Workshops aids Armidale foster carers to establish bond with kids in need

GUIDANCE: Dawn and Dennis talk about their foster caring with case worker Leah Hall before this weekend’s training workshops.FOR Dawn and Dennis, the first two hours after meeting a new foster child are crucial.
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“In that time you kind of observe them and suss them out,” Dennis said.

The couple, whose last names have been withheld to protect their address, have looked after about 20 foster children in just under four years.

They were trained as foster carers by Foundations, which will be hosting training in Armidale this weekend for anyone interested in becoming a foster carer.

The free training will be run on Saturday and Sunday, with a second two-day workshop next Monday and Tuesday.

Foundations Care manager case worker Kylie Giles said it was an opportunity for people to find out if foster care is really for them.

Dawn and Dennis have cared for children up to 16yearsold and said what really helped them was the support from the staff at Foundations Care.

Foundations Care is currently in contact with 64 foster carers throughout the New England.

Those seeking more information should contact Foundations Care on 6707 1000.

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Elyard’s work on exhibition

AN exhibition of local artist Samuel Elyard has opened at the Shoalhaven City Arts Centre in Nowra.
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Something of an unsung hero, Samuel Elyard arrived in the Shoalhaven in 1868 and died here in 1910, and during this time recorded buildings, landscape and the river in art – mostly watercolour – that is celebrated as one of the treasures of our region.

This exhibition, Of Time and Place, will be open until December 7 and surveys his watercolours of the area from his first to last works, and briefly looks at works in oil, drawing and photography.

The exhibition is being staged in the main gallery.

On November 8, exhibition curator Max Dingle, will give a talk and guided tour from 1.30pm.

The access and east galleries feature Lost In Waste: A Landfill Odyssey, while in the foyer gallery is Seeking The Silence by Lissa de Sailles, the culmination of a yearlong journey into the ancient process of basket weaving and experimentation with mainly locally sourced plant fibres.

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Unique gifts on offer at Christmas Fair for children’s charity

Zoe Adams, 14, was finishing off her array of handmade items yesterday before the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) Christmas Fair at the Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Friday and Saturday. Picture: Laura Hardwick
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IT’S time to get that Christmas list written and start shopping, there’s only nine weeks left until December 25.

And what better way to get a head start on all that festive fun than this week’s Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) Christmas Fair at the Murrumbidgee Turf Club?

From handmade decorations and artwork to hot water bottle and iPad covers, there’s sure to be something for everyone, according to president of the Wagga CMRI committee Fiona Hamilton.

“It’s a place where people come to find gifts that are unique,” Mrs Hamilton said.

“A two-day window of opportunity to come and buy those different bits and pieces.”

The committee has spent the past six months preparing for this year’s 27th annual event, which will see more than 90 stalls from as far afield as Queensland and Victoria show their wares.

Wagga’s Zoe Adams, the event’s youngest stallholder at just 14, was putting the final touches on her array of handmade items yesterday.

“I just love craft and I’m inspired by nature,” the Kildare Catholic College year 9 student said of her pieces.

“I don’t really do it to make money, I do it to support the charity.

“I just do it because I love it.”

Ten per cent of each of the stall’s takings are donated to the CMRI and Mrs Hamilton said the aim was to raise $49,000 to purchase a specific piece of equipment.

The QIAGEN real-time PCR cycler – a vital piece of equipment for speeding up genetic research – will be placed in the institute’s Sydney research laboratory recently named after the city in honour of more than $1 million the committee has raised for research into children’s disease.

“We’re looking to, every year, buy one specific piece of equipment,” Mrs Hamilton said.

“It just adds to the transparency … people can say ‘this is what we’ve done’.”

WHAT: Children’s Medical Research Institute Christmas Fair

WHEN: Friday 10am to 5.30pm and Saturday 9.30am to 4pm.

WHERE: Murrumbidgee Turf Club

COST:$5, children 14 and under admitted free.

