Cleveland welcomes The Gay Games

Wrestler and silver medallist at the Gay Games Fernando Serrano. Photo courtesy Fernando Serrano.



The 9th annual Gay Games were held in Cleveland Ohio, in the United States from 9-16 August. The games, which were first held in 1982, follow a similar format to the Olympics, featuring multiple sports and held every four years. The big difference between the two, however, is that anyone can join regardless of age, gender, skill levels, and most obviously sexual orientation. These games won’t have the same controversies which hung over the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. An “anti-gay” law that was passed in Russia in 2013 meant that the safety of LGBT athletes attending the Sochi games was not guaranteed.

Wrestler and silver medallist Fernando Serrano, 44, competed at the games for the first time, representing Australia. He spoke to Sydney TAFE Media about his experience.

How long have you been wrestling for, and how did you get into it?
I have done it for four years. I joined the club when I moved to Australia, for my PhD studies. I wanted to do something different to what I was used to. I never tried any sports before. I had quite bad experiences in PE during school and did not exercise properly until later in life. Moving to Australia was my chance to do different things. I also wanted to get to know new people. The Club offered me all those options: friends, a new sport I have never tried; something different to do than my studies. Wrestling is a sport in which challenge you. There is not team but just what you can do in the situation you are in. I like it, since it really moves me from my own comfort zone.

What do the Gay Games mean to you?
The chance to compete in an international arena, get to know other teams and to train with other clubs. It is also the chance to see what people do in other sports and how they combine the sense of community with the particular challenges of each sport. It is an event with a long tradition, and being part of it is also being part of the history of the ones who fought to make it possible.

Do you think the games are as important now, as they were when they commenced in 1982?
I could not answer that properly since I haven´t been before. I could say that now there is more space for making communities, and to fight for gay rights so the context in which the games were created has a chance. Still, it is important to have them since there is still discrimination in sports. Children and young men and women who do not fit in hegemonic models of gender and sexuality may be still excluded from sports. Gay Games are a safe space to compete, a goal to reach and a reminder that sports are also spaces in which people can be who they want to be.

What was it like seeing a team like Russia enter the stadium at the opening ceremony?
It was a very touching experience. Everybody stood up when they entered. They were excited to be here. It was special seeing them coming in here in the USA and being supported by all people, especially when you remember that just a few decades ago something like that would not be possible. Sport can be a space for challenging politics and breaking borders.

Have the people of Cleveland been welcoming?
Lots. It has been an amazing feeling. [They are] so welcoming. Walking on the streets, people ask where we come from, asking about the games and the sports, [and] wishing us good luck. When we got our medals we walked [around] with them and people stopped to say congratulations. That was amazing. Since it is a small city, the presence of the games can be seen everywhere. It is making a real impact here. I wonder if something like that would happen in a big city.


‘Living With the Enemy’, SBS

“One of the most explosive and moving episodes in the series.” Nick and Abraham in Episode 3: Immigration. Photo: SBS TV



Ever wondered what would happen if, for ten days, a Sudanese refugee lived with a pro-nationalist, or if a conservative Anglican minister shared a home with a recently married gay couple?

SBS will explore these and other scenarios in its new six part documentary series Living with the Enemy, set to air in September.

Tony Iffland, SBS Director of Television said, “Living with the Enemy confronts major issues by bringing together a provocative clash of beliefs, ideologies and personalities that will have audiences shouting at the television.”

In true wife swap style, the series will also have a conservative woman living with a heavy marijuana-smoking hippie, a vegan living with a hunter, a Muslim couple living with an ‘Aussie patriot’, and a former ‘boat person’ living with someone who wants him gone.

The series is being produced by Shine Media, responsible for SBS’ Emmy Award winning documentary series Go Back to Where You Came From.

Living with the Enemy will premiere on SBS One on Wednesday 3 September at 8:30pm.



Bloody business as usual

Brahmin cattle loaded for export, Townsville. Photo: writenq/flickr



In an industry deemed by Welfare Groups such as Animals Australia and the RSPCA to be the cruellest and unnecessary form of animal suffering imaginable, the global markets view seems more casual: it’s bloody business as usual.

An ongoing war of reason between farmers, politicians the public and animal welfare groups rages on, with an end to live export nowhere in sight.

Figures for the January – May 2014 quarter rose by 30,000 from the previous year. The increase is a result of the demand for larger and heavier Australian cattle for the Indonesian market. In March 2014, the government confirmed that live export to Egypt would resume under the guidance of the Exporters Supply Chain Assurance System(ESCAS), despite Egypt having a history of systemic animal cruelty which led to its suspension from the live trade in 2004 and 2008. Although it is already an established world leader in live exports, Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said Australia was seeking to open new markets. Australia’s meat industry is estimated at AUD$16 billion a year, with live exports making up a relatively small amount of the overall figure, bringing in approximately $800-$1 billion a year. Most farmers do not, or choose not to, export their animals alive. Domestic consumption and chilled meat exports contribute to the bulk of the industry.

The May 2011 the Four Corners expose on Indonesia, A Bloody Business, shocked and sickened the nation. Animals Australia had obtained live footage of the horrendous treatment and senseless cruelty inflicted on Australian cattle in Indonesian abattoirs. So overwhelming was the reaction from the Australian public for these doomed and defenseless animals the Gillard government was forced to act. All live trade to Indonesia was suspended pending an investigation into the undeniable horror. The turning point to reform within the live export trade and ESCAS was established.

Since the new reform system has been in place, little has changed for the treatment and safety of the animals exported live. Animals Australia continues to be a charity-sponsored watchdog, holding exporters accountable for breaches of the regulatory system by reporting its investigative evidence to the Minister for Agriculture. ESCAS remains a self-regulated system, placing the responsibility of the animals into the hands of their exporters. This allows exporters to push the envelope as far as they can in order to maximize returns, leaving the animals vulnerable and unprotected.

Many live sheep and cattle are still exported to unapproved ESCAS countries and facilities. Damning reports and video footage of unspeakable cruelty continue to be uncovered. The fight for these sentient creatures goes on.


$100K reward to find AC/DC manager’s killer

“Fun-loving, friendly and decent” – manager of AC/DC (left), and a police sketch of the man wanted for information relating to his death.



A $100,000 reward is being offered for any information that will lead to the capture of the murderers of AC/DC manager Crispin Dye.

The 41 year old was assaulted and robbed while out drinking in Surry Hills and Darlinghurst on December 23, 1993, and died in hospital two days later from major head injuries.

According to witnesses, three males of Pacific Islander appearance in their late teens were seen standing over the body and fled the scene heading towards Goulburn St.

The reward has been welcomed by Homicide Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Mick Willing. He said: “There are people out there who know those responsible for Mr Dye’s death and we’re hoping this reward may prompt them to get in touch with police.”

Dye, who has been described as a “fun-loving, friendly and decent man,” managed AC/DC for seven years before venturing off to create his own music. He was out celebrating the completion of his debut release A Heart like Mine on the night of his assault.

Anyone with information is being urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page:


Oh Captain, My Captain

He made us laugh and cry: beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams signs autographs for fans. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.



Robin McLaurin Williams was found dead this morning in his home in California. He was 63.

It is being reported that the hilarious and talented actor took his own life after suffering bouts of depression. In a statement, his publicist Mara Bauxbam said:  “This is a tragic and sudden loss.”

Robin’s wife Suzan Schneider has also spoken with media, saying: “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings.”

Robin’s Rise to fame was almost an accident. After appearing on the short-lived Richard Pryor Show as a credited cast member, in 1978 he was cast in a bit part on TV sitcom Happy Days. In his audition the relatively unheard-of stand up comedian entered the room wearing a crazy costume, including his now-famous rainbow suspenders and a pair of silly glasses. Asked to sit down “like an alien”, Robin walked to the chair and proceeded to sit on his head. He was immediately cast for the one-off part of Mork, a humanoid alien from the planet Ork. Due mainly to his talent and a mostly improvised appearance, it outrated most episodes that had been before it and a spin off was created – Mork and Mindy – in which Mork was the star.

Robin’s fast paced sense of humour and improvisation skills catapulted him to stardom. He did not, however, give up on the stand up side of comedy, with two of his most famous stand up routines “Off The Wall” and “An Evening with Robin Williams” being first televised in 1978 and 1982 respectively. In 1986 Robin hit the stage again with “Robin Williams: Live at the Met” and that year he also hosted the Academy Awards. His stand up and television roles continued throughout his career.

Robin’s first film appearance was in a movie that predated his fateful guest spot on Happy Days: a film called Can I Do It Till I Need Glasses?, released in 1977. As an actor he starred in Academy Award-winning films such as Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and Good Will Hunting (1997) where he also received the gong for Best Supporting Actor. His film roles were varied, from the award nominated performance as a teacher in Dead Poets’ Society to the fantasy character Peter Pan in Hook. Robin also lent his voice to characters such as The Genie in Disney’s Aladdin (1992), and more recently the animated hit by Australian co-op Kennedy Miller Productions, Happy Feet (2006), where he voiced the roles of Ramón and Lovelace.

Robin’s  light hearted humour and flamboyant improvisational style will be missed by fans the world over. He was a man who made generations of people laugh, just as much as he made them cry.

Further enquiries are being made into his tragic loss.

Robin Williams 21-7-51 ~ 11-8-2014

Support is available for those who may be distressed at Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

Monumental art for CBD

The sculptures, part of the transformation of Sydney’s main thoroughfare, George Street.
Photos: City of Sydney



Three brand new artworks by Australian and international artists will become permanent installations in Sydney’s CBD, costing up to $9 million and to be completed by 2017.

The artworks were selected by a panel appointed by the City of Sydney Council, who called out to artists from Australia and abroad, receiving nearly 700 entries from 25 countries.

The new art pieces will become part of the George Street transformation which will include a light rail service running through the pedestrian space.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said, “We’re delighted to announce such an exciting group of artworks by some of the world’s leading artists. I have no doubt they will become iconic landmarks of our city for today and future generations.”

Cloud Arch by Tokyo artist Junya Ishigami, a 50 metre high steel panel construction which curves in two directions, will be positioned in front of Sydney’s Town Hall.

An oversized 13.7 metre high milk crate called Pavilion by Sydney based artist Hany Armanious will sit in Belmore Park near Central Station.

British artist Tracey Emin’s The Distance of Your Heart features 60 homemade bronze birds perching on street posts and window sills through Bridge, Grosvenor and Kent Streets throughout the northern end of the CBD.

Sydney based art curator Barbara Flynn said, “With this selection of three of the greatest artists working in the world today, the City of Sydney achieves a balance of monumental and human scale in these artworks that will inspire people and add meaning to their lives.”


Report card: the course so far

Petersham TAFE’s Certificate IV class … sinking their teeth into journalism. Photo: Ed Brown



Twenty students have just experienced their first two weeks at Petersham TAFE in Sydney and are almost a day through their third. The course is Certificate IV Screen and Media (Journalism) and it is for people “who want to acquire knowledge and skills to pursue employment and/or further training in news media in the area of journalism,” as stated on the website. The course covers multiple parts of journalism, how to write both soft and hard stories, how to research for stories, the basics of interviewing and more.

The course is very multimedia, opening up various options for people who are not sure what kind of journalism they want to get into. It is also very accessible, as there are no entry requirements. Anybody and everybody can study here.

The feedback on the course has been positive. “So far I’ve enjoyed the course, yeah, quite involved in it. I’ve written about six stories so far,” says Paul, who is 24 years old. Paul has leapt right into news writing, with a growing collection of completed articles under his belt. “I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into journalism and actually getting out there with my work,” he said.

When it comes to parts of the course they really like, students say they like the social aspect of studying at TAFE. “What I enjoy the most is finding people that have the same interests as I do,” says Abdul, aged 18.

“The high point for me is getting to meet new people,” says Peter, who also thinks that the social aspect of the course is the best part.

Many of the students think they have learnt a lot so far, while some feel that they will need to wait a bit longer before saying that. “I think I’ve learnt a lot since I’ve started,” Abdul says.

“It makes me feel a lot more confident,” says Traudy, who also thinks she has a learnt a lot. Traudy was a bit scared of technology before starting, but now two weeks in she is feeling much better when it comes to using computers and various social media sites.

On a less positive front, some students admitted that they wished the course was a bit more practical, although there are practical parts of the course, such as radio class on Tuesdays, when the students practise interviewing each other. The positives strongly outweigh the negatives, however.

This group of Certificate IV students is definitely thinking about what they want to do after they have completed the six-month course. Some are considering doing the Diploma and going on to university. Others want try get work, and some just are not sure yet. “This is essentially a way of building a foundation in order to be a journalist,” George says.

All in all, the students are clearly enjoying themselves and are looking forward to the months to come.


Breaking news | August 4

Health workers prepare to treat patients who have contracted Ebola in Guinea. Photo: EC/ECHO/flickr


Ebola: Aussie travel warning


The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has partnered with the Department of Health to urge travelling Australians to reconsider visiting Sierra Leone, Liberia and/or Guinea due to the serious outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

Both Departments continue to issue regular updates on the government’s travel advisory website, and they remain in close contact with the international agencies monitoring the Ebola outbreak.

Due to the seriousness of the outbreak and the ongoing challenges of containing the disease, the Australian government is urging all Australians to familiarise themselves with the travel advice on the Department’s website. They ask travellers to register their details on smartraveller before departing Australia, and to contact their insurance provider to check the details of their coverage while travelling to West Africa.

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 700 people and has a death rate of 90 per cent.

Although Australia is providing more than $40 million annually to the World Health Organization (WHO) to support its work, a medical evacuation at this time is difficult to conduct.


More cheese, please


Police charged a 21-year-old man with assault at 5:20pm in a park on Wellington Road in Auburn yesterday after a fight broke out with him and a 41-year-old man over the amount of cheese on a gozleme.

The fight occurred where people had gathered for a cultural festival. The 41 year-old had purchased the gozleme at a food stall but returned a short time later upset that there wasn’t enough cheese.

An argument began after the 21 year-old food vendor tried to refund the man. Its believed the 21 year-old punched the older man, causing a cut to his left ear.

The 41 year-old was admitted to Auburn hospital and received five stiches to the wound. The 21 year-old was arrested and taken to Auburn Police Station.

He was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm by unlawful act. The man will face court on 26 August 2014.

Speedsters sprung speeding


Coffs Harbour highway patrol officers discovered a large haul of cash and drugs in a routine ticket stop for speeding on the Pacific Highway.

The Toyota Camry driven by the alleged offenders was pulled over for a routine traffic stop on Saturday after being clocked doing approximately 58km per hour over the 100km speed limit.

The driver, a 29 year old Chinese man originally from Hong Kong, was issued with an infringement notice for exceeding the speed limit before the police performed a search of the car and found what they believe was a large quantity of methyl amphetamine, or ‘ice’, worth an approximate street value of $218,000.

Police claim the driver of the vehicle and his 27-year-old passenger who is also from Hong Kong, were found in possession of the drugs and an amount of money totalling $290,000, a total of almost half a million dollars. Due to the quantities involved police have refused both men bail and charged them with supplying an indictable quantity of a prohibited drug and dealing with the proceeds of a crime.

The two men will appear in Grafton Local Court today where their charges will be heard by the magistrate.


Man bashed with pool cue


Police are investigating the circumstances behind the assault of a 26 year old man with a pool cue in the Eastern Suburbs on Sunday.

At about 1:25pm police were called to a hotel on Bondi Road after 2 men got into an argument and the 26 year old was hit in the head repeatedly with a pool cue.

Both men had fled the scene prior to the arrival of police at the scene. A short time later a 26 year old man received treatment for facial cuts and a broken finger.

Eastern Suburbs police are still investigating the matter. Police are urging anyone with information to contact crime stoppers on 1800 330 000.


Review: The Composer Is Dead!

“The Composer is Dead” … vibrant and perfectly crafted. Photo: Alexandra Talifero



‘The Composer is Dead’ is a fabulous murder-mystery story, written and composed as an orchestral presentation by Lemony Snicket and Nathaniel Stookey in 2006. It was principally designed as an entertaining, educational piece for children to learn about the world of traditional concert orchestras.