Monthly archive for ‘ September, 2019 ’

Are we neglecting our elderly?

12th September 2019 | Closed

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

12th September 2019 | Closed

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

12th September 2019 | Closed

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

12th September 2019 | Closed

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

12th September 2019 | Closed

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.