Featured
Freed lawyer shocked by focus on her ordeal

Freed lawyer shocked by focus on her ordeal

Happy … Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor, left, arrives at the airport in Rome. Detained in Libya… Melinda Taylor with husband, Geoffrey Roberts, and daughter, Yasmina.
Nanjing Night Net

The parents of previously detained lawyer Melinda Taylor, John and Janelle Taylor, are chilling a bottle of champagne to celebrate when they see her daughter’s face via Skype later today.

Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor leaves jail.

UPDATED

Human rights lawyer Melinda Taylor has been “shocked” by the media attention surrounding her almost month-long detention in Libya, telling her parents she had no idea it was getting any coverage.

Ms Taylor has arrived at her home in the Hague to her husband Geoff Roberts and two-year-old daughter Yasmina after being released. Despite a Skype session with her Brisbane-based parents Janelle and John Taylor, she is yet to go into detail about her ordeal.

Ms Taylor, has been held with three International Criminal Court colleagues since she travelled to Zintan, southwest of Tripoli, on June 7 to help prepare the legal defence of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam.

On Skype today, her mother and father talked to Ms Taylor and Mr Roberts about midday.

Both couples popped a bottle of champagne, though Ms Taylor did not talk about her experience of the past three and half weeks.

‘‘She didn’t [tell me about her experience in jail] she was too excited to be back home with her husband and her daughter,’’ Mrs Taylor said.

Mrs Taylor said her daughter did not think anyone would be interested in her ordeal and had no idea of the extent of the media coverage when she was being held.

‘‘She’s well she’s just looking forward to getting back to her normal life,’’ she said.

‘‘She didn’t know the media attention was happening, she had no idea, she had no idea there had been any media attention whatsoever.

‘‘She was hit with the media in Zintan where she was a little bit shocked that anyone was interested.’’

An “ecstatic” Mrs Taylor heard her daughter say “I love you” in the early hours of this morning when she was first freed.

The lawyer was able to reassure her Brisbane-based mother that she was fine in what Mrs Taylor described as an “emotional” phone call.

Mrs Taylor said she spoke to her daughter after the Libyans handed her over to Australian ambassador David Ritchie.

“She didn’t tell me anything about her experience in the jail because she was in the convoy and the phone call was monitored so the only thing she said was she loved us and looked forward to speaking to us and she’s excited to go home,” Mrs Taylor said.

Mrs Taylor has been in constant contact with her daughter’s husband Geoff Roberts over the past few weeks and arranged to talk to her daughter on Skype so Mrs Taylor and her husband could have a proper celebration.

“We’ve got a bottle of champagne here that our other daughters brought over two weeks ago and the whole time Melinda has been in there we said ‘we have to do something to support Melinda so we went off alcohol’,” she said.

“So the bottle of champagne is now in the fridge and [Melinda’s husband] Geoff said he’d Skype us when she gets home at about midday today and that’s when we’ll drink the champagne.”

“…It will be great, I’ll be very happy to see her face.”

Foreign Minister Bob Carr rang Mrs Taylor in the early hours of this morning to tell her that her daughter had been handed over by Libyan officials ending a “harrowing” few weeks for the parents.

“We are now ecstatic that she’s actually been handed over by them because we were excited when we told she was going to be released but we were ecstatic when we got the email last night to say and a phone call from Bob Carr to say the Libyans had handed her over to the ambassadors,” Mrs Taylor said.

She said Melinda did not have plans to come to Australia until December and her parents had decided it was best to wait until then to see her.

“Melinda said ‘look Mum and Dad I would love you to come over’ and we would be on the next plane but we feel maybe Melinda’s life need to go back to being normal so she can get on with her life,” she said.

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

Featured
Five things we learnt from Super Rugby

Five things we learnt from Super Rugby

The Reds have two winnable home games to finish the season.1. Beware the Reds. The Brumbies will not be the only ones keeping a close eye on Queensland over the next two weeks. They have two winnable games at home and, more importantly, that priceless ability to switch between styles. Dom Shipperley scored a beautiful, long-range try from turnover ball against the Rebels but their work in tight, with the pick-and-drive, has repeatedly been exceptional. They can hurt any side in this competition, home or away. We have been critical of the wilder aspects of Saia Faingaa’s play in the past but he was great on Friday night – as was Adam Wallace-Harrison – while the durability of Will Genia continues to astound. But is the brilliant No.9 ever going to get a break?
Nanjing Night Net

2. Too many Test players can be bad for your health. A month ago the Crusaders were the form team in the competition. Three Tests and three big injuries later – Kieran Read, Dan Carter and Israel Dagg – the All Blacks-laden Cantabrians simply couldn’t match the spark generated by the admirable Hurricanes on Saturday. Kiwis might want to look away at this point – there is an entirely plausible set of results over the next two weeks that would leave the Crusaders outside the top six – and with just one New Zealand side in the finals.

3. The weaker teams provided a softer landing. While most interest focused on teams with a healthy number of Test players backing up, another story emerged. The games involving the Force, Rebels and Cheetahs – who have few internationals and essentially nothing left to play for – were effectively over by half-time. Rust or lack of appetite? Perhaps a touch of both. There was one telling moment in the Rebels game when James O’Connor made a handy break but found himself isolated at the breakdown. The usual suspects – Gareth Delve and Stirling Mortlock – were among the first to arrive to clean out, but the tight five was conspicuous by its absence. The Rebels have now conceded 457 points in 2012 – 10 per cent higher than the next leakiest side.

4. Berrick Barnes might have some voodoo dolls. For there to have been a stampede for his Wallabies No.10 jersey at the weekend, you first would have had to find someone who could walk. James O’Connor did a hamstring, Kurtley Beale looks like he is playing with shrapnel wedged into his ribs and Quade Cooper’s removal at half-time prompted that dreadful word that no supporter wants to hear: “Precautionary”. In that 40 minutes, however, the Reds No.10 looked a lot better than in his previous game and a half. O’Connor’s injury has opened the door for him, too.

5. Aaron Cruden is nipping at Dan Carter’s heels. Carter will start at five-eighth for New Zealand in The Rugby Championship, unless struck by lightning. But for the first time in a long time there is a player who can change the conversation around the All Blacks No.10 jersey. Cruden is shaping as an alternative, not just the preferred boot-cleaner. He played injured against the Highlanders and still got the job done – he’s a tough, increasingly mature navigator who brings a subtle box of tricks when attacking the gainline.

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

Featured
The ghost ships that creep across the blue

The ghost ships that creep across the blue

Apparitions at dawn, but the asylum seeker arrivals at Christmas Island are real enough.DAWN on this rocky outcrop in the Indian Ocean brought the sight of two near-identical wooden fishing boats, each painted an almost cheery blue, riding a gentle swell hardly 200 metres offshore, right below the Christmas Island township.
Nanjing Night Net

You needed to blink, for only the evening before, there had been only one of these boats, and its cargo of 53 Tamils from Sri Lanka had been unloaded and driven away to detention.

The sun had not yet risen over the island’s steaming jungle and it was difficult to discern if there was life aboard the second craft. I raised a hand and called a ”hullo” and suddenly a forest of arms appeared above deck.

Some time on Sunday night, as Christmas Island slept off its weekend, another 39 Tamils from Sri Lanka – 37 men and two boys – had slipped in from the Indian Ocean. Appearing as if from nowhere, theirs could have been a ghost ship. Plenty of people on this remote island, as it happens, believe in ghosts.

Next month, on August 17, the ethnic Chinese population, descendants of coolies shipped in and worked like slaves, will celebrate the annual Festival of the Hungry Ghost. Food offerings will be made to keep the spirits of ancestors content and disinclined to enter homes, prayers will be offered for those who suffered and died mining phosphate in the hot sun, and the population will stay indoors at night, fearful that at this moment, the gates of hell are open for those who venture out.

Only this week a sober member of the 72-strong contingent of Australian Federal Police on the island swore to colleagues he had seen the apparition of a ”lady in white” floating among the Islamic and Chinese graves bordering a main road out of the island’s township. The other police were amused, but many of the island’s permanent population claim to have had the same experience.

The Tamils, of course, were not ghosts, and neither was their little boat – though for all the interest shown by the locals, inured to the sudden and regular appearance of asylum seeker vessels from far away, they may as well have been. And soon, the 39 men and boys were barged ashore and removed by bus to the big detention centre far out of sight in a remote valley on the island.

