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National News Australia

Five charged after investigation into “rip on, rip off” method of accessing drugs concealed in shipping containers

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Five charged after investigation into “rip on, rip off” method of accessing drugs concealed in shipping containers

Drug and Firearms Squad detectives have charged five men following an ongoing investigation into the supply of large commercial quantities of drugs concealed in shipping containers.

Strike Force Biles was established by State Crime Command’s Drug and Firearms Squad in May 2023 to investigate a criminal syndicate allegedly using a method commonly referred to as “rip on, rip off” to access prohibited drugs concealed in legitimate shipping containers.

To date, strike force detectives – with assistance from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF) – have seized 201kg of cocaine from three containers, with a street value of $105m.

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Six people have already been charged for various related offences, which remain before the courts.

Following further inquiries, just after 6am yesterday (Thursday 19 October 2023), strike force detectives – with assistance from the Public Order & Riot Squad and Raptor Squad – executed eight search warrants across Woodpark, Rydalmere, Wentworthville, Plumpton, Merrylands, St Clair, and Seven Hills.

At the Woodpark address, police arrested a 18-year-old man who they will allege directed the local criminal syndicate in ‘ripping off’ the containers.

He was taken to Granville Police Station where he was charged with 12 offences including knowingly/recklessly direct criminal group, take part in supply large commercial quantity of prohibited drugs, manufacture prohibited drug, knowingly deal with proceeds and property proceeds of crime, and possessing ammunition, DECCD, housebreaking implements, and means of disguising face with intent to commit indictable offence.

The man was refused bail to appear in a Children’s Court today (Friday 20 October 2023).

A 28-year-old man was arrested at the Plumpton address and taken to Blacktown Police Station, where he was charged with eight offences including participate in criminal group, take part in supply large commercial quantity of prohibited drugs, possess ammunition without holding a licence or permit, and possessing housebreaking implements and means of disguising face with intent to commit indictable offence.

He was refused bail and appeared in Blacktown Local Court yesterday.

In Merrylands, police arrested an 18-year-old man who was taken to Granville Police Station, where he was charged with 11 offences including participate in a criminal group, take part in supply of large commercial quantity of prohibited drugs, knowingly deal with proceeds of crime, and possessing an unauthorised pistol, DECCD, housebreaking implements, and means of disguising face with intent to commit indictable offence.

He was refused bail to appear in Parramatta Local Court today.

Another 18-year-old man was arrested in Bondi and taken to Bondi Police Station, where he was charged with seven offences including participate in criminal group, take part in supply of large commercial quantity of prohibited drugs, knowingly deal with proceeds of crime, and possessing housebreaking implements and means of disguising face with intent to commit indictable offence.

He was refused bail to appear in a Children’s Court today.

In Seven Hills, police arrested a 25-year-old man. He was taken to Blacktown Police Station where he was charged with participate in criminal group, deal with property proceeds of crime, and possessing ammunition without holding a licence or permit, and identity info to commit indictable offence.

The 25-year-old was refused bail and appeared in Blacktown Local Court yesterday.

During searches of the properties, police located a number of items relevant to their investigation including $37,000 cash, 4kg of methylamphetamine, 3kg of cocaine, a replica firearm, ammunition, electronics and luxury jewellery and watches.

All the items were seized to undergo further forensic examination.

Police will allege in court the 18-year-old Woodpark man received contracts alerting him to a shipment of drugs and directed the group to identify and then break into the containers concealing the prohibited substances.

Those drugs – usually cocaine – were then supplied to a nominated recipient before the group would receive a payment.

Investigations under Strike Force Biles continue.

Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.

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NSW Government to Modernise Planning with $5.6 Million AI Investment

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NSW Government to Modernise Planning with $5.6 Million AI Investment

 

The NSW Government has announced a $5.6 million initiative to integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) into local council planning systems to address the ongoing housing crisis and shortage of planners. This move aims to accelerate development assessment times and enhance the efficiency of the planning process.

The “AI in NSW Planning” project has identified key areas within the development application assessment process that contribute to delays and could benefit from AI technologies.

After thorough evaluation, three innovative technologies have been selected for trials through the AI Solutions Panel and Early Adopter Grant Program:

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  • Adaptovate Pty Ltd’s Development Assessment Intelligence System (DAISY)
  • Archistar Platform
  • Propcode CDC

Councils are encouraged to apply for funding to test these technologies, with collaborative joint grant applications eligible for up to $500,000 and single council applications up to $200,000. This funding initiative is designed to foster innovative solutions to streamline the development application process.

Approximately 85 percent of all new home development applications in NSW are assessed by council staff. The introduction of recommended AI tools aims to reduce the average time taken to assess development applications by swiftly identifying administrative and data input errors.

Applications for the Early Adopter Grant Program are open to all councils and will close on 22 May 2024. Successful applicants will be notified by June.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Paul Scully, emphasised the transformative potential of the program: “This grant program is set to modernise the NSW planning system, enhancing its efficiency by equipping our planners with the best tools available. Our objective is to ensure the planning system operates at full capacity, which is essential for the timely delivery of new homes.”

For further details or to apply for a grant, councils are invited to visit the NSW Planning website. This initiative marks a significant step towards bringing NSW planning systems into the 21st century, leveraging technology to meet the growing needs of the community.

 

For more National Australia News, visit here.

