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AFL Brownlow Medal ceremony goes virtual, but the footy stars and their partners still rock red carpet looks


The Brownlow Medal 2020 ceremony usually takes place in Melbourne, but this year’s event was spread out across Australia.

The bulk of the players in the Queensland bubble were at an event at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast.

And there were events in Perth and Adelaide, as well as in Sydney and Melbourne.

AFL partners and players are shown across eight different screens with a scoreboard at the bottom on the left and right.
AFL players and their partners at Carrarra stadium, the SCG, the Gabba, Adelaide Oval, Perth Stadium and the Melbourne studio.(Supplied: Channel 7)

Things may be all over the place due to coronavirus, but the footy stars and their partners still delivered looks — even though attendees were reportedly told they didn’t need to follow a strict black tie dress code this year.

Here’s who dressed up and who didn’t (spoiler alert: everyone did).

The Brisbane Lions’ Lachie Neale and partner Julie didn’t hold back, with the new first lady of footy donning a sheer floor-length gown and tousled waves.

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And Hawthorn’s Jack Gunston rocked a suit and a face mask, captioning his Instagram outfit post: “Brownlow Medal Victorian Style.”

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Meanwhile, Melbourne’s Christian Petracca and his partner Bella were #Brownlow ready in Brisbane.

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The Brisbane Lions’ Charlie Cameron went for a suave dark velvet ensemble, with his partner Caitlin Seeto in an equally elegant black number.

Charlie Cameron smiles as he holds his partner Caitlin by the waist. They both wear black.
Charlie Cameron, with partner Caitlin Seeto, was up for the mark of the year gong but went home empty handed.(AAP Image: Darren England)

West Coast Eagles player Luke Shuey and his partner Dani were dressed to the nines.

Shuey said he was disappointed not to be playing this weekend.

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Melbourne’s Jack Viney and his wife Charlotte posed for pictures with their baby daughter Mila Grace.

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And the Sydney Swans’ Luke Parker cut a dapper figure next to partner Kate Lawrence, who stood out in a red number.

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Equally sharp were the Melbourne Demons’ Steven May and partner Briana.

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The Western Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli and Tom Libatore brought their fashion A game, both rocking up to the Gold Coast event in style.

Libatore’s suit even covered up his, “My god you’re greasy” tattoo.

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Brownlow Medal live: Lachie Neale the favourite, AFL players and partners gather for different ceremony


The 2020 Brownlow Medal is here — but not as you know it.

Follow all the glamour and drama of the night, with Brisbane’s Lachie Neale the favourite to take home the medal.

Live updates

By Dean Bilton

What do we know about tonight? 

 

While much of how tonight will work is a mystery, there are a few things we know for sure. We know that players will be gathering in little mini-Brownlow events all over the country, so as to stay in line with coronavirus restrictions. We know that Lachie Neale is the favourite. That’s about it.

  

By Dean Bilton

A Brownlow Medal night with a difference 

 

Hello one and all and welcome, on this fine Sunday night in mid-October, to the 2020 Brownlow Medal. A strange season in a strange year has tossed up a strange Brownlow night, with so many of the event’s traditions made impossible by the rona and whatnot.

 

And so we are left with… whatever this is. A rearranged and rescheduled digital ceremony that, if nothing else, should at least allow us to crown and celebrate the best player of this AFL season.

 

How will it work? Not really sure! Will everyone still be wearing the fancy clothes? Don’t know! Can anyone stop Lachie Neale from winning? Probably not! But we’re going to have some fun finding out. Stick around for the night as we navigate this peculiar COVID Brownlow together.



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Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes prove brilliant partners for Australia in routine run chase


Monday mornings shouldn’t be the time for anyone to be at their best. But nearing the end of a tough tour, it was Monday morning this week when things finally started to click for New Zealand’s cricketers.

Sent in to bat by Australian captain Meg Lanning in the second One-Day International, they didn’t collapse as they had in the first. Natalie Dodd put on a crisp 75-run opening stand with Sophie Devine, who then added another 93 with Amy Satterthwaite.

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Dodd has just rejoined the side after four years out, as has Satterthwaite after 18 months on maternity leave, while the captain Devine had lost her best batter Suzie Bates to injury in the previous match. The platform they built defied these difficulties.

Five wickets in the last two overs restrained the score, but 252 was a total that New Zealand would have been delighted with. It was a solid target, the biggest to be scored on Allan Border Field. It should have been tough.

Instead, Australia ran it down as though it were routine. The reason was the central partnership from Lanning and her deputy Rachael Haynes: 117 runs in 20.1 overs, at almost a run a ball.

