Council isn’t budging on bridge credit after residents hit ‘brick walls’


By Matt Dennien
Updated

Brisbane City Council has no plans to change eligibility requirements for its Go Between Bridge toll credit scheme despite fewer than 1000 residents being granted the subsidy and others hitting unexpected impasses while trying.

Most of the 9000 vehicles that had used the nearby Victoria Bridge daily have re-routed to the William Jolly Bridge, with patronage on the Go Between remaining about 10,500 trips a day and sparking calls from the RACQ for better incentives and discounts for the “under-utilised asset”.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey has weighed in, calling for a loosening of the criteria to more renters and private vehicle owners.

The scheme was rolled out alongside the closure of nearby Victoria Bridge to general traffic in late January as part of the $1.2 billion Brisbane Metro project, to help residents south of the CBD with the potential increased cost of crossing the river.

Those in the 4101 postcode suburbs of Highgate Hill, South Brisbane and West End could be granted the $100 annual credit, which would be added to their Linkt account and reviewed each year for a maximum of four years. The council then pays this subsidy to administrator Transurban.

While 2016 census data showed about two-thirds of the 23,000 people who lived in the area rented, well above the Queensland and national averages of closer to 30 per cent, those applying for the scheme must have six months remaining on a tenancy to be eligible.

Others have discovered utes and vans were ineligible for the credit even if only used for personal travel.

One resident, Lucy Gabb, had applied for the scheme only to hit “brick walls” and be told in emails seen by Brisbane Times that her single-cab ute, along with dual-cab varieties and vans, were not included.

“It’s not that much of a big deal but it was just frustrating because I had to do all the legwork to find out,” she said. “If they had said straight away you weren’t eligible, I wouldn’t have applied.”

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What life is like behind the walls of the high-security Thomas Embling Hospital


Tall eucalypts tower in the distance, grey upper branches cradling blue sky.

A grey wall, several metres high with a steep overhang, marks the perimeter.

The overhang, which makes climbing impossible, is to stop anyone absconding over the perimeter wall.

This is Thomas Embling Hospital, a high-security forensic mental health hospital in Melbourne’s inner north-east.

If someone in Victoria commits a very serious crime, but is found to be so mentally ill that they didn’t understand what they were doing, rather than being sent to prison, they are sent here.

Along with the high wall, there are less-visible security measures.

“There is a secure zone, which is called a sterile zone, and that has motion sensors within the perimeter wall,” the hospital’s Executive Director of Clinical Services Danny Sullivan tells RN’s Law Report.

“Anyone who enters that will set off an alarm.”

The hospital is currently home to 136 patients. James* is one of them.

He currently resides in the Jardine ward, a locked facility across the road from the main hospital.

It’s the final step before release into the community.

Many years ago, James committed a homicide and other serious violent offences after he went off his daily medication for two months.

“I was just hearing voices and the voices were commanding me to do things,” he says.

He was also having delusional visual hallucinations.

“My head wasn’t good,” he says.

Over time, James responded to treatment and gradually reached a point where he was allowed to live in the community.

“I got out about three years ago and then I had a bit of a bump in the road,” he says.

A urine drug test detected ice, and he was returned to the secure psychiatric hospital.

“I’ve been in ever since,” he says.

On the morning we visit, the campus feels empty – birdsong from nearby Yarra Bend Park rings out across a road that circles around the interior’s low-rise buildings.

The security system is a complex mix of cameras, x-ray machines, iris recognition scanners, keys and electronics.

Movement within the campus is restricted depending on the patient’s risk profile.

Some are in assisted living accommodation with access to kitchens and cutlery. Some, like James, hold down jobs outside the perimeter walls.

Others can’t go much further than the next room. There’s good reason for the precautions.

“Most of the people here will have either killed someone or seriously harmed them,” Mr Sullivan says.

“You don’t get in here if it’s simply that you were taking drugs at the time, you get in here because you have a serious mental illness and it’s so serious that when you go to trial it’s seen that you weren’t criminally responsible for what you did.

Thank you for dropping in to My Local Pages and checking this news article on “News in the City of Melbourne called “What life is like behind the walls of the high-security Thomas Embling Hospital”. This news update was presented by My Local Pages Australia as part of our current events and news aggregator services.

