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

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Local News - Victoria

Gyms open for customers and hoping for a fighting fit future

“I’ve just finished eight hours of cleaning my studio, organising the workouts, spacing out my equipment, organising my cleaning stations,” he said.

“Every dumbbell, kettlebell, bike, rower, rack and mirror is wiped down, cleaned, sanitised and sparkling.”

Mr Jones said his business took a big hit during lockdown as he worked hard to stop the piling debts.

His gym ran online zoom workouts, built programs for members to do in the park and posted motivational videos to help members look after their mental health. He even asked his members to contribute financially to keep the gym afloat.

Mr Jones said he would reopen with a $30,000 debt.

“And that’s with working almost every single day of the pandemic and receiving some small contributions,” he said.

“I’m lucky enough to be reopening tomorrow with 90 per cent of my members but that took a huge amount of dedication.”

Under the new rules, from 11:59pm on November 8 indoor physical recreation venues can reopen with a maximum of 10 patrons per space and 20 patrons per venue.

Outdoor physical recreation will have no change from the current cap of 10 people plus a trainer.


Gym-goers will still have to wear their face masks unless they are out of breath and all gyms will be required to have a COVID marshal on site.

From November 22, indoor gyms will be able to have up to 100 clients on site, while outside sport will allow a patron cap of 500 people.

Even with the oncoming challenges, Mr Jones said he was hopeful for his gym’s – and the state’s – future.

“We should focus on what we can learn from it, how we can grow from it as individuals, as communities and as a state,” he said.

“It’s time to heal, not bathe in the past.”

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Australian News

AFL’s roots are partly Chinese, but Chinese Australians are now fighting underrepresentation

When Arthur Liu first set his foot in Melbourne 20 years ago, the very first person he met gave him advice on how to become a “true Australian”.

Fast forward to today, the father of two boys has not only become a die-hard fan of the Essendon Football Club himself, but also passed his love of footy to the next generation.

“My eldest son, Lionel, now has more footy knowledge than me,” Mr Liu told the ABC.

He said the seven-year-old knew many players’ names and how many goals they kicked last season.

Two boys playing AFL in a park
As Melbourne gradually re-opens, Lionel (left) will soon begin his Auskick training.(Supplied: Arthur Liu)

Mr Liu said his younger son, Lennon, was “not as knowledgeable as his brother”, but he could at least “recognise each AFL team’s logo”.

Mr Liu has set up mini goal posts in his backyard, and this year he signed up Lionel for Auskick, the AFL kids program.

Auskick could be the beginning of a career in footy, which AFLW player Darcy Vescio knows all about.

The Carlton Football Club player’s interest in footy also had paternal roots.

“My first footy experience was through playing Auskick, mainly because my dad was a big football fan, and my old brother started playing Auskick,” Vescio said.

‘Something just needs to be done’

Darcy Vescio playing AFL in a sport ground.
Vescio is working toward creating a more inclusive game.(Carlton FC: Julian Wallace)

Vescio, who is one of the sport’s multicultural ambassadors, was born to an Italian father and a Chinese mother, and raised in the regional Victorian town of Wangaratta.

She is one of only a handful of AFL players of Chinese ancestry.

“[The AFL leadership] definitely have identified the need to reflect Australian society in Australian football.

“The AFL wants to be the most inclusive sport in Australia … something just needs to be done.”

Lin Jong jumps to catch the ball during a game, his leg outstretched towards the camera
Lin Jong (centre) is the only male player of Chinese ancestry in the professional league.(AAP: Julian Smith)

In 2020, about 15 per cent of AFL players were born overseas or had one parent born overseas. This was up from 13 per cent in 2019, according to AFL data.

Last year, the AFL said 87,000 players in community football and 21 per cent of Auskick participants had a multicultural background.

“There are some 700 players in AFL, and around 400 in the AFLW, and considering there are more than 1 million Chinese Australians, the Chinese players in the leagues are very few.”

The AFL’s long Chinese history

A black and white photo shows the team members of a Chinese-Australian VFL team.
A team representing the Young Chinese League in 1933.(State Library of Victoria)

The AFL’s Chinese roots run deep — players of Chinese ancestry played their first game in the gold rush town of Ballarat on August 27, 1892.

A Ballarat Evening Post report at the time said it was a fundraising match, and about 5,000 locals watched on.

“I think one of the most incredible yet least known stories in Australian sport is how the Chinese community embraced AFL in the mid-19th century,” Rob Hess, a sports historian at Victoria University, told the ABC.

But Dr Hess said the sport’s uptake by Australia’s Chinese diaspora was “not surprising”.

In the 1890s, people who stayed behind in regional Victoria after the gold rush took up occupations in market gardening, mining and commercial laundries.

Dr Hess said these people formed footy teams by their occupation and participated in the game with enthusiasm.

An empty football field with a grandstand at one end
The very first game between Chinese footy teams happened at Ballarat’s Eastern Oval.(ABC News: Kai Feng)

But in 1901, the newly created federation of Australia unveiled the White Australia Policy, which barred non-European migration to the country.

Dr Hess said around this time, players with Chinese heritage including Wally KooChew and Les Kew Ming also started to play at a higher level, such as the Victorian Football League.

Leader, 23 May 1908, p. 26, Koochew, second from left in middle row, courtesy of State Library of Victoria
KooChew, pictured in 1908, second from the left in the middle row.(State Library of Victoria)

Ming was one of more than 200 Chinese soldiers to serve in the Australian Army, and according to Dr Hess “a famous war hero”.

Upon his return home, he was considered to be one of North Melbourne’s best players, according to AFL history website Australian Football.

Despite this long history, Chinese Australians are among the most underrepresented ethnic groups on AFL fields, in its boardrooms, and in club membership, which Mr Pi said was due to a couple of factors.

“From my experience, everything is about academic success among the Chinese diaspora,” Mr Pi said.

“Another factor is, for a long time [the AFL] didn’t really engage our new migrants, not just of Asian backgrounds. That has really changed over the last few decades.”

Mr Pi said the AFL needed to do more to make multicultural communities feel welcomed, but migrants should also stop seeing sport as irrelevant to their children’s development.

‘People need to know they belong’

A man holds a football in an office.
Jamie Pi became a AFLPA accredited player agent this year.(Supplied)

This year, Mr Pi attained a master’s degree in sports management and became an AFL Player Association (AFLPA) accredited player agent.

