Day: April 21, 2018

Future star to showcase musical skills

Stephen O’HernTALENTED guitarist Stephen O’Hern will take to the Sydney stage alongside nine other young musicians in a concert to mark their graduation from the Talent Development Project (TDP).
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A former Armidale High School student, Mr O’Hern joined the TDP last year on the strength of his stellar performance at the 2010 Schools Spectacular.

Created by Schools Spectacular stalwart Mary Lopez AM, the Talent Development Project prepares public school students for careers in the music industry, with graduates including Human Nature, Angus & Julia Stone and The McClymonts.

Mr O’Hern, who began playing at the age of five, studied under both Stephen Tafra and Steven Thornycroft for 14 years, and praised them for setting him on this path.

Originally a classical guitarist, the 21-year-old now plays a wide variety of music styles including Traditional Irish, Scottish Celtic, folk, bluegrass, classical and new age.

The young bard said music is difficult to get into but he is making inroads.

“It’s a really difficult area to crack but luckily I’ve made a few friends with really good contacts and who are really supportive,” he said.

Mr O’Hern feels confident that his future lies in music and in Sydney.

After the concert it will be business as usual for the up and comer.

“Basically just keep working, keep gigging, keep playing… that’s the goal, to keep doing what I’m doing”.

The Talent Development Project Graduation Concert, hosted by John Foreman, will be held at Sydney’s Convention and Exhibition Centre on August 6.

– Lucas Forbes

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Find your future in farming

Felicity McLeodTHE current shortage of agricultural graduates nationwide has spurred one enthusiastic group of students into action.
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The University of New England Rural Science Undergraduate Society (RSUS) and UNE Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) will host the ‘Farming Futures Careers Fair 2012’ on August 3 in Lazenby Hall at the UNE campus, Armidale, from 10am – 3pm.

Following on from the success of the inaugural Farming Futures industry dinner in 2011, agricultural and agribusiness companies from across the country will set up stands at this year’s event to promote their businesses and advertise graduate job opportunities and undergraduate vacation work as well as career paths in agriculture.

The GRDC Farming Futures Industry Dinner will be held in the evening at the Armidale Ex-Services Club from 6pm, featuring guest speakers who have pursued careers in agriculture.

Former national president of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology, ag graduate and former judge on the ABC television show ‘The New Inventors’ Chris Russell will MC the event and will be joined by Sharon O’Keeffe, Grower Services North manager for GRDC, and Scott Hansen, managing director of MLA, in speaking at the dinner.

Last year, the highly successful event was attended by university students and staff, agricultural graduates, industry representatives and members of the general public.

Vice Chairman of the Farming Futures 2012 committee and Bachelor of Animal Science student, Felicity McLeod from Coombah Station in far western NSW, said the goal of the event is to “promote career paths in the agricultural sector, helping address the skills shortage in the sector”.

“We are hoping to inspire students to continue their agricultural studies and pursue a career in the agriculturalindustry,”

she said.

“The event is also a great way to facilitate networking opportunities for individuals and companies with an interest in agriculture and to provide opportunities for agricultural and agribusiness companies to promote their graduate programs.”

Prior to commencing formal study, Felicity worked on large sheep and cattle stations across the country but says she made the commitment to study to learn more about what she loves doing, with a particular focus on meat production and management and vertebrate pest control.

“Sitting down to study is difficult after spending many years working in the ag sector, but it’s rewarded with the knowledge and networks gained through studying and connecting with the many career opportunities available in agriculture today,” she said.

For further information about the Farming Futures Careers Fair please contact [email protected] or visit the website: www.une.edu.au/farm ingfutures/

– Liz Cotton

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Police taskforce for Father F

A POLICE taskforce will investigate allegations of sexual abuse of young boys by the former priest known as ‘Father F’.
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The man, who lives in Armidale, was the subject of a Four Corners investigation earlier this month that claimed he abused altar boys in the Armidale and Parramatta dioceses during the 1980s.

A police spokewoman confirmed on Wednesday that Strike Force Glenroe had been established to investigate the claims.

“The NSW Police Force can confirm Strike Force Glenroe has been formed to review all relevant material,” she said.

“However, police are unable to comment further on this matter at this time.”

The announcement comes after Northern Tablelands MP Richard Torbay sent a letter to Premier Barry O’Farrell urging him to intervene.

Mr O’Farrell told reporters on Wednesday he had forwarded Mr Torbay’s letter to acting Police Commissioner Catherine Burns.

“Yesterday I was in a position to advise Mr Torbay that police have established a taskforce that is investigating,” he said.

Mr Torbay welcomed the response from Mr O’Farrell and the police.

“I am confident from my correspondence with the acting Commissioner and Premier that they are taking this matter very seriously, which I welcome,” he said.

Police previously questioned Father F about sexual abuse allegations in 2003, but decided not to proceed with charges at that time.

According to court transcripts, after alleged abuse victim Daniel Powell attempted to blackmail Father F, the priest sought help from a senior sergeant based in Sydney’s west whom he described as a “good mate”.

Police established an operation to arrest and charge Mr Powell with demanding money by menaces, but he was found not guilty after Father F admitted under cross examination that senior church officials had been told in 1992 that he had sexually abused children.

It was announced earlier this week that former Federal Court judge Antony Whitlam had been appointed by Bishop of Armidale Michael Kennedy and Bishop of Parramatta Anthony Fisher to lead an independent inquiry into the church’s handling of allegations against Father F.

An Armidale teacher who contributed to the Four Corners program described the announcement of the police investigation as ‘encouraging’.

“The police task force demonstrates the gravity of the case and serious commitment to the issue,” said the woman, who did not wish to be named.

She commended Mr O’Farrell and Mr Torbay on their approach to the issue.

“It is significant that two of the state’s most powerful politicians – both of whom are Catholic – are demanding full disclosure and an investigation,” she said. “This indicates that Catholics who are committed to their faith are determined to punish the criminal element which has tainted their religion for far too long.”

The woman also welcomed the appointment of Mr Whitlam to lead the inquiry.

“The appointment of Antony Whitlam QC to conduct the inquiry seems an intelligent decision by Bishop Kennedy,” she said. “He possesses excellent credentials and impartiality should be assured.”

Police have urged any victims of sexual assault to report the crime to police.

“We would certainly like to take seriously any allegation provided to us and strongly urge any person who has been a victim of sexual assault to report it by attending their nearest police station,” she said. “Every report is fully investigated and the NSW Police Force has firm policies and systems in place to manage victims of sexual assault who do make a report.”

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Knights prepare to slay Inverell

DEMON Knights are looking to get back to winning form as they prepare to take on Joeys FC tomorrow at Rologas.
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The Knights suffered in the wet and slippery conditions against Glen Innes last weekend but coach Alan Waddle said games in those conditions are always difficult.

“Glen Innes were really fired up last weekend and in those conditions that can really level the playing field,” he said.

“If you are not careful it is very easy to lose games like that and we did.”

Before last weekend’s loss Demon Knights had won five games in a row and Waddle said his side is looking to get back into the winner’s circle.

“We were having a good run and unfortunately it came to a halt, but that has just fired us up for this weekend against Joeys,” he said.

“We have been training as normal but we are now really focused on getting in the right frame of mind for this weekend’s match.”

The Knights are sitting in second position in the northern conference as the finals edge closer, but Waddle said he is not thinking too far ahead.

“We are just going to approach it week on week,” Waddle said.

“You have to focus on each match , you have to match the effort and energy of the side you are playing and not focus on where either team is sitting on the ladder.”

In other Premier League games, South Armidale will face Easts at Armidale Sportsground while North Armidale will tackle Guyra Unite at Phil Weaton Oval

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Bullen strikes gold

ARMIDALE’S Mitch Bullen has claimed gold and silver medals in two German Grands Prix track cycling events in his first European racing season.
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As part of Cycling Australia’s sprint development academy, Bullen lined up in the German Sprint Grand Prix two weeks ago where he claimed silver in the Kieren event.

But last weekend, before returning to Armidale, Bullen took to the track in the German Cottbus Sprint Cup where he rode to victory in the sprint event.

Both events attracted quality fields, as many national teams took to the track in their final preparations for the Olympic Games.

The 22-year-old said many of the competitors at the events were riders he respects.

“It was actually quit humbling just to be there amongst athletes who are going to the Olympics next week,” he said.

It is currently the Australian cycling off-season and Bullen had no expectations going into his first competition in Europe, which saw him complete over 24 races in the two events.

“I was hoping to do well, but I wasn’t expecting to come back with a gold and silver medal,” Bullen said.

“So I am absolutely wrapped.”

Bullen returned to Armidale on Wednesday and will now set his sights on the Australian season, which kicks off in September in Adelaide.

“The focus is now on the Australian series of racing and I will be looking to do well at the World Championship selection races,” he said.

“Depending on how the Australian season unfolds, I will look to head back over to Europe for a longer period and look at racing more races than I did this year.”

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Taking out the earphones and going live

EARLIER this week, the line-up for the Big Day Out music festival was announced for 2013.
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The email announcement came through on my phone at 4.30am but this did not prevent me from sitting bolt upright and beginning to send text messages of excitement to anyone who would share in my hysteria over the bands that will hit Australian soil.

