Stroke report in spotlight

A Hunter based stroke expert has labelled a taxpayer-funded report as “not worth the paper it is written on”, due to what he described asflaws in the methodology used to calculate its findings.
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Acting director of John Hunter Hospital’s Acute Stroke Service, Conjoint Professor Chris Levi, has slammed a section of the Bureau of Health Information report published last month as “misleading”, after it said the hospital had “higher than expected” mortality rates for ischaemic stroke.

Professor Levi said the report didn’t take into account the severity of stroke, which he said was the dominant factor in determining a patient’s outcome.

“We’re receiving information from the Ministry [of Health] that is not accurate and it’s misleading the public, the media and the Minister [Brad Hazzard],” he said.

“There’s both national and international evidence to indicate it’s not best practice method –it’s really an inferior approach that runs a significant risk of error.

It’s not worth the piece of paper it’s written on, it’s a total waste of time and it’s just not credible.”

He said the report also didn’t take into account the ambulance bypass protocol, which means the region’s severe acute stroke patients go straight to John Hunter Hospital.

Professor Levi’s comments coincide with research published in theMedical Journal of Australia on May 1, which found “the models with the best fit for standardising mortality were those that included adjustment for stroke severity”.

It found hospitalperformance rankings could move dramatically –including from 21stout of 28 hospitals to sixth –when strokeseverity is taken into account.

Professor Levi said he commissioned Monash University researchers last year – in preparation for the release of the BHI report – to analyse the hospital’sstroke mortality rates with the inclusion of stroke severity.

“It demonstrates John Hunter is not an outlier at all, it’s actually an inlier and sits within the acceptable boundaries, in fact it’s pretty close to average.”

The BHI report used as its principal indicator a ratio that adjustedfor patient factors including age, sex and other illnesses.

BHI chief executive Dr Jean-Frederic Levesque said he remained“confident in the findings” and stood by the methodology.

“The BHI has investigated adjusting for stroke severity in 30-day mortality models, however, the analyses done using currently available information did not show a significant impact on results,” he said.

“There’salso mixed evidence about the impact of adjusting for severity. In addition, hospitals may vary in their ability to assess how severe a patient’s stroke is.

“BHI has conducted many analyses to identify if certain hospital results may be influenced by bypass systems and did not find different results.”

Home makeover for terminally ill mum

Home makeover for terminally ill mum AMAZED: Karin Reynolds and daughter Matilda explore Matilda’s made-over room.
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GRATEFUL: Karin Reynolds hugs Karen Stackman after seeing the new-look home for the first time.

BEFORE: Ms Reynolds sitting in her home before the renovations. Picture: Simone De Peak

TweetFacebookTerminally ill mum Karin Reynolds sees her newly made over home for the first time @MaitlandMercurypic.twitter南京夜网/YrxH67jvat

— Sage Swinton (@sageswinton) April 30, 2017Karin Reynolds sees her daughter Matilda’s new look room for the first time @MaitlandMercurypic.twitter南京夜网/Z7ekL0EzJq

— Sage Swinton (@sageswinton) April 30, 2017Friends transform homeIt wasan emotional monthfor the Metford community members who spearheaded the renovation of a terminally ill mother’shome.

Fairfax Mediareported in April that Karin Reynolds, who has terminal cancer and lives in public housing with her children, wanted to leave behind a clean, safe home for her family to live in when she passes.

Ms Reynold’s friendsKaren Stackman and Belinda Fitzpatrick began assembling volunteers, donations and lobbying the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) to get on board.

And they succeeded –the department agreed to provide afull kitchen upgrade, tile repairs in the kitchen and bathroomand other minor repairs.

In addition they provided temporary accommodation for the family while works were carried out.

For more than three weeks a core group of volunteers worked tirelessly with the help of local businesses to transform the run-down property.

“We’ve laid flooring in the girl’s room, had blinds installed in every room, had the floor stripped and sealed…painted every room,” Ms Stackman said.

On Friday it all came together when the Reynolds family returned home.

“It feels magnificent,” Ms Stackman said.“It has been harder than we thought, but we got there.

“We’re very proud.”

Ms Stackman said each of the volunteers had dealt with their own personal and family issues over the past month, compounding the challenge, but there was one thing that kept them slogging through the work.

“The kids and Karin –[the kids]need somewhere to spend their final times with their mum,” Ms Stackman said.

