Top End firefighter pleads guilty to beating up wife, two other women



THE former officer in charge of the Jabiru fire station who beat up his wife and two other women in a drunken stupor has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.

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Liberal senator Sarah Henderson refers rape allegation against unnamed Labor MP to AFP


Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson has referred a rape allegation against an unnamed Labor MP to the Australian Federal Police.

In a statement posted to her Twitter account on Sunday evening, Senator Henderson said she had received an email from the alleged victim.

“Late this afternoon, I forwarded to the Australian Federal Police an email I received this afternoon from a woman alleging she has been raped by a man who is now a Federal Labor Member of Parliament,” she wrote in her statement.

“In immediately referring this matter to the AFP, I have followed the procedures set out by Commissioner Kershaw in his letter of 24 February 2021. I make this statement in the interests of full transparency.”

Senator Henderson was referring to a letter addressed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week by AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw, which said allegations of criminal conduct should be reported immediately.

“I cannot state strongly enough the importance of timely referrals of allegations of criminal conduct,” Mr Kershaw said.

“Failure to report alleged criminal behaviour in this manner, or choosing to communicate or disseminate allegations via other means, such as through the media or third parties, risks prejudicing any subsequent police investigation.

“Any delay in reporting criminal conduct can result in the loss of key evidence, continuation of the offending and/or reoffending by the alleged perpetrator.”

On Friday, the ABC’s Four Corners revealed that three police agencies had been notified of a letter sent to Mr Morrison, Labor Senate leader Penny Wong, and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young making a historical allegation of rape against a federal cabinet minister.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese says Prime Minister Scott Morrison must “satisfy himself” over whether a minister at the centre of a historical rape allegation should remain in cabinet.

Speaking on the ABC Insiders program on Sunday, the opposition leader called for “transparency” and “common decency to shine through” in relation to the handling of the allegation.

“We need to make sure that these serious allegations … are investigated appropriately, and that these issues aren’t politically managed,” he said.

“This is a real test. And the prime minister must confirm to himself that it remains the case that the minister, who is the subject of these allegations, that it’s appropriate for him to stay in his current position.”

Senator Wong and Senator Sarah Hanson-Young have both confirmed they received an anonymous letter relating to the allegation.

In a statement released on Saturday afternoon, Senator Wong said she first became aware of the allegation when she ran into the complainant in Adelaide in November 2019.

“The complainant made an allegation that she had been raped many years earlier by a person who is now a senior member of the federal government. She indicated she intended to report the matter to NSW Police,” she said.

“I said that making a report to the appropriate authorities was the right thing to do. I facilitated her referral to rape support services and confirmed she was being supported in reporting the matter to NSW Police.”

Labor Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Senator Penny Wong

AAP

NSW Police says the correspondence relates to a report of allegations of historical sexual violence received in February last year.

Its investigation was suspended when the 49-year-old woman at the centre of the allegations died.

“The death of the woman who made this allegation is a tragedy and devastating for everyone who knew and loved her. The woman, and her family and friends, have been in my thoughts throughout,” Senator Wong said.

Both senators have referred the letters to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

Mr Albanese said Senator Wong did not pass on the allegations to him, saying he had been aware of “rumours” in Canberra for some time. He said he believed Senator Wong “acted appropriately”.

The opposition leader said the allegation needs to be investigated by authorities, but was not drawn on what actions should be taken against the cabinet minister nor how Mr Morrison should act.

“I’m saying it’s a matter for the prime minister. I don’t seek to politicise this issue. What I say is the prime minister must satisfy himself that the current circumstances are appropriate,” he said.

“It’s his responsibility – he solely appoints the cabinet. He must assure himself that it’s appropriate that the current make-up of the cabinet can continue.”

Senator Hanson-Young has also urged Mr Morrison to take action over the allegation.

“The information that I was given and that I forwarded to the police is the same information that the prime minister has. He needs to make a judgement as to what he will do,” she said on Saturday.

“The prime minister needs to say something and he needs to do something. We can’t have a situation where such an horrific allegation of rape is levelled against a member of his government, and no one does anything.”

