Women in court on pursuit, fraud offences – Port Stephens-Hunter

Police have charged two women with 29 offences following an alleged crime spree across the Port Stephens – Hunter Police District during the past week.

Officers will allege the two women, aged 24 and 27, stole numerous vehicles across the district by posing as interested buyers for vehicles advertised for sale online.

On Thursday 15 November 2018, the women allegedly stole a black Mazda 6 from an address in Bolwarra Heights.

Police will allege that vehicle was used in multiple alleged offences including failing to pay for fuel at a service station at Nabiac yesterday (Monday 19 November 2018).

Later that same day, the Mazda6 was found damaged on Viney Creek Road, West Tea Gardens; a short time later, a Toyota Hilux was stolen from a home further down the same road.

Police established a perimeter around Viney Creek Road and saw the stolen Hilux travel past. Officers activated warning devices and attempted to intercept the driver but she failed to stop as directed.

A pursuit was initiated with the vehicle followed north on the Pacific Highway; however, due to erratic driving the pursuit was terminated.

Members of the public contacted police to report the driving of the Hilux which enabled police to resume the pursuit when they came across the vehicle on Failford Road, Darawank.

The pursuit continued through Tuncurry and Forster where the women were arrested when their ute was forced to stop due to heavy traffic on the Forster Bridge.

Police arrested the two women and took them to Maitland Police Station where they were charged with a string of offences including steal motor vehicle, police pursuit – not stop – drive manner dangerous, dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception, aggravated break and enter, drive motor vehicle during disqualification period, having goods in custody suspected of being stolen, and shoplifting.

They were refused bail and will appear in Forster Local Court today (Tuesday 20 November 2018).

Large crowds expected for Newcastle 500, racegoers urged to plan their trip

NSW Police are urging racegoers to plan their trip ahead of time and travel safely on the roads as large crowds are expected for the return of the Coates Hire Newcastle 500.

A high-visibility police operation will be in place from Thursday 22 November to Monday 26 November 2018 in Newcastle, for the finale of the Supercars Australia Championship Series.

General duties officers from Newcastle City Police District and across Northern Region, assisted by specialist police, will focus on road safety as well as anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related violence.

Northern Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell said the event has become a calendar highlight for the City of Newcastle, with over 150,000 spectators expected to visit over the weekend.

“Our number one priority is to ensure everyone has the opportunity to safely enjoy this family-friendly event without disrupting the local community,” Assistant Commissioner Mitchell said.

“Police will be out in force over the weekend targeting speeding, drink-driving, mobile phone and seat-belt offences, to ensure everyone arrives at their destination safely.

“Motorists are urged to drive to the conditions and allow extra travel time as there will be heavy traffic and delays on major and local roads, particularly as crowds arrive on Friday and Saturday, and leave on Sunday and Monday,” Assistant Commissioner Mitchell said.

Centre for Road Safety Executive Director Bernard Carlon said speeding, drink and drug driving, and fatigue remain the biggest killers on our roads.

“We want everyone to travel safely this weekend, so if you are driving, don’t speed and take a break if you’re feeling tired, and never, ever drive if you’re affected by alcohol or drugs,” Mr Carlon said.

For all special event traffic information, including road closures, special event clearways and live traffic reports, visit: www.livetraffic.com

Further information about the event, including venue maps, transport and parking availability, can be found at: www.supercars.com/newcastle/

Man charged over alleged aggravated sexual assault of woman in the Hunter region

A man has been charged by Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad over the alleged aggravated sexual assault of a woman in the Hunter region in September.

Earlier this month, detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad commenced an investigation after receiving reports a woman had been sexually assaulted by a man she met on social media.

Following extensive investigations, a 30-year-old man was arrested by detectives at Ryde Police Station just after 4pm yesterday (Monday 19 November 2018).

He was charged with aggravated sexual assault-inflict actual bodily harm on victim.

Police will allege in court that the man attended a home in the Hunter region on Sunday 30 September 2018, and sexually assaulted a 26-year-old woman.

The man has been granted strict conditional bail to appear at Burwood Local Court on Monday 10 December 2018.

 

Greater choice for Australian women: Women’s Economic Security Statement 2018

The Coalition Government is delivering practical measures to help give women greater choices about their lives, build financial security for themselves and their families, and grow the Australian economy.

Over the past few decades, Australia has taken great strides in improving women’s economic independence and security.

