Childcare, aged care turned into business ventures
When childcare centres were taken over by the private sector, those of us who had managed the finances of a not-for-profit centre knew what would happen. We knew that almost all the expenditure went on staffing. Almost all the income came from fees. The only way to make a profit was to save money on staffing or have exorbitant fees. I expect it is the same for aged care.
I know that the private sector, with numerous and large centres, has an argument about economy of scale but that in fact translates into bigger profits, not better quality of care. There is a clear reason why we are finding out that private centres do not employ trained nurses and why the centres are not coping with infection control – profit.
Margaret Maguire, Coburg
Urgent action on aged-care facilities
I am angry. We all are. Why? Because proper regulations and controls are not in place in aged-care facilities. Both federal and state governments are to blame. The appalling stories we are hearing of dehydration and starving of residents, terrible hygiene and understaffed homes are unforgivable. It doesn’t need a royal commission. Urgent action is needed now. A nursing home ‘‘authority’’ controlled by the federal government might be a start.
Ian Anderson, Surrey Hills
Return to community stewardship
Ross Gittins (‘‘Thatcher or Reagan? He’s Joshing’’, 29/7) recently highlighted areas where privatisation of essential services has been a disaster. Many readers have voiced similar views, and polls show there is public concern about profit motives cutting across good social outcomes. Surely now is the time to start returning some of these areas to community ownership. Maybe there is a mechanism where individuals can help to return health, transport, aged care, energy supply and training to community ownership by buying a share.
Peter Allan, West Brunswick
Strong regulation required
Thanks, Ross Gittins, for refreshing my memory of the long list of public utilities and community services we have handed to the profit-makers. We are now coming to a reckoning with the outfall from decades of privatisation and deregulation. The recent debacles in the banks, workers’ compensation and aged care are only the latest examples.
Privatisation has shown itself to be a failed experiment and it continues to cost the community in prices, in service quality and now in lives. Rationally speaking, this failed experiment should therefore be discontinued. If it achieves nothing else the results of the experiment demonstrate just how self-seeking and destructive loosely regulated human behaviour can be, in conjunction with the profit motive. The best we can do now is to provide adequate funding and to broaden and strengthen government regulation and police it effectively.
Kaye Cole, Princes Hill
Looking after the employees
Is anyone else aghast at the massive gulf between the money accumulated by some business owners and the workers they employ? At what stage will people start thinking that relinquishing some of their pile for the good of others, particularly their workers, might be a good idea. The dark face of capitalism is writ large in these times.
Tania Hardy-Smith, Mitcham
Vulnerable paying the price
Privatisation, what could go wrong? Plenty, it would appear. As if we didn’t know already through the spectacular failures in energy, telecommunications, public transport and banking it is now, through the entry of for-profit businesses to aged care, costing the most vulnerable people in the community their lives. Hunt and Morrison need to explain where the better, more efficient, service provision has gone and who will be held accountable.
Ross Hudson, Camberwell
Appearance not effect
As a doctor, I was terrified to learn of colleagues battling for their lives in the Northern Hospital’s ICU. My reaction to my hospital’s most recent initiative was somewhat different. From today, entering the hospital requires staff to use their phones to complete a three-part questionnaire. The first question asks about travel overseas within the last 14 days. Words fail me. The end of the questionnaire is even dafter. It allows you to opt-out by ticking ‘‘All of the above’’. This process represents the great failing of bureaucracy – creating paperwork for appearance rather than effect. Undeniably irritating, this process will cost thousands of person-hours each week.
Will it prevent infected staff from attending work? I hardly think so. Will it force staff to violate social-distancing rules with the security guard who checks the declaration? Absolutely. Will it mean our largely female workforce queueing outside at 6.30am? Will it risk contamination of phones? To date, our leaders have been bold and decisive. But they also need to prune initiatives that are futile or even counter-productive.
Name and address withheld
At the height of the pandemic, we should benefit from the European experience and consider the facts: there is no weighty evidence to support hard lockdowns. Professor Michael Levitt in February modelled Chinese data and saw that the R value shifted and changed and the curve came down independent of lockdown. This has been reproduced in countries around the world. The outbreak does not behave in accordance with an exponential growth law but instead slows down exponentially with time from the first days. In other words, the curves go their own way independent of measures.
