SearchArchives for February 2011
22 February, 2011
Call to toughen
The Australian Institute of Criminology has called for tougher requirements in Government tenders to help cut down the incidence of cybercrime.
The AIC also suggests Agencies play a greater role in helping IT companies design more security-protected products.
Senior research analyst with the Commission, Raymond Choo was quoted in ZD Net as saying there was a need to “cultivate a culture of security” within Government procurement services.
“[Government should] create an environment conducive for ICT service or content providers to achieve marketing and competitive advantages if they offer products and services with higher levels and more innovative types of security,” Mr Choo said to ZD Net.
“There will never be enough policing resources to investigate all cybercrime.”
Mr Choo said a “one-stop 24/7 reporting website” could be established to help feed better cybercrime statistics to law enforcement agencies.
He said this would also enable coordinated action by Government and law enforcement agencies and the private sectors to have a better understanding of the frequency and extent of cybercrime incidents.
He said the difficulties in prosecuting individuals for online crime stem from a lack of consistency of legal frameworks across countries.
In order for a conviction to be successful, alleged misconduct must constitute an offence in both the country seeking prosecution and that in which the alleged offence was made.
Mr Choo told ZD Net, countries should establish laws to outlaw the creation of networks used for illegal purposes to crackdown on botnets and distributed denial-of-service attacks,.
Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and United States have a relatively comprehensive legislative framework in place to deal with cybercrime, he said.
Mr Choo said tougher measures should also be enforced to reduce abuse of the domain name system, including the creation of a stricter domain name registration regime, and ensuring domain names and IP addresses suspected of being used for cyber criminal activities were revoked.
22 February, 2011
A review of overseas aid advisers has found that up to a quarter of the positions could be phased out within two years.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the phasing out of 257 adviser positions was one of the findings identified in the Joint Adviser Review, which aimed to ensure that Australian investment in overseas aid was used efficiently and effectively.
He said that in May 2010 the Government announced a review of technical adviser positions in all bilateral aid programs, to be conducted jointly with partner Governments.
Mr Rudd said the recommendations would build on efforts that had already seen reliance on in-country advisers in Australia’s aid program drop from an average in 1996-2007 of 42 per cent of overseas development aid to an average 34 per cent since 2008.
He said the review also found that advisers could and did play an important role in transferring skills and expertise to partner countries – helping them to build communities capable of managing their own development.
Mr Rudd said that as a result of the Review, there were now clear measures in place to ensure that when an adviser was used, it was the most effective and appropriate response to an identified development priority.
He said the Review assessed 952 adviser positions across 20 country programs, and all five of the Review’s recommendations were accepted by the Government.
Mr Rudd also announced that an Adviser Remuneration Framework would now be applied to all commercially contracted advisers funded by AusAID, clearly capping the maximum salaries and allowances payable.
He said maximum fee levels would be about 25 per cent less than the highest rates currently being paid.
More information can be found at this PS News link.
22 February, 2011
COAG to fast track
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has decided to bring forward the deadline for introducing its Seamless National Economy (SNE) by six months to the end of 2012 and to start work on a future deregulation agenda.
Covering 36 areas of reform, including 27 business regulation reforms, eight areas of competition reform and ongoing reforms to improve processes for regulation making and review, the SNE agenda is a key element in moves to increase productivity, strengthen the national economy and create jobs.
Minister for Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong, said the Business Regulation and Competition Working Group (BRCWG) - which she co-chairs with the Minister Assisting on Deregulation, Senator Nick Sherry - was well placed to meet the new completion targets and to take on added challenges.
She said bringing forward the SNE deadline reflected a shared commitment between Commonwealth and the States and Territories in the area of regulatory and competition reform to cut business costs, improve incentives, lift productivity and increase economic output.
Senator Sherry said COAG and the BRCWG were more than capable of meeting the challenges ahead.
“The Department of Finance and Deregulation has estimated that 10 of the
27 business regulation reforms are worth about $3.5 billion per year to the economy as a whole, with $1.8 billion of this flowing to business,” Senator Sherry said.
“We’re keeping a strong focus on delivering the existing Seamless National Economy reforms, but also looking to the future by committing to developing a further deregulation agenda.”
He said the development of the future regulatory and competition reform agenda would involve identifying areas of regulatory and competition reform which have the potential to contribute to improving Australian productivity.
The BRCWG Report Card on Progress of Deregulation Priorities is available at this PS News link.
22 February, 2011
Single Department to
A review of the Australian Capital Territory’s Public Service has recommended its nine Departments be amalgamated into one and then divided into “Directorates”.
run Capital Territory
The independent study by former senior Commonwealth officer Allan Hawke, said the single-Department structure would better reflect the city-state nature of the ACT and allow greater coordination between the many areas of the bureaucracy.
ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the Government accepted the wisdom of the report in its totality and would immediately establish a high-level implementation taskforce within the ACT Public Service to work through each of the specific recommendations, advise on necessary legislative changes, timing and funding implications.
“I stressed at the outset that this review was about effectiveness, not about efficiency, and to that end I do not expect that there will be job cuts associated with the restructure,” Mr Stanhope said.
He said Dr Hawke had delivered a thoughtful and robust analysis of the structure of the ACT Public Service, which the Territory inherited from the Commonwealth at the time of Self-Government and which had remained much the same ever since.
“Dr Hawke’s review has found that while the ACT Public Service is in many respects a leader in its field, we would be better served - as a Government and as a community - by a public service designed to meet our own particular needs, taking into account the range of services provided to the community, and the kinds of challenges our city will face in the coming decades,” Mr Stanhope said.
He said the review came at a perfect time in the life of the city and was part of a suite of work by the ACT Government that included plans for a thorough review of the Self-Government Act, the first comprehensive review of Territory taxes since Self-Government, and major improvements to methods of community consultation and feedback.
The Hawke review can be found at this PS News link.
22 February, 2011
A discussion paper inviting submissions on a review of disability standards for education has been released by the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett.
promoted at school
Mr Garrett said recent figures showed the numbers of funded school students with disability increased by more than 20 per cent in the four years from 2005 to 2009.
“I’m releasing a discussion paper inviting submissions to the Review, in a move to help ensure a more inclusive Australian society which enables people with disability to achieve their full potential,” Mr Garrett said.
“The Disability Standards for Education have been in place for five years and it’s time we looked at their effectiveness in giving those with disability every opportunity to succeed in the education system.”
He said there were more than 164,000 students with disabilities in Australian schools that received support by education authorities in 2009.
“This discussion paper will help us determine how effective the Disability Standards for Education are in practice and whether they need to be amended,” Mr Garrett said.
“I encourage people with an interest in improving the education and training experience for people with disability to make a submission to the Review,” he said.
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas welcomed the review of the standards.
She said the Standards were designed to assist people with disability to access and participate in education and training opportunities and help eliminate discrimination in education and training.
Senator McLucas said the Standards also clarified the rights of students and the obligations of education providers, pre-school, school and tertiary, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.
Information on the review, including the discussion paper, is available at this PS News link.
The Government will also conduct face-to-face consultations with stakeholders in each capital city and will engage in a series of broader consultations with schools-focused disability organisations.
22 February, 2011
Savings program adds
The Child Support Agency has written to 100,000 of its clients drawing their attention to a new program that helps parents save money.
up for single parents
Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek said the Saver Plus program, which was developed by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the ANZ bank, encouraged people to save by matching their deposits dollar-for-dollar.
“Family break-up can be a difficult time for parents and their children, both emotionally and financially,” Ms Plibersek said.
“The Government is committed to helping separated parents acquire the life skills they need to meet their child support responsibilities.”
Ms Plibersek said the Child Support Agency, which facilitated child payments on behalf of separated parents, had mailed out information on the program to customers in target areas across the country.
“The program asks people to set a savings goal as well as attend 10-hours of educational workshops which explain the basics of money management,” she said.
“ANZ rewards participants by matching savings dollar-for-dollar up to $500, which then can be put towards their children’s educational needs.”
Ms Plibersek said the Child Support Agency was targeting customers in Mandurah, Kwinana, Rockingham (Western Australia), Mitchell, Murrindindi, Strathbogie, Benalla, Wangaratta, Werribee (Victoria), Blacktown, Penrith and Sydney’s inner west (New South Wales).
She said the program worked in partnership with local charities such as Anglicare, The Smith Family, Berry Street and the Benevolent Society.
Ms Plibersek said a 2008 study conducted by RMIT University found that Saver Plus “has the highest level of success of any international matched savings program”, with 96 per cent of participants meeting or exceeding their savings goals.
She said to enrol in or enquire about Saver Plus, call 1300 610 355.
Ms Plibersek said Child Support customers might also be interested in the agency’s free publication, Me and my Money, which could be ordered through this PS News link.
22 February, 2011
National push to
A National Plan to reduce violence against women and their children has been endorsed by all States and Territories.
Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis said the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 was a single unified strategy that brought together Government efforts to reduce violence against women.
She said the National Plan was the first of its kind to focus so strongly on prevention, including building respectful relationships among young people and working to increase gender equality to stop violence from occurring in the first place.
Ms Ellis said key actions under the National Plan included: supporting local community action to reduce violence against women; commitment to support the inclusion of respectful relationships education in phase three of the Australian Curriculum; and, provision of telephone support for frontline workers such as allied health, child care and paramedics to better assist clients who have experienced violence.
She said other initiatives included: new programs to stop perpetrators committing acts of violence and national standards for perpetrator programs; and establishing a national Centre of Excellence to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies to reduce violence against women.
Ms Ellis said that the National Plan had been built from an evidence base of new research and extensive consultation with experts and the community, and sets out a framework for action over the next 12 years.
She said that under the National Plan, the Australian Government would support a series of projects over the next three years to improve services for victims of domestic violence.
