Facing the future: Toby Thorpe ventures out from Huonville High. Photo: Peter Hannam Toby Thorpe, shares the stage with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (left) and Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan. Photo: Supplied
It's not every day an n high school student from gets to share a stage with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed and the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev – and walks away with a $US100,000 ($132,000) prize.
But for 15 year-old Toby Thorpe, this week's award ceremony in Abu Dhabi was merely the end of the beginning for a two-year plan to spur interest in renewable energy and energy savings among students and his local community south-west of Hobart.
"It's been a long time coming … now we can actually put our plan into action," Mr Thorpe said. "It's quite exciting."
So far, about 20 students have helped design and install a pellet mill, bio digester, a bicycle-powered mobile cinema, and started work on a greenhouse made from 2500 recycled bottles.
The main venture, though, will now proceed with the funding from the Zayed Future Energy Prize. That venture will transform a decrepit former dental clinic at the school into a six-star energy rated training site on campus.
"It will be a research centre for students and an example for community members and other schools to learn what we're doing so they can take it back and do it themselves," Mr Thorpe said.
Those other schools may include fellow finalists for the Oceania category of the prize scooped by Huonville.
"[It's] a lighthouse school for the region," Geoff Williamson, the school's principal said. "We're already having conversations with Samoans and the Fijians – a lot of their projects are similar."
And for Mr Thorpe, the adventure may be just beginning. His long-held plan to become a civil engineer with the n airforce may get a makeover after a visit to Abu Dhabi's main renewable energy research centre, the Masdar Institute.
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The author was a guest at IRENA's seventh annual assembly and the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Asha Taylor tries on new school shoes at Shoes & Sox, in Bondi Junction, Sydney. Photo: Janie Barrett Herbie Khan likes his new shoes, with his mother Nicole Graham. Photo: Janie Barrett
Those $15 school shoes may be tempting, but be warned – a cheap and ill-fitting pair could cause corns, calluses, foot pain, lower back pain, and lasting damage.
"It's endlessly sad. Poor fitting or poor quality footwear can contribute to kids coming home feeling tired, sore and irritable, not wanting to play sport, and sometimes in pain," says Brendan Brown from A Step Ahead Podiatry.
It's back-to-school shopping time, and thousands of parents are deliberating over schools shoes, from $12 leather mary janes at Big W to $160 Torandos from Clark's.
Mr Brown says there are five features he always looks out for, and the cheaper the pair, the fewer of the features they are likely to possess. They are: Firm heel counterDoesn't flex at the middleBends at the toeDoesn't twistLace-ups
He recommends lace-ups, ahead of velcro, buckles, and slip-ons, in that order, because "laces can be tightened and loosened from your toes to your ankles, helping make the shoe fit more like a glove on your foot."
He's also a fan of black runners as an alternative, from brands such as ASICS and New Balance, which are increasingly moving into the market.
"Ascent has a range of school shoes they call 'sports shoes in disguise'," he says. "The biggest mistake I see parents making is buying shoes too big for their children's feet."
Karen Craig, retail director of Shoes & Sox, says black runners were a popular buy, with many children wearing school shoes for three days a week, and then swapping into more comfortable footwear for the other two days.
Clark's Daytona leather lace-ups continue to be hugely popular among senior students, most likely because it comes in six widths.
Among junior boys, Clark's Lochie velcro shoes with double straps are a common sight, while junior girls are exiting stores with a pair of Clark's Indulge mary janes.
"Prices can vary depending on construction and width fitting. Our cheaper ones around $90 don't have the range of width fittings," says Ms Craig.
"The more expensive ones are all leather, and leather lined. At $90, they may have a synthetic inner, but they're perforated, allowing the foot to breathe."
Ms Craig says shoes should be properly fitted and last an entire year – that's about 1300 hours of wear.
"You get what you pay for, because $30 shoes are tempting, but it's all about the construction issues that are invisible to the consumer," she says.
Ascent was able to nab the Australasian Podiatry Council's exclusive endorsement two years ago after making an application, passing lab tests, and paying fees.
Before that, Clark's enjoyed the industry's exclusive endorsement.
George Wilson, APC's business development manager, says the logo is meant to indicate to the public they can trust the product, "that's all".
"There's no therapeutic benefit from wearing any sort of school shoes, but they're well designed and do no harm, are well constructed, durable, and for those reasons they have our support," he says. "The endorsement works like the National Heart Foundation's tick."
Zoe Taylor, mother-of-three, says comfort, durability and quality are the most important factors when shopping for school shoes for her children Eland, 11, Asha, 8, and Carter, 6.
