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Ararat Prison development in crisis

Hopkins Correctional Centre.ARARAT – The Department of Justice has criticised the performance of the consortium overseeing the construction of the new prison at the Hopkins Correctional Centre following damning revelations in The Saturday Age last week that claimed the project ‘may be more than $100 million short of capital and, without government intervention, in danger of collapse’.
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The Saturday Age stated documents it had obtained revealed that the prison was ‘in financial trouble, with builders unable to pay contractors this (last) week’.

‘A memo to contractors revealed the Aegis consortium, which includes project manager Bilfinger Berger, the Commonwealth Bank and builders St Hilliers and Hawkins, is in negotiation with the government over a rescue strategy for the project, which unions believe will now not be completed until Christmas 2014,’ The Saturday Age stated in the report.

Many local contractors and sub contractors are employed on the site.

Yesterday The Age stated that the joint venture building the $400 million prison told sub-contractors at a Melbourne meeting on Wednesday not to bother invoicing for work because there was no money.

According to The Age unions were to meet yesterday to discuss their response to the crisis.

Claims that workers had walked off the job this week were denied by the Department of Justice.

A spokesperson from the Department of Justice told The Ararat Advertiser that as with other infrastructure projects, the Department will continue to put taxpayers’ interests first in relation to the Ararat prison project.

“Although the project will be completed later than planned, responsibility and risk remains with the private sector consortia who are obliged to deliver the project and manage the financial impacts of delay under their contract with the state. As a PPP (public private partnership), completion risk including time and cost is the responsibility of the consortia.

“The department is disappointed with the performance of the consortia, the extent of delays and the challenges they have advised that they face to complete the project.

“Under the contract the department is under no obligation to make payments to the consortia until the services phase of the project and does not intend to relieve the private sector of its substantive obligations under the contract.

“All construction projects have issues to resolve, and the Ararat Prison Project is especially complex as construction encompasses an existing prison.

“This situation confirms that a PPP arrangement is appropriate given that cost risks due to delay and mismanagement remain within the private sector.”

The spokesperson said the Departments of Justice and Treasury and Finance have allocated senior officers and technical specialists to monitor and manage the government’s obligations under the contract.

“Corrections Victoria is undertaking contingency planning as a result of delays to the project. Further details are commercial in confidence,” the spokesperson said.

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Sporting memorabilia to be auctioned at Blue Ribbon Ball

Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation Ararat branch president Terry Weeks with a selection of auction items for the 2012 Gala Night of Nights. Picture: PETER PICKERINGARARAT – The Victorian Police Blue Ribbon Foundation Ararat branch Gala night of Nights is fast approaching and as all regular ball goers know, the auction is a highlight, with amazing auction items offered each year.
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This year the cycling community and keen soccer lovers are in for a treat with two great items of memorabilia to be auctioned.

A signed boot from Australian soccer play Tim Cahill, presented in a beautiful glass case, will appeal to soccer lovers, while a framed portrait of Tour de France legend Cadel Evans will also be auctioned and is sure to be snapped up by a member of Ararat’s flourishing cycling community.

Even if you are unable to attend the ball and wish to ‘get your hands on’ one of these auction items, you may be able to bid through someone who is attending the ball so as not to miss out.

This year’s 11th Gala Night of Nights will be held on Friday May 25, with police band Code One set to get the crowd dancing all night.

The Blue Ribbon Foundation is currently raising $150,000 towards a new CT scanner for East Grampians Health Service.

In the 10 years the Ararat branch has been operating, it has raised more than $600,000 for the health service, helping to purchase many vital pieces of equipment.

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Pool fundraiser planned for next weekend

ARARAT – The team at GJ Gardner Homes and Blyss Kitchens together with Fishers IGA Ararat, are holding a day of fun activities to raise funds for the Ararat Solar Olympic Pool redevelopment.
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The fundraiser will be held at Fisher’s IGA on Saturday May 19 from 10am to 2pm.

There will be a sausage sizzle, rock climbing wall, face painting and balloons.

A raffle to be drawn on the day will feature a range of great prizes.

Sally Heard from Blyss Kitchens and G J Gardner Homes said she hoped everyone would get behind this event as it has proven such an important issue to the community.

