On his heyday, Alan Clark was a gun centre-forward who left everything on the field.
Footy was in his blood. He earned best and fairest accolades at almost every suburban club he played for and as a player-coach proudly led the Frankston reserves to a gritty grand final showdown in 1971.
They lost to the boys from Brunswick that day and the outcome still stings.
“They were far too good,” Mr Clark said.
“But our players were just a bit too sooky and we got belted.”
There was a joyous freedom in playing sport that Mr Clark never truly appreciated until now.
Diagnosed with progressive supra nuclear palsy, the 81-year-old is restricted to a single room in the house he shares with wife Zenda, in Warragul, south-east Victoria.
Mr Clark requires assistance to shower and use the toilet.
The brain disorder leads to problems with walking, balance, eye movements and swallowing.
There is no treatment or cure.
Doctors have warned he is likely to eventually die from choking on food.
“It’s amazing what little things you realize you can’t do,” he said.
“Day by day there is something else you can’t do.”
Mr Clark said Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) legislation would grant him the opportunity to die with dignity.
But a legislative loophole means he is restricted from discussing it during telehealth appointments.
Under current Victorian legislation, voluntary assisted dying can only be discussed with a doctor face-to-face.
In-person appointments difficult
Mr Clark said a telehealth appointment was his only option as in-person appointments had become increasingly difficult.
The couple urged a restructure of the law to ensure other Victorians restricted to their homes with deteriorating health could access specific VAD telehealth appointments legally.
“I don’t want to take my life today,” Alan told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“There are so many things happening with our families and it’s just beautiful.
“I would rather be here and have the option at some time when I’m really at the end of my life or suspect I am.
“And so, it’s time now.
“Let’s meet everybody and say goodbye and then I can quietly pass on.”
Mrs Clark said it had been devastating witnessing her husband’s health deteriorate.
“I can’t explain how terrible it is to watch somebody you love just become completely dependent and completely helpless as the disease progresses,” Mrs Clark said.
No choice in personal decisions
“He’s an intelligent man and his greatest fear is that he will lose his ability to request the assisted dying because of a deteriorating cognitive function,” Mrs Clark said.
She said her husband of 35 years was a proud man who had played “every sport known to mankind”.
“He’s been a very good sports person and we have done lots of traveling and had a lovely life together,” she said.
“He’s confined to one room now. His world has become very small.”
Upper House MP Stuart Grimley said urgent changes to the federal criminal code were needed to ensure there was no ambiguity for medical professionals in discussing VAD with patients via electronic communications such as Zoom, Teams or over the phone.
“It wasn’t the intention of the federal code back when the laws were made over a decade ago; it was to respond to cyberbullying by predominantly teenagers. It’s unfortunately had unintended consequences,” he said.
Mr Grimley said a private members bill, clarifying the position of medical professionals and making them easier to access for people restricted to their homes due to ill health, was unlikely to be reviewed until after the Victorian election.
“This is not about watering down the legislation,” Mr Grimley said.
“It’s about making sure (it) works effectively.
“Something like 70 per cent of the population supports VAD. That doesn’t mean that the other 30 per cent have to use it — it just means they need to respect other people’s right to choose.”
Mr Grimley said Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus could also act to remove any potential cloud hanging over the heads of medical practitioners.
VAD telehealth consult on AGs agenda
Melbourne GP and Dying with Dignity Victoria board member Dr Nick Carr is taking legal action against the federal Attorney-General to fight what he calls an “extraordinarily prohibitive” law that prevents doctors from communicating via modern technology with terminally ill patients about assisted dying.
In an interview with ABC Melbourne, Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus alluded to the issue being tabled at the attorneys-general meeting in Melbourne last week.
“I would invite Dr Carr to perhaps take a little bit of breathing space in this litigation because he should know, and I am saying publicly, that a number of states that have Voluntary Assisted Dying laws have asked me directly to look at this question, that is, the impact of Commonwealth laws on their regimes,” Mr Dreyfus said.
