The key things unit purchasers must consider during the pandemic


Cindy Huang and Robert Yin, with daughter Isabel, 4, outside their Lane Cove North townhouse. Picture: Justin Lloyd


Homebuyers on the hunt for an apartment this spring have been urged to be selective in what they buy and not just focus on price.

The inner city unit market is among the weaker performing areas in Sydney and, despite this increasing the likelihood of getting a bargain, it has also meant property selection remains critical, housing experts said.

My Housing Market economist Andrew Wilson said the worst affected properties during the pandemic were “investor stock” – units usually aimed at the landlord market.

MORE: NSW regions set to boom due to city exodus

Where Sydney property prices are falling the fastest

Prices for these properties were being slashed because landlords were struggling to tenant them while international travel remained restricted, he said. Most of the properties were usually rented out by international students, travellers or hospitality workers.

“That weakness in the inner city unit market will probably continue until international travel is allowed to resume,” Mr Wilson said.

Buyer’s agent Michelle May said due diligence was particularly important for unit buyers as there were often more factors to consider than with houses.

She recommended starting with the strata report. “You need to know the building was constructed properly and has no building defects but also run effectively with an engaged strata committee,” she said.

Older apartments were often a safer bet, she added. “I recommend buying only something that is at least five years old as the building will have had time to settle,” Ms May said.

Checking building compliance was another vital step in the due diligence process given recent construction disasters such as cladding issues in the Grenfell Tower in London, which burnt down.

“You need contract reviews and development application checks but you also need to ensure the building is on the cladding register,” Ms May said.

Buying in a larger building often means higher strata fees.


Other things to consider were the location and aspect – factors that, unlike the features and fittings in a property, couldn’t be changed.

The ideal aspect was north or east facing, while quieter roads made better locations. “Don’t buy on yellow roads,” Ms May said. “A yellow road on Google Maps indicates higher volumes of traffic.

“Properties on main roads are also the first to drop in price when the market turns (and) from a practical point of view, you want to be able to open your windows and not get noise and car fumes.”

Units in lower density suburbs with good transport links tended to hold their value better as there were fewer opportunities for larger developers. There was also more underlying demand in these areas, which meant the capital growth potential was often greater.

Smaller buildings had a key advantage in that single votes on the strata committee counted for more.

$70,000 discount: this unit on Pyrmont St in Pyrmont was $900,000, now it’s $830,000.


Large apartment buildings with amenities like gyms needed to be considered with caution, she added. The extra facilities tended to be expensive and were only worth it for those who were confident they would use them regularly.

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Buildings with a high proportion of owner occupiers were also better than those with mostly landlords.

And quality trumped quantity. “You’re better off going for a good-sized one-bedder than a tiny two-bedder but I always recommend to my clients to buy with the future in mind. … many young couples who buy apartments need to make sure they have that extra space for when they decide to start a family. A second bedroom is going to make a world of difference. Buy for at least a five-year life plan.”

TOWNHOUSE BOUGHT EXTRA WELL

Most homeowners have some gripe with their properties – maybe a room that gets little sun or the parking is too narrow – but Rob Yin and Cindy Huang have a more unusual problem.

The couple say their three-bedroom townhouse in Lane Cove North was purchased so well they have struggled to leave. They had been deliberating selling for years to move to a house but kept putting it off because they didn’t think they would find a better home.

Spring home sellers

The Yin family said their townhouse ticked all the boxes.


“I grew up in a house with a backyard so I wanted that for our children, but we’ve never been motivated because the townhouse ticks every box,” Mr Yin said.

The family eventually decided if they didn’t list now they would find it even harder to part with the property down the line when they outgrew it.

“Its north facing and on a cul-de-sac which is full of kids on Sundays … it’s been perfect for us,” Mr Yin said.

Their property at 11 Sawyer Cres goes to auction October 3 with Belle Property-Lane Cove agents Patrick Lang and Jess Goodman.



