And in Other News...
Staff choose ABC director
Staff at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) are electing a new director this week.
Voting has started for the staff- elected director position after a long campaign to have this position restored.
Government House Open
Government House in Canberra is opening its doors this weekend to raise funds for The Smith Family and celebrate Canberra’s centenary.
The family fun day will be held on Sunday (24 March) from 10am – 4pm and feature a line-up of entertainment from the National Canberra Youth Orchestra, Canberra Scottish Fiddlers and celebrity cook-offs.
RMIT to improve justice
Anew Centre for Innovative Justice has been established at RMIT University in Melbourne to investigate ways to improve access to justice for Australians.
The Centre will receive Commonwealth funding to support research into ways to make private legal assistance affordable for more Australians.
The Centre will also work towards establishing a community legal centre to provide legal services to the public and give students the opportunity to learn about the justice system in a practical setting.
Apps for Androids
Business planning apps are now available for Android tablet users.
The MyBizPlan, MarketMyBiz and MyBizShield apps are designed especially for small business owners wanting to improve the way they operate.
As iPad apps they have proven to be quite successful, with more than 22,000 downloads since September last year.
More information on each app is available from this PS News link.
Aviation buffs take off
Four aviation enthusiasts have been awarded Airservices Learn to Fly Scholarships in conjunction with the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs of Australia (RFACA).
The scholarships are part of a three-year sponsorship agreement worth almost $100,000 aimed at identifying the next generation of Australian pilots.
Each winner receives $7700 to subsidise the cost of obtaining a Private, Commercial or Instructor Pilot’s Licence.
Recipients of the 2012 Airservices Learn to Fly Scholarships are Harriet Swale - Royal Aero Club of WA; Joshua Dawes - Alice Springs Aero Club; Howard Veel - Rockhampton Aero Club; Alkmini Stefanidis - Royal Victorian Aero Club.
Workshop addresses threats
Australia and the United States have joined forces to co-host an international workshop to tackle the emerging threat from online extremism.
Held in Washington, US, the workshop was also attended by high-level representatives from the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands.
Attendees discussed the current and emerging threat environment and shared proactive approaches to addressing the continually evolving issue of online radicalisation.
Earlier this weekAPSC issues Circular
The Australian Public Service Commission has issued a Circular informing APS agencies that the new Public Service Amendment Act is to come into force on 1 July 2013.
Circular 2013/3: Proclamation of Commencement Date for the Public Service Amendment Act says the current provisions of the Public Service Act 1999 will continue to apply until that date.
The Circular can be accessed at this PS News link.
Smart travellers rewarded
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has announced the winners of its Smartraveller Travel Tales competition.
Australian travellers were asked to describe an overseas travel tale where they benefited from being a Smartraveller – or where they wished they'd been one.
Natalie Hensby was the inaugural winner competition with her story of how travel insurance saved her life after an ill-fated boat trip to a 'Full Moon Party' in Thailand; Deborah Sugden took out second place with her account of the tsunami that struck Samoa in 2009; and Alison Burdon was placed third with her photo entry depicting local fishing women in Kenya.
The three winners were each awarded a share of $6000 in travel vouchers for their next overseas adventure.
More information about Smartraveller is available from this PS News link.
ABC launches new homepage
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has launched a new homepage for its website in response to calls from audiences wanting a more intuitive and news-focused service.
Over the next six months the ABC will be rolling out a series of enhancements to the page including TV and Radio program schedules.
The new homepage can be accessed at this PS News link.
ACT joins charity regulator
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has signed up to a new charities regulator as part of national efforts to reduce red tape for the not-for-profit (NFP) sector.
The changes will mean that charities incorporated as associations in the ACT will only need to report to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and not the ACT Office of Regulatory Services.
Amendments will also be made to the Charitable Collections Act 2003 (ACT).
Jobs increase the biggest
New labour force figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistic (ABS) have shown the biggest monthly jobs increase in almost 13 years.
Seasonally adjusted employment rose by 71,500 in February to stand at a record high of 11,628,300, the strongest monthly increase in jobs growth since July 2000.
Seasonally adjusted full-time employment increased by 17,800 in February 2013, to stand at 8,117,400; while part-time employment rose by 53,700, to a record high of 3,510,800.
The unemployment rate in Australia remained steady at 5.4 per cent.
Legislation to protect Koongarra - now part of Kakadu National Park – has passed Federal Parliament.
The Completion of Kakadu National Park (Koongarra Project Area Repeal) Bill 2013 makes it clear there will be no uranium mining at Koongarra and completes a three year process to protect the 1,288 hectare Koongarra area as part of Kakadu.
That process began with the request of key traditional owner, Jeffrey Lee.
Disputes at 2-year low
Australia has recorded its lowest level of industrial disputation in almost two years.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistic (ABS) for the December quarter of 2012 show that working days lost to industrial disputes were the lowest recorded since the March quarter 2011.
That figure is relatively low by recent historical standards, with an average of 6.1 working days lost per 1,000 employees over the past decade.
Edition 353, 19 March 2013