Monday, January 14, 2008


Your government will protect you (NOT). Three current reports below:

11 lost innocents: Safeguards fail our most vulnerable

Eleven Queensland children were allegedly killed by their parents or their parents' partners last year. All were under the age of seven. They included some of the seven children known to Queensland's child protection system who were fatally assaulted in 2007.

Queensland Homicide Victims' Support Group chief executive officer Jonty Bush said it was alarming that the 11 children killed represented almost 20 percent of the 56 Queensland homicide cases in 2007. Ms Bush said the shocking statistics and the alleged murder and rape of a girl, 10, by her father at Bribie Island on New Year's Eve indicated the state was failing miserably in protecting its most vulnerable. "Urgent steps must be taken to ensure Queensland doesn't have another year like last year," Ms Bush said. She called for tougher penalties for those convicted of manslaughter of a child and longer time in jail for those serving life sentences for child murders.

Seven parents and four partners of parents have been charged over the child deaths last year, which include:

January: Palm Island girl, 14 months, died in Cairns. Her mother's partner, 18, was charged with murder, rape and torture.

April: A four-day-old Mt Isa girl died. Her mother was charged with murder.

June: A Gold Coast father, 25, who fled after a car crash that killed his sons, aged seven months and two, was charged with manslaughter.

July: A Cherbourg mother, 23, was charged with murdering her son, aged seven. Two Toowoomba boys, aged one and four, were allegedly killed and their mother's boyfriend charged with murder.

September: A Margate boy, aged two, died and his parents, aged 32 and 34, were charged with manslaughter and torture.

The article above is by Kay Dibben and appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on January 13, 2008

Inaction on abuse exposed

NEARLY 2700 cases of suspected child abuse across Queensland have no case worker allocated to investigate and assess the alleged maltreatment. The revelations came as the Department of Child Safety announced the deployment last week of a special flying squad to Cape York to tackle a backlog of child protection notifications there.

A Child Safety Department spokesman confirmed a team of 12 child safety officers, seconded from around the state, had begun arriving in the Cape as part of an "assessment and investigation strategy to ensure the safety and wellbeing of indigenous children in the region". "The assessment team will travel throughout the Cape and Torres Strait over a six-week period to ensure all current child protection notifications are assessed," a departmental spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman did not comment when asked whether the department had been stung into action following recent revelations of the multiple rape of a 10-year-old Aurukun girl in the department's care and the non-custodial sentences given to the six boys and three men who pleaded guilty to her rape. The spokeswoman said the initiative was among several ongoing strategies by the department to reduce backlogs throughout the state. She said the recruitment and retention of staff in rural and remote areas was particularly difficult and meant those officers who were working in the Cape Torres office - servicing the Cape - had heavy caseloads.

Opposition child safety spokeswoman Jann Stuckey said although the decision to send a team of seconded workers to the Cape was welcome, it did not resolve some of the critical issues facing the agency, including high staff turnover and inadequate training.

The new data on the number of outstanding suspected child abuse cases was obtained by The Courier-Mail from the Department of Child Safety after Minister for Child Safety Margaret Keech failed to provide it in answer to a question on notice posed by Opposition Leader Jeff Seeney. The figures, current as at December 31, also showed that a further 2708 initial assessments were awaiting finalisation. But worrying though the data appeared, it actually represented a 45 per cent drop in the initial assessment backlog published by The Courier-Mail in October 2006.

The department claimed that none of the total 5405 unallocated and incomplete assessments were priority one cases - where children are considered to be at very high risk of serious abuse. North Queensland, which includes Cape York, had the smallest backlog at 420 cases, with 195 of those awaiting allocation of a case worker.


Assault cases `hidden'

STATE Government departments are failing to inform each other of violent assaults against children in indigenous communities. The claim has been made by a veteran police officer. In a damning submission to the Crime and Misconduct Commission, Detective Senior Sergeant Murray Ferguson lists a series of Government failures to protect children from abuse and neglect at Doomadgee and Mornington Island. Det Sen-Sgt Ferguson received a State Government award four months ago for his child-protection work in the communities. His submission, based on five years in both communities, was compiled in response to a CMC inquiry into policing in indigenous communities. The submission says:

* The Children's Commission notified the Child Safety Department about the welfare of children but the information was not passed on to police.

* Health and Education staff were reluctant to be proactive with child protection as they were overwhelmed by the problem.

* "On occasion", child-safety officers looking after the region downgraded notifications to eliminate the need for police.

The Child Safety Department has come under fire over a series of bungled cases, most notably for taking a 10-year old girl out of foster care and returning her to Aurukun, where she was gang raped. The Sunday Mail also revealed last week that an investigation into the murder of a four-day-old baby unearthed a backlog of more than 100 possible cases of child abuse and neglect in the regional child safety office in Mount Isa.

