The system is broken. Our leaders must fix it.

Credit:Illustration: Jim Palvidis

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The system is broken. Our leaders must fix it.

I was an emergency patient last Monday afternoon. Drifting in and out of consciousness after a heavy fall, I waited an hour and a half for an ambulance. I know this because a wonderful trainee nurse who found me at the scene told me in the days that followed.

This is not a criticism of the ambos. They too are wonderful. Having taken me to Box Hill Hospital, they must wait and wait. Sometimes an hour, maybe four hours or more, they wait until the overworked medical staff are able to admit the patient into the hospital. I saw this at my discharge – a corridor full of new arrivals on trolleys, with attendant ambos … waiting.

I spent one night in the hospital. Desperate in the “wee” small hours, I was unable to get help as there were not enough staff. I had to use a take away coffee cup. (My recommendation: always buy the large coffee.)

Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, we are all treated the same in an emergency. And the system is not working as it should. Anthony Albanese, Daniel Andrews, fix this mess now. We do not need another freeway. I am grateful to the trainee nurse, and others who found me, the ambos and the hospital’s medical staff. My biggest fear is that the best of them will get burnt out, brassed off, and quit a noble profession for which they are eminently suited.
Alan Boltman, Blackburn South

Desperate shortage of accommodation for homeless

I would much rather the state government had spent its advertising budget of $147.3million last year (The Age, 30/6) on affordable housing. Imagine being homeless in the current weather conditions.
Chris Rhodes, Gisborne

The right move, despite the council’s hyperbole

As a local resident, I support Moreland City Council’s decision to change its name to Merri-bek (The Age, 30/6) but I am bemused by its claim that “the community clearly backed Merri-bek in a survey, with 59 per cent in favour”.

Mayor Mark Riley says it was “the biggest response the council had received to community engagement and endorsed its decision to drop the Moreland name”. However, according to your article, there were only 6315 votes on the issue. There are about 100,000 voters in Moreland. How do 0.06per cent of the voters equal “the community” or even more vaguely “people”? This is “community engagement”? It is, rather, ridiculous hyperbole.
Lyle Stebbing, Brunswick East

Melbourne, take a leaf from Copenhagen’s book

The Tour de France commences today in Copenhagen. Almost all of this time trial is being run on streets with separated bike lanes, the type that the City of Melbourne has put on hold.

As a result, half the population of Copenhagen rides a bike to work, school or the shops on a daily basis. It is their primary means of transport because cycling is quick, cheap and safe.Watch the coverage of the Tour de France and think, perhaps we should be rolling out these lanes in more places too.
David Blom, Nunawading

Ministerial appointment and lack of transparency

A definite own goal by Daniel Andrews in appointing Lizzie Blandthorn as Planning Minister when her brother is a prominent lobbyist for major development, construction and infrastructure clients (The Age, 29/6). It is possible that the siblings will never discuss planning but who will ever know? There is an obvious lack of transparency at play here.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

At last, new ministry reflects who we really are

It is a step forward to see a ministry which is more representative of the community (The Age, 28/6). The appointment of Jacinta Allen, only the second woman in Victorian history to hold the position of deputy premier, and the inclusion of Victoria’s first two openly gay ministers, Harriet Shing and Steve Dimopoulos, is a beacon to those who struggle to see themselves represented and validated in all facets of society.
Betty Alexander, Caulfield


Reports from the heart

I would like to commend your journalists, Anthony Galloway and Kate Geraghty, for their reports from Ukraine. These reports provide an insight into what everyday life is like for the “ordinary person in the street”.

When I read them, I relate to “the smoke and the smell of burnt flesh”, “Yekaterina Volkova still trapped in her destroyed apartment after her child was rescued” and “an hour later, they carried Volkova out on a stretcher” (The Age, 28/6).

Reading empathetic reporting like this, I feel the pain of the people at war. I have not abandoned them.
Bev Davis, Leopold

Irrelevance of religion

The census’ results demonstrate that we are divesting ourselves of religious constraints and religion at a galloping pace. It is interesting to see the “religion apologists” offering many and varied explanations as to why this is so, but being unable to accept that the primitive and medieval tenets of religion have no worthwhile place in the 21st century.

