Colours for a bleak issue

ART has the power to change people and the world we live in.

Twenty-one Wynyard High School girls took this idea and gave it legs through a24 hour endurance art event to raise awareness and money to help solve the culturally engrained issue of family violence.

Putting pencil to paper from 10am on Friday, 21 girls shared the load working in 12 hour shifts.

Grade 9 student Emily Shires said that music and lollies were going to help the girls sustain their energy through the night.

“A lot of peer support will help,” she said.

Throughout the day, community groups dropped in to put pencil to paper and assist them in the ireffort.

“We had Boat Harbour Primary School in earlier,” Emily said.

“They filled up every single table and some of them left with colour on their faces which wasn’t the plan,” she said.

While the dollar figuressuggest the community is well and truly behind their cause, the show of faces over the 24 hour period was visible evidence that the community cares about the future of family violence.

Project producer Elspeth Blunt said that the key attributes she hoped the project would foster in the students were strength, resilience and confidencethat will catalyse change.

“When these girls learnt that the average age a child feels domestic violence first is two and a half they said ‘right lets bloody do something’,” she said.

“It is about subtly shiftingthe communities attitude for that huge cultural shift,” she said.

Friday night saw a score of personalities visit the colourathon site with musicians Lucky Oceans and Claire Anne Taylor performing at the event.

Project O, which is supported by Big hArt, is an Australian first.

Emily said her colouring mates were already complaining about sore fingers but they were determined to keep going.

“It is getting better as we go on,” she said.

Tired artistscould warm numb digits by the bonfire.

Colouringdesign templateswere created by artists George Rose, Nadia Hernandez and Nico Nicson.

“There is one that is really intricate and really difficult,” Emily said.

The project has surpassed the original goal of $6,000, having reached the $10,000 mark.

Money raised will go into local women’s shelters to provide play therapy for children who are experiencing family violence.

Selected pieces are being digitised and animated to create a music video to accompany a song which was written by the girls and Tasmanian artist Claire Anne Taylor.

IN FOR THE LONG HAUL: Emily Shires,14, is one of the girls behind the Project O Colourathon. Pictures: Cordell Richardson.

TIME OUT: Avalon Starick,16, Hazel Martin,18, and Ginger Rankin,16, support the cause and take some time out to colour in the sun.

OFF THE PITCH: Zak Marshall, Darcy Leno, Adam Wilson, Tyler Boon, Darcy Brazendale, Zac Smith and Shannon Vakes from the Wynyard Football Club.

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Confederates up against it as in-form Bathurst Souths return to Orange


CONFEDERATES went within four minutes of scoring their first win of the women’s Premier League Hockey season last weekend against Parkes United, a feat they want to better on Saturday against Bathurst Souths at Orange Hockey Complex.

This time, they want those four competition points.

It won’t come easy though, with Souths desperate for a victory themselves to stay in touch with the top five.

Against an opponent who is yet to register a win this year, even with ‘Feds performance last week considered, Souths will start as unbackable favourites.

For Sue Watterson, the side’s manager, it’s games like this they simply cannot afford to miss out in.

“For us it is a case of trying to keep getting better as the weeks go by as well. With a new coach, a new style, and basically without ever having had all our players available, it has taken a while for us to start to play our best,” she said.

“And that might still be a while away yet, so these games are all about making sure we get full points and at least make sure we aren’t conceding too much ground to the teams above us.

“Hopefully towards the back end of the year where we have a big run of home games that starts to pay off, and we get all our frontline players back and in the side.”

Souths will be without two of their key figures today in Michelle Somers and Sarah Watterson, a factor ‘Feds will look to take advantage of.

Confederates host Souths from 3.50pm.

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Cherish every moment with children

“Where is he? Where is he?”I whispered to myself as a looked around the playground.For a short moment, my world stopped.

I stood there frozen in my puddle of latte that fell from my startled grip.He was only just running along the bridgeand now he has vanished.

My throat held my breath captive, my pupils bulged into the size of goggles as I scanned the playground in search for a little red flanny.

“Where could he be?”

