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    • Queensland police say officer acted appropriately in incident that injured Brisbane refugee protester

      Queensland police say a video in which an officer appears to hit a refugee protester in the head at a Brisbane rally on Sunday makes the incident “appear far worse than it is”.

      But Jeff Rickertt, the man was injured in the incident, rejected the police assessment of the incident as “complete nonsense”.

      “I felt the force of the real. My initial reaction was that I’d been hit by a fist,” Mr Rickertt said after being released from hospital on Monday afternoon.

      He said a CT scan had found no serious head injury, and that he had a laceration on his ear and a dull headache but “otherwise I’m fine”.

      Tensions between police and activists had been building over a series of protests against the ongoing detention of refugees and asylum seekers at a hotel in the Brisbane suburb of Kangaroo Point.

      Protesters provided the ABC with video of what some activists believed was a police officer hitting Mr Rickertt without provocation.

      Mr Rickertt was standing by a fence that been erected around the hotel exterior.

      He was taken to the Mater Hospital after the incident.

      “I was struck on the side of the head and for about two hours thereafter the side of my head and my ear were numb with the force of that impact,” Mr Rickertt said.

      Injured at refugee protest
      Protester Jeff Rickertt has described the incident as an “unprovoked attack” by the police officer.(ABC News: Emilie Gramenz)

      On Monday, Acting Assistant Commissioner Brian Conners told a media conference he believed the actions of the officer were “appropriate”.

      He said the officer did not strike Mr Rickertt in the video and that the camera angle of the video made the incident “appear far worse than it is”.

      He said other footage available online showed the incident from different angles and he encouraged people to review it.

      “The circumstances are what they are — review the footage.”

      One protester, Ruby, said she was among the crowd on Sunday afternoon, standing one person away from Mr Rickertt.

      Protesters told the ABC a group of 15 to 20 people were slapping their hands against the fence to make noise the men inside the hotel could hear.

       A uniformed police officer wrestling with a man in a blue shirt
      Protesters at the scene believed the officer hit Mr Rickertt.(Supplied)

      “The man who had been targeted by the police officer wasn’t actually touching the fence at the time, he had stepped back, and that’s when I saw an extremely charged officer who sprinted up and hit him with full force on the left side of his head,” Ruby said.

      She said she stayed with Mr Rickertt while he was on the ground.

      “He was quite slow in responding. When he started to respond, we noticed that there was blood coming out of his ear and he was sweating and shaking a lot.”

      ‘Directions of police were ignored’

      Superintendent Andrew Pilotto said the protest was unauthorised and that many in attendance “were not cooperating with police”.

      “Prior to the police moving in to safeguard that fence, quite a number of directions were given to protesters to release the fence, step back stand down and re-join the group, and those directions of police were ignored over a considerable period,” Superintendent Pilotto said.

      “A lot of these people are in police officers’ faces for long periods of time, yelling at police officers, throwing things in their faces.”

      Mr Rickertt said he was not grabbed by the shirt or the neck, and was not near the fence when he was targeted.

      “I was also conscious throughout the whole process,” he said.

      “I was very aware that I fell to the ground and I’m also very aware that I did not strike my head on the ground.

      “The force of the real to my head by the police officer was what caused the injury that I have.”

      Police are reviewing the matter internally.


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    • Labor releases costings ahead of Queensland election day, revealing budget would remain in deficit for years

      Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick has released Labor’s official costings ahead of Saturday’s state election and confirmed the budget could be in deficit for up to five years.

      Mr Dick said Labor’s election promises would be funded through a $4 billion borrowing fund, with documents released today revealing an additional $317 million had been set aside in unallocated funding to support the state’s economic recovery.

      “There are no sales or leasing of assets owned by the people of Queensland, there are no job cuts, there are no cuts to services, and there are no new or increased taxes,” Mr Dick said.

      “By borrowing — as we’ve said we would — to rebuild, the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s position is entirely consistent with the national and international advice on how to address the economic consequences of the pandemic.”

      Money from the borrowing fund would be spent over the next four years, with $643 million to be spent this financial year, $1.08 billion in 2021-22, $1.26 billion in 2022-23, and $1.02 billion in 2023-24.

      An additional $317 million was set aside in unallocated funding for Queensland’s Economic Recovery Plan for the 2020-21 financial year.

      State debt ‘reasonable and prudent’

      Mr Dick said forward projections had the State Government delivering a deficit for the next four to five years, but denied it set a dangerous precedent to borrow money to pay for campaign promises.

      “I don’t believe so. When you look at what the Federal Government is doing — $1.7 trillion in debt — they’re growing to about 50 per cent of GDP,” he said.

      “So $60 billion of state debt in our economy, that’s worth $355 billion, I think is reasonable and prudent.”

      Out of the $4 billion in borrowings set aside for election commitments, $500 million each was announced before the election for the Queensland Business Investment Fund and the Renewable Energy Fund.

      Other big-ticket Labor promises announced during the campaign included $415 million to build school infrastructure, $325 million for 2,025 extra police by 2025, and a $550 million investment to manufacture trains in Queensland.

      Plan for more frontline health staff

      The ALP’s plan to employ almost 10,000 new frontline health staff over the next four years would be fully costed under the state’s current health budget.

      Costing documents released today showed the promise to employ an additional 5,800 nurses, 1,500 doctors and 1,700 allied health professionals to September 2024 was “subject to achieving the existing efficiency and productivity dividends set out in the agreement”.

      Mr Dick denied Queensland Health would find the efficiencies by cutting staff.

      “That’s part of the existing internal health agreement that we’ve had for a number of years,” he said.

      “You can be confident in what we’ve said about growing the front line.

      “Health can find that efficiency dividend however they wish, but it’s not about impacting on staff.”

      In September, Mr Dick revealed Queensland’s debt levels would real out to more than $100 billion by mid-next year — $18 billion more than predicted before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

      It was detailed in the State Government’s fiscal economic update for the 2020-21 financial year, which replaced the usual handing down of the state’s budget.

      Mr Dick said the state coffers had been hit by a combination of increased borrowings and falling revenue, pushing the predicted debt level to nearly $102 billion, with the debt level before COVID-19 hit forecast to be $84 billion.

      Today he said if Labor if was re-elected for a third term, the budget would be handed down in the week of November 30.

      LNP yet to release official costings

      Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the LNP would release its costings for election commitments towards the end of the week.

      “It sounds like Labor has run out of ideas and run out of puff,” Ms Frecklington said.

      Both major party leaders will take part in the Queensland Parliamentary Media Club debate on Friday.

      Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington
      Ms Frecklington said the LNP would release its costings for election commitments towards the end of the week.(ABC News: Chloe Chomicki)

      Regional blitz on campaign trail

      For the start of the final week of the election campaign, both major party leaders spent the day in North Queensland.

      Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visited a mango farm in Bowen where she announced an ALP government would invest $50 million to subsidise irrigation bills for farmers across the state.

      The commitment would see a 15 per cent cut in irrigation water charges for 6,400 farmers who buy water from state-owned irrigation schemes.

      Ms Palaszczuk said Labor would also cut water bills by up to 50 per cent for fruit and vegetable growers.

      The price drops would start from July 1 next year.

      Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks with Bowen mango farmer Carl Walker.
      Ms Palaszczuk visits a mango farm in Bowen to announce Labor would invest $50 million to subsidise irrigation bills for farmers.(AAP: Marty Silk)

      While in Townsville this morning, Ms Frecklington announced $8 million for a dedicated ice taskforce and $2 million to boost drug detective squads in the Queensland Police Service to tackle drug abuse in regional communities.

