Monday, November 07, 2016
Australian psychologists oppose democracy
Whatever is good for homosexuals trumps all else
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) fully supports marriage equality, but believes the process for achieving equality should not be by means of a popular vote.
APS President, Mr Anthony Cichello, says there is evidence that a plebiscite is likely to present significant risks to the psychological health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people as they contend with the stress of a public campaign.
Evidence from a suite of studies shows that in the process of putting marriage equality to a public vote, gender and sexual minorities suffer significantly higher levels of negative emotions than positive emotions, experience significant distress over the negative rhetoric, display increases in psychiatric illness and feel negative, depressed, lonely, disenfranchised and powerless.
Children and other family members of LGBTI couples are also affected by public displays of discrimination against same-sex marriage and homophobia more generally.
The APS also says marriage equality is a human rights and equal opportunity issue and therefore should be a matter for Australian law and our parliamentary system - not a popular vote.
It says denying people the right to marry based on their gender or sexuality is discriminatory, and places them unfairly as second class citizens.
Mr Cichello says psychologists are committed via their code of ethics to the principle that all Australians should be supported to achieve positive mental health and full social inclusion.
“The APS supports full marriage equality for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, on human rights, health and wellbeing grounds – but not by means of a popular vote,” says Mr Cichello.
Great result from 'No Jab, No Pay'
Social Services Minister Christian Porter says the response to the government's "No Jab, No Pay" policy has been a "great result".
He said 187, 695 children have caught up with their immunisation requirements since January 1, allowing parents to continue to receive their welfare benefits.
The most significant figure is the immunisation rate for indigenous five-year-olds, which has reached 95 per cent.
The minister said this level is critical to provide what's known as herd immunity - when large numbers of individuals are immune to disease, chains of infection are disrupted, stopping or slowing the spread of disease.
"This is a great result - and a reflection of what the No Jab, No Pay policy is achieving for the health of our children," Mr Porter said in a statement on Sunday.
Presbyterian Church sign on same-sex marriage divides regional community of Taree
Signs displayed outside a church in the New South Wales mid-north coast town of Taree are causing a stir, with some arguing they are offensive while others welcome them.
The controversy comes as politicians debate whether to hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage or vote on the issue in the federal parliament.
Resident Lisa Blogg said the sign "Marriage is one man + one woman" outside the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia in Taree was offensive.
"My daughter is gay and her response to the sign is, 'This is one of the reasons I want to leave this town, because it is oppressive to be a person in a same-sex relationship in a town like this'," Ms Blogg said.
"The sign is on the main thoroughfare where people drive past."
Her partner Chris Thiering said other signs outside the church had also raised eyebrows.
He cited 'Do not be surprised if the world hates you' as another example of an offensive sign.
"If I was having a bad day and trying to deal with my troubles and I walked around the corner, that would have a very negative influence on me," Mr Thiering said.
Messages on signs direct quotes from Bible, pastor says
Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia pastor Greg Ball acknowledged the signs could be taken out of context, but said the signs were direct quotes from the Bible.
"I do take to the point they are not referenced, but we are limited to what we can put on the sign as we have a limited number words we can put in," he said.
Mr Ball said 'Do not be surprised if the world hates you' is a direct quote from the Bible (1 John 3:13), and was directed at Christians, telling them not to be scared to be hated because of their religious beliefs.
He said he welcomed the feedback, but there had been very few complaints to the church, and many "statements of appreciation".
Mr Ball also said the statement about marriage would not have been controversial until recently.
Signs are legal, law expert says
University of New South Wales Professor of Law Luke McNamara, who has researched the operation of hate speech laws for more than 20 years, believes that, while views would differ on the merits and appropriateness of the signs, they were unlikely to breach laws against homosexual vilification in NSW.
Under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 it is "unlawful for a person, by a public act, to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons on ground of homosexuality of the person or members of the group".
"Even if these signs were regarded as falling within the definition of homosexual vilification, which is unlikely, the law does not create a criminal offence," Dr McNamara said.