There is only a handful of children playing and somehow my child has evaded the head count.

I yell out “Harry,” with no response.I immediately start to panic.

I dart around the playground, not able to focus on one area for too long as the hour glass is filling.

“My heavily pregnant friend feels my panic and goes into action mode.

She hurls her child over her shoulder and starts racing around the park in my desperation.Neither of us can rationalise the fact that he probably couldn’t have made it to the duckpond.

My airways are strangled with the most sickening feeling.

The worst case scenarios were circling my head, what if he was taken?

What if he escaped the child lock of the park gate and went onto the road?

I lose all inhibition and work myself into an off the radar mode of panic.

I start to scream across the playground “HARRY, HARRY, HARRY!” I don’t even care how ridiculous I look or the amount of attention that I’m drawing, as parents are starting to look around in empathy.

As I’m screaming out my third “HARRRRRYYY!” out pokes a little head from behind a tree.

My son’s little face looks at me in complete surprise, oblivious to the height of my anxiety.

For a quick second, my world had fallen a part.

Ten minutes felt like a day. He was too busy making friends with some acorns and working through his own quest to find their beret hats to be any the wiser.

I’ve never been so happy to see that dirt riddled face.

He was more interested in introducing his acorn buddies to methan to indulge in any of the love I was giving him.

How quick things can happen, all because my son wanted to accessorisehis acorn.

This will be my last column, so thank you for letting me share my questionably appropriate stories.

As a first time mum, I like all mothers are nutting out the great conundrums of motherhood where anything that can go wrong, probably will, the struggle is real and totally worth it.

They say they grow up in the blink of an eye, and as we’ve discovered you can also lose them in a blink of an eye so watch your children and cherish every moment because the best life is #mumlyf.

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Fallout from milk price cuts to hit local economy hard

Cuts in milk payments to farmers are expected to have a severe economic impact on Gannawarra Shire in northern Victoria.The sudden collapse in milk prices could cost farmers up to $180,000, according to calculations from the dairy-rich north Victorian shire of Gannawarra.

The shire, which includes towns such as Kerang, said the economic fallout from the cut could cost up to $25 million in milk payments locally and wipe out 250 jobs in the region, with people spending less.

It estimated that  Murray Goulburn’s decision to slash the price it pays farmers for milk will threaten 110 dairy industry jobs and a further 143 in sectors including retail, transport and manufacturing.

Gannawarra Shire, which borders the Murray River, is home to about 140 dairy farms. Murray Goulburn takes milk from the overwhelming majority of them.

Fonterra – which announced a price cut in early May – is supplied by some local farmers. Dairy farmers believe that the number of local farmers supplying other processors would be less than 10.

Local mayor Lorraine Learmonth said the dairy industry was a vital part of the local economy and expressed concern that some businesses already seemed quieter after the price shock.

“Most of our small towns have been built on the prosperity of dairy farming over the years,” she said.

“Most of our communities shop in our local towns. And if the dairy farmers are all tightening their belts it will be felt across all our feed mills and our retailers, our vets, even down to our schools,” she said.

The figures showed how important the dairy industry was to rural Victoria, she said. “It’s the most important aspect of our local economy because what it does, it drives the retail sector in places like Cohuna and Leitchville. It also drives a lot of the manufacturing sector.”

Gary Wight, 43, milks 500 cows at Cohuna. Mr Wight, who supplies Murray Goulburn, said the price cut would slash his revenue by $220,000 to $250,000.

The price cuts would have a “devastating” impact on the local area, he said.

“We have to shut down spending wherever we can. I’ve put my weekend milkers off already. Anything that I don’t have to spend on, I won’t spend. I just can’t, I haven’t got it.

“It’s a double-edged sword, you sell your cows [and] then you lose your income. But you keep your cows and you’ve got to feed them, so then you’ve got to find the cost of feeding them. It’s just walking that line, where you’re trying to lose as little as you can,” he said.

“A lot of us don’t have a lot of choice. Just hopefully we can ride it out and the world price will improve…hopefully we can have a lower cost season and we’ll survive,” he said.

