THE reality is that although there are residential care places with major problems and institutionalised abuse, there are also great and caring places. Jesmond Grove cared for my mother-in-law with dignity and kindness. With a level of cognitive impairment her confusion was often testing to staff, which supported her as needed. Chemical restraints were a last resort when, with a broken hip she tried to stand, endangering herself. Even then these were used to minimal levels. This model of care should be an example to others. The shortages, not of funding but placement in home care and residential care, needs urgently to be addressed. Thanks to the government for putting a six-year implementation time to taking young people out of aged care. The year 2025 could see two changes of government and policy. The real elephant in the room is the massive shortages in mental care facilities. There are no beds, and two successful facilities on the Central Coast have been shut due to funding cuts. People with psychosis are ending up in court, because their illness needs are not met by the system. They become repeat offenders and the public and police and medical emergency staff are left to deal with them. The government's attitude to anyone, from farmers, sick or struggling people is an interesting commentary on Christianity. The Christ I know would be embarrassed. THE Productivity Commission has found that mental illness and suicide cost Australia $180 billion annually, and has called for more and better support. Perhaps a better tactic to address this issue is to look at the causes, especially of suicide, which is increasing in both men and women. The issue of the drought is too big to deal with here. But two other issues need addressing. The first is job security: no longer does any worker have a permanent position. How do they handle this insecurity when they have rent or a mortgage and other commitments. Lose your job and you lose everything. Coupled with this is the incidence of under-employment. Even with three part time jobs it is difficult to maintain a reasonable standard of living. The second is the appalling rate of Newstart. There is no way a single person can pay rent and live on this pittance. Two issues that our current government refuses to even acknowledge, let alone develop some policy and action. IT appears that the female teacher from Swansea High School was attempting to impart some truth about the world at large to her students, in an attempt to protect them from harm ('Students take stand on women's clothing', Newcastle Herald, 29/10). The students - some, or all - rejected her opinion, gained from her years of observation and experience in this real world. The students, and probably everyone else, wish they lived in a perfect world where crime, and crimes against humanity, didn't exist, but this isn't the case. It never was a perfect world, and never will be while humans still exist. There will always be people with different morals and ethics whose standards are below, or even above, your own, who will act in conflict with your own ideas. Women, and men, should be able to go anywhere, at any time, dressed however they like (within the law) without fear of being attacked, but the reality is that with the prevalence of mental health issues, drug use and people with criminal intent all wandering the streets at all times of the day and night, it is simply a matter of fact that women, and men, need to take precautions to protect themselves. If not, you place yourself at risk of becoming another victim that gets unwanted coverage in the media. It appears that this teacher has attempted to provide some real-world truths to her students to prevent them from becoming victims, and been vilified for her care and concern by a group of idealists. The fact that no one in authority has spoken up in support of this teacher shows the sad state of the world, where truth is rejected in preference for fantasy. THE positive bowel test journey: Newcastle vs Noosa Newcastle: Positive test to colonoscopy takes eight weeks. Colonoscopy to surgery takes four weeks. Surgery to chemo takes eight weeks. 1. Notified of positive bowel test 2. Go to GP. Referral to colonoscopy doctor. 3. It takes six to eight weeks to get an appointment to see a specialist in his rooms so he can look at your test results and tell you that you need a colonoscopy ... which you already know - plus a visit fee of around $300. 4. Eight weeks after initial test result notification, hopefully you're getting your colonoscopy. There is a stage 3-4 tumour. You need to see a surgeon. 5. Four weeks later you see the surgeon who schedules you for surgery. 6. Chemo in eight weeks (six weeks is normal post-op wait time). Result: A 20-week journey to chemo. At least one unnecessary doctor visit, wait time, anxiety, money and progression of cancer. Plus other delays. Now your cancer is really taking hold. Good luck. Noosa: Positive test to colonoscopy takes one-two weeks. No office visit with a specialist is required first before colonoscopy. Colonoscopy to surgery takes one-two weeks. Surgery to chemo takes six weeks. Result: 10-week journey to chemo. All this has come to light from my own personal experience. Why in NSW does the specialist have to see you in their rooms first? Answer ... so they can gouge more money for more office visits that are not needed. This is leading to a clog in the system, and part of the reason why the whole system is so inefficient. Greed. I MUST reply to David Stuart's criticism of me in Saturday's paper (Letters, 2/11). Despite the invitation I remained where I was standing in the tram because, on an outward journey, the rear/most door aligns with the Opal reader at Civic. Sorry to introduce a little logic to life in Newcastle. Surely an air-conditioning breakdown on the first hot day of regular operation is worthy of note. And what Novocastrian would miss an opportunity to take a swipe at an organisation which has brought so much transport angst to the region. I do not resile from my point of view. DON'T call me "the whinger" from Newcastle East. But it is three weeks to go to that event and already three people from further out in the suburbs have complained to me that getting into the city, to enjoy the wonderful beaches, to come to a restaurant, to do business, is just too difficult because of the car race works; the rest of you Novocastrians are now starting to whinge. Why do these works have to be installed so long in advance and ruin the attractions of this city for such a long period? IN response to Simon Ruddy's concerns about Newcastle Ocean Baths and the Canoe Pool being a disgrace for visitors (Letters, 1/11). Many agree. However for the foreseeable future he need not worry. Accessing the baths, Foreshore Park, the beaches and surrounding areas has become an impossibility due to the Supercars invasion. Visitors will not be able to comment and they will not be able to visit. SO much for the old rail corridor being green space. How duped we were. Last plot being sold for development. Sorry it's revitalisation. I FEEL for the nursing staff at aged care homes. They try their best with limited resources, get assaulted, abused and have to deal with relatives' complaints; the same relatives who neglect their responsibility and are too busy to give a crap about their parents so pass the buck to someone who gets paid $22 an hour. We all have a used by date, sadly some families treat their parents and grandparents like stale bread. HOW does the saying go, 'whatever is old is new again'? Clearly Mr Morrison is singing from the Joh Bjelke-Petersen government hymn book when it comes to free speech. This too will end in tears. WITH the disastrous wildfires burning out of control in California I was reminded of a holiday there many years ago. It was almost like being at home with the number of eucalyptus trees. Also how many homes, mainly timber, were built in the hills, surrounded by eucalyptus trees. We had experienced back home the devastation the eucalypts could cause, being so combustible. I guess no one could be blamed but sometimes Mother Nature knows best. INTERESTING how healthy roadside trees seem to be. Is there a scientific reason for this? I would like to know if anyone can help. I WOULD like to comment on the positioning of the police breathalyser on Saturday (2/11) which was just north of the Swansea bridge. They had one lane blocked off which caused gridlock all through Swansea, up the Pacific Highway, into Caves Beach and all side streets in Swansea. This would have been impossible for an ambulance or any emergency vehicle to get through. Need to rethink this chaotic mess.