As it happened:Victoria records 860 new local COVID-19 cases,five deaths;no vaccine for under-12s until 2022;Pilbara rocked by aftershocks after earthquake on Saturday

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Today’s headlines at a glance

ByBroede Carmody

Good evening and thanks for reading our live coverage.

We’re putting the blog to bed now,but I’ll be back on deck bright and early tomorrow morning.

Here’s a brief look at what was making headlines today (Monday,November 15).

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.James Alcock

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley.Joe Armao

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in western Sydney earlier today.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in western Sydney earlier today.Dominic Lorrimer

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.Getty

Mark McGowan says waiting for 90 per cent double-dosed will save 200 lives.

Mark McGowan says waiting for 90 per cent double-dosed will save 200 lives.Trevor Collens

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner.Facebook

Calls for permanent foreign aid boost

ByAnthony Galloway

A coalition of humanitarian groups is urging the federal government to permanently increase Australia’s foreign aid budget as more than $300 million in temporary measures put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic approach their expiry.

Foreign aid experts are warning that decades of development gains could be squandered unless the aid budget is boosted. They are calling on the Government to lock in extra funding in the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook next month.

New polling shows 57 per cent of Australians support funding foreign aid to developing countries,compared to 52 per cent in 2019. In the poll of 1027 voters conducted by YouGov,the majority also said they supported increased Australian involvement to tackle issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in these regions.

More on this issue here.

Detectives ‘hopeful’ of physical evidence in new William Tyrrell searches

BySally Rawsthorne andJosh Dye

NSW Police have sought an apprehended violence order against the foster parents of William Tyrrell on behalf of a child linked to the missing boy as police begin a new search on the Mid North Coast sparked by new information.

The couple,who cannot be named for legal reasons,are scheduled to appear in court next week for the AVO.

State Crime Commander Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett says police are looking for the remains of William Tyrrell.

They did not respond to requests for comment and police would not speak on the AVO matter and how it came to their attention.

In what has become one of Australia’s most baffling cases,three-year-old William Tyrrell vanished from his foster grandmother’s Mid North Coast front yard in 2014.

Despite a $1 million reward,more than 600 persons of interest,and hundreds of police searching the town of Kendall,he has never been found and nobody has been charged over his disappearance and suspected murder.

The latest search,sparked by credible new claims about a person of interest,will focus on a dense patch of bushland about a kilometre from where he was last seen.

“We are looking for the remains of William Tyrrell,” Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett said today,adding the strike force would focus on three areas in Kendall.

In June,on what would have been William’s 10th birthday,detectives pledged to ensure“no stone is left unturned” in solving the mystery.

More about the new leads on William Tyrrell’s disappearance here.

Most Victorian aged care workers on track to meet deadline for mandatory vaccine

ByMelissa Cunningham andTimna Jacks

More than 96 per cent of Victoria’s residential aged care workers employed at federally run facilities have been immunised against coronavirus following the introduction of a vaccine mandate.

Today was the vaccine deadline for residential aged care workers,who must now either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be able to show proof of their vaccination appointment,to be able to keep working in the industry.

The latest figures obtained from the federal government today show double dose vaccination rates among Victorian aged care workers employed in federally run facilities was sitting at 96.1 per cent,slightly behind NSW,which was hovering at 98.4 per cent.

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The high vaccine uptake among the aged care sector in Victoria has been welcomed by the state’s health unions,aged care providers,lobby groups and advocates,who had feared a potential mass exodus of workers following the implementation of the mandate.

Despite those concerns not eventuating,some in the sector have warned even a small percentage of non-vaccinated aged care workers could have implications for the entire workforce,which is already under significant strain due to severe staffing shortages.

Health Workers Union Victorian secretary Diana Asmar said even if 3 or 4 per cent of the workforce left due to the mandate,it would have “massive” implications on existing staff.

“Since COVID-19,their workloads have increased,but staffing levels haven’t,” she said.

More about the vaccination uptake among residential aged care workers in Victoria here.

Shivering in the cold,demonstrators blanket parliament house,and settle in for the evening

ByDavid Estcourt

A group of demonstrators has braved the cold to voice dissatisfaction with the Victorian government’s proposed pandemic laws,with the cohort growing to several hundred protesters by the end of the afternoon.

Several demonstrators were preparing to stay overnight with organisers pledging that their presence on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House would remain for 24 hours a day,seven days a week until the proposed version of the pandemic management bill was amended to their satisfaction.

The protesters have vowed to stay on the steps of Parliament House until the legislation is amended.

The protesters have vowed to stay on the steps of Parliament House until the legislation is amended.Eddie Jim

People of all ages huddled onto the steps,clutching signs that said “Kill the bill” and “Dictator Dan”. By 7pm,The Age had not spotted any MPs in the audience.

Throughout the day protesters chanted,listened to music and displayed signs railing against vaccines,mandates,Premier Daniel Andrews and the pandemic response,with a handful sleeping through a cold night and waking up on the steps this morning.

Protesters set up a speaker and talked about a vaccine mandate challenge in NSW,and voiced their ire about employment mandates attached to people’s vaccination status.

They also spoke about their antipathy towards the state government’s proposed legislation,which has been criticised for being too heavy-handed in giving the premier and health minister of the day the authority to declare a pandemic and make public health orders.

A handful of police closely monitored the demonstration,but there were no indications the protest would turn violent after a full day of no clashes with authorities.

Today’s demonstrations follow a weekend that saw thousands flood Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday in peaceful protest,voicing opposition tothe controversial laws.

