From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Delays in youth care. What’s going on at the New South Wales Family and Community Services? We hear major re-contracting of out of home care in NSW has been put on hold, but no word on why. According to a tipster, organisations tendered for work in family preservation were told they were successful, before FACS revised the funding model put out to tender, cutting funding significantly. In the meantime, the successful applicants had recruited staff in anticipation of certain funding levels. 

FACS announced a tendering process for the out-of-home intensive therapeutic care in March this year and and etendering NSW shows no finalised contracts around this, or any other out-of-home project. We asked FACS about the status of the contracts and a spokesperson didn’t deny they had been delayed, telling us: “In March 2017 Family and Community Services announced that 26 service providers were moving to the next stage of the open tender to provide Intensive Therapeutic Care. All applicant service providers were notified of the outcome at the time. New contracts are expected to commence in early 2018. There has been no reduction in the funding offer, and FACS is continuing to work with the successful providers.” We inquired further about other family preservation and out-of-home care projects, but they didn’t reply before deadline.
 
Know more? Let us know

Fidget spinners update. On Wednesday we reported that it appeared a brand called “Fidget Australia” was promsing to deliver fidget spinners despite weeks and weeks of delays, with questions raised about many of the outfits selling the toys that have exploded in popularity with kids across the country. Since then we have been inundated with similar stories:

“I believe they breach regulations around ecommerce sites but after creating a dispute with paypal my little boys fidget spinners got shipped immediately. I suspect that’s the only way to get your goods as they would be penalised by paypal and lose cashflow otherwise.”

“I reckon the entire website was a hoax. I complained, got nowhere, then got my money back from my bank about 5 weeks after paying. We have a house full of fidget spinners and fidget cubes that all appeared without this much fuss.”

“I am a businessman and I ordered a fidget spinner for my 6 year old son from the site you mention in your story.  We ordered it on the 29th of April and still haven’t seen anything.  In fact, after 2 weeks of incessant hounding from my son I thought I would do a little investigating.  It appears there are many scammers and shysters trying to jump on the fidget spinner bandwagon.

A few of the things we found in our investigation:

Many of the online stores that actually have a website are drop-shipping from China, delivery times are 45days plus.

May of the offshore providers are supplying very low quality product hedging on the concept that people won’t return for a small purchase.

Most online stores are offering low cost shipping that they are saying will take 12-60days or express shipping at exorbitant rates. One site offers express shipping for $75AUD

Many of the eBay stores are using a “bait-and-switch” technique where the price they quote, $1 is for a fidget spinner case, but the spinners themselves are much more expensive.

Most eBay seller do not send. 

And, as you already know, some online sites do not send.”

The last tipster even started his own fidget spinner business — with a Melbourne warehouse and an ABN that can be viewed on the website.

Roboocalls in Queensland. We do love keeping track of just which parties are running polling and where, and a tipster in Brisbane tells us they got a call from what “sounded a bit like the male ReachTEL voice”:

“They wanted to ask about Qld politics and I could press asterisk for information about who had commissioned the poll. I pressed asterisk but they just went straight to the questions. First question asked if the LNP should give details about how many public sector workers they planned to get rid of before the next state election or wait till after the election. The second question was whether I wanted to be contacted with more information about the LNP’s plans. And that was it. Shades of Medi-scare?

I can’t believe it’s not butter. As if vegans don’t complain enough, now they can’t even have their “tofu butter” or “cashew cheese” after a European court ruled that only products that actually use milk can use names like “butter”, “milk” and “cheese”.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling refers to a case against a German foods company, TofuTown, which sells products such as “Soyatoo tofu butter”, “Plant cheese”, and “Veggie cheese” which had claimed in its defence that it was not breaching EU law as it had made clear the plant origins of its products.

But the ECJ ruling confirmed that labels such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter “cannot be legally used to designate a purely plant-based product”. The court said that milk referred “exclusively [to] normal mammary secretion”, and that the use of extra descriptive or clarifying phrases “has no influence on that prohibition”.

It’s not easy being green.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

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