Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Poisoner targets birds at Cleveland on Brisbane's bayside

The story below is extremely unpleasant but is entirely predictable. Despite nuisance birds like crows and magpies not being remotely "endangered species" they are protected by law. So people cannot shoot ones that are a particular nuisance and the government almost never does anything to remove them. So where the law fails people you have got to expect somebody to become so fed up that they take their own measures. And inevitably those measures will be crude

IT'S a murder of crows . . . and magpies and seabirds. The hunt continues for an elusive bird killer in greater Brisbane's bayside. The killer has been stalking the streets of Cleveland in Redland City, poisoning prey with chemical-laced meat.

The entire local magpie population may now have been successfully wiped out.

The stealthy perpetrator is believed to be responsible for the poisoning death of 68 birds, including 50 magpies and 16 crows, in the central business district.

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said he was shocked by the scale of the poisoning campaign, which was the worst he had seen. "I've not seen anything on this scale," Mr Beatty said. "There are lots of cases where a few birds have been poisoned but not an ongoing campaign like this and certainly not on this scale."

Scores of dead or paralysed birds have been found on green spaces within blocks of each other on Bloomfield, Doig and Waterloo streets and Taylor Cres. Another two dead birds turned up last week.

Sample testing has shown the presence of an organophosphate chemical that is particularly toxic to birds.

However, almost five months of investigations and a public information campaign has failed to uncover any tangible leads.

Pelican Seabird Rescue vice-president Natalie Forrest, who is caring for five surviving magpies, said she was sickened by the parade of carcasses that also included a black-faced cuckoo shrike, a flying fox and a mouse.

"It's totally unnecessary and very cruel," Ms Forrest said. "It's an absolutely terrible sort of cruelty and I would like to see the offender found and punished appropriately. I have never seen anything like it. "Yes we have seen poisoning but it's usually a one-off event. This has been very deliberate now for six months."

The first poisoned birds began appearing in June, but the number of cases then dropped off again until last month when more dead birds began turning up.

If found, the killer could face a fine of up to $100,000 or two years in jail, depending on the relevant law.


Patriot games: Kids told to join Team Australia

ALL students would be "Australianised" - and encouraged to regularly sing the national anthem at school - under a push by a Victorian Baillieu Government minister.

Alarmed that a significant number of migrant children do not identify as Australian, Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Minister Nick Kotsiras is promoting a radical civic program to make kids feel part of "Team Australia".

Mr Kotsiras said up to a third of students at classes he visited did not feel Australian. "To me, that's disappointing, because I would hope to see every single child putting up their hands," he said. "What makes you feel that you're not part of Victoria, not part of Australia?

"Our young people, when they grow up, if they keep that impression then that would cause some frictions. "We need to see why and then try programs to assist them to feel part of the team - Team Australia."

Mr Kotsiras said most schools regularly sang the national anthem, but he wanted all schools to do it as a symbol of unity. "I would hope that during school assemblies at the start of the week that schools do sing the national anthem because you tend to feel united and tend to appreciate that while you are different you also share something with the person next to you," he said.

Greek-born Mr Kotsiras said the State Government was planning a beefed up program to promote Australian values. "I support multiculturalism, I support our cultural diversity and I support individuals showcasing their differences," he said. " ... I've always said that we also have to understand that we are Victorians and Australians as well."


Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Mary Bluett said the minister's calls were simplistic and "jingoistic". "I think the minister is oversimplifying if he thinks children together singing the national anthem will make new arrivals feel like they actually belong," Ms Bluett said. "It just seems a bit of jingoistic nonsense in terms of what is a far more complex issue."

She said friendships and everyday activities in the classroom and playground were more helpful than singing the anthem to integrate students. "What makes them feel like they belong is the everyday activities, sitting side-by-side with other children and learning about all things including this wonderful country of ours. "It's making friends and forming bonds that really assist children to feel fully integrated into our lovely multicultural nation."

Ms Bluett said words in the anthem, such as "girt", were outdated for modern school kids. "There are words in our national anthem that Aussie kids would struggle to identify with, let alone new arrivals."

She said it was up to individual schools to decide when it was appropriate to sing the anthem.

Children of New Zealand origin are the biggest foreign-born group in state primary schools, followed by students from the UK, India, China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Dandenong North primary principal Kevin Mackay said his school had many migrant students and they often maintained strong links to their homelands. "Often you will hear from 11 and 12-year-old children, 'My country', and that's the country they came from, not necessarily Australia," he said.

But Mr Mackay said students proudly sang the national anthem at Monday assembly and the school felt like a big family. "I see kids of all nationalities walking along the corridors arm in arm and arms around the shoulders," he said. "They are totally at ease and totally integrated."

Mr Kotsiras has set up a special unit to co-ordinate the settlement of migrants and refugees and is also encouraging multicultural communities to band together when organising festivals and events under the $1.1 million Unity Through Partnership grants program.

The Baillieu Government has given official recognition to multiculturalism in a special Act and is boosting the teaching of foreign languages in schools.


