Home in time for Christmas

A YOUNG Mandurah boy is lucky to be alive after contracting a staphylococcal infection with doctors saying a splinter in his foot was the likely culprit.

Eight-year-old Conor Fahey’s ordeal first started on November 11 when he had an aching pain in his left hip that wouldn’t go away.

His mother Yvonne said she took him to Peel Health Campus (PHC) the following day but he was sent home after a few hours and told to take paracetamol.

Mrs Fahey said Conor’s pain got worse overnight so she took him to their family doctor who said he needed to go back to hospital.

This time PHC did a number of scans and blood tests before telling the family to go home again and come back if it gets worse.

“A few hours later Conor was in acute pain so we went back and they called an ambulance to take him to Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH),” Mrs Fahey said.

“His pain just kept getting worse and worse.

“He was on morphine in the ambulance and was admitted to orthopaedics.

“He went to ICU and he went downhill rapidly.

“His organs started failing and it was just one thing after another.”

Conor spent six days in ICU under the eye of five teams before the diagnosis of a staphylococcal infection.

The infection gave him left pyroformic myecitis which sent shooting pains down his leg, he had staphylococcal septicaemia in his blood, bilateral pleural effusions and the lower left lobe of his lung collapsed.

“He was an extremely sick boy,” Mrs Fahey said.

“He had blood tests every six hours and his body temperature reached 41.8 degrees.

“His throat started closing up one night.

“Every few hours something would happen and there were moments when I thought the worst.

“There was no let up.”

She said it had been a difficult few weeks.

“The situation was quite dire but you just cope because it’s your child,” she said.

“It was difficult for his sisters to see him going through it, though.”

Mrs Fahey said community support had been “amazing” with classmates and soccer team-mates sending Conor gifts and well-wishes.

“It’s one less thing you have to worry about with the community behind you,” she said.

“Just the smallest things helped to bring a smile to his face and take the pressure off us.”

Mrs Fahey said doctors believe the infection was caused by a splinter.

“One doctor started looking at his fingers and his toes and he found a splinter in his foot,” she said.

“He said that was the most likely cause.

“It’s surreal to think all of this was caused by something like a splinter.”

Conor was discharged from hospital on December 6 but his ordeal is not over yet.

“His body has been through a lot and he’s lost a lot of weight and conditioning,” Mrs Fahey said.

“He started physio this week and it will be a few weeks before he can start running.”

As for Conor, he said it had been a “painful” few weeks but he was looking forward to getting back on the soccer field with his friends.

Eight-year-old Conor Fahey, pictured with mum Yvonne, is lucky to be alive.

Conor in hospital.

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Lawsuit over death of jillaroo student adjourned

FAMILY: Juliana and Mark Waugh, whose daughter, Sarah, died in a horse riding accident, with their son, Jonathan, outside Glebe Coroners Court in Sydney in December last year. Picture: JANIE BARRETT Sarah Waugh, 18, who died after falling from a horse in Dubbo in March 2009. She was doing a Jillaroo course with Dubbo TAFE ahead of vet studies and was given a former racehorse to ride.

LAWYERS for TAFE’s Western Institute are still examining evidence from the inquest into the death of Newcastle teenager Sarah Waugh, a Newcastle court heard yesterday.

Members of Ms Waugh’s family are suing the TAFE after the former Newcastle Grammar School student suffered fatal head injuries when she fell from a horse that bolted during a jillaroo course on March 24, 2009.

The civil case was mentioned during a district court callover yesterday where counsel for the TAFE, Michael Weightman, said there was a significant amount of ‘‘liability evidence’’ from the coronial inquest that still needed to be examined.

The case has been adjourned to March next year.

Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund was damning of TAFE when she delivered her findings on Ms Waugh’s death in December last year.

Ms Freund said the TAFE did not properly assess the suitability of horses for beginner riders that were supplied by a contractor and made ‘‘no meaningful risk assessment’’ of the contract with the supplier.

Ms Freund called for an audit and overhaul at the TAFE after stating that the college failed to properly investigate the death.

