Woolworths to scrap Woolworths Dollars in rewards program revamp, leaked document shows

Woolworths Reward Card. Photo: Delyse Phillips A leaked copy of a Woolworths Rewards Support Guide sent to store managers. Photo: Supplied
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Woolworths customers have complained about the current loyalty scheme, saying it is too hard to earn Woolworths Dollars. Photo: Brendon Thorne

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Orange tickets begone? Woolworths appears set to relaunch its rewards program and scrap the “Woolworths Dollars” feature that has confused and frustrated shoppers for the past 10 months.

A leaked, confidential document sent to Woolworths store managers around the country and seen by Fairfax Media, indicates customers will no longer have to buy hard-to-find, orange-ticketed products to earn “Woolworths Dollars”.

From Wednesday, August 31, customers will be able to earn one point for every $1 spent at Woolworths supermarkets as well as Caltex petrol stations and BWS liquor stores, it says.

There’s more news in the document for Qantas frequent flyer point collectors, who successfully fought for Woolworths to reverse its decision to cut ties with the airline.

Under the yet-to-be-launched scheme, members can convert 2000 points into $10 Woolworths Rewards dollars, which can be traded in for 870 Qantas frequent flyer points.

They can also use $10 Woolworths Rewards dollars to instantly shave $10 off their grocery bill at the checkout.

“We’ve been listening closely to customer feedback about how we can improve Woolworths Rewards,” the confidential “support guide” document reads.

“We’re making significant improvements to the program and with your help, we know we can win the hearts and minds of our loyal customers!”

David Flynn, editor of Australian Business Travellerwhich broke the story, said the new scheme wasn’t all good news.

“Unfortunately, under the new scheme it’ll cost almost twice as much to earn the same number of Qantas Points compared to the long-running program which Woolworths axed in December 2015,” he said.

“You’ll need to spend around $2000 to earn 870 Qantas Points, and you’ll need 16,000 points for a return economy ticket between Sydney and Melbourne. So if you want to spend almost $40,000 on groceries to get a free flight, go right ahead.”

The current Woolworths Rewards program was launched in October 2015. The general response has been lacklustre, with thousands of customers hitting the phones to complain it was too hard to earn Woolworths dollars, which amount to deductions on future shops.

One influential supplier said the cost of the present scheme did not stack up next to the cost of regular promotions, and as a result he did not participate.

Adam Posner, chief executive of strategic loyalty consultancy Directivity, said Woolworths’ initial decision to remove Qantas frequent flyer points was a “big error”.

“Also, the program was too complicated with different stickers for different specials and orange stickers for the program and products that rewards were being allocated to were far too few and so many members were spending a lot for little or no rewards,” he said.

“The power of social media also knocked them about, as once members felt they were not getting any rewards for their spend, the noise became very loud.”

His latest research found changes in program structures, such as Woolworths’ one, was the second biggest reason for defection after not earning rewards fast enough.

The research shows Coles’ flybuys program retained first place in the top 10 unprompted most mentioned programs as “doing a very good job”, at 36 per cent, increasing its lead over the Woolworths scheme, at 9 per cent.

Qantas Frequent Flyer remained in third place since the first study in 2013.

A separate survey of 2300 supermarket shoppers by research firm Canstar in June found the average spend per visit was $133.

“This was consistent across each state. Based on a spend of $133, Woolworths’ original Everyday Rewards program would have returned 103 frequent Flyer points,” said Canstar’s Justine Davies.

“Under the new system, a $133 spend would return 58 Frequent Flyer points.”

The leaked document says Woolworths intends to kickstart the new scheme with a series of “double point” offers between the launch date and December, starting with fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meat and behind-the-counter deli and seafood.

Customers will earn points in Caltex Woolworths service stations, but not at Star Mart and Star Shop, it says.

“This is on top of the 4 cents per litre fuel discount they receive when they spend $30 or more in a supermarket,” the document reads.

“There is no action or negative impact for members – all Woolworths Dollars will be automatically transferred to points on the 31st August 2016.”

A Woolworths spokeswoman wouldn’t confirm or deny the details in the leaked document.

“We won’t comment on speculation but we have said for some time that we would make improvements to the program and include a partnership with Qantas,” she said.

“We look forward to unveiling the details soon.” This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Mamak fined almost $300,000 for short-changing workers

The operators of Mamak have been fined almost $300,000 for under-paying staff. Photo: Jennifer Soo An Ombudsman investigation found six employees at the popular inner Sydney restaurant were collectively underpaid more than $87,000. Photo: Supplied
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Mamak attracts large crowds, but has not escaped the attention of the Fair Work Ombudsman. Photo: Supplied

People queuing up to enter Mamak restaurant in Haymarket. Photo: James Brickwood

The operators of Mamak Malaysian restaurant in Haymarket have been fined almost $300,000 for paying workers as little as $11 an hour.

