This time, Nick Kyrgios must be willing to confront his demons

“There is no excuse”: Kyrgios’ apology in full

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While Andy Murray is not convinced that fines will help or change Nick Kyrgios, the world No.2 is yet to comment on the suspension also handed to the tormented young Australian. Yet just as Murray’s call in Shanghai for more open discussions around the mental health issues facing the game’s young players were considered and insightful, the unusual treatment element of the ATP’s stick-and-carrot sanction is making its own statement.

Kyrgios has apparently agreed to submit to the “plan of care under the direction of a sports psychologist” or an approved equivalent, that will reduce his ban from eight playing weeks to three. But the time is not the issue here, with the off-season imminent and any slim chance of qualifying for the World Tour Finals now over. A year that started in the shadow of a suspended ban has finished in the embarrassing glare of a real one.

The ATP had to act, and Kyrgios is fortunate that the penalty was not even more drastic, for it was obvious just a few minutes into that disturbing performance against Mischa Zverev in Shanghai that the world No14 was ripe for a meltdown. Despite the muttering and head-shaking having started at 0-1, there is nevertheless no satisfaction in having said to media colleagues at that moment that this one was not going to end well.

But just how badly it turned out to be could not have been guessed at. Not the blatant lack of a competitive effort, the bizarre interactions with the chair umpire, the verbal stoush with the spectator who told him to respect the game, or the nose-thumbing post-match press conference that tour officials also considered in making their judgment.

From the outside, it seems there is plenty about tennis that Kyrgios is struggling to handle. The night before his first match in Shanghai, having arrived from a fine week and the biggest title of his career in Tokyo, he did a round-table interview with a small group of journalists. Although his answers were OK, apart from an obvious – but also understandable – impatience when asked about his past declarations about not loving tennis, it was the lack of eye contact that was most disconcerting, his gaze mostly fixed on the floor.

Even before leaving Japan, the theme of one of his victory tweets was that #thegrindcontinues. During his first-round win in China, he attributed his cool air of control to not just fatigue but boredom. Admittedly, how much store to place in comments like these is debatable, as the Canberran’s bravado can be as transparent as his insecurities.

Whether a sports pyschologist is what Kyrgios requires is impossible to say, because the youngest member of the elite top 15 has consulted experts before and yet, well, here we are. The hope this time is that he sees a genuine need and reason to be there; as wise owl Murray commented on Thursday, all players have the option of seeking suitable assistance, but leading young brumbies to water is no guarantee they will drink.

“It’s just about deciding when the time is right that ‘I really need this at my stage of my career’. It comes to people at different times,” said the Wimbledon and Olympic champion. “The worst thing is going to see someone when you don’t want to. You need to be … ready to open up to someone. If you’re not and you get pushed into that situation, you will have a bad experience, so it’s when the time is right, and you take it from there.”

Kyrgios continues to blame mental and physical exhaustion for what he accepts – outwardly at least – was inexcusable, but clearly there is more to these regrettable repeat offences than fatigue. Public sentiment, at least some of it, also seems to be shifting from the standard “Kyrgios, what a dickhead” chorus to a realisation that there is something wrong that the 21-year-old needs some help to try to get right.

If part of that involves a break that extends well beyond the suspension rightly deemed necessary by the ATP, then Kyrgios should take it and return only when he is ready. Given that the pressures and stresses at this level of elite sport can be challenging even for the most emotionally robust to manage, Kyrgios needs to find a better way. For his own sake.

Family found dead in Davidson in Sydney’s north possibly gassed

Tragedy: Maria Claudia Lutz and her two children, Elisa and Martin, were found dead along with their father Fernando Manrique at their family home in Sydney’s north on Monday. Photo: Supplied Staff at the children’s school raised the alarm when the mother did not turn up for canteen duty and the children were absent from class. Photo: Wolter Peeters

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Martin, 10, and Elisa, 11 were found dead in the house with their parents. Photo: Supplied

The family’s dog was also found dead. Photo: Supplied

A family of four who were found dead in their Sydney home may have died from “an airborne gas” filtered through the ceiling in a deliberate plan of murder-suicide.

Police have revealed that Maria Claudia Lutz, 43, Fernando Manrique, 44, and their two children, Elisa, 11, and Martin, 10 – who both had autism – may have died after gas was filtered through their Davidson home.

