The lunch rush had begun.
In the kitchen, silver cafeteria trays were stacked with small dishes of homemade pickled vegetables, then sent out to a breezy dining area filled with Koreans, Western expatriates and a handful of sunburned tourists who had wandered in after visiting the nearby Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. ...
Cambodia Daily [1/8/15]
What is this supposed to achieve - other than a waste of barbed wire? ----> Disoriented, herded, controlled, displaced. Two Canberra artists Denise Higgins and Gary Smith are aiming to recreate some of the experiences of asylum seekers in Australia with a maze made of barbed wire and mirrors. The ambitious project will transform the 140-square-metre Canberra Contemporary Art Space Gallery, with mirrors making it appear five to 10 times larger. ... [Canberra Times - 24/8/15]
Another pointless gabfest while men, women, children are being tortured, abused and disappeared in Australia's refugee concentration camps:
Refugees: A New Era of Forced Displacement
Monday 08 Sep 2014 6:00–7:30PM
A discussion of the current global displacement situation, the changing humanitarian landscape confronting UNHCR and the international community, and the operational challenges and dilemmas facing humanitarian actors today.
The forum will explore the shared responsibility to respond to the crises around the world, and then take a more indepth look at some of UNHCR’s key operations in our region - the different caseloads the agency assists in Asia and the Pacific.
Australia stopped accepting UNHCR refugees in October 2014.
Enough: Australian citizen calls for an end to mandatory detention and a Royal Commission into all aspects of Australia's refugee policy from 1992 onwards
I call on government and opposition politicians to acknowledge their role in the torture, refoulement exile and death of refugees, and to immediately cease these activities.
I reject the “stop the boat”, “deterrence” and “resettlement” policy as lies.
Recent allegations of torture, rape and the ongoing traumatisation of asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru are untenable.
Unfair and unjust deportations of Manus refugees participating a legal challenge to their detention in the PNG Supreme Court are also unacceptable.
Asylum seekers currently incarcerated offshore must be immediately brought to Australia so their claims can be assessed.
All funding to the IOM must be ceased and the UNHCR reinstated as the primary referal agency.
Australia must apologise to PNG and Nauru, begin fulfilling its obligations under the UN Refugee Convention, and accepting its regional responsibilities.
Attempted murder charge, Warana
QPS Media [24/8/15]:
A man has been charged overnight following a serious assault that occurred in Warana.
Police were called to a residence on Nicklin Way around 7.20pm following reports that a woman had been stabbed.
On arrival, a 41-year-old woman was found with a large laceration to her mouth, and she was transported to Nambour Hospital and is being treated for non-life threatening injuries.
A man was taken into custody at the scene.
A 45-year-old Warana man has been charged with one count of attempted murder and is due to appear in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court today.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
PSPA revoked, Molendinar
QPS Media [24/8/15]:
Police have revoked an emergency situation that was declared last night in Molendinar.
The emergency situation was declared at 9.05pm when police were responding to an armed man making threats at a residence on Rosegum Drive.
The situation was resolved peacefully and the Public Safety Preservation Act (PSPA) declaration was revoked when a man was taken into custody at 12.22 this morning.
Investigations are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Pair escape house fire in Townsville
Brisbane Times [24/8/15]:
One person has been taken to hospital after escaping a house fire in Townsville.
A woman, 50, and a man, 20, were inside the home on Castle Hill when the fire broke out, just before 9am on Monday.
Both were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene and one was taken to hospital, a Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman said.
Fire crews have extinguished the blaze, which was contained to one room.
Former West Coast Eagles champion Daniel Kerr who fronted a Perth court over allegedly breaching a violence restraining order against his ex-partner had his case adjourned again. ... [WA Today - 24/8/15]
Property search for missing Gold Coast father
Detectives investigating the suspected murder of Gold Coast man Gregory Dufty are searching a property at Gaven.
Mr Dufty, 37, was last seen on July 6 when police believe he parked at a seafood restaurant before being taken to the dead-end Nathan Homestead Road, at Mt Nathan, in a Mack truck.
Investigators began searching a property about 12km away at Rosalie Court, Gaven, on Monday morning.