This took the place of Lanning’s combination with the injured Ellyse Perry. In ODIs from 2014 to 2019, the pair made 1,809 runs in 24 partnerships at a ridiculous average of 95.

Eight of those partnerships went past a century, six others past fifty. Opponents excited by Australia’s first two wickets have then been faced with the seeming inevitability of Lanning and Perry endlessly churning out runs.

In the years while that partnership was taking shape, Haynes was out of the team. She was dropped in England in 2013, and only got back in 2017 in a lucky break as an injury replacement. Soon she was deputising as captain when Lanning underwent shoulder surgery.

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But having both settled back in the team, their unions have become a feature. Now, with Perry absent thanks to an injury of her own, the Lanning-Haynes stand is doing the job that the Lanning-Perry stand once did. In Saturday’s first ODI, it was worth 65 runs chasing 180, backed up on Monday by the 117.

In total, Lanning and Haynes have now scored 1,107 ODI runs in each other’s company. More pertinent are their runs since the Haynes comeback: seven innings for 653 runs averaging 93. Those really are Lanning-Perry numbers.

Monday’s effort was a true partnership. Having lost Alyssa Healy for a fast 21, Haynes stayed aggressive. Chasing a sizeable score, it was important to keep taking chunks out of it, rather than letting the required rate build up.

That gave Lanning the luxury of chilling out. She defended as she pleased, took the odd single, looked to the boundary when the ball was exactly where she wanted it to be.

Haynes in contrast manufactured what she wanted. In the space of Lanning’s first two boundaries, Haynes hit the rope seven times and cleared it once. She was especially harsh on anything short, pulling savagely over the leg side, or stepping across to wider balls to slash through point.

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Part of Australia’s plan to was to target leg-spinner Amelia Kerr, to throw her off her game, and Haynes duly skipped up and down the wicket attacking five of Kerr’s first six balls but hitting each to the field. The batter gave a frustrated shrug and smile at the end of the over but followed up by coming down the wicket in Kerr’s next over to loft four over long-on.

By the time Haynes hit a catch to cover for 82, Australia had 154 from 159 balls, well ahead of the run rate and in position to cruise home.

She had also helped Lanning reach 46 from 51, primed to take the wheel. The constant aggression of Haynes’s strokeplay had kept New Zealand nervous throughout.

Lanning unsurprisingly disregarded a few more wickets falling and took the chase home. Always one to say the right things about team ethos, she wanted her batting partner Nicola Carey to hit the winning runs despite her own score sitting on 97.

Meg Lanning holds her bat above her head in her right hand as she runs between the wickets
Meg Lanning brought the chase home for Australia, completing her 14th ODI century with the winning runs.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

With five overs and four wickets to spare, Carey rightly ignored that instruction after her early attempt at a single was misfielded to concede a boundary to leave Australia three short of the target.

That left Lanning to win the match, raise a 14th ODI century, and secure the Rose Bowl trophy, all with a boundary glided behind point. Those 14 tons had taken her 82 innings, faster even than the freakish Virat Kohli with 84.

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Her run-chase record against New Zealand accounts for several of those hundreds: it now reads 11, 72, 103, 112, 5, 114, 127, 44, 104 not out, 48, 48, 62 not out, and 101 not out. The lowest of those scores was the only match that Australia lost.

Four of those innings involved big partnerships with one particular player, and another three involved partnerships with another. The Lanning-Perry stand, followed by the Lanning-Haynes stand. Either would make a good name for a piece of architecture at a cricket ground of the future.



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In times like these, friends matter as much as intimate partners


“I think this is a mistake; for many of us now the relationships with our friends are our most enduring and important, lifelong and deep relationships that we have.

“Just because people aren’t in a romantic relationship with someone doesn’t mean they wouldn’t treat that person as their ‘intimate’ partner.”

She is referring to one of the most contentious rules Victorians have obeyed during the pandemic: those in sexual relationships can continue to travel to and spend time with each other, even in group living situations, while those in close platonic relationships have not even been able to sit with one friend on a park bench.

These relationships people have with friends are as psychologically meaningful and deep as romantic relationships.

Dr Katie Greenaway, senior lecturer in psychology, Melbourne University

The introduction of the so-called “singles bubble” a week ago allowed those living solo to choose one person with whom to spend time, but if that person lives with others the friend cannot be under the same roof with the housemates.

Greenaway is among several who have raised this barrier since the “bubble” was launched after pressure from those living alone months into isolation. She says it matters because “these relationships people have with friends are as psychologically meaningful and deep as romantic relationships”.

She is among the fastest-growing demographic among Australian households, solo dwellers, which demographer Hugh Mackay calls “the single most significant demographic statistic about Australian society”. He says the rapid rise of living alone has not been well enough factored in to social planning and the cracks are showing in the pandemic.

“I liken it to climate change,” he says, “We know what’s causing it, we know it’s coming and we haven’t really done anything much [to best serve those in it and society].”

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“Households have been shrinking for the last 100 years … It’s a symptom of how dramatically our society is changing that the ABS predicted a few years ago that by 2030 [sole-person households] would be one in every three households,” he said. “Well over 20 per cent of the population have lived alone at some time.”

Some of those living alone do so voluntarily and very much enjoy their independence, while some are involuntarily alone, an arrangement many move in and out of.

Those living alone involuntarily are more likely to experience loneliness, but in the pandemic even those who choose to fly solo may be finding it very difficult, says Mackay, whose new book The Inner Self examines questions of our authentic identity.

“They are experiencing social isolation which they didn’t seek,” he says. “When we choose to live alone we do it on the assumption we can connect with people when we want to.”

When people, particularly those living alone, are experiencing social isolation, a fundamental human need is being frustrated.

Hugh Mackay, demographer and author of ‘The Inner Self’

“Social isolation is a dangerous state for … humans because we absolutely need each other, we are that kind of species. We need groups to sustain and maintain our mental health.”

Mackay says even before the pandemic “as a society we’ve been really neglectful of the needs of involuntary solo householders”.

“The most basic of all our human needs – apart from survival stuff like food, drink and sleep – is our need to be taken seriously, to be acknowledged, appreciated, recognised. When people, particularly those living alone, are experiencing social isolation, a fundamental human need is being frustrated.

“It’s no wonder it can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. In the criminal justice system solitary confinement is the worst punishment we can think of for a prisoner, and here we are particularly in Victoria we’ve put 25 per cent of households into it 23 hours a day.”

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A survey of 14,000 people soon to be published in the Medical Journal of Australia found people living alone, especially young people who had lost their jobs, were among those at highest risk of anxiety or depression during the pandemic. Lack of human engagement was taking a serious toll.

Those with the greatest likelihood of experiencing poor mental health were people living alone, those having lost a job, those being fearful of contracting COVID-19 and those “experiencing the restrictions as having very adverse effects on their lives” – many living alone could be in all of those groups, according to Jane Fisher, professor of Global Health at Monash University.

“The group who are experiencing the most difficulty with this is young people who might perhaps be yearning for a partner or are students or international students and haven’t yet got one and who are not choosing to live like this,” said Fisher, a co-author of the study Mental health of people in Australia in the first month of COVID-19 restrictions: a national survey.

Katie Greenaway says it's time to acknowledge deep and lasting friendships as being as significant as other loving relationships.

Katie Greenaway says it’s time to acknowledge deep and lasting friendships as being as significant as other loving relationships.Credit:Justin McManus

“For those people, social isolation is very costly; there’s a big difference between going for a walk with one other person for an hour and having a multi-stranded social life that allows you to engage and meet with others.”

“The ‘bubble’ is welcome but not sufficient. In our efforts to restore things we need to focus on mechanisms enabling everyone to see others, but especially for those in this group,” she said.

“They need to be able to re-engage in purposeful activity and social engagement in groups of more than one other person and it should be a priority as we lift regulations.”

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, a psychiatrist and director of the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre, said she was seeing an “unprecedented” number of people suffering anxiety and depression triggered by pandemic living. “A lot of them are women presenting with first-time-ever anxiety; a sense of hopelessness and helplessness,” she says.

Though there are a minority of more introverted people who enjoy isolation, the “sense of never-endingness and time distortion” could be extremely difficult for many living alone, who miss the chance to debrief with face-to-face downtime conversations.

There’s a big difference between going for a walk with one other person … and a social life that allows you to engage and meet with others.

Professor Jane Fisher, Monash University Centre for Global Health

“It’s interesting that after the announcement of the extension of lockdown in Victoria a number of people went into a sort of panic state: ‘I can’t do anything about this, I have no power over this, it’s something that is imposed on me and I can’t do anything about it’,” she said.

This may be experienced as “I feel like I’m in a tunnel and there’s no end, a claustrophobic shortness of breath because of the sense this might go on for weeks.”

Kulkarni advises patients feeling distressed by isolation to try to think in the short term as much as possible, to exercise regularly and stick to a routine including getting dressed for work and setting out morning tea and lunch as you would if working on site, and to communicate as much as possible with others.

