Dragons build foundation on ‘great wall of Wayne’

Dragons build foundation on ‘great wall of Wayne’

St George Illawarra are on course to make history as the greatest defensive team of the NRL era.Dubbed the "Wall of Wayne", the Dragons under coach Wayne Bennett have conceded just 215 points this year - an average of 10.8 per game. It surpasses the tough-tackling efforts Melbourne produced on their way to grand finals in 2007 and 2008. Full coverage of the Dragons It also ranks as the second-best performance by a team since the 10m rule was introduced in 1992.Only Manly's all-conquering team of 1996 had a superior record of stopping points, letting in just 191 in 22 games, or a remarkable 8.68 points per match.If the Dragons concede fewer than 62 points in their final four games - against the Sea Eagles, Canberra, Newcastle and South Sydney - they will earn their place as the best defensive outfit since the NRL started in 1998.Regarded as the best defensive centre of the decade, St George Illawarra's Matt Cooper yesterday warned the team can improve on its impressive record this season."In the last couple of weeks we've let some easy tries in out on the left side, so we want to fix that," Cooper said, referring to the side of the field he defends on."I think our right side is going really well this year."Preparing for Monday night's showdown with Manly at Kogarah, Cooper said the most notable part of Mark Gasnier's return had been his commitment in defence.Gasnier had 18 months out of the game playing rugby union in France before coming back to the Dragons last month."He's picked up his defence so much and we've got that much confidence in the side," he said.Cooper said the Dragons had learned the lessons of seasons past. Last year they crashed out of the finals series with consecutive losses, having won the minor premiership on the back of a solid defensive structure which conceded 329 points - or 13.7 per game.Four points clear at the top of the NRL ladder with four rounds remaining, St George Illawarra are again on track to snare the JJ Giltinan Shield this season.Cooper said the Dragons needed to take advantage of their place on the ladder and earn a week off during the play-offs with a qualifying final victory."If we end up first and win our first semi then we'll get a week's break and that would be good for us," Cooper said."But at the moment we're just going one game at a time and looking at Manly."We're treating this as a pretty serious game - they're a quality side and will be a good test for us."
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Deb delivers top baby service

Deb delivers top baby service

SPECIAL MOMENT: LGH midwife Deb Clay with baby Aiden John Semmens as parents Nuwahn Richards and John Semmens, of Westbury, look on. Picture: PAUL SCAMBLERAs she gently handed one- day-old Aiden John Semmens back to his mother, Ms Clay said that the award was a special one for her because it proved that she was doing her job well.
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A midwife is selected in each state yearly to receive the award and announced on International Midwives Day (yesterday) after being nominated by a new mother or her close family.

Ms Clay said that she had been on IVF treatment for 10 years in an attempt to have a baby and sometimes she found it really difficult to come to work at the Launceston General Hospital's Queen Victoria Maternity Unit.

"It's wonderful that I've received the award because it gives me faith that I've been doing the job well despite it being hard sometimes," she said.

Ms Clay has worked as a midwife at the QV, since she graduated 20 years ago.

She loves babies and regards it as a privilege to be part of the birthing experience with a family.

"There have been no memorable births because they are all special in their own ways," she said.

"Having a baby is a special and magical experience, a private and intimate time and I feel honoured to be part of it."

She said that midwifery had changed dramatically since she first trained more than 20 years ago.

"Most people would deliver flat on their back in bed but now we encourage women to be more mobile and to labour how they feel," she said.

"We also encourage more skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby from the beginning."

The biggest problem for most new mums was learning how to breast feed independently.

"That and getting to know when your baby is hungry or tired," she said.

About 1400 midwives from around Australia were nominated for this year's awards.

Ms Clay wins a family night out at Launceston's Country Club Resort.

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Kieran Govers misses out on his final double

Kieran Govers misses out on his final double

Keiraville's Kieran Govers displays his Champions Trophy medal on the University of Wollongong pitch yesterday. Picture: KIRK GILMOURJust hours before the Kookaburras' Champions Trophy showdown with England on Monday, Keiraville's Kieran Govers was in a face-off with coach Ric Charlesworth.The incident at the team meeting was far from confrontational, but the outcome shattered the young Aussie.Waking up in his German hotel room on the morning of the final, Govers had convinced both himself and the team doctor that he had overcome a bout of laryngitis.But Charlesworth wasn't convinced.If Govers had any troubles breathing before the team meeting, Charlesworth only added to his woes.The Aussie mentor was the bearer of bad news, shattering Govers' dream and ruling him out of his first Champions Trophy final."I would have played if I wasn't sick," Govers said."It was pretty disappointing watching the guys from the sideline."The Kookaburras made it two from two against the English in the tournament, sealing their third consecutive title with a 4-0 win in Moenchengladbach.For Govers, the gold medal-winning performance eased the pain of missing out on the chance to play in a World Cup and Champions Trophy final in the same year."After awhile I realised I wasn't up for it and I probably would have dragged the chain if I played," he said."The boys gave me some space at first but they all thanked me for my positive attitude."Govers has enjoyed a remarkable debut international season, but he still has one more accomplishment to tick off his 2010 to-do list.Flying to Brisbane next week, Govers will get his final chance to book a seat on the plane to Delhi for the Commonwealth Games in October.Also in the mix for selection are the six high-profile players who were rested from the Kookaburras recent European campaign.Regardless of whether Charlesworth opts to include the attacking midfielder in his Commonwealth Games squad, Govers' future in the sport is secure.A lack of financial backing in Australia has prompted his move to Germany to join Aussie team-mate Jamie Dwyer in Mannheim next year.
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Inquiry to look at health chief

Inquiry to look at health chief

Dr Schneider will be officially on leave from her North North-West clinical director's job from next Monday until the end of the specially convened Clinical Privileges review initiated to examine the leadership of Launceston's acute care mental health unit Ward 1E, where she has been in charge for at least a decade.
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Statewide Mental Health Services director Peter Norrie was in Launceston yesterday running Ward 1E until negotiations could be finalised to appoint a locum clinical director.

He said that the leadership review team, chaired by State director of hospitals Anne Brand, could take up to two months to conduct the inquiry set up as a consequence of the Health Complaints Commissioner's report into the Northern mental health facility and several services on the North-West Coast, also overseen by Dr Schneider.

Both unions and the Opposition publicly questioned why there was no change in leadership at Ward 1E when the report was released three weeks ago, after it slammed management practices in a system that had allowed harassment and bullying of patients and staff.

Australian Medical Association Tasmanian branch spokesman Rod Cameron-Tucker said that the AMA had advised Dr Schneider to take the leave option offered to her by the State Government while the inquiry was conducted.

"Part of the issue is that, in the position of responsibility as director, it's difficult to exert a position of authority while a review is occurring," he said.

Australian Nursing Federation Tasmanian secretary Neroli Ellis said that Ward 1E nurses were happy to see the recommendations of the Health Commissioners Report being implemented and were pleased to see the final part of process as the inquiry into Dr Schneider's leadership.

Dr Norrie said that he was filling the acting clinical director's position until an appointment could be made because it was important for the community to see that there was someone heading up Ward 1E and that they were providing a leadership that was working.

He said that Ward 1E had a good and dedicated staff, who had pulled together wonderfully in the past weeks of crisis.

Dr Schneider will continue to provide outpatients services two days a week for the duration of the inquiry.

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Judicial pardon by postcode

Judicial pardon by postcode

Judicial logic often has me scratching my head, but a couple of recent cases have really left some splinters in my poor old cranium. Top of the list was the magistrate who dismissed a drink-driving charge against a young woman on the grounds that she lived in a remote area and needed her car. She had some drinks after work in Sydney's eastern suburbs then was pulled over by police as she drove home to Cattai, north-west of the city. The area is poorly served by public transport. Therefore ... case dismissed. The magistrate sent some strange messages to the community - the important number is not what you blow but your postcode, and if you have a drink-driving problem, just move to Cattai or somewhere equally remote. "If she lived in any other suburb around Sydney, like Paddington," he said, "there's no way on earth I would consider dismissing the charge. It's not like she could jump on a 333 bus to Bondi." That reasoning did to me what the magistrate did to the driver - took my breath away. Couldn't he have told the woman either to change address or - here's a novel thought - change her drinking habits? Come to think of it, if being poorly served by public transport really was grounds for having drink-driving charges dismissed, surely just about every NSW resident could get smashed with impunity. The transport system is a mess, even for many people who do live near a bus or train route. I wonder if this sort of logic could be extended to other crimes. For instance, could I murder someone then seek a pardon on the grounds that I live in a stressful area? Or that I live in a remote area, and my kids need me to pick them up from footy and netball training? Speaking of blue murder, the David Jones sexual harassment case has also left me puzzled. The complainant is seeking $37 million in damages. That's 37 followed by six noughts. No-one has been murdered here. I don't make light of the sexual harassment issue, not for a moment. But really ... Apparently the damages claim was calculated on the basis of what the alleged sexual harasser earned (a lot, as CEO) and the profits of the company during the period of the alleged offences (a lot, as a major retailer). Does this mean, then, that you should be financially better off if you are harassed by a rich person rather than a poor person? It sounds a bit like postcode logic to me. If, however, they went for a huge amount partly to generate publicity about the evils of sexual harassment, then good luck to them. By the way, how about those comments by the fashion designer Alannah Hill? "I wish it was me," she said. "I wish he'd touched me up. "I would have gone back to that flat in a heartbeat." Intended as a joke or not, they set back the women's cause by decades. Gilbert and Sullivan wrote a witty song about making the punishment fit the crime. Kevin Rudd's crime, it seems, was to be unpopular, at least among his colleagues in the Labor caucus. Did his punishment - axing by his fellow Labor MPs - fit the crime?Will Julia Gillard escape being portrayed as the lord high executioner? Or has she opened the way for Tony Abbott to become prime minister? It looks like a lottery to me. I feel like I may as well pick 'em by postcode.
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Judicial pardon by postcode

Judicial pardon by postcode

Judicial logic often has me scratching my head, but a couple of recent cases have really left some splinters in my poor old cranium. Top of the list was the magistrate who dismissed a drink-driving charge against a young woman on the grounds that she lived in a remote area and needed her car. She had some drinks after work in Sydney's eastern suburbs then was pulled over by police as she drove home to Cattai, north-west of the city. The area is poorly served by public transport. Therefore ... case dismissed. The magistrate sent some strange messages to the community - the important number is not what you blow but your postcode, and if you have a drink-driving problem, just move to Cattai or somewhere equally remote. "If she lived in any other suburb around Sydney, like Paddington," he said, "there's no way on earth I would consider dismissing the charge. It's not like she could jump on a 333 bus to Bondi." That reasoning did to me what the magistrate did to the driver - took my breath away. Couldn't he have told the woman either to change address or - here's a novel thought - change her drinking habits? Come to think of it, if being poorly served by public transport really was grounds for having drink-driving charges dismissed, surely just about every NSW resident could get smashed with impunity. The transport system is a mess, even for many people who do live near a bus or train route. I wonder if this sort of logic could be extended to other crimes. For instance, could I murder someone then seek a pardon on the grounds that I live in a stressful area? Or that I live in a remote area, and my kids need me to pick them up from footy and netball training? Speaking of blue murder, the David Jones sexual harassment case has also left me puzzled. The complainant is seeking $37 million in damages. That's 37 followed by six noughts. No-one has been murdered here. I don't make light of the sexual harassment issue, not for a moment. But really ... Apparently the damages claim was calculated on the basis of what the alleged sexual harasser earned (a lot, as CEO) and the profits of the company during the period of the alleged offences (a lot, as a major retailer). Does this mean, then, that you should be financially better off if you are harassed by a rich person rather than a poor person? It sounds a bit like postcode logic to me. If, however, they went for a huge amount partly to generate publicity about the evils of sexual harassment, then good luck to them. By the way, how about those comments by the fashion designer Alannah Hill? "I wish it was me," she said. "I wish he'd touched me up. "I would have gone back to that flat in a heartbeat." Intended as a joke or not, they set back the women's cause by decades. Gilbert and Sullivan wrote a witty song about making the punishment fit the crime. Kevin Rudd's crime, it seems, was to be unpopular, at least among his colleagues in the Labor caucus. Did his punishment - axing by his fellow Labor MPs - fit the crime?Will Julia Gillard escape being portrayed as the lord high executioner? Or has she opened the way for Tony Abbott to become prime minister? It looks like a lottery to me. I feel like I may as well pick 'em by postcode.
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DRAGONS BLOG: Round 23 footy tips

