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Roe vs Wade was always at risk

US Supreme Court, Washington D.C
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Quick note: This post isn‘t about my views on abortion. Instead, I want to focus on the possible repercussions.

This week, Politico revealed leaked documents that confirmed SCOTUS judges’ plans to overturn Roe v Wade. Next month, SCOTUS will make the final ruling.

This will take abortion legislation away from Federal law and back to the States.

At least twenty States will criminalise abortion outright if Roe v Wade is overturned. It’s speculated that Texas will push forward snap legislation to outlaw abortion in most circumstances.

1973 ruling

In January 1973, a large majority of Supreme Court judges (7 – 2) ruled to restrict states’ ability to outlaw abortion.

This was in response to a 1970 court case, ‘Jane Roe’ (real name, Norma McCorvey) and Dallas district attorney, Henry Wade.

The Supreme Court disagreed with McCorvey’s demand to exclusive abortion rights, but agreed that a woman’s right to choose, to a degree, was in line with the Fourteenth Amendment. At the time, Justice Harry A Blackmun wrote:

We… conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation.

Justice Harry A Blackmun

Dobbs vs Jackson: the trigger

Last year, Dobbs vs Jackson challenged. Mississippi’s strong abortion restrictions.

Jackson Women’s Health Organisation argued the unconstitutionality of the Gestational Age Act. The 2018 Act criminalised abortions after fifteen weeks. Medical emergencies and foetal abnormalities were the only exceptions.

This contrasted from Roe vs Wade‘s stance that abortions can be performed for up to twenty – four weeks without State interference.

The US District Court ruled in Jackson Women’s Health Organisation’s favour. The law was ruled unconstitutional and had to cease.

Pro choice protest where a protester holds sign: “Keep abortion legal”
Image: iStock

What other rights are at risk?

If Roe vs Wade is overturned, then what else can be overturned?

Commentators have speculated that same – sex marriage and even interracial marriage could be up for scrutiny.

Personally, I highly doubt that interracial marriage will be attacked. I mean it’s 2022. People realise that people can marry each other regardless of race, yeah?

In contrast, I think Obgerfell vs Hodges is vulnerable.

I remember when news came out that SCOTUS granted same – sex marriage across all fifty states. People, (including me), put a rainbow filter on Facebook profile pictures.

However, not everyone was celebrating. Conservative commentators slammed the ruling, arguing that marriage was not a constitutional right. Not surprisingly, the same commentators hyperventilated when Australia was in the full throws of debate too. But I digress.

Same – sex marriage has also clashed with religious freedom. The one case that comes to mind was Kim Davis, a marriage clerk who was jailed after refusing marriage licenses to same – sex couples.

Owners of wedding cake businesses claimed that they faced hefty fines after refusing to make a wedding cake that a same – sex couple requested.

Given that SCOTUS has a conservative majority, it may be a nervous wait and see. From Australia, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for LGBTQ+ Americans that Obgerfell vs Hodges isn’t overturned.

Only time will tell what will happen in the US. Things can massively change for a lot of people.

What do you think? Do you think Roe v Wade will have repercussions on other rights? Let me know your thoughts.

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Children left hungry in childcare centres

Young children sitting down at a fable eating friit from lunchboxes
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This is infuriating.

According to Herald Sun, some childcare centres spend A65c on food per child. The food is often low in nutritional value. 

Some childcare coordinators and cooks admitted that they never spent more than A$5.00 of food a day. Some spent as little as A$2.15. That includes snacks. 

A Newscorp investigation revealed food offered children included: bread and butter and packet pasta. None of the food had any protein. 

In a United Workers Union survey, 2o% of directors and cooks thought the food budget wasn’t enough. 60% of respondents even bought food for the children out of their own pocket. 

In a private Facebook group, a commenter fumed:

I feed my dog more a a day than the budget I get. If parents knew they’d be appalled.

Dietitian from University of Queensland, Bonnie Searle witnessed children asking for seconds, but the food had run out. 

Searle also saw deceptive menus. Menus would advertise “gourmet sandwiches”, only for children to be offered Vegemite or jam sandwiches. 

Sometimes, childcare providers gave children fruit that had become brown and slimy.