Nicholas Collins moaned, cried and had his eyes shut with duct tape as he was bashed to death with a hammer.
Almost three years later, the woman who helped dump his body in far north Queensland has sobbed as she described the bloody scene of his death. ... [Yahoo - 24/8/15]
A cattle station owner sentenced to life in jail for killing a gold prospector on his remote Cape York station will appeal his murder conviction. ... [Yahoo - 24/8/15]
Mounted police have joined detectives in South Australia in an effort to locate more clues in the search to identify an unknown girl's remains found in a suitcase in July.
The unidentified young girl's remains were found on July 14 in a faded suitcase by the Karoonda Highway, around 2km west of Wynarka.
Today Task Force Mallee will conduct a search along the Karoonda Highway between Wynarka and Tailem Bend, looking for any evidence that may be relevant. ... [Nine MSN - 24/8/15]
Toowoomba teenager denies joining al-Qaida in Syria
Queensland teenager Oliver Bridgeman has denied any links to an al-Qaida affiliated militia in Syria, claiming he crossed into the war-ravaged country to “do what I can to help people”.
Speaking to Guardian Australia from an undisclosed location in Syria, the 18-year-old, who left Toowoomba in March, said he hoped to return to Australia one day, maintaining “I haven’t done anything wrong”.
Bridgeman deferred university in March to work for a Balinese charity, where he spent a month before departing for Turkey. In April, he was smuggled over the Syrian border.
The UK-born teenager, who converted to Islam two years ago, told the Guardian he was motivated by the plight of Syrian civilians.
“Islam teaches us to help the needy, so this is my Islamic obligation. I must help these people, we need to do something,” he said.
The border where he crossed was packed with displaced Syrians leaving the country. He said he was alone, with no one waiting on the other side.
The behaviour of the partygoers, which up until police arrived to shut down the party, had not been a problem.
West Australian [24/8/15]:
The 20-year-old host of an out-of-control party in Balga at the weekend claims that, while his gathering was big, police used unnecessary force to shut it.
Sahr Koroma, 20, held the party in the backyard of his home on Garnett Place on Saturday night to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
Mr Koroma said he had expected about 300 people at the party.
He said police arrived about 8pm to order him to turn down the music.
A police spokesman said officers advised the organiser that the party would need to be closed and all attendees were moved to the front of the property, where they began to create a disturbance.
The back windscreen of a Morley police vehicle was smashed when a reveller threw a full bottle.
Mr Koroma said he respected the law but police appeared to be more concerned with noise than the behaviour of the partygoers, which up until police shut the party had not been a problem.
Fence knocked over at "out of control" party in Melbourne [Nine MSN - 23/8/15]
Man charged with "serious assault police", Cairns [Yahoo - 24/8/15]
Wrongfully imprisoned Roseanne Beckett says case against her a 'disgrace' as she's finally awarded $2.3 million in damages [Nine MSN - 24/8/15]
Armed robbery charges, Brisbane City [QPS Media - 24/8/15]
Theft of property from local hospitals, South Brisbane [QPS Media – 24/8/15]
Serious traffic crash, Coppabella
QPS Media [24/8/15]:
Forensic Crash Unit investigators are appealing for public assistance as they continue to investigate a serious three-vehicle traffic crash at Coppabella last week.
Around 3.40am on Thursday August 20, a dual cab utility was travelling north on the Peak Downs Highway when it struck a fuel tank attached to a truck travelling south.
It then struck a four-wheel-drive travelling south behind the truck head-on.
The 50-year-old female driver of the four-wheel-drive sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to Mackay Base Hospital in a critical condition.
The 25-year-old male driver of the utility was transported to Mackay Base Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
The 56-year-old male truck driver was uninjured.
appealing for anyone who was travelling on the Peak Downs Highway in the area at
the time or any motorists who may have witnessed the vehicles prior to the crash
to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
A young man died and another man was seriously injured after a truck collided with a car near Northam on Monday morning.
