Sharobeem rorted migrant women NGOs, ICAC hears

A contender for the NSW Australian of the Year awards rorted more than half a million dollars in public funds while she was in charge of two publicly funded community health organisations, a corruption inquiry has been told.


Eman Sharobeem allegedly used the money to pay for holidays, gym memberships, jewellery, furniture and luxury goods for her family.

The accusations were among a series of damning allegations aired on the first day of an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into Sharobeem’s time as the chief executive officer of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service (IWHS) and the Non-English Speaking Housing Women’s Scheme (NESH) for more than a decade.

The ICAC would also detail evidence of how Sharobeem lied about her academic qualifications, including two PhD degrees and a masters degree, to promote her career, and treat IWHS clients.

“Ms Sharobeem does not hold a doctorate nor is she registered to practice as a psychologist. She has never completed a masters degree,” counsel assisting ICAC Ramesh Rajalingam said in his opening address on Monday.

“Ultimately it is contended that Ms Sharobeem used her false qualifications to promote herself publicly and also in applications to funding bodies to receive funds on behalf of IWHS.”

A finalist in NSW’s Local Hero category of the awards in 2015 and an Australia Day ambassador, Sharobeem also used the fake qualifications to gain appointments with the Community Relations Commission and Anti-Discrimination Board, he said.

“Jewellery was purchased, furniture, holidays and holiday club memberships were paid for, hair and beauty treatments were reimbursed to Ms Sharobeems on a regular basis, and also clothes and food,” Mr Rajalingam told the inquiry.

IWHS admin staff were allegedly pressured to grossly exaggerate the number of people who used the service from as far back as 2004 – when Sharobeem first started working with the group.

In one instance, a group referred to as ‘finance problems’ was changed from one attendee to 828, according to the annual report for 2012-2013.

The inquiry heard Sharobeem used the organisation’s funds to pay for $51,192 in renovations at her Fairfield home, which she initially bought for $660,000 and later sold for $1.3 million.

The ICAC discovered regular reimbursements from IWHS for personal expenses, including more than $41,000 on jewellery, $19,000 on hair and beauty treatments, cosmetics or dental work and $18,000 at department stores such as Myer and David Jones.

“Additionally, Ms Sharobeem used a credit card and or credit card account issued to the IWHS to make annual payments for memberships with Fitness First, Lite n Easy, and Foxtel for the benefit of either herself or family members,” Mr Rajalingam said.

The ICAC heard Sharobeem’s two sons benefited from the rorting as she regularly authorised payments to their accounts, while $18,000 in NESH funds were used to pay off a Mercedes-Benz for her husband.

Outside the inquiry and flanked by her husband and sons, Ms Sharobeem refused to comment on the allegations.

The Egyptian-born says she was child bride survivor forced into an arranged marriage to her first cousin as a teenager.

The inquiry, which is expected to run for two weeks, will hear from more than 20 witnesses including Sharobeem and her family.

Until recently, Ms Sharobeen was National Community Engagement Manager at SBS.

N Korea hints at nuke tests to boost force

North Korea has suggested it will continue its nuclear weapons tests, saying it will bolster its nuclear force “to the maximum” in a “consecutive and successive way at any moment” in the face of what it calls US aggression and hysteria.


US President Donald Trump has said a “major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, while China said last week the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control.

In a show of force, the US has sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group to waters off the Korean peninsula to join drills with South Korea to counter a series of threats of destruction from North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“Now that the US is kicking up the overall racket for sanctions and pressure against the DPRK, pursuant to its new DPRK policy called ‘maximum pressure and engagement’, the DPRK will speed up at the maximum pace the measure for bolstering its nuclear deterrence,” a spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by its official KCNA news agency.

North Korea’s “measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership,” the spokesman said.

Reclusive North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests and a series of missile tests in defiance of UN Security Council and unilateral resolutions. It has been conducting such tests at an unprecedented rate and is believed to have made progress in developing intermediate-range and submarine-launched missiles.

