Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison doesn't have to suffer the effects of prolonged exposure to bushfire smoke. How good is that?



Kirribilli House, Sydney, situated on Kirribilli Point with an uninterrupted view eastwards across Sydney Harbour is an official residence of the Prime Minister of Australia.

Prime Minister & MP for Cook Scott Morrison moved into this large, harbour-side residence in September 2018.

I believe there is air conditioning in rooms on the bedroom floor, but not in the well-ventilated rooms on the ground floor.

By June 2019 it appears that Scotty From Marketing had his rent-free residence set up just the way he liked it, courtesy of the taxpayer dollar.

The Daily Telegraph, 9 February 2020:

Taxpayers also coughed up more than $3000 during the 2018-19 summer for four Dyson fans but can be reassured they came with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, ensuring the Morrisons weren’t bothered by harmful bushfire smoke particles.

Apparently such an air filter which retails at $799 per unit will automatically purify a whole room.

  • Automatically detects and reports air quality levels in real time on PM2.5, PM10, VOC and NO2
  • Activated carbon filters remove gases. Sealed HEPA filters capture 99.95% of ultrafine particles such as allergens and pollutants
  • ...delivers over 290 litres per second of smooth, yet powerful airflow – circulating purified air throughout the whole room
  • Automatically senses, captures and projects – then reports to your Dyson Link app
  • Adjustable oscillation angle from 45° to 350°, to help project purified air around the whole room
  • Purifies all year round. Cools you in summer
  • Purifies without the draught
  • Night-time mode Monitors and purifies using its quiet settings, with a dimmed display
  • Remote control
Seems Morrison had his primary residence well kitted out for the predicted 2019 severe fire season months before the bushfires actually struck.

The fire season commenced for me on 17 August 2019 but didn’t start to really kick off in a big way until around four weeks later, when I was living under this thick bushfire smoke below for weeks on end….

The Daily Examiner


Unlike Scott Morrison, I live in a small rented unit with no air conditioning and on an income so low that I can only dream of owning even one Dyson air purifier.

So when the hot, thick smoke from the bushfires seeped through the edges of my home’s window and door frames, when I could not clear this smoke as opening any window or door just let in more smoke, when my eyes began to sting, my throat hurt, my head ache, my already compromised respiratory system struggled and the pain in my tight chest became so bad that I thought I might be having a heart attack – I had no way of pressing a remote control button to relieve my distress with a Dyson.

Bushfire smoke blew over me to varying degrees for four months, reducing any remaining sense of wellbeing and restricting my ability to move outside the confines of my home, while Prime Minister Morrison called for patience and calm and his deputy prime minister told the media; "Yes, the smoke is a problem but smoke, as it always does, will blow away."

The smoke did eventually go away, but my ability to breathe easily most of the time has not returned in its absence and I fear it never will.

But that’s OK – after all Scott Morrison can play backyard cricket on Kirribilli House lawns, sip wine of an evening on the verandahs or stroll outside to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks – safe in the knowledge that he can return to the air conditioning and the four air purifiers I helped pay for.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Regulation, policy oversight and funding of aged care services are predominantly the role of the Australian Government - under three successive Coalition governments needs are not being met


Regulation and policy oversight of aged care services are predominantly the role of the Australian Government. It funds residential aged care, home care and home support, with state, territory and local governments also funding and/or delivering some of these services directly. However, most services are delivered by non-government providers such as private-for-profit, religious and charitable organisations.

Government subsidises a significant portion of the cost of providing aged care, but clients and residents are expected to contribute where they can and may be charged fees and payments by service providers.

In 2018-19 there were est. 3.9 million people 65 years of age or older in the Australian population.

Of these older people:

236, 213 were in permanent residential care;
64,117 had received respite care;
24,137 had received transition care or short-term restorative care;
1,072 national ATSI flexible age care program places were operational;
826,335 were receiving home support; and
131,534 were receiving home care packages. 
[Productivity Commission, REPORT ON GOVERNMENT SERVICES 2020]

That is est. 1.2 million older Australians who are receiving some form of government funded care.

Government recurrent expenditure on aged care services was $20.1 billion in the 2018-19 financial year or $4,874 per older person, with the federal government providing 98.2 per cent of the funding.

That low annual level of expenditure per person may be one of the reasons for this…..

The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January 2020:

The time it takes for older Australians to enter a nursing home after being assessed as needing residential care has blown out almost 50 per cent in two years, while waiting times for the highest level of home care package are 34 months.

The Productivity Commission reports that the median "elapsed time" between getting approval from an aged care assessment team (ACAT) and going to a nursing home was 152 days in 2018-19. This is up from 121 days in 2017-18 and 105 days in 2016-17.

In New South Wales, the median wait time was 143 days in 2018-19 and 124 days in Victoria. Across Australia, almost 42 per cent of older people entered a nursing home within three months of getting ACAT approval. Almost 60 per cent of people entered a nursing home within nine months.

The Productivity Commission explained the waiting time was influenced by the availability of places as well as an older person's "preference to stay at home for as long as possible". The commission noted people may choose to try to access formal help at home or more family help, instead of taking up a nursing home place.

It said there may also be delays if people sold their family home before going into residential care.

The Productivity Commission's annual report on government services follows the aged care royal commission's recent scathing assessment of the sector. In its interim report, the royal commission slammed the aged care system as "sad and shocking", "diminish[ing] Australia as a nation". It also comes amid pleas from the aged care sector for $1.3 billion in urgent financial assistance to keep nursing homes open around the country.

The Productivity Commission's report, released today, said the median time between ACAT approval and the offer of a home care package ranged from seven months for a level one package, to 34 months for a level four (highest needs) package in 2018-19.

The commission said there was no comparable data on home care package "elapsed times" for previous years, due to a change to the approval process in 2017. Federal government data released before Christmas showed more than 112,000 people were waiting for home care. The royal commission singled out the home care wait list for urgent attention last October, noting "many people die waiting".

According to the Productivity Commission, in 2018, 84.4 per cent of those who received a formal aged care service in the home over the previous six months said they were satisfied with the quality of help they received. This was down from 89.2 per cent in 2015.

The report also found that 34 per cent of people over 65 who live at home and were classified as "in need of assistance" said their needs were not "fully met"…..

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Chromium-6: bushfire temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees can endanger human health long after the flames have gone out


"Fire-induced oxidation of Fe oxide-bound Cr(III) may represent a largely unexplored, yet globally-significant pathway for the natural formation of hazardous Cr(VI) in soil." [Burton E.D. el al, April 2019]

Echo NetDaily, 15 January 2020:

Scientists from Southern Cross University have made a startling discovery about the lethal threat of soils scorched by bushfires. 

The team, led by Professor Ed Burton, has found the naturally occurring metal chromium 3 can be converted by extreme bushfire heat into the highly toxic and cancerous chromium 6. 

Professor Ed Burton of Southern Cross Geoscience is looking at the levels of a toxic element in bushfire affected soil. 

Chromium 6 is the substance spotlighted by renowned American environmentalist Erin Brockovich, who blew the whistle on high concentrations in the water supply of her home town in southern California.

Professor Burton’s breakthrough research has confirmed bushfire temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees can endanger human health long after the flames have gone out. 

‘We’ve seen bushfires create conditions in the surface soil that transform the safe, naturally occurring chromium-3 into the toxic, cancer-causing chromium-6,’ Professor Burton said. 

‘Chromium-6 can cause lung cancer and leach into waterways.’ 

Professor Burton, an expert on the geochemistry and mineralogy of soils, sediments and groundwater systems, said frontline firefighters were immediately at risk but the contamination of water within catchment areas posed a wider threat. 

‘We know that firefighters have higher incidences of chromium in their urine and are more susceptible to cancer than other groups....

