Pugs tear up pavement in race to spread Christmas cheer

(ABC News: Jordan Hayne)
Event organiser Anna Turello said the pug race and Sunday’s dachshund race drew larger than expected crowds.”We definitely weren’t anticipating that many people,” she said.”The dachshund race had close to 1,000.”

Sanchez the pug in his Christmas outfit ahead of the race. (ABC News: Jordan Hayne) (ABC News: Jordan Hayne)
Georgia Gilmayer, proud owner of winner Asha, said her dog had attempted training in her backyard in the lead up to the race.”Usually she’s a pretty quick runner, but she likes people a little too much and gets distracted when there are crowds around, so we’re surprised she actually did get to the finish line,” she said. Photo:
Owners were encouraged to dress their pugs in costumes for a chance to take out the best-dressed prize. he did make a friend though.”

Kingston put his best paw forward, standing out from his competition when he showed up to the race in a Santa suit. Photo:
Organisers are excited to host the event again next year, saying they were not prepared for such a large turnout. Photo:
Emma Downey (centre) said Boris the pug proved easily distracted. Photo:
Hundreds gathered to watch the Christmas in the City pug races. (ABC News: Jordan Hayne)
Owner Taylor Hill said she was surprised to learn her pup Kingston could race at all.”I didn’t even know he could really run, they’re pretty lazy,” she said.”It’s all natural talent.”Ms Hill said she was also hopeful Kingston would take out the best-dressed award with his brand-new Santa suit. Dozens of dogs have put paws to pavement in Canberra as part of a race to spread Christmas cheer in the city and crown the capital’s quickest pug.Hundreds of humans also packed out City Walk in Civic to watch the dash, which saw pooches compete in a bracket system for a spot in the final race on Monday night.While owners were allowed to encourage the dogs from behind the finish line, it was up to the pugs to navigate the track for themselves. (ABC News: Jordan Hayne)
Distraction proved a common foil for the dogs, with pug Boris falling out of the race from an impressive second place.”This is his first race,” owner Emma Downey said.”He got towards the end and got really confused and ran back … (666 ABC Canberra: Sophie Kesteven)
Ms Turello said the races were a fun way of bringing the community together in the festive season and encouraging the love of animals.She said the team were excited to host the event again, possibly next year with screens to broadcast the race to the large gathering of onlookers.
666 ABC Canberra

By Jordan Hayne and Sophie Kesteven


December 20, 2016 10:00:37

Video: Final heat of the Christmas in the City pug race

(ABC News)

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Canberra 2600
Dachshunds vie for title of 'speediest wiener'

Deaf community hails rollout of first ever Auslan curriculum

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Stephanie Dalzell


December 19, 2016 14:47:06
(ABC News: Stephanie Dalzell) Photo:
Louise de Beuzeville says the new curriculum will overhaul the teaching of Auslan.
Cafe run by deaf staff helps break down barriers
I remember writing 100 times: ‘I must not sign’,” Ms Colefax wrote.”It makes me so happy to see that young people today are encouraged to learn Auslan, and to be proud of it.”Curriculum will overhaul teaching of Auslan in schoolsLouise de Beuzeville, a teacher and Auslan Coordinator at the RIDBC Thomas Pattison School, said the introduction of the curriculum would overhaul the teaching of Auslan in schools.”Currently in this school, what we’ve had to do is prepare everything from scratch… we’ve slotted it in under the English curriculum,” she said.”What this curriculum does is gives us a scope and sequence for Auslan… it’s important for any language to have a curriculum for that language, but it’s particularly important in a language that is so different.”Parent Cath Loveday said the changes would help her child feel less isolated.Her 9-year-old son Dwayne attends a mainstream school in Townsville, and is currently only able to fully communicate with his interpreter.”It’s going to make a huge equal access to language for everybody involved. The first national curriculum for Auslan, the language of the deaf community in Australia, will soon be rolled out in schools across Australia, in a move being described as a “huge step for equality”. We see the benefits far outweighing any other language that is currently being taught in schools,” she said.”If there are young people coming through who are learning Auslan now and go through high school and become employed in the community, he’ll start seeing those people, they’ll start recognising him and it will start to grow that language and community support for him.”That’s what it’s about, not being isolated, and about him really being immersed in his community.” Key points:National Auslan curriculum to be rolled out in Australian schoolsFollows years of lobbying by parents for a formal curriculumMove hailed as a ‘huge step for equality’
Since it was officially recognised as a language by the Federal Government in 1987, the use of Auslan for deaf children in Australian schools has been largely inconsistent, with teachers forced to rely on a general framework for languages such as Japanese and French.For years parents have been lobbying for a formal curriculum to be implemented in schools and following ministerial endorsement, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) officially published the first curriculum in Auslan on Monday.”That’s a fantastic achievement for us, it’s an opportunity for the signing community to have a curriculum in schools, an opportunity for young deaf students to learn about that,” ACARA chief executive Rob Randall said.Dr Breda Carty, from the Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) Renwick Centre, was involved in writing the curriculum.She described the introduction of the new guidelines as a “wonderful development”.”Certainly for the Australian deaf community, it’s significant, it’s a huge step for equality, it’s a wonderful feeling that our language is now included in the school curriculum,” she said.The curriculum will also give hearing students the opportunity to learn Auslan, allowing them to communicate with their deaf peers.Rima Akanj, 16, who attends the RIDBC Thomas Pattison School in Sydney, said it would significantly improve the social skills of deaf students.”In hearing world there are few deaf people scattered around and a lot of hearing people having conversations, and deaf people have no idea what’s going on because it’s a spoken language and deaf people don’t have the access,” she said.”They feel a bit of a deficit with that, so they feel less confident, maybe a bit depressed, so when there’s Auslan being used everywhere deaf people are more confident, they’re more involved, they feel they have equal access.”Deaf students previously punished for using sign languageDr Carty said the introduction of a curriculum was especially momentous given deaf people were cruelly tormented for using sign language in years past.”For so many years, for a very long time, deaf people and their sign language was marginalised — sometimes forbidden — at school, and so for older deaf people you hear many stories about how their hands were tied behind their back, they had to sit on their hands, and they were punished for using sign language at school,” she said.Dr Carty pointed to a quote published in the curriculum’s overview from the late Nola Colefax OAM, a deaf elder who referenced her struggles at school.”When I was a school student, we were punished for using our sign language.
Swim lessons for deaf children in demand in Melbourne
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Boy wins award after learning sign language to help school friend

