Palm Island youth encouraged to combat boredom by playing sport

Palm Island’s youth are being encouraged to take up sport and follow their Indigenous role models to combat boredom on the Island.

Queensland Maroons legends have visited the Palm Island community where they played touch football and ran sparring sessions at the local PCYC.

The visit came as five former Indigenous players were preparing for the All-Stars fight night in Townsville next month.

The children met local boxing star Patrick Clarke, who made his professional debut last year on the Jeff Horn v Tim Tszyu undercard.

Young boxer Jahvan Lui said he was inspired by the visit(ABC North Queensland: Siobhan Heanue)

Mentoring from coaches

16-year-old Jahvan Lui said it was motivating to see people in the community making a name for themselves in boxing.

“It’s very inspiring, especially coming from a little place, a little community and Patrick has given me advice a few times,” Lui said.

“It’s a pretty good feeling, just like mingling with them and having a laugh.”

Mr Lui said playing sport was important because of the mentoring role coaches play.

“Some people don’t have mentors or older people to guide them. My Dad’s always had my back with training.”

A group of former footballers and youn gchildren standing in a basketball hall in a row for a picture
Queensland Maroons legends visiting Palm Island youth.(ABC North Queensland: Siobhan Heanue)

Role models

Scott Prince, Sam Thaiday, Justin Hodges and Neville Costigan were among the Indigenous fighters who made the trip.

Former Bronco Scott Prince said he wants the Palm youth to follow in the footsteps of their Indigenous role models.

“At least they know that it’s here, utilise the facility sink your teeth into boxing, sport, you know, touch footy, whatever it may be — just have some fun.

“It’s been a great way to spend the day and just see some of the local talent in the boxing ring that’s on display.”

Young boy standing next to boxing ring in shock as boxer leans on ropes above him in boxing gym
Shock and awe — Palm Island boy recognises local boxing star Patrick Clarke is leaning on the ropes.(ABC North Queensland: Siobhan Heanue)

Palm Island Mayor Mislam Sam said the visit will have untold positive influences on the youth.

“Our Island’s full of sports people, unfortunately with limited opportunities … to get away,” he said.

“Having these high-profile Indigenous sportsmen coming to our community will have a positive influence on our youth to get out there and challenge themselves, because we’ve got a lot of good sport stars locally in our community.”

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Iran executes dissident who encouraged anti-regime protests

Iran has executed Ruhollah Zam, a dissident who allegedly sought regime change in Tehran and spied for Israel and France, underlining the Islamic republic’s stance to show no mercy towards political opposition.

Zam, who was held in jail since his capture in October last year, was hanged after being charged with a long list of crimes that included “co-operation with the hostile state of the US”, provoking unrest in order to disrupt the country’s security and insulting its top leaders.

Zam made a confession on state television, but the trial was conducted behind closed doors.

Amnesty International called the sentence a shocking escalation in the use of the death penalty as a weapon of repression. “His execution is a deadly blow to freedom of expression in Iran and shows the extent of the Iranian authorities’ brutal tactics to instil fear and deter dissent,” Amnesty said.

The Iranian allegations centre on the Amadnews channel, a popular anti-government forum on the Telegram messaging app that Zam ran. He used it to play a significant role in unrest three years ago which was at the time the most widespread against the Islamic republic and its economic policies.

Zam taught protesters how to make Molotov cocktails and use them against security forces. He also made allegations of high-level corruption and affairs.

He operated the platform from Turkey and later in France, where he had residence, and enjoyed protection from the security forces.

Zam was lured into Iraq by Iran’s intelligence services in October last year, arrested and brought to Iran.

Western diplomats in Tehran say it was not clear how Iranian intelligence services managed to convince him to travel to Iraq when he would have been conscious of the risks posed by Iran’s strong presence in the country.

Zam’s family and friends said he had been offered money in Iraq to launch a television channel and expand his opposition activities.

Iran makes no secret of the fact that it will pursue opposition figures wherever they are in the world.

The Intelligence Ministry said last month that a separatist leader, Farajollah Cha’ab, had been detained and brought back to Iran. He is accused of leading a 2018 terrorist attack in southwestern Iran — home to ethnic Arabs — targeting a military parade in which 25 soldiers and civilians were shot dead.

Jamshid Sharmahd, an Iranian-German national is suspected to have been detained in a neighbouring country and brought to Iran earlier this year. He is accused of a deadly attack on a mosque in 2008 that killed 14 people.

The Islamic republic has said it will exercise tolerance towards ordinary people who protest against their economic situation but not those who provoke unrest to overthrow the regime with the help of foreign governments.

Iranian analysts say the Islamic republic is trying to address some international criticism of its human rights record. Iran has one of the world’s highest execution rates.

Around 40,000 prisoners have been released or had their sentences reduced in the past two years, but these were mostly people convicted of crimes such as drug trafficking, not the leaders of anti-regime protests.

Zam was the son of Mohammad Ali Zam, a former reformist cultural official and a cleric. The two met on Friday, hours before the execution, on the condition that his father was not allowed to reveal that the death sentence had been approved.

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Thais encouraged to travel more to help stimulate economy – Tourism, Travel

BANGKOK (NNT) – With more public holidays coming up in November and December, the government is encouraging people to travel to different parts of the country and use the government’s spending stimulus measures.

As of November 8th, the government’s We Travel Together campaign had 2,275,361 accommodation and 1,828,842 air ticket privileges for travelers.

40 percent discount

The campaign offers eligible applicants a 40-percent discount on rooms, limited to a maximum of 3,000 baht per room per night, with the subsidy capped at 10 rooms or 10 nights. They will also receive food and travel coupons worth up to 900 baht per day.

When tourists travel by air, the government will refund 40 percent of the ticket price. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is considering ways to offer more convenience to travelers, while encouraging more people to take part in this campaign.

2000 baht for medical personnel

The government’s Kamlang Jai campaign funds holiday travel for public health volunteers and medical personnel at Subdistrict Health Promotion hospitals. The subsidy is limited to 2,000 baht per tourist for a trip of two days and one night, and travel spending can also be used to claim tax deductions.

The cabinet has endorsed extra public holidays on November 19th and 20th, which are on Thursday and Friday, resulting in a four-day holiday. In December, another four-day holiday will be from the 10th to the 13th.

Thailand has been able to address the COVID-19 situation, thanks to the country’s effective disease-control measures. The government has launched many stimulus campaigns to revive the domestic economy, particularly in the heavily-hit tourism industry.

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Silvagni encouraged by Brisbane taking a “punt” on injury-prone duo

Former list manager Stephen Silvagni says he isn’t worried about Brisbane recruiting two injury-prone players this off-season.

After Joe Daniher joined the club as a restricted free agent, the Lions were able to add to their haul by recruiting Cats midfielder Nakia Cockatoo on a two-year deal, who has notably struggled with several soft-tissue complaints in recent seasons.

Speaking about their two recent acquisitions, Silvagni said it was obvious the Lions were missing forward support for Eric Hipwood during the recently-completed finals series, where they were beaten by Geelong in the preliminary finals.

He also welcomed the calculated risk Brisbane is taking in recruiting Cockatoo, who hasn’t played senior footy since early 2018.

“My understanding with Nakia Cockatoo is he was close to playing this year,” he said on AFL Trade Radio’s Late Trade.

“They’re backing themselves in and they’re in the window, at some point you need to take the punt.

“The Lions have gone to the last two finals series, they’ve right in their window and brought Joe Daniher in … when you go away from their finals campaign, they did need another quality tall.

“I think Eric Hipwood has enormous talent, but can’t do it on his own and isn’t his own physical presence. To bring in Nakia Cockatoo, he brings a bit of speed in that lineup.

Brisbane recently solved Lincoln McCarthy’s fitness issues, with the former Cat not missing a game through injury since joining the club at the end of 2018.

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Parents were encouraged to give child living with Tourette’s ‘a good flogging’, disability royal commission hears

A young man who lives with Tourette’s syndrome has told the disability royal commission he has been left “ruined” by his experiences at schools in Queensland.

The parents of Jack have given evidence about the school life of their now 19-year-old son, who sent them a text message to read to the inquiry.

“You’re there fighting for me and I’m too unwell to go,” Jack’s text message read.

Alex and Sharon, known to the commission by their first names, have been married for 28 years and Jack is the youngest of their three sons.

In emotional testimony, they detailed his time as a student at schools in Townsville.

“He’s only got grade 4 English and maths skills,” his mother Sharon said. “He can barely write his own name.”

Initially Jack loved going to school but he had good and bad experiences with teachers and other students.

Sharon told the royal commission that initially there was confusion about Jack’s diagnosis and he was seen as “naughty”.

A paediatrician assessed Jack’s behaviour and told his mother to take him home and give him a “good flogging, which clearly we didn’t do”.

In year 3, Jack’s behaviour was “worsening” at school and at home and it was a “really, really tough year”.

When he was nine, Jack was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. His parents say they repeatedly asked the school to apply for funding to support their son but it was refused.

“They dismissed it and said Tourette’s was not a disability, it didn’t fit into the top six of disabilities,” Sharon told the inquiry.

“I didn’t realise there was a top six, I didn’t realise there was a competition going on.”

The commission heard the school “strongly suggested” that Sharon and Alex should have Jack diagnosed as autistic in order to attract funding for support.

Jack was taken for further assessments and while he showed signs of depression, anxiety and traits of Asperger’s, he did not “tick a box” for autism.

“I felt like (they’d) taken away the last chance we had to get Jack help at school,” Sharon said.

“At the same time I was relieved because I didn’t want him to have yet another label.”

Jack’s parents gave an emotional testimony to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disabilities.(Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disabilities)

The inquiry heard about the financial and emotional impact on the family.

To be able to afford Jack’s medical bills, his father moved to a higher-paying job that took him away from home during the week.

“That was a tough time for the whole family,” Alex said. “The other two boys had to sort of step up and be a dad.”

The inquiry heard teachers showed a lack of understanding about Jack’s disability. He was “dragged” to the principal’s office “by his ear” when during a Tourette’s tic, a teacher heard him say the word “mongrel”.

“They didn’t want to look into that he had a disability,” Jack’s father said.

One teacher suggested Jack “learn how to control his Tourette’s in public”.

“It’s like telling a child not to sneeze,” his mother told the inquiry.

The couple urged the royal commission to consider better disability training for all school staff.

Sharon revealed the family had offered to pay for a teacher’s aide for Jack out of their own money but the school said it “didn’t work like that”.

Jack was prescribed anti-psychotic medication to control his tics but it made him put on weight and he experienced more bullying at school.

Sharon told the inquiry Jack became frightened of the other children and did not want to attend school.

After years of trying to find alternative options for Jack, and with his mental health at crisis point, he was withdrawn from high school and ended formal education at 13 years old.

That was six years ago. Jack has now also been diagnosed with agoraphobia and rarely leaves the house.

He is on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and has carers who come to his home.

His father, Alex, told the commission Jack’s school experiences have stayed with him.

The couple revealed their fears for Jack’s future.

“He’s trapped in our house because of things that happened to him when he was a young boy, ” Sharon said.

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Coronavirus update: WHO says efficacy of plasma therapy, touted by Donald Trump, still ‘inconclusive’, French nudists encouraged to cover up

The World Health Organization said using plasma from the recovered to treat COVID-19 is still considered an “experimental” therapy, following US President Donald Trump approving an emergency authorisation of convalescent plasma for coronavirus patients.

