Canine experience

MEET AND GREET: Senior Constable First Class Nic Whiteside and Harper greet Reidy Park Primary School students. SCHOOL VISIT: South Australian Police Dog Operations Unit Senior Constable First Class Nic Whiteside and Harper with Reidy Park Primary School students Brodie and Lexie. Pictures: SAM DOWDY

DOG UNIT: South Australian Police Dog Operations Unit Senior Constable First Class Bruce Lawton and Rebel enjoyed visiting Reidy Park Primary School, where the dogs completed demonstrations for students.

REIDY Park Primary School students learnt about four-legged members of South Australia’s police force when the SAPOL Dog Operations Unit visited recently.

Three police officers and two dogs from the unit attended the school, along with an officer from Mount Gambier Police.

They spoke briefly to Year 3, 4 and 5 students before presenting a demonstration with the dogs.

Explosives detection dog Harper showed off her skills by detecting an object underneath one of four cones at the back of the school’s gymnasium.

Students praised the labrador forher work when she located the device.

Younger dog Rebel, who is not as experienced as Harper, demonstrated her obedience.

The German shepherd is trained to detect human odour and track down people who run from police.

The dog unit was in the region for a two-week training camp, which finished on Friday.

Training was completed at Port MacDonnell and the Mount Gambier central business district.

Port MacDonnell residents regularly allow police to use their yards for theannual training.

Senior Constable First Class Neil Stevenson said the South East’s environment and community allowed the unit to undergo an intensive training camp each year.

“Some of the residents have been allowing us to complete training at their properties for 10 years,” he said.

“The community reception we receive each year from both Port MacDonnell and Mount Gambier is fantastic and very welcoming.

“We visit one school each year as part of the training, which is good socialising for the dogs and helps them become comfortable around large numbers of people.

“The school visits also provide children with great exposure to police in a positive way.”

The dog operations unit also visits Mount Gambier in an official capacity upon the request of Limestone Coast Police and works closely with South East officers when needed.

Hospital ward handover

CUTTING EDGE: Country Health SA South East regional director Jayne Downs stands at the new 16-bed medical ward, which is a state-of-the-art new addition to the Mount Gambier Hospital. Picture: SANDRA MORELLO HOME STRETCH: Construction worker Craig Gericke is busy in the new consulting and treatment area, which is just three weeks away from being completed.

PATIENTS will start flowing into the state-of-the-art new 16 bed medical ward at the Mount Gambier Hospital following the new wing being handed over to staff Tuesday, September 23.

The new medical ward is the largest addition to the public health facility since it was built in 1997.

The new ward features single rooms with ensuites, two purpose-built bariatric rooms that cater for people weighing up to 300kg, as well as an isolation room for contagious illnesses.

“We are so pleased to see the new ward come to completion,” Country Health SA South East regional director Jayne Downs said on the eve of its opening.

She said staffing for the new ward would be based on nursing hours per patient per day.

“So if we have more patients, we need more nursing hours,” she said.

“If the hospital was full and the new ward was full, there would be more nurses working on the day – it very much responds to need.”

While the hospital would be “okay” with nursing numbers as they stood, she said she would not be surprised if the facility gradually needed more.

She said the new ward would provide a cluster of benefits for patients.

“For patients, it will mean there are more options to have a single room with its own ensuite – that can be really important for people who are particularly unwell,” Ms Downs said.

“It is just a lovely modern spacious facility – we have a wonderful hospital here, but this is even a step up again.”

She said the new wing was “cutting-edge” compared with other country hospitals in the state.

“They are single rooms because that is the standard required if you went to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital,” Ms Downs said.

“It will be a very similar look.”

Asked if the upgrade would help with staff recruitment, she said the new emergency department, mental health unit and ward would be another sweetener for medical professionals to relocate to Mount Gambier.

The new ward will accommodate a variety of patients, with the beds not specifically earmarked for patients, such as palliative care.

“They will be medical beds, but certainly there will be the rehabilitation patients down there but in addition to that it will be who is best suited right across the hospital.”

She said an important feature of the new ward was the two-purpose built bariatric rooms that were designed to cater for very large people.

Meanwhile, the next milestones of the redevelopment would include new consulting and treatment rooms, a new chemotherapy suite and pharmacy.