Federal Circuit Court Judge Justin Smith found the Goulburn Street restaurant had deliberately ignored its workplace obligations “to maximise profit”.

The Fair Work Ombudsman took legal action against the popular inner Sydney restaurant which relied on informal market research to set wages.

An Ombudsman investigation found six employees, including five visa holders from non-English speaking backgrounds, were collectively underpaid more than $87,000. They were paid as little as $11 an hour between February 2012 and April 2015.

Restaurant owner-operators Joon Hoe Lee, Julian Lee and Alan Wing-Keung Au were each fined around $36,000. Their company Mamak Pty Ltd was penalised $184,960.

Judge Smith on Friday found the underpayments came from informal research based on what other restaurants were paying staff.

“They discovered that there were three approaches – the first were the star-rated restaurants which paid according to the Award, the second were medium restaurants that followed the Award half the time and the third included small restaurants that just paid illegal rates,” Judge Smith said.

“Mamak took the third approach. The fact that there are many restaurants in the industry that do not comply with their legal obligations does not exculpate the respondents in any way.”

Judge Smith said the restaurant deliberately chose to ignore salary award rates to maximise profit.

“That approach, of course, was taken at the cost of the employees, who in reality, funded the success of the business,” he said.

“Not only did the respondents know that the employees were being paid less than their legal entitlements, but they also knew that their records were not kept in accordance with the law.”

The Haymarket restaurant and Mamak Malaysian restaurants in Chatswood and the Melbourne CBD and a food preparation factory at Marrickville will be audited until the end of the year.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said researching “black market wage rates in an industry is not the way to determine how to pay your staff”.

“Minimum wage rates apply to everyone in Australia – including visa holders – and they are not negotiable,” she said.

“While I understand there are cultural challenges and vastly different laws in other parts of the world, it is incumbent on all businesses operating in Australia to understand and apply Australian laws.”

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Apprenticeships can improve mental health

Will Gulliford, Tom Gulliford and Matt Ventrella have all been taken on as apprentices with Hutchinson Builders. Photo: James Brickwood Will Gulliford, Tom Gulliford and Matt Ventrella. All three have taken on Apprenticeships with Hutchinson Builders. Photo: James Brickwood
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Andrew Gulliford is a site manager at Hutchinson. Photo: James Brickwood

 

An apprenticeship provided Hutchinson Builders site supervisor Andrew Gulliford with more than just a job.

It gave him quality training, mentoring, skills and a trade. It also gave him and other apprentices self-worth and purpose.

“The company invested a lot of time and effort into me,” he says.

Mr Gulliford now wants new apprentices, including his sons Will and Tom, to have the same quality training and life opportunities he was given.

“You are giving them a purpose in life,” Mr Gulliford said.

New University of Sydney research has found that quality apprenticeships can provide valuable social support and improve the mental health of young people making the transition from school to work.

The study showed how the workplace can play an important role in supporting mental health and wellbeing, beyond medications and therapy.

“Social structures of support are a vital third element in any mental health care and prevention regime,” it says.

Quality of training and mentoring can also boost apprenticeship completion rates which are as low as 50 per cent in Australia.

Study leader Professor John Buchanan said companies that provide quality training and mentoring have completion rates as high as 90 per cent.

The study Beyond mentoring: social support structures for young Australian carpentry apprentices looked at the best apprenticeship training schemes in the Australian carpentry trade and found work-based mentoring and social support could help prevent mental health problems, or detect them early. The study included small businesses and larger companies including Hutchinson Builders, Fairbrother Pty Ltd, Barangaroo Skills Exchange and East Coast Apprenticeships.

Professor Buchanan said many young people battle with mental health problems long before they are finally detected.

“The right support can prevent a lot of problems from happening. Or if you can’t prevent them, you have early warning systems that allow intervention before things spiral out of control,” he said.

“Among mental health experts is it widely recognised that the next big breakthrough for mental health isn’t going to come from drugs and one-on-one counselling, it is going to come from better social structures and support.”

The study quoted an experienced carpenter and now supervisor with Lend Lease at Barangaroo saying: “I came from Coffs Harbour originally … I dropped out of school there in year 10 and became a mischievous street kid … I moved to Sydney to work in a labouring job my uncle found for me … but it fell through … I’d just turned 18 and wanted to party with my mates. Sydney has so many openings with clubs, the Cross … too many distractions … without them, I’d have been lost.”

The research found that quality apprenticeships were not something that could be simply “added on” as a separate program. Quality on-the-job learning and informal and peer-based mentoring was found to be more effective.

