The banana has emerged as the fruit that best represents the ACT. Critics of this choice observe that bananas don't grow in Canberra but decision makers regard perceptions and image as much more important than fact and accuracy.
The banana is a simple fruit: it is bent and it is yellow with frequent black spots. Apparently, these characteristics make the banana the ideal symbol for the ACT.
Information in the ACT is often bent like a banana. For example, submissions from the public to committee inquiries are edited before they are published. A recent Freedom of Information response from the ACT Legislative Assembly showed that the Committee Members themselves were responsible since only their internal processes are protected under the Act.
The Committee removed at least one graphic picture of an injury that a teenager with severe disabilties sustained in ACT Government respite factility before the submission was published. A recent reponse to a Freedom of Information request showed that the editing is protected under the ACT as it was in the hands of the Committee members who are politicians from each of the three political parties in the Legislative Assembly.
The Committee's report on respite entitled Love has its Limits, like the Auditor's report before it, ignored "a level 8 incident" (official language for a death such as the death of Jack Sullivan, a young man who was severely disabled by autism) in a respite service funded by the ACT Government.
Like the Auditor and the Committee, the Coroner investigating Jack's death did not investigate:
- the circumstances that lead immediately to Jack's death;
- why Jack was put fatally at risk respite in a respite service when concerns about safety were raised, then "lost" or ignored;
- how the ACT DHCS managed to lose multiple copies of the email that raised concerns (the one official who gave evidence said the department lost all its records and she could not remember the concerns or what happened to them - the Coroner apparently accepted that she remembered that all the other officials also forgot everything); and
- how the agency that communicated concerns to DHCS failed to follow up on getting their response.
Officials in the ACT are "yellow", as they avoid investigations (with any prospect of adverse outcomes) and discussion of "difficult" deaths of people with a disability. Recommendations from the Gallop inquiry into three deaths in group homes was "forgotten" rather than implemented. There was no review of Stephen Moon's placement and not much later, Stephen Moon died (in December 2003) in a group home shortly after he was discharged from hospital ... the narrowly focused Coroner's report has only just been completed. Officials learned little or nothing from the deaths of Stephen Moon and Jack Sullivan.
The banana came out ahead of the durian that was considered too sweet and its smell might discourage people.
- Gallop report: http://www.dhcs.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/7644/Final_Report.pdf
- Government response to Gallop report (largely unimplemented): http://www.dhcs.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/13711/GovtResponse.pdf
- ACT Auditor-General report: press release and full report
- Love has its Limits: http://www.parliament.act.gov.au/committees/index1.asp?committee=115&inquiry=964 http://www.parliament.act.gov.au, Love Has Its Limits - Respite care services in the ACT and Government Response
- Stephen Moon inquest: http://a4.org.au/a4/sites/default/files/20120928%20Inquest%20into%20the%20death%20of%20Stephen%20Moon.doc
- Articles about Jack Sullivan ...