Friday, May 20, 2011

Violent "refugees"

Are these the people we want in Australia? All offenders should be denied permission to stay

THREE critical incidents are being reported each day across detention centres in what insiders claim is a system out of control.

Documents revealed to Federal Parliament show there were more than 3400 incidents reported across the detention network in the nine months to February this year. Of those, 850 were deemed critical.

According to reporting protocols adopted by Serco, the company contracted to run the centres, critical incidents include assaults, bomb threats, chemical and biological threats, death, sexual assaults, riots, escape, hunger strikes, damage to facilities or protests.

"Are things out of control? They have been out of control for five years," one worker said.


Harsher penalities for school thugs in Victoria

TOUGHER penalties for violent parents and students are on the way as more schools resort to lockdowns to protect students and staff. More than one state school a week is now locking students in to protect them from violence and aggression, compared to less than one a month five years ago.

Education Minister Martin Dixon yesterday told the Herald Sun he planned to increase penalties for the sorts of behaviour that often spark lockdowns. "There is a high expectation in the community that schools are safe places," Mr Dixon said. "Teachers expect that, parents expect that and children expect it and we've got to do everything in our power to ensure that remains the case."

Mr Dixon said schools were generally safe places, but there were some worrying trends with violence that needed to be addressed. He said a department taskforce was working to determine appropriate penalties.

Australian Principals Federation president Chris Cotching said the federation had been pushing for tougher penalties for all illegal behaviour on school grounds. He said higher penalties - as applies to attacks on emergency service workers - were needed to curb a marked upsurge in violence, particularly from parents, in the past two years. "We want schools to have a status that is greater than that of a public park," Mr Cotching said. "When (people) come into a school there should be an understood and accepted requirement about how they behave."

New data obtained by the Herald Sun shows 11 schools locked in students in the first two months of the school year - nine of them because of aggressive or antisocial behaviour. In 2010 there were 23 school lockdowns for aggression and antisocial behaviour for the entire school year. Across 2008 and 2009 there were 53 violence-related lockdowns, up from 20 in 2006 and 2007.

Last month Flemington Primary was forced to hire a security guard after a father who was angry over a personal issue allegedly became threatening and aggressive.

Mr Cotching said principals have no protection or timely support in dealing with parents "who seem to think it is their unrestricted right to abuse, harass and intimidate" principals and teachers.


Seriously ill man being loaded into a maxi-taxi instead of an ambulance

TAXIS are being used in the place of ambulances to ferry seriously ill patients amid union fears the State Government is planning to privatise patient transportation.

The Ambulance Union has provided this photograph taken by an appalled paramedic which they say shows an elderly, unwell man being loaded into a maxi-taxi at the Princess Alexandra Hospital last Friday to be taken back to a Queensland Health-run aged care facility at Redland Hospital.

He was brought to the PA Hospital by taxi that morning as an outpatient and was accompanied by a nurse on the return journey.

Jeanette Temperley from the Ambulance Union said if anything had gone wrong during the ride home an ambulance would have had to be called anyway.

"If they're accompanied by a nurse, that suggests they need some sort of medical care," she said. "If there's a problem with the person in the vehicle, there's no equipment."

Ms Temperley said it was not the first time taxis or limousines had been used to transport seriously ill people. "We've had members say, 'I've seen a person put in a taxi that I don't think should've been there'," she said. "It could be that they're accompanied by a nurse which would indicate they need some sort of medical care, or that they're on a drip or an oxygen tank."

Dr David Thiele from Queensland Health said in the case of the patient photographed, the PA Hospital had not organised the transport and did not provide the chair loaded into the maxi-taxi.

He said there were "long-standing guidelines" for patient transport that had not recently changed. "The Queensland Ambulance Service is used for patients who require clinical care while travelling," Dr Thiele said.

He did not say what role Redland Hospital played in the case but it is understood the nurse who accompanied the patient is employed by Queensland Health at the hospital's aged care facility.

In August 2009, Queensland Ambulance Service medical director Stephen Rashford demanded an investigation by Queensland Health when two seriously ill children were transported by taxi between hospitals.

