Australian News

Seniors could be asked to sell family home under death tax

Baby Boomers could be asked to sell the family home when they die to pay for aged care costs under a new plan to slap an effective death tax on seniors to fund care.

Former Treasurer Peter Costello has urged the Morrison Government to consider an expanded pensioner loans scheme during his appearance today at the Royal Commission into Aged Care.

Under the proposal, seniors would be given the option of taking out a loan secured against the family home, that would then be sold when they died or other assets liquidated.

While some banks already offer reverse home loans, Mr Costello has called for debate on expanding a pensions loans scheme to use the family home as an asset that could be sold when a retiree dies to recover costs.

“I mean, financial products that can allow people to raise accommodation bonds against the family home, which is generally their greatest asset, I think there’s a much more scope for them and I think the Government could assist there,” Mr Costello said.

“The Government has a thing called the Pension Loan Scheme which it says is available. The private sector has what is called a reversible mortgage or equity drawdown mortgages.

“But I do think, you know, this is a classic area where those people that do use residential care and do have assets should be asked to make a contribution and guaranteed a return of their deaths.”

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But Mr Costello stressed that informed consent was the key to the proposal so that family members understood the cost would ultimately come out of the estate.

“Even today, if you’re asked to put up an accommodation bond, you can raise that bond with your own house as security,” he said.

“I mean, the point I’d make is that I think people should do it knowingly and in advance and there should be products that allow them to do that during their lifetime. If you come around and try to take their assets after they’ve died, I think you can expect to run into a lot of opposition there.”

Mr Costello urged debate on the option as an extension of reforms he introduced during the Howard Government.

“I felt you were never going to be able to run residential aged care with the ageing of the population off the taxpayer alone and you had to get private money and we introduced what we then called accommodation bonds,” Mr Costello said.

But Australia’s longest serving Treasurer also raised the alarm that the red tape and forms to enter aged care were so complex that even he struggled with them.

“Now, the members of my family I have attempted to fill in these income and assets tests. You all ought to do them,” he said.

“I’m reasonably financially literate. I had a lot of trouble filling it in. I don’t know how a person going into a nursing home would ever be able to fill it in.

“We’re talking about people who might be 80 or 90 years of age. How do they do this? My suspicion is that a lot of them just don’t.”

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Former Treasury secretary Ken Henry told the inquiry he still believed that a compulsory tax levy to fund aged care was necessary.

But he echoed Mr Costello’s concern about the complexity of the system.

“My principal source of discomfort is that the system overall is horribly complex and it contains a very high level of uncertainty for people,” Dr Henry said.

“People who are elderly, people who are vulnerable, people who are suffering emotional and psychological stress, many, of course, unfortunately are mentally impaired to some extent, too many have little or inadequate family support and they confront the aged care system knowing nothing about it, knowing that they have no real option but to throw themselves into the system because it’s quite simply impossible for them to continue to look after themselves.

“And they’re bewildered. This system is unsustainable. It’s underfunded, it’s under resourced and it will not be tolerated. In particular, it will not be tolerated by the Baby Boomers themselves when they find themselves in this system.”

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Australian News

Lisa Curry’s fury over fake fundraiser after daughter’s death

Former Olympian Lisa Curry has issued a warning to friends not to donate to a fake fundraising account collecting money for her daughter Jaimi Kenny, who died on Monday.

The fundraiser was made in her husband Mark Tabone’s name and shared in the comments of his tribute post to Jaimi, 33, by a fake Facebook profile.

“Some people,” Ms Curry wrote. “Someone has started a go fund me page on Mark Andrew Tabone’s FB page … this is not us.

“It’s also sending friend requests.”

In capital letters, she warned friends and family: “Please do not open anything from this fake account.”

Jaimi’s death was announced in a joint statement from her father Grant Kenny and mother Lisa Curry on Monday night, which revealed she had “lost her battle with a long-term illness and passed away peacefully in hospital this morning in the company of loving family.”

