One girl’s fight against child marriages in India

New Delhi: When Vijayalaxmi Sharma was 13 and heard that her best friend Meena was getting married, she wasn’t shocked. Every girl in Pachala village in Rajasthan where she lived got married at puberty.
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Vijaylaxmi attended the wedding and enjoyed dressing up for it. The shock came later when Meena became pregnant, developed complications, and died in childbirth, aged 14.

Her death set Sharma thinking and wondering if that might be her destiny too.

“All the girls in my extended family and all the girls in every village around here got married early,” Sharma told Fairfax Media this week. People here venerate parents who get their daughters married early because they have discharged their responsibility and have no tension.”

She wanted to avoid the same fate and wanted to continue studying. Her instincts were reinforced when some voluntary workers came to her school and explained the devastating consequences that child marriage can have for young girls: early motherhood can harm their physical growth, their mental and emotional development, and their health. Child marriage denies a girl her right to health, education and choice.

In some Indian states, including Rajasthan, almost six in 10 girls marry as children. Nationally, about half of Indian women are married before they turn 18 – the minimum legal age of marriage for boys and girls.

Poverty and ignorance are two reasons for child marriage. Another is a patriarchal culture that dictates that brides must be virgins. To ensure this, parents have to prevent daughters from dating and losing their virginity, bringing dishonour to the family, and the best way to do this is marry them off while they are still very young.

Sharma managed to avoid a child marriage and has campaigned to persuade parents in her own village and the surrounding ones not to marry their girls early.

This sole crusader, now 21, has been active in 13 villages, working with a small group of friends to spread awareness by going door to door, putting on street plays, and using puppet shows to project the message. She has managed to prevent around 50 child marriages.

But her first battle was with her own parents when she turned 14 and discovered that they were looking for a husband for her. The next few months were an ordeal. When she said she wanted to defer marriage until she had studied, her parents were dumbfounded. Girls in Rajasthan are not meant to voice their opinions. They are meant to obey.

If the girl is disobedient, the parents are mocked by neighbours. For her impudence, Sharma was locked up in a room without food or water. Her two younger brothers, who are fond of her, used to secretly share their food with her.

“My father said he was ashamed of me. He said I was the only girl in the village still unmarried. And it was true. I was the only one my age who wasn’t married,” she said.

The struggle lasted until her parents finally accepted that she was adamant. Moreover, she told them that she would finance her education herself without taking a penny from them. Sharma continued going to school and paid her fees by sewing clothes and giving tuition to other children.

In the initial stages of her campaign to persuade villagers of the ills of child marriage, she hit a wall. Because of her age, they didn’t take her seriously.

“If I don’t marry my daughter, are you prepared to take her on and look after her,” some asked. Others laughed when she told them her age and pushed her out of the house.

It was only when two things happened that the tide began slowly to turn. First, some members of a voluntary group from a nearby town began to lend her support. The fact that they were adults made villagers take Sharma more seriously.

Second, they saw her practical commitment to her cause: “I used to donate my clothes to girls whose parents were really poor. I used to ask the teacher to waive their fees so that girls could continue studying. When people began seeing that I wasn’t just saying ‘don’t marry your girls’ but also helping them practically, then attitudes began changing.”

Eventually her parents also threw their weight behind her. And then finally, the head of the village council – the sarpanch or headman – also lent his authority to her campaign. By now, in any case, villagers were a little nervous about her. This teenager with a low, gravelly, masculine voice, was capable of reporting a child marriage to the police the moment she got wind of the preparations.

“People became nervous about getting into trouble with the police,” she said. “That was another useful factor because under the law, no one can get married before the age of 18.”

Apart from the efforts of non-government organisations and individuals like Sharma, education and awareness have gradually been eroding child marriage. Many districts of Rajasthan, for example, have reported a decline in recent years.

Sharma, who went on to get a degree from Rajasthan University, is happy that she made her contribution. “Every time I felt disheartened, I used to picture Mamta in her wedding finery and her dead body a few months later.”

Will she ever get married? “Oh yes. If my parents supported me on this, that is the least I owe them now that I have finished my education,” she said. “I have promised them I will marry the man they choose for me.”

Fitzroy house price record smashed by nearly $1 million

Tap here for Saturday’s auction resultsTap here for the Market snapshotHouse of the Week: Colourful Fitzroy home embedded in historyGraeme Simsion selling his Fitzroy family homeDid Fitzroy just out-Fitzroy itself?
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Fitzroy’s house price record was shattered by almost $900,000 on Saturday, as a crowd of more than 200 watched in shock when a 163-year old year terrace sold dramatically under the hammer.

The previous suburb record is believed to be $4,011,000 for 17 Bell Street, Fitzroy, set last November.

The property at 43 Gore Street, owned by Madman Entertainment co-founder Paul Wiegard, last changed hands for $2.1 million in 2008, Domain Group data shows. Mr Wiegard spent about $2 million on a complete renovation in 2011.

The film industry entrepreneur is understood to be moving across the Yarra River to the other side of the city following the sale.

The average punter inspecting the house could have mistaken it for the set of the next season of The Block.

All three floors of the Victorian three-bedroom house were buzzing with people, who lined up just to get a peek at the rooms; some admiring the thoughtful and tasteful styling and renovation.

Bidding opened slowly at $4 million with a vendor bid by Kay and Burton auctioneer Gowan Stubbings, and rose mostly in $25,000 jumps.

Mr Stubbings went to check with Mr Wiegard for the second time when the bidding appeared to have run out of steam at $4.65 million. He came back outside only to return inside immediately again, after a shock knock-out bid of $4.8 million from the eventual buyer ??? putting the house on the market.

After a final attempt by one of the two other would-be buyers with a $10,000 rise, a second knock-out bid of $4.9 million sealed the deal.

The buyers were a young family with three children who presently live in the City of Boroondara, but interest had come from all over the world, including China, New Zealand, Germany, Singapore and the United States. More than 300 people had inspected the property throughout the campaign, according to listing agent Darren Lewenberg.

“We knew we had an amazing home, we knew we had depth in the market, people who wanted to own it; the unknown was in terms of what the result was,” Mr Lewenberg said. “They took a couple of years of painstaking research and speaking to designers and architects to get it to this level.”

“Buyers ??? local, national and overseas ??? not only inquired but also visited the home.”

Prominent surgeon Thomas Embling built the terrace in 1854 as his home and practice.

Gore Street is home of some of Fitzroy most significant sales, including the former home of comedian Hamish Blake and author of international bestseller The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion. The author and wife, Anne Buist, recently sold their Fitzroy home for an undisclosed price close to $4 million.

Meanwhile in Albert Park, an original two-bedroom house on just 164-square metres sold under the hammer for $1.38 million, $100,000 above reserve.

Three hopeful buyers competed for the period cottage at 172 Danks Street, which was part of a deceased estate and had been in the same family for decades.

Abercromby’s auctioneer Mark Williams opened the bidding at $1.2 million and the house, just one block from the beach, was declared on the market at $1,285,000. A family with plans to renovate trumped their competition to win the keys.

Klemmer requests release from Bulldogs contract

Canterbury’s best forward could be on his way out of the club, with NSW Origin and Test prop David Klemmer requesting a release from his deal at the Bulldogs.
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In a huge blow to Canterbury’s future aspirations, it appears Klemmer could be on his way out of Belmore at the end of the season after seeking a release from the final three years of his contract.

Fairfax Media understands at the heart of Klemmer’s frustrations is a perception he has been left short-changed after the club failed to commit to a number of financial arrangements previously agreed upon.

The club is trying to make sure Klemmer is compensated for the deal coming undone, but he is no guarantee to be at the Bulldogs next year.

It is also understood Klemmer’s future as a starting player at the Bulldogs has recently been questioned by the club, who had been considering shifting the international forward to the bench next year to accommodate the arrival of Aaron Woods alongside Aiden Tolman and James Graham in the run-on 13.

Klemmer is considered one of the best forwards in the NRL and would not have any trouble landing a deal for 2018 and beyond if the Bulldogs are unable to keep him satisfied.

Wests Tigers showed interest in luring the 23-year-old the last time he was off contract and Klemmer would be a handy pick-up for the joint venture to go with the acquisition of Russell Packer and Ben Matulino in a new-look forward pack at the club next season.

While Klemmer’s departure would cruel the prop of the chance to play alongside close friend Woods, Klemmer is very close to Josh Reynolds, who will leave the Bulldogs at the end of the season bound for the Tigers.

It is understood Klemmer was disappointed the club did not do more to keep Reynolds, who is regarded as the heart and soul of the Canterbury outfit.

Woods and Reynolds will be in Klemmer’s bridal party when he gets married to the mother of his three children after this year’s World Cup at the end of the season.

Canterbury have massive salary cap constraints for next season and are already expected to part ways with Sam Kasiano and Greg Eastwood at the end of the year to make room for Woods and Kieran Foran.

Graham, who has been linked with a move to Newcastle after reports the Bulldogs captain had been shopped around, is now likely to remain at the club – especially if Klemmer departs at the end of the season.

The Bulldogs this week extended the contract of fullback Will Hopoate for another three seasons, the former NSW representative agreeing to play games on Sundays despite a desire to sit out matches on the sabbath because of his religious beliefs.

If Klemmer is granted a release, it would go a long way to alleviating Canterbury’s salary cap concerns for next year, with only hooker Michael Lichaa among the high-profile off contract players at the end of this year.

Klemmer was arguably NSW’s second best forward behind Blues prop Andrew Fifita in the opening game of the State of Origin series on Wednesday night, proving why he is held in such high regard by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga.

The All Saints Toongabbie Tigers junior made his NRL debut in 2013, graduating from the Bulldogs’ under-20s team where he was crowned the competition’s most valuable player in 2012.

He has played for his state on seven occasions and represented in nine matches since making his debut for the Kangaroos as a 20-year-old in 2014.

Your guide to the Hunter’s music, movies and theatre

GIG OF THE WEEK: Brisbane punk lads Dune Rats are headlining the party at the Cambridge Hotel on Friday.MUSIC5 Sawyers Friday, AK Morris.
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48 Watt Street Saturday-Sunday, Sarah Blasko,Cameron Avery,Fraser A. Gorman.

Albion Hotel SingletonFriday, Lee Rolfe.

Anna Bay TavernSaturday, Witchery.

Hotel CessnockSaturday, Duplexity.

Bar Petite Friday, Nano M. Saturday, Emmy Rose. Sunday, The Coconut Trio.

Battlesticks BarThursday,Richard Walker.Friday,Little Cents.Saturday,John Larder.Sunday,Wesley’s Edge.

Bay Hotel Saturday, Gen-X.

Beach Hotel Friday, Tom Blake. Saturday, The Lamplighters.

Belmont 16sFriday, Bobby C, Rave On. Saturday, The Years.

Beresfield Bowling Club Friday, Loko. Saturday, Gen-R-8. Sunday, Red Dirt Country Band.

The Bradford Friday, The Way. Saturday, Acoustic Mayhem. Sunday, Michael Passfield.

Burwood Inn Friday, Jess Holland. Saturday, Timmy Coffey.

Cambridge Hotel Friday, Dune Rats, Tired Lion, Pandamic (Glass House), The Hard Aches, The Football Club, Muncie Girls (UK) (Warehouse). Saturday, REMI, Sampa The Great. Sunday, Dustin Tebbutt & Lisa Mitchell, Alex The Astronaut.

Cardiff RSL Club Friday, Dos Eager. Saturday, 4 Letter Word.

Carrington Place Thursday,The Frenchman Street Jazz Band.

Catho PubSaturday, Lee Rolfe.Sunday, Shivoo.

Central Charlestown Leagues Club Friday, Hayden Johns. Saturday, Gareth Hudson.

Central HotelStroudSaturday, Helen O’Dee.

Cessnock Leagues ClubSaturday, Rendezvous.

Charlestown Bowling Club Friday, Mick Jones. Saturday, Joel Oakhill.

Clarendon Hotel Friday, Phil McKnight.

Club KotaraSaturday, Love That Hat.

Club LemonTree Friday, Norm Bakker. Saturday, Solid Gold Party.

Club Maitland City Friday, Chad Shuttleworth.

Commercial HotelBoolarooFriday,Darren Rolling Keys.

Commercial Hotel MorpethFriday, Reg Sinclair.

The CommonsFriday, Emma Davis.

Country Club HotelFriday, Amber Lawrence &Aleyce Simmonds, Press Play. Saturday,Bryen & The Bayou Boogie Boys, Sandra Humphries, Dola. Sunday,Kinder Danny & Eclipse.

Criterion Hotel Carrington Saturday, Roxy. Sunday, Zane Penn.

Criterion Hotel WestonFriday, Snow Party.Saturday, The Zillers.

Customs HouseFriday, Ben Travis. Saturday, Anyerin. Sunday, Bonny Rai.

Denman HotelSunday, Layth Gunn.

Duke Of WellingtonFriday,Dave Carter.Saturday, Redline.

East Maitland Bowling ClubFriday, Loose Bazooka. Saturday,The Fedz. Sunday,Roxy.

Edgeworth Bowling Club Sunday, Boney Rivers.

The Edwards Friday, James Bennett.

Erringhi HotelSaturday, Angel Gear.

Exchange Hotel Friday, 4 Letter Word. Saturday, Alias.

Family Hotel MaitlandFriday, Tim Broadway.

Finnegans Saturday, Zannon Lionette, Kidd Kaos.

FogHorn Brewhouse Friday, Marissa. Saturday, Jacob & Laura.

Gallipoli Legion ClubThursday,Fish Fry.

Gateshead TavernFriday, Paul Watters.Sunday, Kevin O’Hara.

George Tavern Friday, Matt McLaren. Saturday, Tre Soul.

Grain StoreSaturday,LoganWolfgang.Sunday,JJ King.

Grand Hotel Tuesday, A Final Recital.

Grand Junction Hotel Thursday, DJ Jakesy. Saturday, Autumn Hearts, Lennie Tranter & The Bagism Revelation. Sunday, Fish Fry & Pow Wow.

Great Northern Hotel Teralba Saturday, Ashley Knight.

Greenroof Hotel Friday, Beau Hatch. Saturday, Matt McLaren.

Gunyah Hotel Saturday, Alias. Sunday, Loko.

​Hamilton Station Hotel Friday, The Grounds, Rangers of the Universe, The Culture Industry.Sunday,Brock Henry, Lachlan X. Morris, Bofolk Ballico.