DRAGONS BLOG: Round 23 footy tips

In case it had escaped anyone’s attention I’m a Dragons fan.That means I care a lot about the Dragons and precious little about any other team. In some cases I wouldn’t even be able to recognise - or even name - their players (hello, New Zealand Warriors).Perhaps the only time I have an interest is when Jarryd Hayne fails to win the game for the Eels. Not because I hate Hayne; who I hate are the people who treat him as God in a pair of footy boots when he does something great but are strangely silent when he’s not going so well.But I digress. Because of my lack of interest in any team not wearing a Red V, the Friday tips from now on will proceed as follows; I bang on about the Dragons game and list my other tips at the bottom. Which should at least please those Sharks fans who hate me because I mock their crap team.Anyway, in Round 23, the Dragons have the Monday night game against the Sea Eagles. In case you’re not a regular reader, I hate Monday Night Football. I preferred the old days where, by 6pm on Sunday night, all the games had been played. I hate having to wait around for an extra day to see my team play - and on a school night too (seriously, I’m old enough that 9pm feels late to me).Last weekend against the Roosters the Dragons showed a bit of improvement in their attack (and in their defence, which was already pretty good). But the Dragons still looked rusty, so there is scope for some improvement (which will surprise foolish Roosters fans who seem to think they played the Dragons at their peak). And we’ll see some more of that improvement against the Sea Eagles - Weyman and Fien will be so much the better for the game time, while Gaz is showing signs he’s about to make an impact.As for the team north of the Spit Bridge (wherever that is, my Sydney geography is woeful), they’re a bit inconsistent this season - win a few, lose a few, go to sleep at half-time - that sort of thing. On top of that, their worst game of the season was only a fortnight away - that would be the 32-14 shellacking at the hands of the Knights. The Knights! My God! Sure, they bounced back with a win over the Storm - but beating Melbourne doesn’t mean what it used to.Last time these two sides played, the Sea Eagles gave us a 24-6 hiding. But it’s worth remembering that back then we were missing a bunch of players due to injury and had a number of others backing up from rep games stupidly scheduled the night before.This time we’re as close to full strength as we can get. And it’s Manly who are missing key players due to injury. And they’re in for a bit more hurt on Monday night.The other games: Broncos, Sharks, Titans, Bulldogs, Warriors, Storm and TigersSeason points so far: 94.
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Asbestos may close Warilla North Public School

