Archive for September, 2018

South coast seabirds have stomachs full of plastic


Montague island scenes. Interiors.Photo Nick Moir 13 September 2015Seabirds at Montague Island off Narooma have stomachs full of plastic, one of Australia’s leading wildlife biologists has warned.
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Macquarie University professor of marine ecology Rob Harcourt has worked with the seabirds of Montague Island for many years. He is very familiar with the growing of problem of loose, floating plastic in the world’s oceans and how that pollution is impacting on marine animals.

“There is a large colony of seabirds breeding on Montague Island and plastics look a lot like their food items,” Professor Harcourt said.

“They [the birds] pick up the plastics instead, because they look like fish. They take it back to feed their chicks, and the chicks starve because their stomachs are full of plastic. It’s a serious, serious problem.”

He said it particularly affected the migratory seabirds, such as shearwaters, also called mutton birds, and terns.

The short-tailed shearwater birds migrate 10,000 kilometres from the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Japan, to Australian shores in late September to nest.

They have eaten little on their journey and are exhausted by the flight and so have been known to die in mass numbers.

But the plastic in their stomachs is a ticking timebomb for each bird, building up, eventually taking its toll and killing the bird.

“There is no doubt that trash is a problem, and plastic is a major problem for oceans,” Professor Harcourt said.

Professor Harcourt is expected to release 25-year modelling about the effects of climate change on the strength of the East Australian Current early in 2018. His research shows how that will impact the whole ecosystem.

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More Australian families have both parents in the workforce


With both parents in the households working, Tanya Losanno admits the family schedule can be a bit hectic.
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“Sometimes you’re rushing home with the kids from their activities to get dinner on the table, and it can be hectic at times, but it’s worth the challenges when you can be there for [your children] at school assemblies,” she said.

Brent Fuller and Tanya Losanno with their children Max, 8, and Frankie, 6. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The Narrabundah resident is employed in several jobs, working as a marriage celebrant, front of house staff at the Canberra Theatre Centre and occasionally doing work as a comedian, while her husband Brent Fuller is employed as a contractor.

While Mr Fuller’s job is a typical nine-to-five role, work for Ms Losanno is usually at nights or on weekends, meaning both can share in parenting responsibilities for their two children Max, 8, and Frankie, 6.

There’s been an increase in the number of ACT families with both parents in the workforce. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

“It’s fitting our working lives around our family, and that means that our family can get the best of everything,” Ms Losanno said.

“It also means the added benefit of not having to pay for before- and after-school care, which is expensive.”

Over the years, Ms Losanno said there’s been a shift in the number of families who have both parents in the workforce.

“I don’t think I’ve spoken to anyone where both parents are not working,” she said.

Tanya admits sometimes the family schedule can be challenging, but is worth it. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

“There’s definitely been a shift since I’ve grown up. Back then it was very different. The mums were at home and the dads were at work, and now that’s all changed.”

New figures released this week from the Australian Bureau of Statistics back up Ms Losanno’s view, showing an increase in the number of Australian families where both parents are working.

Statistics show 64 per cent of families nationally that have two parents have both parents in the workforce, compared to 59 per cent a decade ago.

The bureau’s chief economist Bruce Hockman said women returning to the workforce after having children was a key reason for the increase.

“The increasing proportion of couple families with children where both parents work is an ongoing trend we have been observing for a decade, as female participation rates in the labour market have increased to the current record high of around 60 per cent,” he said.

“In June 2017, 25 per cent of couple families with children had both parents working full time, which increased from 21 per cent a decade ago.”

Out of the 111,600 families in the ACT, 28,500 of them have both parents working, an increase of more than 2 per cent from than 27,900 families in 2016.

The number of families where both parents work has increased every year since 2014, after a slight drop in 2013.

Nationally, there are more than 3.9 million families with both parents working, rising by 58,200 – or 1.9 per cent – from 2016 figures.

The bureau also reported the number of jobless families, either with couples or lone parents, remained steady over the decade at 12 per cent.

The figures from the bureau coincides with research released by the Australian National University this week showing six out 10 working couples had struggled to manage family commitments, with children at greatest risk where both parents experienced conflict between family time and their job.

Ms Losanno said the rise in the number of families where both parents are working could be due to many people choosing not to start a family until later in life.

“I didn’t get married until I was 35, so I always worked and looked after myself, so it was hard to suddenly stop work,” she said.

“People already spend a majority of their life in work, and it’s hard to stop.”

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Couple who planned to divorce if same-sex marriage passes renege on promise


Overview of the final vote on the Marriage Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, December 7, 2017. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVINGThey were the Canberra couple who created a national stir in 2015 with their stance against same-sex marriage.
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Nick and Sarah Jensen caused controversy following a first-person piece written by Mr Jensen promising to divorce if same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia.

“My wife and I, as a matter of conscience, refuse to recognise the government’s regulation of marriage if its definition includes the solemnisation of same-sex couples,” he wrote at the time.

While their promise may have seemed outlandish at the time, two years later, same-sex marriage in Australia has become a reality, after it passed a vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday.

So will the Jensens follow through with their public promise to split? The short answer is no.

In a statement to The Canberra Times, Mr Jensen said he doesn’t intend to file for divorce in the wake of the historic vote.

