Category Archives: health legislation

At last some good news on suicide – Mental Health programs save lives.

There is new hope for people in poor mental health as Australia’s suicide rate falls by almost half in ten years. see abc.net.au/lateline story below.

images

The good news is tempered by serious problems in dispensing opiates recently revealed in W.A. and the lingering, deadly stigma of being mentally unwell.

But isn’t it great and encouraging that the death toll is finally falling.

And please check this link for a preview of some amazing stories and useful first hand advice from those who are unwell and hear the voices of their children. http://mentalmedia.wordpress.com/

the very welcome abc item follows…

Reaching out for help as Australian suicides fall

By John Stewart for Lateline

Lateline | abc.net.au/lateline

Posted 3 hours 28 minutes ago
Updated 3 hours 15 minutes ago

A young woman rests her head in her hands in a depressed pose

Despair: But Australian youth suicide rates have tumbled in the past decade (ABC News: Giulio Saggin, file photo)

//

During the past decade the suicide rate among young Australians has almost halved.

It is an extraordinary public health achievement, but one which has received little publicity.

Experts say a massive public education campaign and improvement in the treatment of depression are the key reasons for the success.

But with bad economic times upon us, psychologists are warning the suicide rate may begin to rise.

Doug Millen, a 20-year-old university student based in Melbourne, is studying hard and his life is back on track.

But during his final years at high school he suffered from depression and did not know who to turn to.

“I did what young people do and I jumped on the internet and Google for some kind of help,” he said.

He found a website called Reach Out, which had been set up to prevent youth suicide and help young people suffering from depression.

“When I was feeling like I wouldn’t achieve in year 12 and trying to figure out my sexuality, Reach Out was great because it was there when I needed it,” he said.

“It’s completely anonymous and I didn’t have to talk to anyone.”

The online advantage

The Reach Out website now gets 130,000 visits per month from young people.

The website’s managers say being online is a big advantage.

“For a young person who suspects things are not OK, they might not know who to turn to or be afraid to talk to someone about it because they are afraid they will be judged,” project manager Anna McKenzie said.

“So to be able to simply go online, Google something and have a look without anyone needing to know, that’s really invaluable and that’s what a lot of young people are doing at Reachout.”

The Reach Out website was set up 10 years ago when Australia had one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the western world.

But that rate has seen a massive decline in the decade since 1997.

Professor Ian Hickie from Sydney University says suicide rates have fallen internationally, but Australia has benefited from one of the best public health campaigns in recent times.

“In general, a period of strong economic growth and a period of increased awareness around mental health problems and a need to focus on suicide reduction has contributed in most developed countries throughout that time,” he said.

“Additionally in Australia there have been extra efforts in the medical world to treat depression, identify problems and respond appropriately, but also, in Australia, a tremendous community response.”

The Howard government‘s tightening of gun laws after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre also contributed to the decline in suicides, especially among young men.

“After the new gun laws were introduced, the rate of gun suicide dropped twice as fast,” Sydney University’s associate professor Philip Alpers said.

“If you reduce the availability of firearms, especially to impulsive young men, then the number of people dying by gunshot reduces.”

But suicide rates in many Aboriginal communities are still high and despite the overall drop in the suicide rate, reports of depression and anxiety are on the rise.

More than 12 million prescriptions for anti-depressants are filled in Australia each year.

“We’ve just had a national survey of mental health in Australia, rates of illness are as high as they ever were,” Professor Hickie said.

“The good thing is that rates of suicide have gone down so we haven’t yet dealt with the underlying problem, but we have got better at dealing with one of the worst outcomes.

“The greater availability of anti-depressants is also believed to have played a role in lowering the suicide rate, but prescribing the drugs to young people is controversial.”

Experts are concerned that if more jobs are lost, the suicide rate may begin to rise.

It is a trend that has already started overseas and workers at Reachout fear that stressful times may be ahead, especially for young Australians trying to find their first job.

For more information, head to the Reach Out website.

Tags: community-and-society, suicide, youth-issues, australia

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Western Australia’s planned Uranium mines under scrutiny

Rockingham media pick up on the debate that Colin Barnettt doesn’t want.

So many questions on Uranium Colin Barnett has to answer
So many questions on Uranium Colin Barnett has to answer

Thanks to Mark Winter  (frostyfae.wordpress.com ) for the heads-up nd his ongoing activism. Also see nouranium.wordpress.com for more info,  YouTube video and ways to have your say about the mine that will start at Wiluna next year

Please visit WA’s peak anti-uranium group  http://www.anawa.org.au/ and get involved 🙂

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ANALYSIS-In big green push, Australia thinks too small on solar | Reuters

Solel
SOLEL make 300MW solar thermal plants for base load, AUSRA is close behind  -why aren’t they being used?                                    Image –  jdlasica via Flickr

ANALYSIS-In big green push, Australia thinks too small on solar | Reuters .

* New laws promise boost for solar investment

* Complex rules limit size of installations

* Little incentive for commercial solar projects

By Leonora Walet and Bruce Hextall

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US Beats Australia To The Punch Again! Climate change, clean energy, carbon issues.

Australian Greens
Sen. Milne Wikipedia

From; Mark Winter Speaks out

US Beats Australia To The Punch Again!.

America last week publicly announced their draft of the “American Clean Energy and Security Bill”

In response, Greens Senator Christine Milne said

“The world is moving on and leaving Australia behind. It is time the Rudd Government opened itself to the prospect of real domestic and global action to prevent climate catastrophe.”

The Draft Bill is a great leap ahead in comparison to the much debated deeply flawed schemes which the Rudd-Wong collaboration has “laboured” to produce. more from Mark by clicking the blue links above

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West Australian Govt lies about cutting scrutiny of Uranium & other projects – Greens WA’s MLC elect Robin Chapple speaks out – we all need to speak out or suffer the consequences

Robin Chapple Greens MLC elect speaks on uranium & other projects by stealth

Click the above link for short interview. Phone numbers, SMS and email for talkback to follow.

From Perth’s Sunday Times ( supporting documents to be posted soon.)

More leaked documents add to drama

Article from:
Narelle Towie, environment reporter

March 28, 2009 04:28pm

MORE leaked documents have cast doubt on statements made this week by the State Government about proposed changes to mining approvals.

Last weekend The Sunday Times reported that a government-appointed industry working group (IWG) – tasked with devising a plan to streamline and speed-up mining approvals – favoured moves to dilute the power and role of the Environment Minister among other far-reaching changes.
The next day the Minister for Mines and Petroleum Norman Moore stated that a leaked document referred to in the newspaper report was not produced by the IWG.

He said the document, marked confidential, was a submission to the IWG by industry associations.

He said it had not yet been properly considered by the IWG or the government.

The Sunday Times has ascertained that the document was the end product of a workshop involving key members of the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA).

The workshop, which also included at least one IWG member, took place in January and the document has been the focus of much attention by the IWG.

Moreover, further leaked documents show recommendations in the confidential report have been adopted by the IWG – in some parts, word-for-word – and are at odds with the Minister’s statement.

– See both group’s recommendations
– See more recommendations
– See the lead agency model submitted to the industry working group

Up until yesterday Mr Moore and his media advisor were insisting there was “no draft report or draft recommendations.”

The Sunday Times has obtained a copy of the IWG’s “working draft report” dated March 6, which includes an executive summary and eight key recommendations.

The incomplete report proposes similar sweeping changes to how mining applications are processed, though no specific mention is made about the role of the Environment Minister.

Parts of the document’s recommendations appear to be copied almost verbatim from the workshop report the Minister insisted on Friday had not yet been “properly considered or endorsed” by the IGW.

A spokesman for Mr Moore yesterday confirmed the existence of the draft – after a week of denials. He said the Minister was relying on advice from the IWG.

IWG chairman Peter Jones said there are working drafts within the group but the Minister doesn’t know anything about them.

