How an autism assistance dog turned a family’s life around

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A simple dash to the supermarket with the kids or a visit to the zoo were impossible for Teresa Brown and her family before they got their beloved assistance dog, Jason.

(ABC News) ABC Radio Melbourne

By

Fiona Pepper

Updated

January 31, 2017 14:16:09

Video: Meet Reilly's assistant dog Jason.
Autism diagnosis in Australia lagging years behind other countries
Teresa Brown describes the incredible impact of her son's assistance dog. (ABC News)
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Teresa’s five-year-old son, Reilly, has autism, which means he can become overwhelmed by the noise and movement of highly stimulating environments like shopping centres, and when Reilly struggles to regulate his anxiety, he runs.Mrs Brown said a trip to the local park when Reilly was three years old could have easily ended in tragedy. Photo:
Reilly is tethered to Jason when shopping at the local supermarket. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Fiona Pepper)
“We were at an enclosed playground and I turned around for five seconds to talk to a friend,” Mrs Brown said.”In that time Reilly managed to leave the enclosure, walk straight across the path and into the nearby creek.”He has no sense of danger. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Fiona Pepper)
Reilly always struggled to sleep through the night, but his sleeping improved almost immediately after Jason arrived.”Reilly would wake up at 1:30 in the morning and not go back to sleep for hours,” she said.”And then because Reilly was so tired and exhausted, he was more anxious and everything was much harder to do.”Jason now lies next to Reilly during story time, resting his head on Reilly’s lap and putting deep pressure on his stomach.Mrs Brown said that within 10 minutes Reilly is settled and asleep — a task that would normally take two hours.Dogs for Kids with DisabilitiesKatie Hunter, the founder of Dogs for Kids with Disabilities, trained Jason, along with many of the other assistance and therapy dogs in Victoria.Ms Hunter said labradors and golden retrievers were the breeds predominately used, as they are generally recognised in public as assistance dogs.It takes two years to train a dog like Jason, costing the organisation around $40,000.Ms Hunter said the insight dogs could offer autistic children was life changing.”There’s always a chemical reaction in the body when you’re feeling anxious or stressed or in fight-or-flight mode, and dogs can smell that change, long before we can see it.”For the Browns, it has been a dramatic change.Two years after Jason arrived in their home, Mrs Brown said Jason has offered her family independence, sleep and — most importantly — involvement in the community. He had no idea that that would be a dangerous.”Luckily, Reilly was quickly pulled from the creek by another parent, but in that moment Mrs Brown knew she needed to do more to keep her son safe.”Every time we’d see on the news a child with autism had gone missing, we just thought — this could be us.”A year later, after a lot of research and raising $20,000 to help cover the cost of training an assistance dog, the Browns introduced Jason to their son.Things started to look up. It means the world to us.”The Browns gained independenceWhen they’re out in public, Jason wears the service coat, and Reilly wears a belt that tethers him to the dog.If Reilly does try to run off, Jason knows to sit and act as an anchor.With Jason’s help, the Browns started attending community events.Now they can easily visit their local shopping centre without worrying they could lose Reilly.”It’s meant being able to do normal, everyday things that other families take for granted,” Mrs Brown said.Jason acts as an emotional supportAt home or out and about, Jason helps to regulate Reilly’s anxiety, either by reading his moods or by responding to a command from his parents.”If Reilly is anxious at home, I can say, ‘Jason touch’ and he’ll go and touch Reilly’s hand and then wait,” Mrs Brown said.”There will then be an instant calm over the house.”

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Teresa, Reilly and Jason make their way through the supermarket. Photo:
The Brown family: Jason the assistance dog, Teresa, Reilly, Samuel and Gavin. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Fiona Pepper)
“Jason is a goofy black Labrador, who when he’s in his service coat just becomes this beautiful, gorgeous gentle giant and helps us get around as a family,” Mrs Brown said.”Without a doubt it’s changed our lives. We were a family in crisis before we got Jas.
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Widower reels in fishing companions after social media call-out

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Ray Johnstone’s advert has received more than 60,000 views. (Gumtree: Ray Johnstone)

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A widowed pensioner who turned to social media to find a “fishing mate” has reeled in a haul of potential companions after his call-out went viral on social media.Ray Johnstone, 75, posted an ad on Gumtree on January 19 explaining his previous fishing mate had died and he was looking for company for his trips.”I asked for it on Facebook to start with but didn’t get any answers,” Mr Johnstone told the ABC.He then cast his net further afield, placing an advertisement on Gumtree after a suggestion from his nurse.”I did and now it’s gone bloody viral, hasn’t it?” he said.The advertisement was shared on Monday on social media and has had 60,000 views.”I am a Land Based Fisherman I have all the gear for all types of fish that is required for Land Based Fishing [sic] what I want is a fishing mate in a similar position to myself who also wants someone to go fishing with,” the advertisement read.He also offered to share costs with anyone willing to take him fishing in a boat.Mr Johnstone, from Lewiston, north of Adelaide, said he had fielded calls from all over the country from “at least half a dozen people willing to go out [fishing] with me that have got boats”.He said he had lined up a local fishing trip in waters off Adelaide in a couple of weeks but would first do a bit of land-based fishing at Ardrossan with his son-in-law.Mr Johnstone said he had spent the afternoon doing media interviews and could not believe the amount of attention he had attracted.”I won’t be able to walk down the street soon,” he joked.Mr Johnstone will be targeting whiting, tommy ruff and garfish when he goes fishing on the weekend — with company.
By Michael Coggan

