Friday, July 20, 2012

Blackman blacklisted by horse name censors

One of Australia's top trainers has been ordered to change the name of one of his young racehorses.  Hall of Fame trainer David Hayes has been told two-year-old filly Blackman cannot keep her original name.

The filly, whose father is Excellent Art, was named after renowned Australian artist Charles Blackman.

But the change was ordered by Racing Information Services Australia (RISA), which controls the registration and naming of racehorses, after it received one complaint.

"Certainly the name itself is a surname and certainly respected the connection back to the artist Charles Blackman after which it was named," RISA spokesman Myles Foreman said.

"But (RISA) also found that where the name is used without the known context back to a surname, it could be construed as being offensive which is where ultimately the complaint started.

"Through a consultative process what we've landed at is retaining the original part of the name but placed Lady in front of it so that it is now known as Lady Blackman."

Mr Foreman said requests to change inappropriate names were rare.

"I think probably on average a name would be changed where a complaint has been raised about once a year, and we name around 13,000 names a year."

Hayes was not available for comment but he has been quoted as saying "it's the most ridiculous thing, the biggest reaction I've ever seen".

His view is shared by Sydney trainer David Payne.  "I think it's crazy," he said.  "What happens if you call a horse Whiteman? Would you have to change the name as well? It's just ridiculous."

Payne said he was forced to change the name of a horse in his native South Africa.  "One of my clients called it Islam and we had to change the name, but I think that's more serious than Blackman."

Peter Jurkovsky from the Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association of Victoria says the case highlights the perils of naming. "In the context of how the horse was named in particular, I think that is the most disappointing aspect," he said.

"The horse is by a stallion called Excellent Art and it was named after a famous painter and therefore in the context it is Blackman, not black man.

"It was one complaint. We find that a little bit incongruous. "But having had a look at the rules again, they are fairly clear that the registerer can do whatever they please and whatever they deem necessary under the rules."


Unqualified child safety workers forced to deal with at-risk children

I think a social work degree is usually more a hindrance than a help so am not too concerned about this

A BURN and churn of stressed-out Queensland child safety workers has left unskilled officers taking a frontline role in caring for vulnerable children.

With more Queensland children in state care than inmates in prison cells, it's been revealed many child safety workers have no formal qualifications in caring for disturbed children or communicating with dysfunctional families.

PeakCare, an umbrella group for child protection services, says hundreds of social workers have fled the sector because of the stress, and poor decisions are being made which can rip apart families.

PeakCare, representing more than 580 organisations, will use the newly created Queensland child protection inquiry to push for mandatory qualifications for key child safety personnel.

It will also use a landmark British childcare study to pressure a "process-driven" bureaucracy to allow a more flexible approach to child safety, with a view to reducing the number of children removed from families."

It is an extraordinarily stressful job and the turnover of staff has just been immense in recent years," PeakCare executive director Lindsay Wegener said.  "Many social workers have just left the area altogether."

The disappearance of social workers from the field coincides with a worrying rise in children being removed from families.

The child protection inquiry revealed on Tuesday there were 7602 children in some form of out-of-home care, a jump from 5972 in 2000. By contrast, there are 5527 inmates in Queensland prisons.

Mr Wegener said governments had been left with little choice but to fill frontline positions with unqualified workers. Social workers have historically been the preferred professional group to work in the field of child protection.   "Now many no longer want to work for the department," Mr Wegener said.

Many of the former teachers, police and nurses hired over the past decade as youth workers and residential care officers had brought a valuable skills base to the sector, Mr Wegener said.

He said the Government would argue that newly recruited child safety officers had tertiary qualifications.

"The point is that for some time, it has been unlikely that their qualification will be a social work degree or even a human services or psychology degree," he said.  "It is more likely to be a criminology degree, teaching degree or some other degree."

A landmark British study on child protection, the Munro review by Professor Eileen Munro, highlighted the need for the skilled social workers to be at the frontline of child protection.

"Experienced social workers should be kept on the frontline even when they become managers so that their experience and skills are not lost," the Munro review recommends. "The expertise and status of the social work profession should be improved with continual professional development that focuses on the skills needed in child protection."

In the Queensland inquiry, Commissioner Tim Carmody has painted a disturbing picture of the state's most vulnerable.

Katherine McMillan, Senior Counsel assisting at the inquiry, has made it clear staffing will be a crucial area for examination at the 10-month inquiry.

But Ms McMillan said the most "vexed question" the inquiry faced was whether and how a child assessed as an unacceptable risk could be kept safely in their home.


