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Today Tonight -

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(generated from captions) On the satellite - you can see the cloud breaking up has swept out into the Tasman. now that the cloud formation is a cold air mass The speckled cloud around that low at night away from the coast and that will keep things chilly before a high slips in, for the next few days keeping skies clear around to the south. and pushing the winds of the country tomorrow Fine and sunny for most and Hobart but Adelaide a few showers. will pick up On the water: We will see clear skies tonight. The easing winds will mean will be cooler tonight, that temperatures in the west hovering around 5 degrees. along the coast. But the night will be warmer next week. before things start to warm up again Hitting the mid 20s change before another cool and showery to cap off winter. for this Friday. And that's Seven News Thanks for your company. I'm Chris Bath. for 'Sunday Night' this weekend Hope you can join me right after Seven News. But ahead on 'Today Tonight' - don't get power bills. how some people That's next. Good evening. on this Friday night. Thanks for your company We begin this evening working lives never seem to end. with the elderly Australians whose in every sense of the word, They are grandparents thrust back into parenting roles break apart for a host of reasons. after their own children's families And, as James Thomas reports, a little more recognition they're after to raise children all over again. for putting their lives on hold I had bruises, I had marks I was hit with poles, and then not only the physical side, as well. but I got damaged pretty mentally involved in alcohol and drug abuse. Both Mum and dad were, like, every night kind of hurt. Seeing my mum getting beaten up of young children shatter, When the lives pick up the pieces. an army of unsung heroes came to me, she was one. When Annaleigh and her brothers Enlisted as parents all over again, the story of grandparent carers and sacrifice. is one of endless dedication This time of my life, and enjoying my other grandchildren, I honestly expected to be travelling um, but I can't. Kay's hands have been full fell victim ever since her own daughter to a deeply violent relationship to relinquish custody of Tarsha. which forced her when I was 3.5 years old. My nan came along Tarsha still calls her 'nan', except for the nana jokes. but, in every other way, Kay is mum, Just her sense of humour - jokes that aren't funny she has all these old-fashioned but she still cracks them anyway because she thinks they are. and it's just funny that I have to myself is Thursdays The only day, really, Grandparent Support Day. and that's our Mission Australia all get together, And like-minded people talk about your children - and you can chat, and talk to your friends, whereas, if you try "Well, we don't want to listen." they go, on a grandparent. WOMAN: It is a lot of wear and tear Across Australia, offer grandparents the support groups like this one they rarely get. the little bloke, The little bloke, it's alright, George. He is eight years old, and the other night, he locked the door. that leave broken homes or, Of the 45,000 children in Australia for whatever reason, need to be looked after, the great majority end up in care or kinship carers. either with foster carers like grandparents. Kinship meaning related, as foster carers They do the same job they're different. yet, in the eyes of the state and less financial help. They get less support that needs to be rectified. This is an injustice If they have a formal agreement, certainly with more money. they will end up you are going to get. $200 is about the best It's a pittance. And that's per fortnight. State and Federal carer payments as much as $800 a fortnight can amount to is recognised by the courts. if a grandparent's carer status Ian Day says But Council on the Ageing's of subjecting the custody because they are petrified to the often harrowing experience of their loved ones of going to court. to court is that they're concerned The main reason they tend not to go involved in the decision that somebody else will get "I'm getting on, I'm in my late 60s, and they are saying, "the child's only five, 80s when the child's 18 years old." "I'm going to be getting close to my is not going to like that?" "Maybe community service to up their game a bit I think they need are as important as they don't realise grandparents as what foster carers are. is much of it is asset tested. Another problem with government help but asset rich. Grandparents are often income poor assets to look after children Why should they have to sell off the responsibility of the state? that would otherwise be approximately $40,000 a year They are already saving taxpayers for every child they care for. had an interest in an old property, As soon as they found out that I which is unfair really. I am on my soapbox now I mean, I know the kids on to the street but I could have then turfed would have had to pick them up. and then the government Dorothy Nash could never do that. Of course, she has spent the last 17 years At 87, and her brothers. raising 18-year-old Annaleigh I guess. We're sort of like best friends, the three of them, I'm still their best friend, and that's saying something that about three teenagers. because a lot of parents can't say I would not have it any other way. I have not one skerrick of regret, is if her mother had raised her. The only other way I would have it lost her own daughter 65-year-old Lynette with drugs. after a protracted struggle That's when, at age 45, she became a mum to Chantelle. The price that I had to pay, losing my daughter, was heavy. But, Shannie is just, yeah, she's a beautiful girl. After