Ms Waugh, 18, took part in the course near Dubbo as part of her efforts to become a country vet, the inquest heard.

She was riding a four-year-old thoroughbred, that bolted, causing Ms Waugh to slip from the stirrups and fall.

Ms Freund ruled the horse was not suitable for beginner riders.

As well as the civil suit, WorkCover is investigating the institute’s role in the death and may prosecute the college under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The jillaroo course has been suspended.

The civil case, where several of Ms Waugh’s family, including her mother Juliana, are suing the TAFE, was adjourned to allow the institute time to serve evidence on the Waughs.

Fanny’s site has thousand tales to tell

PRINCE: As heard on Fanny’s dance floor in 1984. REPUTATION: Newcastle’s infamous Argyle House has stood the test of time.

STICKY carpet, a secret show by Chisel, romances blooming and dying, pumping local and global dance acts, dance-floor pashes, biffs inside and out, at least one glassing, and the ocean yacht Windward Passage II parked high and dry next door.

There’s not much that Fanny’s nightclub hasn’t witnessed since it opened for business in 1984.

That year the man still known as Prince had a global No.1 hit with When Doves Cry and Fanny’s was primed to build a reputation as the riverside spot to be on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.

For a venue that was set to shake the foundations of Newcastle’s social set for better and worse, it’s probably lucky it chose a rock-solid site.

The now heritage-listed Argyle House, an amalgamation of a group of historic buildings, was the headquarters of the Australian Agricultural Company from 1857 until 1965.

It was the nerve centre of the huge land company that quickly forged a coal monopoly in Newcastle. And since the company moved on, Argyle House has been used as offices, a restaurant and nightclubs run by several owners.

Australian Hotels Association Newcastle president and hotelier Rolly de With said he learnt the tricks of his trade when he got a job there in 1984, then rose to be its manager and owner.

‘‘It was my introduction into the entertainment scene in Newcastle, and about the time I started the Bay City Rollers played – I’ll never forget the queue out the front of people dressed in tartan skirts and bobby socks,’’ he said.

Mr de With noted that love had bloomed and fizzled within the nightclub’s four walls.

Member for Charlestown Andrew Cornwell first visited Fanny’s after finishing his final HSC exam in 1987, and seven years later he was there when he met his future wife, Samantha.

‘‘Back then the crowd was an unusual mix of rowdy 18-year-olds and slightly more staid 40-year-olds and we were caught somewhere in the middle,’’ he laughed.

Mr Cornwell said Fanny’s had had its ups and downs, gone broke and bounced back and yet somehow always survived despite its ‘‘awkward’’ location on the corner of Wharf Road, Argyle Street and Centenary Road.

‘‘It’s only in recent years, with the development of Honeysuckle, that its location became a strength and not a weakness,’’ he said.

Mr Cornwell also believes Fanny’s needs another facelift.


Top 100 Billboard

1. When Doves Cry, Prince and The Revolution

2. What’s Love Got to Do With It, Tina Turner

3. Say Say Say, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson

4. Footloose, Kenny Loggins

5. Against All Odds (Take a Look At Me Now), Phil Collins

6. Jump, Van Halen

7. Hello, Lionel Richie

8. Owner of a Lonely Heart, Yes

9. Ghostbusters, Ray Parker Jr.

10. Karma Chameleon, Culture Club

POLL: Fanny’s nightclub to close

CLOSING TIME: Bonnie Semetka and Rianna Beentjes. Picture: Simone De Peak Fanny’s site hasthousand tales to tell

ICONIC Newcastle nightclub Fanny’s will literally rock out on New Year’s Eve, with its owner confirming yesterday he will close the colourful and controversial venue.

‘‘Fanny’s will always hold a special place in Newcastle history but the city we live in now is different and lifestyles change,’’ said owner Russell Richardson, who plans to give the heritage-listed building a facelift before relaunching the venue – probably with a new name – to appeal to a broader market of revellers.

