Monthly Archives: September 2019

Conversion therapy not an issue for me: PM

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he won’t become involved in a debate about gay “conversion” therapy, which has been discredited by psychiatrists across the world.

However, Labor has reiterated a pledge to outlaw the controversial practice if the party wins the next election.

A coalition of those who have endured the practice, churches and community advocates is urging ‘s major parties to address the issue before the next federal poll.

Some 43,000 signatories to a petition are calling for a crackdown on the practice, including greater powers for health and consumer watchdogs and tougher regulations.

The prime minister said people should make their own choices about their lives.

“I respect people of all sexualities, I respect people of all religions, all faiths. I love all ns,” Mr Morrison told Melbourne radio station 3AW when asked about the petition.

“I’ve never been involved in anything like that, I’ve never supported anything like that, it’s just not an issue for me and I’m not planning to get engaged in the issue.”

However, Labor is demanding the prime minister unequivocally condemn the practice and work with the states to ban it.

Mr Shorten said being gay was not a sin, describing the therapy as harmful and not evidence-based.

“I don’t think the way that we help this community grow together is by stigmatising gay people,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

Greens senator Janet Rice said conversion therapies and sexual orientation change efforts can have fatal consequences and must be stamped out.

“The basic premise of conversion therapy and sexual orientation change efforts is that LGBTIQ people can and must be changed, rather than being perfect and accepted for who they are,” Senator Rice said.

Earlier this year, Victorian Liberals president Michael Kroger stepped in to stop a motion on gay “conversion” being debated at the party’s state council.

A branch of the Young Liberals called for the law to be changed to ensure doctors “can offer counselling out of same-sex attraction or gender transitioning”.

Kotara Bears Junior Rugby League Football Club to celebrate 50th anniversary with gala dinner

GOING STRONG: Kotara Bears Junior Rugby League Football Club players Ollie O’Brien, from the 11’s team; Ollie Ellis, from the 10’s team; and Noah Ellis, from the 12’s team. The trio played in grand finals this season. Picture: Simone De PeakKotara Bears Junior Rugby League Football Club are calling on ex-players, coaches, officials and supporters to attend a 50thanniversary celebration.

The club, which plays out of Hudson Park, was established in the late 1960s when residents of “Hudson’s estate” started teams for local kids to play in.

“There was a committee of men who got together and decided to start it in late ‘67 and then they fielded teams in 1968,” Bears life member Murray Steel said.

“It went all the way through until 1993… because of the demographics of the area, people got older and there wasn’t anyone to play footy.

“We got it going again in 2002.”

After a nine-year hiatus, the Bears bounced back to have a peak of about 19 teams. This season the club fielded nine teams across various competitionsfrom under-6 to under-16 level.

Three teams qualified for grand finals but they were unable tosecurea title in the celebratory year, which will be recognised with adinner at Souths Merewether (South Newcastle Rugby League Club) on October 20.

“It’s to celebrate the history of the club,” Bears committee member Mark Pippen said.

“Fifty years for a small local club, I think it’s a pretty good achievement.

“We go through all the trials and tribulations of any small rugby league club.”

Tickets for the 6.30pm dinner areon sale for $79 at Souths Merewether.

Hunters silverNewcastle Hunters under-16 girls have claimed a silver medal at the Basketball NSW State Championships.

The Hunters went down 57-52 to Manly Warringahin a tense final at Gosford City Basketball & Sports Stadium late last month.

Newcastle reached the semi-finals of the under-16 boys but lost toeventual tournament winners Sydney Comets. Seven Hunters teams competed at the State Championships.

Aerobics stars WINNERS: Thornton Thunder aerobics team after wining their national title.

Thornton Public School’s aerobics team, the Thornton Thunder, have won a national title in just their second year of competition. The team, comprised of Year 5 and 6 students, won the Federation of International Sports Aerobics and Fitness national titlein August.

Glen William softball repKendall Boyton, a Year 6 student at Glen William Public School, has become the first student in the school’s history to make a Hunter PSSA side.

HISTORY: Kendall Boyton of Glen William Public School is in the Hunter softball side.

Boyton was selected in the Hunter softball side and will compete in the PSSA State Championships this week at Milperra in Sydney.

Incredibly, he had never played softball before he tried out for the side.

The natural sportsman has been the school’s sports captain for the past two years and was Glen William’s 2018 recipient of the Premier’s Sporting Challenge medal.

“I am excited to havethe opportunity to represent the Hunter and meet new friends,” Boyton told theNewcastle Herald.

Saltwater Restaurant is one family’s dream come true

Seven years ago David and Kylie Pollard moved their family from Sydney’s Northern Beaches to Port Stephens. They were sick and tired of the traffic and wanted the opportunity to own their own home.

They also had a dream –to open a restaurant with a view.

David is a chef and Kylie has more than 20 years of hospitality to her name. Together, they own and run Saltwater Restaurant above Fingal Beach Surf Life Saving Club which opened late last yearto a local and tourist market hungry for quality food with a view.

And what a view it is.

Pollard worked at Club Med in the Whitsundays and the Rockpool Group after completing his cooking apprenticeship. He was head chef at “a little restaurant in Newport” and also spent time working in London and with the Solotel Group in Sydney.

“The idea of opening a restaurant bythe water came about 15 years ago. It was just a matter of an opening becomingavailable for us. When we first walked into the space above the surf club we just knew the dreamwould come to fruition,” he said.

DREAM: Chef David Pollard at Saltwater which he owns and runs with wife Kylie, who is in charge of front-of-house. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Saltwater’s menu revolves around locally-sourced seafood.The seafood platter for two is popular, as well asthe caramel chilli lamb rack and theprawn, squid and Vongole clam angel hair pasta with chilli oil and citrus zest.

“My philosophy is to start withthe very best fresh, localseafood and produce – and we have an abundance here in Port Stephens –and let theingredients speak for themselves,” Pollard said.

“There’s always a well-balanced selection ofseasonal dishes.We use local farmers Holberts oysters, Monin Seafoods and a local fruit and vegetable supplier who sources fromNewcastle Farmers Markets.We love to showcase the fresh local fish, musselsand oysters of Port Stephens. I trust my seafood supplier and ask him ‘What’s good this week?’ and we work out the specials around his suggestions.”

Tourists make up a large part of Saltwater’s customer base butPollard says “locals keep coming back because there’s alwayssomething new to try”. Families are welcome and whale-watching is encouraged.

The couple didn’t want to compete with the venue’s panoramic views of Fingal Bay so worked with designer Morag Argiris to adopt an “inviting and understated Hamptons-meets-beach style”.

“We stilllove watching peoples’ reactions as they enter for the first time,” Kylie Pollardsaid.

“It’s important to us that people feel relaxed and at home here.”

Their vision is to make Saltwater the premier wedding location in the region.

“I believe Port Stephens isone ofthe most spectacular places on earth,” Dave Pollard said. “This is a dream cometrue and we are so proud to be able to share it.”

Workplace health and safety: The case for prosecution alternativesOPINION

NOT LIGHT: Enforceable undertakings are indeed legally binding agreements. When workplaces are in significant breach of workplace health and safety laws, prosecution is costly in terms of penalties and fines.

These could even threaten the viability of the business, which means loss of jobs and income for their workers too.It also leaves little to no budget to improve the unsafe conditions.

The introduction of work health and safety legislation has allowed the regulator to accept an enforceable undertaking (EU) in lieu of a prosecution, where a business can focus on developing initiatives to improve their safety outcomes, instead of spending time and money on legal proceedings.

An enforceable undertaking must demonstrate three main principals.They are legally binding agreements submitted by the alleged offenders that commits to achieving considerable safety outcomes, which must deliver benefits to the business; the industry sector; and the wider community that go beyond mere compliance.

The agreed terms of a EU are based on factual circumstances of each case. The EU could include special training programs; the purchasing or development of new equipment, safe systems of workthat would benefit the workplace.This should include industry-wide awareness programs regarding safety, and partnering or donating to not-for-profit organisations.

To ensureall terms of the EU are being implemented or complied with, the regulator monitors the business periodically by allocating an inspector to work with the business to verify activities that have been completed.This involves regular dialogue, providing updates and evidence of activities specified in the undertaking and receiving approval to publish content that has been developed (such as manuals).

When businesses participate in EU the requirement is a significant, ongoing commitment that aims to achieve improved safety performance and the establishment of an improved safety culture.The latter is often the weakness for most workplaces, as time and money are generally projected to growing the business and safety becomes secondary. The EU also provides an opportunity for investment in organisational reforms to minimise safety issues. This could be achieved by sourcing expertise to address complex safety processes. Further, participants of the EU are required to share safety knowledge and initiatives with peers in their industry and the community on the general preventive strategies, consequences and implementation process of safe work practices.

