John Hunter Children’s Hospital Kids Club marks 25 years with fundraiser at Newcastle Harness Racing Club

Good cause: Volunteers Carol McMurray, Dorothy Gale, Jan Waugh, Dianne Riding and Geoff Waugh at their twice-monthly stall at the hospital doors selling handcrafted items including clothing. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

JAN Waugh describes her collective’s role asproviding “little things that keep hospital happy”.

She is secretary of the John Hunter Children’s Hospital Kids Club, which was formed in 1993 by former Newcastle deputy lord mayor Frank Rigby and has raised more than $3 million for much-needed equipment and mood-lifting extras for pint-sized patients.

“We’re happy to do anything we can to help improve a child’sstay in hospital –it can be such a tough time,” Ms Waugh said.

“We feel we’re giving back to the community, we see we’re doing good work and consider our role asimportant and helpful.”

Acting on requests from staff, the clubhas funded projects including a $11,280 3D printer that surgeons use to prepare for operations;$44,990 worth of audiology screening equipment for newborns, a $46,697 remote monitoring and clinician notification system for oncology, a $23,468 photo therapy system to resolve jaundice in babies, pluscountless blood pressure monitors and breast pumps with mobile stands.

It has also obtained a $186,000 grant from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation for a webcam systemthat allows families to watch newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“We’re happy to look at the hospital’swish list and if we’ve got the money, we get it,” she said.

“They may not be able to buy it yet, but we help them get it now.”

It has also paid for play therapy volunteers, ‘smarty bags’ filled with puzzles and colouring in sheets for the siblings of patients, a gift for the first babies born on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Mother’s Day and more.

“They’re little things that keep hospital happy,” she said. “It’s about the softer side of hospital.”

Ms Waugh and 14 volunteers collect funds throughgrants, raffles over 22 years at the Newcastle Harness Racing Club, collection tins, theatre nights,a twice-monthly stall at the hospital doors selling handcrafted items including children’s clothes, rugs, library bags and towels, and much-appreciated donations.

She said the “lovely” community was critical to the club’s success.

The Newcastle Cake Decorators’Guild and Newcastle Lapidary Club provides prizes for raffles, while the Horizons Golf Resortladies craft group, Novocastrian Quilters and others donate their work for the stall.

“It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling and shows what a wonderful place the Hunter is,” she said.

“People care and work hard to support others.”

Newcastle Harness Racing Club is hosting a fundraising function for the kids club called Smile @ The Newcastle Mile on May 26.

Tickets, $50,include paceway entry, athree course meal, $10 donation to the kids club, live entertainment for families and fundraising activities.

No hard feelings with Broncos CEO: Bennett

Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett says there are no hard feelings towards club CEO Paul White.Wayne Bennett says there are no hard feelings with Paul White despite revealing the Brisbane CEO spoke to Craig Bellamy about coaching the Broncos without telling him.

Bennett said he encouraged White to talk with the off contract Melbourne mentor about taking over the NRL club’s reins.

However the seven-time premiership coach said White was supposed to tell him when he had conducted talks with Bellamy but only found out later through a third party.

White confirmed on Wednesday Bennett would coach Brisbane in 2019 but gave no other guarantees amid speculation the Broncos would offer Bellamy a four year, $5 million-plus deal from 2020.

“I didn’t know Craig had been approached. I asked Paul to tell me that,” Bennett said.

“But I didn’t know that it had happened until someone gave me the tip about seven days ago.

“I was aware he was going to talk to him but I wasn’t aware that he had talked to him.

“Someone has obviously spoken. There were three of us at the meeting (about approaching Bellamy) and no one close to me I have talked to.”

While annoyed at Brisbane’s loose lips, Bennett said he didn’t have a problem with White’s approach to Bellamy.

“I would have liked to have known but we are all busy people. It would have been nice but it is no big deal,” Bennett said.

“When I heard through a third party I went to talk to Paul about it but we are busy and my priority is the team not me.

“That happens in life sometimes. I don’t think he did it deliberately.”

White said he did not have to defend his approach to Bellamy despite Bennett not knowing.

“I am not going to apologise for doing my job,” he said.

“If Craig is off contract and available I am duty bound as a CEO to have a conversation and Wayne encouraged me to do that.

“I have the utmost respect for Wayne. I have known him since I was 18.

“My communication with Wayne is always very open and candid.”

White said he “wouldn’t rule anything out” on Brisbane’s coaching future.

“Craig currently has an offer at Melbourne … we have to let that process takes its course – at the moment we are not in negotiations,” he said.

“I am not ruling anything in or out. Things can change quite quickly but at the moment there are no negotiations taking place (with Bellamy).”

The 68-year-old Bennett – off contract in 2019 – hinted at deciding his long term future early next year.

Sydney FC’s Brosque inspired by Simon

Alex Brosque holds the record for most appearances and goals scored for Sydney FC.Two months ago Alex Brosque was set on retiring.

The A-League season and Asian Champions League travel had taken its toll physically and mentally, and the 34-year-old’s head was telling him he was done.

That was until late March, when Sydney FC beat the Glory 3-2 in Perth to secure a second successive Premiers’ Plate.

Brosque’s wife Nadia was watching on TV from Sydney as her husband, who’d started nearly every other game, came off the bench.

In a rare role reversal, the Sky Blues’ impact substitute Matt Simon played the full 90 minutes with his usual enthusiastic antagonism.

Something occurred to her and she put it to Brosque when he returned home.

“It was that game that sparked the conversation,” Brosque told AAP.

“We were talking about Matty Simon, just saying how great he played and how much enjoyment he seemed to be playing with.

“Regardless of whether he started or came off the bench, the impact he had and energy he brought every week was probably what inspired me to realise that no matter what role you have in the team, whether it’s starting or not, you can still have an important impact.

“My wife actually spoke to me and said ‘I understand physically, and even mentally, why you must feel drained but what if next year you went into the season with a different mindset … coming off the bench a lot more if needed to keep you fresh? What if that was an option?'”

She’d planted the seed, and Brosque set about picking the brains of former players including the club’s football operations manager Terry McFlynn and then assistant coach Steve Corica.

Their message – to play in whatever capacity for as long as possible – helped him realise he wasn’t quite ready for the finality of retirement.

Now having re-signed, the club stalwart will approach the new season with fresh perspective.

He believes his experience can help in a year underpinned by change, as Corica takes the reins from Graham Arnold, new players arrive, and home games are relocated throughout Allianz Stadium’s rebuild.

He’s also considering his captaincy and is willing to hand it on if it feels right and his minutes are significantly reduced.

“I guess that’s why I want to see where pre-season goes this year,” Brosque said.

“If I feel great physically then of course I’d love to play every game but if I can’t, then maybe the captaincy is possibly something I’ll have to pass on to someone like Wilko (Alex Wilkinson) who will play every week.

“I look at someone like Wilko and his role is just as important in terms of leadership as what I bring.

“In passing the armband for me – if that was to be – I don’t think it would change my role in the team or the way I am with the players on and off the field.”

Newcastle Rugby: Travis Brooke back as Blacks start to take shape

STRONG: Travis Brooke breaks through a tackle in the Blacks’ 46-17 win over Singleton at Marcellin Park. Picture: Stewart Hazell

BLACKS coach Mick Hickling is confident that the patient approach to the return of boom forward Travis Brooke will prove beneficial in the finals.

Brooke was a standout in his comeback start from akneeinjury in the 46-17 win over Singleton. The nephew of All Black legend Zinzan Brooke, the lockcrossedfor a try, constantly bentthe defensive line andworked hard.

“We have taken our time with him,” Hickling said.“He saw a couple of specialists and is on top of the pain now.He might have to play with some discomfort at times, but structurally the knee is strong.He has a couple of games and thenthe week off with the long weekend. We will look after it and make sure we manage it.”

Newcastle rugby: Brooke back as Blacks start to take shape TweetFacebook Maitland v SingletonPictures: Stewart HazellJames Johnston also made a successful return to the starting side and in a further boostMichael Howell is back from an ankle injury against Uni at home on Saturday.

However, breakaway John Birrell faces a month on the sideline with a knee injury.

“Johnny had a similar issue with his medial last year and was out for four weeks,” Hickling said. “James Howell has a groin issue and if he is out, Mick Howell comes.Young lock Ben Woodreturns from the Country under-20s and we will slide Travis into the back row to cover for Johnny.”

Fullback Chris Logan also returns from NSW Country commitments, pushing Josh McCormack to the centres.

Hickling knows too well the importance of keeping players on the park. They lost Brooke, Johnston, Logan and prop James Robinson at the tail end of last season.

Woman who accused former Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council deputy chairman Richard John Green of rape makes full retraction

Richard Green.THE woman who accused formerAwabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council deputy chairman Richard Green of rape has provided two statements retracting her allegations and wants to have an apprehended domestic violence order relaxed so the pair can have contact, Newcastle Local Court has heard.

But DPP solicitor Isabella Maxwell-Williams says the alleged victim has been “got at” and coerced into signing the statements, which she said were witnessed and signedby Mr Green’s long-time private solicitor, Despina Bakis.

Ms Bakis, like Mr Green, is “presently being investigatedby the Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC]for her alleged involvement in the unauthorised sale of traditional Aboriginal land in Newcastle”, Ms Maxwell-Williams noted.

“The Crown would submit thecomplainantwas coerced into signing that statement,” Ms Maxwell-Williams said.

Mr Green, 60, who is represented by solicitor Chris O’Brien, has been charged with two counts of sexual intercourse without consent, intentionally choking a person,assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two counts of contravening an AVO. He appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday where Mr O’Brien sought to vary his client’s bail to remove all of the conditions, which include a curfew, daily reporting to police, a residence condition and an order banning him from having contact withthe alleged victim.

At the same time, the alleged victim, who cannot be identified, was seeking an order to amend the apprehended domestic violence order so she could have contact with Mr Green.

When asked why she wanted to remove the conditions, the woman told Mr Stone: “I have done a false allegation towards Richard” before she was cut off by the magistrate.

“Be careful what you say,” Mr Stone told her. “If you start putting on the record in court that you’ve made a false allegation you could find yourself subject to prosecution.”

Mr O’Brien told Mr Stone the woman had provided the DPP with two retraction statements, which state she made up the allegations, and had told the same to police.

Mr O’Brien submitted that the woman could give evidence in court on Wednesday to explain the level of fear she had for Mr Green.

However, Mr Stone said he wanted her to get legal advice first and adjourned the matter to Friday.

Katter says downer too right wing

Mayo Liberal candidate Georgina Downer’s political views are “dangerously right-wing”, Independent MP Bob Katter says.

During a visit to the electorate to campaign with Rebekha Sharkie, Mr Katter said Ms Downer had emerged from “extreme right-wing politics, dangerously right-wing sort of areas”.

He said he might be characterised in a similar way but for his focus on helping the poor.

Ms Downer’s father, Alexander Downer, held Mayo for the Liberal Party from 1984 until 2008.

Mr Katter is also the child of a politician but insisted he had not been helped into parliament.

“I’ve made my own way in life,” he said.

Ms Sharkie won Mayo from the Liberals in 2016 but was forced to resign earlier this month after being caught up in the citizenship saga.

The two cross-benchers toured a men’s shed in the Fleurieu Peninsula town of Yankalilla on Wednesday before holding a question and answer session at a nearby community centre.

Mr Katter praised Ms Sharkie’s grassroots style and questioned whether Ms Downer had earned the backing of the local community.

“If I’m looking to put someone up for parliament, I want to know what they’ve done for their community,” he said.

Ms Sharkie again apologised to Mayo voters for sending them back to the polls.

“I, hand on heart, put in my documents in April 2016 – long before they even thought of having a double dissolution, and I didn’t spend a single day in the parliament as a dual citizen,” she said.

