Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More child abuse from the NSW government's notorious DOCS tentacle

Government "child protection" at work! And the doctors who were complicit in this pointless abuse are just as guilty

It was a decision no parent should have to make. When Mark and Dianne Westley were told their daughter Sarah was dying from a rare cancer, they refused chemotherapy - hoping to give her the best quality of life in the time she had left. But that choice was taken from them.

The Department of Community Services made Sarah a ward of the state and forced chemotherapy on her - a decision the Westleys said had a devastating impact on their daughter in the last months of her life.

Six years after Sarah's death the Westleys have now spoken against the DOCS intervention that they call an "incarceration", one of almost 7000 such decisions made every year to allow medical procedures on children.

"The forced treatment was a complete failure," the couple from Gloucester, north of Newcastle in New South Waels, said in a statement. "It was only after Sarah died that we got hold of the medical records and found out that Sarah already had late-stage cancer when she was first diagnosed and she was terminal when they forced her into having the painful treatments."

The Westleys relived their nightmare in the book Sarah's Last Wish, telling how the deadly ovarian tumour was first misdiagnosed as a pregnancy when their daughter was just 11.

They said their decision to refuse chemotherapy was only made after they found out as much as they could about the rare cancer.

"The authorities incarcerated Sarah in two NSW hospitals for most of 2003, where she was forced to have continuous rounds of chemotherapy for many months," the Westleys said. Between hospital visits Sarah was forced to attend school and, at times in the two years before her death, her parents were restricted to just two hours with their daughter each day.

DOCS figures showed in 12 months in 2008 and 2009, caseworkers acted on 6791 cases classified as "medical treatment not provided".

A spokeswoman said the cases could be as simple as chronic head lice or an untreated broken bone to parents refusing their child a blood transfusion for personal or cultural beliefs. "It is estimated that Community Services would receive approximately two cases each year in which parents refuse medical treatment for their child on the basis of cultural or personal beliefs," she said.

"In these matters, Community Services only intervenes based on expert medical opinion that a child or young person could be seriously harmed or even die without medical treatment."

In one case DOCS took a mother with an infectious disease to the Supreme Court to obtain an order for her child to be vaccinated.


Labor Party told its soft immigration policy 'pulling' the boats of illegals

IMMIGRATION authorities were warned the government's high success rate for refugee claims was acting as a "major pull factor" that encouraged boatpeople to make the voyage to Australia. Senior government sources have told The Australian the government was warned to brace for an influx of between 5000 and 10,000 boatpeople this year.

It is understood the government was told, before it announced its freeze on new asylum claims, that Australia's success rate for claims was "out of whack" with the rest of the world and was encouraging people-smugglers.

In the early part of this year, the "recognition rate", or success rate, for Afghan asylum-seekers was above 90 per cent. Senior government sources have told The Australian that the warning was contained in a document sent to the Rudd government prior to April 9, when it froze new Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum claims.

"It said our recognition rates were completely out of whack and this was a major pull factor," a senior government source familiar with the advice told The Australian.

Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have vowed to get tough on border security, with both promising to open offshore processing centres in third countries if they win the election.

Since the boats began arriving in late 2008, the government has consistently blamed instability abroad as the main cause of the surge. In October, Kevin Rudd blamed "huge push factors" in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka for the rush of boats. "Countries around the world are dealing with the same challenge," Mr Rudd said.

But the warning is the clearest evidence yet that domestic policies have been a major factor in pulling boats to Australia's shores.

It also suggests that for months, government agencies have been working at cross purposes, with the Immigration Department contributing to the very problem other agencies, such as the Australian Federal Police and the Customs Service and Border Protection Command, have been working to curtail.

The document compared Australia's recognition rate, or success rate for new refugee claims, with those of the US, Canada and particularly Europe.

It concluded Australia was running an exceptionally generous refugee program that was acting as a magnet for boatpeople. "A lot of work was done on (the document)," the government source told The Australian.

