Are we neglecting our elderly?

Australian of the Year, Ita Buttrose says she’s prepared to pressure governments into acting over concerns about aged care.



Ms Buttrose says she wants to publish first hand accounts from people who’ve written to her about how their loved ones have been treated in aged care facilities.


She says she’s appalled by the stories of neglect and poor treatment, including people being left malnourished and prescribed anti-psychotic medications.


This report by Greg Dyett.


It’s something Ita Buttrose has been doing for decades – campaigning to get governments to take public health challenges seriously.


In the 1980s it was over HIV-AIDS where she played a key role in shaping a national response which prevented thousands of people from becoming infected.


These days she’s campaigning to improve Australia’s response to dementia as the national president of Alzheimer’s Australia.


Ita Buttrose says the stories of neglect and inappropriate care are a symptom of a society that doesn’t put enough importance on how it treats its older citizens.


She says politicians and the bureaucrats who administer the system should ask themselves what they would expect if they were in aged care.


“What kind of care would we all want, would people in government, would people in the public service want if they had to go in to an aged care facility and if they had dementia, how would they wish to be looked after, would they wish to be given anti-psychotic drugs which happens in many nursing homes so that they remain passive and not a problem to anybody, would they wish to be not fed well, not fed sometimes at all or would they like to have the sort of care that one would expect to have in our later years? A loving, attentive, well fed, warm, things to do, activities, I mean people with dementia still need activities, they can’t just sit in front of the television and do nothing.”


One factor contributing to the problems Ita Buttrose identifies is a degradation in training.


Nurse educator Doctor Maree Bernoth has spent almost two decades teaching nursing and carrying out research.


Dr Bernoth has been studying health care outcomes in aged care since 2006 and she says standards are dropping partly because some of the people providing care in nursing homes are not as well trained as they could be.


“When the national, nationally accredited course came in, people had to do a course, it was around about a 12 month course and people had to have 150 hours of clinical experience before they got their Certificate 3. Now you can do a Certificate 3 in aged care work in a weekend. Over a weekend, you can do it online, you can do the Certificate 3 aged care work without actually touching an older person.”


There are other problems too for families who are looking for culturally-appropriate aged care.


Ljubica Petrov is the manager of the Melbourne-based Centre for Cultural Diversity and Ageing.


She says elderly people from migrant backgrounds would be better served if there was a greater use of language services in nursing homes.


“In residential aged care services there is a very minimal use of language services. The Department of Health and Ageing does fund language services to be available to improve communication between service providers, carers and their service users. However I do know that that service is not utilised to its maximum.”


Ljubica Petrov says Australia’s aged care regulators have a role to play in helping to improve the way aged care service providers treat people from diverse backgrounds.


“The aged care standards that are monitored by the aged care standards and accreditation agency often tend to relegate cultural diversity into the sphere of lifestyle. However our message is that cultural diversity needs to be addressed across all standards. That is it’s imperative for people to be able to communicate effectively and to know about specific needs that belonging to a particular culture might have with it when they’re delivering clinical care, pastoral care, any service that they provide.”


Ita Buttrose believes the power lies with the people.


She says it’s going to take a public campaign to force governments to address the issues.


Ita Buttrose says publishing the letters she’s received will prompt action.


“I’m going to seek permission of those people who have written to me to publish their letters, I’m very happy to remove names and places and all those sort of things and naturally I wouldn’t put anything that no one would give me the tick to do (permission to do) but the only way, the only way I think we can really convince governments that they need to take action is by publishing or putting on our website the real life stories of people and you can tell from the way they write that what they’re telling you is very true and very truthful, no one is making anything up here.”






Cameron warns Spain PM over Gibraltar

British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned his Spanish counterpart that the Gibraltar border tensions risked damaging relations between London and Madrid.


Cameron also told Mariano Rajoy in a telephone conversation on Wednesday that Britain’s stance on Gibraltar’s sovereignty would not change.

