Month: September 2018

  • Long waiting times ‘fuel hospital violence’

    A VIOLENT outburst at Werribee Mercy Hospital, in which a man punched and threatened to kill nurses and a security guard, has added to calls for the government to protect frontline workers.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Mercy Health says there are up to six violent episodes at the Werribee emergency ward every week, most involving patients with drug or mental health problems and anger over lengthy waiting times.

    In November, paramedics took a Werribee man, 19, to the hospital after police followed a trail of blood to parkland near his house where they found him self-harming.

    Werribee Magistrates Court last Wednesday heard that the man became angry and aggr-essive when nurses would not give him anti-depressants, and began making threats to kill a hospital security guard.

    He left the hospital but soon returned, yelling more threats at nurses, and assaulted a security guard who tackled him to the ground.

    Magistrate John Bentley ordered the man be assessed for a community corrections order mandating mental health treatment.

    A nurse told the Weekly aggressive behaviour, ranging from low-level abuse to serious assaults, was commonplace at Werribee Mercy. The nurse, who did not want to be named, said waiting times regularly fuelled violence.

    “People have yelled and screamed at me when I’ve been working in triage, displaying really aggressive behaviour,” she said.

    Incidents of ongoing violence and abuse at Victorian hospitals have prompted renewed calls for the state government to honour a pre-election promise to create a specific offence for assaulting emergency ward staff.

    Australian Nursing Federation state secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said it was disappointing the government hadn’t released details of the new legislation and demanded the government detail how it will spend a promised $5.8 million to implement 18 recommendations of a state inquiry, including training for medical staff and security guards on violence prevention and a public awareness campaign.

    Health Minister David Davis said an advisory committee of medical experts, hospital management, security staff and police would be set up to guide the rollout of the recommendations.

    Mercy Health chief operating officer John Fogarty said the hospital supported measures to put trained guards in wards, but did not want them to be armed with guns.

  • Russell’s ‘Swan song’ as court Registrar

    THIRTY years after being posted to Gunnedah for a ‘two-year stay’ Russell Swanson is calling ‘time’ on a career in the town he now calls home.
    Nanjing Night Net

    During his three decades as Local Court Registrar, Russell has seen changes sweep through the court system, from simple things such as the replacement of the manual “clunker” typewriters and carbon paper, lugging around the voluminous births, deaths and marriage registers and being made acutely aware (on a regular basis) of not making too many STD (straight through dial) calls and photocopies, to the rise of the computer.

    “I suppose it is like any government department or industry, much has changed over the past 30 years especially with the introduction of technology – computers, the internet and everything that involves,” said Russell.

    Russell began his career with the Department in Singleton in October, 1980. He returned to his hometown of Wollongong for two years before applying for Gunnedah and Manilla, a posting he planned for two to three years before heading back to the coast.

    He came to Gunnedah as a Grade 3 clerk under the watchful eye of Clerk of Petty Sessions, Michael Hinchey.

    Gunnedah was quickly to become home for Russell, wife Jeanette and daughters, Anna and Elizabeth.

    “We gradually fell in love with the place and after a couple of years Jeanette also worked on a temporary basis for the Department. Michael Hinchey was a great mentor, he had forgotten more about the law than most thought they knew and he was a wonderful character.”

    When Mick, as he was known, retired in 1996, Russell took over the top job.

    “Over the years there has been many changes with of course the rise of the computer, being the most profound.

    “We now have JusticeLink which encompasses the entire State and that has made the job so much easier.

    “There is also a welcome reduction in agency work – such as registering and supplying births, deaths and marriage forms and many other tasks that have been simplified by technology. This has not always been welcome and is a mixed blessing as I would have actually preferred to have kept some of them.

    “The Clerk of Petty Sessions (CPS) was once looked upon as the font of all knowledge but now there are so many other departments and avenues for people to obtain assistance and advice.”

    Russell said he loved his job because he was always intrigued by the law and the way the system worked, particularly the criminal and civil jurisdictions.

    Over the years he has seen other changes, such as the growth of apprehended violence orders (AVO) – a way of confronting domestic and personal violence issues.

    “There has been a remarkable increase in the number of AVOs coming through the system which is disappointing in one way but it does provide an avenue for people to obtain protection when there has been violence or a real fear of violence,” Russell added.

    Russell also laments the removal of District Court sittings from the smaller towns such as Gunnedah.

    “There was a real buzz and excitement when the District Court sat every month. The barristers would come to town and there was a certain amount of pomp and ceremony.

    “It was a different atmosphere and of course it was good for the town’s economy with so many people staying at motels and spending their money.”

    Travel, golf and volunteer work now loom large on Russell and Jeanette’s plans in retirement.

    “Anna lives in London so we hope to visit and I would like to play more golf as well as do some volunteer work. I hope I have helped the community during my time.”

