Showing posts with label discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label discrimination. Show all posts

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Horse's Rear of the Year


Anthony John ‘Tony’ Abbott
Liberal Member for Warringah & sacked former Australian Prime Minister
On the subject of the 2017 Same Sex Marriage national voluntary survey

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Thousands of Queenslanders will have their Centrelink payments quarantined with a compulsory cashless welfare card in 2018



Thousands of Queenslanders will have their Centrelink payments quarantined when a compulsory cashless welfare card is brought in next year.

The Federal Government has announced the controversial card will be rolled out across the Wide Bay region, including Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

Under the scheme 80 per cent of a person's welfare income is quarantined on a debit-style card, which cannot be used on alcohol, gambling or to withdraw cash.

It will apply to people under the age of 35 who receive dole and parenting payments.

The Wide Bay region has an est. resident population of 144,098 people living across 4.5 million hectares, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The 2016 Census revealed that only 22 per cent of the population stated they had any formal further education after high school and 27.5 per cent stated that their gross weekly incomes were less than $650. Half of those 15 years of age and older had incomes below $500.

In July 2017 Wide Bay had an employment rate of 60.8 per cent, an overall unemployment rate of 8.7 per cent and a youth unemployment rate of 23.6 per cent, according to the Australian Government Labour Market Information Portal and the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office.

Last year in Queensland there were 6.1 unemployed people for every job vacancy.

The number of businesses operating in the Wide Bay region has been slowly declining for at least the last five years, with the largest industry clusters being agriculture, construction and retail. The last data published shows barely 21,451 businesses – many of which would be owner operated having no employees or only a small number of employees.

In the Wide Bay region this expansion of the Indue cashless debit card program will initially be imposed on est. 6,700 people in Hervey Bay.

Hervey Bay has a population of 56,678 residents, with only 24.8 per cent of the population having any formal further education after high school and half of the population having personal incomes of less than $478 per week.

Families with children make up 48.4 per cent of all family groups and youth unemployment in Hervey Bay mirrors the broader Wide Bay region.

Eventually the cashless debit card program is expected to directly affect up to est. 20,478  individuals as it is rolled out across the region in 2018 and, the flow-on effect will touch their families and local businesses.

A media release by the Minister for Human Services and the Member for Hinkler stated as a principal reason for introducing the cashless debit card into the Hervey Bay community:

The consultations also revealed significant problems with alcohol, drugs and gambling, particularly among young families.  Many community sector leaders were concerned that money meant for children was not being spent on them. The card will ensure that money meant for children will not be spent on alcohol, gambling or drugs.

However, I’m not quite sure that 2016-17 crime statistics for the Qld Police District of Wide Bay-Burnett actually reflects this view.

As it is the Turnbull Government’s intention (sometimes openly stated) to force people off Centrelink’s books by controlling how welfare recipients spend their benefits, I think I can safely say that by the end of 2018 the Liberal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien may find that he was only a one-term wonder in federal parliament and the Nationals Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt may also find that two parliamentary terms is his limit.

"You can opt out of it [the card] by getting a job."
Minister  for Human Services and MP for Aston Alan Tudge
21 September 2017

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

What exactly is the point of this Indue Limited cashless debit card, Prime Minster Turnbull?


Dept. of Social Security and Dept. of Veteran's Affairs data reveals that by June 2017 there were est. 10.1 million Australians receiving some form of federal government assistance which involved regular or periodic cash transfers into their bank accounts.

The Turnbull Government intends to control how est. 7.5 million of these people spend these transfers by placing the money in cashless debit card accounts and restricting the availability of actual cash to 20 per cent of  the transfer amount.

This income management scheme is being rolled out nationally under the guise of an unrestricted 'trial'.

However the justification for this scheme is beginning to crumble under closer scrutiny.

News.com.au, 14 September 2017:

WELFARE recipients spend less on alcohol as a portion of their income than all other Australians, new figures show.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics this week released its household expenditure statistics report, breaking down how Australians spend their money.

And it’s managed to crush a few stereotypes with the data.

The report shows that Aussies overall spend more than half of their average weekly spend on goods and services on basics, covering things like housing, food, energy, health care and transport.

Aussies spend an average $846 of the weekly household spend of $1,425 on these items and service.

