Monday, December 14, 2009

"Rabbit-Proof Fence" grossly inaccurate

RABBIT-PROOF Fence, the film that in the eyes of millions of children around Australia tells the true story of the Stolen Generations, is "grossly inaccurate" and should be withdrawn from schools.

Keith Windschuttle, a frontline warrior in the history wars, has questioned the veracity of the film - though not the book on which it was based - in the third volume of his series, The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, to be released next week, The Australian reports.

In Phillip Noyce's award-winning film, three young indigenous girls are snatched from their family's embrace on a remote settlement in Western Australia, forcibly removed by a racist government bent on "breeding out the colour". Based on a true story, the movie tells of Molly, Daisy and Gracie and their remarkable 2000km trek home following the rabbit fence. It remains the most vivid and poignant example yet of what has come to be known as the Stolen Generations.

The problem is, this big-screen version of their journey, which is now a staple of school curriculums across the country, does not include all the details of the original story. Windschuttle has researched the experiences of sisters Molly Craig, 14, Daisy Kadibill, 8, and their cousin Gracie Fields, 10, for his book.

According to the historian, Molly and Gracie were removed from their families on the Jigalong Depot more than 75 years ago because of their "sexual activity with white men working in the area".

The West Australian chief protector responsible for their removal, Auber Octavius Neville, had not been trying to "breed out the colour" by marrying off half-caste Aboriginal girls to whites as depicted in the film, Windschuttle said. His claim was born of a review of state archives, where he found a letter to A.O. Neville in December 1930 by a Mrs Chellow, from Murra Munda Station near Jigalong, in which Molly and Gracie were accused of "running wild with the whites".

"Running wild' was said to be a contemporary euphemism for promiscuity, which meant the girls were having sex with the white males in the area," Windschuttle writes in the preface of his new work.

He told The Australian yesterday: "They didn't say these girls were sc--ing boys, they said they were running wild . . . anyone from that era knows the meaning of the term. "That is the big lie of the film. Neville did not use child removal in order to breed out the race."


Barnaby challenges Rudd's climate giveaways

Given the parlous state of Australian public hospitals, the giveaways are a disgrace

BARNABY Joyce has demanded Kevin Rudd reveal how much money will be siphoned out of hospitals and roads to help developing nations meet climate change goals. World leaders, including the Prime Minister, will this week arrive at the critical point of the United Nations global climate change talks, which have become bogged down about the responsibilities of developed and developing countries.

Mr Rudd in recent days has spoken to several world leaders, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg about the meeting. "The leaders agreed on the need to increase the momentum for a successful outcome to the Copenhagen meeting and to work closely with Australia to that end," a spokesman for Mr Rudd said yesterday.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong yesterday said she was hoping for an outcome on mitigation and financing. "We will do our fair share . . . (because) we're not going to have a global agreement unless there are arrangements around financing, including private and public," she said.

But Senator Joyce, the Opposition's new finance spokesman, was concerned about Senator Wong's plan to commit Australia to a worldwide fund to help poorer countries cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Senator Joyce said Australia was broke and if it had to help pay for other countries it would have to borrow money. "Australian taxpayers have a right to know how much Mr Rudd and Senator Wong have decided to give people who do not pay tax in Australia," Senator Joyce said. "How much are we going to give to (Zimbabwean President Robert) Mugabe (and) the regime in Sudan?

"I'm scared he's going to be a big man with someone else's cheque book. "For every dollar spent on developing countries is a dollar that can't be spent on hospitals and roads in Australia."


Child protection, Victorian style

No protection but plenty of coercion

A 12-YEAR-OLD Victorian girl was raped by five men while in state care and later absconded from welfare care to live with three men who gave her marijuana and cigarettes.

The case was highlighted in a Children's Court hearing last week, The Age newspaper reports. In the hearing, Victoria's Department of Human Services sought to extend a secure welfare order on the girl to keep her in a secure unit and monitor her movements. The order had been placed on the girl by the Children's Court.

The girl was living in DHS residential care when she was raped by five men one day in October, and had since escaped her DHS residential care seven times to live with three men before she was placed in secure care, the newspaper said.

The court extended the girl's secure welfare order until just before Christmas, but the department is now seeking a therapeutic placement for the girl, in which the DHS would have sole custody while the girl gets psychological treatment.

The case comes week's after a damning ombudsman's report into child protection that found the Victorian government was failing to protect some of the state's most vulnerable children.


