Embalming is vital in the funeral industry, but a lack of skilled practitioners is causing concern

Deanne Edwards spends a lot of time with dead people.

“It’s such a fascinating world,” Ms Edwards said.

“That’s my utmost thought the whole time.” 

After nearly a decade of working as a funeral director, she became an embalmer to help bring comfort to loved ones as they grieve.

Embalming is a procedure to sanitise, restore and preserve a body after death.

Ms Edwards has noticed a lack of embalmers in South Australia.(

ABC News: Lincoln Rothall


Ms Edwards was privately trained by a South Australian master embalmer and is hoping to one day become a qualified trainer.

After taking up the practice, she noticed there was a lack of embalmers in South Australia.

“There are just too many people who have retired, and not enough people to train new people or continue the practice as they get older,” she said.

A woman in red hair handles surgical equipment in a dimly lit room
Deanne Edwards said she had experienced the impact of a lack of embalmers in South Australia firsthand.(

ABC News: Lincoln Rothall


“There has been a situation where I have needed someone that has more qualifications than myself, but they’re not available.”

She said advances in refrigeration technologies and an increase in cremation had impacted the age-old trade.

But despite that, Ms Edwards said more people in the industry needed to take up embalming.

Training blocks need addressing

Australian Institute of Embalming board member Ian Warren said South Australia lacked embalmers.

“There is not a shortage of people interested in wanting to do the course … we would have two or three enquiries a week,” Mr Warren said.

“The issue is that you really need to be working in the funeral industry, and then working for a company that does embalm and has a qualified embalmer who’s happy to take on students and be their mentor.”

Bottles of surgical chemicals sit on a table next to a white and blue towel
Embalming is often required if a body needs to be sent overseas for burial or if there is a long delay between the death and interment.(

ABC News: Lincoln Rothall


He said some students may be required to complete up to 50 embalmed bodies with their mentor before they are allowed to work by themselves.

Mr Warren is also a chief tutor at Mortuary and Funeral Educators, which is one of two registered training organisations in the industry.

“We have not had any students [in Adelaide] for at least seven years, so there is a bit of an issue that’s probably unique to Adelaide.”

A man wearing a blue suit, tie, white shirt and glasses sits with hands folded looking at camera in a dimly lit room
SA/NT Australian Funeral Director’s Association president David Lawlor.(

ABC News: Lincoln Rothall


The president of the SA/NT Australian Funeral Director’s Association, David Lawlor, said embalming was still a key part of the industry.

“If someone is being repatriated overseas they would need to be embalmed,” he said.

“Or if there is a delay between the death and the funeral taking place then there would be a need to embalm the body.”

He agreed there wasn’t a huge uptake of new trainees in South Australia, but didn’t believe there was a shortage of embalmers.

“I think at the moment we’re OK but in the future, we need more students to come through as embalmers retire.”

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Experts call for changes to Australian ventilation standards in bid to pandemic-proof buildings

From Adelaide to Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, poor ventilation in medi-hotels has been blamed for coronavirus outbreaks and shutdowns across the country.

It has led to calls for national medi-hotel ventilation standards, with critics saying hotel quarantine is not fit for purpose.

But ventilation expert and University of Adelaide academic, Professor Geoff Hanmer, is going a step further.

He wants to see Australia’s National Construction Code (NCC) changed to reflect what he describes as “a stack of evidence” of aerosol transmission.

Professor Hanmer is part of the International Code Council’s pandemic task force — a global team of experts considering how building design can reduce the spread of disease.

He says the ICC is particularly worried about buildings that rely on doors and windows for fresh air.

“The biggest technical change that needs to be made is the way that we deal with naturally ventilated buildings. That’s most aged care facilities or schools,” he said.

“When people shut the windows because it’s cold outside, there’s no ventilation. And the level of ventilation reaches hazardous levels quite quickly.”

Professor Geoff Hanmer is urging Australia take a “precautionary approach” to building design.(

ABC News: Sara Tomevska


Can better ventilation stop coronavirus?

The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), which sets the NCC, is not convinced that changing ventilation requirements in buildings will stop the spread of COVID–19.

“At this stage, there is insufficient evidence to indicate that a change to the NCC is required or that there is in fact a technical solution available to this form of transmission,” a spokesman said.

