Sunday, November 27, 2011

Getting unqualified blacks into university is pointless in Australia too

In much of the USA a black High School diploma is meaningless, not even guaranteeing literacy -- but it will get the holder into some sort of tertiary institution, where graduation rates are low. And even if the student does graduate, his/her skillset will often still not rise much above literacy. Without primary and secondary schools that provide a meaningful education, very little can be done for the black student at the tertiary level.

The folly is less advanced in Britain, with the government putting pressure on the universities to accept underqualified students from sink schools but at least the top tier of British universities seems to be fairly successful in resisting that pressure so far. Sara Hudson below is warning the Australian government that they too should fix the schools first

The Australian Government is conducting a Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. According to the government the review will provide advice and make recommendations on achieving parity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, best practice and opportunities inside universities and other higher education providers, the effectiveness of affirmative action policies and the recognition of Indigenous knowledge in the higher education sector.

Our submission to the review (available on our website here) argues that it is not affirmative action or opportunities inside universities that the government should be concerned with but the ‘sink schools’ in welfare dependent suburbs and the Indigenous ‘schools’ in remote communities. These schools do not provide adequate primary and secondary education to enable children to proceed to university. The few Indigenous students from urban welfare dependent families or remote communities who qualify for university are almost always those whose parents have them board with relatives to access quality mainstream schools, or those at quality boarding schools on scholarships.

Conversely, Indigenous students from working families are attending university in record numbers. In 2009 Indigenous higher education enrolment had grown to 10,465 with an estimated 26, 0000 Indigenous graduates in the labour force by the end of 2010. Increasing numbers of Indigenous graduates are going on to quality post-graduate degrees that will enable them to qualify for academic posts. The remarkable success of these students shows that ‘affirmative action’ is not needed.

With a small proportion of the total population, Indigenous academics will always only form a small proportion of academic staff. It is extremely important for their reputation as well as their self-esteem that they are not stigmatized as being appointed by ‘affirmative action’ rather than on merit.

No amount of affirmative action will make any difference for those Indigenous students from urban welfare dependent and remote communities. These students will continue to have low participation in higher education until the deficits of substandard pre-school, primary and secondary education cease. To put it simply, if children are not taught to read, write and count, they have no hope of going to university.


Bungling NSW public hospitals are regular killers

MEDICAL mishaps including medication errors, misdiagnosis or botched surgery, contributed to the death of a patient a day in NSW public hospitals.

In six months from January to June 2010, 209 patients died, while a further 64,225 cases of "harmful or potentially harmful" incidents were reported to the Clinical Excellence Commission, a new report reveals.

It found 11 cases of "retained material", such as swabs or scissors being left inside a patient; 54 cases of identification mix-ups and 50 incidents of a patient receiving the wrong or no treatment.

Figures reveal the number of clinical incidents rose from 62,269 for the same period in 2009, with almost 300 cases classified as extremely severe.

Of those, 163 were "clinical management" errors, defined in the report as any incident in the diagnosis, treatment or delivery of care, including "unintended injury during a medical/surgical procedure, surgery on the wrong body part or delays in diagnosis.

CEO of the Clinical Excellence Commission Professor Clifford Hughes attributed the rise in clinical incidents to more health care staff using the reporting system. "There is an increasing willingness of the system to report. The only real reason they want to report is to improve the system," Professor Hughes said.

"Every single incident here is something for us to try to do something about. These people (staff) want to learn and they want to do it better."

Patients falling remained one of the most common incidents, with 12,670 cases reported during the first half of last year.

There were 11,171 medication or intravenous fluid incidents, which includes prescribing errors and incorrect IV infusion rates and 4,495 errors in documentation.

According to the report there were more than 780,000 patients admitted to the public health system, and clinical incidents were notified at an overall rate of 21 per 1000 bed days.

According to the Bureau of Health Information Healthcare in Focus 2011 report, released this week in NSW, 21 per cent of adults who have used health care for a serious or chronic condition think a medical mistake, medication error or incorrect lab result occurred during their care in the previous two years.

The report found that of "sicker adults" who had surgery or were hospitalised in the past two years, 13 per cent reported developing an infection during or shortly after their hospital stay.


Australia's decrepit Navy

MORE than half the Royal Australian Navy's fleet has been forced out of action for repairs to unexpected faults or defects over the past year.

Official figures reveal some vessels were out of action for months while others have been put on "extended readiness" - they could be put into service but at a later date - due to a lack of crew. Two minehunters have been mothballed indefinitely.

Opposition defence spokesman David Johnston said the fleet's parlous state was now an issue of national security.

"The past four years of the Rudd-Gillard government has seen our naval fleet fall into a state of disrepair with many ships sidelined because of a lack of care and maintenance," he said. "It has long ceased to be just a maintenance issue and is now an issue of national security."

The figures related to the state of the naval fleet between January and June this year.

Two of the navy's newest ships, minehunters HMAS Hawkesbury and HMAS Norman - built by Australian Defence Industries in Newcastle and commissioned in 2000 - were "decrewed" and placed into reserve this year.

If the ships were required to come back into service, the Department of Defence estimates it would take up to five years to bring them back to operational status.

Of the 12 frigates, Anzac and Arunta were placed in "extended readiness" due to the navy being unable to obtained sufficient numbers of qualified marine technicians.

A third, Newcastle, underwent scheduled maintenance between January and April only to be brought back to the yard twice for "unscheduled defect rectification".

Both naval supply ships, Success and Sirius, have also had maintenance setbacks.

Success was double-skinned for about $12 million in Singapore to help guard against potential oil leaks only for the vessel to be returned to Australia for maintenance.

Sirius underwent maintenance in the first half of the year only to be put out of action again in June due to defects.

Of the nine amphibious ships, Kanimbla has been placed in an "operational pause" while Manoora was decommissioned after ongoing repairs were deemed too costly.

The 14 Patrol Boat Force vessels, most of which are heavily involved in intercepting illegal boats, have also been in and out of action due to ongoing repairs.

A spokesman for Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the navy was addressing the problems as identified in the report on naval repair by the defence management expert Paul Rizzo.

"The navy currently meets its operational commitments be they in the Middle East, on border protection operations, in international engagement or in multilateral training exercises," the spokesman said.

"It is now making solid headway in progressing Mr Rizzo's recommendations."


Airline had no option but to take a stand, says Future Fund chief

THE Future Fund chief, David Murray, has backed Qantas in the dispute with its workforce, saying unless companies like the airline tackle entrenched union privilege Australia risks the same fate as Europe.

And he says the government is aping Europe by borrowing to buy votes. "My European banking counterparts tell me they can't cut jobs without offering three years redundancy," he told a forecasting conference in Sydney. "We are creeping towards that in the new industrial relations framework. It gives unions a right to bargain in areas [that were] traditionally the management's prerogative.

"Australia started out after the Second World War making work arrangements a little bit more reliable, introducing the rule of law, but the process has gone too far - it gets to the point of unaffordability.

"Qantas management have no option but to do what they are doing. They are running an unviable airline. "With terrible productivity internationally they are hostage to competitors domestically. The stakes are high. Qantas is not the only company."

The former Commonwealth Bank chief was appointed chairman of the Future Fund in 2004 by the then Coalition Treasurer Peter Costello. He steps down in April and has already accepted a part-time role with the global investment bank Credit Suisse.

"I don't see anything concrete on productivity," he said. "I don't see governments trying to wind back their debt positions rapidly, I don't see people coming off subsidy arrangements for industry, in fact new arrangements are more the norm.

"I would have thought what is happening in Europe would be one of the most timely wake-up calls in Australia's history. "Yet it is being completely ignored because we've had 20 years of growth. "The size of complacency here is outrightly dangerous.

"What is it that's wrong? It is the process by which public debt is used to buy votes with the promises of entitlements. If you borrow to buy votes you are expropriating the savings of other people."

Asked whether now was the right time to slash spending and cut debt, Mr Murray said it was better to do it when unemployment was around 5 per cent than later, when it went higher.

The carbon tax and the mining tax were also badly timed. "Irrespective of what you believe about climate change, given what's happening in the world, the timing of the policy response is not good at all," Mr Murray said. "The timing of [the] introduction of a mining tax when the terms of trade boom was just about to end is not good at all either."

Mr Murray said a simpler way of redistributing mining income would have been to end the tax deductibility of royalty payments and use the proceeds to cut company tax.

"It could be done in two lines of code, a few lines of legislation," he said.



Paul said...

I have some first-hand experience of Aboriginal nurses who have been passed at Uni despite their failure to reach the minimum academic standards expected of non-indigenous students. Their is pressure, sometimes from the students themselves who pull the race card when they are threatened to fail through lack of application and non-attendance.

Paul said...

There is some truth to the medical error reporting story. They almost plead with us to report every little thing that could be either an error or a "near-miss" as they call it. The apparent rate of errors does not correlate anymore with actual outcomes, because previously the only errors reported were those significant enough to cause actual harm. They are more interested in system analysis than apportioning blame so they say they want to know everything. I should point out though that this scatter-gun approach to incident reporting has resulted in the birth of some impressive medico-legal bureaucracies, and added layers of unnecessary paperwork based compliance measures to the work of the Nurses on the floor.