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Pressure on Carlton Blues coach David Teague as club great Robert Walls questions his future


Heading into their Community Series clash against St Kilda on Thursday, the Blues have made no secret of their desire to return to September action for the first time since 2013, their latest blueprint, The Carlton Way, calling for a flag, the club’s 17th and first since 1995, within the next three years.

Teague, 39, replaced Brendon Bolton as caretaker coach midway through 2019 and had the side in finals contention amid the COVID-19 tumult of 2020 before a stinging loss to Collingwood in round 14 sparked a run of four defeats in five matches, which cruelled their hopes.

He is contracted through until the end of 2022 but the spectre of Alastair Clarkson looms large across the league, for the four-time premiership coach is also off-contract next year, but he and the Hawks will almost certainly seek clarity on his future this year.

The Blues had made a strong bid for Clarkson and sounded out other contracted AFL coaches after Bolton was moved on. Walls had been brought back to the club in late 2018 as a mentor to Bolton and his coaching crew.

“I think they need to play finals, that’s where they are at. It’s been a very slow, gradual build but the time has come,” Walls said.

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“I would like to see them play more attacking football. I think they started off doing that under David but it wasn’t to be seen a lot last year. Play with a boldness, and I think [Zac] Williams and [Adam] Saad will help them do that. They are pretty attacking players.

“And [they need to] kick a score. They need blokes like [Mitch] McGovern to step up and show something. [Harry] McKay is going to be a good player. He has showed that. Eddie [Betts], is he just about done? Looked like it last season. Hopefully, he can show a bit. They need to kick a decent score. That’s been their problem.”

The Blues were 10th for goals scored last season, averaging 8.6 goals per game, but forward Michael Gibbons said on Tuesday the Blues now had a good variety of talls and a “fleet of mosquitoes“, with an off-season focus on “separation” and “isolation” to give the marking forwards the best chance to operate.

Walls believes the backline is strong but said co-captain Patrick Cripps, a free agent at the end of the season, needed more support, although he added emerging star Sam Walsh, second behind Jacob Weitering in last year’s best and fairest, was “terrific” and veteran Ed Curnow “probably doesn’t get the pats on the back that he should get”.

“They have been doing a lot right off field. They have got their act together off field with their president, their CEO, their footy manager in Brad Lloyd. I am confident they have good people in place but it’s time to deliver on-field,” he said.

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6 California inmates escape jail using homemade rope to descend walls, police say


Police are searching for the men, including one who is charged with murder.

Police in central California are on the hunt for six men they say escaped from a jail late Saturday night by scaling down its walls from the roof with homemade rope.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Office said the inmates, who range from 19 to 22 years old, were first spotted missing from their cells before midnight. Officers determined they were able “to gain access to the roof of the facility and utilize a homemade rope to scale down the side of the jail,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post.

The fugitives who escaped from the Merced County Sheriff’s Office Jail have been identified and described as the following:

Fabian Cruz Roman, 22, 5-feet, 6-inches tall and 155 pounds, was in jail for a charge of murder, according to the sheriff’s office.

Gabriel Francis Cornado, 19, 5-feet, 10-inches tall and 225 pounds, was in jail for charges of attempted murder, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, participation in a criminal street gang, felon in possession of a firearm and violation of probation, the sheriff’s office said.

Manuel Allen Leon, 21, 5-feet, 10-inches tall and 165 pounds, was in jail for charges of assault with a firearm, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, evading a peace officer-reckless driving, participation in a criminal street gang and carrying a loaded firearm, according to the sheriff’s office.

Andrews Nunez Rodriguez Jr., 21, 5-feet, 7-inches tall and 145 pounds, was in jail for charges of attempted murder, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, participation in a criminal street gang and possession of a firearm, the sheriff’s office said.

Edgar Eduardo Ventura, 22, 5-feet, 11-inches tall and 129 pounds, was in jail for charges of felon in possession of a firearm, participation in a criminal street gang and violation of probation, the sheriff’s office said.

Jorge Barron, 20, 5-feet, 5-inches tall and 140 pounds, was in jail for a charge of violation of probation, the sheriff’s office said.

A task force has been created to find the fugitives, and anyone with information is asked to call 911, the sheriff’s office said.