It test-launched a missile on Saturday which Washington and Seoul said was unsuccessful, but which nevertheless drew widespread international condemnation.

South Korea said the United States had reaffirmed it would shoulder the cost of deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system to counter the North Korean threat, days after Trump said Seoul should pay for the $US1 billion ($A1.3 billion) battery.

In a phone call on Sunday, Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, reassured his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin, that the US alliance with South Korea was its top priority in the Asia-Pacific region, the South’s presidential office said.

Trump, asked about his message to North Korea after the latest missile test, told reporters: “You’ll soon find out,” but did not elaborate on what the US response would be.

Trump stepped up his outreach to allies in Asia over the weekend to discuss the North Korean threat and make sure all are “on the same page” if action is needed, a top White House official said.

The THAAD deployment has drawn protests from China, which says the powerful radar that can penetrate its territory will undermine regional security, and from residents of the area in which it is being deployed, worried they will be a target for North Korean missiles.

Family appeal for Melbourne student missing four days

As he dropped his daughter Nashwa off at school, Khalil Kowa expected to see her home that night for dinner.


But four days on, there’s been no sign of the 18-year-old.

“We are very concerned. We need to listen to Nashwa’s voice,” Mr Kowa told SBS News.

Her mother, Nadia Koko, hasn’t slept since her disappearance.

“I’m very very scared for her. Four days, I didn’t see her.”

In school uniform, Nashwa Kowa attended her classes at Melton Christian College in Melbourne’s north western outskirts, before signing out at 12.40pm to attend a VET fashion course as part of her studies.

But she never showed up.

Constable Katie Keating, from Victoria Police said Ms Kowa had deactivated her social media accounts and had not contacted any siblings.

“We’ve spoken with one male that we thought she might be with, and he’s confirmed that he isn’t with her. We haven’t spoken to anyone else.”

Ms Kowa was carrying a large black, red and yellow ‘Mick’s Gym’ duffle bag, with clothes in it.

She told friends she was going to Crown Casino.

Her heartbroken family, who fled Sudan as refugees, just wants to know if she is okay.

Mr Kowa said he brought his family to Australia in 2005, to give them a better life.

“We (were) travelling, very hard, we struggling, very hard, to bring the kids here to get education, to look after himself. It’s important. And it’s very hard to bring kids here, and we lose them.”

Mrs Kowa fought back tears as she appealed to her daughter.

Nashwa Kowa was last seen leaving Melton Christian College in Melbourne’s north western outskirts.supplied

“I don’t know where you are. I don’t know if you alive, or you dead, I don’t know. I have nine kids. It’s hard, very hard for me.”

Ms Kowa has gone missing once before – about three months ago, but only for 24 hours.

CCTV footage from outside Melton Christian College shows Ms Kowa leaving the school, which could help police with their investigation.

Mr Kowa had a message for his daughter.

“Please, we love you.”

“Please ring your mum, ring your sister, or ring me.”

Critical battle of Coral Sea remembered 75 years on

At a dawn service in the Queensland city of Townsville, a bugler sounds the Last Post.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull led the first of many commemorations of the World War Two Battle of the Coral Sea.

He thanked the Australian and United States servicemen and women involved in the battle.

“Over four critical days in May 1942, the fate of our island continent hung in the balance. The Battle of the Coral Sea was the first setback to the Japanese in the Pacific War. It was a turning point in the war. Our freedoms were secured by the bravery of the fighting men on those ships and the pilots who flew through everything the enemy and the weather could throw in their way.”

By that time, the Japanese had struck the US naval base at Pearl Harbour, taken the British garrison of Singapore and bombed Darwin.

As the Prime Minister recalled, their next aim was to seize Port Moresby and isolate Australia.

“The Japanese were turned back, but not without a heavy price. The mighty aircraft carrier Lexington was lost, as was the destroyer USS Sims and tanker USS Neosho. The US navy’s commitment of two of the carriers into the battle showed a total commitment to the defence of Australia. And it showed a total unity of purpose.”

