Archive | June 2013

Collars Not Cruelty campaign!

Across the world every year, more than 55,000 people die from rabies. In response to this, nearly 20 million dogs are needlessly and cruelly killed in misguided attempts to control the disease. Dogs are captured and poisoned, taking sometimes hours to die, and their bodies are then thrown onto city landfills. This suffering is entirely unnecessary, as killing dogs in response to rabies has never been proven to eliminate the disease.

What is being done?

 

The World Society for the Protection of Animals [WSPA] is calling for governments to adopt the scientifically proven, humane, and sustainable option – mass dog vaccination.

“I think it’s absolutely horrific that 20 million dogs are killed every year, often because of the fear of rabies, when there is an alternative solution. By educating people and getting vaccinations out there, we’re not only helping dogs, but entire communities.” – Leona Lewis, celebrity WSPA campaign supporter.

What is the “Collars Not Cruelty” campaign?

 

Warning: The video linked below may be distressing to some viewers.

WSPA “Collars Not Cruelty” Youtube video

Death from rabies, both in humans and in dogs, is entirely preventable. WSPA’s campaign gives us the humane way to protect the community from rabies. Red collars are given to every vaccinated dog and they become a symbol for the community – showing that the dogs are protected against rabies.

This campaign has been successfully running in countries such as Bali and Sri Lanka.

“With successful rabies control projects in countries across Asia and Latin America, WSPA has proven that a world without rabies is not a world without dogs.” – Ray Mitchell, International Campaigns Director, WSPA

The Bali Success Story

 

Bali demonstrates the most recent success of the mass vaccination solution proposed by WSPA. This first island-wide mass vaccination program began on World Rabies Day in 2010.

In the first phase of the campaign, approximately 210,000 dogs (70% of the total estimated population) were vaccinated. Data analysed at the end of this first phase showed a decrease of over 45% in cases of canine rabies, and a reduction of 48% in rabies related human deaths, in comparison to the same period in the previous year.

“With our work in Bali, we offered proof that a humane alternative for rabies control was both practical and effective. Other governments are beginning to recognise this success and we are now working in several countries to design similar models for rabies control.” – Ray Mitchell, International Campaigns Director, WSPA

Where is the “Collars Not Cruelty” campaign focused now?

The “Collars Not Cruelty” project is now focusing on the countries Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

In Bangladesh, over 70 dogs are cruelly killed every day over the fear of rabies. With the support of the WSPA, the Government of Bangladesh is currently rolling out a program of mass dog vaccination.

 

What can we do?

You can do your part to help promote mass vaccination, a more effective and humane solution, and create a world where no animal has to suffer.

Buy a dog collar through the “Collars Not Cruelty” campaign website, and all proceeds will go towards all of WSPA’s work to prevent animal cruelty around the world, including stopping the inhumane culling of dogs.

Vulnerable children receive funding boost

This year’s NSW budget

This year’s budget was released on Tuesday 18 June, and whilst the government is currently still not paying enough to the non-government organizations (NGO’s) out-of-home care agencies to cover the costs of foster care to meet the minimum accreditation standards, these budget increases are a step in the right direction.

New South Wales treasurer described the budget this year as “responsible” in his address prior to releasing the budget.

Nearly $800 million will be going towards the 18,000+ children living in foster care and to vulnerable families. $415 million of that will be going specifically towards the welfare groups that provide out-of-home care services.

Phoenix Rising For Children (PRFC) provides contemporary, quality, family-based foster care and effective and specialist support services to children and young people in out-of-home care (foster care) and their families.

These budget measures are a boost, and while there is always a need for funding within the industry, any funding boost that benefits these disadvantaged children is helpful.

Australia’s two largest banks, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, have also joined forces with the NSW government to invest $10 million in a new social benefit bond to keep at-risk families together.

As the budget says, “In addition to achieving outcomes in the child protection system, these Social Benefit Bonds are expected to add to the evidence base on how to strengthen families, increase the appetite for social finance products in the market and improve the government’s data and processes”

Any investors can expect protected capital and a return of ten percent once the bond matures in five years.

