July, 2019

Homeless rates rise in the Hunter as new report looks at nation’s ‘rough sleepers’

ROUGH sleepers aremost likely men aged 35 and above who are unemployed, live alone, and have mental health,drug or alcohol issues, thelatestAustralian Institute of Health and Welfarereportshows.
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The first-of-its-kind report, released on August 3, aims to “shinea spotlight” on Australia’s “rough sleepers” –peopleliving on the streets, sleeping in parks, squatting, and living in cars orimpoverished dwellings –toexplorethe circumstances, experiences and housing outcomes of those who sought assistance from specialist homelessness services between July 1, 2011, and June 30,2015.

The report found that in major cities, males were more likely to receive help from homeless services at66 per cent, compared to 53 per cent of females.

But in regional areas, females were more likely to be receivingservices at 42 per cent, compared to 32 per cent of males.

Related reading: The man on the street.

While the report did not break down homelessness by geographical areas, theNewcastle Heraldunderstands there were approximately 2700 homeless people living in the Hunter New England area in 2016, a 12 per cent increase since 2011.

In Newcastle, there were about 800 homeless people in 2016 –an increase of around 22 per cent since 2011.

The report,Sleeping rough: a profile of Specialist Homelessness Services clients, showed that of the116,400 men, women and children who were homelessin Australia on Census night in 2016, about 7 per cent were sleeping rough –a 20 per cent increase sincethe 2011 Census estimate.

Despite accounting for about one-in-14 Australians experiencing homelessness, rough sleepers were the most visible, and wererecognised as some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in society, the report says. It found one-in-three rough sleepers experienced two or more vulnerabilities –such as domestic or family violence (23 per cent), a mental health issue (47 per cent), or drug or alcohol abuse (34 per cent).

Female rough sleepers were four times as likely as males to report experiencing domestic violence at 46 per cent, compared to 11 per cent.

Females were also more likely to live with at least one child at 34 per cent, compared to males at 7 per cent.

Related: Two pays away from homelessness.

Kelly Hansen, the chief executive of Nova for Women and Children, said family violence was one of themajor reasons females in the Hunter community sought their services.

“Domestic violence appears to still be the leading factor for women, and children,becoming homeless,” she said. “However, we also need to look at poverty, and the private rental market, which we have found isimpacting on older women.”


US welcomes home NKorean war dead remains

US Vice President Mike Pence has welcomed the presumed remains of US war dead home from North Korea.In a solemn ceremony, the United States has welcomed home human remains it says presumably include Americans killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War, and thanked North Korea for making good on a June summit pledge to hand them over.
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Only one identification “dog tag” was delivered by the North Koreans, underscoring the long path ahead for US military efforts to identify the remains inside the 55 boxes presented by North Korea to the US last week.

US Vice President Mike Pence hailed the remains’ arrival in Hawaii as evidence of the success of President Donald Trump’s landmark summit in June with North Koran leader Kim Jong-un. Critics say the summit has so far failed to deliver on promised steps toward denuclearisation by Pyongyang.

“I know that President Trump is grateful that Chairman Kim has kept his word, and we see today this tangible progress in our efforts to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Pence, whose father fought in the Korean War, said.

More than 7,700 US troops remain unaccounted for from the Korea War. About 5,300 were lost in what is now North Korea.

Other countries under the command of the United Nations also lost troops that are still unaccounted for, including the Australia, United Kingdom and Canada.

Pence, in his address at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, said he trusted that Americans killed in the war were among the flag-draped cases flown to Hawaii on Wednesday.

“Whosoever emerges from these aircraft, today begins a new season of hope for the families of our missing fallen,” he said.

The US military flew the remains from Osan Air Base in South Korea after they had undergone an initial review.

John Byrd, director of analysis for the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), told reporters at Osan that the family of the soldier identified by the dog tag had been notified. But he cautioned it was unclear if that soldier’s remains were among those received from North Korea.

Experts say positively identifying the decades-old remains could take anywhere from days to decades.

Still, the initial field forensic review indicated the “remains are what North Korea said they were,” Byrd said.

The North Koreans provided enough specifics about where each suspected body was found that US officials have matched them to specific battles fought from 1950 to 1951, although not necessarily individuals, he said.

The pledge to transfer war remains was seen as a goodwill gesture by Kim at the Singapore summit, and was the most concrete agreement reached by the two sides so far.