“An effective social structure support isn’t something you bolt onto the side of something,” Professor Buchanan said. “When you look at the apprenticeship system the things that really provide the support are not the arrangements that are funded by the Commonwealth Government. It is the quality of the day-in-day-out arrangements that merge skill development and personal development.

“When people turned up on the job people took notice of them and respected them and listened to their requests for help, offered insights in how to become more competent on the job and if problems emerged, helped them solve them. They felt safe to ask for guidance.”

Professor Buchanan said apprenticeships were most effective in workplaces that provided on-and-off-the-job training and enough time for skills to be learned gradually.

Will Gulliford, 20, from Narrabeen is six months into a four-year apprenticeship with Hutchinsons and is one of seven apprentices. He hopes to become a site manager like his father and said he socialises with some of the other apprentices. He said older workers are always willing to help him learn the trade.

“They know you are a new person on the job. They always help you out,” he said.

Fourth-year apprentice Matt Ventrella, 19, from Picnic Point said he was given a variety of roles and hopes to become a site or contract manager.

“We are all very close in Hutchies. If I want to do something, I’m not shy to ask. They are very helpful and willing to give you a go.

“I think doing an apprenticeship is very good for your confidence.”

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Shares Race Week One: Profit results heat up competition

The AFR’s Phil Baker and Money’s Caitlin Fitzsimmons have created a commanding lead. Photo: SuppliedProfit reporting season is a nail-biting time for companies and investors, as our Shares Race players experienced this week.
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Ansell has been one of the stars of reporting season so far. Its shares have risen 12 per cent during the race week – where the All Ordinaries slipped 0.5 per cent – after investors welcomed the potential sale of its condom business to focus on its industrial clothing and protective gloves operations. The stocks sits in the portfolio of second-placed Money editor Caitlin Fitzsimmons.

Ten Network is also a strong performer off the blocks for Fitzsimmons, a happy accident as she originally picked Technology One but the code TNE was incorrectly input as TEN. Technology One has lost ground.

But it’s Ausdrill that edged out Ansell at the top of the leaderboard, rocketing after the mining services company secured a $157 million contract extension at a mine in Ghana. It has helped lift the Australian Financial Review’s columnist Phil Baker into first spot. Baker has also picked some companies that have impressed in reporting season so far, including Magellan Financial, Orora​ Group and Mirvac Group.

The Shares Race this month features four Money readers, all of whom are trying their hands on some relatively unknown small cap and speculative stocks. The small cap space is traditionally more volatile, so there may be a few shakeups in the leaderboard this month.

A bet on investor relations firm Redchip is a standout among the smaller names and reader Mendy Amzalak’s pick, but some others have disappointed, including Kingston Resources and South Pacific Resources, which have dragged him into last place. South Pacific is the worst performing stock so far, falling around 15 per cent during the Friday to Thursday race week.

Three Money readers will be looking to recoup their losses from the first week, with David Atkinson and Susan V. Miles joining Amzalak in shrinking their initial $100,000 investment after week one.

Company profit season is set to heat up in week two. No doubt the contestants will be eager for their companies yet to report to prove their faith in them right, though with most of Baker’s and Fitzsimmons’ companies already reported, they look hard to beat.

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How to be your own real estate agent: selling your property yourself can save thousands of dollars

Selling your property yourself can save you a bundle. Photo: Frances Mocnik Laboratory manager Marina Tretiach sold her house recently through an online marketplace, bypassing the services of a real estate agent. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
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It’s never been easier to be your own real estate agent.

There are at least a dozen websites that let you sell your property yourself, with fees a tiny fraction of the commissions charged by real estate agents.

Marina Tretiach recently sold her house in Sydney’s Lane Cove through ForSaleByOwner南京夜网419论坛, saving tens of thousands of dollars in agent’s fees.

The laboratory manager was looking to buy another house outside Sydney for more than a year and had attended many auctions.

“I thought to myself that I can do all the things that agents do,” Marina says. “I am really familiar with the area and I know the house and I was sure that I could do as good a job as they could do.”

Marina found the process easy, the website providing a video tutorial on what to do.

The websites appear to be broadly similar in their approach. They have a basic marketing package where online ads are placed on leading real estate websites as well on the sites themselves.

The vendor can add further services and products, such as a “for sale” sign for the front of the property and brochures.

Although all properties are listed with prices, the vendor can opt to go to auction where the website can supply an auctioneer for the day.

The vendor decides whether to have open houses or whether to have private viewings, the vendor handing all the inquiries themselves.

Marina sold her house for the asking price within three weeks of listing.