Included in these basics are food and non-alcoholic beverages, but booze is counted separately, and the results make for some interesting reading.

Australians whose main source of income was from government pensions and allowances, were found to spend an average of $12.14 out of their $677.19 on alcoholic drinks, or 1.8 per cent.

Overall, Australian households on average were found to spend $31.95 of their $1425.03 weekly spend on alcohol — a total of 2.2 per cent.

Those whose main source of household income came from their employer, or their own business, were each found to spend 2.5 per cent of their weekly household spend on booze, and those whose income fitted into the “other” category indulged 2.5 per cent of their weekly budget.

The findings come amid a government push for a cashless welfare card that quarantines a large chunk of Centrelink payments and can’t be used to pay for alcohol, cigarettes, or gambling.

It seems Turnbull, Abbott and Co have just lost the excuse that welfare recipients as a group are heavy boozers.

Well, I hear you say; then it must be that they need their incomes managed because they all smoke like chimneys. Except tobacco sales have been falling for years and its’s not as easy to find a low-income or unemployed smoker of any age as it once was.

Or if they don’t have the first two ‘vices’, then it must be all those lottery tickets they purchase that show a need to control their finances. But the facts set out in Australian Gambling Statistics 32nd Edition (p.93) show that households in Australia might have spent as much as 0.002% of their disposable income each year on Lotto or the like. Hardly a national scandal.

But what about those ubiquitous poker machines? Well again according to Australian Gambling Statistics 32nd Edition (p.152) households really go overboard there - they actual spend per capita around 1.057% of their annual disposable income on this form of gambling and in the last 20 years on record this figure has never climbed higher than 1.808% annually. In dollar terms this means that welfare recipients are probably spending between $0 and $5 per week on electronic gambling.

So if most people receiving welfare payments don’t constantly have a drink in their hand and a fag on their lips while they look up the Lotto results and if they're not all hunched over poker machines on a daily basis – what exactly is the point of this universal cashless debit card?

Of course! It has to be because most of these 7.5 million welfare recipients are relatively poor - which is an obvious character defect requiring punishment coercive correction according to those financially comfortable right-wing politicians in Canberra and their fellow travellers.

"Dear neighbours, Writing to you like this is taking me well out of my comfort zone but the government has made it necessary because of the postal survey. I am writing to seek your approval for my partner and I to marry."


The Daily Examiner, Letter to the Editor, 15 September 2017:

Same-sex plea

Here is the text of a letter I will be sending to all my immediate neighbours: 

“Dear neighbours, Writing to you like this is taking me well out of my comfort zone but the government has made it necessary because of the postal survey. I am writing to seek your approval for my partner and I to marry.

Some of you may know us or know of us. We have lived in Yamba for two years now and settled well into the community. You may know Dean from when he worked at the cafe in town, or at the bottle shop. You may have seen me working with Landcare or at the museum, and I’ve been pretty active opposing the installation of traffic lights at Treelands Drive. Maybe you’ve seen us together doing the shopping at Coles, enjoying the beach or sharing a drink with friends at the Pacific of a Friday afternoon.

In other words, we are ordinary people going about our lives in an ordinary way, and striving to put back in to the community when we can.

All we ask now is that our relationship be granted the same respect (including legal rights but not just that) that others are able to take for granted when they marry.

This is not make-believe, we are not just playing house, we have been together for 15 years and cannot imagine not being together. We have been together through good times and bad, holidays, illness, family celebrations like weddings, the arrival of new nieces and nephews, and we have supported each other through tough times too like the loss of loved ones.

We would dearly love to declare and celebrate our relationship very publicly with our family and friends.

We have no other agenda. No scheme to infiltrate schools and indoctrinate children. I was a teacher for 24 years and wouldn’t dream of supporting anything I thought could be harmful to them. We don’t seek to restrict anyone’s religious freedom. I am more than happy to respect the beliefs of others, I just don’t want them imposed on me.

The postal survey must seem a terrible waste of time and money to most of you.

I agree. It is not how I would have preferred to see this question resolved. But it is here and while it might seem of little import to most of you, and will have no direct effect on most of you, to Dean and I it is critically important. The thought that it might not be approved is to be honest a bit scary and pretty hurtful.

