Sunday, August 21, 2011

Racial abuse in football

It's common worldwide. Sport tends to wind people up and some act incautiously as a result. Should not be taken too seriously

A COUNTRY football umpire is the latest figure to be involved in a racial vilification case this year. He is alleged to have racially abused a player in a North Gippsland Football League match last weekend. The player was from Woodside Football Club, playing Cowwarr.

It is alleged the umpire racially taunted the indigenous player during the last quarter before the player retaliated by kicking a ball at the umpire's head.

North Gippsland league general manager Gordon Bailey said the issue was disappointing. "We got a complaint from Woodside about the alleged vilification of one of their players by an umpire," Bailey said. "The umpire and his association have agreed to attend a mediation session. Hopefully it will take place sooner rather than later."

Meanwhile, the case against a boy, 11, accused of calling a football opponent a "nigger" has been dropped, after an independent investigation found he had not been the perpetrator of a racial slur directed at Ronen Jafari, an under-12s Portarlington player, during a match against Drysdale on the Bellarine Peninsula last month. The league adopted the inquiry's three recommendations:

A RACISM seminar to be attended by players in the Drysdale under-12s team.

A LETTER of apology to Ronen, to be signed by all Drysdale players.

THE boy who was accused of making the slur had no case to answer.

Football Geelong chief executive Lee Hartman said the investigation had not determined exactly what words were used and by whom. But the boy originally accused had not uttered a racial slur.


Criminals cash up on $400,000 in compo

VICTORIAN prisoners have been paid more than $400,000 by the State Government in the past two years.

Taxpayers have unwittingly footed the bill for compensation claims of up to $135,000 to criminals including a paedophile, serial drink-drivers and a kidnapper for injuries and illnesses the lawbreakers claim to have suffered behind bars.

The Department of Justice has confirmed $422,000 in compensation payments have been paid to prisoners since June 2009, exclusive of costs. Several more claims are still pending.

The payments, made under the Prisoner Compensation Quarantine Fund, are held in accounts until the prisoners are released. They included:

A $135,000 payment to kidnapper Toni Vodopic because she slipped in a puddle as she mopped floors at Dame Phyllis Frost prison.

$65,000 plus costs paid to paedophile Anthony Douglas Walters to pay for plastic surgery and counselling after he was attacked in jail.

$120,000 paid to drink-driver Alan Philip Brown who claimed a garden roller door closed on him in Loddon Prison.

A $27,000 claim by prisoner Patrick Trainor in November 2009.

$75,000 plus costs paid to jailed drink-driver Andrew Steel who claimed he hurt his back driving a tractor at Dhurringle Prison.

Victims of the criminals' crimes are entitled to make a claim for some of the money they have been awarded under state legislation, and the State Government has encouraged them to do so.

But the Government has refused to say how much victims of the criminals' crimes have recouped, citing privacy legislation.

Corrections Victoria spokesman Sam Bishop said victims had a year to consider taking their own legal action upon learning the criminal had received a payout. "The Prisoner Compensation Quarantine Fund gives victims a chance to hold prisoners accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused," he said.

"The fund ensures any compensation payment over $10,000 is quarantined until legal proceedings have been completed. "This gives victims an opportunity to launch a civil claim."


Deals too good to be true, warns Choice

BARGAIN hunters have been warned to be wary of "coupon sites" such as Scoopon, Cudo, LivingSocial, Spreets and Groupon.

The boom in the Australian sites comes as the popularity of their US equivalents begins to wane because of growing shopper discontent.

Consumer group Choice has now warned online coupon shoppers to keep a keen eye on expiry dates, and deals that are too good to be true. The consumer group has also received complaints from coupon buyers claiming second-class service.

Choice member Jon Park was disappointed with discount go-kart vouchers he bought online. Mr Park said he was treated poorly and forced to wait behind full-paying customers. "This is very unfair and unjust," he said.

The new online players have also been criticised over inaccurate advertising, refusals of refunds and hidden terms and conditions.

Thousands of Australian consumers are flocking to the growing coupon sites. Deals range from $1 ten-pin bowling and $29 manicures to $49 banquet feasts for two.

Melbourne-based website Scoopon claims to be the most popular local online coupon mailer with more than a million subscribers. Scoopon general manager Jon Beros said the site had sold 1.3 million deals and 1 per cent of sales had attracted customer complaints.

Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just said: "Certainly it is important to be aware of the expiry dates and to ask yourself if you are getting caught up in the excitement of the deal, rather than if you need the deal."


Victorian Grandmother waiting for public hospital knee surgery for three years

A ST ALBANS grandmother says she has abandoned all hope of undergoing a knee replacement in the public health system after having her operation cancelled eight times in the past three months.

The elective surgery saga comes as the State Government has appointed a panel to oversee Victoria's first publication of "hidden" wait times.

Doris Swansson, 62, has been waiting for surgery since injuring her knee three years ago. But after waiting 18 months for a referral to a Western Health surgeon - which unwittingly saw her waiting for an arthritis clinic appointment - it was another eight months before she had an arthroscopy.

She has since taken out private health insurance - eating up a quarter of her weekly pension - in what she sees as her only option to have surgery. "I'm feeling lucky that I took it out now, even though sometimes I'll only have $30 left a week for food and the rest after paying my bills," Ms Swansson said.

"I just limp around these days, it's the normal walking movement that causes all the problems and I'm always in pain. "You pay your taxes all your life, but when you need help you're left housebound."

Western Health divisional director of surgical services Claire Culley said the operations had been delayed three times to make room for emergency cases. Ms Culley said the operation was cancelled twice because Ms Swansson's request to have her own blood collected for transfusion during the surgery could not be met at short notice.

Meanwhile, the State Government has appointed a three-member panel to audit hospital elective surgery and outpatient waiting lists, helping establish a "treat in turn" system to ensure patients are treated anywhere across the system.

Eastern Health board director Stuart Alford, Australian Medical Association vice-president Dr Stephen Parnis and Latrobe Regional Hospital chief Peter Craighead will report to Health Minister David Davis within six months.

They will also improve the consistency of elective surgery categorisation across the health system, to help reduce inequity throughout the network by grouping patients with similar conditions in similar time frames.


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