Cecil Wiswell was a 17-year-old seaman on the USS Lexington when the Japanese torpedoed it.

The now 93-year-old is in Australia for the commemorations and spoke to the ABC about his survival.

“Brings back memories when I look out there on the sea. I stayed aboard the ship. I helped the doctor with patients for a while, and then I went around the ship trying to fight fire and whatnot. We stayed aboard for quite a while after the ‘Abandon ship’ was sounded, and, all of a sudden, it dropped what felt like two or three feet more. I said, ‘It’s time to leave now.’ I went to a life raft, but the life raft had so many men in it and around it that it was submerged. I said, ‘This is no place for me,’ so I lit out alone.”

The ashes of his fellow Lexington crew member Harry Fry have been scattered in the Coral Sea.

Official History project author Dr David Stevens says the battle represents a pivotal moment in Australian history.

“The Battle of the Coral Sea was very significant just for the fact that it was one of the first reverses that the Japanese suffered after their initial victories following Pearl Harbour and the attacks on Malaya and Singapore.”

And he says, within that significant battle, the Australian role was truly vital.

“The Australian role was very important in that, part of the code-breaking that was done, the Americans had moved their … the Japanese had invaded the Philippines earlier in the war, and an American code-breaking team had escaped and moved to Melbourne, where they joined up with Australian code-breakers, and they were the ones who broke the Japanese codes and were able to determine exactly where the Japanese were going to invade.”

Later this week, Malcolm Turnbull will attend a commemorative dinner in New York, where he will have his first face-to-face meeting with US president Donald Trump.

“We must be forever grateful to those who put their lives on the line and those who do so today so that we might have a free and peaceful world.”

Uni heads learn their budget fate

The Turnbull government is mounting an argument universities can afford to take a haircut as funding outpaces the cost of educating students.


Education Minister Simon Birmingham later on Monday is expected to outline a package for next week’s federal budget that includes funding cuts and hikes in student fees.

Universities have cried poor, releasing a study a week ago that showed the sector contributing $3.9 billion to the budget bottom line over recent years.

But the government has released its own analysis showing universities have been pocketing taxpayer funds beyond the cost of teaching and research.

The average cost of delivery per student grew 9.5 per cent between 2010 and 2015, a government-commissioned Deloitte report found, while funding per student grew by 15 per cent.

Treasurer Scott Morrison says the lower delivery cost could be down to economies of scale or good management of universities.

“But it also demonstrates that it’s hard to make the argument that somehow universities are falling behind when it comes to a funding question,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

“We have seen that the costs of educating people have not risen as fast as that funding and that presents some obvious issues there to ensure that the taxpayers’ interests are best reflected in how we engage with the sector.”

The government acknowledges funding in some areas – such as dentistry and veterinary studies – doesn’t cover the cost of delivery but says the vast majority of courses could be delivered cheaper.

Universities could be hit with a 2-3 per cent efficiency dividend.

Senator Birmingham has previously indicated he thinks it not unreasonable to rebalance the proportion of student and taxpayer contributions to bring them closer to an even split.

At the moment, students pay about 40 per cent of the cost of their degree.

The minister will address a higher education and business event in Canberra on Monday evening, with the audience expected to include many vice-chancellors eager to learn about the government’s plans.

This is a marked difference from when the coalition took the sector by surprise by revealing plans in its 2014 budget to cut funding by 20 per cent and completely deregulate student fees.

Labor already has resurrected its campaign against “$100,000 degrees”, which ultimately led to the Senate rejecting the previous funding overhaul.

Opposition frontbencher Andrew Leigh acknowledged Labor in government had proposed an efficiency dividend on universities to pay for increased school funding, but said that came on the back of a large rise.

“Is a smaller cut better than a bigger cut? Sure, but that doesn’t make it good policy,” he told Sky News.

Morrison insists Budget on path to surplus, education cuts expected

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has highlighted his own grandparents’ struggle of buying a home to show the pressure on the Sydney housing market has been around for generations.


