Parasite attacks Morisset kangaroos: poll  

MORE than 150 kangaroos are believed to have died in less than a month after an outbreak of a parasitic infection led to the discovery of up to 10 carcasses a day in the grounds of Morisset Hospital.
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Alarmed wildlife rescue carers called in the authorities after finding too many of the dead animals to dispose of, prompting a joint investigation involving the RSPCA, Department of Primary Industries, Taronga Zoo experts, the Office of Environment of Heritage and others.

Kangaroos at Morisset. Pic: Dean Osland.

Native Animal Trust Fund president Audrey Koosmen said dead kangaroos were first reported to the organisation, which has cared for the animals at the site for some years, about three weeks ago.

Initially she thought it was the work of more “ratbags” who had run over or attacked the animals in the past.

But with large adult eastern grey kangaroos dying quickly, and more carcasses being discovered, the organisation realised “there’s something really wrong with these animals”.

“There’s a lot of little orphans left too,” she said.

“We had to bring the department in and say ‘we can’t cope with this any more’, when we had to dispose of [the carcasses].”

Initial findings show “no evidence of malicious poisoning” and that the kangaroos have been infected with a blood-borne parasite called Babesia, although the species has yet to be identified.

In livestock, it is referred to as “tick fever”, capable of swiftly killing large cattle and requiring quarantines for large outbreaks.

Samples of the kangaroos have been sent to Taronga Zoo this week for autopsy.

A Department of Primary Industries spokeswoman said other samples had been sent to its Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute.

“Babesia macropus has previously been found to infect kangaroos in Australia,” she said.

“This species is not known to have the potential to spread to humans.”

Hunter New England Health reminded staff and clients of the psychiatric hospital not to touch the animals.

Ground staff have also been asked to wear masks and protective equipment when disposing of the roos.

But animal rescuers are angry large numbers of tourists have ignored signs and fed the kangaroos bread, drawing large numbers of both humans and animals to what has become an unofficial visitor attraction.

“I have never seen so many animals in the one spot. I think they’re over-grazed, they may have contaminated their own area,” Ms Koosmen said.

“Now when you drive in the gates – honest to God, when I got down there, there was probably 150 of them waiting at the gate for the [tourist] buses.”

Ms Koosmen was stunned to witness foreign tourists recently pull a joey from its mother’s pouch for a photo.

“Then one of them was trying to cuddle this big buck who’s about six foot tall. I said ‘leave him alone, he’s a father, he’ll bite you, he’ll kick you’,” she said.

Hunter New England Health population health service director Dr David Durrheim said the number of people visiting the grounds was a concern, “and we request that tour operators and other visitor information websites remove any reference to the facility as a tourist attraction”.

Bland joins Dull and Boring

A COMBINATION of Dull, Boring and Bland is the cause of plenty of excitement with three ordinary-named locales coming together to form the League of Extraordinary communities.
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Last Tuesday, a quirky new tourism partnership was recognised by Bland Shire Council in which it will pair with US Pacific-northwest community Boring and the small village of Dull in the Scottish Highlands in an effort to boost visitors to the region.

Despite opposition, Bland Shire Council mayor Neil Pokoney welcomed the new links saying the partnership was “comedic and fun”, with him hoping the league will give the shire more notoriety to international tourists.

“A few people were worried it was disrespectful to the Bland Shire name,” Councillor Pokoney said, adding he had spoke on US radio as part of the partnership.

“But it’s meant to be light-hearted and a promotional tool for the entire shire, which has plenty to offer for travellers who might want to visit.”

Bland Shire has a population of 6000 people.

Boring has a population of 8000 while Dull is the smallest of the three, with about 80 residents.

Last September, a council employee read about the existing Dull and Boring partnership and thought it could be useful for Bland Shire to become a part of it.

“Boring was driving the initial partnership with Dull it is the biggest of us all,” Cr Pokoney said.

The partnership has already been reported on by the ABC, BBC and in UK, US and Canadian newspapers.

Bland Shire council deputy mayor Liz McGlynn said any publicity was good publicity for the shire and its towns.

“I hope it gets people talking and coming to the region,” Councillor McGlynn said.

Bland Shire has joined forces with Dull and Boring.

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Zohab Zee Khan’s performance poetry a slam dunk for reaching high school students

“It doesn’t feel like too long ago that I was one of them, you know”: Zohab Zee Khan.Zohab Zee Khan has little in common with the dead white male poets students commonly meet at high school.
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Dressed in high-top sneakers and a flat-brimmed baseball cap, he delivers his lines with the rhythm and physicality of a rapper.

