Feb 24

Charlotte Dawson death: Twitter criticised for failing to act against trolls

Beyond Blue chief executive Kate Carnell has criticised Twitter for not doing enough to stop trolls, despite the serious damage that cyber bullying is causing to mental health and the lives lost.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald – Charlotte Dawson death: Twitter criticised for failing to act against trolls

Charlotte Dawson’s public battle with trolls, and the depression she said they caused, triggered a public debate in 2012 on how to protect social media users. One troll had told Dawson: ”Go hang yourself.”


Tragic: Charlotte Dawson had been a victim of cyber bullying.

Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft signed up last year to a federal government complaint-handling scheme designed to remove hateful material from social networks.

”Twitter haven’t signed up. That’s not good enough,” said Ms Carnell, the former ACT chief minister.

She described cyber bullying as ”easy bullying” that was becoming more common due to its anonymity.

”Yes, governments have a role, but so do major social media sites. Facebook have been active in this area. There’s lots more work that people like Twitter need to do,” she said.

Ms Carnell also urged the public to act and make a complaint when they saw cyber bullying.

”Whether it’s a mate or yourself, it’s really important not to do nothing.”

The federal scheme for social media complaints has been criticised because it is voluntary, with no sanctions against international companies.

The Abbott government is considering a legally binding scheme with civil penalties, and has proposed a simplified cyber bullying offence that will make prosecution of trolls easier.

Bridianne O’Dea from the Black Dog Institute said Dawson’s death was ”really shocking”.

Microsoft research has shown that a person’s Twitter feed can predict their mental health, she said.

Dr O’Dea is conducting research to determine the impact on a suicidal or depressed person when other people respond to their tweets.

”People need to be careful how they respond to tweets and aware of how they treat people online and offline,” she said.

Dawson’s death was an example of ”a catastrophic end”, she said.

”I wouldn’t say it could cause someone to take that action, but it’s a contributor.”

❏ Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

Feb 24

Nurses battling their own medical crisis


The keepers of the nation’s health are battling a medical crisis of their own. A study into the well-being of nurses has found many are suffering from musculoskeletal conditions, obesity and mental health problems.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald – Nurses battling their own medical crisis

Overall, they rate their own health as somewhere between ”poor” and ”average”.

The Southern Cross University survey of almost 5500 nurses throughout the country also found they were a rapidly ageing workforce. About 40 per cent of nurses are aged 50 and over.

The situation is so dire that study author Kay Ross has warned that the coming generation of elderly and infirm may not have anyone to look after them. ”In 10 to 15 years, we won’t have nurses to look after us,” she said. ”So many nurses are already in their 40s and 50s. We don’t have the numbers coming up through the ranks to take [their] places.”

Karin Tilden, 58, has been a nurse since she was 17, and recently had a knee replacement. She has also developed back problems.

”They said to me, ‘You’ve got the back of a bricklayer’,” said Mrs Tilden, who works in a hospital emergency ward.

Nurses lead unhealthy lives partly due to shift work – which encouraged a poor diet of junk food and little exercise – and stress, she said. ”Unfortunately, we can preach all the right things to do, but we’re really not good at doing it ourselves. We are caregivers, not care takers.”

The study found 30 per cent of Australia’s 320,000 nurses had a chronic illness and half of those required time off work in the year before the survey. The most common conditions reported were musculoskeletal – such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and back problems – followed by obesity and mental health afflictions.

While the number of diabetic nurses was on par with the general population, 35 per cent were at a high risk of developing the disease in the next five years.

More than 10 per cent reported consuming more than two standard alcoholic drinks a day and 9 per cent were daily smokers.

More than half felt that stress affected their health and 46 per cent said weight management was a problem.

”Working shift work means nurses are there 24/7,” Ms Ross said. ”In the middle of the night when they go for something to eat or drink, you go to the vending machine and it’s only chocolate.

”They get home at midnight; they’re not going to sit down and cook a healthy meal.”

Ms Ross said nurses needed better access to healthy food and gyms in their workplaces.

”We need to look after the nurses we’ve got so that they aren’t as stressed, they actually do have a meal break during their shifts, [and] they aren’t expected to just stay [back] because there’s not enough staff.”


Feb 23

Report quantifies financial cost of workplace bullying


Many employers are aware of the psychological toll of workplace bullying, ranging from lowered staff engagement and morale to lost productivity and health issues but the financial implications may be harder to quantify.

Source: IHR Australia – Report quantifies financial cost of workplace bullying

The new ‘Bullying Bosses: A Full Cost Accounting’ report from management coaching firm Executive Confidante explores the financial costs of workplace bullying and the pervasive effect it can have across an organisation – from the wellbeing of staff right down to the balance sheet.

For instance, the research calculated that the turnover costs involved in replacing employees who leave due to bullying can amount to over 7 per cent of the company’s annual revenue. Executive Confidante notes that this represents a “conservative estimate”.

One of the main concerns with workplace bullying is the effect it can have on workplace performance and ultimately engagement. The report indicated that companies with highly engaged employees often outperform their competitors by almost 2.5 to 1, meaning that there is a huge loss in this area for organisations with disengaged workers.

The distress caused by bullying is also keeping workers away from the office, as the study found that days off due to anxiety and stress – often the products of workplace bullying – can be four times as many as the days taken off for injury and other illnesses.

Kalli Matsuhashi, owner of Executive Confidante and author of the study, said these consequences can be exacerbated if the bully is in a leadership position.

“Many companies have no idea of the full financial impact of abrasive leaders,” she explains.

“Often, these leaders are strong performers, and organisations are highly resistant to confronting these behaviours for fear that the individual will leave. The truth is, the hidden costs likely outweigh the financial benefit to a company’s bottom line.”

It is important to note that this U.S study focused largely on bullying behaviour by managers and leaders. Workplace bullying can also occur in an upwards direction and between colleagues at the same level. As the research was conducted in the United States which currently does not have specific legislation dealing with workplace bullying, it follows that the financial impact to organisations in Australia could be even higher when costs associated with legal implications are factored in.

To help lessen the risk of bullying issues within the workplace, employers must ensure that managers are trained to deal with inappropriate behaviour in their teams and that everyone within the organisation knows how to report bullying behaviour they experience or witness. Effective bullying and harassment training is clearly an investment that employers cannot afford not to make.

Read Here: http://www.ihraustralia.com/news-and-opinion/report-quantifies-financial-cost-of-workplace-bullying


Feb 23

Dock worker ‘crushed’ at Fremantle Port


Safety concerns for port workers have been raised after an incident where a worker was injured at Fremantle Port on Friday.

Source: WA Today – Dock worker ‘crushed’ at port

It is understood the man had his hand crushed in an incident on a container ship.

A St John Ambulance spokesman told Radio 6PR that paramedics assisted a man who had been “crushed’ somehow but was in a stable condition andhad been taken to hospital.

The incident was reported to paramedics about 9.27am.

Fremantle Port spokeswoman Ainslie de Vos confirmed that a stevedore had been injured but was unable to say what had caused his injuries.

The Maritime Union of Australia said the incident highlighted its concerns about site safety.

MUA state secretary Christy Cain said the accident followed a Fair Work Commission decision which ordered workers at the terminal to increase their work rate.

“We have serious concerns about this industry putting profits before safety,” he said.

“Our members do some very dangerous jobs. Waterside workers are 14 times more likely to be killed at work than the average worker, so their safety needs to be the main priority.”

Mr Cain said this latest accident highlighted the need for the industry to introduce a National Stevedoring Code of Practice.

Read more: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/dock-worker-crushed-at-fremantle-port-20140221-3369e.html#ixzz2u82NmR00

Feb 22

Urgent Action Needed To Support Workers

Sharon Bird, Shadow Minister for Vocational Education, today joined calls for the Abbott Government to stop stalling and put in place employment support and training programs for automotive and other manufacturing workers.

Source: Member for Cunningham – Urgent Action Needed To Support Workers

The Abbott Government has still not released details of how their $60 million support package for Holden will be allocated and there has been no word on any additional support for Toyota.  With the announcement yesterday of redundancies at ALCOA, it is time for the Abbott Government to step up and provide support for these hard working Australians.

“As there are often reasonable lead times between the announcement of the redundancies and staff being made redundant, there are opportunities to provide employment and re-training programs and these should be put in place as quickly as feasible,” Sharon Bird said.

Through Skills Connect, a Labor initiative in the 2013 Budget, workers could be linked to programs such as the Workplace English Language and Literacy program, the National Workforce Development Fund, apprenticeships and other programs to assist mature aged workers.

In Government, Labor created nearly a million jobs. Since Tony Abbott was elected, he has presided over 63,000 full time job losses despite promising to create one million new jobs in five years.

