Monthly Archives: May 2019

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Reasonable force used at Mardi Gras: cops

Bryn Hutchinson is suing police after being assaulted at the 2013 Sydney Mardi Gras (file).NSW Police have admitted to hammer-fisting and kicking a reveller at the 2013 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras but insist it was a reasonable use of force.

Bryn Hutchinson is suing the police for assault, battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution over the March 2 incident, and is claiming up to $275,000 in damages.

Court documents from the civil trial show the officers claimed the blows they struck were necessary and lawful to stop the 37-year-old from crossing the famous gay strip, Oxford Street, after the parade had ended.

Mr Hutchinson was charged with assaulting and resisting an officer over the incident but a judge later dismissed those charges.

The gay rights activist claims his head was punched into the pavement during the brutal, unwarranted and excessive attack which left him humiliated and with bruises all over his body.

Mr Hutchinson’s statement of claim alleges police persisted with a groundless prosecution over many months out of personal animosity, which left him with considerable legal bills and forced him to forgo work and suspend his university studies.

But in documents tendered to the court, lawyers for NSW Police suggest Sergeant Jeffrey Ludkin and Constable Goya Hedayat used necessary and lawful force when the “situation escalated” and Mr Hutchinson assaulted Sgt Ludkin.

They claim the man threw himself to the ground and wrapped his legs around Sgt Ludkin’s legs “in a scissor-type action”.

“In that process, Ludkin used no more than two hammer-strikes against the plaintiff’s left thigh and Hedayat used two knee-strikes against the plaintiff’s left outer thigh,” the documents state.

“No more than reasonable force was used.”

Police admit when Hutchinson complained to an officer who was leaning on his back that he couldn’t breathe Sgt Ludkin said: “If you can talk, you can breathe.”

But they argue those words weren’t said in hostility or aggression “but in a situation of urgency … and in circumstances where the plaintiff could, in fact, breathe”.

NRL Knights coach Nathan Brown says Brock Lamb’s selection won’t erode Connor Watson’s confidence

Knights coach Nathan Brown has dismissed suggestionsBrock Lamb’s selection on the bench for Friday night’s clash againstManly is a sign of a lack of confidence in Connor Watson.

Lamb has won a bench spot at the expense of a desperately unlucky Danny Levi, who finds himself playing NSW Cup just a few months after representing New Zealand in the World Cup.

Jacob Saifiti also missed selection in the squad of 17 for the season-opener at McDonald Jones Stadium with Brown, as expected, namingnine new recruits in his lineup.

Brown said the decision to select Lamb rather than go in against the Eagles with two specialist hookers was one of the toughest he has made as a coach.

But he claimsit was all about wanting some outside back injury insurance and hadnothing to do with any lack of confidence in Watson handling the five-eighth role outside skipper Mitchell Pearce .

“If that was the case, we would have just put Brock there,”Brown said.

“We have got confidence in Connor and as I have always said, when you compare Connor with Brock, you are not comparing apples with apples becausethey are very different players.

“It’s all to do with versatility. Just with our team, it’s a no-brainer to have Connor as the moveable piece.”

Brown is confident Lamb’s presence will not play on Watson’s mind leading into the Manly game.

“He’s comfortable with it,”he said.

“When we explaned it to him why, I think Connor knows we have confidence in him. Andthe faith we showed in him last year, I’d like to think Brock thinks we have confidence in him as well.

“If you talk to Mitchell [Pearce], he loves what Brock brings to the table and he loves what Connor brings to the table.”

Brown admitted Levi can count himself unlucky to miss out.

Once it was decided Lamb was needed on the bench, it became a head-to-head battle between Levi and Slade Griffin for the starting hooker role with the former Melbourne Storm utility winning out.

“That was probably a tough call on Danny to be fair,” Brown said.

“He’s disappointed and not happy about it but he has handled it well.It’s not to do with form.

“In both the games we played, Slade and Danny working together, we thought, was a good combination but withSione [Mata’utia] back in the centres and Joe Wardle getting homesick, we don’t have a lot of scope for movement in our team.

“Connor’s our best moveable piece.”

Insurance: Knights coach Nathan Brown in deep discussion with Brock Lamb at training. Lamb will come off the bench against Manly on Friday night as an injury safe-guard. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Family Finding Boot Camp restoring opportunity for vulnerable children

CRUCIAL NETWORKS: Kevin Campbell is in Newcastle this week to deliver a Family Finding Bootcamp for practitioners. Children develop and thrive in the context of relationship, community, faith, culture and in experiences outside in nature.

Children who grow up exposed to unrelenting stress and limited access to strong and supportive relationships must make physical, even genetic, adaptations to survive.

These changes in their bodies and genes are important to their short-term survival, but across the life course, become the foundation for early and severe health and mental health problems.

This is not a truth for any one group of people. Our research has found that indigenous people are at no more risk for these consequences than non-indigenous people when they too are disproportionately mistreated in a society.

We are all the same biologically; it is in our social and economic trajectories and opportunities where the differences exist.

A child protection system that is funded and aimed at interveningafter significant neglect or abuse has happened is not a response that can have any meaningful influence on the underlying conditions that drive maltreatment of children.