The inquest into the death of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker, who was shot by a Northern Territory police officer in 2019, will no longer begin in his home community of Yuendumu.
Family have requested the inquest into the death of Kumanjayi Walker no longer begin in his community
He died after being fatally shot by Constable Zachary Rolfe in 2019, who was found not guilty of all charges
The NT Coroner will examine his death for three months from September 5
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains an image of a person who has died, used with the permission of their family.
Kumanjayi Walker died after he was shot by Constable Zachary Rolfe during an attempted arrest in Yuendumu in November 2019.
Constable Rolfe was found not guilty of murder after a five-week Supreme Court trial earlier this year.
Northern Territory Coroner, Libby Armitage, will preside over a three-month inquest into his death, which had earlier been flagged to start in the remote community, about 300 kilometers from Alice Springs.
‘Change in circumstances’ in Yuendumu
Legal representatives of Mr Walker’s family and community today told the Coroner it would no longer be “appropriate” for the inquest to start in Yuendumu.
Representatives for the Lane, Walker and Robertson families, who cared for Mr Walker, said a “change in circumstances” in Yuendumu meant their feelings towards the inquest being held in community had changed.
Representing the NT Police Force, Dr Ian Freckleton told the coroner local police were aware of an “incident” in the community, which had led to heightened tensions.
The lawyer representing the Yuendumu Parumpurru (Justice) Committee told the coroner his clients “greatly appreciate” the efforts made to hold the beginning of proceedings in the community, but that the inquest should commence at Alice Springs.
Counsel Assisting the coroner, Dr Peggy Dwyer, noted “considerable” logistics, including accommodation and court facilities, had been organized for the inquest to sit in Yuendumu for two days and that the coroner will be required to visit the community at some stage throughout the inquiry
“I will have discussions with the family and community as we progress, to see how that [visit] can be done in a way that is sensitive and most respectful to the family and community,” Dr Dwyer said.
Dr Dwyer suggested the coroner may use that opportunity to engage informally with members of the Yuendumu community and hear their stories.
“There is increasing emphasis on the Coroner’s Courts in the Northern Territory and in other jurisdictions around Australia, of the need to make every effort to make coronial proceedings inclusive to families and the community and to respect Aboriginal culture,” Dr Dwyer said.
Dr Dwyer noted not everyone in the Yuendumu community was of the view the inquest should no longer start there, but that those who were directly involved in the inquest had made the request.
Inquest to be live streamed
Opening today’s hearing with an acknowledgment of country, Ms Armitage welcomed members of Mr Walker’s family who were listening via an online live stream.
The court heard a website will be developed to ensure the entirety of the coronial inquiry can be accessed online, as well as resources in language for community members who don’t speak English.
“I acknowledge this court is not likely to ever feel comfortable for the family or witnesses,” Dr Dwyer said.
“But every effort will be made to make this more open and inclusive.”
Dr Dwyer said videos explaining the coronial process have been filmed and the coroner’s opening address, as well as the Counsel Assisting’s opening address, will be translated and made available on the website.
She also encouraged members of the community to reach out to herself and her colleagues with any questions.
The inquest is scheduled to run for three months, beginning on September 5 in Alice Springs.
US basketball legend Bill Russell’s number 6 jersey is being retired across the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The NBA will permanently retire the jersey number for all teams
Players like LeBron James, who currently wears the number, can continue to wear it until their careers end
Russell, an 11-time NBA champion, died on July 31 at age 88
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association made the announcement on Thursday, permanently retiring the number worn by the 11-time champion and civil rights activist, who was good enough to have been enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.
Russell is the first player to have his number retired league-wide.
The Boston Celtics star died at age 88 on July 31.
“Bill Russell’s unparalleled success on the court and pioneering civil rights activism deserve to be honored in a unique and historic way,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.
“Permanently retiring his number 6 across every NBA team ensures that Bill’s transcendent career will always be recognised.”
Players who currently wear number 6 — including the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James — may continue doing so.
But the number cannot be issued again, the league said.
All NBA players will wear a patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys this season, the league said, and every NBA court will display a clover-shaped logo with the number 6 on the sideline near the scorer’s table.
The Celtics have “separate and unique recognition for him on their uniforms” planned, the NBA said.
Russell was the most prolific winner in NBA history, an 11-time champion during a 13-year career — winning the last two of those titles as a player-coach — and the first Black coach in any of the major US pro sports to win to championship.
He marched with Martin Luther King Jr, stood with Muhammad Ali and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.
And having his number retired league-wide puts him in a very exclusive club.
Major League Baseball (MLB) retired civil rights icon Jackie Robinson’s number 42 jersey across the league in 1997.
Robinson broke professional baseball’s color barrier 50 years earlier by becoming the first Black player to play in the major leagues in the modern era.
On April 15 each year, every MLB player wears the number 42 in honor of Robinson.
The NHL, upon Wayne Gretzky’s retirement in 1999, said his number 99 would be retired league-wide in honor of that sport’s all-time scoring leader.
And now, Russell gets the same treatment.
Russell called Robinson a hero, once saying that “he showed me the way to be a man in professional sports.”
Robinson held Russell in high esteem as well.
Rachel Robinson, her widow, asked Russell to be a pallbearer at her husband’s funeral in 1972.
An Aboriginal man has died in a Melbourne prison just hours after returning from hospital.
The man in his early 30s died in the medical unit at the high-security Port Phillip Prison
The coroner and Corrections Victoria will investigate the incident
The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria is calling for urgent systemic reform
The ABC understands the 32-year-old man was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital on Wednesday morning for treatment.
He was then brought back to the maximum-security Port Phillip prison, where he died in the medical unit on Wednesday night.
A spokesperson from the Department of Justice and Community confirmed the man died on Wednesday.
“It is with great sorrow that Corrections Victoria acknowledges the passing of a prisoner at Port Phillip Prison,” the spokesperson said.
“As with all deaths in custody, the matter has been referred to the coroner, who will formally determine the cause of death.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said both the coroner and Corrections Victoria would conduct a full review into death.
A statement was posted to the Corrections Victoria website late on Friday afternoon, saying: “We recognize that all deaths in custody have impacts on family members, friends, victims and the broader Aboriginal community, and we’re working to ensure they are provided with the support they need.”
Victoria’s corrections system was heavily criticized during a recent inquest into the death of Aboriginal woman Veronica Nelson, who died alone in her cell despite repeatedly calling out for help.
A St Vincent’s spokesperson offered the hospital’s condolences and said it would comply with the coronial inquest.
Push for uniform services across Australia
Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus told ABC Radio Melbourne he wanted all states to adopt uniform custody notification services.
He said national implementation of the support services would enable Aboriginal people in custody to speak to lawyers, family members and support services.
“We’ve made a commitment in the election to assist families with coronial inquiries with the hope that if these deaths in custody are examined, we will learn more about how they can be prevented,” he said.
In 1991, Australia’s Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody warned the arrest of Aboriginal people should be a last resort and that prison staff should be trained to recognize the signs of deteriorating health.
There have been more than 500 deaths in custody since the commission.
Co-chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria Marcus Stewart said the figure showed that changes were long overdue.
“[It’s] 500 too many. I have no confidence that the system is working,” he said.
“I think the system is rotted and corroded to its core and we need systematic reform, structural reform.”
He said mechanisms such as the Yoorrook Justice Commission, a truth-telling process, needed to be put in place so treaty could deliver reforms.
Mr Stewart said he was in favor of Mr Dreyfus’ suggestions of national custody notification services.
“It’s a bottom line responsibility that the government should be doing as a normal practice, and it’s kind of disgraceful … that in 2022 we’re talking about that being introduced,” he said.
“We see you, we hear you and we notice the inaction you’re taking on Aboriginal deaths in custody.
North Queensland Cowboys great Johnathan Thurston flew back home to be with his family after he was left “absolutely devastated” by the news that his former coach, Paul Green, had died aged 49.
Johnathan Thurston was due to appear on Nine’s Thursday night football coverage, but instead flew home to be with his family
The Cowboys play the Roosters in Sydney on Saturday night
A minute’s silence is being held before every NRL game this round
On Channel Nine’s coverage of the Panthers-Storm game in Penrith on Thursday night, Thurston, the co-captain and Clive Churchill medalist of Green’s premiership-winning Cowboys side, was absent.
After hearing the news of Green’s death, Cameron Smith said he spent a few hours with Thurston in Sydney on Thursday afternoon before his friend, colleague and former Maroons teammate returned home to be with his family and his beloved North Queensland community.
“[Thurston] was absolutely devastated, as were many of the players and his teammates in that Cowboys outfit led by Paul Green,” Smith said.
“We just want to send our best wishes to all those players and particularly our mate JT. We feel for you, as the entire rugby league community do.
“For everyone that was involved with Paul Green and his family, we wish you all the very best.”
Many other Cowboys premiership players posted messages of sadness on social media, including Michael Morgan, John Asiata and Ben Hannant.
A minute’s silence was observed before Thursday’s game at Penrith Stadium and others will be held before every NRL game this round.
Cowboys coach reflects on opportunities Green gave him
North Queensland plays the Roosters in Sydney on Saturday afternoon.
Cowboys coach Todd Payten said the club had to “put our arms around each other” after a difficult 24 hours.
“It’s a good reminder of how fortunate we are to do what we are able to do,” he said.
“We would like to perform well in Paul’s honour.”
Payten served as North Queensland’s under-20s coach and an assistant to Green for the 2015 premiership season.
“He gave me an opportunity to bring my family up here when I didn’t have a job,” Payten said.
“He made me a better coach in many different ways [and] he certainly challenged everyone around him to be better. He was a good person.
“He is always going to be the coach of our maiden premiership. He will be etched in our history books, he has had a significant contribution to our club, and he is going to be sorely missed.”
Dimity Blundell was 35 weeks pregnant with her son, Finley, when she was suddenly woken up in the middle of the night by her cat.
Warning: This story discusses stillbirths and contains photos and other content that may be distressing to some people.
“I used the bathroom and started bleeding, a lot,” she said.
Dimity, and her husband Michael, rushed to hospital, where doctors told them the news no parents want to hear: “we can’t find a heartbeat.”
Dimity had had a placental abruption, a rare but serious pregnancy complication where the placenta partly or completely separates from the uterus before delivery.
She was taken into an operating theater at 12:16am on February 22 this year.
“I was prepped by 12:17am, knocked out at 12:18am, the surgery started at 12:19am, and Finley was born at 12:20am,” Dimity said.
Finley was declared dead at 1:24am.
‘Is this the worst day of my life?’
Later that morning, a midwife asked if the grieving couple wanted to meet their son.
Dimity recalled the midwife telling her: “he’s very cute, he really does just look like he’s sleeping.”
Finley spent four days in the loving arms of his parents, and a handful of other family members and friends.
Dimity said she always asks herself, “is the worst day of my life the day he was born, or the day I had to leave him? I think it was the day we had to leave him.”
“Then we came home, and we had a nursery and we had baby things, and then we became the people whose baby died,” she said.
“Everyone else gets to bring their baby home, so why didn’t we?”
Five-and-a half months on, Dimity and Michael said they were taking each day as it came.
But Dimity said Finley’s death “affects every single aspect” of their lives.
“Everything that you do, it’s just woven into the fabric of who you are,” she said.
Michael said it was hard to describe the pain, that still had not gone away, but said it had “certainly gotten a little easier to deal with, with all the counseling and work we’ve put in.”
“It definitely burns less; I’d say it would be a campfire now rather than a bonfire,” Dimity said.
“Moving forward is weird though, because the further forward you move, the further away you get from your baby.”
‘We are the strength of other people, we are the strength of the Red Nose families’
Shortly after Finley’s death, the couple reached out to the charity Red Nose — best known for its annual major fundraiser Red Nose Day, which is today.
Each year, the national charity raises hundreds of thousands of dollars to continue vital research into the causes of stillbirth and sudden infant death and support families impacted by the death of a baby or child.
Through Red Nose’s Canberra branch, Dimity and Michael were able to participate in counselling, and said they discovered a whole community of people who had gone through the same experience as them.
“Once you step into the community, you realize how big it is, and we’re all here for one another,” Michael said.
“The mums and the dads and the siblings of the little people who are with Finley, those people are phenomenal, and they will get you through this,” Dimity said.
“People often tell Michael and I, ‘you’re so strong, you’re so brave’. And I say, ‘No. We are the strength of other people, we are the strength of the Red Nose families.'”
Another member of the Red Nose community in Canberra, is bereaved parent Bonnie Carter, who lost her two daughters, Grace and Matilda, in the span of 18 months.
“It was a very raw, unique pain that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy,” she said.
“There’s some sort of pain you cannot describe in words when a baby dies in the comfort of your belly.”
Bonnie is the ACT representative for the Red Nose Community Advisory Committee and said it was important to talk about stillbirth, as the latest statistics showed 3,000 Australian babies died suddenly and unexpectedly each year.
“By the time you roll into bed tonight, nine Australian families will have lost a baby,” she said.
Dimity and Michael said they found “talking about stillbirth took away the stigma.”
“You’re pregnant and you’re carrying a baby and then it dies, and there’s a lot of stigma around, ‘what did you do?'” Dimity said.
“By talking to Red Nose and hearing the different stories, people have a lot more understanding that it does just happen.”
Funds raised to assist research into stillbirth
Current research from Red Nose shows more than 50 per cent of stillbirths, that occur in the last weeks of an otherwise healthy pregnancy, have no known cause.
But Bonnie said she hoped that ongoing research undertaken at Red Nose could ensure “zero babies pass away, and zero little lives are lost.”
She said, until that time came, counseling and community support allowed bereaved parents and families to open up about their experience.
“You need those other parents to lean on, to talk to, to vent to, to cry to, to laugh with,” she said.
“There is a whole community of families, especially in the Canberra region, who get it, who feel your pain, who understand it, and we’re your backbone. You can lean on us whenever you need to.”
Dimity and Michael said, one day, when they were “further down the path” they wanted to join Bonnie and become involved in the Red Nose charity.
“So that other people don’t have to sit in their hospital beds holding their baby and thinking ‘this doesn’t happen to other people,'” Dimity said.
Green’s legacy as the first coach to take the Cowboys to premiership glory would follow him even as he farewelled the club in 2020.
With two grand finals and a long-awaited trophy under his belt, the question was always going to be ‘what’s next?’
For Green, it was the Broncos.
The powerhouse club had let Anthony Seibold go, and for many, Green was the natural man to step into the seat. Experienced, respected, and a Broncos Old Boy to boot.
And while his interview was reportedly exceptional, Kevin Walters stood fair and square in his way.
“Look, I was disappointed to miss out on the Broncos,” he told The Courier-Mail’s Peter Badel.
“But I knew the situation I was walking into. I knew what ‘Kevvie’ brought to the job and I knew what I brought to the job.
“There’s no ill-feeling at all towards the Broncos at all.”
Instead, Green would take the head coach role at the Maroons, in what would be a transition period between the old and the new as the rep team moved from Wayne Bennett, to Green, and eventually to Billy Slater.
It was a brutal result, with a dominant Blues outfit getting the job done in the first two games.
Green would however go on to claim Origin III, and mark himself in the record books as one of only 13 men to coach the mighty Maroons.