news

The Australian and international news stories you need to know today, Thursday October 22.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains descriptions of people who have died.

WA system 'failed' girl, 11, who took life.

The devastated family of an 11-year-old girl who took her own life in Western Australia believe she was left traumatised after her alleged rapist was granted bail.

The Noongar girl died in Perth Children's Hospital on Tuesday after being flown in from a regional town.

More than a hundred family members and loved ones had gathered at the hospital, some sleeping in their cars, to farewell her.

The 11-year-old took her life after her alleged rapist was granted bail. Image: Facebook. 

Her death came just weeks after a man accused of sexually abusing her was arrested and granted police bail which was later renewed in court.

The elderly man, who is yet to enter a plea, is facing almost a dozen charges including sexual penetration of a child under 13 and indecent dealing.

National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project (NSPTRP) director Megan Krakouer, who has been with the girl's family in hospital, said they were shattered.

"Their lives are ruined and they are forever heartbroken," she told AAP. "She was failed by a number of organisations and a number of departments.

"What I did see at that hospital is there were so many little children crying and hurting. It broke my heart."

Health Minister Roger Cook said he expected there to be a government investigation into what he described as a tragic event, and is focusing on delivering culturally tailored suicide prevention strategies in Aboriginal communities.

ADVERTISEMENT

Advocates say it isn't working.

"We are meeting and reaching families that aren't being provided that support," Ms Krakoeur said, adding that NSPTRP had assisted 12,500 people since September.

"Right now in its current form, it is failing dismally and left behind are my First Nations people."

Anyone needing support is urged to contact beyondblue (1800 22 4636) or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If this post brings up any issues for you, you can contact Bravehearts (an organisation providing support to victims of child abuse) here.

NSW Police bust alleged $500k daycare scam.

Thirteen people have been charged after police busted an alleged family daycare scam in south-west Sydney that defrauded up to $500,000 of taxpayers' money.

Nearly 20 properties were raided on Wednesday following an investigation into coordinated fraudulent activities targeting family daycare operations.

Among the 13 people charged were a 46-year-old woman arrested in Guildford and a 29-year-old man arrested at a home in Blair Athol, said to have directed the scam. They were both charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud.

ADVERTISEMENT

Police will allege the pair were the silent directors of a company which fraudulently claimed to provide family day care services in order to successfully apply for government subsidies to the value of $500,000.

This allegedly included $138,000 from the COVID-19 stimulus package to support the childcare sector, police said.

State Crime Commander assistant commissioner Stuart Smith said the alleged crimes committed were the product of a "sophisticated and extremely organised" criminal syndicate.

Inquiries continue and further arrests are expected, police said.

Police have dismantled a criminal syndicate that allegedly defrauded up to $500,000 worth of taxpayers' money through a family daycare scam. Image: AAP/NSW Police. 

Bathurst 1000 race alert as virus rules eased.

ADVERTISEMENT

A coronavirus alert has been issued for anyone who attended the Bathurst 1000 motor race on the weekend plus local residents after COVID-19 traces were found in the city's sewage.

NSW Health is urging Bathurst residents and anyone who worked at or attended the race to get tested if they show even mild symptoms of the virus and to remain in isolation until a negative result is received.

"NSW Health is urgently undertaking investigations, which include reviewing lists of all those known to have had the virus who attended or worked at the race," it said in a statement on Wednesday night.

The alert came as more virus restrictions were lifted in the state.

Easing restrictions at places of worship and gyms in NSW will aid the "body and soul", NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said.

Congregations up to 300 will be allowed at places of worship from Friday, staffing at gyms will also be relaxed, with a COVID safety marshal only required when more than 20 people are working out.

NSW recorded two new cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 - both linked to known clusters - while testing rates doubled overnight.

ADVERTISEMENT

First COVID-19 reinfection being investigated in Victoria.

Victoria could have Australia's first COVID-19 reinfection, one of only a handful recorded worldwide during the pandemic.

Health authorities are to make a final determination but are treating the Melbourne man as a new case, rather than him shedding the virus he first caught in July.

Deakin University's Professor Catherine Bennett said it was the right call to err on the side of caution and manage the case as if it is an active infection.

Premier Daniel Andrews has also confirmed an inquiry into the state's flawed hotel quarantine program had asked him to answer some questions after Tuesday's extraordinary hearing.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton has also been asked to provide a new statement to the inquiry after emails emerged contradicting his earlier testimony about when he learned the program was using private security contractors.

On Wednesday, Victoria reported no deaths and only three new cases. COVID alerts have been issued for five Melbourne suburbs, including a social housing tower after a single positive case was recorded at a school in Preston.

Victoria is poised to unveil further rule easing originally slated for November 2 on Sunday, after six straight days with new cases below five.

AstraZeneca vaccine trial volunteer dies.

Brazilian health authority Anvisa says a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University has died but adds that the trial will continue.

ADVERTISEMENT

Oxford confirmed the plan to keep testing, saying in a statement that after careful assessment "there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial".

Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported that the volunteer had been given a placebo and not the trial vaccine, citing unnamed sources.

Anvisa provided no further details, citing medical confidentiality of those involved in trials.

AstraZeneca declined immediate comment.

The Federal University of Sao Paulo, which is helping coordinate phase 3 clinical trials in Brazil, separately said the volunteer was Brazilian without revealing where the person lived.

AstraZeneca shares fell 1.7 per cent.

QLD political leaders on final campaign stretch with opposition floating 'youth curfew' policy.

Queensland's major party leaders have gone to opposite ends of the state as the October 31 state election day looms.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is in Cairns on Thursday, where she could make an expected announcement about further protection for the Great Barrier Reef.

Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington is in the southeast. She has already pledged to widen 1450km of the existing Bruce Highway to four lanes, and announced a controversial plan to deal with crime in the state's north, with the trial of a youth curfew.

ADVERTISEMENT

About one in three Queensland voters will cast their votes before polling day, with 360,000 pre-poll votes already cast.

Pope Francis endorses same-sex civil unions for the first time.

Pope Francis has endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope in the feature-length documentary Francesco, which premiered on Wednesday.

Francis is interviewed about the environment, poverty, migration, racial and income inequality, and the people most affected by discrimination.

"Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God," he says.

"What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered."

ADVERTISEMENT

While he had previously endorsed civil unions for gay couples as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he had never done so publicly as pope.

Around the world.

- Aussie golfer Adam Scott has tested positive for coronavirus in Las Vegas.

- US Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden has dismissed corruption allegations levelled against his family by President Donald Trump as a "last-ditch effort in this desperate campaign to smear me and my family."

- UK debt is the highest it has been since 1960, with government borrowing six times higher than it was last year. 

- Spain's coronavirus cases passed one million, making it the first country in western Europe to reach the grim milestone.

- With AAP

Feature image: Facebook/NSW Police/Daniel Kalisz/Getty

 Are you a Grandmother, Mum with a bub or a Mum to be? We want to hear from you. Take our quick feedback survey now. 

MMSurvey


00:00 / ???