Threatening emails sent to more than 20 Sydney high schools, HSC exams thrown into turmoil


Police have launched an investigation into the origins of threatening emails, which disrupted more than 20 Sydney high schools today.

Students, teachers and staff from the schools were evacuated, and police conducted searches of the schools grounds, but say “no items of interest were found”.

“Unfortunately we’ve had more than 20 schools across Sydney impacted by the emails that were threatening bombs,” Education Minister Sarah Mitchell confirmed to the ABC.

Police said initial inquiries “suggest the threats are linked” and detectives from the cybercrime squad will lead the investigation into tracking down the source of the emails.

Schools across Sydney enacted emergency response plans.(ABC News)

It also interrupted some students who were sitting their Higher School Certificate exams.

“Obviously that’s incredibly distressing for any students who were impacted,” Ms Mitchell said.

“They will be able to apply to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for misadventure provisions, taking into account the fact that there may have been disruption to their exams,” she said.

“It’s a very serious matter and there are very serious penalties for those sort of threats, and police will investigate thoroughly.”

A spokesperson for NESA said the body was working with the school sectors to understand the impact of today’s events on both morning and afternoon HSC exams.

“No student will have to resit an exam,” Ms Mitchell said.



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Goulburn High School raises more than $500 for RSPCA | Goulburn Post



community, Goulburn High School, RSPCA

There’s nothing better than a delicious cupcake for morning tea. And even better when it’s for a good cause. Goulburn High School held another successful RSPCA Cupcake Day on Monday, raising more than $500. The fundraising event was held on October 26, with staff and students enjoying some sweet treats to raise money for the RSPCA. This is an event the school has held for many years now, with the money raised going to the local RSPCA via the Clinton Street vet. This year the school made $533. Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.

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Still no Cameron Smith decision as Ryan Papenhuyzen’s emotions run high after Melbourne Storm premiership


“I wouldn’t worry, mate,” Smith said.

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And with that, the debate about the 430-game superstar, who now must surely be considered the greatest of all time, will rage on.

As the rugby league world awaits official news on Smith’s playing future, the 37-year-old turned his attention to the Storm group which won yet another premiership on Sunday night.

Smith struggles to recall a tighter knit team.

“I don’t think so,” Smith said when asked if he had played in a tighter knit squad.

“It’s hard to compare, different teams from different years. And we’ve had some really close knit teams over my career at the club but given the situation we’ve been in this year – pretty much living in each other’s pockets for five months – it’s something very different and something we’ve never experienced.

Cameron Smith on the Melbourne Storm victory lap.Credit:Getty Images

“But we grew as a unit this year and there are connections in this team that we will have the rest of our lives. No matter where we are in this country or where we are in the world in the future, we will always have a connection to 2020 and the team that performed tonight.”

Clive Churchill Medallist Ryan Papenhuyzen was emotional just minutes before being awarded one of the game’s highest individual honours.

“I’m so emotional. Oh, wow,” Papenhuyzen said. “The whole day was just the unknown. You don’t know what’s going to happen.

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“You’re so confident in the boys but [Penrith] coming off 17 in a row, it’s the most butterflies I’ve ever had.

“These boys – we’ve done it so tough this year because back home, they’re doing it a lot tougher than we are. That’s unbelievable. I’m so proud of the boys and I never thought I could do one of these. We’ve done it.”

Papenhuyzen bought surplus tickets to the match for one reason.

“I made sure I bought heaps of tickets in a good section because you don’t know how many grand finals you’re going to play,” he said.

“I’m so happy [my family] are here. I wish I could go give them a hug. We’re going to celebrate alright.”

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The removal of First Nations children remains scandalously high


The forced removal of a child or children from their parents is indisputably one of the most traumatic events, with long-term effects.

The removal of a child from his or her family is a significant psychosocial hit. It goes straight to the validity of psychosocial identity. It can invalidate self-worth.

It hurts and for many this pain is unbearable.