Mr Katter and Ms Sharkie disagreed at times during the hour-long session on Wednesday, including on the issue of how many visas should be issued.

But she said that was the strength of the crossbench.

“We all come together with different views on a whole range of issues where we both proudly support n-made, but how you get there is a little different,” she said.

Ashley Edwards, 35, who attended the forum, said support for Ms Sharkie in the region was strong.

“I’d be very surprised if she didn’t get back in,” he said.

“She’s kind of like your next door neighbour but she speaks up and that’s what this area really needs.

“I thought it was an odd pair-up but the independents are helping each other out and that’s really good to see.”

Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group awarded for its wetland restoration on Ash Island

The tidal wetlands around the Port of Newcastle are home to a number of threatened species and communities. Picture: Max Mason-HubersNewcastle Coal Infrastructure Group has been recognised at the 2018 PIANC Working with Nature Awards for restoring wetland habitat on Ash Island.

NCIG was the recipient of a certificate of recognition, which is the first to be received by an n project since the establishment of the awards in 2014.

The group has been working with National Parks and Wildlife, the University of NSW, Hunter Bird Observers Club and other groups to re-establish the endangered coastal saltmarsh ecological community.

The tidalwetlands around the Port of Newcastle are home to a number of threatened species and communities. The coastal saltmarsh vegetation community and numerous species of migratory shorebirds, such as the critically endangered Eastern Curlewand Curlew Sandpiper,are increasingly losing habitat along the Australasian-East Asian Flyway.

NCIGcreated habitat for migratory shorebirds in an area close to the terminal site, specifically Ash Island in the Hunter Wetlands National Park.

The construction of habitat on Ash Islandincluded restoration of 24 hectares of migratory shorebird habitat, including removal of 17 hectares of juvenile mangroves, installation of an automated flood gate to manage tidal levels and managere-establishment of mangroves in the habitat, installation of mangrove seed screens to prevent mangroveseeds from floating into the habitat system and installation of “bird diverter” devices on local electricity infrastructure to make power lines more visible to birds flying in and out of the habitat.

NCIG’s CEO, Aaron Johanse, said the nomination is testament to NCIG’s commitment to the environment and the local Hunter Estuary wetlands.

“The migratory shorebird habitat restoration project is unique in its type and scale and unlike any other conducted in ,” he said.

“The great beneficiary of this project however is local wetland communities and the vulnerable and endangered migratory shorebird species which rely on them.”

Astronaut’s push for Sydney space agency

n astronaut Paul Scully-Power is helping NSW bid for the country’s inaugural space agency.’s first astronaut Paul Scully-Power says he will bring everyone “back down to earth” after being announced as the face of a push to have NSW secure a national space agency.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday Dr Scully-Power will advise the state government on how to host the n Space Agency.

The NSW government will attempt to link its bid for the headquarters with Sydney’s new “Aerotropolis”, which is being built around the new Badgerys Creek airport, the premier confirmed.

“If we can potentially house our space industry in that precinct it would just be an overwhelming boost for our state,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters at Sydney Observatory in Millers Point.

But Dr Scully-Power has ruled out any potential space agency having a launch pad to rocket humans into outer space from NSW.

“I don’t think we are in the business of sending humans into space as I hate to tell you what NASA spent on me,” Dr Scully-Power told reporters.

The 73-year-old flew on the space Shuttle Challenger in 1984, after being selected by NASA to be a payload specialist on the 13th space shuttle, for eight days and 133 orbits.

Dr Scully-Power also spoke about a space agency developing technology, such as having thousands of nano-satellites orbiting the earth in near space “fairly low down” to lead commercial development across the nation.

“I guess it is my turn to bring you all back down to earth,” he said.

Earlier this month, the federal government pledged initial funding of $15 million to get the agency off the ground on July 1, predicting the industry will be worth $12 billion by 2030.

The state’s bid for the headquarters of the nation’s first space agency will be discussed at an Aerotropolis investor forum, hosted by Ms Berejiklian and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney on Monday.

ANZ admits errors in giving franchise loan

ANZ executive Kate Gibson says numerous errors were made when granting a small business loan.A senior ANZ executive admits a $220,000 loan given to a couple for a gelato franchise was not done with the care and diligence expected of banks.

Kate Gibson, previously in charge of small business but now head of home lending at the bank, was grilled over the 2014 loan at the banking royal commission on Wednesday.

The money was given for the first n outlet of a New Zealand gelato chain, which ultimately failed, largely based on a business plan filled with pages of “clip-art”, the commission heard.

The borrowers complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service that ANZ should not have approved the business loan and other credit facilities totalling $220,000 because they could not service the debt.

The ombudsman found in the customer’s favour.

Ms Gibson admitted a “number of errors” were made by the bank – including basic data entry mistakes, which other people then relied upon.

“Errors are going to be made, that’s just life,” she told the commission.

“There are human beings involved and errors will be made. But when I stepped back and looked at the cumulative number of errors here I was not comfortable.

“I don’t think that level of error is acceptable.”

Asked by senior counsel assisting Michael Hodge QC whether she thought that ANZ had demonstrated the care and skill of a prudent and diligent banker, Ms Gibson replied: “No”.

Meanwhile, Westpac defended its decision to lend money to a Victorian woman and her business partner for a Pie Face franchise.

Marion Messih gave evidence on Tuesday that she had to sell an investment property when the store she bought with her sister-in-law failed.

She said the bank insisted it would take all of what was still owing on the business loan – not only her half at $165,000 – from the sale proceeds.

Her sister-in-law is now repaying Ms Messih $120 a week.

Ms Messih said she would have had money left over after clearing all her debts, including mortgages on the investment property and her home, through the $750,000 sale.

Westpac executive Alastair Welsh told the commission on Wednesday he reviewed the application and, while conceding there were a “few gaps” in the information provided to the bank, he was broadly “happy with it”.

“The loan should have been made,” the general manager of commercial banking said.

It’s at odds with FOS, which agreed with the woman that the loan should not have been given. However, it found the bank was entitled to take the full amount owed for the business loan.

Mr Welsh acknowledged that the bank was bound by FOS’s ruling but it disagreed with the determination.

Salvation Army latest voice to call for lift in unemployment benefit

AT the start of the month, Liberal MP Julia Banks found herself the object of public ridicule when she said could live on the $40 a day –or $545.80 a fortnight – that a single person with no dependants receiveson the unemployment allowance, Newstart.

Even the head of the Business Council of , Jennifer Westacott, said it was impossible to live on that amount, but when Scott Morrison unveiled thebudget a few days later, Newstart was left as is. Former prime minister John Howard, who put a freeze on Newstart payments in the 1990s, alsoweighed into the debate, saying he believed the policy had “probably gone on too long”.

While the Greens say they are reviving their push for a $150-a-fortnightincrease in the allowance, opposition leader Bill Shorten skirted around the subject in his budget reply speech, saying only that Labor would review the payment system.

As the n Council of Social Service points out, theHoward government’s freeze on Newstart payments mean they havefallen substantially, in proportional terms.

By comparison, theFair Work Commission has setthe national minimum wage for 38 hours at $694.9 a week or $1389.80 a fortnight. A recent University of NSW study found a basic life –rent,food, transport, clothing, health-care and power bills –cost$433 a week or $866 a fortnight.

And now, an annual Salvation Army survey of those using its services has found the average Newstart recipient is living on $17 a day once accommodation costs aretaken care of. The survey does not paint a pretty picture, with 40 per cent of those surveyed experiencing “food insecurity”. Half moved house in the past year, with a quarter moving because of family violence. More than half say they are going backwards financially.

The Coalition government has traditionally viewed Newstart as a temporary payment to tide people over between supposedly short-termbouts of unemployment but official statistics show that more than 180,000 people are unemployed for more than a year, with more than half of these jobless for at least two years. If someone cannot work, our society is wealthy enough to ensure that no person should be left behind. If the government is looking to spend the billions it will not be losing in big business tax cuts, returning Newstart to something like its old relativity would be a good start.

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