Monday, April 04, 2011

Ban on childcare naughty corner, Easter parades

This is just a feast for lawyers and the people paying for it will be the parents -- as fees go up to cover liability insurance. Isn't childcare dear enough now?

CHILDCARE workers who send tantrum-throwing toddlers to "time out" risk hefty fines under national childcare laws to come into force next year.

New regulations will expose childcare centres to penalties if children are required to take part in religious or cultural activities, such as Christmas tree decoration or Easter hat parades hunts.

Childcare supervisors risk personal fines for the first time, under the national legislation being adopted by state and territory governments.

Centres could be fined as much as $50,000, and supervisors $10,000, for failing to ensure children are adequately supervised, or for using "inappropriate discipline" to keep order.

Centres will be banned from using any form of corporal punishment, as well as "any discipline that is unreasonable in the circumstances".

The Education and Care Services National Act, which has been passed by Victoria as the "host jurisdiction" and will be replicated by other states and territories, does not define "unreasonable" discipline.

But draft regulations with the legislation show childcare supervisors risk $2000 fines for "separating" children.

Supervisors must "ensure that a child being educated and cared for by the service is not separated from other children for any reason other than illness or an accident", the regulations state.

Children cannot be "required to undertake activities that are inappropriate, having regard to each family's family and cultural values, age and physical and intellectual development".

The childcare industry yesterday demanded greater clarity, warning that staff could be fined for putting a toddler in "time out" or asking a child to help decorate a Christmas tree.

The Australian Childcare Alliance, representing private centres, called for a definition of "separation", noting that each state and territory could interpret the law differently.

Childcare centres had banned smacking, and no longer used the "naughty corner" technique of isolating children who were violent or disobedient, alliance president Gwynn Bridge said.

But the regulations left the way open for a supervisor to be fined if a litigious parent objected to a child being taken out of a group for hitting other children, or throwing sand.

"There is time out but naughty corners went out years ago," Ms Bridge said. "You move a child a short way from the group and talk to them about their behaviour.

"But we don't know the meaning of the word 'separate' - is it distance? This needs clarification, otherwise people will be in breach without realising it."

The regulations also require family carers, who normally look after a handful of children in their homes, to ensure regular visitors are "fit and proper persons".

Criminal checks would have to be carried out on any neighbours, friends or relatives who visit while children are present on more than three days in a month, or seven days a year.


Mark Latham says Julia Gillard has no empathy because she's childless

For once I actually agree with Latham but politics is more than emotion. Cost-benefit calculations are more important and with her hugely expensive boondoggle of a fibre network that will be obsolete as soon as it is built, Gillard is a major failure there -- not to mention her witless carbon tax that will achieve exactly nothing

MARK Latham has renewed his attack on Julia Gillard's personal life and character, questioning her ability to empathise and experience true love because of her decision to remain childless.

After derailing her election campaign last year, the former Labor leader today resurfaced to critique the Prime Minister once again.

In an interview to spruik a re-release of his 2005 book The Latham Diaries, Mr Latham said the ability to empathise with small children was a good test of character.

“I think having children is the great loving experience of any lifetime. And by definition you haven't got as much love in your life if you make that particular choice,” he told ABC radio.

“Choice in Gillard's case is very, very specific. Particularly because she's on the public record saying she made a deliberate choice not to have children to further her parliamentary career.

“One would have thought to experience the greatest loving experience in life having children you wouldn't particularly make that choice.”

Mr Latham said the proof Ms Gillard had no empathy was her “very wooden” performance during the Queensland floods.

“I'm not the only one saying that. I've also had some experience where around small children she was wooden. And I think the two go together.”

Mr Latham has previously attacked Ms Gillard's decision to pursue her career over children, saying in February: “Anyone who chooses a life without children, as Gillard has, cannot have much love in them.”

He's not the first politician to attack the Prime Minister on such grounds.

In 2007 Liberal senator Bill Heffernan said that “anyone who chooses to deliberately remain barren ... they've got no idea what life's about”.

And last year opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis questioned Julia Gillard's ability to “understand the way parents think” about virginity because she didn't have children.

Defending Tony Abbott's right to discuss the advice he gave to his daughters on virginity, Senator Brandis said Ms Gillard was a “one-dimensional” person who had “chosen not to be a parent”.


Millions behind on basic skills; threatens Australia's international competitiveness

AUSTRALIA'S international competitiveness is under threat because up to eight million Australian workers don't have the reading, writing or numeracy skills to undertake training for trade or professional jobs.

The nation's 11 Industry Skills Councils will today call for a new campaign to tackle endemic numbers of workers with poor reading and writing skills, launching a report detailing the problems being faced by industry training bodies.

The bodies say they are confronting inadequately prepared school leavers, an ageing workforce struggling to cope with technological advances and overseas-born workers with English as a second language.

The report, No More Excuses, calls for the Council of Australian Governments to develop a national "overarching blueprint for action on language, literacy and numeracy".

The report will reignite the skills debate at a time when industry is warning of the re-emergence of shortages of trained workers and Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have thrust workforce participation and getting the long-term unemployed into work to the front of the political debate.