We respectfully ask you to consider what I have said and return your postal ballot with a YES response.

Graeme East, Yamba

Sunday, 24 September 2017

"My daughter doesn't need my permission to get married. But she needs yours."


The Daily Examiner, Letter to the Editor, 15 September 2017:

Marriage certification

Those of us who thought, like the old song, that “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage” have had a lot of confusing information thrown at us recently about same-sex couples and the way their non-marriages give them all the same rights as married people. My wife and I were surprised, therefore, to attend the Roads and Maritime Service Centre last week to change our car registration, where we were asked to produce our marriage certificate.

This led me to wonder what other equal rights might not be there, particularly when my daughter, currently unable to marry her long-time partner, gets to our age.

Will she be asked for a marriage certificate if her not legally recognised wife is in hospital, or worse? Australia Post apparently charges hundreds of dollars for a name change, but not if you can provide a – you guessed it – marriage certificate.

Those who oppose same sex marriage are resting their hopes on the oldies like me.

But if you think we are going to support discrimination against our own kids and grandkids, you are about to be very disappointed.

My daughter doesn’t need my permission to get married. But she needs yours. Please join me in voting YES.

Desmond Bellamy, Byron Bay

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Turnbull Government's insistence on denying a basic human right to so many Australian citizens is a disgrace


The Guardian, 2 September 2017:

The former human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs has called for an end to the Northern Territory intervention and the government’s cashless welfare card trial, labelling them violations of international law.

The professor is one of 200 prominent Australians, including Cathy Freeman, Ian Thorpe and former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes, to support a statement prepared with Indigenous elders that calls the intervention a “crushing” failure.

Speaking at the University of Melbourne on Monday, Triggs said the NT intervention had harmed Indigenous communities since its introduction 10 years ago.

  “Assault and sexual assault convictions are about the same as before. Domestic violence has significantly increased. Incarceration of juveniles is now at world record heights.

“We’ve had a 500% rise in Indigenous youth suicide since the years 2007-11,” she said.

The intervention, enacted in 2007 under the Howard government, suspended the application of the Racial Discrimination Act, enacted harsh penalties on alcohol and pornography, and removed customary laws in certain areas of the territory after reports of high rates of child sexual abuse.

In 2012, the Gillard government passed the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act, which extended the laws until 2022.

“The Act and its extension breach the Racial Discrimination Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the important Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Triggs said. 

“While it was nominally designed to protect children, it’s become a chilling act of political cynicism and opportunism, an overreach of executive decision-making, a failure of parliament and the manipulation of truth.”….

Speaking on Monday, Triggs also condemned the NT’s BasicsCard and the government’s trial of cashless welfare cards in Western Australia and South Australia.

“There are significant problems with the card [and] the evidence on the ground is to the contrary. It is wrong and illegal as a matter of international law to penalise Aboriginal Australians where the impact of the BasicsCard is racially discriminatory.”

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Australian Politics: when is a welfare program trial not a trial?


When is a welfare program trial no longer a trial? When the Turnbull Government decides to remove those restriction which made it a trial……….

This Bill removes section 124PF of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999, which specifies that the cashless debit card trial will occur in up to three discrete locations, include no more than 10,000 people, and will end on 30 June 2018. Removing this section will support the extension of arrangements in current sites, and enable the expansion of the cashless debit card to further sites. Individual sites, once identified, will be determined by disallowable legislative instruments. [Explanatory Memorandum, Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017]

What the federal government proposes to implement is in practice an open-ended cashless debit card roll-out at the discretion of Minister for Human Services and Liberal MP for Aston, Alan Tudge

BACKGROUND

Human rights implications
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights conducted a review of the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015, which notes that the Cashless Debit Card engages and limits three human rights: the right to social security, the right to a private life and the right to equality and non-discrimination. [Ibid, p. 6]

See Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Human rights scrutiny report, 8 September 2015, pp. 20-29.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Millionaire mining magnate Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest's cashless welfare card adopted by the Turnbull Coalition Government is not the answer


NITV, 14 August 2017:

The income management trial was set up in the east Kimberley in April 2016 to help curb problem drinking, gambling and domestic violence - elements that were present in the lives of 13 young Indigenous people who killed themselves over a three-and-a-half year period.

University of Melbourne development studies lecturer, Dr Elise Klein is researching the policy and told the inquest the compulsory program was rolled out without proper community consultation, silencing many Aboriginal voices and causing tension and frustration amongst a diverse population.

Dr Klein told the inquest via video link from Melbourne the scheme represents neo-colonialism and government overreach.

"It's explained as the 'white card'," she said.

"The card has been a symbol of disempowerment, a symbol of state intervention, punitive intervention over someone's life."

Dr Klein said the system was chaotically introduced with design flaws, including a balance-checking mobile app for people who "didn't know how to use the internet let alone own a mobile phone"

Many of the children who claimed their own lives were inadequately fed, but Dr Klein said it was "naive at best" to think controlling parents' consumption would effectively combat this, insisting the card made money management "much harder" for people already living below the poverty line.

Dr Klein said many of the scheme's participants had told her using the card was like going back to the "ration days", referring to when Aboriginal people working on pastoral stations were paid in tea and sugar, as opposed to real wages.

"Young people watching this play out in their families can only feel extremely debilitated," she said.

The problem is compounded for jobseekers subjected to the coalition's controversial remote work for the dole scheme, which Dr Klein slammed as oppressive.

She called for bottom up, community-led development of services to address the complex social dysfunction plaguing Indigenous communities.

Earlier, one of the last people to speak to a 13-year-old boy before he killed himself, former Kununurra District High School deputy principal Jamieson Coltman, told the inquest child protection authorities failed to intervene despite reports of domestic violence.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Charlottesville incidents to which US President Donald J. Trump gives tacit support - WARNING: violent and disturbing images




The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2017:

He [President Trump] argued that both sides had been guilty of violence, he noted that the white supremacists indeed had a permit to protest, but the "other group" did not. He insisted that both sides had "bad people" and "very fine people" and he drew an equivalency between George Washington, who help create the United States after the American Revolutionary War that ended in 1783, and General Robert E. Lee, who led the secessionist armies that killed more American troops than any other foe in the defence of slavery nearly a century later.

The political and media response afterwards was immediate and shocked. Again Republican leaders were forced to come out to rebuke and distance themselves from their ostensible leader. In a long Twitter statement Marco Rubio declared, "Mr President, you can't allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I suspect that the reaction to "Unite The Right Rally" marches in Charlottesville is not what Neo-Nazi, Klu Klux Klan and other hate groups were expecting

From 11 to 12 August 2017 extreme right wing groups gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia USA to participate in a two-day rally. Counter protesters also gathered over that same time period.

By the evening of 12 August two police officers and one counter protester were dead and at least twenty counter protesters were wounded.

Unite The Right march participant……

"We are stepping off the Internet in a big way. For instance last night at the Torch Log there were hundreds and hundreds of us. People realised they are not atomised individuals, they are part of a larger whole. Because we have been spreading our memes, we have been organising on the Internet and now they are coming out and now as you can see today we greatly outnumbered the anti-white, anti-American filth and at some point we will have enough power that we will clear them from the streets forever. That which is degenerate in white countries will be removed. We are starting to slowly unveil a little bit of our power level – you ain't seen nothin yet." [Robert "Azzmador" Ray, feature writer at The Daily Stormer, video, 12 August 2017]

Reaction to the white supremacist violence……
Facebook has banned the Facebook and Instagram accounts of a white nationalist who attended the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in deadly violence.
Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the profile pages of Christopher Cantwell have been removed as well as a page connected to his podcast..

As of 14 August 2017, Daily Caller —  a conservative web site with a twin nonprofit organization — has scrubbed its site of articles by Jason Kessler, the white supremacist who was an organizer of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia the weekend before. 

GoDaddy – the internet domain registrar and web hosting service – and Google cancelled the Daily Stormer's domain name registration on Sunday, saying they prohibit clients from using their sites to incite violence. The Daily Stormer helped organise the violent neo-Nazi gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday at which a civil rights activist died.

On Twitter, the Daily Stormer's feed is no longer visible; instead, the page on Wednesday afternoon reflects its account has been "suspended." A spokesperson for Twitter said the company could not comment on individual users, but added: "The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies."

Earlier today, Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We've stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We've taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare's services ever again.

