Work’s out and the party’s started

Police will patrol parks, beaches and pubs in Melbourne’s south for one of the biggest tradie party days and nights of the year.

Police say many of the 25,000 manufacturing workers in the City of Kingston will be out to lunch or at Christmas parties on Friday as many factories close for the traditional break between Christmas and New Year.

The City of Kingston includes the suburbs of Mentone, Mordialloc and Dingley and has one of the highest numbers of manufacturing workers of any Victorian municipality.

Mentone Hotel functions manager Shae Ffrench said this was the biggest time of the year for party bookings. The hotel had one tradie Christmas lunch booked on Friday, but hosted three the day before.

“Tradie groups can get a bit rowdy in their celebrations, but we have talked to our security about managing that,” Ms Ffrench said.

She said there had been Christmas parties all week and about 20 per cent were trade companies. Others included energy companies, office workers, hospital staff and a doctors’ group.

Inspector Martin Phillips, of Kingston Police, said in the past anti-social behaviour and street offences had been a problem.

He said police had worked with local employers in the past three years to promote safer behaviour at parties such as providing food and encouraging responsible alcohol consumption as part of Operation Tradestamp.

“We have had a steady decrease in anti-social and street offences over the years,” Inspector Phillips said.

Inspector Phillips said Operation Tradestamp also reminded employers they were responsible for their workers’ behaviour, even if the party was off-site.

He said fights between co-workers were common at work functions. He said the blitz would include random breath testing.

“We will also have a number of officers focused on road safety so if you are driving through then you can expect to be breath-tested,” Inspector Phillips said.

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Church psychologist cautioned over conduct

THE Catholic Church’s Melbourne psychologist had engaged in ”unprofessional conduct” when counselling a victim of clergy abuse, the Psychology Board of Australia has found.

Peter O’Callaghan, QC, the independent commissioner of the Melbourne archdiocese’s internal complaints process for victims, Melbourne Response, refers victims to Carelink to arrange counselling and professional support.

Susan Sharkey, co-ordinator of Carelink, discussed her own personal life with a victim, Noreen Wood, failed to prepare treatment and breached her privacy in counselling sessions with her over a year, the board’s professional standards panel said in its decision, obtained by Fairfax Media. Ms Sharkey denied that the 35 meetings, which took place at restaurants and cafes between 2004 and 2005, were counselling sessions, saying they had been to support Ms Wood until she found a suitable therapist.

”The panel considers that Ms Sharkey did counsel as alleged and should have recognised that that was what she was doing,” the panel said.

”Ms Sharkey has continually denied that she was counselling, but the panel has no doubt that is exactly what she was doing and that she was doing it inappropriately.”

The Jesuit order of the Catholic Church paid for the sessions after Ms Sharkey sent them a bill on her private practice stationery, calling them ”counselling sessions”.

Ms Wood said she did not feel vindicated by the decision ”because this situation should never have happened”.

She said she began seeing Ms Sharkey regularly because of her complaint with the Catholic Church. The Jesuit order, then not subject to the Melbourne Response, would not listen to her complaint before her settlement with the order in 2003.

”Originally, I was bewildered as to why she was taking me weekly for lunches, but then I just gathered that it would fit into her timetable.

”I wasn’t overly perturbed. You’ve got to understand that when you’ve got a lot of issues you’re not thinking.”

The Psychology Board has cautioned Ms Sharkey and allowed her to continue to be registered as a psychologist, but only if she is supervised weekly for the next 12 months by a senior clinical psychologist or a senior counselling psychologist at her own expense.

A spokesman for the archdiocese said Ms Sharkey was ”confident she has acted professionally at all times”.

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TOPICS: iFall – a phone’s tale of survival

WHEN the iPhone 5 came out, Apple called it ‘‘the thinnest, lightest, fastest ever’’.

They can probably add ‘‘toughest’’, after one fell five storeys in Newcastle yesterday and lived to play back its ordeal.

BEFORE: The view from Glyn Thomas’s iPhone before its tumble.

Novocastrian Glyn Thomas was on the roof of an office building at Honeysuckle filming the Forgacs floating dock as it left the harbour when his iPhone slipped from his grasp.

The phone tumbled, still recording, for what seemed like an age, then hit a first-floor roof.

The footage recovered later is an unnerving insight into what it would be like to fall from a building.

AFTER: What the phone saw – a concerned Glyn Thomas’s head peeping down.

The phone landed face up, somehow intact and working. For a moment in the video you can see Mr Thomas peering down, forlornly, from the balcony above but his dismay became amazement.

‘‘Best news is the iPhone 5 survived with only a slight scratch,’’ Mr Thomas said. ‘‘Five floors and in working order.’’

It wasn’t even in a protective case. We’re getting one.

A knockout find

COL Maybury, of Kurri Kurri, might have found a bit of Les Darcy’s foot. Hear him out.

It all started with a visit to East Maitland Cemetery, where the boxing great is buried in a recently refurbished grave.

Right next to Les Darcy’s final resting place lie the great-grandparents of Col’s wife, Marcia.

‘‘[Marcia’s great-grandparents’ grave] had become shabby and we decided to give it a clean,’’ Col told us.

‘‘We took new stones and scrubbing brushes and flowers. As I was cleaning it I spied a little bone, from some animal, I thought.’’

He snapped a photo of the bone, which was about seven centimetres long, and showed it to a doctor. It was identified as a man’s metatarsal (the bone in your instep).

Now here’s the rub, says Col.

Marcia’s great-grandfather was one Ned ‘‘Whistler’’ Doherty, the twinkle-toed Irishman credited with teaching Darcy to dance to help with his footwork in boxing.

‘‘Darcy’s grave does not seem to be well done after $60,000 – but you know what prices are these days and there is a small rat hole left uncovered,’’ says Col.

‘‘Could it be that Les’s foot bone gravitated to Ned Doherty?’’

We’re not sure who exactly does this kind of thing, but Col is keen to have the bone tested to see if it’s Les Darcy’s.

MAITLAND WONDER: Les Darcy’s grave, next to that of his dance instructor, Ned Doherty.

LEGEND: Les Darcy.

Workingon thebig day

MYSTERY: The bone discovered between the graves.

WE suggested doing something nice for people who have to work Christmas Day (like, ahem, journalists).

Bob Ingle, from Karuah, points out that men and women in the Defence Force will be on call on December 25 in all sorts of places.

‘‘The ADF is a 24/7 job,’’ he says. ‘‘Send them messages [you can write [email protected]] so they know they are not forgotten.’’

Nice idea, Bob.

Reverend Stewart Perry, of St John’s Anglican Church at Cooks Hill, reminded us that he works every Christmas. Poor bloke even has to go to church, though he doesn’t seem to mind.

Ann Bruce, from Lambton, recalls clocking on for 20 Christmas mornings at the service station on Croudace Road.

She worked the 5am to 9am shift. With everything else shut, customers would trickle in seeking ice, drinks and batteries for presents.

‘‘People would bring us little knick-knacks, like boxes of chocolates to share,’’ says Ann.

The pre-dawn shift, swapping gifts and best wishes with colleagues and customers, wasn’t such a bad way to start Christmas Day.


EDITORIAL: Mr Swan dumps his surplus

TREASURER Wayne Swan’s forced backdown over Labor’s precious pledge to keep the budget in surplus should be a lesson to politicians of all stripes.

Economic targets are important things to set, and should not be lightly abandoned.

But they can’t be treated as holy writ. Economic circumstances are notoriously fluid and unpredictable, as any central banker, corporate CEO or small business operator will attest.

Governments make budgets, just like households and businesses do, and in each case it is always acknowledged that unforeseen events might force revisions.

Labor erred in letting its long-cherished ambition to return the federal budget to surplus in 2012-2013 take on the status of a rock-solid promise.

Tax receipts plummeted, the dollar soared and the mining boom slowed down, turning that rock-solid promise into a millstone around the government’s neck. Politically, it was damned if it broke its promise but was economically equally damned if it kept it.

It was an open secret that the appearance of an impending surplus only survived because of a variety of book-keeping manoeuvres in the budget.

It was also becoming clear that sticking to the script while bleeding revenue to the tune of billions of dollars was going to be the greater of two alternative evils.

Applying increased austerity to the economy in an uncertain climate of job losses, depressed demand and struggling industries could only be a recipe for disaster.

By contrast, the threat of being bludgeoned, yet again, by Tony Abbott’s oppositional chorus over ‘‘another broken promise’’ was a less fearsome prospect.

That chorus seems to be wearing thin with much of the voting public, and most people are probably too preoccupied with holiday plans to be bothered with another Coalition broadside.

Labor, not surprisingly, wants to claw back the stimulatory spending undertaken by Kevin Rudd when Australia was first hit by the global financial crisis.

Until recently that seemed achievable in the medium term, but it now appears possible that more, rather than less, economic stimulus – in the form of major infrastructure projects – might be the right prescription for Australia’s particular problems.

At the very least it should be hoped that the nation’s present crop of political leaders may have learned how dangerous it can be to make promises that depend entirely on circumstances beyond their control.

OPINION: State puts potholes in path of education

The state government’s education cuts are a threat to the future of our children, says Alan Green.

THE federal Labor government, through the Gonski Report, is looking at future funding of the educational sector, initially with an increased allocation of funds.

At the same time the state Coalition government has come to the contradictory decision to reduce funding to the education sector.

It appears to me that this state government is more interested in putting money into roads and other infrastructure than into education.

Further, the cuts the government wishes to make will end up costing the state more money.

In my time in education, I have never seen all sectors come together so strongly to challenge an issue.

All the significant players in the education of the youth of NSW are speaking with one voice – the Association of Independent Schools, the NSW Secondary Catholic Principals, the NSW Primary and Secondary Principals, the NSW Parents Council, the Parents and Citizens, the Independent Education Union and the NSW Teachers Federation.

Based on data which is 28 years old, the NSW government wants to freeze funding for the independent sector from July 2013.

Freezing the funding for independent schools will see a reduction over time of about 6per cent per year as the costs to the education sector run at about twice that of the consumer price index.

In addition, since the pool of funds to the independent sector will be frozen and the number of students attending independent schools will continue to grow, the funding to each student in 2014 will be reduced.

Across the state, of the 35per cent of students in the non-government sector, 16per cent are in independent schools and 19per cent are in Catholic schools.

Every student who leaves a non-government school to return to the public sector costs the state government more.

At Newcastle Grammar School, we receive $1721 from the state government for each student in the secondary school; less for primary students.

Is that a fair and equitable share of the tax dollar for our parents?

The state government has also frozen capital funding to schools so it is unlikely that new non-government schools will commence in the major growth areas across the state. If no new non-government schools are set up, then the state will have to educate 100per cent of the students in that area and they will have to pay for the capital costs of setting up those schools.

It will cost the state more.

The NSW government has stated that the cuts to the government education sector will occur in bureaucracy, which means that the cuts will occur outside the school gate.

This will lead to reduced services to students.

In the independent sector, the cuts will have to be absorbed by the individual school. This will lead to either increased fees or reduced programs.

I can put up with a pothole in the road but I am not prepared to see the future of our children jeopardised.

It is time our voice is heard, not only the voice of Newcastle Grammar School, but the voice of the parents of all the students of NSW. Whether our children go to school in Moree, Merriwa or Merewether, they deserve access to a first-class education.

Alan Green is the headmaster of Newcastle Grammar School. This is an edited version of his address to parents at the school’s speech day.