Club and town didn’t know award named after abuser, commission told

THE common refrain about a country town is that everybody living there knows everyone else’s personal business.

But in Scone, the sexual abuse of two young swimmers by a celebrated coach and his conviction for indecent assault somehow went unnoticed for two decades, even by the town’s swimming club.

If anyone did know they didn’t let on, with it falling to new Scone Swimming Club president Joanne Wright to try to explain to a royal commission yesterday why the club continued awarding a breaststroke trophy named for the coach, Stephen Roser, until one of his victims contacted it this year and asked it to stop.

Stephen Roser

‘‘We haven’t been able to ascertain why it was not previously removed,’’ Ms Wright told the public hearing in Sydney.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is examining the response of Australia’s swimming community to allegations raised at a national, state and local level.

It heard earlier this week from a woman referred to as ‘‘AEB’’. Roser was her coach in the summer of 1985-1986 and abused her at the pool and its clubhouse.

He was with the club from about 1985 to 1987, and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service when convicted in 1994 of indecent assault and for committing acts of indecency against a child, relating to AEB and another complainant.

AEB told the commission on Monday it made her ‘‘nauseous’’ to learn the club still handed out the award in Roser’s name. Information about the second complainant has not been revealed.

Ms Wright told the commission yesterday the club could find no record of AEB’s past attempts to alert it about Roser’s convictions and was unaware of them until she successfully contacted it this year.

Club officials met immediately and removed Roser’s name from its club book.

‘‘You’re aware that there were actually two victims, both from Scone swimming club, both children, who swam at the same time, and both were victims of Mr Roser’s assaults,’’ AEB’s solicitor Lynne Hughes asked.

‘‘We were unaware that there was a second victim,’’ Ms Wright replied.

She did not know if other club members and swimmers from the 1980s were aware of the convictions either, but agreed it was important they were told.

The club, which today does not provide coaching, had no child protection policy in place before being contacted by the commission this year, despite being affiliated with Swimming NSW and, through it, Swimming Australia.

Ms Wright said AEB’s case ‘‘opened our eyes as to the vulnerability that exists’’.

She said the club had been left to run itself and it would help if training about child protection and how to handle complaints was offered by Swimming Australia. The hearing continues.

CHFL: Waubra’s out for payback

Buninyong’s Jimmy Carroll tackles Springbank’s Simon QuinlanWAUBRA will be out to exact revenge on the team that ended its tilt at the 2013 Central Highlands Football League premiership on Saturday.

The Roos lost just two games last season and both were against Buninyong, who they meet on home soil this weekend.

And the defeat that will stick in the minds of Waubra coach Jason Allen and most of his charges will be the preliminary final, which the Bombers won by 17 points to progress to a second-straight grand final.

Allen rated the Bombers as a vastly underrated team this year after a season that has returned just the one defeat, against Springbank on ANZAC Day.

“They have kind of been forgotten about, but we haven’t forgotten about them,” Allen said.

“They are a good side. We will have to be at our best to beat them.”

Waubra heads into the clash after seven-straight wins, including a hard-fought victory over Springbank by 17 points last weekend.

Mark Molloy and Josh King are the inclusions for Saturday, while Stephen Gosling (hamstring) and Rohan Brown come out.

Buninyong coach Jarrod Morgan says this is a vital period in the season for his side, which faces a host of top teams in coming weeks.

“The next four weeks we have Waubra, Bungaree and Hepburn so they are all must-win games. They are eight-point games. They are teams you are fighting against for the top four. If you win one and they lose one it makes a big difference,” he said.

Onballer Jimmy Carroll, defender Mark Phelps and forward Phil Benn are the big ins for the Bombers, which got home over Creswick at the weekend.

PREDICTION: Waubra by 15 points.

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Safety fears in West Wallsend mine expansion plan

PREVIOUS DAMAGE: Subsidence from the West Wallsend coalmine last year sparked warnings in the Sugarloaf State Conservation Area. Picture: Darren PatemanA ‘‘HIGH level of damage’’ would likely occur with expansion plans at the notorious West Wallsend coalmine, with ‘‘major implications for public safety’’, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage says.

The mine, owned by Glencore Xstrata, was exposed in the Newcastle Herald last year for causing environmental destruction in the Sugarloaf State Conservation Area.

The NSW Planning Department is assessing Glencore’s expansion plan in Sugarloaf, which includes two new longwall panels near Ryhope in west Lake Macquarie.

Subsidence of 2.4metres to 2.6metres was predicted, including on steep slopes and unsealed gravel roads, planning documents show.

An environment office submission to the plan said this was ‘‘the highest’’ subsidence prediction it had reviewed and had ‘‘major implications for public safety, public access and the conservation values of Sugarloaf’’.

In response to this, the mine said – in a report from consultant Umwelt – it was committed to ‘‘effectively remediating’’ subsidence, so public safety was not affected.

It had recently developed a revised public safety management plan.

The environment office noted the mine had previously ‘‘underestimated subsidence by up to 30per cent’’.

The mine’s response said: ‘‘It is unlikely that the subsidence predictions for the proposed longwalls will be exceeded by more than 10per cent.’’

The subsidence was ‘‘predicted to be less than other areas’’ of the mine, it said.

The environment office submission said the plan had ‘‘not sought to reduce’’ the effects that caused previous problems in Sugarloaf.

‘‘Instead of reducing the potential for such impacts in the current proposal … the mine is likely to increase their effects,’’ the submission said.

This was because the width of one longwall panel was planned to increase by 12per cent, compared with ‘‘existing longwall panel widths’’.

Pillars could be narrowed and panels widened to reduce effects, the submission said.

The mine’s response said ‘‘significantly reduced’’ panel widths would ‘‘not be economically viable’’.

The Herald reported last year that subsidence at the mine caused cliffs to crumble and collapse in Sugarloaf, with a huge chasm opening up and large cracks stretching across the reserve.

Additionally, tonnes of grout used to repair subsidence cracks was accidentally poured 280metres down a creek – which the mine later cleaned up.

The environment office submission said a recent inspection of the existing mine area uncovered ‘‘numerous fractures and holes on steep slopes that had not been remediated’’.

Additionally, there was ‘‘no clear risk management plan for selection of fractures for remediation’’.

The mine’s response said it had developed a new process to ‘‘guide remediation of subsidence cracking’’. ‘‘With this new process in place, [the mine] will prioritise remediating the existing subsidence cracking within Sugarloaf,’’ it said.

The environment office submission said the mine’s expansion plan defined cliffs and rock faces as those with a length of 20 metres, meaning there were ‘‘potentially numerous features in the project area which have not received adequate assessment’’.

The mine’s response said ‘‘regardless of any such definitions, there are no cliffs … or rock face features in the project area’’.


MINING giant Glencore has lashed out at privatisation, saying there has been a ‘‘significant increase’’ in prices after ‘‘every instance’’ of port and coal-rail privatisation in Australia in the past 15years.

Glencore is one of the two biggest coal companies in Australia and its comments are contained in a submission to a federal review of competition policy announced in December.

Glencore’s assessment will be seized on by those opposed to the privatisation of NSW’s ‘‘poles and wires’’, which, like the coal-rail and port assets in Glencore’s sights, are viewed as ‘‘natural monopolies’’.

In its 12-page submission, Glencore includes the recent privatisation of the Port of Newcastle as part of a ‘‘wave of infrastructure asset sales [that] creates a renewed risk’’.

‘‘While in principle, we support privatisation, Glencore has experienced the consequences of privatisation across the east coast of Australia in terms of infrastructure asset sales and the results are not mixed, they are almost always negative,’’ it says.

‘‘In every instance of monopoly coal infrastructure being sold into private ownership in the last 15 years, there has been an associated significant increase in the cost of access …’’

Glencore says ‘‘public ownership’’ is ‘‘one potential solution to the natural monopoly problem’’.

It also backs the ‘‘common user’’ principle, the very structure that its predecessor, Xstrata, and other coal companies successfully lobbied to have removed from Newcastle’s coal-loaders.

The common user provisions were removed to make way for the long-term take-or-pay rail and coal-loading contracts that are widely credited with driving up costs.

Glencore says rail and port charges account for up to 40per cent of mining costs, twice the level of the pre-privatisation era.

It estimates one-third of Australia’s export coal is ‘‘cash flow negative’’, fetching up to $30 a tonne below production cost.

Holiday program embraces multicultural community

ROCHERLEA Hall was filled with smiles yesterday as the Tasmanian Health Organisation’s Youth Health North’s school holiday program hit its third day.

Social worker Sarah Stevens said the six-day program was a joint effort between the THO, Red Cross and the Northern Suburbs Community Centre.