Asbestos may close Warilla North Public School

Warilla North Public School students are being bussed to other schools due to asbestos concerns. Picture: SYLVIA LIBERParents fear one of the region's most disadvantaged schools will be closed for good to avoid the cost of removing asbestos from its buildings.The Department of Education yesterday refused to quash speculation Warilla North Public School is on the chopping block, or to confirm asbestos remediation works had been priced at $4.7 million, as claimed by some parents.Students from the school are losing up to an hour of learning a day under stop-gap arrangements that involve being bussed to and from schools at Mt Warrigal and Barrack Heights.The arrangements have been in place since May, when material believed to be asbestos was found in two buildings.Parents say the buses sometimes run late, and the arrangements are exacerbating behavioural problems and learning difficulties of some students.Jody Byrnes, who left school in Year 7, is determined to see her son Steven get a better start in life. She believes the school would have been fixed already if it was in a richer area."There's people here who are on the dole, single mothers," she said."We're not rich. We don't have money to send them to private schools. They don't have much of a start anyway but they're the generation that could be different."Ms Byrnes is among parents circulating petitions to "save" the school. She believes its small size - about 120 students - will be used to help justify its permanent closure and is frustrated at the level of information provided by the Department of Education."We got told it would be closed for two weeks, we got told three months, then we got told they're not sure," she said. "Now we're getting told nothing."Any time we ask if it's closing they say it could be a possibility."A spokeswoman for the department said it was "continuing to investigate all available options" in relation to the school, and that two additional teachers had been allocated to displaced students, bringing the school's quota above the usual entitlement."Children's transportation to and from Warilla North Public School was in response to their requests and for their convenience," she said. "The bus is rarely late, and when it has been, the department has worked with the bus company to ensure there is no repeat."Warilla North is described on the Government's My School website as "a small school which caters for the needs of a low socio-economic status community".The Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage value for the school is 898, well below the 1000 average and the fourth-lowest of the 86 Illawarra public primary schools ranked on the site.Shellharbour MP Lylea McMahon said she would meet parents on Monday but had limited information on the issue."I'll be acting in the best interests of my community and that would be to ensure that the school is remediated and that the kids are returned to their local school as soon as possible," she said."I understand that it has taken some time for a complete assessment of the school in terms of the asbestos."The asbestos was uncovered as work began on an $850,000 upgrade to the school library and covered outdoor learning area - part of the Building the Education Revolution.
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Dapto fishermen shell-shocked after brush with death

Dapto fishermen shell-shocked after brush with death

Peter Trick, Peter Taylor, Darren Brumley, Les Davis, Henry Bandrowski and Don Inglis at Target to stock up on clothing and shoes after their boat went down in heavy seas off Yeppoon, Queensland. Picture: SHARYN O'NEILL, Rockhampton Morning Bulletin Bell Cay lies on her side in rough seas.
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A group of Dapto fishermen rescued from a capsized boat in heavy seas off Yeppoon were yesterday coming to terms with their harrowing, mid-ocean brush with death.The 21 on board, many of whom come from the Dapto area, spoke of the startling moment their chartered vessel smashed into a reef 250km offshore, and the dramatic 16-hour rescue bid that followed.Happy to be firmly on dry land yesterday, the shell-shocked group of mates spent the morning calling family and friends to recount their horror ordeal before hitting the shops, some in bare feet, to replace their borrowed clothes. Boat capsizes: Dapto men survive ordealWollongong railway contractor Trevor Hicks said the 22m cruiser, Bell Cay, had headed out of Yeppoon into pleasant seas on Sunday, the men anticipating a good week of fishing and a few friendly drinks.But on Tuesday night the weather turned violent.The boat had anchored for the night at remote Swains Reef when howling, cyclonic winds of up to 90km/h struck, buffeting the Bell Cay and awakening the sleeping men on board."It just blew up windy, all of a sudden the wind came up in the wrong direction, we pulled anchor and were swept onto the reef," Mr Hicks said."We didn't get thrown out of bed, the captain woke us up and we all got out of bed, grabbed our mobile phones and our wallets and started to evacuate."Forced to walk across the reef in 1m-deep water to reach a lifeboat, Mr Hicks said a number of the men received minor cuts to their legs but they all remained calm.Two emergency beacons had been activated and an SOS sent out over VHF radio frequencies. All the men could do now was wait.Mr Hicks said even then the gravity of the situation had not yet sunk in and the men passed the time making jokes.Two hours later a pair of fishing boats arrived and the men were taken on board the Impulse. "They gave us all dry clothes and a coffee," Mr Hicks said."Henry [Bandrowski] lost all his insulin on the boat and the rescue plane had to drop medication for him."Unable to safely return the men to shore, the Impulse waited for eight hours while Queensland Water Police vessel Lyle M Hoey rushed to the scene, arriving at 3pm.The group of fishermen finally arrived back on dry land at 8.20pm on Thursday, shaken but thankful just to be alive.A few cold beers and a warm bed awaited them at their hotel.Despite their ordeal, the friends say they have not been deterred and are keen for the annual fishing trip to carry on for a 17th year in 2011.

