Trying to get help in the system

A woman reached out to EG a few weeks ago, at her wits end and demanding a return phone call. I rang back as quickly as I could. For privacy reasons we'll call her Jane. (That's not her real name, but Jane is such a wonderful name I like to use it whenever I can.) 

I wondered what I had done to upset her. Turns out she wasn't upset about anything to do with Everything Geraldton. Moreover, she didn't live anywhere near Geraldton. She lives in Rockingham. That would be Mark McGowan's electorate if I'm not mistaken. 

She reached out to EG, as well as a number of other media outlets, in a desperate attempt to have her story told. She told me the other outlets had basically said "we don't like to deal with these sorts of things" and I guess I can understand why. But I decided to listen to Jane for some time as she related her troubles. 

Here it is in a nutshell. 

Jane has seven kids. She's come out of a violent relationship. She had a VRO for her and her children's protection, but as she put it, "I may as well wipe my arse with the VRO." She says her ex breached it at least 20 times. 

Her ex husband committed a terrible crime recently and is about to go to jail. Jane says he got her onto meth a decade ago, and she says she's been off it for a bit over 100 days. Jane is also medicated for bipolar.

Oh yes. Seven kids, who have been brought up in a violent home, and are about to see their father locked away for a long time. 

Most men I know head to the doctor for that special procedure after kid number three, because they know the limits of what they can cope with. But Jane has seven, ranging from 14 to 1.

Jane copes. 

But barely. 

And she's been trying to get some help. 

Admittedly, she's already helped out by the government/taxpayer. She doesn't work, and receives the usual benefits a single mother receives. 

But Jane has been trying to get some assistance with caring for the kids from agencies like DCP. 

But because Jane copes she doesn't quite qualify. 

You see, Jane was told the only way she could get some extra assistance was if her kids were in actual danger. 

Jane had explained she was suicidal and barely coping at times. But it seems "barely coping" translates into "you're coping so you're not our problem." 

Someone kindly advised Jane that all she needed to do was lie to DCP and tell them she had neglected her youngest child. Jane told them the lie they needed to hear, and was then able to get day care for the children. 

It seems that if you're on the edge of coping, and can feel yourself slipping, there's not a lot of help available until you've actually slipped. 

Jane doesn't want her kids to go into foster homes. But she tells me she doesn't feel like she's coping much of the time. She says she's trying to get some sort of in home care or assistance to help keep her from the edge, but because she isn't bad enough of a parent, she's struggling to get the assistance. In her words: "I'm not a bad enough mum for DCP to do anything, but don't feel like I can keep treading water for much longer."

But having recently watched Jane try and navigate the numerous organisations that are ostensibly there to help, I can see why she's frustrated.

Here's another example of the difficulty faced by Jane in looking for assistance.

Jane's nine year old daughter has been more difficult than usual lately. Perhaps that's an understatement. She actually tried to run onto the road in front of a car. The daughter confessed to a psych worker she wants to kill herself, and explained how she would carry it out. She also explained how she would hurt her siblings. Jane tells me that this daughter has a history of similar behaviour. After the recent episode of the nine year old running out the front of the home and heading for the road, only stopped by a friend who happened to be arriving who tackled the girl to the ground, Jane sought help. 

As per her instructions from the support agencies, she called the Police. They said in a nutshell "What do you expect us to do? Call agency X or go to the emergency department of the hospital." Agency X also said "go to the hospital." The hospital admitted the daughter, but wanted her gone the next day with no other advice. After arguing and fighting Jane was able to take the daughter to another hospital in Perth. But they didn't want her either, because she wasn't displaying any problematic behaviour at that time. So home Jane went. But she didn't make it all the way home. Nine year old started threatening to open the car door and jump out on the freeway. So off to the nearest hospital, Fiona Stanley. And guess what. They don't want the daughter there any more either. Fair enough. They've got sick people to look after. So where do you take a suicidal nine year old who's threatening to hurt her siblings and herself? DCP will know. 

Nope. DCP said, and I quote because I heard the conversation, "That's up to you to talk to the hospital about."

"But I can't take my daughter home because it's unsafe, and the hospital says I can't leave her there. What do I do?" Jane asks. 

"That's up to you to talk to the hospital about," DCP says again. 

I'm sure you're a better parent than Jane. I'm sure you'd never make the life choices that would lead a person to this point. Good for you. 

But the fact of the matter is there are plenty of people like Jane living in our communities, and they struggle to navigate the complicated network of government departments and agencies. And some of these people don't fit our definitions of who qualifies for assistance.

They feel like they're being handballed each time they pick up the phone and ask for help.

I've done as much independent investigation as I can, viewed correspondence and court records, but as you can imagine DCP aren't too keen on speaking with the media about specific cases. I'm sure there's more than one side to the story, and I'm sure the individuals at all the different agencies are doing their best. Is Jane just someone who has failed to take responsibility for her own actions and needs to blame the "system" to make herself feel better, or is she someone who doesn't quite fit the description of a person who needs help, and hasn't said the magic words yet to get it? Is her case symptomatic of the disconnected age we live in where we can't even reach out to our neighbours or family and ask for help, and instead depend on the tax payer to fund an agency to solve our problems?

I don't know. But I keep meeting people who can't find the help they say they need, and they seem to be trying their best.

Why I changed my mind on the Cashless Welfare Card

When Andrew Forrest first put forward his idea to politicians for a cashless income management system to tackle some of the alcohol and drug abuse that was occurring in our communities, I was fond of the idea.

Having worked first hand with youth in Geraldton I have seen the effects of alcohol abuse on young kids in our communities.

I supported Geraldton being given a chance to trial the card. As Mr Forrest put it, what we're doing now isn't working; we need to try something. And I agreed.

But as time has gone on, and I've spent time trying to research the implementation of the card, I have changed my mind.

There are two reasons.

First, no metric has been decided upon to measure whether or not the card is achieving its stated goal. If crime increases after the implementation of the card, will the government guarantee removing the card and admitting they wasted our money? Would crime rates have gone up anyway and will the card be unfairly blamed? If crime decreases after the card is introduced, how will we even know if it's because of the card, or will the proponents of the card try and take credit? If the people known to abuse alcohol regularly simply move to another town (like what happened in the Pilbara), will the government get rid of the card? We have no idea.

The "trial" seems extraordinarily vague and unscientific. 

Secondly, and this is the main reason for my change of heart, is the stigma that will be attached to the very distinct card.

Like it or not, being unemployed and on the dole has a large social stigma attached to it. Heck, most of our surnames are our ancestors' occupations. What we do for a living is a massive part of our self identity in our culture, for better or worse. Think back to any 'small talk' chat you've had with a new acquaintance since you left school. "What do you do?" was most likely one of the 'get to know you' questions. And if you were on the dole, you didn't say "I'm on the dole." You said "I'm looking for work, but I'm a painter." Or "I used to be a teacher but I'm not working currently, I'm a full time carer for my sick mother."

Not all of us are keen to announce our current employment status to the world, just like some of us like to keep private our marital status, or our religious beliefs, or our sexual preference, or our membership at alcoholics anonymous.