Mr Wight said farmers had been “begging” Murray Goulburn to tell them what milk payments would next financial year. He said he would make a loss in 2015-16.

In other developments, on Friday the Victorian Government announced a $1.5 million package to help farmers and affected communities, with a large part of the money to fund extra counselling services.

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Setting the ewe up for the new horizon

PLAN AHEAD: NSW DPI Phil Graham says producers needed to benchmark and plan their breeding objectives to avoid flock extremities.SHEEP producers will be challenged on their breeding direction as attendees of LambEx 2016 debate whether the industry is producing the right ewe for the future.

Department ofPrimary Industry grazing technical specialist,Phil Graham, Yass, NSW, will addressthis challenge and askwhether the industry was heading in the right breeding directionfor the economic, social and environmental climate for 15 years from now.

Mr Graham saidthe forum would analyse the impact current breeding selections had on flocks.

“It is critical to consider what the appropriate ewe is for your enterprise in ten or fifteen years,” he said.

“Producers are making breeding decisions now when they buy rams about how they want him to influence their flock.They need to consider how their genetic selections nowwill set their production and breeding system up for the next decade.”

He said, discussion among breeders about the mature body weight of a composite ewe was one of many discussions which had brought the issue of long-term genetic planning to a head​.

Mr Graham will use GrassGro to predict the genetic development of NSW flocks’ wool, meat and milk production, based on current management decisions.

“Breeding is slow but if you’re going down the wrong path, you get a fair way down before you realise you need to turn around and go back,” Mr Grahamsaid.

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Industrial action threatens to stall government’s level crossing removals

Level crossing replacement works at Ormond Rail Station Photo: Paul Jeffers Work to remove the Mountain Highway level crossing in Bayswater Photo: Jason South

Hundreds of rail workers have voted to take four days of industrial action from next Friday, in a decision that threatens to shut down work on nine level crossing removal projects under way in Melbourne.

Three unions are in dispute with Metro Trains over a new workplace agreement for rail infrastructure workers, who are essential to the government’s pledge to remove 20 level crossings in this term.

The Electrical Trades Union, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union and Professionals Australia have agreed to take four days of industrial action between May 27 and May 30. The action will stall projects that Metro Trains Melbourne is involved in.

More than 600 union members have agreed to the move, which is unlikely to affect commuters at this stage, but could disrupt the government’s timelines for its signature level crossing promise.

Construction is under way to remove nine level crossings on the Andrews government’s list of 50 that are due to go within eight years, and work on all these would have to stop while the industrial action takes place.

They include three crossings on the Frankston line, at North Road, McKinnon Road and Centre Road, where Metro and the government have announced a 37-day shutdown from late next month for major works.

Passengers will have to catch replacement buses between Moorabbin and Caulfield during this “construction blitz”, and the industrial dispute threatens to interfere with and potentially extend the 37-day shutdown if it has not been resolved by then.

Work at two crossings in St Albans, two in Bayswater and one each in Blackburn and Mitcham would also be delayed by next week’s four-day stoppage.

The projects have a combined cost of more than $1 billion.

The negotiations over a new enterprise bargaining agreement involve a different part of Metro’s workforce to those staff who went on strike last year and brought most of Melbourne’s public transport system to a halt.

But negotiations with the infrastructure division began at a similar time and have dragged on for about a year.

Metro was notified of the intention to take industrial action late on Thursday,  giving the company seven days to respond to the unions’ joint demands and avert project delays.

Metro staff who have voted to take action include track and signal maintainers, and safe-working staff essential for planned shutdowns, meaning construction could not proceed, even though many level crossing project workers are not Metro employees.

The Age understands Metro’s proposed changes to rosters and penalty rates, particularly involving increased night-time work, are a major point of dispute.

Luba Grigorovitch, the RTBU state secretary, said Metro’s claims would have a negative effect on workers’ pay and work-life balance.

“Infrastructure workers are the backbone of the network and keep the system running,” Ms Grigorovitch said.

Members feel they are being taken for a ride by Metro who have continuously failed to recognise the significant role their workforce has played in providing a safe network for commuters, 24-hour public transport and the delivery of key projects,” she said.

Metro’s Sammie Black said: “We have received notification of industrial action. We believe it is unnecessary on the basis that we have been bargaining in good faith and continue to do so.”

Ms Black said Metro had contingency plans in place to minimise impacts.

Jacinta Allan, the Minister for Public Transport, said the industrial action was “extremely disappointing and completely unnecessary”.

“Parties need to lock themselves in a room and sort this out, so we can keep removing level crossings, reducing congestion and saving lives,” Ms Allan said.

Spokespeople for the Electrical Trades Union and Professionals Australia were contacted for comment.

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Who’s next after Guy Sebastian sneaks in the triple j door Beyonce knocked down?

Delta, don’t despair about the sometimes desperate straits your career has found itself in at times, your time may yet come. On triple j.

This is because the world has gone soft, mad or completely off the boil.

When Guy Sebastian appeared on the alternative music/youth network on Friday morning to sing live, nothing happened. Nothing. Not only did the ABC studio not collapse in a blasphemous rubble and Sebastian emerge unscathed but the triple j outrage police, always quick to rail against any “impure” musical thought or action were noticeably absent.

Could this what happens when triple j starts playing Beyonce, as it did in April? A sign of weariness from even the most battle-hardened culture warriors? Or is it just that performing a version of Keeping Score by electronic act LDRU, with producer Paces, balanced the cool/uncool ledge enough to let him in the door?

Sebastian is a former Australian Idol winner, an important distinction even though that was more than 10 years ago. While he, along with a handful of others such as Jessica Mauboy, sustained a career from the never respected TV talent show entry path to the business, Sebastian’s association with the show long stymied his chances of winning a peer-voted ARIA Award, earned him a career’s-worth of sneers and with his continued high sales, almost automatically barred him from being heard on triple j.

Why not on triple j? Because it has long run a policy, hard to define and noticeably inconsistent, that popular works – material that was being played on commercial networks, or could be if commercial radio played many songs – and popular artists would not be played on the youth network.

It’s a policy which led to the farcical attempt to have Taylor Swift included in the Hottest 100 by an opportunistic website – rejected because triple j were offended at the very notion it might play the biggest pop star in the world. And the equally ludicrous situation where Beyonce’s career-redefining 2013/14 self-titled album, was explicitly blocked from triple j’s airways even though it wasn’t being played on commercial radio (too dark, too radical, too, well, musical for them) and sounded not that different to a number of artists who were on the playlists at the ABC’s too-cool-for-school network.

(That both Swift and Beyonce were women was no doubt a coincidence, surely. For they are honourable men, and women, at the station. After all, we are regularly assured, it is not triple j’s fault that the hottest 100 songs of the year, as voted by its listeners, has yet to put up a female winner and struggles to even find a token number of spots in the countdown’s upper reaches for women.)

Even if the attitude – which says Tame Impala’s New Person, Same Old Mistakes can be played but Rihanna’s cover of the same song is verboten – had changed within the station you get the feeling the keyboard warriors and Outraged Of Fitzroy complainants among the listening audience would have blown a gasket at the appalling idea of a song being played purely on its merits as a good song.

That’s what happened recently when triple j belatedly recognised Beyonce’s “worth” by including tracks from her current album, Lemonade in its playlist. One deeply offended listener posted to Facebook that hearing Beyonce was “ear rape” and remembered fondly “when Alicia Keys was not allowed on triple J because she was considers [sic] too commercial.”

With Kanye West and Drake also getting some spins on the station, maybe it was but a small step for radiokind to bring in Sebastian. But now, after Guy, le deluge?

Kylie Minogue? She got on there when being murdered by Nick Cave but struggles to get traction when alive. Jessica Mauboy and Delta Goodrem? Maybe if they hook up with a Flume-type producer and get both masculine and electronic “cred”. Dannii Minogue?

Yeah, you’re right, That’s probably a step too far for anyone.

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Jalals likely to avoid punishment over AK-47 prank

Max and Arman Jalal with their 16-year-old co-accused (left) Photo: Simon Schluter You Tube video terror pranksters Max and Arman Jalal at Melbourne Magistrates Court for an earlier hearing. Photo: Justin McManus

A screenshot of a prank drive-by shooting video performed by the Jalals. The court heard the man who fled was one of the Jalals, and the girl was a relative. Photo: Supplied

When YouTube pranks break the law

Melbourne’s Jalal brothers must wait a week to learn if they’re to avoid punishment over their controversial AK-47 prank, in which they used a weapon-shaped hookah pipe in a hoax drive-by shooting.

Max, 20, and Arman Jalal, 18, and their 16-year-old co-accused, who cannot be named, were in February charged by police after an online video showed a man and a young girl apparently fleeing in terror when one of the brothers, dressed in a white robe, pointed a fake assault rifle at them from a car outside shops in Epping.

The gold gun was actually a hookah pipe imported from Canada, Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Friday.

The court heard the man who fled in the video was one of the Jalals, and the girl was a relative, and that everyone involved in the video and similar ones were part of the act.

Police charged the trio with public nuisance, possessing a prohibited weapon and behaving in an offensive manner in a public place.

Dressed in matching blue suits, the Jalals appeared before the court on Friday, when magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg was told prosecuting police had recommended the brothers be put on the court’s diversion program, which allows first-time accused to have charges resolved without them having a criminal record provided they agree to court orders.

Mr Rozencwajg adjourned the case to next Friday and said he wanted to view some of the Jalals’ videos, and consider whether the brothers had to make a public apology and confirm the skit was a prank.

The 16-year-old appeared before a children’s court on Friday and was put on the diversion program, on a condition he make a public apology.

The magistrate in the children’s court, who cannot be identified, initially said the videos had the potential to scare members of the public given concerns about terrorism.

“It’s possible all of a sudden someone could have been there and got a fright,” he said.

The Jalal brothers at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday. Photo: Jason South

Both courts were told the prank was filmed in a controlled setting, that no members of the public were nearby and that there had not been any public complaints.

Defence counsel Thea Milides told Mr Rozencwajg the prank and other videos the group had made were intended to satirise racial stereotyping.

The videos, which include bomb scares and fake kidnappings, had been seen more than 18 million times, Ms Milides said.

Acting Inspector Paul Rudd said police were initially concerned the AK-47 prank featured unsuspecting members of the public, but that the Jalals had assured them the participants were all either friends of family members.

The sound of machine gun fire was added after the video was filmed, Ms Milides said.

She said the Jalals had received offers from overseas to make more satirical videos.

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Major hotel chains shortchange housekeepers tens of thousands of dollars, investigation finds

Major hotels have been underpaying housekeeping staff Photo: Frances MocnikThree upmarket hotel chains in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane have been allegedly short-changing their housekeeping staff, a Fair Work Ombudsman investigation has found.

The inquiry into housekeeping services at four and five-star hotels within the Starwood, Accor and Oaks groups found more than 120 housekeepers were underpaid more than $57,000.

Hotel groups that were probed by the Fair Work Ombudsman included the owners of the high-profile Sheraton, Westin and Ibis brand names.

Many housekeepers were paid a flat rate for each room cleaned, inconsistent with their legal entitlements under relevant industry awards.

Most were international students and backpackers from China and Korea on 417 working holiday visas. Follow BusinessDay on LinkedIn

Their jobs included vacuuming, turning down beds, cleaning, restocking minibars and washing.

Starwood owns and operates some 1200 properties around the world, including the Sheraton, Four Points and Westin hotels in Australia. Accor has more than 3700 properties internationally, with more than 40 in Australia, including Ibis hotels.

Oaks Hotels and Resorts, which runs 43 properties in Australia, has reluctantly signed enforceable undertakings with the Fair Work Ombudsman to avoid civil court proceedings. Its cleaning contractor, Housekeepers Pty Ltd, had engaged its workers as independent contractors instead of employees. It has also signed the undertakings.

The investigation targeted a sample group of housekeepers and the names of individual hotel properties found to be in breach have not been released.

