Rebel Wilson wins tabloid defamation fight

Hollywood star Rebel Wilson has won her month-long defamation battle against Bauer Media, saying she got through the trial by thinking about “pashing” actor Liam Hemsworth.


A six-woman jury in the case against the gossip magazine publisher unanimously found eight articles published in Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly, NW and OK magazine in May 2015 defamed the star.

Bauer was unable to prove the articles, which said the star lied about her real name, age and childhood, were substantially true or that they were unlikely to harm her.

Outside the Supreme Court of Victoria on Thursday, Wilson said she felt the “stain” had been removed from her reputation after Bauer had “so maliciously” taken her down.

“The reason I’m here is not for damages, it’s to clear my name. And the fact the jury has done that unanimously and answered every single of the 40 questions in my favour I think proves what I’ve been saying all along,” Wilson said.

“I was hoping the jury would do the right thing and send a message to these tabloids and they’ve done that so for me, it’s over in my mind.”

Wilson said she felt like she’d stood up to a “bully” who had damaged her career.

“Unfortunately, this was the only way that I could stand up to this huge media organisation was by taking them to court publicly,” she said.

“I’m a person that’s really confident in my own skin and really felt like it was the right thing to do to take this company on and prove how disgusting and disgraceful their chequebook journalism is.”

Wilson said she plans to go back to Hollywood and rebuild her career.

“I’m hoping to film a movie in New York with fellow Aussie Liam Hemsworth, who I get to pash in the movie,” she joked.

“So when I’ve been feeling really down about the stress of this court case, I’ve just been thinking about pashing him.”

Bauer Media said it would consider its options after the verdict.

The jurors deliberated for two days over their verdict, in which they were asked to consider 40 questions about the articles.

They agreed Bauer had said Wilson lied about her age, claiming to be six years younger, and had lied about her real name.

They also found Bauer had said Wilson lied about having an hallucination while sick with malaria, about her parents being dog trainers, about being related to Walt Disney and about being raised in a “bogan” and “ghetto” area of Sydney.

The first article, by Woman’s Day journalist Shari Nementzik, quoted an anonymous paid source who claimed the star had added a touch of “fantasy” to stories about her life to “make it in Hollywood”.

Wilson revealed early in the trial she believed the source was an “obsessive” and “jealous” former schoolmate who knew little about her life.

Another article, by then Australian Women’s Weekly journalist Caroline Overington, claimed the reporter was one of the people the Bridesmaids star lied to.

Ms Overington gave evidence in the trial, claiming Wilson had lied to her face and claimed to be 29 when she was in fact 35.

Wilson said after the articles were published in May 2015 she struggled to get lead roles, despite starring in the hugely successful Pitch Perfect franchise.

Justice John Dixon will decide damages at a later date.

Landmark report calls for better protection of elderly

A landmark review has called for new laws requiring aged care providers to report any allegations or suspicion of abuse or neglect to an independent body.


The Australian Law Reform Commission also wants improved screening of aged care workers and the regulated use of restrictive practices.


Elderly abuse is a problem advocates say is far too prevalent, with up to one in twenty senior Australians affected.

But Council on the Ageing chief executive, Ian Yates, says elder abuse is difficult to track.

“Elder abuse is fairly widespread. It is a minority, but it’s in numbers, you know, the tens of thousands a year, that are disturbing. And it’s disturbing that we don’t know about it. Elder abuse remains neglected, and it’s time that we picked up our game and did something really significant about it.”

A national plan

The recommendations tabled in parliament on Wednesday, follow an inquiry launched last year.

Central to its proposed changes is the development of a national plan, to be used as the basis for the ongoing protection of older people from abuse.

The report recognises the difficulty in documenting the prevalence of abuse nationwide, and has called for a study which the federal government has already committed.

The issue was complex and required a multi-faceted response, the report said. It also noted that older people receiving aged care, whether it’s at home or in residential facilities, may experience abuse or neglect from staff, other residents, family members or friends.

Abuse a ‘family affair’

Andrew Simpson from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers says elder abuse can be a family affair – and take the form of physical, emotional or financial abuse.

“Financial abuse is very difficult to police because often it happens at the hands of a family member or friend. People help themselves to mum or dad’s money without authority, and ultimately depriving mum and dad of their own wealth,” Mr Simpson said.

“One of the problems with older people, is often they have compromised capacity, and they don’t have social networks around them that can provide the support that they need. And so often, by the time the abuse has occured and the money has been taken, it’s too late.”

Uniform laws are “absolutely vital,” says Age Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson.AAP

Responding and reporting incidents

The commission recommends introducing new laws to establish a serious incident response scheme, requiring approved providers to notify an independent oversight body of an allegation or a suspicion of a serious incident.

The body would monitor and oversee the provider’s investigation and have the power to conduct its own investigation of serious incidents.

The outcome of an investigation into an incident, including findings and action taken, must also be reported.

Enhancing employment screening processes and ensuring unregistered staff are subject to a national code of conduct has also been tabled. Likewise the push for banks to introduce better financial protection for vulnerable customers.

Nationwide approach

Mr Yates has welcomed the report’s calls for consistency across states and territories.

“We very much suffer at the moment from a ‘bits and pieces’ approach. Inconsistent laws, gaps in laws, and no national framework at all.”

Age Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Kay Patterson, says that uniform laws would help reduce confusion over matters like power of attorney.

