‘You won’t get anywhere in life’: autistic girl proves teachers wrong

University of Canberra student Kayla Sterchow. Picture: Karleen Minney.Kayla Sterchow had lots of reasons to celebrate on Thursday when she turned 20.
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But she couldn’t get her “traumatic’’ high school years in the Illawarra out of her head.

Bullied by other students and kicked out of seven schools, the University of Canberra studentwas constantly told by teachers she “wouldn’t get anywhere in life’’ because of her autism.

‘’All the schools Iwent to pretty much said to my mum Iwouldn’t get anywhere in life…..I’d just end up working at Greenacres or Flagstaffbecause of my autism –they even said Iwouldn’t finish high school,’’ Kaylasaid.

READ MORE: ‘Having their nipples pinched’; harrowing accounts of school bullying

High school was meant to be a fresh new start for Kayla, who was diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy as a baby.

In 2008 surgeons sliced open herbrain and ended her extreme epileptic fits.

At the time Kayla told the Mercury: ‘’I’m looking forward to Year 7 because I want to be a leader at….K-Zone…I’m a lot happier and I make more friends now.’’

But what followed was “horrible years’’.

‘’They didn’t understand my autism and treated me horrible. They would suspend me every single day,’’ Kayla said.

‘’They just wouldn’t want to deal with me when I got emotional because they didn’t know how.

TREAT US RIGHT: Kayla Sterchow, who has high functioning autism and epilepsy believes school students with autism aren’t treated right. Picture: Karleen Minney.

‘’Oneschool in particular didn’t include me in school activities, didn’t let me go on excursions and didn’t let me participate in mainstream subjects.

‘’A girl threatened to kill me in front of ateacher and the teacher just stood there and let her run home to her parents.

‘’My life was in danger and they just didn’t care.

‘’It was getting worse and worse and I was getting more depressed by the day.

‘’Dapto High School was the only school that really treated me well because they had an autism support unit.’’

Kayla is now doing a Communications in Media and Public Affairs degree to help people on the autism spectrum.

‘’All my friends who have autism aren’t like me. They are afraid to come out and say they have autism because they don’t want to be stigmatised,’’ she said.

‘’Iwant people to be more understanding of people on the spectrum. We are not that different to everyone else.’’

On Friday aNSW parliamentary inquiry into the education ofstudents with a disability or special needs will be held in Shellharbour.

Hunter Morning NewsFriday, May 19, 2017

Beachwatch by Dave AndersonMorning Newcastle
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The Hunter’s balmy Autumnweather is set to change with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a dive in temperatures and a 90 per cent chance of rain byFriday afternoon.

A minimum of seven degrees and a maximum of 13 degrees areforecast for Friday.

Saturday has a higher chance of rain with the chance of a thunderstorm in the Upper Hunter and overnight temperatures falling to around 10 degrees.The region’s rain is tipped to ease on Sunday buttemperatures will still remain in the lower range. Read on.

SURF:Surf conditions may be more powerful than they appear and are expected to be hazardous for coastal activities such as rock fishing and swimming.

TRAFFIC: Early morning truck breakdown on Charlestown Road at Kotara. Clear across the rest of the region.

► Firefighting demonstrations, station tours andsafety presentations will be on offer at theFire and Rescue NSW open day thisSaturday.

“Keep looking when cooking” is the theme of this year’s open day, which will run from 10am to 2pm at most FRNSW stations. Check out the full list here.

WELCOME: Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters Isabel Rios and Sam Jenkins at the Raymond Terrace station. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

► The grieving families of two teenage girls killed in a crash on a horror stretch of the New England Highway in 2015 came to court on Thursday in search of justice.Justice for Tori Earl, 18, and Kendall Burke, 19.The words wereemblazoned on their shirts and in the forefront of their minds. But the two familiessay they left “disappointed” after the driver responsible for causing the horrific crash that killed the teenagersavoided a jail term.

►Three dead rabbits were discovered and seized as part of an animal welfare raid at a Cessnock greyhound training area on Thursday.

Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) and the RSPCA have commenced a joint investigation to determine if any criminal offences hadbeen committed under thePrevention of Cruelty to Animals Actor any offences have been committed under the GRNSW Greyhound Racing Rules.The property owner has also been given an interim suspension on his registration as a greyhound participant. Read on.

