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Rooney keen to end league drought against Liverpool

“I am very happy and grateful, but I go back to Manchester, get back into training and start focussing on Liverpool.

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Hopefully getting two goals in the last two games will mean I continue scoring,” Rooney said.

“There’s no better game to go into than Liverpool at home after losing our last game (2-1 at Swansea City). It is a game we have to win and it’s something I’m looking forward to,” the former Everton striker added.

“To achieve what I have (by becoming England’s top scorer), I would be lying if I said it didn’t put a spring in my step and make you want to carry on scoring,” Rooney, who also scored in the 6-0 win over San Marino that booked England’s place in the Euro 2016 finals in France, said.

Meanwhile, Ander Herrera has said United’s midfield needs to start chipping in with goals to take some of the pressure off both Rooney and new signing Anthony Martial.

The Red Devils have struggled for goals in the early part of the season and have just three in their four league games so far, including the own goal by Kyle Walker in the 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the season opener.

“We don’t have to give all the responsibility on scoring to Wayne or Anthony Martial. We have to help. It is very important as a midfielder to score. We all have to help,” the Spanish midfielder said.

“Wayne is very important to us. Most of the time he will score but when he doesn’t, he is helping the team and he is always fighting for the team.

“He runs for the rest of the team and he likes to provide assists. We are very lucky to have him,” the 26-year-old added.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)

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Debate over Iraq-Syria fight timeframe

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews says Australian forces involved in Syria and Iraq could pull out after two to three years, but a former military chief believes it’s more likely to be a decade.

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Mr Andrews is the first cabinet minister to put a timeline on the fight against Islamic State, which military strategists believe will take a decade or more.

Asked to define how many years the fight would take, he told the Nine Network: “Two, three years. I can’t say for exact terms.”

Former defence force chief Peter Gration said the prospect of sorting it out in two to three years was remote.

“We are in for a longer haul – I’d be thinking in terms of a decade,” he told the ABC.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who on Wednesday announced RAAF military aircraft would be allowed to cross from Iraq into Syria to target IS fighters, said personnel would return when the job is done.

His comment was backed up by Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss who said in response to a Labor question in parliament on the military pullout: “I cannot give you a date as to when that will be. We all hope that it will be soon but we will not be leaving until the job’s done.”

Labor has thrown its support behind the government in extending the mission into Syria.

Australia’s representatives to the United Nations wrote to the president of the security council on Thursday morning giving notice of the expansion.

The legal basis is Article 51 of the United Nations charter which states all member nations have a right to individual or collective self defence against armed attack.

However, Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said the ultimate solution lay in finding a political resolution in Syria, as well as defeating Islamic State.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke overnight with US Secretary of State John Kerry about how to disrupt IS bases and supply lines in eastern Syria.

Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs warned that bombing IS targets in Syria would create more refugees.

Australia’s policy of accepting 12,000 people fleeing the conflict and conducting air strikes was “contradictory”, she said.

“I think it’s inevitable that will increase the refugee flow and it will almost certainly lead to the deaths of more civilians.”

Mr Andrews likened the Iraq-Syria border to something closer to home.

It made sense to be able to go over the border because it was a bit like the border between NSW and the ACT.

“We know where it is on a map but most people wouldn’t know where it is and Daesh (IS) certainly doesn’t respect it.”

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Perrett closing in on new Canterbury deal

An elusive premiership ring is the sole reason why Canterbury veteran Sam Perrett is close to re-signing with the club on an multi-year deal.

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In an added boost ahead of Saturday night’s elimination final with St George-Illawarra, the self-managed Perrett revealed he is on the verge of a contract extension at Belmore.

“It’s not official yet, but everything’s looking good to stay here,” he said.

“It’s just a matter of putting it all on a formal contract.”

Perrett, 30, said he was comfortable looking after his own contractual affairs because, at this stage of his career, his priorities aren’t about extracting the most dollars.

“For me, there’s a lot of other things that hold value for me – comfort, momentum, opportunity, and a good, healthy environment,” he said.

