Sunday, May 02, 2010

Unborn babies seized from 'unfit' Perth mothers

This sounds like something out of Nazi Germany but I suppose it does make some sense as prevention. There must be early, full and open judicial review of all bureaucratic decisions, however. Bureaucratic arrogance often runs wild in child welfare decisions already

BABIES are being "seized" by the Department for Child Protection before they are even born. The Sunday Times can reveal the department has started scrutinising expectant mothers they fear may be unfit to care for a baby.

Under the radical new government policy, would-be mothers who are 20 weeks or more pregnant are being forced to give urine samples - to show they are drug free - and prove they have permanent accommodation.

If the expectant mother fails to satisfy child-protection officers, they immediately start child removal procedures. It means the paperwork is completed ahead of the birth and, as soon as a baby is born, the child can be put into state care or given to a relative.

Abortion Grief Australia is concerned the scheme could lead to a rise in early terminations and expectant mothers committing suicide.

But Department for Child Protection director-general Terry Murphy said early intervention gave vulnerable mothers a better chance of keeping their babies because they had earlier access to help.

Mothers who want to keep their baby would have to undergo routine urine testing during pregnancy to prove they weren't drinking or taking drugs, he said. Mothers would also have to prove they had permanent accommodation, would be able to feed their baby properly and were not in a dangerous domestic relationship.

The assessments conducted by the department are in collaboration with officials from the Drug and Alcohol Office and Department of Housing.

"This will work best for women who have had a number of children and they've lost them all," Mr Murphy said. "These women would usually avoid us. "But, with this approach, people are more willing to actually meet with us and try to find a solution whereby they can be supported to keep their child."

Mr Murphy conceded that for some expectant mothers the only choice for DCP officers would be to start preparations to take the baby away once it was born. "There are a whole lot of graduated outcomes, all of which are an improvement on somebody being scared, giving birth, losing the child and then running away," he said.

"There are still times when we have to take a child away. "But what we can at least be confident of is that the mum has understood fully why and that it's not just the DCP being nasty, but it generally means her family and all the other agencies that might be involved are also saying that's what should happen."


Australia's new criminal class: Ambulance administrators

"Thou shalt not kill"! There's been far too many of these episodes: Schoolboy dies while waiting for an ambulance. Don't tell me nobody is responsible. Sending out half-equipped ambulances with half-trained personnel aboard is the start of the problem

A FIVE-year-old Gippsland boy died as he waited for a specialist ambulance that arrived more than an hour after his family's frantic call for help.

Ambulance Victoria has come under fire after the MICA unit that could have been the difference between life and death for schoolboy Rupert Rafferty took more than an hour to arrive. MICA units carry cardiac drugs and specialist intensive care paramedics trained to administer them.

Rupert's family phoned triple 0 at 10.13pm and it took 22 minutes for the first ambulance to arrive from Maffra at 10.35pm. But only one "advanced life support" member and an "ambulance community officer", trained only to administer first aid and assist paramedics, were on board.

After realising Rupert was going into cardiac arrest, they immediately called for back-up, requesting a MICA unit with exclusive cardiac drugs and specialist intensive care paramedics trained to administer them.

Another ambulance arrived to help, but without the proper tools and training could only keep Rupert alive in the hope the MICA team would arrive soon. The MICA paramedics did not arrive until 11.18pm. Rupert died of cardiac arrest at 11.50pm as paramedics carried him to a waiting air ambulance from Melbourne.

Ambulance Victoria spokesman James Howe said a MICA unit was not sent to treat Rupert immediately because the initial emergency call was listed as "convulsion". "Under the distress grid, that has a standard ambulance response as opposed to a cardiac arrest, which requires MICA," Mr Howe said....

Rupert's mother, Sarah, was too distressed to speak about her nightmare.

Speaking through a friend, she claimed response times were a major issue in the region, but she was happy with the efforts ambulance officers made to try to save her son's life.

Mr Rafferty said the did not blame ambulance workers for his son's death, but said it was impossible not to wonder if he could have been saved had there been a quicker MICA response. "I have heard of problems with response times and people complaining of them taking forever," he said.

"They do the best job they can, but the reality is there are not enough of them and the few there are have to cover a huge area. "I think the perception in the community is there needs to be more ambulances here, there needs to be more funding because the few that are here have way too big an area to cover."

Too many cases like this

Ambulance Employees Australia state secretary Steve McGhie said Rupert's case was the tip of the iceberg. Other cases the union listed include:

A 16-YEAR-OLD Maffra girl who died at a party last Saturday night when an ambulance arrived in 12 minutes, but a MICA unit took 20 minutes;

A PREGNANT woman told to make her own way to hospital because an ambulance would take an hour;

A MAN, 26, who died after an ambulance took 36 minutes to reach him after a car accident at Bairnsdale.

Mr McGhie listed Moe, Warragul, Geelong, Ballarat, Morwell and Sale as being in urgent need of more ambulances and ambulance staff. "There is a serious game of Russian roulette going on, " he said.

There are only four, full-time MICA units in regional Victoria - stationed at Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Morwell. Four more "single response" MICA sedans are based in the same towns.

Ambulance Victoria said that in addition to the units, more than 100 trained MICA paramedics rode regularly in standard ambulances.

Ambulance Victoria regional services general manager Tony Walker said the "most vigorous efforts" were given to revive Rupert. "It is always very sad when a young life is lost and our thoughts are with the families concerned and with our attending staff who we are supporting," he said.

The Victorian Government's response time performance target of 85 per cent of code one emergency calls being responded to within 15 minutes has not been met for five years. Last year, Ambulance Victoria achieved 82.5 per cent.

A spokesman for Health Minister Daniel Andrews said the Government was "working hard" to provide better health care in country areas. "We've added almost 1200 extra operational paramedics," he said.


Former officer claims WA cops lie, brawl, take sexual favours

This certainly confirms a popular perception of W.A. cops

OFFICERS allegedly competed over the number of arrests they could make and lied to protect each other in court, claims a whistleblower from within the ranks of WA Police.

The first-class constable, who quit the service last week after five years as an officer, is writing to Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan detailing her experiences and naming and shaming colleagues.

She has even accused former colleagues of deliberately starting brawls while on the beat and bragging about committing sex acts with women down side streets.
During her time at a Perth station in 2006 and '07, the 36-year-old said her fellow officers:

* Had a competition over the number of arrests they could make, with some police locking up more than 200 people a month.

*Arrested people for offences that were "totally unwarranted" to boost their arrest figures, often on false or exaggerated charges.

* Lied to protect each other in court cases where victims claimed they had been assaulted by police.

* Joked and bragged how they took drunk young women down alleyways and side streets where they kissed, took photos and, on occasion, had sex.

* Patrolled the beat aggressively and started fights with a "let's punch on tonight" mentality.

The woman, who sought legal advice before going public with her claims, this year launched an Equal Opportunity Commission case against WA Police. But she denies it motivated her to make her allegations.

She says she petitioned senior officers and sought guidance about making an official complaint in 2007, but was told to "toughen up" and not make trouble because the team was "bringing in good stats". The mother-of-two became so disillusioned with the job she had no choice but to quit.

The Sunday Times is legally barred from naming the police squad in question.

A spokesman for Mr O'Callaghan confirmed the case was before the Equal Opportunity Commission and urged the woman to report any evidence of police wrongdoing. "There have been many issues concerning this officer and WA Police would welcome any inquiry by the Equal Opportunity Commission," the spokesman said.

"As for the other unsubstantiated claims the constable, like any member of the community, can lodge a complaint with the Police Complaints Administration Centre or the Crime and Corruption Commission. She would, of course, be required to produce some evidence to support her claims."

Detailing her allegations, the woman from Tapping, in Perth's northern suburbs, said: "The public would be mortified, absolutely mortified. Police are supposed to be there to protect and serve, but some of these officers were doing neither."

Her claims come at a time when WA police have never had greater powers, with mandatory sentencing in force for anyone convicted of assaulting an officer and stop and search powers to be introduced.

Making the most arrests became a competition among some officers, she said. "It was all about who could write the most briefs," she said. "It was a competition for them. It was all about the stats. Sometimes they'd write up 200 briefs a month.

"They would charge people for stupid things. They'd hand a move-on notice to someone who was so drunk or drugged they didn't know what they were doing, and then arrest them for disobeying it. "Or they'd arrest drunk people or foreign people for failing to provide their details when clearly they didn't know what was going on.

"They bragged about (their sexual exploits) all the time. "I saw photos they'd taken of girls down alleyways.

"They lied in court all the time. All the time. "It was a case of the boys sticking together and sticking up for each other, not about what was right and wrong."

The woman said she was bullied by her fellow officers as the only female in her team. In January, she launched action against WA Police in the Equal Opportunity Commission over a separate claim that her superiors ignored more than 20 requests for a transfer to a station closer to home, which would have made it easier for the single mother to raise her sons, aged 8 and 11.

The woman said she also wanted to put to the commission her claims about officers making unfair arrests, enjoying sexual favours and committing perjury in 2006 and '07. But the commission cannot investigate alleged wrongdoings more than a year old.

Her lawyer, John Hammond, who is seeking $40,000 in compensation, said the woman's case was one of several before the courts in which WA Police were accused of treating female officers unfairly. "There is a culture of some male police officers treating female police very poorly," Mr Hammond said.

Opposition police spokeswoman Margaret Quirk said police in WA had an "attitude problem" and she called on Commissioner O'Callaghan to consider integrity testing for officers.


Organic nutrition benefit 'a myth'

ORGANIC food does not have greater nutritional value than conventionally grown food, a major University of Sydney study has found. The study found food grown without pesticides or herbicides shouldn't be promoted as healthier as there was no evidence to show "it contained more nutrients than" normal food.

The author of the report went further, recommending consumers stick with conventionally grown fruit and vegetables because they are cheaper and, therefore, people could eat more of them.

The study, conducted by the School of Molecular Bioscience, surveyed the international literature on organic produce, conducted laboratory analyses of Australian foods and surveyed Australian health professionals about organics, critically evaluating the results.

But the study did not measure pesticide residues - one consumer concern driving organic food purchases.

The results, which will be published in the international science journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, showed that while some studies found organic foods had higher levels of vitamin C and phosphorus [Hey! Wait a minute. Aren't phosphates supposed to BAD for you?] than conventional foods, when these studies were correctly scrutinised there was little difference between the two.

But Organic Federation of Australia chairman Andre Leu rejected the study [He would], saying other long-term reports had found organic food was higher in nutrients than non-organic food. Mr Leu said most people who bought organics did so because they worried about the level of pesticide residue in conventional food, an issue not addressed by the study.

"Studies show there is no, or next-to-no, pesticide residue in organic produce," he said. "There is no real scientific data that shows the safety of pesticides in the human body, especially in children. [Most pesticides can simply be washed off and their use is heavily regulated anyway]


Australian farmers not sold on climate change

AUSTRALIAN farmers are sceptical about climate change and many do not believe it will affect agriculture during their lifetimes, a report says.

But the CSIRO research is calling on rural producers to increase their knowledge of the implications of global warming so they can make their farms more resistant to changing climatic conditions.

The report, A Participatory Approach to Developing Climate Change Adaption Options for NSW Farming Systems, identifies ways farmers can protect their livelihoods, such as by planting crops that can withstand hotter and drier weather, identifying ways to manage fertiliser, and maximising water use through efficient harvesting.

The report confirmed there was significant scepticism and misunderstanding among farmers on climate change and the impact it would have on agriculture. Farmers must also prepare for a future carbon emissions trading scheme.

CSIRO research team leader Steven Crimp said the need for improved climate change knowledge was paramount. "There is a lot of information about climate change and climate projections but there isn't a lot of information on how to make changes within farm management," he said. "Many farmers don't believe that climate change will affect them in their lifetime but we are already starting to see the effects of climate change and variation on the land." [There has always been climate change and variation on the land and farmers know it. Knowing what the weather is likely to do is central to their livelihoods. They are great climate watchers and many keep diaries of weather events]

A spokeswoman for NSW Climate Change minister Frank Sartor said the government was working with farmers to assess regional areas for climate change vulnerability. "The impacts of climate change pose a considerable risk to farmers," she said. "Probable effects include hotter, drier conditions, which will put crops under greater heat and water stress."

Agricultural business workshops for young farmers have been established by the food and agribusiness specialist bank Rabobank to deal with emerging challenges for Australian producers. They cover leadership strategies, business planning and economic management.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Child protection would have to be one of the most thankless jobs in the country. You miss one and you are castigated across the nation as incompetent fools or worse, yet if you take proactive action you are called Nazis and all the other usual insults. There seems no middle ground available, and no plan to at least hold the parent (or occaisionally: parent-S) accountable.