Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Scandinavia and the Sami people.

December 6, 2018
Image result for sami people
“How might an Indigenous voice to Parliament work? Here’s some ideas from Nordic nations.”
      By Joey Watson and Annabelle Quince for Rear Vision
The Sametinget sits


the right to decide

The aim of the Sami Parliament is to strengthen the political position of the Sami people, paving the way for them to develop their language, culture and society.

The plenary, the highest body in the Sami Parliament, has 39 representatives elected by direct vote from seven constituencies across Norway.

The representatives from the largest Sami party form a governing council and select a president.

Finland and Sweden

While the Norwegian Sami Parliament is the most prominent in Scandinavia, it was not the first.

The Sami political movement was born in Finland after World War Two.



The King Parrot is happy too.

October 18, 2018

IMG_0144King Parrot.PNG

Jeffrey Sachs spelled it out on one of our Q&A TV programmes a couple of weeks ago. Good social conditions and support makes all the difference. Paying liveable incomes to the unemployed, pensioners or the disabled does not cause cultural collapse as is often touted by extreme capitalist leaders. The list of ‘happy countries’ proves that. Our PM and cohorts often cite that giving ‘free’ money makes people avoid work and lazy, encourages decadence as seen by SSM community now demanding wedding cakes. Unbelievable!

Countries that seem to be on top of the happiness scale each year, by and large, are also enjoying social democratic Governments. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Iceland  Finland. They prove that good social conditions improve employment, reduces crime and homelessness. It makes for ‘happiness.’

IMG_0139Bowral garden.JPG


“Based on a global ranking of happiness levels across 156 countries, Finland has claimed the No. 1 spot in this year’s World Happiness Report.

Now in its sixth year, the World Happiness Report is produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

The organization, along with three economists from Columbia University, the University of British Columbia and the London School of Economics’ Center for Economic Performance, created the report using data from the Gallup World Poll to reveal which countries are happy and why.

The report was released on March 14, less than a week before the United Nations celebrates World Happiness Day on March 20.

This year, the United States ranked No. 18 — falling four spots from last year and five from two years ago — “in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse and untreated depression,” according to World Happiness Report co-editor and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs.

Over the past two years, the world’s top 10 happiest countries have remained the same, but have slightly shuffled positions. Through a measurement of happiness and well-being called the “Cantril ladder,” Gallup asked nationally representative populations to value their lives on a scale from 0 to 10, with the worst possible life valued at 0 and the best valued at 10.

The top countries frequently have high values for all six of the key variables that contribute to overall well-being: income (GDP per capita), healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust (absence of corruption) and generosity.”

Going Dutch.

September 19, 2018




“It is the fastest growing organisation in the Netherlands and for three years running has been named the country’s top employer. Not-for-profit organisation Buurtzorg Nederland, founded and developed by community nurses, is transforming home care in the Netherlands and is quickly garnering attention worldwide, including in Australia.

Since its development in 2006, the Buurtzorg or “neighbourhood care” model has attracted the interest of more than 25 countries including the National Health Service in England. Sweden, Japan and the US state of Minnesota have already begun introducing Buurtzorg nurse-led teams in their jurisdictions.

Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda ahead of his keynote address to the Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) National Congress in October, founder and director Jos de Blok said his home care model has been shown to deliver higher quality care at a reduced cost. A 2010 Ernst and Young report said costs per patient were approximately 40 per cent less than comparable home care organisations and surveys have shown that patient satisfaction is the highest in the country.

At the heart of the nurse-led model is client empowerment by making the most of the clients’ existing capabilities, resources and environment and emphasising self management.

“The model is much more focused on self-support and working with high qualified nurses that have skills in coaching and supporting patients to do the things that they are able to do themselves,” Mr de Blok told AAA.

While the costs per hour are higher from employing registered nurses, savings are made through lower overhead costs and a reduction in the overall number of care hours required per client.

Notably, the Dutch approach represents a challenge to the wisdom of low-skill, low cost staffing models which have tended to dominate health and aged care systems in Australia and overseas by demonstrating how a high-skill professional model can deliver greater efficiency.

The model also demonstrates the benefits of handing control over to the nurses that run the service.

