Placeholder Content Image

From lettuce fields to opera stages – the brilliant journey of Helen Sherman

<p>How does a young girl growing up on a lettuce farm in rural New South Wales, surrounded by the quiet rustle of leaves and the hum of daily farm life, go on to become such a powerful voice on the operatic scene? This is the unlikely beginning of Helen Sherman, the Australian-British mezzo-soprano who has taken the world of opera by storm. </p> <p>Sherman’s musical journey began at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where her extraordinary voice started to attract attention. It wasn't long before her ambition led her to the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in the UK. There, she honed her craft, setting the stage for a remarkable career that would see her representing Australia at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and the Francisco Viñas International Singing Competition.</p> <p>Sherman's rise to operatic fame has been nothing short of meteoric. Her versatility and talent have seen her perform a wide range of roles across the globe. Recent highlights include Flora in <em>La traviata</em> at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Octavian in <em>Der Rosenkavalier</em> and Cherubino in <em>Le nozze di Figaro</em> with Opera North. Her portrayal of Tamiri in <em>Farnace</em> with Pinchgut Opera and Dorabella in <em>Così fan tutte</em> at Teatru Manoel in Malta further cemented her reputation as a mezzo-soprano of extraordinary range and depth.</p> <p>One of Sherman’s standout performances was her interpretation of the title role in <em>Carmen</em> with the State Opera South Australia. Her embodiment of Carmen’s fiery spirit and complex emotions captivated audiences and critics alike. Equally compelling was her portrayal of Giulio Cesare with Bury Court Opera, a role that showcased her ability to navigate the demanding vocal and dramatic challenges of baroque opera.</p> <p>In 2024, Sherman’s calendar is as busy as ever, as she will be singing Dorabella in <em>Così fan tutte</em> and Mistress of the Novices in <em>Suor Angelica</em> for Opera Australia, roles that promise to highlight her versatility and emotional depth. </p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1rem; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: left; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; background-color: #ffffff; text-decoration-thickness: initial; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial;">Over60 was lucky enough to be able to interview Sherman in the lead-up to her Sydney performances of <span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, system-ui, Segoe UI, Roboto, Helvetica Neue, Arial, sans-serif, Apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol, Noto Color Emoji;"><a href="https://opera.org.au/productions/il-trittico-sydney/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Il Trittico</a> </span><span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, system-ui, Segoe UI, Roboto, Helvetica Neue, Arial, sans-serif, Apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol, Noto Color Emoji;">and <a href="https://opera.org.au/productions/cosi-fan-tutte-sydney/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Così fan tutte</a></span>: </p> <p><em><strong>O60: How did you become an opera singer after growing up on a lettuce farm in rural NSW? </strong></em></p> <p>“It was quite a journey. My father was an incredible piano accordionist (think Flight of the Bumblebee, Malagueña etc). In the 1970s his teaching studio in Bathurst peaked at about 40 accordion students, which I think is quite remarkable. After his father died, Dad stepped back from his teaching to take over the family farm, though he still plays to this day. </p> <p>“My mother is a music lover, and wanted her children to have the opportunity to explore creative outlets that she wasn't fortunate enough to explore in her youth, so my brother, sister and I all had lessons in piano accordion, piano, dancing, drama and singing. We were fortunate to live in a town that had many thriving arts organisations, such as the Dolly McKinnon School of Dance, Bathurst Eisteddfod Society and Mitchell Conservatorium of Music. </p> <p>“Bathurst's Carillon Theatrical Society (for which my dad's cousin, the late, great, Carole Eastment, was choreographer) afforded us the opportunity to be part of full-scale classic musical productions. I was also fortunate to attend MacKillop College, a local Catholic high school of humble proportions, that had a very passionate and resourceful music teacher, Mr David Eyles. Thanks to him, students like me were able to star in wittily re-written and orchestrated G&amp;S productions. With such a plethora of opportunities at my feet, my love of the stage was pretty much pre-determined.</p> <p>“Upon graduating high school, aged seventeen, I moved to Sydney to take up a place at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where I completed a Bachelor of Music and a post graduate diploma in opera. At this stage, I wasn't really in love with opera, that came later, when I found myself covering third novice in OA's 2007 production of Suor Angelica.</p> <p>“During the last studio run of the show, mere metres away from me, star soprano Cheryl Barker was singing the final solo notes of the title role: ‘Madonna! Madonna! Salva me! Salva me!’, tears streaming down her face, and the most incredible voice soaring out; I had chills all over my body and in my soul, and I have loved opera ever since.” </p> <p><em><strong style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </strong><strong>You were based in London for years; how did you find the opera world overseas versus in Australia – in both your studies and performing? </strong></em></p> <p>“I guess the main differences are that the UK scene is a bigger one with more companies and more music schools; a more international one, that students and professionals from around the world flock to, and one with – historically – more financial backing and patronage. However, the scene in the UK has suffered dramatically in the last few years, particularly with the effects of Brexit compounded by COVID, cost-of-living crisis and embarrassingly ignorant cuts made by the Arts Council. </p> <p>“Generally, abroad, there are many more opportunities for musicians, but many, many more musicians competing for them. It is an awe-inspiring thing to meet and work with musical idols like Roger Vignols, Julius Drake, Yvonne Kenny etcetera, to sing a piece of music in the venue in which it premiered or was composed for; to tread the same cobblestones that the likes of Mozart and Handel trod and to delight in the discovery that the shoes or trousers you're wearing in a production bear the name of the likes of Dame Sarah Connolly.” </p> <p>“However, I would say that there is plenty of exciting stuff going on in Australia and an optimism and openness in the Australian people, which is impactful on our industry and its creative output. </p> <p>“More needs to be done in our country to insure all children are given creative learning outlets for the benefit of their development, their communities and for the future of our industry.” </p> <p><em><strong style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </strong><strong>Why did you return to Sydney and how are you enjoying it? Any future plans to head back overseas? </strong></em></p> <p>“After a health scare in 2022 that forced me to cancel all my work, my husband received a job offer to relocate to Sydney. It felt like the universe was opening a door for us, so we gladly walked through it, and onto a flight to Sydney in mid 2023. I have felt welcomed (back!) with open arms both personally and professionally and I have no imminent plans to return abroad, at this stage.” </p> <p><strong><em><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </span>You’ve appeared in many staged productions as well as concerts. What do you like about these two types of performances? </em></strong></p> <p>“Concert performances are a chance to home in on the music and the words without worrying about physical action. Staged productions afford the performer the luxury of inhabiting and exploring a character, physically, right down to their shoes and petticoats. Both are wonderful ways of working and some works naturally lend themselves to one or the other – though, I think for opera, context is key, and can be a challenge to properly manufacture on the concert platform.” </p> <p><strong><em><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </span>Tell us about your two characters and how do you prepare for performing two roles in different operas in the same season? </em></strong></p> <p>“I've been playing the role of Mistress of Novices in Suor Angelica and am currently preparing the role of Dorabella in Così fan Tutte. One is a senior nun and the other an excitable teenage girl, so they are rather disparate. </p> <p>“The big challenge is in the early days of learning and memorising the role. Once you have a grasp of the music, the libretto and who you are, it's about showing up and reacting to your world. Preparing disparate roles concurrently can be a vocal challenge, since tessitura and vocal gesture have a big impact on how one might approach a score. I like to keep in touch, daily, with technical exercises that encourage economy and flexibility in my voice, especially when I'm working on contrasting roles. Thankfully, the human voice is a very sensitive instrument and responds intuitively to intention and emotion, so developing the character arc and subtext helps a lot with that. </p> <p><strong><em><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </span>What should audiences be watching and/or listening out for Il Trittico versus in Così fan tutte? </em></strong></p> <p>“There's so much to enjoy so let it wash over you in broad, beautiful, very human brushstrokes!! Or, if you love little details, in Il Trittico see if you can spot which singers appear in all three operas and watch out for Frugola's bag of strange objects in Il Tabarro. You'll learn a lot from the body language and small glances between characters in the world of Suor Angelica, and in Gianni Schicchi, well, I am told there is a very interesting door stop!</p> <p>“In Così fan Tutte, listen out for the way Mozart creates subtext for his characters; tiny details, like Dorabella needing to sing a third higher than Fiordiligi (because she is the competitive younger sister!) when emotionally fraught in some of their act one recitatives! Mozart is a genius of musical detail!” </p> <p><em><strong style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">O60: </strong><strong>Do you have any dream roles you’re yet to perform? </strong></em></p> <p>“There are too many to list, but I adore the role of Octavian in der Rosenkavalier by Strauss (a role I have sung, but would love to revisit) and I would love to sing Ariodante by Händel.”</p> <p>---</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1rem; color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px; background-color: #ffffff;"><span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, 'system-ui', 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif, 'Apple Color Emoji', 'Segoe UI Emoji', 'Segoe UI Symbol', 'Noto Color Emoji'; font-size: 16px;">Click here for more information on </span><span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, system-ui, Segoe UI, Roboto, Helvetica Neue, Arial, sans-serif, Apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol, Noto Color Emoji;"><a href="https://opera.org.au/productions/il-trittico-sydney/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Il Trittico</a> </span><span style="color: #212529; font-family: -apple-system, system-ui, Segoe UI, Roboto, Helvetica Neue, Arial, sans-serif, Apple Color Emoji, Segoe UI Emoji, Segoe UI Symbol, Noto Color Emoji;">and <a href="https://opera.org.au/productions/cosi-fan-tutte-sydney/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Così fan tutte</a>. </span></p>

Music

Placeholder Content Image

I watched some 40 films at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. Here are my top five picks – and one hilarious flop

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ari-mattes-97857">Ari Mattes</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-notre-dame-australia-852">University of Notre Dame Australia</a></em></p> <p>This year’s <a href="https://www.sff.org.au/">Sydney Film Festival’s</a> rich offerings of films more than compensated for the minor technical issues that led to some screenings being interrupted.</p> <p>Out of the 40-odd films I saw, here are my top five, along with some notable mentions and three disappointments (including a genuine <em>dud</em>).</p> <h2>1. The Girl with the Needle</h2> <p>Cowritten and directed by Swedish filmmaker Magnus von Horn, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_with_the_Needle">The Girl with the Needle</a> is loosely based on the story of notorious early-20th century serial killer Dagmar Overbye.</p> <p>But this is no procedural true crime film, painstakingly attempting to recreate crimes with historical accuracy. It’s a stylish Danish nightmare dazzling with cinematic acrobatics right from the opening sequence, in which black and white faces hideously morph, looking at the viewer like deranged figures from a hellish circus. It is, indeed, one of the most terrifying films I’ve seen.</p> <p>The narrative follows the struggles of new mother Karoline (Vic Carmen Sonne) as she gives her baby to Dagmar’s informal adoption agency and begins working with her as a wet nurse, unaware of what’s really going on.</p> <p>Sonne is as self-assured as ever – and none of the actors put a foot wrong here. Seasoned Danish film star Trine Dyrholm is exceptional in bringing nuance to what could have become a caricaturishly evil role as Dagmar. And Besir Zeciri endows Peter, a war-wounded veteran who can only find employment in a circus freakshow, with an unexpected warmth and tenderness.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VlyW-z1xbO4?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>The Girl with the Needle features some of the most distressing sequences one could find in a commercial film. Its meticulously rendered shades of German expressionism never distract from its smorgasbord of horrors, offering an almost unbearably bleak vision of the world in the aftermath of the Great War. If only all films were this good!</p> <h2>2. Dying</h2> <p>I’d normally suppress a yawn if you told me I had to sit through a three-hour social realist drama about the everyday difficulties of a bourgeois German conductor and his family. Yet writer-director Matthias Glasner’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dying_(2024_film)">Dying</a> is a near perfect film (no surprise it won <a href="https://www.screendaily.com/news/matthias-glasners-dying-wins-german-lola-for-best-film/5193046.article">four prizes</a> at the German Film Awards).</p> <p>The film is complex and engrossing – deeply sad in places and hysterical in others – formally controlled, but underpinned by an anarchic sensibility. It is life-affirming without any skerrick of sentimentality.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kagVqEfPxFw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Lars Eidinger is astonishingly good as maestro Tom, who is trying to keep his career on track as his family life crumbles around him. He is matched by Lilith Stangenberg, mesmerising as his unhinged sister Ellen. Robert Gwisdek is equally exceptional as the highly strung composer and friend Bernard, while Corinna Harfouch anchors the film’s first section as Tom’s far from maternal mother, Lissy.</p> <p>At one point, Ingmar Bergman’s 1982 period film <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_and_Alexander">Fanny and Alexander</a> is playing on the TV (Tom watches it every Christmas). Even though Dying feels like a contemporary film committed to interrogating the difficulties of being in the modern world, there’s something of late Bergman here as it unfolds across its epic length.</p> <p>It is a three-hour film about middle-class life, but like a great 19th-century novel, it never feels long. The fact that nothing particularly extraordinary happens is testament to how well-made the film is.</p> <h2>3. Kill</h2> <p>Director Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s Indian action film <a href="https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/kill_2023_2">Kill</a> is cheesy, sentimental and at first seems remarkably silly.</p> <p>Commando Amrit, played by beefy TV star Lakshya, is travelling to New Delhi by train with his buddy, fellow commando Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan). His true love Tulika (Tanya Maniktala) is also on board and has recently become engaged to another man through an arrangement by her wealthy father, Baldev Singh Thakur (Harsh Chhaya), who happens to own the train company. When a group of 30-plus bandits led by the charming but ice-cold Fani (Raghav Juyal) move to rob the train, Amrit must defend Tulika, her family and the rest of the passengers.</p> <p>When the title card appears 40 minutes into the film, suddenly emblazoned on the screen, it seems like a distracting quirk at first. But it begins to make sense as the train rolls on. All of the violence and bone-crushing action of the first section is mere preamble, leading to a point of transition from an extremely violent but fun action film, to a much darker – and bloodier – revenge film.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/da7lKeeS67c?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Kill is an exceptionally well-wrought genre film. The kinetic and balletic action recalls the golden era of Hong Kong action cinema, but with hammers, daggers and sickles instead of guns and the frenetic staging of hand-to-hand combat instead of poetic slow-motion footage. It is also a great example of a film being more than the sum of its parts. No element is perfect, yet they come together to transcend these limitations, its flow reaching sublime levels by the end.</p> <p>There’s also an undercurrent of sadness throughout. We see an India of haves and have-nots, of families of bandits struggling to survive and of the supreme violence sustaining the social and political order. As Fani says to Amrit near the end: “Who kills like this? I killed four of your people. You finished off 40 of my family. You’re not a protector. You’re a monster. A fucking monster.” The title says it all.</p> <h2>4. Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story</h2> <p>Biographical films about celebrities inevitably feel gossipy. Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super/Man:_The_Christopher_Reeve_Story">Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story</a> is no exception. But it is so well made (and well-resourced, one would imagine, as it’s produced by DC) that it moves beyond its tabloid-like qualities.</p> <p>Interviews with Reeve’s friends and colleagues, including Susan Sarandon, Glenn Close and Jeff Daniels, are interspersed with home footage shot by Reeve and his family throughout his career and during his recovery from the near-fatal riding accident that left him paralysed and breathing through a respirator for the rest of his life.</p> <p>Reeve’s close friendship with “brother” Robin Williams assumes central importance, with the film implying the two men were so emotionally dependent on each other that Williams would probably still be alive if Reeve hadn’t died in 2004.</p> <p>But the most interesting parts of the film involve carefully assembled archival footage looking at how Reeve’s decision to play Superman negatively impacted his career and personal life. He never starred in another profitable film, and his father and colleagues such as William Hurt loathed his decision to play a comic book character.</p> <p>This is counterpointed with his post-accident career as a director and disability advocate. Interviews with Reeve’s children add a genuinely tragic sense of pathos to this slick, well-made and emotionally exhausting “true Hollywood” story. It’s everything one could want from such a documentary.</p> <h2>5. Kneecap</h2> <p>Cowriter-director Rich Peppiatt’s Kneecap is a riotous, irreverent biopic following the career of Belfast drug-dealers Móglaí Bap and Mo Chara as they team up with high school music teacher DJ Próvai to become the first Irish-language rap group, Kneecap.</p> <p>The real <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-66408560">Kneecappers</a> cowrote the film and play themselves and, given none of them are actors, do so remarkably well. They’re joined by Irish heavyweights Josie Walker, playing the detective who has it in for them, and Michael Fassbender, playing Móglaí’s father, an old-school Irish radical who has been on the run for the past few decades.</p> <p>The film depicts their hedonistic drug use and anarchic disregard for the law in the context of their radical political motivation to speak Irish against the colonial English. And while it may be a bit cartoonish in its presentation of Belfast’s history and the struggle to keep Gaelic alive, it is a music biopic after all.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FFYfp-hKxZQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Kneecap is violent, coarse and laced with infectiously good humour – a genuinely fun film, buoyed by its charismatic stars and lively style. Only the most stringent moralist wouldn’t enjoy this one!</p> <h2>Notable mentions</h2> <p>It’s extremely difficult to pick a top five when 15 or so of the films I saw were standouts. And this is testament to the quality of the festival’s selection.</p> <p>It was a pleasure watching heavyweight Sean Penn go head-to-head with Dakota Johnson in writer-director Christy Hall’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daddio_(film)">Daddio</a>, even if the story takes an uninteresting turn in the final third. Despite the banality of the premise – a New York cabbie chats with a passenger – and the inanity of some of the dialogue, this romantic ode to urban life in all its alienated, fluoro-lit techno glory is so well crafted that we happily go along for the ride.</p> <p>Equally affective is the melancholic and beautifully performed <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puan_(film)">Puan</a>, a restrained comedy set in a University faculty in Buenos Aires. Puan could easily make my top five, as could André Téchiné’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_New_Friends_(film)">My New Friends</a>), an offbeat French melodrama starring Isabelle Huppert as a disillusioned police officer who becomes friends with an anti-cop activist in the suburbs.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cnz-6h60tkk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Poor performers</h2> <p>Of the lot, I only found three films disappointing.</p> <p>The first, Among the Wolves, is a Belgian-French documentary in which a photographer and illustrator lie waiting in a tiny, makeshift building to encounter wild wolves. While some of the footage is striking, the film is let down by its scientific inaccuracy, such as references to the “alpha male” wolf – a term and concept that has <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/science/elements/the-myth-of-the-alpha-wolf">long been discredited</a>. Such innacuracy is a cardinal sin for a documentary, which is supposed to inform the viewer.</p> <p>Though critically acclaimed, Hollywood horror film The Substance – a story of an ageing entertainer who turns to a mysterious substance to stay young (with unsurprisingly horrific ramifications) – feels neither new nor particularly interesting. And while it’s great to see Demi Moore and Dennis Quaid back on the big screen, their caricaturish characters make the whole thing seem like a boring joke: an inflated short film that is both irritatingly silly and painfully didactic.</p> <p>But rarely does a film so resolutely reaffirm a sense of the absurd hubris of humans as Francis Ford Coppola’s self-financed mega-flop, Megalopolis. This cartoonish, incoherent mess set in a dystopian version of the United States, “New Rome”, is howlingly bad in places.</p> <p>Imagine the worst parts of The Hunger Games and <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064940/">Fellini Satyricon</a> (1969) crossed with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and you begin to get a sense of the kind of self-indulgent, heavy-handed nonsense that is Megalopolis.</p> <p>Side-splittingly funny moments come courtesy of bad dialogue (“Utopias become dystopias,” actor Giancarlo Esposito says at one point with a straight face). And stilted acting by Adam Driver and Aubrey Plaza had the (remaining) audience in stitches. Megalopolis is like one of the great fiascos from days gone by – the 21st century’s Heaven’s Gate – and there is definitely something delightful about the existence of this <a href="https://variety.com/2022/film/news/francis-ford-coppola-funding-120-million-dollars-megalopolis-1235184765/">US$120 million</a> (roughly A$180 million) flop.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1FQzWD5xVKQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>But as a dud, Megalopolis is the outlier. And in a year following Barbie, Oppenheimer, Napoleon and Poor Things (talk about heavy-handed cinema), much of the menu of this year’s Sydney Film Festival once again proves there are still good filmmakers out there making good films.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232706/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ari-mattes-97857"><em>Ari Mattes</em></a><em>, Lecturer in Communications and Media, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-notre-dame-australia-852">University of Notre Dame Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-watched-some-40-films-at-this-years-sydney-film-festival-here-are-my-top-five-picks-and-one-hilarious-flop-232706">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: IMDB</em></p> </div>