    FINAL day. Registrar of Gunnedah Local Court Russell Swanson retired last Thursday after 30 years in the job.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

  • Domestic violence: Fractured lives, guilty secrets

    It became second nature — each morning as Pamela McConchie travelled to work, she would get ready to put on her ‘mask’.
    Nanjing Night Net

    For more than a decade, slipping on that cool, calm exterior was just part of her daily routine. As the owner of a recruitment company and professional businesswoman, she knew this mask — the competent and savvy one — had to stay on all day.

    But when she returned home each night, the mask would come off revealing the woman underneath — someone scared, bracing herself for what could happen when she walked through that door.

    Moving on: Domestic violence survivor Pamela McConchie kept her violent relationship hidden from everyone, including her friends and family. Picture: Rob Carew

    She knew that at any time, her partner may hit her. And during the bad times, he did.

    “There’s an incredible amount of shame knowing that you’re a professional person and you’re caught up in this sort of relationship,” Ms McConchie says.

    “So I kept it hidden. For the whole time I kept it hidden. I knew it was wrong but didn’t know how to change it.”

    Up until five years ago, when she finally mustered the courage to leave the relationship, the Ringwood East mother was one of the many family violence victims in the eastern and south-eastern suburbs.

    The most recent figures from Victoria Police show the number of reported incidents has risen dramatically in the past few years — up 43.6 per cent.

    In Monash, the number of reported cases has increased from 592 in 2009-10 to 924 in 2011-12. In Knox, the increase is similar, from 904 in 2009-10 to 1379 for the same period.

    For those working in the field — such as women’s support groups and police — the numbers show that new approaches to investigating the crime, and raising awareness of the issue are working. Victims are more willing to report cases to police or use the support services available to get out.

    Ms McConchie was with her partner for 13 years. The relationship became violent “very early on”.

    After each time he hit her, a screaming voice inside her would insist she leave. But Ms McConchie, like most other women caught up in similar situations, found it incredibly difficult to leave the man she fell in love with.

    Eventually in 2009 after several attempts, she left the relationship for good, but not before there was much emotional damage to both her and her daughter, now 14.

    Ms McConchie credits the help of her immediate family and then support groups, which she had avoided for years, as the reason why she could finally leave.

    She now works as a media advocate for Women’s Health East and regularly speaks about her experience to encourage other women to speak up about their problems.

    She believes the number of incidents is rising primarily because victims are more willing to report an abusive partner. “It’s become more open, that’s my opinion. There are advocates out there talking about it whereas before there was no one.”

    Dandenong Police family violence liaison officer Sergeant Gary Gladwell says the spike in figures is down to a combination of factors.

    “We’re enforcing the reporting of family violence incidents more, and people are more prepared to report matters to the police as a result of better education programs out there.”

    The Dandenong police run a dedicated recidivist family violence unit, which launched as a pilot program in April last year. The unit can receive more than 100 call-outs a month — and many of those might be to the same address.

    Sergeant Gladwell says the Dandenong unit, and similar ones in Casey and Knox, have proved invaluable, but it was now down to the public to ensure intimate partner violence is eradicated.

    “We’re pretty much at the limit of what we can do. We need the co-operation of female victims; it’s very hard to prosecute without their help.”

    He says it is not uncommon for a woman to be beaten by her partner, call the police and then back down at the final hurdle.

    There is a growing base of research on why men hit the person closest to them in the first place. While unemployment, work stress, upbringing and substance abuse are all cited as contributing factors, research overwhelmingly shows that gender inequality and power imbalances are the prime reason.

    A 2009 report from the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and Children found that domestic violence stemmed from “an ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling one’s partner through fear”.

    Ms McConchie’s own attempts to reach into the male psyche lead her to suspect sexism is a big part of it.

    “I don’t know, from the male’s point of view. I don’t know why they hit the female in their life but they won’t go out and hit the workmate or their mates or anyone,” she says.

    “They have the anger, but they don’t actually lash out at others. They only lash out at us. And I don’t know why that is.”

    The children who witness violent acts within their home can also be severely affected.

    Ms McConchie says her daughter changed from a grade-A, affable student to a quiet and reserved person who took 80 days off school last year and spent much of her time alone.

    She has no doubt this was because of the violence she witnessed and the fear that her mother may leave.

    “It breaks my heart to know that I have inadvertently done this to her and I am doing everything to put into place a solution for her.”

    She says her daughter still loves her father dearly but the violence and uncertainty of the past has changed her. “She is still the same beautiful child she was but there is a sadness for, and total disconnect from, everything around her. She is lonely and keeps herself hidden.”

    Pakenham mother Lisa Fothergill, a foster carer who looks after children who’ve witnessed severe domestic violence, says it is easy to tell the children who come from this sort of background. “Some of the boys have been disrespectful to me as a woman and called me names that most likely they’ve heard their mother been called,” she says.

    “I’ve found that the girls are also quite jumpy. For example, if you touch their hair they coil back and get worried very quickly.”

    The after-effects of domestic violence range from child to child.

    “Some are completely traumatised from the past and have nightmares, while others become completely desensitised to it. I see these kids watching TV and when something [violent] happens and you expect them to say ‘woah’, they just sit there.”

    If you are experiencing family violence, contact:

    ■ Eastern Domestic Violence Service: 9259 4200

    ■ Men’s Referral Service: 1800 065 973 or 9428 2899

    ■ Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service: 1800 015 188 or 9322 3555

    ■ In an emergency, call Triple-O.



    Number of reported incidents by local government area


    Cardinia: 608

    Casey: 2264

    Dandenong: 1459

    Knox: 904

    Maroondah: 539

    Monash: 592

    Yarra Ranges: 675


    Cardinia: 984

    Casey: 3172

    Dandenong: 1845

    Knox: 1379

    Maroondah: 722

    Monash: 924

    Yarra Ranges: 1068

    Source: Victoria Police

  • Dentist’s tax evasion leads to $1.2m debt

    A BORONIA dentist has accumulated more than $1.2 million in debt in what the Australian Tax Office has described as one of the worst cases of tax evasion ever uncovered.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Dr Thomas Balfoort failed to fill in a tax return for 15 years from 1998 and was ordered to pay more than $600,000 in back taxes and the same amount in penalties to the ATO.

    But after he was ordered to file his late returns, the 69-year-old dentist repeatedly failed to meet deadlines set for them and was fined several times.

    ATO barrister Alf Micaleff said Balfoort’s tax evasion was “one of the worst I have seen”.

    “He has not paid direct tax for 15 years. That’s $40,000 a year that he hasn’t paid one cent of,” Mr Micaleff told Ringwood Magistrates Court.

    Appearing last week, Balfoort was fined a further $12,000 and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service for failing to comply with another court order last year.

    Balfoort eventually filed the missing tax returns late last year, which cost him $25,000 in accounting fees.

    His lawyer, Glenys Jardine, said everything went “horribly wrong” for Balfoort in 1998 when a property development deal went sour.

    “The cost of that was bankruptcy and he lost his marriage,” she said. “It was extremely traumatic.”

    She said Balfoort currently had no assets and rented his practice and his Boronia home. Balfoort was discharged from bankruptcy in 2005.

    Magistrate Max Cashmore questioned whether Balfoort had distributed assets elsewhere.

    “You have got to have earned a lot of money to have that [tax] liability. It’s got to have gone somewhere,” Mr Cashmore said.

    Mr Micaleff said people earning an income in Australia were duty-bound to lodge the correct paperwork. The Australian people were the real victims of Balfoort’s tax evasion.

    Mr Micaleff said that despite the unlikelihood of the total debt ever being paid, jailing Balfoort would not recoup any of the money. “He is very lucky that I am not requesting he is marched out that door [to the holding room].”

    In sentencing, Mr Cashmore said he took into account Balfoort’s guilty pleas. . “It’s a very sorry situation.”

    Balfoort must complete his community service within 12 months.

  • New name, same store

    GLOUCESTER Retravision will cease to be from next week.
    Nanjing Night Net

    When the store opens for business following the Easter long weekend next Tuesday it will be as Gloucester Leading Appliances.

    The move comes after huge upheavals in Retravision in the past 12 months which saw the company wind up.

    It left many of the hundreds of Retravision stores on the east coast without any place to go and dozens closed as a result including local stores at Armidale, Forster and Laurieton.

    For Wendy White and her son Stewart Carruthers, closure of the Gloucester store was never an option. Wendy bought the store in May 1987.

    “At the end of the day did we shut our doors and go fishing, or did we say ‘hell, this has taken up a lot of time in our lives, we’re not going to give up now’?” Wendy said.

    So she and Stewart spent six months establishing direct accounts with all their suppliers in a bid to remain operational.

    “But we still needed a buying group. Suppliers do their deals with a buying group – not you (individual stores).”

    Enter Leading Appliances.

    “They let us vote for our name, colours and logo and they let us be more independent. It will allow us to sell the items we want to sell and we think the people of Gloucester want,” Mrs White said.

    She said, while the name was changing, little else would.

    Dedication to customer service and providing the best item for the best possible price would remain the core objective of the business.

    “I think people would miss it if we were not here,” Ms White said.

    “We would like to think people will continue supporting us and we will do our level best to look after them.

    “All we ask is that they give us a chance. Don’t assume we can’t compete on price. Give us a chance to match, beat or reluctantly admit defeat.”

    Leading Appliances operates more than 70 stores in rural and regional areas.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.