But once this card is brought in, every time you pull it out to pay for something, you're loudly announcing to the person serving you, and the people in line behind you, that you don't have a job and rely on tax payer money to make ends meet.

Some of those people serving you will quietly put you in a box in their minds. Some of those people in line behind you will judge you while they inspect what you've chosen to buy with their hard earned tax money.

Some will not.

My credit card doesn't have my job written on it. And thank God too. I don't want to announce what I do for a living everywhere I go.

And I don't think it's right to stigmatise our fellow humans who, for one reason or another, find themselves without a job.

4000 years ago the Israelites had a system whereby farmers weren't allowed to harvest all the way to the edge of their fields. Why? So the poor could obtain food without being stigmatised and having to beg.

Are there people abusing the system, who have no intention of looking for work, and love their tax payer funded drug use?

Sure.

Are they the majority?

Of course not.

Should we stigmatise everyone who's currently unemployed because of the few bad apples?

I don't think so.

Could we consider instead a system just for people known to DCP that need income management help?

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How this satellite could increase populations throughout the regions

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As I drove around Australia last month, one thing that struck me was how decent the 4G and 3G coverage was throughout our nation, with the exception of NT. It's been 10 years since I had done such a trip. That was before the iPhone existed and we all expected to have Facebook in our pockets 24/7. Mobile reception was notably poorer a decade ago. 

What really surprised me was how having a half decent internet connection as I travelled gave me a sense of connectedness... both to my friends and family, and to the wider world. I have come to rely on the Internet for everything from banking and shopping, to communications and information consumption, not to mention entertainment.  

There are so many beautiful, but remote parts of this massive island, but I found myself thinking "yeah I could live here" in many of them, in part because I didn't feel quite so distant from the rest of the world.  

BUT... Mobile internet costs are way too high to be used in large doses. Each Gig of data cost be an extra $10. Living in rural Australia would require a decent home internet connection, something most remote places have gone without... until now. 

Enter the NBN satellite 'Sky Muster'. Finally, residents living in regional and rural Australia will be able to connect to affordable, high-speed broadband. 

Melissa Price, federal member for Durack, welcomed the official launch.  “This is great news for people in Durack that will finally be able to access high speed internet,” Ms Price said.

Offering download speeds of up to 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of up to 5 Mbps, the Sky Muster service will provide a faster online experience for internet users living in regional and remote areas.

“The remoteness of our continent and its islands is no longer a barrier to broadband connectivity thanks to nbn’s Sky Muster.”

To put those speeds in perspective, 25 Mbps is about a quarter of what you can get if you're on a fibre connection... but it's still 100 times faster than the speeds many people in the bush get. Many people who have access to a fibre connection only purchase a 25Mbps speed anyway. We shouldn't overstate the value of the service either. Not only are the speeds slower than fibre, but the amount of data you can download is a lot less. 

Each service requires a professional installation of a new receiver dish and indoor modem.

Equal priority will be given to new customers and current nbn Interim Satellite Service users migrating to Sky Muster. Around 5,000 users per month will be connected in the early months of the rollout before scaling up to 10,000 installations per month later this year.

More than 600 installers have been fully trained and are forecast to reach on average one to two premises per day due to safety considerations and extended traveling times involved in each installation.

An estimated 22,026 homes and businesses in Durack will be eligible to connect to the service as they are outside of nbn’s fixed line and fixed wireless coverage areas.

For more information on eligibility and retailers visit: www.nbnco.com.au or freecall nbn on 1800 687 626.

To give you some idea of the level of service and price, for around $150 per month, you can get about 60Gb of data to use during normal times, and another 8Gb to use during off peak times. This is still a far cry from the levels needed to compare to larger centres (I use about 1000Gb per month), but it will make doing most non video tasks quite bearable in rural areas. You won't be able to enjoy copious amounts of Netflix, iTunes movies, and YouTube though. 

Will people flock to the regions so they can have a notably poorer internet connection? Of course not. But will a half decent satellite connection be enough for many people who were considering a tree change? I believe it might be. 

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How moving to Geraldton made me stop driving like an idiot


I remember the first SS V8 Ute I brought home. Selling cars in Perth had very few perks, but thrashing new cars was one benefit. 

I was in my early 20's, and my esteem among my peers always went up a notch when I had a new vehicle to show off. 

I recall clearly blowing up an engine in a turbo charged Lancer on the Kwinana Fwy, teaching (showing off to) my friends how to do a proper hand brake turn, and destroying tyres on cheap trade ins. 

Many of my friends also had high powered cars, and we egged each other on. 

I lost my licence for a few months at one point due to an accumulation of demerit points. I deserved it. 

But I would still speed when I could get away with it. 


Losing those friends

In 2006 I moved to Geraldton. I got married. I stopped seeing my Perth friends. 

One day I realised I wasn't speeding any more. I couldn't remember the last time I had done a handbrake turn or a burn out. 

I wondered what had changed. I wondered who that idiot was who used to show off behind the wheel. He felt like a stranger.

But nothing sudden had changed, I just was no longer around people who thought hooning was cool, and I had grown to realise how dumb it truly was. 

 


Is peer pressure really that powerful?

The need to belong, be approved of, and get attention, are real human needs. Many people will do whatever it takes to get those needs met.

If the only people willing to offer young men acceptance are other young men with undeveloped prefrontal cortexes who lack sound reasoning skills, it's easy to see how the "hoon" culture perpetuates.

As I grow older I realise how important who I surround myself with is. It's not a "holier than thou" thing. It's just a recognition of my own frailty and need for positive influences in my life. 

If I could do it over, I'm sad to say that one change I would make would be to hang around with a different set of friends.

If you're a young person reading this, I'd advise that you choose your friends carefully. 

A developer is trying to get permission to subdivide our precious sand dunes

Mayor slams Minister’s plans for Southgates

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn has described the State Government’s plan to change an amendment which will result in the rezoning of Southgates Dunes for development and future urban subdivision as “nothing short of environmental terrorism”.

The proposed changes to Planning Scheme Amendment No. 4 went to council Tuesday night at the Agenda Forum after the Minister for Environment, Hon Albert Jacob, and the Minister for Planning, Hon John Day, reached agreement on the conditions to which the Amendment should be subject if it is to be implemented.

Mayor Van Styn has hit back at the proposed changes to the Amendment saying that any development on the land would destroy sand supply to other local beaches and are completely outrageous.

“We are flat out carting sand to Beresford to save our beaches (from Pages beach) and here we have a proposal that will make that problem a lot worse,” he said.

“The idea of destroying the sand supply to our northern beaches is mind blowing and it’s hard to believe that anybody could think that is in any way a good idea.”

The Amendment involves subdividing an area of around 780ha of land on Southgates Dunes.

The Local Planning Scheme Amendment in its current form poses significant risks for the City both financially and environmentally.

“The Southgates Dunes are iconic and represent Geraldton a much as our lighthouse,” Mayor Van Styn said.

“We also need to be reminded the proposed developer is the same developer that was responsible for the mess at Cape Burney,” he added.

If the motion to object the proposal is passed by Council next week, the City will immediately advise the Minister for Planning that the Council strongly objects to the implementation of Local Planning Scheme Amendment No. 4 in its current form.

“Here is yet another example, of Perth based planning bureaucracies making appalling planning decisions that are completely out of step with local sentiment and is another clear example of why local government should be the masters of their own planning,” Mayor Van Styn said.

“I call on all of our community to do all they can to protest against this outrageous proposal.”


Has there already been excessive mining at Southgates?

Many residents over the past several months have expressed their outrage to Everything Geraldton over how much sand has already been taken from Southgates. It's clear from the beach, and the road, that much of the natural and iconic dunes have been flattened. 

What's not known by most locals is that conveniently the level to which the dunes have been flattened is the exact same height that the EPA have said needs to be in place when/if any sub-division occurs. 

Some locals are questioning if EPA guidelines have been breached, or if too much sand has been taken already from the dunes, due to the obvious scaring that is clearly visible to all passers-by. 

The mining that is taking place at Southgates is for the lime sand to be used by farmers. It is used to increase the pH levels of soil. The mining, if done at low enough levels, is sustainable, as the dunes do grow each year. 

 


Everything Geraldton welcomes your feedback regarding "Save Southgates". Provide your feedback with the link below. Or email geraldton@justeverything.com.au


If you would like to contact our local representatives, here are their contact details. 


Ian Blayney

Shop 2, 5 Chapman Road
Geraldton WA 6530
Ph: 9964 1640
Fax: 9964 2892
Email: ian.blayney@mp.wa.gov.au


Paul Brown

Unit 3, 5 Chapman Road
GERALDTON WA 6530
Ph: (08) 9921 4818
Fax: (08) 9921 4972
Email: paul.brown@mp.wa.gov.au


Darren West

84 Marine Terrace
GERALDTON WA 6530
PO Box 578 GERALDTON 6531
Ph: (08) 9964 1001
Fax: (08) 9964 1002
Email: darren.west.mp@mp.wa.gov.au


Mayor Van Styn has set up a Facebook page called Save Southgates. Links below. Like the page and share with your friends if you're interested in getting behind it. 

Let's save Southgates! #savesouthgates

Posted by Save Southgates on Friday, March 18, 2016

These graphs explain why your internet gets so frickin' slow every afternoon

So you finally got NBN and expected to have blazing fast download speeds. Perhaps you even paid the big money to your ISP (internet service provider) to get the top speeds.

But Internet service providers have been struggling to keep up with the incredibly high demand for online video all around our nation. 

The problems are widely documents (link)(link), but despite providing you a much slower speed than what you're paying for, ISP's like iiNet don't seem to mind taking the full payment from you each month. 

But is there really THAT MUCH video content being downloaded?

Here are some of graphs from Google that show how much their YouTube service ramps up as soon as kids start getting home from school. 

This is JUST YOUTUBE. You can see after 4pm usage doubles compared to what it is during business hours. Add to this the huge popularity of Netflix, and the fact that some ISP's like iiNet don't even count Netflix usage towards customer's monthly download quota, and you can see why the ISP's are basically clogged. (Note, Geraldton's local ISP Node1 seems to be coping well with the spike in demand. More about them below.)

Telstra have admitted video is causing massive demands on their network too (link). They've seen a crazy 42% increase in data usage in just 12 months, and now over 50% of their mobile network data usage is for video content. 

The Netflix effect is having a huge impact on the NBN network already. And in the US the effect is even more drastic, a sign of things to come. Already more than a third of US prime time internet traffic is just from Netflix. 


The death of television

It's no secret that TV viewership in Australia has been tumbling for some time now (link) (link)(link). In fact, around half of all free-to-air TV watchers are now over 50. In the coveted 25-34 demographic, a whopping 20.7% watch NO FREE TO AIR TV. 

Tim Martin, General Manager – Media, at Roy Morgan Research, says:

"Commercial TV is now unable to reach around a fifth of all 14-34 year-olds, and the trend looks set to continue. In another seven years, it might well be a third. Already the very idea of ‘seeing what’s on TV’ at a particular time is beginning to seem a little archaic next to the massive libraries of niche, personally appealing content ready—by definition—on demand."

If you have kids older than three, chances are a tablet has replaced their TV.

Speaking first hand, I can tell you my 8 and 5 year olds would rather watch gamers on YouTube any day of the week, than flick the channels on traditional TV. I could tell you who Stampy Longnose and The Diamond Minecart are, but I have no idea who the news anchors for GWN7, WIN or anyone else are. In fact, our TV hasn't had the aerial connected for 8 months now, and no-one in the house has complained. Between ABC iView, Netflix, YouTube and the occasional iTunes movie, we haven't even missed "traditional" TV. Any news worth seeing will appear in my Twitter or Facebook feeds way before it's on TV, or there's a few apps that keep me in the loop that I like such as the New York Times, Feedly, and the Everything Geraldton app (of course). 

There's no way my children and grandchildren will be content to sit in front of the idiot box and just watch whatever comes on. The ability to enjoy exactly what interests them, exactly when it suits them, is something they will take for granted. 

Here's hoping the ISP's will keep up with the demand. While it's understandable that they're struggling to cope under the huge spike in video demand, it's still frustrating to be given internet speeds much lower that what you're paying for each month. 


One last interesting titbit if you're wondering which ISP will be able to keep up with your home's online video demands... 

Netflix published stats each month comparing the speeds at which each network delivers their content. It's a clever way of encouraging said ISP's to make sure Netflix content is delivered into homes as quickly as possible. 

The numbers are all embarrassingly low though; it really is a choice between the lesser of evils. 


One other option...

Many locals don't realise that Geraldton actually has a LOCAL ISP, Node1 Internet. I can't tell you how many times it's been a massive relief to have a local office with local people to deal with when there's been technical issues to resolve. Whenever people contact us asking who to use for Internet we recommend Node1. And that's based on having used most of the others too. 

I highly recommend you check them out. They offer NBN of course, give great customer service, and even have other high speed internet options if your home isn't yet connected to the NBN. 

Their phone number is 9964 5464. 

Comment

Jason Smith

Jason Smith is the founder of Just Everything. He is also a local volunteer, law student, and home-schools his three kids. 




Regarding the proliferation of Go-Fund-Me listings

(The purpose of the following article is to reduce the amount of questionable Go Fund Me listings that are sent around each day, so that the ones that are genuine are actually effective. Please don't think we want everyone to become hard hearted and stop giving. Geraldton is famous for its generosity, and it's something we can all be proud of.)


If you spend any time on social media, you've probably noticed the huge spike in Go Fund Me listings over the last few months. They've become a popular way for people to reach out to their fellow citizens and ask for money. Everything Geraldton gets sent about one Go Fund Me link each day.


Did you know Geraldton has a local charity that helps a lot of people?

Before I rant on about Go Fund Me listings, I want to share some info about a fantastic charity Geraldton has that I'm surprised so many people still haven't heard about. 

They're called "Midwest Charity Begins at Home".

The term "charity begins at home" is an old proverb, essentially meaning "help those close to you first."

Sometimes we get so overwhelmed with world events we forget to help those in very real need right on our own doorstep. 