Ms Stackman said the team’s mood was lifted when they heard FACS wasrevamping the kitchen.

“We weren’t expecting that, it was great they jumped on board to help out,” she said.

“Extraordinary. Without their help this wouldn’t have happened.”

Ms Stackman thanked the numerous local businesses and tradespeople who donated equipment, skills and material –from doors to paint –to the project.

Maitland Mercury

Group home care concerns

CLOSING: One of the buildings at the Stockton Centre, a large residential facility for people with disability that the NSW government has committed to closing by 2018.THE state government has ordered a review of clinical care needs at a Stockton disability group home after the death of one resident and the hospitalisation of another.
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The Minister for Disability Services, Ray Williams, said he was saddened bythe death at the group home and he offered his condolences to the family.

“My department has notified the NSW Ombudsman of the death and has provided full and unrestricted access to relevant records relating to reviewable deaths to allow him to investigate,” Mr Williams said.

“To address the hospitalisation of another client, my department is also undertaking a review of clinical care needs at that group home.”

As the Newcastle Herald reported last week, the two female residents had recently moved from the Stockton Centre, which the state government is moving to close, to a group home, run at this stage by the government, in suburban Stockton.

Asked about fears about the level of care in the group home,Mr Williams said:“I am advised two of the staff members that work at the group home hold registered nursing qualifications.

“All group home operators are required to comply with the NSW Disability Service Standards and implement a quality management system. I am proud that this government strengthened existing safeguards in 2014 by introducing the Disability Inclusion Act.”

But the NSW opposition and some disability advocates are gravely concerned about the situation at Stockton, with Port Stephens MP Kate Washington sayingthe government had been warned it was risking people’s lives in closing Stockton.

Ms Washington, opposition disability spokesperson Sophie Cotsis and Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp are pushing Mr Williams to take action after giving his office a letter of concern from the Stockton Centre Welfare Association, written by a former chief executive of the centre, Lorraine Yudaeff.

Lettter from Stockton Centre Welfare Association In her March 25 letter,Ms Yudaeff lists nine areas where “reality” falls far short of the government’s “commitment”.

She says having one organisation in charge of general care, another in charge of housing and a third in charge of specialist medical care constitutes “a veritable avalanche of problems”.

Stockton had in-house medical services but Ms Yudaeff said “it appears that already overburdened GPs … are extremely reluctant “to take group home residents as patients, meaningthese extremely vulnerable people” will be dependent on the general hospital system.

How The Herald broke the story: Hunter disability group home death to be investigated Ms Yudaeff questioned the level of care in the group homes, and said the loss of staff from Stockton was causing problems “as predicted”, including significant nurse shortages.

A-League: Milestone skipper Nigel Boogaard compares Newcastle Jets’ buzz to early years at Central Coast Mariners

DOUBLE TON: Nigel Boogaard at Ray Watt Oval on Thursday. Picture: Jonathan CarrollNigel Boogaard has been around long enough now to know the highs and lows of football life.
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And on the eve of notching up his 200thA-League appearance, which includes the inaugural FFA Cup title and a grand final loss almost 10 years ago, the homegrown skipperputs thiscurrent vibe at the undefeated Newcastle Jets right up there.

MILESTONE: Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard will make his 200th A-League appearance. Picture: Marina Neil

“I’d almost have to compare it to early days when I was at the [Central Coast] Mariners,” he said before making the trip to Adelaide for Saturday’s sixth-round clash with United.

“There’s just this camaraderie within the group. It’s a great bunch of boys and there’s a belief there that we can achievesomething.

“We all belivethat we have the right recipe to succeed this year, but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves.

“We’re five games in and it’s been a great start, but we’re nowhere near where we believe we can be in a lot of aspects of the game.

“At the moment there’s just a good buzz and a good vibe around the club so hopefully we can carry that on throughout the season.”

FAMILY: Nigel Boogaard with wife Kerryn and daughter Audrey in July. Picture: Marina Neil

The Dudley-Redhead junioris now31,husband to wife Kerryn and father to three-month-old daughter Audrey. It’s a far cry from the teenager that debuted off the bench more thana decade ago in the old National Soccer League competition.

“That first taste was only a few minutes, but it was enough for me to go I belong here and I think I can make a career out of this,” he said.

“That was the first time I genuinely believed it and looking back I’m thankful to be given that opportunity at such a youngage.

