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Teenager refused bail over house fire

INVESTIGATION: A police officer and a firefighter enter the Griffith house badly damaged by fire at the weekend. A teenager has been charged. Picture: The Area NewsA GRIFFITH teenager has been charged over a fire that killed a cat and gutted a family home on Noorla Street in Griffith in the early hours of Saturday morning.
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The 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared in Deniliquin Children’s court on Mondayvia audio-visual link.

He has been charged with damaging property by fire.

He was refused bail and will face court again in Griffith on Thursday.

Fire crews from Griffith and Yenda were called to the fire about 6.30am, and forced entry through the front and rear doors of the building.

Fire inspector Rick Jones said eight firefighters attended the blaze and contained the fire to the front area of the house and one bedroom.

Nobody was at home at the time, but in the bathroom fire crews found a cat that had died from smoke inhalation.

Mr Jones said the fire was being treated as suspicious and was still under investigation by detectives from Griffith police.

It is believed the blaze started in two different places inside the house.

Griffith police Detective Inspector John Smith said circumstances surrounding the incident were under investigation. – The Area News

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Schools face please explain on religious instruction

Schools that stop offering special religious instruction this term will be ordered to provide an explanation after Education Minister Martin Dixon said they may not be complying with legislation.
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Mr Dixon has also ordered his department to revise its new guidelines on religious activities in schools saying he never intended a ban on student-led prayer groups.

A new ministerial direction, which came into effect this term, said parents must clearly ”opt-in” if they want their children to attend special religious instruction.

It also says if principals determine there are insufficient resources – such as inadequate teachers to supervise students – special religious instruction will not be delivered at the school.

The Age understands the government did not intend to make any other changes to the way the program was run.

However the education department’s new guidelines went further than Mr Dixon’s ministerial direction.

Christian groups complained they meant even student-led prayer groups at lunch time were prohibited and the distribution of bibles banned.

And a growing list of schools have ”dumped” special religious instruction following the ministerial direction, according to lobby group Fairness in Religions in Schools, which has campaigned to remove the controversial program from state schools.

“The trend we are seeing of parents voting with their feet, now that they know what SRI is all about, has been remarkable,” spokeswoman Lara Wood said.

Twelve of the 37 schools that offered Jewish special religious instruction have withdrawn the program this term.

“The flawed implementation of the recent changes has meant that many hundreds of children are being denied a Jewish education,” United Jewish Education Board president Yossi Goldfarb said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Dixon said the minister had met with the United Jewish Education Board and other groups.

“The minister expressed concern that schools may not be delivering special religious instruction as required under the legislation and the ministerial direction,” she said.

“The minister has asked the department to get an explanation from schools that no longer offer special religious instruction or have experienced a significant decrease in student enrolment since the ministerial direction came into effect.”

The new education department policy stated prayer groups, youth groups, clubs, information sessions or workshops “would constitute promotion of specific religions in schools outside Special Religious Instruction and are not permitted”.

Mr Dixon has ordered his department to revise this to better reflect his ministerial direction.

The amended guidelines will make it clear that student-led prayer can continue at schools and no group working with schools will be discriminated against because it is a religious organisation.

Australian Christian Lobby Victorian director Dan Flynn said he welcomed the announcement the education department had ”over reached” and the ban on student-led prayer groups and exchange of religious texts would be withdrawn.

Andi Lentin, whose two children go to Caulfield South Primary, was disappointed when the school  stopped offering Jewish special religious instruction this term.

”We keep a very traditional Jewish home and our children learn Hebrew,” she said. ”We elected to go to a government school because we wanted them to be part of the community. One of the benefits of Jewish SRI is that they have met other kids they didn’t know were Jewish at school.”

Ms Lentin said many parents had not received the forms asking parents to opt-in to special religious instruction at the end of second term – she discovered her own child’s form crumpled at the bottom of a school bag.

“Our greatest disappointment is the process the school went through – it seems like the principal made this decision without any consultation.”

But principal Gayle Yardley said the school went to great lengths to ensure parents understood the new policy and had adequate time to return the consent form, including reminders in two consecutive newsletters.

Ms Yardley said only 200 out of the 470 students had consent to participate in either Jewish or Christian special religious instruction, which meant the school was unable to ensure all students were supervised.

“I advised parents that the decision to not offer Jewish and Christian SRI in the second half-year was based solely on low student participation. I also advised them that the program would be re-offered again in 2015.”

The state government is understood to be working with the United Jewish Education Board, Christian provider Access Ministries and other special religious instruction providers to work through any ”unintended consequences” of the new policy on a case by case basis.

For more education stories go to www.facebook南京夜网/theageeducation

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Worker buried alive in quarry wall collapse

A Victorian quarry worker who was killed when a mine wall collapsed and buried him alive had been excavating an area that the operators now say should have been cordoned off.
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Adrian Dowell, 48, was operating an excavator in a South Gippsland sand quarry four years ago when water seepage sparked a landslide that engulfed his vehicle, a court heard.

“Get down here, I’ve been swamped,” were the last words he shouted through the radio.

Co-workers found Mr Dowell’s body inside the cabin of the excavator, which had its windows smashed in and was filled with dirt and mud.

Forensic examiners later determined he died of asphyxiation.

Tooradin Excavations – formerly TGS Sand and Soil – operated the sand quarry at Nyora at the time and were investigated by WorkCover.

The company’s manager director, Gary Morrison, last week pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to serious workplace safety breaches.

Charges included failing to take all reasonable steps to prevent access to the area, which had been identified as unsafe before the landslide, and failing to have suitable systems in place to identify and understand geotechnical dangers.

The Department of Public Prosecutions said the maximum penalty for the charges at the time of the offence was $1,075,000.

Mr Dowell, who had worked at the company for a decade, had clocked on at 6am in the morning on November 22, 2010, and was excavating the quarry’s front pit where the landslide would occur.

The quarry manager had warned him the slope where he was working looked “dodgy” after days of heavy rainfall, noticing water seepage about four metres above the floor on the pit wall, the court heard.

Mr Dowell was advised to leave the area and work on a section about 50 metres away, before the quarry manager left the site for lunch at 12.15pm.

Ten minutes later, Mr Dowell’s distress call came through on the radio. Co-workers raced to the scene of the landslide but Mr Dowell had died by the time they arrived.

A WorkCover report found that the slope where the landslide occurred was “formed of weak materials” that were “further destabilised by water”. The company was aware of the water seepage on the morning of Mr Dowell’s death, but failed to adequately cordon off the area.

“[The company] knew water was present and seeping on the slope of the morning of the landslide,” according to the DPP.

“Their systems of work did not include barricading or other forms of demarcation … and they did not have in place systems to provide for identification and understanding of geotechnical hazards.”

Tooradin Excavations’ defence counsel told the court that the part of the mine was due to be decommissioned, and agreed that barricading the area “was a step that, if taken, would have had the potential to reduce the risk”.

“Mr Dowell was someone who had absolutely no history of doing anything unsafe, anything reckless, anything ill-considered,” the court heard.

“His loss has certainly hit Mr Morrison hard.”

Judge Richard Maidment said Mr Dowell’s death was a “tragic loss”. The company’s penalty is expected to be handed down in coming weeks.

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ICAC: Bob Baldwin may be asked about spruiking coal-loader

ICAC: August 2014 archive Operation Spicer
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FEDERAL Paterson MP Bob Baldwin may be asked to explain why he wrote to ‘‘implore’’ the NSW Coalition government to support Nathan Tinkler’s proposed coal-loader.

Documents with the Independent Commission Against Corruption show Mr Baldwin drafted a letter to then-state ministers Chris Hartcher, Mike Gallacher and Duncan Gay in April 2011 urging in-principle support to the $1 billion coal-loader. “I implore the New South Wales government to do everything it can to see this project come to fruition,” he wrote.

Mr Baldwin then sent it to Buildev director David Sharpe, who replied, “Thanks Bob letter looks good”.

Giving evidence yesterday, Newcastle state MP Tim Owen said he did not know how Mr Baldwin came to write the letter.

Counsel assisting the ICAC Geoffrey Watson described Mr Baldwin as ‘‘really spruiking the case’’ and ‘‘in effect [giving] Buildev a right to review the terms of his letter’’.

‘‘The process looks crook doesn’t it?’’ he put to Mr Owen, who replied, ‘‘My sense is that they were relatively close and obviously he’s a strong supporter of the project. But you’d have to ask Mr Baldwin that.’’

‘‘I can promise we will,’’ Mr Watson said. The inquiry continues.

Blues continue BASL dominance

BENDIGO Amateur Soccer League champions Strathdalestretched its unbeaten run to eight after scoring a 3-0 win over Colts United on Saturday.
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PASSING: Golden City veteran Shane Graham looks for a team-mate. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

Two goals from Nick Watson and one from Shaun Allen set up the victory for the Blues.

Goalkeeper Steven Cobden, Sam Robertson and Watson were best for the Blues.

Dylan Callaway, Josh Raeburn and Phil Berry were best for Colts.

Strathdale now has 12 wins from 14 games this season and holdan eight-point lead over second-placed Spring Gully.

On current form it’s hard to see the Blues being toppled in the upcoming finals series.

The Blues and Spring Gully meet this Sunday in the penultimate round of the season.

Spring Gully warmed up for the big clash with the Blues by thumping Golden City 5-0 at Shadforth Park.

Two goals from Joel Bish was the highlight for the Reds. Goalkeeper Wes O’Shaughnessy and Ben Hamilton also impressed.

Zac Street, Aungtue Lay and Jesse Leonard-Shannon were Golden City’s best players.

SILKY SKILLS: Spring Gully’s Matt Ford.

Golden City and Colts United have the bye this weekend. In the only other game to be played this Sunday, third-placed Eaglehawk hosts fifth-placed Epsom.

Spring Gully’s women’s side enjoyed a 6-0 win over Golden City.

Two goals each from young gun Nicole Ford and Jade De Marchi set up the win for the Reds.

Alyssa Rich, Tayla Hogan and Grace Priest battled hard for City.

No results supplied for the Strathdale versus Colts United clash.

Division two results:Strathdale 8 (S. Gough 2, A. Davies 2, T. Luff, D. Deblauw, L. Burnett, K. Tramm) def Colts United 0 (HT: 4-0).Best: Strathdale: Z. Zadow, S. Gough, A. Davies. Colts United: not supplied.

Moama 3 (J. Brown 2, C. Danswan) d Eaglehawk 1 (M.Schepers) (HT: 1-1).Best: Moama: R. Forlan, J. Brown, J. Haywood. Eaglehawk: not supplied.

Golden City 0 lt Spring Gully 4 (J. Baum, M. Goss, B. McBain, L. Tempest) (HT: 0-0).Best: Golden City: S. Dole, J. Bennett, A. Roach. Spring Gully: J. Baum, M. Goss, B. McBain.

Epsom 1 (L. Jenkins) lt Swan Hill 2 (J. Pino 2) (HT: 0-0).Best: Epsom: L. Jenkins, B. Ellis, P. Harris. Swan Hill: A. Halligan, R. Sebastian, C. Fox.

Youth results:Golden City 4 (C. Page 3, S. Htoo Lweh) dSpring Gully 1 (own goal) (HT: 3-1).Best: Golden City: D. Neivandt, M. Wilson, Z. Street. Spring Gully: not supplied.

Moama 9 (W. Reardon 3, J. Brown 2, C. Scott) dEaglehawk 1 (own goal) (HT: 5-1).Best: Moama: W. Reardon, J. Brown, C. Scott. Eaglehawk: not supplied.

Epsom 1 (C. Baker) lt Swan Hill 7 (T. Fox 4, A. Al Hasani, N. Alizada)(HT: 1-1).Best: Epsom: N. Braszell, L. Mayman, C. Baker. Swan Hill: T. Fox, A. Al Hasani, E. Mohammad Aref.

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No parole for man who murdered Tumut toddler in 1988

A FORMER Tumut man will spend at least another year behind bars for the sexual assault and murder of a toddler after his application for parole was rejected.
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Douglas James Wade, 51, is in prison for a fatal attack on the 22-month-old daughter of a friend while babysitting the toddler on Capper Street, Tumut, in August, 1988.

The shearer was given a life sentence in 1989 for the murder, but under legislation brought out just after his conviction, Wade last year was able to ask the Supreme Court for a determination of his life sentence and to ask for a fixed term.

Justice Megan Latham last August ordered that Wade’s sentence be a minimum 26 years, with a 10-year parole period to follow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014,was set as his earliest date for release.

But any hopes Wade had of walking free immediately were dashed by the State Parole Authority.

A spokesman for the authority said Wade had been refused parole in June.

“The authority refused parole for several reasons, including a need for structured post-release plans,” the spokesman said.

“Furthermore, the Serious Offenders Review Council advised that it is not appropriate for the offender to be considered for release on parole.”

The spokesman said the parole authority would consider Wade’s parole next year.

An autopsy on the little girl found she had suffered multiple injuries, including bruises to her vagina and abdomen.

Wade unsuccessfully appealed against his convictions in 2000, claiming he only gave the girl one backhand blow to her stomach after she disobeyed him.

He denied sexually assaulting the youngster.

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