News in 5: Grieving mum's message to bullies; Cricket scandal continues; Aussies reject flu vaccine.

Warning: This article contains information about bullying and suicide which may be distressing for some readers.

1. “I saw her messages too late.” Grieving Gold Coast mum’s message to bullies after her 13-yo daughter took her own life.

After months of online, physical and verbal abuse, 13-year-old Gold Coast student Emily Stick decided her only escape was to end her own life.

She tried calling her mother, Sharlene Scott, and eventually sent a message that read, “I’m going to kill myself”.

Speaking to Nine News, Sharlene said she didn’t see her daughter’s messages until it was “already too late”.

Video via Channel 9

She said she felt “sick to her stomach” when she realised what had happened, and said she felt like a “hopeless parent” after her daughter – who she described as “fun-loving and caring” – ended her life in February.

Sharlene said her daughter was relentlessly tormented, at times hiding out in her school’s toilets to avoid going to class and seeing her bullies.

“She couldn’t escape it, they followed her everywhere,” she told Nine News.

“She had a couple of girls tell her they were going to bash her until she wasn’t breathing any more. Thirty of them tried to attack her – male and females.

“She was too scared to even go to the bus stop.”

Emily Stick bullying suicide
13-year-old Emily Stick took her own life last month. Image via 9 News.

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding Emily's death, but her family doesn't believe any criminal charges will be laid.

"I hope they're happy. I hope they feel good about themselves," Sharlene said, in a message to her daughter's tormentors.

"What did she do so bad that you just had to keep bullying her to the point that she took her own life?"

Emily's aunt, Belinda Watson, added that while the main bully "seemed remorseful" after Emily's death, "bursting into tears and said it was her fault", others simply laughed "like it was a big joke".

Emily's death is the latest in a string of suicides that have reignited the national conversation around bullying, especially online.

Today, a senate inquiry is expected to come to a decision about whether bullies should attract tougher criminal charges for cyber abuse.

"Emily's not the first child and probably won't be the last at all and we need to stop it somehow," Belinda Watson said.

If you or someone you know needs help you can call Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyondblue 1300 224 636.

2. Disgraced Australian cricketers sent home over ball-tampering, while coach is cleared.

Steve Smith airport
Australian cricketer Steve Smith at Cape Town International Airport. Image via Getty.

Darren Lehmann remains coach, but disgraced Australian cricketers Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft will soon return home from South Africa as the fallout continues from the ball-tampering bombshell.

Cricket Australia (CA) will finalise sanctions for Smith, Warner and Bancroft within the next 24 hours. The trio have been reported for breaching CA's code of conduct.

Smith's hold on the captaincy is extremely tenuous, with CA chief executive James Sutherland noting "it's not appropriate at this stage" to comment whether Smith can ever lead the team again.

Warner will almost certainly be stripped of the vice-captaincy. The opener may have played his last game for Australia.

Bancroft is also facing a long ban, having carried out a premeditated plan to illegally scuff the ball during the third Test in Cape Town.

CA's investigation is ongoing but all other players, coaches and support staff have been cleared by CA's head of integrity Iain Roy.

Roy conducted a series of interviews in Cape Town alongside two International Cricket Council (ICC) integrity officers. It's understood Warner suggested other members of the team were aware of the ploy.

Sutherland announced an independent review into the team's conduct and culture, but indicated Lehmann will continue to coach "under his current contract". That deal runs until the end of the 2019 Ashes.

"No other players or support staff had prior knowledge. This includes Darren Lehmann," Sutherland said.

"Darren Lehmann has not offered to resign as far as I'm aware. Certainly not to me."

Sutherland signalled his organisation's intent to throw the book at Smith, Warner and Bancroft.

"We are contemplating significant sanctions in each case. These sanctions will reflect the gravity with which we view what has occurred and the damage it has done to the standing of Australian cricket," CA's long-standing boss said.

"I fully understand the appetite for urgency for more detail.

"However, urgency must be balanced with due process given the serious implications for all involved."

CA's board has appointed Tim Paine the nation's 46th Test captain, with the Tasmanian keeper to lead a new-look XI in the fourth Test against the Proteas that starts on Friday.


Sutherland refused to acknowledge any of his players cheated despite repeated questions, also expressing confidence their misdeed was a one off.

"The feeling from Iain from his review is that it's an isolated incident," he said. "I certainly hope it's an isolated incident."

3. Coroner rules death of a Sydney toddler was preventable after he drowned in a makeshift backyard pool.

One-year-old Braxton Slager drowned in September 2014. Image via Seven News.

The parents of a toddler who drowned while in foster care say the NSW child protection system "stinks" and change must be made to prevent further deaths after the handing down of the coroner's findings at the inquest into their son's death, AAP reports.

Vanessa Naumovska and Johnny Slager broke down as they remembered their son, Braxton Slager, who was found floating in the swimming pool by his foster mother in 2014.

"The whole system stinks, something needs to be done about it for the little kids that are still in care now," Johnny Slager said outside the Glebe Coroners Court on Tuesday.

"My kid is gone and I spew about that. I really love him and I miss him so bad but he's gone."

The 22-month-old died in September 2014, three weeks after he was placed with a western Sydney family by a government-contracted, out-of-home care provider.

Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame said Braxton's case highlighted "systematic problems".

"The failings strike at the heart of the way we care for the most vulnerable children in this community," she said in her findings.