He hopes to attract more Chinese and other Asian players to the oval to change the monocultural stereotypes of the game.

“There are now more and more migrant faces all around on our ovals, not just of Asian backgrounds,” Mr Pi said.

“I want to bring a fresh face, a different look to this profession.

He said the AFL was also working on institutional change to bring more minority ethnic groups into the sport, which he said would “definitely pay dividends”.

“There will be more and more players at the elite level from multicultural backgrounds … I’m sure we will see that in the next decade,” Mr Pi said.

A man dressed in a red Sherrin football suit waves to hundreds of fans lining the street during the grand final parade.
AFL fans of Chinese ancestry make up a small portion of the game’s supporter base.(ABC News: Dylan Anderson)

Melbourne’s Mr Liu said the uptake of footy among his children would also pay dividends, by giving them skills other hobbies may not give, as well as getting them outside.

“Compared to individual sports like tennis, footy is a team sport, it requires good cooperation and communication ability, that’s something really hard for adults to teach,” he said.

“Sport is a good way to train those skills.”

As Melbourne gradually reopens after its long lockdown, Lionel will soon begin his training in Auskick.

Meanwhile, Vescio is also hoping to resume the advocacy associated with her role as an AFL Multicultural Ambassador.

She believes young people from ethnic minorities who might be thinking about a career in football should “absolutely go for it”.

Darcy Vescio extends her leg out straight in front, just after a kick
Carlton’s Darcy Vescio kicks a goal during the round 1 AFLW match against Collingwood in 2017.(AAP: Joe Castro)

“Even if you don’t see yourself reflected in the club and you want to try out, just get involved at a community level that might involve anything around the club,” she said.

“I think people need to know they also belong in the game and they make the game better.

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Australian News

Raiders set up grand final replay against Roosters, after fighting back for 32-20 elimination final win over Sharks

The final margin says they won by two converted tries, but the Canberra Raiders had to dig deep to overcome a 14-10 deficit at halftime, after Cronulla dominated the first half of the elimination final at Canberra Stadium.

And that deficit would certainly have been more than four points, had Raiders halfback George Williams not swooped on a Wade Graham pass and run almost 70 metres to score at the other end of the field.

It would prove a massive turning point in the game.

Cronulla had dominated possession and field position throughout, and led 14-6 after 28 minutes, after tries from winger Ronaldo Mulitalo and hooker Blayke Brailey.

“I think we made over two-hundred-and-something tackles in the first half and they had 70 per cent of the footy,” Canberra coach Ricky Stuart conceded post-match.

Raiders halfback George Williams kept Canberra in it with a 60-metre try near halftime.
George Williams scored his first NRL try during the round eight match against the Dragons in July.(AAP: Lukas Coch)

Cronulla laments missed opportunities

Cronulla coach John Morris could only lament the opportunity the Williams try gave the Raiders after his side had played superbly for the first 40 minutes, silencing the parochial and increased Canberra Stadium crowd of 9,602 fans in the process.

“We spoke about that period, that’s one of those moments you want to win before and after halftime, and not let them back in. I just felt we had total control of the game,” Morris said.

But with their tail up coming into the break, the Raiders blew the game open with three converted tries in 10 minutes early in the second half.

Raiders fans perform the Viking clap, one wears a viking helmet.
While crowd numbers were much lower than during last year’s preliminary final, the Raiders played in front of their largest Canberra Stadium crowd since the coronavirus shutdown.(AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Raiders capitalised on errors

Five-eighth Jack Wighton caught the Sharks’ defence napping in the 46th minute, taking a quick tap behind a Graham’s back as the Cronulla skipper was trying to call for a captain’s challenge.

Williams then completed a double in the 56th minute, bursting through two Sharks defenders to score under the posts from a Wighton pass.

Suddenly the Raiders led 28-14 entering the final quarter of the game.

Graham pleaded his case with referee Grant Atkins after Wighton’s first try was allowed, but his coach was more worried about why Canberra were presented with the opportunity in the first place.

“I look at why they got the ball down there, and it was off our errors coming out of our end, which we didn’t do in the first half,” Morris said.

The Sydney Roosters pile on in celebration after scoring a try in the NRL grand final
The Roosters took out the 2019 NRL grand final over the Canberra Raiders in a dramatic game that included the controversial six-again call.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

Grand final replay looms

The 12-point win pitches the Raiders straight into a replay of the 2019 grand final against the Sydney Roosters for the second week of the NRL Finals, the semi-final to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground next Friday night.

The Raiders properly launched their run home with a 24-20 win over the Roosters at the SCG back in mid-July, from which they held onto fifth spot for the next 10 weeks.

The elimination final fight-back, along with an eight-and-two record on the road in 2020 has Stuart convinced his team can keep challenging in this season’s finals series.

“I’m very confident in that squad. They’re a tough group,” he said.

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Australian News

Sword fighting surges in popularity thanks to Game of Thrones, Witcher and Vikings

Have you been inspired by the fancy swordplay of Geralt of Rivia from the Witcher of Arya Stark from Game of Thrones?

If it’s a yes, then you’re in good company.

The proliferation of swashbuckling television dramas has sparked such an interest in sword fighting that schools can be found throughout Australia, from small halls in central Queensland to large studios in Perth.

This is no medieval re-enactment or live action role-playing game (LARP); it is learning the skill of broadswords, sabres and smallswords to name a few.

Throw in Viking wrestling, French kickboxing and bartitsu — a martial art that combines boxing, jujitsu and cane fighting — and you have Historical European Martial Arts, also known as HEMA.

“Vikings, Game of Thrones, the Witcher — the sword fighting sparks a bit of interest,” said Will Deasy, who runs his school from a church hall in Rockhampton.

Two men lock their swords together in a church hall
You can become a competent swordsperson within a year, depending on how much effort and practice you put in, says Will Deasly (right) as he spars with Luke De Costa.(ABC Capricornia: Inga Stünzner)

“It’s exploding in Brisbane and a lot of capital cities, and now it’s here,” he said.

Mr Deasy concentrates on British swordsmanship, which includes the Highland broadsword, English backsword, military sabre, and smallsword.

A university lecturer by day and a lifelong martial artist, Mr Deasy said there were some similarities to fencing, but the rules were quite different.

