One dead after glider ‘fell out of the sky’ on Queensland border

14/01/2019

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An experienced Victorian glider pilot with 20 years experience has died after his glider spiralled to the ground this afternoon and crashed south of Goondiwindi, just over the New South Wales border.
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Steve Scott, a reporting officerat Goondiwindi Airport, said he had spoken to a pilot who witnessed the crash and had said the glider “just looked like it fell out of the sky”.

“They said it just looked like (the glider) fell out of the sky, it wasn’tlanding or taking off,” he said.

Chris Thorpe, the lead investigator from the Gliding Federation of , said the glider with the male pilot, was seen spiralling out of control towards the ground about 1.20pm.

Emergency services on the scene.

The Jonker JS-1 glider spiralled and crashed on arural property near Boggabillajust over the border in northern New South Wales, just south of Goodniwindi Airport, Mr Thorpe said.

“The glider was observed to spiral towards the ground and it has hit the ground and the occupant – the pilot – was deceased,” he said on Monday afternoon.

“We don’t know the reason for that, but we are working closely with the New South Wales police force,” he said.

He said the glider crashed near Boggabilla and police and ambulance crews had recently arrived.

Mr Thorpe said the glider began to spiral about six minutes into the flight.

The experienced pilot was competing in the Club and Sports Class of the National Gliding Championships which are being held at Goondiwindi’s Airport.

“There are competitors from all over and the pilot who has sadly died was from Victoria,” Mr Thorpe said.

“He was a friend, but I can’t tell you his name at the minute because I’m unsure if his wife has been advised just yet,” he said.

“I’ve known him for about 30 years. He was a very experienced glider pilot and had been flying in competitions for at least the past two decades.

“We are very close in the gliding community, so all our thoughts are with family and friends.”

“We will all be supporting each other this time.”

Mr Thorpe said it was simply too early to speculate how the crash occurred.

“It will be at least two months before we know if it was a medical issue. We don’t know if it was an issue with his aircraft.

“Right now we just don’t know.”

Mr Thorpe said investigators will look at the height that the glider began to spiral.

“It might be that he just could not recover it in time,” he said.

Mr Thorpe said a detailed investigation of the glider would begin immediately while medical records were checked.

Police also investigate fatal glider accidents.

The 37th National Gliding Championship is being held at Goondiwindi Airport. It started on Sunday and is scheduled to run until October 19.

The latest fatality comes less than three weeks after instructor Jeremy Thompson, 62, and student Norbert Gross, 60, died when their glider crashed into a paddock about two-and-a-half hours north of Goondiwindi.

Paramedics were called to the Cunningham Highway at Goondiwindi about 1.30pm on Monday, but the pilot died at the scene.

– with Toby Crockford, Tony Moore and AAP

After 10 days without a clue, coroner may be left to rule on Elisa Curry’s fate

14/01/2019

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A woman vanishes in a small coastal town. A hardened detective devotes himself to the case. Police immediately begin to sift through her belongings, and carefully examine the word of those who saw her last.
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On the ground, search and rescue crews, coupled with dozens of volunteers, spend 10 days searching; crawling through dense bush, scouring clifftops and diving into waterways.

Missing mum Elisa Curry. Photo: Supplied

But Elisa Curry is still missing.

Victoria Police Inspector Peter Seel, who’s been leading the search, fears that ultimately, it may fall upon a coroner to determine the truth about her fate.

“We haven’t arrived to any conclusion as to what may have happened. We are looking at all aspects, from suicide to accident to all the possibilities,” Inspector Seel told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“But ultimately, if Elisa is not found, it will be up to a coroner to decide what they think occurred.”

The search so far has yielded no sign of the mother of three who was last seen at the family holiday home in Aireys Inlet, near the Great Ocean Road, on grand final night on September 30.

“The longer it goes on, the less likely it is for you to give the family an answer,” Inspector Seel said.

“It is distressing for her husband, her father, her brother, her children, her friends. And it is disappointing that we can’t give them an answer.”

The 43-year-old marathon runner watched the big game with a female friend who left the house a little while after it ended.

Two neighbours also visited her on Saturday night, the husband and wife both left and the wife later came back and saw Ms Curry get into bed.

When her family returned home on Sunday morning after going to the MCG for the grand final, they found Ms Curry, the family dog and her mobile phone missing.

The black Labrador was later found roaming nearby streets.

On the weekend, after the initial intensive seven-day hunt was scaled down, police set up an information caravan outside the Aireys Inlet general store with the hope of finding some fresh leads.

