- Victoria goes back into lockdown
- Hillsong founder charged
- Five deaths, 262 cases in NSW
- Redress for Stolen Generations survivors
- Qld records 16 new cases
- SA restrictions ease
- Man critical after stabbing in Wayville
- Pair arrested after alleged hotel quarantine breach
- Qld tries to avoid longer lockdown as cluster grows
- Vaccine commander not ruling out cash for jabs scheme
Victoria to go back into lockdown
Victoria will enter a seven-day lockdown in an effort to contain a growing outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta variant in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the lockdown will begin at 8pm on Thursday, after the state recorded eight new COVID-19 cases.
The same rules that applied during last month’s lockdown will be reimposed, including the five-kilometre travel limit for exercise and shopping and compulsory masks indoors and outdoors.
“There is no alternative for us but to listen to our public health experts, take their advice, and make the decision, the very difficult decision, my cabinet colleagues and I have made on the advice, and that is Victoria will have a lockdown again for seven days,” Andrews said.
The lockdown was prompted in part by fears a teacher at Al-Taqwa College in Truganina infected with COVID-19 may have unknowingly spread the virus while infectious.
She also passed the virus on to her partner and his parents.
It is unknown how the couple, who live in the Hobsons Bay area and are both in their 20s, caught the virus.
Authorities are racing to trace the source of their infection and that of a man in his 20s who lives in the Maribyrnong council.
He works at a warehouse in Derrimut and he and his housemate are now isolating.
The three other cases from Thursday’s numbers are linked to the Moonee Valley testing site cluster.
It is the sixth lockdown for Victoria since the start of the pandemic and the fourth in 2021.
The state’s fifth lockdown ended just nine days ago.
South Australia’s border remains shut to Victoria, with only returning South Australian residents and essential travellers allowed back in the state.
The border restrictions were due to be relaxed for travellers from western Victoria, but SA emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said in a statement this afternoon that the change would be put on hold.
Hillsong founder charged by NSW Police
Hillsong founder and pastor Brian Houston has been charged with concealing alleged child sex offences in the 1970s.
NSW Police will allege Houston knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male but never reported it to police.
Police first began investigating the matter in 2019.
They handed a brief of evidence to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who gave advice to the police this week.
Houston’s lawyer received a court attendance notice for concealing a serious indictable offence on Thursday afternoon.
The founder of the Hillsong Church was among the people Prime Minister Scott Morrison wanted to be invited to a White House dinner when he visited the US in 2019.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House knocked back the request, which Morrison only admitted making six months later.
Houston was known to have been under police investigation for his failure to report his father’s sexual abuse of children.
The child sex abuse royal commission found he failed to tell police about the abuse allegations against the late Frank Houston.
He will appear in Downing Centre Local Court on October 5.
Five deaths, 262 cases in NSW
NSW has reported five COVID-19 deaths and 262 new locally acquired cases – a new record.
Of the five people who died, three were in their 60s, another was in his 70s along with a woman in her 80s. None were fully vaccinated.
“No one who has died has had both doses of vaccine. I cannot stress enough how it’s so important for everybody of all ages to come forward and get the vaccine,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday.
Of the 262 new cases, 72 were circulating in the community for all or part of their infectious period.
Berejiklian also announced the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney would enter a one-week lockdown after COVID-19 cases were revealed in the area.
Three cases were detected in two Hunter schools a day after Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant warned fragments of the virus had been found in the region’s wastewater system.
There are currently 51 COVID-19 patients in NSW in intensive care, with 24 ventilated.
Redress for Stolen Generations survivors
Stolen Generations survivors will get compensation for a shameful chapter in Australia’s past, under a wider $1.1 billion package.
Survivors from the Northern Territory, ACT and Jervis Bay Territory will each be eligible for $75,000 one-off payments as part of a $378.6 million federal redress scheme.
Additional $7000 payments will be available for individual trauma support.
Each survivor will also be given the chance to detail the consequences of their removal in a confidential session with a senior government official.
If survivors choose to do this, they will receive an apology in person or in writing.
The redress payments, separate from state-run schemes, are among measures worth $1.1 billion aimed at closing the health and welfare gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
“What happened is a shameful chapter in our national story,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told federal parliament on Thursday.
“We have already confronted it with the (2008) national apology. But our deeds must continue to match our words.”
Gurdanji-Arrernte woman Pat Turner welcomed the compensation but said it could never replace growing up with family.
“Many of our Stolen Generations have never re-met their families and never been able to reconnect. So I hope this will give some relief to the survivors,” she said.
Additional government funding includes $254.4 million for Aboriginal-controlled community health organisations and $160 million to support early years development.
Morrison acknowledged Australia was not where it should be in closing the gap and had a long way to go.
“We don’t expect to see clear improvements immediately. But I think the approach we’ve got now gives us the best chance,” he said.
“The ultimate test of our efforts is that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boy or girl can grow up with the same opportunities and the same expectations as any other Australian child.”
The commitments build on a national agreement last year around 17 health, justice and socio-economic targets.
Just three are on track. Targets including on reducing suicide rates, closing the life expectancy gap, and keeping children out of child protection and adults out of jail, are set to be missed.
Qld records 16 new cases
Queensland has recorded 16 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, lifting Brisbane’s Delta outbreak to 79 cases.
The new cases emerged after 52,351 tests in the 24 hours to 6am on Thursday – a second consecutive daily record for the state.
They are all linked to the existing Delta variant outbreak centred on Indooroopilly in western Brisbane, which led to an eight-day lockdown of the southeast.
Another 11 new virus cases have been recorded on the ship off the coast of Queensland, but they’re safely isolated from the general population.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles says 12 of the 16 new cases in Brisbane have been in isolation for their entire infectious period, but the end of the lockdown on Sunday remains uncertain.
“We’re very pleased to be able to report this encouraging progress, but the risk of this outbreak is still very real,” he told reporters.
“There will be new contact sites loaded up today and we’d urge people to check those.
“We just need to keep it up, we just need to keep that testing right above 50,000, we need to keep staying at home.
“We need at least the next couple of days to see what happens with this outbreak, but what we know is that when we work together we can do this.”
There are 7766 people are currently in home quarantine and more almost 200 COVID-19 exposure sites for close and casual contact across southeast, central and far north Queensland.
Three of the new cases are students at Ironside State School and nine are household contacts linked to the school.
A teacher, a student and a person linked to Brisbane Boys Grammer have also tested positive.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the four cases that were infectious in the community had only been out during day five of the southeast lockdown.
She remains optimistic the lockdown of the southeast could be gradually be wound back from 4pm on Sunday.
“I didn’t expect us to be so far in front of the virus,” Young said.
“This is fantastic news, this is Queenslanders coming together brilliantly and working with us.”
SA restrictions ease
South Australia’s pubs, cafes and restaurants are allowed to return to 50 per cent capacity this morning under an easing of local COVID-19 restrictions.
The changes, flagged on Monday and effective as of 12:01am on Thursday, allow all indoor and outdoor public venues to operate at a density cap of one-person-per-two square metres.
Gyms are also able to increase their capacity to one person per four-square-metres, while sporting competitions will resume from today but with limits on the number of spectators and masks required for outdoor events.
Private gatherings are still limited to 10 people, as are weddings and funerals which are capped at 50 people.
Mask mandates also still apply for public transport, indoor public places, personal care services, health care settings and high-risk locations such as aged care.
Dancing, singing and stand-up drinking at public venues are also still banned, as are shisha bars.
A total of 291,436 people in South Australia are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, representing just over 20 per cent of the eligible population according to the Federal Government’s latest vaccine data.
Man critical after stabbing in Wayville
A man is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after he was stabbed in Wayville on Wednesday night.
Police say they were called to the service station on Goodwood Road along with paramedics at around 6:30pm where they found a man in a white Holden Nova sedan with stab wounds to his abdomen.
The 20-year-old victim was then transported to the Royal Adelaide Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
In an update this morning, police said the man underwent surgery overnight and is now in a serious but stable condition.
Police also said they have since established that the stabbing occurred on Devon Street North, near the Unley Swimming Centre, shortly before 6:30pm.
Authorities now say they are looking to identify a man – described as having a dark complexion and wearing a mask – who was last seen running south on Devon Street North.
Authorities do not believe the stabbing to be a random incident.
Pair arrested after alleged hotel quarantine breach
Two men from Victoria have been arrested after allegedly breaching quarantining at the Pullman med-hotel.
Police say they had cause to speak to the two men at around 2pm on Wednesday as they were failing to stay in their rooms and were not wearing masks.
The two men, a 19-year-old and a 21-year-old, were put into supervised quarantine at the Pullman Hotel on Hindmarsh Square after arriving from Victoria as prohibited travellers, according to police.
Non-essential travellers from Victoria are currently required to undergo 14-days quarantine.
Both men have been arrested and charged with failing to comply with the Emergency Management Act direction and have been refused bail.
They are scheduled to appear before the Adelaide Magistrates Court today.
Qld tries to avoid longer lockdown as cluster grows
Queensland’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak since the first wave in 2020 is expected to grow as the state’s southeast aims to emerge from lockdown in four days’ time.
The cluster centred in Brisbane’s western suburbs is currently at 63 cases after another 16 were added on Wednesday.
Daily case numbers have only increased since the lockdown came into effect last Saturday, but authorities are hopeful of lifting those restrictions by the end of the weekend.
They are pleading with Queenslanders from the Gold Coast to Noosa to only go out for essential items, and even consider limiting online shopping.
“If we don’t do something really, really special in Queensland, we’ll be extending the lockdown, so please … try your absolute hardest to stay at home,” Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said on Wednesday.
There are now almost 200 COVID-19 exposure sites for close and casual contact across southeast, central and far north Queensland.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles reiterated the message to stay put unless locked down residents “absolutely” needed to do essential shopping or receive health care.
“Five more days, do the right thing, and then next week you can buy all the sun lounges you think you need,” he said on Wednesday.
Vaccine commander not ruling out cash for jabs scheme
Australia’s vaccine rollout commander has not ruled out using vaccine incentives including cash, but will first rally the nation to receive jabs.
Labor wants to give $300 one-off payments to fully vaccinated people but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected the plan.
Lieutenant-General John Frewen said all alternatives would be considered if incentives were needed to get people vaccinated later in the rollout.
“There’s cash, there’s the ideas of lotteries, all these things have been discussed,” the rollout commander said.
“But what is resonating with people right now really is being able to get back to the sort of lifestyle we used to enjoy.”
He cited international travel, ending quarantine and avoiding lockdowns as strong incentives, along with people knowing vaccination was the right thing to do.
With demand still outstripping supply, enough Australians are coming forward for jabs without extra motivation at the moment.
Frewen signalled a looming shift in campaign strategy to a “national rallying” of people to be immunised.
“There has to be a collective national sort of sense of why vaccination is important so we’ll be moving to that,” he said.
Messages will be tailored to specific cultural and linguistic groups which may have higher levels of vaccine hesitancy or find it harder to book in for a jab.
“We will increasingly become aware of where there may be pockets of hesitancy or even where some parts of the country are moving more slowly than others,” Frewen said.
Australia has now vaccinated 20 per cent of its population aged 16 and over but continues to lag behind most of the world.
A record 213,947 doses were administered in the past 24 hours.
-With AAP and Reuters
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