Updated

January 30, 2017 23:51:31

‘Film is not dead’: Resurgent interest in analogue photography

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Surprise shots are among most rolls printed. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“It’s all ages that are doing it — they want to shoot traditional film as it’s cool again, film is not dead.”More thought, better shotsMr Gresham said the demand came not only from hipsters shooting film, but baby boomers who were picking up their old cameras. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“Unlike the iPhone, where you blast off shots, when you only have a roll of 24 or 36 [shots] you really think about it,” he said.”The quality of the photos we’re getting on film today are probably better than we ever got.”There’s many professional photographers who have gone back to shooting [with] film as they can’t get the quality they want from digital.”The magic of opening printsMr Gresham said film fans enjoyed receiving their prints and opening the envelope once it was processed — something many younger shooters had never experienced before. A Brisbane film processor says he is run off his feet trying to keep up with people wanting to develop traditional film prints.Similar to the resurgence of vinyl, using and processing 35mm film has gained in popularity amongst photographers young and old.Phil Gresham has processed film for more than 25 years and said he had recently seen a jump in requests.”We get four or five customers daily who want film processed and lots of phone calls asking us if we do it,” he said. Photo:
Film canisters lined up to be processed. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“There’s that excitement of getting photos printed, and for many it’s the first lot of prints they’ve ever had,” he said.”They get that wonderful feeling of opening their prints.”It also means they will have something for generations to come.”In the ’90s there was close to 500 mini labs processing film in south-east Queensland, but now Mr Gresham’s family business in Taringa is one of the last.”We stocked up on spare parts for our printing machines as we saw it [the digital surge] coming a long time ago,” he said.”We also sought out film and Kodak are now producing a range similar to what they had way back when. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“When it comes to cameras, op-shops and grandparents are being asked for SLR film cameras.”Many of the cameras just need a battery for them to work again.”As well as film processing, Mr Gresham said many photographers wanted old negatives and slides converted into digital format or printed.”We had a customer arrive with a box of more than 2,000 negatives to be converted to prints,” he said.”The demand is certainly there.” Photo:
Film negatives are processed and cut before being printed. Photo:
Once processed, the film canisters are no longer needed.
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ABC Radio Brisbane

By Jessica Hinchliffe and Terri Begley

Updated

January 25, 2017 16:55:47

Video: Traditional film photography makes a comeback in digital age

(ABC News)

Octogenarian yogi teaches mind, body and soul on the mental health ward

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Thelma Bryan is reliant on a motorised scooter to travel distances longer than a few dozen metres. She has held world swimming records, taught children on three continents and donated thousands of dollars to charity, but yoga draws Thelma Bryan’s brightest smile.For the past 26 years, the 86-year-old has volunteered her time to teach weekly yoga classes in Cairns Hospital’s Mental Health Unit.As far as she is concerned, the effects of her teachings are evident on the faces of her students.”I see them walking out of the room much happier than when they walked in,” Ms Bryan said.”I say to them sometimes ‘I’ve helped you today, but you also help me, because you make me feel that at 86 I can still reach out and help others’.”Age is not the only impediment to the octogenarian yogi’s volunteering efforts.Emphysema and no less than five hip replacements mean she now relies on a motorised tricycle to cover distances that render her walking stick inadequate. (ABC Far North: Mark Rigby)
Despite her ailing health, Ms Bryan remains committed to teaching her students the principles of yoga.”The suppleness of the body, the importance of breathing well and the awareness of movement are what I try to encourage in my students,” she said.”I try to inculcate good breathing practices and I had one student thank me particularly for the practice we worked on in class.”She had been told to do that by her doctor, but she hadn’t fully grasped it until she had the time and space to feel comfortable with it.”While her passion for helping others still burns hot, 45 years of yoga practice has left Ms Bryan very much in tune with her body.As her age increases and her health declines she decides, each week, if the next class will be her last.”I’m having remedial physiotherapy and remedial massage once a month just to keep me on my feet,” she said.”But while I still have something to offer I want to continue.”
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Mark Rigby

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January 25, 2017 12:58:26

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Thelma Bryan has been a practising yogi for more than 35 years.
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Charity’s free breakfast service evolves into more than a hot meal