“We’re aiming to hit our opponent without being hit in return, so there is a bit of a different mindset,” he said.

Mr Deasy moved to Rockhampton from Melbourne a year ago, where he left a booming HEMA scene.

Man with bushy red beard holds a helmet in one hand and sword in the other
Will Deasy teaches British swordsmanship, which includes Highland broadsword, English backsword, military sabre and small sword.(ABC Capricornia: Inga Stünzner)

“Last time I checked, there were 18 to 20 different HEMA classes in Melbourne covering things from pugilism to German longsword, Italian fencing, and that sort of thing.”

And those who took part came from a variety of backgrounds.

On the other side of the country, Jim Campbell is head instructor at a Perth HEMA academy, which follows the German longsword fencing tradition.

Like Mr Deasy, he comes from an eastern martial arts background and his foray into sword fighting began when he stumbled across a medieval fair.

Sword fighting at the Tasmanian Medieval Festival, September 2016.
There is not much of a relationship between HEMA and medieval re-enactment, although Jim Campbell’s academy does support the local fairs.(Supplied: Benita Bell)

“I saw a bunch of guys swinging swords around and I thought: ‘I love sword fighting’, so I threw my hat in the ring to see how I went there,” Mr Campbell said.

“Back then, we were using wooden swords or plastic swords — that was all that was available, and some pretty atrocious-looking armour for protection.

The relationship with medieval re-enactments was not a particularly close one, but there was a bit of cross-pollination between the two, he said.

A bearded man wearing a bandana stares solemnly into the camera
Jim Campbell had been doing martial arts for years but gave it away until he went to a medieval fair and fell in love with swords.(Supplied: Ursa Major HEMA Academy)

“Often what we’ll see is someone who might first come across HEMA and decide it’s a little too energetic and they’ll go and check out something like LARP re-enactment,” Mr Campbell said.

“And then we’ll see vice versa where people come through LARP where that’s their first exposure and decide they want something that’s a bit more martially inclined.”

Mr Campbell said pop culture had driven a huge change over the past decade.

But programs like The Witcher, Vikings, and Game of Thrones with their “flashing techniques” changed that, he added.

If you fancy yourself the next Geralt, are you destined for disappointment?

A man with long, blonde hair, rides a horse along a barren hill on a cloudy day
Geralt of Rivia, played by Henry Cavill, in The Witcher series gets the thumbs up for his sword-fighting scenes.(Facebook: The Witcher (Netflix))

“Unfortunately, those flashy, spinny techniques don’t work quite so well in the real world, but they are great to watch,” Mr Campbell said.

So much so there are now major competitions and tournaments in each state.

Mr Campbell is part of the Historical Fencing League of Australia, an informal organisation that helps sword fighters track their performance in competitions across the land.

HEMA is not hugely standardised — think different weapons — and tournaments can vary drastically.

Two men dressed in black protective gear engage in sword fight while a small crowd looks on.
The sport has grown so much in the past few years that at least one big tournament is held in each state throughout the year.(Supplied: Ursa Major HEMA Academy)

“But that’s well received because it gives people from different backgrounds and different fencing styles an opportunity to flourish in one tournament or be challenged in another,” Mr Campbell said.

Bouts last around three minutes with the same weapon, and there is the usual lethal blow — like to the head.

It was hugely popular, with tournaments in every state, except Tasmania and the Northern Territory, Mr Campbell said.

Could the characters in the popular television programs hold their ground?

“I think Game of Thrones was really good at telling some stories, and how to use the sword was not one of those things they were good at,” Mr Campbell said.

Two male characters swing swords at each other in a scene from Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones may be behind the growing interest in HEMA, but its sword-fighting scenes are not particularly realistic, according to experts.(Facebook: Game of Thrones (HBO))

The Witcher gets a thumbs up — but there is one fighting scene that leaves them all for dust.

“The most believable fight scene I have seen to date would be between Inigo Montoya and the Man in Black from The Princess Bride,” Mr Campbell said.

It was actually choreographed by Bob Anderson, Hollywood’s most famous sword fighting coach, who had classical training in fencing.

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Local News - Victoria

Why we need to keep fighting this pandemic

For Tony Abbott to say that we should lift restrictions, that we are under a ‘‘health dictatorship’’ (The Age, 2/2), and to suggest we work out the number of deaths we can live with are among some of the stupidest comments I have come across. Without fighting this pandemic, many more will die alone, leaving behind grieving families unable to say goodbye as they wish.
Milena Rafic, Montmorency

Trying to get a grasp on this man’s humanity

Tony Abbott is strongly anti-abortion, strongly against euthanasia for people with terminal illness, and has now added to his moral armaments with the view that we should let the elderly die rather than restrict our ‘‘freedom’’ and damage our economy. Put it all together and what do you get on the humanity gauge?
Dr Arthur Klepfisz, Toorak

Abbott rambles, dedicated workers risk their health

Tony Abbott, a wrecking ball in government, in opposition, as prime minister and as a backbencher, and still one after losing his seat. I wonder what medicos, nurses and other health workers who are putting their own health on the line every day think of his ramblings.
John Uren, Blackburn

A belief that some lives are worth more than others

How morally bankrupt can a failed politician be and yet his views still be given air play? For years Tony Abbott courted certain sections of the electorate with his fierce and strident opposition to euthanasia and abortion. He is now suggesting a country should decide how many deaths from COVID-19 must be tolerated in order to safeguard and foster the economy. In his view, it would appear some lives are worth far less than others and therefore can be sacrificed.
Marie Rogers, Kew

A hypocritical stance from a so-called Christian

What a nerve those aged people have, wanting to live a little longer and getting in the way of business profits. Tony Abbott’s priorities have not changed. He considers himself a Christian. Shame.
Graeme Henderson, Bullengarook

Settle down, settle down, you listen to me

‘‘Uncle Arthur’’ was comedian Glenn Robbins’ portrayal of everyone’s eccentric uncle, one who made cringeworthy comments at inappropriate moments. Tony Abbott’s latest public foray shows we have a new ‘‘Uncle Arthur’’ in the making. Alternatively, he could be the new version of Hanrahan (‘‘We’ll all be rooned’’). Let him stay in the United Kingdom where he blends well with the current crop of Tories.
Valerie Gerrand, West Melbourne

