Australian Politics 2022-07-16 13:25:00


Face of Australia's rental crisis: Single mum-of-two breaks down as she opens up on being left homeless after her landlord evicted her and she was rejected from 300 properties

One obviously sympathizes with the woman below but, as a single mother, she will always be at the bottom of the list of prospective tenants. Single mothers often have money problems and that too often leads to defaults in paying rent. No agent worth his salt would let to a single mother when other applicants were available.

So single mothers should be top priority for welfare housing. The goverment can afford to take a monetary hit. Private landlords usually will not

One also wonders where the father of the childre is in all this. She had two of them so it must have been a relationship of some duration. If he is in employment he could offer a rental guarantee, which agents would view very favourably

A single mum is at breaking point after two months of living and sleeping in her car with her two teenage sons.

Danni Cox, 45, became homeless for the first time in her life when she was evicted from her rental property in Beenleigh, south of Brisbane, after being told the landlord was planning to renovate and sell up.

Ms Cox and her sons Zach, 15 and Jordan, 12, spent the first few weeks living in a caravan, which was battered by wild weather.

They spent a brief stint in a motel until it became unaffordable and now spend each night parked in friends' driveways.

Adding to the frustration is that their old home has remained vacant ever since they moved out in May.

Ms Cox has applied for more than 300 properties in recent months without any luck, despite her perfect rental history and references from previous landlords.

She told Daily Mail Australia the dire situation is now taking a heavy toll on the family physically, emotionally and financially.

'The situation has gone beyond desperate, we can't be homeless for any longer,' she said.

'Homelessness is no longer a viable option. My youngest son is half-deaf and autistic, so he's not coping at all at the moment, which is heartbreaking to see.

'I have friends' places where we sleep in their driveways. There's one park in the area where you can stay for three nights but then have to move on, so we've done that a few times.'

Currently on a disability pension, Ms Cox is so desperate she underwent training as a traffic controller and is in the process of finding work to boost her chances of getting a roof under her family's head.

'I've always been a great tenant and have never defaulted on rent or bills,' she said.

'I've never been homeless in my life and set myself up to be very independent.

'I tick all the boxes and haven't done anything wrong. The real estate agents and landlords who get back to me say there's nothing wrong with my application, it's just than other applicants were more successful.

'There's no reason to be homeless, which makes it harder to accept.'

Ms Cox spends anything from $50 and $100 on food and fuel each day while sleeping in the car each night is 'cold, cramped and horrible'.

'It's easier having a roof over your head as you can budget from week to week,' she said.

But being homeless, you have to pay your way everywhere you go. There are some days where we don't have any money.'

Her former home, where she lived for five years remains vacant. She believes the real estate agent used the owners' potential plans as an excuse to re-lease the property at a much higher rent.

'I was absolutely mortified but at the end of the day, it's the owners' decision,' she said.

'It's tenants who lose out. We've been looking at units as we've been pushed out of houses.'

The thought of the desperate lengths she has gone to get out of the dire situation brings Ms Cox to tears.

'I've slept nights in my car in the park as there has been nowhere else,' she told 7News.

'I've rang the Homeless Line and asked is there anywhere for me to go with my boys, they're here with me crying and we need somewhere now and they've said 'no, nothing','

Ms Cox is among almost 32,000 Queensland families on the social housing register, where there's a two-year wait.

The list has grown by 78 per cent in the last four years.

The Queensland government this week vowed to review the social housing register following the release of a scathing report by Auditor-General Brendan Worrall.

The report found the state government had failed to build enough homes, keep an accurate waiting list and manage existing stock.

Of the 30,000 families waiting for social housing, it's estimated almost 12,000 will still be on the list in three years time.


AstraZeneca saved most lives despite public’s fears

New research shows that AstraZeneca is the jab that saved the most lives last year, with the data showing the alarm that gripped the state over the vaccine was unfounded.

Infectious disease expert Paul Griffin said that mistakes were made when then chief health officer Jeannette Young warned Queenslanders under 40 not to have the jab due to deaths from blood clotting.