The British prime minister called Rajoy “to raise serious concerns about actions by the Spanish at the border with Gibraltar”, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

The British premier said the issue “should not damage our bilateral relations. However there was a real risk of this happening unless the situation at the border improved,” the spokeswoman said.

Gibraltar had accused Spain of deliberately holding up cars entering the tiny British overseas territory by searching every vehicle and creating delays of up to six hours during the last weekend in July.

Gibraltar’s chief minister argued that the heightened border checks were in retaliation over its decision to build an artificial reef in surrounding waters, aimed at stopping alleged incursions by Spanish fishing boats in waters around the peninsula which Madrid claims as its own.

On Wednesday, Rajoy told Cameron that Gibraltar’s move to build the reef was “unacceptable”, a Spanish government statement said.

Tensions rose further over the weekend when Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo suggested that Madrid could impose a 50-euro (about $A75) charge to cross the Gibraltar border in either direction.

Cameron called Rajoy “to raise serious concerns about actions by the Spanish at the border with Gibraltar and suggestions from (Garcia-Margallo) that they may introduce further measures”, the spokeswoman said.

“The PM made clear that our position on the sovereignty of Gibraltar and its surrounding waters will not change.

“He also reiterated, as the PM and Mr Rajoy had previously agreed, that the issue should not damage our bilateral relations. However there was a real risk of this happening unless the situation at the border improved.

“Mr Rajoy agreed that he did not want the issue to become an obstacle in the bilateral relations and that we needed to find a way to de-escalate the issue.

“As a next step, the Foreign Secretary (William Hague) should speak to Mr Garcia-Margallo to discuss a way forward.

“In the meantime, Prime Minister Rajoy committed to reducing measures at the border. Both leaders agreed that there should be a solution to the fishing dispute.”

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in perpetuity in 1713 but has long argued that it should be returned to Spanish sovereignty. London says it will not do so against the wishes of Gibraltarians, who are staunchly pro-British.

The internally self-governing British overseas territory, measuring just 6.8 square kilometres, is home to about 30,000 people.

The peninsula, dominated by the giant limestone Rock of Gibraltar monolith, overlooks the only entrance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean.

Japan probes festival blast, 59 injured

Japanese police are investigating the cause of an explosion at a fireworks festival which left at least 59 people injured, including some with serious burns when it ripped through the crowded site.


Witnesses recounted seeing victims, including children, screaming as they rolled around on the ground to try to extinguish the flames, while the thousands who had gathered for the Thursday night festival fled in panic.

The explosion is believed to have erupted at one of hundreds of snack counters lining a nearby riverbank at the festival, which is held annually outside the ancient capital of Kyoto and attracts upwards of 100,000 people.

Video footage showed the stalls, which had been selling drinks and food, going up in flames and sending smoke into the night sky, before a larger blast erupted.

Early accounts said the incident was believed to have been caused by a gas cylinder, but Jiji Press news agency said police suspect the fire may have started when a vendor added petrol to a running power generator.

“I heard a bang and then saw a billow of smoke,” one 37-year-old man, who had been volunteering near the site, told Kyodo news agency.

Koichi Tanimura, head of the local chamber of commerce which organised the festival, apologised for the accident at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

“I believe the vendor should be held responsible, but we also have a moral responsibility,” Japanese media quoted him as saying.

“I would like to apologise to those who were injured.”

Pictures from the scene showed charred snack booths and an abandoned baby stroller among the picnic blankets and clothing left behind after the crowd fled in the aftermath of the blast.

Of the 59 injured, at least 19 people suffered major burns and other serious injuries, according to police. One 10-year-old boy remained in intensive care on Friday.

“I heard a boy crying, ‘atsui, atsui (hot, hot)’,” one middle-aged man told Nippon Television from the scene on Friday morning.

“People gathered ice cubes from wherever they could and used them to cool peoples’ burns,” he added.

The fireworks display was cancelled after the incident. It was unclear how many spectators were in the immediate vicinity of the festival, which was held in Fukuchiyama city, about 70 kilometres north of Kyoto.