We’re sorry, but you’re old so you’re on your own

Maybe the Tony Abbott doctrine can be applied to the next climate change-influenced bushfire season. If you are under a fire threat and are old, then you are on your own. The possibilities might be endless.
David Sheils, Warragul

The difficulty of defining who is ‘elderly’

The failed former prime minister, ex-seminarian and devout Roman Catholic who is opposed to abortion and a firm believer in the sanctity of life suggests elderly COVID-19 patients could be left to die naturally. Could he set a lower age limit on the definition of ‘‘elderly’’? I thought only his god had the power to decide who should live and who should die. Is Tony Abbott now aiming for a more exalted role in the scheme of things?
Graham Williams, Glen Waverley


Our need to exercise…

The fifth week of hard lockdown. I am Vitamin D-deficient, unfit, mentally deteriorating and fattening, all factors that will increase my risk of COVID-19 complications should I ever catch it. All are directly related to the arbitrary, one-hour rule on exercise, that is supposed to keep me safe. Studies show we are 19 times more likely to catch this virus indoors rather than outdoors. Why are we being cooped up? It is time to remove the one-hour limit on exercise and let us all enjoy the warmth of spring in our beautiful parks and bushlands.
Melissa Ort, nutritionist, Fitzroy North

… and to see loved ones

The Premier has not ruled out extending Melbourne’s stage four lockdown (The Age, 3/9). Really? I have consulted with my ‘‘mental-health self’’ and it says ‘‘no’’. Please be bolder than this, at least allow all coronavirus-fatigued Victorians to enjoy the comforting and personal presence of a few family and friends at home.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South

Keep feet on the brake

As soon as the Premier’s ‘‘road map’’ to ease stage four restrictions is released, I hope it will not lead to an impulse similar to that exhibited by many drivers when they see an increased speed limit 100 metres away: they immediately ignore the speed that is still current.
Suzanne Palmer-Holton, Seaford

Don’t spoil Father’s Day

In May, Daniel Andrews deprived families of time together on Mother’s Day. Now he has now chosen Father’s Day to reveal his all-important COVID-19 plan for moving forward. This Sunday will see family hugs replaced by remote conversations and gifts delivered by post. That is hard enough. Yet Mr Andrews wants to grab the stage and interrupt this moment with his big announcement. He should make it on Saturday, for goodness sake. When you care about people, it is a common sense decision to make.
Judy Stocco, Vermont

Such selfish protesters

When I hear of people protesting against our stage four lockdown, I am disgusted. Obviously they are not healthcare workers. Our healthcare workers have been working hard for more than five months, during which time they have put their own health at risk. How many of the protesters can own up to that?
Bill Proctor, Launching Place

Please, wear your mask

On Wednesday, 19 fines were issued for the previous 24 hours to people who were not wearing masks. I see that number of maskless people daily in my one-hour exercise within five kilometres of my home. Many masks are not correctly worn and there are also many pseudo ‘‘coffee drinkers’’.
Howard Brownscombe, Brighton

Putting Victorians first

Josh Frydenberg has spent far too long in Canberra. He has forgotten he is the member for Kooyong and a Victorian. At a time when Victorians need all the assistance they can get, he stands on the sidelines throwing rocks in an attempt to deflect criticism from the federal government’s disastrous handling of the aged care sector. It seems that partisan politics will always ‘‘Trump’’ the common good.
Peter Thomas, Moonee Ponds

Stop throwing stones

Thanks to Cathy Wilcox for her wonderful cartoon (Letters, 1/9). Scott Morrison urging his ‘‘right-hand man’’ Josh Frydenberg to chuck rocks at Dan Andrews reminded me of some old wisdoms: People in glass houses, Sticks and Stones, Chickens coming home to roost, and, of course, Tall poppies.
Ros Collins, Elwood

Importance of economics

It is sad when anyone dies but, let us face it, there is always a cost benefit analysis applied to every aspect of our lives, whether it is health, education, transport or defence etc. Whether we like it or not, everything is dominated by economics.
Neil McDonald, Berwick

Wins for wealthy, again

Boom times? Tax cuts for the wealthy. A recession? Tax cuts for the wealthy (The Age, 3/9). Difficult.
Joe Foley, Hawthorn

Long-suffering customers

It concerns me that Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate may get a big bonus because of the large profits made this year – ‘‘Bonus despite board veto’’ (The Age, 3/9). This is the result of a massive increase in the use of parcel post. Surely the people who created these profits – the customers – should be rewarded. They should receive either a cash bonus or reduced charges.
Charles Varley, East Malvern

Express? You’re joking.

My experience with Australia Post, like many of your readers, has been that it does not deliver. An Express Post envelope with important documents posted on August 14 still has not been delivered. I lodged an inquiry on August 25 and a further email on August 31 but have received no reply. Usually I would deliver these documents by hand as they only have to travel 60 kilometres but I could not because of the lockdown. Australia Post may have made a profit but it is not meeting its targets which states that Express Post is prioritised for delivery.
Elise Callander, South Melbourne

What a great laugh

It was great to see Odd Spot back on the front page again. The quirky little piece about the millionaires at Australia Post asking staff to work for free and deliver mail in their own cars was most entertaining (The Age, 2/9). My wife and I had a good chuckle.
Peter Marsh, McCrae

High cost of ‘helping out’

Regarding Australia Post’s call for workers to volunteer to help clear a backlog in parcels, using their own cars. I know from personal experience that doing the right thing and helping out does not always get sympathy from one’s insurance company. The carriage of goods for commercial gain can play havoc with a family car’s insurance and, in the case of a bad bingle, leave a volunteer with a financial catastrophe.
Roger Green, Ferntree Gully

Where I get my news

Facebook is a social media platform. It is not a news platform. If I want to read news, I will go to a credible news website. If Facebook is threatening to remove news content in Australia (The Age, 3/9), then I say good riddance.
David Zemdegs, Armadale

All in 10 minutes’ work

Stephen Bartholomeusz (Business, 2/9) says it will take ‘‘great effort and cost’’ for Facebook to exclude news content from its Australian platforms. Due to the demands from intelligence organisations, governments of all kinds and IP rights holders, the tech companies are quite used to censoring content.

