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Monthly Archives: April 2019

Children in immigration detention at all-time high

Written on April 22, 2019 at 10:48, by

A record number of children are being held in closed immigration detention – despite the government’s pledge most would be out by last June.
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Almost 2000 asylum-seeker children are being held on Manus Island, Christmas Island and elsewhere in forms of detention that restrict their movements.

Advocacy groups and politicians say the children are being held in contravention of their human rights, and often in harsh, remote environments.

Despite the federal government policy that ”children not be held in immigration detention centres”, the numbers now are even greater than when former immigration minister Chris Bowen said the aim was for the ”majority” of children to be out of detention by June 2011.

Refugee Council of Australia president Phil Glendenning said the numbers were a record and represented ”a fundamental failure of policy”.

”This needs to be urgently addressed and the issue needs to stop being used as a political football,” he said. ”Both sides of politics have let the Australian people down and let children down.”

Sam McLean, national director of GetUp!, which is running a campaign to release the children, said: ”Australians need to speak up about this issue. If you are not fighting the treatment of these children, you are condoning that treatment.”

Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor said: ”People are initially detained so they can be processed for security, identity and health reasons. Once this is done they are released into the community as soon as possible, with children a priority. The government’s aim has been to accommodate the majority of children in community detention,” he said on Saturday.

”There are no children on Cocos Island and only in purpose-built family accommodation in the other places mentioned,” he said.

Statistics released by the Department of Immigration show 3235 children were having protection claims processed as at June 10, and of those 1383 were in community detention. The remainder – 1852 – were in closed-detention facilities, including ”alternative places of detention, immigration residential housing or immigration transit accommodation”.

The Immigration Detention Statistics summary report for April 30 this year shows there were 566 children on Christmas Island, but the department has refused to say how many are on Manus island.

Children are also being kept in the reopened Curtin detention centre in the Kimberley region of Western Australia – once described as Australia’s most primitive detention centre.

They are also at Leonora in WA, and Wickham Point near Darwin – a location so riddled with insect problems the Japanese gas company Inpex refused to build a workers’ village there.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Detainees held down and sedated

Written on April 22, 2019 at 10:48, by

Immigration officials have pinned down and injected tranquillisers into at least two asylum seekers on Christmas Island – all the while insisting publicly that under no circumstances are chemical sedatives used in detention.
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In one incident, described in a confidential report as a major use of force, four guards held down a man so two intravenous drips could be inserted in a ”pre-planned attempt to sedate” him.

The actions appear to contradict internal immigration detention guidelines stating ”sedatives must not be used as a method of restraint”.

The Immigration Department also claimed in remarks intended for public release in December 2010, four months after the incident, that sedatives are never used in detention.

”Under no circumstances are chemical agents, including sedatives, tear gas, pepper spray or capsicum spray used in immigration detention,” said the document prepared for what are known as talking points.

The apparent contradiction has been unearthed as part of a new online database of official documents released under freedom of information laws and intended to cast new light on conditions inside detention facilities.

The department maintained this week sedatives are not used as a form of restraint but a spokesman said ”it is still open to health practitioners to administer them”.

But in a second case in May 2011, four guards held a man on his back by his arms and legs while medical staff gave him an injection ”to calm down Detainee and help him sleep”, according to a separate report.

The man had become agitated after he was refused a cigarette. An officer later saw the man having difficulty breathing, and being carried into a medical ward by guards and detainees.

The report does not make clear what occurred in the interim but said the man had continued to be aggressive and had just assaulted a guard.

Around 20 minutes later he had quietened down enough and was found to have a few grazes to his arms and knees.

The two cases are among hundreds of reports compiled in the Detention Logs website, intended to make searching the reams of declassified material simpler.

Paul Farrell, a Sydney-based journalism student and one of three founders of the database, said the online search would better inform debate about detention policy.

The database draws on copious material the Immigration Department posts online but in a format not readily accessible to electronic searches.

”We thought there was a real need to increase transparency in detention centres,” Mr Farrell said.

The Immigration Department spokesman said under appropriate circumstances a medical practitioner may decide to sedate a highly agitated person behaving in a way that was a threat to their health and wellbeing.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Unions deal PM a blow with call for more parental leave

Written on April 22, 2019 at 10:48, by

Falling short of the mark: NSW Unions’ verdict on Julia Gillard’s paid parental leave scheme. Photo: Andrew Meares Happy: Catriona Martin and six month-old Declan. Photo: Tamara Dean
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NSW unions have demanded a more generous, Tony Abbott-style paid parental leave scheme, within days of Prime Minister Julia Gillard warning the opposition would threaten the rights of women if it won power.

The unions are calling for a wage replacement scheme for women on maternity leave that is similar to the Coalition’s controversial $150,000 proposed plan, saying the Prime Minister’s scheme does not go far enough.

The government’s scheme provides women with the equivalent of the minimum wage for 18 weeks. But Unions NSW has called for the amount to be increased through employer contributions to provide women with the equivalent of their salary, capped at the average weekly earnings figure of $72,400 per annum. It also wants the scheme extended to six months.

Mr Abbott plans a scheme that would pay women the equivalent of their earnings, capped at $150,000, for six months.

Like the Abbott scheme, the Unions NSW proposal calls for superannuation to be paid on all paid parental leave payments.

Unions NSW chief Mark Lennon said all employers would pay a levy into a pool from which women would draw top-up payments, to give them the equivalent of their wage, to a maximum of $72,400 a year.

He said many families were finding it difficult to afford taking parental leave paid at the minimum wage.

”Getting to the average wage of about $72,400 is a fairer outcome,” he said. ”Most people would qualify to get their full wage replacement if you are using that figure.”

”There is no doubt what the federal government has done by introducing a pay scheme is the most significant step in 40 years and we welcome it,” Mr Lennon said.

”But Unions NSW want to improve upon the scheme, particularly to make it more available for low to middle income earners who can then afford to take the entire six months off.”

The Australian Council of Trade Unions is also campaigning for a requirement that employers top up the government scheme.

Social commentator Eva Cox, who supports Mr Abbott’s proposal, said the Unions NSW idea showed paid parental leave schemes were being assessed on their merits – instead of the political party driving them.

”There is nothing surprising about Unions NSW putting up that model, apart from the fact that it isn’t the government’s model,” she said. ”I think what you’ve got here is another indication that some of the more conservative views of the current Labor government are not necessarily accepted by the union movement.

”This is an example of them bucking the system a bit, saying, ‘Sorry, we are not really enamoured with your particular scheme, we’d like to broaden it out. And some of the elements of what we want to broaden out are actually similar to what the opposition is putting up at this stage.’

”It is a bit cheeky of them in the current circumstances.”

Kevin Andrews, the opposition spokesman on families, housing and human services, said parental leave, like annual leave, should be paid at replacement wage because it was a workplace measure, not a welfare measure.

”If we want to encourage families to have kids, if we want to make it easier for women to have careers and families, we need a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme. It’s not surprising the unions now agree.”

A spokesman for the Families Minister Jenny Macklin said the Gillard government delivered the first national paid parental leave scheme in Australia in 2011, helping more than 280,000 families.

”Before Labor’s scheme, only about half of Australia’s working women had access to some form of paid leave when they had a baby. That number is now at 95 per cent,” he said.

”It is fair for all working women and affordable for business, encouraging them to top up payments through their own employer schemes.

”In contrast, Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave policy would give wealthy people much more to have a baby, and make women on lower incomes pay for it with high prices at the checkout. That isn’t fair for families.”

The Unions NSW proposal will form a submission to the federal government’s review of the paid parental leave scheme to be completed by the end of the year.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the government’s paid parental scheme was nothing more than “a dressed-up welfare payment that doesn’t even include superannuation”.

“As the gender wars rage on, it is important for us to recognise that keeping mothers engaged with the workforce through a fairer paid parental leave scheme has significant social and economical benefits,” she said.

“The Greens want to see six months of parental leave with superannuation payments included.”Mothers enjoy baby at home

Catriona Martin enjoyed all the milestones of her baby’s first six months because the paid parental scheme allowed her to stay home from work.

Mrs Martin, 28, said she received about $500 a week for 18 weeks from the federal government scheme. She also received 16 weeks of paid maternity leave from the independent school where she works as a teacher.

The money from the scheme will allow her to take a year off work to care for her first baby, Declan, who is six months old, she said.

”It helped me stay afloat without having the pressure of going back to work,” she said.