See the following peer-reviewed articles concerning the carcinogen Chromium-6:

Burton, E.D., Choppala, G., Karimian, N., Johnston, S.G. (2019) A new pathway for hexavalent chromium formation in soil: Fire-induced alterations of iron oxides. Environmental Pollution 247, 618-625; and 

Burton, E.D., Choppala, G., Vithana, C., Hockmann, K., Johnston, S.G. (2019) Chromium(VI) formation via heating of Cr(III)-Fe(III)-(oxy)hydroxides: A pathway for fire-induced soil pollution. Chemosphere 222, 440-444.

It should be noted that wildfires can also affect and possibly increase the mobility of other minerals naturally found in the soil. 

Initial research suggests that an example of this may be the carcinogen, arsenicAdditionally, past research suggests the potential of higher mercury content in freshwater fish after wildfire events.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Do you know exactly who Medicare, your GP, specialist doctor or local area health service are sharing your personal medical information with?


Electronic Frontiers Australia, media release, 26 August 2019: 

Australia, Melbourne — Monday 26 August 2019 — EFA, Future Wise, Digital Rights Watch and APF today call again for a comprehensive review of privacy provisions for healthcare data. 

 Following the HealthEngine scandal in 2018, and the recent use of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data to assist recruitment into research on Bipolar disorder, a Twitter user on Friday 23 August shared a SMS message attempting to recruit him into a clinical trial. 

This appears to have occurred through the use of Precedence Healthcare’s InCa (Integrated Care) health platform. Research by members of digital rights organisations today revealed that sensitive patient details—including contact details, demographics and complete medical histories—can be shared with a wide range of partners, including, it appears, private health insurers. 

Dr Trent Yarwood, health spokesperson for Future Wise and a medical specialist, said “Secondary uses like this are a very ethically murky area. People don’t generally expect to have personal details from their healthcare providers made available to anyone, even if well intentioned.” 

The terms and conditions of the application include access to data from myHealthRecord. “While the My Health Records Act includes privacy provisions, once this data is accessed by an external system, these provisions no longer apply,” continued Dr Yarwood. “I’m very concerned that practices making use of this system are not aware of just how widely this data can be shared—and that they are expected to fully inform patients of the nature of the data use,” he concluded. 

“This kind of barely-controlled data sharing is only possible because of how little privacy protection is provided by the current legislation,” said Justin Warren, Electronic Frontiers Australia board member. 

“People have made it clear time and time again that information about their health is extremely personal, private, and they expect it to be kept secure, not shared with all and sundry,” he said. “What people think is happening is quite different to what actually is, and these companies are risking catastrophic damage to patient trust with their lust for data.” 

“If you found out your doctor was sharing your full medical history with private health insurers, or the police, would you keep seeing them?” he added. 

Robust privacy protections are needed for all Australians, such as by finally giving us the right to sue for breach of privacy, requiring explicit consent for each disclosure of medical or health data to a third party, and proper auditing of record-access that is visible to the patient. It is imperative that the risks of health data sharing receive greater attention. [my yellow highlighting]

Australian Health Information Technology, 25 August 2019: 

This Seems To Be A System Of Sharing Personal Health Information That Is Rather Out Of Control. 

I noticed this last week: How does Inca collect and share health information? 

Updated 1 month ago 

Precedence Health Care’s Integrated Care Platform (Inca) is a cloud- based network of digital health and wellness services, including MediTracker mobile application services. 

It is important that all users of Inca services understand how the network collects and shares health information (“personal information”) and are aware of their responsibilities for gaining informed consent from patients. 

To the extent applicable (if at all), the Health Privacy Principles (or equivalent), which operate in some jurisdictions, should guide your actions. In the absence of applicable Health Privacy Principles, you should refer to relevant Commonwealth, State or Territory privacy legislation, and assistance can also be derived by referring to the website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. You should make sure you are familiar with the applicable principles or other relevant guidance, and also with Precedence Health Care’s Privacy Policy. 

Inca collects and shares personal information about patients and other persons under care (also called “consumers”) who consent to this information being stored and shared in the network. This information may come from a variety of sources, including the clinical software systems used by GPs (e.g., Medical Director, Best Practice); other members of the patient’s care team (e.g., allied health professionals, medical specialists); the patient themselves; participating health services and pathology services; and the Commonwealth’s My Health Record. 

