Funding pledge does not solve whole problem
On May 1 Scott Morrison promised more than $200 million to aged care following the impact of COVID-19, but more money is not the whole answer. Before the Howard government’s 1997 Aged Care Act, federal government funding to aged care facilities for each resident was determined on the level of care they needed and was divided into funds for professional care, nutrition and administration. Following the new act funding became a lump sum payment, so the facilities had more ability to decide how to allocate funds and so adjust profits. Staffing levels reduced as the requirement for regulated levels, especially qualified nurses, was eliminated, and it being the area where huge savings could be made, another area was food.
The government at the time claimed the accreditation process would ensure that all standards would be optimal. However, this process itself resulted in vast sums of government funds being diverted to employing expensive consultants to assist facilities achieve their accreditation targets. There has been little proof that what the accreditors see and assess during their process exists when they are not at the facility. Similarly there is little proof that the expensive medication review process has achieved the optimal use of medication. The royal commission has seen shocking examples of the opposite case.
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn
Those of us who live and teach in regional Victoria know that our students are disadvantaged compared with their metropolitan peers. Education Minister James Merlino has announced that regional Victoria schools will go to remote learning, not because of any pressing regional coronavirus crisis but in order to maintain equity with Melbourne schools. The NAPLAN and VCE results of regional schools show that there is no parity. Perhaps Mr Merlino will now consider additional funding for regional schools to create a basis for improved educational outcomes for regional schools.
Deborah O’Connor, Berrys Creek
Ability to learn impaired
You’ve heard from many year 12s about how they were concerned about their health and safety when attending school, but now as online learning is reintroduced our health and safety may be preserved but our ability to learn is impaired. I know some students face no issues with online learning but personally I and many other fellow year 12 students find it extremely difficult and are unable to do our best while learning online. Thus, I question what actions James Merlino and the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority will take to ensure that year 12s have the ability to do their best. The General Achievement Test has been moved further back, which is good news. However, this is not enough. Year 12s lack certainty and that’s what we need. Alterations must be made so that every year 12 student can feel confident they have the ability to do their best this year.
William Foster, year 12, Alphington
COVID-19 is the No. 1 news item in every community, in every language, in every country, around every kitchen table, and it has been for many months. Advertising, and communication, is not the issue. The problem society faces is the use of outsourced labour hire companies to cut costs. Outsourcing and labour hire companies have created a large underclass of working poor in high-density housing who cannot afford to miss a shift, don’t get sick leave and have no rights. These labour hire companies enrich themselves, and keep the accountability away from the business and government enterprises that use their services. They dominate the operation of private security guards, childcare, fruit picking, immigration detention centres, distribution centres, ride sharing, aged care and so on. All the places where workers are exploited. Solving the root cause of the ‘‘exploited worker’’ problem is difficult, so a distraction of ‘‘there wasn’t enough advertising’’ has been thrown to the crowd instead.
Geoffrey McNaughton, Glen Huntly
Not only the elderly at risk
Tony Danino argues as to whether saving ‘‘some very old people’’ is worth the economic and human cost to the majority of Melburnians (Letters, 4/8). Perhaps a stint in the hospitals dealing with traumatised coronavirus patients might alter the perception that old people are the only demographic facing their mortality or long-term damage to their bodies.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South
Alternative is worse
Sweden’s decision not to shut down, use voluntary restrictions and not mandate mask-wearing has resulted in more deaths per capita than in the US. Herd immunity has not been achieved and their economy has not benefited any more than any other country. This method, in the words of the WHO, ‘‘can lead to a very brutal arithmetic that does not put people and life and suffering at the centre of that equation’’.
Tony Danino (Letters, 4/8) suggests that the ‘‘cost of saving some very old people’’ is not worth it. While acknowledging the issues facing society in hard lockdown, including financial hardship and mental health, we should realise that the alternative is far worse and the cost to our humanity is greater.
Helen Kamil, Caulfield South
Will end justify means?
About 90 Australians have died over the past two weeks from coronavirus, almost all of them Victorians. Over the same two-week period, Sweden has had 34coronavirus deaths. Sweden seems to be approaching the end of its pandemic, which it has endured without imposing a severe lockdown, because Sweden’s public health officials don’t believe there is enough benefit from a lockdown to justify its overall social costs. Let’s hope that Victoria’s stage four lockdown yields the sought-after benefit.
Andrew Rothfield, Northcote
Trust to fix mistakes
Dan Andrews has made two related mistakes. He employed a security company to guard quarantine hotels. He trusted them to do their job, and they didn’t. His second mistake was to trust the Victorian people to do the right thing, and thousands didn’t. These people deserve equal blame and more than a monetary fine. Andrews is working 24/7 to fix mistakes he has made. The only way all those who broke the rules and caused severe illness and deaths can fix their mistakes is to do the right thing now.
Janice Ham, West Melbourne
Victorians are liable to become serfs of an all-powerful state (‘‘State in deep freeze’’, 4/8). You can’t live, breathe, walk, talk, shop, work or perform a ‘‘normal function’’ in Victoria without the Virus Patrol suppressing your next move. As Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor said, ‘‘In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us: ‘Make us your slaves, but feed us’.’’ What is happening in Victoria is an economic catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen before. Victoria: your government-ordered Depression has arrived.
