Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thick-skulled Queensland police missed a rapist who was right under their noses

And the so-called police watchdog was not interested. The man the police framed instead has just had his conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal

A MAN suspected of killing Goodna schoolgirl Leanne Holland is a police informant and convicted rapist. He is a sadistic, violent predator, who was once friends with the Holland family, lived near them and had taken Leanne for rides in his vehicle.

The man, 56, unofficially worked with detectives investigating Leanne's murder. The Sunday Mail spoke to him briefly in 2006. He claimed to have helped police solve the killing by working "undercover" but declined to elaborate.

The Sunshine Coast man served a seven-year sentence for rape and incest before being released in 2003. Coincidentally, he was in the same jail west of Brisbane as Graham Stafford for some of that period. The man was identified by two women in a Sunday Mail report in 2005 as being responsible for Leanne's murder. The women claimed they told police the man, their biological father, carried out the shocking sex slaying but it was never investigated. In the 2005 book Who Killed Leanne? by former detective Graeme Crowley and criminologist Paul Wilson, the sisters revealed:

• Their father knew Leanne and raped them at the same spot at Redbank Plains, Ipswich, where her body was found.

• He tortured them, leaving similar cigarette lighter burns to those on Leanne's body.

• He had photos of her corpse which he either took himself or obtained from the police file and threatened that they would end up the same way if they talked.

The Sunday Mail revealed in 2006 that the man was repeatedly given weekend leave from prison during his rape sentence. Corrective Services sources said the man was given 13 weekend leave passes in one seven-month period.

The Sunday Mail took information on the man to the CMC [police watchdog] in 2007 but it declined to investigate, saying it would be an "unjustifiable use of resources".


Newer playgrounds are too dull for kids

FINDING a decent playground these school holidays should be a walk in the park, but parents and health experts say the quality of Melbourne play spots for children is on the slide. New-age playgrounds designed to minimise injury have come under fire for being boring and limiting.

Experts have warned a lack of older-style "adventure" playgrounds could be holding back our children's development. Child nutritionist Kim Bishop, of Yu Food and Lifestyle, said old-fashioned playgrounds let children exercise more effectively. "I certainly tend to go for the older playgrounds rather than the more sterile environments," Ms Bishop said. "At a playground, kids need a space where they are free to move in a variety of different ways. "There has even been controversy around sandpits as play spaces, but I think it's important to let kids put their hands and feet in dirt and sand."

Researchers at the University of Western Australia have launched a study on the declining quality and number of playgrounds and their effect on children. The project's research leader, Lisa Wood, has said councils and schools go overboard in creating safe and sterile environments, and that children should be given greater scope to play.

Docklands mum-of-three Kristy Seymour-Smith agreed, saying playgrounds should be designed for fun. "I think of the playgrounds that were around when I was a kid - they were quite a bit different," Ms Seymour-Smith said. "As long as there's supervision, they can be fun and safe at the same time."


Centre to tame violent Preschoolers

Without physical punishment, it is almost certain to be ineffective but it least it will keep the badly behaved ones away from the others for a while

CHILDREN as young as four who are too violent to teach will be sent to Queensland's first behaviour school for Prep students. The trial centre will open in January and comes as primary teachers complain of being hit, kicked and sworn at. Experts say the epidemic of broken families and substance abuse in the home is fuelling the anger and volatile behaviour in young children.

Educators want the initiative rolled out across Queensland to protect staff and other students and save troubled kids from growing into dangerous adults. The Early Years Education Centre, partly funded by Education Queensland, will be based on the Gold Coast. Problem students aged between four and six will be referred by state schools and undertake a course for up to a semester. Their parents will be encouraged to take part and will be taught life skills in recognition that behaviour problems usually stem from home.

Education Queensland's South Coast Region executive director Glen Hoppner said principals, parents, teachers and other agencies would confer before referring students. Mr Hoppner said behaviours that "impeded a student's capacity to successfully engage in learning and to interact socially" would be addressed with both parents and students. "To our knowledge, this is the first such centre with this unique collaborative community-based approach," he said.