The ABCB said it was monitoring research into the possible sources of contamination spread within buildings.

Professor Hanmer said there was already plenty of research suggesting COVID-19 was an airborne disease. 

“They’re just ignoring this problem until it becomes something which they can’t ignore any longer, which is, I think, exactly the opposite attitude that a regulator ought to have,” he said.

The chair of epidemiology at Deakin University, Professor Catherine Bennett, said aerosol transmission was evident, and action was needed.

“And yet we still saw cases, where the only explanation is that there is enough virus that’s staying suspended in the air for just long enough, for someone to walk in and pick it up.”

A head and shoulders shot of a smiling woman wearing spectacles posing for a photo.
Professor Catherine Bennett says aerosol transmission is evident.(

Supplied: Catherine Bennett


So, what now?

Some jurisdictions are already making changes.

In South Australia, a dedicated quarantine facility was set up after a state-wide lockdown was thought to have been sparked by poor ventilation at the Pepper’s medi-hotel.

A police car is parked in front of the Peppers Waymouth Hotel in Adelaide's CBD.
Peppers Waymouth Hotel in Adelaide was believed to be the source of the Parafield coronavirus cluster in November 2020.(

ABC News: Michael Clements


Tom’s Court Hotel underwent modifications to its air-conditioning and ventilation systems.

“The modifications included improved ventilation and fresh air supply to lobbies and corridors used by staff,” SA Health said.

It also required “good ventilation of all occupied areas,” and “no sharing of air from guest suites with any other areas”.

Professor Hanmer said good ventilation could mitigate the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID–19 and other diseases.

“The health of people in buildings which are well ventilated, particularly aged care, is better,” he said.

“The next time this happens when we have SARS-CoV-3, or perhaps a mutation of influenza, we need to be ready and precautionary.”

Do we really need higher standards in all buildings?

According to engineer Stephen Giblett, that is a multi-million-dollar question.

“Finances are always a factor,” Mr Giblett said.

Mr Giblett said designing buildings with flexible ventilation systems might be the way forward.

“You could actually enable greater filtration in specific circumstances, like a pandemic, and increase the amount of fresh air coming in, so that it just reduces the risk,” he said.

On the other hand, Professor Bennett hoped changing ventilation standards in a variety of settings could be a “legacy” of the global pandemic.

“I do think it’s something we should move to,” she said.

“I think it’ll be a combination of retrofit, but also setting codes for new builds, particularly for aged care, or for our quarantine centres … where we now really need to step up our ability to encode safety regulations.”

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Adelaide cardiologist Andrew Douglas McGavigan pleads guilty to possessing child abuse material

An Adelaide cardiologist has pleaded guilty to possessing child abuse material.

Andrew Douglas McGavigan, 48, appeared for the first time in the Adelaide Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing child abuse material.

Adelaide cardiologist Andrew Douglas McGavigan was arrested last year.(

Australasian Cardiac Outcomes Registry


He was arrested at his Hawthorn home on December 7.

At the time of his arrest, the Australian Federal Police said officers found child abuse material on McGavigan’s phone and records of communication between him and another person about engaging in sexual activity with children in Thailand.

The offences occurred between September and December last year.

Chief Magistrate Mary-Louise Hribal has committed McGavigan for sentence in the South Australian District Court. 

He will next appear in court in April.

According to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s website, McGavigan’s medical registration has been suspended.

An SA Health spokesperson said they were “unable to comment on matters relating to the employment of individuals or matters currently before the courts”.

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Port Adelaide Football Club picks a fight in Alberton back streets

The Port Adelaide Football Club and local council are pushing to expand the Power’s suburban base. Collette Snowden explains why some local residents are pushing back.

Once upon a time, Port Adelaide Football Club’s demand to take over the public reserve adjacent to Alberton Oval might have raised a ripple of complaint in the nearby suburbs. But times change.

Just as the Adelaide Football Club found its desire to relocate to the city parklands thwarted, PAFC’s plan for expansion to meet its commercial needs will not simply be accepted in silence, or without opposition.

Photo: Peter Thurmer

Gentrification and demographic changes, growing concern about the impact of urban infill and the lack of public green space, distrust of political processes, and increasing discontent with the corporatisation of sport, converge to make the proposal’s acceptance more complex.

