Small business ombudsman Kate Carnell to run 'bank inquiry'

Small business ombudsman Kate Carnell to run 'bank inquiry'

http://smh.com.au/small-business/finance/small-business-ombudsman-kate-carnell-to-run-bank-inquiry-20160831-gr62cq.html

The federal government has set up a royal commission-like inquiry into banks.

The federal government has set up a royal commission-like inquiry into banks, but only to investigate how they treat small businesses.

The office of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman will use its powers, which are similar to that of a royal commission, to look at whether enough has been done to protect small businesses from banks.

Kate Carnell spoke to Money News. Kate Carnell spoke to Money News. 

The ombudsman has powers to compel the banks to appear and hand over documents needed for the inquiry.

Ombudsman Kate Carnell said the federal government had asked her to look into cases of small businesses severely impacted by questionable banking practices that were raised during an earlier parliamentary inquiry.

“There have been reforms made in this space, but what my office will do is make sure these changes go far enough to ensure small businesses are safeguarded against banking misconduct,” Ms Carnell said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I’ll be making recommendations to the government – and potentially to the banks as well – about possible changes, whether it be legislative, regulatory or even cultural, that may still need to be made to help prevent these sorts of situations happening in the future.”

Her announcement came as the government faced a call in parliament from Labor to set up a royal commission into dodgy banking practices.

AAP 

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Busselton woman to face court over 'unlawful wounding' of boyfriend's genitals

Busselton woman to face court over 'unlawful wounding' of boyfriend's genitals

http://smh.com.au/wa-news/busselton-woman-to-face-court-over-unlawful-wounding-of-boyfriends-genitals-20160831-gr627m.html

  • 99 reading now

A 50-year-old Busselton woman was refused bail – and will appear in court again on Thursday – after allegedly injuring her boyfriend’s genitals during a domestic dispute, to the point he required surgery.

The ABC reported the man, also in his 50s, and woman had been drinking when they became involved in a dispute at their West Busselton home on Tuesday night.

The man had to be taken to Bunbury Regional Hospital for his genital injury. The man had to be taken to Bunbury Regional Hospital for his genital injury. Photo: Bunbury Mail

The woman allegedly injured her partner’s genitals and, according to the ABC, he was taken by ambulance to Busselton Health Campus, before being transferred to Bunbury Regional Hospital.

There have been reports his scrotum was torn open.

Busselton police were called to the incident and the woman was arrested at the scene and charged with unlawful wounding.

She will reappear in Bunbury Magistrates Court on Thursday.

with the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail

Metro Tunnel to help revitalise huge chunk of North Melbourne's 'Arden' precinct

Metro Tunnel to help revitalise huge chunk of North Melbourne's 'Arden' precinct

http://smh.com.au/victoria/metro-tunnel-to-help-revitalise-huge-chunk-of-north-melbournes-arden-precinct-20160831-gr60ju.html

  • Clay Lucas and Benjamin Preiss
  • 110 reading now

A new residential and commercial precinct in North Melbourne will include buildings of up to 15 storeys around Arden Station, which will be part of the Melbourne Metro Rail project. 

The construction of the new underground railway station, next to the Arden Street football ground, will enable the revitalisation of a major area currently used for industrial purposes.

An artist's impressions of what the new "Arden" precinct in North Melbourne will look like once the Metro Tunnel project ... An artist’s impressions of what the new “Arden” precinct in North Melbourne will look like once the Metro Tunnel project is complete.  Photo: Supplied by the Victorian government

Planning Minister Richard Wynne will on Thursday morning announce plans to revitalise 56 hectares in North Melbourne that are being referred to as the “Arden” precinct.

graphic

An artist's impressions of what the new "Arden" precinct in North Melbourne will look like once the Metro Tunnel project ... An artist’s impressions of what the new “Arden” precinct in North Melbourne will look like once the Metro Tunnel project is complete.  Photo: Supplied by the Victorian government

Mr Wynne said there would be a variety of building heights with more intense development around the train station. He said there were already three and four storey buildings in the area and the government wanted to make sure they were not overwhelmed.

Mr Wynne described the precinct as a unique opportunity that any other state government would “kill for”. 