The breakthrough early intervention centre has been welcomed by teachers, with the union calling on the State Government to extend it throughout Queensland. Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said Prep students were hitting and kicking other students and teachers and throwing furniture. "It's a sad reflection on society that we actually have to go to these steps with kids so young," said Mr Ryan, who added he was concerned the program was not being properly funded by Education Queensland.

EQ will provide a teacher, teacher aide and psychologist for the centre, which will accept 12 students at a time. The community group SAILS (Sailing Adventures in Life Skills), which came up with the idea, will wear the remaining costs for up to six program facilitators and an administration officer. Money will be sought from the community and through fundraising.

SAILS director Russell McClue said there were already more students needing help than could be accommodated. Students and parents would attend three days a week for up to a semester and undergo the American-created "Incredible Years" course which he said had been proven to have the best results. Mr McClue said students would continue their Education Queensland Prep curriculum but in smaller groups with teachers trained specifically in how to deal with them. The children would also be taught how to better interact with teachers, peers and family. At the same time parents will undergo training in life skills and parenting.

Teachers will offer praise and incentives for co-operative behaviour and establish clear rules and routines that promote responsibility. They will also help children stay calm and regulate and understand their emotions.

However, child psychologist Dr Alina Morawska, from the Parenting and Family Support Centre at the University of Queensland, warned that grouping children together with similar problems could make behaviour worse. Dr Morawska said evidence suggested the best way to treat kids was through parenting intervention. [And how do you do that?? The stupid b*tch has obviously had very little to do with the real ferals -- who respect nobody]


NSW Ambulance chiefs still failing to stop bullying by officers

AFTER 11 inquiries in nine years, the Ambulance Service of NSW has failed to properly tackle bullying and harassment, an internal report says. The Report on Staff Support Services - April 2009, obtained by the Herald under freedom-of-information laws, examined the use of counselling services and said the issue of bullying and harassment was still of "great concern". Ten of 121 employees interviewed by independent consultants identified bullying or harassment as an issue for them and all "expressed a concern about management's involvement in resolving these issues".

"We take these concerns seriously and consider that action be taken by the Ambulance Service of NSW in dealing with these harassment/bullying issues," the report said.

A parliamentary inquiry last year found widespread bullying and harassment within the service. It is due to reconvene in the new year to assess the ambulance service's progress in dealing with this and several other workplace issues.

The report said that in the six months to August 2008, 152 employees used counselling services, which was equal to 8 per cent of the workforce. The Northern Division had the most referrals. One case was categorised as "suicide or attempted suicide", and one person was on 83 weeks' paid leave for stress.

The chairwoman of the parliamentary inquiry, Robyn Parker, said she was still getting calls this week from officers complaining of being bullied by management. "They use rostering to bully people and that's still ongoing; nothing seems to have changed," she said.

The support services report also showed that the number of workers' compensation claims had halved and that the service had gone from spending almost $1.5 million on claims for psychological problems in 2006-07 to about $345,000 in 2007-08. In 2006-07 there were 39 psychological claims, including 35 from paramedics, a small proportion of the approximately 3000 paramedics. In 2007-08 there were 17 psychological claims for all employees and 16 psychological claims for paramedics.

The report does not attribute the significant drop to anything in particular, although it notes that a number of "healthy workplace" strategies were put in place last year, including the appointment of a manager to ensure grievances were dealt with swiftly, and that complaints and workplace conflict were properly mediated. The service has also implemented training sessions and standards for raising workplace concerns.

But the report also said the ambulance service needed to provide better access to chaplains in rural areas and improve training and resources for peer support officers, such as providing them with mobile phones and in some cases cars. Overall, the report said support services for staff were being provided at a "high standard".

A spokesman for the Ambulance Service said it "takes bullying and harassment very seriously and we do not and will not tolerate bullying and harassment in any form". [Except when it does, apparently] The service "has undertaken a significant program of reforms", he said. They included additional training in workplace conflict resolution and respectful workplace behaviour. ["Training" won't make a bully into a teddybear. You have to FIRE the bullies. But that needs effort, of course -- largely due to Federal "unfair dismissal" laws]


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