Monthly Archives: April 2019

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Qld women sue over foster child abuse

A Cairns judge has found child safety officers did not properly warn a family of teenage girls about a foster child, who sexually abused them after raping a three-year-old girl.

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The teenagers, who are now women, were awarded $800,000 on Tuesday, after successfully suing the Queensland government.

Cairns District Court Judge Brian Harrison found the abuse, committed in the girls’ family home north of Cairns in 2006, could have been avoided if officers from the Department of Child Safety (DOCS) had “exercised relevant care and skill”.

He heard the 14-year-old offender had been charged with raping a three-year-old girl at another foster home before he was approved to stay with the teens. He was later convicted of that crime.

The women argued DOCS had neglected their duty of care and put them at unreasonable risk of psychological or psychiatric harm by not giving their family all the information they needed to make an educated decision on caring for the boy.

But lawyers for the state government claimed two of the sisters contributed to negligence by not locking their doors, or telling their mother the boy was coming into their bedrooms.

They also said the mother, who had looked after the boy numerous times since 2003, knew of the rape and that the boy enjoyed the presumption of innocence when he was placed.

The teen, who had spent most of his younger years on Cape York, went on to commit numerous acts against the sisters.

Judge Harrison heard the mother had become close to the child since first caring for him and asked the department how she could arrange to have him live in her home in 2005.

But she claims she would not have taken him in if she’d known of a number of concerning incidents, including the teen touching a female staff member at a boys’ home.

“It was reasonably foreseeable to DOCS that the foster child … did present a risk to the teenage girls,” Judge Harrison said in his judgment.

“No effort appears to have been made to ensure that the third party (mother of girls) and her family were made fully aware of the risks.”

Judge Harrison awarded two of the sisters more than $350,000 and one close to $100,000 for psychological injury and loss of income.

He rejected the state government’s contention their mother should pay some of the damages, amid claims she had initially told the girls not to report the abuse.

The boy has previously been prosecuted for crimes committed against the sisters and three-year-old.

Vic MH17 families want justice

Emotional relatives of Victoria’s MH17 victims have told a coroner they want justice for their loved ones.

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Deputy state coroner Iain West is investigating the deaths of 17 Victorian residents killed in the disaster.

All 298 people on board the Malaysia Airlines flight, including 38 Australian nationals and residents, died when the plane was downed over eastern Ukraine on July 17 last year.

It’s thought Russian-backed rebels shot down the jet, which was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Among the Victorians killed were Albert and Maree Rizk, of Sunbury.

Their daughter Vanessa on Tuesday described her father as “the most loyal, hilarious, intelligent man”.

She said she and her brother James were comforted that their parents, who were returning from a holiday, were together.

But they will never get closure until someone is convicted.

“We will always pray that justice will appear someday,” Vanessa told the Coroners Court of Victoria.

James said his mother was the backbone of their family.

Mrs Rizk, who loved Christmas time, never realised how special she was or the impact she had on her children’s lives, he told the court.

Marco Grippeling’s wife Angela Nagel will never get over losing her “humble, gentle, caring” husband.

She said she hoped those responsible would be pursued and that Australia would never forget those lost.

“Everything is gone, everything is broken,” Ms Nagel the court.

“My dreams are destroyed.”

Many Australians were on the plane because it was due to meet a connecting flight to Melbourne.

Crash investigators have said the wreckage was “consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside”.

Investigators were forced to use DNA evidence to identify many of the victims.

Professor David Ranson, of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, travelled overseas after the disaster to help identify victims and has provided the joint inquest with a number of reports.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Donoghoe, senior investigating officer of Australia’s MH17 response, also appeared in court on Tuesday to summarise international efforts after the tragedy.

He said the criminal investigation was ongoing, with more than 100 witness statements taken to date and a number of persons of interest.

Coroner West will hand down his findings on Wednesday.

He also travelled to Amsterdam after the crash, as an Australian representative.

THE 17 VICTIMS WHO LIVED IN VICTORIA:

* Itamar Avnon, 27, a dual Dutch-Israeli national studying at Swinburne University, living in Windsor

* Frankie and Liam Davison, 53 and 57. Frankie taught at Toorak College in Mount Eliza, while husband Liam was an award-winning novelist and a teacher

* Marco Grippeling, 48, a Dutch national IT consultant living in Melbourne with his wife Angela

* Gary and Mona Lee, of Glen Iris, who emigrated from Malaysia in the 1970s

* Emiel Mahler and Elaine Teoh, who lived in Melbourne, Ms Teoh, was from Penang and Mr Mahler from The Netherlands

* Gerry and Mary Menke, who owned an abalone pearl company in Mallacoota

* Albert and Maree Rizk, of Sunbury. Mr Rizk, a Sunbury estate agent, and his wife were returning from a European holiday

* Family of five Shaliza Dewa and Hans van den Hende and children Piers, Marnix and Margaux, from Eynesbury, west of Melbourne

Economic growth forecasts downgraded

Deteriorating forecasts for Australia’s economic growth suggest the path to budget surplus will be a long one, with economists doubtful about the federal government’s 2020/21 prediction.

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The economy is expected to struggle along for a while yet with growth forecasts downgraded in the government’s mid-year budget update on Tuesday.