There are more women in work than ever before, with a majority of the more than 1.1 million jobs created since the Coalition came to office taken up by women; this year has also seen women’s participation in the labour market reach record highs – in October 2018, the women’s participation rate was 60.5 per cent; and the gender pay gap is moving in the right direction, down to a record low of 14.5 per cent.

But despite this progress, some problems still persist. Women are likely to earn less than men; they are likely to work part-time at over twice the rate of men; and at retirement age there is a 42 per cent gap in their superannuation balances.

The Women’s Economic Security Statement is built around three key pillars: participation in the workforce, better earning potential and economic independence.

That is why the $109 million Statement is focussed on assisting women at many different points of their lives, in different parts of Australia, and in different circumstances.

It will help equip them with the tools and support they need to make the best choices about their future.

Whether it is boosting entrepreneurship in girls and young women, bringing business together to help reduce the ‘flexibility gap’ and gender pay gap, expanding the parents who can access parental leave payments and the period the payment is taken, or supporting women in their darkest hour with access to the funds they need to escape domestic violence, the Coalition Government is focused on supporting Australian women.

The Women’s Economic Security Statement won’t just give women and their families’ greater choice, it will also grow the Australian economy.

When women do well, their families do well, and our economy and nation prospers.


The Women’s Economic Security Package ($109 million over four years)
Building on strong foundations

The Women’s Economic Security Package is built around three pillars:

  1. Workforce participation
  2. Earning potential
  3. Economic independence

Measures to increase women’s workforce participation
($54.8 million over four y ears):

  • reinstating the Time Use Survey, a contemporary evidence base to measure women’s economic security
  • improvements to Workplace Gender Equality Agency systems to enhance Australia’s gender equality data and reduce the cost of reporting for business
  • establishing the Reducing Barriers to Work Forum
  • increasing flexibility in the Paid Parental Leave system and extending access through changes to the work test
  • supporting regional employers through the Career Revive initiative to develop action plans for their business to attract and retain women returning to work after a career break
  • providing scholarships for women in economics and finance through the Women’s Leadership and Development Program

Measures to improve women’s earning potential
($18.6 million over four years):

  • an expansion of the Curious Minds program
  • establishing a Future Female Entrepreneurs program in partnership with the private sector
  • creating a new grants program, Boosting Female Founders, to ensure women can access the finance they need to achieve their entrepreneurial goals

Measures to support women’s economic independence
($35.6 million over four years):

  • providing Specialist Domestic Violence Units and Health Justice Partnerships, including for financial support services
  • extending early release of superannuation for victims of domestic and family violence
  • expanding the No Interest Loan Scheme run by Good Shepherd Microfinance to women experiencing family and domestic violence
  • funding legal assistance to ensure victims of family violence are protected from direct cross-examination by their perpetrators in family law matters
  • improving the visibility of superannuation assets in family law proceedings
  • providing family law property mediation
  • establishing a new Small Claims Property pilots program

TIME FOR ACTION ON A NATIONAL INTEGRITY COMMISSION

Today, the Leader of the Opposition has written to the Prime Minister urging him to agree to a bipartisan taskforce, led by the Attorney-General and Shadow Attorney-General, to create a National Integrity Commission.

At the beginning of 2018, Labor announced our plan to legislate for a federal anti-corruption body. All year, the Government has ignored our requests for cooperation.

This issue should be above politics. The time has come for the Liberal and National parties to support a federal anti-corruption body.

A bipartisan process would help ensure the complex consultation and design work can be completed swiftly, and a body established as a priority.

In recent years there has been a loss of public faith in government and Commonwealth institutions. The Liberal Party’s chaos and division have further eroded Australians’ trust in politics.

Labor welcomes the support of members of the cross-bench for a federal anti-corruption body. This provides an opportunity to secure broad parliamentary support to establish a National Integrity Commission before the next election, if Scott Morrison and the Liberals finally come on board.

Mr Morrison delayed the Banking Royal Commission by voting against it 26 times. He should not let his arrogance and stubbornness get in the way of a National Integrity Commission.

Mr Morrison should learn from his mistakes, and join with Labor now so we can work on this issue together.

We are prepared to work with the Liberals, but we will not wait for them.

If Mr Morrison continues to block a National Integrity Commission, a Shorten Labor Government will deliver it.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Greens say Four cents a week for women won’t improve financial security

The Government’s attempt at winning back female support with its women’s economic statement today will fail for its lack of funding and lack of vision, Greens spokesperson for women, Senator Larissa Waters said.

“The women’s economic security statement by the Women’s Minister today contains only minor reforms and pittance of new funding – it equates to a mere four cents per week for adult Australian women. Four cents a week will not fix anything for Australian women.