”I have loved every minute of being at home. They grow up so quickly. You can miss the milestones that happen daily and weekly at that time if you’re not with them.”

Mrs Martin said she did not believe the government should spend more on the paid parental leave scheme, as it is generous and the money might be better spent on other services.

But she was very supportive of employers topping it up: ”If they did that it would increase the amount of time women could spend at home with their baby,” she said.

”Anything that will help keep mums at home for that first six months is a good thing.”

The options

Coalition plan: Wage replacement up to $150,000 a year; big businesses to pay a levy to contribute; paid for six months.Labor’s scheme: Wage replacement up to $32,554 a year   from July 1; funded by government; paid for 18 weeks.Unions NSW proposal: Wage replacement up to $72,400 a year; government-funded to $32,554, with employers to pay a levy to top up difference; paid for six months

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Army knew of sex ring three years ago

Written on April 22, 2019 at 10:48, by

The Australian Defence Force hierarchy knew an exploitative internet sex ring was operating within its ranks almost three years ago but did not involve police until the middle of last year, it emerged on Saturday.
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Fairfax Media asked Defence when the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service (ADFIS) began its investigation of the matter. An Army spokeswoman confirmed it first became aware of the unfolding scandal in September 2010.

NSW Police has stated that Kings Cross Local Area Command established Strike Force Civet in July last year – after being alerted in June.

The latest revelation exposes a period of 21 months during which ADFIS conducted an internal investigation before approaching NSW Police for help.

Details of the ADFIS investigation, including its length, when it started, those responsible for conducting it and its findings, have not been made public. The Department of Defence did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Saturday.

Two years after a cadet was publicly exposed broadcasting himself having sex with a female counterpart on Skype, the Australian Defence Force has once again been rocked by sex abuse allegations, this time involving at least 17 male officers – including a lieutenant-colonel, the sixth highest rank in the army.

Calling themselves the Jedi Council, the sex ring ”picked up” women in locations such as airport lounges and bars, then filmed them performing sexually explicit acts.

The ADF went public with the revelations on Thursday when the Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison, announced three personnel had been stood down and 14 others were being investigated in relation to ”demeaning, explicit and profane” emails. He also confirmed a brief relating to the three sacked personnel had been forwarded to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith has since denied the military was forced to go public because it was about to be exposed by other agencies involved.

An ADF spokeswoman said investigators had simply needed a period of time to ”do what they needed to do” without triggering potential ”adverse effects”.

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Parents must learn dangers of speeding at home

Written on April 22, 2019 at 10:48, by

To the helicopter parents who micro-manage their children’s lives, obsess over academic performance and treat child-rearing as a competitive sport, Wendy Mogel has a simple message: you’re not helping.
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The Los Angeles child psychologist and best-selling author says this modern, middle-class form of parenting is so out of control many of today’s teenagers resemble ”teacups” and ”crispies” by the time they get to university.

”The teacups are so fragile that they get their first bad grade, they don’t like the professor and they just fall apart,” Mogel said.

”And the ‘crispies’ are so burned out from the academic load they’ve been carrying since they were in pre-school that they’ve lost their intrinsic pleasure in learning, they don’t challenge the professor and they don’t take intellectual risks.”

Mogel, author of The Blessing of a B Minus, is one of a number of speakers who will be advocating a more relaxed, tolerant style of parenting at the Young Minds conference in Sydney this week.

Building resilience and character, not the perfect school record, should be a parent’s goal, she says.

One of the major targets of Mogel’s concern is the growing popularity of private tutoring for children who are not really struggling, but whose parents expect perfection in all areas of schooling.

”They feel like they’re being considered handicapped, when all they are is average instead of above average in some area,” she said.

”It deprives them of developing learning grit, which is persistence, curiosity, self-control, optimism.”

Carl Honore, author of the 2008 book Under Pressure, has a similar view. He coined the term slow parenting, a philosophy which encourages children to explore the world at their own pace and on their own terms.

”It’s understanding that child-rearing is not a competitive sport, it’s not product development and it’s not project management,” Honore said. ”It’s about bringing a sane balance back into the home because it seems that this virus of hurry has infected our approach to childhood.”

”Children nowadays are often born and they hit the ground running with Baby Einstein DVDs and Mozart to generate brain development and baby sign language and Mandarin lessons. We’ve turned childhood into a race to perfection.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.