everyone writes their own journey, no one knows how to live life. It would be easier if someone had the right formula for it.

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“I’m now able to set that example doing the positive stuff in life.”

Paulo’s stint in the nation’s capital gave him the fresh start he required, but it didn’t result in him brushing those acquaintances who were flirting with the law.

“It was something that I was brought up, you can’t turn your back on family,” he said.

“You become a more mature person and make better choices.

“Every choice we make has an impact on our future. At the time there were distractions and having priorities in life and meant getting them in order for me.

“You’re not turning your back on family or cutting a couple of good friends out of your life. It’s about making smarter choices and having a better understanding of the impact your choices make.

“It’s about being a role model. A kid who came from south-west Sydney made something from playing footy. That’s an eye opener not just for my family but for the kids who are growing up in the area there.

“Growing up in Ashcroft, it has a rich history of rugby league, the likes of Freddy [Brad] Fittler being a part of the area. There’s always going to be a local kid running around in the park or playing junior footy who wants to be following in the footsteps.

“You really take into consideration that you were that kid a couple of years ago. There are young kids coming through and you want to be a good example to them.”

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Shock suitor emerges in race to sign Brad Crouch


Crosstown rival Port Adelaide has emerged as a shock free agency suitor for Adelaide midfielder Brad Crouch, according to Michelangelo Rucci.

The 26-year-old is currently a restricted free agent and has a range of suitors, most notably Geelong who are targeting the inside midfielder to play alongside the likes of Patrick Dangerfield and Mitch Duncan.

But Rucci now believes there’s a “genuine chance” Crouch could opt to stay in South Australia and make the bombshell move to the Power.

“I think there’s a genuine chance that Brad Crouch is going to take the free agency path to Port Adelaide,” he said on SEN SA Drive.

“Brad Crouch is a free agent and he’s going to have suitors and we could see a club champion go to a rival.

“We know Adelaide is firm on where they stand on him, be it a three-year contract, but I think (Port Adelaide) would give him greater terms than he would at Adelaide.”

Gerard Whateley spoke at length about Crouch’s value on SEN last week, saying he doesn’t believe the on-baller should command a deal of more than three years.






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Saint emerges as trade target for Bulldogs


St Kilda small forward Jack Lonie has emerged as a trade target for the Western Bulldogs.

According to Fox Footy’s Tom Morris, the Bulldogs will pursue Lonie who comes out of contract at the end of the season.

It’s understood the Dogs will be prioritising a small forward once the trade and free agency period begins in November.

The 24-year-old inked a two-year extension in 2018 but did attract interest from several clubs, including Carlton and Collingwood.

Lonie has played just 10 games this season after being dropped twice by coach Brett Ratten.

He’s kicked 66 goals in 73 matches for the Saints since making his debut in 2015.


Western Bulldogs


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Children’s inflammatory illness associated with coronavirus emerges in Australia. Here’s what we know about it


A rare inflammatory condition found in children and associated with COVID-19 has emerged in Australia, with one case confirmed so far.

The illness, known as Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS-TS), was first recorded in areas with large coronavirus outbreaks overseas earlier this year.

The condition is mentioned alongside Kawasaki disease, which is also rare and potentially severe, because it has similar symptoms.

Experts stress the illness is very rare but the emergence of the condition earlier this year, and the deaths of children overseas, has prompted concerns.

Here is what we know so far.

Which children are most at risk?

The condition is found in areas with high cases of COVID-19.

So far, it looks like the only recorded cases are in Victoria, after Safer Care Victoria issued an alert on Thursday.

The median age of the kids with the syndrome in Victoria is nine, and it is more common in boys, who are obese and with ethnicities other than Anglo-European.

Medical experts say the symptoms of the illness can show up two to six weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19, even in children who didn’t have any symptoms.

Some children have needed breathing assistance and overseas, a small number of children have died from the syndrome.

Safer Care Victoria warns that there are likely to be more children with the condition in Australia, although it is a rare complication.

Cases of the syndrome usually increase in the months after COVID-19 cases peak in an area.(Reuters: Borja Suarez)

How many children have PIMS-TS in Australia?

Paediatric infectious diseases clinician and researcher David Burgner, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, says there has been one confirmed case in Australia and other possible cases are under investigation.

