Police kill the mentally ill

New statistics from the Australian Institute of Criminology show almost half of all people shot dead by Australian police over the last 22 years had a mental illness. The study reveals 44 out of 105 fatal shootings by cops since 1989 fit this description, with those suffering from schizophrenia and psychosis most likely to be killed.

The shocking figures come as the mother of a 15-year old-boy killed by police launches a landmark action at the UN to try and put an end to Australian police investigating themselves.

Tyler Cassidy was drunk and emotionally distressed when Victoria police shot him three times as he stood alone in his local skate park with two knives in 2008. His mother said “Tyler’s death was investigated by members of the same police force at whose hands he died. The police officers who killed my son were not even treated as suspects.” Only 73 seconds passed between when police approached the boy and when he was shot.

Since then Victoria police have agreed to extra training aimed at dealing with “irrational people”, but refuse independent scrutiny.

Sick, disabled woman evicted from public housing

“Lesley Long has one leg, is partially blind and deaf, and has diabetes. She is also homeless due to the government’s three strikes eviction policy, designed to target trouble-making public housing tenants engaging in anti-social behaviour,” reported the ABC in June. Lesley and her partner were found sleeping in a neighbouring park. She is now in hospital.

In true empathic style, Department of Housing executive director Steve Altham said in response that tenants are, “responsible for the behaviour of others who visit their homes… at the end of the day, at what point does the community get to say enough is enough?” The “three strikes” policy has recently spread to Queensland.

Ranks of Australian millionaires swell

According to Boston Consulting Group the ranks of Australia’s millionaires are swelling. Their study measures cash and shares and says the number of millionaire households leapt by 19 per cent from 148,000 to 178,000 in only one year, an increase at a rate more than double the global average.

But this rosy picture of growing wealth is only the situation at one end of town. At the other, 72,000 sole parents have been driven into poverty by Gillard’s sole parenting payment cuts and NewStart hasn’t been increased in real terms since 1994.

Queen’s belated gift from an admirer

A multimillion dollar gold coach commissioned for the Queen’s 80th birthday, partly paid for with $245,000 from the Howard government, has just been finished in a workshop in Manly and is ready to be shipped off to England. As if a gold coach for an unemployed millionaire wasn’t redundant enough, the Queen’s 80th birthday was actually in 2006.

Racism thrives in the defence force

The Australian Defence Force’s office of the Inspector-General has received a stream of complaints in recent weeks about soldiers posting Islamophobic comments on known rate-hate pages and social media. One serving officer revealed his friend had ripped off a woman’s headscarf, another called to “kill them all”. In 2012, a Facebook page used by 1000 former and active personnel proudly displayed images that sadistically mocked injured Muslims.

But of course, such attitudes shouldn’t be a surprise when killing Muslims is all in a day’s work. Two children were killed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan in March.

Newman hacks down land clearing laws

Queensland LNP Premier Campbell Newman has passed legislation that will help undo the single biggest carbon emissions abatement measure in Australian history. Land-clearing restriction laws that came into effect in 2007 saved an estimated 24 megatons of CO2 per annum.

Queensland was levelling its bushland at a rate comparable to that of the notorious clearing in the Amazon Basin. A study by the World Wildlife Federation has estimated that Newman’s changes will immediately allow the clearing of land that holds 323 million tons of carbon when the vegetation is fully grown, a big number given Australia’s annual emissions are roughly 550 million tons.

Detention hunger strikes and self harm threats no big incident for Serco

Detention logs published through a new media partnership reveal Serco treats visitors taking photos and minor protests outside detention centres as more serious than hunger strikes and some self-harm. The new detention logs site is compiled by journalists at the Guardian Australia, New Matilda and The Global Mail.

One “incident report” lists photos taken outside the Christmas Island centre by two visitors from refugee advocacy group Chilout as “critical”. This is considered a higher level of emergency than hunger strikes lasting longer than 24 hours or asylum seekers making threats of self-harm.

Also on the critical list are any demonstrations outside detention centres. As a report from May 2010 reveals, even a group of 19 Christians gathered outside Maribyrnong detention centre in Melbourne was considered “critical”. Yet the report notes operations in the centre were not affected by the protest in any way at all. Clearly, for Serco, the welfare of asylum seekers is not the key priority.

Research and writing by Adam Adelpour

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