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Local News - Victoria

Teen fighting for life after Healesville car park brawl


“The details of what has occurred are not yet fully clear and that’s part of our investigation,” he said.

“There was a male who was assaulted and is currently at the Royal Melbourne Hospital receiving treatment.”

He said police were investigating whether anyone else was hurt in the brawl. They are unsure what started the fight and how those involved are connected.

“Where the victim was located was where it all occurred,” he said.

“There is CCTV of the incident, we will be reviewing that CCTV so we are urging anyone with information in relation to this offence and what’s occurred there to please come forward and tell us what you know.

“We are reviewing all CCTV and will identify all people involved.”

Leading Senior Constable Austin said this kind of violence was devastating for victims and their loved ones.

“I think we live in a very good community however sometimes these things occur and it’s up to individuals to take responsibility.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident or who recognises the man is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or file a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au



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Want to be a female race car driver? Rachelle’s started a school for that


Formula One, Supercars and even go-karting are heavily male-dominated industries from the driver’s seats to the pits.

Yet motorsport is one sport where men and women can compete alongside each other with no age or gender barriers.

Rachelle Sterling is a passionate motorsports fan, and one day at a track meet she got behind the wheel herself.

“I was hooked and pretty much haven’t stopped since,” she says.

Being one of the few females to compete regularly at track days, Rachelle says she’s still confronted with criticism.

“A lot of people still say, ‘But you’re a girl,'” she says.

“In my experience, women are quite disconnected in motorsport. Our participation is just 10 per cent across the board.

A woman stands to the side of a car and smiles.
Rachelle is a passionate motorsports fan and competes regularly at track days.(ABC News: Chloe Hart)

With a sheer love of the sport and the backing of the Australian Racing Drivers Club, Rachelle has founded Race Chix Motorsport and launched an all-female racing school at the Sydney Motorsports Park.

The program is the first of its kind in Australia and is dedicated to training women in motorsports aged 16 and over, to give them the same opportunities as men.

“As drivers competing, we don’t want our own category or our own groups,” Rachelle says.

“We want to get out there and play with the guys.

A group of women stand socially distanced at a racetrack.
Rachelle’s all-female program is dedicated to training women in motorsports, with the goal of getting them out on the race track.(Supplied: Rob Annesley Photography)

Female race car drivers are rare, but they are around.

Just six have participated in a Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend, and 2015 was the last time we saw that, with Susie Wolff driving for Williams in free practice.

When it comes to Supercars, Simona De Silvestro (89 races, 0 wins) and Renee Gracie (48 races, 0 wins) have helped pave the way for women.

They paired up to compete in the Bathurst 1000 in 2015 and 2016.

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“Simona de Silvestro is a fantastic role model. They’ve done an amazing job and are inspirational for other women,” Rachelle says.

An all-female W Series — a single-seater racing championship — was launched in 2019.

But there’s still a long way to go before female drivers are competing at the same level as men.

Rachelle hopes women can one day be represented equally in all areas of motorsports, not just in the driver’s seat.

“50-50 is the magic number for female participation as drivers across all motorsports genres, but also in other roles — engineers, mechanics, team owners, stewards — so many different aspects,” she says.

A dream fulfilled

A woman stands in front of her car and poses with her arms in the air.
Julia Avico has been putting her racing skills to the test with Race Chix.(Supplied: Rob Annesley Photography)

Julia Avico has wanted to be a race car driver her whole life.

“Growing up as a young girl, I spent all my time in Dad’s garage working on cars with him,” she says.

“All I wanted was to be the best race car driver.”

The 24-year-old acknowledges she’s probably missed out on being a world champion, but she has been thrilled to sign up to Rachelle’s all-female race school.

“Getting behind the wheel lit my enthusiasm for racing,” she says.

“Once you’re on the track it gets very addictive.

Julia believes the school will be a huge advantage for women in the future.

A woman stands in front of a class and talks.
Julia believes Rachelle’s classes will help get more women on the race track.(Supplied: Rob Annesley Photography)

“If I could have done this as a young girl I would have been all over it … it’s a shame, but I can still try,” she says.

Julia says the longstanding belief women don’t have the endurance or physicality to compete at the same elite level as the men is offensive.

“Of course we can do it,” she says.

“It’s unfortunate we’ve got to prove ourselves, but I am up for a challenge.”

Sixty-year-old Deborah Morell has been proving herself for the past 40 years in motorsports.

“I was in demolition derbies, I drag raced my Holden, I service all my cars and spent every weekend out at the track with the touring cars since I was 20,” she says.

A woman sits in the drivers seat of a car.
Deborah Morell has worked in motor racing for 40 years and is now taking part in the Race Chix program.(Supplied: Rob Annesley Photography)

Motorsports is Deborah’s life. She’s involved in officiating in pit lane, she is a marshal and she is now also a scrutineer for the V8 Supercars.

“I saw Race Chix Race School and thought I’ve got to get behind the wheel because I am always gridding the guys up, and thought I want to do this,” she says.

But it’s not all positive, Deborah has found some men who aren’t accepting of women on the circuit.

“Some [men] are, some aren’t because we’re starting to get a lot more knowledge than what the guys do,” she says.

Despite that, she’s got a clear goal for after race school.

“I want to be able to do sprint car racing and then my dream would be door to door, full-contact competition racing,” she says.



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Australian News

Woman dead, two injured in horror footpath car crash


A car has ploughed into a group of pedestrians killing a woman and injuring two others as they walked along a footpath in Wollongong on Saturday night.

Emergency services were called to Flinders Street about 10.30pm where they found a 19-year-old woman suffering multiple critical injuries, with two others also wounded.

They were treated at the scene before being taken to Wollongong Hospital, where the woman died.

An 18-year-old woman remains in hospital with a fractured pelvis and a 21-year-old man with a fractured leg and ribs. A fourth person escaped injury.

Wollongong Police District officers understand a sedan was driving south along Flinders Street when the driver allegedly lost control, ran off the road and struck the four people who were walking along the footpath.

The driver – a 21-year-old man – was arrested at the scene and taken for drug and alcohol testing.

Two passengers in the vehicle at the time were also assisting police with inquiries.

Anyone with information about the incident should phone Crime Stoppers.



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Australian News

Teens killed in stolen car crash: NSW Police


A man has been charged over a crash in Sydney’s southwest that killed two teenage boys who were his passengers in a stolen car, police allege.

Emergency services were called to an intersection in Abbotsbury just after 4.20am on Sunday after a Holden Commodore hit a pole.

Two boys, aged 15 and 17, died at the scene and a third, aged 17, remains in hospital.

A 37-year-old man was arrested at the crash site and taken to Fairfield Police Station, where officers charged him with five offences including dangerous driving occasioning death and negligent driving occasioning death.

Police will allege the car was stolen from a home at Edmondson Park.

The man, from the same suburb, has been granted bail to appear in Liverpool Local Court on November 25.



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Body found inside burning car in Smithfield, Sydney


A body has been discovered inside a car found burning in Sydney’s west as police scramble for information on Saturday morning.

The body, which is yet to be formally identified, was located after firefighters extinguished a car engulfed in flames on Brenan Street at Smithfield.

NSW Police have called for anyone who might have captured the car on dashcam footage to come forward as they investigate the circumstances surrounding the fire.

Emergency services were called to the scene about 8.20am following reports of a car well alight.

Officers from Fairfield police have established a crime scene and are appealing for anyone with information or footage from Brenan Street between 7.30am and 9am today to come forward.

Vision can be handed into any police station or uploaded anonymously to Crime Stoppers online.

Brenan Street is mostly residential with the exception of the large Brenan Park located near Smithfield RSL.

Local road closures were in place and motorists are urged to avoid the area.

A report will be prepared for the information of the coroner.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000



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Australian News

Trial for allegedly staged car crash pushed back to 2021


Former deputy mayor Salim Mehajer’s long-awaited trial for his allegedly staged car crash has been pushed back to mid next year after he decided he wanted to be tried by a jury.

Mr Mehajer was set to face a judge-alone trial on Monday alongside co-accused Rafi Noori on Monday, with both men charged over the crash in Sydney’s west on October 16, 2017.

On Wednesday his barrister Anthony Strike told the District Court his client had “changed his position … and seeks to have a jury trial”.

It means the property developer’s estimated three-week trial will not go ahead until May due to a lack of courtroom and jury availability, after previously being scheduled for June this year.

The former Auburn deputy mayor was on the way to an unrelated court matter when his black Mercedes AMG smashed into another car at the intersection of Nicholas and Delhi streets in Lidcombe, in Sydney’s west.

Television crews at the scene captured a suited Mr Mehajer, now 34, being stretchered into an ambulance with his neck in a brace.

Police alleged Mr Mehajer and several others had staged the crash to avoid appearing at the first day of an unrelated trial.

He was arrested in January 2018 at his Vaucluse home and charged with a series of offences including negligent driving, making a false representation resulting in a police investigation and making a false ambulance report and other driving offences.

The court heard on Tuesday Mr Noori’s trial would proceed on Monday after it was severed from Mr Mehajer’s.

Mr Noori is also charged with making a false representation resulting in a police investigation and making a false ambulance report, crossing a dividing line and not stopping at a traffic signal.

Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Mr Mehajer will return to court for a readiness hearing on April 16, 2021.



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Australian News

Car owner reunited with stolen 1973 Holden Torana after 28 years


A stolen 1973 pink Torana dubbed ‘Sexy Lexy’ has been reunited with its owner after 28 years.

Carol’s beloved car was stolen in 1992, but she never gave up hope of finding her wheels.

Some neat detective work unravelled the mystery, when a fellow car enthusiast from Victoria’s vehicle crime squad put the brakes on a rebirthing syndicate.

The syndicate had modified some of its stolen vehicles into high performance muscle cars, selling them off as genuine.

When an unsuspecting buyer bought a number of cars from the syndicate between 2008 and 2011, one of them was Carol’s uninsured Torana.

Exhausting detective work landed a Parkville man in his 50s a two-year wholly suspended jail term last month and an order to pay $560,000 in compensation to the unwitting buyer.

Carol, now aged 74, turned up to the court hearing every day dressed in pink in homage to her beloved ‘Sexi Lexy’.

It was a love that never waned for the car she used to rally drive.

Investigating officer, Detective Senior Constable Florence, said reuniting her with the car was satisfying after so many years.

“I don’t think a day has gone by that she hasn’t wished for a miracle that it would be found,” he said.

“As a car enthusiast myself, I am very happy to see the smile on Carol’s face as we watch her drive off in her beloved Torana.

“It also makes the long hours put into complex investigations like this, worth it.”



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Australian News

CCTV captures moment stolen car explodes in Bendigo


Stunning CCTV has captured the moment a stolen car exploded into flames in a suburban Victorian street, with police now hunting the person responsible.

The footage, captured from a security camera attached to a nearby property, shows an offender lighting a fuel line in Bendigo about 3am on October 17.

The flames then travel up the fuel line and the car explodes into flames, with a loud bang echoing around the quiet street.

The offender then runs away to a waiting vehicle further down the street.

Police said the stolen Toyota RAV 4 was set alight in Ryalls Lane in Strathfieldsaye, about 150km northwest of Melbourne.

“The CCTV footage shows an unknown offender setting fire to a trail of accelerant which leads to the vehicle,” a Victoria Police spokesman said.

“When the flames reached the vehicle it becomes engulfed and there was an explosion.”

Police said the offender ran away from the blaze to a light-coloured vehicle, believed to be a Toyota CH-R, and drove away.

Police have also released images similar to the car that was burnt and the car that was driven away from the scene.

Anyone with information has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

jack.paynter@news.com.au



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Local News - Victoria

Don’t make the CBD the World’s Most Liveable Car Park


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In Victoria’s local government elections, from the CBD to Darebin, Geelong to Warrnambool, candidates are promising COVID-recovery through free on-street car parking. This is also true of City of Melbourne election campaigns – with candidates proposing various forms of free parking to lure shoppers back to the CBD.

These proposals are in some ways a return to the Melbourne of the 1950s – the hollowed-out “doughnut city” of 6pm closing, when planners reshaped the city in attempts to attract cars through more parking – directly inspired by Los Angeles and the principle that “no matter how attractive a shop or a shopping centre may be, it will not attract the customer … unless adequate parking facilities are provided”.

While all politicians like to promise free parking – and a revitalised city – what is also at stake is public street space. With street space finite and parking taking up a surprising large proportion of it, the capacity to accommodate more cars (for workers or visitors, let alone both) is usually illusionary.

So is “free” parking – car spaces cost around $60,000 in construction and land costs alone, spread across nearly everyone but the driver. There are also indirect costs – subsidies to car use, traffic, congestion, noise and air pollution, health impacts, emissions and constraints on liveability, including children’s mobility.

In the City of Melbourne, there are 24,754 on-street spaces – space which would struggle to accommodate those 90,000 additional cars, let alone also-promised expansions of on-street retailing, green space and hospitality.

In Warrnambool, free parking was bought in to stimulate business. Shortly afterwards, the ABC reported the plan had backfired with traders and employees reportedly hogging spaces all day. Parking research sees this pattern repeatedly – public debate quickly forgets.

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The City of Melbourne does have nearly 200,000 off-street spaces – so any increased car travel would need to be targeted at commercial and off-street spaces.

These are often less popular than imagined spaces “out the front” and require motorists or employers to pay – which many Melburnians are loathe to do. State and federal governments have signalled measures to address that by reducing the congestion levy; and fringe benefits tax on employee parking.

Even with a reimagined approach to managing car parking, anticipated increases in traffic will do little to revitalise retailing or other city metrics.

Melbourne’s planners have worked for decades on reinventing the CBD: adding residents and green space and creating the pre-COVID Melbourne we knew, for better and worse. Throwing this out as knee-jerk reaction to the sense COVID makes more cars safer and inevitable seems, at the least, a bit rash.

It promises a return to the car-crazed 1950s or to the traffic-laden, hollowed-out doughnut of the 1980s: fewer residents, businesses and visitors; and more cars vying for space. There are long-term costs and it is hard to reconcile with the need, particularly of inner Melburnians, for open public green space. Look at the way Darebin residents have reclaimed the golf course. Given the chance, people value open space and parks as much as – sometimes more – than car parks.

Worldwide, Paris is removing cars from city streets in favour of pedestrian and bike space. Vienna, Melbourne’s rival for “Most Liveable City” and recently crowned the “World’s Greenest City”, is increasing pedestrian zones and safeguarding public transport. The more pressure there is to store cars, the less space there is for other envisioned ideas for Melbourne – outdoor dining, increased green space.

Melbourne should not just be asking – what might happen to transport after COVID-19? But also, is that a good thing, and what should be done about it? In 2020 all levels of government envision are chasing growth and hope to return people to a Melbourne whose blank streets resemble the “ghost town” used as the set for post-apocalyptic 1959 film On the Beach.

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Decision makers are desperate for something to work – but free parking usually backfires and more parking rarely creates liveable cities.

Outdoor dining and green space and walkable communities are not easily reconciled with cars zipping (or idling and parking) past every second. Using cities for car storage is not the inevitable result of the virus but is something to be traded off against other versions of Melbourne and its transport. Post-COVID Melbourne has a choice: liveable spaces, or World’s Most Liveable Car Park.

Dr Elizabeth Taylor is a Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design at Monash University.

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Toddler girl dies after being hit by car in driveway


A one-year-old girl has died after she was hit by a car in Blacktown on Tuesday night.

Emergency services were called to a townhouse complex on Kent Street about 7.30pm to reports a car had hit a child in the driveway.

When police arrived they found the toddler in critical condition.

She was treated at the scene before being taken to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, where she later died.

The driver of the car, a 40-year-old man, was treated at the scene for shock before being taken to Blacktown Hospital for mandatory testing.

A crime scene has been established at the residence and police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the tragic crash.

Police will prepare a report for the Coroner.

hannah.moore1@news.com.au



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