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Nearly $1.4M in Grants Awarded to Strengthen Rural Communities Across Australia

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Nearly $1.4M in Grants Awarded to Strengthen Rural Communities Across Australia

 

In a significant boost for rural development, the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) has announced that nearly $1.4 million in grants have been distributed to 129 community groups across remote, rural, and regional Australia. These grants, part of the FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) program, aim to support a variety of local initiatives designed to enhance community cohesion and resilience.

The funding was allocated across three streams: community enhancements like upgrades to local facilities; COVID-19 recovery projects such as the creation of cultural precincts; and disaster preparedness and recovery initiatives, which include programs tailored for trauma-responsive community healing.

This round of SRC funding saw an unprecedented demand with 450 applications submitted, requesting over $4.5 million in support for projects collectively valued at more than $19 million. In response to the high demand, FRRR has streamlined its application process, significantly reducing the time from application to award to just nine weeks.

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Jill Karena, FRRR’s Place Portfolio Lead, highlighted the shifting landscape of funding in rural areas, noting a decrease in traditional government and local business support. “The SRC program’s flexibility and year-round availability are crucial, especially as communities transition from immediate disaster response to long-term recovery,” Karena explained. “This round we observed a notable increase in applications for community events funding and initiatives aimed at boosting local economies through tourism and other activities.”

Despite the generous grant allocations, there remains a significant unmet need within these communities. An additional 85 projects were ready for funding, seeking over $900,000 which could not be met due to limited resources. This underscores the critical role that small grants play in sustaining rural community groups and why FRRR is actively seeking new partners to expand its funding capabilities.

“Groups have expressed the importance of having access to timely and secure funding to support not just immediate needs but also medium and long-term goals,” said Ms. Karena. “These projects foster a strong sense of place and identity, and they require continuous support. We hope to engage more collaborative funders to join us in nurturing the heart of Australia’s rural sectors.”

A complete list of the grant recipients is available on the FRRR’s website. The SRC program is supported by a variety of donors, from private individuals to larger foundations, all listed on the FRRR’s website. Community groups and local not-for-profits are encouraged to review the program guidelines and consider applying for future rounds of funding.

More information about the SRC program can be found here.

 

For more National Australia News, visit here.

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National Parenting Survey Unveils Challenges of Modern Parenting Amid Economic and Social Pressures

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National Parenting Survey Unveils Challenges of Modern Parenting Amid Economic and Social Pressures

 

In a landmark survey, the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program today disclosed findings from its most extensive parenting study to date, underscoring the severe impacts of economic hardships, emotional stress, sleep deprivation, and digital media concerns on the mental health and wellbeing of children.

A total of 8,304 parents and caregivers participated in this comprehensive national survey, orchestrated by Triple P founder and Clinical Psychologist at the University of Queensland, Professor Matt Sanders. The findings offer a detailed overview of the multitude of challenges confronting a broad and diverse demographic of Australian families.

Professor Sanders emphasised the urgency of the situation, stating, “The results reveal the current state of stress under which families in Australia are operating, amidst escalating financial difficulties, rising concerns over children’s mental health and wellbeing, and increasing instances of school refusal.”

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He further noted, “Parenting is a complex journey exacerbated by these pressing issues. It is imperative that we equip families on the front lines with evidence-based support to foster their wellbeing and enhance their parenting efficacy, ensuring the development of happy, resilient children.”

Key Insights from Triple P’s 2024 National Parenting Survey:

  • Financial Restraints: Approximately 90% of respondents have reduced spending due to cost-of-living increases, with significant cutbacks on dining out (81%), entertainment (70%), and vacations (69%). More than half have also scaled down on grocery expenses.
  • Emotional and Relationship Impact: 42% of parents reported that financial strain has adversely affected their capacity to maintain calm and nurturing relationships within the family.
  • Self-Care and Mental Health: Nearly half of all parents expressed dissatisfaction with their personal time for self-care activities such as exercising, socialising, or engaging in hobbies. About two-thirds feel guilty about the time spent with their children, and a substantial majority (83%) of parents with young children under five years old experience sleep deprivation weekly.
  • Communication and Discipline: Over 80% of parents find themselves raising their voice or yelling at their children, highlighting the strain of parenting under stress.
  • Digital Concerns: The digital realm poses significant challenges; 85% of parents who allow their children to use social media report regular conflicts, and a strong majority remains concerned about online safety (82%) and the impact of social media on their children’s mental health (79%).

Professor Sanders advocates for proactive engagement, “These findings underscore the importance of equipping parents and caregivers with effective strategies to guide their children’s digital interactions. Regular, open discussions about technology use are essential for navigating this complex landscape.”

Despite these challenges, the survey revealed a resilient streak among parents, with 80% optimistic that their children would lead better lives than their own.

“The response underscores the pivotal role of parents and caregivers as agents of change in their children’s lives. To support this vital role, we continue to provide accessible, evidence-based parenting resources, with over 270,000 Australian families already benefiting from our online support programs,” added Professor Sanders.

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care under the Parenting Education and Support Program, the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program offers essential resources for parents and caregivers, accessible at triplep-parenting.net.au.

The survey was executed by C|T Group on behalf of Triple P International, reflecting a national initiative to address and mitigate parenting challenges through strategic support and guidance.

 

For more National Australia News, visit here.

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