Ms Kenny had been battling an eating disorder for years and had been receiving care from private clinic End ED on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in the months before her death, The Courier-Mail reported.

Ms Curry described her loss as “so painful … I can barely breathe” on Tuesday morning, sharing her devastation with friends and fans on social media.

“Rest in peace my beautiful baby. I will miss you every sunrise, I will miss you when the sun is shining and the birds are singing,” she wrote.

“I will miss you when the clouds are dark and stormy and when the rainbow appears. I will miss you when I close my eyes. I will miss you when I open my eyes. I will miss our long hugs and long chats. I will miss watching, feeling and knowing your love for your sister and brother, your little nephew, Cleo, your Ma and dad.

“I just can’t believe you’re not here anymore. I sit and just shake my head. It doesn’t seem real or right. You will forever be with me in my heart Jaimi. I love you so much.”

The fake fundraising account uses a tribute from Mr Tabone, a professional Elvis impersonator who married Ms Curry in 2018.

“As the tears flow and the heart aches, I write this as a tribute to beautiful young lady, who’s life ended way too soon. As your mother & father weep your loss, I too feel lost and heavy hearted,” he wrote.

“You always put everybody else first. You were gifted with many talents, amazing cook, arts and crafts, writing, and your love and creativity with flowers.

“Thankyou all for your condolences at this very difficult time for Lisa, Grant & all the Kenny / Curry family.

“My job now is to nurture my wife through this unimaginable time.”

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Australian News

Tributes pour for Nick Slater after Gold Coast death

Tributes are pouring in for Gold Coast real estate agent Nick Slater, who friends say died “doing what he loved” when he was mauled by a shark while surfing.

The 46-year-old was bitten by an animal shortly after 5pm on Tuesday off Greenmount Beach, protected by eight drum lines and a shark net.

Despite efforts of other surfers, lifeguards and paramedics, he was pronounced dead on the beach.

RELATED: Nets checked ‘hours before’ shark attack

A friend of Mr Slater’s, Jasmine Robson, took to Facebook to express her anguish, saying “It is so hard 2 (sic) comprehend that out of all the blokes in the line-up yesterday, that Shark picked the best 1.”

“You have been a great friend … & we will miss you terribly,” she wrote.

“I’ll never 4get (sic) the look on Dave’s face as we found your car last night alone in the car park, confirmation of our worst nightmare.

“Everything just left how you have left it 100 times before, expecting to be back in an hour after catching a few waves.

“As tragic as this all is, we know you died doing something you loved, surfing ‘Beaver Creek’. We hope it was quick and painless buddy. Forever in our hearts. XOXO”.

In a comment, she described the situation as “Our worst nightmare as Surfers wives.”

Another friend, Ronnie Smith, posted a photo of Mr Slater, writing: “To my dearest soul mate … RIP … love u mate … watch over me if u can …”

Parkhurst band The Fools shared a series of pictures of Mr Slater with the band, writing “Ride on mate.”

“It is with such regret to advise that our mate Nick was tragically taken from us in a shark attack yesterday,” the band wrote on Facebook.

“Nick was a great friend to the band, an integral part of the Parkhurst crew, a Trono boy.

“To all that surfed, worked, lived and partied with Nick over the years, please take some time today to reflect on this life and the great times we shared with him.”

Steve Del Rosso, the owner-operator of Clearwater Surf, shared pictures of Mr Slater with a new longboard.

“RIP Nick my thoughts are with your family and friends. Such sad news. Nick was a great guy and a customer who picked up a new log only last week,” he wrote.

The MBA Partnership Pty Ltd shared their sadness, writing: “With an office full of surfers, the devastating news of #NickSlater’s death really hits the heartstrings.”

“For what it’s worth, we’d like to send our condolences to all Nick’s friends and family and to all the surfers who were in the water at the time.

“We’re truly saddened by this.”