Under the model, Buurtzorg nurses form self-organising or autonomous teams that provide a complete range of home care services supported by technology and with minimal administrative oversight. “The nurses organise all the work themselves, so there is no management structure and no hierarchy,” said Mr de Blok. The small teams of up to 12 nurses work in close collaboration with patients, doctors, allied health professionals and informal community networks to support the patient.

The emphasis on continuity of care and patient-centred care strengthens the quality of client-staff relationships and has been shown to improve both patient satisfaction and nursing staff morale.

“We have received a lot of attention from all sides – from politicians, from insurance companies but mostly from nurses themselves. In every region in the country groups of nurses came to ask us if they could start a team themselves in the neighbourhood they worked in, so they resigned at the other organisation and they have come to work for Buurtzorg,” he said.

Since its development Buurtzorg has experienced rapid growth and currently employs more than 8,000 nurses in the Netherlands, working in 700 neighbourhoods caring for palliative care clients, people with dementia and older people with chronic disease.

Mr de Blok said the model is based on World Health Organisation principles on integrated community-based care and is universal in its application. “In the last three to four years we have had interest from people in 25 countries. We have already started an organisation in Asia for Japan, China and Korea and in the US we have a team in Minnesota and a few years ago we started in Sweden.”

Mr de Blok will deliver a keynote address on the Buurtzorg model at the LASA National Congress, which runs 20-22 October at Adelaide Convention Cen”

Treatment of Asylum seekers by Sayomi Ariyawansa

October 2, 2013

UNExtract byimagesCAEF97OG Sayomi Ariyawansa From Future Leaders

Detention-centre advocates tell us that our tough attitude towards “boat people” is a deterrent for others who may consider seeking asylum here. They tell us these people are a burden that we don’t want, and the best way to stop them is to show them that Australia is not an open country and will not accept everyone. However, there is a line between tough and inhumane, a line that is blurred in terms of our refugee policy. Our current system humiliates and psychologically damages innocent people and goes against UN conventions.

There must be a better way to treat this issue, and we should consider the systems in place by other countries. The UN International Refugee Convention requires host countries to treat asylum seekers with dignity and respect while
Australia’s Treatment of Refugees is Unnecessarily Harsh

their claims for asylum are processed. There is increasingly more and more evidence that detention centres hold asylum seekers in conditions harsher than those felt by convicted criminals. After Baxter detention centre held a mentally ill Australia citizen for nine months, an investigation showed the harsh conditions within detention centres. There are beds without mattresses, toilets without doors and showers without curtains. Is this how Australia treats asylum seekers with dignity and respect?

The United Nations Human Rights Commission has said that conditions in Australia’s detention centres are “offensive to human dignity”. Not only are detention centres stripping innocent people of their dignity, there are increasing claims that the harsh condi- tions within the centres are psychologically damaging. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have said that Australia’s detention centres are “worse than prisons” and saw “alarming levels of self-harm”.

Australia is not alone in using detention centres for processing refugees, but its callous treat- ment of refugees within the centres, their harsh conditions and the unnecessary time spent in detention have brought upon much criticism from multitudes of human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International. This criticism apparently has no effect on the Australian Government which continues its appalling treatment of people who seek refuge and acceptance here.

The spirit of the survivors of the most ruthless political regimes is often destroyed by the harsh environment they are placed in. Their resilience is tested, and the psychological damage done makes it extremely difficult for them to rejoin society as healthy, productive citizens. These people can enrich our community greatly, but in order to do so they deserve a fair go.

Detention-centre advocates tell us that detention is neces- sary in order to determine the asylum seeker’s identity. They also believe that detention centres are the best way to deter other arrivals. However, many countries need to deal with asylum seekers, and many of these countries do so with policies that are far more humane and concur with UN conventions.

Sweden is a country that has a policy that Australia should consider. If asylum seekers arrive in Sweden without appropriate documentation, they are placed in a detention centre. Their stay in the detention centre does not exceed six months and children may not be detained longer than six days. The detention centres in Sweden do not resort to barbed-wire fences, and all detainees have full access to legal advice, counselling and have the right to appeal their being held in detention. Asylum seekers are only required to remain in deten- tion centres for the time it takes to ascertain their identities and not the entire procedure.

Once their identities are confirmed they are released into Refugee Reception Housing or move in with friends whilst they await the decision. The Swedish system allows for all proper processing, ensuring national security as well as maintaining the asylum seeker’s right to being treated with dignity and respect. This is in comparison to many genuine refugees held in detentions centres for several years in Australia, regardless of their age. Asylum seekers are virtually stripped of their basic human rights, and do not have access to legal advice. Australia can learn from the Swedish policy.

