Survivor of serial sexual abuser James Geoffrey Griffin calls for national review


A victim of a nurse who preyed on and abused sick children in the Launceston General Hospital has called for a national review into how that abuse was allowed to continue for more than 10 years.

An internal investigation by Tasmania Police into why action was not taken sooner when complaints were made about nurse James Geoffrey Griffin has found officers missed multiple opportunities to apprehend him.

The Tasmanian government has ordered an independent investigation into how the Tasmanian Health Service, Department of Health and other relevant government agencies handled allegations about Griffin. That Commission of Inquiry is expected to start next month.

But Keelie McMahon, who alleges Griffin first abused her when she was 14, says a national review of what took place in Tasmania is needed.

“I think now knowing the Australian Federal Police knew about this, it needs to be national, there shouldn’t just be Tasmania, it needs to be looked at,” she said.

Griffin worked as a nurse at the Launceston General Hospital.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Lawyer Kim Price said the deficiencies uncovered by the internal review of Tasmania Police’s investigation of Griffin had horrific consequences.

“The report really only scratches the surface as to what we know and what we suspect has occurred at Launceston General Hospital,” he said.

His law firm Arnold Thomas and Beckett is representing 10 people who say they were abused by Griffin.

“Far fewer young women would have been abused — Griffin would have been, should have been, stopped really no later than 2009 and that’s about 10 years before he was eventually exposed,” Mr Price said.

“Almost all of our clients were unfortunately abused after 2009 and disappointingly the actions of either the hospital and or Tasmania Police have contributed to, we say, the abuse that our clients have suffered.”

Angelique Knight said Griffin sexually abused her for years, starting when she was a 14-year-old patient at the Launceston General Hospital.

Last year, she tried to make a statement to Tasmania Police but was turned away because Griffin had taken his own life in October 2019.

She was distressed to learn Tasmania Police received reports about Griffin’s behaviour as early as 2009.

“I was very hurt by this. So many victims might not have been victims in that time,” Ms Knight said.

“Yes, I know they said sorry, but it doesn’t actually help the situation when this should have been dealt with all those years ago.

“When I first found out it wasn’t just me and I wasn’t just special, I was a victim, I was a complete mess … I think I was in shock that this went on for so long of my life, let alone before that; I didn’t see it, I didn’t believe he was this monster. He fooled me and everybody,” Ms Knight said.

A woman wearing a beanie and a black shirt sits in front of a book shelf looking at the camera.
Angelique Knight says she was sexually abused by nurse James Geoffrey Griffin.(ABC News: Peter Curtis)

Another victim, who does not want to be identified, said Griffin began abusing her when she was a 16-year-old patient.

She said trying to live with the abuse is harder, knowing it could have been prevented if the hospital or police had acted earlier.

“It makes me feel like everything that’s happened to myself and other victims could have been avoided — they just allowed a predator to keep working in an environment and keep living a life like normal, even though he’s taken so much of our lives,” she said.

“It makes me frustrated and angry and I just get so upset about it because the amount of traumas that has happened in my life as a result of his abuse, it could all have been avoided and I could have done so much more.

The LGH Community Support Group’s Sallyann Geale is among those demanding full transparency from police and government in all future investigations of misconduct in public institutions.

“So that when things arise for people in the community, the departments that are meant to be serving them, are out there putting the people first,” Ms Geale said.

Launceston General Hospital community support members standing outside.
Launceston General Hospital Community Support members Sallyann Geale and Rosemary Armitage say community members want a full and transparent investigation.(ABC News: Laura Beavis)

Launceston MLC Rosemary Armitage has been contacted by many hospital staff members distressed by the latest revelations.

“I’ve also had contact from some doctors just generally saying that they actually have some guilt from having put some patients in the ward, and not realised what was happening,” she said.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian branch secretary Emily Shepherd welcomed Police Commissioner Darren Hine’s pledge to do better.

“I think that just reaffirms the need for the Commission of Inquiry so that all government agencies can work better together to ensure that children in Tasmania are protected,” she said.

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Festival review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream


The light aspects of its story, with mishaps and a play-within-a-play, offer desirable if temporary relief from some of the bad news that is about us these days. Griefs might be put aside for the three hours of a show that asks us what is dream and what is real while toying playfully with ideas of love and desire, albeit quite repressed.

Two obvious aspects of a staged operatic performance demand attention. Firstly, of course, the sound – voices and music – and, secondly, the set. Armfield’s dog features in the play, incidentally, though in a non-singing role (a hit with the audience, nonetheless).