Ms Grahame said Braxton should not have been placed in the care of Julie Tarlinton and Greg McBride, who were already looking after two other foster children when he arrived in August 2014.

One of them, a nine-year-old boy, suffered intellectual disability, while the home was unsafe.

The backyard pool in which Braxton Slager drowned. Image via Seven News.

The coroner found the couple's pool was unregistered with the local council, failed to comply with safety standards and was effectively unfenced - something Life Without Barriers, the provider contracted by the Department of Family and Community Services, should have spotted, she said.

The presence of the antihistamine Cyproheptadine in Braxton's blood following the autopsy was also "extremely troubling".

If the drug was taken accidentally it indicated poor supervision, but if was given to the child in an attempt to make him sleep or quieten down, it was even more serious, she said.

Ms Grahame said Life Without Barriers' process for choosing suitable foster carers and providing support to carers had failed.

The agency had not completed a formal check of Ms Tarlinton's and Mr McBride's home since September 5, 2012.

"Tragically, a child who went into care to improve his chance of living in a safe environment, found himself in a situation of enormous risk," she said.

"His death appears to have been a preventable accident, which occurred against a background of inadequate care."


4. More than half of all Australians plan to go unvaccinated against the flu this winter.

High School Vaccination

Only half of Australians plan to vaccinate against influenza this year, despite NSW suffering through one of its worst seasons last year, AAP reports.

About 55 per cent of Aussies don't intend to vaccinate before the upcoming flu season, a poll commissioned by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has found.

The survey of 1000 people has also revealed Australian adults are often misinformed about the virus, which kills about 3,000 people across the nation each year.

Around three out of four people (77 per cent) aren't aware the disease can remain active when airborne for more than 45 minutes, the poll released on Tuesday showed.

It has also found more than half (57 per cent) of Australians mistakenly think they are at a low risk of contracting the flu.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia president George Tambassis said the flu virus can affect even fit and healthy people, and vaccinating against the disease is the best way for people to protect not only themselves but the broader community.

"Flu vaccinations promote community immunity," Mr Tambassis said in a statement on Tuesday.

"If enough people are vaccinated against the infection, they can help protect those unable to be vaccinated, including immunocompromised/sick, or very young infants."

NSW recorded more than 100,000 cases of influenza notifications last flu season - one of the busiest since the 2009 pandemic.


Almost one in two baby boomers were vaccinated last year while less than a third of millennials had the jab, the guild's survey showed.

5. One in three Australian Facebook users may have had their phone calls and text messages spied on by the social media giant.

Facebook under fire. Image via Getty.
Facebook under fire. Image via Getty.

One in three Australians may have had their phone and text messages spied upon by social media giant Facebook, The Courier Mail reports.

The social media network is facing worldwide scrutiny after it was reported data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica had used information gleaned from hundreds of millions of Facebook profiles to try and influence how Americans voted in the 2016 US election.

Now, Mark Zuckerberg's company has confirmed it also recorded the phone calls and personal messages of many of its users. With more than half of Australia's population using Facebook, as many as 8.2 million Aussies may be affected.

Information collected include details of every mobile phone call made - even those not made through Facebook - as well as the duration, time and identity of the calls. Data about texts was also collected, including where they were sent and received.

In response to the latest allegations, Facebook says users "expressly agreed" to handing over the information as part of the site's privacy policy and the data collection was designed to help users have a "better experience" online.

Earlier this week, Facebook's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg took out full-page ads in multiple US and British newspapers, saying the social media platform doesn't deserve to hold personal information if it can't protect it.


"This was a breach of trust, and I'm sorry we didn't do more at the time. We're now taking steps to make sure this doesn't happen again," the ads said.

Zuckerberg closed the ads by saying: "I promise to do better for you."

Facebook's stock value has dropped more than $US70 billion since the revelations were first published.

6. Adorable animal news: Perth Zoo’s newest baby giraffe makes her public debut.

A baby giraffe has kicked up her heels in front of a crowd at Perth Zoo as she was finally introduced to her adoring public for the first time.

Keeping close to first-time mum Kitoto, the 20-day-old calf timidly emerged into the zoo's giraffe enclosure before the urge to play had her racing circles around the pen.

She is the first giraffe born at the zoo since 2012 and will be named via a competition, which has received more than 700 applications.

According to Nine News, the competition closed last night and organisers are planning to go with a name that reflects the little giraffe's heritage.

"We are going for something with an African origin and some type of meaning, that’s important to us, just to reflect where she’s come from," senior zookeeper Kaelene McKay told Nine News.

Speaking to AAP, McKay said the new calf is vital to the Australasian breeding program, with giraffe numbers in the wild dropping 40 per cent in the past 30 years.

Fewer than 80,000 are left on the African plains.

Kitoto, aged eight, came to Perth from Taronga Zoo in December 2016 to be introduced to 15-year-old Armani, who has previously sired three calves.

"We kept our fingers crossed that Kitoto and Armani would fall in love and it seems that that did the trick and fifteen months later we had ourselves the arrival of a new giraffe," McKay said, AAP reports.

"There wasn't a lot of time between dates."

The young calf met her father for the first time on day six and the zoo's other female Ellie.

"Ellie was a little put out by the young calf at first," Ms McKay said.

Standing about 160cm tall, the baby is expected to keep needing her mum's milk for about a year.

But in a few months the zoo is hoping Armani and Kitoto will be ready to help add another member to their giraffe family.