Excusing the failure of religion with references to “wonderful charitable organisations” and “god’s love to protect the poor and defenceless” might have been quite successful even last century but does not cut it, especially now that knowledge and communication enlightens the majority. Religions will continue to claim tenuous relevance even in the face of disintegrating support.
Mark Bennett, Manifold Heights

A foundation for life

Less than half of Australians identify as Christians, according to the census. The public downfall of high-profile leaders, and the failure of Christian churches to protect children and take responsibility for abuse, must be factors in this decline.

But the history of Jesus of Nazareth has not changed. His words, his life and the accounts of his return to life after his public execution remain well-documented. No other ancient historical figure is as well authenticated, or as influential.

While academics research and debate “the search for the historical Jesus”, everyday Christians research the question, “what on earth did Jesus say?” They can test his claim that his teaching provides a reliable foundation for a life that will survive the storms which challenge us.
Geoff Francis, Doncaster East

Defining who I am now

I was born Irish Catholic of parents who were also Irish Catholic. I was educated in Catholic boys schools and married in a Catholic Church. I even marched with my school on St Patrick’s Day to salute Archbishop Daniel Mannix, with top hat, sitting in his Roller at the bottom of the State Parliament House steps in Spring Street.

I am no longer a Catholic but an atheist. On any census form inquiring about my religious beliefs I put simply: cultural Catholic.
Brian Sanaghan, West Preston

Ignore religious lobbying

It is good to learn from the latest census that 39per cent of Australians no long espouse any religion, up from 30per cent in 2016 and almost double the 22per cent a decade ago. Could this mean that, as of now, governments will resist the lobbying and stop using our taxes to support religious organisations and institutions?
Rosemary Kiss, Rippleside

When ‘passed’ is better

For many, saying someone has passed away (Letters, 30/6) has nothing to do with “heaven” and “hell” but is simply a gentler way of speaking about death. Not everyone is ready for the black-and-white language of life and death at that time it occurs.

In a secular way, too, it is softer. The more transitional language can refer to the evaporating of a person’s character and personality into the ether or reference their legacy, acknowledging that as they lived there was more to them than their physical body alone.

Either way, it is not up to us to attempt to dictate from beyond the grave how others should act or speak upon our deaths as if, oddly, we do in some way live on.
Emma Borghesi, Rye

The steps to ’passing’

I am afraid I don’t accept the premise of your correspondent regarding the usage of died/dead/passed and any relation to the recent census data and religiosity. As a non-religious person, it is clear to me that if someone is no longer alive then they have died and are now dead.

On the other hand, I have read reports of persons arrested on suspicion of smuggling drugs by way of swallowing small quantities of them, carefully wrapped inside condoms. Apparently they are typically remanded in cells with minimum facilities until such time as they have passed.
Tony Gerard, Warragul

The gist of the question

John Tait (Letters, 30/6) says the census needs to go beyond asking what religion one is and also ask “whether we actually practise”. May I suggest we cut to the chase. Do you think there is reliable evidence that an interventionist God is true and real? Yes. No. Not sure. Won’t answer.
Mark Cherny, Caulfield North

The union’s lost battle

I support NSW’s teachers union for striking for a better pay deal. Far superior to the agreement struck by Victoria’s teachers union (2 per cent) which, given rising inflation, effectively gave hardworking teachers a pay cut.

I see teachers who are new to the job leaving due to the poor pay and conditions, and a teacher shortage. The overload of expectations is crippling. After 45 years of teaching, I resign – not from teaching, but from a union that did not fight for a better deal.
Julie Campbell, Reservoir

Our mysterious station

Actually, Southern Cross Station does not exist. As someone quite famous once said, it is an enigma atop a step ladder, hidden in a dark basement; a mouse-cage shrouded by a grey blanket. There is no platform B or C: these are just ruses. Nor is there a view of the Southern Cross. For believers, a simple way to improve the station would be to remove the roof. At least the sky would be visible.
Claude Miller, Castlemaine

Supporting aged care

Aged care providers cannot keep putting their hands out for additional government subsidies. Labor went to the election with a five-point plan for aged care that included improving financial transparency. We need to be confident that our taxes are spent on providing care for older people, not sports cars for executives.
Sarah Russell, Mount Martha

Our need to be vigilant

As a Boomer, I remember the fear of unwanted pregnancy. When we were young women, there was no reliable contraception and abortion was illegal in Australia.

