Fathers of newborns failing to take up paid leave scheme

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It was designed to help fathers connect better with their newborn children, but ‘s paid parental scheme is leaving dads behind.

Fathers of newborns can claim two weeks’ payat the minimum wage – amounting to about $1345 – from the government when their child is born, if they earn less than $150,000 a year and pass a work test.

But the scheme, which was introduced under Labor in early 2013, is still seen as under-utilised, with only about one in three of those eligible taking it up.

From June 2016 to the end of March this year, 62,560 people received the dad and partner pay (DAPP), slightly up from the same period the year before, when 59,216 people accessed it.

Of 170,501 people who applied for the paid parental leave scheme, which offers the primary carer up to 18 weeks’ pay at the minimum wage, just 620 were men.

To be eligible for the dad and partner pay scheme, a person must be the biological father of the child, the partner of the child’s birth mother, or an adoptive parent of the child.

A University of Queensland review conducted two years ago found there was a lack of awareness of the scheme, despite a cultural shift for fathers to be more involved in their children’s care. The review found men used their annual leave to add to their time off, which didn’t leave much flexibility in later months if they were needed at home.

The architect of the scheme, Labor’s Jenny Macklin, said there was “clearly some scope to improve awareness” of it.

Richard Fletcher, associate professor with the Faculty of Health and Medicine Family Action Centre at the University of Newcastle, said there was a lot more that could be done.

“One key problem is the fact that [the parental leave policy] is focused on a single carer looking after a baby,” he said. “The idea is one adult is needed to look after a baby, and so if the mother is not working then the father must be. [The] idea is that sharing leave is based on the notion that if the dad is going to stop work and be involved in the baby, then the mother has to go back to work herself.”

Dr Fletcher said ‘s policy encouraged fathers and partners to go back to work almost immediately, and the government needed to “both do more and do it differently”.

“They need to do a lot more to support families who are having a baby, to avoid the ongoing costs of things like depression and children’s difficulties, which cost the whole community a lot of money,” he said.

“They need to do more in making that a more supported transition, so the father should have greater access to leave at the same time as the mother. The father should also have, as happens in other countries, encouragement to go to anti-natal appointments. [This will] encourage him to be part of the process, so it isn’t him arriving on the day of birth in his role as the father, totally unprepared and without any connection to what is going on.”

But the government – which remains committed to the proposed PPL changes put forward as part of its original, but ultimately doomed, Omnibus Bill – has no plans to alter the dad and partner pay policy.

Its focus is on seeking to increase its minimum wage paid leave scheme to 20 weeks, but only for employees not utilising an employer parental leave entitlement.

So far, those changes have failed to pass the Senate, and Labor has said it will continue to fight the proposal.

“Working women have every right to access their paid parental leave agreements that they have negotiated with their employer and top up with the government’s minimum wage scheme,” Ms Macklin said.

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The dangers of judging a book by its cover

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A little dog’s remains splatter the pavement. Someone has thrown it off the “commission” tower. The Jack Russell lies all broken bones and bits of pink and purple flesh, as author Robert Newton graphically describes in Mr Romanov’s Garden in the Sky.

There is much more to this book for early high-school readers than this gritty opening scene.

There’s the poignant observations around hardship and loss, and the dangers of jumping too early to judgment.

And there is hilarity, too, in the exchanges between the book’s protagonists, Lexie and her friend Davey Goodman, who live in the Brunswick Street Towers in Fitzroy, and their growing friendship with the old man whose dog is cruelly wasted by the estate’s thugs.

But Newton never steps away from the gritty realism of disadvantage and dysfunction and the types of complex issues confronting teens on their journey through high school.

As Newton notes, his readers have probably watched worse on CSI and unfortunately violence is a reality of some kids’ home life.

“It’s confronting, I make no bones about that because sometimes life is tough and a lot of kids live that life everyday, that’s their world,” says Newton.

“I think it’s really unfair how some kids are dealt a shitty hand in life, right from the start through circumstance.

“Books like Mr Romanov lets them know they are not alone and sometimes all it takes is a moment or one person to change things.

“It is equally important that those kids who come from a more privileged background who don’t really want for anything know … that there are kids out there who are struggling.”