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Sturt Street fire station to stop traffic

Fire trucks turning out to emergencies in Ballarat are now doing it in more safety, thanks to a new piece of technology installed this week.
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The Ballarat City Fire Brigade now has control of traffic lights on the eastbound lanes of Sturt Street and the southbound lane of Ripon Street, allowing trucks to turn into an empty Sturt Street during emergencies.

Firefighters have had several “near misses” in the past and have been working towards having the device installed for more than two years.

Senior station officer Anthony Pearce said the new device, approved by VicRoads, begins to stop traffic as soon as emergency calls reach the Sturt Street station.

“It’s programmed to activate the traffic lights at Ripon Street automatically when we receive a call,” he said.

“The red and blue lights out the front will start flashing, and about 30 seconds after that the traffic will be stopped.”

Mr Pearce said firefighters wanted to explain to motorists why the regular traffic signal sequence could change on occasion.

“We probably have four or five call-outs a day, so for five times a day – it’s not that bad,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about our safety and the safety of every other road user as well.”

Mr Pearce said that before this week, fire trucks could turn out into congested traffic or have to wait until the two lanes cleared.

“Other times when they go past, we’ve got to negotiate them if they get congested further up the street,” he said.

“Now we should have a clear run.”

The brigade has been involved in an “ongoing process” for the past two or three years to obtain the system, which they say will shorten the time it takes to get to emergencies.

“It will allow us to exit the station safely and, in turn, may reduce our response times,” Mr Pearce said.

The system was installed on Tuesday by VicRoads staff.

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Safe exit: Senior station officer Anthony Pearce with the new device to control the traffic lights on Sturt Street. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD

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Suspension spurs Swan on to reach peak fitness

MELBOURNE – Collingwood’s Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan is making the most of his club-imposed suspension to build towards a fitness peak for the AFL finals, says coach Nathan Buckley.
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The Magpies had initially considered giving Swan a VFL game this weekend as he serves the second game of his two-match AFL ban, imposed for breaking club rules by going out drinking.

Buckley said yesterday the club had instead decided to continue with an intensive training program designed to give the gun midfielder a September boost.

“The proof will be in the pudding,” Buckley said.

“He’s definitely committed to his training and he’s working hard, so that’s been great to see.

“He’s sought out (midfield coach Robert Harvey) for extra touch sessions.

“He and (sports science director) David Buttifant, or the three or four of us sat down and put a program together, as we do with all of our individuals, to get the very best out of them over that next period of time.

“Swanny’s been diligent with that and speaking to him yesterday after watching the game on Saturday night, he’s pretty toey and looking forward to being able to get his hands dirty.”

The benefits an in-season break can have for Swan were demonstrated last year when he hit top form after a mid-season training trip to Arizona.

While he has not used his current ban to head to the US, he has been working in the Magpies’ altitude room to build fitness.

Fellow midfielder Dale Thomas will play against in-form North Melbourne on Saturday night, despite being subbed off with a corked thigh during last Saturday night’s win over Sydney.

“He’s actually come up as well as we could have hoped and he’s really looking forward to Saturday night,” Buckley said.

Andrew Krakouer, Ben Johnson and Brent Macaffer, all working their way back from long-term injuries through the VFL, will all need at least one more second-tier game before they can push for AFL comebacks.

“Time’s running out,” Buckley said.

“We’ve got two more VFL games, not just for those players, but clearly there’s some other talent in our stocks that want to take advantage of their opportunities at VFL level and be putting their foot forward by playing great footy.”

Collingwood Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan has thrown himself into an intense training regime while on a club-imposed suspension. Picture: Fairfax.

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Four-wheel drivers destroy lake lookout

I HAVE written in some of my past articles with regard to some of the mindless acts of vandalism that have occurred in fishing areas.
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I was alerted to the latest act, in which the Great Lake lookout, at the top of “haulage hill”, was pulled over by morons with a four-wheel drive and a snatch strap.

There are many other instances of lake shores being destroyed and rubbish being left for others to clean up.

The mindless few cause this damage and tarnish the reputation of others who are doing the right thing.

They also use up resources that cost us all money.

I implore anyone who sees any of this to alert the authorities and assist them in catching the idiots.

Great Lake continues to fish well and the Swan Bay area seems to be a good bet.

Some of the fish are in good condition and have good colour so they are well worth catching for a feed.

Black and Gold T Tails, Ashley spinners, bibbed lures and worms have all accounted for good bags.

Lake Barrington is still giving up Atlantic salmon and is still worth a trip.

Try a Rapala CD perch or some of the Nilsmaster spearheads in brighter colours.

I gave a tip a couple of weeks ago that Shimano Waxwings caught some fish for an angler.

A couple of others tried them with success so make sure you have one or two in the tackle box if you are heading to Lake Barrington.

The Mersey River has been a happy hunting ground for a number of anglers and there have been some good fish caught.

Worms and spinning are the most productive methods at the moment.

There are numerous reports of blackfish being caught in the Pet dam by anglers using worms.

Blackfish are quite bony but have a soft, sweet, delicate flesh and many people love to eat them.

River mouths along the coast will be well worth a look when this rain clears as we have had reports of trout working the lower reaches of some rivers, with the white bait not that far away.

A small sluk lure in the white bait pattern have proved to be a good option.

Saltwater fishing has slowed, but some hardy anglers are still catching a feed of flathead when the weather allows them to get out.

Last weekend was good and there were a few who took advantage and reaped the rewards.

Tight lines till next week

Jarrod Burn with a couple of beauties that he caught at Four Springs with a Gulp 3″ Pearl Watermelon soft plastic.

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Finalists come down to luck of the draw

MELBOURNE – Carlton coach Brett Ratten has questioned inequalities in the AFL draw, which could cost the club a finals spot.
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Ratten said questions should be asked if a team which was able to chalk up 13 wins this year did not make the top eight.

While the Blues are currently 11th on the ladder with 10 wins, victories on the closing three rounds would give them 13 – but not necessarily a finals berth.

Essendon at eighth on the ladder has 11 wins, just one more than the Blues.

Carlton this year will have played power side Collingwood and Essendon twice and clubs near it – St Kilda and Richmond – twice.

North Melbourne is sixth on the ladder with 12 wins and by contrast has met bottom sides Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney and the Western Bulldogs twice.

“It’s interesting; if you won 13 games and didn’t make the eight, does that put it down to the draw?” Ratten asked.

“We’ve got to win this week before we can say we’re going to win 11 games, but that would be very interesting for teams to have a year like that.

“It would be the first time a team has won 13 games and not made the eight, which then would really put it down to: is the draw that fair then?”

Former Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse said earlier this week that ladder leaders Sydney and Adelaide did not deserve their positions because they had had easier draws.

Ratten said a 50% win-loss ratio was arguably not a strike rate that should warrant a finals spot.

“I think if you win 50%, if you’re 11 and 11, that really puts you in the basket of, do you deserve to be there or not?

“But when you get to 13, I think you might have a case to say you’re in pretty good shape and maybe you should make it.”

Ratten said the addition of new club Greater Western Sydney added a new variation to the top eight.

“This first year was always (a matter of) how’s it going to pan out?” he said.

“I think we’re just having a look as a competition across the board to see what’s the new number for teams making the eight.”

Malthouse claimed Hawthorn was better than both Sydney and Adelaide.

“I just can’t get my head around it. Looking at the ladder and seeing Sydney on top, Adelaide second,” Malthouse said.

“I can’t get my head around them being the best two sides in the comp _ because they’re not.

“It’s a lot to do with the draw. They’re not the best sides. I’m not saying they’re dreadful sides but I don’t think they’re the best sides, and they can finish on top of the ladder.”

Brett Ratten

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Time on Jackson’s side

DESPITE suffering a first- round loss in his Olympics debut, Latrobe boxer Jackson Woods remained upbeat upon his return to the North-West Coast yesterday.
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Woods’ arrival at Devonport Airport was a low-key affair, but the 19-year-old shone brightly, proudly wearing his Australian tracksuit in the chilly conditions.

“I was a little bit disappointed in my performance, but I’m only 19, so I’ve got time to make up for it.” Woods said in light of his loss to Algerian Samir Brahimi in the 52kg division.

Despite his early exit, Woods said his first Olympics experience was something that would stay with him forever.

“In the village was just crazy, it’s something that you can’t explain unless you are there,” he said.

“I got pictures with Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic, LeBron James and I saw Usain Bolt a couple of times, which felt pretty weird just being this bloke from Latrobe.

“I actually watched Bolt win the 200m final, which was amazing, along with watching a bit of diving.”

Woods also praised fellow Tasmanian boxer and team captain Luke Jackson, who announced his retirement after his opening bout loss.

“Jacko (Jackson) and I are really close. If I ever needed anything he was the first person to help me out.”

With the world championships in Kazakhstan next year along with the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Woods will sit down with his coach, Craig Woods, and plan his future, which may include moving up in weight division.

“I might move up to 56kg division, I’m not sure yet. If I do, I’ll start going to the gym and putting on a bit of muscle.” Woods said.

“I don’t struggle too much with making weight, but it was a little bit tiring having to move down 4kg.”

“I’m managing it alright, but I feel if I move up a weight division I’d be a lot stronger and have more energy.”

Australia’s Olympic team was given a rousing reception at the official welcome home ceremony at Sydney Airport yesterday.

About 500 guests, including Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, friends, family and a large media contingent, packed into a hangar at the airport to greet the athletes after they touched down at 7.15am.

Meares eyes more gold at Rio, Page 36.

Boxer Jackson Woods arrives home from the Olympics at Devonport Airport yesterday. Picture: Stuart Wilson.

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Ag science: more than just farming

AUSTRALIA produces 60% of the world market demand of pyrethrum and Tasmania is the greatest contributor to that figure.
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Spreyton’s Tamieka Pearce has proved that despite many Australians, and even some researchers, not knowing what pyrethrum is, her research into the disease crown rot is being noticed.

Miss Pearce came out on top of four students from across the nation to present her honours project, which focuses on crown rot, as part of the Agricultural Institute of Australia’s inaugural National Young Professionals in Agriculture Competition in Adelaide earlier this month.

“It was funny at the Ag Institute conference, they kept talking about poppies and how Tasmania produces more than 50% of the world’s demand, but no one thinks of pyrethrum and half the people at the conference didn’t even know what it was,” she said.

Miss Pearce’s honours project looked into the population genetics of crown rot in pyrethrum and focused on determining if a sexual cycle was present in the fungal pathogen that causes crown rot.

Miss Pearce said the win gave her the confidence that the research she is doing is was something people were interested in.

“The three other people that I was up against gave amazing presentations, so to be able to beat them made me feel really good and gave me confidence, but also made me realise that research is really where I want to go,” she said.

It was in the summer of 2010-11 that Miss Pearce completed a project for Botanical Resources Australia at the University of Tasmania Cradle Coast Campus that sparked her interest in fungal genetics and plant pathology.

This then led to her honours project.

Her honours presentation won first prize at the Ag Institute’s Tasmanian forum at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture Showcase, held in November last year.

She graduated with first-class honours and won the Ag Institute of Tasmania medallion for 2011.

As the winner of the Tasmanian forum, Miss Pearce was invited to represent Tasmania and competed against finalists from Western Australia, Queensland and NSW on August 2, which she won.

Miss Pearce admits that ag science was never an option when applying for university courses, with biotechnology her focus.

It was not until the second year of her degree that she lost interest in biotechnology – which had a focus on human medicine – and decided an ag science degree would enable her to study plant and animal genetics, as well as gain a broad understanding of agricultural science concepts.

“I guess I’d always thoughtthat ag science was for farmers, but it’s not and this is something I hope to convey with my research,” she said.

Miss Pearce started her PhD in March at the UTAS Cradle Coast campus and expects to finish mid 2015.

“I chose to complete it at the Cradle Coast campus instead of Hobart, as I wanted to be closer to my family and partner and the TIA division at the Cradle Coast is such a supportive and encouraging place to be undertaking research,” she said.

Miss Pearce’s PhD is a continuation of work into tan spot in pyrethrum.