Many children need to be supported to third-party care, however, the majority should not be removed and instead, their family supported through their vulnerabilities.

The high rates of child removals, of First Nations and Australian children, are scandalously even higher than reported.

Thousands of children removed from their biological parents or from their family-of-origin are not counted as out-of-home care children if they are permanently placed with a third-party, be it kin, other or adopted.

3% of Australia’s children have come to the attention of child protection authorities. This is incredibly high. Statistically, an Australian child is more likely to be removed by child protection authorities than to be diagnosed with any cancer or other major illnesses.

At least 16% of Australia’s First Nations children have come to the attention of child protection authorities.

From 1997, the year of the Bringing Them Home Report, to now, there has been a gut-wrenching catastrophic increase in the number of First Nations children removed from their homes by child protection authorities. 

It is a seemingly permanent painful national tragedy, but worst in Western Australia, which is Australia’s biggest remover of First Nations’ children. Currently, 56% of children in out-of-home care in WA are First Nations; who are 18 times more likely to be placed in out-of-home care than non-Indigenous children. 

Australia's invisible Indigenous left behind

This is a national crime and we would like readers to understand the magnitude in the national context and always remember that it is much worse the more west we go across this continent. It is twice as bad in Western Australia. By all reasonable accounts, Australia has the world’s highest rate of children coming to the attention of child protection authorities, one in 32. Dramatically, the statistic is one in six First Nations children.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as of 30 June 2019, 21,900 First Nations children were on care and protection orders. It is estimated that presently there are 24,000 First Nations children in out-of-home care.

Approximately 44,900 Australian children were in out-of-home care. Nearly half were First Nations children. In each of the last five years, there has been an incremental decrease of non-Indigenous children in out-of-home care, but significant increases in First Nations children removed.

Let us be careful with statistics. They can skew and mask the facts. The decrease in Australian children deemed as being in out-of-home care between 2017-2019 has increasingly come about as State and Territory jurisdictions have aligned with a new national definition of out-of-home care which excludes third-party parental responsibility orders.

Australia will continue to burn unless Indigenous voices are heard

Children on these orders are not considered as being in out-of-home care. If the third-party orders are included, the rates and total numbers of children not living with parents for child protection reasons, for both non-Indigenous and First Nations, would be higher. This is important to understand, and few do, in terms of the number of children removed from their biological parents or family-of-origin.

The system has degenerated into an institution focused on child removals. A Royal Commission could shine the light on such an oppressive institutional regime. Nationally, funding to child protection authorities exceeds $6 billion, but overall it is estimated State and Territory governments spend only 17% of this funding on family support services.

Governments must take responsibly for the catastrophic failure of the child protection system, for it is our Governments that have legislated the child removal and placement powers, one after another, since the late 1990s, all the while reducing social services. Systemic repair is long overdue.

The Western Australian Government has also gone the way of legislative amendments to strengthen placements away from the family-of-origin. Many of these placements will not be recorded as out-of-home care and child removals. It is a broken child protection system. If we do not speak up about a crisis that, in terms of numbers of children, has outstripped past generations, the future will condemn our generation as we condemn the past.

'Twiggy' refuses to rule out destruction of Aboriginal sacred sites

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, children from very remote areas are three times as likely as children from major cities to be removed from their families. Many First Nations communities have been denied an equivalency of infrastructure, including schools. They are excluded from the “Australian story”.

Twenty-three years ago, there was the release of the Bringing Them Home Report and one in five of Australia’s children were identified as living in out-of-home care. Today it stands at nearly one in two, and in Western Australia, more than one in two. More than two-thirds of Australia’s First Nations people who are incarcerated are individuals who as children were removed into out-of-home care.

Western Australia is the mother of all jailers of First Nations people and is indicated by the fact that one in 12 of First Nations adult males are presently incarcerated.

Western Australia’s only juvenile detention facility, Banksia, is thematic of the crisis. Four-fifths of First Nations children in this prison have been removed from their family-of-origin by child protection authorities.

