December 16, 2014 – 6:48PM
Anne Davies and Tom Allard
Two fine citizens: Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson were killed in the Sydney siege.
A nation and a city is mourning a loss of innocence and the lives of two brave citizens, after the dramatic and deadly finale to the siege of the Martin Place cafe in the early hours of Tuesday.
Lawyer and mother Katrina Dawson and cafe manager Tori Johnson died when police stormed the Lindt Cafe after gunshots were heard inside.
The hostage taker, Man Haron Monis, a self-styled cleric well known to police and widely derided in the Muslim community as a crackpot, was also killed.
Stunned and silent, as flags flew at half mast across the city, Sydneysiders began gathering in Martin Place early to grieve.
By lunchtime, the granite heart of the city was carpeted with flowers, laid by mourners who were struggling to understand how this violence could so utterly challenge their sense of safety and the joy of living, for the most part, in a harmonious society.
Sydney mother Terri Lucia knew Mr Johnson, who was killed during the siege, and came early to leave flowers in his memory.
“We knew he was in there all day and I just found out this morning that he was dead,” she said.
“It’s just horrible. I just feel that we’ve lost something, something that I felt we were protected from. That’s what’s making it so upsetting. I do feel we lost some of our innocence yesterday.”
Police were forced to clear a bigger area as the flowers kept arriving. Tears streamed from the faces of those watching and waiting to sign condolence books on black shrouded tables around the makeshift shrine.
“Often, when there is despair, there is also hope and a positive spirit that we are seeing,” Premier Mike Baird said.
“This city is amazing, our people are incredible and what we are seeing in Martin Place right now. It’s the beating heart of the city being put in place,” he said.
The outpouring of grief was matched by a determination of Sydneysiders to prevent the multicultural fabric of Sydney from fraying, as religious leaders from all faiths came Sydney’s grand plaza to offer condolences.
People volunteered to sit with Muslims on public transport, to show solidarity and prevent any reprisal attacks or abuse, following a massive social media campaign under the hashtag #illridewithyou.
Cathy Butera drove about an hour from her home in Austral to leave two bunches of flowers, one for each victim.
“One act of evil from one person has now created a chain reaction with thousands of acts of kindness from people all over the world,” she said.
The siege at Martin Place ended after more than 16 hours of excruciating tension, soon after 2am, when police swarmed the cafe following the firing of a gun inside.
The gunfire happened shortly after seven of the 17 hostages captured by Monis escaped after their tiring and lone captor turned his back on them.
There were unconfirmed reports that slain cafe manager Tori Johnson had attempted to wrest the shotgun from off Monis as he was falling asleep.
“Police made the call because they believed that at that time that, if they didn’t enter, there would have been many more lives lost,” said NSW Police commissioner Andrew Scipione.
Mr Johnson, of Redfern was the son of acclaimed Australian artist Ken Johnson and his former wife Rowena, and leaves behind a long-term partner Thomas Zinn.
Friends of Mr Johnson described him on Tuesday as “a loving, placid and very gentle soul … a true gentleman”.
Katrina Dawson, a rising star at the commercial bar, was also pronounced dead after being taken to hospital. There are reports Ms Dawson died protecting her pregnant friend, a fellow barrister from Eighth Floor Selbourne Chambers, Julie Taylor, who was taken from the scene on a stretcher.
Ms Dawson leaves behind three children between the ages of four and 10, and a husband, Paul Smith, a partner at King & Wood Malleson.
A highly respected barrister from Eighth Floor Selborne Chambers in Phillip Street, Ms Dawson was the younger sister of prominent defamation barrister Sandy Dawson and McKinsey & Company director Angus Dawson.
The devastating news has left the Sydney legal fraternity in shock.
Several other hostages were injured or required medical attention, but all are now in a stable condition. A 75-year-old woman received a gunshot wound to the shoulder, a 52 year-old woman was shot in the foot and a 43-year-old woman was wounded in the leg. Ms Taylor and another pregnant woman were admitted to hospital for assessment. A police officer received minor facial injuries from shotgun pellets and was discharged.
On bail facing serious charges
Amid the deep sense of loss, there will also be some soul searching about why the gunman, Monis slipped through the cracks of the judicial system and was released on bail, despite the fact he was facing several serious charges, including accessory to the murder of his ex-wife Noleen Pal, who was found stabbed 18 times and was set alight in a stairwell in Wetherill Park.
The home of Monis’ partner Amirah Droudis, who is on bail charged with the murder of Ms Pal, was raided by police on Tuesday.
