Sunday, May 27, 2012

Children to be given a taste of danger at new childcare centre

CHILDREN would be given trees to climb in, a creek to explore and material to build cubby houses under proposals for a new childcare centre and kindergarten which aims to buck the trend of wrapping them in cotton wool.

The proposal by C&K, which runs a string of childcare centres, comes as the organisation dedicates an entire weekend conference to the topic of "children's right to childhood" and the consequences of risk aversion.

International speakers, including New York's Lenore Skenazy who was dubbed America's worst mum after she let her nine-year-old travel by himself on the subway, will address the C&K early childhood annual conference at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

C&K chief executive Barrie Elvish said that over the past decade there appeared to be an increasing emphasis "on creating what the regulators and the governments like to say is safe environments for children to play in".

"By making it too safe we are actually not giving children the opportunity to build resilience," he said.

"What C&K is doing about it, apart from this conference . . . we have just purchased part of the old Ithaca TAFE at Ashgrove and we intend creating an outdoor environment which challenges not just the existing regulations and future regulations, but also the perceptions of what might be safe and unsafe environments for children.

"We are not talking about blindfold bungy jumps.

"We are talking about the ability for a child to learn through mistakes and a child to learn through failure - a child to learn if you do jump off something too high it might hurt you when you land."

Mr Elvish said it was part of a risk-benefit, rather than just risk, approach championed by conference keynote speaker Tim Gill, who helped change the way the United Kingdom Government viewed playground risk.

Yesterday Mr Gill said the journey to being a capable adult involved "a few bumps and scrapes and knocks".


Australia's chief climate commissioner Tim Flannery calls for the removal of toxic teeth from dead people

Mercury in teeth is bad but mercury in CFL light bulbs is OK??

CLIMATE change campaigner Tim Flannery says mercury tooth fillings should be removed from corpses before they are cremated.

The practice should be made law, Australia's chief climate commissioner said.

"You don't want to poison people when you are cremated," Prof Flannery said.  "No one would want that."

Addressing the Australian Medical Association's national conference in Melbourne yesterday, he said an awareness campaign was needed.

"I think people would be comfortable with removing the fillings, it is just a matter of awareness," he said.

Prof Flannery said undertakers should be required to remove the fillings and families also could request it.

"You just need a pair of pliers," he said.  "It is a $2 solution."

He said the mercury in teeth fillings was not a problem in people alive because it was not in a methylated form.

"For mercury to become dangerous, it has to get into the atmosphere, which happens when we are cremated, then blow over the oceans (and) go into the ocean depths, where there is very low oxygen, and then transform by bacteria into a methylated form of mercury," Prof Flannery said.

"This is then ingested by fish and the fish get put on the dinner plate."

He said he had not raised the issue with the Federal Government, but he felt it was significant and could be dealt with easily.

While talking about health and environment at the AMA conference, he also raised concerns about a lack of readiness for extreme weather events.

Prof Flannery said deaths from heat were increasing and the community needed to be better educated about the health risks.

"Deaths from heat is a silent killer that is increasing around the world," he said.  "The most vulnerable in our community are most at risk."

Prof Flannery said the loss of respect for science in the climate debate had been "one of the most damaging aspects".


Threat to Victorian kindergartens

A VICTORIAN preschool was forced to close its popular three-year-old kindergarten because the Federal Government did not fully consider the consequences of its new childcare standards, management claims.

Templeton Orchards Preschool in Wantirna says its three-year-old kinder service is a casualty of Labor's National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education.

New regulations will be introduced nationally from next year.

And a survey of kindergartens in Victoria has found more would close or reduce services for three-year-olds because of the agreement.

On Tuesday a lobby group representing thousands of Victorian families will meet the Minister for Early Childhood Peter Garrett and the Federal Minister for Childcare Kate Ellis.

Kindergarten Parents Victoria said it was hoping to get a better deal for Victorian families at the meeting. Chief executive Emma King said she wanted a sensible, staged implementation because Victoria's kindergarten system was unique and valued by many.

Templeton Orchards Preschool vice-president Lelania Currie said its service for three-year-olds was closed because it could not get staff.

"Our teacher and assistant resigned at the end of last year," Mrs Currie said.  "It was because of the uncertainty about their jobs."

She said her preschool had offered the program for 20 years: "The logistics of what the government wants . . . leaves no time or staff for a three-year-old program."

The agreement provides 15 hours of kinder for four-year-olds every week - a move that has wide support - but experts say putting it in place will have the most impact in Victoria because of unique circumstances and they want a flexible timeline.

But Mr Garrett - who has previously threatened to withhold almost $100 million in funding if the State Government failed to stick to the agreement signed in 2008 - said there was a large degree of flexibility under the agreement with the states: "I am yet to see compelling evidence from the Victorian Government as to why they need more time to implement this commitment, or why three-year-old kinder would need to be cut as a result of the Universal Access agreement."

Mr Garrett said the Gillard Government was providing a major boost in funding to help Victoria achieve universal access, of $210 million over five years.

Victoria is the only state to offer a kindergarten for three-year-olds, a service that is fully funded by parents.

It has also one of the highest rates of four-year-olds attending kindergarten - 95.2 per cent - but Victorian Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development, Wendy Lovell, says most services are at capacity.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the Government's implementation of childcare reforms had been botched.


Greek crisis sees new wave of migrants to Australia

The face of Australia's Greek community is rapidly changing because of the economic crisis crippling Greece.

Immigration statistics show around 280 expatriates - mostly families and skilled migrants - have come back to Australia over the past year but the total number of Greek citizens in Australia is expected to be higher, with many more here on holidays.

The Honorary Consul for Greece in the Northern Territory John Anictomatis says there has been a huge influx of new Greeks in Darwin.

"For the last six months, the figures show that on average about 10 new arrivals a week are coming back to Darwin, whether it's family groups or people coming back on their own before they bring their families back to Australia," he said.

Drossos Tavlarios, 27, came to Darwin from his home on a Greek island after being unable to get work.  He says he is one of the lucky ones.  "Everything, everything is okay, very nice in Darwin," he said.

Mr Anictomatis says he gets desperate calls from Greece every week.  "They're mainly desperate about employment, their children's future," he said.

The influx to the Top End has prompted Territory Government minister Kon Vatskalis to call on the Federal Government to consider special working visas for Greeks who have been affected by the economic crisis.

Mr Vatskalis says the Territory is set to face a major skills shortage when a major gas project starts.  He says it makes sense to bring Greeks over on working visas to help fill the gap. "We're talking about an exodus of people from the industry now because they are going to get well paid jobs with Inpex," he said.  "How are we going to replace these people? We can't replace them out of nothing."

Meanwhile, the British government is drawing up emergency immigration controls to combat any surge in economic migrants from Greece and other European Union countries if the euro collapses.

Interior minister Theresa May has told a UK newspaper that it is right for Britain to do some contingency planning, but did not say what steps could be applied.

An increasing perception that Greece or other debt-laden countries might have to leave the eurozone has brought concerns that millions could lose their jobs and go abroad in search of work.


No comments: