Good news, everyone!

Good news, everyone! Me and my buddy Hamish Hastie, WAtoday’s business reporter and all round excellent dude, won Best Multimedia Report for our investigation ‘Perth’s tangled web: Property, power and the people who pull the strings’ at the WA Media Awards this month. 

Hamish Hastie, Emma Young and Nathan Hondros.

Hamish, me and and Nathan Hondros with our awards!

I view urban planning as intrinsically linked to both public health and environmental health.

So when Perth residents contact us so often in anger at the decisions of government planning boards, whose processes are often shrouded in secrecy, I view it as important.

In fact, our coverage was leading to so many fresh leads we decided to get to the bottom of that distrust

We’ll just do a little investigation, we thought…. FOOLS!

Tangled Web ended up totalling 36 eight-hour days over three months, while juggling normal duties, systematically scouring hundreds of meeting minutes. Many long afternoons closeted in an airless boardroom with our laptops and a giant spreadsheet, with me going “we probably don’t need to look at ALL these minutes”, and Hamish saying, YES WE DO, COME ON.

We mastered a visualisation software that has never been used on this level by any news outlet in the country to create the “web” showing the relationships between developers and projects.

The judges said: “Emma Young and Hamish Hastie may have used old-fashioned journalism to assemble the nuts and bolts of their Tangled Web series, which painted a convoluted picture of the connections between those who control almost every facet of Perth’s property world, but there was nothing old fashioned about the presentation.

“They made use of impressive data visualisation maps to show just how connected the players are and accompany a compelling piece of journalism on a subject that affects so many West Australians.”

If you want to read it, links are at the bottom.

Secondly, a shout-out to my other colleague, mentor and friend Nathan Hondros who won the Arthur Lovekin Prize for Excellence in Journalism 2019 – one of this state’s three most prestigious journalism awards –  for his investigation ‘Sleepers Wake: Uncovering China’s WA War of Influence’.

Nathan revealed the telco Huawei spent years building influence within WA’s political and business circles before winning a $136 million contract to construct a mobile data network for the state’s public transport system.

He also revealed how Chinese information operatives could impact WA, the Australian state of most interest to China because of its mining and business opportunities, and because of the influence it exerts over Australia’s economy.

Increasingly, the interviews he did with security and intelligence agencies and foreign affairs specialists showed him their worry over the lack of scrutiny it was getting.

His increasing frustration with parliamentarian’s responses (you could see the steam coming out of his ears in the office) made him tackle this like a dog with a bone. He wrote piece after piece (I am talking well over 30 in a year).

He almost destroyed his government media relationships, but he struck a nerve and forced the government to sharpen its focus and start providing clearer answers.

Judges said at a time when no other WA journalist was tenacious enough to probe the state’s links to one of the world’s financial and political powerhouses, Hondros took the risk and was prepared to jeopardise his reputation to publish the stories worth telling.

They called it “a detailed and tenacious examination of a complex network of people and organisations, asking at times uncomfortable questions over the relationship between state, political and corporate interests, and the need for transparency in business and diplomacy”.

The issue has only heated up since, and that is in large part due to Nathan’s tenacious and fearless reporting.

Finally, while it remained a finalist and missed out on the Health/Medical prize, my colleague Daile Cross’ investigation of the treatment meted out to an autistic man with complex needs, by the Department of Communities which was supposed to be caring for him, was an incredible example of energetic, ethical and compassionate reporting that achieved a massive improvement in the quality of this man’s life by forcing action from a department that had been ignoring the concerns of his family.

Over the past decade, the old business models of media companies have collapsed and about 3000 journalism jobs lost in Australia.

Media ownership has concentrated, we do ever more with ever less, and these days many journalists are increasingly constrained in topics they are allowed to write about and the time they can take.

They get a bad rap from people who do not understand this, who simply think all journalists are dickheads and don’t care about their duty.

It’s because I get to work for a publication that gives me time and freedom, and because I get to work with people like Hamish, Nathan and Daile, that I remain loyal to and proud of WAtoday.

Perth's tangled web: Property, power and the people who pull the strings

PART 1: Perth’s tangled web: Property, power and the people who pull the strings

Perth is growing, with apartments springing up everywhere. But in many ways – the planning approvals system, for one – it remains a very small town indeed.

WA's small property tank: Where 'big fish bump into each other'

Part 2: WA’s small property tank: Where ‘big fish bump into each other’

“[Perth] is a small enough tank that big fish bump into each other. Even if not your project, it’s your colleague’s or your industry partner’s.”

'Highly demoralising': How people get trapped in Perth's planning web

part 3: ‘Highly demoralising’: How people get trapped in Perth’s planning web

There are checks and balances in place to manage conflicts in Perth’s planning system. But the closer to the top it gets, the murkier the process becomes.