As a 26-year-old living in the Illawarra, the world he rhymes about is familiar to the students at Dapto High School. ”It doesn’t feel like too long ago that I was one of them, you know,” said Khan, a state poetry slam champion.

The ease with which the artist connects with the teenagers is what drives the Red Room Company’s education program.

”Where normally it’s poetry on the page, this becomes poetry in the air,” said Tamryn Bennett, the not-for-profit organisation’s education manager. ”And they’re themes that these students are encountering themselves.”

The workshop explored the genre of guerilla poetry, writing and performing poetry in unconventional ways.

Students scrawled their verses across windows, which did not look out of place in the creatively-minded school, which has deliberately coated its walls in murals, paintings and graffiti art.

”We have an inexcusable number of blank walls but we’re doing everything we can to make this place beautiful and interesting,” principal Andrew FitzSimons said. ”Engaged students learn better, they attend more regularly and they take more responsibility.”

Maddison Raisin, who says she has created poetry in private from a young age, wrote about ”a stray cat being tossed from home to home and how it feels”.

Phoebe Parkin was ”utterly blown away” by the energy Khan put into his performance. ”It’s not just words on a piece of paper,” the 17-year-old said. ”Older teachers have the knowledge that younger people don’t have but they don’t have the way to engage them. They can teach you about poetry but he shows you what poetry is.”

For Khan, too, poetry has been a form of therapy at times.

”It has got me through plenty of times of jubilation and plenty of times of sadness,” he said. ”If I can give them the skills to write and express themselves, I think that’s a job well done.”

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Local crews to produce national news

Natalie Forrest will read Wagga’s local bulletin permanently after changes were made to the Prime7 news bulletins.PRIME7 viewers will now miss out on the Seven Network’s national news bulletin altogether after the regional affiliate dumped it in favour of creating its own half-hour broadcast.
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Last night, after nearly a month of “cutting and pasting” from the Seven Network’s new hour-long national news bulletin, Prime7 broadcast its first half-hour national bulletin, read by Daniel Gibson at 6.30pm.

Yesterday, a Prime7 Canberra spokeswoman confirmed it was trialling the new format for the next week in response to the programming woes it had as a result of the Seven Network’s decision to create an hour-long national news bulletin, which would have meant screening local news bulletins at either 5.30pm or 7pm.

“We are trying it for a week but it is expected we will continue with this format because of Seven’s changes,” the spokeswoman said, adding the changes would affect Wagga, Orange, Tamworth, Taree, Lismore and Coffs Harbour.

The changes mean anchor Natalie Forrest will read Wagga’s local bulletin permanently, which will remain at 6pm.

Earlier this month, a Prime7 insider told the Advertiser that no one was told of the Seven Network’s changes in advance of its decision to make a 60-minute bulletin, throwing the channel in limbo.

Last night’s bulletin saw a mix of celebrity and hard news before the first break, including the story on Grant Denyer and his wife denying they entered a treatment centre in Thailand for an expensive illicit drug addiction and continuing case against Hey Dad! actor, Robert Hughes.

Meanwhile, Fitzpatricks Commercial director Shaun Lowry has said he is in “serious negotiations” with a buyer for Prime7’s Lake Albert Road studio.

Mr Lowry was tight-lipped about the possible sale only saying he thought the buyer would continue to use the building as commercial office space.

The 21,008 square metre studio television studio was listed for sale last September, with former newsreader Doug Hogan saying the building didn’t “suit the needs of Prime7 anymore.”

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Fear not: Tom Rogic’s ankle injury is not serious

Football fans around Australia will breathe a sigh of relief at news that Tom Rogic’s ankle injury might be not be a serious as initially feared.
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Hot on the heels of Robbie Kruse’s World Cup dream being shattered by a knee injury and Rhys Williams tearing his Achilles, the loss of another of the Socceroos’ young prospects would have been too much to bear.

Kruse had been making the most of his opportunities in one of the world’s top leagues, impressing at German club Bayer Leverkusen, scoring three goals in largely as an impact player off the bench.

At just 21, Rogic is the prototype around which Postecoglou could build the new Socceroos in his five-year plan.

The young playmaker possesses grace and poise beyond his years, and more importantly has that one thing all great players have amid the hurly-burly of midfield: time.

He reminds me of a cross between Ned Zelic and Mark Viduka. Fittingly, if Rogic were to play in a side with those two, he’d be central cog in the spine smack bang between them.

In his prime, Zelic was a sight to behold striding with the ball out of defence.

His goal against a star-studded Netherlands side in an Olympic qualifier back in 1992 is one of the best ever scored in green and gold as much for the skill as its sheer audacity. If you’ve never seen it, check it out here.