Perhaps surprisingly, many local residents do not want to be told what is good for them by a football club.

Weak appeals to heritage by both the club and the Port Adelaide Enfield Council ignore the changing demographic characteristics of the residents, who are more inclined to care about the value of their own properties and their own quality of life than the wellbeing of a corporate sports team.

Port Adelaide Football Club HQ. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

And let’s not forget that PAFC already was gifted a third of the reserve for its administration building, gym, and player car park. Local residents begrudgingly accepted that development, but for many that’s more than enough.

The expectation that PAFC can build a full soccer pitch, a four-storey basketball stadium, and car parking for over 100 cars on the existing reserve without local opposition is based on a false assumption about local support for the club, and so is the claim that it is fully committed to community engagement.

I live close enough to the club to be concerned about the plan for the reserve, so I admit to more than a passing interest. Unfortunately, from my experience over 25 years, ‘community outreach’ by PAFC to the local community who are not club members, or local councillors, has been non-existent.

It also explains why having reached an agreement with the Port Adelaide Enfield Council, there was no engagement with the residents of Cheltenham who live in the Charles Sturt council area. Cynically, even residents whose properties share a border with Alberton Oval but who are in the Charles Sturt zone were not informed about the development.

While the approach to the proposed expansion of PAFC is troubling enough, there are other broader, more important issues to consider in understanding the plan for Alberton Oval, and the Port Adelaide Enfield’s council approach.

Green Space in Our Suburbs

The recent report on SA’s future by Deloitte sets a population target of 2 million for the state by 2027, arguing that to do that we must increase population density. For developers that means cramming as many dwellings as possible onto each block, without space for trees and providing little more than 3sq metres of balcony or courtyard space.

At the same time urban planners argue that increased population density requires sufficient nearby open public space for recreation, and more tree planting to offset the increase in paved areas. Despite grand strategic ‘greening’ plans, local councils do not make provision for this increased density through land acquisition, and neither does the State government, nor do they require developers to set aside sufficient land for larger parks and playing fields.

A report from the Conservation Council on Adelaide’s vanishing tree cover warns, “there is not enough available space on public land to replace what we are losing from people’s backyards”.

Photo: Peter Thurmer

Play Australia even has a 1000 Play Streets program encouraging councils to close residential streets for people to play in. It sounds worthy enough, but why is a country as vast as Australia unable to provide recreational spaces for its urban population within its suburbs and regions?

Health experts including Flinders University’s Professor Fran Baum also argue that population health requires sufficient open and recreational space close to where people live.

Adelaide’s parkland delusion

A major problem is that Adelaide has a delusion that it has abundant green and leafy space and plenty of parks.

This delusion allows sporting clubs and councils to encroach on open spaces because there are other spaces available. If that’s true, they should use them and leave existing spaces intact.

Paradoxically, while Adelaide is one of the most widely distributed urban centres, it has fewer public parks and less green space than other cities in Australia, and similar cities internationally.

The reality is that Adelaide has the second lowest amount of green space per head of population, with only Sydney having less, but we don’t have that harbour. According to the Nursery & Garden Industry Australia, Australian cities are also falling behind international standards in both accessibility to, and availability of open space.

What counts as green space is often part of transport corridors or necessary for flood mitigation, intersected by main roads, or difficult to access.  Local councils perform an auditing sleight of hand by counting every sliver of public land as green space, and equating ‘pocket parks’ and playing fields with open space parks.

Many public school ovals and playing fields have been sold for housing development by successive state governments, with little planning to provide similar facilities for the increased population that new suburbs require. This leaves sporting clubs looking for places to build pitches, courts, and amenities, and why they argue that open, green space is ‘empty space’.

Adelaide Football Club’s failed attempt to occupy the North Adelaide parklands was defeated partly because the Adelaide Park Lands Preservation Association is constantly vigilant and engages in never-ending battles to prevent further encroachment on the parklands. But it shouldn’t have to – they have a World Heritage listing, but apparently that’s not enough.

The fight over Alberton Oval is just the latest of a series of similar battles for space in Adelaide’s suburbs that often pit one set of community interests against another.

