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Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 403. Updated Tuesday, 01 April 2014

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Award for Court's multi-cultural plan

The Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court have been honoured in the 2014 Migration and Settlement Awards awarded by the Migration Council of Australia (MCA).

Chief Executive of MCA, Carla Wilshire said at the awards ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra that organisations and individuals were increasingly embracing multiculturalism and recognising the importance and value of migration.

The Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court were recognised for the Multicultural Action Plan which enables courts to engage with new and emerging communities, to build partnerships and to learn from each other.

 

Milestone against people smuggling

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection , Scott Morrison has marked 100 days since the last successful people smuggling venture to Australia.

“We acknowledge the work and dedication of the people and Agencies across Government in making this happen. They are doing a great service for our nation,” Mr Morrison said.

“The progress we are making in strengthening our borders is restoring confidence in our migration program.”

 

FairWork inspectors to visit Gove Peninsula

Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors will visit the Gove Peninsula in the Northern Territory to educate employers and workers about their workplace rights and responsibilities.

Inspectors will visit local businesses on Monday, April 7, handing out information to employers and managers, and staff a “drop-in” information booth on Tuesday April 8.

The information booth will operate from 9 am to 5 pm, in room three at the Training Regional Centre on Chesterfield Circuit in Nhulunbuy. Appointments are not required.

 

Australia and Poland seal visa deal

Young people from Australia and Poland will soon be able to work and holiday in each other's countries, with the signing of a reciprocal work and holiday visa arrangement.

Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Michaelia Cash said it would enable up to 200 young adults from Poland and up to 200 young adults from Australia to engage in short-term work and study, when finalised.

The work and holiday visa differs from a working holiday visa as it requires applicants to have the support of their Government, hold or be studying towards tertiary qualifications and to speak functional English.

 

Australia lifts Fiji travel restrictions

The Australian Government has lifted all travel restrictions on Fiji, following a review of Australia’s travel sanctions.

This includes restrictions applying to the Prime Minister, Ministers, military personnel and their family members, Government appointees and the judiciary that have been in place since December 2006.

Australia is working with the Government of Fiji and other donors to support Fiji's preparations for its 17 September 2014 elections.

 

Environment seeks feedback on diversity report

The Department of the Environment is seeking feedback on Australia’s fifth national report to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The reports, required under the Convention, outline the measures a country has taken to implement the Convention and their effectiveness in meeting its objectives in promoting sustainable developmentis dedicated to promoting sustainable development.

More information, including how to make a submission by the 18 April 2014 deadline, is available at this PS News link.

 

Earlier this week

ATO warns asset shifters

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is urging all taxpayers with offshore assets to declare their interests, ahead of a global crackdown on international tax havens.

The ATO's offshore voluntary disclosure initiative, 'Project DO IT: disclose offshore income today', provides a last-chance opportunity for those who haven't declared their overseas assets and income to come back into the system before December 2014.

The ATO said the net was closing in on tax evaders around the world, and in recent years information sharing between countries had increased significantly, with banking data exchanged automatically and the G20 promoting global tax transparency.

More information is available at this PS News link.

Immunisation rates up

The number of children not fully immunised fell by nearly 2,000 in 2012-13 compared to the previous year, according to the National Health Performance Authority's report on childhood immunisation rates.

The report showed, however, there were still areas in Australia where rates were low.

It revealed: the percentage of five-year-old children fully immunised across Medicare Local catchments ranged from 86.2 per cent in Eastern Sydney to 95.4 per cent in Great South Coast (Vic); significantly improved rates were reported for five-year-old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children; and of the 75,002 children aged one, two and five years not fully immunised in 2012-13, almost 15,000 were registered as 'conscientious objectors'.

Indigenous alcohol inquiry in NT

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs will undertake its first public hearings for the inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Northern Territory from 31 March to 3 April.

The committee will hold public hearings in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Darwin and will inspect sites in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.

Chair of the Committee, Dr Sharman Stone said a study from the National Drug Research Institute showed the average age at death from alcohol-related causes among Indigenous people was about 35 years.

"This is why the committee is determined to identify the social and other determinants of high-risk alcohol consumption in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the best way to tackle the issues."

The full program is available at this PS News link.

 

Australia-Thailand grants open

The Australia-Thailand Institute (ATI) has begun accepting applications for its 2014 15 grants program.

Grants are available for innovative projects and initiatives to increase mutual understanding, and includes funding for arts and culture, science and technology, education, health and sport, public policy and media projects.

Applications will close at 5pm, Friday 2 May 2014.

The Australia-Thailand Institute was established by the Australian Government in 2005 to promote bilateral relations with Thailand and expand institutional and people-to-people links. Further information is available at www.dfat.gov.au/ati

What's taxing for small business

The Government has asked the Board of Taxation to conduct a review to identify features in the tax system that are hindering or preventing small businesses from reaching their commercial goals.

The Board of Taxation review will complement the Tax White Paper process with a dedicated focus on the small business sector to drive innovation and jobs growth.

The Government said it wanted small business owners to spend less time on paperwork and more time and resources on growing their business.

The Board of Taxation will draw on its links with small business and the expertise of its Advisory Panel in developing its report to the Government before 31 August 2014.

Seniors Health Card to be indexed

Legislation to index the income thresholds for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card have been introduced.

Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, said with no indexation since 2001, income thresholds for the Card had not kept pace with living costs.

He said the current income thresholds for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card were $50,000 for singles and $80,000 for couples combined.

Mr Andrews said annual indexation of the income thresholds in line with the Consumer Price Index would begin from 20 September 2014.

New safety standard for portable pools

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is reminding pool suppliers that the new mandatory safety standard for portable swimming pools was now in place.

Deputy Chair of ACCC, Michael Schaper said all portable pools sold in Australia must meet new mandatory labelling requirements.

"These important labels alert consumers to information on active supervision, safe storage and State and Territory pool fencing laws," Dr Schaper said.

Failure to comply with a mandatory safety standard is a breach of Australian Consumer Law and can result in a product being recalled, as well as fines, penalties or legal action.

Further information on the portable pools mandatory standard is available from this PS News link.

Milestone for Small Business Helpline

The Fair Work Ombudsman's Small Business Helpline has received 50,000 calls since it was launched in December last year.

Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson said small business operators wanted to do the right thing and the Helpline was an important tool to help them in doing so.

"Small business operators are now able to rely on advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman, without fear of prosecution should the information be incorrect," Mr Billson said.

Earlier this week, the Fair Work Ombudsman also released the Guide to hiring new employees, which is the latest measure in a suite of tools aimed at assisting small businesses.

The Small Business Helpline is 13 13 94.

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