“No other state government has got a parcel of land held in public ownership on the doorstep of the city that’s got such opportunities for development with a major urban public transport link underneath it,” he said. 

The Metro Tunnel underground rail line’s first stop after leaving South Kensington will be in North Melbourne, at the new Arden station. Much of the land around where the new station will go is owned by the state government.

Mr Wynne said in a statement released on Thursday morning that the area would be home to an additional 15,000 people as it was developed over the next three decades. He said many new jobs would be created.

“We’re expanding the city to meet demand for new housing and create new jobs,” he said.

The change to the largely industrial and commercial area to residential and office uses would be a “long-term legacy” of building the Metro Tunnel, Mr Wynne said.

graphic

Mr Wynne said the redevelopment of the area would “retain North Melbourne’s industrial history” – although some affected groups within the precinct have already voiced their concern about the impact of the new rail tunnel on the area.

The planning minister said a heritage overlay in the area would protect historic buildings and North Melbourne’s character.

They would also allow the revitalisation of Moonee Ponds Creek, he said.

The Melbourne City Council will retain control over planning decisions in the area.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the new area now had a “blueprint” that would help prevent repeating mistakes made in the past. 

Sam Dastyari contradicted Labor policy, backed China's position in sea dispute at event with donor

Sam Dastyari contradicted Labor policy, backed China's position in sea dispute at event with donor

http://smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/sam-dastyari-contradicted-labor-policy-backed-chinas-position-in-sea-dispute-at-event-with-donor-20160831-gr60hv.html

Fergus Hunter

Labor powerbroker Sam Dastyari has been admonished by a senior factional ally and is facing further scrutiny after it was revealed he backed China’s position in the South China Sea dispute at an event with a Chinese-Australian political donor who has previously forked out for his legal bills.

In a June press conference for Chinese media, Senator Dastyari pledged to respect China’s position in the hostile dispute with other Asian nations and the United States, at odds with the Labor Party’s position, The Australian Financial Review reports.

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Senator’s sticky situation

There have been fiery scenes in the Senate over revelations Labor Senator Sam Dastyari asked a Chinese donor to help pay one of his travel bills.

The senator is also reported as saying “the South China Sea is China’s own affair”, calling on Australia to remain neutral and drop its opposition to China’s air defence zone in the region.

Labor frontbencher Tony Burke, a senior figure of Senator Dastyari’s own NSW right faction, has now restated the party’s “crystal clear” stance on the issue and Coalition minister Josh Frydenberg labelled the reports “very worrying”.

“Labor’s position is that all parties should respect international law and we urge restraint and that’s the position and that’s what the answer should have been,” Mr Burke told Sky News on Thursday morning.

Labor has staunchly opposed China’s actions and advocated for the ramping up of freedom of navigation exercises near the contested islands at the centre of the dispute.

The latest development comes as pressure builds on the feisty senator, including calls for him to resign, after Fairfax Media revealed he asked a communist-linked donor to foot a $1670 expenses bill when he exceeded his parliamentary entitlements.

Mr Burke said that while his colleague had “taken a hit on this”, he would not be shifted from his position.

Yuhu Group CEO Huang Xiangmo and Sam Dastyari at a press conference for the Chinese community in Sydney on June 17. Yuhu Group CEO Huang Xiangmo and Sam Dastyari at a press conference for the Chinese community in Sydney on June 17. Photo: Supplied

Mr Frydenberg, the Energy and Environment Minister, said Senator Dastyari could not be trusted to handle his own office finances “let alone Australia’s foreign policy”.

“These are very worrying comments that have been attributed to Sam Dastyari about the South China Sea. It’s also a concern to see Sam Dastyari’s long litany of excuses and abuses and I do think [Liberal senator] Cory Bernardi is right, there is a case for him to answer,” he told Sky News.

Tony Burke and Senator Sam Dastyari. Tony Burke and Senator Sam Dastyari. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The NSW senator parliamentary register of interests show he has regularly accepted donations and invitations to visit China from Chinese groups.

Senator Bernardi has labelled the Labor senator the “Manchurian candidate” and led the charge against him, demanding he be stood aside and calling for an investigation into how foreign money was influencing politics.