Photo: Peter Thurmer

Complaints about development are easily represented as ‘Not In My Back Yard’ protests, rather than a result of failure at state and local government level to provide public land for growth. So where exactly is that ‘growth mindset’ that the Deloitte report advocates?

Does it have to be this way?

Absolutely not.

The seizure of public open space is too often presented with the argument ‘there is no alternative’, and that juicy carrot of ‘local investment’ and ‘jobs’, not to mention ‘community development’ is dangled to sway public sentiment. Just say ‘jobs’ and ‘community’ a few times, and click your heels three times, and all opposition will magically disappear.

Seriously? Are South Australians so lacking in imagination and planning capability that we can’t find alternatives? Look at what happens elsewhere.

There are fewer sporting clubs with community roots as deep, and fan loyalty as fierce, as Liverpool Football Club, but it doesn’t have its training facilities and administration at Anfield – its ‘spiritual home’.  In November 2020, Liverpool FC opened new training and media facilities in a suburb a 15 minute drive away, replacing its existing training hub, a similar distance away.

While our local AFL teams seem incapable of operating in outer parts of the city, in North America, major league baseball teams have extensive training centres in other states, and even in other countries. The Toronto Blue Jays have trained in Dunedin, Florida for 40 years, and this year opened new facilities there.

Rather than thinking small, both Liverpool FC and the Toronto Blue Jays built facilities to meet their high-performance requirements and provide room for growth. Meanwhile, when presenting PAFC’s plan for Alberton to the Charles Sturt Council – in response to community pressure – it was clear that the current plan is inadequate for future needs even if it uses the reserve. And there never will be enough space unless they decide to raze half of Alberton.

When South Australia was founded it was with enormous optimism for its potential growth and development. Influenced by the Parks Movement that produced the great modern cities of Europe and North America, the plans for Adelaide included parks and gardens. Imagine London or Paris without their public parks, Berlin without Tiergarten Park, New York without Central Park.

The vision of cities for the future in the 19th century was open, positive and expansive. Are we now so bereft of imagination and understanding that we can’t manage to save a sliver of open space in one of our oldest suburbs, and also find space for footy training and a basketball court?

If we are not capable of doing that, we might as well give up on the grand plan to grow Adelaide now.

Dr Collette Snowden is a local resident

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Demand for Adelaide charity providing essentials for children rising week after week

A single mother of three boys, Donna knows what it’s like to need a helping hand in tough times.

Finding herself unexpectedly pregnant in her early 40s while grieving the deaths of family members, including her father, left her feeling overwhelmed.

“It was a surprise pregnancy, and then dealing with grief at the time I found out I was pregnant made it a bit hard to get everything organised like I did for my other children,” she said.

Adelaide-based charity Treasure Boxes delivered an array of essential items for her new baby, including a cot, clothes, toys and nappies.

The charity supports families facing hardship like poverty or homelessness, often as a result of fleeing domestic violence.

Its founder and CEO, Rikki Cooke, said demand for the services was increasing every week.

“We’re seeing an increase in demand on the street, domestic violence and homelessness rates are rising,” she said.

“Last year we saw an 88 per cent increase in domestic violence referrals through to us here at Treasure Boxes, we saw a 46 per cent rise in homelessness, and they do tend to correlate with each other.

“We’re finding the demand is just rising week after week after week, which is devastating when you think about how many families in South Australia really need some support.

“We know there are about 23,500 children living under the poverty line, but on the other hand, it’s fantastic that we’re recognising these families and we can do something about it.”

Donna and her children when the goods from Treasure Box arrived. (



Donations of essential supplies ‘priceless’

For recipients like Donna, the donations can be a lifeline.

“Everything’s so costly, and yeah, I think everyone’s struggling a bit, no matter where you are, so I think having services like this does really help a lot,” Donna said.

“You never know when you could be in that situation. So make sure you keep supporting organisations like Treasure Boxes, because I think if we didn’t have those, a lot of people and kids would miss out.

The volunteer-run, not-for-profit organisation is currently seeking donations of big items like cots and change tables.

“We always receive enough donations of things like clothing, linen, toys, nappies, which is fantastic because they’re the really high-demand items,” Ms Cooke said.