Economic growth is expected to come in at 2.5 per cent in 2015/16, remaining below trend at 2.75 per cent in 2016/17 – a significant deterioration from the 3.25 per cent forecast in the May budget.

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As economists widely predicted, the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook also shows a blowout in the budget deficit.

The deficit is now expected to come in at $37.4 billion this year, compared with the budget forecast of $35.1 billion, remaining at $14.2 billion by 2018/19.

The return to surplus has been pushed out another year, to 2020/21 – but CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian says even that’s “probably unlikely”.

“If anything, we’ve disappointed over the past few years in terms of growth and activity,” he says.

And next year is likely to deliver more disappointment, with further slides in commodity prices expected.

HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said Tuesday’s update repeated the “pattern of continued budget disappointment”.

“There will be a formidable challenge in terms of getting back to an eventual budget surplus,” he said.

“A lot can happen between now and 2020/21 – anything can happen.”

The good news is that unemployment forecasts have rebounded, with the jobless rate now expected to peak at six per cent next year instead of the previous 6.5 per cent forecast.

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Treasurer Scott Morrison says the upbeat employment estimates may even be “too conservative” given the whopping 340,000 jobs added to the economy in the past 12 months.

The Australian economy was heading in the right direction, demonstrating resilience in the face of strong global head winds.

He insists Treasury’s “more realistic outlook” for economic growth should be seen “as a statement of confidence”.

The government remained “patiently and responsibly on the path to budget balance” despite revenue write-downs of almost $34 billion, courtesy of plummeting commodity prices, a declining terms of trade and weaker global growth.

“We have adopted a measured approach, avoiding extreme responses that would place a hand brake on household consumption and business investment growth and unnecessarily threaten the fresh new momentum emerging in our transitioning economy,” the treasurer said. Inflation is forecast to remain between the Reserve Bank’s two-to-three per cent target range.

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Part burqa, part bikini: burqini babes hit the beach

It is part burqa, part bikini – when it comes to hitting the beach this summer, the coolest, covered swimwear for Muslim women is the burqini.

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Have you ever wondered why some Muslim women cover their hair or choose to wear a burka, niqab or hijab?

The Koran calls for men and women to ‘cover and be modest’, and for some women in includes covering up, with burqas, which cover the whole body and face, niqabs which cover the whole body and face apart from eyes, or the hijab which usually covers the hair, ears and neck.

When summer comes around some Muslim women choose to hit the beach in burqinis (which technically are more like a hijab-meets-wetsuit!) to stay modest, while women of all different faiths also choose to wear the outfits to keep sun-safe while being stylish.

Famous chef Nigella Lawson even sported a black and gold burkini at Bondi Beach in 2014 to keep sun safe.

Burqini was name the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year in 2011, and they have been popular ever since.

Here’s a collection of burqini babes to inspire your beach looks this summer.

Selfie time! Burqinis look pretty fantastic indoors too.

Strike a pose: it is simple to accessories burqinis with a classic pair of sunglasses like this Miu Miu pair.

Burqinis are practical for all kinds of water activities, and attract all kinds of ocean friends.

Make a splash by contrasting your burqini colours or try a bright pattern.

Keep your cool at the pool in sporty, streamlined burqinis.

#girlsquad: when you and your BFF wear matching burqinis you know your look is on point.

Infinite style: rock a burqini in your holiday snaps for extra glamour.

Slip, slop, slap: don’t forget to add a hat if you’re catching some serious rays!

It is quite possible the best accessory to pair with your burqini is an adorable baby!

Central Philippines darkened as typhoon Melor hits

Aid groups in the Philippines have applauded the efforts of local governments in evacuating hundreds of thousands of citizens from the path of Typhoon Melor.

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The typhoon made land fall yesterday in several regions across the central Philippines, bringing winds of up to 140 kilometres per hour and flooding rain.

Local media are reporting there have been three casualties on Samar island, but this is yet to be confirmed.

Plan International country director Dennis O’Brien told SBS reporter Abby Dinham the toll had been significantly reduced thanks to prepatory work by the government.

He said lessons had been learned since Typhoon Haiyan took more than 6300 lives in 2013.

Wide areas of the central Philippines were plunged into darkness as powerful typhoon Melor barreled into the coconut-growing region, causing flooding, storm surges and forcing almost 800,000 people to evacuate their homes, officials said.

Known locally as Nona, the storm packing winds of 140km/h was about 40km north-northeast of Romblon island early on Tuesday, moving west and weakening.

“Melor will continue to weaken as it crosses the central Philippines into Tuesday,” weather provider Accuweather said.

“However, damaging wind gusts higher than 130km/h will target the rest of southern Luzon to Mindoro.”

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Romblon residents reported heavy rain and strong winds from midnight. Power was cut as transmission lines and electric posts came down.

Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said nearly 800,000 people had been evacuated to shelter areas.

“So far, we have not received any report of typhoon-related casualties,” he said.

Media reported that three people had been killed on Samar island, where Melor first made landfall on Monday, although this could not immediately be confirmed.

Power services in six central provinces were disrupted and emergency teams were assessing damage to agriculture and infrastructure, Pama said.

Schools and some offices were closed. Dozens of domestic flights and ferry services were cancelled, and the fishing fleet took shelter due to waves as high as 14 metres.

Another potential tropical system will hit the southern Philippines later this week, Accuweather said.

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