“The chemotherapy suite will go from our current two chairs to six,” Ms Downs said.

She said the current pharmacy was too small for the expanding hospital.

Meanwhile, the last part of the emergency department refurbishment was on track to be finished within five to six weeks.

Ms Downs said the redevelopment had been phenomenal given contractors only started breaking ground in September last year.

“It really has gone amazingly well,” she said.

Aspiring journalist Brigid makes headlines

A LOVE of language and a nose for news has earned Brigid Auchettl this year’s The Standard Journalism Prize.

First-year Deakin University student Brigid Auchettl, 19, of Warrnambool has won The Standard journalism award. 140923AM76 Picture: ANGELA MILNE

The 19-year-old started her tertiary studies at Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus earlier this year and said she’d already learnt a great deal about modern journalism.

“I always enjoyed English when I was in high school, so that directed me towards journalism,” Brigid said.

The Warrnambool student has undertaken a number of news assignments during the past few months, including a report on the lack of lighting around Wollaston Bridge.

“I know that area really well and plenty of people have said it’s a problem so I thought it was worth reporting on,” Brigid said.

“I interviewed some local residents and (Warrnambool City) councillor Peter Hulin.

“It was surprising how many people felt strongly about it.”

Deakin journalism lecturer Kristy Hess said Brigid was eager to learn about the media and was rapidly developing her journalistic skills at the university.

“The Warrnambool campus helps to nurture future journalists and those with the ambition of working in media-related industries,” Ms Hess said.

“It’s great that Brigid has this opportunity to be connected more strongly with the industry.”

The Standard’s academic excellence prize of $1500 is awarded annually to a Deakin student majoring in journalism who is also a south-west resident.

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Big Sam Burgess rated with the greats

Sam Burgess, Greg Inglis and John Sutton warm up before Souths’ training at Redfern Oval on Tuesday. Picture: GETTY IMAGESSonny Bill Williams has been called a lot of things.

Mostly by Bulldogs fans.

But South Sydney giant Sam Burgess may have a more complimentary term for his Sydney Roosters foe when the dust settles on Friday night’s NRL preliminary final – inspiration.

Sure, Burgess will be out to knock Williams off his pedestal.


But it seems Williams is destined to be held up on one by Burgess.

South Sydney legend Craig Coleman rates Burgess as the best English import to play in Australia and one of the Rabbitohs’ greatest forwards.

But Burgess will be content to earn a tag all too familiar to Williams – winner.

On the field, little has separated the pair since Burgess kicked off their rivalry in spectacular style, bulldozing his Roosters opponent on Williams’ NRL return in the 2013 season opener.

And off it, similar paths await them – both will leave the NRL for rugby at season’s end.

But it seems that’s where the similarities end.

Dual international Williams, 29, has already secured a reputation as one of sport’s most accomplished athletes before he returns to rugby with the Chiefs in New Zealand. He has won two NRL titles.

He effortlessly switched to rugby in a stunning five-year, 19-Test stint highlighted by the All Blacks’ 2011 World Cup triumph.

He even dabbled in pugilism – albeit against opponents who sometimes stretched the term “professional boxer”.

But perhaps his greatest achievement was turning around public perception.

In 2008, Williams was public enemy No 1 after sensationally walking out on NRL club Canterbury with four years left on his contract and linking with French club Toulon.

He ruffled feathers again when he claimed he returned to the NRL in 2013 only because he had to honour a handshake agreement with Roosters chairman Nick Politis.

Two short seasons later and Williams is largely forgiven in the eyes of NRL fans.

Then again, that theory may be tested if Williams runs out against the Bulldogs in the NRL grand final.

And only more success appears on the horizon.

Williams is not only eyeing the 2015 World Cup but also the Rio Olympics where rugby sevens will make its debut. And Burgess?

The South Sydney juggernaut’s reputation as an NRL hard man is secure – just ask Coleman.

“As a South Sydney forward, he is right up there with Ron Coote and Bobby McCarthy,” Coleman said.

“I grew up in the golden era at South Sydney and Bobby and Ron were my heroes but Sam Burgess is every bit as good as them.”

And as an English import?

“I saw them all and in my eyes Sam Burgess is the best,” Coleman said, lifting Burgess above the likes of Ellery Hanley, Mal Reilly and Adrian Morley.

However, Burgess’s NRL legacy will go on the line in the preliminary final when he looms as the key to ending South Sydney’s 43-year premiership drought before taking up a three-year deal with English rugby club Bath.

Some cynics would say Burgess has already followed Williams’ lead by walking away from the last two years of his Rabbitohs contract to switch to rugby.

But in contrast to Williams, Burgess has been given no guarantees ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

His rugby future may be up in the air but he will take a giant step towards defining his NRL contribution on Friday night.

And fittingly, the man whose success Burgess no doubt aspires to repeat, Williams, will be there.

“I know Sam will want to go out with an NRL premiership and Sonny Bill will be no different,” Coleman said.

“But I think Sonny Bill has had enough glory – leave some now for Sam.” AAP

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Sport  stars  help  young  people  make  the  right  choices

Mental health help: Australian netballer Madi Robinson and former AFL footballer Heath Black at the life skills workshop with Brianna Jones, Travis Barrow, and Montanna Mair.MENTAL health was discussed and communication channels opened with V/Line’s Life Training program on Monday.

Australian netballer and Melbourne Vixen Madi Robinson appeared with former Fremantle and St Kilda footballer Heath Black to speak to young people at the Ballarat Netball Association.

Mr Black said he tried to relate mental health issues back to a lived experience, like the anxiety he had before football.

“It’s important to break down those stigmas around mental health and open up communication passages,” Mr Black said.

“The earlier we can educate young people the better. We don’t want them to have any stigma.”

V/Line Life Training has recruited football and netball stars to deliver messages to young people about responsible behaviour and making the right decisions in life since 2007.

The program aims to increase teenagers’ access to services that can help them make the right decisions and cope with challenges.

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GREG RAY: Big two face new test

GEOBLOCKING is the system used by multinational tech corporations to force Australians to pay higher prices for products than those paid by Americans and Europeans.

You strike it when you try to buy something on-line, only to learn that the really good price advertised isn’t available to Aussies.

It’s a bit like the ‘‘Newcastle tax’’ imposed by petrol retailers on our city’s motorists. There is no good reason we should pay more, but because the suppliers have the market sewn up they can charge us whatever they like.

For years Aussies have been fleeced by the geoblockers, who use software to detect what country visitors to their websites live in, before smashing some of them with higher prices or excluding some of them altogether.

Now a federal government competition review has decided that enough is enough and is proposing an education campaign to teach people how to get around the geoblocking software.

It’s a bold idea, and just part of a whole heap of reforms proposed in the newly released Harper Review.

The geoblockers aren’t the only targets: the review has the big supermarket duopoly in its sights too.

The review has backed plans by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to try to stop the big retailers from abusing their market power to the detriment of small businesses.

Not surprisingly, the big two are squealing.

If you believe what their critics have been saying for years, the dominant retailers have made a fair bit of their money by cannibalising many smaller Australian businesses.

If that’s true, any new law that stops them crushing other businesses could interfere with the part of their business model that involves pinching other people’s margins.

We’ve all heard the criticisms and the moaning from small businesses that complain about horrendous demands by the big retailers for ever-lower wholesale prices, for extra levies to support supermarket advertising and still more payments to get your products on the best shelves.

That’s if you can get your business on the preferred supplier list at all, and if you can survive the creation by the big retailers of their own generic brands, often packed and labelled just like yours and specially designed, you might think, to grind you out of business.

And of course we have heard similar stories from farmers, some of whom have complained of being forced to plough their crops into the ground because they couldn’t make the supermarkets happy enough.

From the point of view of the big retailers and the people who guide their decisions, they aren’t doing anything wrong by targeting the margins of their suppliers and by fighting fiercely to keep competing retailers off their turf. Their sole obligation is to maximise returns to their shareholders, and the way the system stands they would be criticised for failing to scoop up any stray cents that might be managing to fall into somebody else’s pockets, especially if it was mere kindness or a sense of fair play that held them back.

So, having been helplessly listening to the victims of retail duopoly power over a span of years, the review is proposing a new system that might actually offer some protection to complainants.

The idea is to replace the present hard-to-use law against the misuse of market power with a new ‘‘effects test’’ that will provide opportunities to punish big companies that deliberately adopt measures that harm competition.

Perhaps as sweeteners, the review is also proposing the deregulation of retail trading hours and letting supermarkets compete with the highly protected pharmacy industry. Oh, and making it easier for supermarkets around the country to sell liquor from their shelves.

Having cheerily accepted those concessions, the supermarket duopolists are squealing blue murder at the prospect of protection for smaller businesses.

Consumers will suffer, the big two have said, with straight faces, apparently.

My guess is that, if the proposal survives the furious lobbying the big two will probably mount against it, consumers will be better off in the long run. It will probably protect a lot of jobs too, I’d suggest.

Now let’s see if it survives.

Rail passing loop construction to begin in 2015

Loop: A new passing loop at Rowsley is expected to cut the number of train delays between Ballarat and Sunshine.CONSTRUCTION of the Rowsley rail passing loop will not begin until 2015.

While work will begin on the Ballan Train Station car park upgrade before the end of the year, the passing loop will be made a second stage of the $14.3 million project.

The passing loop is seen a being one part of critical infrastructure to cut down the number of train delays between Ballarat and Sunshine.

Due to the single-track nature of the majority of the journey from Ballarat to Melbourne, trains are often forced to wait in the passing loops for other trains to pass.

Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the loop would help to improve punctuality and reliability.

“Preliminary design work is well under way on the Ballan station car park upgrade and Rowsley crossing loop,” he said.

“The project is now in the final stages of planning.

“Public Transport Victoria is also completing additional environmental assessment surveys for the Rowsley crossing loop’s alignment.”

Mr Mulder did not respond to questions asking if the loop would help to increase the capacity for the line to add extra services in the future.

V/Line recently published its latest annual report, which was tabled in parliament on September 17.

The report showed a decline in patronage for the 2013-14 financial year, following steady growth in numbers over the past few years.

“While patronage numbers increased on the Geelong, Seymour and Gippsland lines, there was a drop on the Ballarat and Bendigo lines,” V/Line spokeswoman Ebony Jordan said.

“The decline is a result of the line closures during major Regional Rail Link track works and the extension of electrification to Sunbury, with customers now travelling on Metro trains.”

Works were also conducted over the past 12 months between Ballarat and Sunshine to help improve the speed at which trains travel.

The works coincided with Regional Rail Link works and included the replacement of wooden sleepers with concrete sleepers at the Ballarat Railway Station and stabling yard, the removal of mud holes, resurfacing and re-aligning of the track between Rockbank and Ballarat, and the reconstruction of track formation at Ballan.

Ms Jordan said speed restrictions were removed in two places along the line as a result of those works.

She said one speed limit increased from 120km/h to 160km/h and the other increased from 80 km/h to 160km/h.

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Psychiatrist sought

NEW ERA: Mount Gambier Hospital director of nursing Paul Bullen stands in the newly finished six-bed purpose-built mental health ward. Picture: SANDRA MORELLOCOUNTRY Health SA will launch a fresh bid to attract a resident psychiatrist to the Mount Gambier Hospital as a new purpose-built mental health unit is just months away from operation.

While the 16-bed acute medical ward was handed over by builders to staff at Mount Gambier Hospital Tuesday, September 23the six-bed mental health unit will remain idle until an array of specialist staff can be appointed.

If the recruitment campaign is successful, it will secure the first resident psychiatrist in the history of the hospital.

While additional staff will be recruited for the mental health unit, health officials will juggle current employees to staff the sprawling new medical ward.

No additional staff have been employed at this stage, despite the additional beds.

The cutting edge new ward – which mirrors state-of-the art technology and aesthetics of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital under construction – is the biggest section of the hospital’s $26.7m redevelopment.

Staff were busy making beds Tuesday, September 23at the new ward, which is expected to see the first patients later this week.

Country Health SA South East regional director Jayne Downs said the new mental health unit – one of just three in country South Australia – was expected to be busy when it became operational.

“The new units at Whyalla and Riverland have been pretty much full from day one,” Ms Downs said.

“It will provide a whole new level of care and a fantastic option for people to stay locally rather than seeking services in Adelaide.”

She said it would take some time before a mental health team could be assembled for the new ward.

“Early next year it should be up and running,” the health chief said.

Asked if the recruitment of a psychiatrist was likely, she said that was “certainly the plan”.

“There has always been a position here and I think it is quite a tough ask to come out to the country on their own,” Ms Downs said.