Professor Burgner has told Australian Doctor there may have been other cases in the past, but those patients couldn’t be conclusively diagnosed as having PIMS-TS.

“Every time there’s a possible case, doctors get together to discuss whether it fits the criteria,” he said.

“Other cases have been discussed with varying degrees of certainty.”

Doctors in Victoria have been urged to look out for children who might have the rare complication after it was reported in an undisclosed number of Victorian children.

Cases of the syndrome usually increase in the months after COVID-19 cases peak in an area.

It’s also worth noting that 186 cases of the condition have been recorded in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That is out of more than 6 million cases of COVID-19 in the country.

In the US, the condition is called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can include fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting, rash, eye infections and heart problems.

At least half of the patients with the condition can end up in intensive care with heart issues.

Why is it often linked to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome?

Mostly because the symptoms are similar.

Safer Care Victoria lists toxic shock syndrome, Kawasaki disease (from which it appears distinct), Kawasaki shock syndrome and bacterial sepsis as similar but different conditions to PIMS-TS.

In April this year, UK health authorities reported as many as 12 children, some of whom tested positive to COVID-19, were seriously ill in hospital with severe inflammation.

It prompted health authorities there to issue an alert warning that the condition could be related to COVID-19 in children, or that there “may be another as-yet-unidentified infectious pathogen associated with these cases”.

What have Australian authorities had to say about PIMS-TS?

A woman and child wearing warm colourful jackets an stand on an Autumnal path.
There are usually 200 to 300 cases of Kawasaki disease diagnosed in Australia each year.(Unsplash:Krzysztof Kowalik)

When cases emerged overseas in May, before major outbreaks in Victoria, then-Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told a senate committee the condition is rare.

“In those countries where there’s been a huge volume of infection — the US and the UK — there does seem to be an association between an increased incidence of this condition and potentially COVID-positive children,” he said.

There are usually 200 to 300 cases of Kawasaki disease diagnosed in Australia each year, in the absence of COVID-19, according to the Department of Health.

“The CMO continues to engage with paediatric specialists nationally on this matter and Australia is in a good position to pick up an early signal of increased cases of Kawasaki disease over and above background seasonal variation,” a department spokeswoman said in May.



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Raptors president Masai Ujiri speaks out after video of altercation emerges


LAKE BUENA VISA, FLA. —
When Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri needed help, star guard Kyle Lowry was there.

Shortly after Toronto had clinched its first NBA title last June in Oakland, Calif., Ujiri became involved in an altercation with Alameda County sheriff’s deputy Alan Strickland while trying to reach the court. Earlier this week, video emerged showing the altercation, which was followed by Lowry pulling Ujiri on to the court and then hugging the Raptors executive.

On Tuesday, Ujiri filed a countersuit in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., after the officer filed a lawsuit.

“It (the video) shows why we’re supportive of the social injustices that are going on right now,” Lowry told reporters Thursday during a videoconference. “It shows why we’re supporting of the Black Lives Matter.

“It shows why we need to get out there and vote. It shows why we need to get those guys to arrest the murderers of Breonna Taylor because there’s police officers like that officer out there who are scumbags, basically.”

Ujiri released a statement later Thursday, giving his first thoughts on the video.

After what he called an exhilerating triumph, Ujiri said, “I was reminded in that moment that despite all of my hard work and success, there are some people, including those who are supposed to protect us, who will always and only see me as something that is unworthy of respectful engagement. And there’s only one indisputable reason why that is the case — because I am Black.

“What saddens me the most about this ordeal is that the only reason I am getting the justice I deserve in this moment is because of my success. Because I’m the president of an NBA team, I had access to resources that ensured I could demand and fight for my justice. So many of my brothers and sisters haven’t had, don’t have, and won’t have the same access to resources that assured my justice. And that’s why Black Lives Matter.”

Toronto leads its opening-round playoff series with the Brooklyn Nets 2-0 after a 104-99 victory Wednesday.

Raptors forward Serge Ibaka feels the incident shouldn’t have happened.

“It’s kind of sad because honestly, I don’t think anybody believed in Masai when he said he was innocent,” Ibaka said. “Things should never be like this . . . no matter where you come from, no matter your colour, things should never be like that.

