Archive for August, 2018

Illawarra backs CRL championship revamp

Friday, August 24th, 2018

JUGGERNAUT: Illawarra celebrate their third straight CRL championship title at Mudgee in 2015. Picture: Scott HazlewoodTHE Illawarra Rugby League has given its “in principle” support for a dramatic re-structuring of the Country Rugby League championships in 2017.

The CRL confirmed on Friday that an under 23’s competition will replace the current open-age formatnext year while the ‘tier one’ and ‘tier two’ model will also be scrapped.The new competition will comprise 10 teams divided into Northern and Southern regions with the winner of each to play each other for the CRL title.

Illawarra has been the dominant force in the CRL championships for the last decade, claiming eightof the last 11titles. Newcastle broke the stranglehold this season but the dominance of the traditional regional powerhouseshas seen calls a revamp of the competition.

CRL chief executive Terry Quinn said the recommendation, that was successfully carried atlast week’s AGM, would bring the tournament in line with an ARL Commission restructure that will see the scrapping of the NYCand return to state-based competitions in 2018.

“One of the things we looked at [at the AGM] was how we could revamp our championships and under 23s was mentioned given ourpeak participation agein the championships allthroughout any of the country areasis 19-23,” Quinn said.

“It also fits in with the pathways model that the NRL are putting up.

“The [under] 20’s are going back to state-based competitions [in 2018] and we looked at how we can give the guys thatdon’t quite make that next level a chanceto further their careers. It was a recommendation put to the [AGM] and it went through quite convincingly.

“We believe the new format will provide a greater opportunity for regional players to progress through the rugby league pathways whether it be into the state cup or ultimately theNRL.”

The revampcould end Illawarra’s longreign as CRL kings but IDRL general manager Chris Bannerman was hopeful it will be a positive move.

“In principle we support it, we’re certainly not against it,” Bannerman said.

“I think [the CRL] have looked at the changes at NRL level around the NYC and themoveback to a state-based competitions and itmight just be the way of the future given the other changes in the game’s elite pathways.

“It’s a big change but we’re hoping a change for the better.”

How regions will be divided is yet to be determined but a combined Illawarra-South Coast team drawing players from the Coal League and Group Seven competitions has been mooted.

“There’s discussion around Illawarra and Group Seven being merged into the one entity in rep football,” Bannerman said.

“The 16’s and the 18’s were already going that way next year so moving the new23s into the same structure would make sense.

“If you look at our current pathways with the Dragons through our Steelers junior reps it’s full of kids from Illawarra and the South Coast. Any chance for us to widen thatnet will be good for our respective competitions.”

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Addiction is a chronic illness, not a character flaw

Friday, August 24th, 2018

The last time a US Surgeon General released a report as potent as last week’s, it was in 1967 and it affected millions.

In it, the last word – or empirical evidence, as climate change denier Malcolm Roberts would deem it – was given on smoking. It was decreed there was an irrefutable link between smoking, lung cancer and other deadly ailments. Finally, the world sat up and noticed and, more importantly, acted. Opinions were irrevocably altered and habits were dropped. Shut the debate gate.

And while I would like to believe that this latest report will be a similarly defining medical moment, I am sceptical.

Because this time the Surgeon General’s finding does not just involve changing habits and attitudes but deep-seated prejudices and stereotypes.

Thereport,Facing Addiction, is replete with stats that are startling and scary but hardly new. One in seven Americans will experience a problem with alcohol or other drugsin their lifetimes, and some 20 million have current substance use disorders. An average 78 people are dying from overdoses every day, yet only 10 per centof people with addictions ever receive any sort of help.

But here is the clanger I hope will resonate: “For far too long, too many in our country have viewed addiction as a moral failing,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy writes. “We must help everyone see that addiction is not a character flaw – it is a chronic illness.”

It would be too easy to respond with a united “duh!”. The problem is convincing the public of Murthy’s conclusion. Yes, this means no more “it’s no fault but their own” or “why help someone who won’t help themself?” and “they’re just weak” attitudes so entrenched in society.

It will also mean an acknowledgement that the war on drugs is a complete and utter farce – and an expensive, counter-productive and life-ruining exercise in madness.

