Evelyn Zaragoza

Evelyn Zaragoza


The Government will hold online citizenship ceremonies via secure video link, to enable people to continue to become Australian citizens during the coronavirus crisis.

Current health advice around COVID-19 means it is not possible for traditional, in-person citizenship ceremonies to be held.

Australian citizenship is an immense privilege, and fundamental to our national identity.

The Department of Home Affairs has commenced trialling one-on-one ceremonies for those already approved for Australian citizenship. We will work with individuals with an urgent need, who cannot access the internet, to ensure their ceremony can occur safely in line with health advice.

When fully implemented, it is expected this new capability will see up to 750 people per day having their citizenship conferred.

The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 requires a person to make a pledge of commitment to Australia before a presiding officer. This is a legal requirement which has been in place for decades.

Applications for Australian citizenship are still able to be accepted during this period, though citizenship interviews and testing have been put on hold.

Additional resources will be deployed to conduct testing and interviews as soon as social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 ease.

The Morrison Government recognises the importance of Australian citizenship for migrants and for the wider Australia community. Already in 2019-20, more than 157,000 people have been conferred Australia citizenship, up 70% on the same period in 2018-19.

There are currently 85,000 people awaiting a ceremony.

People who were scheduled to attend a Citizenship appointment or ceremony over the coming months will be contacted to make alternative arrangements.


The NSW Government is injecting $25 million to fast-track statewide research and clinical trials to tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic and reduce its impact on the community.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the funds are part of about $800 million in extra health funding by the NSW Government to bolster the health system.

“Already researchers in NSW have made huge inroads to improve diagnostics and potentially aid the eventual creation of a vaccine by growing the novel coronavirus,” Mr Hazzard said.

“The $25 million funding boost will further assist the collaborative research efforts of clinicians, universities and research hubs with crucial roles in the NSW COVID-19 response”.

The funding will be directed to research focused on:
accurate and timely diagnosis of COVID-19;
support conducting COVID-19 clinical trials including vaccine trials;
monitoring, developing and evaluating strategies to slow community transmission;
developing and evaluating treatments for COVID-19;
preventing the need for intensive medical care.
minimising the impact of physical and psychological trauma on the community.

The $25 million is on top of $108 million already invested in medical research in 2019-2020 and will help ensure all research findings on COVID-19 can be implemented rapidly.

The extra funding will also support clinician-led research into the COVID-19 impacts on the healthcare workforce, vulnerable populations and regional, rural and remote communities.

Professor Anthony Kelleher, Director of the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, said the institute is leading several research projects on COVID-19, including developing an antiviral therapy.

“The infectious disease expertise within the NSW medical research sector is truly world class, and we are eager to turn this investment into research that will transform this pandemic and ultimately save lives,” Professor Kelleher said.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said: “This funding will go a long way to progressing urgent research to minimise the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 in NSW.”

Vision: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/vkojhquzd1tptsu/AADgg-OmX24KYv_i7Gl_B4Rea?dl=0

Progress on research
· ICPMR Westmead was the first lab in Australia to develop and introduce a blood antibody test for tracking the spread of COVID-19 and is working with researchers from The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance at Westmead and the Kirby Institute who will lead NSW studies of COVID-19 in schools, aged care, hospitals and the home.
· Westmead Institute researchers believe that they have found blood biomarkers that tell clinicians whether patients will need intensive care and are working with clinical trials experts from across NSW to integrate these markers in to critical studies of the course of COVID-19 and its transmissibility.
· Garvan and Kirby Institute researchers have developed a world-leading technology to identify the critical antibodies amongst the myriad produced by our immune cells when challenged by this virus - that could lead to a new treatments and diagnostic tests and are working with virology researchers at UNSW and Westmead
· University of Sydney researchers are at the forefront of research into how best to communicate information during epidemics prevent transmission of infection and into the psychological trauma that may result from managing this epidemic in Australia.

Friday, 14 February 2020 16:17


Tuesday, 28 January 2020 22:41


Coronavirus: 400 Australian citizens desperate to get out of Wuhan ‘ground zero’
Kaitlyn Offer and Steve Zemek
Tuesday, 28 January 2020 7:17 pm


The federal government is trying to deploy officials into the locked-down Chinese city of Wuhan where around 400 Australian citizens have registered for evacuation from the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus.

Australian embassy officials have met with Chinese authorities in Beijing about the options available for citizens in Wuhan.


“Right now, the Australian government, through our embassy, is looking to deploy, working with the Chinese government consular officials, into Hubei province, into Wuhan,” prime minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday.

