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Firearm fear forces Calare Public School into lockdownphotos

Firearm fear forces school into lockdown LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH
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LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

LOCKDOWN: Calare Public School on Thursday afternoon. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

TweetFacebook PHOTOS: Firearm fear forces Calare Public School into lockdownCentral Western Daily photographer Jude Keogh’s photos from the sceneDISTRAUGHT parents gathered outside Calare Public Schoolon Thursday after the school was placed in lockdown following reports a man was seen wondering nearby streets with a firearm.

Canobolas Local Area CommandSuperintendent Shane Cribb said police received a call at around 3.15pm from a member of the public notifying them they had seen a man in the vicinity of Cypress Street carrying a firearm.

“Around 20 police attended the incident and commenced a search for the male,” Superintendent Cribb said.“As a precautionary measure Calare Public School was placed into lockdown.”

Superintendent Cribb said police gathered parents and carers together to explain the lockdown process.

“After police could ensure the safety of students and teachers, the school was reopened,” he said.

Superintendent Cribb said police continued to patrol the area however they were unable to locate the man.

He said police were calling on anyone who was walking in the vicinity at the time and carrying “something similar to a firearm” to contact them immediately.

Superintendent Cribb said police were pleased with the school’s response and co-operation during the incident.

“The school and police ensured the safety of the children at all times,” he said.

Superintendent Cribb said an investigation was ongoing and detectives were following a number of inquiries.

According to a NSW Department of Educationspokesperson, staff and students at the school were to be commended for their response to the lockdown.

He said the safety procedure had occurred after advice from police.

“No students and staff were in immediate or direct danger during the lockdown,” he said.

He said parents were also advised of the incident.

“The school continued to follow the safety procedure until police confirmed the all-clear,” he said.“The school thanks parents for their co-operation and understanding.”

The spokesperson said lockdown was one of several safety procedures planned and rehearsed by public schools.

Central Western Daily, Orange

Injured footballer Dom Punch on road to recovery

Dom Punch is visited by Maitland Blacks second grade coach Mick Hickling and the club’s president, Ben Emmett.DOM Punch’s signature smile has returned as the injured Maitland Blacks player begins the long and unknown road to recovery.
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The 27-year-old was given a welcome boost in Royal North Shore Hospital this week with a visit from Blacks teammates Mick Hickling and Ben Emmett ahead of Sunday’s fundraising lunch at Marcellin Park. The event will mark one month since Punch dislocated his C5 and C6 vertebrae following a collapsed scrum during the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union second grade grand final at No.2 Sportsground.

He remains in the hospital’s intensive care unit, but his condition was recently downgraded from critical to serious and stable.

Punch has suffered spinal cord damage but is able to move his shoulders, arms and wrists. A long-term prognosis could be about eight or 10 weeks away and rehabilitation is expected to take many months. Punch still requires intermittent breathing support via a ventilator, but physiotherapists hope independent breathing will return in the not-too-distant future.

The Punch family released a statement on Thursday to update the concerned community about Punch’s bravery in the face of adversity.

“Although Dom has a frightening and very challenging road ahead, he is trying to remain positive, hopeful, brave and strong. His signature smile, though subdued, is not far away,” it said.

“Dom and his family are extremely grateful for all the support being offered by the Maitland Rugby Club, the George Tavern, his friends and the wider community.”

Former n cricketer Mike Hussey will be the guest speaker at Sunday’s sportsman’s lunch at Marcellin Park, which is expected to attract more than 700 people.

Virtual reality film Madeleine: Gimmick, or a glimpse of the future?

Olivia De Jonge in virtual reality teaser for the Cairnes brothers’ Scare Campaign. Anton Andreacchio’s company Jumpgate VR has made virtual reality content for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Port Adelaide, among others.
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Giving viewers the experience of running through the banner with Port Adelaide was a ‘gimmick’, says Anton Andreacchio, but more useful applications are just around the corner.

Olivia De Jonge in the virtual reality short horror film Madeleine, originally conceived as a promotional tool for the Cairnes brothers’ Scare Campaign. Photo: Lachlan Moore

Adelaide Film Festival siteMovie session timesFull movies coverage

Most of the films that debuted at the Adelaide Film Festival  were longer than Madeleine, but few will have been cause for as much excitement.

The four-and-a-bit-minute short marks one of the first tentative steps locally into narrative virtual reality, a journey whose end point no one can yet predict.

“It’s so exciting because there’s so much creativity in this space at the moment,” says Anton Andreacchio, whose Jumpgate VR has co-produced Madeleine. “It’s all about experimenting. There are no rules. We’re not constrained by how things have always been, and we’re not sure what the end state will be.”

Virtual reality is so new as a real technology (as opposed to the stuff of science fiction) that most people have yet to experience it. But there are those who think it could be the future of entertainment, including Facebook, which last year spent $2 billion to buy start-up headset manufacturer Oculus Rift.

Put one of these headsets on and the world beyond the screen disappears; what you get is the most immersive viewing experience imaginable, a 360-degree world of which you, the viewer, are the centre.

If ever a technology were made for the “look out behind you” world of horror movies, this surely is it, and Madeleine milks every trick in the jump-scare book to brilliant effect. In a demonstration in the Fairfax office – in which the headset wearers typically spun in their chair to take in the world they found themselves at the middle of, before leaping out of that chair when frightened – the most common assessment was “scary as all hell”.

The project began life as a teaser promo for the Cairnes brothers’ Scare Campaign, which will premiere next month as the opening-night film at Monster Fest. Producer Julie Ryan took it to Cannes in May hoping to scare up interest, and it worked a treat. “The reaction was fantastic,” she says. “I showed it to about 30 people, and most reacted really strongly.”

Returning to , she says, “it just made sense to try to do something a little longer”. Thus was Madeleine born.

The Cairnes brothers wrote a script and Screen kicked in about $55,000 of funding support, though it is as uncertain as anyone else about what the future of VR might be. “There are people saying it’s just a gimmick, but I think there’s going to be an audience for a longer format,” says Tim Phillips, a senior manager of interactive content at the agency. “We’re at the Atari end of the technology now, and we’ll soon be at the PS4 end.”

Andreacchio has early-mover advantage in the space, and has worked with a host of clients including classical musicians (virtual concerts), building firms (safety training) and AFL clubs (six to date), who see enormous potential for tailored individual training that might, for instance, pit a player against next Saturday’s opponent in a simulated but very real-seeming environment.

But the field is rapidly becoming more crowded.

“We maybe got two phone calls about VR last year,” says Phillips. “Now, we’re getting a call every week. I don’t doubt that we’ll do more. At this stage it’s fairly small-scale, but we feel we’re helping people experiment, experience, and learn the skills. Hopefully it will lead to bigger projects.”The other side of the headset: an actor’s experience of VR.

Olivia De Jonge is the 17-year-old star of Scare Campaign and very much a young n talent on the rise: you may have seen her in ABC-TV’s Hiding or the M. Night Shyamalan frightener The Visit. You’ll almost certainly be seeing a lot more of her in the years to come.

Shooting Madeleine was not like any acting job she’d done before, she says.

“It’s very odd because it’s a bunch of Go-Pros, there’s no-one else in the room, it’s just me, basically.”

Director Piers Mussared would come into the room, push a few buttons on the 12-camera rig and tell her to go, whereupon De Jonge would improvise around the notes she’d been given. “They’d leave me for about eight minutes, I’d do my thing, then we’d try something else.”

The big difference is the relationship with the camera. “Generally with film you have to act as if the camera is not there; in VR you have to take the camera into your space.”

De Jonge says she didn’t really think about it at the time, but in retrospect she realises she has been part of something “a bit special”.

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Chinan Museum staff asked to take voluntary redundancies

n Museum CEO Kim McKay pictured outside the museum’s new entrance in August. Photo: Louise kennerleyStaff at the n Museum have been asked to accept voluntary redundancies as the country’s oldest museum struggles to meet the state government’s cap on salary costs.
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Employees were left shell-shocked in a meeting on Wednesday after management told them they would be seeking voluntary redundancies to combat the institution’s budget blowout, according to Public Service Association representatives, who were present.

It is unclear how many redundancies would need to be taken to appease the bottom line. The news was first reported by Central Sydney.

A spokesman for the museum said the organisation’s expenditure on salaries had exceeded the Labour Cap set by state treasury.

“As such, the AM is currently in the process of offering voluntary redundancies to staff, as part of ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of the organisation. There are no confirmed job losses at this early stage,” the spokesman said.