The trend by governments to implement hard lockdowns to ‘‘crush the curve’’ have done little. The lockdowns in Europe came after the curve had changed. In Melbourne, our government has instituted lockdown early before the curve has changed and then seems bewildered that their measures have not flattened the curve. What is being presented as science is modelling. It is only science if correlated with data. It is time to stop the propaganda, change the narrative and listen to the science.
Dr Nicola Doyle, Ascot Vale
Society at crossroads
COVID-19 has sharpened a sense of our society at a crossroads that has been building for some time.
One road is an Australia sharing the benefits of our bounteous continent with all citizens.
The other road, which is the one we have accepted for some time, is an Australia that has a significant, controlling and powerful minority reaping huge benefits from our generous environment while the majority are consigned to casualisation, decreased legal
and social support and, increasingly, despair.
As a health worker in this pandemic, I am alarmed that I continue to earn while so many of my fellow citizens fall off a financial cliff. And there is talk of cutting my tax. I would prefer to see our nation become more, not less, egalitarian, but COVID-19 is exacerbating our system of privilege for some and helplessness for many. I look for politicians to show a way to come out of this pandemic together, not with ‘‘winners and losers’’.
Michael Langford, Ivanhoe
Spotlight on vulnerable
One positive of the COVID-19 spread is that it is shining a harsh spotlight on the ‘‘vulnerable’’ sector – aged care, disability care, homeless, casual workforce and many others. Hopefully, more attention will be paid to improving conditions for these people. Though, given society’s short attention span and me-first thinking, I won’t be holding
Anthony Hitchman, St Andrews
Disabled at risk
The next systemic disaster waiting to happen will be in disability group homes. Just last Friday, three residents and seven staff were reported to have tested positive to COVID-19 in a group home in Pascoe Vale. These homes were privatised last year, complete with early retirement packages and an increase in casual staff. Another systemic problem brought about by an obsession with bottom lines, debt and deficit, rather than social good.
Cheryl Soafkin, Kew East
The message is clear
The Victorian government’s messages have been crystal clear for many weeks: listen to the expert medical advice, follow the instructions, physically distance to minimise the risk of infection, stay home unless the four criteria apply, more recently wear a mask when leaving home. It ain’t difficult. I’m irritated that too many of my fellow citizens are blindingly selfish. It seems it’s up to us to call out such behaviour, and continually remind those in breach.
Bruce Loveland, Ashburton
You visited our bushfire areas in January, but you’ve been strangely absent during Victoria’s coronavirus battle. Experts say the key to successfully fighting pandemics is bringing people with you. You did that by forming a national cabinet of Labor and Coalition leaders to tackle the first wave. But in Victoria, the heavy lifting is now left to an exhausted Premier and Chief Health Officer. Your state colleagues seem to carp and criticise rather than urge community co-operation.
Please come to Victoria, meet with doctors, nurses and ambos, talk with recovered patients and bereaved families, and engage with community leaders from ‘‘hotspot’’ suburbs. Wear a mask, keep your distance, and explain that the virus can be beaten if each of us patiently keeps the rules. That would be true leadership.
Joan Reilly, Surrey Hills
Emissions target delay
It’s understandable that the Victorian government has again delayed its decision on climate emissions targets (‘‘Victoria emissions decision delayed’’, 1/8). However, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio is confident that Victoria is on track to meet netzero emissions by 2050. But ‘‘net zero’’ refers to achieving a balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere. But instead of actually cutting emissions, fossil-fuel companies and governments can use the term ‘‘net zero emissions’’ to continue polluting. By relying on unproven technologies to capture CO2 they can pump out greenhouse gases – for another 30 years.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
Stage four a disaster
Stage four for all – why? The cases are overwhelmingly in nursing homes and other healthcare and quarantine oversights. Transmission sources are not from public transport or cafes or restaurants. Dan Andrews has to put most of the effort into the main problem settings. Stage four for everyone will not only ruin the economy, it will ruin social and personal lives and put those with other health problems at risk of neglect. Being tough for the sake of it is unacceptable. Voters won’t forget.