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Migratory fish to get some help to scale dam walls


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“We’ve got an awful backlog of rivers that have to be dealt with,” Professor Harris said. “The more we obstruct movement, the more species will decline and ultimately disappear.”

The solution, as conceived by Professor Harris and being developed by a UNSW team of ecologists and engineers, may be fishways that can be built using standard tubing and specially designed values at a fraction of the cost of concrete and steel structures.

With the latter often operational for just a third of the time, the effectiveness of so-called tube fishways adds to the appeal.

UNSW’s Stefan Felder and Maryam Farzadkhoo prepare a fish lifting tube experiment designed to enable native fish to reach higher water levels such as dams or weirs.

Credit:Nick Moir

Researchers at UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory in Manly Vale say they have been able to marry the knowledge of applied fluid dynamics and the behaviour of fish species such as silver perch to develop a type of syphon that can pump fish to a higher level without harming them.

“It goes super quick,” Stefen Felder, one of the engineers, said. “Fish don’t realise what’s happening – it’s over in about two seconds.”

Sucked in: a juvenile silver perch is about to go for a ride as it nears the “attraction” point of the tube fishway being tested at Manly Vale.

Sucked in: a juvenile silver perch is about to go for a ride as it nears the “attraction” point of the tube fishway being tested at Manly Vale. Credit:Nick Moir

The fish are protected by a cushion of air, with the pressure coming from the difference between the upper water body where the fish end up and the lower one where they start. The mechanism was understood as far back as the mid-18th century by Swiss mathematician Daniel Bernoulli.

While the two prototypes were limited to four and eight metres, the process is likely to work at much longer lengths, making the tubes applicable for most dam walls.

“Our numerical modelling work shows that this system will work reliably for pipes at least one metre in diameter, lifting fish more than 100 metres vertically,“ Bill Peirson, a UNSW engineering professor, said. “This is potentially a game changer in the ecological management of large dams.”

Maryam Farzadkhoo, a UNSW PhD candidate, who has been developing the methods to draw the fish towards the tube fishway.

Maryam Farzadkhoo, a UNSW PhD candidate, who has been developing the methods to draw the fish towards the tube fishway.Credit:Nick Moir

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Key to the prototypes’ success has the been the development of the intake funnels that create a subtle flow of water that attract fish without bait or other lures. Tests using silver perch and Australian bass have been successful, and the process will be tried on other species.

“Once they are in the tube, they can’t escape” before they are transported to the higher level, Dr Felder said, adding the technique should be able to work the other way with modifications to allow fish to migrate downstream too.

Two boys play in the Barwon-Darling River near Brewarrina Weir: there are thousands of obstructions built on Australian rivers, inhibiting fish movement.

Two boys play in the Barwon-Darling River near Brewarrina Weir: there are thousands of obstructions built on Australian rivers, inhibiting fish movement.Credit:Getty Images

Part of the funding for the fishways has come from NSW Fisheries. The tubes first outing in the wild could be at the Marsden St Weir on the Parramatta River. The scientists are discussing plans with Parramatta City Council.

“I’m encouraged that the successful final design is ready for application,” Professor Harris said. “The globe’s the limit.”

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Migratory fish to get some help to scale dam walls


Loading

“We’ve got an awful backlog of rivers that have to be dealt with,” Professor Harris said. “The more we obstruct movement, the more species will decline and ultimately disappear.”

The solution, as conceived by Professor Harris and being developed by a UNSW team of ecologists and engineers, may be fishways that can be built using standard tubing and specially designed values at a fraction of the cost of concrete and steel structures.

With the latter often operational for just a third of the time, the effectiveness of so-called tube fishways adds to the appeal.

UNSW’s Stefan Felder and Maryam Farzadkhoo prepare a fish lifting tube experiment designed to enable native fish to reach higher water levels such as dams or weirs.

Credit:Nick Moir

Researchers at UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory in Manly Vale say they have been able to marry the knowledge of applied fluid dynamics and the behaviour of fish species such as silver perch to develop a type of syphon that can pump fish to a higher level without harming them.

“It goes super quick,” Stefen Felder, one of the engineers, said. “Fish don’t realise what’s happening – it’s over in about two seconds.”

Sucked in: a juvenile silver perch is about to go for a ride as it nears the “attraction” point of the tube fishway being tested at Manly Vale.