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Abbott and Gillard could learn from Pooh

Abbott and Gillard could learn from Pooh

It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like, ‘‘What about lunch?’’Winnie the Pooh said that. This, from a bear who by his own admission, was somewhat lacking in the brains department. But Pooh possessed a remarkable, clear-eyed wisdom that could floor the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood. I think it’s about time both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott took a few notes from Pooh’s honey-drenched pulpit.This election will have to go down as the dullest in history. No grandiose speeches. Nothing memorable, nothing to feel exhilarated about as we cross our boxes on election day. None of the Gillard we saw the day she took over (putting it nicely) from Rudd. We were spellbound as she told us that, some days she’d delight us, some days she’d disappoint us, but every day, she’d be working for us. That made sense. I liked that. I had a warm glow inside after hearing it. Sure, it wasn’t an Obama-speech glow, but it was a glow nonetheless.I, like many others, felt in that moment we had a politician that was going to shoot for the stars for us. Maybe the shock and speed of the spill meant the wheels of spin didn’t turn quickly enough to catch up, because the moment was happily devoid of the cotton wool of risk averse language (‘‘Prime Minister, perhaps the use of the word ‘disappoint’ is unfortunate in your maiden speech . . . let’s go with, ‘fail to deliver on expectations’ ’’). Then along came ‘‘Moving Forward’’ and our hearts sank. VOTE: Should politicians use simpler, every day language?Everyone crowded around the telly to watch Kevin Rudd’s emotional, passionate and articulate speech after he was deposed wished they’d seen this ‘‘real’’ Kevin earlier. Hearing him describe seeing the ‘‘frightened’’ stolen generations approaching Parliament House choked us up — it was real and honest and the first time we heard how much it moved him. He definitely could have learnt a few things from Pooh, who taught us that intelligence and wisdom are not the same thing and you can possess one and not the other. ‘‘Those who are clever, who have a brain, never understand anything.’’As for Abbott, he’s been force-feeding us brussell sprouts every day, even when we’ve barfed them up the night before. Turn around the boats, stop the taxes and end the waste. Abbott has obviously heard the first lesson from Pooh and applied it, but it’s not enough to use short, easy words, you have to make those words count. Compare Pooh’s example: ‘‘What about lunch?’’ with Abbott ‘‘No, stop, turn away, end’’. That’s all negative Tones! Where’s positive, excitable vision? Show us the love!Both Abbott and Gillard appear to have misinterpreted another of Pooh’s infinite wisdoms, ‘‘If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.’’ The person with the fluff in his ear is you, not us. Abbott, banging on about the debate you don’t have to have because she said she only wanted one, not three, is absolutely nauseating. We don’t give a toss. But you’re right on one level. We don’t want another stage-managed debate. We don’t want what you both think are pithy grabs underscoring your key messages. We don’t want risk-adverse or ‘‘real you’’ Julia. We don’t even want ad-hoc bribes targeting the interests of every swinging voter segment in the land. We want vision. We want policy that’s going to shape our nation. We want you to not ‘‘engage’’ with us, but to listen to us. Not in a year-long community summit-type way, but to tune in to what we’re feeling right now. We’re looking at the brushstrokes because we can’t see the whole painting. Draw us a picture. Tell us a story. Inspire us. We want creativity, we want originality and we want passion. We want a PM bursting out of the blocks, speaking in language sends an exhilarating shiver up our spine.We want to feel a bit chuffed and believe it or not, we want to gush, ‘‘That’s our PM!’’ And even if they stuff things up every now and then, we’ll forgive them, because they’re ours. As Pooh would say, ‘‘Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon’’. Give us one.Diana Elliott is freelance writer from Melbourne. Source: National Times
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