Shellharbour Hospital mental health services status disputed

The Health Services Union says mental health services at Shellharbour Hospital have been downgraded, forcing the transfer of high-risk patients to Sydney.

HSU regional organiser Andrew Gorman said the changes meant there were now no high observation beds between Sutherland and the Victorian border.

Mr Gorman said despite the union’s call for more high observation beds at Shellharbour Hospital’s Eloura West facility, it had been downgraded to a general observation unit last week.

That meant the most severely behaviourally disturbed patients would now have to be transported to Sutherland Hospital or beyond for a higher level of observation, he said.

“Around six years ago when the mental health unit at Shellharbour was a separate unit, Eloura West was a high dependency unit where patients were under 24-hour watch,” he said.

“When the mental health unit came under the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD), Eloura West was downgraded to a high observation unit where patients were checked every 15 minutes.

“Now it has been further downgraded to a general observation unit where patients are normally not checked for anywhere between 45 minutes and one hour.”

However, a spokesperson for the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) denied the union’s claims.

“There has been no recent change to the level of service provided in the Eloura West unit,” the spokesperson said. “And the level of observation has always been determined by a person’s individual care plan.”

The unit has been in the spotlight since the alleged murder of 47-year-old patient Joseph Gumley by another patient on July 31 this year.

The unit was temporarily closed and remains the subject of police, NSW Health and internal investigations.

It was partially reopened in mid-August with six of the nine beds available for patients.

On Tuesday, Shellharbour MP Anna Watson, Kiama MP Gareth Ward and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock met with ISLHD management for an update on the situation.

Ms Watson said while the meeting was informative, management had not been able to give a time frame for the reopening of all beds.

“I will be writing to the Minister for Mental Health [Jai Rowell] and demanding the three beds be reopened immediately to help cater for mental health issues in this community,” she said.

“I will also be calling for this government to open up inpatient services in the Shoalhaven.”

Mr Gorman said lack of high observation beds meant mental health patients had to access services in Sydney, which inconvenienced both them and their families.

He said high suicide rates and an ice epidemic throughout the region meant there was more demand for high observation beds, or a return to a high dependency unit.

People with mental illness have access to a broad range of services on the South Coast according to an Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District spokesperson.

These include early intervention, emergency care, assessment, rehabilitation and residential facilities.

There are specialist services for children, adolescents, youth, adults and older people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those from non-English speaking backgrounds.

The mental health facilities include:

■Community residential facilities at Dapto and the newly opened sub-acute mental health unit at Shoalhaven Hospital, which provides a short-stay community-based residential service.

■At Wollongong Hospital there is a general adult inpatient unit, a psychiatric emergency care centre and a dedicated inpatient unit for older people.

■On the Shellharbour Hospital campus there are four mental health units; one observation unit, two general inpatient facilities and an adolescent psychiatric care unit. There is also a rehabilitation unit.

■The mental health service also provides a comprehensive range of non-inpatient services in both outpatient and community settings, including community mental health services and support services.

■There are also specific programs providing services to consumers, family and carer support and health promotion activities.

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Rain would help: Nufarm

“The outlook for the 2015 financial year is spring and summer rainfall plus initial benefits from the restructuring will drive earnings recovery in Australia”: Doug Rathbone.AGRICULTURAL chemicals and seeds supplier Nufarm is banking on spring rains to help boost its profits.

Rain boosts demand for Nufarm’s crop protection products, which include weed, insect and fungus killers.

Nufarm also expects that a reorganisation of its Australian operations, which began in March and aims to lift profits and cut costs, will produce benefits in 2015.

“The outlook for the 2015 financial year is spring and summer rainfall plus initial benefits from the restructuring will drive earnings recovery in Australia,” Nufarm managing director Doug Rathbone announced yesterday.

Nufarm’s business in Australia in fiscal 2014 generated flat sales and lower underlying earnings due to dry conditions and tough competition.

Mr Rathbone cautioned that in Australia nothing was ever perfect in farming.

In some parts of Australia now, marginal crops were being cut for hay, but other crops looked terrific.

“We need a bit more rain in the north. Most of the crop areas in Australia would like a little bit more rain before December so they can finish the crop off nicely,” he said.

“It’s varied, but we’ve got a better year on our hands now than we’ve had for the last two.”

Nufarm yesterday unveiled a 53 per cent fall in full year profit to $37.7 million for the year to July 31.

The result was weighed down by hefty costs from restructuring its Australian and New Zealand businesses.

But excluding those costs, underlying net profit rose 4 per cent to $86.4 million.

Nufarm said dry conditions in Australia and a long winter in the United States had reduced demand for its products and put pressure on margins.

But Nufarm’s South American business performed well, especially in Brazil and Argentina.


Matt Maguire to play on with Brisbane

Matt Maguire has re-signed with the Lions.

SOUTH-WEST export Matt Maguire’s AFL career will extend into a 14th season.

Maguire has signed a one-year contract extension with the Brisbane Lions for 2015.

The 30-year-old, who was aligned to South Warrnambool as a junior, is the only remaining former Rooster at the Gabba after the retirements of Jonathan Brown and Brent Moloney this season.

Maguire, who was part of TAC Cup side Geelong Falcons, played 13 games for the Lions in 2014, providing invaluable experience in a young back line.

Maguire has played 69 games with the Lions over the past five seasons after being recruited from St Kilda during the 2009 trade period.

He has played a total of 168 games, having made his debut with St Kilda in 2002.

Lions general manager of football operations Dean Warren said Maguire was an invaluable member.

“Matt is a fantastic personality to have around the club and the experience he brings to our young group is invaluable,” he said.

“We are really pleased that Matt will be going around again in 2015 and there is no doubt that the likes of Darcy Gardiner and Justin Clarke will benefit immensely from having someone with Matt’s experience alongside them in the back line.”

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Make A Wish fraudster has jail suspended

Thomas Alexius Vandermey had pleaded not guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to 10 charges of attempting to or dishonestly obtaining donations for the Make A Wish Foundation.A MACARTHUR man who posed as a bogus fund-raiser to collect donations for a well-known children’s charity has been handed a suspended jail sentence.

Thomas Alexius Vandermey had pleaded not guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to 10 charges of attempting to or dishonestly obtaining donations for the Make A Wish Foundation.

Vandermey, 53, of Ardonachy Street, was convicted and given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months.

The charges related to his illegal fund-raising in Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Condah, where he collected a total of $310 from the public.

Magistrate Peter Mellas found all charges proven.

He said the offending breached people’s trust as Vandermey had represented himself as an accredited collector.

Mr Mellas said the message had to be sent to the community that anyone who dishonestly raised funds faced the prospect of time in jail. The magistrate said Vandermey had been vague during a 700-question interview with police, claiming he had registered as a collector but had never actually collected money for Make A Wish.

He also told police that people must have confused him with someone else or that they had his fund-raising mixed up with his collections for Relay For Life.

Mr Mellas said Vandermey’s interview with police raised a number of credibility issues and he did not accept the accused man’s evidence.

He said local and national Make A Wish organisers gave evidence Vandermey was never an accredited fund-raiser and had not left money at their offices in Melbourne.

In evidence, Vandermey said he signed up to the Make A Wish Foundation website and followed through exactly as he had done with the Cancer Council’s Relay For Life for the past seven years.

He said he had attempted to find a group walking from Melbourne to Portland for the foundation and tried to get in touch with an organiser, leaving a message, but no one ever got back to him.

Vandermey said he then went to the foundation’s Melbourne headquarters and dropped off money at the front desk.

“I was double-parked. I ran in and dropped off the money and left,” Vandermey said.

“Information in the envelope contained the names of the people I collected from.”

Vandermey said he later received an email thanking him for his generosity.

“I thought ‘well that’s OK, they got the money’. Then I heard a scream about bogus collectors,” he said.

“I thought I was doing the right thing. I’ve suffered ever since.”

In cross-examination, Senior Constable Nathan Brown asked why Vandermey had double parked before allegedly dropping off the fund-raising money.

Vandermey said no parking spots had been available and he had to get to his work for a private contractor in Ringwood.

Vandermey refused to name the contractor, saying he didn’t want his employer harassed.

The magistrate warned Vandermey to name the contractor or face the possibility of being held in contempt, but he still refused. Senior Constable Brown also questioned why Vandermey had not told police during an interview he had dropped off the funds raised in Melbourne.

Vandermey said he couldn’t find the walkers on the road between Melbourne and Portland but denied he stole any funds he collected. “I didn’t need it at the time. I had inherited a heap of money,” he said.

Vandermey has a number of prior court appearances, mainly for street offences.

Vandermey said he had been involved with Relay For Life for seven or eight years and had volunteered with primary schools and sporting clubs.

He said the mother of his two daughters walked out when they were toddlers and he raised the girls largely by himself, but he suffered a heart attack in April this year.

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Hawks to harness 2012 heartbreak, says Lewis

Warrnambool export Jordan Lewis says the Hawks will use the heartbreak of their 2012 grand final loss to Sydney as motivation for Saturday’s rematch.JORDAN Lewis plans to harness the heartbreak of grand final day two seasons ago when Hawthorn chases a slice of club history against Sydney on Saturday.

The Hawks and Swans clash in the 2014 grand final at the MCG, a repeat of the 2012 decider which Alastair Clarkson’s men lost in agonising fashion.

Lewis, whose side won all the key statistics but lost 14.7 (91) to 11.15 (81), said the defeat had not been a talking point behind closed doors this week.

But the Warrnambool-raised onballer believed the players who remained — 17 if Cyril Rioli and Brad Sewell earn recalls —would use the result as motivation. “We haven’t actually spoken about it yet but I imagine the players in their own time would be thinking about it,” Lewis told The Standard yesterday.

“No one wants to experience a loss on grand final day. You don’t have next week to redeem yourself.

“I imagine some of the guys would use that as some sort of motivation. I feel sick in the stomach when I think about that game.

“If you’re ever out on the field and you’re stuffed and can’t be bothered running, you think about those five minutes after the grand final and that gets you through.”

Lewis, 28, said the loss proved the football adage that anything can happen in grand finals.

He highlighted the 2013 grand final, which Hawthorn won against Fremantle despite being under siege at various stages, as further proof.

“We sat down after the game (in 2012) and every indicator we take we were in front. You sit there and think, ‘how come we didn’t win?’,” he said

“For a long time they had a run-on and managed to kick two goals late which put them in front. We ran out of time to run them down.

“Then you look at last year, we didn’t win as many indicators as we would’ve liked but we still won the game.

“That sort of stuff goes out the window come grand final day. It’s a tight contest. It’s a different game to normal. It’s a fierce battle.”

Lewis has declared himself fit for the grand final, despite suffering a corked thigh in the heart-stopping preliminary triumph against Port Adelaide.

Opening up on the injury, which forced coaching staff to substitute him in the third quarter, he said he was confident of being 100 per cent fit by Saturday.

“I’m a pretty optimistic sort of person. Those sort of thoughts (about missing the grand final) didn’t creep into my mind at any stage,” he said.

Lewis said he was attempting to remain as calm as possible this week.

“It’s funny. Coming into a grand final, if you think about it too much early on in the week, you can drain yourself out,” he said.

“I’ve learnt over the years not to get too excited too early. There are certain things in the week that are different but a lot of it remains the same.

“Everything done at the club is the same as a normal week, except our Thursday training sessions — there’s going to be 10,000 people there.

“That and the grand final parade are two really different things. We tell our players to enjoy them, don’t shut them out. You might not get this experience again.”

First bounce in the Swans-Hawks showdown is at 2.30pm on Saturday.

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Mateship pushed aside in IPL final


Bulli’s Dean Heffernan. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Theyplayed side-by-side on the A-League’s biggest stage, but Bulli midfielder Dean Heffernan isn’t planning on paying former teammate and Dapto-Dandaloo player-coach Noel Spencer any favours when the pair meet on Sunday.

The former A-League duo will face-off at opposite sides of the Illawarra Premier League decider at WIN Stadium, which will potentially bring to a close two illustrious careers.

Spencer has already made the decision to hang up the boots at season’s end while Heffernan’s playing future will come under the microscope after the grand final stoush.

Both had extensive careers in the A-League and the old NSL and teamed up for Central Coast Mariners in their 2006 1-0 grand final loss to Sydney FC.

Heffernan, who was later sent off in Perth Glory’s 2012 grand final defeat, described his former teammate as “one of the best captains” he has ever played under, but admits any history will be cast aside on Illawarra football’s grand final day.

“He is a good bloke and a good player, but he is not going to get a present this week,” Heffernan said.

“Maybe if I see him out I can buy him a beer or something.”

