Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Expert aghast to find mother was declared mentally ill while reporting child abuse

Another crooked bureaucracy -- all too common in "child protection" agencies

CHILD protection expert Freda Briggs believes authorities are having mothers declared mentally ill when they complain their children are the subject of sexual abuse, because they are struggling to cope with an increasing number of victims.

The UniSA Emeritus Professor and child protection expert, Freda Briggs, has asked Families Minister Jennifer Rankine to launch an inquiry into one case in which a woman's complaint was dismissed after an assessor found her two then-pre-school-aged children were "psychic" and had read the mother's mind when she thought about the father abusing them.

Professor Briggs said the treatment of the mother - a social worker trained in reporting abuse and who by law must report it as part of her profession - was increasingly common.

She said she asked for an inquiry into Families SA's handling of the ongoing matter, which dates back to 2008, because of inconsistencies in the case involving the social worker mother, who cannot be identified. Other alleged inconsistencies include:

CCTV footage showing the children's claims against the father and highly sexualised behaviour of the older child.

FOUR psychiatrists contradicted a Families SA finding the mother is mentally ill.

AN unqualified assessor found the mother was mentally ill, which was accepted by Families SA.

LINKS between the father's family and court officials.

FAILURE by Families SA to have the children's injuries assessed because it would be too stressful for them.

AN unqualified police officer decided injuries to the older child were caused by constipation.

Professor Briggs said the trend began when under the Howard government court rules were changed to give fathers greater custody of children, criticised by some children's advocates who argue some were delivered into the hands of their abusers. "This case is typical of what I'm getting when the mother reports child sex abuse, they say she has imagined abuse and convinces the child that s/he is abused when s/he isn't," Professor Briggs said.

The Advertiser's request for a response was rejected by a Families SA spokeswoman, who said its procedures were cleared by the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner.


Another pathetic Muslim

If they can't adopt civilized values, they should be sent back whence they come.

A MUSLIM girl caught between her religion, her parents and wanting to be a typical Aussie teenager is at the centre of an apprehended violence order against her father after he found she had a boyfriend.

Police were called to the family home after the man threatened to kill himself and the 14-year-old girl when he discovered the boy in a room of their home, Parramatta Bail Court heard yesterday.

The man, who cannot be named, allegedly told police the relationship was disrespectful to Muslim culture and brought shame on his family in the Afghan community.

The court heard he tried to detain the boy in the early hours of New Year's Day at the house in Blacktown. The family called police because they were scared the father would kill the boy.

After police arrived, the man became enraged because they would not arrest the boy, who had been invited into the house by his daughter.

He said the boyfriend would be killed if the incident happened in Afghanistan, the country he and his wife had emigrated from in 1998.

"The accused then stated, as the boyfriend would not be going to jail, the only thing left to do was kill his daughter and himself," police said.

"The complainant is stuck between her religion, strict parents and wanting to be a typical Australian teenager."

Officers claimed that on October 27 the daughter ran away from home. Her father said he would kill himself if she did not return by sundown. When she did not return, the father attempted to hang himself but was stopped by his wife and son.

"The daughter said she fears that her father will kill her because of her actions and that if he doesn't, she will be locked in the house unable to leave, unless he kills himself," police said.

Police took out an apprehended domestic violence order against the father on behalf of the girl. He was charged with stalking, intimidation with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm.

The father, who is a qualified surgeon in Afghanistan but employed as a taxi driver in Sydney, was refused bail because of his threats against the girl and self-harm history.


The Leftist VCAT again

Drug dealing and violent crime is OK -- but laughing at the Koran is not

A drug dealer peddling heroin at a public housing estate has kept his taxpayer-subsidised flat after an eviction order was overturned.

With more than 41,000 Victorian families waiting for help to put a roof over their heads, the decision has disappointed welfare groups.

The dealer, whose identity is being protected by the courts, was ordered to move out after he admitted selling drugs at the Flemington estate where he lives. But the man remains in his high-rise unit after the Director of Housing's application for possession of the flat was quashed on a legal technicality in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The decision comes after the unemployed man - identified in court documents only as TK - was caught three times selling heroin to a police operative at the estate.

TK's lawyers argued the eviction was a breach of his rights under Victoria's controversial Human Rights Charter.

VCAT deputy President Heather Lambrick ruled that while there was no interference with TK's human rights, the Director of Housing had failed to prove TK used his flat for illegal purposes, even though one deal was carried out in his unit doorway and a police raid found drug money in his flat.

Ms Lambrick said her decision would have been "quite different" if provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act dealing with illegal activity extended to common areas of estates. "It was clear from the evidence that the tenant was indeed using the Ministry of Housing Estate to traffick in heroin," she said.

Responding to the revelations, the State Government vowed to review tenancy laws to try and close the loophole. Housing Minister Wendy Lovell said she would seek advice from her department on what changes were required
to plug the gap.

"A Baillieu Government will not tolerate drugs in public housing estates or any other illegal activity," she said. "Victorian taxpayers have every right to feel this is an unacceptable situation."

Council of Social Service chief executive Cath Smith backed a wide-ranging review, saying basic health and safety standards for public and private tenants were outdated.

Ms Smith said it was important courts protect people's right to a home, but this decision would be questioned by the 41,200 people waiting for public housing and went against recent improvements in security for the more than 62,000 families living in public housing, including the eviction of several other drug dealers.

"It puts the Office of Housing in a very difficult position when you have tens of thousands of people needing somewhere to live but without the means to move on those who break the law in order to free up a home for someone who really needs one," she said.

"It's a real shame to see the positive effort to try and have safe and secure housing for people in our public housing estates contradicted."

TK was the target of a covert police operation in July and August, 2009 during which he was caught selling heroin from his flat.

During one deal TK opened the screen door of his flat to take $180 from the covert officer before handing out a silver foil of heroin. Another deal occurred in a stairwell outside his flat.

Police also seized $470 and a mobile phone during a search of the unit and TK admitted trafficking heroin to support his own addiction.

In February he pleaded guilty to four counts of trafficking, and possessing the proceeds of crime and was placed on an 18 month community based order.

TK was then served an eviction notice and the Office of Housing applied to VCAT for possession, alleging TK had used his flat for the illegal purpose of trafficking heroin.

TK's lawyers argued the eviction was a breach of his right to a home under the Charter of Human Rights and that it could not be proved he was using the flat to traffick heroin.

Ms Lambrick found a landlord's need to ensure premises are not used for illegal purposes was an important limitation of the Charter's right to a home. However, she also found the Director of Housing had not proven TK used his flat for an illegal purpose. [????]

Ms Lambrick found it was not enough that a premises be the scene of a crime, saying it must be deliberately used for an illegal purpose. "There must be some real connection between the use of the rented premises and the illegal activity alleged. It is not sufficient that there be a passing connection," she said.


Cardinal Pell challenges hate speech emanating from homosexual marriage campaigners

AUSTRALIA'S most senior Catholic cleric, Cardinal George Pell, has tentatively agreed to a meeting with gay marriage campaigners. That is if they first declare that not all opposition to same-sex marriage is homophobic and discriminatory.

As both sides of the debate continue their public campaigns, Cardinal Pell has written a letter in response to a request from gay marriage campaigners for a formal meeting to discuss the issues polarising the community.

The official gay marriage campaign, Australian Marriage Equality, wrote to the Archbishop of Sydney on December 20 to discuss their concerns about a campaign by the Australian Catholic Church against same-sex marriage.

Cardinal Pell surprised gay marriage supporters with a reply on December 22 saying a meeting might be possible. But he wanted a guarantee first that the church's position would not be depicted as hateful. "It would help me in considering your request for a meeting to receive an assurance that you . . . do not regard opposition to same-sex marriage in itself as a form of prejudice and discrimination, and that you are prepared to say this publicly.

"I am grateful for your request for a meeting to discuss these matters and am open to considering such a meeting," he wrote. "I can offer you no assistance on the second reason you have asked for this meeting (to prevent Catholic clergy from actively campaigning against same-sex marriage), and on most of the substantive matters I expect we will have to agree to disagree. "But it is always good to talk whenever this might be helpful."

Cardinal Pell said he was prepared to meet a same-sex couple who have been civilly married in another jurisdiction if a Catholic married couple could also be present "so that they can explain their concerns about same-sex marriage and what it might mean for the sort of commitment they have made".

In his letter in reply, Peter Furness, acting national convenor of the gay marriage campaign, said he would be happy for Cardinal Pell to be accompanied by a Catholic married couple.

A spokesman for the gay marriage campaign, Rodney Croome, told The Australian he was willing to concede that the Catholic Church did not intend to discriminate, meeting part of Cardinal Pell's demand for a meeting.


Another expensive Greenie bungle

THE State Government may suspend the installation of electricity smart meters while it reviews the embattled major project. Energy Minister Michael O'Brien will this month seek details on the cost and legal implications of delaying the rollout ahead of an audit of the $2 billion system.

A full review of potential improvements and whether it is worth dumping the scheme for an alternative will be commissioned amid concerns that consumer benefits have been overstated.

Every household and small business is paying to replace old meters with the digital technology, even before their installation. Mr O'Brien estimates families will be charged $900 each for meter hardware over the next 15 to 20 years. Outer suburban residents, including Broadmeadows, Sunbury and Craigieburn, will pay the highest charge, $109.68, this year.

Regulators have approved the lowest annual fee of $57.70 to be spread across quarterly bills, for outer north and eastern Victoria. So far, about 300,000 meters, which monitor consumption every half hour, have been fitted.

Mr O'Brien told the Herald Sun the new Government would press ahead with its election pledge for an unbiased audit of the program, which has been plagued with cost blowouts and allegations of mismanagement. "If there are skeletons in the closet, I want them on the table," Mr O'Brien said.

He assured householders they would not be forced on to "time of use" prices with high penalties for using peak power during the day and in summer and discounts for using electricity late at night.

The industry is likely to vigorously oppose a rollout suspension, arguing that changing contract arrangements will cost tens of millions of dollars.

The cost-benefit review, to take three to six months, will be the fourth since smart meters were mooted. "Like myki, so much money has already been invested in this program, the difficulties in going back to square one would be enormous," Mr O'Brien said.

The Department of Primary Industries said the meters would eventually reduce supply costs by removing manual reads, managing demand, restoring power faster after faults and blackouts and helping consumers control consumption and bills. "After the upgrade, Victorians will benefit from a better, more efficient system, which will keep the cost to supply electricity lower than it otherwise would have been," the DPI website reads.


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