Tara Brown murder: Ex-partner Lionel Patea to face court on Wednesday

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Lionel Patea and Tara Brown in 2013. Photo: FacebookThe man accused fatally bashing Gold Coast woman Tara Brown moments after allegedly running her off the road is set to face court on Wednesday.

Police brought forward the court date for Lionel Patea, who was originally due to face the Southport Magistrates Court on October 28.

Mr Patea, Ms Brown’s former partner, has been declared fit to face the court after he was hospitalised following Ms Brown’s alleged attack on September 8.

Shortly after the alleged attack on a Molendinar street, Mr Patea presented to the Coomera Police Station with what was believed to be self-inflicted stab wounds.

Ms Brown, 24, died in hospital from severe injuries the following night.

Mr Patea, also 24, faces charges of murder, breaching a domestic violence order, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and attempted unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

Police allege the former Bandido used his Jeep to ram Ms Brown’s car down an embankment and into a house on Macquarie Avenue, Molendinar, before he used a piece of metal to attack her.

They then allege he stole a council worker’s ute and fled the scene.

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Traffic congestion to rise as boom gates come down earlier on Frankston line

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Motorists will be forced to wait longer at train level crossings on bayside lines. Photo: Patrick ScalaMotorists in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs will spend more time waiting at level crossings as Metro increases the down time at dozens of railway boom gates.

Boom gates will lower as much as 15 seconds earlier each time a train approaches a level crossing on the Frankston, Werribee and Williamstown lines from this month, in preparation for the arrival of eight new X’Trapolis trains later this year.

The trains have faster acceleration than other trains operating in Melbourne, and Metro has made the change to avoid the risk of a road-rail smash.

In all, 46 level crossings and 33 pedestrian crossings will have their wait times extended.

The safety-related change will increase traffic congestion in many of Melbourne’s southern and western suburbs.

In the most extreme cases on the Frankston line, boom gates will drop for an extra 9½ minutes all up in the two-hour morning peak between 7am and 9am. There are 38 Metro services in that period.

Metro said level crossing times needed to be adjusted to fit in with the X’Trapolis train fleet’s “different acceleration and braking characteristics”.

“The crossing timing is specific for each level crossing and needs to be assessed individually, but generally boom gates will go down between one and 15 seconds earlier,” Metro spokeswoman Pauline O’Connor said.

“The reason for this is to ensure the safe operation of the level crossing for road, pedestrian and rail users.”

The change will be felt hardest on the Frankston line, which has 29 level crossings. Eleven are on the Andrews government’s list of 50 to be abolished in the next seven years.

Twenty of those crossings are in the city of Kingston, which stretches from Moorabbin to Carrum, and eight are set to go, although none are yet on the government’s list of 20 to go in this term.

Kingston mayor Geoff Gledhill said that with no level crossings in the municipality locked in for removal yet, he feared congestion was set to worsen before it improves.

“At this point I’m disappointed that we haven’t managed to secure one yet and I can tell you it hasn’t been through a lack of lobbying,” Cr Gledhill said.

He said level crossings at Cheltenham and Mentone stations already created “appalling congestion” during school opening and closing times.

The X’Trapolis trains are about to be introduced to the Frankston and Werribee/Williamstown lines as part of the former Napthine government’s $115 million bayside rail improvement project, which is in its final stages.

The first new train started running on the Frankston line in October last year, weeks before the state election and well before necessary engineering changes were made.

The train’s acceleration was throttled for safety’s sake and the Coalition was accused of introducing it prematurely as an election stunt.

In April, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union made a failed bid through the Fair Work Commission to force the train off the line, citing safety concerns.

Boom gate times have been progressively lengthened over recent weekends, most recently at five level crossings on the Altona loop.

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How do you end family homelessness? Try rent subsidy, experts say

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Rachael Newton, who was homeless for two years. Photo: Eddie Jim Rachael Newton, who was homeless, with her son Thomas Martin. Photo: Eddie Jim

When Rachael Newton finally left her toxic, 15-year relationship, a bag of clothes in one hand, she had to trudge nearly 40 kilometres along country roads to catch the train to Bendigo.

You might have thought this was the low point, but it got much worse.

At her journey’s end Rachael – who has three children now aged 22, 17 and 14 – couldn’t find anywhere to live.

Private landlords rejected her because she had no rental history (for 15 years she had shared a mortgage with her ex), and no job (she had worked in the family business).

The only option was an expensive room ($200 a week) in emergency housing for men and women. It was chaotic, noisy and frightening; a halfway house for people leaving prison and those abusing alcohol and drugs.

After a woman was raped and a man beaten, Rachael decided her then 12-year-old daughter would be safer living with her father.

We’re often told the answer to family homelessness is affordable housing. But what does this actually mean?

Rachael Newton, who was homeless for two years, with her son Thomas Martin. Photo: Eddie Jim

New US-based research has followed more than 2000 homeless families to determine the best way to solve the problem.

It found a “permanent housing subsidy”, which combined help to find housing with an ongoing rent subsidy (at 30 per cent), cut subsequent emergency shelter use by half.

This approach had other social benefits too: it halved the rate of family violence and subsequent emergency shelter usage compared with the business-as-usual approach of an extended stay in a shelter.

And the cost? Researchers were expecting that a permanent housing subsidy would be expensive, says lead researcher Professor Marybeth Shin, from Vanderbilt University, who is in Melbourne this week to lead a conference on housing run by the Council to Homeless Persons.

But when the costs of extra support services that families relied on to cope with their time in emergency housing, the costs were the same over the 20 months of the study.

“Homelessness, at least among families, is largely a housing affordability problem. There are lots of ways to reduce the gap between what poor families can pay and the cost of housing,” says Professor Shin.

The research shows the answer to homelessness lies in increasing affordable housing, says Council to Homeless Persons policy manager Sarah Toohey.

“If you’re looking at the effectiveness of the reduction of homelessness, and increased wellbeing in the families, they were so much higher in this single intervention,”

For decades Victorian public housing properties have been in decline and affordable private rental is increasingly rare.

The state’s latest figures showing the public housing waiting list hit 34,500 in the June quarter of this year.

But there are other ways to make housing more affordable to those who desperately needs it.

These include specialised real estate agents helping vulnerable people secure tenancies, rental subsidies, or encouraging landlords to consider different tenants (sometimes with financial incentives).

Rachael moved from the emergency hostel into share housing, then spent four months in a motel ($480 a week).

Eventually, two years ago, she found a townhouse in Kew with help from Homeground Real Estate, Australia’s only not-for-profit real estate agency.

The agency covered the cost of Rachael’s bond and first month of rent. She has full-time cleaning work and pays the rent of $300 a week herself.

“It gives you back your independence, your sense of self-worth,” says Rachael.

“The government want to shine more light on domestic violence and irradiate it, (but) unless these forms of housing are available, it’s not going to happen. For a lot of women it’s too hard.”

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Mother’s desperate triple-0 call: ‘I’ve had my baby early; it’s 26 weeks’

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Colleen Constante and her newborn son Lucas. Photo: Radio 3AWColleen Constante is on her bathroom floor, cradling her newborn son.

She is hysterical, barely able to breathe.

But she manages to call triple-0.

“I’ve had my baby early … but I don’t have anyone here,” she tells the operator.

Ms Constante had gone into labour at nearly 26 weeks – 14 weeks earlier than the normal 40-week gestation.

“The baby is breathing, is that right?” the operator asks.

“Yes, making noise,” Ms Constante replies.

Over the next seven minutes, with an ambulance en route, the operator talks calmly to Ms Constante.

“You’re doing really well Colleen, it must be a really scary thing for you to happen. We’ve got help on the way,” the operator says.

The recording of Ms Constante’s distressing call for help has been released to mark “Thank a Paramedic Day”.

Newborn Lucas was crying when paramedics arrived at the Constante’s home, but he stopped breathing soon after. The paramedics performed CPR, before racing him and Ms Constante to hospital.

Today Lucas is a thriving 18-month-old toddler.

Ms Constante said Lucas would not have survived without the actions of the paramedics and the calmness of the triple-0 dispatcher in the first seven minutes of his life.

“They never know what they’re going to get, they’re trained for everything,” Ms Constante told radio station 3AW on Tuesday.

“Hearing the stress in my voice, her main aim was to keep me calm and I think she did that really well.”

Ms Constante said it was hard to articulate the depth of her appreciation for the people who saved her son.

“There are only so many ways you can say thank-you,” she said.

Victorians can participate in the state’s inaugural Thank a Paramedic Day by sharing stories, photos and messages on Ambulance Victoria’s Facebook page, via Twitter (@ambulance_vic), or on Instagram (@ambulance_victoria) using the hash tag #ThanksAmbos.

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Centre supports brain cancer fundraiser

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A Kurri Early Childhood Centre fundraiser brought a well-known face back to town to accept the cheque for funds raised.

MEANINGFUL CAUSE: Back, Kurri Early Childhood Centre educator Gillian Low (holding Mac) hands over the fundraising cheque to Mark Hughes, and at front, Lucy, Aubrey, Henry, Audrey and Zavier.

The centre held a Beanies for Brain Cancer fundraiser for the Mark Hughes Foundation in August, and Hughes himself dropped in last Tuesday to pick up the cheque.

Children from babies up to pre-school wore their beanies and helped to raise $258.50 just from gold coin donations during the week of August 17 to 21.

With a strong connection to Kurri, Hughes said it is great for the foundation to receive the home-grown backing.

“It’s fantastic support coming from my local town,” he said.

“There are a lot of worthwhile foundations out there and for them to pick our foundation to support was fantastic.

“I always love to visit Kurri.”

Educator Gillian Lowe loves football and the Newcastle Knights and thought it was a meaningful cause to get behind.

The centre also lost a little girl to cancer, and the fundraiser was a way of remembering her.

This is the first time the centre has been involved in Beanies for Brain Cancer and they plan to make it an ongoing event.

Hughes thanked all of the children and families for getting involved, and reminds people to keep an eye out for the fundraiser as it will be back again next year.

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