Magpies feeling freer for netball derby

Collingwood will head into the second Super Netball Victorian derby against Melbourne Vixens under less pressure and emotional strain than their first meeting, according to Madi Robinson, who has captained both clubs.

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Third-placed Vixens have won three straight while the Magpies are three points back in fifth.

Collingwood are yet to register successive wins, but Sunday’s clash at Hisense Arena will give them a gauge of just how far they have come since their three-goal opening round loss to the Vixens.

It will be the first time Collingwood have played a team twice.

“Because we’ve all come from these existing clubs we’re coming up against our old teammates and old coaches there’s a lot of emotional pressure that individually you put on yourself,” Robinson told AAP.

“To come up against the Vixens this time around, I feel like that kind of weight has been lifted off our shoulders a little bit from everyone.

“There’s not that pressure and emotional strain coming into it. So you can get out there and play a bit more free.

“They are above us on the ladder and it will be a great indication to see if we have improved … and where we need to go to for the second half of the season.”

The Vixens are the best performed of the five established franchises having lost just one out of six and defeated the previously unbeaten Giants last week.

“They are playing some exceptional netball and people are going ‘oh wow, look at the Vixens, they are quite competitive.'” Robinson said.

“I’m not shocked or surprised at how well they are going at all because a lot of those players have obviously been a part of the system for three or four years at training, playing with each other.

“It’s now they are just doing it on a weekly basis actually on court, because some of these big name players have left and they have got their opportunity.”

The Magpies netballers are still getting used to the scrutiny and pressure attached to the Colingwood brand, but haven’t spoken about that yet with their AFL namesakes.

“I think it’s an untapped resource that we probably could and should use sooner than later,” she said.

“To know how they deal with that type of pressure and stress and hopefully (we) can turn things around and start performing and putting more wins on the board.”

New BCA head King pushes for change

New Business Council of Australia head, Grant King, has slammed attempts to link the issue of company tax cuts with the recent cuts in weekend penalty rates.

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“To suggest that a reduction in the corporate tax rate to maintain a competitive investment environment should be rejected because an independent commission has determined to reduce penalty rates, is the basest of political arguments and should be called out as such,” Mr King said on Friday.

“Both of those things have the same objective, and that is to get more people to work.”

In his first major speech since being elected president of the Business Council of Australia, the former Origin Energy chief executive warned populist policies would be damaging and repeated calls for an overhaul of the tax system to maintain international competitiveness.

“If our parliaments follow the populist path and put the short-term wants of the few ahead of the long term needs of the many, then the crisis will eventually come,” Mr King said in a speech to the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce.

His comments came as the federal government’s $50 billion, 10-year corporate tax cut package remains stranded in parliament, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition unable to secure support in the Senate for the bill.

Mr King said the BCA called for a comprehensive tax system review in its federal budget submission but, with the political will for this absent, would argue for cuts in the corporate and personal income tax rates.

“We know that business investment drives productivity growth, which in turn is the greatest driver of income growth. Meaningful jobs and income growth are the outcomes Australians most highly value,” he said.

The business lobby also wants a reduced regulatory burden, including streamlining of project approvals and limiting grounds for appealing against them.

Mr King also indicated that BCA’s lobbying approach will change, with the move following past criticism the group has not advocated strongly enough on policy proposals that it supports.

“In the two-party system, we believed quiet advocacy in Canberra was the best option. But that has changed. We need to be talking directly to the community and we will do that a lot more,” he said.

Earlier this week, the country’s top business leaders, led by the BCA, went to Canberra to urge the opposition Labor Party and crossbenchers to get behind cuts to government-advocated corporate tax cuts.

’18C debate not over’, say both Liberal Senator and Labor MP

Liberal Senator James Paterson and Labor MP Linda Burney have said the defeat of the government proposal to change race-hate laws in the Senate does not mark the end of the debate.

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“I have no doubt we will soon again be debating changes to 18C and I know the public will have even less sympathy for this flawed law than they do today,” Senator Paterson said in a statement to SBS News.

The Coalition failed in its attempt to change the words “offend”, “insult” and “humiliate” in Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to “harass and intimidate” during a late-night debate on Thursday.

The attempt to re-word the section was killed off by a Labor amendment to the bill, which passed 31 votes to 28.

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Linda Burney, Shadow Minister for Human Services, told SBS News she also believed the Senate vote would not be the last of the issue.

“If the Prime Minister thinks he has squared this away, hung out the olive branch to say, ‘look I’ve tried, I’ve failed’ and shored up his leadership, I think it is going to have the opposite effect,” Ms Burney said.

WATCH: Senate debates 18C  0:00 Share

‘Progress has been made’, says IPA

The Labor MP said those in the Liberal Party who supported changes to 18C would be emboldened by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s support for changes.

“Of course it’s not the last of it. It’s already clear Senator (Cory) Bernardi and those in the Liberal Party that are associates of the Institute of Public Affairs are not going to let this go,” Ms Burney said.

While efforts to amend the wording of section 18C failed to pass, the Senate on Thursday accepted changes to the process of handling complaints.

The lesser changes had both Labor and Liberal support. 

Simon Breheny, Director of Policy at the Institute of Public Affairs, said the organisation would be doing more in the coming ‘months and years’ to ensure the Racial Discrimination Act was changed.

“The vote in the Senate last night doesn’t change the fact that 18C presents a very significant problem for freedom of speech,” Mr Breheny told SBS News.

“I think this is going to continue, this is not an issue that is going anywhere and I encourage people to participate in this debate”.

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Mr Breheny said despite the Senate defeat he believed there had been progress on the issue and noted that support for changes was now official Coalition policy.

“I think it is a great thing that we have moved from the position of the former Abbott government,” he said.

“I think that it’s wonderful that the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and others in the government have realised that this issue is really significant.”

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott abandoned the government’ plans to abolish 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in 2014.

WATCH: Senator George Brandis on 18C  0:00 Share

‘Time to move on’

Greens Senator Nick McKim said on Thursday the defeat of the government’s proposed changes was a “victory for common sense”.

“Fair-minded Australians right across the country will be celebrating,” he said.

However Joseph Caputo, chairperson Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, said it wasn’t a moment for celebration.

“It’s a sad day, I would have preferred the government hadn’t revisited this issue, and I’m saddened that the government has decided to revisit it,” Mr Caputo told SBS News.

WATCH: Senator Malcolm Roberts says 18C protects Muslim Criminals  0:00 Share

Mr Caputo said while he hoped the government changed its policy on supporting changes to 18C, he wouldn’t be campaigning to pressure them to do so.

“I hope that from now on this issue will never see the light of day again. The government should take heed that there is not an appetite, either publicly or in the parliament to water down the anti-discrimination laws,” he added.

“We should just put it behind us and move on.”

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Park spends her first day in custody after arrest

The former head of state stared straight ahead, apparently trying to maintain her composure, as she was driven to the Seoul Detention Centre through a barrage of flashbulbs shortly before dawn.

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After a marathon hearing on Thursday a court in the capital ordered Park’s arrest in connection with the corruption scandal that brought millions of people onto the streets and saw her impeached. 

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Prosecutors have yet to specify the formal charges against her, but have previously said she is suspected of bribery, abuse of authority, coercion, and leaking government secrets.

“It is justifiable and necessary to arrest (Park) as key charges were justified and there is risk of evidence being destroyed,” the court said in a statement.

The decision made Park, 65, the third former leader to be arrested over corruption in Asia’s fourth-largest economy, where politics and big business have long been closely tied.

It is a dramatic step in the disgrace of South Korea’s first woman president.

The liberal Democratic Party, which is favourite to win the election on May 9 to choose Park’s successor, said in a statement that the move showed “all are equal before the law”.

“We hope today’s landmark decision will provide fresh momentum in revealing the truth about the scandal of an unprecedented scale,” it added.

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But Park’s own Liberty Korea party – which has changed its name in an effort to distance itself from her – called the move “regrettable”.

Loyalist lawmaker and presidential hopeful Kim Jin-Tae was furious, calling it “the death knell for the country’s rule of law”.

‘Principle of fairness’

Despite the early hour, about 50 of her supporters were at the detention centre when Park arrived, waving national flags and chanting slogans demanding her release.

According to normal procedure, she would have been processed – including being fingerprinted and having her mugshot taken – changed into prison garb with her prisoner number on the chest, and put in a cell.

Under South Korean law prosecutors now have up to 20 days in which to indict her.

Choi Soon-Sil, Park’s secret confidante at the heart of the scandal, is being held at the same centre, as is Samsung heir Lee Jae-Yong.

Choi is already on trial for forcing top local firms including the tech giant to “donate” nearly $70 million to non-profit foundations which she allegedly used for personal gain, while Lee has been indicted for bribery and other offences.

Ahead of Thursday’s hearing, prosecutors submitted around 120,000 pages of documents to the Seoul Central District Court, and said it would be “counter to the principle of fairness” if Park were not arrested.

The former leader, who has denied the accusations, was grilled for nearly nine hours by the judge.

That came after she underwent a 21-hour interrogation session at the prosecutors’ office last week, having refused repeated requests to be interviewed while in power.

‘Sleepless nights’

Park, daughter of late dictator Park Chung-Hee, secured the largest vote share of any candidate in the democratic era when she was elected in 2012.

But she was impeached by parliament in December, as the scandal combined with mounting economic and social frustrations to trigger huge candlelit demonstrations. The Constitutional Court later upheld the decision.

She had been “lost for words” when authorities asked for her arrest, the Chosun Ilbo daily quoted an unidentified pro-Park lawmaker as saying.

Another said she had been having “sleepless nights and skipping meals” since moving out of the presidential palace.

Park allegedly offered governmental favours to top businessmen who enriched Choi, including Samsung’s Lee.

She is also accused of letting her friend, a high school graduate with no title or security clearance, handle a wide range of state affairs including nomination of top officials.

Park is also said to have cracked down on thousands of artists who had voiced criticisms of her or her father’s iron-fisted rule from 1961 to 1979.

She has repeatedly apologised for the upset caused by the scandal but not admitted any wrongdoing, blaming Choi for abusing their friendship

Adani head says Qld mega mine ready to go

The head of Indian mining giant Adani says the company is ready to go this year with its controversial mega coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

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Adani Mining chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj told a business lunch in Brisbane that the company expected to start engineering work on the rail line between the Carmichael mine and the Abbott Point coal terminal by June, and start major construction by September.

The $21 billion project has been the focus on strong opposition from environmental groups, but Mr Janakaraj said it was vital in reducing India’s carbon footprint, with the higher quality Australian coal producing less pollution than that mined in India.

“The 20,000 megawatts of thermal energy (in India) needs a reliable source of good quality coal to keep the net impact to climate change neutral or lower,” Mr Janakaraj said.

“The thing about Carmichael is, it will reduce the carbon footprint of existing plants which are using Indonesian or Indian coal today, by say 30 to 40 per cent.”

He said away from India, the project would employ 10,000 people in Queensland, as well as provide economic benefit to the state budget in the form of taxes and royalties.

“We know that we are going to impact 10,000 families in regional Queensland and millions in India, and that’s what we’re working for,” the chief executive said.

“Anybody who thinks this project is going to stop, then you’re literally trying to stop 10,000 families from living, and millions living in India.”

About 200 protestors gathered outside the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane’s CBD to voice their opposition to the mine.

In particular they raised concerns about Adani’s environmental impact in some of its Indian operations.

Various environmental groups have attempted to halt the mine through the courts, but in spite of continued legal action the project is set to go ahead.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this month led a trade mission of eight regional Queensland mayors to India to meet with Adani bosses.

“My government has worked with Adani to ensure the project went through a rigorous and comprehensive assessment process for the mine, rail and port development,” she said before the trip.

EU Brexit guide softens on UK relations

The European Union has softened its public stance on Britain’s exit from the bloc, with Council President Donald Tusk signalling some flexibility on allowing talks on a new relationship before the divorce is complete.

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Tusk insists Brussels will take a “constructive” approach and wants to keep the UK as a “close partner” on trade and security in the future.

The EU’s draft Brexit guidelines were unveiled by Tusk in Malta on Friday and have been distributed to Britain’s 27 EU partners.

They say the EU and Britain must first “settle the disentanglement” of Britain from the bloc but add “an overall understanding on the framework for the future relationship could be identified during the second phase of the negotiations under Article 50”.

Another priority is to settle questions about British and other European citizens living in each other’s countries, and find “flexible and imaginative solutions” for the UK’s land border with Ireland.

EU leaders warn the two years of Brexit talks triggered this week will be difficult but insist they do not want all-out economic or diplomatic conflict.

Tusk said the EU would not punish Britain in the talks, saying Brexit itself was “punitive enough”.

The head of the rotating EU presidency, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, insisted the negotiations “will not be a war”.

Tusk said there would be no parallel discussions about Britain’s exit and its future relationship with the EU but the negotiations could move to a second phase if there was “sufficient progress” in the exit talks.

A spokesman for May said the guidelines showed a constructive approach.

“It is clear both sides wish to approach these talks constructively, and as the prime minister said this week, wish to ensure a deep and special partnership between the UK and the European Union,” he said.

Tusk will visit London for talks with May before a special EU summit on April 29, when the negotiating guidelines are expected to be approved.

Japan kills 333 whales in annual Antarctic hunt

The fleet set sail for the Southern Ocean in November, with plans to slaughter 333 minke whales, flouting a worldwide moratorium and opposition led by Australia and New Zealand.

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The fleet consisted of five ships, three of which arrived in the morning at Shimonoseki port in western Japan, the country’s Fisheries Agency said.

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More than 200 people, including crew members and their families, gathered in the rain for a 30-minute ceremony in front of the Nisshin Maru, the fleet’s main ship, according to an official of the Shimonoseki City government.

In a press release, the agency described the mission as “research for the purpose of studying the ecological system in the Antarctic Sea”.

But environmentalists and the International Court of Justice (IJC) call that a fiction and say the real purpose is simply to hunt whales for their meat.

Anticipating the fleet’s return, animal protection charity Humane Society International called for an end to Japanese whaling. 

“Each year that Japan persists with its discredited scientific whaling is another year where these wonderful animals are needlessly sacrificed,” said Kitty Block, the group’s executive vice president.

“It is an obscene cruelty in the name of science that must end,” she said in a release.

Research claims

Japan also caught 333 minke whales in the previous season ending in 2016 after a one-year hiatus prompted by an IJC ruling, which said the hunt was a commercial venture masquerading as science and ordered Tokyo to end it.

Under the International Whaling Commission (IWC), to which Japan is a signatory, there has been a moratorium on hunting whales since 1986.

Tokyo exploits a loophole allowing whales to be killed for “scientific research” and claims it is trying to prove the population is large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting.

But it also makes no secret of the fact that whale meat ends up on dinner tables and is served up in school lunches.

Japan has hunted whales for centuries, and their meat was a key source of protein in the immediate post-World War II years when the country was desperately poor.

But consumption has dramatically declined in recent decades, with significant proportions of the population saying they “never” or “rarely” eat whale meat.

In response to the ICJ ruling, Japan’s 2014-15 mission carried out only “non-lethal research” such as taking skin samples and doing headcounts.

Past missions have been hampered by a confrontational campaign on the high seas by environmentalists Sea Shepherd, though Japan has won some relief from the group through the courts.

A fisheries agency official said that the whalers this time faced “no obstructive behaviour threatening safety of the fleet and crew members” by the group.

He attributed that partially to Japan having started dispatching fisheries agency patrol ships to protect the fleet.

The Nisshin Maru returns to the Shimonoseki port on March 31, 2017, after it and two other vessels hunted 333 minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean.AAP

Abuse survivors give voice to thousands

The voices of child sexual abuse victims have been heard and the secrecy shattered.

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Now the survivors who have given voice to the suffering of tens of thousands of others during four years of child abuse royal commission public hearings want action.

They want a zero-tolerance approach after child sexual abuse allegations involving more than 4000 Australian institutions.

It is the only approach the community can adopt, 56-year-old abuse survivor Steven Smith says.

“We should never again find ourselves in this situation where generations have been devastated and lives have been lost due to the indifference and self-serving attitudes of institutions in this country,” Mr Smith said on Friday.

“We as a community need to send a clear message to potential offenders and those institutions that would seek to protect them that we will act swiftly and decisively to protect our children and their future.”

No institution can be allowed to investigate itself anymore and there must be mandatory reporting of child abuse allegations, the last day of the royal commission’s 57th and final public hearing was told.

“Even today we have cases of pedophile priests being secretly housed with children and institutions conducting inquiries disguised as independent investigations,” survivor Damian de Marco said.

“Given this, the only solution is for all investigations of alleged abuse in institutions to be undertaken by the state or with government oversight.”

Mr Smith said anyone subject to a child abuse allegation must be immediately removed from any access to children and vulnerable people and police must be told.

He said strict legal and financial penalties should apply if mandatory reporting is not complied with, calling for criminal sanctions, fines and the withdrawal of tax exemptions and concessions.

Aileen Ashford, whose intellectually disabled brother was abused for years, thanked the commissioners for their work.

“That has allowed the many voices of victims to be heard but more importantly has brought institutional sexual abuse into the public domain, shattered the secrecy, given victims and families hope that change will occur and we will never see this again.”

Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan paid tribute to the courage and determination of survivors who gave evidence during the public hearings.

“Although a relatively small number, they have given voice to the suffering of tens of thousands of people who have been abused in an institutional context in Australia,” he said.

“Without them our public hearings would be a hollow attempt to tell their story.

“Without them the realities of child sexual abuse and the extent of institutional failure could not be recognised.”

The six commissioners will speak to another 2000 child abuse victims during private sessions, on top of the 6500 already conducted, before handing over their final report on December 15.

System failing kids: NT inquiry report

The Northern Territory’s juvenile justice system is broken at every level and continues to fail young people, the royal commission says.

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The $50 million inquiry released its interim report on Friday, the day it was originally expected to finish.

The report contains no findings or recommendations but slams the youth detention system for favouring punitive measures over rehabilitation.

The report did, however, welcome “initial steps” taken by the new Labor NT government in its $18 million overhaul to boost diversion workers and training for prison guards.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the report vindicated his youth justice reform agenda.

“It certainly gives confidence to us as a government that we are going down the right policy path,” he said.

The damming report found the juvenile justice system was “likely to leave many children and young people more damaged than when they entered”.

“It fails those who work in those systems and it fails the people of the Northern Territory who are entitled to live in safer communities,” co-commissioner Margaret White said.

The report found the NT’s “harsh, bleak” detention facilities are unfit for children to live in or guards to work in.

But the commission advised the NT government to hold off on building a new facility to replace the notoriously inadequate Don Dale Detention Centre until after the inquiry delivers its final report on August 1.

Mr Gunner admitted he’d hoped for earlier direction but said he’s already invested into Don Dale infrastructure to make it safer and secure in the short term.

The report advocated crime prevention, early intervention and community engagement to break the cycle of crime.

“For a system to work, children and young people in detention must be given every opportunity to get their lives on track and to re-enter the community less likely to reoffend,” Ms White said.

