Family vlogger, Ruby Franke has been refused bail after child abuse charges. Who didn’t see this coming?

YouTube influencer, Ruby Franke and therapist, Jodi Hildebrandt gave ‘advice’ and ‘Truth’ and not ‘living in distortion’. Now, both have been charged of aggravated child abuse.

TW: severe child abuse. If this is triggering for you, please proceed with caution or skip this post entirely.

Family vlogger Ruby Franke and controversial therapist, Jodi Hildebrandt has been charged with child abuse.

The pair are behind life coach service, ConneXions, which is based in Utah.

On the 31 August, Franke and Hildebrandt were arrested at Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins.

Hildebrandt and Franke were charged with aggravated child abuse.

According to Title 76 of Utah’s Criminal Code, aggravated child abuse is committed when:

a. inflicts upon a child serious injury; or

b. having the care or custody of such child, causes or permits another to inflict serious injury upon a child.

Franke and Hildebrandt are being accused of starvation and torture.

Franke makes disturbing accusations

Have Franke or Hildebrandt expressed any remorse? Of course not!

In fact, Franke had the gall to accuse one of her children of abuse.

According to the New York Post, Franke accused one of her child of molesting siblings and accessing pornography… at three years old.

Let that sink in.

I’m not saying what she’s saying is true. However, if it was true, that’s a failure of adults around that child. That child was not protected. At worst, the child could have been abused. If it’s true, the child is still a victim.

(Surprise, surprise, Franke didn’t provide evidence for these claims).

Franke’s now ex – husband, Kevin has denied taking part in any abuse. However, he has defended Ruby’s troubling parenting style.

Did Jodi Hildebrandt radicalise Franke?

Some people have accused Hildebrandt of radicalising Franke through ConneXions. Commentators claim Hildebrandt is a cult leader.

However, anyone familiar with 8 Passengers YouTube channel could see that Franke was already sadistic.

Frankie’s abusive behaviour there for all to see

Like other commentators, I’ve decided not to list examples of Franke’s reprehensible behaviour on 8 Passengers.

Let’s just say that Franke’s past behaviour showed that she was cruel to her children; physically and emotionally. One could say that something like these horrible (alleged) crimes were somewhat predictable.

I don’t think Hildebrandt manipulated Franke to abuse her children. At least not without Franke’s permission.

I’m not saying that Hildebrandt is innocent. She is a reprehensible therapist and person. Her niece, Jessi (they/ them) has spoken about Hildebrandt’s troubling past behaviour.

In past videos, she has openly blamed survivors of abuse of ‘playing the victim’.

Hildebrandt has allegedly made unethical choices as a therapist, including breaching client confidentiality by exposing a client’s ‘pornography addiction’ to LDS bishops. Despite being temporarily suspended, as far as I know, Hildebrandt is still a licensed therapist in Utah.

Update: According to Yahoo News, two of Franke’s sisters have spoken out.

Hoellein addressed (capitalised on), Franke’s arrest on her channel. Unfortunately, the videos are self – focused, rather than seeking justice and healing for the children.

This exposes the darkest side of family vlogging and extreme parenting. I hope the children get the help they deserve.

If you’re in Australia and have found this distressing, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 000 or your national emergency number.

Australia has a cost of living crisis. Here are two areas where it doesn’t have to exist

White and grey calculator withv '2023' on the screen
Image: Zerbor, iStock

Since the COVID pandemic and the Ukraine – Russia war, the world has gone through a cost of living crisis.

Australia is no exception.

Most people are worried about hikes in prices of electricity, fuel, food, etc. Last year, people around the world worried about Christmas spending. Adults even opted to go without gifts.

We’re more than half way into 2023, and cost of living is still a major issue.

Aside from utilities and food, Australians have other costs to worry about: HECS-HELP debt and mental health services.

Graduates find ot impossible to pay off university fees

I’ve written about struggles of university students in Australia. Parents who go to university find workplacement a hurdle that prevents them completing their degrees.

In May, Patrick Wright reported in ABC Everyday that students can’t beat inflation and pay their debt. Inflation has caused HECS-HELP fees to go up 7.1%. Last year, the inflation rate was 3.9%.

Vetenarian, Monica (no last name was printed), had A$80,000 HECS-HELP debt outstanding.

From the 1 June, Monica’s debt rose to over A$85,700.

Think about that. Vetinary students could face a HECS-HELP that can equal or exceed a house deposit!

Pf course, there are graduates that have managed to pay off their HECS-HELP debt. But it’s clear many are still struggling.

Australia’s mental health crisis continues

Silhouette of woman sitting in despair
Image: simpson33, iStock

I am so passionate about people being to access the mental health care they need.

Last year, I was furious at Labor Government’s lack of action when the Australian Psychology Society (APS) was calling for better and affordable access to services. This was after Labor reduced Better Access subsidised therapy sessions from twenty a year back to ten.

Therapy has become so expensive that people have had to choose between therapy and rent. Even psychologists have struggled to afford therapy.

The Australian Association of Psychologists has bern pleading to the Health Minister, Mark Butler again. They are calling for struggling parents with perinatal depression to be granted up to forty psychology sessions a year.

Rachel Lear told ABC about her struggles after the birth of her son, Charlie:

It was sheer exhaustion and tears I felt every day, trying to get my son to sleep at night, but when he was finally sleeping through, I couldn’t switch off or sleep.

In describing her declining mental health, Ms Lear recalled:

It was to the point that I was not wanting to go out… but I also felt so trapped being in my own house, and nagging thoughts were creeping up in my chest.

At the point of the ABC article, Lear only had two subsidised therapy sessions left for the year.

The Labor Government promised an extra A$26million into building more perinatal mental health services over the next four years.

This is weak. What good is more perinatal mental health services if people can’t afford them? Just lift the ten session cap!

Debt has become so normalised. The Labor Government hasn’t done nearly enough to offer relief. Surely fixing the Better Access Scheme and making university more affordable (if not free) would be a good start.


Has MP Linda Burney (finally) gave a valid argument for the Voice?

Image: slovegrove, iStock

Later this year, Australians will vote in a referendum. It’ll ask whether Indigenous Australians should have recognition and a representative body, known as ‘the Voice’, enshrined in Australia’s Constitution.

Throughout the debate, I’ve been on the fence. In my opinion, so far, the arguments for the ‘Yes’ case have been weak. The aims of the body have been too vague; just worn out platitudes and phrases.

The ‘No’ case hasn’t been compelling, either. There’s been a lot of fear mongering. A lot like there was during the same – sex marriage debate. On Chris Kenny Tonight, journalist/ commentator, Chris Kenny, frequently criticises opponents to ‘The Voice’ of fear – mongering.

Has MP Linda Burneyprovided a solid argument for the Voice?

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney took to a press conference, arguing for an Aboriginal Voice to Parliament.

Labor MP, Linda Burney addressed the National Press Club during NAIDOC Week. She argued that steps to the Closing the Gap are still needed. Australian governments — both State and Federal — weren’t doing enough. And too often, policies were imposed without consultation.

The first question I want to address today is ‘why is ‘The Voice’ needed? And the simple answer is, because the gap isn’t closing fast enough. For far too long, governments have made policies for Indigenous Australians, not with Indigenous Australians. We need a Voice to change that.

Burney pointed out numerous areas where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over – represented, including:

  • That ATSI people are fifty – five times more likely to die prematurely of rheumatic heart disease
  • ATSI young people are twenty – four times more likely to be incarcerated
  • Homelessness
  • ATSI peopke are twice as likely to die by suicide
  • Only four out of nineteen of Close the Gap’s targets are making progress.

So, what will the Voice do?

This is why I’ve been on the fence. Until now, the ‘Voice’ debatehas bedn clouded with fluff and cliches, at least in the media. To Burney’s credit, she was (seemingly) more informative.

She said the Voice — which should be in the Constitution, not just legislated — was about “advice”.

The body will consist of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across generations, geography and genders. Burney suggested that they focus on four key areas: housing, education, jobs and health.

She said that the body would be tasked in taking “the/long view”, and not be affected by election cycles.

After that, Burney’s speech fell flat. She accused the proponents of the ‘No’ case of “Trump – style politics” and spreading false information. She only called out One Nation’s Pauline Hanson by name.

She didn’t address Indigenous people, such as Senator Jacinta Nampijimpa Price and Warren Mundine who are also against the Voice.

Has Burney’s speech affected my view?

So, has Linda Burney’s speech affected my view? Well…. I was already sympathetic to the ‘Yes’ case. And as I’ve said, kudos to Linda Burney for actually explaining what ‘The Voice’ will (supposedly) do.

