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Australian News

Can you guess the answers to some of this week’s most-googled questions? Try our quiz to find out



Restrictions, COVID-19 cases, public holidays. Australians have had plenty to google this week.

We’ve collected some of the most-asked questions from the whole country.

Reckon you’re as smart as Google and know the answers?

Test yourself with our quiz.



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Business

Fintech for the faithful as Pushpay answers investor prayers


Pushpay boss Bruce Gordon says church donations are up in the US.

Pushpay boss Bruce Gordon says church donations are up in the US.

For the financial year ending March 31 Pushpay processed $US5 billion worth of donations for the 10,500 churches that use its technology. This includes the US operations of Hillsong and the majority of the 100 largest churches in the country.

“We still have plenty of opportunity to go, and of course with the advent of COVID-19 there’s been a significant shift to digital platforms,” says Gordon.

Pushpay has found favour during the pandemic because it offers much more than a digital payment option. Its solution combines a mobile app with a backend church management system – akin to a customer relationship system and operations management – creating a platform that not only manages a church’s digital relationship with its flock but also what Gordon refers to as their “giving”.

“Sermons are recorded mid-week now and streamed throughout the course of the entire week. We have churches running services seven times on a Sunday and our largest churches some of them are reaching upwards of 300,000 attendees over the course of a week through the digital streaming through the mobile app,” says Gordon.

It gives the churches the tools to know and grow their participation creating what Gordon calls a “very sticky, loyal customer base”. Embedded into this pastoral relationship is what Gordon refers to as the “digital giving experience” that might involve volunteering services but also cash donations.

“We have essentially embedded opportunities to express your generosity and build out what we call a donor management system, which identifies where individual church participants are relative to their giving journey,” he says.

Gordon emphasises that the pastoral element remains important in this relationship. An estimated 50 per cent of Americans identify very strongly with the idea that church is central to their life, which is very different to Australia and New Zealand.

“There is a misunderstanding in Australasia that the US churches are all out generating more income,” he says. “Actually they are interested in discipleship and giving is a deeper expression of connection and community.”

Christian Hillsong worshippers at Easter mass.

Christian Hillsong worshippers at Easter mass.

The pandemic has not tested the loyalty of churches to the Pushpay solution, quite the reverse, according to Pushpay. Many church organisations have become completely reliant on the company as they were forced to close their doors.

It has also put Pushpay firmly on the radar of some of the laggards when the pandemic first hit in March.

“Suddenly in mid-March our phones rang off the hook for a number of weeks in the US as the churches said ‘by golly I’ve closed my doors I need a digital strategy, I need the ability to reach my congregation through mobile,’ so it’s been a high growth period for us,” says Gordon.

The market certainly agrees. Pushpay’s shares have more than tripled from a March low of $2.64 to a high of $9 last month, which is almost double the previous record high of $4.68 it reached in February.

After Pushpay’s May full year results announcement in May, Jarden analyst Wassim Kisirwani noted the acceleration in digital transactions over the last 6 weeks of the financial year ending March 31.

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“The implied processing volumes for the year of $US6.8 billion is a level we previously expected would take until FY22E to reach,” he said.

Gordon says the pandemic has brought out the best in parishioners and the Pushpay product has helped many of them donate more to their church.

“Our top 25 churches have experienced an average of a 15 per cent increase in giving in June versus the previous June, it’s huge.”

“People are more generous in a crisis,” he says.

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Local News - Victoria

Al-Taqwa College parents receive few answers about how school became the biggest COVID-19 cluster


Victorian health authorities believe the virus was brought into the school by a teacher who had an extended family gathering attended by a COVID-19-positive person. The teacher was at school for two days while infected.

But that is all the school community and the wider public have been told. Communication about the outbreak from the college’s administration and Victorian health authorities has been slow and, in some cases, ambiguous.

“The school doesn’t tell the parents information and that’s not right. The public need to know how it has happened. I pay a lot of money to Al-Taqwa and it is not good enough,” one parent told The Age.

Some teachers say they have been instructed not to talk to anyone about the virus outbreak. And it took more than a week for Al-Taqwa principal Omar Hallak to comment. He eventually put out a statement defending the school’s hygiene and distancing procedures, adding the school had spent $100,000 during the holidays on cleaning.

He has not responded to further questions from The Age this week.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services wrote to Al-Taqwa staff to assure them it was working “to contain” the spread of the virus. That the letter came just two days before the vast majority of the Islamic school’s 2300 staff and students came out of 14-day quarantine left some recipients puzzled.

Staff were also perplexed by the department’s position on return-to-school procedures. In the letter, it recommended staff and students bring with them to school proof they had recovered from the virus or had tested negative. Many believe this should be a mandatory requirement.

Al-Taqwa College principal Omar Hallak.

Al-Taqwa College principal Omar Hallak.

One possible explanation for the rapid transmission of COVID-19 throughout the school is the sheer number of students and staff who attend. Ensuring so many children and adolescents adhered to social distancing would be almost impossible.

“I personally saw there were [sic] no social distancing was practised when picking up kids. There are notice boards in place opposite the main office area saying parents are not allowed for the area where the palm tree is but each day the parents were freely allowed to walk, sit and wait and nobody was there to stop or question any parents,” Razeen Musthafa wrote on the college’s Facebook page.

“What is the point of having notice boards and sending messages in school box about all these great things you guys do when nothing was practised in real [sic]. When these basic things were ignored how can we feel confident about things inside?”

Another parent told The Age she knew some families at the school had been gathering on weekends in numbers far greater than the five allowed inside a home and 10 outdoors following new restrictions announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on June 20.

Several parents also complained about the state of the toilets at the school, claiming their children refused to use them because they were dirty and lacked soap. In response, the school administration acknowledged the toilets needed attention.

The Al-Taqwa outbreak took another twist on Thursday when Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, confirmed an “epidemiological link” to infections in public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne.

“The communities do cross over between Truganina and these towers,” Professor Sutton said on Thursday.

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Some children from the tower precincts are bussed each day to Al-Taqwa. Despite revealing the link, Professor Sutton cautioned that there were likely many causes for the outbreaks in the towers.

On the school’s Facebook page, many parents are urging its leadership to keep the school closed until the virus spread is under control. Others, though, are philosophical.

“Let’s not forget what our religion teaches us. What Allah has planned for us no one can stop it.”

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Local News - Victoria

Future of Abbotsford Centrelink uncertain as union calls for answers


Since then, according to the Community and Public Sector Union, Services Australia has not engaged with either the people who work in the office – which also includes a Medicare service centre – or members of the public who rely on it.

Alistair Waters, the union’s national president, said in a letter to Services Australia that the agency had no intention of negotiating a long-term lease and was “focus[ed] on shuttering” the office.

“It has sought a month-by-month arrangement so it could control the timing of the closure and limit input from staff and the community,” he said.

“We are concerned that Services Australia is not telling the public or staff what its real objectives are or what it is really doing.”

The union claims the agency contravened a workplace agreement by not consulting its employees and launched a formal dispute under the Fair Work Act which could lead to arbitration at the Fair Work Commission. The union has demanded an urgent meeting to resolve the matter.

Hank Jongen, Services Australia’s general manager, said the public would be informed of potential services changes and insisted there were no proposed changes to staffing.

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“As commercial negotiations about property leases are confidential, no further comment will be made until negotiations are concluded,” he said.

Mr Waters said there is insufficient space at the South Melbourne site to house the functions of the Abbotsford office and claimed Services Australia is planning to split the office’s functions to both South Melbourne and Flemington.

“There is no direct public transport to the Flemington Service Centre [and] travel would involve multiple changes and take well over an hour each way,” Mr Waters said.



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Australian News

Cricket Australia wants answers over how almost $8m in bushfire donations to the Red Cross is being spent


Cricket Australia has sought a briefing about how millions of dollars in donations it poured into bushfire relief and recovery efforts have been spent by the Red Cross.

Red Cross Australia received $216 million in donations from individuals, businesses and organisations, including almost $8 million raised by Cricket Australia.

Cricket Australia put together several matches and initiatives over the summer to raise funds for the bushfire recovery effort.

The centrepiece of those efforts was the Bushfire Bash charity appeal, which encouraged international fans to pledge to donate for every wicket taken and boundary scored across four matches.

The cricketing body has been thrown into turmoil after the resignation of chief executive Kevin Roberts yesterday.

But at the start of this month, when he was still CEO, Mr Roberts penned a letter to National Bushfire Recovery Agency coordinator Andrew Colvin.

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The correspondence, obtained by the ABC, raised concerns that some communities still had residents who were struggling after their homes were damaged or destroyed.

“Recent media reporting has brought attention to the issues still confronting fire-affected regions, particularly regarding the disbursement of charity funds and the lack of temporary accommodation available to impacted residents,” Mr Roberts wrote.

Sachin Tendulkar, wearing a yellow kit smiles as he runs between wickets, Ellyse Perry has her back to him.
Cricket Australia recruited some of the sport’s greats, including Sachin Tendulkar, for the Bushfire Bash.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

“Notwithstanding the complexities involved in the recovery effort and acknowledging the support that has already been delivered to many regions, it is concerning that victims of the summer’s bushfires are still said to be without adequate accommodation.

“As an organisation that raised considerable funds for charities supporting bushfire-impacted communities, Cricket Australia has a vested interest in the ongoing rebuild and recovery effort.

“We would welcome an update on the recovery, particularly as it pertains to the disbursement of charitable funds and temporary accommodation in fire-affected regions.”

In the letter, Mr Roberts said he had been contacted by the owner of a pub in one of the worst-affected communities, Cobargo.

He said publican David Allen provided him with a first-hand account of the issues facing residents.

Mr Allen last week told the ABC his community was still struggling with accommodation problems.

“They really need the help of good, decent, dignified, temporary accommodation,” he said.

“It just bewilders me that we can’t do better with this charity money.”

Meeting with Cricket Australia set for next week

Mr Colvin said a meeting had been arranged with Cricket Australia for next week.

“We welcome the engagement with Cricket Australia,” he told the ABC.

“I think Cricket Australia are reflecting concerns the community have about the recovery and the accommodation and disbursement of funds.”

Mr Colvin said charities had been responsive to the unprecedented bushfires and met with his agency every couple of weeks to share information and work out how to better target relief.

“It is complex, and the charities have to balance what they do now with what is a longer-term recovery need,” he said.

“We have to have an eye to the long-term recovery needs of these communities.”

Red Cross welcomes Cricket Australia questions

A Red Cross spokeswoman said the charity organisation enjoyed a “positive, open relationship with Cricket Australia”.

“We regularly engage with Cricket Australia and share updates on our work supporting bushfire-impacted communities and their recovery. Support from our partners, like Cricket Australia, enables our work with communities.”

So far Red Cross has spent $115 million of the $216 million in funds raised, including grants to 4,254 people.

“We share concerns about people in bushfire-impacted communities in temporary accommodation,” the spokeswoman said.

Mr Colvin said the challenge of finding people suitable accommodation also rested with state and local governments.

The Red Cross has recently extended grants to help people trying to find or build new homes, with an additional $30,000 available to home owners, on top of $20,000 provided in emergency payments.

“We will continue to work with governments and others to identify gaps in support so we can together ensure people’s needs are being met,” the Red Cross spokeswoman said.

The Red Cross and the National Bushfire Recovery Agency have urged anyone who still needs support to request help.



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Australian News

Dr Shane Oliver, AMP Capital’s Chief Economist and Head of Investment Strategy and Economics, answers your questions


A leading Australian economist has revealed that the recession might already be over.

Answering readers’ questions in News Corp Australia Network’s Ask The Expert Q&A, Dr Shane Oliver said he believed the low point of the recession came in April.

However, he said this would not be confirmed until the September quarter GDP data comes out in early December

Dr Oliver, AMP Capital’s Chief Economist and Head of Investment Strategy and Economics, was answering a reader’s question about how long he thought the recession would last and what would happen to property prices.

“I think the recession is already over with the low point being the most intense period of the COVID shutdown in April,” Dr Oliver replied.

“Since then we a have seen an easing in the lockdown and the economy has started to recover – evident in more people in shops, cafes, going away on the long weekend, etc. But because the focus is on quarterly GDP data, June quarter GDP will still be down on the March quarter very sharply and the recovery won’t become evident till the September quarter GDP data. “That said many Australian’s won’t fell a full recovery for a while yet because the unemployment rate will take several years to fall back to the 5 per cent level we saw earlier this year. In fact with the end of JobKeeper and enhanced JobSeeker in September it may get worse in October before it gets better. But at least with the economy starting to grow again unemployment should be falling later this year.”

It has been almost 30 years since Australia’s last recession, so there would be plenty of Australians out there who have been wondering what to expect since Federal Treasurer confirmed earlier this month that the nation was now in the midst of a recession.

However this is not tipped to be a ‘typical’ recession, with Australia expected to rally faster than it did in the 1991 recession.

Writing in AMP Capital’s Insights Hub a week ago, Dr Oliver said while going into a recession was ‘bad news’ there were some things worth noting that ‘might make it easier to bear’.

“Australia has been battling through a calamitous start to 2020 so far. We kicked off the year with devastating bushfires, which were already detracting from growth in the first quarter. February saw the beginning of COVID-19 disruptions to the local economy, starting with travel bans and moving to a lockdown from mid March which meant some sectors – like retail, tourism and hospitality – had to grind to a halt,” he wrote.

“This accounts for negative growth in the March quarter, and the worst is yet to come in the June quarter results, meaning Australia is likely in its first recession since 1991, when Bob Hawke was prime minister and Paul Keating was treasurer. Many Australians weren’t even born then, and for those who were, it’s been nearly 29 years of growth since.”

Dr Oliver said this was not an average recession, which was typically preceded by a boom. As inflation rises, the central bank tries to control it with higher interest rates, and this results in a bust.

“The situation preceding this recession was almost the opposite – growth was low, interest rates were at record lows,” Dr Oliver wrote.

“Because most of the economic damage has been caused by a disruption in the form of the coronavirus shutdown, and we haven’t had the classic build up of excesses you’d normally see before a recession, we should be able to restart the economy a bit faster than we did in 1991.”

Here is some of what else Dr Oliver had to say in the Q&A:

Q. How long do you think the recession will last and what will happen to property prices?

A. I think the recession is already over with the low point being the most intense period of the COVID shutdown in April. Since then we a have seen an easing in the lockdown and the economy has started to recover – evident in more people in shops, cafes, going away on the long weekend, etc. But because the focus is on quarterly GDP data, June quarter GDP will still be down on the March quarter very sharply and the recovery won’t become evident till the September quarter GDP data. That said many Australian’s won’t fell a full recovery for a while yet because the unemployment rate will take several years to fall back to the 5 per cent level we saw earlier this year. In fact with the end of JobKeeper and enhanced JobSeeker in September it may get worse in October before it gets better. But at least with the economy starting to grow again unemployment should be falling later this year. Property prices lag the economy a bit and we see them having five to 10 per cent downside ahead for Australian capital cities, and around 10 per cent downside in Sydney reflecting the ending of JobKeeper and the bank payment holiday later this year and the collapse in immigration.

Q. My grandkids have been asking a lot of questions about the recession. They don’t remember the GFC either (they were only toddlers). How do I explain it to them so they understand but don’t get scared?

A. Since the last recession ended nearly 29 years ago there are many of Australians who have not seen one. Basically a recession is a period where the economy goes backwards – there are less jobs, less spending in the shops, more shop closures, less home building, less cars on the road, people having cheaper holidays. Most people keep their jobs but they feel uncertain because they usually know someone who has lost their job or had their hours cut back. This recession is a bit different in that it was not caused by a boom that went too far and had to be snuffed out by higher interest rates. Rather it was caused by the need to shutdown much of the economy to stop the spread of spread of COVID. And the government moved quickly to help protect businesses, jobs and incomes through the shutdown whereas normally in recessions governments are slower to respond. So with the shutdown now easing and people starting to spend again the worst of the recession is likely now behind us. I reckon April was the low point and so we should see a gradual recovery going forward. The other thing to note about recession is that they are usually brief, we do recover and they through up opportunities for savvy investors who can see bargains – cheap shares, cheap business and eventually cheaper housing.

Q. What do you see happening to interest rates? I have been looking to buy my first home. I have a stable job but wondered whether a recession means interest rates are going to rise?

A. Interest rates are going to stay low for a long time. The RBA does not want to cut its official cash rate (which anchors most bank mortgage rates in Australia) because it sees no value in taking rates negative and nor do I (negative rates didn’t work in Japan or Europe). In the meantime the COVID shutdown driven recession means it can’t raise rates and with unemployment likely to take a long time to come back down again (meaning ongoing low inflation and wages growth) probably won’t be able to raise rates for at least the next three years. So that will mean at least three years with the official cash rate stuck at 0.25 per cent and hence very low mortgage rates for some time to come. It will be a good time to use the saving on rates to pay down debt faster than otherwise if you buy that first home.

Q. We were thinking of selling our house this spring. Should we wait, put it on the market now or just abandon the plan altogether. Do you think it is currently a buyers’ or sellers’ market?

A. I think it’s more of a buyers’ market. Listings are now picking up again and may rise further after JobKeeper and the bank payment holiday end at the end of September. At the same time immigration is basically stopped which has slashed underlying demand for housing by around 80,000 dwelling across Australia. This points to more downwards pressure on house prices into next year and we expect falls of around five to 10 per cent for capital cities with Sydney around -10 per cent. So things may be a bit weaker later this year.

Q. What do you see happening on the stock market over the next few months. Is it a good time to invest (I have just been made redundant and got a payout and am considering what to do with the money)? What sort of shares are better than others at the moment?

A. Australian shares fell 36.5 per cent to their March low. But after a 35 per cent rally from its 23 March low to its high on Tuesday, the Australian share market was a bit extended and due for a pause or correction. So too with global markets (the US had rallied 44 per cent). This correction may now be underway with worries about a second wave of COVID cases in some US states. However, assuming coronavirus does not get out of control again (and I think we have done a very good job of controlling it in Australia) then this is likely to be just a correction and the rising trend will resume sometime in the months ahead as the economy continues to recover and interest rates remain low. Right now the market is still down 18 per cent or so from its all time high and generally speaking recessions are a good time to invest in shares and other assets that then benefit from the eventual recovery. Of course there are no guarantees as to what the share market will and timing this is always hard though so averaging in over several months makes some sense. I can only make general comments though – the best approach may be to seek out a financial planner for specific advice as to your best approach.

Q. How long do you think the recession will last and what will happen to property prices?

A. I think the recession is already over with the low point being the most intense period of the COVID shutdown in April. Since then we a have seen an easing in the lockdown and the economy has started to recover – evident in more people in shops, cafes, going away on the long weekend, etc. But because the focus is on quarterly GDP data, June quarter GDP will still be down on the March quarter very sharply and the recovery won’t become evident till the September quarter GDP data. That said many Australian’s won’t fell a full recovery for a while yet because the unemployment rate will take several years to fall back to the five per cent level we saw earlier this year. In fact with the end of JobKeeper and enhanced JobSeeker in September it may get worse in October before it gets better. But at least with the economy starting to grow again unemployment should be falling later this year. Property prices lag the economy a bit and we see them having five to 10 per cent downside ahead for Australian capital cities, and around 10 per cent downside in Sydney reflecting the ending of JobKeeper and the bank payment holiday later this year and the collapse in immigration.

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Australian News

Will you eliminate the wrong answers on this week's quiz like NZ eliminated coronavirus?



How well have you been listening to what the world has to say at the moment? Find out with our weekly news quiz.



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Local News - Victoria

Danny Richards’ family seek answers to custody death


Minutes later Mr Richards was unconscious, his mouth covered in the foam of capsicum spray.

According to the witness statement of family friend Vincent Smethurst, one of the officers let go of Mr Richards only when he “saw he was blue”.

Paramedics were unable to revive Mr Richards and a pathologist gave his cause of death as underlying cardiovascular disease complicated by restraint.

With the death in the US of African-American George Floyd – who repeatedly stated he couldn’t breathe while a white police officer had a knee on his neck – putting a global spotlight on racial inequality, the case of Mr Richards touches upon another vulnerable group.

Mr Richards’ family hope the investigation by Coroner John Cain will lead to improvements in the way police are trained to relate to people with mental health issues.

The 48-year-old Mr Richards was never violent, according to his family. But the former St Kevin’s College student and footballer had reportedly become more withdrawn and was in an increasing state of paranoia and anxiety.

His younger brother, Robert, said Mr Richards was fearful of breaking any laws and would drive under the speed limit to avoid interaction with police.

‘Both police officers still had armlocks on him, so Danny’s arms were raised up and they were pushing him down. At that point Danny called out, “I can’t breathe.” ‘

Vincent Smethurst, family friend

He carried law books in his backpack and used their contents to underpin his avid letter writing about perceived injustices. He would padlock his petrol cap for fear of being tracked.

Mr Richards’ mother, Eileen Richards, asked for a mental health assessment at the urging of Mr Smethurst, who had been spending a lot of time with Mr Richards.

After the two-person CAT team arrived at Mr Richards’ mother’s house on the evening of June 24 the senior member called Glen Waverley police station to say he needed officers there so he could lawfully enter the property.

According to Mr Smethurst, Mr Richards was reluctant to go to a nearby mental health facility. Soon three male officers and one female arrived and confronted Mr Richards in his mother’s kitchen.

The Age has heard some of a triple zero call Mr Richards made asking for police help in relation to the presence of four armed officers in his mother’s kitchen. It was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by his brother Robert.

Mr Richards sounds scared but not aggressive. He can be heard complying with a request to hand over his backpack.

“It’s kind of bitterly ironic that Danny called police to request help,” his brother said.

By this stage, Mr Richards’ mother had been ushered outside. But Mr Smethurst went back into the kitchen.

“Danny was facing the kitchen bench and had both of his arms locked straight on a 45-degree angle above his head behind him,” his statement recounts.

Coroner John Cain.

Coroner John Cain.Credit:Louie Douvis

“There was one male officer almost on his knees who had Danny in a headlock and he was on Danny’s left side.

“Danny then bent over towards the kitchen bench and was slipping out of the headlock. I remember looking at the officer with glasses and he was just laying in kicks to the back of Danny’s leg … I do remember calling out to Danny, ‘Don’t fight it,’ not that he was fighting.

“I remember he slipped out of the headlock and they started to swing him around towards the open area of the floor. Both police officers still had armlocks on him, so Danny’s arms were raised up and they were pushing him down. At that point Danny called out, ‘I can’t breathe’.”

Mr Smethurst then said he was told to get out. Mrs Richards said she heard “three terrible thumps”.

“I had this most dreadful sixth sense about it all but I couldn’t do anything about it,” she said.

Moments later, paramedics were also inside the house and more police units arrived. Mr Richards was unconscious and efforts were under way to revive him. His face was covered by a foam that was later confirmed as capsicum spray. The first ambulance to arrive did not carry a defibrillator.

Mr Smethurst said he overheard a paramedic asking police how the situation became so serious and that one officer replied: “I let go when I looked and saw that he was blue.”

Mr Richards could not be revived and the next police to arrive were from the homicide squad, led by veteran detective Sol Solomon.

A spokeswoman for the State Coroner said Mr Richards’ death would be subject to an extensive inquest because it was a death in custody. Victoria Police declined to comment, citing the coronial inquiry.

The attending officers reported to the pathologist that Mr Richards had violently resisted their attempts to restrain him and that the use of physical and chemical restraint was required.

His family and Mr Smethurst dispute this. The family’s lawyer, Jeremy King from law firm Robinson Gill, said Mr Richards’ case should also be examined by the royal commission into mental health.

Neither Mrs Richards nor her son wanted to draw any attention to Mr Richards’ death until the George Floyd footage emerged.

“Danny was from another vulnerable part of our community and we just felt that maybe by speaking out now some good may come from a terrible situation,” Robert Richards said.

“We must uncover the truth of what happened while my brother was in police custody.”

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.

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Veterinary specialist in animal behaviour, Dr Kersti Seksel, answers your questions


The benefits of having a pet are not new to many Australians, but the COVID lockdown has seen the ranks of pet owners swell around the country.

Many people have welcomed new pets – particularly cats and dogs – into their homes during the past few months.

Having extra time at home has allowed people to spend more time training their pet and settling them in.

But as COVID lockdown restrictions ease, many of these pets will find themselves spending more time at home alone, as their families head back to school and work.

Dr Kersti Seksel is an internationally recognised veterinary specialist in animal behaviour at the Sydney Animal Behaviour Service, and Adjunct Associated Professor at Charles Sturt University.

She said pet owners should prepare their animals for the changes ahead. But it wasn’t just new pet owners who needed to be aware of the risk for separation anxiety.

Pets with previous issues with separation anxiety might experience symptoms again after spending so much time with their owners at home.

“We know that one in five dogs has some sort of anxiety disorder and that is just a genetic predisposition,” she said.

“And there’s no doubt that owners being anxious (especially about COVID) is going to make their dogs anxious.”

Dr Seksel said her Sydney clinic had been kept busy during the lockdown, and had also seen a spike in the number of cats with urinary tract infections – often a sign of stress or anxiety.

She said adjusting to the post-COVID world would be an adjustment for every human and their pets.

“It is a great unknown, who knows what the new normal is for us, let alone our pets,” she said.

Dr Seksel will be online at 11am tomorrow (AEST) to answer your questions in an hour-long Q&A.

You can ask your questions in advance in the comments below or during the session.

Due to the number of questions, Dr Seksel may not be able to answer everyone.



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Master Builders Australia chief executive officer, Denita Wawn, answers your questions


Master Builders Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of the HomeBuilder scheme today, saying it will be a massive relief to thousands of home builders and tradies around the country.

CEO Denita Wawn said the scheme was well targeted and should maximise the number of builders, tradies, workers, apprentices and households that will benefit,

“HomeBuilder will be a lifeline for an industry facing a valley of death in the coming months. It will mean more new homes, more small businesses and jobs are protected and provide a stronger bridge to economic recovery for our country,” she said.

“Based on the government’s estimated 27,000 grants, we think the scheme will be used for $10 billion in building activity, supporting the viability of 368,000 small builders and tradies – the businesses which employ 800,000 people in communities around Australia.

“Supporting the home building industry is essential to strengthening the economy and helping Australia recover from the impacts of the pandemic.”

Ms Wawn said residential building activity gave back more than double to the communities that sustain it with every $1 invested in home building activity providing $3 to the wider economy.

“This means that HomeBuilder will provide a boost for thousands of tradies; the cafes, pubs, and ute dealerships that they frequent; as well as the thousands of building supply businesses that depend on the industry,” she said.

“The scheme is well targeted and should maximise the number of builders, tradies, workers, apprentices and households that will benefit.”

The eligibility criteria meant that the vast majority of Australians would be able to access the scheme, given the fact that more than 80 per cent of households had income of $200,000 or less, Ms Wawn said.

“The scheme is structured to get building activity going immediately and to provide safeguards around quality and consumer protection,” she said.

“Making HomeBuilder grants accessible through state and territory channels should streamline its rollout and building work must be carried out by a registered or licensed builder.”

Ms Wawn will be online at noon today (AEST) to answer your questions in an hour-long Q&A.

You can ask your questions in advance in the comments below or during the session.

Due to the number of questions, Ms Wawn may not be able to answer everyone.



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