We need to be truthful if we are to do better and fix systems that are not working and before it is too late for the children who depend on these systems.

Gerry Georgatos is the national coordinator of the National Suicide Prevention & Trauma Recovery Project. Gerry can be contacted at coordinator@suicidepreventionnationnal.com.au or you can follow Gerry on Twitter @GerryGeorgatos.

Megan Krakouer LLB is a Mineng Noongar woman from Mt Barker in Western Australia’s southwest. Presently, Megan is the Director of the National Suicide Prevention & Trauma Recovery Project and also works as a human rights legal practitioner for the National Justice Project.

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Financial advice in high demand but access far too restricted, costly


Adviser numbers are continuing to fall as new professional and educational standards come into effect. At the same time, the “advice gap” – those who want advice but are not receiving it – is growing.

Good advice is well worth the fees paid but not everyone needs full-service, comprehensive advice, where there is a formal financial plan and regular meetings with an adviser.

Many consumers just want a single piece of advice on a particular topic, such as what to do with the proceeds of an inheritance or whether they should contribute more to superannuation.

We are seeing a good example of how a simpler financial planning system can work with specific advice allowed to be provided to people considering accessing their super early under a COVID-19 financial hardship scheme.

Under the scheme, those who have had their hours of employment reduced by at least 20 per cent were allowed to withdraw up to $10,000 during the first half of this year. They are allowed to access up to another $10,000 before the end of this year.

In order to speed up the delivery of advice to those considering whether to access their super early, ASIC made a change earlier this year so that financial advisers need only provide a “record of advice”, instead of a more comprehensive “statement of advice”.

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The exemption for guidance on withdrawing super was also extended to registered tax agents, provided the person is already a client of the agent. And the advice fee was capped at $300.

Although it is a one-off exemption to cater for the special circumstances of the early access scheme, it would not have escaped anyone’s attention that it could provide a model for the future provision of limited advice.

Actuaries Rice Warner, in a report commissioned by the Financial Services Council, offers ideas for making advice more affordable and accessible.

Rice Warner recommends that advice be divided into categories depending on whether it is simple, complex or specialised, such as information on aged care or Self-Managed Super Funds. There would also be a “general information” category, which includes education, information and general advice.

The idea is that there would be less documentation required for the simpler categories of advice, which should help to drive down costs to make it more affordable.

Rice Warner also recommends some limited tax deductibility for the cost of receiving advice.

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Crown Resorts missed red flags of possible money laundering involving VIP high rollers, inquiry told


Crown Resorts chairwoman Helen Coonan has admitted the casino giant missed red flags of possible money laundering involving VIP high rollers.

Ms Coonan, a former federal Liberal senator, faced a second day of questions at the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) hearing on Tuesday.

She was quizzed on the company’s processes to detect potential criminal activity through its gaming business.

The ILGA is investigating if Crown is suitable to hold the licence for Sydney’s new casino at Barangaroo, after revelations it was allegedly turning a blind eye to money laundering by criminals who were flown into Australia by junket operators.

Financial crimes regulator AUSTRAC yesterday announced it was investigating Crown for potential breaches of Australia’s anti-money-laundering and terrorism-financing laws after revelations in the inquiry to date.

The inquiry has been told ANZ and Commonwealth Bank closed down accounts owned by Crown’s subsidiary companies, after suspicious deposits into the accounts for its VIP high rollers.

ANZ closed the accounts in 2014 while Commonwealth Bank closed accounts in 2019.

During questioning, counsel assisting Nicole Sharp asked why it took the board until August to consider an internal investigation into the allegations.

“Isn’t this simply a matter of too little, too late?” she asked.

“I think it’s better to be too late than not at all,” Ms Coonan answered.

She said Crown had formally engaged an internal review in January.