Movies

Placeholder Content Image

Tiny reason for huge commitment: Grandad to run from Perth to Sydney

<p>John Harb admits he’s never been much of a runner. But that’s about to change, when the 62-year-old grandad and yoga enthusiast runs from Perth to Sydney for his granddaughter Luna.</p> <p>Little Luna came into the world three months early at Sydney's Royal Hospital for Women, in February, and at just 500 grams, she was the same weight as a tub of butter. </p> <p>The experience left John in awe, not only of his baby granddaughter, but of the magic that happens in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the hospital.</p> <p>“To watch Luna over the past three months, and witness her strength and her fighting spirit has been incredible,” said John. </p> <p>“Seeing my daughter Michelle and her husband Nick, and all the other parents and premature babies in the ward going through such a difficult time but being so well supported by the doctors and nurses made me want to do something to help,” he said.</p> <p>“When I discovered 80 percent of the equipment in the unit, including the equipment that kept Luna alive, was purchased through donations, I wanted to do something big.”</p> <p>Taking inspiration from Nedd Brockman, John has decided to run across the country with the goal of raising one-million-dollars to support the NICU.</p> <p>Currently training by running 15 kilometres a day, John has sourced advice from a range of experts including Brockman himself, who made a special visit to the NICU after hearing of John’s plans.</p> <p>He plans to commence his run at Cottesloe Beach on 1 October and arrive at The Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick in early December.</p> <p>Royal Hospital for Women Foundation General Manager Elise Jennings said John’s commitment will allow the hospital to purchase more lifesaving equipment on their wish list, like a new ultrasound machine for high risk pregnancies. </p> <p>“I have come to know John through the time he spent in the NICU supporting Michelle and Luna and I know how passionate he is about making a difference for those who come after Luna and we are incredibly grateful to John for his commitment. Running from Perth to Sydney is a huge undertaking, especially for a grandfather in his 60s with no previous long distance running experience, but if anyone can do it, he can.”</p> <p> “We are thrilled that John is announcing his run as part of our major annual fundraiser, Heart for Her, in recognition not only of the extraordinary care received by Michelle and Luna, but for all of the babies and families who come through our doors.”</p> <p>“For three decades now, The Royal Hospital for Women Foundation has funded the best medical equipment, innovative research, people and programs but we rely on the generosity of our donors to do this.” </p> <p>Donations can be made <a title="https://www.royalwomen.org.au/fundraisers/johnharb" href="https://www.royalwomen.org.au/fundraisers/johnharb" data-outlook-id="eed61181-8705-430d-a478-3f5f14e8b008">https://www.royalwomen.org.au/fundraisers/johnharb</a></p> <p><em>Image credits: Supplied</em></p>

Family & Pets

Placeholder Content Image

Search for trapped Sydney woman ends in tragedy

<p>The search for a woman in her 30s caught in the middle of an explosion in Western Sydney has ended in tragedy. </p> <p>Jasmin Mhey was the only person unaccounted for after a townhouse in Western Sydney was destroyed in an explosion on Saturday afternoon, caused by a suspected gas leak. </p> <p>Now, more than 30 hours after the blast, search and rescue teams on Monday confirmed they had located the body of a woman, who has yet to be formally identified. </p> <p>The frantic search for Ms Mhey began on Saturday after the explosion, but was hampered by wet weather.</p> <p>On Monday morning, police confirmed in a statement that the body of a woman had been found.</p> <p>“Following an extensive search operation over the weekend, the body of a woman was found about 3.20am on Monday at the scene," the statement said. </p> <p>“The woman is yet to be formally identified. A report will be prepared for the information of the coroner.” </p> <p>Neighbours on Sunday told of how the missing woman’s mother reacted when she found out her daughter was caught up in the blast.</p> <p>“She broke out crying a couple of times,” neighbour Evelyn said.</p> <p>“But then she kept saying, ‘my daughter’s strong, my daughter’s strong, my daughter’s strong’.”</p> <p>Emergency services are yet to establish what caused the blast, which will be subject to a NSW Police investigation, although police were initially called to the area to reports of a gas explosion.</p> <p><em>Image credits: 7News</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Sad reason why Sydney dad went overboard

<p>A father-of-three who <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/cruising/sad-end-in-search-for-overboard-cruise-passenger" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fell overboard</a> a P&O cruise ship last week has been identified, and his brother claimed that he had racked up a $4,000 casino debt onboard after being lured to spend big by the company's incentives. </p> <p>Shane Dixon, 50, died after falling overboard the cruise ship two hours before was due to dock in Sydney Harbour at 6am on Monday, May 6. </p> <p>Shane was reportedly on the three-day Elvis-themed cruise to Queensland's Moreton Island with his mother Sue Dixon, 66, who had saved up for the trip. </p> <p>"Our mother is devastated. Broken," Shane's brother Scott Dixon told <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-13410955/Dad-three-plunges-death-luxury-cruise-liner-running-eye-watering-debt-ships-casino-tables-insider-reveals-high-rollers-lured-gamble-Australias-shores.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Daily Mail Australia</em></a>. </p> <p>“She has already buried one son and now she has to bury another one,” he said. </p> <p>Scott said that his brother was going through a rough time, as he struggled financially due to a series of tragedies including the breakdown of his marriage, and the deaths of their brother and father. </p> <p>Shane had spent $5000 at the cruise’s casino on the Friday, and Scott claimed that his brother received free drinks,  a $750 play voucher and a ticket for a future cruise. </p> <p>In Australia, strict laws govern how gaming providers can advertise gambling, with promotions like the above, which may encourage someone to spend more than they intend banned. </p> <p>However, cruise ships that operate casinos in international waters can bypass these laws, reported the <em>Daily Mail.</em> </p> <p>After borrowing money from his family to repay the debt, Shane ended up spending another $4000 the following night, according to Scott. </p> <p>"His brain was probably going 100 miles an hour. He probably thought, ‘s***, I’ve done it again. I can’t afford it and I can’t ask mum for more money," Scott said. </p> <p>He added that P&O staff have been amazing and compassionate towards his mother. </p> <p>A P&O Australia spokesperson said they won’t be commenting on the claims due to the coroner’s investigation that is underway.</p> <p><em>Images: ABC News/ news.com.au</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Sydney Airport launches massive auction of lost property

