Two men have come forward publicly for the first time to accuse George Pell of sexually abusing them when they were young boys housed in a Catholic orphanage. In allegations to be detailed in the ABC’s Revelation program tonight, the men say Pell, then a priest in the diocese of Ballarat, indecently touched and groped them on multiple occasions in showers and swimming pools. Bernie (surname withheld) said he did not report the allegations for years as he feared he would not be believed. “Who’s gonna believe a little boy from a home against that conglomerate,” he said. “You know, against that bloody goliath?” Victoria Police contacted Bernie as part of a 2016 investigation of historical sexual abuse allegations against Pell that were subsequently withdrawn. Pell, who says he is innocent of all sexual abuse allegations, is currently in prison awaiting the outcome of an appeal to the high court.

Published in The Saturday Paper

More than 40,000 former doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists whose registration has lapsed in the last three years will be eligible to apply for work next week, so they can enlist in the fight against COVID-19. Registrations are also being fast-tracked for newly graduated medical students and internationally qualified doctors, nurses and pharmacists already living in Australia. Meanwhile, New South Wales Police will seek military helicopter support to fly doctors onto eight cruise ships stranded off the NSW coast to test more than 8000 people, according to The Australian ($). Australia’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 21 after the death of a person in Orange yesterday.

The Fair Work Commission has proposed ($) changing 103 of the 122 industrial awards to give unpaid “pandemic leave” and additional annual leave at half pay to workers, ensuring they are able to self-isolate when needed. In other news, Guardian Australia reports that the Australian Council of Trade Unions has called for real estate agents to stop offering “unhelpful and unsolicited financial advice” by suggesting that tenants consider withdrawals from their superannuation if they are struggling to pay rent. Meanwhile, authorities in Victoria and New South Wales have walked back public health orders that banned romantic couples from spending time with each other unless they live in the same household.
In the United Kingdom, a new record of 563 people died from COVID-19 in a single day, taking the country’s total to 2352. The crisis has seen a number of major events called off in the country, with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival cancelled, and the Wimbledon tennis tournament abandoned for the first time since World War 2. In addition, the entire grass-court tennis season has been cancelled.

By Max Opray
Published in The Saturday Paper
02 April 2020