Workers Care About Kids At Risk

Aug 23, 2012

Earlier today, we were musing about the danger of society not taking care of its seniors. And we pointed out that the measure of a decent society is how it treats and cares for its children and its elderly. And, sure enough, workers in Kings Cross walked off the job today because of a threat by the state government to cripple the ability to help adolescent kids.

Here is what happened, per The Australian:

The Public Services Association (PSA) says the Department of Community Services is currently reviewing funding of the Kings Cross Adolescent Unit, which has been operating since 1986.

“We’ve got a government trying to clean up Kings Cross but they can’t give a guarantee that this unit, which does that work, will be kept open,” said PSA assistant-secretary Steve Turner.

The union and other Sydney-based caseworkers held an emergency meeting on Thursday after details emerged that case work levels were being reviewed across the state.

Staff from the Kings Cross Adolescent Unit then voted to stop for the rest of the day, after the government refused to guarantee the future of the unit.

Turner has more to say in his own comments distributed publicly:

The Kings Cross Adolescent Unit is on the frontline of locating and removing children and young people from some of the most dangerous streets in Sydney. These dedicated, hard-working professionals divert at risk youth away from living on the streets, helping them access support services and get their lives back on track.

For more than 25 years, the team has reached out to tens of thousands of street kids and built a strong presence and invaluable relationships in the community.

The closure of the Kings Cross Adolescent Unit would be a sign that the Government has given up on the serious issue of youth at risk or involved in drugs or prostitution at the Cross.

If the government doesn’t want to stand up for kids, looks like it’s left to the PSA to take it on. Good on the union.


@jonathantasini

Lock ‘Em Out

Aug 6, 2012

A quick update on something I pointed out three weeks ago — union workers know a lot more about how to stop alcohol-fuelled violence than most politicians because they are on the front lines.

Two years ago– TWO YEARS AGO — a coalition of unions representing doctors, nurses, paramedics and police officers demanded that politicians act to stop alcohol-fuelled violence. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why: those front-line workers have to deal with the violence and it’s an occupational hazard. Union workers have to transport injured people to hospitals, stitch up the wounds, and restore order in the streets.

So, today’s news vindicates the campaign being run by the Last Drinks campaign:

PUB lockouts that ban patrons entering licensed premises after a late night deadline but allow those already inside to keep drinking could be the answer to curbing drunken violence in Kings Cross, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione believes.

Save lives. Sign the petition.


@jonathantasini

Who Cares About Violence? Workers A Whole Lot More Than Politicians

Jul 19, 2012

It is always a source of humor– dark humor, to be sure — that the traditional media is way, way behind the curve when it comes to understanding a story, particularly when it involves unions. So, you know how all those politicians are now rushing around, wringing their hands about the recent violence in King’s Cross? Well, hello, unions have been way ahead of the curve here.

Two years ago– TWO YEARS AGO — a coalition of unions representing doctors, nurses, paramedics and police officers demanded that politicians act to stop alcohol-fuelled violence. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why: those front-line workers have to deal with the violence and it’s an occupational hazard. While politicians– the same ones rushing to the microphones now — sit home in comfort, its the union workers who have to transport injured people to hospitals, stitch up the wounds, and restore order in the streets.

The campaign, called Last Drinks, was pretty clear about what needed to be done:

The coalition believes strongly in evidence-based policy solutions.  And the evidence shows that the most effective way to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence in the Australian context is by placing restrictions on the late night sale of alcohol.  In particular, the recent experience in Newcastle has shown a sustained decrease in the number of night-time assaults of over 30 per cent – which was achieved after a number of restrictions were placed on licensed venues in the Newcastle CBD.  These restrictions include:

  • 3am closing time for all venues;
  • Lock-outs at venues from 1.30 am; and
  • Restrictions on the sale of high-alcohol content drinks (such as shots) after 10pm.

By the way, it’s already worked, as you can see from this news report:

The Last Drinks coalition, a group of union-led police, doctors and nurses, says the measures have helped reduce late-night violence since being introduced in Newcastle.

‘We know what works – a suite of simple measures like reduced trading hours and lock-outs,’ Police Association of NSW president Scott Weber said.

So, here you have one shining example of the wiseness and knowledge of workers, and the union leaders who represent them, on the one hand, versus the short-sited rantings of craven politicians, on the other hand. If it wasn’t for ideology– meaning, why should we listen to unions? — politicians might have listened to the people leading the Last Drinks campaign, and, maybe, just maybe, one young man, Thomas Kelly, would still be alive, and a lot more people would have returned home to sleep in their beds, with no injuries other than a bit of a hangover.


@jonathantasini

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