      If elected, an LNP government would invest $2 million to partner with the North Queensland Cowboys to develop an awareness and mental health support program aimed at people aged 15 to 35 in high-risk groups.


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    • Atherton Tablelands hit by freak storm as trees fall on car, motorist unharmed

      A motorist who drove into a “mini-tornado” during a storm in Far North Queensland said he was forced to squeeze through a 30-centimetre gap in the door to escape after two tall trees fell on his vehicle.

      Eric Auld was driving on the Gillies Highway to Yungaburra at about 4:30pm on Sunday when a storm hit without warning.

      “There was just light rain pretty much, until I got about 2 kilometres from Yungaburra, then all of a sudden I just ran into this mini tornado,” he said.

      “I slowed down to pull up on the side of the road and, just as I was about to pull up, two trees came crashing down across the road

      “Me and my car were engulfed underneath these trees — it pinned the car to the highway.

      Mr Auld was shaken but unhurt, however he struggled to get out of his vehicle.

      “None of the doors would open because there were just branches all around,” he said.

      “Eventually, I managed to move a branch through my driver’s side window and got the door open about 30cm, which was enough for me to slide out and scramble through all the branches to safety.

      “[I] got out and had to stand in the blizzard rain for about 15 minutes, but luckily other motorists behind me had called emergency services and they were on the scene relatively quickly to help me.

      The highway was closed for about 10 hours while the debris was cleared.

      Severe weather in south-east

      The Bureau of Meteorology said the storm was linked to severe weather in south-east Queensland, which cut power to 33,000 homes during the weekend.

      Senior forecaster Kimba Wong said it was partly due to a surface trough running from the Gulf Country to the south-east of the state.

      Large trees over the road and on top of a small van
      The highway was closed for 10 hours while the debris was cleared.(Supplied: Atherton Live Weather)

      “Just to the east and north of that surface trough we’ve got quite a moist and unstable airmass that’s helping to give us that shower and thunderstorm activity over the last few days,” she said.

      “We had some reports of wind damage with trees down at Yungaburra and also some 2cm-diametre hail.

      She said there was still the chance of some shower and thunderstorm activity, particularly across inland parts of the North Tropical Coast and Tablelands over the next couple of days.

      A 38-year-old Cairns woman was killed when a tree fell on her car on the Gillies Highway at the nearby Gadgarra last year.

      Mr Auld described his experience as “very, very scary” but said he felt very fortunate to be alive.

      “All I could think about was other people who’ve come to grief on the Gillies [Highway] over the years with trees falling on their vehicles,” he said.


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    • A coronavirus-disrupted AFL season unveiled some innovations that should stay but others that should go

      Through a footy season like no other, “agile” and “flexible” were buzz words used by AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan as the game navigated complex challenges to arrive at Saturday night’s history-making conclusion.

      In completing 153 home and away matches and nine finals, the AFL and its players broke new ground, achieving things never previously thought possible.

      But what innovations should remain and what should be cast to oblivion when the AFL re-emerges in a post-pandemic environment?

      Night grand final

      The AFL and its TV broadcast partners have long wanted to gauge the success of a night grand final and its capacity to maximise ratings in primetime.

      The unconventional 2020 season was a logical opportunity to trial an evening timeslot and the Gabba grand final undoubtedly delivered a magnificent spectacle.

      I’m just not convinced it was better.

      Perhaps live music performances are visually more dramatic with a blackened backdrop and accompanying light shows, but while I acknowledge the grand final has morphed into a major event the game of football is still the centrepiece and everything else is peripheral.

      Call me a traditionalist — I’ll wear it as a badge of honour on this issue — but the best football spectacle is an afternoon clash in front of 100,000 people at the MCG.

      And the traditional timeslot has led to important cultural traditions that have made grand final day a cherished date on the calendar.

      Dustin Martin roars with delight after scoring against Geelong in the AFL grand final at the Gabba
      Richmond may go down in history as the only winner of a night grand final.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

      It has long been an occasion for bringing people together. Friends and families gathering for barbeques, kids running around, footballs flying in backyards and gardens trampled during half-time kick-to-kicks.

      A night grand final may lead to a greater TV audience, but it risks becoming less inclusive, with kids the unfortunate casualties.

      I’m sure many were tucked in bed long before Dustin Martin’s extraordinary last-quarter goal. I guess his fourth was the stuff of dreams.

      Shorter quarters

      A reduction from 20 to 16-minute quarters and time-on this season afforded the AFL more flexibility in fixturing as it allowed for shorter breaks between matches.

      Teams sometimes played four matches in the space of two weeks and player feedback was that shorter quarters aided recovery and made the condensed schedule more manageable.

      The move, while unpopular with fans, served its purpose in a season that proved a logistical nightmare. Post COVID-19, I’m certain quarter lengths will increase again but not to previous levels.

      Eddie Betts celebrates a goal by bumping fists with Jack Martin and Patrick Cripps.
      Shorter quarters were believed to have helped with player recovery between matches.(AAP: Dylan Burns)

      Football has always been a battle of attrition, a game that rewards endurance. Fatigue can open up matches, leading to defensive lapses and scoring opportunities.

      While the length of quarters was reduced by 20 per cent this season, teams averaged only 60.6 points per match, down 25 per cent on 2019 when scoring had already worryingly dropped to a 52-season low.

      I suspect the AFL would like to retain some of the fixturing flexibility afforded by shorter quarters while extending match duration. A return to 20 minutes and time-on looks unlikely, with 18-minute quarters more probable.

      Flexible fixture

      One of the best initiatives of 2020 was the flexible fixture, which allowed for more consequential matches to occupy primetime TV slots on a weekly basis.

      It saw the Gold Coast Suns rewarded for their exciting start to the season with a Thursday night clash against the Western Bulldogs in round eight.

      Under normal circumstances, the AFL fixture would be released with dates, times and venues for all but the last round of the season. The rigidity of the fixture has been a bugbear of broadcasters and fans with marquee timeslots late in the season essentially allocated on a hunch.

      Too often, these matches have little relevance to the premiership race and feature teams that have underwhelmed.

      There is a good argument that a locked-in fixture gives fans from interstate a chance to plan trips to attend matches well in advance. As a Tasmanian, I can relate to this and vividly remember poring over freshly released fixtures targeting the best weekends to fly into Melbourne.

      Bur retaining some level of flexibility in fixturing will ensure the right matches are given top billing as the home and away season heads towards its climax.

      The pre-finals bye

      I’m happy to admit I have never liked the pre-finals bye. It seems illogical to put the season on hold for a week, just when it has reached its most pivotal phase.

      Given the condensed nature of the 2020 fixture — which included extended periods with daily matches — the pre-finals bye seemed even more bizarre this season.

      I concede a ‘freshen-up period’ prior to finals can be a blessing for teams and since its introduction in 2016, many injured players have proven their fitness for games they otherwise wouldn’t have — the Western Bulldogs may still be chasing that drought-breaking premiership if not for the extra recovery time afforded to key players prior to the 2016 elimination final with West Coast.

      This year, stars of the game such as Harris Andrews, Josh Kennedy and Jeremy McGovern were all beneficiaries.

      It is always preferrable for the best to be playing, but again, football is a game of attrition and injury has long been an unfortunate element for clubs to contend with.

      Most critically, since the introduction of the pre-finals bye it is clear the winners of the qualifying finals are disadvantaged.

      A number of Port players converge around Charlie Dixon to give him high fives and pats on the head
      The Power won their qualifying final but departed the premiership race at the preliminary finals stage.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

      To play one match in the best part of four weeks is a complete diversion from the usual flow of the season and far from an ideal preparation for a cut-throat grand final qualifier.