Newton knows all this from his job as a firefighter with Melbourne’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade, having once been called to attend a woman who had overdosed in those very towers.

“Sitting beside her was her seven-year-old daughter and she was sitting there in pink pyjamas with white bunny rabbits, I remember that, holding her mum’s hand and sobbing,” Newton recounts. “It haunted me for a few months after. What made it worse was we never found out what happened to the mum, it didn’t look good, and I didn’t find out what happened to the little girl.

“That’s what sparked the story. I wrote it for me in a lot of ways to help me make sense of all that, but I also wrote it for that girl. I wanted to give her a life after that incident.”

Out of this came the character of Lexie, a tomboy wiser than her 13 years, who lives on the Fitzroy estate with her mother, a drunk and a junkie since the death of Lexie’s dad in a car crash a year ago.

A chance sighting on the commission’s rooftop forces Lexie to approach the dog’s owner who turns out to be a former Russian musician still grieving his dead wife and daughter.

Lexie joins forces with Davey, a child who has also been let down by adults, to clean up the old man’s flat and help him build a rooftop garden. The trio set off on a road trip to Surfers Paradise, police on their heels.

“They all discover something about themselves on the long drive,” says Newton. “[Lexie’s] the only one who sees Mr Romanov for what he is, everyone else has got him wrong. She works out it’s not all about looks, it’s about what’s inside you.”

Newton lives in Mornington Peninsula with his wife and three daughters and was one of those “sports crazy kids” who never read or wrote much at school.

“About 20 years ago I started writing when my younger brother Chris moved to Switzerland. I discovered I was a really bad letter writer, I could hardly fill a page of words to send to my own brother. To get over that, I started to make stuff up in my letters, mainly to make my life sound more interesting.

“Slowly these letters morphed into stories. I’d send a little chapter a month to my brother, and it grew from there. He rang me up one night and said, ‘Look, you’ve got to get serious about your writing. You are really good at it’, and nobody had really said that to me before. In my days off from the fire brigade I just started writing a bit more seriously, and I went from there.”

Newton’s first book, My Name is Will Thompson, draws on his brother’s struggles with dyslexia, a learning challenge that affects reading and writing. “He had a terrible time,” says Newton. “He was tormented mercilessly at school.

“The thing about kids with dyslexia is they are really creative and intelligent kids, they just need to be shown a new way of looking at words. He ended up getting the third highest mark in Year 12.”

Newton brought that feeling of brotherly protectiveness to When We Were Two, winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Fiction in 2012.

“When you are writing for young people who’ve got to have hope in a story, that’s the key.”

Mr Romanov’s Garden in the Sky is published by Penguin at $17.99.

Books that Changed Me

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Mardi McConnochie is a Sydney-based author who has previously published four adult novels. Castle in the Sea, a nautical adventure that follows twins Annalie and Will as they attempt to track down their missing father, is the second novel in her Quest of the Sunfish series for children.


While The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is probably my favourite Narnia book, I love the dreamlike quest of the Dawn Treader as it sails from island to island looking for the seven lost lords of Narnia. Re-reading these books as an adult, it’s surprising how simple his scenes are on the page and how vividly they live in your memory.


Another ocean quest, and undoubtedly an influence on C.S. Lewis as well, I love The Odyssey for its episodic journeying structure, and its weirdness (especially when you compare it with The Iliad). There’s something wonderfully open about narratives where someone goes out into the unknown just to see what’s out there.


I read this as an adult, but loved the way it made me read the way I did as a child: insatiably, propulsively. The central conceit – that everyone has an animal familiar with whom they’re linked telepathically – is irresistible, but it’s just one part of a fantasy world that’s exciting, rich and strange, with memorable characters (human, animal and supernatural), an exciting story, and overarching themes that are much deeper than anything you’d usually find in books for kids.


This series exemplifies all the things I like about the best fantasy fiction for younger readers. Le Guin’s prose is pared back but amazingly deep and supple, expressing very complex ideas and emotions in simple language. Her work is psychologically rich and satisfying, with characters caught in dilemmas that are profound and urgent. Earthsea is a diverse world that feels both deep and broad, vividly imagined, with a conception of magic at its centre that is utterly convincing and never generic.