“The Prime Minister is still nowhere on addressing issues women face, and has been utterly silent on the gender pay gap, rates of domestic violence, and has denied internal bullying of women. His only utterance has been teen-worthy sexualised remarks about Pamela Anderson, for which he still hasn’t apologised.

“Making paid parental leave more flexible is inconsequential when it is still limited to 18 weeks not 6 months, still doesn’t encourage fathers to take more time with their children, and still doesn’t include Super.

“Accessing super early when fleeing DV will still be complex and will simply worsen women’s financial security later in life. And while moves to stop alleged perpetrators cross-examining survivors are welcome, they are long overdue and don’t address the need for vastly more funding so women can access the legal support they need, rather than 40 per cent of callers being turned away.

“What Australian women need to be safe is paid domestic violence leave, a massive funding boost for frontline domestic violence crisis services so no woman is turned away, leadership to drive cultural change so that women are viewed as equals in society, and decent funding for primary prevention of DV.

“What Australian women need to be equal is longer paid parental leave with superannuation, employers to be forced to disclose and close their gender pay gap, equal representation in parliaments and on boards, increased rate of Newstart and for single parents not to be forced onto lower Newstart, affordable and accessible childcare, fairer superannuation taxation, and the right to make decisions about our reproductive health.

“What Australian women need is to not be invisible to Prime Minister Morrison. Get on board or get out of the way,” concluded Senator Waters.

Greens call on PM Scott Morrison to apologise to trans and gender diverse Australians on Trans Day of Remembrance

On this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice acknowledged the importance of the day and paid her respects to the trans and gender diverse people who are no longer with us.

Senator Rice also called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to apologise to all trans and gender diverse Australians for the hurt and damage his past actions have caused.

“This Trans Day of Remembrance I remember the beautiful trans and gender diverse people we have lost because our society refused to celebrate them,” Senator Rice said.

“It is devastating that in Australia and around the world trans and gender diverse people continue to face daily discrimination, violence and vilification.

“Is this any wonder when transphobic, hateful bigots like Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro have been elected into high office around the world?

“Here in Australia we have a Prime Minister who labelled a program to help teachers support trans and gender diverse kids as ‘gender whispering’, saying we should ‘let kids be kids’.

“These kind of statements from our Prime Minister and elected leaders contribute to trans and gender diverse people suffering worse mental health outcomes than their cisgender peers and the high rate of self-harm and suicide of trans and gender diverse people.

“I call on the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to use today to reflect on the hurt and damage his past actions have caused and apologise to trans and gender diverse Australians.”

Senator Rice also recommitted the Greens to working with the trans and gender diverse community to fight discrimination and realise their rights.

“To trans and gender diverse Australians I say the Greens will always fight alongside you to make your lives easier and safer, so you can thrive and access the health and support services you require.

$51.5 Million Boost to pursue Criminal Prosecutions for Financial Misconduct

The Liberal National Government is providing an additional $51.5 million to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) and the Federal Court of Australia to enable further prosecutions of criminal misconduct by banks and other financial institutions and to ensure civil claims are dealt with effectively and expeditiously.

ASIC’s increased enforcement activity, stemming from the additional $70 million in funding from the Liberal National Government, is expected to give rise to more prosecutions by the CDPP and more civil corporate misconduct cases before the Federal Court. This includes cases highlighted by the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

As part of this funding boost, an additional $41.6 million will be provided to the CDPP over eight years. This funding will allow the CDPP to consider more prosecutions put forward by ASIC and hire additional prosecutors to manage the increased caseload. This additional funding will also allow the CDPP to prosecute cases faster to ensure individuals and companies that have broken the law face justice sooner.

A further $9.9 million will also be provided to the Federal Court of Australia over four years to fund the appointment of additional resources including two new judges to support civil cases. These appointments will enable the Federal Court to accommodate an increase in disputes with financial institutions as well as civil claims resulting from ASIC’s increased enforcement activity.

The Government has also asked the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) to conduct a review of whether the Federal Court’s criminal jurisdiction should be expanded to include corporate crime. Any criminal prosecutions for misconduct by banks and other financial institutions are currently heard in state courts and hence have to compete with state cases for resources and scheduling. The creation of this additional criminal jurisdiction in the Federal Court would allow these prosecutions to be prioritised and penalties for breaches of the law to be handed out faster. The AGD will consult with relevant stakeholders including the states in undertaking the review and provide its report to the Government in January next year.