“With foster care costing up to $66,000 a year, when we can show our service is successfully keeping children safe and reducing the number entering foster care, our investors will receive a financial return.” – Steve Hawkins, The Benevolent Society’s general manager of business development.

Other benefits within the budget

There are many other benefits within the budget this year, including:

  • $138 million in funding for specialist homelessness services.
  • More than 9000 new places to be created, including supported accommodation and respite places, for people with disabilities.
  • Existing accommodation will be upgraded, with millions spent improving group homes and supported living facilities.
  • Millions of dollars allocated to the launch of the national disability insurance scheme, DisabilityCare Australia, which will begin in Hunter next month, and involve a trial assisting 10,000 people initially, with a full rollout expected in 2018.
  • A 5.2% increase in funding for hospitals to cover the costs of population growth, ageing, wage rises and new technologies. The increase has been described as a much-need funding boost for hospitals.

Become a foster carer!

If you’ve ever considered becoming a foster care, now is the time to act. With thousands of children in foster care, and that number continuously rising, foster care agencies around NSW need all the help they can get.

Anyone can apply to be a foster carer. If you’d like to join Phoenix Rising For Children’s team of carers, and to work with us to provide a nurturing placement for a child / young person, we’d love to hear from you.

PRFC provides care to children across the greater Sydney metropolitan and Central Coast areas. To be eligible to apply for this position you must have an appropriate Australian or New Zealand work visa.

We are contactable in the following ways:

Telephone: Samantha on 02 9873 3992

Write to us at PO Box 71, Oatlands 2117

Email: care@phoenixrising.org.au

Phoenix Rising For Children website

Phoenix Rising For Children Facebook page

My Careers Website

Join with Bishop Geoffrey Robinson and take a stand against sexual abuse within the Church.

Sexual abuse in the Church

 

Sexual abuse of children has been an ongoing issue for far too many years, and has become ever more present within the Church. Church priests and leaders are entrusted by the community to exercise pastoral care, teach, and minister to the people of the community, and yet there are some who abuse this trust we place in them.

History of sexual abuse in the Church

 

One question that we start to ask ourselves is discussed in the article “What’s Really Behind the Catholic Church’s Sexual Abuse Problem?”

Harriet Fraad’s article deftly examines the questions of why the Church has had so many incidents of sexual abuse within its walls, and why these century-long practices are only coming to light now.

It’s time to take a stand

 

For too many years, we have stood by and let our young people suffer. In their darkest hours they have had no-one to turn to. The priests, who might normally be considered their sanctuary in confession, have become their torment. Nowadays, those few who abuse our trust make a bad name for all the church. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson has decided it’s time to take action. He has felt the rejection of the people, who look upon his priesthood with distaste, and he no longer wants to see any association between sexual abuse and the Church.

Who is Bishop Geoffrey Robinson?

 

Bishop Robinson from the Catholic Church speaks of the horror of sexual abuse with the insight gained from someone who truly understands. As he says, as a teenager he too was abused. He has heard too many stories of sexual abuse within the Church and they have made him ashamed to be a priest and a Catholic. He has tried to speak out on the issue and he has felt the disapproval from authorities in the Church – authorities that want to protect themselves and the Church from the harsh media glare. However, he has not let this stop him.

There is now more media attention than ever before on the problem of sexual abuse within the Church. As the horror stories come out of the woodwork, we start to question – what has caused this? Why is there such an ongoing history of sexual abuse in the Church, and how can we stop this from ever happening again?

What is being done?

 

A Royal Commission is underway, and the new Pope, Pope Francis, has directed the Vatican to “act decisively” on clergy sex abuses cases, and now Bishop Geoffrey Robinson has committed himself to taking action. He has started a petition on www.change.org calling on Pope Francis to convene a full council of the Church on the issue. He hopes this will finally begin an open process to identify and remove the causes of the abuse.

What can we do?

 

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson is asking for our help to rid the Church of the causes of sexual abuse. He would like us to sign his petition to Pope Francis. If enough of us take action and stand with the thousands of other Catholics and victims of abuse, the Church will not be able to ignore the message we send them.