<p>Have you ever lost something at the airport? </p> <p>You're not alone.</p> <p>This year there were more than 2,500 unclaimed items left at the airport including electronics, jewellery and designer handbags, and now they are up for grabs for a fraction of their retail price. </p> <p>The airport has launched their annual online auction, with all the money raised going to the Harding Miller Education Foundation, which grants four-year scholarships to high-school girls with high academic potential who are experiencing disadvantage. </p> <p>Over the past decade, the auctions have raised $1.6 million for various charities. </p> <p>“It’s clear the public love nabbing a bargain in support of a worthy cause," Sydney Airport general manager of corporate affairs Josh Clements said. </p> <p>“There’s something for everyone with plenty of great tech, clothing, accessories and beauty products as well as a host of unique items like a massage table, an electric scooter, a leaf blower and a quintessential Aussie favourite, a jaffle maker (sandwich press),” he added. </p> <p>“It’s great to see these unclaimed items find new homes, while also supporting a charity that’s offering comprehensive scholarships to help level the playing field for high school girls facing disadvantage.”</p> <p>“Opening bids start at just $10, which means shoppers have a chance to grab a great deal while also supporting an impactful charity,” Theodore Bruce Auctioneers director, Casi Prischl, said.</p> <p>The auction runs until Sunday May 12, with the <a href="https://www.theodorebruceauctions.com.au/sydney-airport-lost-property-auction-2024a" target="_blank" rel="noopener">complete list of auctions currently open for bids below</a>: </p> <ul> <li>Tech & Gaming - Saturday 4 May to Saturday 11 May, closing at 10am</li> <li>Sunglasses, Bags, Scarves & Accessories - Saturday 4 May to Saturday 11 May, closing at 2pm</li> <li>Jewellery & Watches - Saturday 4 May to Sunday 12 May, closing at 10am</li> <li>Clothing - Saturday to May to Sunday 12 May, closing at 2pm</li> <li>Beauty, Alcohol, Home - Saturday 4 May to Sunday 12 May, closing at 4pm</li> </ul> <p>Goods can be delivered at a price, or picked up by appointment. </p> <p><em>Images: Theodore Bruce Auctions</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Police release new images in search for church rioters

<p>The images of 12 men who were allegedly involved in the violent riot outside The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley have been released by NSW Police. </p> <p>Three men have been charged over their alleged involvement in the riot last Monday, shortly after bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed during a service that was being live-streamed. </p> <p>A 16-year-old boy has been <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/teenage-boy-in-custody-after-stabbing-at-sydney-church" target="_blank" rel="noopener">arrested</a> over the stabbing incident, with police describing it as a "terror incident". </p> <p>Now, Strike Force Dribs have been established to investigate the violent incidents, and they have released the images of the men they would like to speak to. </p> <p>Acting Assistant Commissioner Andrew Holland said that around 2,000 people were at the scene but up to 50 were there "to start problems". </p> <p>"We know that there's groups of families involved that have gone there to support their parishioners, and we're not looking for those people," he said.</p> <p>"We're looking to speak with them if they can provide us information about the people involved."</p> <p>In the immediate aftermath of the incident, dozens of police were injured, their cars vandalised, and some officers and paramedics were forced to take shelter inside the church. </p> <p>One police officer had their jaw broken, while another suffered facial and knee injuries. </p> <p>Superintendent Andrew Evans said that the images of the men have been released  "due to the violent and aggressive nature of their actions".</p> <p>"We are doing everything we can to identify these men and are now appealing for public assistance," he said in a statement.</p> <p>"Someone in the community knows who they are."</p> <p>One man — known as Person A — had his face covered but was filmed jumping on top of police cars. He has a large tattoo of Jesus Christ on his stomach, and others on his left arm. </p> <p>Another — known as Person C <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">—</span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> was described as being of</span> Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance with short black hair and a beard. </p> <p>A full list of all the people police believed were involved in the riots were released on their <a href="https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/news/news?sq_content_src=%2BdXJsPWh0dHBzJTNBJTJGJTJGZWJpenByZC5wb2xpY2UubnN3Lmdvdi5hdSUyRm1lZGlhJTJGMTExNTU0Lmh0bWwmYWxsPTE%3D" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a>, with descriptions of their features and the clothes they were wearing. </p> <p>Investigators are also collecting evidence including mobile phone and CCTV footage to identify those involved.</p> <p>Over the weekend, Issa Haddad, 28, was charged and granted bail for over the public disorder incident. </p> <p>Two others, Dani Mansour, 19, and Sam Haddad, 45, have also been charged and granted bail. </p> <p><em>Images: NSW Police/ SBS News</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Why is the Sydney church stabbing an act of terrorism, but the Bondi tragedy isn’t?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/greg-barton-10990">Greg Barton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>Just days after the deadly <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-14/several-killed-in-mass-stabbing-at-westfield-bondi-junction/103705354">Westfield Bondi attacks</a>, a <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-16/albanese-says-there-is-no-place-for-violence-in-our-community/10372830">second knife attack</a> in Sydney has generated widespread shock and grief. This time, a 16-year-old entered an Assyrian church and rushed forward to stab the popular bishop presiding over a service, together with a priest who rushed to his defence. The shocking events were captured on the church’s video stream, and the news quickly reached thousands of members of Sydney’s large Assyrian community.</p> <p>While both priests were injured, thankfully the knife blows were not fatal. Parishioners immobilised the attacker, and police and paramedics swarmed the church. Police moved quickly to identify the assailant and analyse his apparent motivation before announcing they were treating the attack as a <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-68823240">terrorist incident</a> early this morning.</p> <p>Public knife attacks are rare in Australia, and for Sydney to experience two in quick succession has rightfully alarmed many and, understandably, led to comparisons between the two. A lot of the discussion is around why the Bondi Junction shopping mall attack in which six were killed wasn’t considered terrorism, but this shocking, but non-lethal, attack was.</p> <p>So what do we know about the church attack, and what important distinctions can be made between it and the awful events at Bondi?</p> <h2>What happened at the church?</h2> <p>Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel has developed a large following, not just in Australia but in the Assyrian diaspora <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-16/who-is-bishop-mar-mari-emmanuel-wakeley-church-attack/103728808">around the world</a>, with his live-streamed sermons. Shortly after seven o'clock on Monday night, the video feed of the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Sydney’s outer west went dead, but not before it captured the shocking attack and parishioners rushing forward to help.</p> <p>Almost immediately, crowds gathered outside the church. We don’t yet know the motivations of the people who turned up, but it can be assumed they were there because they either saw or heard of what had happened and rushed over out of concern.</p> <p>Tragically, at some point the dynamics of the fast-swelling crowd took a dark turn. Instead of letting the large police and ambulance presence continue to handle the situation, some emotional onlookers turned on the authorities. Multiple police officers and paramedics were injured and vehicles were heavily damaged.</p> <p>It’s likely the fact the attack was captured on video, and therefore able to be shared and watched over and over again, added to the combustibility of an already volatile situation. It would appear the attack was deliberately planned to provoke an angry response. But what exactly happened in the crowd is the subject of one police investigation.</p> <h2>Why is it considered a terrorist act?</h2> <p>The other investigation is an anti-terrorism one. This is because while the teenager acted alone, it’s very likely they had received encouragement and backing from others. <a href="https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/unabomber">The Unabomber</a> is one of the very few documented cases of someone committing violence for ideological reasons truly in isolation.</p> <p>This lone actor attack in Sydney is reminiscent of the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-03/nsw-police-headquarters-gunman-was-radicalised-youth/6825028">2015 murder</a> of police accountant Curtis Cheng. He was shot dead by a 15-year-old who had been radicalised by supporters of Islamic State. It later came out <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-14/curtis-cheng-murder-surveillance-man-guilty-of-terror-plan/10900982">in court</a> the attack had been planned by three other people, who also supplied him with the gun.</p> <p>Police were quick to pronounce the knife attack on Monday to be an act of terrorism. Having identified the attacker, they would have been studying his social connections and examining his digital footprint.</p> <p>The police assessment would have also given attention to the particulars of the church targeted. <a href="https://www.britannica.com/topic/Assyrian">Assyrians</a> (people from northwest Iraq, northeast Syria and southeast Turkey) are almost exclusively Christian, belonging to one of the oldest churches in existence, living in precisely that part of the world in which the Islamic State established its brutal caliphate.</p> <p>It’s telling that before the caliphate was established, Assyrians made up just 3% of the Iraqi population. But in the wake of Islamic State sweeping across northern Syria and Iraq, Assyrians soon made up <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/assyrian-australians-plead-for-second-special-refugee-settlement-deal/x7ej8ix2y">40%</a> of Iraqi refugees. The trauma of those years is <a href="https://theconversation.com/diversity-and-religious-pluralism-are-disappearing-amid-iraqs-crisis-29832">recent history</a>, fresh in the minds of many.</p> <p>The recent Islamic State claim of responsibility for the <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2024/03/27/europe/missing-people-russia-moscow-concert-hall-attack-intl/index.html">recent deadly attacks in Moscow</a>, is a reminder the group remains a live and growing threat. For these reasons police will be looking for any evidence Islamic State might have played a role in inspiring this attack.</p> <h2>Terrorism or not terrorism?</h2> <p>Events at the church have been under a bigger spotlight given the events of the days preceding it.</p> <p>Despite <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/15/false-claims-started-spreading-about-the-bondi-junction-stabbing-attack-as-soon-as-it-happened">early misinformation</a>, police said thathey believe the Bondi killer, Joel Cauchi, was not motivated by a larger political cause – that is, a terrorist motivation. Instead, they say he lashed out violently because of anger control issues related to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/14/joel-cauchi-who-was-the-queensland-man-who-carried-out-the-bondi-junction-mass-stabbing">mental ill-health</a>.</p> <p>But of the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/14/bondi-junction-mass-stabbing-attack-who-are-the-six-victims">six people</a> he killed, five were women. Women also make up the majority of those injured. The one man who lost his life, security guard Faraz Tahir, a Muslim refugee from Pakistan, was attacked because he bravely <a href="https://www.1news.co.nz/2024/04/16/friend-of-bondi-security-guard-says-his-last-moments-were-brave/">rushed towards</a> danger in an attempt to try to stop Cauchi. NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said Cauchi <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-15/westfield-bondi-attack-stabbing-investigation/103706698">deliberately targeted women</a>.</p> <p>So if someone is targeting a specific group of people, isn’t that terrorism? Why does it matter if they were killing based on gender or religion? Is misogyny not terrorism?</p> <p>Put simply, the defining characteristic of terrorism is perpetuating violence in the name of a higher, broader cause. Terrorists have a belief in a collective goal, and see themselves as being backed by people who share that belief. Misogyny can be an element of their motivation and justification of hatred, but it’s part of a larger political project.</p> <p>Basically, it boils down to whether these violent actors think they’re part of a political or religious movement that’s going to <a href="https://theconversation.com/social-inclusion-is-important-in-aotearoa-new-zealand-but-so-is-speaking-honestly-about-terrorism-167429">change the system</a>, or whether they are simply angry men projecting loathing and driven by personal demons. The two, of course, are <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/not-since-the-lindt-siege-has-sydney-known-grief-like-this-20240414-p5fjnl.html">not mutually exclusive</a>.</p> <p>This is not to undermine the damage that angry men can, and do, inflict. Domestic violence is a bigger threat to Australians than terrorism. Calling something a terrorist act doesn’t make it more or less serious than anything else, rather the categorisation is to provide conceptual clarity for the sake of the ensuing investigation.</p> <p>Events at Westfield Bondi Junction and the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church are both awful, but while they share some similarities, they are different sorts of crimes with different drivers and enablers. As police investigations continue, we’ll come to better understand the nature of both.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/227997/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/greg-barton-10990">Greg Barton</a>, Chair in Global Islamic Politics, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-is-the-sydney-church-stabbing-an-act-of-terrorism-but-the-bondi-tragedy-isnt-227997">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Teenage boy in custody after stabbing at Sydney church

<p>A 15-year-old boy has been arrested after he stormed a church service in Western Sydney and stabbed a bishop and a priest. </p> <p>The Orthodox Christian church service was being live-streamed from the suburb of Wakeley on Monday night and captured the moment Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel's sermon was interrupted by the teen, who allegedly stabbed him several times. </p> <p>Father Isaac Royel was also stabbed, with two parishioners also sustaining injuries as they subdued the teenager until police arrived. </p> <p>The bishop and priest were both taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. </p> <p>Acting Assistant Commissioner Andrew Holland said the churchgoers did a "fantastic job" trying to calm the scene, but outside the church, an emotional crowd quickly built. </p> <p>NSW Premier Chris Minns chaired an urgent crisis control meeting with leaders from multiple faiths, all agreeing to a call for calm.</p> <p>When police arrived on the scene, the riot officers attempted to forcibly move the crowd away from the church, which led to violence against the officers. </p> <p>Police cars were smashed and two officers were taken to hospital after being injured by members of the crowd who broke into “a number of houses to gain weapons to throw at the police”.</p> <p>The 15-year-old, who was known to police, was arrested once officers gained access to the church and was taken to an undisclosed location for his own safety. </p> <p>Premier Minns later confirmed that the attack is being treated as a terror event, saying Police Commissioner Karen Webb had designated the stabbing a "terror incident" just prior to 2am. </p> <p>Chris Minns urged the community to keep calm and not perpetuate further violence, saying he and religious leaders “endorsed and supported a unanimous condemnation of violence in any form, called for the community to follow first responder and police instructions and called for calm in the community”.</p> <p>“We’re calling on everyone to act with kindness and respect for each other,” he said.</p> <p>The church said Bishop Emmanuel and a senior priest were in a stable condition and also appealed for calm.</p> <p>“We ask for your prayers at this time,” the church said in a statement posted on social media.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / Nine News</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

West Side Story returns to Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour

<p>Get ready to snap your fingers, tap your toes and experience the magic of Broadway in Sydney as Opera Australia presents t<span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">he electrifying musical extravaganza <em>West Side Story</em> – making its triumphant return to the Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour stage in 2024.</span></p> <p>The 2019 production of <em>West Side Story</em>, if you were fortunate enough to grab seats, was an absolute smash hit. With record-breaking ticket sales and rave reviews, it's no wonder this show stole the hearts of over 65,000 theatre and musical buffs. </p> <p>Directed by the incomparable Francesca Zambello, <em>West Side Story</em> promises to once again whisk audiences away to the bustling streets of New York City, complete with iconic songs, heart-pounding dance numbers, and enough drama to fill the harbour twice over. </p> <p>Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's musical masterpiece will once again take centre stage, accompanied by Jerome Robbins' legendary choreography – and this year, we were fortunate enough to be able to pose a few pre-performance questions to none other than Guy Simpson, the show’s musical director, and the all-singing, all-dancing Wayne Scott Kermond, who is playing “Doc” onstage.</p> <p>Let’s raise the curtain and see what they have to say!</p> <p><strong><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/03/Guy-Simpson.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></strong></p> <p><strong>Guy Simpson</strong></p> <p>Guy Simpson, a seasoned musical director with nearly 45 years of experience, boasts an illustrious career spanning global productions. Notably, his involvement with iconic shows like <em>Miss Saigon</em> and <em>The Phantom</em> <em>of the Opera</em> has taken him across continents, from Australia to Asia and beyond. Simpson's extensive repertoire includes serving as Musical Supervisor and Director for Opera Australia's acclaimed productions such as <em>Evita</em>, <em>My Fair Lady</em>, and of course <em>West Side Story</em>. Additionally, his contributions as an orchestrator and producer of cast recordings further solidify his stature in the musical theatre realm. With credits ranging from beloved classics like <em>Les Misérables</em> to contemporary hits like <em>Muriel's Wedding</em>, Simpson's versatile talent continues to enrich the world of musical theatre on an international scale.</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> What memories do you have of your first time working on <em>West Side Story</em> – when was it and what was the experience like? </p> <p><em><strong>Guy:</strong></em> “I was a rehearsal pianist for the 1983 production of <em>West Side Story</em>. The conductor was Dobbs Franks, who came from the US to conduct the first production of the show in 1960. So I was lucky to learn the show from him. I wasn’t in the orchestra and had tickets to watch opening night but during the afternoon of that day I received a call to play in the orchestra that night because the pianist was unwell. I’ll never forget that! Since then I have conducted three seasons of the show and learn more and more about it each time.”</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> What were Bernstein’s influences and what impact did Bernstein’s score have when the musical first premiered? And why do you think it remains so recognised today? </p> <p><em><strong>Guy:</strong></em> “Bernstein was influenced by many things. There is an <a href="https://www.wrti.org/arts-desk/2018-08-23/the-surprising-backstory-to-west-side-story" target="_blank" rel="noopener">excellent article by Debra Lew Harder</a> that outlines these influences. I love the combination of Jewish themes, Puerto Rican rhythm, Mexican dance music and of course American jazz. His classical roots also come in here – especially the music of Aaron Copland and George Gershwin. The genius is Bernstein's ability to blend all this into a score that tells the story so brilliantly."</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> What’s your favourite moment in the music that audiences might not always notice but could listen out for?</p> <p><em><strong>Guy:</strong></em> I like what is known as ‘THE BALCONY SCENE’. Most people will know it as the iconic love duet ‘TONIGHT’. In the show this scene moves between spoken dialogue (with underscoring), into the song and back into dialogue in a wonderfully cohesive way. It is so well crafted and is quite a challenge for the conductor to fit the music with the dialogue in a seamless way. I also love the scene in the bridal shop that includes the song ‘ONE HAND ONE HEART’.</p> <p><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2024/03/Wayne-Scott-Kermond-as-Doc.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p><strong>Wayne Scott Kermond</strong></p> <p>Wayne Scott Kermond, hailing from a rich lineage of Australian Vaudeville performers, epitomises the essence of musical theatre, comedy and cabaret. With a repertoire spanning from <em>Anything Goes</em> to <em>Hairspray</em>, including acclaimed performances in several productions of<em> West Side Story</em>, Kermond's versatility shines through. Additionally, he's showcased his creative prowess as the creator and star of captivating cabaret shows such as <em>Candy Man</em> and <em>Jive Junkys</em>. Beyond the stage, Kermond's talents extend to film, where he's contributed to projects like <em>Happy Feet 1 &amp; 2</em>, and as a respected scriptwriter and director for various musicals, cabarets and corporate events. With accolades including a Green Room Award and Mo Award, alongside nominations for Helpmann Awards, Kermond's exceptional abilities and esteemed showbiz heritage solidify his status as an extraordinary Australian talent.</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> You and Guy first worked on this musical 40 years ago, how does it feel to be coming back together on the Handa Opera version?</p> <p><em><strong>Wayne:</strong></em> “I first performed in <em>West Side Story</em> at the old Her Majesty’s Theatre (Sydney), 40 years ago playing the youngest member of the Jets gang, ‘Baby John’, and then again in another fabulous production touring Australia / New Zealand in the mid-nineties playing Arab. And so it was lovely to be reminded by Guy on the first day of rehearsals for this season how special it is to us both, here we are, doing it again, just a little greyer."</p> <p>“We shared a few laughs about ‘where did that time go?’, and how ‘young’ we still look after all these years. It’s so great to work with Guy again, I think the last show we did together was <em>Chicago</em>, back in the late nineties. So with Guy's huge amount of expertise and experience at the helm as our Musical Director the show is in great hands. Wait till you hear the amazing Orchestra.”</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> What about this musical’s story, lyrics, etc resonate with you and why do you think it keeps being seen on stage? Can it appeal to all ages?</p> <p><em><strong>Wayne:</strong></em> “<em>West Side Story</em> is as iconic to music theatre as <em>Swan Lake</em> is to ballet. All great musicals such as <em>West Side</em> have to have a great love story; <em>West Side </em>certainly has that. And to add to that, also an incredible score, dynamic original choreography and a beautifully written book makes it a triple threat. That's why it stands the test of time – it's an inter-generational piece, whose story and message still stands today, which is the reason why I’m now getting the opportunity to play an adult character ‘Doc’ in this OA production 40 years later, as it will be for another artist, in another 40 years' time.”</p> <p><em><strong>OverSixty:</strong></em> What’s your favourite moment in the show and why?</p> <p><em><strong>Wayne:</strong></em> It is very difficult to say there is a favourite moment as there are so many. The whole journey of the show is something everyone who loves theatre should experience. The Prologue, Dance at the Gym, America, Cool, Tonight, Something's Comin, and not forgetting the Quintet powerhouse... Every part of this show is special, whether you're seeing the show for the first time or for the tenth time, it’s exhilarating, poignant and moving."</p> <p>“It’s especially wonderful for me to have been given the opportunity to revisit the show, after all these years later as a performer. And it’s very exciting to watch another generation of performers being given the opportunity to experience such an exceptional piece of theatre.”</p> <p>So, mark your calendars, Sydney-siders, because Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is about to serve up a theatrical experience like no other. With world-class performances, breathtaking views of the harbour, and enough fireworks to make New Year's Eve jealous, this is one event you won't want to miss. </p> <p>So grab your tickets, grab your friends, and get ready to experience the magic of <em>West Side Story </em>like never before. See you at the opera!</p> <p>For more information and ticket sales, check out <a href="https://opera.org.au/productions/west-side-story-on-sydney-harbour/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">opera.org.au/harbour</a></p> <p><em>All images: Supplied</em></p>

Domestic Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Elevating tradition: La Traviata at the Sydney Opera House

<p>Opera Australia is set to enchant audiences as it opens its highly anticipated 2024 season with the Sydney premiere of Sarah Giles’ acclaimed production of Verdi’s timeless masterpiece, <em>La Traviata</em>. The curtains will rise on January 2nd at the iconic Joan Sutherland Theatre in the Sydney Opera House, promising an unforgettable journey into the world of love, sacrifice and redemption.</p> <p>Hailed as "an absolute triumph" by <em>The AU Review</em> and described as "audaciously new" by <em>InReview</em>, this co-production by Opera Queensland, State Opera South Australia and West Australian Opera promises to deliver the quintessential glamour of <em>La Traviata</em> while offering a fresh, female perspective. Director Sarah Giles skilfully brings the inner turmoil of Violetta to the forefront, shedding light on the harsh realities and heartaches of her life as a courtesan.</p> <p>Enhancing the narrative, Charles Davis' masterful set design delves into Violetta's public and private spheres, while his costumes brilliantly capture the opulent world of lavish parties and extravagance synonymous with <em>La Traviata</em>.</p> <p>For the first time, the award-winning conductor Jessica Cottis will take the baton, leading the Opera Australia Orchestra and the celebrated Opera Australia Chorus through Verdi's emotionally stirring score. Audiences can anticipate spine-tingling renditions of iconic pieces such as the lively "Brindisi" and the achingly beautiful "Sempre libera".</p> <p>Taking centre stage as Violetta, Australian soprano Samantha Clarke, fresh from a string of successful debuts in prestigious venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, is set to mesmerise audiences with her poignant portrayal. Joining her are the talented Australian-Chinese tenor Kang Wang, reprising the role of Alfredo, and New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes, making his Opera Australia debut as Giorgio Germont.</p> <p>As the season progresses, rising Australian soprano Sophie Salvesani will step into the shoes of Violetta, a role she previously captivated audiences with in 2022. Alongside her, Australian tenor Tomas Dalton returns as Alfredo, while baritone Luke Gabbedy, fresh from his acclaimed performance in OA's five-star production of the <em>Ring Cycle</em> in Brisbane, graces the stage as Giorgio Germont.</p> <p>Prepare to be swept away by the passion, drama, and timeless melodies of <em>La Traviata</em>, as Opera Australia invites you to experience this unforgettable journey of love and sacrifice, reimagined for a new era.</p> <p>Don't miss your chance to witness this exquisite production at the Sydney Opera House, from January 2nd to March 16th, 2024. For more information, <a href="https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/opera-australia/2024-season/la-traviata" target="_blank" rel="noopener">click here</a>.</p>

Art

Placeholder Content Image

"Unfair" parking fines could soon be a thing of the past

<p>In recent years, road users in one Australian state have found themselves at the receiving end of unwelcome surprises in their mailboxes.</p> <p>An experimental parking fine process, initiated with the aim of streamlining administrative procedures, has instead garnered significant backlash from unsuspecting motorists.</p> <p>However, relief seems to be on the horizon as the New South Wales Government steps in to rectify the situation.</p> <p>The issue revolves around the introduction of ticketless parking fines, a system that was implemented with the intention of simplifying the issuance of penalties for parking violations. Under this scheme, parking officers could send details of fines directly to Revenue NSW, which would then dispatch infringement notices either by post or through the Service NSW app.</p> <p>However, what was meant to be a simple and streamlined modernisation effort has led to a surge in revenue from fines and a subsequent erosion of trust in the system.</p> <p>Concerns about the fairness and transparency of ticketless fines have been mounting, prompting action from the NSW government. Reports indicate that Finance Minister Courtney Houssos has written to all 128 local councils in the state, urging them to halt further adoption of the ticketless parking fine system. Instead, councils have been instructed to revert to traditional ticketing methods and ensure that drivers are promptly made aware of fines at the time of the offence.</p> <p>The move comes in response to a range of issues highlighted by critics of the ticketless system. One major concern is the lack of immediate notification, which diminishes the deterrent effect of fines and makes it difficult for motorists to contest them effectively.</p> <p>Without receiving timely notification, drivers may struggle to gather evidence or address issues such as inadequate signage, hidden signs, or other circumstances that could warrant a review of the fine.</p> <p>Organisations like the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA) have been vocal opponents of the ticketless scheme, labelling it as "unfair" and criticising its impact on transparency.</p> <p>According to NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury, the system reduces the ability of drivers to contest fines, thereby undermining their rights and contributing to a loss of community trust in the administration of fines.</p> <p>The NSW government's intervention signals a recognition of these concerns and a commitment to restoring confidence in the fines system. By prioritising immediate notification for drivers, authorities aim to address the shortcomings of the ticketless parking fine process.</p> <p>The decision to reverse the experimental system comes amid staggering revenue figures, with nearly $140 million generated from ticketless fines in 2023 alone. While the financial gains may be substantial, they come at the expense of public trust and fairness, prompting a much-needed course correction.</p> <p>As Minister Houssos asserts, providing immediate notification to drivers is not only the right thing to do but also a crucial step towards rebuilding community trust. By ensuring that drivers are promptly informed of fines and have the opportunity to contest them, authorities can strike a balance between effective enforcement and procedural fairness in managing parking violations.</p> <p>As road users await the reinstatement of traditional ticketing methods, they can take solace in the prospect of a fairer and more transparent fines system in the future.</p> <p><em>Images: City of Sydney</em></p>

Legal

Placeholder Content Image

Mission: Impossible Sydney mansion sells for eye-watering price

<p>One of Sydney's most iconic properties, known as the Boomerang in Elizabeth Bay, has sold for $80 million. </p> <p>The mansion is featured in the second instalment in the <em>Mission: Impossible</em> franchise, with the 2000 movie starring Tom Cruise being set and filmed in Sydney.</p> <p>It was the first house to officially sell for above $1 million in 1978, before setting another record in 2002 when it fetched $20.7 million.</p> <p>Now, multiple sources have confirmed it has been snapped up by a purchaser, originally from Asia, for four times what it last sold for. </p> <p>The property has long been rated as one of Sydney’s Top 50 homes, and has been in the name of Katrina Fox, the daughter of Melbourne-based billionaire trucking magnate Lindsay Fox, since 2005. </p> <p>The impressive home was put up for sale by Ray White in 2017 with hopes of selling for $60 million and then again with Brad Pillinger of Pillinger for $80 million in 2021 — the last agent to have it listed.</p> <p>Pillinger couldn’t be contacted ahead of publication, but other sources have confirmed the property has sold for the $80m asking price, while speculation from other sources that the result was $105 million have been dismissed.</p> <p>Boomerang sits on 4233 square metres of waterfront land, and features 25 rooms including a private cinema modelled on the State Theatre.</p> <p><em>Image credits: realestate.com.au / Paramount Pictures</em></p>

Real Estate

Placeholder Content Image

Burial plot up for sale for $100,000

<p>It turns out Australia's housing crisis extends beyond the grave, as it's now equally expensive to die in Sydney as it is to live. </p> <p>A graveyard in Sydney has wait lines longer than that of an Eastern Suburbs rental property, with plots at the exclusive Waverley Cemetery now up for sale for up to $100,000. </p> <p>Eyebrows were raised online when the plot at the cemetery was advertised for sale on Facebook Marketplace, with the ad reading that the plot is “used – like new” and is available “in perpetuity”.</p> <p>To sweeten the deal, the burial site’s owner states it has “ocean views” and is in a “quiet neighbourhood,” which is no doubt what one must take into consideration your forever home. </p> <p>Other plots in the same cemetery are also up for sale for a lesser $50,000 and $70,000. </p> <p>Talking to <em><a title="9now.nine.com.au" href="https://9now.nine.com.au/a-current-affair/sydneys-cemetery-crisis-exposed-as-100k-grave-listed-on-facebook-marketplace/fc2311a8-3591-4625-84f2-340de78d9f98" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A Current Affair</a></em>, Ben Kelly from the Australasian Cemeteries and Crematoria Association, said cost of living pressures, or perhaps cost of dying pressures, were a factor even in the graveyard industry, given the rising cost of cemetery maintenance. </p> <p>“Waverley Cemetery is a beautiful, historic cemetery with extremely limited capacity left,” Mr Kelly said.</p> <p>“As the population grows these cemeteries are filling up and they are creating new ones but they are further and further away.</p> <p>“So when the spots do come available they are obviously of a premium.”</p> <p>A place in Waverley Cemetery has long been highly sought after, with the heritage listed site boasting impressive Victorian and Edwardian monuments and memorials, as well as ocean views that are... to die for. </p> <p>While there are definitely some people prepared to fork out the expensive sum for their prime spot in the ground, others weren't so sure. </p> <p>“It sounds disgraceful to be honest,” one passer-by told <em>ACA</em>, when told of the price of a plot at the graveyard.</p> <p>“I think that’s ridiculous”.</p> <p>Competition to get into Waverley Cemetery is so fierce that new plots with perpetual rights are no longer available, with the graveyard instead offering renewable internment rights. </p> <p>This allows for the burial of human rights for a minimum initial term of 25 years which then has to be renewed, and even then, there's an extensive waitlist. </p> <p>The extortionate prices after reflected in a 2020 report by the NSW Government, which found some of Sydney’s largest and most well-known public cemeteries were in there “final years” of being able to accommodate new burials and will likely be full by 2032.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / A Current Affair</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Pink denied entry to Sydney hotspot

<p>Global superstar Pink, known for her chart-topping hits and gravity-defying aerial stunts, faced an unexpected hurdle during her recent visit to a Sydney hotspot.</p> <p>Reports have emerged detailing how the 44-year-old singer, with her entourage of eight, was turned away at the door of the Manly Skiff Club on Monday evening, sending waves of disbelief through the entertainment world.</p> <p>Eyewitness Mark Eymes recounted the cringe-worthy encounter to <a href="https://manlyobserver.com.au/surf-and-turf-how-manly-snubbed-both-pnk-and-a-kardashian-this-week/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Manly Observer</a>, highlighting Pink's valiant yet futile attempts to gain entry. "I overheard her saying that she had a booking, but when they asked her to provide her ID, she said she didn’t have any on her," Eymes disclosed, echoing the sentiments of many who witnessed the debacle unfold.</p> <p>Despite Pink's earnest explanation that she had already secured her booking with a deposit, the club's staunch adherence to the Registered Clubs Act 1976, mandating the presentation of identification for temporary membership, left the pop icon out in the cold harbour breeze.</p> <p>"Next thing, I saw Pink and her group walking away. They just turfed her out," Eymes recounted, painting a picture of celebrity rejection that would make even the most stoic of us cringe.</p> <p>In a valiant effort to come to Pink's rescue, Eymes, akin to a knight in a polo shirt, attempted to summon the Skiff Club directors and floor manager to rectify the situation. Alas, his efforts were in vain, as Pink and her posse were unceremoniously ushered away, leaving behind a cloud of disappointment and a faint echo of "Get the Party Started".</p> <p>However, amid the chaos and the flustered apologies from the Skiff Club's Secretary Manager, Matt Hazell, Pink maintained her composure, displaying a level of grace and decorum belying her superstar status. Witnesses attested that not once did she resort to diva antics, despite the palpable sting of rejection. "Not once did she throw her weight around. She was really pleasant despite being a little upset that she couldn’t come in," Eymes reported.</p> <p>As Pink continues her Summer Carnival stadium tour, captivating audiences with her electrifying performances and trademark aerial acrobatics, one can't help but wonder if this unfortunate incident will serve as inspiration for her next chart-topping hit. Will we soon find ourselves belting out lyrics about the perils of forgetting one's ID at the club? Only time will tell.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram / Manly Skiff Club</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Zimmerman founder sets new price record for Bondi home

<p>Simone Zimmerman has set a new home price record for Bondi, and she didn't even need to take out a mortgage. </p> <p>The fashion guru and founder of Zimmermann has splurged $30 million for her four-bedroom, three-bathroom home just moments away from the iconic Bondi Beach. </p> <p>“This ocean front executive residence is tucked away in a quiet street only moments to the iconic Bondi Beach and all it has to offer,”  the listing for the beachside home read. </p> <p>According to property records, the home - which is located just behind the popular Bondi to Bronte walk - last sold for $5.75m in June 2008.</p> <p>The fashion mogul is reported to have bypassed local real estate agents, purchasing the home directly from a local investor. </p> <p>No major changes have been made to the home since, but prior to Zimmerman's purchase it was being rented out at $4,400 per week. </p> <p>According to PropTrack the median house price for Bondi is around $3.75m, which went up by 4.7 per cent over the past year. </p> <p>The stunning home features 4 double bedrooms, all with large built-in wardrobes and a separate study perfect for the business-woman. </p> <p>It also has a gourmet kitchen with a stainless-steel benchtop and large open dining room. </p> <p>The lounge room opens onto a large deck with beautiful ocean views and plenty of natural lighting. </p> <p>This comes after the luxury womenswear label sold a majority stake in its company to private equity investors in August last year. </p> <p>Sisters Simone and Nicky Zimmerman are founders of the brand, which initially began as a stall in Sydney’s Paddington market, before the sisters opened their first local shop in Darlinghurst. </p> <p>It now operates across 58 global destinations in the USA, UK, Europe and China, with the sisters now having an estimated net worth of around $1bn each. </p> <p><em>Images: Realestate.com.au</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Pink spotted at Bondi ahead of national tour

