An inquest into the deaths of 13 young Aboriginal people in the Kimberley has found the suicides “were shaped by the crushing effects of intergenerational trauma and poverty upon entire communities”. In a report released on Thursday, Western Australia coroner Ros Fogliani found that the young people “had no contact with the mental health services prior to their death”, and that “many of the parents were unable to care for their children because their own lives were marred by the effects of longstanding trauma”. Fogliani recommended universal screening of children for Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder, that FASD be recognised as a disability under the NDIS, a Kimberley-wide registry of banned drinkers be set up, the establishment of a mental health facility in the east Kimberley, and the rollout of back-to-country cultural healing services for young people. At a press conference outside the coroner’s court on Thursday, WA mental health minister Roger Cook incorrectly stated that “all these kids were intoxicated before they took their lives”, before his office issued a correction.
National Australia Bank chair Ken Henry and chief executive Andrew Thorburn have resigned after being singled out for criticism in the banking industry royal commission’s final report. Commissioner Kenneth Hayne said that he “was not persuaded that NAB is willing to accept the necessary responsibility for deciding, for itself, what is the right thing to do”. Henry took a combative approach when he appeared before the royal commission in November 2018, scoffing and giving sarcastic answers to questions put to him by senior counsel Rowena Orr QC. Henry was contrite in an interview with the ABC’s 7.30 on Thursday, saying he “can’t tell you how many times I’ve relived that appearance, I understand the criticism”.
New South Wales Health has asked police to investigate disgraced gynaecologist Emil Gayed. In a NSW Health report released on Thursday, investigator Gail Furness SC detailed Gayed being charged with indecent assault in 2010, failing to wash his hands before treating patients, and contributing to several stillbirths. Speaking to Guardian Australia, former patients of Gayed spoke of severe and long-lasting pain, trauma, infection and associated medical issues after being treated by Gayed. In a statement, NSW Health deputy secretary Nigel Lyons said Gayed’s former patients “assisted greatly in identifying the systems failure in the administration of Gayed’s appointments and management, which affected the care he provided”.
Federal assistant roads and transport minister Scott Buchholz has apologised for behaving inappropriately towards a female Australian Defence Force officer while on a military exchange program in the Northern Territory in August. In a statement to media outlets on Thursday, Buchholz said he “behaved like an idiot on a parliamentary exchange last year and I recognise how inappropriate my actions were”. Buchholz said he “apologised for my conduct and the offence I caused” after the female Royal Australian Air Force officer lodged a formal complaint. In its own statement, the defence department said the complaint was “referred to the Office of the Minister for Defence Personnel” and was resolved when Buchholz apologised.
And independent member for Wentworth, Kerryn Phelps, has urged federal Labor not to abandon its support for her bill allowing the transfer of critically ill refugees from offshore detention. Opposition leader Bill Shorten has left open the possibility that Labor would support a government proposal to establish a medical advisory panel to report to the home affairs minister, saying on Wednesday that he was “not going to be a purist” on the issue. Speaking on Thursday, Phelps said “no one should cave in to the prime minister’s scare tactics and deliberate misinformation”, while Greens leader Richard Di Natale urged the party to “grow a spine, stand up to them, don’t let them divide our community”. Legal advice from Melbourne barrister Matthew Albert, obtained by Labor on Thursday, said the Phelps bill “includes security checks and empowers the minister to have regard to any security issues”. The legislation will come to a vote in the House of Representatives next week.
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