Australian News

Mum who drowned savings sons at Congo Beach identified

A NSW mum who drowned while rescuing her son from a rip has been identified as a top executive of an organisation for the hearing-impaired.

Leonie Jackson, 50, was pulled from the waves at Congo Beach near Moruya on the NSW south coast on Sunday afternoon and died a short time later, police said.

She had gone into the water to rescue her 10-year-old son who was stuck in a rip, according to police.

She was helped back to shore by a surfer and pulled from the water by witnesses who performed CPR, but her life could not be saved.

The boy was uninjured, police said.

On Monday not-for-profit The Deaf Society posted a tribute to Ms Jackson on social media, saying she was the executive manager of the organisation.

It said she drowned while bravely rescuing two of her sons.

“Her two sons and her had gone to the beach for a swim. Sadly, her two sons were caught in a rip. Leonie quite bravely swam out to save them and did so successfully,” the Deaf Society’s CEO Brett Casey said in a statement.

“The sad and tragic news is Leonie was unable to save herself from the rip.”

Mr Casey described Ms Jackson as “not only a colleague but a dear friend” and said her death was a great loss to Australia’s deaf community.

“It’s a very tragic loss, not just for the organisation, but for the broader community here in Australia,” he said.

Ms Jackson took over the role as executive manager for advocacy and strategic partnership after previously serving as Deaf Society’s CEO.

She was the first deaf person to hold the role of CEO in the organisation’s 100-year history, according to a charity with which she was involved, the Benevolent Society.

“We are extremely shocked and sad about the passing of our colleague Leonie Jackson,” Benevolent Society CEO Jo Toohey said in a statement.

Ms Jackson had joined the Benevolent Society as board director late last year, Ms Toohey said.

“She was an inspirational leader and a very generous person who gave selflessly to the Deaf community over the past 25 years,” Ms Toohey said.

“Leonie made such a positive impact in her career and life, she will be missed by many.”

In a blog post from last month, posted on the occasion of Ms Jackson joining the board, the Benevolent Society wrote that she began her career as a teacher at the Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children.

There, she helped establish Australia’s first bilingual program for deaf children aged two to five. She spent 18 years at the school, and then five years at a media firm specialising in accessibility for the hearing-impaired.

While much of her life was spent fighting to help the deaf community, dedicating her free time to help organise a sporting event for the deaf, the Benevolent Society blog post said she had a passion for cooking and entertaining.

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Local News - Victoria

Aida Hamed identified as Bushrangers Bay drowning victim

Another friend, Kefayat Nouri, told The Age that Ms Hamed was a “nice, kind and lovely soul”.

The 45-year-old, an employee of Australia Post, was a “much-loved member” of the Lalor post office.

“We are deeply saddened at the passing of Aida Hamed,” a spokesman for Australia Post said.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Aida’s family and colleagues at this sad time.”

Friends are mourning Ms Hamed.

Friends are mourning Ms Hamed.

Another friend wrote on Facebook: “You will always be my sunshine, my beautiful friend. You were taken from us way too soon.”

Another said Ms Hamed was “loved by everyone” and had “such a beautiful soul and heart”.

“No words can be said to describe the pain of losing you,” another friend wrote. “You brought happiness to everyone that met you with your gorgeous smile and warming heart, we will miss you forever.”

Several helicopters were deployed to the dramatic scene at Bushrangers Bay where two men had jumped into the water to rescue Ms Hamed, her friend and two teenage girls after they were swept into the sea by a large wave.

Victoria Police confirmed a 45-year-old woman, a 47-year-old woman, a 19-year-old woman and a 13-year-old girl had been swept into the sea about 3.30pm on Monday. Two men, aged 28 and 47, then jumped in after them.


Multiple helicopters from Victoria Police, Life Saving Victoria and Air Ambulance scoured the water for the six people, alongside water police and local lifesavers.

All were pulled from the water, including Ms Hamed. Paramedics transported the five survivors to hospital: four to Frankston Hospital and one to Rosebud Hospital.

Mornington Peninsular Local Area Commander Inspector Janene Denton said if two bystanders hadn’t jumped in to assist the four family members, there might have been more fatalities.

A view from Bushrangers bay lookout at the Mornington Peninsula on Thursday.

A view from Bushrangers bay lookout at the Mornington Peninsula on Thursday.Credit:Paul Jeffers

“If they hadn’t done that, I think more people [would have] drowned, more people [would have] lost their life,” Inspector Denton said.

