Thursday, April 27, 2023

Federal MP Marion Scrymgour backs ‘safe school’ for Indigenous children in Alice Springs

A realistic proposal at last

Northern Territory federal Labor MP Marion Scrymgour has backed moves by Alice Springs principal Gavin Morris to get Indigenous children off the streets and into the classroom by providing safe accommodation for them at school.

Ms Scrymgour will meet Dr Morris as early as Saturday to work through issues needed to fast-track the groundbreaking proposal for a residential facility – part of it secure – for students and says she will push federal Education Minister Jason Clare to consider using funding earmarked for education in Central Australia.

A proposal commissioned by Dr Morris for his Yipirinya School by building consultants Donald Cant Watts Corke estimates a total building cost of $12m for four cottages housing 24 students with staff accommodation in the same units.

Ms Scrymgour said the plans were essential in order to get youth “re-engaged” in the education system.

“We can’t have another generation that becomes illiterate and disengaged from the system and then just ends up on the scrap heap,” she said. “We’ve got to give young people some hope that they can live somewhere safely but they need to re-engage in the school system.”

The development comes after Dr Morris revealed in The Australian how children are sometimes returned to school in handcuffs or wearing ankle bracelets and how a 12-year-old and his mates led teachers on a wild pursuit through the town in a stolen minibus.

NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles declined to respond directly to questions about Dr Morris’s proposal but said the Territory government would “stand up two facilities that families can go to when they are displaced and in need of support services. This is to ensure we can get these families back on their feet, back to community or into longer-term accommodation and kids back to school.”

Yipirinya School has more than 200 Indigenous students from the town camps and outstations of Alice Springs, catering for some of the most disadvantaged students in the nation.

The school was founded by Indigenous elders and teaches in four Indigenous languages.

Ms Scrymgour said that what Dr Morris was proposing should be supported but called for the accommodation to be built in a separate location than the grounds of Yipirinya, accessible to all students in Alice Springs.

She proposed a central facility that other high schools could “feed into”, and allowing it to be resourced with government and non-government agencies.

“Centralian High in Alice Springs (also) has issues with kids needing somewhere to stay,” she said. “If you’re going to have a boarding facility for some of these kids I think it shouldn’t be attached to any one school … there’s a real need in Alice Springs.”

Dr Morris said he would be delighted to work with Ms Scrymgour to come up with a viable proposal,” he said. “I’m very flexible in making sure that we work with people like Marion to ensure that we get a solution and we get action.

“I’m happy to explore actions that might not necessarily be on the Yipirinya school site, but also acknowledging this request has come from our key Elders, from community, it’s not my idea.”

Yipirinya School Principal Gavin Morris says what’s being seen more of is a crisis in the community around young… children participating in anti-social behaviour as a result of what’s going on in their surroundings. “There’s a growing cohort, a growing number of families in crisis – they’re at More
Ms Scrymgour said she would also support a secure facility in Alice Springs for young people as an alternative to the controversial Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin.

“When we’re talking about youth crime, if the kids aren’t going to be sent to Don Dale, but to get them off the streets and as part of their bail conditions, they need to go into a secure facility,” she said. “There is no facility in Alice Springs for that to happen.”

Ms Scrymgour said she would meet with Dr Morris “as early as Saturday” to come to a solution.

“The one minister I’d like to bring in on this is (federal education minister) Jason Clare … there was some money that was earmarked for education in the central Australian plains, so I want to just talk through some stuff with Gavin, and then maybe have a chat with Jason Clare ...” She also called for a similar project to be looked at in Katherine, three hours southeast of Darwin


Class action lawsuit over Covid vaccine injuries targets the Australian government: 'There has been a cover-up'

A landmark Covid-19 vaccine injury class action lawsuit has been filed against the Australian government and the medicines regulator.

The nation-wide suit, which reportedly has 500 members including three named applicants, seeks redress for those allegedly left injured or bereaved by the Covid-19 vaccines.

One of the applicants who suffered a severe heart condition after getting the Pfizer jab is even claiming there was 'cover-up' during the vaccine rollout which hid the potential risks.

The federal government, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Department of Health - in addition to a number of senior public servants - are all named as parties to the class action, which was filed in the New South Wales Federal Court on Wednesday.

