Friday, April 27, 2012

Member of Sudanese gang jailed for his role in gruesome three-week robbery rampage

Africans are a big problem in Melbourne.  The episode below is only one of many.  Rather than feel gratitude towards the country that gave them refuge, many of them seem to feel only contempt for the rest of the community

A MEMBER of a gang of Sudanese youth who attacked 13 victims during a three-week robbery rampage has been jailed for almost six years after a judge said the courts could not tolerate unprovoked violence against soft targets on Melbourne's streets.

The assaults and robberies were "violent, it was unforgivable, it was brazen, it was frightening," County Court Judge Michael Tinney said today in sentencing Ring Chol, now 19, to a maximum five years and 10 months and a minimum term of three years and four months.

Some of the victims, attacked after leaving western suburban train stations or walking alone in St Albans in mid afternoon, had left Australia after the bashings, the court heard.

Judge Tinney said Chol's group, which included offenders aged 13 to 16, targeted vulnerable people, some of whom were bashed, threatened with a knife or bottle, or laughed at during attacks - despite offering to hand over possessions during the 22-day spree in June 2011.

"Just take my wallet, take my phone, take my bag, just leave me alone, I will die," one victim told his attackers after trying to flee.  "Yet he was punched repeatedly by you and at least two others" and lost consciousness during the assault which lasted 10 to 15 minutes, Judge Tinney said.  "These were cowardly and often brutal attacks," the judge said.

"Many people in this community no longer regard public transport as a safe option.  "This court must send a clear and loud message."

Judge Tinney said hardly a day goes by when soft targets are not subjected to robbery and assault in Melbourne and unprovoked violence must no longer be tolerated by the courts, if it ever was.

In one incident Chol stood on the bumper of a taxi and threatened to smash a rock into the windscreen unless the driver gave over property, and in another a victim was followed from Keilor Plains train station to his home where his house window was smashed and three vehicles damaged.

While bailed for the original offences, Chol breached curfew and has since been charged with two other assaults committed in central Melbourne for which he is yet to face court, Judge Tinney said.

He said Chol suffered post traumatic stress from the horrors he witnessed growing up in Sudan and what was described as "three years of hell" being subjected to racially-motivated violence in Egypt before coming to Australia as a 14-year-old.

But Judge Tinney said while some sentence reduction was called for due to his earlier trauma and his youth, the nature and gravity of the offending should be condemned.

Chol pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery, six robberies, two counts of recklessly causing serious injury, four counts of criminal damage and one count of attempted robbery.

Two child offenders are yet to be dealt with in the Childrens' Court and other members of Chol's group have not been identified, the court heard.


Dodgy doctors still working in Qld.

DOCTORS continue to work in Queensland public hospitals while unregistered or improperly credentialed, seven years after wide-ranging changes were recommended.

A Health Quality and Complaints Commission report, released this week, identified recurring and system-wide issues within Queensland Health's doctor employment, credentialing and management.

While no patient harm was identified and improvement was "apparent", the HQCC found some breaches had existed for months and one case took an "unacceptable" three years to identify.

The "Dr Right" report found inadequate leadership and a culture of secrecy continued to cause problems, with regional hospitals more likely to face significant safety and quality challenges.

It identified three key areas of concern, including compliance problems, incorrect management and a negative department-wide culture that contributed to ongoing problems.

Former Bundaberg Base Hospital surgeon Jayant Patel was employed by Queensland Health without proper credential checks and was later jailed for the manslaughter of three people and grievous bodily harm of a fourth.

The scandal sparked the creation of the HQCC to oversee complaints and monitoring.

The HQCC decided on the far-reaching credentialing investigation after a 2009 report on an Emerald Hospital doctor.

Commissioner adjunct Professor Russell Stitz said the latest report found one in every 100 doctors may not have been appropriately credentialed as at June 30 last year.

"Patients trust doctors with their lives so they need to be sure their care is provided by the right doctor, with the right skills, doing the right tasks, with the right support, in the right place," he said.

The report made eight recommendations for improvement and will give Queensland Health six weeks to agree on an action plan .


Thousands of Queensland public servants face losing their jobs as Newman Government tightens its belt

THOUSANDS of Queensland public servants face losing their jobs as the Newman Government tightens its belt to boost the state's bottom line.

Public service sources said a climate of fear now surrounded workers on temporary contracts, with a freeze on extensions meaning many whose contracts expired after the March 24 poll are set to join the ranks of the unemployed.

In a cruel twist, many "temporary" contracts were extended for years on end under the previous Labor government, meaning some workers lost jobs they had held for more than a decade.

One woman, who has worked for the same department for two years, was told in February that her position would soon be advertised permanently and she could apply, only to learn this month that her contract would not be renewed.

"I feel betrayed by a department and a system where I have worked so hard and given my absolute best," she said.

Public sector union Together will rally on Tuesday against the changes, with secretary Alex Scott accusing the Government of using a "blunt instrument" to force workers into unemployment.

While the hiring freeze covers only non-frontline staff, there are concerns the Newman Government is revising the definition of frontline so more contracts can be chopped.

The Government could not say how many jobs were affected but up to 20 per cent of the public service is employed on contracts, or up to 40,000 people.

Non-frontline recruitment has also halted even if interviews had already occurred, transfers have been frozen and the roles of those on secondment to higher duties will not be extended unless in exceptional circumstances.

Premier Campbell Newman made a pre-election promise to increase the percentage of permanent public servants while reducing reliance on long-term temporary contracts.

He wasted no time after his landslide win, ordering departmental bosses to sever contracts last month, four days after taking office.

Mr Scott said: "We're not challenging the Government's mandate . . . but we think the process that is currently being used is causing maximum pain to the workers with minimum gain to the Government."

In an email to staff on April 11, Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson acknowledged the so-called Establishment Management Program would be "challenging" and urged those who needed help "coping" to contact their managers.

The Queensland Public Service Commission, which is overseeing the freeze, last night could not detail how many people were affected, saying in a statement that each department held its own figures.


Government loan scheme to bite sharks

Lending taxpayers' money to people who are hopeless risks seems a good way to blow the money concerned

THE State Government is setting up shop to take on loan sharks preying on disadvantaged Victorians.

Under the new Good Money initiative to be launched today, "financially excluded" Victorians otherwise at the mercy of fringe and payday lenders can gain no-interest loans and financial advice.

The first one-stop financial shop will be opened in Geelong today to provide short-term loans of up to $1200, financial counselling and other community services to more than 1000 people.

Without the program, those who do not qualify for credit face borrowing from pawnbrokers and payday lenders who charge up to 1542 per cent interest a year - meaning a $5000 loan over 22 weeks would cost more than $32,000.

Based on the Good Shepherd Microfinance model, the Good Money program will administer the No Interest Loans Scheme where families and individuals on low incomes with concession cards can gain credit free of interest and charges to buy essential household items, and saving accounts.

As well as a $4.3 million state contribution, the program has the backing of National Australia Bank which has contributed $3.5 million, and Good Shepherd Microfinance.

Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge said the program would help disadvantaged Victorians get financial support.

Having been a single mother on a pension unable to gain a bank loan for a new fridge, Valda Johnson, 44, knows how important such help is.

Forced to rent a fridge at a high cost because the only other option was a pawnshop, she was saved when Uniting Care arranged for a short-term loan and financial counselling.

"It (the pawnbroker loan) was nearly 20 per cent ... you are actually paying double what you borrow from them and I couldn't afford their loan payment of $1000," Ms Johnson said.


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