Oaks, which the Ombudsman singled out as the most serious offender, acknowledged its housekeepers had been vulnerable to exploitation and accepted an ethical responsibility to ensure its contractors comply with workplace laws.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also issued eight letters of caution, six compliance notices and two on-the-spot fines in response to its findings.

“It is not acceptable for an employer to take advantage of any worker, especially overseas workers who speak limited English and have limited understanding of their workplace rights,” Ombudsman Natalie James said.

“The community expects more from established and profitable brands to ensure that workers on their sites, whether directly employed or not, are treated and paid fairly.

“Employers cannot undercut minimum wages, even if their employees offer to accept lower rates – and they must keep accurate time-and-wages records.”

The inquiry found that employers had failed to pay applicable penalty rates, leave entitlements and had not reimbursed employees for specialist clothing. Part-timers were not given a regular pattern of work.

Employers had also failed to keep proper employment records and rosters did not have clear start and finish times, making it difficult to identify overtime. Unauthorised salary deductions were made for lost equipment.

Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors spoke directly to housekeepers during unannounced visits to hotels.

Oaks and Housekeepers established an independent contracting model, while other hotel groups were found to have applied the wrong industrial instrument or provisions.

The former chief operating officer at Oaks was issued with a letter of caution and Housekeepers Pty Ltd has reimbursed almost $13,000 to 16 underpaid workers.

Housekeepers has also made its housekeepers employees instead of independent contractors.

“Outsourcing is a legitimate business arrangement – but in my experience, in highly competitive markets for low-skilled work, it also increases the risk that workers will be underpaid, sometimes quite deliberately,” Ms James said.

The Ombudsman recommended that the Starwood and Accor Group enter into compliance partnerships to demonstrate commitment to creating productive and inclusive workplaces.

AccorHotels chief operating officer Simon McGrath said the Fair Work Ombudsman in 2014 found two of its housekeeping contractors allegedly had not created a regular pattern of work documentation  for part-time employees and had incorrectly named their employer on pay slips.

“There was no finding in the report of underpayment to our contractors’ employees,” he said.

“As soon as AccorHotels was made aware of this, we worked with those third-party operators to rectify this issue.

“Since then we are not aware of any further allegations.

“As leaders in the industry, we take our responsibility to all employees very seriously and we will continue to strictly monitor our contractors to ensure they comply with their obligations.”

A spokeswoman for Oaks Hotels and Resorts declined to comment other than to say it was working closely with the Fair Work Ombudsman “to resolve any issue”.

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Prime Minister praises lightweight tanks in Camden

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited manufacturing business Omni Tanker in Smeaton Grange for a site tour with Macarthur MP Russell Matheson and Hume MP Angus Taylor. Picture: Ashleigh TullisPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull praised the innovation of a tank manufacturer in Camden on Thursday.

Mr Turnbull visited Omni Tanker for a factory tour at Smeaton Grange.

The company’s first light weight chemical tankers are being exported to Germany soon.

The company manufactures carbon fibre composite tanks to transport bulk liquids, including corrosive chemicals.

“This business is growing because it based on Australian innovation and enterprise,”Mr Turnbull said.

Omni Tanker managing director Daniel Rodgers said light weight tanks meant a more efficient transport operation.

“Australian manufacturing is often able to solve problems without being constrained by accepted thinking and methods,” Mr Rodgers said.

“By coming at it from a different angle, you can discover a novel solution and sometimes significant technology advances, like we now have with our now patented materials technology.”

Hume MP Angus Taylor saidinnovation was at the heart of the company’s success.

“Small businesses with incentives to grow and create, will just do it,” he said.

“They need freedom and encouragement to get on and solve real world problems and this is exactly what Mr Rodgersand his team have done.”

Macarthur MP Russell Matheson said the company had grown from four staff in a small shed eight years ago, to now employing 30 workers including tertiary qualified engineers.

“Omni Tanker will keep growing as it builds its export business. All of these staff here today are people from the local area who now have great jobs and careers ahead of them.”

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