“The incidence of this disease, caused by a fungal species called Microsphaeropsis tanaceti, has increased over the last decade and is now quite severe in a proportion of pyrethrum fields, leading to early crop termination,” she said.

The PhD project is jointly funded by BRA and TIA and Miss Pearce said the research would try to determine why it was increasing in frequency as well as learn more about the fungal species, including how it was being spread; the host range; and the interactions between the pathogen and plant that resulted in infection – all of which are important to allow farmers to monitor and control the disease in the field.

“We also want to look at why it has increased in frequency, if it has got some sort of resistance to a fungicide or it is more pathogenic than some of the other fungal species that are out there or whether the plants are more susceptible than they use to be,” Miss Pearce said.

“Hopefully, by my third year, I’d really like to start looking at the plant and fungi interaction, how they interact to cause the infection and see if we can find some ways to make the plant resistant.”We can’t rely on fungicides forever, so if we can find plants that are resistant then that will be a really good step.”

UTAS PHD student Tamieka Pearce was given the opportunity to present her honours project at a Young Professionals in Agriculture competition. Picture: Stuart Wilson.

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Local invests $6m in miner

LOCAL magnate Dale Elphinstone has swooped into the Tarkine mining debate, with a million lift for a start-up miner.
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Elphinstone Holdings plans to invest million in Tarkine mining hopeful Venture Minerals and will become a substantial shareholder.

Venture Minerals managing director Hamish Halliday said the capital raising left the company fully funded for the development and targeted commencement of its two planned iron ore projects.

“The remainder of 2012 and 2013 will be an exciting time for Venture as we move towards production at the DSO (direct shipping ore) iron ore projects and further progress the development of the Mt Lindsay project.”

Mining the flagship tin-tungsten deposit at Mt Lindsay could lead to up to 200 jobs, Venture has said.

“Under the terms of the ($15thmillion) placement, highly regarded Tasmanian-based Elphinstone Holdings has undertaken to invest $6 million in Venture,” Venture said.

“Post the capital raising, Elphinstone will emerge as a substantial shareholder in the company.”

Venture’s hopes of at least three mines in the Tarkine are meeting strong opposition from environmentalists, spearheaded by the Tarkine National Coalition.

Mr Elphinstone made his money in heavy mining equipment and astute investment.

Venture said it and Elphinstone Holdings had entered an agreement to explore ways Elphinstone could help Venture advance its projects in Tasmania.

“This involves Elphinstone providing strategic assistance with the ongoing advancement of Venture’s projects in Tasmania, being the preferred provider of mining equipment and services on a commercially competitive basis with respect to those projects and an ongoing relationship for mutual benefit.”

Tasmanian Minerals Council CEO Terry Long said there was clearly investor appetite, which was encouraging.

“I’m pleased to see Dale Elphinstone as a cornerstone investor.”

“That gives the project significant local content.”

Comment was being sought from Mr Elphinstone.

Dale Elphinstone

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Public service could do with a trim 

FOR all the controversy about state public service cutbacks, our public service remains massive and much too expensive.
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Sean Ford

With 945 full-time equivalent jobs gone between June 2011 and June 2012, the “total general government sector” still employed 24,507 FTEs.

That is more than the entire population of Central Coast and a touch less than the entire population of Devonport.

It does not count employees of various government business enterprises.

It also does not count federal public servants based in Tasmania, nor does it count the massive local government sector.

The breakdown was:

Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts, 423 FTEs;

Education, 8725;

Health and Human Services, 9298;

Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, 472;

Justice, 1044;

Ministerial and parliamentary support, 141;

Police and Emergency Management, 1540;

Premier and Cabinet, 294;

Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, 1248;

Tasmania Fire Service, 443;

Tasmanian Skills Institute, 289;

Treasury and Finance, 283;

Parliamentary and statutory offices, 309.

For a state with slightly more than 500,000 people, the size of the service is grossly excessive.

At a packed budget media conference a few years back, at least a couple of journos were gobsmacked when then-treasurer Michael Aird acknowledged there were no measures in place to gauge public service productivity.

The state service had been growing like Topsy for years and nobody had even bothered to measure its effectiveness.

More recently, an independent review has been done covering state service governance, structural arrangements and appeal and review mechanisms relating to employment.