The report revealed the Territory has the nation’s highest rate of young people in detention and child protection services, by a considerable margin.

About 94 per cent of those kids locked up and 89 per cent in care are Aboriginal.

And the number of youngsters entering detention has more than doubled in the past decade.

Aboriginal kids are 25 times more likely to be locked up than their non-indigenous peers, according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures released on Friday.

“Children and young people in out-of-home care are more likely to enter the youth detention system. Those systems are inextricably linked,” co-commissioner Mick Gooda said.

Ms White said there was no quick fix in effecting long-term change, so the commission wouldn’t rush any recommendations.

The inquiry has already been under way for eight months and in December, it was granted a four-month extension.

It was sparked when footage of boys being tear gassed, shackled and spit-hooded was aired on national television last year.

The commission still needs to hear from politicians in charge at the time of the 2014 incident before shifting its focus to the care and protection system.

As National Youth Week kicks off on Friday, more than 100 organisations have urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to set an indigenous incarceration Close the Gap target.

Oxfam Australia was among those that signed the open letter, and chief executive Dr Helen Szoke said appalling abuses were not unique to the NT.

“It is a crisis which demands an urgent national plan of action,” she said.

Punishing child sex offenders isn’t enough: top judge

Protecting children from sexual abuse will take more than just punishing offenders, says Western Australia’s Chief Justice Wayne Martin.

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Justice Martin said courts had been handing out harsh sentences for sex offenders for a long time but it did not appear to be working.

“We can’t simply punish our way out of this problem,” he said.

“We need a variety of strategies, including, of course, severe punishment.

“We need to prevent, rehabilitate and to try to discourage people from committing these offences in the first place.”

Justice Martin said the courts were probably only seeing one-in-20 of the cases that actually occurred because report rates were very low.

He said it was time to address the matter openly and that Australian society could accept therapy and preventative measures for sex offenders, or those who felt at risk of offending, just as it had done with drug addicts and domestic violence.

“Maybe if these people have a pathological cause of their problem, maybe the best way of doing it is to address that cause,” he said.

“And we know, of course, that many of the offenders were themselves victims.

“I think most people would understand that and really accept it.”

Justice Martin was speaking at a first-of-its-kind Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Symposium in Perth.

The symposium was attended by social workers, police officers, corrective services staff, psychologists and victims of crime.

One of those behind the symposium is psychologist Christabel Chamarette who has spent decades working with child sex offenders.

She said it was important to break the silence about sex offending, which more often than not occurred within families, and provide therapy.

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According to Ms Chamarette many offenders are teenage boys and fathers who struggle with impulses that could be caused by a confused sexual development, past abuse and emotional immaturity.

“You then learn that it’s not just about breaking the silence, but you then offer constructive ways of change,” she said.

“You don’t do that by alienating them or splitting up families and destroying people’s lives.

“You actually have to address the problem in ways that suit the needs of the children and the families involved.”

Ms Chamarette said by “locking someone up and throwing away the key” it was not addressing the cause of the offending and victims could continue to feel at risk when offenders were released.

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“The earliest intervention you can get is in the mind of somebody who might be at risk of doing something,” she said.

“We need to make a society where people can know how to ask for help and get help before it’s too late, before they’ve actually offended.”

Ms Chamaratte said people who genuinely found children sexually attractive were in the minority.

She told the symposium that from her work in prisons with sex offenders she had learned many of them loathed paedophiles and did not consider themselves attracted to children.

More often than not they had been sexually abused themselves, or had suffered severe trauma as a child, which they had supressed leaving them little ability to cope with situations in adulthood.

She said therapy was a revelatory experience to offenders exposing themselves to parts of their psyche they had locked away or surpressed.

“It’s always been needed and I’ve always had the message,” Ms Chamarette said.

“But people are listening now because they’re actually seeing that we cannot continue with a one-size-fits-all or this pattern of locking people up and throwing away the key.

“It’s not working and it’s not keeping our children safe.”

Readers can contact Child Wise for support.