Report finds over 7,000 serious incidents in disability homes, including abuse

NDIS minister Bill Shorten tells ABC RN “the interface isn’t as effective for people living in supported accommodation as it should be” – meaning there is a lack of communication channels that would help reveal abuse or neglect.

This comes after NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission report finds over 7,000 serious incidents in disability homes over the last four years, with many including abuse.

“There are some Australians who live in accommodation with high level of support. But people are particularly vulnerable,” he says. “And that’s why this report is important to make sure that they’re not getting ignored by the systems and obligations.”

The interface isn’t as effective for people living in supported accommodation as it should be.

[If] the only people that a person with disabilities communicate with is the carer, then that creates a highly vulnerable relationship … We’ve got to do much better at educating individuals in the homes, that they’re right, and making sure that we check in on them.

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Daniel Hurst

More on talks between Australia and China.

When asked about the meeting and whether it could signal an imminent policy change, the shadow health minister, Anne Ruston, said the Labor government “must not continue their track record on making rushed and panicked decisions, which are not based on Australian medical advice”. She said:

The opposition has been very clear that we strongly support any measures necessary to protect Australian lives and livelihoods.

The minister for health disingenuously stated that the new restrictions were necessary to ‘gather more information’ on the situation in China, but we know that the pre-flight testing undertaken by travellers in China does not achieve that, as the tests will not provide Australian health officials with any genomic sequencing.

Australia’s chief medical officer, Prof Paul Kelly, did not recommend the test requirement but the health minister, Mark Butler, said has said the government was acting cautiously and wanted more transparency from China about its Covid situation. He hopes the requirement is temporary.

It is understood the Australian government views the negative test rule as reciprocal because the Chinese government also requires it of travellers to China. On Saturday Chinese authorities disclosed 59,938 Covid-related deaths between 8 December and 12 January.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Australia and China have vowed to remain in talks about the Covid response after an initial meeting between officials last week discussed the need for “ongoing communication and information sharing”.

Despite initial fears that the Albanese government’s introduction of a negative test result requirement for travellers from China could trigger “countermeasures” like the ones imposed on Japan and South Korea, officials from China and Australia appear to be sticking with dialogue.

The Australian health department has issued the following statement about the meeting, which was held virtually on Wednesday last week:

Officials from the Departments of Health and Aged Care and Foreign Affairs and Trade, along with Australian clinical experts, met virtually with China’s National Health Commission and China CDC on 11 January 2022.

The discussion provided an opportunity to exchange information on our respective COVID-19 situations and discuss clinical management approaches. Both countries agreed on the importance of ongoing communication and information sharing.

We look forward to further opportunities to discuss the Covid situation and our respective responses with China.

Dave Rennie sacked as Wallabies coach – reports

Dave Rennie has reportedly been fired as Wallabies coach. Eddie Jones is to coach the team for the 2023 World Cup and has signed a five-year deal that will take him through to the 2027 World Cup, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

BREAKING: Dave Rennie has been sacked as Wallabies coach, effective immediately.

Eddie Jones to coach Wallabies at 2023 World Cup.

Five year deal through to 2027.

— Tom Decent (@tomdecent) January 15, 2023

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan says “Eddie’s deep understanding of our rugby system and knowledge of our player group and pathways will lift the team to the next level,” in a statement to the Herald.

Eddie instinctively understands the Australian way of playing Rugby – this represents an opportunity to secure a coach of immense expertise and experience at the biggest competitions, and we did not want to miss it.

Dave Rennie.
Dave Rennie. Photograph: Simon King/ProSports/Rex/Shutterstock

Report reveals thousands of incidents in disability homes

Here are some numbers from the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission report, which finds Australians living in disability group homes have been involved in more than 7,000 reportable incidents in the past four years.

More than 1,700 of those incidents involved a serious injury to a participant, more than 1,200 involved neglect, while there were 960 cases of unlawful physical contact and 112 of unlawful sexual contact, AAP reports.

The figures are startling given fewer than 20,000 Australians live in disability group homes.

NDIS minister Bill Shorten said the government was supporting changes to regulation and monitoring of supported accommodation on ABC RN this morning. The Albanese government’s first budget included $167bn in NDIS funding across four years.

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Bill Shorten.
Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Bill Shorten. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Former top police officer dies in Adelaide cycling crash

Former Northern Territory commissioner and South Australian assistant commissioner Paul White has died following a cycling accident in Adelaide’s south-east on Sunday morning, AAP reports.

Police and ambulance crews were called to an intersection in Glen Osmond shortly before 10.30am following reports of the collision involving a vehicle. White, 72, died at the scene.

A 61-year-old man behind the wheel of the vehicle was on Sunday afternoon assisting investigators with their investigation into the circumstances leading up to the incident. His car was towed away for examination, police said.

White retired from the NT force in 2009, following almost eight years as top cop. He joined SA Police as a cadet in 1968 and rose through the ranks to the position of assistant commissioner before his departure.