The donor at the June press conference, Huang Xiangmo, has previously paid $40,000 of legal bills for Senator Dastyari and recently complained that Chinese-Australian donors were not getting enough action out of politicians as a result of their financial contributions.

Senator Dastyari is also quoted in Chinese media as saying “the Australian government must abandon its hostile stand on the [Air Defence Identification Zone]”.

In early 2014, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was chastised by her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi following strong criticism of the ADIZ.

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Telcos fight attempts to independently monitor broadband speeds

Telcos fight attempts to independently monitor broadband speeds

http://smh.com.au/business/media-and-marketing/telcos-fight-attempts-to-independently-monitor-broadband-speeds-20160830-gr4j0g.html

Lucy Battersby

The telco industry is fighting attempts by the competition watchdog to independently monitor broadband data speeds, claiming the program will be costly, ineffective, and drive up prices. Instead it wants to write its own guidelines and is launching a education package on what households should do to improve speeds. 

However, consumer groups argue Australians have a right to know what kind of data speeds each provider actually delivers, particularly on the national broadband network. 

Consumers don't know if slow speeds are due to their equipment, old infrastructure, or their telco being stingy with ... Consumers don’t know if slow speeds are due to their equipment, old infrastructure, or their telco being stingy with capacity.  Photo: Nic Walker

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [ACCC] wants $6 million in next year’s budget to roll out a monitoring scheme that collects daily data samples of every internet provider on different technologies. Chairman Rod Sims has previously called it “a really important consumer issue that we are currently getting a number of complaints about”. 

At the moment consumers on standard copper-based ADSL connections cannot choose their speed and have to rely on best-endeavours by their telco. But on the NBN consumers can pay more for faster speeds, but only receive those speeds if telcos buy enough capacity.  An ACCC pilot program found some telcos were not purchasing enough capacity and speeds dropped dramatically during busy periods. 

Slow internet speeds may be due to modems, not infrastructure, telcos often claim. Slow internet speeds may be due to modems, not infrastructure, telcos often claim.  Photo: AVM GmbH

Chief executive of industry peak body group Communications Alliance, John Stanton, said the ACCC is “putting forward a flawed proposal that cannot produce rigorous, publishable, comparative information”. 

There were many factors outside a telco’s control for companies to predict speeds, he said, such as the number of customers using the network, the number of people in a household and whether they use a cable or WiFi connection, distance from the exchange, and capacity on undersea cables. 

Chief executive of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network [ACCAN], Teresa Corbin, said Australians were sick of being sold internet services that did not meet their expectations. 

“The thing is that people are being sold products by being told ‘this is going to be better than any thing you have ever had before’,” she said. 

But consumers often found speeds did not improve by changing providers. Only telcos know when they – not the consumers – are responsible for slow speeds, Ms Corbin added. 

“We would prefer that the ACCC do [the monitoring] because it would be linked to their compliance and enforcement approach,” she added. 

The CommsAlliance submission said describing “attainable” internet speeds was as difficult as predicting car travel times on a busy road. It also argued consumers were more concerned with price and download limits than speed, and that prices would increase if telcos had to deliver the speeds they advertised. 

CommsAlliance, which represents companies like Telstra, Optus, AAPT, and Vocus, also blamed video streaming services like Netflix for an increase in complaints about data speeds to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. 

“…An ADSL service that the user has long perceived to be performing satisfactorily may become perceived to suffer from slow speeds because of nothing other than the greater demands being placed on it by the consumer – prompting a complaint to the TIO”. 

Chief executive of Internet Australia, Laurie Patton, said sign up rates on the NBN may be slow because people have heard speeds were slower than ADSL. The monitoring scheme would help work out if the slower speeds were due to the customer’s equipment, NBN Co’s network, or the telco’s stinginess with capacity. 

He supports an independent scheme that would monitor speeds on fibre-to-the-node connections.  

A program similar to what the ACCC proposes is currently being rolled out in Canada, with the communications regulator set to publish company-specific results later this year. A preliminary report found all the telcos met or exceeded their advertised speeds.