US companies are blocking hate groups from key services such as payments, cyber security defences and social media sites after the violence in Charlottesville, despite questions over the consequences for freedom of speech. Leading payment and credit card groups MasterCard, American Express, Discover Financial Services and Visa have joined Silicon Valley companies Twitter and Cloudflare to become the latest corporations to try to block neo-Nazis' access to funds and the internet. Several of the payments companies added they did not ban the use of their services because the customers expressed offensive views — but because they violated their terms of service or incited violence.

Most leaders on the councils thought Trump's statement on Monday, in which he condemned the hate groups by name, was sufficient. But they were furious and disgusted with Trump's follow-up remarks on Tuesday, according to the offices of two CEOs.
By Tuesday night, at least nine members decided to drop out individually, and reached out to Schwarzman, who then proposed dismantling the council entirely.
A dozen members of that strategy and policy council participated in a conference call Wednesday, during which they all agreed to dissolve the group, the people close to the decision said. Schwarzman then notified the White House. And after that, Trump tweeted that he was "ending both" advisory councils. The business leaders had expected that Trump would portray the developments as his own decision, the sources said

#BREAKING: #Cville car suspect, #UniteTheRight rally organizer, & alt-right leaders face $3M lawsuit from 2 ppl injured in car attack

RELATED POST


Monday, 7 August 2017

So why might the far right of the Liberal and National parties being pushing for a postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage?


The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) states this of national plebiscites:

Plebiscites

An issue put to the vote which does not affect the Constitution is called a plebiscite. A plebiscite is not defined in the Australian Constitution, the Electoral Act or the Referendum Act. A plebiscite can also be referred to as a simple national vote.

Governments can hold plebiscites to test whether people either support or oppose a proposed action on an issue. The government is not bound by the 'result' of a plebiscite as it is by the result of a Constitutional referendum. Federal, state and territory governments have held plebiscites on various issues.

Under s. 7A of the Electoral Act, the AEC can conduct a plebiscite as a fee-for-service election, with the AEC entering into 'an agreement, on behalf of the Commonwealth, for the supply of goods or services to a person or body'. The rules for a plebiscite or fee-for-service election are normally contained in the terms of the agreement between the AEC and the person funding the election.

Military service plebiscites were held in 1916 and 1917 but, as they were not proposals to amend the Constitution, the provisions of section 128 of the Constitution did not apply. Voters in all federal territories were permitted to vote. Both the military service plebiscites sought a mandate for conscription and were defeated.

The first thing to note about a national plebiscite is that its outcome is not binding on the federal parliament or on any MP or senator.

Additionally, voting in a national plebiscite can be voluntary, unless otherwise stated in any legislation authorising a specific plebiscite. As was the case in the National Song Poll in May 1977 at which 7.59 million people or est. 90%+ of registered voters cast a voluntary ballot.

Besides being voluntary a plebiscite can also be a mail-out ballot as was the Election of Delegates to the Constitutional Convention some twenty years later in December 1997, at which 6 million ballot papers were returned, scrutinised and counted – that is to say only 50.04% of all eligible voters actually voluntarily voted and an est. 1.13% of these cast informal ballots.

A parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage was calculated as costing $17 million in 2016. A stand-alone same-sex plebiscite was estimated to cost up to $525 million in that same year.

An important point to note about a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage is that it is unnecessary as s51 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act gives federal parliament power to make laws regarding marriage and, parliament exercised that right as recently as 2004 when it changed the definition of marriage in order To ensure that same sex marriages are not recognised as marriage in Australia, inclusive of those performed under the laws of another country that permits such unions.

So one can see why far-right federal MPs and senators would be in favour of a voluntary plebiscite, particularly a postal one.

It may cost taxpayers more but the chances of a high voter participation rate is not as certain and, if the government of the day doesn't like the results of the ballot it can decide to not to act on them.

These parliamentarians probably believe those voters who will be less likely to return a postal ballot will not be those strongly opposed to same-sex marriage, but those who are undecided, neutral, or disinterestedly in favour of rewriting the Marriage Act to allow gay couples to wed.