Here’s what’s next for the Snowy Hydro expansion

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Snowy Hydro Tumut 3 power station in Talbingo under the stars, on Tuesday 4 April 2017. fedpol Photo: Alex EllinghausenIt was Malcolm Turnbull’s Big Idea, taking back the initiative amid mounting concerns over the reliability of the electricity grid and spiralling power prices.

Turnbull, standing in front of the Tumut 3 power station deep in the Snowy Mountains, announced in March plans for the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest power-grid battery, capable of powering hundreds of thousands of homes and helping to stabilise the grid.

???This would be Snowy 2.0, harnessing the iconic Snowy Mountain hydro scheme to create a giant battery that would move ‘s electricity grid into the new age of renewables by making solar and wind power more reliable. It would be, the Prime Minister declared, a “game changer”.

Turnbull has put $500,000 towards Snowy Hydro’s detailed feasibility study into building the first stage, a 2000 megawatt project christened Snowy 2.0. By the end of the year we should know whether his vision will stack up.

“We are going to put the accelerator down on Snowy Hydro’s development,” the Prime Minister declared. “This is a great project and as it is expanded, it will ensure that n families and n businesses have more reliable power.”

And yet, Snowy 2.0 may just be the first step. If it proves viable – and that’s a big “if” – behind closed doors there’s talk of Snowy 3.0, Snowy 4.0 and Snowy 5.0, quadrupling the output to around 8000 megawatts, making it the largest power-grid battery in the world, dwarfing exisitng schemes in the US and China.

“The more we head down towards decarbonising the economy, the more pumped hydro and hydro in general, the more important they will become in the whole energy market,” Snowy Hydro chief executive officer Paul Broad says.

But not everyone is a convert. Danny Price, managing director of Frontier Economics and an energy sector veteran, is scathing. “Pumped hydro makes no economic sense. It will never be built,” he says bluntly.

Underpinning Broad’s vision splendid is a simple concept: pumped hydro. Traditional hydro gathers rainfall in alpine dams, gravity feeds the water down pipes to spin turbines and generate electricity. Pumped hydro reverses the process, using electricity to pump the water back uphill into those self-same dams. The water can then be reused, making more electricity when demand warrants it. It’s a way of storing electricity; a giant battery.

The great advantage of hydro power, whether traditional or pumped, is that it can quickly provide large amounts of power for sustained amounts of time, known as “peaking” generation. The big coal-fired power stations provide base-load power, but their output cannot be quickly ramped up or cut back to match demand, while wind and solar remain hostage to the weather.

Snowy 2.0 would require a 26-kilometre tunnel linking Tantangara Reservoir to Talbingo Reservoir, a bolt-on to the 145 kilometres of tunnels in the existing Snowy Mountains scheme.

Tantangara Reservoir dams the headwaters of the Murrumbidgee River at around 1200 metres above sea level; Talbingo Reservoir sits on the Tumut River below 600 metres. It’s that dramatic difference in altitude that would enable significant amounts of power to be generated using a relatively small amount of water.

A new 2000 megawatt power station would be built 800 metres underground, nine kilometres from the end of the tunnel, accessed from the surface down a slanting, 3.5 kilometre road tunnel. The new station would be the biggest hydro station in .

Snowy 2.0 would would require no new dams or reservoirs and additional transmission lines would follow existing corridors. Most of the construction would take place underground. Nevertheless, it is entirely situated within the Kosciusko National Park. An access road to the new power station would be required and there is the vexed question of what to do with the spoil – the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of rock carved out of the mountain to form the tunnels.

Nevertheless, the n Conservation Foundation has cautiously welcomed the proposal, saying it’s better than new coal or gas generation. “[But] it’s unlikely that it can deliver affordable, reliable electricity faster than comparable investment in wind or solar,” ACF’s Gavan McFadzean says.

Snowy 2.0 would provide an added benefit, helping to relieve an existing bottleneck restricting the Tumut 3 station’s output. Producing up to 1800 megawatts, it’s by far Snowy Hydro’s biggest existing power station, but it’s dependent on water flowing down the Tumut River through the much smaller Tumut 1 and Tumut 2 power stations and into Talbingo Reservoir. It takes 10 days for enough water to pass through T1 and T2 to provide enough water for T3 to operate for one day at full capacity.