Further, the Government will establish a Committee of Regulatory Enforcement Strategy chaired by the Attorney-General’s Department and comprising representatives from the relevant agencies that regulate the financial services sector. These agencies will meet on a regular basis to discuss enforcement matters in the sector and provide feedback to the Government on regulatory and civil enforcement policy.

These initiatives and the additional funding underscore the Liberal National Government’s commitment to ensuring that these agencies and our broader justice system are appropriately resourced to effectively hold banks and other financial institutions to account for misconduct. A strong financial sector which is trusted by Australians is part of the Coalition’s plan for a stronger economy.

NATION’S FIRST YOUTH HOSPICE A STEP CLOSER

A first look at Australia’s first ever hospice for young adults, to be built on the Manly Hospital site, has been unveiled today by the NSW Government.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Member for Manly James Griffin also launched a community fundraising program for the Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice.

“This will be a purpose-built, first-of-its-kind facility, which will provide 24/7 support to young people and their families,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“The NSW Government will provide $2 million each year to contribute to the operating costs of this revolutionary facility to cater for older teens and young adults from across NSW who suffer a life-limiting illness.”

The hospice will be specifically designed for adolescents and young adults with life-limiting conditions requiring short-term respite care, symptom management or end-of-life care.

It will provide a welcoming environment with a flexible design to suit each individual, be light-filled with easy access to outdoor areas, and have the latest digital technology for connecting with friends and family.

Mr Hazzard said the facility will work closely with Bear Cottage, Manly’s renowned children’s hospice that is also unique to NSW, to assist families caring for young people as they become adults.

“This hospice will fill a much-needed gap for young people who outgrow Bear Cottage or are diagnosed with life-limiting conditions as a young adult,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The NSW Government is committed to providing appropriate palliative care services right across the State and that includes for our young people transitioning from paediatric to adult care.”

Last year the NSW Government committed an additional $100 million over four years on top of the record $210 million a year for palliative and end-of-life care services.

Mr Griffin said the NSW Government is thrilled with the positive response received from the community and that several generous benefactors had already pledged significant funds towards the capital cost of building the facility, and he urged others to also give.

“This new hospice has tremendous community support and demonstrates our commitment to provide vital health services on this site into the future,” Mr Griffin said.

“The challenges these families face are enormous. More than a quarter of the admissions to Bear Cottage in the past year have been of young people aged over 16, and there’s no appropriate place for them to go when they reach 18.”

Northern Sydney Local Health District and Health Infrastructure have convened a panel of clinical experts to advise on what services are needed at the facility, and the best design. They will consult closely with patients and the community.

Construction of the Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice is expected to start in 2020.

CHILDREN’S CHAMPIONS’ FUTURE SECURED

Children and young people involved in sexual abuse cases will receive ongoing support through difficult court proceedings thanks to a major new investment from the NSW Government that will enable a highly-successful pilot program to become permanent.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Attorney General Mark Speakman and Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward announced today that the NSW Government will invest more than $28 million in the Child Sexual Offence Evidence Program, which includes ‘Children’s Champions’ to help support young people through the courts process.

The pilot program is being made permanent after a glowing independent assessment by the University of NSW, which showed that it received very strong support from participants, reduced stress for children and resulted in a better quality of evidence from child witnesses.

“NSW is leading the country with this important initiative which delivers support to young victims of sexual abuse and child witnesses,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We know that going to court to give evidence can be a tough experience for children and young people, so I am extremely proud that the NSW Government is investing this funding to make the experience easier.”

Mr Speakman said the program is proving vital to ensuring children understand and are understood during the court process.

“Going to court can be stressful and traumatic for anyone, let alone young people. This program ensures that some of the most vulnerable people who come in contact with the justice system get the support they need,” Mr Speakman said.

The Child Sexual Offence Evidence Pilot began in Sydney and Newcastle District Courts in March 2016. It provides victims and child witnesses for the prosecution with specialist intermediaries, sometimes known as ‘Children’s Champions’. It also enables them to have their evidence pre-recorded in advance of a trial.

“Almost 70 matters in the pilot have been finalised and a further 46 were still to be determined at the time of writing the evaluation report. Specialist witness intermediaries have assisted these young people answer questions from police and lawyers, enabling them to provide their best evidence, without affecting the defendant’s right to a fair trial,” Mr Speakman said.

The funding announced today will ensure the program continues to be delivered in Sydney and Newcastle District Courts until June 2022.

Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward said the program is part of the $127 million package of reforms to deliver the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“We are supporting government and non-government institutions to better protect children and respond to child sexual abuse,” Ms Goward said.