Thursday, March 24, 2022

Walgett Community College has been notoriously violent for years. Why hasn't that changed?

This is a rather pathetic piece of elephantine invisibility. Both Walgett and its school have a large Aboriginal population. And, largely because of the sense of grievance instilled into them by Leftists, Aborigines in isolated communities tend to be angry people who act out their anger. With other Aboriginal communities only an enhanced police presence has served to calm things down. Walgett needs that too. A police presence in schools is common in America. It is needed in the Walgett school as well

Walgett Community College, the only high school in the northern NSW town of 2,145, has seen 20 principals come and go over the past 15 years

But there is high turnover among the student population too, with young kids witnessing and being subjected to acts that have left them traumatised and unwilling to return.

Felicity Forbes, now 15, said she had never experienced a panic attack in her life before she started high school, but that changed within her first week at the college.

"There was a lockdown, everyone was stationed up against the wall," the 15-year-old said. "The main kid in the situation was very violent. "It was terrifying as an 11-year-old to be seeing those kinds of things.

"During a lockdown there's constant beeping. "Students are told to pull blinds down, lock doors and have no interaction with anyone outside."

Felicity developed severe anxiety during her four years at the school and now, along with her sister, is learning at home via distance education.

Now in Year 11, Felicity says hearing an alarm tone or the sound of something smashing can trigger a panic attack — and that she is struggling to catch up with the curriculum.

"It definitely impacted my education," she said. "When there was a lockdown, that would usually be it for the day."

Slammed onto concrete

Another Walgett student, 16-year-old Anicia Brown, left town after being bashed at school. "Anicia's about 1,500 kilometres away with my parents in Emerald, central Queensland," her mother Kylie McKenzie said. "She was assaulted at school twice.

"To have to basically get her out of town so that she could live a normal teenager's life without the worry of being bashed is really hard. "It was hard on her and it was hard on us, but we've had to do it for her mental health."

Ms McKenzie says she has seen a video of her daughter being attacked by students after school. "They threw her down on the concrete, they had hold of her head and were kicking into her," she said. "It was really horrible and she was terrified.

"Her mental health has been absolutely shot, knowing that if she comes home, she's being told, 'We're going to get you'."

A fight 'nobody wants'

Parents say an independent investigation must be undertaken to stop the cycle of disadvantage, and say they do not understand why the college's issues have gone unaddressed for so long.

Sick of waiting, Felicity's mum Rebecca Trindall is campaigning for students to be able to attend school in Lightning Ridge.

She wants legislation to change to allow out-of-area enrolments and a direct bus route for the 150-kilometre round trip.

"It seems that nobody wants to be part of this fight," Ms Trindall said. "I think it might turn into a race issue, but let's be clear — it's not about being black or white. "It's a community issue, it's an education issue.

"These kids deserve better — Walgett needs a high school, but they need to clean it out. "They need to get it right, because we're losing precious time."

NSW Department of Education data shows 149 students were enrolled at the high school in 2021. Only two attended the school for 90 per cent or more of the year.

Ms Trindall said a lack of funding was not to blame and said she wanted the efficacy of the programs at the school to be investigated. "The money's there, the programs are there," she said. "Where are the outcomes? Where's the change?

"I look forward to a full investigation, because it's actually disgusting to have all the resources and no outcomes."

No comment from Minister

State MP Roy Butler is backing the calls for an independent review. He says his correspondence with NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has been "fluffy".

"She says, 'Yes, we're working on fixing it, we're addressing the problems'," Mr Butler said. "But on the ground, for those teachers, students and parents — they're not seeing those changes."

Mr Butler said an investigation would be best led by someone who understood the system and had lived experience.

"Education would contract the suitable person, terms of reference would be established in consultation with the Department of Education and community," he said.

"The person I would suggest is a retired principal who would be arm's length from department."

Mr Butler said it would take an "independent set of eyes to get to the bottom of it".

"Ask the staff — 'Where is it going wrong? Where are the blockages?'," he said.

"Why are we stuck here and why have we been stuck here for so long?"

Ms Mitchell and the Department of Education declined interview requests.

In a statement, an education department spokesperson said the department was committed to providing staff and students with a high-quality local school.

"In partnership with the local community, we are committed to resolving some unique challenges the school is facing," the spokesperson said.


Queensland Ambulance paramedics’ struggle revealed in Right to Information release

Paramedics sleeping at stations, patients waiting almost 11 hours, officers so tired they require a “welfare check” – welcome to Queensland’s ambulance anarchy.

Exhausted paramedics have been stood down from shifts due to fatigue, left to sleep at their station and forced to use personal cars due to an ambulance shortage as Queenslanders wait hours for assistance, documents reveal.