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Broadband ball rolling

SIGNIFICANT parts of the Loddon Mallee region will soon have access to high speed broadband, and communities can start reaping the benefits for business, health and education, the iBendigo Loddon Mallee Chairman Bruce Winzar said yesterday.
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Mr Winzar has welcomed NBN Co’s announcement of NBN fixed wireless coming soon to Mildura, Swan Hill, Campaspe, Loddon andGannawarra Shires.

Good news: iBendigo Loddon Mallee chair Bruce Winzar.

“NBN Co is now starting to consult with five local government areas across the Loddon Mallee region, to start the ball rolling on fixed wireless.

“As a group we welcome this action, which means significant parts of the Loddon Mallee region will soon have access to high speed broadband, and can start reaping the benefits for business, health andeducation.”

NBN Co will work with local councils on the network design and rollout, consulting with communities about the number and location of the fixed wireless facilities.

According to NBN Co, the fixed wireless service will offer telephone and internet service providers wholesale speeds of up to 25 megabits per second download and five megabits per second upload.

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The election and the dismissal: How Fairfax papers saw the events

Gough Whitlam’s three years as prime minister would be some of the most transformative and energised in Australian history. This was no more obvious than in the media coverage of Australia’s 21st prime minister and his government.
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The long-term effect of his time in government is beyond doubt – evident in the almost universal expressions of respect, awe and admiration following his death on Tuesday morning. But it cannot be forgotten that the revolutionary and short three years were also divisive and tumultuous. Fairfax’s newspapers reflected this.

The Election – 1972

“MASSIVE SWING PUTS LABOR IN,” boomed the The Sun-Herald on December 3, 1972, a picture of Whitlam with his formidable partner Margaret accompanying the article.

A special edition of The Age on Sunday (The Sunday Age was established in 1989) declared “It’s Labor, Easily”.

Days later, the December 6 front page of The Age was a perfect illustration of the zeal with which Whitlam approached reform. Headlines pointed to Whitlam’s rapid action on ending the draft and a dramatically different approach to foreign policy, including Australia’s approach to China and various other controversial issues.

The page also recalls the extraordinary “two-man ministry” that consisted of Whitlam and the deputy prime minister Lance Barnard. The two of them would enact many significant reforms before the full cabinet was formed in late December.

The Dismissal – 1975

The dismissal would divide not only the nation but also its newspapers.

In Melbourne, The Age would unequivocally condemn the move. In Sydney, the Herald would entirely support it.

“The propriety and wisdom of his action should not be in question,” lectured the Herald’s front-page editorial. “They should not be in question because, as he makes clear, the course he has taken was the only course open to him.”

“Let this be said. This crisis from the beginning has derived from the deep division of opinion among Australians about the larger crisis – our deteriorating economy, declining confidence in the government’s managerial competence and its integrity, growing disillusion with its extravagant socialist aims and its honesty in promoting them.”

The Age would also run an extract from its editorial on the front page: “The decision of the Governor-General was, we believe, a triumph of narrow legalism over common sense and popular feeling. We believe he was wrong.”

The Canberra Times would lead with “FRASER IS PRIME MINISTER” across the top of the page, and then detail the “Protests, strikes backlash” that followed the shocking and unprecedented events.

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Reverence from those too young to witness Gough Whitlam as prime minister

Young people in Labor talk of the years Gough Whitlam was in power as a golden age of action. Photo: Steven SiewertGough Whitlam dead at 98Changing a nation: What Gough Whitlam did in powerObituary: Martyr for a moment, hero for a lifetime
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The outpouring began instantly and flowed through the day. It seemed no friend or follower could resist posting their tribute to Gough Whitlam. In the age of social media it becomes almost insensitive not to, as if the world might note your failure to sufficiently mark the occasion.