Australians are world leaders in drug use. More than 40 per cent of us have used drugs illicitly and we have one of thehighest rates of illegal use per capita, despite also having some of the most expensive prices.

And with the current epidemics of prescription drug abuse and ice, “it couldn’t happen here” complacency is unwarranted.

Murthy toured the country interviewing Americans as part of his report and discovered a core problem: many who feared addiction were afraid of losing their jobs and friends should their issue be revealed.

Many also claimed to be concerned that if they reachedout to doctors orsought mental heath experts that their problem may be reported or doctors may not treat their issue seriously.

Here, experts on the frontline say the problem is the same. Shame and stigma are stopping those in need of help from accessing it. Murthy contends the logical next step is integrating substance addiction treatment into mainstream healthcare.

Who believes when they have their first sip of wine they will become an alcoholic? Is it really a case of shame them for having a different chemical make-up to us? Is it actually their fault for trying it in the first place?

Of course it isn’t. Let’s hope that the US Surgeon General’s report will arrest such foolishness. And that those of us opening our evening bottle of wine, popping another Valium, or enjoying a cigarette will stop feeling superior and realise the term “addict” is not confined to those who use needles or a glass pipe. That it’s time to legalise, regulate and, most of all, respect.

Hard habit: Australians are world leaders in drug use. More than 40 per cent of us have used drugs illicitly and we have one of the highest rates of illegal use per capita.

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Concern over ‘go-alone’ plan

Friday, August 24th, 2018

The head of a South Australian livestock agents association has said his members wished the introduction of electronic tagging in Victoria “would all go away.”

Naracoorte Combined Agents Association chairman Darren Maney said about 70 per cent of all sheep and lambs from the lower south-east of South Australia went to Victoria for slaughter and processing.

“I think we wish it would all go away, that’s about the truth of the matter,” Mr Maney said.

“While everybody is pro-traceback and an organised system, I get very worried about individual states introducing things.”

He predicted “a lot of headaches” in the first 12 months of the scheme, as it was likely to cause enormous logistical nightmares.

“The Department of Agriculture makes all the rules, but ultimately the cost rests with the agents and the industry.”

He questioned the phase-in time, which he said was relatively short, and predicted it would cause a “lot of headaches”, particularly with scanning problems.

Electronic tagging for cattle took “eight or ten years to sort out,” he said.

“I think the same thing is going to happen here, unfortunately.”

But he said South Australia was in a fortunate position, in that it could see how the program was rolled out in Victoria

SheepmeatCouncil of Australia president Jeff Murray said his organisation maintained its position that there should be a national program.

COUNCIL CONCERNS: Jeff Murray, the Sheepmeat Council of Australia president has raised concerns about the introduction of the electronic tags.

“Currently Victoria has stepped out of that line and it’s not going to be easy to maintain a national program, when we are always on two different pages,” Mr Murray said.

He said the roll out would be case of “watch and see”, as there would be a lot of ongoing costs, which were likely to come back on producers.

“There will be issues that need to be covered off.

“I can’t see many of the state governments putting funding to eID’s to the extent the Victorian government has.

“It will all finish up on the producer’s table, as our state budgets are so far up the creek, it’s impossible to get money for anything,” he said.

Mr Murray said the council had asked the Victorian government to delay the implementation of the scheme, particularly when big mobs would be going through the saleyards in January and February, in high temperatures.

“It’s not necessarilya good outcome,” he said.

“It’s hard to know what the impact on interstate trade will be;what the implications are going to be, we are yet to see.”

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Christmas will be rockin’

Friday, August 24th, 2018

The Starliners plan to get toes tapping and hips shaking when they perform a special Christmas show next month.

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: The Starliners will perform a Christmas spectacular at Blacktown Workers Club on Saturday, December 17.

The eight piece band will play December favourites including; ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town’, ‘Rockin’Around the Christmas Tree’, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, ‘A Winter Wonderland’, ‘O Holy Night’ and many more.

The band has been together for over seven years.

“To keep that many people together in this industry for that long, means we’re doing something right,” Wayne Thomas, the band’smaster of ceremonies (MC) and vocalist said.