Meanwhile a French nudist resort has seen a sharp rise in infections, leading to nudists being told to cover up… their faces.

This story will be updated throughout Tuesday.

Tuesday’s key moments:

WHO cautious on COVID-19 plasma as US issues emergency authorisation

US President Donald Trump approved an emergency authorisation of convalescent plasma last week,(AP: Alex Brandon)

The World Health Organization says using plasma from the recovered to treat COVID-19 is still considered an “experimental” therapy and that the preliminary results showing it may work are still “inconclusive.”

Over the weekend, US President Donald Trump approved an emergency authorisation of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.

WHO’s chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said convalescent plasma therapy has been used in the last century to treat numerous infectious diseases, with varying levels of success.

Dr Swaminathan said the WHO still considers convalescent plasma therapy to be experimental but it should continue to be evaluated as studies have provided “low-quality evidence”.

She added that the treatment is difficult to standardise because people produce different levels of antibodies and plasma must be collected individually from recovered patients.

Dr Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to WHO’s director-general, said that convalescent plasma therapy can come with numerous side effects, from a mild fever and chills to more severe lung-related injuries.

French nudist resort sees spike in infections

The gate to the Village Naturiste in Cap D'Agde, France.
Cap d’Agde is one of France’s oldest and biggest naturist resorts and draws tens of thousands of visitors per day in summer.(Wikimedia Commons: Martin Lindner)

A naturist resort on France’s Mediterranean coast has seen a sharp spike in coronavirus infections and nudists have been ordered to wear masks and practice social distancing, health authorities said.

Tests had shown a 30 per cent infection rate in people who had visited Village Cap d’Agde — which advertises itself as a village for naturists and libertines — a health authority said.

That was more than four times higher than the 7 per cent rate recorded in other people in the area who had not visited the centre, the health authority added.

Cap d’Agde, set in a huge circular modernist building by the beach, is one of France’s oldest and biggest naturist resorts and draws tens of thousands of visitors per day in summer.

Officials at the resort, which is about 60 kilometres down the coast from Montpellier, did not respond to calls seeking comment.

On Sunday, France reported nearly 5,000 new coronavirus infections, a new post-lockdown record.

Italy begins human testing of potential COVID-19 vaccine

Women wearing face mask disinfect their hands in central Piazza Venezia.
The potential vaccine called GRAd-COV2 was developed by a company in Rome.(LaPresse/AP: Alfredo Falcone)

Italy kicked off human trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, joining a global effort to develop a response to the virus which has shown signs of a resurgence throughout parts of Europe.

Rome’s Lazzaro Spallanzani institute, a hospital specialising in infectious diseases will conduct trials on 90 volunteers over the coming weeks, with the hope a vaccine may be available by spring of next year.

Francesco Vaia, health director of the Spallanzani hospital, told Reuters the first patient will be monitored for four hours before being allowed to go home where he will be kept under observation for 12 weeks.

The potential vaccine, called GRAd-COV2, was developed by ReiThera, a company based in Rome.

The Lazio region, around the Italian capital, said in a statement early trials, including on animals, had delivered positive results.

Japan defends pandemic tourism campaign

Looking across Tokyo Airport's runways, you see a Japan Airlines plane taxiing with a snow-capped mountain in the distance.
Officials said only 10 cases of COVID-19 were found at hotel lodgings during the month-long campaign.(Flickr: Kagami)

The Japanese Government has defended the nation’s GoTo campaign, which encourages travel within Japan by offering discounts at hotels and inns.

The campaign has come under fire as a risk for spreading the virus.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government-backed campaign was a success, having been used by 2 million people in the last month.

He said only 10 cases of COVID-19 were found at hotels and other lodging during the month-long campaign, and just one of those people had used the campaign discount.

The tourism business in Japan supports 9 million jobs, Mr Suga said, adding that “its importance to the economy can’t be emphasised enough”.