Midwest Charity Begins at Home is run by a bunch of locals who see the needs in our community, and want to do something about it. 

I spoke with Chris Dobson about the work they do.

Who can Mid West Charity Begins at Home assist?

The person must be a Mid West resident, and in financial need due to serious illness. 

Do you give money or physical items?

We can only give cash. 

How does someone ask for help?

On our website we have an application form. We do need a doctor's certificate. We (the MWCBAH folk) meet up and discuss the application. We usually have funds within a few days. 

Wow that's fast!

Because we’re small and local, we can act on it pretty quick. 


Go-Fund-Me listings

Sometimes Go Fund Me really is the best way to organise community support around a particular issue. It certainly has its place and is very convenient. 

But many of the listings we are sent make us question several things. 

Here's a list of some of the problems we are seeing. 

(NOTE: We're not telling people to not share their Go Fund Me listings with us. If the need is verifiable and the listing ticks all the boxes, we'd love to help out by sharing it.)


1. There's so many of them now that people have become numb to them. People simply can't donate to every one they see, so they just keep scrolling. 

With each Go Fund Me listing people donate to, they are less likely to donate to the next one. Locals have expressed to EG that they feel like they're overwhelmed with people asking for money every day. 


2. Some of the listings are spreading confidential or personal information. 

jake drage go fund me.png

A Geraldton resident named Jake Drage was in an Indonesian prison in 2014. 

A Go Fund Me listing was created by a well meaning friend of his raising money to bring him home. But this Go Fund Me listing was how the media learned of the situation and, according to people assisting Jake, hamstrung efforts to get Jake released from jail.

I often see Go Fund Me listings set up by acquaintances of who the money is ostensibly for, sharing information that I doubt the people involved would want published for the world to see. 

The media love the listings though, as they have become a great source of inside information on tragedies. 

Before you publish anything, ask yourself if you're ok for this info to go viral, and for every person in town to know it. 


3. There is no accountability as to where the money goes. 

We see many listings that claim to be raising the money for a third party. Donors have no way of verifying if the funds ever make it to the intended source, and in many cases even if a genuine need exists. Legitimate local charities like Midwest Disaster Relief or Midwest Charity Begins at Home do verify if actual need exists first before handing out money or goods, and they themselves must be accountable with funds that they receive. 


4. It's hard to tell who is ACTUALLY in need

I've seen Go Fund Me listings for people I know to be quite wealthy. They've been set up by friends of the families following an accident or other event. The people who the money is for owned their home, a successful business, multiple cars... they're basically wealthier than most of the people that are donating to their cause. 

The friends who set up the Go Fund Me listings probably don't know their net worth, they're doing it as a kind gesture, the first way they can think of to help out. 

EG was sent one the other day where the family in question didn't seem to be in dire straits financially at all, and specifically told me that they wanted to go on a holiday with the money raised. I kid you not. The Go Fund Me listing didn't mention that, of course. 

I've seen other people in desperate need who have a Go Fund Me listing, and they can barely raise enough money for a tank of fuel. 

When we see so many Go Fund Me listings each week, some with serious need, others with questionable need, we grow numb to all of them. So that means people who are in GENUINE need are getting less donations because of all the listings that get created and shared. 


5. There are formal ways of getting assistance that already exist. 

Yes, many people fall through the cracks and we all need to reach into our own pockets to help others out. No one is saying Australia's social welfare is perfect. 

But, many of the Go Fund Me listings are written as if Centrelink and Medicare didn't exist. Australia has, despite its shortcomings, one of the most generous health care and welfare systems in the world. 

Moreover, there are charities that exist specifically to help people in crisis, and not only are they accountable for the money they handle, but donations to those charities are tax deductible. 

Midwest Charity Begins at Home is one local charity that does a fantastic job of getting assistance to people in need in our community suffering financial difficulty due to illness. More about them above. 

Mid West Disaster Relief give out countless amounts of second hand furniture and other items to people needing assistance. They're a fantastic asset to our community. 

There are plenty of others too... The Salvos and Sun City Care spring to mind.


Now in saying all that, Everything Geraldton will not institute a policy of never sharing a Go Fund Me listing. We're simply asking that people creating these listings consider the points mentioned. 

1. Has the person who the money is for actually asked for a go fund me listing to be created?

2. Are you sharing sensitive information? Are you happy with whatever you publish to be known by every person in Geraldton?

3. Have you already exhausted all the official ways of getting financial assistance that exist?

4. Have you spoken with Midwest Charity Begins at Home, or other relevant charities?


Keep in mind that the more Go Fund Me listings we see each day, the less effective they are. 

So save them for genuine needs and use existing channels to raise money whenever possible. 

Corellas to be culled after residents complain that birds were simply relocated to other parts of Geraldton

Deepdale residents are hopeful that they'll be able to deal with the large number of corellas in their area, after obtaining permits from Dept of Parks and Wildlife to conduct a small cull of the birds. 

In January, City of Greater Geraldton CEO Ken Diehm said the amount of corellas in the City is estimated at 7500, half of last year’s population. He hailed a relocation program conducted by the city as a success. The Relocation Program uses a gas gun, firecrackers and a handheld device that fires percussion cartridges into the sky close to where the birds roost. 

But some residents of Geraldton disputed the success of the program, claiming the birds had simply moved to other Geraldton suburbs, outside of the CBD. 

We spoke with one local affected by the birds who said a few residents got together to discuss what they could do about the bird problem and investigate the matter. They applied to the Department of Parks and Wildlife for a permit to carry out a small cull on the birds. The Department confirmed that permits had been issued in the Deepdale area. 

City of Greater Geraldton CEO Ken Diehm said regarding the culling of the birds,

“The control and management of native wildlife is a State Government responsibility dealt with under the umbrella of the Department of Parks and Wildlife. As per the Department of Parks and Wildlife website it is clear that each property owner is responsible for their own land. It is the decision of the individual land owner to obtain a permit to undertake culling of wildlife on their property. This is not a Local Government decision. In 2015 it was predicted that populations of Corellas were sitting at over 15,000 and this year and after the City’s recent relocation program the numbers have halved.”
Image: David Ford

Image: David Ford


Can't Win

Opinion

In the past, the CGG has conducted its own culls on the corella population. But following complaints from some members of the public, they investigated an alternative way of moving the birds on. 

While the city said the program was a success, in that it has stopped the tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to public infrastructure and valuable trees, some residents feel like the city should have just bit the bullet and used ... a bullet. 

But even the more pleasant method of scaring the birds attracted complaints. EG received multiple complaints from irate members of the public who believed that even scaring the birds was a terrible idea. 

What seems lost on most people complaining though is the amount of damage the birds do, and the fact that they're an introduced pest. 

Nobody bats an eye at the hundreds of foxes, rabbits, cats, pigs and dogs the Shire of Chapman Valley talk about, very publicly, shooting each year. They even have competitions to see who can get the most kills, with prizes and cooked breakfasts.

Unless you're a vegan and have an underlying philosophy of never harming a living creature, I can't understand the complaints.

It seems quite odd for people to eat Chicken Treat for dinner, and then complain that a bird has been shot. 

