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Battleground: Cricketers questioned over grassroots initiative

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 26: n Cricketer’s Association CEO Alistair Nicholson speaks to the media outside the SCG after players gathered after the Phil Hughes Accident yesterday on November 26, 2014 in Sydney, . (Photo by Dominic Lorrimer/Fairfax Media)’s top cricketers have proposed a $600 million grassroots seed fund but Cricket has questioned where the money will be derived in the latest pay dispute battleground.
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As part of a plan which has gone under the radar, the n Cricketers’ Association wants $119 million a year put towards junior and community cricket, as part of the 22.5 per cent of revenue it says should go towards that crucial area of the sport.

CA plans to spend between $55 million and $60 million a year – an increase of $15 million per year – at a grassroots level under its submission in a new memorandum of understanding, sparking questions as to how the ACA plans to fund the added $60 million it wants to spend.

The ACA proposal also has 22.5 per cent of revenue going to player payments and 55 per cent to CA.

The players say their plan “prioritises the investment in grassroots cricket by protecting 22.5 per cent of these revenues for it, including the creation of an estimated $119 million per year, five-year ‘Grassroots Seed Fund’ to secure cricket’s future; leaves an estimated $1.5 billion (or 55 per cent of these revenues) with CA for cricket administration over and above player payments and protected grassroots investment”.

The ACA says the grassroots plan should be done in conjunction with a cap on CA’s administrative costs, as Simon Katich reiterated this week.

“As a result of this set allocation to grassroots, cricket achieves a ‘cap’ on CA’s administrative costs of approximately 55 per cent of revenue … to ensure that cricket in prioritises the right level of investment in grassroots and fair remuneration of all players,” the ACA said.

CA has questioned this plan, declaring the added funds could only come from either slashing CA staff needed to administer competitions such as the Sheffield Shield, Women’s National Cricket League and Matador Cup, axing initiatives such as the recent “boot camp” for elite under-18 cricketers in Thredbo, or slashing player payments.

“The ACA’s proposal would require significant cuts in some of these areas but the ACA doesn’t say which should be targeted,” a CA spokesman said on Friday.

“The ACA’s proposal would make the inflexibility of the revenue-share model even worse. It would effectively pre-commit 45 per cent of n cricket’s gross revenues to just two areas, regardless of the costs of generating that revenue.

“No business could operate with that lack of flexibility and no other business does. The ACA’s proposal attempts to fix one problem, the underfunding of grassroots, by making another problem, the inflexibility of a fixed gross revenue-share model, much worse.”

The ACA has rejected these claims, declaring there would be enough of the $2.6 billion they project in total cricket revenue to spread around.

“I don’t think we’ll need to cut anything,” an ACA spokesman said.

This comes amid an argument between players and CA over projected revenue. The ACA says CA is set to receive $2.6 billion over the next five years, excluding the Twenty20 World Cup in in 2020.

CA, however, says it’s difficult to put a specific figure on revenue, as 80 per cent of revenue is uncontracted. CA will soon officially go to market for new international and domestic television broadcast rights, while a rich deal with an Indian broadcaster will also be brokered.

Suburban clubs contacted by Fairfax Media say they just want a fair deal that will enable more development coaches and an upgrade of facilities. Cricket Victoria chief Tony Dodemaide is one state boss sweating on funds to hire more development coaches, an area the AFL dominates in Victoria.

CA’s submission says “cricket currently lags behind the AFL in terms of full-time grassroots resources, with only 171 full-time employees versus AFL with 450-plus [according to CA internal estimates]”.

It’s understood comments made by Steve Smith in England ahead of ‘s opening match in the Champions Trophy have also raised eyebrows. When asked about CA’s claim that the ACA’s insistence of a revenue-share model would harm grassroots cricket, Smith said: “I’m not sure I completely agree with that. If we look back at the last MOU I think players gave back $10 million to grassroots cricket, which is quite significant.”

It’s understood CA has questioned whether that money was given only to Premier cricket clubs – which are community based – and whether those funds had been fully distributed. The ACA said that money was spent in several development areas.