Shadow Environment Minister Sally Talbot last night hit-out: “Last week Minister Moore denied that this report existed and now we have had it confirmed.

“We have a real fear that there is going to be a watering down of the authority for the Minister for the Environment,” she said.

Ms Talbot is calling on the government to come clean on what plans are being put together by the industry working group.

Mr Moore, who is due to receive the IWG’s recommendations in May, said there were several hurdles to be surmounted before any recommendations were implemented.

They would first be considered by him and a cabinet sub-committee before full Cabinet. And any legislative amendments would need the approval of parliament.

Mr Moore said he was aware IWG were considering transferring large parts of the Department of Environment and Conservation’s role to the independent Environment Protection Agency, which is currently an advisory body.

“I’m not sure that that is a good thing if you want the approvals process to move quickly,” Mr Moore said.

Mr Moore said he could not guarantee that the powers and the responsibilities of the Minister of Environment, when dealing with approvals processes, will not be diminished at all by the reforms being considered.

“It is not within my power to provide cast-iron guarantees about issues of this nature. The granting or relinquishing of Ministerial power is a matter for Cabinet and Parliament. That said, the aim of this exercise is not to diminish the level of scrutiny applying to the environmental conditions related to mining approvals,” he said.

MLC member for mining and pastoral region Robin Chapple said the IWG’s intentions were quite clear.

“The community at large must be very seriously concerned that the environmental controls and parameters that have been established over the years are going to done away with,” he said.

Robin Chapple Greens WA MLC elect warns on hijack of approvals

Stigma and shame leads to tragedy for mentally ill people “sane” people need to “get over it” :*)

An important event in Perth W.A. to discuss ways to reduce shame & stigma

shame can kill - help us reduce stigma
shame kills - help reduce stigma & visit http://www.comicwa.org/

I interviewed Dr Alun Jones using Skype & Call Recorder on  a MacBook.   ( see above for related local forum info)

You are welcome to listen to, download, or better still, link to the audio below. ( click the blue link and the blue link it goes to )

Dr Alun Jones speaks to Tony Serve on the stigma of Mental Illness          *Recorded March 24 2009 for COMIC.org    23 mins 44 secs

Comments, feedback and guest posts on mental health are very welcome –

{ especially you ” Abeeliever” 😉  and all the twitter folk }

Phone or Skype calls are welcome to my auto-recorder which has up to 10 minutes time for your comments, stories, questions.

Skype perthtones or phone +61 8 94672264


Meanwhile…think of the Children

It’s common sense that an ill parent will have an affect on the entire family, but all too often around the world, the children of people being treated are left out in several ways.

There are further complications because it is often the case that genes determining aspects of mental health are shared by some family members

Follow this link to coverage of new research on affected families and suggestions for professionals on more effective, holistic treatments.

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Colin Barnett turns tyrant on project assessment – including nukepower & uranium

from: nouranium.wordpress.com

Dracula in charge of the blood bank: WA Greens expose horror plan for the State Government’s assessment processes

A confidential document viewed by the WA Greens (attached here  -> pdf ) has revealed radical plans to overhaul legislation so that the Premier would have sole power to decide which projects are allowed to go ahead in WA.

The proposal, developed by the Government’s hand-picked Industry Working Group committee, indicates that the Premier should become the decision-maker on every major project in the State.

Under the plan, the Premier would only be obliged to merely consult with the Environment Minister.

“If the recommendations of this report are accepted, then every mega-project Colin Barnett ever recklessly dreams up – be it a Kimberly Canal or a nuclear waste dump, or anything else – could go ahead,” Greens Upper House MP-elect Robin Chapple has warned.

“This document is truly horrific,” Mr Chapple continued.

“It is proposing that mining and petroleum activities be exempted from planning approval by local government.

“Now, I wonder how local government will feel about being dictated to by the Premier?

“Quite clearly, these recommendations mean massive legislative changes and the Government must be salivating as they wait to take control of the parliamentary Upper House on 22 May so they can ram through amendments to legislation.

“This Liberal minority government, aided by the National Party, seems intent on orchestrating the death of what remains of our state regulatory authorities.