“We will also fund the Personal Safety Survey and the National Community Attitudes Survey every four years to track the impact of the National Plan,” Ms Ellis said.
The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 is available online at this PS News link.
22 February, 2011
Auditor blows whistle
An audit of the impact of 10 years of new policy initiatives (NPIs) on the Australian Federal Police has found the organisation unprepared , inexperienced and not structured well enough to deal with the rate and scale of change they required.
on police changes
According to Auditor-General, Ian McPhee in his report Management of the Implementation of New Policy Initiatives: Australian Federal Police, the changes imposed on the AFP have not only been “significant and complex” but have also touched most, if not all, areas of AFP operations.
Mr McPhee found that since 1999, pressures on the AFP to respond to worldwide security issues had increased significantly.
“From 1999, the emergence of a variety of new external pressures meant that the AFP, and the government’s requirements of it, changed dramatically,” he said.
“From 2000 the number and value of NPIs rose dramatically.
“Between 1999 and 2010, real expenditure on outcomes rose at 12 per cent a year.”
He said over that time, the AFP had moved to take on a central role in advising government and had now become a major agent in achieving national security and policing priorities, both domestically and abroad.
“The transformation of AFP operations since 2000–01 has been driven by over 140 NPIs, with associated funding approaching $6 billion,” The Auditor-General found.
According to Mr McPhee, despite the force being “generally effective” in updating its broad governance structures and enhancing policy development to meet its new role, the strategies it adopted have not been effective.
“The measures taken to improve organisational project management capability have had little effect and the AFP still lacks the processes, controls and structures necessary to provide the Commissioner and the Government with assurance that new policy initiatives are being delivered in accordance with the Government’s time, quality and cost expectations,” he said.
“In particular, implementation planning has been generally poor, with no consistent approach to, or clear policy on, project management across the organisation.
“Coordinated executive reporting on NPI implementation has been neither comprehensive nor rigorous.”
Mr McPhee found the AFP continues to “face significant program implementation challenges.”
He made four recommendations covering the AFP’s governance framework, planning processes, project management and risk management, all of which were agreed to by the AFP.
The full audit report can b be accessed at this PS News link.
22 February, 2011
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has been advised by the Commonwealth Ombudsman to follow proper processes when challenging a Court or tribunal decision following a case in which its refusal to grant a partner visa to a woman was overturned.
Immigration to task
Recognising that the case was a ‘difficult one”, Ombudsman Allan Asher labelled DIAC’s refusal to grant the visa despite a ruling of the Migration Review Tribunal, a “flawed decision”.
“DIAC’s request to the Tribunal that it reconsider its own decision was contrary to the established system of review and was inappropriate in the circumstances,” Mr Asher said.
He said the Department had the opportunity to apply for judicial review of the Tribunal’s decision but failed to challenge it within the required timeframe.
Instead it took what he called the “unusual step” of writing to the Tribunal asking for it to reconsider its ruling.
The Tribunal declined.
Mr Asher said the case then continued for another 18 months before the woman was granted a provisional partner visa last May.
“Then, two days later DIAC made a contradictory decision, refusing a permanent partner visa,” he said.
“It is concerning that this action may have been an attempt to avoid a Tribunal decision that DIAC disagreed with,” Mr Asher said.
Because the woman had not yet entered the country, she could not seek a review of the rejection but her partner could and he complained to the Ombudsman.
“This office recognises the complexities involved in assessing visa applications and the genuine concerns of DIAC Staff about maintaining the integrity of the visa program,” Mr Asher said.
“However, this case suggests that further action may be needed to ensure that difficult cases like this one are actively managed.”
He said partner visas allowed a person to enter or remain in Australia with their partner, whether in a married or de facto relationship, if the partner was an Australian citizen or a permanent resident.
The Ombudsman’s full report can be accessed at this PS News link.
22 February, 2011
War veterans’ review
A review of advocacy and welfare services offered to the war veterans’ community by Government-funded ex-service organisations has made 45 recommendations which the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has agreed to adopt.
right on target
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Warren Snowdon said the Review of Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) – Funded Ex-Service Organisation (ESO) Advocacy and Welfare Services Report offered many positives outcomes for Australia’s ex-service community and prescribed a framework to ensure veterans, war widow/ers and their families have access to quality advocacy, welfare and support services.
“The Review recommended important changes to help standardise ESO advocacy and welfare services and improve transparency and accountability in the way funds are distributed to the ex-service organisations that support Australia’s veteran and defence communities,” Mr Snowden said.
He said the Review covered the Building Excellence in Support and Training Program (BEST), Training Information Program (TIP), and the Veteran and Community Grants (V&C) program.
“As the needs of the veteran and defence communities change, so must these support
programs,” Mr Snowden said.
“The Review has also taken into account the valuable contribution of the volunteer workforce which always has the welfare and interests of the veteran community as its priority.”
He said ESOs would be encouraged to work closely together to ensure that appropriate advice and support was provided to veterans and defence members.
Mr Snowden said support for the Training Information Program would be strengthened by ensuring that advocates, and pension and welfare officers were provided with the standard of training and support they required to undertake their important role.
“The ongoing involvement of the ESO community throughout the consultation process has been the key to the success of the Review and I am confident that the recommendations will receive broad support,” he said.
The full Review report, including all the recommendations and more information on BEST grants can be accessed at this PS News link.
22 February, 2011
Media is the message
A report prepared for the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has found that Australian parents are taking more notice of the impact of media and technology on their children’s education and personal development.
for concerned parents
The annual report Growing up in Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children found 96 per cent of parents surveyed were conscious of their children’s use of media and technology and impose rules around what programs children can watch on television.
It said parents were also observant about how their children use the computer, with 94 per cent of parents having rules around computer usage.
According to the report, a minority of surveyed parents, 21 per cent or less, expressed concern over their child’s use of technology, with concern more prevalent in the 9- to 10-year-old age bracket.
The study, commissioned by the Australian Government, followed 10,000 children over the course of their youth, and measured their physical, learning and cognitive development as well as their social and emotional functioning.
The Annual Report included findings from nearly 6,000 of the parents involved in the study.
The report said the findings gave valuable insights into the everyday lives of families and helped the Government design policies and programs that would make a difference.
It said 96 per cent of 9- to 10-year-old children surveyed have access to a computer at home, and they reported using a computer for a variety of activities at least once a week, including homework (59 per cent) and visiting social networking sites (11 per cent).
The report found that 98 per cent of parents of 5 to 6 year olds who were surveyed, and 94 per cent of parents of 9 to 10 year olds who were surveyed, were satisfied or very satisfied with their children’s education.
It also found 91 per cent of surveyed parents with 9- to 10-year-old children were satisfied with their child’s progress in maths, 93 per cent with reading, and 94 per cent with their child’s overall progress.
To view the report visit this PS News link.
22 February, 2011
Defence sinks teeth
A joint research centre on food innovation has been announced for the Australian Defence Force.
into food research
Minister for Defence Science, Warren Snowdon said the Research Centre would draw on facilities and expertise from the University of Tasmania, CSIRO’s Division of Food and Nutritional Sciences and the Defence Science & Technology Organisation (DSTO).
“The Research Centre in Food Innovation would be able to support and enhance the research activities at DSTO Scottsdale which provides a dedicated food science and technology capability for Defence,” Mr Snowdon said.
“The new centre, together with the redevelopment of the Scottsdale facility, is expected to significantly enhance DSTO’s ability to provide the ADF with state-of-the-art support on nutrition and feeding strategies.”
He said the upgrade of the Defence Science & Technology Organisation’s nutrition research facility at Scottsdale included the redevelopment of food technology facilities, upgrades to existing chemistry and nutrition laboratories and improvements to site infrastructure and working areas.
“The redevelopment will result in a modern food science facility equipped to meet the future nutritional needs of ADF personnel,” Mr Snowdon said.
He said he had also attended the opening of the International Symposium on Defence Nutrition in Scottsdale (northern Tasmania) where experts from Australia, USA, Norway, New Zealand and Singapore had gathered to discuss strategies for the future development of military nutrition and food science.
“This symposium provides an opportunity to address critical nutrition issues such as the potential for high pressure processing to produce safe, long-lasting, tasty and nutritious foods for combat rations, and the use of nanotechnology for ‘smart’ packaging of ration items,” Mr Snowdon said.
He said outcomes from the symposium would inform the program of the proposed food innovation centre.
Mr Snowdon said the new centre could allow Scottsdale to grow research capabilities in food science and technology, provide access to a broader pool of experts, and foster an enriched science environment for staff.
22 February, 2011
New violence plan
Public consultation on a proposal to amend the law relating to family violence attracted more than 400 submissions, according to the Attorney-General Robert McClelland.
strikes a chord
Mr McClelland said 73 per cent of respondents expressed support for the measures in the draft Family Law Amendment (Family Violence) Bill 2010 and a further 10 per cent made no specific comment on the Bill but offered information about personal experiences.
“The Bill has received significant backing from the community and key stakeholders in the family law system,” Mr McClelland said.
He said the Family Violence Bill proposed amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 to provide better protection for children and families at risk of violence.
Mr McClelland said submissions were received from key stakeholders in the family law system, individuals, peak bodies, academics, judicial officials and organisations.
He said the majority of submissions supported measures to protect children in the family law system, broader definitions of family violence and child abuse, the removal of the mandatory costs orders provision and changes to the “friendly parent” provision.
Mr McClelland said the Family Violence Bill complemented a range of other measures implemented by the Australian Government to strengthen the family law system’s response to family violence and child abuse, including: a pilot of coordinated family dispute resolution for families experiencing violence; and, the development of minimum guidelines for screening and risk assessment for family violence.
“The Government is also working with the States and Territories to develop a national recognition scheme for domestic and family violence orders,” he said.
“The scheme will include a national database for orders to assist the enforcement of orders by State and Territory Police.”
