Political Neglect: Low wages and an atrophied health care system

Australian wages are being kept deliberately low. It is impacting our physical and mental health for the majority of us.

Themes:

  • Collecting taxes from corporations and earners of over $10,000,000 F/Y will pay for vital health care services
  • Public and caregiving services are deliberately unequipped
  • Systemised neglect of Duty of Care by frontline staff due to overwhelming need combined with lack of time, staff, money, resources, and emotional energy

In my mind, the Australian policy deciders – the politicians who vote on bills that disregard the health of our nation – are deliberately neglecting their duty of care to us.

The overwhelming demand for medical care exceeded our public hospitals’ ability to cope when in the early 2000s.

Public Hospital Report Card
“Bed ratios static with more than 42% reduction since 1993-94” Sources: Australian Hospital Statistics, AIHW; Australian Demographic Statistics, ABS Public Hospital Report Card 2017 by the Australian Medical Association.

 

There is no need for the continuous degredation of vital and urgently needed health and community services funding.

We can fund frontline community services and basic human needs by collecting taxes from corporations operating in Australia (700+ paid zero tax in 2017) and enforcing a 70-90% personal tax on earnings after $10,000,000 in a financial year.

I first experienced the atrophied health system when trying to get help for what I thought was an overdose caused by drug spiking. It was an Anxiety attack, though it took another decade before I believed the Nurses and Doctor.

In the 15 or so years since my average wait time in an emergency department has been, I believe, 4-5 hours. I was always simply “observed” because they didn’t have “the staff available” to do more than observing.

The medical staff’s lack of understanding of my distress and barely able to communicate put me in further distress, every time.

Only on two occasions was I given an anti-anxiety tablet, but always let go to fend for myself, alone, afterwards. This includes periods of intrusive suicidal thoughts.

Overwhealmed services are not new

The announcement of a “$5,000 baby bonus” to new parents in 2004 by the Australian Liberal Party baffled and shocked me. Apparently, we need a bigger population in Australia. Why? Our community services were already systemically overwhelmed and unable to help most of the people who connected with them.

By that stage, I had lived in two supported emergency housing services and two medium-long term services. The sadness, regret, and helplessness of those staff as they shared their experiences in conferences and Interagency meetings has never left me.

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Physician burnout has been researched and written about since 2002.

Gonski: It isn’t the only vital report

I have been interviewed for and read statistics-based research reports and green paper policy documents by Youth Affairs Network Queensland and Brisbane Youth Service (resources), a Brisbane City Council snapshot of young people in Brisbane, and among others, by the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP).

These statistics, research, and policy informing reports have been ignored time and time again when it comes time to pass quickly actionable, fully funded laws around keeping children and young people safe.

Why are these Community Cultural Development research recommendations not being implemented? Do the lawmakers not have a duty of care to protect us at all stages of life?

Repeated shocks about human rights being dismissed in our own homes and a lack of funding for society’s caregivers is impacting the health system and our collective well-being.

I believe vast swatches of worldwide communities are experiences trauma from the recurrent shock of not being able to live on a two parent income (where once an entire family could live off just one income). We can’t get help that is promised by “Talking with a General Practitioner” for our medical and mental health problems. We are also suffering the effects of extreme capitalism and refusal to pay company and personal taxes, dehumanisation and torture of people who just want to live in peace (refugees), and of course, from climate change impacts past, current, and future.

Yes, I’m talking the obliteration of the human race and destruction of the earth.

Constant triage

Have you tried unsuccessfully to get help for a medical problem? I have. For years, I’ve been told to speak to my GP and they will help. No, they don’t and probably can’t. Why? No time to do their due diligence with paperwork, research, and follow up on their patient’s needs.
It seems to be that GP’s only have time and resources to perform triage.It seems to be that GP’s only have time and resources to perform triage.
If they had time to research, I and many people wouldn’t have to do it for them. 

What else causes dread

Farmers are committing suicide constantly. That is shock after shock. Australian men have been committing suicide in rising numbers for years. That’s painful.

There is also the refusal of people to accept that racism is something they do when they see it on tv/books/ news. Likely, in my mind, because the characters are always portrayed as overtly racist. It’s the same when I saw dramatised and overtly Autistic characters.

As Bruce Pascoe said in his book “Dark Emu” (I’m paraphrasing) without acknowledgement of the horrific and traumatising treatment of indigenous people worldwide, and substantial and practical/ physical engagement on all levels of policy making, we are trapped in this vortex of not acknowledging and dealing with current trauma and deliberate human rights violations. The rate of indigenous children (even under ten years old) committing suicide sends me into a spiral of helplessness.

I read an article about Millenial burnout earlier this year. Burnout is a particular interest as I wrote a memoir about it.

This is a concept I saw about myself from “How Millenials became the burnout generation” by Anne Helen Peterson – (I’m paraphrasing) This contempt for millennials having a “Me, me, me” culture – well yes – we are in survival mode. What helps ease the dread and calm our fluttering hearts is being kind to ourselves.

On a plane, in a medical emergency – What is the first thing we are told? Put your air mask on before helping the child next to you. In First Aid: Assess for dangers to yourself and stay safe.

Do no harm? Do they have a choice?

Simply because they do not have the time, money, energy, and resources to do personalised, detailed work, the caregivers – Teachers, medical staff, Crisis services, police etc are having to neglect the people that rely on them.

The employed, unemployed, Elderly but can’t retire or they’ll be homeless, and everyone who relies on a stable income, health, and home.

Once again, living in Australia and observing America at this time is like triage on a battle-field. The medical TV show M*A*S*H shows with great care how devastating this constant triage is for everyone in their environment.

Research is already there!

I saw an article about a new report that “Mental Health Research is Crucial” – except frontline staff are not allowed to do their research and due diligence. They are constantly doing triage and burning out.

They do not have time (read: hours) at work to research what they need to, and when we as patients try to educate them on our conditions – like the refusal of psychiatrists to comprehensively assess women for Autism.

I imagine that the majority of what they need to know has probably been researched and proven – scientifically and community cultural development based, or our caregivers have a wealth of experiences to catch up on online. Practical information is written in advocacy blogs like mine, on forums, in social media threads, and probably, in their bookshelves.

They just can’t stop long enough to research and do their due diligence. Or they could be burnt out and unable to move.

Further reading:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-10/ocasio-cortez-blasts-capitalism-as-an-irredeemable-system

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/1/4/18168431/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-70-percent