Inside the System

Sexism endemic in NSW Police force

The ABC’s Background Briefing has revealed the endemic sexism that pervades the NSW police force. The NSW Police introduced a raft of new guidelines after a 2007 public inquiry into sex discrimination and harassment in the NSW Police Force. The inquiry found that one in four people who made complaints were victimised. Another state parliamentary inquiry is now investigating workplace culture there for a second time.

Background Briefing interviewed half a dozen current and former NSW police officers who plan to sue the NSW Police for damages in relation to sexual harassment and sex discrimination at work. One female police detective said she suffered years of abuse and recounted the appalling sexism of superiors, after the 2007 guidelines were supposedly implemented. In one case a supervisor noticed she had dyed her hair and asked a nearby group of men, “What do you reckon fellas, would you give it a go?” She described the office as like a “zoo” and said, “They talk about victims like that. A sexual assault victim would come in and that particular [superintendent] was like, ‘That slut’s down there, go get a statement off her’.”

Ninety per cent of incarcerated youths have a brain disorder

Researchers have found that 90 per cent of youth in WA’s juvenile detention system have a brain disorder.

The Telethon Kids Institute conducted a study of 99 kids aged 10-17 in the Banksia Hill Detention Centre in WA.

They found 89 per cent had at least one area of severe neurodevelopmental impairment. These ranged from issues with attention and memory to motor skills and cognition. Most had not been diagnosed despite repeated contact with government agencies.

More than one-third, 36 of the 99 youth, suffered from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which is caused by a child’s exposure to alcohol in the womb. Researcher Dr Raewyn Mutch said that earlier diagnoses could have meant the young people had access to, “community care with targeted health and educational interventions and rehabilitation,” instead of facing prison.

One in five big companies not paying tax

One in five of Australia’s biggest companies have paid zero tax for at least the past three years, according to ABC analysis of Tax Office data. The list of freeloaders includes some of the loudest advocates of Turnbull’s plan to cut corporate tax from 30 to 25 per cent. Qantas, whose CEO Alan Joyce has been a vocal supporter of the tax cuts, hasn’t paid tax in ten years despite generating $106.4 billion in income.

The law allows companies to use losses in past years, as well as the cost of investments and asset write-downs to reduce their tax bill.

Energy Australia, another champion for tax cuts, hasn’t paid tax in a decade. Yet in the three years to June 2016 the company recorded $24 billion worth of income.

Likewise, Malcolm Turnbull’s former employer investment bank Goldman Sachs generated revenue of $1.84 billion over three years and has paid zero tax.

Amazon patents wristband to track worker movements

Online shopping giant Amazon has won two patents for a tracking wristband that could monitor every move of the company’s workers.

According to the patent the technology, “would emit ultrasonic sound pulses and radio transmissions to track where an employee’s hands were”. The wristband would be able to notify a worker’s supervisor every time they slacked off, went to the bathroom, scratched themselves or fidgeted. The device would also be equipped to vibrate in order to tell workers they are doing something wrong.

Amazon is notorious for abusing staff in order to maximise productivity. In 2011 there was a scandal when Amazon forced workers in an Eastern Pennsylvania warehouse to work in 38 degree heat with ambulances waiting outside to take away labourers as they collapsed from heat exhaustion. Amazon’s brutal exploitation of its workers is championed by its founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos who has a net worth of around $145 billion. Bezos says, “This is a company that strives to do really big, innovative, groundbreaking things…”

Mistake to make marriage equality a small target

Rodney Croome, a founder of Australian Marriage Equality (AME), has written a damning insider’s criticism of the “small target” strategy to achieve equal marriage.

AME was the largest equal marriage campaign group up to and during the 2017 postal survey. Croome resigned in August 2016 so he could oppose the proposed plebiscite on Equal Marriage. He describes campaign managers being brought into the Equality campaign whose, “concern was that anything but the simplest, blandest message about marriage equality could disengage or push away the soft Yes supporters”.

This meant staying quiet about Safe Schools and transgender oppression. Croome, in his time as a key AME spokesperson, describes how he, “was summarily told not to speak about Safe Schools, even though I had helped develop a version in Tasmania that had strong bi-partisan support and was relatively immune to attack.”

He recounts: “I was also told not to address transgender equality, even though my experience had shown me that one of the most compelling arguments for marriage equality were the life stories of transgender people.”

Croome argues that this attempt to duck the homophobic arguments of the No campaign meant they went dangerously unanswered:
“Before the postal survey was called, the ABC’s Vote Compass showed about 50% support for marriage equality in electorates across Western Sydney. This dropped by as much as 30% in some of these electorates in subsequent weeks.

“The only explanation for this was that soft Yes supporters were persuaded by the No campaign’s talking points.”


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