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Australian News

Invasion Day protests in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne


Police will be out in force today, promising to arrest people who gather at large Australia Day protests including one planned for The Domain in Sydney and another outside Melbourne’s Parliament House.

An Invasion Day protest has been organised for the Sydney CBD that more than 6000 people registered interest in attending.

But NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said it was not a good idea. He warned officers would not hesitate to ensure crowds stayed under 500 people in line with the state’s public health orders.

“Do not come in and be part of that public gathering, find another way to express your views and opinions,” he said.

“We are all aware that these are sensitive issues and they are very important issues to a lot of people but we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and we’re asking people to abide by those health orders.”

Police will be able to issue on-the-spot fines upwards of $1000 but the penalty for breaching public health orders comes with a fine up to $11,000 and a six-month jail term.

The coronavirus pandemic will this year see Victorians unable to gather for an Australia Day rally because it has been deemed a public health risk by the state government. But Melbourne City Council has approved an Invasion Day Dawn Service.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp says the seated, 250-capacity service at Kings Domain is “a way of supporting an event that reflects that ancient Australian history”.

The January 26 public holiday has in recent years seen thousands of Australians take to the streets to protest against Australia’s national holiday.

The Invasion Day rallies call for, among other things, a changing of the date to reflect the fact that for some it represents more than the beginning of British colonialism when the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788.

They want it to be moved because that same date represents the “continued genocide of Aboriginal people”.

There are some concerns from police that Invasion Day protests could see a return to the ugly scenes from 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests where those taking party were arrested and pepper spray was used.

But organisers say they are determined to go on given Australia Day continues to be held on the anniversary of Australia’s colonisation.

“Every year January 26 comes around you can expect Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people to disrupt,” organiser Tameeka Tighe told The Project last night.

“I find the 500 person cap quite contradictory given that we have 10s of 1000s attend cricket games,” she added.

Lidia Thorpe, the first Indigenous woman in Victorian Parliament, is using her platform to call for change.

On Twitter, she wrote: “Too many Australians still think January 26 is a day of celebration, but for Aboriginal people across this country, it’s a Day of Mourning.

“That’s why I’m inviting communities, councils and organisations to fly the Aboriginal flag at half-mast on #InvasionDay.”

In the Sydney suburb of Erskineville, protests have already begun. The words “26th Jan a day of mourning, not a day to celebrate” were written in paint on a large wall.

Invasion Day protests have been planned for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart, Newcastle, Rockhampton, Lismore, Albury and Lithgow.



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Local News - Victoria

Pfizer vaccine hubs to be created in major Melbourne hospitals


Hospitals already have the freezers, which cost anywhere between about $5000 and $20,000 each, but smaller medical centres and GP clinics typically do not.

Professor Rait said if the vaccine was taken out of an ultra-cold freezer it could be stored for up to five days at ordinary fridge temperature, meaning authorities will have to move quickly in administering all available doses among priority groups.

“It is going to be a huge logistical exercise,” he said.

Some doses will probably be thawed and refrigerated before being picked up by medical providers contracted by the federal government, then taken to aged care homes to vaccinate the elderly.

The way vaccination clinics will operate in Victoria is still being finalised, but Professor Rait said doctors were hopeful people will have a choice of where to go for their shots, from public hospitals running on-site clinics to local GPs, large state-run vaccination sites or drive-through clinics.

Sporting ovals across the city are also being examined to determine if they are suitable for mass vaccination sites. Football stadiums could be used to vaccinate about 60 people at one time while ensuring social distancing requirements are met.

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”The good thing about the fact we already have these large respiratory clinics set up now for coronavirus is that these are generally larger general practices that have had additional infrastructure placed in them and if they’re not doing testing, they could also be adapted to do drive-through vaccination clinics,” Professor Rait said.

At least six centres will be set up in regional areas, with potential hubs earmarked for Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Albury-Wodonga, Sale and the Latrobe Valley.

“There is a strong desire to ensure that rural Victoria is being managed and that it is not just an afterthought and it is included in the first wave of vaccine rollout, including to high-risk health workers in aged care, residents and their staff,” Professor Rait said.

Australia has bought 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine – enough to inoculate 5 million people with two jabs – and more than 53 million doses of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which does not require ultra-cold freezers to be stored.