“That’s really important for me and my family.”

However, the former Sydney Rooster said he had been in the game long enough to know other players had differing demands when it came to taking a seat at the negotiating table.

“They don’t really want to focus on that. They want to focus on their football and they’re not too interested in that side of it,” he said.

“In that instance, it’s good to have someone else working for you.”

Having lost three grand finals over his 12 seasons in the NRL so far, Perrett said winning that elusive premiership ring was his sole motivation at this stage of his career.

The former Kiwis representative gets another chance when he begins his fifth finals campaign in his past six years this weekend.

“It’s another shot for me personally that I’ve been looking forward to, and another opportunity to get that ring. It’s something that I’m pretty hungry for,” he said.

“To fall short just one step, it’s heartbreaking.

“But they are always opportunities to learn from, so long as you can the lessons and apply them.

“Hopefully the last couple of GFs that we’ve missed out on, we can fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle.”

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Exercise link to prostate cancer survival

Exercise training is being examined as a possible treatment for prostate cancer in a pioneering new study.

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A group of men with the illness are being put through their paces with weekly aerobic sessions by researchers to explore the possible health benefits.

Previous evidence has suggested that exercise can improve survival chances for those diagnosed with the disease.

Backed by Cancer Research UK, it is hoped the year-long study will lead to a full trial, thought to be the first of its kind, to determine if exercise should be used as an NHS treatment.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men, with 43,400 cases diagnosed each year, claiming around 10,800 lives.

Volunteer David Curtis, 68, was diagnosed with the illness last March and is counting increased exercise as one of his New Year’s resolutions.

He said: “I was never someone to go to the gym, even though I’ve always been active, but now I go to the gym twice a week and do lots of walking.

“Since starting on the study, I’ve started to lose weight and my PSA level has come down which is a really positive indicator.

“I feel privileged to be on the study and pleased to be part of any research which might be useful to others.”

High levels of PSA, a protein produced by prostate cells, in the bloodstream can be a sign of cancer.

Current forms of treatment for prostate cancer include surgery and radiotherapy, both of which carry risks and side effects.

Study leader Dr Liam Bourk said: “Evidence suggests that men who are physically active after a prostate cancer diagnosis have better cancer survival than men who aren’t active.

“It’s not clear yet how this works, but it might be that exercise affects the way some genes regulate cancer cell growth and DNA repair.”

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Parents struggle to get kids to ‘unplug’

Convincing children to turn off the TV or computer is more difficult than getting them to do their homework, go to bed or take a bath, a UK poll suggests.

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Almost one in four mothers and fathers (23.1 per cent) found it difficult to control the amount of time their son or daughter spent watching television or playing on computers, tablets and phones, according to the Action for Children survey.

In comparison, just one in 10 parents (10.3 per cent) found it difficult to get their youngsters to do their homework, while 17.5 per cent struggled with getting them to bed, 10.5 per cent had trouble getting their child out of bed and ready in the morning and 4.6 per cent found it difficult to encourage their offspring to take a bath.

The poll, which questioned around 2000 parents, also revealed that healthy eating is an issue for some mothers and fathers, with nearly one in five (18.6 per cent) admitting that they found it difficult to get their child to eat the right foods.

The findings come amid continuing concerns that youngsters may be spending too much time online or watching TV, with some experts previously warning that pupils can turn up to school tired after spending time in front of a screen late at night.

Carol Iddon, managing director of operations at Action for Children, said: “Technology is an often necessary part of the lives of children and parents alike, but it’s important to maintain a balance with other activities and quality family time.

“We know from our extensive work with families that strong relationships with parents build resilience in children, making them less susceptible to bullying or abuse outside the home, and encouraging them to speak to their parents about any fears or concerns.

“As well as the conscious effort to cut down on screen-time, some parents benefit from additional support, such as dropping in for a chat or attending support groups at children’s centres, to learn how to better connect with their children.”

The children’s charity has published a series of tips to help parents to get their children to “unplug” from their TV and computer screens. These include planning family activities that do not include technology, and creating a weekly schedule based on the idea of one hour of technology use equalling one hour on other activities.

