Friday, October 07, 2011

More queer folk needed at Australian universities?

GAYS, lesbians and transsexuals have been named as a new equity sub-group that universities must track for their progress in enrolment and retention.

The federal Education Department has asked universities to report back on improvements in rates of under-representation, even though there is no data to suggest this group participates in higher education at lower rates than the rest of the community.

"In fact, general surveys of gays and lesbians show high levels of educational attainment," said Andrew Norton, higher education director with think tank The Grattan Institute.

The document also asks universities to report on their work with people from non-English speaking backgrounds, although recent research has confirmed that this group, on average, has higher levels of participation and success than Australian-born students.

While universities are striving to meet the government-set equity target of 20 per cent of disadvantaged people holding a degree by 2020, the inclusion of these new equity indicators has raised eyebrows.

"Lots of universities have programs to improve inclusiveness, but sexuality is not an under-representation issue, its a social justice issue," said the Queensland University of Technology's equity director, Mary Kelly.

Ms Kelly said universities did not collect data on sexual orientation -- and would probably create a public outrage if they tried to. The only required areas were indigenous background, country of birth and disability. She said she thought the move was probably a result of ill-informed goodwill on the part of a federal bureaucrat rather than government direction.

The manager of student access and equity at Deakin University in Victoria, Jennifer Oriel, described using sexual orientation as an indicator of equity as "a nonsense". "My opinion is that disadvantage has to be produced by poor educational participation or outcomes," she said. "We need to keep in mind that higher education equity is about improving the outcomes from structurally disadvantaged backgrounds."

Included in the document, under the sub-heading "Gender", are women in engineering and computing and men in education and nursing.

Ms Kelly said while women in non-traditional areas was a hot topic, the debate on men in certain disciplines had been "won and lost" some time ago. "Men are not going into nursing and teaching because they are in other professions and the trades and they don't want to go into underpaid jobs."


Supreme Court orders Google Australia to release details of creators of website

INTERNET giant Google has lost a landmark legal battle that is expected to open the floodgates to online litigation against anonymous online commentators.

The Supreme Court yesterday ordered Google Australia to release details of those behind a website that labelled Gold Coast entrepreneur and self-help guru Jamie McIntyre a "thieving scumbag", the Courier-Mail reported.

Private investigator Travis Burch, who was hired by Mr McIntyre to find out the website's author so he could sue for defamation, said yesterday that it was "a good day for people who don't frankly want to be defamed on the internet".

"We've done a lot of work in this area and identifying and pushing trying to expose people and tracking them down through records that they leave on the Internet," Mr Burch said. "Having a win in courts just means we're a couple of steps closer to bringing the person to a form of justice. "The content that appeared on that website and (has) been promoted through the website is blatantly defamatory."

Barrister John Bryson said he thought it was the first time legal action of this kind against Google had been successful in Australia. "People need to know that they can take on the big companies, the major players, and get a win," Mr Bryson said.

The allegedly defamatory website is one of the first listings on a Google search for Mr McIntyre and countless efforts to find the owners, including hiring a private investigator, have so far been unsuccessful.


Medical specialist Gino Pecoraro calls for scalpel to be used on Queensland Health bureaucracy

HIGH-profile medical specialist Gino Pecoraro has called for the scalpel to be used on the Queensland Health bureaucracy, describing it as a "behemoth".

Dr Pecoraro - past president of the Australian Medical Association Queensland - said huge amounts of money could be freed up for patient care by cutting back on public servants.

"You have the situation where you have this huge layer of middle management where - for every person who's actually doing work - you've got seemingly endless numbers of people managing them, figuring out whether they're doing it to the best of their ability," he said.

"I think that's where we need to look to find efficiencies. "I think, if we are honest about getting the biggest bang for our buck, we need to cut out all the middle men, decrease that burgeoning bureaucracy."

Dr Pecoraro spoke at The Courier-Mail's community forum on health, which discussed issues ranging from the need for more money to be spent on preventative health to a lack of beds in the public hospital system and the importance of attracting Visiting Medical Officers to regional areas.

Emergency specialist David Ward - who has worked in the private and public sectors - said the lack of public hospital beds caused emergency departments to become "constipated", often unable to offload patients to a ward in a timely manner. "The southside of Brisbane is about 800 beds short," he said. "That's a hospital the size of the Princess Alexandra that needs to be built now."

Associate Professor Ward - who works at Holy Spirit Northside Emergency - said bed shortages were also particularly acute in Cairns, Townsville and the Gold and Sunshine coasts.

Former Queensland Health Deputy Director-General Andrew Wilson said politicians of all persuasions had shied away from making decisions on preventative health measures, such as restrictions on junk food advertising, despite "reasonable" evidence that they worked.

Professor Wilson, now the Queensland University of Technology's health faculty executive dean, said: "We . . . have to recognise that there are people now who have very significant health problems as a result of their weight. "That's another thing that's going to have to go on a long list of things which the system has to factor in."


Union rip-offs in Victoria to be reined in

BUILDING workers would be banned from demanding super-sized pay packets under tough new rules aimed at curbing union power. The Baillieu Government would require contractors on taxpayer-financed projects to follow its hardline union-busting approach or be banned from future work.

Fears of runaway costs have sparked the move, after major blowouts at the desalination plant.

The Government is keen to ensure the $5.3 billion Regional Rail Link project does not suffer the same fate as the Wonthaggi site.

Future unrelated private work done by companies with state contracts would also have to comply with the new rules.

In what loomed as the biggest challenge to union power in Victoria since the Kennett era, government inspectors would raid worksites, question workers and seize documents. Compulsory union membership would be banned, including those practices designed to disrupt non-union members and force them to join.

Unions would not be able to "directly or indirectly coerce or pressure" contractors to make over-award payments.

Finance Minister Robert Clark said the new building and construction industry code of practice would mean fewer cost blowouts. "Taxpayers (will) get better value for money when funds are spent on community infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, roads and public transport," he said.

Former federal Liberal workplace relations minister Peter Reith has backed the proposals. "Victorians have been paying through the nose because of poor behaviour by militant trade unions," Mr Reith said.



Paul said...

"the debate on men in certain disciplines had been "won and lost" some time ago. "Men are not going into nursing and teaching because they are in other professions and the trades and they don't want to go into underpaid jobs."

Nurses whine a lot about being underpaid, but in fact its not that bad. And.. public sector employees have no understanding of just how easy they have it next to those in much of the Private sector. We are mollycoddled and wrapped in cotton wool. Most have been their whole lives in public sector employment and just can't see it. And I gotta say that, really, the "all male nurses are Gay" thing is in fading into the past. Maybe its something to do with the dismantling of manufacturing and the export of jobs in that sector. In the end men will seek to work to support a family and build a life. If that means Nursing then that's what they do.

Paul said...

I just reread that article. What a load of...

Are we paying these idiots to prattle on with this rubbish? What happened to just going to Uni because you wanted to learn a discipline? You know I like it up here in the country because this quasi-academic drivel seems (and is) a million miles away. Next Melbourne Uni will stick the Chancellor on a Mardi-Gras float to help recruit the PC quotas.