Former Northern Territory police commisioner Paul White (left) was killed in a cycling accident.
Former Northern Territory police commisioner Paul White (left) was killed in a cycling accident. Photograph: Terry Trewin/AAP

Sydney commuters stranded on trains

More moody images coming from inside stuck trains and Sydney stations this morning.

Train delays in Sydney

Sydney Metro are warning of increased wait times for trains this morning.

The Metro is currently experiencing increased wait times this morning. Please listen to station announcements and message display boards for the latest information. We apologise for any inconvenience. pic.twitter.com/GRNjS5xcH6

— Sydney Metro (@SydneyMetro) January 15, 2023

Tweeting from inside a stuck train at Norwest, Rohan Pearce says the metro lost all power about an hour ago, and that Sydney Metro “doesn’t seem to answer their emergency help point button thing”.

We have now lost all power and are having a nice time sitting in the dark

— Rohan Pearce (@rohan_p) January 15, 2023

Brendan Richards seems to be tweeting from the same stuck train.

Roads flooded in Mackay, Queensland

Torrential rain has left cars partly submerged on flooded roads in Mackay, Queensland.

Brendan Richards seems to be tweeting from the same stuck train.

The NSW government’s changes to stamp duty come into effect today. The program allows new home-owners to choose an annual tax over stamp duty – and is anticipating rapid sign-up numbers.

Almost half of the 6,000 new owners expected to apply to have their stamp duty payments waived in favour of a land tax in the scheme’s first year will come within days of its introduction. Read the full story from Michael McGowan:

Australian Open CEO reflects on ‘very difficult journey’

Australian Open 2023 kicks off at Melbourne Park this morning.

“It’s been a very difficult journey,” Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley tells ABC News.

“In 2021, we were the fist global organisation to bring athletes from around the world, around 13 of them and their entourages, 14 days in lockdown. In 2022 we launched the event at the beginning of the surge of Omicron, which was a different set of conditions.

“It did, you know, cause us to completely deplete our cash reserves so we’re starting this year completely anew, fortunately with a balance that’s even, but again it has been extremely difficult.”

Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia.
Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia. Photograph: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Anthony Albanese also riffed on the Perrottet photo scandal over on Triple M.

Asked if he was in fancy dress, he replied: “I’m certainly not. I understand this can end badly.”

Albanese was asked for a Sydney itinerary for Melbourne-based host Mick Molloy. He nominated:

Sounds like a great weekend – all without leaving the inner west.

A pub in Balmain in Sydney’s inner west.
A pub in Balmain in Sydney’s inner west. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Law firms team up with Medibank customers over data breach

Josh Taylor

Josh Taylor

Three law firms are teaming up to take up a complaint by tens of thousands of customers who had their personal information compromised in the Medibank hack last year.

Maurice Blackburn, Bannister Law Class Actions and Centennial Lawyers have announced a joint cooperation agreement against Medibank and AHM over the data breach, and said they have signed up thousands of customers from the 9.7m affected by the breach.

Hackers posted the data of the 9.7m customers on the dark web late last year after Medibank refused to pay the ransom demands. Medibank’s position to not pay had the support of the federal government.

Maurice Blackburn had already lodged a formal complaint against Medibank with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, which can order compensation, but now the firms will work together on the complaint.

Bannister Law Class Actions’ Charles Bannister said:


We believe the data breach is a betrayal of Medibank Private’s customers and a breach of the Privacy Act. Medibank has a duty to keep this kind of information confidential.

Centennial Lawyers’ George Newhouse said:

The data breach exposes the lack of safeguards in place to prevent such personal and private information being released to wrongdoers and Medibank & AHM have failed policy holders.

There are multiple investigations into the Medibank hack, including one already underway from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, and an independent analysis commissioned by the health insurer.

Medibank signage during the annual general meeting in Melbourne in November.
Medibank signage during the annual general meeting in Melbourne in November. Photograph: Morgan Hancock/AAP

Report finds over 7,000 serious incidents in disability homes, including abuse

NDIS minister Bill Shorten tells ABC RN “the interface isn’t as effective for people living in supported accommodation as it should be” – meaning there is a lack of communication channels that would help reveal abuse or neglect.

This comes after NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission report finds over 7,000 serious incidents in disability homes over the last four years, with many including abuse.

“There are some Australians who live in accommodation with high level of support. But people are particularly vulnerable,” he says. “And that’s why this report is important to make sure that they’re not getting ignored by the systems and obligations.”

The interface isn’t as effective for people living in supported accommodation as it should be.

[If] the only people that a person with disabilities communicate with is the carer, then that creates a highly vulnerable relationship … We’ve got to do much better at educating individuals in the homes, that they’re right, and making sure that we check in on them.

Albanese says he has ‘nothing whatsoever’ like Perrottet’s Nazi uniform scandal in his past

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Albanese was also asked about the Dominic Perrottet 21st birthday Nazi uniform scandal.

He said:

I’m staying clear of that. People will make up their own mind about those issues. Obviously it isn’t the wisest thing. I think there’s an election in March – people will make their mind up about a whole range of issues, but primarily they’ll make their mind up about who’s best to lead the state on policy issues.