There are calls to expand meal services for Darwin’s homeless and vulnerable, after a charity’s ad-hoc breakfast program evolved into a “wrap around” first aid and welfare initiative.The Salvation Army started hosting a free breakfast on its Darwin headquarters patio in mid-2016.”It actually started quite informally,” charity officer Kris Halliday said.”We had a number of people who were staying in the local area and couldn’t make it into the city’s breakfast service and were asking for something to eat, so we started doing the occasional toast and noodles. “Our receptionist would spend much of her morning running up and down the hallway making two-minute noodles for people, so we saw it was a need and went from there.”Six months on, the charity is serving up free breakfasts six days a week, with daily numbers ranging from just a few to up to 30 people. Photo:
Volunteer nurse Nicole Anderson administering first aid at the Salvation Army breakfast program. She had this ongoing injury from that which she wanted checked out.”I went into [hospital] with her and with her permission spoke on her behalf as she was having a hard time communicating.”Calls to expand services across DarwinMr Halliday said the daily meals were essentially a mechanism to get more involved in vulnerable people’s lives, with some coming for a feed ending up getting help through the Salvation Army’s addiction, transport and housing services.”We had absolutely no idea when we were buzzing up and down the hallway making noodles six months ago that we’d end up offering health care and building relationships with people,” he said.Mr Halliday said the charity had no current plans to expand the service, however he welcomed partnerships with other providers.”There’s absolutely a need for other services like this around Darwin,” he said. (ABC Radio Darwin: Emilia Terzon)
Those eating on the patio include people sleeping rough, vulnerable young families and assault victims.On Monday morning one family eating sausages and toast was Edward Gaykamangu and Agnes Simons, who had found themselves unable to cook meals after their home’s power was disconnected.”We’ve got no money to pay the bill,” Ms Simons said.Mr Halliday said power disconnections was one of the most common issues people experienced, with the charity often handing out supermarket vouchers to breakfast attendees so they could buy themselves emergency gas canisters.From a hot meal to health careOthers who come for a feed are dealing with chronic health issues and wounds.Waiting for them with a supermarket bag full of donated gauze, cotton buds and steriliser is Nicole Anderson, a local nurse who volunteers her mornings with the Salvation Army.”We see chronic ulcers, foot wounds from ill-fitting footwear, boils, skin infections, injuries from assaults and alcohol-fuelled violence — a wide variety of things,” she said. Ms Anderson said she initially had a “no-questions-asked” approach over cups of tea, however she found some people were starting to open up to her about experiencing partner abuse and violence.”This one lady I’ve been seeing had multiple assaults over a period of time. I’ve had to spend a reasonable amount of time cleaning back wounds to get toilet paper off before I can even assess it. “Particularly with assault wounds, people panic and just want to get it hidden up and get on with it.”

Stories from the long grass Despite a resources boom, there are more people sleeping rough in Darwin than ever before. (ABC Radio Darwin: Emilia Terzon)
Ms Anderson started volunteering after she heard stories about breakfast attendees’ health issues and has since found herself driving people to emergency, helping file police reports and referring people on to health clinics.”People are coming for food essentially. Photo:
The breakfast program offers a free breakfast and cup of tea six days a week in Darwin’s northern suburbs. That’s a basic need that’s driving them to be here,” she said.”But we noticed they had health issues that weren’t being addressed as that’s way down your priority list when you’re dealing with homelessness and lack of access to food and shelter and that sort of thing.”This is about stepping in before people get really sick and need to go to the emergency department.”I’ve seen people who have dressed their own wounds with toilet paper and tissues.
Stories of the daily struggle to survive for Darwin's 'longrassers'
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Emilia Terzon

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January 24, 2017 11:02:37

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The breakfast program helps people living it tough with financial advice, housing and healthcare. (ABC Radio Darwin: Emilia Terzon)
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The world number ones you’ve likely never heard of

World number ones Gordon Reid, Jiske Griffioen and Dylan Alcott should all be household names, yet few people seem to even know about the Australian Open Wheelchair Championships.Following Monday’s official draw, they’ll take to the court at Melbourne Park this week for the first grand slam of the year. “We had that ambassador already and now we’ve taken on that spot and hopefully we’ll inspire others.”Dylan Alcott (AUS)Melbourne-born Alcott is ranked the world’s best in the quad division of wheelchair tennis.At just a few weeks old, following an operation on his spine, Alcott became a paraplegic. He is feeling confident ahead of his third Australian Open, which he claims is his favourite tournament of the year. Born with spina bifida, she has always used a wheelchair and began playing at the age of 10. “In the Netherlands, we had a great ambassador for our sport, Esther Vergeer, she was world number one for years. “If I win this week I get $20,000; if Roger [Federer] wins he gets $3.6 million.”But Alcott said that 10 years ago there was no prize money up for grabs so progress had been made. They call it a happy slam and I think that’s really true.”She said initially it was really difficult to climb the rankings and make tennis a financially viable career. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Fiona Pepper)
Thirteen years on and Scottish-born Reid is ranked world number one in men’s singles. Photo:
Dylan Alcott says each player has a unique story as well as the ability to play impressive tennis. I’ve got nice memories from last year and I’m excited to get back onto the matchbox.”While Reid believes wheelchair tennis still has a long way to go in gaining the recognition it deserves, he said he had great support from his government.”There’s still a big gap between us and the able-bodied players, all you need to do is look at the prize money to see that.”But we survive because we have great funding in the UK, especially in Scotland.” Reid also sees opportunities like playing at the Australia Open as a way of encouraging young people who are disabled to take up sport. Photo:
Gordon Reid is ranked world number in men’s singles. “I feel in a good place now. “I want more young people with disabilities to be able to play and get better and have the opportunities that I have.” I was a depressed kid who was embarrassed about the fact that I was in a wheelchair. Gordon Reid (GBR)Reid began playing tennis at the age of six, but as a teenager he contracted transverse myelitis — a disease affecting the spinal cord — and lost the use of his legs.He quickly took up wheelchair tennis. And he has gained far more from wheelchair tennis than money.”Wheelchair tennis saved my life. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Fiona Pepper)
He started competing in 2002, and with the Australian Open competition looming, he said he was feeling good.”I’m from Melbourne, I train in Melbourne, this is like having a grand slam in your own backyard, it’s where I train every day.”Alcott believes wheelchair tennis is a full rounded sport, where each athlete in the competition has a unique story as well as the ability to play impressive tennis.”Not only are we inspirational athletes with good stories, but we’re actually entertaining athletes,” he said.”The fastest [wheelchair tennis] serve in the world is like 170 kilometres per hour — that’s faster than what people serve on their feet.”However, he believes the status of the sport is still lagging. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Fiona Pepper)
The Dutch champion is excited to compete in her 10th Australian Open.”I always love the Aussie Open, it’s always a good crowd. Photo:
Jiske Griffioen says she hopes to inspire others. “If they can see me or any of the other players competing and playing at the level we do, then it might inspire them to do the same,” he said.”Even if they don’t reach the Australian Open, if it changes their life in a positive way, that’s the most important thing.”Jiske Griffioen (NED)Griffioen is ranked number one in the world in women’s wheelchair tennis. “We can make a living out of it, but definitely for the juniors and the upcoming players it’s really hard — and hopefully that will improve.”Since the late ’90s, Griffieon said the Netherlands had been paving the way for wheelchair tennis.
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January 24, 2017 12:06:03

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Dylan Alcott, Jiske Griffioen and Gordon Reid are all world number one wheelchair tennis players.