The politicisation then of child protection’s “failure” to protect children leads only to more perceived failures and greater regulatory and punitive policies for the agencies involved.

All the while, persistent vilification of the poor and indigenous as being unable to safely care for children continues, and in some places, grows.

This is the reality of present day child protection systems in Western democracies, especially in post-colonial societies.

This week I am joining with Samaritans, other child protection non-government organisations and Family and Community Services in a Family Finding Boot Camp. I am working with the agencies to uncover something I have learned from previous visits to that can improve the safety and long-term health of vulnerable children.

I think of it as an untapped capability that can assist children who encounter the child protection system and restore many of the opportunities they have missed out on: relationships, friendship, teaching, access to culture and, for some, the care of the spirit.

Over four days wewill engage family members, siblings, teachers, former and present carers and other important adults to join in and connect individual networks for each child.

These networks will fill a critical role in buffering these children from loneliness, disconnection and missed opportunities to have experiences like other n children who were fortunate to be born to families who enjoy greater access to the extraordinary gifts of this country.

These networks will share the responsibility and stand watch with child protection professionals over the safety and wellbeing of these children.

This will be all that child protection and network members can do until one day when the elected leaders in this country land on policy that gives equity and opportunity to all ns, especially the First ns.

I will state clearly here the child protection agencies and professionals in NSW are not a problem to be solved – they are an opportunity waiting to be realised.

Kevin Campbell, who is Seattle based,is an internationally known youth permanency expert, founder of the Centre for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness and developer of the Family Finding model.

Girl undergoes Chinan-first robot surgery

Robotic surgery has been used to remove a cancerous tumour from six-year-old Freyja Christiansen.Six-year-old Freyja Christiansen faced a grim prognosis when doctors found a tumour at the base of her neck, but n-first robotic surgery is being credited with a miracle.

The Canberra youngster was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer called clear-cell sarcoma in 2016 and she is thought to be the youngest of 40 cases ever recorded worldwide.

It was the position of Freyja’s tumour, between a main artery and the base of her skull, that posed a problem for specialists who said the situation seemed hopeless.

The prognosis didn’t stop Freyja’s mother, Liz, and oncologist Antoinette Anazondo from searching for a cure.

“I was told my daughter’s cancer was inoperable and incurable and that I couldn’t can’t even discuss options, I wasn’t going to find a cure,” Ms Christiansen told AAP.

“But Antionette would not give up and we spent the next year calling all around the world, researching possible treatments and then we learnt about robotic surgery.”

Freyja began targeted immunotherapy last year, which was previously only available to adults, while the duo searched for a surgeon who would be willing operate using a machine called da Vinci which operates a small robotic arm.

Thirty-seven surgeons across the world refused to use the technology on Freyja.

“It was during a phone call to Boston Children’s Hospital that the name of Melbourne cancer surgeon Ben Dixon came up,” Ms Christiansen said.

“It was a bit of a fluke really … we were willing to fly anywhere in the world but the fact that we had the skills and the technology in Melbourne was amazing.”

On February 28, Epworth surgeons Ben Dixon and Matthew Magarey used the robot to successfully remove part of Freyja’s tumour, with another surgery scheduled for Wednesday to remove a larger portion, dubbed the “big mama”.

“I know there’s a lot more to come, but to even get to this point, it’s really been miracle after miracle,” Ms Christiansen said.

“She shouldn’t be here, but here she is.”

Coach Wessels wants more punch from Rebels

Rebels coach Dave Wessels wants his unbeaten team to make a statement against the Brumbies.After an unbeaten start to their Super Rugby season, the Melbourne Rebels want to start to “throw some punches” as they eye a history-making win over the Brumbies at AAMI Park on Friday night.

The new-look Rebels have continued to tick off some important milestones and this week can win three games in succession for the first time to maintain their n conference lead.

Coach Dave Wessels said there was notable improvement in attack as Melbourne ran in six tries in their 37-17 win over the Sunwolves but he felt their star-laden backline had much more to offer.

The Rebels boast Wallabies Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Sefa Naivalu and the possible return from a knee injury of Test winger Marika Koroibete.

“The big key for us is probably to throw some punches of our own,” Wessels said on Tuesday.

“We’ve got some firepower in our team and we need to come up with a mindset that we want to attack games.

“There’s a subtle difference between playing to win versus playing not to lose and we want to be a team that plays to win.”

Wessels spent 2012 as Brumbies defence coach under then head coach Jake White before switching to the Western Force.

While the Brumbies have spoken of their disappointment in their shock loss last round to Queensland, Wessels said the Reds deserved some credit.

“We know the Brumbies are a quality side; they’ve been the best n side for the last few years so we’re going to have to play well.”

Koroibete trained with the team for the first time in three weeks but Wessels wasn’t concerned about his fitness.

“He’s a freak of an athlete so it’s probably more a case of the guys ahead of him are going pretty good too so we need to decide if he’s done enough to earn a spot this week,” Wessels said.

Wallabies and ex-Force flanker Richard Hardwick is also in line to make his Rebels debut after also battling a knee injury.

“I thought Dickie (Hardwick) was the stand-out player in our trial game so he’s certainly in the mix to play.”