"It simply allows a person from the relevant group to lodge a complaint with the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board."
Qld. child safety officers ripped to shreds in damning report into deaths of seven children
A PANEL of experts examining the suspicious deaths of seven children has accused Child Safety officers of cover-ups, misconduct and breaches of the law.
I have been given access to confidential reports in which the panel said it was “extremely concerned” about “dangerous practices” in the department leading up to the deaths of children.
The independent panel spoke of “major systems failure”, “complacency” and “lack of accountability”.
The damning report was critical of the department’s indecision in cases where children were known to be in danger.
The panel said assessment errors allowed children to stay in hostile families.
The report will leave the department’s reputation in tatters.
The panel found much blame lay with staff who put the rights of criminally maladjusted parents ahead of the rights of children who later died violent deaths.
The department failed to remove children from families where there was long-term criminality, intergenerational violence and “chronic lifestyle concerns” – a euphemism for drug and alcohol abuse.
Children suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect at the hands of parents who were “skilled in lying and manipulating” case workers, the panel found. Staff with “greater expertise would not have made the errors in assessment,” it said.
Members of the Child Death Case Review Panel are drawn from a pool of experts in pediatrics, law, forensic pathology and child health. The panel’s confidential reports were released after a Right to Information search. However it is an incomplete record with dozens of paragraphs and entire pages blanked out.
The names of the young victims and Child Safety officers and some other identifying material were expunged.
Nevertheless, the words that are visible paint a grim picture of the terrible plight of Queensland’s most vulnerable children – and the state’s abject failure to rescue them.
Opposition Child Safety spokeswoman Ros Bates said the report confirmed the department was in crisis “from top to bottom”. She renewed her calls for Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman to be sacked. Bates said more than 1000 children were still at risk in hostile homes.
The panel also criticised Child Safety managers for a lack of oversight of inexperienced frontline workers.
The panel also found ethical standards breaches in cases now in the hands of homicide police.
And it expressed alarm that the Child Safety department had repeatedly failed to alert SCAN (Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect) teams – even after children had been taken to hospitals with severe bruising and other terrible injuries.
Tragically, no one bothered to alert the SCAN team in several ongoing cases that resulted in deaths.
One tragedy has highlighted “poor judgment and mistakes made by staff”.
There were “thinking errors, poor knowledge of domestic and family violence and a lack of understanding of the impacts of substance abuse”.
And: “The panel considered that the likelihood of significant harm or death was high.
“The panel was unclear whether the death of (name deleted) was a result of Child Safety staff or of the system as a whole but considered there were both staff and systems failings.
“The panel considers that the department should undertake urgent assessment of unsafe child-protection practices by staff.
“The panel expressed concerns that they did not have confidence in the workers involved in this case.
“The relevant staff did not show any signs of reflections or insights.”
It questioned the suitability of some workers to remain in the department. It added: “(Some) staff displayed attitudes and made decisions that were inconsistent with sound child-protection practice.”
And a proposed group training session “would not address dangerous practice and views”.
One of the department’s own reviews into a death was “unsatisfactory”.
“The panel found the report indicates evidence that the practice was very poor and that there was misconduct by staff.
“The panel considered that the view of staff that (words deleted) is indicative of a breach of the Child Protection Act.”
On several occasions the panel was critical of the department’s own “standards and practice reviews”.
In one case the review panel rejected the department’s assertion that its handling of a case was “reasonable”.
It said the department’s response was “insufficient”.
The department’s internal reviews “contained language that was ambiguous and confusing”. Some was “vague”.
Child Safety workers were sometimes complacent and remiss in “neglecting the need for stronger investigation”.
Levels of risk were not identified and cases requiring immediate intervention were downgraded.
“The department seemed to be in ‘surveillance mode’ with a lack of active intervention,” it noted.
In one case the panel criticised the “tick and flick” assessment process.
Some risk-assessment tools were not used because of “unsound personal judgments”.
Tucked away in the fine print the panel reveals what is perhaps a far greater problem.
Different departments handling child emergencies did not communicate to one another. “Particularly concerning was the lack of collaboration with other services,” it said.
