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Unis 'demanding' foreign students be passed

Unis 'demanding' foreign students be passed

Reporter: Heather Ewart

KERRY O'BRIEN: Universities around Australia start the year with a contentious issue already on
their plates, the bitter debate raging among academics over a report prepared by Monash University
demographer, Professor Bob Birrell, about the standard of English in tertiary institutions. The
report contends that many foreign students are being accepted into universities even though their
English is below an acceptable standard. Academics supporting the Birrell report say that
university hierarchies are demanding that some students be passed even though their English is
barely intelligible. Heather Ewart reports.

HEATHER EWART: It's a time honoured ritual. What's known as Orientation Week, to introduce new
students to the joys of university life, is now in full swing at campuses around the country. But
as they party, debate rages in academic and political circles about the English language skills of
a growing influx of overseas students. Are our tertiary institutions dumbing down to grab the extra
revenue these students offer?

PROF MILES LEWIS, ARCHITECTURE, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE: They don't want to admit it on paper
because it would be embarrassing. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, we need the money, we can't afford to
maintain the standards.

PETER MCPHEE, DEP VICE-CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE: Certainly we have seen overseas
students as important in terms of part of the revenue base of the university.

HEATHER EWART: Around one million students have enrolled at Australian universities this year; a
quarter are from overseas. To get the necessary visa, they must pass an international English
language test to show they have competent English. It's this report from Professor Bob Birrell at
Melbourne's Monash University that questions whether that's good enough. His findings that a third
of overseas graduates given permanent residency in 2005-06 couldn't demonstrate English competency
in standard Immigration Department tests have rocked the academic community.

PROF BOB BIRRELL, POPULATION RESEARCH, MONASH UNIVERSITY: It seems pretty obvious from the results
at the end of the line, when they actually complete their education at the higher level, that many
of them did not have good English or modest English when they started.

DR CAROL WILLIAMS, MONASH UNIVERSITY: There is a great sense of frustration when you see before you
work that makes little sense.

PETER MCPHEE: Of course universities get together and discuss these sorts of issues, but it's very
important that when someone like Professor Birrell issues a report like that, that universities
don't simply say we're ignoring it.

JULIE BISHOP, EDUCATION MINISTER: I'm happy to work with universities if there's a widespread
problem but, to date, it's just accusations and allegations. I want to see some evidence.

HEATHER EWART: University of Melbourne architecture professor Miles Lewis claims to have the
evidence to back the Birrell findings. He's complied bloopers from exam papers submitted by first
year overseas students and here's one example of an answer to the question on the origins of
European architecture.

MILES LEWIS: "The later churches, developed from the original basilica, is usually enter what a
narthex and there two transepes found on north and south for dormitoned the cherry."

HEATHER EWART: What did you make of that?

MILES LEWIS: I couldn't make anything of it.

JULIE BISHOP: Well, I don't know who that student was, but obviously that is not a proficient use
of English, but it's incumbent upon our universities to maintain standards.

PETER MCPHEE: We cannot have students who graduate from the University of Melbourne who continue to
express themselves in that way. We mustn't, it's not fair to them, it's not fair to the reputation
of this university.

MILES LEWIS: Well, I have a list of about 30 such answers in a class of maybe 180 and, in the end,
some of these students not only passed but got Honours, because the standards were pushed up so far
to achieve an overall pass rate.

PETER MCPHEE: About half the students in question did fail; it's not a question of people who
express themselves so poorly simply being pushed through.

HEATHER EWART: But Professor Miles wasn't satisfied. He wrote a letter of complaint to the
Vice-Chancellor last year, claiming there was pressure to lower standards to accommodate overseas
students.

MILES LEWIS: Under extreme pressure. We're supposed to confirm to a sort of average profile of
marks and, indeed, the faculty can override you and change the marks. There is an internal
committee run by the Dean, who has the final option of adjusting the marks however he or she wishes
to do.

HEATHER EWART: Is that fair?

MILES LEWIS: I don't think it's unfair in the sense it prejudices any particular student, but it's
certainly corrupt and unacceptable.

PETER MCPHEE: If a senior academic expresses those concerns then plainly they have to be taken
seriously, and they were.

HEATHER EWART: The university strongly denies any wrongdoing, and says a thorough investigation
showed no rampant grade inflation.

