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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
Image: iStock

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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Opinion/Commentary

The ‘Religious Discrimination Bill was always an attack on the LGBTQ+ community

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The Religious Freedom Bill has been suspended indefinitely. Let’s hope it never sees the light of day.

This has been a big blow to Scott Morrison. It has disappointed conservatives and torn the Liberal National Party (LNP) apart.

The Religious Discrimination Bill has collapsed because it’s true intent has been exposed.

The ‘Folau clause’

This was the first victim of the Religious Discrimination Bill’s collapse.

Israel Folau was a Rugby Union champion who was sacked in 2019 after he repeatedly defied Rugby AustralIa by posting anti – LGBTQ posts on social media.

The last offending post was a paraphrase of modern translations of 1 Corinthians 6:9.

Folau threatened to sue Rugby Australia for religious discrimination. The case was settled outside court and Rugby Australia paid an undisclosed settlement to Folau.

The ‘Folau clause’ would have prevented employees being sacked under similar circumstances.

Citipointe Christian College contract controversy

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About a month ago, Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane came under fire after their enrolment contract that was leaked.

The contract denied the identities of trans and non – binary people. They also listed homosexuality as a sin among bestiality and paedophilia.

This caused fear for LGBTQ+ students. School principal, Brian Melhuran denied that students have been expelled for being LGBTQ+.

A former Citipointe Christian College student also alleged that students were shown a video of a person being beheaded in class as a deterrent to being LGBTQ+. Staff allegedly told students that’s what will happen in Hell.

The backlash against the school has been fierce. A change.org petition calling for a revocation of the contract gained over 150,000 signatures. In contrast, an Australian Christian Lobby petition defending the school has around 41,000 signatures.

As a result, Mulheran finally buckled and the contract was withdrawn.

Citipointe Christian students and Mulheran reported being harassed and receiving sdeath threats. This is NOT OK and shame on those who participate in that behaviour.

Citipointe fiasco causes panic and backflips

Scott Morrison has vowed to close existing loopholes in the Sex Discrimination Acts in numerous States. Currently, religious schools and institutions are exempt from discrimination laws against LGBTQ+ people.

Scott Morrison vowed to protect lesbian and gay students from expulsion from schools.

However, trans, non – binary people and their advocates were left disappointed. Trans and non – binary students were not granted the same protection.

Religious Discrimination Bill was always an anti – LGBTQ Bill

If something positive came out of Citipointe Christian College fiasco, it’s that the cat is out of the bag.

If the Religious Discrimination Bill, people like Brian Mulheran would have been emboldened.

Luckily, enough people saw through the spin. People were willing to stand up against bigotry. And as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I myself, I want to thank all those who stood up and protected vulnerable people.

Let’s never allow legislation that gives bigotry a foothold. We need to keep up the fight.

Do you agree disagree? Was the Religious Discrimination Act just an excuse to discriminate? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. below.

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

Image: iStock

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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Opinion/Commentary

Hillsong slammed for concert in the middle of pandemic

Hillsong Church
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Australian music artists have condemned Hillsong for a concert at a youth camp. At the camp, around 200 people were singing without masks. The camp took south of Newcastle last Thursday.

Artist, Catherine Alcorn condemned the event as a “complete slap in the face” and a  “disgrace” on Sky News Australia.

However, despite the controversy, the New South Wales police didn’t fine Hillsong. 

Hillsong has issued an apology, but has also claimed that covid protocols were in place. 

Youth at a worship concert
Image: iStock

 

 

Australian artists express outrage over camp

The Australian music industry has taken a major hit the past two years. This year, organisers cancelled Grapevine Gathering in the Hunter Valley.

It isn’t surprising artists were outraged over Hillsong’s camp and their special treatment.

Country singer Troy Cassar – Daley expressed outrage on social media:

While all other music festivals are heading down the toilet same as last year, Hillsong are no masks, singing and dancing like we’ve all been told not to do. 

Montaigne accused the New South Wales government of double standards.

Governments give churches special treatment

Technicalities aside, one thing seems clear here. Hillsong have been given special treatment. And they (as well as other churches), have received special treatment for years. 

The most obvious, is the tax exemptions. And while, yes, many churches do charity work and work with limited resources, Hillsong should be treated as a business. I’m sorry, but they should be.