Here is the algorithm to block news from Australian companies: if a search result belongs to one of the registered news companies, then remove it from the list of results (or even show it ‘‘greyed out’’ and hence inaccessible). About 10 minutes work for a Google or Facebook engineer.
Jan Newmarch, retired professor of information technology, Oakleigh

Keeping ourselves fit

Pru Goward’s article – ‘‘Old age is not the issue. How we prepare for it is’’ (Comment, 3/9) – is an excellent summation of how a fall in the elderly affects many: the individual, their carers and the health system overall. Fitness of the body is obviously as crucial as fitness of the mind for good health and preventative measures. Let us talk more about it.
Sue Clarebrough, Wangaratta

Let’s promote falls clinics

I agree with Pru Goward regarding the prevention of falls in the older population. There are three reasons that hasten admission to residential aged care: falls, incontinence and dementia.
As a nurse of many years experience in the aged care sector, I know there are warning signs about falls. Reasons for them include a history of falls, the ‘‘near miss events’’, various medical conditions and medications.

Falls clinics which conduct assessments and suggest prevention strategies have been established. Why are they not used more widely? Why isn’t the public educated about their existence? Why aren’t more referrals made by GPs? Much needs to be done about prevention of illness. Imagine the cost savings to the budget.
Sandy Phillips, Mount Martha

Importance of exercise

Pru Goward is right in highlighting the need for all of us to remain active as we age. And she is right in providing the sobering statistics about falls, injuries and hospitalisations affecting older people. However, she has not received the right advice about what to do to prevent falls. Research has clearly demonstrated that exercise, particularly strength and balance training, is effective in preventing them. ‘‘Not doing things’’ is not recommended by experienced health professionals, whereas exercise most definitely is.
Associate Professor Frances Batchelor, National Ageing Research Institute

Cleaning up the force

As a former member of Victoria Police of nearly 20 years I am, sadly, not surprised by the findings of the Gobbo royal commission (The Age, 3/9). Victoria Police has long spruiked itself as the cleanest force in Australia and I have often said it is just better at managing its image. This inquiry has shown the truth of that. It also why the police must no longer be responsible for investigating police.
Douglas Potter, Surrey Hills

As the days get warmer…

My electricity bill has just arrived, accompanied by a flyer explaining seven types of heating. It is headed ‘‘Heating your home this winter’’ and commences, ‘‘As the days and nights get colder…’’. What hemisphere does AGL live in?
Harriet Farnaby, Geelong West


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Frydenberg should get his federal house in order before knocking the Victorian one.
Margaret Sullivan, Caulfield North

The PM criticised Andrews for not revealing his coronavirus ‘‘road map’’ but hasn’t tabled a recovery plan for the economy.
Rob Rogers, Warrandyte

Good advice from Frydenberg: don’t tell Victorians the truth, tell them what they want to hear.
Allan Carbis, Lalor

With his solutions to our recession, is he the Treasurer ‘‘we had to have?’’
Vince Gardiner, Glen Waverley

Tony Abbott

How many applications to leave Australia did he have to make?
Margaret Malloch, Hawthorn East

If the Brits give Abbott a knighthood, it will be enough to ensure an Australian republic.
Rod Cripps, Parkdale

Abbott: Howard’s biggest mistake.
Barry James, Croydon

Abbott revelled in being opposed to everything. He’s found a new way to grab attention. Ignore him.
Ron Slamowicz, Caulfield North


The WA Premier said WA was playing ‘‘hard to get’’ over the grand final. He should be happy his wish was respected.
Geoff Schmidt, Fitzroy North

Please, Brisbane, take the grand prix too.
Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale

It’s good to see the grand final will still be played at ‘‘the G’’.
Roger Farrer, Hampton

Politics is like the AFL. Everything our team does is good, everything our opponents do is bad.
Michael Hall, Blackburn


I can’t stand it any longer. Can we please talk about the number, not the amount, of coronavirus cases.
Ailene Strudwick, Mornington

The EPA says West Gate Tunnel soil will need ‘‘dewatering’’ (2/9). Whatever happened to ‘‘drying’’
Ro Bailey, Hawthorn

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Boy, 3, hit by car, fighting for life

A three-year-old boy is fighting for life after being hit by a car in Oran Park on Wednesday evening.

Police were called to Steward Drive just after 5pm to reports the child had been hit by a Holden Captiva.

The boy was treated for head and leg injuries and taken to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in a critical condition.

The driver, a 29-year-old woman, was unharmed and has been taken to hospital for mandatory testing.

Officers from Camden Police Area Command have established a crime scene, and are calling for anyone who witnessed the accident or has dashcam vision to come forward.

Inspector Phil Sweet, the duty operations manager at NSW Ambulance, said accidents involving children are always hard for first responders and can be extremely upsetting.

“In the end, we’re all human and a lot of us have children as well – that’s why we do our training, so we can operate well as a team, we know what we have to do to help those who need us,” he said.

“As road users we all need to take care while out and about – your life and the life of others can change in a split second.”

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Helen is fighting for her daughter to have the same gender equality an English football club already has

Like any parent, Helen Tyrikos doesn’t want her daughter to face any obstacles in life due to her gender.

But when it comes to sport, the Head of Women’s Football at Melbourne powerhouse Heidelberg United FC knows there is a long way to go before that’s a reality.

While the Matildas have made incredible strides for women’s football, many sub-elite and community clubs are still struggling to achieve equity.

Boys and men can often still be prioritised when it comes to allocation of pitches and facilities, training and game scheduling, coaching and overall investment.

Ms Tyrikos has long been campaigning to change that, and now she’s looking to a small semi-professional club based in rural south-east England for inspiration.

The ‘Equality FC’ model

Women and men pose for a photo on a soccer pitch, with the women holding a jersey that says EqualityFC on the front.
Women from the Lewes Football Club in England get paid the same as the men while having parity across all areas like marketing budgets and access to facilities.(Facebook: Lewes Football Club)

“How do you tell your daughter that even if she shows the same skills, the same commitment, trains just as hard and cares just as much, she’s always going to be valued less than her little brother?”

This was the question posed by Lewes FC as it embarked on a historic yet simple mission it called “Equality FC”.

In 2017, the Rooks declared they were the first football club in the world to pay their men’s and women’s teams equally and, three years later, they still appear to be the only one.

“It’s a decision that we took because we believe that the future of football needs to be more inclusive,” said Maggie Murphy, the General Manager of Lewes’ women’s team.