It is understood a Ford Falcon and a semi-trailer slammed into each other on Great Eastern Highway, 15 kilometres east of Northam just after 5.30am. ... [WA Today - 24/8/15]
Boat flips at dangerous, inappropriate and environmentally destructive event, Gold Coast
Nine MSN [23/8/15]:
Two power boat racers were lucky to escape unscathed after a terrifying crash at over 150km/h during an open ocean race on the Gold Coast.
Competing in the 2015 UIM XCAT World Series, championship leaders Team Dubai were flying across the water in Moreton Bay during a speed run on the opening day of the event when their powerboat hit some chop and became airborne.
The boat flipped over, hitting the water nose first, before slamming onto its roof in a spectacular explosion of water and giving racers Arid Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi an almighty jolt inside.
Rescue crews immediately sprung into action to ensure the safety of the crew with the pair helped aboard a safety vessel.
But remarkably, Al Zaffain and bin Hendri were unhurt, with repairs on the boat beginning shortly after the accident.
The XCAT series involves 13 countries, with each craft piloted by a team of two and accompanied by a team of mechanics and supporters.
Greece: Opposition party head returns mandate to form government
The head of Greece's main opposition party is meeting the country's president to return his mandate to form a government after failing to find coalition partners following the prime minister's resignation and call for early elections.
Evangelos Meimarakis, head of the conservative New Democracy party, returned the mandate Monday after the three-day limit.
It now passes to the third-largest party in Parliament, a new group formed by "hardliners" who split from the governing radical left Syriza party last week.
Neither party was expected to be able to form a government, and early elections are most likely to be held on Sept. 20.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned on Thursday, just seven months into his four-year mandate, following a rebellion in his party over Greece's new bailout.
SYRIZA split: Left Platform to run for elections, it may even claim mandate to negotiate for a new Greek govenrment [Keep Talking Greece - 21/8/15]
Australian stock market loses $60 billion in one day of trade [Nine MSN - 24/8/15]
Britain reopens Tehran embassy [Reuters - 24/8/15]
A gunman who attacked passengers on a high-speed train in France two days ago is "dumbfounded" at having been taken for an Islamist militant and says he only intended to rob people on board because he was hungry, his lawyer said on Sunday.
As details emerged of the gunman's early adult life in Spain, lawyer Sophie David said her client -- now in detention near Paris -- also looked ill and malnourished. ... [Reuters - 23/8/15]
Beirut protests turn violent for second day as PM threatens to quit [Reuters – 23/8/15]
A blast ripped through a U.S. military base near Tokyo early Monday, triggering a fire, the Pentagon confirmed, noting that no injuries had been reported.
U.S. Navy Commander Bill Urban, a spokesman, said the explosion occurred at a building at the Sagami Depot in the city of Sagamihara, some 40 kilometers southwest of the Japanese capital.
Japanese firefighters said they were waiting for information from the U.S. side on what was stored in the warehouse before tackling the blaze.
“We are coordinating with U.S. fire units and we are waiting for people who know exactly what is inside to tell us what’s inside,” a duty officer at the Sagahimara fire bureau told AFP. ... [Japan Today - 24/8/15]
Young Japanese stage nationwide protests over Abe’s controversial security bills [Japan Times - 24/8/15]:
Thousands of young people rallied Sunday throughout Japan, protesting the controversial security bills that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to pass during the current Diet session.
Demonstrations and gatherings took place at more than 60 locations around Japan — in Hokkaido, Aichi, Osaka, Fukuoka and other prefectures — in response to a call by a group called Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy-s, or SEALDs.
The bills are now under deliberation at the Upper House, after being railroaded through the Lower House by the ruling coalition, sparking public opposition.
The bills would significantly expand the scope of missions overseas for which the Self-Defense Forces could be deployed. ...
Protesters have staged a sit-in outside the US embassy in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, to vent their anger at Washington’s hostile policies vis-à-vis Damascus. ... [Press TV - 24/8/15]
Hundreds protest Israeli separation wall in Beit Jala [Maan - 23/8/15]
A relatively heavy blast rocked northern Jawzjan province of Afghanistan earlier today, local officials said.