The consultation paper and draft Family Violence Bill are available on the Attorney-General’s Department website at this PS News link.
22 February, 2011
The seventh edition of the pocket-size version of the Australian Constitution has been officially launched at Parliament House by the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland.
brings law to hand
The latest edition is a joint product of the Parliamentary Education Office and Australian Government Solicitor.
“The Constitution is the birth certificate of our nation,” Mr McClelland said.
“This foundational document sets out the legal and political framework on which our nation is built.”
He said the pocket edition was designed to raise public awareness of the Constitution.
“It includes an updated overview of the historical context and explains the practical operation of important provisions within the Constitution,” Mr McClelland said.
“The pocket Constitution and other educational initiatives play an important role in building a good understanding of the Constitution and its role in everyday life.”
He said the Government had previously outlined its commitment to Constitutional reform, and the expert panel would meet to consider and discuss constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians and report to the Government by the end of 2011.
“I would like the thank those involved in producing the new edition, particularly staff at the Parliamentary Education Office and the Australian Government Solicitor,” Mr McClelland said.
22 February, 2011
Research study finds
A consultation process to inform the development of a National Volunteering Strategy has revealed a preference for online volunteering and a willingness among young people to become more involved.
The report National Volunteering Strategy Consultation polled more than 800 volunteering groups and found that traditional forms of volunteering remained popular but new forms of participation were emerging and needed to be accommodated.
Minister for Social Inclusion Tanya Plibersek said changes included a growing preference for online volunteering, more young people and highly skilled early retirees wanting to volunteer, and an increasing interest in short-term or project-based volunteering.
She said as Australia changed, so did the ways in which people wanted to volunteer, and it was important to ensure that organisations were able to adapt to these changes so that they were able to continue to recruit and retain volunteers.
Ms Plibersek said the report would inform the National Volunteering Strategy, which the Government planned to release later this year and would outline the Government’s vision for volunteering over the next 10 years.
The key findings from the consultation process looked at: engagement of volunteers, such as better promotion of volunteering as a positive avenue for community contribution; addressing protection, risk management and training issues for volunteers, such as national standards for volunteer-involving organisations being more flexible, available online, free of charge and relevant to a range of organisations and different sectors; responding to emerging trends and issues, which highlighted the changing nature of volunteering in Australia and the increasingly diverse range of ways in which people want to volunteer; and recognizing, supporting and valuing volunteers.
Ms Plibersek also announced the membership of a new Volunteer Advisory Group, which will provide advice to the Government.
“The group will provide insight into the volunteering sector and assist in creating an environment in which volunteering is encouraged, supported and properly recognised,” she said.
22 February, 2011
Astronomers star in
Astronomers from the Australian Astronomical Observatory at Siding Spring in New South Wales have identified the shredded remains of a dwarf galaxy “buried” inside our own.
Using the facilities of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, the scientists are seeking to understand better how Earth’s galaxy has grown over time.
The Australian Astronomical Observatory’s Professor Fred Watson, Project Manager for the 10-nation RAVE (Radial Velocity Experiment) collaboration that found the “buried” galaxy, said models of how galaxies evolve predicted that big galaxies would be surrounded by lots of little ones, but they don’t see enough of the little ones.
“Perhaps many of them have been eaten up by the big galaxies,” Professor Watson said.
“So, we’re looking at our Milky Way Galaxy to try to find little galaxies that it’s swallowed.”
Professor Watson said RAVE runs on a 1.2-m telescope of the Australian Astronomical Observatory and had so far measured the velocities of 385,000 stars.
Led by New Zealand scientist Dr Mary Williams, some RAVE team members analysed the movements of 12,000 stars in the disk of our Galaxy - the flat, starry part away from the Galaxy’s centre.
Among the stars, they noticed 15 that were moving anomalously, at speeds of up to 15,000km per hour.
Dr Williams said analysis showed that they were part of a large stream of stars, originating from a small galaxy that ours had dismembered about 700 million years ago.
She said about 15 other star streams had been found in our Galaxy, and most arc up out of the Galactic plane into much emptier space, and so had been easier to spot.
The Australian Astronomical Observatory is our national optical observatory, and is part of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.
It operates the 3.9-m Anglo-Australian Telescope and the 1.2-m UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales.
22 February, 2011
Fraud check on disaster claims
More than 1,400 payments for disaster assistance are being investigated and reviewed for possible fraud.
More than half a million claims for assistance have been processed as a result of floods and cyclone since the beginning of the year.
The suspected fraudsters were detected by a new Centrelink taskforce set up to spot dodgy claims for assistance arising out of the summer natural disasters.
The taskforce has scrutinised suspicious claim forms and acted on tip-offs, and cases of serious fraud will be referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Convicted persons face large fines and even imprisonment.
Grange goes to charity
The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce will donate 100 bottles of premium wine from the Government House cellar for charitable purposes.
The bottles of Penfolds Grange have been collected since the 1980s. Government House has had the cellar holdings assessed by a respected oenologist, who has suggested that some of the wines need to be consumed within the next few years.
The 100 bottles include every vintage of Grange between 1985 and 1990, and the 1992 vintage, for donation.
Interested charities should apply to the Office of the Official Secretary requesting a signed bottle for their fund-raising purposes.
Census staff recruited
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has already started recruiting staff for the national Census, which will be held on 9 August.
More than 43,000 Census jobs will be created, ranging from Area Supervisors, to collectors, to back office staff.
The 3,500 casual jobs being recruited now are Area Supervisor positions, who will oversee the distribution and collection of Census forms to Australia’s 9.8 million households. In April, a further 29,000 collector positions will be advertised nationally.
More information is available online at this PS News link.
Help to win PS jobs
People applying for Government jobs can make their task easier with the latest edition of national best seller How to Write and Talk to Selection Criteria by Dr Ann Villiers.
Launched by the Australian Institute of Management, the book unravels the mystery of selection criteria.
It offers a straight-forward, three-step guide to writing quality applications, insider tips on preparing for a job interview and 50 ideas on how to manage a career.
It explains how recruitment processes work and what the jargon means, so any applicant can present a strong case for winning a Government job.
Library project honoured
The National Library of Australia’s Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants oral history project has been honoured internationally, with project manager Joanna Sassoon invited to speak at a conference in Canada.
Dr Sassoon will speak at the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission conference in Vancouver.
She will be part of an international panel of experts who will advise the commissioners on the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission National Research Centre.
The National Library oral history project was established in 2009 after the Prime
Minister’s national apology and close to 300 people have expressed an interest in the project with more than 150 hours of oral histories already recorded.
Australia Post closing gap
Australia Post has launched its Reconciliation Action Plan in partnership with Reconciliation Australia.
The new Reconciliation Action Plan will see the introduction of a number of new initiatives such as an annual Indigenous Student Scholarship to support higher education and the expansion of the Indigenous traineeship program to include more school-based and vocational traineeships.
The plan signals Australia Post’s ongoing commitment to closing the gap on employment and providing career opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
E-Health records closer
Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records are a step closer following the call for partners to help develop the system.
PCEHR will save patients from repeating their medical history each time they see a new health professional.
The request for tenders for a National Change and Adoption Partner and National Infrastructure Partners, demonstrates that the Government is on track to deliver a national PCEHR system to benefit all Australians.
The National Infrastructure Partners will be contracted to develop and implement the information and communications technology infrastructure that the PCEHR system will use Australia-wide.
Lundy to assist Immigration Minister
Senator Kate Lundy has taken on the role of Parliamentary Secretary assisting the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship.
As part of the new multicultural policy, Senator Lundy will focus on the promotion of multiculturalism in the Parliament and the community on behalf of the Government.
Senator Lundy will also work to combat racial discrimination in the community to ensure everyone has access to the same opportunities in life, regardless of their background.
Her title will be updated to Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.
Defence scholarships open
The 2011 Defence Technical Scholarships program is now taking applications from Year 11 and 12 students interested in pursuing a technical trade career in the Australian Defence Force.
The program offers up to 1,500 scholarships each year and provides students with financial support to learn a trade, and at the same time they’re encouraged to stay and complete their senior school years.
Applications close on 11 March and require the support of the schools to be progressed.
For information visit this PS News link or call the info line on 1300 880 818.
Comments sought on cybercrime
A public consultation paper has been released as part of Australia’s proposed accession to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.
The Convention is the only binding international treaty on cybercrime and serves as a guide for nations developing comprehensive national legislation on cybercrime.
It provides systems to facilitate international co-operation between signatory countries, as well as establishing procedures to make investigations more efficient.
The Government is inviting the public to comment on Australia’s proposed accession.
The consultation paper can be found at this PS News link.
Submissions are sought by 14 March.
Loan service on trial
A pilot financial service will provide Australians excluded from mainstream banks and services with access to fair and appropriate financial products, including loans.
The Fitzroy and Carlton Community Co-Operative in Melbourne is one of five community development finance institutions (CDFIs) across Australia that will be supported under the pilot project.
CDFIs typically cover their costs through, philanthropic and private investment, and Government assistance with running costs - bringing together government, business and the community.
The Pilot Project is part of the Government’s Financial Management Program, which provides $124.5 million a year to build financial resilience.
Further information can be found at this PS News link.
15 February, 2011
New institute for
A new national institute for public policy has been officially opened in Canberra.
Minister for Innovation Senator Kim Carr said the Australian National Institute for Public Policy united the strengths of a world-leading public service and a world-class university, and would strengthen public policy capabilities across the Australian Public Service.
Senator Carr said the Government had welded science, research, industry and innovation together for the first time to ensure decisions reflected the full breadth of the innovation system.
“Working across old divides is not easy,” Senator Carr said.
“It requires new networks, new processes, and a new way of thinking.
“The Institute will encourage that transformation across the APS.”
Senator Carr said the new Institute brought together a rich mix of established and new schools and centres at the ANU, the HC Coombs Policy Forum, and a partnership with the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.
