Monthly Archives: October 2018

Fiona Wood’s Wildlife wins a Book of the Year prize in Children’s Book Council awards

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Author Fiona Wood won the Older Readers category of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards with her book Wildlife. Photo: Jay CronanReading was something of an escape hatch for author Fiona Wood during her teenage years as she dealt with the everyday issues that trouble young adults.

The Melbourne author won the Book of the Year (Older Readers) for her novel Wildlife at the Children’s Book Council of Australia awards at the National Library in Canberra on Friday.

“Wildlife’s about identity, friendship, sex and death,” Wood says of her book, a coming-of-age story about two girls spending a term in an outdoor education program.

Wood says it is crucial not to shy away from addressing sensitive issues in young adult fiction.

“For many teenagers the first time they have to deal with these things is through fiction so it’s absolutely crucial that we deal with them in a realistic way,” she says.

“And sometimes teenagers have to deal with some pretty bad stuff; it would be wrong of us to sanitise it.”

Wildlife does not shy away from the issues, particularly sex, but Wood says it is more important than ever to present a positive image of sex and sexuality to teen readers.

“There’s so much unrealistic sex out there; it’s ubiquitous,” she says.

“I wanted to show that sex can be warm and human and fallible.

“Sex at 16 is not about happily ever after, it’s about who am I. Wildlife is a book about identity not a book about sex.

“I want girls to be empowered by it.”

Other winners were Catherine Jinks for City of Orphans: A Very Unusual Pursuit (Younger Readers), the late Jan Ormerod for The Swap (Early Childhood), Shaun Tan for Rules of Summer (Picture Book), and Christopher Faille and illustrator Danny Snell for Jeremy (Information Book).

The president of the CBCA national board, Angela Briant, says: “Enjoying literature is the pathway to literacy. Our children deserve the very best, most inspiring literature that reflects their own, contemporary experience and leads them into being readers for life.”

The 2014 Judges’ Report and the Notable Australian Children’s Books 2014 publication are available online and give valuable insights on each awarded book.

The awards kick off Children’s Book Week, which runs until August 23 with activities in libraries and schools across the country. This year’s theme is “Connect to Reading”. FULL LIST OF WINNERS

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Older Readers

Winner: Wildlife by Fiona Wood (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Honour Books: Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near (Random House Australia)

The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn (UQP)

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Younger Readers

Winner: City of Orphans: A Very Unusual Pursuit by Catherine Jinks (Allen & Unwin)

Honour Books: My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg (Allen & Unwin)

Light Horse Boy by Dianne Wolfer, illustrated by Brian Simmonds (Fremantle Press)

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Early Childhood

Winner: The Swap by Jan Ormerod, illustrated by Andrew Joyner (Little Hare, Hardie Grant Egmont)

Honour Books: I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian, illustrated by Ann James (Puffin Books, Penguin Group Australia)

Banjo and Ruby Red by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Little Hare, Hardie Grand Egmont)


Winner: Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)

Honour Books: King Pig by Nick Bland (Scholastic Press, Scholastic Australia)

Silver Buttons by Bob Graham (Walker Books)


Winner: Jeremy by Christopher Faille, illustrated by Danny Snell (Working Title Press)

Honour Books: Welcome To My Country by Laklak Burarrwanga and Family (Allen & Unwin)

Ice, Wind, Rock by Peter Gouldthorpe (Hachette Australia)

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Australia hanging up on payphones

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Telephone booths are going out of fashion.If you’re walking down the street staring into the bright light of a smartphone, they might be easy to miss.

But they’re still sitting there on street corners and in airports across the country, waiting forlornly for someone to drop in 50 cents and make a call.

The public payphone, once an integral part of staying connected to the outside world, remains in existence but is on life support and becoming increasingly endangered.

The number of payphones across Australia has more than halved in the past decade, from almost 70,000 a decade ago to less than 30,000 last year.

In the early 1990s, at the end of the payphone’s glory days before mobile phones reached saturation point, there were more than 80,000.

At the same time as payphone numbers have crashed, mobile phone use has exploded.

Figures from the Australian Communications and Media Authority show there were more than 31 million mobile services in use last year.

With smartphones just about everywhere, it might be surprising that there are payphones on the streets at all. But people are still using them, if only in a back-up capacity.

ACMA’s research shows 9 per cent of people used a payphone in the six months to May last year.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network chief executive Teresa Corbin said payphones remained an important service, particularly to those on low income or in rural areas.

Telstra is still the main provider of payphones, along with private operators which supply them to shopping centres, casinos and airports.

“The social impact needs to be carefully assessed and taken into account, and broad community consultation occur, before payphones are removed,” she said.

Dr Bruce Redman of the Salvation Army said it was important for those doing it tough to stay connected, whether it’s with their family or other networks.

He said the Salvos might need to rethink their practice of handing out phone cards if payphones become harder to find.

And while recent research by the University of Sydney showed the homeless are big users of mobile phones, Dr Redman said it was often a struggle to keep them topped up with credit.

“Community is a really big part of maintaining a positive sense of mental health,” he said.

Having a payphone close by in an emergency can also be important. Mobile phones are often plagued by battery problems, lack of credit or simply being out of service.

And it’s not just for calling a tow truck during a car breakdown. ACMA said 2.4 per cent of all calls to emergency services last year were made from public payphones.

But despite the rapid rate of its decline and our heavy reliance on mobile phones, the payphone’s future does look secure.

Last year, Telstra signed a 20-year contract with the government worth $40 million a year to maintain its collection of payphones.

There have also been moves in New York, London and New Zealand to convert payphone booths into Wi-Fi hotspots which can be used by smartphones.

It’s an engaging story, the payphone of the future could become a tool of the very thing that nearly killed it.

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Drug-trafficking conman jailed over fake character references

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A drug-trafficking conman who forged a football coaching certificate has been jailed for six and a half years for submitting a fake character reference from a yoghurt company to a judge.

County Court judge Gabriele Cannon said Spiros Zotos, 44, who pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice, had a ‘‘horrendous criminal history’’.

Judge Cannon said Zotos had created, falsely signed and submitted in December last year a character reference from a yoghurt company and another reference from IGA Deer Park ‘‘to present himself in a favourable light’’ when appealing his two-year jail sentence for drug-trafficking.

Zotos and a co-offender had been partners in the Merton Rush Hotel at Morwell and were making plans to refurbish the hotel and provide erotic entertainment but this eventually did not go ahead.

The hotel was running at a loss so Zotos used the back office of the hotel to sell drugs to friends and associates.

Judge Cannon said Zotos’ attempts to deceive the County Court during his appeal by submitting the fake character references was ‘‘a serious matter which warrants a fitting punishment in all of the circumstances’’.

“The most serious aspect of your conduct was your preparedness to provide false documents to the court and to approach others to assist you in conveying such false information,’’ the judge said when jailing Zotos for six and a half years with a non-parole period of four and a half years.

‘‘In particular you were prepared to have your friend … perjure himself in order to help save your skin.

‘‘Also, there was a level of sophistication to the creation of these documents and your commitment to this criminal course was of an enduring nature … Even when interviewed by the police, you maintained the lie.

‘‘Conduct which undermines or threatens the administration of justice is viewed very seriously by the courts.’’

Judge Cannon said Zotos had been introduced to ‘‘a scene involving late nights, gambling and a degree of instability’’ when he went to Brunswick High School in Year 12.

“It was in this context that you commenced to commit dishonesty offences, which essentially became a way of life in the ensuing years.

‘‘While you worked in restaurants along the way, you saw fraud as an easy means to make money, and it appears that you saw the commission of these as something of a challenge or thrill, at least in your younger years. When you were 29 you committed offences which led to your first significant period of incarceration.’’

Zotos was jailed in 2007 for four years and four months after creating sophisticated forgeries purporting to be European and English Football Association coaching licences and a Nottingham Forest Football Club award for coaching services.

As a result, he was given a probationary coaching letter from the Football Federation of Australia, which he used to obtain a Victorian coaching licence, but in the end did not obtain a coaching job.

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Hoddle Street shooter Julian Knight claims compensation as a victim of crime

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Julian Knight in 1986 at age 18. A photo from the scene of the shootings in Hoddle Street, Clifton Hill, in 1987.

Victorian mass killer Julian Knight could broaden his lawsuit against the Commonwealth over injuries he allegedly suffered during bastardisation at Duntroon.

Knight has also launched action against the ACT government for compensation as a victim of crime.

He was a staff cadet at the Royal Military College in Canberra in the months before he went on a 45-minute shooting rampage in the Melbourne suburb of Clifton Hill in August 1987.

He shot dead seven people and injured 19.

He was sentenced to life, with a minimum of 27 years, after pleading guilty to seven counts of murder and 46 counts of attempted murder.

The mass shooting occured while Knight was on bail from the ACT Magistrates Court for stabbing a fellow staff cadet after a fight at the Private Bin nightclub in May 1987. He told police he had fought with the senior staff cadet after he (Knight) ignored an order to stay in the barracks for the night.

He then knifed the man behind the ear.

Court documents, filed by Knight in the Supreme Court, said the mass murderer suffered personal injury as a result of employer negligence. He claims the Commonwealth was responsible through a breach of its duty of care, vicarious liability, and negligence.

Knight claims he was assaulted by other cadets on three occasions during instances of bastardisation while at Duntroon, including the nightclub incident.

He alleges he had been punched in the stomach twice in his company barracks during an exercise in February 1987.

A month later, he claims a number of other senior cadets assaulted him outside the company barracks.

In the third incident at the Civic nightspot, he said he suffered bruising, a broken nose and damaged ligaments in his left wrist after the fight with three senior staff cadets.

Both lawsuits appeared in the ACT Supreme Court for mention before Master David Mossop on Friday.

Knight told the court he intended to broaden rather than narrow his claim.

Master Mossop ordered Knight to clarify his pleadings. He also ordered a timetable for the production of documents to be relied upon in the case.

In the ACT matter, Knight originally filed papers for a criminal injury claim in the ACT Magistrates Court. But the application was refiled in the ACT Supreme Court in June.

ACT government solicitor Julia Noble told the court on Friday the Magistrates Court had jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Knight opposed the move.

Both matters were listed to reappear in September.

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Chemist employee held at knifepoint in daylight robbery

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A chemist employee was dragged to a cash register and forced to open it at knifepoint in a brazen daylight robbery in Melbourne’s west, police say.

Police say a man and a woman entered the chemist on Hampstead Road, Maidstone, just after 3pm on Wednesday.

The woman distracted a store attended at a fragrance stand while the man went behind the counter and tried unsuccessfully to force open the cash register.

A police spokeswoman said the man then threatened a staff member with a knife and dragged her to the register, forcing her to open it.

The pair grabbed cash and aftershave before fleeing the store on foot.

Police believe the man was seen a short time later in a white 2004 Mitsubishi Magna sedan.

He is described as white, about 180 centimetres tall, of medium build and was wearing green Asic shoes, blue jeans and a black hooded top at the time of the robbery.

The woman is described as white, aged between 30 and 40, 170 centimetres tall and was wearing ugg boots, a cream jacket and was carrying a purple carry bag.

Police have asked anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit crimestoppersvic苏州美甲美睫培训学校.au.

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