Harrigan’s Pokolbin Friday, Gen-R-8. Saturday, Tim Rossington, Sundays Record. Sunday, Grant Walmsley Trio.

Honeysuckle Hotel Sunday, Whispering Jack –John Farnham tribute.

Hotel Delany Friday, Gen-X. Saturday, Big Night Out. Sunday, Sean Andrews.

Hotel Jesmond Friday, Ryan Daley.

The Junction Hotel Friday,Tim Rossington. Saturday,Kylie Jane.

Kent Hotel Friday, Triple Zero. Saturday, The V-Dubs. Sunday, Christina Crofts Blues Band.

King Street Hotel Friday, Dillytek, Dexi.

Lake Macquarie Tavern Friday, Beth Gleeson.

Lake Macquarie Yacht ClubSunday, David McCredie.

Lambton Park Hotel Friday, Bucko.

Lass O’GowrieThursday,The Pits,Borneo,Kristian Dooley.Friday,Family Dog,East Coast Swag,The Know Goods,E4444e. Saturday, Bin Juice, The Treehouse Children, Cosmic Spice, Stranger Than Friends, Nelipot, Southern End, Arcades and Lions, Sister Rosicky, Oilbaron. Sunday,Lincoln le Fevre, Amy Vee, Scott Spencer.

Lizotte’sFriday, Dragon, Dexter Moore. Saturday,All Our Exes Live in Texas. Sunday, Killer Queen.

Lucky Hotel Friday, Kylie Jane. Saturday, Howie & Alex. Sunday, Matt McLaren.

Maitland Leagues ClubFriday,Kieran Wicks. Saturday, Gavin Scott.Sunday,National Music Academy Students.

Mark HotelSaturday, Snape Trilogy.Sunday, The V-Dubs.

Mary Ellen Friday,Arley and I. Saturday,Band Of Burds. Sunday,Ben Travis.

Mavericks On The BayFriday, Karen O’Shea. Saturday, Troy Kemp. Sunday, Mick Jones.

Mavericks On DarbyFriday,ToddSchmoo. Saturday,Arley and I.

Mayfield Ex-Services ClubFriday, Brazillian Brothers Duo.

Metropolitan Hotel Maitland Sunday, Leeroy & The Rats.

Mezz BarFriday,Motown Magic. Saturday,Incognito.Sunday,Melbourne Street.

Morisset Country ClubSunday, Jamie Martens.

Muree Golf ClubFriday, Kelly Hope.

Murray’s Brewery Saturday, Tom Blake. Sunday, Grant Walmsley Freebird & Friends.

Nag’s Head Hotel Saturday, Blues Bombers.

Neath Hotel Saturday, Jason Ray.

Nelson Bay Bowling ClubSunday, Cash Walkin The Line.

Nelson Bay Diggers Friday, Jade & Willow.Saturday, Viper Creek Band, Kristy James, The Mokos. Sunday,DJsKevin & Maria Easy, Kim MacKenzie.

Newcastle Leagues Club–The Vault Friday,Tempest Rising,Lycanthrope,Moustache Ant,Corotted,Final Form.

Northern Star HotelFriday,Sarah Christine. Saturday,Little Cents.

Pedens CessnockFriday, Kristy James.Saturday, Viagro.

Pippis At The PointFriday, Bonny Rai, Bandditts.Saturday, Phonic.Sunday, Matt McLaren.

Potters Brewery Friday, Joel Oakhill.

The PourhouseSaturday, Bonny Rai.

Premier Hotel Saturday,Jamie Martens. Sunday,The Years.

Prince of Wales HotelFriday, Bucko. Saturday, Ngariki.

Queens Wharf Hotel Friday, Tre Soul. Saturday, Jason Bone, Dean Kyrwood. Sunday, DV8.

Raymond Terrace Bowling Club Sunday, Joel Oakhill.

Royal Federal HotelBranxton Saturday, StateFX.

Royal Hotel SingletonSunday, Witchery.

Royal Motor Yacht Club TorontoFriday, Brenton Williams.Sunday, The Leadbellies.

Rutherford Hotel Saturday, Loren Ryan.

Salamander Shores Friday, Code Red.Saturday, Mick Jones.

Seabreeze HotelFriday, Counterpart.Sunday,Arna Georgia,Dos Eager.

Shenanigans at the ImperialFriday,Zac & Ben.Saturday,Greg Bryce.Sunday,Sarah Christine.

Shortland Hotel Friday, Greg Bryce. Saturday, Zane Penn.

Singleton DiggersSunday, Frets With Benefits.Sunday, Lennie & Carter.

Small Ballroom Thursday, Xenocidal Warpath, Aversions Crown,Boris The Blade, Alpha Wolf. Saturday, Clowns,Night Birds(USA),RortMenace,Wavevom.

Soldiers Point Bowling Club Sunday, Beccy Cole.

Souths Leagues Club Saturday, Boney Rivers.

Spinning Wheel Hotel Friday, Big Pete.

Stag & Hunter Hotel Thursday, Double Up Lounge.Friday,Marshall O’Kell. Saturday, Muzzy Pep, E4444e. Sunday,Alby Pool & No City Limits.

Star Hotel Friday, Spank N The Monkey.Sunday, Bruce Mathiske.

Station Hotel Kurri Kurri Saturday, Extreme Mobile Entertainment.

Stockton Bowling Club Friday, Saturday, Kevin O’Hara.

Stockton RSLClub Saturday, The Rattlesnakes.

Swansea Hotel Sunday, Todd Schmoo.

Swansea RSLClub Saturday, Sisters From Different Mr’s.

Sydney Junction Hotel Sunday, Codi Kaye.

Tanilba Bay Golf ClubFriday, Mark Lee.

Tea Gardens Country ClubSaturday, Pat Vs Cat.

Tea Gardens Hotel Saturday, Robbie T.

Telarah Bowling ClubSunday, Max Jackson.

Tilligerry RSLFriday, Frets With Benefits.Saturday, Jacob Ridgeway Duo, The Bush Happy Band, Whiskey Business.

Toronto Diggers Saturday, 40 Up Club.

Toronto HotelFriday, Frick N Orson.

Toronto Workers Saturday, Rock Factor. Sunday, Pistol Pete.

Town Hall Hotel Saturday, Kevin O’Hara.

Unorthodox Church of Groove Saturday, Bandaluzia Flamenco, Rosalie Cocchiaro,ChachyPenalver.

Victoria Hotel Hinton Friday, Mardy Leith. Saturday, Pistol Pete. Sunday, Troy Kemp.

Wangi HotelSaturday, James Naldo.

Wangi Wangi RSLClub Saturday, Rock The Mic. Sunday, Ben Woodham. Tuesday,Brian Larenze.

Warners At The Bay Friday, Troy Kemp. Saturday, Mardmax.

Wests Cardiff Saturday, Jungle Kings.

Wests New LambtonThursday, Angamus. Friday, Rubber Bullet. Saturday, The Smarts. Tuesday, Angamus.

Wickham Park HotelFriday,Shivoo.Saturday,Phoenix Pritchard,The Porkers,Local Resident Failure,Bad Luck Kitty.Sunday,Kenny Jewell,Steve Edmonds.

Windale-Gateshead Bowling Club Friday, Wayne & The Wanderers.

MOVIES20thCentury Women(M) The story of three women who explore love and freedom in southern California during the late 1970s. (Tower)

A Dog’s Purpose(PG) A dog looks to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners.