“But things that are also in demand that we don’t receive enough of are cots, and we’ll pass out between 10 and 20 cots a week, which means that there’s 10 to 20 newborns a week that don’t have a safe place to sleep.

“So things like cots, bassinets, baby capsules, change tables, we really need those all the time.”

A woman holding a wooden toy plane
Treasure Boxes founder and CEO Rikki Cooke.(

Facebook: Treasure Boxes


Another charity, The Hospital Research Foundation, provided a funding lifeline to Treasure Boxes when the COVID pandemic hit last year.

It has now provided a $65,000 grant to help the organisation meet demand.

“We’ve provided a grant in two parts, one is a partnership grant to ensure the business can thrive going forward and grow to meet its requirements in the community, the other is a new-start grant that helps young families, young mums particularly, who have nothing when their baby arrives,” the foundation’s CEO Paul Flynn said.

“There are organisations like Treasure Boxes that our community supporters like to see us getting involved with to ensure that we collectively make the biggest impact in the community that we can.”

Calls to pay it forward and donate

Donna is urging others doing it tough to seek support.

“Reach out, ask people for help, there’s no shame in asking for help, it’s more of a shame if you don’t,” she said.

Donna said the Treasure Box CEO dropped the items off at her house, because she does not drive.

The mother of three plans on paying it forward.

“I’ll be donating my stuff back when I’ve finished with it, I’ve already got bags of it, so we can donate back to them or pay it forward because that’s previously what I would have always done, pay it forward and donate my stuff.

“I have no hesitation in giving it back. I think other people should go, check out your sheds, and give back to Treasure Boxes and give it to the people, the kids that need it.”

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WOMADelaide 2021 to kick off as arts festivals ‘peek’ from under the COVID-19 shadow

A year ago WOMADelaide director Ian Scobie announced backstage that it could be the “last time we are all together” for some time.

By “we”, he meant the record 97,000 audience members and artists in attendance.

By “last time”, he was referring to pandemic restrictions that would begin seven days after the festival.

Twelve months later, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to prompt lockdowns across the world and put other festivals in doubt, Mr Scobie is a day away from opening WOMADelaide 2021.

“The arts everywhere were decimated,” he said.

“They have been the first to shut down and possibly the last to re-emerge and, in that sense, WOMADelaide is particularly lucky because we’re peeking out, as it were.”

WOMADelaide is part of a global circuit of six WOMAD festivals and, after being the second-to-last iteration of the festival before the world shut down, it will now be the first to reopen.

WOMADelaide director Ian Scobie oversees the final preparations at King Rodney Park.(

ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton


Festival reduced to one stage

But it has not been without compromise.

SA Health’s COVID-19 management plan meant WOMADelaide had to reduce the seven-stage festival to one stage with a maximum capacity of 6,000 audience members — all of which have to be seated in numbered, socially distanced seats.

“We quickly worked out that we couldn’t get that number of seats in that configuration in Botanic Park (where it has been located since 1992), because there would be too many trees in the way,” Mr Scobie said.

“We thought of Elder Park, but again, there was too many broken up sight lines with the rotunda and Torrens Lake.”

The team even considered Adelaide Oval.

“Adelaide Oval is a beautiful oval, but it is a completely enclosed sports arena and we really wanted something that has that heritage of WOMADelaide, and the sense of being in a parkland setting,” Mr Scobie said.

Two women dancing at Womadelaide.
Audience members will be allowed to dance, provided they do it in front of their seats.(

ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton


The team settled on King Rodney Park in Adelaide’s eastern parklands, where the festival would take place as a series of sunset concerts over four nights, or what Mr Scobie described as “25 per cent” of its usual size.

“It’s a new version of the festival, so that in itself is quite exciting,” he said.

He added that dancing would be allowed at the festival, but people could only do it directly in front of their numbered seats.

Archie Roach’s farewell

The festival still managed to attract some big names, starting with Archie Roach and Sarah Blasko on Friday night and finishing with Midnight Oil and the First Nations collaborators from its mini album, The Makarrata Project, on Monday.

“Starting with Archie Roach, and then having the Makarrata, is a really important spiritual bookend of what this festival has stood for, both culturally and also in terms of its politics, and how the arts can make a significant statement about where we are as a people and a nation,” Mr Scobie said.