“A lot’s changed [since then]. I’d say I’ma lot more mature these days. I’m a family man, I’ve got a daughter and a beautiful wife.

“Perspective on life changes as you grow and my football knowledge has comea long way. Hopefullywhat I’ve learned over the last 13 or 14 years as a professional I can pass on now to some of the younger players.”

BODY AND SOUL: Nigel Boogaard wins a header for Adelaide against the Jets. He played 98 times for United.

The central defender started out with the Mariners, originally signed and kept by now Jets chief executive officer Lawrie McKinna despite setbacks. Boogaard thenmoved to Adelaide for six campaignsbefore returning to Newcastle from 2015.

The most-capped Jets captain will become the 23rdperson to reach the double-century milestoneand isone of thefew remaining players from theA-League’sinception in 2005-2006.

“It’s exciting times and hopefully there’s a few more years in this body and there’s a few more milestones and achievements to come,” he said.

STARTING OUT: A young Nigel Boogaard in action for his first A-League club, Central Coast Mariners.

‘In a bad mood’: Kangaroo attacks man on South Coast

A kangaroo “in a bad mood” has left a man in hospital on the South Coast, after attacking the 80-year-old on Thursday.
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NSW paramedics treated the man about 10:45am in Bendalong for multiple cuts to his lower legs suffered during the attack, including “one and a half inch lacerations below the knee”.

Attending Paramedic Rob Hilliar said the man fed the local roos each morning and one had become particularly aggressive.

“He’s a lovely bloke who spoils them a little, feeding them jam and cream on toast,” Mr Hilliar said.

“On this occasion one of the roos was in a bad mood and pushed him over.”

The man was taken to Milton Ulladulla Hospital in a stable condition, where he remained as of Thursday afternoon.

A spokesman for NSW Ambulance said, while he had not heard of any other recent incidents of kangaroos attacking people, anecdotally the animals were known to be aggressive at times, especially during mating season.

He said this particular roo was unharmed in the incident, watching on “presumably in amusement” as paramedics treated the man before hopping off.

“The bloke came off second best,” he said. “But maybe aside from his pride, he seems to be doing ok.”

In the past three months, NSW Ambulance said paramedics had attended 38 incidents involving kangaroos, three with wombats and two involving possums, though the incidents largely involved collisions with cars.

NSW Parks and Wildlife warns people against feeding kangaroos on its website.

“Kangaroos and wallabies eat a range of native grasses and herbs and are adapted to chewing and digesting these grasses,” it says.

“When kangaroos and wallabies become used to being hand-fed, they sometimes attack people in their quest for food. Remember, they have sharp claws and a strong kick.”

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Hunter schools must have ‘consistent’ enrolment policies

Change: Minister for Education Rob Stokes, pictured in the Hunter on Tuesday, said a principal should not accept out of zone enrolments “from an area without consulting the principal of the school in that area”. Picture: Simone De PeakHUNTER schools need to more consistentlyenforce their enrolment policies to help alleviate overcrowding, according to Minister for Education Rob Stokes.
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Mr Stokes told the Newcastle Herald his department had asked principals to work more closely together and have “clear agreements” about accommodating out of zone enrolments.

“When we have schools which are operating above capacity and there is strong demand continuing in that school from out of area enrolments, we actually have to be real and say ‘We have to identify what that reason is’,” Mr Stokes said.

“Largely I suspect it’s reputation, it’s not based in reality.

“So we need to demystify that, but also make sure there is agreement between local principals before out of area enrolments are accelerated, because otherwise it does not matter how many classrooms we build if we don’t also engage with enrolment policy.

“The heart of public education is there are local schools in local communities to serve local families and when that’s breaking down you can’t win that challenge.”

Several Hunter schools have already amended their enrolment policies and closed places to new out of zone families, with plans to soon ban even the younger siblings of current students.

Belair has 530 students this year. Its enrolment ceiling is 502 and includes a buffer of 19.

Biddabah has 438 students. Its enrolment ceiling of392 includes a buffer of 12.

Hamilton South has 419 students. Its enrolment ceiling of 366 includes a buffer of 14.

Newcastle East has 247 students. Its enrolment ceiling of 211 includes a buffer of 14.

The Junction has 608 students. Its enrolment ceiling is 548 with a buffer of 42.

The Herald reported in May this year the Hunter had topped the state for its proportion (41 per cent ) of public high schools either full or exceeding capacity, based on their number of permanent classrooms.

A NSW Opposition freedom of information request showed 10 Hunter schools installed at least five demountable classrooms, in the absence of permanent infrastructure. Rutherford Technology High had 15.

The department said at the time it was preparing for major upgrades to Hunter Sports High School, Bolwarra Public School and the Hunter School of Performing Arts.

It said nine schools were being upgraded as part of the Secondary Schools Renewal Program, including Cardiff, which is expected to be completedthis year.

It also announced in the same month Rutherford Technology High would receive $1.8 million, Irrawang High $1.1 million, Cessnock High $1.05 million and Hunter River High $1 million for maintenance.

Mr Stokes said the government wouldn’t let a school operate at an unsafe level.

“One of the fundamentals of public education is it’s open to all comers, so we will always find room in a local school and if that requires putting up temporary accommodation to accommodate unprecedented or unexpected demand we’ll do that,” he said.

“However we do need to look at where that unexpected demand is then sustained and you’ve got demountables on a site for extended periods of time.

“We need to build more permanent classrooms and we’re doing that across the state.

“But the second thing is we need to be clear and consistent in relation to enrolment policy.

“We can’t have, for example, a principal accepting out of area enrolments from an area without consulting the principal of the school in that area, so they need to talk to one another.

“As a department I’ve asked for that to be enforced a bit more so there’s some clear agreement.”

Mr Stokes said the innovative major upgrade to landlocked Newcastle East –which involves building a new structure with four classrooms over the top of the covered outdoor learning area –was the kind of “out of the box” solution that could be applied across the state.

“The lessons we can learn from it are not necessarily replicable in Newcastle but they’re replicable in many parts of Sydney where you have these constrained sites, historic buildings and very engaged local communities,” he said.

“There are no fixed rules, every site is different, every school community is different and that is why our method with school infrastructure is to have a project control group locally so the school can be co-created with the community.”

Mr Stokes said the department would continue to build schools to meet growth.

Celebrating 200 years of hospital health care in NewcastlePHOTOS

200 years of hospital care in the Hunter Hospital history: A Royal Newcastle Hospital ward in 1939. Dr. R Strurrock, later to become a well-known orthopaedic surgeon in Sydney, is pictured with Sr. Hilda Porter (matron in the late 1950’s) and nurses Sawtell, Atkins and McCam. This photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.Royal Newcastle Hospital graduation (1958) From left to right Loraine Newcombe, Margaret Hodgon, Robin Masson, and Heather Pengilley. This photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.
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Hospital history: Matron Porter and Dr. McCaffrey, Royal Newcastle Hospital.This photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Hospital history: Royal Newcastle Hospital graduation (1958). From left to right Loraine Newcombe, Margaret Hodgon, Robin Masson, and Heather Pengilley.This photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Hospital history: Royal Newcastle Hospital – North Wing.This photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Hospital history: Royal Newcastle Hospital, Newcastle, [c.1914] In front is a dray with four horses, carrying a miniature horse and a loaded coal skip, as for a parade. Richard McAuliffe is in shirt sleeves.

Hospital history: Royal Newcastle Hospital – North Wing, taken from overlooking building. This photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Hospital history: Ward room, Royal Newcastle Hospital. This photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Hospital history: Moving cartons of medication, Royal Newcastle Hospital’s Pharmacy. This photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.

John Hunter Hospital: This image was scanned from a photograph in the University’s historical photographic collection held by Cultural Collections at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

John Hunter: Nick Saunders standing outside the John Hunter Hospital site, New Lambton, Australia. This image was scanned from a photograph in the University’s historical photographic collection held by Cultural Collections at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

John Hunter: Aerial view of the John Hunter Hospital during its construction, New Lambton, Australia.This image was scanned from a photograph in the University’s historical photographic collection held by Cultural Collections at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

John Hunter: Sue Johnson with an unidentified nursing student at John Hunter Hospital, the University of Newcastle, Australia – 1992.This image was scanned from a film negative housed in the University’s historical photographic collection held by Cultural Collections at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

Cake ‘goodbye RNH, hello JHH’, Royal Newcastle Hospital. [n.d.] From: Outpatients – black album, Royal Newcastle Hospital. ColourThis photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Rankin Park Unit of the Royal Newcastle Hospital, located on the site of the present John Hunter Hospital (n.d.) This photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Archery at the Rankin Park Unit of the Royal Newcastle Hospital c.1950-1960’s The Rankin Park Unit is located on the site of the present John Hunter Hospital. This photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Nursing students on training placement at John Hunter Hospital with nursing lecturer, Sue Johnson, the University of Newcastle, Australia – 1992

Unidentified nurse playing mini golf on the grounds of the Rankin Park Unit of the Royal Newcastle Hospital c.1950-1960’s The Rankin Park Unit is located on the site of the present John Hunter Hospital. This photograph is from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.

TweetFacebook Take a look through the archivesThe photographs are from the Hospital archives held by the University Archives in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library, the University of Newcastle, Australia.NEWCASTLE’S achievements in health care during the past 200 years aresomething to be remembered andcelebrated, as history shows theHunter’s medical fraternityto be a down-to-earth but determined bunch,Dr Ross Kerridge says.

The Hunter Postgraduate Medical Institute will host a publicevent at HMRI on Saturday tomark the 200thanniversary of the first hospital opening in Newcastle.

Event convenor Dr Kerridge said while there had been many changes in the past 200 years,such as the closing of the old Royal Hospital on Newcastle beach, the region’s health care was not defined by buildings, bricks or location, but by “people, commitment, and a sense of vocation.”

“It is easy to focus on the negative things,” he said.

“But I think we should concentrate on celebrating all that we have achieved, and are continuing to achieve.

“The buildings may move around, but we’ve got an ongoing tradition of healthcare and hospitals in Newcastle that has its own particular flavour of being based in the community, not taking itself too seriously, of being hard-working and getting on with it – and making do with less resources than people in Sydney have, and that’s an ongoing thing – it’s been there for 200 years, and it’s going to continue for another 200 years.”

Throughout Saturday’s event, the general public would learn about the history of health care in the region, such as battle to get the John Hunter Hospital established.

“There was a huge political fight, and they had to fight,” Dr Kerridge said.

“The waterside workers threatened to blockade all the ports of NSW unless Neville Wran agreed to fund John Hunter Hospital.

“That would have been in the early 1980s.

“Essentially, they had the old Royal, the Mater, and the Western Suburbs Hospital at Waratah,which was a tin shed, and Wallsend –and they were bursting at the seams. But the government in Sydney was still reluctant to cough up the money, and hello, we’re hearing the same thing again about Maitland.

“They are not going to cough up the money easily. You can’t just say we want our fair share, no. You have to fight for it.”

Event-goers would also learn how Newcastle became known as the “Bex capital of the world,”and how our penchantfor “a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down” contributed to the opening of a renal department from the subsequent kidney damage.

There will bestories about the Newcastle Medical School, the Hunter medicos who worked on the Burma Railway, and why Newcastle is a good place to have a stroke.

The free event is on at the HMRI building on November 11. Registration from 8.20am.

Find out more.

Coffee mogul Phil Di Bella lists New Farm home with $6m+ price guide

Deep in New Farm, Brisbane’s resident king of coffee Phil Di Bella and wife Gianna built what they had planned to be a forever home for themselves and their two children.
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“We have built other homes before that look stunning, but I didn’t enjoy living there but with Turner Avenue, it’s so liveable and perfect. It just works,” Mrs Di Bella said “It’s got a homely feel yet it has huge street appeal and immense presence.”

The Di Bellas built the exemplary four bedroom home on a rare, empty, 636 square metre block at 30 Turner Avenue four years ago.

The contemporary home was future-proofed for ongoing family life, with Mrs Di Bella advising the architect on what their family needed as the kids grew up.

“We wanted a master suite separate from our kids and our intention was to raise our the kids here as they got older,” she said.

“It’s a wonderful home that has been perfectly designed to include so many features characteristic of modern day living. It’s perfect to lock up and leave which is great when we spend a lot of time at the Gold Coast.”

Phil Di Bella became coffee royalty when his roasting business Di Bella Coffee spread across Australia, and then the rest of the world. He sold the company in 2014 for a potential $47 million, and retains an active role in the business.

The immense house has 547-square metres of floor space, which includes a cinema, guest suite, and a home office. Related: Sunshine Coast’s property hotspots revealedRelated: Why interstate buyers flock to BribieRelated: Millions in Brisbane property left to rot

Outside, the rest of the block is dedicated to outdoor living areas with a pool, sauna, and built-in barbecue.

There’s also full automation throughout the house, with keyless entry, CCTV, lights, and intercom systems.

The striking black facade and screens over the front balconies are also sure to impress.

Ray White New Farm’s Matt Lancashire has the listing, he said the home had left him amazed.

“It’s generously proportioned with a modern and minimalist floor plan. I love it,” he said. “It truly delivers on its brief to have seamless indoor and outdoor entertainment with functionality, space and privacy in mind for the most modern family living.”

The Di Bellas are giving up on what would be their forever home to buy a block with more grass for the two kids, aged nine and seven, to play on.

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Brisbane Airport takes legal action against Airservices Australia over PFAS chemicals

Brisbane Airport BRISBANE AIRPORT is suing Airservices Australia over the same toxicfirefighting chemicals that have triggered Williamtown’scontamination crisis.
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Airservices Australia, established in 1995,providesaviation rescue and fire fighting services to 26commercial airports across the country.

The government-owned agencyhas contracts withSydney, Melbourne and Canberra Airports. However it does not service Newcastle Airport, which relies on the neighbouring Defence base for its firefighting operations.

Brisbane Airport was contacted over the lawsuit on Thursday, but said it was unable to comment while the matter was before the courts.

“Brisbane Airport Corporation can confirm it has filed legal action in the Supreme Court of Queensland against Airservices Australia (ASA) in relation to historical aqueous film forming foam contamination caused byASA at the airport,” it said.

Fairfax Media previously reported that thelatest annual report for Airservices Australia included a $23.2 million liability earmarked for managing the fallout from the legacy of contamination.

The company has stated thatit has not used a fire fighting foam containing the harmful per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances [PFAS] at any of its civilian airport operations since 2010. It claims it began phasing out foams containing PFASin the early 2000s.

Airservices Australiahas been contacted for comment.

More to come.

The pull of Hawthorn: why people love this leafy suburb

When Graeme Smith and his wife Liz decided to move closer to the city, Hawthorn was the obvious choice. Long-time residents of the eastern suburbs, the couple had lived in Burwood East for 28 years before downscaling to a three-storey townhouse in Hawthorn East.
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“We wanted somewhere that was a bit more convenient to town,” says Smith, as well as somewhere with a wide range of public transport. “And just to have more things at our doorstep.”

Smith was no stranger to the leafy blue-ribbon suburb. He grew up in nearby North Balwyn and Kew, and his mother had lived in Hawthorn for many years after becoming an empty nester. He appreciates its more cosmopolitan qualities, but also its peace and quiet.

One of Melbourne’s more moneyed suburbs, Hawthorn’s tree-lined streets host heritage homes and manicured gardens, but the presence of Swinburne University ensures a buzzing atmosphere along its main drags. The west side of the neighbourhood follows the curves of the Yarra and there’s no shortage of sprawling parks and sports facilities.

“My favourite market in Melbourne,” is how Andrew Leoncelli, CBRE Victoria’s managing director, describes it. “Hawthorn ticks all the boxes. You’ve got very good retail amenities, lifestyle amenities, and then good public transport.”

In recent years the suburb’s more traditional restaurants have been supplemented by a new generation of on-trend cafes and eateries, such as Bawa on Burwood Road, which opened to much hype in October 2015 and still does a roaring trade two years later.

Inspired by the designs of Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, which blended built environments with nature, the cafe’s fit-out is airy and decked with foliage – fitting for a Hawthorn venue.

“Our design aspect really does fit into the suburb well,” says co-owner and head chef Chris Griffiths, who grew up in Hawthorn. “It’s a beautiful suburb. You can drive down side streets and feel covered by trees.

“I find Hawthorn’s not as relaxed as Fitzroy and not as snobby as Toorak. People are very approachable and very friendly.”

Wade Nicholson-Doyle, owner of Hello Sailor cafe on Auburn Road, agrees. It’s an approach he’s tried to mirror in his business.

“We wanted to create a cafe that has zero attitude, so there’s no too-cool-for-school kids working there, everyone’s very relaxed and chilled,” he says. “I’ve noticed that a lot of the locals know all our staff by name.”

Occupying a heritage building on a corner site, Hello Sailor draws a wide and varied clientele, from older customers and mother with babies during the week, to younger groups on weekends and even the odd Hawthorn footy player.

Nicholson-Doyle believes that alongside its proximity to the city and its friendly locals, Hawthorn’s extensive array of cafes is one of its biggest drawcards.

“It brings more people to the streets,” he says. “I think everyone offers something a little bit different as well. They all kind of compliment each other.”

Smith says there are “tonnes” of cafes close to his home, and he has some favourite spots for dinner too, like south-east Asian fusion restaurant Okra, The Beehive Hotel, and The Meat & Wine Co.

“We can walk to quite a few of the restaurants and the rest of them we get on public transport,” he says.

The suburb’s strong student cohort also means there’s no shortage of places to eat on a shoestring.

“If you want a quick, cheap meal, you go down Burwood Road or Glenferrie Road and you’re lost because of the degree of choice you have,” says Smith. “I find that aspect rather good. Even when you’re just walking around the streets, it’s a bit more interesting than just having old fogies like me.”

Boutiques are another fixture of Hawthorn, dotting Auburn and Glenferrie Villages, with stores such as Hokey Curator, Swoon and Muse stocking high-end fashion and homewares. The suburb is also home to one of Readings’ beloved bookshops.

Andrew Leoncelli says as more Hawthorn residents become empty nesters and their family homes feel too large, they’re seeking smaller alternatives.

“They’re looking for large, high-quality, well-finished apartments,” he says.

A new development that’s seeing interest from local downsizers is The Auburn, a project that will comprise just 14 apartments once completed. Located at 177 Auburn Road, it will sit just 400 metres from Auburn train station, and even closer to Auburn Village.

“This project is actually tailored to that mature buyer, buyers coming out of a big family home where the kids are no longer with them or the final kid is getting ready to leave school,” Leoncelli explains.

The Auburn, built by award-winning WAF construction, will have one one-bedroom residence, nine two-bedroom apartments, and four three-bedroom apartments. Both its architecture and interiors are the work of award-winning Fitzroy practice Splinter Society. All offer wide courtyards for indoor-outdoor entertaining, and Leoncelli says their large-sized kitchens are a particular highlight.

“What we’ve got is a beautiful kitchen with enormous, natural granite finished to a very high level, and double ovens,” he says. “Also the scale of the master bedroom with walk-in-robes and an en suite.”

In addition to its location and design, Leoncelli believes The Auburn’s boutique status is something that makes it particularly appealing.

“It’s a bit of an enclave,” he says. “They’re all big apartments, they’re not investor or student-focused, so they’re going to have like-minded people sharing their spaces.”

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From wheelchair to wetsuit: Lauren Parker plunges back into triathlon

Lauren ParkerThere will be many inspiring stories in Sunday’s Maitland Triathlon, but none more so than Lauren Parker’s.
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Triathlete Parker is taking part in the 1500m swim leg a little more than six months after a freak training accident left her paralysed from the waistdown.

In April, the 28-year-old’s life was thrown upside down when on a routine training ride near Raymond Terrace both her tyres blew. She crashed into a guard railand was leftparalysed from the impact.

Parker said returning to swimming had been pivotal in her recovery both physically and mentally.

The Maitland Triathlon at Morpeth will beher thirdforay back into competition.

She completed the 1000 metre swim legs at last month’s Nepean and Noosa triathlons, but unfortunately a big swell forced the cancellation of the 1.6km swim leg at the Challenged Athletes Foundation triathlon in San Diego on October 22.

“The trip to San Diego was great for me as I got to meet so many people facing the same issues as me,” she said.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get to swim as the swell was too rough, but I got so much out of it.

“I hate being in a wheelchair, but that’s where I am at the moment. There are so many things which affect your daily life which able bodied people just wouldn’t consider.

“There are good days and tough days. I just try to look at the positives and the huge support I’ve received from friends and family and the triathlon community has helped so much.

Lauren’s journey back: from wheelchair to wetsuit DETERMINED: Lauren Parker is taking part in the swim leg of Sunday’s Maitland Triathlon at Morpeth just six months after being paralysed from the waist down. Picture: Simone De Peake

DETERMINED: Lauren Parker is taking part in the swim leg of Sunday’s Maitland Triathlon at Morpeth just six months after being paralysed from the waist down. Picture: Simone De Peake

Lauren Parker in the days after her horrific cycling accident near Raymond Terrace on April 18.