      Since the pre-finals bye was introduced in 2016, only four of the 10 qualifying final winners have gone on to make the grand final. In the 16 seasons prior, 28 of 32 progressed to the premiership decider.

      It is time to either move the bye back a few rounds or farewell it altogether.

      Dreamtime in the NT

      The Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round has become one of my favourite rounds of the footy season.

      It is a wonderful acknowledgement of the enormous contribution Indigenous Australians have made to the game and this year’s celebration felt like the most meaningful and appropriate yet.

      Two matches were played in Darwin as a part of the Sir Doug Nicholls Round in 2020, with the annual Dreamtime at the ‘G game — as the name suggests, traditionally played at the MCG — staged at Marrara for the first time.

      I was taken by the magnificent Welcome to Country ceremony delivered by Richard Fejo, by the wide smiles of young Indigenous children seeing their heroes up close and — of course — by the brilliant debut of Essendon’s Irving Mosquito.

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      It just felt right.

      Dreamtime at the ‘G has been spectacular success but there was something truly magical about the game being played in Darwin.

      Whatever the future holds, the Sir Doug Nicholls Round in 2020 proved more games in the Northern Territory — the birthplace of so many AFL stars — is a brilliant way to acknowledge them.


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    • Safety concerns over button batteries in wristbands handed out at AFL grand final

      Wristbands containing button batteries handed out at the AFL grand final on Saturday night in Brisbane have raised serious concerns for child safety, Kidsafe Queensland says.

      Jesani Catchpoole found the wristband device on her kitchen bench the next morning, after her husband brought it home from the game.

      “I’m a mum with three boys and I also work at the Queensland Injuries Surveillance Unit where we normally look at emergency department data and pick up a few issues around injuries, especially for the kids,” she said.

      “The button battery is one of the things we looked at and we know how dangerous it is.

      “It scares me that it was so easy to remove the button batteries, but I was kind of grateful that I was the first one who saw it — not the kids — because I knew it would take them a few seconds.”

      She said the idea that thousands of people could have taken them home scared her too.

      Jesani Catchpole with her three children in Brisbane.
      Jesani Catchpole knows how dangerous button batteries can be.(ABC News: Lily Nothling)

      “When I asked my husband, how many people had this? Are you the only one who had it? — and he said everybody had it,” she said.

      Last week the Conway family, from the Gold Coast, publicly told of their heartbreak after their three-year-old daughter Brittney died after swallowing a button battery.

      Brittney was the third Australian child to die after swallowing a button battery since 2013.

      The family said they hope for urgent government changes to regulate the use of the batteries.

      Hand holds a wristband with button batteries given out at AFL Grand Final in Brisbane
      Mum Jesani Catchpoole says the button batteries were easy to remove from the wristband.(Supplied)

      The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is working on a recommendation for mandatory regulation of button batteries.

      Twenty children are taken to hospital every week suspected of swallowing a button battery and three children have died since 2013.

      Kidsafe Queensland CEO Susan Teerds said the devices at the AFL were a prime example of why legislation was needed.

      “”We’ve been looking at this for seven years … we’ve done a lot of campaigns,” he said.

      “I still can’t believe that marketing people think that these useless little flashing devices are appropriate to put out into the public space where they could cause the death or serious injury of a child,” she said.

      Ms Teerds had a warning for anyone who attended the game.

      Wristband with button batteries removed given out at AFL Grand Final in Brisbane on October 24, 2020.
      Each week, twenty children are taken to hospital suspected of swallowing a button battery.(Supplied)

      “Find the wristband, do not take the batteries out, and put it in the bin,” she said.

      Ms Catchpole also urged people to be careful.

      “I know that the AFL grand final is probably once in a lifetime experience for many people, including my husband,” she said.

      “Keep it out of reach from kids, please.”

      The AFL has been contacted for comment.


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    • Doctor recalls frantic effort to save shark attack victim off north Queensland coast

      A doctor who helped treat shark attack victim, Richard Bettua, off the north Queensland coast yesterday says it was a “scary situation” and at one point Mr Bettua stopped breathing.

      Mr Bettua, 59, was spearfishing with a friend off Britomart Reef — just after midday on Sunday — when he was bitten by a shark on the upper thigh.

      Ben Reeves, a paediatric cardiologist in Cairns Hospital, said he and two friends had been fishing off Britomart Reef when another boat started coming towards them at speed.

      “The chap behind the wheel, waving us down to try and give some assistance… he told us that his friend had been bitten by a shark,” he said.

      Dr Reeves said Mr Bettua’s friend, had already given basic first aid and applied a tourniquet but Mr Bettua had already lost a lot of blood.

      “He was in a lot of pain and looked grey at that point, had difficulty breathing,” he said.

      Dr Reeves said they managed to lift him up onto their boat and began heading back to shore.

      Front entrance of main building in Townsville hospital in north Queensland on September 4, 2018.
      The man was airlifted to Townsville University Hospital.(ABC: Tom Edwards)

      “We all thought that the best chance for this guy was just to get back to shore as quickly as possible, and we had the faster boat by far,” he said.

      “During the trip, Rick was initially quite stable and talking to us although in a lot of pain and a bit confused but within 5 or 6 miles of the boat ramp he started drifting in and out of consciousness.

      Richard Bettua, 59, from South Mission Beach, wears a wetsuit and displays a large fish he has caught. Mr Bettua was bitten by a shark on Sunday, October 25.(Facebook: Richard Bettua)

      Emergency services met the boat at Dungeness boat ramp near Lucinda where Dr Reeves said Mr Bettua thankfully started responding to treatment.

      “At that point he was looking in a really bad way, we worked on him on the jetty, with the paramedics and there was a doctor there waiting for us as well and managed to get him back,” he said.

      Throughout the ordeal Dr Reeves said he was thankful for the communication with services back on land, as it was very scary trying to treat Mr Bettua so far out at sea.

      “All of us realised very quickly that there’s nothing much we could do except to try and get him back as fast as possible.

      “It was pretty intense for all of us… to see someone that bad and feel really quite helpless that we couldn’t do much.

      “Rick’s friend saved his life, getting him back to the boat and applying a tourniquet, without that it wouldn’t have been a good outcome.”

      Mr Bettua was taken to Townsville University Hospital for emergency surgery.

      He remains in a critical condition.

      ‘Seconds crucial’ in survival

      Hinchinbrook Mayor Raymon Jayo told ABC News Breakfast sharks were common in the area, which is popular for spearfishing.

      “People are aware and they do take precautions but this is tragic and our thoughts and prayers are with the young fella,” he said.

      Cr Jayo said the Dungeness boat ramp did not have all-tidal access and the victim and his rescuers were lucky the tide was high.

      “I was just grateful that when the boat came in, it was high tide, or near high tide, and they could get straight out to the ramp,” he said.

      “Apparently, seconds were crucial for the survival of that young fella.

      “Our concern has always been that, at the moment, we don’t have all tidal access to the ramp facilities.

      “That’s really a problem in the sense that we need half tide or better before we can launch in or out.”


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    • Showfest organisers say onlookers ‘stressed’ by Cairns showgrounds accident, woman in stable condition

      The organisers of an event where a woman plummeted several metres from a carnival ride say they have not been given any specific information about what caused the horrific incident.

      A 25-year-old woman is in a stable condition at Cairns Hospital, where she was rushed on Saturday evening after falling out of The Hangover ride at the Cairns showgrounds.

      Event organisers Showfest have expressed their deep concern for the woman’s wellbeing in a statement posted to their website.

      “As organisers of Showfest, we have been given absolutely no details of the young lady, or her family, or any specific reasons for the cause of the accident,” it reads.

      The organisers thanked paramedics and police who rushed to the woman’s aid.

      Seat with yellow tape on it where woman was sitting in on the Hangover ride at Cairns showground in Far North Queensland
      The woman was injured after falling off The Hangover ride at Cairns showgrounds on Saturday.(ABC News: Kristy Sexton-McGrath)

      “All emergency responders who were exceptional in handling the incident, arriving almost immediately to assist the lady and make practical arrangements. We are grateful for their incredible response,” they said.

      A workplace health and safety (WHS) investigation into the incident is ongoing.

      “We are working closely with Cairns Police, WHS, and emergency responders, who are investigating the incident,” the organisers said.

      Showfest has deleted its Facebook page following the incident, citing concern over speculation and rumours about what happened.


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    • Queensland Year 12 students overcome coronavirus chaos to sit for ATAR exams for the first time

      More than 37,000 Queensland Year 12 students are embarking on crucial external exams for the first time in the state, rounding off a senior year dominated by coronavirus chaos.

      The so-called “guinea pig” cohort will join graduates around the country in receiving an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) instead of an OP score.

      Navigating the new system and its standardised exams has been an added challenge for students already facing the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic.

      “I think everyone is a little bit nervous and stressed going into it because there’s a lot of unknowns,” Coomera Anglican College student Kyrra Wilks said.

      “You look forward to [Year 12] for a really long time and then obviously with COVID-19, a new system … it was pretty chaotic.”

      Griffith University's Dean of Education, Professor Donna Pendergast with her daughter Kyrra Wilks.
      Griffith University’s Dean of Education, Professor Donna Pendergast, with her Year 12 daughter Kyrra Wilks.(ABC News: Steve Keen)

      The class of 2020 was the first full cohort to attend Prep, the first Year Sevens at high school and now the first to graduate with an ATAR during a health crisis.

      Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) chief executive Chris Rider said he was confident that students were ready for exams.

      “I think we’ve done everything we can to prepare the Year 12s for the new system, but it has been difficult because of COVID,” Mr Rider said.

      Earlier this year, the QCAA removed a piece of assessment from each subject syllabus to ease pressure on students during the pandemic.

      Chris Rider sitting at a desk in an office.
      QCAA chief executive Chris Rider says it’s been “difficult” to prepare students for the new system in 2020.(ABC News: Lily Nothling)

      “We have 81 subjects that are going through external exams over just over a three-week period,” Mr Rider said.

      “You can have confidence that the result you got in one school is exactly the same as the result you would get had you gone to another school.”

      It will take 4,000 teachers about four weeks to mark all the test papers online, with results released on December 19.

      ‘They’re great survivors’

      COVID-19 has forced schools to cancel or modify big events and rites of passage for Year 12 students.

      Griffith University’s Dean of Education, Professor Donna Pendergast, said that had taken a toll on graduates who missed out on important milestones.

      “They’re great survivors.”

      With overseas gap years off the cards, Professor Pendergast said university applications were on the rise.

      “Universities have changed their entry processes so there have been a lot of early entry offers,” she said.

      “That’s given students confidence as they enter into their external exams.”

      Ipswich State High School student Mandie Horrocks plays the violin.
      Ipswich State High School student Mandie Horrocks says she’s learned to be more independent.(ABC News: Lily Nothling)

      Ipswich State High School Student Mandie Horrocks has been studying hard to secure a scholarship to study engineering next year.

      “[Learning from home] was challenging because we had to put up with technology issues and malfunctions.

      “I just have to have faith in myself and all the work and effort that I’ve put in throughout the year that I’m going to get through it OK.”


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    • More storms could be on the way for Queensland, BOM says, after thousands left without power

      The Bureau of Meteorology says it can’t rule out more wild weather across South East Queensland this week after a severe storm lashed the region yesterday.

      The system brought destructive winds of up to 93 kilometres an hour, almost 190,000 lightning strikes and heavy rain.

      A man in his 30s was struck by a falling tree during the storm, at a private property at Karalee yesterday afternoon.

      A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman said the man suffered head, shoulder and chest injuries.

      Critical Care paramedics took him to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

      Fallen power lines.
      Energex says about 190,000 lightning strikes were recorded in Brisbane storms on Sunday.(Supplied: QFES)

      The worst-affected storm areas were Karalee, Karana Downs, Mount Cotton and Victoria Point.

      Senior BOM forecaster Kimba Wong said 20 to 40 millimetres of rain fell across Brisbane in a short period of time.

      “The highest falls were 56mm at Luggage Point near the airport and the same for Brighton,” Ms Wong said.

      “We had some reports of large hail — almost giant hail really — 4cm to 5cm hail around Oxley, 4cm hail around Victoria Point and 3cm to 4cm hail at Mount Cotton.”

      Energex crews have been back out since first light this morning repairing its network.

      At one stage, 33,000 homes and businesses were without power, down to 1,400 this morning.

      Energex spokesman Danny Donald told ABC Radio Brisbane the storm was a “ripper” with lines outside Ipswich and in the Redlands brought down.

      More than 190,000 lightning strikes were recorded at the height of the storm and more than 200 sections of powerlines were taken down, according to Energex.

      “In one area we had every single wire pulled down for 10 power poles.

      The forecast for Brisbane today is calmer, with a morning shower or two, but the BOM’s Kimba Wong said there may be more storms to come.

      “From tomorrow into Wednesday we do have the chance of some severe storms in the area once again .. so always a good idea to keep up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings over the next couple of days.”


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    • Tom Petty’s 70th Birthday Bash Goes Virtual: Watch

      Tom Petty would’ve turned 70 on October 20, and to celebrate the milestone birthday some of the late rockstar’s friends, colleagues, and admirers joined forces for a virtual party. After nearly three hours of covers on SiriusXM’s Tom Petty Radio from dozens of artists including the Raconteurs and the Killers, a three-hour-long livestream kicked off that featured more covers and birthday wishes, both new and archival.

      Among the performances, Foo Fighters put their spin on “Honey Bee,” the Flaming Lips covered “Listen To Your Heart,” Beck did “Don’t Come Around Here” with Jeffertitti, Spoon performed “Breakdown,” Margo Price brought a country flare to “Crawling Back To You,” Brandi Carlile did “Wildflowers,” and the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench reunited to close out the show.

      On the non-musical side, Pearl Jam band leader Eddie Vedder shared archival footage of getting thousands of fans to sing happy birthday to Petty at one of his shows, Stevie Nicks read a letter about her friendship with the singer-songwriter, and Post Malone thanked Petty for inspiring him as a songwriter.

      Watch the stream in its entirety below.

      Earlier this month, Petty’s estate released Wildflowers and All the Rest. Read our review of the archival collection here.




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    • Why minor parties have singled out the LNP’s Member for Callide as their ‘ally’ in this Queensland election

      Voters in the central Queensland seat of Callide are faced with an “unusual” situation in politics, in that there is a lot to be said about who is not running for the seat.

      Incumbent LNP MP Colin Boyce is seeking re-election on October 31.

      But absent from the ring are his key competition — candidates from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Katter’s Australian Party (KAP).

      “One of [ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu] famous quotes was that, ‘The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without going to battle’,” Mr Boyce told the ABC.

      “That is exactly what I have done in Callide.”

      At the last state election, the two conservative minor parties seized about 39 per cent of the primary vote in the sprawling central Queensland electorate between them.

      Mr Boyce said he believed their decision not to stand candidates in Callide this time indicated they “agree with the way I approach the problems associated with politics and that I represent my community well”.