"With Asha, we tried on lot of pairs, because her feet are very narrow, she wanted a certain style and it took us a few goes to get one that was actually good," she says.
Nicole Graham, from Randwick, says $100 was a lot of money to spend on shoes, but she wanted her son Herbie, who is entering kindergarten, to be "really comfortable because he has to walk to school everyday".
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Labor's health spokesman Walt Secord, left, with Opposition Leader Luke Foley. Photo: Jane Dyson n Medical Association NSW President Brad Frankum. Photo: Harriet Alexander
NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner.
The head of the influential doctors lobby has called out the Opposition's criticisms of the health system under minister Jillian Skinner as unhelpful and corrosive and urged Labor not to use hospitals to push its own political agenda.
n Medical Association NSW president Brad Frankum said he planned to meet Opposition Leader Luke Foley to address his concerns about Labor's attacks on Mrs Skinner, which were having a knock-on effect for doctors and nurses working in the system.
"I would urge people on both sides of politics to not use critical incidents in hospitals as a way of pushing party political agendas because it's very damaging to clinicians and hospitals but most importantly to patients in the system," Mr Frankum said.
"I understand that politically, in the short term, it's probably successful, but you've got to be careful what sort of health system you want to inherit if it does end up in getting you votes."
Mrs Skinner weathered a series of health scandals last year, including the gassing of two babies at Bankstown Hospital that left one brain damaged and the other dead, chemotherapy under-dosing at St Vincents Hospital, body mix-ups at Royal North Shore Hospital in which a baby was wrongly cremated and unapproved antibiotic use by doctors.
Labor's health spokesman Walt Secord has repeatedly called for her resignation, saying that she was covering up a crisis in the health system.
He told Fairfax Media he stood by his criticisms of the minister and would be delighted to meet Dr Frankum to discuss health policy.
"I want to work with doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to restore public confidence in the NSW health and hospital system, which has been destroyed by Jillian Skinner," Mr Secord said.
"As the Labor health spokesperson, my job and energies are spent solely on standing up for patients and their families – and advocating for them when they are let down by the state government. That has occurred repeatedly under Jillian Skinner."
"I think Mrs Skinner has done a woeful job as health minister. The new premier must replace Jillian Skinner immediately."
Premier Mike Baird was under pressure to drop Mrs Skinner from the portfolio in the cabinet reshuffle that was to occur before he blindsided colleagues with his resignation announcement on Thursday.
Mr Foley told reporters on Friday that Mrs Skinner was like a "cockroach" in her tenacity.
"She would survive a nuclear winter," he said.
Dr Frankum said while he expected Labor to hold the government to account, some of its attacks were irresponsible – such as pre-empting the findings of the St Vincents chemotherapy scandal – or nonsensical – such as blaming the government for the rise in Salmonella cases.
"I'm very non-partisan but I'm concerned about people not ambulance chasing because it really undermines the confidence that the public has in the health system."
Clinicians were able to work more effectively when Andrew McDonald, a paediatrician by trade, was the health spokesman for Labor, he said.
"We were able to go on with our job without worrying that every incident in the hospital system would end up on the front page and that's important because it had become extremely toxic through the last government's term," Dr Frankum said.
"I'm seeing a swing back to that now and I think that's really retrograde."
Mrs Skinner told her local newspaper the Mosman Daily on Thursday that she wanted to continue as health minister, but would support the leader in any event.
"I will do whatever Gladys wants me to do," Mrs Skinner said.
Lauren Mansfield scored 19 points against Bendigo. Photo: Elesa Kurtz Jazmon Gwathmey. Photo: Elesa Kurtz
Canberra Capitals star Marianna Tolo says the players will use Carly Wilson's retirement as the extra motivation for their push to end a five-season finals drought.
The Capitals edged closer to an elusive play-off berth with a gritty win against the Bendigo Spirit on Saturday night, blowing the visitors away in the final quarter to secure a 77-63 triumph.
Tolo was the standout again with 28 points and nine rebounds and was backed up by workhorse point guard Lauren Mansfield, with the duo combining for more than half of Canberra's final score.
But the underlying inspiration came from Wilson, who announced last week she was retiring at the end of the season after almost 20 years in the WNBL.
The Capitals' post-match huddle made special mention of making a charge for Wilson to give her a chance to finish her career with a fairytale fourth championship.
The Capitals have won 10 games this year and will walk a finals tightrope in the last six games of the year as they target a finals return for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign.
"We had to keep fighting to wear them down and we really kicked it up a gear in the last couple of minutes," Tolo said.
"The announcement of Willo's retirement is more motivation for us and we're going to go into every game like it's our last game.
"We've really got to fight because we know we're coming from behind on the ladder, we know we've got a bit of catching up to do.
"We're just praying for some results, but we're doing everything we can to take care of our own business.
"Willo's retirement adds a bit of fiestiness and a bit of fight for us. You want a player to have that dream finish to their career and for Willo, someone who's been here so long, we're doing everything we can to fight for her."
Canberra has no beaten every team in the competition and toppling the Spirit will give the Capitals the confidence they need if they break into the play-offs.
Their next test is an Day clash against the second-placed Sydney Flames at Tuggeranong on Thursday, with both teams desperate for victory so close to the end of hte regular season.
The Capitals trailed by as many as 15 points in the opening half and had to wait until late in the third quarter to mount their challenge for the lead.
Bendigo was playing its second game in less than 24 hours after making the draining journey from Townsville to Canberra on the morning of the game to back up.
But every time the Capitals threatened to blast the visitors away with some Tolo magic or a Lauren Mansfield long bomb, the Spirit kept clawing their way back into the contest.
The score was locked at 56-all at three-quarter time and the lead continually traded hands until the Capitals opened up their biggest lead of the game with just two minutes left.
The Spirit didn't have enough energy to get back into the game and Tolo killed off their last-minute hopes to snatch a 14-point triumph.
"Bendigo is a really tough team. It qas quite physical but I was glad we were able to execute down the stretch," Mansfield said.
"That's huge for us, it's our third win in a row and we hadn't beaten Bendigo yet so that's really nice because we can go into the finals with a lot of confidence.
"We're really hoping to get into those finals ... Willo got a bit emotional at the end. She's our leader and we want to send her out the right way."
AT A GLANCE
CANBERRA CAPITALS 77 (Marianna Tolo 28, Lauren Mansfield 19, Mikaela Ruef 7) bt BENDIGO SPIRIT 63 (Kelsey Griffin 20, Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe 13, Nadeen Payne 10) at Tuggeranong Basketball Stadium on Saturday night. Crowd: 825.
Power: Sean Abbott rescued the Sydney Sixers against the Melbourne Stars as he led them to a semi-final. Photo: Scott Barbour - CAThe Sydney Sixers have booked a ticket to Brisbane for the semi-finals after coming back from the brink of elimination to beat an undermanned Melbourne Stars at the MCG on Saturday night.
Sean Abbott silenced the partisan crowd of 46,671 with a whirlwind innings that turned impending defeat into a stirring three-wicket victory.
The come-from-behind win sets up a clash with Brendon McCullum's Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Wednesday night for a berth in this summer's Big Bash final. The Stars blew a chance to book a home final and must now travel to Perth for their semi on Tuesday.
The Sixers' campaign was destined for the scrapheap after Nic Maddinson departed in the 15th over but they were rescued by the hitting power of Abbott and the smarts of veteran Johan Botha.
The pair added 59 off 28 balls for the seventh wicket to lift their side into the four at the expense of the Melbourne Renegades, who needed the Stars to win to keep their season alive.
Abbott came into the state scene as bowling all-rounder but his batting had failed to live up to expectations. But he saved one of his best innings at domestic level when the Sixers needed him most. He finished unbeaten on 33 off only 17 balls, seeing the Sixers home with an over to spare.
"To play the way he did will do wonders for his confidence," Brad Haddin said.
The Sixers were under pressure in both innings of the game but each time they delivered the goods late.
A score around 180 was on the cards for the Stars, who were missing six first-choice players to injuries or international selection, they lost seven wickets in the final 27 balls for just 26 runs.
The Sixers would have had their sights on getting stuck into the Stars' undermanned middle order but were made to wait before they could get through their high-class top three.
The Stars were given a strong start by foundation duo Rob Quiney and Luke Wright, who brought up their team's 50 within the first five overs.
Quiney was looking particularly potent but after reaching 35 in a hurry clipped one off his hip to short fine leg.
It proved an important dismissal, as Quiney was threatening to destroy the Sixers and it brought about a more conservative approach from the Stars, who were wary of exposing their less experienced batsmen.
With Nathan Lyon hard to get away, the Sixers were able to rein in the Stars during the middle overs but the hosts were still well placed for a total in excess of 180.
Lyon claimed the key wicket of Wright, who made 62 off 47 balls, allowing the Sixers to capitalise on the Stars' shallow batting.
Haddin turned the clock back by taking a one-handed classic to remove Seb Gotch though his juggled stumping of Evan Gulbis was not his smoothest piece of glovework.