“They’re absolutely vital. And I think people who are making powers of attorney need to understand what their rights are. And I think we know as well as we should that we can put conditions on it.”

In a statement Attorney-General George Brandis welcomed the findings, saying the government has committed to a national framework, and invested $15 million dollars to protect older Australians.

Dr Patterson believes that support is crucial.

“And it really requires action from all levels of government. From businesses, like banks, from health professionals, and anybody who comes in contact with older people.”

Other recommendations:

– Allowing tribunals to resolve family disputes involving agreements to provide care in exchange for residential property.

– A national co-ordinated response to improving lawyers’ understanding of the potential for elder abuse using wills.

– Changing the code of banking practice to require banks to take ‘reasonable steps’ to identify and prevent the financial abuse of vulnerable customers.

– Requiring private guardians and private financial administrators to sign an undertaking about their obligations and responsibilities.

– The development of an elder abuse strategy by the Department of Human Services.

– Introducing adult safeguarding laws in each state and territory to help protect other vulnerable Australians from abuse.

– with AAP


NSW buildings at risk of London-style fire

It’s feared up to 2500 buildings in NSW have highly flammable cladding installed similar to that being blamed for London’s devastating tower block fire.


The aluminium cladding is suspected to have acted as an accelerant in the blaze that destroyed Grenfell Tower with at least 12 people confirmed dead and many more missing.

According to a report obtained by the state opposition under freedom of information laws in 2015, up to 2500 buildings were identified as using the non-compliant material, commonly known as Alucobest.

The NSW government says it began investigating the issue following the Lacrosse building fire in Melbourne’s Docklands in 2014.

However, it still has no idea how many buildings are at risk.

Councils were warned of the dangers of non-compliant cladding on high-rise buildings in August 2015, Housing Minister Anthony Roberts said on Thursday.

The department also held seminars in October 2016, along with Fire and Rescue NSW, explaining the requirements of the National Construction Code and the enforcement powers available to them.

“The government takes the issue of fire safety in residential buildings very seriously,” the minister told AAP in a statement.

“My agency will monitor the investigation into the London fire to determine whether there is any relationship with the combustible cladding matter and whether any further action should be taken on this matter in NSW and at the Commonwealth level”.

Opposition regulation spokeswoman Yasmin Catley said the government response to the issue had been “negligent and lazy”.

A spokesman for the Department of Planning and Environment has described the 1500 to 2500 figure in the 2015 report as a gross estimate, produced from development approval and Australian Bureau of Statistics data to indicate the potential of the problem.

“Neither of these data sets includes data on building materials used,” he told AAP in a statement.

Non-compliant cladding does not mean a building is inherently unsafe, he added.

The NSW government last year announced it would improve building certification laws after a review found apartment fire safety practices were ineffective.

It proposed a string of reforms, including better annual checks for existing apartment buildings and more frequent inspections of large blocks during construction.

A City of Sydney spokeswoman said the council was not aware of any buildings in the city that had non-compliant cladding.

Sharobeem blames staff for charity fraud

Former charity boss Eman Sharobeem has blamed scheming ex-colleagues for the fact public funds were used to pay for non-work related items – including her son’s liposuction and her own water bills.


For eight days in the witness box at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, the 54-year-old has denied almost all wrongdoing in the face of accusations she rorted more than $600,000 from immigrant charities.

“I am finished,” she said in Sydney on Thursday.

“They managed to kill my soul, kill my body.”

A deflated Ms Sharobeem was reacting to news she will need to return for further questioning despite expecting her questioning, which she describes as “torture”, to conclude on Thursday.

Once an Australian of the year state finalist, Ms Sharobeem’s time as head of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service and the Non-English Speaking Housing Women’s Scheme is under heavy scrutiny.

The commission heard she paid for $3000 of her son’s liposuction bill at Westmead Hospital in March 2015 and, within hours, received reimbursement from NESH funds.

Counsel assisting Ramesh Rajalingam accused Ms Sharobeem of authorising the payment remotely.

“It didn’t happen,” she replied, her testimony punctuated by heavy sighs.

In an email, Ms Sharobeem later told board members the money related to a conference where she presented a paper – a claim disputed by Westmead Hospital.

It must have been her ex-colleagues who made the transfer, Ms Sharobeem argued, during the early stages of an attempt to frame her.

According to Ms Sharobeem’s evidence, the same colleagues reimbursed three personal water bills – each of about $190 – in 2009.

She has defended billing more than $34,000 in traffic fines back to the IWHS, defiantly claiming it was “part of her package”.

“Mistakes happen driving,” she said.

Questions have been raised about her two sons’ employment at the charities, and Ms Sharobeem also denies inflating figures on the number of participants in IWHS programs to secure grants.

She rejects allegations she fraudulently represented herself as a psychologist and treated patients after claiming to have obtained only an honorary doctorate from the American University in Cairo.

The commission saw Corrective Services NSW documents in which Ms Sharobeem was referred to as the “treating psychologist” of a young family friend.

It was also shown a copy of her CV submitted to a government department in which Ms Sharobeem included a PhD in both psychology and community management among her qualifications.

Acting Commissioner Reginald Blanch said it would be “completely misleading” to present that without being more specific.

Ms Sharobeem claims she has paid back all the wrongfully-reimbursed money and evidence before the commission suggests her transfers add up to $44,757.36.

Mr Blanch told Ms Sharobeem she will need to return in July after other witnesses have testified.

“Only for a very short time,” he reassured.

“Please stop them,” she replied.