“This mix will provide public servants with input from academics and other policy experts,” Senator Carr said.
“It will promote public involvement in policy debate and catalyse inter-disciplinary research in areas of critical national interest.”
Senator Carr said the Institute was a key response to a recommendation in Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform of Australian Government Administration, released last year.
Business Manager at the Australian National Institute for Public Policy, Felicity Gouldthorp said the aim of ANIPP was to build bridges between the public service, academia and the broader community and to help build a stronger, more skilled and innovative APS.
He said one of the ways ANIPP would achieve this goal was through its Executive Short Course Program.
Ms Gouldthorp said more than 500 Australian Public servants from 22 different Agencies were participating in the 28 courses available from February to the end of April.
The courses followed the themes of areas such as economics and demography, public policy, innovation and strategy and Indigenous Australia.
She said the Spring calendar of courses would be available in mid-March.
For information on registering on the ANIPP or Executive Short Courses visit this PS News link.
15 February, 2011
A new inspectorate has been established to oversee the spending of Commonwealth money allocated to flood recovery in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
to guard flood bills
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that to make sure every cent of the Flood Rebuilding Package went where it was needed, the Government would implement a new Reconstruction Inspectorate to increase scrutiny and accountability of rebuilding projects.
She said former Minister for Finance John Fahey had been appointed as Chair of the Reconstruction Inspectorate, and would report directly to the Natural Disaster Recovery Cabinet sub-committee.
Ms Gillard said the Inspectorate’s roles included: scrutinizing rebuilding contracts; directly inspecting projects to ensure they met progress milestones; investigating complaints or issues raised by the public; and examining high value or complex projects prior to execution.
She said the Inspectorate would not replicate the function or responsibilities of decision-making bodies such as the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, but would work closely with State authorities to provide an additional level of check and balance for the expenditure of funds.
Ms Gillard said aside from the new Inspectorate, other initiatives included requiring States to provide independently audited financial statements to support any claim for infrastructure rebuilding, including verification of spending against any advance payments made.
She said two federal appointees would also been nominated to the board of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority.
The Prime Minister said the nominees would be Brad Orgill former Chairman and CEO of UBS Australia and head of the BER Implementation Taskforce, and Glenys Beauchamp, Secretary to the Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government.
“We need to help flood affected communities rebuild their roads, their bridges, their rail lines and public facilities so they can get their lives back to normal,” Ms Gillard said..
“Australians will all be pitching in to help through budget savings and the flood levy, and I am determined to see every dollar spent effectively.”
15 February, 2011
A new independent Climate Commission has been established with environmentalist and former Australian of the Year, Professor Tim Flannery, the Chief Commissioner.
to put heat on policy
Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet said the Climate Commission would provide expert advice and information on climate change.
“The Climate Commission has been established by the Government to provide an authoritative, independent source of information for all Australians,” Senator Combet said.
“It will provide expert advice on climate change science and impacts, and international action, and will help build the consensus required to move to a clean energy future.”
He said the Climate Commission would have a public outreach role to help build greater understanding and consensus about reducing Australia’s carbon pollution.
“The Commissioners are eminent Australians who are leaders in their fields and I’m pleased one of Australia’s leading science communicators, Professor Tim Flannery, a former Australian of the Year, has accepted the role of Chief Commissioner,” Mr Combet said.
Professor Flannery said the Climate Commission would fulfill a key information and education role, enabling the Australian community to have a more informed conversation about climate change.
“I am delighted to lead this new Commission,” Professor Flannery said.
Senator Combet said other members of the Climate Commission are Professor Will Steffen, Professor Lesley Hughes, Dr Susannah Eliott, Mr Gerry Hueston and Mr Roger Beale.
He said the Commissioners had expertise in a range of areas including climate change science, science communications, business, public policy and economics.
Senator Combet said the Climate Commission would be supported by a Science Advisory Panel, with leading scientists offering further expert advice on the science of climate change and its impacts.
He said the Climate Commission was an election commitment announced in July 2010.
More information is available at this PS News link.
15 February, 2011
Important reforms to the national economy are at risk of stalling and the Council of Australian Governments should act to protect them, according to a Reform Council set up to drive the national reform process.
lose buying power
Delivering its second annual progress report on changes needed to produce a seamless national economy, the COAG Reform Council has called on COAG to address the reforms it believes are under threat.
Chairman of the COAG Reform Council, Mr Paul McClintock said the National Partnership Agreement to Deliver a Seamless National Economy was aimed at achieving better regulation across the country, reducing business compliance costs, and increasing competition.
He said the report showed progress in the first two years of the five-year agreement - almost the half-way point for implementation of the 39 streams of regulation and competition reform.
“At this critical juncture in the life of this agreement, our report has identified 10 regulation reforms that are at risk of running late, or not being delivered,” Mr McClintock said.
He said the council had found that there were nine cases where there were implementation issues or risks, including: a nationally harmonised occupational health and safety system; improved processes for development assessment; regulation of chemicals and plastics; a national business names registrations scheme; a single national law and register for personally property securities; food regulation; streamlined upstream oil and gas regulation; nationally consistent approach to maritime safety; and the imposition of directors’ liability for corporate fault.
He said while some reforms were rated “at risk”, the council found that Governments had made good progress on most of the remaining regulation reforms.
Mr McClintock said seven reforms due to be completed by 30 June 2010 had all been completed, including a standard business reporting system, a national registration and accreditation system for health professionals, and rail safety.
The full report was available at this PS News link.
15 February, 2011
Union pays out
The Community and Public Sector Union has called for improved pay and conditions for APS staff in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agencies as part of the Government’s Closing the Gap policy.
on salary gap
The union says workers in the agencies receive far lower pay than staff at equivalent levels in other areas of the APS.
According to the CPSU, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agencies have been underfunded for many years, which meant staff received lower pay rates than colleagues in other public sector agencies.
National Secretary of CPSU, Nadine Flood said that while the union welcomed the Closing the Gap measures, it believed the Government could and should do more to address the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pay gaps in its own workforce.
“The fact remains that public service agencies with higher levels of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees tend to have much lower pay rates, despite the Government’s best intentions,” Ms Flood said.
She said CPSU analysis of pay rates across the Australian Public Service (APS) showed that staff in Aboriginal Hostels Limited (AHL) – a Government agency with 80 per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff – earned thousands of dollars less a year than staff at the same level in other agencies.
For example, Ms Flood said, AHL staff at the APS 1 entry level earned at least $10,000 a year less than staff at the APS 1 in higher paid public service agencies.
She said similarly, pay rates at the Torres Strait Regional Authority, which has 56% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, are ranked in the bottom 10% of all agencies at most classifications.
“No one doubts that the Government wants to close the gap and make a difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders,” Ms Flood said.
“Working with staff and unions to fix the pay gaps within their own workforce would be a positive step.”
15 February, 2011
The Commonwealth Ombudsman has questioned the methods used by the Australian Federal Police to investigate complaints against it, finding the Force had cleared itself of every complaint about excessive force made by a member of the public since 2007.
The Ombudsman’s latest review, which examined data relating to 399 complaints closed between 1 August 2009 and 28 February 2010, was tabled in the Parliament last week.
The review also examined the 109 excessive use of force complaints made since January 2007, 80 of them from members of the public.
Ombudsman Allan Asher said it was clear that there were deficiencies in the AFP’s complaint-handling practices during this period.
“In some cases, there was little evidence to show that AFP members took steps to diffuse difficult situations before resorting to force, while in others the records were inconsistent or incomplete,” Mr Asher said.
Mr Asher called into question the AFP’s complaint management practices, citing delays in reaching conclusions to investigations and the high “clearance” rate as other major issues.
“Timeliness in resolving complaints about everything from a small customer service matter right through to the most serious of misconduct claims has deteriorated, with some cases open for years,” Mr Asher said.
“Good complaint handling is about resolving individual problems and making improvement to systems,” he said.
Mr Asher said it differed from investigating crimes, even though the consequences of a substantiated complaint may be severe for an AFP member, and should take into consideration the history of complaints against a member where one exists.
“Efforts to improve the quality of complaint handling through training are paying off, but there is room for further improvement, and I look forward to continuing our work with the AFP’s Professional Standards team to this end,” Mr Asher said.
The Ombudsman’s report on activities under Part V of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979, February 2011, is available at this PS News link.
15 February, 2011
Consumers say bye-bye
The first 10 dangerous products permanently banned under new national consumer laws have been named and include cigarette lighters that look like children’s toys and “sky lanterns”.
to dangerous products
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury said the products, which were initially the subject of 18-month interim bans, had now been permanently banned in all States and Territories.
“These are the first permanent bans under the new Australian Consumer Law and will help to keep consumers safe from potentially hazardous products,” Mr Bradbury said.
“Under the new national product safety system, these bans will be in force uniformly in all States and Territories.”
He said the bans included seven products that were identified by the Commonwealth, States and Territories, while a further three products were recommended for permanent bans by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
“The products that have now been permanently banned under the Australian Consumer Law include cigarette lighters that look like children’s toys, infant food containers and toys that contain more than 1 per cent of the chemical diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), and unmanned hot air balloons, or “sky lanterns”,” Mr Bradbury said.
He said a supplier of goods that was found to be in breach of these bans could be prosecuted and fined up to $1.1 million.
Mr Bradbury said the Australian Consumer Law, which came into effect on 1 January, allows for permanent bans and standards made by the Commonwealth to have effect in all States and Territories.
“The Commonwealth has worked with the States and Territories to develop a national product safety system, so that products deemed to be unsafe are subject to bans or standards consistently across the country, enforced by State and Territory as well as Commonwealth regulators,” Mr Bradbury said.
More information on the permanent bans, and the national product safety system, can be found at this PS News link.