Borgen :11 out of 10

May 30, 2013


Borgen; 11 out of 10.

You can’t go past a good series of Danish TV. Not long ago we had ‘The Bridge’ and ‘The Killing’, which I believe was a Swedish-Danish Co-production. It was riveting TV watching and we were counting the days when it would be on again. The pepper-crackers would be out and the Stilton cheese with the Shiraz brought to room temperature together with my ear-phones. Those earphones were superfluous. The series were translated in English sub-titles but I wanted to hear the Danish language. Dutch and Danish are brother languages, (or sisters for the pc readers of this blog).

What makes these series so extraordinary is the ordinariness of it all. The prime minister lives in a modest house with the dishes piling up at an overflowing kitchen bench top, husband walking around in his singlet and their children wanting to eat Coco-pops for breakfast. She goes to work on a pushbike without wearing a helmet, and seems to have no security concerns. Husband of the PM and mother of their two children seem to have the best of a most normal of functional marriage. The odd thing is, in most of the Northern European governments, the Borgen treatment of PMs (and their royal families), it is not that far removed from reality.

The TV show apparently was difficult to obtain in the US with claims by competing commercial TV stations of piracy. I believe in California people can now see the series legally. It seems that the differences of political systems and the holders of power between the US and Denmark were seen as almost un-transferable in a TV series and, that at least in the US ‘normality of politics’ is hardly ever residing in a world of being ‘normal’. No president would go to the White-House on a bicycle and would probably have to go through numerous security cycles to just buy his wife a bunch of flowers.

The Danish TV drama shows how the PM can remain herself despite having risen to the highest office. She remains cool and normal and the series is not blown up in grandiosity like so many American dramas such as West-Wing, Homeland, and House of Cards. There are no lines of limousines or black-clad security lurking on roof tops with machine guns at the ready or hovering gun-ships overhead. No one is seen talking into their sleeves or wear Polaroid sunglasses.

The Danish way on thorny issues and legislations are resolved or passed with the parties sitting around the table sipping coffee and making sensible compromises within minutes. The Danes have a serious addiction to caffeine. What I would not give for our Australian politicians to behave like that!

We had just about given up on TV watching when Borgen rose up like Phoenix from ashes, none too late. The urgings of funeral insurances advertisements and the manic laughter of so many comedy trailers got us so depressed our intake of Stilton with Shiraz almost doubled. True, the kept us going but soon waned when most of people restlessly searching for their ancestors ended up teary and overwrought when it was found out, their great, great, great, great grandfather had succumbed to whoring and a dose of the clap with blindness to dear Aunty Betty at birth in 1789 in Yorkshire to have been a result of all that.

We soon came to switching off the telly and just sat amongst the crackers and cheese, talked or did the after dinner washing up instead.  Not anymore now though. Another five days and Borgen will be on again.

There is hope for all of us now.

Go, buy some good cheese and watch “Borgen.”

Dutch News. “Us and Them.”

November 10, 2012

Annemarie van Gaal: Developing countries

Thursday 08 November 2012

Developing countries are catching up fast. Development aid can be more of a hindrance than a help, writes Annemarie van Gaal

We are cutting the development aid budget by €1bn a year and this is a good thing. The inequality in the world is no longer a matter of ‘us’, the industrialised world, and ‘them’, the third-world countries. Inequality is mainly a problem within the countries themselves and throwing money at it is not going to solve it. If anything, it will make it worse.

In 1990 the Dutch gave massively to ‘Help the Russians through the winter’, as the slogan had it. We were bombarded daily with images of desperate Russians in empty shops, shivering children and long queues outside soup kitchens. Sonja Barend hosted a programme from a shabby little studio in Moscow and the Dutch donated generously. The whole thing was a great success and the Russians were ‘saved’.

Free market

In fact, there was no lack of food in Russia. The only problem the country was struggling with was its rapid development. Russia was emerging from a communist regime and had trouble adapting to the free market. Under communism, goods were produced and trucks trundled back and forth according to a fixed route. Nobody asked whether the goods were actually answering a demand or whether the trucks were going to the right place.