Daria Fedewytsch-Dickson, Footscray
Human face of tragedy
Thanks Tony Wright and Simone Fox Koob for an illuminating and compassionate article on four elderly people who succumbed to the coronavirus and died alone (‘‘They came, lived, loved … and are gone’’, 2/8). Too often, statistics become the first priority and we forget all too quickly the human face of this awful tragedy. All the people who have died during this pandemic have their own stories to tell, and each story is important, not just for those who loved them, but for all of us who value human life and, indeed, each other.
Helen Scheller, Benalla
Nick Toscano (‘‘Crude reality: Oil giants split on fossil fuels’ future’’, 1/8) clearly indicates how oil and gas companies can’t get their heads around where they stand in the survival of not only the economy but the human race. As for gas bridging the gap, the gap between what: between now and the takeover by renewable energy? An energy source which happens to be bigger and wider spread across the world than any other energy source. It only needs a government to commit to the long-term future of the nation and the planet for the ‘‘gap’’ to be just five or seven years.
Trevor Pratt, Eaglemont
Cheap shots at bosses
Wendy Squires’ dog whistling against CEOs does her argument for more respect and money for front-line workers no favours. My husband is a CEO but, far from being a fat-cat gazillionaire, he is working (and worrying) all hours to keep employees in work and suppliers in business. I am sure the hospital CEOs are working just as hard. It takes all sorts to keep society functioning. Let’s not take cheap shots.
Loreto Hosking, Emerald
Sustain life on Earth
What is it about Mars that has our techno giants spending billions to resurrect its irradiated surface and convert its CO2 to oxygen, while our own planet decays and suffocates? Won’t those life-sustaining technologies work here on Earth? Humans are here already. Why not do it here?
David Marshall, West Brunswick
Exempt from empathy
Surely, the government has its priorities wrong? Astrid Magenau is jumping through hoops to try to get to Germany for her dad’s funeral. But Chloe McArdel, who’s an Australian endurance swimmer, has been granted an exemption to leave Australia to swim the English Channel because it’s in ‘‘Australia’s national interest’’. I’m sure the majority of Australians would be more interested in the government treating its citizens with compassion and provide a smooth exit for people looking to travel to see sick and dying relatives. The government needs to rethink this policy. We should be allowed the leave the country freely.
Ali McLeod, Cremorne
AND ANOTHER THING …
Bunnings has always been expert in dealing with lots of tools.
John Nash, Altona
The rich get richer and the poor get COVID-19.
John Groom, Bentleigh
The prime minister was diligent in taking instructions from his buddy Mr Trump in how to shift blame and call it the Victorian wave. The NSW Ruby Princess virus is much more accurate.
Robyn Lovell, Epping
Seems fairly obvious where the profits from Epping Gardens have been going … and it isn’t into bettering residents’ lives.
Marie Nash, Balwyn
Neo-liberal economics at work in our aged care: elderly Australians live and die in sub-standard private aged care ‘‘homes’’ as multimillionaire ‘‘entrepeneurs’’ maximise profits.
Ben J. Witham, Warrnambool
It’s time for a new number plate slogan to encourage discipline. Victorian. Slow Learner.
Brian Burleigh, Cowwarr
Still waiting on Daniel Andrews to impose Stage 7 restrictions in which you can’t get out of bed.
Jonathan Steel, Strathmore Heights
Tragically, tighter restrictions are not going to help when there are selfish, ignorant people who ignore them.
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East
Use of electronic monitoring (ankle bracelets) could reduce the incidence of wandering miscreants. Ian Powell, Waverley
Memo to Qld Premier – another breach by AFL. For COVID’s sake, suggest cancelling agreement with the serial offending organisation.
Damian Meade, Leopold
Looks like the international election observers will have their work cut out again monitoring the US elections.
Stan Balbata, Carnegie
Is there a male equivalent of Karen? I am not reading, seeing or hearing about him.
Anne Riggs, Highett
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