Searle condemned centres for lack of nutrition:

A big plate of fruit is not going to keep children full. They need some fat and protein. The food groups we did not see enough of were vegetables and meat. 

Children who don’t get enough food or the right nutrition ran the risk of not being able to regulate their emotions or concentrate. 

Could this be contributing to rise in in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnoses?  Now, I do believe this is a genuine disorder, but it does make you wonder.

Why don’t parents just pack children food?

When I was reading about this, some people asked why can’t parents just pack their children food? Well, apparently, many centres don’t allow it for fears of allergic reactions. 

If this is the case, then everyone is in a no – win situation. 

It’s not good enough.

End private childcare and have it properly funded

People have told me a lack of food in childcare is neither surprising or uncommon. Coordinators of private childcare centres put profits over the well – being of children. 

If this is the case, there is one solution. The government has to fund childcare 100%. No more private providers. They obviously can’t be regulated properly. This goes for the aged care sector as well. 

When people bring this up, protesters complain and ask why should they pay for other people’s children? So what if you don’t have children? Do you have nieces? Nephews? Children of friends who call you their cool “aunt” or “uncle”?

I don’t have children. Most adults, including myself want to see children thrive. Children need a healthy environment, including healthy food. 

The National Quality Standard

In 2010, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) introduced the National Quality Standard. These were very strict and very detailed.

Since the Liberal National/ Coalition Party has been in power, these standards have been watered down. While Standard 2.1 covers a “healthy lifestyle”, there is no specific demand that a childcare provider must provided healthy food or water, like it did when the Australian Labor Party were in power. 

Maybe they should at least bring that standard back. And hold ALL centres to that standard. Children deserve it. 

 

What do you think about childcare? What improvements should be made? Do you think they should all be government run? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Kanye West’s meltdown shouldn’t be a surprise

Image of human face and a heart in the brain Image: iStock

Kanye West made headlines. Again. West has been accused of harassing Kim Kardashian’s current partner, Saturday Night Lives’ Pete Davidson after Davidson listened to West’s new album Donda 2. 

According to court documents, West:

“…disseminated on social media the parties’ private communications and misinformation about personal family matters and co – parenting which has caused emotional distress”.

Kim Kardashian told People magazine that she asked West to keep the divorce private. West didn’t respect her request.

Davidson quite social media

Pete Davidson has deleted his Instagram account since the incident with West. He denies that West was the reason he deleted the account.

Kanye West embraced by conservatives while his mental health was failing

Kanye West was embraced by conservatives when Donald Trump was the US President. 

YouTuber and podcaster, Kyle Kulinski saw West’s over the top behaviour as a red flag. Kulinski speculated that West had bipolar disorder. Turns out he was right.

While he originally denied it, West admitted to David Letterman that he’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and experienced paranoia.

Not long after this, West became a critic of the ‘Blexit’ movement – African – Americans who rejected the Democrats and their policies. Conservatives’ love affair with West had waned.

Last year, he professed that he became a Christian. He made the Christian – themed album, Jesus Is King.

Troubling behaviour that was ignored

Just a quick note: I’m not a mental health professional. What I’m about to write is based on my non – expert understanding of bipolar disorder.

Red flags of West’s behaviour have gone back years:

  • In 2009, when Taylor Swift was accepting her MTV Video Music .Award. West jumped up on stage declaring that Beyoncé should have won the award
  • When Forbes magazine interviewed him, West reportedly ranted for hours, not allowing the journalist to speak
  • His visit with Donald Trump at the White House. Again, no impulse control. This is where West actually denied he had bipolar, saying his behaviour was due to sleep deprivatiob (side note: people with bipolar often experience sleep deprivation, which in turn exacerbates their symptoms).
  • His bizarre tweets, talking about Donald Trump and “dragon energy”. This nonsensical tweet was praised by commentator, Daisy Cousens. Kulinski sawxit as the red flag it was.

Apart from these signs, Kim Kardashian has shared on Twitter that West goes to a “sunken place”, hinting at West’s episodes of depression.

These are just a few incidents. They should have raised alarms, not praise.

Kanye West took aim at family

West’s behaviour went even more bizarre. In 2020, he went on a Twitter rant against Kardashian and his ex – mother – in – law Kris Jenner.

