Local News - Victoria

Josh Collings talks about the Cudgewa bushfire

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Australian News

The one question every female sport presenter has been asked


January 02, 2020 14:05:22

Fifty sport journalists walk into a bar.

They all happen to be women.

They all have one question they are asked more than any other.

“Do you even like sport?”

Previously, I thought I was the only one. That it was just me, constantly quizzed and queried about the latest news across every code and league — international and domestic — as though one small stumble or error was proof I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Apparently, it’s far more universal.

Recently, I travelled to the US on a fellowship with the State Department to meet other women in this crazy whirlwind of an industry.

While I never thought Australia was excessively progressive — especially its media landscape — in comparison to some of the stories I’d heard from my colleagues, we’re the Usain Bolt of equality.

Front runners.

Slapped. Ignored. Cut off

By comparison most of the women I was travelling with were “the first” or “the only” women in their respective newsrooms and commentary boxes.

In Australia, the likes of Debbie Spillane, Kelli Underwood and Mel Jones broke the ground I now glide across.

But most of my new friends have had to fight incessantly to be heard and taken seriously.

And while I can relate, I’ve never had my microphone turned off mid-broadcast because “women don’t commentate”, like the delegate from Bangladesh.

Unlike the woman from Nigeria, no national coach has ever turned down an interview with me because he “doesn’t talk to women”.

I’ve also never had to enclose a bikini-clad photograph of myself with my application for a World Cup posting, as my new friend from El Salvador did.

Nor have I been slapped across the face by a footballer playing for the Algerian national team because he had an issue with my publication.

In the #MeToo era, rally cries for women’s empowerment and equality are loud. And yes, they’ve been echoing in the sports media for years.

But perhaps they should be louder. More targeted. More concentrated. More veracious.

Because I met 47 women, from 47 different countries, whose voices have grown hoarse.

They are sick of being judged for the way they look.

They are beyond frustrated at having to work harder and longer than some of their male counterparts, just to be considered “credible”.

They are impatient for the presence of women in power positions.

But they are ever hopeful things can change.

How many female coaches can you name?

I have been fortunate in my career to have had both men and women lift me up and tear me down.

I have not had special treatment and I would never expect it.

We’re constantly told in Australia, “You can’t be it, if you don’t see it”. And off the back of this, we’ve seen the deserved rise and recognition of our female athletes, including most recently the FFA’s historic equal pay scheme for the Matildas and Cricket Australia’s new maternity leave policy.

But how many female coaches can you name?

Now, how many of those coaches oversee traditional “men’s sports”?

It’s not only the sport journalism arena where a woman’s perceived use has a structured limit. It’s backstage, too.

There are hundreds of men and women working tirelessly behind the scenes of the biggest clubs and the largest news organisations at a national and international level.

My point is you’re likely to only know the male names.

And that’s as heartbreaking as it is frustrating. Because it’s the fans who miss out when you don’t have a diverse group of voices championing and speaking for our wide sport offering.

Remember the delegate from Malaysia

My time in America has taught me that while there is always strength in numbers, progress is slow.

There’s no easy fix.

In fact, the most rational — and infuriating — solution is time itself.

Any kind of substantive, lasting change for the women I met is reliant upon wider cultural shifts.

For instance, my friend from Sri Lanka’s latest conundrum was how to convince her boss to send her on assignments when it would cost more than her male colleagues.

Not because she needed extra time or extra resources. But because a separate security team must travel with her to ensure her personal safety. At all times.

And don’t get me started on the additional budget and time required to get women in broadcast jobs up to a “presentable” standard.

The yearning for recognition and change is nothing new — from both a professional and personal perspective. But it was bloody nice to see each woman I met had survived similar battles. We’re a resilient bunch.

So, on the bad days, no matter what gender you may be or industry you work in, remember the delegate from Malaysia.

On her first day working as a sport journalist for her newspaper, her male colleagues took bets on how long she would last.

The longest was a meagre 12 months.

I’m proud to say she’s been a thorn in their sides for 22 years. And plans on digging deeper for another 22 yet.






First posted

January 02, 2020 05:00:21

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Australian News

2019 was Australia’s hottest year on record, BOM data shows

Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2019, according to data from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Temperatures were 1.52 degrees higher in 2019 than the long-term average, breaking the record set in 2013 of 1.33C, by 0.19 degrees.

A graph on the BOM website also shows the warming trend that Australia has experienced since 1910, with temperatures in most years prior to 1970 falling below the long-term average.

While the data has been updated, BOM is not expected to provide an official comment until it releases its annual climate statement on January 9.

This statement will include a comprehensive analysis of the year’s weather events and climate context, including any records of note.

Several other records were smashed in Australia last year, including the record for the country’s hottest day ever, which was broken twice in December.

On December 18 the average maximum temperature in Australia rose to 41.9C, just one day after a record of 40.9C was achieved.

Prior to that, Australia’s hottest day was recorded on January 7, 2013 when temperatures reached 40.3 degrees.

Two states also set new records for their hottest years on record. In NSW, temperatures reached 1.95C above the long-term average – 0.27C higher than the previous record set in 2018.

Western Australia also beat its previous heat record set in 2013 by 0.58C, with temperatures 1.67C higher than average.

The year’s highest daily maximum temperature in Australia was experienced on December 19 in Nullarbor, South Australia, when the mercury reached 49.9C. However, this failed to topple the record set in 1960 in Oodnadatta Airport of 50.7C.

The cinfirmation of a schriching 2019 comes as many parts of Australia – including NSW, Victoria, South Australia and parts of Queensland and Tasmania – have been gripped by a months-long bushfire crisis that has killed at least 18 people, destroyed more than 1300 homes and scorched more than 5.5 million hectares – an area far greater than Denmark or the Netherlands.

Another heatwave is forecast for Saturday with temperatures expected to exceed 40C in parts of Victoria and NSW.

Continue the conversation @charischang2 |

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Local News - Victoria

Military evacuates hundreds stranded in East Gippsland

Military evacuates hundreds stranded in East Gippsland

The Australian navy is delivering supplies and operations teams to fire-ravaged Mallacoota in Victoria’s East Gippsland region.

About 4000 Mallacoota residents were forced to take shelter on the beach in East Gippsland, where bushfires have destroyed hundreds of homes since New Year’s Eve.

The HMAS Choules is ferrying water, food, fuel and other supplies to the town on Thursday.

The vessel will also evacuate hundreds of residents who have been left stranded with no home to return to.

Image: News Corp Australia

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Australian News

Jake Edwards’s AFL career ended with him trying to take his own life. Now he’s trying to help others


January 02, 2020 08:38:11

When Jake Edwards’s name was called out by the Carlton Football Club on AFL draft night in 2005, it appeared to herald a long and successful career in football.

Less than nine years later, he tried to take his life.

“I’m very fortunate to still be here, to be able to spend time with my family again and shake my dad’s hand and hug Mum,” Edwards said.

The 31-year-old’s life collapsed after being delisted by the Blues, as he battled mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse.

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It all stemmed from a diagnosis of depression and anxiety from his footballing days, and a loss of identity as a footballer post-retirement.

“There is a four-year period post my AFL career where I just ran away, I just pushed people away. Friends, family, I stopped going to birthdays, Christmases,” Edwards recalled.

“I felt like I let my family down. That identity of football I had lost, and when I took that jumper off I didn’t know who I was anymore.

“If I wasn’t drinking every weekend, it was every few days, which ultimately led me [to] drug abuse as well.

“I needed to find that feeling again of being valued, and that’s what I guess the alcohol and drug abuse fulfilled in my life.”

Born into a footballing dynasty

Football had always been a major part of Edwards’s life. His great-grandfather, grandfather, father and cousin all played in the VFL or AFL.

His grandfather, Arthur Edwards, played 120 games for Footscray, including in the club’s successful 1954 grand final against Melbourne.

“I always say if I was to give blood tomorrow, there would be little footies floating around [in it],” Edwards said.

“It was always something I wanted to do, for as long as I can remember.”

But despite glimpses of his talent, life as a professional footballer didn’t go according to plan for Edwards.

Towards the end of his second year with Carlton, he started experiencing mental health issues, which he tried to ignore.

“I did what every typical young male does and just closed off,” Edwards recalled.

“I didn’t want to talk about it, I didn’t want people to know about it.

“Symptoms for me were just isolation, crying most mornings, which is frustrating because I was supposed to be fit, healthy.”

Edwards hid his struggles from his teammates and Carlton, until one poor VFL game sent him off the rails.

He went back to the family farm, calling the club on the way to tell them he was done with football.

‘A simple pill isn’t going to be the cure’

Edwards was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and started taking medication, allowing him to return to the club and resume his career.

But he didn’t fully grasp what it meant to have a mental illness.

“I was naive and ignorant to the fact it was something that was probably going to be with me for a lifetime, and a simple pill isn’t going to be the cure,” Edwards said.

The illness reared it head a couple of years later, when Edwards had left Carlton and was training with the Western Bulldogs, hoping to be picked up in the AFL draft.

Despite promises from the club, he was overlooked, ending his career and sending him spiralling — eventually leading to an attempt to take his own life.

“I had a trigger in a relationship which led me down a four-day drug-and-alcohol-fuelled bender, and that led to an attempt on my own life one morning,” he said.

Help from Outside the Locker Room

Edwards spent time in a program working with psychiatrists and getting education around mental health, and it was there that he developed the concept of Outside the Locker Room (OTLR).

The not-for-profit foundation aims to help sporting clubs — from grassroots to professional — along with schools and employers to understand and manage the challenges faced by their employees or members.

It has been widely adopted, with the Federal Government providing funding in Western Australia for the program to be rolled out in 100 sporting clubs and 50 schools per year for the next four years.

It also comes at a time when the issue of mental health in the AFL looms larger than ever, with star Collingwood midfielder Dayne Beams stepping away from the game indefinitely last month while describing himself as a “broken man”.

Subiaco Football Club is one of the organisations which has adopted the Outside the Locker Room program, having done so after one of its trainers worked on a research project looking at the mental health of injured players.

“Our board looked at those findings in 2017 and thought, ‘We need to do something to support our players’,” Subiaco chief executive Peter Capes said.

When football is about more than the game

OTLR was introduced at Subiaco to provide support and education for players struggling with mental health and has helped the club through some difficult times.

“We lost a player due to suicide a couple of years ago, and it really impacted our playing group, and Outside the Locker Room were able to quickly come in and provide some counselling and support,” Capes said.

The organisation provides services to the club in other ways, providing a phone app which allows players to anonymously log data related to how they are feeling.

It gives Subiaco’s coaches valuable information.

“It provides a snapshot of the playing group and the sorts of things we need to pay attention to,” Capes said.

“We’ve gone away from coaches coaching footy. They have to coach the player, look out for them and how they are going, they need to know what’s going on in their family and friends.

“It’s become a little bit more complicated.”









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Navy, HMAS Choules evacuate stranded people

A naval ship has docked in waters off the Victorian town of Mallacoota to evacuate some of the 4000 people trapped by the deadly East Gippsland bushfires.

HMAS Choules, which has the capacity to carry 700 troops, arrived off the coast on Thursday morning from Sydney and the first recovery craft was spotted shortly after 9.30am.

It’s understood between 500 and 1000 people could be taken from the fire-ravaged town today.

The military vessel is reportedly 1.5km from Bastion Point in Mallacoota due to the low tide.

Locals and tourists flocked to the beach on New Year’s Eve when the sky turned blood red, orange and black as bushfires encircled the town.

“HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore (a multi-role aviation training vessel contracted by the Navy) will begin relief operations in Mallacoota this morning, including supporting the relocation of vulnerable and high-priority people to Westernport,” the Australian Defence Force said in a statement.

RELATED: Boy becomes face of fire crisis

Two Black Hawk helicopters and one Taipan helicopter were sent to help on New Year’s Day.

“These helicopters have been involved in transporting firefighters from Bairnsdale to Mallacoota and transporting the injured and vulnerable from Mallacoota to East Sale for medical treatment by emergency services,” the ADF said.

Member for Gippsland and Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester took to Twitter just after midday on Thursday to say that the conditions off the coast of Mallacoota were “s**thouse”.

“Excuse the language,” he said.

“HMAS Choules barely visible as CO (commanding officer) Scott Houlihan leads a liaison team to meet with community leaders in town. Hoping to get people on board this arvo.”

Hundreds of people, many wearing masks, packed into the local cinema about 1pm to hear from emergency services about the evacuation plan.

They were told the evacuation is not currently compulsory but they have until 3pm to make a decision and register, Seven reports.

Emergency Management Victoria deputy commissioner Chris Stephenson told a media briefing at Bairnsdale this morning that a number of holiday-makers wanted to stay in Mallacoota so they could take their cars, 4WDs and caravans out by road.

But due to road closures, they could be stuck for weeks.

“That could be a number of weeks. That could be two to three weeks,” he said.

“We’ll offer the opportunity to get as many people out as we possibly can, into a more comfortable place, however, logistically, that’s quite a challenge.”

The Victorian Fisheries Authority on Thursday said five of its Mallacoota officers were helping out the water police and Navy.

Tony Priest, who had been visiting Mallacoota with his band, told ABC reporter Elias Clure it had been “really touch and go” over the last 72 hours since fire ripped through the area.

He said they split into groups and sheltered inside a small room with their hotel owner when the firefront came really close.

“Just like, sitting, waiting it out, not knowing what is happening and relying on word of mouth, checking the bushfire app,” Mr Priest said.

“Obviously in the distance, seeing the red glow approaching and then the ember attack, it was just terrifying.”

Mr Priest said it would be nice to go back home.

“I wouldn’t mind some fresh air,” he said.

“I don’t see any other way to sort of get out of here for quite a few weeks.

“It’s pretty unknown … the fire is said to be 300 kilometres long.”

Mr Clure described the smoke haze that has descended on Mallacoota as “extraordinary”.

“You can feel it in your eyes, you can feel it in your lungs and that’s made people even more desperate to get out,” he said.

The body of 67-year-old great-grandfather and town “larrikin” Mick Roberts was identified yesterday as the first victim of East Gippsland’s bushfire tragedy.

Mr Roberts was found dead inside his fire-ravaged home in Buchan by his nephew, Jason, who delivered the sad news to family.

Premier Daniel Andrews at 1pm on Thursday confirmed the death and revealed the number of missing persons in bushfires across Victoria.

“I’m sad to have to report that there are at least 17 people that at this stage we cannot account for,” Mr Andrews said.

“Their whereabouts is unknown to us.

“It may be some of those people are safe but we hold very significant fears for the welfare of anybody who is missing at this time.”

Authorities are bracing for hazardous conditions to return on Saturday along the east coast.

It’s forecast to be very hot and windy in Mallacoota, reaching a maximum of 41C.

Follow our live coverage of the Australian bushfires on Thursday here.

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Aussie dollar rebound creates unwanted headache for RBA

“This would keep the unemployment rate at around 5.25 per cent instead of declining to 5 per cent by the end of 2021 and keep trimmed mean inflation well below the bottom of the target band throughout the forecast period,” the RBA said in reference to the findings of its Macroeconomic Relationships for Targeting Inflation model, known as ‘MARTIN’ for short.

The RBA said the main drag on the economy from a stronger currency would be the impact on international trade, making Australian exports less competitive while simultaneously lowering the cost for imports.

“As a result, export volumes fall and imports increase,” the RBA said.

Without a strengthening in the currency, the RBA is forecasting that annual Australian economic growth will lift from 1.7 per cent at present to 2.8 per cent by the end of 2020 and 3.1 per cent by 2021.

Many economists believe the Australian economy needs to grow around 2.75 per cent per annum in order to keep unemployment and inflationary pressures steady. Should the currency continue to strengthen on a sustained basis, it risks keeping economic growth at levels insufficient for the RBA to achieve its unemployment and inflation objectives.


While the TWI finished 2019 at 60.3, not far off the 60.0 level forecast by the RBA, it has been trending upwards since early August, increasing by 3.1 per cent. Against the greenback, its gain has been even larger, lifting 5.2 per cent since early October, leaving it above 70 cents for the first time since late July.

According to modelling from currency strategists at the National Australia Bank, while the Australian dollar is not overvalued against the greenback at current levels, the RBA is unlikely to welcome any further strengthening in the currency given the downside risks posed to economic growth.

“For the RBA, one thing we learned in 2019 is its antipathy to a stronger Australian dollar,” said NAB head of FX strategy Ray Attrill.

Mr Attrill said the RBA’s decision to release analysis on the Aussie dollar’s impact on domestic economic growth suggests it now regards the level of the currency as an “explicit monetary policy objective”.

While Australian interest rate markets have scaled back pricing for an additional 25 basis point rate cut from the RBA by the end of next year to around 80 per cent, coinciding with benchmark Australian 10-year government bond yields lifting to a more than five-month high of just shy of 1.4 per cent, the NAB expects the RBA will continue to ease policy settings this year in an attempt to keep the Aussie dollar under pressure.

“We see the economy’s performance in the first half of the year justifying two more rate cuts…even with a somewhat more favourable global backdrop,” Mr Attrill said.

Eighteen of 22 economists polled by Bloomberg forecast the RBA will cut Australia’s cash rate to 0.5 per cent when it meets on February 4. In contrast, interest rate markets put the probability of a rate cut next month at just over 40 per cent.

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Local News - Victoria

Victorian bushfires LIVE: Seventeen people missing in East Gippsland

Evacuations are set to begin at Mallacoota to relocate some of the thousands of people who remain trapped, while firefighters take advantage of Thursday’s milder conditions to get on top of the state’s out-of-control bushfires.

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Local News - Victoria

NSW Princes Highway likely to reopen allowing residents chance to evacuate

NSW Princes Highway likely to reopen allowing residents chance to evacuate

Residents and holiday-goers may have a short window of time to evacuate the New South Wales South Coast before conditions deteriorate on Saturday.

Police and fire authorities have been working around the clock to clear the Princes Highway north of Batemans Bay, with it likely to reopen on Wednesday evening.

Residents – and those on summer holidays – are being warned that if they don’t leave before Saturday they may be stuck there again, when fires are likely to flare back up and roads will be closed.

Work is being done to open roads south of Batemans Bay down to Bega, with alternative routes via the Hume highway also being worked on.

Authorities are asking for compliance and patience.

Image: News Corp Australia

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Australian News

David Stern, former NBA commissioner who turned the US basketball league into a global brand, dies aged 77


January 02, 2020 10:34:47

David Stern, the basketball-loving lawyer who took America’s National Basketball Association (NBA) around the world during 30 years as its longest-serving commissioner and oversaw its growth into a global powerhouse, has died aged 77.

Key points:

  • Stern transformed the NBA from a struggling domestic league into a $US5 billion a year global sporting industry
  • He took over as commissioner in 1984 before leaving the position in 2014
  • NBA superstar Magic Johnson credited Stern with taking the NBA worldwide

Stern suffered a brain haemorrhage on December 12 and underwent emergency surgery. The league said he died on Wednesday with his wife, Dianne, and their family at his bedside.

Taking over as the US professional basketball league’s fourth commissioner in 1984, Stern transformed the NBA from a domestic league that fought for a foothold in the US sports industry dominated by Major League Baseball and the National Football League into a $US5 billion ($7.13 billion) a year industry.

By the time he left his position in 2014 he had overseen NBA basketball’s rise to arguably the world’s most popular sport after soccer.

Only a few years before Stern took charge of the league, the NBA couldn’t even get its championship round on live network TV.

“Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand — making him not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time, but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation,” said Adam Silver, who followed Stern as commissioner.

“Every member of the NBA family is the beneficiary of David’s vision, generosity and inspiration.”

Superstars spark surge in popularity

During Stern’s three-decade run at the helm of the NBA he turned countless ballplayers into celebrities who were known around the globe by one name: such as Magic, Michael, Kobe and LeBron.

In the 1980s the NBA’s popularity would quickly surge thanks to the rebirth of the Los Angeles Lakers-Boston Celtics rivalry behind Earvin Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, followed by the entrance of Michael Jordan just a few months after Stern became commissioner.

Under Stern, the NBA would play nearly 150 international games and be televised in more than 200 countries and territories, and in more than 40 languages, and the NBA Finals and All-Star weekend would grow into international spectacles.

The 2010 All-Star game drew more than 108,000 fans to Dallas Cowboys Stadium, a record to watch a basketball game.

“It was David Stern being a marketing genius who turned the league around. That’s why our brand is so strong,” said Johnson, who announced he was retiring because of HIV in 1991 but returned the following year at the All-Star Game with Stern’s backing.

“It was David Stern who took this league worldwide.”

Johnson was among the NBA greats who responded to the news of Stern’s passing on social media:

Advocate and opponent for players

Stern would say one of his greatest achievements was guiding a league of mostly black players, and one plagued by drug problems in the 1970s, to popularity with mainstream America.

He had a hand in nearly every initiative, from the drug testing program to the implementation of the salary cap to the creation of a dress code.

Stern was fiercely protective of his players and referees when he felt they were unfairly criticised.

He would publicly rebuke media outlets, even individual writers, if he felt they had taken cheap shots.

But the league’s former general counsel and executive vice-president of business and legal affairs was also a relentless negotiator against those same employees in collective bargaining.

His loyalty to his owners and commitment to getting them favourable deals led to his greatest failures — lockouts in 1998 and 2011 that were the only times the NBA lost games to work stoppages.

Stern oversaw the birth of seven new franchises and the creation of the WNBA and NBA Development League, now the G League, providing countless opportunities to pursue careers playing basketball in the US that previously weren’t available.

Despite the league becoming synonymous with the high-profile athletes of the modern era, Stern credited the sport of basketball for the league’s continual success.

“The game is what brought us here. It’s always about the game and everything else we do is about making the stage or the presentation of the game even stronger, and the game itself is in the best shape that it’s ever been in,” he said on the eve of the 2009-10 season, calling it “a new golden age for the NBA.”






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