PETER MCPHEE: But any academic institution, whether it's a school or a university, or a TAFE
college, obviously has to have processes that look at student outcomes and whether they seem to be
reasonably consistent.

HEATHER EWART: Does an internal committee of the faculty headed by the Dean have the option of
adjusting marks?

PETER MCPHEE: Once there's been the right level of consultation. I mean, it's not simply a question
of an individual saying these marks are being altered.

CAROL WILLIAMS: There's no directive to pass international students. There's no encouragement for
us to deal with soft marking, but there is a strong sense that we should walk the extra mile to
assist these students in getting to where we need them to be to make the grade. That confection, I
think, ultimately speaks of lower standards.

HEATHER EWART: Does this mean that it may not be a spoken pressure, but there is a subtle pressure,
to pass these overseas students even if they're not really up to the mark?

CAROL WILLIAMS: I don't think anybody would deny that.

HEATHER EWART: Scratch the surface of academia and you find this is an issue that has clearly been
simmering for some time. At other campuses there is talk of directives to pass overseas students,
as research on 10 universities by senior lecturer Tracey Bretag revealed.

TRACEY BRETAG, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA: The issue came out loud and clear from everybody that
there were various directives to overturn grades. In some cases heads of schools or deans had
actually changed the grades without the knowledge or consent of the academic. In other cases staff
were given directives to aim towards a particular pass rate, up to even 90 per cent.

HEATHER EWART: Several professors and lecturers at universities around Australia refused our
request to be interviewed because, they said, they were worried it could damage their careers, or
they might appear racist. All privately voiced concerns about English standards. The boom in
overseas students is greatest in universities specialising in IT, accounting and commerce, because
a change in immigration rules enables them to apply for permanent residency once they graduate.
Regional universities like the University of Central Queensland are setting up campuses in the
heart of Melbourne and Sydney to cater for thousands of them. They're known as shop-front unis.

BOB BIRRELL: They actually they simply take leases of established office buildings and convert them
for academic purposes by providing classroom, banks of computers, tiny libraries, and I think
that's the main point of entry for students whose English is relatively weak.

HEATHER EWART: The University of Central Queensland insists it has high standards, and argues
perfect grammar is an outdated concept.

DR ALLISON OWENS, CENTRAL QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY: If you don't get your grammar quite right but if
you know your subject and if you can solve a problem in IT or if you can provide a profit and loss
report for a business person, what does it matter that you managed in the wrong tense at that point
or that you've got the article where you shouldn't have it, you know?

HEATHER EWART: At present the minimum standard for English required by overseas students is level
6, meaning competent English, but for those who don't pass the test first off, they can try the
back door by studying English at Australian institutions, or do their final year of secondary
schooling here. There's a lot of variation.

PETER MCPHEE: We need to be confident that we have the right processes and standards in place,
because all of us are affected by this.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Heather Ewart with that report.

Australia to pull plug on light bulbs

Australia to pull plug on light bulbs

Reporter: Matt Peacock

KERRY O'BRIEN: After all the current talk about the impact of global warming, today we saw the
first tangible evidence of the kind of impact to be felt in Australian households. Under a
Government plan unveiled today, power hungry light bulbs will be phased out in favour of more
energy-efficient globes within the next three years. As well as saving money, the new globes will
reduce the nation's annual greenhouse gas emissions but, according to a study prepared by power
generators, consumers could soon face even bigger changes if the introduction of an emission
trading system puts a price on power station pollution. Matt Peacock reports.

MATT PEACOCK: For more than a century, Australia's thrived on some of the world's cheapest power,
generated by huge deposits of the world's cheapest coal. But those days are now numbered in the
race for bright ideas to stop global warming.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: You've all got light bulbs like this in your house,

MATT PEACOCK: Today Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a ban on the old power
hungry incandescent light bulbs within three years.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: By 2015, when the incandescent light bulb will only be found in a museum, it will
mean Australia is emitting four million tons less of carbon dioxide than it otherwise would be.

PETER GARRETT, OPPOSITION ENVIRONMENT SPOKESMAN: It will make a difference, and we need a whole lot
more things like this, because it won't make a substantial difference. It's an idea that's been
around for some time, but it's good to see it there.

PAUL GILDING, EASY BEING GREEN: I think first of all we should celebrate the fact that we've now
got politicians competing to see who can cut the most CO2 the fastest. That's a very good thing for
the environment, a good thing for the economy, actually, as well.

MATT PEACOCK: Former Greenpeace head turned consultant, Easy Being Green's Paul Gilding, has hailed
the move.

PAUL GILDING: Around 20 per cent of emissions in Australia come from the home. So, for example, if
we all changed our light bulbs, we could shut down a 1,000 megawatt coal fired power station. So
we're talking across the country a lot of power, so it really does make a significant difference.

MATT PEACOCK: Planet Ark's Jon Dee has been pushing the light bulb idea for years.

JON DEE, PLANET ARK: For every single one of those that we get rid of and we replace with an energy
saver like this, each household is going to save about $30 a bulb.

MATT PEACOCK: But according to Australia's power generators, consumers will soon have to embrace
even bigger changes to their household.

JOHN BOSHIER, NATIONAL GENERATORS FORUM: Over the next 20 years we can expect to see electricity
prices nearly double if we have emissions trading. So people will want to put in new efficient
light bulbs and they will want to put in things like, for example, insulation in their roofs,
because it will suit them to do so.

MATT PEACOCK: The coal fired power stations that generate most of the country's electricity are
also the biggest single source of greenhouse gas. Their operators are now confronting a bigger
issue than light bulbs, what they see as an inevitable cost being placed on their greenhouse gas
emissions.

JOHN BOSHIER: Emissions trading is going to be the only way to go.

MATT PEACOCK: Emissions trading, that is, buying and selling the right to pollute the atmosphere
with greenhouse gas, is already a reality but only for the countries who have already signed up to
the Kyoto treaty. Recently, though, the Howard Government began investigating a scheme for
Australia.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We certainly need to put a price on carbon. The emissions trading concept allows
much greater flexibility and it allows the market to work. I've got no doubt Australia will be part
of an emissions trading scheme, a global scheme, in the future. We're looking at how we make that
transition, how we prepare for a global scheme, through the Prime Minister's emissions trading task
group.

PETER GARRETT: Clearly we can't have a sensible discussion about how we meet our future energy
needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions unless we've got a national emissions trading scheme
factored into that discussion.

MATT PEACOCK: Today the generators' forum released a detailed study of the most likely scenarios
into Australia's power future, depending on just what price a tonne of carbon pollution might cost
them.

JOHN BOSHIER: We can see in this graph that all existing coal fired power stations are closed down
by 2050. It's an extraordinary situation.

MATT PEACOCK: So what does the generators' research say? Anything up to $20 a tonne for carbon,
there will be no incentive to change. Coal will remain king and greenhouse emissions continue to
soar. Above $20 a tonne, say the generators, nuclear may become viable but it will take at least 12
years to build a reactor and there's strong political opposition. Over $30 a tonne, then so called
clean coal, that's capturing and burying coal's carbon dioxide, might kick in, but it's yet to be
proven as even viable. And at $40 a tonne, most renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hot
rocks, say the generators, become viable alternatives.

JOHN BOSHIER: Well, at $40 a tonne we're assuming that a half of all emissions would be captured
and buried underground. Now, that is a very big undertaking. A quarter of all energy would come
from renewable sources, wind, solar, and the remainder would be natural gas. So natural gas would
play a very important role in the long term future if there are no major new technology
breakthroughs.

MATT PEACOCK: But Paul Gilding warns against picking any winners.

PAUL GILDING: I don't think we know yet whether clean coal is real or not. We don't know whether
clean nuclear is real or not. What we do know is, if we put a price on carbon, the market will
fight that out and determine the right answer.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: We've got a task group looking at this issue and they will take into account this
National Generators' Forum report, which is a very valuable one, a very good contribution. That
will be fed into the mix and then the Government will get the benefit of the task group in May.

PETER GARRETT: We have every opportunity, if we apply our energy, our science, and our investment
monies, in producing a coal industry where clean coal technology plays its important part and its
important role, just as we should invest in a range of those energy sources, including geothermal,
solar thermal and solar and wind.

MATT PEACOCK: And what does all this mean for the average electricity bill?

JOHN BOSHIER: The real crucial policy point in Australia is whether there should be deep cuts in
emissions or not. If there are deep cuts in emissions, and by that, I mean, a half of present
emissions, then in a retail sense you can expect electricity prices to rise by 40 per cent in about
10 years' time.

PAUL GILDING: We waste electricity, we waste fuel, we waste petrol in the country like you wouldn't
believe. So if we pay more per unit, but we pay less overall because we're using more efficiently,
we may well be better off overall.

MATT PEACOCK: Whatever the Federal Government does it needs to do it soon, say the generators,
within the next year.

JOHN BOSHIER: The public, I think, is putting more and more pressure on the generators to be seen
to be doing something about climate change. We're trying to respond to that pressure and as a
result we are looking for an agreement between the States and the Commonwealth as to what kind of
emissions trading scheme there is going to be and when it will be introduced.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Matt Peacock with that report.

Anglican Archbishop condemns unification plan

Anglican Archbishop condemns unification plan

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

KERRY O'BRIEN: The London Times caused a buzz through the Christian world overnight with a story
that the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches are close to embracing a proposal for unity. A body
called the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, formed more than
six years ago, has produced a report encompassing a number of measures being considered right now
within the Vatican. According to the Times, the report said, quote, we urge Anglicans and Roman
Catholics to explore together how the ministry of the Bishop of Rome might be offered and received
in order to assist our communions to grow towards full ecclesial communion; in other words, one
church, united under the Pope. The Catholic co chair of the commission, Brisbane's Archbishop John
Bathersby, and his Anglican counterpart on the commission, South African Bishop David Beetge, have
poured cold water on the Times story, describing it as unfortunate. It seems as if unity, even in
terms of its proponents, is some way off. But, according to Sydney's Anglican Archbishop, Dr Peter
Jensen, it's a case of never, never. Not in this life, anyway. I spoke with Dr Jensen earlier
tonight.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Archbishop Jensen, can you imagine a day when Anglicans and Roman Catholics are
united as one church?

PETER JENSEN, ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP OF SYDNEY: No, Kerry, not this side of Heaven. In Heaven, we'll
all be one church.

KERRY O'BRIEN: That's not a bad answer.

PETER JENSEN: But not in this life.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Why?

PETER JENSEN: Because there's no need for it. The churches are really big institutions,
denominations. They have grand histories, that's fine, but they're not the real Church. There's one
real Church that all Christians now belong to and although there is some use in, perhaps,
denominational mergers from time to time, I don't really see any need for the churches to unite in
that way.

KERRY O'BRIEN: How hard would it be for the Anglican church to accept one central authority, that
is, the Pope?

PETER JENSEN: If I said impossible, that's what's on my mind. It is impossible. There may be some
Anglicans who would, Anglicanism is a very big body of people, but not the Anglican Church that I
know, because we deliberately made the decision, hundreds of years ago, that there was one head of
the church, Jesus Christ, and not the Pope and that's why we are not part of the Roman Catholic
church.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The world is a bigger place now, it's a vastly different place in the way it
functions as a globe. You don't think there's ever room to rethink?

PETER JENSEN: There's always room to rethink, and one of the things we have rethought is our
relationships. I'm glad to say that the old sectarianism has virtually disappeared. I grew up with
the last bit of it, it was pretty ugly and we've now got rid of it and I'm glad to say that
relationships between us here in Australia, for example, are excellent. So that sort of rethink,
yes. But the sort of rethink which says that somehow the Pope of Rome is going to be in charge of
all Christians, never.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And yet there is this formal body to which your church is a part, which is
considering these very questions. Now, if we take your view, that's a complete waste of time?

PETER JENSEN: Yes, I have to say that part of the story is a little bit misleading. These
discussions have been going on for the last 35 years. The famous leaked report from London is, I
think, the Times of London getting ahead of itself. The ideas it refers to have been around, as I
say, for the last 25 years and they have not met with acceptance around the Anglican world and so
the report itself, I have to say, is a little bit of a furphy.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But they do seem to be quoting directly from the document and the joint church
commission report, we're told, now sitting with the Vatican, the report, for consideration,
apparently acknowledges the imperfect communion between the two churches but say there is enough
common ground to make a call for action about the Pope and other issues. Do you not think that that
accurately reflects the mood within the broader Anglican Church community?