In the tweets, West accused Jenner of “White surpremacy at its highest”. He also wrote:

This Ye. You wanna talk. Or go to war?

He expressed paranoia and accused Kardashian of wanting to “lock me [West] up”.

Final note. I’m not saying that people who suffer from bipolar are inherently abusive. And there is no excuse for abusive behaviour. My point is that Kanye West has had a history of problematic and possibly pathological behaviour. Much of it was largely ignored or praised in the media. That’s not OK.

If you’re in Australia and are struggling mentally, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you want help or information, you can also go to Beyond Blue or call them on 1300 2264 636.

One more thing: Australia will have a Federal Election in a few months. I’ll encourage anyone to wrote to their MP and demand that mental healthvbe properly covered under Medicare.

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Christian school backtracks on contract and PM vows change to Religious Freedom bill. A win for the LGBTQ+ community?

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Did Australia see ‘religious freedom’ in action?

Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College came under fire when they demanded parents of would – be students sign a contract that called homosexual and bisexual ‘acts’ a sin. They also refused to acknowledge the gender identity of a student who was trans or non – binary.

The contract listed homosexuality and bisexuality as ‘sins’, along with bestiality, fornication and incest. Unlike what other reports I’ve seen, no, the contract didn’t liken bestiality, etc with homosexuality and bisexuality.

The backlash

The condemnation was swift and fierce. A petition calling to recall the contract gained over 150,000 signatures. This is in contrast with an Australian Christian Lobby petition defending the school, which got around 30,000 signatures.

Pastor and Principal, Brian Mulheran dug his heels in, but denied that LGBTQ+ students get expelled for their orientation or gender identity:

While I have been principal at the college, we have not expelled or refused to enrol any student on the basis that they are gay or transgender.

Former students spoke out against the school. One student even alleged a disturbing incident when students saw a video of authorities beheading LGBTQ+ people to act as a deterrent. 

Last Friday, advocates organised a protest at King George Square in Brisbane.

Parents refused to sign contract

Parents told the ABC in an article that they refused to sign the contract. They condemned the college of discriminating against students on the basis of religion, as well as gender and sexuality. 

They argued that the contract violated Christian values. That depends on how you define ‘Christian values”. Do you define “Christian values” based on the Golden Rule? Or a modern loose interpretation on a handful of passages in the Bible? Pastor Mulheran apparently defines it by the latter.

The problem with ‘just go to another school’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned discrimination against LGBTQ+ students. He even vowed that the pending Religious Discrimination Bill will actually protect LGBTQ+ students.

He has also promised that he’ll try and reverse anti – discrimination exemptions that are in place in a number of Australian States and Territories. 

These ‘promises’ have faced opposition among the Liberal/ National Party members.

One common argument against protections is that parents should ‘just look for another school’.

There are a few problems with this. Citipointe Christian College is K – 12. Children may not realise their LGBTQ+ by the time they are four or five. 

Some don’t know exactly what their sexuality or gender identity is until years later. So, if a student, who has been at Citipointe Christian College from Kindergarten, realise they may be gay at sixteen, what, should they just leave? It doesn’t make sense. Put the onus on schools, not parents or students.

 

Schools need to be inclusive

I’ve written before about my struggle with my sexuality when I was at school. It was hard to admit I was struggling with my sexuality in school. And I was offered nothing but support.

I’d hate to think how it would’ve been if the school wasn’t supportive. This is why I strongly believe that all schools should be welcoming and accepting of all students. They need to be a safe place for students, especially if they are not supported by parents or caregivers. Discrimination against students can’t be tolerated.

Latest updates

Pastor Mulheran released an ‘apology’ of sorts. There have been calls for him to resign. He is currently taking leave. It’s not known when/ if he’ll return. 

In Parliament, the Religious Discrimination Act and discrimination act exemptions are being debated.

My take? Scrap the exemptions and forget the Religious Discrimination Act. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people was always the aim of the Religious Discrimination Act.

What do you think of Citipointe Christian College or the Religious Discrimination Act debate? Feel free to put your thoughts (respectfully) in the comments below.

