Thursday, March 10, 2011

Call for yearly targets in Indigenous health

The Federal Opposition has called for yearly targets to be set for closing the life expectancy gap for Indigenous Australians.

The Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda yesterday delivered an update on the campaign, saying it will be another five years before there are significant improvements in Indigenous health.

The Opposition's Indigenous affairs spokesman Nigel Scullion says that would be disappointing and it does not have to be the case.

He says the Government should set more frequent targets.

"What we need to know is every year between now and then what the target is," he said.

"We either need to be celebrating or we need to be changing what we're doing every year.

"We need to ensure that the aspirational target in 2020, every single year between now and then we have a target on every benchmark that's going to increase change."

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says the targets are already tough and she has reaffirmed the Government's pledge to close the gap within a generation.

"We've committed to meeting the target," she said.

"We're putting in very substantial investments in health, in education, in housing, in employment and it's important to act on all those fronts."

Ms Macklin has also defended suspending the welfare payments of parents who do not ensure their children go to school.

Mr Gooda has criticised the policy, saying it hurts Indigenous people without boosting attendance rates.

But Ms Macklin says every parent should make sure their child attends school.

"We know how important it is that parents do the right thing by their children, that they get their children to school.

"And we'll make sure that we keep acting with every mechanism we have available to us to encourage parents to do the right thing by their children."

Mental health helpline for troops

A Government-funded helpline to support troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is being officially launched.

The 24-hour helpline is designed to help troops who may be suffering mental health problems.

The charity Rethink will deliver the service with £200,000 of Government funding for a one-year pilot.

The scheme was announced in October as part of a package of measures aimed at helping troops who may be suffering problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Research suggests one in four of those who fought in Iraq suffered some sort of mental health problem.

Health minister Simon Burns unveiled the free helpline number, 0800 138 1619, which is effective from Friday.

He said the service is part of the Government's "commitment to deliver the best possible health outcomes to veterans".

Families will also be able to call the line to speak to people trained in dealing with ex-service men and women.

Later this year, the scheme, which also involves experts from the charity Combat Stress, will expand to include text and email.

The Department of Health is also working with the Royal College of GPs to help ensure doctors have the right tools to spot symptoms of stress in troops returning home.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

National Weather Service Needs

The National Weather Service needs volunteers to provide severe weather reports. Spotters relay their reports to the Weather Service as they see it. This information is used by forecasters to track storms and alert the public to dangerous weather situations.

Time and time again, reports from trained weather spotters have saved countless lives, especially during heavy rain, thunderstorms and wind storms.

Our spotter program is informal. Spotters may continue their daily routine and work schedule. They do not need to notify us when they are on vacation.

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with local Emergency Management, will hold spotter training classes at the following locations and times.

This two-hour course will include information about the National Weather Service, tornadoes, thunderstorms, flash floods, dust storms, high winds and winter storms. Students who complete the course will receive a training certificate.

If you enjoy watching the weather and wish to provide a valuable public service, this is the course for you. We look forward to meeting you!

If you are planning to attend one of these training classes, please take a moment to fill out our questionnaire to help save time at the training session.

The information will only be used by WFO Pendleton in contacting you during significant weather events and will not be shared with anyone. Find the questionnaire HERE.

Happy Columbus Day!

Yes, yes, yes: we’re supposed to be subtly embarrassed of this holiday, given that apparently it’s an act of global insensitivity to remember the date, or because there’s a whole subset of the grievance culture out there who grind their teeth, turn widdershins thrice, and spit at the very mention of the name ‘Christopher Columbus,*’ or even because it’s starting to look like everybody in the world ‘discovered’ America before Christopher Columbus did.


OK, that last one? Kind of a fair point. Still, speaking as somebody with most of his teeth at forty, no dietary deficiencies, and two kids that survived their first six months - which would not have happened if I had been born an illiterate turnip** farmer in Ireland, which is where I’d be if there hadn’t been an America for my ancestors to flee to - let me just say that I am not exactly broken up about the thought that In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Two / Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue.

And probably, neither should you. Ever try living on turnips? I’m pretty sure that trying to get away from pre-potato, pre-maize, pre-chocolate, and pre-tomato cooking was what fueled the European Age of Exploration…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a real illness. You can get PTSD after living through or seeing a traumatic event, such as war, a hurricane, rape, physical abuse or a bad accident. PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over. It affects your life and the people around you.

PTSD can cause problems like

  • Flashbacks, or feeling like the event is happening again
  • Trouble sleeping or nightmares
  • Feeling alone
  • Angry outbursts
  • Feeling worried, guilty or sad

PTSD starts at different times for different people. Signs of PTSD may start soon after a frightening event and then continue. Other people develop new or more severe signs months or even years later. PTSD can happen to anyone, even children.

Medicines can help you feel less afraid and tense. It might take a few weeks for them to work. Talking to a specially trained doctor or counselor also helps many people with PTSD. This is called talk therapy.

Iraq war protesters arrested at IRS

The fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war had protesters in the streets Wednesday. In Washington, DC, about 30 people were detained by police at the IRS building.

At 13th and L Streets in downtown Washington, protesters marched in the streets, expressing their opposition to the war in Iraq. Police directed traffic around a sit-in in the middle of the street.

"Now almost 4,000 have died in battle, patriots all, and all without rights," said Lori Perdue, who is an Air Force veteran from Indianapolis.

Perdue says she saw from the beginning the war was a mistake. "I was afraid for my brothers and sisters in uniform that they would be giving their lives and bleeding and the sacrifices made by their families," she said.

Perdue was moving from street to street, as were most of the other protesters.

Earlier in the day, some were arrested at the IRS. Down the street, supporters of the war had their own message for the protesters.

"I think a lot of people need to get a job, if you get my drift," said one supporter.

After five years, these demonstrations have become an annual event. But now it's not the war but the economy dominating the headlines. Still, on this day, the war's critics said five years is long enough.

About 150 people marched today in Washington. Anti-war demonstrations are also planned here in Indianapolis. Residents and members of say they will honor the sacrifice of American soldiers killed in Iraq. A vigil is scheduled for 7:00 pm Wednesday at 10 West Market Street.

Other local rallies also plans a candlelight vigil Wednesday night at the Muncie City Hall and expects as many as 150 people to attend. Bloomington will host several events, starting with a peace march on the Indiana University campus at 4 p.m. Christian Peacemaker Teams member Hilary Scarsella will then give a speech at Sample Gates on the edge of the IU campus.

More speeches will follow at a rally during which the names of Indiana soldiers and Iraqi civilians killed during the war will be read. People also will be encouraged to write messages to U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, urging the Indiana Democrat to end the war.