A 27-year-old male witness told the top-selling daily Yomiuri Shimbun that he saw the fire start near a jerry can sitting next to a generator at the back of a snack counter.

When a man, who appeared to be the vendor, opened the can’s lid, a hissing noise was heard just before a fire started, the Yomiuri said.

“We’ll have to see the results of our on-site investigation to determine the cause of the fire,” a local police officer said on Friday.

Vic murderer told ‘preposterous’ lies

The man who killed Melbourne prostitute Johanna “Jazzy O” Martin told scurrilous and preposterous lies in his own defence, a judge says.


Steve Constantinou was last week found guilty of murdering Ms Martin, a 65-year-old sex worker and stripper also known as Honi, at his Port Melbourne apartment in October 2011.

Victorian Supreme Court Justice Phillip Priest said Constantinou had not shown any remorse at all for his crimes, and had lied to avoid being held accountable.

“In my observation his defence was scurrilous and time wasting,” Justice Priest said during Constantinou’s plea hearing on Wednesday.

“I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he perjured himself and perjured himself deliberately.”

Constantinou, 49, had claimed Ms Martin’s death was the result of a sex act gone wrong, but prosecutors said he murdered her to avoid repaying a debt of several thousand dollars.

Justice Priest said he found Constantinou’s evidence to be preposterous.

“Anyone with a modicum of intelligence would have rejected his evidence,” he said.

After he killed Ms Martin, Constantinou stole some of her jewellery and sold it at a Footscray pawn shop, before putting bets on at a nearby pub.

He later returned to the apartment, wrapped Ms Martin’s body and dumped it in bushes on Lorimer Street.

Ms Martin’s friend Barbara Bushell told the court Ms Martin was very happy in the months leading up to her death and was looking forward to an overseas holiday.

“This lady for the first time in her life had found peace,” she said.

Defence barrister Shane Tyrrell said Constantinou had suffered a gambling addiction since 1987, and conceded that he was a petty thief.

However, he said the killing was totally out of character and Constantinou had mostly been a kind friend to Ms Martin.

Constantinou’s trial heard that Ms Martin had about $3 million in assets that included properties and cars.

Justice Priest will sentence Constantinou on Friday.

Stagg named as latest Broncos centre

Utility David Stagg has been asked to fill the huge shoes left behind by injured Broncos centre Justin Hodges in Friday night’s must-win NRL clash with Parramatta at Suncorp Stadium.


But prop Josh McGuire looks set to face the most daunting test after admitting fiery Eels forward Mitch Allgood will be looking for him following their round nine stink.

Stagg will hope to add some backline punch after being thrust into the centres for Hodges, who underwent surgery on Tuesday on his season-ending Achilles injury.

McGuire has also been tipped to come out swinging when reunited with Allgood.

The last time the teams met Jarryd Hayne inspired a 19-18 Parramatta win but the talking point was McGuire’s toe-to-toe fisticuffs with Allgood that resulted in a sin bin stint for both.

McGuire reacted to Allgood’s huge hit on then halfback Peter Wallace – and did not rule out doing it again despite the “one punch and you’re off” rule that is now enforced.

“You have to protect your halves,” McGuire said on Tuesday.

Asked if he expected Allgood to come looking for him on Friday night, McGuire said: “I am a frontrower, he is a frontrower – you go looking for each other in the game anyway.

“I am sure that will happen.

“But I have moved on (from the round nine fight).”

Fellow Broncos prop Ben Hannant agreed the Broncos’ constant backline reshuffles this season due to injury have been a worry but believed combating the Eels’ front row would be the key issue against the Eels.

“That’s what we have to handle first – their big guys in the middle,” he said.

“The last couple of times we have played them they have blown us off the park up the middle.”

The Eels may be wooden spoon favourites, two wins adrift of second last Wests Tigers, but Hannant was wary following Parramatta’s last round 26-22 win.

“No one wants to get the wooden spoon and they have to cement positions in the team for next year,” he said.

