Thursday, September 15, 2022

The snobby dark side of Australia's universities: How a State school student was 'humiliated' so badly at a university Open Day he almost gave up his dream of becoming a doctor

An interesting story. I think I need to put my sociologist's hat on to explain it. The Muslim guy obviously lacked social skills and awareness.

The early days at university are a time of uncertainty and some anxiety for most students. And they reassure themselves by hanging out with other freshers that they know -- usually from their old school. It is not snobbery. It is an adjustment to a new environment and experience.

So if you have no-one there that you know you are at a largely inescapable disadvantage -- as Mr Khan was. His prior environment did not prepare him for university. It was a new milieu for him.

I was in a similar sitution. I actually taught myself for the Senior exam so I knew nobody at university when I first went there. As it happens, that did not bother me. I was used to running my own race. But I did do what Mr Khan should have done: Join campus special interest groups. I met people that I became friendly with that way. I even joined a university army unit, which I enjoyed greatly. Approaching people you don't know out of the blue and with nobody or nothing to introduce you is just not British and will get you nowhere

A medical student has claimed his neighbourhood and the humble state high school background led to him being led to him being 'snobbed' at one of Australia's most prestigious universities.

The experience was so humiliating that Fahad Khan said it almost caused him to give up his dream of becoming a doctor.

In a TikTok video, which has almost 50K likes, third-year medical student Fahad Khan recalled his experience of attending Sydney University's Open Day as a year 12 student in 2016 from western Sydney.

Under the caption 'Getting snobbed @USyd Open Day as a person from Western Sydney' Fahad said the first thing he did was go to the medicine information session.

'I saw that there were two medical students, I think, and about 10 Year 12 students with them,' Fahad says. 'When I went close to them I heard them speaking about things like 'does Mr X still teach maths and does Mrs X still do that?' 'And they were all having a laugh and I went 'look they are all mates, that's like pretty nice'.'

The caption on the TikTok video changes to: 'This is why I believe there's parts of USyd with a toxic selective/private school culture' as Fahad describes trying to join in the conversation.

'I tried to say hello and they ignored me,' he says. 'And then I say it again... I say 'Hi my name's Fahad'. 'And they all turned around and they looked at me and then they looked away and one of the medical students was like 'oh, hi'.

'And then they all started talking about their high school again and I said 'what the hell? They just like kind of ignored me',' Fahad says.

'But I said 'You know what? The session is starting in five minutes, maybe this is just a group of mates and fair enough if they want to talk to their mates before they start talking to everyone, that's fine'.'

However, things did not improve when the session started. 'The first question they asked was 'Which high school did everyone go to?',' Fahad says. 'Most of them were James Ruse students, there was some Sydney Boys [High] and Sydney Girls. 'I was the only student from a non-selective non-private school.'

Fahad describes what happened next as 'unbelievable'. He said all those from the selective and private schools were taken to one side of the room to talk to the medical students while he was left alone on the other side.

'I asked them 'Am I coming? Am I also included in this?'

'And the medical student turned around to me and he was like 'Oh, there's like this third medical student going to come, you hang out with that person' and I was like 'What the hell?'.'

The third medical student did not show up.

Fahad decided he was 'going to force' himself into the experience. 'So, I went there and I sat with them, and I forced myself to sit with them and do what they were doing,' Fahad says.

'And I kid you not throughout the entire 100 per cent of the session they were talking about inside jokes from their high school.

'Whenever I asked a question like, 'How was first year? How was second year?' they were like, 'Oh yeah, it's alright'. 'Then they looked away and started talking about their high school again and I was like, 'What the hell is wrong with these people?'.'

Fahad said the experience was shattering. 'I remember leaving that session completely humiliated,' he says.

'Then on the train home I remember thinking about how my peers at school would laugh at me when I said I wanted to be a doctor and they would just say to me 'you know some dreams are out of reach'. 'That day almost made me believe I couldn't be a doctor.'

The comments underneath the video made it clear that Fahad's experience wasn't unique.

'I went through usyd med as one of the only non selective/public schooled/low SES students and it was so isolating being around so much privilege,' one wrote.

'Usyd was so toxic, I transferred there my 2nd uni year and the vast majority of people looked down on me for the area I came from,' another said.

