Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bullied Catholic school student lost the will to live

Hmmmm ... The oddest thing about the report below is that the parents continued to send the kid to the school. It's a private school so they clearly had a choice. I sent my son to St. Joachim's Catholic school in Brisbane for his first 4 years of schooling but as soon as I learned that his teacher was scornful of him I sent him to the local State school instead -- where he did well. I wonder if the teacher concerned still feels that her scorn is justified now that he has a B.Sc. with a first in mathematics

A FORMER student of a prestigious girls' school has told court she was bullied for not wearing a bikini to swimming carnivals and mocked for years.

Jazmine Oyston, now 20, told the Supreme Court she was called "slut", "dog" and "pimple face," and pushed and elbowed regularly, by students at St Patrick's College when she attended from 2002 to 2005.

Despite complaining to four teachers, her year co-ordinator and the deputy principal, Ms Oyston said the bullying continued with no intervention from the school.

She said the bullying began in Year Seven when girls in the "popular group" called her names, but it progressed to physical shoving and elbowing in subsequent years.

She said one of her friends, a tall girl, was dubbed "Goliath" by her tormentors and another was called "freckle." At swimming carnivals, Ms Oyston said she was "mocked" for wearing a one-piece swimsuit instead of a bikini.

In his opening remarks, her barrister, Des Kennedy, SC, said there was a "culture and systemic problem of bullying" at the school and the staff did little to stop it. He said that as a result of her years of suffering, Ms Oysten had tried to commit suicide twice and had self-harmed by cutting her wrists with a compass.

The court heard she has since been diagnosed with depression, she has anxiety, panic attacks, is afraid of the dark and avoids crowds.

Ms Oysten said there were several times during high school when she felt she "didn't want to be alive." The personal assistant, who once aspired to be a lawyer or doctor, is suing St Patrick's College for damages including non-economic loss, wage loss and medical costs.

"The behaviour towards the plaintiff was cruel, spiteful and unrelenting," Mr Kennedy said. "It is likely that (her) life in the future will be seriously disrupted and that there will be a likely impairment to her learning capacity."


Queensland police given powers to prosecute non-crimes


THOUSANDS of people could be slapped with fines for offences that would never have attracted police attention in the past under sweeping reforms to police powers. Experts fear swearing in public, with a fine of $100, will be a major money spinner and could become the weapon of choice for frustrated officers on the beat.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced the new powers for the state's police to issue on-the-spot notices for public nuisance offences. Ms Bligh said the move would increase efficiency, save time and fast-track more important matters in the courts by stopping minor public nuisance offenders from clogging the justice system.

She said the measures, targeting offences such as public urination, disorderly conduct and abusive language, would save the Government between $18 million and $30 million.

The power to issue on-the-spot fines of between $100 and $300 could result in public nuisance prosecutions soaring 20 per cent, based on figures from a 12-month trial in South Brisbane and Townsville. In 2008-2009 terms, that could see 5500 more people slapped with the offence across Queensland each year.

Ms Bligh said it was hard to estimate if the 20 per cent increase would hold true right across the state. She attributed it to police having more time "on the beat" because the on-the-spot powers saved hours compared to the time spent processing an arrest.

But an evaluation of the trial by Griffith University said evidence existed that, given on-the-spot powers, police were more likely to issue tickets in situations unlikely to be considered criminal before the courts.

The NSW Ombudsman said the problem particularly concerned police fining people for swearing, saying: "The words spoken would not be considered offensive if the matter was to be determined by a court."

Queensland Council of Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said the powers were a concern when it came to offensive language and would see public nuisance offence rates soar. "This will become the thing police just slap on someone whenever they aren't happy," Mr Cope said. "No one will fight them and ultimately people who are homeless or young will bear the brunt of this." Trial figures showed 1 per cent of those charged had appealed.

Police Minister Neil Roberts said inappropriate behaviour in public places was not acceptable and would not be tolerated.

The legislation will be introduced to Parliament later this year, with the new powers to take effect by 2011.


