Sourdough bread finds its sweet spot after increased sales during COVID-19


It wasn’t just toilet paper and pasta stripped from supermarket shelves when COVID-19 took hold.

Farmers also became caught in the frenzy of panic buying, among them biodynamic grain grower Tania Walter.

Lockdown meant they could no longer sell their range of packaged grains at farmers’ markets.

Panicky consumers, fearful of food shortages, swamped them with calls, demanding bulk bags of wheat, lentils and flour.

Then cars started lining up outside their farm gate in north-west Victoria.

“Initially, we thought our wheat would go into the organic animal food market, probably leaving the farm by a truck,” Ms Walter said.

Instead, they met the demands of established customers and then tried to satisfy new ones by selling consumer-sized parcels of grain.

As home-baked sourdough breadmaking surged in popularity during lockdown, the family seized the opportunity to begin milling their wheat, oats, spelt and buckwheat into flour.

They worked around the clock for months.

Ms Walter said the upside of fear of shortages during the pandemic caused people to think more about where their food came from.

 “I think it’s opened up a lot of people’s eyes, and they’ve got an appreciation for locally grown product and how it’s grown, and it has been fantastic,” she said.

They have a new array of customers with artisan home and commercial bakers.

There’s also been a surge in sales and interest at John Farnan’s family business Zeally Bay Sourdough at Torquay on Victoria’s surf coast.

The Farnan family began baking sourdough bread in Geelong in the 1980s, years before it was fashionable.

Instead of yeast to make the bread rise, they use leaven, a combination of fermented grain and water that dates back to ancient times.

They opened a commercial bakery in 2007, baking bread from only certified organic or biodynamic grains and ingredients.

The bakery also sources unconventional and old varieties of grain produced by organic and biodynamic growers like the Walter family.

Their spelt goes into low gluten and gluten-free breads as well as a range of wholemeal loaves.

Biodynamic grain growers from Victoria’s Mallee region, the Edwards family, is a major supplier to Zeally Bay.

No chemicals or artificial fertilisers are used to grow their crops. While yields are slightly less than those grown conventionally, their grains fetch around double the price.

Their ‘gourmet grain’ goes into Zeally Bay’s ‘Mallee loaf’, a golden square-topped loaf made entirely from wheat grown on the Edwards’ farm.

Barry Edwards, a biodynamic farmer since 1986, is proud of the end result.

Baker John Farnan is full of praise.

“It’s so pure in its provenance, and the flavour is really something. When you taste it, you’ll know what I mean,'” he said.

Japanese-owned noodle maker Hakubaku in Ballarat is experiencing double-digit growth for organic products.

“We make authentic Japanese noodles. Udon, soba, ramen and soma recently as a new product,” general manager Ryuji Nakamura said.

Organic or biodynamic flour is fed into a hopper at the head of the factory’s 50-metre-long production line. It’s mixed into dough, flattened into sheets and split into noodles, which are then extruded and dried and for packaging.

The company set up in Australia in 1998, after a global search for the world’s highest quality organic wheat and varieties best suited to make Japanese-style noodles.

Until now,  a lack of volume has constrained production but growing consumer demand has some of Australia’s biggest grain growers switching to organic production.

Forty per cent of Hakubaku’s sales are to the United States and demand from Europe is also increasing.

The company will soon build a new factory to double current production.

Back among the mouth-watering aroma of freshly baked bread at Zeally Bay, John Farnan reminisces about his youth and how he embraced ‘surf culture’ principles of going back to nature and producing and eating natural foods.

He admires farmers like the Walter and Edwards families.

“We see them as ethical agriculturalists. They’re people like us that have this commitment, it’s a kind of blind faith, but it’s profound commonsense that chemicals don’t mix with food.”

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Jury finds North Queensland man Kyle Robert Thompson guilty of housemate’s murder for second time


The Supreme Court jury in Townsville took just over five hours to convict Kyle Robert Thompson, 32, of murdering David Knyvett, 59, in his Belgian Gardens home on November 15, 2015.

In sentencing, Justice Susan Brown told Thompson his conduct was “intentional and calculated”. 

“Nothing can take away what you did, and nothing should.” 

Thompson had previously been found guilty of murder but had his conviction quashed by the Queensland Court of Appeal in February 2019, after it determined the trial judge made an error by misdirecting the jury over the application of the defence of provocation. 

Nine witnesses gave evidence during the four-day trial, which heard Thompson used a glass bottle to hit Mr Knyvett on the head “multiple times” before binding him with duct tape and dragging his body to the bathroom, where he later drowned in his own blood. 

In a statement provided to the ABC, Mr Knyvett’s family said it was relieved and satisfied with the outcome of the trial and described David Knyvett as a kind and compassionate man.

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Central Queensland health study finds regional diverse communities at ‘significant disadvantage’


When Bangladesh-born Shelly Nahar and her son moved to Rockhampton three years ago, she was still learning to speak English.

Even small talk was daunting, let alone explaining problems to a health professional.

“When I feel any problems and when I feel uncomfortable, of course, I’ll ask my husband first,” Ms Nahar said.

“Then I will ask [other family or friends], and sometimes I [search] the internet.”

Ms Nahar is among the 10 per cent of Australia’s population born in countries with a non-English-speaking background.

A Central Queensland Multicultural Association (CQMA) pilot project, Breaking the Barriers of Health Communication, found English proficiency was among many barriers to health care facing culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people.

It found CALD people in regional areas were at a higher risk of preventable diseases, complications, increased hospitalisation and increased mortality due to low health literacy.

Nepalese woman Dev Shrestha said the weeks following the birth of her son, Evan, were  “a really scary time”.

“I’m a new mum, so I have got a few issues with concern to my baby,” she said.

The Rockhampton mum said it took three trips to the emergency department and countless GP appointments for the six-month-old to be diagnosed with eczema, but they were still waiting to see a specialist.

“I felt living in a regional area was a bit of a disadvantage,” she said.

While Ms Shrestha’s English proficiency is good, she said she’d seen others from non-English-speaking backgrounds struggle.

“I think the majority of the CALD community also have similar kinds of issues, especially those living in regional areas.”

The pilot project’s leader, Neeta Ferdous, completed her Masters and PhD on the health of CALD communities in Australia.

Recommendations from the project have been given to federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on how to break down barriers and where resources are needed.

“Regional, rural and remote CALD people are not getting those sorts of facilities or resources and we need to know where the problem is and [find] the solution.”

The study used data collected from 40 healthcare consumers and 15 public and private health professionals.

CQUniversity and Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service helped facilitate the research.

“In terms of health literacy, Rockhampton’s CALD population is more disadvantaged than the broader Queensland population, as well as the broader Australia-wide born overseas population,” the report stated.

Rockhampton exercise physiologist Samuel Warrener said he had minimal cultural training at university.

“We just try and look after them as best we can with the knowledge and pre-existing experience that we have, and asking them about themselves,” he said.

“It’s really important that we do get to know their background so that we know where they’re coming from and that way, we can make them as comfortable as we can when they come in and see us.

Pilot project officer Evie Perrins said professionals had not been using available resources, including translators or communication boards, which was contributing to communication difficulties.

“Health professionals within this region can choose to undertake cultural competency training … but it’s not mandatory, whereas comparatively, Indigenous cultural competency training is mandatory,” she said.

Ms Perrins said social support systems in metropolitan areas should be expanded across Queensland.

“Something like a multicultural liaison officer should be introduced to help bridge the cultural and linguistic gap between healthcare consumers and healthcare professionals [to assist individuals] navigating the healthcare system and speaking with their health professional,” she said.

The pilot project looked at people from 15 different countries, so Dr Ferdous said its scope was limited.

“There’s more research needed into exactly which cultures are going to suffer heightened disadvantage comparatively,” she said.

Researchers said the release of the report was timely considering COVID and its impact on CALD communities.

Central Queensland Multicultural Association president Dawn Hay said the organisation already helped vulnerable people, but much more needed to be done.

“It would be disappointing if it is not recognised at Commonwealth and state level in the healthcare systems that this is a growing concern, it’s not minor,” she said.

CQMA submitted its final progress report in December. A federal Department of Health spokesman said the government was considering the recommendations.

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EY’s Wirecard audits suffered serious shortcomings, German probe finds


EY’s audits of defunct payments group Wirecard suffered from serious shortcomings over a period of years, a German investigation has found.

The Big Four firm is said to have failed to spot fraud risk indicators, did not fully implement professional guidelines and, on key questions, relied on verbal assurances from executives.

A special investigator who scrutinised the EY audits came to a damning verdict about the quality of the work, according to people with first-hand knowledge of the report. The investigator was commissioned by the Bundestag parliamentary committee in Berlin looking into the accounting scandal and had access to internal EY documents.

The report, filed to the Bundestag late this week, will significantly increase the woes of the accountancy firm. EY is already facing lawsuits from Wirecard shareholders and creditors and lost a number of high-profile clients. Legal action by Wirecard’s administrator is also likely to follow.

EY partners who signed off Wirecard’s accounts are already under criminal investigation over potential violations of rules on carrying out professional duties. Earlier this year, the accountancy firm replaced its leadership in Germany and announced an organisational reshuffle.

“The report outlines failures during the EY audits as professional standards were not met,” Matthias Hauer, an MP for the conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary group, which suggested appointing the special investigator, told the FT. He added the report confirmed “EY has significant responsibility for the scandal not being uncovered earlier”.

Wirecard received unqualified audits from EY for a decade and was once hailed as one of Germany’s rare technology success stories. It collapsed into insolvency last summer after revealing that €1.9bn in cash did “not exist”.

A team of auditors from Rödl & Partner led by Martin Wambach, the parliamentary special investigator, dug through 90 gigabytes of EY data that included internal working papers and 40,000 emails.

One finding refers to EY’s handling of the interim results of a forensic investigation in 2017. The probe, which was conducted by a separate EY anti fraud team and code-named Project Ring, was mandated by Wirecard’s board after a whistleblower raised allegations about accounting manipulations and attempted bribery of an auditor by Wirecard staff in India.

By March 2017, just before the audit opinion for 2016 was due, Project Ring was suffering from delays, with key questions unanswered. EY auditors warned Wirecard that an unqualified audit would be denied unless these issues were resolved.

According to Rödl & Partner, EY received “mainly verbal and written explanations by executives” and signed off the audit. The special investigator said there was no evidence that EY evaluated the questions it had raised earlier further.

This view is in line with findings of German audit watchdog Apas, which has told prosecutors that EY may have acted criminally during its work for Wirecard.

Project Ring was terminated by Wirecard in 2018 despite EY’s anti-fraud specialists arguing that “red-flag indicators” required further investigation.

The Rödl & Partner review found that EY had assessed in detail the outsourced operations in Asia, which sat at the heart of the fraud. However, it did not take issue with the fact that the day-to-day operations in the so-called third-party acquiring business (TPA) “deviated substantially from contractually-defined business processes”.

Rödl & Partner found that EY in 2015 brought in its anti fraud team to check PayEasy, a Philippines-based TPA that on paper generated a lot of revenue for Wirecard but at the time lacked audited results.

Wirecard provided its auditor with a false address for PayEasy, the partner’s website was down, and PayEasy staff did not answer the phone. Eventually, the Asian company emailed information “in a piecemeal way and shortly before the audit” which in Rödl & Partner’s view did not represent third-party confirmations “in the proper sense” and represented weak audit evidence.

Rödl & Partner said EY failed to spot a series of fraud risk indicators, among them unusually close links to its Asian partners as well as high and rising margins in a business that had lower value-added than Wirecard’s core business.

“From our perspective, there were numerous fraud risk indicators with regard to the TPA business which could have increased the critical attitude and could have triggered further audit acts,” the special investigator concludes.

EY accepted that Wirecard published incomplete and potentially misleading notes to its 2016 annual report. Back then, the payments firm sat on €55.3m of receivables that were in arrears — more than a quarter of all its receivables. EY compiled a list of the problematic items, but Wirecard did not include it in its annual report.

EY internally discussed the “missing disclosure” but ruled it was not material — based on argument that Rödl & Partner said were incomprehensible. “It cannot be ruled out that information, which had been relevant for [investor’s] decisions, are lacking in the notes to the 2016 annual report.”

