Monthly Archives: February 2014

Wentworth-JFR food outlet under investigation for Salmonella poisoning

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Allegations of food poisoning have been made against a food outlet in the Wentworth-Jane Foss Russell Building area, prompting an investigation by local authorities. Ada Lee reports.

In the last week of January during university holidays, professors, employees, and students have reportedly gotten stomach sicknesses after consuming meals from the same food outlet on campus.

The food outlet in question has now been reported to authorities. The Sydney Local Health District (LHD) and NSW Food Authority are currently investigating the “likely cause” of 12 confirmed cases and six suspected cases of Salmonella infection, according to a Sydney LHD spokesperson.

USU CEO, Andrew Woodward, informed Honi Soit that the investigation has found Salmonella bacteria in one of the ingredients used in food preparation at the store. “However, we are awaiting confirmation that the strain of salmonella found in the cases matches the salmonella found in the [ingredient name omitted] served by [shop name omitted].”

Salmonellosis is a form of gastroenteritis caused when Salmonella bacteria are ingested. Symptoms include diarrhoea (which may contain blood or mucous), fever, headache, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and dehydration.

Alex Mouzone, third-year, mature age, B. PESS student, spent almost a week in hospital suffering from salmonellosis. Mouzone believes his illness was caused by his lunch from the Wentworth-Jane Foss Russell area on Friday, 24 January. The next week, the outlet stopped selling the item Mouzone bought in response to requests from the USU.

After lunch, Mouzone returned to work. He had salad, a cheese wrap and chips for dinner before heading to Newtown to watch the Federer versus Nadal Australian Open semi-final. Around 8pm, he was drinking his second beer when he started to feel a stomach ache. Symptoms of salmonellosis usually occur six to 72 hours after ingesting the bacteria.

Mouzone went home, where he experienced “the worst stomach cramps I’ve ever had”. “Basically, when that match was going on, I was just getting progressively sicker”, he said.

Mouzone spent Friday night at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. On Saturday, he stayed home and saw a home-visit doctor. “I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink”, he said.

From Sunday to Thursday, Mouzone was admitted into Concord Hospital where they discovered he had salmonella infection. They put him in an isolated room to contain the infection and fed him fluids through an IV drip.

The accused shop has been a USU tenant (distinct from a USU outlet) for 20 years. When assessing a store’s suitability for tenancy, an external, professional leasing agency looks at food safety history, business practice and customer service. “Based on the check, their 20 year association with the USU and their popularity with the campus community, [shop name omitted] was assessed as an appropriate tenant at each opportunity, i.e. at lease origination and lease renewal,” said Woodward.

“To our best knowledge this is the first time there has been a complaint made against [the shop].”

All tenants serving food are also subject to regular inspections by the NSW Food Authority.

If the store is found guilty in the current investigation, the Authority may choose from a range of enforcement policies to use against the offender such as verbal and written warnings, correction action requests, penalties, prosecution, publication of names and if serious, action against Food Authority licenses.

As the investigation is ongoing, the food outlet’s owner has declined to comment.

* The Sydney Local Health District spoke to Honi Soit on the condition that the food outlet remains unnamed until the allegations are confirmed.

Published in Honi Soit, 10 February 2014.

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New arrest laws legalise poor policing according to legal expert

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Two months before Barry O’Farrell announced the ‘one punch’ laws, he passed a different law that expands police powers to arrest without warrant. Like the ‘one punch’ laws, the arrest laws have been met with controversy, with some South Sydney community groups fearing the expanded arrest powers will reduce in-depth investigation and leave vulnerable people more exposed to abuse.

Passed November 27 last year, the amended section 99 of the Law Enforcement (Power and Responsibility) Act 2002 gives new legal justifications for arresting without a warrant: to stop a person from fleeing, to inquire about the identity of the person, to obtain property in possession of the person connected to the offence, to preserve the safety and welfare of any person and “because of the nature and seriousness of the offence.”

According to the Government, the new arrest laws work to clarify the law and prevent criminals from escaping conviction and suing police for false imprisonment.

Premier Barry O’Farrell said, “There is evidence criminals were using the lack of clarity around arrest powers as a loophole to escape conviction and in some instances sue police for large payouts.”

However, the amendment will encourage lower quality policing according to Redfern Legal Centre’s (RLC) Police Powers Solicitor, David Porter.

