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Australian News

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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Local News - Victoria

Sisters star in Royal Melbourne Show’s virtual sheep contest


The sisters, whose family runs a 255-hectare, 1600-head sheep farm at Cavendish, north of Hamilton, watched videos of rams being paraded in footage recorded at three properties: one near Horsham, one in South Gippsland and one at Tintern Grammar in East Ringwood.

The sisters then had to present, in their own short videos, their assessments of the animals’ health, conformation with breed characteristics and appearance.

Simon and Kate Thomas with daughters Lexi, Emma and Imogen.

Simon and Kate Thomas with daughters Lexi, Emma and Imogen.Credit:James Mepham

“They were brilliant for their ages, very thorough with their explanations and confident,” said Bron Ellis, one of the event judges.

The girls’ father Simon Thomas was proud that Imogen won the 12 to 15 age group in her judging of short-wool texel sheep.

Lexi won the under-12 category, judging a long-wool breed, romney, that she hadn’t previously known much about.

Mr Thomas said Emma competed against children almost twice her age in the under-12 section, judging Wiltshire horn “cleanskins”, which shed wool naturally.

Emi Hughes, from One Tree Hill in South Australia, won the 16 to 19 age group.

Mr Thomas said the winners’ prizes were free tickets to next year’s Royal Melbourne Show, and entering the contest had built the girls’ confidence, “knowing they can do a video and submit it, and they learnt about presentation and following timelines”.

In terms of sheep knowledge, “they haven’t just fluked this. Every show they go to, they watch the sheep being judged and take notes. It’s a good reward for effort. I think that’s what they’ve learnt”.

The Thomases have lived in near-isolation since last summer.

All 15 agricultural shows they usually attend were cancelled, as were Cavendish’s football and netball seasons, the village’s redgum festival and even school events.

But for their farm, “it’s probably the best season we’ve ever had”, Mr Thomas said, with good early rains bringing pasture growth, followed by a mild winter.

“Everyone you speak to is saying, ‘We would have had a champion sheep this year [had shows been running],’ because everything was looking that good,” he said.

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AFL confirms ‘virtual’ 2020 Brownlow Medal count because of coronavirus restrictions


The AFL has announced the 2020 Brownlow Medal count will be conducted as a “virtual event” with no standalone ceremony because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The AFL’s best and fairest award ceremony is traditionally held as a gala event in Melbourne featuring more than 1,000 guests on the Monday evening prior to the grand final.

The league released a statement on Wednesday evening confirming it had opted for a “made-for-TV event” to take place on October 18, which is the Sunday before the grand final.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan will be in Queensland to read the votes on the evening, with the Seven Network to broadcast the event.

“The Charles Brownlow Medal is our game’s highest individual honour and continues to be the most prestigious night of the AFL calendar,” AFL commercial manager Kylie Rogers said in a statement.

“It’s incredibly difficult to get people together in indoor event spaces in a responsible manner given the current environment, and the community’s safety has been at the forefront of every decision we’ve made.

“While the glamour of the red carpet will be missed this year, we are looking forward to delivering a special format made specifically for the broadcast audience at home, so our fans can continue to celebrate their heroes and their achievements this year.”

A man in a lairy suit holds the train of a ridiculously long white dress belonging to his partner.
The red carpet has been a feature of the Brownlow Medal ceremony for a number of years.(AAP: Julian Smith)

The decision to alter the Brownlow Medal count is the latest change to tradition the AFL has been forced to make in light of coronavirus.

The grand final will be held at the Gabba in Brisbane on October 24, the first time the season decider will be staged outside Melbourne in the VFL/AFL’s history.

It will also be played at night, instead of in the traditional afternoon timeslot.

A Brisbane Lions AFL player runs with the ball in both hands in front of his teammates against the Adelaide Crows.
Lions star Lachie Neale (centre) is expected by many pundits to take out the Brownlow Medal.(AAP: Darren England)

Brisbane Lions midfielder Lachie Neale is the favourite to win the Brownlow Medal award, which is being handed out for the 93rd time.

Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe is the reigning Brownlow Medal winner, having claimed the honour for the second time in his career last season.



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Bioinsider presents “Diagnostic Landscape For COVID19” virtual meeting


Bioinsider LLC (Bioinsider) will present the “Diagnostic Landscape for COVID-19” virtual meeting on Thursday, June 18, 2020.

The event, chaired by Dr. Karl V. Voelkerding, medical director of Genomics and Bioinformatics at ARUP Laboratories, will feature talks on molecular, serology, rapid testing, clinical considerations when testing, and properly handling the pandemic with the current testing capacity.

Attendees will have access to seven scientific talks, a closing panel discussion, two-speed networking sessions, and face-to-face breakout discussions.

The virtual event is the first in Bioinsider’s four-part “Together as One COVID-19” Series, with all net proceeds from the series going to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization.

To register, visit https://www.bioinsidernetwork.com/registration/meeting-1-reg/.

“The Diagnostic Landscape for COVID-19 event will provide a platform for experts and decision-makers in the diagnostic field to share ideas, scientific findings, and shape the direction of future innovations and testing development around COVID-19,” said Bioinsider Founder and CEO Dr. Ngoc (Emily) Le.

Having an open platform such as this can speed up collaborations, address the current COVID-19 diagnostic testing need, and help us quickly get back to a new normal. With the influx in COVID-19 diagnostic tests, it is critical that we have the opportunity to examine and evaluate different testing methods and their performances.”

Event speakers include experts from:

  • The University of Utah,
  • ARUP Laboratories,
  • The University of Maryland,
  • Wadsworth Center,
  • Mayo Clinics,
  • Brown University,
  • LabCorp, and
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Following speaker presentations, attendees may join one of six breakout discussions.

The event is available to both academic/non-profit and commercial attendees, $25 and $50 respectively. Face-to-face breakout sessions will be limited to 15 participants each and are available for an additional cost of $25.

Members of the scientific and medical communities are encouraged to register early, as speed networking and breakout sessions are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, visit www.bioinsidernetwork.com/registration.

To view full event details, final program, breakout discussion, and future events, visit www.bioinsidernetwork.com.

About Bioinsider

Founded in 2020, Bioinsider LLC is a group of like-minded individuals dedicated to creating a quality-driven, unbiased virtual meeting platform for communication among the scientific community, policymakers, and business leaders.

The goal of these events is to create connections, enrich knowledge, foster collaborations, drive the success of research, and spark innovations. For more information, visit bioinsidernetwork.com.

About Dr. Ngoc ‘Emily’ Le, Founder and CEO, Bioinsider

Dr. Le received her Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and spent years working as a content conference producer and led the product development analytics group at Cambridge Healthtech Institute.

She has nine years of experience working with academic, healthcare, biopharma, and executive professionals in technical-scientific and business settings. She has diverse knowledge in diagnostics, drug development, commercial strategy, and various therapeutic areas, including immuno-oncology, and gene and cell therapies.





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Local News - Victoria

‘Virtual cross country’ races take off amid inter-school sports ban


But they remain off the agenda until further notice, even as schools prepare for normal programming in most other areas from June 9.

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The Department of Education and Training gave schools a checklist of prohibited activities as the first wave of students headed back last week.

The list is depressingly long: assemblies, after-school activities, excursions, inter-school sports, school camps, concerts, library borrowing and “any other activities deemed unsafe due to health and wellbeing concerns” are out.

Physical education classes will be permitted, but should be conducted outside, or with a cap on numbers if held indoors.

Siena, a committed netballer, says many of her classmates are eager to get back into school sport, and not just for the physical exercise they are craving.

In a mentally draining year for VCE students, sport provides a much needed stress release, Siena says.