Fairfax Media understands that an elaborate system found at the property suggested the gas had been deliberately disseminated through the ceiling.

“Whilst the cause of death will be a matter for the Coroner to determine, police are looking at the possibility the family members died from the introduction of an airborne gas,” police said in a statement.

“It is early days in the investigation and investigators will need to wait for toxicology results and results of the post-mortems to determine cause of death.”

When police entered the closed-up property at about 11.30am on Monday, they found the four bodies. The family dog was also deceased.

The family members showed no signs of visible injury, leading police to investigate whether they were poisoned.

It is understood police are working on the gassing theory after finding multiple gas bottles around the home late on Monday.

Neighbours have reported seeing Mr Manrique working on a gazebo in the front yard on Saturday. The alarm was not raised about the family until Monday morning by concerned staff at the children’s school, St Lucy’s Catholic primary school in Wahroonga, after Mrs Lutz didn’t turn up to canteen duty.

Two police officers forced their way into the home and found the family dead inside.

The bodies will undergo autopsies in an attempt to determine exactly how the family died.

Relatives in Colombia were told of the devastating news hours after the tragic discovery, with Mrs Lutz’s sister, Ana Lutz, remembering her as a warrior.

“No one can say anything different than you are a warrior!” she wrote on Facebook.

“Always fighting for all and for all! My cute doll.. One more angel in heaven, an angel given to their children, life!!

“Loveee uuuuu fighting for everyone tirelessly.

“Always in my life, in my heart!! I love you.” Neighbours pay tribute

Those who knew Ms Lutz described her as a devoted and happy mother who juggled the high, complex needs of her children with daily life.

She was an active member of St Lucy’s, where her children were in years five and four.

A crime scene remained set up at the family home on Sir Thomas Mitchell Drive on Tuesday as locals laid flowers on the grass outside.

“They were family people,” resident Moiran Mayatt said.

“The mum and dad were always in the garden and looking after the kids.”

Her partner, Shaun Mayatta often saw Martin and Elisa playing on the trampoline in the back yard and said a lot of work had been done to the house to make it safe for the kids.

“The dad put gates up so the kids couldn’t get out and put up a cabana and a trampoline and things for the kids there.”

A prayer service will be held at St Lucy’s school on Tuesday as parents and teachers of the tight-knit community grapple with the news.

“This is an exceptional family who have been at the school here for six years,” Acting principal Warren Hopley said on Monday.

“Two beautiful children and their mum was very active member of the school.

“When all the children leave at the end of the day she would be out there at the exit waiting for her kids and knew the names of every child in the school.

“Just an exceptional woman.”

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Azealia Banks: ‘Maybe it’s time to stop being a crazy girl’

Azealia Banks wants to stop “being a crazy girl”. Photo: Chelsea LaurenNotorious hot head Azealia Banks has been doing some soul-searching.

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The American rapper, 25, who was most recently evicted from Russell Crowe’s dinner party after an argument, told the UK’s Evening Standard that she wants to stop “being a crazy girl”.

The interview, which is believed to have taken place before the clash with the Australian Oscar winner at the Beverly Hills hotel on Saturday, reflected on her unruly behaviour through the years, including her barring from Twitter after a racist rant against former One Direction star Zayn Malik.

“My mother has never reprimanded me but she reprimanded me after the thing with Zayn happened. She was like, ‘Azealia, you hurt a lot of people’. I was like, ‘f—,'” she said as she started to cry.

Banks said the public spat with Malik, who she accused of stealing her ideas, made her self-reflect on two conflicting thoughts she has about being “real and being professional”.

“I realised you’re not keeping it real by being a crazy girl. You don’t lose anything by keeping your mouth shut. So maybe it’s time to stop being a crazy girl,” she said.

On her journey of self-discovery, she has also denounced her support for presidential candidate Donald Trump, after controversially backing him in February on her now defunct Twitter account: “I think Donald trump is evil like America is evil and in order for America to keep up with itself it needs him.”

She said it’s not because of his “grab them by the pussy” comment – because she has “said some f—-d-up shit like that too” – but because she believes Hillary Clinton is worse: “Everything [Trump] says out loud is all the things she says behind her back. You don’t think Hillary Clinton is racist? She just wants to be in that white feminist book with Eleanor Roosevelt.”

Crowe is the second Australian Banks has taken aim at. The singer, best known for her 2011 song 212, has a long-running feud with rapper Iggy Azalea, who she has accused of cultural appropriation. In March, after Azalea spoke about her struggles with depression, Banks took to Instagram to encourage her to suicide.

She has also fallen out with Sarah Palin (who she said should be gang raped), Eminem, Rita Ora and Lily Allen, and used homophobic slurs against showbiz blogger Perez Hilton.

Her headline appearance at British Rinse festival in July was cancelled after she said: “UK rap is just a disgrace to rap culture in general.”

Meanwhile, TMZ reported that Crowe was forced to bear hug Banks to keep her arms by her sides and evict her from his suite after she allegedly threatened to throw a glass after yelling at a woman and Crowe: “You would love it if I broke my glass, stabbed you guys in the throat, and blood would squirt everywhere like some real Tarantino shit.”

Crowe has since retweeted the TMZ report.

TMZ has also reported that Banks has since gone to the Beverly Hills police department to file a complaint.

Banks’ representative Raymani International tweeted the following: A statement has been issued regarding my client Azealia Banks, “Azealia is tremendously distraught and disheartened. She is shell shocked…— Raýmani (@Raymani) October 17, 2016and will speak out on the incident once she has had time to process the brutality and abuse she was unjustly subjected to.”— Raýmani (@Raymani) October 17, 2016

The incident on Saturday night (Sunday AEST) was supposedly sparked when the so-far unidentified woman told Banks to pipe down after the fiery musician mocked Crowe’s music choice and called his guests “boring white men”.

She was not formally invited but came as a guest of musician RZA, a friend of Crowe’s.

Japan’s whale hunt in spotlight but Australia’s legal threat stalls

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will lead an Australian delegation to the International Whaling Commission summit in Slovenia. Photo: Philip Gostelow Japanese whalers offloading a minke whale onto the Japanese whaling factory ship the Nisshin Maru in the Southern Ocean in February 2013. Photo: Glenn Lockitch/Sea Shepherd

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Australia is about to launch a fresh diplomatic drive to expose Japan’s claim to kill whales in the name of science, but a threat of further international legal action appears to be on hold for now.

The 88 countries of the International Whaling Commission will meet in Slovenia next week in the organisation’s first summit since Japan controversially restarted its Antarctic whale hunt.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg will lead Australia’s delegation and argue for countries to adopt a new rule for stronger and more transparent scrutiny of Japan’s scientific whaling claims.

“The commission must be more engaged on this important and divisive issue and form its own conclusions”, Mr Frydenberg told Fairfax Media.

But Japan remains defiant, killing 333 minke whales last summer, despite a 2014 international court ruling, in a case brought by Australia, that declared the whale hunt to be illegal.

Japan last year partially withdrew from the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice at The Hague to prevent any further challenge on whaling, and issued new guidelines that Tokyo claims justify killing more than 4000 whales in the next decade.

Conservation groups are urging the Turnbull government to send a patrol vessel to the Southern Ocean in the coming months to monitor Japan’s whaling fleet.

Sea Shepherd activists also look set for another high-seas confrontation over whaling this summer, after last year being unable to track the Japanese fleet.

The protest group has a new, $12 million custom-designed ship donated by the Dutch lottery charity that Sea Shepherd claims will be able to outrun Japan’s harpoon ships – although is still looking to raise $1 million for fuel and costs of operating in the rough waters of the Southern Ocean.

“Sea Shepherd has only limited funds and resources and we would much rather that the Australian government send a vessel to oppose Japan’s whaling and we not even need to go south,” said Jeff Hansen from Sea Shepherd.

The Coalition had pledged when in opposition to send a patrol ship to the Southern Ocean, but in government decided not to.

There are fears any official observers would be dragged into clashes between the whalers and Sea Shepherd.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has also previously warned Australia could force Japan back to court over whaling, but the prospect of legal action has stalled without an obvious venue.

Australia is cautious about any legal action that could inadvertently disrupt the Antarctic Treaty System, which prohibits countries asserting additional territorial claims.

Attention has instead swung to the whaling commission, now in its 70th year, and an attempt to bolster a global moratorium on whaling, which dates to the 1980s.

Japan exploits a provision of the commission’s treaty that allows “scientific whaling”, and the Institute of Cetacean Research in Japan also hosts a website to promote whale meat recipes.