“Poor police work has become lawful”, said Mr Porter, who does not believe the change was necessary. He said that experienced police officers knew how to use existing laws to make necessary arrests – most problems came from inexperienced officers who needed better training. “Instead, what the Government’s doing here is creating a usual scenario where you don’t need that much evidence to arrest someone and so you don’t get into a daily habit of conducting investigation”, he said.

Now community members fear how the expanded powers and alleged potential for lower policing standards will impact on the most vulnerable, who may be unable to access legal aid.

RLC often assists people who have had “traumatic experiences” in police custody. “We regularly deal with people with mental health issues or intellectual disabilities who haven’t been believed that they have a condition”, Mr Porter said. He highlighted young people, Aboriginal people and people with mental health issues –all classified as “vulnerable persons” in the legislation – as those for whom custody is a particularly “bad experience”. “That’s why it has been so traditionally important for hundreds of years to use arrest as a power of last resort”. The increased powers instead “make the default position arrest then investigate”, he said.

With these wider police powers come heightened fears of police abuse. “And whilst the vast majority of police won’t abuse their position, it is well documented that there are those who do”, said Michael Shreenan, Executive Officer of the Factory Community Centre, an organisation that assists public housing tenants. “Often abuse occurs against the most vulnerable members of our community, who are seen as an easy target, have limited access to legal support and may not be in a position to defend themselves against wrongful arrests”. “There is a legitimate fear that the new powers could be used habitually”, he said.

Protection against racism may also suffer according to Ray Jackson, President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association. “The racism that is endemic in the police forces of Australia will only be enhanced by these lazy laws”, he said.

Mr Porter, Mr Shreenan and Mr Jackson all recognised the importance that police are adequately equipped to prevent crime, but said it must be achieved through better training and regular supervision from police commanders over their officers. The new law is “the easy and less costly way out” according to Mr Jackson.

It is now for the courts to construe the legislation, particularly the ground upon which a police officer may arrest without a warrant if the officer is “satisfied that the arrest is reasonably necessary” “because of the nature and seriousness of the offence”. RLC’s Mr Porter believes this basis of arrest is inadequately vague. “What on earth does that mean?” he said. “There’s no guidance given in the legislation”

“There will be argument over what the test actually now means and whether the police officer has become the only judge of what is reasonably necessary. That is in conflict with previous decisions of courts in Australia including the High Court”, Mr Porter said.

Published in the South Sydney Herald, February 2014.

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Local crowned International Student of the Year

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When 22 year-old Leticia Cabral Satiro Luiz first came to Australia from Brazil to study at the University of Sydney (USYD), she was excited to meet people of all different nations. It’s this enthusiasm that led to her being crowned the NSW International Student of 2013.

Leticia comes from a small rural town called Oliveira in Brazil. She left there when she was 16 years old to go to a selective school in the city before starting a mechanical engineering degree at Universidade Estadual de Campinas. In July 2012, she received a Science Without Borders scholarship and left Brazil to study engineering in Australia.

Upon arriving, language was the most difficult hurdle. “I used to be a good communicator but when I got here I couldn’t talk to people,” she said. “You can’t understand what a person is saying. It’s very frustrating.”

She also recalled reluctance and shyness among other international students to cross cultural boundaries. “Many people have a strong tendency to stay with other people from their own nationality,” she said. But she persisted in trying to bring different cultures together.

She began giving speeches and leading forums at the Centre for English Teaching USYD (CET), encouraging students to join extracurricular activities and meet people from different countries. “When you get to know people from other cultures, it’s adding to yourself because it’s something different, something that you don’t know,” she said. “You don’t know much about your own culture until you compare your culture with something else.”

In 2012, she helped organise a talent show for CET’s annual awards ceremony, showcasing acts like Chinese folk dancing and a pipa music performance. She also volunteered for Engineers Without Borders early 2013, assisting in an event that encouraged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students to consider a career in engineering.

She was rewarded for all her work on October 10 last year when StudyNSW and the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet presented her with the NSW International Student of the Year Award in the English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students category.

USYD Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Carlin, says CET nominated Leticia for her ongoing commitment to building stronger student communities and her leadership skills in creating opportunities for international students to meet and integrate with Australian students.

Leticia said her experience in Australia has been “life changing”, enabling her to develop public speaking skills, empathy for other nationalities and a better understanding of worldwide education systems. Returning home late February, Leticia is now hoping to share what she’s learnt of Australia’s “good educational system” in order to improve Brazil’s own system.

 

Published in the South Sydney Herald, February 2014.

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