Legal system out of touch with social media

LAWS designed to protect an accused person's right to a fair trial are out of touch and in need of reform, journalism lecturer Catharine Lumby said, referring to comments on social media after the arrest of the alleged killer of teenager Thomas Kelly yesterday.

Within hours of the charging of Kieran Loveridge, Twitter and Facebook users had published his photo and prejudicial comments about him.

Such publication had a "very high potential to interfere with the administration of justice", warned media lawyer Mark Polden, as it could influence witnesses in their identification and might also impact on future jurors should the case go to trial.

The difficulty was enforcing the laws prohibiting such publication and holding the websites responsible because they often did not have a real presence in Australia which put them beyond the reach of injunctions by Australian courts, he said.

But technology lawyer Philip Argy said the case differed little from comment in traditional media at the time of the Chamberlain case, it was merely the technology which had changed.

He said the potential of social media to have an impact on a trial might be exaggerated, saying: "My gut instinct is we haven't yet reached the stage where the ordinary person who sits in a jury would have been influenced by what's on social media because they are unlikely to follow the Twitter feed."

But, he warned, reporting by traditional media of trends on social media might bring the problematic publication to the attention of jurors and worsen the problem.

Dr Lumby said the law was behind in its understanding of technology and society. "The law has a fantasy … of being able to tell people what to do and control people. It's not how the world works any more … the law needs to catch up with society."

David Vaile from the cyberspace law and policy centre at the University of NSW said regulators and lawyers had failed to take early action against social media, and in previous cases they had only been warned, rather than hit with heavy penalties.

In England, attempts to use injunctions to restrain publication of stories about celebrities deemed to breach their privacy largely failed because of the difficulty of restraining social media. In NSW, the courts recently recognised the difficulty in controlling publication on the internet in media beyond the websites of traditional media companies.

Mr Vaile said the ability to enforce current laws which prevent comment on matters which are sub judice was questionable, but what was needed was a change of culture and emphasis on ethics.

In Australia, tweets posted on the social networking site Twitter have become the basis for defamation cases.

Liberal Party pollsters Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor are suing federal Labor MP Mike Kelly for defamation over a tweet in which he accused their campaign consulting firm of push polling.

Joshua Meggitt, a man wrongly named as the author of a hate blog, is now suing Twitter.


S. Aust.: More hospital beds won't fix Flinders Medical Centre's hold-ups, say experts

POOR hospital management rather than a lack of beds is to blame for ramping at Flinders Medical Centre, a report into ambulance queueing has found.

Dr Mark Monaghan's report, released yesterday, found the state's hospital system was ailing under outdated patient flow processes.

His report contains 52 recommendations, including that Flinders immediately establish a temporary supervised "holding bay" of stable, assessed emergency department patients who were ready to be admitted.

A long-term response must then be established at the site within six months.

Health Minister John Hill admitted ramping had occurred at Flinders, after earlier denying this was the case.

The Monaghan report found it was "inappropriate and unreasonable to recommend that (Flinders emergency department) cease their current practice" of ramping.  It also found changes must be developed by clinicians and management locally at each site.

The Australian Medical Association and nursing union said staff must be supported to make changes because all hospitals were operating above capacity.

The report found access to care was constrained at Flinders and other hospitals because senior clinicians were not available at all times, holding up surgery and patient discharge.

It also found that the $111 million previously poured into patient flow improvements under the department's former chief achieved "very little improvement".

Speaking by video link from Western Australia, where he has led similar reform, Dr Monaghan said extra beds would not fix the problem at Flinders.  "Unless you get very good processes, adding beds on to those inefficient processes doesn't actually get you a lot," he said.

Mr Hill said the hospital must now determine how to use existing beds, resources and staff in the most productive way.

Opposition health spokesman Martin Hamilton-Smith said the report was damning.  "The report outlines a litany of ED process issues which Labor should have fixed over the last 10 years," he said.

AMA state president Peter Sharley said many questions remained unanswered, but solutions were needed immediately to alleviate overcrowding.  "Every public hospital is feeling the same pressures," he said.


1 comment:

Paul said...

"Holding bay". Great. We've already done that. Admitted patients are shoved into places like Radiology or Endoscopy suites with casual nurses and overworked Resident doctors. The care is haphazard at best, but at least they are out of sight, and the Minister can say "we have processes in place...". Most management decisions in public hospitals are really about not embarrassing the Honourable Member.