Sunday's news in under 5 minutes.

Here are today’s top stories.

1. Hundreds have gathered for a memorial picnic to pay tribute to Stephanie Scott.

Hundreds of people gathered in the New South Wales Town of Leeton yesterday to remember murdered school teacher Stephanie Scott on the day that would have been her wedding day.

Ms Scott’s family and fiancé Aaron Leeson-Woolley were joined by friends and hundreds of community members for a memorial picnic.

Hundreds gather to remember Stephanie Scott.

In a moving tribute punches of yellow helium balloons were released into the sky.

Ms Scott’s father Robert said the family had been comforted by the outpouring of support.

“Thanks very much to the people from Leeton and everywhere else today for coming up to this park to have a picnic lunch together to celebrate the life of our beautiful daughter,” he said.

“It’s been most helpful in helping us to have some degree of closure on her life and as my daughter put on Facebook, unfortunately she was taken away from us for a short time but now we’ve got her back and we’ll restore her dignity and that’s most important to her family and it will also assist those that knew her to deal with this tragedy.

“Stephanie was a bubbly, bright, witty, intelligent, fun-loving girl and a young woman who obviously has impacted on many people here today.

“Our wishes for the future are that that will continue in your minds, [that] you remember her as the girl she was and I’m sure, wherever she is now, she would wish that to be the case.”

See images from yesterday’s moving community gathering organised by Stephanie Scott’s family here:

2. Russell Brand asks fans to help save Bali Nine duo.

Outspoken british comedian Russell Brand has tweeted his support for convicted Australian drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran who are due to be executed in Indonesia in coming weeks.

Brand expressed his support for the ‘Mercy Campaign’ to save the pair and called on fans to get behind it.

Russell Brand.

The tweet reads: “These Aussie blokes are going to be killed soon for a bit of daft drug smuggling (they’ve done 10 yrs already) HELP!”

It also contained a link the campaign’s website where people can view a video that includes interviews with the duo and sign a petition calling for clemency.


3. The Catholic Church set aside $150 million for abuse claims, years ahead of admitting the problem.

The Catholic Church created a multi-million dollar fund to compensate victims of sexual abuse years before ever acknowledging the problem, The Sunday Age reports.

The church now has as much as $150 million set aside to cover existing and future claims of abuse — more than three times the amount it has paid victims to date.

George Pell had previously said he was aware of only “dozens of complaints” of abuse.

The figure is likely to rise as more victims are identified by the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

According to internal documents accessed by Fairfax, the church’s insurance company Catholic Church Insurance Ltd (CCI) had warned Australia’s bishops the church may be required to pay compensations for sexual abuse as early as 1988 — more seven years before they established victim assistance programs.

The revelations raise questions about Cardinal George Pell’s knowledge of the the extent of abuse after he told the Royal Commission in 2014 that he was aware of only “dozens of complaints” when the Melbourne Response was created in 1996.

4. Childcare rebates could be denied to anti-vaccination parents under new Federal Government laws.

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children will miss out on government benefits of up to $15,000 per child under a new measure announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Under current laws, families with children who are not immunised can still receive annual childcare rebates and other benefits if they have a personal, philosophical or religious objection.

Coalition announces new “no jab, no pay” policy to combat anti-vaxxers.

Mr Abbott said the rules would now be tightened to only allow a small number of religious and medical exceptions, but he would not say how much the move was likely to save.

“This is essentially a ‘no jab, no pay’ policy from this government,” Mr Abbott said.

“It’s a very important public health announcement, it’s a very important measure to keep our children and our families as safe as possible.”

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison said he only expected a very small number of families to be exempted from the government’s new “no jab, no pay” policy.

Mr Morrison said parents seeking a religious exception would need to be registered with their church or similar organisation.

“That’s the only basis upon which you can have a religious exception, and there are no mainstream religions that have such objections registered so this would apply to a very, very small proportion of people,” he said.


“It’d be lucky to be in the thousands, if that.”

This article was originally published by ABC online

5. Richie Benaud’s family declines Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s offer of state funeral


The family of cricketer Richie Benaud has declined Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s offer of a state funeral to honour the cricketing legend.

Benaud died this week at the age of 84, after a storied career as one of cricket’s greatest players, captains and commentators.

Richie Benaud.

Mr Abbott said on Friday Benaud’s death was “the greatest loss for cricket since the loss of Don Bradman” and as such it was appropriate he be offered a state funeral.

But Benaud’s widow Daphne phoned Canberra on Saturday to kindly decline the offer of a state funeral.

“I thought it was important that as a mark of the respect that we have long had for him that we should offer a state funeral,” Mr Abbott told reporters on Sunday.

“But my understanding is that Richie’s own wishes were for something very, very quiet, and something very, very private.”

He will be remembered this week with a private gathering attended only by his immediate family.

This article was originally published by ABC online

6. World Health Organisation issues warning over c-sections.

Women should only give birth by caesarean sections when medically necessary according to a statement issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday.

The global health body said that the “ideal rate” of caesarean births was between 10 per cent and 15 per cent and unnecessary operations may be “putting women and their babies at risk of short and long-term health problems”.

“Caesarean section may be necessary when vaginal delivery might pose a risk to the mother or baby – for example due to prolonged labour, foetal distress, or because the baby is presenting in an abnormal position,” the statement said.

“However, caesarean sections can cause significant complications, disability or death, particularly in settings that lack the facilities to conduct safe surgeries or treat potential complications.”