People around those living alone should take time to initiate contact, says Dr Grant Blashki, lead clinical adviser for Beyond Blue. “We know loneliness is a risk factor for mental health problems; and the research shows an association with loneliness and higher rates of depression and some link with anxiety conditions as well,” he said.

For people living alone right now, “COVID-19 is the perfect storm: you’ve got lockdown, people have lost their jobs – and a job is a lot more than bread on the table, it’s about about socialising banter in the tearoom – people have lost a lot.

“A lot live more than five kilometres away from people they want to catch up with, it’s been really hard for people in Victoria,” he said.

“Telehealth has given me insight into how difficult this is and the sorts of examples I’m seeing are students who have come from interstate and can’t see family, or from overseas, workers from interstate and older people who have lost their confidence to go out.”

Greenaway says it is normal to struggle at present and has plenty of strategies for those feeling the emotional pinch of isolation: “I’m mindful of finding connections where I can [for now, virtually], for example last night I watched a movie with some friends in Brisbane and we chatted about it afterwards.”

Creating regular routines around online socialising and sticking to them, learning coping strategies to regulate your emotional response to the situation and accepting your emotions when they were challenging could also help.

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“General acceptance of emotions – labelling your emotions in terms of ‘I’m feeling sad’, or ‘I’m feeling anxious and angry’ – is a fine-grain way of coming to terms with exactly how you are feeling,” she said.

It would also help to hear deep friendships acknowledged as as important as other loving relationships.

“Of course I can have an intimate partner who is a friend. It’s strange that single people are being treated differently in these circumstances … we need to work on stigma around singledom.

“This is a massive, growing portion of the population but I’m not sure our expectations around what people’s lives should look like have caught up with what successful adulthood and relationships look like.”

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Australian Institute of Sport partners with specialists to combat eating disorders among elite athletes


At the peak of her swimming career, Jessica Smith stood on the blocks at the 2004 Athens Paralympics and felt defeated.

“I knew that mentally I wasn’t there, physically I wasn’t there, my body basically failed me, or I’d fail my body at that crucial moment,” she said.

The now UAE-based Paralympian was battling a crippling eating disorder and failed to make the finals in an event where she was expected to have a podium-finish.

She returned from the games knowing if she wanted to combat the disease, her swimming career was over.

“I knew at that point, it was a moment of life or death, in the sense that if I continued to go down the road of anorexia and bulimia, I wouldn’t be here today,” Smith recalled.

Now a mother-of-three, it took retirement to ensure recovery from her eating disorder, which she had struggled with from the age of 14.

At the time, she felt that leaving the world of competitive sport was her only option.

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“There were people there, but they weren’t really working together, I think that we realise now that it has to be a team approach,” she said.

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has acknowledged the lack of awareness in disordered eating among high-performance athletes.

The AIS’s Chief Medical Officer Dr David Hughes said there are fears athletes could be at an increased risk of developing the crippling mental illness.

“Sport attracts people who have, you know, some personality traits around perfectionism and, you know, obsessive behaviours,” Dr David Hughes said.

“Almost certainly in high performance sport there are some environments which increase a risk for those who are already vulnerable.”

That’s why this week the AIS, partnering with the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC), will make a call for action around awareness of the issue in high-performance sport.

A man wearing a blue blazer and business shirt standing outside the AIS building
Dr Hughes says each sport should have its own policy for eating disorders.(Supplied: Ian Cutmore)

The AIS has developed a position statement aimed at helping all sports and codes address the seriousness and prevalence of the disease in Australia’s most promising sports men and women.

Dr Beth Shelton, director of the NEDC, said athletes in certain sports will be more susceptible.

“High-performance sports are what they call aesthetic sports, where your appearance, weight and shape play a role in how you’re judged,” she said.

“That kind of singular focus can be really problematic.”

What’s being done about it?

The joint position statement by the AIS and NEDC will provide a toolkit for sporting organisations to better understand the signs and symptoms and improve their position to help athletes.

Dr David Hughes said the recommendation is for each sport to develop its own sport-specific disordered eating policy.

“The aim is that we have a healthier, more robust high performance system and that’s good for athletes, it’s good for their health, it’s good for their mental wellbeing and in the long run it’ll be good for performance as well,” he said.

A woman in a black swim suit sitting on a pool edge
Jessica Smith says athletes need to be worked with on an individual basis.(Supplied: Jessica Smith)

Kerry Leech is the nutrition lead for Netball Australia and said her team is aware there’s a prevalence of disordered eating among the cohort of athletes she’s dealing with.

Kerry Leech has welcomed the action being taken by the AIS and said it will be crucial to her operations moving forward.

“It will give everyone a launch pad to be able to have a look at their own response,” she said.