Moreover, Russian officials had no intention of giving up their comfortable positions, so they preferred to keep the food-laden trucks waiting at customs for weeks instead of promoting a quicker flow. The real problem was a lack of compassion from the haves for the have nots, the division of wealth and the inequality between the different layers of Russian society itself. No amount of money was going to solve that.


On Hans Rosling, one of the founders of Doctors without borders, compares our perception of third world countries with the reality on the ground. According to Rosling, third world countries are catching up fast. Some differences remain but these countries are developing at a much quicker rate than any western country.

He supports his comment with a graph showing child mortality on the y-axis and the gross national product on the x-axis. If you look at these data over time you will see that third world countries are gaining rapidly on the industrialised countries.

A century ago the gap between a country like Chile and the United States and Western Europe was huge. Right now, Chile’s economic welfare level is comparable to that of the US in 1957. But because the Chilean economy is growing at a faster rate than that of the US, Chile could well be replacing the US on Gosling’s graph in twenty or thirty years’ time. Ghana is now where Sweden was in 1900. In 1920 Sweden was where Egypt is now and in 1950 the Swedish economy was at the level Mexico is at right now.


Former third world countries in Asia, the Middle East and South America already have better healthcare systems than the industrialised nations. It won’t be long before they beat us economically as well

Rosling thinks the term ‘third world countries’ should be scrapped. If we didn’t hold them back by handing over our money – which ends up lining the wrong pockets and keeps the wrong people in power -these countries would develop a damn sight more quickly than many a western country. The greatest problem that these countries have to tackle is the difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’ within their own borders.

Annematie van Gaal is head of publishing company AM Meda. She is also a writer and television personality


IKEA aided by the generous sprinkling of the humble Umlaut

July 18, 2012

We had heard rumors that IKEA at Tempe near the airport was magic. Friends of ours told us via Face-book they had bought an entire kitchen there. He had loaded up his large SUV vehicle with 6 trolleys of flat-packs and that it even included the hexagonal Allen key. He confessed he was exhausted afterwards. It had been a big day.

We needed a lamp shade after having bought one from Aldi. The Aldi lamp shade came also in a flat pack and with a tiny Allen key as well. It was made of stainless steel tubing that would slide into one and other to form the stand. On the picture it showed a lovely curved shade that would, because of its curved steel tubing and shape, hover over the reader and his or her book while its stand was modestly kept behind the chair or, as in our case, behind the comfy settee. After assembly on the carpeted floor it looked a bit strange and the curve was far greater than anticipated. Also, because of the canter-levered construction, the lamp would totter and hesitate, could hardly keep itself upright and threaten to topple over at any moment. To counter this, I put a small piece of wood under the stand. It now tilted the opposite way.  After looking at it for a few weeks we thought it was too ridiculous. Hence our plan to visit that Mecca of interiors, the IKEA store at Tempe and buy a ‘good’ one. It would be Swedish and therefore good.

We left Bowral on a bright sunny day. We had driven past this IKEA some months before and had even flown over it. You could not miss its blue and yellow, so sternly Swedish with hints of Ingmar Berman’s ‘seven seals’. The position is perfect on a busy highway and right next to the airport. The import of flat packs (from China) could almost be parachuted right to the front door or even onto the roof. The over- flying aircraft are so close you can see the rivets in their metal coverings and stroppy standing passengers hauling their luggage from the over-head compartments.

When going to its entrance one is already greeted by the first umlauts and strange Swedenised Anglo words. The shopper softens up, bulging with pride being introduced to a foreign language.  After entering a massive cathedral like entrance space we half expected a moody Max Von Sydow to greet us. No such luck though.

There were young girls handing out oversize and brightly coloured yellow bags. The large bag had us stumped. What was this for? We felt a bit silly. We noticed everyone going up the elevator all had those large empty yellow bags. Surely it would not be possible to put a bed or chair in it. Once upstairs we joined a throng of other shoppers going through a vast maze like area of endless beds, settees and completely fitted out rooms with a décor of items all ladled with umlauted names and price tags. There was so much of it, a dizzying choice. I felt overcome but noticed many of the comfy chairs had already been taken up by elderly people like myself, overcome and freaked out. (With and umlaut)

We shuffled on hoping to see a suitable lamp stand. At what price a well lit reading enjoyment? This Tempe IKEA is so large and so full of Sweden and its China produced umlauted articles, it must be tempting not to book the hotel next door and take a couple of weeks to see it all.