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New low dependency mental health unit to be built in $10m Canberra Hospital upgrade | The Canberra Times


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A new low dependency mental health unit will lead to a further 10 beds added to the Canberra Hospital as part of a $10 million ward upgrade. The project, which has been funded by the federal government’s community health and hospitals program, is expected to be completed by the middle of 2021. Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury said the added beds would help the hospital deal with an increase in demand for mental health services. “The [ward] 12B Low Dependency Unit will reduce waiting times for mental health patients and improve access to specialised and individual interventions, reducing recovery time and length of stay in hospital,” Mr Rattenbury said. “These additional beds will also improve patient flow throughout the system, reducing pressure on acute and sub-acute inpatient beds.” The clinical director of adult acute mental health services at Canberra Hospital, Dr Florian Wertenauer, said a multidisciplinary team would staff the new low dependency unit. The unit would support people with a range of psychiatric presentations, including psychosis and mood disorders, as well as crisis admissions, with an average stay length envisaged to be between 10 and 14 days, he said. “Where a person may need a more intensive treatment regime or for instance are at a higher risk of harm to themselves or others, then the existing adult mental health unit at Canberra Hospital would be more appropriate,” Dr Wertenauer said. Mental health presentations at the Canberra Hospital emergency department have increased since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, putting additional strain on an already stretched department. Mr Rattenbury said there had been a 68 per cent growth in emergency department presentations to the adult mental health unit in the past five years. “Ultimately, we expect to see improved patient outcomes through faster admission and access to the mental health services that the patient needs,” he said. Mr Rattenbury said the ACT government was also upgrading the adult mental health unit to allow for greater flexibility in accessing high dependency beds. Between July 2019 and the end of February, 3.1 patients were admitted each day on average to the adult mental health unit at Canberra Hospital, up from 2.4 in 2018-19. The ward refurbishment will add to the 97 mental health unit beds already available in ACT public hospitals. Dr Wertenauer said the new unit would allow for faster treatment times and reduced wait times in the emergency department. “Having a new low dependency unit in a separate location at the Canberra Hospital will allow the multidisciplinary team to create a therapeutic environment that can provide more tailored treatment approaches for individuals,” he said. “Co-location within the hospital will facilitate cooperation with medical and surgical units, which will be of benefit to a number of our consumers.” ACT Health confirmed last month it expected a greater need for mental health services as a direct result of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has been widely expected to have a significant and ongoing impact on community mental health. Last year, The Canberra Times revealed internal ACT Health documents said there was a high risk of patients who had serious mental health illnesses waiting long periods within the emergency department and other wards before being transferred to mental health care locations.

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Anthony Seibold provides dossier of online abuse to NRL Integrity Unit, with cyberbullying legislation on the way


Cyber bullying legislation establishing an adult cyber abuse scheme is expected to be introduced into the Parliament in the coming months with expanded powers for the eSafety Commissioner.

Federal Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, has told The Ticket “a pattern” of high profile cases of online abuse, such as that directed at former Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold, “add weight to the fact that we need to make the internet a safer place”.

“I expect to be able to introduce legislation into the parliament within months,” Mr Fletcher said.

“Amongst other things this will establish an adult cyber abuse scheme.

“We already have laws to deal with cyber bullying of children and indeed Australia was a world leader in introducing such laws and also establishing what’s now called the eSafety Commissioner — our Commonwealth Government regulator of online safety.”

Under the draft legislation, the eSafety Commissioner will have the power to direct social media platforms to take down content deemed to be abusive, existing criminal penalties for using a carriage service to “menace, harass or offend” will see jail terms increased from three to five years, and new civil penalties will include fines “in the order of $100,000”.

The eSafety Commissioner is the regulator of online safety — the Federal Government is planning legislation to boost its powers.(Supplied)

Seibold resigned from his position as coach of the Brisbane Broncos NRL club this week and has handed a dossier of online abuse compiled by his lawyer and international cyber security experts to the NRL’s integrity unit.

The Ticket understands if the NRL does not act in the next 14 days, the evidence will be handed to Queensland police.

“The social media stuff was just disgusting in any way, shape or form,” Seibold said in a revealing half-hour interview.

When asked whether he could “tune out” from the relentless social media attacks, Seibold said it was “impossible and I’m not even on social media”.

“Think about how widespread social media is in our society — my daughters have got it, my wife’s got it, my mum’s got it, all my friends have got it — it’s in some ways how we connect with others,” he said.

“As a coach my philosophy is you can criticise performance but you don’t criticise the person.”

The NRL Footy Show hosts Darryl Brohman, Beau Ryan, Erin Molan and Paul Vautin at the 2016 Logies in Melbourne.
As a reporter and presenter on Channel Nine, Erin Molan (2nd R) has had to deal with online attacks.(AAP: Joe Castro)

In the weeks leading up to Seibold’s decision to resign, he was contacted by Channel 9 sports presenter Erin Molan who has also been the target of online abuse.

“We both feel the legislation in and around social media and cyber bullying and the commentary around that is archaic,” Seibold said.

“If there’s one good thing that potentially can come out of a really ugly and defamatory situation is that maybe through my profile as an NRL head coach, or former NRL head coach, I can start that conversation because I think it needs to change.

“If someone yelled out — the things that were said about me — in public, I could get them charged but it’s hard to from social media from what I understand.

“If someone wasn’t as strong willed and could endure and persevere as much as myself then I would think that they could potentially harm themselves.

“I would just hate for anyone to feel like that.”

Despite being targeted, Seibold said he “never felt personally threatened”.

“But I felt my reputation threatened and tarnished and defamed.

“There were players’ partners named in certain posts that were put up and spread around and I think about the impact on them and their families and their mums and dads.

“It hurts the people closest to you and I don’t know if someone started it as a joke, or someone started it because we weren’t winning games, I don’t know what the reason was behind it… but the way it was spread and how comfortable people were to forward it on is just bemusing.

“That’s not acceptable behaviour.”

The Federal Communications Minister agrees.

Paul Fletcher speaks in front of a bank of microphones.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher is in charge of the Federal Government’s response to cyber bullying.(ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

“I think the case of Anthony Seibold and the kind of abuse that he’s been facing online, the experiences that Erin Molan the prominent sports journalist has had, which she’s talked about, Tayla Harris the AFLW player, and sadly there are many others,” Mr Fletcher said.

“I also hear from many ordinary Australians who have been the subject of very unpleasant abuse online… these all add weight to the fact that we need to make the internet a safer place.”

Mr Fletcher said it was an election promise to strengthen the Online Safety Act.

“There is more to do to keep Australians safe online,” he said.

“We’re looking to get the legislation introduced, certainly well before the end of the year and then be in a position to take the legislation through and have it passed in parliament.

“The quicker we can get it introduced, the quicker we can get it passed, then the quicker the eSafety Commissioner will have these new powers and there will be these additional protections for Australians online.”

The full interview with Anthony Seibold and the Federal Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, on The Ticket can be heard here.



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Australia Remastered restores ABC Natural History Unit films, not seen for decades, to share with a new audience


Forget movies, soapies or reality TV shows.

For wildlife documentary maker Jeremy Hogarth, there’s nothing more compelling than watching life unfold in the natural world.

“There’s competition, there’s aggression, there’s submission, individual animals are doing what they do because that’s what they’re basically hardwired to do.

“For example, in a mob of kangaroos, a male kangaroo must become dominant and within that fight for dominance there’s drama, which, in a way, makes you think about the way we live our lives.”

Jeremy Hogarth on location on the Arnhem Land Escarpment, filming ‘The Big Wet’ for the ABC’s Natural History Unit in 1991.(Supplied: Jeremy Hogarth)

Hogarth has been involved in wildlife film production for almost half a century and worked with the ABC’s acclaimed Natural History Unit, which produced many award-winning programs for more than 30 years from the early 70s.

He was a film editor with the unit from 1975-1981 and then a producer from 1989-1995.

Now he’s come full circle and is a writer and producer on Australia Remastered, a new series showcasing the unit’s finest work — 16-mm and 35-mm films carefully preserved in the ABC archives and virtually unseen for decades.

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“It’s actually amazing that the quality is as good as it is,” says Hogarth.

“So, the films from the Natural History Unit are an archive of what our continent has, or had, which is unique.

“I think to be able to go back, remaster it and show it to a new audience is very satisfying because it actually means that the work you did 30 or 40 years ago hasn’t gone to waste.”

Two men wading through muddy river, one on knees with large suitcase on back.
Hogarth and cameraman Richard Matthews getting ashore to film crocodiles on the Prince Regent River in the Kimberley in 1989.(Supplied: Jeremy Hogarth)

Hundreds of hours of film restored

The 23-part series (15 episodes airing in 2020 and 8 episodes in 2021) is hosted by Aaron Pedersen and, with fresh insights from the latest scientific research, breathes new life into films depicting Australian wildlife, from orca pods to wombat kingdoms, the dramatic landscapes of Kakadu and the Red Centre, and the vast aquatic wildernesses of the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans.

Orange octopus with blue rings swimming in vivid aqua water.
The deadly but beautiful blue-ringed octopus.(Australia Remastered)

It’s a joint production between the ABC and WildBear Entertainment, which understood the value of the NHU films and pitched the idea.

“Some of the footage is getting pretty old and so the idea of preserving this incredible footage was really important — hundreds of hours of film reels have now been cleaned up, remastered, restored and scanned to be used as a digital archive,” says ABC executive producer Leo Faber.

Woman holding reel of film and looking at a section pulled out.
ABC archivist Helen Meany preparing film for scanning.(ABC News: Jon Steiner)

“Seeing a tiny Tamar wallaby crawl up its mum’s pouch is something spectacular to behold, as is the power of a pack of wild dingoes hunting down a kangaroo.

“This is a series for all of Australia to be proud of as we fight to ensure that our most threatened species have a chance to live on for centuries to come.”

Pioneers in wildlife cinematography

Archivists Natasha Marfutenko and Jon Steiner, and their team, are the custodians of the ABC’s vast film, video and audio collection and were delighted at the opportunity to share the NHU’s programs with a new audience.

“I always hoped that someday someone would do something big that really tapped into our Natural History Unit film collection,” says Steiner.

Black and white footage of divers with camera and lights filming coral.
A Natural History Unit crew filming coral in 1988.(ABC Archives)

“We sold the odd bit of footage for documentaries now and again, and occasionally a shot found its way into an ABC production, but I felt that it was an amazing resource that was just waiting for a deep dive into the myriad worlds documented within those film cans.”

“The NHU crews shot in locations ranging from Papua New Guinea to the Galapagos Islands to Antarctica and, as I understand it, pioneered many innovative tricks and techniques in the field of wildlife cinematography, including hiding a motion-sensor-equipped camera in a box, or waiting for hours in a tree, camouflaged by netting, for the animal they wanted to show up,” says Steiner.

Hogarth sitting on couch with baby wallaby eating grapes off a plate.
Hogarth with a baby rock wallaby that had been abandoned by its mother. The team rescued it during filming in Arnhem Land and later gave it to a wildlife park to be cared for.(Supplied: Jeremy Hogarth)

“The Natural History Unit was a kind of a little special entity unto itself and the people that worked in it were mostly considered crazy by the rest of the ABC,” recalls Jeremy Hogarth.

“We were all passionate about wildlife and were given remarkable latitude.

“You’d come up with a concept, talk to the experts, then head off to somewhere, like I did to the Kimberley for six months, and come back with a film.

“You’d be camping out and these were the days before mobile phones and the internet so you’d just disappear into the bush and occasionally make calls back to base when you could.

“Cameraman/producer David Parer and a sound assistant actually spent 18 months on Macquarie Island, making four films, some of which is in Australia Remastered.”

Black and white photo of Parer with camera on tripod surrounded by penguins.
Cinematographer David Parer spent 18 months filming on Macquarie Island.(ABC Archives)

Patience is everything when you’re making a wildlife program.

Hogarth once spent 14 days in Sumatra filming a never-captured-before, one-minute sequence of orangutans using a tool like humans — but it was well worth the wait.

“And it’s not for the kudos of the filming but it illustrates something that’s not been seen before and it’s pretty special. But the patience required is extreme.”

Film remastering a huge undertaking

Over three decades, the NHU produced scores of programs and amassed an enormous collection of raw production material on film, video tape, and audio tape.

These were catalogued shot by shot in a dedicated database, listing species names (both common and scientific), activities, habitats, and other details.

Jon Steiner standing on a ladder looking at a can of film in between shelves packed full of cans.
Archivist Jon Steiner amongst the vast film collection in the ABC’s storage vaults.(ABC News: Nathaniel Harding)

“On film alone, we have in our collection more than 7,000 reels of “negative outs” — these are compiles of the rolls of original negative that came out of the cameras (minus the shots that ended up in the final edits). About half of the outs reels are held in ABC vaults, with the rest in the custody of the National Archives of Australia,” says archivist Jon Steiner.

Retrieving, restoring and digitising the original footage and weaving it together with the latest science into new stories was a huge, time-consuming undertaking.

“We had a crew of over 60 people working across the last year and a half to make the show.

“We essentially started with an idea that we wanted to do an exhaustive survey of pretty much all the animal, bird and sea-life habitats and species.

A wombat in the snow.
The films are a catalogue of Australia’s iconic animals.(Australia Remastered)

“We then went through countless hours of natural history film reels to identify the very best scenes of wildlife behaviour.