Over the years, Australian churches and church – run institutions such as schools, have been exempt from sections of laws such as the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

Sections 37 and 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act allow Christian organisations the right to refuse to employ or fire openly LGBTQ+ people if in “good faith”.

Is it any wonder why religious organisations flout rules and laws? From anti – discrimination, to covid restrictions? 

Jesus didn’t bend public rules

Before people come on here and slam me for “persecuting Christians” (I am one, by the way), let me just say this.

While Jesus was on earth, he didn’t advocate for anyone to flout the law. He demanded that his followers pay taxes. And they were under Rome.

Not once did he seek special favours from the government (again, they were under Rome).

Do you think he would have breached — or at least arrogantly taken advantage of grey areas in safety protocol? I can’t see it myself.

True worship

True worship happens in the heart. It happens in Spirit. True worship doesn’t demand that we take the law into our own hands. It doesn’t require us to expose loopholes in health mandates.

 

Christians should be a beacon of God’s light. And, yes, plenty of them are. However, it’s a shame that too often, scandals and law – bending are what Christians known for. Let’s reverse it. Go back to shining Christ’s light again. Within restraints of the law and to an extent, public expectations.

What do you think? Was Hillsong in the wrong? Should have they been fined? Let me know your thoughts 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
Image: iStock

 

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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Opinion/Commentary

Let’s broaden discussions on mental health and fix the system

Paper head with heart in the brain

Image: iStock

 

Content Warning: mental health and suicide

Last week had RUOK Day and Suicide Awareness Day. Media personalities and my former high school were encouraging people to check in on loved ones and reach out.

That’s all lovely. I mean it. Everyone has times when they need to talk about issues. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on.

But what if your issues run deeper? What if you are really at crisis point?

Psychotherapies: a major gap in mental health

When RUOK Day comes around, there’s focus on depression, anxiety and the devastating affects of suicide.

While these discussions are a must, I believe there needs to be more. There are more mental illnesses that need advocacy and treatments. These include (but not limited to):

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

All these disorders have a higher suicide rate compared to the general population.

The mental health discussion doesn’t go into the need for psychotherapies such as: dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These are beyond the scope of Lifeline and Beyond Blue.

Mental health: a gap in Australia’s Medicare system

Australia has Medicare. It was first introduced in 1984. For the most part, Medicare allows Australians to access GPs and public hospitals for treatment without being left thousands of dollars out of pocket.

However, when it comes to mental health, there is a massive gap.

The Better Access Initiative

The Better Access Initiative is a scheme that gives eligible people the access to mental health services they need.

Unfortunately, it has its limits. According to Australia’s Department of Health website, the scheme offers 10 individual and 10 group therapy sessions a year.

For some people, this may be adequate. But if you require weekly or bi-weekly therapy, it’s not. For example, to be affective, a person with BPD needs bi-weekly DBT sessions a year. That’s at least 52 individual and 52 group therapy.

Australian Psychological Society encouraged change

In 2019, the Australian Psychological Society published a media release. They warned that the access to mental health services to Australians who needed it was inadequate.

In the media release, APS made a number of recommendations including:

  • More individual sessions available
  •  Group therapy sessions
  • An increase in therapy sessions for families and carers

Now, I’m guessing the Australian Government has implemented the changes by making the increase from ten to 20 sessions a year.

The APS should fight for more.

Follow UK’s example: make mental health free

Australia should look toward UK’s National Health Service (NHS). I get it has its pitfalls, but it’s philosophy is good. Mental health services should be free, even if a referral from a GP or psychiatrist is required.

Maybe the current Medicare Levy may need to be increased. Boris Johnson recently increased NHS rate another 1.25%. Maybe we should do similar here.

How much is a life worth? How much is mental health worth?

At minimum, the Government should  offer free services to people with serious mental health conditions. It may just save lives.

 

People with serious and chronic mental health issues need more than platitudes. They need more than once – a – year campaigns. They need services that they can access without going out of pocket.

What do you think? What changes can the Australian Government make to improve mental health care? Let me know your thoughts below.

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Victoria faces bullying crisis

Girl devastated as she is bullied by a group of girls
Image: iStock

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