Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Incompetent Canberra police

A Civic nightclub owner has described a single punch assault outside his venue as "sickening” and "brutal”, while expressing surprise at how long it took police to go public.

Police were still hunting for the attacker on Tuesday, almost a month after he fractured a man’s skull and caused bleeding to his brain outside Academy on Bunda Street.

Confronting CCTV footage shows the man appearing to argue with a group outside the club, before the victim appears to walk away. The man follows and levels him with one forceful punch. The victim was knocked down and smashed his head on the pavement, leaving him unconscious and with serious injuries.

Despite the attack occurring on April 21, police only notified the public on Monday, when they released images in a bid to track down further witnesses.

Academy nightclub owner Frank Condi condemned the violence said the offender should face the consequences of his actions.

"When you see an attack like other situations it could turn into an all-in brawl," he said.

Staff handed over CCTV footage of the incident within 24 hours and Mr Condi said he was "very surprised" police waited so long to publicise the attack and call for witnesses.

"Having said that, I wasn't there on the evening and I didn't see what happened and I don't know police procedures," he said.

His condemnation of the attack was echoed by the ACT’s Victims of Crime Commissioner, John Hinchey, who said reforms were needed, including trading-hours restrictions, before a young Canberran was killed.

"I’m worried that one day we’re going to find a young man dead because of these assaults in Civic late at night,” he said.

Police are yet to arrest the man, and CCTV vision appears to show the man was allowed to leave the scene. Mr Hinchey said that was a real concern.

But Mr Condi defended the actions of the nightclub's security guards, who were interviewed by police, saying one of the staff immediately rushed over to help the victim when he hit the ground.

"If there's ever an altercation we try and get in there and help," Mr Condi said. "Though we're very limited in what we can do. We have a no-violence policy and anything we see we try to dissolve right away."

Staff would review the venue's security procedures to prevent a similar incident from happening in future, Mr Condi said.

"Since it's been public we've posted a link to the police story on our Facebook page and we've been discussing with investigators whether we put signs up of the wanted man inside the club," he said.

"We're just trying to get as much information as we can."

Mr Condi said it was difficult to say whether alcohol-related violence had spiked in the city's centre in recent years, as he hadn't noticed a rise in incidents. He said responsibility for alcohol-related violence rested on both licensed venues and individuals.

"Obviously as a venue we have to make sure people don't get too intoxicated, because we don't want that kind of violence in the venue," he said.

 Police Minister Simon Corbell declined to say when he was made aware of the April 21 incident. A spokesman said Mr Corbell would not comment on the decision by investigators not to release information to the public for nearly a month and declined to answer questions about what sort of crimes he was briefed on by ACT Policing.

In a statement, Mr Corbell said he was confident police were driving reductions in offence rates.

"Assault offences in the last quarter, when compared to the same time last year, show a decrease of 20 per cent," he said.

"Alcohol-related crime continues to place an unnecessary financial, social and health burden on the community and is an ongoing priority for ACT Policing."

Mr Corbell said the summer period saw a 39 per cent decrease in alcohol-related violence in the ACT compared with the previous year as well as a 22 per cent decrease in alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.


Tony Abbott pulls out of Geelong university appearance ahead of planned protests

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has cancelled a visit to Deakin University’s Geelong campus with Victorian Premier Denis Napthine on Wednesday, an event protesters were targeting.

A collection of different community groups had planned to protest against Mr Abbott and his first budget that has cut billions from the state budget and made dramatic changes to cost-of-living.

Extra security had been arranged for the event at the Waurn Ponds campus in the wake of a series of anti-government protests and backlash against the budget in the city.

Mr Abbott’s office on Tuesday afternoon cancelled the event with Deakin University that was to celebrate the work of Carbon Nexus, which had received some federal funds in the past.

The event had been confirmed by the Prime Minister’s office earlier in the day.

A federal source said the decision to cancel the visit to Geelong had nothing to do with what has been an at-times frosty relationship between Mr Abbott and Dr Napthine in recent months.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne said on Tuesday night that the event was cancelled on the advice of the Australian Federal Police, who said that "they were concerned about the safety particularly of innocent bystanders".

"So the Prime Minister made the decision, and his office, that it would be wiser to not go and create that tumult at Deakin University so students can get on with their studies unmolested by the Socialist Alternative, which seems quite intent on shutting down democracy in Australia," he told ABC TV's Lateline program.

But National Union of Students president Deanna Taylor said on Wednesday that Mr Abbott must explain why he was worried about facing students and answering their questions.

"I think the Prime Minister and his ministers are being a bit cowardly and trying to portray students as though they’re violent rabble-rousers who are out to cause trouble, which isn’t the case at all," she said.

"They’re trying to make us sound like spoiled little brats who don't know how good we've got it. They have a very clear agenda."