Let’s all take a stand against sexual abuse in the Church.

Sign Bishop Robinson’s petition now!

Have you heard about the “Racism: It Stops With Me” campaign?

“Racism: It Stops With Me”

Racism in Australia

 

Racism is surprisingly prevalent in Australia despite the fact that we are such a multi-cultural society. We’ve all heard the stories about people being abused on public transport for being from non-white backgrounds. Just a few weeks ago, in a video recorded by other passengers, a young school-boy of Asian descent was abused on a bus by a 50-year-old woman. Racial slurs were thrown his way. The woman, who admitted being drunk on the video footage, yelled at him to “get a passport,” and go back on his boat.

Is Australia a racist country?

 

It seems that the question of whether or not Australia is a racist country is not the point of the racism debate. Gillian Triggs, the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission and acting Race Discrimination Commissioner, notes:

“I work across a host of issues yet I am never asked, “Is Australia a sexist country?”, “Is Australia an ageist country?”, “Is Australia a homophobic country?” Instead, the commissioners who specialise in these areas and I are quizzed about the actual issue, its effects, its ramifications and the possible solutions…. There is racism everywhere. Does that make it OK? No. Is it harmful? Yes. Is Australia a racist country? It’s simply not the point.”

[Read Gillian Trigg’s full article here.]

What is the “Racism: It Stops With Me” campaign all about?

 

Racism exists in all aspects of life and there is one in particular that was the force behind this particular campaign. Sports players out on the field have spoken about being witness to and a victim of racist tirades. Adam Goodes was recently in the middle of an AFL match when a young girl of only 13 years verbally abused him by calling him an “ape”. While the girl did later apologise to Goodes, and being so young was unaware of the implications of what she said, the prevalence of racism around Australia goes to show that this is the environment our young people are growing up in.

“Why do people think that something as permanent as race, something we have no choice in, can make us better than another person?”

– Sarah, 16

In August 2012, developed through a partnership led by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the National Anti-Racism Strategy was launched. Between 2012 and 2015, the project aims to

  • Ask individuals to become part of a community of people who are committed to leading by example,
  • Develop materials to assist in the promotion of anti-racism messages, and
  • Develop education tools for a range of audiences, amongst a number of other practices.

The National Anti-Racism Strategy holds three main aims.

  1. Ensure more Australians recognise that racism is unacceptable in our community
  2. Give more Australians the tools & resources to take practical action against racism
  3. Empower individuals & organisations to prevent & respond effectively to racism

Impact of the campaign

 

The “Racism: It Stops With Me” video has been watched over 200,000 times since the AHR Commission posted it on Youtube last month.

Last week, the Australian Human Rights Commission launched “What You Say Matters” , an anti-racism music video featuring hip hop artist BrothaBlack and students from James Meehan High School in Macquarie Fields. This was a follow up to the “Racism: It Stops With Me” campaign, and hopes to influence and educate students in schools across the nation.

“Racism makes me question myself and why things have to be this way … I wondered one day what it would be like to be white and how much better my life would probably be. That was a low point.”

– Andrew, 19 

Check out some behind the scenes footage from the “What You Say Matters” campaign.

What can we do?

 

Spread the word! Download the videos, share them with everyone you know, and get talking. Create a discussion about why stamping out racism is important, and why being a “casual racist” is un-Australian.

“I don’t see that casual racism is acceptable. People who perceive they have the right and luxury to engage in racist practices do not understand that they are adding to a lifetime of injury for those of us who have had to navigate racism.” 

– Kath, 50

Sign The Petition to Make Buildings Safe for Factory Workers

A few months ago, the world witnessed one of the worst disasters in history – when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, trapping and killing more than a thousand of the workers amongst the rubble.

 

 

How did this happen?

 

The Rana Plaza was a building that housed several factories that made clothing for European and American consumers, including Primark, Walmart, and Benetton. Just the day before the collapse, the Bangladeshi news media had reported that inspection teams had discovered cracks in the structure of Rana Plaza. Despite this, and although some shops on the lower levels and a bank had closed, owners of the garment factories on the upper floors had ordered their employees to keep working.