She said the city had never had a resident psychiatrist attached to the hospital.

“I think there has been one or two who have been out in the community, but we have certainly never had anyone appointed to the hospital,” Ms Downs said.

Asked about the flow of mental health patients to the emergency ward, she said there were steady numbers.

“The staff have always worked really hard not to admit people unless they really need to – they can be cared for and gain extra support in the community,” Ms Downs said.

She said the new ward complemented existing mental health services.

“There is the community team, the intermediate care team, the community rehab team that is out in the houses and there are the acute mental health nurses,” Ms Downs said.

“If we go back a decade, we really just had the community team I think now we have got such a fantastic resource – it is an exceptional array of services for a country location and for our population.”

The new mental health ward will have an electronic wandering alert system to ensure security and safety.

National contest for pony club five

EMU Creek Pony Club (ECPC) will have strong representation at Australian Interschool Equestrian Championships next week.

Five members of the Terang-based club are bound for Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre for the championships, which start next Monday.

The contingent includes Mercy Regional College pair Polly Moloney, 14, and Erika Grant, 14, and Hamilton and Alexandra College’s Rosie Allen, 15.

Lizzy Kelly, 14, and Airlia Munn, 14, will represent Mortlake College. Asha Kelly, 16, also qualified but declined the offer due to an American exchange trip.

The five are among 95 Victorians in the field and 368 overall. They booked their spots at qualifying events at Ballarat and Werribee earlier this year.

“They’ve all been members of the club since they were five years old,” ECPC district commissioner Wendy Kelly said.

“It’s been fantastic to watch them all come along and go up through the grades. They’re all very committed.

“They have a very good attitude to the sport. They’re competitive but they don’t get stressed about it. They enjoy their competition and all work very hard.”

Kelly said the ECPC riders would compete in a variety of sections at the championships. Polly and Amarah Parc Vandal are in show hunter.

Rosie will be aboard Contagous in the 110cm showjumping class, having placed second over 115cm at national championships last Saturday.

Lizzy and Jack The Rippa are in the 100cm showjumping class while Airlia Munn will be aboard Thornton in the preliminary eventing and freestyle dressage.

Erika and Nawarrah Park Union Jack are also in show hunter as well as intro eventing. Erika will ride a second horse, Alluvial, in preliminary eventing.

“If they perform at a good level on the day they’ll be up there, with a little bit of luck. They have the abilities and the skills to be competitive,” Kelly said.

“Victoria is always very competitive. New South Wales is probably the most competitive state but Victoria always has a high standard.

“They’re hard to beat on their good day. It really depends how the riders perform over a few days.”

Terang College student Laura Shaw, 16, will also attempt to make her mark at the championships as Victorian showing team captain.

Laura will ride Daly Downs Trend in three show horse classes — ridden, led and rider.

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Coledale dealer gets 625 hours of community service

A Coledale man has been slapped with a whopping 625 hours of community service – the equivalent of almost four months’ full-time work – after he was caught selling drugs.

Joel Bennett Forbes pleaded guilty to four charges of drug supply and one charge of possessing ammunition in Port Kembla Local Court on Tuesday, earning him the substantial penalty.

The court heard police attached to Strike Force Lorrie secretly recorded Forbes organising to supply quantities of cannabis on at least four occasions between March 27 and March 31 this year.

He was heard offering to supply the drug to an unknown person at 5.50pm on March 27, while the following day,police monitored a mid-morning exchange of 56.8 grams of cannabis between Forbes and a known male.

On March 31, Forbes was recorded twice supplying cannabis to different people in the space of half an hour. Police swooped on his Hyde Lane home on April 1, uncovering almost 1.2 kilograms of cannabis, including plants that Forbes claimed to have found in the bush.

He admitted to cutting leaf from the plants.

Cannabis resin, seeds and leaf was found throughout the house including the main bedroom and kitchen areas.

Police also discovered a bullet in the main bedroom, which Forbes said he’d been given as a present as his nickname was “Bullet”.

In court on Tuesday, the 35-year-old said through his lawyer that he enjoyed working and would commit to performing community service if given such an order as punishment.

Magistrate Mark Richardson agreed to the order, but handed Forbes 150 hours on each of three drug supply charges and 175 hours on the fourth, giving him a total of 625 hours to perform, or just under four months worth of 40-hour working weeks.

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