Bosses warn maternity leave scheme costs could hit women's jobs

EMPLOYERS are warning Australia's first national paid baby leave scheme could have hidden costs that make it harder for young women to find jobs. The fresh discrimination concerns come as the Rudd Government's $260 million taxpayer-funded paid parental leave plan could pass the Senate as early as tomorrow.

The Coalition has confirmed it will not block the landmark arrangements, which are set to deliver 18 weeks' leave at the Federal minimum wage, recently increased to $569.90.

But the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland have raised a red flag, arguing employers should not be made "paymasters" for the federally-funded scheme.

In a Senate submission, Queensland's peak employer group warns any hidden administrative burdens could turn bosses off hiring potential mums. Employers fear they will have to spend money on buying new software or chasing up late government payments to be able to pass on the cash.

The scheme is due to apply to babies born or adopted after January 1 and for the first six months the leave will be paid via the Government's Family Assistance Office. After that, bosses will have to pay the taxpayer-funded leave to staff after receiving the Government payments.

A spokeswoman for Families Minister Jenny Macklin said the leave would be paid through employers, similar to other work entitlements. "Following extensive consultations with employers, we have ensured that employers can receive advances of funds in as little as three instalments," she said. "Employers will only be required to pay an employee when they have received sufficient funds."

But CCIQ's general manager of policy Nick Behrens said Queensland businesses advocated a scheme that did not require employers to manage and administer payments on behalf of the Government. In the Senate submission on the plan, the CCIQ said companies could be hit with hidden costs by acting as "paymasters" for staff.

He said there could also be the "potential for discrimination in employing young people" and an "impact on the competitiveness and profitability of businesses in those industries that have a large number of female employees".

Mr Behrens also warned about the "potential for breakdowns in employee/employer relationships if the scheme does not work as planned".

Opposition spokeswoman for the Status of Women, Sharman Stone, said the plan would be an "administrative nightmare for businesses". "When we get in we will introduce a far better scheme which will be managed by the Family Assistance Office so businesses won't have paid parental leave going through their books," she said.

But big business has raised concerns about the Coalition's $2.7 billion alternative plan.

Meanwhile, the Australian Council of Trade Unions will today deliver a petition with 25,000 signatures calling on the Senate to pass the scheme this week.


NSW police cure mental illness with lead

EIGHT bullets??

DISTRAUGHT mum Elma Heath waited six hours for police to show up after her mentally ill son became violent toward her and lashed out. When officers arrived, one shot Michael Capel dead, hitting him five times with shots from a service pistol after he came at police with a knife.

Mr Capel, 43, died in the grounds of the Spinnakers Leisure Park in Lake Macquarie on October 10, 2008. A coronial inquest into his death began yesterday.

Ms Heath tried desperately for hours to get police help for her son, who suffered from schizophrenia and had not taken the medication that stabilised his condition, the inquest heard.

Attempts to get help from a specialist mental health team attached to Hunter New England Health also failed.

It was only after four calls to triple-0 and a visit to the local police station that Constables Sally Hogg and Jason Battle arrived on scene. Mrs Heath told the court she told the officers that her son had earlier attacked her and was in his caravan.

"They said, 'We'll just go and talk to him' and I said, 'You're going to have trouble'," Mrs Heath said.

The inquest heard the two constables opened the door of Mr Capel's caravan and he came at them with a kitchen knife. Attempts to subdue him with capsicum spray failed, prompting Constable Battle to draw his pistol and fire eight rounds. Five hit Mr Capel and he fell to the ground.

Mrs Heath said she ran to the scene moments after the shooting and saw her son lying on the ground. "I said, 'Is he still alive'. A paramedic said, 'I think so'. I said, 'Why isn't anyone doing anything'. He just shrugged."


1 comment:

Paul said...

Public swearing? Here in the North the police on the beat will need secretarial support to keep up. Anna Bligh's swearing jar will be overflowing in the first week, and that's just the women.