It doesn't seem to matter what the team at the City of Greater Geraldton does on this matter, one group or another are going to be up in arms. (No pun intended.)

It's nice to see a group of proactive residents take up the task of dealing with the birds, rather than just waiting for a government body to do it for them.

The birds in question are an introduced species, and are not native to this region, according to information from NACC. (See below.)


Comments posted on EG's facebook page following news of the CGG Relocation Program's success. (Link)


The City of Greater Geraldton will introduce a new method to relocate corellas from its CBD. The corellas that the...

Posted by Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC) on Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Keep a eye out around the airport you might be lucky enough to see a wedge tail eagle having a cockatoo dinner like I did yesterday."- Lawrence Hillary

Posted by Everything Geraldton on Saturday, January 23, 2016

 

10 things anyone who's lived in Geraldton knows

This year marks the tenth year I have lived in Geraldton.  I guess that officially makes me a local now, right? 

I absolutely love this city.  I loved it ten years ago, and I still do.  I moved from Perth in 2006 to be with my (now) husband with no plans, knowing nobody and nothing about Geraldton at all.  It’s definitely changed a lot since I’ve been here, but the best things about Geraldton have stayed the same, really.  The beaches, the people, the relaxed atmosphere.  Now that I am, hopefully, officially a Geraldton local, here are some things that people of Geraldton know for sure about our fair city.

 


1. You haven’t experienced wind until you’ve had to pick your clothes up from around the backyard. 

Sometimes, when you hang the washing out, you have to chase the hills hoist around in circles.  You come back outside in ten minutes and it’s dry.  Possibly all over the ground, or over the back fence, but it’s dry.  You can’t wear your hair down for an outside wedding.   People everywhere else call it severe winds.  To us, it’s a sea breeze.


2. We have the best customer service.

When I moved to Geraldton I was delighted to discover how friendly people in customer service are.  They are always helpful and always smiling.  Sure, I imagine we all have bad experiences once in a while, but it happens nowhere near as much as it did when I lived in Perth.


3. 'Six Degrees of Geraldton' is a thing. 

You go places and you know everyone.  People you know talk to you about other people they know, who you kind of know, because they are your mum’s best friend’s daughter’s Year One teacher.


4. Everyone is this town bands together during times of personal crisis. 

Thanks to ‘Six Degrees of Geraldton,’ when someone is going through something, we are all going through it.  People are so quick to raise money and help out a family or a person in a tough time.  We are a generous city, and we look after each other.


5. It’s a great place to raise children. 

This one is new to me.  My twins are 19 months old and there is nowhere my husband and I would rather raise them than in Geraldton.  There are parks, great beaches and playgroups.  Our beautiful foreshore makes for a great family Sunday day out.  


6. We all remember what we were doing the day the cinema got EFTPOS.

It was a joyous occasion for all.


#Drummonds from the air Shared by @jthomas84_

A photo posted by Everything Geraldton (@everythinggeraldton) on

7. Geraldton has the best beaches in Western Australia. 

It’s our state’s best kept secret.  Watch out for the sharks though.


The jewel of #geraldton #crayfish #rocklobster #seafood about to be #pickled #omnomnom #tasty #monster

A photo posted by Caity Teneille (@caityteneille) on

8. Our Christmas lunches usually involve crayfish. 

Thanks once again to ‘Six Degrees of Geraldton,’ we all know someone who knows someone who has a few spare crays they can throw our way.


9. Winter in Geraldton is practically Summer everywhere else. 

Some of the best weather I’ve experienced has been smack bang in the middle of July.  I’m talking 29 degree days, with no wind.  Beautiful.


10. We love our city. 

Don’t say anything bad about it either, we live here because we love it.  I’m so proud to call this place my home and excited that my sons will grow up here.  Thank you, Geraldton for the memories over the last ten years, the friendly faces, and the wind, for being the reason why I never had to buy a clothes dryer.  

 


Here’s to the next ten years in this beautiful place.    

The best coffee in Geraldton

If you’re a coffee lover, you will have your steadfast opinion about where to go in our fair city to find the best beans.  As a cappuccino fan myself, I was more than happy to hunt out the best in Geraldton. 

So, first of all, what makes a great coffee?  Everyone I asked this question generally said the same things.  Must not be bitter, not too milky and never, ever burnt.  After drinking a fair amount of caffeine around town, I realised that this task was going to be harder than I thought.  There are tons of great coffee places around, it just depends what vibe you’re after really.

If you’re looking for a cappuccino with a view, Skeeta’s wins hands down.  Good coffee overlooking that beautiful Geraldton harbour.  Definitely not disappointing.  Grab a takeaway and go for a walk down the Marina in the sunshine.

Want that beach vibe?  The Jaffle Shack Café on the foreshore opened recently, and you will love it.  With the distressed wood and grassy space for the kids plus a range of jaffles and snacks it’s a great place to chill after a swim.  The best part, for you diehard caffeine lovers, the coffee is amazing.

If you have toddlers in tow like I always do, Two Foreshore not only does great coffee, but a range of healthy snacks, and they will even deliver your cuppa to the playground for you.  Plenty of room for prams and mother’s groups too.

Culinary HQ is an excellent place to stop in and grab a takeaway on your lunchbreak and Salt Dish serves an amazing, healthy breakfast with your morning brew.

But where in town serves hands down the best coffee?  

This was a tough task but I found it at the very last place I visited, which was Quiet Life Specialty Coffee.  I’d never been there but had heard only good things, and let’s just say, I was super impressed.  It has a funky vibe and friendly staff.  My cappuccino was amazing and the sneaky cronut was tasty too.  What’s a cronut, you ask?  Well it’s a croissant crossed with a donut, and you need it in your life.    

So, the best coffee in Geraldton, a harder task than I had imagined, but one I had lots of fun researching.  It’s great to see so many places with such different atmospheres, and that’s why I love this city.

Regarding retailers rejecting "bra money"

The ABC Midwest ran a story today on shops in Geraldton rejecting money kept in people's brassiere. The story was published on the ABC's national Facebook page, and thus gathered remarks from around the country. ABC claimed that a "growing" number of businesses are putting the sign up. 

I've worked in retail for many years, and experienced people handing over bra money lots of times. Allow me to share my experience. 

  • I don't recall the money every being "sweaty and gross". 
  • Often the woman has children with her, and carrying the cash there seems to be quite practical with her hands otherwise full. 
  • The first time I saw this happen I was a little surprised, but I quickly realised that the skin of someone's breast is likely a lot cleaner than their hands, so I got over it. 
  • When I spoke with one person about why women kept their cash there, they mentioned that it was a lot less likely to be nicked than if they carried a purse around with them all the time. If money is tight, it makes sense to want to protect it as much as possible. 
  • I have seen other women stick their keys or phone in their bra when heading to the beach. "Where else are you gonna put it?" was one comment I got, referring to how most women's clothing doesn't have pockets. 
  • Putting a sign up to say you won't accept bra money achieves absolutely nothing. All someone has to do is take their cash out before they enter the store. Not a very useful system if you really want to protect your staff from breast germs. 
  • I have frequented many mens toilets, obviously. MOST MEN DO NOT WASH THEIR HANDS AFTER USING A TOILET. Sorry, but it's true. If you're honestly scared of germs, and not just discriminating against people who are unable to carry a purse with them everywhere, then you wouldn't accept cash from any male who used his hands to pass it to you. 
  • I had a bloke once pull money out of his socks. From memory, he was a tradie who found it easier to keep his cash there than have his wallet slip from his pocket while working. He looked like he was working hard keeping the economy ticking, and deserved his Iced Coffee. I hardly felt within my rights to refuse his business. 
  • Not everybody has the same background, upbringing, or habits regarding the handling of cash. If a sizeable number of people in our community see carrying cash in their bra as a practical habit, perhaps its worth considering why they do it rather than just declare "that's gross" and ban them from shopping at your store. 

