Congratulations to Scott Hannaford for writing, and to The Canberra Times for publishing, ''Invisible wounds'' (Forum, February 8, p1). It's a comprehensive overview of Australia's enduring PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) legacy from the US war on Afghanistan.
Yet there is a core truth unspoken. The only certain cure for PTSD is prevention.
It is admirable that the ADF (Australian Defence Force) is now addressing the problem. But what needs to be acknowledged is the systemic failure that created the problem.
The Afghanistan war was never justifiable. Nor was it ever winnable. It was conducted under a screen of lies and deceptions. Its dribble-down end is also a lie so long as the Australian SAS remain on the ground in Afghanistan, taking orders from US Special Operations Command and doing their business of murder, abduction and torture.
The long occupation of Afghanistan can be understood as a shameful failure by the ADF in its duty of care for the nation and its soldiers.
Except for the tentatively expressed doubts of Major-General John Cantwell, in 12 years not one voice of dissent was heard from the ADF. Warnings of the enduring PTSD consequences were clearly signalled after the Vietnam folly. But the ADF leadership maintained silence and complicity in the lies. Our proud professional army actively encouraged multiple deployments and chased the money, the career opportunities and the pension benefits.
Brendan Nelson, director of the Australian War Memorial, reckons that part of the homecoming healing of Afghan vets is to have their story told and understood. But dare he speak the truth? That it was a tax gouge and that those who served died and suffer in vain?
Graeme Dunstan, Stand Fast veterans and ex-service people against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Congratulations on a very well written and thought-provoking article on PTSD. Your feature was a timely reminder that enormous groundwork has been done to establish support for those suffering from PTSD, and for their families. Those systems are in place, and we are actively encouraging younger veterans to take advantage of them.
We help veterans of any conflict to get treatment they need and also with entitlement claims they may wish to lodge with DVA [Department of Veterans Affairs]. Please feel free to drop in and see how we can help you.
James Wain, president, Vietnam Veterans and Veterans Federation
It was all I could do to read to the end of the article describing adolescent giraffe Marius' demise due to his ''genetic expendability'' (''Crowd watches giraffe fed to lions'', February 11, p7). The zoo's actions were questionable in the extreme, but to then publicly dismember his corpse and feed it to the lions, apparently in full view of children, was just too much. And this from a supposedly First World country. I'm disgusted.
Janet Cossart, Stirling
It is quite unfortunate that ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) patients have to travel to Sydney (''ADHD patients forced interstate for treatment'', February 8, p6).
Over 20 years ago I was on the committee that set the current rules for prescribing of stimulants for this condition. The committee agreed there should be two appropriate specialists in the diagnosis and ongoing treatment; it can be two psychiatrists, two neurologists or a neurologist and a psychiatrist.
I usually involve a clinical neurologist in the assessment before seeking a second opinion from a neurologist or a psychiatrist.
This is an important condition to treat because of the impulsiveness, poor focus and performance and the comorbidities of increased risk of addiction and association with chronic anxiety.
Colin Andrews, neurologist, Deakin
Nazi skit a flop
Harmonie German Club president Hans Stoehr (''Hanson demands Burch scalp over Nazi skit at multicultural festival'', February 11, p3) may not be aware of the unfortunate irony of his call for knuckles to be rapped over a performance satirising Hitler; but Jeremy Hanson should know better. Joy Burch has blundered spectacularly and often; but this skit, whatever its artistic value, doesn't belong to her. Hanson, in the time-honoured tradition of politicians masquerading as righteous artistic arbiters, has scored a swing and a miss.
Peter Robinson, Ainslie
The Fringe burlesque is far from the only show where the Nazi theme is used. I attended a corporate ball. The so-called ''entertainment'' at this formal, expensive, otherwise classy event was a Nazi-themed skit. Most people were laughing, including my partner. I ran out - very noticeably - nauseated, hurt, in tears. Disappointed, dismayed, disgusted that Hitler et al could be deemed corporately-OK as humour.
To many of us, the Nazi burlesque was unquestionably a blunder. We have the choice to attend or not, and I chose not.
Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson wants to fire Minister Joy Burch for numerous blunders, including the Nazi burlesque. Is Hanson blunder-free? Can he cast the first stone?
If we fired public servants at any level for blunders, thoughtlessness, crassness, or outright, intentionally insensitive behaviours, we would have no parliaments, legislative assemblies, or public servants at all.
