Month: September 2018

Vic ‘Big Blue’ excavator for mental health

An excavator has been painted blue by a Victorian construction company to raise awareness of the industry’s high suicide rates.
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Winslow Constructors unveiled the huge Hitachi ZX360 excavator, dubbed Big Blue, on Tuesday in an effort to get construction workers to talk about their mental health.

“The construction industry has a major mental health issue and as a company … we are determined to make a difference,” general manager Rohan Davidson said.

Construction workers are twice as likely to commit suicide than workers in any other industry, data from the National Coronial Information System shows.

Partly to blame is the tough culture of construction, with many men unable to talk about their feelings, Mr Davidson said.

“We all know construction workers generally don’t talk easily about this stuff, but we know that even the most tough and resilient people can find themselves succumbing to anxiety and depression.”

He hopes Big Blue, which will be stationed at a Wollert building site, will remind workers on the job they don’t need to suffer alone.

“Big Blue is an eye-catching way to get the message out into the field that everyone must take action if they find themselves anxious, depressed or even suicidal, or if they know of a friend or colleague who is,” Mr Davidson said.

“There must be no stigma attached to mental illness – we urge our colleagues to speak up if they need help.”

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

Australian Associated Press

Hunter students learning in ‘decaying demountables,’ MP says

Schools: Kate Washington says Hunter students deserve better than 20-year old demountables.HUNDREDSofdemountable classrooms more than 20 years old are being used in schools across the Hunter.
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Records obtained under Freedom of Information have revealed Maitland and Cessnock studentsare morelikely to learn in “decaying demountables,” with each electorate home to more than 60 of the movable classrooms, Shadow Minister for the Hunter, Kate Washington, said.

“The Hunter’s students deserve better than this,” Ms Washington said.

The MP saidthe documents showedthe NSW Government had spent almost $1 million “carting demountables around the state” throughoutJanuary,rather than spending themoney on building new schools or permanent classrooms.

There were 329 demountable classrooms in the Hunter in total, including 64 in Maitland, 62 in Cessnock, 41in Charlestown, and 34 in Port Stephens, and33 in Wallsend, 28 in the Upper Hunter, and 23 in Swansea andNewcastle respectively. Almost half of the movable classrooms across NSW were at least 20 years old, she said.

Related:School maintenance backlog unacceptable.

“The government tried to defend these figures by saying around half of the demountables have been renovated since 2010. Why are we upgrading demountables instead of building real schools?” she said.

Jack Galvin Wright, the regional organiser for the NSW Teachers Federation, said the number of demountables being usedwas concerning.

“Public school enrolments are projected to increase by 23 per centover the next 15 years,” he said. “While the state government is spending an extra $1 billion over the next four years on building new schools and classrooms, this is less than half of what the Department of Education says is needed.

“Similarly, spending on school maintenance is less than half of what is needed.

“It is unacceptable that teachers are teaching, and students are learning, in conditions that are not befitting a modern, 21stcentury school environment.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, said demountable buildings were used to manage changing enrolment patterns and temporary accommodation needs, such as a result of capital works and maintenance projects.

Related: Hunter schools win millions to fix up.

“The Department of Education continually undertakes planning work to ensure school facilities properly cater for student demand,” Mr MacDonald said.

Mr MacDonald said theNSW Government was spending $4.2 billion over four years to build more than 120 new and upgraded schools across the state – the biggest investment in public education infrastructure in the “history of NSW.”

This included capital works at Bolwarra Public School, Francis Greenway High School, a primary school upgrade in the Maitland electorate, and Rutherford Public School.

Tim Glasby verbally agrees to join the Newcastle Knights next season

Newcastle’s bid to beef up itsforward pack for next season has been given a boost with Melbourne Storm prop Tim Glasby understood to have agreedto terms on a multi-year deal.
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Just 24 hours after anotherKnightstarget,Jarrod Wallace re-signed with Gold Coast for a further four years on a deal worth around $2.7 million, the Newcastle Herald can reveal Glasby has verbally accepted an offer to link with the Knights and will quit the Storm at the end of the season.

The 29-year-old Queensland Origin forward is in his sixth season with the Storm and has played 94 NRL games for the club, includingcoming off the bench in last season’s grand final win over North Queensland.

