A group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander non-government organisations has launched a round of community consultations across the country in the hope of addressing the over-representation of Indigenous children in out-of-home care.

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Organisers say the consultations will raise awareness that children should only be removed from their families as a last resort.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures show Indigenous children are almost eight times more likely to be placed in out-of-home care than other Australian children.

 

It’s that over-representation, as well as a rapid increase in the numbers over the past decade, that has prompted the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to organise national consultations.

 

The first meeting was held in Darwin and among the attendees were the Northern Territory Minister for Children and Families, John Elferink, and NT Children’s Commissioner Howard Bath.

 

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) organised the community consultation, one of a number to take place in each state and territory over the next 6-12 months.

 

Chief executive Frank Hytten says that time will be spent in developing state and territory-based plans to reduce the statistics.

 

“We’ve created a national program called Families Matter, Faith in Culture Not Care. This meeting was meant to be the first of one in every jurisdiction and probably more than that,” Mr Hitten says.

“What’s significant I suppose is that we’re starting with the NT where the problems are perhaps the most apparent, and communities are the most damaged by history and by what is going on now, with children still being removed in greater rates, I’m told, than in the Stolen Generations.”

He says there are many reasons why the rates of Indigenous childen in out-of-home care are higher today.

“Something like 35 percent of children removed, are removed for neglect. But neglect can be seen as a cultural issue,” Mr Hitten explains.

“I don’t mean cultural with a capital C. It just means things like kids playing barefoot or kids sleeping on the floor; those reasons are, I understand, why people are being taken away. It wouldn’t have been (the case) 20 years ago. That would have been seen as the way people lived.

“And abject poverty is probably the single biggest issue that creates a lot of this. Going to school is becoming more and more significant as a requirement from non-Aboriginal society. If education is about issues that don’t impact on Aboriginal society then kids don’t go to school.”

 

Margaret Furber is a Stolen Generations member and a board member for NT child protection group, Safety.

 

She knows well the impact of being removed from one’s family.

“[There’s] Loss of culture, loss of identity, and when you come out of care you have to go looking around for your family,” she says.

“I was old enough and lucky enough to still stay in Alice Springs and still allowed [to be] with my family. And I was able to connect back with them. But my brother and sisters didn’t.”

 

She says culture and family connection is central to preventing the cycle of disadvantage amongst Aboriginal Australians.

“That’s part of it that makes them feel whole again. It’s very hard (for) children who are taken away and don’t have anything. Then they come back to Aboriginal culture and then they finally feel relief and [feel] comfortable in saying: yea’h, I’m back where I belong’.”

 

Patricia Kurnith formerly worked for the Territory government for 26 years in the health department and eight years in child protection.

 

She says there are circumstances where children do need to be removed, for their own safety.

 

But she says she seen too many cases of children being removed unnecessarily.

 

“There were two children who were in hospital between [the ages of] 1 and 2. They were being fed by PEG [ Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy] – that means [they were fed with] liquid to gain their weight because they had feeding problems when they were born.

“Now when those children were taken into care, the mother was devastated. She tried so hard to do everything right.

“What happens is back home in the community – whatever happened, we don’t know the right story – the feeds were missed. So the children lost weight, [and] ended up in hospital. But if we were to support that mother back here in Darwin with accommodation and someone providing that care – and it doesn’t have to be all day, it just has to be someone checking for those feeds – then she would have got the children to the age where they don’t need the PEG eeding any more.”

 

She says a fresh approach is needed  involving businesses, community groups and governments to get a significant reduction in the numbers.

 

“I hope we can look at ways of being flexible, ways of working in with families and children and maybe saying to the families out there if you need support, get it before it comes to this point.

“And then maybe [we can get] those high statistics that are there for our children in care, get it down to a level, you know? It happens because it happens everywhere in the world. But it shouldn’t be this high here [in Australia].”

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Sachin Tendulkar made a tearful but self-effacing farewell as his glittering 24-year cricket career came to an end on Saturday at his home ground of Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

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Tendulkar embraced teammates as the Test against the West Indies ended, but as they tried to give him a guard of honour on his way off the ground, the most prolific batsman in international cricket history rushed past them, quickly making his way into the pavilion wiping away tears.

But he could not avoid the outpouring of emotions as he came back to the field for an awards ceremony and went on to give a passionate speech in which he thanked everyone who helped him over his long career, holding a list of names to ensure he did not miss anyone.

“All my friends, settle down and we’ll talk or else I’ll get more and more emotional,” he said to calm the enthusiastic crowd.

“My life’s been between 22 yards for 24 years and it’s hard to believe that such a wonderful journey is coming to an end.”

Tendulkar then went on to thank his parents, relatives and friends who had helped him grow over the years but made special mention of wife Anjali, elder brother Ajit and coach Ramakant Achrekar for their support.

He called his marriage to Anjali the “best partnership of his life”, thanked Ajit for “living the dream together with him” and coach Achrekar for “taking him around town on his two-wheeler” to play matches in his early years.

Tendulkar, whose entire adult life has been spent in an intense spotlight as an icon to India’s fanatical fans, said he would now spend more private time with his 16-year-old daughter Sara and 14-year-old son Arjun, who was also a ball boy for this match and plays for the Mumbai junior team.

He also thanked his senior cricketers, doctors, sports officials and the media before moving his attention to the crowd.

“Time has flown by very quickly, but the memories will remain with me forever, especially the ‘Sachin, Sachin’,” he said, prompting the crowd let out the chant once more.

Tendulkar, waving the Indian flag, was then taken around the ground by teammates on their shoulders in similar fashion to the victory lap after the 2011 World Cup victory at the same venue.

After a lap of the ground, he went out to the pitch alone, bent down to touch it with his right hand and then touched his eyes and forehead in a traditional Indian sign of reverence before moving back to the pavilion.

Earlier, Tendulkar bowled two overs of legspin on the final day of his career amid roaring applause on the third day of the second Test against the West Indies, which he declared last month would be his last game.

Tendulkar, who has already retired from limited overs internationals, had earlier in the game struck a neat 74 with 12 fours which comprised several of his trademark shots like the straight drive, cover drive and paddle-sweep.

That proved to be his last innings, as India wrapped up a comfortable win by an innings and 126 runs.

Tendulkar’s wife Anjali was among those watching the “Little Master” in action.

“It’s been an emotional one month for us starting from the day he announced his retirement,” Anjali told the channel beaming the match live.

“Sachin is very good at hiding his emotions so we don’t really know what’s going on in his mind.”

Anjali said the retirement had not been planned for long.

Global cricketing greats Brian Lara and Shane Warne flew in to join Indian politicians, corporate leaders and Bollywood stars at Wankhede for the final chapter of a career that has featured 15,921 runs in 200 Tests and 18,426 runs in 463 one-day internationals.

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Substantial food and medical aid has finally begun reaching desperate survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, but humanitarian groups warn of huge logistical challenges in accessing devastated, remote island communities.

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The unprecedented ferocity of the November 8 storm and the scale of destruction had overwhelmed the initial relief effort, leaving millions in the worst-hit central islands of Leyte and Samar hurt, homeless and hungry, with no power or water.

Related: Haiyan claims second Aussie

Eight days later, a working aid pipeline is in place, funnelling emergency supplies to those left destitute in the ruins of Leyte’s Tacloban city, while helicopters flying off the aircraft carrier USS George Washington brought some relief to outlying areas.

UN agencies on Saturday said more than 170,000 people had received rice rations or food packets, while the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said they would have mobile surgical units in Tacloban by the end of the weekend.

“The place really needs to be saturated with relief,” Red Cross Asia-Pacific spokesman Patrick Fuller said in Tacloban.

“People literally have nothing. Money is useless here,” he said.

The US military said it had delivered 118 tonnes of food, water and shelter items, and airlifted almost 2900 people to safety.

But relief officials described conditions in the sports stadium in Tacloban that served as the main evacuation centre as appalling, with a lack of proper sanitation.

Often children and the elderly were unable to get to relief distribution points in the city.

“I have money … but I cannot eat my money,” said Beatrice Bisquera, 91, a retired school supervisor.

“I need medicine but there is no pharmacy that’s open. I’m hungry but the food we stored is gone,” she said.

In its most recent update, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council put the official death toll at 3633, with 1179 people missing and nearly 12,500 injured.

The UN said 2.5 million people still “urgently” required food assistance.

With an estimated 13 million people affected by the storm, almost 1.9 million survivors are displaced.

The World Health Organisation is worried about the welfare of remote communities on 20 smaller islands. “Because of the geography of the Philippines – an archipelago of many islands – it is essentially like mounting at least seven separate, simultaneous relief efforts,” said Julie Hall, the WHO’s representative in the Philippines.

Frustrated with the slow pace of the initial relief effort, many people with relatives in the impacted areas made their own aid efforts.

Filling boxes and sacks with packets of rice, cup noodles and candles, they boarded ferries from Cebu island to Ormoc town on Leyte.

“That’s my village,” Nick Cantuja said, pointing from the ferry as it approached the coast.

“Our house is gone now. Everything… it’s gone.

“Yesterday, a Red Cross team was able to reach there but it’s not enough,” he said.