►Relieved tears flowedat the foothills of the Barringtons after an elderly couple and their daughter, who werereported missing in the wildernessovernight, were reunited with family.

Henryk and Elaine Pinkowski, both aged in their 70s, set out with their 44 year-old daughter Angela from Cardiff on Wednesday morning bound for Upper Allyn, north west of Dungog. More here.

FOUND: A Newcastle family, reported missing on Wednesday, were found on Thursday just before midday. Picture: Perry Duffin

►On Tuesday morning, during their 2017/18 budget breakfast, Muswellbrook Shire Council reported it had exchanged contractsto buy Muswellbrook Marketplace for $34.25 million.

Naturally, business owners were curious where this would lead them in the future, but positivityseemed to be the overriding theme.

And, a few suggestions were thrown around for the centre’s future including a Kmart, a shoe shop and a sport store. Read on.

► A manwho brutally stabbed his ex-wife’s new boyfriend to death in the victim’s own home has been sentenced to more than 23 years jail.

Newcastle Supreme Court Justice Peter Hamill also declared on Thursday that Gregory John Thompson would spend at least 17 years and seven months behind bars before he is eligible for parole. Read on.

CAUGHT: Police surround Gregory John Thompson’s car outside Michael Moad’s house in Cessnock on March 1, 2015. This week Mr Thompson was sentenced for the killing.

► FormerHunter priest Archbishop Philip Wilson, the most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be charged with concealing the child sex crimes of another priest, has launched his third attempt to stop the case against him from proceeding. Read the full report.

State of the nation► PEECHELBA, VIC:A farm worker has been sentenced to nine years in jail after a failed plan to inflict a deadlyRomeo and Juliet-styleending to a relationship. Thai nationalCharan Hannarong, 40, was sentenced on Thursday for the attempted murder of his girlfriend, and will serve at least six years before he is eligible for parole and deported back to his home country.

►QUEENSLAND:The federal government has approved the useof Commonwealthfunds for an industry led research and development levy.Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the government was committed to supporting the thoroughbred breeding industry.

►ARMIDALE, NSW:A man has been extradited from Queensland and sentenced to two years jail for two alcohol-fuelled attacks two years ago.Brendan Cutmore will spend at least 12months behind bars after bashing a pregnant woman and a man in separate incidents in April and June 2015. The 27-year-old limped into the dock of Armidale Local Court on Wednesday in shortsafter he was extradited by police from the Armidale Target Action Group on Tuesday.

► STAWELL, VIC:On August 4 last year, the lives of Stawell sisters Liz Harrington and Kelly Curran were “normal”, but that quickly changed when theirmotherwas diagnosed with bowel cancer the next day.“It wasjust like walking over a dark, dark line,” Ms Harrington said.“We thought ourmother was fine and it was in really trying circumstances that we found out her diagnosis.”

►ORANGE, NSW:Fly-in, fly-out medical specialists should be subject to the same safeguards as locally-based doctors, areview into the under-dosing of chemotherapy to patients in Orange has found.The NSW Upper House committee into the under-dosing of cancer patients treated by Dr John Grygiel in the Western NSW Local Health District, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney and at Macquarie University Hospital, delivered its findings on Thursday.

►BENDIGO, VIC:The City of Greater Bendigo has spent close to $100,000 of ratepayer money removing graffiti around the city over the past three years.And the financial impost of this vandalismhas nearly doubled for the city over the past year–up from $22,000 in 2015/16 to $39,000 in the current financial year.

►ILLOWA, VIC:Illowa Poll Hereford breeder Clinton Baulch has had good luck come in threes with a rare birth of triplet calves at his property.Mr Baulch, who established Jaclinton Poll Herefords in 2008, said all of the triplet calves were bulls, which he understood was about a one in 400,000 chance.

National news► Differences in body clocks that determine whether people perform better in the morning or evening can affect how well they work together in a team. Research from the University of Sydney shows that emergency workers and surgical teams perform best when individual members peak at the same time of the day. Surgical teams, emergency service workers, orchestras and executives in long board meetings would benefit from having people with similar biological clocks.

