Kevin Conway at Australian Fabians

Kevin Conway

  • commented on Ending Homelessness in a Crisis? 2020-07-31 11:26:08 +1000
    I totally agree that we need to take advantage of this crisis to address homelessness.

    I remember taking part in a seminar in Brisbane in the late 80’s where a significant survey of homeless people was held. The highest percentage were people with mental illness. the next were indigenous people who had traveled from across the State for specialist health care or family members supporting those here for health care and who had used up their money on travel and could not afford accommodation. The next group were victims of domestic violence and the final group were those who simply did not have the financial resources to afford bonds and rent in advance.

    We came up with a variety of solutions including a gov’t run bond loan facillity; providing accommodation close to specialist services and ensuring in house, visiting or nearby social worker, mental health and financial counseling services. However, a change of Government killed off many of these ideas before they were born.

    One thing that I would comment is that there are a small percentage of people who prefer the homeless life. Having worked in mental health for a while, I did come across a small group whom we placed and supported but who determined to return to the streets. Remember too that these people come from all backgrounds and we should not stigmatise them. Two especially that stick in my mind were a Professor from Queensland’s major university and a gentleman whose wife still ran his million dollar company.

  • answered 2020-04-15 17:47:31 +1000
    Q: Please complete here others parts to earlier questions and expand on your views about Privatisation, COVID-19, the State.
    A: Consideration should be given to re-nationalisation of public infrastructure like Airports, Airlines, Roads, Ports, Public Transport business. Tiger Airways won’t restart, Rex( the main regional airline will probably go and Virgin is talking with liquidators. Time for ANA to restart.

    Community Services are not run more cheaply by for profit providers. The cost to public users is often higher while the quality, service hours, regional and remote access and qualified staff numbers are reduced. Also 457 visa staff and non-unionised labor are often sought after.

    Privatisation, the State and COVID-19

    The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed public debates about sovereignty and the effect of decades of privatisation. As this is one of the classic areas of the progressive left, the patron, Eva Cox as well as Phil O'Donoghue and Kevin Conway, members of the National Board, suggest we take up this broad issue as a Fabians’ national project over this year. Privatisation affects both federal and state issues. The current debates may signal a shift in political interest from the failing market-based dominance of policy making to more interest in the social contract. We decided to start with a survey of members and supporters to gauge your views and inform the project. There is space at the end for comments and extra ideas, which are very much welcomed.

    Take the survey

  • answered 2020-03-04 15:11:07 +1100
    Q: What theme would you most like to see an edition of the new Quarterly Review focus on?
    A: Equality

    Fabians Quarterly Review - Themes Survey

    With the crises of the current political and economic order deepening every day, Fabians know that new ideas are as important as ever. That’s why we’ve decided to begin publishing a quarterly print and online magazine, dedicated to envisioning a better future and how to get there.

    Each edition is going to have a theme, with a portion of the magazine’s content set aside for exploring it in depth. To help us decide what themes we should work with for the first four editions, we want to hear from our members.

    You’ll see ten options below. We’ve deliberately kept them fairly broad to allow our writers plenty of scope for interpretation. We invite you to help us out by choosing the one you would most like to see the new magazine focus on in its first year.

    And if you're interested in writing on these topics or anything else, please don’t hesitate to pitch an idea to [email protected]

    Take the survey

  • tagged TECHNOLOGY HUBS IN INDIGENOUS, RURAL AND REMOTE COMMUNITIES with ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 2020-03-27 16:33:20 +1100