She said Netball Australia hoped to adapt its policy to be applicable to players at all levels.

“A response that is sport-wide, so that we can have it from our Diamonds to our development programs, and extend it out to our state sport organisations as well,” she said.

All sports and disciplines working together

Dr David Hughes said as well as providing educational resources, the AIS wants all medical professionals and coaching staff to recognise tackling eating disorders in athletes was a collaborative effort.

“So this is not just a role for doctors, not just a role for dietitians, not just a role for psychologists. Often these behaviours will be picked up by teammates, by coaches, by physiotherapy staff,” he said.

Even though Jessica Smith had a nutritionist telling her what to eat and when, she said it just wasn’t enough.

“We have to be able to work together and it really comes down to communication — being able to work with athletes on an individual basis,” she said.

“Food and what you’re eating is just the tip of the iceberg, there’s so many underlying issues that need to be addressed first.”

If you need support with an eating disorder or body image please contact the Butterfly Foundation’s National Helpline 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or support@thebutterflyfoundation.org.au



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Partners to accompany mothers for maximum of two hours after childbirth


“It’s being treated as a second class parent from day one,” she said of the new rules.

Ms Bruno-Scott is booked to give birth at the Mercy Hospital for Women in Heidelberg but wants to see if she can be sent home early, instead of spending the majority of her first days as a mother alone.

“We’ve had a good think about this, and as long as it doesn’t put me and the baby in danger, definitely early discharge is the way to go for me,” she said.

“I feel like I need a space where I can recover physically and mentally in a comfortable manner, and being alone is not where I’d want to be especially if I’m still struggling to walk around and get up from bed”.

New mothers will be able to have their partner or support person with them for a maximum of two hours, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos announced on Thursday as 403 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the state.

After a woman gives birth, her partner or support person will only be allowed to stay for a further two hours.

Ms Mikakos said the changes were “designed to strike the balance between compassion … and putting the safety of those residents and patients first”, and a government spokeswoman confirmed the change apply to both public and private hospitals.

Ms Bruno-Scott was among many expectant mothers who expressed their concerns over the changes.

Because her family are all overseas, Ms Bruno-Scott’s husband Gideon – who also has no relatives in Melbourne – is her only support in Melbourne.

“We feel he [her husband] has as much of a right as me to bond with our new born baby,” she said.

She said she could not see the logic in resticting the time partners spent with mothers and new babies.

“I completely understand the [coronavirus] concern, and I agree there shouldn’t be a coming and going of visitors,” she said. “But the chances are if he had COVID-19, then there’s a good chance I would too.”

Visiting restrictions will be tightened across Victorian hospitals and aged care facilities as case numbers continue to rise among healthcare workers, nursing home staff and residents.

Only one person can visit hospital patients and aged care home residents for one hour a day, but there will be exceptions for parents with children in hospital and visitors of patients in palliative care.

Other exceptions include nominated mental health supporters, people providing language support and people visiting patients in life-threatening situations.

“This addresses some of the concerns we have seen in relation to at least one health service I’m aware of in the past week,” said Ms Mikakos. “We ask for Victorians’ understanding at this challenging time.”

At least 450 healthcare workers have tested positive since the pandemic began, and the number of infected aged care residents and staff has risen rapidly in recent weeks.

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Bain Capital and Cyrus Capital Partners final two bidders for airline


Administrators have announced Bain Capital and Cyrus Capital Partners as the final two bidders left in the race to buy Virgin Australia.

The two US-based private equity firms are “well-funded” and have “deep aviation experience”, according to Deloitte administrator Vaughan Strawbridge.

“We will now spend the coming weeks facilitating in-depth bidder engagement with the stakeholders of the business and work closely with both preferred bidders in the lead up to binding final offers being received,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

The two bidders were chosen from a pool of five interested buyers, who held talks with Deloitte over the weekend.

They now have until June 12 to lodge binding bids for the airline, with Deloitte determined to sell Virgin by June 30.

RELATED: Virgin Australia goes into administration

RELATED: Up to eight bidders expected for ailing airline

Bain Capital is being advised by former Jetstar chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka, while Cyrus Capital was involved with the launch of Virgin America with Richard Branson, the Courier Mail reports.

Virgin Australia was almost $7 billion in debt when it went into voluntary administration in late April as the coronavirus pandemic halted the global aviation industry.

The airline appealed for a $1.4 billion loan to stay afloat, but the government refused to bail out the majority foreign-owned company.

About 1,000 staff were made redundant before the carrier went into voluntary administration, while 8,000 others were furloughed, leaving just 1,000 still working.

– With wires



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