Her open houses were well attended but one day she received a call from someone who had seen the for-sale sign and wanted to see the house privately. He was the eventual buyer. Save commissions

Paul Heath, the chief executive of BuyMyPlace南京夜网419论坛, says by selling their properties themselves vendors can save a fortune in commissions and marketing costs.

Applying a typical commission of 2.25 per cent to the median Sydney house price equates to a saving of $24,000.

Also, there are some savings on the typical marketing expenses of about 1 per cent, he says.

Heath says private vendors most often still get appraisals from their local real estate agents and go to a lot of auctions and look at what similar properties are fetching.

The websites can provide local sales records.

Colin Sacks, chief executive of ForSaleByOwner, says private vendors need proper support.

“It’s one thing not to use an agent but another not to use an agent and to do it well,” he says. “An agent does bring certain skills to the table and so the question is whether we are able to bring those skills together in an online environment. We provide vendors with a ‘dashboard’ where they will see all the inquiries and whether people are looking at their ads in Domain南京夜网419论坛 and Realestate南京夜网419论坛 and other sites.”

Sacks says most people using his site are paying about $1000, which includes a for-sale board for the front of the property. Agents fight back

Real estate agents are sceptical of claims made by websites that private vendors are routinely achieving higher prices than if they had used an agent.

Michael Harris, the director of Raine & Horne in Sydney’s Newton, has been selling property for 17 years.

“What I am today is not what I was when I started in real estate, which is what your average mum and dad is going to be like,” Harris says. “People do not realise the amount of work that you have to do to sell a house.”

Real estate agent Trudy Biggin, of Biggin & Scott in Melbourne’s Brighton, says a good agent can advise on how the property should be presented to create that “wow” factor.

She says one of the main skills of a good agent is in negotiating with a potential buyer so as to achieve the best price for the vendor.

“If you know that someone really likes the house, the skill is to keep them focused on that house and to pay a premium price,” she says.

Sam Lally, a buyer’s agent at Buyer’s Advocate Australia in Melbourne’s Hawthorn, agrees.

Lally sold real estate before switching to helping buyers and he says you need to know how to talk to potential buyers, what information to get from them and how to qualify them.

In his role as a buyer’s agent, Lally “loves” dealing with vendors directly.

“Some people think their skills in their professional areas of expertise are transferable to property negotiations,” he says.

“Private vendors are often no match for experienced property negotiators, such as buyer’s advocates or agents.

“Vendors who use good agents have a better chance of getting a better price for their property.”

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Brenton Avdulla getting the job done for Sydney’s biggest stables

Consistent performer: Brenton Avdulla rides Pearls to win the Toy Show Quality at Randwick. Photo: Bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛Brenton Avdulla has positioned himself to be the lightweight jockey for Godolphin and Chris Waller  and it delivered a black-type double at Randwick on Saturday. After his explosive win on Omei Sword in the Silver Shadow Stakes, Avdulla lifted Pearls to victory in the Toy Show Quality holding off a late challenge from favourite Dixie Blossoms.
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“I have worked hard to make myself an option for  both stables when they get one down in the weights and that’s what happened today because James [McDonald] and Hughie [Bowman] could not get down to those weights,” Avdulla said.  “It is a good place to be and if I keep getting the job done it will keep me in the good books.”

The win on Pearls  was another strong ride from Avdulla, who knew Tim Clark on Dixie Blossoms was right on his hammer.

“She jumped, she travelled. I actually had a peek over my shoulder at the half mile to see where Tim  was because I thought he was my main danger and he was right there stalking on my back,” Avdulla said.

“I had to be smart with my movements, when I pulled the trigger, I had to time it, and when I got up the rise I thought we’ll see how good Timmy is and if he can run me down, but my filly was too good.”

Storming home: Kerrin McEvoy rides Tycoon Tara to win race 6 at Randwick. Photo: Bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛Tara proves doubters wrong 

Tycoon Tara got under punters’ guard again as she proved too strong in the Show County Quality at Randwick on Saturday. The Written Tycoon mare had won the Missile Stakes at her first start for Peter and Paul Snowden and has continued to improve. “I don’t think people gave her the credit for  that win on a heavy track. We knew she had improved and had a fitness edge on them,” Paul Snowden said. “She is the sort of the horse who is going to get better again and I think  we can  place her to advantage. She is one to follow.” Tycoon Tara ran away from her rivals and won by 1-1/4 lengths from favourite La Romain with Mount Nebo another length back third. “She’s obviously a smart mare and she’s really enjoying her new lodgings up here with Peter and Paul,” jockey Kerrin McEvoy said. “She’s thriving and today she has shown that by going out and winning again after that first-up win in heavy ground. You always just wonder what it takes out of them but Peter and Paul were happy with her.”  Super Tycoon wins fourth on the trot

