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Archive for July, 2019

The Jaguar, the children’s care charity and the mysterious contracts

07.13.2019, Comments Off on The Jaguar, the children’s care charity and the mysterious contracts, 苏州夜生活, by .

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As work cars go, a Jaguar is not bad.

Samantha Madigan would know: she drove a black one to work at Guardian Youth Care, the children’s care charity where she acted as payroll manager and board director.

Except the car is not registered with the charity. The luxury sedan belongs to a company that Guardian Youth Care awarded $18 million in mysterious contracts.

The NSW government alleges those contracts were unauthorised and a misappropriation of public funds. But the charity claims the payments were a legitimate part of its “integrated business model”.

As liquidators comb the accounts of Guardian Youth Care, which folded in June, Fairfax Media can reveal new details of its arrangements with former criminals.

They relate to a Pyrmont apartment purchase, the long-term use of a separate property owned by a convicted drug supplier, and a $500,000 loan to a gambler.

Run by former Wallaby Glen Ella, Guardian Youth Care received a government contract worth more than $6.4 million a year to look after traumatised teenagers in western Sydney houses.

It outsourced much of the money to companies run by Roy Bijkerk, who was jailed in the early 2000s for conspiracy to import cocaine.

Administrators going through Guardian Youth Care’s books found Mr Bijkerk was effectively a “shadow director”, given his influence over the charity he helped found.

In May 2013, Mr Bijkerk joined a Guardian Youth Care board member, accountant Paul Clarke, in a new company Sunergos Support Services.

Mr Bijkerk joined the same day as his business partner Ned Bikic, a former standover man convicted of murder.

By July, Sunergos Support Services was earning $30,000 a month from Guardian Youth Care to provide plant, property and equipment services and to help with accreditation costs.

Nine months later, Sunergos bought a Pyrmont apartment for $600,000, with a $480,000 mortgage.

Ms Madigan, Guardian Youth Care’s “executive administrator”, was appointed as a Sunergos director in January 2017.

Her Jaguar, however, belongs to Alpha Support Services, a contractor controlled by Mr Bijkerk, which has also received millions of dollars from the charity.

Records show Alpha received an unrepaid $686,000 loan from the charity, which Alpha denied while refusing to open its books.

Another car registered to Alpha is a black 2016 Mercedes Benz e400 series.

Mr Bikic, the former standover man, served as a director of Alpha between 2015 and 2016 and according to a former associate he was recently seen driving a black Mercedes.

The Bikic-Bijkerk pair are in businesses with Vatche Hagopian, who was jailed in the early 2000s for his second drug supply offence.

On release, Mr Hagopian bought a Seven Hills property that would house up to five Guardian Youth Care children at a time. It is not known how much rent was paid to Mr Hagopian, who ran a company called Guardian AAA Youth Services.

The Seven Hills house was regarded by several youth workers as the worst of the western Sydney properties run by the charity: dilapidated, overcrowded and understaffed.

“Disgusting” was how two former residents described it.

Until February, Mr Hagopian was a director of Guardian Care Properties, a company that lent $500,000 to big-time punter Eddie Hayson in 2013.

Other directors included Mr Bijkerk and two accountants on the charity’s board.

Last year, Mr Bijkerk told Fairfax Media he refinanced a block of flats in Greenacre in Sydney’s west, owned by Guardian Care Properties, to pay for the loan. He was adamant that company had nothing to do with Guardian Youth Care.

Lawyer Stephen Tully said last year: “We are instructed that our client, but for the fact that it may have some common directors, has no association with the entity Guardian Youth Care, which is a not for profit organisation.”

But two former youth workers say the Greenacre property housed children around the time of the Hayson loan.

Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward did not answer questions about the adequacy of her department’s checks.

The Department said the “normal contract management process” uncovered problems with Guardian Youth Care.

Opposition spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk introduced a bill to parliament this week calling for the Auditor-General to be given more powers to inspect government contractors’ spending.

“These reports are very disturbing,” she said. “There needs to be a full forensic audit of the accounts.”

Guardian Youth Care has accused the department of withholding funding for years and allocating dangerous combinations of children to houses.

Mr Bijkerk’s son Dylan, a director of Alpha Support Services, appeared on the Sky News show of former Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson in June, to represent Guardian Youth Care and defend its subcontracting.

“It’s this business model in general that has allowed us to survive the onslaught of what FACS has been continually throwing at us for years,” he said.

Roy Bijkerk, Mr Bikic, Ms Madigan, Mr Clarke and Mr Ella have consistently failed to respond to questions.

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‘Better than video games’: MP wants shooting age lowered

07.13.2019, Comments Off on ‘Better than video games’: MP wants shooting age lowered, 苏州夜生活, by .

Sean Donato is too young to drive, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or vote. Yet the 13-year-old has been using a firearm for a year.
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A year 8 student at St Stanislaus’ College in Bathurst, Sean practises target shooting as well as hunting rabbits, foxes, pigs and goats.

“I’ve learned about safety and responsibility and handling the firearms and all that,” he said. “And I like shooting with my dad and get to spend time with him in the bush, learning about bushcraft, doing camping and cooking, animals and vegetation and all that.”

Sean’s older brother Matthew also has a minor’s permit, which allows children aged 12 and above to use firearms under supervision, although “he’s not so keen, to be honest”, according to their father, Philip Donato, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP for Orange.

But Mr Donato’s party would be “happy” for 10-year-olds to handle guns, and introduce shooting as an elective school subject.

“It’s a healthy family activity,” Mr Donato said. “It’s not gender specific. Going out, spending some time with your family in the outdoors, bonding with your kids, is a fantastic opportunity.

“It’s far better they learn how to use firearms appropriately in that sort of manner as opposed to watching movies and playing video games.”

Sean Donato is one of a rapidly increasing number of children in NSW who hold a minor’s permit to possess and use firearms under the supervision of a firearms licence holder.

A spokeswoman for NSW Police Minister Troy Grant said 7258 minors permits had been issued as of July 29 – 3010 minors permits were issued in 2009-10, according to figures released by NSW Police.

Twelve public high schools in NSW, as well as some independent schools, also offer shooting as a sport for students. Give guns to 10-year-olds

However, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party wants primary school-aged students to be allowed to use firearms – a position also advocated by the NSW division of the Sporting Shooters Association of .

“The current minimum age of 12 years restricts access to the sport and limits the ability of interested minors to develop their skills,” said Diana Melham, the SSAA NSW’s executive director.

Mr Donato’s colleague in the NSW Legislative Council, Robert Borsak, said: “The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party would be happy to see minor’s permits for firearms use to be reduced from 12 years of age to 10 years.”

However, the government is not in favour.

“The NSW Government has no intention of changing the current law regarding the possession and use of firearms under a minor’s permit,” the Police Minister’s spokeswoman said.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said children should not be given access to guns: “We don’t put a 12-year-old behind the wheel of a car and we shouldn’t put a 12-year-old on the trigger of a hunting rifle.”

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Mr Shoebridge said a special firearms permit could be considered for children living in rural areas: “There is scope for considering a special permit for children aged 16 years and above who live on a rural property and require a firearm in the farm work they do, under supervision of their parents.”

Lobby group Gun Control also wants minors permits abolished. GCA chairwoman Samantha Lee criticised what she characterised as the gun lobby’s argument that the use of firearms at a young age makes children more safe.

“To see the flaws in this argument you just have to apply it to driving or cigarette smoking,” she said. “Normalising an action from a young age doesn’t equate to safety, in fact, when it comes to firearms it has the complete opposite effect and provides a false sense of security.”

Ms Lee expressed concern about the potential for school shootings. She said gun ownership in was increasing and “combined with a dismantling of our gun laws and large numbers of guns being stolen from residential homes, there is a concern that will again see a rise in gun violence and young people”.

The GCA website states that minors permits are a breach of the 1996 Port Arthur Firearm Agreement: “This agreement only allows those 18 years and above to possess or own a firearm.”

However, a NSW Police spokesman said minors permits were not in breach of the agreement: “It addresses the age for licences and puts this at 18 years.” He added: “Supervision of minor[s] is strictly enforced by clubs and ranges – parent allows a minor to shoot on their own property under supervision.” Sports shooting in schools

The New England Girls School in Armidale offers target rifle shooting to students aged 12 and over, who compete in the Fiona Reynolds All Schools Match and shoot alongside other mainly private boys’ schools in the Athletic Association of Great Public Schools of NSW Rifle Shooting Premiership.

David Rose, the master-in-charge of the New England Girls’ School Rifle Club, said target rifle shooting was age and gender neutral.

“The sport suits both individual and team inclined individuals, does not require exceptional fitness or eyesight. Indeed most physical disabilities can be accommodated.”

He said the girls enjoyed being part of a traditional n sport “existing in this country about as long as cricket”.

Mr Rose said he believed a permit was “somewhat superfluous” for a shooting range where was already adult supervision and no tolerance of unsafe practices.

“In my experience, I’ve never had a single student not follow the rules, accept advice and generally be safe while developing their shooting skills,” he said. “I’m very comfortable on a range with students from any school we interact with.”

But he said the stringent safety standards on ranges was not always replicated on farms or in private homes. “In reality, kids do go shooting (a) without a permit or (b) with a permit, but no supervising adult.”

Outside of schools, the SSAA runs a “junior development program” for children aged 12 years and above at St Marys Indoor Shooting Centre in western Sydney. The NSW government’s Office of Sport website promotes the Sydney International Shooting Centre, which runs firearms courses for children.

Mr Shoebridge said shooting should not be part of any school curriculum: “With all the possible sports available to children, including ones that actually get children out and about and being physically active, there is no need at all to be giving them guns at school.”

In contrast, Mr Borsak said: “We are in favour of introducing firearms safety training and practical range experience as an approved school elective subject, and note that this is already the case in many schools across New South Wales.”

???Lowering the age for a minor’s permit to 10 would not permit primary schoolchildren to buy a firearm, Mr Borsak said. “A minor’s permit does not authorise the acquisition of firearms, and these can only be acquired, owned and stored by an adult who has both a firearms licence and a permit to acquire the firearm in question – and rightly so.”

Ms Melham said the SSAA NSW supported shooting as a school sport, calling it one of the “safest sporting activities”.

“Shooting is an Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport that requires skill and self-discipline as well as teaching responsibility and respect as a result of its very strong safety culture,” she said. “Participation in the shooting sports also assists in the development of social skills and confidence.” What is a minor’s permit?A child as young as 12 can obtain a minor’s firearms permit in NSW, and most other n jurisdictions. However, Western does not have a specific age limit, while Queensland has a minimum age of 11.A minor’s permit allows a child to possess and use firearms under the personal supervision of a firearms licence holder for the purpose of receiving instruction in the safe use of firearms or competing in shooting events, according to NSW Police. The minor’s permit does not authorise the acquisition of firearms.

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Government’s double standard on here public money ends up

07.13.2019, Comments Off on Government’s double standard on here public money ends up, 苏州夜生活, by .

Bought a block of charity chocolate recently?
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The government has promised new laws to make sure your gold coins actually go to the sick kids and not into the pockets of fraudsters.

But what about the public money the government gives out itself?

Like the $3 billion the Department of Family and Community Services awards each year to not-for-profits meant to care for troubled children or poor old people?

Here, the politicians are not so keen on any extra oversight.

“Trust us” is the message. Even as the government investigates an alleged $20 million misappropriation that took place over four years.

This week, Fair Trading Minister Matt Kean introduced a bill to parliament that would give new powers to retired or current judges of the Supreme, Federal or High courts to investigate suspicious fundraising in special public hearings.

“I want to make sure consumers are put first and know they aren’t being ripped off by shonky operators,” Mr Kean said.

All well and good if you bought a ticket in the chook raffle.

But for money paid in tax for the government to redistribute, it’s another matter.

A parliamentary public accounts committee, including Liberal MPS, had urged the state to adopt “follow the dollar” laws that would allow the Auditor-General to look into how not-for-profits’ spend our money.

In adopting the laws, NSW would catch up with the rest of the country.

But Gladys Berejiklian has rejected the idea.

“In line with the NSW government’s commitment to minimise the administrative burden on service providers, a reporting process that would potentially duplicate existing measures has not been introduced,” a Department of Premier and Cabinet spokesman said.

Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward did not respond when the Herald asked her opinion.

Nor did she respond when asked if she thought her department had adequate processes to keep track of its billions in spending.

Ms Goward’s department insists the “normal contract management process” process led it to discover the alleged misappropriation of $19.6 million by a children’s care charity run by former Wallaby Glen Ella.

But the alleged misdealings – unauthorised transactions with subcontractors linked to former criminals – were only picked up in 2016, four years after they began.

The “detailed analysis of all financial information” FACS conducts each year missed them.

Those same processes also missed the embezzlement of funds by Eman Sharobeem, chief executive of an immigrant women’s health service, who is accused of defrauding the taxpayer over many years.

So the government is left promoting a double standard.

Where members of the public generously give money to groups so they can help the needy, it wants more scrutiny.

Where the money goes into state coffers first, a low level of oversight suits it fine.

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Juggling two or three jobs to make ends meet

07.13.2019, Comments Off on Juggling two or three jobs to make ends meet, 苏州夜生活, by .

Single mother Raya Allan has been juggling three jobs to make ends meet since she was made redundant at the age of 51.
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She is one of 750,000 ns working second or third jobs as result of high underemployment according to the latest n Bureau of Statistics. There has been a 9.2 per cent increase in secondary jobs compared to a 6.8 per cent increase in main jobs for the past three years.

Raya Allan juggles three different jobs to make ends meet. Photo: Paul Jeffers

After nine-and-a-half years in a cleaning job, Ms Allan says she was thanked for her good work, given a glowing reference and dismissed in August last year.

Six months later, only $73 of her redundancy package remained after her regular mortgage payments were deducted from her savings. “I was really struggling,” she said.

Now aged 52, she has two cleaning jobs in Melbourne and does two hours of gardening for three clients every fortnight to supplement her income.

She spends two-and-a-half hours cleaning at a school from Monday to Friday. She has another private cleaning job which gives her an extra 10 hours of work a fortnight.

“I would prefer longer hours but I can’t take on other work because I finish one cleaning job at 1pm and have to be at the school at 3pm,” she said.

“It’s really hard to get a full-time job for the day. So I have had to get three jobs to make ends meet because I’ve got a mortgage and two teenage boys. I’ve always worked hard. I just take whatever I can get.”

Ms Allan says after being made redundant from her job in Ringwood last year she was replaced with another cleaner.

“The only time I missed work was when I had breast cancer treatment. I had the operation in December and went back to work in January, had chemotherapy and radiotherapy and only had one day off after that,” she said.

“I was a permanent part-time which meant that they had pay superannuation and sick leave and holiday pay which I hardly took.

“They didn’t explain why I was made redundant, they just said you did a fantastic job.”

Chris Goodwin with his motorcycle which he uses to deliver Uber Eats around Sydney. Photo: James Alcock

n Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said the growth in second and third jobs was “extremely disturbing and should have every n worker, economist and politician worried”.

“What this shows is that people can no longer survive on a single job,” she said. “Working people are rapidly falling into the new class of working poor.”

Natasha Lay from Youth Action, a peak body for youth services, said casualisation was impacting particularly on young people who were competing for fewer jobs and more hours.

“Young people are having to work two, three, four jobs that are often unstable,” she said. “They need job certainty and job security.”