“We are not going into the game thinking we are playing the wooden spooners. We are up against a side with a lot to prove.”

The 11th placed Brisbane’s last round 26-24 win over the Dragons kept them in the finals mix but Hannant said they were a “long way off” thinking about a top eight finish.

“If you are looking four weeks ahead you are kidding yourself from the position we are in,” he said.

But McGuire wasn’t so sure.

“The sky’s the limit. I think we have broken the ice. Each week we are building. We have belief in ourselves,” he said.

Besides Stagg, Jordan Kahu (hand) returns from injury to replace last round’s debutant winger Jordan Drew.

UGL to split engineering and property arms

UGL will split its shrinking engineering business from its growing property arm to reflect the property division’s greater global focus.


UGL wants to complete the demerger into two independent Australian Securities Exchange-listed companies in fiscal 2015.

Chief executive Richard Leupen said separating the domestic engineering business and the DTZ global property services business was the best thing for the company’s future.

“There’s very little in common between the needs of both companies,” Mr Leupen said on Monday.

DTZ’s business was largely US-based and, outside of that, its biggest targeted markets were China, Singapore, Europe and Canada.

“This business (DTZ) needs to be an American business, it needs to be run in America, it needs to have a focus on the major global corporates,” Mr Leupen said.

He said that not many investors wanted to own both a property company and an engineering firm at the same time, given that they frequently had different economic cycles.

Property was now in an up-cycle and engineering was in a down-cycle.

Also, both businesses would be better able to pursue consolidation opportunities as stand-alone entities.

The split was announced as UGL booked a 72.8 per cent drop in net profit for the 2012/13 financial year.

Net profit was $36.5 million, down from $134.3 million for the prior year.

The result was skewed by the cost of an internal restructure, rebranding and underperforming power projects.

Underlying profit was $92.1 million, down from $168.3 million in the prior year but in line with company guidance.

UGL has forecast an annual underlying profit of $120 million to $130 million for the 2013/14 financial year, subject to a continued reasonable economic outlook.

Shares in UGL were 11 cents, or 1.49 per cent, higher at $7.51 at 1256 AEST on Monday.

Engineering’s revenue fell 30 per cent to $1.8 billion in the last financial year as capital investment in the resources and infrastructure sectors in Australia slowed down.

The underperformance of several power projects also impacted engineering’s earnings, but these projects were expected to be closed out over the coming months.

Operations and maintenance revenue fell 18 per cent to $489.4 million as big miners cut costs.

But, Mr Leupen said, engineering would not remain in the doldrums forever.

UGL was considering the expansion of engineering into Asia and had recently established an office in Mumbai, India.

DTZ’s annual revenue rose 21 per cent to a record $1.9 billion, helped by an improvement in the US property market and a strong performance from the Chinese and Asia-Pacific markets.

‘Islam is a country’ candidate quits race

The One Nation candidate ridiculed after referring to Islam as a country in a television interview has withdrawn from the election campaign.


Stephanie Banister, 27, was running for the seat of Rankin in Queensland but One Nation leader Jim Savage told reporters on Saturday Ms Banister has decided to withdraw following the fallout from her interview with the Seven Network.

During the interview, which Mr Savage says was misrepresentative, Ms Banister referred to Islam as country as well as referring to the Koran as “haram” and saying the national disability insurance scheme was “working at the moment”, when it does not begin until 2016.

“She continues to have the full support of the One Nation executive, and contrary to reports on the media last night and in the newspapers today, Stephanie has not been disendorsed and will not be disendorsed,” Mr Savage said.

“However, due to the threats against Stephanie’s family, herself, her children, the abuse she’s copped and the enormous pressure she’s been put under, Stephanie has decided she wants to withdraw from the candidacy for the seat of Rankin. We have accepted it with regret.”

Ms Banister had only been in politics for 48 hours at the time of the interview and made a short statement alongside Mr Savage but wasn’t allowed to answer any questions on Saturday.

“With the way Channel Seven edited my interview, I was left quite the fool,” Ms Banister said.