15 February, 2011
Audit all-clear for
An Auditor-General’s report into the tender process for replacing the Department of Human Services BasicsCard has found the Department to have done everything right.
The report Management of the Tender Process for a Replacement BasicsCard said the objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of DHS’ management of the tender process for a replacement BasicsCard to support the delivery of the income management scheme.
Auditor-General Ian McPhee said the income management operated by directing a fixed percentage of most income support and family payment to the purchase of essential goods and services, such as food, clothing and medicine.
He said it was part of a package of measures introduced in response to the public release of the 2007 report, Little Children are Sacred.
According to the report, in March 2009, the then Minister for Human Services announced that a tender would occur for a replacement BasicsCard, and a Request for Tender (RFT) was published in May 2009.
The report said overall DHA effectively managed the tender process for a replacement BasicsCard and DHS’ management of the replacement BasicsCard procurement allowed the tender to be conducted within the required timeframe and budget.
It said the procurement culminated in November 2009, when a three-year service delivery contract for the operation of the BasicsCard was signed.
The contract was valued at about $11 million and runs for the period July 2010 to June 2013, with the option to extend for up to a further two years, it said.
According to the report, DHA demonstrated sound procurement and management practice and acted in a manner consistent with Finance’s operational guidance to agencies.
It said DHS’ approach to planning the replacement BasicsCard procurement responded to an important opportunity to address the existing criticisms of the BasicsCard, such as limited options for card users to make account balance inquiries and individual customers having a high number of transactions declined.
15 February, 2011
A traineeship program for APS staff with an intellectual disability produced four graduates last week, all from the Department of Families, Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).
with flying colours
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas said the traineeship program was designed to provide people with intellectual disability with skills and practical work experience to help them gain future employment.
“All four trainees are now permanent staff members at FaHCSIA, with three working in the National Office and one employed in FaHCSIA’s Perth office,” Senator McLucas said.
“These graduates will be an asset to FaHCSIA. They have worked hard throughout the traineeship program, demonstrating their commitment and enthusiasm.”
She said FaHCSIA began the 18-month program in August 2009, providing participants with on-the-job training as well as support in completing a Certificate II in Business Administration with Registered Training Organisations.
“The traineeship program for people with an intellectual disability is the first of its kind in the Australian Public Service,” Senator McLucas said.
“This program reaffirms the commitment of Australian Government and various business organisations to providing opportunities for people with disability who want to make a contribution to the workforce.”
Senator McLucas said the Traineeship Program for People with Intellectual Disability pilot was developed and supported in partnership with a number of external organisations, such as the Australian Network on Disability, Capital Careers, and Disability Works Australia.
She said Disability Employment Service providers Advance Personnel, LEAD and EDGE Employment Solutions, and Registered Training Organisations, JCE Positive Outcomes in Canberra, and the Australian Medical Association (WA) in Perth were also involved.
Senator McLucas joined Secretary of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Dr Jeff Harmer, in presenting certificates to the graduates in a special ceremony.
15 February, 2011
Fair Work campaign
A new campaign against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender has been launched by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
on unfair practices
Executive Director of Fair Work Ombudsman, Michael Campbell said instances of employees being discriminated against might be going unreported because of a lack of awareness of workplace rights.
“We want employees to be aware that discrimination in the workplace is unlawful and that they can turn to the Fair Work Ombudsman for help if they experience it,” Mr Campbell said.
He said the Fair Work Ombudsman would host a stall at Fair Day - which kicks off Sydney’s Mardi Gras Festival - on 20 February.
Mr Campbell said staff would talk to event-goers about workplace issues and distribute 50,000 educational brochures on unlawful workplace discrimination.
He said to promote its participation in Fair Day, the Fair Work Ombudsman has created a Facebook fan page to create a two-way discussion about relevant workplace protections.
Mr Campbell said a further 40,000 educational postcards would be distributed in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Hobart, Adelaide, Darwin and Perth over the next month through retail outlets, cafes, bars, galleries, museums, universities and other venues.
“We have had few complaints about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but this may be due to a lack of awareness, and it is our role to educate the community about its workplace rights and obligations,” Mr Campbell said.
He said workers had complained about having their hours reduced, being dismissed and being treated in a hostile manner at work.
Mr Campbell said other behaviour which could constitute discrimination included changing an employee’s job to their disadvantage, reducing their pay or refusing to hire them on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
He said the new campaign also aimed to raise awareness among same-sex couples that they could be eligible for workplace entitlements such as parental, adoption, carer’s and compassionate leave.
For more information, visit this PS News link or call 13 13 94.
15 February, 2011
Libraries point finger
A new program offering people with print disability better access to digital library materials is calling for libraries to join up.
at digital access
The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, said applications were open for a $1 million Australian Government initiative aimed at improving access to library resources for people with print disability.
“One of the significant barriers to inclusion and participation for people with print disability is a lack of access to information,” Senator McLucas said.
“We are encouraging libraries across Australia to be part of this new program to help deliver digital playback technology for people with print disability.”
She said under this initiative, a range of digital playback devices such as DAISY players and audio-navigators would be provided, making print material such as books and newspapers more accessible for people with print disability.
Senator McLucas said the initiative would also support training and access to digital content.
She said this initiative was part of an accessibility package to support people with disability participate in community life, and built upon the Australian Government’s Accessible Communities grants program.
The grants program was currently open to local councils to improve the accessibility of their local infrastructure, and the national Leaders for Tomorrow program that would help people with disability become leaders in business, community and Government through mentoring and leadership development, she said.
Senator McLucas said the Australian Government had contracted the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) to implement this initiative.
She said libraries were invited to apply through ALIA, and the closing date for applications was 4 March.
Further information on the initiative is available on the FaHCSIA website at this PS News link or the Australian Library and Information Association’s website at this PS News link.
15 February, 2011
The Australian Federal Police has awarded a service medal to its Firearms and Explosive Detector dog, Quatro, the first time it has awarded a service medal to a dog.
Federal Agent and handler Stephen Shackell said Quatro received the medal for five years of detecting firearms and explosives as part of the AFP National Canine Team.
Mr Shackell said that after nearly four years of working with Quatro, he was continually impressed with Quatro’s abilities as a detector dog.
“Quatro’s most notable seizure was a pistol which had been taped under a set of drawers,” Mr Shackell said.
“Quatro reacted to the drawers and upon first glance nothing was visible, however by removing the drawers a pistol was revealed.”
Mr Shackell said during his time stationed in Hobart, Quatro had completed 1,743 searches, finding numerous items including rifles, pistols and ammunition.
He said in addition to explosive detection search duties, Quatro had conducted numerous sweeps of hotels and public areas for the Prime Minister and other dignitaries.
In 2007 Quatro attended APEC involving hundreds of searches for visiting VIPs.
Mr Shackell said the medal, awarded by the Australian Defence Force Trackers and War Dog Association, recognised not only military working dogs, but dogs working in Government agencies where their primary function was to uphold Federal and/or State laws.
He said Firearms and Explosive Detector (FED) canine teams were a specialist component of the AFP’s role at airports, supporting additional aviation security measures including checking facilities, aircraft, baggage and freight.
Mr Shackell said the teams provided a highly visible deterrence capability and were skilled in undertaking combined operations.
At present there are 41 FED Teams operating in 10 of the 11 major airports.
15 February, 2011
Defence signs up to
A new electronic health record system has been adopted for the Australian Defence Force.
Launched by the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, the Defence Joint eHealth Data and Information System, to be known as JeHDI, will record all health data for personnel from recruitment to discharge and allow health professionals to access a patient’s complete health record.
Mr Snowden said JeHDI was designed to improve the quality of healthcare to all Australian Defence Force (ADF) members.
“This is a very exciting time for the ADF as they are taking a key national leadership role in the introduction of electronic health records throughout Australia and delivering a single electronic health system across the ADF,” Mr Snowdon said.
“JeHDI is a web based system which can be accessed wherever internet is available, while still maintaining confidentiality and data integrity, JeHDI will simplify record management and provide immediate access to patients’ medical records and other healthcare information.”
Mr Snowdon said this would provide great benefits to those who regularly move, such as Defence families.
Vice Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General David Hurley said Defence Healthcare presented some unique challenges.
“Our mission is to provide the highest quality healthcare to support our operational capability and ADF members within Australia, and leading edge technology, like JeHDI is helping Defence meet these objectives with greater speed and efficiency,” Lieutenant General David Hurley said.
He said the ADF had consulted extensively with other agencies including the Department of Health and Ageing, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the National eHealth Transition Authority.
Lieutenant General David Hurley said JeHDI complimented the Australian Government’s National eHealth Strategy, which had committed $466.7 million to develop a personally controlled ehealth records (PCEHR) system that would be available from 2012-13.
He said Defence would have the opportunity to interchange data and information between JeHDI and the public and private health sectors.
15 February, 2011
A new program that helps people with disability become leaders in business, the community and Government has been announced by the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas.
to enable leaders
Senator McLucas said the program was expected to provide about 200 people with disability with up to 12 months intensive leadership support, including a mentorship program where people work with mentors in their field of interest.
“The successful applicant will develop individual leadership development plans for all participants in the Leaders for Tomorrow program,” Senator McLucas said.
“This may include goal setting, team building, governance, communication, implementing change and problem-solving.”
She said the Leaders for Tomorrow program would help equip participants with the tools to become leaders and help them overcome barriers into work and education.
Senator McLucas said the accessibility package was being delivered under the National Disability Strategy and also included the $5 million Accessible Communities Program, which was currently open to local Governments to make their communities more accessible for people with disability through minor infrastructure upgrades.
She said applications were now open to organisations or consortiums of organisations to deliver the new Leaders for Tomorrow program.
Senator McLucas said organisations were encouraged to apply to run a new national leadership program for people with disability.
Eligibility criteria and application forms for the Leaders for Tomorrow were available at this PS News link, by calling 1800 668 689 or sending an email to email@example.com
15 February, 2011
Tourism plan to
A response plan designed to help Queensland’s tourism regions recover from last month’s devastating floods has been reactivated to include the damage done by Cyclone Yasi, according to the Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson.
take on cyclone
He said the National Tourism Incident Response plan set out a co-ordinated, whole-of Government response for Federal, State and Territory Governments to manage potential negative economic impacts to the industry.
“Despite Cyclone Yasi being the most destructive cyclone ever to impact the state, some of Queensland’s major tourism infrastructure, including in Cairns and Townsville, has emerged largely unscathed from the disaster,” Mr Ferguson said.
“Airports were returned to operation quickly and clean up efforts are well underway in affected regions.”
Mr Ferguson said the hardest hit regions such as Tully and Tully Heads, and Cardwell would take longer to rebuild – but visitors needed to remember that many of Queensland’s best tourism destinations including the Gold Coast, Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Agnes Waters, 1770, Queensland’s outback, Southern Downs, the Granite Belt and Toowoomba were accessible and open for business despite the floods and Cyclone Yasi.
“Given the importance of tourism to the Queensland economy, going ahead with your holiday or travel booking will play an important role in supporting Queensland’s recovery effort and will have a positive flow on effect across the state,” Mr Ferguson said.
He said visitors to Queensland should contact their airline, travel agent, accommodation, tour provider or attraction directly to get the latest and most accurate advice before changing or cancelling any planned travel.
“We do not want to see business being lost unnecessarily in regions where it is still safe and suitable to travel,” Mr Ferguson said.
Queensland holiday information can be found on Tourism Australia’s website at this PS News link and Tourism Queensland website at this PS News link.
15 February, 2011
A new service that increases the safeguards for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy has been launched by the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Catherine King.
tuned for safety
The Australian Clinical Dosimetry Service (ACDS) will be operated by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) at its Yallambie Melbourne premises for an initial period of three years, under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Health and Ageing.
Ms King said establishing an independent national dosimetry service placed Australia at the forefront of risk mitigation and patient care.
“Only the UK, the US and some of the Scandinavian countries have developed programs which provide a level of clinical support similar to that which will be provided by the ACDS,” Ms King said.
“The service will also help to maintain the quality of radiotherapy in Australia, and provide a national approach to radiation measurements, making radiotherapy more consistent across the country and safer for patients.”
She said the ACDS would be led by Dr Ivan Williams, a medical physicist who was recently the Acting Head of Physics at St Luke’s Hospital in Dublin, Ireland.
Ms King said radiotherapy, which involved the accurate and precise delivery of high doses of radiation to carefully-defined disease sites, was an essential part of cancer management.
She said dosimetry was used to check that the dose of radiation delivered to the patient is accurate and appropriate, and ensured the risks of accidental over- or under-doses were minimized, leading to the best possible results from treatment.
Ms King said dosimetry was presently carried out by each treatment facility, however, verifying radiation dosages by an independent authority reduced the risk of error.
She said the new ACDS would provide an integrated national approach to promoting safety and quality in radiotherapy, which was expected to lead to further improvements in radiotherapy treatment outcomes.
15 February, 2011
Help for cyclone victims
More than 200 Centrelink staff have been deployed to North Queensland from across Australia to provide assistance to victims of Cyclone Yasi.
Centrelink staff are being deployed daily to recovery centres and impacted communities, and are assisting cyclone affected people apply for Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and/or the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy payments.
The Department of Human Services is also working with the Australian Defence Force to help provide telecommunication capability and diesel for electricity generators.
Cyclone-affected people can lodge a claim by calling 180 22 66, speaking to a Centrelink staff member in an evacuation or recovery centre or by visiting this PS News link.
Info views sought
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner is still seeking comments on an Issues Paper entitled Towards an Australian Government Information Policy.
The Issues Paper, which defines some of the key issues that face the Australian Government in information management policy, proposes 10 draft principles on open public sector information.
Australian Government agencies and others with an interest in APS information policy are invited to post comments on a blog at this PS News link.
The deadline for comments is 1 March. Formal submissions can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org
Women’s Day Events
The Australian Public Service Commission is hosting a series of events to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Events will be held on 3 March to 10 March and include speakers who will discuss the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future.
Speakers include Ita Buttrose in NSW, Narelda Jacobs in WA, Susan Halliday in Victoria, and Ruth Larwill in Queensland.
More information about these registering for these events can be obtained from the International Women’s Day page at this PS News link.
School website #2
Version two of the My School website will officially go live on 4 March with new reporting and comparison features available on Australia’s almost 10,000 schools.
The new features will include an expanded school profile, detailing staff numbers, school type, enrolment data and an extended summary of the school itself, as well as financial data on school funding and income.
My School 2.0 will also boast tougher security to protect the integrity of information displayed, and users will now have to agree to conditions of use before logging onto the site.
New Gallery a winner
The National Gallery of Australia has welcomed 250,000 visitors since the opening of the new Stage 1 building in October 2010.
The Stage 1 building marked a new era for the National Gallery of Australia. The new wing is the most significant development to the Gallery since it opened in 1982.
It includes 11 new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art galleries showcasing the largest collection of Australian Indigenous art in the world and a new street level entrance and grand foyer.
Also opened in October was a new Gallery shop featuring exclusive product, and the multi-purpose Gandel Hall for functions and special events.
Koala listing delayed
A decision on whether to add the koala to the list of nationally threatened species has been put back to October.
The decision has been extended to take into account any findings from a Senate inquiry into the status, health and sustainability of Australia’s koala population.
It follows advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee that there was not enough data about Australia’s koala population to inform a decision.
The Committee found that the national koala population is variable with too many in some areas and declining populations in others.
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that 2010 was a good year for the international tourism industry with arrivals growing 5.4 per cent on the previous year to a total of 5.9 million.
This positive full-year result was assisted by strong growth in arrivals in December 2010, up 4.4 per cent on the same period in 2009.
Arrivals from China, South Korea and Japan were particularly strong, up 24 per cent, 18.2 per cent and 12 per cent respectively. By contrast, European and North American markets were sluggish.
This was particularly evident for the United Kingdom (down 2.6 per cent) and the United States (down 1.6 per cent).
Inquiry into forestry
The House of Representatives Agriculture, Resources, Fisheries and Forestry Committee has launched a new inquiry into the Australian forestry industry.
The inquiry comes at a time when the industry faces change, from the decline in value of traditional products such as wood chips to the advent of farm forestry and the use of forest products in energy production.
The Committee will examine how the forestry industry can adapt to meet the challenges it faces, including improving productivity and value adding, boosting capital investment and making the industry and the communities that rely on it more resilient to change.
Submissions are due by Friday, 25 March and can be sent electronically to email@example.com
DIAC opens transit facility
The Adelaide Immigration Transit Accommodation is in operation after being developed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to house clients who are not considered a security risk.
The purpose-built Kilburn facility comprises two three-bedroom cottages and a one-bedroom bed-sitter, and will replace the DIAC facility that has operated in Richmond for a number of years.
The new facility has an operational capacity of 13 people but can accommodate more than 20 for brief periods.
People will begin to be transferred into the facility in coming days. All clients at the AITA will have been assessed as suitable for this type of accommodation.
8 February, 2011
The Australian Public Service Commission has set out a new Bargaining Framework for Departments and Agencies to use when negotiating pay and conditions agreements in the coming months.
sets scene for talks
Over 70 agreements are due to expire before mid-year.
The new Framework replaces the 2009 version for staff employed under the Public Service Act 1999 and sets a 3 per cent maximum on wage increases.
According to the Community and Public Sector Union, the new Framework makes clear the Government’s bargaining agenda for the APS and although it has ruled out service-wide bargaining, “it is clear (the Government) wants to impose more consistent conditions across the APS.”
“While the Government’s new framework is not all bad, the limited action on fixing pay gaps is very disappointing,” the Union said.
Under the new Framework, Departments and Agencies are expected to place a greater focus on supporting the concept of “one APS” by seeking to minimise divergence across the Service and encouraging mobility between Departments. They must do this by achieving greater commonality of terms and conditions.
In a Circular setting out the Framework, the APSC identifies the main changes as the improved focus on a single APS; a requirement that all non-SES employees be covered by the single enterprise agreement; a common expiry date for agreements of 30 June 2014; and the introduction of non-binding recommendations for common APS terms and conditions for agencies to aim at;
The Framework also allows the maximum wage increase to be higher than 3 per cent for staff on the bottom 5th percentile if the Agency can afford it.
Back pay will not be allowed.
“To facilitate greater consistency in terms and conditions across the APS, from time to time the APSC will circulate recommended terms and conditions and/or suggested model clauses which agencies may seek to include in enterprise agreements and other instruments through good faith bargaining,” the Circular says.
“Failure to achieve all of the recommended terms and conditions, or incorporate suggested model clauses, through a good faith bargaining process shall not be cause to determine that a proposed agreement cannot proceed.”
The Framework requires draft agreements to be approved by the APSC or Special Minister of State prior to staff voting on them and SMOS approval will be required for all agreements that deviate from the Framework’s conditions.
The CPSU has already signalled its intention to claim a 4 per cent payrise in agreements dated no later than 2013.
It will also seek backpay in cases where negotiations stall.
The APSC Circular can be accessed at this PS News link.
8 February, 2011
Flood response brings
Centrelink has issued a public thank you to the Government Agencies that pitched in to help it process more than 300,000 claims for assistance following the recent Queensland, NSW and Victorian floods.
a vote of thanks
General Manager of Centrelink, Hank Jongen said volunteers from other departments and agencies had joined Centrelink at the coalface, giving more than $300 million to those who need it most.
“Centrelink staff working around the clock and through weekends to help people hit by these terrible floods have been buoyed by these reinforcements,” Mr Jongen said.