An almost 1000-page Right to Information dossier has revealed significant incidents of ramping and patients waiting almost 11 hours for an ambulance as Queensland Ambulance Service paramedics struggle to keep up with demand.

QAS station operations briefs, released to the Opposition through a Right to Information request, detail significant challenges at Southport where patients faced significant delays for several days.

A shift report for October 3 reveals 30 code 2A patients were waiting for an ambulance, the longest for 10.5 hours.

The dossier reveals several incidents where paramedics were told to expect delays due to ramping at hospitals, leaving patients waiting several hours for assistance.

On several occasions paramedics were stood down from their shift due to fatigue, and one incident noted a “welfare check” was done on a tired officer who needed to sleep at the station before driving home.

It comes as quarterly hospital performance figures for the October to December quarter revealed little change, with 74 per cent of patients seen within clinically-recommended time frames – a one per cent drop on the previous quarter.

Statewide emergency department presentations rose 9 per cent to 640,258 during the final quarter of last year.

Logan has the highest rate of ambulance ramping in southeast Queensland, with 55 per cent of ambulances left waiting outside hospitals.

In the Redlands ramping has increased 18 per cent on the previous quarter, with one in two now ramped.

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said the state government had failed to address problems within Queensland Health despite acknowledging there was a problem.


Liberal-led council threatens not to collect bins with anti-Morrison stickers

Philip Ruddock’s Hornsby Shire Council has threatened not to collect the rubbish of residents with anti-Scott Morrison stickers on their bins after receiving a complaint from an “offended” neighbour.

The stickers feature photographs of Mr Morrison holding a lump of coal in Parliament, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, and are accompanied by captions such as “bin him” and “chuck them out”.

They were originally produced by the Smart Energy Council – whose board includes climate campaigners Simon Holmes a Court and Oliver Yates – until an intervention by the charities regulator. They are now disseminated by a separate company run by a Smart Energy Council employee.

Asquith resident Peter Rickwood affixed the stickers to his wheelie bins earlier this year. In recent weeks he received a letter from Hornsby Shire Council warning he was obscuring the council’s logo on the bins, and it was “not appropriate” to use council property to convey political messages.

The letter, signed by council’s waste manager Chris Horsey, said Mr Rickwood must remove the stickers or “you risk council’s collection contractor not servicing your bins as they cannot identify council’s logo on the bin”. It also warned the council may remove the stickers or replace the bins entirely.

Mr Rickwood said he found the letter “a bit weird given there are plenty of other people who have stickers on their bins”, such as those supporting football teams.

“It seems a bit odd that they’re suddenly choosing to police this no-sticker policy when it happens to be political,” he said.

A Hornsby Shire Council spokesperson said the council did not allow unauthorised signage to be applied to its assets, including bins, bus shelters or buildings. The council had only sent one letter to one resident about this particular issue, the spokesperson said.

“The matter was brought to our attention through a complaint from a resident who was offended by the content of the signage. However, this rule would apply to signage of any type applied to council assets where a complaint is made,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Ruddock, the Liberal mayor of Hornsby, is also the NSW Liberal Party president and was a long-serving minister in the Howard government, including as attorney-general.

He said the intervention was not his decision, nor was it a decision made by councillors – but the bins were council property and it was “quite inappropriate” for residents to decorate them with political propaganda.

“Put it on your front letterbox,” Mr Ruddock suggested. “Political advertising should not be undertaken except when there’s an election on, and there’s no election on yet. [Also] we don’t believe they should do it on council property.”


Unemployment payments plunging to historic low

Australia’s unemployment welfare bill is set to plummet, with next week’s budget revealing ­almost 200,000 fewer people claiming the dole by 2023 than forecast last year, as the government frames an election contest with Labor over spending ­restraint and budget repair.

In an interview with The Australian, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the number of JobSeeker recipients was projected to hit historically low levels.

Senator Birmingham on Tuesday also left the door open to a temporary cut to fuel excise as a bowser fix for cost-of-living pressures and hinted that the pandemic-induced $1 trillion debt bill would be avoided.

While the federal government last year legislated a rise in Jobseeker payments of $50 a fortnight, the overall taxpayer burden was forecast to fall. JobSeeker numbers were on track to dip under pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022-23, with the unemployment rate expected to drop under 4 per cent within months.

“In terms of JobSeeker numbers, and therefore JobSeeker payments as a share of payments and share of the economy, we are trending towards historic lows in the amount that other taxpayers are having to contribute towards the safety net for Australians out of work,” Senator Birmingham said.

“That is one of the funda­mental dividends of a strong economy: that low unemployment rates give us the double bonus of lower payments on ­social safety net and higher revenue from Australians contributing and therefore paying taxes as part of those contributions.”




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