Zelic played for 13 clubs, mostly in Europe and Germany in particular where his libero skills were greatly admired. Sadly he never realised his full potential at full international level after falling out with then Socceroos coach Frank Farina. At QPR he earned the nickname Lord Lucan, because he was so rarely sighted on the pitch after a much heralded move from Germany.

As for Viduka, the smiling assassin is probably still smiling on a yacht somewhere off the Adriatic coast. On deck for the Socceroos, the Duke’s languid style and relative lack of goals were misinterpreted as laziness or lack of interest by some. But his ability to hold off two or three defenders and turn or play someone else in made him a handful for some of the world’s best centre-backs. Just ask Martin Keown, Sami Hyypia or Marco Materazzi. For a big man, the V-Bomber had exquisite feet, and was sorely missed in South Africa.

In his cameos for the Socceroos, Rogic has made an instant impact, gliding through the midfield elegantly, effortlessly, skipping over, through and around tackles like a young Zidane. That he has some size on his side will be a big plus as he matures. That he faded out of those games had more to do with lack of match fitness thanks to Celtic mothballing him than anything else.

Signing for the Glasgow giants might have been a great financial move but leaving the monoculture of Scottish football was the best career move Rogic could have made, and he’s not alone.

Defenders Sasa Ognenovski and Eddy Bosnar have also returned home to the A-League to get in the Socceroos’ coach’s sights. With Lucas Neill in club limbo and Postecoglou’s no walk-up starts policy, it’s game on for the central defensive roles in Brazil. There is competition, and competition is healthy.

The Socceroos coach is not exactly blessed with squad depth. He is reportedly looking at Australian-born Croatian defender Tomislav Mrcela, 23, who has had a handful of starts for Hrvatski Dragovoljac, rooted to the bottom of the Croatian first division with the second-worst defence.

Not glowing stats, but the interest might be more strategic with an eye to shoring up Mrcela’s loyalty as Postecoglou casts his net wide in his search for hidden gems of a green and gold hue. We wouldn’t want another Aussie Joe Simunic to slip through our grasp.

Filling the void left by the livewire Kruse up front will be a much tougher proposition. If Postecoglou wants to cast his net a little wider, Richie Porta could be an option. Brazil is just up the road for the Sydney-born Uruguayan, who is back at Nacional after a season in Dubai. He has bagged four goals in 13 matches so far this season for his club, who are second on goal difference.

As a striker, the 30-year-old has matured with age, scoring more goals (27) in the past three years than the previous six (13). It might have been thought his ship had sailed but his knowledge of South American football through five seasons at club and Copa Libertadores level, and familiarity with the conditions, could be invaluable to Australia on and off the field.

As we head into the final third of the season, the stakes for World Cup contenders ratchet up week by week. One slip, one, mistimed challenge, one awkward landing and it could be four years long years before a player gets another chance, and that’s if your country qualifies.

Anxious times for all involved: players, coaches and fans. But then again one man’s injury is another’s opportunity. Who will step up?

Robbie Kruse joins a growing list of high-profile players not going to Brazil, either through injury, or failure to qualify or suspension. They include:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gareth Bale, Radamel Falcao*, Bryan Oviedo, Aaron Ramsay, Robert Lewandowski, Branislav Ivanovic, Joe Simunic, Nemanja Vidic, Daniel Agger, Petr Cech GK

* in serious doubt but may recover from knee surgery in time.

Chant of the week

We’ll just call you Dave,

We’ll just call you Dave,

Azpilicueta,

We’ll just call you Dave…

Chelsea fans to their Spanish fullback, who is keeping Ashley Cole out of the side and possibly the World Cup to boot.

Que? of the week

“’Quod licet Juvi, non licet bovi.’ What Jupiter is allowed to do, the ox is not allowed. Maybe here it is the other way round.”

Sepp Blatter when asked whether criticism of FIFA and Qatar by clubs such as Bayern Munich was “hypocritical”, goes all haiku about Germany’s business ties with Qatar. Can anyone translate his translation?

Spray of the week

“Materazzi’s a nasty person. He’s one of those kind of people who goes onto the field with the sole intention of doing harm; he’s violent. Now he’s stopped playing, he uses the same violence with his words. He’s repressed.”

Former Brazil and Inter great Lucio to former teammate Marco Materazzi after the Italian said the 35-year-old risked “making a fool of himself” by playing on with Palmeiras.

Feedback

The Far Post welcomes your comments and debate. Last week, Swifty queried the formation of the Pest XI as a 3-7-0. There wasn’t one really. It was more a 20-legged midfield threshing machine, all gnashing studs and teeth, rolling around the field consuming everything in its path. Swifty rightly pointed out the likes of Duncan “Disorderly” Ferguson and Harald Schumacher deserved to be in the XI. They were in the mix and definitely would have been on the bench.

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Thousands sign to take on crime

THE push for a drug squad and dog unit for Tamworth has been bolstered after an anti-drug crusader presented a local MP with a petition calling for the desperately-needed police resources to stamp out narcotics-fuelled crime.
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THE push for a drug squad and dog unit for Tamworth has been bolstered after an anti-drug crusader presented a local MP with a petition calling for the desperately-needed police resources to stamp out narcotics-fuelled crime.

PEOPLE POWER: Renee Bourne with a petition calling for a drug squad and dog squad to drive down crime. Photo: Barry Smith 240214BSC05

Renee Bourne, 35, gave the document containing 5000 signatures to member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson yesterday, outside her father, Barry Bourne’s, takeaway store which was robbed at knifepoint in a suspected drug-fuelled attack last year

Speaking to the media scrum present, Ms Bourne said Tamworth has changed dramatically in recent years and described the increase in crime as “just incredible”.

She said she has received “a lot of backing (and) a lot of support” from the community since deciding to take a stand after her parents’ second business – the Hiway Superette – was also the target of a hold-up less than four months later.

Mr Anderson congratulated Ms Bourne on her efforts and made assurances that petitions such as these still held political weight.

They can have “significant impact,” he said.

“What it is, is the voice of the people, and it’s not just one voice. It’s thousands of people calling for action and when thousands of people call for action you’ve got to sit up and take notice and that’s what these petitions will do.”

In response to a question raised about the state government’s ability to pay for a drug squad, likely to be made up of about seven personnel, Mr Anderson said it was up to “each individual department to come up with funding” as they had a “community service obligation to keep our streets safe”.

The Nationals MP is expected to lodge the petition when NSW parliament sits today.

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School or medical centreelection to decide future of hospital site

StateLiberalLeader Steven Marshall and Labor Premier Jay Weatherill have come out batting in the second week of the election, bothmaking a pitch for the soon-to-be former Royal Adelaide Hospital site.
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The grab for the prime piece of real estate is a bid to win the crucial votes in the marginal seat of Adelaide, won by the Liberal Party at the 2010 election bya margin of 4.2 per cent.

Marshall was the first to claim the hospital- announcing on the weekend the Liberals’s planto use the site for a private health and medical services hub.

“There is great potential on the existing site for a range of new specialist centres and facilities to be moved into the precinct, offering patients a comprehensive facility that would cater to a range of health needs,” he said.

“Local universities, health organisations and other private consortia have already indicated a keen interest in use of the existing buildings and facilities.

“It is also vital that we support the existing retail and business infrastructure in the East End, by ensuring a working population remains in this part of the city.

Weatherill’s plan also aims to support infrastructure and jobs in the area but through a focuson education.

Premier Jay Weatherill announced on Mondayplans to spend $85 million to turnthe hospital site into a 1000 studenthigh school two years after the site is vacated in2016.

Mr Weatherill said the school would be a place for the world’s best and brightest students to study in an environment which partnered with leading scientific and medical research industries in South Australia.

“Adelaide has placed itself on the international stage in terms of our scienceand health research,” he said.

Labor candidate for the seat of Adelaide David O’Loughlin said the announcement marked a significant step forward for public education in the city.

“I have been working with local parents and primary schools since 2008 toimprove access to public high school education in the city,” he said.

“I first proposed this site two years ago as an excellent option due to itsproximity to the Botanic Gardens, two universities, Adelaide Zoo and the newhospital and research centre.

“I am confident it will, in the years ahead, become one of our most lovedpublic high schools.”

Current Royal Adelaide Hospital site gets political attention in lead up to South Australian election.

Scheme could pay for childcare training: poll 

CHILDCARE workers upgrading their qualifications would have tuition fees covered under an apprenticeship scheme to ease the chronic skills shortage in the sector, in a recommendation by leading industry group Care For Kids.
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Providers are still struggling to meet standards introduced in January that require half of all staff to have, or be working towards, a diploma in early childhood education and remaining staff to hold a certificate III qualification.

Services with more than 25 children are required to employ a university-qualified early childhood teacher under the National Quality Framework, which aims to lift young children’s learning.

But the cost of further study is a deterrent to staff earning as little as $19 an hour.

Roxanne Elliott, co-founder of childcare resource website Care For Kids, is calling for an early years apprenticeship scheme to subsidise courses.

