Rio revelation Nelson competing against hometown hero Breen in capital

Ella Nelson will face hometown hero Mel Breen in the Canberra Grand Prix at the AIS Track this weekend, as the Olympic star chases the 200m Australian record.

Nelson burst onto the international stage at the 2016 Rio Olympics with a blistering dash of 22.50 seconds in the 200m to almost earn a shock berth in the final.

The 22-year-old fell just 0.01 seconds short of becoming the first Australian since Cathy Freeman and Melinda Gainsford-Taylor to make the 200m Olympic final.

Nelson said she tries not to think about how close she came to the pinnacle of her sport and instead focuses on the positives of her breakout season.

“As much of an emotional stress as it was, I have nothing but good memories of the Olympics, it was the most fun I’ve ever had,” Nelson said.

“I really made a point to remember and enjoy every second because Matt Shirvington said us before the Games – ‘you’d think I’ve been to a lot of Olympics but I only went to one and because I assumed I’d go to several I didn’t get everything out of it that I would have liked’ – and that really resonated with me.”

The breakout performance earned Nelson worldwide praise, but the USA-based sprinter said once she’s out of her tights she is able to evade the public eye.

“Unless I’m wearing track gear I’m out of context so people don’t recognise me which is probably a good thing,” Nelson said.

Nelson said she has loved racing in Canberra since winning Pacific School Games gold back in 2008 and is looking forward to competing against Breen.

“We get along really well and push each other, Mel was super supportive in Rio and we’re always happy for each other when we do well, I’m excited to see what we can both do this weekend,” Nelson said.

Since a hamstring injury last April, Nelson has only raced outdoor at Rio and will make her return to the track in the capital on Saturday.

Nelson will compete in the 100m and 200m where she hopes to secure a personal best time and inch closer to Gainsford-Taylor’s Australian record of 22.23.

The Olympian credits her dramatic improvement last year to the ALTIS training program in Phoenix Arizona which she joined in October 2015.

“I was definitely progressing anyway but when went to Phoenix and started training with some of the world’s best coaches, that basically changed everything,” Nelson said.

Lauren Wells, Michelle Jenneke, Jack Hale and Tom Gamble will also run in Canberra, while Sally Pearson was a late scratching with the Olympic champion focusing on nationals in Sydney at the end of March.

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Hotline to help Qld women fearing work discrimination cut off several days week

A Queensland service that helps women fight back against discrimination at work has had to scale back its advisory phone line, as well as direct some callers to Victoria.

Announcing the decision on International Women’s Day, Queensland Working Women’s Service director Kerriann Dear said it was a huge blow.

The choice was made on Wednesday to close the phone line, but a day later the service changed tack, opting to open the line three mornings a week, due to a funding boost from the Queensland government.

Late on Thursday the website was still advising the hotline was closed.

“I think there’s a loss of specialised services in that it has a gender analysis, a service that knows the local work… A service that can get our hands a bit dirty and actually take action to help women,” Ms Dear said.

As a result of a federal funding cut, about 80 per cent of women who call the phone line will be referred to JobWatch, a Victorian community legal service. The service’s education programs will continue.

Funding through the Fair Work Ombudsman was axed and the service feared it would have to close its doors in early 2017 after the federal money ran out on December 31.

The Palaszczuk government stumped up extra money, providing $210,000 in 2016/17, which it will increase to $250,000 in 2017/18.

The Queensland Department of Communities also provided $175,000 for a domestic violence 12-month pilot project from November 2016, with the website set to launch next week.

Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the government valued the service’s important work to help vulnerable women, “even though the bulk of the QWWS’s services have been primarily within the Commonwealth’s IR jurisdiction”.

Ms Grace called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to reinstate the service’s federal funding.

The service has still lost two staff and others have had their hours cut, Ms Dear said.

“We’re working out how we manage with only a couple of staff and how we manage to reach the women who are most in need,” Ms Dear said.

The Queensland service, which has been funded by state and federal governments for 22 years, has secured about $1.6 million in unpaid entitlements and settlements for women in the past 18 months.

It had received $300,000 a year in funding from the federal government, with a four-year contract, which was topped up by $200,000 from 2013, and expired in June.

It then received half the original contract – $150,000 – since June, and asked for $350,000 to keep the service going from January 2017, but was unsuccessful.

It helps Queensland women with workplace issues, including domestic violence, sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and bullying.

The Queensland service receives about 20 complaints or concerns each day, typically from vulnerable women and migrants.

It has spoken to employers to help negotiate better conditions and if the law has been broken, provided women with legal representation.

“They’re often calling because they’ve been dismissed or they’re concerned they’re going to be dismissed. They might be experiencing discrimination,” Ms Dear said.

A spokesman for federal Employment and Women Minister Michaelia Cash said funding for workplace advice services under the community engagement program was provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“The FWO has granted funding to a range of organisations, including two working women’s centres, who collectively can provide advice services to both employees and employers nationwide,” the spokesman said.

Late last year, the FWO told Fairfax Media the federal government committed $7.3 million over four years to the Community Engagement Grants Program.

The Northern Territory and South Australian chapters of the service were also facing closure after their Fair Work Ombudsman funding was cut but they received funding through another grant.

Ms Dear said she was telling clients to contact Ms Cash to ask why cuts have been made and ask her where they should go for help.

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Death in Brunswick: Film Buff’s Forecast to go after 36 years on air

One of the stalwarts of Melbourne public radio has been axed, with the last episode of Film Buff’s Forecast to be broadcast on 3RRR on March 25, after 36 years on air.

Host Paul Harris posted the news to his friends and followers on Facebook on Thursday afternoon, under the heading “Death in Brunswick!” (a reference to an Australian cinema classic and the station’s physical location).

Harris wrote that he had been called into a meeting a week ago and “informed that the station was taking away my 12-2pm slot, which had been a constant in my life for so long”.

The decision was, he said, made by the station’s content and program manager “with the unanimous approval of the program advisory group of 3RRR”.

The rationale was that the station wished to move to an all-music line-up on Saturdays.

“We would like to offer you the new timeslot of Sunday, 1-2pm, starting in April,” wrote program manager Bec Hornsby in an email seen by Fairfax. “This will bring your program in line with the rest of our specialist talks programming on Sundays.”

Harris said he could not do the show on that day “due to family and work reasons, and would never agree to anyway on principle”.

Harris, who is the director of the St Kilda Film Festival and is a former columnist for The Age, is a hugely respected member of and contributor to the local film community. His show presented a mix of reviews, interviews with directors, actors, writers and producers, and film score music. It has long been compulsory listening for lovers of film in this city.

A clearly distressed Harris wrote that he had spoken to station manager Dave Houchin??? to discuss the fact he felt he had been treated “shabbily and disrespectfully”.

“I told him ??? the station has been part of my life for nearly 40 years and I would have taken a bullet gladly for a station whose values I so greatly respected. Now I have been effectively given the bullet.”

Late on Thursday, Triple R confirmed the news that the program would come to an end with a statement on its website.

“Paul’s enthusiasm???, dedication, hard work and ???enormous film knowledge will be??? greatly??? missed and Triple R would like to thank Paul for his massive contribution to the station over the last 30+ years.

“Triple R realises that change can be hard, but the station needs to continue to evolve and to create opportunities for new presenters and new ideas on the grid.”

Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin

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Martin can take ‘as long as he likes’: Balme

Richmond football boss Neil Balme says the Tigers are happy to give Dustin Martin “as long as he likes” to contemplate his future as long as the gun midfielder’s on-field performance doesn’t dwindle.

Martin, 25, is a restricted free agent this year and his contract situation is set to remain a major talking point until he either re-signs with Richmond, or chooses to accept an offer from a rival club.

Martin again made headlines when walked away from contract questions at a media gathering at the MCG where he was helping to promote a new football with mentor and former Tigers assistant coach Mark Williams.

While Balme argued that Martin had been treated unfairly by the media in the aftermath, he said the more important matter of talks between the club and Martin’s agent Ralph Carr were going well.

“There’s been nothing but professional and constructive conversations between us and Ralph Carr as to what’s going on,” Balme told SEN.

“When I first came back we had a breakfast meeting with Dusty and [Balme’s lieutenant] Dan [Richardson] and Ralph and myself, and we went through it all, and I was really impressed.

“We’re talking the same language. It’s just a matter of figuring out where Dusty fits in our program and also in the AFL larger program as to what we need to be able to pay him, because he’s an exceptional player for us and we want to do the long-term deal with him.”

The veteran administrator also said he’d understand if Martin wanted to take things slowly before coming to a decision about where he will play in 2018 and beyond.

“It’s a terrific opportunity for a bloke like Dustin, with free agency, to make sure he gets the right deal. We’ve made him a terrific offer and he can take as long as he likes to consider it as far as we’re concerned as long as he plays good footy in 2017. We’ve got every confidence that he’ll be a Tiger long-term and I’m pretty sure he thinks the same way.

“I think we’ve made an offer that eventually will be fine. They’ve got every right to take as much time as they like to consider it.”

Martin hit back at his treatment by the media on Wednesday night. He labelled reports about the MCG gathering “fake news” via a post on Twitter.

“Selective editing of the video tells a different story as always,” Martin wrote.

“Another article this evening about Ralph & myself is also NOT true. They don’t care how it affects people, they just want to get a story in the paper! Stay solid.”

Balme said Martin had a right to feel aggrieved, although conceded that attention about Martin’s future wouldn’t subside. “He’s just going to have to set himself for it because that’s going to happen.”

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Mitchell wins another Sportswoman of the Year award

Javelin star Kathryn Mitchell has long been one of the city’s best female athletes, but took her stature to new heights with a fourth Ballarat Sportswoman of the Year award on Thursday night.

Mitchell received the honour –presented by the Ballarat Associates Branch of the Sportsmen’s Association of Australia – previously in 2010,2013 and 2014.

She edged out fellow finalists Kolbe Poole (eight ball), Rachel Tallent (race walking) and Kaitlyn Ashmore (football) to claim the trophy.

Mitchell now takes over the role of defending champion from jockey Michelle Payne, who won the award last year.

The 34-year-old Mitchell enjoyed a brilliant 2016 that was highlighted by a memorable effort on the biggest stage of them all. A throw of 64.36m helped her finish sixth in the final of the women’s javelin at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, where she placed less than 2m behind gold medal winnerSara Kolak fromCroatia.

Numerous placings in IAAF Diamond League events throughout the year saw Mitchell finish second overall on the leaderboard at season’s end.

She also won two events on the IAAF World Challenge tour.

In theacceptance speech, Mitchell reflected on the year and thanked her coach Uwe Hohn, who she credits for her rise up the world ranks.

“I met him six years ago and he was really the turnaround ofmy career,” she said.

“The last six years have been the best of my life. I’m not a young athlete anymore, but it doesn’t mean I still can’t compete well on the world stage.”

Mitchell was also full of praise for the city’s ability to produce sporting stars on a large scale.

“The depth that we have and have had of sportspeople in general –men and women – coming out of Ballarat is just amazing,” Mitchell said.

“It’s year after year. There’s always something written that they are representing the sport on a world stage.”

Mitchell’s award was the highlight of a big night at St Patrick’s College, where more than 200 people turned out for the function.

Businesswoman, philanthropist and women’s football pioneerSusan Alberti was in attendance as the special guest.

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