the death of her mother Lynette applied herself to mending the broken heart of a young fragile child. Today, Chantelle gives her grandma a stellar review. For me, I see it like, as normal as anyone being brought up by anyone. The only difference between being brought up by an older person is an older person can't climb up a tree with you. That's really the only difference I see. That is one of the things that worries me. Will I still be alive when the last load of grandchildren is growing up? I get scared when she went to hospital with a stroke. I was so scared. If Nan goes, we are not going to have a nan anymore. Tarsha is acutely aware that her nan is much older than other mums but she is loved just as much as any daughter and that's what matters. I absolutely adore her. I don't show it sometimes but I adore her. I want all my grandkids to be well-rounded adults, and if you have to give up your job and a few trips, well, who cares? Just so long as they are happy. They estimate each child being cared for by a grandparent saves the Australian taxpayer $40,000 a year. Now to a mighty big fuss and it's all about flying a flag - David Richardson has the story of the council that has threatened a widow with a million-dollar fine for having a flagpole on her property. I just can't believe that there would be an objection to having this flagpole in my backyard. When 77-year-old widow a keen edge of Roberts and a race this flagpole in memory of her dead husband, she had no idea of the flap it would cause. I guess I felt angry. I'm terribly upset Bowbrick, because yes, it does mean so much to me. Now the local council, shall harbour, has threatened to find her because the poll is to be gay and she did not get the development application for it. But this is the third home which has held this flagpole, with never a complaint until now. You have actually had this flagpole in three homes in this council? Yes. And never had a problem? Never, ever had a problem about it. What was to find the council threatened to with? $1 million. A bit over that. And $110,000 per day. In it lost her husband Eddie three years ago. They had been together for 57 years, so she wanted the flagfall raised in memory of his 80th birthday earlier this year. But two days after putting the nine metre flagpole up, she was told it had to come down. Is this council madness? It is, exactly. And I can't believe it is happening. In two letters from the council, she was told she had 28 days to either get an Engineer's Report or Paul the flagpole down and replace it with a smaller one. She lives on the outskirts of Wollongong, a steel city. Every way you look here, there are massive factory chimneys and stacks, some dozens and dozens of metres high. Other homes surrounding her, and all over this area, have toured television antenna. They are OK. It is just her flagpole that is the issue. It is the sentimental value of this? Of course. This is the thing that they do not understand. No, they don't. We do not go around the residential area would be Brother approach looking for non-compliance issues, and that was certainly not the case here. Shell Harbour City Council met Kelly marsh has given her guarantee to fix this embarrassing situation immediately. Can you reach a compromise your? Absolutely, yes. That is what it is all about. She won't have to drag you down, Lady Meyer? No, I assure you not. I hope one day we can have a cup of tea underneath that flagpole. Council will now send in a build-up or Engineer took so defy the flagpole is safe, and to check that the eight bags of ready mixed holding it in place are sufficient. Then it in it can continue her daily ritual of flag-raising in her husband's memory. So she will be able to keep the flag? That is certainly what we are hoping for. A happy ending? Absolutely. Still ahead tonight, up in a flash - could these be the answer to Australia's housing affordability crisis? They can be built in just days and cost as little as $40,000, but could you live in one? The innovative new housing designs are coming up shortly. Now to the modern-day hit-and-run thieves They're the con men who've perfected phone scams so clever, few people realise they're about to give important personal details to a criminal. So, tonight, Helen Wellings reports on how to know there's a fraudster on the other end of the line. It's a very convincing scam. They've really conned me out of money, a lot of thousands of dollars. These are the voices of a very, very clever scam operation. These people are out there, looking for victims. It seems legitimate, like the Indian call centres used by major companies. But this is one neatly organised gigantic con pretending to be Windows or Microsoft Support, fleecing anyone and everyone who falls for it. So, you're saying my computer is infected with viruses? What, ultimately, is this mob after? They're after money. They want to defraud you, they want to charge you for fixing things that don't need to be fixed. And they're very possibly also after your files, they're after your tax returns, your photos, perhaps information to then move on to identity theft. That's scary stuff. Very scary. Also very scary is a new bank fees scam. They said that they gonna reimburse me for money that the bank actually overcharged me. The scammers pretend to be your bank, they've already sussed you out already. They play on the publicity about Australia's biggest ever class action - to win back for customers billions of dollars from fees that the banks overcharged. Because they said that they are the NAB, and that was my bank, so I believed them. in so-called refundable administration fees to action the windfall she was promised. She never received a cent. They asked me to actually go to a post office and pay through Western Union probably over