SearchArchives for April 2012
27 April, 2012
A new panel has been established to provide advice to Australia’s Governments on ways to address and reduce violence against women and their children.
to beat violence
Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins said the National Plan Implementation Panel comprised representatives of all Australian Governments and 14 individuals from a cross-section of agencies working with women who had experienced violence.
Ms Collins said the panel would advise Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments on the implementation of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.
“Violence against women, regrettably, happens every day,” Ms Collins said.
“One in three women in Australia has experienced physical violence since the age of 15, with one in five subjected to sexual violence.”
She said all forms of violence were unacceptable.
“We need to do more to stop violence against women and their children from happening in the first place and make sure those who experience violence get the support they need,” she said.
“To make a real and sustained difference, all levels of Government and the community must work together.”
Ms Collins said members of the new panel had expertise in domestic violence and sexual assault services, the legal system and academic research.
“Their advice to Governments will be invaluable,” she said.
“The $86 million National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 is a single, unified strategy bringing together Government efforts to reduce violence against women.
“It is the first strategy of its kind to focus so strongly on prevention, including teaching young people about building respectful relationships.”
Members of the panel are Cat Gander and Alan Kirkland from NSW; Fiona McCormack and Julie Oberin (Victoria); Shirley Slann (Queensland); Jodie Sloan and Dr Lana Zannettino (South Australia); Angela Hartwig and Dorinda Cox (Western Australia); Liz Little (Tasmania); Dale Wakefield (Northern Territory); and Rebecca Vassarotti, Sue Salthouse and Libby Lloyd (ACT).
27 April, 2012
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is to review its processes for transferring detainees following an Ombudsman’s investigation in NSW.
Acting Deputy Ombudsman, George Masri said the investigation looked into the transfer of 22 detainees to the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre at Silverwater in April 2011 after riots broke out at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.
Mr Masri said deficiencies had been found in the way detainees were notified about their transfer to Silverwater; the records kept by DIAC; and the follow up with detainees after their transfer.
“DIAC did not follow its own procedures in relation to the transfers either during or after the incidents at Villawood,” Mr Masri said.
“Notwithstanding the operational demands at the time, once the physical threat to staff and detainees had passed, DIAC had an obligation to ensure that all procedural and administrative requirements were met.
“This did not happen.”
He said DIAC had not appropriately informed the detainees about why they had been transferred to Silverwater and had delayed notifying the detainees’ migration agents.
“DIAC’s own procedures require it to keep comprehensive records about the welfare of a person in immigration detention who has been transferred to a correctional facility but, when asked, the Department was not able to produce any relevant records,” he said.
“Nor did DIAC fully comply with its mandated requirement to visit a detainee in a correctional institution within 24 hours of arrival at the institution and to contact them weekly thereafter, either in person or by telephone.”
In its response, DIAC agreed with the Ombudsman’s recommendations to improve its processes and instigated a review of transfer arrangements between immigration and correctional detention, as well as within the wider immigration detention network.
It said it expected to update relevant policy and procedures for implementation later this year.
The full Ombudsman’s report can be accessed at this PS News link.
27 April, 2012
New Defence pin to
A new pin for the families of Defence personnel serving abroad is to be introduced to recognise the special role they play.
pin down families
Announced by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, the new pin will be available later this year.
“Our Diggers make a brave and honourable contribution to the nation when they serve overseas,” Ms Gillard said.
“But their sons, daughters, partners and parents also make a significant sacrifice too.
“This new pin will be for these family members across Navy, Army and the Air Force who go for stretches without their loved ones, often under anxious circumstance knowing their loved one is deployed in dangerous conflict zone.”
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon said the Department of Defence would work with family support organisations, including Defence Families Australia, on the design of the pin.
“It’s important the design and look of the pin appropriately reflect its purpose and we will be making sure families have the opportunity to provide input into its design,” Mr Snowdon said.
“While some community and ADF organisations have individual badges or medals, no universal pin of recognition across the forces has previously existed.”
Ms Gillard thanked the MP, Deb O’Neill, who raised the idea for the pin after receiving the suggestion from one of her constituents, Milan Nikolic.
“Milan served as a UN peacekeeper in Rwanda during the genocide and was severely injured while on active duty,” Ms Gillard said.
“His wife and two children back home battled their own health problems without the support of their husband and father.”
The new pin will recognise their sacrifice.
27 April, 2012
The program of events and commemorations for the centenary of Anzac has been announced by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
Ms Gillard said funding would be provided for a package of commemorative events and initiatives to mark the Centenary, which is to run from 2014 to 2018.
She said the Anzac Centenary was one of the most significant commemorations in Australia’s history.
“We want to make sure every Australian can take part in events right across our country and at historic battlegrounds around the world,” Ms Gillard said.
“Just as the first Anzacs helped define our national character, the Anzac Centenary will be an important time to honour and reflect upon the service and sacrifice made by members of our Defence Force, past and present.”
She said a suite of initiatives would be implemented to mark the occasion, which were based on the recommendations of the National Commission on the Commemoration of the Anzac Centenary and developed in consultation with the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board.
Included in the $83.5 million, seven-year program are refurbishments of WW1 galleries at the War Memorial and war graves; overseas commemorations; local community commemorations; education programs; a travelling exhibition; a new interpretive centre in WA; and the restaging of events and activities.
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of Anzac, Warren Snowdon thanked both the National Commission and the Advisory Board for their contribution.
“There is plenty of hard work ahead as we develop and review the program, so we will continue to draw on the Board’s valuable strategic advice as the Centenary draws near,” Mr Snowdon said.
“The Anzac Centenary Program will also be developed and implemented in partnership with Local Governments, communities and ex-service organisations as well as with State and Territory Governments and international partners.”
Chair of the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board, retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston welcomed the funding package.
“The Board will play an important role in advising the Government on the detailed planning, development, prioritisation and scheduling of the Centenary Program and liaising with the community,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.
“The Board and its Business Group will also have an essential role in encouraging appropriate private sector sponsorship in relevant Centenary activities and projects.”
27 April, 2012
The Federal Government has released its response to the recommendations of the Coronial Inquiry into the Christmas Island asylum seeker tragedy.
to sinking tragedy
The State Coroner of Western Australia handed down his report into the December 2010 tragedy on 23 February 2012, including 14 recommendations.
At that time the Commonwealth said it would consider the Coroner’s recommendations in detail.
In its response, the Government announced it agreed to nine of the recommendations in whole or in part and had in fact implemented three.
It said work was underway on the other six and it was giving further consideration to five.
Releasing the response, the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Jason Clare and the Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith said the Coronial Inquiry was the fourth review into the event which had left 50 people dead.
The Ministers said the day after the tragedy a review of the incident by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service had been announced and that made eight recommendations, seven of which were now complete.
“Implementation of the eighth recommendation a trial of a land based radar surveillance system has been extended to trial a more sophisticated type of radar system,” the Ministers said.
“On 2 March 2011 the Australian Parliament established a Joint Select Committee on the Christmas Island Tragedy to examine the events surrounding the tragedy.
“The Committee made three key recommendations, all of which have been implemented.”
They said individual committee members had made nine other recommendations of which seven were agreed in whole or part.
“These have all been implemented or are underway,” they said.
“The Christmas Island Emergency Management Committee also conducted a review and made 21 recommendations of which 16 were agreed to in whole or part.
“Of these 11 have been implemented and the remaining five are nearing completion.”
27 April, 2012
New definitions to
State and Territory Ministers for Education have agreed to national categories for defining disability in schools.
The agreement was welcomed by the Parliamentary Secretary for School Education, Senator Jacinta Collins who said the new consistent categories across the States and Territories would go a long way towards benefitting schoolchildren with disability.
“For the first time, we have the ability to collect national data on a diverse group with varying needs,” Senator Collins said.
“Ultimately, data collected under these new categories will tell us the extent of change that schools are making to support students with disability.”
She said it was of concern that school students with disability were less likely to complete Year 12 and Australia lagged behind other countries in the employment rate for people with disability.
“Developing nationally consistent data will be a means to better understand and address the needs of students with disability,” she said.
“The categories, known as ‘descriptors for adjustments’, allow us to know if a school needs extensive, substantial, supplementary, or no adjustment to its operations in order to meet the Standards for Education under the Disability Discrimination Act.”
Senator Collins said the next step would be the development of an implementation plan for data collection which should be finalised at the end of next month.
“This information will help give a clearer picture of how schools provide for students with disability and enable policy makers, education authorities and schools to more effectively address the needs of these students,” she said.
27 April, 2012
Australia is to join an international partnership to support the world’s poor with improved access to safe water and basic sanitation.
to make a splash
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr said Australia would sign up to the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership (SWA) and add its voice to the global call for better access to clean water.
“In Australia, we are fortunate to have access to clean, safe drinking water and modern water and sewage systems,” Senator Carr said.
“Yet for many of the world’s poor, the simple act of quenching their thirst is fraught with danger.”
He said SWA was an important partnership between developing countries, donors, multilateral agencies and civil society that aimed to put an end to such situations.
“It provides an opportunity for partners to discuss and address obstacles to the world achieving universal and sustainable access to sanitation and drinking water,” he said.
“Australia is delighted to join the cause and contribute our recognised expertise in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector.”
Senator Carr said Australia was already working to increase access to safe water and basic sanitation; promote good hygiene practices; and strengthen water and sanitation systems in developing countries through its overseas aid program.
“Australian aid has helped provide new water systems to more than 155,000 people in East Timor since 2002 and brought drinking water to some of the nation’s most remote communities,” he said.
“In 2010-11 AusAID’s Water and Sanitation Initiative helped connect more than 330,000 people to water and sewerage networks in Indonesia and provided better access to clean water for an estimated 2.5 million in rural Vietnam.”
He said a recent UN announcement that the Millennium Development Goal target to halve the number of people without access to safe water had been met.
“Hitting such an important target five years before the 2015 Millennium Development Goal deadline shows we’re on the right track, but with 780 million people still without access to clean water and the target for sanitation unlikely to be met, there is still a long way to go,” Senator Carr said.
27 April, 2012
A new focus on increasing awareness of Asian culture and languages in Australian schools has been announced by the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett.
Mr Garrett made unveiled the new focus after hosting discussions on Asian literacy with Australian business leaders.
He also announced a further four years of core funding for the Asia Education Foundation, which aimed to equip young Australians with knowledge, skills and understandings of the countries and cultures of Asia.
“Australia’s engagement with Asia is crucial to our nation’s future,” Mr Garrett said, “which is why we must ensure Australian school students are well informed about Asian culture and are encouraged to study Asian languages.
“Asian countries are developing at a rapid rate and the global financial focus is turning to the Asian region.
“Building relationships with our Asian neighbours has never been more critical for Australia’s future prosperity.”
He said participants in the discussions included representatives from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Asia Link, the Business Council of Australia, as well as other businesses with an interest in Australia’s strategic engagement with Asia.
“The discussions focused on increasing understanding of business needs and how the Australian Curriculum and schools can build demand among students to study Asian languages and cultures,” Mr Garrett said.
He said a White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century had been commissioned to consider the likely economic and strategic changes in the region and to set out a strategic framework to guide Australia’s navigation of the Century.
“The White Paper is being prepared by a whole-of-government taskforce, led by (former Treasury Secretary) Ken Henry and will be released in mid-2012,” he said.
More information about the White paper is available from this PS News link.
27 April, 2012
And in other news...
3D TV OK for Olympics
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is to issue temporary licences to the Nine television network to conduct trials of 3D TV during the London Olympic games.
ACMA will allow the network to use unassigned TV channels in Adelaide, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney for daily highlights in 3D during the Games.
Viewers with suitably equipped TVs should be able to receive the 3D images within the coverage area.
Child Care payments more frequent
More families are choosing to receive their Child Care Rebate payments fortnightly instead of annually according to the Minister for Human Services, Kim Carr.
Previous arrangements meant parents had to wait a full year for child care assistance but now they can chose to receive the payment yearly, quarterly or fortnightly.
Workforce woes at Telstra
Telstra has announced a massive restructure of its workforce as it switches from the ageing copper network to the National Broadband Network (NBN).
The company said the restructure could mean there won’t be jobs for all of the thousands of technicians undergoing the retraining program but it should know more by the end of this month.
Sulphite survey positive
A survey of sulphites in foods conducted by Food Standards Australia New Zealand has revealed that almost all foods tested had levels below those allowed in the Food Standards Code.
The survey looked at sausages, cordial and dried fruit.
Sulphites, which occur naturally in foods and in the human body, are widely used to preserve food and have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Board members sought
Expressions of interest have been invited for membership of the Boards of the ABC and SBS.
Individuals with the necessary skills, qualifications and experience to contribute to the Boards have been encouraged to apply for two vacancies on the SBS Board and one on the ABC Board.
Further information for prospective candidates is available from this PS News link.
Grant for AFL
The Australian Football League (AFL) is to receive a grant of more than $244,000 to mentor young players about healthy relationships and to help stop violence against women.
The AFL is one of 17 community organisations to be funded over three years and will be required to develop an educational DVD, train-the-trainer programs, tool-kits, a quality assurance framework for state and local clubs, as well as an online education tool on the AFL Community Club website.
The funding is provided under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 which is run by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
Fraud reaches $1.4B
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that Australians lost $1.4 billion due to personal fraud in 2010-11.
The Bureau’s Personal Fraud Survey asked people 15 and over about their experiences of personal fraud (which includes credit card fraud, identity theft, and scams) with the result that three in five victims (713,600 persons) reported they lost an average $2,000.
More details from the Bureau’s report (cat. no. 4528.0) is available from this PS News link.
Rights framework turns 2
The Australian Human Rights Framework has celebrated its second anniversary with Attorney-General Nicola Roxon saying it had achieved a lot but there was still a lot to do.
Ms Roxon said the Framework had helped protect and promote human rights and make society fairer and more just.
She said since the Framework was adopted all new legislation must now come with a Statement of Compatibility with human rights; a new Parliamentary Joint Committee had been established to check the compatibility of new legislation with Australia’s international human rights obligations; PS staff had been trained in Australia’s international human rights obligations; grants had been made for grassroots community human rights education projects.
Airport drills for Sydney
Airservices Australia is to conduct aviation rescue and fire fighting training at Sydney Airport until 18 May.
A group of 12 fire fighters will go through a series of aviation training scenarios based on fire fighting and rescue procedures.
Airservices warned airline passengers and the public not to be alarmed by smoke, fire or an unusually high number of emergency vehicle movements at the airport during this time.
Drought pilot dries up
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has announced that programs under the Western Australia drought pilot are to wind up on 30 June.
The two-year trial of measures assisted farmers to better manage risks and prepare for future challenges, such as drought.
The Department judged the pilot a success saying it had effectively trialled the drought reform measures and was always limited in its timeframe.
Museum procures drawing
The National Museum of Australia in Canberra has acquired two significant pen and ink drawings by an Aboriginal artist of the nineteenth century.
Tommy McRae’s Buckley’s Escape’ re-creates the scene in 1803 when a convict, William Buckley, escaped and spent the next 30 years living with Aboriginal people before returning to Europe.
Funding boost for security centre
The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security has received a $1 million extension of funding.
The Centre was established in Canberra in 2007 to address crime and reduce security and terrorism threats to Australia.
The new funding will help the Centre strengthen its close partnerships with Australian police, security experts and forensic services.
24 April, 2012
Contractors doing job
A review of Jobs Services Australia has found that some contractors have been exploiting the system.
on job scheme
An investigation into ‘provider brokered outcomes’ under the Job Services Australia scheme was conducted by former Treasury and Finance executive Robert Butterworth and involved 14 organisations operating at 87 sites and according to the Minister for Employment Participation, Kate Ellis, confirmed the need to reform the JSA payment system.
“While JSA continues to perform better than the previous system, the review has shown evidence of inappropriate claims of provider brokered outcomes,” Ms Ellis said.
“The review has found an unacceptably high rate of claims by JSA providers that should have been paid at the lower rate.”
She said under changes to the payment system made in response to the review, JSA providers would now receive a single outcome payment for placing a job seeker in employment for 13 and 26 weeks from 1 July.
“This will replace the current system where a provider can claim a higher payment for making direct contact with an employer to identify a vacancy before the job seeker secures the position.”
Ms Ellis has directed the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to begin an immediate process to recover up to $1.1 million from providers who were found to have wrongly claimed higher fees.
“All JSA providers will be required to review past claims and self-identify any errors and immediately repay wrongly claimed fees,” she said.
The Minister said the Department would be carrying out random spot checks to ensure providers were doing the right thing.
“If further evidence of deliberate or systemic misuse is uncovered, the Australian Government will not hesitate to fully enforce all available penalties under the contract, including referral for fraud investigation,” she said.
Mr Butterworth’s report can be accessed at this PS News link.
24 April, 2012
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has been ‘generally effective’ administering the fight against terror but could improve its strategic management policies and management of the risks associated with dealing with other countries according to the Auditor-General, Ian McPhee.
Mr McPhee made the findings in his audit of the AFP’s Fighting Terrorism at its Source program which was launched in response to the 2004 car bombing outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta.
According to the Auditor-General, the FTAS program was allocated $97.2 million in 2004 to meet its expenses over five years and a further $82.8 million in 2009 to continue for another four.
He found the funding paid for counter-terrorism teams to work closely with regional law enforcement agencies exchanging criminal information and law enforcement skills as well as meeting the costs of domestically-based support and counter-terrorism capacity-building projects, including facilities in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
“The AFP’s administration of the FTAS initiative and related measures has been generally effective,” Mr McPhee said.
“The initiative supports, and is well aligned with, whole of government priorities and programs, and key stakeholders continue to be effectively engaged.
“The relationships between the AFP and foreign law enforcement agencies are well developed and broadly based, and significant progress has been made on the key operational outcomes that lay at the heart of the initiative.”
He found that the program had now become part of ongoing AFP business and as such deserved a greater focus on strategic management and success indicators.
He said the current framework lacked accountability for the delivery of specific strategies.
“Clearly articulated high level indicators of success, supported by a well developed review and evaluation strategy, would assist the AFP with the ongoing management of the engagement,” Mr McPhee said.
He said it would also assist with the ongoing management of the engagement; improve insights into the resources and support needed to secure its objectives; and increase assurance for key stakeholders.
He said working closely with regional neighbours to counter terrorism also carried “certain unavoidable risks”.
“The challenge facing the AFP is how to manage those risks effectively.”
The Auditor-General made four recommendations, all of which the AFP agreed with.
The full audit report can be accessed at this PS News link and the audit team consisted of Bob Holbert, Meegan Reinhard, Freya Markwell and Tom Clarke.
24 April, 2012
The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has called for ideas and input from the community to help develop an Australian Heritage Strategy.
seeks new ideas
Spokeswoman for the Department, Alison Stone said the proposed strategy would give all interested Australians the chance to work together and create opportunities to manage and celebrate our heritage now and for the future.
‘“The strategy will provide the chance to re-energise our interest in heritage and set the long term direction for the identification, management and celebration of Indigenous, historic and natural heritage,” Ms Stone said.
She said it would also provide a way to coordinate the significant efforts of the community and the many groups who worked tirelessly on heritage management.
She said the strategy was being developed with State and Territory agencies and key stakeholder groups and enjoyed the support of the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand with the Australian Heritage Council providing expert advice to the Department.
“It is important that the Australian Heritage Strategy captures views held at a community level, as stories of where we come from and provides us with context about where we are going,” Ms Stone said.
She said community consultation was a critical step in the development of the strategy and comment was invited on how best to recognise, manage and interpret our heritage.
She said a consultation paper outlining some of the key issues for heritage in Australia was available on the Department’s website to help frame responses.
More information about the strategy, including the consultation paper can be accessed at this PS News link.
Comments, ideas and suggestions will be accepted from communities, individuals and governments until 15 June 2012.
24 April, 2012
New Centre cleared
A Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis is to be established by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).
for biosecurity risk
To cost $7.8 million over four years the Centre will play a key role in furthering Australia’s capabilities to analyse and manage potential risks to biosecurity.
Assistant Secretary for Biosecurity Policy at DAFF, Vanessa Findlay said the funding would be available from 1 July 2013.
“It will allow researchers to identify and develop advanced risk analysis techniques and methods in line with the strategic objectives for Australia’s biosecurity system, “Dr Findlay said.
“This includes finding practical rigorous solutions to combat future and current potential risks that could be harmful to Australia’s environment.”
She said the new centre would build on work conducted by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis (ACERA) whose methods and procedures for risk management had been adopted and utilised by the government and the wider community.
”International research investors and governments have also shown an interest in contributing to the centre,” Dr Findlay said, “which will keep Australia and its partners at the forefront of biosecurity risk management.”
She said submissions for applications would be received until 15 June 2012 and an information session would be held in Canberra on Monday, 30 April.
More information is available from this PS News link.
24 April, 2012
The First World War galleries at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra are to receive a $27 million overhaul.
in the firing line
The upgrade was announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Minister assisting her on the Centenary of Anzac, Warren Snowdon.
Ms Gillard said the galleries were special places for Australians to visit and remember the thousands of soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
“We want to upgrade this gallery, so visiting Australians can say, with full appreciation and gratitude we will remember them,” Ms Gillard said.
“Today not a single Gallipoli veteran remains.
“Those who survived the Turkish guns have been claimed by time, and this epic wartime story now belongs to the ages.”
She said it was important to ensure that the First World War record stood the test of time for generations of Australians to come.
Mr Snowdon, who is also Minister for Veterans’ Affairs said the refurbished exhibition would be visited by around 850,000 people from around Australia and the world each year.
“The refurbishment of the First World War galleries will help generations of Australians learn about our nation’s involvement in the First World War, the significant battles and to see first hand the equipment, aircraft and weaponry they used,” Mr Snowdon said.
“The upgrade will also introduce new technologies to the galleries providing new ways to illustrate the courageous battles our soldiers fought.”
He said refurbishing the galleries would be a fitting tribute to the 400,000 Australians who served in WWI and the more than 60,000 who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
It was expected the upgrade would be completed in time for the Anzac Centenary in 2015.
24 April, 2012
The National Archives of Australia has urged Australians everywhere to track down their Anzac links by visiting a special ‘Mapping our Anzacs’ website hosted by the Archives.
According to the Director of Online and Digital Access at the Archives, Zoe D’Arcy, the war service files of 376,000 World War I service men and women have been digitised and
individual names can be searched online and their files printed at home, free of charge.
“Every ANZAC Day many thousands of Australians visit our websites to find out more about their own family members,’ Ms D’Arcy said.
“Mapping our Anzacs allows visitors to browse a series of maps and view the names of Anzacs who were born or enlisted in more than 10,000 places across the world.
“Links provide details on each individual, including access to digitised copies of their service record, their next of kin and any relations who also enlisted.”
She said visitors could also attach information about, and photographs of, their own World War I soldiers through the online scrapbook.
She said Mapping our Anzacs provided an easy way for people to discover which World War I diggers came from their community and to pay them a tribute online.
“Newspaper death notices and photographs of medals and plaques, as well as family pictures of and stories about those who served, have all been placed there as tributes to various diggers,” Ms D’Arcy said.
She said there were also hundreds of photographs of World War I servicemen on the Archives’ Flickr album, under the title ‘Bonds of Sacrifice’ at this PS News link and the Anzac files could be accessed at this PS News link.
24 April, 2012
ACMA film shines
A short film developed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to help educate young people about cyberbullying, sexting and protecting their digital reputation has won a silver medal at an International Film festival.
at NY awards
“Tagged” was created by ACMA as part of the Cybersafety Plan which was a strategy to combat online risks to children and help parents and educators protect them from inappropriate material.
It won its medal at the New York Festival’s International Film and Television Awards.
Minister for Broadband and Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, said the Government took the online safety and security of all Australians, especially young Australians, very seriously which was why it introduced the Cybersafety Plan.
He said ACMA’s activities supporting cybersafety education and awareness initiatives, including the film, were funded under the Plan.
“School children, including members of the Youth Advisory Group on Cybersafety (YAG), informed the production of this film,” Senator Conroy said.
“I would like to thank the students from Brighton Secondary College (Victoria) and Northcote High School who contributed valuable feedback and acted as extras in the film.”
“I would also like to thank Wesley College in Melbourne for participating in the YAG and allowing their students to contribute to the making of this award winning film.”
Chair of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee for Cybersafety, Senator Catryna Bilyk said ‘Tagged’ was a valuable short film and she encouraged all young people, parents and teachers to see it.
She said the film was accompanied by lesson plans, activities and character interviews that promoted positive online behaviour.
‘Tagged’ can be viewed online at this PS News link or ordered on DVD free of charge from the Cybersmart website this PS News link.
24 April, 2012
The first findings in a four-stage study of homelessness have been released by the Minister for Homelessness, Brendan O’Connor.
opens door to policy
Commissioned as part of the National Homelessness Research Agenda 2009-2013, the study follows the lives of more than 1,600 people who were homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless.
Entitled Journeys Home: Longitudinal Study of Factors Affecting Housing Stability the two-year project was being conducted by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research and would be used to help shape future policy.
“We have pledged to halve homelessness by 2020,” Mr O’Connor said.
“This study will help us in our work.”
He said the project was the first large-scale longitudinal study of its type in Australia and would deliver a better understanding of the causes of homelessness and its effects on people.
“We need to understand the causes and factors that lead to homelessness to build more effective policies and programs,” Mr O’Connor said.
“These findings will help us to better target our funding and resources in the future to provide better support to homelessness services.”
He said that among the initial findings was the revelation that a wide cross-section of the Australian community was affected by homelessness, across many stages of life.
He said the study found that 90 per cent of participants had been homeless at least once and half had been homeless in the past six months.
He said family breakdown and conflict were the most common reasons for first becoming homeless, while a relatively low number of respondents reported mental illness and substance abuse as major factors leading to their first homeless experience.
The $5.4 million study is due to wind up in mid-2013 and more information is available at: this PS News link.
24 April, 2012
Major changes to the way the overseas aid agency AusAID uses advisers in its aid program have been declared a success.
According to a new report, the Adviser Stocktake: Report 2 1 July to 31 December 2011, average rates of pay for advisers have fallen markedly following the introduction of a standardised remuneration framework in February last year.
AusAID said in a statement that since the introduction of the framework, the average daily fee for short-term international advisers had fallen 41.1 per cent and the average monthly remuneration package for a long-term adviser had fallen 34.1 per cent.
“The adviser remuneration framework sets structured and benchmarked professional fees and a restricted set of allowances that apply to all commercially-engaged international advisers,” it said.
“It was introduced to ensure better value for money and better results from the use of advisers in the aid program.
“It is estimated that the framework will save the aid program up to $30 million over the next two years, which is being reinvested in high priority areas such as basic health and education service delivery.”
According to AusAID, the new report confirmed that the introduction of benchmarking and more stringent performance standards had delivered a more rigorous approach to the agency’s use of technical expertise.
Adviser Stocktake Reports are part of AusAID’s ongoing commitment to transparency and are published twice a year.
24 April, 2012
A revised set of sport governance principles has been released for National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) by the Australian Sports Commission.
more than a game
Unveiling the new principles, the Minister for Sport, Senator Kate Lundy said they built on those developed in 2007 and encouraged NSOs to focus on their management, planning and reporting practices.
“The Government is committed to encouraging national sporting organisations to continue improving their transparency and practice good governance in sport,” Senator Lundy said.
“Just as our sporting heroes are role models in the sporting arena, our sporting organisations need to set a good example in their corporate practices.”
She said to do this they needed to be transparent, accountable and responsible as well as demonstrate leadership, responsiveness and integrity in their decision making.
“A modern governance structure is the basis for making the critical connection between elite professional sport and community sport, where millions of Australians live their own sporting dreams,” Senator Lundy said.
She said the revised principles were developed by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) after extensive consultation.
“The ASC met with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure the principles are compatible with the demands of modern sports administration,” she said.
“The review underlined the importance of each sports board to set a strategic direction and then closely monitor its performance against its strategic objectives.
“I congratulate the sporting organisations who have initiated their own strategies to improve governance and I encourage others to adopt the sport governance principles we are releasing today.”
Senator Lundy said the new governance principles covered matters such as the composition of boards, roles, powers, reporting, performance, processes, systems, member relationship and ethical and responsible decision making.
The newly revised governance principles can be accessed at this PS News link.
24 April, 2012
An independent think tank has developed a policy brief examining the use of cross-Agency data-matching to find people in need of Government assistance who might be missing out.
In its paper Match making: Using data-matching to find people missing out on government assistance the Australia Institute says data-matching is a valuable tool for finding welfare cheats and overpayments in the welfare system but it could also be used to improve the delivery of social security assistance payments.
“The Data-matching Program cross-checks income and personal details held by one agency against similar data held by other agencies,” the Institute says.
“The focus of this program is identifying overpayments amongst existing welfare assistance recipients.”
It says however that it fails to uncover members of the community who may be eligible for assistance but were not receiving it.
It said that in 2009-10 a data-matching exercise by Centrelink found a level of overpayment in nine per cent of reviewed cases.
“In contrast, convictions for fraud represent less than 0.1 per cent of all cases.
“Interestingly, this paper finds that the number of people estimated to be missing out on assistance payments is greater than the number of people committing welfare fraud and is closer to the number receiving an overpayment.”
It says data-matching had the potential to find many people in need of assistance and since the government was already helping people find lost or unclaimed superannuation a similar service to help people claim welfare assistance could be possible using data-matching techniques.
The full paper from the Australia Institute can be accessed this PS News link.
24 April, 2012
New aged care plans
The Prime Minister and Minister for Ageing have jointly announced major changes to Australia’s aged care system.
to iron out wrinkles
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the new scheme was a 10-year plan that would reshape aged care, beginning on 1 July 2012.
Ms Gillard said a new Living Longer Living Better program would be introduced to allow more Australians to keep their homes and more to stay in them to receive aged care
She said the new program would deliver more choice, easier access and better care for older Australians and their families.
She said the package of new initiatives would include an increase of nearly 40,000 Home Care Packages; a cap on costs and new funding for dementia care.
She there would be more options for paying for aged care, a cooling off period for payment arrangements and limits set on costs of $25,000 a year or $60,000 over a lifetime.
“For the first time, we will also introduce fairness into the payment system,” Ms Gillard said.
“Right now, pensioners often pay more than people with hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets and a private income.
“From now on the system will be fairer, based on capacity to pay.”
She said the new arrangements would replace a system designed a quarter of a century ago and which was now ill-equipped to meet the needs of retiring baby boomers and their parents who were living longer and healthier lives.
“Implementation of the reforms will be overseen by a new Aged Care Reform Implementation Council,” Ms Gillard said.
“The new reform package will be implemented in stages to enable providers and consumers to gain early benefits of key changes and have time to adapt and plan for further reform over the 10 years.”
She said people already in the system would not be affected by the changes other than to see an improved workforce, more residential aged care places, more funding for dementia care and stricter standards with greater oversight.
24 April, 2012
Kids in frame for
Young film makers have been invited to enter a Volunteering Video Competition for Young People to highlight the benefits of volunteering.
Minister for Social Inclusion, Mark Butler issued the invitation saying the competition was aimed at telling the story of enjoyment, fun and social interaction that people get from volunteering in their communities.
Mr Butler said the competition was open to young people aged 15 to 24 and required them to create a 30 to 60 second video using the theme, ‘Your passion, Our nation. Volunteer now!’
“Volunteers contribute enormously across a range of sectors, such as community, education, religion and sport,” Mr Butler said.
“We want more of our young Australians to know about the benefits to them and their community of volunteering, and show them the variety of ways they can contribute to a cause of their choice.”
The competition was endorsed by Oscar-winning actor and Australian of the Year, Geoffrey Rush.
“Like the arts, volunteering can sometimes lack visibility and people aren’t aware of the enormous opportunities it provides,” Mr Rush said.
“I’d like to encourage our young film makers to get behind the camera and capture the true essence of volunteering and the benefits that young people can gain from it.”
He said there were “great prizes” on offer.
Mr Butler said the competition was now open and would accept entries until 22 July.
Full details of the competition, including how to enter, age categories, and terms and conditions, can be accessed at this PS News link.
20 April, 2012
Women make up numbers
More than a third of the positions on Government boards were filled by women last year, according to a new report.
on Government boards
Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins said the annual Gender Balance on Australian Government Boards Report showed that female executives accounted for 35.3 per cent of Government board positions in the past financial year.
Ms Collins said the progress being made showed the Government was on track to meet its target of having at least 40 per cent of board positions filled by women by 2015.
“The Australian Government is leading by example when it comes to women’s representation on boards,” Ms Collins said.
“The 35 per cent of women on Government boards is an all-time high and we will continue to work hard to achieve greater gender balance on the nation’s boards and in leadership roles.
“Looking ahead, 11 portfolios have already awarded at least 40 per cent of their new board appointments to women.
She said for the year 2010-11, four Government portfolios met or exceeded the gender balance target of 40 per cent, while eight portfolios had between 30 and 40 per cent women on their boards.
“These figures are a positive sign the 40 per cent target is helping to create a change in attitudes towards women and leadership,” Ms Collins said.
“Targets like this are an important part of the Government’s ongoing efforts to give women equal opportunity in leadership and participation throughout the economy.
“Women remain under-represented in senior leadership and management positions in virtually all sectors, with only 13.8 per cent of ASX200 board members being women.”
Ms Collins called on all Australian organisations to continue to support greater participation of women on boards and in leadership positions.
The full Gender Balance report can be accessed at this PS News link.
20 April, 2012
Climate Dept settles
The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has released its latest National Greenhouse Accounts.
The Accounts include four reports that show Australia’s national total emissions of greenhouse gases increased by 0.6 per cent to 546 million tonnes over the year to December 2011 revealing it was still on track to meet its Kyoto Protocol target of limiting growth in carbon pollution.
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet said the reports now available were:
Mr Combet said the reports reflected the long-term trend of growth in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 and highlighted the need for action on climate change.
- The Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory;
- The National Inventory Report 2010 prepared for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC);
- The National Inventory by Economic Sector 2009/10; and
- The State and Territory Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2009/10.
“Australia has formally submitted the latest National Greenhouse Accounts to the UNFCCC,” Mr Combet said.
He said the Accounts showed emissions growth had been subdued recently with levels yet to return to the previous peak set in 2008.
“As a result, Australia remains on track to meet its Kyoto Protocol target of limiting emissions to 108 per cent of 1990 levels, on average, over the period from 2008 to 2012.
“The Accounts show Australia’s carbon pollution is currently tracking at 104 per cent of 1990 levels.”
Mr Combet said emissions from the electricity generation sector had risen 50 per cent from 1990 to 2011, the strongest growth of all sectors in Australia.
“This shows the importance of investing in clean energy sources, like natural gas, wind and solar power, to cut carbon pollution and tackle climate change,” he said.
The National Greenhouse Accounts can be accessed at this PS News link.
20 April, 2012
Anzac Centre to
A new Anzac Interpretive Centre is to be established on Mount Clarence in the Western Australian city of Albany.
Announced by Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, the new Centre is expected to be completed by November 2014, the centenary of the first World War 1 convoy.
Ms Gillard said it was important that Australians understood the role Albany played in First World War history.
“Albany was the gathering point for the first convoys carrying the Australian Imperial Force and New Zealand Expeditionary Force which departed from Albany in November and December 1914,” Ms Gillard said.
“These troops later collectively to be known as the Anzacs were initially destined for Egypt for training before sailing on to Turkey, landing on the shores of Gallipoli from 25 April 1915.
“Sadly, many never returned home.”
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of Anzac, Warren Snowdon said Commonwealth support for the construction of the Anzac Interpretive Centre was one of the recommendations of the National Commission on the Commemoration of the Anzac Centenary.
“The new Centre will offer panoramic views of King George Sound where the convoys gathered,” Mr Snowdon said.
“The Centre will house interactive displays to follow the journey of ships that set sail and trace an individual soldier’s or nurse’s journey,” he said.
“A number of these displays will also be available on the internet so Australians can access the history of Albany from anywhere in the world.”
20 April, 2012
NBN opens files
A review of Freedom of Information arrangements at the National Broadband Network company (NBN Co) has been announced by the Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon.
for FoI review
Ms Roxon said the company was subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982, with certain exemptions for documents relating to its commercial activities.
She said under the NBN Companies Act, the Minister responsible for FOI was required to review its operation as far as it related to NBN Co within the company’s first year.
Ms Roxon said the review would examine and report on NBN Co’s compliance with the legislative arrangements that applied to it under the Act.
“Among the considerations of the review will be the number and nature of FOI requests already made to the NBN, the responses to those requests and the reasons for any exemptions,” Ms Roxon said.
“The Government will appoint an eminent person to conduct the review which itself will include close consultation with stakeholders.”
She said NBN Co had already received 33 requests for documents under the FOI Act, releasing 46 documents in total.
She said the company had also established a website setting out its FOI processes for applicants and disclosing a range of general information about its operations.
Ms Roxon said the review was due to be completed by 30 June 2012 and the terms of reference could be accessed at this PS News link.
20 April, 2012
PS not welcome at
The panel of experts advising on the establishment of the new $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has recommended that the Corporation specifically not include Public Servants on its board, that it not be bound by PS procurement rules and that it be free to hire and fire its Chief Executive and set his or her remuneration.
Clean Energy Corp
The panel also recommended the provisions of the Public Service Act 1999 not apply to its employees.
The Government has accepted the recommendations.
The expert panel of Jillian Broadbent (Chair), Ian Moore and David Paradice received 170 submissions and recommended the CEFC Board comprise up to seven members; be appointed on a part-time basis for a set term, with a provision for re-appointment; have its remuneration set by the Remuneration Tribunal; and its operations reviewed by the end of 2016-17.
Treasurer, Wayne Swan welcomed the panel’s recommendations, saying in the future the most competitive and most productive economies would be substantially powered by cleaner energy.
“The CEFC will play a crucial role in driving the investment we need to develop and deploy those new technologies,” Mr Swan said.
“The Government announced the CEFC as part of the Clean Energy Future package to encourage private investment and help overcome capital market barriers to commercialising and deploying cleaner energy technologies.
“The Clean Energy Future package is a comprehensive plan to cut carbon pollution and drive investment in the clean energy technologies that will ensure our economy remains competitive in a low-carbon global economy.”
The Ministers for resources, finance and climate change said the CEFC’s operating framework would be based on three principles which would direct where and how the CEFC would invest.
“Firstly,” they said, “the CEFC will focus its investments on Australia’s clean energy sector.
“Secondly, the CEFC will apply commercial rigour to its investment decisions.
“Thirdly, the CEFC will examine financial barriers and determine whether an investment can be structured to overcome those barriers.”
The full report of the CEFC Expert Review can be accessed at this PS News link.
20 April, 2012
Watchdog reports on
The acting Commonwealth Ombudsman has released her final report of five reviews into the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s Biosecurity Investigations and Enforcement Program.
DAFF Biosecurity (formerly the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service) is tasked with reducing the risk of exotic plant and animal pests and diseases that could have an adverse impact on Australia’s agriculture, economy and environment.
The Investigations and Enforcement Program investigates the circumstances when biosecurity laws are broken and has the power to bring criminal proceedings against offenders.
The Acting Ombudsman, Alison Larkins said the report covered reviews conducted between 2010 and 2011 at all DAFF Biosecurity regional offices.
Ms Larkins said the reviews examined a sample of 25 per cent (166 of 668) of all investigations finalised or substantially finalised during the period.
“Key among our findings was a need for DAFF Biosecurity to take a consistent approach to managing investigations and use investigation tools commensurate with the complexity of an investigation,” Ms Larkins said.
“We also found that DAFF Biosecurity needed to improve its record keeping, provide due process to recipients of correspondence, and strengthen internal guidelines.”
She said the reviews found DAFF Biosecurity had adhered to its own policies and procedures most of the time.
She said the Agency’s investigators had met the required qualification standards; investigations had been conducted in a timely manner; decisions to conduct interviews were made in accordance with internal guidelines; and applications for, and execution of, warrants complied with legislation.
“DAFF Biosecurity has adjusted its schedule of regular reviews of ongoing investigations based on Ombudsman advice, and agreed to implement all of our recommendations,” Ms Larkins said.
“Its decision to conduct an annual internal audit of investigation activities, now that the Ombudsman’s funding for this work has come to an end, is a sound approach to ensuring that the Investigations and Enforcement Program continues to comply with policy and other requirements.”
The acting Ombudsman’s full report can be accessed at this PS News link.
20 April, 2012
Disabled enabled in
People with a disability wanting to develop their leadership skills for Government, business or the community have been invited to apply for the Leadership for Tomorrow program.
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas said Leaders for Tomorrow was an innovative program that supported people with disability to develop their skills, overcome barriers to work and education and reach their full potential.
“Because everyone is different, trained facilitators work with participants to develop a personalised program based on individual interests, needs and requirements,” Senator McLucas said.
“By linking people with disability with appropriate training, support and mentoring for up to 12 months, Leaders for Tomorrow aims to help aspiring leaders with disability develop their leadership capability.
“I encourage people with a broad range of skill levels and leadership interests to apply.”
She said successful applicants would begin the program by participating in a two-day retreat in Melbourne in June.
“Following the retreat a facilitator will assist them to develop an individual Leadership Development Plan and support them to implement their plan over 12 months,” she said.
Senator McLucas said the program would be delivered in five rounds by TAFE NSW’s Hunter Institute.
“All current participants are making progress towards meeting their leadership goals through various activities, such as conferences, mentoring, courses and work experience for leadership development,” she said.
“Since taking part in the program, some of the participants have been promoted, or offered new opportunities to use their skills at work.
“We have received excellent feedback from participants who say the program has helped them build their confidence and develop networks.”
Applications for the third intake of Leaders for Tomorrow program close 27 April 2012 and more information is available from this PS News link.
20 April, 2012
The final report on a review of the Caring for our Country natural resource management initiative has been released.
The report was issued jointly by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
The Departments said the review found Caring for our Country was on track to meet all of its goals.
They said the initiative was supporting the community to protect and conserve the environment and increase the adoption of sustainable land management practices.
“Caring for our Country commenced on 1 July 2008 and is investing more than $2 billion over its first five years to achieve an environment that is healthier, better protected and supports sustainable production in a changing climate,” the Departments said.
“The Australian Government initiated the review in late 2010 to consult widely with the community on what was working well under Caring for our Country and what could be improved in the future.
“More than 4,000 people and groups gave their time, experience and expertise to provide feedback that will shape the next phase of Australian Government investment in natural resource management, which will commence in July 2013.”
They said the report found clear national priorities for natural resource management had been set to ensure funded activities focused on what was most important; met national and international obligations; and protected environment and production capacities for future generations.
“It also acknowledges the important work of regional natural resource management bodies, Landcare groups and other community organisations,” they said.
The Departments said details of the next phase of natural resource management delivery would be announced later.
“The Government will announce a process for further consultation mid-year,” they said.
The full Report on the Review of the Caring for our Country Initiative can be accessed at this PS News link.
20 April, 2012
And in other news...
Stamps have badge pinned
Australia Post has released five stamps depicting the changes in the Rising Sun badge design since it was first issued in 1902.
Worn on the upturned left-side brim of the slouch hat; the centre left of the beret; and the front of the cap worn by Army officers, the badge was introduced as a unique identifying insignia for Australia’s military forces.
The stamps became available on 17 April.
Funding for the Reconnect program is to be extended until June 2013 so it can continue to help young people live in a safe and supportive environment.
Since it began in 2000, Reconnect has dealt with more than 61,000 cases of young people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness, including over 6,100 in 2010-11 alone.
More information about the program is available from this PS News link.
Burma sanctions lifted
The Australian Government has recognised reform in Burma by easing autonomous sanctions and normalising trade.
The sanctions adjustment will reduce the number of people subject to Australia’s financial sanctions and travel restrictions from 392 to about 130.
Civilians, including the President and other reformists within the Government and Parliament, will be removed from the list while serving military figures and individuals of human rights concern will remain.
Australia will also retain its arms embargo.
Anzac Day at War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial in Canberra will again be a focus for Anzac Day commemorations this year
The 97th anniversary of the Australian landings on Gallipoli will be marked at the Memorial with a Dawn Service between 5.30 and 6 am and the National Ceremony from 10.15am to 12 noon.
More information is available from this PS News link.
Carbon funding guidelines out
The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has released draft funding guidelines for the development of carbon farming methodologies for public comment.
The guidelines say $7.2 million will be available as grants and $5.2 million has been committed to support the development and implementation of methodologies that are likely to have high Indigenous participation.
The draft guidelines are available at this PS News link and submissions close 4 May.
Platypus restoration continues
The second stage of the restoration of the former HMAS Platypus site in Sydney is to see 30,000 tonnes of tar, tarry waste and tar-impacted fill and bedrock material excavated and treated.
The Neutral Bay site has been off-limits to the Australian public for more than 130 years, having operated as a gasworks (1876 to the late 1930s), torpedo maintenance factory (1942-1967) and Royal Australian Navy submarine base (1967-1999).
Disability funding for students
New funding has been announced to give students with a disability at non-Government schools greater access to classroom support and specialised equipment.
Around 37,000 students will benefit from $42.6 million in funding over the next two years from the More Support for Students with Disabilities initiative.
Crime awards open
Nominations for the 2012 Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards are now open.
The awards recognise programs of all sizes that reduce crime and violence in Australia.
Last year 42 projects from around Australia received awards of up to $15,000 to support their efforts.
Nominations close 29 June.
White exhibition at library
A new exhibition dedicated to the life of Patrick White has opened at the National Library of Australia.
The Life of Patrick White marks 100 years since the birth of White, Australia’s only Nobel Laureate in Literature.
The exhibition will run until 8 July before travelling to Sydney to be exhibited at the State Library of NSW from 20 August to 28 October.
Research funding announced
The Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) and the Chief Scientist are to oversight the spending of $10 million new research projects.
