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A travel agency was asked to conduct welfare checks on people in Victoria’s hotel quarantine in the weeks before a man took his own life.

The state’s inquiry into its hotel quarantine program has heard that welfare checks were “not sufficient” and not frequent enough after a man killed himself in the program in mid-April.

Earlier the inquiry was shown a review that said the man did not receive a welfare check until five days into his detention. Another report from 29 April, shown to the inquiry, also said that reviewers were “concerned” that welfare checks were being conducted by unqualified people who worked in a travel agency.

It said: “Team concerned these are not sufficient (only two required across 14 days) they are completed by non-clinical people – either at [health department office at] 50 Lonsdale or via Hello World [travel agency].”

Prof Euan Wallace, the CEO of Safercare Victoria, the organisation which conducted the review, confirmed that Hello World conducted some welfare checks, but defended the practice.

“Hello World had been engaged by the department of health to conduct a series of welfare checks, with pre-approved scripts,” he told the inquiry. He then said they performed “excellently”.

Earlier the inquiry heard that the welfare check team fell behind schedule because “they did not have enough staff to match the required workload”.

The man received only one welfare check in the nine days he was in hotel quarantine before he took his own life.

  1. Support services are available at:
    • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800 (all day, every day)
    • Suicide Callback Service – 1300 659 467 (all day, every day)
    • eHeadspace – 1800 650 890 (9am-1am daily)
    • Lifeline – 13 11 14 (all day, every day. Online support 7pm-4am daily)
    • Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636 (all day, every day. Online support 3pm-midnight every day)
    • In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

The NSW Nationals have withdrawn their support for government legislation over their objections to koala protections, which came into force in March, saying that the Liberals will need “to earn their votes” on legislation, rather than having guaranteed support.

National Party leader and deputy premier, John Barilaro, said his party would abstain from voting on government legislation except when it was legislation that affected the regions or which the Nationals deem important.

Without the Nationals, it will not be possible for the NSW government to pass legislation without support from Labor.

“We will not green light just anything the government puts up,” Barilaro said.




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Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

He said his ministers would continue to attend cabinet and expenditure review committee but would not no longer automatically support the Liberals.

“We are equal partners; we are not a junior partner and we will fight for the regions, “Barilaro said.

The Nationals insist they have not pulled out of the coalition, and its MPs remain on the front bench.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is still to respond to Barilaro’s declaration. Barilaro has ruled out voting with Labor to bring down the government or block supply.

The breakdown in the coalition – at least at a working level – is the most serious crisis to hit Berejiklian’s government at time when she is grappling to keep the coronavirus pandemic under control.

Barilaro said he would not be lectured to by city-centric people over koala protections.

“Today the National party is standing up for regional NSW” he said, adding that the new koala Sepp added more green tape.

There was no “consensus” on who had responsibility for health in Victoria’s hotel quarantine, and it “fundamentally undermined governance and decisions”, an inquiry has heard.

The inquiry has just been shown an email sent by the CEO of Safercare Victoria, Euan Wallace, to a deputy secretary of the health department, Melissa Skillbeck.

Wallace earlier told the inquiry that Safercare had written a series of reviews of the program.

In the email, from 1 May, Wallace wrote that the program was confused over who had “overall responsibility” over detainees.

“The reviews are throwing up a number of issues,” he wrote. “Who is responsible for the quarantined detainees. There is not a consensus on this and a lack of consensus/clarity fundamentally undermines governance and decisions”.

A man who took his own life in hotel quarantine in Victoria did not receive a welfare check until five days into his detention due to a lack of staff, an inquiry has heard.

Victoria’s inquiry into hotel quarantine is continuing today, and has revealed that the man only received one welfare check in nine days before he killed himself.

A review, conducted by Safercare Victoria, found the welfare check team was “unable to undertake welfare check calls to the planned schedule as they did not have enough staff to match the required workload”.

On the day of his death in mid-April, staff made at least five missed calls to the man. However, there was a delay of 24 hours from his last answered call until staff entered his room and found he had died.

The inquiry heard from Prof Euan Wallace, the CEO of Safercare Victoria, who said that nurses called detainees every day to check for their systems, and the welfare checks were a supplementary call.

“The initial plan was they would get a welfare check on day three and day nine,” he said. “By day five he had five phone calls from the nurse.”

The inquiry also heard there were more than 3,000 people in hotel quarantine by mid-April, and the system was set-up “extraordinarily quickly” which contributed to the workload for staff.

Support services are available at:

  • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800 (all day, every day)
  • Suicide Callback Service – 1300 659 467 (all day, every day)
  • eHeadspace – 1800 650 890 (9am-1am daily)
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14 (all day, every day. Online support 7pm-4am daily)
  • Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636 (all day, every day. Online support 3pm-midnight every day)
  • In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

Read the original article at The Guardian

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