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Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has been freed from prison, & more in News in 5.

1. Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has been freed from prison.

Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is on his way home to Australia after being released from detention in Thailand.

Al-Araibi is expected to touch down in Melbourne about 1pm on Tuesday after spending more than two months in a Bangkok prison.

The Bahraini refugee was released on Monday afternoon, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirming the news.

“Hakeem al-Araibi has left jail,” Mr Morrison said in Canberra.

‘”He is on his way to the airport, the next step is for him to return home.”

The Bangkok Post tweeted on Monday night that he was expected to be on a Thai Airways flight arriving at 1.05pm on Tuesday.

He was seen chatting happily before boarding the flight that was due to leave shortly after midnight, Reuters reported.

An official from the Thai attorney general’s office, Chatchom Akapin, said on Monday Bahrain had requested the case be dropped after it had sought his extradition.

Al-Araibi was wanted by Bahrain after fleeing the country when he was charged with vandalising a police station in 2012. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail in absentia.

The Thai Foreign Ministry later refused to give details of why Bahrain asked for the case to be dropped. However, Bahrain state media reported on Sunday that Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa spoke on the phone with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

But after al-Araibi’s release on Monday, Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement the 10-year jail sentence remained in place and reaffirmed the country’s right to “pursue all necessary legal actions against him”.

Mr Morrison thanked Thailand for releasing al-Araibi after intense lobbying from the Australian government, global human rights groups, sporting bodies and the public.

“We greatly appreciate their listening to the issues that have been raised by our government and many others who have raised this case,” Mr Morrison said.

Al-Araibi, 25, was detained at Bangkok airport on November 27 when he arrived in Thailand for his honeymoon with his wife.

The arrest was made after Bahrain issued an Interpol Red Notice for his detention on November 7. Australia came under fire for passing on the notice to Thai authorities before his arrival.

He had faced at least another two months in jail after a court in Bangkok last week set down his pre-trial extradition hearing for April 22.

Al-Araibi fled Bahrain in 2014 and was granted refugee status by Australia where he plays soccer for semi-professional Melbourne club Pascoe Vale.

Support for the young footballer’s release was galvanised by former Socceroo Craig Foster with FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, and high-profile players calling for Thailand to free him.

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“Many wonderful people stepped forward to help Hakeem,” Foster wrote on Twitter.

“I can’t list them, but will thank each of them in time. My thoughts are with Hakeem’s wife. Her nightmare will shortly be at an end.”

Football Federation Australia thanked Foster as well as the Australian and Thai governments.

“The football family looks forward to welcoming Hakeem home and providing him with ongoing support after such a difficult period,” chairman Chris Nikou said.

Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei from the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy said the decision was a huge victory for the human rights movement in Bahrain and the rest of the world.

2. Aged care inquiry told of database need.

The royal commission investigating Australia’s aged care system has heard of the need for a national database of carers to prevent ongoing abuse.

The commission will continue its public hearings in Adelaide on Tuesday with evidence to come from welfare and advocacy groups including the Older Persons Advocacy Network.

In evidence on Monday, the inquiry was told of the need for a database of aged care employees to prevent those guilty of abuse from simply moving between facilities or between states.

Clive Spriggs, whose father Bob died in 2016 after being abused and over-medicated in Adelaide’s Oakden nursing home, said nobody had been held accountable for what happened.

“Staff and management at Oakden may have lost their jobs when it closed, but where are they now?” Mr Spriggs said.

“Are they in another state, are they going to be repeating what they did to someone else?

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“There needs to be a mark on their name in the system.”

It was the shocking treatment of dementia patients at Oakden which partly sparked the royal commission, which will take evidence from advocacy and industry groups, medical professionals and people receiving both institutional and home care.

Hearings will continue in Adelaide on Wednesday and then again next week.

The commission will also take evidence at further hearings planned for interstate capitals and in regional centres.

It has already received 800 public submissions and responses from about 900 of Australia’s 2000 approved aged care providers.

3. Qld mum denies genital mutilation charges.

A Queensland girl was playing outside her grandmother’s house in Somalia when she was called inside, unaware she was about to have her genitals painfully mutilated, a court has heard.

The Australian-born girl and her sister had only been in Somalia for a few days when their genitals were allegedly cut with their mother by their side in April 2015.

Seven months later, when they arrived back in Australia and their bodies had healed, they reluctantly but courageously told police about their experiences.

It has led to their mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, being on trial in Brisbane District Court for female genital mutilation charges.

Neither child knew what was planned for them, the court heard, and they were conscious during the procedures.

“A couple of days after her arrival in Somalia, (one of the victims) was playing with her friends outside her grandmother’s house and she was told to come inside the house,” crown prosecutor Dejana Kovac said.

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“She said she complied with the request and then saw an unknown lady doctor, for lack of a better word, who did something to her which caused her pain which persisted for two-to-three days.

“Her mother … was present at the time.

“She doesn’t know what was done to her because she wasn’t looking. She wasn’t sedated. She was awake and felt everything in the part of her body that she says she uses to urinate.”

Their mother, who prosecutors allege had care of the children from the whole trip, pleaded not guilty to two counts of removing a child from the state for female genital mutilation on Monday.

The offence carries a 14-year maximum jail sentence.

When the family came back to Australia seven months later, the girls told police “something happened” to them.

“Softly spoken, clearly containing her emotions, shy and avoiding eye contact, she was obviously reluctant to talk about it with the complete stranger sitting in front of her,” Ms Kovac said of the older girl’s police interview.

A pediatrician verified parts of their genitalia had been removed, the Crown said.

They continued living with their parents after telling police about their experience, the court heard.

The trial continues.

4. Support fund boost for struggling parents.

More support services are on the way for new and expectant parents struggling with mental health issues or grieving the death of a child, amid a $26 million funding windfall.

The federal government is putting the money towards support and treatment services, to help reach parents doing it tough who might not be catered to by what is currently available.

That includes some new fathers, and families grieving the loss of a child, from a range of cultural backgrounds.

Promotion campaigns aimed at improving the mental health of new and soon-to-be parents will also be run through the funds.

The funds will be distributed to organisations as grants from mid-2019.

“The program aims to fill gaps in services to ensure the right supports are in the right place, at the right time,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

Some of the money will be used to help bereavement organisations ensure they have culturally-appropriate support and information for parents who have lost a child through stillbirth.

Ensuring such support is available was recommended by a senate inquiry last year.

Mr Hunt will announce the funding at a meeting focused on lowering Australia’s stillbirth rate in Canberra on Tuesday, bringing together medical professionals, researchers, advocates, health officials and political leaders.

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The roundtable is the first of its kind and will focus on what research and public education is needed to prevent stillbirth, as six Australian children are stillborn each day.

“The roundtable will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to start working on a new plan and new approach to drive down the stillbirth toll, which far exceeds the road toll,” Stillbirth Foundation Australia chief executive Kate Lynch said.

“For too long stillbirth has lacked national leadership, but with commitments from both major political parties in Canberra to address stillbirth, this is finally changing.”

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

5. Total fire ban declared for NSW.

The NSW Rural Fire Service has issued a total fire ban across the state with hot, dry and windy conditions forecast.

The fire ban on Tuesday comes as temperatures across NSW are expected to range from the mid-30s to low-40s with the hot weather accompanied by high winds.

The Hunter Valley and surrounds will face extreme fire danger while the rest of NSW is set to experience severe to high fire danger.

The RFS warns that under extreme conditions homes that are specially designed and constructed to withstand a bushfire, prepared to the highest level and actively defended may provide safety.

Residents have been told to follow their bushfire survival plan.

“Leaving early in the day is your safest option,” the RFS said in a statement on Monday.

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