One person interviewed who erected the sign banning bra money told the ABC it was "a matter of respect." 

Respect goes both ways. Understanding that some people live very different lives to you, are dealing with circumstances you will never be exposed to, and are just trying to transport their cash as safely as they can, is probably worth thinking about. Being forbidden from buying food from a store because the safest way for you to carry your cash is in your bra seems a little disrespectful.

No respect for those with a Disability

Claire Sleeman says she is not pleased with members of the public not respecting those with disability:  

It has come to my disgraced attention that a lot of people have no respect for people with disabilities in this town anymore. I am fed up with having to put up with mothers at the aquarena using these changerooms with their toddlers and people using disabled parking bays.
I hope all the people I have upset have gone home and thought about their laziness but come on you people, one day you will need it too. 

Apple Watch Review

REVIEW - Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is great piece of technology for those on the go or the tech savvy users.
It brings notifications, calls and emails directly to your wrist making sure you never miss that important communication.

I love this nimble device it's great but is a piece of jewellery that's essentially an expensive add-on to your already pricey iPhone.

I think the novelty of the device outweighs its flaws of daily charging and its inability to go underwater.

The many watch faces and personalisation of the device enables you to make it your own and gives you the power to add your own personal background watch face.  

With Facebook messenger, emails and fitness trackers including a variety of games the Apple Watch is a great device if you can afford to buy it.

Once the full version of Apple Pay comes to Australia (American Express Only) the watch will become a perfect all day use item giving the ability to wave your wrist near an EFTPOS machine, similar to PayWave on most credit cards.  

The entry level device starts with the Apple Watch Sport at $499.00, The Apple Watch starts at $799.00 and the high end Apple Watch Edition starts at $14,000 - yes I know that's expensive for a watch.  

If you want an Apple Watch you need an iPhone 5 or later model. 

The watch battery is great lasting a full day however you will need to charge it every night if you want it to last a full day.

Watch bands add another level personalisation enabling you to make the watch your own with a band that suits you or the occasion.  

I ordered an watch with the Apple Store app and it arrived within the week to Geraldton, I was very surprised at the efficiency of delivery. 

Will you be getting an Apple Watch? 



Open Letter to Ratepayers

Open Letter to Ratepayers

Ratepayers  - you may not have noticed the small notice in the Guardian recently advising you of the Electors Meeting tomorrow Tuesday at the Council Offices at 5.30pm.

This meeting isa once a year opportunity for you asa ratepayer to have your say about the operations and decision making of Council – Don’t waste it.

Preferably you should put any questions you have in writing to Council beforehand so as to allow time for a researched answer. 

Ratepayers I urge you to spend an hour or so of your time to show the Council you care.  The opportunity is yours – come along and ask why the Council do what they do with your money.  Remember it’s your money the Council spend.

Regards

Max Correy

Lunatic drivers need seven years in jail

Imagine a man is walking down the mall in the middle of Perth. He is carrying a rifle. He starts firing the gun up in the air.

It's loud. People start fearing for their lives. They duck for cover. But he's not a terrorist. He's just having a bit of fun. He lets off a few more rounds into the sky as parents cover their children who are screaming. Everyone nearby is completely afraid for their lives. 

One of the bullets hits a window in an upstairs building and narrowly misses a young lady's head. 

Eventually he's run out of bullets and wanders off to have a beer. 

The Police eventually catch up with the guy because one onlooker managed to film the event on their iPhone. The man appears before a magistrate, and claims he wasn't meaning to hurt anyone. He has a gun licence and realised now that what he was wielding was a dangerous weapon, not just a hunting tool, and he promises not to do it again. He's really sorry that some people got a little startled, and he regrets his actions. 

But the magistrate is furious. He says the man needs to learn a lesson. So he takes away his gun licence and makes him hand over his gun for 28 days. 


WAIT!!! HANG ON. THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. 

The guy would be all over the front of every newspaper in the country. Authorities would be trying to charge him under counter terrorism laws. He'd be in jail quicker than you could count to zero. He would be sued by every shop, person, or dog that was anywhere near the incident. He wouldn't be able to show his face in public if he ever did get out of prison. He'd have to change his name, and he'd end up living in a two horse town in the middle of nowhere for fear of retribution for the terror he caused to so many innocents. Even his family would have to relocate and change their names after the amount of press their black sheep idiot caused them. 


AND YET...

Every day, idiots do essentially the same thing with a deadly tool, striking fear into the heart of their fellow citizens, when they drive like complete maniacs on our roads. 

And our politicians and magistrates, despite promising to get serious every election, still have not got these people off our roads. 

Sure, they made it more time consuming to get a licence. But I've just watched two teenagers get their licence. All the log books in the world don't make up for the fact that the crappy computer game you have to pass to get your licence is a complete and utter joke. There are still plenty of incompetent people driving around today.

And yes... it's now illegal to have car advertisements that show cars breaking the road rules without little disclaimers pop up on the screens. That will stop people thinking hooning is cool. Clap. Clap. Excuse me while I finish playing Need for Speed then watch Furious 7. (Note, I don't think banning those movies or games is a smart idea btw)

And cops can confiscate people's cars. Yay. But guess what. Tomorrow that same idiot can hop in their mate's car and drive it, even without a licence. Just like so many of them do. Just follow any Police account on Twitter and you'll soon be sick of all the stories of unlicensed drivers being arrested. 

Turns out the cars don't actually ask if you have a licence. They just start when you turn the key. It's as though people handing down the penalties use chauffeurs or something and don't actually realise how cars work. 

Today my wife had her life put at risk by 3... that's right... 3... idiot drivers. She was driving from Mandurah to Geraldton with my 6 month old in the back. 

Here are her words:

“I am fuming right now. 
What will it take Geraldton residents? Yet another mother dead and baby motherless!!
Do you really have to experience it for yourself before you stop over taking a car and truck over a solid white line with oncoming traffic!! If I didn’t pay full 110% attention and slowed down in preparation to make a gap for you to get off quickly my baby and I could have been your next biggest life mistake!!!!!!
Three cars did this to me only ten minutes south of Geraldton going through Greenough. So what if you get home 5 min later than expected! At least then MY family may see me return to give them hugs.”

We have all made dumb mistakes on the road. A moment of inattentiveness. A few seconds of zoning out. HOLY CRAP DID I JUST DO THAT?! We snapped out of it and thanked God for another chance. 