    This policy proposal is to develop technology hubs in in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities as well as rural and remote communities. These hubs would provide telehealth; tele-allied health; telepsychiatry/psychology; tele-TAFE courses; tele-business training and tele-education. It would also assist in saving dying Indigenous languages and cultural practices. I was involved in a telehealth trial. A specialist from a city hospital would spend two days a week travelling to two regional hospitals. Almost one day of that was spent in travel. At the start of the trial he had almost a three-year waiting list at those hospitals. The trial involved a three-screen system for the specialist and trained registrars and a remote screen with camera at the two hospitals which was at the patient’s bedside. The specialist’s screens had (a)patient records , (b) the view of the patient and for the patient of the specialist via camera and (c) electronic monitoring/scans on the third. This system, by removing travel, cut the waiting list was brought down from3 years to zero in 6 months. With the development of Digi-hospital and more powerful computing this could be adapted to Indigenous health Clinics/community centres and small rural hospitals. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ (WHO, 1948). This is consistent with the biopsychosocial model of health, which considers physiological, psychological and social factors in health and illness, and interactions between these factors. Thus, for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community health would include: cultural health; linkage to land; mental health; safety and security; income; housing; education; good diet; sewerage/sealed septic and access to potable water. In Canada, they have developed a number of options to deliver health services to the Inuit and similar peoples as well as the first Nations peoples. This includes training lay people or nurses aides in small communities in basic skills like tele-physiotherapy and tele occupational therapy as well as the skills to assess homes and identify what aids are required. The physiotherapist obtains the health records and views the ability of the person to undertake certain skills tests and then identifies a list of exercises and reviews the ability of the person on a regular basis. Meanwhile the lay person supervises the exercises and ensures the patient is completing them properly. A similar process is used for occupational therapy. In many remote Aboriginal communities, the cost of constructing a house is in excess of $1 mil for a basic home. This is due to the fact that roads to these communities are only open for 3 to 4 months for the heavy trucks that carry the building materials and concrete. In addition, white tradesmen are sent to the community and paid remote allowances as well as provided with an expected level of accommodation. Housing in communities may accommodate 15 to 17 people in a three-bedroom home and this impacts on the community. In addition, maintenance is not carried out on houses due to a lack of tradespeople. The telehub could resolve this. TAFE courses online could train community members in carpentry; plumbing; concreting and electrical works. This could all be carried out through the hub in the community. Training projects could be printed out in the TAFE on 3-D printers. To ensure that work is being done correctly. Canada also uses a remote timber milling computer program to cut timber into assemble able housing frames. The timber could be ethically sourced from the local community. This would cut the cost of housing in these communities by a third and boosting the stock of available housing significantly. It would also provide for construction of safe shelters and maintenance of existing structures. One of the major issues in relation to psychiatric illness and substance abuse in communities is the lack of employment and feelings of self-worth. By exploding employment opportunities in this fashion; decreasing overcrowding in housing and improving drainage and sanitation, the impact on physical and mental well-being would be substantial. Another element in Aboriginal communities is the loss of language and culture. In the Northern Territory, Richard Trudgen, from Why Warriors has spent a lifetime gathering what would otherwise be now extinct languages. Some languages are limited to not just peoples or even clans but sometimes even to family groups. Many community people of the last two generations have lost much of their culture because of The Stolen Generation; because with a lack of culture significant numbers took prison sentences as an ‘initiation process and because there is a growing generation of FASD(Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) youth who have drifted away from community/cultural expectations. While elders are still with us, now is the time to capture the languages and cultural traditions and hold it in storage to educate community youth. Tele-psychiatry/psychology is a powerful tool for both Indigenous and Rural and Remote Communities. The highest three categories of suicide in Australia are Indigenous Peoples; Veterans; and Farmers/Farm workers. The hub could provide a centre in GP clinics; small rural hospitals; Community Health clinics where private soundproofed rooms could be made available. This could allow for private consultations and consultations with GP or authorised health worker to put in place a mental health plan. The GP or a tele-pharmacy could provide medication and script renewal to assist in the mental health plan. The plan could also allow for family members to identify indicators and organise more regular sessions. One of the biggest problems in rural communities is the dependence on the weather. Floods or droughts not only affect the farmers but also the small businesses in the towns that depend on the farmers incomes. Many small to medium businesses carry Farmers “on tick’ hoping for a good season to settle their books. Farmers overcapitalise in equipment or expansion, taking on too high a debt burden to meet during poor seasons, while the town businesses do not have the underpinning capital to maintain their businesses. A while back, an understanding local banker would allow for these factors, but in this age of centralised profit driven banks, this is not an option and there are many empty businesses following the long drought. A tele-hub could train those businesses and farmers in basic accounting law and practice; ASIC and other regulatory requirements; occupational health and safety requirements; as well as Government loans and grants to assist in maintaining their community. This is but a small overview of the opportunities for a tele-hub. State Government investment of about $20 mil over four years would make a huge difference. In many communities existing empty buildings could be adapted for a small cost leaving equipment as the major cost.

  • commented on Public transport changes the welfare of people 2020-02-24 11:07:04 +1100
    This is a great idea in that lower income people are often forced to the outer regions to afford accommodation and are then penalised by higher fares. We need to improve services such as duplicating the Sunshine Coast rail link and reintroducin the rail link to Portside at Hamilton as we have hiigh density suburbs with no service. Portside could have been done cheaply as the rail link existed until the Kingsford Smith Drive waste fest.
    Another thing to consider is the high movement of retirees to Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. In a couple of years, many of these people will not be capable of driving and we need to develop affordable public transport now.

  • commented on ‘Through the Looking Glass’ – Imagining the Future of Industrial Relations 2020-02-24 10:56:16 +1100
    I agree that enterprise bargaining has contributed to the decline of unions as members in the same industry see workers in a different company/government department receiving much higher wages simply because of the size/role of that other business.
    However, I wouldbe concerned to provide reduced wages in regions as you take away the incentive to draw workers to that region where there is a lack of those skills.

  • commented on QLD Needs a Green New Deal 2020-02-21 16:00:16 +1100
    The writer raises a number of issues affecting our population. The issue of Green New Deal keeps arising from a number of progressive thinkers around the world and is even being adopted in countries like Germany where transitioning the worker is considered as important as transitioning the economy.

  • commented on Adapting Community Sport for the Modern Age 2020-01-30 16:21:05 +1100
    Just a few thoughts from a former junior registrar of a soccer(football) club. Insurance needs to cover not just the volunteers and participants but also any spectator or person traversing the field. Many fields are council property so open to all passersby. For those of us without Bridget McKenzie grants, we often have to make running repairs of washouts and sinkholes on a regular basis. Dry seasons give us cracks and dips. Also officials come under a seperate organisation which needs to be funded. A colleague who was a referee was off work for two months with three breaks in his leg.
    There also needs to be a central fund for those occasions where vandals attack equipment. One of our members had to fund a couple of goal posts that were bent out of shape whilst we had to put an additional levy on all members when the equipment shed was burnt down.

  • donated 2020-01-31 01:18:30 +1100

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