“A lot of girls at my year level, they really just enjoy the break of being able to do sports, because it’s not just about being good at sport, it’s about having a balance of doing other things with friends rather than just studying constantly.”


One competitive event was added to Victoria’s otherwise barren school sports calendar last week: “virtual cross country”.

The initial take-up has been overwhelming, the Department of Education and Training said.

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A total of 3880 students at 188 schools have entered the virtual cross country event since it was launched by School Sport Victoria two weeks ago.

Students who participate must complete a defined distance but can walk or run and are free to set their own course, using a phone app to time themselves. Results are posted online.

Meredith Prime, chief executive of Girls Sport Victoria, said more than 1000 girls competed in the organisation’s separate virtual cross country event last week.

An inter-school “championship event” is scheduled for this week, although Ms Prime said it would look very different from previous years when girls gathered in droves to race each other around a large public park.

“They could run up and down the street on the footpath if they wanted to; they could go down to the local oval and run around that,” Ms Prime said.

A spokesperson for the department said it would continue to take advice from Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton in deciding when to lift bans on competitive or contact sport.

“We want students to remain active during this time and schools have been provided advice to ensure this can happen safely,” the spokesperson said.

“All inter-school sporting events and competitions have been postponed until further notice, however schools are getting their students involved in virtual sporting activities and non-contact sports.”

Catholic and independent schools have so far fallen into line with the department’s directive on school sports, even though some of them made their own calls on when to begin and end remote learning.

Catholic Education Victoria chief executive Jim Miles said that on the advice of Professor Sutton, Catholic schools have cancelled or postponed all sports competitions, camps and excursions that cannot be delivered digitally.

Fintona principal Rachael Falloon similarly said the school was “at the mercy of the government and they’re making decisions based on good health advice”.

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Formula E driver Daniel Abt disqualified and fined for cheating with a ring-in during virtual race


Audi Formula E driver Daniel Abt has been found guilty of sporting misconduct for getting a professional gamer to compete under his name in an official eSport race.

The German, who apologised for “having called in outside help”, was disqualified, ordered to pay 10,000 euros ($16,680) to charity, and stripped of all points in the Race at Home Challenge, which features drivers using simulators remotely.

“I did not take it as seriously as I should have,” the 27-year-old said.

“I am especially sorry about this because I know how much work has gone into this project on the part of the Formula E organisation. I am aware that my offence has a bitter aftertaste but it was never meant with any bad intention.”

Pro gamer Lorenz Hoerzing, Abt’s ring-in, was disqualified from all future rounds of the separate Challenge Grid competition.

The 15-lap race around a virtual Berlin Tempelhof track was won by Britain’s Oliver Rowland for Nissan e.dams, with Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne second for Mercedes.

During the race, Vandoorne made it clear that he suspected somebody else was driving under Abt’s name and pretending to be him. He was backed up by Jean-Eric Vergne, a two-time champion in real life.

“Please ask Daniel Abt to put his Zoom next time he’s driving, because like Stoffel said I’m pretty sure he wasn’t in,” the Frenchman said.

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Abt, who had not featured on the virtual podium in any of the previous races, did not appear for online post-race interviews.

Formula E’s real-life series leader Antonio Felix da Costa appeared less concerned, however.

“It’s just a game guys. We all know Daniel as a fun guy and a joker…” the Portuguese driver said on Twitter.

Formula E did not explain how the deception had happened, but the-race.com website, which runs a popular series of virtual races with Torque Esports, said it understood organisers had cross-referenced the IP addresses of competitors.

They realised that Abt, who had qualified second, could not have been at the wheel.

Formula E is a real-world competition for electric-powered race cars.

During the coronavirus pandemic the action has shifted online, with Formula E drivers competing from their homes in isolation.

The drivers are usually visible in their simulators on Zoom, but the-race said the face of the driver purporting to be Abt was hidden by some equipment, while his Twitch stream stopped working.

Vandoorne was seen calling Abt’s mobile, but he did not answer.

The Challenge Grid is made up “gamers and influencers” competing for a prize of real-life track time in a Formula E car at a race weekend.

The disqualification meant series leader and compatriot Pascal Wehrlein moved up from fourth to third.

Reuters/ABC



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Virtual memorial staged by family for slain mum and her three kids


A virtual memorial is being held for Brisbane mother Hannah Clarke and her three children killed in an horrific domestic violence attack earlier this year.

Ms Clarke’s brother Nathaniel released an emotional video messaging inviting people to take part in the remembrance today, three months on from the tragedy.

“(Tuesday) will mark three months since my sister Hannah and her three children … were killed in a horrific act of domestic violence,” Mr Clarke said.

“To honour their beautiful memories, we are hosting a virtual memorial on Facebook at Small Steps 4 Hannah.

“We are doing this also to raise awareness for Domestic Violence Month in Queensland.”

Ms Clarke and her children, Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, were in the family car on the way to school on February 19 when they were ambushed by her estranged husband, Rowan Baxter.

He doused the car in petrol and set it alight. The children died at the scene and Ms Clarke succumbed to her injuries in hospital later that day.

Baxter died at the scene from self-inflicted wounds.

The horrific incident sparked an outpouring of grief from around Australia and renewed calls for more action on domestic violence.

In the days after, Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll revealed the courage and heroism Ms Clarke showed in the moments before her death.

“Right through to her passing, Hannah showed amazing courage and heroism, ensuring that she gave our police and emergency services at the scene a detailed statement of the horrific events that unfolded, leading to the death of her three children and ultimately herself,” Commissioner Carroll said.

“Hannah’s determination to provide our police the information they needed to ensure justice should be served truly encapsulates the sort of person Hannah was.

“She was strong, she was determined, she was courageous.”

RELATED: Tears and anger after unspeakable tragedy

The Clarke family is encouraging people to take a photograph or record a video of something that makes them happy, saying it could be “your favourite place, person or thing”.

“Incorporate the word HALT into the photo or video … then uploaded on to Facebook or Instagram and tag Small Steps 4 Hannah along with #HALTdv”.

HALT represents the initials of Ms Clarke and her children.



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Local News - Victoria

Hearts to ache on a virtual Mother’s Day


Victoria’s state of emergency ends the day after Mother’s Day. Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed on Thursday that the government would loosen restrictions in some way on Monday, but ruled out doing so before then.

“It’s just devastating. I never get to see them all together,” Ms Minchin said.

“It’s just really disappointing because it [the announcement on restrictions] is too late on Monday. Why not Friday or Saturday? It’s just sad.”

In NSW, two adults and their children can visit other households and in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed as long as they keep 1.5 metres apart. Two people are able to visit other homes in Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT.

Victoria has been under pressure from the federal government to lift restrictions so that schools can go back, but Premier Daniel Andrews has refused to back down. Victorians have largely been supportive of the decision.

National cabinet will meet on Friday to finalise a guide to a staged relaxation of social restrictions.

Ms Minchin said she had been pleased with Mr Andrews’ response to the pandemic, but that the timing of the announcement had angered her.

“It’s hard to accept it when everyone else in other states has a more lenient outlook,” she said.

“It’s very important what everyone’s been doing, but you know whether you should be seeing your family or not.

“And I would never put my family at risk and they would never put me at risk.”

In a press conference on Thursday, Mr Andrews warned that easing restrictions too early could lead to an even harder lockdown.

“Everyone wants to be with their mum, but let’s be really cautious, let’s be really careful not to be spreading the virus,” he said.

“I’m not going to criticise anyone for wanting to see their mum, but we always knew May 11 was the day after Mother’s Day, that ain’t gonna change.”

Ms Minchin will instead video-call her family, including her 12 and nine-year-old grandsons.

Lalor’s Jess King has been in lockdown with husband David Pepa and their one-year-old son Ryan since just before social-distancing laws came into effect six weeks ago.

