Friday, March 02, 2018

MP calls for rethink on Aboriginal place names because brother of drowning victim struggled with hard-to-pronounce 'syllable soup' moniker while calling triple zero

A minister has called for a rethink on using Aboriginal place names after a woman died at a swimming hole while her brother struggled to tell medics where they were.

Kimberley Johnston, 22, died at the Dwaarlindjinaap waterhole last month after getting pulled under by a strong current and trapped under a rock.

Brother Aaron was with her at the time and called 000, but he and bystanders had difficulty pronouncing the name, costing vital moments in the race to save her life.

Now local MP Andrew Hastie is calling for places to be given universally recognised signage alongside Aboriginal names to avoid the event repeating itself.

His call comes after the City of Mandurah, where Kimberley was from, announced it will be renaming all parks and reserves within its boundaries with Aboriginal-inspired names as part of their reconciliation action plan.

Hastie told WA Today: 'If local governments are going to go for a long name that's complex and difficult to pronounce then I think we should really take seriously… [the] suggestion that we implement emergency location signs.

'It's not just someone drowning at a watering hole. It could be a child getting a snake bite, it could be someone having a heart attack, it could be an accident on a trail.

'It could be any number of emergencies that we need first responders for. I think it's a really issue and if we can't pronounce it – well then there's a problem.'


Greens call for their own by-election candidate to be axed

She is behaving like a typical far-Leftist. She's a snake and snakes bite

The Greens candidate attempting to win the seat of Batman and end a century of Labor representation in Melbourne’s north is accused by members of her party of intimidation, bullying, branch stacking, spreading “reckless false statements’’ and cultivating ALP-style factionalism within the party’s largest branch.

A complaint lodged by 18 Greens campaign volunteers, office-holders and elected representatives calls on the party’s state executive to disendorse Alex Bhathal as the Batman candidate and expel her from the party, warning that her election to federal parliament would pose a serious risk to the party’s future growth and unity.

The party said the complaint had been considered and dealt with.

The complainants are current or former members of Ms Bhathal’s Darebin branch, which controls preselections for the Darebin council, the state seats of Northcote and Preston, and the now winnable federal seat of Batman.

They are Greens who supported her previous campaigns, who ­attended branch meetings and party functions with her and who, since the 2016 federal election when she ran and lost in Batman for a fifth time, are concerned at her “increasingly malicious’’ ­behaviour towards anyone she perceives as disloyal.

The 101-page complaint and covering letter, seen by The Australian, depicts a power-hungry, perennial candidate who ruthlessly uses proxies to stifle debate, manipulate internal party procedures and undermine fellow members. It accuses her of ­“serious, repeated, often wilful misconduct’’ and demands the ­allegations be fully investigated.

“This misconduct has included systematic intimidation, and ­malicious and reckless false statements about members and party decisions,’’ the complaint reads.

“The attached statements ­include instances of direct ­intimidation and victimisation on the part of Alex, as well as the wider, more systematic operation of her political machine, which has been used to undermine ­consensus decision-making ­processes, attack and harass members considered to be ‘in the way’ and we believe, to recruit members for the purpose of swaying preselection results.

Alex’s behaviour has escalated markedly in the past year. Her tactics have become more aggressive and ruthless, her breaches of the code of conduct more flagrant and brazen, her ­behaviour many magnitudes more destructive. We believe she must be held to account and cannot be allowed to continue on as a representative and member of the Victorian Greens.’’

The complaint was made to the party’s state executive on January 15, two weeks before Labor’s David Feeney retired from the parliament and triggered the Batman by-election — a knife-edge contest in which early voting began this week.

The complainants, who ­requested their identities be concealed from Ms Bhathal, say the party’s interests would be better served by the Greens losing ­Batman than Ms Bhathal winning it. This would enable the party to preselect a new candidate for the next federal election.

It is understood Ms Bhathal has not been shown the full complaint. She declined to respond to the allegations and invited Batman voters to make their own judgment.

“The people of Batman have over 30 years experience of my character and I have faith that my community will rely on their first hand knowledge of me over the decades,’’ she said last night.

Ms Bhathal was strongly backed by the three Victorian Greens in federal parliament: Adam Bandt, Richard Di Natale and Janet Rice.

“Alex convincingly won the preselection,’’ they said in a joint statement to The Australian. “She is held in the highest regard by members and supporters within the broader community.

“It is disappointing that ­despite this support and the party resolving this matter, someone who is unhappy with the outcome has taken it to the media.’’

The co-convener of the Victorian Greens, Colin Jacobs, said the complaint had been considered and dealt with. “We take all allegations of this nature seriously,” he said. “The party considered these matters and found the ­material presented lacked sufficient evidence to reconsider Alex’s preselection.’’

This is disputed by the complainants. They say the allegations raised against Ms Bhathal prompted a review of her endorsement for Batman by a three-­person committee but were not properly investigated by the party.

Ms Bhathal is a Tampa Green: the cohort of political activists who joined the Greens in the lead-up to the 2001 election motivated less by environmental concerns than ­opposition to immigration and border protection policies.

When she first ran for the Greens in Batman in 2001 it was an unwinnable, “dead-red’’ seat. In every election she has stood as a candidate, she has eroded Labor’s hold on it.

In 2016, after Mr Feeney ran a train-wreck campaign, Ms Bhathal got to within 1853 votes of ­entering federal parliament. She works as a social worker, lives in Preston, is a mother of two and is well known in the electorate.

Some of the allegations raised against her appear frivolous. She is accused of standing in front of ­another Greens representative at a media doorstop so she wouldn’t appear on TV, of passive aggression, of “unfriending’’ a party member on Facebook and in typical Greens-speak, of projecting, triggering and making the Darebin branch an unsafe space. The more serious allegations are:

● That she recruited a dramatic influx of new members to the Darebin branch early last year to stack the numbers in favour of her own preselection and marginalise perceived political opponents.

● That she orchestrated a campaign to undermine the preselection chances of City of Darebin councillor Susanne Newton in the state seat of Preston.

● That she waged a ruthless, intercine war against four Greens members of the Darebin council and used her social media accounts to support non-Greens candidates running against them.

The complaint does not contain grievous instances of bullying or harassment but documents a corrosive pattern of alleged behaviour including late-night phone calls, incessant text messaging and malicious backgrounding, reducing party members to tears and creating a bitterly divided Darebin branch. None of the allegations has been proven.`

The Greens state executive and its federal leadership have backed Ms Bhathal as the party’s best chance of securing a second lower-house seat in the federal parliament.

Labor has preselected Ged Kearney, the president of the ACTU, in an attempt to hold the seat. The Batman by-election will be held on March 17.


Child protection staff turned a blind eye to Aboriginal men sexually assaulting underage girls because of 'cultural reasons'

Leftist "tolerance" can come at a steep price, a price not paid by Leftists themselves

Child protection case managers in the Northern Territory underwent mandatory training four years ago after it was revealed a small number of staff members ignored relationships between young girls and much older men because of Aboriginal cultural practices.

Jodeen Carney, the CEO of the Department of Children and Families at the time, sent an urgent memo in November 2014 ordering all staff to participate in training conducted by social anthropologist Jane Lloyd, according to NT News.

The memo is believed to have been prompted by a staff member's decision to grant permission to let a girl have a relationship with a man, who she also lived with.

'It has come to my attention that a small number of staff misunderstand how some cultural practices in local Aboriginal communities affect their role as child protection practitioners when assessing and managing cases involving sexual exploitation,' Ms Carney said in the memo, the publication reported on Wednesday.

'The age of consent in the Territory is 16 years of age. Children under 16 years of age cannot 'consent' to sexual intercourse.'

Ms Lloyd was hired to educate staff and 'address aspects of classical and contemporary Aboriginal beliefs and customs insofar as they relate to family structures and child safety,' Ms Carney said.

The leaked memo comes after tensions escalated in Tennant Creek over the alleged sexual assault of a two-year-old girl.

The toddler was flown to the Alice Springs Hospital on February 16 before being rushed to the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, where she was placed in an induced coma because of the severity of her injuries.

A 24-year-old man has since been arrested and charged with sexual assault. He appeared to have been bashed when he appeared in court by video-link last week. He did not apply for bail.

The girl has been released from hospital into the care of her family and will return to the home where the alleged assault occurred, much to the horror of relatives. Her parents are understood to have troubled pasts, and are known to be heavy consumers of alcohol.

It was previously reported a party was held at the home on the same night the two-year-old was allegedly sexually assaulted.

Territory Families received 21 calls to the girl's troubled residence between August 15 and December 17.

Restrictions on the sale of alcohol in Tennant Creek have been put in place for the next seven days after an increase in alcohol-related offences, particularly domestic violence.

Licensing director-general Cinday Bravos says the restrictions will apply to six venues in the town including the Tennant Creek and Goldfields hotels and will limit the amount of takeaway alcohol that can be bought and when it can be purchased.

'I will then assess their effectiveness and the options available for implementing longer-term measures if the restrictions prove to be successful in reducing the levels of harm associated with the consumption of alcohol,' Ms Bravos said in a statement on Tuesday.

Takeaway alcohol will only be sold from 3pm to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, with limits on the amount of beer, wine, fortified wine or mixed drinks that can be purchased in a single transaction.


Students from China, India and Nepal surge at Australian universities despite jobs squeeze etc.

Chinese and Indian students have not been deterred by negative media coverage or reports of racist attacks, and are flocking to Australian universities in record numbers.

New statistics show amost 190,000 foreigners applied to study in Australia between July and December, an increase of 14.1 per cent on the same period in 2016, with Indian applicants surging by 32 per cent and Chinese applicants by 13 per cent. Nepal overtook Brazil as the third-largest source of applicants, rising by 46 per cent to nearly 12,000 prospective students.

More than 90 per cent of applicants were granted student visas, with 41,000 - a quarter of all student visas issued in the quarter - going to Chinese nationals. A further 20,000 were Indian nationals. The grant rate for Chinese applicants steadily declined over the course of 2017 from 98.3 per cent to 93.8 per cent. In total, the number of student visas granted rose by 7 per cent.

International students pay huge fees to study in Australia and have become an enormous source of income for universities, particularly the Group of Eight, to the extent that education has become the country's third-biggest export market.

Critics have raised concerns at the level of Chinese influence in Australian universities, with students sometimes objecting to course material covering China and its government. Such matters, as well as physical attacks on Chinese students, have received prominent coverage in local and overseas Chinese media.

Last month Beijing issued a safety warning for Chinese students in Australia and provided phone numbers in case of emergency.

But the figures released this week by the Department of Home Affairs show Chinese interest in an Australian higher education has only continued to grow. The 12.9 per cent increase in applications from Chinese nationals was far higher in July-December 2017 than the same period in 2016 (6.7 per cent) and 2015 (5.6 per cent).

Over the past 10 years, Nepal has grown exponentially as a source of international students, initially spurred by the decade-long Maoist insurgency and subsequent word of mouth. Nepalese media have identified Sydney's Victoria University and Western Sydney University as major destinations for Nepalese students, and Auburn has become Sydney's hub for Nepalese-speakers.

However, the figures released by the government this week also show signs of a jobs squeeze for international students after graduation. The number of graduates moving straight into skilled work has crashed following the Turnbull government's changes to the temporary 457 visa, which will be abolished and replaced this month.

Just 3000 graduates transitioned to a 457, a decline of 50 per cent on the same period in 2016, while the number who moved on to a 189 or 190 skilled visa also fell. Instead, there was a 30 per cent increase in students moving on to a 485 "temporary graduate" visa, which allows them to work in Australia but is not a guarantee of skilled labour. There was also an 11.5 per cent rise in the number of graduates who moved on to a tourist visa.

Er-Kai Wang, associate lecturer in migration at the Australian National University, said the 485 visa still offered a "window of opportunity" for permanent residency, but it was easier on the 457. "That was a pathway for a lot of people to get into permanent residency – which was probably one of the things that the government was a bit suspicious about," she said.

Last year the Turnbull government slashed the number of occupations eligible for the 457 visa, which this month will be replaced by the similar but stricter temporary Skills Shortage visa.

Of those graduates who were on the increasingly-popular 485 temporary graduate visa, about 6000 transitioned to a skilled migrant visa - a decline of 13.7 per cent on the same period in 2016.

Despite the lure of an Australian job and pathway to permanent residency, Ms Wang noted a large number of foreign students who study in Australia "are wanting to study and then go home".


Why is the number of male circumcisions declining in Australia?

As Iceland debates whether to outlaw circumcisions of newborn males, SBS News explores why rates have been dropping in Australia.

The procedure of removing the foreskin of a newborn male's genitalia has been practised for religious and cultural reasons for centuries. It is a common practice among Jewish, Muslim and some Christian communities but is also undergone for cultural reasons. For Jews and Muslims, the practice is stipulated in religious texts. It's also considered a practice among Indigenous Australian communities.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says neonatal, infant and child circumcision is generally safe if it is conducted by experienced providers in hygienic conditions, but there have been levels of risk outlined in some studies.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) says while there is evidence that shows some health benefits, there are also risks from the medical procedure. It considers the potential health benefits are not sufficient to recommend routine circumcision of all infant males.

The RACP cites recent studies as showing circumcision may provide protection against urinary tract infections in infancy. Also in countries where sexually transmitted disease is high, the procedure can also reduce the risk of HIV/Aids.

In a 2010 report, the WHO estimated one in three males worldwide were circumcised. In Australia, it said 59 per cent of men were circumcised. But there is evidence that is substantially declining among new generations.

Based on Medicare records, there were 6309 newborn males circumcised in the 2016/17 financial year. That is a major drop from the 19,663 circumcisions of those under six months of age from 2007/08.

The RACP paediatrics and child health division's Professor Paul Colditz says the rate was four times greater a decade earlier, and the numbers have been dropping rapidly. "Only four per cent of boys are being circumcised (today), so I guess parents are really making up their own minds on the basis of the available evidence," he told SBS News.

However, there may be some procedures not captured by the data if it is performed by religious figures, given the statistics are based on Medicare claims.

But Professor Colditz says that would be a fairly small number in relation to the 6000 babies circumcised in the past year.  "There will be a small number done by religious figures who may be very experienced," he said.

Why are rates dropping? Professor Colditz says it is because of two aspects - more informed parents and more fathers not being circumcised themselves.

"The number of new fathers who are no longer circumcised is increasing and therefore if they haven't been circumcised, collectively between the two parents then they're making a decision that they don't feel it will confer any benefit to their son," he said.

Parents were also making up their own minds by researching available evidence.

"We've entered an era where everyone is looking at [it like], 'Is this operation, is this treatment worthwhile, will be effective, what are the risks?'" he said.

“[They're] doing this balance between the potential for any benefits against the potential for any harm and I think the whole of society is getting sophisticated in the way they do this."


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

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