A Royal Night Out (M) On V.E. Day in 1945, as peace extends across Europe, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret are allowed out to join the celebrations. It is a night full of excitement, danger and the first flutters of romance. (Regal)

A Street Cat Named Bob (PG) Based on the international best selling book. The true feel good story of how James Bowen, a busker and recovering drug addict, had his life transformed when he met a stray ginger cat. (Regal)

And Now For Something Completely Different (PG) An collection of the best sketches from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. (Regal)

Baywatch(M)Follows devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchannon as he butts heads with a brash new recruit. Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.

Churchill (M)A ticking-clock thriller following Winston Churchill in the 24 hours before D-Day. (Tower)

Diary of a Whimpy Kid: The Long Haul (PG)Greg convinces his family to take a road trip to attend his great grandmother’s 90th birthday as a cover for what he really wants: to attend a nearby gamer convention.

Denial(PG)Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt must battle for historical truth to prove the Holocaust actually occurred when David Irving, a renowned denier, sues her for libel. (Regal)

Don’t Tell(M)The story of a young woman who fought back after enduring sexual abuse at a prestigious private school.

Edward Scissorhands (PG)A gothic fairytale about the ultimate outsider: a half-finished artificial man with scissors for hands. (Tower)

Get Out(MA) A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2(M)The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together.

John Wick: Chapter 2(MA)After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword(M)Robbed of his birthright, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.

My Cousin Rachel (PG)A young Englishman plots revenge against his mysterious, beautiful cousin, believing that she murdered his guardian. (Tower)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales(M) Capt. Jack Sparrow feels the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost sailors led by his old nemesis, the evil Capt. Salazar, escape from the Devil’s Triangle.

Resident Evil: Vendetta (MA)Tasked with capturing a notorious weapons trafficker,Chris Redfield of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance storms a mysterious mansion backed up by a crack team. (Event, Glendale)

Snatched(MA 15+)A young woman persuades her ultra-cautious mother to travel with her to paradise.

The Mummy (M)An ancient princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.

The Shack (M) After suffering a family tragedy, Mack Phillips spirals into a deep depression causing him to question his innermost beliefs. (Event, Kotara)

The Spy Who Loved Me (M) James Bond investigates the hijacking of British and Russian submarines carrying nuclear warheads with the help of a KGB agent whose lover he killed. (Regal)

The Zookeeper’s Wife (M)The story ofJan and Antonina Zabinski, thekeepers of the Warsaw Zoo,who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the Nazi invasion. (Lake Cinema)

Their Finest (M) A British film crew attempts to boost morale during World War II by making a propaganda film after the Blitzkrieg.

Viceroy’s House(PG)Lord Mountbattenis tasked with overseeing the transition of British India to independence.

Wonder Woman(M)An Amazon princess leaves her island home to explore the world and, in doing so, becomes one of the world’s greatest heroes.

THEATREA Little Murder Never Hurt AnybodyA man’s New Year resolution to murder his wifehas her declaring that he won’t, with a mad year following; zany comedy by Ron Bernas.Newcastle Theatre Company, Lambton. Wednesday, FridayandSaturday at 8pm, until June 17; plus 2pm on Saturday, June 10.

ChicagoA woman who shoots her boyfriend when he walks out on her uses a trial topromote her show business ambitions; lively jazz age musical. Novocastrian Players andTheatre on Brunker, at St Stephen’s Hall, Adamstown. Friday and Saturday, dinner and show7pm, show only 8pm, until June 24, plus Sunday at 2pm andWednesday, June 21, at7pm.

Don GiovanniBrisk and amusing Mozart opera, with the womanising title charactercontinually eluding their menfolk; n premiere of new translation by Jeremy Sams.Opera Hunter, at Lake Macquarie Performing Arts Centre, Warners Bay. Wednesday and Friday, at 7.30pm, and Saturday and Sunday, at 2pm, until June25.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival RoadshowLively mix of n andinternational stand-up comedians. Cessnock Performing Arts Centre on Thursday, at 8pm,and the Civic Theatre, Newcastle, nightly from Friday to Sunday, at 8pm.

Pantseat Sings: Mickey and Me – The Songs of DisneyBright songs from classic Disneyfilms and stage shows. WEA Hall, Cooks Hill. Saturday, at 4pm.

RumoursA 10th wedding anniversary party goes awry when friends arrive to find thepolitician husband with a gun wound and his wife missing; comedy by Neil Simon.Newcastle G and S Players Comedy Club, at St Matthew’s Anglican Church Hall,Georgetown. Dinner show performances on Friday, June 16, Saturdays 10 and 17, andSunday, June 11, with meal at 7pm; show only matinee on Sunday, June 11, at 2pm.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie BrownBright musical with the Peanuts comic children andpet dog, Snoopy, and Charlie Brown seeking a girlfriend. Young People’s Theatre, at itsHamilton theatre. Fridays, June 9 and 23, at 7pm; Saturdays, June 10 and 24, at 2pm and7pm, Sundays, June 11 and 18, at 2pm, and Wednesdays, June 14 and 21, at 7pm.

Grieving family seeks changes in mental health system

COMFORT: David Sessions, Jenny Allen, and Michael Sessions read a condolence card, on the death of their brother, Bernie Sessions. Bernie Sessions was never one to talk a lot. But his life and losshave in themselves become a powerful voice in calling for a greaterfocus onmental health.
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Bernie Sessions was widely known as The Man in the Doorway, as he sat outside his unit beside Maitland Road in Mayfield, greeting passers-by. Bernie Sessions died last week. His sister, Jenny Allen, said her older brother had been battling paranoid schizophrenia and took his own life.

The doorway that was the domain of the Mayfield identity has become a shrine, filled with flowersand words of sympathy and comfort. The Sessions family has been absorbingthose words.

“Fly high. Give us one last wave on your way,” MrsAllen read out from one note.

Jenny Allen reads a note of condolences placed at the doorway where her brother, Bernie Sessions, used to sit. Picture: Simone De Peak

While many have been moved by the death of the Man in the Doorway, there are also questions about what could have been done to helpBernieSessions. Jenny Allen said just twodays before her brother’s death, she and her mother had sought help from local mental health services but were turned away, being told he was not sick enough.

“It makes you wonder how many people with schizophrenia take their lives and they just disappear, and their family grieves but no one else knows,” said David Sessions.

Rob Ramjan, the CEO of supportorganisation One Door Mental Health, said he heard “all too often” stories such as Bernie Sessions’.

“We should be looking at prevention, rehabilitation, recovery in the community, not waiting until people need admission to hospital,” Mr Ramjansaid.

“It’s the only area of health that I know of where rehabilitation doesn’t commence at first contact or first consciousness; rehabilitation is an afterthought, if it’s ever a thought.”

Among those paying respects at the doorway was Allan. He said members of his family had experienced serious mental health issues.“The more we talk about it, the more people in high places willlisten,” he said.

Hunter New England Mental Health Service executive director, Dr Marcia Fogarty,said while she couldn’t provide specific details, the service would review “the circumstances surrounding Mr Sessions’ deathand look into any issues about his care”.

Jenny Allen said she had been invited to participate in the investigation of her brother’s case and see “where things can improve”. She is also waiting to speak with a representative of theNSW Minister for Mental Health, Tanya Davies.

