Archive for the ‘LIFESTYLES SOCIAL EVENTS’ Category


Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Social dark side of the mining boom

Courtney Trenwith

December 6, 2010 – 11:35AM

Australia's mining towns are rife with alcohol-fuelled violence, abuse and mental health problems, according to a new report.Australia’s mining towns are rife with alcohol-fuelled violence, abuse and mental health problems, according to a new report.

Australia’s mining industry is propagating a dark underbelly of alcohol-fuelled violence, prostitution and mental health, the first study to examine social impacts of regional mining camps has revealed.

The Queensland University of Technology report claims thousands of men flown in to work at mining sites in Queensland and Western Australia are “catastrophically” denigrating nearby towns and turning them into dangerous crime hot spots.

The report’s author, Professor Kerry Carrington, said the resources industry and governments were largely ignoring the devastation being wreaked on rural communities, which would get worse as $116 billion worth of new mining projects began. 

She warned there were unknown impacts on individual mine workers that would also damage families and communities.

The impacts, yet to be closely examined, include alcohol abuse, increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases and mental health problems.

One worker she spoke to was taking anti-anxiety medication because he feared the constant expectation to fight during drinking binges in between shifts.

Professor Carrington’s research, which was recently published in the esteemed British Journal of Criminology, is the first in Australia to examine the social impacts of the nation’s mining boom.

She concluded the growing social disorder could be reduced by building regional cities with subsidised housing and pay to compete with mining wages.

The Mt Isa-born researcher visited mining communities in Queensland and Western Australia and interviewed employees, mining bosses, local residents, police, health workers and magistrates.

She found crime rates were more than double the state average in regional communities located near camps that housed large populations of “fly-in, fly-out” mine and construction workers.

Professor Carrington said workers had large disposable incomes with nothing much to do other than drink alcohol between back-to-back shifts.

“What we discovered and what we heard was truly quite shocking,” she said.

“It’s what we call organised drunkenness. The camps had courtesy buses that would arrive at the end of a shift and drive them to the pub.

“They were surrounded by concrete, steel mesh to, I presume, keep the men contained.”

Many camps had “wet messes” for drinking but no other recreational activities, she said. The best camps were adding libraries, gyms and the internet to provide alternatives.

The problems were exacerbated by the heavy population of men, which fuelled violence, particularly over the scarce number of women. Local men also became involved in such fights.

Professor Carrington said the few females left in one WA region were known as Plemberton Princesses, while sex workers were known to operate out of stretch limousines in car parks.

“There was an enormous amount of fighting and rivalry for those women,” she said.

Professor Carrington, who had feared speaking out on the issue, said police and health services were struggling to cope.

She said Australian Bureau of Statistics population figures did not include non-residents, which made it more difficult for governments to better allocate resources.

However, she criticised the industry and governments for turning a blind eye to the problem.

WA mining executives were the worst, she said, because they passed responsibility to subcontractors.

Professor Carrington said while Queensland had enforced mandatory social impact statements required by all proposed mining projects, it needed to go further and include criminology impacts.

She called for national leadership to address the issue.

“The question I ask of the resources industry and government is, is it really sustainable?” she asked.

“Is $116 billion of resource extraction based on supply of labour of non-resident workers [sustainable], given the profound impacts, not just on the communities but also when they fly back home?”

A spokesman for Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean said the government would not comment until the full report was released later this week.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Saturday, November 6th, 2010

United Nations names Australia as the

second best place in the world to live

November 5, 2010

Thumbnail image for video asset.

Australia second best place to live

The UN Development Program ranks Australia’s quality of life the second best in the world.

The United Nations has named oil-rich Norway as the country with the best quality of life, followed by Australia and New Zealand, while Asia has made the biggest strides in recent decades.

However, the UN’s annual A-to-Z of global wealth, poverty, health and education highlighted that it is becoming ever more difficult to break into the rich club of nations.

Norway – with its 81 years of life expectancy and average annual income of $US59,000 ($59,000) – has topped the Human Development Index (HDI) for all but two years since 2001.

It doesn’t come in first place in any individual category – average income in Liechtenstein, for example, is a wallet-busting $US81,011 and Japan’s life expectancy is 83.6 years – but Norway’s all-round performance gives it superiority in the 20th annual rankings on the UN Development Program (UNDP).

Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Ireland, in order, also made the top five.

Zimbabwe came in last among the 169 nations ranked, behind Mozambique, Burundi, Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In stark contrast to the leaders, in Zimbabwe life expectancy is just 47 and per capita income $US176.

DR Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe are the only countries in which the HDI value fell below 1970 levels.

“These countries offer lessons on the devastating impact of conflict, the AIDS epidemic and economic and political mismanagement,” UNDP chief and former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clarke said yesterday.

The study aims to give a broader assessment of quality of life than just income – by including, health, education, gender equality and political freedom – and its lead writer, Jeni Klugman, said most of the world had seen “dramatic progress” since 1970.

Average life expectancy rose from 59 to 70 years, primary school enrollment grew from 55 to 70 per cent, and per capita incomes doubled to more than $US10,000. Many of the poorest countries achieved some of the greatest gains, she said.

“Overall they are healthier, more educated and wealthier and [have] more power to appoint and hold their leaders accountable than ever before,” Klugman said.

“But some countries have suffered serious setbacks, particularly in health – sometimes erasing the gains of several decades.”

The nations that have risen most in the rankings in recent decades include “growth miracles” such as China, which has risen eight places in the past five years to 89th, Indonesia and South Korea.

East Asia and the Pacific had by far the strongest overall performance of any region over the past 40 years – twice the average worldwide progress.

China, the second highest index achiever since 1970, has been successful mainly because of income rather than health or education, the report said.

China’s per capita income increased 21-fold over four decades, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty. Yet China was not among Asia’s top performers in school enrollment and life expectancy.

Klugman highlighted that “economic growth alone does not automatically bring improvements in health and education”.

Nepal surprisingly emerged as one of the most improved nations since 1970, despite its longstanding civil war.

A child born today in Nepal can expect to live 25 years longer than a child born in 1970.

In six sub-Saharan African countries and three in the former Soviet Union, life expectancy is now below 1970 levels – mainly because of the HIV epidemic and tougher conditions in former communist nations.

And even though incomes have grown dramatically, poor nations are not making the same economic strides as they are in health and education.

“On average, rich countries have grown faster than poor ones over the past 40 years.

“The divide between developed and developing countries persists: a small subset of countries has remained at the top of the world income distribution and only a handful of countries that started out poor have joined that high income group,” the report concluded.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha