Fairgo - For justice and good government



FairGO is often only one of many factors in successful campaigns. This is one reason that every person can influence government. Often we think we are alone, yet in other places, at other times, other people are doing the same sort of thing. Each one reinforces the actions of the other. We do not compete for glory, but complement each other for results. Governments are most influenced by similar action from unrelated people.

In most cases cited below, names have been changed to protect individual privacy.

Cyber bullying
The Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence Act 2007 makes intention to instill fear or physical or mental harm an offence.  The statutory review of the Act is currently being finalised. It is also an offence under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) to use a carriage service to menace, harrass or cause offence to another person.  The Commonwealth Government is looking into online safety and have launched theAustralian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network and established an e-safety Commissioner with the power to issue civil notices to online offenders.

Corruption – much has been done by the NSW Government to tackle corruption. For that we thank our parliament. However, given that members of major political parties have been proven to b e corrupt, it is inconceivable that their colleagues would not have known or suspected what they were doing. Therefore it is impossible for voters to tell which are the honest MPs and which corrupt. Let us voters see how this pans out then vote accordingly at the next election

Respite care on Sydney’s North Shore
The mother of a young man with motor neurones disease asked a Residents Roundtable if it would seek more extensive respite care for young people like her son. The members of the Residents Roundtable sent a Votergram to state Parliament and within a couple of months she was advised that the respite facilities had been expanded to address her concerns.

Provocation defence for murder
This was a staggering example of how the law works to protect criminals rather than victims, because MPs who make the laws often support their criminal friends who want women as their slaves & possessions. After pressure we have seen this defence substantially dumped. We can rarely trust judges, so we will have to wait and see what eventuates, but parliament claims that it will no longer be okay for a guy to kill his wife because she thinks he is a rat and teams up with another man. It was okay for a man to murder because his wife slept with another man, but nobody suggested that it was okay for a woman to slit her husband’s throat with a knife because he slept with another woman.

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Road deaths and injuries reduced
In 1987, following fatal coal truck crashes in NSW, followed a couple of years later by fatal bus crashes, voters were told the road toll was "intractable", i.e. could not be reduced. They commenced a campaign through FairGO to alert politicians to fatal crashes, particularly by heavy vehicles and to request government action against the transport companies, road criminals and incompetent drivers causing the majority of crashes. By 2005 the death toll has been reduced to almost half. FairGO set a new goal to half the toll again by 2015 which would be 4 deaths per 100,000.  After we announced this goal, the government announced its own goal of reducing the toll to 5 per 100,000 by 2012.  The good news is that the toll did infact reduce to that number by 2012. This means that the death toll on NSW roads has been reduced by two-thirds in our road safety initiative. More recently in 2014 the government has accepted our request that safe drivers be rewarded with a discount on license costs.  There is currently a 50%, $33 million "Fair Go for safe drivers" license renewal rebate. The sucess of this road safety initiative should make it clear to all voters that we can achieve what we want if we continually work on it with government.
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Affordable Medicines -

When a pharmacisat from around Taree contacted us to help him have pharmacies allowed to dispense generic medicines which weere cheaper to the brand specified by the doctor we leapt at the opportunity to put price competition into the pharmaceuticall industries and cut health costs for everyone. That man deserved a medal. He did so much for Australians. So we send his message by Votergtram to all Federal Politicians explaining how this would help patients and government. It took little time for the prescription of generic medicines to be ingrained in our health system. FairGO and Votergrams won another victory for an Australian determined to help his fellow Australians.

Another win!! After sending in a votergram request, the Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek has extended the listing of aflibercept (Eylea®), a medicine to treat age-related macular degeneration to existing patients under the Prescribed Benefits Scheme.
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Preschool funding
The federal government will continue to subsidise 15 hours of pre-school for 4 year olds. Thank you to all who campaigned for this to happen.
Once again Votergrams have delivered.
 Read more>>

Warrah provides individualised disability services. When an increase in pay rates for the SACS award forced up costs, the NSW Government said that it would not increase funding. Directors of Warrah approached FairGO for help. They said that as the directors were mostly parents of disabled persons, they could not afford to keep running the facility and bearing personal liability if it went into liquidation which they saw as a distinct possibility. Over a period of time FairGO assisted Warrah executives in submission of budgets to government and investigated the funding agreement between state and federal governments. Simultaneously it assisted the parents in sending Votergrams to every federal and state MP explaining why the two governments should agree on funding the SACS award increase for the benefit of the disabled clients of Warrah. One Votergram was particularly important. It stated that the parents could not have their disabled son at home if Warrah closed, because they were in their 80’s and he in his 60’s. By this message the eyes of politicians were opened to the fact that Warrah did not just care for little children. It cares for much older disabled people, with aged parents.
The upshot was that, as a result of its research into the dispute, FairGO sent its own Votergram into state parliament explaining that under the agreement between the governments, the NSW government was liable to fund the award increase. Soon afterwards the NSW Premier announced that the state Government would increase funding to all disability services affected by the SACS award increase. The directors of Warrah thanked FairGO profusely for saving their facility.

Cerebral Palsy is a terrible disability that frustrates its sufferers enormously

The parents of a young NSW man in his 30’s approached FairGO because he wanted to move from home where his parents attended to his every need, into a home in Canberra. He lived near the ACT/NSW border. However, the parents had long battled the bureaucracy to achieve their son’s wishes. The ACT authorities would not take the young man because he was a NSW resident. The NSW Government would not pay for his care in the ACT because it was not under their authority. FairGO assisted his parents in sending carefully worded Votergrams to both the state and territory urging a compassionate solution for this young man who wished to be with friends in the home in the ACT. Eventually an arrangement was negotiated that achieved exactly what the young man wanted and we could truly say that he received the fair go that he richly deserved.

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Trucking Terror - Another win!! After years of lobbying, through our Roadwatch campaign, for governments to provide a safe workplace for the trucking industry and other road users, the Road Safety Remuneration Act just passed is a major achievement. Politicians have resisted this for so long. Thank you to all those voters who have helped make this possible by sending so many well written Votergrams into Parliament over the years.
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Ski Fields
FairGO helped voters ensure that the NSW Government retains control of leases in the Perisher Range skifields of the NSW Snowy Mountains, rather than granting a Head Lease to a private company which could then have controlled all other leases in the area and even sold out to overseas interests.

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Advocates concerned about the impact of DES

(the anti-miscarriage drug diethylstilboestrol) on women, particularly DES daughters, have successfully campaigned for a link from the Department of Health and Ageing website to the informative US "DES Update".
Advising FairGO of their success, one of their number wrote "I am pleased to let you know that the government has now provided a direct link to the US Website at the A-Z section of the Dept of Health and Ageing website. I thank you and your colleagues for all your help and I have absolutely no doubt that the Votergrams and Vmails jogged this issue along." Carol.  There is much more that the government needs to do on this issue.
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Mental Health funding & recognition
Finally, thanks particularly to the efforts of two dedicated women, mental health reform is on the political agenda. Jean and Dianne sowed the seeds of concern in political minds. They explained in detail, with names, the failures of politicians and neglect of governments to care properly for people with mental illnesses. They constantly advocated better treatment than the gutter or gaol. Into the fertile ground these ladies had prepared so diligently fell a few politicians. Then the message came home. It could afflict politicians too. Now they promise action! This is a start, but it will go nowhere fast unless we keep the pressure up. Join us in this campaign because there is an ongoing need for prevention and treatment.  
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Foster care
Use of votergrams to support Minister Pru Goward to make adoption easier for long term foster carers is producing results.  It is always important for the community to support politicians who are doing what they want. Far too often, voters confine their political involvement to occasions when politicians are not doing what they want. Positive reinforcement is the key to democracy. Read more>>
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Trucking safety
Trucking in Australia is a tricky business. Rigs are expensive to buy and costly to run. When we first began our road safety campaign against truck drivers who were driving their enormous rigs at 140 K/ph or more, swerving from lane to lane because of overloading, tiredness or drugs, killing a lot of other road users, they reacted angrily. When I explained that we wanted them to get home alive to their families too and be able to earn good income driving legally, they turned around and started to help us. Eventually truck drivers made up about a third of the motorists in our "Roadwatch" network. They would phone FairGO to tell us how authorities turned a blind eye to road crime and offered to take me to watch bribes being handed over. I gave that last offer a miss. They would ring and explain the ruthless tactics being employed by major trucking operators, some famous names in Australia, to make truckies drive a return trip instead of taking a break for a sleep. They told us of time requirements like one for 30 hours to cover 3,000 kms when the maximum legal truck speed was 90 k/ph. This average of 100 k/ph was through towns (60K limit), up hills, around corners, toilet and rest breaks included.

Whilst many trucks are still driven unsafely and most in NSW at least break the speed laws most of the time, we have seen a great improvement in what trucking companies require of drivers and in the government's monitoring of trucks.

