Thousands pay respects to slain Nemtsov

Thousands of mourners have paid a last homage to slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down near the Kremlin in the most stunning assassination of Vladimir Putin’s rule.

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Crowds thronged the Russian capital to mourn the 55-year-old former deputy prime minister, a long-time Putin critic and anti-corruption crusader who was laid to rest at a Moscow cemetery.

The funeral caused a fresh spat between Russia and the European Union, which condemned what it called “arbitrary” bans after Russia blocked prominent figures from Poland and Latvia from attending.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was also unable to attend as he is behind bars, but speaking from jail he accused “the country’s political leadership” of ordering a hit on Nemtsov.

Putin himself has branded the killing a provocation and his spokesman said of Navalny’s charge: “I am not going to comment on such lunacy.”

Moscow has pledged a full investigation as speculation swirls about who was behind the assassination.

Clutching flowers and candles, mourners formed a huge queue outside the Andrei Sakharov rights centre in central Moscow where Nemtsov’s body lay in state.

As Bach’s St Matthew Passion played, well-wishers filed past the flower-covered coffin, many crossing themselves and weeping.

Nemtsov’s mother Dina Eidman, who turned 87 on Tuesday, his children, widow, and former partners and friends stood by the casket.

Ordinary Russians were joined by government officials and dignitaries including Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, former president Boris Yeltsin’s widow Naina and former finance minister Alexei Kudrin.

Ex British prime minister John Major and Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius were among foreign dignitaries to attend.

Putin, who was hosting the authoritarian leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, did not attend the funeral at Moscow’s prestigious Troekurovskoe cemetery.

Many mourners blame Putin for the murder, saying the Kremlin – locked in a bitter confrontation with the West over the Ukraine conflict – whipped up hatred against dissenters.

Mealamu to break Super Rugby games record

Keven Mealamu’s durability has been hailed after he was named for his record 163rd Super Rugby appearance on Saturday.

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All Blacks and Blues hooker Mealamu will become the most capped player in the 20 years of the championship when he starts against the Lions on Saturday, surpassing the record held by retired Australian lock Nathan Sharpe, who represented the Queensland and the Western Force.

Mealamu, 35, was rested for the Blues’ first three games, which were all lost, but returns in place of James Parsons in one of five changes for the game in Albany.

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan says the record couldn’t have fallen to a more worthy player.

“Keven is an inspirational character both on and off the field.

“He exemplifies all of the qualities that we strive for at the Blues in desire, hard work, resilience, loyalty and integrity.

“He will bring a real lift to the team and I am sure the boys will want him to celebrate his milestone with a good performance.”

It is another longevity record for Mealamu, who has indicated this year is likely to be his last.

During last November’s All Blacks tour, Mealamu moved past Colin Meads’ New Zealand record of 361 first class games.

His 123 Tests is second behind Richie McCaw for the All Blacks and the fifth-most by any player.

A flanker at New Zealand schoolboy level, Mealamu made his Blues debut in 2000.

He struggled to hold down a regular starting spot during his first two seasons and was picked up in the 2002 draft by the Chiefs, where he played 11 games.

He returned to the Blues in 2003, helping them to the most recent of their three titles.

Mealamu will pack down alongside prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi, who gets his first start of the season in place of rested All Black Tony Woodcock.

Two changes to the backline come at inside centre, where Francis Saili replaces Mike Northcott, and on the wing, where Frank Halai makes his first start of the year following off-season shoulder surgery.

Halai’s return demotes Tevita Li and results in a shift to the left wing for Melani Nanai, who made his debut on the right wing in last week’s 25-24 loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Blues: Lolagi Visinia, Frank Halai, Charles Piutau, Francis Saili, Melani Nanai, Ihaia West, Jimmy Cowan, Jerome Kaino (capt), Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Patrick Tuipulotu, Josh Bekhuis, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi. Reserves: James Parsons, Sam Prattley, Angus Ta’avao, Hayden Triggs, Brendon O’Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Simon Hickey, Hamish Northcott.

Golden Gate bridge jump survivor helping men who struggle

When US man Kevin Hines was 19, he made what he describes as his biggest mistake of his life.

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“I tried to take my own life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge,” he said.

“And I have always maintained that that was the single worst action I could have taken.”

Against the odds, he survived.

“I prayed that I would live. Because I didn’t want to die.”

He is not alone.

Deaths by suicide have reached a 10-year peak, and there are some men who are particularly vulnerable.

“I prayed that I would live. Because I didn’t want to die.”

In Australia’s construction industry, for example, suicide rates are nearly 2.4 times higher than in the rest of the population.

Peter McClelland, CEO of suicide-prevention charity Mates in Construction, said many men in that industry struggled to ask for help.

“Construction workers like to see themselves as tough and able to fix problems,” he said. “And, like a lot of men, we’re not very good at seeking help.”

Retired Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Briggs said communication was important.

“What I’ve found is folks haven’t been listened to a lot of times,” he said. “The mental illness, the depression, the bipolar is with them. They’re just not being listened to.”

Mr Briggs said police were trying to prevent the deaths and are working to target vulnerable communities, including Indigenous Australians.

“What I’ve found is folks haven’t been listened to a lot of times.”

“A lot of studies have shown that they have higher levels of suicidal behaviour,” he said.

“We need to be able to open up. And if we can do that, life much, much easier.”

Kevin Hines agrees, and he’s using his experience to help other men speak up.

“Every day I’m happy to be alive,” he said.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or follow @LifelineAust @OntheLineAus @kidshelp @beyondblue @headspace_aus @ReachOut_AUS on Twitter.

Technology doesn’t judge: using the web to address domestic violence

By Laura Tarzia, University of Melbourne and Kelsey Hegarty, University of Melbourne

For every woman who speaks out about her experiences or reports the abuse, many more remain silent through fear, shame, or simply because they don’t know who to turn to.

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Many don’t even tell their closest friends, family members, or general practitioner, let alone pick up the phone to call a domestic violence hotline or counselling service.

This reluctance to seek help is alarming when we consider the grim statistics on domestic violence. One in five women in Australia have experienced physical or sexual abuse at the hands of an intimate partner. One woman is killed each week by her current or ex-husband, partner, or boyfriend. Seventeen women have already died this year, and it’s only March.

Thanks to activists such as Rosie Batty, there has been a renewed focus on challenging gender stereotypes and men’s attitudes towards women in an attempt to prevent violence from occurring. While this is certainly a vital piece of the puzzle, the patriarchy is unlikely to be dismantled overnight.

The proposed terms of reference for the Victorian government’s Royal Commission into Family Violence argue that domestic violence requires a coordinated response across government, services, and the community. But this will be difficult and time-consuming to achieve, particularly in light of the Abbott government’s cuts to critical domestic violence services.

Clearly, we need to think more innovatively about how we respond to this hidden epidemic. Technology – specifically, the internet and smartphone apps – may provide part of the solution.

Existing technology

The internet and smartphone apps are readily available to large numbers of people. They allow users to access help, information, or support anonymously and privately.

In the context of domestic violence, women who may not yet be ready to name their experiences as “domestic violence” can use the web or smartphone apps to assess their relationships and figure out the next steps. Most importantly, women can access help without the need to disclose the abuse to anybody, which may reduce concerns about judgement and stigma.

Globally, many countries are beginning to explore the possibilities for web- and smartphone-based applications to respond to domestic violence. In the United States, South Africa, and New Zealand, for example, interactive tools are being developed and evaluated to help women make decisions and learn about respectful relationships.

In Australia, we are also starting to recognise the potential of technology, with several domestic violence apps such as Aurora and iMatter already helping women connect to formal services and access practical information. iMatter, which is targeted at younger women, also promotes self-respect and empowerment.

Towards tailored support

Technology has the potential to do more than inform and link to services; it can help provide the individualised, tailored support women need when experiencing abuse at the hands of an intimate partner.

Our research team is developing a web tool called I-DECIDE, which allows women to reflect on an unhealthy or unsafe relationship and manage their situation.

I-DECIDE uses validated tools to identify the type of abuse (emotional, physical, or combined) a woman may be experiencing, as well as her level of danger and risk, and provides feedback. It also incorporates reflective exercises around relationship health and safety.

Drawing on a face to-face counselling program for general practitioners, I-DECIDE uses motivational interviewing and non-directive problem-solving techniques. These help women determine their own needs and the steps they might take to improve their safety and well-being, acknowledging that the step chosen may not always be leaving the relationship.

I-DECIDE responds to women’s individual priorities by providing strategies and resources that are unique to her situation, rather than general standardised links to information and resources. Perhaps most importantly, the program culminates in an individualised “action plan”.

Preliminary testing has been positive. One woman commented that after using I-DECIDE: “I feel affirmed and deserving. I feel it helped me recognise what I had been prioritising over my own health and well-being, and reminded me to keep perspective about my partner’s behaviour.”

Potential barriers

There are, however, some challenges that need to be addressed when harnessing technology to respond to domestic violence.

The rise of online abuse and cyber-stalking by partners or ex-partners is a major concern. Appropriate security measures need to be put in place to ensure women’s safety when using websites or apps.

Additionally, it’s difficult to address the whole spectrum of relationship issues with one website or app. Telephone and face-to-face contact will still play an important role in responding to women’s needs.

Any response approach has the risk of alienating women through use of inappropriate language. Many women will not identify with “domestic violence”, “family violence” or “violence against women” language or services. We have carefully called this website “I-DECIDE About My Relationship” in an attempt to reach out to women who may not have named their relationships as abusive.

I-DECIDE is currently being evaluated through a randomised controlled trial, which will determine its effectiveness in addressing domestic violence in the wider population. Women eligible for the trial can access I-DECIDE immediately. It will be made available to all women in 2016.

 


If you or someone you know would like to participate in the I-DECIDE project, visit the website.

Anyone at risk of family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault can seek help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, either online or by calling 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732). Information is also available in 28 languages other than English.

Read other articles in The Conversation’s ongoing domestic violence coverage.

Laura Tarzia is the coordinator of the I-DECIDE project at The University of Melbourne. She receives funding from the Australian Research Council.

Kelsey Hegarty is the Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council funded project I-DECIDE

The Bali Nine: where are they now?

The Bali Nine: then and now

MYURAN SUKUMARAN, 34

THEN: Sukumaran was a uni drop-out working in a Sydney mailroom when the opportunity for a “big pay cheque” – the Bali Nine plan – came up.

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NOW: On death row in Kerobokan jail, with no appeals left. Sukumaran has lobbied for better rehabilitation options for prisoners, including an art studio and T-shirt screen printing room, where he spends much of his time teaching and studying for a fine arts degree by correspondence.

ANDREW CHAN, 31

THEN: Chan was the self-confessed black sheep of his Sydney family. He and Sukumaran both went to Homebush Boys High School, a few years apart.

NOW: On death row in Kerobokan jail, with no appeals left. Chan has embraced Christianity in prison and is involved in pastoral care for the prison community. He also started first aid and cooking classes, and is trying to launch hospitality courses for inmates.

Chan’s workmates:

MATTHEW NORMAN, 28

THEN: Norman lived in Quakers Hill, Sydney, and worked at the Eurest catering group where Chan worked. He was the youngest member of the Bali Nine.

NOW: Serving life at Kerobokan. Norman had always been into sport and tries to stay fit behind bars. In a 2011 interview, he described Chan and Sukumaran as “nice people, to me, they’re just friends”.

RENAE LAWRENCE, 37

THEN: Lawrence, of Wallsend, in Newcastle’s west, also worked at Eurest. She was down on her luck, having broken up with her partner, and had money troubles.

NOW: Serving 20 years in Bangli, Bali. Lawrence was moved out of Kerobokan jail after her plot to kill a prison guard was discovered. She has since been rewarded reductions to her sentence for good behaviour and may soon be eligible to seek parole.

MARTIN STEPHENS, 39

THEN: From Wollongong, former barman Stephens worked at Eurest and took part in the Bali Nine operation as a mule with Lawrence.

NOW: Serving life at Malang, east Java. He also turned to Christianity in prison and in 2011, married Christine Puspayanti, a woman who had visited Kerobokan with a church group.

SI YI CHEN, 29

THEN: It’s unclear how Chen, from Sydney, met Chan and Sukumaran. His role in the Bali Nine it seems was running errands for them.

NOW: Serving life in Kerobokan, he has learned to be a silversmith and his designs reflect his devotion to the practice of Taoism.

The Queenlanders:

TAN DUC THAN NGUYEN, 31

THEN: Nguyen lived in bayside Brisbane with his family, who ran a bakery. He recruited Rush and Czugaj into the Nine on a night out in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.

NOW: Serving life in Malang, east Java. He has never given a media interview. He was moved out of Kerobokan with Stephens last year, to ease overcrowding.

MATTHEW CZUGAJ, 29

THEN: Czugaj, from Brisbane’s southwest, was working as a glazier. He met Rush playing football in high school and had never been overseas before the trip to Bali.

NOW: Serving life in Kerobokan. He has suffered mental and physical ailments in jail. In 2010, his mother revealed she had been sending him money in the realisation she was funding his heroin habit.

SCOTT RUSH, 29

THEN: Rush, from a riverside Brisbane suburb, was applying to enter the RAAF before he agreed to go on the trip to Bali. His father Lee suspected his rebellious son was in trouble. The AFP was tipped off but did not intervene.

NOW: Serving life in Karangasem, Bali. Rush is also recovering from drug addiction and has proposed marriage to his girlfriend, London banker Nikki Butler.