Monis also faced more than 40 sexual assault charges stemming from his time as a “faith healer” in Wentworthville between 2000 and 2002.
By last week, Monis’ life was unravelling. On Friday he was unsuccessful in overturning a conviction for using the postal service to menace the families of deceased Australian Defence Force personnel.
He was also due back in court on the accessory to murder charge and the sexual assault charges.
Monis was well known to counter-terrorism authorities but not on any terrorist watchlist. This month he announced he had converted from Shia Islam to the Sunni variant. Islamic State, the terrorist group Monis proclaimed allegiance to during the siege, regards the Shia as a vile aberration and have murdered thousands of adherents.
Monis’ release from prison on bail and the failure of intelligence agencies to pick up his conversion to a brutal and perverted brand of Sunni Islam propagated by IS will be the subject of an internal review.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australians should be reassured by the way law enforcement and security agencies responded to “this brush with terrorism”.
“There is nothing more Australian than dropping in at the local cafe for a morning coffee and it’s tragic beyond words that people going about their everyday business should have been caught up in such a horrific incident.
“Our hearts go out to all of those caught up in this appalling incident and their loved ones.”
With staff reporters
Source : The Canberra Times
December 17, 2014 – 12:36PM
Canberra Times Reporter
Dr David Caldicott says drunken visits to Canberra’s emergency departments has created a “phenomenal burden” for medical professionals. Photo: Melissa Adams
A spike in drunken visits to Canberra’s two emergency departments has created a “phenomenal burden” for medical professionals and is costing ACT taxpayers billions of dollars each year.
According to ACT Health figures, the number of patients presenting with alcohol related issues increased by 35 per cent between 2009 and 2013 and one of Canberra’s most experienced physicians believes the problem is getting worse.
“The impact of alcohol on the health of Australians is hugely underestimated and runs into the billions of dollars each year,” Dr David Caldicott, a Calvary Hospital emergency department physician said.
Dr Caldicott said at 2am on December 2, when a national survey was conducted, around 20 per cent of patients in Canberra’s two emergency departments were intoxicated and seeking treatment for either acute or chronic problems associated with drinking.
“There’s nothing else that does that,” he said.
“If 20 per cent of patients were there as consequence of a new infectious disease or a new recreational drug then you can imagine what the outpouring of resources might be, but this is a traditional recreational drug that is legal.”
According to the ACT Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association, visits to Canberra’s emergency departments for injuries attributable to alcohol increased by 23.7 per cent during 2009-13.
Dr Caldicott said the increasing trend made an already demanding job more difficult for nurses and doctors.
“An emergency department at 2am on Sunday morning can be quite miserable and it’s not the norm for these patients to be polite and courteous with staff,” he said.
Dr Caldicott said nursing staff in emergency departments are occasionally verbally abused or harassed by intoxicated patients known to soil themselves or vomit.
“We deal with that and that’s part of the job,” he said.
“Experienced nursing staff are rather extraordinary in the way they deal with intoxicated patients on the front line and don’t exhibit the hubris the medical profession sometimes does.
“Emergency department nurses are one of the most pragmatic species to work the face of the earth.”
Dr Caldicott said there was not a lot emergency department staff could do to address the problem other than documenting the issue for policy makers.
Leeanne Trenning, director of the College for Emergency Nursing Australasia, said emergency department nurses often bear the brunt of alcohol-related aggression.
“Nurses are being subjected to violence and abuse from the very people they’re trying to help, she said.
“Intoxicated patients take up too much of our time and their behaviour negatively impacts the entire emergency department.”
The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine is one organisation calling for the government to adopt a tougher stance on intoxicated patients in emergency departments.
In November, the college found 92 per cent of emergency department doctors and nurses had experienced assaults or physical threats from drunken patients in the last 12 months.
The study reported on a heavily pregnant woman being punched in the stomach, a physician being knocked unconscious by a drunken patient, and a heart attack patient too intimidated to sit beside an intoxicated patient.
Lead researcher Dr Diana Egerton-Warburton said emergency department staff “are sick and tired of violence from drunk patients and how it affects their ability to treat other patients”.
“It’s time for policy makers and society to say, ‘enough is enough’,” she said.
“This violence is preventable with good public health policies.”
Dr Caldicott said he would like to see alcohol advertising be “regulated much more rigorously”.
“In terms of policy in Australia, we are the last great cowboy territory where basically there is very little supervision of what the alcohol industry can and can’t do,” he said.
“We need to look at the measures we can implement to change the way people are drinking in this country.”
Source : The Canberra Times
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