Full-time carers for needy kids endorsed

FOSTER carers have endorsed a recommendation to pay people to become full-time carers for children with the most complex care needs.
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A parliamentary inquiry recommended the introduction of a tiered system for foster carers from volunteers to paid professionals.

Foster Carers’ Association of Tasmania president John Flanagan said he was originally against the idea, but changed his mind about six months ago.

“It’s always been my belief that if you want to foster, you’ll foster,” Mr Flanagan said.

“I thought if you got paid people, it wouldn’t be the same, but we haven’t got enough foster carers to look after the more needy ones, the more difficult ones.”

Mr Flanagan said the department was already considering the scheme and he had discussed it with former children’s minister Lin Thorp and Children and Family Services chief executive Mark Byrne last year.

He said some children required 24-hour supervision and needed at least two people to adequately look after them.

“I know people who are willing to do it but unfortunately they can’t afford to give up their jobs,” Mr Flanagan said.

“Basically they’re saying: `We’ll pay you to stay home a look after this child’.”

The committee’s report, handed down in December, also recommended investigating the need for specially trained therapeutic foster carers.

Mr Flanagan, who has been a foster carer for 14 years, welcomed other recommendations including mentoring for new foster carers, more training and support and better information sharing by the department.

He said he had witnessed gradual improvements being made to make life easier for foster carers, leading to better outcomes for children in care, but significant changes were difficult because of a lack of available funding.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Resort to be sold in separate units

THE owners of Pelican Sands have changed tack after their Scamander resort failed to sell.
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Initially, the beachfront property, containing 14 holiday units, was offered as one package.

Now owners Maureen and Graeme Gill are selling the resort, which is spread over eight land titles, in separate parts.

“We were disappointed because when you make up your mind to achieve a certain outcome that’s what you aim for,” Mrs Gill said.

Selling the site in different packages made it a more attractive offer, she said.

One parcel includes six units combined with a manager’s residence, pool and 30 seat restaurant.

Mrs Gill said it would suit a restaurateur keen to move in and capitalise on Tasmania’s fresh produce.

Two beach units are also up for sale for $295,000, while a five-studio unit lot recently went for the same amount.

The Gills plan to focus on other land redevelopments in the South and will move into semi-retirement when the property is sold.

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EPA gives Orica the all-clear for full restart

ORICA has been cleared for a full restart of its Kooragang Island operations.
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EPA director Gary Davey said the Orica start-up committee had recommended the ammonia plant, which has been shut since August, be cleared to restart.

Mr Davey said Orica had done all that was required of it.

He said Orica had been issued with a notice that allowed it to restart the ammonia plant from tomorrow.

It was a start-up of the ammonia plant that began the controversy over Orica from early August.

The ammonia plant makes ammonia from a feedstock of natural gas, with the nitric acid and ammonium nitrate sections of the plant converting the raw ammonia into explosives and other products.

These sections are already operating using ammonia brought onto the site as feedstock.

Mr Davey said the EPA had put extra conditions on Orica’s operating licence to ensure its operation met acceptable standards.

Resumption of production from the Kooragang Island plant will start to ease an acute shortage of explosives for the Hunter’s open-cut coalmines.

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A f—ing sham

Using the F-word in a public place can cost you $660 or 100 hours’ community service, which is cheap compared to the three months’ jail until the Summary Offences Reform Bill became law in 1994. It can cost you that only if police decide to charge you, and they will charge you only if they don’t like you. If they hold that the use of the word would offend a reasonable person they’ll charge you if they want to, and of course they’d argue if they had to that a reasonable person is one who is offended by the F-word. Police don’t have to establish that anyone was offended by your use of the F-word, by the way, and they don’t try to in the many cases of offensive language that go before the courts still.
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No-one complained to the ABC or to the Australian Communications and Media Authority on the day this week Communications Minister Stephen Conroy issued his “f—in’ fantastic” to the National Press Club and across the national airwaves, and so far as I know no-one, not even police, has advocated that he be charged with using offensive language. We could assume that this is because he offended no-one, but, remember, the charge does not require anyone to be offended.

Of course the F-word is in such common use now that it could offend no reasonable person. It is used frequently on radio and television, and I hear it often enough on our national broadcaster, Radio National. It is in newspapers, and the — used in most newspapers hardly disguises the word. It is used in all its senses, as a challenge, as an adjective, as an expletive, as a term for the sex act, and I’m sure there are a few other senses.

It was always blatant hypocrisy when police charged anyone for using the F-word, but those charges are now something more sinister, a sham and a victimisation that our law and our courts have tolerated for too long. Has Senator Conroy shut the closet door behind the F-word? Can anyone who finds the F-word offensive be deemed to be reasonable?

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World meets locals

TWO of the world’s best speedway sprintcar drivers will take on Tasmania’s best over two big nights of racing at Carrick Speedway tomorrow and Saturday in the Tasmania v USA Sprintcar Challenge.
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Lucas Wolfe and Paul McMahan last visited Tasmania two years ago and thrilled large crowds and will be sure to do the same again.

