Letters to the Editor | May 17

QUESTIONING PRIVATE USE OF COUNCIL RESOURCES

My writings and general commentary on things council have landed me with two defamation actions since February 2015.

Both actions are now ended and my wife and I much poorer for the experience.

Both actions came from persons within council and were declared as private, so one would expect no council involvement or assistance.

After considering some documentation, I recently questioned the impartiality of council and an independent investigation found that council resources had been used.

I am informed that the penalty of a monetary value was placed on the use of council equipment and consumables and I am informed that an amount was repaid.

I was informed by the investigator that the scope of the investigation was limited by the instructions given to it by council and limited to one party.

I am also informed that information on the matter has been restricted to a select few councillors.   

As a ratepayer, I believe that I have every right to expect that council resources, that I contribute to, will not be used against me or any other ratepayer in private actions by persons within council.

I also have an expectation that all the elected share in what goes on at council.

Neither seems to be the case.

The following is what is asked and remains unanswered.

  • Disclosure of the quantity of already proven usage along with invoice amount and evidence of payment from the limited investigation.
  • Disclosure of any usage of council resources covering the period February 2015 to February 2017. In other words, an investigation not limited by the previous direction from within council.
  • The result of a search of all staff and councillor emails to or from the Sydney based law firm who handled both actions (I provided council with the specific email addresses).
  • The result of a search regarding payments to the same law firm or any of its partners (I provided council with the details).

I do not consider silence from council as appropriate and certainly think that all nine councillors should be privy to happenings within council.

Touie Smith Snr, Yass

THANK EMERGENCY SERVICES HEROES FOR THEIR MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

A brand-new initiative is providing Yass residents a way to recognise and thank their local emergency services workers and volunteers.

Find my Hero Australia has been developed by Emergency Services Health.

Emergency Services Health is Australia’s only private health insurer exclusively for the emergency services community.

We support the mental health and well-being of emergency services workers and volunteers who put their own safety, health and even their lives on the line to protect our people and communities.

By enlisting help from people in the community via social media, our brave men and women can be identified and located.

This will ensure messages of thanks will find their way to those individuals, to make a positive impact on their mental health and well-being.

Giving and receiving thanks has positive impacts for both people who have been rescued or helped, and emergency responders. 

We’ve already seen people be reconnected with their heroes and it’s been valuable experience for all involved.

There is a significant amount of research that shows that being thanked makes people feel valued and aids their future performance of selfless acts.

Gratitude is also linked to reducing depression, better sleep, improving self-esteem, and strengthening our ability to cope with adversity.

Emergency responders are there at our most desperate times.

But it’s often not possible for the people they serve to share their appreciation and thanks in these situations where time and urgency is vital.

Closure can be crucial to ongoing performance, well-being and happiness for emergency responders.

But it’s not always possible to know the outcome of accidents and emergency situations.

Significant emergency and crisis situations, such as major floods and fires, have also shown how giving thanks can be healing for communities. 

Expressing thanks and gratitude offers emotional engagement, whether it’s sharing a thank you message via social media, putting a sign on a road or writing a letter.

Find My Hero Australia will provide a platform online for people from around the country to share their message of thanks, ask the community for help and get the message to the right person or unit.

First responders from different disciplines often rely on each other for support during emergency situations.

This initiative will also provide the platform for workers and volunteers to share their thanks with a colleague or peer.

Emergency services workers and volunteers are firefighters, paramedics, nurses and medical response units, state emergency units, surf lifesavers, flying doctors, and triple-0 operators – to name a few.

They face dangerous situations, horrific accidents, and are relied upon as people’s last line in impossible situations.

  • To find a local hero, or help someone else find theirs, visit the Find my Hero Australia Facebook page at Facebook.com/FindmyHeroAU and use the hashtag #FindmyHeroAU with your story or message of thanks.  

Michael Oertel, chief executive, Emergency Services Health