THIS WEEKS FEATURE ARTICLES
All articles are copyright, no reproduction in any format without permission.
If you must use our writers work at least contact us first.
Homelessness and domestic violence
Last week I watched the SBS program Filthy Rich and Homeless.This program provoked a great deal of discussion. It gave some ideas on what causes homelessness, but didn’t go into great depth, possibly because of it being personal, and because it is such a complex issue. It was mentioned that homelessness and domestic violence are linked. Organisations such as the Salvation Army, who work with homeless people, have information on their website which outlines some reasons. They also offer some suggestions on how we can help. Homelessness is a complex issue, with many factors involved. Homelessness can be caused by poverty or unemployment, lack of affordable housing, poor physical or mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, family and relationship breakdown, domestic violence, physical and/or sexual abuse. All these factors can cause a person to become homeless. They can also be one of the reasons why a person remains homeless. For example, drug and alcohol abuse can be both a cause and a result of domestic violence, mental illness or addictions and family instability. One of the plusses of the program was that the makers didn’t try to ‘push the blame on the victim’. The non-judgmental approach leaves the way open for solutions. One thing is for sure: the longer people experience homelessness, the more damage they suffer. One of the people who talked to the participants said: “If you don’t have mental illness when you become homeless, you soon will have.” The comment wasn’t delivered as a victim statement, rather, as a statement of fact. I think that is very sad.
How to help
The participants in the program Filthy Rich and Homeless pointed out that those who lived on the streets felt that they were invisible. According to the people who were interviewed, it made a real difference to them if someone stops and talks, and doesn’t just walk by or doesn’t look away. A kind word is everything. Most people want to help, but don’t know where to start. Giving money is easy. You can stop and give a few dollars, or donate food directly to the person. Or you can become involved with an organisation, by giving practical help or goods which may save a life. The amount of help you give depends on your own conscience, means and ability. There are an extraordinary number of organisations who provide help for the homeless. The Salvation Army, who provide practical help also conduct winter appeals. Swags for the Homeless sells a swag which also gives dignity – when not in use it just looks like a backpack. Another organisation, Kids under Cover is a deeper commitment, by providing accommodation: check out www.kuc.org.au/HowToHelp. If you want to help, there are many organisations, but be assured that homelessness is not a problem confined to the big cities. The solutions may also be found, or begin, at local level.
Last week the Huon Domestic Violence Service announced that it now has a website, which can be found at www.huondomesticviolence.com.au. This means that the service will be more accessible, especially for those living in rural and remote areas who may be experiencing family violence. Funding from the Department of Health and Human Services has helped to develop and implement the website. The Huon Domestic Violence Service is a free and confidential service for anyone affected by family violence in the Huon Valley. They can meet people in their own community or any space where they feel safe. The service aims to support people experiencing family violence with a client-centred approach offering, which can include long and short-term counselling; practical support and referral; and help for people to access other services. They may provide advocacy where needed and appropriate referrals to legal services, housing, safety planning, child and young person’s counselling, and also offer education and training. Community awareness of the service includes resources, such as the Red Flags booklet, which is currently being updated, and the Respect: Give It, Get It booklet for young people. Contact Fiona Barrett, Acting Senior Worker, Huon Domestic Violence Service 6264 2222 or email huondv@netspace.
“Jazz”, according to the Collins Encyclopedia of Music, “is a style of music marked by improvisation, inspired by the uplift of intensely rhythmic playing, and by an individual approach to instrumental and vocal tone and to rhythmic articulation.” DIY music, perhaps? “Improvisation may be total, but to give it a basis a simple framework is often adhered to …” Collins tells us that there can be any number of players in a jazz group, but smaller groups work better than larger, simply because of the improvisation and hence the unpredictability that defines the genre. And finally, “The music should be enjoyed for its rhythm uplift and for the inventiveness and ingenuity of the improvisations.” The Cygnet Jazz Collective seems to embody all of the above, and it’s probably for this very reason that their program for any concert is left fairly open. They are “dedicated to entertaining the audience and having fun”, and they’ll be doing this at the Kettering Hall on July 23 in another cabaret-style gig where good music and good times rule.
Extremes on the music scale
“It is seldom realised that a good jazz musician has a rare talent, and one that takes as much perseverance (and considerably more creative ability) to achieve as does that of a good performer of classical music,” says Collins. Coincidentally, in the past week two musicians from contrasting places in the musical world have appeared on ABC Radio National. Billy Bragg, English singer and songwriter whose output blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs, has launched a new book subtitled ‘How Skiffle Changed the World’. In the days post WWII, when money was tight, musicians grabbed anything they could and turned them into instruments: washboards, strummed to give a drum like effect; tea chests, adapted with the help of a broom handle and string to form a bass ‘boom box’; and bottle caps attached to sticks to create a tambourine-like lagerphone. When the musicians thus equipped combined to make music, with perhaps some more conventional instruments as well, the music they played came to be known as ‘skiffle’. Billy Bragg says that these bands, inspired by blues, jazz and folk music, changed the music scene – including the genres they drew on – and set in place the groundwork for rock and other new music forms that would follow. Many jazz combos still make use of those quaint and surprisingly effective basic instruments. In contrast, Andrew Ford, the ABC’s presenter of The Music Show, is a composer and performer of classical music. Andrew says, “Music doesn’t exist on its own. It needs a listener.” Moreover he says, “Listening is everything in music. The listener makes the music.” He says that people are fascinated by how music works and love to be taken inside a piece of music to see the mechanics. Both these very different music-makers are united in their passion for their work and bringing it to their audiences. The Cygnet Jazz Collective may not (or they may!) make use of washboards and tea chests, but their gig will be an interactive one and a validation of both Bragg’s and Ford’s approaches to playing, listening and participating. There will be plenty of opportunity for their audience to see exactly how the music is produced, how it works, and how the instruments produce the sound they do.
