Thursday, July 12, 2012

More official abuse of "child welfare" provisions

You can be an Aboriginal child who is badly abused and neglected by your parents and the  authorities will do nothing.  But get FAT and that is another matter.  Obesity is mostly genetic so this is punishing people for something over which they have little control.  And harassing people about it just makes it worse. People may slim down for a while but in well over 90% of the cases they will eventually put it all back on again -- and more

VICTORIAN welfare authorities have begun using extreme obesity as a reason to support children being separated from their parents - and experts predict more cases as the population gets fatter.

The Department of Human Services has cited obesity in at least two child protection court cases this year.

One case involved a pre-teenage boy who weighed 110 kilograms and the other a teenage girl whose waist circumference of 169 centimetres was greater than her height. The department would not reveal the exact number of cases.

Associate Professor John Dixon, of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, said he expected more such cases, but that they would not become common.

"I would not want parents out there with overweight or obese children to in any way feel that it's through their negligence that we have a growing obesity issue in children today," Associate Professor Dixon said.

"That would be very wrong indeed … This is a community problem, an Australia-wide, a global problem that we're not addressing very well at the moment.

"We shouldn't be blaming the parents for our environment. The parents and the children who are obese are really victims of the environment."

In the teenage girl's case, experts stressed to the department that her weight problem needed urgent attention.

She had gained 30 kilograms in 18 months and was described by a Children's Court magistrate as "incredibly unhealthy … To hear that her waist measurement is greater than her height is so concerning."

The court was told it would be impossible for her to reduce her weight to a healthy range within a year and a more realistic goal was to lose 15 to 20 kilograms and keep it off. Doctors had concluded that the weight gain was not genetic and had to have come from eating. [Of course it comes from eating   --but it is the genetics that causes the overeating]

The girl's mother told the court that she wanted her daughter returned home or placed in residential care. The department said foster care was not an option because there were no families available who could help with her needs.

The magistrate ordered the girl remain legally in the care of the state. She and her mother had had a breakdown in their relationship that had led to the girl not living at home.

In the case of the pre-teenage boy who weighed 110 kilograms, another magistrate ordered that he be removed from his mother's care and put into a "therapeutic setting".

The boy had been referred for medical intervention but it had no effect and he had been sitting in his room, eating and inactive.

The department said it could not work with the boy's mother until he was removed from her care.

A spokesman for the department told The Age that obesity was not of itself grounds for child protection workers to become involved with a family.

But he said "obesity may be a symptom of other issues that could place a child at risk or harm that would warrant child-protection involvement".

Some of Victoria's most obese children are referred to the Weight Management Clinic at the Royal Children's Hospital.

But The Age understands that the clinic is struggling with a lack of resources to deal with families where there are several obese children who need intervention.

Non-urgent referrals to the clinic face a wait of between nine months and a year, but the clinic warns that in some cases, the delay could be longer. A smaller clinic operates at Melton.

Associate Professor Dixon said there were many determinants of obesity in children and adolescents but parental neglect was not usually considered to be one. "Severely obese adolescents and their parents are under enormous stress and there are often other issues in the family," he said.

"It wouldn't only be obesity that would lead to a child being removed."

He said any cases where extremely obese children were removed from their families should be seen as rare.

Associate Professor Tim Gill, of Sydney University's Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating, said if the only reason for removing a child from their parents was weight, it was not appropriate.

"There are a whole range of issues which drive weight gain, particularly in children," Associate Professor Gill said.

"We are going to see more children in that [extreme] weight category and in some ways, yes, it's a failure of parents, but it also reflects a failure of society - that we could create a circumstance that would allow and encourage kids to overeat and under-exercise to such an extent that they get to that weight."


Provocation defence  gets Korean man off murder charge

Who's the galoot in the hat? You might ask.  It's actually the trial lawyer, Winston Terracini, who got the Korean guy off the hook

A MAN who caught his wife in bed with his close friend has been found not guilty of murder on the grounds of provocation.

Joachim Won came home from work sick in May 2010 to find his 44-year-old wife, Anna, having sex with his friend Hyung Mo Lee.  Won, then 56, went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and stabbed Mr Lee, 48, seven times, allegedly shouting "you must die" or "he must die".

A NSW Supreme Court jury took less than an hour to return a verdict of not guilty to murder. Won was automatically found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Won was overcome with emotion when the verdict was delivered yesterday.

Won's barrister, Winston Terracini, SC, said: "It's a very satisfying result and Mr Won, through his legal representatives, had offered to plead guilty to manslaughter from the very beginning but the Crown rejected it."

Mr Terracini had told the jury his client was acting under "provocation", in that he was so shocked by what he saw he lost self-control.

The jury was asked to decide if the act of finding a spouse in bed with someone else could have induced an ordinary person in the position of Won to have so far lost self-control as to have formed an intent to kill, or to inflict grievous bodily harm.

The case is the latest to focus public attention on the law of provocation, which is the subject of an inquiry by the NSW Parliament. The inquiry began last month following the case of Chamanjot Singh, who was given a six-year jail sentence for slitting his wife's throat with a box cutter.