Though police did not provide an estimate of the size of the crowd,they appear to have been increasing in size in recent weeks.

The Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (pandemic management) Bill 2021 passed the lower house last month,and the government is now hoping it will pass the upper house next week with the support of three crossbenchers.

More on the protest at Victoria’s Parliament House here.

Fears virus could have spread to remote NT communities with low vaccination rates

ByMarta Pascual Juanola

Health authorities in the Northern Territory are concerned the virus may have spread to remote communities in the territory after two Aboriginal people tested positive for COVID-19.

A man from Katherine East,who was fully vaccinated,travelled to Robinson River community where he likely infected a 30-year-old woman,who wasn’t immunised.

Coronavirus vaccination rates in Katherine hover about the 80 per cent mark,but the government is concerned high mobility among Aboriginal people may have spread the virus to other areas where immunisation coverage is patchy.

The response team sent by the government will test and vaccinate the residents of Robinson River and the nearby community of Borroloola amid fears high levels of movement between both locations may have spread the virus.

Poor road conditions,however,limited travel between the areas and may have helped curtail the spread. About 350 people live in Robinson River and 1000 in Borroloola.

It is unclear how both people got infected,since the latest case in the community linked to the Darwin-Katherine cluster was on November 5,five days before the 43-year-old man became infectious.

Authorities have put a call-out for people in affected areas to get tested,following a low turnout at the weekend.

“This is undoubtedly the most serious update I’ve had to give since the beginning pandemic,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

NT sends Katherine,remote Indigenous community into lockdown

ByMarta Pascual Juanola

Greater Katherine and the Robinson River Aboriginal community will enter a 72-hour lockdown from 6pm tonight after two Aboriginal territorians tested positive for COVID-19.

A 43-year-old fully vaccinated man from Katherine East tested positive for COVID-19 on November 13,after initially returning a negative result on November 9.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner.Facebook

The man visited the remote community of Robinson River,where a 30-year-old woman from the same household has also tested positive for coronavirus.

From 6pm tonight,people in the affected areas will be confined to their homes unless they need to access medical treatment,buy essential goods,carry out essential work,exercise for an hour a day or care for a family member.

The government has sent a rapid assessment team to Robinson River to test and vaccinate residents.

Schools in the area will remain open. It is unclear whether the new cases are linked to another cluster in Darwin and Katherine.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said:

We are ready for this.

It’s not the scenario we wanted but we knew this day would come.

This is not a white fella disease,COVID does not discriminate.

Watch:NT’s COVID-19 update

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner provided a coronavirus update just after 6pm.

He was joined by the territory’s Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Charles Pain and Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker.

You can watch a recording of the press conference below.

Katherine will enter a snap 72-hour lockdown after two new local COVID-19 cases were recorded,including one in the remote Aboriginal community of Robinson River.

Listen:COP26 ends with failure to lock in end of coal

ByBianca Hall

The Glasgow climate summit ended over the weekend with a deal that targeted fossil fuels for the first time.

But many member states and observers are disappointed after a last-minute intervention from India meant a planned call for member states to “phase out” coal use was diluted to read “phase down” coal.

In the words of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres,the agreement keeps the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees alive,but on life support.

Despite the setbacks,there were gains,including a global pledge to cut and reverse deforestation by 2030.

National environment and climate editorNick O’Malley joined me to discuss the Glasgow Climate Pact and what happened behind the scenes at the UN summit.

Listen to today’s episode ofPlease Explainbelow.

‘It’s problematic’:Sydney,Melbourne MPs voice concerns over outdated vaccination data

ByMarta Pascual Juanola

MPs from Australia’s two most populated states have written to the federal government with concerns that outdated vaccination data is preventing families from travelling to South Australia.

Victorian state MP for Melbourne,Ellen Sandell,and Jenny Leong,the NSW state MP for the inner-city electorate of Newtown,have both expressed concerns that their constituents have been separated from loved ones who are unwell and live in South Australia as a result of a possible data bungle.

South Australia is on track to open up to the rest of the country on November 23,but will still require visitors from local government areas with a double-dose vaccination rate lower than 80 per cent (for people aged 16 and over) to quarantine upon arrival.

Both Victoria and NSW have already surpassed that milestone on a statewide level and are inching closer to achieving 90 per cent double-vaccination coverage for residents aged 12 and above (NSW has already reached the latter milestone if counting people aged 16 and up).

However,South Australia’s border rules for local government areas reflect population data from 2019,before tens of thousands of international students and migrants left Sydney and Melbourne.

There are concerns that suburbs in both state capitals are reporting vaccination rates much lower than neighbouring areas due to the decline in population. For example,the University of Sydney postcode area has recorded a vaccination rate of less than 10 per cent. In neighbouring suburbs such as Darlington,Chippendale and Golden Grove that figure hovers between 50 and 60 per cent.

Reports from the City of Melbourne indicate international students made up about a third of the CBD’s population prior to the pandemic.

“It is problematic to be preventing interstate travel based on outdated population predictions which seem to skew the actual vaccination rates of these areas,” a joint letter from Ms Sandell and Ms Leong reads.

“The pandemic has[also] given people the opportunity to move away from their workplaces and work remotely in suburban or rural areas,however these movements will not be shown statistically until after the next census.”

The letter is addressed to federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. Ms Sandell and Ms Leong are both members of the Greens.

Michaela Whitbourn is a legal affairs reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.

Broede Carmody is the national news blogger for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. Previously,he was a culture reporter and worked on the breaking news desk.

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