The clotting side-effects were rare with only two to three people in every 100,000.

“I don’t want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got Covid, probably wouldn’t die. We have had very few deaths due to Covid in Australia in people under the age of 50 and wouldn’t it be terrible that our first 18-year-old in Queensland who dies related to this pandemic, died because of the vaccine,” Ms Young said in August.

Prof Griffin said that lessons could be learned that any comments made to the public about vaccinations can have a huge impact.

“What was said came from a place of concern but it did instil fear into Queenslanders about the vaccine. The new data shows that the vaccine was very efficient in what it was designed for and that was to save masses of lives,” Prof Griffin said.

The University of Oxford’s AstraZeneca was the first vaccine over the line in the race to protect the world from the deadly virus and was the first to be rolled out to elderly Queenslanders.

The new data released by Airfinity, a London-based data firm, shows AstraZeneca saved 6.3 million lives globally followed by Pfizer which saved 5.9 million. The findings build on a study last month estimating that all vaccines saved about 20 million lives in the first year of the campaign, more than half of them in wealthier countries.

Airfinity said the AstraZeneca shot went first to older-age groups in high-income counties and nations with more vulnerable healthcare systems. The firm reported that Sinovac and Moderna vaccines saved two million and 1.7 million lives respectively.


Crisis on campus as student discontent rises by degrees

University cost-cutting is driving dissatisfaction among students as staff shedding and the shift to online teaching compromise academic achievement.

Students paying to study a degree have little recourse if they’re unhappy with the calibre of their education. Car buyers have more consumer rights than the students who fork out tens of thousands of dollars in tuition fees to institutions that effectively make and adjudicate their own rules.

National Union of Students president Georgie Beatty laments that many universities have failed to reinstate the face-to-face lessons that were standard before the Covid-19 pandemic forced courses online.

“The quality of education has gotten to the stage where it’s considered completely acceptable for you to pay $3000 for a subject and have to sit in a Zoom class with 40 other kids,” Beatty told Inquirer.

“We’re hearing so many stories of academic quality going down across the board. But there is no quality control and no protection or complaints mechanism in place, so we have to deal with a crap education. We are helpless in the face of these mighty vice-chancellors.”

Australian car buyers have consumer rights entitling them to a repair, replacement or refund if a new car is faulty. But what can students do if the university degree they’re paying for falls short of the quality or experience that was promised?

Beatty is concerned that the federal government’s Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency has not held a meeting of its student advisory board since April last year. “TEQSA says they care about students but their student advisory board hasn’t met for nearly a year and a half,” she says.

“They’re meant to keep universities accountable but they’re not doing it.”

As the agency that registers higher education providers and approves their courses, TEQSA fobs off most student complaints. “If you are unhappy about aspects of your experience with a higher education provider, you should access the policies and procedures they have established to resolve complaints,” its website states.

University students lodged just more than half the 289 complaints with TEQSA last year. The biggest issues involved online course delivery during the pandemic, the inadequacy of universities’ complaints handling processes and a failure to follow published admission policies.

“TEQSA is not a complaints resolution body and typically does not have a role in addressing individual complainants’ requests or grievances,’’ a TEQSA spokesman told Inquirer.

“Academic quality and student wellbeing and safety continue to be compliance priorities for TEQSA, and we will take action where we consider there are systemic issues or failures. This action may include informal resolutions, warning letters, enforceable undertakings, conditions on registration, revocation of registration or civil or criminal sanctions.”

TEQSA’s latest compliance report reveals it finalised only one investigation and 43 compliance assessments last year while imposing conditions on 47 course providers and negotiating 19 voluntary undertakings. “The most common Covid-19 related concern was in relation to … teaching and courses, including quality of online delivery,” the report states. For half of those complaints, “we decided it was approp­riate to bring the concern to the providers’ attention to inform their internal quality assurance and make improvements where appropriate”.

A four-year cycle of complaints at Central Queensland University relating to its sonography degree highlights the difficulties faced by students who were dismissed as “disgruntled”. CQU offers the nation’s only degree in sonography, costing students $8017 in the first year alone. It has 601 students in Brisbane, Mackay, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth who must complete 2000 hours of clinical placement during the four-year degree.