Once I calmed down, I lamented the fact the last time my favourite band was in the country I had just started university and lived off free sausage sandwiches at uni to pay for the ticket.

I now have the anxious wait to ensure I secure a ticket, but it seems that many of my friends scattered around the country will be doing the exact same thing.

But what is it? What is the obsession with live music that our generation seems to have developed?

While I sit and wait patiently for January 2013 to roll around, I will happily remain here in Armidale, which may be a perfect location to satisfy a self-confessed gig tragic.

Early next month will see some great bands heading to Armidale.

Sydney band Bluejuice will play at UNE’s The Stro and towards the end of the month, Children Collide will also perform.

It seems strange that we can consume the soundtracks to our lives at the touch of a button from the comforts of cars and lounge rooms.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I can walk around all day with my headphones attached to provide an ever-flowing stream of tunes.

But it seems the tech-savvy, fickle kids of 2012 have taken a step back to they way things used to be.

You only have to look at the range of live music in Armidale, from Musica Viva to a Day on the Green, held earlier this year, and the line-up of bands that will flock here in August to see that.

The generations before us experienced the evolving stage of live music from Woodstock to Australian pub bands and, despite our technologically-driven world we live in, we continue to crave the all-consuming experience of live music no matter the venue.

So perhaps in the spirit of the resurgence of live music, I will take out my earphones and wait patiently for Big Day Out to the sounds of Armidale, and the bands that flock to us.

Which live bands would you like to see come to Armidale?

Let me know at [email protected]南京夜网 or via twitter @siobhanann.

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Retired judge Whitlam heads inquiry into church handling of ‘Father F’

THE Catholic Church has appointed a retired Federal Court judge to head an inquiry into its handling of a NSW priest who admitted sexually abusing boys as young as 10.
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Antony Whitlam, QC, a former federal politician and the son of the former prime minister Gough Whitlam, was appointed to lead the independent inquiry jointly commissioned by the Bishop of Armidale, Michael Kennedy, and the Bishop of Parramatta, Anthony Fisher.

A statement from the two clergymen did not outline the terms of reference for the inquiry other than to say that it would look at ”the processes related to the management of ‘Father F”’, who has been the subject of media reports in relation to allegations of abuse of children.

”Further details of the inquiry process will be developed in consultation with Mr Whitlam, QC,” the statement said.

Father F, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was removed from public ministry after a meeting with three clergy in 1992, following continued allegations of abuse after he was moved from the Armidale diocese to Parramatta.

A letter to the then bishop of Armidale, Kevin Manning, written eight days later by one of the priests – the Vicar-General of the Armidale diocese, Wayne Peters – said Father F had ”wished to make certain admissions” at the meeting. These included that he had ”sexually interfered with” five boys aged about 10 or 11 between 1982 and 1984 while he was an assistant priest at Moree.

Father F told a court in 2004 he had admitted sexually molesting boys to the three priests, who have since given conflicting accounts of what was revealed in the meeting. Father F, defrocked in 2005, lives in Armidale.

The bishops’ statement said the inquiry did not intend to supplant or replace any other investigation, including that of police.

”Bishops Kennedy and Fisher extend their deepest sympathies to victims of child abuse and their families, and reassure the community of their commitment to see justice achieved,” it said.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, said he would ensure the archdiocese and two of its priests who were at the 1992 meeting – the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference general-secretary, Father Brian Lucas, and its chancellor, Monsignor John Usher – would fully co-operate with the inquiry.

”The archdiocese of Sydney co-operates fully with police investigations and I confirm that the archdiocese will co-operate with any police investigation of the ex-priest F,” he said.

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Amazon adventure

SHARON Blenman is fully aware of the challenges ahead of her as she prepares to kayak down the Amazon River next year for charity.
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But the determined Armidilian says nothing will get in the way of her lifelong dream of helping children.

“When I put my mind to something I make sure I do it because of my pride. Right now nothing’s fazing me,” she says.

The 30-year old plans to kayak about 2700kms over a 10-week period to raise funds for World Vision.

Departing in early May, she will start the journey at Manaus in Brazil and paddle about 50kms a day along the river before reaching her final destination, Belem.

Sharon admits the physical and mental demands will be difficult to overcome, but she remains confident of completing the gruelling task.

“I’m taking it very seriously.

“When I get over there I don’t want to collapse in the first week because I haven’t been training, so that’s why I’m doing it now.

“Every day I go to Anytime Fitness, where I’m doing weights, cardio, the treadmill. My personal trainer makes me work very hard – she’s trying to get my upper body and my back stronger because they are the parts that are going to be working out the most.

“A couple of months before I go I’m also going to look into maybe a sports psychiatrist to train my mind so I don’t want to quit.”