'Definitely a superiority complex held by many students at usyd,' another wrote.

Fahad's story touched at least one person who said they were associated with the university.

'From someone that works at USYD: Really sorry you had to go through this man. Was heartbreaking to watch,' they wrote.


Pauline Hanson slams senator as an 'out-of-touch, pants-wetting Greenie' after tweet about Queen's 'racist' empire

Bravo for Pauline!

Pauline Hanson has launched another extraordinary attack on a Greens senator days after telling her to 'p**s off back to Pakistan'.

The One Nation leader took offence to Pakistani-born Greens deputy leader Mehreen Faruqi tweeting that she would not mourn the death of The Queen at the weekend.

'I cannot mourn the leader of a racist empire built on stolen lives, land and wealth of colonised peoples,' Senator Faruqi posted last Friday.

'We are reminded of the urgency of treaty with First Nations, justice and reparations for British colonies, and becoming a republic.'

Senator Hanson then launched her scathing attack on Senator Faruqi - which the Greens deputy leader says stirred up 'racist' hate speech against her.

The minor party deputy is planning to launch a parliamentary censure motion against Senator Hanson when the Senate returns, and is considering a formal complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

But Senator Hanson was undeterred by this - launching a second, stinging attack on Senator Faruqi.

'Mehreen Faruqi showed extremely poor judgment with her insensitive and highly offensive statement about The Queen, and as is so typical of pants-wetting Greens, now that she's been called out she's pretending to be a victim,' she said. 'It's classic "Karen" behaviour: all entitlement and no responsibility. Mehreen Faruqi is not a victim of anything.

'Faruqi is just another rich, privileged, out-of-touch Greenie faithfully executing her dear leader's strategy to disrespect and insult the institutions which have helped make Australia one of the most socially inclusive and diverse nations in the world. 'Including the very institutions which allowed her to come to Australia and make it her home.

Last year Senator Faruqi slammed the British empire for 'enslaving millions of black and brown people around the world'.

Senator Hanson, who once moved a motion in the Senate that it was 'ok to be white', earlier tweeted Senator Faruqi had taken advantage of everything Australia gave her.

'Your attitude appalls and disgusts me. When you immigrated to Australia you took every advantage of this country,' she wrote.

'You took citizenship, bought multiple homes, and a job in a parliament. It's clear you're not happy, so pack your bags and p**s off back to Pakistan.'


NIMBYs make housing unaffordable: Grattan Institute

Unfortunately for would-be new home owners, local councils often bow to NIMBYs

NIMBY campaigns have helped drive up house prices and rents, a leading economist has argued, as younger Australians are shut out of the market by opposition to high-density developments.

In a speech on Wednesday night, Grattan Institute economic policy director Brendan Coates said soaring house and land values “sit at the heart of some of Australia’s most pressing policy challenges”.

Coates said federal and state governments need to make tough decisions on housing policy to improve affordability as younger Australians struggle to get a foothold in the housing market.

“Either people accept greater density in their suburb or their children will not be able to buy a home, and seniors will not be able to downsize in the suburb where they live,” he said in his Henry George Commemorative Lecture.

“This is a problem we can fix, but only if we make the right choices.”

House values across the country had swollen to $10.1 trillion by March this year, driven by a record-low official cash rate of 0.1 per cent and aided by government concessions including HomeBuilder grants. While the property markets in NSW and Victoria have taken a $200 billion hit since the Reserve Bank started ratcheting up interest rates to counter high and rising inflation, prices remain above pre-pandemic levels.

One fix Coates proposes is an increase in medium or high-density development to meet demand.

“It is a myth that all new first-home buyers want a quarter-acre block. Many would prefer a townhouse, semi-detached dwelling, or apartment in an inner or middle suburb, rather than a house on the city fringe,” he said.

Zoning restrictions and local opposition to higher-density development is the problem, Coates said, with Reserve Bank research from 2020 estimating that restrictive rules added up to 40 per cent of the price of homes in Melbourne and Sydney.

“The key problem is that many states and local governments restrict medium- and high-density developments to appease local residents concerned about road congestion, parking problems, and damage to neighbourhood character,” he said.

“The politics of land-use planning – what gets built and where – favour those who oppose change. The people who might live in new housing – were it to be built – don’t get a say.”

