Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WTF! What would a Cambridge Don know about blackfellas?

His statements are mostly "motherhood" ones so why do we need them? Actually spending time among the blackfellas and getting to know their perspective is what is needed rather than a lot of do-gooderism by blow-in whites

UNDERSTANDING the culture of indigenous patients will help doctors close the gap in life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, an international health professional says.

Doctors also need to foster trust, which is being eroded by "officialdom" and socioeconomic issues, Professor David Simmons from Cambridge University told a meeting on indigenous health and chronic disease.

Speaking at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians 2011 Congress, Prof Simmons said as well as examining the extensive statistics on health problems in indigenous communities, doctors need to look at how they are engaging with indigenous patients. "Officialdom at various levels from political to stakeholder engagement, along with a range of socioeconomic issues, has made trust fraught," he said.

Prof Simmons said a number of initiatives aimed at improving the health of diabetic Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders and Maoris had been very successful, and should be used in other areas. "Ensuring the health of the indigenous patient or community is important.

"As is understanding that cross-cultural issues, such as differing priorities and beliefs, will inevitably arise. "Building trust in indigenous health is imperative to the overall success of closing the gap and addressing disparities. "There will always be competing perspectives and agendas from within and outside the indigenous community, and beyond the individual patient."

The congress will also hear from Australia's leading addiction specialist Kate Conigrave on the issues that lead to drug and alcohol addiction. "Many communities have acted with great strength to tackle substance misuse but they need sustained support and access to treatment," Associate Professor Conigrave said in a statement. She said advances in medication could double the chance of success, and called for improved access to modern treatment in Aboriginal communities.

The 2011 congress, over three days, will address a range of areas including alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the challenges of paediatric care in remote communities, and indigenous dementia.


(Since those who do not know Aborigines are unliklely to be aware of it, I mention that Aborigines most commonly refer to themselves as "blackfellas". "Aborigine" is a pure Latin word: ab origine -- JR)

The NSW Industrial Relations Commission, a huge burden on the backs of the NSW taxpayer

During the 16 years the previous Labor government held office, the bedrock of its electoral strength and party finance was public sector unions and public sector employees. By a happy coincidence, this core constituency enjoyed multibillion-dollar largesse under Labor. Real public sector wages in NSW increased 23 per cent during the life of the government, a rate more than double the 11 per cent increase in real wages in the private sector.

Between September 1997 and June last year, real public sector wages in NSW increased 10.6 per cent more than real private sector wages. This also outstripped real public sector wages in other states by 6.9 per cent.

The commission has a reputation for handing down wage increases without regard to the state's capacity to pay for them. The commission delivered one-size-fits-all wage agreements, where unions won awards of the same size as other awards, without reference to differences in productivity growth between sectors.

The commission oversees a punitive occupational health and safety legal system, which operates under a presumption of guilt by employers and innocence by employees and is conspicuously biased in favour of union power.

The Labor government tried to rein in its self-imposed wage burden by legislating to cap wage increases at 2.5 per cent. Any additional increases had to be offset by cost savings. The policy failed as the commission continued to hand down wage increases of more than 2.5 per cent while only half the promised cost savings materialised.

An exasperated Premier told me on Friday: "One of the key reasons why wages policy has not achieved necessary savings is because of constant arrangements entered into at the commission based on planned future savings which have not been delivered. To my mind, it is simply wrong that we should risk the state's financial security on projections for savings with no real guarantee of having these savings realised."

This failure is expensive. The state's wages bill is now $28 billion a year. Every 1 per cent increase in wages costs the NSW budget almost $280 million a year. To stop subversion of the budget projections, the government is introducing legislation requiring that cost savings used to justify wage increases be achieved before the wage agreements are negotiated. Real savings will thus replace phantom savings.

The government is also introducing legislation to bring workplace safety laws into line with federal laws enacted by the federal Labor government. Responsibility for these cases will be moved from the Industrial Relations Commission to other courts where defendants have the same rights as plaintiffs and unions do not have de facto police powers of search and seizure.


A parasitic government welfare agency in South Australia

The equivalent body in Queensland has been heavily criticized too -- doing all it can to delay release of funds from its grip

GARY Norris had $7000 in savings in 2006 when his finances were taken over by the Public Trustee. Just three years later, his bank account was empty.

The intellectually disabled man from Mt Gambier handed his financial affairs to he Public Trustee after his carer was unable to continue with the responsibility.

Mr Norris's mother, Jan, said her son's savings were chewed up in Public Trustee fees and charges. And Mrs Norris is worried that other disabled pensioners will suffer the same fate when the State Government closes the Disability SA Client Trust management fund, forcing many to use the Public Trustee.

The $2.2 million savings measure was announced in last year's State Budget, but the Government has delayed the fund's closure by 12 months, to July next year.

The closure has been opposed by the Public Advocate and welfare groups which say pensioners will be slugged $45 a fortnight in fees if their funds are managed by the Public Trustee.

Disabilities Minister Jennifer Rankine said the deferral would provide clients with more time to consider their options. "That is, whether to transfer management to the Public Trustee, another financial service or whether they wish to manage their funds themselves," she said.

Mrs Norris said she would take over the management of her son's finances. "We are not going to chance it again," she said.

Opposition disability spokeswoman Vickie Chapman said the Government was back-pedalling to try to save itself from political embarrassment. "Delaying it (the fund closure) won't stop us raising the inequity of it," Ms Chapman said.

Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent said the deferral would not "undo the frustration, worry and panic many of these people have already experienced".


Revolting Melbourne public hospital

HARROWING conditions at Footscray's Western Hospital - including blood splatters, dirty beds and vomit-covered toilets - have prompted an urgent investigation into its hygiene standards.

When James Juranke, 24, rushed girlfriend Miranda Taylor, 25, to the emergency room at Western Hospital in Footscray last week to be treated for a pinched nerve, they were horrified by the state of the hospital. "It really made me sick to go in there, thinking that this is Australia," Mr Juranke said. "We shouldn't have to have situations like this.

"The staff were friendly and they tried to do the best they could with what they had available (but) Footscray was absolutely atrocious."

After sitting in a waiting room for more than four hours, Ms Taylor was given a bed in the fast track ward. But when she pulled back the sheets, she found the bed she was lying on was coated in filth, seen in photos provided exclusively to the Herald Sun.

The hospital said it would launch an immediate inquiry. "Western Health is extremely disappointed at the unacceptable level of cleanliness and hygiene which is reflected in the photographs you have brought to our attention," the hospital said in a statement.

"We have commenced an urgent investigation into the matter as it appears that, in this instance, the standards we expect have not been met. "We will be working with our staff and volunteers to identify how we might do this differently and better into the future."

When the couple arrived at 5.30am, they were the only people in the emergency waiting room other than an apparent homeless man who soon thanked staff and left. They did not get a formal diagnosis for Ms Taylor's pain until after 9.30pm, when nursing staff confirmed it was a pinched nerve and she was discharged.

"I felt like my leg was being ripped off, that's why we went there, and to be waiting that long in such disgusting conditions, not knowing what's going on, is pretty traumatic," Ms Taylor said.

Blood they had noticed at the hospital entrance was still there when they left, more than 14 hours later.

The only men's toilet in the waiting room was covered in vomit more than four hours after it was discovered by staff.

Wheelchairs in the X-ray department were secured with chains and when Mr Juranke asked why, he was told that if left unsecured, they would be taken by other departments.

"I wouldn't go back, not at all," Mr Juranke said. "The conditions were just putrid and disgusting and if I'd known I would have told Miranda to wait until 8am and just taken her to Williamstown and got some painkillers from the local 7-11."

Victoria's Health Services Commissioner, Beth Wilson, said patients were entitled to be treated with respect and dignity under the Australian hospitals charter. "Being subjected to dirty conditions is not dignified treatment, it's not respectful, she said.

The hospital said it was regularly subject to cleanliness audits and had consistently exceeded benchmarks. [That says a lot about the benchmarks]


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