A family's battle

A family's battle

to care for son

WELL done on your exposure of how injured soldiers are treated (The Saturday Age, 21/4). We have been battling the system for more than 18 years. It let down our son, and us, because there was no process in place and no communication between the army and the government department. This led to terrible anguish for him as he saw his beloved army career slip away. We had to source specialist medical treatment and care for him.

Our son was injured on a training exercise in the Northern Territory in 1994. He was 23. He has a traumatic brain injury and is totally blind. The treatment handed out by the bureaucracy and the battles for recognition and care have left a legacy of anger and sadness. As parents, we are too tired to enjoy what should have been our retirement years. The Australian Defence Force has had 18 years to fix the system. In 2009/10, there was a review into the rehabilitation acts. What came out of this?

Bill and Alva Anderson, East Keilor

Why we download

I REFUSE to pay $18 to see a film "Hollywood studios sunk in internet piracy wars" (The Saturday Age, 21/4). And if I do not go to the cinema, why should I pay $30 or more for the DVD or Blu-ray when I can get it from the United States (in most cases with a host of extras that are not available on the Australian release), for half that price?

Until the heads of the major Hollywood studios realise they are gradually strangling the goose that has been laying golden eggs all these years and tackle this problem once and for all how about refusing to pay actors such obscene amounts of money, for a start? cinema attendances will dwindle, DVD and Blu-ray sales shrink, and people will continue to illegally download movies.

Chris Burgess, Port Melbourne

One problem, Ted

TED Baillieu tells farmers to prepare for the "growing Asian food boom" (The Saturday Age, 21/4). I wonder if he has factored in the needs of the millions more people he wants to pack into Melbourne. Ironically, along with developer-controlled planning, his population obsession had led to a steady loss of good farming land around Melbourne. I am not sure where all this export food will come from, given that Australia was a net importer of fruit and vegetables during the recent drought.

Politicians who refuse to confront the issue of over-population, both here and overseas, must take responsibility for the inevitable worldwide food shortages.

Pamela Lloyd, West Brunswick

Increase staff . . .

I APPLAUD the move to support the aged to stay in their homes (The Saturday Age, 21/4). However, some of us need 24-hour care for our loved ones. I am disappointed there appears to be no recognition of the fact that in order to have quality of care in nursing homes, there must be a mandated minimum number of staff.

I agree with Bernadette Clohesy that, generally, staff are caring and do what they can, but my experience is that there are too few of them to provide quality and, at times, even basic care. The proposed My Aged Care website will not solve this problem. Even if some nursing homes provide better care than others, we cannot all move our loved ones there, particularly as we want local ones to allow for frequent visiting. All nursing home residents deserve quality care.

Rita Wainrib, Coburg

... and transparency

MINISTER for Ageing Mark Butler says My Aged Care website will include information on a nursing home's staffing and any history of complaints. This could be a profound change in an industry which is secretive considering its heavy reliance on taxpayer funds. Staffing information means little unless it is expressed as a ratio between staff and residents. Staff's skill levels and the dependency levels of residents also need to be transparent. Such disclosure will need to be mandated in the Aged Care Act.

The planned reforms do not address the secrecy of the Accreditation Agency's reports when its staff make unannounced visits to nursing homes. These are apparently "protected information" under the Aged Care Act. However, when the homes are told in advance of the visits, the "Tweedledum and Tweedledee" reports are made public.

Carol Williams, Elder Care Watch, Blackburn

An author's right

GWENDA Beed Davey says "folk songs belong to us" (Letters, 21/4). How, then, can authors protect themselves from "the folk" expropriating their work and income without compensation? My suggestion: folk insurance. For a modest fee, authors could insure their songs against the loss of royalties incurred when people "take them to their hearts", consider them folk music, and treat them as such by not paying for them. Those people, of course, would have to justify their non-payment of royalties by proving their ignorance of the song's ownership.

Scott Wallace, Lakes Entrance

Slipper controversy

TONY Abbott called for the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Peter Slipper, to stand down while allegations of impropriety against him were investigated. However, there are no similar calls for priests to stand down while allegations of sexual misconduct with minors are investigated. Does this constitute a double standard?

Phil Nelson, Ringwood East

Religious mania

THERE is no need for prayer rooms at AFL venues (The Age, 20/4). People are perfectly happy praying in the traditional manner in the stands. "Jesus Christ, are you blind, umpire?" and "Please, God, let Buddy kick this goal" are among many well-known prayers often overheard at the footy.

David Rosner, South Yarra

The educated poor

IT IS not only low-skilled workers who are on the "periphery" of the workforce. Brian Howe (Comment & Debate, 20/4) describes with amazing accuracy my husband's work life. He is a teacher. This was meant to be his career and yet we find ourselves living week to week on his earnings from short-term (sometimes one-day) contacts. There are no long-term contracts. Right now, why would anyone want to be a teacher in Victoria? Maybe there should be a new subcategory of workers the "educated (or educating) poor".

Rosie Torr, Kyneton

Slow down and stop

WHEN will greater efforts be taken to protect tram users from speeding cars? I see cars hooning past stopped trams every four or five stops. I have seen many near misses with passengers and, on several occasions, would have been hit had I not looked first before stepping off the tram. Does someone have to lose their life before something is done?

Catherine Langley, Hawthorn East

Bye-bye, Toyota

CAN we afford, and really need, the "Toyota Way" (The Saturday Age, 21/4)? It is not as though it builds an "Australian" car. It only has one locally made model, which is designed overseas. The rest are imported from plants around the world. The tens of millions of taxpayers' money that governments have given to Toyota could have been better spent on job creation for ex-Toyota workers as an investment in our economic future. Let us end the handouts and be done with Toyota.

Mark Kennedy, Ballarat

What choice?

IT IS no surprise that demand for places at Albert Park College is strong (The Age, 20/4).

Many parents would choose a public school if it offered the facilities, academic extension and extracurricular activities that private schools typically provide.

Families at risk of being cut out of the school's enrolment zone are worried they might have to travel to the aged Elwood College, "eight kilometres and a tram and bus trip away". In reality, it is 15 minutes by bus but a world away in quality. If it had a similar injection of funding and enthusiasm, it would no doubt be overwhelmed with enrolment requests too. Elwood Primary is overflowing. The "zone-shrinking" panic shows there is no real "choice" in education when the public offering is clearly second rate.

Kate Trumbull, Elwood

Sartorial menace

HEAR, hear, Edward King, who is critical of men wearing suits with open-necked business shirts (Letters, 20/4). But there is a menace lurking even more deeply in society. If you had pointed out the faux pas of wearing an open collar with French cuffs (as a bereted gentleman did on the tram to me), two evils could be eliminated at once. (You don't catch the number 16 tram and wear a beret, do you?)

Paul Edwards, Fitzroy North

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