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BNE Girls book celebrates Brisbane’s creative ladies

Car park gallery puts Indigenous artwork front and centre
(Supplied: Hannah Roche)
“I hope the book makes people take a minute to think about their local community and appreciate their contribution to the city.”Capturing the essence of BrisbaneMany of the women featured in the book are wearing clothes designed and made in Queensland, with each photograph taken in locations around Brisbane.”We wanted to capture the essence of Brisbane, and also wanted each photo to reflect the sitter and the diversity there,” Ms Marano said.”Some of the women had designed their own outfits or their friends had made their jacket and we really wanted to take on the personality of the city and the person.”The duo has also begun looking at unearthing the stories from another creative capital.”We’ve started researching Adelaide,” Ms Marano said.”Neither of us has been to Adelaide but we’re looking into artists, cafe owners and we have 10 people in mind already.”

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Each photo shoot was at locations around Brisbane including the Roma Street Parklands. Brisbane is not always associated with Australia’s best when it comes to fashion, music and art, but a group of women from the river city want to change that.BNE Girls, a new book produced by Dani Marano and Hannah Roche, shines a light on the talented female creatives across the city.In all, 27 women are featured including musician Patience Hodgson of The Grates, designer Rachel Burke and artist Phoebe Paradise.”It’s easy to feel alone as a woman who makes things; this [has] allowed us to show people who these strong and creative women are,” stylist Ms Marano said. Photo:
Each photo was taken and styled in Brisbane with Brisbane women. (Supplied: Hannah Roche) (Supplied: Hannah Roche)
Every part of the publication, from the graphic design to the printing, was conceived and executed in Brisbane.”Through our own work we were meeting so many amazing women in Brisbane doing creative things,” Ms Marano said.”Every person we met had so many projects on the go like photographers, graphic designers and screen printers.”We wanted to document what was going on in Brisbane in the last year … it really is only a snapshot of what is going on.”Celebrating a creative communityMs Marano said their aim was to show Brisbane for what it really is — a highly engaged creative community.”We really wanted it to be about Brisbane, as it’s an under-rated city on a national scale.”Melbourne is right up there, but Brisbane is not as well as acknowledged and it’s not highlighted due to the lack of dense population. Photo:
Brisbane local Patience Hodgson from The Grates and Death Valley Records features in the book.
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January 24, 2017 14:17:17

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Brisbane designers and artists are being celebrated in a new book.

Meet the 2017 Indigenous Law Student of the Year — a former florist with seven children

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“A lot of people who come into a florist shop have problems that they want you to fix, so now instead of fixing them with flowers I’m trying to fix them with the law,” she said.”Law is a people profession, much like floristry, as both deal with clients who are emotionally vulnerable.”As for the main difference?”It’s not as pretty as it doesn’t smell as good,” she said, laughing.Overcoming difficulties during studyMs Byrne was left a single mother with seven children after the sudden death of her husband in 2014 less than 12 months into her law studies. Photo:
Johanna Byrne with two of her children, Jack and Ben. From floristry to lawMs Byrne’s foray into legal circles was unexpected and occurred when her son got into trouble with the law.”My eldest son has an intellectual disability and I couldn’t find a solicitor who would run a section 32 application — a diversionary scheme where people with mental illness or developmental disability can be diverted out of the criminal justice system into treatment,” she said.”When I finally found a solicitor he told me to go away and build the case.”The solicitor saw what I wrote and told me I was wasting my time as a florist.”Despite outward appearances Ms Byrne said law and floristry had more in common than first meets the eye. (Supplied)
Soon after, she relocated to Perth for a fresh start and drove across the country with her seven children.She continued her studies by distance education. Ms Byrne received the honour in part due to her advocacy for an interdisciplinary clinic at Southern Cross University (SCU), which would involve law students working alongside students from other disciplines, such as business or psychology, to provide advice to the Indigenous community.Students working in the clinic would gain practical experience “giving them an edge when they are ready to enter into practice as well as helping some of the most vulnerable in our community,” Ms Byrne said.The clinic is currently being developed by the School of Law and Justice at SCU. A Southern Cross University law student, who worked as a florist for 16 years and overcame personal tragedy during her studies, has been named National Indigenous Law Student of the Year.Coffs Harbour local Johanna Byrne — now based in Perth — is the 2017 recipient of the award by the Attorney-General’s Department.The award recognises the achievements of Indigenous Australians who improve justice outcomes for the Indigenous community. “It was hard to continue but it was what I wanted to do, so I persevered,” she said.She cites teaching staff at SCU and her mentor Peter Quinlan, current Solicitor-General of Western Australia, as providing invaluable support during difficult times.FutureMs Byrne will receive her Bachelor of Laws qualification in March this year.She currently works at Legal Aid Western Australia in the Appeals Department but will start a graduate role in corporate law in February.Ms Byrne hoped long term to work in criminal law, and has been advised corporate law will provide an invaluable training ground for future work.She is particularly passionate about the issue of Indigenous incarceration.”We are building more jails and we don’t seem to be wondering why … I think as a nation we need to address it,” she said.
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January 24, 2017 16:14:42

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Johanna Byrne did most of her studies with Southern Cross University by distance education.