That bottleneck has already proved near disastrous. In early February, temperatures in Canberra and Sydney exceeded 40 degrees, placing extreme stress on the grid.

“On the tenth of February this year in New South Wales, the lights stayed on because T3 was going flat out. And we almost ran out of water,” Broad recalls.

The new scheme would permit water to flow directly from Tantangara through the new station into Talbingo Reservoir, increasing the water available to Tumut 3. The two stations, both with pumped hydro, could then run in tandem.

This is the genesis for expanding Snowy 2.0 even further. The new station could generate more power than Tumut 3 while using only a quarter of its water, due to the large altitude differential between Tantangara and Talbingo. That’s why engineers believe the concept could be replicated up to three-fold: Snowy 3.0, Snowy 4.0 and Snowy 5.0 – all linking Tantangara and Talbingo.

It’s a grand concept, but not a new one; Tumut 3 has used pumped-hydro since coming on-line in 1973, while variations of Snowy 2.0 have been proposed several times since the 1960s. In the past, the cost-benefit analysis never added up, not when coal was cheap and plentiful and no one had heard of climate change.

According to Price, an energy advisor to the South n government, the sums still don’t add up. He says Lithium-ion and other emerging battery technologies lose only a fraction as much energy as pumped hydro, cost less, are scalable and can be located wherever they’re needed. They can also come on-line in milliseconds.

And there’s the rub. Pumped hydro is a simple technology, but it’s not a magical one. It takes more electricity, between 20 and 30 per cent more, to pump the water back uphill than can be generated by running it back downhill. In terms of pure electricity, pumped hydro will always run at a loss.

So why does Broad think pumped hydro can attract investment now when it hasn’t in the past? First, there’s the construction technology. The tunnels of the original Snowy scheme were excavated using drill and blast. Since then, massive new tunnel boring machines have been developed, cutting capital costs.

But the real game changer has been within the electricity market. It’s money, not technological change that’s breathing new life into the old concept; the laws of supply and demand, not the laws of physics.

The Snowy Hydro CEO says he and his board anticipated the rise of renewables and the resultant volatility in generation would again make the Tantangara-Talbingo link worth examining, but not for another three of four years. Then the electricity market started sending out dramatically different price signals. “This time last year we had no sign of the forward curve looking anything like it is today,” Broad says.

Electricity retailers and large industrial consumers have been growing increasingly concerned they could be caught out in the event of a power shortage, either unable to obtain electricity or forced to pay exorbitant spot rates. Snowy Hydro, with its ability to supply large amounts of peaking power, has found itself in the box seat, able to offer the retailers products to hedge against power shortages.

And just as the spot price of electricity can rise dramatically, it can also fall. Recently, the wind across South blew so hard, generating so much wind power, the price dropped first to zero, and then into negative territory. Snowy Hydro found itself getting paid to take the excess and pump water uphill at Tumut 3. Later, when the wind stopped blowing, the sun stopped shining and demand stepped up, it started generating electricity and selling it for a tidy profit.

Nevertheless, there is no guarantee Snowy 2.0 will go ahead. The technology is proven, not so the economics. A back of the envelope estimate puts the capital cost at around $2 billion. That’s a lot of money for a project that would generate no new electricity, but rely entirely on buying power cheap, storing it, and selling it later at a profit.

And as Price points out, new battery technology is evolving rapidly and becoming cheaper by the month.

Yet Dr Matthew Stocks, a renewable energy expert from the ANU, says batteries and pumped hydro possess different characteristics and fill different niches. He says Snowy 2.0 will make increasing sense as the grid becomes more dependent on wind and solar. “If they can do it for $2 billion, it would smash batteries out of the water.”

All this makes the feasibility study extremely difficult. The engineering challenges and estimating construction costs are the easy part. More fraught is modelling the future electricity market, with all of its vagaries and variabilities. The study is due for completion in December; it will need to deliver a robust financial case if it’s to attract the necessary investment.

Broad seems unfazed. “One of the things about hydro is that it has an unlimited life. The tunnels are as good as they were 60 years ago. You need to replace some of the bits, like turbines, but that means they’re going better than they did 60 years ago.