At another time in history, their voyage might have been the stuff of adventure stories. They had endured 21 days at sea, travelling – assuming their helmsman had managed a straight course – about 3400 kilometres beyond sight of land, finding their way to a speck of an island 1500 kilometres west of the nearest mainland Australian coast. Food and water must have been in short supply for these hungry ghosts on such a small and crowded boat, but those of us on the island denied access to the detention centre and the asylum seekers themselves cannot know the depivations they may have suffered.

They were mere apparitions in the dawn, waving, insignificant among the 72 boats that have made it to Christmas Island this year and the 5242 passengers they have carried, including the 18 bodies retrieved from two sinkings in the past 10 days that are believed to have claimed about 100 lives.

Meanwhile, as Australia’s federal parliamentarians take their six-week winter break, having reached no agreement about how to dissuade such perilous voyages, there’s not a person on Christmas Island who does not expect each dawn to reveal more ghostly craft below their township.

The navy will tow the wooden boats out to sea and burn them, and steel craft will be sunk, leaving no sign of their coming.There are now 1475 asylum seekers out of sight in detention on the island.

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

Freed lawyer speaks to family from Libya

Freed lawyer speaks to family from Libya

An “ecstatic” Janelle Taylor heard her daughter, human rights lawyer Melinda Taylor, say “I love you” this morning as she was freed after spending more than three weeks jailed in Libya.
Nanjing Night Net

Although unable to speak about her experience, the lawyer was able to reassure her Brisbane-based mother that she was fine in what Mrs Taylor described as an “emotional” phone call.

Mrs Taylor said she spoke to her daughter in the early hours of this morning after the Libyans handed her over to Australian ambassador David Ritchie.

And Mrs Taylor was chilling a bottle of champagne to celebrate when she sees her daughter’s face on Skype later today.

Ms Taylor, has been held with three International Criminal Court colleagues since she travelled to Zintan, southwest of Tripoli, on June 7 to help prepare the legal defence of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam.

“She didn’t tell me anything about her experience in the jail because she was in the convoy and the phone call was monitored so the only thing she said was she loved us and looked forward to speaking to us and she’s excited to go home,” Mrs Taylor said.

Mrs Taylor has been in constant contact with her daughter’s husband Geoff Roberts over the past few weeks and has arranged to talk to her daughter on Skype about midday when Mrs Taylor and her husband John will have a proper celebration.

“We’ve got a bottle of champagne here that our other daughters brought over two weeks ago and the whole time Melinda has been in there we said ‘we have to do something to support Melinda so we went off alcohol’,” she said.

“So the bottle of champagne is now in the fridge and [Melinda’s husband] Geoff said he’d Skype us when she gets home at about midday today and that’s when we’ll drink the champagne.”

“…It will be great, I’ll be very happy to see her face.”

Ms Taylor has a two-year-old daughter, Yasmina, who she will be reunited within the next few hours in Hague along with her husband.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr rang Mrs Taylor in the early hours of this morning to tell her that her daughter had been handed over by Libyan officials ending a “harrowing” few weeks for the parents.

“We are now ecstatic that she’s actually been handed over by them because we were excited when we told she was going to be released but we were ecstatic when we got the email last night to say and a phone call from Bob Carr to say the Libyans had handed her over to the ambassadors,” Mrs Taylor said.

She said Melinda did not have plans to come to Australia until December and her parents had decided it was best to wait until then to see her.

“Melinda said ‘look Mum and Dad I would love you to come over’ and we would be on the next plane but we feel maybe Melinda’s life need to go back to being normal so she can get on with her life,” she said.

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

Freed lawyer speaks to ‘delighted’ husband

Freed lawyer speaks to ‘delighted’ husband

Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor, left, arrives at the airport in Rome. Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor leaves jail.
Nanjing Night Net

On a plane home … Melinda Taylor with husband, Geoffrey Roberts, and daughter, Yasmina.

Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor is on a plane on her way home to the Netherlands, after she was released from jail in Libya overnight.

She is due to arrive in Rotterdam later today, having flown out of Tripoli on an Italian military aircraft. She will be met in the Netherlands by her husband Geoff Roberts and her two-year-old daughter, Yasmina.

Mr Roberts told the National Times that her family was very relieved by her release. He had spoken to her on the telephone during her trip and said, “she’s OK”.

“I am delighted that she’s been released. I am obviously very happy about that. But I don’t want to talk too much until I have spoken to her.”