The inquiry is investigating if Crown is suitable to hold the licence for Sydney’s new casino at Barangaroo.(ABC News: James Carmody)

The inquiry was told Crown continued to partner with a number of junket operators up until this year, despite revelations some had connections to organised crime.

Evidence was tendered to the inquiry showing overseas businesses had deposited millions of dollars into a handful of patron accounts run by the casino for various high rollers, with little oversight of where the money had come from.

In 2016, one company was found to have deposited $31.8 million into 20 patron accounts.

Ms Sharp asked why the casino had not been keeping track of who was depositing the money.

“This does at least raise a red flag for the prospect of money laundering does it not?”

“I agree with you,” Ms Coonan answered.

Ms Coonan admitted the set-up should have had more oversight.

“I don’t think the magnitude of deposits are really the key, it’s the pattern and whether or not there are suspicions that should be triggering further inquiries,” she said.

In her closing remarks, Ms Coonan appealed to Commissioner Patricia Bergin for Crown to maintain the licence for the new Sydney casino.

She said the company would “respect” any recommendations expected in her findings and there were “lessons to be learned”.

“I have great regret that this inquiry has run the course it’s run,” Ms Coonan said.

“Sometimes you come out of these processes better than when you went into them.

“I certainly want to give you the assurance that as the leader of this company, I’m ready to stay the course and ready to ensure that what we see as the necessary changes are implemented and adhered to if given the privilege to be able to continue.”

The hearing continues.



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Challenge to Victoria’s tough coronavirus lockdown reaches High Court


The Victorian Government has been given until Tuesday afternoon to decide how it will respond to a High Court challenge to the state’s lockdown restrictions.

Mornington Peninsula hotelier Julian Gerner argues the stage 4 lockdown measures are unnecessary and disproportionate.

Mr Gerner owns a bar and restaurant in Sorrento and in an outline of submissions to the court said he was suffering ongoing mental health effects due to the restrictions.

The businessman has taken particular issue with the rule restricting movement to a 5-kilometre radius of residents’ homes.

“Mr Gerner is suffering the ongoing adverse effects upon his mental health of having his movement restricted, which, in his circumstances, amounts effectively to a state of confinement,” the court documents said.

Fast-tracked directions hearing in Sydney

At a fast-tracked directions hearing of the High Court in Sydney on Friday, Justice Virginia Bell was told the State of Victoria was still considering whether it would file a defence, a demurrer or both.

A demurrer is a form of objection that accepts the facts of the opponent’s case but questions the relevance or validity.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said the state is “well placed” to take significant steps on Sunday, where he is expected to map out the easing of some restrictions in the coming weeks.

Any easing in restrictions would likely play a key role in how the case is argued.

Justice Bell said if the state chose to demur, the matter could be listed before the Full Court as early as November 6.

She requested Victoria’s solicitor-general, Kristen Walker QC, file its demurrer “shortly after” the Tuesday hearing, if it decided to adopt that approach.

Mr Gerner’s legal team has asked the High Court to consider key questions around the constitution and residents’ implied freedom of movement within the state.

The main question is whether the Victorian lockdown directions are invalid because they “impermissibly burden” that implied freedom, and if not in whole, to what extent they are invalid.

Restaurants and bars are only able to offer takeaway services during metropolitan Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions.(ABC News: Ron Ekkel/File)

In their submissions, Mr Gerner’s lawyers said Victorians had been restricted in their movement since at least March 30 and highlighted that residents had been told varying dates for when the lockdown rules would ease.

“The determination of the lawfulness of the restrictions on movement imposed upon the 6.6 million Australians currently residing in Victoria is urgent,” the court documents said.

Mr Gerner argued the mental health effects had been worsened by his inability to trade at the beginning of what would usually be his business’s most-profitable period, impacting its viability.

He claimed the Victorian Government had publicly acknowledged the mental health impacts of the restrictions by announcing nearly $60 million for mental health services in August.

The submissions also quoted David Nabarro, of the World Health Organization, who said the body did not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of virus control.



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High seas adventure for South Australians one and all


Sailing through the night, standing alone as lookout on the bow of the One & All with 42 metres of two-masted, square-rigged brigantine behind you, it’s easy to let your mind slip back a couple of centuries.

This is how people used to travel, how Australia was first sighted by Europeans.

It is a clear night and the stars are no longer just fairy lights in the sky but markers by which to steer the ship; you count the frequency of flashes to identify the lighthouses, guiding you through the dark sea.

And then there is a moment of sheer magic, flashes of phosphorescence under the bow. Dolphins, so amiable at play during the day, now trailing streaks of lightning, five of six at a time, as they zoom past and under the ship. Both crew and passengers are equally entranced.

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

This is the sort of captivating moment that happens when you sail on the One & All, the tall ship built 30 years ago by volunteers, since then run by volunteers, a ship built for and owned by all South Australians. And, curiously, let slide off their radar in recent years, despite being one of this state’s most valuable tourism and youth training assets.

Officially it’s named STV One & All – a sail training vessel – and although that’s a valuable job it has performed successfully over three decades, it has perhaps distracted the general populace from the ship’s potential for more than that. And that’s about to change.

The One & All is owned by the state’s Department for Infrastructure and Transport, which has supported its expensive maintenance with $400,000 a year and paid the wages of two permanent crew, while the ship itself has covered its own operational costs of around $1.2 million a year.

Perhaps wondering why on earth it owns a ship (given that buses and trains are more its thing), the government last year told the One & All’s volunteer support group that this funding would cease in three years and they’d have to find other ways to meet the shortfall. A new volunteer board was formed with senior medico Professor Hugh Grantham as chair, advertising guru Andrew Killey joined the crew pro bono to work out a new marketing plan, and a new course was set to sail the One & All back onto Australia’s, not just our state’s, adventure radar.

For it really is an adventure to sail on the One & All, whether it be just a day sail or several nights aboard heading to Kangaroo Island, as in this instance, or to Port Lincoln, the Sir Joseph Banks Islands or regional excursions that are planned to gulf ports such as Robe, Ceduna and Whyalla.

We were fortunate. The weather, though bitterly cold, was calm and the winds were behind us, both sailing through the night to Kangaroo Island, eventually mooring just off Snellings Beach, and two days later setting off from Kingscote at midnight after a feast of a dinner cooked by the captain, Bill Walsh, back to Port Adelaide.

Four days, three nights, all meals, great company – in this case, 11 crew and nine paying passengers – terrific value at $1150. In these COVID-afflicted times, passenger numbers for overnight trips can rise to 15, while on day sails the numbers can rise to 45. Grantham, a former medical director of SA’s ambulance service and a professor at two universities, clearly a very useful chap to have on board, has ensured the ship has a state-approved COVID-safe plan.

All on board are divided into watches – port, starboard and middle – who take turns to sail the ship. The watch system is disorientating. You have dinner, sleep for three hours, then get up for a midnight to 4am watch, quite possibly in pouring rain on a heaving deck. Because the weather can become quite nasty, and the last thing anyone wants is to fall overboard, you’re strapped into a safety harness of cunning clips and buckles obviously designed by a Houdini-like escape artist.

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

You’ve been given a set of well-used but top-quality wet weather overalls and jacket if the weather turns sour and you get to do whatever tasks you’re capable of or feel comfortable with. You don’t have to go up the mast, though you can, and of course, the crew must when setting the square sails. The more conventional fore and aft sails – there are 12 sails in all – can be set on deck hauling on halyards and sheets.

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

You learn a new language – heads and poop deck are not what they sound like, blocks and belaying pins, buntlines, clewlines, rat boards and sheets. Not much has changed over 200 years.

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Below decks are the bunks, squeezy, curtained against the low red light left on overnight so the watches can come and go, divided into male and female sections with their own toilets and (very squeezy) showers. People who are 150cm tall, or short, will be very comfortable here. It’s surprising how quickly you adapt to all this. You have no choice.