Will ‘The Voice’ end up being a bureaucratic mess? That’s a concern still in the back of my mind.

However, if the Indigenous Voice to Parliament does what Burney argues it will, I can see its benefit. If it helps to close the gap, then go for it. If it helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people flesh out what they need from governments and, ultimately improve their lives, then great.

But is it guaranteed?

What are your views? Are you for or against the Voice? Why or why not? Are you on the fence? Let me know your thoughts below.

Channel Nine slammed over Shane Warne drama

Win Network was slammed for two – part Shane Warne drama, which first aired on Sunday 25 June

Last Sunday, (25 June AEST), a first of the two – part telemovie, Warne premiered. As the name suggest, the mini – series was about the late Australian cricket great, Shane Warne.

This is just over a year after Warne died suddenly, aged fifty – two in Thailand.

His ex – wife, Simone Callahan has been a vocal critic of the show. She told the Herald Sun:

I haven’t wanted to read too much about it, but I think it’s a bit unkind and mean-spirited to be honest.

Simone Callahan slams Warnie telemovie as ‘unkind’ and mean- spirited’, 20 June 2023

Callahan isn”t the only one to criticise the show.

Warne’s daughter, Brooke slammed the telemovie when it was announced. She expressed concerns with Nine’s Jo Hall and radio personality, Dee Dee Dunleavy.

She shared similar criticisms to Callahan:

With the extra media scrutiny created by dad’s passing I need to stay mindful to deal with the attention.

Especially with the negative aspect, such as the total disrespect shown by Channel 9 in creating a biopic about dad so soon after he passed.

On her Instagram story, Ms Warne condemned Nine again, bringing up his time working with the network:

Do any of you have any respect for dad? Or his family? Who did so much for Channel 9 and now you want to dramatise his life and our family’s life six months after he passed away? You are beyond disrespectful.

Alex Williams’ response

Alex Williams, who played Warne tried to ignore the controversy and focused on emulating Warne.

He insisted that the mini – series was made with love. It was made to celebrate his life and career.

While he sympathised with those still mourning Warne, Williams put the onus back on the critics:

For those people who don’t feel like it’s time for them for them to watch it, then don’t watch it.

Alex Williams’ response to ‘Warne’ telemovie controversy “Alex Williams on portraying Shane Warne and dealing with the backlash”, James McKern,, 25 June 2023

Williams claimed that Warne’s fanily members who saw the telemovie gave positive feedback.

My take: Was ‘Warne’ a good tribute? Or exploitation?

I have to say, I only saw the first five minutes or so of the first episode. The trailer that was used to promote the show left a bad taste in my mouth. Frankly, I thought it was tacky.

Why was Warne’s death mentioned so early on in the first episode? Why not solely focus on his career before and after cricket?

Also, let’s talk about timing. How dare Channel Nine plan to capitalise on Shane Warne only months after his death?

I’m not blaming Alex Williams. He’s heart is probably in the right place. He wanted to celebrate Shane Warne’s life. But Channel Nine should have had a bit more sensitivity and common sense. Especially since he worked for them, both as a cricketer and commentator.

Did you see Warne? Do you think it was too soon? Or was it a good tribute?


Jenny Craig collapses in Australia and New Zealand

Image: CTRPhotos, iStock

Jenny Craig is in dire straits.

Last month, the ABC reported that Jenny Craig Australia and New Zealand went into voluntary administration. US Jenny Craig filed for bankruptcy a week earlier.

Vaughan Strawbridge, Kate Warwick and Joseph Hansell were appointed as voluntary administrators.

In a statement, FTI Consulting confirmed the appointment:

Despite undertakings to do so [this] has resulted in the directors of the Australian and New Zealand needing to appoint voluntary administrator.

At the time, Jenny Craig had eighty ‘weight management centres’. They had roughly 377 staff across Australia and New Zealand.

Jenny Craig Australia/ New Zealand goes under

Image: Jade Craven, iStock

Unfortunately, FTI Consulting’s efforts to find an administrator ultimately failed.

Last Wednesday, (7 June 2023, AEST) the ABC reported that Australia/ New Zealand’s operations will close.

FTI Consultants has confirmed the closure of Jenny Craig’s stores. They stated that employees will be made redundant:

Administrators have today advised all of the employees in Australia New Zealand (sic) that a sale of the business with the stores continuing to trade and staff continuing their employment is unachievable.