So far, detectives have spoken to more than 150 members of the public but there has been no “breakthrough” clue.

“Detectives are following up all the information we have received from the caravan, and are in constant contact with Elisa’s family,” Inspector Seel said.

“We are still going through all the information – some [tips] have corroborated what we already knew and some have been reassessed by detectives.”

Clues about Ms Curry’s state of mind in the hours before she vanished were also being examined by police.

On grand final night, Ms Curry had been discussing a “personal” matter with a female friend.

“I’m not going to comment on her personal life,” Inspector Seel said, declining to elaborate further on this aspect of the search.

On Sunday, depending on the weather, divers will be sent out and the search will continue.

There are also plans for bush and recuse crews to assist in looking through an area detectives want to double-check based on information they received from the information caravan.

The search for Ms Curry has been coastal and inland. The bush in the area is incredibly dense – making it difficult for search crews to move quickly and be confident Ms Curry is not in the areas that have been covered.

“You can be five to 10 metres off the bush track and the bush is so thick that you wouldn’t be able see it,” said Inspector Seel.

“It’s very very thick. And even with the helicopter … because of the foliage of the trees it is difficult to see down as well,” he said.

Ten days of searching have proved fruitless. Photo: Jason South

He said support from the community had been overwhelming – noting that on each day of the search in the first week there had been about 30 volunteers who turned up to help look for Ms Curry.

Inspector Seel said that if new information was received, detectives may recommence the search.

Tasmanian Labor MPs call for Human Services and Tax Office jobs relocations

14/01/2019

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photo Neil Richardson 6/7/16 Bill Shorten in Launceston to congratulate Ross Hart for winning Bass . News. 25th March 2015. MHR Gai Brodtmann wearing a Parliament House insipired dress.The Canberra TimesPhoto Jamila Toderas
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Tasmania’s federal Labor MPs have called on the Turnbull government to relocate more Tax Office and Human Services Department jobs to the state, but only after consultation with existing public service employees.

In a submission to an inquiry considering plans for government decentralisation, opposition MPs Ross Hart, Justine Keay, Julie Collins and Brian Mitchell said the Human Services Department should increase its presence in Tasmania and the ATO could broaden its workload in the north-west city of Burnie.

The group – which includes representatives of the marginal seats of Bass, Braddon and Lyons – said a boost in jobs in Burnie would require additional office space in the central business district and help improve the local unemployment rate.

Currently about 2.3 per cent of federal public service jobs are based in Tasmania, lower than every jurisdiction except for the Northern Territory at 1.4 per cent.

About 57,500 public service jobs are based in Canberra, 37.9 per cent of the entire federal workforce.

The MPs told the committee relocation of federal agencies from Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne might be welcome in Tasmania but would not effective redress the loss of hundreds of jobs from Human Services, the ATO, CSIRO and the n Antarctic Division since the Coalition’s election in 2013.

“Instead the government would be better to focus the continuing diversification of the regional economic and employment base in Tasmania,” they said.

“Tasmania’s economy is unsurprisingly very dependent on the public sector.

“Compared with other states, Tasmania is heavily reliant on GST revenue due to a lower capacity to raise revenue, necessarily higher demand for government services and the greater cost of delivering those services.

“No change should be made until there has been full and proper consultation with employees and their representatives,” the group said.

Canberra MP Gai Brodtmann used a submission to lash Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and the government over the forced relocation of the n Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, and to call for future forced relocation to be completed after cost-benefit analyses which are made public.

She said the government should commit to open and transparent public consultation processes and only relocate government agencies based on a demonstrated net benefit to the nation.

“The Turnbull government’s thought bubble policy is the beginning of one of the saddest chapters in n government history or a pathetic attempt to cloak the disaster of the APVMA relocation in a broader “policy”,” Ms Brodtmann told the committee.

The Victorian city of Wangaratta has told the inquiry it could host the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Civic and business leaders in the Victorian goldfields city of Ballarat said “full complements” of staff should be allocated to existing federal government offices, including Centrelink, Medicare and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Cabinet is expected to consider business cases for forced relocations before the end of the year.

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A-League: Jets want home ground rocking for visit by Perth

14/01/2019

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PRIZED RECRUIT: Venezuelan international Ronny Vargas will be make his home debut for the Jets against Perth on Sunday. Picture: Marina NeilBUOYED by a spectacular start to the A-League season, theNewcastle Jets are on track to attract their biggest opening home crowd in five years and possibly ever.
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Lawrie McKinna

Five days out from the clash against Perth Glory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday, more than 12,000 tickets have beeneither purchased through memberships or taken up in agive-away promotion.

The figure has surpassed the 9,145 attendance for the first home game last season and they are on course to push the 14,868 fans on hand for the opening game of the 2012-13 campaign, when former Liverpool and England striker Emile Heskey was the club’smarquee player.

“We want McDonald Jones Stadiumrocking on Sunday,” Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna said.“There is a lot of interest in the teamafter the win over the Mariners.Let’s get people there, lets create a great atmosphere and make it difficult for opposition teams to play.”

The Jets have released another allocation offree tickets, which are available on-line through Ticketsmaster, after 3800were snapped up by Monday. The promotion, which closes Friday,involves a $4.35 handling fee.

“The idea of thecampaign is to get as many people as possible to the first home game,” McKinna said.“Let them enjoy the experience and hopefully they will take out memberships. It costs the club money to give tickets away but we want to engage as many people as possible.”

The Jets’biggest opening night home crowd was 16,022 for the visit by arch rivals Central Coast in round one ofthe 2008-09 season. That match was a replay of the previous year’s grand final in which the Jets triumphed.

More than 2500 Jets members made the trip south to Gosford for the5-1 demolition of the Mariners last Saturday.

McKinna said hehad never experienced a buzz like when the “Newcastle” chanterupted as the Jets players walked over to thank the fansat full-time.

“It was brilliant andsent shivers down my spine,” McKinna said.“Myself and Ernie [Merrick] want tothank the 2500 fans, who travelled down to the Central Coast and out-sung the home fans.”

The four-goal win -the biggest in an F3 derby -left the Jetsperched ontop of the table after round onefor the first time in eight years.

Roy O’Donovan scored a hat-trick and fellow new boys Dimi Petratos and Joe Champness also hit the target.

The triumph was the catalyst for a spike in membership sales, with 400 purchased since Saturday night, taking the total to just under 8000.

Perth went down 2-1 to Western Sydney Wanderers in their first game but boast Johnny Warren Medalist Diego Castro, prolific strikers Andy Keogh and Adam Taggartand new importXavi Torres.

“Hopefullypeoplewho have been sitting and waiting to see how the team goes jump on board,” McKinna said. “Sunday is Ronny Vargas’ first home game.Come and support the boys.We are confidentitwill be a season the fans can be proud of.”

Jets coach Ernie Merrick is unlikely to make any changes for Sunday.

The Jets split their results against the Glory last season. They had a rare 2-1 win in Perth in round 10, drew 2-all at home in round 15, before a 3-2 loss three weeks later in the west.

Taggart, Castro and Keogh supplied all by one of the Glory’s goals.

Forget the doom and gloom headlines: here is some good news

14/01/2019

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If bad news comes in threes, we’re due for some good news given the headlines of choice over the past week. Let’s try: the n stock market is actually doing quite nicely.
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In short order, we’ve been told (again) that is running out of luck and “we’ll all be rooned” by one of the usual perma-bears – a story very nicely skewered by Crikey’s Bernard Keane.

Then there was a regurgitation of the standard housing disaster effort but both of those were topped (or bottomed) by a theory that our stock market was somehow broken while the rest of the world was surging ahead on sunlit plains extended.

Two graphs from the Reserve Bank will suffice to destroy the latter headline. The first shows the ASX basically travelling in line with the global index. Yes, the American market is clearly outperforming us and the rest of the world. I’ll come back to that.

The second graph shows what the story ignored – we’re much richer from dividends than the world average, let along the dividend-shy Americans.

Add the extra couple of hundred points in dividend yields, never mind franking credits, and the ASX is very comfortably beating the rest of the world.

Our love of dividends is why the simple All Ordinaries Index, or S&P ASX 200, doesn’t tell the true story about the n market. For that, you have to go to the accumulation version, the index that adds the value of dividends – although it still ignores the benefits of franking credits.

Go to the S&P 200 Accumulation Index and you’ll see our market is actually running around a record high.

The trick the knockers use to compare our market is to ignore our dividends and compare the previous boom-time peak with the present. Do that with the Accumulation index on a first-of-the-month basis and we’ve gone from 42,623.8 on October 1, 2007 to 56,137.99 ten years later – a rise of 32 per cent.

Not exactly the “going backwards” of the give-me-your-money-to-invest-overseas mob, is it?

But that’s also misleading. The peak of the last cycle was an unnatural time, a bit of a nonsense the way such peaks are. It would be an extremely rare individual who only invested everything at that peak.

More likely for any investor with half a brain is that they steadily add money as the market rises and falls. Let’s take, say, a 12-year range to factor in that bit of irrational exuberance as well as the subsequent GFC panic. On October 1, 2005, a dozen years ago, the Accumulation index was on 25,942.8. It’s risen by 116 per cent.

Not so shabby, is it?

The bigger thing though is that the n market doesn’t have to be all things to all investors. Yes, it is overweight banks and miners – but the US is overweight a handful of big tech stocks.

It is the reasonable thing for investors to diversify their holdings across asset types and geographies. That’s what we do.

There is no need to talk down the n market in the process.

Maggots found on chicken bought at Hunter Nando’s restaurant

13/12/2018

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‘Shocked’: Emy Wamboi and her seven-year-old son Davie Koiya discovered maggots on the chicken they bought at the Nando’s restaurant at Westfield Kotara. Picture: Nick BielbyA video showing maggots squirming on a chicken at a Hunter Nando’s store has been shared more than 1500 times on social media.
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Emy Wamboi posted the video to Facebook after she discovered a cluster of maggots on the chicken she bought from the Westfield Kotara store last week.

“I am not going back there,” she wrote on Facebook.

“I have not eaten chicken since then yuck.”

Ms Wamboi told theNewcastle Heraldthat her seven-year-old son Davie had already eaten some of the chicken when the friend they were dining with pointed out that something was moving on the surface of the chicken.

“We were very shocked, knowing has high hygiene [standards],” she said.

One of the videos Ms Wamboi posted has been viewed more than 100,000 times.

A statement from Nando’son Tuesday morning said the company would like to apologise to Ms Wamboi.

It said Nando’s had since conducted a “thorough investigation” –of which theykept Ms Wamboi updated –and found the Kotara restaurant “followed all correct cooking and hygiene procedures”.

“Nando’s has implemented a full food safety investigation which confirmed there was no other contamination in the restaurant to any raw or cooked food items, ingredients or on any preparation surfaces,” it said.

A screenshot of from the video posted to Facebook.

“In addition we also independently reported the incident to the local councils health authorities.”

The statement claimed that a fly or maggots could not have survived the 350 degree grilltemperature that the made-to-order chicken would have been subject to before it was served.

“As the restaurant is open to the environment and the maggots were found on the skin of the chicken, we believe this incident is the result of an airborne fly landing on the chicken in the short period of time between when it was plated and subsequently discovered by the customer at her table,” the statement said.

“At the time of the incident Nando’s apologised to the customer and provided her with a full refund.”

But Ms Wamboi said she found it hard to believe that a fly could have landed, produced eggs which then hatched to release maggots within the few minutes between her order being cooked and served.

“It does not truly make sense,” she said.

“That’s not an excuse.”

Newcastle Jets W-League: Tara Andrews keen to bounce back after season off and Matildas disappointment

13/12/2018

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TARA Andrews wasn’t banking on making the Matildas’ OIympic squad for Rio last year, but missing out still hurt.
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Tara Andrews at Jets training at No.2 Sportsground on Tuesday. Picture: Marina Neil

And the disappointment of not making the final cut left the former Newcastle Jets vice-captain questioning her future in the sport.

But after a season off, the 23-year-old feels refreshed and ready to return to the W-League with her homeclub.

Andrews, fellow attacker Jenna Kingsley and the Jets’ 2016-17 player of the year, Cassidy Davis, were confirmed on Tuesday as signings as coachCraig Deans buildstowards the season-opener on October 29 against Western Sydney at McDonald Jones Stadium.

“I wanted a year off because we play winter and summer and you don’t really ever get a break to go on holiday,” saidAndrews, whoplayed for North West Sydney in the NSW NPL last winter.

“I just needed a mental and physical break as well just to see what else is out there.

“I went on holidays a couple of times and just enjoyed myself for the first time in a while. Just doing what I wanted.

“But I always had the intention of coming back. I just needed that year to kind of refresh myself.

“I was with the Matildas in that year and didn’t make the Olympic squad. It was kind of like, ‘What am I doing?Do I still want to do this?’.”

Andrews debuted for the Matildas in late 2015 and featured in their pre-Olympic training camps before falling short of a ticket to Rio.

“I knew I was always on the fringe. The Matildas obviously havea lot of good forwards,” she said.

“It wasn’t like I thought I’d get in, it was just after that it was like, ‘I don’t know what I want to do’. I was disappointed.”

She was looking forward to the challenge of getting back in the W-League, especially with the Jets potentially signing a US striker with similar qualities.

“Deansy has a few good recruits coming in, soI think we’ll do quite well,” she said.

“Obviously the past two years coming fifth, we’ve been just off the pace so hopefully it’s going to be better this year and we’ll make the top four. We’ll have some good players to do that with.

“There’sgoing to be another striker there so it’sgoing to be another challenge for me and competition to see if I can push myself to get better.

“That will be good because in the past there hasn’t always been that other No.9 there to push me.”

Deans said Andrews would be a welcomed addition as an attacking option and role model for the young Jets squad and he believed she would“do better without the pressure to be the top scorer”.

“The reason I changed some of the attacking players that we had was that it was all the same, everyone was quick, small and with some improvements technically that we needed,” Deans said.

“Tara is probably the complete opposite. She’s tall, technically quite good and she’s smart, although she doesn’t have the speed of some of the other girls. I think in a lot of ways we missed her last year, so it’s good she’s coming back.”

As for adding to her two Matildas caps, Andrews said: “It will be pretty tough, but I’d definitely like to get back there if I can.

“Obviously it comes down to how I’m playing and if I’m enjoying it. If I’m doing well enough to get a look in, that will be great, but I’ll take it as it comes.”

Watershed moment signals phase two of housing debate

13/12/2018

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A watershed moment is under way in ‘s housing affordability debate.
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Instead of continuing to bang the drum of “keeping the first-home ownership dream alive”, Victoria’s premier has proposed sweeping changes to the state’s tenancy laws in an attempt to improve the prospect of long-term renting.

A consolation prize, yes, but an important line in the sand for the 31 per cent of ns who rent their home. They may not be any closer to buying a house but the leader of the country’s second-most populated state is trying to throw them a bone. State governments will be watching closely, which means renters and landlords in Sydney should be, too.

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced plans to change rental laws so that tenants could not be evicted without proper cause, notice to vacate be lifted to 120 days, the introduction of a blacklist for complaints against landlords and agents, and other sweeping changes to rules against pets and making minor cosmetic changes to the property.

An unofficial bidding system, where hopeful tenants offer more than the proposed rent, will also be stamped out.

“For too long we’ve had an imbalance and things have not been as fair as they should be,” Mr Andrews told Melbourne on Sunday.

“The landlord and the agent have all the power and given how tight the market is, the tenant can’t speak out and has no voice.”

The move comes just months after the Andrews government announced Victorian first-home buyers will be granted a stamp duty tax concession for houses between $600,000 and $750,000. A helpful and well-meaning attempt to boost first-home ownership in the state, but of course the brick wall remains – a 20 per cent deposit on a $600,000 property is $120,000 cash. That’s a lot of money to stump up, especially when national wages growth is at record lows.

First home buyers, whose parents can’t help with a guarantor loan or cash, will have to wait until the market corrects, which could take a very long time.

That’s why Sunday’s move from Mr Andrews is significant – it’s an admission that renting is no longer a short-term waiting room before home ownership. And it’s not just Victoria, across renting is increasingly where people spend a large chunk of their lives – even raise their families.

Of course, any suggestion that renters be handed more power is met with quick and loud objection. But while Victoria’s peak real estate body warns “any imbalance in the market has the ability to cause a rental crisis”, few other experts seem to agree.

“Landlords who were happy to provide those rental properties will be leaving the market angry,” Real Estate Institute of Victoria chief executive Gil King said in reaction to the announcement, adding that the organisation will be looking to strike out as many of the proposed changes as possible.

“The impact is going to be rents go up because of less stock on market for tenants.”

That assessment is “economically illiterate”, according to the Grattan Institute chief executive John Daley, with the positives of throwing renters a bone expected to far outweigh the negatives.

“There’s very little truth to it,” Mr Daley told Domain.

“When a landlord walks away from a property, what happens? Either someone buys and is prepared to rent it out, or someone buys it to live in it, who would otherwise have been renting.

“The number of instances where a landlord walks away and the property is left vacant is infinitesimally small.”

It’s true that the number of rental properties may drop, home ownership may rise and rents could also lift, according to Mr Daley, but none of those are expected to occur on a meaningful, or even visible, scale.

“Overall, this package provides a lot of things that are very valuable to tenants and actually don’t cost landlords very much,” Mr Daley said.

“How much does it really cost you as a landlord to have tenants occasionally bang things into the walls? To be blunt, not that much. How much does it really cost to let them have a pet, given that they’ll have to clean up afterwards? Not that much.”

That’s not to say that property investors might not be rethinking their portfolio at the moment, just that changes like those proposed on Sunday would be unlikely to have anything to do with it.

Interest rates are tipped to start rising as soon as next year, house price gains have cooled and are expected to continue to do so, and the n Prudential Regulation Authority is busily clamping down on how much of major bank balance sheets can be dedicated to investor and interest-only lending, which has the effect of pushing mortgage rates higher.

Meanwhile federal tax rules around negative gearing and capital gains tax exemptions remain untouched and continue to be key drivers of interest in the property market.

Those are surely a much more central consideration for property investors than whether their tenants can hang up a picture, keep a pet or be protected against arbitrary eviction.

“The rental sector is changing and we all have to come to grips with that,” Professor Kath Hulse of the n Housing and Urban Research Institute at Swinburne University told Domain.

“[The Victorian government] is trying to connect two things which have been disconnected. One is residential tenancy laws and the other is housing policy – they’ve been separate worlds, really.

“We’re used to thinking about this in a terribly adversarial way. If people are going to be renting longer we need to get real about it.”

Newcastle, NSW in 20 Instagram PhotosLiving Newcastle

13/12/2018

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How you captured life in Newcastle in 20 Instagram photos Photo: @theycallmepowell, via Instagram. Click the photo to follow @@theycallmepowell.
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Dom Freestone’s life as an artist with a disability features in a short film

13/12/2018

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Designing a new life | PHOTOS Th art of Dom Freestone.
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Dom doing the Colour Run.

Creative: Dom Freestone starred in a short film about his life as an artist. He’s on set with sound technician Jessica Burg and production assistant Lauren Kempe. Picture: Stephanie Meyrick.

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“I grew up playing a lot of football and surfing way too much. There wasn’t a day in either summer or winter that I wasn’t in the surf.”

After high school, he moved to Newcastle to be close to his older brother and start university.

At age 21, he decided to join the Royal n Air Force.

Two years later, while in Albury-Wodonga for technical training, he suffered the injury that changed his life – a broken neck.

“It was Saturday and it was hot, so my mates and I headed to the local dam to do some wakeboarding,” he said.

“We’d been at the dam all day and it was getting late. I decided to go for one last swim.”

He dived into the water, next to the boat, in the same spot he thought he’d been swimming all day.

“I don’t remember hitting my head, but I can remember floating to the surface face down in the water,” he said.

He said the first year after the accident was the hardest of his life.

“The friends, independence and future that I lost was so hard to bear.”

He slowly slipped into depression.

“It was around this time that a friend of mine came around and brought some of her paints and canvases,” he said.

“We spent the day painting and listening to music and, for the first time since the accident, I found something I could do independently and enjoy.”

Making ProgressMr Freestone began to look forward to getting up and painting each day.

“I also started talking with a counsellor from Hunter Health and she was immense – she helped me so much,” he said.

“I don’t know why, but it’s so much easier to talk with a stranger about thingsthan with people you know.”

At present, he is studying for a Bachelor of Visual Communication Design degree at University of Newcastle.

“Who would have thought – a quadriplegic graphic designer,” he said.

“So far I’ve managed an average mark of around 89, so HD [high distinction]average. Pretty happy with that.

“I’m in my final year.Hopefully I can get a job in some design agency when I finish.

“The ultimate goal would be to work with the Knights or NRL in some capacity. I’m a massive footy tragic.”

Mr Freestone has aspecially-designed car that enables him to drive.

“I love exploring new places and looking for a good photo opportunity,” he said.

Dom Freestone’s car. “Art, design and creating have done so much for me. Art helped me through the toughest periods of my life.”

It gave him a purpose, where he had none.

“It’s allowing me to express myself to people who otherwise wouldn’t have known me,” he said.

“It’s providing me with a career path and helping me to forge friendships – something I struggle with big time.”

Mr Freestone said he sometimes finds himself feeling blue.

“Doesn’t everyone?”, he said.

“My life is like anyone else’s.I have good days and bad.”

He finds that it helps to getout of the house, away from the distractions of modern life and be “amongpeople and the world, often taking photos or drawing”.

“I try not to focus too much on the negative aspects of my disability. Instead I think of what’s possible for me and how lucky I am to have the life I have,” he said.

He said thisquote, from actor James Spader in the TV series The Blacklist,sums up his outlook on his experience:“There is nothing that can take the pain away. But eventually you will find a way to live with it. There will be nightmares. And every day when you wake up, it will be the first thing you think about. Until one day, it will be the second thing.”