CQU began fielding gripes about the course in 2017, when 34 students signed a complaint sent to the university’s student ombudsman. However, it took three more years for CQU to acknowledge this as a formal complaint. In the meantime, one of the students complained about an assessment to the Queensland Ombudsman, which liaised with CQU and arranged for her to re-sit an exam in 2018.

Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading fielded a complaint from the same student last year, seeking a refund of her course fees. The OFT tried to conciliate. “Unfortunately, they weren’t willing to give you a refund,” an official wrote to the student. “The OFT cannot force a trader to give you a refund. Unfortunately, this means I am unable to assist you any further and your complaint will be closed.”

A former student complained to Fair Trading NSW that the course “has extremely high and unacceptable failure rates that show the service they provide is completely inadequate”. She was told university degrees were “not its jurisdiction”.

CQU waited until last year to launch an internal investigation, after what it described as a “spiral” in complaints from students ranging from fail rates and assessment issues to staff communication and industry placement problems.

The investigation was conducted by the school of health, medical and applied sciences, which CQU told Inquirer was “independent from the medical sonography academic team”.


Australian researchers join the race for a vaccine that deals with all Covid variants in ONE SHOT - and it's almost ready for human trials

A super vaccine designed to smash all Covid variants is in the works with the aim of starting human clinical trials early next year.

A team of scientists from Sydney University are mixing together different Covid mutations to find one jab with the best immunity and combat the need for people to receive multiple vaccines at different times.

The scientists' hopes are to create a multi-layered jab so proficient in its 'long-lasting immunity' that it would be doled out to recipients every two years.

It could make the need for boosters an outdated concept at a time where most Aussies are getting their fourth jab in 12 months for best immunity.

University of Sydney virologist Dr Megan Steain told News Corp the variants that are infecting Aussies now are slipping past immunity protection provided by the present generation of vaccines.

'Currently what we are seeing with the Covid-19 pandemic is we are getting a rapid emergence of new variants that have partially escaped some of the immunity, which in generated from our current vaccines,' Dr Steain said.

'Our aim is to generate an immunity that will protect us from all possible variants that arise in the future to limit that immune escape.'

The researchers' goals are part of a race between 12 different teams in the world to create the first multi-effective jab of its kind.

A USA team from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research has already started the first human clinical trials for multiple coronaviruses.

Israel is trying to produce a vaccine to target different variants in a pill form that dissolves in the mouth.

The research is crucial as vaccine companies are struggling to keep up with the ever-changing variants that are putting up a fight to get past immunity in humans.

Moderna and Pfizer made vaccines for the original Omicron variant earlier this year, yet before they finished trials the variant had mutated into two new robust forms.

Dr Steain said it was not feasible for vaccine makers to continue along this route, emphasising the need for a jab that targets all potential emerging variants in the future.

Another group of Aussie researchers also have a similar plan underway at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research [WIMR] in Sydney.

They are building on a separate 'T-cell' vaccine that enhances immunity when it is given alongside other Covid jabs.

It aims to prolong the duration of regular Covid vaccines in the human body by producing more of the T-cells needed to create antibodies.

When a Covid booster is put into the body it creates two things - antibodies and T-cells - and they fight in tandem to ward off the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which creates the Covid-19 disease.

As antibodies diminish in potency over time, T-cells pick up the slack by creating more antibodies rapidly when infection occurs.

WIMR founder and infectious diseases expert Professor Tony Cunningham told Access News last November the booster has a multi-pronged approach to tackle mutations.

'We're trying to develop a booster that doesn't require changing every time a new variant comes along, it can be used for just simply all variants,' Professor Cunningham said.

But public health physician Dr Robert Grenfell said making the multi-impact vaccine was no walk in the park as efforts to do the same with the influenza jab have failed.

'Believe me, there's been a lot of work done on it and it's been it's been fraught with failure. But that certainly doesn't mean we give up on it with regards to coronavirus,' he told The Courier-Mail.