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PM facing discrimination, Dutton pressure

Labor continues to pursue the government over the Jamie Briggs affair, calling on the federal police to investigate the leaked photo of the public servant who complained about the former minister.

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Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has all but ruled out an investigation, even though he said Mr Briggs shouldn’t have shared the photo of the female public servant which ended up in the media.

But shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus says the “federal police or some other appropriate agency” should be called in to look into the matter.

Mr Dreyfus linked the Briggs affair to the government’s delay in appointing a full time Sex Discrimination Commissioner, four months after Elizabeth Broderick left the post.

Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs has been acting in the role, while Attorney-General George Brandis told parliament in November an “announcement will be made very soon”.

Mr Dreyfus said it’s unacceptable women suffering discrimination have been left with no dedicated advocate for four months.

“I’m floored that the government doesn’t seem to care that Australia has no Sex Discrimination Commissioner,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

The Greens have also called on Mr Turnbull to sack immigration minister Peter Dutton who labelled News Corp journalist Samantha Maiden a “mad f***ing witch” over a column she wrote criticising Mr Briggs.

The prime minister has described Mr Dutton’s text, which he accidentally sent to Ms Maiden instead of Mr Briggs, as clearly inappropriate.

But Greens leader Richard di Natale said Mr Dutton should be replaced by a “capable woman”.

“There’s no question there is a boy’s club in Canberra,” Senator Di Natale told reporters in Melbourne.

The actions of Mr Briggs and Mr Dutton have dominated the start of an election year for the coalition.

Mr Turnbull’s predecessor on Wednesday urged him to keep his promise of holding the poll toward the end of the year.

Tony Abbott made the comment while renewing his push for a registered organisations commission and the re-establishment of the construction watchdog, following royal commission findings into trade unions.

“Swift passage of the `clean unions’ legislation should mean an election at the usual time towards the end of the year as the prime minister has promised,” he wrote in The Australian.

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Vic govt wants Aust-wide hoverboard ban

Hoverboards could be banned in Australia after an explosive fire destroyed a Melbourne home.

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Victoria’s consumer affairs minister Jane Garrett has written to her federal counterpart Kelly O’Dwyer, asking her to consider a permanent ban of the toy following the blaze on Monday.

She has also spoken to colleagues in other states, and says there is widespread concern.

“It has been an issue that has caught the attention of consumer affairs officials right across the country,” Ms Garrett told reporters on Wednesday.

“We just can’t take those risks with, particularly, children’s safety.”

A hoverboard charging in a Strathmore home triggered a fire 10 minutes after it was plugged in on Monday night.

Fire investigators say the toy’s battery exploded, setting the device alight and sparking a fire which spread quickly through the home.

Ash Ibraheim fled with his four daughters and pets after trying to extinguish the blaze with a bucket of water.

Energy Safe Victoria said the unmarked hoverboard, purchased from a NSW distributor, did not comply with national safety standards.

The regulator is trying to figure out the model and supplier of the board, and what part of the toy triggered the battery explosion.

Authorities are urging consumers to check hoverboards they may have at home, with seven products recalled to date.

The device and its charger should be stamped with the Australian Regulatory Compliance Mark, a tick surrounded by a triangle.

If they’re not, the toy is probably illegal and dangerous, and it should be reported and returned, energy and resources minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.

“Please do not risk it. It is simply not worth it,” she said.

A squad of inspectors started visiting stores around Victoria on Wednesday, making sure they’re selling safe models that hadn’t been recalled.

Non-compliant products will be seized, with individuals doing the wrong thing facing fines of $4000 and companies $20,000.

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Malaysia Airlines lifts baggage ban

Malaysia Airlines says it has lifted a ban on check-in baggage on flights to Paris and Amsterdam, after the move angered many passengers who slammed the airline on social media.

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The U-turn came less than 24 hours after the airline announced that passengers cannot check-in baggage for Tuesday and Wednesday flights to the two European cities due to “unseasonably strong headwinds” on a longer flight path it is taking.

The airline said it recently had to operate a longer route to Europe, via Egyptian airspace, for safety reasons.

It said strong headwinds over the past four days were in excess of 200 knots, which can add up to 15 per cent to fuel burn on its Boeing 777 aircraft.

“Based on its current risk assessment, done on a daily basis, the airline is now able to take a shorter route on European flights. Malaysia Airlines maintains that safety is of utmost priority in its operations and will not hesitate to adjust its flight path based on its daily risk assessment,” it said in a brief statement.

It didn’t elaborate on the change in route, and airline officials could not be reached immediately for comment. A Malaysia Airlines jet flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a missile in eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

Many passengers left angry comments on the airline’s Facebook page, slamming it for being the only airline to impose such a ban.

Some of them said the airline should have limited the number of passengers and rejected freight instead. Others asked for a refund of their tickets.

Losses of two flights in 2014 hit the finances of already struggling Malaysia Airlines. One flight heading to Beijing disappeared and is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean. That tragedy was followed months later by the Ukraine disaster.

Last year, the airline appointed its first foreign CEO, Christoph Mueller, the former head of Ireland’s Aer Lingus, to oversee a major restructuring.

Mueller has said the airline can break even by 2018 after cutting 6000 staff, selling surplus aircraft and refurbishing its international fleet.

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Car industry needs govt help on emissions

Australia’s peak car industry body is calling on all levels of government to step up their efforts to tackle vehicle emissions.

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Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber says new passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles contribute less than one per cent of Australia’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.

“There’s been quite a remarkable reduction in CO2 emissions from the Australian fleet over the last decade – 2.4 per cent per annum,” he said.

“I doubt that there’s any other sector that’s contributed more in the last decade than what new cars have done in terms of CO2 reduction.”

In order to escalate the process, Mr Weber called on federal, state and local governments to implement a more holistic approach to the issue rather than just focusing on making vehicles more fuel efficient.

He wants to see a debate about the use of alternative fuels and energy platforms.

Instructing driver behaviour, infrastructure improvements to reduce congestion and price signals are also critical, he said.

“We need to actually educate people about what they can do to change the way they drive to improve their own (fuel) efficiency,” he said.

“Other countries give advantages to people who purchase more environmentally friendly vehicles – we don’t have those kind of initiatives here.”

Toyota’s executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the issue was more complex than simply supporting a financial leg up from government for electric cars.

“It’s a lot broader than that, it’s not just electric vehicles, it’s hydrogen vehicles, it’s hybrid vehicles,” he said.

“But Toyota does support some government systems to encourage the general population to move towards these more environmentally friendly options.”

The comments follow the US Justice Department’s decision to sue Volkswagen over last September’s emissions-cheating scandal which wiped billions of euros off the German carmaker’s market value and forced out its long-standing chief executive.

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Life-size dinosaurs roam digital zoo in Brisbane

A team of video game developers have collaborated with palaeontologist Dr Scott Hocknull to create a large-scale dinosaur zoo at Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) digital learning space, The Cube.

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The installation lets people observe and interact with 10 iconic life-size dinosaurs, including the T-Rex and the Australian Australovenator.

“Dino Zoo really is as close to a Jurassic World experience as you can possibly get – and it’s based on hard evidence and scientific understanding,” Cube Studio manager Sean Druitt said in a press statement. “Our animals live just on the other side of the glass, and none of them have broken out yet.”

The landscape displayed at The Cube has been created entirely from scratch, with the animated dinosaurs and pterosaurs programmed with an artificial intelligence. The dinosaurs move, hunt and graze in the digital environment entirely without external control.

“This is a zoo in the true sense of the word – we’ve set the animals loose behind the glass and we can’t control what they do or when they do it,” said Druitt.

The team prides itself on scientific accuracy. “We used direct evidence from the fossil record to rebuild these extinct animals and their environment,” Druitt explained. “We also observed their closest living relatives – birds and crocodiles – and this gave us the perfect palette to bring the Dino Zoo world to life.”

“We’ve set the animals loose behind the glass and we can’t control what they do or when they do it.”

The Cube at QUT is one of the world’s largest interactive digital learning environments. The large room is two storeys high and contains 48 multi-touch screens, 55 custom-made speakers, and 14 HD projectors.

Touch-screen activities include a digital pit where kids can learn the craft of a palaeontologist by digging up bones. There’s also an Earth extinction simulator, which lets you pick different life wipe-out scenarios – from volcano to comet.

The facility is located at QUT’s Science and Engineering Centre. Environments generated at The Cube let anyone visualise science and even participate in research projects. Previous exhibitions include an interactive large-scale sci-fi game and virtual chemistry experiments deemed too large or dangerous for the school classroom.

Watch some Vines of the dinosaurs in action:

Dino Zoo will be running at The Cube from 6-26 January.

 

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SA shrine for dead father, sons to remain

The makeshift shrine marking the spot where Port Lincoln man Damien Little drove off the edge of a wharf, killing himself and his two young sons, will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

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As the Eyre Peninsula community continues to grieve, Flinders Ports, which operates the wharf, says it has moved the hundreds of flowers, teddy bears and other items back from the edge of the water at the request of relatives but has no immediate plans to remove the shrine altogether.

Early on Monday, Mr Little drove his car off the wharf and into 30 metres of water along with 10-month-old Hunter and four-year-old Koda.

His family has since revealed the 34-year-old had suffered from mental health issues over the past three years.

“We had noticed a change,” his mother Sue told the Adelaide Advertiser.

“We tried to help him, we all did. But you can’t help somebody who can’t help himself.”

The revelations of Mr Little’s troubled life came as community members said he was respected and well liked.

“It’s just a shocking thing to have happen out of the blue and for no reason that we knew of,” Wheatsheaf Hotel owner Peter Watherston said.

“He and his brother used to pop out for a beer.”

South Australian commissioner for victims’ rights Michael O’Connell urged people not to rush to blame Mr Little, even those who found murder by a parent to be among the “cruellest of tragedies”.

“We do not know the reasons Damien did what he appears to have done and speculating helps neither the family nor the people of Port Lincoln,” he said.

Mr Little’s parents and other relatives visited the wharf on Tuesday as police released two family photos that appeared to show a happy couple and their children.

In one, Mr Little and his wife Melissa are sitting on a beach with their two smiling young boys resting in their laps.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78

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Menzel relishing pre-season Cats slog

Long lost Cat Daniel Menzel expects four seasons in the AFL wilderness to have made him a better player.

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Menzel’s return to action last year after four knee reconstructions in as many years was the feel-good story of the season.

The 24-year-old is now in the middle of a notoriously taxing AFL pre-season and has every reason to believe he’ll prosper.

And this pre-season, he’s enjoying the company.

“I’m used to running around the outside of the oval on my own,” he said on Wednesday.

“To actually train every day … it is really difficult but to be with the full group, it doesn’t matter how difficult it is, it’s all worth it.”

The temptation might be to see his time on the sidelines as wasted but the forward doesn’t think so.

Instead, Menzel believes the lonely hours with the boundary line and barbells for friends have improved his AFL-readiness.

“There’s no reason why you can’t come back stronger and a more complete player,” he said.

“In my case (after) four years in the gym, you should be stronger.

“You should be more powerful, should be more athletic.

“The agility and the game sense will take time but there’s so many positives you can take out of it.”

Menzel certainly didn’t need much adjustment in his comeback game.

The No.10 was Geelong’s best in a loss to Collingwood that ended their finals hopes, kicking four goals and taking 20 touches.

He expects to play a couple of pre-season matches before embarking on a first full campaign since 2011.

Menzel said he still faces a “massive mental battle” along with his physical challenges.

“You can’t have four ACL reconstructions and come back completely perfect,” he said.

“Agility, tackling, I’m not where where I want to be … there’s absolutely a lot of areas to work on.”