It was brave campaigners like Bertram and Jo Wainer who fought against relentless opposition to change legislation for provision of abortion services in Melbourne and eventually the rest of Australia. Also, a single male senator held our parliament to ransom for years, stopping the option of a medical abortion by banning the RU486 pill.

Even hard-fought-for reforms that allow women to have control of their own lives and bodies can be taken away, as in the US, if we are not vigilant. This is about freedom and saving lives – lives of women.
Yvonne Hunter, Armstrong Creek

Let the lawmakers decide

A correspondent drew similarities between the US Supreme Court and the Taliban with respect to attitudes to women’s rights (Letters, 30/6) but the problem really lies with the US legislatures that defer to a well-organised minority movement.

In Roe versus Wade, the court struck down Texas’s abortion laws on the basis that they were unconstitutional, in that they contravened a right to privacy that was implied by constitutional guarantees of liberty. The decision was based on a legal interpretation of the Constitution; a contrary interpretation would not necessarily imply a lack of good faith.

I strongly support women’s rights with regard to abortion, and I acknowledge the flaws in the US political system, but the matter is better left to democratically elected lawmakers than to interpreters of the Constitution. The people ultimately get the system and the politicians that they deserve.
Brian Kilday, Jeeralang Junction

When labels are also slurs

Generational branding is so 20th century. The labels Baby Boomer, Generation X, Millennials etc are now being used as a slur. Worse, they are a distraction from the real issues for which age or generation is irrelevant.

And they are loved by people who make an art form of division. It is time that commentators who use those terms when discussing social, economic, climate and any other policy I can think focused on what really matters.
Brandon Mack, Deepdene

The reforms we need

Now that the Millennial population is about to overtake the Boomer population in Australia, it is time we get on with the essential economic reforms that Bill Shorten tried to introduce at the 2019 federal election.
Jeff Langdon, Smythesdale

Danger of complacency

COVID-19 is still causing deaths. As an 88-year-old, I felt quite vulnerable travelling in the crowded compartment of a train where only about half the passengers were wearing face masks. I imagine that if the same ratio applied to the wearing of seat belts in cars, the government may take some action.
Keith Tupper, Macleod

Time for a bit of help

As the Kangaroos sink further into AFL woes, it is Kangaroo greats Wayne Carey and Emma Kearney who sit at the bottom of The Age’s footy tipping ladder (Sport, 30/6). Perhaps Geoff Walsh, who is conducting a review of the club, could help out here too.
Leo Doyle, Bundoora

Will Nick ever learn?

It is well past time for Nick Kyrgios to be banned from one or two grand slam tournaments because of his unsportsmanlike behaviour.
Brian Morley, Donvale



Nick Kyrgios, to gain respect you need to: earn it, give it and then, maybe, you’ll get it in return.
Susan Merrick, Dingley Village

It’s a shame Nick has become “famous” for his bad behaviour instead of his obvious tennis talent.
David Ginsbourg, East Bentleigh

Kyrgios’ daily schedule: Forehand – check. Backhand – check. Serve – check. Self-reflection – skip that.
Jerome Otton, South Melbourne

Serena, I’m sorry for your loss.
Dawn Evans, Geelong

Tom Stewart: four weeks for bumping. No doubt head butters will receive similar sentences. Let’s hope the “I’m tough” side of the game disappears.
Bruce Dudon, Woodend


With less than 50 per cent of the population calling themselves Christian, surely it’s time to cancel Christmas and Easter.
Kristen Hurley, Seaholme

Maybe the census could say: tick yes if you are superstitious.
Murray Bowes, Koroit

The reason so many people marked “no religion” was because Australian Rules wasn’t one of the religious options offered.
Brian Kidd, Mount Waverley


Our leaders said, “We will live with COVID”. Oops, did they mean die with it? Take a look at the figures for May and June.
Geoffrey Lane, Mornington

The Twelve: finally, a local television production that depicts the diversity and true fabric of Australia’s population.
Vivienne Fry, Beaumaris

Could Victoria’s Minister for Major Events turn his mind to the ambulance crisis and bypass the press conference spin?
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

Yes, Roshena Campbell (27/6), why throw money at childcare but give no incentive to parents engaging with their children at home? You can’t outsource parenting.
Jeremy Van Langenberg, Darley

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