The blast took place in a market place in Shebarghan city with eyewitnesses in the area saying at least one person was killed and two others were wounded. ... [Khaama - 24/8/15]
37 "insurgents" killed in security operations in six provinces [Khaama - 24/8/15]
Afghan Ambassador summoned over death of Pakistani soldiers [TOLO News - 24/8/15]
Israel said to import $1 billion in oil from Iraqi Kurds [Times of Israel – 24/8/15]
ISIL destroys ancient temple in Syria's Palmyra [Al Jazeera – 24/8/15]
13 killed as Saudis continue bombing Yemen [Gulf Today - 24/8/15]
The Yemeni army, backed by popular committees, has taken control of at least two Saudi army bases in the border province of Jizan as Riyadh continues its military aggression against the impoverished Arab nation.
Local media reports said on Sunday that the Yemeni forces also seized three Saudi tanks and destroyed several other armored vehicles in retaliatory attacks in the same troubled region. One Saudi tank was also reportedly destroyed in the offensive. ... [Press TV - 23/8/15]
Suspected Boko Haram militants ambushed a convoy carrying the new head of the Nigerian army, the military says.
The ambush, which took place on Saturday in north-eastern Borno state, led to a clash in which one soldier and at least five militants were killed. ... [BBC - 23/8/15]
Tunisian Coast Guard rescues 124 refugees from drifting boat: Red Cross [Ahram - 23/8/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [23/8/15]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, four airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL structures, an ISIL armored truck and an ISIL bunker.
-- Near Hawl, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator
-- Near Raqqah, two airstrikes destroyed two ISIL excavators.
-- Near Ayn Isa, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL bunkers and an ISIL supply truck.
-- Near Washiyah, an airstrike had inconclusive results.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter, fighter-attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 17 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with the government of Iraq:
-- Near Baghdadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings, an ISIL bunker, an ISIL excavator and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
-- Near Rutbah, an airstrike destroyed two ISIL front-end loaders.
-- Near Beiji, two airstrikes struck one large and one small ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL buildings, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL improvised explosive device and an ISIL recoilless rifle.
-- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL mortar firing position and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Ramadi, two airstrikes struck an ISIL vehicle and destroyed two ISIL buildings.
-- Near Sinjar, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and an ISIL staging area and destroyed six ISIL fighting positions, four ISIL light machine guns and an ISIL building.
-- Near Tuz, five airstrikes destroyed 27 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL bunker, an ISIL rocket rail and an ISIL weapons cache.
Italian navy rescues 4,400 refugees off Libyan coast
The Italian navy organised the rescue of around 4,400 migrants in waters off the Libyan coast on Saturday, prompted by requests for help received from nearly two dozen boats, in one of the biggest multi-national operations so far.
Italy's coast guard said in a statement on Sunday that it had coordinated rescue efforts involving numerous vessels, including a Norwegian and an Irish ship as part of the European Union's Triton rescue mission.
@ItalianNavy [23/8/15]: #UltimOra #SAR nave Cigala Fulgosi ha terminato lo sbarco di 506 #migranti nel porto di #Augusta #MarinaMilitare
@guardiacostiera [23/8/15]: Ultimato soccorso a 3 gommoni. CP 320 e CP 302 della #GuardiaCostiera salvano in totale 300 migranti. Trasferiti su nave Dignity One
Médecins Sans Frontières receives ten people with wounds from Macedonian stun grenades [Media Release - 24/8/15]
TIME FOR THE LNP AND ALP TO BE HELD TO ACCOUNT.
CUT THE PARTISAN CRAP.
... Rather than forcing a populace to adhere to a particular state ideology, the general public in the United States is largely depoliticized through the influence of corporations over schools, higher education, and other cultural apparatuses.
The deadening of public values, civic consciousness, and critical citizenship are also the result of the work of anti-public intellectuals representing right-wing ideological and financial interests, a powerful corporate controlled media that are largely center-right, and a market-driven public pedagogy that reduces the obligations of citizenship to the endless consumption and discarding of commodities.
In addition, a pedagogy of historical, social, and racial amnesia is constructed and ciculated through a highly popular celebrity culture and its counterpart in corporate-driven news, television, radio, and entertainment to produce a culture of stupidity, censorship, and diversionary spectacles. ...
The plague of American authoritarianism, Henry Giroux [Counterpunch - 21/8/15]
Brisbane doctors have identified the rare bacterial infection that led to the death of an Iranian asylum seeker in the Australian Government's care.
Hamid Khazaei, 24, died in a Brisbane hospital last month after his leg became infected on Manus Island.
The infection was caused by a bacteria called chromobacterium violaceum, which can aggressively attack internal organs after entering the bloodstream, Lateline can reveal.
The bacteria is found in soil and stagnant water. The infection is rare with only about 200 reported cases in the world since the 1920s.
... I soon noticed that the most vague witness statements were written by security personnel within a few days of the riot.
The more incriminating statements were dated up to four months after the event.
I asked myself “How can anyone remember in such detail and with such clarity months after the event when the statements written only days after the evidence were so vague?”.
As a seasoned investigator I suspected fabrication and collaboration of evidence.
After making a few unofficial enquiries I learned that officers present at the riot were told to implicate more suspects as someone was to be made responsible for the riot.
It was then that the Bravo Camp detainees were randomly pointed out by officers.
Most claim they had had previous run-ins with the witnesses and believed thats why they were singled out. ...
... Immigration Minister Tony Burke says those responsible will be subject to the criminal laws of Nauru and could face severe penalties.
He has hinted that he could cancel or refuse a visa for those involved in the riots on the grounds of character.
"And now I can't prejudge that test before individual applications come to me, if I do it simply creates a legal problem with the possible overturning of my decision," he said.
"But I don't think it would take much guessing for people to work out how incidences like what we've seen overnight in Nauru reflect on character."
Manus refugees seek to stop forced, unjust deportation [PNG Loop - 20/8/15]
Visiting "undesirables" in refugee concentration camps expensive: Bowen defends Burke against Murdoch's selective expenditure attack
... Within the RPC there were service provider offices, a staff mess hall, and a parking lot and a separately cordoned camp for the men, also enclosed by temporary fencing and the perimeter of which was patrolled by Australian Wilson Customer Service Offers (CSOs). It was clear they were not to leave these confines. And if people weren't being processed, as indeed they weren’t – for months on end – then this was effectively their prison.
I found that the fire started as a peaceful demonstration by a large group of asylum seekers against a processing system that lacked logic or fairness. They had been in Nauru nine months and had still not received any processing decisions. Their lawyers who were due to arrive on island in July 2013 did not arrive and this sparked anger. The men wanted clarification regarding their future; they wanted to see a logical refugee processing system that offered them steps towards freedom. ...
Minister Tony Burke listens to asylum seekers during his tour of facilities in Nauru.
[DIAC - 26/7/13]
An investigation has found that Labor frontbencher Tony Burke has spent close to $2.2 million on overseas trips and other travel costs since mid-2008.
Labor frontbencher Tony Burke has defended spending almost $2.2 million of taxpayer funds on travel in seven years, including charter planes and flying on VIP jets.
News Corp reports on Monday that since mid-2008, the manager of opposition business and opposition finance spokesman had racked up almost $600,000 in overseas travel.
Mr Burke who was a minister in the Rudd and Gillard cabinets, is also a regular charter flight user, claiming more than $400,000 in domestic travel.
The investigation found that the Sydney MP, who led the attack on former speaker Bronwyn Bishop's hiring of a helicopter to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser, claimed more than $1.1 million on domestic fares, travelling allowance, car costs and family travel.
Mr Burke defended his costs, saying his roles as minister for agriculture, environment and immigration between 2007 and 2013 required extensive travel.
He hired cars and drove himself between meetings and visits when possible.
"These jobs cannot be done properly from behind a desk in Sydney and any minister not out engaging with community groups and taking a hands-on approach to their portfolio, isn't doing their job properly," he said in a statement.
Mr Burke said he was required to travel extensively in regional areas to conduct consultation on drought reform, environmental agreements and the Labor government's refugee resettlement agreements with Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
He also defended his office expenses, saying he had to relocate twice and always remained "well within the budgets allocated to all MPs".
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced a review into the parliamentary entitlements system which is expected to report back to the government in the first half of 2016.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said Mr Burke's duties as minister required significant travel.
"I dare say if you examined every member of parliament's travel since 2008, Tony Burke would not be top of the list," he told ABC radio.
Aide to Former Minister for Immigration Chris Bowen called asylum seekers
'undesirables' [Radio Australia -
AUDIO - 23/4/14]
Salvos staff condemn Nauru’s Cruel and degrading conditions [Pro Bono Australia – 24/7/13]:
... “We have worked alongside these asylum seekers since the opening of the NRPC when the men were first housed in tents. Brought them pedestal fans when the temperature within their tents soared to over 50 degrees. Used buckets to empty rivers of rainwater when the same temporary accommodation flooded during the wet season.
“We comforted men who were brought to Nauru in handcuffs by the Australian government under false pretences. We watched their numerous peaceful protests against the uncertainty of their future. We saw the scars of self-harm, and suicide attempts. We tried to motivate the hundreds of men on hunger strike to eat again.”
In an explosive SBS Dateline interview with whistleblower, Rod St George, a former senior detention manager on Manus Island said: “I have never seen human beings so destitute, so helpless, and so hopeless before. I took the position with every intent of making the place a safer environment but it proved quite rapidly to be an impossibility. In Australia, the facility couldn't serve as a dog kennel. The owners would be jailed.”
“We have good reason to believe that those asylum seekers arrested and detained in Nauruan jail will not be provided with legal representation. It is likely that a large number of those men arrested in the riot did not in fact act criminally. As such we advocate for everyone to be treated as innocent until proven guilty in a court.
This is especially pertinent given the comments of Minister Tony Burke already stating that visas may not be granted to those men arrested.
Malaysia finds mass graves of 24 possible Rohingya refugees on Thai border [Guardian 23/8/15]
Fate of Rohingyas in Bengal prisons hangs in balance [Huffington Post – 23/8/15]:
... While talking about the number of Rohingyas having registered as refugees under UNHCR and living in India, Shuchita Mehta, Public Information Officer of UNHCR India, said, "There are around 9,150 Rohingya refugees and 2,406 asylum seekers registered with UNHCR in India."
The state home ministry official too agreed with the views of UNHCR, and said, "They don't want to go back to Myanmar fearing they would be killed and most of them identify themselves as Bangladeshis so that they can be pushed back to the neighbouring country after serving jail term."
... The apartheid-like conditions that many Rohingya live in have forced tens of thousands to flee on overcrowded boats and headed for live elsewhere.
Many have died on these crowded boats, while others became victims of slave labour in various industries, including Thai fishing vessels.
Myanmar's appalling treatment of the Rohingya constitutes an early warning sign of genocide. ... [The Nation - 23/8/15]
There are more than 70000 Rohingya refugees in the concentration camps of Sittwe since 2012. Thein Sein Government's preplanned violence of 2012 caused more than 140000 IDPs. more than 70000 are in Sittwe IDP camps. Nearly 1 million Rohingya have been being kept in genocidal blockage by Thein Sein Government of Myanmar. ... via @Aungaungsittwe [23/8/15]
Allegations of violence, abuse in disability homes not referred to police
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Canberra Times [24/8/15]:
... Mr Comerford's case is one of two investigated by Fairfax Media in which the government has failed to properly tell police when its disability support workers are accused of assaults or other criminality.
The ACT government has instead either dealt with such claims in-house, or relied on private consultants to make discreet inquiries.
Serious questions have been raised about the handling of the two cases, which have angered both disabled residents who were allegedly assaulted and support workers who say false accusations ruined their careers.
In the first case, Mr Comerford and another client at Lyneham's Fairweather House group home were allegedly assaulted by a support worker, also the partner of a senior Disability ACT manager, in early 2014.
The allegations were not properly reported to police for 14 months, and the Comerford family believes the case was deliberately stalled.
It took media inquiries in June to prompt a proper referral to police and jump-start a delayed internal investigation that had failed to even interview the complainant, Gary Comerford, until last month.