“It needs to have opportunities for girls and for boys, and we need to be in a place where we can realise the ambition of both.


The Rooks’ philosophy extends beyond pay to include parity across all areas including access to facilities, support staff, junior pathways and marketing budgets, and the results have followed.

Both teams have earned promotion, their junior playing numbers have grown, they have more sponsors and, despite increasing ticket prices for women’s games by 160 per cent, crowds have quadrupled.

“So now roughly the attendances are about equal between the men’s team and the women’s team,” Ms Murphy said.

Why can’t Australia follow suit?

Players from Heidelberg United FC
The women’s team at Heidelberg United has a budget of just 9 per cent of the men’s.(Sally Tsalikidis, Heidelberg United FC)

Ms Tyrikos, who is also part of the national advocacy network Women Onside, would love to see Heidelberg United adopt a similar approach but it isn’t straightforward.

The senior men’s team is dominant in the semi-professional NPL Victoria, having won the past three premierships.

But the Bergers women’s team, which competes in the state’s NPLW competition, hasn’t enjoyed the same success and has a budget of just 9 per cent of the men’s.

“We’ve got a lot of issues, we’ve got a lot of constraints.

“It would take a lot of time to get to a point where we’re like a Lewes FC,” Mrs Tyrikos said.

She has been lobbying Football Victoria to change some of those constraints, which include the fact the NPLW is amateur, meaning clubs can only reimburse players’ expenses incurred up to $100 a week and they can’t charge admission fees for games.

The passionate administrator, who was formerly Heidelberg’s general manager, has also been frustrated by resistance from figures who continue to operate the club like they did in its heyday in the now-defunct National Soccer League.

“It becomes a monster and keeps growing and growing, and you’re spending so much money on (men’s) wages, and you look back after 10 years and you go, that money could have been invested in the facilities, in growing the game for the juniors,” she said.

“It’s about changing perception and it’s our opportunity to reset and go, ‘hey, why are we spending (10 times more) a year on senior men when we’re getting 800 people to a game, when years ago we used to get 15,000 people?’

Beach huts and Prosecco: Lewes leads way

Four white beach huts sit atop a hill and people inside watch a soccer game below.
People watch a soccer match from beach huts at Lewes FC’s home ground in Lewes, East Essex.(Supplied: Lewes Football Club)


Changing rusted-on mindsets is hard, especially for long-established, traditional clubs which often have wealthy owners.

That’s not something Lewes has to contend with as a community-owned club.

Instead of stuffy corporate boxes at its home ground there are beach huts, and it has unusual food and drink offerings including Prosecco on tap.

“We don’t have to follow the same rules that have been set down by a men’s club that has always done things in the same way for decades,” Ms Murphy said.

“We’re just able to test and pilot and see what works and as a result, I think our offering is quite unique and people keep on coming back.”

The Rooks also have a reputation for their unique marketing strategies, including quirky posters, which have given Ms Tyrikos something to consider.

“It doesn’t take a lot of money to create a funny flyer that’s really cool, that gets people engaged and interested.

“I have an opportunity here to maybe not let the men run our media because they just produce exactly the same template for the girls.

“Maybe we need to now start doing something different to attract a different audience.”

Creating change at higher levels

While plenty of lessons can be learned from Lewes FC, the Australian Women in Sport Advisory Group (AWiSAG) has created its own blueprint called “no boundaries for women and girls in sport and physical activity”.


“This roadmap provides some key areas to assist grassroots through to elite-level sport on what they can do to create a more inclusive environment straightaway,” said AWiSAG chair, Professor Clare Hanlon.

The strategy urges organisations to track progress across areas like leadership, participation, pathways, investment and practical actions, with the aim of achieving gender equality by 2025.

“(If) we leave it for a later date it will happen gradually, we can’t afford for that to happen,” Professor Hanlon said.

“There’s too much at risk for the health and mental well-being of our community, and in particular where girls and women are participating less in sport, as well as being leaders in sports, we need to move that at a quicker pace.”

Helen Tyrikos was previously Football Victoria’s program development manager of women and girls and wants governments and governing bodies to step up in the equality quest.

Helen Tyrikos stands at a podium ready to speak.
Helen Tyrikos, Head of Women’s Football at Heidelberg United Football Club.(Mark Avellino)

“I’d like to see authorising brands like Sport and Recreation Victoria, the ones that are handing out the funding dollars and putting things in place, force the clubs to spend a certain amount of money, a bit like Title IX in the US, for every dollar spent on men’s athletes a dollar needs to be spent on female athletes.”

Prizemoney is seen as another area where gains could be made quickly.

“The FA Cup prizemoney at the moment, in the final the women win 0.69 per cent of what the men earn,” said Ms Murphy.

“Now, if that prizemoney was more equal, then the clubs would have more of an incentive to fund and support their women’s teams. So it’s not just down to the clubs, it’s also down to our governing body, the FA, to even things up to change the incentives a little bit.”

Coronavirus chance to start fresh


Whether sports like it or not, the coronavirus-induced shutdown has forced them to re-evaluate their operations.

But with women largely absent from key leadership positions, Professor Hanlon has warned them not to make the same mistakes of the past.

“After COVID-19, we’re going to be at the stage of saying, well, things need to change, we need to restructure our systems, our programs, but where’s the voice of women in that?” she asked.

Ms Murphy, who is also co-founder of the Equal Playing Field initiative, agrees.

“We need that diversity not only in the governing bodies, not only in the Football Associations but in sponsors, in marketing companies, also in the broadcasters who make decisions about what they put on television. I’m hoping that we, in five years’ time, will become much more diverse in all of those areas.

“There’s actually lots of opportunities that we have right now to look at, first of all, protecting women’s football, allowing us to survive and then allowing us to thrive.”

And if that happens, it would mean no parent will ever need to have that uncomfortable conversation with their daughter, questioning her value.

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Fighting the invisible enemy: What these images reveal about the coronavirus


April 28, 2020 05:22:53

For more than two decades, Dr Jason Roberts has been routinely peering into microscopic netherworlds and observing the behaviours of some of nature’s most deadly nano-sized insurgents.

A senior scientist at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Roberts is also a consultant virologist with the Australian Government’s polio eradication program.

In early February, he was among the first Australians to observe the virus, which, a few days later, would be given the official name of SARS-Cov-2.