The named parties are accused of negligence in their approval and monitoring of Covid-19 vaccines, breach of statutory duty and misfeasance in public office.

The lawsuit was organised by Queensland GP Dr Melissa McCann who raised over $105,000 through crowd funding. 'These injured and bereaved have suffered immense loss, pain and grief,' Dr McCann tweeted.

'Just as heartbreaking has been the gaslighting and silence, which has left them feeling abandoned. We cannot simply 'move on' from covid and leave them behind.'

Dr McCann has been critical of the existing compensation scheme, claiming it was 'not fit for purpose'.

'Many vaccine-injured Australians who cannot access compensation through the Services Australia scheme now find themselves abandoned, with no support,' Dr McCann said.

The size of the compensation claim being sought is not yet clear.

The TGA has been contacted for comment.

The TGA’s latest health safety report, published on 20 April, reveals that adverse risks are extremely low. here were 138,307 total adverse event reports from nearly 66 million vaccine doses administered - a rate of just 0.2 per cent.

'The protective benefits of vaccination far outweigh the potential risks,' the report states.

The medicines regulator has identified a total of 14 reports where the cause of death was linked to vaccination and said there was no new vaccine-related deaths identified since 2022.

'The TGA closely monitors reports of suspected side effects (also known as adverse events) to the COVID-19 vaccines,' it said.

'This is the most intensive safety monitoring ever conducted of any vaccines in Australia.'

But instructing solicitor Natalie Strijland, of Brisbane law firm NR Barbi, said the action would argue the TGA caused considerable harm and damage by failing to regulate the COVID-19 vaccinations properly.

The class action names three applicants, one of whom is 41-year old father-of-two Gareth O'Gradie.

Mr O'Gradie, a teacher from Melbourne, was left with a 20-centimetre scar down his chest after developing severe pericarditis — inflammation of the lining around the heart — following his first Pfizer vaccination in July 2021.

He did not respond to various medications and therapies and in February 2022 doctors performed open heart surgery to remove his the pericardial sac lining his heart.

The TGA said myocarditis and pericarditis were 'usually temporary conditions, with most people getting better within a few days', noting that the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) 'continues to emphasise that the protective benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the rare risk of these side effects'.

But Mr O'Gradie believes there has been 'misinformation about the safety' of the vaccines from the government. 'I think there has been some cover-up,' he told

'There was a lot of, you know, 'We need to not scare the public as part of the vaccine rollout, so let's not publicise these things.' There was a large, intentional withholding of information — that doesn't give people informed consent.'

He claimed that he was 'totally not or never have been anti-vaccine'. 'I'm pro-science, I'm well educated,' he said.

Mr O'Gradie told The Australian that he was worried about the 'anti-vaccine lobby piggybacking' on the class action.

He is joined by two other lead claimants: Antonio Derose, 66, who developed encephalomyelitis (inflammation in the brain and spinal cord) following his AstraZeneca jab and Anthony Rose, 47, who claims severe cognitive impairment and chronic fatigue following his Moderna vaccination.

The existing compensation scheme, which is open to Australians who 'suffer a moderate to severe impact following an adverse reaction to a TGA-approved COVID-19 vaccine', has been heavily criticised for being difficult to access and too narrowly focused.

As of April 12, Services Australia had received 3501 applications and paid 137 claims totalling more than $7.3 million. Another 2263 claims are still in progress, while 405 have been withdrawn and 696 deemed not payable.


Queensland’s top 150 high schools ranked by Better Education

Note that of all schools that got ratings of 99 or 100 only 2 out of 25 were State schools and both of those had selective admission

More than 30 public schools have been named alongside some of the state’s powerhouse colleges to be ranked in Queensland’s top 150.

Independent schools specialist website Better Education has revealed Queensland’s best schools a compilation of both government and private schools between years 7-10.

The selective Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology retained the top spot in 2022 with a perfect score of 100. The Toowong-based school had full marks for English and Maths.

It was closely followed by Brisbane Grammar School, Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Brisbane State High School, Somerset College, Ormiston College, Whitsunday Anglican School and St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School all with perfect scores.