“I visited a Jobs Expo in Wollongong today with my colleague Stephen Jones, Member for Throsby, where successful Illawarra Regional Innovation and Investment Fund (IRIIF) applicants from the Labor Government’s Bluescope response, other local employers and training providers were present.  This is a great example of what a timely and relevant response can achieve in an area undergoing structural transition,” Sharon Bird said.

Read Here: http://www.sharonbird.com.au/mediarelease

Feb 21

Mine blast gone wrong spews toxic cloud

A toxic fume from a blast at the Mount Arthur mine in the Upper Hunter turned the sky bright orange and prompted demands for a much stronger response from environmental regulators.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald – Mine blast gone wrong spews toxic cloud

Ammonium nitrate and fuel oil were detonated at the mine near Muswellbrook on Wednesday afternoon, causing poisonous fumes containing nitrogen dioxide to spread several kilometres from the site.

Workers in the Muswellbrook industrial area said there were no warnings about the toxic cloud, which left people with sore throats.

The blast led to an apology from BHP Billiton.

Mine workers were told yesterday that the ammonium nitrate and fuel oil were in the ground for 21 days, seven days longer than the recommended time in which blast material should be detonated.

The Environment Protection Authority is investigating the blast, including the length of time the materials were left in the ground.

Mine workers told the Newcastle Herald that blast material, boosters and detonators are left to “sleep” in the ground for longer than the recommended 14 days because of weather conditions.

Blasts can also be delayed for production reasons.

A blast technician from another mine told the Herald that ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, the most commonly used blast materials in the Hunter, were highly susceptible to water contamination.

The dark orange colour of the fume meant the whole “shot” was likely to have been contaminated, he said.

Muswellbrook mayor Martin Rush said the community would find the incident disturbing.

Cr Rush and NSW Nature Conservation Council chief executive Pepe Clarke said the botched blast, less than three months after Mount Arthur was fined for blasting incidents in October last year, showed the company had a “serious culture problem” and was “cutting corners” and risking people’s health.

“Given a risk assessment requires a consideration of both likelihood and consequence, and given the probability of a wind change and the heavy consequences arising from a population exposed to fumes, the risk must have been considered to be high,” Cr Rush said.

“The fact that the blast proceeded will leave people with the impression the company put profit before people.

“The community will also find it disturbing that the company has offered up excuses in circumstances where zero tolerance conditions were operating, supposedly to ensure health and safety.”

Muswellbrook Council could seek independent monitoring of each blast at the mine site.

“It may be necessary for council to ask the Planning Assessment Commission to consider imposing conditions requiring an independent assessment of each blast if BHP can’t ensure the community’s safety,” he said.

Mr Clarke said it was a serious concern that a large mine such as Mount Arthur was managing its blast activities so poorly.

“It’s clear the $1500 fine imposed less than three months ago is completely inadequate to deter blasts of this kind and irresponsible conduct by this company,” he said.

“The company knows perfectly well how to reduce their polluting blast incidents but they continue to cut corners.

“Exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide blast gases can cause severe harm.”

Of particular concern was the lack of research available about pollutants within blast fumes, Mr Clarke said.

The Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines notes that “any atmosphere in which nitrogen dioxide is noticeable by smell, irritation and colour should be regarded as potentially dangerous”.

The department’s website notes a 2006 Hunter Valley study was the first in the world to study pollutants within blast fumes.

An 18-month Queensland study is investigating fumes.

EPA north branch director Gary Davey said it could take “regulatory action” against the company.

Mount Arthur Coal issued an apology, saying it took its environmental and community obligations very seriously.

NSW Energy Coal Asset president Peter Sharpe said the blast was timed to ensure that wind conditions would prevent any fumes from drifting off site.

“However, due to a change in conditions immediately after the blast, some fumes did travel towards the industrial area,” he said.

Feb 20

Govt ‘trying to dismantle Medicare’


THE Opposition warns the government is on track to drive up healthcare costs and “dismantle” Medicare.

Source: News.com.au – Govt ‘trying to dismantle Medicare

The caution comes after Health Minister Peter Dutton signalled Australians may have to pay more to see a doctor and get a blood test because Medicare is growing at an unsustainable rate.

“The introduction of a GP tax will reduce access to doctors for all Australians, putting additional pressure on public hospitals and in particular emergency departments,” Shadow Health Minister Catherine King said today.

“Mr Dutton is saying Australians should pay more because the Abbott Government won’t.”

And, Bill Shorten is pledging to fight any moves to “dismantle Medicare”.

“The Prime Minister promised before the election he wouldn’t introduce any new taxes, but now he is trying to sneak in a new GP tax that will hit families every time they visit the doctor,” the Opposition Leader claimed.

“I have a very clear message for Mr Abbott on behalf of doctors, health groups, families and pensioners: keep your hands off Medicare,” he said.

In a landmark speech, Mr Dutton says the cost of Medicare has risen by 124 per cent in the last decade and has “no prospect of meeting the needs of the health of our nation in the 21st century”.



Mr Dutton has also left open the option of charging a $6 fee for a GP visit claiming there must be a discussion about who pays for what in the health system.

The minister questioned whether people on good salaries should be able to see a doctor or get a blood test for free.

“I want to make sure that, for argument’s sake, we have a discussion about (people) on reasonable incomes whether we should expect to pay nothing when we go to see the doctor,” Mr Dutton told the ABC today.

“Should we expect to pay nothing as a co-contribution and other taxpayers to pick up that bill?”

He claimed many Australians already pay a co-contribution to buy medicines and private health insurance, but insisted the government didn’t want to “deter people from going to see a doctor”.

Those over 65 might not be immune, with the Minister arguing co-payments should be considered “regardless of people’s age”.

Tony Abbott has refused to go as far as Mr Dutton, but does admit the budget is under pressure.

“It’s very important that we do what we can to fix the budget as quickly as we can,” the Prime Minister told reporters in Sydney.

“But we’ve got to do it in ways which are consistent with our pre-election commitments,” he said, reaffirming his pledge to run a “no surprises” government.

Mr Abbott referred to his time as Health Minister, saying that “government was the best friend that Medicare had ever had”.

“This leopard doesn’t change his spots. I want this government to be likewise the best friend that Medicare has ever had,” he insisted.

The government’s Commission of Audit has been considering a proposal for a $6 GP fee to save $750 million over four years.

Delivering the first of what he says will be a series of headland speeches, Mr Dutton says doing nothing about the financial sustainability of the health system is “not an option”.

“One important job of the Abbott Government is to grow the opportunity for those Australians who can afford to do so to contribute to their own health costs,” he told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) in Brisbane.

Laying out a larger role for private health insurance in keeping people out of hospital, he said it made no sense for the government to pick up nearly 100 per cent of the cost when “the patient is prepared to contribute to their own costs”.

“Why shouldn’t we be open to greater involvement of the insurers who cover 11 million Australians to keep those people healthy and getting more access to primary care,” he said.

Health funds have begun trialling their involvement in primary health care even though health regulations forbid them covering the cost of a GP visit.

Medibank is delivering gap-free GP visits in some medical practices by covering administrative costs and Mr Dutton is watching with interest.

He said increasing the Medicare levy to cover future blowouts in health spending would be prohibitive. If the government were to increase the levy to cover the entire cost of the Commonwealth’s health budget, it would have to increase from 1.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent of taxable income or $7220 per year on an average salary.

“Either way, individuals end up paying for their health care — whether it is directly or indirectly through pay-as-you-go or through higher taxes otherwise,” he said.

Read Here: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/medicare-growing-at-unsustainable-rate-health-minister-warns/story-fneuz9ev-1226831964687

Feb 20

Slowest wages growth on record proves true extent of Abbott Government lies


With the wage Price Index released today showing wages growth well below average in every single industry, it’s time for the Abbott Government to come clean about the non-existent ‘wages-blowout’.

Source: The ACTU – Slowest wages growth on record proves true extent of Abbott Government lies

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said, “The truth is that we are seeing the slowest wages growth on record and it’s time for the Abbott Government to be honest and upfront with workers.”

“Australia is in the midst of a job security crisis with thousands of workers losing their jobs and many others pushed into casual insecure work. Meanwhile, under the banner of a so-called ‘wages blowout’, the Abbott Government has blamed every economic fallout on workers,” Mr Oliver said.

“It’s simply false and misleading. There is no such thing as a wages blow out in Australia. These figures show that wages grew 2.6 per cent last year, while the CPI rose 2.7 per cent.”

“Wages didn’t even keep up with inflation.”

He said, “On the other hand, at the same time as wages growth is slowing, big corporations are revelling in a bumper profit season, with major employers like Commonwealth Bank, BHP Billiton and Wesfarmers reporting big jumps in earnings and multi-billion dollar profits.”

“This follows the worst unemployment figures in over a decade. We are still waiting for Tony Abbott to step up and fight for jobs.”