READ MORE: Newcastle Knights newsThe Knights have been favoured to land hissignature since last week when the Canberra Raiders dropped out of the race.

He knocked back an offer from the Storm to re-sign with the defending premiers several weeks ago.

Tim Glasby on the charge for the Storm

While the news is all good on the Glasby front, it appears unlikely the Knights will also snare off-contract Dragons prop Leeson Ah Mau.

Knights sources suggest Ah Mau’s first preference was always to return home to Auckland and the club is virtually resigned to missing out on him with the Warriors coming up with adeal.

“The suggestion is he is goingback to New Zealand,”the source said.

Meanwhile, Knights coach Nathan Brown has droppedbackrower Luke Yates and re-instated Jacob Saifiti tohis 17-man squad for Saturday’s clash with the Titans on the Gold Coast.

But there could be a further change later in the week with prop Jacob Lillyman a possible late inclusion for Chris Heighington, who may be rested this weekend.

Yates played only limited minutes in the loss to Penrith but pulled off a couple of decent hits in defence when he finally came on.

But it is understood Brown wants to carry a bigger body on the bench given hooker Slade Griffin has the versatility toplay a role at 13 when Danny Levi is thrown into the game.

The Titans have Origin hopeful Jai Arrow returning from injury and have named backrower Kevin Proctor despite hisgroin injury.

Ex-Knights halfback says Kalyn Ponga in danger of over-exposure

In his wake: Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga slices through two would-be Melbourne Storm defenders earlier this season at AAMI Park during another attacking raid. Picture: AAPHe has been a stunning revelation at fullback for the Newcastle Knights this season with rival coaches labeling him freakish and plenty of good judges pushing his barrow for Queensland Origin selection.
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But aformer Knights halfback says Kalyn Ponga needs to be careful he doesn’t over-play his handin attack to the detriment of teammates and upset the rhythm of the teamin the absence of Mitchell Pearce.

Matt Rodwell, a former ARL rookie of the year, who played more than 170 top grade games and now commentates on all Knights matchesfor KOFM, believes Ponga is trying too hard to be the be-all-and-end-all in attack with Pearce missing.

And he warnsit may be having an adverseeffect onthe players around him because they are subconsciously sitting back, expecting the 20-year-old fullback to come up with a special play every time he touches the football.

READ MORE: Newcastle Knights news“He is a wonderful talent, don’t get me wrong, but I thought there were times against Penrith whenhe bullied Brock Lamb a little bit in terms of being the dominant playmaker at first receiver,” Rodwell said.

“I remember at one stage, Brock Lamb was screaming for the ball on the right and Ponga got it on the left and he threw a pretty poor cut-out pass with nothing really on. That’s when it caught my attention.

“When Mitchell was playing, Ponga was the loop man out the back all the time and he seems to have gone away from that and wants to be more involved as first receiver.

“Maybe it isa tactic for him to be more involvedbut itdidn’t allow Brock Lamb to find his way into the game and he struggled to then feel comfortable andbethe assertive playmaker the Knights need him to be.”

Rodwell said a by-product of Ponga wanting his hands on the football all the time is the expectation of teammates that he’ll be the one to create something. He is also more easily targeted by defenders.

“For mine, Ponga was at his best when he worked with Pearce, being that link man out the back,” he said.

“He isobviously playing with a lot of confidence and he has come up with some really good stuff at times when atfirst receiver.

“But I felt for Lamb because it was an opportunity for him but it ended up being a bit of a missed opportunity.

“I’m not sure if Ponga is taking it apon himself to try and andI’m sure he has good intentions but I just think he was guiltyat times of upsetting the rhythm of the team.

Rodwell believes the Knights would be better served if the star fullback was more selective about when he gets involved in the play.

“He’s a super player but he has to get the balance right and be a bit more selective and not feel like he has to be the one to create something on every play,” Rodwell said.

“If he justinjectshimself at the right time, he probably poses more of a threat. If he is in there allthe time, he is getting knockedaround.

“Even if the footy doesn’t go to him, he can still have defenders on edge.”

FIFO workers face increased mental health issues

NEW DATA: Research was undertaken through an anonymous survey of 1124 workers in 10 remote mining and construction sites. More than a quarter ofFIFO workers suffer psychological distress.
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Research published this week in the Medical Journal of Australia, foundhigh levels of psychological distress were more than two and half times greater among FIFO workers than the Australian population with workers aged 25 – 34.