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First Day: The pioneering surgeon who came to Australia on a leaky boat

It’s hard to say exactly what was the first day Dr Munjed Al Muderis spent in Australia.

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Was it the day he arrived at Christmas Island, an Australian territory, after a hellish 36 hours at sea crammed together with more than 100 other people on a leaky boat?

Was it the day he was brought to the Australian mainland, taken to an immigration detention centre and issued with a number that would be used as his name for the next 10 months?

Or was it the day he was released with little more than the few possessions he arrived with including $US3000 from his mother that he had taped to his stomach to avoid detection from people smugglers?

Fifteen years later, that first taste of freedom still burns in his brain.

“That was pretty much one of the happiest days of my life,” he says. “Just to see the gates open and be on the other side of those barbed wires, it was an unimaginable feeling.”

At his medical practice in Sydney, where he lives today, the waiting room is almost full. Patients flick through magazines or stare at their phones as Dr Al Muderis comes in and out, beckoning one after the other over small, rectangular reading glasses. When the waiting room clears and we finally sit down to talk, it’s almost 6pm. He has been there since 6.30 that morning. His wife is due to give birth the next day, he tells us. A little girl who will be called Jasmine.

A horrific moment

Munjed Al Muderis was working as a surgical resident at a hospital in Baghdad when he arrived to work one day in late October 1999.

The 27-year-old had been living comfortably in his home city up until that time, largely unaffected by the dictatorship that had been in place since Saddam Hussein came into power in 1979.

But Dr Al Muderis’ working day was interrupted when military police entered the hospital with three busloads of army deserters and ordered the doctors to cancel their elective surgeries and cut off parts of the men’s ears.

Were you born overseas? We’d love to hear about your first impression of Australia as a new migrant. Contact us on [email protected]杭州桑拿会所,杭州桑拿网, or via Twitter @SBSNews using the hashtag #FirstDaySBS

“My boss refused to cut their ears off and he was dragged out and a bullet was put in his head,” he says. “They did that in the carpark in front of everybody and that was a horrifying moment.”

Dr Al Muderis managed to run to a women’s toilet where he stayed for five hours until the guards had left. “By escaping and refusing to perform these atrocities, I became a traitor to the government, and as a result of that the punishment would be execution,” he says. “Basically, my life was on the line. If I got found, I would be shot.”

He took a taxi to the outskirts of Baghdad and hid there for a few days before travelling to Jordan and on to Malaysia.

In the capital, Kuala Lumpur, he arranged a meeting with a people smuggler. “[He] pretty much looked like Steve Irwin,” Dr Al Muderis recalls. The man demanded he hand over his passport and a large sum of money, and the next day gave him a visa and a ticket to Indonesia.

“In Jakarta there were hundreds of people waiting to seek asylum somewhere,” Dr Al Muderis says. “They didn’t know whether they were going to Australia or America or Europe, and a lot of them were desperate…it was a dire situation.”

“There were 165 people on a leaky boat that was not seaworthy,” he says. “The sea was very rough; it was raining all the time.

“By the end of the journey there were less than 10 who were conscious. Everybody else was pretty much comatose and drowning in their own body fluid.”

The group arrived at Christmas Island and was met by Australian Federal Police, who he says treated them well. The island was mainly used for phosphate mining back then and had no immigration detention centre.

As one of the few asylum seekers who could speak English, Dr Al Muderis was an asset to police, who asked him to act as an interpreter when they went out to intercept another incoming boat days later.

Despite the strangeness of this scenario, Dr Al Muderis smiles as he describes going out to sea with one of the officials.

“He pulled a satellite phone from his pocket and handed it over me and he said to me, ‘Don’t let anyone see you, don’t tell anyone because I’m putting my job on the line here. Dial the number, call your family and tell them that you’re safe.’

“I’m forever thankful to this guy.”

“The first thing that was said to us was, ‘You are not welcome in Australia. Australian people do not want you here, and if you decide to return to the country you came from, we will facilitate your return. If you decide to stay, you will stay here indefinitely and we don’t know when you will be processed.'”