Japan, which has already sunk into recession, has confirmed more than 1,100 deaths and 62,000 coronavirus cases so far.

Daily cases are rising gradually to about 1,000 people lately.

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Porn star Renee Gracie says dad encouraged her to stay on OnlyFans

Renee Gracie has explained her family’s reaction to her transition from professional motorsport driver to porn star.

The 25-year-old claims she made $500,000 in June from her Only Fans account, where followers pay a subscription fee to view the adult content she posts.

Gracie, who raced with Simona de Silvestro in an all-female pairing at Bathurst in 2015, has enjoyed an incredible surge in popularity since her career move was first revealed by The Daily Telegraph earlier this year.

It’s brought with it an incredible increase in cash but also negative attention at times, which prompted her to talk to her dad.

“When I first started making serious money I had to tell my dad, I thought ‘oh my god, I’m making so much money, he’s going to start figuring it out (and asking) where are you getting all this money from?’ So I just told him,” Gracie told the Hit Network’s Hughesy and Ed.

The Queenslander said she considered closing her account but was talked out of it by her dad.

“I had a little bit of a rough time on Only Fans, it does get hard to try and be creative all the time, I turned to my dad and said ‘I’m just over it, I don’t think I’m going to do it anymore’,” she said.

“And he actually said ‘don’t stop, you’re making so much money, don’t stop’. He actually encouraged me to keep doing it because it’s been life-changing and if anyone was in the position to make this kind of money everyone would try and do it.

“To actually have that support when times have got tough is really good.

“My family and friends don’t really care or see the content that I make or what I do, they see the implications it has — the money and the things it’s allowing me to do. That’s why they support it.”

Gracie’s Instagram following has also grown to more than 700,000 and she’s reinvested some of her earnings into her body.

She recently spent $15,000 on a Brazilian Butt Lift — the same surgery celebrities like Kim Kardashian have had.

In an interview with fellow OnlyFans star Gina Stewart, Gracie spilt the beans on just how big her earnings were for the month of June.

“I was averaging about $70,000USD a month up until recently when I got a lot of media attention and I had a few stories go viral. I know the figures but let’s just say I made half a million in the month of June!” Gracie said.

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High school students from disadvantaged backgrounds are being encouraged to study health at university

Ali Zarghami is a third-year medical student at Monash University in Melbourne, with dreams of specialising in emergency medicine.

But, he admits, he didn’t always want to become a doctor.

“I wanted to become a fireman, like my grandfather, to be that guy who would run into burning buildings and save people,” he told SBS News.

Ali Zarghami as a three-year-old arriving in Australia from Iran


Mr Zarghami was born in Iran, and at the age of three, he and his parents came to Australia seeking asylum.

Shortly after, his mother was diagnosed with a rare heart condition that required long stints in hospital.

He says it was his experiences with Australian doctors and nurses that made him want to join their profession.

“Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the hospital environment. We didn’t have any family here in Australia and the doctors and nurses were a bit like a second family to us in the way they cared for us.”

Ali Zarghami on his first day of primary school in Australia

Ali Zarghami on his first day of primary school in Australia


In high school, Mr Zarghami participated in Monash University’s Hands on Health program, giving him experience in delivering medication, giving needles to mannequins and setting prosthetic broken bones.

He says from that moment on, he was hooked.

“For a lot of people, work experience makes them realise that this is not the career for them. But for me, it really reinforced the idea that this was something I could see myself doing in the future.”

The Hands on Health program is designed to introduce students from refugee, asylum seeker, Indigenous and lower socio-economic backgrounds to a career in health. 

Successful applicants are invited to spend two days at the university to get a taste of life as a medical student.

But when COVID-19 threatened to shut down the scheme in its ninth year of operation, Monash launched a virtual equivalent, finding major benefits in who they could reach.

