UOW students celebrate diversity

UOW student Chloe Williams, sporting a Vanuatuan flag on her face, celebrates Global Highway with Spanish senorita Ines Bilbao, Californian girl Lauren Cole and Jose Trillo of Spain.. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI Ross Knight represents the UOW’s indigenous Australian students and Cindy Guevara is in El Salvadorian dress. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
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There were plenty of places to pull over on the Global Highway at the University of Wollongong yesterday.

Students used ‘‘passports’’ created for the event to check in at the 24 stalls which represented the countries of origin of students living in university accommodation around Wollongong.

They competed in a range of games and activities, from Chinese calligraphy, Vanuatuan sand-drawing and Thai napkin-folding through to the Aussie tradition of thong-throwing.

National costumes, music and dancing created a colourful, festive atmosphere which thousands of students revelled in throughout the day.

International House student and Global Highway co-ordinator James Walsh said the event was held each year to celebrate the diversity of students in UOW accommodation.

‘‘There are more countries than ever represented this year which shows the growing diversity of students living in our residences, as well as the students’ enthusiasm in sharing their cultural identities,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a fun and informative day which gives all the university’s students the opportunity to connect with a wide variety of international students and their cultures. And it demonstrates how great this university is that it draws people from all over the world.’’

Spanish students Jose Trillo and Ines Bilbao were among the international students only too happy to don their national dress and teach some Spanish phrases to fellow students.

‘‘I chose Wollongong University because it was in Australia which was as far from Spain as I could get. I wanted to travel so far from home because I wanted to experience new things,’’ said Mr Trillo, an engineering student. ‘‘And it’s been an amazing experience.’’

African Students’ Association president Brenda Amoro, in Kenyan dress, said she had followed in her sister’s footsteps in coming to the university.

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Keiraville school knocks back $50,000

Keiraville Public School principal David O’Connor. Picture: ADAM McLEANKeiraville Public School has been forced to reject $50,000 in government funds after withdrawing from the first round of the NSW government’s controversial education reforms.
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The school was one of 15 in the Illawarra to be awarded money through a federal-state government partnership in May, which meant it was one of the first 229 NSW schools to adopt the Local Schools, Local Decisions reforms.

The reforms give principals control over 70per cent of their school budgets and allow them to have more control over hiring and firing staff.

Keiraville was awarded $50,000 through the partnership, but due to a lack of support from teachers and parents, it withdrew from the program last term.

Principal David O’Connor declined to be interviewed but said in a statement he was keen to participate in the program but could do so only ‘‘with the majority support of the school community which included staff and parents’’.

‘‘While many in the school community were supportive of taking part, it was not possible to get the level of support required, and a decision was made to withdraw the school’s expression of interest,’’ he said.

‘‘The school may revisit making an application at a later time.’’

In March, Mr O’Connor said he was ‘‘philosophically’’ supportive of the reforms because it made sense ‘‘that the people who know the school and the students the best make those decisions about the direction of their learning’’.

NSW Teachers Federation regional organiser Nicole Calnan said many teachers, including those at Keiraville, were concerned the reforms would lead to teaching jobs being cut and school budgets being reduced.

She said teachers had not been given enough detail about the reforms, so they had ‘‘no choice but to withdraw their support’’.

Keiraville P&C president Jacqueline Sedgewicke said parents supported the teachers’ decision.

‘‘We have a very open and supportive relationship between the P&C and the teachers and the P&C supports the teachers in the approach they took, as we always have done. Their focus has always been on the best outcomes for our children,’’ she said.

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Council in a flap over widow’s flagpole

Enid Robinson from Mount Warrigal has been told to remove her flagpole or face fines of $1.1 million and $110,000 a day. Picture: GREG TOTMANShellharbour City Council has threatened to fine a Mount Warrigal widow more than $1 million if a flagpole in her backyard is not taken down.
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Enid Robinson, 77 (pictured), moved into her home in May and had her late husband Eddie’s beloved flagpole erected this month in time for what would have been his 80th birthday.

The nine-metre flagpole, which flies the Australian flag, had been in place at her two previous homes in the Shellharbour area and Enid said there had never been a problem before.

VOTE: Should Enid be allowed to keep the flagpole in her backyard?

‘‘We moved into The Boulevarde, Oak Flats, in 2004,’’ she said. ‘‘My husband loved flags and as soon as we moved to Oak Flats he put the flagpole up.’’