Basic medical care remains a priority, with initial assessments that half of the 38 medical facilities in the impacted region wiped out.

Yet some residents of remote areas appear to have been better prepared for Haiyan than those in larger towns and cities.

The tiny Camotes islands, between Cebu and off Leyte, took a direct hit that flattened most villages, but of a population of 89,400 there were five confirmed fatalities.

Alfredo Arquillano, the former mayor of the islands’ largest town, San Francisco, said Camotes residents had been practising typhoon drills for years.

“We knew we were vulnerable, so we made absolutely sure that everybody knew what to do and where to go,” Arquillano told AFP by phone.

All 1000 residents of one of the chain’s tiniest islets, Tulang Diyot, were evacuated to a larger island before Haiyan made landfall.

“My goodness, it was a good decision. It’s fair to say it saved everyone’s life. There is not one house left standing on Tulang Diyot,” Arquillano said.

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The punishment has been imposed by the world governing body over the circumstances surrounding Bresciano’s transfer from United Arab Emirates side Al Nasr to Qatar Stars League outfit Al Gharafa last year.

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Bresciano, 33, is a near certain inclusion in Australia’s squad for the World Cup in Brazil and while it was not immediately clear when any ban would start, it has cast doubt on his participation at football’s showpiece.

Bresciano is in Socceroos camp ahead of Tuesday’s international against Costa Rica with Football Federation Australia confirming that he will be available for the Allianz Stadium encounter.

“We will do all we can to assist Marco Bresciano and his representatives in having the judgement swiftly overturned and set aside,” an FFA spokesperson told News Limited.

“The advice from FIFA is that the suspension doesn’t apply to Tuesday night’s match against Costa Rica. Marco is available for selection and will continue his preparations with the squad.”

FFA officials were not immediately available for further comment.

FIFA granted Al Nasr the right to compensation for Bresciano and also decreed that Al Gharafa would be forbidden from signing any players for 12 months, with the Qatari club announcing it would appeal the ruling.

“This is not a unique case, there are many precedents, we as a club are not a part of this case,” a statement from Al Gharafa Club General Secretary Jassim Al Manosuri read on the club’s website.

“As the player ended his contract with his former club before joining us, our next step will be filing an appeal to the court of arbitration for sport”.

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Indiana improved their perfect start to the NBA season to 9-0 by cruising past Milwaukee 104-77 on Friday, with Roy Hibbert having 24 points and eight blocks.

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The Pacers became the first team since the 2002-03 Dallas Mavericks to open a season 9-0.

Indiana have already beaten all four of their Central Division foes.

Among other games, LeBron James led Miami past Dallas, Joe Johnson shone in the key moments as Brooklyn beat Phoenix in overtime, and Chicago beat Toronto for their first road win of the season.

Indiana’s Hibbert had plenty of help. Paul George scored 10 of his 22 points in the third quarter and Lance Stephenson finished with 11 points.

The Bucks, who were missing four injured players, were led by O.J. Mayo’s 20 points but they never looked likely to avoid a fourth-straight loss.

Miami’s LeBron James scored 39 points and Dwyane Wade had 17 points, eight assists and a career-best eight steals as the Heat beat Dallas 110-104.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 28 points to lead Dallas, who turned the ball over 24 times.

Brooklyn’s Joe Johnson tied the game in regulation, trapped a loose ball in overtime and then dropped in a basket as time expired to give the Nets a 100-98 win over Phoenix.

Meanwhile, San Antonio’s Tony Parker scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to guide the Spurs to a 91-82 win over Utah, extending their winning streak to seven games.

Australian Patrick Mills played 10 minutes for the Spurs and scored four points.

Chicago overcame the absence of the injured Derrick Rose to beat Toronto 96-80.

Luol Deng had 19 points and Joakim Noah scored 18 for the Bulls, who have won three straight.

Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and added 12 rebounds to lead the TrailBlazers to a 109 win over the Celtics; their first victory in Boston since 2004.

Charlotte’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 16 points as the Bobcats used a strong fourth quarter to win 86-80 at Cleveland.

Kyrie Irving, wearing a mask to protect a nasal fracture, had 18 points and 10 assists for Cleveland, who lost for the first time in four games at home.

Memphis’ Zack Randolph scored 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Grizzlies beat the Los Angeles Lakers 89-86.

Denver’s Wilson Chandler scored 19 points, including a big 3-pointer and three free throws late in the game, as the Nuggets held off Minnesota 117-113 for their third straight win.

Detroit’s Josh Smith had 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, as the Pistons snapped a four-game skid by beating Sacramento.

Atlanta’s Jeff Teague had a career-high 33 points and 10 assists as the Hawks beat Philadelphia 113-103.

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