On their last visit, they dominated the locals at tracks at Latrobe and Hobart, but did not race at Carrick.

However, on this trip they will race exclusively at the Northern venue in an attempt to rack up a clean sweep of victories on Tasmanian tracks.

The talented pair both finished in the top 20 in the unofficial world championships of sprintcar racing, the Knoxville Nationals in the US, just before their last visit to Tasmania and have lost none of their magic.

Wolfe, 24, is one of the newer generation of up and coming American sprintcar stars and a former rookie of the year in the world’s premier sprintcar series, the World of Outlaws.

McMahan is an experienced racer, who takes no prisoners on the track and his aggressive racing style is sure to thrill local fans.

Racing for sprintcars on both nights will feature two rounds of heats and a qualifying shoot-out, with a 20-lap final on Friday night, with all points carrying over to Saturday night in the build-up to a big 30-lap final on Saturday night.

Support class racing on Friday night will include action from V8 AMCAs, Formula 500s and junior sedans, with gates open at 4pm and racing from 7pm.

On Saturday night, the support programme will include the Tasmanian Modified Production Sedan Championship and the Lightning Sprint Tasmanian Masters, plus racing for V8 AMCAs and street stock sedans with gates at 3pm and racing from 6pm.

Tasmanian sprintcar drivers will welcome the chance to measure themselves against some of the best in the world, with Launceston drivers Jamie Bricknell and former State champion Kurt Luttrell looking to continue their recent strong form.

Smithton driver Mark House will also be out to improve on his second placing at Latrobe with a strong performance against the Americans.

Launceston’s Tim Austin has also shown some glimpses of brilliance in recent outings and will be fired up for a big performance on his home track, while brothers Damien Robbins, of Devonport, and Shaun Robbins, of Ulverstone will also make their presence felt near the pointy end of the field.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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New Years Eve: Gypsy & The Cat

SECURE: Experience worldwide has helped develop the talents of Gypsy & The Cat.THEY’VE gone from recording above a garage to jetting around the world, landing record deals, playing festivals and recording their debut album, which peaked in the top 15 on the charts.
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But make no mistake, Melbourne’s Gypsy & The Cat already have their sights set on something bigger.

Gypsy & The Cat formed in 2008 and have been catapulted to success thanks to their ‘‘sophisticated brand of synth- and falsetto-laden alternate pop music’’, with hits including Jona Vark and Time To Wander.

Their debut album, Gilgamesh, reached the top 15 on the ARIA charts and number two on the iTunes chart and bagged them fan and critical acclaim, including music magazine NME tipping them as one of the 20 acts most likely to break through in 2011.

LIVE caught up with Lionel Towers, who, along with Xavier Bacash, is Gypsy & The Cat, about their fast track to success.

‘‘It’s definitely been a huge eye-opener and there were some really great experiences and a few disappointments as well,’’ Towers said.

‘‘We can’t complain because everything has been a good learning curve and we’re hoping for even bigger things for the next album.’’

He said the duo began making dance music before their ‘‘unconscious’’ shift to writing pop. ‘‘I think it just all kind of happened. I started off producing dance music and I come from a classical music background and I’ve always been into the song structures and that sort of thing. For me it was just a natural shift back from producing dance beats to using those techniques and writing songs,’’ he said.

Add in a bit of boredom with dance music and the transition was complete.

‘‘I think the shift across to songs happened because we were both getting bored and we discovered Xavier had a voice. Rather than getting him singing over dance beats that he’d make, we’d have him singing over verses and choruses and bridges, and then I started harmonising and it all just happened.’’

The duo wrote, recorded and produced their debut album Gilgamesh above a garage in Melbourne.

Soon after, the band were picked up by triple j, which added their songs to regular rotation. The next step was landing management and record deals, which involved two round-the-world trips. They were signed just before Christmas in 2009.

In the years since they’ve played just about every festival in the country, including Big Day Out, Future Music Festival and Splendour In The Grass. They’ve also toured the globe.

‘‘A lot has happened, lots of shows. We’ve done pretty much all the major festivals in Australia. We’ve also just come back from a European tour, I think it might have been 27 shows, maybe more. It was a three-week period where we had a different show every day. We did Asia and parts of England too, but we haven’t played America. We were supposed to play Coachella but it didn’t happen, that was one of the big disappointments.’’

Towers said Japanese audiences were the biggest shock.

‘‘We played the Summer Sonic festival, a crowd of 20,000 or something like that, and it was just incredible seeing how they react. Their biggest song was Time To Wander, whereas everywhere else it’s Jona Vark. It was interesting seeing them react to that, and the way they react is a lot different too.

‘‘An Australian mosh pit is different from a Japanese one where everyone is in sync and they’re all clapping their hands at the same time, same motion. At the end of every song it is dead silence. As soon as you clap your hands, they clap their hands – they are a very responsive audience. Japan was a huge eye-opener.’’