While it mightn’t have the same prestige as an A-League decider, Heffernan was adamant he’d be taking things just as seriously come kick-off.

“A grand final is a grand final. There is no easy way to get to a grand final let alone win the league, so this one will be rated up there with all the other grand finals,” Heffernan said.

Many will be expecting the former A-League defender to play a starring role on Sunday.

But with an impressive young squad by his side, Heffernan was confident the entire League Championship-winning side would be ready for the rigours of a grand final stoush.

“The thing is with these boys, they love the big occasion and they love the big games,” Heffernan said.

“There are a lot of young players and really good players. I have been so impressed with all of them. Their attitude and things like that. I think all these boys will be well up for it to play on WIN Stadium in front of a decent crowd.

“There are so many people who put a tireless amount of effort every weekend and every week for us boys to only have to worry about training.

“All we can do is repay all that on the pitch.”

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No pressure on Cyril Rioli

Cyril Rioli at Tuesday’s training session at Waverley Park. Picture: GETTY IMAGESAUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL

IfHawthorn’s Cyril Rioli gets a game in Saturday’s AFL grand final, he won’t be under pressure to win the match off his left boot.

Rioli’s dual-premiership teammate Sam Mitchell says the small forward, who suffered a hamstring injury in June and made his comeback in the VFL last weekend, just needs to play his role.

“It’s not about absolutely firing,” Mitchell said on Tuesday.

“For Cyril, it’s not about getting best on ground or kicking five goals or setting up five goals.

“It’s about whether or not we think he can play his role.

“That’s the decision and I’m very, very thankful it’s not mine because it would be very difficult to leave Cyril out of a grand final.”

Mitchell says 2012 All-Australian Rioli would be prepared to sacrifice his own personal glory for the team if he felt he wasn’t fully fit to take on the Swans at the MCG.

Rioli was rested at three-quarter time in last week’s VFL grand final between Box Hill Hawks and Footscray.

“It’s going to come down to an honest conversation,” Mitchell said.

“Cyril, for anyone that knows him, would be the first to put his hand up and say ‘I’m not ready’.

“If he says he is, there’s a decision to make for the match committee, and if he can play his role to a level that’s better than whoever he replaces, he plays.”

Ruckman Ben McEvoy and veteran onballer Brad Sewell are also pushing for recalls to the senior side.

“You look at Ben McEvoy and he’s played four best on grounds in a row in the VFL and still hasn’t had a look in,” Mitchell said.

“In any squad there’s real depth if you get this far. It’s not like 22 players get you to a grand final.

“We had 18 players get a vote in the Brownlow last night, which was by far the most.

“We have very good depth in our squad and there’s going to be a sad story for someone on the weekend.”

Mitchell said the Hawks were blown away by Sydney’s 71-point win in their preliminary final against North Melbourne.

“We all watched Sydney on Friday night and thought ‘wow’,” Mitchell said.

“We’re underdogs as far as everyone thinks, and that’s probably rightly so. They deserve to be the favourites.”

Former skipper Mitchell says it’s fitting that current captain Luke Hodge will reach a milestone on Saturday by playing his 250th game.

Mitchell said Hodge’s match-winning smother off the boot of Port Adelaide’s Brad Ebert in the last minute of Hawthorn’s three-point win last weekend was typical of Hodge.

“In finals, sometimes composure is what makes all the difference,” Mitchell said. AAP

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Murder victim’s father jailed for car crash on ice

Geoffrey Hocking, 60, of Ballater Street, Portland, was jailed on August 5 in the Portland Magistrates Court, but appealed against the severity of his sentence.THE father of a Portland murder victim has started a six-month jail sentence after causing a car accident while under the influence of the drug ice.

Geoffrey Hocking, 60, of Ballater Street, Portland, was jailed on August 5 in the Portland Magistrates Court, but appealed against the severity of his sentence.

Late last week he abandoned his appeal and started serving the six-month prison term.

Hocking’s son, 20-year-old Troy Hocking, was gunned down in a Portland residential street on October 15, 2012, during a Portland drug turf war for allegedly owing a $65,000 drug debt.

On December 30 last year his father caused an accident in Percy Street, Portland, when he veered onto the wrong side of the road and ran into a vehicle containing four people, including a mother and her two children.

The court heard that although no injuries were caused, the family members were put in extreme fear.

