Government urged to fund Indigenous health

On National Close the Gap Day, Indigenous leaders have warned of dire consequences if funding to vital health programs does not continue.


They say the progress that has been made will be threatened.

The $1.6 billion funding package for Closing the health gap expires in June.

It’s underpinned many programs which deal with the crisis affecting all levels of Indigenous health around the nation.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda says that funding must continue beyond June.

“What we’re looking for is a commitment by the governments, all levels of government, to keep the effort going” said Mr Gooda. “Particularly in this health space where we’re just starting to see some really good results come through.”

The leaders stress that while there is a long way to go to Close the Gap, real progress has been made so far.

For example, infant mortality rates in Indigenous communities have begun to fall. Also, initiatives to combat smoking and chronic diseases are starting to have an impact.

“The trend lines are heading in the right directions now,” said Mr Gooda.

“So it’s taken a big effort to turn those indicators around but we’re getting there. And again, it’s not time to reduce the effort. It’s time to ramp the effort up and keep this going.”

Mr Gooda’s sentiment was echoed by other leaders attending a National Close the Gap Day event in Sydney.

Justin Mohamed, Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Community and Child Health Organisation said “this funding is one part, an important part, that if it does not get continued we’ll see a lot of the hard work and the planning and the gains that we have made so far will be lost. And we can’t afford to do that because we’re talking about people’s lives.”

There are also signs that the gap is slowly closing in education. New figures show that for the first time 50 per cent of indgenous students finished school at the end of Year 12.

Killing video sparks hunt for porn star

Interpol posted the picture and profile of Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, who is being hunted across Canada over the killing, first brought to light when a human foot was sent to the headquarters of Canada’s ruling Conservative Party.


A hand was later found in the mail at an Ottawa post office, and a torso was discovered in Montreal. Police believe the remains belong to a man who was dating Magnotta — and that Magnotta is to blame.

Authorities say they believe the suspect, also known as Eric Clinton Newman and Vladimir Romanov, may have fled the country.

Interpol said it had issued a “Red Notice” wanted persons alert for Magnotta to its 190 member countries.

“There is no country in the world that is not talking about him,” Montreal police commander Ian Lafreniere told public broadcaster CBC Thursday, adding that police have evidence he fled North America.

“There’s a lot of heat on him. There’s a lot of pressure on him, so we believe that it’s going to be hard for him.”

The video circulating online shows a man repeatedly stab another man with an ice pick and dismember him, as a song from the soundtrack of the film “American Psycho” plays in the background.

“It’s a video of the murder,” police told the daily Globe and Mail. The newspaper also reported that the footage showed acts of cannibalism.

Despite efforts to take it down, frustrated police said Thursday the gory 10 and a half minute video first brought to the attention of Canadian authorities by a Montana lawyer has kept popping up all over the Internet.

US civil litigation lawyer Roger Renville told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) he came across the video last Saturday, and informed police in the United States and Canada.

“What I saw in that video exceeds your worst nightmare. It’s Jeffrey Dahmer-esque,” he said.

When Renville spoke to Canadian police on Sunday, he said they were “very skeptical.”

A police officer “suggested that whatever I was seeing must be fake. And he suggested that special effects are pretty good these days and it’d be hard to tell if it was real or not,” said Renville.

An investigation was launched Tuesday when a package sent from Montreal was partly opened by the receptionist at the Conservative Party office in Ottawa, who called police after seeing blood stains and being overwhelmed by the smell.

Hours later, a second suspicious package was intercepted by Canada Post at a nearby mail sorting facility. It “contained a human hand,” said police.

The probe soon shifted to Montreal, where a torso was discovered by a janitor in a suitcase in a pile of garbage. Police said the torso belonged to a white male but was difficult to identify because of the missing body parts.

The investigation quickly brought police to a studio apartment overlooking an expressway in the neighborhood where the torso was found.

After combing it for evidence, the doors and windows were left open to air out the “pungent” smell of death, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

A CBC reporter, who was let in by the building superintendent, said he saw blood stains on a bed mattress where police say the victim may have been killed, around a bathtub drain, and on other furniture.

Only two months ago, Magnotta wrote in his last known public comments on a blog: “It’s not cool to the world being a necrophiliac. It’s bloody lonely.”

Police have not said whether there was evidence of sexual assault on the victim.

Several websites describe Magnotta as a washed-up porn star and hustler, who allegedly posted videos online of himself torturing kittens.

Online reports also said Magnotta once dated Karla Homolka, who was convicted in 1991 of manslaughter following a plea bargain in the rape and murder of two teenage girls and her sister.

Homolka had claimed in testimony that helped send her husband Paul Bernardo to prison for life that she was abused and an unwilling accomplice to the grisly murders.