Sucked in: a juvenile silver perch is about to go for a ride as it nears the “attraction” point of the tube fishway being tested at Manly Vale. Credit:Nick Moir

The fish are protected by a cushion of air, with the pressure coming from the difference between the upper water body where the fish end up and the lower one where they start. The mechanism was understood as far back as the mid-18th century by Swiss mathematician Daniel Bernoulli.

While the two prototypes were limited to four and eight metres, the process is likely to work at much longer lengths, making the tubes applicable for most dam walls.

“Our numerical modelling work shows that this system will work reliably for pipes at least one metre in diameter, lifting fish more than 100 metres vertically,“ Bill Peirson, a UNSW engineering professor, said. “This is potentially a game changer in the ecological management of large dams.”

Maryam Farzadkhoo, a UNSW PhD candidate, who has been developing the methods to draw the fish towards the tube fishway.

Maryam Farzadkhoo, a UNSW PhD candidate, who has been developing the methods to draw the fish towards the tube fishway.Credit:Nick Moir

Loading

Key to the prototypes’ success has the been the development of the intake funnels that create a subtle flow of water that attract fish without bait or other lures. Tests using silver perch and Australian bass have been successful, and the process will be tried on other species.

“Once they are in the tube, they can’t escape” before they are transported to the higher level, Dr Felder said, adding the technique should be able to work the other way with modifications to allow fish to migrate downstream too.

Two boys play in the Barwon-Darling River near Brewarrina Weir: there are thousands of obstructions built on Australian rivers, inhibiting fish movement.

Two boys play in the Barwon-Darling River near Brewarrina Weir: there are thousands of obstructions built on Australian rivers, inhibiting fish movement.Credit:Getty Images

Part of the funding for the fishways has come from NSW Fisheries. The tubes first outing in the wild could be at the Marsden St Weir on the Parramatta River. The scientists are discussing plans with Parramatta City Council.

“I’m encouraged that the successful final design is ready for application,” Professor Harris said. “The globe’s the limit.”

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Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in Environment

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Art world breaks out beyond walls and retrains the public, virtually


It’s not a new rule of thirds that the art world wants to embrace: An estimated 1 out of 3 museums could close permanently as a result of the pandemic. But like many types of nonprofit and for-profit businesses, museums and galleries have spent the past six months getting creative.

There are virtual exhibit tours, artist interviews, educational classes, and more, with some surprising benefits: the ability to reach a global audience, to provide access to those with restricted mobility, and to attract young people. “No matter how old school one might be,” says gallery owner Sundaram Tagore, “people in the art world were recognizing that technology is pervasive, and we all need to adapt to it. COVID-19 has accelerated that process.”

With travel limited, artists and their promoters are networking less in person. Art collectors and aficionados have more opportunities to assess blank walls that need filling. Painter Jeanne Rosier Smith credits a live video exhibit opening for a boost in sales of her work. “People are staying home with their families,” she says. “Their worlds have become smaller. They are looking around their space and wanting to bring joy and beauty into their lives now more than ever.”

When a pipe burst in January at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, it caused a flood that shuttered the popular museum in Rockland for a few months. The crisis forced a deep dive into technology to keep audiences engaged – and it left the CMCA staff better prepared for the pandemic-related shutdown in mid-March. 

“The flood gave us a head start so that when COVID hit, we could respond rapidly and continue to offer the three-dimensional, virtual tours that we’d just produced,” says CMCA Executive Director Suzette McAvoy. “We’d also received some great feedback by then, so we were awarded a grant that has helped us move forward.” 

As museums and art galleries look for the resources to stay open and preserve staffing, some are finding that a hybrid approach – part virtual, part in-person – is the best way to engage with the public. 

“For a long time, it’s been hard for people to understand the role that digital can play in the life of a museum. But since we were forced to go digital in March, even our directors now refer to digital as our ‘third campus,’” says Derek O’Brien, chief marketing officer for the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The PEM, with campuses for both the museum and a collection center, recently reopened at limited capacity for fewer days than usual and will continue to host virtual events. 

At a time of uncertainty, the art world is mustering as many options as it can. Museums from Los Angeles to New York have been laying off and furloughing hundreds of employees since March. In July, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) released findings of its survey of 760 museum directors, including those from non-art institutions, confirming the extent of the economic toll caused by pandemic closures. The group warned that 1 out of every 3 museums could close permanently as financial reserves and funding sources dry up. 

The Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland is inviting visitors to its airy in-person space, while also offering online events such as art lab workshops.

All told, the ripple effect could be devastating, according to the AAM. “Museums support 726,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute $50 billion each year to the economy,” the group said in a statement in July. 

Lasting success for galleries in particular could come down to survival of the most innovative, according to Barry Schwabsky, art critic for The Nation. “Many galleries may not survive the crisis, but those that do will have to be more creative in their thinking, and perhaps smaller and more nimble as well as more collaborative in their ways of working,” he wrote in a July 1 article, “What Are Art Galleries For?”

Reimagining interaction with art

After six months of thinking on their feet, many galleries – and museums – are proving Mr. Schwabsky’s point. They are stepping into the virtual realm with exhibit tours, artist interviews, educational classes, and more. They are also discovering some surprising benefits: the ability to reach a global audience, to provide access to those with restricted mobility, and to attract young people. 

Also, with travel limited, artists and their promoters are less busy jetting around the globe in a whirlwind of networking events. Likewise, art collectors and aficionados are staying home more, offering more opportunities to assess blank walls that need filling.  

Those interviewed concur that even the most dazzling virtual presentation cannot replicate the experience of viewing art in person, but they acknowledge the vital importance of what’s often referred to as net art, and even seem upbeat about the hybrid experience that they agree is likely here to stay.

“It’s a bit of a silver lining,” says Mr. O’Brien, at the PEM, who previously worked in the tech industry. He has been spearheading the online shift at PEM, and while excited about it, says it was difficult in early March when the museum had just opened a major exhibit on Jacob Lawrence and then, because of the pandemic, had to quickly capture it digitally for a virtual tour.

Transcending boundaries 

Sundaram Tagore, owner of the 20-year-old Sundaram Tagore Gallery with locations in New York, Singapore, and Hong Kong, says the pandemic-induced plunge into the digital realm was bound to happen. “No matter how old school one might be,” he says, “people in the art world were recognizing that technology is pervasive, and we all need to adapt to it. COVID-19 has accelerated that process.” 

Courtesy of The Peabody Essex Museum

In April 2020, the Peabody Essex Museum held a virtual Q&A with producer and director DeMane Davis, whose most recent work is “Self Made: Inspired by The Life of Madam C.J. Walker,” which debuted March 20 on Netflix. The four-part series stars Octavia Spencer, Blair Underwood, Carmen Ejogo, and Tiffany Haddish.

His gallery, which states that its goal is to “provide venues for art that transcends boundaries” and is now open in all three cities, has embraced technology. His team has developed sophisticated 3D virtual tours, set aside private viewing rooms, and provided clients a tool to visualize how paintings would look in their homes. Mr. Tagore also likes to promote studio visits with artists – but they must have a bit of star quality, he says. Hiroshi Senju is one artist, he says, who is a natural for this medium. “Just producing art is no longer good enough,” he explains. “An artist needs to speak well and be engaging and entertaining, or they will be left behind.” 

Jeanne Rosier Smith is one artist who has learned to love the camera. But it took a bit of time. Ms. Rosier Smith, who paints in her studio outside Boston and is represented by several East Coast galleries from Boothbay Harbor, Maine, to St. Simons Island, Georgia, typically enjoys mingling with people at art openings and was tentative at first about taking these events online. 

But with pandemic restrictions halting those in-person openings, she realized she needed to jump in. With 35,000 followers on Instagram, she recently chose Instagram Live as a venue for a virtual tour of her exhibit at Gallery 31 in Orleans, Massachusetts. To her delight, the event generated the briskest month of sales of her two-decade career. “I’ve been shaking my head in disbelief,” she says. “More than 400 people watched, from California to Colorado and Texas. That would never have been possible in person.”

While she credits the virtual venue for helping to broaden her reach, she also says the response speaks to something deeper. “People are staying home with their families. Their worlds have become smaller. They are looking around their space and wanting to bring joy and beauty into their lives now more than ever.” 

Editor’s note: As a public service, we have removed our paywall for all pandemic-related stories.



