Daily News Roundup

September 13, 2018

Image: Courier Mail

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 

A woman has died in her home after reportedly being sent home just two days after giving birth in a Brisbane hospital, the ABC reports.

The Brisbane Mater Mothers’ Public Hospital is investigating the death.

It’s understood the woman was discharged from hospital last month and had suffered a suspected blood clot after having a caesarean delivery.

Mater Health Chief Executive Officer Sean Hubbard confirmed on Thursday the woman’s death was being investigated but gave no further details.

“As would be the case with any unexpected clinical outcome, Mater will conduct a thorough and detailed review into the care and treatment provided while she was at Mater,” he said in a statement.

“The case has also been referred to the coroner.”

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles did not comment directly on the woman’s case but did say Queensland public maternity services are among the safest in the world.

“The Palaszczuk government has focused on increasing resources and staff, making sure that Queensland mums and bubs, and their families have the very best pre and post-natal care,” Mr Miles said in a statement.

Despite this, any maternal death was a tragedy, he said.

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Queensland’s Attorney-General has lodged an appeal of the sentence handed down to the stepfather of Caboolture toddler Mason Jet Lee over his preventable and painful death two years ago.

William Andrew O’Sullivan was given a nine year sentence but could be eligible for parole after just four years behind bars, for the manslaughter of his 22-month-old stepson.

The boy was found dead in the Caboolture home in June 2016 after suffering horrific injuries including bruising to his head, chest, and abdomen and a broken tailbone.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has been petitioning the Government to appeal the sentence since it was handed down last week, calling it “unbelievable”.

“To think that this man could be out on our streets in less than four years is simply unbelievable,” she said on Friday.

The sentence prompted calls from “horrified” child safety advocates to reform the sentencing system.

Mason Jet Lee ultimately died from sepsis due to an infection from a perforated bowel suffered in a blunt force injury.

There were also traces of methamphetamine in his blood.

He had been known to the Department of Child Safety and had even been treated in hospital earlier in the year because of wounds around his perianal region.

Prior to sentencing, O’Sullivan pleaded guilty to four charges including cruelty to a child.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath tweeted that the appeal was lodged today after she received legal advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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Lawyers, the people who regularly represent and report cases of sexual harassment, have revealed it is a big problem within their own profession reports the ABC’s Katherine Gregory.

This comes after the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report found sexual harassment is increasing in workplaces — although it did not drill down into the legal sector.

A former corporate lawyer, who did not want to be named, said she saw many of her colleagues battle jaw-dropping cases of sexual harassment, such as unwanted physical and sexual advances.

“I’ve definitely seen outcomes where people felt HR were not sympathetic, and afterwards they felt like it wasn’t handled well,” the lawyer said.

“They probably wished they’d never raised anything at all.”

The lawyer said she had also been the target of harassment previously in her career.

She recalled once being forced by her boss to arrange a romantic date with a visiting client just to keep him on side.

“I actually felt kind of unwell, physically, doing it. Honestly, I felt kind of pimped by my boss because I knew he was desperate for work from this client,” she said.

“I do find it quite paradoxical that as solicitors, as lawyers, our jobs are to stand up and advocate vigorously for people sometimes, but we don’t stand up for ourselves or colleagues.

“I think there is an aspect within law, where there is a very strong conformist push. There is a perception that you don’t want to rock the boat, I think it’s a very conservative field still.

“It feels like equity partners are untouchable … you really wouldn’t want to come up against an equity partner.

“I think the whole #MeToo movement is yet to hit the legal profession.”

She said this was why lawyers were often too scared to come forward.

The ABC has spoken to other lawyers who have also reported gender discrimination, unwanted sexual advances, open bias against pregnant women and lewd sexualised language.

But they couldn’t, or didn’t want to, be interviewed.

Michael Byrnes, a partner at Swaab Attorneys and specialist in workplace relations, said traditionally there had been a real tendency to protect those in powerful positions.

“In particular senior partners, who bring in enormous revenues or have a strong client base, who are important to the firm [are protected],” said Mr Byrnes, who has come across cases of sexual harassment in the legal profession.

“There can be a power imbalance that arises where young lawyers, junior lawyers, feel reluctant to raise complaints or issues about treatment they’ve been subject to, including sexual harassment.

“Without doubt there are still firms that sweep it under the carpet … and protect those who are in senior positions who might be engaging in misconduct of that kind.”

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By Barring a meteorological miracle, Hurricane Florence is on track to make landfall on the US east coast somewhere along South or North Carolina around Friday morning Australian time, reports the ABC’s chief foreign correspondent Philip Williams.

It’s packing winds of more than 200 kilometres an hour, and forecasters warn it threatens to create a storm surge that in some places will reach 4 metres high.

That’s easily enough to overwhelm many low-lying islands and beachfront areas.

While all that sounds bad, and it is, it may not be the worst of it.

Because the hurricane has travelled over warmer-than-usual ocean, it has accumulated vast volumes of moisture. And that means rain. Massive amounts.

It’s not the coast that could suffer the most, said Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Steve Goldstein.

“Once the storm does move inland, the inland flooding threat is extreme,” he said.

“Fifteen to 25 inches of rain is forecast, with up to 40 inches near the exact centre of Florence.”

By some calculations, more than a metre of rain could fall in places. A metre!

That’s up to an adult’s waist, across huge areas of already-waterlogged land.

But even if it’s “just” 30, 40 or 50 centimetres, that means serious flooding.

And unfortunately, the US has recent history with devastating inundation of cities and farms.

In August last year, Hurricane Harvey smashed into the Gulf State of Texas.

The winds and storm surge caused huge damage to coastal communities, but it was the flooding that created the greatest problems.

Like Florence, Harvey came laden with moisture. And instead of tracking quickly over the state, it virtually stopped over the Houston area.

For several days the torrential rain simply didn’t stop. In some areas, well over a metre of rain was dumped on flat land with limited drainage.

This daily news roundup has been curated with stories from ABC News.

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