Making News This Week: Ice Bucket Challenge credited with ALS breakthrough, the Royal commission will investigate abuse in the Northern Territory juvenile justice system, the first 24-hour sexual assault response unit has been set up in Queensland, and The RSPCA is seeking to stop dingoes being used to kill feral goats on Pelorus Island.
Ice Bucket Challenge credited with ALS breakthrough
The Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral two years ago, raising hundreds of millions of dollars, has helped identify a new gene behind the neurodegenerative disease ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, researchers say.
The challenge involved people pouring ice-cold water over their heads, posting video on social media and donating funds for research on the condition, whose sufferers include British physicist Stephen Hawking.
The challenge raised $220 million worldwide, according to the Washington-based ALS Association. News of the gene discovery again sent Ice Bucket Challenge viral, proving one of the top trending topics on Twitter on Wednesday.
The money funded the largest ever study of inherited ALS and identified a new gene, NEK1, that ranks among the most common genes that contribute to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the ALS Association said in a statement Monday.
Royal commission into NT youth detention to investigate possible human rights breach
The royal commission into abuse in the Northern Territory juvenile justice system will focus on why investigations highlighting problems in the system were not sufficiently followed up, and whether detention centres have breached human rights obligations.
Federal cabinet agreed on the royal commission’s terms of reference, with former Northern Territory chief justice Brian Martin named to head the inquiry.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the royal commission on Tuesday morning, after what he described as “shocking” and “appalling” vision of the abuse of teenagers aired on the ABC’s Four Corners.
Teenage boys were shown being assaulted, stripped naked and tear-gassed at Darwin’s Don Dale detention centre, and in one instance shackled and hooded in a chair at a facility in Alice Springs.
First 24-hour sexual assault response unit set up in Queensland
A 24-hour sexual assault response unit has begun operating in Townsville in north Queensland — the first of its kind in the state.
The response unit includes eight social workers and seven police officers who will immediately respond to any complaints of sexual assault made by women.
Each police officer is specially trained in trauma interviewing and dealing with sexual crimes.
Cathy Crawford from the Sexual Assault Support Service said it was a significant improvement in how sexual crimes were handled by authorities.
“The fact that it is 24 hours and these officers have specialised training is a huge improvement in the support of victims and will give them much better outcomes,” she said.
RSPCA wants to stop ‘cruel’ dingo cull of feral goats on Great Barrier Reef island
The RSPCA is seeking to stop dingoes being used to kill feral goats on Pelorus Island in north Queensland.
The animal welfare organisation will appeal to Biosecurity Queensland’s ethics committee to revoke its approval for the project, according to Mark Townend, the RSPCA’s chief executive officer.
“By sticking some wild dogs in a situation where those goats will be eaten, partly eaten and then left to die a horrible painful death is the wrong attitude for 2016,” he said.
As reported on Landline, Hinchinbrook Shire Council this month released two male, desexed dingoes onto the Great Barrier Reef island in a bid to eradicate 300 feral goats which are destroying an endangered coastal ecosystem.