“Two generations ago gave us the Snowy Mountains scheme which this generation gets full benefit from. If Snowy 2.0 gets up, in my view, it be an enormous benefit for the generations that come after us, in being able to support more and more renewables,” he says. “These types of project are an integral part in changing the world as we see it, and particularly as the young see it.”

Reds coach less than impressed with referee in loss to Tahs

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An incensed Nick Stiles said he couldn’t wait for a call from referees boss Lyndon Bray after Queensland were savaged in the penalty count during their 29-26 defeat at the hands of the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium.

With so much at stake for both teams, it was the Waratahs who ensured they would live to fight another day in the Super Rugby season, with the brilliant boot of Bernard Foley the difference in a Cauldron that was less than half full (18,000) but delivered a merciless atmosphere.

That included booing Kiwi referee Paul Williams from the park after he blew 16 penalties to four in favour of the men in blue. In the old days at Lang Park, there might have been a few tins of XXXX sailing down from the concrete terraces.

Reds coach Stiles struggled to hold in his anger after the match, saying he wanted to vent further, but didn’t want to be slugged with a fine. Even so, he made it clear he felt his side wasn’t allowed to play on an equal footing.

“You just want a fair go, don’t you?” Stiles said. “I’m limited with what I can say. I’ll cop a $10,000 fine so I’ve got to be really careful.

“It was 16-4, the penalty count. Some of those penalties were fair but gee, you could go back through that game and think if that’s a penalty, why aren’t we getting one for the same thing?”

When asked if the lopsided count affected the final result, Stiles said: “Of course it was a deciding factor.

“In the second half we couldn’t get out of our own territory because any time we tried to play we got penalised and we were back down our end, or Bernard, a very good kicker, slots his points and keeps them in the game.

“I can’t wait for Lyndon Bray to call me. Listen, I’ve been very good with referees because I think the game has to move forward by referees getting positive input. I’m working really hard, speak to Lyndon a lot, send feedback. In that game, we just wanted a fair go.”

If there was anger and disappointment from the Reds, there was an equal dose of elation from the Waratahs. They were pilloried for their defeat at the hands of the Southern Kings and needed a statement game in the derby.

They did just that, reeling in deficits on a number of occasions before closing it out thanks to the iced veins of Foley and spirited defence, which repelled 27 phases of Reds attack after the siren had sounded.

“I thought it was an excellent game. It had real intent from both teams. They were really up for the game. Second half, we dominated territory and position. If we had lost this game, I would be sitting here saying we didn’t dominate the big moments,” coach Daryl Gibson said.

“We managed to hang in there and some wonderful pressure kicks from Bernard Foley got us over the line.

“It’s a big win for us, a massive boost, given where we’ve been. We went back to some basic things this week. That worked for us.”

Waratahs captain Michael Hooper, who was outstanding and had a gripping battle with George Smith, said the team wasn’t able to shut out recent criticism but rose above it to win their seventh-straight match against the Reds.

“It’s tough to shut it out. We had a hard look at ourselves. We had to attack this week. Now it’s hugely important to string some together. Excited we get another shot at a Kiwi team at home.”

Wallaby aspirant Karmichael Hunt was strong again but left the field late in the game with a knee injury. Stiles said it wasn’t serious and scans weren’t required.

Hyland’s homeopathic baby tablets recalled in China

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Homeopathic teething tablets investigated over links to baby deaths in America are being recalled in over fears about the effects of the potentially toxic plant belladonna.

Hyland’s baby teething tablets and baby nighttime teething tablets should be returned to their place of purchase, a Therapeutic Goods Administration bulletin advised on Saturday.

“While the TGA had tested samples of these products supplied in and found no quality issues, Kadac is now recalling the tablets as a precautionary measure due to the potential safety risk that belladonna alkaloids can pose to children,” it states.

“The effects of belladonna can be unpredictable and could cause serious health problems.”

The recall, initiated by Hyland’s n distributor Kadac, in consultation with the TGA, comes two weeks after the same product was recalled by its distributor in the United States.

Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration raised the alarm about homeopathic teething products after an investigation revealed 400 reports of adverse events, including 10 deaths.