Mr Morrison said the National Security Committee is meeting every few days to discuss the issue as more people arrive in Australia from China.

“We’re working closely with the states and territories and we’ll continue to do that to keep Australians safe,” he said.

“But I would encourage Australians to go about their business, to understand and listen to the advice that’s being received.”

Five people are being treated in Australian hospitals for the virus after returning from visiting the region, but Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said they were all in a stable condition.

School precautions

NSW school children have been told to stay at home if they’ve returned from China within the past 14 days - the incubation period of the virus.

“We are asking parents who have holidayed with their children in China, if they have not been back for 14 days, support the community by holding back your children,” NSW health minister Brad Hazard said.

The direction from NSW is at odds with other states and federal governments which recommend students can return to school unless they’re a confirmed case of coronavirus, have been exposed to a confirmed case or have symptoms.

‘Stay away’

Some private schools around the country, however, have also told students to stay away if they’ve recently travelled to China.

Ten students of Brisbane’s Stuarthome School for girls are flying back from China and will spend two weeks in quarantine at the boarding school to manage any risk of them spreading the illness.


Five Australian citizens have contracted coronavirus after returning from China. Credit: AAP
But authorities warn there’s likely to be more cases and are working to trace any human contact the five confirmed patients have had, including people who were on the same flights from China to Australia.

In NSW, there are four confirmed cases including a 21-year-old University of NSW student who was diagnosed after flying back from the virus epicentre in Wuhan, China, and three men - aged 35, 43 and 53 - who are being treated at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital.

The UNSW student displayed no symptoms upon landing in Sydney on Thursday but 24 hours later began exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

In Victoria, a man in his 50s is being treated at Monash Medical Centre while four of his family members are under home isolation.

It’s now believed people who are infected could pass the illness to others the virus’ incubation period, which ranges from one-to-14 days.

Doctors had believed patients were only contagious when they started showing symptoms.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020 22:38


The tragedy of losing Kobe because he was trying to be the best dad

Yahoo Sports Dan Wetzel,Yahoo Sports

Kobe Bryant died being a father. This isn’t a surprise, because being a father had long ago become the most important thing in his life, even more than lifting the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA titles and earning international fame.

On the court, he was renowned for his focus, for his drive, for his competitiveness. He inspired people inside and outside of sports with his ability to work not just harder, but smarter, in an effort to maximize himself as a player.

It wasn’t any different in his personal existence, where the birth of four daughters through the years made his life, no matter how grand it became, a life that was bigger than just his own.

It’s that way with most fathers, at least the ones who realize how a change in perspective can be the greatest gift of life. Kobe’s realization may not have been broadcast on national television each week, but it can be more inspiring than even the greatest of his buzzer-beating shots.

Kobe Bryant died Sunday at age 41 in a helicopter accident. Eight others perished as well in the tragedy, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. They were headed to one of her basketball practices. The two shared both a love of the game and the spirit of competition, so her father labeled her “Mambacita.” From the Mamba himself, that’s high praise.

Taking a helicopter anywhere, let alone a youth basketball practice, might seem excessive, something right out of the rich and famous Hollywood playbook. It wasn’t. Not with Kobe. It was born out of his desire to be the best father he could.

It began back in his playing days. Kobe and his wife, Vanessa, had a daughter, Tatiana, in 2003, followed by Gigi in 2006. They’ve had more since, Bianka in 2016 and Capri in 2019. Tatiana and Gigi, though, changed the way Kobe operated.

He and Vanessa set up in the Huntington Coast section of Huntington Beach — where Vanessa is from — rather than L.A. or Beverly Hills or anything on L.A.’s West Side. Because the Lakers play in downtown L.A. and train in El Segundo near the airport, those places might be more convenient for the job. Kobe wanted Huntington Beach. It felt like a family place.

“Great people there,” he often said.

Remembering Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna (Getty/AP Images)

The commute to games and/or practices could be brutal. It’s an hour each way if everything goes right. Two hours if it doesn’t. Rather than move closer to the city, he tried to find a way around it as frustrations grew at the time drain that driving was causing.

“Even on weekends … traffic got really bad,” Kobe said on Barstool Sports’ “The Corp” podcast in 2018. “And I miss a school play because I am sitting in traffic. And these things kept mounting. I had to figure out a way to still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time. So that’s when I started looking into helicopters.”

Billionaire Mark Cuban often says there is one thing his money can’t buy: time. Well, Kobe gave it a shot. By flying over the traffic, he found a way to embrace his duel passions: playing all-out for the Lakers while being the suburban dad of his dreams.