“This proposal will enable the Premier to push through the Kimberly gas hub, the Gorgon development on Barrow Island, the Oakajee Port and ship lead out of any port of his choosing without a second thought.

“This will lead to unbridled excesses in climate change impacts from a government that just doesn’t get it.

“No wonder they have kept this secret until now, this plan is just like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.”

ends.

Robins Contact Details: Mobile 040 9379263, Work 08 93712615

Key points:

– [page 3] “review mining tenement conditions for conservation reserves”. Do they mean they will review and possibly change the conditions that apply to mining in existing conservation reserves? If so that would seem to be an extraordinary legal situation; it would effectively gift to those mining companies an increase in the value of their privately owned property rights.

– [page 3] It’s alright to talk about EPA timelines but often the delays in the process are because of industry failures to properly address EPA questions / requests for more information. Also, any talk of timelines must make adequate allowance for the need for proper consideration if the matters are technically complex. Sometimes it will be hard for the EPA to have enough staff with expertise in the relevant area. Presumably this will be a real issue for uranium mining, at least in the short term.

‘Minor’ legislative changes [better described as major changes!]

– Removing an appeal right if the EPA decides something could be managed under the clearing provisions sounds good in theory, as the clearing decision will of course be subject to a separate appeal. But the first appeal right is about the EPA’s decision not to formally assess under Part IV, not about the issues that will later be dealt with under Part V. Removing an appeal right would effectively create a massive loophole in the EP Act; if the EPA wanted a project to sail through it could say that the clearing rules would manage it even if the project had impacts on say water quality or something else not related to the proposed clearing. Such a decision would have the effect of quarantining those non-clearing issues from any further public scrutiny, save the possibility of judicial review, and we know how hard that road is!

– Removing appeal rights against the setting of a level of assessment would be an outrage and a fundamental shift in the EIA regime that has served the State for over 20 years. There are few things more important than the level of assessment, as that scoping decision determines the process from then on.

– [page 5] new approvals framework for [ESE] could of course be good in theory but not if it means economics winning out in a Premier-led process that involves no appeal rights!

– [page 6] one decision maker; well, not if the decision relates to issues beyond the expertise of the decision-maker.

– [page 6] proportionality based on… importance to the State. This could be very dangerous; are they saying bigger projects should attract less environmental scrutiny? This would be an unprecedented and very dangerous move.

– [page 6] special consideration for major projects – ditto.

– [page 8] melding works approvals and clearing permits into mining approvals; currently two quite separate technical issues for different departments!!

– [page 8] exempting mining and petroleum activities from planning approval; It will be interesting to see what WALGA and the local govts think about this!!

– [page 8] appeals to SAT; not necessarily a problem with Part V decisions but this takes Part IV appeals out of the hands of the Env Min and into the rarefied apolitical air of a Tribunal. Do they propose to resource the SAT with environmental specialists who aren’t all just former industry representatives?!

– [page 9] Premier obliged only to consult with the Minister for Environment on major projects!!

– [page 10] Applicants can appeal against the conditions of approval but what about the decision to approve? I.e. can the SAT only ever change the conditions of approval but not say no to something? If so that would be an absolutely fundamental negative change!!

– [page 11] appeals to SAT only for “significant activities”; this could mean a significant constraint on appeal rights!!

– [page 11] timelines; do these factor in SAT appeals? We hope not!!

– [page 12] approvals reform group; notice no community representation!

Industry Working Group Committee (Hansard Wednesday, 26 November 2008)

· Peter Jones (chair) (Water Corp Chair 2002) (former resources Minister for Mines, Fuel and Energy for Western Australia to the Sir Charles Court government) (Peter Vernon Jones elected 30/03/1974 Narrogin for NCP became a Liberal in 1985)

· John Bowler (deputy chair) (Kalgoorlie member and former Labor mines minister)

· Derek Carew Hopkins (Department of Environment director general) (former Appeals Convenor) (adviser, Office of the Minister for Regional Development)

· Mark Gregory (Special Counsel to Minter Ellison, his practice has focused on the land access needs of his clients. This includes advising clients on complex government approvals processes; assisting clients to obtain necessary land tenure and mining tenements and dealing with compulsory acquisition matters.)