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A – League player condemns homophobic abuse

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A – League player, Josh Cavallo publicly spoke out about homophobia he experienced while playing against Melbourne Victory last weekend. Spectators abused him while he was on the field and on Instagram.

He described the events as “disappointing”.

He also attacked Instagram for not doing enough to combat abuse.

To @instagram, I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages I’ve received.

He went on:

I knew truly being who I am that I was going to come across this. It’s a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.

Football community offer support to Cavallo 

Luckily, Cavallo has received a lot of support within the sporting community.

When addressing the bullying, Australian Professional Leagues (APL) chief executive, Danny Townsend promised that the league would “issue sanctions to any people found to be involved”. 

Additionally, Melbourne Victory also vowed to work with Adelaide United and others to stamp out abuse. 

Lastly, PFA co – chief executives Beau Busch and Kathryn Gill condemned the abuse as “abhorrent” and “illustrated their [the bullies’] cowardice”.

Professional Football’s mixed history with the LGBTQ+ community

Australian football codes has a mixed history with LGBTQ+2 rights.

NRL player Ian Roberts was the first player to come out as gay in 1995. Unfortunately, he became a victim of a violent homophobic hate crime. 

In 2010 former Western Bulldogs champion, Jason Akermanis said that footballers shouldn’t come out as gay. He said he didn’t want gay footballers hitting on other men in the change rooms. He denied that he was homophobic.

Even if Akermanis didn’t intend to be homophobic, I think most people can agree that his comments were ignorant. It isn’t as if lesbian, gay, bi and homoromantic people hit on all members of the same – sex that they see. But I digress…

In 2015, the AFL premiered Pride Round. This was to commemorate the coming out of former footballer, Jason Ball back in 2012. The Sydney Swans and St. Kilda Saints battle each other in the Pride Round each year. 

The National Rugby League (NRL) have also publicly supported the LGBTQ+ community. 

On NRL’s website, they have a page openly supporting the LGBTQ+ community. The league claims that they are:

…proud to participate in Pride In Sport (PIS) Index; a recenlty established benchmarking instrument designed to measure and advise on the creation of inclusive and equitable environments for LGBTI players…

Is football still victim of macho culture?

Professional sport, especially football, has come a long way in LGBTQ+ inclusion. But old habits die hard. 

Even though same – sex marriage was legalised in Australia in 2017, it seems some people still have potentially outdated views about football, gender and sexuality. 

The football codes still have to be wary of largely outdated views on masculinity. Yes, gay, bi and pansexual men are ‘macho’ enough to play football, regardless of code. 

Also, why is someone’s sexuality a determinant on whether or not someone can play sport? Isn’t that what critics are always saying? To keep sexuality out of the public/ work, etc?

Yet, it’s critics that complain and harass LGBTQ+ public figures. It’s the trolls and bullies that keep shining a spotlight on a person’s personal life. Leave LGBTQ+ alone! It’s that simple!

YOU keep out of other people’s bedroom. YOU stop gawking when a same – sex couple hold hands or *gasp* kiss. And mind your own business. 

If you are LGBTQ+ and are struggling mentally, you can contact QLIfe on 1800 184 527 or their web chat

 

 

 

 

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Mental health crisis: ED patients in mental distress say they won’t go back

Emergency Department sign
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TW: suicidal ideation, mental health distress. If these issues are triggering for you, please proceed with care. Seek help if you need it.

A mental health not – for – profit conducted a study that had worrying results.

The Black Dog Institute surveyed 911 participants in NSW and the ACT. Almost half of respondents who experienced suicidal distress said they would refuse to return to emergency departments or seek out further treatment.

43.5% of respondents said they wouldn’t seek out help from ED staff if they experienced suicidal distress.

Reasons given included: long delays, incomplete assessments and a lack of resources.

Associate Professor for Black Dog Institute, Fiona Shand outlined problems faced by many professionals and patients:

They know what the problems are, and they want to do more, but the processes and lack of resourcing don’t allow them to spend adequate time with patients or work in the way they would like.

 

A sign of a broken system

A participant from ACT opened up about her harrowing experience. She claimed that she went to the ED for suicidal thoughts in 2019. It exacerbated her anxiety.

Staff fast – tracked her, only to abandon her for hours. She said the experience left her “agitated”. The isolation could’ve been dangerous. When left on her own, she claimed she could leave the facility with no detection, or self – harm.

If this isn’t a sign of a broken system, I don’t know what is. Something needs to change. And it needs to change now.

People with serious mental health issues are being let down

Depressed woman sitting down distressed
Image: iStock

I’ve written before about the need to fix Australia’s mental health system.

I firmly believe that Medicare should cover mental health completely.

For patients who are diagnosed with a severe mental illness, psychology therapies should be free. An example of a country that does this is the UK.

The Government needs to expand Medicare

Why the hell are people with serious mental health issues going to ED? Because people can’t afford psychology appointments?

Will lifting the cap on Medicare reduce the need for ED admissions? Maybe.

However, if suicidal people do appear in ED, doctors and nurses need to know how treat them.

Effects of good mental health

There are reasons why I keep banging on about this. Good mental health means a better society.

If we improved mental health in our society we will improve:

  • Employment prospects: According to Urban Design Mental Health, poor mental health damages a person’s employment prospects. People with mental illnesses are 10 – 15 per cent more likely to be unemployed.
  • Family: When a person has a severe mental illness, family members are most likely to be carers. This can affect the carer’s employment, health, etc.
  • Homelessness: Another issue that people pay lip service to. 30 – 35% of homeless people are seriously mentally ill.

Too many people are literally dying because of poor mental health. More people are suffering in silence or are getting inadequate care. Enough is enough.

If you’re Australian, feel free to sign this petition for mental health to be properly funded under Medicare. 

 

 

 

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Victoria faces bullying crisis

Girl devastated as she is bullied by a group of girls
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Trigger Warning: bullying

According to Herald Sun, students in the Australian state of Victoria are facing a bullying crisis.

Bullies told a girl to “f-ing kill yourself” in a viral video. The victim attended Greater Shepparton Senior College.

This isn’t the first incident. Bullying has been a huge issue across the Greater Shepparton area. One parent said:

I freeze every time I get a call from the school because I’m worried something has happened again.

As a result, parents are calling for more schooling options. The local government conducted a survey where 94% of parents said they needed more options in the area.

Cyber – bullying skyrockets during pandemic

Teen gets bullied via text
Image: iStock
Cyber – bullying has exploded across Victoria during lockdowns. Children as young as 12 have been victims. Victorian police have warned that bullying has “…serious consequences in the real world”.

Social media companies have failed to stamp out bullying

This infuriates me. Parents have alerted social media platforms like Instagram and SnapChat about bullying content. Unfortunately, social media companies haven’t acted appropriately. Social media companies haven’t taken harmful content down.

Social media companies need to be held accountable. Governments need to introduce laws holding social media companies responsible for what’s posted. If users flag bullying or illegal content, they should be forced to act. If companies fail, they should be heavily fined at minimum.

 

Bullying becomes discriminatory

Children are facing racism, sexism and homophobia. That really hits me hard.

It’s disheartening. It should be a thing of the past. I really hope that victims of such abuse can find at least one adult that they can trust.

Fighting bullying seems to be a never ending battle. That we are losing.

We need more mental health professionals

Late last year, I wrote about the mental health crisis facing Australian youth. Anxiety, depression, ADD/ ADHD and conduct disorder diagnoses are on the rise.

Just looking through Google, it’s clear to me that Australian schools need more psychologists and/ or social workers.

The Liberal National/ Coalition introduced a program to employ chaplains. Apparently it’s cheaper than employing psychologists or social workers.

The National School Chaplaincy Program is still around, despite controversy  My concern is chaplains’ potential lack of training and education of chaplains, compared to social workers and psychologists. Will chaplains be able to deal with complex mental health issues that children are facing?

While chaplains can attain a Bachelor degree in Social Work or Counselling, they often obtain  Certificate IV in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care.

In contrast, an Australian social worker needs a Bachelor in Social Work at minimum. The Australian Society of Social Workers then assess aspiring social workers. Some social workers also gain a Master’s degree.

To be a clinical psychologist, the process is even more intense. According to the Australian Psychological Society, students have to complete a Bachelor degree in Psychological Science, plus an extra year for clinical study or an internship.

I’m not trying to disrespect chaplains. They can play a role in helping young people. However, psychologists and social workers can deal with complex social and mental health issues.

It’s time to take bullying seriously. Enough is enough.

If this post has raised any issues for you, feel free to contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or http://www.lifeline.org.au

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

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Simone Biles and the dangerous pressure athletes face

Ariake Gymnastics Centre
Image: iStock

U.S’s Simone Biles pulled out of the gymnastics finals last week.

Originally, Biles cited medical reasons for pulling out. Later, she cited mental health concerns.

Biles’ decision has faced condemnation. U.S commentator, Charlie Kirk slammed Biles as a “sociopath”.

Newscorp columnist/ commentator, Andrew Bolt was more sympathetic, but said “she shouldn’t be praised for quitting”.

Biles even got backlash from mental health professionals. Child psychologist, Clare Rowe, told Andrew Bolt that Biles had a “temper tantrum”. She also criticised a quitter mentality, claiming it sends the wrong message:

My concern, Andrew, is the message that it gives. She [Biles] gave the message recently that children should know that it’s OK to say you’re great at things. I don’t mind that message. If you’re genuinely good at something, own it. I don’t mind that. But I don’t like the message that if things don’t work out – that once you start something – you are going to quit. 

She made a point about what children should learn about team work:

…I like the message that you try your best at all times. And if you stuff up, you keep going, particularly in a team sport. 

I will agree with Bolt and Rowe on one thing. It probably wasn’t smart for Biles to claim she was great prematurely. 

Olympians under pressure

The Simone Biles controversy has exposed potential dangers of competitive sport. Supporters of Biles have argued that competitive gymnasts need to be at the top of their game (no pun intended), or risk serious injury.

Political youtuber, Kyle Kulinski was torn about the controversy, but acknowledged that Olympians are put under extreme pressure.

Kulinski also called the Olympics a “scam” and, using the logic, backed Biles.  

As history has shown, the pressure can have detrimental consequences.

The tragedy of Elena Mukhina

On Mamamia, Erin Docherty wrote about Elena Mukhina. Elena Mukhina was a Soviet gymnast in 1978 to 1980. 

In 1979, she suffered an injury. However, she was still pressured to train and compete.

At the Moscow Olympics, the then 20 – year – old Mukhina attempted the now banned Thomas salto

The result was disastrous. 

Mukhina suffered a fall that broke her neck. That left her paralysed for the rest of her life until her untimely death in 2006.

The aftermath exposed a Soviet coverup and close calls when other athletes attempted the same move. Finally, in the late 2010’s, the move was banned. 

Over forty years later, the Elena Mukhina tragedy and Simone Biles have exposed the extreme pressure athletes are under. It makes clear that everyone does have a limit that can’t be crossed. 

End of a fairytale

The fairytale of the Olympics I was fed in 2000 are over. 

The Tokyo Olympics has exposed how brutal the training and performing regime for athletes can be. It’s tough on athletes both physically and mentally. And, it can be dangerous if athletes are pushed too far beyond their limits. 

For that reason alone, Simone Biles may have made the right call. 

What do you think about Simone Biles pulling out of gymnastics finals? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

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Australian MP pushes for loot box restrictions

Two children under bed covers playing video games
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Australian Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie is pushimg for restrictions on video games that feature loot boxes.

According to Herald Sun, Wilkie condemned loot boxes as “barely disguised gambling”.

 

What are loot boxes?

According to Parent Zone, loot boxes are “virtual treasure chests”. They allow players to change weapns or characters.

Due to the rise of online gaming, the dynamic of gaming has changed. Buying a computer game is no longer a one – time purchase. Computer games, (including iPads, phones, etc) often require players to buy a subscription, rewards or coins to advance in the game. This is why loot boxes are concerning.

 

Gambling and the role of parents and caregivers

Children gambling is a growing concern. Earlier this year, Sydney Morning Herald reported 40 per cent of NSW children aged 12 – 17 were playing games with features that emulate gambling. 

Games featuring loot boxes, coins and rewards proved concerning. 3.7% of children studied were considered problem gamblers or at high risk.

There are a number of risk factors to this worrying trend. Parents who gamble are a risk factor. 58 per cent of children who gambled also had parents who gamble. 20 per cent had grandparents who did.

This makes sense. Addiction often has a genetic component. Also, parental modelling is important. Children often pick up habits and stressors from their families. This is why I think the issue deserves a holistic approach.

 

Problem gambling and mental health

Problem gambling is mental illness. Fourth Edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM IV) listed problem gambling as an impulse control disorder.

Additionally, problem gambling often co – occurs with other mental conditions.

According to the Department of Health and Aging, problem gambling has similarities to substance use disorder. People with pre – existing mood disorders, especially depression, are at higher risk for problem gambling.

Chronic isolation can also make problem gambling worse. Due to COVID and restrictions, it wouldn’t be surprising if addictions were exacerbated, including among children and teens.

Politicians need to take mental health seriously if they want to attack this issue. They should seriously consider making all psychotherapies free under Medicare. They also need to ensure there are adequate services.

Additionally, there needs to be adequate guidance counsellors and social workers need to be in schools. 

 

Mother supports Wilkie’s proposal

Faye James, mother of son Pablo, eight, supports the bill.

This kind of bill is fundamental. We need to make parents aware of what they’re getting their kids into. Restrictions and transparency is key.

I don’t disagree that restrictions should be in place. Children should not have free access to gambling – style games.

However, I can’t help but think this is a Band – Aid solution. Focus on mental health and access to appropriate services. Make sure that children get the support they need. And, maybe we’ll see the problem decrease. 

If you are in Australia and you or someone you know is struggling mentally, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (they also have a web chat)

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (for people under 25 or their parents or caregivers)

As always, for those outside Australia, feel free to offer any contact information to mental health services below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Education Union calls for NAPLAN to be scrapped

School students taking test in hall
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The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is  under fire.

Australian Education Union president Correna Haythorpe has called for the program to be abolished:

NAPLAN has been plagued by a lack of credibility with teachers and parents for years. It is time for the Federal Government to scrap NAPLAN for good and replace it with a new sample – based assessment strategy that has students and teachers at its heart.

The purpose of NAPLAN

Across Australia, students sit for NAPLAN tests in Years Three, Five, Seven and Nine.

student writing
Image: iStock

The tests focus on a range of skills such as comprehension, spelling and grammar, creative writing and mathematics skills.

NAPLAN was around when I was at school. I remember taking it in Years Three, Five, Seven and Nine.

Teachers used NAPLAN results to assess students’ abilities. They could also see the areas students needed help.

From helping tool to competition

The invention of the MySchool website in 2010, made NAPLAN contentious.

Rather than teachers focusing on improvements and struggles of students, school reputation was the focus.

In 2016, a Sydney public school came under fire when a student was asked to stay home in fear that the student would drag the school average down.

The parent of the child received a letter from the school about the request. The excuse given was to avoid “stress” for the student.

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) warns teachers not to exclude students.

Other recommendations from ACARA

On their website, ACARA endorses NAPLAN. Its recommendations for teachers and parents include:

  • Tell the students to do the best they can that day
  • Avoid cramming and coaching leading to the tests
  • Parents should ask teachers questions

ACARA and the media

The media have right to publish results by ACARA under Freedom of Information and Copyright Act 1968.

Any journalists who wish to report on results are responsible for gaining copyright clearances.

NAPLAN could have merit

I’m not an educator, teacher or education researcher. I took the NAPLAN tests in Years Three, Five, Seven and Nine.

When I sat for NAPLAN, I was average. One of my biggest weaknesses was comprehension and creative writing was my strength. I think that’s an accurate presentation of me, especially throughout school.

My primary school and high school didn’t worry or emphasise on results. It wasn’t a competition. The aim was to see where students’ strengths were and where they needed help.

I’m not sure whether NAPLAN itself is a terrible tool. But I think it’s original purpose is lost.

I think the MySchool website should be abolished. That’s when issues seemed to start.

NAPLAN’s focus should be on helping children in English and Mathematics. Any areas students struggle in should ne addressed.

NAPLAN shouldn’t be about the egos of schools. Unfortunately, I think what NAPLAN’s become.

Bring back NAPLAN’s original intent. Then maybe it could benefit ALL teachers and students.

 

What are your views on NAPLAN? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.