Turning to recording rather than touring, it sounds as if Gypsy & The Cat have learnt some lessons from their debut release. They’ve branched out and are recording independently rather than with a label.

Towers said he is relieved to have himself and Bacash back in control, keen to avoid the politics and compromises which can come from not being at the helm.

‘‘With the next album, because everything is funded by us, we’re in control, so it’s good,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s definitely been a progression in sound with this new album. It’s a bit more summery and it has more almost Hawaiian and African influences. It will be something new for people to experience,’’ Towers explained.

Like their debut album, the duo are producing their second record themselves, which is slated for release by June.

‘‘I don’t understand other artists who rely on a producer to essentially mould their sound,’’ Towers said.

‘‘Now technology is at a point where you can have home studios, you don’t need to wait for a record company to give you a certain budget to work with a producer and that sort of thing. Back in the day you needed a buget to record and make music, now all you need is the technology and it’s all in your hands.’’

Gearing up for their Newcastle New Year’s Eve show, Towers’ 2012 resolutions are simple: ‘‘I’m going to try and cut back on smoking and do a better job on this second record.’’

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Mills angered by Chinese reports of `fake injury’

SYDNEY – Patty Mills yesterday slammed reports that he was faking a hamstring injury, as his Chinese club terminated the Australian basketball star’s lucrative contract.
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Mills was released by Xinjiang Flying Tigers, with the club accusing the dynamic point guard of faking the hamstring injury which has troubled him since December 23.

The 23-year-old signed with Xinjiang in November, leaving NBL team Melbourne Tigers, on a deal reportedly worth upwards of $1 million – but his relationship with the club has deteriorated as they debated the seriousness of the injury.

Mills took to Twitter to fire back at a club release from team general manager Hou Wei which said “due to a fake injury, the Xinjiang team has cut the foreign player Mills”.

“Firstly, hammy is doing well and is on track to be back in full swing by next Saturday,” Mills said. “That will be three (weeks since suffering the injury).

“It was made clear from the start to EVERYONE that it was a torn hamstring and would take three to six weeks (to recover).

“So why the team and doctors over here are saying its not torn, only swelling and should be playing totally defeats me.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Jets’ Topor-Stanley out with hamstring injury

NEWCASTLE Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley has been ruled out of the A-League soccer game against Sydney FC at Ausgrid Stadium on Saturday due to hamstring tendonitis.
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Jets coach Gary van Egmond said the towering former Socceroo had not recovered sufficiently from the injury and would not play against his former club.

Speaking after training at Ray Watt Oval today, van Egmond indicated Taylor Regan would be Topor-Stanley’s likely replacement against the Sky Blues.

‘‘Nikolai won’t play this weekend,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘He’s got some tendonitis high up where the hammy inserts into the buttocks area, so he won’t play this weekend …

‘‘He’s been doing well, and he’s been the backbone for a while for the team, but it gives an opportunity for Taylor Regan to come in and he’s been doing extremely well, so we’re not going to lose anything with Taylor coming in.’’

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Cascabel out to break drought

MELBOURNE – Consistent sprinter Cascabel will be trying to break a luckless summer run when he backs up for his third feature race since Christmas in the listed Doveton Stakes at Caulfield.
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Trainer Robbie Griffiths said the six-year-old, who has placed second at his past three starts, performed well with two races close together but would be in uncharted territory when he lines up on Saturday over 1200 metres for his third run in 12 days.

“He always backs up well a week apart but we have never done three in a row, especially coming off a hot day like he faced this week,” Griffiths said.

“I want to make sure his pre-race blood, weight and hydration is good but I certainly couldn’t see any reason why we shouldn’t accept (yesterday) for Saturday when it gives us another 72 hours to work out what to do.

“It is bit early to tell because it has only been 48 hours since he raced on Monday, but he certainly seems to be quite upbeat since the run.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Inquest into toddler’s disappearance hears of mysterious ‘wolfman’

LEONIE HUTCHINSONKATE Hutchinson repeatedly spoke of a mysterious wolfman and sacrifices in the years leading up to having missing daughter Leonie, an inquest heard today.
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Muswellbrook Coroners Court was today told of Ms Hutchinson delving into an alternative life involving tarot cards and science fiction before taking a ‘bad trip’ on the drug acid in the mid-1990s.

School friend Leah-Maree Blackwater denied when giving evidence this morning that she and Ms Hutchinson were involved in witchcraft or satanic rituals.

But Ms Blackwater told the inquest of Ms Hutchinson’s obsession with a mysterious ‘wolfman’.

”She started talking about the wolfman, the ‘chosen one’ and sacrifices and things like that,” she said.

Her father Allan Hanlon also told the court: ”She was frightened of the wolfman.

”She described him as having long black hair and riding a motorbike and he wasn’t a nice person at all.”

The inquest is looking into the disappearance and suspected death of Leonie Hutchinson in 2001.

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