Ham-fisted medical bureaucrats again

You sometimes wonder if they are human beings. They are about as subtle as a punch in the head. Paperwork trumps people. And they are not backing down. The only people they don't bother are the crooks

EMINENT doctors - including prominent pro-RAH crusader Jim Katsaros - have been threatened with suspension unless they prove they are qualified. The demand for proof comes as the Health Department belatedly moves to ensure doctors employed in the public system are qualified. The move comes in the wake of the Queensland scandal in which former Bundaberg Hospital surgeon Dr Jayant Patel faces three charges of manslaughter and two of grievous bodily harm, as well as 387 claims for compensation. [All of which happened years ago]

SA Health Minister John Hill declined to answer whether he could guarantee every doctor in the health system was qualified. Public hospital specialists have been sent letters demanding they produce a certified copy of their primary medical degree, certified copy of post-graduate qualifications and a copy of their curriculum vitae. Surgeons with decades of service have baulked at the demand that they dismantle their framed medical degrees, firmly attached to their office walls, to show bureaucrats they are qualified.

Dr Katsaros, the RAH's head of plastic and reconstructive surgery, has written back objecting to the "wasteful and time-consuming" demand, and invited officials to view his degrees in his office where they are "framed and glued to a wall". During the week he was given a curt written warning by RAH general manager Lindsay Gough saying he would be suspended unless he produced the documents within two weeks. [Bluff! He would be in deep do-do if he fired essential medical staff]

Dr Katsaros, who has worked at the RAH since 1968 and is chairman of the Save the RAH committee, said it was "bureaucracy gone mad". "You have bureaucrats sitting in their ivory towers, who never come into hospital wards to see what happens with patients, trying to justify their existence," he said. "We have patients lying in corridors, waiting lists that have blown out, medical staff juggling the workload and these turkeys come up with this blunderbuss approach to belatedly see if the people they have employed are actually doctors. "We work our butts off in the public system because we care about patients and we want to teach the younger generation coming through, and while we are dealing with the reality of health care the bureaucrats want me to dismantle my degrees off my wall to show I really am a doctor."

Director of ear, nose and throat surgery at the RAH, Dr Suren Krishnan - who has been employed at the hospital since 1982 and is a past president of the Australian and New Zealand Head and Neck Society - is similarly livid. "Some patients are waiting 12 months to see me here - I am too busy looking after patients to deal with over-the-top big brother policies of the Health Department," he said. "When someone applies for a job there should be a duty of care to present their Medical Board credentials - surely they can check that by computer or a phone call rather than a bureaucrat demanding we bring in our degrees. "It shows how divorced they are from the coalface of patient care; we're dealing with waiting lists that are out of control and our focus is on patient care. "Then we get this officious letter that has offended quite a number of doctors."

In response to questions from the Sunday Mail , Mr Hill's office provided a statement saying all doctors appointed to specialist positions across SA public hospitals were now required to produce original certificates for their basic and specialist qualifications in the wake of the Patel scandal. "This credentialling reflects national standards, and health systems across Australia are adopting these more rigorous checks," the statement said. "The tighter checks are aimed at protecting the community, and ensuring that doctors are properly credentialled to provide surgery in SA hospitals."

SA Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips said the new policy was fundamental to ensuring people working as doctors had relevant qualifications. "It is mandatory for all medical staff employed within SA Health; it is the foundation of safety and quality in our hospitals," he said.


Jailed rapist gets erection problem help

TAXPAYERS are paying to fix the penile erection problems of a jailed rapist who once ran with Ivan Milat's gang. The decision by the New South Wales State Government's Justice Health Department has sparked outrage among victims.

John Powch, 62, is known by Corrective Services officers as a "serious sex offender", a man behind bars for three counts of sexual assault for which he was jailed in 2004 for nine years, four months. Sources said he has never admitted his crimes, believed to be against one woman, and has steadfastly refused to do any of the sex offenders courses in Long Bay jail where he is being held.

However, on November 23, prison guards escorted him to the Prince of Wales Hospital's urology theatre for an "on table erection test".

Justice Health, which caters to prisoners' medical needs and is controlled by NSW Health, refused to comment on Powch's case. However, a spokesman said the department "does not take offending history into consideration when providing health services".

A Sydney urologist, who asked not to be named, said "an on table erection test is usually done for investigations of penile curvature or other disorders related to penile erectile dysfunctions, which, in itself, is not a life-threatening condition".

Howard Brown, from the Victims of Crime Assistance League, said the treatment was "incredible". "I don't object to us paying for life-threatening surgery if required but I'll be stuffed if we should be paying because his waterworks are having problems; particularly when you take into consideration the crime for which he is inside. "This is not life-threatening. This bloke should have been a candidate for chemical castration while he was in (theatre)."

Powch, a hardened criminal who has been behind bars most of his adult life, is in jail until October 19, 2013. He was named one of NSW's 10 most wanted criminals after escaping from Cessnock jail in 1980, during which time he robbed banks. In the 1970s, Powch was involved in armed hold-ups with Ivan Milat, who was cleared of the charges but went on to become a serial killer. By the mid-1980s, Powch was the right-hand man for major drug importer David Kelleher and jailed in 1985 for 18 years for conspiring to import heroin.


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