“My previous public comments regarding civil divorce never envisaged me separating from my wife, but rather our marriage from the state,” he said.

“The legislation currently makes it untenable for us to do this under the law. The point we were highlighting, and that still stands however, is the fact that a redefinition of marriage changes the agreement under which we were originally married.

“We will be making no further comment.”

The original article penned by Mr Jensen triggered a wave of online responses at the time, which included a mock party set up with a Facebook page called “Celebrating Nick and Sarah Jensen’s Divorce” attracting more than 140,000 people.

The first same-sex weddings in Australia will be carried out on January 9, after the same-sex marriage bill was given royal assent by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove on Friday.

Same-sex weddings that were carried out overseas will now be officially recognised in Australia as part of the historic legislation.

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Gombau takes responsibility for Wanderers’ distressing loss


Western Sydney Wanderers coach Josep Gombau has taken full responsibility for the club suffering their worst A-League defeat in history after being thrashed 5-0 by Sydney FC in the derby on Saturday night.
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A major selection gamble failed in the club’s biggest home game of the season after Gombau opted to hand two teenagers their first starts of the season against the reigning champions, and played others out of position.

Lachlan Scott is yet to play a minute this season but started ahead of experienced striker Brendon Santalab at the arrow point of their attack, while Keanu Baccus was deployed as the Wanderers’ holding midfield in his first start of the season and just the second of his career. Right back Josh Risdon was played as a winger, and Kearyn Baccus, brother of Keanu, was moved from his holding midfield role to a more attacking position.

The changes were said to be in line with Gombau’s evolution of the club’s playing style. He says it will take a lot of time but the blame for their performance in the derby falls on his shoulders.

“For me, the players are trying to do what the coach is asking them to do. I assume all the responsibility of this big loss,” he said. “I want to said my apologies to the fans who come to support the team. For me, the team I am coaching, things are improving.”

The Spanish coach is embarking on changing the club’s playing style and mentality but is yet to experience any joy from his project. The Wanderers are yet to win under Gombau, losing three of their four games and having scored just once.

“Today is a starting point and it’s not good but for sure the finish point will be good,” Gombau said.

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‘The court is not King Solomon,’ judge tells parents feuding over son’s body


For almost two months the body of a disabled teenager has remained with the State coroner in Newcastle while his family has waged a bitter war over what to do with his remains.
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Pono Aperahama died in tragic circumstances at Lambton swimming pool in Newcastle on October 17.

The 17-year-old had sustained severe head injuries in 2013 when he was hit by a car while riding his bike. He spent nine months in hospital and suffered ongoing health issues as a result of his injuries.

On his release from hospital Pono, who had been living with his grandmother, was placed into care with Challenge Community Services.

He was at the pool with his carer when he became erratic, striking out at the pool staff and repeatedly hitting his head against a brick wall.

He died in the ambulance on the way to John Hunter Hospital.

Almost immediately his family began fighting over whether he would be buried in New Zealand or cremated in Australia.

Pono’s mother Te Rina Abraham, who lives in New Zealand, wanted to bury her son there.

However, his father Steven Henry and sister Piki Aperahama wanted the body to be cremated in Sydney and the ashes to be divided equally between both parents.

Members of the family took to social media to air their grievances.

Two days after her brother’s death, 19-year-old Piki attacked her mother on Facebook. “You haven’t seen your son let alone any of your children in years and now you think you have a say? My brother is dead and still somehow my mother seems to make it about her, YOU WERE NOT THERE, my nana, papa and aunties raised me and the boys, they made sure we had a roof over our heads and were always fed.”

Her mother replied by text saying, “You f—ing lying little c— say you did everything for your brother and how much you love him while he lays here in Newcastle alone on ice.”

The feuding family took the matter to NSW Supreme Court.

“I have found this decision most difficult,” said Justice Stephen Rothman.

“The circumstances are tragic. The Court is not King Solomon. Whatever happens, one or other party will be disadvantaged,” he said in his judgment handed down earlier this week.

He noted both parents are New Zealanders whose son Pono was born in Sydney in January 2000.

His parents separated when he was three-months old and he lived with his mother.

However, at 8, Pono was removed from his mother and placed with her parents.

One of the major issues between the parents was a dispute over Maori culture.

His mother argued that Maori culture forbade cremation and that “a deceased must be buried so as to return the body to the earth from whence it came”.

Ms Abraham’s older sister, Maata Takiari, a liaison officer and secretary with the Maori Performing Arts Group in Brisbane, gave evidence on behalf of Pono’s father that although Maori tradition was to bury rather than cremate “it is not uncommon for Maori families to decide to cremate a body because it is cheaper than a burial,” she said in her affidavit.

Pono’s sister Piki testified that her brother did not have a strong connection with Maori culture or New Zealand, having been there only three times in his life.

Ms Aperahama told the court the family wanted a traditional Maori service in Penrith, lasting from three to five days, during which family and friends could come to pay their respects in accordance with traditional Maori practices.

Justice Rothman agreed with Ms Aperahama and her father and ordered that the body be released to them.

The judge also ordered that after the funeral service and the cremation, both parents were to receive half of the ashes.

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