“The process has just started, and at this stage we’ve just asked for expressions of interest [for voluntary redundancies].

Anne Gardiner, the general secretary of the PSA, said cutting staff at the southern hemisphere’s oldest natural history museum was the latest fallout from an “attack on science” in NSW.

“People who work at the museum, it’s their life. It’s not just a job, it’s a vocation,” Ms Gardiner said.

“At a time when we’re talking at a federal level about how to support innovation, you’re getting rid of people with priceless science and technical knowledge.

“It amounts to an attempt to dumb us down.

“We’re hoping something else can be done to address the budget shortfall other than devastating the technical expertise at the museum.”

In September the n Museum’s chief executive Kim McKay announced that she had wiped out the organisation’s $745,000 deficit recorded in 2013-2014.

The return to a small surplus came as the final touches were made to the Museum’s $5.9 million makeover of its William Street entrance.

Expressions of interests for voluntary redundancies close on October 20.

A meeting between staff, the PSA and management is due to take place October 19.

‘Rampant abuse’: Vocational loan scheme slammed as costs blow out

Vocational Education and Skills Minister Luke Hartsuyker: “This is a concerning level of growth.” Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Labor education spokesman Kim Carr: “Clean out the sharks and shonks.” Photo: Paul Jeffers
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The federal government’s troubled vocational loan scheme has blown out by a staggering 150 per cent over the past year to almost $2 billion as the number of students taking out taxpayer-funded loans doubled.

The HECS-style loans scheme for vocational students, VET FEE-HELP, has been blamed for encouraging dodgy private operators to enter the vocational education sector and rort the system by luring vulnerable students into their courses.

A major Senate inquiry into private vocational education and training providers released on Thursday called for an immediate review of the scheme to address the “rampant abuse” and “accelerating costs” it uncovered. The government should cap the amount students can borrow and introduce minimum hours standards for courses, the Labor-Greens dominated committee found.

The cost of VET FEE-HELP loans soared from $699 million in 2013 to $1.76 billion in 2014, according to official data obtained by Fairfax Media. It is estimated that 40 per cent of these loans will never be repaid, meaning taxpayers will have to cover the cost of almost $1 billion in loans for the past 12 months alone.

The scheme, valued at $325 million in 2012, has grown five-fold over two years. The number of vocational providers billing taxpayers for their courses has grown from 105 to 224 over the same period, showing how lucrative the scheme has proven for private colleges.

Vocational Education and Skills Minister Luke Hartsuyker said he would consider introducing new regulations to stop the scheme blowing out further.

“This is a concerning level of growth and I will be keeping a close eye on the scheme to ensure it is sustainable for taxpayers,” he said.

Mr Hartsuyker introduced legislation on Thursday requiring students to have year 12 or equivalent qualifications to qualify for subsidies. Providers will also be banned from levying all fees in a single transaction, so students who drop out of a degree early are not saddled with large debts.

The number of students who accessed VET FEE-HELP loans leapt from 100,000 in 2013 to 202,800 last year – an increase of 103 per cent. Vocational students have taken out $3.1 billion in loans since Labor introduced the scheme in 2009.

The sector has been beset by scandals over recent months, leading the n Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate 10 training providers for misleading and unconscionable conduct.

The Phoenix Institute, which has received almost $10 million in VET FEE-HELP payments, this week suspended trading on the n Stock Exchange after the Education Department indicated it would remove its ability to charge the government for courses. The federal regulator also threatened its registration as an education provider.

Fairfax Media revealed last month the college had employed dozens of salesmen, many working door to door, who offered free laptops to vulnerable people, including drug addicts and those with intellectual disabilities, to sign them up for online diploma courses they would never complete.

Labor higher education spokesman Kim Carr said the government should move urgently to “clean out the sharks and shonks that are targeting vulnerable ns, providing little or no training for over-priced courses and saddling those that can least afford it with debt”.

“The committee heard that this is not just an issue of a few dodgy providers but one of widespread and systemic rorting,” he said.

The committee also recommended the creation of an industry-funded ombudsman for the VET sector to reign in abuses.

In a dissenting report, Coalition senators said Labor designed the VET-FEE HELP scheme poorly and the government had introduced significant changes to restore public confidence in it.