“It’s also really poignant to have Archie Roach giving his farewell performance, as he performed at the first festival in 1992.”

Close up on Archie Roach singing into a microphone.
Archie Roach performs at the Boomerang festival in Byron Bay.(

ABC News: Nic MacBean


Other artists include Lior, Nigel Westlake and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Tash Sultana, Kaiit Waup and Miiesha.

The latter two were added to the bill to replace Sampa the Great, who in January cancelled shows in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney due to “changing border rules”.

It was symbolic of the issues facing the WOMADelaide team, who were faced with booking artists for a world music, dance and arts festival at a time when international travel was heavily restricted and state borders were closing at a moment’s notice.

Mr Scobie described the uncertainty as “terrifying”.

“Look at the Auckland Arts Festival — they were due to open on Thursday but Auckland’s gone into a seven-day lockdown,” he said.

A tall bald man sings into a microphone
Midnight Oil, with Peter Garrett, will perform Makarrata Live at WOMADelaide.(

Supplied: ATG Publicity


New Zealand festival cancelled

New Zealand’s WOMAD festival, which typically takes place shortly after Australia’s, as it did in 2020, this year will not be held at all.

Other festivals in Chile and Spain are yet to be confirmed, although a WOMAD festival remains scheduled in the UK for July and in November on the Canary Islands.

Colourful flags stand against a tree line
King Rodney Park has been adorned with some familiar trimmings from Botanic Park.(

ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton


Mr Scobie said Adelaide was “incredibly fortunate” to be able to proceed with the event, which is taking place in the middle of the Adelaide Festival and Adelaide Fringe — which itself last finished in 2020 on the eve of Australian pandemic restrictions.

“It’s really terrific and a great tribute to everyone involved, from all the health professionals, to the government listening to health advice and acting on it,” Mr Scobie said.

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Port Lincoln High School tackling sexual harassment reports ‘head-on’

Male and female students at Port Lincoln High School are calling for better leadership at the school following reports of sexual harassment and unwanted touching of senior girl students by some of their male peers.

It comes as women in Australia and the UK have started petitions calling on schools to include clear information around the issue of consent in sexual education classes.

Port Lincoln High School recently called an all-female students meeting following reports of male students directing sexualised comments and behaviour towards senior female students.

Principal Todd George said mental health foundation Headspace was engaged by the school to provide additional support to the students.

“We wanted to give female students this opportunity to get some really good up-to-date information both around the language that can be used in healthy relationships, but also some flagging points around potentially unhealthy relationships, and what can be said to try and support those students,” Mr George said.

A letter sent to parents said the sessions were designed to “give girls the necessary tools to be able to cope with unwanted attention and inappropriate behaviour when engaging with some of our male cohort”.

Mr George said the school would hold meetings with male students next week to address the issues raised by the female students.

a photos of a hand holding a school letter
A letter to parents details how the school is addressing reports of sexual harassment.(

Supplied: School parent.


‘She looked shocked and uncomfortable’

A final year Port Lincoln High School student, who did not wish to be named, said he had seen a build-up of bad behaviour since the beginning of his secondary school years, including charged sexualised comments towards, and unwanted touching of, female students.

“I was sitting on the senior floor when a guy from my grade came and sat next to one of the girls that was doing some study work and then proceeded to put his hand on her inner thigh which she didn’t ask for,” he said.

a school sign
A final year student says he’s witnessed unwanted touching of female students.(

ABC News: Evelyn Leckie


The student said he had been disappointed with the leadership at the high school.

“I’ve seen quite a number of female students go to these people [some of the staff], asking them for help, but nothing has come out of it — there’s been no change, no repercussions for the guys doing this stuff,” he said.

The student said the school held meetings about the behaviour reported, but he remained disappointed with the views of some of the staff.

A man ina  white shirt and brown tie speaks into a hand-held microphone
Principal Todd George says the school will run meetings with male students next week.(

ABC News: Evelyn Leckie


The school’s principal, Mr George, said there were robust structures in place to support reporting of — and responding to — inappropriate behaviour whether it related to students, staff or members of the wider school community.

“This is an issue that our school is confronting head-on.” 

‘Australia-wide issue’

A final year female student, who did not wish to be named, said the problems facing the school were not unique and were part of a broader societal issue.

“Why aren’t we teaching these [male] people that these behaviours are not OK in the first place?

“Every school in Port Lincoln has instances of sexual harassment, every school in Australia.”

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Former staffer speaks of sexual harassment in SA Parliament following damning report

*Emma was a contributor to the Equal Opportunity Commission report into the culture at South Australia’s Parliament.

She spoke to the ABC on the condition of anonymity. Names and political parties have been removed.

I was a junior staffer working in a political office when the sexual harassment began.

He was in his late 30s and held a senior party political role, I was 22 and just beginning my career.

We started off as friends and I appreciated his friendship and mentoring, but things soon changed.

He made the physical attention into a game, and would choose his moments, waiting until I was alone.

And as time went on, things got worse.

It stopped being once-off flirty moments and for the last 18 months it went far beyond flattering attention, it was full-blown sexual harassment.

He would approach me out of nowhere and catch me off guard and touch me or make really disgusting comments.

At one point I lost some weight and he commented on that to me and said I was “really bangable”.

On another occasion he commented on my dress and lamented that he couldn’t rip it off me later that night.

People thought in the office that we were sleeping together as he referred to me as “his bit on the side”.

We weren’t and his attention was not welcome.

There’s no human resources department in political offices

I started to report his behaviour up to my chief of staff, and my boss didn’t dismiss me, but he said he didn’t even know what to do with the information.

The office manager said there were very little processes in place to deal with harassment in political offices.

I was told to not let it get to me.

One day he approached me from behind and slapped me on the bum and I’d had enough —  I told him to never touch me again and that’s when the gaslighting began.

Later in my employment I discovered that the same person acted inappropriately towards several other women, but because no-one talked about it and we had no outlet to deal with it, he got away with it.

My problem was not that I couldn’t speak up about what was happening, but that there was no outlet through which to do it.

There was nothing in place to support me or my managers to deal with the situation.

There’s no human resources department in political offices.

And the fear of speaking up is more than the potential repercussions on your career —  it could affect something you fundamentally believe in — the political party that you work for.

Those values are not just a job, they are something you hold true to yourself and when you speak out, you speak out against your movement.

The Equal Opportunity review has offered some hope

I don’t let it get me down, but the allegations raised about sexual assault and harassment in Federal Parliament and the Equal Opportunity Commission review into sexual harassment in South Australia’s Parliament have certainly brought the memories all back to me.

I participated in the Equal Opportunity Commission review and I’m really encouraged by what it says.

Having clear guidelines and this behaviour called out is really important for stopping it.

It’s about giving people a clear pathway to deal with complaints.

And it’s about helping women speak out and raise awareness so that others can too.

Thank you for stopping by and reading this story involving the latest SA news items titled “Former staffer speaks of sexual harassment in SA Parliament following damning report”. This news update was presented by My Local Pages as part of our Australian news services.

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Magistrate under harassment investigation barred from sitting in court

EXCLUSIVE: A serving Magistrate who is under investigation by the Judicial Conduct Commissioner for alleged sexual harassment has been directed by the Chief Magistrate not to continue sitting in court while the inquiry takes place. 

Chief Magistrate Mary-Louise Hribal confirmed her decision in a statement to InDaily late this afternoon.

“As a result of a direction given by the Chief Magistrate, the magistrate who is under investigation by the Judicial Conduct Commissioner for alleged sexual harassment, will not be sitting in Court,” she said.

The statement did not say how long the investigation was expected to take or how long the Magistrate would be away from his post.

It comes after InDaily revealed yesterday that Judicial Conduct Commissioner Ann Vanstone had launched a preliminary investigation into allegations the Magistrate sexually harassed a District Court judge’s associate in 2018.

In an interview with InDaily, Alice Bitmead, who is now a federal prosecutor, claimed she was made to feel like a “sexual object” after the Magistrate allegedly made repeated “inherently sexual” and “deeply uncomfortable” remarks to her at a work dinner and during office hours.

Bitmead alleged the harassment occurred over three weeks in February 2018 while she worked in close proximity to the Magistrate, who InDaily has chosen not to name.

She claimed over that time, the Magistrate questioned whether her partner “fulfilled” her and made comments alluding to “how much he would like to have a relationship” with her.