The report says "the situation looks as if it could be getting worse, not better" in terms of the language, literature and numeracy skills of workers.

"International studies have shown that over the past two decades, Australia's literacy and numeracy skill levels have stagnated while those of other countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, have improved.

"By continuing to accept the current levels, we are limiting the future success of individuals, businesses and our economy," the Industry Skills Councils say in a joint statement to be released today.

The report calls for industry training programs to be provided with specific funding to tackle language, literacy and numeracy gaps faced by students and overseas-born workers with English as a second language.

It also calls for recruits to be given better advice about the language and maths requirements of training courses.

Forest Works chief executive Michael Hartman, who runs training programs for the forest, wood, paper and timber products industry, said literacy and numeracy were the "foundation of productivity".

A failure to improve skills among both school leavers and experienced workers would see Australian businesses fall behind international competitors.

Electrocomms and Energy Utilities Industry Skills Council chief executive Bob Taylor told The Australian a decade of calls for skill-ready school leavers had failed to achieve any tangible improvements.

And the resources and infrastructure industry skills council, SkillsDMC, writes in the report that some indigenous recruits on resources projects have learning levels as low as primary school grade four.

This means that providing them with literacy and numeracy skills "is costly and time-consuming, and often results in the employee spending more time at training than at work".

Mr Taylor said industry had been complaining about the poor quality of literacy and numeracy among school leavers looking to enter the trades for more than 10 years and there had been no improvement.

He said the report was aimed at ending the "blame game" and incorporating basic reading, writing and numeracy skills into preliminary training courses.

He said lack of skills in this area was a "real issue" in terms of drop-out rates of apprentices and schools needed to become more focused on providing the relevant skills to the 70 per cent of students who would not attend university and seek work in a trade.

Mr Taylor said preliminary training courses to allow regional workers access to jobs on the National Broadband Network included facets of basic literacy and numeracy training.

He said it was "quite frustrating" that basic maths and physics of the 15- to 16-year-olds seeking trades in the 1960s was superior to today's 18-year-olds seeking trades.

Mr Hartman said his industry was confronting literacy and numeracy problems among older workers who had been long-term employees in industries that were suddenly facing technological change.

He said under current training arrangements, there was not a lot of money available to enable trainers to help students struggling with basic literacy and numeracy skills and this needed to be addressed: "It is a major problem in our society; unless we tackle it, we'll fall further behind in terms of international competitiveness and the skills of our people."


Confidential documents reveal Queensland's public hospitals are risky business

CONFIDENTIAL documents have raised questions over public hospital mismanagement which has put Queenslanders' lives at risk.

The Queensland Health documents reveal incidents in hospitals ranging from admission or behaviour problems, to falls, infections, medication, nutrition or treatment issues.

On Brisbane's northside, in October 2008, hospitals averaged 26 incidents and three deaths a day listed in Queensland Health's reporting system. By May 2009, it was 32 incidents and four deaths a day.

Opposition Health spokesman Mark McArdle acknowledged that while it was natural that not everybody who went to hospital survived, more needed to be done to ensure the system improved, not deteriorated.

"Death is a part of our hospital system (but) it is important to understand, however, why people die and learn as much as we can to prevent these deaths,'' he said.

"It's time for the Minister to open the books and fully inform Queenslanders of what is going on so they can properly assess the status of their public hospital system.''

Queensland Health is locked in a legal battle to prevent documents being released to The Courier-Mail under Right to Information laws.

Information Commissioner Clare Smith has ruled that Queensland Health hand over documents on deaths in emergency departments but the Government has refused. Queensland's Civil and Administrative Tribunal will rule on the matter.

Other documents obtained by The Courier-Mail show Metro North Health Service District monthly reporting for incidents and patient deaths increased or stagnated over 2008-09 at Prince Charles, Redcliffe, Caboolture-Kilcoy hospitals and northside mental health, aged care, residential and disability and community health services.

Root cause analyses show breakdowns in the system, such as a patient with a history of bipolar and attempted suicides, who was released from a mental health unit and found dead from a drug overdose by her young son two days later.

Another included a very sick man who died when he tripped over his IV pole.

Health Community Councils, introduced by former premier Peter Beattie and now disbanded, previously monitored performance reviews and discussed improvements.

However, it's unknown what, if anything, is being done to reverse the upward trend of hospital errors and negligence.

Mr McArdle said he was alarmed the figures showed the situation wasn't improving. "Consequences could be dire if the Government continues to get this wrong,'' he said.

Health Minister Geoff Wilson said constant vigilance was needed in hospitals, which was why Queensland Health has a Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Service that proactively reported on clinical incidents and hospitals' responses to them.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Quennsland Health actually pressures us to report absolutely everything including incidents that never actually became incidents (near misses). Much of the reporting of the volume of adverse events in hospitals comes from the media's fundamental misunderstanding of the process of incident reporting. Given the volume of patient throughput and the increasingly erratic nature of the patients themselves, it is remarkable how little real harm actually does occur.