Josh Coates, from the Australian Marine Conservation Society, called for countries to tighten the rules to stop Japan bypassing the global ban.

“So-called ‘scientific’ whaling is nothing more than commercial whaling in disguise,” Mr Coates said.

“If the IWC fails to halt Southern Ocean whaling, Australians expect our government to take action outside the IWC to stop it once and for all,” he said.

Australia will sponsor two resolutions at the summit in Slovenia – the first a joint effort with New Zealand to force a public debate on the merits of scientific whaling, rather than deferring discussion to the mostly closed-door meetings of its “scientific committee”.

The push is believed to have encountered some resistance from South American nations, concerned it may inadvertently give a platform for Japan to explain it actions.

But the whaling commission has been notoriously opaque in its dealings, with several land-locked countries in the past serving as members with Japanese support.

Australia, along with the United States and New Zealand, will also seek an expert review of the governance of the commission in an attempt to improve transparency.

“We need to ensure the commission keeps pace with the times. Among other things, the review will consider how the commission’s work priorities are set, and how its funding is allocated,” Mr Frydenberg said.

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Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten pressure Malcolm Turnbull over gun laws

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Former Defence Minister Kevin Andrews during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 17 October 2016. fedpol Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Opposition Leader Bill Shorten moves to suspend standing orders in the House of Representatives. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

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Former prime minister Tony Abbott in Parliament on Tuesday during the debate on gun laws. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on his feet in Parliament after Mr Shorten moved to suspend standing orders. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

A Turkish shotgun called the ADLER A110

Tony Abbott has publicly criticised Malcolm Turnbull’s failure to rule out trading away elements of Australia’s gun laws in exchange for crossbench support for its key industrial relations legislation.

Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm said on Tuesday the government had reneged on a deal to end the ban on importing the controversial Adler lever-action shotgun into Australia.

Senator Leyonhjelm warned he wouldn’t vote to reinstate the government’s construction industry watchdog unless Mr Turnbull agreed to allow the gun to be imported into Australia.

Labor moved to suspend standing orders in the House of Representatives, emboldened by comments from Mr Abbott over the Australian Building and Construction Commission legislation.

“Disturbing to see reports of horse-trading on gun laws. ABCC should be supported on its merits,” Mr Abbott wrote.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused the Liberal Party of entertaining “grubby deals” on gun laws and said reforms championed by former Liberal prime minister John Howard in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre shouldn’t be watered down.

The Abbott government had previously agreed to allow the importation of the gun later in 2016, in exchange for Senator Leyonhjelm’s support on migration issues.

A deal to introduce a sunset clause came as a review of technical elements of the National Firearms Agreement was under way.

But a temporary ban on the gun was extended before expiring in July.

In August 2015, Senator Leyonhjelm bragged to the Senate about blackmailing the government into adding the 12-month sunset clause to the Adler ban, claiming bureaucrats advising Justice Minister Michael Keenan were incompetent and too closely aligned to an anti-guns agenda.

The man behind plans to import the Turkish-made gun is Robert Nioa, the son-in-law of Queensland independent MP Bob Katter.

The Adler uses a lever action mechanism to load cartridges.

On Tuesday, Mr Shorten said the Coalition would sell out on gun laws because it was “so obsessed about destroying unions”.

“My message is to the people of Australia: tell the Prime Minister you do not want the gun laws changed,” he said.

“We have a government where the Prime Minister is so wounded, so weak, that he will do any deal to try and harm and destroy the representatives of working people.

“This is not the party of John Howard anymore. They claim the mantle, they’re not fit to clean his shoes on this issue.” Disturbing to see reports of horse-trading on gun laws. ABCC should be supported on its merits.— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) October 18, 2016

Mr Turnbull said the government was working through the Council of Australian Governments process on gun laws, but the ban would remain in place.

“We stand by the fire arms agreement. We want to see it stronger,” Mr Turnbull told Parliament.

“We are proud of the achievements of John Howard and the actions of the opposition in trying to use this as a distraction is a disgrace.”

“That ban will remain in place.”

Earlier he refused to rule out allowing the gun to be imported and said he would be “working hard” to ensure that Senator Leyonhjelm’s concerns or disappointment were addressed.

Senator Leyonhjelm said he would continue to discuss the ABCC legislation with the government but hadn’t decided how he would vote.

“I’m not a dummy spitter … but it will be more awkward,” he said.

“I have been dudded on a deal.

“Irrespective of the merits of the deal, I’ve been dudded on it, they did a deal with me and then they welshed on it. They have known about it…. I have been unhappy about it, and only now when it comes to the crunch point on the ABCC that they suddenly go, ‘oh, crap’, we have a problem.”

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$40 million Powerball win came after syndicate organiser changed process: court

Brendon King is in court fighting for a share of the $40 million jackpot. Photo: Ben Rushton

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$40 million Powerball winning syndicate was a one-off, court told

Had the lotto ticket not scooped the $40 million jackpot, Brendan King would have been expected to cough up the funds to pay for his entry into the draw.

But when his fellow factory worker Robert Adams discovered the ticket was a winner he determined to exclude Mr King from a $2.7 million share of the prize money.

This is the case put forward by Mr King’s lawyer Lachlan Gyles in a NSW Supreme Court battle over whether he should be considered part of a workplace lotto syndicate that struck gold in May.

Mr King, a father of five and production supervisor, argues that he faithfully contributed to a lotto syndicate run by his then colleague Mr Adams at the Liverpool factory where they worked together.

He argues that he believed there was only one lotto syndicate operating at the factory and that all its members would be automatically entered into draws unless they opted out.

During cross examination on Tuesday, it was put to Mr Adams that he had purchased the winning lotto ticket with the intention that the 12 regular members of the syndicate would contribute to the cost.

Mr Gyles put to Mr Adams that he even used funds leftover from his regular contributors to cover the cost of buying the ticket.

But when Mr Adams discovered he had landed the jackpot, he “ringfenced” the syndicate to preserve the pool of money. He told Mr King, the court heard, that the ticket had been purchased by a separate group that comprised all the regular contributors excluding him.

When Mr King asked him why he was not part of the winning syndicate, Mr Adams allegedly said: “Shit happens. I run a lot of lottos.”

The court heard that although Mr Adams had a regular process of recording the details of his one-off syndicates on cardboard, he had written the names of the contributors to the winning ticket into an exercise book usually reserved for his regulars.

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Nick Kyrgios out of reach of Tennis Australia influence, bemoans Todd Woodbridge

Todd Woodbridge says Tennis Australia struggles to influence talented youngsters once they go on tour. Photo: Elesa KurtzTennis great Todd Woodbridge continues to be frustrated by Tennis Australia’s inability to influence its young stars beyond their teenage years.

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Woodbridge’s lament comes in the wake of troubled talent Nick Kyrgios being handed an eight-week suspension from the ATP for tanking in his second-round match at the Shanghai Masters last week.

Woodbridge, who was running TA’s development program when Kyrgios was coming through, doubts he could have done more to help the 21-year-old and said the governing body’s hands were often tied when it came to sanctioning their players for misdemeanours.

“I’ve done media courses with Nick when he was a teenager, I’ve done all sorts of things to be able to put those (coping) mechanisms in place,” Woodbridge told SEN on Tuesday.

“The funding comes in the junior years when we send them off on world tours – we don’t fund him now.”

Woodbridge said management groups in particular ensured players like Kyrgios were kept out of TA’s reach.

“What you’ll find in our sport that is interesting is that when we have good athletes we are able to influence them up until around 16, 17, 18 (years of age),” he said.

“By then if they are touted as world class, like Nick was, then there are management groups that come in, they put a wedge between what an organisation can do and become intent with families and all types of issues like that that we can’t control because they are, in essence, an independent contractor who runs their own business once they are fully fledged to hit the tour.

“That’s where it gets frustrating for someone like myself because we know what’s in place and we try and give as much good advice as we can and we continue to try to do that but you do get tied.

“We are not a footy club who has an ability to be able to sanction in the way that some people would like us to.”

Woodbridge said the ATP had no choice but to suspend Kyrgios for his latest episode of petulance but described the sanction as an “essential lifeline” for the three-time title winner.

The ban will be reduced to three weeks if Kyrgios seeks help from a professional psychologist for his behavioural issues.

“I think it’s probably good to put the racquets up and go do some work on what they’ve put forward to him,” Woodbridge said.

