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News Opinion/Commentary

New rules introduced for Santa and family photos

Santa holding a small coffee cup
Image: iStock

Santa is coming to town.

But the lead up to Christmas is going to be different this year.

Herald Sun reported that Westfield has introduced strict COVID safe guidelines when Santa comes to town.

Strict social distancing guidelines will apply for both adults and children.

Children will not be able to sit on Santa’s lap, regardless of age. Instead, they will sit 1.5m (4.92 ft) away from Santa. It’s also possible that face masks will have to worn in all States and Territories, except Western Australia.

Also, interactions with Santa will need to be booked in advance. This is to avoid crowds.

Despite these restrictions, people are still optimistic.

Group General Manager of Centre Experience, Lillian Fadel said:

We’re delighted to be welcoming Santa to our centres to meet families this festive season.

Five – year – old, Mia Angell is excited.

I have been a little bit naughty, but a lot nicer. I am very excited to see Santa because he gives me presents.

Proof of vaccination

Staff will ask shoppers over the age of 16 to show proof of double vaccination. This will happen as shoppers enter.

Well it’s not ‘essential shopping’. So… I guess, I get it.

Changes to family photos

Family photos will also change. Retailers are asking families to remain social distanced. Photographers will make the photos landscape, rather than portrait.

 

Some Herald Sun commenters aren’t happy. One complained that this will make the family photos more expensive.

They have also pointed out inconsistencies. TheVictorian Government has allowed the Melbourne Cup, where thousands of people will be.

I get distance between the families and the photographer. But the families themselves?

When will it end?

I get it. COVID-19 is still around. It’s still infecting people around the world.

When is enough, enough? When will people be genuinely free? Frankly, it makes efforts that people have made look pointless.

What about vaccines?

New South Wales have already surpassed 80% double vaccination goal. 55.5% of people in Victoria are fully vaccinated.

I thought the whole point of vaccinations was going back to ‘normal’.

So, it should be OK for children in NSW to sit on Santa’s lap. Right?

Why do children have to be social distanced? Is it because children below 16 can’t get vaccinated (for now)?

In further news…

According to Forbes, malls in the US have tried to implement similar restrictions.

Children are expected to social distance from Santa and sit behind a protective window or dome. In some malls, Santa will be given a mask.

Also, for the rest of the year, US shoppers are expected to avoid shopping at malls, or only go once.

Shopper tracking firm, Sensormatic predicted a 22 to 25% drop in shoppers compared to 2019.

 

It seems like we need to live with this long term. The virus is not going to go away. The restrictions are not going to to away, either.

I’m glad that children are able to see Santa in stores. It’s better than nothing.

What are your views of these moves by shopping centres? Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

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News Opinion/Commentary Social media

YouTube cracks down on misinformation. How far will they go?

YouTube logo
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YouTube has vowed to crack down on vaccine ‘misinformation’.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported YouTube was cracking down on ‘misinformation on the COVID-19 and other vaccines. As a result, YouTube has already removed over 130,000 videos. 

YouTube has seen a worrying trend surrounding vaccine misinformation.

“We’ve steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general.

YouTube said they won’t penalise creators for sharing personal experiences. They also promised to allow content that talked ahput vaccine trials and historical successes and failures of vaccines.

Controversial osteopath and lawyer among the banned

YouTube banned American osteopath, Dr Joseph Mercola. 

He lamented on Twitter:

Anyone who asks questions or challenges the hard sell is immediately censored on social media.

Lawyer, Robert F Kennedy has also complained about the crackdown Through a representative, he lamented:

Free speech is the essential core value of a liberal democracy. All other rights and ideals rest upon it. There is no instance in history when censorship and secrecy have advanced either democracy or public health.

These bans have caused outrage overseas. YouTube banned Germany’s RTDE from posting on their channel. YouTube has also banned Russia’s RT channel from uploading further content.

Russia’s foreign ministry has slammed YouTube’s actions as “flagrant censorship and [a] suppression of freedom of expression”.

“Ad – pocalypse”: a reason to be wary

When I first read about this, I was skeptical.

I can’t help but think about what happened in 2016 and 2017. The ‘ad – pocalypse” saw the relationship between content creators and YouTube irreparably damaged. 

For those who don’t know, YouTube cracked down on content they deemed not “family friendly”. One YouTuber that fell victim to this crackdown was Swedish gaming YouTuber, Pewdie Pie. 

In 2017, Ad – pocalypse heated up. Major businesses, such as Amazon and Coca Cola revolted against YouTube after their ads were found on extremist content.

This revolt made Google lose almost US$1billion (US$750million to be exact). 

In response, YouTube cracked down on questionable and “borderline” content. Meaning: everyone who is not CNN or MSNBC have seen their AdSense revenue, views and subscriber count tank or climb at a snail pace.

Content creators have turned to other means of making income, such as Patreon and SubscribeStar to keep afloat. 

Secular Talk‘s Kyle Kulinski has been a vocal critic, claiming that his analytics have suffered ever since.

This is why I’m skeptical about Google’s latest move. Any independent creator with any criticisms or queries about vaccines will probably be penalised. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News will remain favoured by YouTube’s algorithm. 

I find it hard to believe that people who open up about adverse effects from vaccines will not be penalised. YouTube’s algorithm are less than perfect. From my understanding, they rely on tags. Tags don’t usually tell the context of the video.

So, if you talk about the ‘covid vaccine’ as a tag, YouTube may disable AdSense or otherwise penalise you, regardless of your intent.

Big Tech corporations have a habit of going too far when monitoring content. This should make all social media users wary, regardless of your views.

What do you think about Google’s anti – vaccine crackdown? Justified or too far? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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News Opinion/Commentary

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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News Opinion/Commentary

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

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News Opinion/Commentary

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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News Opinion/Commentary

Australian MP pushes for loot box restrictions

Two children under bed covers playing video games
Image: iStock

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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News Opinion/Commentary

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. 