“Every day workers in this country are confronted with more job losses, more jobs going offshore and continued inaction from the Abbott Government.

“We know Australians are struggling with the cost of living and worried about job security but they’re getting cold comfort from a Federal Government that has made clear it won’t stand up for working people.”

“Instead they are seeking to attack their wages under a banner of misinformation.”

Mr Oliver said there were two urgent priorities to protect Australia’s economic prosperity – one is job creation and the other is to avoid a slash and burn Budget with further cuts.

“If the Abbott Government serves up a slash-and-burn Budget in May as promised it will throw more Australians out of work and onto the dole queues,” Mr Oliver said.

“Reduced spending or increased taxes in these conditions will make a bad situation worse.

“Tony Abbott must urgently spell out a plan for job creation and back up his promise of one million new jobs within five years.”

Read Here: http://www.actu.org.au/Media/Mediareleases/SlowestwagesgrowthonrecordprovestrueextentofAbbottGovernmentlies.aspx

Feb 20

Workplace abuse costing us millions Kiwi bullies



Workplace bullying is costing the country hundreds of millions of dollars a year – and at least one in five workers is suffering from it, a leading expert says.

Source: Stuff.co.nz – Workplace abuse costing us millions Kiwi bullies

According to WorkSafe New Zealand, which is publishing new guidelines today on identifying and dealing with workplace bullying, it can encompass any repeated and unreasonable behaviour, including belittling remarks, dirty looks, public humiliation, verbal abuse and unwanted sexual approaches.

Auckland University of Technology professor Tim Bentley, considered a leading expert on workplace bullying, said the guidelines were well overdue, and it was time the problem was given the same level of attention as physical workplace injuries.

“This is a far more insidious and major cost to the country,” he said.

“It baffles me why organisations let it happen, yet they do. I think there’s a feeling that, if you’re a target, you’re some type of weak person we can do without. In most cases that’s nonsense.”

Research conducted by WorkSafe’s Australian equivalent suggested bullying was costing Australia between $6 billion and $36b a year.

The impact on New Zealand’s economy was likely to be proportionally similar, Prof Bentley said.

The economic losses stemmed from people struggling to cope at work, high levels of absenteeism and staff turnover.

Often the person being bullied was talented and difficult to replace, while the person doing the bullying was insecure about their skills.

In bad cases, bullying could have a “poison well” effect that spread out into the organisation, causing huge problems, he said.

Bullying does not have to be personal, the WorkSafe guidelines say.

“Institutional bullying” can involve unreasonable workplace structures and deadlines that put an unfair burden on an employee.

An example of institutional bullying given in the guidelines was of workers at Christchurch banks who were still expected to meet sales targets after the earthquakes.

WorkSafe high hazards and specialist services general manager Brett Murray, who has overseen the new guidelines, said the work had been in gestation for some time, with input from unions, employers and academics.

It had been difficult to spell out exactly what workplace bullying was and what should be done when it was identified.

“It’s not just a one-off instance of someone flying off the handle and saying something they regret later.”

Although workplace bullying could be overt, it was often subtle and prevalent in static workplaces such as offices.

Research had suggested New Zealand had a higher level of bullying than other countries so it was important the issue was taken seriously.

Employment lawyer Andrew Scott-Howman said courts had struggled to determine what constituted bullying, so the guidelines would help to provide that.

Although most cases never reached court, the majority that did were often decided in favour of the employer, he said.

That was sometimes because employees made accusations of bullying to cover up their own poor performance or in the face of stern, but fair, management.

The guidelines would hopefully help reduce that type of behaviour as well, he said.

Read Here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9741799/Workplace-abuse-costing-us-millions-Kiwi-bullies

Feb 19

Viktor E Frankl, Quote


Viktor Emil Frankl, M.D., Ph.D. (26 March 1905 – 2 September 1997) was an Austrian Neurologist and Psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor.

“One evening, when we were already resting on the floor of our hut, dead tired, soup bowls in hand, a fellow prisoner rushed in and asked us to run out to the assembly grounds and see the wonderful sunset. Standing outside we saw sinister clouds glowing in the west and the whole sky alive with clouds of ever-changing shapes and colors, from steel blue to blood red. The desolate grey mud huts provided a sharp contrast, while the puddles on the muddy ground reflected the glowing sky. Then, after minutes of moving silence, one prisoner said to another, “How beautiful the world could be…”

Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Read Here: http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3389674-ein-psychologe-erlebt-das-konzentrationslager?page=3


Older posts «

» Newer posts