Gold Coast beaches between Burleigh and the NSW border remain closed on Thursday, but that didn’t stop some surfers from getting back out on the waves.

Mayor Tom Tate said on Thursday morning that surfers knew the risk that comes with the ocean.

“When we go into the water … it’s a shark’s domain,” he said.

“The danger is there … When you analyse the lifestyle activity versus the danger … that’s what life’s about.

“I wouldn’t change my lifestyle.

“We don’t want people to feel coming to our surfers beach is dangerous … The phobia of a shark attack in the water is real, boosted by Hollywood.

“But in reality, there is more fatality in other things in life than a shark attack.

“I articulate there is no more danger on our 70km stretch of beach than anywhere else.”

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Australian News

Jessica Lindsay Muay Thai death prompts WA coroner’s warning over culture of combat sport

Western Australia’s coroner has recommended the state’s Combat Sports Commission be given more powers to regulate training after the death of an 18-year-old woman as she prepared for a Muay Thai fight.

Jessica Lindsay died in hospital in November 2017, four days after she collapsed while training outside a Forrestdale gym.

The inquest was told she had undertaken an extreme “weight cutting” program before she was due to weigh in for an amateur fight.

Coroner Sarah Linton said that included not drinking any water on the day, sitting in a sauna and hot car and running in a “sweat suit”, even though the temperature outside was about 30 degrees Celsius.

She said Ms Lindsay’s death was “tragic” and highlighted the need for cultural change in the sport.

Two girls in turquoise and grey jumpers hug as they pose for a photo.
Ms Lindsay (right), pictured with her sister Grace, died four days after she collapsed during training.(Facebook: Jessica Lindsay Legacy)

“It is clear that Jess believed she was in control of the situation and did not appreciate she was in mortal danger, right up until the moment she collapsed and died,” Ms Linton said.

“She adhered to the general belief in the sport that it is disrespectful to an opponent to fail to make weight.

Ms Linton said the focus should be on “creating a culture that encourages fighters to safely manage their training and weight loss”.

‘No longer acceptable to turn a blind eye’

While the Commission implemented some changes after Ms Lindsay’s death, Ms Linton said she hoped the inquest provided an opportunity for the sport to reflect on “the need for change”.

She said the dangers of weight cutting were well-known “but generally disregarded in the sport as the practice is so common”.

“It is no longer acceptable for people to turn a blind eye to these practices,” she said.

A woman wearing kickboxing gear stands in a ring with other people flashing a thumb's up.
The coroner said the death of Ms Lindsay (second from right) was “tragic” and change was needed.(Supplied: Hitman Photography)

Among her recommendations were for the Commission to take a greater role in regulating training outside of competition, and for competitors to provide their weight at least seven days before any contest, before they are allowed to compete.

She said these changes were necessary until the sport’s culture was changed.

“The bringing about of cultural change requires a concerted effort by all those involved, from a grassroots participant level all the way up to the governing bodies,” she said.

“However, until cultural change is effected, there needs to be an effort made to detect people who engage in dangerous practices at an early stage.”

Commission in process of change

Ms Linton said the Commission’s role prior to Ms Lindsay’s death was “focused on ensuring the contestant came under the set weight for the fight”, without any attention on how they made that weight.

Two girls pose with their mother at a beach for a family photo shoot.
Ms Lindsay (right), pictured with mother Sharron and sister Grace, had not drunk any water on the day she collapsed.(Facebook: Jessica Lindsay Legacy)

She acknowledged the Commission was in the process of implementing a strategy to discourage the practice of weight cutting by dehydration within the sport, but said legislative change was also needed.

The changes currently being introduced include allowing each participant only one chance to weigh in — to “avoid encouraging contestants to lose more weight in a short period” — and prohibiting the use of sweat suits, saunas and other devices that can dehydrate contestants.

But during the inquest, the Commission’s chair Bob Kucera admitted the governing body could not enforce the policy as it did not have any inspectors.