Man Booker winner Richard Flanagan says we need writing that challenges us

Man Booker winner Richard Flanagan says we need writing that challenges us

http://smh.com.au/entertainment/books/man-booker-winner-richard-flanagan-says-we-need-writing-that-challenges-us-20160831-gr5a4z.html

  • Jason Steger

Richard Flanagan is the first Boisbouvier professor of Australian literature at the University of Melbourne, but if the model for the new position is any sort of guide he is far from the last.

The chair, which was established thanks to a donation of $5 million from merchant banker John Wylie and his wife, Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie, takes its inspiration from the professor of poetry at Oxford University, the first of whom, in 1708, was Joseph Trapp, an English clergyman whose duties included delivering three public lectures despite his poetry having a less-than-stellar reputation.

Man Booker-winning author Richard Flanagan at the University of Melbourne. Man Booker-winning author Richard Flanagan at the University of Melbourne. Photo: Simon Schluter

More recent holders of the chair have been poets of greater repute, such as W.H. Auden, Seamus Heaney and the current professor, Simon Armitage.

While Flanagan has already been taking classes and meeting students on campus, on Thursday he will begin the public element of his post with a lecture on the topic Does Writing Matter? as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival.

The Man Booker-winning author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North says that at a time when society has become conformist and fearful books remind him that he is not alone.

“We need writing that questions, that says no, that doesn’t agree, and which reminds each and everyone of us that we are capable of the most wicked acts and also the most beautiful. For me writing is a form of truth and freedom.”

Flanagan fears Australian writing and the local book industry are under threat from the proposed copyright reforms of the Productivity Commission, which “is to Australian writing what Donald Trump is to Mexicans: dangerous, deranged and potentially disastrous”.

“The government wants to destroy the Australian book industry for an ideological furphy. Maybe we need to wear high-vis jackets and live in Christopher Pyne’s electorate to get noticed.”

And he believes the $2.4 million that writers receive in grants from the Australia Council is derisory.

Flanagan, whose next novel, First Person, will be published next year, reckons the creation of the chair at the university was an inspired idea – “we have much great writing and we are only beginning to realise how important it is to us” – and hopes it will grow into an important national voice for the centrality of Australian writing in Australian life.

Richard Flanagan speaks at the Athenaeum Theatre at 6pm. mwf.com.au

Family 'shocked, confused' by disappearance of Victorian couple Mark and Jacoba Tromp in NSW

Family 'shocked, confused' by disappearance of Victorian couple Mark and Jacoba Tromp in NSW

http://smh.com.au/national/family-shocked-confused-by-disappearance-of-victorian-couple-mark-and-jacoba-tromp-in-nsw-20160831-gr61fi.html

  • Chloe Booker
  • 667 reading now

The adult children of a missing Victorian couple, last seen in NSW, are “shocked” and “confused” after a man was seen bolting from their car into parklands.

They reported their parents, Mark and Jacoba Tromp, 51 and 53, missing to Goulburn Police after the couple disappeared during a family holiday in the NSW central tablelands early Tuesday morning.

MIssing: Mark Tromp, with his daughter Ella. MIssing: Mark Tromp, with his daughter Ella.  

Police have been told the Tromp parents and adult children all travelled from the couple’s home in Silvan, in Melbourne’s outer east, to the Bathurst and Jenolan Caves area early on Monday.

In a bizarre twist, a man driving the couple’s grey Peugeot station wagon, with Victorian number plates WRG-756, was reported to have followed a young couple in Wangaratta about 10pm on Wednesday.

The Tromp children: Mitch, Riana and Ella. The Tromp children: Mitch, Riana and Ella. 

The young couple saw the man get out of the car and run into Merriwa Park.

Police scoured the park on Wednesday, but failed to find the man.

Family friend Christopher Jones said the children, Ella, Mitch and Riana, all in their 20s, at first believed their parents may have been found with the car, but are now struggling to understand the “odd” development.

“They are shocked. They are very confused,” he said.

A Peugeot wagon similar to the car Mark and Jacoba Tromp were last seen driving. A Peugeot wagon similar to the car Mark and Jacoba Tromp were last seen driving. Photo: 7 News

“They aren’t really sure what’s going on.”    

The children hold  “serious concerns”  for their parent’s welfare, NSW police say.

