Monthly Archives: January 2019

Heroes without a home

REBUILDING: Rachel Kerrigan, of Wallsend, served as an Air Force electrical engineer in Afghanistan in 2002, and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. She has faced losing her home twice recently. Picture: Simone De Peak.EIGHT years after returning from Afghanistan, barely in her 30s,Rachel Kerrigan tried to digestthe news thatshe’d never work again.
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Ms Kerrigan, of Wallsend, served asan Air Force electrical engineer inthe war’s infancy in 2002,and has suffered ever sincefrompost traumatic stress disorder. It finishedher career. She an honours graduateon a six-figure salary.

“People think it’s fantastic to be on a veteran’s pension, but I’m 38. I was told in 2010 that I’d never work again,” Ms Kerrigan said.

“I went from being busy all the timeto being home alone with nothing to do but think.”

The single mother to 12-year-old Kiara hasnearly lost herhometwice recently, andis part of a generation of young veterans in the Hunterbattlinghomelessness and the crippling effects of their service.

The sizeof the problem in the Hunter is unknown.

Self-fundedHomes for Heroes, whichprovided Ms Kerrigan withfinancial counselling, is nowhelping five unhoused veterans.

A 2009 Department of Veterans’ Affairs report found there were3000 homeless veterans across the country on any given night. Other estimates suggest that is conservative.

Homelessness NSWestimates that about one in10rough sleepers is aveteran, a figure that rings true forHomes for Heroes spokesmanTom Pulleine.

“If not more, going by the number of calls we get,” Mr Pulleinesaid.

More than 40,000 troops have been deployed to the Middle Eastsince the DVA report, meaning an updated estimatecould yield even more troublingresults.

Ms Kerrigan said she couldunderstand how someone’slife couldunravel.

Her experiences of warwere “not really different to anyone else’s; they involved guns, knives, people”.

Butthe condition they triggered left her withtwo disintegrated marriagesand a constant struggle to stay on top of mortgage payments, bills and rates. Herweight ballooned to 119 kilograms (she is back to 57 kg). She was taking 30 pills a day.

“For me, being in the military and serving my country was my identity – it defined who I was,” Ms Kerrigan said.

“When I lost the ability to put that uniform back on, to serve my country again,I lost who I was.”

At the urging ofher daughter, shetook part in a horse training program in 2013 with US-basedtrainer Sir Monty Roberts that she credits with restoring her self trust.

As shecontinues to manage her PTSD, Ms Kerrigan hopes to establish a version of Sir Monty’s horsetrainingfor veteransin the Hunter.

She recently took part in a bike ride withthe Hunter Valley Military Brotherhood to support a homelessveteran in Gosford.

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Telstra privacy breach leaves customer’s voicemail exposed

Melbourne dad Richard Thornton was the victim of a privacy breach. Photo: Richard Thornton
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When it was time to upgrade to the latest iPhone, Richard Thornton did what he had done many times before.

He wiped his old iPhone 5 with a factory reset, removed the SIM card, and sold the device second hand to a private buyer.

And then something “scary” happened. The buyer of the iPhone 5 contacted Mr Thornton to tell him he was receiving his personal Telstra voicemail messages.

“They told me, ‘One of your mates called about a gig you were doing for New Year’s Eve,” Mr Thornton, a Melbourne-based IT professional and musician, told Fairfax.

The new phone owner (also a Telstra customer, who wishes to remain anonymous), explained to Mr Thornton that when the iPhone 5 was powered off and then on again, it downloaded Mr Thornton’s voicemail messages to the phone’s inbuilt visual voicemail app, where he could then browse and listen to them in full.

Meanwhile, the new owner was not receiving notifications for his own voicemail, and had to ring up Telstra’s voicemail service manually to check them.

The serious privacy breach, which Mr Thornton detailed on his blog, has stumped both Telstra and Apple, although the responsibility appears to lie with Telstra rather than the iPhone maker.

Mr Thornton said Telstra gave him “the runaround” when he first notified them of the issue, telling him it was “impossible”.

“They said it can’t happen, you must have forgotten something,” Mr Thornton said.

“You mustn’t have reset your Apple ID, or you left your SIM in the phone [before you sold it].