Judy Bamberger, O'Connor
Look at rents, not pay
Before trying to reduce the take-home pay of shift workers at the bottom of the heap by doing away with their penalty rates, how about taking a look at commercial rents. Rents paid by shopkeepers - eg, restaurateurs and bar owners - in places like Kingston and Manuka, let alone in the territory's town centres, are outrageous. And the ACT government has its nose in the trough as well, having charged commercial stall-holders up to $5500 a day (''Fee rise bit hot for festival traders'', February 10, p2) at last weekend's Multicultural Festival.
Presumably, there's so much to be made out of their other commercial properties that landlords can afford to keep premises, such as the former haberdasher's upstairs on the corner of Jardine and Giles Streets, Kingston, empty for years rather than lower rents.
If commercial rents were fair and reasonable, tenants would be able not only to survive but to employ more staff. And not at their staff's expense.
D.N. Callaghan, Kingston
On fees and charges, balance is always in the bank's favour
Jenna Price (''Big black mark for new credit reporting rules'', Times2, February 11, p5) reminds us how vulnerable we all are in dealing with financial organisations, privacy legislation notwithstanding. Recently, ANZ customers have won a victory of sorts over the impost of ''late payment'' penalties for credit card users, forcing the bank to refund the fees. But for every such victory, the banks simply compensate by inventing new fees for previously free services.
Many months ago, my credit card statement started showing a ''foreign transactions fee'' - a (roughly) 3 per cent impost on every transaction from an overseas source, applied after the bank had converted the transaction into Australian dollars, using an unstated exchange rate that I'm sure was beneficial to itself.
Am I really expected to believe that this reflects actual costs incurred by the bank in processing the transaction? More recently, my monthly cash management account statement has begun to show fees for electronic transactions.
And just this month I was charged $5 for a book of deposit slips!
Restrictive practices - like the non-transferability of bank account numbers - mean that, in reality, consumers have very little leverage in making the banks operate truly competitively. It's no wonder they accrue such vast profits and reward their CEOs so handsomely. We may have the benefit of a stable and well-regulated banking system - but we sure pay for it.
Ray Edmondson, Kambah
Decisive action needed
The slogan ''Australia is open for business'' is no consolation to the many thousands of workers whose future seems bleak with the closure of car manufacturing and other industries. The great disappointment is that the Coalition government has no alternative plan to offer them, apart from a slogan.
Surely this is the time to revitalise education for the underprivileged and under-resourced sectors, not the private schools. And surely this is the time to spend up big on the national broadband so that people can be employed or studying from home when their local jobs go, and not have to relocate to our largest cities in search of employment or retraining.
The polls will continue to show only lukewarm support for the Coalition and little enthusiasm for Labor under Bill Shorten. The first party to put together a believable blueprint of a positive future for workers, and farmers, and a plan to deal with the ravages of climate change, will win the next election hands down.
K.L. Calvert, Downer
With the Toyota decision adding to the problems of our manufacturing industry, our Great Big Government needs to come up with Great Big Ideas and Great Big Solutions to avoid a Great Big Recession.
L.V. Hume, Lyneham
Hypocrisy in the House
After watching the first parliamentary question time for the year, I feel so sorry for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten bravely but pathetically waving his flag of arch-hypocrisy in trying to blame the PM for the demise of Toyota, when he and his union-oriented party could not prevent the demise of Mitsubishi and Ford nor lay the groundwork against the demise of Holden. If Labor were still in power, Toyota would still be leaving. Then there was the pathetic attempt to bring on a censure motion against the PM. The only one that will be censured, and soon I hope, will be little Bill himself.
M. Silex, Greenway
Question for critics
A simple question to all the armchair critics bemoaning the death of manufacturing industries. When was the last time you bought an Australian-made car or a can of SPC fruit?
Gordon Williams, Watson
Fast-track to transport
I was happy to hear Toyota, too, is going to stop making cars in Australia. What a fantastic opportunity to finally build the Very Fast Train and keep those factories working by keeping people employed to give us a sustainable transport system for the 21st century. The car is from the last millennium and will not take us into the future. Celebrate I say.
Evelina Brighty, Campbell
Our shrinking legacy
Further to Rod Griffiths' excellent letter (February 10), one must ask what Australia will look like in 20 or 30 years following the government's proposed environmental changes. The land and marine parks will be devastated by trampled undergrowth and marine pollution from runoff and dumping. Specifically, there can be no question of the result on species reduction and biodiversity. The landscape will be a far less interesting place for our children and grandchildren with fewer animal and avian species present.