Staff at Aspen Medical, Healthcare Australia, International SOS and Sonic Clinical Services have been contracted to transport the Pfizer vaccine and inoculate elderly residents and staff on-site at Victorian aged care homes, which were hit hard during the state’s second wave of coronavirus.

Alfred Health medical teams will vaccinate all staff working in the state’s hotel quarantine program.

Health sources told The Age the government was also considering setting up a fourth metropolitan Pfizer hub at the Royal Melbourne Hospital to vaccinate priority groups and healthcare workers.

Phase two of the rollout, slated to begin in mid-March, will administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to the broader population. The second phase will aim to inoculate 6.1 million people, including anyone aged over 70, healthcare workers, younger adults with an underlying condition and other high-risk workers.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said on Monday that after a thorough and independent review of Pfizer’s submission, it had decided the vaccine met the high safety, efficacy and quality standards required. It is the first COVID-19 jab approved for use in Australia.

Once Pfizer is rolled out, the aim will be to inoculate 80,000 Australians each week. That number will ramp up as more supply is available.

Efficacy trials suggest the Pfizer vaccine stops infection from the virus in 95 per cent of people. The AstraZeneca vaccine prevents infection in 62 per cent of cases but is highly effective in preventing serious illness and death from the virus.

Six new COVID-19 cases in the state’s hotel quarantine program were announced on Monday.

Andrews government minister Melissa Horne said none of the cases were connected with the Australian Open, which begins on February 8.

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Ms Horne noted the “terrific news” that the Therapeutic Goods Administration had approved the Pfizer vaccine, but said the Victorian government would be in discussions with the federal government to ensure we “do get our fair share”.

A Victorian Department of Health and Human services spokesman said the department was working closely with the Commonwealth to ensure Victoria is able to roll out the Pfizer vaccine from mid-February.

“The coronavirus vaccines will be delivered through a range of locations,” he said. “Work is under way to identify sites across Victoria and we’ll have more to say when locations are finalised. Our priority is to make sure that any vaccine which becomes available can be administered to Victorians as quickly and safely as possible.”

Western Health, Monash Health and Austin Health all declined to comment as the vaccine rollout was still being finalised by the state and federal governments.

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Malka Leifer, former Melbourne principal, extradited from Israel


A former Melbourne principal accused of child sexual abuse has boarded a flight to be extradited from Israel to Australia.

Attorney-General Christian Porter confirmed Israeli media reports about Malka Leifer’s extradition.

“Victorian authorities are responsible for the physical return of Ms Leifer to Australia now that the legal extradition process in Israel has concluded and she has been found suitable for surrender to Australian authorities to face the charges against her,” a spokesman for Mr Porter said in a statement.

Victoria Police declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate while the extradition process is ongoing.

Ms Leifer is accused of abusing three sisters while she was headmistress of Adass Israel School in Melbourne’s Elsternwick neighbourhood over several years in the early 2000s.

She left Australia after the allegations against her surfaced. Since then, she has been waging a legal fight to avoid extradition.

But on Monday evening Australian time, Israeli media published pictures of Ms Leifer boarding a flight, holding the rail of a metal staircase and accompanied by three female officials in masks and face shields.

Her lawyer in Israel, Nick Kaufman, told local newspaper Times of Israel it was unfortunate “photographs of (Leifer) being led in handcuffs and legcuffs were leaked to the press”.

He added Israeli authorities had been “expected to ensure the secrecy of the date of transfer and to ensure maximum respect for Ms. Leifer’s dignity until she left Israeli jurisdiction”.

The spokesman for Mr Porter said the Australian government was aware of the Israeli news reports.

“The Australian Government does not comment on logistics involving extradition arrangements against individuals until the extradition process has concluded,” the person said.

“Both the Attorney-General and Minister for Foreign Affairs have expressed their thanks to the Israel Government for its assistance and co-operation to bring this long-running process to a conclusion to allow for the extradition of Ms Leifer to Australia where she faces serious sexual assault allegations.

“The Ministers will issue a further statement at the conclusion of the extradition process.”



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Local News - Victoria

Cool change arrives in Melbourne after temperature taps 39.2 degrees


The cool change was initially expected to hit Melbourne at 5pm, but the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) revised its forecast, with the colder air from the south-west hitting the city just before 2pm.

Moorabbin, 15 kilometres south-east of the CBD, dropped 12 degrees in just under an hour when the change arrived at 12.30pm.

BOM duty forecaster Christie Johnson said the cool change had “sped up along the coast”, but was still going to take some time to travel inland.

“Sometimes these changes gather energy from moving over the water, and particularly as they come into Bass Strait,” she said.

“It’s tricky to predict when that’s going to happen. It’s not moving any faster across the inland though, so still on track to arrive when forecast. It will still take a while to get to places like the Yarra Valley.”

Shepparton, in the state’s north, had reached 41.1 degrees by 1.30pm.

Melburnians sweltered through a sticky night, with the temperature only dropping to 24.8 degrees. The temperature at Melbourne Airport did not drop below 28 degrees on Sunday night.

Ms Johnson said that Melbourne was likely going to face the “the hottest day this season so far”, but that would not be the case for northern Victoria, which had already recorded many days over 40 degrees this summer.

“That cool change will move into the south-west of the state … and move very slowly through western Victoria, arriving in the central districts late afternoon and in Victoria’s east tonight or in the early hours of Tuesday morning,” she said.

Shepparton is expected to hit 43 degrees after 2pm on Monday, but residents will have to wait longer for some relief from the heat, with the cool change not expected until about 9pm.

Towns along the Victoria-NSW border, such as Echuca and Yarrawonga, are forecast to reach 42 degrees by mid-afternoon, and are expected to receive the cool breeze at 6pm.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton urged Victorians to take the hot weather seriously, noting we may not be accustomed to the high temperatures the heatwave is creating.

“Some might think I’m being ‘Captain Obvious’ here, but heat still kills,” he said on Twitter on Monday.

Reef Karni and Gilly Ann at Lysterfield Lake on Monday.

Reef Karni and Gilly Ann at Lysterfield Lake on Monday.Credit:Eddie Jim

“And yes, hot days happen in summer – but this is the first real flush of extreme heat for some months so our bodies won’t be acclimatised as they might be later on.

“The fact that we saw more deaths from extreme heat in 2009 than from the tragic Black Saturday bushfires should give us all pause. So please check on vulnerable people and do the commonsense things!”

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State Response Controller Chris Eagle said late on Sunday that the “next 24 hours is the most significant fire risk Victoria has seen this season”.

“Any bushfires still going when the gusty change comes through will make it challenging and dangerous for firefighters on the ground,” he said.

Country Fire Authority Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said he was expecting significant gusts of 50 to 60km/h, which will “really build those fire dangers” in some parts of Victoria.

As Melburnians began waking up from a sweaty and sleepless night, firefighters were already fighting a vicious blaze about 10 kilometres from the CBD.

Flames up to 10 metres high soared from a rubbish fire at a recycling facility in Brooklyn in Melbourne’s west.

It took 40 firefighters about 40 minutes to get the blaze on Old Geelong Road under control after it started shortly before 6am.

The rubbish tip fire in Brooklyn on Monday morning.

The rubbish tip fire in Brooklyn on Monday morning.Credit:Nine News

Emergency Management Victoria said smoke from the fire was billowing in a southerly direction, towards Altona North, and those who are sensitive to smoke should close windows and doors and turn off cooling systems.

Victoria has contracted 51 aircraft for this year’s bushfire season, including water-bombing aircraft, air supervision and air intelligence-gathering aircraft.

Despite the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, emergency services are well prepared for this year’s bushfire season, Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said.

“It’s presented some challenges – we haven’t been able to get out and do the face-to-face briefings that we normally would have done,” he said.

“However, we’ve done that online. We’ve done that in such an effective way that it’s been a lot more flexible for volunteers to actually participate.”

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Victorians have been warned to take care around beaches, rivers and pools as they look to beat the heat, after two men died and countless others were dragged out of the water near the Great Ocean Road.

One man died after he was pulled from the water while swimming at Thirteenth Beach in Barwon Heads on Saturday, and another died after his boat capsized off Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road.

More than 42 Victorians have drowned since July last year, seven of them in the past 10 days.

Victorian Fisheries Authority chief executive Travis Dowling said his staff would be patrolling the waterways on Monday with both “overt and covert” surveillance.

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“It’s not all about enforcement, but if there’s some enforcement to be had, we have the right staff out there.

“But it’s also about making sure the experience of all boaters and waterway users is enhanced, making sure everyone is having a great time and is safe doing so.”

He said it was vital people wore lifejackets that fitted them, with 75 per cent of drowning victims from boat accidents either not wearing lifejackets or wearing ill-fitting jackets.

Victoria’s brief heatwave comes as some parts of Europe have experienced freezing temperatures. According to Associated Press, temperatures dropped to minus 28 degrees in Poland, where train tracks cracked during country’s the coldest night in 11 years.

With Sumeyya Ilanbey

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Local News - Victoria

Greek men swarm overdue bride ship in Melbourne


Police were called to the pier to control the crowd, which Customs officials described as “the biggest in memory.”

As the ship berthed the men became uncontrollable.

Women on board opened lower portholes and many men struggled through them into the ship before police and Customs officials could get through the crowd to close the portholes.

Others climbed ropes hanging over the side. Some scaled a giant crane on the wharf next to the ship.

Crates Smashed

Impatient men try to swarm the Castel Felice.

Impatient men try to swarm the Castel Felice.Credit:The Age Archives

Hundreds more trampled and smashed crates of food which had been stacked on the wharf to be loaded on the ship.

Crowds started to form early on Saturday morning, although the Castel Felice was not due until noon.

When the ship eventually berthed at 3.30 p.m., train and bus loads of people were still arriving at the pier.

One man, reaching for the hand of a girl on the ship, overbalanced and fell into the water. Friends quickly hoisted him back on to the wharf and drove him off in a private car.

Customs men were kept busy all afternoon seizing parcels and tins containing food and articles of clothing thrown by the girls to the wharf.

Two fire brigades from Port Melbourne, and South Melbourne were called to Station Pier about 7 p.m. when a cigarette butt set fire to a section of the wharf near the entrance.

The Castel Felice was carrying 1400 migrants. All but 300 of the passengers were Greek. The rest were Hungarians, Yugoslavs and Italians.

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Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio unveils $15m plan for new parks in Melbourne


Pocket parks are created by repurposing unused land in built-up areas to create green space.

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Ms D’Ambrosio said the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the importance of being able to visit a park close to home.

During Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19, when Melburnians were under tough restrictions to suppress spread of the virus, one of the luxuries they could enjoy was visiting parkland and walking trails in their neighbourhoods.

“We’ve become far more attuned to the small areas, the larger areas near to where we live, when we go out, stretch our legs, get some fresh air,” she said at Redleap Reserve in Mill Park.

“We’ve come to appreciate just being out in the open space.”

However, Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien chastised the government over its hypocrisy in announcing new parks while simultaneously “killing off” open spaces for major transport projects.

Michael O’Brien says the government doesn’t know “whether it’s Arthur or Martha” on the issue of parkland.

Michael O’Brien says the government doesn’t know “whether it’s Arthur or Martha” on the issue of parkland.Credit:Joe Armao

“Everyone loves a park, but this government really doesn’t know whether it’s Arthur or Martha,” Mr O’Brien said.

“You’ve got the Environment Minister announcing new parks, at the same time you’ve got the transport [infrastructure] minister cancelling major parks – they’re going to be chewed up by the Suburban Rail Loop. ”

Documents released in December showing where the $50 billion rail line’s 26-kilometre first stage will run detail plans for the Southern Stabling Yard in Heatherton, where dozens of trains running solely on the suburban loop would be stored. The train stables would take up 35 hectares zoned “green wedge”, which both Labor and the state opposition have vowed to protect.

The 13 pocket parks Ms D’Ambrosio announced on Sunday are in addition to the 18 the government committed to before the last state election, which were predominantly in inner-city electorates Labor hoped to wrest from the Greens.

An artist’s impression of the proposed Mount Street pocket park in Prahran - part of a new $15 million investment in green spaces.

An artist’s impression of the proposed Mount Street pocket park in Prahran – part of a new $15 million investment in green spaces.