While it has taken longer than some had hoped, a U.S. State Department official said the process had so far proceeded as expected, and the handover rekindled hopes for progress in other talks with North Korea aimed at getting it to abandon its nuclear weapons program.


Make the pilgrimage up the coast

WELL POSITIONED: Sandcastles is located at the corner of Ocean Parade and Boultwood Street across from the beach in the heart of Coffs Harbour, a city easily accessible by train, plane or automobile.COFFS Harbour is a holiday mecca offering an almost perfect climate, delightful beaches and a picturesque hinterland well worthwhile exploring with horse riding, pottery, wineries and eateries along with spectacular scenery.
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PRACTICAL: Apartments come with full kitchen facilities including large fridge, stove, dishwasher and microwave as well as their own laundry facilities.

Whale-watching and deep-water fishing are two popular events not to be missed on the magnificent Pacific Ocean, besides surfing, ocean rafting, canoeing, jet skiing and an endless array of other activities.

Sandcastles Holiday Apartments are centrally located for the holidaymaker to take advantage of all Coffs has to offer.

ACCESSIBLE: Coffs Harbour is located bang in the middle of Brisbane and Sydney, boasting a great climate and plenty of attractions.

Located opposite the main surfing beach, Park Beach bowling club, parkland and bus stop, the Sandcastles complex is also close to the main Park Beach shopping plaza, top restaurants, cinemas and the pet porpoise pool.

The two-bedroom apartments are spacious and comfortable, air conditioned and fully self-contained with all the conveniences needed to make your holiday a pleasure.

Free Foxtel and broadband access are also available in each unit.

A popular attraction is the beautiful, 12-metre, heated swimming pool located just below a spacious, sunny courtyard which has sun lounges, tables, chairs and umbrellas, as well as two sun sails.

Two hot spas, a sauna and covered outdoor dining area with barbecues are also available for guests to enjoy.

Special packages for off-peak and weekly stays are available.

Call 1800 025 163 or book online atwww.sandcastlesapartments南京夜网.au today to plan your next getaway.


Fund Aussie sport or say goodbye to gold

Australia should consider a national lottery to support rising sports stars, John Wylie says.Australians used to seeing their athletes punch above their weight on the world stage might have to settle for watching also-rans unless a new way to fund sport is found.
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The Australian Sports Commission, which has been rebranded as Sport Australia, is considering a national lottery to support rising stars, similar to the United Kingdom.

Sport Australia chairman John Wylie said the UK lottery was directly linked to that country’s rising success in world sport.

“There’s no doubt in the long-term, the Australian sporting system to remain as successful as its been in the past will need more funding,” Mr Wylie told ABC radio on Thursday.

Australian sport is also looking to charity to boost hopes of gold medals and podium finishes.

The Sport 2030 report, released on Wednesday, calls for Australian sport to more than double donation receipts within three years.

More than $44 million was raised through the Australian Sports Foundation in 2017/18, but the report calls for that to be $100 million in 2021 and $300 million in 2030.

Sport Minister Bridget McKenzie has committed to a business plan to revitalise the Australian Institute of Sport.

The announcement came a day after Australian marathon champion Rob De Castella declared the AIS was dead.

Mr Wylie noted the institute’s maintenance bill was $16 million a year but denied it was being hollowed out.

“It’s evolving into being a strategic agency for sport, a system leader for Australian sport,” he said.

The former investment banker warned of rising global threats to sport’s integrity, saying it was important to get on the front foot after a major report into the matter was released.

The review, led by James Wood QC, recommended setting up a new law enforcement agency to police match-fixing and doping in Australian sport.


Are Hunter schools overcrowded?

LABOR has pointed to new figures showing how Hunter schools are using their classrooms as proof of an “overcrowding crisis”, a claim the government has labelled as“nonsense”.
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Shadow Education Minister Jihad Dib said documents obtained through freedom of information laws show77Hunter schools –nearly 40 per cent of the region’s total –are at or above 100 per cent “utilisation”, which Mr Dib said was equivalent to being “at or above capacity”.

Tarro Public is at 116.67 per cent utilisation and Abermainis at 109.09 per cent.

Room to move: The state government and opposition disagree whether schools at 100 per cent utilisation are overcrowded.

Utilisation is the percentage of teaching spaces occupied by a class as a proportion of the total teaching spaces on the site.

Both permanent and demountable spaces are included.

“This is a crisis,” Mr Dib said.

“The government is really good at making funding announcements, but not at building schools: there’s no time frames or budgets.

“It’s cold comfort for parents to hear about money being spent when they have to send their kids to a school at or above capacity that has demountables everywhere.”

Education Minister Rob Stokes told theHerald a school with 100 per cent utilisation wasnot overcrowded.

“We want all classrooms to be used for teaching and learning,” Mr Stokes said.

“Only two [Hunter] schools are above 100 per cent utilisation – a figure that equates to about two per cent of local government schools.

“The utilisation data provided is a snapshot at that particular point in time and may change over the course of the year.”

Mr Dib disagreed.

“If you’re using 100 per cent of spaces and that includes demountables then of course you’re overcrowded –there’s no wriggle room for new enrolments and you’re exceeding what the school was built for.

“The government is moving the goalposts.

“It either needs to build more schools, complete more upgrades or put more demountables in – and that’s not a long term solution.”

NSW Teachers Federation regional organiser Jack Galvin Waight said the Hunter’s schools “continue to be underfunded, and it will be a problem if the government doesn’t act appropriately”.

“It is obvious from reports from our members that there are ongoing issues around; the slow turnaround in regards to the school maintenance backlog, the need for more space, permanent buildings and the building of new schools in the Hunter,” he said.

“This will affect teaching and learning if not addressed, as public school enrolments are projected to increase by 23 per cent over the next 15 years.”

Several schools’ enrolment policies show they already exceed their “enrolment ceiling”, based on their permanent teaching spaces and not including demountables.

Belair has 505 students. Its enrolment ceiling is 502 and includes a buffer of 19, for children who move to the catchment area through the year.

Biddabah has 416 students. Its enrolment ceiling is 392 and includes a buffer of 12.

Hamilton South has 437 students. Its enrolment ceiling is 363 and includes a buffer of 14.

Newcastle East has 240 students. Its enrolment ceiling is 211 but includes a buffer of 14 places.

The Junction has 576 students. Its enrolment ceiling is 548 and includes a buffer of 10 places.

Mr Stokes said the government would start work this year ontheNewcastle Education Precinct comprising a new school, as well as major upgrades to Callaghan College Jesmond campus and Speers Point, Wangi Wangi, Nulkaba and Ashtonfield public schools.

Work is continuing on major upgrades toBelmont High, Hunter School of the Performing Arts, Hunter Sports High and Bolwarra, Newcastle East and Rutherford public schools.


Tigers’ Marshall ready for emotional match

Wests veteran Benji Marshall missed one NRL training session to attend his grandfather’s funeral.Wests Tigers co-captain Benji Marshall will play one of the most emotional matches of his NRL career on Friday after the death of his grandfather in New Zealand.
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Marshall was granted personal leave this week to say his farewell in his home country, but has been declared a certain starter to take on Newcastle.

“He missed the one session which is not unusual for Benji anyway. He was back for our main session yesterday,” Cleary said on Thursday.

Marshall, who will head back across the ditch after the match for the funeral on Saturday, considered his grandfather his number one fan.

Cleary said it was important Marshall was given the chance to be with his family, adding the 33-year-old was in good spirits upon his return with the playing group.

“I think he’s alright. It was good for him to get the opportunity to go back and say his farewell. We had a good chat yesterday and he seemed his bright self,” Cleary said.

Marshall’s long-term future remains undecided as he and fellow Tigers veteran Robbie Farah weigh up whether to stave off retirement for another season.

Cleary said there was value in having both players kick on in 2019.

“I’d love them to play next year. Benj and Robbie have had such long, distinguished careers. Certainly at this club, what they’ve done has been enormous,” he said.

“And they’re still playing well.

“But it’s one of those things where it’s just that time in their careers where they’ve got to be sure that they want to go around and we’ve got to be able to make it work as well.”

Cleary will lean on both when they hope to keep their finals dream alive with a win over the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday.

The ninth-placed Tigers, who blew a chance to beat Canterbury last week, are four points behind the eighth-placed Warriors with just five games remaining in the season.

“That’s what you want from your senior players and guys with leadership – we all need that. Those guys hurt probably more than the younger guys on nights like last week,” Cleary said.

The Knights missed their shot at three consecutive wins for the first time this year when they lost to North Queensland last week, but get Connor Watson back from injury.