· David Parker (former Chamber of Minerals and Energy director) (government and public affairs manager, Apache Energy)

· Richard Ellis (Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s WA director) (also in 2004 Colin Barnett’s former chief of staff was called Richard Ellis, may or may not be the same)

· Ian Wight-Pickin (former or current Secretary of the Dawesville Branch of the Liberal Party) (chief of staff, office of the Deputy Premier and Minister for Indigenous Affairs)

· Ian Fletcher (former adviser to the Pangea Nuclear Waste Dump company), (former CEO of the Kalgoorlie/Boulder Town Council), (Premier Richard Court’s principal advisor), (Vice-president of government relations in WA for BHP Billiton)

· Tim Shanahan (Minerals Initiative director and former Chamber of Minerals and Energy) (director, Energy and Minerals Initiative, University of Western Australia)

· Chris Clegg (principal consultant, Statewide Tenement and Advisory Services)

· Doug Koontz (was on the DME Minerals Environment Liaison Committee in 2000 representing the Minerals Industry) (currently chair of the Environment & Water Policy Committee for AMEC and a councillor on the AMEC executive council) (principal environmental consultant Aquaterra Consulting an international water and environment consultancy, operating with offices in Australia, UK, Ireland and Mongolia)

· Noel Ashcroft (former Executive Director, Major Projects, Department of Mineral and Petroleum Resources, heavily involved in the development of the Burrup as an industrial hub) (chief executive of government relations and market development for the Griffin Group)

· Tony van Merwyk, (partner in Freehills)

Robin Chapple

Greens Member Elect

for the Mining & Pastoral Region

Approvals process for WA – READ IT AND WEEP pdf file

West Australian Mining Town says NO to URANIUM – go figure! Maybe it ISN’T safe!!!!!

Thanks to eco warrior Robin Chapple for the newstip.

Thanks to WIN television for covering it – this is a good yarn, and I’m not sure mainstream media will cover it or understand it’s significance

Please share this news as a wake up call that BigNuke is on the move, thrashing around like a dying dinosaur.

Ziggy Switkowski says you want Nuclear Power Plants – did he ask? thanks to ABC for covering it.

Aussies will accept nuclear power, conference told – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

not even Barry Obama has a plan for nuclear waste,where's Ziggy's
not even Barry Obama has a plan for nuclear waste,where's Ziggy's

Is he TELLING us we will accept nuclear power?

Who is he talking to?

He admits a new Nuke plant would take 15 years – by then the cost of clean renewables will be less than dirty atom splitting.

Notice how various professors and community ” leaders” are suddenly speaking up, almost spookily singing the same words.

It’s also scary that some of my colleagues in mainstream media leave some crazy claims unchallenged and out of context. Question everything!

IF WE DON’T RAISE OUR VOICES the only ones heard will be the heavily backed and resourced Uranium and Mining complex.

contact me for info on using talkback and new media to have YOUR voice heard ( even if you disagree with me – it’s a hippie thing )

West Aussie voters please see copy and use the letter in the right column to send a message to Colin Barnett, but cc ALL MP’s – their ears are full of slick-helled lobbyist noise and they need yours for balance

Meanwhile

This article may be from 2007 but it’s so relevant for us in WA right now

The Barnett Government plans to give miners the “green” light to dig up, process and transport uranium.

Politically there is clear evidence the mighty nuclear industry is taking advantage of the fear of global warming and the global recession.

See the Greenpeace UK story & video by clicking

uranium | Greenpeace UK.

See how a Greenpeace co-founder has been drafted in to push for nuke power here, is he right, if not who’s speaking up?

http://tinyurl.com/co7k38

20+ More videos here http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=648207BCB5C42D37

Uranium waste to be dumped in Western Australia? say it ain’t so!

