We’ve rounded up all the latest stories from Australia and around the world – so you don’t have to go searching.
1. More information revealed from eight-year-old boy locked in a drug house.
The eight-year-old boy who was found by police on a property being investigated for drug-related offences, has spoken to police about his alleged experiences.
According the Sydney Morning Herald, the boy was found severely neglected, being fed only some muesli bars and chips and no water for days on end. When police found him, the boy had allegedly been locked in the shed for two to three weeks.
Sources claim that the boy’s stepfather first locked him the shipping container for being “naughty” and behaving inappropriately. The container, which had been converted with walls on the inside, was only 2 metres squared in area, with the with the child just having access to a thin mattress and an old paint tin for a toilet.
It is alleged that after first being locked up during the September/October school holidays, he was only allowed out to work on the farm and during school times.
The eight-year-old boy was first found locked in his home just a few weeks ago when police searched the property for the cultivation for large quantities of cannabis.
However, it wasn’t the first time that authorities had been called to the house in regards to children’s welfare. General duties police had has previously visited the property after it was reported the child was missing school in November, although nothing alarming was found at the time in regards to the children’s welfare.
The boy’s 26-year-old mother and her fiancee, 28, have been charged with detaining a person with intent for financial advantage.
2. Great Ocean Road residents begin to return to homes after Christmas Day fire.
ABC News is reporting that residents have begun returning to their homes that were destroyed during a devastating fire on Christmas day.
Buses are transporting residents of Wye River to their properties to assess the damage, whilst those from Separation Creek were given tours of their area yesterday afternoon.
— 7 News Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) December 26, 2015
The Country Fire Authority (CFA) has confirmed that at least 116 homes were destroyed in the fires, where 98 homes burned at Wye River and 18 at Separation Creek. The bush fire warning in many areas has been downgraded, however the CFA is still warning the fire will continue to burn for weeks, with more fires expected in the new year.
“It’s been an exceptionally dry year with the El Nino event, and the worst fire conditions will probably be see in January and February, and that’s why we’re working really hard to consolidate this fire now,” said deputy incident controller Mark Gunning.
The State government is offering emergency relief grants of up to $1,300 and $32,500 for re-establishment.
The fire was first ignited after a lightening strike last weekend, and has since burned over 2,200 hectares of land.
3. Report: social media jeopardising witness protection programs.
An exclusive Australian report, A Critical Examination of Witness Protection in Australia, has issued major concerns about social media’s role in witness protection programs.
Author of the report, Dr Phil Kowalick, a former Australian Federal police officer and the AFP’s National Witness Program (NWPP), warns that tagging features on social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, are incredibly dangerous to the protection of witnesses.
In the report Dr Kowalick writes, “This is a new threat to the safety and security of participants that defies a legislated solution because of the unregulated and global nature of the internet.”
— matt levinson (@matt_levinson) December 26, 2015
The unregulated and global nature of the internet Dr Kowalick refers is most specifically tagging faces in images and new facial recognition softwares, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Whilst witnesses may be able to alter their identity in a new name, it cannot prevent chance photographs of them being posted online, Dr Kowlack warns.
“If the participant had a presence in the old name, their new name and subsequently their location could be discovered through a change photograph being posted online and both instances of the person’s photograph being matched up.”
The AFP has stated they are prevented from commenting on the issue as it relates to witness protection, however, in their 2014-15 annual report on witness protection, it found there were “fewer than four avoidable incident per 5000 protection hours”.
4. Road toll increases to 17 in the first five days of the holiday season.
A single vehicle crash near Narrabri, in north-west NSW, caused the deaths of two people at the scene, with three being treated by emergency services.
A number of other incidents have occurred around the nation, with a 26-year-old man dying in a two-car crash on the Burnett Highway, and a motorcyclist losing his life at Mount Nebo, Queensland.
Two pedestrians, a 78-year-old woman and another female, were both killed in separate incidents yesterday.
The Northern Territory is the only region yet to record in fatalities on the road.
The holiday season road toll count runs from the 23rd December 2015, to the 4th January, 2016.
5. Brisbane’s Indigenous high school students first to ‘close the gap’
By: ABC News
Indigenous high school students in Brisbane are graduating at the same rate as non-Indigenous students, making the Queensland capital the first to close the gap in Australia.
The Queensland Government has reported more than 98 per cent of Indigenous students, or 268 people, successfully completed Year 12 in Brisbane, compared to 94 per cent of non-Indigenous students, or 7,105 people.
Across the state, 94 per cent of Indigenous students, or 1,753 people, got their leaving certificate compared to 95 per cent non-Indigenous, or 26,644 people.
Last year, 86 per cent of Indigenous state school students successfully completed Year 12.
That means an extra 209 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students graduated high school, up to 1,753 from 1,544 in 2014.
Education Minister Kate Jones said more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students had successfully completed Year 12 than ever before.
“Here in Brisbane when it comes to Year 12 attainment we have well and truly closed the gap,” she said.
“We know that a quality education transforms lives so closing the gap on Year 12 attainment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is crucial.”
Ms Jones said there was still more to be done to improve Year 12 retention rates.
For Indigenous students, the number of Year 10s who go on to complete Year 12 increased from 64.3 per cent in 2014 to 66.7 per cent in 2015, however that was well behind the retention rate of 83 per cent for non-Indigenous students.
“We are working hard to turn this around by providing additional help from Year 11 to support students through the senior years of school,” Ms Jones said.
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This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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