Hocking pleaded guilty in the Portland court to six charges, including driving under the influence of drugs (methamphetamine) and driving in a dangerous manner.

His new six-month jail term included a previously suspended jail sentence.

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Coastal plan hails potential of Peterborough

Peterborough, described in a draft masterplan as “an idyllic playground”, is listed for a local history museum, upgraded boat ramps and an extended golf course.AN extension of Peterborough’s golf course, a pedestrian-focused town green in Port Campbell and an eco-adventure hub in Princetown are among the bold visions outlined in a draft masterplan to boost tourism numbers on the Shipwreck Coast.

Peterborough, described in the plan as “an idyllic playground”, is also listed for a local history museum.

The document, which is out for a month of public scrutiny before being adopted, proposes better connections to nearby coastal parks and a revamp of the foreshore area, including ramps and decks to the Curdies inlet and Newfield Bay.

Irvine Road and Irvine Street have been listed for new north-south tree plantings, a cluster of recreation uses including wetland boardwalks and small-scale accommodation including a local café/provedor.

A town green is proposed to edge the south-east end of Irvine Road with a visitor pod, transport stop, bike share base and play and picnic facilities facing the beach.

“There is also potential for private-sector investment with an extension to the golf course if the land becomes available,” the plan says.

“Extension of the golf course will provide an opportunity for a new clubhouse to be established in a north-facing and relatively wind protected location close to the Curdies inlet which will in turn support existing and proposed accommodation offers.” Upgraded boat ramp facilities and a deck with multi-season bar/café are also in the plan.

Port Campbell is described as the historic heart of the Shipwreck Coast and is proposed as the head link with trails looping east and west.

The southern end of Lord Street is proposed for a “town green”.

“The green presents a unique opportunity to achieve a wind-protected, sun-filled space with opportunities for seating, shade and beach-edge views coupled with a retail edge,” the plan says.

A pedestrian-friendly main street would be encouraged.

“An opportunity exists for further private sector tourism investment near the rifle range or Two Mile Bay,” the plan says.

The Parks Victoria office would be moved to the depot and be replaced by a public transport park and ride hub which would also have a visitor centre.

In Princetown proposed new recreation attractions include boardwalks, viewing hides, a kayak/canoe and bicycle hub and a trail loop to the Glenample Homestead.

New trails, lookouts, access steps and pedestrian and bicycle bridges over the Sherbrook River are proposed along with a visitor pod on the Great Ocean Road.

The draft masterplan is available on the shipwreckcoastyourplan website.

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Port Waratah Coal cuts 32 jobs

ANOTHER 32 coal industry jobs are threatened after Port Waratah Coal Services announced more retrenchments at its Carrington and Kooragang Island coal terminals.

PWCS chief executive Hennie du Plooy said the company wanted to retrench 14 operators and trades people, nine staff and nine contractors.

But Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state organiser Cory Wright said unions were unhappy at the way the company had ‘‘announced the job cuts by press release’’ and that the loss of unionised jobs would be opposed.

‘‘We have a meeting with the company at 9.30am on Thursday and we need to see the evidence for them being genuine redundancies,’’ Mr Wright said.

‘‘There will be some older workers happy to take a package but as far as the union is concerned the important thing is to protect permanent jobs in the long run.’’

The latest cuts follow the loss of 34 jobs announced in July.

In total, PWCS will have shed about 10per cent of its workforce in the two tranches of retrenchment, but it still employs about 350 people and about 190 contractors.

Tonne for tonne, PWCS employs far more people than the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group terminal on Kooragang Island, which was built to be as mechanised as possible.

Mr du Plooy said on Tuesday the job cuts were part of the coal industry’s ‘‘focus on improving efficiency and productivity in response to current market conditions’’.

“We recognise the impact of changes like this on people and therefore don’t make these decisions lightly,” Mr du Plooy said.

“Industry demand for Port Waratah’s coal handling services remains high but it is important that we position our business to support the sustainability of the coal chain as a whole.’’

A PWCS spokesperson said the company expected to ship slightly more coal this year than last year.

He said coal companies were lodging their requests or ‘‘nominations’’ for capacity next year, with the results likely to be known in November.

Latest figures from the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Co-ordinator, which oversees the movement of coal from mines to the port, show that the industry is producing about 95per cent of the coal it expected to ship at the start of the year.