Whilelegal representation and fines are expensive, the cost of a EU could be higher.However, understanding a EU’s primary aim is to implement changes to address the unsafe conditions, improve safety performance and build a safety culture – increasing productivity and profitability.

Importantly, it is money invested into developing and optimising safety management systems and processes within the business, whilegaining recognition in the industry sector for the safety contributions and finally the assistance given to charitable organisations.

Faith Eeson is a safety consultant with FOCCALE Safety Management.

Experiencing the beauty of central China on the Larapinta Trail

Popular with hikers, but never crowded – the spectacular Larapinta Trail.As soon as you leave Alice Springs and head out into the West MacDonnell ranges, you know you are in Namatjira country.

Most ns will find the ghost gums, red ranges and spinifex plains immediately familiar from the paintings of Albert Namatjira, whose home of Hermannsburg, is just a stone’s throw away, at least in Northern Territory terms.

I had signed up for Trek Larapinta’s three day guided walk, though I was soon to discover that the ‘West Macs’,as they are affectionately known, cater to everyone from the day tripper to the serious hiker.

I was more about stopping and smelling the flannel flowers than putting myself through a test of physical endurance. But on the plane over it became clear that hordes of people were heading in the same direction as me; to walk, run, cycle and ride the famous Larapinta Trail.

I was grateful for my small group, (Trek Larapinta caps numbers at eight), and once we were whisked away to our private semi-permanent camp in a sandy riverbed, it felt like we had the desert all to ourselves.

On the way to our first day’s walk at Ormiston Gorge, we visited Simpsons Gap, where the sun hadn’t yet made its way over the red cliffs. Our guide, Rob Shaw, pointed out the flock of Zebra finches, which for thousands of years had signalled to Aboriginal people the presence of water.

Sunlight glows on the red ochre cliffs of Ormiston Gorge

On our nine-kilometre walk to Ormiston Pound we had our first taste of the rocky terrain the Larapinta is famous for. Our guide’s knowledge of the ancient geology of the area was impressive, but my true respect was earned as he patiently taped up the already blisteringfeet of my fellow walkers.

We finished the day with a plunge into a freezing waterhole, which had the same effect as applying ice to tired muscles.

Back at camp, our second guide Zoe, barbecued local barramundi for us, which we ate around the campfire as temperatures dropped. I had bravely made up my swag in the creek bed in daylight before someone mentioned dingos, but once ensconced in the -5 degree sleeping bag all fears were banished by the vista of the night sky.

The Southern Cross was huge and close, the Milky Way spilled overhead. The canvas changed throughout the night as the constellations travelled across the sky. I lost count of the number of shooting stars – I was possibly seeing glimpses of the Perseid meteor shower which is visible during August.

Our second day of walking was a steep hike up onto Counts Point, a pinnacle of the Heavitree Range with incredible views in all directions.

The weather was unusually hot which made the walk hard going. I dutifully drank my three litres of water, but forgot about reapplying sunscreen to winter-white legs.

However, our efforts were rewarded with endless views in all directions, another freezing swim, this time in the Finke River, and a beer at the nearby Glen Helen resort.

The water hole at Ormiston Gorge

After another campfire dinner, we were given the sobering news that we would be woken at 2am for an eight-kilometrepre-dawn slog up Mount Sonder guided by headlamps. But like a photograph slowly developing in thesolution, during the night my legs revealed the true extent of the day’s sunburn and I decided to pass on the walk.

In the late morning, the more hardy souls among our group returned to camp for brunch with tales of the steep climb and the freezing, gale force winds at the top and I began to think my sunburn had been a blessing.

But, they say, the views were worth it, and the Mt Sonder dawn hike is considered to be one of the highlights of the Larapinta Trail.

On our way back to Alice we detoured for a walk between the stunning redwalls of the famous Standley Chasm.

The once-in-a-lifetime walk through Namatjira country Simpsons Gap

The Larapinta Trail provides panoramic views

Ormiston Gorge

Trek Larapinta’s semi-permanent campsite near Ormiston Gorge.

The view from Counts Point on a section of the Larapinta Trail

Ghost gum

TweetFacebookIF YOU GOPlaces in the MacDonnell Ranges for day visits andshort walks.

Simpsons GapOrmiston GorgeStandley ChasmEllery Creek Big HoleGlen Helen GorgeTrephina Gorge Nature Park in the East MacDonnell rangesMt Sonder Lookout (for those not fancying the eight kilometre climb before daylight)