#bravery

Building the Education Revolution the right way

AWM at night.

Is the $500m upgrade to the Australian War Memorial (AWM) to honour recent conflicts too exorbitant? It is a lot of money. The current building is worth $140mn. The AWM cultural/heritage collection alone is worth over $1.2 billion. Only 4% of it is on display. While some will look at the expense as extreme it is worth considering some facts. Before that let’s not forget the $442mn to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)  allocates $42.7mn of the entire $11bn budget annually to operate the AWM. Donations of $13.8m (+150% year-on-year) were made in 2017, $4.3mn in merchandise, $2mn in interest and $2mn in net GST receipts make up the balance. If one wants to be properly cynical the expansion project is only 1% of the current amount to upgrade our submarine fleet!!

As much as the complaints will flow around wasting money on glorifying war, the stats show that interest in the museum has been rising over time.

1.12 million visited the AWM in the 2017 fiscal year. A total of 844,899 people visited the Memorial in 2007. That is a 33% increase. Time spent on the AWM website totaled 5.61mn up from 4mn in 2007. Anzac Day related searches in the period just past were up 47.7% year over year. Facebook followers hit 100,000, a 27% year on year increase. So much for those who think nobody cares anymore and that there is a drop off in interest in honouring our military history. Clearly not.

Honouring the brave soldiers who have defended our freedom in recent conflicts are no less worthy of being shown respect. Should we scale the funding dependent on the number of deaths. Should we pro-rata the investment based on the 64 killed in action in armed conflicts since Vietnam to the 102,792 prior?

The AWM is already an exceptionally well designed and curated museum. The reality is there is no space to augment the collection without a rebuild.

Canberra got 4.95mn visitors annually in 2017 (+10.6% on 2016) adding $2.26bn to the ACT economy.

Expensive yes, but to ensure the aesthetics are kept tasteful and in the spirit of the 76yo AWM, it is hardly going to be worth erecting a corrugated iron shed with a few ceiling fans. Building underneath the current site will take some pretty serious engineering feats.

And to the Anzac haters whose cheap shots remain too frequent.  Even our own state broadcasters can’t resist the temptation to demean those who served. Anzac Day is treated more and more as one of resentment, not honour and sacrifice.

ABC presenter Jonathan Green protested by saying Anzac Day is “our collective quest for a military history that we can drape around us”.

Scott McIntyre, formerly of the taxpayer funded SBS, tweeted with respect to those commemorating Anzac Day,

Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror all mankind suffered.

He had also tweeted,

Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan.

As well as,

“The cultification of an imperialist invasion of a foreign nation that Australia had no quarrel with is against all ideals of modern society.”

Not to be outdone the left leaning mainstream media journalists stepped into the fray. Geoff Weinstock of Fairfax wrote on his twitter page with respect to the sacking of McIntyre,

“Ridiculous. Frightening. I also think Anzacs were racist yobs and Anzac Day is a death cult. Sack me Fairfax.”

Michael Leunig’s Anzac Day cartoon in The Age, depicted medals with a legend against each: Fear, Hate, Anger, Violence, Homicide.

Guardian columnist Catherine Deveny called Anzac Day a

“Trojan horse for racism, sexism, toxic masculinity, violence, homophobia and discrimination.”

Perhaps these people might reflect on the reality of Lt Norman Martin Peterson’s letter of 7 May 1943 which reflected on Anzac Day

“Perhaps you may think, at times, that I’m a moaner. — but it’s not that the life here (in spite of a few hardships) doesn’t agree with me, but the fact that wharfies, and coal miners, and munition workers go on strike, or want extra pay for working on Anzac Day , while the soldier (for whom Anzac Day is for), puts up everything with a wisecrack and forgets days and dates. I though finely, when we brought in a wounded bloke on Easter Monday, shot like a sieve, while in his homeland his fellow countryman strike for more pay, or holidays. Was his shocking wounds worthwhile in keeping his country safe for racecourse wages, “sportsmen (?)”, strikes, and absentees?—What do you think!!!!”

or just the general conditions these soldiers endured under constant attack by an enemy sworn to kill them. From his despatch of 5th February 1942,

“This bloody war is a terrific mental strain, you can get shot anywhere by snipers, (who never live more than two hours anyway, after they’ve climbed the trees, because our blokes comb the branches with Brens and they dangle like rabbits from their perch). I’ve lost about 2 stone {he was 154lb at the start] since I’ve been in action here, it’s tough, believe me…

“I decided to risk it and make a dash for it, a man every two minutes. Without mock heroics, my knees were knocking as I got to my feet and darted around the 200 yard long bend, expected to get one in the guts any moment. To my sorrow, around the corner we came across poor old George Jenkins, who had been guide, —shot, —our first casualty and we had only been in the place 5 minutes and a sniper had got him. The bullet had plowed through his scalp from ear to ear, and his face was a mess. Poor buggar, all he was worrying about was that he wasn’t able to tell us about the sniper and was we alright. I slapped a shell dressing on his skull, and we carried him back, —lucky buggar, he’ll go home now.”

We spent $16.2bn on Building the Education Revolution. $500m for the “educational” value in a society in desperate need of waking up to how good they have it is quite frankly cheap at twice the price.

The power of last place at Invictus

8D6E39AB-1596-4CB1-AAE1-168311F689BF.jpeg

Here is a picture of Dutch Invictus athlete, Alina Zoet. She was in the Women’s Heavy Weightlifting today. She finished stone cold last. However she got the biggest cheers and dragged out what is so important at Invictus. She had to bench press 50kg.  She failed first go. When she failed the second time she burst into tears as a failure. Distraught wasn’t even close to capturing her emotions. The packed crowd applauded her none-the-less. She was giving her best

Third attempt. Bundle of nerves. Crowd going absolutely bonkers in support.  Then silence as she prepared her last attempt. The bar comes down.  Her left side was letting her down again. The crowd goes completely apeshit as she battled with the bar. Two whites and one red light. Alina has done it! While the Aussie lifters cleared the podium for medals everyone in that hall knew the biggest winner had been the last place. But a personal best and tears of being unconquered. An emotional moment.

We got to congratulate her afterwards and she was overwhelmed with tears of joy. It was powerful.

As a general observation just wandering around the games, the sheer number of prosthetic limbs boggles the mind. Yet those who have them aren’t moaning about all the garbage that clogs our social media feeds on how hard we think we have it. We’ve got it easy.

Deepest respect for those who serve.

First responder assaults – the shocking stats

3FD2A6A9-AD75-4084-945E-BCFD28FB429B.jpeg

We must question the sanity of the world we live in. First responders – police, fire and ambulance – are generally people trying to save the community from danger by putting themselves in harm’s way. Yet the incidence of assaults against them has grown to shocking levels around the world. These are not exhaustive stats (this will come in a more comprehensive piece) but this piece paints a picture of what is going on and why we shouldn’t be surprised at the growing incidences of PTSD suffered by first responders. Something must be done. The next journey for CM is to provide a solution.

By branch:

POLICE

The FBI noted in 2016 that 57,180 (c.10% of all) US police officers were assaulted while performing their duties. 28.9% were injured (enough to enforce time away from work). The largest percentage of victim officers (32.2%) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls (domestic violence, family disputes, pub fights).

Assailants used hands, fists or feet in 78% of the incidents, firearms in 4.2% of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 1.9% of the assaults. Other types of dangerous weapons were used in 16% of assaults. Assaults on police in the US are up 17% in the past two years. 

In NSW, Australia some 2,343 (13.3%) police officers out of 16,500 have been at the receiving end of assault in 2017. That’s 6 per day. With regard to official statistics, the NSW Police Force indicated that over a three year period from 2013 to 2015, an average of 2,236 police officers per year were assaulted during the course of their duties. Around 7% of officers actually end up physically injured. 

 AMBULANCE/EMS

In the US health care professionals experience the highest rate of workplace violence (WPV) compared to all other industries, with the majority of violent injuries committed by their patients according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Studies show EMS responders were three times higher than the national average for all other occupations to suffer WPV. In regards to occupational fatalities, the rate among paramedics is more than twice the national average for all occupations and is comparable to those of police and firefighters at 12.7 per 100,000 workers per year.

The rate of nonfatal injuries among US paramedics was 34.6 per 100 full-time workers per year — a rate more than 5x higher than the national average for all workers.  In regard to fatal injuries, a retrospective cohort study of nationally registered emergency medical technicians (EMTs) in the U.S. found that 8% of fatalities were due to assaults. 

Males have been reported as the most frequent perpetrators of violence however, a separate study found female patients of the mean age of 32.5 years +/- 8.1 years to be the most frequent perpetrators. 

In the NSW Ambulance Service, approximately 51% of assault incidents were attributed to mental illness, 22% to alcohol, 15% to drugs. Similarly, statistics provided by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) concerning violence against Police from July 2006 to June 2016 suggest alcohol is a factor in many incidents.  Assaults on ambos in NSW are up 8-fold since 2001. Median lost hours for those EMS crew assaulted is around 8.6 weeks.

FIRE FIGHTERS

In what world do people shoot fireys? Here are 3 specific incidents in 2016 of attacks on fire fighters in the US. 

April 15, 2016: Firefighter fatally shot, second wounded in Prince George’s, Baltimore, Maryland

Jan. 22, 2016: Ark. firefighter shot, killed on EMS call, Pulaski County, Arkansas,

Jan. 20, 2016: Denver fire chief stabbed near station, Denver, Colorado,

Fire and Rescue NSW indicated its officers do not have the sort of violence prevention training of police and paramedics better able to protect their crew’s health and safety, including in respect of violent incidents. At the Parliamentary Committee’s hearing on 14 November 2016, Fire and Rescue NSW witnesses provided the following evidence:

Basically, when a crew arrives at an incident, you have a station officer and a station commander in charge of the crew and the…truck. That person undergoes promotional programs to get to that position. Part of that is understanding how the legislation is applied in reality from a practical point of view. Also, during that experience – we are talking probably eight to 10 years for that to occur …The promotional programs…cover the responsibilities of the officer and advise around the standard operational guidelines of when to withdraw and ask for police support and what is safe or not safe.

…If we look overseas for experiences and tried to align our experience to that, you would have to say that the civil unrest that is happening in the United States probably would not occur here to that degree. However, there is also an underlying issue in the United States where emergency service is seen as part of an arm of government and there is, hopefully, a small growing trend where emergency service ambushes are occurring…random shooters are calling emergency services to locations to make a point. We hope that never crosses to this country here, but we would always have an eye on what happens in other jurisdictions…because it is quite possible someone would pick that up as a possibility in this jurisdiction….”

PRISON GUARDS

The UK HMPS note that there were 7,159 assaults on staff in the year to March 2017 up 32%YoY. Serious assaults were up 25%YoY to 805 incidents. The National Tactical Response Group (NTRG) which is only called under extreme levels of prisoner violence  surged from 120 in 2010 to an annualized 630 by the end of 2016.  

THE PTSD IMPACT

This was the fascinating part of the research. It isn’t that the job isn’t hard enough already, it’s the lack of resources to support first responders when waiting for incidents. Lots of idle time to ponder.

US FEMA note stress has not only been categorized by exposure to traumatic incidents, but also the monotonous operational characteristics of EMS organizations, such as paperwork, lack of administrative support, low wages, long hours, irregular shifts, and cynical societal attitudes toward public safety officers.

Cumulative stress associated with the monotonous duties or low acuity calls has led to feelings of desensitization for patients, and their job as a whole. Concerns have also been raised regarding sleep quality and fatigue and the impact it has not only on the provider, but also job performance and patient  outcomes. Some research has posited that organizational stress often contributes more to the development of PTSD than traumatic events.

