The 95-year-old taking on China’s ‘great catastrophe’

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Bill Ryan, a veteran of the Kokoda campaign against the Japanese, says ‘s future depends on winning the battle against the giant coal mines proposed by Adani and other miners in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
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“We went away to save ,” Mr Ryan, now 95, said outside the Sydney offices of mining contractor Downer on Tuesday. “If we don’t put a stop to these megamines???we’ll end up with a great catastrophe for .”

Mr Ryan was one of about 15 protesters from the Galilee Blockade group who tried to meet Downer chief executive Grant Fenn and other executives to encourage the firm to drop its “preferred contractor” status with Adani.

The Indian-owned miner wants to open up the Galilee with its proposed $16 billion-plus 60 million-tonne-a-year Carmichael mine.

The veteran, who was wounded in action in 1942 and later returned to fight in New Britain, has been arrested in previous protests against coal and coal seam gas.

“I know you’ve got to fight against things that are not right,” Mr Ryan said. “It’s a beautiful country and we can’t allow it to be damaged any more by outdated industries such as fossil fuels.”

Michael Sharp, a spokesman for Downer, said staff had been told in advance “if you can work from home, you should consider it”. Chief executive Mr Fenn was away for the day as well.

Mr Sharp dismissed protesters’ claims that Downer’s offices were largely empty, saying about 200 staff had turned up and others may be out visiting other facilities.

Downer would only become a contractor if it won Adani’s tender and the mine “had all the government and environmental approvals”, he said.

Critics have blasted the risks posed by opening up massive new coal mines at a time when global warming is already threatening the Great Barrier Reef. Some two-thirds of the region’s reefs have bleached in the past two summers as temperature thresholds exceed the tolerance levels of corals.

There are other concerns about Adani’s proposed unlimited access to groundwater and its rehabilitation plans if the mine ever gets developed.

Government backers, such as federal resources minister Matthew Canavan, argue the mine would generate thousands of jobs and displace dirtier coal being burnt by likely customers in India. ‘Resistance-style strategy’

Ben Pennings, a spokesman for Galilee Blockade, said the aim of the protest – and other planned against Downer – was to show “it’s worth their while to get out of bed with Adani”.

“We’re not after their jobs, or to close the road they’re working on, or the solar plant and the wind plant” or even other coal mines, he said.

The group plans “a resistance-style strategy to stop them entering what we consider to be a climate catastrophe and risk hundreds of millions of lives”, he said.

Mr Ryan, whose previous arrests include obstructing trains by squatting rail lines “on a number of occasions”, said non-violent action was needed because companies “take no notice otherwise”.

“We know we have the people with us and I’ll continue as long as I can push my walker around,” the Sutherland Shire resident said.

‘Having their nipples pinched’: harrowing accounts of school bullying

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Every child in NSW has a legal right to access and participate in education, regardless of disability or special needs.
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But Carly Landa said there were “definitely negative consequences” to sending her son to school.

Louie, now 11, went to school for three years before his parents decided to home-school him.

“For Louie, it just didn’t work,” she said of her son, who is on the autism spectrum. “The ideal is every student’s needs are met and that every student is supported as a learner.

“But the reality just doesn’t actually translate. The numbers in the classroom, the lack of support.”

However, the decision to home educate children with disabilities or special needs means they do not receive the support provided to other students – a situation parents want the NSW government to address by funding services. Schools unable to meet children’s needs

A NSW parliamentary inquiry into students with a disability or special needs has been told many parents choose home education because schools do not adequately cater to their children’s needs.

“Students with a disability are commonly home educated because parents believe that schools will be unable to meet their needs … or to protect them from harm,” according to the Home Education Association’s submission to the inquiry.

One parent gave the inquiry a harrowing account of the bullying experienced by her 11-year-old daughter, who has a moderate intellectual disability and autism.

“She was bitten with blood drawn, hair ripped out of her head, arms twisted and bruises every day of the week,” the parent, whose name was suppressed, said.

Complaints to the school were given short shrift, the parent said. “Their response was that her being hit was good opportunity to teach the hitter that they shouldn’t hit.”

The parent said the situation was even worse at another school, where the girl and other girls in her class were indecently assaulted by the boys.

“They were also assaulted by having their nipples pinched until they cried, had their skirts lifted and indecently touched under their pants, punched, kicked, pinched and pushed.”

The inquiry, which will conduct its next hearing in Shellharbour on Friday, was told boys in the class would “regularly masturbate” in the classroom, with teachers refusing to take action to stop the behaviour.

“The principal said she could do nothing about the goings-on in the class,” the parent said.

The parent said she turned to home education after the Department of Education refused her application for distance education: “I have to rely on a carer payment from Centerlink (sic). My ability to earn an income and provide for my daughter has been devastated.”

The HEA’s submission included the experience of a parent resorting to home education after her son, who had learning disabilities, suffered escalating violence and bullying at school.

“Things got so bad that he began to self-harm, smashing his head against walls because he felt so completely distressed,” the parent said. “It was in desperation that I decided to try home education.”

Nicole Rogerson, the chief executive of Autism Awareness , said successive state governments had paid “lip service” to inclusion.

“Teachers are untrained and hideously under-resourced,” she said. “The Education Department makes big claims as to how children with disability have a home in their local schools but rarely does it play out in practice.

“Schools are routinely discouraging parents from enrolling their children and suggesting they would be better off in a school which can cater better to that child.”

Ms Rogerson said: “Other schools merely suspend children with challenging behaviour, which means the child who finds school difficult gets rewarded by not coming to school with a suspension.” ‘These students appear not to count’

Karleen Gribble, the disability spokeswoman for the HEA, said a “high proportion” of home-educated children have a disability or special needs, ranging from autism or anxiety to hearing and visual impairment.

Ms Gribble said children may be traumatised by negative experiences with schooling.

In contrast, the HEA’s submission said children’s medical conditions often improve after home education is started: “It is extremely common for children who had been prescribed medications for psychological or behavioural issues to be able to eliminate or reduce their medication.”

She said exact numbers were not known because data is not collected: “Since they are not counted, these students appear not to count to government or education authorities.”

A federal parliamentary inquiry recommended in 2016 the collection of data about home-schooled students with a disability as well as measures to improve educational outcomes and address bullying.

There has been a “steady increase” in the number of home-schooled children in NSW over the past 10 years, with more than 4000 students registered at the end of 2016, according to the NSW Education Standards Authority.

Of the 80 per cent of parents who provided a reason for choosing to home educate, around one in five nominated special learning needs, compared to 10 per cent in 2012, a NESA spokesman said.

Ms Landa said her son’s needs were complex. Louie has been tested as gifted, but is on the autism spectrum and has anxiety. He also has dysgraphia, a learning disability that affects his ability to write.

Ms Landa said Louie’s abilities in areas such as mathematics and history is at a high school level.

“Home education allows us to go beyond what they teach in school and focus on what he’s interested in,” she said. A lack of support

Yet removal from the school system in NSW means that children with disabilities or special needs do not receive the support services provided to other students.

Apart from a carer allowance of around $55 a week, Ms Landa said she did not receive any funding or support for Louie’s educational needs.

In contrast, other states like Western provide support for home educated children.

“Families who have a child with a disability are those who often struggle the hardest to gain access to resources that their child needs because such resources can be very expensive,” the HEA’s submission said. “This is compounded by the fact that families are often foregoing an income in order to home educate.”

The HEA is pressing for data to be collected on home educated students with disabilities and special needs as well as access to the same resources provided to other students and the option of attending school part-time.

Ms Gribble said the National Disability Insurance Scheme was a “potential” source of support but it was complicated: “For children in institutional schooling, NDIS does not provide for support for anything that it is considered the school should be providing.”

A NSW Department of Education spokesman said the state government spent more than $1 billion to support 100,000 students with disability in the state’s public schools.

“Students with disability are educated either in a regular or specialist support class, depending on their assessed needs and preferences of their parents, with specialist support classes planned and established annually to meet local student need,” he said.

“The department also provides a wide range of professional learning and support for teachers to extend their knowledge and skills in teaching students with disability.”

Tim Mulroy, the vice-president of the NSW Teachers Federation, said schools had been left without adequate resources to meet the needs of all students.

“Students with high functioning autism are now provided with a much more limited funding arrangement which needs to be addressed,” he said.

Mr Mulroy said distance education centres could be utilised by students schooled at home.

“The federation’s view on home schooling is that an inclusive public school setting in which a student can develop not only their academic needs but also their social competence is preferred to a situation in which the student is learning in isolation from their peers,” he said.

NPL: Broadmeadow coach Ruben Zadkovich frustrated by change to injury waiver rule

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BLOW: Magic midfielder Alex Kantarovski will miss the rest of the season after again rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament. Picture: Jonathan CarrollAnother season-ending knee operation to Alex Kantarovski, a host of other injurylossesand a rule change have left Broadmeadow coach Ruben Zadkovich in a bittersweet situation.
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Kantarovski, who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament early in 2015, hurt the same knee in training before the 7-0 loss to Maitland on May 7. Not believing it was serious, the holding midfielder planned to play against Maitland butpulled out in the warm-up.

Scans later revealed a rupture to the repaired ACL in what Zadkovich said was a “big blow” to his side.

Magic are also without defenders Jon Griffiths (shoulder), Scott Robertson (ankle) and Lawrence Foteff (hip) for the immediate future, whilethe versatileJayden Barber (knee) has withdrawn.

Before this year, Zadkovich would have been able to sign a player from a rival club on an injury waiver for Kantarovski outside the windows for player points system (PPS)roster changes.

However, that concession was removed before this season after being seen as a loophole allowing clubs to poach players. Clubsare still able to recruit players on injury waivers from outside the NNSW NPL before June 30.Zadkovich believes the change encourages clubs to look past local talent.

“By putting the rule in, all the association has done is made it very difficult to replace someone with quality,” Zadkovich said. “We’ve lost Alex Kantarovski, one of our best midfielders, but we can’t sign anyone else from this league.

“We’ve got to go outside this league and you think that means going to Sydney or further. Then you’ve got to get them to come here and we’re not one of the big-money clubs. Broadmeadow has never been that type of club that’s going to lure big-name players and throw money at them.

“I don’t understand the rule because there are probably guys that are decent footballers in this league who are not getting the game time they’d like and potentially could come and play. That is promoting footballers and giving them an opportunity in this league.But we can’t do it and I find it very frustrating.”

The first-year coach said Magic were without four starting players and he would again turn to youngsterslikeJeremy Wilson, Charlie Cox andJacobDowse for the FFA Cup game against New Lambton at Alder Park on Wednesday night and against Hamilton on Sunday.

“The situation forces me to do something I like doing anyway, that’s putting my faith into the young kids at my club,” he said.

“They will get that opportunity tomorrow night and again on Sunday, and they will be well equipped to give it a crack.If they fall short, we certainly won’t be hanging them out todry.

“They good footballers and the future of the club, but are they ready to tackle Olympic in a derby? We’re about to find out.”

ReviewTwo to Tango

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Theatre ReviewTwo to TangoDAPA, at DAPA Theatre, HamiltonEnds May 27THE two plays on this double bill, Haiku and Last Tango in Little Grimley, each run for about 35 minutes, and they show just how engaging and universally entertaining short plays that are well written and staged can be.
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Haiku, by American playwright Kate Snodgrass, is the moving story of an ageing mother’s efforts to get her married daughter to help care for the live-at-home sister who has suffered from autism since childhood. The autistic girl wears a helmet to prevent her damaging her brain when she frustratedly beats her head.

Director Philip McGrath and the actors – Karen Lantry as the mother, Nell; Alison Cox as the autistic daughter, Louise; and Leanne Guihot as the demanding sister, Billie – affectingly bring out the relationships, with Billie shown in childhood flashbacks bullying Louise, and not believing her mother’s assertion that beautifully expressed Japanese haiku-style poetry that was published under her name was actually voiced by Louise.

Lantry’s Nell shows the warmth the mother has for both of her daughters, trying to make Louise feel comfortable in dark moments she experiences before Billie’s arrival, and giving understanding responses to Billie’s sharply expressed scepticism about Louise’s capabilities. Cox’s voice and expressions change swiftly and movingly as she responds to the words and movements of her mother and sister. And Guihot’s Billie, unsurprisingly, repeatedly makes clear her belief that she suffered in her upbringing because of the attention her mother gave to Louise.