“We’ve had two really good days,” she said.

“We’ve been doing drumming, cooking and art.

“We have themes each day, like identity, resilience and cultural identity.”

Ms Stevens said children of a multicultural background were invited to join the free program.

“While there are some great things out there targeting the multicultural community, there are gaps,” Ms Stevens said.

School holiday program participants, clockwise from bottom left: Mohan Subedi, 11, Bal Kumar, 12, Ro Ming Lian, 12, student social worker Steven Wright, Yada Dulal, 12, Muna Koirala, 12, Binazir Navazi, 12 and youth health social worker Sarah Stevens. PIcture: SCOTT GELSTON

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Porte promoted to team leader

A RAIN-SOAKED, crash-filled, chaotic stage of the Tour de France has catapulted Richie Porte into genuine podium contention.

A wet, tired and mud-splattered Richie Porte crosses the line to finish yesterday’s crash-hit stage. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Odds on the Launceston rider winning the world’s biggest annual sporting event yesterday plummeted from a pre-race $67 to $10 as he assumed leadership of the powerful Team Sky outfit following the withdrawal of injured reigning champion Chris Froome.

Porte’s long-time roommate was the highest profile victim of a treacherous 156-kilometre fifth stage through the famed cobbles of north-eastern France.

Already suffering and wearing a splint from a wrist injury sustained in a crash the previous day, Froome eventually withdrew after hitting the tarmac twice more.

Porte’s employers and teammates wasted no time in anointing the 29-year-old as Team Sky’s new contender for overall victory and he responded instantly with two inspiring surges to take time off key rivals Alberto Contador, Andrew Talansky and Alejandro Valverde.

Froome said: “[The team] have shown they are ready to get behind Richie, who’s in excellent form, and I would like to wish everyone all the best. I’ll certainly be cheering them on.”

Team manager Dave Brailsford, who was criticised for omitting 2012 winner Brad Wiggins from the team’s Tour squad, said Porte was in “great shape”.

“He’s had a slower start to the season than normal and he’s fresh. He’s come into form at the right time and he’s climbing really well.

“The reason that we decided to take him as our second lead rider is because of his climbing ability at the moment. Today was a big challenge for Richie, getting him over those cobbles, and I think he did ever so well.”

Porte, who survived a spill of his own on the slippery cobblestones, described the stage from Ypres to Arenberg as stressful but strangely enjoyable.

“It was carnage before we even reached the cobbles, and I went down after the second sector myself, but fortunately I only had a few minor grazes,” he said.

“Given his fall yesterday, it was always going to be hard for Froomey to hang in there, so the decision was made on the bus that I’d have G [Geraint Thomas] and Bernie [Eisel] to ride for me, and they did an incredible job on the wet and slippery roads.”

As yellow jersey wearer Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) seized the chance to extend his race lead, Porte enlisted classics specialist Thomas to help him finish 20th, 2 minutes 11 seconds behind stage winner Lars Boom (Belkin).

This pushed Porte up to eighth place on general classification, 1 minute 54 seconds behind Nibali, before the three-week race hits the mountains.

“G and I were able to ride through the groups and limit our losses on Nibali, and although it was stressful, I actually began to enjoy it at the end,” he said.

“It was completely different from the type of racing I normally do. G and Bernie were brilliant and really looked after me. This is their type of terrain and it was impressive to see how they operated.

“Nibali is in a great position. You can’t take anything away from the way he rode – what he did was really impressive – but being in the yellow jersey comes with its own pressures and there’s still a long way to go.”

Thomas endorsed Porte as the Sky’s new GC contender, the team firmly believing the Tasmanian’s lack of early-season racing will have him fresher than many of his rivals.

“We came into the race with a two-pronged attack, and now it’s all for Richie,” Thomas said. “I saw Contador was struggling a bit on the cobbles, so I said, `Richie, get on my wheel, let’s just smash it and see what happens.’

“Obviously losing Froomey is not good, but Richie is in good form and he’ll definitely be up there in Paris.”

Porte agreed that the loss of Froome was a huge blow to the team.

“But he’ll be back hungrier than ever next year. Now I have an opportunity to go for as high a GC position as I can. It’s a relief, personally, to have come through stages two and five OK, and I’m looking forward to heading into the mountains now.”

6pt UNIV INTO HELIOS; Starts in UNIV, breakback goes to helios, loops on breakbacks.

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