And as an accomplished scientific illustrator, he is also skilled in the use of powerful electron microscopes (EM) to capture images of viruses and then use those to recreate intricate three-dimensional models.

Although he didn’t know it at the time, he was snapshotting a virus that would transform into the mother of all disruptive pathogens, a biological wrecking ball that has become an existential threat to our way of life.

“You’re looking at the enemy,” says Roberts, recalling those first encounters. “It’s invisible to everyone else in the world.

“But to us in virology, especially in EM, it’s not invisible. We see it. We know what it looks like.”

To eyeball the virus is to know its shape and structure. Armed with that knowledge, scientists can begin to decipher its genomic mission, a vital first step in understanding how to neutralise this invisible enemy.

Fragment of genetic code

As with all viruses, SARS-CoV-2 exists in a limbo somewhere between the animate and the inanimate.

Like a seed, a virus will only spring into action if it finds the right kind of conditions. Otherwise it will perish.

A virus in this stage is known as a virion. As they cannot replicate on their own, virions must find a suitable host in order to survive.

“It is really just a short fragment of genetic code,” explains Roberts. “[But] it’s amazing that such a little bit of code can wreak such havoc.”

Roughly spherical with a fringe of projections called spike proteins or peplomers, a SARS- CoV-2 virus particle typically measures about 100 nanometres in diameter. That’s about 10,000 times smaller than a grain of salt.

Each virus comes equipped with an outer layer, or viral envelope, that is designed to penetrate a cell and deliver its cargo of genetic material into the host.

Roberts describes that cargo as being “spring-loaded, like a jack-in-the-box”. When it finds the right target, “it just goes ping and delivers it”.

“Once that code gets into a cell, it hijacks the [cell’s] replication machinery. It’s now able to reproduce; it’s able to evolve; it’s able to metabolise energy.”

And there’s no escaping them. Our biosphere is teeming with viruses.

A 2011 paper in the research journal Nature Reviews Microbiology calculated there were approximately 1 x 1031 of viruses on earth — that’s a number with 1 followed by 31 zeros.

Despite the bad rap they get, not all viruses are bad for us.

Roberts says the human race couldn’t survive without some of them, like those found in our guts which help to keep our digestive systems in balance.

“Viruses,” he says, “are the oil that lubricates the gears of evolution.”

‘Really quite terrifying’

Roberts’s lab is part of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. That’s the same organisation which in late January became the first lab outside China to successfully grow a sample of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

They used a specimen taken from one of the first people in Australia to test positive to COVID-19 in Australia, on Friday, January 24.

A few days later, Roberts and Dr Andrew Leis, an electron microscopist and viral expert at Melbourne University’s Bio21 Molecular Science & Biotechnology Institute, were putting samples under the lens of a transmission electron microscope (TEM).

These were the first, blurry images they produced. They were not published or distributed because of the image quality.

Roberts vividly recalls that first impression and the mood in the lab that day.

“Initially, there was excitement … and then it was just like this dread: This thing’s really quite terrifying.”

The sample showed the presence of many virus particles, much more than they expected to see.

“We had this moment of clarity and sort of urgency that you need to get on to what’s got to be done, get results out there, collaborate…”

Around January 31, the Doherty Institute had also delivered a small vial containing a sample of the virus it had cultivated to the CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) in Geelong.

The sample was taken by members of ACDP’s dangerous pathogens team into the most secure part of the facility where they grew the virus from the original culture.

ACDP is one of the few facilities that includes a certified Physical Containment Level 4 (PC4) lab area, the place where dangerous pathogens go to be cultivated, examined and stored.

The facility has been constructed on a box-within-a-box principle.

Sections are air-locked, ensuring physical containment is duplicated or triplicated, in case one fails.

The secure area is surrounded by a 30cm-thick concrete wall and held at a lower air pressure than the outside world, to keep any airborne infectious agents inside.

ACDP is also where Sandy Crameri has worked for 30 years as electron microscopist specialising in viruses. She’s also one of the most experienced.

Over the years, she has seen and imaged the worst of the worst: pathogens such as SARS, MERS, HIV, Hendra, Ebola and H1N1, the virus that triggered the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

Around February 10, Crameri recalls receiving her first sample to examine.

“When I first looked at the peplomers, which are the crown-like things, I thought, ‘wow, they’re really obvious’,” she says.

“Then I invited my colleagues … to come and have a look because everyone was interested to clap eyes on it when we first got it here.”

Crameri quickly turned around her first image, a monochromatic version of this image below, which after colourisation — which took a day or so more — was published by the CSIRO.

Her image of a SARS-CoV-2 virion was taken with a transmission EM, which fires electrons through the specimen to reveal the structure, producing a two-dimensional image.

It was prepared using what is called the negative staining method, which enhances the contrast of the specimen. It’s among the oldest and most widely used EM imaging techniques and produces relatively quick results.

Instead of using visible light, electron microscopes fire an accelerated beam of electrons at the specimen. As electrons have a much shorter wavelength, they can deliver higher magnification and better resolution, producing much more detailed imagery.

All electron microscope images come out in greyscale with colouring added later.

While colour is used in research to highlight certain features, Crameri says it’s also added with an eye to making something that will catch the public’s attention.

“I didn’t want to pick red, for example, because red is a sort of alarmist colour,” she says, explaining her choices. “So I asked my colleague what colour she liked and she said burnt orange.”

So burnt orange it became and Crameri chose the complementary colour — which was a blue — to colour the background, allowing the virion to pop out more.

The image is similar to one in a series of images produced by Roberts, with assistance from Andrew Leis on February 7.

It shows a single virion, with its distinctive spike proteins clearly visible. This too, is a negative stain image captured on a transmission EM.

“If you look at the first images that came out, they were pretty crappy, to be honest,” he says. “It’s through fine-tuning the virus growth and tweaking that we managed to get some really amazing particles.”

Roberts chose to colour the yellow-orange hues with a dark background to reflect the danger posed. The background is what he calls the peacock effect — a purple, blue and green gradient that reflects the bird’s plumage.

Limited diagnostic value

Another type of virus imaging is one produced using a scanning electron microscope (SEM), which is not a piece of equipment used by either Crameri or Roberts.

As the name suggests, it scans the surface of an object rather than looking through it. And it gives a much more contoured, and — after colours are applied — textured, effect.

