News in 5: Stuart Kelly's parents' plea; 21st cruise turned into 'wild brawl'; Obama heading to Sydney.

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

1. Stuart Kelly’s parents are calling for an end to university ‘hazing’ rituals, alleging he was assaulted before he took his own life.

stuart kelly
Stuart Kelly took his own life in 2016. Image via 60 Minutes/Channel 9.

The last search 18-year-old Stuart Kelly made on his computer was regarding university colleges in the United Kingdom.

He was a student at the University of Sydney at the time and, until he'd arrived at St Paul's College earlier that year, it was the admission that he'd dreamt of.


Now, his parents Ralph and Kathy have filed statements with NSW Police alleging Stuart was the victim of extreme bullying before he was found dead in his car in a Mona Vale car park in July 2016.

They are calling for an end to 'hazing' and drunken rituals, alleging Stuart was assaulted and bullied relentlessly before his suicide.

"I believe that he was assaulted, possibly sexually – this was something Stuart would never have recovered from," Kathy's statement reads, Fairfax Media reports .

"They held him down and forced alcohol down his throat" in what she calls "a horrific drunken initiation" at the University of Sydney's St Paul's College.

But Stuart's parents believe the taunting ran deeper than that.

"He lived at boarding school for six years," Kathy said. "It would take more than having alcohol forced upon him to spiral into depression."

Four years before Stuart's death, the Kellys were forced to turn off their oldest son's life support. Thomas Kelly, 18, had been walking with his girlfriend through Sydney's Kings Cross in July, 2012 when a random stranger targeted him in a vicious, one-punch attack.

The two events are linked in more ways than one, the Kelly family believes. Following Thomas' death, Ralph and Kathy successfully campaigned the NSW government for stricter lock out laws. This made Stuart a target for bullies and viral campaigns such as 'Keep Sydney Open' added to his torment, his parents allege.


Ralph and Kathy are calling for a coronial inquest into Stuart's death and the events that occurred at St Paul's College while he was there. They allege the university failed to properly investigate the circumstances surrounding Stuart's suicide in 2016.

They are taking their story public, yet again, to help others.

This week, thousands of new university students are starting their orientations and the Kellys wants people to know it "could be a terrible time".

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

2. Six people have been arrested after a 21st birthday cruise on Sydney Harbour turned into a "wild brawl".

Lana Battaglia
Lana Battaglia was injured at her own 21st after a fight erupted on board her birthday cruise. Image via Facebook.

A young NSW woman whose 21st birthday cruise was marred by a brawl at Sydney Harbour says her function was not at fault, AAP reports.

Six people have been charged over the fracas, which erupted about 11pm on Saturday night as Lana Battaglia was celebrating her 21st with friends on board a Constellation Cruises vessel.

It had returned to the dock to offload a "severely intoxicated person" after leaving the wharf at 5.30pm, police said.

According to police, officers were called to the wharf over a separate fight and as the cruise boat was leaving, a number of people noticed a woman in the water who had jumped from the wharf.

She was taken to hospital for assessment.

But police said another fight broke out on board and a number of people were assaulted.

Ms Battaglia was stretchered off the vessel after she was "pushed down the stairs" during the brawl on board the cruise.

"I wasn't at fault, it was nothing I did," she told AAP on Sunday.

"It was just me celebrating my 21st and unfortunately people got involved that I didn't know, from the city, and started trouble."


Constellation Cruises said the company provided corporate cruises, not "party boats", and had operated for 20 years without incident.

By the end of the night, six people were arrested.

A 23-year-old woman and two men, aged 24 and 26, were charged with affray while another 23-year-old woman was charged with common assault.

A 25-year-old woman was charged with hindering police and another 25-year-old woman was charged with assaulting police and resisting police.

They are all due to face Downing Centre Local Court on March 14.

3. Mark your calendars: Former US president Barack Obama is set to speak in Sydney next month.

will donald trump nuke north korea
Barack Obama. Image via Getty.

Former United States president Barack Obama will visit Australia next month as part of a trip that will also see him speak in New Zealand.

The New Zealand United States Council announced on Sunday it would host Mr Obama at speaking events in Auckland and Sydney on March 22 and March 23 respectively.

"President Obama's presidency had an extraordinary impact on the world and during his service both Australia's and New Zealand's deep relationships with the United States were strengthened politically, culturally, in trade and investment, innovation and security," council chairman Leon Grice said in a statement, AAP reports.

The council is an advocate for the expansion of trade and economic links between the US and New Zealand including a comprehensive free trade agreement.

News Corp Australia reports the Sydney event will be held at Art Gallery of NSW.

4. A new report suggests Aussie kids are lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to basic primary school skills.

Image via Getty

Australian children are lagging behind when it comes to developing basic skills in primary school but they are staying in school for longer.

The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth's five-year snapshot, released on Sunday, shows Australia ranks 35th out of 40 OECD countries on preschool attendance, although the number of four- and five-year-olds who attend has dropped in recent years.

It also shows three in 10 Year 4 students aren't meeting minimum maths standards while one in four are below standard in science and one in five are not at the required reading level, AAP reports.


The news was slightly better for older children, with the proportion of students staying in school through to Year 12 or doing other study increasing.

Australia's 15-year-olds were doing better on international comparisons but across the board about one in five weren't achieving the standard they should be for maths, reading and science.

The ARACY report also showed Australian children are falling behind in immunisation rates while facing rising rates of mental illness, and highlighted the vulnerability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in particular.

The good news is smoking among young people is the lowest in the developed world and Australia continues to lead in areas such as life expectancy and how much time parents spend with their children.

ARACY chief executive Stephen Bartos summarised the report card as "Australia: trying hard, could do better" and called for a minister "with cross-cutting responsibility for children at the cabinet table" to tackle the issues.

5. Killer of two-year-old James Bulger to reportedly marry a woman who is "fully aware" of his dark past.

Jon Venables, just 10 years of age, poses for a mugshot for British authorities on February 20, 1993. Image via Getty.

Jon Venables was 10 when he and his friend, 10-year-old Robert Thompson, led two-year-old James Bulger from a shopping centre in Bootle in the UK in February, 1993. They lured the toddler away from his mother and CCTV footage would later show the three children walking, seemingly innocently, through the mall.

Venables and Thompson tortured Bulger horrifically and, days later, the two-year-old's dead body was found by the railway tracks.

Now, a 35-year-old Venables is preparing to marry a woman who knows of his dark past - even stood by him when he was jailed (again) for child pornography earlier this month - but who is happy to show off her engagement ring.

"Officials have made this woman fully aware of Venables’ horrific crimes yet this hasn’t stopped her wanting to be with him," a source told The Sun.


"You have to question what kind of woman would choose to spend their life with a convicted child killer and paedophile."

Though the two boys were jailed for life after being convicted of Bulger's murder, they were released on licence with new identities in 2001 when they turned 18. The identity of Venables' fiancee has not been made public.

"You have to remember, while the couple might be busy planning the rest of their lives together, sadly James was robbed of his chance to find a soulmate later in life," the source told The Sun.

6. Kylie Minogue has opened up about her 'battle' with Kylie Jenner over their trademarked shared name.

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Kylie Minogue and Kylie Jenner. Image via Getty/Instagram.

Kylie Minogue says her trademark battle with Kylie Jenner was a "scuffle" but she wanted "clarity".

Jenner, 20, was opposed by the Australian singer after the reality TV star tried to trademark the name Kylie in the US.

Minogue, 49, told Graham Norton's Radio 2 show in the UK: "I've had trademarks in place for years.

"There was a scuffle. But all sorted out. You need to have clarity with whatever the product is."

She previously told Rolling Stone magazine: "It was nothing personal at all...

"I've never met Kylie Jenner. I've never met any member of the family - actually, I've met Kendall just in passing at a fashion event - but I honestly don't know them."

Minogue, who split from fiance Joshua Sasse last year, also told Norton she had "plenty to get off my chest" in her latest album.

And she said she would love to duet with Lady Gaga.

"I don't do many duets with ladies, so I would love to sing with Gaga or something like that, it would be incredible," she said.