Saturday, May 22, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG has some very derogatory words for Kevin Rudd's new tax on the mining industry

Former staff member says juvenile detainees running Victorian detention centres

CIVIL rights of young inmates have overtaken common sense in juvenile justice as staff are subjected to constant assault, a former staff member claims.

They cannot even raise their voice in retaliation, former unit manager Colin Richardson says.

In recent weeks, a pregnant officer at the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre was threatened with death by an inmate and another officer lost two front teeth in an assault.

"Nobody gets charged. And if you yell at an inmate you get stood down," Mr Richardson said. Metal detectors and strip searches were banned, so drugs and weapons were common inside the centre. He said of about 140 officers at the centre, he believed up to 70 per cent had made injury or stress-related WorkSafe Claims.

"They can't even isolate inmates if they misbehave - it's all about rewarding good behaviour with things like takeaways and outings," Mr Richardson said. "And this is the breeding ground for inmates to go onto bigger and worse things." He said youth officers gave the inmates too much trust, when many were locked up for serious crimes.

WorkSafe spokesman Michael Birt said staff at the centre had made 136 claims to Work Safe since 1996. That amounted to about 10 claims per year, which was "not astronomical" given the nature of the work.

Last year DHS's youth justice custodial services branch won a Work Safe award for its strategy to deal with stress, trauma and burn-out amongst staff.


Bureaucracy eats third of school-building funds

Victoria is just as bad as NSW

ONE dollar in every three spent under the Building the Education Revolution scheme is being frittered away on needless bureaucratic costs, onerous documentation requirements and expensive building materials.

A preliminary assessment by Melbourne quantity surveying firm Swift Construction of the template library and classroom building used by the Victorian Education Department says the project management system for primary schools "ensures added cost for no discernible value adding to the project".

The report also says builders are required to hire a professional photographer to document every stage of construction.

The assessment of the template building intended for Berwick Lodge Primary School, in Melbourne's southeast, was handed to the head of the federal government's BER Implementation Taskforce Brad Orgill on a visit to the school yesterday. The school hired its own project management firm and, through it, commissioned an independent quote for the project and an assessment of the value for money of the template building it is receiving.

The report by Swift Construction claims the documentation required for primary school buildings under the BER is at a level required for $50 million projects, not $3m classrooms, causing "hurt money" to be added to the costs.

While the NSW government releases estimated costs for all its BER projects, the Victorian government has been criticised for its lack of transparency, and the Education Department failed to appear before the Senate inquiry into the program earlier this week.

Principal Henry Grossek has been a vocal critic of the BER program, and was one of the first to raise concerns about waste and inflated costs.

The school received $3m in the first round of the BER and successfully opposed the state Education Department to secure approval for a library and six classrooms, rather than an unwanted gymnasium, after the intervention of federal Education

Mr Grossek said the preliminary report from Swift Construction describes the template as "an architectural wank". Given the present management structure, onerous documentation requirements and the design and materials used in the template, the firm doubts the building can be completed for $3m.

But the report says the school could save $1m and complete the building for $2m by reducing bureaucracy and documentation and simplifying the template.

"The level of documentation associated with P21 (the Primary Schools for the 21st Century building program) is more in keeping with $50m projects rather than $3m projects and is either frightening off prospective builders and subcontractors or resulting in what in the industry is referred to as 'hurt money' costs being built into quotations, leading to overpricing," the report's summary says.

Examples of waste in the template identified by the quantity surveyor include the concrete slab costing twice what it should, unnecessary external recesses in the brick wall, stepdowns in toilets that are not needed, and nine different cladding systems when two or three would be adequate.

Mr Grossek said the report showed $1 in every $3 spent under the BER was being wasted and he called on Ms Gillard to freeze all projects yet to be tendered.


Melburnians in outer suburbs left without local ambulance crews

SICK and injured Melburnians in outer suburbs have been left without local ambulance crews for entire nights as shortages hit.

The January and February rosters for the Pakenham and Berwick regions show that graduate paramedics were drafted in to try to cover gaps after three ambulances were short of crew members on two separate nights.

The Herald Sun has previously revealed problems in outer suburbs after Officer grandmother Lorraine Pigram was left to wait in agony for 1 1/2 hours.

Ambulance Victoria said the missed shifts were small in number.

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said the system was broken and government incompetence meant Victorians were suffering. "John Brumby promised 11 years ago to fix Victoria's health system, yet Victorian families are suffering from a desperate shortage of ambulances because things have got worse, not better," Mr Baillieu said.

Ambulance Victoria metropolitan regional manager Simon Thomson said missed shifts were a reality at any workplace. "When an illness occurs at short notice we take all efforts to fill that vacancy," Mr Thomson said. "When this occurs on a Friday or Saturday night, it can be harder to get paramedics to work overtime. "During that time we use other neighbouring resources to provide coverage."

Mr Thomson said the number of missed shifts was actually "small" in the Pakenham/Berwick area. He said Ambulance Victoria's 250 new graduate paramedics would make an impact as they came on line.


Former Victorian police sergeant jailed after lying about speeding fines

And he was in the force for 20 years before they caught him! The dishonesty and deception starts at the top in Victoria police

A CROOKED cop will spend a year in jail after pressuring a witness to give false testimony and dobbing in his friends to take the blame for speeding fines.

The County Court heard Tony Anto Juric, 42, was a sergeant at St Kilda police station when he pressured Andrew Lawry to lie to ethical standards police about an accident involving a divvy van.

Mr Lawry saw Senior Constable Belinda Rampal - a subordinate officer to Juric - reverse the divvy van into a four-wheel-drive in April 2006, the court heard.

After being pressured by Sen Constable Rampal to give a false witness statement, Mr Lawry sought legal advice and contacted the ethical standards department with his story, the court was told.

Mr Lawry was wearing a hidden wire when he met with Juric at the St Kilda police station on 2007. The court heard Juric wanted to cover up the crash and in the taped exchange encouraged Mr Lawry to claim he couldn't remember what he saw. "Just act like an idiot," Juric said. "You don't remember doing your statement. Heaps of blokes have done it before. What are they going to do? They can't kill you."

Sen Constable Rampal and a second officer, probationary Constable Alan Black, were suspended in October 2006.

Juric pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice and two counts of perjury. He was charged with perjury after falsely filling in a statutory declaration nominating two friends to take the blame for two speeding fines.

The court heard Juric had lost all his demerit points in September 2006 when he opted to keep his licence for six months on the condition he didn't accrue any more speeding fines. He was caught speeding in March 2007 and used LEAP information to access driving information about a friend before filing dobbing in the same friend to shoulder the fine. Juric used another friend to take on a second speeding fine in May 2007.

The father-of-four later told police he was disappointed in himself for his "petty and stupid" decisions. He resigned in July 2008 after serving 20 years in the force.

Judge Howard Mason sentenced him to 30 months in prison, suspending 18 months of that term. He said he took account of Juric's excellent contribution to the Croatian Social Club, of which he has been a president since 1995, and his high standing with the police force before the offences were committed.


1 comment:

[J] said...

Just a friendly piece of advice. I found the format of this blog very difficult to follow, as I'm sure others might. Separating each news story would allow a more interactive reader (such as myself) to comment on the each of the individual issues you raise.