Students at universities across Australia have targeted prominent Liberal figures who have appeared on campus since the federal budget was handed down last week and will hold a national day of action on Wednesday against the changes to higher education.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was attacked at Sydney University on Friday and heckled later that day at an event at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Former frontbencher Sophie Mirabella was also shouted down during a lecture at the University of Melbourne on Monday.

But Ms Taylor says students are so incensed by the proposed changes they are doing what they can to get their point across.

"Not all students have access to the corridors of power and can't go and lobby politicians," she said. "For a lot of students who are disenfranchised, protesting and demonstrating is really their only way of voicing their discontent."

Ms Taylor said an expected 2000-strong rally in Melbourne would be the nation's biggest, but thousands more would rally across the country in all capital cities except Darwin.

She said government plans to deregulate fees would burden students with debt for 30-40 years and  hinder them from buying a house or car.

"We shouldn't basically be penalising people for getting a higher education," she said.

Despite the cancellation of the Deakin University event, it is understood Mr Abbott and Dr Napthine are still scheduled to see each other on Wednesday night in Melbourne.

Dr Napthine has been critical of the federal budget and has called for an urgent meeting of all government leaders.

Victoria is facing up to a $20 billion cut to health and education funding over the next ten years with changes to national partnership funding set to impacting Victoria from July 1.

Dr Napthine has been angered by Canberra’s decision to allow Holden and Toyota to pull out of manufacturing operations in Australia, as well as at the refusal to assist fruit processor SPC.

Mr Abbott will still attend an event in Victoria on Wednesday as he continues to sell what has been a horror first budget for the Coalition, delivering a big hit in the Prime Minister's popularity in Victoria in the Fairfax Nielsen polls.

Mr Abbott last week conceded "there was some things in the Budget that the premiers liked – there were other things in the Budget that the premiers would prefer weren’t there"  but has stressed the federal government would still look to work constructively with the states.

However, Mr Abbott refused to meet with state premiers collectively over the weekend in Sydney to discuss the fall out from the budget.

With Mr Abbott’s popularity in Victoria the lowest in the country, Monday's Age/Nielsen poll showed the Coalition trailing 61-39 in the state, questions have also been raised about whether it is good for Dr Napthine to be seen with Mr Abbott, especially in a marginal seat, ahead of the November state poll.

Geelong Trades Hall secretary Tim Gooden said a community protest had been organised, including representatives from unions, students, the Greens, ALP, people from Men’s Sheds, pensioners and disability groups.

Earlier the university would not comment on whether there would be a strong security presence at the Waurn Ponds campus, but Victoria police are aware of protests and said there would be ‘‘adequate police’’ there to ensure safety.

On Tuesday, Dr Napthine said he did not back a broadening or increase to the GST. He also said he had received a letter from the PM conceding that there were budget impacts that would affect Victoria from July 1, with the state up to $200 million worse.


No more non-religious chaplains

Last week's budget delivered a double blow to youth welfare worker Joanne Homsi. For the past 18 months, Ms Homsi has worked in two high schools in the St George and Sutherland area, supporting students with drug and alcohol issues, low confidence, family problems and suicidal thoughts.

As well as talking with students, she has connected them to mental health centres, remedial learning programs and other services.

Ms Homsi loves the job, and the schools value her work. But in December she will be looking for a new job - and there will not be a safety net to catch her if she cannot find one. Because she is under 30, she would have to wait six months before she can receive any unemployment benefits under tough new rules for young job seekers.

Ms Homsi's three-days-a-week position was funded by the federal government's National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program. The government is continuing the program, at a cost of $245 million over five years, but will remove the option for schools to hire a non-religious welfare worker.

The 623 schools that made this choice will have to hire a chaplain or go without. "I'm very saddened and concerned about the change to the program," she said.

School chaplains have a role to play, but not everywhere, she said. She noted St George is a multicultural area where Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims, Buddhists, Greek Orthodox and non-religious students study together. "These schools had a choice between a chaplain or a youth worker and they chose to have a youth worker," she said.

"I've been available to everyone regardless of their religion or culture. I've provided students with a non-judgmental approach to very sensitive issues and that has been beneficial to everyone."

Parliamentary Secretary for Education Scott Ryan said the government is restoring the scheme to its original vision after Labor expanded it to include student welfare workers in 2011. "The Coalition was critical of Labor watering down the focus on chaplains when the original chaplaincy program expired," Senator Ryan said. "Student welfare services are an important part of school communities and are rightly provided by, and the responsibility of, the states in public schools and other schools and systems in their respective schools."

Australian Council of State School Organisations president Peter Garrigan said: "The chaplaincy program in its entirety should have been scrapped and the money given to provide … services like psychologists, speech pathologists or dentists. But if the program has to operate there should be a non-religious option."