The really important thing is what this does to the people on board. The COVID catchline was “we’re all in this together”, and it developed a few cracks. On board a sailing ship you really are all in it together and there can be no cracks. There is no place for egos or crankiness. Kids wearing hoodies and avoiding eye contact, says One & All executive officer Annie Roberts, soon give that up. After a few meltdowns – no phones, no screens, missing mum – they don’t want to leave the ship.

As well as being important when it comes to sail training for young people, it’s also part of the new course being set by the board as it attracts business and executive teams wanting to build a culture of teamwork and collaboration, especially as we recover from the COVID disruption. Any South Australian business or organisation wanting to reshape its corporate culture should consider this. It won’t fail.

Roberts says the current sailing schedule includes four youth voyages a year plus school education voyages, and a program for Navy cadets. That’s the usual stuff.

However, Hugh Grantham says they now need to at least double their sailing days. Already planned for November are several “recovery” day voyages for those hit by the Kangaroo Island fires – about 200 volunteers, residents and students who all had their lives turned upside down will get a day away from it all.

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Roberts says they’re in the early stages of planning voyages for defence force veterans, with a pilot event set for November: “We’re hoping to do two or three voyages a year,” she says. “We think the impact will be profound.”

“We’re looking to partner with regional tourism groups; we’re already going to Port Lincoln for the Tunarama Festival and looking to go to Wallaroo for the Cornish festival,” Roberts adds. “It’s about making sure the ship is available to all South Australians. There are 11 tall ships in Australia, only two of them are operational – and one of them is right here.”

Grantham, a sailor all his life who has adapted his professional career so he can spend more time on the One & All, says the rule now for the One & All is to say “yes” to everything – and then work out how to do it: “Nothing is off-limits – youth development, of course, but also ecotourism, marine education, corporate team building.

“This is what tall ships do,” he says. “They take a group of people who don’t know each other and then teaches them to do a complex task together. We’ve created a launchpad to do anything we want.”

Photo supplied

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Staff and students at a Sydney high school are ordered to self-isolate



Staff and students at a Sydney high school are ordered to self-isolate NOW after classroom coronavirus outbreak

  • Staff and students at a Sydney high school have been ordered to self-isolate 
  • A student at Oran Park High School in south west Sydney has coronavirus
  • Only Year 7 and Year 8 students had been at the school, which will be cleaned 

Staff and students at a Sydney high school have been ordered to self-isolate after a coronavirus outbreak.

A student at Oran Park High School in the south west of Sydney returned a positive test on Friday. 

Only Year 7 and Year 8 students had been at the school, which will be deep cleaned over the weekend. 

NSW recorded five new coronavirus cases on Friday, including one of community transmission, as restrictions ease around open-air concerts and outdoor dining.

Four of the cases reported on Friday are returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine, while one is linked to an existing cluster at Lakemba in Sydney’s southwest.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said a child and worker at the Great Beginnings childcare centre at Oran Park have also recently tested positive and would be included in Saturday’s figures.

‘I would ask anyone who is at that childcare centre to immediately isolate,’ she said.

‘A number of people would have been advised to isolate but we may be upgrading the advice for some of the casual contact at that childcare centre,

‘Public health will be reaching out to you immediately.’

Dr Chant said anyone who attended the A2Z Medical Centre in Lakemba between September 25 and October 2 should get tested.

Anyone who was at the centre from October 3-10 should get tested, isolate and monitor symptoms, she added.

The new Lakemba case is a household contact of a previous case, taking the cluster to 16.

Up to 500 people are now allowed to attend open-air concerts, as long as they stay seated and remain four metres apart.

Restrictions for outdoor dining venues have also been relaxed, allowing one patron per two square metres, as long as venues use an electronic QR code to record patrons’ contact details.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian flagged further easing of restrictions next week, depending on how case numbers go over the weekend. 

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