In May, Singh was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder after a jury accepted his claim that he had been provoked by a stream of verbal abuse from Manpreet Kaur, 29, including an alleged threat that she would have him deported.

Mr Terracini said the principle of provocation had been seen as valid since the 19th century.

Reacting to the verdict, the victims' advocate Howard Brown said cases where provocation is argued should be left to judges, not juries.

The defence of provocation was abolished in Tasmania in 2003 and Victoria in 2005, following a recommendation by the Victorian Law Reform Commission which found the law "partly legitimates killings committed in anger".


I am going to be all multicultural here and note that, when normally great  Asian patience is pushed beyond its breaking point, the result is often explosive.  The man "runs amok", as they say in Malaysia.  So I think that on multicultural grounds at least, the defence of provocation should remain available,  with juries in the best position to sort out the claims in particular cases,  as they did above

Comet man could lose his job

Panic-stricken bureaucracies do very often cut the wrong things

A WORLD-RENOWNED NSW astronomer, who has discovered more than 400 comets and asteroids, may be forced to abandon his work searching the night sky for objects on a potential collision course with Earth.

Rob McNaught has lost the NASA funding he relies on as the only astronomer in the southern hemisphere working on a survey to find and track near-Earth objects and possibly help prevent catastrophic collisions.

The Australian National University has stepped in to temporarily support Mr McNaught's position, but has told the Herald long-term funding needed to keep the work going beyond the end of this year is "not going to come from the university".

Mr McNaught's record working in the Uppsala Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory, near Coonabarabran in northern NSW, is formidable.

Since 1987, he has discovered 70 comets, more than twice as many as any other astronomer in history.

According to Mr McNaught, the Siding Spring Survey, the only project observing near-Earth objects in the southern hemisphere, "get[s] a chance to see objects that the northern hemisphere surveys can't research".

Since 2004, the survey has discovered 412 near-Earth objects, including 80 classified as a potential hazard because they have a diameter of between 100 and 150 metres and an orbit that comes within 7.5 million kilometres of the Earth's orbit.

A fellow astronomer at Siding Spring, Peter Poulos, describes his friend as "the guardian of all of us, in many ways".

"He doesn't wear a uniform or a cape, but in the end he's the hero in the movie. He's the scientist that will discover the bad thing heading our way."

Mr McNaught has been "extraordinarily successful", said the head of ANU's school of astronomy and astrophysics, Harvey Butcher. "We think he's just wonderful … one of the best in the world. This is work that very much needs to be done."

But Professor Butcher said without a new, more powerful telescope and better facilities likely to cost "a couple of million dollars", there is "no clear channel of finance" to continue it.

Mr McNaught said he had appealed to the Minister for Science and Research, Chris Evans, and the Minister for Industry and Innovation, Greg Combet, to fund the program.

"There is no reason why NASA should fund every space program in the world," he said.


Fossil fuel (gas) better than "renewable" wood?

Nobody expects Greenies to be consistent, I guess

Wood heaters will be banned in the new residential suburbs of the Molonglo Valley, with the government citing threats to air quality in the large new development.

The wood heaters will be prohibited in Coombs and all future suburbs in Molonglo Valley, but the existing suburb of Wright will be exempt.

The decision follows the release of the annual Air Quality Report for 2011, which identifies domestic wood heaters as the biggest source of air pollution in the ACT.

Wood heaters are already banned in Dunlop and East O'Malley, according to Environment Minister Simon Corbell.

"We know that wood smoke can be a problem in the ACT which is why the Government recently launched the "Burn Right Tonight" campaign to raise the public awareness of correct wood heater operation," he said.

The air quality report identified four breaches of air quality standards in the colder months of May and July last year, but Mr Corbell said the report highlighted an excellent overall quality of air in Canberra.

Greens environment spokesman Shane Rattenbury welcomed the government's decision to ban wood heaters in the Molonglo Valley.

But Mr Rattenbury described it as a first step, and urged the government to do more to tackle wood heater pollution caused in the ACT.

"The Government knows that wood smoke pollution has a detrimental impact on people's health and Canberra's environment, which is why it needs to go further than it has,' Mr Rattenbury said.

"We need to take action on wood smoke all parts of Canberra, not just in the new Molonglo developments. Tuggeranong Valley remains an area of particular concern," he said.

The government and ActewAGL currently run a wood heater replacement program that gives residents a rebate of up to $800 to make the switch to gas flued systems.

The Greens have proposed improvements to the buy back program alongside legislation that would introduce stricter efficiency and emissions standards for wood heaters in the ACT.

Mr Rattenbury said the Greens had also proposed ways of better enforcing wood heater use, and ways to phase out older, dirtier wood heaters.


1 comment:

Paul said...

There is more and more obesity around, and the science of "bariatrics" has now become established in the hospitals because of the sheer difficulty of managing the large numbers of morbidly obese people now turning up incapacitated. That said, I'm more concerned that Government (via a public agency) has been able to take this kind of power on itself without warning and without consent. Seems the Safety Lesbians plan on being our Lords and Masters.