Why a cosmetic nurse became a media magnet over the Alice Springs unrest | The Weekly Beast

Cosmetic nurse’s finer biographical details glossed over by commercial media. Plus: ABC not granted camera access to George Pell’s funeral

“Outback nurse” Rachel appeared to be the perfect talent for media outlets wanting to illustrate the unrest in Alice Springs.

Northern Territory police statistics show an alarming increase in crime and Rachel was interviewed giving her opinion as to why.

The healthcare worker, who came to the attention of the media after posting a video of street fighting she filmed in Alice Springs, spoke candidly about some of the young Indigenous patients she said she had encountered in her work. Rachel told her horror stories of child abuse to Peta Credlin on Sky News, Karl Stefanovic on Today, Daily Mail Australia, Nine’s Darwin reporter Georgie Dickerson and 2GB’s Ben Fordham, among others.

I spoke to nurse Rachel Hale from #AliceSprings Who outlined some of the devastating and truly horrific levels of trauma she has witnessed on children. Change is needed.. NOW #crime https://t.co/CqNOmglWP1

— Georgie Dickerson (@GdDickerson) January 31, 2023

“Outback nurse leaves Karl speechless” was the headline on news.com.au: “An Alice Springs nurse has revealed the disturbing reason some kids roam the streets, telling of horrific sex abuse at home.”

Credlin described Rachel as being “on the frontline in Aboriginal communities” and the stories she told her in the live cross were so disturbing the Sky host was visibly distressed.

A Northern Territory nurse has exposed how the violent crime wave is affecting Alice Springs, as the PM's handling of the crisis comes under fire | @vanOnselenP #auspol pic.twitter.com/XhavjCts0I

— 10 News First (@10NewsFirst) January 31, 2023

The Daily Mail detailed Rachel’s “14 years of nursing in communities near both Alice Springs and Darwin”, but the finer details of her credentials as an eye witness in Alice Springs communities were glossed over.

We spoke to Rachel and she confirmed she has been a fulltime cosmetic nurse for two years and has never worked as a nurse in remote Indigenous communities, in Alice Springs or elsewhere in the Northern Territory. “I never said I worked in Alice,” she said.

Neither is she a resident of Alice Springs, although she was repeatedly described as one in the media. She lives in Darwin, 1,500km away, and was visiting Alice Springs to give clients injectable and laser beauty treatments when she filmed the melee and became a magnet for the media.

Rachel’s stories of alleged child abuse are drawn from the years she worked in Darwin as a community nurse as well as anecdotes from colleagues. After being attacked online as fake she has defended herself, telling news.com.au on Friday: “Yeah I work in a different profession now but it doesn’t discount what I’ve seen and what my colleagues have seen.”

Setback for Crikey

Private Media chairman Eric Beecher spends an average of one to three hours a day, seven days a week, working on Crikey’s defence, the federal court heard this week as part of the independent media company’s attempt to block Lachlan Murdoch’s bid to expand the case.

The bid was successful, however, and Murdoch was granted leave to add Beecher and his chief executive, Will Hayward, as respondents to what is going to be a lengthier and more expensive defamation trial in October.

The court was told Hayward had to restructure the business as he has to read correspondence from his lawyers, attend meetings and discuss the case all the time.

Lachlan Murdoch was granted leave to add Eric Beecher and his chief executive, Will Hayward, as respondents to what is going to be a lengthier and more expensive defamation trial.
Lachlan Murdoch was granted leave to add Eric Beecher and his chief executive, Will Hayward, as respondents to what is going to be a lengthier and more expensive defamation trial. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

But Murdoch’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou SC, argued that Crikey’s complaints about the case being time consuming and draining were at odds with its willingness to mount a public fight with the News Corp executive chairman, including the placement of a $50,000 ad in the New York Times saying “Sue us, Lachlan. We dare you” – “Or words to that effect,” Chrysanthou said.

