30 January 2018

The gruesome reality inside NSW mental health units

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 Photo: ABC News
A recent review into the conditions inside NSW mental health units has revealed the shocking reality for mental health patients.

The report, led by NSW chief psychiatrist Dr Murray Wright, was commissioned by the State Government earlier this year following shocking revelations of the death of Miriam Merten in 2014 at a NSW hospital.

CCTV footage showed how Merten had been locked into a dark room without any food or water, naked and chemically restrained. She fell and hit her head more than 20 times and was later found dead.

The inquiry told of how “consumers and carers described services that traumatise and show a lack of compassion and humanity.”

“Many reported feeling dehumanised and stripped of their sense of autonomy, agency, dignity and human rights,” the report stated.

According to Dr Wright’s review, patients were placed in seclusion units almost 3,700 times in NSW during the last financial year.  The average lock-up length was five and a half hours and rooms were often deemed as unhygienic and patients were left without access to bathroom.

“Some consumers and carers reported that seclusion and restraint were used as a threat or a punishment; as a means of enforcing compliance and obedience,” the report stated.

“This form of coercive compliance has more in common with custodial correction systems than it does with a therapeutic setting .”

The report made the recommendation that there’s a great need to address the cultural problems within NSW emergency. Patients were often met by discriminating and unprofessional attitudes from staff.

The review identified seven key themes for improvement:
  • Culture and leadership
  • Patient safety
  • Accountability and governance
  • Workforce
  • Consumer and carer participation
  • Data
  • The built and therapeutic environment
Written by: Mimmie Wilhemson

Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

23 January 2018

Keeping students safe on social media platforms

Author :
We’re dealing with a generation of digital-engagers. ‘Screen-agers’ if you will. Right or wrong, a majority of Gen Z’s social interactions take place on social media and in the online universe.

As of 2017, approximately 99% of 18-29 year olds and 96% of undergraduate students in Australia actively use social media on a daily basis.

Research conducted by the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) has shown that the number of Young Australians who rate the internet as ‘very important’ has doubled since 2009.

For students in higher education - whether it’s Universities, TAFEs, VETs, RTOs or other – the pros and perks of social media engagement are compelling. Offering opportunities for real-time engagement with peers and professors, access to information, sharing ideas, finding social events or simply expanding your circle of friends, the boom of social media has changed the face of student interaction.

Not only this, but from a University’s business perspective, it seems the most powerful tool for current and prospective student engagement is in the online universe. Using social media effectively can expand market scope, increase student recruitment and drive engagement. 

However, it’s a risky space.

There is little denying the social media makes it easier for students to bully or abuse their peers — coupling the sense of anonymity with an seeming lack of consequence for negative comments and bullying, the online universe can be a hostile place for young people. Particularly when personal information is not protected and/or students aren’t aware of how to keep themselves safe on social media, the dangers can become much more real than the benefits.

It’s imperative that Universities understand the best strategies for maintaining a safe social networking space, and encourage students to learn more about how to stay safe on social media. When used safely and effectively, online social platforms can act as a strong catalyst for engagement and positive student experience throughout their higher education journey.

What policies and procedures does your organisation have in place for the use of social media?

Written by: Beth Hampton

Beth came to Australia in late 2016. Having spent some time travelling through Southeast Asia and briefly living in Singapore – she was ready to embrace the lifestyle of a working Sydneysider!Beth grew up in London, and completed her degree in Psychology at the University of York. She always dreamed of landing a job in the police, but figured it was worth swapping the handcuffs and late shifts for an exciting new city and a job full of fun and opportunity in a fantastic company like Akolade!
Beth loves cooking, playing the piano, terrible British soap operas, an ice-cold G&T and exploring new places.

22 January 2018

Emergency communications: How the Hawaii false alarm faux pas will lead to improving systems

Author :

For thirty-eight frightening minutes on the 13th of January, the residents and tourists of Hawaii did not know how to react to a blood-curdling emergency alert on their mobiles: Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.

Whilst luckily it was a false alarm and Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) took to Twitter shortly after to announce that there was no threat or missile headed towards the island, however, it took the better part of an hour for Hawaii’s EMA to issue an official retraction cancelling the alert.

It was nothing more than a human error, however, it raised legitimate questions regarding the process – just how trustworthy is the alert system after all? Is it a reliable system if mass panic is just one click away?

There is a silver lining - without a doubt, the Emergency Management Agencies across the USA as well as abroad will look into their systems to determine whether additional safeguards are required in order to prevent human error of such kind.

Incredibly, just days after the Hawaii faux pas, the Japanese national broadcaster NHK erroneously sent an alert warning about North Korea’s missile headed towards Japan. While the Japanese were speedy in retracting a false notification, it is still striking how easy such errors can occur and the incredible damage it can cause.

The lessons to be learnt from these stories are that humans are much better at engineering systems and machines as opposed to having full control of them.  Undoubtedly, nuclear weapons are the most dangerous technology to ever exist and when the safeguards fail, the potential harm is completely catastrophic. 

By Simona Zukaite

Simona joined Akolade and relocated to Sydney after eight years in Hong Kong where she worked for a leading media and publishing company producing legal and financial conferences in Asia-Pacific. Simona studied Law in the UK, Paris and Hong Kong and found her passion for events after working on an international arbitration law conference and moot trial competition in Hong Kong in 2012. The recent move is the next chapter of adventures Simona has sought to pursue in Australia following the running of an annual FX investment conference in Sydney for three consecutive years.