Ms Linton recommended Sport and Recreation Minister Mick Murray consider amending the law to extend the Commission’s powers to regulating the training of combat sport contestants.

She also urged the State Government to provide funding for the additional resources needed to carry out those powers.

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Australian News

Danny Frawley was suffering from concussion-linked brain condition at time of death, his wife reveals

St Kilda great Danny Frawley was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurological disorder, at the time of his sudden death.

Frawley’s wife Anita said an analysis of the former Richmond coach’s brain showed signs of Stage II CTE.

The former Saints captain died in a car crash in September last year, the day after his 56th birthday.

Anita said the Victorian coroner was yet to release the official report, but she wanted to speak out about it immediately to help others.

“This is an issue for the community, it is not about a particular sport or sports, we need more research to diagnose and assist people living with the disease,” she told the Herald Sun.

“As his wife for over 30 years, I strongly suspected there was more going on with Danny than straightforward depression.

“I am very grateful for the work of the Australian Sports Brain Bank in shining a light on this disease.”

Danny Frawley smiles at the camera in a restaurant.
Frawley spoke publicly about his mental health struggles before his death.(Facebook)

Frawley is the second prominent Australian football figure to be diagnosed with CTE, a degenerative condition linked to concussions and brain trauma.

In February it was revealed legendary Geelong ruckman Graham “Polly” Farmer was suffering from Stage III CTE when he died last year following tests on tissue from his brain at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

CTE can only be diagnosed after a person’s death.

Frawley, also a leading media figure after his coaching career finished, spoke publicly about his mental health battles in the years leading up to his death.


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Australian News

Inquest into 3yo girl’s death from flu begins

A Sydney GP who helped revive a three-year-old girl the day before she tragically died from the flu has told an inquest she was “probably the sickest child I’ve ever seen”.

But medical staff at one of the city’s biggest children’s hospitals failed to recognise the life-threatening condition of Caitlin Reese Cruz, counsel assisting the inquest Maria Gerace told the Lidcombe Coroners Court on Monday.

She said a series of systemic errors at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, including poor record keeping and lack of equipment, might have robbed Caitlin of a chance of survival.

Caitlin had been rushed to the hospital about 2.20pm on the afternoon of October 22, 2016 after she collapsed in her father’s lap at a GP clinic in Rhodes.

Her lips were blue, she was barely breathing, her pulse and blood pressure were non-discernible and she didn’t move when a cannula was inserted into her arm.

Despite a brief recovery, less than 24 hours later at 11.15am she was pronounced dead, with a post-mortem revealing her heart had swollen from fluid caused by a viral influenza B infection.

Ms Gerace told the court on the first day of the week-long inquest Caitlin’s condition rapidly deteriorated after she was finally admitted to the intensive paediatric care unit on the morning of October 23.

That followed hours of “inadequate” care, with reports passed between medical staff that did not paint a “clear and complete picture” of her symptoms, nor the “urgency and concern” of her treating GP that day, Ms Gerace said.

She said among the concerning failures in care was Caitlin waiting hours to receive an ECG – a test that detects heart issues – as the machine in the hospital’s emergency ward was “out of charge”.

When she was later admitted into a ward a doctor was unable to find a hammer to test her reflexes because equipment had been moved to another part of the hospital.

While in the ward a junior doctor reviewed an ECG taken of the girl’s heart but failed to interpret the results in written records. A senior physician did not see the results for nearly 12 hours.

The young girl from Lidcombe fell ill with a fever on October 20. She had been tired, complained of stomach pains and had little to no appetite.

A worsening in Caitlin’s condition led her concerned father Mitch Cruz to book her into My Health Medical Centre in Rhodes two days later.

One of the doctors who worked to revive her at the clinic on October 22 told the court Caitlin was “probably the sickest child I’ve ever seen in an emergency in general practice”.

A tearful Dr Sumeena Qidwai said she screamed for her receptionist to call an ambulance after observing Caitlin to be “floppy and blue” and appearing to be in imminent cardio-pulmonary arrest.

“I couldn’t feel a peripheral pulse and I was unable to hear her heart rate,” she said.

She described Caitlin as being almost completely non-responsive and believed she was in “imminent danger of death”.

“I’ve never done a cannula where a child didn’t even flinch. She did not flinch,” she said.

Husband Dr Faisal Qidwai told the court Caitlin did not appear to be breathing, and he fixed an oxygen mask to her, turning the flow up high.

When Caitlin left for hospital she had made somewhat of a recovery, now able to breathe on her own and responding to conversation, he said.

However, Dr Sumeena Qidwai told the court she did not think it was appropriate for her to write a referral letter to give to attending paramedics due to the urgency of the situation.

She directly addressed Caitlin’s parents Mitch and Maria, saying she hoped the inquest could help them “heal”.

The inquest continues before Deputy State Coroner Derek Lee.

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Local News - Victoria

Victoria records 113 new coronavirus cases as state’s death toll rises by 12

He said he expects cases to be around 70 a day by next Friday, with an average of around 600 cases in total for the coming week. “That number is a bit of a guess,” Professor McCarthy told radio station 3AW.

Numbers in Melbourne appear to have plateaued.

Numbers in Melbourne appear to have plateaued.Credit:Getty

He said he hopes that Victoria will be “well and truly” recording fewer than 50 cases a day by the end of stage four lockdown on September 13.

However, Professor McCarthy said it will be hard to get into single digits, because the exponential decline of the virus is much slower than exponential growth.

“It’s very unfair isn’t it … things get bad quickly, but things don’t get good as fast,” Professor McCarthy said.

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Local News - Victoria

No charges to be laid against police after death of Indigenous woman Tanya Day

“After an assessment of the evidence and receiving advice from the OPP, Victoria Police will not be proceeding with charges against the police officers in this matter.

“Victoria Police acknowledges the loss and suffering experienced by Ms Day’s family.

“Victoria Police takes any death in police care or custody very seriously and will continue reviewing the coroner’s findings and recommendations.”

Ms Day's children (left to right)  Belinda Stevens, Apryl Watson,  Warren Stevens and Kimberly Watson.

Ms Day’s children (left to right) Belinda Stevens, Apryl Watson, Warren Stevens and Kimberly Watson.Credit:Justin McManus

Ms Day, a Yorta Yorta woman, was arrested for the offence of public drunkenness after being found asleep on a train travelling from Bendigo to Melbourne on December 5, 2017.

She fell and hit her head within hours of being detained in a police cell in Castlemaine. Her injuries went unnoticed until more than three hours later, when an ambulance was called.

Hospital scans revealed Ms Day had a massive bleed on her brain, and she died of a cerebral haemorrhage on December 22.

In April, Deputy State Coroner Caitlin English found Ms Day’s death was preventable and while inadequate police care was not “causative of her death”, the “totality” of the evidence led her to believe an indictable offence may have occurred.

The hearing at the Coroner's Court.

The hearing at the Coroner’s Court. Credit:Justin McManus

According to medical evidence given during the inquest, Ms Day would have had a 20 per cent chance of surviving, although she probably would have been severely disabled, if she had received attention sooner.

Ms English said the death would not have occurred had Ms Day not been arrested in December 2017. She referred the conduct of police to the OPP for further analysis.

At the time, Ms Day’s family had also asked the coroner to consider whether the police conduct could amount to negligent manslaughter.

Ms English found checks conducted by Leading Senior Constable Danny Wolters during Ms Day’s time in custody, overseen by Sergeant Edwina Neale, were illusory and cursory, failing to meet police guidelines.

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The officers told the coroner they did not want to disturb Ms Day and left her to sleep off the alcohol.

The Attorney-General’s office has since committed to abolishing the criminal offence of public drunkenness.