“All they ever knew on my father’s side was renting a house in Sydney, could never buy a house,” Mr Morrison said.

“They grew up [and] were around in the 40s, 50s and 30s in Australia. So it has been a long-term issue in Sydney.”

It’s expected housing affordability will be a focus of Mr Morrison’s second Budget, however, he insists the government will be addressing the whole spectrum of housing affordability, including the rental market, as well as social housing.

Morrison: We must make the right choices

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“If you don’t have a roof over your head this you can rely on, every single other problem you have in life gets harder,” he said.

The Treasurer said the Budget will be about “making the right choices” to support the Australian economy.

“By ensuring we grow our economy, we are able to guarantee the services that Australians are relying on,” he said.

Mr Morrison reiterated his concerns about slow wages growth, but insisted higher pay rates can only be delivered if the economy grows and all businesses get a tax cut.

The government plans to introduce the second half of its business tax package when Parliament resumes next week.

“You can’t get a pay rise in a business that’s going backwards and it isn’t making a profit,” Treasurer Morrison said.

Morrison’s ‘good, bad’ debt claim under fire 

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The university sector is expected to have to tighten their belts as funding outpaces the cost of educating students.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham is expected to outline a Budget package that includes funding cuts and hikes in student fees later on Monday.


Mr Morrison was vague on the Budget outlook after a prominent economist predicted the budget will be in a worse position than forecast in December, raising concerns the government won’t be able to achieve a promised 2021 surplus.

“Those numbers will be updated on Tuesday week,” he said.

SBS chart showing Treasury’s deficit projections compared with Deloitte’s.SBS / James Elton-Pym

A leading Australian economist has warned a $100 billion boost to national income this year will not be enough to stop a worsening in the Budget figures next week.

The income surge is a product of a stronger Chinese economy and two Reserve Bank interest rate cuts last year, according to Deloitte economist Chris Richardson.

Mr Richardson said the boost would likely improve next year’s forecast, but said he still predicted a worsening in the projected deficit over the following two years due to Treasury overestimating tax collection. 

“Treasury is still of the view, and it may be right, that the tax system will get a bunch healthier in the next few years,” he said.

“In the last seven years, total revenue went up by an average of $17 billion a year. In the next three years, Treasury says it’ll jump to $30 billion a year – not because of a decision to tax more but because of underlying repair in the tax system.”

The Treasurer hinted to reporters the government may dump so-called “zombie” savings measures from the budget papers.

“It is important the Budget is a credible document, a practical document… that can be put forward with confidence to the Australian Parliament for support,” he said.

As of March 31 there were $12.7 billion in unlegislated Budget savings slated for the next four years, some of which have been blocked by Parliament since the Coalition’s May 2014 Budget.

Mr Richardson warned Australia’s pursuit of “bad” spending will catch up with it.

“We have a bunch of bad spending now well and truly cemented in place,” he said.

“If we are really not going to do something about spending we are going to have a look at taxing.”


Sex Discrimination Commissioner hits back over ‘draconian’ gender measures report

The report suggested that government contractors would be obliged to see that at least 40 per cent of the workforce was female, however Ms Jenkins said the quota was one way in which the government could lead by example on redressing gender imbalances in workplaces around the country.


“We did not recommend that quotas be put in place, rather we recommended that the Commonwealth Government should become a model industry in improving the participation of women in the workforce,” she said in a statement on Monday.

“This is not a mandatory quota. Organisations would not need to meet this gender balance target to secure government contracts.”

Earlier on Monday, former prime minister Tony Abbott labelled the move “politically correct rubbish” and told Ms Jenkins “pull your head in” on 2GB.

Mr Abbott said the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 40:40:20 target was “anti-men”.

“We absolutely have to give women a fair go but some of this stuff sounds like it’s just anti-men,” he told Ray Hadley.

Earlier this year, the AHRC made a submission to a Senate Inquiry to consider the issue of gender imbalance in the workforce, proposing that government organisations make a more concerted effort to hire women, with the ultimate goal of reaching a 40:40:20 balance, with the remaining 20 per cent to allow for flexibility.

Ms Jenkins said taking steps such as seeing recruitment short lists during the hiring process could help improve hiring practices in typically male-dominated industries, such as construction and IT.

“The recommendation simply asks for ‘demonstrated efforts’ to improve gender balance,” she said.

“Increasing diversity in organisations has proven benefits. By improving women’s participation in male-dominated industries we can broaden the talent pool within these industries, address skills shortages and improve the performance of organisations. Similar benefits would flow to female-dominated work forces.”

Women’s issues advocate and author Catherine Fox said that quotas did not compromise employers’ ability to scope the best talent.

My statement setting the record straight on today’s media reports on gender balance in the workforce: 长沙桑拿,长沙SPA,/Cl7LukzCts

— Kate Jenkins (@Kate_Jenkins_) May 1, 2017

“I hate the word ‘merit’ in some ways because I think it’s overused and it’s misued, but I think, actually, when it comes down to it, having targets, having those kinds of goals that we put in place is really about finding the best people to do the jobs that we have, and not narrowing our options, which I think is the problem that we have at the moment,” she said.

Mr Abbott said if the government wanted to do the right thing by women the best thing it could do was to get good conservative women into the parliament.

“That’s one of the challenges which faces my party right now,” he said.

Mr Abbott, who also served as the Minister for Women during his tenure as prime minister until 2015, was widely condemned for appointing just a single woman – Julie Bishop – to federal cabinet in 2013.

“We as a society, we felt very uncomfortable with that, that didn’t reflect what we thought should be a cabinet for a federal government,” Ms Fox said.

“He then, subsequently, sometime on after he lost the leadership, he regretted that, he admitted that that was probably a mistake.

“I think this is not a person that we turn to for the best judgement on some of these issues,” she said.

CEO of the International Women’s Development Agency Jo Hayter said that implementing gender quotas was about democracy, not political correctness.

“Quotas continue to be the only accountability tool that lead to more diverse participation. It is this diverse participation that we need to ensure better public policy outcomes for all,” Ms Hayter said.

“Australia signed on to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015 – Tony Abbott was Prime Minister of Australia throughout the entire negotiation process.

“Does today’s statement mean he never had any intention of respecting the Global Goals? Or has he simply forgotten what he signed our nation up for?”

-With AAP

AUSPOL: Morrison says government must make the right choices on budget

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Easy retirement floating further away for many

Five years into his retirement, things were looking pretty sunny for a man named Les as he enjoyed a game of golf with a friend in Sydney.


“Fantastic. I don’t know how I had time to go to work basically. I always have plenty of things to do, and, yeah … (I) love it.”

But that is a reality out of reach for many other Australians.

A policy paper commissioned by the super fund REST shows the cost of supporting family members is forcing many working Australians to either delay retirement or retire in debt.

REST chief executive Damian Hill says those feeling the biggest burden are the so-called “sandwich generation.”

“And these are people aged 50 to 65, and not only are they continuing to support their adult children they will never get off their hands, they’re also having to start supporting their parents, their retired parents, who have not saved enough in retirement.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suggested last year wealthy parents could, as he put it, “shell out” to help their kids enter the property market.

But the survey shows the expectation on parents to help out their adult children may be part of the problem.

The study shows, among Australians over age 50 still in work, as many as one in five plans to retire with a mortgage.

It shows more than half have debts, including credit cards, still owing.

On their lunchbreaks in Sydney, these office workers offered a mix of approaches to planning retirement.

(First:) “Yeah, it’s something I do think about, but not planning to save yet for that. Still working on saving for a house.”

(Second:) “Yeah, I do contribute extra into my superannuation. So, yeah, I do think about the future.”

(Third:) “It’s something that concerns me, but I’ve done nothing about it. I tend to leave everything to the last minute. You know that saying, ‘If it wasn’t for the last moment, nothing would get done.’ So we’ll see about it in maybe 20 years’ time.”