McGrath takes to the stage in British writer David Tristram’s Last Tango in Little Grimley as the chairman of an amateur theatre company with just four members that is facing closure because of declining audiences. Much to the concern of the other members – played by Karen Lantry, David Yarrow and Allison Van Gaal – he writes a sex comedy aimed at selling tickets. Director Isobel Denholm and the players amusingly take the story through rehearsals and a post-opening night meeting. It’s easy to see real people in these actors, each of whom see themselves as having the right idea for saving the company.

McGrath’s Gordon ignores the often sensible suggestions made by the other company members, and his behaviour as director during the play’s rehearsals, while it has the audience laughing, will be familiar to many people who have been involved in theatre. Lantry’s Joyce sees herself as the company’s star, but her performance in rehearsals amusingly contradicts that. Nonetheless, there is often sense in her suggestions. Yarrow’s Bernard, a set builder who is cast in the play to make up the numbers, is certainly aware of the limits of his abilities. And Van Gaal’s Margaret, while the most sensible participant and a peacemaker, is a follower, not a leader, and invariably finds her suggestions ignored.

Sydney man charged with murdering his mother at Sylvania appears in court

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A man who allegedly murdered his mother in a south Sydney townhouse has asked the court for a mental health assessment.
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Nathan Connors, 28, appeared in Newtown Local Court on Tuesday after he was charged following his arrest at St Peters, in the inner west, on Monday.

His 55-year-old mother Lynda Connors’ bloodied body was found sprawled in bed inside the Sylvania townhouse she shared with her two children earlier on Monday.

Mr Connors’ older brother, Simon, 31, discovered their mother’s body at 7am and called emergency services.

In court, Mr Connors’ Legal Aid lawyer Deone Provera flagged with the court concerns for his client’s welfare.

“I am asking for a mental health assessment,” he told the court.

Magistrate Margaret Quinn noted Mr Provera’s concerns and adjourned the matter to Sydney’s Central Local Court on July 11.

Bail was not applied for and was formally refused. Connors will appear by audiovisual link at his next court appearance.

Mr Connors was stopped by police in his mother’s car at St Peters on Monday morning.

Also in the car was a crossbow, a pitchfork wrapped in a towel and the family dog.

Police said the car’s number plate was automatically detected by a passing police car, with an alert advising officers to pull the car over.

The officers arrested Mr Connors and took him to Newtown Police Station, where he was charged on Monday night with his mother’s murder.

Friends and neighbours say the mother and two sons were a quiet family who kept to themselves.

However they raised concerns about Mr Connors’ mental health, which they claimed had deteriorated recently.

One woman, who knew Mr Connors since he was a child, said he had started hearing voices in his head over the past year.

During the same time he had also become withdrawn, rarely leaving his Florida Street home.

“Over the past 12 months he had just fully isolated himself,” said the woman, who asked not to be named.

“Before that he was fine, he had normal conversations and everything.

“He had always been a pretty good kid growing up. He has had a hard life, he only had his mum. It was only Mum and the two boys.”

Childhood friend Daniel Ikin-McKinnon said Mr Connors, who went to Sylvania High School, had a serious motorbike crash a few years ago that required him to have a full facial reconstruction.

He was on strong medication in the aftermath.

“He never seemed like the type to do anything like [this],” he said.

“[He was] just like a normal kid to me, we just did what most teenagers do … hang out [and] do dumb shit that we found fun but nothing extreme. Just kids being kids.

“This would have never been who I thought would do something like this.”

Neighbour Kerrin Willis once lived in the same townhouse complex as the family.

She remembered Ms Connors as a nice, quiet woman.

“I never had a problem with her,” she said.

“She would get out the front of the house on the weekends and clean the front yard. She worked five days a week.”

It is understood Ms Connors’ body was found wrapped in a blanket, with a significant head injury and covered in blood.

Miranda Local Area Command Superintendent Michael O’Toole said the older brother was “very distraught” about what had happened.

“He is the one that came across the incident and called police to attend,” he said.

AAP, Ava Benny-Morrison and Rachel Olding