Mr Jones said Mr Tromp, an excavator, and Ms Tromp, also known as Coby, ran a hobby farm.

Adding to the confusion, Victorian Police says the couple left personal possessions, such as bank cards and mobile phones, at home in Silvan.

A Victoria  Police spokeswoman said the circumstances surrounding their disappearance remained unclear.

“Victoria Police continues to work closely with NSW police in the hope someone comes forward with information on their whereabouts,” she said.

Mark Tromp is described as Caucasian, 185 centimetres tall, with a dark brown crew cut, clean shaven face and brown eyes.

Jacoba Tromp is described as Caucasian, about 168 centimetres tall, medium to heavy build, with a fair complexion and blonde shoulder-length hair.

Anyone who believes they have seen Mr or Ms Tromp should call triple zero.

Anyone with general information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

The principals' association on how NSW schools could be more like Finland's

The principals' association on how NSW schools could be more like Finland's

http://smh.com.au/national/education/the-principals-association-on-how-nsw-schools-could-be-more-like-finlands-20160831-gr5qhh.html

Kelsey Munro

  • 152 reading now

NSW schools should learn from Finland and judge schools on broader measures than NAPLAN, the secondary principals’ council says.

The President of the body, Chris Presland, has slammed the “political interest and gnashing of teeth” around plateauing NAPLAN results.

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What’s so good about Finland?

We’re always hearing Finland has the best quality of life, find out why.

He is calling for the reporting of student and parent satisfaction rates with schools alongside their standard test results, as well as consideration of more radical ideas borrowed from Finland, such as less homework and shorter school hours. 

“Finnish children have the lightest homework load of any industrialised nation and shorter school hours than many Australian children, however there is strong value placed on the idea of human capital and a broad understanding of student and school success,” the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council president Chris Presland said.

Finland consistently lands in the top five in the international PISA rankings, which every three years test the maths, science and reading performance of about half a million 15-year-old students in 60 countries. 

Australia is usually in the top 20, but the OECD’s education tsar has warned we are slipping down the rankings. The latest PISA results will be released in December.

The Scandinavian country’s magic formula for success is a source of much interest in other school systems.  

Mr Presland says Finland’s radically different approach shows there is value in “a more holistic understanding of educational success”. 

Finnish children do less homework. Finnish children do less homework.  Photo: Lyn Osborn

“One really interesting thing about Finland I heard at a conference there last year came from the equivalent of their [department] secretary,” Mr Presland said. “He said ‘in Finland, the best school is the closest school.’

“That’s a really interesting thing. They don’t have this private public divide. They have virtually no private schools and don’t fund independent schools at all. They try to make sure that every school, the local school, has everything that it needs.” 

Schools in Finland consistently outperform the world. Schools in Finland consistently outperform the world.  Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa

Somewhat ironically, says Mr Presland, the Finns consistently achieve top rankings in the standard tests by applying a much wider set of parameters, including strong emphasis on equality of access and even distribution of learning outcomes throughout different schools. 

“They have very little focus on external test data, which is one of the great ironies,” he says. “They’re barely interested in their PISA results and they’re killing everyone.”

Mr Presland said the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, the peak body for public high school principals, believed non-cognitive measures of school success such as parent or student satisfaction rates should be published with NAPLAN results, which he likened to judging a batsman’s performance in a Test by the runs they score in a single over.

“Even a measure like attendance rates, on the most basic level, would give you an indication if students are engaged and enjoying school, and that’s far more important in terms of what schools are trying to do overall,” he said.

Mr Presland rejected federal education minister Simon Birmingham’s criticism of Australian schools’ “plateauing” NAPLAN results.

Mr Birmingham said the results were “not good enough” because there had been a boost to education funding in the past two years

“I think anyone serious in the game knows that’s a silly comment. It’s a politically driven statement attempting to justify the non-implementation of the Gonski reforms,” Mr Presland said.

“Nobody is actually saying that just throwing money at a problem solves it, that’s the minister’s line. 

“You need sensible use of the money, quality leadership and quality teaching.. and they cost resources.” 