“We perform a variety of songs that bands don’t or couldn’t play, because we’ve got the line up of band members to be able to produce the records in a ‘Starliners’ way,” he added.

Mr Thomasis a drummer at heart and said he “loves the lime-light and isstill rocking at the ripe age of 68”.

Wayne Thomas

“Some people think The Starliners is a vocal group in front of a band, but the truth of the matter is, we’re an eight piece band that go everywhere together–a true, tight-nit, classic band,”he said.

“I’vebeen a drummer for at least 50 years and have grown-up children whoare both musicians.

“Jordan followed in my footsteps, heis an accomplished drummer, and Rachel is a great singer who started performing in musicals at a very young age.”

In 2001, Mr Thomas caught a glimpse of what it might be like to work with his own offspring on stage when he saw his friend and The Starliner bassistRob, working regularly in a trio with his daughter Melanie, and The Starliner guitarist Graeme.

“The band is a real family affair,” he explained.

“We’ve all been in the musical industry for a very long time and each have our own robust passion for music and entertainment.

Mr Thomas said The Starliners Christmas showis a performance “well worth coming along to because all the songs are memorable”.

“We’ll be sure to take the audience on a trip down memory lane,” he said.

Details: 8pm on Saturday, December 17 atBlacktown Workers Club, 55 Campbell Street, Blacktown. Tickets: $7.50 members, $10.50 visitors. To book: Call 9830 0600 or visitworkersclub苏州美甲培训419论坛. CENTRE STAGE: “We will transform the club into a winter wonderland when Santa Claus comes to town,” Mr Thomas said.

Community rallies to raise driver awareness

Friday, August 24th, 2018

MEMORIAL RIDE: Mother-of-three Belinda Gray was tragically killed on Sunday, November 2, after a car spooked her horse, Diesel, at Bahrs Scrub. Photo: Supplied

She lived for her children, had apassion for riding and was labelled as having a beautiful soul.

To most, Belinda Gray was a kind and caring mother-of-three, but to her friend Kirsty Hellmech, her heart was “as big as Queensland”.

Mrs Gray was recently killed after being thrown from her horse, Diesel, when he was spooked by a car at Bahrs Scrub.

Nowfriends and family, as well as the equinecommunity, are preparing to ride togetherin memory of Mrs Gray.

They arepushing toraise awareness of the dangers of speeding around, and spooking, horses.

The event,Ride for Belinda, will be held on December 18.

Belinda Gray, pictured with her daughter Amber and horse Diesel, was a horse riding enthusiast with a heart “as big as Queensland”. Photo: Supplied

“Belinda’s husband, Davin, will be leading the ride, walking Belinda’s horse with their daughter on his back,” Ms Hellmech said.

“We’re not sure where we’ll be riding from yet, but we’ll be startingat 7.15am.

“That was the time Belinda and her daughter, Amber, left for their ride on Sunday, before the incident occurred.”

Ms Hellmech pleaded with the community to slow down while driving around horsesand said spreading awareness of the dangers of a spooked animal was vital.

“I’ve been riding horses most of my life and I now don’t go anywhere without my go-pro and helmet on,” she said.

“Cars are always driving too fast, and there have been occasions where motorists have screamed at the horse I’m on and thrown things at her.

“She doesn’t care, thankfully, but what happens if it happened to a horse that did?”

Ms Hellmech encouraged anyone who would like to join the Ride for Belinda event on December 18 –whether they have a horse or not –to look on Facebook for a start time and venue, which will be posted soon.

The ridewill be followed by a sausage sizzle and a moment of silence for Mrs Gray.

Belinda Gray, pictured with her husband Gavin, was known for her “beautiful soul”. Photo: Supplied

“She really was a beautiful person,” Ms Hellmech said.

“Everything she did, she did with passion, and she truly lived her life for her kids.”

Ms Hellmech said aGoFundMe page has also been set up to raise money for the Gray family –nowrelying on one income instead of two.

To donate, visit苏州美甲培训gofundme苏州美甲培训/support-belinda-grays-3-children.

For more information on theRide for Belinda event,visit苏州美甲培训facebook苏州美甲培训/RideForBelinda.

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