IT APPEARS SO – see http://nouranium.wordpress.com/ for the gory details. and Speak out radio 6PR talkback 24/7 922 11 882 ( producer )

For excellent videos on yuranium and nuclear waste – visit http://www.youtube.com/user/SocialJusticePerth

YouTube post on Pangea’s plans to store nuclear waste in Australia

The safety dealbreaker for uranium mining has again been highlighted  with the news of new radioactive leaks in the world heritage listed Kakadu National Park.

Then there’s what to do with the long lasting toxic waste ( see post on US nuclear waste plans in disarray earlier in this blog )

This accidentally released video shows Pangea spending good money to promote storing nuclear waste in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Please subscribe to this blog ( above right ) and keep in touch with the no-uranium movement ( google ANAWA and hang in for new website, blogs and activism ) that has been stung back into action by Colin Barnett’s mad plans to ship yellowcake on our roads and through our ports when we can’t even transport lead ore safely!

Uranium mine water leaking into Kakadu – ABC News

aap pic of Kakadu by Tara Ravens

Uranium mine water leaking into Kakadu – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Please let Colin Barnett know his plans have sprung a leak – see post and video below

Nuclear Waste – would you like some from West Australia too?

Click below for A sobering item from the US on waste as West Australia considers allowing uranium mining against the wishes of voters.

We need also to remember that in the years it will take to build any sparkling new nuclear power stations, the world economic dynamic will have changed so that truly clean and renewable alternatives are a lot more competitive and practical.

Please comment on whether we in W.A. should mine Uranium and send it overseas, sometimes to nuclear armed countries with unstable governments and with no clear direction on how to deal with waste that will still be deadly in thousands of years.

For other info on our “friend” uranium Google “depleted uranium Iraq” – be careful if you’re a sensitive soul – it’s not pretty and it’s very real for the children and families affected.

People in WA are now gearing up to remind the Barnett Govenrment why this state has been free from Uranium mining and nuclear power all these years – watch this space! You may also like to visit this youtube link

Nuclear waste dogs US energy policy

http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0306/p02s01-usgn.html

Yucca Mountain was supposed to be where the highly toxic material was sent. But Obama’s energy budget leaves it out.

Crazy poll on drug abuse – do drugs make you crazy or do you have to be crazy to use them

Does substance abuse cause mental illness, or do the ill simply reach for anything to feel better? Click here to vote   ( note –  tongue firmly in cheek on this poll )

The UK has upgraded it’s rating for Cannabis so it’s classed as a jailable offence to have it, despite top medical advisors warning against the move see here for BBC story   ( yeah good one Britain  – who needs dope when you can kill yourself a lot quicker with cigarettes, booze and prescribed anti-depressant meds )

A few highly publicised bits of “research” in recent years have us believing that cannabis will make you schizophrenic and increase chances of paranoia, anxiety and depression. They are dangerous part-truths.

For men, about 1 in 5,000 develop psychoses according to another recent BBC report, but the greater reality is that people with mental illness will reach for any substance, legal or illegal, to ease their pain.  We advocates deal daily with hurting folk who self-medicate.

What is REALLY crazy is that research also shows that adolescents smoking tobacco raise their risk of depression later in life, but ciggies are legal across the planet.

Meanwhile an important related issue is the deadly stigma attached to mental illness –

I addressed a meeting recently and suggested that

” no-one in their right mind abuses drugs ”

Imagine my surprise when a voice was raised in indignation along these lines;

” hey wait a minnit, I have friends who are junkies – how dare you say they are mentally ill.”

It’s enough to drive you nuts!

Meanwhile click here for a radio interview with a key australian advocate on “schizophrenia” as understanding grows that hearing voices and other psychotic episodes are not schizoid.

For help for those hearing voices and for info on debunking “schizophrenia” go to http://www.intervoiceonline.org/

 Finally I never advocate illegal drug use, whether you’re sane or silly. ( I also don’t advise you to use anti-depressants, dexamphetamines,ritalin, SSRI’s, Alcohol or tobacco.)