“These are extraordinary times. We have been asked to deal with the impact of major natural disasters in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.”
Mr Jongen said a prodigious amount of work had been done to give flood-affected people the help they needed.
“These emergency conditions are uncharted territory, where we are dealing with a disaster of unprecedented scale,” Mr Jongen said.
“With the help of committed, professional colleagues from across the Australian Government, we have stepped up and delivered.”
He said this was public service at its best, and he would like to offer his thanks to the departments and agencies that helped Centrelink with this massive task.
“I want to thank the Australian Taxation Office who provided 160 staff to help process disaster recovery claims, and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship who provided almost 500 staff to do the same,” Mr Jongen said.
“This is in addition to assistance Centrelink has received from its sister agencies within the Commonwealth Human Services Portfolio - 140 Medicare and 280 Child Support Agency staff also helping with disaster claims processing work.”
He said 50 Fair Work Ombudsman staff had also been trained and were taking routine Centrelink calls so permanent staff could concentrate on emergency calls.
“Customs has also provided staff to help us meet this sudden extra demand,” Mr Jongen said.
“It’s a heart warming morale-boost for Centrelink staff to know they’ve got support from other parts of Government.”
He said the main thing was that because of this huge workload, hundreds of thousands of Australians had received disaster recovery payments when they most needed them.
8 February, 2011
Australia on the
Australia has appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to undergo a review of its human rights record.
record at UN
The UN’s Universal Periodic Review system was set up in 2006 to ensure all its members comply with their international human rights obligations.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland said Australia’s turn allowed it the chance to highlight its human rights achievements.
He said the Australian delegation was led by Senator Kate Lundy, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and included Australia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Mr Peter Woolcott, as well as senior Australian Government officials.
“The Universal Periodic Review is an important opportunity to reflect on progress we have made and to renew our determination that in the fields of human rights, equality and opportunity, we can always achieve more,” Mr McClelland said.
“The Australian Government will continue to work with the international community and the Australian Human Rights Commission and non-government organisations domestically to promote and protect fundamental human rights at home and the rest of the world.”
Senator Lundy said Australia’s appearance at the Council was a good opportunity to discuss its strong human rights record.
She said the delegation noted that significant action on human rights had been taken by the Government, including: becoming a party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol to that Convention; acceding the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women; and signing the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.
Senator Lundy said the Australian delegation outlined key elements of Australia’s Human Rights Framework, launched by the Attorney-General last year, including introducing legislation to enhance parliamentary scrutiny of human rights considerations in new legislation.
She said the delegation also answered questions across a number of areas including the rights of Indigenous peoples and Australia’s procedures for processing asylum seeker claims.
8 February, 2011
Medals pin down
Departments and Agencies across Australia have presented their Australia Day Achievement Medallions for 2011, acknowledging the outstanding performance of more than 800 staff members.
Administered by the National Australia Day Council, the medallions are normally presented to the recipients at special functions in association with Australia Day events.
The achievers recognised with medallions in 2011 were:
Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Brian Du Bois, Melbourne
Michael Binnington, Brisbane Principal Registry
Johanna White, Sydney
Australia Bureau of Statistics
Australian Customs & Border Protection Service
Australian Hearing Services
Croydon & Knox Hearing Centres
Australian National Audit Office
Australian Institute of Criminology
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
Australian Public Service Commission
Australian Research Council
Australian Securities & Investment Commission
Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority
Australian Sports Commission
Patricia de Boer
Australian Taxation Office
Susan de Carle
Sandra Henderson Kelly
Naomi van Brug
Bureau of Meteorology
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry
Department of Defence
Christine Von Senden
Department of Defence, Defence Material Organisation
Department of the House of Representatives
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Department of the House of Representatives
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water,
Population and Communities
Kok Piang Tan
Family Court of Australia
Federal Magistrates Court of Australia
Food Standards Australia New Zealand
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
National Archives of Australia
The Communications and Programs Team
National Childcare Accreditation Council
National Gallery of Australia
National Health and Medical Research Council
National Library of Australia
Ling Ling Shi
National Museum of Australia
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor General
8 February, 2011
The Australian Government Solicitor has advised the Government that it has a range of powers it could use to address problem gambling.
is a sure winner
The solicitor’s advice was sought to inform deliberations of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform, an independent member of which is seeking to introduce reforms.
Under the Constitution, State and Territory Governments are responsible for regulating the gambling industry, other than online, but the Solicitor’s advice identified Commonwealth powers over corporations, trade and commerce, telecommunications, banking, currency, taxation and territories as potential circuit-breakers.
The Government said research showed that three-quarters of severe problem gamblers had problems with poker machines and problem gamblers spent an average of $21,000 a year on gambling.
It said the advice from the Australian Government Solicitor confirmed there were a range of constitutional heads of power available to the Australian Government, including corporations, trade and commerce, telecommunications, banking, currency, taxation and territories powers.
The Government said while this advice identified the legislative options available to the Commonwealth, the Australian Government remained committed to reaching an agreement with the States and Territories to progress these important reforms.
It said gambling was a legitimate industry and a valued form of entertainment for many Australians.
The Government said it had established a Ministerial Expert Advisory Group on Gambling to seek advice from the industry, academics and gambling support services on how to best implement the reforms.
It said the Productivity Commission recommended the Commonwealth intervene if the States and Territories did not agree to implement gambling reforms Australia wide.
8 February, 2011
Net detectives net
A team of cyber crime fighters with the Australian Federal Police are the first in Australia to achieve international accreditation for the standard of their electronic evidence gathering.
The AFP’s Computer Forensic Team (CFT) obtained National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accreditation against International Standards in the class of Electronic Evidence.
National Manager Forensic and Data Centres, Assistant Commissioner Julian Slater said AFP Computer Forensic laboratories met the requirements of NATA accreditation and demonstrated innovation and international leadership in their field of expertise.
He said the accreditation acknowledged the expert status of the AFP in the field and gives the Court additional confidence in evidence presented in support of the judicial process.
Mr Slater said the Computer Forensic Team provided the AFP and external agencies with assistance in the identification, examination and preservation of electronic evidence found during search warrants, laboratory examination of electronic evidence, along with data recovery and decryption.
He said that the process of accreditation, with its external assessment of technical competence, holds the AFP’s work to the highest standards of accountability.
“It’s a great accolade to be the first in both the public and private sector to receive NATA accreditation in the Computer Forensic category,” Mr Slater said.
“The accreditation process involves assessment of laboratory quality systems against International Standards and, for CFT, included assessment by an overseas technical expert into training, techniques and procedures employed by CFT.”
He said this accreditation provided the Computer Forensic Team with internationally accepted recognition and ensured that courts and the public could have the highest confidence in the evidence that CFT members present.
NATA acting Chief Executive, Eric Lo presented AFP Commissioner Tony Negus with a certificate to recognise the accreditation at an official function at the AFP Forensic complex in Weston, Canberra.
8 February, 2011
Development of Australia’s first National Curriculum has taken another step with the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) releasing Geography and Languages papers.
making the grade
Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett said the Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Geography paper would be used to guide expert curriculum writers in the drafting of the Australian Curriculum for Geography, while the draft Languages paper would be available for comment until 7 April.
“Our diverse, multicultural community has shown lots of interest in a broad variety of commonly used languages being represented in the National Curriculum,” Mr Garrett said.
“ACARA’s draft shape paper on languages covers a comprehensive list of significant community languages for development in the National Curriculum, including Modern Greek, Chinese, Italian, Arabic and Vietnamese.”
He said ACARA had developed the papers following public consultation on the draft geography shape paper in mid 2010 and national forums on the Australian Curriculum – Languages and Geography.
“The years to which the study of geography should be compulsory is among a number of significant issues that will be determined by Australia’s education ministers in light of the feedback received to the geography shape paper,” Mr Garrett said.
“I encourage everyone, whether they’re a teacher, academic or parent, to use this opportunity to have their say on the curriculum and the development of the languages curriculum.”
He said the papers had been developed by ACARA, in consultation with education authorities and curriculum experts as well as teachers, principals and subject area experts.
“The release of these papers for geography and languages marks the historic next step in the development of the Australian Curriculum following on from the education ministers’ endorsement of the curriculum for English, mathematics, science and history in December last year,” Mr Garrett said.
The shape papers for geography and languages are available at this PS News link.
8 February, 2011
Australia’s largest ever national media campaign against smoking has been launched by the Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon.
to be breathtaking
Ms Roxon said the $61 million campaign’s message was a simple one: every cigarette you smoke brings cancer closer.
“Smoking kills. It’s as simple as that,” Ms Roxon said. “This campaign will emphasise the link between a smoker’s cough - an everyday occurrence that is familiar to most smokers - and lung cancer.”
She said the National Tobacco Campaign reminded smokers that a cough was the most common symptom of lung cancer.
“The link between smoking and lung cancer is well established,” Ms Roxon said.
“In Australia, smoking causes 84 per cent of new lung cancers in men and 77 per cent in women, so the message is plain: stop smoking to reduce your risk of lung cancer.”
She said the campaign would include national advertising across television, print, online, outdoor and radio with a simple call to action: smokers - attempt to quit today.
Ms Roxon said this campaign, alongside the Government’s plain packaging plans, increase in tobacco excise and subsidised nicotine patches showed the Government’s determination to do all it could to help those Australians who were ready to quit smoking.
She said smoking was one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease in Australia, killing 15,000 Australians and costing the economy $31.5 billion each year.
For help to quit smoking, people should consult their doctor or pharmacist, call the Quitline on 13 7848 or see the Quit Now website at this PS News link.
The campaign strategy does not include the Public Service.
8 February, 2011
Angry Ombudsman finds
The Commonwealth Ombudsman has delivered a stinging report on the standard and sustainability of immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island.