Another win!! After years of lobbying, through our Roadwatch campaign, for governments to provide a safe workplace for the trucking industry and other road users, the Road Safety Remuneration Act is a major achievement. Politicians have resisted this for so long. Thank you to all those voters who have helped make this possible by sending so many well written Votergrams into Parliament over the years.
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Overcrowding Sydney
Voters campaigned against a government policy designed to turn Sydney into another New York. As if it could have been, even if the people wanted it, but they didn't. The real estate speculators and developers wanted it and paid big money into political party campaign funds to get it. Eventually the government is coming to see that it cannot provide essential services and effective transport for the existing population let alone one 50% larger. Gradually and grudgingly it has moved a little towards development of the whole state instead of only Sydney.  This will relieve Sydneysiders of shocking overcrowding and give rural and regional New South Wales a much needed boost in roads, educational, health and cultural services. With housing and commercial premises costing a tenth or less outside Sydney opportunities abound. Few who move to live in regional or rural NSW ever want to return to Sydney. The battle is far from over, but progress so far has been encouraging.
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School Buildings
Parents at a small town school in the NSW Central West had had enough of stinking hot classrooms for their children whilst public servants and politicians enjoyed climate controlled offices. They phoned FairGO and asked if we could help get some improvement to the temporary classrooms in which their primary aged children were expected to learn the basics before going on to High School.

FairGO worked with the parents to send messages to all politicians telling them of the problem. FairGO helped parents with wording of messages. Then FairGO suggested that the children might also want to let politicians know what it was like in their classrooms during the hot February months at the start of each school year. The children were wonderful, writing brief stories of sweat trickling down their backs and off their foreheads as they tried to do arithmetic. In no time at all, the politicians had persuaded the government to install airconditioning. The children and parents remembered FairGO's rule "always say thank you". They sent in very appreciative Votergrams.

When they needed a new school hall a few years later, they came to FairGO again and it was under way in no time after we had helped them carry their request to politicians.

The Honorary Secretary of the P & C wrote:
"Dear Mr. Bloomfield, I am writing for the P & C to thank you for your ongoing effort in lobbying politicians on our behalf. We have recently received notification that the first stage of our new school building has been funded and is due to commence very shortly. We are sure this has a lot to do with the Votergrams you sent for us. If ever we need this type of assistance again we will be sure to contact you."  M.W. Hon Sec.
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Mental health service stories
Alecia was well enough to start weekend home visits with her husband and children, preparatory to moving back home after successful treatment for a mental illness. However, incredibly, she was told that her hospital bed might not be available when she returned at the end of the weekend. The hospital assured her that she would be given another bed in some hospital, though it might be hundreds of kilometres away. You can imagine how unsettling that was to someone coming through the trauma of a mental illness. Her mother phoned FairGO and we helped her campaign. She explained to politicians that it was better to keep the bed empty over the weekend with the goal of having it permanently empty of this patient and available for someone else, than to keep this patient in it all weekend with little hope of her ever moving home. Eventually politicians persuaded the hospital to see sense and the bed was kept for her. Then she soon moved back home permanently, freeing up her bed.
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More on mental health
Melanie was refused hospital treatment despite being well known to Police and taking very anti-social action like setting fire to a building - only because she was sick and needed psychiatric care. Her mother phoned FairGO after going onto a radio talk-back show and having another person phone in and suggest that she contact us. The mother campaigned with FairGO to get proper hospital treatment for her daughter, which we got. That was followed by rehabilitation. Sadly from that point on there were few avenues though which the government would assist. In NSW many mentally ill people have swapped hospital institutionalisation for prison institutionalisation or life sleeping on the streets as a result of negligent government policies.
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Disability services for carers
When Leith approached FairGO to publicise the booklet "Who cares", we arranged to help her send a Votergram to politicians asking them to read it and do what they could to help. Within 45 minutes of us sending the Votergram by email, she received a response advising that the Shadow Minister had done just what she wanted.
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Disability funding disputes
One of the directors of a home for severely mentally and physically disabled children phoned FairGO. He said extra government funding to the home to cover a SACS award pay increase for staff was being refused by the governments, federal and state. The home faced closure as directors could not take personal responsibility for debts incurred as the law would require if they traded when insolvent. FairGO Director Greg Bloomfield met with directors who said that industry bodies had tried to get the funding, but had failed. The situation was desperate. FairGO took on the job of running a campaign to convince the government to provide the increased funding to cover staff salaries. It worked with executives and parents to help politicians fully understand the work that was being done and the sheer impossibility of some of the children returning home. An example was the 80 year old widow whose mentally disabled son was in his 60's. Politicians now understood what the home did and it was not what they had thought, if they had thought about it at all.