She is understanding of Victoria’s restrictions, saying the measures have been taken to protect the health of the state’s most vulnerable.

To mark Mother’s Day, Ms King has ordered lunch for herself and mother to share virtually over FaceTime. She has also sent flowers.

Although she is making the most of the day, she says it’s sometimes harder trying to celebrate without being able to hug family, including on her son’s first birthday on Wednesday.

“I mean, it sucks. It’s really, really challenging,” she said.

“But we made this decision and we’re following the rules and … the guidance of the government because we know that they are making the decisions based on medical advice from professionals.

“Once we’re all out of it, we’re all going to be healthy and happy and we’ll celebrate and have a good time together … and it’ll be so much sweeter to see each other again.”

There are only four reasons Victorians can leave their homes: food and supplies, medical care, exercise, and work or education. So how can we mark Mother’s Day?

  • You can’t visit family members who don’t live with you, but you may drop off food and supplies to people, including your mother, for care and compassionate reasons.
  • You can exercise with your mother, so long as you keep 1.5 metres apart. However, Victorians have been advised not to drive far from their homes, so she’d need to live close.
  • You can hold a virtual lunch, using video conference services Zoom, House Party or Google Hangouts.
  • You can send flowers, chocolates or gifts.

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Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin takes advantage of last-lap chaos to win IndyCar virtual race


Scott McLaughlin was supposed to leave Australia for Indianapolis this month to make his IndyCar debut on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

With sports on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, the two-time Supercars champion saw his IndyCar plans postponed.

Pole-sitter McLaughlin instead settled for a virtual victory on the oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after a wild finish in which most of the leaders crashed as they rushed toward the chequered flag.

“Unbelievable,” McLaughlin said.

“I was literally just hoping there was going to be a wreck at the end.

“I thought we were going to be third, and then the three wrecked and we won.”

It was his second win of IndyCar’s iRacing six-race series.

McLaughlin celebrated in the seat of his simulator in Australia with a glass of cold milk, a nod to the traditional victory celebration at the Indianapolis 500.

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The New Zealander declined to pour it over his head while sitting in his expensive rig.

Australian Will Power was 12th and finished second in the overall standings after the six races, behind McLaughlin.

Formula One driver Lando Norris, winner of last week’s IndyCar virtual race, was headed for what appeared a 1-2-3 podium sweep for the Arrow McLaren SP entries on the final lap.

But Norris ran into the back of Simon Pagenaud in what appeared to be a deliberate move from the Frenchman, a two-time iRacing winner and the defending Indy 500 champion, to take both out of contention.

“Cause a guy gets a bit salty that a non-IndyCar driver is about to win an Indy race … just ruins it,” Norris said.

A blue car leads the field out starting a virtual IndyCar race, with the virtual stands packed.
Scott McLaughlin started on pole for the Indy175 virtual race.(AP/iRacing IndyCar)

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Marcus Ericsson held the lead before being tagged by Pato O’Ward at the final corner before Oliver Askew and Santino Ferrucci crashed in a drag race to the line.

McLaughlin’s victory was reminiscent of Australian short track speed skater Steven Bradbury, who took gold in the 1,000m at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics when his opponents were caught up in a last-corner pile-up.

“That was wild! Did my best ‘Bradbury’ and won the Indy 175! Thanks to Pirtek for the support, proud to do it for them and Team Penske! Thanks to Indycar and @JayRFrye for allowing me to have some fun and race some cars!” McLaughlin tweeted.

McLaughlin and Team Penske teammate Pagenaud won twice, and Norris and Sage Karam were the other winners of this series created for content while IndyCar is on hold.

Conor Daly finished second in Saturday’s race and was followed by Ferrucci, who figured there would be a lot of angry drivers after the 175-mile (282-kilometre) race.

“So many people are going to be salty over that,” Ferrucci said.

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