1190 school suspensions a year clearly not working
Letter to the editor
WITH 1190 SCHOOL SUSPENSIONS PER YEAR, IT IS BLEEDINGLY OBVIOUS THE SYSTEM NO LONGER WORKS
IT WAS with a great degree of sadness and concern I read the headline story in The Gympie Times (Saturday, March 3) .
Sad for the lost opportunity that it would appear many students are experiencing, sad for the unnecessary and awful mental load so many teachers are being burdened with and sad for a community that cannot identify and embrace the rewards that can only come from effort.
With 1190 school suspensions per year, it is bleedingly obvious the system no longer works.
In 1966, I had the very great privilege of taking up my first teaching appointment at Gympie Central State School.
Under the guidance of a Head Teacher and support from a band of experienced teachers my first year flew by, not without challenges and effort.
I specifically refer to a Head Teacher and not a Principal for that's exactly what he was. An outstanding classroom teacher who commanded and got respect from pupils and staff alike in a gentle and no nonsense way.
He was also managing administration, human resources with over 20 staff and parent relations. He had one deputy and a secretary. And unbelievably, not one computer.
This structure, at the time, provided a school population in the hundreds with a well disciplined, happy learning environment. Suspensions and expulsions were so rare as to be a talking point for weeks.
Prior to completing teacher training I had the great privilege of attending Gympie State High School for all of my high school education.
With a degree of pride and with no fear of contradiction, the academic results achieved at public examinations by our cohort were exemplary.
Again firm and clear guidelines of behaviour and expectations were the order of the day. The principal was a strict disciplinarian and suffered no bloody nonsense having come through a post war environment. If teachers had any issues of behaviour with the students, parents would be involved and they would give unequivocal support.
What has changed so much to be at this low point?
Is it just media sensationalism, Centrelink mentality, weak political leadership, a self indulgent society with an entitlement syndrome, lack of moral or ethical education, widespread acceptance of recreational drug use or excessive exposure to light weight moronic screen product?
I don't know for sure but what I suspect is that suspension is a reward for bad behaviour while nothing focuses the attention of naughty kids like a head teacher in mock anger occasionally barrelling across the school yard swishing a cane against his legs while apparently looking for some mythical miscreants.
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Testing tariff times
I REFER to the latest intention by Donald Trump to introduce a tariff on all steel and aluminium imported by the USA.
I am currently reading a book written by Selwyn Parker called The Great Crash which concerns the 1929 depression, and I refer to a paragraph from that book:
"But not even Chrysler could surmount the tariff blockades, and its export sales stayed in the doldrums. The Smoot Hawley law was certainly not wholly responsible for the Depression, but there was no doubt that it helped propagate it. Monstrosities of economic ignorance, the tariff blockades wreaked havoc on the United States and the rest of the world.”
Strong words. The main problem being that if other countries follow suit, the results for the rest of the world could be catastrophic.
Let's hope that other countries show some economic maturity and resist the temptation to follow suit ie not to emulate the whim of someone whose hotel and casino businesses have been declared bankrupt six times between 1991 and 2009, and whom I believe is completely out of his depth.
Tin Can Bay
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DESPERATE KILKIVAN PENSIONER STRUGGLES WITH PBS
RE THE unavailability of medication on PBS for pensioners.
I am not sure who I can contact over this problem, so am contacting you in the hope you may be able to highlight this problem for people like me.
I am almost 75 years old now. I was born with a rare genetic/familial cancer disease, inherited from my mother, by both my sister and myself. Both my mother and sister died from the disease but with medical, surgical and pharmaceutical help, I am still battling on.
Because I have no large bowel/colon any more but have an external ileostomy stoma and pouch/bag, I need to take 6 to 8 Loperamide tablets daily to stop the chronic passing of fluid from the small intestine that comes through the stoma and bag. This is very important during the hotter months of the year as without this medication I will suffer severe dehydration and need treatment in hospital.
My GP has given me Loperamide scripts for the pharmacy to supply however for the past three months the government PBS only allows one supplier of this medication, and that is medication called Gastrex.
However Gastrex tablets have not been available in Priceline Gympie for the past 3 months and they have to give me Gastro Stop tablets, which is fine, but they are dearer than Gastrex tablets and I can only receive tablets to the value that the Gastrex cost the Government.
This means that to cover a full 28 days medication I have to purchase 4 or 5 boxes of Gastro Stop tablets at $10 a box.
This means I have to pay out $50 from my aged pension, which seems very wrong as it is not my fault I have this disease and have had to undergo so much surgery over the past years.