about $2,000. I feel like a fool that I could let somebody do this to me and my family. Struggling single mum Leah Peterson was told she'd get $6,700 in overpaid bank fees if she paid a few hundred dollars up front. I thought a few hundred dollars would be worth it because we were going to get all this money back. I had to look at my children and tell them that... I didn't have money to feed them, We're seeing doctors, lawyer, police officers, teachers, academics, falling prey to them. New South Wales Minister for Fair Trading, Anthony Roberts says These people will steal whatever you have if you give them the chance and after they've stolen everything you've got, they'll come back for more. They tell you they're from Microsoft. You have no reason not to believe them. It's a person on the phone. They sound like they're calling from a legitimate call centre. The computer virus repair con is spreading like wildfire. Scammers targeted Troy Hunt, not realising he was a computer security specialist. He played along to expose their scam. OK, so, you want my credit card details now? Troy never gave them any vital information. The real Microsoft would never contact you this way. The software that they use to come in and inspect your PC allows them to access your files without you knowing It's a perpetual licence to come in and access any of your content. The scammers tell people they have an Australian base here in North Sydney there was no-one there and they're not listed on the directory board. The simple answer is to hang up if someone calls you and says there is a problem with your PC, get rid of them. The day that a bank or a government telephones you, offering you a refund, is the day that you can look out the window and see the pigs flying past. Helen Wellings reporting. Costing a lot of Australians a lot of money, power bills are continuing to rise and, for some people, a massive shock is on the way. Here's something else - they're the ones who haven't seen a bill for awhile and have no idea what's coming. Tineka Everaardt reports on the power companies who fail to send out bills on time but want you to pay straightaway. Oh, my God, how we gonna pay it? We're feeling quite anxious about this. Power bills they never saw coming. It was a nightmare. Just ridiculous. Because they took forever to arrive, when they do, the shock is immediate They just expected us to pay as normal. Merrilyn Davidson claims she waited an entire year for a bill from TRUenergy then was slapped with a $1,500 demand. There was no method of a payment plan or anything to make it easier. They're the complaints that have turned into a roar across the country - the energy ombudsman swamped by people who are given a monster bill and demanded to pay straight away. This year to June, almost 2,300 Victorians called the ombudsman about late bill problems. That's almost the same number In New South Wales, complaints about high bills or disputed amounts has jumped by 23%. And in Queensland, there was a 15% increase in billing complaints, up to 3,106. It was a 9-month delay before we got the bill. Once we received it, we opened it up, it was like $800. How we gonna pay this? Susan Consadine another customer hit by a lump sum bill. They virtually told us that we had to pay the bill or we would get it cut off. Essential Services Commission CEO David Heeps says companies can't force you to pay straight away if it's their fault. If you haven't been billed for six months, then you should be given time payments over the next 6 months to make up that back log. And this is important - if you get a bill that's for more than nine months of power usage, don't pay the lot. Under the law, the most your provider can back bill is for nine months. After that, they could be up for some of the costs. TRUenergy told us billing delays can be caused by a variety of reasons, including technical issues, and they work with their customers to arrange longer payment periods. I think it's pretty disgusting. You know, they should have their bills out on time so people can pay them on time. If you haven't received a bill for more than three months, it's worth getting onto your power supplier and avoid the shock. Let's take a break. Here's what's coming up. Next They're popping up like mushrooms. All it takes is two days. Flat pack housing - cheaper to build and cheaper to run. for many Australians, buying their own home is still out of reach. But housing affordability is driving innovation - homes that can be built quickly and for a fraction of the normal cost. Neil Doorley reports on the flat pack revolution in housing. It can be on-site for $40,000 - and all it takes is two days. We can do a 3-storey home in as little as two weeks. They're calling it the future of housing - but it's already here. If you've got the land, and the paperwork's approved, this one bedroom house can be built in just two days. I think it's great value - when you look at what you'd pay for an upmarket caravan, they're fantastic value. It'll set you back $40,000 and if it looks like a shipping container, well... How wide is it? It's 2.4m wide. Same width of a shipping container? Same width of a standard shipping container so it can be shipped at an affordable price. Jim Dickson is managing director of Nova Deko, the Brisbane-based company building the modular homes in their Chinese factory. We've got capability to produce 20 a month, over next couple of months make 30 a month, next 12 months, around 100 a month. Put the pieces on a truck and we can build it anywhere. Rob Vis is managing director of SIPs industries, which produces lightweight panels that can slash the building time for high rises, businesses and houses. Rather than waiting many, many months or up to a year or two for larger builds, we can erect the homes from