It is understood that, while the document warned about the high approval levels, it did not explicitly recommend a cut to the rate. "Essentially, what it was about was that we need to address this by providing to decision-makers better advice, more accurate advice," the source said.

Up until six months ago the success rate for Afghan asylum-seekers, who have made up more than half the total number of unauthorised boat arrivals since late 2008, was 95 per cent. It has since fallen to 30 per cent. The drop has left most Afghanistan country experts baffled as they say it has not been matched by a corresponding improvement in security.

The source said official government estimates had predicted between 5000 and 10,000 unauthorised boat arrivals this year. So far, 4067 asylum-seekers and crew have arrived in Australia by boat this year. On current trends, 2010 will set a new record for boat arrivals, eclipsing the 5516 asylum-seekers who arrived in 2001, the year of the Tampa crisis.

The government advice appears to have been acted on, with the success rate falling rapidly since the beginning of the year.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the Howard government also recognised Afghan asylum claims at rates of around 95 per cent from 1998-99 to 2000-01.

But he said last month the Afghan refusal rate exceeded 70 per cent. "If upheld at review, this increasing rate of refusals will result in many more people being returned to their homeland," the spokesman said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the document, saying it did not discuss advice sent to ministers. And last night a spokesman for the Immigration Department said it would not discuss "advice or interdepartmental information-sharing". "Having said that, this in no way confirms the claims made or that such a document exists," a spokesman said.

However, The Australian has been told high recognition rates have been an issue within government for some time, with those responsible for border security arguing they are acting as a magnet.

The plummeting refugee success rate has coincided with the government's announcement in April that it was freezing new asylum claims in order to assess evolving circumstances in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. But the extent of the drop, as well as its timing, has given rise to wider questions about the integrity of what is supposed to be an objective refugee selection process.

Refugee Council president John Gibson told The Australian last week there was no way the current success rate reflected the current conditions in Afghanistan. "In terms of Afghans, there is a question mark over the integrity of the process," Mr Gibson said.

Some sources in the refugee sector have suggested the government was approving refugee claims at high rates to avoid a bottleneck in the Christmas Island detention centre.

In April, the Rudd government belatedly announced it would be forced to transfer people to centres on the mainland, because of chronic overcrowding on Christmas Island, which had been expanded from its original capacity of 400 people to about 2500.

In comments sent to The Australian last week, Immigration Department secretary Andrew Metcalfe "categorically denied" claims the high success rate was driven by a desire to move people quickly through the Christmas Island detention centre, or that it was subject to political interference.

"Any such suggestions are baseless and totally without foundation," Mr Metcalfe said.

He said new country information for Afghanistan had been prepared in February. But the department has refused to release the updated country information it is using as the basis of the tougher assessments, despite promising to do so in April.

The Department maintains it will release its guidance notes for Afghanistan when they have been "finalised". Afghans are easily the largest category of asylum-seekers to arrive in Australia. Immigration Department figures show more than 3797 Afghans have arrived since the current surge in boat arrivals began in late 2008.


Anti-vaccination fanatics in Australia

When their four-week-old baby daughter Dana died from whooping cough Toni and David McCaffery sought love and healing to ease their grief.

Instead, they say they were subjected to a campaign of harassment and abuse at the hands of anti-vaccination campaigners, a group who were yesterday labelled a serious threat to the public's health and safety.

The Health Care Complaints Commission issued a public warning against the Australian Vaccination Network after it refused to display a disclaimer on its website to inform readers its information should not be taken as medical advice.

Earlier this month the commission investigated the network, run out of Bangalow on the north coast by Meryl Dorey, and found its website presented incorrect and misleading information that was solely anti-vaccination and quoted selectively from research suggesting that vaccination may be dangerous.

Its investigation was sparked by two complaints, one from Toni and David McCaffery, whose four-week-old daughter Dana died from whooping cough last year.