      “I think you’ll find it highly unusual.” he said.

      “That’s not a normal thing that would happen in the political cycle, I believe.”

      Katter's Australian Party Queensland leader Robbie Katter
      Robbie Katter says he regards Mr Boyce as an “ally”.(AAP: Darren England)

      But he denied he would jump ship to either minor party.

      “Absolutely not,” he said.

      “I joined the National Party when I was 20 years-old. I am firmly committed to the LNP and always have been — any suggestion otherwise is just absolute nonsense.”

      The LNP backbencher caused a stir two months ago when he crossed the floor over his party’s support for a mining rehabilitation bill, with One Nation and KAP also voting against the legislation.

      ‘Towns are literally dying’

      KAP leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter called Mr Boyce an “ally”, saying they had been impressed by his “principled” stance on reef regulations.

      “We felt MPs like him should be encouraged to stand up for their electorate and deserve to be supported,” Mr Katter said.

      “It was important for us to demonstrate to the wider public that we’ll work with people in other parties, provided they’re prepared to stand up against their party on strong principled issues.

      “We’re fighting for our lives in remote western Queensland — towns are literally dying — so we’re desperate for allies in that fight and Colin Boyce is an ally.”

      Last month, One Nation executive member James Ashby told NewsCorp the party was not running a candidate in Callide because “you don’t unseat someone who exhibits those qualities”.

      Two men in akubra hats talk in the middle of a field of crops.
      Mr Boyce (right) is adamant he will remain with the LNP.(Supplied: Colin Boyce)

      Mr Boyce said with neither One Nation nor KAP candidates running against him, he was confident he would retain his seat, which he holds with a 11.6 per cent buffer.

      “They are my competition out there. We don’t fight the Labor party, we fight the split right vote,” he said.

      “I’ve removed that factor now, so on paper I should win comfortably.”

      Former Labor speaker John Mickel — who is now a Queensland University of Technology adjunct associate professor — agreed the decision not to run a candidate in Callide was “odd”, particularly for One Nation, which in 2017 reached 43.9 per cent after preferences there.

      “It seems to be a massive oversight and missed opportunity on their part,” he said.

      “And it fits with a pretty low-energy campaign around the state.”

      Once held by former LNP deputy premier Jeff Seeney, Callide has been dubbed the state’s “economic engine room”, with a large population of people who worked in agriculture, mining and the resources sector.

      As well as the Labor Party’s candidate Gordon Earnshaw and the Greens’ Anthony Walsh, there are also two independent candidates running for Callide this state election — Loris Doessel and Adam Burling.


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    • ‘Don’t call me cute’: Bullied boy with dwarfism Quaden Bayles and mum Yarraka share reality of going ‘viral’

      He has always attracted an audience, people staring, pointing. Sometimes it’s discreet but it has always been there, strangers photographing and filming him.

      Long before he became an internet phenomenon, when he was still a toddler, there was constant negative attention when he went out.

      Because he was different, because he didn’t look like other children. Because he has dwarfism.

      “I don’t like when they record me and they don’t care. And when I’m even eating lunch, they will record me,” Quaden says. “Just be a bit more respectful and be more kind and not rude.”

      How it made him feel was amplified to tens of millions of people around the world in February when in a moment of unbearable pain his mother Yarraka posted a Facebook video of Quaden crying in despair after he had been bullied and laughed at in school because of his short stature.

      Yarraka concedes that in isolation the incident was mild, but it was a tipping point for Quaden. And the family are still dealing with the repercussions of making that one moment of their life public.

      They would see the best and the worst of humanity. It would expose them to the darkest corners of the internet where they would be viciously trolled.

      But this Aboriginal single mother comes from a long line of human rights activists and she would push back with strength.

      “Our parents taught us to fight for what we believe in and to raise our children to be proud of who they are,” Yarraka says.

      A young boy with dwarfism crosses his arms and stares into the camera with a tough expression on his face
      Quaden wants the world to know he’s just like other nine year-olds.(Instagram: @quaden_the_kid)

      The detractors don’t see the effort it takes for Quaden Bayles to get out of bed each morning. The pain of aching bones, the exhaustion of trying to keep up when you have shorter limbs, the tears, the potentially fatal breathing difficulties, the early onset arthritis, like an old man trapped in a little boy’s body.

      Major spinal surgery is one of the many operations Quaden has endured. “He is fragile,” Yarraka says.

      They don’t see either who this boy is, or that he comes from generations of resilience, advocacy and activism.

      Quaden is a Murri boy, part of a family with strong Aboriginal family values. Yarraka’s father, Tiga Bayles, was a prominent and respected Indigenous activist who set up Sydney’s Radio Redfern.

      “A beautiful, big, strong, cultural family,” Yarraka says. “We’ve been brought up by really good people with cultural integrity.”

      A young indigenous boy with a form of dwarfism dances in traditional dress. He looks to the camera with his palms spread.
      Quaden Bayles is very proud of his Indigenous heritage.(Getty Images: Jono Searle)

      Quaden is only nine years-old and just wants to be a normal kid. In his own community he has always been a “superstar”, loved and tall in self-esteem.

      Like many children the same age he likes listening to music, computer games, sport and eating.

      “I want to be Tik Tok famous. I’m just still starting, but I’m about to hit 10,000 likes and we’re going to celebrate,” he says.

      His older twin sisters Guyala and Yilan are very close to their brother

      “He’s like one of the girls, really. We just we do everything together,” laughs Guyala. “Quaden is always up to something, he’s such a cheeky little boy, he’s always playing little jokes and trying to scare me.”

      A young boy stands posing in a shop with bright oversized glasses and a hat on. He is smiling with a backpack over his shoulder.
      From a young age Quaden already had bucketloads of personality.(Supplied by Yarraka Bayles)

      Everything came ‘crashing down’ with diagnosis

      Yarraka was the first person in her family to go to university, but at 17 her plans were thrown into disarray when she became pregnant with twins.

      By the time Quaden came along, 11 years later, the timing was better and she was excited.

      “I was 29, fit and healthy,” she says.

      “We were working, everything was financially safe and secure.

      “It was a healthy pregnancy, everything was beautiful.”

      Yarraka Bayles
      Yarraka Bayles pregnant with her son, Quaden with twin daughters Yilan and Guyala by her side.(Supplied: Yarraka Bayles)

      Yarraka, her partner Quaden Senior and her twin daughters were euphoric for three days after the birth. Then came a diagnosis of achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism caused by a random mutation at conception.

      The bones of Quadens arms and legs would never grow to their full height.

      “Everything came crashing down.” Yarraka says.

      ‘I felt robbed because I couldn’t enjoy just celebrating the birth of my beautiful baby.

      “It was really daunting. It sent me into a very deep depression, probably for about the first two years.”

      A young toddler boy smiles at the camera as he lays on his stomach at the beach
      Yarraka admits she was in denial about Quaden’s diagnosis when he was a baby.(Supplied by Yarraka Bayles)

      While Quaden Snr was researching online Yarraka retreated into denial. It would tear their relationship apart and they separated when Quaden was two-and-a-half.

      “I was telling myself that the doctors had gotten his diagnosis wrong. And I just I couldn’t accept it. He looked perfect to me and he still does.”

      Quaden needed multiple hospital visits and surgery for a compressed spine. He goes into respiratory failure every time he falls asleep and needs a machine to help him breathe.

      But despite these challenges he loves his sport.

      Queensland Children’s Hospital physiotherapist Penny Ireland says Quaden has a huge drive to problem solve.