a week onwards for standard single-storey. The panels cost about the same as building with brick. But the real savings come once the house is finished. The main benefit is the ongoing cost or the utility cost for the home - reduced heating and air-conditioning bills which account for up to half the energy costs for a house. You're saving 50% per annum on your energy bills. Bondor's Geoff Marsden, talking up the benefits of his InsulLiving home, which goes from slab to lock-up in just 10 days. You're expecting a traditional house to cost around $200,000. The InsulLiving type product will be in the order of $160,000-$180,000. which gives it an 8-star energy rating. It's a traditional sort of technology that over the past 50 years has been used in cool rooms, and freezers. Innovation in design, Brian Stewart from the Urban Development Institute of Australia says that innovation must be affordable. Without that, young people don't have a hope, so what we do have to do is drive real efficiency into the way that we're building. With land and accommodation at a premium, especially in mining communities, smaller, cheaper houses fit the bill. Don't want the dongas of yesterday. People do want good quality - well-built, insulated, sustainable, effective accommodation. Opening up the market for houses which take less time and money to build. Not grand designs but clever ideas to help people into housing. Would you consider buying one? Your views are always welcome on our website. As we go to the break, a quick look at what's coming up on 'Sunday Night' with Chris Bath and the extraordinary steps being taken to save Africa's magnificent rhinos. They need help more than any other animal. These are southern white rhino. We've got four animals left to rescue a whole species. Poaching's increased hugely. It's a full-on war at the moment. So obscene. This madness cannot continue. This is one of the last surviving males. We have the power. a quick look ahead to a special report next week - an investigation into how a young Australian woman went from being the victim of a sexual assault on an overseas holiday to being treated like a criminal by the authorities. I just remember getting held down on the floor. I couldn't move. She was in hysterics, crying her eyes out. We walk into this room with 30 police officers, they're laughing. The police force in Thailand is its own sweet self. She said, "You sign this here, saying you lied, "and everything will be fine." That's next week on Today Tonight. Hope you have a great weekend. See you on Monday. Goodnight. Supertext captions by Red Bee Media - Grief does strange things to people. Yeah, except I'm the only one grievin'. I'm pretty sure your brothers are feeling this too. You kidding me? They're glad he's gone. I just keep wondering if this was really an accident. Casey's not a killer. You know he couldn't do this. Couldn't he? I just wanted to drop this off. I thought it might help if I made the funeral arrangements. You wanna do this, knock yourself out. Casey waived his right to bail. Casey! Hey, Brax, stop, stop! They're gonna send you down for this, mate! It's not your fault, Casey! It's not your fault! BP, 140 on 95. SAT's 98. Sid, we need to intubate. (MACHINE BEEPS RAPIDLY) Dr Walker! He may remain like this for the rest of his life! You say you wanna be a doctor. Is this how you're gonna treat your patients, telling stories? Let me tell you something, April, medicine is a science. So, please, think about that before you bore us any more with your stories! You know how wrong that was, don't you? Why did you say it? Dad, I know things are pretty full-on at the moment, but Dex is stable - he's not getting worse. Nothing's changed. Exactly, Sash. Nothing's changed. Maybe it's time we all faced the possibility that this is... good as it's gonna get. April was only trying to help. Yeah, but she wasn't helping, though, was she? Oh, what, so having a little bit of hope, that's not helping? Sash, please, there are a lot of things, a lot of factors in place here. Dad, I don't care about the factors. I'm not giving up. Well, neither am I! Don't get me wrong. Don't misunderstand what I just said in there. I'm sorry about April, but... ..medically speaking, things are not looking good, Sash. And it needed to be said. He's gonna come back to us. (SIGHS) Ah, here she is, just in time for a cuppa. How's Dex, love? Ah, no change. Everything alright? (DOOR CLOSES) April? April, love? Nothing's changed, Irene. Well, I'm sorry, girlie, everything's changed - you're cryin' now. It's just that there's nothing to worry about. Well, it's a little bit late for that, darl. It's just something Sid said. What, love, are the scans bad? He doesn't know if Dex is gonna get any better. He can't breathe on his own. Nothing I can do will change that. He just made it seem so hopeless. Well, you see, I just don't believe that. It's one thing for me to be positive, but I have to be realistic. I can't keep filling Dex's head with my...juvenile stories. Hey. I just went down to the station to see Case again. And? He's still not talking. They told me he's being transferred to remand tomorrow. What's he doin'? Dad's got mates down there. If they find out what he's done... I know some people in the prison system. Maybe I can get them to keep an eye on Casey. Nah, he can't get special treatment. It'll just make things a million times worse. You have to talk to him before he gets transferred. I've tried, I mean... Yeah, well, try harder! He has to know what Dad did - he was setting him up - and one of us has got to get that into his head before he throws his life away. Hey! When did you get back? Just now. Mmm. Mmm. Did you get my messages? Yeah, yeah, I got 'em. So you're back for the funeral? I missed you guys. Oh, we missed you too.