Those on a 2/1 roster are most at risk.

Other key findings included high levels of stress among workers associated with missing out on special events like family birthdays, daily work tasks, shift rosters and social isolation.

The research is one of the most comprehensive studies undertaken into the prevalence ofpsychological distressamong FIFO workers.

The study was undertaken by Rural and Remote Mental Health through an anonymous survey of 1124 workers in 10 remote mining and construction sites.

The research is also one of the few studies that has surveyed workers on-site in underground mines, open cut mines and construction sites.

Rural andRemote Mental Health CEO Jennifer Bowers said the stigma related to mental health remained a major issue for mining workers.

“Our research found that workers who felt there was stigma attached to mental health problems on site were the workers at greatest risk of high psychological distress,” Dr Bowers said.

“We also found that work expectations, relationship and financial pressures were all key contributing factors to high levels of psychological distress.”

She saidFIFO mental health challenges requireprevention programs and an industry-wide response.

“But on the positive side we’re starting to see the major mining contractors and companies renewing their efforts in delivering comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention programs and support for workers,” Dr Bowers said.

“Many of the issues are now well understood but it’s the targeted investment that now needs to follow from mining and resource companies to tackle the growing and often complex mental health challenges.”

North West Star, Mount Isa

North’s Ziebell cleared, Blues duo fined

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be first: Tom Hawkins must be scratching his head after Carlton’s Curnow brothers escaped with fines for making contact with an AFL umpire.
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Charlie then Ed were fined $1000 by the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night, with North Melbourne skipper Jack Ziebell cleared of kneeing in the last case heard.

The Geelong spearhead’s case was the first of four charges of making intentional contact with an umpire referred to the AFL tribunal over the past week.

He was the only one to receive a ban.

The Curnow boys made almost identical cases to the tribunal and received the same result: not guilty of intentional contact but guilty of careless contact.

It followed Monday night’s hearing where Gold Coast co-captain Steven May was also fined $1000 after successfully arguing his contact was careless.

Hawkins took a one-game ban in a plea bargain-style deal after he was threatened with a two-match suspension for touching an umpire during the Cats’ round seven win over GWS.

Marcus Clarke QC, representing the Blues brothers, twice showed a video example of West Coast’s Dom Sheed making contact with an umpire.

Charlie touched umpire Matt Stevic and Ed umpire Nathan Williamson during Carlton’s drought-breaking win over Essendon at the MCG on Sunday.

In similar statements submitted into evidence, both umpires said they didn’t say anything at the time contact was made, neither felt threatened or had any issues with what had occurred.

Both hearings took less than 30 minutes, the jury of Stewart Loewe, Jason Johnson and Wayne Henwood taking four and 12 minutes respectively to come to their conclusions.

“I’d just like to say that we both highly respect umpires and their position in the game as officiators and their importance to the game at all levels,” Ed Curnow said as he left the hearing.

“We both understand the tribunal’s decision and we respect the process involved.”

The pair are free to play Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday following the verdict.

AFL match review officer Michael Christian offered Ziebell a one-game ban for kneeing Richmond’s Reece Conca in the first quarter of the Tigers’ hard-fought 10-point at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The incident was graded as intentional conduct with low impact to the head.

Rob O’Neill, representing the Kangaroos, argued it was an accident and also that the impact wasn’t forceful enough to warrant a charge.

In his evidence, Ziebell said that his intention was to wrench the ball from Conca’s grip.

The Tigers midfielder maintained his hold on the ball and Ziebell lifted him off the ground then over-balanced due to Conca’s weight.

The jury found the impact wasn’t enough to even be graded as low after deliberating for less than five minutes.

“It’s a good result,” Ziebell said.

“Obviously I didn’t do it on purpose, it wasn’t intentional, so I’m glad that the tribunal saw that.

“I’m free to play this weekend, which is good.”

North host the Giants at Blundstone Arena in Hobart on Saturday.