It also would cost the government health system a lot more if I take less medication and end up in hospital for up to 10 days due to dehydration. That would cost more than $50 for the month, in fact even more for just a day's treatment at Gympie Hospital!
Last year there was another medication that had the same issue - 3 months without any of the shelf of any pharmacy in Gympie.
This meant I had to cut this specific tablet in half so my system got some medication.
This is not very good for people like me who have a chronic disease/illness that relies on medication to help them fight and stay alive.
I have no idea who to contact to see if I can get special permission to have extra tablets till the PBS ones are available.
THE PROBLEM WITH GRASS
PASPALUM notatum - bahia grass - two pronged paspalum.
This is the nuisance grass you have noticed growing prolifically on Gympie's grassed footpaths and also in parkland areas, even in your own house yards. Your first indications were that it has a tall two-pronged seedhead with black florets, resulting in swathes of "black seedheads". Council workers seem to be regularly mowing it. You may have an allergy to it including itching ankles when you walk through it.
In the rural areas it is known as two prong paspalum.
There is concern amongst rural landholders of its ability to overtake good quality agricultural land and there is always the question of how to deal with it. It has been acknowledged to be effective drought feed where nothing else exists but it is very fast moving and has the potential to invade massive areas. Already, it can be seen having overtaken whole paddocks in some rural areas. From properties in the Upper reaches of the Mary River through flooding it has affected properties downstream. It is distributed through vehicle and animal movement. As many rural landholders are asking how to deal with it, the undersigned proffers the following.
The DPI in Queensland has advised they "do not have this grass on their radar". However, the DPI in NSW is now noticing angst amongst dairy farmers because of this grass inundating their good quality dairy pastures.
Cattle will attempt to eat it but other quality grass present is preferred. Having been in touch with the DPI in Tamworth, I was informed that research using various weedicides has been performed for effective treatment of this grass. Results of this comprehensive research clearly indicated that product containing 600g/k metsulfuron-methyl as the only active constituent (Brushoff) sprayed in AUTUMN provides the best result. Imperative to also use a wetting agent as the leaves have a waxy film on them. It may need to be sprayed a second time the following year to deal with any further plants. Brush-off is effective on broadleaf weeds but the research has shown that if applied in Autumn when the plant is becoming dormant and transmitting all its remaining energy directly to its root system, the weedicide has a direct effect on the Bahia Grass.
The research found that spraying it at any other time is a waste of funds, thus allowing the original pasture to rejuvenate. If no other species are present then a replant of the pasture would be advisable.
The Gympie Regional Council draft Bia-Security Plan does not include Paspalum Notatum (Bahia Grass). I have made a submission but have been advised it will not be included. I find the descriptive wording in the Bio-Security applies to this species, namely "Invasive plant impacts of for Agricultural production areas - reduces productivity by outcompeting desirable pasture species - increases costs of production - contributes to loss of production/income" all of these apply to Paspalum Notatum. Landholders who are not concerned by this grass on their properties, especially thos in the Upper Reaches of the river, should consider the impacts upon others.
I draw attention to another invasive weed introduced originally to Australia as a prospective cattle pasture and which "escaped". I mention GRT. This species also was not on Queensland DPI "radar" which in 1989 resulted in specific information for dealing with it and dire warnings to the Queensland DPI being obtained by the undersigned from the NSW DPI.
Unfortunately the Queensland DPI acted far too slow which results are indicated today and I feat the same for Bahia Grass.
At the recent meeting held at the Civic Centre in regard to GRT, I was astonished to hear that in Florida the norm is to battle GRT infestations in Bahia Grass pastures.
Bahia grass was purposefully planted to replace existing poor pastures, mainly as a drought resistant species. HOWEVER, in discussion following the meeting it was revealed that the Florida Bahia Grass is a different variety to that spreading through our district. That in Florida has a broader and softer leaf where as ours has a thin, though leaf. One can imagine what is going to happen to our pastures in general if the spread of Bahia Grass is not curbed.
I am not in anyway criticising the Council's Bio-Security Plan. In fact it is comprehensive and certainly provides confidence that the interests of the Community, especially the Rural Community, have bene effectively considered and as such is appreciated and recommended.
By not including the species Paspalum Notatum in the Plan, and taking into account its already indicated invasive nature, it is hoped those responsible will not find this a mistake. In the meantime, those who are affected might like to take the advice of the NSW DPI for dealing with it. Brush-Off in Autumn.