* Five of the past seven clashes have been decided by single digits.

* The Knights are looking for a third straight win at home for the first time in almost five years.

* Shaun Kenny-Dowall will play his 250th match.


Bail for woman charged over Qld murder

Charmaine Blessington, who’s accused of being an accessory to murder, has been granted bail.A woman accused of helping an alleged killer escape has been granted bail in a Brisbane court.
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Charmaine Elizabeth Blessington, 36, is accused of being an accessory after the fact to murder, over the stabbing death of former soldier Nathan Frazer at Murrumba Downs on July 12.

She’s accused of taking Lee Michael Hillier to a patch of bushland after he allegedly murdered Mr Frazer, who was stabbed in the back seat of her car.

Blessington’s defence barrister Damian Walsh argued she was unaware Mr Frazer had been stabbed when she drove Hillier away, instead believing he had been punched.

After being attacked, Mr Frazer had “stood his ground and spoke to another person outside the car” as Blessington and Hillier drove off, Mr Walsh told Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday.

A prosecutor alleged she helped Hillier hide knowing he had allegedly committed a serious crime.

Blessington knew he was armed with a gun and large knife “that he had down the side of his pants”, the prosecution alleged.

Hillier told her after the incident, “I got him”, the court heard.

Blessington is the second woman granted bail after being charged with being an accessory after the fact of Mr Frazer’s alleged murder.

Helen Anderson, 40, was released on Saturday.

Anderson is accused of assisting Hillier a day after the incident and sent a text saying, “I want to help”, the court heard on Thursday.

Hillier was arrested following a four-hour siege at a hotel in Brisbane’s north a day after the alleged murder.

Mr Frazer died from wounds to his chest and face on a Murrumba Downs road, north of Brisbane, after the early morning incident.

Anderson and Blessington are prohibited from communicating with each other as part of their bail conditions.


Lost wedding ring returned to owner after 12 years

The wedding band is band on Dionne Connolly’s hand.The extraordinary story of a long lost wedding ring has come to a happy ending after 12 years.
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Cloncurry businesswoman Dionne Connolly was about to give birth to a baby back on November 15 when she lost her wedding ring at theMount Isa Base hospital.

“Because my hand was swelling up I took it off as they were wheeling me to the operating table,” Dionne said.

Dionne said she gave her ring to her mother-in-law whoput it on the bedside table in the rush to get the mum-to-be to the operating theatre.

When Dionne returned the next morning the ring was gone.

The ring had hugesentimental value to the family as it originally belonged to her motherGloria Connelly.

The ring was Gloria’s wedding ring when she married Max Turner on October 30, 1965.

Dionne said her mum sadly passed away on June 12, 1998 as did her father Max on the same day four years later.

Dionne’s nephewJoel Malachi Sukaserm -who amazingly was also born on the same day June 12 – inherited the ring and when Dionne married Adrian Connolly on December 18, 2004 Joel gifted the ring to Dionne.

“I was always very career oriented, my family didn’t think I would ever marry,” Dionne said.

“(Joel)gifted it to me as a wedding present, so I had it engraved to honour my parents and to include them in the ceremony.”

Dionne was understandably devastated when she lost the ring and all attempts to find it came to no avail despite it being engraved with her parents names on the inside and her and Adrian’s names on the outside.

Enter Marie-Gaye Harvey into the story.

Ms Harvey was living in Mount Isa at the time and working for Best and Less.

At some stage after the events described, she was doing a stocktake when she emptied out the bins and the ring fell out.

She said they put notes in the shop window and went to police but no one came forward to claim the ring.

She forgot about the ring until 2013 when she had moved to Bundaberg and her daughter suggested they use the power of social media and see if anyone on Facebook recognised it.

“We had no joy but a week ago my daughter asked again if anyone had claimed it and when I said no, she said we should try again and I thought what harm would it do,” Ms Harvey said.

This time Dionne’s family members saw the post and recognised the distinctive wording engraved on the ring.

The ring is now reunited with its owner.

“It’s absolutely overwhelming to have such a priceless piece of family history returned after all these years,” Dionne said.

“I am so very grateful and am feeling blessed.”

Ms Harvey said she was delighted to help out.

“She (Dionne) wanted to pay for postage for the ring but I said I’ve had a good life, I can afford it,” she said.

North West Star, Mt Isa