Greens leader Adam Bandt urged Mr Morrison to conduct his own independent inquiry into the allegations.

“There is now a dark cloud over the Cabinet and the government,” Mr Bandt said in a statement.

“We need to make Parliament a safe place for women.

These are extremely serious and shocking allegations that should be investigated to the fullest possible extent.”

Sarah Hanson-Young has urged the Prime Minister to take action over the allegations.

Sarah Hanson-Young has urged the Prime Minister to take action over the allegations.

AAP

The allegation was reported after a parliamentary sitting fortnight that was dominated by an alleged sexual assault on former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins by a male colleague.

Mr Albanese said after a “very difficult fortnight”, Australians will be looking for “common decency to shine through”.

“This is a moment whereby Australians will be looking for … an appropriate response that isn’t about political management, that is about transparency and making sure that processes are respected,” he said.

Asked about the allegations during a Sunday press conference, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the matter should be left to police.

“The AFP Commissioner was very very clear that these are matters for police, and strongly discouraged commentary on those matters,” Mr Hunt said.

“The police always have been, currently are, and always will be the appropriate body for investigate matters of alleged criminality.”

Federal government frontbencher Simon Birmingham also said it was a police matter.

Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham.

Federal government frontbencher Simon Birmingham

SBS News

“Everybody is entitled to natural justice and it’s important to back the police to do their job,” he said during a Saturday press conference in Adelaide on Saturday.

“We back the police to do their job in this and every other instance.

“I don’t wish to see anybody lose their rights to natural justice.”

Speaking at a Writers’ Week event in Adelaide on Sunday, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed the woman wrote to him and his wife Lucy in 2019 with details of the allegations and he had since passed that correspondence to the South Australian police.

“She described a pretty horrific rape that she said had occurred at the hands of this person, a person she said is now in the cabinet,” Mr Turnbull said.

“One of the things she noted, I might say, is that she’d kept extensive diaries.

“She mentioned that she had a lawyer and was talking to the NSW police.”

Mr Turnbull wrote back expressing sympathy and concern for her and told her she was doing the right thing in going to police.

The former PM said there “clearly needs to be some form of inquest”.

Mr Morrison released a statement on Friday night saying, “any allegations of this nature made to anybody – whether they’re parliamentarians or journalists – should be referred to the AFP”.

The AFP issued a statement on Saturday saying it has received a complaint relating to an historical sexual assault and will liaise with relevant state authorities.

Senator Henderson has been contacted for comment.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, you can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.

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Federal MPs Daniel Mulino and Celia Hammond reveal they were aware of historical rape allegation against Cabinet Minister who was named in anonymous letter


Two more federal MPs — one Liberal and one Labor — have revealed they were aware of a historical rape allegation made against a Cabinet Minister before it became public last Friday.

Labor MP Daniel Mulino told the ABC he was contacted by the alleged victim in December 2019. She was Dr Mulino’s friend.

“She indicated to me that she was determined to proceed with a formal complaint and I supported her in that decision,” he said.

“I ensured that the complainant was receiving appropriate support. I am greatly saddened by the death of my friend. I know that this has been a devastating period for the woman’s family and close friends. My thoughts are with them.”

Dr Mulino said he had told the Australian Federal Police (AFP), NSW Police and South Australian Police he was willing to assist with any investigation.

Labor senator Penny Wong and former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull were also contacted late in 2019 by the woman.

Neither spoke to police at the time because the alleged victim made it clear she was already speaking to police.

The woman went to New South Wales Police in 2020 but the investigation was suspended when she took her own life on June 24, 2020. The day before, she had told police she no longer wanted to proceed with the investigation.

South Australian Police are preparing a report into her death for the coroner.

Allegation aired following letter

A 31-page dossier outlining the allegation was sent by express post to the offices of the Prime Minister, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and Senator Wong on Wednesday.

The ABC understands the AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw also received the correspondence but by email earlier that day.

The ABC has confirmed that Celia Hammond, a WA Liberal MP, was also sent the 31-page dossier.