      “He has the best ball skills of anyone I’ve ever worked with,” Dr Ireland says.

      “I’m good at AFL, football and basketball,” Quaden says. “I want to be a really good NBA player and like my cousin Biwali [Bayles] he’s in Hawaii playing NBA college.”

      Young Quaden Bayles with Chicago Bulls hoodie
      Quaden is a big sports fun, with basketball his favourite to play.(Supplied by Yarraka)

      ‘We found our tribe’: Dwarfism community embraces Quaden

      It wasn’t until Yarraka took her son to physiotherapy and occupational therapy that she met other families with dwarfism. It was a turning point.

      “Here are amazing people in the dwarfism community around the world that are living their best life,” she says.

      “Once I started seeing that it was a huge weight lifted off my shoulder. It was almost like I found my tribe.”

      With the families she met, Yarraka helped to establish the non-profit group Dwarfism Awareness Australia.

      “It’s opened our minds and our hearts to a whole new world that we would never have experienced if we didn’t have Quaden in our lives,” she says. “It’d be so boring without him.”

      A young boy with dwarfism stands ready for school with a smile. He is wearing an oversized backpack with his hands folded.
      Quaden Bayles is ready for a day at Prep.(Supplied by Yarraka Bayles)

      The distressing video that went viral

      By February this year, the problems for Quaden at school came to a head. Then he stopped wanting to go to school at all.

      “He’d come home and told me that children were calling him a midget … just teasing and name calling. The verbal attacks and being a sensitive soul, it really affects him,” Yarraka says.

      “I don’t like the ‘m’ word … and people call me the cute word and I don’t like the word cute,” Quaden says.

      “I think it’s just the new kids and the parents don’t tell them … this kid has a disability you can’t be rude.”

      On February 19, the principal reached out to Yarraka, suggesting he come to school because the Brisbane Bullets basketball team were visiting. As soon as she picked up him Yarraka knew it had been a bad day. As the world would soon find out, “he was hysterical.”

      Young Indigenous boy Quaden Bayles looks into the camera with tears in his eyes while sitting in a car
      A still from the viral video shows Quaden in tears.(Facebook: Yarraka Bayles)

      “There’s nothing quite like the pain that you feel when it’s not you that’s being ridiculed, but it’s your child,” family friend Nicola Joseph says.

      Quaden was so upset he would not allow his Mum to comfort him. Feeling helpless Yarraka filmed his distress and posted on Facebook Live. She says it was a genuine cry for help.

      By the morning it was viral. “I woke up, my phone’s realing up. We’ve got media at our door. I’ve got non-stop call after call. And I am like, ‘What the hell have I done?’,” Yarraka says.

      Messages of support came from all over the world, Hugh Jackman, Jonathan Thurston and the Indigenous All Stars rugby league team among them. A few days later Quaden would lead the All Stars onto the field in a blaze of publicity.

      “It was fun and I wanted to run with them but I didn’t get to because they thought I said to walk out with them, but I said run. It was a really big crowd saying my name and I got a bit, like, shy,” he says.

      Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
      Quaden was in awe of his sporting heroes when he led out the Indigenous All-Stars team.

      Brad Williams, a comedian in America who also has dwarfism, reached out and asked if he could set up a Go Fund Me page for Quaden to go to Disneyland. Within 24 hours they had reached their target of $10,000.

      And then, says Yarraka, “It just kept going and going and going.”

      What began as a surge of goodwill turned shatteringly ugly and racist as the trolls emerged.

      “I think when things started turning sour is when people started seeing how much money was being donated,” Yarraka says.

      “We then became under attack for being fraudsters or scammers.”

      A woman sits in her home looking out to the distance with a vacant expression. She holds her young son's football jersey.
      Yarraka was shocked when the world turned on her son.(Australian Story: Anthony Sines)

      Yarraka was accused of scamming, of coaching Quaden, of teaching him to be a victim, of him being an 18-year-old actor who was already rich and famous. That it was all fake, a con.

      “I’m nine, almost turning 10. People think I’m 18, but I’m really not, trust me,” Quaden says dryly.

      Over the shoulder shot of a woman holding a mobile phone with cruel messages on it in an application
      Yarraka and Quaden were barraged with vile messages from strangers.(Australian Story: Anthony Sines)

      Yarraka contacted lawyer George Newhouse, who had known her father Tiga well. “I was horrified by it,” he says now. “It was truly frightening.

      “I have never seen the amount of vilification that came out of this one event. It was relentless.

      “There were hundreds of people, in fact, thousands of people involved in perpetrating this violent abuse.”

      Because most of the trolling was coming out of the United States, Newhouse contacted Eric Boone, a lawyer with international experience dealing with internet vilification.

      It became a fast moving roller coaster ride.

      “Of the 120 videos that we had identified we got about 106 taken down,” Eric says.

      “But with every step we found another platform that you then need to look at and upon doing that we saw this proliferation of fake and impostor accounts targeting the family with all kinds of defamatory, racist, harmful commentary.”

      A young boy with a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia sits in a chair and looks down. His expression is neutral.
      Quaden’s viral video exposed the darkest corners of the internet.(Australian Story: Anthony Sines)

      Newscorp columnist Miranda Devine stepped into the fray and retweeted some of the scamming claims.

      “It’s really concerning that you have high-profile people that don’t do their due diligence because a lot of people obviously believed her,” Yarraka says.

      A request for an apology was rejected and Yarraka’s legal team proceeded with a defamation case.

      The matter was settled and Miranda Devine apologised on September 19. “I now know those comments were hurtful and untrue,” she tweeted.

      “We’re happy to just put that behind us and move on with the rest of our lives,” Yarraka says.

      Yarraka and Quaden Bayles have triumphed over the trolls.(Australian Story: Rebecca Armstrong)

      Push for Quaden’s Law to stop bullying

      Brad Williams’ campaign raised about $630,000. The family declined to take the trip to Disneyland and in consultation with Williams the money has been split between six charities including Dwarfism Awareness Australia and the Balanu Foundation.

      A small amount has been kept in trust for Quaden.

      Since the tumultuous social media pile-on the family have been putting their lives back together and Yarraka says the good outcomes have outweighed the bad.

      Quaden returned to school in June but Yarraka says they are taking it day by day. He has a detailed care plan to help him through his school life and a male Indigenous support worker.

      At the Disability Royal Commission earlier this month, Yarraka said she would like to see a “Quaden’s Law” rolled out in schools to protect children from bullying.

      “It’s by no means an attack on any student or staff member or school, it’s something that requires a holistic approach. We need to be teaching our children to more accepting,” Yarraka says.

      A woman smiles as she sits next to her son who has dwarfism. Person wearing a black hoodie holds up three fingers in foreground
      Yarraka says she and Quaden share a special ‘mother-son’ bond.(Australian Story: Anthony Sines)

      Being Quaden, he has big plans, which include bypassing school altogether and going straight to college, being a basketballer, footballer or a gamer.

      And acting is in his sights following an invitation to play a small part in George Miller’s next movie Three Thousand Years of Longing, starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton.

      “I wanted to act when I was a little kid, like I wanted to be in comedy … I like to make people laugh so this will be like my first movie,” Quaden says.

      When he makes his millions, he says he will, “Buy a house and a car for my mum and help the homeless and be a good man”.

      Watch Australian Story’s About a Boy, 8:00pm (AEDT), on ABCTV , iview and Youtube


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    • Adele Sings Her Hits in ‘The Bachelor’ Sketch on ‘SNL’

      After two stints as Saturday Night Live’s musical guest, Adele made her hosting debut last night. While some musicians opt to take double duty, H.E.R. performed on the show for the first time ever while the pop superstar focused on acting. However, she did treat fans to snippets of some of her hits during “The Bachelor” sketch, where she competed against a bunch of Hannahs to win a rose from Beck Bennett’s “Ben K.”.