‘‘We have watched as the foreshore has grown and developed outside our door, as Newcastle turned from coal town to vibrant cosmopolitan centre, and we are heavily investing in seeing Newcastle thrive and maintain that level of growth.’’

To celebrate the end of a heady era lasting almost three decades, Fanny’s will go out with three bangs: Sneaky Sound System plays at the venue tonight, the final raucous student night falls on Boxing Day and it will host a ‘‘last dance’’ extravaganza on New Year’s Eve.

News of Fanny’s closure – which comes one month after it topped the state government’s 2011-2012 most violent venues list with 28 incidents, and days after its licensee, Greg Mathew, was fined $500 over a licensing breach – will prompt a trip down memory lane for many locals.

Australian Hotels Association Newcastle president Rolly de With, who started his career at Fanny’s as a barman in 1984 and bought the business a decade later before selling it to Mr Richardson, said Fanny’s would be missed.

‘‘Times have changed but it’s gone through a number of changes to appeal to different people over the years,’’ said Mr de With, adding that the nightclub had both entertained and employed thousands of locals.

‘‘It does have a soft spot with Novocastrians – a lot of people started their relationships there and quite a few probably ended them there too.’’

Mr Richardson, who owns the King Street Hotel and is on the Newcastle Entertainment Precinct alliance that has helped curb night-time violence in the city, said the renovation would respect the 1860s-era heritage of the building.

Council is still assessing the application; however a Statement of Environmental Effects document states the facelift will address ‘‘current deficiencies’’ including a lack of internal smoking areas.

‘‘This causes management problems and issues in the public domain as patrons have to go into the street to smoke and [this] often leads to anti-social and violent behaviour,’’ according to the environmental document.

‘‘This proposal is a major step in redressing these issues and moving the nightclub into a different patron demography and with broader public appeal, without intensifying the operation.’’

The document also raises the ‘‘strong and real potential’’ for a cafe or ‘‘street cart’’ operation at the site on week days only.

‘‘While Fanny’s is a long-term iconic commercial resident of this area, its ongoing presence and response to local residents as an amenity and a successful economic venture is important in keeping the centre of Newcastle active and vibrant,’’ it says.

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Gangs linked to gun, fraud case

A NEWCASTLE man charged with gun and fraud offences was allegedly seen visiting the western Sydney home of a bikie associate who was under surveillance by the state’s gangs squad, court documents revealed yesterday.

In July, Michael Lockyer, 36, was allegedly recorded attending the home of a man who police say is an associate of the Bandidos, Hells Angels and Rebels bikie gangs.

The house was under surveillance by strike force detectives investigating the manufacture and supply of drugs by bikie gangs in western Sydney, a police spokeswoman said.

Mr Lockyer, of Willai Way, Maryland, allegedly drove on July 21 to the home in a HSV GTS Commodore with number plates ‘‘TLK2ME’’ while his licence was disqualified, a police statement tendered to Newcastle Local Court stated.

He is accused of attending the home again on July 31 in the same car, allegedly driven by Newcastle jockey and two-time group 1 winner Darryl ‘‘Digger’’ McLellan, the statement said.

Police attempted to stop the car on the F3 Freeway near Warnervale at 6.30 that night, but the car sped off and reached speeds of up to 220km/h before it exited the freeway onto the Doyalson Link Road where it drove over a median strip onto the wrong side of the road, the statement said.

Witnesses saw flames coming from the wheels before the car was later found deserted, and destroyed by fire, in Bushells Ridge Road.

Police found two loaded guns – a revolver and a semi-automatic pistol – between the front seats of the car, the statement said.

Mr Lockyer’s mother, who was the registered owner of the Commodore, reported the car stolen and later lodged an insurance claim. Mr Lockyer allegedly lodged a claim for jewellery worth $44,000 that he said was destroyed in the fire.

Gangs squad detectives arrested Mr Lockyer on Thursday and charged him with driving while disqualified, possessing unregistered guns, fraud and possessing steroids.

He did not enter pleas yesterday and was refused bail.

The case was adjourned to next month.

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.