“So they’ve given him a bit of a lifeline, really, but it’s an essential lifeline that I think is important for Nick to improve.

“He’s got this part of his game that he has to learn how to deal with. It’s not just his game, mind you, it’s about his health as well so that the stresses that he puts on himself can allow him to just be a happy, young lad.”

Woodbridge insisted that Kyrgios actually hated the way he behaved and the 16-time grand slam doubles champion hoped the youngster could turn things around and become a role model like Andre Agassi did.

“It comes down to dealing with the expectations of the tour, what the media expects of you, what the fans expect of you and also what he expects of himself and how he manages that,” Woodbridge said.

“If he puts all that together – it’s a pretty big basket, mind you – he can improve for next year.

“If you give him some time and he starts to get some performances he can do some really good things that’ll be great to watch.

“He can ultimately become a role model potentially like an Agassi. Agassi had his troubles in his career … but he didn’t get past them until he was closer to 30, not closer to 20.”

Psychologists Stephen Joseph and Lynne McCormack speak about post traumatic growth at the University of Newcastle

Looking ahead: Professor Stephen Joseph and Dr Lynne McCormack work together in the field of post-traumatic growth. “Depending on the trauma, the nature of growth may be different,” he said. Picture: Jonathan CarrollLEGISLATION should be changedto remove the hoops that police, paramedics, firefighters and military personnel have to jump through to receive workers compensation, according to a psychologist who said the move would be formal recognition ofthe trauma associated with thosejobs.

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University of Newcastle senior lecturer and clinical psychologist Lynne McCormack specialises incomplex trauma and said first responders with post traumatic stress disorderwere usuallyaltruistic people whose jobs had changed them forever.

“We should not be putting these people through the same constraints [as employees in other sectors]to prove they need compensation,” Dr McCormack said. “They give more than in almost any other jobbecause they are serving their community in a complexway, where they are chronically exposed to anticipatory trauma as well as real trauma.Any Joe Blow knows being exposed to that six times a day every day of your life is going to break down your resilience and mental health if you’re not cared for.”

Dr McCormack said many young people thought signing up to an organisation was like joining a family.

“But once they crack at the seams it’s as if they get discarded, they get throw out of the nest,” she said.

She said organisations needed to provide more training about psychological wellbeing;encourage people to come forward when they weren’t coping; and offer stigma-free support and pathways to treatment.

Dr McCormack said the Herald’s recent reports – about first responders who were required to see numerousspecialists and felt re-traumatised by the compensation system–showed“a cruel part of the litigious system that keeps people stuck in their illnesses”.

“They should not have to go out as a crumbled human being, they have the right to be believed,” she said.“We as a society need to do this better because people can grow fromthistrauma.But it has tobe all over before they can reflect back and make sense of it –that’s when the post-traumatic growth can start to kick in.”

Dr McCormack will introduce Belfast-born Professor Stephen Josephto students and clinicians on Wednesday, when he will discuss incorporatingpost-traumatic growth in therapy.

Professor Joseph said between 30 and 70 per cent of survivorsreported experiencingsome sort of positive changes afterwards, such as realising their own strength.

“But that does not mean itis instead of distress or suffering–more commonly it’s alongside it,” he said.“Clinical psychologists can provide better help if they understand the full range of reactions, rather than only oneside of the coin.”

Professor Joseph said “everybody has the capacity to move towards and find new meaning after traumatic events”, regardless of the individual, type of trauma or support available.

“People who are more reflective in life, flexible in the way they cope with things and have better support systems are probably in a better place after events to deal with what’s happened,” he said.

“But it’s not that some people have capability for growth and others don’t.

“Having people –family, friends or a professional –who areempathetic, accepting, non-judgmental, can really listen and understand from their point of view, that’s the most important thing.”

New Hunter Water managing director Dr Jim Bentley says he is unaware of any agenda to privatise the region’s water servicepoll

Task: “It’s not necessarily well oiled but it’s capable … and if we need to do the things we need in this next decade then we need to become more agile,” says Hunter Water chief Dr Jim Bentley of the utility. Picture: Jonathan Carroll. NEW Hunter Water managing director Dr Jim Bentley will notbe drawn on the potentialprivatisation of the utility, saying his only agenda is to make it“the best it can be”.

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Dr Bentley said he hadworked in both the public and private sectorand could see the good and bad in both.

