A challenge our society faces is looking after our elderly. Autonomy, a quintessential part of freedom, is lost when people enter residential aged care. No mandated staff-to-resident ratio exists, which leads to companies having as few staff as possible to cost-cut, leading to a lack of holistic care such as entertainment and socialising programs. People are not consulted on the times of activities carers have to assist with, so can be forced into the shower or into bed or taken to the toilet at times that they do not want.
Carers do not have time to consult people on important things like clothing choice and the food is the same, the residents have no choice except whether or not to eat. Lack of autonomy in residential care is even more appalling considering residents are afforded a "Charter of Residents' Rights and Responsibilities" under the Aged Care Act 1997, which emphasises freedom, choice, independence and respect.
People in the community aged care sector have much more autonomy than their peers in residential facilities. New aged care reforms came in during July 2014, allowing individuals who require services to get the government funding directly and have control over which services they receive. This is known as Consumer Direct Care. I believe this is a model that could be replicated in some, if not all residential care.
Elderly people still have the right to freedom of choice and autonomy, and our society and aged care services should recognise, respect and act on that.
Jazmin Hawes, Braddon
Thank you Ian Warden ("Carillons and spelling pedantry", Gang-gang, December 24, p10) for a wonderful expose of those who go bananas at the site of miss-peled words in our estimable daily paper. Youre christmas Eve denunciation of those tyresome elderly darlings much given to exploding between the upper thighs each time someone with many skills is identified with speling indiscretions is overdew.
My guess is that we are of one mind where you're smarty-pants coleegs employ the "sic" when some contributor to our national discourse wanders slightly off centre. Give 'em heaps Ian, on everyone's behalf.
Patrick Jones, Griffith
Set up to fail
The application of liberal principles to control of cannabis cannot be as readily dismissed as Collis Parrett (Letters, December 21) would have it. We would never mature beyond early childhood if we did not have to face up to the consequences of our actions. The temptation to prohibit us doing something that causes harm only to ourselves has within it the seeds of tyranny and demands the closest scrutiny. Cannabis provides an excellent illustration. Parrett asserts that prohibition of cannabis is justified by the harm it does to a user's family and all taxpayers through social and health costs.
To my knowledge, those harms and costs in large measure flow from the state's application of the criminal law to protect drug users from themselves. Current drug policy demands that drug users be drug-free.
This trumps other obligations of responsible citizenship. Users are required to give first priority to overcoming their addiction before caring for their kids and fulfilling other obligations expected of responsible citizens. Drug policy thereby sets them up for failure. In short, drug prohibition serves to disempower drug users from assuming their responsibilities to others.
Bill Bush, Turner
Discrimination at a key arts association should send alarm bells ringing, yet Nigel Featherstone neglects to inform us about this, all happening while he was a senior arts bureaucrat, in his piece ("Don't be shy about the arts", Times2, December 18, p1).
This association was bleeding approximately $1000 a month over the years 2005-06 to contractors, and possibly still is, while at the same time an indigenous group was denied access to exercise the object of the association, with the excuse being there were insufficient resources. It is unlawful for a person to discriminate against another person, by refusing to allow the other person access to, or the use of, any premises (public premises) that the public or a section of the public is entitled to. Call it what you want, it is inappropriate distribution of Visual Arts and Craft money. This says a lot about arts administration in Canberra. This is, approximately $1 million of taxpayers' money going to a discriminatory association.
Nigel Featherstone should come clean with the truth, and own up to the fact artsACT should be abolished, for the sake of good governance and better art.
Joseph Lafferty, Curtin
Gun controls needed
To say I was surprised by Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm's portrayal of us as a "nation of victims" after the Martin Place siege is an understatement. In no way do I feel a victim. If anything I feel prouder than ever of John Howard's gun reforms, brought in after the Port Arthur massacre and strengthened after the shootings at Monash University.
In an indirect way, Howard's gun control laws were a catalyst for my own entry into politics, as my brother was shot twice – and survived – in the Monash University shootings of October 2002.
We all see the terrible tragedies overseas with mass shootings, most notably but not limited to the United States. Looser gun laws there do not seem to have brought an end to these tragedies.
I am not opposed to guns. I grew up with guns; my father was a marksman in the defence forces and competed for years. But while it is argued that guns don't kill people, people do, it is also true that people with guns kill more people than people without guns.
