'Legal savage' in a fight for secularity

IT WAS all too much for Ron Williams. The father of six had agitated for years about the presence of religious teaching in state schools. He had fired off letters of complaint about John Howard's national school chaplaincy program and conveyed his concerns in person to two education ministers and their departmental heads.

Sins of the fathers still haunt abuse victims

THERE'S a man walking around Ballarat with a haunted look in his eyes. His disposition is gentle but he's a tortured soul, attacked by demons he often cannot control. He sometimes cries in the streets when he sees happy children. He's also an alcoholic and dysfunctional, and he talks to the dead.

On Monday, as many in Ballarat prepare for a momentous day in their troubled lives, this man, who wants to be anonymous with the pseudonym Steven, will be talking to the dead again, moving from grave to grave in the local cemetery, whispering a message he has waited a long time to deliver.

Storm over rabbi's email

ONE of Australia's most prominent Jewish leaders has been slammed for questioning whether child molestation should be immediately reported to police in the wake of the Yeshivah College scandal.

Rabbi Yosef Feldman has stood down as president of the Rabbinical Council of NSW ''to clear his name'', after his comments in an email, reported in the Australian Jewish News, provoked outrage.

Suicide inquiry won't shed light: bishop

AN INDEPENDENT inquiry into dozens of suicides among victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests and brothers in Victoria would achieve little, a Catholic bishop says.

Police investigating the case of convicted paedophile Brother Robert Best believe at least 26 victims of sexual abuse at schools in which he taught have committed suicide. One of the investigating officers wants a parliamentary inquiry to investigate the deaths.

''If it helps the victims I'd be more than happy for it to go ahead,'' Bishop of Ballarat Peter Connors said.

Call to import 'peaceful pill'

EUTHANASIA campaigner Philip Nitschke has asked federal health authorities to import ''the peaceful pill'' Nembutal for six dying patients who want to use it for sedation.

The head of Exit International has applied through the Therapeutic Goods Administration Special Access Scheme, which is used by doctors to source drugs that are unavailable in Australia for seriously ill patients.

Dr Nitschke has asked the TGA to approve 100 100-milligram tablets for each patient so they can take a safe dose of one tablet nightly for three months. He said he was not trying to aid or abet suicide.

Double-edged sword

There are two sides to distrust between the West and the Islamic world.

''There's an osmosis in war,'' declares the once idealistic army lieutenant Hearn in Norman Mailer's classic novel The Naked and the Dead. ''Call it what you will, but the victors always tend to assume the . . . the, eh, trappings of the loser.''

Sex abuse led to 26 suicides says policeman

AS MANY as 26 Victorians have committed suicide after being abused by two notorious paedophile clergymen, according to information gathered by a senior Victorian detective.

In interviews with a university researcher, Detective Sergeant Kevin Carson of the Ballarat Crimes Investigation Unit has revealed that during his investigations into Father Gerald Risdale and Christian Brother Robert Best - which led to both being convicted - he discovered that up to 24 young men had killed themselves in the years after they were abused by one or both of the men.

Labor's Right slams gay reform

MORE ALP right-wingers, including a factional convener, have spoken out against liberalising the party's stand against gay marriage, as senior Labor figures are trying to contain a potentially distracting fresh outbreak of the debate.

Don Farrell, one of the Right's conveners and a parliamentary secretary, said Labor should stick with its present opposition to same-sex marriage.

This followed New South Wales backbencher John Murphy, from the Right, this week strongly opposing change.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/labors-right-slams-gay-reform-20110727...

Law firm offers free advice on sex-abuse claims

PROMINENT human rights lawyer George Newhouse has offered to give free legal advice to alleged victims of sexual abuse at Yeshivah College over whether they can sue for damages.

Mr Newhouse and Shine Lawyers - who have acted for dozens of people in high-profile sex abuse cases against the Anglican Church - have assembled an expert team to work with the alleged victims in the Jewish community.

Mr Newhouse said the legal team was separate from any criminal proceedings that might arise.

Call for clarity over breaches by school chaplains

THE Commonwealth Ombudsman has called on the federal government to clarify what actions breach the ban on school chaplains trying to convert students.

In a report released yesterday, Commonwealth Ombudsman Allan Asher said the federal Education Department must improve its management and oversight of the controversial national school chaplaincy program.

He made eight recommendations including a clarification of what constitutes proselytising, minimum qualifications for chaplains and protocols for complaints.

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