Inca uses this information to provide a range of health care and wellness services to the patient and their care team. 

Prior to contributing a patient’s personal information to be stored in or used by Inca, users must obtain informed consent from patients for the collection and sharing of this information. Ensuring that patients are informed about what will happen with the information that is being shared is a fundamental component of best practice in privacy, so it is important that all Inca users and patients know what information is available on Inca and who has access to that information. 

When a patient’s GP or other person authorised by the GP uses Inca to collect personal information from their general practice clinical system, Inca will extract and share the following information: 

· Patient demographics 
· Alcohol consumption and smoking status 
· Allergies and adverse reactions 
· Family and social history 
· Observations and results 
· Current medications 
· Immunisation history 
· Current and past problems 

If the patient or the GP does not wish to share some of this information, the GP’s clinical system should provide a means for declaring such data “confidential” and thereby preventing it being sent to Inca. 

GPs who do not know how to do this should contact the provider of their clinical software. Inca may also collect and share information obtained from other sources. 

These include: 

· Information that the GP or any member of the care team or the patient themselves adds to the patient record or to any notes concerning the patient’s care using Inca services, web sites or mobile devices. This information may include contact information, measurements, care plans, assessments, referrals, progress notes, appointments, and other related personal and health information. 

· Information from participating Health Services, including discharge summaries and emergency department attendance. 

· Information obtained from My Health Record. This information may include some or all of the data stored in the patient’s My Health Record. 

It is the responsibility of the provider of information stored in or used by Inca, or the person who grants access to such information, to inform the patient of the type of personal information that is so provided or made accessible. 

Inca will provide access to a patient’s personal information with the patient’s GP and care team, the patient (or their carer as authorised by the patient), participating Health Services, and some others as necessary to provide the services of Inca. Precedence Health Care may share de-identified data (that is, data from which it is impossible to ascertain who you are) to persons or organisations who are engaged in research, trials and analyses relating to improvements in health and the management of health services. The way Inca shares and protects this information is described in the Precedence Health Care Privacy Policy. 

It is important that patients understand what information is being shared, who it is being shared with, and for what purpose. It is the responsibility of the persons providing this information to ensure that each patient is aware that their personal and health information is being stored on a computer system hosted on a secure site in Australia, as described in the Precedence Health Care Privacy Policy. 

It is also important for all users of Inca to be aware that this information may not be complete, up to date, or accurate. 

In seeking informed consent to participate, patients should be advised that any measurements or notes that they enter into Inca are not continuously monitored and will be available to members of the patient’s care team only when the provider next logs in to Inca. 

Patients who are concerned about any condition should contact their GP or other health care provider using their normal means (e.g., phone) and should not use Inca for this purpose. 

Please contact Precedence Health Care’s Privacy Officer on (03) 9023 0800 or email privacy@precedencehealthcare.com if you have any questions or concerns about our Privacy Policy, or if you wish to suggest improvements. You may also contact your State’s Privacy Commissioner or Ombudsman to get advice about privacy or make a complaint. 

Here is the link: https://phc.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360021090952-How-does-cdmNet-collect-and-share-health-information- 

For background Precedence Health run a shared patient data base which is accessible to GPs, Specialists and Allied Health Staff for the purpose of care planning and co-ordinating care. Using their system allows GPs to claim a Medicare Item No for this service. They also provide patient access to the data and have services such as reminders etc in an app. 

All that said this system, on its own statements, just sucks information from everywhere (GP systems, health services and the myHR) and pops it into one database. One user, who is now switching it off, revoking consent and getting out has described to me a collection of erroneous and mis-sorted data on their record. 

More they seem to be happy to hand out the data to others claiming it is de-identified – and we all know how in-effective that can be! 

The rather loose way consent rules for disclosure appear to be enforced is also a worry. 

They even have the legendary myHR disclaimer that “It is also important for all users of Inca to be aware that this information may not be complete, up to date, or accurate.” Doh! 

You can see the Privacy Policy here if you wish! https://phc.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360021091012-Privacy-Policy- 

Don’t know about you but none of my information would go anywhere near this if I could help it! It looks like a serious unthought through shambles to me. 

What do you think? 

David.  [my yellow highlighting]

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Barnaby Joyce has all the tact and grace of a lumbering hippo (apologies to all hippopotamus amphibius )


Disgraced former Deputy Prime Minister & MP for New England Barnaby Joyce isn't finding many allies in the NSW Northern Rivers region.... 

The Daily Examiner, 21 August 2019, p.3: 

Chris Gulaptis has delivered a clear message to Nationals counterpart Barnaby Joyce over his controversial foray into the NSW abortion debate.

On Monday, Clarence Valley residents received anti-abortion robocalls from Mr Joyce, the Federal member for New England. 

In the pre-recorded message Mr Joyce makes a number of false statements regarding the abortion bill including that it would allow “sex selective abortions” and “abortion for any reason right up until the day of birth”. 

He then urges members of the community to contact their local member to voice their opposition to the bill. 

However, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said he was “disappointed” by the actions of his National Party colleague. 

“We certainly don’t interfere with federal matters and I encourage him not to interfere with NSW state parliamentary matters.” 

Mr Gulaptis re-iterated his support for the private members bill which would remove abortion from the state’s Crimes Act, which he voted for as it went through the lower house last week 59-31, after a marathon debate. 

Mr Gulaptis voted for some of the amendments to the bill and was “interested to see what amendments come down from the Upper House” but was as “happy as I can be” with it. 

“The intent of the bill is to remove abortion from the criminal code and put it into health where it should be,” he said. 

“Our primary concern is to support women who have to make these decisions which will be with them for the rest of their lives.”

And Barnaby is rather upset......


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Federal Government still hasn't made personal health data secure


Since about 2014 it has been known that the personal details of Medicare cardholders has been for sale on the dark web.

Despite an April 2014 report by the Australian National Audit Office that the Consumer Directory - which contains all Medicare customer records - was not secure and that cardholder details were for sale, the federal Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government does not appear to have comprehensively acted act on the issue of database security.

It was not unknown that Medicare cardholder details were being used fraudulently.


When contacted by the mainstream media in July 2017 the Liberal MP for Aston and then Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge denied any prior knowledge of cardholder details being offered for sale.

It was not reported that at the time if he was asked about instances of Medicare cardholder details being used to commit fraud or identity theft.

In August 2017 eHealth Privacy Australia was telling the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee that:

• There are fundamental weaknesses in both the HPOS (Medicare card data) and My Health Records systems, which make them vulnerable to illegal access.

• Those weaknesses mean that fraudulent users of the systems can assume the identity of legitimate users to gain illegal access.

• It is not sufficient to mitigate these weaknesses in the My Health Records system.

By 1 January 2019 IT News was reporting that Medicare cardholder details fraudulently obtained had been used to access an individual’s My Health Record:

The number of data breaches involving the My Health Record system rose from 35 to 42 in the past financial year, new figures show.

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) said in its annual report [pdf] that “42 data breaches (in 28 notifications) were reported to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner” in 2017-18.

As with previous years, the agency said that “no purposeful or malicious attacks compromising the integrity or security of the My Health Record system” were reported in the period.

Of the 42 breaches, one was the result of “unauthorised access to a My Health Record as a result of an incorrect Parental Authorised Representative being assigned to a child”, the agency reported.

A further two breaches were from “suspected fraud against the Medicare program where the incorrect records appearing in the My Health Record of the affected individual were also viewed without authority by the individual undertaking the suspected fraudulent activity”, ADHA said.

In addition, 17 breaches were the result of “data integrity activity initiated by the Department of Human Services to identify intertwined Medicare records (that is, where a single Medicare record has been used interchangeably between two or more individuals)”, the agency said. [my yellow highlighting]

Despite this knowledge the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has still not grasped the nettle, because on 16 May 2019 The Guardian reported:

Australians’ Medicare details are still being illegally offered for sale on the darknet, almost two years after Guardian Australia revealed the serious privacy breach.

Screenshots of the Empire Market, provided to Guardian Australia, show the vendor Medicare Machine has rebranded as Medicare Madness, offering Medicare details for $US21.

Other vendors charge up to $US340 by offering fake Medicare cards alongside other fake forms of identification – such as a New South Wales licence.

The Medicare Madness listing suggests the Medicare details “of any living Australian citizen” have been available since September 2018.

Guardian Australia first reported patient details were on sale in July 2017, verifying the listing by requesting the data of a Guardian staff member and warning that Medicare card numbers could be used for identity theft and fraud.


The report did not identify the source of the Medicare data leak but suggested that people could use publicly available information about healthcare providers – including their provider number and practice location – to pass security checks and obtain a Medicare card number through the Department of Human Services provider hotline.

The review panel warned the “current security check for release of Medicare card information provides a much lower level of confidence than the security requirements” for Health Professional Online Services, the portal that allows providers to make rebate claims.

An IT industry source, who refused to be named, said the re-emergence of the data breach brings into question government assurances around the privacy of medical data “when those responsible cannot even manage the security of Medicare cards”.

The source said there is a “concerted effort at the moment by law enforcement to curtail darknet market activity”.

“In reality the darknet markets, while disrupted momentarily when their sites are brought down, easily relocate and continue business.”

Darknet markets can simply private message existing clients with a new link to resume business elsewhere. [my yellow highlighting]

Thus far the federal government has failed to recognise where Medicare cardholder details may be being accessed unlawfully, as this 2 August 2018 ABC online article indicates:

Privacy experts have warned that the system opens up health records to more people than ever before, thereby increasing the threat surface — the number of vulnerabilities in a system — dramatically.

Dr Bernard Robertson Dunn, who chairs the health committee at the foundation, says once the data is downloaded into the health system, the My Health record system cannot guarantee privacy.

"Once the data has been downloaded to, for instance, a hospital system, the protections of the hospital system apply, and then the audit logs apply to the hospital system — not to My Health record.

"So there is no way the Government would know who has accessed that data, and it is untraceable and untrackable that that access has occurred."

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Dozens of Centrelink clients have had their names published on Facebook by a Commonwealth-funded work-for-the-dole provider



ABC News, 26 April 2019:

Dozens of Centrelink clients have had their names published online in what has been described as a "shocking" abuse of privacy.

A Commonwealth-funded work-for-the-dole provider uploaded lists of people who were required to attend client meetings to a public Facebook page.

"We are at a loss as to why anyone would post about workers' appointments online," union official Lara Watson said.

"We were shocked at the publication of names on a social media platform."

The incidents are the latest to emerge from the Government's flagship remote employment scheme, the Community Development Programme (CDP).

Nearly 50 people from the Northern Territory community of Galiwinku, located 500 kilometres east of Darwin, were affected.

The job service provider, the Arnhem Land Progress Association (ALPA), established the social media page apparently with the intention of uploading such lists.

"Welcome to our Facebook page where we will be posting appointments, courses and CDP information," it wrote last month.

The two sheets of names were posted to the Galiwinku CDP page on March 11 and 12.

Both images were shared to another local Facebook group titled Elcho Island Notice Board, which has more than 2,000 members.

One CDP insider denounced the online uploads, saying they were unprecedented and could have placed job seekers at risk.

"If a person has a family violence order in place to protect them, then perhaps the perpetrator would know where she was," said the source, who requested anonymity.

"It advertised that a person is accessing welfare services, and unfortunately in Australia there's discrimination against people accessing welfare services.

"People can be bullied for being unemployed."

The Galiwinku CDP page appears to have since been removed from the internet but the organisation denied any wrongdoing.

"We do not believe that this is a breach of confidentiality," an ALPA spokeswoman said.....

"All ALPA CDP participants give … media consent when they commence as a participant."......