Despite fifteen parties expressing interest and even making non – binding offers, nothing came to fruition.

Administrators confirmed that Jenny Craig’s online business would be sold to healthcare start – up Eucalyptus.

Jenny Craig closed in the US in early May.

Jenny Craig’s origins and controversies

So, where did Jenny Craig start?

Jenny Craig began in 1983 by American husband – and – wife Genevieve (Jenny) and Sidney Craig. They started their company in Melbourne. They opened stores in the US two years later.

Jenny struggled to lose weight after having her second child. According to the website, Mrs Craig claimed she was working out at the gym alone, and realised that it “didn’t lead to long – term weight – loss” (spoil alert, neither does Jenny Craig or most weight – loss programs for most people).

Over the years, Jenny Craig has had many celebrities promote the company. They include comedian Magda Szubanski, Rebel Wilson, Mel B, Mariah Carey and the late Kirstie Alley. Jenny Craig paid them.

Unfortunately, Szubanski has publicly battled with her weight since being Jenny Craig’s ambassador.

The company attracted millions of customers. They provided their customers with custom menus to (supposedly) help them shed the weight.

In 2019, Jenny Craig was bought by H.I.G Capital. They employed 1.000 people, with 500 stores in the US and Canada.

What now for the weight – loss industry?

It’s no secret that a lot has changed since 1983. Weight loss programs and shows such The Biggest Loser has faced fierce scrutiny.

People are more aware of the potential negative effects of yoyo dieting. Instead, people have turned to two alternatives: body – positivity and Ozempic.

Celebrities like, singer/ flutist, Lizzo (real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson) is praised for embracing her body. The media, including the US’s Cosmopolitan has also embraced larger bodies by including plus – sized models on their cover.

However, people are still trying to lose weight. Most recently, news outlets has reported that celebrities have turned to diabetes drug, Ozempic. However, pharmacists have raised alarm over the trend, claiming that they are running out of the drug, leaving diabetes sufferers to go without.

It’s the end of Jenny Craig. And it may be the end of a chapter in the weight – loss industry. But, it’s not the end of the story.


Indigenous businesses face racist cyber – bullying

Image: golubovy, iStock

My heart sank when I found an article posted on ABC Everyday on bullying faced by Indigenous business owners.

Jessica Staines described social media as a:

…double-edged sword for Indigenous business owners…

Staines goes on to say that online communities are great to “connect, educate and engage”. Indigenous people have a voice and reach that past generations didn’t.

However, all isn’t well.

Indigenous business owners face cyber – bullying

Staines told ABC that she faces Internet trolls. Fortunately, she claims that their words no longer affects her.

My skin is thicker and their [online trolls’] ignorant and hurtful comments don’t sting in the same way they used to

Jessica Staines, ‘Social media is a double – edged sword for Indigenous businesses like mine, ABC Everyday, 2 June 2023

Cyber – bullying towards Indigenous Australians becomes worse on significant days for Indigenous people, including: National Reconciliation Week, National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week and National Sorry Day.

Bullying of high- profile Indigenous people

Content warning: this portion of the post briefly mentions suicidal ideation. If this is triggering, feel free to stop reading.

Earlier this year, ABC presenter, Stan Grant left his position as host of Q and A. This was after he faced fierce backlash over coverage of King Charles’ Coronation. Grant was allegedly receiving vicious cyber – bullying. Grant is Indigenous.

Unfortunately, he’s not the only high – profile Indigenous person to face cyber – bullying.

Liberal Senator and Alice Springs’ Councillor, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has regularly shared how she gets abused online.

Back in 2015, the – then Head of Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine opened up on The Drum about how devastating racial abuse is:

Can I share with you a very personal thing at the moment? The personal thing for me is I am in therapy because of racial taunts and attacks that happened.

He went on:

I am considered a very strong, upstanding Aboriginal man. A strong Australian. I am a great believer in Australia as a nation. But you just only can take so much of this stuff and it wears you down and after fifty – eight years of hearing this stuff all the time, it really guts you.

While I couldn’t find the segment, I remember that Mundine mentioned experiencing suicidal ideation because of racist abuse.

Is this the reason to have the Indigenous Voice to Parliament?

Indigenous Australian flag (yellow circle with black (above) and red (below) background flying on pole
Image: slovegrove, iStock

Since last year, the Australian Labor Pary have been pushing for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the Constitution. A Referendum is going to take place in October.

I’ve been torn about the issue. However, if the Voice addresses issues like racist abuse, domestic violence and other issues that disproportionately affect Indigenous Australians, I’d be willing to support it.

According to Staines, the First People’s Assembly in Victoria has put pressure on social media platforms to crack down on racist abuse. If a natiknal Voice to Parliament also pushes for an end to racist abuse, I’d support that.

I think most people agree that cyber – bullying is detestable. It needs to be stopped. Victims of such abuse need to be supported.

If you’re in Australia and need support, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

13Yarn: 13 92 76 (for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people)

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (they also have a webchat).

If you are in immediate danger, call 000 or your national emergency number.


NDIS participants are exploited and their funds are being drained

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is repeatedly exploited by unethical providers.

This is outrageous.

On Tuesday (19 May), the ABC reported that National Disability Insurance Scheme participants in Victoria are being “kidnapped”, exploited and abused.

The Mental Health Legal Centre’s (MHLC) report found:

  • Participants are being “coaxed” into changing providers. The NDIS participants are often bribed with fast food, including McDonalds and KFC.
  • Unscrupolous providers are taking NDIS participants to “undisclosed” locations while draining their NDIS funds
  • Blind people have ‘signed’ contracts and emails. Meanwhile, scammers are draining their funds

People with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses (psychosocial disabilities) living in support residential services (SRS) have been targeted the most.

SRS’s are privately run. They are (supposed to) provide support to elderly people.

NDIS is “here to stay”

Man in wheelchair doing dishes over kitchen sink
Image: AndreyPopov, iStock

NDIS Minister and former Prime Minister, Bill Shorten, addressed concerns. He told Melbourne reporters:

The NDIS is here to stay. It’s changing people’s lives. But there is no doubt that in the last number of years, the neglect and oversight of the system has seen vulnerable people with lucrative support packages fall through the cracks, and effectively be human trafficked.

Shorten informed reporters that fifty service providers have been referred to the National Disability Insurance Agency, NDIA), the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and the Fraud Fusion Taskforce.

Providers should be the main focus. Not people with disabilities

In the past, I’ve been critical of the emphasis on NDIS recipients ‘rorting’ the the system. Usually, journalists offer no context or hard evidence. I’ve also been annoyed at how recipients are scrutinised about what NDIS participants should be afforded.

I don’t like how people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in particular, have been scapegoated. The emphasis has been whether autism is ‘severe’ enough to be accepted to the NDIS.

The issue with autism and ‘severity’ argument is that it doesn’t take into account people’s internal (and often invisible), struggles.

According to Autism Research Institute, a high percentage of people with ASD have comorbid conditions. 84% experience anxiety and 26% experience depression.

Could being scapegoated by society contribute to these statistics?

The unethical conduct of service providers should have always been the focus of politicians and the media. Not who should have access to services. Or how ‘severe’ a disability should be.

On another note, I wonder if One Nation will make a satirical cartoon targeting dodgy providers. Or do they just punch down?

Last month, One Nation was condemned for a cartoon satirising people who ‘rort’ the NDIS. Will they do they same for fraudulent providers?

Lastly, I commend Mr Shorten for his dedication to the NDIS and to make sure it keeps going. People should be able to get the support they need!

If this post has been distressing for you and your in Australia, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (they also have a webchat).

Headspace (for under 25’s): 1800 650 890.


ABC slammed for coronation coverage

Image: Anna Bliokh, iStock

Earlier this month, ABC was widely condemned for their coverage of King Charles III ‘s Coronation.

The Australian’s Sophie Elsworth and James Madden reported that it was condemned by a number radio personalities.

3AW’s Neil Mitchell said that the ABC of “totally misread the room”. Mitchell also called for ABC’s management to be held accountable.

I really wonder sometimes why we feed these ABC people. I don’t blame the people on air, it’s whomever management decides ‘ah, here’s a good idea, let’s use footage from London while we bag the living daylights out of the monarchy.

2GB’s Ray Hadley condemned the coverage:

They had a token person who represents the monarchy… and then we had the line-up of people wanting to give it, it’s just not a platform for it, there’s no dignity attached to it.

Herald Sun/Outsiders’ Rita Panahi condemned the ABC coverage “nasty” and “spiteful”.