The OPP has been contacted for comment.

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Australian News

Death ruled suicide but nurse’s actions slammed

A coroner has ruled a young Indigenous man did take his own life in a NSW prison but has referred a senior nurse who assessed him an hour before he was found to a professional standards board.

Tane Chatfield, 22, was found unconscious in his cell by a prison sweeper at Tamworth Correctional Centre on the morning of September 20, 2017.

Mr Chatfield, who grew up in the Armidale area and had been on remand at the facility for two years, had only just returned from Tamworth Base Hospital after suffering a series of seizures in his cell.

He died in hospital two days later, after what Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame ruled was suicide, despite his family’s scepticism.

In findings handed down on Wednesday, Ms Grahame criticised the decision to place the father in a cell on his own when he returned from hospital.

She also recommended the correctional centre’s Justice Health clinic nurse unit manager Janeen Adams be investigated by a professional body over her “cursory and inadequate” treatment of Mr Chatfield on his return to jail.

The inquest heard Ms Adams assessed her patient for a matter of minutes before allowing him to be returned to a cell on his own.

Ms Adams gave evidence that she did not know the man had suffered from seizures, and had not been provided with a hospital discharge summary.

Ms Grahame said in her findings the experienced Ms Adams could have called the hospital or simply “asked Tane himself”.

“I have given this matter considerable thought … However, I am troubled that a nurse of her experience appeared to consider the interaction she had with her patient to be sufficient in the circumstances,” Ms Grahame wrote.

“While she stated that had she known of the seizures she may have taken a different course, she did not appear to understand that she should have known.”

Justice Health has previously acknowledged Mr Chatfield did not receive the required care before his death.

As part of her recommendations Ms Grahame said Corrective Services NSW should conduct an audit of the Tamworth jail.

Any inmate taken to hospital should be placed in a two-person cell when they return, she recommended in her findings.

Ms Grahame said the story of Mr Chatfield, first incarcerated at 14, was one that highlighted the need to divert “over-represented” young Indigenous people away from jail in order to prevent deaths in custody.

“I am so sorry that Tane experienced such despair in circumstances which were unsafe for him,” she said.

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Australian News

Death toll passes 500 as 5.5 million tested

More than 5.5 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Australia but the country’s top nurse has said those high testing rates need to continue as 17 new deaths in Victoria take the death toll past 500.

502 people have now died from COVID-19 in Australia since the nightmare coronavirus pandemic began.

The majority of those deaths (415 total) have been in Victoria, and within the past six weeks as the state was hit with a second wave of infections.

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A man and a woman aged in their 60s, three men in their 70s, six men and four women in their 80s and two men in their 90s made up the state’s new deaths.

11 of them have been linked to known clusters at aged care facilities.

At an update on Sunday afternoon, Australia’s chief nursing and midwifery officer Professor Alison McMillan urged people to keep getting tested if they have even the mildest of symptoms.

“We have been incredibly successful in promoting testing, and we have seen more than 5.5 million tests conducted across the country … We continue to encourage anyone, if you have any symptoms whatsoever, however mild, it is really important that you get tested,” Prof McMillan said.

“Stay at home, get tested, and we will help across the country to prevent the transmission of this disease, and hopefully return at some point to a more normal life,” she added.

Australia recorded its first death from COVID-19 on March 1: a 78-year-old man who caught the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The first cases of community transmission were detected the next day.

The country had a largely successful suppression of the virus until July, when case numbers began surging in Victoria.

Deaths returned too.

Only one person died throughout June from COVID-19.

On July 6 Australia reported two more deaths, and the death toll continued to rise throughout the month and into the next one.

On August 17 Australia reported what remains its deadliest day of the pandemic, with 25 new deaths announced that day.

Harsh restrictions have been active in Victoria for three weeks now and are set to continue for three more.

The state’s new case numbers have begun trending downwards but have plenty of room to decline further.

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