But that's not what I'm talking about. 

What I'm talking about is deliberate attempts to save a few minutes of time by taking massive risks and breaking a clear laws. 

And what's the worst thing?!

The fact that none of us are shocked. We see this kind of thing ALL. THE. TIME.

It's time we charged these people with the crimes they are committing. They have caused terror. They have endangered lives. 

They may not like the sentence. But I'm sure they'd hate having blood on their hands even more. 


Criminal Code Western Australia (link)

304. Act or omission causing bodily harm or danger

(1) If a person omits to do any act that it is the person’s duty to do, or unlawfully does any act, as a result of which —

(a) bodily harm is caused to any person; or

(b) the life, health or safety of any person is or is likely to be endangered,

the person is guilty of a crime and is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.


Driverless cars can't get here fast enough. 

Reflections on growing up in Geraldton and leaving

geraldton dog.jpg

Name, date of birth and place of birth. Three questions asked repeatedly throughout my life. It is so ingrained into me, that I can write it down in less than ten seconds. It has become part of who I am just because I’m reminded so often. Like an immigrant is so often asked where they come from, so am I. It’s just that my place of birth doesn't resonate in people’s memories. 

The place of birth is Geraldton. 

And for the first eighteen years of my life, home was Geraldton. 

I learnt to walk and talk in Geraldton.

I made friends in Geraldton.

I passed my driving test in Geraldton.

I graduated in Geraldton.

Then my future was finally in reach, in my own hands. I could go anywhere, do anything, be anyone, whenever I wanted.

The world was my oyster and Geraldton was blocking me in.

I applied and got accepted into university in Perth. Started to travel; Australia and overseas. Made new friends, lost old friends. Got a puppy. Rented a house. Two years passed in ‘The big smoke’ but still it did not feel like home. 

Just recently in one of my uni classes we were discussing rural versus city education. I was the only one in my class that did not graduate in a Perth high school. They talked about the weekend classes teachers organised, and resources and people they had available. School swimming pools, numerous unit options, high quality teachers and the list went on. They had so much more to take for granted than I could even imagine.

But then I realised something else. 

I learnt more in my eighteen years in Geraldton then they could ever learn. 

I learnt how to get past the furnace sand to the beach without getting blisters.

How to go fishing and crabbing.

To climb trees, and ride bikes on sand.

To find an outfit that works from only a handful of shops. 

To keep my word, and always be on time.

To make friends and keep friends.

To be in the moment (And why not? Everything is only five minutes away).

To teach myself and do the best with what is at hand.

To put family first, friends second and to love myself and everything else will fall in place.

To always come prepared, but to live spontaneously.

To bring sunscreen and bathers no matter what they say.

The list is endless.

Geraldton has the lifestyle, the beaches, the ranges. It is undeniably beautiful. But what I miss is what I used to hate. How simple it is.

Geraldton was my home. It probably won't be again. But I thank Geraldton, and all its people I met in those eighteen years. Geraldton was not blocking me in. Rather, it was my starting point, and looking back, I could not have hoped for better. 

 

Have we become so risk averse we are destroying our community?

When I was told the other day that a small community group needed to purchase an insurance policy for $270, to invite local people to enjoy and celebrate history for a few hours, I really had to ask myself, has this all gone too far? My flippant retort was to suggest the writing of a mass waiver. But then, can you imagine...'welcome, great to see you Linda and Bob, can you sign this form so if anything happens including burns, falls, theft or psychological trauma we wont be liable, but yes have a great time, help yourself to a sausage', what a mood killer. It seems these days our small 'friends and neighbors community groups' are being choked with requirements and expectations to address criteria, fill out forms, undertake risk assessments and complete a raft of 'just in case' forms. I wonder how many people think twice about bringing folks together for worry of having to complete a risk matrix, or OHS assessment. I am not saying there isn't a place for these things, of course, events need to be safe, but I am wondering when it comes to smaller ordinary neighborhood events, have we thrown the baby out with the bath water......does it really need to be this complicated? I think somewhere along the line the voice of ordinary folks has been drowned out by the noise of the litigation and the insurance machine. I can't say I have the answers, or even an alternative, that might get us out of the insurance quagmire, but I do think we really need to examine who is controlling how and why we do things....I for one am ready to question why the policies of 'You Need Insurance Corp' have insidiously crept into ordinary interactions in our community.

Why I support Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the Liberal party

I stood awaiting Andrew Hastie and co last Thursday at a Business community event his team had organised. I had not been informed it was cancelled, neither had the caretaker of the venue and others who rocked up. 

As we stood outside waiting and chatting, one gentlemen chimed in with what his thoughts on what he wanted out of his elected public servants. "They need to sit down, together, and work out a plan for Australia's future," he said. The "us vs them" narrative in politics was tiring and had to stop, it was argued. 

As Turnbull today sets his sights on wrestling back leadership of the Liberal party, I am reminded of what actually led to his original demise... that he negotiated in good faith with Kevin Rudd regarding a carbon emission trading scheme. 

I watched first hand as concerned, yet ill informed, citizens lobbied their MPs to tell them climate change wasn't real and how they needed to ditch Turnbull. At the time I was gobsmacked. Here, in what seemed to me a happy, albeit rare, occurrence, the leaders of the most powerful political parties in Australia were negotiating on legislation that could benefit our planet for generations to come. 

Turnbull's leadership was challenged by the far right wing of the party, and Abbott won by a solitary vote.

Much has already been said about Abbott's decline in popularity since coming to power, I need not reiterate. 

But whether you support a Liberal government, a Labor government, or something else entirely, it seems to me that Turnbull has far more respect from those who won't vote Liberal, and a lot more ability and desire to work with those on the other side of the aisle. 

We cannot vote for our head of state. So instead the closest thing we have to a chosen leader will be decided this evening by some men and women behind closed doors. 

Drugs, and the government that is trying to stop us from hurting ourselves

Drugs are bad. 

It's a mantra mocked no better than that famous old episode of South Park where a school teacher tries to discourage young students from drugs with catch phrases rather than logic. 

Each day we're reminded of the scourge of drugs that exists all around us. Police all over WA celebrate and brag on Twitter when they catch an evil weed smoker, and Politicians seek to win votes by promising to be tougher on anyone who supplies the evil drugs to those of us so desperate and willing to consume them. 

For the record, I don't smoke weed. I don't like getting drunk. And I've never touched anything harder than that either. I love my life, and I enjoy having full control of my mental faculties. But I understand not everyone thinks the same as I. I have friends who love to get drunk. Some who enjoy pot. And others who won't even touch caffeine because it's a mind altering drug apparently. 

I love a good cigar. And I enjoy a beer from time to time. The choice to consume the drugs alcohol and nicotine is mine. I am fully aware of the scourge that alcohol is on our society. I know that smoking causes cancer. And yet I consume these any way. 

I could argue that they help me relax. I could tell you how they provide a social platform that helps me connect with friends that I love. But I really think that's missing the point. I shouldn't have to eloquently articulate why I like to do something. I own my body. I'll do with it what I choose. If I'm not hurting you it's really none of your business. 