Australian Associated Press

Deadly mushrooms spark Vic health warning

Poisonous mushrooms including Death Cap mushrooms are growing across Victoria.Victorians are being warned not to pick or eat wild mushrooms as heavy rain has led to the growth of deadly varieties.
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Autumn conditions and a recent deluge of rain has created ideal growing conditions for poisonous mushrooms including the death cap and yellow-staining varieties, the state health department warned on Tuesday.

The most dangerous variety – the death cap – has been found in both suburban Melbourne and rural areas, most commonly near oak trees.

“The death cap is extremely toxic and responsible for 90 per cent of all mushroom poisoning deaths,” Victoria’s chief health officer Charles Guest said in a statement.

Symptoms of death cap poisoning start with nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea before the toxin attacks the liver, with death usually within 48 hours.

“Anyone who becomes ill after eating mushrooms should seek urgent medical advice and, if possible, take samples of the whole mushroom for identification,” Prof Guest said.

He urged people to buy mushrooms rather than pick their own, as they may not be able to distinguish the difference between poisonous and safe varieties.

Death caps are large-sized mushrooms which range from light olive green to a yellow-green colour, while yellow-staining mushroom turns yellow when the cap or stem is bruised by a finger.

“If you have any doubts about a species of fungus or mushroom, don’t eat it,” Prof Guest said.

Australian Associated Press

Left hanging: Tribunal delays decision on sanction for Jets striker Roy O’Donovan after ugly grand-final challenge

COLLISION COURSE: Roy O’Dovovan raises his boot to try and knock the ball clear of Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers NEWCASTLE Jets striker Roy O’Donovan faces an anxious wait after a disciplinary tribunal deferred judgement on what sanction the Irishman will receive for his ugly challengeon Victorygoalkeeper Lawrence Thomas in the A-League grand final.
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After a marathon hearing in Sydney on Tuesday night, whichincluded evidence from O’Donovan via a video hook-up from Ireland, where he is on holidays, Football Federation Australia’s disciplinary and ethics committee (DEC) saidthey needed more time to deliberate.

“This is a potentially lengthy sentence and we just need to be clear on our reasoning,” said committee chairman John Marshall SC.

O’Donovan was given a red card in the 93rd minute of the Jets’heart-breaking 1-0 loss to the Victory at McDonald Jones Stadium on May 5.Chasinga Dimi Petratos free-kick, the striker launched himself feet firstandcollected Thomas flush in the face.

In giving evidence, O’Donovan claimed he’d originally intended to go for a header before the ball skewed slightly left.

“I had to make a split-second decision to go with my foot in the hope that if I got a touch the reward was massive – we had a chance to win the grand final,”O’Donovan said.”As soon as I left the ground there was no way to stop.”

The 32-year-old also argued his vision was blurred after copping a stray elbow from Besart Berisha moments earlier, and was soon rendered “completely blind” when the ball passed in front of the stadium floodlights and could only hope his trajectory and timing was right.

“I feel if my eye was perfect my timing would have been a bit better,” O’Donovan said.

Left hanging: Tribunal delays decision on sanction for Jets striker Roy O’Donovan after ugly grand-final challenge TweetFacebook FLASH POINT: Roy O’DonovanPictures: Max Mason-Hubers”As a striker you have a responsibility to attack the ball … unfortunately this time I hit the goalkeeper in the face which I’m devastated about.I have never set out to hurt anybody in my career, nor will I.”

During the hearing O’Donovan’s counsel Simon Philips conceded his head-high lunge into Thomas’ face was “careless” and “reckless” but argued he’d made a genuine play for the ball in a desperate attempt to equalise in the game’s final seconds.

But after viewing video footage and accessing 97 still photographs the disciplinary committee wasn’t buying it, contending the “Hail Mary attempt” was always likely to endanger Thomas as he rushed out for the ball.

FFA’s counsel Ivan Griscti also observed “it does appear that the player is looking at the goalkeeper”.

Philips likened O’Donovan’s challenge to that of Sadio Mane on Manchester City gloveman Ederson last September, for which the Liverpool attacker received a three-match suspension.

He used the “not dissimilar” example to campaign for a maximumfour-match ban.

However, O’Donovan is already up for more than four games by virtue of the mach review panel’s (MRP) referral as a more serious offence.

The MRPcategorised the incident as “serious foul play” when challenging for the balland referred it to the independent DECto determine what additional sanction above the mandatory one-match should be applied.

Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna, who also made a representation,said the three-man panel indicated they would have an outcome by the end of the week.

“It’s a waiting game now,” McKinna said. “We have no idea how it will go.”

O’Donovan was photographed after the game apologising to the keeper.

The pair have known each other for 10 years and were once teammatesat English lower-division club Coventry.

Whatever ban O’Donovan receives can be served inthe FFA Cup as well as the A-League.

Maclaren will be better for cut: Thompson

Archie Thompson says Jamie Maclaren can feel hard done by to miss the World Cup.Jamie Maclaren will return to the national team a better and more resilient striker because of his World Cup omission, says former Socceroo Archie Thompson.
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Maclaren was one of six players to get the chop when coach Bert van Marwijk named his 26-man squad on Tuesday, with three more to be axed in early June.

The blow came despite the 24-year-old’s eye-catching Scottish Premiership form, with eight goals in 15 games for Hibernian including a hat-trick against Rangers overnight.

It leaves Tim Cahill and Tomi Juric as the only out-and-out strikers, with winger Andrew Nabbout also an option up front.

Thompson wondered if the stigma of Scotland’s declining top flight may have played a part in Maclaren’s exclusion, but felt the former Brisbane Roar marksman could yet play a big role for Australia under another former striker in Graham Arnold.

“I’m a bit disappointed for him,” Thompson told AAP.

“Just for the fact that we probably haven’t got, well we’ve got proven goalscorers but Timmy’s coming to an age now where he can’t play 90 minutes. Well, he probably could but his role and impact will be different in this World Cup.

“And there’s been a lot of talk about Juric not getting on the scoresheet enough. But, if anything, World Cups bring out the best in players … so it might just be those one or two goals from Juric that takes him to the next level.

“Jamie’s got to feel a little but hard done by but it’s just not his time.

“If anything this will just make him work and strive a little bit harder and the setback gives him that little bit more resilience. He’ll come back a better player.”

Thompson understood the pain of those left out, having played a regular role during 2014 World Cup qualifying before being among a host of veterans moved on when Ange Postecoglou took charge just before the Brazil tournament.

He also felt for “outstanding player” Alex Gersbach, along with Bailey Wright and Mitch Langerak, all of whom were favoured by Postecoglou but left out by van Marwijk.

“I’ve been a part of it before and then not selected and it hurts,” he said.

“Because you want to represent your country at a World Cup and that’s the pinnacle.”

Australian Associated Press

Eels stand down Kenny Edwards

Parramatta have stood down second-rower Kenny Edwards indefinitely as an internal club investigation into a charge of driving on a suspended licence continues.
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Edwards didn’t train with the Eels on Tuesday and was not named by the club in their 21-man squad to face the Warriors on Friday night.

Edwards’ case appeared before Fairfield Local Court on Tuesday, where his lawyer told the court he expected him to plead guilty to the charge.

“After further developments today, the club has decided to stand down Kenny Edwards indefinitely until the internal investigation has been completed,” the Eels said in a statement.

“The club will continue to provide welfare assistance to Kenny and his family through this time.”

Edwards, 28, did not appear in court on Tuesday when his lawyer, Andrew O’Brien, asked to have the case adjourned until July 10.

O’Brien told the court his client was enrolled in a traffic offender intervention program.

He said he’d only just seen the police facts and was yet to receive instructions from Edwards, but anticipated a plea of guilty.

Edwards’ troubles at the Eels go beyond just the initial charge on April 19.

The back-rower failed to notify the club until last Friday, more than two weeks after the event.

He was also suspended for seven games last year and fined $60,000 over a domestic-violence related assault after he admitted to spraying his ex-partner with water and pouring alcohol over her head in December 2016.

Previously, he had missed the entire 2015 season for taking a drug test on behalf of teammate Kaysa Pritchard, while he has also parted ways with St George Illawarra and Manly in the past over behavioural matters.

Edwards has played all 10 games for the Eels this year, and has been a cornerstone of their bench and back row over the past two seasons.

“Kenny is really good to have around the team,” halfback Mitchell Moses said.

“He brings a lot of energy around the club and that’s what you want around your team.

“I think he’s been pretty good for us. He’s been coming off the bench and bringing a lot of good energy and changing the game for us at times.”

Australian Associated Press