Det Sen-Sgt Ferguson's submission highlights problems that go back years. In one case, a nurse who went to work at Mornington Island in 2006 found medical practitioners and nurses were not fulfilling their reporting requirements. "A child (13) stabbed in the back of the head was not reported to either (Child Safety or police) until the chart was reviewed by the health nurse."

Det Sen-Sgt Ferguson refused to speak to The Sunday Mail, saying his submission was confidential. But in it he said the housing crisis at Doomadgee and Mornington meant that "children routinely sleep with adults . . . (which) presents the perfect opportunity for adult sexual predators to prey on young children".

Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said findings, opinions and recommendations by Det Sen-Sgt Ferguson were personal commentary and not the service's official position. "Senior officers . . . examined the material and have addressed any appropriate issues," he said.


Australia's centre-Left government to fund a home-grown "green" car

What a laugh! But half a billion dollars down the drain is not so funny. It's a prime example of how Green/Left governments are completely out of touch with business realities

THE Rudd Government is forging ahead with attempts to create a home-grown green car, hoping to generate $2 billion worth of investment in the ailing auto industry. Industry Minister Kim Carr is overseeing work on an election promise to create the car, which could rival other successful energy-efficient models such as the Toyota Prius [In his dreams!]

The Government has pledged to put in half a billion dollars to create Green Car Partnership over a five year period from 2011. Senator Carr said: "This fund will generate $2 billion in investment to develop and build fuel-efficient cars in Australia and will be developed in consultation with the sector as part of the upcoming review of the auto industry. "The automotive industry is of vital importance to the Australian manufacturing sector and to the Australian economy more broadly. "The industry currently faces a range of challenges, such as climate change and the environment and consumer demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles."

Australians have been slow to embrace green cars. There are not any manufactured here and only 3200 hybrids were sold in 2006. [Which shows the usual good sense of Australians]


Caesareans heading to danger level

THE number of caesarean births in Australia is reaching unmanageable levels, placing lives at risk and tying up thousands of hospital beds, operating theatres and health workers with a costly elective procedure. With caesarean rates now about 30 per cent, anxious governments and health groups in Australia and overseas are trying to turn back the tide, as evidence of the harm caused by repeat surgical births mounts and doubts emerge about the protection a caesarean birth is thought to provide. Modelling by the NSW Department of Health, which has been obtained by the Herald, shows that a rise of just 1 per cent in elective caesareans would come at the cost of a huge rise in "occasions of service", diverting scarce clinical resources from other areas.

About 90,000 babies are born in NSW each year, so that 1 per cent increase would mean hundreds more caesarean sections, as well as more bed days, in already overstretched public hospitals. If the caesarean rate rises to 39 per cent - which many experts fear will happen soon - it will mean thousands more surgical births every year. In a public system that is hundreds of beds and thousands of staff short, and in the midst of a mini-baby boom, that extra strain would be unbearable, obstetricians and midwives warn.

Doctors are quick to point out that, when the health of the mother or baby is at risk, or in an emergency, a caesarean is often the safest way to give birth. There is further evidence that private obstetricians' fees are eating away at the Medicare safety net, meaning taxpayers are bearing the brunt of the increases in elective caesareans at state and federal levels.

Such is the concern that NSW Health organised a meeting of the state's leading midwives and obstetricians to develop strategies to reduce the number of women choosing elective caesareans. Six months later many who attended that meeting despair at the absence of a coherent, statewide plan to reduce the number of women who elect to give birth surgically without a medical reason. The director of women's and children's health at St George Hospital, Michael Chapman, believes the rate of elective caesarean sections could be reduced by at least 5 per cent if women were presented with "accurate information in a believable manner".

Professor Chapman said there were strong health and economic arguments for reducing the number of elective caesareans. A caesarean was at least twice as expensive as a vaginal delivery, he said. "The State Government has to face this issue - we have gone up from 2260 births three years ago to 2700 this year [at St George Hospital] and, with a 30 per cent caesarean rate, that is an extra 100 caesars . it is pushing our operating lists to the limit."

A professor of women's health, nursing and midwifery at the Royal Hospital for Women at Randwick, Sally Tracy, said that not only was it far riskier for women to have caesareans when there was no medical reason, but there was now overwhelming evidence that it carried great risk for babies, too. "Up until now . caesarean section was first and foremost done to protect the baby," she said. Yet a study by Professor Tracy, published in the journal Birth last month, found babies born in an elective caesarean at full term were almost twice as likely to be admitted to a neo-natal intensive care unit as those born vaginally. Professor Tracy's research is one of a dozen studies in the past year cataloguing the harm from elective caesareans.

Last month, in its "committee opinion" on elective caesareans, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said surgical birth resulted in a longer hospital stay for the mother, increased respiratory problems for the baby and greater complications in later pregnancies.

A spokesman for the Minister for Health, Reba Meagher, said a policy was released last year to prevent elective caesareans before 39 weeks of gestation unless there were medical reasons. Maternity services were being reviewed, and the Government expected a new policy to be finalised this year, he said. [Don't rush, now!]


No comments: