Monday, February 05, 2007


Australia is set to drastically reduce its Sudanese refugee program this year. With growing community concern about the behaviour of the refugees, Federal Cabinet will soon consider a proposal from Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews to reduce the intake from Horn of Africa nations. Australia's humanitarian program has allowed thousands of Sudanese refugees to come to Australia in recent years. But there are growing doubts about the wisdom of the decision, especially with the rise of gangs of Sudanese youths and drunk drivers.

There are about 18,000 Sudanese in Victoria, with many traumatised by their experience of civil war -- and the challenge of living in a Western society. A Sunday Herald Sun survey of 400 cases at magistrates' courts across Melbourne found 14 per cent of offenders came from the Horn of Africa and the Middle East -- many of them refugees -- about 20 times the representative proportion of the population.

"Australia has one of the most generous humanitarian resettlement programs in the world at 13,000 a year," Mr Andrews said yesterday. "But immigration is a process, not an event. "Successful immigration requires integration into the broader community."

A high-profile court case this week highlighted the crime spree of a Sudanese man, Hakeem Hakeem, 21, who raped two teenage girls and an elderly women in a drunken, drug-fuelled episode. He was sentenced to 24 years in jail. Hakeem had been in Australia for only one month before committing the crimes.

The proposed new policy would focus on settling refugees from the Asia Pacific region.

Sudanese elders believe their community is being unjustly targeted. The elders yesterday blamed failures in Australian welfare and education systems for crimes in the community. Jago Adongjak, an educator at the South Eastern Region Migrant Resource Centre and an elder of Melbourne's 7000-strong Sudanese community, said many fellow migrants who had escaped the war-torn nation were facing a different conflict in Australia. "I came here because there was a war in Sudan and I was a target for the junta," Mr Adongjak said. "I was expecting a peaceful land of opportunity -- and there are opportunities -- but we are also facing a battle here, to survive." Mr Adongjak dismissed claims the community did not respect or trust authorities as much as other cultures and had drink-drive issues.

"The Sudanese are not as bad as we are portrayed," he said. "We know because we have just had a meeting with the police and they told us according to their statistics the Sudanese are not anywhere near the worst community for crime in Victoria. "And I know because I live in the community. "On the issue of drink-driving, I would not say the Sudanese are exceptional either." The major cause of crime and restlessness in the community was disadvantage, he said. Large families did not receive adequate housing, with several children sharing small rooms. [And back in Sudan??]

Children struggled at school because they only had nine months to learn English before being put in classes based on their age, rather than ability. Parents also found it hard to provide because their professional qualifications were not recognised, so they had to settle for lower-paid jobs, Mr Adongjak said. [And what were they paid back in Sudan??]



When the kid grows up, what do you think he will say about the busybodies who said he should never have been born? He's living a "wrongful life" is he?

A 56-year-old woman who has given birth in a Brisbane hospital is believed to be the oldest IVF mother in Australia. The woman, who was 36 weeks' pregnant, gave birth last week after undergoing treatment at the Queensland Fertility centre. Sources said the woman was the recipient of a donor egg after raising three other children aged from their mid-teens to mid-30s. They said the mother also required treatment with the heart drug Digoxin following the birth at the Mater Hospital on Tuesday.

The mother has refused to comment on the case but The Sunday Mail has been told she was forced to move suburbs because of "negativity towards her pregnancy". Her husband is believed to be aged in his mid-30s.

The case is being investigated by the Fertility Society of Australia Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee - which provides accreditation for IVF clinics - over whether it breached the self-regulating industry's code of practice. But because there are no age limits in the code, which stipulates only against any fertility treatment that may be harmful to the mother or baby, the body is unable to take any action against the clinic. "I am not aware of any older women than this," RTAC chairman Ossie Petrucco said yesterday.

It is the second time in two years the clinic has been targeted by RTAC. In 2005, founding QFG director Warren DeAmbrosis was scrutinised after he helped Brisbane woman Dale Chalk fall pregnant with her second set of quads - believed to be a world first. The high-powered IVF Directors Group, comprising medical directors from every IVF clinic in Australia and New Zealand, stopped short of punishing Dr DeAmbrosis but pushed for the industry to do everything it could to avoid such an outcome again.

According to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data, the success rate for women aged between 40 and 44, who had undergone fertility treatment, was 7.1 per cent, compared with 33.5 per cent for women aged 23 to 24 years. The average age of women undergoing treatment in 2004 in Australia and New Zealand was 35.4 and their partners were 37.8.

In 1998, an Adelaide woman, 53, gave birth to triplets after undergoing an IVF treatment with embryos she and her husband had stored years earlier. In January 2005, 66-year-old Romanian woman Adriana Iliescu became the world's oldest mother after giving birth to a daughter after conceiving through IVF with a donor egg.

Meanwhile, a simple test that more than doubles the chance of having a healthy baby could transform the IVF process. Scientists have found a way to test the genetic make-up of a woman's eggs, allowing the best to be chosen. A trial has produced more than 30 healthy babies and dramatically increased the success rate. Perfected by doctors in Las Vegas, comparative genomic hybridisation counts the number of chromosomes in an egg. Up to 75 per cent of miscarriages are thought to be due to embryos having the wrong number of chromosomes, with eggs from older women particularly likely to be defective.


More news of the "drought"

The Greenies and their sympathizers in the media and politics are ignoring the fact that rainfall has always been highly variable in Australia. There is always somewhere that is in "drought" and always plenty of floods too. But the latest episode is the craziest -- with heavy rainfall in many parts of Australia still being referred to as a "drought" and being blamed on global warming

It was Drysdale St by name but not by nature in the flooded north Queensland sugar town of Giru yesterday. The main street of the 600-resident town, just south of Townsville, was waist-deep in water as floods cut off the area for the second consecutive day. Continuous rain had brought floodwaters to the doorsteps of homes and businesses before they retreated, sparing residents from major damage. "No one's been injured, no real damage has been done, so everyone's just enjoying it at the moment," said Rosalie Hardie, 37, manager of the Giru International Hotel.

Residents had watched with alarm as waters broke the banks of the Haughton River and rushed towards the town late on Thursday. "It came in very fast - it was quite amazing to watch. I think we were blessed because it stopped," Ms Hardie said. "It got to the point where it's just lapping at everyone's door. If people were a little concerned yesterday, the concern has gone today because it hasn't gone any higher."

Residents were in good spirits when The Sunday Mail chartered a helicopter to make it into the town yesterday. Shane Cannon, 38, who works at the local mill, was among many residents who ventured out to wade through the floodwaters, his 11-year-old daughter Shae perched on his shoulders. "I love it when the weather's like this. We haven't had a really good wet season for a while," he said.

Outside the pub, where relaxed locals nonchalantly sipped cold beers with water lapping at their feet, dinghies and inflatable rafts had replaced cars on Drysdale St. Children took their lives in their hands to swim down the street. It wasn't just currents they had to worry about, but also the local wildlife, with a 2m crocodile seen swimming near the local school. Concerned police issued a crocodile warning.

Many homes in the flood-prone area are raised high off the ground, keeping them high and dry but surrounded by water....

Elsewhere, Emergency Management Queensland sent food and other supplies by helicopter to cut-off Jourama Falls ranger station, 80km north of Townsville, where two Belgian tourists were stranded.


But floods are a sign of global warming too, of course: "Queensland's Premier Peter Beattie has said today that flooding in North Queensland was another sign of global warming. "I'm delighted we're getting rain in north Queensland, although we never like getting too much because there's always floods," he told ABC Radio. "But the trouble is this, is what the future holds - this is what climate change is doing to us."

Government schools in expensive suburbs can't cope with enrollments

Matching supply to demand is too hard for governments

Public schools are turning away students because they have run out of classroom space and do not want to fill their playgrounds with demountables. Changing demographics, a flow of students back into public schools and the State Government's $710 million class-size reduction policy are all placing an extra strain on resources. Most affected are schools in the high-density eastern- and inner-city suburbs, where there is limited space to expand.

Bronte Public School has had to turn away pupils from outside its local area. "Demand is growing," principal Pam Crawley said. "We are limited to [taking students from] within the area and siblings simply because we don't have any more space," Ms Crawley said. She said an increasing number of people were eager to send their children to local public schools. "People value the fact their children are starting in their local school and getting a sense of community," she said.

Kensington Public School principal and Public School Principals Forum spokeswoman Annie Jones has had to turn away up to 50 children from kindergarten each year - and between 20 and 40 from years 1 to 6 - because of a lack of space. She does not want to take in any demountable classrooms which she said would encroach on the playground area.

NSW Teachers Federation eastern suburbs and inner city representative Michelle Rosicky said the schools experiencing a lack of room tended to be older and had limited land. "The problem is, in the eastern suburbs, if those parents can't get their kids into Coogee, Clovelly and Bronte [public schools] they will send them to private schools."


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