What struck me was the universality and intensity of worship from my fellow-travellers under 25. We had no experience of the man – he had barely delivered a public speech in our lifetime – but we were intimately familiar with his work. I spoke with a number of friends, some of them actively involved in politics, others on the periphery, about why.

Karen Chau, 23, migrated here from Hong Kong with her parents in 1997. The first thing they did was sign up for Medicare. That, and the more supportive and inclusive country for which she also credits Whitlam, loomed large in her parents’ decision to make Australia their home. Of all the prime ministers she studied at school, Whitlam was the one she singled-out for further reading.

“What [he] showed was that you could be an idealist, and you can enact those ideas into tangible reforms that leave a legacy and make a difference to people’s lives,” she said.

Shaun Crowe, 25, squeezed into his size-six childhood “It’s Time” T-shirt on Tuesday and wore it to work, where he tutors in Australian politics. “He’s probably the first politician that I looked up to,” he said of Whitlam. “It was the ambition of his person and his politics.”

For Crowe, it was Whitlam’s grand narrative that stood the test of time – seeing Australia “as a project that was worthy of being big”. That meant funding the arts, expanding access to higher education and healthcare, and involving everyone in the journey toward a “new nationalism”.

Young people in Labor talk of the Whitlam years as a golden age of action, when the candle burned half as long but twice as bright. Even those on the party’s right gush about that long-awaited victory in the dying days of 1972, and the injustice of the dismissal – a raw, human sadness about time cut short while there was still so much left to do.

“My grandparents brought me up on the Whitlam story,” said John Harding-Easson, 22, who met the man several times. “My grandma never spoke of something with as much passion.”

There is a reverence for Whitlam that transcends the bitter, sometimes immature divisions among young hacks. Greens admire him, if not as a hero of the left, then as someone who stood for and acted on principles that are absent in the modern ALP.

“A lot of Gough Whitlam’s reforms were the products of social movements of his time,” said Rafi Alam, 22. “But not actively working against the social movements of your time is more than you can say for any other PM in the past few decades.”

Conservative friends posted tributes that were genuinely heartfelt and appreciative. Some remarked, perceptively, that such bipartisan respect had not been granted upon the death of Margaret Thatcher. They all gave credit where it was due.

“A prime minister that not only inspired young people in his own party but inspired a generation of young right-wingers to enter politics and defend important institutions and values like the constitution and the free market,” Dean Shachar, a 19-year-old Liberal, said.

But time and time again, people came back to Whitlam’s social agenda. Social justice weighs on young shoulders in a way that economics does not – we are connected to a sense of fairness long before we are connected with mortgages and interest rates. Women’s rights and equal pay; returning land to Indigenous peoples; the Racial Discrimination Act – there is a consensus among the young that Whitlam embodied their hopes for this country’s future, long before their time.

Whitlam is the reference point for today’s disillusionment with politics. How busy and exciting those three years seem when pitched up against today’s timidity, soundbites and deference to committees, reviews and processes.

For people whose entire memory of politics is the blanket conservatism of Howard and the muddling centrism of Rudd and Gillard, Whitlam is a faint beacon of hope in the rear-view mirror. His legacy dares us to dream – that if a leader of such calibre could exist before, one might yet appear again. That if such zeal had once prospered, albeit briefly, its time may come once more.

Whitlam was remembered on Tuesday as a “giant of his era”, but this is inadequate. He was a giant of my era, too.

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Gough Whitlam helped big things grow for indigenous people

In Aboriginal communities across the nation there are people named Whitlam, in tribute to the man who might be regarded as Australia’s first prime minister for indigenous affairs.
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“All of us as Australians are diminished while the Aborigines are denied their rightful place in ths nation,” Gough Whitlam argued in his 1972 election campaign speech.

On taking office, Mr Whitlam created a department of Aboriginal affairs and appointed the first full-time federal minister for indigenous affairs, who was advised by the National Aboriginal Consultative Council, an elected body set up to give indigenous people a say in the policies affecting them.

“He was a man who sat down with our people and treated them with respect,” said Kirstie Parker, a co-chairwoman of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, the latest of a number of Aboriginal representative bodies that followed the council set up by Mr Whitlam.

His government funded legal services for Aboriginal people, overrode racist state laws and prohibited racial discrimination by legislating the Racial Discrimination Act.

But he is perhaps best remembered for his visit to the Northern Territory community of Daguragu, which was immortalised in the Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody song, From Little Things Big Things Grow.

On August 16, 1975, Mr Whitlam, the “tall stranger” of the song, poured sand into the hand of Gurindji leader Vincent Lingiari, to signify the return of part of the Gurindji’s traditional lands, marking the end of a nine-year struggle, which began when Aboriginal stockmen and their families walked off the Wave Hill cattle station. “We are all mates now,” Mr Lingiari replied simply.

Elders in the community of Kalkarindji, near the site of the old cattle station, met on Tuesday and resolved to hold their own memorial to Whitlam as well as sending representatives to his state memorial service.

Reflecting on Whitlam’s legacy on Tuesday, Marcia Langton, the foundation chair in Australian indigenous studies at the University of Melbourne said: “He ushered in a new era and people of my generation will be forever grateful to him for his courage and vision.”

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Photograph of Gough Whitlam after he delivered his party’s policy on winning government had a life of its own

Blacktown Civic Centre, November 13, 1972. Photo: Rick StevensIt could have been the renaissance in black and white.
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But Rick Stevens’ front page photograph in the Herald on November 14, 1972, of messiah-like Gough Whitlam and an adoring acolyte captured the moment when Labor’s time had finally come.

Whitlam had just opened Labor’s election campaign at the Blacktown Civic Centre and Stevens had slipped from the media pack and made his way onto the stage.

“I wanted to show Gough with people rather than looking up his nose from below. There they were: Bob Hawke, Col Joye, Little Pattie, Clyde Cameron. And then this woman appeared,” Stevens recalled.

“I squeezed off a few frames but my flash didn’t work. I was only a young C grade and panicked, but when I returned to the office to develop the film, all the people were there and I knew it was a pretty good shot.”

Stevens went on to win the Nikon Best News Picture of the Year Award for the photograph.

And if it was an indelible image of the 1972 campaign, it certainly stayed on Gough Whitlam’s mind.

“Eleven years ago, I was driving him to the Sydney Opera House for a photo shoot – it was at his suggestion that ‘two icons were far better than one’ – when Gough started talking about my campaign launch photograph. It was rather nice to be remembered for your work.”

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Gough Whitlam overcame fierce resistance to usher in universal health care

When Gough Whitlam took office, only Queensland and Tasmania provided free public hospital treatment, and more than a million people could not afford insurance. While the then Coalition government provided tax incentives to encourage people to purchase private cover, these were grossly inequitable.
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“I personally find quite unacceptable a system whereby the man who drives my Commonwealth car in Sydney pays twice as much for the same family cover as I have, not despite the fact that my income is four or fivetimes higher than his, but precisely because of my higher income,” Mr Whitlam said in his 1972 election campaign speech.

Mr Whitlam’s solution was Medibank, Australia’s first universal health insurance scheme. The scheme would provide free public hospital treatment and access to a range of other subsidised medical services.

“It was absolutely revolutionary,” recalled John Deeble, who co-authored proposals that formed the basis of Medibank.

To implement the scheme, Mr Whitlam fought opposition from private health funds, who argued it constituted a socialist takeover, and doctors’ groups, who were worried it would hurt their incomes.

The Medibank bills were repeatedly blocked by the Senate, only becoming law after the first joint sitting of Parliament in Australian history, following the double dissolution election of May 1974.

Medibank began operation little more than a month before “the dismissal” and was largely repealed by the Fraser government, before being restored under the name of Medicare by the Hawke government in 1983.

Mr Whitlam also committed significant funding to build new hospitals, including a seeding grant for the construction of Westmead Hospital in Sydney’s west. His government also funded the construction of community health centres and provided money to the states for alcohol and drug rehabilitation and mental health services.

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Tributes flow as former PMs reflect on Whitlam legacy

Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser said Gough Whitlam was in some ways a mythological figure. Photo: Justin McManusSix former prime ministers helped lead tributes to Labor legend Gough Whitlam on Tuesday, highlighting his contributions to Australian life in the arts, civil society and on the international stage.
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Former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who replaced Mr Whitlam in the dramatic days of the 1975 dismissal, credited his former rival with opening new doors in Australia and helping “to show the possibility of a new and perhaps better future” after leading the ALP out of the political wilderness of 23 years of conservative rule.

“He is in some ways almost a mythological figure, he is revered, whatever the success or shortfalls of his government, he has played an enormously important part in Australians’ life and that can’t be taken from him,” he told Fairfax Media.

Mr Whitlam was a formidable parliamentary performer and a tough opponent, Mr Fraser said, but he had “never had the feeling he carried personal animosity to me as a result of 1975” and nor had the pair discussed those days as “he knew and I knew what the facts were”.

“As we met at different forums, mostly overseas initially, the ice began to break and we established a friendship … it was only later we developed a closeness and a friendship, after we left the Parliament.”

Bob Hawke said the simple truth was “Australia is a better country because of the life and work of Gough Whitlam”.

The longest-serving Labor prime minister said Mr Whitlam would be remembered for everything from civic improvements that put in place sewerage services in Australia’s newer suburbs, through more equitable health and education services, to his vision as an international statesman.

 

“If you look at the two fundamental issues which determine the welfare of ordinary people, that’s health and education. He was absolutely profoundly important in transforming both those aspects of the lives of ordinary Australians,” he said.

Paul Keating, who served briefly as a junior minister in the final days of the Whitlam government, said the Labor leader had “changed the way Australia thought about itself and gave the country a new destiny”, helping create a more inclusive and compassionate society that was more engaged in the world.

“He snapped Australia out of the Menzian torpor – the orthodoxy that had rocked the country asleep, giving it new vitality and focus. But more than that, bringing Australia to terms with its geography and place in the region,” he said in a statement.

“Along his journey he also renovated the Labor Party, making it useful again as an instrument of reform to Australian society. He will missed by all who identified with his values and determination to see Australia a better place.”

John Howard said Mr Whitlam, who had been prime minister when he entered Parliament in 1974, was possessed of high intelligence, a commanding presence and strong beliefs that left a lasting impact on Australian politics.

“Fundamental to his policy attitudes was Gough Whitlam’s belief that an activist and interventionist national government was always the appropriate response to Australia’s challenges. Whilst there will always be debate on such a proposition, Whitlam’s commitment to it permeated his actions in government.”

And Kevin Rudd, who like Mr Whitlam led Labor out of a long stint in the political wilderness, said Mr Whitlam had left an “indelible mark on Australia” and “Australia will always be the better for it”.

Mr Whitlam’s courage in serving with the RAAF during the Pacific War was often forgotten, Mr Rudd said, as “some also forget his political courage, profound foresight and sheer statesmanship when as leader of the opposition, in the anti-Communist hysteria of the time, he visited China, met Mao and Zhou Enlai, and undertook to recognise China if elected in 1972. Which promptly he did,” he said.

On the domestic front, “Gough’s instinctive embrace of indigenous Australians, and their rights to land, particularly at a time when racism was still alive and well in our country, has made him an unassailable hero in the hearts and minds of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters,” he said.

“Just as his introduction of the Racial Discrimination Act fundamentally reshaped our laws.”

Julia Gillard said Mr Whitlam would be remembered for his impact on Australia’s universities, Medicare, family law, land rights for indigenous Australians and improving relations with China.

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