Of the 18 announced three weeks before the election, 14 were in marginal electorates. Two new parks had been promised in the state’s smallest – and at the time most marginal – electoral district of Prahran, which the Greens held by just 0.4 per cent.

On Sunday Ms D’Ambrosio denied her government had targeted marginal seats through the $154 million Suburban Parks Program, and said a pocket park had been identified for every metropolitan council area. Local governments were invited to nominate sites for the new parks, with an independent panel assessing the applications, she said.

“We’ve been working with local councils to establish the best places and the best locations for these parks,” she said. “And that’s what our motivation has been because we know that Victorians love these open spaces, and they love to be able to get their dogs off the leash.”

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Half of country in heatwave, 40C in Adelaide, Melbourne


More than half of the Australian population is in the grips of a heatwave with temperatures expected to peak at 14C above average in most of the nation’s southeast cities.

Adelaide is forecast to hit 41C on Sunday, while Melbourne is set to reach 35C on Sunday and 40C on Monday before a cool change arrives in the evening.

Canberra will also be hot, with temperatures of 38C expected on Sunday and Monday, and 37C on Tuesday, while Hobart is forecast to hit 34C on Monday.

Sydney will be slightly cooler than the rest of the southeast with a top of 33C expected on Sunday.

Weather bureau meteorologist Jonathan How said it was the first big heatwave of 2021 and it was due to a very hot air mass that had been sitting over Western Australia for a few weeks.

“More than half of the Australian population is currently in the grips of a heatwave,” he told ABC News Breakfast on Sunday morning.

“People in Perth would be well aware of the very high temperatures and that is moving into the southeast, giving pretty much all southeast cities up to 14C above average temperatures for this time of year.”

Mr How said Oodnadatta in northern South Australia was the hottest place on Saturday at 44.9C, while western Sydney reached the high 30s, Adelaide 39C and the rest of South Australia and NSW hit the low 40s.

And he said there was plenty more heat to come, with “stifling conditions” over the next few nights likely to see the temperature stay above 30C until well past midnight in Adelaide and Melbourne.

“Inland, we won’t see the temperature get below 30C, 31C, and that makes it is difficult for the body to recover and that’s why heatwaves are very dangerous,” Mr How said.

“As you make plans for this (long) weekend, remember to factor in the heat and any fire weather warnings. Keep up to date with the forecast, stay hydrated and stay safe.”

A cool change is expected to sweep across South Australia and western Victoria early on Monday afternoon, dropping the temperature to the mid-20s on Tuesday.

But Canberra and Sydney will have to wait until at least Tuesday evening for some relief from the heat.

Inland NSW will remain hot and the heat will rebuild across Western Australia with Perth expected to reach the high 30s again by next weekend.

jack.paynter@news.com.au



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Brisbane Roar equals biggest-ever W-League win with 6-0 thumping of Melbourne Victory


Brisbane Roar W-League coach Jake Goodship says self-belief and some advice from a Roar legend helped his side break its winless run in style on the Gold Coast on Friday night.

Having drawn its first four matches, the Roar equalled its biggest-ever W-League win at Carrara, smashing six goals to hand Melbourne Victory their biggest-ever defeat.

Goals to Mariel Hecher and Tameka Yallop gave the Roar a 2-0 lead at the break, before Sharn Freier, Winonah Heatley and a brace from Emily Gielnik secured the win.

The victory — Roar’s biggest since 2009, when they beat Newcastle and Perth by the same score — came after the side opened their campaign with four successive draws.

Remaining unbeaten through that stage was a plus, but Goodship said his team kept the faith that results would come in an avalanche.

“The best thing about it was the players kept believing in what we are doing,” Goodship said.

“They didn’t want to listen to any outside noise about results.

Goodship has a strong squad to chose from, with Matildas greats Clare Polkinghorne and Tameka Yallop headlining the squad, although that quality has been punctuated by some impressive players stepping up from the National Premier Leagues.

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Goal scorers Hecher, Heatley and Freier all played in the second-tier National Premier Leagues (NPL) competition last season and have immediately made their mark on the squad.

“I think it shows the quality of the NPL that we have in Queensland, and the quality of coaching as well,” Goodship said.

“Two of those players [Hecher and Heatley] are from the Lions under Rob Askew, which is a credit to him, they’ve come straight in.

“They were ready to play straight away and that’s why they started and have been dominant in our starting 11.”

“They’ve all earned the respect of the experienced players, the Matildas, and they’ve done fantastically.”

While Brisbane has been dominating games in terms of chances created up to now, putting the ball in the net has been an issue prior to Friday’s avalanche of goals.

To help fix that, Goodship turned to a Roar legend.

Henrique cries after scoring against Glory
Henrique won three A-League championships with the Brisbane Roar.(AAP Image: Dan Peled)

Henrique played 168 times for the Roar in the A-League, scoring 40 goals on his way to two premierships and three championships.

“We bought Henrique in for a couple of sessions to work with Emily and a couple of the young players as well and the confidence he gave the players was incredible.

“Little techniques and little bits of advice that he can give having played at the highest level is priceless, and it paid off.

The Roar are now one of three teams yet to lose a game this season, along with ladder-topping Sydney and Canberra United.

However, despite the floodgates opening, Goodship is under no illusions that his side will need to remain switched-on if they are to stay in the hunt.

“The draw doesn’t get easier. We saw what happened to Victory, they beat City 6-0 and then lost their next two games, so for us, it’s really important to continue what we’re doing.

“We need to make sure that every player is performing every action at a better level and standard, so that when we create chances, we finish them off.

“We have the ability to hurt any team with the amount of chances we create.”



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Australian Open tennis player Paula Badosa tests positive for COVID-19 in hotel quarantine in Melbourne


A Spanish tennis player ranked in the top 70 who was forced to quarantine in her hotel room after potentially being exposed to coronavirus on an Australian Open charter flight says she has tested positive for COVID-19.

Paula Badosa, a 23-year-old who reached the fourth round at last year’s French Open, wrote on Twitter that she received her test result on the seventh day of her hard quarantine, despite previously complaining about being forced to isolate.

“I have some bad news,” Badosa said in a post written in Spanish and English.

“Today I received a positive COVID-19 test result. I’m feeling unwell and have some symptoms, but I’ll try to recover as soon as possible listening to the doctors.

“I’ve been taken to a health hotel to self-isolate and be monitored.”

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Badosa was among the 72 tennis players who were placed under a stricter lockdown — unable to leave their hotel rooms at all for two weeks — after being on a flight with someone who tested positive upon arrival in Melbourne.

Tennis Australia has refused to identify those dozens of players, but several have posted on social media about being in hard lockdown.

Badosa complained about quarantine before testing positive

A number of players have been complaining of being placed into full isolation, including Badosa, who said in a since-deleted tweet that she had not been expecting to have to isolate, even if there had been a positive result on the plane.

“At the beginning the rule was the positive section of the plane who was with that person had to quarantine. Not the whole plane,” she wrote.

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley said those players were in the minority and some other players, including Arem Sitek, said the rules had been communicated to players prior to them travelling.

Before the positive test became public, the Royal Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET) issued a statement in support of “each and every Spanish player who is currently suffering the consequences of confinement in Australia”.

The RFET said players had not been informed about the possibility of going into isolation based on a positive test on a plane, only if they returned a positive PCR test.

The statement said that the RFET “understand” the measures are taken for the good of everyone, but called for the confinement to be “compatible with the mental and physical health of the athletes”.

There were 17 tournament charter flights that arrived in Australia over three days last week.

Players and their entourages then needed to go through a mandatory 14-day quarantine ahead of the tournament.

Main-draw play is supposed to begin February 8 at Melbourne Park.

As it is, that is a three-week delay to the start of the hard-court major championship because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Badosa was on a flight carrying players and others to Melbourne from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

She is ranked 67th in singles and lost in the second round of the 2020 Australian Open last January.

Her career-best grand slam singles showing came in October at Roland Garros.

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W-League crowd culture under the spotlight after bottles thrown in Melbourne derby


There has been a lot of discussion about male fan behaviour at women’s football this week after a Victory fan threw a bottle at Melbourne City goalkeeper Teagan Micah during a W-League match on Sunday.

The fan was part of a men’s active group that had attended the last two Victory W-League fixtures, sitting separately from the women’s Victory Vikings group and acting on their own accord.

Originally lauded for their loud and proud support, the recognition of their attendance turned sour after Sunday’s incident at Melbourne’s Epping Stadium, prompting robust conversations within the football community about the difference between A-League and W-League crowd culture.

If you have ever attended an A-League match, you will have seen what male active support looks like.

Loud and unapologetic with passion, they chant in a chorus well into the hundreds throughout the full 90 minutes, while moshing together and drenching themselves in beer anytime a goal is scored.

As women’s football has grown in popularity, especially with the Matildas’ success, some of these fans have made their way over to the W-League in an effort to try to build a one-club mentality.

But the W-League’s fan culture is entirely different and incidents like what happened on Sunday tend to happen when people do not take the time to read the room.

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The Roar Corps, a female-led support group, was established in 2017.

Dedicated to the Brisbane Roar’s women’s team, they are separate to the club’s A-League group, The Den, and attend W-League home matches with their own individual banners and chants.

While the Roar Corps say many men have joined them in the past and that they welcome anyone who wants to come along and support the women’s side, a spokesperson for the group — who agreed to speak to the ABC on the condition of anonymity — said they were adamant about it being done in a safe and positive way.

“The women’s game has a diverse supporter community that welcomes people of all ages, gender, sexual orientation, race and cultural background,” the spokesperson said.

“That is why our focus is on supporting our team positively, with no room for derogatory behaviour that makes that community feel unsafe.

“Those supporters [on Sunday] started verbally abusing the opposition before it escalated, and this kind of aggressive posturing and intimidation is not something we want to see replicated at women’s games.”

Roar Corps members in the crowd at a W-League match.
The Roar Corps instruct their members to show respect to players and spectators.(Facebook: Roar Corps.)

While they have not witnessed a similar incident to what took place at Epping Stadium during their time as a group, the Roar Corps said they had to sometimes pull aside new members when they did not realise they were being inappropriate.

“We have had the occasional supporter come and join us in the active support area with their own preconception of what it should be and start to be more negatively verbal,” the group’s spokesperson said.

As part of a wider discussion happening within the community, it has also been argued that there is too much praise placed on male groups for attending women’s games, as if their presence validates the W-League’s status, or that the type of active support they demonstrate is the ideal scenario.

‘Respect the atmosphere’

Sydney FC is one of the clubs that shares a supporter group, The Cove.

Addison Grundy was the ‘capo’ (main chant leader) with The Cove for four years but recently handed over the megaphone to a younger member.

Grundy said it was important male supporters understood the context of the W-League space.

“What we bring with our noise isn’t necessarily better,” he told the ABC.

“When you go to those games you feel that the crowd is very much behind their team and care about their club, there’s no less passion or desire to win.

“So when The Cove decides to bring more organised support to these games we do talk and take leadership from people that are regulars within the W-League community, about the best way to respect the atmosphere that is there already.

“It’s not our place to go and trample on what’s already there, because it’s really important to the people already attending.”

A banner identifying The Cove at a Sydney FC A-League match.
The Cove support both Sydney FC teams in their respective competitions.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

The Cove has been involved in driving support behind the Sydney FC women’s side in the past, raising money to sponsor three players at the club during the 2015/16 season and ensuring they are always in full song during home finals matches.

Despite their efforts, Grundy recognised The Cove had also sometimes got it wrong.

“I don’t think people always have the intention to offend or be nasty, they just don’t understand the different settings,” he said.

“But when we do make members of that community feel unsafe, we take responsibility for it and pass on that feedback to those people to let them know it wasn’t on.”

As we head towards hosting the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the W-League is likely to grow again in popularity as people try to get a feel for the next Matildas in line.

So whose responsibility is it to ensure the community can grow beyond its regular fan base while also protecting its culture?

“The level of security should be such that players, officials and fans feel safe doing their jobs and supporting the game,” the Roar Corps spokesperson said.

“It takes constant effort behind the scenes to protect and nurture a safe environment.

“The responsibility in the case of the Roar Corps has been taken on by some dedicated fans who spend a lot of time promoting not only the Roar women’s team but the idea of the group itself.

“Whether or not it should be a fan responsibility is another question — the club and the governing body could certainly help in that regard.”



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