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Issue No. 245 05 November 2004  
E D I T O R I A L

What’s In a Name?
McDonalds is doing it, IAG has done it, James Hardie desperately needs to do it – and now the Labor Council of NSW is doing it, re-working its brand to meet the changing demands of their markets.

F E A T U R E S

Interview: The Reich Stuff
Robert Reich has led the debate on the future of work – both as an academic and politician. Now he’s on his way to Australia to help NSW unions push the envelope.

Economics: Crime and Punishment
Mark Findlay argues that the present psychological approach to prison programs is increasing the likelihood of re-offending and the threat to community safety.

Environment: Beyond The Wedge
Whether the great forestry divide can ever be overcome or whether it is best sidestepped for the sake of unity and sustainability in other areas is up for debate, writes Tara de Boehmler.

International: The End Of The Lucky Country
Linda Weiss, Elizabeth Thurbon and John Mathews show us How To Kill A Country

Safety: Tests Fail Tests
Nick Lewocki from the RTBU lifts the lid on the shonky science behind RailCorp testing

Politics: Labo(u)r Day
John Robertson lets fly at this years Labor Day dinner

Human Rights: Arabian Lights
Tim Brunero reports on how a Sydney sparky took on the Taliban and lived to tell the tale.

History: Labour's Titan
Percy Brookfield was a big man who was at the heart of the trade union struggles that made Broken Hill a quintessential union town writes Neale Towart.

Review: Foxy Fiasco
To find out who is outfoxing who, read Tara de Boehmler's biased review of a subjective documentary about corrupt journalism.

Poetry: Then I Saw The Light
Brothers and sisters! Praise the Lord! Brother George has saved the White House from an invasion by infidels, writes resident bard David Peetz.

N E W S

 Unions Dump Labor

 Shearers Brush Woolly Mammoths

 Girls Should Be Short Changed

 Sydney Turns Down Volume

 Minister Rides Collie

 Staff, Trees Weather the Blame

 Offshore Embassy for Families

 Visy Paper Folds

 Workers Unplug Power Cuts

 Silverwater Offers Porridge

 Environment Wiped Out In Dubbo

 Justice Eludes Kariong Staff

 Nelson Flags Another Raid

 Five Steps to Sanity

 Activists What's On!

C O L U M N S

The Locker Room
In Naming Rights Only
Phil Doyle has Gone to Gowings

The Soapbox
Homeland Insecurity
Rowan Cahill tells us how the Howard Government’s appointment of Major-General Duncan Lewis to head up the national security division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has received little critical comment, until now.

Parliament
The Westie Wing
New proposed legislation in NSW provides a vital window of opportunity for unions to ensure they achieve convictions for workplace deaths, writes Ian West.

L E T T E R S
 Too Young
 Let's Start A New Party
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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News

Five Steps to Sanity


Front line health, police and emergency workers are being forced off core duties to care for mental health patients and a new alliance has been formed to do something about it.

A survey of more than 600 doctors, nurses, police, health, community services, and emergency workers revealed a lack of dedicated resources was causing problems for people living with mental illness and the workers left to pick up the pieces.

Survey results, released by the new Mental Health Workers Alliance, showed:

- More than 90 percent of police officers said caring for mentally ill people was affecting their ability to do core policing work

- More than 80 percent of nurses estimated the occupancy rates of beds dedicated for mental health patients was 100 percent or above

- More than 60 percent of doctors said they felt pressured to prematurely discharge mental health patients into the community and almost 70 percent were unable to find a beds when needed in the past three months

- Some 80 percent of ambulance officers, hospital registrars, social workers and other health and emergency workers listed bed availability, staffing, and resources as major issues impacting on care for mental illness sufferers.

As well as highlighting what is wrong with the mental health system the Mental Health Workers Alliance has a plan for putting the problems right. As part of its Five Step Program for a Saner Mental Health System the Alliance is calling for:

1. Appropriate funding for mental health by increasing the mental health proportion of the State health budget to at least 12%, as recommended by the Mental Health Council of Australia, and for mental health expenditure to be transparent and quarantined.

2. Better resourcing for long term supported accommodation options for all

people with mental illnesses, including homeless people.

3. Increasing the capacity of inpatient units and community services to guarantee 24 hour access to those in need of treatment.

4. Appropriate crisis care, including 24 hour mental health expertise in emergency departments and community teams, to alleviate pressure on front line emergency services.

5. Addressing the problems of recruitment and retention in the sector by providing incentives to enter employment, enhancing access to training schemes, and providing support for learning and development opportunities.

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson praised the Mental Health Workers Alliance for coming together to ensure workers' voices on the issue would be heard.

"This study shows that government policies on mental health impact not just on those chiefly charged with caring for them but that it affects workers throughout the health and emergency fields.

"A failure to adequately resource the mental health sector is contributing to clogged emergency departments, an insufficient number of community and long-stay facilities, and overburdened police and emergency services."

The MHWA is a joint initiative of the Nurses Association, the Police Association, the Health Services Union, the Australian Services Association, and the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation.

To find out more about the MHWA or to subscribe to the Alliance's e-bulletin visit http://www.labor.net.au/campaigns/mhwa/mhwa.html


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