The projects are to be undertaken over three years by Australia’s four Learned Academies under the direction of the PMSEIC and the Chief Scientist.
17 April, 2012
Cuts to red tape
Environmental approvals and assessments for proposed land developments are to be fast-tracked under red tape reforms discussed at the inaugural meeting of the new Business Advisory Forum.
get green light
Prime Minister, Julia Gillard said Government red tape would be in the firing line under the Forum’s proposed reforms.
“We know that red tape is a huge issue for business,” Ms Gillard said.
“For the small business owner who has to spend hours on paperwork or filling out forms, to the big business that has to wait months or even years for project approvals.
“We started a very productive, direct discussion with business about how best to reduce red tape and reduce the impost on business.”
She said the Forum saw business leaders join Commonwealth, State and Territory leaders to focus on six reform priorities including environmental approvals and assessments; major projects; ending duplication in carbon and energy schemes; and energy pricing.
She said improving development assessment processes and best practice approaches to risk-based regulation were also discussed.
“Participants at the Forum also committed to participate in a ‘Red Tape Challenge’,” Ms Gillard said.
“Business particularly small and medium sized enterprises will identify burdensome, inefficient or duplicative regulations that are impeding productivity and economic growth.”
She said the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) would examine the suggestions made by business twice a year to ensure that initiatives with merit were addressed promptly.
“Participants recognised that significant progress on regulatory and competition reform has been made under COAG’s Seamless National Economy agenda,” she said.
“However the Forum recognised that a stronger, more coherent compact with business was needed to drive national reform, and agreed on a National Productivity Compact between the Commonwealth, States and Territories and business.”
17 April, 2012
ANU goes public on
A renamed and expanded Public Policy School at the Australian National University (ANU) has been announced by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Ian Young.
public policy school
Professor Young said the new Institute would provide a gateway to public policy and be based on the same model as Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
He said it was the ANU’s intention to appoint outstanding Public Servants and others with stellar public sector records as Fellows of a new Public Policy Program.
He said that would not only enhance the public policy development role of the ANU, but enable future students to benefit from joint ANU/Australian Public Service (APS) supervision.
“Today’s announcement brings to fruition plans announced in 2010 to build a strategic relationship focused on ANU/APS collaboration and to create a world class public policy institution,” Professor Young said.
He said former Secretary of the Treasury, Ken Henry would be appointed part time Executive Chair of the associated Institute of Public Policy, which would bring together the programs.
He said building works were under way to accommodate the programs and associations in a single physical precinct in the former Crawford School of Economics and Government.
“I am delighted that Dr Henry will join us from mid-year in his role as Executive Chair of the new Institute,” Professor Young said.
“He brings significant credibility in both academic circles and the Australian Public Service (APS) to this position.
“Along with Dr Ian Watt, Dr Don Russell and Professor Allan Fels (the external members of the new ANU Public Policy Advisory Board to be established to guide the new arrangements) he will bring the APS and ANU closer together, and assist ANU in becoming a major international player in public policy.”
17 April, 2012
Movers and shakers to
Geoscience Australia is to examine the recent earthquake that hit the north of South Australia to determine the extent of its impact on the landscape.
Leader of the Earthquake Hazard Program at Geoscience Australia, David Burbidge said the earthquake would come under close scrutiny to determine the extent of surface deformation in the landscape and its overall impact on the countryside.
Dr Burbidge said the magnitude 5.7 earthquake occurred on 23 March near Ernabella in remote northern South Australia, and was the largest recorded on mainland Australia in 15 years.
He said as well as investigating the extent of surface deformation, earthquake geologists would inspect rock falls and talk to local residents about their experiences during the event.
He said they would also discuss the residents’ subsequent observations of changes to the landscape and look for evidence of any previous large earthquakes in the area.
“The information will help seismologists develop a greater understanding of the large earthquake potential in this part of central Australia and help with the assessment of earthquake hazard across the continent,” Dr Burbidge said.
“Following the earthquake on 23 March there have been two additional, lower magnitude events near Ernabella on 30 March and 8 April.
“Both were magnitude 3.6.”
17 April, 2012
The value of early warning tsunami systems has been commended by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr at a United Nations General Assembly debate on Disaster Risk Reduction.
awash with praise
Senator Carr told the Assembly that the value of investing in regional tsunami early warning systems was confirmed following the recent earthquakes off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
He said Australia’s regional neighbours received an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami warning just seven minutes after the 8.5 magnitude earthquake occurred at 6:38pm Australian Eastern Standard Time on 11 April.
“Early warning systems are critical to saving lives and to reducing the risks and costs of natural disasters caused by tsunamis,” Senator Carr said.
“Our region gets more than its share of natural disasters and early warning systems are now agreed as essential to limiting their impacts.”
He also praised the partnership between Australia and Indonesia in managing the risk of disasters in the region.
“It was a great relief to all Australians and our regional neighbours when the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre issued a nil tsunami threat for Australia within 24 minutes of the earthquake,” he said.
“I am advised by the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre, which is operated by Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology that all warnings issued as part of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System were delivered within normal operational timeframes.”
Senator Carr said following the devastating tsunamis in the Indian Ocean in 2004 and in Japan last year, the international community had become acutely aware of the value of investing in disaster risk reduction.
“Australia is a strong supporter of international efforts to reduce the risk that natural disasters pose in developing nations particularly countries in our region,” he said.
17 April, 2012
Long term view for
A new skills reform package has been unanimously agreed to at the latest Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.
According to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the nation’s training system is to be transformed after all States and Territories signed up to a $1.75 billion package to accelerate skills reform.
“This skills package will ensure our national training system is able to respond to the needs of our economy, and will help to lift productivity and competitiveness,” Ms Gillard said.
“Around an additional 375,000 students will be able to complete qualifications over the next five years under the package signed up to at COAG.
“This will help more Australians get the training they need to get a job, to change careers or to up-skill and get a better-paying job.”
She said the key elements of the package included the creation of a National Training Entitlement; the expansion of loans to subsidise higher level qualifications in the vocational education and training (VET) system; and the launch of the MySkills website.
She said the package also included measures to raise the quality of skills training and outcomes.
Ms Gillard said the reforms would gradually provide industry with a better qualified and flexible workforce and assist in meeting skills shortages in key areas of the economy.
“The creation of a National Training Entitlement will see all working age Australians guaranteed access to a Government-subsidised training place, up to their first Certificate III,” she said.
“In a second key reform, VET students studying subsidised diploma and advanced diplomas will have access to income contingent loans like those offered to university students through FEE HELP.”
She said the My Skills website, due to be launched later this year, would give students the information they needed to make the right choice about the training that suited them.
“A new Unique Student Identifier will also be introduced so students will be able to access information about their training record from a single authoritative source,” Ms Gillard said.
17 April, 2012
Navy floats new
The establishment of a new organisation to provide better maintenance support to the Navy has been announced by the Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs.
Vice Admiral Griggs said the re-organisation of maintenance arrangements and the creation of the new Fleet Support Unit Australia, was one of the key recommendations to come out of a review conducted by the Navy’s Continuous Improvement Program.
Admiral Griggs said the review identified that the disparate Fleet Support Units (FSU) were not empowered to achieve their primary aim of repair and maintenance.
He said the new unit would be an amalgamation of the current FSUs which were located in different establishments around the country.
“The mission of the new organisation will be to focus on the intermediate level maintenance services of the fleet,” Admiral Griggs said.
“The unit will be optimised in a business-like manner to eventually generate potential returns in reduced sustainment costs to Navy.
“We will achieve this by a more effective use of our skilled work force.”
He said Fleet Support Unit Australia would be run by a General Manager with experience in operating a maritime focused civilian engineering business who would report to a Governance Board chaired by the Head of Navy Engineering, Rear Admiral Mick Uzzell.
“All FSU personnel and the broader Navy will now actively work to transform the Fleet Support Unit Australia into a truly first class national maritime maintenance organisation,” he said.
“The new FSU organisation would be largely operational by the 1 July this year.”
17 April, 2012
New funding for research into high performance sport has been announced by the Minister for Sport, Senator Kate Lundy.
goes for gold
Senator Lundy said $1 million in funding would be committed to ensure the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) remained a leader of pioneering high performance sport research along with elite athlete training and development.
“This high performance funding will ensure the AIS can continue to support our elite athletes,” Senator Lundy said.
She said the money was made available through the Pathways to Success Initiative to support new research and had been allocated into three separate funds the Sport Innovation Fund, the High Performance Sports Research Fund and the Big Idea Fund.
She said a total of 44 successful research proposals were identified to support athletes and build on the innovative research projects already underway at the AIS.
“While we celebrate the performances of our elite athletes, often the research, science and innovation work that unfolds behind the scenes is overlooked,” Senator Lundy said.
“In such an important year for Australian sport, research has the potential to turn the performances of our athletes into medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“At the Olympics, what separates a medal winning performance and placing 4th or 5th can be extremely small - this is where high performance research can make a real difference.”
She also welcomed the appointment of Matt Favier as the new Director of the AIS.
She said Mr Favier was a former AIS scholarship holder who had returned to Australia after eight years in the United Kingdom, including two years with UK Sport.
“He has excellent credentials as a leader in the field of high performance sport,” Senator Lundy said.
“His decision to come home at such a crucial time in the lead up to the London Olympics is an endorsement of the international regard of the AIS.”
17 April, 2012
Committee opens door
The Australian Human Rights Commission has welcomed recommendations for further reform of Australia’s immigration detention system.
on detention reforms
President of the Commission, Catherine Branson said the recommendations were made in the report of Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Immigration Detention Network.
Ms Branson commended the Committee Chair, Daryl Melham MP, on his statement that a considered response to the treatment of asylum seekers, mindful of legal and moral human rights obligations, was the mark of a mature and civilised society.
“For over a decade, the Commission has called for reforms to Australia’s system of mandatory and indefinite immigration detention, both because of the impacts it has on people’s mental health and wellbeing and because it leads to breaches of Australia’s international human rights obligations,” Ms Branson said.
“The Committee’s report contains recommendations which reflect measures the Commission has been advocating for years.”
She said among the Committee’s recommendations were proposed changes that would see asylum seekers granted a bridging visa or released into community detention following initial health, identity, character and security checks.
She said other recommendations called for people held in immigration detention to be accommodated in metropolitan rather than remote facilities wherever possible; the replacement of the Minister for Immigration as the guardian of unaccompanied minors in immigration detention; and the implementation of consistent child protection arrangements.
Ms Branson said the Committee also proposed that effective review mechanisms be made available to people who had received adverse security assessments and that staffing levels within immigration detention be reviewed.
“The Commission is particularly pleased that several of the reforms it recommended, which were reflected in the report, also received support from Coalition Committee members in their dissenting report,” she said.
17 April, 2012
Industry urged to
A new national education and compliance campaign for the manufacturing industry has been launched to promote the range of free tools, templates and advice available on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.
use website tools
The Ombudsman, Nicholas Wilson said he was writing to more than 4,000 employers in the structural metal products manufacturing industry as part the campaign.
Mr Wilson said tools on the website contained detailed, user-friendly information on the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010 including the types of businesses covered; apprenticeships and traineeships; pay rates; terminations and redundancies; classifications; hours of work; breaks; and leave entitlements.
He said employers could also register for a free webinar outlining the campaign (to be held on 2 May) via the website.
“Key stakeholders, including employer groups and unions, have been briefed on the campaign and are assisting to promote its objectives to their members,” Mr Wilson said.
He said the education part of the campaign was particularly important because later this year employers throughout Australia would be contacted and asked to supply employment records for audit.
“Fair Work inspectors will check that employers are paying workers correct minimum rates of pay, penalty rates, loadings and allowances and are complying with their record-keeping and payslip obligations,” he said.
“Employers in every State and Territory will be audited.”
Mr Wilson said the campaign provided an opportunity for employers to improve their understanding of and compliance with workplace laws.
“We have excellent resources available to assist employers in this industry to ensure they provide employees their full entitlements,” he said.
“If inspectors find minor or inadvertent contraventions, our preference will be to educate the employer and assist them to voluntarily rectify the issue.
“Obviously, in those cases where a contravention is blatant or employers are not willing to promptly resolve an issue, we may escalate the audit to a full investigation.”
More information on the campaign is available at this PS News link.
17 April, 2012
A strategy to promote financial literacy in Indigenous communities has been launched jointly by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Northern Territory’s Territory Insurance Office (TIO).
on the money
Regional Commissioner for ASIC in the NT, Duncan Poulson said the strategy would feature special “talking posters” that would deliver messages about ATM fees in 12 Aboriginal languages at the touch of a button.
Mr Poulson said the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA) and Outback Stores had agreed to display the posters in 40 or so remote stores throughout the NT.
He said residents of remote Indigenous communities were more reliant on ATMs than other Australians because of their lack of access to alternative means to make balance enquiries or cash withdrawals.
He said however, frequent usage of ATMs provided by independent or foreign bank providers meant that fees could account for a significant proportion of costs.
“The audio posters are designed to encourage fewer ATM balance enquiries and cash withdrawals by providing warnings in Indigenous languages about the costs of excessive use,” Mr Poulson said.
“This is an example of how ASIC is assisting Indigenous communities in partnership with other local stakeholders.
“ASIC congratulates TIO, ALPA and Outback Stores for supporting this initiative as it will help them meet the needs of their Indigenous customers, who currently lose a disproportionate amount of their income in ATM fees.”
Chief Executive of ALPA, Alastair King said remote ATMs were generally located in shops within Indigenous communities which made them a key point of access to financial services in those communities.
“This financial literacy initiative is one way to reduce the sizeable expenditure on ATM fees by residents of remote Indigenous communities.
“It is an example of a practical financial literacy solution,” Mr King said.
17 April, 2012
New figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) show that the mental health workforce in Australia is experiencing consistent growth.
mental as anything
Spokesperson for the AIHW, Brent Diverty said the latest workforce information showed the number of psychiatrists (including psychiatrists-in-training) per 100,000 people had increased at an average yearly rate of 1.4 per cent between 2005 and 2009.
“The number of nurses who work principally in mental health increased at an average yearly rate of 1.5 per cent over the same period,” Mr Diverty said.
He said the AIHW research had provided workforce information on psychiatrists, psychiatrists-in-training and nurses who worked principally in mental health care.
“Nationally, there were about 18 full time equivalent (FTE) psychiatrists (including psychiatrists-in-training) and 69 FTE mental health nurses per 100,000 people in 2009,” he said.
“The highest rate of psychiatrists (including psychiatrists-in-training) was in major cities, while the highest rate of mental health nurses was in inner regional areas.”
Mr Diverty said psychiatrists (including psychiatrists-in-training) reported working an average of 40 hours per week and mental health nurses worked an average of 37 hours per week.
“The average age of psychiatrists in 2009 was 52 years and more than two-thirds were male,” he said.
“Psychiatrists (excluding psychiatrists-in-training) aged 55 years and over made up more than one-third of the workforce in 2009, and this has been stable since 2005.”
He said the average age for mental health nurses in 2009 was 46 and about a third were male while among the general nursing workforce less than one in 10 were male.
“Mental health nurses are ageing, with the proportion of mental health nurses aged 55 years and over increasing from 20 per cent in 2005 to 25 per cent in 2009,” Mr Diverty said.
“Among nurses who worked principally in mental health, 82 per cent were registered nurses and 18 per cent were enrolled nurses.
“About five per cent of all nurses employed in Australia indicated working principally in mental health.”
The workforce information can be accessed on the AIHW’s Mental Health Services in Australia website at this PS News link.
17 April, 2012
Google draws on art
The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) is among a number of international venues to take part in the Google Art Project.
for online gallery
The Art Project, which was launched by the internet giant in February 2011, provides online access to high resolution ‘gigapixel’ images of artworks from galleries around the world, showing brushwork details beyond what is visible to the naked eye.
It also offers virtual tours of galleries and other architectural treasures, such as the Palace of Versailles, through the company’s Street View technology.
Director of the NGA, Ron Radford said the initiative meant viewers with an internet connection anywhere around the world could access and explore selected artworks from the national art collection in incredible detail, creating a rich and immersive experience around each work of art.
“The National Gallery of Australia was the leadership partner who worked with Google as they furthered the scope of the Art Project to encompass major collecting institutions in the southern hemisphere,” Dr Radford said.
He said as well as the NGA, the Art Project now included the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales; the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; the National Gallery of Victoria; the Melbourne Museum; the Rock Art Research Centre, Griffith University; the Auckland Art Gallery; and Te Papa in New Zealand.
“We are proud to have led the project with Google and facilitated the involvement of other Australian institutions with the Art Project,” Dr Radford said.
“This presents a wonderful opportunity for audiences around Australia and the world to experience our galleries, engage with the national art collection and learn about many works of art.”
13 April, 2012
Frontline staff face
Frontline staff at Centrelink and Medicare are being exposed to increasing levels of aggression and abuse, according to the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).
National Secretary of the CPSU, Nadine Flood said budget cuts were leading to longer wait times for Australian pensioners, families, new parents, and others who relied on Government payments and that was leading to increased tension.
Ms Flood said a recent CPSU survey of service delivery staff in the two Agencies found 71 per cent of workers felt customer hostility had increased in the past six months and 55 per cent said aggression had increased.
She said another survey of women in customer service positions across the Public Service revealed 62 per cent had experienced customer aggression, including serious verbal threats.
She said these increases in abuse was a major concern.
“These conditions pose a risk to clients and the community,” Ms Flood said.
“Anyone should be able to walk into a Centrelink office without the risk of being caught up in this kind of conflict.”
“We’re getting regular reports about verbal death threats, spitting, punching, head-butting and worse.”
She said Centrelink and Medicare workers were under increasing pressure to look after more clients with fewer resources.
“Staff morale has hit the floor, with staff worried conditions are going to get worse,” she said.
“It’s shocking to see that abuse and threats are now so common they appear to have become just part of the job.”
Ms Flood said the surveys also found a drop in Centrelink work standards, with 82 per cent saying waiting times had increased and 69 per cent saying more mistakes were being made as a result of budget cuts and staffing problems.
“You can’t cut $2.2 billion from public services without reducing the quality of service delivered to the public,” she said.
13 April, 2012
Local companies to
Australian businesses are to be given greater preference for big infrastructure contracts under new rules announced by the Minister for Industry and Innovation, Greg combet.
win public work
Mr Combet said the Government’s Australian Industry Participation rules were to be strengthened for all major publicly-funded projects and many in the private sector.
“These new requirements will improve opportunities for local suppliers and service providers to win contracts on large construction, resources and infrastructure developments,” Mr Combet said.
“The Government has now accepted all 21 recommendations from a Working Group established to report on reforms to Australian Industry Participation requirements.”
He said under the changes, the Australian Industry Participation requirements would be extended to all projects assisted with Federal Government funding of $20 million or more; States and Territories would be encouraged to adopt the same rules; and scrutiny of the implementation of Australian Industry Participation Plans (AIP Plans) would be increased.
He said requirements for all major projects to publish summaries of their AIP Plans would also be introduced and all changes would come into effect from 1 July 2012.
“This will improve the opportunities for Australian manufacturers, construction firms and service providers to win work on some of the biggest projects in the country,” Mr Combet said.
He said the changes reflected a commitment to supporting jobs and ensuring the benefits of the mining boom were spread to the wider Australian economy.
13 April, 2012
A new report on the extent of pollution created by industry has been released by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC).
air on pollution
The Department’s National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) is a publicly accessible database compiled in partnership with State and Territory Governments.
According to SEWPaC the NPI data reveals that the top five pollutants emitted in 2010-11 were sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulates less than 10 micrometres and total volatile organic compounds, which include benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene.
“The NPI database is a valuable source of information for the public and for State and Territory Governments about emissions of harmful substances on a geographical basis,” the Department said.
It said the report helped raise public awareness about pollution issues and also provided the community with information about emissions in their local area.
“It is also an important tool to inform State and Territory Government decisions on regulating pollution.
“The latest data provide estimates for the emissions of 93 substances that are released into the environment from over 4,200 sources.”
It said the substances included in the NPI had been identified as important because of their possible health and environmental effects.
The Department said the information in the NPI website was presented in a variety of ways to cater to different users.
“This includes data at a local, State and national level as well as an interactive map and spreadsheets which can be downloaded for detailed analysis,” it said.
“The NPI is in its thirteenth year of operation, and the data supplied by industry allow comparisons to be made between years, for individual companies and for industry sectors.
“The Inventory data help Governments to work with industry to reduce emissions and decrease waste,” it said.
The National Pollutant Inventory can be accessed at this PS News link.
13 April, 2012
Aged care system has
A new report which reveals that Australia’s aged care system was failing dementia sufferers and their families has been released by the Minister for Aged Care, Mark Butler.
age old problems
Mr Butler said the report by Alzheimer’s Australia was based on detailed feedback from older Australians, their families and carers through the national conversation on aged care reform.
He said more than 1,000 people had attended 16 consultations nationwide and the report made for “sober reading”.
“It is clear from the feedback received through the conversations that the issues that continue to beset the provision of care for people with dementia have not been given the prominence they deserve in the debate about the quality of aged care,” Mr Butler said.
“Across all 16 consultations, the overwhelming view of older Australians is that the aged care system is simply not meeting the needs of dementia sufferers and their families.”
“For many older Australians ‘dementia specific care’ is matched by the reality of locked wards.”
He said many families had given examples where the health of their loved ones had suddenly declined after entering residential aged care.
“The level of care being provided to dementia sufferers was raised as a key concern by families and carers,” he said.
“The use of physical and chemical restraints including antipsychotics in some residential facilities can be distressing to families and carers.”
Mr Butler said many families wanted to keep relatives living with dementia at home for as long as possible but the current system did not provide adequate support and assistance to enable it.
“Community care packages on offer are inadequate and inflexible,” he said.
“Long waiting times, lack of transparency in administration costs and artificial barriers in what services can and cannot provide often leave families feeling confused.”
“It is also clear from the consultations that older Australians and their families want staff appropriately trained in all aspects of dementia, and paid accordingly.”
The full report can be accessed at this PS News link.
13 April, 2012
Academics sign up for
The Fair Work Ombudsman has commissioned two leading academics to examine opportunities for increasing public awareness about laws relating to unpaid work.
fair work research
The academics from the University of Adelaide Law School, Andrew Stewart and Rosemary Owens are to undertake the research project into unpaid work arrangements, focusing on internships, work experience and trial work.
Fair Work Ombudsman, Nicholas Wilson said both were leading researchers in the field of labour law.
“The academics will investigate the range, nature and prevalence of unpaid work arrangements in Australia and will examine international best practice for dealing with these arrangements,” Mr Wilson said.
“The academics will interview various key stakeholders including industry groups, unions, Government and non-government bodies, universities and schools.”
He said the project would help inform the Agency’s education and compliance processes in relation to the issue of unpaid work arrangements.
“We want to make sure we are doing everything within our power to ensure the relevant workplace participants are aware of laws relating to unpaid work arrangements,” he said.
“A basic principle of workplace laws that business operators can overlook when considering taking on an unpaid intern is that generally when a person performs work for a business, they are lawfully entitled to be paid for it.
“While there are some legitimate internship arrangements available, business operators who view unpaid interns as a source of free labour are at the greatest risk of breaching workplace laws.”
Professor Stewart said evidence suggested that a growing number of workers were offering, or being asked, to do unpaid internships or work experience.
“In most cases, there’s no problem when it’s a short placement - especially if it’s done as part of a recognised education or training program,” Professor Stewart said.
“However, at what point does ‘experience’ become ‘exploitation’, and is it clear enough to businesses what they should be doing?” he asked.
13 April, 2012
Teenagers across the country are being encouraged to have their teeth checked after the Easter festivities.
on tooth health
General Manager of the Department of Human Services, Hank Jongen said the Medicare Teen Dental Plan provided eligible teenagers with up to $163.05 to go towards a dental check-up this year.
Mr Jongen said more than a million eligible teenagers had been sent vouchers earlier this year and now was an ideal time for them to have a check-up after the indulgences of Easter.
He said teenagers aged 12 to 17 years who were enrolled in Medicare and received certain Government payments, individually or as part of a family, may be eligible.
He said since the Teen Dental Plan was introduced in 2008 it had helped thousands of families with the cost of dental health.
“The Teen Dental Plan has provided over 1.5 million dental checks to eligible teenagers since it was introduced,” Mr Jongen said.
“We all tend to have a few too many chocolates at Easter, so there’s no better time to remember good dental health.”
He said the dental check-up may include a scale and clean, x-rays, sealing of pits and cracks in a tooth (fissure sealing), fluoride treatment, oral hygiene instruction and dietary advice.
He also urged teenagers to contact the department if they had lost their vouchers or hadn’t received one and believed they might be eligible.
More information about the Teen Dental Plan is available from this PS News link.
13 April, 2012
A new agreement between Australia and China is to see greater cooperation on the planning and building of infrastructure projects.
for big projects
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese said the Australian and Chinese Governments had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation on delivering infrastructure for both nations.
“The MOU will mean closer co-operation on planning of projects, exchanging information on investment opportunities and technical expertise, training and education, joint conferences, as well as joint infrastructure projects in the future,” Mr Albanese said.
“Ultimately, this is about creating more jobs, tapping more economic opportunities, and delivering better infrastructure.
He said both Governments would now establish Working Groups with membership from Government Departments and Agencies, industry organisations and major financial and business partners to help implement the commitments outlined in the MOU.
He said next year marked the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and the People’s Republic of China.
According to Mr Albanese, at the time the relationship was established, the two-way trade was $113 million.
“Today, Australia’s total trade with China exceeds $105 billion, making it the first nation with whom our two-way trade has gone past the $100 billion mark,” the Minister said.
“China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner, our largest export market and our biggest source of imports.”
He said Australia’s investment in China, including in Chinese infrastructure, was almost $12 billion in 2010, up more than six-fold since 2001.
“Similarly, China’s investment in the Australian economy was nearly $20 billion, up from $3 billion in 2001,” he said.
13 April, 2012
Australia has signed a series of agreements with Vietnam to boost joint anti-crime efforts.
war on crime
Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon welcomed the Extradition Treaty and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on legal cooperation in criminal matters with Vietnam saying the agreements would strengthen efforts to combat crime in the region.
Ms Roxon said she had signed both agreements with the Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Public Security, Pham Quy Ngo who signed the Treaty and the Vietnamese Minister of Justice, Ha Hung Cuong who signed the MOU.
Ms Roxon said Vietnam was an important ally of Australia in the fight against transnational crime.
She said that in 2010 the two Governments had agreed to an action plan to implement the 2009 Australia-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, which identified both the Treaty and the MOU as priorities for enhancing law and justice cooperation between our two countries.
“The Extradition Treaty will now be submitted to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties for consideration in accordance with the Australian Governments treaty implementation arrangement,” Ms Roxon said.
She said the MOU provided a formal framework to boost legal cooperation in criminal matters between the Australian Attorney-General’s Department and the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice.
She said it particularly strengthened framework for legal reform; criminal law, including transnational crime; international agreements; and international legal cooperation.
13 April, 2012
And in other news...
DBCDE to cut jobs
The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has become the latest to consider job cuts as a result of the increased efficiency dividend and pressure to bring the Federal Budget into surplus.
The Department has warned that an unspecified number of job cuts could result from the savings and from a number of current programs coming to an end.
It said some of the job losses would be offset by an expansion in the digital switchover program which was charged with slowly migrating Australia from analog to digital television.
NBN reports income
The National Broadband Network (NBN Co) has revealed it collected $356,000 in revenue in its first few months of charging for active services.
The company’s six-monthly report to the end of December 2011 found the money came from 2,095 premises connected in the first release site, as well as the 110 premises in new developments and 2,197 premises connected to an interim satellite service.
On 16 March 2012 it reported servicing 7,282 customers with active services from a total of 18,200 premises passed.
Comcare awards for Sydney
Comcare is to host its Work Health and Safety Awards in Sydney this year.
The awards recognise and reward excellence in workplace health and safety, rehabilitation and return to work achieved by individuals and organisations covered under the Comcare scheme.
Nominations are now open and close 23 April.
The awards will be presented on 20 September and more information is available from this PS News link.
Renaissance exhibition a success
The Renaissance exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia has been declared a success by organisers.
The exhibition of 15th and 16th century Italian paintings from the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, Italy, attracted 212,920 visitors and closed last Monday (9 April) after a four month season.
According to the Director of the Gallery, Ron Radford, the attendance figures make Renaissance the second most popular exhibition staged at the Gallery in the past 10 years.
Doctors honoured with stamps
Australia Post is honouring five doctors in its latest stamp issue.
Medical Doctors - A Lasting Legacy includes five 60c stamps featuring Dr Jane (Jean) Stocks Greig, Dame Kate Campbell, Professor Fred Hollows, Dr Victor Chang and Professor Chris O’Brien.
A stamp and medallion cover is also available which is individually numbered and limited to 7,500.
Flying scholarships awarded
New scholarships that offer flying training for young people have been announced by Airservices Australia.
Ten young trainees aged between 15 and 17 have been selected from a field of about 50 who demonstrated an aptitude for flying and a commitment to aviation.
The awards were made under Airservices’ Giving Young Flyers Training Support (GYFTS) scheme.
Co-axial cable turns 50
The 50th anniversary of the official opening of the coaxial telecommunications cable between Sydney and Melbourne has been commemorated.
The Sydney-Melbourne coaxial cable was officially opened on 9 April 1962 when the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, made an interstate direct dial call.
Previously this week...
Ads report shows increase
The seventh biannual report into Government advertising has been released.
The report covers advertising campaigns undertaken in the second half of 2011, during which $68.4 million was spent on campaign advertising.
The report says total expenditure on Government advertising in 2011 was $148.7 million, attributing the increase expenditure to the Census and increased health campaigns to combat obesity and smoking.
RAAF turns 91
The 91st anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has seen 100 Air Force personnel join in commemorations at the RAAF Memorial Grove in Canberra.
The RAAF was established on 31 March 1921 and is the second-oldest independent air force in the world.
Detector dogs turn 20
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has celebrated the 20th anniversary of detector dog operations.
The milestone was marked with the presentation of new DAFF Biosecurity dog coats at a special ceremony at Perth International Airport.
Drug prices down
The price of more than 1,000 different generic drugs has dropped by as much as $15 per packet for some patients.
Reforms to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) came into effect on 1 April and have seen generic versions of 60 different types of medicine become cheaper.
The estimated savings for patients average $3 a packet or up to $1.6 billion over the next 10 years.
Former MP, Attorney-General and Deputy Prime Minister, Lionel Bowen has died at the age of 89.
Mr Bowen served for 42 years across all three levels of Government.
Separately, Western Australian Senator Judith Adams has also passed away.
Senator Adams was highly respected for her hard work, energy and commitment.
