Posted by: jkirkby8712 | October 27, 2011

Thursday, 27th October 2011 – the buildings on the ‘hill’, and monetary matters!!

I probably won’t ever get comfortable to lying in of a morning – work or not, it always seems like a waste of time, when things could be getting done.  I guess the difference is the absence now of a regular commitment, and the opportunity to do some morning writing, etc, on here as that always feels the best time of day to do so!  First thing this morning, I exchanged a couple of emails with Jackie at the VPTA  – they are having a few difficulties with the Bendigo Bank in changing over authorisations etc apparently! Meanwhile, she has asked me to  come in on the 8th November to assist with the interviews for the replacement person for my job. Happy to do so.

Spent the day at home, including some work in the garden again, and a late morning walk around part of my usual walking tracks. And chasing up various financial related matters. One day hopefully, all these things will get organised, but busy day ahead tomorrow visiting banks, Centrelink, etc, etc!!

Meanwhile, I referred yesterday to the memorial ceremony for the ‘forgotten souls’ of the various institutions that used to dominant the highest point of Sunbury [Jacksons Hill] until about 20 years ago.  One organisation which continues to do a lot of good work around Sunbury is ‘Citizen Advocacy Sunbury’.  This was established in 1985 in response to the appalling conditions and situations the residents of Caloola faced [another name for those institutions]. In many cases, residents were isolated, alone and vulnerable, barring them from mainstream society. And this was just 26 years ago, two years after I came to Sunbury!  It was also the final stage in a long history of Sunbury’s ‘hill’. In 1864, an industrial school opened at Sunbury, and this was developed to educate and house destitute children from 1864 until 1879 [many of those children ended up in the unmarked graves which are to be dedicated with a plague at the Cemetery tomorrow].  From an article in Wikipedia, we read that:

A 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) site was put aside in Sunbury following the implementation of the Neglected and Criminal Children’s Act of 1864. Destitute or orphaned children were sent as wards of the state to learn a trade in the belief that this may then provide them with the skills necessary (once they were old enough), to provide and care for themselves. The school was co-educational  although girls and boys were segregated. Boys were expected to learn a trade while girls were expected to handle menial tasks such as washing clothes, cleaning floors and to assist with cooking. The school consisted of ten large, unheated, bluestone  buildings arranged in two rows of five [these buildings still exist on the hill]. Located on the side of Jackson’s Hill, they were called the Hill Wards. The open and exposed position of the buildings led to frequent illness and constant poor health of the children. The children were given rancid food, that they ate in their own rooms that by the time they received it, was cold. The children were given only a little water, no bedding, save for a blanket and many affected by Opthalmia  , went untreated, resulting in blindness.  It was estimated that around 10 percent of children died within the first year of operation. This fact alone led to the school gaining the nickname of the Sunbury Slaughterhouse. Eventually, after public outcry, and after numerous Royal Commissions into the Industrial School System, by 1879 the Sunbury Industrial School was closed.

 It was in 1879,  that the building was converted to a mental asylum.  Extensions were made to the building[s] between 1891 and 1914.  The site was used as an asylum for the mentally ill from 1894 until around 1912, with the patients referred to as inmates. By 1914 at it’s peak, the Sunbury Lunatic Asylum housed 1,000 patients. The asylum  was renamed a psychiatric hospital and then a mental hospital. By the 1920s , the Health Reformation Act came in, and improved conditions [supposedly].  The asylum was renamed the Caloola Training  Centre for intellectually disabled persons  in 1985. It was decommissioned in the early 1990s and opened as a campus of the Victorian University of Technology in 1995. That was where my eldest son James undertook his university studies about 10 years ago. Back in the early 1970s when I was employed in two different similar institutions in Melbourne [in an administrative capacity] I recall at one time applying for a position at the then Sunbury institution. I was unsuccessful, but ironically, ended up living in the town many years later, and these days, actually enjoy my part time hobby as a radio presenter in the grounds of the original institutions!

Anyway, I began this piece by referring to the Citizen Advocacy group in Sunbury. After the closure of Caloola in October 199i2,  their work spread to the wider community, something that became necessary, partly because of the state wide closure of similar organisations at that time, and the disbursement of many of the former ‘patients’ out into that community – the ‘new’ policy on the treatment of the mentally ill!!! In our municipality, there are currently 45 volunteer advocates, each of whom assists an intellectually disabled person [a protégé] by being a friend and helping with simple day-to-day issues.  I’ve undertaken many different volunteer roles, but these days, don’t think I would have the ‘ability’ to undertake a role of that nature, though admiring completely those who do so.

Nice to have another Thursday night home to watch the two weekly shows I enjoy –  the TV version of ‘The Slap’, and another episode of the rather entertaining ‘Crownies’ which deals with the daily [and nightly] ‘adventures’ of the members of a city legal firm. Last week, I felt that ‘The Slap’ came over as too much ‘in your face’ with the violence and sex that dominated the episode.  While the latter was against prevalent tonight, it was as one previewer described it – “After enduring Alex Dimitriade’s Harry on the verge of a nervous breakdown for a volatile hour of The Slap last week, it’s something of a relief that the spotlight now falls on the calmer and more user-friendly character of Connie, the young veterinary nurse-babysitter  and occasional temptress brilliantly underplayed by ‘Beautiful Kate’s’ Sophie Lowe. A beguiling mixture of youthful naivity and knowing girl-woman with the somewhat desperate wiles of a 17 year-old girl in love for the first time – with the older-but-no-wiser family man, Hector –  Lowe perfectly realises the Connie of the novel. The first three episodes of this eight-part adaptation have followed the linear consequences of the slap and it’s consequences for various characters, but a tired and emotional Connie this week sends the plot hurtling off in an unexpected direction with a false accusation of the most serious nature”.  An accusation that one can imagine is going to rebound on Hector and his foolish dalliance with his schoolgirl babysitter!!  Meanwhile, in ‘Crownies’  the unfortunate young lawyer Richard, after working all night on a case that was thrown into his lap with barely 24 hours notice, deals carelessly with the victim’s family, and is accordingly humiliated in the court. But perhaps things are looking up in other directions. Richard shares an apartment with a female associate, but because her boyfriend is so easily jealous, she has convinced him to pretend he is gay in their private lives, which he has reluctantly agreed to, while refusing to play that role  in the work environment.  More on that, next episode, hopefully!!  So there, that was my entertainment for the night!!!

While all of these mundane events in my life were going on, the world of economic crisis and financial woes [certainly over in Europe] was trying to climb out of an abyss of debt and potential nation bankruptcies. The  report following, I read with interest, after the major news items earlier, were giving the story high priority  – generally, my broad knowledge of international monetary policies, etc, is fairly limited – that is my brother’s area of expertise, but somehow, I believe it’s an important outcome for that aspect of international relations. It seems to me that things like wars between nations have erupted in the past because leaders have not been prepared to try and work and persist towards an agreement that attempts to satisfy all parties.  Whether this situation will achieve that, I really don’t know, but it seems a genuine attempt to avoid further crisis from arising. Readers have the choice anyway – stop at this point, or read on – we all might learn something!!

‘Europe has sealed a last-ditch deal to fix its festering debt crisis, shoring up its bailout fund, pledging new funds for Greece and pushing banks to share the pain at a summit vital to the health of the global economy. After two successive summits that dragged on for almost 10 hours as markets and world leaders remained on tenterhooks, EU president Herman Van Rompuy emerged early on Thursday saying: “We took important decisions.”  Asian stock markets rallied and the euro rose on the announcement with Tokyo up 1.15 per cent and Hong Kong rising 1.74 per cent in midday trade. The euro was higher, buying $US1.3958 up somewhat from $US1.3908 late Wednesday in New York. As Asia shares firmed, IMF chief Christine Lagarde welcomed “substantial progress”, but European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet warned that “all of this now requires a lot of work and a lot of quick work”.

The last and perhaps toughest chapter in the four-point plan was a deal between eurozone leaders and the Institute of International Finance banking lobby to force private investors to take a 50 per cent loss on Greece’s debt. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel broke off from the summit to save the day and cut a deal with the head of the banking lobby, Charles Dallara. “We said it was our last word, our last offer,” said Merkel of threats to allow Greece to default failing agreement. “We have done what needed doing,” she said. The banks in past weeks had raised their offer to 40 per cent but governments insisted on a 50 per cent “haircut”.

The deal aims to slice a whopping 100 billion euros ($A134.27 billion) off the 350 billion euro debt pile hampering Greece, which also won new pledges of a 100 billion euro loan over the next three years. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou hailed “a new era, a new chapter” for Greece, whose debt woes kicked off a two-year crisis that successively hit Ireland and Portugal before threatening to spill over to Italy and Spain. To address that danger, eurozone leaders agreed to boost their debt rescue fund to one trillion euros. The firepower of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) is to be leveraged up between four- and fivefold using clever financial footwork to avoid governments increasing guarantees. With the world on tenterhooks, emerging powers China and Russia waded in with offers to help Europe safeguard the global economy by contributing to the fund. The development came as global powers, from the United States to Japan and China, pressed European leaders to come up with a lasting solution to the debt crisis before a G20 summit in France on November 3 and 4.  Europe’s leaders agreed two options to boost the EFSF without increasing commitments from member states as taxpayers in countries such as Germany complain about pouring money down what they see as a bottomless hole.  The first option allows the EFSF to provide risk insurance on new debt issued by fragile governments, in a bid to convince investors to continue buying their bonds and keep interest rates low.  A second fund, linked to the EFSF, will be created to attract private and public investors, including countries outside the eurozone. This investment vehicle could also be associated with the International Monetary Fund, an idea Russia says it prefers.  With fears growing that the debt drama will turn into a banking system meltdown, European leaders also struck a deal to force banks to recapitalise at a summit of the 27-nation EU that preceded the eurozone talks.] “We made good progress on the bank recapitalisation, that wasn’t watered down, it now has been agreed,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said. The European Banking Authority said banks would need 106 billion euros to fulfill the requirements. With fears of contagion hitting Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi came to the summit with a detailed list of pledges to cut his country’s 1.9 trillion euro debt. Van Rompuy said leaders welcomed the vows but called on Rome to “abide” by its commitments”. [reported by AAP, 27 October 2011]




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