► One of the largest tax fraud syndicates in the country’s history unravelled in spectacular fashion above the clothing boutiques and trendy cafes of Double Bay on Wednesday.With his morning coffee in hand, property developer Boris Markovsky opened the door to his eastern suburbs office to more than a dozen Australian Federal Police wearing plain clothes and leather gloves.

► Australians are working less, even as more of us get jobs. The latest labour force figures show an extra 97,400 Australians found work in March and April –60,000 in March and 37,400 in April.Over the two months taken together, the majority of the new jobs were full time –62,400 versus 35,000 part time. Yet the number of hours worked per month fell by 1.1 million.The change appears to have been caused by both full-time and part-time workers putting in fewer hours rather than a substitution of full-time for part-time jobs.

►It used to be much simpler –couples would buy a house and then start a family. But now, we are starting families and then looking for somewhere to rent. In a generation, the number of Victorian families renting has more than doubled. More than 200,000 Victorian families are renting now, according to an analysis of bonds and census data between 1996 and 2016 by the Tenants Union of Victoria.

National weather radarInternational news►Australian nurse and surrogacy broker Tammy Davis-Charles shook her head in dismay on Thursday when a court postponed a verdict at her trial in the Cambodian capital.Ms Davis-Charles was sent back to one of the country’s harshest overcrowded prisons.Police alleged the 49-year-old mother of six from Melbourne, falsified documents, including birth certificates, to smooth passage of surrogacy paperwork through Cambodia’s murky legal system and the Australian embassy in Cambodia.

►Many in Washington are running too fast, too hard to get to Watergate. But as the White House hunkers, seemingly in the hope that the worst week of the Trump presidency will simply blow over, Republicans in Congress have reached a crossroads.Even beforeformer FBI director Robert Mueller was named special counselto head the probe into any links between Trump and Russia, the feeling in Washington had seemingly changed.

► The former governor of Bali’s Kerobokan jail has said Schapelle Corby has served her three years of parole in Bali well and deserves her freedom.Corby, 39, who was convicted in 2005 for attempting to smuggle 4.2 kilograms of marijuana into Bali in a boogie board bag, is just days away from being deported back to Australia on May 27.Former prison governor Gusti Ngurah Wiratna told Fairfax Media that Corby should use the lessons she had learned in Bali to live the rest of her life.

On this dayMay 19, 1536: Days after their marriage was annulled, King Henry VIII has his second wife Anne Boleyn beheaded for adultury, treason and incest. Henry had had Anne investigated for high treason in April 1536. Despite the heavy charges against her, modern historians view them as unconvincing. Henry needed a way to end his marriage with Anne to be able to marry Jane Seymour – the woman he believed would finally produce him a son.

Faces of Australia:Enis Wallis​A RESIDENT at theMeercroft Aged Care facility in Devonportwas all smiles as she celebrated her 100thbirthdaywith friends and family on Wednesday.

Enis Wallis was up for the celebration, still witha spring in her step, after 100 years of life.

When it came to the question of how she managed to live as long as she had, Ms Wallis was unsure how to respond.

“Why I have lived this longI have no idea,” she said.

Ms Wallis led a healthy and active life, in her younger years she enjoyed playing hockey and tennis.Read more.

Teenager ‘kept as sexual slave’ in Sydney house

A teenage girl says she was kept as a sexual slave in a Sydney house before she was able to escape and alert authorities, sparking an investigation into human trafficking and sexual servitude.
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The 17-year-old, from Guinea in western Africa, sought help at the Asylum Seekers Centre on Bedford Street in Newtown late last month, saying she had just escaped from a unit somewhere in Sydney’s metropolitan area where she had been held captive, police said.

The teenager was dropped at the centre by a good Samaritan, believed to be named Nicole, who saw the girl running down a street and picked her up in her car.

Detective Acting Superintendent Mick Haddow, the State Crime Command’s Sex Crimes Squad Commander, appealed for that woman, who was driving a small red car, believed to be a hatchback, to come forward to help with the investigation.

“This really is a case at the moment where there are a lot of questions and not enough answers for us,” he said.

“We are really seeking help from this person, known as Nicole, who in the early hours of the morning collected this young girl and took her to the Asylum Seekers Centre.

“She is a really important witness, Nicole, and also potentially a really important source of information for us in terms of identifying the crime scene.”

He said the investigation had been extremely difficult.

“There are cultural issues, language issues. The statement has taken days and days and days to complete,” he said.