“It can be very, very hazardous … these waves crept up in this situation.”

Inspector Denton said one of the men, an off-duty lifeguard, grabbed his surfboard and huddled the imperilled swimmers together to keep them afloat until they could be rescued.

Three of the women, including Ms Hamed, were winched out of the water by helicopters. The 13-year-old girl and the two rescuers were pulled into a Victoria Police boat.

In a separate incident, a man in his 80s died on Wednesday after being pulled unconscious from the water at Rye front beach.


The day’s third drowning happened on Wednesday night at Venus Bay in Gippsland where, police said, a teenage girl was seen struggling in the water about 7.30pm and a number of people entered the water to help her. One of those who went to help, a woman in her 20s, got into trouble herself.

Police said an off-duty lifeguard pulled the woman from the water and started CPR but could not revive her.

All others involved in the incident came out of the water unharmed, including the teenager who had initially been in distress.

Police will prepare reports for the coroner for all three deaths.

Meanwhile, police are also investigating after a three-year-old girl was pulled unconscious from Lysterfield Lake about 5.50pm on Wednesday. Emergency Services worked on the girl and she was revived. She was transferred to the Royal Children’s Hospital and remained in a critical condition on Thursday morning.

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Australian News

Bushrangers Bay drowning victim identified

A single mother who died when she was swept off rocks into the ocean on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula has been remembered by a friend as “the most beautiful person on earth”.

Aida Hamed, 45, drowned off Bushrangers Bay on Wednesday afternoon after a freak wave washed her and three others into hazardous waters about 3.30pm.

Ms Hamed, of Epping in Melbourne’s north, was visiting the remote beach on a day trip, Victoria Police Inspector Janene Denton said.

It’s understood the Australia Post employee was washed into the sea with a female friend, 47, and her friend’s two daughters, 13 and 19.

The other three survived after the quick thinking by an off-duty lifeguard who dived into the water, with the group clinging to his surfboard.

Ms Hamed was pulled from the water but she could not be revived despite the efforts of emergency services.

One of her friends, Leyla Shi, told NCA NewsWire that Ms Ahmed was “the most beautiful person on earth”.

“She had a beautiful heart,” Ms Shi said.

“She was a single mother of four kids. She loved life and travelling – a beautiful soul.”

Inspector Denton said there would have been more deaths “without doubt” if not for the bravery of two men, aged 24 and 48, who dived in after the group.

The 24-year-old hero, an off-duty lifeguard, was able to use his surfboard as a makeshift flotation device that the struggling family clung to until police arrived.

A 48-year-old man also leapt into the water to help.

Neither men knew each other but didn’t think twice about working together to save strangers’ lives, Inspector Denton said.

“They’re (the rescuers) doing fine, it was huge effort on their behalf and a really brave act,” she said.

Inspector Denton referred to Ms Ahmed as the “aunty” of the two teenagers rescued at the scene.

“They’re still receiving care,” she said.

“They were just swept off by a really large wave. It’s a treacherous place, it’s a hazardous place – it can be calm and it can turn quite rough. I wouldn’t call it unusual.

“The size of the wave has completely taken them by surprise.”

An Australia Post spokesperson said the organisation was “deeply saddened” by Ms Hamed’s death.

“She was a much-loved member of Australia Post’s Lalor licensed post office. We extend our deepest sympathies to Aida’s family and colleagues at this sad time,” the statement said.

Inspector Denton said the incident was a reminder of the dangers involved in swimming at remote and un-patrolled locations like Bushrangers Bay.

“It’s actually very difficult for emergency services to get in there. Swim where the beaches are patrolled,” he said.

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Local News - Victoria

Young couple and three-week-old daughter identified as victims of suspicious blaze

Ivy would have been three weeks old on Friday. The baby was born on the same day the couple was moving to their new Point Cook home.

“It should be the perfect time of their life, and now this awful tragedy has happened,” she said.

Abbey Forrest (left), her sister Emily and their parents.

Abbey Forrest (left), her sister Emily and their parents.

Abbey was loving being a first-time mother, her sister said.

“She did a fantastic job, she really showed me up that’s for sure,” Ms Forrest said, smiling through tears.

“She was absolutely smitten, she was so over the moon to become a mum and she did so well.”

Ms Forrest said she and her sister were inseparable as children, with just four years between them in age.