Suddenly he could get to the Lakers’ training facility in 15 minutes flat. He could perform his legendary workload and still act like a work-at-home dad.

“My routine was always the same,” Kobe said. “Weights early in the morning, kids to school, fly down, practice like crazy, do my extra work, media, everything I needed to do. Fly back, get back in carpool line and pick the kids up.”

Yes, that was Kobe Bryant in an Orange County elementary school pick-up line, just like another mother or father. He didn’t just do it. He loved it.

This is, he would say, fatherhood. Not the big stuff. Not the glamorous stuff. The day-to-day stuff. The real stuff. The conversations that just happen. The perspective that can only be gained. The trust and love that is just built. Organically.

He didn’t want to miss out on any of it just because he happened to be the best basketball player in the world. He wanted it all.

“My wife was like, ‘Listen, I can pick them up,’” Kobe said. “And [he said], ‘No, no, no. I want to do that.’”

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Connecticut and Houston, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, watch the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Connecticut and Houston on March 2, 2019, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
If he could be with his daughters, he was going to be with his daughters.

“I have road trips and things like that where I don’t see the kids,” Kobe said. “So every time I get to see them and spend time with them, even if it’s 20 minutes in the car, I want that.”

Could they have driven to practice that was taking place north of L.A. on Sunday? Probably. It’s also probable that Kobe wanted to maximize his time Sunday with his wife and three other children. This was a hands-on dad. This is what the pride of his life had become.

Kobe still attended some Lakers games after he retired, but he wasn’t a constant presence. It wasn’t that he didn’t love being at the games. It’s that other things mattered more: family things, dad things, his kids’ things.

Basketball had given him so much, had given all the Bryants so much. After two decades, though, he wasn’t going to allow it to take anymore. When he’d go to the Staples Center and sit courtside, he was almost always accompanied by family.

His basketball priorities had morphed from dominating all comers to being a 40-something dad-coach on the youth basketball circuit, building up the confidence of young girls.

And so he got in that helicopter on Sunday. It had always been safe. It had always been effective. It had always been part of being a father.

And it stands to reason if there is one thing Kobe Bryant most wanted to be known for, and to inspire in others, it wasn’t how to be the best basketball player.

It was how to be the best dad.


Australia’s brave fire, police, ambulance and emergency services volunteers and workers, along with Defence Force personnel and reservists and overseas personnel, will be eligible to receive a medal in recognition of their service and sacrifice during the current bushfire season.

The National Emergency Medal will be awarded to eligible emergency responders who have given sustained or significant service during the 2019-20 bushfires.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said while his priority was to help people and communities rebuild and recover from the bushfire disaster, it was also important that recognition was given.

“Today as we reflect on what makes our country the best place in the world, we also honour those Australians who have battled this devastating fire season, many of whom will be on fire grounds today protecting our communities from danger,” the Prime Minister said.

“The response to the bushfire situation has been unprecedented with thousands of volunteer and paid responders working around the clock, day and night, week after week to protect property and save lives.

“Their courage has been extraordinary, and it’s a spirit which we must honour and celebrate this Australia Day and one which we will now formally recognise through the National Emergency Medal.

“We will continue to do whatever it takes to support fire affected communities right across Australia to help them rebuild, recover and become even stronger.”

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ben Morton said while the detailed criteria for the National Emergency Medal will be determined in the coming months after consultation once the current crisis has passed, it is important that we acknowledge the extraordinary efforts and the sacrifice of our emergency services volunteers and personnel.

“It is fitting we honour our emergency service personnel and volunteers for their selflessness, bravery, courage and sacrifice - Australia thanks you for your service,” Mr Morton said.

The Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), agreed to a recommendation from the Morrison Government that the 2019-20 bushfires be declared a nationally significant emergency for the purposes of the Medal.

The National Emergency Medal recognises service in response to a nationally‑significant emergency. Events must be declared by the Governor-General under the National Emergency Medal Regulations 2011, including specific criteria for the award.

At the conclusion of the ongoing response to the bushfires, the National Emergency Medal Committee will provide further advice, as required under the Regulations, to enable the formal declaration of the Medal for the 2019-20 bushfires including the specific criteria for eligibility.

The National Emergency Medal was established in 2011. More than 15,000 medals have been awarded to responders and volunteers to the 2009 Victoria bushfires that included Black Saturday and the Queensland floods that occurred over December to January 2010-2011, including Cyclone Yasi.

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