At the time, Dr Rashford questioned whether the cases represented "fiscal rather than clinical" decision making.

Queenslanders pay an annual levy of $109.90 per household which raises about $150 million a year towards maintaining the fleet of 435 ambulances and 630 personnel.

Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle said taxis were not equipped to deal with "medical matters". "Having a nurse with a patient in a taxi is an acknowledgement the patient needs constant care," Mr McArdle said. "If anything went wrong there could be a major complication."

Taxi drivers also slammed the practice, saying cabbies were not trained to deal with medical emergencies. "Looking at this (photograph) makes me shudder," said Cab Drivers' Association of Queensland secretary Lee Sims. "The driver might be held liable for anything that happens to the patient. We aren't trained ambulance people."

The Government recently issued a tender for non-emergency patient transportation on the Gold Coast.

"What we're saying is" 'Is this the thin edge of the wedge? Is it about privatising more of the ambulance service?'," Ms Temperley said. "The government's denying privatisation is being considered but we need some guarantees."

Dr Thiele said the Chief Health Officer had given written assurances to the union that QH has no plans to increase the use of community and private transport providers.


More staff than customers on NBN books

THE government company rolling out the National Broadband Network has more staff than it does customers. NBN Co, which has 784 staff, has at most 607 customers after Julia Gillard and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy launched the first NBN site on the mainland in Armidale yesterday, with just seven users. And none of the network's users is a paying customer yet.

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull last night seized on the figures, declaring them further proof that the government should have done a cost-benefit analysis of the $36 billion project. Given the "great hoopla" when the Prime Minister connected seven customers in Armidale, Mr Turnbull said, "who knows what tumultuous celebrations will occur when the NBN's customers actually exceed their staff". "It will be possibly declared a national holiday," he said.

NBN Co yesterday defended the numbers. "That's because we are in the process of building a network, establishing systems and trialling services in concert with our telecommunications partners on the way to offering a ubiquitous wholesale broadband service to all Australians over the course of the next nine years," said NBN Co spokesman Andrew Sholl. "There are no paying customers. We're in test phase."

Yesterday, NBN Co's head of product development, Jim Hassell, said the number of users in Armidale would be "increasing over the next few months" until trials finish in September "and then we open up to connection to everybody that we've passed".

"There isn't a take-up rate as such; it's just trials," Mr Hassell told ABC Radio.

NBN Co confirmed yesterday that there were about 600 "active services" in Tasmania - a take-up of about 15 per cent of the 4000 premises the network had passed in the towns of Smithton, Scottsdale and Midway Point since it started last July.

Senator Conroy said many customers were still waiting to get off their long-term Telstra packages so they could take advantage of the retail competition the NBN had created.

Mr Hassell, meanwhile, dismissed concerns that take-up in Tasmania was low, as connections had started 10 months ago at the end of July. "It's a new technology which has been rolled out," he said.

"I don't think it is a surprisingly low rate of connections. I think that's pretty good for the homes that we've passed and where we've got to. People will have agreements in place with their current service providers. Some of those will last over a period of time, so you don't expect them to change immediately."

NBN Co spokeswoman Rhonda Griffin said Tasmanian retail service providers - which bought wholesale broadband from NBN Co and then offered services to home and business users - were not paying commercial rates because the project was a pilot.

NBN Co is in talks about introducing charges.

Mr Hassell said almost 1000 customers would be connected as part of a trial of the first five release sites on the mainland - Armidale, Willunga, Kiama, Brunswick and Townsville - that would continue to the end of September. On average, 74 per cent of premises in these sites had agreed to have fibre connected. Just 50 per cent in the three Tasmanian test-site towns had agreed.


1 comment:

Paul said...

QHealth used to send quite sick people to Brisbane on commercial flights with a naive nurse escort and no emergency equipment. I know because I did it once when I was new to the North. Had to get them to call for an ambulance to meet me on the tarmac too. Bastards. They at least don't seem to do that anymore.