In the minds of zealots like Eric Abetz and Tony Abbott this is probably seen as giving their cause a fighting chance and absolving them of any responsibility for continuing to actively oppose same-sex marriage.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

How the NSW public hospital system still fails those with mental health issues


“To see a mentally ill person in 2014 at a public hospital in NSW treated in such an appalling manner is really beyond comprehension. The sight of the deceased wandering the corridor naked and covered in excrement while the senior nurse is seen to mop the floor apparently oblivious to her is horrific. While this appears not to be a system failure it is clearly a serious human failure. It is for another place to take such disciplinary proceedings as appear necessary.” [Excerpt from a NSW coronial inquest judgment delivered on 7 September 2016]
ABC News, 12  May 2017:

The daughter of a woman who died after she was left to wander the halls of a New South Wales hospital while naked and covered in faeces says nurses there lied to her about what happened.

Miriam Merten died in 2014 from a brain injury after she fell over more than 20 times at the Mental Health Unit of Lismore Base Hospital, on the state's north coast.

A coronial inquest heard she was locked in a seclusion room for hours, and when the two nurses supervising her unlocked the door they allowed her to wander around naked, covered in faeces.

She continued to fall over outside the seclusion room.

Coroner Jeff Linden found she died from "traumatic brain injury caused by numerous falls and the self-beating of her head on various surfaces, the latter not done with the intention of taking her life".

"The sight of the deceased wandering the corridor naked and covered in excrement while the senior nurse is seen to mop the floor, apparently oblivious to her is horrific," he said.

The state's chief psychiatrist Murray Wright said he was equally shocked.

"I can't speak for what was happening in the minds of those nurses but I think it's an absolutely appalling incident," he said.

Ms Merten's daughter, Corina Leigh Merten, said she only found out exactly how her mother died when a journalist contacted her recently.

She said that at the time of her mother's death, nurses gave her a different version of how her mother died.

"I was in school, in Year 12, my dad came and picked me up and we went straight to the hospital," she said.

"At the time they told me she slipped and fell in the shower."

Now 20, Corina Merten said she did not know the coronial inquest was on.

"I'm so disappointed that it took a reporter for me to know what actually happened to my mum," she said.

ABC News, 13 April 2017:

The New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission said it had found that two nurses caring for a patient who later died from a brain injury kept no record of about 20 falls captured on CCTV.

The woman, known as Patient A, was filmed wandering naked and covered in faeces in Lismore's Adult Mental Health Unit in mid-2014.

CCTV footage showed that in the seven hours before she was transferred to intensive care she fell 24 times.

For most of that time she was alone in a locked room, but nursing records of her confinement made no mention of any falls.

During a five-hour period in the seclusion room, no-one entered to check the patient's temperature, pulse, respiration or blood pressure.

Patient A was not offered any food or water and had no access to a toilet.

The woman died from a brain injury the following day.

The HCCC found the two nurses charged with her care guilty of professional misconduct.


See: Civil and Administrative Tribunal New South Wales, Health Care Complaints Commission v Borthistle [2017] NSWCATOD 56 decision concerning “Patient A” and Health Care Complaints Commission v Burton [2017] NSWCATOD 57 decision concerning “Patient A” .

NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), Annual Report 2015-16:

Each year complaints relating to mental health make up around 12% of all complaints received by the Commission.
In 2015-16, there were 759 complaints in this category.
This means that over the five years from 2011 to 2015-16 the Commission has received 3,051 complaints concerning mental health….
Over the last five years the Commission received:
807 complaints about medical practitioners;
647 complaints about psychologists;
438 about mental health services in a public hospital and 299 about psychiatric hospitals;
302 about nurses; and,
220 about community health services.
In addition to the 12% of all health complaints being listed as complaints concerning mental health providers, another 5.4% of all health complaints are complaints concerning psychiatry providers.
This annual report also stated that 21% of all mental health complaints between 2011-12 to 2015-16 related to professional conduct and 31.9% related to treatment.

Of the mental health complaints received in 2015-16 there were:

46 referred to professional council;
40 resolved during assessment;
55 referred for local resolution;
23 investigation conducted by the HCCC;
46 referred to the HCCC's Resolution Service;
12 discontinued with comments;
7 referred to another body/person; and
226 discontinued with no reasons stated.