The fundraising effort has been more than two years in the

making, with Sharon first deciding to undertake the initiative in May 2010.

Having been inspired to do “something big” while living in England, she approached Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay in early January and was encouraged to go ahead with her plans.

“The reason I got this idea was because I was living in England and there was a young woman who did sports relief over there. She did kayaking and she just inspired me to do something wonderful,” she says.

“I’ve always wanted to do something big and everyone knows about the Amazon, which I think is the most beautiful river in the world.”

Sharon has set a target of $1 million for the effort and hopes all funds raised will improve the living conditions for children in Sudan, East Africa.

“I am very passionate about children, so if I can help kids in any way, that makes me feel good,” she said.“I’m hoping that most of the money will go towards education, shelter, food and water. What amazes me is that here in the lucky countries, we can actually buy water in bottles, while these poor people have to drink from a puddle that’s so dirty they can actually die from it.”

Though she accepts it will be tough to reach her target, the aspiring child protection worker says it is definitely not unrealistic.

“People might think it is a very high amount but it’s over 10 weeks and every bit counts, so I do hope I can get to that $1 million goal,” Sharon says.

“I think it is realistic, that’s why I’m organising it now so people can hear my story. But even if it only ends up being $100,000, at least I’ve tried.”

Despite her optimism, Independent MP Richard Torbay told The Express it would take a “herculean effort” to make the initiative a success.

“She’s been to see me a couple of times to seek advice,” he said.

“I was really pleased with her energy and level of commitment, which is very important given the task in front of her. I would just like to wish her well.”

Sharon is currently sponsored by Anytime Fitness Armidale but she needs more sponsors on board to assist with the cost of airfares, accomodation and food for herself and a five-person support team.

She has already assigned two people as her camera crew, but also requires a doctor and two other members to complete the team.

Any potential sponsors or people interested in contacting Sharon can do so by emailing

[email protected]南京夜网

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Running for a Claus in Armidale

THIS Saturday, Armidale’s runners and walkers will take to the Campus City Canter route for Variety’s 5km Santa Fun Run.
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All funds raised from Saturday’s event will be donated to Variety, a not-for-profit organisation, who help enrich the lives of Australian children who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs by giving them the chance to live, laugh and learn.

Entry into the event is $20 per person or $40 for a family and includes an official Santa suit to wear throughout the event.

The event is being supported SportUNE and in conjunction with the fun run and are offering all fun run particpants free entry into the New England Rugby game at Bellevue Oval where St Albert’s College will face the UNE Barbarians on Saturday afternoon.

Peter Harvey, head of corporate partnerships and community engagement at Variety said the event is a fun way for our community to raise funds.

“The emphasis is more on the fun than the run and we would love to see three or four hundred Santas here on the day,” he said.

“It really is quite a sight to see a mass of red suits, the kids just love it.”

The Armidale Santa Fun Run is held as part of the national fundraiser where runners and walkers take to the roads all around the country in support of Variety.

The 5km event will commence at 11am from Civic Park.

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City set sights on finals

CITY men’s hockey team have cemented their place on top of Hockey New England’s ladder after defeating UNE- Ex-Services 8-3 on Sunday.
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UNE-Ex-Services coach Robin Dobos said his side suffered from the absence of many A-grade players being away fulfilling university requirements.

“Given that we had players backing up from lower grades, we did reasonably well against City and the team as whole really stepped up to the challenge ,” he said.

“We were able to score a number of goals and these are positive signs for our side with so many players absent.”

City’s acting captain Sam Uphill said his side did well to convert opportunities into goals.

“Our forwards were really able to capitalise on the opportunities that we created,” he said.

Those opportunities saw Paul Woodford score four of City’s eight goals.

City’s strengths in the forwards helped them convincingly defeat UNE-Ex-Services and the backline held strong in defence.

“We had a really young backline in Sunday’s games,” Uphill said.

“We had two 13-year-olds who did really well to hold UNE- Ex-Services off in their circle.”

City are currently sitting at the top of the ladder and Sunday’s win has given them added confidence going into this weekend’s game against Guyra.

“Guyra are sitting just behind us on the ladder, but they also lost to Wolfpack last weekend,” Uphill said.

“This gives us a lot of positive signs heading into Sunday’s game.”

City may be sitting comfortably in the Hockey New England competition, but Uphill said that is where his team needs to stay.

“We need to make sure we keep winning games so that we finish on top of the ladder and secure the week off before the finals,” he said.

“This will give the team a chance to really freshen up, and this needs to be our focus.”

UNE-Ex-Services will again field a team combining players from lower grades as they turn their attention to this weekend’s game against Wolfpack.

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