Three puppies found alive in Italy avalanche rubble

Girl pulled from hotel rubble as search avalanche for survivors continues
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Death toll from Italian avalanche rises to six, 23 still missing
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(AP: Marisa Basilavecchia) Posted

January 24, 2017 06:31:38

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A photo taken the day before an avalanche buried the Hotel Rigopiano; the puppies have been found alive.
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Emergency crews digging into an avalanche-slammed hotel have been cheered by the discovery of three puppies who survived for days under tonnes of snow, giving them new hope for the 22 people still missing in the disaster. Emergency crews have been hoping that the missing may have found air pockets under the debris, and that the snow itself had insulated them from the frigid temperatures. The woman’s body was recovered but rescue crews were still trying to recover the body of another victim from the rubble. AP Video: Rescuers pull survivors from avalanche-hit hotel in central Italy (Photo: AP/Italian Firefighters)

(ABC News)
More than two days have passed since anyone has been pulled out alive from the hotel, and conditions at the site are deteriorating, with the metres of heavy snow turning to ice.Firefighter spokesman Luca Cari said emergency crews were working with an “operational hypothesis” that people might still be alive, but he stressed “we are fighting against time”.”We know we need to work fast, but in relation to an environment that doesn’t allow for fast intervention,” he said on Sky TG24.The first survivors were released on Monday from a hospital in the nearby city of Pescara, including Giorgia Galassi and her boyfriend, Vincenzo Forti.”Thank you, thank you everyone!” Ms Galassi said as she waved from the front door of her parents’ home, on the Adriatic coast.Authorities warned of risks facing resort

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An aerial shot shows the four-star Hotel Rigiopano in Farindola. (Reuters: Vigil del Fuoco (Fire Department))
Meanwhile the investigation intensified into whether local government officials underestimated the threat facing the hotel, which was already covered with two metres of snow, had no phone service and had dwindling gas supplies when a series of earthquakes rocked central Italy on the morning of January 18.Italian newspapers reproduced what they said was an email sent by the hotel owner, Bruno Di Tommaso, to local and provincial authorities that afternoon asking for help because “the situation has become worrisome”.”The hotel guests are terrorised by the earthquakes and have decided to stay out in the open,” he said. Key points:Emergency crews say puppies show conditions under snow could support lifeFirst survivors released from hospital in good spiritsQuestions intensify into whether authorities underestimated risks facing snowbound resort
Five days after tonnes of snow, rocks and uprooted trees covered the Hotel Rigopiano in central Italy, rescue crews were still digging by hand or with shovels and chainsaws in hopes of finding alive some of the people still buried.Firefighter spokesman Fabio German said the three puppies showed that conditions under the snow could still support life. So far nine people have been rescued from the Hotel Rigopiano, including four children who were extracted from under tonnes of snow and debris on Friday. (AP: Italian Firefighters)
The body of a seventh victim was found in the buried ruins on Monday. “We’ve tried to do everything to keep them calm, but since they can’t leave due to the blocked roads, they’re prepared to spend the night in their cars.”Already, the Pescara prefect’s office has faced criticism after a local restaurant owner said his calls reporting the avalanche were ignored. Photo:
A firefighter kisses one of the three puppies that was found alive.

Catherine Keenan’s year as Australia’s Local Hero

Clown Doctors celebrate 20 years cheering up kids in hospitals
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Amanda Hoh

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January 23, 2017 13:26:55

Video: Australia's Local Hero Dr Catherine Keenan speaks with ABC News Breakfast

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Catherine Keenan delivers her speech after being named Australia’s Local Hero for 2016. (ABC News)
Dr Keenan co-founded the Sydney Story Factory in 2012 as a creative writing centre based in Redfern to run workshops and school programs to teach kids to write and tell stories.And while the next Local Hero will be announced on Wednesday, Dr Keenan has announced some “exciting news” for the year ahead.The organisation has plans to open a second Story Factory in Parramatta in 2018 after securing Commonwealth funding and community group fundraising.”We really want to work with kids across western Sydney and south-western Sydney by going out to them and having them come to us,” she said.”We’re really excited as we feel it opens up more opportunities for thousands more.”In 2016, more than 25 per cent of students who participated in Sydney Story Factory programs were from western Sydney. This year, staff will take up residency at Canterbury Boys’ High.One of Dr Keenan’s major projects was publishing the short novels of seven students, who were invited to join the organisation’s pilot novella program this year. As she prepares to hand over the baton as Australia’s Local Hero, Dr Catherine Keenan is already looking to the year ahead.The director of the not-for-profit Sydney Story Factory, Dr Keenan remembers last year’s Australia Day Awards vividly, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had the honour of holding her umbrella while she made her acceptance speech.”I will never forget that day,” she laughed when speaking to ABC Radio Sydney. External Link:

Sydney Story Factory Facebook photo
Award helped to reach more budding authorsSince Dr Keenan was named Local Hero, she said Sydney Story Factory “ran more programs, and saw more kids, for longer, than ever before”.It launched a pilot creative residency program last year where once a week, for a full school term, Sydney Story Factory took over a classroom at Briar Road Public School in Campbelltown. External Link:

Sydney Story Factory Novella photo
Children aged between 12 and 16 committed to write a novella of 20,000 to 30,000 words which were published in December.”It is such a testament to what they achieved and how they worked,” Dr Keenan said.”They found it really hard at different points.”They told stories that mattered to them.”In 2017 the program will continue through Bankstown Youth Development Services.Dr Keenan said being the Local Hero for the past year had given her some “wonderful responsibilities”.”We’ve visited schools in northern New South Wales, schools in Tasmania, met loads of kids.”The biggest privilege is you get to meet all these children and also all these people who are working so hard to make their lives better.”[The kids] might generally not enjoy school and have low literacy levels, then all of a sudden they’re really excited to write that story and they’re engaged by that process.”That makes a real difference to their confidence and their sense of themselves.”
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Where to see little penguins in Tasmania

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Carol Rääbus

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January 20, 2017 11:23:40

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Little penguins are ridiculously cute and there are a number of spots you can watch them safely.
Little penguins from the east and west coasts stick to their own
With Tasmania’s proximity to Antarctica, it is no surprise the island state is a popular posting for penguins.But the only species to breed on Tasmania is the world’s smallest penguin, the eudyptula minor.Known as the little or fairy penguin, an estimated 110,000 to 190,000 of them are thought to call Tasmania and its islands home. Best spots to see little penguinsPenguin (of course) in north-west Tasmania (nightly tours September to March).Burnie at the Little Penguin Observation Centre on Parsonage Point (tours September to March).Lillico Beach near Devonport (tours September to May and December to February).Low Head near George Town (nightly tours from the coastal reserve).Bicheno has nightly tours year-round.Bruny Island has penguin colonies along the isthmus (tours from Hobart via boat, or take yourself while staying on the island).Little penguins can be spotted at various other locations, but it is best to stick to designated tours or observation spots so as to not disturb them. Little penguins are sedentary; in fact, they build a burrow and return to the same spot night after night after spending the day in the ocean feeding.This makes little penguins perfect for bird watching, but they are shy and timid birds mostly, so you need to be careful to not upset them.Here are some tips on where you can see them and how to do it safely.Join a tour or stick to official observation pointsPenguin viewing tours run at various spots around Tasmania and these are often the best way to see the birds without running the risk of scaring them away or damaging their burrows.Observation decks have been built near some larger established little penguin colonies, such as on Bruny Island and Lillico Beach near Devonport.Stick to these designated areas and follow the instructions on the information panels, that way you can safely watch the penguins coming home without hurting them or yourself.Watch your step and stay off the beachLittle penguins return after dark from feeding in the ocean.They gather together on the water’s edge before making a dash up the beach to their burrows.If you are on the beach as they are trying to return, they may get scared away, so try not to get between the water’s edge and the burrows.Also, watch where you put your feet, or stick to built paths, to make sure you do not trample a burrow or penguin.Keep quiet and use a red light
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Little penguins at Low Head in northern Tasmania
Little penguins are shy and they can be startled by bright lights and too much movement and noise from excited humans.Keep still and quiet when waiting for the penguins to return from a day’s feeding and only use dim, red lights to watch the penguins.Keep dogs far awayDogs and penguins are not friends.Never take your dog for a walk near known penguin burrows and certainly do not take your pooch with you to watch penguins coming home. External Link:

Penguins are quite shy
Penguins are protected wildlife and it is illegal to try to catch them, harass them or hurt them and their burrows.You can find out more about little penguins and how to safely watch them on the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife website.
Pint-sized penguin visits pub on Hobart waterfront
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Jarryd Roughead named Hawthorn captain following cancer recovery

Updated

January 20, 2017 10:45:14
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Jarryd Roughead will captain the Hawks in 2017. (AAP: Joe Castro)
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(Instagram: sarahrough1) He was drafted by Hawthorn in 2004 and has gone on to play 231 games for the club, winning four flags and a Coleman Medal.The Hawks AFL favourite began immunotherapy treatment for cancer in June, 2016 after being diagnosed with a recurrence of a melanoma in May. Jarryd Roughead will captain the Hawthorn Hawks in 2017, the club announced Friday.The 29-year-old, who declared himself cancer-free in December after having surgery for a tumour on his lip in 2015, said he was ready for the added responsibility.”I’m honoured to be captaining the Hawks this year,” Roughead told the AFL’s official website.”It’s an enormous responsibility but I’m ready for the challenge and can’t wait to lead this group of players.”I’ve been lucky enough to play under one of our game’s best captain’s in Hodgey and I’ll certainly take a lot of what he has taught me into the role.”To be backed by the players and the club, it’s a really special feeling.”Roughead has scored 491 majors for the Hawks, making him the sixth-highest goalscorer in the club’s history. It was expected to keep him out of action for 12 months.Outgoing captain Luke Hodge, who had held the role since 2010, said he was more than happy to stand aside for another club legend.”I think Rough is the right man to lead the club in 2017.”It has been an honour and a privilege to captain the Hawthorn Football Club but I think it’s the perfect time for Rough to take the reins.”I’ve had the opportunity to see him grow and develop as a leader and there is no better person to lead our club in 2017.”I’ve always thought I’d like to be around to help out and support my successor so I’m rapt that Rough’s appointment means I’ll have the opportunity to do that.”The Hawks won three premierships under Hodge’s captaincy. Photo:
Jarryd Roughead underwent treatment for cancer. The 32-year-old was in charge for 125 games.
Ready to play: Roughead given the cancer all-clear by doctors