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Parramatta shooting: Two men charged with terrorism offences over Curtis Cheng death

Talal Alameddine is arrested by police. Photo: NSW Police Raban Alou was charged on Thursday night. Photo: Fairfax Media
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Fifteen-year-old Parramatta gunman Farhad Jabar.

Farhad Jabar in a shootout with police in front of NSW Police headquarters at Parramatta. Photo: Channel Seven

Terrorism suspect: ‘I got a lot of anger’

A teenager facing serious terrorism charges allegedly met a well-known Middle Eastern crime figure twice in one day to source the firearm he allegedly gave schoolboy killer Farhad Jabar that afternoon.

Raban Alou, 18, was charged on Thursday night with aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring the commission of a terrorist act, a Commonwealth offence that carries a maximum life sentence.

Talal Alameddine, 22, was arrested in Merrylands on Thursday by the Middle Eastern organised crime squad and joint counter-terrorism team. He was charged with supplying a firearm, breaching a firearms prohibition order and hindering police.

Fairfax Media can reveal that police will allege Mr Alou met with family friend Mr Alameddine twice on Friday, October 2, to source an older-style handgun.

He was seen on CCTV at Parramatta Mosque that afternoon with 15-year-old Farhad Jabar, a fellow Arthur Phillip High School student who he had befriended in recent weeks.

Police will allege Mr Alou spent more than two hours with Jabar at the mosque. In that time, he allegedly handed the gun to Jabar, hours before the quiet year 10 student walked to Parramatta police headquarters and used it to shoot accountant Curtis Cheng in the back of the head.

The case against Mr Alou is largely circumstantial, Fairfax Media has been told. It will include call records, phone location data and surveillance that has mapped Mr Alou’s movements on October 2.

Mr Alou’s communication with Jabar is not believed to go back more than a few weeks and it is largely confined to Parramatta Mosque.

The mosque has been a regular meeting point for a group of young western Sydney extremists, who police allege are a major terror risk.

Fairfax Media previously revealed that police believe the group recruited Jabar to carry out the Parramatta attack because they perceived themselves to be under too much surveillance.

Many of the group were raided during Operation Appleby last year, centred around an alleged plot between Omarjan Azari and Islamic State recruiter Mohammed Ali Baryalei to kill a random Sydneysider.

They are also listed in a control order, granted in the Federal Circuit Court, that bans them from having any contact with terrorism suspect Ahmad Samir Naizmand, a Kellyville man who tried to travel to Syria last year.

The control order, which heavily restricts Naizmand’s movements, states that the n Federal Police believe Alou, Naizmand, Azari and 16 others are part of a “close knit group of men in Sydney who strongly support the ideology and activities of… Islamic State” and “are willing and able to commit a terrorist act”.

Commissioner Andrew Scipione described the arrests on Thursday as a “significant breakthrough” and did not rule out further arrests.

“These charges represent an exhaustive investigation which has not concluded but in many ways, has just commenced,” he said

Mr Alou has been in custody since his family’s Wentworthville unit was raided last Wednesday. The home was also raided as part of Operation Appleby last year and older brother Kawa was detained. However, police considered the brothers to be “peripheral” players at the time.

Fairfax Media understands the brothers have close links to the Alameddine family, whose Merrylands home was raided last week.

The home was also raided in February by police looking for firearms relating to a tip-off about a potentially dangerous disruption at Sydney’s largest court complex.

In 2012, Mr Alameddine was charged after a woman was injured when caught in the crossfire of a gun fight in Old Guildford but the charges were later dropped.

Mr Alameddine and Mr Alou will front local courts on Friday.

Milos Dimitrijevic and Milos Trifunovic helped each other find homes, now they will become rivals

Stretching: Milos Dimitrijevic (second from left). Photo: Brendan Esposito Stretching: Milos Dimitrijevic (second from left). Photo: Brendan Esposito
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Stretching: Milos Dimitrijevic (second from left). Photo: Brendan Esposito

Stretching: Milos Dimitrijevic (second from left). Photo: Brendan Esposito

He was the man who helped Milos Dimitrijevic remain fit in his native Serbia while he faced uncertainty over his playing future but on Saturday he will become his enemy. Two Miloses will face-off when Sydney FC travel to Newcastle to face the Jets boasting Serbian striker Milos Trifunovic and the Sky Blues will be wary of him, says Dimitrijevic.