Lately I have grown increasingly annoyed by an ever encroaching government that is trying to stop even even my simple pleasures from happening. 

A popular cigar shop in Perth, Devlins, recently sent an email to its customers repenting for including an image of a cigar in a previous email campaign. They informed us that they're no longer allowed to even show us a picture of the cigar we want to purchase under Australian law. 

Never mind the fact that with a few clicks of a mouse I can view images of cigars from other websites around the world, order them, and have them delivered to my home. Australia's government thinks we're all so stupid they have to protect us as much as possible from even seeing a picture of a cigar. Instead they're simply encouraging us to spend our money overseas. Which I do. 

And as I sit and think about how ridiculous these overstepping bureaucrats are, I try and spare a thought for those who enjoy something currently illegal. 

I know millionaires who smoke weed. People who own businesses, create jobs, pay copious amounts of tax, care for their families, love Jesus... but if the Police caught them and their pipe, Twitter would be lit up with what idiots they are and how wonderful the cops are for stopping this scourge. 

So why do we have these laws again? Because the government knows better than the people it ostensibly is set up to serve?

Is it really the government's job to stop us from hurting ourselves?

An Esperance woman was recently mocked far and wide by the Police and the media for complaining to the Police about how hard it had become to get cannabis in her town. To me it seemed she tried her best to explain her pain and how it was the way she relaxed. She was instead mocked, and the Police declared what they were doing was working, and encouraged the public to continue to assist them in dobbing in dealers. 

The Esperance Police said they are "clearly making a difference", despite the woman claiming she is forced to use meth instead. 

You might not care that the government treats weed smokers like criminals.

You might not care that laws now exist that make it nigh impossible for cigar retailers in Australia to compete with online imports. 

You might look down your nose at anyone who takes a substance that you don't as "scum". But the world is not binary; the truth is not black and white.

And when the bureaucrats with nothing better to do and a need to justify their existence come after your particular vice, be it alcohol, cheeseburgers, or Coca Cola, you'll understand how it feels to be told you're a criminal because you like to enjoy life with a substance someone else decides is bad for you. 

Regarding the Safety and Risk of Genetically Modified crops

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Labeling the GMO approach “scientific” betrays a very poor—indeed warped—understanding of probabilistic payoffs and risk management. A lack of observations of explicit harm does not show absence of hidden risks.
— The Precautionary Principle (with Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms)

GM crops have been grown in WA for several years. Proponents for the use of GM crops will tell you they're safe, but there is a loud and growing voice against the use of the crops claiming the safety of the environment and humans is far from assured. 

A paper recently published by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a high profile commentator on risk, and other high profile co-authors, argues that the issue regarding GM crops calls for a thorough understanding of the risk of ruin, and the Precautionary Principle.

The co-authors include a number of well-known researchers such as Raphael Douady at the Institute of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in Paris and Yaneer Bar-Yam at the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge.  

The paper shows why GM crops need to be approached using the Precautionary Principle. 

Here's a quote from one of the paper's authors Nassim Nicolas Taleb,: "GMOs have a peculiar illustrative role because they multiply, have systemic not just idiosyncratic risks, and opacity about the interactions is compounded under the curse of dimensionality."

The argument regarding the use of GM's is not regarding what we know, but what we don't know, and what the potential for harm is. 

The paper is called "The Precautionary Principle (with Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms)."

From the first paragraph:

"The precautionary principle (PP) states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing severe harm to the public domain (affecting general health or the environment globally), the action should not be taken in the absence of scientific near-certainty about its safety. Under these conditions, the burden of proof about absence of harm falls on those proposing an action, not those opposing it. PP is intended to deal with uncertainty and risk in cases where the absence of evidence and the incompleteness of scientific knowledge carries profound implications and in the presence of risks of "black swans", unforeseen and unforeseeable events of extreme consequence."

PP is a widely understood approach for those familiar with risk analysis. Your insurance company probably has that special "no floods" cover because they know that if there's a widespread flood, they go bankrupt if everyone is covered. They understand they cannot afford the risk of ruin. 

But politicians don't necessarily understand PP, and how it compares to regular risk management. This is the reason for the paper. 

Essentially, the paper argues that the burden of proof regarding the safety of GMOs falls on the proponents to demonstrate their safety, not others to demonstrate their danger; and also that the potential side effects of GMO's is systemic rather than localised, meaning we really can't predict the possible harm GM crops could cause. 

While the paper is very heavy on mathematics, it's well worth a read whatever side of the GM debate you find yourself on. Click here to read. 

Risk of ruin

Those who are pro GM often accuse those who oppose it as being against progress. They say, rightly, that everything involves some degree of risk, and while GM involves a level of risk, the reward is greater than the potential risk. 

That logic seems fine at first. 

There's a risk in driving to the shops. You might die in a car accident. But that's a small possibility, and you will have food if you go. So it's worth the risk. 

But GMO's fall under a special type of risk; that is the risk of RUIN. 

Society can recover from a car accident. Your death will not stop our society from functioning. By definition, society cannot recover from ruin. 

Why do GMO's pose the risk of ruin?

There's several points argued in the paper that demonstrate why GMOs should be treated under the PP as they pose the risk of ruin. Here's one:

"Ecologically, in addition to intentional cultivation, GMOs have the propensity to spread uncontrollably, and thus their risks cannot be localized. The cross-breeding of wild-type plants with genetically modified ones prevents their disentangling, leading to irreversible system-wide effects with unknown downsides. The ecological implications of releasing modified organisms into the wild are not tested empirically before release."


Aren't GMO's natural?

"One argument in favor of GMOs is that they are no more "unnatural" than the selective farming our ancestors have been doing for generations. In fact, the ideas developed in this paper show that this is not the case. Selective breeding over human history is a process in which change still happens in a bottom-up way, and can be expected to result in a thin-tailed distribution. If there is a mistake, some harmful variation, it will not spread throughout the whole system but end up dying out due to local experience over time. Human experience over generations has chosen the biological organisms that are relatively safe for consumption. There are many that are not, including parts of and varieties of the crops we do cultivate [12]. Introducing rapid changes in organisms is inconsistent with this process. There is a limited rate at which variations can be introduced and selection will be effective [13]. There is no comparison between tinkering with the selective breeding of genetic components of organisms that have previously undergone extensive histories of selection and the top-down engineering of taking a gene from a fish and putting it into a tomato. Saying that such a product is natural misses the process of natural selection by which things become “natural." While there are claims that all organisms include transgenic materials, those genetic transfers that are currently present were subject to selection over long times and survived. The success rate is tiny. Unlike GMOs, in nature there is no immediate replication of mutated organisms to become a large fraction of the organisms of a species. Indeed, any one genetic variation is unlikely to become part of the long term genetic pool of the population. Instead, just like any other genetic variation or mutation, transgenic transfers are subject to competition and selection over many generations before becoming a significant part of the population. A new genetic transfer engineered today is not the same as one that has survived this process of selection."


So the argument for why we should hold off on using GM crops is not so much to do with proof of danger as it is largely to do with the fact that we cannot know all the risks involved at this point in time, and rolling the dice with our entire ecosystem is downright foolish.