PETER JENSEN: No. I think when committees get together, people learn to like each other, get on
well together. These committees have been high-powered, I wouldn't want to put their work aside and
say it wasn't, it was very high-powered stuff, and people made progress together and some issues
which we thought we were quite opposed on have turned out to be less of an issue than we thought.
So there's been good process at that point. But when it comes to asking Anglicans to become part of
the Roman Catholic communion by accepting the Pope, well, some Anglicans would certainly consider
that, but the majority of us would not and as a matter of principle. It's not a matter of being
biased against Roman Catholics, but it is a matter of deep principle with us. We'd prefer to say,
you become Anglicans.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The report suggests drawing up special protocols to handle the movement of clergy
from one church to the other, common teaching resources for children at Sunday schools and
attendances at each other's services. Do you see any virtue in any of those?

PETER JENSEN: Yes, all to the good. I think they are the sort of thing we have seen developed, not
with just the Roman Catholic Church but other churches as well. This is healthy and good, as long
as the lines of real importance are not blurred. Christians are a little bit odd in today's world.
We actually believe in objective truth, which makes us awkward. It makes us awkward with each
other, too, but I think that's a testimony worth fighting for. So there are some of those things
for which we would say yes, and they're happening now. Cardinal Pell and I meet from time to time,
we pray together but there are other points at which, no, it's not possible to make a compromise.
Now, what we've got to do is speak the truth in love to each other. Speak the truth in love.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well, there is a suggestion that Anglican bishops could be invited to accompany
Catholic bishops to Rome to meet the Pope; would you like to go with Cardinal Pell to Rome?

PETER JENSEN: I believe the Pope's coming here next year. Rome would be a wonderful place to see
and with Cardinal Pell as my guide I would see it as you would see it no other way. So it would be
very interesting, indeed. But as a theological point, no, not necessary.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And you don't think there's just a little point of historical stubbornness in this;
because of that original schism in the Church with Henry VIII, that there's just no going back?

PETER JENSEN: Stubbornness is a good thing in the right cause. I think we always need to reassess,
frankly, and I am impressed with the Roman Catholic Church. It's like a vast cathedral. It's got
immense intellectual power and aesthetic appeal. I could imagine myself in that company. I'm very
impressed with it. And I've thought about it. But I trust I'm not being stubborn when I say that
the truth bids me to do something else.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So at the same time that there's talk of a merger between the two churches, your
most senior clergy, meeting in Tanzania this week, the Primates, have issued a severe rebuke to the
American branch of the Church over gay clergy and gay unions, which could easily lead to a split. I
wonder if you can see the irony of the timing in these two stories.

PETER JENSEN: Yes, there is an irony. These conversations I've spoken of that have been going on
for 35 years have been premised on grounds that Anglicanism does represent a sort of holistic view
of truth. Since the crisis has emerged in the American Church in particular, of course, the Roman
Catholic Church has begun to query the whole basis for the discussions we've been having. Now,
they're very courteous, they haven't pulled the plug, but they have begun to question the basis and
the more that Anglicanism shows its very disparate nature, the less attractive it becomes for Roman
Catholics to talk to us. So there is an irony in it.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Perhaps you wouldn't have this problem if you had a central authority like the Pope?

PETER JENSEN: Well, that would suggest that Rome doesn't have the problem.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Perhaps not quite to the same overt degree.

PETER JENSEN: We do have one central authority, that's the Bible. What we have is a lot of people
who interpret the Bible, which is perfectly right. Each of us is accountable for interpreting the
Bible. That's our central authority. Now, that is the way that God rules his Church. That leads to
all sorts of differences of opinion. It is called Protestantism, and I'm actually in favour of it.
I think it's a good thing in the modern world.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Isn't the Bible itself an imperfect document?

PETER JENSEN: I would say it isn't, but that would be a very interesting discussion that you and I
could have.

KERRY O'BRIEN: I think that's possibly for another program. Archbishop Jensen, thanks for talking
with us.

PETER JENSEN: Thanks very much, Kerry.

Teen MS sufferer publishes book

Teen MS sufferer publishes book

Reporter: Ben Knight

KERRY O'BRIEN: Usually the Make A Wish Foundation gets some predictable requests from sick
children, understandable and predictable, like sending the family to Disneyland or meeting their
favourite celebrity. But a Melbourne teenager had a different dream. Alex Neumann has multiple
sclerosis and while battling her illness she's kept her spirits up by writing. Against all
expectations, her work has now been published and has met with an overwhelming response. Ben Knight
reports.

BEN KNIGHT: Once again, Alex Neumann is back in hospital. But this time, she's just visiting. Two
weeks ago, this 16 year old had her fourth round of chemotherapy as her doctors try to hold back
the multiple sclerosis that's attacking her body. Today she's well, but she knows the symptoms will
return.

ALEX NEUMANN, AUTHOR: It is a little bit scary when you can't see properly and you can't walk
properly and you think to yourself, am I going to end up in a wheelchair, am I going to end up
blind, is this going to affect me for the rest of my life?

BEN KNIGHT: Most likely it will because, as yet, there's no cure for MS. Multiple sclerosis is
unusual in someone so young, which makes it even harder for her parents to cope with.

GIOVANNA NEUMANN: Really difficult things for a mum to watch. She's had, you know, steroids that
have made her, you know, gain a lot of weight, very demoralising stuff. Spinal taps, you know,
things that are painful. Things that are scary.

BEN KNIGHT: It's kept her out of school for weeks on end, but she's spent that time writing what
turned into a short novel based on a girl with a terminal illness and the boy she falls in love
with.

ALEX NEUMANN: "She was sick, very sick. A visit to the hospital had confirmed it was serious."

BEN KNIGHT: The first half of the book reads like an autobiography. But then it becomes a
supernatural tale of revenge, and it's clear the lead character is not Alex Neumann.

ALEX NEUMANN: None of the characters were really based on me as it is, but I guess I worked my
emotions into there, like, not just my emotions on my fear about my illness and everything like
that, just normal teenage things.

BEN KNIGHT: Her doctor told the Make A Wish Foundation about it, who then got in touch with the
publishing house Macmillan.

BEV FRIEND, PAN MACMILLAN PUBLISHING: Normally kids ask for a trip to Disneyland or a shopping
spree or a new computer or something like this, and Alex had written a book whilst she's been ill
and all she wanted to be was published.

BEN KNIGHT: The company was originally just going to print a few hundred copies with a nice cover,
for Alex to hand around to friends and family. But, after reading it, they decided to make it a
full commercial project.

BEV FRIEND: Macmillan certainly wouldn't have published the book if it wasn't worthy of being
published, so we can get that quite clear.

BEN KNIGHT: Instead of the usual six months, the book was rushed to print in a matter of weeks.

ALEX NEUMANN: They took out a couple of things and added in a couple of things. They took out the
swear words.

BEN KNIGHT: And then, it was on the shelves.

ALEX NEUMANN: I saw it in Kmart down at Chermside Park and even though we had about 10 advance
copies already, we bought one just because it was the sake of buying my book from a store.

BEN KNIGHT: But there were bigger things to come, like the official launch and book signing.

ALEX NEUMANN: I walked in and I was still a little bit struck at how big a deal it was, because I
was expecting just a little thing in a bookshop, maybe.

BEN KNIGHT: Instead she's in Melbourne's CBD. There might be soft drink instead of wine, but this
is a serious book launch.

ALEX NEUMANN: I'm a bit nervous because I think I have to do a speech thing.

BEV FRIEND: I really could see that probably the best part of the wish would be in fact having the
launch in a bookshop with a stack of books and a whole heap of people wanting to buy her book and
have her sign it and take it home and read it.

ATTENDEE: Your hands going to be tired by the end of all this.

DR RICK LEVENTER: I think it's one of the things that's kept her optimistic and given her a focus
and allowed her to think about things other than her illness.

BEN KNIGHT: There are very few teenage authors in Australia, and Alex Neumann is no normal
teenager, something that has cost her some friendships.

ALEX NEUMANN: You lose things to talk about because they were all excited about, oh my god, that
boy's so cute, and this is so amazing, and how cool and let's go down the shops. Whereas I had to
talk about so much more.

BEN KNIGHT: So far, it's going well. The warehouse is out of stock, and both publisher and author
are keen to do the same again.

GIOVANNA NEUMANN: She has a very mature outlook and her reason for wanting to do this was very
genuine and it was showing other people out there, especially other kids going through a hard time,
that you don't have to stop, you don't have to give up.

ALEX NEUMANN: I look at it like I've done what I wanted to do. I'm normal in a lot of ways and I
know I'm not in a lot of other ways. But yeah, I just I feel like I'm a normal teenage girl.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And now for the next book. Ben Knight with that report.

the same time tomorrow but for now goodnight.