Quadriplegic eyes bid for next year’s Hawaii Ironman event

(flickr: Chris McCormack) 891 ABC Adelaide


December 19, 2016 12:51:43

The Ironman swim would see Sid James towed by his able-bodied mate for almost 4km.
I’ll have a harness around me and tow Sid in either a small rubber duckie or a kayak,” he said.”With the bike leg, we attach the [wheel]chair to the axle of my bike and I tow him around for 180km, then we detach that chair and I push him for a 42km run.”James said he would need to lose some weight if his friend was to tow him around the course.”I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about Hawaii. (australianoftheyear.com.au)
Fergusson said he had already qualified for next year’s Ironman event.”But to take Sid around, we have to make a special application,” he told 891 ABC Adelaide, saying they would know by early next year if their bid had been accepted by the organisers.Gruelling race in the heatFergusson said the event would be raced in very hot conditions and he planned to tow his friend around the gruelling course.”It’s a 3.8km swim. More than two decades after a bike accident left him as a quadriplegic, South Australian man Sid James hopes to compete in next year’s Hawaii Ironman event.James, now 58, had been preparing to take part in his first Ironman event when the accident happened in 1993.Now he is making ambitious plans with his able-bodied mate Kevin Fergusson to compete in Hawaii next October. I was told by Kevin that was one of the stipulations, I have to lose weight,” he laughed.”It’d be nice if I could get down to 65kg, but there’s a fair bit of me.”The Victor Harbor man said he had achieved many things in recent years which friends might have doubted he was capable of.”Everything other people have told me I couldn’t do I’ve done, so I said I’m going to do it if it’s possible,” he said.”I’m excited but apprehensive because of the hot lava fields and the humidity — something we don’t get here in Victor Harbor.” Photo:
Sid James says he has goosebumps at the idea of competing.
Adelaide 5000

Santa preparing for Christmas at Finland home

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(Reuters: Pawel Kopczynski)
A board in the post office says Mr Claus can get some 32,000 letters a day at Christmas time.Last year, around 500,000 letters arrived. Photo:
Visitors — and Santa — ride on sleighs among the snow-covered trees in Rovaniemi. Santa Claus’s helpers have been sorting out piles of letters from around the world, each detailing children’s requests for this Christmas, at his home in Lapland, Finland.In English, Italian or other languages, youngsters’ handwriting adorns the envelopes addressed to Father Christmas, some decorated with colourful hearts and stars. Photo:
Thousands of people visit the city each year ahead of Christmas. (Reuters: Pawel Kopczynski)
With just a few hours of light at this time of year, they make the most of sleigh rides among the snow-covered trees during the day.Lapland tourism is a rare bright spot in the Finnish economy, which is struggling to recover from a long stagnation.Travel to Lapland increased 10 per cent from January to October to more than 2 million overnight stays — and the number is expected to hit a new record in the full year.Reuters (Reuters: Pawel Kopczynski)
China, Poland, Italy, Britain, Finland, Japan and Russia top the list of senders.In his Christmas message, Mr Claus said:”Another year is coming to its end and it has been a turbulent year with many big problems but also many very good things.””Now as Christmas is coming close, reach out for those who need a helping hand, do it with compassion — that’s the real Christmas spirit.”Thousands of people visit Rovaniemi each year ahead of Christmas, to meet the man himself, his reindeer and enjoy the magical scenery. Photo:
Last year, Santa Claus received 500,000 letters. (Reuters: Pawel Kopczynski)
As the holiday nears, every day is busy for Santa’s team in the city of Rovaniemi, which calls itself his official hometown, near the Arctic Circle.”Santa Claus is getting more and more popular, he receives about half a million letters every year from all around the world,” Elina, who works as a postal elf, said.”We are busy here in Santa Claus’s main post office at the Arctic Circle to help him open all the letters and get all the wishes ready for Christmas.”

Elina, who works as a postal elf, said they were busy helping Santa Claus open letters.
100 Christmas trees fill house of festive couple in Germany

December 17, 2016 08:16:19

Santa receives thousands of letters every day at Christmas time. (Reuters: Kacper Pempel)

Hyphen from iconic Kings Cross billboard reborn in Christmas display

Lithgow 2790
“When they tore down the sign, the poor little hyphen, which is literally the smallest part of the sign, was left and they didn’t know what to do with it,” David Rawsthorne said of his newest addition to his family’s Christmas lights display at Lithgow, NSW. 2016 (Supplied: David Rawsthorne)
Worth the costMr Rawsthorne said electricity costs to run the light show are surprisingly low, at just an extra $28 for the month.”If we turn all our lights on white we draw in the order of 3,000 watts, but because our lights are actually animated they change colour, they’re not all on at once and they draw about 400 to 500 watts,” Mr Rawsthorne explained.”When we did a calculation it costs less than a 50-inch plasma TV to run for the four hours each night.”While he does all his own labour and even makes special covers for the lights on his own 3D printer, Mr Rawsthorne said the lights have cost an estimated $15,000-$20,000 over the decade.However he said it was all worth it to bring joy to others and raise money for charity.”Everyone loves Christmas lights and we just wanted it to be a bit magical,” he said. Photo:
The Christmas display of the Rawsthorne family, at Lithgow, west of the NSW Blue Mountains, has more than 33,000 lights. It’s our 42-year old piece of history,” Mr Rawsthorne said.He explained that the punctuation mark even had its own name because of a mistake when the drink company offered it via social media.”Someone accidentally misspelt hyphen and put hyphey instead of hyphen and ever since then it’s been known as ‘Hyphey’,” he said. (Supplied: David Rawsthorne)
University student, Jacob Rawsthorne, sent in pictures of his family’s annual animated Christmas lights display and explained how it is used to raise money for children’s cancer charity, Redkite.He was surprised to hear he had won and then broke the news to his father, David.”My first thought was ‘What hyphen?’ A lot of people don’t realise there’s actually a hyphen between Coca and Cola,” Mr Rawsthorne said.The electrician by day, lights-lover by night admitted to being “a bit stumped at first” with what to do with the metre wide, squashed rectangle shape. A piece of punctuation from perhaps one of Australia’s most famous billboards has found a new role as part of a country family’s Christmas lights display.The hyphen from the old lettering of the iconic 1970s Coca-Cola sign in Sydney’s Kings Cross has found its way to a family at Lithgow, in central west New South Wales.They have found a special place for it among their more than 33,000 light display which helps raise money for children with cancer.Hyphen finds a homeWhen the soft drink manufacturer decided to re-fresh its famous sign in William Street earlier this year, it removed the old wording and auctioned of the letters, raising around $100,000 for Sydney’s Wayside Chapel.But the small punctuation mark in the middle of the brand name was not considered worth selling, so it was offered via social media to a person or group displaying community spirit. Photo:
One of tehe more than 33,000 Christmas lights that form the display put on every year by the Rawsthornes of Lithgow, NSW. (Supplied: David Rawsthorne)
Introducing ‘Hyphey’Tapping into some country ingenuity, Mr Rawsthorne soon came up with a solution.He has made the hyphen into an LED screen that displays words and pictures including “Hi” and the radio frequency people can tune into to listen to the music that accompanies the lights display.”It gets backlit and we’ve done a song as part of the display introducing people to Hyphey. External Link:

David Rawsthorne: Lighting up Lithgow for Christmas in 2013
33,000 lights and countingThe Rawsthornes are running their 10th annual Lithgow Lights display and the statistics are mind boggling.The family of four works throughout the year preparing the lights — this year there are 33,170 in total — and programming the sequencing of the colours and flashing as well as setting the display to music.It takes 10-15 days to put up the display and then the family spends a month playing host to visitors some of whom come from as far away as Sydney and Canberra.”Every night all four of us the whole family we’re out there greeting cars, handing out lollipops, introducing the lights, introducing the FM transmitter we’ve got and raising money for charity,” Mr Rawsthorne said.Afterwards, it only takes about eight hours to take them down.”By the end of December we’re a bit over Christmas lights,” Mr Rawsthorne laughed.
ABC Central West


Melanie Pearce


December 16, 2016 13:53:46

The hyphen from the Kings Cross billboard is re-purposed for a country family’s Christmas lights display. (Coca-Cola sign-ABC: John Donegan, Christmas lights LED screen-Supplied: David Rawsthorne)

Women half of NSW firefighting graduates for first time

Low-income students bring solar power to the people
Meet the young Australian leaders making a difference

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The 12 women from class six graduated at the State Training College in Alexandria. They have also learnt how to deal with the consequences of terrorist attacks, how to educate the community about fire safety and finally, how to work as a team.The age of the graduates this week ranged from early 20s to 40s, and included people who are ex-Army, fitness trainers and sailors. (Supplied: FRNSW)
It was also the first class ever to have an equal number of men and women.”Having that diversity — I thought we worked really well as a team,” Ms Holden, aged 27, said.”Although we might not be as strong as the men physically naturally, although some of us I’m sure definitely are, but I think everybody brings different skills and attributes.”It’s up to us in Fire and Rescue to utilise each other’s strengths.”31 years of women on the frontlineFRNSW received 1,702 applications from women wanting to be firefighters this year.Commissioner Greg Mullins said he had been trying to recruit more women into the team for the past 31 years, which was when the first women started on the frontline.Until this week, women made up about 30 per cent of the graduating classes.To have reached the 50 per cent gender target just a month away from his retirement was truly memorable, Commissioner Mullins said. Photo:
Genevieve Holden says she’s looking forward to joining the FRNSW family. (Supplied: FRNSW)
All the recruits have received advanced training in firefighting, road crash rescue, first aid, fire science and community risk management. Photo:
Fire and Rescue NSW welcomed 120 new firefighters this year. (Supplied: FRNSW)
“Firefighting hasn’t been a traditional role for women of the last 100 years, but many women don’t know that it’s a career they can choose,” he said.”I’m proud of my leadership team, and the union who we’ve worked with and who agreed — yes, let’s diversify.”And I’m proud of the agency who I think is one of the best fire brigades in the world.”Weeks of ‘gruelling’ trainingFRNSW received thousands of applications and conducted online psychometric tests and face-to-face interviews before choosing the final recruits, which filled 120 places this year.The sixth and final class for 2016 was put through 13 weeks of gruelling physical and mental training that involved a much wider range of skills than what Commissioner Mullins said he learned when he first attended training college 39 years ago. “I couldn’t be more proud than to wear the uniform because we do so much for the community.”Ms Holden will join the B Platoon brigade at the City of Sydney fire station. Photo:
The recruits demonstrate their new skills during their graduation ceremony. Genevieve Holden was just three years old when she was given her first firefighter’s hat.This week, she received the real deal when she graduated from firefighting school and finished at the top of her class.Ms Holden was one of 24 new Fire and Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) firefighters that graduated on Thursday. Ms Holden is a singer, songwriter and is also currently studying primary school education.’Best job in the world’Ms Holden first signed up to FRNSW in 2010 but missed out on the final selection, which she said was likely due to her young age and “lack of life experience”.But after a tough six years and the death of her father, she decided to try again. (Supplied: Genevieve Holden)
“That burning desire to be a firie was always there,” she said.”Every time I saw a truck or a firie I thought, ‘I want that job’.”I’m very much a people person and I love helping people.
702 ABC Sydney


Amanda Hoh


December 16, 2016 12:05:26

Video: Meet the new firefighters

(ABC News)
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Gary the goat’s journey to social media superstardom

I realised he actually wanted to be with me. I said: ‘What, mate? Gary lives! (ABC News)
“I got a fine for unlawful destruction of vegetation. But it was a long and winding track that brought him and his owner together.Jimbo Baboozi was a comedian telling crude jokes in country towns when he met the animal who would become a superstar.Not politically correct enough for the city, Baboozi developed an off-the-map reputation in the comedy world for asking local publicans if he could do a show that night. (ABC RN: Timothy Nicastri)
Baboozi is now a dad, with two young kids, and he travelled to Cessnock with his three-year-old daughter, Maya.”I don’t think I would have become a parent without Gary,” Baboozi said.If the worst did happen, Baboozi claimed he was willing to jump in to give Gary mouth to mouth.”Gary’s not going to die. With millions of fans around the world, Gary is Australia’s most famous goat. (Supplied: Jimbo Bazoobi)
“I was sleeping with him in the car,” Baboozi said.”I’d just give him a pat, a cuddle. People just wanted this goat,” he said.Suddenly Baboozi found an audience for his style of comedy far beyond a pub in a small country town.”I do really full-on jokes. Baboozi’s jokes struck a chord in the country, and he began selling t-shirts with an unapologetically offensive slogan about goats printed on the front.When he drove into the Western Australian town of Gingin, he was just looking for another pop-up pub gig, but his merchandise caught the attention of a local goat farmer.”Someone asked if I wanted a goat for a case of beer,” Baboozi told The Real Thing.”He said: ‘Mate, you’re selling goat t-shirts, why don’t you step it up and actually get a goat?'”Housing a goat in a small car wasn’t ideal, and Baboozi planned to throw this goat over a random farmer’s fence as soon as the joke wore off.But to his surprise, Gary settled in. Listen to the full episode Jimbo Baboozi and Gary meet The Real Thing. So I went down to Circular Quay,” Baboozi said.”This young cop came up and said I’d done a bunch of things wrong. It’s insane. But he just softens me,” he said. A goat eats grass!”The subsequent court case was thrown out, but not before it made headlines around the world.After that, Baboozi began posting videos of his and Gary’s ongoing adventures “on tour”. They went viral.”He was so tight with me; they could see the relationship we had. External Link:

Gary the goat heads to a country school
According to Baboozi, he and Gary have done at least 20 “laps” of Australia together, conservatively putting their mileage at 340,000 kilometres.”Gary represents freedom in a world where you can’t do whatever you want,” he said.”Thirty years ago, we used to be the happy-go-lucky bludgers. He wasn’t a hostage anymore.”The two of them were on their way to becoming best mates.”As much as the life I love on the road, you need company. About three days later I let him off the lead and said: ‘Go wherever you want, mate.’ But he followed me. He’s immortal,” he said.That line was the cliffhanger when The Real Thing performed live in Sydney last month. Photo:
Jimbo Bazoobi and Gary the goat on the road. Now we’re the hardest working, most under-the-thumb nation in the world.”Gary, a sick goatWhen The Real Thing caught up with Gary in a backyard in Cessnock, NSW, he was being prepared for a big date with a vet.His hoof had a severe swelling and abscess, his limp was plain to see, and it seemed likely Gary would require a partial amputation to remove a bone infection.”The risks are, just from the sedative, that he doesn’t wake up,” Baboozi said, distraught.”For some reason you need more drugs [for a goat] to get the effect, but they’re also more susceptible to the side effects.”I’m nervous like anyone would be if a parent or a friend was going under.”

Gary the goat and his owner, Jimbo after his veterinary treatment. The audience held their breath.Then, with a bleat from the back of the darkened room, a slightly hobbled goat and his comedian owner stepped from the shadows and walked in through a bewildered crowd, who broke out laughing and came out of their seats to take selfies with the hircine superstar. I was just surprised how much I loved looking after him,” Baboozi said.Every goat has its dayOver the next year, Gary became part of Baboozi’s comedy show, though a lazy one.Then, on a walk through Sydney, Gary suddenly found the international spotlight.”Like a stock-herder, I had to take him to grass. I did it for years and it never caught on. Name one.’

Gary the goat leaves court after a successful verdict.

By Timothy Nicastri for The Real Thing


December 16, 2016 11:12:38

Gary the goat in a boat. (ABC News: Natalie Jones)
Sydney 2000

NT Police give sober drivers discount fuel vouchers over Christmas

(Supplied: NT Police)

NT Photo:
NT Police increase the amount of random breath tests over the festive season.
105.7 ABC Darwin


December 15, 2016 13:10:36
We’re just trying to give something back to the drivers,” Acting Senior Sergeant Dunlop said.”We just want to make sure everybody has a safe Christmas, drives safely, and does the right thing.”
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Facebook link drink driving campaign
The Territory’s road toll is currently at 42, compared to 43 at the same time last year.A Christmas campaign released this month by the NT Government dubbed alcohol as a “weapon” behind the wheel, saying “enough is enough” when it comes to drink-driving.NT Police are expected to conduct almost 5,000 random breath tests over the 10-day Christmas period, with the vast majority of those in the Darwin region. Darwin drivers who blow under the limit this silly season will be rewarded by police officers with discount fuel vouchers.It is part of an NT Police initiative to reduce drink-driving over the festive season.”Obviously we’re coming to the Christmas season and we ramp up the random breath test stations to make sure everybody is doing the right thing,” Acting Senior Sergeant Craig Dunlop said.”We’re trying to reward good drivers and people who are doing the right thing.”The NT’s road toll is four times the national average, with drink-driving a common factor in deaths and car accidents.Local police already hand out rewards like stubby coolers and car fresheners to responsible drivers as part of the long-running Sober Bob campaign.NT Police in the country town of Katherine have also previously handed out raffle tickets to sober drivers as part of another initiative to encourage responsible driving.This month’s fuel vouchers for Darwin drivers come in the form of reusable key tags valid until New Year’s Eve, and give people five cents off at a large petrol station chain.”We’re not endorsing any of their products.

Woman has ‘miracle’ baby using ovary frozen in childhood

A 24-year-old woman has given birth in London after doctors restored her fertility using ovarian tissue preserved when she was nine. (Supplied: Fergus Walsh, BBC)
While restoring fertility using ovarian tissue is not a new procedure, Dr Matthews said it had never been done using tissue that was taken from a patient before puberty.Although the procedure worked, Dr Matthews was hesitant to confirm whether it would be put to widespread use.”At the moment it’s still regarded as a very experimental procedure, because to date we haven’t had any success,” she said.”As far as we know there are no previous reports of transplants for pre-pubertal girls where they simply haven’t achieved a pregnancy. Key points:First successful case of frozen ovaries from a young child used in ovarian tissue transplantWoman gave birth to healthy baby after doctors stitched frozen tissue to her damaged ovaryProvides hope to thousands of women concerned about their fertility
Although ovarian tissue transplants work for older women, doctors have never successfully used tissue from such a young child, and experts say the news gives hope to women with childhood illnesses.Moaza Al Matrooshi was born in Dubai with a serious blood disorder. By the age of nine she needed chemotherapy, which resulted in her ovaries becoming damaged.Before the treatment doctors froze tissue from her right ovary with the hope it could be used to restore her fertility later in life.She never thought she would be able to give birth.”It’s a miracle that I have my baby now,” she said.After more than a decade in storage, the frozen tissue was stitched onto Ms Al Matrooshi’s damaged left ovary during surgery in Denmark.Dr Sara Matthews, Ms Al Matrooshi’s fertility specialist, spoke to the BBC’s medical correspondent Fergus Walsh about the procedure.”It was put back into Moaza… into an ovary that was basically failing, into a maelstrom of hormones — and it may have just decided not to do anything,” she said.”But it reactivated and then told the body that the body was no longer going through menopause, and then the ovary started to work again and produce eggs like a young ovary would do.”It began producing eggs within months.”We’ve been waiting for a long time for something like this, and it’s been a process over the last two years to arrange it,” Dr Matthews said.”But to see a baby at the end of it all is absolutely wonderful.”Procedure offers ‘great hope’ for young women

Moaza Al Matrooshi thought she would be able to give birth. “But to have a case that we know has worked means that it offers great hope for all the young girls who have had their tissue frozen”Similar project underway in AustraliaProfessor Michael Chapman, president of the Fertility Society of Australia, said that a similar project was underway in Australia and the successful procedure in London was “as a first step, great news.””We in Australia have been freezing such tissue now for around 15 years, but we’ve never had the opportunity to transplant it back into a young lady once she’s gone through puberty,” he said.
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World's first baby using controversial three-parent technique born: report
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Professor Chapman said he was expecting similar procedures to take place in Australian hospitals in the not-too-distant future.”If you think about it, these girls are now only in their early 20s — even the first tissue that we froze — so the opportunity hasn’t yet arisen,” he said.”This sort of technology is giving hope to girls suffering from cancer and gives them hope for future fertility.”Childhood cancer is not curable, but the success rates are hugely better than they were 10 years ago.”So these girls are looking to a future for their fertility, as well as survival.”
(Supplied: Fergus Walsh, BBC) AM

By Thomas Oriti


December 15, 2016 10:45:16

Moaza Al Matrooshi and her healthy baby boy in a London hospital.

Melbourne rower builds floating billboard to promote the Red Cross

“It puts a lot of load onto the rower but as long as they take it nice and slow it’s not too bad.” Mr Favre then got to work, constructing a 26-kilogram frame, which attaches to the back of his single scull.”I tow it out onto the water and then more or less cut laps up and down the CBD,” he said.”Underneath the footbridge is really popular — there are a lot of people coming out of Flinders Street Station and I smile and wave to the people on the banks.”An opportunity to contribute to the Red CrossMr Favre is currently promoting the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, at a time of year when donations are drastically needed.”I’ve always really liked the Red Cross, I’ve thought they’ve done heaps of good work and they don’t seem to discriminate about who they help,” he said.”And I understand now that there’s a real shortage of blood donors between Christmas and New Year.”The Australian Red Cross Blood Service currently needs an additional 3,000 donors to give blood to ensure patients get what they need over the Christmas period. Photo:
David Favre trains up to 12 times a week on the Yarra River. However, Mr Favre did admit that towing the sign does make rowing a little more difficult.”There’s a bit of drag there, yeah,” he said. External Link:

David Favre rowing on the Yarra River. Rowers training up and down the Yarra River is a familiar sight for many Melburnians, so one young rower and carpenter had the idea of turning his single scull into a floating billboard.Twenty-six-year-old David Favre trains up to 12 times a week on the Yarra and said his idea was inspired by scooters he saw driving through Melbourne towing advertisements.”I saw scooters out and about in the city and I thought why couldn’t you do that on the water?” he said.Mr Favre said rowing along the Yarra often attracted attention from people walking along the banks, so he thought why not make use of the existing interest and do the same as the scooters, promoting causes close to his heart. (774 ABC Melbourne: Fiona Pepper)
However, as a gay man Mr Favre is unable to donate blood and he saw his billboard as a way to contribute to the charity.Hopes to become the message board for MelbourneMr Favre’s floating billboard is currently in a proof of concept stage, but he hopes that the idea will gain momentum.”[I hope] to do this full-time, to support my own rowing but quickly be able to support the rowing of younger people at our club who are really aspiring to represent the state and the country,” he said.He is also keen to continue to advertise messages of public interest — whether it be charities, not for profits or even promoting iconic Melbourne events.”There’s always something happening in Melbourne and it would be really great to be a message board for Melbourne and all of its events,” he said.
(774 ABC Melbourne: Fiona Pepper) 774 ABC Melbourne


Fiona Pepper


December 15, 2016 09:22:31

David Favre hauls his single scull out of Melbourne’s Yarra River.
Melbourne 3000

Top students react to ‘surreal’ HSC remarks

NAPLAN results show it is time to hand trust back to teachers
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I can’t wrap my head around it. I was in my bed.”

Huw Evans was one of two students to top the Software Design and Development. (ABC News: Sarah Hawke)
Yuchen Ren St George Girls High School”It was so surreal, I couldn’t believe it. It’s amazing. New South Wales’ best and brightest pupils are beginning their High School Certificate celebrations, with a Year 10 boy among the six students sharing the top marks for maths. I was so shocked. Doing the accelerated stream, I just thought ‘OK, I’ll have more free periods in year 12’, but all of a sudden I came out with first in maths, which is definitely a surreal experience.”Matthew WinfredInaburra School”I manage my time really well. I was expecting it to be my mum, but it was actually someone from the Board of Studies telling me I’d topped the state which was…it felt like a dream almost, because I was still half asleep and she started asking me all these questions. I actually had maths when I got the phone call. It was meant to be confidential, so I couldn’t tell anyone. I wasn’t prepared for it. (ABC News: Sarah Hawke)
Huw EvansThe Scots College”It was unexpected. I put everything into it. Photo:
Yuchen Ren, left, Ada Fang, Finnegan Waugh, Matthew Winfred, Damian Nakhla and Natalie Lee were the state’s best maths brains. I organised myself so I could make maths my priority in a way. (ABC News: Sarah Hawke)
Kate CousinsFort Street High School”Preparing for the exams was a lot of hard work but once you actually get in the room, if you feel like you’re prepared and you’re ready for it, you’ll just take it calmly.” I put in a lot of effort for it, but I was expecting someone else from one of the schools that really tries hard at software to do it [top the subject].”

Kate Cousins, who topped Earth and Environmental Science, shows off her certificate to her father. I couldn’t believe it. I put all my passion and my hard work and dedication into doing really well at that subject.”Natalie LeeBaulkham Hills High School”I was in Melbourne at the time with my family when I got the phone call and I was really surprised. HSC results will be released on Thursday but a ceremony in Sydney today, 124 students received certificates for topping the state in one or more subjects. The Year 10 student, Matthew Winfred from Inabarra School in Sydney’s south, shared the top accolade in maths with two students in Year 11 and three from Year 12.The students came from 74 schools across the state, with private schools doing slightly better than government schools.Sydney Grammar School students topped seven subjects.All students will receive their results by text message at 6:00am on Thursday.Here, some of the top students share their study experiences, and their reactions when they were told of their top grades. I never thought I’d have the potential to top a subject in the HSC, let alone maths.”Ada FangSydney Girls High School”I’m in Year 11. I did a little happy dance.”Damian NakhlaSt Ives High School”I was asleep and my brother came into the room and threw the phone on my bed.
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By Sarah Hawke


December 14, 2016 17:33:38
Syrian refugee tops Year 12 class with 96.65 ATAR

Melbourne school welcomes families fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq

By Jessica Longbottom


December 14, 2016 16:04:51

The Samtar family came to Australia as part of the special intake of 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees. (ABC News: Jessica Longbottom)
Syrian refugee tops Year 12 class with 96.65 ATAR
Melbourne 3000
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Key points:Three Christian families tell harrowing stories of escaping Syria, Iraq20 students fleeing conflict started school in Melbourne’s north earlier this yearPrincipal says impact of trauma is “extensive”
The high school teacher, from Qaraqosh, near Mosul in Iraq, still has the voice recording of the chilling message left by a group of his former students.”It’s really hard … I couldn’t believe that this thing happened,” he said with the help of a translator.”I taught them to be respectful, honest … to do good in the world. And yet they come back and do this.”With 16 people crammed in the one car, Mr Samtar and his extended family made the journey to the Iraqi city of Erbil.He, his mother, wife and three children then fled to Jordan in 2014, before arriving in Australia in June this year.The Samtar family are part of the special intake of 12,000 refugees from Iraq and Syria announced in September 2015 that are now arriving steadily in Australia.Mr Samtar’s two sons attend St Dominic’s Primary School at Broadmeadows, in Melbourne’s north, where 20 new students fleeing conflict started school this year.All of the students are from Christian families — 14 from Iraq and six from Syria.The school of 230 pupils is expecting more than 20 students from the countries to enrol in 2017.”You cry with these families, your heart goes out,” the school’s principal, Gayle Connor, said.”The impact of trauma of the most recently arrived is quite extensive.”Mr Samtar said Australia was a good place and the school was “very nice”.”They offer us all the help they can,” he said.’You didn’t know who was your friend and who was your enemy’

Isho Aodisho (back left) believes he was targeted in Syria because of his Christian faith. They plan to study English from next year and find work. Thank you Australian people. (ABC News: Jessica Longbottom)
The memories are still raw for Nesrin Yasdin, who arrived in Australia with her husband, Joseph Tshado, and children, Ronny and Jezil, in September.She cried when she was asked about the current situation in Syria and the future of the country.”We hope for safety … for the people who are still living there but we are sure we can’t go back,” Mr Tshado said.The family fled Syria in 2012 after terrorist group Jamaat Islamiah began kidnapping Christians in their town of Tell Tamer, near the Turkish border.They lived in Lebanon for four years before their refugee applications were accepted by Australia.The couple’s son, Ronny, started prep at St Dominic’s two months ago and their daughter Jezil will start next year.Mr Tshado and Ms Yasdin lit up when they were asked about their time in Australia.”It’s good,” they said through a translator. We are so glad for that,” Mr Aodisho said.’We are sure we can’t go back’

Nesrin Yasdin (second from right) is worried for those still in Syria. When Naseem Samtar received a phone call from people threatening to kill him if he did not convert to Islam and pay a monthly fee to the Islamic State group, he knew it was time to flee. (ABC News: Jessica Longbottom)
Truck driver Isho Aodisho said he was riding his motorbike in the town of Al Hasaka in Syria when he was deliberately rammed and almost killed.He made what he thought would be his last phone call to his wife.”Please look after the kids, take care of them,” Dalida Aodisho recalls her husband saying.Mr Aodisho does not know why he was targeted, but believes it was because of his Christian faith.”At that time, you didn’t know who was your friend and who was your enemy,” he said.After undergoing two operations, Mr Aodisho fled to Lebanon with his family in 2013.They arrived in Australia in October and two of the couple’s four daughters attend St Dominic’s.”Thank you to Australia for looking after those who are leaving [Syria].

Mallee farmer, 90, brings in last crop after 75 years of harvests

Philip ‘PK’ Templeton has not missed a harvest since 1941, but this year stands out for two key reasons — it is his best ever, and it also is his last.Mr Templeton, 90, has manned the header for 75 successive years.

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(ABC News) Philip Templeton reflects on 75 successive years in the header as he and son Tom harvest their last crop.
Women play vital role during busy Victorian harvest



Rabbit hunting paid for the family’s first ever tractor. The young fellas today wouldn’t believe what we done,” he said.Mr Templeton’s first harvest, at 15 years old, involved a five-foot stripper pulled by three horses.”You wound it up over the stumps and put it down again and I never stopped winding all day,” he said.”Now you can do it in a few minutes, what you done in a day — and it was hot.”They say ‘Back in the good old times’. Photo:
Chinkapook, the place of red earth. (Supplied: Tom Templeton)
The landscape transformation has been just as dramatic, after the likes of Mr Templeton’s grandfather cleared it of trees to boost farming production.A sign describes Chinkapook as ‘The place of red earth’, and clouds of dust are the only sign of life to be found. (Supplied: Tom Templeton)
It is difficult to tell which of the old houses are still occupied and which have been abandoned.Mr Templeton calls it “the city of Chinkapook”.It was where he was born, not in a hospital but on his parent’s farm, and where he married his late wife Margaret.It also was where they raised their seven children — “Don’t be laughing, we had no television,” Mr Templeton quips.And where, once his body refuses to contain him, his spirit will remain.”When I go up on the hill, I’ve got the plot next to Margaret,” he said.”I’m making my own coffin. The town of Chinkapook now has a total of 15 residents. (Supplied: Tom Templeton)
“It was dry; nearly as dry as I get when I’m on that header.”This year, his last, is a different story.”The best year ever. I say, they can stick the good old times.”Ninety years of drought, floods and everything in betweenMr Templeton’s long farming career has been marked by drought, flood and everything in between.In tough years he would seek off-farm labour work, including shearing, and sewing or hauling wheat bags.He will not easily forget the worst of them.”In the 1940s I was shearing out at Blue Hills and came home one weekend [to find] five foot of sand over the road,” he said.”There was a sheet of iron off an old house and it blew sand in and it filled the room up. I want to be able to see out, so I’m going to put a couple of windows in it.” Photo:
Mr Templeton (second from left) with brothers Laurence (left) and Vincent, and father Tom Templeton. Photo:
Mr Templeton (back row, second from left) and the Chinkapook football team. When this harvest is complete, in about mid-January, he and his 57-year-old son Tom will lease their Mallee, Victoria grain farm to someone else.”I wouldn’t have driven the header for more than eight hours,” Tom said.”[People] would think he gets on just for a lunchtime run or a couple of hours, but he drives it from morning to night — I can’t get in there.”The pride at his father’s passion is tainted, ever so slightly, by bitterness.Tom’s last harvest will be spent in the old 1974 blue truck, which lacks the air-conditioned comfort of his father’s modern header.”I measured it one day — it gets up to 57 degrees in that truck,” Tom said.”Stand out in the paddock, it might be 38 degrees and seem like it’s fairly cool with a little bit of breeze.”

Tom Templeton drops a load of grain off in his “little blue Tonka toy”. (Supplied: Tom Templeton)
Mr Templeton does not have much sympathy.”I think he’s getting a bit soft. It didn’t stop raining the whole year,” he said.Growers right across the Wimmera Mallee region are celebrating record winter and spring rainfall, but grain prices have hit an all-time low.”I can remember selling wheat 30 years ago for a lot more than we’re getting for it now,” Mr Templeton said.”I can remember selling wheat for $440 a tonne; not anymore.”Today an average tonne of wheat would be lucky to make $200. (Supplied: Tom Templeton)
‘The city of Chinkapook’, then and nowWhen Mr Templeton is not working the farm he can be found tinkering in a shed behind his Chinkapook home.Once a busy centre with a supermarket, bank, milk bar and multiple football teams, the town now hosts a total of 15 residents. Photo:
Mr Templeton has manned the header for 75 successive harvests.
Chinkapook 3546

Mallee farmer, 90, brings in last crop after 75 years of harvests

ABC Rural


Danielle Grindlay


December 14, 2016 16:54:08

Philip ‘PK’ Templeton (R), 90, and his son, Tom Templeton, 57, are in the midst of their last harvest. (Supplied: Tom Templeton)


Dunalley Neighbourhood House flourishes following 2013 fires

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Dunalley 7177
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Most Dunalley bushfire recommendations adopted, review finds
Success stories rise from ashes of Tasmanian bushfires
(936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
Jeddah Barwick took on the role of manager of the Neighbourhood House earlier this year.She said the fires had had a lasting effect on the area.”For some people it galvanises their connection to place, so it really draws them together,” she told Helen Shield on 936 ABC Hobart.She said the Neighbourhood House fostered “flourishing and reconnecting and creating that community resilience”.Crafty ideaNot long after the fires, a group of local women approached the Neighbourhood House to ask to start a craft group.They began with six people in April 2013 and now have 20 members who meet once a week to get creative. (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
For local resident Carol, the craft group was a “lifesaver” after she lost her home in the fires.”It was very traumatic and even now, really it is,” she said.”I’m getting there. (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
Now, however, the front and side of the house is a patchwork of brightly coloured flowers mixed with edible plants, with many of the plants grown from seeds saved from the original garden.Ms Vincent said despite the devastation the fires brought, she still loved living and working in the area.”It’s a very pretty place to live. (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)
Garden rejuvenated While the main building of the Dunalley Neighbourhood House survived, its gardens were badly damaged by the fires.Kerry Vincent is the gardener and has been running classes for the local primary school and the wider community for about 11 years.”We lost part of our native garden and we lost almost all our fruit trees and our orchard enclosure,” she said.”We didn’t have any water afterwards because all the irrigation system burnt, so pretty much the rest of the garden that was surviving after the fires really struggled.”

Many of the plants in the gardens have been grown from seeds saved from the original garden lost in 2013. Bushfires in 2013 nearly destroyed the township of Dunalley, but the community has rebuilt and continues to flourish, bonded by their Neighbourhood House.Eighty properties were destroyed by the flames, leaving many without a place to go.The Dunalley Neighbourhood House became locals’ home away from home; a focus point to help the community heal and rebuild together.And nearly four years on from the fires, the community still uses to the Neighbourhood House as a place to connect. Each woman made six squares. Photo:
Jeddah Barwick says the Dunalley community has found resilience together through the Neighbourhood House. I’m not complaining, that’s for sure.” Photo:
About 20 women regularly meet at the Neighbourhood House to chat and make things together. I still do.”[It] gave you something else to concentrate on and took your mind off your burnt house you were sitting looking at for weeks on end.”

The craft group started with making friendship quilts together. It’s taken me nearly four years.”[The craft group is] a lifesaver really. It got me out of the shed, made me go out and mix with people, which I found really hard.
936 ABC Hobart


Carol Rääbus


December 14, 2016 11:42:53

Kerry Vincent has worked at the Dunalley Neighbourhood House for about 11 years. (936 ABC Hobart: Carol Rääbus)

Afghan boy finally meets his idol, Lionel Messi

Boy with plastic bag jersey 'to meet Messi'
Young Afghan Messi fan flees over kidnap fears
(REUTERS: Omar Sobhani, file photo) Updated

December 14, 2016 12:15:59

Murtaza Ahmadi became famous when photos of him went viral showing him playing soccer in a plastic bag jersey honouring his idol Lionel Messi.
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Rights groups say the changes fall far short of what is needed to protect the multitudes of mostly Asian low-wage workers transforming the tiny country.AP It is a dream for me,” said Murtaza, in quotes supplied by the World Cup organizing committee.Murtaza, who is now aged six, walked out onto the field with the five-time world player of the year before Tuesday’s match.The boy became an internet sensation early this year when pictures of him playing near his home in eastern Ghazni province were widely circulated. External Link:

FC Barcelona tweet
“I’m very happy to have met my hero. Photo:
Messi sent Ahmadi signed shirts to play in, but the publicity meant the boy and his family later had to move to Pakistan. It was an image that touched the hearts of millions: A five-year-old Afghan boy wearing an improvised Lionel Messi jersey made from a plastic bag.Now, nearly a year later, Murtaza Ahmadi has finally met his idol.Murtaza made a special trip from Afghanistan to Qatar, where Messi was with his Barcelona team-mates to play a friendly match against Al Ahli on Tuesday.In a meeting arranged by the organizing committee of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Messi held hands with Murtaza at the team hotel before picking up the boy and posing for photographs. They showed him wearing a plastic bag – in blue-and-white stripes, like the Argentina national team jersey – with Messi and the number 10 written in black marker.A few weeks later, Messi sent signed Barcelona and Argentina jerseys to Murtaza.Murtaza’s father, Mohammad Arif Ahmadi, said in May that the family was forced to leave Afghanistan amid constant telephone threats and fears that Murtaza would be kidnapped because of his sudden notoriety. Murtaza was wearing a Barcelona jersey. (AP: Rahmat Gul, file photo)
“Life became a misery for us,” said the father at the time, speaking over the telephone from the Pakistani city of Quetta, where the family had settled.The meeting between Messi and Murtaza comes at a time when Qatar is introducing long-expected reforms to policies governing its vast foreign-labor force, who labour and human rights activists say are open to abuse by the current system.Qatar says it is abolishing the “kafala” sponsorship system that binds workers to their employer.