This is presumably because she had been asked by the Prime Minister to lead an inquiry into the Liberal Party’s workplace culture, only for it to be rolled into a broader independent investigation.

“I received a copy of the correspondence on Wednesday,” Ms Hammond told the ABC.

“I gave it to the Australian Federal Police on Wednesday afternoon and I alerted the Prime Minister’s Office.”

The Prime Minister’s Office has not responded to questions about when it alerted the police about the letter, but a statement from a spokesman said reporting to the police ensured that any alleged crimes were properly investigated.

“As per the AFP Commissioner’s instruction, any complaints or allegations of this nature made to anybody — whether they’re parliamentarians or journalists — should be referred to the AFP,” the spokesman said.

Senator Hanson-Young and Senator Wong did not open the envelope until Friday morning.

AFP sent another letter containing an allegation

Sarah henderson wears a red blazer and speaks to reporters in Canberra
Liberal senator Sarah Henderson says she has received a letter alleging a woman was raped by a male Labor member of Federal Parliament.(ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

An allegation of rape against another federal politician has also been sent to the AFP.

Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson and Senator Hanson-Young confirmed they both received an email from a woman, who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a man who is now a federal Labor MP.

In a statement, Senator Henderson said she sent the details to police.

“In immediately referring this matter to the AFP, I have followed the procedures set out by Commissioner Kershaw in his letter of 24 February 2021,” the statement said.

A Labor spokesperson said the appropriate action had been taken.

“The Australian Labor Party has seen media reports that Senator Henderson has received an allegation of sexual assault and has referred any relevant correspondence to authorities as is appropriate,” the spokesperson said.

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Australian university study hubs keep students engaged in China


A UNSW spokeswoman said 100 science and engineering students were attending in Yixing and another 50 students from non-STEM disciplines are starting in Shanghai.

“Both centres are designed for students to build a sense of community, and work on collaborative projects while international borders remain closed,” the spokeswoman said.

UNSW Offshore study hub in China.

The University of Sydney and Study Group Australia have set up in Shanghai for Chinese students enrolled in the University of Sydney Foundation Program.

Study Group Australia managing director Alex Chevrolle said students studying online in China were keen for more opportunities for interaction.

“Our online teaching and learning allows students to experience and engage with course content and lecturers, and our new centre in Shanghai means students can also experience invaluable face-to-face engagement with peers to work on course work, assignments and projects,” he said.

Mr Chevrolle said the Shanghai centre allowed 60 students at a time to study virtually in a campus environment under the supervision of an on-site manager. The centre provided high speed internet, large screens and audiovisual technology.

Students were also provided with other support services including welfare, administration, accommodation, English language and social activities. The centre was housed in a facility with a library, gym and canteen.

UTS said its offshore learning centres (OLCs) provide a physical learning space and extra support for course work students enrolled at UTS who are studying remotely in China and Vietnam. A UTS spokeswoman said about 700 students have attended the centres which opened last year on the campuses of Chinese university partners in Qinhuangdao, Chongqing and Nanjing.

“Our students live on campus at the OLC host university, study in physical groups or independently at their will, and obtain support for both academic and non-academic aspects of learning,” the spokeswoman said.

“OLC students use UTS’s online learning portals to take their UTS classes, consistent with their peers studying remotely in Australia and in other overseas locations.”

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Venice Yun from IDP Connect which is partnering with universities to provide the pop-up centres said they had provided an opportunity for students to gather locally in China and “feel more connected to their institution and studies, while also using the space for social gatherings”. “The hubs show a positive attitude from Australian institutions to provide additional solutions and services to those who are banned by the travel restrictions,” she said.

Monash University said it offers programs in Suzhou, China. A Monash spokeswoman said it opened a joint graduate school, partnered with China-based Southeast University, in November.

“Feedback from these students has been very positive,” the spokeswoman said.

“In China, this will continue in 2021 until borders in Australia have opened. Once borders are opened these students can transfer to Australia when it is safe to do so.

“We are also looking at using our other international campuses in Prato, Jakarta and Malaysia to offer similar on campus options in the future.”

An ANU spokesman said more than 100 students have regularly used the Shanghai hub since it opened last year. Up to 300 students have attended events including an Australian-themed barbecue and Australian Rules football training.

“ANU has just doubled the space for the hub in anticipation of increased demand and use in 2021,” the spokesman said.

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Sydney on track to have nearly 60 suburbs where $3 million prices are the norm


A property in North Bondi sold for a staggering $6.1m on the weekend. Picture: Sam Ruttyn


The number of Sydney suburbs where you need $3 million just to get in the front door is booming with the list set to be nearly 60 by the end of the year.

Property sales data showed median house prices surpassed $3 million in another 10 suburbs last year, taking the total number of super-rich suburbs to 39.

And another 18 are on track to have a median price of $3 million this year if price growth trends continue, realestate.com.au data showed.

MORE: 50 bidders send home $1.2m over reserve

The Block’s Adam and Fiona score auction win

To put the real estate price explosion in perspective, only three other suburbs in the rest of Australia have a median of $3 million or more — two in Melbourne and one in Canberra.

And many of Sydney’s newest $3 million suburbs lack a waterfront or beach, such as Artarmon, East Lindfield and Killara on the upper north shore.

Roseville home auction

Roseville prices are near $3m. This house on Park Ave sold $3.09m, $790,000 over reserve. Picture: David Swift


This pattern appears set to continue with neighbouring suburbs North Willoughby, Naremburn, Roseville and Lindfield flagged as soon to hit $3 million.

It’s a far cry from when multimillion medians were reserved for Harbour enclaves such as Vaucluse and Point Piper.

Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee said the growth in $3 million suburbs was “unprecedented”.

“Prices are beginning to move very quickly,” she said, adding that low interest rates, a shortage of listings and rampant buyer demand pushed the market back into boom territory late last year.

76 Douglas Street, Putney sold for $3.05m. Average Putney prices are also approaching $3m.


A Demographia report released earlier this week showed Sydney’s climbing prices were also unprecedented on the global stage.

The Harbour City ranks behind only land-starved Hong Kong and Vancouver as the most expensive places to buy a house in the world, as measured by the gap between average prices and incomes.

Ms Conisbee said Sydney had a similar problem to those cities in that its geography made it difficult to build new housing.

It was also a magnet for cashed-up buyers, she said.

“Sydney prices are so much higher than in the rest of the country because it is our only truly global city. It has the highest paying jobs and attracts the wealthiest buyers,” Ms Conisbee said.

Modelling from Australia’s largest banks showed prices will continue to go up.

Westpac forecasts released this week predicted a 20 per cent rise in Sydney values over the next two years. CBA has forecasted a 7.5 per cent rise in 2021.

Auctioneer Michael Garofolo of Cooley Auctions said buyers were being aggressive due to low interest rates.

“Low interest rates make a particularly big difference on higher-end properties. Buyers who would have been spending $2 million or $2.5 million a few years ago are now spending over $3 million,” he said.

Stiff competition is also encouraging people to dig deeper into their pockets, he said.

“A good auction in a good market would get 10 bidders, in this market we’re getting way more. If buyers want a quality home in their preferred location they have to (bid) high.”

‘IT’S TOUGH FOR PEOPLE LIKE US’

Homes are flying off the shelves in North Bondi, one of several suburbs to join the $3 million club.

A five-bedroom house owned by the same family for 40 years sold at auction yesterday for $3.56 million — $660,000 over the guide — after an expat living in South Africa out-bid four other buyers.

North Bondi hot auction

Liam Jeffares and partner Carolina Lourenco in North Bondi, where $3m has become the average price for a house. Picture: Sam Ruttyn


It was an incredible result for the owners of the Mitchell St house, who paid about $90,000 for the property back in the early 1980s.

PPD Real Estate agent Mary Anne Cronin said the suburb has seen incredible price growth in the past year due to a shortage of stock and strong demand from expats returning home.

“If this property went to market six months ago it would have only sold for about $2.7 million,” she said.

North Bondi couple Liam Jeffares and Carolina Lourenco said house prices in North Bondi were outrageous. “It is good for homeowners, but it makes it very tough for people like us looking to get into the market,” Mr Jeffares said.