 

Less than a year earlier, there was a fatal fire at the Tazreen Fashions garment factory in Bangladesh, and that fire brought pledges from government officials and global companies, including Walmart, to tighten safety standards for factory workers.

 

Despite these pledges and promises, no meaningful action took place, and in April the tragedy of the building collapse made this ever more evident.

 

 

What is being done?

 

“The real power lies with Western brands and retailers, beginning with the biggest players: Walmart…H & M, …Gap, and others,” says Scott Nova, executive director of Worker Rights Consortium, a labour rights organization.

 

It takes the biggest worldwide companies to formulate changes in factory conditions, and as of the 13th of May, a major breakthrough came from one of biggest retailers of them all – H & M.

 

Global advocacy group Avaaz created dramatic ad campaigns and petitioned the fashion retailers to sign an agreement that for the first time would legally bind Western retailers to invest in improving worker safety in Bangladesh and other low-cost countries.

 

When H & M agreed to sign the agreement, within three days three dozen other major retailers signed on.

 

What can we do?

 

 

There are still a few major retailers refusing to sign the agreement citing the risk of legal liability, including Gap, Wal-Mart, J. C. Penney, Target, and many other big United States brands. They claim they have their own safety procedures in place, which are weak in comparison and are not held to the same stringent safety standards as the accord the petition refers to.

 

The agreement, called the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, is largely the same safety program that is already embraced by retailers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Tchibo. It calls for independent safety inspections with public reports, mandatory repairs and renovations, the obligation by brands and retailers to underwrite the costs, and to terminate business with any factory that refuses to make necessary safety upgrades, and involves a vital role for workers and their unions.

 

By signing this petition, and sharing this post with your family and friends, we appeal to the big brands directly, and we can put the pressure on those last remaining retailers into submitting to these vital safety standards.

 

Let your voice be heard – sign the petition to make buildings safe!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/gap_enough_fashion_victims_global/

 

Read more about the tragedy and its aftermath:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/20/business/global/hm-led-labor-breakthrough-by-european-retailers.html

 

Read more about the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh:

http://www.workersrights.org/linkeddocs/WRC%20Press%20Release%20re%20Bangladesh%20Fire%20and%20Building%20Safety%20Accord%205.13.13.pdf

Children’s Commissioner Launches Listening Tour

On the 4th of June, the National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell started her three-month Australia-wide listening tour.

 

“I want to know how I can make the kids’ lives better but I can’t do that unless I start a conversation with them, learn what’s most important to them and how I can make their lives better.” – Megan Mitchell.

 

Who is Megan Mitchell?

 

 

Megan Mitchell is Australia’s first dedicated National Children’s Commissioner, and as stated on her website, she focuses solely on the rights and interests of children, and the laws, policies, and programs that impact on them.

 

She was appointed by the current Prime Minister Julia Gillard on February 25 2013, marking a significant step in the protection of children in Australia.

 

She has had extensive experience in issues facing children and young people, and has worked with children from all background types including significant work with vulnerable children, as well as significant expertise in foster and kinship care, child protection, children’s services, juvenile justice, child care, disabilities, and early intervention and prevention services.

 

Megan’s previous roles include NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People, Executive Director of the ACT Office for Children, Youth and Family Support, Executive Director for Out-of-Home Care in the NSW Department of Community Services, and CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service.

 

What is The Big Banter?

 

 

“Children and young people are experts in their own lives and so, before I can work out what needs to be done, I need to ask the experts!” – Megan Mitchell.

Over the next few months, Megan Mitchell will be travelling across the country to speak to as many children and young people as possible.

 

The Big Banter is her way of finding out from young people directly what they think the priorities of a National Children’s Commissioner should be.

Megan will also be speaking to the adults who work with and for these children about the rights of children and young people in Australia.

She will then be able to report to the government her findings later this year.

 

How can you be involved?

 

 

The Australian Human Rights Commission is calling for children and young people to join in on this Big Banter tour and tell Megan your thoughts. You can share your story, letters, poems, drawing, and anything else you feel like sharing, on the website;

http://somethingincommon.gov.au/thebigbanter.

From there, you can also take the survey and make your voice heard.

“I will be looking carefully at all responses and will report to parliament as well as to children and young people.” – Megan Mitchell.

 

Email Commissioner Mitchell: kids@humanrights.gov.au

Follow The Big Banter on Twitter: @MeganM4Kids

Follow Megan Mitchell at: facebook.com/MeganM4Kids

Find out more at: www.humanrights.gov.au/thebigbanter

What Services Do Phoenix Rising For Children Provide?

Foster Care Placement Services

PRFC provides the following service models for children and young people:

  • General Foster Care (GFC, GFC+1, GFC+2)
  • Respite
  • Intensive

Specialist Non-Placement Support Services

  • Contact Supervision
  • Supervised Transport
  • Mentoring + Youth Work Support
  • Kin and Relative Carer Assessments
  • Respite

Contact Supervision

We recognise that Contact is an important activity for many reasons.

Phoenix Rising For Children (PRFC) facilitates Court-ordered Contact Supervision for Family Court matters, Children’s Court matters, Government Departments including Family & Community Services, and for families with private family agreements.

We focus on the well-being and safety of the child whilst ensuring that the child and parent are afforded a meaningful opportunity to maintain, improve, or re-establish their relationships.

Contact visits are an opportunity for parents to demonstrate their relationship and parenting skills. Observation and monitoring is conducted in a supportive, positive environment – offering parents and children the opportunity for a relaxed and enjoyable contact experience.

The location of the Contact Visit is determined by particular needs of each family and is subject to Court Orders, casework, safety and OHS issues, and negotiations between parents.  PRFC facilitates Contact Visits at Community Service Centres and other community locations.

Contact Reports are suitable for Court filing and provide a timely account of the visit and include interactions between the child and parent and other attendees.

Supervised Transport

PRFC transports children to and from contact visits, some of which are unsupervised, and to other locations including appointments, Court, school, and foster carers.  We ensure children are transported in comfort and safety.  PRFC uses premium quality car seats, quality, age-appropriate strollers, and first aid kits.  We provide a written report detailing the interactions with the child during transportation.  All PRFC reports are appropriate for Court Filing.

Mentoring + Youth Work Support

PRFC provides mentoring to children who are vulnerable and at risk of becoming marginalised. Mentors aim at developing a positive relationship with the child based on respect.  We find an important aspect to each mentoring relationship is the opportunity to empower children and young people whilst offering assistance with identifying and accessing appropriate services.

Young people are offered assistance with life skills to assist them with the transition to independent living. Such work may include assistance with cooking, budgeting, cleaning, and access to education/ vocational training. Social skills focus on developing self esteem, relationships, networks, and identity. Examples include confidence building; improving communication; identifying activities or programmes (eg sport/educational) that would benefit the child/ young person, and assisting them to maintain links with their cultural background. Each young person is assessed individually and Youth Work Support is tailored to meet individual and unique needs of each child/ young person.

Kinship + Relative Carer Assessments

Relative and Kinship Care is provided by extended family members, friends or persons of significance to the child or young person. Relative care also includes private arrangements between family members where Community Services does not facilitate the placement, but agrees to provide financial support via an allowance. Kinship Care is care with a person who is not a relative of a child or young person, but who shares a cultural, tribal, and community connection that is recognised by that child or young person’s family and community.

As part of this service, trained PRFC staff undertake a thorough assessment of prospective relative and/or kinship carers by relying on recognised assessment formats such as “Step by Step” – a competency based resource for assessing potential foster carers by focussing on carers’ competencies.

Respite

Respite care is planned, regular or one-off, time-limited breaks for carers and children/young people, which provides carers with time-out from the demands of their role. Respite can occur in a variety of out-of-home settings and the frequency, length of time and other arrangements around respite will be identified in the child/young person’s case plan.

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