Old boy's club supports corrupt university boss

No questions asked

VICE-chancellors of Australia's leading universities have closed ranks behind their chairman, Professor Paul Greenfield, the University of Queensland vice-chancellor embroiled in a nepotism scandal involving a close family member.

The Group of Eight vice-chancellors "strongly and unanimously" endorsed Prof Greenfield to remain as their chairman until his term ends next year. "There was no vote, just a unanimous show of confidence," Go8 executive director Michael Gallagher said.

He said the vice-chancellors meeting in Canberra last week didn't ask for and were not given a briefing by their chairman on the independent barrister's investigation which found "irregularities" in the University of Queensland's enrolments.

Mr Gallagher suggested that the vice-chancellors supported Prof Greenfield without knowing the full details of the controversy. There was "no discussion of content", he said. "It didn't come to that, right.

There was no need for a discussion because the university has said there was no malfeasance. "There were irregularities found but there was no slur on Paul and there was nothing that required an explanation. "It seems to me you are on a bit of a witch hunt," he said.

The affair remains a mystery, with senior academics from the University of Queensland barred from speaking about the case.

The university has declined to say in which faculty the irregularities occurred, but it has been widely reported as the School of Medicine.

The cover-up continued yesterday, with the university refusing to say whether there had been fresh allegations of nepotism in other departments.

The Go8 universities are Monash, the universities of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, Australian National University and the universities of NSW, Western Australia and Queensland.


A culture of coverup at another government health service

A MAJOR mental health service in Melbourne has been hit by further accusations of covering up sexual assaults, including an incident in which a male nurse allegedly kissed and fondled a patient and tried to pressure her into performing oral sex.

The Age has heard complaints from former patients and their relatives about Eastern Health's handling of sexual assaults that allegedly occurred at the Maroondah Hospital psychiatric unit and other facilities over the past decade.

The complaints come after reports in The Age about Eastern Health's failure to report the alleged rape of a 21-year-old woman to police in 2008 and to notify the parents of a 15-year-old girl sexually assaulted while in its care in February.
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The service was investigated last year by Victoria's Chief Psychiatrist, Ruth Vine, amid allegations staff failed to protect an intellectually disabled teenager from being sexually exploited at the Maroondah psychiatric unit by a 34-year-old male patient - despite being warned by other patients about his behaviour towards the girl.

In the case involving the male nurse, a 20-year-old woman complained to staff at Maroondah in September last year that she had been subjected to sexual advances over two days.

The woman, who asked to be identified only as Angela, told The Age the nurse commented on her bra during a medical procedure, hugged her, kissed her, forced her hand down his trousers, asked for her phone number, exposed his penis to her and asked her to kiss him.

Angela, who was being treated for bipolar disorder, said that when she complained to a female staff member, she was told not to tell anyone else about it to avoid it "becoming office gossip". She said staff also told her that it was not the first time a complaint had been made against the nurse.

The Age understands Eastern Health staff did not immediately notify police of Angela's complaint. They did, however, help her to contact police the next day at her request. Police investigated the case but did not lay charges on the grounds it would be difficult to prosecute.

Angela said senior Eastern Health management, including mental health director Jose Segal, assured her and her mother that the incident would not be "swept under the carpet".

On October 7 last year, Angela received a letter from Eastern Health mental health unit manager John Daly to confirm an investigation had been conducted and "appropriate disciplinary action implemented".

Eastern Health did not detail to Angela what disciplinary action was taken. It declined to answer questions from The Age on its response to her complaint or whether the nurse had been the subject of prior complaints.

It is understood the nurse was back working in Eastern Health's mental health services soon after the alleged incidents involving Angela, and that he remains in a role where he interacts with female patients.

Angela told The Age the nurse's antics made her "feel anxious, dirty, trapped and angry", and that the staff response "made me feel confused, silenced and frustrated".

The relative of another former Eastern Health patient has contacted The Age to allege that a sexual assault at the Maroondah mental health unit in 2002 went unreported due to pressure from staff. "When she asked the staff how to report the incident they blatantly told her to 'forget about it'," the relative said.

Dr Segal, one of Eastern Health's most senior psychiatric clinicians, has been the subject of court action in South Africa in 2006 lodged by a female patient who claimed she was raped by a male nurse and male patient while under Dr Segal's care at a Johannesburg mental hospital.

According to a report by South African online newspaper IOL, the patient alleged in the Johannesburg High Court that psychiatric staff, including Dr Segal, refused to hand over her medical records.

The Age sought a comment from Dr Segal through Eastern Health on the South African matter but did not receive one.

An Eastern Health spokeswoman denied the service had a systemic problem with managing sexual assault allegations, and said all complaints were taken seriously. "We have a robust and comprehensive complaints management system and our processes comply with the Chief Psychiatrist's guidelines," the spokeswoman said.

The guidelines require psychiatric services to report suspected incidents of sexual assault to police, debrief families and provide feedback to complainants. Referring to Angela's case, the spokeswoman said: "While we cannot disclose or discuss private patient or staff information, we can say that this matter was thoroughly investigated at the time and appropriate action was taken."


1 comment:

Paul said...

If the bird poisoner could just pop up here and help us with the Indian Mynah birds it would be appreciated.