The young and well-credentialled US counter-tenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen plays Oberon, King of the Fairies. His singing is finely pitched and phrased throughout, though the choice of a counter-tenor for this role will possibly surprise some opera-buffs expecting something a bit more gruff.

Rachelle Durkin swishes elegantly in a long-trained gown, and her soprano is power incarnate. She has a stage presence well-suited to Tytania, Queen of the Fairies. Among the love-crossed humans, soprano Leanne Kenneally (as Helena) stands out with control and purity of tone.

Mark Coles Smith plays Puck, the narrating link rather than a singer, who acts as the energetic and engaging sprite serving Oberon. And with mostly acting rather than singing in mind, the Mechanicals are a pleasure to watch, especially when the human characters converge at the end. Warwick Fyfe as a weaver and, importantly, as the magic-afflicted Bottom earlier on, is a booming comical character in this group. Teddy Tahu Rhodes (Theseus, Duke of Athens) and Fiona Campbell (Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons) also feature here.

Photo: Tony Lewis / Adelaide Festival

Paul Kildea conducts the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, with the Young Adelaide Voices (as the Chorus of Fairies). The score is full of abrupt ta-da embellishments as if to ensure the listener will not miss a humorous line or to draw attention to a bit of slapstick. In that respect, it could be almost vaudevillian, the musical equivalent of a flourish in a magic show, and is a reminder of the play’s origins as a fun piece performed in the round to an audience of all kinds. The Chorus of Fairies adds vital atmosphere. Directed by Christie Anderson, their choreographed movements, voices and costumes are “enchanting”.

The set evokes a submarine world as much as a fairy dell. Constantly billowing plastic is a distraction, though it has immediate value on occasions when characters need to hide. It is meant to suggest the moving layer between worlds of dream and wakefulness. The backdrops are well-made, if lacquered in appearance. The whole effect is a bit too much of a green shower curtain rather than a natural world.

Oberon’s constant form of transport (no spoiler) is intriguing, too. The logic of it makes some sense since it conjures qualities one might associate with a fairy, but it is cumbersome and draws attention from the singing.

Thanks are due to Damien Cooper for the way that shadows and light are used so effectively; it is carefully nuanced work.

The story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is often played with a more overt erotic edge than in this production, which is wink-wink / nudge-nudge in that regard. Why it should be so coy is hard to fathom, especially when true love and pairing off are at the heart of the plot.

Photo: Tony Lewis / Adelaide Festival

In the end, one has to ask whether this production is particularly novel and whether it is satisfying. The answer? While not especially compelling, the opera doubtless has some highlights. The singers are polished in performance and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen is memorable. On the other hand, casting a counter-tenor as Oberon prompted several querulous comments after the show.

Pitched as one of the big look-forward-to productions of the 2021 Adelaide Festival, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is indulgent and provocative. Maybe that combination is just what some opera buffs will relish.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is being presented again on February 28 and March 2-3 at the Festival Theatre. It is a co-production with the Houston Grand Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Canadian Opera Company and Adelaide Festival, in association with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Read more Adelaide Festival stories and reviews  here.

 

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Tasmania Police took years to charge alleged paedophile nurse who worked with children, review finds


An internal review into how Tasmania Police handled its investigation into an alleged paedophile nurse has revealed the police were told of allegations he was abusing children as early as 2009.

It took another 10 years for police to charge James Geoffrey Griffin, and only after a complaint was received by an alleged victim.

Even after police received the formal complaint, it took from early May until the end of July for his workplace, the Launceston General Hospital, to be informed of the allegations.

The review revealed the agency received information about potential child abuse in relation to Mr Griffin in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.

The first report to police came from an interstate police agency alleging Griffin had taken photos of children in a public place.

Police investigated that report by executing a search warrant and speaking to Griffin, but found no evidence of an offence.

Tasmania Police’s review found it handled those allegations appropriately.

The 2013 report related to allegations of “inappropriate touching and grooming behaviour” by Mr Griffin.

Police referred the matter to child protection, who spoke to Mr Griffin and the alleged victim.

Both denied the allegations, so the file was closed and police took no further action. Police did not speak to Mr Griffin nor the potential victim.

The 2015 report related to a referral from the Australian Federal Police related to Griffin and sexual offending and child exploitation material.

“Deficiencies in the management of this information by Tasmania Police have been identified and are the subject of a current Professional Standards investigation that relates to the Police Service Code of Conduct,” the review said.

As a result of the internal review, Tasmania Police said it had now implemented a specialist investigative and policy team to improve processes and procedures related to investigations into child sex abuse.

Mr Griffin took his own life in October 2019 after being charged with multiple child sex offences.

Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine apologised to Mr Griffin’s alleged victims for any harm caused by the deficiencies identified in the report.

“I think this has fallen short of everyone’s standards, we need to make sure we continue to learn and evolve in relation to these matters.”

Commissioner Hine said he wanted to reassure victims they could safely come forward and that their “matters will be pursued”.

The report identified problems in information sharing across agencies, particularly with the Department of Communities, and called for a review of investigative guidelines of child sex offences.

Premier Peter Gutwein said the government would provide an addition $1.5 million in funding for a historic complaints’ review process lead by a specialist team within Tasmania Police, looking particularly at police and Department of Communities files.

“My expectation is that no stone be left unturned,” Mr Gutwein said.

‘The voice of victims matters’

Mr Gutwein also apologised to survivors of child sex abuse “where any agency may not have handled information appropriately”.

“The voice of victims matters, it truly does, and any victims of child sex abuse, whether historic or contemporary, need to know that they can come forward, and that when they do, they will be heard and appropriate action will be taken.

The report won’t be made public before the Commission of Inquiry into child abuse in the state service — Tasmania’s version of a royal commission – gets underway later this year.

The Government announced the Commission last year and since then 14 state service employees have been stood down over historical allegations of sexual abuse.

Some questions from the media would not be answered by Commissioner Hine and Mr Gutwein because they said they didn’t want to prejudice the commission’s proceedings.

“We are being as open and transparent as we can; on legal advice we cannot provide more information other than the Outcomes Report without prejudicing the Commission of Inquiry or identifying victims,” Commissioner Hine said in a statement.

“It is essential that the Inquiry is not impeded in its full examination of all matters.”

There is also a continuing internal police investigation around how information was dealt with, but Commissioner Hine wouldn’t be drawn on the number of people involved in that because it is ongoing.

Mr Gutwein said this report was a starting point for a lot more improvements and a lot more shocking developments.

“In terms of the commission of inquiry, Tasmanians needs to brace themselves, I think there will be a range of matters brought forward that will concern and shock Tasmanians.”

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Morrison makes mockery of environment law review with latest legislation – 16 News


The Morrison Government’s latest attempt to weaken Australia’s environmental laws completely ignores their own expert’s recommendations and will lock in the demise of our wildlife and iconic natural places, the Greens say.

Greens Environment Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:

“This move by the Morrison Government is a death sentence for Australia’s koalas and wildlife.

“The Morrison Government has blatantly ignored their own expert’s recommendations and is instead taking a chainsaw to environmental protections.

“They have absolutely no intention of reversing the unsustainable environmental trajectory Professor Samuel warned about in his once-in-ten-year review. They haven’t even bothered to respond after more than 100 days sitting on the final report.

“The Morrison Government’s only plan is to weaken environment laws to make it even easier to mine, log and pollute.

“This latest bill is a push to satisfy big miners, big developers and big polluters who donate to the Liberal party.

“We need strong environmental standards and laws that protect our iconic natural places and precious wildlife and an independent watchdog to hold governments and corporate interests to account. This bill doesn’t even get close to delivering that.”

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Fringe review: Disco Wonderland – InDaily


Disco Wonderland: Dancing ’Til Dawn is heralded by its creators – local boutique company Release Creative – as a celebration of New York nightclub Studio 54 and all the glamour, hedonism and celebrity associated with the “short-lived temple of disco”.

Entering the Peacock tent in Gluttony with a small week-night audience, the usual frisson that accompanies Fringe shows like this seems absent, but as soon as the music begins and the lighting wizard bathes the stage in a purple haze, everyone is on board the disco train.

Headlining the show are singer and former Australian Idol finalist Paulini (most recently seen on Channel 10’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here) and singer and dancer Timomatic (you might remember him from Australia’s Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance). They’re joined by South Australian singer-dancers Philippa Lynas, Mark Stefanoff and Amelia Sanzo, along with local band Er@ser Description.

There’s charisma and vocal talent aplenty on display as the cast deliver a string of ’70s hits, from “I Will Survive”, “Stayin’ Alive” and “That’s the Way (I Like It)”, to a raunchy mash-up of “Love to Love You, Baby” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”.

Highlights include Paulini’s powerhouse rendition of “MacArthur Park” and a Jacksons medley by Timomatic that showcases his impressive falsetto. Equally noteworthy is Stefanoff’s ability to sing while performing on an acrobatic ring hanging from the ceiling.

Photo: Saige Prime

If that’s not enough to make you want to join the party, Disco Wonderland also features some sexy disco dancing (choreography by Brendan Yeates) and an array of sparkling costumes including hot pants and sequin-covered gowns, mini-dresses and ankle boots (the latter worn, fittingly, by Stefanoff, who starred in the musical Kinky Boots).

