An Australian priest claimed he was summoned to the Vatican to be questioned by the Pope regarding his testimony against an archbishop accused of concealing child sexual abuse. Father Glen Walsh met with the pontiff in 2016, reports The Sydney Morning Herald, ahead of his testimony against Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson, accused of concealing allegations of sexual abuse of former altar boys in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese in the 1970s. After the meeting with Pope Francis, Cardinal George Pell was allegedly waiting outside, and lifted his hand for the priest to kiss his ring. Weeks before the archbishop's trial was set down, Walsh was allegedly told he had no future in the diocese. Just before he could give testimony, Walsh took his own life. Wilson was found guilty of concealment charges in May 2018 on evidence that included statements by Walsh, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. Lifeline: 13 11 14
Victoria Police has issued just 42 fines to people for failing to self-isolate when directed to, despite the state government arguing large numbers of rule-breakers justify heavy fines. Premier Daniel Andrews announced on August 4 that fines would increase from $1652 to $4957, after 3000 doorknocks conducted by the Australian Defence Force and health officials found more than 800 people were not home. Victoria Police now says many people were initially recorded as not being at home because they had left their home for a permitted reason, their address details were incorrect or they did not answer the door. Those initially recorded as not at home were referred to police, who then used geolocation mobile tracking to determine if the person was at the given address.
The Western Australian government has set up a taskforce to review whether prisons are following the state’s suicide prevention strategy, after four Aboriginal deaths in jail in three months, reports Guardian Australia. It will also examine how private contractors are meeting terms of their prison contracts. Two deaths have occurred at Acacia prison, run by private contractor Serco, where a 19-year-old man took his own life in July, and a 40-year-old Indigenous man was found collapsed in June. The other deaths were at Roebourne regional prison in July and Melaleuca women’s prison last week, which authorities said appeared to be self-harm incidents. Lifeline: 13 11 14
Tens of thousands of people in California have been ordered to evacuate as 367 fires sweep across the state, choking the San Francisco Bay Area with smoke and causing rare fire tornadoes. Many of the fires started after 10,849 lightning strikes hit the state after an extreme heatwave that may have seen the hottest-ever temperature reliably recorded on Earth, when Death Valley hit a yet-to-be-verified 54.4C. It comes as the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland which straddles the border of Brazil and Paraguay, is currently suffering its worst fires in more than two decades, with nearly 12 per cent of its vegetation reportedly already lost.