“From there we crafted five primary focus areas — our iconic species, the unique environments and habitats, conflict between species and hunting, ocean life and finally the forces of nature that shape our continent.”

Scanning machine with film feel on spool and man looking at bird on screen.
The ABC’s film scanner digitising some Natural History Unit footage – the Australia Remastered producers used a slightly different scanner.(ABC News: Jon Steiner)

“The scale of the film preparation, cleaning and scanning that needed to take place for Australia Remastered was significant — it ended up being more than 2,000 reels of film,” says Steiner.

“It was going to be far more than we could incorporate into our regular workflow, so we worked with WildBear, who provided resources to install and operate a second scanner, running in shifts and on weekends.

“A lot of film was held at the National Archives of Australia, so the Lending team there played a vital role in the project.

“We sent them large lists of the film reels we needed and they retrieved them, conditioned them up to room temperature for transport, and made them available for collection — boxes and boxes of film cans each week, for months.

“And after scanning was done, they had to receive it all back and re-shelve it.

“It was a huge surge in work for them and they really helped us out.”

Penguin and colony in background on icy landscape.
A scene from an episode on the Southern Ocean.(Australia Remastered)

And while the ABC archive team, Natasha Marfutenko, Jon Steiner, and Helen Meany and Amber Sierek already knew what cinematic treasures were to be found in the ABC vaults, they’ve been blown away by the remastering and reimagining of the original footage.

“The sun setting over the Kimberley, or a baby stripe-faced dunnart nestling with its mum, or a trumpet manucode sitting in its nest, or a tasselled wobbegong resting on the ocean floor.

Aerial of bright blue sea and sandy and red dirt shoreline.
The series captures the country’s stunning landscapes from the coast to the Red Centre.(Australia Remastered)

“It was breathtaking. High-resolution scanning really brought out the cinematic quality and richness of colour of the material.

“Australia Remastered has done the material justice in ways beyond my wildest dreams.

“I am always very happy when anything from the ABC Archives can be once again enjoyed by contemporary audiences, but this … this is next level!”

Australia Remastered airs on ABC TV and iview on Sundays at 6pm from August 30



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BlackRock gets regulators’ approval to set up China mutual fund unit



FILE PHOTO: A sign for BlackRock Inc hangs above its building in New York U.S., July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

August 29, 2020

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – BlackRock has become the first global asset manager to win regulatory approval to set up a mutual fund unit in China, as Beijing throws open its 17.7 trillion yuan ($2.58 trillion) sector.

The world’s biggest asset manager by assets got the green light on Aug. 21 to form a wholly-owned subsidiary in Shanghai, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said on its website late on Friday.

The unit would expand BlackRock’s presence in China’s fast-growing asset management market, where it already has a mutual fund venture with Bank of China, and is setting up a wealth management venture with Temasek and China Construction Bank (CCB) <0939.HK>.

It also operates a private fund unit in Shanghai.

China opened its giant financial sector to foreign companies this year as part of an interim trade deal with the United States signed in January.

BlackRock and Neuberger Berman applied to set up mutual fund units on April 1, when Beijing scrapped foreign ownership caps in the sector. Fidelity International has also submitted an application, while several other asset managers, including Schroders, are expected to follow suit.

U.S. fund giant Vanguard Group has announced it would close its Hong Kong and Japan operations, while shifting its Asian headquarters to Shanghai.

BlackRock has six months to establish the unit, the regulator said in its statement.

(Reporting by Samuel Shen, Cheng Leng and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)





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Kirin looks for non-Chinese buyers for Australian dairy unit


TOKYO/HONG KONG — Japanese beverage group Kirin Holdings has dropped plans to sell an Australian unit to China Mengniu Dairy and will seek another buyer, in a setback that appears caused in part by friction between Australia and China.

Kirin had agreed in November to sell Lion Dairy & Drinks for 600 million Australian dollars ($430 million) to Mengniu by the end of this year. The deal was approved this February by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.

But the sale ran up against misgivings in Australia’s government, which has appeared eager to protect important sectors like agriculture from Chinese investment. Kirin said Tuesday the deal was off.

“We have no choice but to negotiate with a non-Chinese company or investment fund,” a Kirin executive told Nikkei on condition of anonymity.

Kirin sees no prospect of winning Australian government approval for the Mengniu deal and looks to conclude negotiations with a new buyer this year, the executive said.