The US administration found inconsistent levels of belladonna alkaloids in the products and warned that belladonna presented a serious health hazard with unpredictable outcomes to children.

As concerns mounted in February, the TGA sampled two batches of the product in and chose not to take any regulatory action after the testing had “not identified any quality issues”.

Hyland’s Baby teething gel is not affected by this recall. But all of Hyland’s baby teething products, including the gel, will no longer be marketed in .

Hyland’s released a statement following the US recall, saying it had made the difficult decision in response to a request from the FDA and that “all manufactured and sold teething medicines met the Company’s safety limit tests and all tested product has been well within an established safety threshold”.

Calls to Kadac’s office went unanswered on Saturday.

If you have any Hyland’s Baby teething tablets or Hyland’s Baby nighttime teething tablets, return them to the place of purchase for a refund or call Kadac on 1300 762 025. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},”#pez_iframe_tipstar_150″);

One Nation under fresh scrutiny over possible electoral breaches

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Labor has referred Pauline Hanson’s One Nation to Queensland authorities amid claims the party has breached electoral rules.

ALP senator Murray Watt has asked the Queensland Electoral Commission to investigate a report that One Nation secretly switched legal structures last year and now risks being deregistered as a party.

The report in The Saturday Paper claimed One Nation’s operating structure was changed in November last year from that of an unincorporated association to an incorporated association. The report said the change was made to shift legal liability away from senior party officers.

The report goes on to allege Senator Hanson, the party’s registered officer, failed to notify the QEC or One Nation members as required under electoral laws. It also says that under this new structure the party’s constitution does not comply with the requirements of a registered political party.

Senator Watt says the episode was consistent with One Nation’s bid to centralise power to a small number of party officers in Queensland.

In a letter to Queensland Electoral Commissioner Walter van der Merwe, Senator Watt says if the allegations are true they may amount to grounds for the cancellation of the party’s registration in Queensland.

“If these series of allegations are correct they suggest a pattern of behaviour by Senator Hanson and PHON’s senior officials and a belief that they do not need to comply with n laws, in a manner expected of all other political parties,” Senator Watt said in his letter.

“I ask you to investigate these serious allegations concerning PHON’s registration, and take any required action to ensure compliance with the Electoral Act.”

A spokesman for Ms Hanson said: “At this time the party is making no comment.”

This is the third matter recently referred to authorities.

It has been previously alleged that the party has been collecting GST without proper n Tax Office approval. There are also claims the party failed to properly declare the donation of a light plane used by Ms Hanson.

In an episode of the ABC’s Four Corners last month former One Nation treasurer Ian Nelson claimed he urged Senator Hanson and her high-profile chief of staff James Ashby to disclose the donation but was overruled.

Mr Nelson, who has since fallen out with Senator Hanson, alleged Melbourne property developer Bill McNee transferred funds to buy the plane to Mr Ashby and that it was insured in his name. Ms Hanson used the Jabiru plane – decorated with party logos – to campaign for last year’s election.

However Mr Ashby says his company bought the plane and he was happy for the AEC to investigate the matter.

Experience your worst nightmare with horror event in Canberra this October

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A scene from the Operation Shit Your Pants promo video. Photo: SuppliedIf sitting in your lounge room watchingThe Exorcistjust doesn’t cut it anymore, maybe being let loose in Fairbairn Pines with 60 zombies is just the thing to get your heart racing.

Operation Shit Your Pants – an “immersive, cinema-quality, interactive horror experience” is coming to Canberra in October. Participants will be forced to navigate their way through a series of “horror stations” in the pine plantation at Pialligo, attempting to avoid the walking dead at all times.

So far 1200 Canberrans have signed up for the experience, which was created by Batemans Bay-based event designer Dan Palmer to take Canberrans back to “raw emotions”. Palmer is also the visionary behind the Operation Blackhawk events, military-style obstacle courses that Canberrans flock to every year.

Fairbairn Pines will emulate a scene from AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ as part the event. Photo: AMC

“In today’s society the media, the news and computer games have desensitised us all,” Palmer said.

“If you go back 20 or 30 years you never really saw the pictures on TV or on the news that you see nowadays – especially with terrorism and CCTV footage. Everybody’s got a camera.