With dehydration setting in and a spell of agoraphobia we needed to make a quick resolution. Out! Of course with the planes roaring overhead ever thirty seconds or so counter blasted with equally loud music, many shoppers just get on with the business of filling those yellow bags. It transpired there are many kinds of objects that one is tempted to buy. Tea-light candles for example. Two hundred for just $ 4.99. Who can resist? Put them in the bag. Packets of Swedish tissues or napkins put them in the bag. Tea-pots with a name dual vowelled and umlauted; in the bag!  Swedish embroidered shopping bags, 6 for $ 19.90; in the yellow bag!

We found, after an exhausting two hours our lampshade, all in a small flat pack; in the yellow bag. We made it to the exit, emptied our yellow bag. I noticed IKEA catered for the exhausted shopper. There was a huge eating area. They were selling frankfurters on a roll for just one $1.-

I was dragged away. Back to Bowral. I sat on the carpet and assembled our new shade stand. Perfect! Thank you Sweden. (China)

Free range Chooks. It’s a Con.

May 29, 2012

Dodgy Chook Numbers ( How to get hoodwinked by “Free range Market”)

Things are hardly ever what they appear to be, especially not in the world of shopping, and in particular, in the world of egg buying. A few nights ago we were jolted into the reality of animal cruelty when a program on chooks and their environs was presented on the TV.

It proved to be an amazing world of deceit, cunning, and hoodwinking of you, the customer. If you thought that buying ‘free range’ eggs made you into a person caring for the welfare of the Rhode-Island Reds, think again. Unlike in the EU where the term ‘free range’ means a minimum of 4sq metres of open space per chicken and a mandatory supply of greenery. Here ‘free range’ can be even more cruel and horrific than caged birds.

The European Union regulates marketing standards for egg farming which specifies the following (cumulative) minimum conditions for the free-range method:

■hens have continuous daytime access to open-air runs, except in the case of temporary restrictions imposed by veterinary authorities, ■the open-air runs to which hens have access is mainly covered with vegetation and not used for other purposes except for orchards, woodland and livestock grazing if the latter is authorized by the competent authorities, ■the open-air runs must at least satisfy the conditions specified in Article 4(1)(3)(b)(ii) of Directive 1999/74/EC whereby the maximum stocking density is not greater than 2500 hens per hectare of ground available to the hens or one hen per 4m2 at all times and the runs are not extending beyond a radius of 150 m from the nearest pophole of the building; an extension of up to 350 m from the nearest pophole of the building is permissible provided that a sufficient number of shelters and drinking troughs within the meaning of that provision are evenly distributed throughout the whole open-air run with at least four shelters per hectare.[

Free range. It is different in Australia where there seems to be an open slather on deceiving customers into thinking that free range eggs, which are often 2 to 3 times the price of caged eggs, are somehow produced by happy chickens, freely cavorting and picking their food from open grassy fields. Those EU standards are certainly not applied here. The latest regulation now allows a staggering 20 000 chickens per Ha (10 000 sq Metres). That is one chicken per half a sq M. This in effect raises their stress levels to such an extent it results in cannibalism. No worries, the chooks are then de-beaked which was shown to be done by the young pullets putting their beaks into a feeding tube. Instead of getting feed, they get instantly de-beaked. Footage was shown of the young pullets with bleeding beaks.

If you thought the Australian Egg board would be keen to improve conditions for the poor chooks or at least comply with EU standards, think again. A quick scan through the list of directors reads like the who’s who of some of the largest ‘free range’ operators, egg marketers and producers.

Hardly a bunch of unbiased, independent operators keen on improving the lot for chickens. Their main aim is to improve profits not kindness to chooks.

In Sweden, where else, caged eggs have been banned. In many other European countries, main supermarkets, including Aldi, do not stock caged eggs anymore. Al least the ‘free range’ eggs have the legislative back up of a maximum of 2500 chooks per Ha. How come, after so much publicity of late about the plight of chooks, this hasn’t been implemented here? It makes one wonder if the caged eggs are not a better and more ethical deal here after all.

I hope Tony Abbott is not behind all this. He is such a ‘free marketeer’, anything is possible. It’s all such a rort, isn’t it?

Please sign the petition.

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