I believe the police should have guns, and farmers, our defence forces, and even gun enthusiasts. But we need gun controls. They have been proven to reduce gun-related homicides. Instead of calling for more lax gun laws, it would be better to call for taking violence against women more seriously and imposing harsher sentences, or undertaking more mental health prevention activities.
Calling for a tightening of parole laws, or providing more police on the ground would be better.
Greater powers and resources to combat extremism might be another example. Any of these things might be more productive than facile, vote-chasing claims that we need to lessen our gun laws.
Nicole Lawder, MLA, Canberra City
Horses pose threat to native species
The Canberra Times recently published a heart-warming article and photograph showing northern corroboree frogs being released into the wild at Brindabella National Park ("Endangered frogs can croak about new habitat", December 19, p3).
The event was a culmination of many years of effort by scientists and rangers to breed the frogs at Taronga Zoo and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to save this highly endangered species from extinction. The same day, the NSW member forMonaro, John Barilaro, welcomed an announcement torule out the aerial culling ofbrumbies.
What a waste of resources and lack of concern for the survival of native species if these highly endangered frogs will continue, along with the sphagnum bogs where they live, to be churned beneath thehooves of feral horses.
Meg McKone, Holt
What about the fish?
I was very sorry to hear of Molly the cavoodle's suffering after biting a discarded fishing lure near Lake Burley Griffin (Letters, December 23).
Like Molly's owner, Peter Stanley, most of us would be concerned about her pain, but why don't we feel the same concern for the millions of other animals that also bite fishing lures and baited hooks?
Research over the last decade has concluded that, onthe balance of probability, fish do feel pain.
In 2010, Dr Victoria Braithwaite published her book, Do Fish Feel Pain?, summing up the recent research with: "I believe that the weight of evidence now shows fish do feel pain."
If we can understand and empathise with the suffering ofdogs, why not the suffering of fish?
Mike O'Shaughnessy, Spence
Aid budget cuts will define tenure of foreign minister
Tim Terrell (Letters, December 24) is correct when he says Julie Bishop cannot avoid responsibility for slashes in Australia's aid budget, orfor the abolition of AusAID. Evenif she has argued against such decisions, if she stays on to preside over them, they are the issues that define her tenure as foreign minister.
It does not suggest she has much control over policy if she is always being rolled in Cabinet, and it is not to her credit that she recently tried to blame Shadow Minister Tanya Plibersek for aid cuts, just because the Labor Party voted against the Coalition's budget.
I wonder how many broken promises are hidden behind specific Australian aid cuts, which have not necessarily been publicised?
Trevor Wilson, Holder
Where is the ASIO?
So why hasn't the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation been all over those Australian Defence League idiots who have been in court a couple of times in the last week? These are the people who went to Lakemba in Sydney in an attempt to incite racist violence against Muslims. No ASIO raids, no Prime Minister on TV mentioning their chatter. It is not as if their incitement is secretive.
Oh, I forgot – they aren't Muslims. They are white, and probably parade as Christians. These soldiers of white racism and Islamophobia serve an important function for Abbott et al. They are part of his agenda of fear against Muslims, asylum seekers and the unemployed, so ASIO will do nothing to rein in these terrorists.
John Passant, Kambah
Expression of grief
No, it would not have been better tospend the money on flowers in Martin Place on the victims' families. Jevon Kinder (Letters, December 22) is getting the economy mixed up with society. They are not the same.
It may be "more economically efficient" to spend money on the families, but the flowers in Martin Place were a magnificent expression of grief and emotion by the community, resulting from the loss oflife in the Sydney siege, the value of which is beyond price.
In any case, Kinder takes for granted the feelings of the families involved. Both victims had successful careers, and their families, I am sure, appreciated such an outpouring of public support far above a few more dollars in the bank.
David Hicks, Holt
Growth can't go on
The description of birth control astreason by Turkish president Erdogan is both anachronistic and alarming ("Birth control called 'treason', December 24,p9).
It belongs to an era long gone, when human populations were low and resources were plentiful. Now, there are too many people for the resources available, globally and forTurkey itself.