But financial adviser Colin Lewis of Perpetual Private says it is never too early to start planning for retirement.”

“Just that little bit each year, it will help. The power of compound interest says it all, basically. The sooner you start, the more you’ll have at the end of the day.”

What’s in the new university funding plan


* 2.


5 per cent efficiency dividend in 2018 and 2019 – on payments for teaching only.

* No cuts to research or other taxpayer contributions.

* Efficiency dividend will cut about $2.8 billion – less than four per cent of university revenues from taxpayers and student fees.

* Phased increases in course fees, starting with 1.8 per cent in 2018 up to 7.5 per cent in 2021.

* Student proportion of fees increases from 42 per cent to 46 per cent on average.

* Increase over four years will range between $2000 and $3600.

* Maximum a student will pay over four-year degree is $50,000.

* Most expensive course – six-year medical degree – will cost at most $75,000 (taxpayers will contribute $137,300).

* Increase to funding for dentistry and veterinary courses in recognition of high costs of clinical training (brought into line with medicine courses).

* Drop repayment threshold for HECS-HELP loans to $42,000 from July 2018 (now about $55,000).

* Index minimum repayment threshold for loans to inflation rather than average weekly earnings.

* 7.5 per cent of university funding will be linked to performance measures – initially transparency of enrolment process from 2018, then student retention and success from 2019.

* If funding is withheld from a university that doesn’t meet these measures, it will go to other institutions not back into the budget.

* $3 million extra funding to quality watchdog TEQSA

* $15 million for eight regional study hubs to offer students technology and support to study in their home town. Starting with Geraldton, Cooma and the Pilbara.

* Switch funding for disadvantaged students into a loading instead of a separate program.

* $37 million a year from January 2019 for postgraduate scholarships that students can use at institutions of their choice.

Grandmother ‘devastated’ by IS video

The grandmother of a young boy shown in an Islamic State propaganda video says she is devastated to see him being used as a “media tool” and insists he won’t be lost forever.


Karen Nettleton has also revealed she recently spoke with the six-year-old, who was shown in footage being grilled by her son-in-law, Khaled Sharrouf, about how to kill a non-Muslim and an Australian.

“He still has got his cute little voice and little lisp,” Mrs Nettleton told the ABC’s 7.30 program on Monday.

“(He said), ‘I love you, Nanna. I miss you, Nanna’.”

Sharrouf left Australia for the Middle East in 2013 and became an Islamic State fighter.

He had only been out of jail for a year after serving four years for plotting a high-level terrorist attack on Australian soil.

Later in 2013 his wife Tara Nettleton, who has since died, took the couple’s five children to live with their father in an IS stronghold in Syria.

Another of Sharrouf’s sons – then aged seven – has also been shown in a photograph holding the severed head of a slain soldier.

Mrs Nettleton said it pained her to see her youngest grandson in the video.

“I know what he’s like,” she said.

“He’s just been used, I think, as some sort of media tool.”

She said she had no idea where the group was and could not understand how the boy’s father could allow him to be exploited.

Recalling rocking the child to sleep, singing him songs and taking him swimming, she also wondered whether he and his siblings will want to come home after being brainwashed.

But she still holds hope they won’t be gone forever.

“They’re not lost, they’re not gone,” she said.

“They’re just kids. With the right help, they’ll be OK.”

The video is proof Sharrouf is alive and is being investigated by the NSW Joint Counter Terrorist Team.

Mrs Nettleton made a failed attempt to get her grandchildren out of the region last year and has previously appealed to the government to help them.

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan believes the children of terrorists taken to war zones and exposed to unspeakable horrors deserve help.

“A young child who has been taken to a conflict zone is as much a victim of that parent’s bad behaviour,” he told News Corp Australia.

“But we need to make sure where they have been exposed to these sorts of horrible things, in the midst of the civil war, that they get some support from the Australian government.”