But videotapes of the crimes later surfaced showing that she was a more active participant than she had claimed. She was released from prison in 2005 and moved to Montreal.

In a 2007 interview with a Toronto newspaper, Magnotta denied knowing Homolka, who is reportedly now married with three children.

‘No three-way odd things going on’, polygamist says

“There are two separate relationships here: there’s no three-way odd things going on in bed.


They are sisters after all, that that would be a bit too weird,” explains Marc Glasby, the Perth man who is in a polygamist relationship with twins, Dorothy Loader and Belle Glasby.

Insight: Polygamy

Marc is legally married to Belle and says he had been in a monogamous relationship with her for 27 years before Dorothy joined them.

Belle and Dorothy were separated at birth in Malaysia and adopted out to separate families.

They met for the first time in 2008 when Belle tracked her down.

Marc says he realised 15 days after Dorothy’s arrival that he was attracted to his wife’s twin sister, who was also married at the time.

“It just seemed obvious that if he saw another me, he would [also] fall in love with her,” Belle said.

“All I said to Marc was go tell her,” she said.

But the jealousies introducing a new member to the relationship soon came.

“I didn’t think I would go through that but I did. But Marc assured me that he loved me just as much and that there would be no discrepancies between us,” Belle said.

For Marc, having two partners seems perfectly natural.

“I’m a bit boring really. Our lives are just like everyone else’s: chores like shopping gardening,” Marc said.

“I spend one night with Dorothy and one night with Belle. That just seems to work,” he said.

Dorothy and Belle are both Christians who say that God would be pleased that the relationship makes them all so happy.

“We kiss each other good night and whoever Marc is with, he goes to that room” Dorothy said.

She is happy to tell people about their unique relationship, despite the fact that the law forbids another marrige between her and Marc.

“We tell them that we are both Marc’s wives,” Dorothy said.

Nauru detainee tells of hunger strike

Up to 15 asylum seekers at Nauru have been given medical aid as a hunger strike at the processing centre enters its fifth day.


One detainee told SBS News around 300 men were refusing to eat.

A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration disputed this number, saying it was difficult to determine how many people were on hunger strike, but confirmed between 10 and 15 people had been given medical treatment on-site.

“We’ve confirmed there is a group of people who are missing meals, however we do refute the scale and the numbers claimed by refugee advocates.

“Given that there are large amounts of food being taken at meal times, including snacks, fruit, that sort of thing, that assumes there are a large number of people eating.”

The spokesperson said detainees had access to food and water “at all times”.

The Pakistani asylum seeker who spoke to SBS – and did not want to give his name – said the hunger strike, along with a peaceful protest held at the centre yesterday evening, was intended to send a message to Australia.

“We are just trying to get the word out, we are showing our feelings to the media and the people of Australia we are not happy here.”

The man also spoke of poor conditions at the camp, saying overcrowding and heat exposure were particularly problematic.

A Salvation Army representative recently visited the camp, and said via a statement: “Heat is a constant drain on both staff and transferees.”

“The Transferee Internet Room and Education Room are air conditioned, and fans are available elsewhere.

“Improvements to the facilities continue to be made, and the Salvation Army continues to develop a range of educational and recreational programs available to transferees.”

The Pakistani asylum seeker said the strike would continue at Nauru until the Department of Immigration provided more information about the status of their cases.

“We want our cases to be heard in Australia, that is what we want,” he said.

Obama asks court to overturn gay marriage ban

The Barack Obama administration has formally asked the US Supreme Court to strike down a 1996 law defining marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman.


The request was contained in a legal brief filed to the US high court, whose nine justices plan next month to review whether or not to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bans marriage between homosexuals.

According to the filing, the law “violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection” before the law stipulated by the US Constitution.

DOMA “denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples,” read the brief signed by US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.

The administration’s decision to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act is not surprising, since Obama has signaled on various occasions recently that he is that he is in favor of gay marriage.

During his second inaugural address last month, the president likened the struggle for gay rights and the Civil Rights movement of past decades.

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” Obama said.

He also drew a parallel between several watershed struggles in US history — that of women at the landmark Seneca Falls convention in 1848, the 1960s civil rights battles and the Stonewall riots of June 1969, which are widely seen as having sparked the gay rights movement.

Another nod to the homosexual community during Obama’s second inauguration was the selection of gay poet Richard Blanco to read a poem composed for the occasion.

In 2011, Obama abolished the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy requiring military recruits to hide their homosexuality, or risk being expelled from the service.

Last year, he became the first sitting US president to speak in favor of gay marriage.

As a result of DOMA, gay marriage is banned at the federal level. However, after gay rights advocates won several local referendums, it is now legal in nine out of 50 US states and in Washington DC.