A sticky situation: Scarborough skyscrapers and the MRA's secrets

part 4: A sticky situation: Scarborough skyscrapers and the MRA’s secrets

These landmark twin towers might be stalled, but they’re still causing their fair share of trouble.

 

Perth doctor’s ‘happy bowel’ guide brings him shitload of fans

Who could have predicted that one of the biggest crowds at Perth Writers Week would be the one that gathered to hear a doctor talk about bowel movements?

Nevertheless, people lined up around the building to see Perth colorectal surgeon Michael Levitt, recently appointed WA’s chief medical officer.

Dr Levitt's book has struck a chord in the community.

“I think there were about 150-200 people, and it was packed – eventually they just had to close the doors,” he said.

“It was [Perth emergency doctor and author] Michelle Johnston who interviewed me, so I guess they figured if I wasn’t entertaining, at least she would be.

“I was a little surprised by the crowd though. It’s not my first book – I’ve written three books about bowels now.”

But this book is something of a departure from the first, The Bowel Book, published in 2002 by Oxford University Press – a textbook of bowel disorders aimed at the general public.

The second, The (Other) Women’s Movement, published in 2008, focused on managing constipation and while it was more approachable than the first, Dr Levitt said it still had “too much detail for general interest”.

But The Happy Bowel, whether it’s the bright cover, engaging tone, the endearing cartoons inside or a combination of it all, has enjoyed runaway popularity.

"An empty bowel is a happy bowel."

“In the course of a career your thoughts inevitably change over time; are subtly modified, based on feedback from patients,” Dr Levitt said.

“I also wanted to write a bit more in my voice.

“This subject is about significantly troublesome systems, and I have found approaching it with a lighter heart gets people onside.

“Every person in the planet has their bowels open in their own quirky fashion. Having that on the table, as it were, I think I get more information and patients become more receptive.”

But the book is not about cancer, colitis, Chrohn’s Disease, or even haemorrhoids.

It is for people who simply find bowel actions difficult – to start, to stop or to control in general. Who struggle with constipation, incontinence and dissatisfaction.

It’s what doctors call “functional” bowel disease.

To illustrate how function fails, Dr Levitt first describes what a “good action” looks and feels like.

“Prompt, effortless, brief and complete,” he said. “And the single most important thing? The strong urge that says, go now.

“People who can generate that urge but choose to go early, like guys who grab a book and wait on the platform waiting for the train to arrive, get into trouble.

“And people who never get that urge, more often women, have another significant problem.”

Read the rest of this article on WAtoday.

Of motherhood and shame: when to fight, when to flee?

Bra shopping. It’s not easy at the best of times. But for a stressed mum with a new baby at home, toddlers in tow and self-esteem at historic lows, a good dollop of shame can push you right to the edge.

Kim Tucci felt ashamed. But she's not alone - and there's a scientific explanation.

Kim Tucci felt ashamed. But she’s not alone – and there’s a scientific explanation. Photo: Facebook

We are all familiar with terms such as mother-shaming, mother-guilt and ‘mob mentality’, which can lead people to avoid someone in need, as much as they might a crime in progress.

The #stopmomshaming hashtag is invoked in discussing Hilary Duff kissing her son and Pink microwaving her coffee; mums choosing bottle or breast, work or home, ignoring crying or attending to it, helicopter-parenting or browsing Facebook on their phone while at the local park.

Whatever their choice, these women tasked with providing an endless source of brightness and strength for our newest members of society can be felled at any moment with a weapon known simply as The Look.

Read more here at WAtoday

‘This is not about parental rights or doctors…it’s about Oshin Kiszko’

A Western Australian Family Court judge, who was faced with a grave decision in a state-first case this week, has spoken of how his decision could only ever have been about the life of one boy.

Justice Richard O’Brien was tasked with handing down a landmark decision on whether Perth six-year-old Oshin Kiszko should receive radiotherapy treatment for brain cancer against his parents’ wishes.

Read more at WAtoday

‘This will set a precedent’: Judge’s cancer treatment decision for Oshin

A judge tasked with deciding whether six-year-old cancer sufferer, Oshin Kiszko, should receive further treatment against his parents’ wishes has acknowledged his decision will set a precedent for future cases.

Read more at WAtoday. 

Doctors return to court to force six-year-old’s cancer treatment

Oshin Kiszko's mother Angela says she wants him to have peace, love and fun times while he is still physically able to. Photo: Elle Borgward

Oshin Kiszko’s mother Angela says she wants him to have peace, love and fun times while he is still physically able to. Photo: Elle Borgward

The parents of a Perth boy with aggressive brain cancer are set for another legal fight with doctors from Princess Margaret Hospital.

The medical team will take Angela Kiszko and Colin Strachan to court again on Thursday in a bid to step up chemotherapy and introduce radiation treatment for six-year-old Oshin, while his parents want only palliative care for their son.

Read more…