An “ecstatic” Janelle Taylor heard her daughter say “I love you” this morning in an emotional phone call.

Although unable to speak about her experience, the lawyer was able to reassure her Brisbane-based mother that she was fine.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, who is in New York, said the news of Ms Taylor’s relief had given him a boost.

“It’s actually lifted the jetlag,” he said this morning.

“I only wish that I could be there at Rotterdam airport when Melinda arrives and she lifts up that two-year-old,” he said.

He thanked Libyan authorities, especially “Prime Minister el-Keib and Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz, whose personal intervention was instrumental in bringing this matter to a close”.

Senator Carr said that Ms Taylor’s husband had been able to distract their daughter by changing the subject and talking about their pet dogs whenever Yasmina had asked about her mother.

But the Foreign Minister also said that the young girl had been waking up at night and crying unaccountably.

The Australian government has been pushing for Ms Taylor’s release, since she and three International Criminal Court colleagues were detained in the city of Zintan on July 7, accused of threatening Libya’s national security.

It was alleged that Ms Taylor had a spy camera in a pen and passed coded letters to the son of Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, from his former right-hand man, Mohammed Ismail.

The Australian lawyer’s release comes after weeks of talks that involved the Australian government, Libyan authorities and the ICC.

Ms Taylor was released to Australian ambassador-designate to Libya, David Ritchie, at 1am AEST today and has travelled back to Europe with a delegation lead by ICC President Song Sang-hyun.

Judge Song told reporters on the tarmac in Rome that Ms Taylor was in good spirits and health.

“I’m very happy to bring them all back to freedom,” he said.

Ms Taylor is still likely to face an internal ICC inquiry into allegations raised by the Libyan authorities.

In a statement yesterday, the court said the information reported by the Libyan authorities would be fully investigated in accordance with “ICC procedures”.

But Senator Carr said he did not think this was a concern as the issues between Libya and the ICC had been resolved. “We can rest easy about that,” he said.

Senator Carr said that even though Ms Taylor has been released, there were times when he thought the process was taking too long and he feared the worst.

“As late as Sunday [I] was talking to [parents] John and Janelle,” he said.

“I had to tell them the evidence was ambiguous.”

The Foreign Minister said that the episode, which has required a lot of interaction with the Libyan government, had had a positive effect on Australia’s relationship with the country.

“It’s had the ironic effect of giving us real rapport with the Libyan leadership,” he said.

“I’ve come to appreciate my conversations with the prime minister, and the deputy foreign minister.”

Follow the National Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU

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

Warranty company silent on return of goods

Warranty company silent on return of goods

THE owner of a national extended-warranty company appears to have gone silent, leaving many consumers wondering when their electrical goods – sent in for repair – will be returned.
Nanjing Night Net

Do you know more? Email Larissa Ham at [email protected]南京夜网.au

Consumer Affairs Victoria and NSW Fair Trading have received a number of calls from consumers experiencing problems with company U-NITED Warranties, owned by long-time businessman Vern Rickman.

A Consumer Affairs spokeswoman said consumers had reported their goods were being held by the company, which also operates a maintenance area, for repair or replacement, but had not been able to contact the trader to arrange for their return.

Both bodies are making inquiries to confirm the status of the company and say they will provide consumers with information as soon as possible.

Mr Rickman runs a number of companies under the United Group banner, including a warranties division – said to be Australia’s largest – along with the maintenance arm and an audiovisual department that has had clients including McDonald’s, My Chemist, Myer and Crown Casino.

At least part of the business is believed to be in trouble, but despite repeated attempts, The Age has been unable to contact Mr Rickman to verify the status of the company. Calls to the head office go straight to an answering machine.

A multimillion-dollar fine dining restaurant in Victoria’s South Gippsland, Archies on the Creek, owned by Mr Rickman, closed earlier this year.

Last year Mr Rickman told The Age he was also the major shareholder in PumpTV, a company rolling out small TV advertising screens on petrol bowsers throughout Australia and China. In an interview last year, Mr Rickman said the screens were expected to be viewed by 2 million people a month within the next two years. A call to PumpTV yesterday was greeted with a hang-up.

Meanwhile, retailers including Myer and Big W have ceased selling warranties through the group, and have been fielding phone calls from concerned warranty holders.

Myer spokeswoman Jo Lynch said the retailer stopped selling extended warranties through U-NITED about a month ago after becoming aware that customers weren’t able to contact the company.

”We are still trying to determine the extent of outstanding claims but at this point in time have had little information passed on from U-NITED,” she said. ”Myer is working through a process to locate customer goods that may be currently located with repair agents and transport companies who now have no contact point.”

Concerned warranty holders should phone Myer’s customer service hotline on 1800 811 611.

Big W stopped selling the extended warranties mid-June, after the warranty company advised them they were experiencing difficult trading conditions, Big W spokesman Benedict Brook said. The retailer has only been selling the warranties through U-NITED since late last year and it is believed no Big W customers are missing electrical goods. However, thousands of customers would be holding the warranties. Mr Brook said the retailer was in the process of finding another provider.

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

RBA expected to hold rates steady

RBA expected to hold rates steady

THE Reserve Bank board is considered certain to sit on its hands for the first time in three months today amid signs its previous rate cuts are stabilising property prices.
Nanjing Night Net

The RP Data Rismark survey finds Sydney and Melbourne prices bounced back 1 per cent in June after slipping in May 1.2 and 2.7 per cent.

Daily data shows the turnaround began after the Bank’s May 0.50 point rate cut and gathered pace after its June 0.25 point cut. ”Things are improving, but we would need further gains to be assured of a stabilisation in house prices let alone a recovery,” said Westpac economist Matthew Hassan.

The Sydney median price is $541,000, down 2 per cent over the past year. The Melbourne median price is $480,000 – down 6.6 per cent.

Separate figures from mortgage broker AFG show a surge in refinancing to take advantage of the Reserve Bank rate cuts totalling 1.25 percentage points since November.

Two in every five of the new mortgages sold in June were for borrowers wanting to refinance rather than buy. In a sign that borrowers expect further rate cuts this year the popularity of fixed-rate loans slumped to its lowest point since September. One in every six home loans were at fixed rates, down from one in every four in March.

Every one of the 23 market economists surveyed by Bloomberg expects the Reserve Bank to stay its hand today – an unusual consensus. Pricing in the futures market, which is notorious for overestimating the likelihood of rate cuts, puts the probability of a cut today at just 16 per cent.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said a spate of strong employment news since the June board meeting will leave the board feeling it can wait before cutting again.

”I tend to think because they cut at two meetings in a row, and because the growth and employment figures surprised on the upside, they would probably be inclined to sit back and wait and see,” he said.

Deutsche Bank economist Adam Boyton said he thought the bank would cut again later this year. ”Consumer confidence is lower now than when the Bank started to move at the end of last year.”

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

Why our banks can’t afford faster growth

Why our banks can’t afford faster growth

Banks are quietly content with the flood of deposits heading their way.There was an important sentence or two missing from yesterday’s Westpac warning about financial servicessector growth remaining modest – modest growth is all our banks can handle anyway.
Nanjing Night Net

While our senior bankers might suggest their highly-remunerated whiz-bang management talents are prevented from delivering stronger profit growth by dull-witted customers being overly cautious, the reality is that the banks are incapable of doing much more than they’re doing.

The combination of stiffer Basel III capital requirements and the competition for domestic profits means banks are quietly gratefully for subdued credit demand.

The deposit loop is a virtuous cycle for the banks at present, but it has the potential to rapidly turn vicious. Fearful Australians aren’t seeking to borrow much, returning our household savings ratio to something more like our longer-term average, before we started bashing the collective plastic in the 1990s. Instead of wanting to borrow, we’re stuffing increasing amounts of money under the banks’ mattresses.

We’re encouraged to do that by the tasty real interest rates on offer from the banks who are genuinely competing for deposits, but it’s a finely balanced thing – that strong deposit growth is just enabling the banks to meet the limited credit growth without drama in this uncertain world where large amounts of foreign funding are frowned upon.

Should we collectively experience an outbreak of confidence, that fine balance would be lost. If we were more confident about the economic outlook, we’d be less likely to leave money in the vaults – we’d be withdrawing cash to buy shares or property.

The Catch-22 is that we’d also be keener to borrow more, but wouldn’t be able to because we’d be reducing the deposits that would fund the borrowing.

Money hunt

That danger of Australians wanting to both borrow more and deposit less deeply worries the bankers who have the job of finding money to allow their business to operate.