Chrysanthou said Private Media had advice from PR firm Populares that to run a successful subscription drive “Murdoch will need to launch a defamation action against the publisher. This would provide the narrative hook point of interest difference and level of seriousness in order for this campaign to appeal to a broader base than simply Crikey’s current audience.”

Despite escalating costs, Beecher and Hayward are showing no signs of settling, reaching out to subscribers for more financial support this week. “With the court date now shifted to October, we expect our legal costs to escalate significantly,” Hayward told supporters. “Please donate whatever you can here. Please forward this email to anyone else who you think might also want to support our defence fund.”

What Katie did

British far-right figure Katie Hopkins, who was dumped as a cast member of Seven’s Big Brother VIP and deported after she boasted about breaching hotel quarantine conditions last year, has had a small win.

Hopkins posted on Instagram she had received an email from NSW Revenue that her $1,000 fine had been dropped, in line with a wider decision to drop fines.

“Dear Revenue NSW, as I told you before, you can stick your bullshit fines up your arse,” Hopkins said. “And you can stick your email cancelling my bullshit fines up your ass as well.”

Pride of place

The Australian newspaper backed George Pell right to the end. An editorial on Friday accused Anthony Albanese and Dominic Perrottet of cowardice for not attending Pell’s funeral and dismissed the ABC’s reporting on the Catholic Church and the Cardinal in the print version of the editorial as “claptrap”, “febrile” and “manifestly erroneous”. Tony Abbott’s extraordinary eulogy to Pell was given pride of place on the opinion page and a photograph of Abbott touching the coffin was published on the front page.

ABC camera ‘snub’

The animosity towards the ABC appeared to be shared by the Catholic Church, which barred the national broadcaster from taking a TV news camera into St Mary’s Cathedral to film the funeral of George Pell. An ABC reporter was allowed inside the church but the ABC had to rely on pool footage supplied by Sky News Australia, ostensibly due to space constraints.

But sources told the Sydney Morning Herald the ABC was excluded because of its “unfair” coverage.

The church gave camera access to Seven, Nine and Sky, as well as the BBC and CNN.

“The ABC applied for access to St Mary’s Cathedral and was told there was not enough space for all media,” an ABC spokesperson told Weekly Beast. “We are accessing the pool footage and the live stream.”

It is not uncommon for TV networks to pool footage for big events, but it is unusual for the national broadcaster to be denied camera access to a significant event.

Sources said the ABC applied early for camera access to St Mary’s and the decision was seen internally as a “snub”.

Kelly and Karvelas embraced by Oz

The Australian has a record of criticising the ABC but on Friday there were two ABC personalities who received glowing coverage, complete with glossy portraits over four magazine pages.

ABC broadcasters Patricia Karvelas and Fran Kelly profiled in Wish magazine’s Pride issue.
ABC broadcasters Patricia Karvelas and Fran Kelly profiled in Wish magazine’s Pride issue. Photograph: ABC

Broadcasters Patricia Karvelas and Fran Kelly were profiled in Wish magazine’s Pride issue in a reverent tone rarely seen on the pages of the paper itself. Kelly reveals there was a moment in her career where she was “fearful that my sexuality would be a negative”.

“But then I just leaned into my profession and into my work and just decided to keep doing that,” she told Wish. “I never hid who I was at all. I just decided not to make it my identity, because I never thought it was my identity; I see myself as a lot of things and that wasn’t necessarily the number one part of me.”

Frankly speaking

ABC programmer Jennifer Collins says there has been no decision yet on whether a second series of Kelly’s talk show Frankly will be commissioned. The former host of RN Breakfast made her first foray into television entertainment with the eight episode show last year.

“Fran did a really great job,” Collins told TV Tonight. “The guests were terrific. But we haven’t made a decision on that one yet.” The other big ABC name who is floating without a full time role is Leigh Sales, who will host Australian Story this year but is expected to add more to her roster.

“There’s lots of discussions with Leigh across the organisation right now,” Collins said. “We love Leigh, there’s lots of opportunities … but yes, you’ll see more of Leigh.”


Amanda Meade

The GuardianTramp

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