A certificate III can cost up to $4000, a diploma up to $13,000 and a tertiary degree up to $24,000.

“We think an apprenticeship scheme could work well because it provides an incentive to attract quality staff to the sector,” she said.

Such an apprenticeship scheme, worth up to $3700, has been introduced in Britain where the childcare sector is also introducing more rigorous qualifications.

More than one-third of Australian services are not meeting the new standards under the National Quality Framework and almost 5 per cent have applied for waivers as they are unable to meet requirements, based on the latest data from the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority.

In its submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning, Care For Kids recommends the apprenticeship scheme, as well as making on-the-job experience equivalent to formal qualifications in appropriate cases.

Childcare apprenticeships proposed as way around skills shortage

Childcare workers upgrading their qualifications would have tuition fees covered under an apprenticeship scheme to ease the chronic skills shortage in the sector, in a recommendation by a leading industry group, Care For Kids.
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Providers are still struggling to meet standards introduced in January which require half of all staff to have, or be working towards, a diploma in early childhood education and remaining staff to hold a certificate III qualification.

Services with more than 25 children are required to employ a university-qualified early childhood teacher under the National Quality Framework, which aims to lift young children’s learning.

But the cost of further study is a deterrent to staff earning as little as $19 an hour.

Roxanne Elliott, co-founder of Care For Kids, a childcare resource website, is calling for an early years apprenticeship scheme to subsidise courses. A certificate III can cost up to $4000, a diploma up to $13,000 and a tertiary degree up to $24,000.

”We think an apprenticeship scheme could work well because it provides an incentive to attract quality staff to the sector,” she said.

Such an apprenticeship scheme, worth up to $3700, has been introduced in Britain where the childcare sector is also introducing more rigorous qualifications.

More than one-third of Australian services are not meeting the new standards under the National Quality Framework and almost 5 per cent have applied for waivers as they are unable to meet requirements, based on the latest data from the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority.

In its submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning, Care For Kids recommends the apprenticeship scheme as well as making on-the-job experience equivalent to formal qualifications in appropriate cases.

Ms Elliott said many older, experienced childcare workers were leaving the sector as they did not want to retrain or could not afford to.

”People who have been in the sector for a long time have been reticent to get qualifications and that has resulted in that natural attrition,” she said.

Sam Page, chief executive of peak body Early Childhood Australia, supports the idea of subsidising tuition fees, particularly for staff willing to work in rural or remote areas where the skills shortage is worst.

”It’s a scheme that has worked well for the health sector,” she said. ”They have done this quite consistently. We think it would work well for the early childhood sector.”

Early Childhood Australia has called for some of the $300 million government fund previously ear-marked for staff pay increases to go towards subsidising further training.

”It’s a good way of addressing skills shortages in key areas,” she said. ”We don’t have quite the number of four-year trained teachers or diploma-qualified educators we need.”

Jemma Carlisle, general manager of four childcare centres at the University of NSW, said apprenticeships would not solve the problem of high staff turnover due to poor remuneration.

”Apprenticeships will attract new people to the sector but how long will they stay?” she said.

”The No. 1 issue in the sector is the low wages. That money would be better spent on industry-wide wage rises to ensure better staff retention for the long term. Apprenticeships are a short-term solution.”

Louise Tarrant, national secretary of United Voice, which represents childcare workers, said even qualified staff were poorly paid. Certificate III holders earned $19.07 an hour and diploma-qualified staff got $22.46 an hour.

”Under the current wages structure, educators are offered little financial incentive to obtain or improve their qualification,” she said.

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Toy library to make way for TAFE program

THE Camperdown Toy Library is likely to be on the move with Corangamite Shire Council considering leasing the library’s premises to South West TAFE.
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The council’s meeting tonight will consider a recommendation to lease two front rooms of the Theatre Royal to TAFE for its Pathfinders program.

Pathfinders seeks to re-engage young people aged 15-19 years in a Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) program that advances their personal development and gives them work-related skills.

It’s planned the program will run frequently throughout the school week and might also make use of other facilities in the theatre complex, including the old stadium and commercial kitchen.

TAFE has approached the council seeking new premises for the Pathfinders program, which is to be relocated from Glenormiston College

The Camperdown Toy Library has used one of the theatre rooms since 1989 and is open for one hour, two days a week. It will need to vacate by March 2.

Council officers are working with the toy library to find new premises.

The second room, previously used by Corangamite Arts, has been vacant since November when the group shifted to the old Camperdown courthouse.

Under the proposal to be put to tonight’s meeting, TAFE will be given a three-year lease of the two rooms.

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