“I thought, no, I work in IT – I kinda know what I’m doing here.”

A Telstra customer service representative told him his only option was to disable voicemail, Mr Thornton said.

After more than 24 hours trying to resolve the issue with Telstra customer service, a senior Telstra engineer apologised to Mr Thornton and confirmed what was already clear: two separate phones were accessing and downloading his personal voicemail.

“He [the engineer] had a direct line to Apple, and [when he told them about the issue] they said, ‘We don’t believe you’,” Mr Thornton said.

Telstra has now implemented a fix which rejects the old phone’s automatic requests to download Mr Thornton’s voicemails. However the telco has yet to determine the root cause of the problem.

“They know what the symptoms are but they don’t know what the cause is,” Mr Thornton said.

Replying to a post by Mr Thornton on Reddit, some suggested the problem may lie in Telstra’s visual voicemail using a mobile phone’s International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number for authentication. An IMEI is a unique number used to identify individual mobile devices.

However a Telstra spokesperson said the telco does not use IMEI numbers to authenticate visual voicemail.

Telstra is understood to not yet have been able to replicate the voicemail duplication issue, but is looking to analyse the individual iPhone 5 device to get to the bottom of the privacy breach.

“We are committed to protecting our customers’ privacy, keeping their personal information safe and ensuring the security of their data,” the Telstra spokesperson said.

It is unclear whether this type of problem has affected any other customers.

Mr Thornton said he was lucky the person who bought his iPhone 5 had been co-operative and forthcoming about the issue, but was worried about the implications for privacy-critical businesses such as law firms or medical and government organisations who resold their digital equipment.

He said he would “probably not” resell an old phone in the future, even though he’d done so three or four times in the past.

A recent Deloitte survey found 27 per cent of Australians give away their old mobile phones, while 8 per cent sell them.

Has something like this happened to you? Would you think twice before selling your old phone? Email us or reply in the comments below.

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Romeo Castelen’s quest for respect driving him to new heights at Western Sydney Wanderers

Romeo Castelen. Wanderers’ Romeo Castelen at training. Photo: Anthony Johnson
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It’s April 28, 2015. A Tuesday night and on the stage of the Rosehill Gardens’ Grand Pavilion, Romeo Castelen is accepting an award as the Western Sydney Wanderers members’ choice for player of the year.

Applause fills the room as the popular Dutchman makes his speech, but as he departs the microphone there is an awkward feeling inside.

“That was nice of the fans to give me that award but, honestly, it made me feel bad. I know that I didn’t actually play anywhere near my best,” he said. “People were saying ‘congratulations, well done’ but my only feeling is that I want to apologise. I arrived wanting to play better than that. I wanted [to] show that I am better. That I can explode.”

Returning to his table, Castelen vowed that the next season would change all of that.

“I wanted to give something more to the club, especially the fans, because they voted for me in this award and clearly they believed in me,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had that support, so I promised myself that I would come back and be the player who could really deserve that award.”

At 32, with a promising career tarnished by injuries and lapses of form, it didn’t seem likely. He wouldn’t be the first to think himself capable of greater deeds, only to be undone by an unwilling body.

“I didn’t come here to finish my career, sit on a beach, relax, enjoy the food and the sun,” he said. “I know people doubted me but I knew I could do it. My body was fine – this was not going to be the end for me. No way. I promise you, that is not in my character.

“I came here to win more things, to challenge myself, to find something different. I wanted to showcase my qualities and to show people what I can do. We can talk, sure, but the truth is always on the pitch.”

The flying winger has been good to his word. Last season’s fluctuations have been replaced by a model that mixes fury with finesse, leading ex-Socceroo-turned-pundit Mark Bosnich to anoint him the equal of any player in the league.

“When a champion like Mark Bosnich says that, you get even more motivated,” he said. “I’m really proud about it because it means that I’m doing what I promised myself that I would do. The only thing is that we are only half-way, and if he’s saying that at the end of the season, then it means we’ve probably won something.”

Nor does Castelen think that his age means he should be slowing down any time soon.

“I played on such a high level at Feyenoord and Hamburg, with such great players, you learn so much from those guys,” he said. “Physically, you might slow a little. But mentally, you’ve added so many qualities to your game. That’s where you can improve. It’s been hard for me over the years because of injuries but that’s in past now.”

Indeed, when talk of “injuries” is put to Castelen, especially regarding his form last season, his ears prick up.

“You know, I only missed four games through injury. That’s it,” he said. “The rest of the time is because I was being rested. I don’t want people thinking I missed games because I was breaking down. Everybody says to me about these injuries. It’s not true.”

And that, he explains, is why the whole team has gone from winning four games last season to competing for honours this time around.

“What was happening wasn’t just with me, it was everyone. We had that crazy schedule. It was impossible. You’re playing one game here, then again in Asia, and then you’re playing in Wellington or Perth. All in one week,” he said. “The coach [Tony Popovic] decided that we had to rotate the players every game because it was physically too difficult to play all these matches.

“In the end, you get no rhythm. We were on a high after the Champions League, like a cloud, but exhausted. This season, we can pick the best players for every game. We’re not rotating and you can see we have the understanding you need to play the style he wants.”

Heading into Saturday’s game against the Central Coast Mariners, the Wanderers are second – but winless in their last three games. They dominated last weekend’s Sydney derby, a match Castelen knows they should have won.

“Their players were coming up to me after the game and saying that we didn’t deserve to lose,” he said. “Of course we are disappointed – we were the team that dominated and in the end we got nothing. But it’s something to remember and learn from.

“The goal for us is to finish on top of the table and then be champions. Teams are going to analyse us, work out what we do and try to stop us. It’s not just Sydney who will play like this. But what we can do is just work harder and harder, until we make it.”

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Australia Day 2016: the barbecue goes low and slow

Celebrity chef Adam Liaw says today’s Aussie barbecue embraces global influences. Photo: Nic Walker Celebrity chef Adam Liaw says the modern Aussie barbecue embraces global influences. Photo: Nic Walker
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Australia Day recipes

Australia Day is approaching and as cooks all over the country prepare to fire up their barbecues in celebration, the burnt snag is definitely off the menu.

The Aussie barbecue has evolved. These days tong-wielding enthusiasts are embracing global influences, turning down the heat, and transforming the humble backyard barbie into another excuse to pit mate against mate in healthy competition.

“We’ve probably been brought up with the burnt sausage and well-done steak off the barbecue,” Australasian Barbecue Alliance co-founder and general manager Adam Roberts said. “Whoever was doing the barbecue probably said ‘That’s the way I like them’, when in reality they’ve just buggered it up.”

The alliance was formed to promote and develop traditional barbecue and meat-smoking culture, and is the sanctioning body for competitions such as The Big BBQ, being held on Australia Day at Parramatta Park. Its members advocate the “low and slow” style of barbecuing – less heat, more time – usually using smokers and wood-fire barbecues. It’s part culinary movement, part sport.

“It’s vastly different to chucking a steak or sausage on the barbie and burning it to a crisp,” Mr Roberts said. “You have a large piece of meat – a whole brisket, or the whole back end of a pig – cooking for a longer period of time. You end up with a much more tender, flavoursome piece of meat.”

Celebrity chef and Sunday Life columnist Adam Liaw​ said cooking over coals was another way to enhance the flavour of meat, and was increasingly popular as people looked to bring out the best in their barbecue.

“You’re seeing more emphasis put on the quality of meat and less on marinades,” the MasterChef winner said. “When I was growing up, there wasn’t a piece of meat that went onto the barbecue that wasn’t heavily marinated the day before.” 

Adam Liaw’s barbecued sausage in sauce recipe (see the recipe here). Photo: William Meppem

Liaw said he loved the simplicity of the Australian barbecue “and the fact that it does bring in other influences from around the world. You might have Asian salads on the side, you might have American-style barbecue sauces.”

Chef Ben O’Donoghue, author of The BBQ Companion and star of TV show Aussie Barbecue Heroes, said Australians had grown “more adventurous in terms of cuisines they’re doing on the barbecue”.

“People are putting together a culturally refined menu,” he said. “If they’re doing an American-style one they’ll do a funky slaw, a potato salad, sides that match the style of cuisine. Korean barbecue is very popular … [with] marinades and ferments.”

