Friday, May 01, 2009

CHEEESH!! For once Telstra is doing the right thing and some !@#$%^& judge blocks them

These "Premium" SMS services seem to be almost entirely a con. Check your bills for them. I was billed for such services myself when I was with Vodafone, although I had never asked for or received such services. Voda promptly reversed the charges when I complained but refused to co-operate with any investigation of how the charges arose. And the TIO seemed to think that no investigation was needed because Voda had reversed the charges. Prevention of fraud is obviously not one of their priorities. I think I know how I got targeted but nobody wants to hear it apparently. I even wrote to ACMA but they too refused to take any interest. The crooks who targeted me were called "Mobile Messenger"

TELSTRA has been blocked in its bid to throw an SMS service off its network after it received a high number of complaints from annoyed customers. Telstra wants to disconnect premium SMS supplier Oxygen 8 because it has received a "disproportionately large" level of complaints about its service.

The NSW Federal Court was told traffic to Oxygen 8's services tripled between October 2007 and January 2009, The Australian has reported. The court also heard evidence from a report by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman that nearly two-thirds of complaints about premium SMS services were from customers who said they had never signed up to receive them.

In February, Telstra gave Oxygen 8 60 days' notice that it would be dropped from its network, citing a clause in the contract between the two companies which would allow it to do so. Oxygen 8 was granted an injunction against being dropped while it challenged the action in the courts. It says Telstra's system for handling complaints is in breach of their contract and federal rules. Telstra had been trying to have that injunction dropped and Oxygen 8's claim dismissed, but in court yesterday Judge Geoffrey Flick ordered the injunction remain in place.

Judge Flick ordered the two companies to begin preparations for a trial starting on July 27. He gave Telstra leave to apply to vary the orders, including lifting the injunction. Telstra refused to enter into mediation with Oxygen 8 to settle the matter out of court.

A Telstra spokesman said: "Telstra is confident about the validity of its termination notice and its prospects on the final hearing. Telstra is committed to the responsible provision of premium SMS services."

Oxygen 8 has alleged that Telstra's SMS complaints handling systems and procedures are inadequate and in breach of the ACMA Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2005 (No1).


Welfare payments to the young will stop for those not learning or earning

A good move -- should reduce the population of ferals somewhat

JOBLESS young Australians who are not training or studying will be stripped of welfare payments under changes to ensure skilled workers emerge from the recession. The federal and state governments yesterday agreed to guarantee training or education places to anyone aged under 25 as part of their Compact with Young Australians, The Courier-Mail reports. Nationally, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd estimates 135,000 Australians aged under 25 could get higher qualifications.

The changes come as the Treasury forecasts that one million people could be out of work due to the recession. Mr Rudd unveiled the agreement in Hobart at a Council of Australian Governments meeting. Mr Rudd said young people who lost their jobs must not become the long-term unemployed of tomorrow. The Government will also crackdown on welfare payments.

Anyone aged under 20 who has not completed Year 12 must be studying or training to get the Youth Allowance, which starts at $203.30 a fortnight. The same conditions will apply to parents seeking Family Tax Benefit A. If young people or their parents want to get government benefits the quid pro quo is that the young person is working or earning a Year 12 equivalent qualification, Mr Rudd said. Anyone aged under 17 must be in full-time school, training, or work.

But Mr Rudd brushed aside questions about whether the training compact would help keep jobless young Australians from being counted in the damaging official unemployment figures.

Australian Industry Group head Heather Ridout applauded the measures, saying the jobs compact would help deliver employment opportunities and skills. The states also agreed to bring forward from 2020 to 2015 the goal of having the 90 per cent rate of students attain Year 12 qualifications.


Guns, knives on the increase in NSW schools

TEACHERS have faced an escalation in the number of incidents involving students bringing weapons into the classroom, prompting calls for crisis intervention to address the problem. New figures show 400 suspensions were given to students caught with firearms or knives in school last year.

The data has triggered calls by the State opposition for an urgent increase in the number of school counsellors available, to identify and engage in crisis intervention with students at risk.

The data, provided under Freedom of Information laws, shows there were 14,405 suspensions handed out to students between kindergarten to Year 12 last year. A student who receives a long suspension is banned from entering the school grounds for 20 days. Further breaches can result in a formal expulsion.