“So what we wanted to do was create an event that made people’s hearts skip a beat – create that anxiety, create that sense of fear and a sense of the unknown.”

Fairbairn Pines will be transformed into a horror set for Operation Shit Your Pants, and Palmer is also looking for Canberrans who want to play zombies as part of the experience. You need a loud growl, a slow, limping walk and a willingness to be on set at 6am for full special effects make-up.

“Despite some rumours, this is a walk-at-your-own-pace event with the option to do the course dressed as a member of the walking dead or straight human form,” Palmer said.

“But having said that, it’s not for the faint-hearted.”

Operation Shit Your Pants, Saturday 7 October 2017, Paintball Sports ACT, Fairbairn Pines, Pialligo. You must register as a VIP to secure a ticket via theOperation Blackhawk website.

A search for identity

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Jenevieve Chang has always been searching for a place to call home. She arrived in as a four-year-old, her parents had left Taiwan to give their children a new start, her grandparents before them had fled mainland China to escape the communist regime.

She grew up, a “good girl” in the suburbs of Sydney, hiding secrets about her home life, three generations in the same house. A childhood that was at times violent and full of deceit, at other times full of love and a sense of history that both burdened her and gave her purpose.

She moved to London in 2002, studying dance at the prestigious Laban conservatoire and soon found herself drawn to burlesque, where “we could be anyone we wanted, as long as we had the confidence to pull it off”. She was always searching for her identity.

A few years later she landed in Shanghai, feeling “completely at home in a place that perhaps should always have been my home”.

“I think we all get seduced by the idea of running away somewhere exotic and finding ourselves,” Chang says, talking about her book The Good Girl of Chinatown, a memoir of three generations of family, and her own personal journey.

“There was this process of self-discovery, but not in the sense of other places giving me what I needed, it was about recognising that nothing outside of me was going to give me that.”

She says her need to “feel whole” was reflected in her relationships, in her constant travel.

“It was about running away from the pain of my childhood, trying to put as much geographical distance as possible between my father and I in the hope that I would maybe forget where I actually came from.

“But I realised at the same time I must have wanted to understand where I came from as well.”

Chang is a natural storyteller. She weaves the history of three generations into a seamless tale. It’s one of love and fear, tenderness and violence, of pleasure and denial. From stories about pink bunk beds in their first Sydney home, to tales of sexual escapades in China.

“Growing up with my grandparents and my parents, my grandparents represented an idealised version of who I could be because they were very loving but they came from a culture that I didn’t really understand whereas my parents were not really loving at all and were constantly using my cultural background against me,” she says.

“It seems even though I was running away from the bad parts, I also think I recognised that I needed to find some sort of understanding and get close to the good parts to find some sort of healing.”

She saysd that is what took her back to China, but the China she found made her confront the ugly parts more.

“You can’t separate the good parts of your past from the painful parts, I think that’s what I found, the more I tried to run away from it, the more I tied myself in knots, because you can never really run away from yourself.”

Chang returned to in 2014. Working as an actor and writer, she has performed in several plays, including Monkey Baa Theatre’s The Peasant Prince, the award-winning stage adaptation of Mao’s Last Dancer.

It took her five years to write this book; she struggled with being true to herself, she admits.

“I remember reading through my first couple of drafts and one of the things I berated myself over was how I felt like I was lying and trying to hide from myself,” she says.

“I knew that I wasn’t ready to share it with the world until I worked through a lot of my fears and anxieties and unconscious walls that I put up.

“There is nothing quite like writing that paints a picture of where you’re at for you and allows you to recognise that there is still a degree of ducking from the truth.”

The Good Girl of Chinatown, by Jenevieve Chang. Penguin. $32.99.

The book will be launched on May 4 at Better Read than Dead, 265 King St, Newton, from 6pm. Free but RSVP via www.betterreadevents苏州夜网

In Canberra she will be at the Asia Bookroom, Lawry Place, Macquarie on May 6 from 2pm-4pm. Entry by gold coin donation to the n Childhood Foundation. RSVP to [email protected]苏州夜网 or 62515191.

She will also host a special Saturday evening, cabaret-style author talk – with a storytelling performance inspired by excerpts from the book – at Muse, Canberra, from 5pm-6pm on May 6.

Jenevieve Chang is a guest at Sydney Writers’ Festival, May 22-28 (swf苏州桑拿.au).

On June 14 she will be appearing at Eltham Library, Melbourne, from 6.30pm. $35 entry includes a copy of the book.

On June 15 there will be a free event at Geelong Library, from 6.30pm. Free.

Revealed: the private schools set to have their funding cut by the Turnbull government

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Melbourne Grammar is one of ‘s most “overfunded” private schools. Photo: Chris HopkinsHigh-fee private schools in Sydney’s wealthy northern suburbs dominate the list ofschools set to have have their federal funding cut next year under the Turnbull government’s newfunding model, Fairfax Media can reveal.

Many of Canberra’s private schools are currently overfunded according to the Gonski formula and are also set to have their funding cut next year.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced on Tuesday that 24 independent schools will have their federal funding cut next year as part of the new federal funding model. Some 350 schools will also receive less federal funding by the end of the decade than they would have under the current formula.

Burnt by the experience of Mark Latham’s private school “hit list”, the Gillard government made it a condition of its Gonski school funding policies that no school would lose a dollar.

The Turnbull government has argued itis fundamentally fair to reduce funding for some wealthy schoolsas the vast majority of schools – around 9000 in total – will be better off than they are now. Most private schools will see their funding rise under the new model.

The government has declined to publicly confirm the schools that will have their funding cut, but Fairfax Media has identified the schools set to lose federal moneyunder the new formula.

A full list, based on the latest Department of Education data,is published below.Schools with the highest proportion of overfundingare the most likely to have their funding cut. It is understood the number of schools could reduce further following negotiations between the private school sector and the government.

Most of the private schools in Sydney to have their funding cut are in blue-ribbon Liberal electorates, showing the government is willing to hit its own base to deliver a more equitable distribution of funding.

Loreto Kirribilli, an elite Catholic girls school in Sydney. Photo: Wade Laube

Those schools include Loreto Kirribilli,an elite Catholic girls school charging almost $19,000 a year in fees for senior students, andMonte Sant’Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney -the two most overfunded schools in the country.

The government’s goal under the new model is to provide80 per cent of the appropriate funding level – known as the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) – for private and Catholic schools by the end of the decade.

Schools currently receivingover 80 per cent of their SRS from the federal government will have their funding brought down.

Schools that are significantly overfunded- those receiving over 100 per cent of their SRS – are expected to have their funding cut from next year.

Fairfax Media has identified 26 schools in this category, excluding special needs schools.

The list is dominated by elite private schools, many of which are independent Catholic schools, in Sydney and Canberra.

Only one school in Victoria, Melbourne Grammar School, and two private schools in Queensland are significantly overfunded by the federal government and likely to have their funding cut.

Senator Birmingham said on Wednesday the 24 schools would face only “small reductions” to their federal funding next year of around 2 per cent.

The willingness to cut funding for some wealthy schools shows the government is committed to implementing a true needs-based funding model, he said.

“We are taking thedifficult decision of cleaning up asystem riddled with inconsistenciesand ancient sweet heart deals,” Senator Birmingham said.

“Thatmeans taking difficult decisions butby investing $18.6 billion extraover the next 10 years, we havemanaged to make sure we can fix thesystem while delivering stronggrowth in funding for more than9,000 schools.”

The government will release an online calculator in coming days so parents can check how much funding their school will receive, he said.

Greens education spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said: “We will support a model that makessure there is significant investmentin the education system, to makesure all kids, regardless of theirpost code, get a decent start inlife.

“If that means making sure thata tennis court doesn’t get built oran extra swimming pool doesn’t getbuilt or another set of rowing shedsdoesn’t get built in a wealthyprivate school so the public schoolsget the facilities andinfrastructure they need to givekids the best start in life, well,we will do that.”

Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said the opposition would support the cuts to private schools but said the issue was a distraction from the fact the government is offering schools $22 billion less over a decade than Labor.

Schools set to have their funding cut in 2018*:* List based on Department of Education, Commonwealth school funding as a proportion of SRS, excluding special needs schools