Food media and social media were also having an influence, he said. “There’s a greater competitive element to cooking these days,” he said. “Between mates, between friends, they’re having barbecue-offs.There’s some backslapping going on across social media.”

O’Donoghue said he loved lamb on Australia Day: “a whole leg of lamb tied in a swaddle of rosemary that’s been caressed on the inside with an olive tapenade and anchovies. That’s always a real winner”.

Sales of lamb lifted more than 35 per cent in the week before January 26 last year compared to the weekly average, no doubt helped by Meat and Livestock Australia’s annual Australia Day lamb ad, which this year sparked an avalanche of complaints with a scene in which a SWAT team torches a vegan’s kale.

Adam Liaw’s five Aussie barbecue tipsIt’s important to rest meat when it comes off the barbecue. Keep a resting tray next to the grill and scatter it with fresh herbs and olive oil to give the meat extra flavour while resting.Hit your potato salad with an umami punch by mixing in a few tablespoons of finely grated parmesan.Cook in courses. There’s no need to throw everything on the barbecue at once. I like to start with seafood, then other meats, before finishing with sausages. Cooking for a crowd? Try the reverse sear method for perfect steaks. Slow-cook a tray of steaks in the oven at 125°C for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 55°C for medium rare. Rest them well then finish them with a couple of minutes on the barbecue. Forget lemons, scrubbing with newspaper or ice. The best way to clean a barbecue is to let it burn on its highest heat for 10 minutes then brush it with a stiff wire brush.

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W-League: Canberra United captain Nicole Begg in rare goal-scoring form against Sydney FC

Defender by trade, Canberra United skipper Nicole Begg has been her team’s unexpected attacking weapon against Sydney FC this season. Photo: Graham TidyCanberra FC skipper Nicole Begg would normally need a map and a compass to scout the location of the goals.
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But the tenacious left back is on a mission for a third in as many games against Sydney FC this season to catapult the defending champions back into the W-League grand final.

After finding the back of the net just once in her first 76 games during the past seven years, Begg has tripled her career tally with goals in both of this season’s fixtures against the Sky Blues.

It’s a source of much amusement for the 24-year-old defender, who would love to continue her rare goal-scoring form in Sunday’s semi-final at McKellar Park.

“I never say no,” Begg said.

“I definitely look forward to getting out there and give it my best shot.

“It’s always nice to contribute that way.”

Begg’s goal in Canberra’s 3-0 win at home against the Sky Blues in round two was her first in almost four years.

But she didn’t have to wait anywhere near as long to get back on the scoresheet, pushing forward to fire the winner with the clock winding down for a 1-0 victory in the return clash in Sydney.

That put Begg in an unusual situation – challenging twin sister Ashleigh Sykes for the highest goal-scorer in the family.

Since then, Sykes has turned on the afterburners to fire home seven goals to show why she’s one of the most dangerous strikers in the W-League.

“She was a bit annoyed at the start of the year because we were level on goals at the start of the year and she was like, that’s a bit embarrassing, but it’s all good now,” Begg laughed.

“Ash started her goal-scoring career scoring solely against Perth and so I’m hoping if I continue scoring just against Sydney then I’ll score goals like Ash is right now.”

The next tall tale is how Begg’s pleas with United coach Rae Dower to play up the field go unanswered.

Goals are always a welcome bonus, but Begg’s true value to United is as a key cog of a water-tight defence.

United has conceded just eight goals from 12 games this season, with four of those coming in one game against the juggernaut that is Melbourne City.

United’s record is more imposing at McKellar Park, having not been breached in more than a year in a span of more than 600 minutes.

“We’ve started to get some really good gelling between the back four,” Begg said.

“At the start it was a bit rusty, we were leaking goals left, right and centre.

“But once we got that sorted out with Lydia (Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams) behind us, we’ve settled down a lot.”

Williams has been rewarded for her impressive form with a contract with US National Women’s Soccer League side Houston Dash, the same club which featured Canberra defender Ellie Brush.

W-League semi-final: Sunday: Canberra United v Sydney FC at McKellar Park, 2pm. Tickets available from the gate.

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