Heading into the pandemic, this contributed to the lack of available housing with just over 400 homes per 1000 people, which Coates said was “among the least housing stock per adult in the developed world”.

That lack of housing hasn’t just affected home prices. Record low rental vacancy rates in cities and regional areas has helped drive asking rents to new levels.

“Less than 1 per cent of rental properties are currently vacant – the lowest level on record,” Coates said. “The typical asking rent on a new property is up nearly 14 per cent nationally over the past year.”

States have responsibility for land-use laws and planning, but Coates said the federal government “can and should help boost the supply of housing”.

“First, the most obvious way the federal government can materially reduce housing demand is by reducing the capital gains tax discount and abolishing negative gearing,” he said.

The government should pay states to build more housing, through targets for new construction and payments for exceeding those targets, but also help strengthen building codes to ensure developments are well-designed.

He also said more needs to be done to fix tenancy laws to make renting more attractive, including by helping tenants secure longer leases.


First multi-strain COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Australia after government backs Moderna shot

The federal government has approved a COVID-19 vaccine that specifically targets two coronavirus variants of concern, including the original Omicron strain.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the government had accepted a recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) on the use of a new Moderna vaccine as a booster shot for people aged 18 years and older.

The move marks the first time a multi-strain COVID vaccine — otherwise known as a bivalent vaccine — has been approved for use in Australia.

The new shot is already being used in other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom.

Unlike other approved vaccines, which only target the original Wuhan strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the bivalent one also targets the original Omicron BA.1 strain.

"This is an important first step in showing how mRNA vaccines can be adapted to different dominant variants and subvariants," Mr Butler said in a statement.

The first doses of the bivalent vaccine have already arrived in the country and will now undergo batch testing by Australia's medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

They will be introduced into the rollout as existing stocks of Moderna's already-approved COVID-19 vaccine are exhausted.

How effective is it?

The vaccines already in use in Australia provide protection from severe disease against Omicron subvariant infections, but ATAGI found Moderna's bivalent shot provides a modest improvement in the body's immune response.

All jabs provide significant protection from severe disease against Omicron subvariant infections.

Infectious disease physician and microbiologist Paul Griffin, from the University of Queensland, said the approval of the bivalent vaccine did not "detract from how well our original vaccines have worked".

"The virus has continued to change and so we need to update our vaccines accordingly," he said.

Infectious diseases expert Robert Booy said lab data showed this bivalent vaccine was helpful in preventing infection from all Omicron variants, over and above what existing vaccines are expected to provide.

"However we don't know about efficacy because that requires doing a study of many thousands of people, so we have to rely on the immunogenicity, the antibody production," he said.

"And we know that neutralising antibodies with the vaccine are high and protective against the common Omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5."

"But we can see that the vaccine is effective [and] worth having."

Professor Booy also said the bivalent vaccine could be used as a fifth shot in the future. "So if you've had four … you would have had the most recent one within the last few months, and that would protect you until at least Christmas," he said. "So it might be something you do in March or April, at the same time you get your flu jab."

Dr Griffin said it could also help keep Australians safe for some time to come. "The thought there is that it'll get better, broader cross-protection, maybe even against new emerging variants when they do arise," he said.


Anthony Albanese confirms extension of paid pandemic leave

Anthony Albanese says national cabinet has agreed to extend pandemic leave disaster payments beyond the scheme’s expiry on September 30.

The Prime Minister said payments will remain in place for “as long as mandatory isolation periods” are applied by states and territories.

The payments will continue to be co-funded by the federal and state governments, and revealed there has been $2.2bn in payments made.

Mr Albanese said Services Australia would crack down on payments, amid concern 2.6 per cent of claims triggered “real time fraud checks”.

Claimants will only be able to claim the payments three times over a six-month period, unless in “extraordinary” circumstances.

“There is some evidence that Services Australia identified that since July 20, 2022, 2.6 per cent of all claims received triggered real-time fraud checks in the system and of those, more than 50 per cent were subsequently rejected and some 15 per cent were subsequently withdrawn by the claimant.

“Services Australia data indicates also that over the six months to the 30 June 2022, claims made by individuals who claimed more than once, of these, about 13 per cent were claimed four or more times, that is a claim every 6.5 weeks or more.”


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