20 March 2008

Call Centre Employment, UCMS vs. Salesforce

Call Centre employment is not exactly rocket science, nor is it a prestigious position.

When one asks the question what the general public perceive when the word call centre is mentioned, quite often annoying phone calls, India, telemarketing, surveys are the words that easily come into mind.

Call Centres are quite often outsourced where cheap labour is abundant, e.g. overseas, or in more cases than not, specific to a few ethnic groups. Places like Foxtel, Virgin, Telstra all rely on this service. These companies are usually serviced by external agencies, UCMS and Salesforce.com.au, are just two used in this comparison.

An interview process at say UCMS, may include a group introduction of an approximate 50 candidates. They are prepped and hyped up like little school children, with modern upbeat music, together with a front person who’s fake enthusiasm is a see through as glass. Once the candidates fill in their details, the heard is then broken up into groups of four and interviewed by a staff member of the agency. This process is relatively quick, as you only have to hear three other candidates reasons for becoming an ‘aspirational’ at a Call Centre.

An interview process at Salesforce follows the initial blueprint for induction. In this instance there were approximately 12 candidates. A group interview was also carried out, but in this case it was done with the one recruiter. All of the individuals were present, and had to listen to each others employment histories, and the reason why they should be chose for a Call Centre employee. All in all a waste of two hours listening to verbal drivel why each candidate should be enlisted for a fulfilling career with boundless opportunities at a Call Centre.

A poorly managed employment procedure was in place at Salesforce, where cost cutting was clearly evident, and the time of the candidate treated as a last priority.

18 March 2008

Greek court orders Mokbel's extradition

A Greek court has ordered convicted drugs trafficker Tony Mokbel to return to Australia to face a string of criminal charges, including two of murder.

After a lengthy legal battle, judges at the Supreme Court in Athens granted Australia's request for Mokbel's extradition.

However the final decision on whether Mokbel returns to Melbourne still has to be made by Greece's justice minister, which could take several weeks.

Mokbel's legal team could also appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

The 43-year-old was arrested in Athens last June after fleeing Australia in early 2006 while on trial for cocaine trafficking.

He was convicted in absentia and sentenced to a minimum nine years jail.

Australian police want him returned so he can serve his time behind bars.

He also has been charged in Australia with the murders of Melbourne underworld figure Lewis Moran and drug dealer Michael Marshall and is accused of a string of other drug offences.

Mokbel was flanked by security guards and his lawyers when the court handed down its decision, with his girlfriend Danielle McGuire sitting in the back row.

Following the brief hearing, Mokbel said: "It was always going to be a tough hearing."

As he was being led back to the cells below the court building, he had a brief reunion with his baby daughter, Renate, who he kissed on the cheek and said: "I love you, babe."

Mokbel then told reporters he did not believe he could ever get a fair trial in Australia.

"You will get a fair trial anywhere (except Australia), you would probably get a fairer trial for me in Indonesia."

ninemsn, 18 March, 2008

17 March 2008

More human graves may be at Manson ranch

Forensic investigators have found possible evidence of decades-old human graves at a derelict compound where mass-murderer Charles Manson once hid.

Recent tests carried out by officials indicate there are two likely clandestine grave sites at Barker Ranch in Death Valley National Park — one of several hide-outs used by Manson and his followers.

A dog trained to sniff out decomposing human remains sat down on the ground and quivered when it was let loose on the property, an indication it sensed a human grave, the Associated Press reports.

Equipment used to detect fluorinated hydrocarbon compounds — one of 400 chemicals emitted from decomposing bodies — also beeped consistently during the search.

Further testing will be carried out by the team, which is made up of anthropologists, lab researchers and cadaver dogs, because of the promising initial results.

One of Manson’s followers Susan Atkins once boasted to her cell mate that there were "three people out in the desert that they done in." Manson was the mastermind behind a series of brutal murders that occurred in the US in the 1960s.

He is currently serving a lifetime prison sentence.

ninemsn, 17 Mar 2008

Dying for a tan

As the latest government skin cancer campaign gets underway, it seems sun-lovers are finally getting the message.

Shock tactics
What the government is telling us in its latest 'shock' campaign is nothing new — we've been hearing the same life-saving slip, slop, slap message for years — but what is new are the tactics.

The campaign's latest slogan, 'Don't let your time out in the sun catch up with you', is accompanied by graphic images that are designed to scare. So while their core message remains the same — skin cancer is preventable, as long as we make smart choices when we're out in the sun — the gore-worthy images and hard-hitting words aim to finally make sun-lovers cover up.

And with over 15,000 deaths in Australia each year attributed to skin cancer, it's no wonder that the Cancer Council says encouraging people to adopt multiple sun-saving behaviour as the norm is at the top of their list, as is warning young Australians of the risks of prolonged sun exposure.

What many people, especially young Aussies, don't realise is that even without sunburn prolonged sun exposure can cause:

  • skin damage
  • skin cancer
  • premature ageing

Tanning trend
Phase two of the no-holds-barred campaign is targeted at the 13-24-year age group, as they are the least likely to use adequate protection and the most likely to get sunburnt. Recent focus group research done for the Cancer Council in February reinforces this claim, revealing that adolescent girls believe having a tan increases their popularity.