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Derby District High School ‘forgotten’, as wobbling asbestos walls and ‘scary’ toilets spark outrage


As 63 schools across Western Australia welcome millions of dollars of capital works funding, one school in the Kimberley has again been left feeling “forgotten”, with facilities described as “unacceptable by any standard”.

Asbestos walls wobbling out of their frames, licks of paint that no longer stick, and female students “holding on” because the toilet facilities are so poor — these are some of the conditions at Derby District High School.

The conditions have parents and the wider community angry and desperately calling on the State Government to provide new high school buildings.

Built between 1957 and 1985, the school runs from kindergarten to Year 12 and has 634 students.

Of those students enrolled, 85 per cent are Indigenous — the highest proportion in the state.

In recent years, there have been upgrades to the kindergarten and primary school, including new classrooms and a performing arts centre for all years, which were welcomed by parents.

But Sarah Hardman, the chairperson of the school council, said the core facilities of the high school, like classrooms and bathrooms, had been addressed with only “band-aid” fixes for decades.

Sarah Hardman, the chair of the Derby school council, described the school as falling into a state of disrepair.(ABC: Andrew Seabourne)

Some areas of the high school haven’t had major works since they were built over 50 years ago.

“It looks dirty, it looks grimy, there are holes in walls, there are old ventilation and air-conditioning units, rust cancer throughout the building, and the maintenance is very difficult because of the level of asbestos,” she said.

This month the State Government announced over $300 million of funding to “modernise” 63 schools across the state.

Despite lobbying, Derby got none.

“In the region, our facilities are probably the lowest standard within the Kimberley region, and to hear that again Derby has been forgotten about it was incredibly disappointing,” she said.

Ms Hardman said the toilets and shower blocks, in both the high school and primary school areas, were particularly bad.

“All the cubicles have had a cage put over the top of them, it’s graffitied, it’s really old building materials, it’s dark and it’s gloomy and it just needs to be replaced.

“And then the shower block in the middle school area is appalling, with real privacy issues — no proper shower screens or cubicles.”

The three showers, which service all 624 mainstream students in the school, are cold water only.

In the high school, there are only two toilets — one male and one female — for use by 200 students.

A white toilet cubicle with cage over top, graffiti on wall and sink in corner.
The only female toilet available for girls in Years 8 to 12(ABC: Tyne Logan)

Impacts on attendance, staff retention

Shire president Geoff Haerewa said for a town with so many social issues, the state of the high school was not good enough.

“We’ve got a large proportion of our district where children come from dysfunctional families,” he said.

There is also a view that the school facilities are one of the leading causes of falling high school attendance and staff retention, as well-intentioned teachers struggle in to engage students in the “out of date” classroom and parents send their children to Broome or Perth for upper school.

The school had 22 principles in 14 years up to last year.

Politicians aware

A head and shoulders shot of WA Education Minister Sue Ellery talking during a media conference.
Sue Ellery says the Government has begun a feasibility study on upgrades to the showers, toilets and laundry facilities at Derby District High School(ABC News)

The school is well and truly on politicians’ radars.

In July last year, following a tour of the school from young students and parents, Senator Dean Smith wrote to Education Minister Sue Ellery describing the toilet facilities for senior high school students as “unacceptable by any standard”.

“Anyone that has taken the time to go behind the fence at Derby would be outraged to see the poor quality of building infrastructure and students, parents and teachers have to endure in 2020,” he said.

He said it needed to be remedied immediately.

The halls at Derby District High School
There are calls for the high school classrooms to be replaced, and new toilets and showers built.(ABC: Tyne Logan)

The Derby/West Kimberley Shire also gave up their time with treasurer Ben Wyatt to show him the school on a visit to Derby in June.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said they “recognised” they needed to upgrade the bathroom facilities and were already acting on it.

“An architect has already had a look at what is needed in terms of parents legitimate concerns about toilets, laundry and shower facilities,” she said.

“A feasibility study is being done now.

“While they were there they also took the opportunity to look elsewhere.”

But Ms Ellery would not give a timeframe or guarantee the facilities would be replaced.

Asked why Derby did not receive funding in the latest announcement, Ms Ellery said it was a “mixed process”.

“There are over 800 schools, over 50 per cent of those schools are over 50 years of age, so we certainly couldn’t fit them all in that one announcement,” she said.

She said it did not reflect the Derby school not being a priority.