University of Sydney study rules out link between vaccination and autism

WHETHER or not to vaccinate children has sparked fiery debate among parents for decades.  Many parents feel immunisation is unnatural and there are prevalent fears about a link between vaccination and autism.

But a new report led by the University of Sydney appears to have settled the argument.

A review of available data from around the world has found that there is no link between vaccination and the development of autism or autism spectrum disorders.

The study examined seven sets of data involving more than 1.25 million children and concluded that there was no evidence to support a relationship between common vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough and the development of autism.

The paper’s senior author, Associate Professor Guy Eslick from the Sydney Medical School, said he was inspired to look into the issue after watching some documentaries on the medical debate.  “I thought, surely someone has put this data together. I searched; there was nothing,” Prof Eslick said.

“There has been enormous debate regarding the possibility of a link between these commonly used and safe childhood vaccinations and the supposed development of autism.

“The data consistently shows the lack of evidence for an association between autism, autism spectrum disorders and childhood vaccinations … providing no reason to avoid immunisation on these grounds.”

The idea that vaccines were linked to autism took hold in 1998 when British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield published a paper that hypothesised that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine could lead to the condition.  The paper has since been discredited and his research was found to be fraudulent.

In 2011, pharmaceutical scientist Dr Dennis Flaherty called Wakefield’s findings “the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years”.

Prof Eslick stressed that he had no vested interest in the argument. He is not an expert in vaccination or autism and his study was not funded by a drug company.

“I did this because it was really interesting to me that there is a mass of people against vaccination and there really wasn’t any information to support that,” he said.  “I want my research to elucidate the truth and find out what’s real.

“When I saw the data, I would have to say I was a bit surprised but happy overall.”

Prof Eslick said the fear of this relationship between vaccination and autism had become a major public health issue.

“This is especially concerning given the fact that there have been 11 measles outbreaks in the US since 2000, and NSW also saw a spike in measles infections from early 2012 to late 2012,” he said.

Groups such as the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network maintain that there is a link between vaccination and autism. The network has uploaded a list of studies that supports its views here.

Prof Eslick said he had a great deal of empathy for parents of children with autism.

“(This study) will be cold comfort for them and I don’t think it will change their minds. You will probably never be able to change their minds,” he said.

Vaccination does harbour some risks — such as rashes and allergic reactions — but these are uncommon, according to Prof Eslick.

The review has been published in the medical journal Vaccine.



Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

A new study based out of Australia supervised by epidemiologist Guy Eslick, and primarily conduced by two researchers Taylor, and Swerdfeger (excluded credentials) is now circulating the Internet. Let us review the details...
Taylor, L., Swerdfeger, A., Eslick, G. (2014). Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies. Vaccine. Retrieved from

Corresponding author: (G.D. Eslick).
Inclusion Criteria
The inclusion criteria was extremely narrow and contradicts the study’s title “Vaccines”, which by presumption include thefull compliment of the 71 doses of vaccine prior to 18 years of age in the United States (CDC, 2014). The study only looked at thimerosal containing, and MMR vaccines, which excluded; rotavirus, haemophilus influenzae type b (HIB), pneumococcal, poliovirus, partial influenza doses, varicella, hepatitis A, human papillomavirus (HPV), and parital meningococcal. The old studies did include some of the Hepatitis B, and DTP, which included cumulative Hg dosage, and the MMR, however left out the subsequent nine vaccines. Further, these vaccines are only recommended among the pediatric population in the United States, additional vaccines are recommended among the broader adult, and immigrant populations. ASD diagnosis had to be included in the research study in correlation with the MMR vaccine and cumulative mercury (Hg) dosage. This study repeatedly speaks of "cumulative mercury dosage", meaning that there was not a comparison between vaccinated verses unvaccinated. They simply studied individuals that had some mercury compared with other groups that had more. For example, smoking a few cigarettes a day, compared to those that smoke a pack a day shows no correlation to lung cancer, therefore smoking is safe. This was their inclusion criteria in a nutshell...
Exclusion Criteria
The exclusion criteria was broad. Studies that focused on the other nine vaccines were removed from the review. Many of these studies have been directly linked with autism like HIB, but were purposefully excluded (Richmand BJ., 2011). All data collected from VAERS was also excluded, however the supervising contributor Guy Eslick in a contradiction encouraged parents to report adverse events in this study even though he discounts those reports.
929 studies were primarily selected from four data banks; Medline, PubMed, Embase, and Google Scholar. Only 5 made the inclusion criteria; Andrews, Hviid, Madsen, Uchiyama, and Verstraeten. The authors claim that all of the studies prove vaccines (MMR, & thimerosal) do not cause autism. Two studies focused on the MMR vaccine, two on cumulative Hg dosage, and one study looked at two data sets of Hg exposure.