The CA board of directors met in Brisbane on Friday, where the primary focus was a new five-year strategy set to be unveiled within months. The focus is on all areas of the sport, including women and grassroots.

The board was given an update on the MOU spat but it was not an official agenda item.

ACA chief Alistair Nicholson has spent the past week in England discussing the pay issue with players, who are still calling on CA to appear at mediation in a bid to get negotiations going ahead of the June 30 stalemate.

But CA maintains unless the ACA drops its insistence on a revenue-share model, mediation is pointless. The ACA has offered “flexibility” to a degree in what is “open to a discussion of what is in and what is out of shared revenue streams” – but that is unlikely to cut it with CA.

‘We have an expectation on ourselves of perfection’

A pilot program at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital designed to improve junior doctors’ wellbeing is attracting national and international interest, as the medical profession looks to reduce levels of stress, burnout and depression among some of its most vulnerable members.
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The early years of medicine are particularly challenging, in part due to the long hours and taxing training and exams. During a national survey by beyondblue in 2013, young doctors reported poor mental health and high levels of stress and burnout, with almost 28 per cent of doctors under 30 having had thoughts of suicide prior to the previous 12 months.

Bethan Richards, RPA’s former network director of physician training, said three basic physician trainees (BPTs) in NSW had taken their own lives in the months before the program was pitched in March. “That really gave us the impetus to take it front and centre,” Dr Richards said.

The n-first program teaches BPTs, or medical registrars, how to debrief, manage traumatic and emotionally challenging events and recognise signs of stress and burnout. It also provides personal and motivational training to make regular exercise, as well as good nutrition and sleep practices, part of their busy schedules.

Called BPTOK, it was developed by past and current BPTs, training directors, psychiatrists and mentors. Funded through the Sydney Local Health District’s innovation challenge, The Pitch, it is delivered in protected teaching time as a core element of training.

Dr Richards saw the impact heavy workloads and responsibilities were having on young doctors, with about 10 per cent of trainees referred externally for psychological help.

“In a way, it was [making] them sick,” she said. “As doctors we’re not very good at seeking help from others and we have an expectation on ourselves of perfection – of not making mistakes, not being sick. It’s harder to be there for patients who are in their own world of distress when doctors are not in the healthiest mindset.”

Dr Richards said the program would make the trainees better doctors and sent the message “that we value these skills as much as we value … the other life-saving skills we’re teaching. We’d love to see all this taught at medical school.”

Dr Louise Ward, a recent BPT who delivered the program pitch, said it reassured trainees “they’re not alone, there will be other people having difficulties”.

“It’s common not to talk about having problems, but this is part of the step towards changing the culture in medicine, to make it okay to admit that you might need help and to ask for help.”

Muirhead back to work after Brumbies dream

Andrew Muirhead. Brumbies captains run 2nd June 2017. Photo by Karleen Minney.How do you celebrate scoring your first Super Rugby double? With a keg party of course.
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But this isn’t the type of beer keg you’d expect after Andrew Muirhead scored two tries in his second game for the ACT Brumbies.

Instead, Muirhead was contemplating going back to work delivering kegs when he arrived home this week “to keep me awake” after a dream start to his Brumbies career.

Muirhead has been rewarded for his two tries in 13 minutes by keeping his place on the bench for the Brumbies’ clash against the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday night.

The Brumbies arrived in Canberra on Monday night after a perfect two-game tour of South Africa and Argentina, finishing with a 39-15 thumping of the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

It was a fairytale ride for Muirhead, who doesn’t have a full-time professional contract and was plucked from Canberra’s club rugby competition to join the touring squad two weeks ago.

Muirhead had to ask his boss at Murrell Distribution for some time off delivering kegs and tyres to chase his rugby ambitions.

He got the perfect reward when she scored two tries against the Jaguares, the second a superb solo effort of twisting and turning his way to the line.

It could be the catalyst to earn a Super Rugby full-time deal and launch his career.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet to be honest with you,” Muirhead said.

“Hopefully this leads to something in the future but I don’t know yet. We’ll wait and see.

“I think I’ll have Tuesday morning off, my boss is pretty good. But we work some half days so I might look to do a few hours in the afternoon to keep me awake.

“The boss has looked after me so I’ll do right by him as well.”

Muirhead was the icing on the cake to the Brumbies’ two wins and form turnaround on a massive journey to Port Elizabeth and Buenos Aires.

He was the ninth player to debut for the Brumbies this year and rookie prop Faalelei Sione became the 10th in the clash against the Jaguares.

The rise of unknown players is the silver lining to the Brumbies this year, who have capitalised on opportunities to be on the verge of a fifth consecutive finals appearance.

Fullback Tom Banks is another who has leapt out of obscurity to stamp himself as a Super Rugby player, using his lightning speed to score a double against the Jaguares.

But even after his own try-scoring feats, Banks made special mention of Muirhead’s efforts.

“He’s such a good bloke and he’s worked unbelievably hard coming down from Brisbane to Canberra this year,” Banks said.

“To get his opportunity, he’s taken it with both hands and I’m really proud of him. He’ll do a lot for this team.”

The Brumbies will play the Melbourne Rebels at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night and a third consecutive win all but secure a finals spot.

The game will be prop Ben Alexander’s 143rd game for the Brumbies, setting a new club record as the most capped player.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham kept an unchanged starting XV last week, but he could opt to rotate players after a heavy travel schedule over the past two weeks.


Saturday: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

Brumbies team: 15. Tom Banks, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Kyle Godwin, 11. Aidan Toua, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Jordan Smiler, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 1. Nic Mayhew. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Faalelei Sione, 18. Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 19. Tom Staniforth, 20. Jarrad Butler, 21. De Wet Roos, 22. Andrew Muirhead, 23. Nigel Ah Wong.

Rebels team: 15. Reece Hodge, 14. Sefa Naivalu, 13. Tom English, 12. Mitch Inman, 11. Marika Koroibete, 10. Ben Volavola, 9. Nic Sirzaker, 8. Amanaki Mafi, 7. Colby Faingaa, 6. Hugh Sinclair, 5. Lopeti Timani, 4. Steve Cummins, 3. Tyrel Lomax. 2. James Hanson, 1. Toby Smith. Reserves: 16. Siliva Siliva, 17. Cruze Ah Nau, 18. Laurie Weeks, 19. Culum Retallick, 20. Will Miller, 21. Ben Meehan, 22. Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23. Jonah Placid.

OpinionWorld Environment Day a call to arms

World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5.Globally, events supporting positive environmental action have been held on this day since 1972.
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Twenty years ago on this day the ground-breaking Pathways to Sustainability: Local Initiatives for Cities and Townsinternational conference was held atNewcastle City Hall.The five-day conference was endorsed by the United Nations.Speakers came from over 30 countries. The event drew together some of the world’s leading thinkers, local politicians, business people, local government and the community. It was one of the most important events of Newcastle’s bicentenary celebrations and culminated in the Newcastle Declaration committing our city to a sustainable future.

“Gathered at Newcastle, on World Environment Day, 5 June 1997, we acknowledge that in the five years since the Rio Earth Summit much has been learnt about implementing the concept of sustainable development. There is growing evidence, however, that the future of all life on Earth is still in peril. There is an urgent need to accelerate and assist action at all levels, particularly locally, if the global sustainable development objectives of Agenda 21 are to be realised”.

Over the following 20 years we have seen the innovative ClimateCam initiative of the Newcastle City Council, which allowed the public to visualise and thus decrease energy consumption across the city through the ClimateCam billboard ClimateCam in schools program; the Smart Future Cities Program; and the establishment of UN training centre in disaster preparedness CIFAL at the University of Newcastle. World Environment Day on June 5 is a call to arms for the planet to build on these foundations not to let them lie fallow in the archives.

Professor Tim Roberts is the director of the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, University of Newcastle