      “I’m here because I’ve had a lot of heartbreak in my life, first at 19, then sort of famously at 21 and then even more famously at 25,” Adele explained, playing herself. “But I have a really good feeling about Ben K. It’s only Night One, but I can already tell he’s going to be the love of my life.”

      During the course of the sketch, Adele broke into song on multiple occasions, singing “Someone Like You,” “Hello,” “When We Were Young,” and “Rolling In The Deep” at the most inappropriate times.

      Watch the sketch below.

      Aside from appearing in sketches opposite Kate McKinnon (“Madame Vivelda”), Maya Rudolph (“Visiting Grandma”), and Pete Davidson (“Chad In A Haunted Mansion”), as well as commercials called “Ass Angel Jeans” and “Africa Tourism,” Adele gave fans an update about her upcoming album during her opening monologue, saying it wasn’t yet finished.

      Watch all the highlights below.




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    • Fiona Apple Slyly Endorses Joe Biden in Voting PSA

      Early voting is in full swing, and Fiona Apple’s encouraging people to go out and vote the best way she knows how: through song.

      Apple’s good friend Zelda Hallman shared a video on Instagram of the singer-songwriter singing George and Ira Gershwin’s “Bidin’ My Time,” from their 1930 musical Girl Crazy – a sly endorsement to the Democratic nominee Joe Biden — and holding up her “I Voted” sticker. The post is simply captioned “Vote.”

      It’s no surprise Apple voted for the more progressive candidate. She recently narrated a short film that demonstrates how to document ICE arrests, campaigned to help indigenous groups fight COVID-19, and pledged to donate two years of TV and movie placement royalties from Fetch the Bolt Cutters tracks “Heavy Balloon” and “Shameika” to various charities.




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    • Brisbane Heat, Adelaide Strikers beat Sydney’s wet weather to record WBBL victories

      The Brisbane Heat and Adelaide Strikers have opened the sixth WBBL season with convincing wins on a day where Sydney’s wet weather saw two matches called off.

      The Heat won by seven wickets in their clash with the Perth Scorchers at North Sydney Oval, while the Strikers posted an eight-wicket victory against the Hobart Hurricanes across town at Hurstville Oval.

      But incessant rain meant the Sydney derby between the Sixers and Thunders at North Sydney Oval was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

      Play had got underway in the Hurstville Oval encounter between the two Melbourne teams, the Renegades and Stars, but the afternoon rain stopped the match and it was eventually called off.

      The Stars had reached 4-127 from 17 overs, with Australia captain Meg Lanning unbeaten on 51, when rain halted play.

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      The 59-match WBBL season is being staged entirely in Sydney because of the coronavirus pandemic, with players and officials based in a biosecurity bubble at Olympic Park.

      Earlier in the day at North Sydney Oval, Beth Mooney top-scored for new side Perth but her former team Brisbane got the last laugh.

      Mooney, the T20 player of the tournament in Australia’s World Cup win on home soil earlier this year, compiled a composed 37 before being run out in the Scorchers’ total of 7-132.

      But after strong starts from their top four batters, the Scorchers failed to reach a commanding total, with Heat bowlers Nicola Hanohhh (2-25) and Delissa Kimmince (2-26) keeping them in check.

      The Heat chased down the victory target of 133 in 17 overs.

      The defending champions were anchored by a superb 78-run partnership between Georgia Redmayne (37 not out) and Grace Harris (53).

      The Strikers closed out their match against the Hurricanes at Hurstville Oval before the weather could close in.

      Megan Schutt (2-14) sensationally dismissed Hurricanes batters Rachel Priest and Hayley Matthews in consecutive balls in the first over.

      The Hurricanes never recovered and were eventually bowled out for 84.

      Naomi Stalenberg top scored for the Hurricanes with 28, while Darcie Brown (3-13) and Amanda-Jade Wellington (3-19) picked up where Schutt left off.

      The Strikers made light work of the run chase, with South Africa international Laura Wolvaardt (51 not out) at one stage clubbing four boundaries in six balls.

      They secured the result in 14 overs for the loss of two wickets.

      AAP/ABC


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    • Brisbane Broncos win third straight NRLW premiership with narrow win over Sydney Roosters

      The Brisbane Broncos have underlined their status as the preeminent force in women’s rugby league, securing a 20-10 victory over the Sydney Roosters to claim their third straight NRLW premiership at a sopping wet Olympic stadium.

      The Roosters enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the tough conditions, having use of the ball 57 per cent of the time, but the Broncos were cleaner with the ball in attack, scoring four tries to two.

      Amber Hall, who ran for a team-high 147 metres from 16 carries, and scored the Broncos’ second, barnstorming try, was awarded the Karyn Murphy medal as player of the match.

      The tricolours started brightly but it was Brisbane that drew first blood after capitalising on an early handling error.

      Impressive halfback Tarryn Aiken scythed through the Roosters’ right edge defence, brushing a weak tackle before passing back inside, putting full-back Tamika Upton away to score untouched under the posts.

      Minutes later, the Broncos were in again, Aiken providing another pass to the rampaging second rower Amber Hall, who ignored Shenae Ciesiolka on her outside to power through the Roosters’ frantically backtracking defensive line for a second score.

      Meg Ward landed the conversion from the sideline and Brisbane led 12-0 after just nine minutes.

      Brisbane Broncos women's players hug and smile at each other in a group
      Tamika Upton (right) scored the Broncos’ opening try of the game.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

      Despite the frantic start, the Roosters continued to test the Broncos’ defence, earning back-to-back penalties and a repeat set thanks to a perfectly weighted kick by Melanie Howard.

      Yasmin Meakes scored as a result of that pressure, diving over in the corner as the Roosters moved the ball quickly through the hands to the right wing.

      Another repeat set earned the Roosters a second try, Sarah Togatuki barrelling into the Broncos’ line with 15 metres post-contact to set up Quincy Dodd for a simple pick and drive from dummy half.

      Zahara Temara nailed the conversion and the Roosters trailed by just two heading into the break.

      If the Broncos were rattled by the Roosters’ fast finish to the opening 30, they countered brilliantly at the start of the second half.

      Chelsea Lenarduzzi, who started on the bench, crashed over to finish a perfect one-two punch featuring another powerful run from Hall and a lovely reverse pass from Aiken.

      Hannah Southwell attempted to spark the Roosters with two huge hits in the middle, the second of which forced an error from Millie Boyle.

      Millie Boyle is tackled with a players arm around her face
      Millie Boyle made a game-high 28 tackles in the grand final.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

      But as the rain tumbled down on the players, Brisbane used its powerful runners to work its way back upfield with hard metres up the middle in the slippery conditions.

      Ali Brigginshaw drew three defenders and put Tallesha Harden over untouched with a sublimely timed pass to move 10 points clear.

      Two uncharacteristic misses off the tee from Ward kept the Roosters interested, but handling errors at inopportune times let the Broncos off the hook.

      A lot of those errors, just 10 from the Roosters in difficult conditions, were forced by some excellent defensive pressure from the Broncos.

      The Broncos’ third straight NRLW crown comes as a result of the team losing just one game in the three-year history of the NRLW.

      The Broncos beat the Roosters in the league’s first season in 2018, and then defeated St George-Illawarra Dragons in last year’s decider.

      The victory capped a great week for Brisbane, following Broncos’ skipper Brigginshaw’s win as Dally M female player of the year.