''Girls were aware of the risks of tanning, but they said if they got skin cancer they could have it cut out'', says the Cancer Council's SunSmart manager Kylie Strong. ''They found it hard to believe [skin cancer] could be fatal''.

The latest public awareness campaign's main purpose is to reinforce the fact that young people are vulnerable to life-threatening skin cancers. In fact, melanoma is the 10th most common cause of cancer death in Australia.

Sunless celebs
Some of Hollywood's hottest stars have ditched their coconut oil in favour of a broad-rimmed hat and SPF30+. Leading the way is the sun-smart Victoria Beckham, who has adopted some skin-saving habits since relocating to sunny LA.

''Since moving to California I've realised how important it is to practice safe sun for myself and my boys, '' says the Posh mum-of-three, who has now joined forces with designer Marc Jacobs to raise awareness. Along with other A-listers Heidi Klum, Eva Mendes and Joss Stone, Victoria has posed nude on a series of T-shirts that will be sold to raise money for skin cancer research.

Slip, slop, slap ... and sip
Covering up and wearing sunscreen are the obvious ways to protect against the sun's harmful rays, but a recent study from researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey has found that caffeine also protects against the effects of UV-B radiation, which can lead to cancer.

Unlike sunscreen, which protects the skin by preventing it from absorbing UV rays, caffeine prevents the sun's rays from causing genetic changes in the skin that can then lead to skin cancer. It does this by selectively causing abnormal cells to kill themselves.

Be sun-smart
Don't become another statistic, and don't just rely on your morning coffee to save your skin from the sun's piercing rays. Instead make covering up from the sun part of your daily routine by following these simple steps:

  • Seek shade when out in the sun
  • Wear protective clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible
  • Wear a broad-rimmed hat that shades your face and neck
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses
  • Apply SPF30+ broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen every two hours.

ninemsn, Laura Mappas, February 27, 2008

THE BUTCHER OF BEGA: Australia’s worst medical disaster

This week on the SUNDAY program, the latest on our exclusive investigation that has been followed up by media across the World.

When we broadcast our story on the so-called ‘Butcher of Bega’ – Graeme Stephen Reeves – two weeks ago we had our suspicions that there were more than the eight victims of whom we knew.

But nothing prepared us for the enormity of the response.

At least 500 separate complaints from individual victims have now been logged by Lorraine Long’s Medical Error Action Group website – and many more are still flooding in.

Many of those alleged victims are now speaking to us and other media and we are following up their disturbing and harrowing allegations.

Women allege their genitals were mutilated during surgery by Reeves; that he masturbated them while purporting to do an examination; and that he performed surgery – removing tissue without consent. The scale of what is alleged is mindboggling.

“I think it’s the worst medical disaster in Australia,” Lorraine Long tells SUNDAY.

As Lorraine tells SUNDAY exclusively in today’s emotional and revealing interview, there are even allegations by more than one woman that Reeves sterilised them without their consent.

“Without their knowledge. Months later the patient went back to their doctor and said ‘Oh I haven’t had my periods and we want to have another baby’. So she went to another specialist and went to a fertility clinic where they did an ultrasound and they said ‘You don’t have a womb’,” Lorraine Long says.

As Mrs Long comments: “There’s nothing more destroying to a woman than doing that to them.”

SUNDAY also reports on the political, bureaucratic and Police response to a scandal in our health system. We also ask – who else knew about Reeves, how many more doctors like him are there, and what can be done to stop this from ever happening again?

If you have information on a dodgy doctor whom you would like investigated or if you would like help from Lorraine Long’s Medical Error Action Group then go to their new website at:


Teachers flee blackboard jungle

School teachers are being assaulted with chairs, knives and fists while some are even having guns held to their heads, records reveal.

NSW teachers filed 252 reports of assault or serious threats to their safety between September 2006 and August 2007 with 102 claims for physical assault, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Incident documents released by the Department of Education and Training show teachers are regularly threatened with firearms and other weapons by students, parents and intruders.

The reports show fears for teacher safety make up nearly one-third of reports of school disruptions.

Among the dossier of violence against teachers is the case of a Year Seven student holding “a silver automatic pistol" to a teacher's head for more than one minute after he was stopped playing football.

Police found the gun was a "realistic" imitation — but the teacher was unaware of this at the time.

The student was arrested and charged with assault and use of a prohibited weapon.

In another case, a female Year 12 student allegedly drove her car at her principal, forcing him to jump to safety.

The reports also show children as young as five are exhibiting mental health problems, forcing schools to call in specialist teams.

A kindergarten student at a primary school in southern NSW allegedly tried to "trash" the classroom and as the teacher went to close the door he was hit in the back of the head by a chair, the report said.

The teacher required physiotherapy after the attack.

The Department of Education said it was spending $144 million on developing strategies to deal with "challenging students", including courses for teachers on how to handle assault.

msn, 17 Mar, 2008