“She had the biggest, boldest personality. She was great. I’ll always cherish the memories that I had growing up with her. She was my only sibling,” she said.

Ms Forrest only had the chance to meet her young niece Ivy, who was born on November 13, twice but says they are memories she will treasure.

“I came home from a camping trip early and snuck into the hospital and got in a quick little visit despite COVID, and then we had a beautiful family dinner a week or so ago, so we got to meet everybody and our son got to meet his cousin so that was really beautiful.”

She said her sister’s 25-year-old partner, who was known to the family as Indi, loved Abbey “dearly”.

“He loves their daughter just as much, so to see this is just heartbreaking,” she said.

Ms Forrest said she was now trying to support her devastated parents. “Burying your own child is something no one wishes upon anyone.

“I was in a lot of denial yesterday and only hearing some things on the news … I just needed to come and see that something had actually really happened.”

Abbey Forrest's sister Emily at the scene on Thursday with her partner. 

Abbey Forrest’s sister Emily at the scene on Thursday with her partner. Credit:Rachael Dexter

Ms Forrest wanted to thank all the neighbours who had tried to save her sister’s family.

“It just makes me feel at ease that there were decent people around who were trying to help her. To risk your own life to try and help save someone in that horrible situation.”

She said her family was yet to receive any clear answers on how the fire started, and whether it was deliberately lit.

“I’m not too sure what to believe to be honest. If it is suspicious, this is something horrible [and] shouldn’t be done to anybody,” she said. “[If it was] accidental, these things happen. Either way, I just hope they find the answer and give us clarity on what’s actually gone on here.”

The police investigation remains ongoing.

Ms Forrest and her partner lay flowers and a small toy outside the house, “just to symbolise our niece, her daughter, who didn’t get to live her full life”.

Neighbours have spoken of how they frantically tried to hurl an axe and throw rocks through the jammed upstairs window of the burning house after they heard screams for help.

Investigators at the scene on Wednesday.

Investigators at the scene on Wednesday.Credit:Paul Jeffers

Jade Bartolo was awake waiting for her partner to arrive home from nightshift when she heard someone screaming “fire” near her back shed about 3am.

She raced to the house, but could not get inside from the front or back entrances. “I tried to open the shed, and obviously realised they couldn’t get down anyway because of the heat from the shed,” she said.

The scene of the fatal fire on Wednesday.

The scene of the fatal fire on Wednesday.Credit:Nine News

She heard screams from the top storey window. “They were trying to wind the window out, [but] because there’s the chain on the window they could obviously only open the window [so] much,” she said.

“They were trying to half hang out the window”.

Ms Bartolo’s partner, who had since arrived home, began hurling the axe at the window from the street.

“It all happened within about four minutes. There was no smoke and then it was just black,” she said.

“They were saying ‘help, help’. [They were] trying to get out the window but they couldn’t.”

Part of the second storey of the townhouse was completely destroyed in the blaze.

Part of the second storey of the townhouse was completely destroyed in the blaze.Credit:Paul Jeffers

A group of neighbours tried to hurl the axe at least five times before one picked up a rock which shattered the window.

Another neighbour, Kirra Haeata, said she had seen someone who was staying at the home collecting a fast-food delivery outside about 2.30am, believed to be minutes before the blaze started.

“I’d just finished work and the neighbour [from the townhouse] was outside waiting for his food,” she said.

Ms Haeata helped go door to door to wake up neighbours to warn them about the fire. “It could have just wiped out that whole block,” she said.

It took an hour for fire crews to gain control of the blaze.

Arson and explosives detectives believe the fire started in the middle of the home and are treating it as suspicious due to its sheer intensity.

“When the fire services got here, it was fully engulfed, the townhouse was raging, particularly in the front and upstairs. With accidental fires that doesn’t occur,” said Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Kennedy.

Police have had varying reports of how many people lived at the address. There was a mattress downstairs that looked as though it had been recently slept on, but there was no one on it.

Ms Forrest has set up a GoFundMe page to help her family with the funeral costs.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a report at

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Australian News

Three positive cases identified in Shepparton

A cluster of coronavirus cases have emerged in the Victorian regional city of Shepparton.

The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed three positive cases late on Tuesday as they urged residents to get tested.

Eight sites from the Shepparton area were also add to the list of high risk locations.

Health authorities expect further cases will be identified.

Victoria’s commander of testing and community engagement, Jeroen Weimar, said the three positive cases were isolating at home and were being monitored by Goulburn Valley Health.

“Extensive contact tracing has commenced by local authorities,” he said.

“We expect as part of that effort, further cases will be discovered.

“To everyone locally – even if you haven’t been near these locations – if you feel unwell at all, please get tested as soon as possible and stay at home until you get your results.”

Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Matt Sharp told the ABC the cases were linked to the outbreak at Melbourne’s Chadstone shopping centre.

More to come.

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Australian News

Teens who allegedly failed to quarantine identified

The teenagers at the centre of Queensland’s latest coronavirus outbreak have been identified.

Olivia Winnie Muranga and Diana Lasu, both 19, travelled together from Melbourne via Sydney to Brisbane, arriving in the Queensland capital on July 21,The Courier-Mailreported.

Queensland reported its first case of community transmission Wednesday, the first in 46 days, after a 22-year-old woman, a close contact of the other two, tested positive for coronavirus. She is not accused of any wrongdoing.

RELATED: Follow live coronavirus updates

RELATED: Two women test positive to coronavirus in Queensland

Ms Muranga, 19, is a cleaner at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge, west of Brisbane, and did not self-isolate on her return to Logan, instead working three days at the private school before being later diagnosed with the virus. The school issued a warning to staff and students on Wednesday.

“The staff member was on site last week and then rang in sick and then that’s when the trace program started,” Principal Gary Cully told The Courier-Mail.

“I think they were onsite three days.

“As far as I’m aware they were not symptomatic while they were onsite and then called in sick the following day and then the next week were tested.”

A number of other staff members are in isolation “as a precautionary measure”, Mr Cully added.

Chatswood Hills State School also closed for deep cleaning today after one of the women worked at after school care.

Queensland Health Minister Steve Miles said a massive contact tracing effort was underway around Brisbane and Logan following the actions of Muranga and Lasu.

“These young women have gone about their business in the communities that they live in and so there will be a large amount of contact tracing to be done, largely within the Logan and Springfield areas, including shopping malls, restaurants and a church,” he told reporters this morning.

“Our contact tracers are doing that work right now. There is also a number of close contacts in both of their households. They will now be ordered to quarantine.

“They travelled on flights VA 863 and PA977. The Queensland Health contact tracers are identifying close contacts from those flights.”

Queensland has seen 1079 people test positive for coronavirus, an increase of three from yesterday after the three woman were diagnosed.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk didn’t mince words when she spoke about the state’s new cases. The premier also announced the Greater Sydney region would be blocked from Queensland from 1am Saturday due to ongoing community transmission around the city.

“There will be a thorough police investigation here but now we have to act as a community and in the areas where the chief health officer says need to be closed, will be closed and I urge people in those areas when that list goes out later on today to please ensure that if you are feeling sick you must go and get tested,” she said.

“It is incredibly important now more than ever if you are feeling sick you must go and get tested.”

Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said she was “very, very disappointed” in the actions of the two women and would be moving them to quarantine in hotels.

“I think it was reckless,” she told reporters.

“They are in two households. At this point in time they are in their home but I am organising them to go into hotels.”

She said a police investigation is underway.

Queensland’s deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski, said the investigation was still ongoing but “the initial investigation is indicating that there were incorrect details on their declaration passes”.

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Cluster identified at Royal Children’s Hospital

Five workers at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital have tested positive to COVID-19.

It opens another worrying new dimension to Melbourne’s coronavirus outbreak, with it adding to the list of hospitals to report infections. More than 20 Melbourne hospital staff have now been diagnosed.

Outbreaks in hospitals are of particular concern as, just like in aged care facilities, they can strike patients who are already vulnerable.

Last night, the Royal Children’s Hospital said investigations so far suggested all five staff members contracted the virus separately and it was not circulating within any one group of workers.

RELATED: Follow all the latest coronavirus updates

In a statement, the hospital said seven other employees were self-isolating. No patients at the hospital had COVID-19.

“The RCH has restricted all patient visitors except parents/guardians since April. This includes siblings and extended family and exemptions are only allowed in the most extreme circumstances,” she said.

The RCH is one of the most important children‘s hospital in Australia and regularly treats some of the country’s most in-need kids.

A restaurant located within the children’s hospital was closed last week by the franchisee after a back of house worker tested positive to COVID-19.