“I’d like to apologise to One Nation, to my friends and family, for any embarrassment this has brought to them.”

Mr Savage said it was his responsibility such a novice candidate had been allowed to conduct an interview without appropriate preparation but also claimed Channel Seven had unfairly targeted Ms Banister.

He said it was unclear at this stage if One Nation would nominate a replacement candidate for Rankin with the deadline for nominations on Thursday.

Margaret Thatcher laid to rest

Britain has laid to rest one of its most influential and divisive Prime Ministers in modern history.



Margaret Thatcher was the country’s longest serving leader of the 20th Century.


Over two-thousand representatives from 170 countries attended her funeral service in London, with thousands more watching on from outside St Paul’s Cathedral.


Darren Mara has the details.


The bells of St Paul’s Cathedral rang out across central London to mark the arrival of the coffin of Margaret Thatcher.


Thousands had been waiting outside the cathedral under grey skies in the hours leading to Baroness Thatcher’s funeral service.


It was a time for Britons and others around the world to remember a woman who loomed large over the latter part of the 20th Century.


Baroness Thatcher’s coffin, draped with a Union Flag, was borne on a gun carriage to St Paul’s, nine days after she died from a stroke at the age of 87.


It was a ceremonial funeral with full military honours.


At her request, it was not a state funeral, but has been compared in its grandeur and scale to the state funeral given to Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill in 1965.


Indeed, Baroness Thatcher’s was the first funeral for a former Prime Minister since Mr Churchill’s to be attended by the ruling British monarch, Queen Elizabeth.


The Dean of St Paul’s, the Reverend David Ison, opened the service: “We recall with great gratitude her leadership of this nation, her courage, her steadfastness and her resolve to accomplish what she believed to be right for the common good. We remember the values by which she lived. The ideals she embraced – her dignity, her diligence, her courtesy and her personal concern for the wellbeing of individuals.”


The Bishop of London Richard Chartres, who was a close friend of Lady Thatcher, said she became a “mythological” figure in British society during and after her time in office.


“The storm of conflicting opinions centres on the Mrs Thatcher, who became a symbolic figure, even an ‘ism’ (Thatcherism). But today the remains of the real Margaret Hilde Thatcher are, here at her funeral service, lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings.”


Bishop Chartres went on praise Lady Thatcher’s resilience as a politician, especially in the face of discrimination because she was a woman.


“By the time she entered parliament in 1959, she was part of a cohort of only four per cent of women in the House of Commons. She had experienced many rebuffs along the way, often on the shortlist for candidates, only to be disqualified by prejudice against a woman and, worse, a woman with children.”


Thousands of well-wishers applauded as the coffin of the so-called “Iron Lady” left St Paul’s Cathedral.


Amongst her admirers, Baroness Thatcher will be remembered for her rapprochement with the Soviet Union, which helped bring about the fall of Soviet Communism.


During her 11 years as leader she also oversaw the 1982 Falklands War with Argentina, considered the defining moment of her Prime Ministership.


Supporter John Loughrey explains why he came to pay his respects.


“She will be talked about in 500 years’ time. She is one of our greatest Prime Ministers of all time and also our first woman Prime Minister and I couldn’t miss that because I will never get the opportunity to see this again in my lifetime.”


But just as mourners gathered to remember Margaret Thatcher, so did groups of protesters as the debate over her legacy continues.


Under Margaret Thatcher, free market economics prospered and Britain’s heavy industry struggled.


Her policies prompted lengthy and bitter industrial disputes that gave her many long-lasting working-class enemies..


The demonstrators at the funderal were shouting against what they termed attempts to idolise her.


Hundreds of protesters turned their backs as her funeral cortege went by, booing and chanting “Maggie, Maggie Maggie! Dead, dead, dead!”


This protester was opposed to the huge cost of the funeral: “There are people that are unable to pay their fuel bills, They are in energy poverty, There are people who are selling their homes to pay their care bills. There are people who are having benefit cuts. I really feel that even Margaret Thatcher would have said 10 million pounds on a funeral in this economic climate is inappropriate.”


Lady Thatcher’s coffin was taken to the Royal Hospital Chelsea ahead of a private cremation at the Mortlake Crematorium in London.

Abbott in surplus budget pledge

Budgie smugglers are out, for now, but a budget surplus will be in, Tony Abbott promises.


Mr Abbott joined 85,000 others on the road between Sydney’s CBD and Bondi Beach on Sunday, running with blind athlete Nathan Johnstone in the 14-kilometre City2Surf fun run.

But the Opposition Leader said joining in the run on the morning of his debate with prime minister Kevin Rudd wasn’t a big shift from his usual morning routine.

“I could either run around the back blocks of Forestville or I could be out with 80,000 of my fellow Australians,” he told Macquarie Radio.

Running to raise money for motor neurone disease research, Mr Abbott finished in a respectable time of one hour, 21 minutes and 16 seconds.

Earlier on day seven of the campaign, Mr Abbott and Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull announced a $15 million boost for surf clubs and a new policy to deal with drowning black spots.

Asked if he had considered making the announcement in his budgie smugglers, Mr Abbott, a surf lifesaver himself, laughed and said: “Election campaigns should be budgie-smuggler-free zones.

“You won’t see me in budgies this side of polling day.”

Mr Abbott also said a coalition government would return the budget to surplus in its first term, provided the Labor government’s budget figures – which will get another going over in Tuesday’s Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook – were correct.

“If the budget figures that the government has so far put out are correct, yes (there will be a surplus in the first term),” he said.

“But we can’t guarantee what the starting point is.”

He said the coalition’s costings would be announced well before election day on September 7.

Labor was yet to release its full list of costings and had failed to deliver any of its promised surpluses to date, Mr Abbott added.

Mr Abbott left Sydney for Canberra to take part in the first debate of the election campaign against the prime minister.

“I’m looking forward to it because it’s both of our chances to present directly to the Australian people what are our positive plans for the future,” Mr Abbott said.

Hawks’ AFL stars back to play Magpies

Top-placed Hawthorn have regained three of their biggest stars – Lance Franklin, Luke Hodge and Grant Birchall – for Friday night’s bumper AFL clash with in-form Collingwood.


Franklin missed last round’s win over St Kilda with hamstring soreness, captain Hodge was out with a thumb injury, while running defender Birchall hasn’t played since round 13 because of a knee injury.

The Magpies, coming off an impressive win over Sydney, have named an unchanged side.

Carlton have lost captain Chris Judd, defender Matthew Watson and speedster Jeff Garlett to injury for Saturday’s crucial MCG clash with Richmond.

But after losing to the Western Bulldogs last round, they still dropped forward Sam Rowe and tagger Jaryd Cachia.

Debutant Nick Graham was among their inclusions, while Mitch Robinson earned a recall.

The Tigers have lost former skipper Chris Newman (ankle) but Dylan Grimes returns for his first AFL game since round six, after overcoming a foot injury.

Essendon, coming off three big losses, have made five changes for Saturday’s meeting with North Melbourne.

Dustin Fletcher and Paddy Ryder are out suspended, Jason Winderlich (hamstring) is also a forced omission along with Scott Gumbleton (soreness), while David Myers has been rested.

The Bombers have handed Lauchlan Dalgleish a debut.

Gold Coast have lost Campbell Brown to suspension and Nathan Bock, Sam Day and Alex Sexton to injury for Saturday’s clash with Port Adelaide.

The Power have lost Domenic Cassisi and John Butcher.

West Coast forward Mark LeCras will miss Saturday night’s encounter with Geelong, but Luke Shuey returns.

The Cats have left out star forward Tom Hawkins (back), with ruckman Mark Blicavs added to their side.

Sydney have added Gary Rohan to their extended squad for Sunday’s SCG meeting with St Kilda, for what would be his first AFL game since a severe leg break in round four last year, if he makes the final 22.