Centenary art commissioned
Artist, Eleanor Gates-Stuart has been commissioned to produce a major science-based artwork as part of next year’s Centenary of Canberra celebrations.
Ms Gates-Stuart’s winning concept explores the Canberra region’s connection to the Australian wheat industry, from the 1800s to the modern era.
Through the Centenary Science Art Commission, Ms Gates-Stuart will commence a residency with the CSIRO to produce a series of scientific digital artworks.
Climate institute opened
A new research institute at the University of Western Sydney to help tackle the impacts of climate change has been opened.
The Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at the university’s Hawkesbury campus in Richmond aims to produce data to help determine the impact of climate change on Australia’s land and water resources and shape appropriate responses.
New safety Codes
Five new workplace safety model Codes of Practice have been released for a 12 week public comment period.
The Codes are Safe Design, Manufacture, Import and Supply of Plant; Working in the Vicinity of Overhead and Underground Electrical Lines; Traffic Management in Workplaces; Scaffolding Work; and Formwork and Falsework.
Submissions close 22 June and more information is available from this PS News link.
Ceremony for new coins
An official coining ceremony has been held at the Royal Australian Mint for the Solomon Islands Government.
The Governor of the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands was invited onto the Mint’s factory floor to strike new Solomon Islands coins to enter circulation in the Islands later this year.
10 April, 2012
Business case put
Policy makers in Public Service agencies across Australia have been criticised for making too much policy on the run without preparing an adequate business case.
for better policies
The Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) has released a policy discussion paper, Public Policy Drift, in which it claims public policy processes in Australia suffered because too few major government decisions were made using an evidence and consultation-based approach.
National President of IPAA, Percy Allan said an independent analysis of 18 recent major policies had shown only a minority that adequately satisfied the standards that should be expected.
“While these case studies of policies relate to the national level, IPAA suspects that the situation is not new and also applies to State and Local Governments,” Mr Allan said.
“We believe that if Governments used a ‘business case’ approach to devising, testing and communicating policies rather than resort to policy outbursts preceded by secrecy, the outcome would not only be better policy, but better politics.”
He said Government at all levels should adopt a ‘business case’ approach to making major policy decisions using a framework devised by Professor Ken Wiltshire of the University of Queensland.
“The Wiltshire ‘business case’ test includes 10 criteria, namely: establish need, set objectives, identify options, consider mechanisms, brainstorm alternatives, design a pathway, consult further, publish proposals, introduce legislation, and communicate the decision,” Mr Allan said.
He said evidence suggested that a number of policies had been developed on the run without adequate research and community consultation.
“Only some were a response to a demonstrable, evidence-based need, involved considered alternatives, or had a policy design framework prior to implementation,” he said.
“Of the 18 policies analysed by (consultants) Howard partners, 10 failed the Wiltshire test.
“Only three of the remainder met all or almost all of the Wiltshire criteria.”
The IPAA discussion paper can be accessed at this PS News link.
10 April, 2012
More jobs on PS
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has warned that while 1,500 Public Service jobs had already been earmarked to go from the Australian Public Service, further funding cuts would see more job losses.
The union said the Department of Climate Change and Energy efficiency had announced a reduction in its workforce by up to 300 jobs (one-third of the Department’s establishment), and the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport was to lose 66.
It said other losses already made public included 500 to be cut from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; 150 from Treasury; 100 from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism; 75 from the Australian Bureau of Statistics; 70 from the Fair Work Ombudsman; 65 from the Department of Veterans Affairs; 50 from ComSuper; 20 from the National Museum; 17 from the National Gallery; 11 from the National Library and10 from the Australia Council.
The Department of Health and Ageing had also indicated a proposal to cut more than 100 positions.
National Secretary of the CPSU, Nadine Flood said she was “deeply concerned” about the “single-mindedness” of the Government in cutting jobs to deliver a short term budget surplus.
“We’re calling on the Government to identify what functions and services it will no longer deliver as a result of these Budget cuts,” Ms Flood said.
“Given that two out of three Public Service jobs are located outside of Canberra, we are particularly concerned that these cuts will hit regional Australia hard.
“Because of the Government’s single-mindedness about returning the Budget to surplus, we are expecting more pain for public services in May’s Budget.”
Prime Minister, Julia Gillard said she valued the contribution of Public Servants but admitted that more cuts could be possible.
“As a Government we’ve also got to take some tough choices to generate a budget surplus for 2012-13,” Ms Gillard said.
“That’s the right thing to do by our economy now in these days of structural change.”
10 April, 2012
Big findings in
The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has released some findings from its latest APS Micro-Agency Snapshot Survey.
The Snapshot was undertaken in August and September last year, covering Agencies of less than 100 employees.
“This modified version of the State of the Service Report Employee Survey had a response rate of 62.38 per cent, with 338 employees from 13 agencies participating,” the APSC said.
According to the APSC, the report revealed that the strengths of smaller agencies included high levels of employee engagement; favourable health and wellbeing outcomes; and great respect for the integrity and honesty of Agency leaders and supervisors.
It identified the main weaknesses as a lack of confidence in agency grievance resolution processes; perceptions that managers did not deal well with underperforming employees; and over half the respondents believed there were barriers to innovation in their Agency.
The Snapshot found that around 52 per cent of respondents believed their performance feedback sessions helped them improve their performance and although about 12 per cent were of retirement age, only five per cent intended to retire in the next two years.
“Of the 21 SES leaders who responded, 61.9 per cent were female, which is in contrast to the APS as a whole where only 38.20 per cent of SES employees are female,” the APSC said.
“Since 1998 the Australian Public Service Commission has had a legislated requirement to produce an annual report summarising the state of the APS.
“2011 was the first year that micro-Agencies were invited to participate.”
It said the report was divided into six sections, outlining organisational strengths and weaknesses in employee engagement; leadership and culture; employee health and wellbeing; performance management; recruitment and retention; and innovation and social media.
10 April, 2012
The Australian Information Commissioner has proposed a new framework for imposing charges under the Freedom of Information (FOI) law.
at FOI charges
The Commissioner, Professor John McMillan said the charges played an important role in the FOI scheme which supported transparent, accountable and responsive Government.
Professor McMillan said a new report recommended amendments to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to enable a better balance between providing public access to Government information and protecting the responsibilities of Agencies and Ministers.
“A balance must be struck, but the current method in the FOI Act of striking that balance is inadequate,” Professor McMillan said.
“The charging framework is not easy to administer, the cost of assessing or collecting a charge can be higher than the charge itself, and the scale of charges is outdated and unrealistic.”
He said the report had arisen from a review, commenced in October 2011, which involved a discussion paper; consultation with the public, Australian Government Agencies and advisory committees; and consideration of written submissions.
“Members of the public told me that FOI costs should not be a barrier to someone exercising their democratic right to access information,” he said.
“Nor should charges discriminate against economically disadvantaged applicants.
“Government Agencies raised various issues relating to the complexity of the charges framework and that the scale of charges has not altered since 1986.
Professor McMillan said the theme throughout the report supporting the proposals was that applicants and Agencies could equally benefit from a new charges framework that was clear, easy to administer and understand.
“A new charges framework can support Agencies in building an open and responsive culture,” he said.
“It can also provide a pathway for applicants to frame requests that can be administered promptly and attract little or no processing charge.”
The full report can be accessed at this PS News link.
10 April, 2012
Apples appeal for
The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) has certified the use of Government-owned iPhones and iPads for classified communications.
Acting Director of DSD, Mike Burgess said the Agency had been working closely with industry to develop practical instructions for Government to securely use the latest technologies.
“Embracing new technologies, such as smart phones and tablet PCs, provides Government with a genuine opportunity to conduct its business more efficiently,” Mr Burgess said.
“However the threat of Government information being stolen or compromised is also very real.
“DSD is continuously working to help Agencies better protect valuable Government information, while still enabling them to benefit from the advantages of these devices.”
He said DSD had worked to enable Government-owned devices running the latest Apple operating system (iOS version 5) to safely communicate and store classified information up to the ‘PROTECTED’ level.
“The iOS5 successfully passed an evaluation using a stringent and intensive security assessment to ensure it met Australian Government information security requirements,” Mr Burgess said.
“The formal security evaluation, the first of its kind for iOS5, covers devices that are owned and managed by Australian Government Agencies that have implemented specific DSD security advice.”
More information on the outcome of the evaluation is available from this PS News link.
10 April, 2012
Policy call-up as
The Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Reform Council has called on COAG to respond to ongoing policy issues in the lead-up to its meeting this week.
Chairman of the COAG Reform Council, Paul McClintock said COAG said last year it would be closely monitoring important national reforms and the Reform Council had made a number of recommendations which needed to be addressed.
“There are some important findings in our recent reports and so we hope that COAG will respond to them,” Mr McClintock said.
“The Council’s reports on education and skills, released in September last year, found that Governments were making some important gains but that gaps still remained.
“Our biggest concerns centred on students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and declining attendance rates for Indigenous students.”
He said the Reform Council also found there had been no improvement in young people’s participation in post-school engagement in education, training and work since 2001 and another report on the seamless national economy had found 12 reforms at risk of not being completed including harmonised occupational health and safety laws; directors’ liability reforms; the national trade licensing system; national regulation of the legal profession; and energy reforms.
“This is now urgent,” Mr McClintock said.
“With less than nine months to go to meet the December 2012 deadline, COAG must find ways to get these at risk reforms back on track.”
He said the Council was also looking to COAG to finalise updated implementation plans at its meeting.
“We recommended improved plans to support implementation and improve public accountability,” he said.
“In addition, the Council would like to see COAG act on the overview report on the COAG reform agenda, which was released in September 2011.”
COAG is due to meet on Friday (13 April).
10 April, 2012
Market reforms take
Recommendations by the Council of Financial Regulators on reforms to the oversight of Australia’s financial market infrastructure have been released by the Treasurer, Wayne Swan.
stock of markets
The reforms arose from the Treasurer’s 2011 decision to prohibit the Singapore Stock Exchange from taking over the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).
“I asked the Council to advise on potential reforms last year following my decision to prohibit the acquisition of ASX Limited by Singapore Exchange Limited,” Mr Swan said.
He said the Council’s proposals were aimed at ensuring the continued protection of the interests of investors, businesses, and market participants.
“Australia’s strong, well-regulated financial system has been critical in ensuring our economy withstood the worst of the Global Financial Crisis and the continued turbulence in international financial markets,” Mr Swan said.
“The Government is committed to ensuring Australia’s regulatory settings continue to keep our vital market infrastructure strong and secure.”
He said the Council’s recommendations included new powers for regulators to require market operators to be substantially located in Australia and for them to be governed by ‘fit and proper’ persons.
He said other recommendations included enhanced ‘step in’ powers for regulators; stronger powers for regulators to give directions to operators and to impose sanctions where they failed to comply.
He said his reasons for rejecting the Singapore takeover of the ASX set out a number of fundamental concerns “based on unambiguous and unanimous advice from the Foreign Investment Review Board that the proposal was contrary to the national interest”.
“The proposal also highlighted the need for reforms to strengthen our regulators’ oversight of key market infrastructure, particularly in respect of any future commercial arrangement involving ASX and an overseas exchange.”
He said Treasury would engage with stakeholders on a six-week period of consultations to consider options for implementing the final framework.
The Council’s recommendations and details on consultation can be accessed at this PS News link.
10 April, 2012
Auditor stars in
An audit of the on-and-off tender processes governing provision of the Australia Network television service has produced important lessons for the future, according to the Auditor-General, Ian McPhee.
TV network audit
In his audit report Administration of the Australia Network Tender, Mr McPhee said one of the reasons for investigating the process was to uncover any lessons that may be learnt and his audit team had done exactly that.
The controversial tender was called in February 2011 after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) had successfully provided the international broadcasting service since 2001.
The tender attracted bids from the ABC and a commercial television service before being modified by Ministers and eventually scrapped when the Government decided to allocate responsibility for the Australia Network to the ABC on a permanent basis.
“One of the reasons for conducting this audit was to identify lessons learned from the conduct of the tender process to inform future procurement activities,” Mr McPhee said.
He said his team came up with three.
“Firstly, it is important that, where it is intended that Ministers or Cabinet have a formal role in a tender process, that this be made clear,” he said.
“Secondly, information security is critically important.
“There are accepted ways within Government of managing this, namely, by not circulating confidential tender information to any departmental officers, Ministers or their staff, unless they are part of the tender decision-making process.”
He said that finally, all parties involved in the management of a tender process should have regard to the importance of adhering to conventional procurement arrangements.
“The Government may also wish to reflect on Ministers performing the role of an approver, in situations where the Minister’s portfolio bodies may be submitting tenders for services to be determined by Government,” Mr McPhee said.
“In such circumstances, any perception of a conflict of interest could be mitigated by the Government agreeing to another Minister, or more than one Minister, approving the tender outcome.
“The audit has not made any recommendations.”
The Full audit report can be accessed at this PS News link and the audit team was Andrew Huey, Bronwen Jaggers, Joe Keshina, Emily Wells and Mark Simpson.
10 April, 2012
Energy website gives
The Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (DRET) has launched a new Energy Efficiency Exchange website to promote the use of world’s best practice in energy efficiency to industry.
power to industry
The website has been designed for medium and high energy-using companies to assist them to incorporate energy efficiency practices across their business to help them save money and improve their productivity.
The Department said it had developed the website through the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency (NSEE) in conjunction with the States and Territories.
“The website has been developed in response to ongoing industry feedback gathered over the first five years of the Energy Efficiency Opportunities program (EEO), also run by DRET,” the Department said.
“Industry has consistently reported a need for good quality energy efficiency information in a central location, from a reputable source.”
It said that finding the correct energy efficiency information could be time-consuming for those in industry who were in charge of developing and running their company’s energy systems.
“When they do find the information, the quality is often mixed,” it said.
“One industry employee reported having spent two hours unsuccessfully trying to source details on the best lighting options for a factory retro-fit.”
The Department said the content on the website was peer-reviewed and reviewed by industry peak bodies and experts during the development stages, to ensure it was relevant and applicable to the industries it was designed to serve.
“The website also features detailed, referenced, information resources, relevant links and contacts for those wanting to gain a more in-depth understanding of energy efficiency principles and research,” it said.
The website can be accessed at this PS News link.
10 April, 2012
Police on patrol
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has launched a new recruitment campaign which aims to attract 250 new police officers over the next two years.
for new recruits
Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Jason Clare said the Anything but every day campaign was a big part of the search for extraordinary people to help fight crime.
Mr Clare said 200 new officers were needed to join ACT Policing and about 50 Federal Agents for positions in Sydney or Melbourne.
“Successful applicants will have the opportunity to be a police officer in the ACT or a Federal Agent conducting national and multi-jurisdictional investigations based in Australia or overseas,” Mr Clare said.
“We’re looking for people who enjoy a challenge, want to contribute to the community and have excellent people skills, empathy and integrity.”
ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Simon Corbell said the 200 police for Canberra would make a big difference in fighting local crime.
“Canberra is a growing city, and the new 200 police officers on the street will make a big difference for the ACT community,” Mr Corbell said.
“Policing is an incredibly rewarding career and I encourage anyone who has ever considered serving the community in this way to get online and apply.”
Mr Clare said the AFP was also seeking to develop the diversity of its workforce more and was encouraging women, Indigenous Australians and people of culturally diverse backgrounds to apply.
“Applicants must be an Australian citizen, hold an unrestricted driver’s licence, a Year 12 certificate (or equivalent) and be over the age of 18,” he said.
Applications close 11 May 2012 and more information is available from this PS News link.
10 April, 2012
A further step in the procurement of cloud and cloud-like services for Government data centres has been unveiled by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).
down to Earth
The Data Centre as a Service (DCaaS) stage of the procurement process has been unveiled in a blog on the AGIMO website by the Agency’s John Sheridan.
Mr Sheridan said DCaaS was the next tranche of work in the Data Centre Strategy.
“We have been putting a lot of thought into how we can simplify procurement of and reduce transaction costs for cloud and cloud-like services while ensuring that we still meet the necessary procurement requirements,” Mr Sheridan said.
“In November 2011, we invited industry to address our cross-agency reference group.
“The industry presentations helped explain the benefits of cloud computing for the Australian Government and demonstrated to us that cloud offerings are maturing.”
He said the approach to sourcing such services needed to ensure that Agencies could consume new services as they became available.
“We have determined that a standard panel approach will not meet this requirement,” Mr Sheridan said.
He said a new approach was needed that had several important characteristics including flexibility; agility; balanced risk; pre-qualification; and ease of comparison.
“As part of the consultation, we’ll be conducting a series of industry presentations on DCaaS,” he said.
Detailed information about the proposed approach is available on the AGIMO website with comments invited until 30 April.
“Your views are crucial in assisting us to develop an arrangement that suits the needs of both government and industry.”
“Assuming comments are favourable, we’re also considering a similar approach for an ICT services multi-use list to replace the current arrangements.”
More information is available from this PS News link.
10 April, 2012
Stamp of approval
Australia Post has released two new stamps to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
for Queen’s stamp
Philatelic Manager at Australia Post, Michael Zsolt said 2012 year marked the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s ascent to the throne and Australia Post had celebrated the milestone with the release of one domestic rate (60c) stamp and one international rate ($2.35).
“Australia Post is delighted to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with the release of this stamp issue,” Mr Zsolt said.
“We trust this special stamp issue provides collectors and the public with a memento to mark this historic event.”
The Royal Jubilee will see celebratory activities taking place throughout the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth during the year.
The Queen came to the throne on 6 February 1952 at age 25, following the death of her father, King George VI.
Her Coronation took place over a year later on 2 June 1953.
The only other British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee was Queen Victoria in 1897.
Mr Zsolt said the two stamps featured photographic portraits of the Queen across her reign.
“The first portrait, featured on the 60 cent stamp was photographed by Baron Sterling Henry Nahum in 1953,” he said.
“The second portrait, featured on the $2.35 stamp was photographed by Jane Bown in 2006 on the occasion of Her Majesty’s 80th birthday.”
He said to further mark the occasion Australia Post was releasing a precious-metal international presentation pack in conjunction with Royal Mail.
“The pack includes two silver replicas of stamps which feature two iconic portraits of the Queen,” Ms Zsolt said.
“Both stamps are made of 999.0 Pure Silver.
“It is a limited edition and 2,000 of the 2,400 produced worldwide will be available from Australia Post.”
He said in addition to the standard product range, two limited edition commemorative covers were also being released.
The products are available from Australia Post retail outlets or by mail order while stocks last.
10 April, 2012
Hardline software to
Software used in a child exploitation investigation which saw 15 people arrested is to be rolled-out Australia-wide.
Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Jason Clare said $4.58 million would be allocated to provide police forces across the country with access to the Child Exploitation Tracking System.
Mr Clare said the system allowed police to compare seized child exploitation material against a national database of previously seized and reviewed child exploitation material.
“It will allow police to process large volumes of evidence without repeated exposure to these horrible images,” Mr Clare said.
“It has the ability to analyse tens of thousands of images in one hour instead of manually examining images over the course of several weeks.
“It also allows police in different States and Territories to work together on child exploitation investigations through a common system.”
He said the system held an identifier of ‘already seen or confiscated’ material which allowed police to concentrate on investigating new material.
“The system extracts images from seized hardware, automatically identifies known content and presents the new material to the investigator in an easy to use system,” he said.
“The investigator then analyses the new content, categorises it and stores it in the national Child Exploitation Tracking System so that it is available for future investigations by any investigating officer with access to the system, anywhere in the country.
“This information can also be shared with other police forces from overseas.”
Mr Clare said police were being given the tools they needed to combat child exploitation.
“I can’t think of a worse crime than preying on children,” he said.
“This technology will be very important in identifying and catching the people who commit these terrible crimes.
“In the past six years the AFP has arrested 850 offenders for 1,123 charges related to child sex offences.”
10 April, 2012
The National Water Commission has released its latest annual reports on the performance of Australia’s urban water utilities and rural water service providers.
taps into reports
Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell said the wet conditions of the last two years, following severe drought, demonstrated the challenge of delivering water services in Australia.
“The urban report shows that the water industry is performing well in delivering water and wastewater services to 18.7 million Australians, including very high quality drinking water,” Senator Farrell said.
“The rural report demonstrates that investment in infrastructure renewal to modernise irrigation networks and install new metering technologies is boosting efficiency and reducing water losses.”
He said the reports also noted that water availability had increased dramatically during 2010/11, when some of the most significant flooding in recorded history occurred over eastern Australia and at the same time a number of major water security projects were completed.
He said the Commission’s work continued to be valuable.
“I recently introduced a Bill proposing to continue the National Water Commission, subject to endorsement by the Council of Australian Governments,” Senator Farrell said.
“These reports demonstrate how the Commission contributes greatly by providing good quality information on the performance of the organisations that deliver our water.”
Acting Chair of the National Water Commission, Stuart Bunn said Australia’s water service providers and jurisdictions provided vital leadership in developing the reports.
“The Australian water sector has a chance to take stock before storages are again tested by drought,” Mr Bunn said.
“Although considerable gains have been made, we need renewed and forward-looking reform to ensure our water supplies remain safe and reliable.
“In particular, the Commission believes there is scope for further reforms that set clearer water security objectives, promote better customer choice, and send clearer price signals.”
The National Water Commission reports can be accessed at this PS News link.
10 April, 2012
Warnings pushed for
A new campaign warning parents about the hazards of ‘button batteries’ has been launched by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury said The Battery Controlled campaign highlighted the risk of potential injury to small children from swallowing button or coin-sized batteries which were found in many modern electronic devices and toys.
Mr Bradbury said Kidsafe and battery producer, Energizer, were also helping the ACCC to make parents aware of the potential hazards.
“If swallowed, button or coin-sized batteries can pose a serious risk of injury or even death,” Mr Bradbury said.
“The small batteries can become stuck in a child’s throat and burn through the oesophagus in as little as two hours.”
He said as part of the new campaign the ACCC would be working with suppliers on better, more child-safe designs of battery compartments and liaising with health professionals about reducing the risks of misdiagnosis and delays in treatment for children who had swallowed button batteries.
“This is a new and severe risk to young children,” he said.
“Parents should try and keep devices using button batteries out of reach of children if the battery compartments can’t be secured, and loose batteries should always be locked away.
“If your child swallows one of these batteries, take them to your nearest emergency department immediately and call the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126 for further treatment information.”
More information about the campaign can be accessed at this PS News link.
10 April, 2012
No catches in
Two international treaties have been ratified as part of an effort to manage and conserve fish stocks in high seas areas of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig said the Australian ratification of the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement and the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean made sense, given Australia’s strong management of domestic fisheries.
“Here at home, we have some of the best managed fisheries in the world,” Senator Ludwig said.
“These treaties will close a governance gap in important high seas fisheries that neighbour Australia’s domestic fisheries and they will ensure that fishing for those stocks will be subject to international regulation.”
He said by being a party to the treaties, Australia had the opportunity to shape the management of these resources and secure participatory rights for the Australian fishing industry.
“If we’re using the resources, we should have a say in their management,” he said.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr said the ratification showed Australia’s commitment to responsibly managing the valuable resource of the oceans.
“Fishery resources are critical to many countries in our region, especially in the Pacific, as a source of income and food security,” Senator Carr said.
“These treaties represent an important step forward in their better management.”
He said the treaties would manage and conserve deep sea and non-highly migratory fishery resources in previously unregulated areas of the south Pacific and southern Indian Oceans.
“Fishery resources covered by the treaties include commercially valuable deep-water species such as orange roughy and alfonsino, which the Australian industry has been fishing for well over a decade,” he said.
3 April, 2012
And in other news...
IPAA meets on ACT
The Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) (ACT Division) is to hold a round table discussion on ACT Governance.
IPAA said a recent report on ACT governance indicated a number of weaknesses in its capacity including the size of the Legislative Assembly and the small number of Cabinet members for a system that combined State and Local Government functions.
The free event is to be held on 26 April at the ACT Legislative Assembly Reception Room and more information is available at this PS News link.
90 jobs go at Vets Affairs
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is to cut 90 jobs across Australia.
The positions are to be shed nationally by a process of renewing employee contracts, not filling vacant positions and through voluntary redundancies.
According to the Community and Public Sector Union, the Department needs to cut the jobs quickly to meet its lower budget allocation for the coming financial year.
It proposes to make up for the lack of staff by raising the overpayment limit it investigates from $200 to $1,000 and extending the waiting time for veterans’ to receive pension adjustments from 16 days to 40.
Computer cure launched
A diagnostic website has been developed to show computer users whether or not their machines are infected with the DNSChanger virus which can affect a computer’s ability to access the internet.
The diagnostic tool was developed jointly by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, CERTAustralia (the Federal Government’s computer emergency response team) and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
The website can be accessed at this PS News link.
NBN starts work
Construction of the national fibre network for the National Broadband Network (NBN) has begun and will be rolled out to over 3.5 million homes, businesses, schools and hospitals over the next three years.
The rollout began in 1 April 2012 and will continue until 30 June 2015 when a new phase will be launched.
CPSU mentioned at awards
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) health and safety team have received a special mention at the ACTU National Union Awards.
The team were recognised for their work in negotiating new arrangements for managing workplace health and safety issues in the Department of Human Services.
Deputy National President of the CPSU, Lisa Newman, said it was fantastic that the hard work of union delegates were being recognised.
A $100 million agreement has been entered between the Australian and Victorian Governments to secure the future of the Australian Synchrotron.
The Commonwealth is to provide $69 million for the Synchrotron over the next four years, with the Victorian Government contributing $26 million.
The Synchrotron hosts more than 3,000 researchers each year and conducts about 500 experiments.
CSIRO enters aviation deal
A five-year, $25 million strategic research program has been developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and aircraft manufacturer Boeing to see new innovation in space sciences, advanced materials, energy and direct manufacturing.
The agreement is the next stage in a 23-year partnership between the CSIRO and Boeing.
During that time the organisations have invested about $110 million between them to develop world-leading technology innovations in aviation fuels, aircraft assembly processes, fire retardants and aircraft maintenance management software.
Human rights funding
Applications for funding under Australia’s Human Rights Framework Education Grants are now open.
The grants provide small amounts to a wide range of community organisations to deliver practical, grassroots human rights education projects for the community and vulnerable groups.
More information is available at this PS News link and applications close 9 May 2012.
Military law centre opens
The purpose-built Australian Defence Force Military Law Centre has been officially opened at Victoria Barracks in Paddington, NSW.
The Military Law Centre was established by the Department of Defence in 2001 to provide professional in-service training for Australian Defence Force legal officers, and forms the ADF component of the Asia-Pacific Military Law Centre (APCML).
The new centre will house both the ADF Military Law Centre and the Asia-Pacific Centre for Military Law (military node).
Indigenous heritage grants
Applications are now open for the Indigenous Heritage Program grants.
The Indigenous Heritage Program (IHP) is an ongoing competitive annual grants program which provides $3.645 million to support the identification, conservation, and promotion of heritage places important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
More information is available at this PS News link and applications close 11 June 2012.
3 April, 2012
Police steal march
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have unveiled a new facility to develop cutting edge technologies to be used in the fight against crime.
in IT innovation
The AFP Innovation Centre is one of the first of its kind in the Government sector and aims to enhance innovative thinking in the field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
Chief Technology Officer at the AFP, Scott MacLeod said the Centre provided a strong foundation for the AFP to lead the way in emerging technological concepts.
“The AFP Innovation Centre provides a strong basis for focusing on the identification, trial and application of new and emerging technologies in support of current and future operations and business needs,” Mr MacLeod said.
“The Centre positions the AFP at the forefront of new and emerging technologies and will play an integral role in enhancing the AFP’s crime fighting capability”.
He said the Centre was uniquely designed so the AFP would be able to efficiently trial and evaluate new products prior to making purchasing decisions.
He said a multi-platform environment transformed the Centre into a practical environment for vendors to introduce their products to the AFP, in conjunction with the AFP network and standalone systems.
Mr MacLeod said vendors would be able to demonstrate their products to the AFP in real-time to quickly identify any ‘glitches’, allowing for new levels of evaluation and feedback.
3 April, 2012
Officers lined up
New legislation to subject Commonwealth law enforcement officers to covert integrity testing has been announced by the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Jason Clare.
for secret testing
Mr Clare said the new anti-corruption measures would apply to officers from the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service suspected of corruption. .
“Integrity tests are covert operations designed to test whether a public official will respond to a simulated situation in a manner that is illegal or would contravene an Agency’s standard of integrity,” Mr Clare said.
He said examples of integrity testing included leaving valuable goods at a simulated crime scene to test whether an officer would steal them; and having an undercover operative offer a Commonwealth officer a bribe.
He said the new legislation would be the first of a series of measures to be introduced to strengthen Federal law enforcement Agencies against corruption.
“There is no place for corruption in our Public Service,” Mr Clare said.
“It is a fact that law enforcement officers are targeted by criminals because of the nature of their work.
“Where we find corruption we have to weed it out.”
The plan to test the officers drew a cautious reaction from the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) which called for more details.
National Secretary of the Union, Nadine Flood said Customs staff were deeply offended by suggestions about widespread corruption in their workplace.
“The reality is 99.9 per cent of public sector workers do the right thing,” Ms Flood said.
“They feel they are being unfairly tarred by this brush.”
She said the CPSU supported sensible and necessary anti-corruption measures, but was not convinced that “creating a climate of anxiety, paranoia and fear in the workplace” was the best way to go.
“Without underestimating the seriousness of this issue, the biggest threat to the integrity of Australia’s border security remains ongoing budget cuts and understaffing,” Ms Flood said.
3 April, 2012
COAG goes to town
The Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Reform Council has conducted a landmark review of Australia’s capital cities and found that Governments need to do more to plan better for future land use, infrastructure and economies.
on city planning
Chairman of the COAG Reform Council, Paul McClintock said Governments needed to improve the way they bring together different aspects of their city planning.
“Just like you can’t solve a Rubik’s cube one side at a time, you can’t deal with land use, infrastructure and economic development separately,” Mr McClintock said.
He said the Council found both strengths and weaknesses in the long-term planning of each capital city.
“Our report found that while Governments have shown strong commitment to improve their planning systems, none of their systems are entirely consistent with COAG’s agreed criteria to re-shape our capital cities,” he said.
“In assessing the eight cities, it was clear that Governments share a number of common goals, issues and challenges and no one government has all the policy levers and expertise to deal with them.”
Mr McClintock said COAG’s reforms and the review process demonstrated the value of collaboration by Governments on planning capital cities.
“It is absolutely essential that all nine Governments continue to work together to achieve COAG’s objective for our capital cities,” he said.
“Governments have shown a strong commitment to improve their planning systems and we appreciate their active participation in our review.”
He said the Council made a number of recommendations to COAG on the need to engage more with community, businesses and other stakeholders; focus more on implementing plans and getting results in cities; and consider ways to improve investment and innovation by the private sector.
“We look forward to COAG’s response to our recommendations by the middle of the year so Governments can continue to work on better equipping their cities for the challenges of the future,” Mr McClintock said.
The COAG reform Council’s full report can be accessed at this PS News link.
3 April, 2012
Auditor pays out in
The Auditor-General has released his report on an audit into the effectiveness of Centrelink’s Quality On Line (QOL) control, which supports the integrity of payments.
In his report Auditor-General, Ian McPhee said every year, millions of Australians came into contact with a range of Government Agencies that delivered a wide range of services to the community.
“Within the Human Services portfolio, Centrelink, Medicare, the Child Support Agency, CRS Australia (all within the Department of Human Services) and Australian Hearing deliver over 200 different services to the community and administer more than $130 billion in payments on an annual basis,” Mr McPhee said.
“The nature of Centrelink’s operations makes it essential that it have in place a quality assurance framework and effective controls to support high quality service delivery, which minimises the risk of payment errors occurring.”
He said in 2000, Centrelink adopted Quality on Line (QOL) as a quality control and it remains one of the key internal quality controls used by Centrelink today to support payment correctness.
“The QOL process is a preventative check that involves a QOL Checker reviewing a predetermined sample of a Customer Service Adviser’s (CSA) work activities,” the Auditor-General said.
He said his audit found there was scope for Centrelink to improve the operation of QOL by reviewing the underlying risk-based sampling approach and refocusing QOL towards higher-risk activities and excluding or reducing the sampling of low-risk activities where administrative errors were less likely to occur.
“Centrelink could also refine its sampling for QOL to target a greater volume of new claims and reduce the checking of non-new claims (existing customer claims),” he said.
“There is currently no control to provide assurance that administrative rework identified during QOL checking is being corrected by CSAs.”
He made two recommendations aimed at improving the effectiveness of QOL and maximising QOL’s contribution to Centrelink’s payment integrity performance.
The full report is available from this PS News link and the audit team was Wendy Michaels, Joe Keshina, Philip Rebula, John Reid, Matt Tolley and Nathan Williamson.
3 April, 2012
Report finds airports
The report from the Productivity Commission’s review of the economic regulation of airport services has been released.
on straight and level
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese said the Productivity Commission was asked to look at the effectiveness of current economic regulation of airports in supporting ongoing investment in infrastructure while deterring potential abuses of market power at the end of 2010.
Mr Albanese said it was also asked to examine land transport and ground access issues around major airports.
“The Government broadly accepts the Commission’s findings that the current system of regulation should be maintained but needed ongoing monitoring by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC),” Mr Albanese said.
He also welcomed the release of the ACCC’s annual Airport Monitoring Report for 2010-11 saying it provided a detailed analysis and comparison of prices, costs, profits, investment levels and quality of service at the nation’s largest airports.
“We will continue to monitor airport pricing closely and reserve the right to look at any regulatory options necessary if we find evidence of inappropriate behaviour by the major airports,” he said.
“Our priority has been to strike a balance between giving passengers the information they need about prices charged by airports and providing certainty to airport operators to continue investing in necessary airport infrastructure,” Mr Albanese said.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Jason Clare announced the Australian Federal Police (AFP) had assumed responsibility for policing and security at Sydney Airport.
Mr Clare officially opened the AFP’s $140 million new police station and canine facilities at the airport.
He said that around 100 AFP officers would be ‘on the beat’ at the airport making sure that both travellers and the people who worked there were safe.
“Previously, NSW Police and the Australian Federal Police shared responsibility for this work,” Mr Clare said.
“Over the next 12 to18 months, the Australian Federal Police will progressively take over these responsibilities at 10 major airports in Australia.”
3 April, 2012
Racism paper is
The general public has been called upon to get involved in developing a National Anti-Racism Strategy.
black and white
Commissioner for Race Discrimination, Helen Szoke made the call as she launched a discussion paper, website and online survey to kick start the conversation about addressing racism through consultation with the community.
“There are three ways you can contribute to the National Anti-Racism Strategy,” Dr Szoke said, “by making a submission in response to the Discussion Paper, by completing the online survey or by participating in a public meeting.”
She said the Commission was undertaking a range of public consultations until May 2012 which would provide valuable guidance to shape and form the Strategy.
“The purpose of the consultations is to raise the profile of the Strategy, in addition to collecting ideas - we want to hear what you think works and about other successful strategies that have been used in the past,” she said.
“The National Anti-Racism Partnership and Strategy aims to promote a clear understanding in the Australian community of what racism is, and how it can be prevented and reduced.”
Dr Szoke said many people had probably experienced some form of racism in their lives, either as a victim or a witness.
“The inappropriate joke, the comment on Facebook or YouTube, the school yard comments which all may seem harmless enough that they do not warrant a response,” she said.
“This is your chance to have your say on the National Anti-Racism Strategy.”
She said it was anticipated that the strategy would be launched in July 2012 and implemented over the following three years.
“The National Anti-Racism Partnership brings together expertise from Government and non-government organisations,” Dr Szoke said.
“The strong coordinated approach will ensure the implementation of an effective anti-racism strategy that responds to community needs.”
“The online submission process will run until Friday 11 May 2012.”
More information can be accessed at this PS News link.
3 April, 2012
The draft terms of reference for an Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) inquiry into the operation of copyright exceptions in the digital environment have been released for public comment.
no longer the rule
Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon said the ALRC would consider whether the exceptions in the Federal Copyright Act were adequate and appropriate in the digital environment.
“The draft terms of reference reflect the fact that technology is constantly evolving and testing the boundaries of copyright law,” Ms Roxon said.
“In our fast changing, technologically driven world, it important to ensure our copyright laws are keeping pace with change and able to respond to future challenges.
“We want to ensure this review has enough scope to look at the key areas of copyright so we are calling on stakeholders to provide us with their feedback before the ALRC begins its work.”
She said the draft terms of reference asked the ALRC to examine the adequacy and appropriateness of a broad range of exceptions in the Copyright Act, including time shifting.
“The draft terms of reference also direct the ALRC to consider whether exceptions should allow the legitimate non-commercial use of copyright works for uses on the internet such as social networking,” she said.
Ms Roxon said the Dean of Law at the University of Technology Sydney, Professor Jill McKeough, had been appointed to the ALRC as a Commissioner to lead the copyright inquiry.
“As Australia’s foremost law reform institution, the ALRC is well suited to undertake this important work to ensure that the Copyright Act continues to be effective in the 21st century,” she said.
“An examination of the exceptions in the Copyright Act will ensure Australia can continue to take advantage of technology to drive economic and cultural development.”
The draft terms of reference for the review can be accessed at this PS News link and submissions and comments close 27 April.
3 April, 2012
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has released its first report on the enforcement actions it took during the period 1 July 2011 to 31 December.
The report outlines categories of gatekeepers against whom ASIC took action including financial advisers, responsible entities, credit licensees, market participants, directors, company officers, insolvency practitioners and auditors.
Chairman of ASIC, Greg Medcraft said there were broadly four principles of conduct gatekeepers must observe.
“They must display honesty by respecting other people’s property and not using a position of trust for self-advantage; diligence by applying due care and skill to advice or decision making; competence by meeting any applicable conduct, licensing, registration and training obligations; and independence by managing conflicts of interest appropriately,” Mr Medcraft said.
“When gatekeepers do not demonstrate these behaviours, we act.”
He said ASIC was committed to tracking down and punishing wrongdoers and deterring further misconduct.
“No one is beyond the law, and we have the resources to take on the big cases where it is in the public interest to do so,” he said.
“The release of ASIC’s first enforcement report shows the breadth of our enforcement activities and demonstrates the type of poor conduct we are focused on.”
It is anticipated that similar reports on ASIC’s enforcement activity will be released every six months.
The first report is available at this PS News link.
3 April, 2012
The next steps in school funding reform are now underway according to the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett.
goes up a grade
Mr Garrett said State and Territory Governments, non-government school sectors and school education unions had been given access to the detailed modelling tool used by the Gonski Review of School Funding.
He said the education community would now be able to test the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) model, developed by the review panel, by using more extensive and up-to-date data than that which was available to the panel.
“As Mr Gonski and the review panel made clear, there is still a lot of work to do to test and refine the various elements of their proposed funding model,” Mr Garrett said.
“This includes testing the proposed funding amount per student, and examining whether the loadings for disadvantage are set at the right levels.
“We are asking everyone involved in school funding to carry out these tests and come back and share the results with the various working groups we’ve established, as well as the Ministerial Reference Group.”
He said the feedback would allow the Government to see where the SRS model might need refining and tweaking; how it might impact on schools and systems; and also gain a better understanding of any financial implications.
“The Ministerial Reference Group will provide a forum for all school systems and stakeholders, including principals and parents, to examine the recommendations of the funding review, share information and commission new work,” he said.
“As the Gonski Report confirmed, we need to do more to lift student performance in Australia and close the gap between disadvantaged students and more well-off students.
“Our future prosperity as a nation depends on us having world-class schools. “Australia can’t afford not to act.”
More information is available at this PS News link.
3 April, 2012
A new handbook detailing the Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) has been launched by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
is a carbon copy
Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus said the CFI had opened for business in December and encouraged farmers, land owners, Local Government and other stakeholders to generate extra revenue by reducing agricultural and landfill waste pollution.
“The Carbon Farming Initiative Handbook will be a great resource for Australia’s farmers,” Mr Dreyfus said.
“It sets out how farmers and landholders can improve land and farm sustainability while generating carbon credits that can be sold on domestic and international markets.”
Minister for Agriculture, Senator Joe Ludwig said the handbook explained the CFI from start to finish.
“This handbook contains everything farmers and landholders need to know about the CFI,” Senator Ludwig said.
“The handbook outlines how the CFI works, who administers it, who can participate and how to get involved.
“It answers the questions many people have, and maps out the steps to take to make the most of the opportunities the CFI presents for our farmers.”
He said one of the best ways farmers and landholders could manage the risks posed by climate change was to take advantage of the CFI.
“Agriculture in Australia is headed toward a period of real opportunity, but that stands challenged by climate change and the uncertainty it presents to our production into the future,” he said.
“The CFI is a win-win for our farmers it opens up new revenue streams and helps deal with the impacts of a changing climate and build resilience in the land sector.”
Copies of the handbook are available at this PS News link.
3 April, 2012
Art lovers hooked
A new exhibition has been launched at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
on fish display
Fish in Australian art features pieces ranging from Indigenous rock paintings and scientific illustrations to 20th century contemporary multimedia, all depicting fish in Australian art.
The exhibition was jointly developed by art historian, author and collector Stephen Scheding and museum curator Penny Cuthbert.
Mr Scheding said the exhibition showed how the simple subject of fish had been a source of artistic inspiration for hundreds of years.
“Spanning centuries, art movements, and mediums Fish in Australian art presents more than 170 works from well-known Australian artists such as Margaret Olley, William Dobell, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Rupert Bunny, Anne Zahalka, John Brack, Michael Leunig, John Olsen, Craig Walsh and others
all within the unique context of fish and fishing,” Mr Scheding said.
“While there have been many books and exhibitions on plants, flowers and birds in Australian art, fish have been virtually overlooked.
“Drawing on the National Maritime Museum’s own collection of maritime art together with works on loan from public and private collections around the country, this fish-eye view of Australian art history reveals a remarkable and surprising body of work from the purely descriptive to the wonderfully eccentric.”
Mr Scheding said Fish in Australian art would open to the public on 5 April 2012.
Entry to the exhibition is included in general admission to the museum ($7 adults, $3.50 child/concession or $17.50 for families) and more information can be accessed at this PS News link.
3 April, 2012
Reef no barrier
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has detailed its approach to managing recreational activity on the Reef as coastal communities continue to grow.
Chairman of the GBRMPA, Russell Reichelt said recreation on the Great Barrier Reef was woven into the social fabric of coastal communities all along the Queensland coast and it generated significant economic value.
“Every year, there’s about 14 million recreational visits by local residents plus visits by travellers from outside the Great Barrier Reef region,” Dr Reichelt said.
“It’s important for recreational users to be able to enjoy the Marine Park, now and into the future. Spending time on the Reef encourages visitors to care about its protection and long-term future.
“This magnificent natural wonder is a unique experience available for all to enjoy.”
He said the Recreation Management Strategy for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park would provide marine managers with a roadmap to manage for sustainable recreational activities, for the continued enjoyment of all visitors.
“As the populations of coastal towns continue to expand, there are more recreational visitors to the Reef to boat, fish, sail, dive, snorkel and swim,” he said.
“An increase in recreational use has the potential to impact on the ecosystem and we want to encourage visitors to look after the environment during their visit.”
Dr Reichelt said if not properly managed, the Marine Park could be affected by anchor damage to coral and seagrass meadows; littering; boat strikes on marine mammals and turtles; and damage to coral when snorkelling and diving.
“The risks are higher near major regional centres,” he said.
More information about the Authority’s plans can be accessed at this PS News link.
3 April, 2012
The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) has welcomed nine million visitors to its travelling exhibitions across the country since the touring program began in 1988.
past 9 million
Director of the NGA, Ron Radford said it was a significant milestone for the program.
“We are delighted that over nine million visitors have experienced the national art collection in every State and Territory” Dr Radford said.
“We will continue to further develop and tour a superb, diverse range of exhibitions, with nine shows travelling across the nation in the next year.”
He said since its 1988 launch, the travelling exhibition program had brought more than 117 travelling exhibitions to over 730 venues in all States and Territories and, occasionally, overseas.
“This is the most extensive and comprehensive travelling exhibitions program in Australia,” he said.
“It is the Gallery’s aim to contribute significantly to the nation’s cultural enrichment and for every Australian to experience their National Gallery of Australia, wherever they may be.”
Dr Radford said the program had begun its first major travelling exhibition with Australian portraits: 18801960.
It’s next tours would be the major retrospective Fred Williams: infinite horizons which would open at the National Gallery of Victoria on 5 April; and Roy Lichtenstein: Pop Remix, opening 19 April 2012 at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery.
3 April, 2012
Sports the winner in
Representatives from 14 Pacific nations have met in Brisbane to examine ways sport could be used to fight diseases like diabetes and obesity.
Such diseases have become leading causes of death and disability throughout the Pacific.
Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles said representatives at the Healthy Islands through Sport forum discussed how they could work together and use sport as a tool to improve the health behaviours of people in the Pacific.
“Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes and obesity place a burden on local health systems and reduce productivity and household income,” Mr Marles said.
“Sport can play a powerful role by increasing physical activity and its profile and popularity can raise awareness of healthy behaviours such as better diets, less alcohol and stopping smoking.”
He said Australia was committed to helping Pacific nations tackle serious health problems through a four year program of support which included expanding the existing Australian Sports Outreach Program.
“With a strong focus on increasing physical activity existing sports programs will deliver vital health messages,” he said.
“We are already seeing results.
“For example, in Vanuatu, the Australian Sports Outreach Program helped communities on Aniwa Island plan and deliver football and volleyball activities, contributing to a 50 per cent reduction in obesity among participants between 2009 and 2010.”
Mr Marles said Australia would also assist health and sport sectors in Pacific island countries to take joint action to reduce the prevalence and burden of NCDs in the region.
“By working together we will ultimately see a healthier, more active Pacific region,” he said.