According to the State Treasury, options were identified for alternative governance models “that adhere to good governance principles”, including efficiency and effectiveness, accountability, fairness and merit.

Treasury says the report had gone to “key stakeholders” for comment.

“Subject to feedback and government endorsement, implementation is expected to occur in 2013…”.

Let’s hope it’s a robust report and that they don’t manage to water it down and “Sir Humphrey” it.

A lean, mean state service with not a dollar wasted, focusing only on things that matter, should be the goal.

The glaring political weakness in what has happened so far with state service cutbacks is the cuts to frontline staff, particularly in health and police.

Health, particularly, must get more efficient.

We see frontline police decreasing and officers still sitting in the courts in Burnie and Launceston.

This reform process should be as much about what people do as about anything else.

Get the functions and the efficiencies right and savings will be easy and relatively painless.

For all the controversy about cutbacks, cutbacks are needed.

And the process needs to continue.

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Chamley returns to sportin blaze of glory

CHAMPION powerlifter Christina Chamley says training for a completely different sport has helped her bring home a national title.
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Christina competed at the Australian Powerlifting Championships held in Newcastle last month, winning her third consecutive Australian title.

She won her division, and for the first time took out the competition’s Best Female Bench Presser.

She had the perfect lifting day, successfully bench pressing all three of her attempts: 77.5, 82.5 and finally 85kgs.

It was a prolapsed disc in her back in April 2011 that saw her take up outrigger canoeing, a sport which would eventually help to reignite her passion for powerlifting.

“I went away from the sport for about six months (after the injury).” Chamley said.

“During that time I took up training with the Cradle Coast Outrigger Canoe Club, and even competed at the National Marathon Championships in May this year.

“When I returned I felt ready to go back to the gym, and then realised I was still competitive in the bench press, so I made the snap decision to compete.”

Chamley has now qualified to compete at the World Masters Bench Press Championships to be held in Prague in April 2013, where she expects to do well.

“If I improve before then, and lift well on the day, I know I will be competitive.”

The accomplishment marks a rapid improvement for the 42-year-old Burnie mother.

“Two years ago at my first Nationals, I bench pressed 52.5kgs and I have added 32.5kgs to my bench press since then.

“It just goes to prove everything improves with practice and training. I encourage everyone one, but especially women, to find a sport that they enjoy, pursue it and reap the benefits of training.”

Christina Chamley trains at Wynyard’s Powerstation Gym after returning from the Australian Powerlifting Championships where she won her third consecutive Australian title. Picture: Tony Cross.

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Anti-abuse campaigner happy to spread word

STEVE Fisher has been campaigning against sexual abuse for years, and now he wants to spread the word about respect.
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The Devonport-based Beyond Abuse spokesman is hugely enthusiastic about The Advocate’s Show Some Respect campaign.

He aims to get the word out to his large network of contacts and hopes they will get their contacts involved as well.

“It’s one of those things I can’t support enough,” Mr Fisher said yesterday.

The campaign, which has received national exposure, grew from concern about abuse and assaults of teachers, police, hospital workers and emergency services personnel.

“I think no matter what happens in people’s lives, there’s no reason, especially for emergency services personnel, to be assaulted and so forth,” Mr Fisher said.

“I think it comes back to the way people are brought up and the values of society today.

“It’s something that needs looking at and changing.”

He said a public initiative like Show Some Respect was fantastic and would hopefully become a nationwide movement.

“It’s something that’s needed.

“I hope by doing this we can start to change community attitudes.

“I plan on letting everybody I come into contact with know what we’re trying to do and know what it’s all about, then encouraging them to use their networks and spread the word even further.”

The Show Some Respect pledge can be signed at The Advocate’s Devonport and Burnie offices, via the Show Some Respect Facebook page or via www.theadvocate南京夜网.au

Show Some Respect supports –

Greater empowerment of police to better deal with public order issues;

tougher sentencing, especially for serious assaults on emergency service workers; and

more funding for parenting and family programs to help deal with intergenerational issues.

Steve Fisher, from Beyond Abuse, signs the Show Some Respect pledge. Picture: Jason Hollister.

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