Scanning EMs were used to take images like the one below produced by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) by its Integrated Research Facility.

Each of the yellow dots on the image below is a coronavirus particle and corresponds to the images of the single virus particles shown above that were captured by Sandy Crameri and Jason Roberts.

This image shows a cell taken from a patient sample (in blue) heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus particles.

Roberts says the scanning EM has limited diagnostic value when researching a new virus.

“Whilst the images from NIAID are interesting visually, they are not high enough resolution to give any real structural information regarding the virus,” he says.

Scanning EM micrographs of SARS-Cov-2 virions budding from a cell.

NIAID, which is headed by Dr Anthony Fauci, one of US President Donald Trump’s chief advisers during the current coronavirus crisis, has produced a series of stunning scanning EM of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

A new frontier in microscopy

Roberts is also using a process known as cryogenic electron microscopy — or cryo-EM for short — an advanced molecular imaging technique.

The 2017 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to three scientists for their work in developing cryo-EM, which, according to the citation, had “moved biochemistry into a new era”.

Although the technique was developed in the years between the 1970s and 1990s, it’s only in more recent times that the technology has caught up, allowing the images to be transformed into sophisticated 3D models.

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

The process involves snap-freezing the virus in a thin layer of ice about 1,000th of a human hair thick, essentially capturing the specimen in suspended animation.

Roberts produced this image, which shows a single virion suspended in that ice layer, which appears as the darker background area.

With cryo-EM imaging, it is also possible to combine thousands of these pictures together — all taken at slightly different angles — to form a three-dimensional image, or tomogram.

Tomography is the T in CT imaging, sometimes known as CAT scanning, which produces a cross-sectional image of anatomy and is a form of diagnostic imaging used by doctors.

The only difference is that EM uses electrons instead of x-rays.

Roberts says tomography using cryo-EM images is a recent technique and is the process his team is currently using to build their models.

“It will give you a very good idea of how the virus is laid out and what’s its generalised structure.”

This image, below, is an example of a tomogram taken by Roberts on April 17.

It shows virus particle cores, coloured red, encased in their yellow-coloured viral envelopes.

The parts coloured green and purple are part of the host cell, which is from an animal kidney.

One of the virus particles can be seen exiting the cell in a process known as budding, which is a form of replication.

This is a short 3D-effect video of the tomogram which shows that same slice of infected cell (as the image above).

It was produced by stitching together 126 individual two-dimensional EM images taken at different angles.

The thousands of EM images collected become parts of a jigsaw puzzle, enabling scientists to piece together the virus’s atomic structure.

That will then help to explain its tactics — its strategy for entering and exiting the cell, how it reproduces and what its weaknesses are.

Researchers can then either use existing drugs or develop new drugs to try and disrupt those viral processes.

The key lies in those atoms, Roberts says.

“Once you understand the atomic structure of a virus, you have a pretty good idea of how to knock it over.”


  • Reporting: Stephen Hutcheon
  • Design and production: Alex Palmer
  • Images courtesy of Jason Roberts / VIDRL – Doherty Institute (with technical assistance from Andrew Leis / Bio21 Institute), Sandy Crameri / CSIRO and NIAID-RML.

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First posted

April 28, 2020 05:01:29

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Doctors fighting coronavirus want governments to reveal how low mask and gown supplies are


March 26, 2020 17:47:30

Australia’s top doctors have called on the federal and state governments to be transparent about how low the supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) — such as masks, gowns and gloves — actually are.

Key points:

  • Paul Torzillo, executive clinical director at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, wants authorities to be upfront about PPE stock levels
  • Melbourne GP Mukesh Heiko says he is almost out of gowns and masks and is scared
  • The Federal Government has promised to source an extra 30 million medical masks within two weeks

Hospitals and GP clinics across the nation are trying to conserve PPE. Medical professionals are being told stocks are already low, but said they are not being told how low.

“Governments and ministries need to be transparent about what the situation is. What are their stocks, what are we doing to get more stocks?” Paul Torzillo, executive clinical director at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, said.

“I don’t how much [stock there is] and I don’t think anyone else in the frontline really has that knowledge.

“I think there ought to be a lot clearer guidelines at the state and Commonwealth level.”

‘We are putting our lives at risk’

GP Mukesh Heiko is almost out of gowns and masks at his Melbourne clinic where he has been testing patients for coronavirus in the car park.

He has tried ordering more stock from his normal supplier but they are out too.

“I’m outraged. And I’m also really scared. We are putting our lives at risk,” Dr Heiko said.

“We are the frontline of general practitioners in this space. Unfortunately, we are completely ignored and neglected by the state health authorities and [do] not seem to be any part of the planning process.

“We have had no encouragement; we’ve had no support. We’ve had no equipment, that’s all being saved for the hospitals. Yet we are expected to keep people out of hospitals, to do as much as we can in our clinics.”

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

‘Staff are very scared on the frontline’

The majority of Australia’s PPE is imported from China but there are major shortages worldwide. In Italy, Spain and China, the failure to protect health workers has resulted in thousands of staff being infected.

“A lot of the staff are very scared on the frontline,” Melbourne surgeon Sushil Pant said.

“We are all going to see colleagues around us who fall ill and who may not make it.

“Although we are willing and able now, it won’t take much for our frontline staff to be unable to perform their jobs, and eventually perhaps [be] unwilling because they’re so scared.”

Australia’s only local mask manufacturing company is Med-Con near Shepparton, Victoria.

The Federal Government has sent 14 Australian Defence Force personnel to join the production line to ramp up the supply of masks and other medical items.

“Prior to this we probably had about 5 per cent of the Australian market, we were making about maybe 2 million masks a year,” Med-Con chief executive Steven Csiszar said.

“All of a sudden now we’re potentially looking at, with added machines, making as much as 50 million masks a year.”

The Federal Government has promised to source an extra 30 million medical masks within two weeks.

In a statement, a NSW Health spokesperson said a statewide strategy was being implemented to ensure all medical staff had PPE.

“NSW Health is working around the clock to move stock around the state and ensure that regional areas have timely access to required PPE,” the spokesperson said.

At a press conference, Queensland’s Chief Medical Officer Jeannette Young said there was “sufficient personal protective equipment to make sure all our health staff in our public health system have what they need to do their jobs”.












First posted

March 26, 2020 17:27:57

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