“As this is a private retail tenancy, contact tracing is being managed by DHHS. The RCH has received no advice to any risk to patrons however took the measure of advising all staff as soon as we became aware and also placing advisory notices,” a hospital spokeswoman said.

The children’s hospital is one of many Melbourne hospitals to have recorded staff testing positive.

The Northern Hospital in Epping, the Bundoora Centre and Broadmeadows Hospital have seen 21 cases between them. In addition, staff at the Box Hill Hospital, the Alfred Hospital and Brunswick private have also tested positive.

Chief medial officer Professor Brett Sutton said earlier this week that the need to quarantine other staff at the hospitals was “challenging” for the healthcare system.

Yesterday, Victoria recorded 238 new coronavirus infections with the state‘s death toll rising to 27 following the death of a women in her 90s. More than 100 Victorians are in hospital with the disease.

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Melbourne man identified as Crossroads ‘patient zero’

NSW authorities say that a man from Melbourne who travelled on June 30 has been identified as the likely source of the coronavirus outbreak at the Crossroads Hotel in Sydney.

The state’s chief coronavirus detective Jennie Musto, who manages the state’s team for tracing infections, told reporters today the most likely source of the Crossroads outbreak was a Melbourne man who came to a workplace in Sydney.

She said that the workplace was a freight company, although the man was not a truck driver.

“About six” of his colleagues were also infected with the virus.

The man and several of his colleagues later went to the Crossroads for a party on July 3, this led to an outbreak at the hotel, which is now linked to at least 34 cases.

“The man from Melbourne didn’t think he was particularly unwell, didn’t think he was sick with COVID, he travelled on the 30th of June, he’s been in NSW for a while and it wasn’t until we interviewed him and his colleagues with more detail that we made the link that they were all on the Crossroads on the 3rd of July,” Ms Musto said.

Authorities are not releasing details of the workplace but say there is no risk there.

More to come.

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Australian News

Quakers Hill woman who died falling out of a car identified

Police have identified a woman who died after falling from a moving car in Quakers Hills as 23-year-old international student Yue Zhuo.

On June 25 emergency services were called to Hambledon Rd, near Maslin Crescent, Quakers Hill, after reports a woman had fallen from a moving vehicle.

Ms Zhuo died at the scene.

Detectives are now launching a fresh appeal for information into the Chinese student’s tragic death.

The driver, a 27-year-old man believed to be Ms Zhuo’s partner, was taken to hospital where he underwent mandatory testing.

It is understood Ms Zhuo was sitting in the back seat and her partner’s father was sitting in the front seat of the vehicle at the time, the

Rouse Hill Times reports.

Both men are reportedly helping police with inquiries.

Quakers Hill Police Area Command crime manager Detective Chief Inspector Gavin Rattenbury said authorities were still piecing together Ms Zhuo’s last movements.

“We know she was a rear passenger in a black Nissan Navara utility and the vehicle travelled between Quakers Hill Railway Station and Hambledon Rd prior to the incident,” he said.

“Detectives have made significant inquiries and are now appealing to anyone who saw the Nissan in the Quakers Hill area on Thursday 25 June or has dashcam footage of the vehicle to come forward.

“Initial inquiries suggest her death is not suspicious, but if you saw the vehicle or you recognise the photo of Ms Zhuo, you may be able to help us with our inquiries.”

The investigation is ongoing.

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Australian News

Body found outside Rangebank Primary School in Cranbourne identified as Michael Mammone

A man whose body was found near a Melbourne school has been identified, with police appealing for witnesses and dashcam footage.

The body of Michael Mammone, 47, was spotted by passers-by in a car park at Donnelly Reserve on Lesdon Avenue, opposite Rangebank Primary School in Cranbourne, on Friday morning.

Police do not know when Mr Mammone’s body was left in the car park and want anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the area on Thursday or Friday to come forward.

The Age reports Mr Mammone had his hands tied together.

Drivers who were in the area and who may have dashcam footage are also being asked to contact police.

RELATED: Man’s body found at primary school in Cranbourne

Rangebank Primary School was closed for the day as homicide squad detectives scoured the area, roughly 43km from the Melbourne CBD.

Pictures from the scene showed dozens of uniformed police chatting with staff at the school.

Detectives are also searching for Mr Mammone’s silver 2008 BMW sedan with Victorian registration XUD525.

Photos of Mr Mammone and his car have been published by police.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

– With AAP

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