The duo are part of the five Serbian players in the A-League this season continuing the recent trend of players from the Balkan nation moving to . Dimitrijevic was widely regarded as one of the best imports of last season and says his compatriot will be yet another to impress this season. Trifunovic marked his debut for the Jets with a goal in their 2-1 win over Wellington Phoenix on Sunday and will be the player to stop for Sydney, according to their midfielder.

“I know him from Red Star, he’s a very good striker, very good player so we need to be careful of him,” Dimitrijevic said.

The two Miloses are very close friends and it was Dimitrijevic who prompted Trifunovic to explore a move to the A-League. Both trained together to remain fit during the off-season in the European summer after Dimitrijevic parted ways temporarily with Sydney FC. As he decided to return to the harbour city club, he encouraged the tall forward to join him in the A-League. He could be made to regret his decision if the marksman adds a second goal in as many games.

“This pre-season before I came back here we trained together in Serbia,” Dimitrijevic said. “I know him very well, and can’t wait to see him again. We spoke a lot in pre-season, and I told him everything about and about A-League. I think it’s helped him to make his choice and come to Newcastle.”

Sydney’s midfielder started the first game of the season and believes he is in better shape than this time last year.

Having played a full-season last campaign after almost a year away from the game, it took him little time to return to his peak condition this time around. However, it’s not just fitness issues that will determine his selection this season but the added competition provided by young midfielder Brandon O’Neill. The former Perth Glory player was impressive in Sydney’s 1-1 draw with Melbourne City last week and is adding greater competition for starting places.

Alongside Senegalese international Mickael Tavares, Dimitrijevic knows it will be more difficult to cement a place in the starting line-up  despite winning three individual honours at the club’s awards night last season.

“After the coach’s decision, I am happy to play with Brandon, also with Mickael. They are both very good players and I think it’s very good for the team to have a strong squad,” Dimitrijevic said. “Now I must play good to keep my spot also. Because there are very good players, new players, young players. Every player has to work hard every time to keep his spot and to play. It’s good for everyone to have this strong squad.”

Dimitrijevic believes the young O’Neill complements his style and allows him to play a more creative and attacking role in the side. Last season, Dimitrijevic started alongside Terry Antonis, of similar style, but is happy to have a more defensive partner.

‘Essentially Chinan’ Brisbane man’s deportation to Chile imminent

Rachel Delucia with a photo of her defacto partner, Ricardo Bolvaran,A Brisbane man, who has lived in since he was one year old, has been told his deportation to South America is imminent.
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The n Immigration Department wrote to Ricardo Bolvaran, 41, in August while he was an inmate at Brisbane Correctional Centre at Wacol, to inform him his residency visa had been cancelled.

His partner of 24 years, Rachel Delucia, said Bolvaran had been transferred to the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney.

Despite being the only home he has ever known, Bolvaran will soon be sent to Chile after he signed deportation documents on Wednesday.

“He was going to go to Christmas Island otherwise,” Ms Delucia said.

“There was really no option because they said he could be sitting there for two to four years and he wasn’t prepared to do that.

“He said, ‘look, I’m not that well and I don’t want to rot in a detention centre’.”

Ms Delucia said she had asked if she could marry Bolvaran in the detention centre, to make it easier for her and her children to visit.

“That way, if I do go to Chile, my visa will be a bit longer than the three months,” she said.

“But whether or not I’ll have the funds to even do that, I don’t know.”

Ms Delucia was booked on a flight to Sydney with the couple’s three children to visit their father next Thursday.

It would likely be the last time the children, aged seven, nine and 19, would see their father before he was deported.

“All Rick wants to do is see his kids,” Ms Delucia said.

Bolvaran’s case has troubled the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties, which last month pointed out Bolvaran was “essentially n” and a product of n society.

Bolvaran was jailed in July on a string of offences, including drug possession, possession of a knife in public and receiving tainted property among other charges.

Bolvaran pleaded guilty to all charges, committed in 2012 and 2013.

He had also been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment in June 2006, which was central to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s decision to revoke his residency visa on character grounds in August.

Bat plague solution needs red tape removed: MP

Masses of flying foxes hang in trees as part of a colony at Burdekin park, Singleton.SINGLETON’S bat problem is not new.
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In fact, it has plagued the town for the past 15 years and left residents and the council equally frustrated at the endless bureaucratic hoops in the way of relocating the protected animals.

So when Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen raised the issue in NSW Parliament this week and urged the state and federal governments to remove the red tape – saying the bats should be relocated or eradicated – Singleton folk were pleased but understandably reserved about the outcome.

Mr Johnsen said the latest state government policy offered three ways to control the bats, but if a landholder needed to disperse the colony they also had to meet federal government requirements.

“Let them do it without having both hands tied behind their backs,” Mr Johnsen said.

“Take away the barriers to managing the problem and actually empower communities, don’t just talk about it.”

Singleton residents put up with a permanent bat colony and the thousands of bats that return every year to breed in Burdekin park’s trees.

This year they have also had to cope with an influx of 20,000 bats, which the council suspects have relocated from elsewhere.

Mayor of Singleton, Cr John Martin, said it took more than 20 minutes for the colony to fly away from the park to feed every night, and it was a dramatic parade against the sunset until bat droppings fell on people, or their cars.

“We have been trying to do something for 15 years and have approached the state and federal governments and haven’t got anywhere.

“I support what Michael Johnsen is trying to do and we want an outcome, but we have been down this road many times before and achieved nothing.”

The council has already spent more than $180,000 on lights and noises to “scare away” the bats, and been forced to move Anzac Day and other services usually held in the park.

Kristy James opens next chapter

Kristy James’ new single, Friends Like You, comes out Tuesday. Picture: Ryan OslandSUPER heroes are not the only ones with alter egos. Singer songwriters are right up there with them, toiling away by day before assuming the characters they really want to be.
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Warners Bay country rock singer Kristy James is one of those hard-working souls, always plotting for the chance to break out and perform. Her fans will get another good look at the star on Tuesday (her 31st birthday) when she releases a new single, Friends Like You and an accompanying video clip.

James will be performing on Wednesday, October 21, at Lizotte’s in Newcastle and headlining at the Ariah Park B & S Ball in the Riverina on October 31. And she’s on the line-up for Country at the Camp, November 28, at Drovers Camp, Elderslie Road, Branxton.

The new song was written by three established American songwriters – Jim Pollock, Terry B Smith and Anne E De Chant.

“It’s about a girl’s best friend cheating with her husband,” James says. “It’s right down my alley [musically]. It’s a good story.

James, who is a talented guitar player as well as singer, sticks to a formula that works for her. She writes quite a bit of music, but isn’t afraid to pick up songs from others to record.

She married fellow musician (and top guitarist Luke Davis) last year.

She’s selective in her performance style – no dresses, no high heels – placing great value on perceptions. It works, as evidenced by her the video clips from her last EP, Nobody’s Gonna Make Me and Overdrive.

Nobody’s Gonna Make Me reached No 34 on the CMC Top 50 and had correspondingly good sales figures on iTunes.

James has discovered she has fans in the US, Greece, even Denmark, as social media channels have allowed her to be heard around the world – without a major marketing spend.

The new single is part of a strategy that will see James release two more singles in the first half of 2016 followed by an album.

It’s a hard road to success for independent musicians, but James has been in the game since she was a youngster and has never wavered from her passion.

“If I can make people listen, 99 per cent of the time I know they’ll be supportive,” she says. “You don’t have many chances to make people listen if you bring out crap.”

James makes a living as a music tutor and playing covers on weekends throughout the Hunter, in addition to being a full-time mum with two children.

“It’s a big decision to go on with my career,” she says. “Every dollar spent on my career is a dollar less for the kids. And the kids don’t see much as much as they would like.”

Working as a tutor keeps her firmly anchored to the music industry, teaching kids to play and sing every day.

“Everyone wants to learn,” she says. “But it’s not an easy road. It’s not as easy as saying ‘I want to be famous.’ “

James doesn’t try to make her students sing like her. Rather, she encourages them to be individuals, to develop their own style.

As James’ builds her fan base, she plans to spend a few days at the Tamworth country music festival in 2016, and tour the east coast for six weeks after the release of her next single in March next year.

She works her Facebook page and Instagram account (KristyJamesMusic) hard and isn’t afraid to spoil her fans with early releases and special offers.