Gosford trainer Greg McFarlane will give Super Tycoon a shot at next month’s  Cameron Handicap after he made it four on end at Randwick on Saturday.”My heart was pounding before the start of the race like it never has before,” he said. “It’s hard to win one in town let alone four in a row.” Mum’s the word for Calliope 

Godolphin will consider the future of Calliope after she was once again scratched at the barriers before the Silver Shadow Stakes. The filly has twice been banned because of her barrier manners on raceday and twice failed to get passed at the trials from those bans because of poor behaviour. “We will get her home and have a discussion but she is likely to become a mum,” Godolphin trainer John O’Shea said. If she was to race on stewards indicated Calliope would have to trial on a number of occasion before being allowed back to the races. Legend guns down favourite

Will to win: Southern Legend runs down Haptic to win the last at Randwick. Photo: Bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛

Southern Legend lived up to a series of good barrier trials as he gunned down favourite Haptic to take the final race  at Randwick on Saturday. Tim Clark came with a well-timed charge and will wait to find out where trainer Les Bridge takes the four-year-old next.  “He’s a good animal. I felt the only thing that would get him beat today was fitness and he’d had enough close to the line but he’s got a great will to win,” Clark said. “They ran quick and when they’re running such quick time up front it’s hard to make ground, his sectionals would be pretty fast. A really good effort, he’s a good horse.”

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Hugh Bowman continues association with the family after Winx’s successful return

Run to the Rose: El Divino. Photo: bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛Fresh from a first-up win on Winx, Hugh Bowman will join the next generation of the family when he rides El Divino in Saturday’s Run To The Rose at Rosehill as a lead-in to next month’s Golden Rose.
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Winx did what was expected in the Warwick Stakes. She is now fully mature and ready for a big preparation aimed at the Cox Plate. Bowman said the Street Cry mare’s 10th consecutive win was impressive and left him feeling it was the fastest she had been with him in the saddle.

“She’s stronger and more powerful,” he said. “She was so relaxed going to the barriers and it is just good to be part of it.”

Black Caviar used to drag good horses along with her and Winx did the same thing to take group 1 gallopers out of their comfort zone, while still on the bridle before a little squeeze from Bowman took her advantage to 3¼ lengths on the line.

Like Black Caviar with All Too Hard, Winx has a younger sibling emerging behind her, which could become a stallion if things go right in the next couple of weeks.

El Divino, a son of Snitzel, is unbeaten in two starts and well in the market for the Golden Rose, which is the group 1 Widden Stud was looking for when they took a share in the colt.

Bowman has been booked for Saturday and the Golden Rose for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained El Divino and a raceday gallop at Randwick on Saturday gave him confidence about what is to come in the spring.

Bowman has ridden the colt in both his barrier trials this time in. El Divino cleared out with Capitalist in the first barrier trial but the second one, a third to Southern Legend, didn’t tell Bowman much about him. Saturday’s test was the one in which the champion jockey got what he wanted from the colt.

“I have only been on him the three times and that last trial was inconclusive because he couldn’t get happy on the track,” Bowman said. “The first trial was good but he gave me the feel I wanted in that gallop [on Saturday].

“He is very powerful and between the 600 and 300. As he got into the work he felt very strong. We will find out more about him on Saturday but he is nice ride.”

The Run To The Rose will give the strongest form reference for the Golden Rose as Godolphin use it as the starting point of the spring for Astern, Telperion, Impending and Tessera.

Impending has been at the top of betting for the Rose after impressing at recent barrier trials and Brenton Avdulla will ride, with Godolphin’s retained jockey James McDonald taking the mount on Astern.

Jason Collet gets the sit on Telperion, which was fourth in the Golden Slipper and runner-up in the Sires Produce Stakes, while Kathy O’Hara will ride Tessera.

“With due respect to the horses we have already seen, I think this is the race which will tell you the most about the Rose,” Godolphin trainer John O’Shea said. “There are a lot of good ones coming out to play.”

San Domenico Stakes winner Star Turn and Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Mediterranean, an eye-catching Rosebud runner-up, will be among the entries for Saturday’s group 2 over 1200m, with Tommy Berry and Blake Shinn respectively to ride them.

Divine Prophet and Omei Sword share top billing in Golden Rose betting at $7 with Ladbrokes after their commanding victories in the Up And Coming Stakes and Silver Shadow Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.

 Golden Rose market

$7 Divine Prophet, Omei Sword

$8 Impending

$9 Star Turn, Yankee Rose

$11 El Divino, Mediterranean

$13 Derryn, Telperion

$15 Good Standing.

Others $17 and better

Market courtesy Ladbrokes

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Winx gets the crowd rolling in late for her show

Crowd favourite: Jockey Hugh Bowman on Winx at Randwick on Saturday. Photo: bradleyphotos南京夜网419论坛Winx is box office gold and if she keeps putting a show like she did in Saturday’s Warwick Stakes, punters should turn out in record numbers at Randwick in the next month.
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The Australian Turf Club took a crowd figure at 3pm on Saturday but by 3.40pm when Winx jumped into action it went up by more than 700 as people arrived late to see the star attraction.

“The crowd was up more than 25 per cent but we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of people that came in late,” ATC media manager Brett Devine said. “We put a lot of work into the day and I think a horse like her attracts people to track to see her in person.”

The theatre of the horse was full as Winx and the Warwick Stakes field paraded, with many capturing pictures of the now imposing mare.

Winx didn’t disappoint on the track, winning as expected, but it was the manner of her performance – sitting outside the leader Rebel Dane and dominating that was awesome. The margin was big and could have been bigger.

Chris Waller wants Winx to stay in Sydney until October, so there will be a couple more opportunities to see her. She will be back at Randwick for the Chelmsford Stakes on September 3 and for the George Main Stakes on September 17.

Winx’s mum Vegas Showgirl completed a big day for the family when she gave birth to a Snitzel filly, a sister to El Divino, on Saturday night.

McDonald enjoys captain’s run

Champion jockey James McDonald might live in Australia but he is still an All Black. Like most Kiwis, McDonald longed to wear the black jumper but when you’re just over 50kg that isn’t going to happen. He got the next best thing leading into the Bledisloe Cup match on Saturday night being invited to the All Blacks captain’s run. “It was something that was good to be a part of,” McDonald said. He, along with Jason Collett and Chris Waller, were all at ANZ Stadium for the mauling of the Wallabies.

Strong lead into spring

There were plenty of blackbookers to come from Randwick on Saturday but the final race where Southern Legend overpowered Haptic late could be the strongest lead into the spring.

Haptic was the only one of the leaders to hold on in the fiercely run 1000m, but Southern Legend would not be denied. He ran a faster last 600m than Winx, which clocked a remarkable 32.68, as he charged to victory.

Master trainer Les Bridge will have fun plotting a path with the four-year-old, which is only going to get better over more ground.

Haptic will be better at 1200m and can be followed for profit. Three-year-olds Divine Prophet and Omei Sword were there for all to see with powerful returns.

Fewer options for stayers

Trainers have been left struggling to find options to prepare their staying three-year-olds for the Spring Champion Stakes on October 8 after the Newcastle Spring Stakes dropped to 1300m. Horses need racing to excel over longer trips and the problem for trainers comes before the 1800m Gloaming Stakes on September 24. The Spring Stakes can’t be run at 1600m because of the Beaumont track restrictions in trip, which leaves  the only  stepping stone beyond 1400m restricted to three-year-olds in September, a benchmark 67 over 1550m at Canterbury in the metropolitan area.  Expect the better staying three-year-old prospects to be taking on older horses in coming weeks. It is problem that needs to be fixed.

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How a Brisbane schoolgirl became a drug addict, then made her way back

Slowly, step by step, brick by brick Maree is getting her daughter Jenna back after a decade of drug dependence. Photo: SuppliedShe first used drugs to dull the pain from a ruptured disc in her back. The doctors prescribed oxycodone, a highly addictive painkiller that she would come to know it by its multiple street names, hillbilly heroin, Oxy or simply O.
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She was 15 and attending one of Brisbane’s prestigious all-girls schools. Oxycodone is similar to heroin and for Jenna Roberts, the sweetness of the ocycodone’s melodies not only lifted her, took away the pain but also made her feel whole, kept the loneliness at bay. They were sweet songs. Like those of the mythical Sirens, the muses of the lower world, whose songs lured those passing to their death.

In the next decade the songs were the same: I can make you feel alright; I can make you feel complete; I can make you feel nothing and everything. But the song did more than that. It almost took her family; destroyed her relationships; took her friends, her lovers; left her broke; took her smile and almost her life.

Her mate O not only made chronic pain bearable, but in a place where designer names defined you, opened the door to the joys of the party-drug world. A bit of weed on top of the pain killers; a bit of low-level dealing (“the day girls had the money and I had the contacts. I just skimmed a bit off the top. They had no idea”); it filled the loneliness void.

“When the girls were putting on their graduation dresses I couldn’t wait to bolt to the front gate and meet my dealer,” Jenna says.  And then it was drug city party time. Even at university, studying law, there was time to feed a growing habit. Drugs to get you going in the morning, keep you going all day and drugs to paaarrrtty.  Another back operation, a steady supply of prescriptions for her good mate, oxycodone. As well, there was a social cocktail of marijuana, booze, ecstasy, speed. By then she had developed an addict’s skill at deception – lifted from the doctor shopping handbook. But doctor shopping is time-intensive; you needed a different doctor; in a different suburb and someone’s Medicare card. Far easier to move to another drug.

Her mother, Maree, a professional senior bureaucrat, now says she had her suspicions for some time that there was more than pain and prescription meds to Jenna’s behaviour but, “I guess looking back I didn’t want to believe it. No one wants to believe it of their child.” There were plausible reasons for her increasingly erratic behaviour.

For the daughter, the journey through addiction to the end – recognising that she had become a full-blown, heroin injecting, ice addict took almost a decade. The needle and prostitution were the lines in the sand, places for junkies.  But not her. Junkies inhabit a world of back alleys, of dirty houses, scabs, of bent spoons and dirty needles. Junkies use heroin and inject. A junkie has arrived at their destination when their faithfulness to the drug is stronger, more powerful than anything, any family, any bond. A junkie has no guilt, no shame, no morality.

In her world, in her mind, Jenna wasn’t a junkie – just someone who could stop when she wanted. But she couldn’t and she didn’t. She had crashed out of university and spent a couple of years living in Brisbane, not doing much aside from maturing her drug habit. Eventually, having alienated or pushed away friends, she moved in with her parents, now living in the comfortable central coast suburb of Terrigal in New South Wales.

“By that stage my addiction was a disaster. I went from maybe having a day or two being not being able to use a substance to doing things to myself and to other people that I can’t ever take back. I was very violent,” she said.

For Maree it was to become repeating behaviour. “For years we had always welcomed Jenna back home, no matter what she had done (or not done). We paid the price for her actions, tears after blow-ups, paying her fines, feeding her, clothing her and protecting her from the consequences of her actions wasn’t changing her behaviour. She was coming home less and less frequently and then only using our home as a place to regather her strength, resources and commitment to dive back into the underworld of drugs.

“It seemed inevitable that she would come to grief sooner rather than later and all my attempts to stop that happening had failed. Begging and pleading, crying and promising, doctors, counsellors, friends. She would go missing for days at a time. If David (my husband) didn’t know where Jenna was, he trawled the streets until he found some evidence that she was alive and brought her home and put her back together, When Jenna stole from us, abused us or trashed our house he would tell her we loved her and one day things would be good again,” Maree says.

It finally came to a head. Maree was taking anti-depressants just to get through the day. “Jenna could reduce me to tears with one of her outrages and leave me feeling worthless. David and I were in counselling. Jenna’s addiction and her behaviour at home was driving us apart. At yet another counselling session I made it clear that I couldn’t go on like this. I felt as though I couldn’t make anyone happy – not even myself. I admitted my failure as a parent and as a wife. I felt I had been a better mother to my stepchildren than I had been to my biological child and blamed my genetics for bearing a child with these problems. I was in abject misery about walking away from both my daughter and my husband but I just couldn’t conceive any other option,” she says.

So together Maree and David decided to cut the safety net. “We had decided that the only option was to ban her from the house. It was a hugely painful decision. The fears and dark horrors swirled around us. The ‘what ifs’ seemed to have devils horns. She stormed off and we went into that place where a phone call from a private number was terrifying. A police car in the street made me feel violently ill,” she says.

A bit earlier she had been confronted by her brother on the suburban lawn at Christmas. “We know what you are – you are a junkie.” It wasn’t judgmental, just matter of fact and a signal that she wasn’t fooling anyone any more. She had crossed the lines – moving on from stealing from her parents and siblings, to injecting and prostitution. Being thrown out of home sent her onto the streets, sleeping rough, back to an abusive, toxic relationship, swapping sex for somewhere to sleep, for drugs.

Some can describe the time of their first injection, the veins bulging, inserting the needle, blood rushing before slowly  pushing in the plunger and the overwhelming hit. Not Jenna. “I don’t remember the timing of when I first injected. It happened with an acquaintance. I remember I was quite desperate at the time so it just kind of happened. It wasn’t some huge event or anything. I just needed my fix and that is how I got it,” she says.

But severe addiction and life on the streets took its toll. Her weight crashed to about 40 kilos. “I tried to overdose myself and when I woke up I was devastated that I couldn’t even kill myself. I felt worthless. I remember hating the daylight. I never wanted to go out in it. I loved the night. You could hide in the night. There were less people around and I felt much safer. There was a 24-hour Kmart near where I was living, it was the only shop I would go to. For a long time in the end, all I ate was tinned corn. It was the only thing I could stomach. I lived on canned corn and Coca-Cola,” she says.

Eventually she contacted her parents. “I begged them to come home for a meal and once I got in that door I said to my parents, ‘You can’t kick me out,’ and they said, ‘Yeah, we can, we’ll just call the police.’ At that stage I said, ‘I’ll do whatever, I’ll do whatever,’ and mum said, ‘You need to go to rehab,’ and I said ‘OK.’ So mum started dialling numbers and putting the phone up to my ear because she said, ‘I don’t want you to ever turn around and say I made you do this.’

“By the time I got to detox I couldn’t read a line in a book. If friends hadn’t fallen away, I had done my best to push them. I didn’t want anyone around who might call me on my behaviour and I didn’t want to bring anyone down with me either.

It took 45 days in a 30-day program.

“Rehab was everything that you see in the movies, the sweating, wetting the bed, that all happened for me. There were days when I thought death would have been a kind option for me. Then my brother, the one who had called me out, visited with his newborn son. ‘Look what you are missing out on.’ It was a trigger, a motivator to deal with the demons. I call my little nephew my recovery baby,” she says.

She stuck rehab out. After that there were constant Narcotics Anonymous meetings and a growing understanding of residual mental health issues that come from frying your brain for a decade. Then there were four or five “refresher sessions” – some pre-emptive moves before she reached crisis point, spun out of control again. There is a constant battle with depression and feelings of immense guilt. “I still have a couple of friends left from pre-drugs but not many at all. I damaged most things I came into contact with, especially people,” she says.

Now she is five years clean and working in the mental health, drug and alcohol field. It’s exhausting, fighting to get better every day, dealing with mental health issues every day. It can be hard resisting the call of the Sirens. Family helps. They gathered around Jenna and helped her on her way back. And it’s been one step at a time; better health, a job, friends and a new relationship. Now she is working to make up for the lost decade.

It’s been a tough decade with more disappointments than achievements but slowly, step by step, brick by brick Maree is getting her daughter back. There is the fear that something will happen, that it will all get too much and Jenna will slide back to using again.

“Its hard to reconcile the girl I know now with the lost soul before. Nothing will ever be the same. But I am grateful we have the chance to repair this relationship,” she says.

If you or somebody you know is distressed phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Doctors warn over diagnosis apps amid Ada launch

Doctors are worried about diagnosis apps. Photo: Benjamin TorodeIt is marketed as being “smarter than human doctors” and the “world’s most accurate health diagnosis service”.
Nanjing Night Net

It is a medical app on your smartphone that invites you to put in a list of symptoms to find the most likely explanation. According to the company that created Ada, the app includes 10,000 symptoms and diseases and was developed by 100 doctors, making it more knowledgeable than any human brain.

But for all its promises, leading Australian GPs are urging consumers to be wary of it and other apps that make similar claims. Both the Australian Medical Association and Royal Australian College of GPs said they were concerned about the accuracy of the Ada system, and its potential to either falsely reassure people about their health or alarm them unnecessarily.

Despite a booming market for health apps, including ones that aim to diagnose, research suggests they may not be as reliable as they appear.

Nathan Pinskier, chairman of the College of GPs’ e-health and technology committee, said while many doctors were starting to use apps to support their clinical decision making and were directing patients towards some for their own health needs, research on such apps showed they were not always accurate and could be dangerous.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done in this space,” the GP said. “It’s fair to say that clinicians can’t remember everything and you do need access to support tools. The question is, how standardised are those support tools and if you enter the same information into different products will you end up with similar outcomes and guidance? The evidence says no at the moment.”

Last year, three studies published in BMC Medicine found that health apps designed to help people calculate insulin dosages, educate them about asthma and perform other important functions were methodologically weak. The researchers also found that many apps lacked reliable privacy and security settings, with one sharing personally identifying data about users that should have been kept anonymous.

President of the College of GPs Frank Jones said that while he did not mind people Googling their symptoms before seeing a GP, he was concerned about the accuracy of an app that suggested it could diagnose people. He said users risked misinterpreting their symptoms without a physical examination while using the app.

Ada looks set to connect users with doctors for a consultation after their symptoms have been run through its system, but a recent study highlighted another risk with this: seeing a GP who does not know the patient and their medical history.

The study of more than 1700 Dutch people aged over 60 found that those who had multiple GPs over 17 years were more likely to die during the study period than those who had one GP. Dr Jones said the research published in the British Journal of General Practice highlighted the potential benefits of continuity of care.

While Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration says any medical device that makes a diagnosis should be listed on its register of therapeutic goods, a search of that database does not show Ada on it.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Ada said she could not answer questions about this because the company’s chief executive was based overseas and was unavailable.

However, the terms and conditions on the app say it is not providing medical advice or diagnosing health conditions, and that it is up to users to decide whether they contact a health professional to seek medical advice after using it. The app says it will not share or sell a user’s data and cannot guarantee it will be error free.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.