Bitmead also alleged she tried raising a complaint with senior judicial officers in the months after the alleged harassment occurred, but has never received a response or apology in the years since.

The allegations prompted Chief Justice Chris Kourakis to launch a separate investigation into why Bitmead’s allegations were not brought to his attention in 2018.

The Courts Administration Authority spokesperson told InDaily this morning that Kourakis’ investigation would result in protocols being developed that would raise “matters of this kind” promptly to the attention of the Chief Justice, the Chief Judge and the Chief Magistrate.

Meanwhile, Vanstone issued a public statement this morning saying she was “troubled’ by recent reports of alleged inappropriate conduct by judicial officers.

She said inappropriate conduct “should not happen in any workplace” and “if it does happen it should be called out and the person responsible for the conduct should be held accountable”.

She said a recent damning report into sexual harassment in the legal profession, handed down by the Equal Opportunity Commission last month, pointed to “serious cultural problems in the legal profession which give rise to poor behaviour, in great part because of the hierarchical nature of the profession”.

“Judicial officers sit at the top of this hierarchy,” she said.

“If judicial officers regard such a culture as acceptable and bring it with them to the courts, they will face an uncertain future.

“The conduct of judicial officers — officers who sit in judgement on the conduct of others — should be beyond reproach.

“I have little doubt that this is the case for most of South Australia’s judicial officers.”

The Equal Opportunity Commission’s review found that 42 per cent of the 600 South Australian legal practitioners who responded to a survey reported experiencing sexual or discriminatory harassment at work.

Just under 13 per cent of those said the behaviour was perpetrated by judicial officers.

Vanstone said that until last Friday, her office had not received any sexual harassment complaints, which she suspected was due to a “fear of speaking up”.

“I understand the fear but if it is not reported, it will not stop,” she said.

“I call on any individuals who have experienced inappropriate conduct by a judicial officer to find the courage to make a report to me – because if not you, then who?”

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Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to contribute to InDaily.

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Euthanasia rally held as SA Upper House set to debate bill and others call for palliative care funding

Stricken with cancer of the larynx, Ray Hardy was nursed through his final days by his loving son Kevin.

It was that deeply personal experience that saw Kevin dedicate his life to palliative care nursing.

More than two decades later, he is one of the leading practitioners in the palliative care sector as he delivers Calvary Hospital’s home care for the terminally ill.

“I believe dying is a natural part of life, it certainly comes in different forms for different people and cancer, chronic illness, is one of those things,” Mr Hardy said.

Mr Hardy is open about his personal view against the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill currently going through South Australia’s parliament.

It is the 17th time in 25 years the euthanasia debate has rested on the conscience vote of politicians.

A rally was held on the steps of South Australia’s Parliament, ahead of the bill being debated on Wednesday night.(

ABC News: Matthew Smith


Mr Hardy believes changing the law would interfere with the “dying process”.

He said he was not comfortable with the concept of society saying it was OK for someone to end their life because they were suffering, when “we’re not doing all we can do to provide people with support at that time”.

“And if we talk about suffering, there is a lot of suffering in other aspects of health — we talk about mental health issues, several neurological conditions that children and young adults have.”

Mr Hardy admitted some palliative care patients had spoken to him about euthanasia and he had always been able to say that it was against the law.

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Push for more palliative care funding

Palliative Care SA does not have a stance on the euthanasia bill.

The organisation said whether the bill was successful or not, an additional amount of more than $29 million must be put into the palliative care sector every year.

Executive director Mark Water said this would have far-reaching benefits.

“This leads to less ramping, it leads to less unnecessary procedures in hospital,” he said.

“It would lead to people staying out of hospital and supported at home or in the place they’ve chosen to die.”

Petrina Young
Petrina Young’s father, Peter, passed away after a battle with cancer in 2020.(

ABC News: Matthew Smith


Just hours before the debate gets underway in parliament’s Upper House on Wednesday night, a rally was held outside.

Petrina Young felt compelled to attend after the painful death of her father Peter from cancer in November.

“It’s not peaceful and it’s not pain-free and it’s difficult because it’s sad — it’s awful seeing someone suffer that way,” she said.

If the bill passes through the Upper House, it will still need similar support in the Legislative Assembly to become law.

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