The only thing lacking, on this night, was audience mass. This is a show that deserves a full house, and having a larger crowd to absorb and reflect the performers’ energy would add to the atmosphere, so hopefully word-of-mouth will see the numbers grow.

COVID-19 times also means there is no dancing off-stage – except for a bit of “YMCA” in the comfort of your socially distanced seat. Still, there’s nothing to stop you digging out your own mirror ball and disco records and dancing ’til dawn when you get home.

Disco Wonderland is playing in Gluttony until March 21.

Read more Adelaide Fringe reviews and previews  here.

Photo: Saige Prime

 

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Cricket: India vs England, Jonny Bairstow wicket, review, lbw, video, score


England batsman Jonny Bairstow has been grilled for reviewing an lbw dismissal that was clearly smashing into his stumps against India on Wednesday (AEDT).

England was reeling at 1-2 when Bairstow walked to the crease in the third Test of the series at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, after Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat.

On the ninth ball the England No.3 faced he was hit on the front pad by Indian spinner Axar Patel.

It was Patel’s first ball of the match, and the Indian team confidently appealed and Bairstow was given out by the umpire.

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Covid Medical Network doctors group under TGA review after endorsing hydroxychloroquine


The national health watchdog is investigating a group of Melbourne doctors after unapproved COVID-19 treatments were endorsed on their website.

The Covid Medical Network (CMN), which rose to prominence last year after hundreds of doctors signed its open letter criticising Melbourne’s second lockdown, has advocated for hydroxychloroquine to be used to treat the virus.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has banned Australian doctors from prescribing the drug to combat COVID-19, and the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce has previously said hydroxychloroquine does not reduce mortality or improve recovery times from COVID-19.

The regulator has strict regulations around false and misleading advertising, with its website stating civil offence breaches can draw fines of up to $1.1 million for individuals and $11.1 million for companies.

“The TGA issued a warning letter requiring action on 12 February. Significant changes have been made to the website and Facebook account,” a TGA spokesman said.

Material on the “Facts” section of the CMN website, labelled “Early COVID Treatments” has been pulled down, with administrators saying they had received “a formal cease and desist letter from the TGA”.

“They have construed the information to be a form of advertising. We are currently consulting with our lawyers and the TGA regarding how best to provide the information in a manner that would not reasonably be construed as advertising the medications associated with the safe and effective treatment of early COVID illness,” the website states.

The CMN’s company directors are listed as Melbourne doctors Eamonn Mathieson, Will Edwards and Mark Hobart.

A published letter from Dr Mathieson to Professor John Skerritt, the deputy secretary of the TGA, claimed the decision to prevent hydroxychloroquine being administered “may have directly contributed to the deaths of hundreds of patients”.

The CMN has posted several webinars with Federal Liberal MP Craig Kelly, whose touting of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin led the Prime Minister to tell the outspoken politician to heed expert medical advice.

On Monday, a staff member at Dr Edwards’s orthopaedic surgery practice told the ABC he had recently quit the CMN.

In an earlier Guardian Australia report, which revealed details of the TGA review into CMN, Dr Edwards said of hydroxychloroquine: “I am not sure that [it] is of great benefit”.

Dr Hobart said the group was “preparing a response to the TGA” and that it would be inappropriate to comment until the regulator’s findings were brought down.

The ABC has contacted Dr Mathieson for comment.

In a statement, a spokesman for the TGA said the prescription drugs ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine had not been approved in Australia to treat or prevent COVID-19.

“The safety and effectiveness of these medicines for COVID-19 has not been established, and the use of unapproved treatments may cause serious adverse events, or inappropriately delay patients seeking definitive clinical care,” he said.

“It is an offence under the [Therapeutic Goods Act] to advertise prescription-only medicines to Australian consumers.”

Earlier this month, the TGA issued a directions notice to former senator David Leyonhjelm after he promoted Ivermectin on his Twitter page. The posts were eventually removed.

The Covid Medical Network was formed during the height of Victoria’s long lockdown in 2020.

Several senior doctors, surgeons and other experts backed a letter from the group which described the Andrews government’s measures as “a disproportionate approach”.

“The imposition of isolation on the elderly and the vulnerable has caused a dramatic increase in mental health problems,” the letter stated.

However, the stance was not echoed by the Australian Medical Association, the peak professional body for doctors in Australia.

The AMA’s president said the Victorian Government’s restrictions were “based on sound medical advice, in the best interests of the nation’s health and the nation’s economy”.

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Peter Jackson review leads to AFL Indigenous Council shake-up


Appointing Vandenbergh – highly regarded by players for his work as Aboriginal programs director at Port Adelaide – is seen as a critical step in ensuring player voices are heard when decisions are made that affect Indigenous players.

Apart from improving the pathways for Indigenous talent, Vandenbergh will focus on developing career and leadership pathways for Indigenous players post-career, a key recommendation from Jackson.

The changes are the result of the Jackson review that AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan commissioned early in 2020 as the council entered its sixth year, and come a fortnight after Collingwood accepted the recommendations contained in the Do Better report, which found the Magpies guilty of systemic racism.

McLachlan received Jackson’s findings late last year and frustration was building among some players at the time it was taking for the report to be acted upon.

Apart from the personnel changes, Jackson, a former Essendon and Melbourne chief executive, recommended a raft of practical adjustments, including quarterly reports to the AFL commission, annual meetings between them and the council and better systems of accountability.

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The council will also be provided with resources to assist its governance processes and there will be further appointments made to the council this year aimed at improving connections to the community.

Milroy, a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia, became the first Indigenous person appointed to the AFL commission in late 2018, a key recommendation of the council under Briggs.

The long-awaited update of rule 35 – the AFL’s racial and religious vilification policy – and the league’s reconciliation action plan, which has not been updated since 2016, are expected to be finalised in coming weeks.

The revised racial and religious vilification rule is expected to be launched as part of this week’s first AFLW Indigenous round and in coming weeks the council will consider a review that Hosch and general counsel Andrew Dillon are preparing of the Do Better report.

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McLachlan said for action to occur Indigenous voices must be heard at senior level.

“We want more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and players at every level of our game and we want more Indigenous voices leading our game and guiding our game,” Mr McLachlan said.

“We can’t do that unless we are prepared to take the necessary steps to create an environment that provides not only greater opportunities, but greater protection against all forms of racism and discrimination on and off the field.

“We have to do more to understand the experiences and to take action, and we know that in order
to make change we need the AFL community, from the commission to regional clubs, all aligned
on the strategy to bring people to our game and to look after them.

“We know there is no finish line in the fight against racism and we know that we must continue to
take actions at all levels of the football community.”

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BOJ’s Kuroda tell Suga March review aimed at sustaining easy policy



FILE PHOTO: Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda wearing a protective face mask attends a news conference as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Tokyo, Japan, April 27, 2020, in this photo released by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

February 18, 2021

By Yoshifumi Takemoto

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s central bank governor said on Thursday he told the country’s prime minister the bank would conduct a review of its policy tools in March to ensure it can maintain ultra-loose monetary settings for a long period.

Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he also told Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga that the global economy appeared to be picking up, based on estimates issued by the International Monetary Fund.

“I explained to the prime minister the Bank of Japan would conduct a review (of its tools) to make its policy more effective and sustainable, and announce the findings at its March rate review,” Kuroda told reporters after meeting with Suga.

The BOJ governor and the prime minister hold meetings once every few months as a regular practice to exchange views on the economy and policy.

Kuroda’s comments about the review follow the BOJ’s December announcement that it would assess its policy tools in March as the hit to growth from the pandemic forces the central bank to maintain a massive and prolonged stimulus programme.

Kuroda said Suga did not have any particular comment on the BOJ’s March review and the two did not discuss the Tokyo Olympic Games.

He also told reporters that while service spending remains sluggish, Japan’s consumption was “picking up somewhat” and that exports and output were recovering to levels seen before the pandemic struck, Jiji news agency reported.

(Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto, Writing by Leika Kihara; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Sam Holmes)



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Another internal review just continues the cover-up – 16 News


The Prime Minister has asked his former chief of staff, now head of his own department, to investigate what Prime Minister’s office knew about an alleged rape of a government staffer, which The Greens say is just perpetuating the cover up.

“Every day, more damning information comes out about the involvement of the Prime Minister’s Office.  We need to get to the bottom of it.” said Senator Larissa Waters, Greens Leader in the Senate and spokesperson for women.

“Announcing yet another internal review is delaying tactic by a Prime Minister more interested in protecting himself and his office than telling the truth and ensuring that all women who work in politics are safe.

“The last time Mr Gaetjens reviewed conduct in the PMO, his findings were kept secret by dubious cabinet-in-confidence claims. The PM has given no assurance that this review will be any different.

“We need a comprehensive, independent review with public findings and recommendations that all side of politics and the public can have trust in.

“On Monday I’ll move a motion to establish an independent inquiry to find out who knew what, when, and what they did about it.  We owe it to survivors to make sure no one has to go through Brittany Higgins’ experience again.”

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