They’re happy for the uncertainty to continue – keep those European crisis headlines coming.

Symptomatic of how serious the competition has become among the banks wanting to borrow our money is the fact that the best online savings rate has risen again after initially falling in the wake of the RBA interest rate cuts.

The new leader in the field is the Westpac brand, RAMS, offering 5.75 per cent, albeit with a couple of catches – a minimum of $200 a month deposited and no withdrawals made.

(Rabo is in second place, offering 5.6 per cent but that’s only a four-month special while NAB’s UBank has 5.51 per cent with a minimum deposit requirement.)

That two of the top three offers are being made by Big Four banks that traditionally could raise deposits more cheaply than smaller institutions tells us something about how keen they are to borrow.

From an investor’s point of view, the subdued environment has its own rewards, as long as you’re not sitting on shares bought at the pre-GFC peak.

At present pricing, banks only have to maintain dividends to make holding bank shares richly rewarding thanks to those fat franked yields.

A little profit growth is always welcome, but let’s not get too enthusiastic – we wouldn’t want to encourage optimism.

Michael Pascoe is a BusinessDay contributing editor.

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

Boys die in drain collapse

Boys die in drain collapse

Jack Sartori died when a drain collapsed in Ayr. Year 9 student Liam Emerson.
Nanjing Night Net

Two boys, aged 14 and 12, were playing in this storm drain when it collapsed on them.

Two young boys, who died last night after a drain collapsed on them, had spent months building a cubby house at the site, according to neighbours in the north Queensland street.

The alarm was raised in Ayr when the boys, aged 14 and 12, failed to return home and the collapsed drain was discovered on a private property in Clements Street about 7pm.

Firefighters dug the boys out and paramedics performed CPR on them at the scene but they both died in Ayr Hospital.

Various neighbours in Clements Street said they had often seen the boys playing near the drain and they had been building a cubby house-type structure.

Shirley Kapeechkin said she walked past the site every day and knew something awful had happened when she saw a stream of ambulances last night.

‘‘Apparently a father came home and his son wasn’t there and it was dark so he went looking for him and they found them collapsed under a cubby house they had made,’’ she said.

‘‘I didn’t actually see what they were building because it was in a big gully.

‘‘… We know a lot of the boys around here and … you love to see kids getting out of the house and doing things like this but you don’t want this to happen.’’

Another neighbour said she had noticed the boys were building a cubby and would often see the pair riding their bikes on a track they had made on the property too.

The mayor of Ayr Bill Lowis’s wife, Patricia, said the couple had been at home last night when they found out the awful news through a phone call.

‘‘It’s a very, very, very sad day for the community,’’ she said.

‘‘Any loss of life is terrible, especially when children are involved.’’

Police are investigating.

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

Appy days are here again for seniors who plug in to social media

Appy days are here again for seniors who plug in to social media

Sharing photos and chatting online can help reduce loneliness in elderly people who are socially isolated, a Melbourne University study has found.SHARING photos online using iPads can reduce loneliness in elderly people who are socially isolated, a new study has found.
Nanjing Night Net

Researchers at Melbourne University believe the trial is among the first to assess how technology can ease social isolation in Australia’s ageing population.

The university’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society created an iPad app that allowed a small group of people aged in their 80s and 90s to chat online and share photos.

Computing and information systems associate professor Frank Vetere said the study produced promising results with some participants forming relationships in the real world.

”As a result of being in the study some of them have become good friends,” he said.

Professor Vetere said the study revealed that social media and technology could play a bigger role in alleviating loneliness once the national broadband network is extended into Australian homes and provides better internet access.

But developing technology that is easy to use will be key to tackling social isolation among elderly people, Professor Vetere said.

Trialling the technology with a small group allowed the researchers to focus on ensuring the Enmesh app was simple to operate and required minimal training. The institute will extend the trial next year.

The app allowed the users to upload messages and photographs that everyone in the group could see.

Researchers interviewed the participants and care managers three times during the 10-week trial. The participants had health and mobility problems but still lived at home.

One man said he had a ”very bad time of depression” but sharing photos had made a big difference. The group met in person three times during the trial.

Participants were allowed to keep the iPads after the trial ended. ”From all reports they’re enjoying their iPad experience,” Professor Vetere said.

[email protected]南京夜网.au

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