Whitsunday Anglican School, which charges about $12,000 at a fraction of those in the top 10, was the only school from outside of the South East pocket.

Some of the top public schools included Mansfield State High School, Indooroopilly State High School and Brisbane and Cairns schools of distance education.

Some of the most improved schools included Ipswich Grammar School which went from 28 to 13, Redeemer Lutheran College (39 to 22) and the Brisbane School of Distance Education (111 to 37).

Cairns School of Distance Education, Mount Gravatt State High School, Northpine Christian College and Coolum State High School were all new entries for 2022.

Better Education’s list is based on Year 9 results with English and Maths rated out of five and the overall academic performance with three rating scales.

Better Education is an independently-run site that aims to provide “informative and comparative school performance … to parents wanting to make ­choices about schooling for their children”.


Warren Mundine: The Voice to Parliament isn’t what Aboriginal people want

People campaigning for a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous Voice will tell you Aboriginals overwhelmingly support it.

This argument works because it tugs at the heartstrings of well-meaning Australians who feel voting ‘Yes’ is what Aboriginals want.

It also discourages debate, implies voting ‘No’ is ignoring Aboriginal people, possibly racist, and wrongly conflates a ‘Yes’ vote with ‘doing the right thing’. I don’t believe this claim.

Let’s start with the supposed claim that 80 per cent of Aboriginals support the Voice based on an Ipsos poll in January. The poll was commissioned by the Uluru Dialogue, the lobby group for the Uluru Statement. And it surveyed only 300 people.

I guess it depends which 300 people you speak to.

I’ve personally spoken to well over 300 Aboriginals from all over Australia, including from remote and regional Australia. Almost without exception, all have told me they either oppose the Voice, don’t understand it (or haven’t even heard of it) or are deeply cynical about it.

The only Aboriginals I know who support it are academics and lawyers, people from the organisations campaigning for it and some city-based, affluent Aboriginals whose views usually mirror other city-based, affluent Australians, so that’s hardly a surprise.

Last month ABC reporters travelled to three remote Aboriginal communities, Kaltukatjara, Warakurna and Cosmo Newbury, who have a combined Aboriginal population of 474 according to the last census.

Most people in those communities had no idea about the Voice or whether it would really help them.

One community leader said they “got a shock” when the ABC arrived because they’d never heard of the Voice.

Another said “What I’m really asking is: if they will come and talk to us and if they will explain?”

So, it’s unlikely his community will have a direct line to anything, except more bureaucrats.

Voice supporters also cite consultations for the Uluru Statement and the Co-Design Report. On its first day, the Joint Select Committee on the Voice Referendum heard this was “the most proportionately significant consultation process that has ever been undertaken with First Peoples”.

I believe this consultation was fundamentally flawed and designed to exclude dissenting views.

The so-called Uluru Statement was adopted at a gathering of 250 delegates at a Yulara Resort. I and others have spoken to AŠĻČangu elders angry it was named for their country saying it’s not their culture. Some delegates walked out saying, “It’s not a dialogue, it’s a one-way conversation. Every time we try and raise an issue, our voices are silenced”.

Delegates were hand-picked from 12 ‘Dialogues’ and one ‘Information Day’ over the previous 6 months. The Referendum Council says attendance was by invitation only which “ensured” each session reached consensus.

I take this to mean dissenting opinions were deliberately avoided. Referendum Council Co-Chair, Pat Anderson, reinforced my view recently when she said “naysayers” were intentionally excluded.

Over half the sessions were in capital cities even though only 37% of Indigenous people live in capital cities (in the NT, only 24%). Sessions were capped at 100 attendees: 60% for First Nations/traditional owner groups and another 40% for community organisations and “key individuals”. We don’t know how many of the 40% were Indigenous. But we do know that, at most, fewer than 0.25% of Indigenous adults were consulted in group discussion settings mostly held in locations where most Indigenous Australians don’t live.

The original remit of the Referendum Council was to advise on constitutional recognition. Attendees thought that’s what they’d been invited to discuss. A national representative advisory body isn’t what most people think of when they think about constitutional recognition. We’ve no idea when or how the idea of a “Voice” emerged in those sessions with no published transcripts or minutes. I’m aware of some attendees who don’t recall it being discussed at all.




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