Mr Jeffares said the insane price growth seen in North Bondi meant he and Ms Lourenco, who have just purchased in Dee Why, were forced to look elsewhere for their first home.

“We looked at Dee Why as it was the last suburb by the beach we found that was still relatively affordable to buy,” he said.

– with additional reporting by Matt Bell

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Eight-year-old Monty lives with a rare disease. Here’s what his family want you to know


Monty Hui has long dreamed about swimming in his school swimming carnival.  

 

But for an eight-year-old boy living with pontocerebellar hypoplasia, a rare disease that affects the development of the brain, it was no easy task.  

 

“He had to have speech therapy to learn to close his mouth and to blow bubbles,” his mother Jess Hui told SBS News. “That was before he even went in the pool. But he was so committed to that goal.”  

 

Monty recently achieved this goal, and says next year he hopes to swim again without a noodle.  

 

For Ms Hui and her husband, Danny, the uncertainty of having a child living with a rare disease wasn’t eased by the diagnosis.  

 

“It was a scary time. At the time they were trying to rule out a lot of things that it might be. Even having a diagnosis of pontocerebellar hypoplasia – it helped in some ways to have a name for it, but that uncertainty of what will come next,” Ms Hui said.  

 

The Hui family.

SBS News

 

Approximately eight per cent of Australians live with a rare disease – around two million people in the country.  

 

But they can often go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, and are unable to get treatment due to a lack of awareness about the conditions.  

 

This Rare Disease Day, Nicole Millis CEO of Rare Voices Australia, an advocacy group, is calling for more awareness among governments, policy makers and the broader community.  

 

“Our health system isn’t geared for rare diseases,” she told SBS News. “It works really well for diseases that are common. But for rare diseases it can be quite tricky and overwhelming.”

 

“I think one of the hardest things about rare disease is you are constantly living with uncertainty. Often when you are diagnosed you haven’t heard of it, and your doctors haven’t heard of it as well.

 

“It’s really quite overwhelming. You don’t know who to go and see, you don’t know what to do.”

 

 

Ms Millis, who herself is a parent of a child with a rare disease, says finding and building a sense of community among those with rare diseases is a hugely important step.  

 

“It’s common for people to go years and years without a diagnosis. It’s really important to get a diagnosis. It’s important to get treatment, but also so you can connect with other people who have similar or the same disease to get a sense of community, because living with a rare disease can be really isolating,” she said.  

 

There are around 7,000 different diseases commonly called rare diseases. Ms Millis says while the symptoms often vary greatly, many of the experiences of those living with rare diseases – such as misdiagnosis and having to explain your condition all the time – are the same.  

 

“When you live with a rare disease you are learning all the time, but also educating others all the time,” she said.  

 

 

Associate Professor Kim Hemsley is a research scientist at Flinders University looking at Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes fatal brain damage and is a type of childhood dementia.  

 

Professor Hemsley said while the condition is rare childhood dementia affects around one in 2,800 babies. Those with Sanfilippo syndrome, which is currently untreatable, rarely live to adulthood.  

 

“Given the devastating nature of the disorders, it’s absolutely imperative that the research on these conditions is better funded and there is greater awareness of the impact of rare conditions on families and society,” she said.

  

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Family of legendary broadcaster Ray Warren plea for return of stolen Hall of Fame ring after ‘disturbing’ home invasion


Warren’s daughter Holly and her son were at home at the time of the intrusion while Ray and his wife Cher were upstairs asleep. Nobody was hurt in the incident and NSW Police are investigating.

“I also feel a sense of helplessness, that this scum, could take a treasured family piece Dad’s @nrl Hall Of Fame Ring that night, so special on so many levels to us,” Mark posted on Instagram.

The voice of rugby league Ray Warren at his Hall of Fame induction.Credit:Getty

“Very hurt and disturbed but to these cowards please know that with all our combined networks, all areas, along with the @nswpolice & @nrl the focus will come your way.

“Be assured of one certainty, that Karma comes with gravity when you knock on our family door. Mostly though, thank you my Lord our family were not harmed.”