The ABC charter

Many critics of the ABC refer to their Charter. ABC’s Charter requires its presenters to make clear distinctions between reporting and opinion. It also requires reporters to:

Ensure that editorial decisions are not improperly influenced by political, sectional, commercial or personal interests.

Differentiating between factual reporting, analysis and opinion – Key Editorial Standards, 1.3

Also ABC are meant to:

Present a diversity of perspectives so that over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionally represented.

Differentiating between factual reporting, analysis and opinion, Key Editorial Standards, 4.2

The ABC should reflect the diversity within the Australian population. It’s meant to be “our”, (i.e Australia’s) ABC. However, the public broadcaster is frequently accused of bias. Their coverage of King Charles III was no different.

Presenters focused on British colonisation, people suspected they were pushing the republic debate.

Grant’s take on Queen Elizabeth’s death

King Charles III’s coronation wasn’t the first time Grant had criticised the monarchy.

When Queen Elizabeth II passed away last September, Grant lashed out at his employer for their coverage. He told Radio National’s Patricia Karvelas:

How dare the Queen just die and this country go into mourning, what about my own people who continue to be the most impoverished and imprisoned people.

I felt in my own organisation… a sense of betrayal because the ABC, everyone donned black suits, everyone took on a reverential tone

Stan Grant to Patricia Karvelas, 19 April 2022

He also slammed Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese:

We know that the Prime Minister said, ‘now is not the time to talk about empire and colonisation, this is not the time to talk about the republic’, well it is always the time.

Stan Grant to Patricia Karvelas, Radio National 19 April 2022

ABC is biased, but people should also be able to have their own views

The bias of the ABC is obvious. Their reporters and commentators tend to have similar social and political views.

They’re guests aren’t much different.

Often, panels on shows like Q & A and The Drum predominately lean one way. One panellist may offer a different view, but not surprisingly, they are often howled down.

Update: According to Rita Panahi, ABC a thousand complaints for their coverage of the coronation. This sparked an internal investigation into whether commentators abided by their reporting and editorial standards.

Another update: Stan Grant stood down from hosting Q & A and other commitments. reported the reason was the backlash against Grant’s coronation coverage brought on by “grotesque” raciat abuse.

This is so wrong. And it seems to hapoen when someone is excessively shamed in the media.


Rent or therapy: the choice Australians shouldn’t have to make

Human hands unraveling red threads on human head, representing the human brain
Image: Ildar Abulkhanov, iStock

This is horrible.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, provisional psychologist, Emily Radford has clients that have to choose between paying for therapy or paying rent. Radford is a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider. However, they have clients that pay out of pocket.

Radford offers same services to both sets of clients:

Radford’s rate is A$156.00 a session. Provisional psychologists aren’t covered under Medicare. Meaning, clients have to pay full fee unless they have private insurance.

Psychologists push for reform

Cropped shot of psychologist with a long sleeved blue shirt taking notes and talking to client
Image: PeopleImages, iStock

Psychologists are pushing for reform. Two psychological bodies are pushing the Labor Government to allow provisional psychologists to be covered under Medicare. This will increase the workforce by 8,000.

However, many argue that this will further burden the Medicare system. Instead, the Government should invest in higher education pathways and incentives for students to work in regional areas.

Some commenters claimed that covering provisional psychologists under Medicare is a bad idea. As someone who isn’t in the mental health field, I found some of these comments to the SMH article insightful.

One wrote:

I am a clinical psychologist and supervisor of trainees (provisional psychologists). The vast majority of trainees are not ready to provide services to the standard required by Medicare. They also require very close supervision and we currently have a shortage of supervisors.

BD, comment to SMH, 17 April 2023

One comment suggested a change to psychology training requirements.

I’m in the profession and the idea of Medicare subsidising trainees is a big mistake. “The government would be better off putting more money into the training system to enhance the workforce” – totally agree with that. Also, the professional body itself makes it very difficult for people who have studied for years to become an actual Psychologist – generalist undergraduate degrees, minimum masters that are impossible to get into or alternative pathways that have insanely complex requirements, and then the more recent cash cow hurdle of to do an [sic] paper exam to enter into the profession.

AP from Melb, comment to SMH, 19 April 2023

What Labor plans to do

Stupidly, the Labor cut Medicare Better Access sessions from twenty to 10 last year.

Federal Health Minister, Butler, says he wants mental health care to be more accessible. However, Labor have no policy to reform it.

What can be done?

Before working on this post, my response was simple — take a leaf out of UK’s book. Mental health services should be fully covered Medicare. (Mental health under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been a disaster).

However, I realise this view is over idealistic. It looks like the training process for potential psychologists needs an overhaul. To be honest, it seems like a nightmare.

Red tape needs be cut in training psychologists. It shouldn’t be “impossible” to do a Masters or alternative pathway. Then maybe -— just maybe — psychologists might be more accessible. And, who knows, they may become properly covered under Medicare.

What do you think? How can mental health services improve? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Pauline Hanson condemned for NDIS cartoon

On Good Friday, One Nation’s Pauline Hanson YouTube channel Please Explain caused a stir. It mocked the (supposed) ‘rorts’ that have occurred in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

In the cartoon, characters refer to the NDIS as a “scam” and “rort”. It contains parodies of Coalition leader, Peter Dutton, Deputy Leader, Sussan Ley and Greens’ Jordon Steele – John, who is the first Australian senator who uses a wheelchair.

Here is the video:

In the video description, Hanson defends the cartoon:

We all know that Labor loves to spend your money like it’s going out of fashion but they have taken it to a new level with the NDIS.

While a National Disability Insurance Scheme to protect the most vulnerable sounds giood on paper the reality is the NDIS has become a scandal – plagued, scam-riddled, budget disaster.

Disability advocates condemn the video

Not surprisingly, disability advocates have condemned the video. People With Disability Australia (PWDA) and Advocacy For Inclusion (AFI) called the video “repugnant, hateful and discriminatory”.

The insensitive cruelty of this propaganda by the Hanson team stoops to new lows, with its offensive, inappropriate and inaccurate depictions of disability supports under the NDIS.

PWDA President, Nicole Lee

Wheelchair paralympian, Kurt Fearnley took to Twitter, saying he was “ashamed” for Australia to have One Nation.

Head of Policy at AFI and NDIS campaigner, Craig Wallace, echoed Lee’s condemnation:

The video inspires hatred against disabled people and is a particularly nasty and vile depiction of the lives of highly vulnerable people with a disability… it should be roundly condemned by all decent Australians, including our national leaders.

Another issue that Wallace had was the reference to the NDIS as a scam. He argued that people with disabilities were more likely to be a victim of a scam, rather than a perpetrator.

PWDA and AFI have requested that the video be removed and for Pauline Hanson to publicly apologise to the audience.

History of demonising the NDIS

One Nation aren’t the only ones who’ve demonised the NDIS. I’ve been very critical of Herald Sun’s reporting on the NDIS. I argued that the article gave no context in why items like iPads were needed.

Newscorp journalists have made outrageous claims of ways people were supposedly exploiting the NDIS.

In 2017, columnist Andrew Bolt claimed that gardeners were employed by families whose children were on the autism spectrum. There was no mention of severity, whether they were non – verbal, psychological challenges the children faced. Nothing.

I believe the demonisation of the NDIS, especially so vaguely, is dangerous.

In 2020, David Harris, then fifty – five, died after his NDIS funding was cut off. His sister, Leanne Longfellow, raised the alarm when she couldn’t get in contact with him. New South Wales Police later found him deceased in his home.

Before his funding was cut, Harris had a nurse to administer injections to treat his schizophrenia and diabetes. He also had a gardener and cleaner, who he lost after his funds were cut.

In 2018, Tim Rubenach died while waiting for for a tilt bed to help his severe epilepsy. It didn’t arrive, even after Rubenach had passed away.

I could go on and cite more cases, but you get the point.

The video is potentially dangerous

It’s clear the Pauline Hanson Please Explain video was satire and hyperbolic. However, it is potentially dangerous.

Demonising the NDIS and those on it risks funding being seriously slashed. People who need assistance will miss out again. And I fear people will die waiting again.

If someone is genuinely rorting the NDIS, prosecute them. If a NDIS provider is rorting the system, prosecute them. But leave the rest of the participants and providers alone.

For people on the NDIS, the services are essential. It gives them a level of control and independence. It allows people to live a life that most people take for granted. This shouldn’t be taken away because of fear – mongering.

What do you think about the Pauline Hanson Please Explain cartoon? Feel free to leave any thoughts below.