Asked if there were photos of himself as a young man that he hoped wouldn’t surface, Albanese joked he hoped there were “because I would’ve led a pretty boring life if there isn’t” but added “I assure you there is nothing like that – nothing whatsoever like that”.

He said:

I’m lucky, I’m a bit older than Dom. These days I think people with cameras around and photos of everything, I think there’s a few young people who will regret the invention of cameras on phones in future years.

Paul Karp

Paul Karp

Albanese says new year’s resolution is to tackle the cost of living

Anthony Albanese has spoken to 2Day FM.

After host Dave Hughes said he took up vaping on election night to celebrate Labor’s win, Albanese replied:

I’m not responsible! That’s a bad idea … Don’t smoke and don’t vape – there’s a bit of evidence you can get hooked on vaping as well.

On new year’s resolutions, Albanese said he was cautious of sharing because it might not come true, but his resolution is to tackle the cost of living. Albanese, who had a bit of a glow-up including weight loss before the election, also joked about the difficulty of keeping weight off as prime minister.

Albanese spoke about meeting King Charles III and going overtime because the pair were talking about cities policies. He said his other chums on the world stage included Jacinda Ardern and Joko Widodo. Asked about Joe Biden’s age, Albanese observed: “Well he’s doing the job and he had an outstanding result in the midterm elections.”

Prime minister Anthony Albanese.
Prime minister Anthony Albanese. Photograph: Scott Radford-Chisholm/AAP

‘Life-threatening’ flash flooding hits Queensland

Three women have been rescued in north Queensland after parts of the state were smashed with flash flooding. The women were found clinging to a tree in flood waters in Palm Grove, north of Mackay, on Sunday afternoon. The worst is yet to come, AAP reports.

A monsoon trough brings severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall to the north coast.

Locally intense rainfall which could lead to “dangerous and life-threatening” flash flooding will continue on Monday over parts of the Herbert and Lower Burdekin and Central Coast and Whitsundays districts, the Bureau of Meteorology warns.

Severe Weather Warning for HEAVY RAINFALL & poss FLASH FLOODING tonight/Mon Central Coast & Whitsundays, parts of Herbert & Lower Burdekin, Central Highlands & Coalfields dists.
Some risk of locally INTENSE RAINFALL with LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODING.https://t.co/c2QZ6ecFMQ pic.twitter.com/JZ63nGQ3eR

— Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland (@BOM_Qld) January 15, 2023

Six-hourly rainfall totals between 200 and 250mm with 24-hourly totals of up to 400mm are possible, particularly about the coast and ranges north of Mackay.

Widespread heavy rain has eased north of Ayr, but severe thunderstorms remain possible across the north-east tropics, including the Townsville area.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services urged residents to keep up to date with warnings and alerts and not to attempt to drive through flood waters.

With Cardinal George Pell’s death dominating last week’s news, wrap up with a listen to today’s Full Story episode, where Guardian Australia’s Jane Lee is in conversation with journalist David Marr on Pell’s life and legacy.

‘Everybody kind of figured’ George Pell behind a memo condemning Pope Francis

Robert Mickens, editor in chief of La Croix international daily Catholic publication, tells ABC RN that “everyone kind of figured” Cardinal George Pell was behind an anonymous memo condemning the papacy of Pope Francis.

“Everyone kind of figured it might be Cardinal Pell because the criticism was so fierce,” he says. “I think no one has called that into question. Nobody from Pell’s inner circle has come out and said that disputed that.”

“Here in Rome, I think that nobody is really that shocked … He was one of the first who soured on Pope Francis.”

The memo criticises the papacy of Pope Francis as a “disaster” and “catastrophe”.

“[Pell] was an extremely controversial character … But he did have his supporters … and many traditionalist Catholics saw him as a hero.”

Pope Francis attends the funeral of Cardinal George Pell in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 14 January.
Pope Francis attends the funeral of Cardinal George Pell in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 14 January. Photograph: Maria Grazia Picciarella/Rex/Shutterstock

Good morning

Welcome back to another week of the Guardian Australia live blog.

We wake up to a spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade saying the department is aware of reports an Australian was on board the Yeti Airlines flight which crashed in Nepal on Sunday 15 January. The plane had 72 people on board, and crashed into a deep gorge, killing at least 68. The spokesperson says “the Australian embassy is urgently seeking to confirm the welfare of the Australian”.

Federal Labor says it has overseen the best jobs growth of any new government in 50 years. 234,000 more people were employed in November than when Labor was elected in May. That 1.7% increase beat all other G7 countries over the same period, with the US coming second. Meanwhile, Australian CEOs are cautiously optimistic, with 90% of bosses still fearing staffing shortages this year.

And in the summer holiday heat, queues at some electric vehicle charging stations in the week after Christmas saw drivers forced to wait up to 90 minutes to get back on the road. Though frustrating, the queues might ultimately benefit the industry, providing the first real-world data into charging hotspots and the upgrades needed to strengthen Australia’s electric transport future.

I’m Rafqa Touma, taking the blog through the day. If you spot something you don’t want us to miss, you can Tweet it my way @At_Raf_

Let’s get started with the day’s rolling news coverage.

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