Is this the Australia we want our descendants to inherit? Our precious and fragile environment may adapt to a certain extent to the policies proposed, but a future Australia will lack the richness past generations enjoyed, and the children of future generations may be asking ''what is a butterfly, daddy?'' or ''where did all the birds go, mummy?''
David Pfanner, Hughes
Surely not, Julie
Daniel Mandel (''Julie Bishop's stance on Israeli settlements might be right'', Times2, February 3, p4) has his own row to hoe, but I am sure he is misrepresenting Julie Bishop when he claims she said in Israel ''I would like to see which international law has declared [the Israeli settlements] illegal''. By all accounts she is far too conscientious to go to Israel without a briefing on this prominent issue and far too intelligent to pretend to be unfit for her high office.
I am sure she knows the International Court of Justice, the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly and many others have said it is contrary to international law for the Israeli authorities to have forced local inhabitants off their land to make way for Israeli settlements.
To hold contrariwise that territory may be legally taken over by military conquest would encourage war on a dozen borders around the world - notably those in the South China Sea. That is not the message Australia's Foreign Minister wants to send to China.
Ron Walker, Campbell
Learn to be a fan of evaporative cooling
High temperatures in classrooms can be very trying for teachers and children, and may become more frequent as global warming increases (''Heat is on as teachers, students struggle to cope'', February 11, p1). Comfort and learning ability are likely to be optimal if ambient temperatures lie between 20 and 26 degrees.
Your article confines itself to overhead fans and airconditioning as adaptive solutions. It makes no mention of evaporative cooling devices, which are effective for large open room areas and comfortable for Canberra's generally dry atmosphere, requiring open windows and creating a cool moist breeze, rather than the drying effect of airconditioning.
Evaporative coolers are much more energy efficient than airconditioners and their widespread use throughout Canberra's schools and homes would reduce our carbon footprint and costs, helping to avoid the energy overloading that frequently occurs in many American cities during heatwaves. Planners and teachers should get together to achieve a more comfortable and energy sustainable city against summer heatwaves.
Bryan Furnass, Hughes
As Adelaide swelters with record days of temperatures above 40 degrees and Canberra is recording record temperatures in the 30s, I wonder where the Abbott disciples and climate change deniers are who flood the letters page during winter when we have a few minus temperatures scoffing at global warming and climate change. Perhaps the record summer temperatures have melted their keyboards?
L. Christie, Canberra City
TO THE POINT
I am thoroughly disgusted by the media circus and chequebook journalism surrounding Schapelle Corby's release on parole. Perhaps those Indonesians who objected to her release saw this coming. Let's instead spare a thought for the people suffering genuine hardship due to drought, bushfires and job losses; none of them will merit a million-dollar deal with the media.
Rosalind Bruhn, Curtin
Brendan Ryan (Letters, February 11) poses the question, ''Why shouldn't unions be subject to the same scrutiny as companies?'' My question is: What companies are undergoing investigation by a royal commission, what companies have previously been the subject of a royal commission, and what's in the pipeline?
Peter Anson, Concord West, NSW
I am not a great fan of Ian Warden, but on this occasion I have to agree with his assessment of Ross Solly as a presenter (''There's no escaping the voice, even in Perth'', Gang-gang, February 7, p12). I did not find Ross intelligent or witty. I have now returned to 666 in the mornings, and am enjoying the intelligence and thoughtful performance of Philip Clark.
C. McKew, Forrest
In reference to Peter Moran's question about where priests who abuse children (Letters, February 10), and those who cover up that abuse, go after they die, the Catholic Church believes that their soul receives eternal retribution at the very moment of their death. (Catechism of the Catholic Church (1022)).
John Brewer, Theodore
ABC PROVES WORTH
All day Sunday (February 9) the ABC broadcast live from the bushfires in Victoria, with warnings and reports all over the state. This was was a fantastic public service gratefully received by all the people suffering from imminent fire in their neighbourhood. And the Abbott government wants to cut the funding to the ABC? I think the ABC has demonstrated how valuable it is throughout Australia.
Phylli Ives, Torrens
I was watching an episode of the classic Minder television series recently where the wonderful Arthur Daley described a bunch of inept no-hopers as ''a loose collection of inadequate individuals''. Sounds like a perfect description of the Abbott Coalition government so far. They promised so much before and during the federal election but so far have been found wanting. LNP supporters must be extremely disappointed.
Barry Harris, Curtin
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