“It’s trying to bring change to legislation, and to the policies and procedures around mental health help,” Mrs Allensaid. “We should not turn people away who need help.”

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Lachlan X. Morris making dad rock cool

OLD-FASHIONED SOUL: Lachlan X. Morris’ album Ouija Board Heartbreak Tambourine shows maturity beyond his years.LACHLAN X. Morris has never been one to chase trends or the latest fads in music.
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After all he began his music career at 16 playing in Chicago blues band The Navigators at pubs like The Wicko and Lass O’Gowrie, where hisbiggest fans were men old enough to be hisfather. Eight years on, Morrisis still producing music that appeals well beyond his 24 years.

On Monday the Newcastle singer-songwriterreleased his debut albumOuija Board Heartbreak Tambourine,a collection of 14 Americana and folk-rock songs. If you feel pangs of nostalgia, don’t be surprised.Morriswears his The Beatles, ELO and Wilco influences on his sleeve and in his arrangements.

“I got a bit cynical and jaded about current music and I was going through one of those grumpy old man phases,” Morris said. “Nothing was really exciting me and you can’t help but look back at some of those great records you grew up with from your parents or you just heard through your own research.”

Many of thesongs had been swirling around Morris’ head for the past two years and in order to realise his envisioned sound, he called on the assistanceof 22 other Newcastle musicians. The result is mature and lush arrangementsfull of trumpet, violin, cello, double bass, harmonies and even sitar on the closing title track.

“It feels really good to have stuck to my guns and all the arrangementsthat were in my head when I was writing them,” he said. “To have the finished product pretty much exactly like I wanted in my head, is always good.”

Lachlan X. Morris – WeightlessnessThe Americana on Ouija Board Heartbreak Tambourine is far removed from Morris’ former band The Guppies. The punk-garage two-piece enjoyed reasonable success four years ago, receiving airplay on Triple J andsupporting major acts Birds Of Tokyo and The Rubens on their east coast tours.

However, the former Lambton High student’s musical aspirations eventually outgrew The Guppies.

“I didn’t really want to be pigeon-holed just doing punk music,” he said. “I started doing solo stuff where I didn’t have a box to be put in.It was a great learning curve.”

Morris’ 2015 EP Resurrector provided glimpsesinto his songwriting talent, but it never came close to the ambition ofOuija Board Heartbreak Tambourine, where every song examines a differenttopic.

“It’s tackling something I need to talk about, whether it’s a past relationship, a social anxiety or my future situation,” he said.

“It’s as schizophrenic asthe topic of the songs are. Nothing really stays in the one theme for too long. There’s also heartbreak tied up in the album and tambourine on almost every track.”

Lachlan X. Morris performsat The Commons in Hamilton on July 7.

After Cahill, is Juric the Socceroos’ next goal man?

It’s all about goals. For years could rely on proven top performers like Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Mark Bresciano, John Aloisi and Tim Cahill to deliver.
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But that is in the past.

The Socceroos haven’t unearthed strikers of their ilk since they all – save for Cahill – bowed out of the international game several years ago.

But the fact that the latter is still in the national team at the age of 37 could be seen as an indictment of the following generations.

have scored 11 goals in seven games in the current phase of World Cup qualifying.

That’s worse than Thursday night’s opponents, Saudi Arabia (13) while Japan, who top the table, who have scored 14 goals.

Admittedly the Socceroos have played more games away from home and in normal circumstances might regard the final match, against Thailand, as an opportunity to fill their boots.

But they have to get results against the Saudis on Thursday night and in Japan later this year to ensure that game with the Thais still is relevant.

So who is going to do the business against the men from the Middle East?

Step forward big Tomi Juric, the man in the number nine shirt, the focal point of the attack.

Can the Swiss-based striker who, at 26, has matured and sharpened as a player, become ‘s key man in front of goal?

His season with Luzern has finished and he comes into camp in in good form, having scored four times in his last five games to help them make the qualifying rounds for next season’s Europa League.

More to the point, the tall striker believes his game has gone to a higher level after a strong second half to the season, with an improved work rate and game sense ensuring he can make a bigger contribution.

“The second half of the season has been much better for me,” says Juric.

“I am really happy with the way its gone, especially these last couple of months. Looking at my stats, I played 30-35 games this year and I haven’t done that in a season in my career. That’s really one big plus for me.

“My stats in my numbers for running in each game, you could compare them to a pretty high level of football. I have improved in that aspect.

“These last few months, I really bought into how the coach has been telling me just to stay consistent.

“I have had one or two off games this second half of the season. I feel I have really been able to help the team a fair bit up front, just keeping balls that get lost.”

Juric knows that there is a weight of expectation on him. There always is for the man with the number nine shirt.

“I have expectations of myself,” he said. “You cherish every moment with the national team. It could be your last. You always want to make sure if you go out with no regrets.”

While Mathew Leckie and Jackson Irvine have scored from open play in recent matches the Socceroos have relied more than might be considered comfortable on goals coming from set pieces or penalties during this qualifying campaign.

Juric, however, does not see that as a negative.

“From the outside you would think something like that but I don’t really feel pressure because if we didn’t have any goals around the whole park, left wing, right wing, centre backs, whatever, then it would put a lot of pressure on me.

“But I know I need to be scoring. It’s down to the whole mentality of how you approach things.”

MEN ON A MISSION

Where the goals might come from:

Juric – in form, confident and ready to step up.

Aaron Mooy – midfielder who is always effective from distance or set pieces.

Mile Jedinak – penalty taker.

Robbie Kruse – skilful player, but lacking in game time and match fitness after leaving Chinese club

Mathew Leckie – goals in recent matches will have built his confidence

Jamie Maclaren – prolific in the A-League, inexperienced at international level

Tom Rogic – quality midfielder with a fine goalscoring touch for Celtic at club level

Jackson Irvine – dynamic box-to-box midfielder with the knack of getting on the end of crosses.

Ajdin Hrustic – young winger getting his first taste of senior international action.

Massimo Luongo – hard-working midfielder who occasionally pops up with a goal

Tim Cahill – great weapon to have on the bench, deadly in air.

Newcastle Council senior staffer Glen Cousins sacked

ANOTHER senior Newcastle City Council stafferhas been squeezed out.
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Glen Cousins, the head of the council’s corporate services department, had his contract terminated on Friday, the third senior staff member to leave the council since April.

In a memo sent out on Friday afternoon, the council’s new interim chief executive Jeremy Bath revealed Mr Cousins would have his contract terminated as part of a “restructure” of the organisation.

While his position will still exist, a number of departments including human resources and communications will now report directly to Mr Bath.

It comes less than two months after another appointment from the Jeff McCloy era – legal services boss Frank Giordano – also left the council. Frank Cordingley, another member of the senior staff, retired in April.

But the circumstances behind Mr Cousins’s departure have left some councillors furious.

Under section 332 of the Local Government Act, the senior staff positions within a council – and the roles and reporting lines of staff – are determined by a council “after consulting the general manager”.

Liberal councillor Brad Luke said there had been no consultation with the council about the move, and said having human resources reporting to the general manager of the council was a “governance issue”.

“I’m very concerned because if there is a restructure of council under the Act it must be set by the council as a body, not by the general manager,” he said.

“I understand he does not have the power to do this and I would be very concerned about whether they’ve breached the Act.”

But Mr Bath said the change in reporting lines “has no impact on the roles, size or composition of those business units affected by the change, except for Mr Cousins exiting the organisation under the terms of his contract”.

He said that under section 335 of the Act, he was charged with “the day-to-day management of the council in accordance with the strategic plans, programs, strategies and policies of the council”.

He believed having human resources report to him would mean he was “able to deliver the day-to-day management of the organisation more effectively and more productively”.

Mr Cousins departure is another flashpoint in the tension between Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and some senior staff members.

Along with Mr Giordano and former general manager Ken Gouldthorp –two other McCloy-era hires – it’s understood Mr Cousins had been at odds with Cr Nelmes.

He did not return calls for comment.

In March, he earned the mayor’s ire in a confidential council meeting after an investigation into the process surrounding the recruitment of a new chief executive – Mr Bath – was extended to include Labor councillor DeclanClausen.

The Newcastle Herald understands Mr Cousins was targeted by Cr Nelmes during the meeting because he asked Mr Giordano toseeklegal advice about a possible code of conduct breach by CrClausen.

Mr Bath and Cr Clausen both worked at Hunter Water in the same period, but Cr Clausen has played down the significance of his professional relationship with Mr Bath.

But Cr Nelmes is not the first lord mayor to look to move on staff she did not see eye to eye with.

Last week during a private function at which he did little to water down talk that he’s considering another run at lord mayor, Jeff McCloy admitted thatformergeneral manager Phil Pearce “didn’t last long” after he came into the job because, he said, “it was either me or him”. Mr Pearce quit in early 2013.

“Nice guy of course, but he was there to retire, not to change the city,” Mr McCloy said at the function.

Curry and Durant shine brightest to leave LeBron in shade

Game 2: As it happened
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OAKLAND: If anyone needs LeBron James, he will be in his trailer. Actually, he will be at his locker.

On Sunday night, in game two of the NBA finals, James finished with typical numbers: 29 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists. And Cleveland still lost 132-113 to Golden State.

Afterwards, he refused to attend the main media conference – the podium, as they call it here – and instead spoke to a handful of reporters in the locker-room long after delirious Warriors fans had streamed out of Oracle Arena.

When one reporter suggested he was a “podium guy”, he fired back: “Yeah, there’s a reason ??? It has nothing to do with wins and losses, though.”

He’d already been snappy with the media.

Reporter: “LeBron, do you just feel this is a case where you just have to defend home court at this point?”

James: “Well, aren’t you a smart guy?”

Reporter: “I think so.”

James: “Well, if we don’t defend home court, then what happens?”

Reporter: “Then you guys are looking at getting swept.”

James: “Alright, so that answers your question.”

Reporter: “Did you get any or will you need any IV?”

James: “No, I’m good. I just need some food and some wine and I’ll be all right.” “They’re a different team. You guys asked what was the difference and I told you…”

LeBron James reacts to Game 2 loss. #NBAFinalspic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/1ECBoYz0Vm??? NBA TV (@NBATV) June 5, 2017 Photo: Ezra Shaw

In the media room that James didn’t want to go near, Durant’s teammate, Draymond Green, sat on the left of the podium, microphone in one hand and most of the room eating out of the other.

Durant sat on the right with head bowed and black cap pulled over most of his face. He was almost embarrassed to be there.

When Durant made that play, Green was on the court and he flexed his biceps for the fans in celebration.

“When you make a play like that,” Green said. “He blocked the shot, gets the rebound, start talking … see, that’s the big part for me, you know, he blocks a shot and starts talking, so that’s what got me hyped. That was a man play. I don’t really know if I could put this power in these arms, though.”

Durant shook his head: “Oh, my gosh.”

The other defining play came from Curry in the third quarter with the Warriors out to an 81-73 lead.

A year ago, when the Warriors blew a 3-1 leads in the finals series, James put Curry firmly back in his box when it mattered.

Here, the pair came up against each other. Curry went left then right, then left again, finally finding a way to drive past James on his way to the rim and then making the shot.

Up until then, this match had been a streetfight. There and then, it turned into a mugging.

“It’s basketball, man, I mean, every possession you have the opportunity to impact the game, doesn’t matter who really is across from you,” Curry said, downplaying the moment.

Green wasn’t having it. He gushed like he was one of the fans.

“I see two guys … Steph has been around for five years, K [Durant] who I’ve been a teammate now with for a year, but played against for five years, more locked in than I’ve ever seen either one of them in my life. Whether it was playing against him, other than when he put 52 up on my head ???”

“Fifty-four,” interjected Durant, referring to his 54 for Oklahoma City against the Warriors in 2014.

“My fault,” Green grinned. “Short-changed him. Other than that, when you got somebody doing you like that, it’s just like a burning fire in their eye and you know you don’t stand a chance. But that’s like the look that I see in him throughout this finals. And both of them, to me, it seemed like it’s personal for both of them. And you are talking two of the greatest players that we got in this world locked in the way they are, that’s why we’re up 2-0.”

And that’s the point: the three best players in the world are playing in this finals series. Two of them are playing for Golden State.

Durant’s move from the Thunder at the end of last season was slammed by many critics who claimed he took the easy option to find a championship.

Outspoken ESPN commentator Stephen A Smith was the harshest, branding Durant “weak”. Before the match, Durant’s mother, Wanda, had something to say about it.

“I thought [what Smith said] was quite harsh,” she said. “It’s like, ‘Who are you, Stephen A, to come at my boy like that?’.”

So, Golden State continue their unbeaten run in this year’s play-offs and head to Cleveland for game three on Thursday morning (AEST) coming off a 19-point win. Then again, they won game two last year by 33 ???

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who announced two hours before tip-off he would be making an appearance on court despite a debilitating back problem that has sidelined him for six weeks, could only joke about how easy it would all be.

“Oh, we have got a plan in Cleveland,” he said, tongue-in-cheek. “We’re going to shut him [James] down. We have got this great plan that for sure is going to just completely stop him. I don’t know what you do with him. He’s one of the great players of all time, we all know that, I think he’s playing better than he’s ever played, and you just do your best.”

Hopefully, James has left his locker by then.

The author is covering the NBA finals as a guest of ESPN. Every game of the NBA finals is live on ESPN. Game three will be shown on Thursday at 11am AEST.

Mid-season report: Are the Cats a lock for a top-four berth?

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As AFL clubs enjoy their mid-season bye and list managers turn their attention more towards 2018, we take a daily look at one club and how it has performed so far – and what to expect from here.

GEELONG

Pre-season expectations: Having been crunched by the Swans in last year’s preliminary final, and seen champions Corey Enright and Jimmy Bartel head into retirement, the debate surrounding the Cats was this: Were they still a top four, even premiership, contender or more likely to finish in spots five to eight?

Record: 8-3

What’s gone right: Home cooking, that’s for sure. Having endured three straight defeats (more on that below) the Cats have enjoyed the taste of three home matches under lights at a redeveloped Simonds Stadium. Wins against legitimate premiership contenders Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide and Adelaide have shown they are for real – but questions abound. Elsewhere, Patrick Dangerfield, averaging a team-high 29.64 touches, has backed up his record-breaking Brownlow year with another blue-chip campaign, and is always looking to bring teammates into the contest, while skipper Joel Selwood has been equally effective at finding the ball as he is at leaving the field with a bloodied face. Mitch Duncan has also found plenty of the ball, averaging 28.36 disposals, while former Blue Zach Tuohy, given the role Enright once had, has struck the right balance between defence and counter-attack at half-back – as shown in his blanketing of Eddie Betts on Friday night. A streamlined Tom Hawkins (team-high 30 goals) has been more active up the ground and Daniel Menzel has been managed well, for his ability to play as a marking small forward is crucial. The Cats boast the league’s second-most potent forward line. Lachie Henderson and Tom Lonergan have been key pillars inside defensive 50. The return of tackling machine Scott Selwood has added midfield depth. Coach Chris Scott adopted a philosophical line when asked about the campaign so far. “At the halfway point of the season we are just among a group of teams that are fighting and scrapping to finish as high as we possibly can,” he said.

What’s gone wrong: The Cats began the season with five straight wins, but only one was against a side now in the top eight (Fremantle at Domain Stadium in round one). Concerns were raised about their defensive character when they had three straight defeats – two on the wider expanses of the MCG, against Collingwood and Essendon, and one against the Suns at Metricon Stadium. Hawthorn great Dermott Brereton is one who has questioned whether the Cats can seriously handle the heat when away from the more narrow boundaries of Simonds Stadium. They have only two more home-and-away matches at the MCG – against Hawthorn in round 17, and Collingwood in round 22. That they were out-tackled by the Bombers 81-40 also exposed them to questions about their mental toughness. The Cats say the Harry Taylor experiment has achieved the desired outcome, ensuring Hawkins isn’t the only tall marking option. Taylor has nine goals, including five against the Bulldogs in round five, but his best role would still appear to be in defence. Mark Blicavs, the 2015 best and fairest, is averaging 16 touches a game and has provided ruck relief but hasn’t had the impact many would like. Steven Motlop, in a contract year, can be brilliant or disappear at inopportune times.

Standout star: Hard to split the “Dangerwood” pairing of Patrick and Joel, but the votes would have to edge slightly towards Dangerfield this season. Even when he was relatively well held by the Power in round 10, Dangerfield snatched victory off his left boot with just over a minute remaining. Still battling sore ribs from the round-four clash against the Hawks, Dangerfield was omnipresent against the Dogs five weeks later, claiming a game-high 36 disposals, 12 tackles, 10 clearances and four goals. He is equal leader in voting for The Age’s player of the year award.

Players under the pump: The Cats have some interesting list management decisions to make, particularly if they welcome Gary Ablett home. Motlop and Menzel are restricted free agents. The latter almost certainly stays, but will Motlop again be put on the market? Will premiership veterans Tom Lonergan and Andrew Mackie go on? Lincoln McCarthy and Josh Cowan are both off-contract and have struggled for a regular senior game.

The run home: The Cats don’t appear to have the most difficult of run homes. They begin post bye with a trip to Domain Stadium to face the inconsistent Eagles, but then have Fremantle at Simonds Stadium. A major test then awaits against the Giants at Spotless Stadium, and the clubs meet again in round 23. That Brisbane, Hawthorn, Carlton and Sydney are still to come should mean the Cats are a lock for a top-four berth.

Grading:A minus. The three-straight defeats took a touch of gloss off their campaign but they are well positioned for a run deep into September.

Stalker cop littered lawn with ‘fake used condoms’

A former AFP officer has been sacked following a bizarre stalking episode which culminated in him scattering fake used condoms across his then-girlfriend’s lawn.
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An investigation found the officer had also intimidated the woman by leaving a slashed t-shirt on the bonnet of her car and repeatedly ringing her only to hang up when she answered.

The officer was sacked in November 2016 following a lengthy internal investigation and last month had an unfair dismissal application thrown out by the Fair Work Commission.

A report by the commission described how the sordid affair unfolded after the officer moved from Canberra to Sydney to pursue a relationship with the woman, which eventually broke down.

“It was the events around the breakdown of that relationship which the [officer] says…led to the accusations against him and ultimately his dismissal by the AFP,” read the commission’s report.

The officer was alleged to have intimidated the woman on a number of occasions between December 2013 and April 2015.

The AFP’s professional standards unit investigated the allegations after the woman rang the former officer’s boss to complain about harassment.

In interviews with internal investigators, the officer denied harassing the woman over Facebook but admitted other allegations.

“The [officer] admitted that he placed a slashed t-shirt that [his ex-girlfriend] had given him on the bonnet of her car on 11 December 2013,” the commission found.

“The [officer] admitted that he placed condoms made to appear used on [her] front lawn in March 2014.

“The [officer] further admitted to making ‘hang up’ calls to [the woman] after the relationship had broken up.”

Such behaviour was inconsistent with the standards required of a police officer, the professional standards investigation concluded.

“I am satisfied based on the [officer’s] admissions and the balance of probabilities with respect to the Facebook allegations that the allegations of stalking and intimidating behaviour are made out,” the commission found.

In April 2015, the woman applied for an apprehended violence order against the officer – later withdrawn – after she spotted him driving near her local shops.

The officer, who had served the AFP for seven years, denied this and submitted time sheets to prove he was working at the time.

But an investigation found these time sheets were false, and that the officer had swiped into work an hour later than he had claimed.

The officer later said the discrepancies were a mistake that had been made during a period of “considerable stress” following a work-related motor vehicle accident and the breakdown of his relationship.

“I am satisfied that the [officer] made a false record as to his starting time…and that this was not done inadvertently or as a result of an instruction by his superior,” the commission concluded in its ruling.

The Fair Work Commission’s deputy president, Jeff Lawrence, ruled that the officer’s dismissal under the circumstances “was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable”.

“I have taken account of the [officer’s] personal circumstances and the medical evidence but I am not persuaded that these lead to a different result,” he said.

“Similarly, the length of the [officer’s] service of seven years is not such as to alter the result.

“The application for unfair dismissal relief is there dismissed.”

Pasha Bulker 10 years on: Heartbreaking twists of fate as nine die during storms

Heartbreaking twists of fate Pasha Bulker off the Cowrie Hole. Picture: David Wicks
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Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: Darren Pateman.

Westpac Rescue helicopter crewman Glen Ramplin down sick after rescuing crewmen from the Pasha Bulker. Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Darren Pateman

Westpac Rescue helicopter crewman Glen Ramplin after rescuing crewmen from the Pasha Bulker. Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Simone De Peak

Picture: Simone De Peak

Picture: Simone De Peak

Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Brock Perks

Picture: Brock Perks

Picture: Dean Osland

Picture: David Wicks

Police take Pasha Bulker crew members away from the surf club on June 8, 2007. Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: David Wicks

Picture: Stefan Moore

Picture: David Wicks

Picture: Darren Pateman

Picture: Darren Pateman

TweetFacebookJadie Beeston, ayoung mother and wife of Nigel, adds: 鈥淚 think people remember that weekend was just an exciting storm, you hear people remembering the Pasha Bulker, the cars and homes being flooded.

鈥淏ut they are all replaceable.

鈥淚t should also be a time where we honour those who we lost.

鈥淚t is difficult for everyone. His parents. His sisters. You don鈥檛 get over it, you just learn to live with it.

鈥淚t is still as bad now as it was then. For everyone.鈥欌€?/p>And Wayne Bull鈥檚 sister, Michelle Schmitzer, is even more passionate about the need to remember those lost.

鈥淚 don鈥檛 like the Pasha Bulker at all. I hate it,鈥欌€?she says.

鈥淎 ship鈥檚 captain is told to lift anchor and take a boat out to safety. He doesn鈥檛. My brother is missing and he is on page three.鈥欌€?/p> WASHED AWAY: Linda and Bob Jones were killed after their four-wheel-drive was washed off a bridge near Clarence Town. Picture: Peter Stoop.

The painful memories are the same. The ache of lossnever completely dissipates. And the levels come in waves.

Libby Herington remembers that her sister Linda didn鈥檛 always go with her husband to his doctor鈥檚 appointments.

No one will ever know why she decided on June 8, 2007.

But she did. The love of her life, whom she met while they both worked at Stockton Hospital, also had a love of the rural life. And the pair settled in beautifulClarence Town.

鈥淗e was very clever with his hands, Bob, and he loved a drink,鈥欌€?Ms Herington says.

鈥淟inda was quieter but had such a beautiful heart, she loved her family鈥?

The pair had been to the doctors and were heading home as the rain continued to bucket down.

It was11.20am when they reached a small bridge on Clarence Town Road which spansWallaroo Creek, between Glen Oak and their home town.

But the creek, borne in Columbey National Park before it gathers momentum into Stony Creek and then the mighty Williams River,was already swollen from the endless rain.

Bob stoppedthe couple鈥檚 four-wheel drive before the bridge and watchedon as atruck successfully navigatedthrough the rising floodwaters.

Fatefully, hedecidedto take it on鈥?nbsp;they werejust a few kilometres from the safety and dryness of their own home.

Witnesses watched on as the four-wheel drive hits the bridge before the wall of water took control鈥?nbsp;andall before it.

A Westpac rescue helicopter was called from the Pasha Bulker rescue to help in the frantic search.

But the Jonesesnever stood a chance and would later be found just metres from the bridge.Still in their seatbelts. And, importantly for their families, still together.

鈥淲e couldn鈥檛 believe it,鈥欌€?Ms Herington says.

鈥淢um was devastated. I don鈥檛 think she ever got over it. I don鈥檛 think any of us did.鈥?/p> REMEMBERED: Wayne Bull was killed after being washed down Styx Creek. He was a Mayfield United Soccer Club life member, with players forming a guard of honour at his funeral.

A few hours later, Wayne Bull hadfinished his shift at Steve Koulis Smash Repairs on Griffiths Road at Lambton.

But his car hadbeen playing up and the 46-year-old was worried he wouldn鈥檛 get home. Heaskeda workmate to follow him home to Adamstown in the business鈥?loan car.

Wayne, a father of two, gothome safely and decidedto jumpinto the Ford Festiva with his workmate to get him back to the shop. It was a decision which costs him his life.

Stormwater drains across the city had been overflowing for hours now. The sheeramount of water hadtaken its toll. And the one that ranalong the old water course known asStyx Creek was one of them.

As the Festiva travelledover the rail overpass alongGriffiths Road, the pair wereunaware of what was just a few metres ahead of them.

It was 6pm and dark.The Festiva iscaught in the floodwaters, and as Mr Bull attemptedto flee, he waswashed away.

His mate never sawhim and yelledfor help.

Just like the Joneses, the father of twonever stood a chance. His body was recovered several kilometres away towards Throsby Creek.

鈥淭he ferocity of the water coming down that drain was extraordinary and as Wayne opened the door he just got dragged out,鈥欌€?sister Michelle Schmitzer says.

鈥淲e miss him terribly.He was just a good egg. I am not just saying that because he wasmy brother. He was a great bloke and we want people to remember him for his smile, not what happened to him.鈥欌€?/p> HEADING HOME: Nigel Beeston, pictured with wife Jadie and daughter Skyla, was nearly home when a tree fell on his ute.

That Friday night, Nigel Beeston got home to Heddon Greta safely after spendinghours travelling along battered roads.

He was a hard worker, the family鈥檚breadwinner, and he didn鈥檛 shirk an overtime shift the following day, despite the weather.

He finishedthat shift about 4.30pm. It was Saturday afternoon and, againhe was struggling to find his way through the maze of flooded roads. He ranghis wife again at 6pm.

鈥淗e said it was slow going but he was going through Freemans Waterhole and he was only 10 minutes away,鈥欌€?Jadie Beeston says.

鈥淏ut he never made it home.鈥欌€?/p>As he travelledalong Leggetts Drive near Brunkerville, a roadside tree succumbedto days of its roots being undermined by rainwater. It felland crushedNigel鈥檚 utility cab.

Jadie, who was waiting for Nigel to get home to her and their five-year-old Skyla,receiveda call from hisgrandmother.

鈥淗is nan rang and asked who was driving the ute and I said it was Nigel. When she couldn鈥檛 speak I knew something was terribly wrong,鈥欌€?Jadie says.

鈥淚 kept ringing his phone constantly trying to contact him. But I obviously couldn鈥檛. I said it couldn鈥檛 be right, I had just spoken to him. But it was.鈥欌€?/p>If they were to allow fate to enter their nightmares, the familiesofthose lost during that storm weekend could be lost in grief.

The Joneses could have waited. Wayne Bull could have stayed home. and Nigel Beeston was a split second from safety.

鈥淚t is a moment that constantly goes through my head,鈥欌€?Jadie Beeston says.

鈥淚f he was driving one kilometre faster or two kilometres slower. It was the worst luck and timing possible. There are so many things he could have done and he would still be with us. Stopping and tying his shoelace. Anything.鈥欌€?/p>

The Pasha Bulker storm of 2007 worth reflecting on

ON that awful long weekend in June, 2007 it was hard to imagine how it was ever going to end.
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The clash of storm fronts and freak meteorological conditions that smashed the NSW coast between Sydney and Newcastle built in intensity from early Friday, June 8, peaked at midnight, but continued to batter the region for that whole long, dark weekend.

By early afternoon on Friday torrential rain in the Somersby area of theCentral Coast turned the usually tame Piles Creek into a thunderous beast that gouged at weaknesses in the Old Pacific Highway above it and collapsed.

Several cars were able to stop in time. Adam Holt, driving to work, did not.

As Newcastle braced for thestorm centre to hit the shocking news from the Central Coast came through -that Adam Holt, partner Roslyn Bragg, their daughters Madison, 3, and Jasmine, 2, and Roslyn’s nephew Travis, 9, were lost in the raging Piles Creek and presumed dead.

Off the Newcastle coast the MV Pasha Bulker and other coal ships that did not respond to numerous warnings to head out to sea were already in serious trouble by that time, as an 18-metre swell did its best to tear them apart.

More than 100,000 homes across the region lost power that weekend, making the news that did come through seem all the more horrific –aClarencetown couple washed away in their car, presumed dead;a man lost in raging water in a drain at Lambton, and on Saturday, June 9, another man killed when his car was crushed by a falling tree at Brunkerville.

And the rain just kept falling, the wind kept howling, and it was days before the first glimpse of sunshine allowed people to emerge from battered homes to count the cost.

For some that storm was a turning point in their lives.

Jim and Helen Bragg have the lives they lived before June 8, 2007 and the lives they have lived since, where a beautiful lawn cemetery has become their “second home”. They lost five family members that day.

The Pasha Bulker storm joins the Sygna storm, the Maitland floodand the Newcastle earthquake as one of the most significant natural disasters to ever hit the Hunter region. They are events that remind us how little we can control the environment, but how resilient we are when put to the test.

Issue: 38,510.