The teenager has told police she was in her home country of Guinea in January this year when she met an African man who offered to bring her to Australia to work as his cleaner.

She agreed and, in early April, the man and the teenager flew from Guinea to Paris, and then on to Sydney.

The teenager says she was then taken to the unit somewhere in Sydney, where she was held captive in a room and regularly sexually assaulted by a number of men, including the man who had flown with her to Australia. She feared for her life, she told police.

“We don’t know what suburb we’re talking about at this stage. We believe it’s possibly close to the Newtown area but it could be kilometres and kilometres away,” Detective Acting Superintendent Haddow said.

In the early hours of April 27, the teenager managed to escape from the unit and ran for a short period until she was picked up by the woman and taken to the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown.

Police said the centre consulted the Anti-Slavery Unit at the University of Technology in Sydney and the girl was treated at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. She is now in the care of Family and Community Services.

Specialist detectives from the NSW Police Sex Crimes Squad have also formed Strike Force Stockall to investigate the circumstances surrounding her ordeal.

The Australian Federal Police’s Human Trafficking Unit has also launched an investigation into the incident and is attempting to identify the man who brought the teenager to Australia.

Police have appealed for the woman who drove the teenager to Newtown, or anyone who heard or saw the teenager after she escaped from the unit on April 27, to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or the AFP on 131 237.

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Brumbies call in beer delivery man for clash with Kings

Brumbies player, Andrew Muirhead . Plus500 Brumbies v Australian Barbarians at Viking park in Canberra. Photo Jay Cronan Photo: Jay CronanSuper Rugby rookie Andrew Muirhead will get his chance to impress from the ACT Brumbies bench with the Canberra delivery man set to make his debut in South Africa.
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Muirhead, who doesn’t have a professional contract, has been added to the Brumbies’ bench for their crucial clash against the Southern Kings on Sunday morning Australian time.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham plucked Muirhead out of Canberra club rugby and away from his job to add him to the touring squad.

He is part of a game-day squad reshuffle as the Brumbies aim to end a four-game losing streak.

Aidan Toua will start on the wing for the first time in his Brumbies career, shifting from his regular fullback spot to make way for Tom Banks in the No. 15 jersey.

In other changes, flanker Chris Alcock is back in the starting XV after being rested last weekend while Jarrad Butler moves to the bench.

The Brumbies are in danger of slumping to the equal worst losing streak in the club’s history if they fall to the Kings in Port Elizabeth.

Larkham says it’s time for his side to find a balance between all-out attack and tactical rugby in the hope of reviving their season on a two-game tour to South Africa and Argentina

But to keep their lead at the top of the Australian conference, they will need to break a 210-minute try-scoring drought that has haunted them for the past three games.

The Brumbies have attempted to adopt an attack at all costs mentality, turning down easy penalty shots at goal to put all of their energy into scoring tries.

The Brumbies have been panned by critics and fans in recent years for kicking too often and not taking risks, but Larkham has given the players a licence to attack this year.

He backed players to take opportunities but conceded they would need to adapt against the South African style of kicking penalties to build pressure.

“We do need to have that balance. When you’re playing against New Zealand sides you have to be conscious of not trying to play too much because they’ll hurt you,” Larkham said.

“If you make one turnover teams can go the length of the field and score against you, that’s what happened to us against the [Johannesburg] Lions last week.

“It’s finding balance in how much we play and how much we kick, then making sure our kicks aren’t aimless. So we have to be better about that.

“I back the players to take advantage of what they see on the field, but we know we have to find some balance in our game as well.”

The Brumbies haven’t beaten an overseas side yet this season and have lost their past four games in a row. If they lose to the Kings, it will equal the Brumbies’ worst losing streak in Super Rugby history.

The added incentive of turning around their campaign is a tight Australian conference battle as four teams jostle for a guaranteed spot in the finals.

The Brumbies are three points ahead of the Queensland Reds while the NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels are also lurking just behind.

The Kings are at the bottom of their conference, but they have won more games than the Brumbies. However, the Kings’ ‘Africa two’ conference does not play any New Zealand teams this year.

The Brumbies haven’t scored a try since they showed glimpses of brilliance against the Wellington Hurricanes a month ago.

They had plenty of opportunities against the Lions last weekend, but failed to dent their defensive line.

Their attacking drought has left their season hanging by a thread, but back-up scrumhalf De Wet Roos said it wouldn’t affect their confidence.

“It’s just a mindset for the boys and staying fresh, moving on from the negatives,” Roos said.

“We probably just have to switch to attacking mindset once we’ve made a break, and just being ruthless by going for the jugular.

“Yes, we can come away with three points [from penalties], but that’s not what rugby is about from a spectator point of view. People want to see tries being scored so hopefully we’ve rectified that with the chats and being more ruthless when we get in [our] attacking 22 metres.”

SUPER RUGBY ROUND 13

Sunday: Southern Kings v ACT Brumbies at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, 3.30am (AEST). TV time: Live on Fox Sports 1.

Brumbies team: 15. Tom Banks, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Kyle Godwin, 11. Aidan Toua, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Jordan Smiler, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 1. Ben Alexander. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Nic Mayhew, 18. Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Jarrad Butler, 21. De Wet Roos, 22. Andrew Muirhead, 23. Andrew Smith.

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‘You don’t know what’s around the corner’: family hit by tragedy

Brendon Cowie was rushing out to work when his wife Cathleen stopped him at the door for a kiss. A few hours later, arriving at a local church with their five-month-old son, Ryan, she collapsed and died.
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Doctors said Mrs Cowie, a gym instructor known as Cat, had an aortic aneurysm. She was 35 years old when she died in October 2015.

“I’m grateful she got those five months with Ryan,” Mr Cowie said. “Life’s very fragile. You don’t know what’s around the corner.”

Mr Cowie, who was working in landscape maintenance, had to drop everything “to be a full-time mum and dad. Financially, it was tough.”

The couple had never discussed taking out life insurance. “You just don’t think that stuff is going to happen to you,” Mr Cowie said.

Like many people, Mr Cowie was unaware that he and his wife had life insurance as part of their superannuation.

Housing, transport, bills and the cost of raising a baby added up, he said, and he would have struggled without the support of family, friends and his local community in Stanwell Park. When Cat’s life insurance came through “there was enough to get by, but not enough for the future,” Mr Cowie said.

The problem of underinsurance, when a policy holder has insufficient coverage for their needs, was highlighted by a survey released on Friday that found 38 per cent of families had no life insurance and close to a quarter were not confident the insurance they have would be enough.

A thousand parents nationwide were questioned as part of the Real Insurance Family Protection Survey, the seventh instalment in a series of national studies.Thirty-five per cent of those surveyed said that, if they died, their family would be financially burdened.

Real Insurance founder Richard Enthoven said consumers were increasingly confident about researching life insurance online and buying it directly.

“Not all Australians can afford or need financial advice so being able to obtain life insurance directly makes life cover accessible to more Australians,” he said.

Geoff McRae, a senior consultant with Rice Warner, which provides independent research and advice to the superannuation and insurance sectors, said people were more likely to focus on their immediate needs than on providing for the future through superannuation and insurance.

“There’s no doubt people are more aware of needing insurance for their car or their house than they are for themselves,” he said. “And with everyone under 35 thinking they’re indestructible anyway, they often feel they don’t need any insurance.”

The Rice Warner Underinsurance in Australia 2015 report examined levels of life underinsurance, finding the median level of life cover met just 61 per cent of basic needs and 37 per cent of the income replacement level.

The median level of income protection cover met only 16 per cent of needs, while the median level of total and permanent disability cover met just 13 per cent of needs, the report found.

Rice Warner consultant and report author James Williams said underinsurance had significant social and economic costs when people were out of work or on government benefits. The annual cost to the government of life underinsurance is estimated at $57 million, and $1.26 billion for total permanent disability underinsurance.

Mr Williams said some people were deterred from getting life insurance because,”the cost of cover is quite high”, and to some extent people expected “that the state is going to be there to step in if anything does happen”.

While most super funds offered life insurance for members “the amount of cover you get from a default group insurance scheme is … by no means going to cover your actual needs if something were to happen”, Mr Williams said.

A young family would need about $700,000 in life insurance, but typical default cover was about $220,000, he said.

Mr Williams said people needed to be aware of their level of life insurance cover, and to take into account all their personal circumstances and finances when calculating what would be needed.

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