In the second case, at the Burn Street group home in Downer, a support worker was sacked and two others suspended in 2012, largely on questionable evidence from a colleague made in a deeply divided workplace.
Their accuser made allegations of routine assaults, physical and verbal abuse, theft and fraud, and said one man had showered clients together and with a broom.
The claims were handed to a HR consultancy to examine rather than to police, despite the carers pleading for it to be handed to law enforcement, believing they were wrongly accused.
One says he wrote to Disability Minister Joy Burch and urged for police involvement. Ms Burch said neither she nor her directorate received that letter.
The woman who made the claims, Julie Vojneski, has now herself been charged with twice assaulting a profoundly disabled client at the same group home.
Jan Pfizner was one of the support workers accused by Ms Vojneski, and said the ordeal destroyed her career, despite being eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
"I went on sick leave, I was denied Comcare and I've virtually had a nervous breakdown," she said.
"I went back to the office for a little bit ... and I couldn't hack it at all, because once something like that happens to you, you know it's the biggest grapevine in the whole of Canberra. I felt that my reputation was ruined."
Disability ACT says it does not refer all reports of assault to police, only those where it has a "reasonable suspicion" that the alleged behaviour happened and is criminal in nature.
It says it takes such allegations extremely seriously and that its response is governed by legislation and workplace agreements.
But disability advocates say the ACT sector is resistant to outside oversight.
The Canberra-based Advocacy for Inclusion says the sector prefers to deal with allegations of violence and abuse internally, and plays a concerning "gatekeeping" role in deciding what goes to police.General manager Christina Ryan said: "People would be shocked to know that, but the truth is it happens everywhere and it happens all the time. It is endemic."
New Zealand Labour calls for Serco Royal Commission of Inquiry [RNZI – 24/8/15]
Tony Burke took the stage to speak on oceans, supertrawlers, conservation etal to an almost empty room. @SeaShepherd_LR
Image: Australian Coastal Society [September 2012]
Prime Minister visits Torres Street to dance on Eddie Mabo's grave.
Embedded journalists clamour to kiss his *rse.
Image: Anglican Parish of Gosford [20/1/14]
Doubts raised over Queensland's Indigenous freehold title legislation [ABC - 9/5/14]:
A native title group says there are fundamental flaws in the Queensland Government's legislation that proposes freehold land ownership opportunities for Indigenous communities.
The legislation would allow 34 communities to transfer the tenure of selected land from communal ownership to freehold title, abolishing native title over chosen land.
Kevin Smith from Queensland South Native Title Services says he is concerned the legislation requires traditional owners to give up their native title rights and he says cost is also an issue.
"The big problem is if there is a default on the mortgage then the bank can actually foreclose and the traditional land can then be handed over to non-Indigenous people and that is really our biggest concern," he said.
"I believe in home ownership but I think there are mechanism there already without going through the trauma of surrendering the native title as well as the risks associated with the foreclosure on mortgages.
"Invariably many of the areas where there are DoGIT - so Deed of Grant In Trust communities - they are in remote areas.
"Building houses in these areas are cost-prohibited anyway, so our concerns are with the transaction costs, no compensation provided by the state.
Rising seas pose a cultural threat to Australia’s forgotten people,
Elaine Kelly [The Conversation - 27/11/14]:
While you may have heard about the increasing threat that climate change and rising seas pose to Pacific islands — already forcing some communities to move — Australia has its own group of islands that are just as threatened.
For communities in the Torres Strait, climate change is not a matter for political debate, but a reality.
Around 7,000 people call the Strait home, and they are already exposed to the impacts of climate variability. There are king tides, flooding, and unpredictable weather patterns that impede their everyday lives. In 2012, extreme weather damaged the local graveyard on Saibai island.
This raises important ethical and political issues for Australia. As a nation we must engage with the harmful cultural implications of climate damage.
At the northern tip of Australia, the Strait finds itself not quite excised, like other Australian territories scattered off the mainland such as Norfolk and Christmas islands.
Still, the islands are certainly invisible in political decision-making and in public concern. When I visited the region in 2013, I was told time and again by locals that they felt like Australia’s “forgotten people”.
24 August 2015