Karen Adams of Monash's Gukwonderuk Indigenous Health Unit

Karen Adams of Monash’s Gukwonderuk Indigenous Health Unit

SBS/Abby Dinham

Karen Adams of the Gukwonderuk Indigenous Health Unit runs the program and says physical distance is no longer a barrier for students who want to try it out.

“We knew when we were putting it online there was potential for kids from interstate and from rural and remote areas to engage with the program,” Professor Adams said.

Phoebe Nelson, a Year 10 student at a school in Melbourne’s east, took the program online this month.

Ruby and Phoebe Nelson

Ruby and Phoebe Nelson

SBS/Abby Dinham

She says it boosted her self-esteem and has given her confidence that she’s on the right path to achieving a career in health.

“I want to definitely do something in paediatrics, or in emergency, like maybe an emergency nurse, or maybe even a paramedic,” she said.

Pheobe’s older sister Ruby, now a first-year nursing student, also completed the Hand on Health program in Year 10.

She says having a little sister also studying in the health sector will be a major benefit.

“It means I can practice on her and she can practice on me, and we can share ideas and help me revise,” Ruby said.

Ruby and Phoebe Nelson study together at home

SBS/Abby Dinham

While not every Hands on Health student will end up in a career in the medical field, Professor Adams says it’s hoped the program will at least spark interest in higher education.

“We know that those with lower socio-economic backgrounds, Indigenous students and students from asylum seeker and refugee backgrounds are less likely to go to university, so it’s just about trying to level the playing field for everybody.”

It’s done just that for 250 students so far.

Though it’s a while yet until Mr Zarghami can begin his career in the emergency department, he says he’s got the motivation to get there.

“When you think about the sacrifices your parents make you don’t want to waste that opportunity – you want to do the best thing you can do. Medicine seemed like a pretty good option in that sense.”

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South Australian parents encouraged by Education Department to return children to school amid coronavirus pandemic


April 23, 2020 01:07:01

South Australian parents will be urged to send their children to school next week after the state’s Education Department revised its stance on the coronavirus threat.

Key points:

  • South Australian parents are being encouraged to send students to school
  • Previously the focus had been on providing support at school and remotely
  • The Education Department will continue to respect parent preferences

In a letter sent to principals and pre-school directors on Wednesday, Education Department chief Rick Persse said the position had been rethought in light of low rates of infection in South Australia.

“Advice from SA Health and Australia’s health body, AHPPC, remains unchanged,” he said.

“Schools, preschools and early childhood facilities are low-risk environments for COVID-19 and should remain open.

“We will be encouraging students to return to their classroom for term two.”

The State Government had previously said no student would be turned away from school, but the focus would be on learning both remotely and in the classroom.

Mr Persse’s letter, which will be circulated on Thursday, explained that the need for online learning has now been reconsidered.

He said schools were low-risk environments and the Department would continue with safety measures to reduce the risk of transmission.

Among those will be increased cleaning at all sites and centrally-sourced hygiene products such as hand soap, sanitiser and tissues.

But he said the personal preferences of parents would still be respected, and current remote learning arrangements will continue.

“If [parents] don’t feel comfortable sending their children to school or pre-school for whatever reason, they won’t be obliged to,” he told principals.

“Please continue your remote learning offering for students learning from home.”

Education Minister says Department had to react

At the end of term one, parents were told they should make preparations for online learning, but Education Minister John Gardner said the situation had changed over the school holidays.

“Before the end of term one we had much higher rates of positive diagnosis than we have now, and we made a commitment to parents that we’d put in place online learning platforms,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.

“But we’re entering term two with somewhat different circumstances, and the advice is that school is the best place for your child.”

Mr Gardner reiterated that the Government’s position on the safety of schools remained the same.

“We’ve always had our schools open,” he said.

“The thing that changed during term one is that if parents made a decision to keep their children home, we would give them support to do so.

“That support remains, but if you’re in doubt, send your kids to school.”










First posted

April 22, 2020 21:26:45

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