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Mornington Peninsula drowning victim family’s border pain


Aida Hamed, who tragically drowned on the Mornington Peninsula on Wednesday, was “loved by everyone”, her daughter-in-law says.

But Alisar Najem and her partner, Aida’s son Daniel Hamed, feared they would be blocked from saying goodbye to Aida at her funeral because of border closures.

Ms Najem was told “we are going to terminate your call” and hung up on twice while pleading for an exemption with the Victorian health department’s COVID-19 hotline, she said.

She spoke to different hotline staff members on Thursday and Friday.

Both hung up on her when she wouldn’t take “we can’t help you” for an answer, she said.

Ms Najem and Mr Hamad, both 25, struggled for two days to get a definite answer on whether they could enter Victoria for the funeral.

She repeatedly contacted Service NSW, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, the supplied email address for Victorian border exemption permits and the COVID hotline, but was consistently told “we don’t know”.

“We have tried every government department — I’m not joking,” she said.

“It’s really frustrating because, what do you mean, you don’t know? Who can help us?

“There’s no compassion. Why aren’t they being trained to have compassion?”

She said DHHS called her at 5.40pm on Friday before her planned 6pm flight to Melbourne confirming they would be able to enter Victoria for the funeral, after Ms Najem spoke to media.

Ms Najem first called at 7am on Thursday and kept trying until she received the answer, she said.

Aida Hamed died aged 45 when a wave swept her and three others into the ocean from rocks at Bushrangers Bay, about 100 km south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula, about 3.30pm on Wednesday.

A woman aged 47 and her two daughters aged 13 and 19 — who called Aida “aunty” — survived when an off-duty lifeguard aged 24 and another man aged 48 leapt into the ocean to intervene.

The lifeguard used his surfboard as a flotation device which the family clung to until they could be reached by a winch and the marine rescue boat.

Police said the quick-thinking actions “without doubt” prevented more deaths during the terrifying incident.

But despite the two men’s heroic efforts and those of police and paramedics, Aida could not be saved.

She was a single mum of four children: three in Victoria and one, Daniel, in Sydney.

Before the DHHS confirmation, Ms Najem told NCA NewsWire: “Everyone is saying different things — we’re taking a chance and going to the airport”.

She said Daniel, her fiance, was “numb and sad” since the death and had not had time to mourn “because he’s just trying to get to Melbourne”.

“His siblings are all in Victoria. He’s distraught and needs the emotional support of his family,” she said.

“I’m trying to support him — it is draining, I’m just trying to get him to Melbourne. That’s my priority right now. He needs his siblings because they know what he’s going through.”

She said they each had a COVID test which was negative, and lived in the Sydney suburbs of Bass Hill and Macquarie Fields respectively.

She said Aida was Muslim and it was extremely important for her to be buried as soon as possible in keeping with her religious beliefs.

“But that’s something they obviously don’t care about,” she said.

“We all have the right to freedom of religion and the right to religious practices — that’s something else they should take into consideration.

“Telling us, ‘we’re going to terminate the call’ — it’s not right.”

The funeral was supposed to be held on Friday, but had already been pushed to Saturday so Mr Hamed would be able to go.

“If this is not urgent then I don’t know what urgent is,” she said.

After the tragic death, Ms Amed’s friend Leyla Shi said she 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.”

Victoria Police Inspector Janene Denton said Bushrangers Bay had unpredictable weather conditions and could turn from calm to rough in an instant.

Ms Hamed was visiting the spot on a day trip from where she lived in Epping in Melbourne’s north.

“The size of the wave has completely taken them by surprise,” Inspector Denton said.

“(It) is a reminder of the danger of those type of areas. It’s not a patrolled beach and the dangers are magnified by the remoteness of the location. It’s actually very difficult for emergency services to get in there.”

She praised the “really brave act” of the two men — who didn’t know each other — risking their own safety to save the family who survived.

“We have passed on our absolute gratitude,” she said.

A DHHS spokeswoman said that they could not comment on individual cases.

“We cannot comment on individual cases but exemptions requested on compassionate grounds are top priority and processed as quickly as possible – our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time,” she said.



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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.

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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.

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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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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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Claremont serial killer’s rape victim shares her story


A teenager who was dragged through a dark cemetery and repeatedly raped used to think of her attacker as a “monster”, but now that Bradley Robert Edwards has been exposed as the Claremont serial killer she knows he is a “coward”.

Edwards raped the then-17-year-old girl in 1995 before he committed the shocking murders of childcare worker Jane Rimmer, 23, in 1996 and solicitor Ciara Glennon, 27, in 1997.

She bravely faced the former Telstra technician in the WA Supreme Court on Wednesday when he was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 40 years. It means he is likely to die behind bars.

Reading out loud her victim impact statement, it was the first time the woman, who cannot be identified, had spoken publicly during the court case.

“In my family, we have never referred to the perpetrator by name. We used to refer to him as the monster,” she said.

“However, since his capture, I have realised he is not a monster at all, rather the definition of a coward.

“He preyed on weak, vulnerable young women who didn’t stand a chance. How pathetic.

“There was no evil genius at work here. He slipped through the cracks because he is unremarkable.”

Edwards — who Justice Stephen Hall described as “stoic” throughout the seven-month-long trial — did not even appear to flinch as the woman stared him down.

The teenager was walking through Rowe Park in Claremont when Edwards grabbed her.

She was bound, gagged and had a bag placed over her head, then she was driven to Karrakatta Cemetery.

“By the time I was in his vehicle I was picturing my own gravesite,” she said.

Edwards dragged her through the cemetery, then raped her twice and even when he removed her hood she kept her eyes closed.

He then dumped her semi-naked in a bush and she made her own way to Hollywood Hospital for treatment.

The woman described Edwards as inhuman and dedicated her statement to other survivors of sexual assault, as well as her friends and family.

“You don’t ever recover from sexual assault. It is a lifelong sentence,” she said.

“Should I start with the nights lost to sleeplessness, stress-induced weight loss or the clumps of hair that have fallen out?

“The onset of panic attacks, breakdowns, fear of the dark, being on constant high alert or jumping when the phone rings wondering if they have found him?

“I could use words like degraded, captured, unable to breathe, drowning in fear, indescribable fear … fear so bad you wished you weren’t breathing because then maybe it would stop. But these words don’t come close.”

In addition to being “irrevocably scarred” from the attack, the woman said she had to relive the worst night of her life over and over again for authorities “because of something someone else chose to do and then was too gutless to own up to”.

“I will find joy knowing you are locked behind bars, without freedom without choice, suffering for the rest of your life inside your own crippled mind,” she said to Edwards.

“I hope you are treated as well in prison as you have treated us.”

Edwards’ DNA was left behind on the victim, which was crucial to catching him decades later.

Last year, the 52-year-old pleaded guilty to attacking the teenager, as well as indecently assaulting an 18-year-old woman sleeping in her Huntingdale home in 1988.

During that attack, Edwards closed the door to her parents’ bedroom and unplugged the phone before attacking the young woman in her bed.

She initially thought it was her boyfriend but realised she was mistaken when she reached out to touch his face.

It was only after she struggled that Edwards ran away, leaving behind a silk kimono with his DNA on it, which became a vital piece of evidence against him.

That victim, who also cannot be named, was equally brave in reading out her victim impact statement.

She said she never let her feet dangle off her bed at night.

“I’m OK when I’m awake, it’s when I’m asleep that I’m scared,” she said.

“Then there are the dreams. I am always breathless trying to hide, but I can never get away. I’m trapped.”

The woman, who is married with children, said her dreams changed after Edwards was caught.

“Edwards now features as the villain of my nightmares and I can’t make it stop,” she said.

The woman said she suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, and struggled to even hug her children, which had affected them.

She described it as “generational trauma”.

The worst part of the trial for her was when she viewed Edwards’ police interview and he was shown a photo of her bedroom, which made her feel like he was being allowed into her space.

“It was a horrific moment for me,” she said.

At times, she said, she felt guilty for being alive and not helping police stop Edwards sooner.

The woman emphasised that she was not a victim, rather she was a survivor.

Looking Edwards in the eye, she quoted back to him a comment he had previously made: “I just want to go to sleep, wake up and this will all be a bad dream.”

Justice Hall said in his sentencing remarks that Edwards pleaded guilty to those offences as a “strategic decision to frame your defence on the basis that you were a rapist but not a murderer”.

After an epic trial, Edwards was finally found guilty of murdering Ms Rimmer and Ms Glennon.

However, he was acquitted of murdering secretary Sarah Spiers, 18, whose remains have never been found.

That was despite Justice Hall acknowledging that Edwards was the “probable killer” — there just was no forensic evidence.

Ms Spiers, who was described as happy, vanished after attending Club Bayview with friends as part of Australia Day festivities in January 1996.

She called for a taxi from a phone box down the road, but was gone by the time the driver arrived.

Ms Rimmer, who was described as bubbly and sweet, disappeared after she visited the Continental Hotel with friends in June 1996, and was last captured on a security camera outside the venue.

Her naked and decomposing body was found about two months later in semirural Wellard when a young family stopped to chase after a rooster and pick death lilies.

Ms Glennon, who was described as courageous, had been out with colleagues in March 1997 and was last seen walking down Stirling Highway by several witnesses.

A man searching for cannabis plants found her body dumped in Eglinton bushland a few weeks later.

Significantly, Edwards’ DNA was recovered from her fingernails.

Justice Hall described Edwards as a “dangerous predator” but said he had “maintained a calm and unemotional demeanour” throughout WA’s so-called “trial of the century”.

“During the (police) interview, you were polite and cooperative and came across as an intelligent man,” he said.

“This ability to dissimulate may go some way to explaining how you were able to lead such an overtly unremarkable life while committing the offences.”

After the sentencing was handed down, Police Commissioner Chris Dawson, who described Edwards as “sadistic”, said the families of the victims believed it was a just outcome.

“It is my sincere hope … that Edwards will never be released from prison,” he said.

Edwards, who refused to participate in a psychiatric report, has until February 3 to lodge an appeal.



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Jewish Yeshivah Centre abuse victim ‘will drop $2.5 million lawsuit if apology made


The man has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and a persistent depressive disorder, with psychiatric reports referenced in his statement of claim attributing them to the abuse he suffered as a child.

Though there is no suggestion Rabbi Groner was aware of the abuse at the time it occurred, he has been a trustee of the Yeshivah Centre for decades and is ranked among the most senior representatives of the Chabad Lubavitch movement in Australia.

David Cyprys outside court in 2012

David Cyprys outside court in 2012Credit:Jason South

His late father, Rabbi Yitzchak Groner, was found by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to have enabled predatory acts against children in the care of the Yeshivah Centre to continue.

The commission described the late rabbi’s response as a “pattern of total inaction”. His son did not respond to a request for comment.

The man behind the legal claim said although it had been made clear to the Yeshivah Centre that he would “walk away” if he received a genuine apology and action at board level, there was no indication as yet that either would happen.

Sources familiar with the legal case said the Yeshivah Centre insurers had indicated they would not be accepting liability for the claim. This would leave the centre potentially financially exposed.

The centre is also fighting three insurers in separate Supreme Court proceedings, seeking indemnification for earlier payouts made to two other abuse victims.

Yeshivah schools have signed up to the Commonwealth’s National Redress Scheme. But related entities where children were also sexually abused have yet to do so.

Earlier this year, another Cyprys victim, abuse campaigner Manny Waks, was awarded $804,170 in damages in a civil case against Cyprys.

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Mr Waks was aged 13 when he was abused by Cyprys at the Elwood synagogue and then at the Chabad Yeshivah centre in Melbourne.

Cyprys was a security guard, caretaker, martial arts instructor and locksmith within the Yeshivah Centre. He also ran youth camps.

In 1992, Cyprys pleaded guilty to an indecent assault against a child and received a good behaviour bond, with no conviction recorded. He went on to re-offend and was jailed in 2013 for the abuse of several children.

He was arrested by police after his release on parole in October last year and is facing further historic abuse charges in New South Wales.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.

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Victorian timber latest victim of trade stoush


China’s customs agency then issued a notice saying it had detected a bark beetle in Queensland logs heading to China.

On Thursday the Australian Forestry Products Association confirmed Chinese customs authorities had cited similar concerns about pests in Victorian timber, resulting in the suspension of local exports.

“AFPA is working with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment to obtain more details from Chinese officials about these incidents and to address the issues identified,” an association spokesman said.

Victoria had been largely unaffected by the widening Chinese trade restrictions, although some wine makers have experienced difficulties.

Timber from south-western Victoria and South Australia was due to be shipped to China from the Port of Portland.

The port’s chief executive, Greg Tremewen, said the suspension would have far-reaching consequences for the local economy.

He said the Port of Portland exported well over 1 million tonnes of logs each year, with the vast majority going to China.

“I’m sure the value of logs that go through this port would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Mr Tremewen said. Two ships were due to arrive next week to be loaded with logs, he said.

“Something would need to happen very quickly for those ships to be loaded. It’s not good news.”

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The Commonwealth Bank has estimated that up $27 billion of Australian exports to China could be under threat if restrictions are imposed across all categories.

The tensions with China come after Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origin of COVID-19 earlier this year. The Australia government has also criticised China’s actions in Hong Kong, the South China Sea and the ethnically divided region of Xinjiang.

On Thursday Premier Daniel Andrews said the Victorian government had made contact with China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

He said the government wanted to ensure there were no barriers to trade with China. “We export the best products in the world of their kind,” he said.

Mr Andrews described China as Victoria’s biggest customer and he treated the relationship with respect.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews calls on the federal government to heal trade rift with China.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews calls on the federal government to heal trade rift with China.Credit:Joe Armao

“If you don’t value that important trading relationship, then they won’t be your biggest customer for very long,” he said. “Whether it’s China, the US, EU doesn’t matter.”

Asked why Victoria’s direct relationship with China through its Belt and Road Initiative wasn’t benefiting local timber exports, Mr Andrews said the Commonwealth government could speak to its relationship with China.

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“They’re rather keen on this exclusive arrangement where they get to do all this work and no one else can get involved. So, if it’s not in a good place, I don’t know why anybody would be looking to me or us to try and find a detailed explanation of that.”

He said ripping up the Belt and Road agreement with China would do little to help the situation.

“I just hope people in the federal government are getting their calls returned because this is about jobs. It’s about real people,” he said.

“No one wants to see any Victorian product unable to be exported to that country or any country. We’ve all just got to find a way to repair whatever damage has been done.”

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the trade curbs demonstrated why the Victorian government’s decision to sign the Belt and Road agreement was a problem. “It is a deal that was supposed to be about improving market access for Victorian products, particularly agricultural products,” he said.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Chinese customs had notified the Department of Agriculture that all exports of logs from Victoria had been suspended as of Wednesday.

“I understand this follows the detection of live bark beetle in a number of consignments of logs exported from Victoria this year,” he said. “There is concern around the effectiveness of fumigation treatments on shipments of bushfire-affected logs for export.”

Mr Littleproud said the department had notified the industry and was working on an “enhanced treatment and inspection response”.

James Williamson, general manager of Porthaul trucking company in Portland, said he feared the restrictions may spread to the wood chip sector, which accounts for about 60 per cent of his business.

“It’s not going to be good for the region,” he said. “People are going to lose their jobs.”

Mr Williamson said he had already heard of about 20 people losing their jobs locally because of the latest restrictions on timber.

He said his company would be forced to consider cutting jobs if Chinese authorities placed similar restrictions on exports of local wood chips.

“Hopefully it doesn’t get to that.”

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Holgate falls victim to PM’s grandstanding


Here’s the facts: Christine Holgate has been asked to step aside “or go” by our Prime Minister over an expense of $19,950. This is the total sum spent by Holgate who, along with the support of the board and chair, chose to reward four executives for their work in clinching the Bank@Post deal.

The rewarded executives worked in securing the deal that led the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and NAB paying a total of $66 million for enabling their customers to bank at Australia Post. The deal not only saved money for the company, but it also helped small business owners, with post office licensees earning a boost in transaction payments by up to 50 per cent.

For an organisation whose total economic contribution is $6 billion, $19,950 in reward, or 0.03 per cent of the total size of the deal, is more than deserving. The optics of rewarding high income earners shouldn’t be the issue here either.

This year, 33,000 Australia Post staff received bonuses of around $600 each as “thank you” payments for their work during the peak of COVID-19.

There is no double standard. There is however a very different kind of optics we should be opening our eyes to. Our Prime Minister grandstanding in Question Time, declaring his disgust with Holgate’s actions, adding that she must step aside, or go. It seems the PM would like for you to see is that he is tough on the use of taxpayer’s money and is taking swift action.

The fact that no taxpayer money was actually used to purchase the watches seems not to matter in the political sphere.

The same seems to apply to his lack of similar action with $33 million land purchase worth only $3 million dollars.

So before pointing the finger at Holgate, ask yourself: What are we truly, at our core, unhappy with here? Was it the fact that the watches were Cartier that we’re so “appalled and disgusted?”. Do we no longer believe in a good old reward for hard work? Or are we being led down the all too easy path of chopping down the tall, flashy, watch-wearing poppy.

Shivani Gopal is the Chief Executive of The Remarkable Woman, a mentoring, money and leadership membership for women.



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‘Victim’ of toxic waste dumping syndicate says it could be driven to wall by EPA


On Tuesday, lawyers for David Barry Logistics wrote to Premier Daniel Andrews, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Workplace Safety Minister Jill Hennessy asking for the state government to intervene to halt the clean-up order. Being forced to pay for the clean-up threatened the “very existence” of the business, the letter said.

“A solution is needed that will allow DBL to remain viable while removing these [containers of waste] from its premises, which were foisted on DBL under false pretences, under the watch and direction of the government’s own taskforce,” wrote Jonathon Lean of law firm Aitken Partners.

David Barry Logistics operations director Stephen Campbell and CEO Sonya Constantine in front of toxic waste sent to their storage facility by Bradbury Industrial Services in January 2020.

David Barry Logistics operations director Stephen Campbell and CEO Sonya Constantine in front of toxic waste sent to their storage facility by Bradbury Industrial Services in January 2020.Credit:Eddie Jim

Forcing the Melbourne company to deal with the waste would “cost Victorians their jobs, and will remove one of the small shining lights in the dangerous goods industry which has been plagued by rogue operators”, the letter said.

The clean-up from the alleged dumping of chemical waste by the syndicate in 13 other warehouses in Melbourne’s northern suburbs has already cost the state government an estimated $56 million. The government is also paying to clean up after an industrial blaze at a West Footscray warehouse in August 2018, as well as at a huge stockpile buried on a property near the South Australian border.

The waste delivered to David Barry Logistics came from Bradbury’s processing facility in Campbellfield after it amassed more than three times its maximum limit. Bradbury, under EPA supervision, was barred from accepting any new material and ordered to reduce the stockpile.

Another 2 million litres were removed from an illegal storage facility Bradbury had opened nearby. While WorkSafe monitored that removal operation, it did not test the contents of the containers that were sent for storage at licensed facilities around Melbourne. David Barry Logistics took waste from Bradbury in two separate deliveries in 2018 and 2019.

Bradbury Industrial Services' Campbellfield factory in the days after the April 2019 fire.

Bradbury Industrial Services’ Campbellfield factory in the days after the April 2019 fire.

The EPA only discovered the deception when it launched a new investigation after Bradbury’s Campbellfield plant was destroyed in a massive industrial blaze in early April 2019.

“We understand that at that time under the watch of the [EPA/WorkSafe] taskforce, in fact, Bradbury proceeded to foist millions of litres of [toxic waste] on various lawful operators around Melbourne, including DBL,” Mr Lean wrote.

”This industrial waste was incorrectly labelled (and may have been transported illegally). DBL should have been warned about Bradbury as soon as reasonably practicable after the taskforce was aware of these issues. It was not.”

Documents show the regulators deny responsibility for the situation even though they acknowledged in September 2019 that Bradbury had misrepresented the contents of the containers and offloaded them on unsuspecting industry players while under the supervision of WorkSafe.

An EPA spokesman said that regardless of the circumstances of how David Barry Logistics received the waste, it did not have the “necessary approvals” to store that material.

“The law is clear – the onus is on the receiver of the waste to complete these checks and David Barry Logistics can only accept material that it is licensed to receive.”

A state government spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter and said the issue at David Barry Logistics was a matter for the regulators.

Bradbury went into external administration in July 2019 with debts of $24 million, and the EPA has subsequently learnt the company was unlikely to receive an insurance payout that could help fund clean-up operations.

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“At this stage, it is difficult for us to rely on the insurance companies to release the funds, so we must take action accordingly,” the EPA wrote to David Barry Logistics in November 2019.

The EPA issued its first clean-up notice to David Barry Logistics in May 2020, which the company sought to challenge in the Supreme Court. The EPA revoked the notice just before the matter was due to be heard in late August – invalidating the need for the proceeding – and then issued a new order afterwards.

The new notice claimed that inappropriate storage of the Bradbury chemicals and inadequate safety measures at David Barry Logistics was now “likely to cause an environmental hazard”.

Documents show this notice was based on observations made during an inspection by regulators and emergency services personnel in early June but not acted upon until late August.

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“Even if you accepted the views in the new clean-up notice, why was nothing done for two months to inform DBL that the EPA was concerned of a new environmental risk? The timing certainly is curious,” Mr Lean told The Age.

On Wednesday, the company’s premises were again visited by the EPA, WorkSafe, Fire Rescue Victoria and council officers.

“Recent inspections of this site show there is an unacceptable risk. Our number-one priority is the safety of the community, and EPA has taken strong action to protect residents and our environment,” an EPA spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for Fire Rescue Victoria said it had an “enhanced emergency response plan in place for this site.”

A copy of WorkSafe’s latest inspection report obtained by The Age shows the dangerous goods regulator held no major concerns about the facility on Wednesday.

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Callum Buczak accused of harassing rape victim in ‘soap opera’ case


A would-be Olympic equestrian rider and his girlfriend allegedly stalked and harassed a woman who accused the man of rape in a case that resembles a “soap opera”, a court has heard.

Elite rider Callum Buczak, 28, is charged with stalking the alleged victim between February 28 and December 6 last year and “encouraging” his girlfriend to trace the woman’s online activity.

He also allegedly directed other people to use a carriage service to harass by sending “offensive messages and an image” between March 3 and April 15, 2019, according to charge sheets released by the court.

His lawyer Damian Sheales described the case as a “soap opera” at a committal mention in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday.

He also said the alleged victim had “waged a war” against his client.

Meanwhile, Mr Buczak’s partner Alexandra McDonough, 29, allegedly stalked her partner’s accuser, using Instagram to trace online activity and sending it on to Mr Buczak, according to court documents.

But her lawyer, Mark Gumbleton, said he wanted to see some of the charges against Ms McDonough withdrawn.

The couple are also charged with perverting the course of justice in relation to a court order. Both lawyers for the accused pair were successful in applying to cross-examine witnesses over the allegations.

A trial for Mr Buczak for the alleged rape has been set down for May. He has strenuously denied the charges against him.

Mr Buczak and Ms McDonough will return to court in July 2021.



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Local News - Victoria

Clerical abuse victim sues Slater and Gordon over church payout


Known as the Melbourne Response, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne appointed an independent commissioner who investigated allegations of abuse and made a determination based on the evidence.

But compensation payments were capped by the church – first at $50,000, and later lifted to $75,000 – and survivors were required to sign a deed of settlement waiving their right to take civil action.

Victims received an average payout of $36,100, according to church figures provided to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Stephen, who asked for his surname not to be used, was sexually assaulted and raped by disgraced priest Michael Glennon, who was a karate instructor and football coach at St Monica’s Primary School in Moonee Ponds in the mid-1970s.

Glennon died in Ararat Prison in 2014 while serving a 10-year sentence for a string of child sex offences committed between 1973 and 1991, but had previously been incarcerated on four other occasions for clerical abuse.

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In 2016, Stephen provided harrowing details of his encounter with Glennon to the church’s commissioner after seeking legal representation from Slater and Gordon.

His statement included a graphic account of being raped at a school camp at the age of 12.

“He (Glennon) told me to bend over and hold onto a tree. He then sexually assaulted me. I was crying and screaming in pain and he said to me to be quiet because the other boys don’t scream.”

Stephen was awarded $75,000 by the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in September 2016 along with an apology from then Melbourne archbishop Denis Hart.

Now 55, Stephen said he had been urged by a managing clerk at Slater and Gordon to pursue compensation under the Melbourne Response, rather than launching civil proceedings against the church.

“I got this feeling they wanted me to go quietly and pushed me into the easier option,” he said. “I wanted to make the church pay, I’ve not had a life and I have nothing.”

He lapsed into alcohol and drug addiction after dropping out of St Bernard’s College in year 8, and would later spend several stints in prison.

Stephen, who is unemployed and lives in far north Queensland , said he had been re-traumatised by his dealings with the Melbourne Response and felt he had been let down by Slater and Gordon.

“I still don’t understand why all these other people have received huge payouts and I got nothing,” he said.

Melbourne lawyer Lee Flanagan, from Arnold Thomas and Becker, said Stephen should have been encouraged to bring a common law claim for damages in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

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“Our firm is of the view that this claim was more a million-dollar claim rather than a $70,000 one,” Mr Flanagan said.

“That could have at least bought him a house to give him some stability for the first time in his life and got the satisfaction that the church had paid for it.”

A Slater and Gordon spokeswoman said the firm recognised the legal obstacles that confronted survivors of institutional abuse in recent years.

However, the case filed by Arnold Thomas and Becker did not reflect recent legislative changes, the spokeswoman said.

“A bill currently before the Victorian Parliament closes a further loophole in the current compensation regime for victims of institutional abuse,” she said. “This bill bridges remaining gaps between the 2015 reforms and the subsequent 2018 reforms…”

Mr Flanagan conceded that if the legislation was passed, Arnold Thomas Becker would need to apply to the court to have the agreement set aside, which would be difficult.

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