“Thank God now everyone can see what happened that day. This connected us to understand this fight is far from being over. We have to stick together and we have to fight this fight together.”

Sgt. Ray Kelly, a spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, said Wednesday that the office stands by everything it has said in regards to the investigation.

He added that the video released is “a snippet of all the video that is out there.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 20, 2020.



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Sam Collins doesn’t flinch, emerges from Tom Lynch battle a winner


We’ll see vision of Tom Lynch’s cheap shot over and over on Tuesday ahead of the AFL Match Review Officer’s decision on whether the Richmond forward deserves a fine or a suspension for his off-ball strike on Sam Collins.

But this is the footage we should be watching.

While Lynch continues to infuriate the footy public with his misguided attempts to provide a physical presence in the Tiger forward line, Collins proved his toughness without moving a muscle.

In scenes eerily reminiscent of Kobe Bryant’s famous blank stare reaction to a Matt Barnes ball fake, Collins didn’t flinch.

And it wasn’t the only moment from the 26-year-old the footy public loved.

Furious at giving up a third-quarter lead in the 21-point defeat — and most likely the lack of protection from the umpires — Collins punched a pylon and stalked around the Suns changerooms.

If anyone was questioning how much he cared about winning, this was all the evidence they needed.

St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt described Collins, who has become a mainstay of the Suns defence this season after being delisted by Fremantle in 2017, as a “great competitor”.

“He clearly didn’t like the treatment, he didn’t like the fact that Tom Lynch got on the end of it and kicked a goal. I can’t wait to see these boys go at each other next time,” Riewoldt said on Fox Footy.

Swans champion Jude Bolton agreed. “Loved the intensity of Sam Collins,” he tweeted.

AFLW player Kaitlyn Ashmore added: “Sam Collins quickly becoming one of my favourite players.”

Footy fans were also glowing in their praise, with many suggesting Collins was their new favourite player from another club.

“Sam Collins has the Mamba Mentality!” tweeted Todd Davey.

“Love the competitive anger of Sam Collins. That is seriously good,” wrote Jack Hudson.

Mitchell Woodcock: “The fact Sam Collins was so mad shows now what Suns are. They have standards for themselves and are not happy when they’re not met. Will play finals in 2021!”

“I really enjoyed watching Sam Collins grow as a player this year, and am gaining more respect for him each week,” added Alex. “This clip sums up his season, fearless. Meanwhile, the footy community is watching Tom Lynch and quickly losing respect.”

Others also gave Collins credit for not squaring up with Lynch on field.

“Sam Collins showed excellent composure by not putting Lynch on the turf,” wrote Rob Officer. “Takes strong character to not snap when you have a massive f***wit in your face like that.”

GARRY LYON PREDICTS FINE FOR LYNCH

Melbourne Demons legend Garry Lyon predicted Lynch would cop a four-figure fine for the incident, but would not be suspended by the AFL.

“This is just a punch to the guts,” Lyon said on Fox Footy’s On The Couch.

“The AFL have demonstrated that they’re happy to condone these. They don’t see them as worthy of a week’s suspension.

“Write your check, $1500, away you go.”

Speaking to ABC Grandstand after the match, Lynch defended his actions, claiming it was “an open hand to the chest”.

“It was just an open hand and pushed off. That was it,” Lynch said.

“He was a bit angry about that, but it was just an open hand to the chest, which as key forwards, is what you want to do.”

Regardless, Lynch faced plenty of criticism for his “cheap shot”. West Australian senior footy writer Mark Duffield tweeted: “Will be very keen to see what MRO makes of Tom Lynch punch on Sam Collins. Live game and a forward marks and goals by getting off his man by punching him off the ball.”

Leader News reporter James Mottershead posted: “Tom Lynch not making a great name for himself of late. Too many cheap shots. Weak and embarrassing.”

Sports broadcaster Rohan Connolly tweeted: “Ordinary stuff Tom Lynch. Game doesn’t cheap shots, and you don’t need cheap shots to perform well. There’s a difference between ‘playing on the edge’ and belting a guy in the guts well off the ball. Anyone can do that. Cut it out.”

Australian comedian Scott Dooley queried: “Is Tom Lynch a bit of a d***head?”

— with Nic Savage



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