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Issue #1695      July 29, 2015

Dingo

“I’m a GP and I oppose the Border Force Act” – hundreds of doctors gathered under this slogan to protest against the law that makes it a crime for people working with asylum seekers in detention centres from speaking out about what they see. The rally at Town Hall in Sydney was organised by University of Sydney professor Maria Fiatarone Singh who stressed that there was no justification for the provisions which went against medical codes of ethics. “How does reporting that a child has been raped by a guard or exchanged sexual favours for food threaten national security,” she asked. The protesters including social workers, psychologists, nurses and doctors, signed an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Psychologist Nicholas O’Dwyer called it “a gag law”. “It seems to me it contradicts The Hippocratic Oath of medicos not to be able to report on the welfare of their patients. It’s unbelievable in the 21st century”. Well, it may be the 21st century but the mentality of the present government is certainly closer to medieval times.

“There is a large demand on crisis services and they are full,” Ms McKernan, chief executive of Homelessness NSW said. “There’s nowhere for people to be taken in,” she said. A growing number of those people turned away were older women. “Women are finding themselves, later in life, in poverty. We are finding that there are more homeless women as a result,” said Ms McKernan. Cold weather may have claimed the life of a homeless woman whose body was found off a walking track in Hornsby bushland. “She may have died of hypothermia. It is believed she was sleeping rough,” said the police spokesperson. The police said the 50-year-old woman had been homeless, spending time in a nearby squat. More than 28,000 people were homeless in NSW on the latest census night in 2011.

Workers at Queensland coal mines wore safety stickers on their gear as part of a Day of Action to promote safety in their workplaces. “I will stand up, speak out, come home” was the CFMEU message on the stickers. A very reasonable sentiment considering the dangers of work in mines and the deaths of three mine workers in Queensland this year alone. CFMEU Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said the union is ramping up its safety campaign as safety standards are dropping. But the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance was not impressed with the safety message on the stickers and responded in a letter demanding that “posters and stickers should not be placed on BMA property” which includes workers’ hard hats. Workers were allowed to display the safety message on notice boards. The only problem was – there were no notice boards.

Next article – Region Briefs

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