Alan Oster, chief economist at NAB, said there was more slack in labour market than the 5.9 per cent unemployment rate would imply. The underutilisation rate – the combination of unemployment and underemployment – was much higher at about 14.4 per cent.

“There is a lot of slack in the labour market. In that sort of environment it is hard to get a pay rise,” he said.

“The unemployment and underutilisation rate usually move together. The unemployment rate is falling but the underutilisation rate is not.”

Mr Oster said people were more cautious with their spending because they were feeling less secure in their jobs.

“If you have two part-time jobs you probably feel less secure than if you have one full time job,” he said.

The Reserve Bank of has raised concerns about the high rate of people who would like and are available to work more hours.

In a recent bulletin, it said underemployed workers could dampen wage growth because they offered extra labour supply or may be more concerned about their job security and had less bargaining power to get higher wages.

Chris Goodwin, 48, who lives in Kingsford said he could not afford a mortgage in Sydney.

He has worked at Coles for eight years night-filling groceries and has a second job with Uber Eats. He also works as a landscape gardener but finds the work is seasonal.

“There seems to be more people doing Coles as a second job to supplement their income,” he said.

“I need to work not just Coles but have to supplement my income because I have three older kids and lots of outgoings.

“Coles covers my rent each week basically and Uber Eats helps pay for the bills and food. Not much gets saved.”

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Nicole Helps – with credit card insurance claim

07.13.2019, Comments Off on Nicole Helps – with credit card insurance claim, 苏州夜生活, by .

Hi Nicole,
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Your consumer Q&A is so insightful that Fairfax Media should give you a pay rise (yes dear readers, I’ve been driven to write a letter to myself this week). You remember taking that quick ski trip to America 1.5 years ago to celebrate our husband’s 40th -the one where he already had a respiratory infection then fell, fractured a rib or two, and was compelled to see a US doctor? It was nothing major – he may say otherwise – but we’ve never felt more grateful for Medicare. The GP visit, a puffer and a nasal spray cost some $US500 -and we’ve been trying to claim the comparatively tiny amount on the automatic credit card policy ever since. Beyond the (always involved) initial form, there have been eight subsequent emails and at least four conversations -roughly one a month. Regardless, over and over the insurer sends an identical (automated?) email requesting a $693 invoice for an n hotel stay seven months prior to that holiday. Which you and I have provided, though it’s irrelevant. Help!

Nicole, Sunshine Coast

Hi Nicole, what a great letter! In all seriousness, it’s only that this has gone on so long and become so ludicrous that I’ve been prompted to play the I’m-a-consumer-advocate-in-the-paper card??? after all, I sort with relative ease such issues for readers every week. I also feel ethically obliged to report that action – and the outcome – to you.

Probably unsurprisingly, the insurer has apologised profusely, approved my small claim, waived the excess and apparently tracked the problem to one initial employee error.

Of course, I’m relieved. But for one – input- mistake to cause that much obstruction for a consumer is curious.

Months ago a phone consultant assured me I could ignore the invoice inquisition as it had been erroneously earmarked as my eligibility for the policy. This particular, popular, policy requires you to put $500 per person of flights, accommodation or other holiday expenses on your credit card to automatically qualify for some pretty decent insurance. (As an aside, ixnay on the apres: a big potential trap of such insurance is that it rarely covers you if you’ve been drinking; paid insurance carries much more lenient “intoxicated” exclusions).

Anyway, I’ve repeatedly cited the reference number for that call. I have also asked twice for the claim to be escalated to a superviser receiving in return the word-for-word same demand for the same invoice.

I can’t help but wonder if this really was an innocent system stuff-up or a cynical ploy to get people who are less financially, well, obstinate to give up.

If you’ve had a similarly bonkers experience claiming on automatic credit card insurance, I’d love to hear it. And I’m especially interested in learning which insurer.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is a money educator and consumer advocate: themoneymentorway苏州夜总会招聘. You can write to her for help solving your money problem, or with a consumer question, at [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au.

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