Rödl & Partner, like KPMG in its special audit last year, also takes issue with the fact that the money deposited in escrow accounts in Asia was treated as Wirecard cash. It notes that EY’s assessment of the matter was “contradictory” as internal documents showed the firm initially wanted to treat the money as “other financial assets”.

EY later changed its mind based on the argument that Wirecard could access the funds within three months on condition it could get a bank guarantee. The accountancy firm stated internally that, thanks to its financial strength, Wirecard could obtain such a bank guarantee at any time — but did not check that proposition during its audits.

Rödl & Partner also noted balance confirmations for the escrow accounts repeatedly suffered from inconsistencies, such as different Wirecard subsidiaries attributed to the same accounts. The FT reported last year that EY failed for more than three years to request crucial account information from the Singapore bank where the cash was supposedly held.

Jens Zimmermann, a Social Democrat MP said the Rödl & Partner report on EY backed up the KPMGs Wirecard report. “Its language is technical, but its content is devastating.”

Fabio De Masi, an MP for the leftwing Die Linke, said: “EY had a deep understanding of the TPA illusion and to some extent even was its mastermind.

“For me, the question is EY did not want to uncover anything.”

Rödl & Partner did not immediately respond to FT requests for comment.

EY said its German arm had not been provided a copy of the Rödl & Partner report and so was unable to comment on its contents.

“The collusive acts of fraud at Wirecard were implemented through a highly complex criminal network designed to deceive everyone — investors, banks, supervisory authorities, investigating lawyers and forensic auditors, as well as the auditors,” EY said

“We have supported the parliamentary inquiry committee (PIC) throughout and will continue to do so. We also welcomed the PIC’s decision to consult auditing experts and fully co-operated with the special investigators in their work.

“Based on our information, the EY Germany auditors performed their audit procedures at Wirecard professionally, to the best of their knowledge and in good faith.”

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Bachelorette and 7NEWS journalist Georgia Love’s finds missing cat in Richmond


Former Bachelorette and 7NEWS journalist Georgia Love has had her missing cat return home after an “excruciating” 24 hours.

The white chocolate point ragdoll named ‘Pawdrey Hepburn’ jumped the fence in Richmond on Thursday night.

But on Friday afternoon, Love confirmed the cat had been found by a neighbour.

“After nearly 24 excruciating hours, our baby girl is home. A few kind neighbour found her a few streets away and brought her in,” she said.

“The power of social media meant he found out who she was and was able to contact us.

“Thank you, thank you everyone for sharing. Now to weld shut all windows and doors. None of us are ever leaving the house again.”

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AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses have better efficacy when given 12 weeks apart, study finds


Waiting three months between the first and second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine results in high efficacy, backing current recommendations from Australian authorities, new research shows.

The study, which involved more than 17,000 participants and was published recently in The Lancet, found the vaccine — which most people in Australia will receive — had an 81 per cent efficacy rate when a second dose was given three months after the first.

This dropped to a 55 per cent efficacy rate if the second dose was given less than six weeks after the first.

Jodie McVernon, a director of epidemiology at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, said the result was not surprising.

“That finding, of a delayed interval between a primary dose and a booster dose giving a better antibody response, is consistent with some other vaccines that we have seen before,” she said.

Vaccines for the flu, Ebola and malaria also give greater protection and stronger immune responses after a longer interval between doses.

But Professor McVernon said a longer wait time between doses was not ideal for every vaccine.

“This is where every vaccine needs to be trialled and needs to be studied to work out those doses and what the best interval will be,” she said.

Depending on the country, the two-dose AstraZeneca vaccine has been offered to people between four and 12 weeks apart.

In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration recommends waiting 12 weeks between doses.

Burnet Institute program director for disease elimination Heidi Drummer welcomed the study’s findings.

“It’s great news for Australians because what it’s saying is that if you wait three months between your first dose and your second dose, there seems to be a really good increase in efficacy,” she said.

But why waiting longer leads to better results is still not clear.

Theories on why waiting boosts immune response

Professor Drummer said she knew of two theories why the 12-week wait between doses led to a higher efficacy rate.

The first theory, she explained, built on the fact that after someone was vaccinated, their body had a reaction to the jab itself.

This reaction is the body’s immune system kicking in.

“Some of those molecules that are produced could be quite inflammatory and when you receive the vaccine [shots] in a short window, those inflammatory responses could limit the ability of the immune system to generate a boosting immune response,” Professor Drummer said.

The second theory has to do with the make-up of the AstraZeneca viral vector vaccine, which uses a harmless chimpanzee adenovirus to deliver DNA into our cells.

The vaccine contains a viral particle which has the gene for the spike protein, and adenovirus particles are present on the surface of the particle.

Professor Drummer said it was possible our bodies were making antibodies to those surface proteins.

“That means when we get the booster shot, if we get it too soon after that vaccination, the antibodies that we made for the adenovirus protein actually get rid of the booster dose,” she said.

“So it doesn’t get the opportunity to deliver the spike protein into the cells and for you to then deliver the second round boosting immunity.”

High level of protection between doses

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What to expect from the COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Researchers also found the first dose offered 76 per cent protection in the three months between jabs, meaning people have high coverage while waiting for their second dose.

“Often we have, when two doses are required for full protection, there might be a lower level of partial protection in the middle,” Professor McVernon said.

“But over that time window, we know that that first dose of the vaccine will work well.”

The findings in The Lancet are also backed up by a real-world study out of Scotland.

That research, which is yet to be peer reviewed, examined the effectiveness of the first dose of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines in a national study of about 5.4 million people.

It found a single dose of either vaccine “resulted in substantial reductions in the risk of COVID-19 related hospitalisation”, but AstraZeneca outperformed Pfizer.

One shot of the Pfizer option was 85 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation at 28-34 days post-vaccination, whereas one shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine was 94 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation in the same interval.

“They’re both almost equally as good as each other at preventing hospitalisation and even symptomatic mild to moderate COVID.”

Professor McVernon said the study in Scotland showed both vaccines were achieving similarly high levels of effectiveness and that early concerns about AstraZeneca’s efficacy rate “don’t seem to be playing out in reality”.

‘Still learning’ about adenoviral vaccines

Professor Drummer said the research showed Australia was on the right track with its vaccination rollout.

Both AstraZeneca and Pfizer’s vaccine candidates use new technology: the former uses a viral vector, and the later uses messenger RNA (mRNA) encased in a lipid layer, which, until recently, had not been approved for use in a human vaccine.

Professor Drummer said there would be more research about both options in the months and years to come, and that could inform future vaccination programs.

“Adenovirus vaccines are very new and we’re still learning,” she said.



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Study finds dummy-allergy link


The Barwon Infant Study compared dummy use and cleaning methods among six-month-old infants and those with a confirmed food allergy at one-year-old in more than 700 participants.

The research found no increase in risk of food allergy at one year of age among dummy users when the pacifier was washed in tap water, boiling water, put in the parent’s own mouth or not washed at all before being given to infants at six months of age.

“This research should not discourage the cleaning of dummies, as this is a vital step in keeping a child safe from the more immediate risk of infectious diseases,” Ms Soriano said.

“There is also no evidence from this study that cleaning dummies by other methods is harmful.”

With food allergies often causing life-threatening anaphylaxis and affecting up to 10 per cent of infants, more research is required to understand how to prevent allergies, according to Ms Soriano.

Pacifiers are a source of microbial exposure in early life, according to study’s authors.

A Swedish birth cohort found infants whose parents sucked their pacifier had reduced food sensitisation, asthma, and eczema at 18 months compared with infants whose parents used other cleaning methods.

The Geelong-based research’s authors also cited another study finding lower total immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels in children 10 to 18 months if mothers reported sucking the infants’ pacifier.

High IgE levels can be a sign that the body overreacts to allergens.

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NT Electoral Commission audit finds $88,000 discrepancy in CLP financial disclosures


The Country Liberal Party failed to report almost $90,000 in electoral donations by the required deadline, an audit commissioned by the Northern Territory Electoral Commission (NTEC) has found.