At Kettering five players will form the Collective. Paul Martin, a veteran of the Australian jazz scene, plays sax and clarinet. He was reed player for the late Ian Pearce and has vocalised with all the greats, local and international. The energetic and often unpredictable Brad Madigan plays guitar and vocalises, and ensures there’s never a dull moment when he’s on the bandstand. Malcolm Martin left Chicago more than fifteen years ago to make his home in Australia. He plays trumpet and vocalises. The Collective is completed with Derek Capewell on bass and Paul Svensen on drums. “We play songs you actually know as well as songs you’ll want to remember and tunes that will get stuck in your head for a week. You can sing along and dance along or just sit there and relax, but at the end of the day you’re sure to enjoy yourself,” is their promise to their audience. There’s an extra treat in store, an early ukulele and piano jam session with Wilma and Oliver. They start at 12.30pm, a great start to your musical afternoon, and you might be surprised to discover just who they are. The Cygnet Jazz Collective will be on stage from 2pm until 4.30pm. Under the auspices of the Channel Regional Arts Group, and organised by the Kingborough Lions Club, tickets are $10 at the door. Wine and snacks – Turkish bread and dips from Pasha’s Ferry Road restaurant – will be available. It’s a whole Sunday afternoon of kicking back, listening, enjoying the company and the atmosphere, and making the music yours – and no better way to warm up winter. Phone 6267 4004 for further information.
Tax scams: how to spot them and deal with them
It’s often the case that we see an increase in tax related scams to coincide with the tax return season and this year is no exception. We are already receiving reports from offices across the country of clients who have been contacted by tax scammers, either claiming that the taxpayer is due for a refund and requesting bank account details for their payment or alternatively, demanding payment for a non-existent tax debt. This latter scam is unusual because of the very threatening tone adopted by callers, including threats of almost immediate arrest
Types of tax scams
Different varieties of tax scams have proliferated in recent years. Following are some of the most
The threatening phone call:
This scam appears to be particularly common at present.
Someone calls the taxpayer claiming to be from the ATO and stating that the taxpayer has an outstanding debt which needs to be paid immediately in order to avoid punitive action such as a tax audit, police arrest, visit from the bailiffs, etc. This year, we have seen scammers claiming that they will take a charge over the taxpayers property if they don’t pay the fake debt.
The call is typically from an Australian landline (often an overseas mobile number in disguise) and the caller will usually be pushy or even aggressive. If questioned in any detail about their identity, the caller will often hang-up.
Some recent scams will show up on your phone as originating from a genuine ATO phone number. This is because the scammers take a genuine number and project it into their call ID – a practice known as ‘spoofing’. In fact, when the ATO genuinely calls you, no number will appear on your phone.
The taxpayer is told to make an immediate payment – often with the ‘ATO officer’ still on the phone. This year – bizarrely – we have seen instances where the purported ATO officer demands payment by unconventional means, such as by iTunes cards or gift vouchers.
There have been numerous reports of taxpayers falling prey to this scam. It is essential to be clear that the ATO doesn’t chase debts in this way so any phone call like this is always a scam. Under no circumstances should taxpayers make payments or provide personal or financial details to one of these callers.
The ‘fake refund’ phone call:
This scam, which was widespread some years ago but is less common now, is almost the reverse of the above.
Someone calls the taxpayer claiming to be from the ATO and stating that the taxpayer is owed money by the ATO, possibly a tax refund or some kind of government grant. The taxpayer is told to provide their bank details over the phone to facilitate the payment. Sometimes they are asked to pay a sum of money to a third party in order to get the tax refund.
Again, the ATO never approaches taxpayers in this manner, so such calls are always a scam.
As well as being unsolicited, fake ATO emails will often be poorly written, demonstrating poor spelling and grammar. Taxpayers should not open scam emails and, if they do, on no account should they click on links or attachments.
The ‘fake refund’ email:
A variation on the above, but done by email instead of phone. The taxpayer is often asked to provide credit card details. The email address might look superficially like an ATO email address (eg ato.com.au, rather than ato.gov.au, which is the real
The ‘virus’ email:
The intent of this type of email is different. Instead of getting the taxpayer to pay money or provide personal details, these emails are intended to harm the taxpayer’s computer/phone/tablet.
The form of the email might be very similar to the ‘fake refund’ email, above, but the taxpayer will be encouraged to click on a link or attachment. If they do, their computer or other device will be infected with a virus or malware, which could do anything from slowing the machine down to freezing the computer (effectively, holding the machine hostage for payment of a ransom). The virus may also allow the hacker to access the computer without the taxpayer’s knowledge, putting personal information in jeopardy.
There has recently been a spate of scam emails from the email address ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. Because the ATO domain address was correct, many taxpayers were taken in by this email but it was a scam, containing a virus that was activated by clicking an attachment. Taxpayers should not open emails from this
What to do about tax scams?
The ATO will never cold call about tax matters, they will always send a letter or an SMS first.
For phone scams:
• hang up immediately
• call the ATO’s scam reporting line 1800 008 540 between 8am–6pm EST, Monday
For email scams:
• refrain from clicking on links or opening attachments
• forward the email to
If you have any doubts about whether a caller is genuine or not, you can contact the ATO on 1800 008 540 to verify whether the contact is genuine.
If you have been the victim of a scam
If you have provided a scammer with funds or provided personal details, phone the ATO on 1800 008 540 straight away because your personal details, including your TFN, may be compromised.
You should also contact your bank as soon as possible if you have provided your credit card details as part of the suspected scam.
H&R Block Media Release
Scroll to Top