<p>In a dazzling spectacle of beach vibes and sun-soaked fun, pop sensation Pink has graced the shores of Bondi Beach ahead of her highly anticipated Australian tour.</p> <p>The iconic singer, known for her powerhouse performances and unapologetic personality, was spotted basking in the Aussie sun with her adorable children, making waves Down Under.</p> <p>The excitement was palpable as Pink, with her trademark pink hair, took to social media to express her joy at being back on Australian soil. "Bondi Beach, it's been too long!!!!!!! Bills was delicious, too. ️Soooooooo happy to be back on this side of the world! Thank you beautiful Australia for being our home away from home. Kids are stoked," she gushed alongside some envy-inducing beach pictures.</p> <p>It seems Bills, a popular eatery in Sydney, left quite the impression on the star. If Pink says it's delicious, it's practically a culinary endorsement for the ages. (Move over food critics; Pink's tastebuds have spoken.)</p> <p>But this isn't Pink's first love letter to the Land Down Under. The singer has long expressed her admiration for Australia and has been a staunch supporter during challenging times. In 2020, she pledged a generous $500,000 donation to the country's fire services during the devastating Black Summer bushfires, proving she not only rocks the stage but also has a heart of gold.</p> <p>As Pink gears up for her stadium tour in Australia, aptly named the Summer Carnival tour, fans are eagerly anticipating a spectacle that will undoubtedly leave them smiling and singing until their cheeks hurt. Kicking off at Sydney's Allianz Stadium on February 9, the tour will then take Pink and her musical carnival to various cities, including Newcastle, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.</p> <p>It's been nearly six years since Pink's 2018 tour, Beautiful Trauma, which wowed almost 560,000 Australian and New Zealand fans. Eager to share the joy once again, Pink expressed her excitement, saying, "I can't wait to bring the Summer Carnival tour to my home away from home and smile and sing together until our cheeks hurt. Summer 2024 can't come soon enough!"</p> <p>The tour is not just a celebration of Pink's electrifying stage presence but also a nod to her ninth album, Trustfall, released in February the previous year. The anticipation is building, and fans can't wait to witness the magic unfold live on stage.</p> <p>Adding a touch of whimsy to the excitement, Pink <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/entertainment/music/my-home-away-from-home-pink-s-dream-down-under" target="_blank" rel="noopener">teased the possibility</a> of making Australia her permanent home last year. In an interview with <em>60 Minutes</em>, she revealed, "Last year, I was thinking about applying for citizenship; I am not even joking. I was like, 'If we're going somewhere Carey, [Australia] is where we're going'." Australia, get ready to welcome Pink with open arms – she might just become our newest citizen!</p> <p>So, as Pink readies to paint Australia with her musical colours and contagious energy, fans are counting down the days until the Summer Carnival kicks off, promising a tour de force that will linger in their memories long after the final note fades away. Bondi Beach, Bills, and a Summer Carnival – it's a Pink party, and everyone's invited.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Domestic Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Leaked photo of Sydney shark victim sparks urgent probe

<p>The sanctity of patient privacy has come under scrutiny at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital following the leak of a graphic photograph depicting the treatment of <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/woman-bitten-by-shark-in-sydney-harbour-identified" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shark attack victim Lauren O'Neill</a>.</p> <p>The 29-year-old suffered a serious injury after being attacked by a bull shark near a private wharf in Elizabeth Bay, sparking both a medical and privacy crisis.</p> <p>The photograph in question, which we are not going to publish, shows Ms O'Neill's uncovered leg being attended to by medical staff, and has stirred concerns about the vulnerability of patient privacy in the digital age. St Vincent's Hospital has launched a comprehensive investigation into the breach, expressing deep regret and extending apologies to Ms O'Neill.</p> <p>"St Vincent’s has become aware of photos in the public domain that appear to have been taken in the Emergency Department and are related to those of a patient injury," said hospital spokesperson David Faktor.</p> <p>"We have sincerely apologised for any part St Vincent’s played in the photos being taken." </p> <p>The investigation aims to uncover the identity of the person responsible for taking the photograph and how it ended up in the public domain. Faktor aptly described the incident as a "wake-up call", highlighting the ease with which privacy can be compromised in today's digital landscape.</p> <p>Ms O'Neill, who is on track for a full recovery, expressed her gratitude to the heroic neighbours, emergency services and medical professionals who aided her. However, her appreciation comes amid the distressing breach of her privacy during a vulnerable moment.</p> <p>As the investigation unfolds, it is crucial for St Vincent's Hospital to implement robust protocols and security measures to prevent future breaches and reassure the public of their commitment to patient confidentiality.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

Placeholder Content Image

Restaurant's kind act for struggling Aussies

<p>As Aussies continue to adapt to the rising cost-of-living, one restaurant owner took it upon herself to give back to the "struggling" community. </p> <p>Aleeya Hamidan the owner of Manoosh & Co in Eagle Vale, southwest of Sydney, realised that a lot of people in the community are struggling to afford food.</p> <p>"Prices are going up in rent, and there are a lot of large families that live here as well. They don't have much spare money to go out and eat with their kids after school,"  she told <em>Yahoo News Australia</em>.</p> <p>So, she decided to implement a system where customers in need can get a free meal that has been paid for by other customers. </p> <p>The text: "Please take one if [you're] in need!! Already paid for from our beautiful customers" is written on a whiteboard, with six receipts containing various orders valued at around $10-$12 attached to it. </p> <p>Hamidan was the first to put up an order on the board a few weeks ago to encourage other customers to do the same, and the system has grown in popularity since. </p> <p>"One man came in a few weeks ago and took one of the free meals, but the following week when he did have money, he purchased one for someone else," she said. </p> <p>"We just didn't want it to be intimidating for people who can't afford our products.</p> <p>"It was just something we started doing for a little but have now continued to do. We've had such amazing feedback on it."</p> <p>The restaurant owner's kind deed was praised after local woman Amanda Mauga posted a picture of the board on social media. </p> <p>"If you are having a hard time and need a meal or coffee, go down to Manoosh Eagle Vale," she shared in a community Facebook page. </p> <p>"People buy food for people who need it. So if you're in need head down there, I have left you a coffee. Enjoy."</p> <p>Mauga said that she "felt inspired to help" after seeing the thoughtful gesture, and wanted to help those who were homeless and struggling in their community "in some small way". </p> <p>The post racked up thousands of likes and comments from people impressed by the "great initiative". </p> <p>"What a great idea! We need more like this. So many people are struggling, bravo," one wrote. </p> <p>"Well done folks... nice there are caring people around," another commented</p> <p>"What an amazing shop for even doing this," a third commented.</p> <p><em>Images: Manoosh & Co</em></p> <p> </p>

Domestic Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Woman bitten by shark in Sydney Harbour identified

<p>A 29-year-old woman may lose her leg after being bitten by a bull shark while swimming in Sydney Harbour. </p> <p>On Monday night, Lauren O'Neill went for an evening swim near a private wharf in Elizabeth Bay when she was attacked by the shark, screaming out to neighbours for help.</p> <p>Michael Porter told NCA NewsWire he had just gotten home from work when he heard the woman’s scream.</p> <p>“I saw Lauren climbing out of the Harbour on the ladder and she was sort of pulling herself up quite weakly, she didn’t have much strength and there was a whole pool of red blood in the Harbour,” Mr Porter said.</p> <p>“Her leg was limp.”</p> <p>An ambulance was called and transported Lauren to St Vincent's Hospital, where she remains with "serious injuries".</p> <p>While her condition is stable, the 29-year-old is facing the possibility of losing her leg.</p> <p>Marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck told <a href="https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/animals/woman-bitten-in-sydney-harbour-shark-attack/news-story/c59017954729f2452efc7f26a8a3f0b1" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>news.com.au</em></a> it was “highly likely” to be a bull shark that bit Ms O'Neill, and warned people against swimming in the harbour, particularly in low light.</p> <p>“Bull sharks know they can come into Sydney Harbour and score an opportunistic feed,” he said.</p> <p>“If they can’t see or the water is cloudy, these animals will bite just to determine what something is and whether it’s prey. Unfortunately, Sydney Harbour after dusk is simply not a safe place to swim.” </p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram / Nine News</em></p>

Caring

Our Partners