High-risk children were not automatically referred to SCAN.
The panel said there was a critical need for a cross-agency co-ordination group to link Queensland Health, Queensland police, schools, youth justice groups and Child Safety. Each of these groups suffered from “siloed” thinking, it said.
Crooked cops in NSW
The crooked cops always slime the honest ones, thus making it hard to tell the sheep from the goats
Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn is likely to face adverse findings when the Ombudsman's long-running and controversial police bugging inquiry, Operation Prospect, tables its report, leaked letters have revealed.
An adverse finding would seriously dent any chance Ms Burn had of replacing Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione when he retires.
The two letters sent to Acting Ombudsman John McMillan by the NSW Crime Commissioner Peter Hastings, QC, have blasted the $10 million Operation Prospect investigation as unfair.
Mr Hastings threatens to seek an injunction in the Supreme Court to block the public release of the report when it is tabled in NSW Parliament.
The Greens will separately seek to "kill off" the report, by amending a police oversight bill in NSW Parliament next week, to terminate the Operation Prospect inquiry.
"Any report that the Acting Ombudsman delivers will be so infected by gross procedural injustice that it will never be accepted as either fair or impartial," Greens MP David Shoebridge said last night.
The Ombudsman has been investigating events that took place 17 years ago, when former deputy commissioner Nick Kaldas was among about 100 police bugged during a police internal affairs unit investigation involving Deputy Commissioner Burn.
The Ombudsman's report is still being written and is due to be released before Christmas.
The heavily redacted letters, obtained by Fairfax Media, confirm for the first time that Ms Burn, Mr Kaldas and former NSW Crime Commission chief Philip Bradley face recommendations of adverse findings.
But the letter attacks the investigation, begun by former ombudsman Bruce Barbour four years ago, for allowing key witnesses to make submissions that were not disclosed to other parties.
Mr Kaldas, who has previously made serious complaints about the Ombudsman's inquiry, retired from NSW Police earlier this year, bowing out of the race for the Commissioner role.
The letter says the process used by the Ombudsman's office is "intolerable", and it was "fundamentally unfair" that Mr Bradley has been unable to see evidence given by important witnesses against him.
Mr Hastings says he has discussed the matter with Ms Burn and "I understand her lawyers have expressed similar concerns about the processes generally and specifically in relation to the failure to put matters to her [redacted] about which recommendations are now apparently being made for adverse findings", the letter says.
"It is a matter of public record that former deputy commissioner Nick Kaldas has serious complaints about the manner in which the investigation has been conducted ... It is significant that those senior personnel who have been investigated but who have different interests, have major grievances about the way in which they have been treated," the letter says.
The report will cause "substantial reputational damage suffered ... The situation is wrong and the damage will be irremediable."
It threatens that Ms Burn, Mr Kaldas and Mr Bradley may join any legal action to injunct the report in the Supreme Court.
However, Ms Burn last night distanced herself from the letter.
"I am under strict directions from the Acting Ombudsman not to disclose the matters in which I have been involved in the Operation Prospect Inquiry. Contrary to a media report today, I have not decided to join in an application to the courts complaining about the process of the inquiry,' she said in a statement.
No details of the adverse findings have been revealed in the redacted letters.
The October 26 letter also calls for the dispute between the government authorities to be referred to Premier Mike Baird within seven days.
A spokesman for Mr Baird said a copy of the letter had been sent to Mr Baird's office late this week.
"We look forward to receiving the Ombudsman's report and will respond in due course," he said.
A spokesman for the NSW Crime Commission declined to confirm or deny the contents of the letter.
The Ombudsman's office said the report was still being written and would be tabled in Parliament before Christmas.
Mr Shoebridge said: "From day one it was clear the Ombudsman's office was not up to the job of investigating this extremely sensitive police bugging scandal, and it has hidden its inadequacies behind a wall of secrecy and a grossly unfair process.
"Parliament created this monster and Parliament now needs to do the right thing and kill it off before it causes any more damage."
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here