“No one is having a conversation with me at the board or government about the privatisation agenda,” he said, “so if it’s a topic, it’s not why they brought me in.”

Dr Bentley plansto give the utility a stronger voice in future planning and infrastructure in the region.

Almost three months after his appointment, the British-born executive said while he is stillexamining Hunter Water’s performance, “there are not things that need fixing, everything works well”.

However, the 50-year-old flagged change in examiningits approach to serve the community, alongside shaking upworkplace culture.

“The thing that I really want us to focus on is that I want us to understand the part of our purpose that relates to the community we serve,” he said.

“We have a responsibility beyond the customer and consumer, but that’s the bit that is in grey and I think that is what will help Hunter Water become even better.

Dr Bentley said he wanted the authority to have a greater say in future regional planning, without overstepping its mark.

“It’s a grey area and great businesses understand how far into the grey they are supposed to go,” he said.

“So it’s incredibly important we comply with everything but I don’t think compliance is sufficient, it’s essential but not sufficient.

“So it is understanding for Hunter Water what are those essential things that we should get involved in, where should we take a leadership role or a supporting role.”

Dr Bentley, whobegan his appointment on July 27,has more than 20-years experience in the infrastructure sector, including 12 years at the Thames Water, theUnited Kingdom’s largest water utility.

For the past decade he has worked at various companies in New Zealand and was most recently dividing his time betweenconsultancyand academic work.

Dr Bentley said another focus would be to foster a “curious” workplace culture.

“We don’t do it for our own gratification but for the benefitof the community. It’s being curious about where we can add more value,” he said.

While the region’s water storage is sufficient, Dr Bentley said action was required in the “medium term –more than 10 years and less than 20–to ensure its security.

“It’s too early to say what we need, but not to say what we must do, which is work with community,” he said.

Boy, 5, survives crash that killed three on Waverley Road outside Scone

5yo survives crash that killed three Police Rescue at the property on Tuesday. Picture: Brodie Owen

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Real estate agent Adam O’Regan.

A five-year-old boy survived the accident. Photo: Brodie Owen

TweetFacebookA five-year-old boy has survived a horror car crash at a rural property in the NSW Upper Hunter that killed three men including his father and grandfather.

The child’s relatives issued a statement on Monday after they “lost a father and a grandfather” in a single tragic accident near Scone.

“Our son, who thankfully sustained non-life threatening injuries, is understandably shaken and it is our family’s number one priority to be there and care for him as he recovers,” the family said.

“As we support our son through his recovery we are also grieving the loss of two loved ones.

“We request peace and privacy at this incredibly difficult time for our family.”

Police confirmedlate on Monday that three men had died and a five-year-old boy had been left with a broken arm following a crash at a property in Gundy, near Scone.

Emergency services were called to the property on Waverley Road about 5pm when the car was found by a neighbouring landowner.

It is believed the car drove off a cliff and rolled down an embankment. All four people on board were ejected from the car, police said.

It is understood the boy’s father and grandfather were killed in the crash, along with Sconereal estate agent Adam O’Regan.

The men were believed to be inspecting the remote property on Monday morning.

Police said concerns were raised for the men’s welfare on Monday afternoon when they failed to return from the trip.

Police and neighbours on quad bikes returned tothe property on Tuesday morning, where investigations are still underway.

Glen Ramplin, an air crewman for the Hunter Region Westpac Rescue Helicopter,told Fairfax Media on Mondaytwo helicopters were dispatched to the accident – one from Newcastle and one from Tamworth.

A five-year-old boy survived the accident. Photo: Brodie Owen

“The first call that the aircraft from Newcastle got was [Tamworth] had been called to a property up there for a car that had gone off a cliff,” Mr Ramplin said.

The Tamworth medics arrived at the crash site first, about 6pm, and called off the second crew when they realised the boy was the only survivor.

Ambulance crews had to use quad bikes to get to the scene, he said.

Mr Ramplin said the boy was flown to Scone Hospital, where he was transferred in an ambulance to Newcastle’s John Hunter Children’s Hospital.

He remained in the hospital in a stable condition on Monday night.

Police began to examine the scene on Monday and will resume their investigation on Tuesday morning.

It is not yet known what caused the crash.

A report will be prepared for the Coroner.

– The Herald, Newcastle with Georgina Mitchell