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    • Wild storms lash south-east Queensland, leaving thousands without power

      Almost 29,000 homes across south-east Queensland have lost power due to destructive winds, lightning and heavy rain, Energex says.

      Another 10,000 Ergon customers in regional Queensland are also understood to have lost electricity.

      Energex, meanwhile, has recorded more than 1,500 lightning strikes across the region, and hail is pummelling Brisbane’s western and southern suburbs.

      Hailstones are seen next to a measuring tape, showing them to be about four or five centres across.
      Hail has fallen across Brisbane, which is being hit by severe storms.(Supplied: Nick Hertzwig)

      The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) on Sunday afternoon issued a severe storm warning for the Ipswich, Logan, Somerset, Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley, Gold Coast, Redland City and Brisbane City council areas.

      Residents in Bundamba, Forest Lake, Wacol, Runcorn and Acacia Ridge have all reported hail.

      A queue of vehicles sits behind trees and branches that have fallen across a two-lane highway
      The eastbound lanes of the Warrego Highway have been blocked near Ipswich.(Supplied: Andrew Flett)

      Energex said more than 6,700 people had lost power in Brisbane, while 10,817 customers in Ipswich and about 9,000 in Redland were affected.

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      BOM meteorologist Michael Gray said Monday would be a drier day, but Tuesday was likely to bring another burst of wet weather anywhere between Townsville and the New South Wales border.

      “There’s an upper low developing over New South Wales, which is going to bring more of those over the next few days,” he said.


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    • The Strokes to Appear as Musical Guest on ‘SNL’ Next Week

      After a year that started off with a bang, the Strokes ended up having their best-laid plans fizzle out due to the pandemic. They did, if you remember, release an album, the now-eerily titled The New Abnormal in April.

      Instead of building off the momentum of playing a Bernie Sanders rally in February and a handful of other shows in Europe and the States, Julian Casablancas and company will hit Saturday Night Live as the musical guest next Saturday on Halloween.

      John Mulaney will host the episode.

      See the announcement below.




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    • Offset Detained By Beverly Hills Police After Confrontation

      With the election around the corner, tensions are undoubtedly high in the country. Today in Beverly Hills, the site where Trump rallies have taken place every weekend for the past few months, things took a turn when Migos rapper Offset was arrested after a spat with Trump supporters.

      Documenting the event on Instagram Live, Offset, who was following his wife Cardi B through Beverly Hills, was detained by Beverly Hills Police after he said that Trump supporters were banging their flags on his car. In a separate video on her Instagram Stories, Cardi B aired footage of the protest.

      “We were told that you guys were waving guns at people,” an officer said in the interaction.

      “You just watched somebody beat my car up with a flag. What are you talking about?” Offset told the officer.

      Another officer told him not to move and open the car door, to which Offset responded was illegal.

      “You can’t just open my door,” he said. “It’s illegal and I’m going to sue the shit out of y’all, do you know who I am?”

      However, a spokesperson for the Beverly Hills Police Department told SPIN that Marcelo Almanzar, who is Cardi B’s cousin, was arrested on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon and carrying a loaded firearm in public. His bail is set at $35,000.

      Watch the video of the incident below.

      After being detained, it looks according to the video below, that Offset was released.




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    • Resi-care in Queensland is meant to be a last resort, but it’s needed more than ever

      Just before his 16th birthday, Zephaniah Kennedy admitted himself to the Toowoomba Youth Mental Health Service ward and spent the next three days there on suicide watch.

      Zephaniah, who had been in the child protection system since the age of 10, feared for his future after another foster placement had broken down.

      “I felt so absolutely robbed [of] hope,” he said.

      “I very well could have ended up in a residential care scenario.

      The Queensland Government’s Youth Residential Care Service, known as “resi-care”, is a placement program for children aged 12-17 with complex needs, where care is provided as a last resort by a team of rostered employees.

      A young man stands in the garden in front of their family home.
      Toowoomba man Zephaniah Kennedy is now working towards a career helping other foster children.(ABC Southern Qld: Nathan Morris)

      A recent auditor-general’s report identified a system under extreme pressure.

      It found the number of children in residential care in Queensland had increased by 45 percent — from 656 in 2013/14 to 951 in 2018/19.

      The report found almost one third of children placed in residential care were younger than 12.

      It detailed child safety officers’ concerns about the quality of care, with some instances where “children were placed into environments that were unsuitable and sometimes worse than where they had come from.”

      Cavoodles a ‘bandaid solution’

      Toowoomba charity Hope For Our Children trains therapy dogs to help support children in residential care.

      “If they can’t control angry outbursts, deep depression, impulse control, they can actually use the dog as a way of settling them,” founder Nadine Wright said.

      “If they’re having a meltdown, the dog can be trained to lick their face or lean on them and give them that deep pressure response which they need, sensory-wise, when they’re in an uncomfortable situation.”

      She said the dogs were also used in courtrooms and in the removal process.

      “They can talk to the police because they can stay in a better regulated emotional zone to be able to recall abuse, and to be able to give them better justice,” she said.

      The charity has a two-year-old therapy dog, with another in training.

      The cost can run between $15,000 and $20,000 per animal — but the charity believes it is a temporary fix for systemic failures.

      A black cavoodle sits on a Toowoomba footpath.
      Two-year-old therapy dog Hope works at the Toowoomba hospital and the charity has big plans for her future.(ABC Southern Qld: Nathan Morris)

      Figures tabled in State Parliament showed almost $70 million was allocated to residential care providers in the south-west region last financial year, including Ipswich and Toowoomba — the highest allocation of its type in the state.

      “The south-west region isn’t the biggest geographical area of child safety and it’s not the most dense population-wise,” Ms Wright said.

      “To have the highest amount of money spent on our resi-care is really disappointing, because the outcomes for kids and resi-care aren’t good.

      Report outcomes to filter through

      The auditor-general made five recommendations relating to out-of-home care, including placing children in the “most appropriate and stable type of care to meet their needs, rather than based on availability of care”.

      It also recommended “improving the quality and availability of out-of-home care options” and reviewing the training and qualifications of carers.

      Queensland’s Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women, Di Farmer, said the auditor-general’s report acknowledged much had been achieved in the child protection system in recent years.

      “The staff and agencies who run [residential facilities] do a great job under difficult circumstances,” Ms Farmer said.

      “Many of the children in residential care placements are traumatised, they’ve suffered abuse, neglect, or have a disability.

      “Residential care places have rules to keep children safe and sadly some have been neglected by their parents to the extent they have challenging behaviour.

      “A lot of good is achieved in residential care.”

      She said the Government had invested $1.3 billion this year in care and had added an extra 500 frontline child safety officers.

      Working through having ‘a new child’

      Zephaniah was one step away from resi-care after being shuffled between 13 different homes in less than six years.

      But meeting Toowoomba teacher David Wilcox during high school changed his life.

      He was invited to join their family under a kinship care arrangement more than three years ago.

      Two parents and three grown up children stand in their garden.
      The Wilcoxes say Zeph has enriched their family.(ABC Southern Qld: Nathan Morris)

      “I guess the added complexity of having someone who’s not biologically yours … they come with a package of themselves that we don’t know about, that we didn’t help to form,” Mr Wilcox said.

      “But we were determined to work through that, to navigate all of that.

      “To be able to love a new person as a new child in your family is the greatest thing that you can do for yourself, but also for them, obviously.”

      Zeph is now aiming for a career in the child protection system to support other children at risk.

      “I’ve walked the same journey that you have walked through, understand some of the difficulty,” he said.


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