Path to career success doesn’t always start at uni

One in three uni students not finishing their degree, data reveals
ABC Adelaide

By

Brett Williamson

Posted

January 18, 2017 10:51:54
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Caring for others became a full-time career for Tiffany Bowman. (Supplied)
Deb Edwards was photographing bands and volunteering at a local radio station when she heard of a job going at EMI Records.She began working as a receptionist there at the age of 18.”I got into it because I was mad about music and wanted to leave school.”For the past 32 years she has worked in the music industry, promoting acts like Troy Cassar-Daley, Rob Thomas and the Baby Animals.”I dropped out of high school about half way through year 10,” she said.”I was an A-grade student but [school] just didn’t hold anything for me.”The IT expertFinances meant Richard Pascoe could not entertain the idea of going to university.”When I left high school my mother couldn’t afford to support me because she was a single mother,” he said.”So it was about me going out and finding a career.”

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IT commentator Richard Pascoe found his passion after 13 years in retail. It might not feel like it at the time, but life goes on when you don’t get into your choice of university course — sometimes for the better.Meet four people who never went on to higher education but have found success in their chosen fields.The personal trainerRob Coad dropped out of school in year 11. (ABC Adelaide: Brett Williamson)
Mr Pascoe said high school graduates often put too much pressure on themselves straight after school.”The first thing you do when you leave school will probably not be the thing that you end up doing or you enjoy in life.”Mr Pascoe spent 13 years working in retail before he found his passion in information technology.”I like talking to people, so I’m a bit different to the traditional IT person out there,” he said.The aged care workerAfter motherhood and a marriage separation, Tiffany Bowman found herself at a crossroad. Photo:
Rob Coad left school early, found study much later in life and still landed on his feet. (ABC Adelaide: Brett Williamson)
“I didn’t know what to do so I just started volunteering at a centre for aged care,” she said.For the past 10 years she has been working in the industry and loves every minute of being at work.”If you are in the right place at the right time with the right mindframe — you’ll seek it out eventually.” (ABC Adelaide: Brett Williamson)
“I hated school [so I] got a job at a service station,” Mr Coad told ABC Adelaide’s Mornings program.He found his calling in the Army soon after, but his dream career was cut short.”I was medically discharged from the military after sustaining a neck and back injury.”After leaving the Army Mr Coad turned to alcohol, food and was mostly sedentary.He got a wake-up call and educated himself about diet and exercise after adding 30 kilograms to his frame.”I lost 30 kilos in four months,” he said.”That inspired me to help other people and I got my qualifications in fitness and kicked off my own business.”Mr Coad has been running his own personal training and fitness business for the past 11 years.The music promoter

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Deb Edwards (left) with Troy Cassar-Daley and Roxanne Brown.

Second time lucky for rescued dogs Bella, Bindi, Zuri and Angus

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She only has two speeds — flat out or fast asleep.””She is really gawky and falls over a lot and does some really crazy things. She looked up and appealed at me, I guess she picked me,” he said.”She took to me straight away. “I said, ‘if anything happens to you, I’ll commit to looking after the dog’,” Mr Coates said.Almost a year later, Yvonne sadly passed away and Mr Coates made good on his promise.”Every day I get up and I see him and it reminds me of Yvonne.”Now Angus is four years old and loving life at Motley Manor, happily snoring through his nights on the couples’ bed with an assortment of cats — and carting off Mr Coates’ boots.”He has been a great dog, he loves it out here,” Mr Coates said. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill)
In light of her dubious origins, Mr Davids fondly calls her his ‘purebred mongrel’.Just as he protects Bindi whenever she quakes in fear of thunder, lightning or high winds, she insulates her elderly owner against loneliness.”At night time it can get pretty lonely and long, and she will curl up alongside of me,” he said. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill)
Brad Coates, Angus and BellaMount Gambier couple Brad Coates and Gayle Ferguson firmly believed in second time lucky for their merry assortment of rescue animals. But a determined Ms Moore brought her young daughter Sienna to visit the shelter nearly every day for two weeks to see how the dog reacted to her, and then decided to bring her home.Ms Moore christened her Zuri, the Swahili word for beautiful.”Shazza was the first thing to go,” she laughed. Instead of being just a pet, she is part of the family.”

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“They are part of the family,” says Brad Coates of Angus and Bella. In the car on the way home she put her head in my lap and she never left me.”Now five years old, Bindi is Mr Davids’ constant companion, acting as guardian, lady of the house and a persistent exercise reminder.”She follows me from room to room until she gets a walk,” he laughs, on one of his daily jaunts to Mount Gambier’s dog park. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill)
The first few months with Zuri “were hell”, Ms Moore said, with the unsettled dog tearing up the backyard and dwarfing her petite owner in both size and strength.Reportedly mistreated at her former home, the dog would flinch at sudden movements, mistrustful of people.It took months of patience and affection before she settled down and began to get used to her new surroundings, Ms Moore said.”She is a big sook now. It was only a month after Rita died,” he said.But the skinny mongrel puppy, peering plaintively out from her cage, won him over. Photo:
The bull Arab Zuri dwarfs her petite owner. “Sometimes she will even get up on the bed.””I would recommend a dog to anyone,” he said, while gently stroking Bindi’s head.”It’s a bit of an effort, I know, but you have to make an effort in life. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill )
“She looked pretty pathetic. At the place they have dubbed “Motley Manor” they have re-homed six sheep, four cats, one horse and two dogs.A promise to a cancer-stricken friend saw cavalier King Charles spaniel cross Angus come to live with the couple around three years ago.After Mr Coate’s work colleague Yvonne was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, the organisation’s social club chipped in to buy her a puppy for company while she went through treatment. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill)
Mr Coates said the lovable mutt has helped him get over the loss of his beloved old dog Bandit, which died last year and has his own special ‘man cave’ in the backyard.Bella is the third rescued dog the couple have re-homed and Mr Coates urged anyone looking for a dog to visit their local dog shelter or pound before a breeder or pet shop.”We believe in re-homing dogs who have been abused or lost because there is hundreds of them,” he said simply.”I reckon the love you give them, you get back in spades.” I’ve got more mobility in my knees now.”