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Warren is due to return to the commentary box for the opening round of the NRL season next week and admitted after last year’s end-of-season State of Origin series he wasn’t sure if he had called his last match.

He broadcast Queensland’s series-deciding victory from the Nine Entertainment Co studios after being unable to secure a permit to travel to Brisbane for the Suncorp Stadium showdown.

More to come

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Was this free kick taken too quickly?



Premier League: Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk took a clever quick free kick against West Brom, leaving Lee Mason to initially disallow, then re-instate the goal. But the VAR would have the final say.

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Auckland returning to seven-day lockdown after a mystery coronavirus case was recorded



New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Auckland will be put into a seven-day lockdown from Sunday after a coronavirus community case of unknown origin was recorded.

The rest of New Zealand will be put into level two restrictions that limit public gatherings, among others, she told a news conference on Saturday.

Ms Ardern said the new case, a high school student, currently has no symptoms of the virus.

“The high school student in the household has tested negative for COVID-19 on three separate occasions, and currently has no symptoms for COVID-19,” she said.

“That means we have no current known link for the case discovered this afternoon.”

She said it’s “strongly assumed” that the new case is genomically linked to the South Auckland cluster.

“If we cannot immediately link a case person to person, what we call it an epidemiological link, that is a significant issue, and one, we need to act on.”

Ms Ardern said the rules had not been followed, noting the new case went to the doctor in the afternoon yesterday for a COVID-19 test, followed by the gym.

“People who should have been in isolation, weren’t,” she said.

The case also visited a supermarket and a university.

“These are well populated sites, and given the time that has passed since the onset of the illness, we may well have close context, who are already infected,” Ms Ardern said.

In mid-February, Auckland’s nearly two million residents were plunged into a snap three-day lockdown after a family of three were diagnosed with the more transmissible UK variant of COVID-19.

More to come…

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We all bear responsibility for changing dangerous sex culture


The online petition, calling for sex education to cover consent at a younger age, reached the public eye at the same time former political staffer Brittany Higgins spoke out about her alleged rape by a colleague in a minister’s office in Parliament House. The stories have augmented each other.

From the halls of our federal Parliament through to the classrooms of our schools, this is surely the moment to say no more. We must as a society change the way we view and treat women.

Some will say this degrading behaviour has been going on for generations. And they are right – #metoo proved that. But that does not absolve us from trying to fix this problem.

We all bear responsibility but schools in particular are key to the repair. They can reach thousands of young men and women and shape their values at a time when they are starting to explore relationships and sex.

In NSW, the PD/Health/PE curriculum was revised in 2018 to explicitly include lessons in consent and respect for students from kindergarten to year 10. But it is up to schools to decide how much time and emphasis they give to different topics within the curriculum. This allows them to brush over a topic that can prove awkward and controversial.

Katrina Marson, a lead researcher at Rape and Sexual Assault Research and Advocacy, has called for a national curriculum on respect and consent. She says we can learn from countries that have done this well and the power to make significant change rests with governments, who can mandate a high quality program nationwide.

In light of the online petition, private school principals were at pains last week to point out to parents what they teach their students about consent, respect and making good decisions. Many acknowledged the need to do more and asked parents to sit down with their sons and daughters and talk about sex, respect and consent.

“A specific conversation about consent is probably one of the most awkward conversations you will have in your life,” Newington’s Parker said. “It will leave ‘Where did I come from?’ in the dust. It is also one of the most important.”

Men need to take the lead in changing this rusted-on culture. They must be brave enough to call out behaviour that is hurtful and disrespectful and strong enough to show younger generations what is right, to shepherd in a more respectful and kinder era of relations between women and men, girls and boys.

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As Marson says, this dark culture “is everywhere: in universities, workplaces, online, in professional sports and in Hollywood. It is in our social lives. The culture does not stop at Year 12 graduation – these codes are carried into adulthood.”

And all of us must take responsibility – in our workplaces, among our friends, and with our own children. We need to work out how to make sure the sort of disturbing behaviour documented by the young Sydney women is no longer accepted, by any of us, at any stage of our lives.

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