Women charged with kidnapping child in Cairns

Women charged with kidnapping child in Cairns

http://smh.com.au/queensland/women-charged-with-kidnapping-child-in-cairns-20160831-gr61t4.html

Police have charged two women after they allegedly abducted an 11-year-old boy in Cairns on Monday.

Police say the two assaulted a 28-year-old woman in her home before taking the boy, who was known to them, to a nearby restaurant.

Police say two women took a boy, 11, from a home after assaulting another woman. Police say two women took a boy, 11, from a home after assaulting another woman.  Photo: Glenn Hunt

The boy’s father was notified and he retrieved his son from the two women, who have been charged with child stealing and burglary and are due to appear in Cairns Magistrates Court on September 21.

AAP

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Bubble skirts and Simon Le Bon: a letter to my 13-year-old self

Bubble skirts and Simon Le Bon: a letter to my 13-year-old self

http://smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/bubble-skirts-and-simon-le-bon-a-letter-to-my-13yearold-self-20160831-gr5qn1.html

  • Jo Stanley

Dear 13-year-old Jo,

Right now, you think the world has ended. Your best friend, Lina, has stopped talking to you for no reason and even though you’ve begged her to tell you why she just gives you the silent treatment and goes off with Amy at lunch and you’re left on your own trying not to cry in the back of the library. I know. It is devastating. It’s a baffling and bruising pain that you will remember at strange times over the next 30 years, and you’ll be sad for that little girl who just wanted to be accepted and approved of and loved.

A lesson from Jo Stanley to her younger self: 'You will never be happy if you compare yourself to other people'. A lesson from Jo Stanley to her younger self: ‘You will never be happy if you compare yourself to other people’.  Photo: Stocksy

The great news is that while Lina will come around, you don’t need her. Tania is your true BFF (QUICK, go spread that turn of phrase, you’ll be the first by 10 years and be LEGENDARY!!). With Tania, you’ll laugh like you’ve never laughed before, cry without shame, dance and sing and – well, I’ll leave it up to you to live the next few decades hanging out with Tan. I’m envious you have that ahead of you. I’d relive it all in a heartbeat.

I must give you these little titbits, though, as a future version of you who has finally managed to get good hair (hang in there – it gets better).

Jo Stanley as a 13-year-old. Jo Stanley as a 13-year-old.  

First, it doesn’t matter how you argue it, Andrew is not the cool one in Wham! Stop insisting on it. Possibly that’s why Lina’s gone cold (just saying).

Second, you and Simon Le Bon DO have a special connection. Right now, he’s just a poster on your wall and the winner of your Spunkiest Hunk of 1985 Award. In about 23 years, you will interview him and he will look deep into your eyes and tell you that you’re beautiful and it won’t be a surprise because you knew it was meant to be.

Third, I know all you want in the whole wide world is a bubble skirt and your mum won’t buy one for you and everyone in your year has one and you could just die from the shame of it. But here’s a lesson that I wish wish WISH I had learned at your age, and not be still struggling to master now. You will never be happy if you compare yourself to other people.

You haven’t had the easiest of starts in life. Your dad died, your mum has been sad and single and struggling to make ends meet. You feel lonely often and can’t quite work out where you belong. The magical knowledge, though, is that everyone else feels this too. Everyone else has that voice in their head saying they’re no good. Everyone else is hiding the same pain.

Jo Stanley. Jo Stanley.  Photo: Jennifer Soo

So stop focusing on what others seem to have that you don’t. You have everything you need inside of you – kindness, humour, intelligence and tenacity. Allow those qualities to replace the self-doubt and fear that follow you everywhere you go. Be brave and curious. Laugh lots and listen carefully. Make the choices that are right for you, and always speak your mind. Make mistakes. Never forget, you alone are enough. And I love you.

With all of my heart,

43-year-old Jo

P.S. Just because I can, let me ease your mind: you will grow boobs, you will get a boyfriend, and yes, you will get a bubble skirt. You’ll be 37 and it will be for an 80s bad taste party, but it’s never too late for dreams to come true.

This letter by Jo Stanley appears in a new book called Letter to My Teenage Self, edited by Grace Halphen published by Affirm Press, http://affirmpress.com.au/publishing/letter-to-my-teenage-self/ All proceeds from the book go to The Reach Foundation.

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