The asylum seekers were all issued with numbers – Dr Al Muderis was 982 – which were used from there onward. “It was total humiliation,” he says.

One of the women detained at Curtin, who had also been on the boat, he would later marry.

Dr Al Muderis was kept in isolation for much of his 10-month stretch inside the detention centre – targeted, he says, for being outspoken against the staff’s treatment of detainees. “We were left in the middle of the desert, called by numbers, surrounded by barbed wire and treated with extreme hostility.”

On August 26, 2000, he was released from the centre and out the front door. It was almost a year since he had left Iraq and now he was standing in the Australian desert with a small bundle of possessions and instructions for how to get a bus to Broome.

“My first impression of Australia was that people were happy,” he says. “On the bus I met a few people and I started playing poker with them and pretty much I started making friends on the first day.”

He travelled to Perth and on to Adelaide and eventually Melbourne to stay with a relative. All the while he was focused on one thing – work.

“As soon as I was released, I printed my CV and pretty much sent it to every hospital in Australia and within two weeks I had two job interviews,” he says.

The soldier, Lieutenant Alistair Spearing, was fitted with new prosthetic legs as part of ground-breaking treatment pioneered by Dr Al Muderis. The procedure meant Lieutenant Spearing could now walk short distances.

Since he arrived in Australia, Dr Al Muderis has become a leading orthopedic surgeon and a pioneer in osseointegration technology, which involves the fusing of bone and prosthetic. He has performed more robotic-leg surgeries than anyone in the world.

“Living in a war-torn country like Iraq, I’d seen a lot of people who lost their limbs and I always wanted to do something about that,” he says.

In 2014, Dr Al Muderis was invited by the Queen to attend a ceremony honouring British rifleman Michael Swain, who had both his legs blown off in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2009. The visit from Prince Harry, himself a former soldier, came in May 2015.

This April, Dr Al Muderis and his team will travel to the United Kingdom to perform surgeries on 20 more British soldiers injured fighting in the Middle East.

He met his current wife, Irina, when they were both working in a hospital in a country town in northeastern New South Wales. She is a doctor too, and a migrant from Russia. They have two daughters, Sophia, 6, and Amelia Jasmine, born the day after our interview on December 3, 2015.

At his medical practice in Bella Vista, Dr Al Muderis picks up a small model of a knee joint from his desk and begins to explain how it works. He is proud of what he has built in Australia and happy to call the country home. “Without Australia and without being here I would never be able to achieve what I’ve achieved,” he says.

But he says he has been dismayed by the the government’s attitude to asylum seekers.

“I am a very strong supporter of stopping the boats, don’t get me wrong,” he says. “But the solution in my opinion is not by using our honourable navy and air force to turn these boats back.

“The solution would be finding reasonable processing facilities in the path countries; spending the $12 billion we spend on border protection establishing processing centers in places like Malaysia and Indonesia, instead of wasting taxpayers money on other countries that are not related to refugees such as Cambodia.”

He says if he had his time again he would still have boarded the boat but that was because he had no other choice. “There was no place to go to. There were no camps that I could hide in.”

And he hopes to see more refugees resettled in Australia as conflict rages in Syria and other parts of the Middle East.

“The world is going through a major crisis,” he says. “There are 59.5 million displaced people. Five million are in urgent need of placement. The vast majority of them are not as lucky as I was.”

Dr Al Muderis has strong memories of his own time in detention, and views on the policy.

“The first time I was processed was on 17 May, 2000 despite having arrived on Australian soil on the 8th of November, 1999. To me this was not just inhumane, it was ineffective and a costly experience for the taxpayers.”

But it didn’t taint his positivity about his new home when he was eventually released.

“I always tell people that negative energy is never going to make us better. I turned my back on the detention centre and I decided to move forward.

“People are people. There is the good, the bad, the ugly, but the good thing about Australia is that most people are good.”

This story was produced as part of the SBS series, First Day, airing on SBS World News throughout January.

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