Japanese beer and soft drink company Kirin had originally announced the deal to sell its Australian dairy unit to China’s Mengniu last November. 

  © Reuters

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a statement Tuesday that he had communicated “my preliminary view to Mengniu Dairy that the proposed acquisition would be contrary to the national interest.”

After Kirin discussed the matter with Mengniu, both sides concluded that the deal would not pass muster with Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board, an advisory body to the treasurer.

“Given this approval [by the FIRB] has not been secured to date and is unlikely to be forthcoming at this time, regrettably, the parties have agreed to terminate the agreement,” Kirin said Tuesday in a statement.

Relations between Australia and China have become strained this year. Alarmed by an influx of Chinese money, Australia this March decided that all cross-border investments must gain government clearance. In June, Canberra announced tougher restrictions on foreign investments deemed sensitive to national security.

China has since May halted imports of some Australian meat and slapped additional tariffs on Australian barley. This month, Beijing announced an anti-dumping inquiry into Australian wine.

Kirin decided to sell Lion Dairy & Drinks — part of Lion, which oversees Kirin’s operations in Australia and New Zealand — in October 2018 as part of a review of underperforming overseas operations.

This year, sales at the unit are projected to fall roughly 10%, while operating profit is forecast to plunge 83% owing to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kirin is trying to diversify from its core beer business and expand in health care. Last year the company acquired a 30% stake in Japanese cosmetics and health food maker Fancl, as well as taking over Kyowa Hakko Bio’s biochemical business.

Mengniu issued a brief statement before the market opened on Tuesday. The company said it has agreed to terminate the agreement with Kirin as “one of the conditions stated in the announcement has not been fulfilled” by the designated date.

Hong Kong-listed Mengniu shares fell 0.7% Tuesday. Kirin shares closed down 1.2% in Tokyo.





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Emergency services attend fire at Goldsmith Street unit block | Goulburn Post


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Paramedics have treated two people for minor smoke inhalation following a kitchen fire. The fire started inside a block of units in Goldsmith Street before 12.45pm on Tuesday, August 25. Two people were transported from the scene to Goulburn Base Hospital. Read also: Hungry Jack’s customers turn the right way for a burger Man killed, four people injured in head-on collision overnight NSW Ambulance and Fire and Rescue NSW crews attended the job. FRNSW Goulburn station officer Darrell Law said the fire started after a man had fallen asleep with a pot on the stove. “It was burnt to crisp, he’d accidentally fallen asleep on the lounge,” Mr Law said. “Smoke alarms and a neighbour’s knock at the door woke him up. “Once he opened the door, they threw the pot out the window and it landed on the ground.” Firefighters ventilated the building and checked the room with a gas detector after about 30 minutes. “Unfortunately two people were taken to Goulburn Base Hospital,” Mr Law said. “The smoke was quite thick in the unit. We don’t know how long the man had been asleep.” Mr Law said the smoke alarm activated and prevented a much larger fire. “It could’ve spread to the rangehood and ended up a lot worse,” he said.

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Canberra’s first unit for early pregnancy loss to be a healing space for mothers and families


Bereaved Canberra mother Karen Schlage felt robbed of her dignity when son Charlie was induced at 16 weeks’ gestation.

Despite losing Charlie early, she had always thought of him as her baby, but said maternity staff at the public hospital had not echoed her sentiment.

Hospital staff told Karen she would be “taken for surgery to have the products of conception removed,” a reference to her baby that deeply hurt her.

“They’re our children,” Karen said.

At the time, Karen was given no choice but to deliver Charlie in the hospital’s emergency ward with only a thin sheet for privacy. 

“I couldn’t labour the way that I actually needed to,” she said. 

But she channelled her grief into fighting for a dedicated early pregnancy ward on behalf of other early loss mothers — and her work has finally been rewarded.

Karen Schlage with memory boxes for her late children.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Early loss unit to be a ‘healing space’

About 500 women each year receive care through Canberra Health Services for surgical miscarriages, terminations due to medical emergency or ectopic pregnancies.

Yesterday, the ACT Government announced a new unit dedicated to early pregnancy complications will be part of the $50 million expansion of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children already underway.

The three-bed unit will be co-located with the antenatal unit, and is due to be completed in 2022.

It will care for early pregnancy loss or termination, whether for foetal abnormalities or if continuing the pregnancy would physically or mentally harm the mother.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the planned unit would be a “healing space”.