Also noteworthy is the notion that paramedics are often the source for a lot of criticisms by society for the decisions they make in determining life or death situations for patients and themselves. This can affect EMS providers in many ways and may contribute to the slow decline in provider morale.

Burnout (emotional exhaustion) is one of many organizational outcomes that may arise as a result of violence experienced by EMS responders. The question of whether or not violence would eventually lead to burnout was first raised in the early 1990s . Exposures to violence were noted as a reason many EMTs, especially volunteers, left the profession. In an early study from 1998, 7% of survey respondents within one urban fire department considered leaving EMS as a direct result of an abusive situation they encountered while on the job. Knowing how to emotionally cope following a tough incident can help to reduce anxiety and burnout.  

Mixed methods studies conducted in the U.S. and Sweden found that violent encounters altered the patient-provider relationship. Yet, some in the industry feel that exposures to violence do not cause stress or negatively impact providers. This lack of effect has been attributed to the internalization of the mentality that violence is a part of the job.  It has been posited that years of experience may be a protective factor that allows more experienced responders to experience less stress and anxiety after violent events. 

Evidence weighing the social and economic costs associated with increased violence and burnout is based mostly upon anecdotal evidence, with no assessments conducted on monetary value. Some suggest that, as violence increases, the need for police backup also increases, thereby increasing response time and delaying potentially critical care to a patient in need. 

Other concerns include altered operations for the private sector of EMS. Intent to leave the profession is also a concern. As more EMS responders leave the profession, numerous organizational and patient impacts have been hypothesized, including increased costs for training new EMTs and paramedics, greater numbers of inexperienced paramedics serving at any one point in time, and increased error rates committed by new and inexperienced paramedics. EMS responders also report seeking a job change away from their ambulance role. In some cases, responders stated they lost interest in fieldwork and tried to get off the road and into desk positions. 

What’s clear is that not enough is being done to help first responders cope with occupational hazards and handling the stress that comes from it. That is going to change very soon. Stay  posted!

While you’re at it, why not thank those first responders randomly in the street for the great work they do. It goes a long way! They need you just as much as you will need them when you’re in a bind!

69 bushfires in NSW today

EDA8A8EF-A434-4625-8FD0-8E6865819112.jpeg

While a bushfire in Dobroyd Point, Sydney looked terrible it was classified as a scheduled burn-off. Looking at the NSW Rural Fire Service, there were 69 fire incidents across the state today. So for those that were concerned about the Sydney fire, you can keep tabs here.

44C15533-0D80-43C9-90A6-4FED61882E84.jpeg

Cartoon of the Day

B94A38A4-6A1D-4473-8743-567F0200A32F.jpeg

Chinese military to crush Australia with a microphone & speaker

D05E28D1-B7F0-419A-8C7A-A44ABFEE5A97.jpeg

Here is a thought. If you get easily get triggered by gender bullying don’t join the military. Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Mitchell of the US Army said, “War doesn’t distinguish between gender and age. You can be 20 years old on the battlefield, or you can be 50, and you’re going to have to accomplish the same mission.”

China must be laughing. Instead of buying state of the art weapons to combat the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) it’d be better off popping down to its local consumer electronics store and investing in a microphone and a ghetto blaster so it can gender bully our overly sensitive LGBT soldiers into surrender. Never has the Knights who say Ni! scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail summed up our leaders’ pathetic pandering to turning our military into a laughing stock.

However is it even true that all LGBT soldiers to a lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer individual feel in any way triggered by this garbage? Odds on the majority probably don’t but the top brass actively undermines them by classifying these individuals as a homogeneous group. The DoD and ADF probably consulted a few outside activists and drew a conclusion rather than ask those it directly affected. Canada made this very same mistake over Bill C-16.

Let’s be real. The majority of our troops join the military for love of country and sense of purpose. CM had drinks last week with a brave veteran who is setting up a technology to help the 10s of millions who suffer PTSD to cope. It is such a noble quest and CM will be an active member driving it.  He said he is sick to death of burying his mates from PTSD related suicide. It is a hard life in the military. Like CM wrote last week, the military shouldn’t be actively hiring spent cartridges. It is up to all people who join to fall under one purpose rather than expect preferential treatment. If corporates were to adopt the biased recruiting practices of the ADF they’d be fined, jailed and outed.

Yet our Minister for Defence is pushing for a “let’s turn our armed forces into a social experiment”agendaThe ADF has rolled out a “100 days for change” programme to encourage indoctrination of social diversity. Not diversity of thought or skill but identity. The Navy even painted finger nails pink to celebrate they were doing our bit. What a slap in the face of those who have served/currently serve.

As written last week, the ADF’s own gender study showed that half the female troops it was  designed to help think its pointless. Morale is skipping along at all time lows and people wishing to quit the military keeps climbing. Why does the military top brass not see that boosting morale won’t come from investing in magic pixie dust body armor to protect against hurt feelings? Yet the Department of Defence wants the ADF to double down on this stupidity.

Those that serve in the military just want to know that the person next to them is the most capable and solid individual both physically and mentally. In the pitch of battle, someone who will get feelings hurt when a commander gives an order will likely cost lives. Soldiers even have red cards they can pull on their commanding officers if they feel triggered during training. To that end soldiers know that gender, sexual orientation, race or religion play next to know part in a fire fight. Skill, courage and bravery do.

If the PC brigade has its way the next thing we know, LGBTQI battalions will march in rainbow camouflage. Sexual orientation and gender are irrelevant. The tasks don’t change on the field of battle.

If only CM’s grandfather Lt. Norman Martin Peterson – who served from 1939-45 – was able to read this nonsense! He was an eloquent and graphic writer from the battlefields of Crete, North Africa and the Pacific Islands but something tells me he would launch a verbal barrage to smash these PC fools into surrender.

Minister Payne should wake up and show the type of “pride” in the armed forces as one that is feared and respected. Is it any wonder we are among the most desired peace keepers because of our record of not being trigger happy cowpeople? As Gen Mattis once said of Aussie SAS troops, “I wish we had more of you sons of bitches among our allies!

The way we are politicizing the military shows the real enemy resides within our barracks. China is writing anti-PC taunts as we sleep. Maybe they don’t even need the speakers. Just make a YouTube video and stream it direct to hacked cellphones.

Honorable lies to defend the freedom we’re prepared to give up

In a world increasingly pushing for safe spaces, trigger warnings and legal remediation for hurt feelings, the ANZAC Memorial at Be’er Sheva makes a mockery of today’s society. Two gentlemen from the First World War make this point clearly. Both lied about their age to defend freedom. They weren’t alone.

The first soldier, H.T. Bell,  lied about his age so he could enlist, despite being only 14. He also lied about his name. He died as a light horseman in the Battle of Be’er Sheva where the ANZACs defeated the Turks by charging their cannons and machine guns. The authorities contacted the Wickhams (his alias) to inform their son he died only to discover they didn’t have one. They eventually tracked down the Bells who thought he’d run away to be a jackaroo. He was only 16.

Lt.Col L.C. Maygar VC was 48 at the time of the battle. Having won a Victoria Cross, the Empire’s highest order of valor, during the Boer War he was too old to serve in WW1. So he chopped his age by 6 years to make the cut. Sadly he died in battle but willingly volunteered to be put in harms way.

The actions of a youth and someone old enough to be his father fought for what they believed in. This battle was instrumental in booting the Ottoman Empire from what is now Israel. These soldiers tricked the Turks by charging them. Light horseman traditionally dismounted and then attacked on foot. Knowing their situation was bleak, 800 soldiers ran under the heavy guns effective line of fire and slaughtered the enemy.

When one absorbs the power of The Be’er Sheva memorial, it strongly reflects the values of the time. The sacrifices of the 1000s buried there reveal how seriously they were prepared to defend the very freedoms we seem so willingly prepared to give up today for the sake of political correctness.

Lest we forget their bravery.