Then Greg studied the legal agreement between the state and federal governments. It did not take him long to discover which government was legally responsible for funding the increase. The "children" were just being used ruthlessly as pawns in a power struggle between parliaments. When FairGO sent a Votergram into parliament revealing which politicians were responsible for the funding, it was provided very quickly. In fact, due to FairGO strategies, the government paid a bit more than they might otherwise have done. This success flowed on to many homes in NSW, assisting hundreds of families. One parent wrote to FairGO from the North Coast:

"Thank you for your great help regarding funding for the school." Jan Wiles.
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Disability care across state borders
Bill, aged 27, has cerebral palsy. A great mind and bad body. He bitterly resented being cared for in every detail by his parents. It was humiliating. The only thing he could do was behave badly, which he did with great vigour. Devastated, his parents eventually phoned FairGO for help. For years they had tried to get him accommodation in the neighbouring state, where his church friends and peers lived and met.

Because he lived in a country town just outside the border of that state, its Government would not give him a funded place in its nearby capital city. However, because the accommodation was in the that state, his own state Government would not pay for his funding either.

It took some months, but eventually, working together, we persuaded the governments to come to an agreement. He was then given suitable accommodation where he was happy. This has also created a sensible precedent for cross-border disability funding in Australia. His father wrote:

"Hi Greg, Bill is being looked after well in his present accommodation, so thanks for all your help." Neville.

He wrote again next Christmas:
"Thank you for everything you have done for us. Bill is going OK and comes home every second weekend." Neville.

The Federal governments proposal for a national disability scheme comes partly in response to these campaigns which have allowed all MPs to become familiar with the realities of disability, which they would not normally confront unless a family member or close friend was affected.  This need to communicate what we want with politicians, applies to every issue of government.
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Hospital closures
When the Government proposed to close hospitals in Sydney's North, worried residents phoned FairGO to help with their campaign to keep them open. The campaign was not very long but they have stayed open!
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Bankers behaving badly
After banks were de-regulated, bankers went on a "selling spree" which continues to the present day. They sold loans to borrowers who had no hope at all of servicing or repaying their loans. Many borrowers contacted us. In one case a bank loaned millions to a borrower with a maximum annual income over the past 10 years of $32,000. The loan required loan repayments and interest of $132,000 p.a. of which there was not the slightest chance in the world. FairGO campaigned in Parliament on behalf of these borrowers, several of whose children committed suicide under pressure from the banks. Eventually by explaining to politicians what banks were really doing - systematically transferring the borrowers' assets to the bank - FairGO had politicians apply enough pressure to banks to have them change many of their predatory tactics. We also had them write off millions of dollars in debts where they had acted illegally, which was often the case.
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Serious violent crime sentencing
Australians were becoming annoyed at judges and governments which seemed to actually encourage crime through lenient sentences and early releases. A campaign was begun through FairGO to ensure that "Life imprisonment" for murder really would mean imprisonment for life. At the same time more appropriate penalties were sought for rape on the basis that they should reflect the suffering caused to the victims and the need to ensure that such behaviour was not repeated by the same offenders.

Happily "Life imprisonment" now does more nearly mean that an offender stays in gaol for life. In addition, sentences given by judges have been lengthened for both murder and rape to provide a greater measure of protection for the community and specific potential victims. A recent rape sentence was 55 years, though the victim still suffers longer. We still need support for campaigns to keep rapists in goal and women safe from the threat of domestic violence. The NSW government has introduced greater cross service support for women threatened by their husband or partners.
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ID card for Australians
When Australians were faced with the prospect of having to carry an ID card through which government could monitor their every movements and perhaps leak that information to commercial or criminal interests, they hammered on FairGO's doors to send Votergrams into parliament. FairGO put on extra staff and executives worked from 4.30 am to 11 pm for weeks sending fruit boxes full of Votergrams into Parliament every day. Parliament House contacted FairGO to ask how long the campaign would run, as four security officers had been diverted to handling and sorting the Votergrams. We replied "as long as it takes to win" and offered to have our computers sort future messages once the ID campaign was over. When Senator John Stone found a flaw in the legislation, politicians were pleased to drop the ID card idea immediately. FairGO then re-programmed its computers to sort all future Votergrams for the Parliament House Post Office, making the job easier for its staff. In passing, we acknowledge the enormous assistance we have received over the years from parliamentary staff in building better communications between politicians and voters.
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