“We are taking their concerns seriously,” she said.



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Johnny Depp wrote ‘I love u’ on walls with severed finger, court hears


Hollywood star Johnny Depp wrote “I love u” in his own blood with his severed finger in a rage against Amber Heard described as a three-day hostage situation, London’s High Court heard on Thursday.

Heard, 34, claimed she had to barricade herself in a room after Depp allegedly shoved her into a ping-pong table and choked her against the fridge in Australia in March 2015.

The court heard how Depp’s finger was severed in a furious row about what he claims was a post-nuptial agreement that Heard refused to sign.

Depp said Heard was “riled up” and threw a vodka bottle at him before throwing another that smashed and sliced the top of his finger off.

MORE: Depp’s brutal text messages read in court

Heard’s account of the situation claimed he injured his own hand by smashing a phone against the wall.

Depp admitted ripping the phone off the wall but said it was because he was upset over his finger injury. The court was shown pictures of writing scrawled on the walls and heard how Depp used his finger tip to write “I love u” on a mirror in the rented property.

The court was told how Depp allegedly urinated on the floor and painted a fake penis on a picture of a woman.

Heard said she was left with “cuts all over her body” after the three day “ordeal of assaults” while Depp had a burn on his face from a cigarette being stubbed out on it.

Heard said she had been “scared for her life” and told Depp he was “hurting and cutting her.”

Depp has vehemently denied carrying out any physical abuse towards his ex-wife and said he was in “no condition” to carry out an attack and was having a breakdown at the time.

The shocking allegations were aired in a London court in a high-profile libel trial against The Sun, which Depp is suing for calling him a “wife beater” in a 2018 article.

Of the incident with the injured finger, Depp said: “When I realised that the top of my finger was missing and pouring blood profusely and the bones was sticking out, I believe that I went into some kind of breakdown.”

“I was at the end. I couldn’t live, didn’t want to live at that time.”

The court also heard how Depp used paint to write “Starring Billy-Bob” on the walls of the property – in reference to Bill Bob Thornton with whom he believed Heard was having an affair.

Sasha Wass QC, who is representing News Group Newspapers, publishers of The Sun, said the house was “completely destroyed”.

But Depp testified on Thursday he was so strung out or high at times he was “in no condition” to hurt Heard.

He said the 2014-15 period was a low point in his life when he was in a “great deal of pain” after having detoxed in the Bahamas.

“I did not push Ms Heard or attack in any way, and certainly I was in no condition to in any way,” he said.

“I was in no physical condition to push anyone.”

Depp’s doctor David Kipper also penned a letter to the court which said the Edward Scissorhands star “romanticises the drug culture” and has no intention to quit.

“He is … quite childlike,” the doctor’s conclusion said.

Depp’s defence is trying to portray the 34-year-old Heard as a manipulative and scheming publicity seeker who was collecting damaging evidence against her husband from the start.

NGN lawyer Sasha Wass countered by going through each one his alleged actions in graphic detail.

“You pulled her hair and slapped her face, spat on her face while holding onto a bottle of spirits while drinking from it,” Wass told Depp at one point.

“And all this time you were screaming at Ms Heard that you hated her, threw Ms Heard against the ping-pong table, which collapsed,” she read.

“You were smashing her head so that the back of her head hit against the fridge, and you were blaming her for doing this,” she alleged.

Depp said no and “not true” after each sentence and ran his hand through his shoulder-length hair with a sigh.

But he recalled feeling unsettled about Heard’s relationship with fellow actor Billy Bob Thornton on the set of the film “London Fields”.

He also said he was prone to blackouts but still remembered particular episodes well enough to deny the various charges.

“There were blackouts for sure and in any blackouts there are snippets of memory and in recalling that memory you see snippets of pictures but you don’t see the whole memory,” he said.

The trial continues.

The Sun is owned by News Corporation, publisher of News.com.au.

– With wires



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Lifted coronavirus restrictions see Canberra businesses scramble to measure rooms, install new walls


With the news they can reopen to 20 patrons per “enclosed space”, Canberra’s hospitality venues have been preparing to cater to larger numbers this long weekend.

The ACT Government yesterday announced its coronavirus recovery plan, which will see a gradual easing of restrictions, beginning at 11.59pm on Friday night, May 30.

For some venues, that has meant quickly measuring their spaces and finding ways to allow for more customers.

But some confusion remains, with the ACT Government attracting criticism for choosing not to fall in “lock-step” with New South Wales, where up to 50 patrons will be permitted from June 1.

‘I was on my hands and knees with the tape measure’

The announcement that the ACT would be allowing more patrons into venues — as well as permitting gyms, beauty parlours and cultural institutions to reopen — came as a relief to many Canberra business owners.

Glen Collins, who owns pub The Dock at Kingston Foreshore, said he was still a little confused by the new model, but would be opening on Saturday.

“It looks like we can have at least 20 for Saturday, and it’s just a little vague as to whether we can have more depending on whether we can break up our big space into two spaces,” Mr Collins said.

Chairs are stacked on the tables at the empty pub.
The Dock in Kingston has been closed due to coronavirus restrictions.(ABC News: Mark Moore)

Mr Collins said he hoped to hear more soon on what an “enclosed space” meant for those wanting to cater to more than just 20 people at a time.

“Potentially we could have two spaces in the bar, and two spaces in the outside area,” he said.

“We would really love to get the ball rolling, and keep people back in the pub and bums on seats — get the beers flowing again.”

‘Enclosed space’ another phrase for the coronavirus lexicon

Australian Hotels Association ACT president Anthony Brierley said an “enclosed space” was, to his knowledge, defined as “an area that is largely or to the majority extent enclosed by roof and walls, regardless of whether those roof and walls are shut, temporary or permanent.”

Mr Brierley said whether a venue could include more than one enclosed space would vary across the sector.

“I think it’s really going to depend on the configuration inside the venues,” he said.

“But the newer venues that might only have one space overall, that might be perceived as a bit cavernous, that might be a little bit difficult for them. But I’m sure there’ll be some smart people working out how they can take advantage of this relaxation.”

Southern cross club
The Southern Cross Club in Woden was constructing temporary walls ahead of lifted restrictions.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

Mr Brierley said many of the AHA’s members had hoped the ACT would fall into line with NSW with 50 patrons.

“It would’ve been nice to get there, it would have brought more people back to work and it certainly would have got the industry humming again,” he said.

Temporary walls a quick solution

At the Southern Cross Club, builders will be on site today to construct temporary walls ahead of Saturday.

A man in a suit smiles in front of an empty restaurant.
Canberra Southern Cross Club CEO Ian Mackay said the changes ‘help a lot’.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

The club’s chief executive Ian Mackay said they were constructing several new spaces within the Woden venue and would open at 11am on Saturday.

“From a glass half-full perspective, [the changes] help a lot,” Mr Mackay said.

“We’ll have builders in tomorrow actually putting walls in — temporary walls, but floor to ceiling walls to turn them into separate, distinct spaces.

The community club does not entirely rely on profit, which Mr Mackey said made it easier for them to take those steps.

“For many venues, to rush about putting up temporary walls may not be a viable option for them,” he said.

“We want to try to bring in as many people to our venues as safely as possible.”

He said they would not be aiming for a midnight opening on Friday, when restrictions ease, and said customers had so far been supportive despite the limits on numbers.

“We don’t get a lot of business at midnight so I think we’ll leave it to the following morning,” he said.

“They’re just so pleased to be back, coming to a venue that they’re familiar with and love coming to.

“They recognise that it’s just a positive thing for us to be opening and following some guidelines that aren’t too invasive and make sure that we’re safe as a venue.”

ACT will not follow NSW ‘lock-step’

An empty restaurant with tables set.
The Canberra Southern Cross Club restaurant in Woden has the capacity to hold many more than 20 patrons.(www.cscc.com.au)

Asked why the ACT would not be following the same path as NSW in permitting up to 50 patrons per enclosed space, Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said the ACT was aiming to open up a wider range of industries, rather than higher numbers for some.

“I think that each jurisdiction takes on board their own individual circumstances,” Dr Coleman said.

“We are not lock-step with NSW in many ways.”

She said the ACT was moving faster than other jurisdictions in some areas, and more slowly in others, as officials worked to ensure the curve remained flattened.

“I think there is an issue of cumulative risk that comes from having multiple places open and we’re just trying to achieve the right balance for the community here in the ACT,” she said.

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