She praised Karen for sharing her heartbreaking story and said she was helping to dispel secrecy and stigma surrounding early pregnancy loss.

“It is something that is taboo to talk about, that people don’t want to think about,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

Three women study development plans for maternal health facility
Mother Karen Schlage, Canberra Health Services’ executive director of women, youth and children Tina Bracher, and Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith examine plans for the expansion of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

It would be difficult to determine whether the number of beds planned was sufficient until the unit was operational, she said.

“One of the challenges we always face across our health system is that demand seems to come in peaks and troughs,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“It’s not necessarily even across the year, but I think the existence of this unit will give us an opportunity to understand what that demand is.”

‘So sorry you have to’, but grateful you can

After losing Charlie, Karen gave evidence at the Legislative Assembly’s Maternity Services Inquiry while pregnant with her second baby — a daughter, Sophia, who she had already been told would not, and did not, survive.

Having been through loss twice, she said the Government’s early pregnancy unit announcement is welcome progress.

Centenary Hospital for Women and Children
The Centenary Hospital for Women and Children at Woden in Canberra’s south.(ABC News)

“It will prevent other women from having to deliver in emergency departments or lose their babies in emergency departments,” Karen said.

“To the women and families who will use this facility, I am so, so sorry that you will have to, but I am so grateful that you will be able to.”



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Andhra Pradesh: 25 hospitalised after gas leak incident at Chittoor dairy unit | Amaravati News


The affected people have been admitted to Chittoor government hospital (ANI)

TIRUPATI: As many as 25 people were hospitalised late on Thursday after they inhaled a gas that leaked from a dairy unit at Bandapalli village in Putalapattu mandal of Chittoor district. The condition of five of them is said to be critical.
It is suspected that ammonia gas had leaked from the dairy unit. The affected people have been shifted to Chittoor government hospital. The cause of the gas leak is not clear.
Revenue and police officials visited the plant and took up measures to plug the leak. Minister P Ramachandra Reddy spoke to the district collector and directed him to provide the best possible medical care to the affected.



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Basildon University Hospital maternity unit rated ‘inadequate’


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Basildon University Hospital has been told its maternity services were inadequate after a whistleblower’s fears sparked a surprise inspection

A maternity unit has been rated inadequate after a “lack of learning” from a mother’s death has led to the “same failings” in new serious cases.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors turned up unannounced at Basildon University Hospital, Essex, after a whistleblower voiced fears.

The watchdog told the department to improve last year, but returned due to concerns about six cases this year.

Clare Panniker, of the hospital trust, said it was “focused” on improving.

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Gabriela Pintilie died hours after giving birth by C-section to her second child at Basildon University Hospital in 2019

The unit was criticised following the deaths of baby Ennis Pecaku in September 2018 and mother Gabriela Pintilie, 36, in February 2019.

The CQC inspected the department the month Mrs Pintilie died and said the unit, which had once been rated outstanding, required improvement.

In June, inspectors returned for a surprise “focused” inspection after being contacted by an anonymous whistleblower.

They were concerned about babies who had to have specialist cooling treatment, which is sometimes offered to newborns who have had a lack of oxygen during birth.

During their visit, inspectors found:

  • High-risk women giving birth in a low-risk area
  • Not enough staff with the right skills and experience
  • “Dysfunctional” working between midwives, doctors and consultants, which had an impact on the “increased number of safety incidents reported”
  • Concerns over foetal heart monitoring
  • Women being referred to by room numbers instead of their names
  • A “lack of response by consultants to emergencies” resulting in delays

The CQC also referred to issues relating to the death of Mrs Pintilie, who was not named in the report, and said five serious incidents “identified the same failings of care”.

“This demonstrated there had been a lack of learning from previous incidents and actions put in place were not embedded.”

However, it also identified several areas of good practice.

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Hospital trust chief executive Clare Panniker said changes were already under way to its maternity services

Ms Panniker, chief executive of Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust which runs the hospital, said the serious cases were being investigated independently, £1.8m had been invested in staffing and a new clinical director was in post.

Nine midwives and two consultants had already started working and 20 more midwives would join in the autumn.

She also said its poor workplace culture was “unacceptable” and would not be tolerated.

“We’ve been really focused in the last few months in making the improvements that mean women can be confident to come and have their babies in the maternity department at Basildon and be very safe in the process,” she said.

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