Case study included in HCCC Annual Report 2015-16 at page 58:

The Commission investigated a complaint against a mental health inpatient unit in a regional public hospital. The key facts were that:
* Patient A was scheduled under the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) with a dual diagnosis of schizophrenia and alcohol abuse
* The patient was difficult to manage due to lack of insight, non-compliance with medication and high level aggression.
* The decision to co-locate the patient in a double room with Patient B – both unpredictable and potentially violent patients – without any a risk assessment.
* On a night shift, required observations either not carried out at all or were not carried out in the manner required, but staff signed off that all care level checks were completed
* Overnight Patient B was killed by Patient A.
The investigation found that care and treatment of Patient A was inadequate. His care plan was ineffective, rigid and failed to improve his condition. There were lost opportunities in terms of appropriate, alternative ways to manage and treat him. Furthermore, his safety and that of others was put at risk through the decision to co-locate him with patient B and because staff failed to carry out the required observations.
SANE Australia 2013 report:
A Mental Health Council of Australia study (2011) found that people with mental illness reported similar levels of stigma from health professionals as from the general community.
Some of the study’s key findings are that:
* Almost 29% reported that a health professional had ‘shunned’ them. These figures rose to over 50% for people with post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder.
* Over 34% had been advised by a health professional to lower their expectations for accomplishment in life.
* Over 44% agreed that health professionals treating them for a physical disorder behaved differently when they discovered their history of a mental illness.

NSW Health Care Complaints Commission decisions recorded in 2016 & 2017 re other nursing staff complaints relating to treatment of patients with a psychiatric illness:

RNs Haridavan Pandya and Sumintra Prasad – Unsatisfactory professional conduct, 2 February 2017, concerning their care of a mental health patient at Bungarribee House mental health unit in Blacktown hospital on 28 February 2014.

RNs Abraham Thomas and Donna Hayden, and Ms Julie Rumble – Unsatisfactory professional conduct, 11 May 2017,concerning the death of a mental health inpatient at Dubbo Mental Health Inpatient Unit on 28 February 2014.

Mr Stephen Woods – disqualified from being registered as an enrolled nurse for a period of 12 months, 16 May 2016, concerning a physical and verbal attack of a patient in the Mental Health Intensive Care Unit at Hornsby Hospital on 9 April 2014.

Mr Neil Mullen (RN) – Unsatisfactory professional conduct – Reprimand and conditions imposed, 18 July 2016, concerning care of care of nine patients in the Shellharbour Hospital mental health unit on 30 and 31 July 2014. 

Mr Mike Siebe Greive - Registered Nurse - Disqualified for 18 months, 30 March 2016, concerning a female mental health patient at the Hornsby Hospital Adult Mental Health Unit between October and December 2013. 

Registered Nurses Wendy Kennedy, Christopher Parker and Jisnu Dowsett cautioned and Stewart Thompson reprimanded by a Nursing and Midwifery Professional Standards Committee, 1 June 2015, concerning care of a patient at Lismore Adult Mental Health Unit’s eight bed High Dependency Unit on 19 and 20 February 2013.  The patient was found deceased in his room on the morning of 20 February 2013.

Mr Ronnie Obusan - finding of unsatisfactory professional conduct – reprimand and conditions, 19 January 2016, concerning the nurse’s interactions with a patient in the mental health unit at Nepean Hospital in 2012. 

I'm sure NSW residents would all like to believe that each and every time they present at a public hospital they will be treated with professional care and respect.

Unfortunately that is not always the case as prejudice, discrimination and racism are rarely acknowleged by government as existing within the state health care system and are therefore tolerated by default.

“Stigma against people who have experienced a mental illness is deeply entrenched in our culture. It finds expression everywhere from the Parliament to the front bar. From courtrooms and pulpits to playgrounds it is possible to hear people who experience mental illness cast in an unfair light.”  [National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing Bulletin 6, Carr & Halpirin 2002, Stigma and discrimination]

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Women are still the majority of the low paid workers in Australia - a fact that is conveniently ignored by government


The Australian Taxation Office publishes a range of statistics which, despite the time lag, state and federal governments and their agencies rely on for a financial profile of the nation.

This April the data release covers the financial year 2014-15.

Table 3: Individuals – selected income items, 2013–14 to 2014–15 income years 
Income item
2013–14
2014–15

Individuals (no.)
Average ($)
Median ($)
Individuals (no.)
Average ($)
Median ($)
Salary or wages
10,304,687
56,689
46,656
10,469,919
57,576
47,502
Gross interest
7,335,773
1,821
162
7,659,362
1,622
138
Dividends – franked amount
2,861,982
7,971
506
2,849,504
7,776
549
Dividends – franking credit
2,855,343
3,422
218
2,843,250
3,338
237
Allowances, earnings, tips, director's fees etc
2,297,379
3,801
463
2,344,140
3,778
453
Net rent
2,033,973
−1,828
−1,675
2,077,235
−1,749
−1,624
Net non-primary production amount
1,748,849
28,993
5,122
1,786,937
28,582
4,927
Net income or loss from business – non-primary production transferred from item P8
1,078,383
26,269
12,095
1,122,260
26,192
12,221
Dividends – unfranked amount
1,060,280
887
78
1,064,264
942
84
Australian Government allowances and payments like Newstart, Youth Allowance and Austudy payment
922,538
5,664
4,942
966,709
5,906
5,178
Australian Government pensions and allowances
645,097
10,127
10,250
676,083
10,318
10,368
Net capital gain
609,678
23,585
1,901
672,484
25,944
2,137
Total income or loss
12,964,285
59,851
44,697
13,213,814
60,714
45,471
Note Total income or loss: components do not add to the total number of taxpayers because taxpayers may declare more than one type of income. Some components of total income are not listed in this table. The count, average and median for total income or loss are calculated including zeroes.

Whichever way one looks at salary/wage line in this table it clearly shows that ordinary Australian workers are not doing well, with half having annual incomes below $47,502. That's 5.1 million people earning far less than the $195,130 base salary enjoyed by 
members of the Turnbull Government who are even now looking for ways to reduce the takehome pay of such workers. 

Of the 13.21 million individuals who lodged a tax return in 2015, 6.85 million were males and 6.35 million were females. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2013-14 there were also an est. 1.22 million people of working age lived alone with a significant number of these individuals having incomes below the median annual salary/wage, so it is likely that a similar situation existed in 2014-15.

If one divides the ATO tax returns by gender it is not hard to see that more women than men would be found in the group earning less than $47,502.

This is not just a passing phase in wages growth – women have consistently been on the bottom of the wage ladder this century. This despite the fact that they are better educated now than in centuries past and so many are in paid employment.

The Guardian helpfully published a breakdown on 18 April 2017 from which I selected three graphs to illustrate the point:


In the article Greg Jericho concluded: Women made up 45% of all people earning a taxable income in 2014-15, and yet they accounted for just 25% of those in the richest 10% but 57% of those in the poorest decile……It goes without saying that if you earn a large income you are more likely to be a man and if you earn a small income you are most likely to be a woman – and it really does not matter what your job is.

The Australian Government Workplace and Gender Equality Agency stated in August 2016:

The full-time average weekly ordinary earnings for women are 16.2% less than for men.
Among non-public sector organisations with 100 or more employees, the gender pay gap for full-time annualised base salary is 19.1%, and for full-time annualised total remuneration is 24.0%.
The full-time average hourly earnings for women are 13.9% less than men's full-time average hourly earnings.
The gender pay gap in ASX 200 organisations is 28.7%.
Average graduate salaries for women are 9.4% less than for men. When factors such as personal characteristics, occupation, industry and education are accounted for, average graduate salaries for women are 4.4% less than for men.
Average superannuation balances for women at retirement are 52.8% less than those for men.
Of people aged 65 years and older receiving the aged pension, 55.6% are women.

This agency also pointed out that:

Of all women aged 20-24, 90.1% have attained year 12 qualifications or above, compared to 86.3% of men in the same age bracket.
Of all women aged 25-29, 39.6% have achieved a bachelor degree or above, compared to 30.4% of men of the same age bracket.
A slightly higher proportion of men (6.1%) aged 15-74 years attained a postgraduate degree than women (5.7%) of the same age bracket.

The reality is that women have never enjoyed equal pay across all industries and occupations and the national economy relies on them supplying cheaper labour.

So the next time your local MP tells you that he or she understands how "middle Australia" is feeling or attempts to position their family there – openly scoff at such a nonsensical viewpoint.

If your MP tells you that he/she supports the right to equal pay - walk away whilst raising a middle finger in disgust.