The couple, from Lennox Head, allege they were subjected to months of harassment and abuse by Ms Dorey and anti-vaccination campaigners, accusing them of lying about the cause of their daughter's death. They received anonymous letters and emails that said whooping cough was not fatal and vaccinations were not needed.

Mrs McCaffery, whose daughter was too young to be vaccinated when she caught whooping cough, said Ms Dorey also tried to get her baby's medical records from the hospital without permission. "Instead of love and healing in the weeks after Dana's death, we got ugliness … it has been terrible," she said.

Mrs McCaffery also complained that Ms Dorey had quoted misleading statistics, spread misinformation through seminars and the internet, and gave poor telephone advice.

The second complaint against the network was made by Ken McLeod, a member of a group called Stop the AVN. He said Ms Dorey had claimed that meningococcal disease was harmless and "hardly kills anybody"; that vaccination was being used to spread AIDS in Third World countries; and homeopathy could take the place of vaccination.

His group now wants the state government to apply for a court injunction against the network and have it closed down. The group's website says Ms Dorey believes "vaccines are part of a global conspiracy to implant mind control chips into every man, woman and child and that the 'illuminati' plan a mass cull of humans".

Ms Dorey did not return calls yesterday but issued a statement on her website which said the HCCC's recommendation was "laughable" and she was seeking legal advice.

"Nobody would expect nuclear safety advocates to issue statements on the benefits of nuclear power; Greenpeace to make films on the pleasures of killing and eating whales … Why then should we be expected to make statements we don't believe are factual and that are not supported by the medical literature?

"If the AVN is expected to show both sides of this issue, why aren't the medical community and the government likewise cited for their lack of disclosure on the risks and ineffectiveness of vaccines?"

A spokesman for the HCCC said it could take no further action but it was disappointing the network was refusing to make its position clear.


Pithouse the shithouse again

For background, see here. Still no action against him

Wrong-way Magistrate Richard Pithouse cleared the way for a disgraced barrister colleague to get his gun licence back - a move that has worried the barrister's former wife.

And the potential conflict of interest in Mr Pithouse presiding over an earlier hearing involving the barrister colleague prompted one court onlooker to make a complaint to the Chief Magistrate about Mr Pithouse.

Ballarat barrister Graeme Jackson lost his gun licence after a court found him guilty of a string of criminal offences and police seized three guns from his house. Jackson was found guilty last year of seven counts relating to falsifying documents, including forging his wife's signature on tax cheques.

Last month he returned to court to try to get his gun licence back and appeared before his old family law colleague, Richard Pithouse. He applied to court to be deemed a non-prohibited person in relation to a firearms application, the court listing shows. Magistrate Pithouse heard the application and granted it.

Mr Pithouse heard the firearms application the same day he accidentally went to Ararat courthouse, not Ballarat, and then offended a sex assault victim by scrapping her heartfelt victim-impact statement.

He also presided over the first two court hearings of Mr Jackson's criminal charges last year. Lawyers said it may have been more appropriate for Mr Pithouse to have excused himself from sitting given the potential conflict.

Jackson said he and Mr Pithouse knew each other from the Ballarat court and Jackson had previously been briefed by Mr Pithouse's firm.

A police operation focused on Jackson raided properties at Ballarat, Horsham and Melbourne in which computers, guns and documents were seized.

Jackson was reprimanded by the Legal Services Commissioner for sledging a woman in court, but denied the woman's claim he also assaulted her. The wife, who the court heard was a victim of forgery, is now Jackson's third ex-wife. Her friends have said she is still shocked and bewildered by the actions of the man she once loved and is concerned by his recent moves to get his guns and licence back.

But Jackson said he was a hunter and though he had received several threats - including shotgun shells being left at his office - the guns were not for personal safety.

Chief Magistrate Ian Gray said no additional action was being taken against Mr Pithouse despite several complaints against him.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"He said Ms Dorey had claimed that meningococcal disease was harmless and "hardly kills anybody";

She's obviously not seen meningococcal disease in the wild. Stupid cow.