The suspensions were for using or possessing a prohibited weapon, firearm or knife, engaging in serious criminal behaviour and physical violence. Other categories of suspension have included persistent misbehaviour, possession or use of a suspected illegal substance, or using an implement as a weapon. The figures show that the number of suspensions given for "use or possession" of a gun, knife or other prohibited weapon rose 17 per cent from 339 in 2005 to 398 last year.

However, the category with the biggest increase was for students engaging in serious criminal behaviour, such as stealing. The number of students suspended for offences that could attract a criminal charge also rose, with 970 suspensions handed out - an increase of 45 per cent on four years ago. The largest number of suspensions were handed out to students who had engaged in physical violence, which included assaults or bullying.

The figures show there were 6500 suspensions for violent behaviour - a 20 per cent increase over the past four years. A further 6061 suspensions were given to students for persistent misbehaviour - up 43 per cent. Increasing numbers of students were also removed for using or threatening to use an implement as a weapon with 204 suspensions handed out - an increase of 27 per cent.

A breakdown of ages shows the vast majority of misbehaving students are aged between 12 and 16. The data also shows pupils in Years 7-10 made up 74 per cent of the total number of suspensions.

State opposition education spokesman Adrian Piccoli said the State government needed urgently to increase the number of counsellors in schools. The latest data showed there was roughly one counsellor for every 1500 students, he said. "Counsellors can identify kids at risk and carry out crisis prevention, clinical assessments and identify behavioural difficulties before it comes to the point of weapons being brought to school," Mr Piccoli said. He said a recent survey conducted by school principals showed the greatest need for increased counsellor numbers was in schools in the Campbelltown, Cumberland, Liverpool, Mt Druitt and Dubbo regions.

A spokesman for NSW Education Minister Verity Firth said the figures showed more principals were using increased powers introduced in 2005 to suspend misbehaving students. But he said more school students were also learning from their mistakes, with 73 percent of those suspended only suspended once.


Another Queensland Health disgrace: Rodent attack on elderly patient foreseen but nothing done

QUEENSLAND Health knew about a mouse plague in a Darling Downs nursing home three months before the rodents gnawed a war veteran's head on Anzac Day. As the Federal Government demanded action on the scandal at the Karingal aged care home attached to the Dalby Hospital, it emerged that a second elderly man was also attacked at the facility last week. Queensland Health yesterday said extra staff, traps and bait had now controlled the rodents.

Staff initially began demanding action against the infestation in early February. It is another shameful episode within the embattled Health Department, highlighted by recent bungles involving staff housing security before and after a Torres Strait nurse was sexually assaulted in February last year.

The Digger [vet], 89, who served in New Guinea during World II, was resting on Saturday when his face, neck and ears were "severely chewed" by the rodents. His daughter, who only wished to be known as Julie said her father tried to brush the mice away but ended up covered in blood, with 10 cuts. She said her father was so distressed he required morphine and almost died. "You know that the inevitable is inevitable but you do not want mice to be the catalyst," Julie said.

Queensland Health last night confirmed the wife of the other patient told staff on Monday her elderly husband had been bitten on Friday. "When staff were notified they sought to treat the wound on the man's forearm but were unable to find a lesion," a Health spokeswoman said.

The revelations emerged three days after Queensland Health issued a media release about the plague which failed to mention the weekend attack. Deputy Premier Paul Lucas is the latest Health Minister to be left clueless about his department's failings. "The simple point of this is I found out about this this morning," Mr Lucas said yesterday. "I am told it happened a few days ago. It is not acceptable that I found out this morning. I would like to apologise that this incident took place."

The Digger's daughter said staff at the facility had repeatedly demanded radical action from the department against the infestation in February. "My understanding is that since the end of February staff – who have been marvellous in caring for my father – have recognised there is an issue that should be dealt with," Julie said.

She complained to Liberal National Party MP Ray Hopper, who asked Mr Lucas in a letter on Wednesday to order a neighbouring paddock be poisoned to supplement other control measures in place in the nursing home and hospital. But because the state-owned paddock has been zoned commercial/residential the use of an agricultural strength chemical lethal to mice is banned.

Queensland Health asked the Dalby Regional Council to rezone the land rural for 24 hours so the land could be sprayed, Mayor Ray Brown said. "We could not do that," he said. "Imagine the brouhaha if we bent the rules to accommodate Queensland Health." He said Queensland Health had wrongly claimed that council was responsible for the issue.

National Seniors Australia chief executive Michael O'Neill said: "Authorities need to realise our oldest citizens have been exposed to risk and someone should just get on and fix it."


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