Victor Diskordia, McKellar, ACT
As a Victorian I am utterly disappointed with the actions of the leader of the upper house, David Davis, to hold parliament against the advice of the Chief Health Officer. This is not the time for political games and criticism. It would serve the Liberal Party in Victoria better to publicly support the Andrews government and the wider Victorian community at this time rather than drive political division. We are all in this together, and this should include all of our politicians.
Tamara Brown, Croydon North
It’s easy to pop on a face mask but it doesn’t end there. They are used to contain coronavirus on the outside from others, or to keep it on the inside if coming from the wearer. If you touch your mask you should use hand sanitiser or washing each time where possible.
Disposable masks should be discarded after four hours continuous use owing to moisture accumulation. Reusable ones should be washed with soap and water and dried overnight. Masks should not be shared. If reusing the mask in public, open a plastic bag out (cut if necessary), place mask in, use hand sanitiser and close bag.
Generally, one hand can be the ‘‘dirty’’ hand for touching such possibly contaminated surfaces and cleaned when the task is completed.
Dr Lachlan Fraser, Alexandra
A mass of detail
There are similarities between Labor’s federal election loss in 2018 and the ‘‘ingredients’’ of the COVID-19 stage four lockdown. Labor lost the election because it failed the K.I.S.S test (Keep It Simple Stupid) – it bombarded the ‘‘electorate’’ with a tsunami of detail that detracted from its benchmark policies.
The Prime Minister, on the other hand, just kept on reiterating a basic, well-rehearsed mantra that was less ambitious but more effective. Similarly, Premier Andrews has bombarded Victorians with an avalanche of ‘‘dos’’ and ‘‘don’ts’’ that are confusing. It’s not necessarily complacency, we are trying to come to grips with an amorphous mass of detail that is not presented in a streamlined, prioritised way.
Noel Butterfield, Montmorency
It was heart-warming to read of the late John Clarke’s wife’s gift of her Phillip Island property (‘‘‘Heart’s desire’: a family’s gift to nature’’, 30/7) to the Victorian conservation organisation Trust for Nature. This is recognised as a globally significant wetland under the Ramsar Convention, and Westernport Bay is similarly under the Ramsar Convention. However AGL has other plans for our beautiful pristine bay. If the Victorian government is sincere about conservation and natural habitat, it will say no to AGL’s plans and put a stop to this possible environmental disaster.
Georgie Gibbs, Balnarring
Follow through on fines
It was great to hear that police are being given further powers and larger fines to enforce stay-at-home restrictions and mask-wearing. However, I suspect many of the same people who flout these directions will also just ignore the fines. They will be the same people who ignore traffic fines and parking fines. Dan Andrews needs to add to his message, a clear statement that fines will be collected and that wages will be garnisheed and/or personal property seized if fines aren’t paid.
Tony Cogan, Blairgowrie
In recent years Australia has suffered from a series of disasters, not only to the environment in the form of droughts, bushfires and floods but also from the social upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is even more vital therefore that we have a broadcaster upon whom we can rely (particularly in emergency situations) to supply us with up-to-date information based on stringent and unbiased research, plus quality drama and locally based programs. It is a tragedy therefore that the ABC continues to be severely underfunded by the federal government, with the resultant loss of hundreds of jobs in the past few years while over the same period Foxtel has received millions in funding.
Estelle Ross, Riverside, Tas.
AND ANOTHER THING …
What is this sudden epidemic of people walking around with their masks down, demonstratively clutching a coffee cup?
Bernd Rieve, Brighton
Maybe supermarkets could start putting Christmas decorations out to give us a bit of hope.
Greg Lee, Red Hill
Georgina Davidson is missing the point when she asks how the one hour of exercise will be policed. It shouldn’t need to be, we just need to do as we’ve been asked.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir
Tony Danino (Letters, 4/8) succinctly shows how we got into this crisis. The refusal to see the epidemic as everyone’s problem shows how it got out of control.
Tony Haydon, Springvale
Victoria has never had a harder-working Premier than Daniel Andrews. His CHO is no slouch either. John Walsh, Watsonia
Please Daniel Andrews, stop wishing bereaved families ‘‘best wishes’’ in your repetitive speech announcing coronavirus deaths.
Susie Holt, South Yarra
Could a wink be our masked substitute for a smile? With politically correct intentions, of course.
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff
Anyone who complains about the job the Premier is doing should be grateful it’s not Michael O’Brien who’s doing it. The person who should be most grateful is Michael O’Brien himself.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale
I’m not looking forward to summer. COVID-19 and bushfires.
Claire Cooper, Maldon
Dear Victorian government: shops selling liquor are not essential. Our society would be much healthier and safer if people didn’t drink so much alcohol.
Lorraine Bates, Surrey Hills
Chilling to ponder Mary Trump’s words regarding her narcissistic uncle (1/8), ‘‘No matter what happens … how much damage he leaves in his wake, he will be OK.’’
Meg McPherson, Brighton
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