Turkey's fertility rate of 2.13 is just above the replacement of 2.06 and does not need to be increased. Indeed, a reduction is desirable to get the growth rate of 1.1 per cent down to zero more quickly. All countries need to get the balance right between population and resources. Population and economic growth cannot go on forever. At some point, growth has to stop. Assuming there is no loss of resources from the effects of climate change or access toenergy, after growth, a country can happily move to a steady-state economy, in which the needs of its citizens are met and the habitats ofother species preserved.
Jenny Goldie, Michelago, NSW
Human rights law
Amnesty International reports thatthe United States "does not recognise the applicability of international human rights law" inits dealings with al-Qaeda.
So if it is true, as Neil James (Letters, December 22) claims, without citing any sources, that "IHLbreaches by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been prevalent", the fact the US does not recognise them as a problem might be the explanation.
It is also well known that the US does not allow its military personnel to be subject to the jurisdiction of theInternational Criminal Court. Itseems Mr James' primary mission is the defence of the US's foreign and military policy, which is odd, given the name of his organisation.
Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW
One of life's mysteries
The ubiquitous "biased musings" of H. Ronald that so ruffle Ray O'Brien's feathers (Letters, December 26) must, in reality, have some unusual merit to them. And let's not stop there: Morris, Shroot and Arnold must all be budding Wordsworths!
Is it exquisite concision? Perhaps itis audacious hyper-extension of ceremonially elongated bows? Or is itbrassy turns of phrase that would elicit a knowing, respectful nod from Clive James, who would then surely grab for a pen and notepad, so to weave the barbs and flourishes into his next book?
I'm not sure either. I guess it's just one of life's little mysteries.
For my part, I would be flat out getting my death notice published these days.
Ross Kelly, Monash
The $1 billion of liabilities Defence isnow carrying for maintenance andremedial work on base infrastructure ("Defence estate bill hits $1b", December 26, 1) is a legacy of the Rudd/Gillard cuts to its budget, as a perusal of Senate Estimates proceedings will show.
I have been pursuing this matter for the past 24 months in Senate Estimates, including the issues pertaining to fuel farms. There are many references to my questioning about the impacts of Labor's cuts on capability and infrastructure and Defence's unwillingness to quantify them for many months.
For the opposition to attempt to portray this as in any way being the result of underfunding by the Abbott government is a blatant denial of its own poor management and funding of Defence.
David Fawcett, Liberal Senator for SA, Parliament House
TO THE POINT
A CRUEL PROMOTION
Due to his ability to create despair in Tony Abbott's refugee prisons, Scott Morrison has been promoted. He's no longer in charge of being nasty to refugees. He's in charge of being cruel to welfare recipients.
His first act on taking office was to sack welfare advisors. Depending on how much money he can rip off welfare recipients, he may be promoted again.
Graham Macafee, Latham
In his criticism of H.Ronald's frequent pieces, Ray O'Brien (Letters, December 26) believes "any person who believes all ability is located on one side of politics is deluded". I tend to agree and I suppose this logic also applies to other frequent contributors to these pages – the armchair socialists who believe the LNP and its supporters are the spawn of Satan and Labor/Greens are perfect in every single way?
Gordon Williams, Watson
DON'T CAP MY 'K'
My surname, Macklin, does not and never has had a capital K. Yet programmers working for banks, telcos, mailing houses, etc, etc, insist that the next letter of names after 'Mac' is a capital.
I wonder how many other people are being annoyed by this and what other examples of changes to names there are. In the past it was because people couldn't spell. Now it is because of ignorant programmers.
Julie Macklin, Narrabundah.
A MOGGIE FOR COMFORT
Someone close to me was depressed. He was going to go to a doctor but someone advised him to get a pet. One cat and a few months later he did not need medication. This might work for some.
Sophi Suttor, Narrabundah
THE ONLY GOOD INJUN
Mark Twain said: There are many humorous things in the world, among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages. The CIA come to mind when I read this quote, along with this other comment, the only good injun is a dead injun.
Richard Ryan, Summerland Point, NSW
It would seem that Catholic fundamentalist doctrine has been adopted by Turkey following the Pope's visit ("Birth control called 'treason"', December 24, p9).
The irony is that, in an over-populated world, such a policy must lead to a strictly Darwinian resolution. Strong competition for finite resources will lead to conflict and survival of the fittest.
Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor
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