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News Opinion/Commentary Uncategorized

Australian children face a mental health crisis

Mental health image of brain
Image: iStock

According to Natasha Bita in the Herald Sun, Australian children and teenagers are facing a mental health crisis. (Mental Health 360: Shocking rise in Aussie teens being medicated, 2 December 2020).

1 in 13 teens are taking antidepressants and/or other psychiatric drugs.

Health and youth experts claim COVID-19 is a factor to this worrying trend. 87,781 primary school – aged children and 134,439 teenagers were prescribed medications for various mental disorders over 2018/2019.

What diagnoses children are receiving?

Not surprisingly, anxiety and depression are major issues facing a number of children. What’s worrying is that primary school and preschool – aged children are also being diagnosed.

Yourtown chief executive, Tracey Adams told Herald Sun that domestic violence is exacerbating these rates.

Children are also being diagnosed with other conditions, including ADD/ ADHD, psychosis and conduct disorder.

The increase in conduct disorder diagnoses has surprised and alarmed me. How can more children be diagnosed? Is it over diagnosis; an accusation commonly aimed at ADD/ADHD?

Or is it something else? As I wrote before, alarms surrounding domestic violence have been raised. According to Better Health Channel, parental aggression (particularly from the father) and domestic violence are risk factors that can trigger the disorder.

Government response

To be honest, I think that the Federal and State governments have failed in this area. It’s too little, too late.

Only now has the Government offered Kids Helpline extra funding for fifty more counsellors. Why wasn’t enough support put in before the pandemic hit?

I think this exposes the great flaws in the Australian mental health system as a whole. There isn’t enough support for those who need it, but haven’t reached breaking point.

Parents play vital role

Psychologist and founder of Parentshop, Michael Hawton told Herald Sun that most anxiety in children is “learned”.

If kids are surrounded by parents who are highly rushed and speaking and behaving anxiously, it’s hard for them to not pick up on that.

He also suggested that parents teach children about facing problems head on rather than avoiding them. Emotional reactivity should also be minimised.

Blaming social media and anxious parents doesn’t solve the problem

Many commenters on the Herald Sun article have blamed social media (surprised?). But to me, the issue is much bigger.

There are obviously children and teenagers that need ongoing help. Some may need different therapies, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). There may be children that need to be removed from violent or abusive homes. Victims of bullies need support to have their self – esteem built back up.

Psychologists and/ or Masters qualified Social Workers need to be employed in all schools.

Also, I really do think the Australian mental health system needs an overhaul. Medicare is grossly inadequate in funding mental health.

The Australian mental health system seems to help two types of people: those who don’t need ongoing professional help. Or, the other extreme: those who are at high risk of harm or suicide.

Both State and Federal Governments have failed in dealing with psychological costs of lockdown and COVID-19. Counselling services should have been properly funded in the first place. It isn’t good enough.

Lastly, all mental health costs should be covered by the Government. If not through Medicare, through other means.

 

What are you thoughts? How can people with mental or behavioural conditions be helped?

 

 

 

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News Opinion/Commentary

Should the lyrics to Advance Australia Fair change? Here are my thoughts.

Treble clef on Australian flag
Image: iStock

Should we change the lyrics to Australia’s national anthem Advance Australia Fair?

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk  and New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berijiklian agree that we should.

The source of contention is the word “young” in the first verse:

Australians all let us rejoice

For we are young and free

(emphasis mine)

Berijiklian argues “young” ignores thousands of years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history.

People like Berijiklian want the word “one” to replace it.

 

However, Herald Sun columnist and Sky News Australia presenter, Andrew Bolt blasted the proposal.

But the NSWPremier’s plan to change the words “young and free” to “one and free” is a con. The people she’s trying to please don’t want us to be “one” at all.

He argued that the people pushing these proposals want more division, not unity.

Proposals in the name of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inclusion

Over recent years, people have debated a number of proposals in the name of righting past wrongs.

Every year in January, the date of Australia Day (January 26) is hotly debated. 26 January highlights the arrival of British explorer, Captain Arthur Philip in 1788.

Some Aboriginal people find this as a tragic day. It’s the day that signifies the start of their displacement and destruction.

Similarly, more and more Caucasian Australians have joined the chorus for change.

The push to change the date has extended to social media. The hashtag #changethedate has trended over the years. Activist group, GetUp! has called for the date to be changed to May 8.

Issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

To be honest, I find a lot of this to be fluff. It will change nothing. Not on a fundamental level, anyway.

There are a number of  issues facing Indigenous communities. These include:

  • lack of educational opportunities
  • poorer mental health outcomes
  • crime and domestic violence

 

Discrimination and alienation

More Aboriginal people are opening up with their experiences of racism. Some have gone to the media with numerous examples of alleged discrimination they’ve faced in their lives.

Earlier this year, actor, Meyne Wyatt did a passionate monologue on ABC’s Q & A. Wyatt described security being suspicious of him, taxi drivers ignoring him and cashiers serving him last in stores.

 

Wyatt also spoke of the treatment of former Sydney Swans footballer, Adam Goodes. A then – 13 year – old called Goodes an ‘ape’. His actions in response was hotly debated. Many praised his actions. However, others condemned Goodes, repeatedly pointing out the girl’s age.

 

When Aboriginal people bring up either domestic violence or racism, they are immediately howled down. They can’t win.

 

Surely, a step in the right direction is to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people speak. Let them speak about the issues affecting them and their communities.

 

I’ll say it again. None of these issues will change if our anthem does.

 

What are your thoughts? Should the lyrics of Advance Australia Fair change? Does it matter to you either way? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.