Lauren Parker competes at the 2015 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

Lauren Parker in Royal North Shore Spinal Cord Injury Unit days after her accident. She spent three months there before being moved to a specialist spinal centre in Ryde.

Lauren Parker at the start of her rehabilitation in Royal North Shore Spinal Cord Injury Unit days after her April 18 accident which left her paralysed from the waist down.

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Artist Peter Lankas features in Rockin’ the Suburbs at Gallery 139 in Hamilton

The Newcastle man with the lawnmower on his head | PHOTOS The Burbs: A Peter Lankas painting of a bloke with a lawnmower on his head.
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A Lankas painting of a couple having fun with a shopping trolley at Charlestown.

A Lankas painting of a bloke crossing Glebe Road at Adamstown.

Newcastle artist Peter Lankas.

TweetFacebookOff Your Trolley A Lankas painting of a couple having fun with a shopping trolley at Charlestown.

Another Lankas painting that captured the wry eye of Topics was a couple skylarkingin a shopping trolley at theCaltex on the highway at Charlestown.

“You know how teenagers muck around –they’reout late at night at twoin the morning, running through the streets with a shopping trolley.

“It’s about your first love and she’s in the trolley and having fun.”

Peter has a penchant for painting service stations.

“Service stations are like lit-up beacons in the night, saying ‘come in, come in’. You drive past and there’s a beauty in the lighting and brightness.

“The irony is that you walk in there and it’s full of junk food,coke and petrol. It looks so good, but there’s nothing good there.”

Adamstown Bloke A Lankas painting of a bloke crossing Glebe Road at Adamstown.

Another Lankas painting we thought we’d share features a bloke dressed in a black shirt and jeans, crossing Glebe Road at Adamstown.

Peter said he has a bag filled with “two-minute noodles, ciggies ora drink – whateverhe’s into”.

Peter is interestedin capturing “ordinary things that we see and do everyday and people take for granted or miss”.

“I try and document that there’s beauty everywhere in the most mundane, ordinary elements that happen in everyday life.”

Newcastle, he says, has “a lovely, slow beauty to it”.

“There’s a lot of colour in some of the houses that were painted by the guys working in the steelworks. They used to take home leftover paint, which had bright colours. They used to paint their houses with it,” he said.

Turn it On and OffTopics has oftenheard the advice from IT experts to “turn it off and on again”when there’s a problem with ourcomputer.

But we’d never heard this one before.

Our Foxtel box was on the blink. We rang Foxtel and spoke to someone overseas, who advised us to “turn the HDMI cable around”.

That is, unplug the cable from the TV and Foxtel box, turn the cable around and plug each end into the opposingslot from which it came.

“That doesn’t make sense. It’s not logical,” we said, all conceited, to our foreign friend.

Lo and behold, it worked.

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‘This is human rights’: Frances Abbott sweats on survey

Frances Abbott was all smiles on the red carpet at Oaks Day but said on the inside she is sweating the outcome of the same-sex marriage postal survey.
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“I’m waiting with held breath, fingers crossed that it’s a ‘yes’ vote. If for some reason it is not a yes win, then it’s not the end. This is not something that’s going away … it’s really important, it’s human rights,” Abbott told Fairfax Media at Oaks Day at Flemington.

The former “first daughter” went public recently with her decision to vote “yes” in the campaign, despite Mr Abbott’s strong opposition to same-sex marriage.

Frances Abbott at the Myer lunch for Oaks Day.

Mr Abbott’s sister, Christine, is gay and also supports same-sex marriage.

Frances Abbott said the family didn’t let their views get in the way of their personal relationships.

“I have my views, Tones has his view, aunty Chris. When we’re all together we focus on the family stuff and leave the politics outside,” she said.

Frances was a guest of Myer at a lunch celebrating Australian women of influence and inspiration at the department store’s marquee at Oaks Day.

She said her mother, Margie, was her greatest inspiration.

“She is a goddess, I love her. She is so strong but so soft. She is kind but firm, I credit everything I am to who she is,” Frances said.

Frances Abbott has recently gained a profile on the bodybuilding scene and said she generally feels more comfortable on the stage than the red carpet.

“I fell in love with that [bodybuilding] … it was performing, I would do my little winky face. It was so much fun. All those weeks of hard work leading up to it felt awesome,” she said.

The postal survey results will be released on Wednesday November 15.

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