chaplains are not counsellors

October 31st, 2006

Is anyone else outraged at the complete lack of understanding that John HoWARd has for formally qualified counsellors and the need for evidence, rather than belief-based intervention? Currently, a school counsellor must have formal qualifications. They are drawn mainly from Social Work or Psychology.

This government is planning to fund chaplains in schools. In the announcement that I listened to on the ABC, Kevin Andrews was particularly tricky when he interchanged ‘counsellors’ with ‘chaplain.’

“I think there is a broad concern in the community, amongst parents and indeed amongst a lot of young people, that having someone like a counsellor – like a chaplain – that they can go to and talk to is very important. We’ve seen tragedies in recent days in schools, in New South Wales for example, and a lot of people want someone they can just talk to outside the normal (my emphasis) teachers in a school.”

Counsellors are informed by evidence-based practice, whilst chaplains are belief-based practitioners.

Perhaps I’m missing the point completely and the government is rolling out more of what in 2004 was referred to as HoWARd’s response to Latham’s “crisis of masculinity.”

Women have long made up the bulk of the numbers of graduates from the social sciences, whereas chaplains continue to be predominantly men.

This from then Minister for Education, Science and training- Dr. Brendan Nelson. Making Schools Better. A speech spoken by Dr Brendan Nelson at the Making Schools Better conference at The University of Melbourne. 26 August 2004.

“Finally, we are also taking steps to ensure that men are attracted to the teaching profession, particularly to primary teaching by offering 500 teacher scholarships for men. Last year, the proportion of male primary teachers was only 20.9%. This is a decrease of five percentage points over only a decade and the decrease will continue: there are currently only 18.8% of trainees who are male. This is a particular concern to the Government in light of the evidence that shows that boys are underachieving relative to girls and relative to their own performance from 25 years ago. Many boys have no positive male role models in their lives.”

I’d rather have school children talk to abnormal teachers at school than any sort of chaplain.

Highschool boys.jpg

nostalgic image from here

Khaki is the new black

October 15th, 2006

Minister for Defence Brendan Nelson has revealed the Army is planning to entice young Australians to ‘try before you buy’ the military experience during their gap year. Skeptics are already wondering if this move is a precursor to the reintroduction of national service.

Sapper Nelson of course dons his KEVLARģ and boldly charges forth to qualify the national service option as a last resort, only to have to once again rethink this government’s (and his) credibility…

“It would be extremely divisive in Australia, there would be a great fault line through Australian society. The only circumstance under which any government would seriously entertain national service or conscription is if there was a direct, immediate and credible military threat to Australia.” -Brendan Nelson 14:15 15/10/06.

“The Government has absolutely no intention at all of reintroducing national service or conscription” -Brendan Nelson 19:48 15/10/06.

I wonder if the speedy change of rhetoric had anything to do with somebody reminding Brendan of Downer’s credibility howler in 2004?

Image from

Willing coalition of killing

October 15th, 2006

A new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, which has been examined and validated by four separate independent experts and published in The Lancet reveals that around 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion of their country in 2003. This figure represents 2.5% of Iraq’s entire population.

As a country that joined the ‘coalition of the willing’ (a term that has been truncated to ‘the coalition’) we have to acknowledge these deaths. Our government, and the people that voted for HoWARd, have to take some responsibility for their complicity in this catastrophe.

Unsurprisingly, this most recent Iraqi death toll has raised skepticism with HoWARd as he feels the figures are too high. HoWARd seems to accept the more palatable ~50,000 Iraq body count figure.

“It’s (655,000 Iraqi deaths since 2003) not plausible. It’s not based on anything other than a house-to-house survey. I think that’s absolutely precarious. It is an unbelievably large number and it’s out of whack with most of the other assessments that have been made.” -John HoWARd

HoWARd ran the same line in relation to the first study, when the figures were 100,000 in October 2004.

It seems that our PM and US President Bush are comfortable with 50,000 Iraqi deaths number. That figure, if correct still takes some explaining. We as Australians are so meek as to let HoWARd slip out of the spotlight of responsibility as he disputes the Iraqi-death figures. What if we ask him to justify the number he is comfortable with. I wonder what that number would be.

For all the commentators that think an exit strategy would be ‘cutting and running’ I would like to say ‘when in a hole stop digging.’

The data, anecdotes and commentary from the Lancet report are horrific enough, but the part that really left me beyond emotion was this statement:

“Entire households could have been killed, leading to survivor bias.”

Richard Horton the editor of the Lancet sums up all that can be salvaged from HoWARd the stupid, and his bellicose allies as they stay until the job is done.

“Health is now the most important foreign policy issue of our time. Health and wellbeing – their underpinning values, their diverse array of interventions and their goals of healing – offer several original dimensions for a renewed foreign policy that might at least be one positive legacy of our misadventure in Iraq.”


Image from here

P-Go…the new Pru Goward

October 4th, 2006

It was 1984 when my mother excitedly announced to her young, naive daughter that she no longer has to tolerate her boss hovering way too close behind her at the filing cabinet, in the lift or at her desk. It seemed my mother and many women like her were very pleased that legislation was finally in place that protected her from unwanted sexual attention.

That decision created a major shift in the way in which women in particular, have been protected from sexual harassment in the workplace. The legislation also provided for Ms Pam O’Neill to be appointed the first Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner (FSDC). The FDSC utilises the The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 which gives effect to Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and certain aspects of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 156.

“Its [the FSDC] major objectives are to promote equality between men and women, eliminate discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status or pregnancy and, with respect to dismissals, family responsibilities, and eliminate sexual harassment at work, in educational institutions, in the provision of goods and services, in the provision of accommodation and the delivery of Commonwealth programs.” HREOC

Pru Goward is the sixth FSDC. She has a secondary role of Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination (CRAD) following the introduction of the Age Discrimination Act in 2004. In this role Pru undertakes educational activities to promote the law which aims to reduce barriers faced by younger and mature age people in public areas of life including employment.

Our current FSDC/CRAD is now the Liberal candidate for Goulburn, NSW. Since that time her previous statements that showed her to be critical of WorkChoices legislation for the group of people she used to represent have been toned down to be significantly less critical and I can’t believe that we put up with this. How do we tolerate this when women of all ages (who represent a large proportion of casual and part-time workers) and the younger and older workers are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged under the WorkChoices legislation.

Pru’s position has moved from this

“the spread of AWAs will inevitably mean that the present system of employer funded paid maternity leave will disappear. This is because employer provided paid maternity leave, in the absence of a national government funded scheme, has been provided by Australian employers as part of negotiated enterprise agreements or, less often, as part of awards. This will not be possible where there are not collective agreements, which explains why so few AWAs have paid maternity leave. Either the government will need to replace employer funded paid leave with a national government funded scheme or we will be back in the nightmare of low fertility and or of women dropping out of the work force at a time when the country needs them most. HREOCís chief concerns about the [WorkChoices] bill relate to its impact on the protection of workers with family responsibilities, on pay equity between men and women and on the protection of employees in vulnerable and lower skilled positions in the Australian labour market.”

to this

“My concerns had not been supported by any evidence. I did have concerns, but I also have always argued that greater flexibility in working arrangements is what has enabled more women to work. The big take-off in female participation rates in Australia was the early 1990s, when part-time work became widely available. In other words, workplace flexibilities are good for job creation and women particularly have taken advantage of them.”

Pru has offered to quit her role as FSDC/CRAD, however it seems that she is not required to. I disagree. I don’t believe she can rebuild her credibility to any point of relevance after what can only be seen as a shameless, unprincipled, mercenary bid for the advancement of her own political career.

P-Go…Principles Gone!