The NTEC has published a report on compliance with the NT’s new election donation and expenditure regime, which became law last January and was enforced on a “transitional” basis for the August 2020 election.

The audit, conducted by an accounting firm, found a discrepancy of $88,346 between the CLP’s electoral disclosure returns published on the NTEC website and receipts in the party’s accounting systems.

The review said the CLP’s accountant excluded receipts with values under $1,500 dollars, when the law required the total of all receipts to be reported.

CLP president Jamie DeBrenni told the ABC the party responded to the NTEC soon after the report’s publication on Thursday afternoon, to give it the information it required.

“As of this afternoon, the CLP has fulfilled all the requirements asked for by the NTEC to their satisfaction and we thank them for working with the party in a courteous way,” he said.

“These are new processes that everyone is working with and all organisations seem to be doing the best they can to comply.”

A spokesman for the NTEC said it had received the CLP’s revised figures and the website would be updated to reflect this.

The changes to the NT’s electoral donation and expenditure laws include an expenditure cap of $1 million dollars for political parties with 25 candidates and a $40,000 cap for individual candidates.

There is also a requirement to set up and operate a campaign-specific bank account to ensure transparency around donations and expenditure.

Overall, the NTEC audit found there had been a “satisfactory” level of compliance from political parties and candidates with the new rules.

Third-party spending a threat to transparency

But the auditors recommended the NTEC push the NT Government for a third-party campaigner spending cap to ensure transparency.

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The NTEC’s auditors have urged it to push for a cap on third-party campaigner spending at elections.(

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Third-party campaigners in the NT have included organisations like unions, environmental groups, GetUp and the Friends of Fannie Bay group.

“There is no limit on what the third-party campaigners can spend in respect of electoral activities during the election period while there is a spending cap of $40,000 on candidates,” the audit report said.

There is currently no requirement for third-party campaigners to keep separate bank accounts so the NTEC’s auditors had trouble identifying their expenses.

The auditors noted that despite requests they could not get any information from the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union for the purposes of the review.

“As a result, we are unable to determine the accuracy and completeness of the figures disclosed in the disclosure return lodged with the NTEC and whether the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union has complied with all its obligations under the Electoral Act,” the report states.

Confusion about electorate office resources

The review also found confusion among different party candidates about rules that prohibit the use of electorate office resources during an election campaign period.

“An instance was encountered in which the sitting member mentioned that there were insufficient guidelines to follow in relation to the utilisation of electorate office resources during the deemed election period,” the report said.

More education for sitting members about these rules was needed, the auditors said.

Labor needed a better process for refunding self-funded candidates promptly, according to the review, but was the only party that kept track of volunteer activity with a register.

The review noted the NT Greens set up a campaign bank account only in July 2020, about a month before the election, and that the account had also been used for non-election transactions.

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Questioning of sexual assault victims during trials ‘worse’ than in the 1950s, criminologist finds


Criminologist Andy Kaladelfos is blunt in their assessment of how Australia’s justice system deals with sexual offences.

“It is demonstrably not working in every way,” they said.

The University of NSW researcher has watched the issue of sexual assault and the harassment of women dominate news and politics in recent weeks.

Now, they are calling for a “wholesale re-evaluation” of how the justice system itself handles these crimes.

Dr Kaladelfos wants lawmakers to address the reasons why nearly 90 per cent of sexual assault victims don’t engage with the justice system.

They said the experiences of victim-survivors who do go through the court system also needed to be examined.

They are concerned trials have become so “awful” for victims, the justice system itself is deterring some people from reporting sexual offences to police.

It’s a sentiment echoed by sexual assault victims and victim advocates across Australia, but often not shared by those working within the justice system.

Law lecturer Roman Fida teaches at Victoria University and also runs his own legal practice where he works as a criminal defence lawyer.

He has concerns about how sexual assault complainants are treated during trials, but views the performance of the justice system differently.

“It is a criminal justice system within a liberal democracy and with that comes a lot of protections, particularly for the accused,” he said.

Victorian barrister Fiona Martin spent nearly a decade as a prosecutor specialising in sexual offence trials, and now takes on criminal defence work.

She said sexual assault trials needed to consider the fairness of the trial process for both the complainant and the accused person.

“It is very much a balancing act between making sure victims are not unnecessarily traumatised through the process, but balancing the right of an accused person to put forward his or her case,” she said.

She believes the courts do have the balance right.

Dr Kaladelfos has spent years researching the way adult and child sexual assault victims are questioned during criminal trials.

In 2017, they and their colleagues published a study that compared the questioning of adult sexual assault complainants in contemporary trials, to trials run in the 1950s.

The researchers wanted to know if decades of law reform had improved the way victims were being questioned while giving evidence.

“We were expecting to find an improvement now, 70 years on,” Dr Kaladelfos said.

In that study, the researchers compared historic transcripts from NSW to contemporary transcripts from New Zealand, because the academics found “contemporary Australian transcripts are subject to access restrictions that make research untenable”.

Dr Kaladelfos acknowledged this could be a criticism of their research, but said New Zealand was chosen because of its similar legal system and history of sexual assault legal reforms.

Dr Kaladelfos and their colleagues used historic and contemporary trial transcripts from within Australia for later studies, where they examined the questioning of child victims in sexual abuse cases.

Much of Dr Kaladelfos’ research has focused on cross-examination — it’s the part of a criminal trial where a defence lawyer questions a witness.

It’s a key part of a sexual assault trial, because it is where defence lawyers are able to test the evidence or allegations against the accused person.

But it is also the part of a trial many victims find most difficult to get through.

Dr Kaladelfos said their research raised issues about the breadth of questions put to sexual assault victims during cross-examination in contemporary trials.

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Most people fail on their New Year resolutions, finds study


Joondalup [Australia], March 25 (ANI): The findings of new research by Edith Cowan University (ECU) has found that despite having the best intentions, within the first month, most people give up on their New Year resolutions.

The study also revealed that approximately half the people surveyed had the same, or nearly the same, resolution as in the previous year, and more than half of the resolutions listed focused on either diet or exercise.

The research, led by ECU Associate Professor Joanne Dickson, investigated personal goal factors that predicted greater wellbeing and sticking with one’s most important New Year resolution over time. Around 180 Australian and UK participants took part in an online survey over a two-month period. The average age of participants was 37 years and ranged from 18 to 77 years.

– Two-thirds of participants gave up on their New Year resolutions within the first month.

– Just over half the participants pursued the same (or similar) resolution as in the previous year.

– More than half of the resolutions focused on either diet (29 per cent) or exercise (24 per cent).

– Approximately two-thirds (64 per cent) of the listed resolutions were described as ‘general’. A general resolution referred to an overly general or vague resolution (e.g. to get fit).

– Flexibility around achieving goals significantly predicted greater wellbeing over time.

– Goal tenacity (being persistent) did not predict wellbeing over time, nor the ability to stick to one’s most important New Year resolution.

-No significant gender or age or country differences were seen.

Despite participants reporting a strong commitment to their most important New Year resolution and a belief that they would succeed, about two-thirds of participants gave up within one month.

Professor Dickson said this might be because many of the participants set general resolutions like they wanted ‘to get fit’ or ‘exercise regularly’ rather than setting specific resolutions and plans.

“An example of a specific resolution might be — to go for a 40-minute walk around the lake with my friend Sam on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings,” Professor Dickson said.

“Previous research has shown that setting specific goals that include a time, place, and/or people provide the mental cues to assist people to stick to their resolution goals.

“General goals or resolutions also require more thinking time, making them harder to stick to than goal resolutions that have a plan.”Professor Dickson said it was possible that people gave up pursuing their New Year resolutions because they were not associated with more meaningful underlying goals and values.

“The resolution to lose five kilos will more likely endure in the face of obstacles, difficulties or other competing resolutions if it’s linked to higher personal values, such as beliefs about one’s health or appearance,” Dickson said.

“Our study also found that the ability to flexibly adapt one’s resolutions in response to changing situations or obstacles was positively associated with increased mental wellbeing. Whereas the ability to stick to a goal did not increase mental wellbeing or sustained resolution pursuit.” (ANI)

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