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“I saved her and she saved me,” says Mr Davids of Bindi. “Even though he’s a designer dog, he likes nothing better than going and eating cow s**t.”Enter BellaAn avid supporter of animal rescue organisations, Mr Coates’ partner Gayle Ferguson was unable to resist when a photograph of a skinny staghound cross was posted last year on the South East Animal Welfare League’s Facebook page.”I saw her photo and within 24 hours she was coming home,” Mr Coates said.The dog they have dubbed “the hundred mile-an-hour couch potato” has brought plenty of laughs into their lives. “I call her the Enforcer.” “My doctor reckons it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. “Bella is funny. Kevin Davids and Bindi”I saved her from death row and I think she saved me,” said 83-year-old Kevin Davids of his beloved dog Bindi.The little dog had been picked up on the streets of Adelaide and handed into Lonsdale’s RSPCA shelter in Adelaide when the newly-widowed Mr Davids came for a look with his family nearly four years ago.”I said I don’t know whether I want to get a dog or not. She snores louder than Angus.”

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The resting place of Mr Coates’s beloved 16-year-old dog Bandit. “Now Sienna and her jump on the trampoline together.””Now we go everywhere together. “All she wanted was a pat.”Finding that the dog was overdue to be put down, something about the dog’s sweet and quiet way clicked with Ms Moore.”Everyone at the league was hoping she would find a home.”Found with a pig hunting vest on, the dog had been wandering the streets of Mount Gambier when she was picked up, and shelter volunteers warned she was not considered suitable for families with young children. “She was all skin and bone.”Ms Moore had gone to the shelter to see another dog, but then caught sight of the dog that volunteers had nicknamed Shazza and went over to meet her.”She just sat by the gate and leaned over for a scratch,” Ms Moore said. They are better than medicine.”

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Rescued dog Zuri with owner Ebony Moore and her daughter Sienna. Photo:
Rescued dog Bindi plays companion and guardian. She sleeps on the bed, under the covers if she can.” Although Ms Moore said it was common for other dog owners to shrink away from the pair, scared of Zuri’s size and strength, they quickly come around when they see how the big dog frolics with young Sienna, patiently putting up with her cuddles.”Zuri is so good with her,” Ms Moore said. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill)
Ebony Moore, daughter Sienna and Zuri”You could count every rib on her,” said Ebony Moore of the day she saw the big bull Arab running up and down the fence line in a pen at Mount Gambier’s South East Animal Welfare League. Lost, mistreated or considered too loud, too excitable, or not suitable around children — thousands of dogs end up at shelters and pounds each year, awaiting new homes.Bella, Bindi, Zuri and Angus are dogs that got lucky the second time around.
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Wheatbelt dogs get a second chance in new rescue facility

Over 80 dogs seized from puppy farm, two dead
ABC South East SA

By

Kate Hill

Posted

January 17, 2017 18:22:08

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“She’s a good girl,” says Kevin Davids of his beloved Bindi. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill)

Young ‘celebrity’ willing to swap scooter for sports car

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Samuel put the scooter up for trade a week ago. (Gumtree: Kids Stunt Scooter)

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(Facebook)
He has already had one written offer.”My friend Jim the builder, who is doing renovations on our house at the moment, has given me an offer,” Samuel said.”He offered me a cordless power saw, a grinder, snake light, leather tool belt, tape measure, Stanley knife and earplugs … I am tempted with it.”He has kids and I guess he would give it [the scooter] to them so they can ride around with it.”Samuel has told his family he would also accept a Lamborghini if offered.He hopes to have swapped the scooter by Friday. An eight-year-old Brisbane boy with an entrepreneurial streak hopes an online ad will help him swap his much-loved vintage scooter for something else.Samuel put the ad up on Gumtree a week ago after convincing his dad it had more value than a trip to the tip.”We were having a yard clean-up after Santa upgraded Samuel’s scooter,” his father Clay said.”I wanted to retire it but Samuel convinced me to look through Gumtree to sell when he realised the value in it.”He did some research on a trade swap and he got me to put an ad in.”The ad, which Samuel wrote himself, describes the scooter as “tried and tested”.”If you’re after a one-of-a-kind Stunt Scooter that has been tried and tested through all weather conditions, has performed numerous and sometimes very dangerous stunts by a celebrity at our local skate bowl — this is the scooter for you.”Samuel admitted he was the celebrity at the local skate bowl park listed in the ad.”I’ve had the scooter for about a year,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Rebecca Levingston.”I would like people to offer me what they want to trade for it.”I’m not sure what exactly I want but I hope people will offer me what they think it’s worth.”

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The vintage-style scooter has seen many days at the skate bowl.
ABC Radio Brisbane

By

Jessica Hinchliffe

Posted

January 17, 2017 11:59:58