After Eddie died in 2009, Enid moved to Albion Park Rail and so did the flagpole.

She moved to her existing home in Reddall Parade, Mount Warrigal, in May.

‘‘We put it up on August 5 ready for what would have been Eddie’s 80th birthday on August 31,’’ Enid said.

‘‘My son put it up on the Sunday and on the Tuesday morning my doorbell went and there were two council workers and they wanted to have a look at the flag.

‘‘They measured from the back fence and they claimed it is 2 metres away when it should be three metres from the fence.

‘‘They left me a note about flagpoles, which says the maximum height allowed for a flagpole is six metres, and said I would be receiving a letter.

‘‘The council workers said I had to pull it down because there had been a complaint and because it is too high.’’

Last week Enid received the letter saying council was proposing to make an order requiring the removal of the flagpole.

They also requested removal of one of two smaller flagpoles, installed by a previous owner, as each lot was permitted to have just one flagpole.

Those two poles had already been removed, Enid said.

The letter said Enid had until September 5 to respond as to why the order should not be given.

Failure to comply would incur a maximum penalty of $1.1million and a further daily penalty of $110,000, the letter said.

‘‘I tell you that it has really upset me so much to think my flagpole has caused all this trouble after all these years.

‘‘A million dollars, plus $110,000 a day … it is like I am in a dream. It is a nightmare. It really has upset me.’’

Enid said she asked what she could do to keep the flagpole and was told she could put in a development application.

‘‘So I went to the council on Friday after I received the letter and said I was thinking of making an application, but I was told because this doesn’t happen very often they hadn’t decided what type of application I was to go for.

‘‘Apparently it costs around $1000 and there was no guarantee it would be approved.’’

By Wednesday this week Enid still had not heard back from the council. However, following Mercury inquiries council officers were quickly in touch with Enid.

She said the officer apologised for the letter and for her not being referred to the correct department, but Enid said the issue of approval remained.

Enid said her husband had been ‘‘a flag person’’.

‘‘He loved the flag and this has a lot of sentimental value for me.

‘‘He only died three years ago on July 11 and I still miss him something terrible. It is just a blow.

‘‘We were married when I was 17 and he was 19, we were married 57 years.

‘‘Whatever happens I will put in a six-metre flagpole to keep the memory of my husband going.’’

A Shellharbour City Council spokeswoman said the council responded to a complaint and advised Enid of the development code restrictions that applied to flagpoles on urban properties.

‘‘Council officers will continue to assist Mrs Robinson to undertake the correct process and to ensure the pole complies with regulations,’’ she said.

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Wharfies angered by asbestos discovery

Dock workers (back from left) Gareth Jones, Glen Heaton, Shane Burley, (front) Mark Westaway and Allan Cross worked with shipment of contaminated soil from Barangaroo for a week. Picture: MELANIE RUSSELLIllawarra wharfies responsible for handling the soil shipped from Barangaroo to Port Kembla say they feel betrayed after asbestos was found in the first shipment.
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The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) this week revoked developer Lend Lease’s permission to ship about 600,000 tonnes of soil to Port Kembla after a small amount of the deadly substance was spotted after it was unloaded.

But that was no comfort to angry dock workers who said they had been told the fill was clean and had spent almost a week handling the material without the proper protective clothing.

Unions yesterday imposed a ban on receiving any further shipments from Barangaroo or conducting any more work that involved handling the material until they were satisfied there were no health risks.

The Mercury spoke with stevedores who were angry at Lend Lease and worried about their own and their families’ safety.

‘‘We got told by them that … you don’t need to wear PPE [personal protective equipment] but on their side they were wearing PPE to send it down here,’’ stevedore Glen Heaton said.

‘‘It’s not just me that it’s going to affect. I’ve got relatives that come to my place, I’ve got kids that come to my place … and all the other boys that are going home to their kids.’’

Foreman Mark Westaway, 46, said he felt betrayed.

‘‘Seven days we’ve been working in the dust, coming out of the hopper, seven days before they decide to give us an induction on asbestos,’’ he said.

Maritime Union of Australia southern NSW branch secretary Garry Keane said workers were ‘‘absolutely filthy’’.

‘‘Even if [Lend Lease] had said ‘look, we’re pretty sure there’s no contamination but there’s a possibility so wear the protective gear’, I don’t think you would have had the level of animosity here today,’’ he said.

‘‘Instead they’ve said it’s safe, go to work, seven days after the event they’re now saying ‘go on forward to finish the job off, we’ll throw the proper protective gear into the equation’.’’

He emphasised that waterside workers were not upset with the Illawarra stevedoring company.

A Lend Lease spokesperson said that after a review of procedures it had agreed protective equipment should be worn by workers on the ship and on the wharf while the material was unloaded.

“Once again we would highlight we correctly followed the procedures that the EPA had approved, which include an unexpected finds procedure which has been implemented at Port Kembla,’’ he said.

‘‘The small quantum of fibro identified has been removed by a qualified hygienist in accordance with regulations. No airborne asbestos has been detected.”

Strong winds buffeted Port Kembla yesterday, including the area where the first 13,000 tonnes had been stockpiled.

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Barangaroo deal not a mistake: EPA

Soil shipped to Port Kembla that was contaminated with asbestos must be kept wet, and the air monitored. Picture: MELANIE RUSSELLThe NSW Environment Protection Authority has defended its handling of soil shipments from Barangaroo to Port Kembla after asbestos was found when the first ship arrived.
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EPA chairman Barry Buffier yesterday said it had not been a mistake to grant developer Lend Lease a resource recovery exemption to ship the soil to Port Kembla to use for land reclamation.

His comments came as the construction union accused Lend Lease of playing with workers’ lives.

MERCURY SAYS: Dumping on Gong won’t be tolerated

The bulk carrier CSL Pacific is still docked at Port Kembla and no further shipments will be allowed after 25 pieces of bonded asbestos were spotted as the first 15,000-tonne shipment was unloaded.

The discovery confirmed fears that contaminated soil would be shipped despite ‘‘stringent’’ tests.

The EPA quickly revoked the resource recovery exemption and ordered the soil to be kept wet and the air to be monitored.

‘‘I don’t believe it was a mistake to issue the exemption, but I am disappointed that some of the material has got through and that’s why we’ve stopped it,’’ Mr Buffier said yesterday.

‘‘These things are always based on judgment … but we did have in place a contingency if asbestos was found at Port Kembla, and we are now managing what’s there in a way that it won’t pose harm to the environment.

‘‘The simple fact of the matter is that taking the material from Barangaroo to Port Kembla is of benefit to Barangaroo and it’s also of benefit to Port Kembla in terms of the outer harbour development.’’

Mr Buffier met Lend Lease management in Sydney yesterday to discuss the way forward.

Shipments will only resume if the EPA is satisfied that a new licence should be issued.

Lend Lease said it had correctly followed the EPA-approved procedures.

‘‘We take the safety of our workers and subcontractors extremely seriously,’’ a spokesman said.

‘‘The screening measures that are in place at Barangaroo South are more stringent than is required under the resource recovery exemption, and the unexpected finds policy and procedures have all worked, and safely removed the identified fibro.’’

Screening measures included visual monitoring by qualified occupational hygienists and asbestos removal contractors. Air monitoring at the site and the ship indicated no airborne asbestos.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union state secretary Brian Parker said yesterday the find at Port Kembla suggested ‘‘major problems’’ with inspection processes at Barangaroo.

‘‘They should be treating it as contaminated soil, not as solid waste, and it should be dumped appropriately, where it’s put into a licensed pit, it’s buried in the ground where it’s not going to be resurfaced,’’ he said.

‘‘All they’re trying to do is save themselves a significant amount of money here.’’

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TAFE bosses ban talk by activist

West Wollongong TAFE fine arts students take their 18 Shades of Draper exhibition to the street after TAFE Illawarra Institute management banned media from attending. Picture: KIRK GILMOURIt has been nine years since Dave Burgess scrawled ‘‘No War’’ in crimson on the highest sail of the Sydney Opera House, but this week his plan to speak at the launch of an Illawarra TAFE art exhibition had institute officials seeing red.
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Burgess said he had been banned from addressing those attending yesterday’s official launch of 18 Shades of Draper, a show by a group of West Wollongong TAFE students. The media, too, were banned from attending by TAFE Illawarra Institute management.

Which is why, yesterday morning, most of the 18 artists involved moved their paintings to the pavement outside the West Wollongong campus for an impromptu media conference.

Save TAFE Illawarra spokeswoman and fine arts student Kate Morris, who has previously spoken to media about the effect of TAFE budget cuts on fine arts courses, said students were upset by management’s decisions.

‘‘We were given a brief by teachers to organise an exhibition, design invitations, generate press releases and invite a well-known artist to open the event – we did all that,’’ she said.

‘‘Then only this week I was pulled aside by the head of school and told that while Dave was allowed to come, he was banned from speaking at the launch. I was told that no media were allowed at the launch and that I was not to talk about TAFE cuts at the event.

‘‘It’s very disappointing after all the effort we’ve put in. We’ve worked so hard, despite the cutbacks, which have seen our technical assistance slashed, our life-model budget halved, and many other cuts to our services and supplies.’’

In a statement yesterday, TAFE Illawarra defended the decision to stop Burgess from speaking at the event.

‘‘A small group of students have used this opportunity to develop a media event for reasons other than recognising student work,’’ the statement said.

‘‘TAFE Illawarra was informed that the opening speech was to be used as a vehicle to discuss other issues rather than focusing on the students’ artworks.

‘‘TAFE Illawarra feels that this would not be appropriate and would overshadow all of the hard work put in by students who simply would like to showcase their works to family and friends.’’

Burgess said his activist days had started long before he scaled the country’s most famous icon on the eve of the Iraq invasion in 2003.

‘‘My activism in the mid-80s began in the face of TAFE cuts – but I’m not involved in the current proposed cuts to vocational training,’’ he said.

‘‘I really just wanted to encourage the students to keep going and celebrate their work and be aware of what’s happening around them.’’

The exhibition is at the Karoona Gallery at West Wollongong TAFE, where it will be on show until August 30.

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Pitbull savages family dog on Shellharbour beach

Jessica and Cathy Wagner with a photo of their Maltese terrier Teddy. Picture: GREG TOTMANA young woman collapsed screaming on the beach at Shellharbour this week as she watched her pet Maltese terrier savagely killed by another dog.
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Jessica Wagner, 21, was walking her family’s three dogs, including 12-year-old Teddy, on leads at Shellharbour South Beach on Tuesday evening.

She saw a family – a mother, father and a daughter aged about seven or eight – coming towards her from the area near the caravan park, with a dog on a lead.

The dog, which Ms Wagner said was a pitbull-type breed, started running towards her from about 50 metres away with the lead still attached.

‘‘It looked friendly and was sniffing around our dogs, but it took a turn and just grabbed Teddy,’’ she said.

‘‘It was horrible, I could hear Teddy squealing, it had his whole body in its mouth.

‘‘I was trying to get the dog off but it had such a lock on it.

‘‘The other family ran up, but the mum and dad stood back.

‘‘Their little girl tried to help, she was kicking at her dog to let go but her parents told her to ‘get away, get away’.

‘‘I threw the leads of my other two dogs to her but she ran away.

‘‘In the end their dog just ran off with our dog in its mouth like a rabbit. By then I was just on the ground distraught.

‘‘What do I do? Do I try and stop it or let him kill Teddy… he was beyond repair anyway.’’

Nearby, Shell Cove man Brett Rogers was in a car park preparing to go for a run when he heard screaming and ran to the scene.

‘‘I heard this commotion and saw these people running around and Jessica crouched over in tears,’’ Mr Rogers said.

‘‘I asked these people what had happened and they said ‘our dog attacked her dog’… the mother said the dog pulled the lead out of her hands.’’

The Good Samaritan asked the family to wait while he went looking for the Maltese terrier.

‘‘I found it dead on the sand and I went and told Jessica who was bawling her eyes out.

‘‘We turned around and the family had gone.’’

Ms Wagner said it was hard to understand that the people would just leave.

‘‘I am such a fair person, I can’t comprehend why they would just leave,’’ she said.

‘‘I remember the little girl was about seven or eight, we asked around but no-one knows who they were.

‘‘I am the biggest animal lover of all, but why would you have an aggressive dog like that especially with children?

‘‘These people just didn’t care.’’

Mr Rogers said he believed there was a problem with dogs in the vicinity of Shellharbour South Beach and he had seen a lot of dog fights in the area.

Ms Wagner’s mother Cathy said she had witnessed many dog owners in the area not taking responsibility.

‘‘My attitude is if you know your dog is going to be aggressive put it on the lead and avoid other dogs in the area,’’ she said.

She said there should be stronger controls for dangerous breeds and greater responsibility from owners.

The Wagners reported the incident to Lake Illawarra police and Shellharbour City Council.

A council spokeswoman said the council would work with police to investigate the incident and council rangers were patrolling the beach areas.

Any witnesses to the attack, or anyone who may know of the dog in question, are asked to contact Lake Illawarra Police on 4232 5599, Shellharbour council on 4221 6111 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Spread the rugby league dollars wide

What a week it’s been for rugby league news!
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Of all the things that have happened – a sacked coach, a rep coach appointed, a player retiring, some controversial judicial news – the biggest and most important was the new TV rights deal.

But now that the high-fiving and back-slapping is done, it’s time for the Australian Rugby League Commission to go public and explain how they’re going to distribute the money.

The $billion-plus figure has a nice ring to it, but what are they going to do with it?

They should be making a public statement or facing the media and announcing a fairly intricate breakdown of proposed spending.

I think the public who support rugby league and are involved in rugby league deserve as much.

There are 55,000 junior players in Australia.

What’s their financial breakdown?

I agree with everyone else that the players should be the first to be rewarded. If you’re the top person at your job, be it an athlete or an accountant, you deserve the top dollar.

So the big-name players should absolutely and deservedly get a pay rise as a result of all of this.

But we also have to look at the grassroots.

If I’m a junior player or administrator or parent or fan or whatever, I want to know exactly what is happening, where it’s happening and when it’s happening.

Getting over the billion-dollar mark is only half the job done. It’s now about how the commission implements that cash into all the different areas that need and want their slice of the pie.

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Wallabies under pressure ahead of Test

Only time will tell what head space the Wallabies are in for their must-win Bledisloe Cup clash at Eden Park tomorrow, but Quade Cooper’s bizarre media antics suggest the pressure on Australia to break rugby’s biggest hoodoo will only intensify before kick-off.
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The Wallabies are fighting to save their Rugby Championship ambitions and avoid a Bledisloe strike-out at a ground where they haven’t beaten the All Blacks in 26 years.

But as if that wasn’t more than enough to contend with, the Wallabies continued to cop it from all angles yesterday and even dished out a few curve balls of their own.

In a day of high drama, coach Robbie Deans admitted Kurtley Beale was battling confidence issues after dumping him from the starting team for Adam Ashley-Cooper amid a raft of changes.

Demoting such a star player for one bad game was a big and risky call.

Deans’ injury headaches continued with hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau forced out of the starting XV and in doubt for the match, with Scott Higginbotham also under a cloud.

Of course the most prominent news was Cooper’s return to the fold for the first time since he fizzled out at the same venue in Auckland at last year’s World Cup.

But 13 seconds and 26 words in front of the cameras was all the wisdom the recalled five-eighth wanted to offer before walking away from his press conference at Leichhardt Oval.

‘‘All I want to say is I’m back. I’m fit, healthy, I’m ready to go. And I’ll see everybody at Eden Park,’’ said Cooper before turning his back on the media.

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Warriors out on their own without McClennan

The New Zealand Warriors’ players will attempt to fix what sacked coach Brian McClennan couldn’t when they go about ending a six-game losing streak tomorrow.
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McClennan paid the ultimate penalty for a series of well-below-par performances when Warriors officials announced on Tuesday that the club would be immediately parting ways with the 50-year-old.

Facing a seventh consecutive loss against St George Illawarra tomorrow, halfback Shaun Johnson said it was vital that players took control of the situation.

‘‘I feel really sorry for him, and I think if you put all the results aside he was genuine about his job and loved his footy and did try his best,’’ Johnson said.

‘‘On behalf of the boys we don’t like to see the coach take a rap for the missed tackles we make or our poor decisions.

‘‘But it is footy and it’s all performance-based stuff so, if we’re not delivering, I guess someone has to go.’’

It’s been a long 11 months since the Warriors qualified for last year’s grand final under former coach Ivan Cleary.

Considered a strong top-four prospect in 2012, the New Zealand outfit has dropped back to 13th on the NRL ladder with a forgettable record of eight wins and 14 losses – one spot behind the Dragons (9-14).

They will soon start talks with a number of coaching options, including caretaker Tony Iro and departed Parramatta coach Steve Kearney.

Hooker Nathan Friend has been ruled out of tomorrow’s clash after dislocating his right shoulder.

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