Island not Christmas
The Ombudsman, Allan Asher, said his staff had made eight visits to the Island since 2008 and had found too many people were being detained and the scale of operation was unsustainable.
Mr Asher said the report was based on examinations of the Refugee Status Assessment (RSA) processes and investigation of complaints received from detainees.
He said when Ombudsman staff first visited the Christmas Island immigration detention facilities in October 2008, 32 people were detained there out of a nominal operational capacity of 744.
Mr Asher said by the time the report was finalised, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) advised there were some 2757 people awaiting processing of claims.
He said this was being managed through measures such as the use of marquee dormitories to increase “contingency accommodation capacity” up to 2584 beds.
“There is little doubt that resources have been sorely stretched as the facilities have sought to accommodate a continued increase in numbers of people seeking refuge in Australia, including families and unaccompanied minors,” Mr Asher said.
He said there were concerns about timeliness in processing refugee applications, delays in security agency clearances and various health issues.
Mr Asher said other recommendations in the report related to the lack of appropriate accommodation, education and recreation activities, the need for more and correct interpreters, and providing community detention on mainland Australia.
“On the whole, DIAC has managed the Christmas Island immigration detention facilities as well or better than can be expected, but the current scale of the operation on Christmas Island is not sustainable,” Mr Asher said.
DIAC welcomed the Ombudsman’s report and its role in providing independent oversight. The Ombudsman acknowledges DIAC’s responsiveness to periodic reports, willingness to accept advice, learn from mistakes and make improvements.
The report is available at this PS News link.
8 February, 2011
Customs cross over
Customs and Border Protection is warning people of fake email correspondence which appears to be sent from the organisation.
fake email scam
Chief Executive Officer of Customs, Michael Carmody said the fake emails asked recipients for financial details relating to false cargo consignments or mail items.
Mr Carmody said the scams used signature blocks of real Customs and Border Protection staff and demanded payment of money to fake officials.
He said the fake emails may be identified by several characteristics including questionable email addresses which may contain spelling errors in the email address and email body text.
Mr Carmody said people needed to be wary of any unsolicited emails claiming to be from Customs and Border Protection.
“Anyone who thinks they have received an email should not respond, and report the scam to Customs and Border Protection by phoning 1300 363 263 or email firstname.lastname@example.org,” Mr Carmody said.
He said more information on Customs and Border Protection invoice payment procedures could be found at the Custom and Border Protection website, www.customs.gov.au.
Mr Carmody said members of the public, who were concerned about email or other scams, could check the Australian Government’s ScamWatch website at www.scamwatch.gov.au or call 1300 302 502.
8 February, 2011
Research training to
A new training centre for researchers is to be established to foster professional skills among researchers and help them launch their careers in industry.
Funded jointly by the Australian Technology Network (ATN) of Universities: the RMIT; Queensland University of Technology; the University of Technology, Sydney; Curtin University; and the University of South Australia, the Industry Doctoral Training Centre was unveiled by the Minister for Innovation, Senator Kim Carr.
Senator Carr also announced that the Government had developed a new Research Workforce Strategy.
“Australian researchers can look to the future with renewed confidence,” Senator Carr said.
He said the new pilot centre in mathematics recognised that collaboration between universities, businesses and students was vital.
“It is the only way we can meet the growing demand for skills while opening secure career paths for researchers,” Senator Carr said.
“The discipline of mathematics is an area of critical industry and research need, and I applaud the ATN for its efforts to build Australia’s capabilities in this area.”
He said the Government had worked closely with the higher education sector to develop a comprehensive strategy for the Australian research workforce in the decade to 2020.
“We must invest in our researchers today if we are to meet the demand for university places, skilled workers, and innovative ideas tomorrow,” Senator Carr said.
“The global competition for research talent and capital will be fierce, but the Australian Government is determined to help universities meet the challenge.”
He said for more information about the ATN Symposium, visit www.atn.edu.au/atnconference.
For more information about the Research Workforce Strategy, visit this PS News link.
8 February, 2011
No more hang-ups
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has changed its rules to allow telephone companies to tell police, fire brigade and ambulance services the location of a mobile phone used to call the Triple Zero emergency number.
on phone locations
Acting Chairman of ACMA, Richard Bean said the rules required mobile carriers to provide emergency service organisations with the most precise mobile phone location information available for emergency calls made from mobile phones, in situations where a Triple Zero caller was unable to verbally report their location.
“Locating callers quickly and with confidence is clearly a crucial element of the Triple Zero emergency call service,” Mr Bean said.
“The ACMA’s new rules enable emergency service organisations to access the most precise location information that is currently available on the mobile networks and also to automatically capture the benefits from any future developments in location-based services offered by the mobile carriers.”
He said mobile phones accounted for about 63 per cent of calls made to Triple Zero but unlike fixed landline phones did not automatically give emergency service organisations accurate details about a caller’s whereabouts.
Mr Bean said this was not an issue for the vast majority of mobile calls where the caller could tell the emergency operator where they were located, but there were times when people were too distressed or unfamiliar with their environment to report their location.
Mr Bean said the new Determination required mobile carriers to: provide the most precise location information they had available on request from an emergency service organisation; resolve emergency call location queries with the highest possible priority; ensure emergency service organisations were provided with a designated contact point and telephone number for location queries, or have a dedicated process for location queries; and assist an emergency service organisation to identify the relevant mobile network carrying the emergency call.
Mr Bean said the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Amendment Determination 2011 (No. 1) would commence on 20 April.
8 February, 2011
New income model
A framework for evaluating an income management model that is non-discriminatory has been released by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
more on the money
Minster for FaHCSIA, Jenny Macklin said the non-discriminatory model was already in use in the Northern Territory and a voluntary pilot was underway in Western Australia.
She said a future roll-out of the new model of income management beyond the Northern Territory would be informed by evidence gained from the independent evaluation.
Ms Macklin said the two-stage evaluation would run from now until 2014 and would provide a comprehensive assessment of both the initial impact of the program, and the impact several years later.
She said the evaluation would include analysis of existing data on income management, as well as surveys of child protection staff, financial literacy service providers, and retailers; and there would also be interviews and focus groups with people on income management.
Ms Macklin said to ensure the methodology was robust and comprehensive and the evaluation process was transparent, the framework was independently developed by researchers from the Australian National University, the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.
She said the methodology was shaped in consultation with a range of community and Government stakeholders including the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Northern Territory Department of Health and Families and the Social Inclusion Board.
Ms Macklin said income management helped to protect children and vulnerable people by ensuring that money was available for the essentials of life, and provided a tool to stabilise people’s circumstances.
She said the new model of income management replaced the model of income management introduced as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response.
A copy of the framework can be found at this PS News link.
8 February, 2011
Television sets sold in Australia since the end of last week are required to offer a parental lock-out system complying with a technical standard set by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
locked in for TV
Acting Chairman of ACMA, Richard Bean said the technical standard, determined in August 2010, mandated the inclusion of a parental lock feature in new domestic reception equipment used for viewing free-to-air services such as integrated digital televisions, set-top boxes and personal video recorders.
“The parental lock feature allows parents and guardians to protect their children from content on television they may consider inappropriate or harmful,” Mr Bean said.
“While a significant proportion of equipment currently available in the market already includes parental lock, the technical standard makes it a required feature in new models sold from 4 February, however, some models offered for sale prior to this date, and still in stock, may not include the feature.”
He said parental lock was a feature of digital television receivers allowing parents and guardians to control their child’s access to program content based on the program’s classification, for example, G, PG, M or MA.
Mr Bean said when activating parental lock, users were prompted to select a program classification level and a personal identification number (PIN). The parental lock feature would then prevent any program classified at or above the selected level from being shown unless the PIN number was entered.
He said parental lock would not block programs that were not subject to classification, such as news, current affairs and sports programs.
Mr Bean said over the past 12 months the ACMA had worked with equipment manufacturers and broadcasters to ensure parental lock would operate effectively from 4 February.
He said broadcasters had committed to have timely and accurate information about program classification on their electronic program guides (EPGs).
8 February, 2011
Comment called on
Public comment has been invited on proposed amendments to Australia’s extradition and mutual assistance laws.
A draft Bill making extensive changes to the laws has been released by the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Brendan O’Connor who said updating the laws would help Australian law enforcement agencies work more productively with their international counterparts.
“Crime does not respect borders and for that reason Australia must have modern laws to fight crime in partnership with other countries,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The world is increasingly becoming a place where the barriers of distance and time can be overcome – a situation criminals are keen to exploit.”
He said for this reason Australia needed to be constantly vigilant and ensure its laws were a step ahead of the criminals.
Mr O’Connor said extradition was the process by which an accused person could be legally removed from one country to another to face charges.
He said mutual assistance laws governed the way that different international jurisdictions co-operate with each other in providing assistance for criminal investigations and prosecutions.
Mr O’Connor said the draft Bill puts forward extensive changes to Australia’s extradition and mutual assistance legislation, such as: ensuring Australian law enforcement could cooperate efficiently and effectively with their counterparts overseas; extending the availability of bail in extradition proceedings; and streamlining the time spent by people in custody in Australia pending surrender to a foreign.
“It is important to get the balance right on extradition and mutual assistance matters,” he said.
“That means affording accused persons fair treatment, while also ensuring that criminals don’t escape the law simply because they operate across national borders.”
Mr O’Connor said the draft legislation, explanatory material and information on how to make a submission are available at www.ag.gov.au/extraditionandmareforms.
Submissions close on 14 March.
8 February, 2011
Guide all business
The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research has published a new guide for small business people entering contracts.
for small business
The new tool has been designed to help the nation’s million independent contractors “get the contract right” from the start.
Minister for Small Business, Senator Nick Sherry, who launched the Independent Contractors: contracts made simple handbook, said getting the contract right at the start was the best way to improve business relationships and avoid disputes down the track.
“Contracts made simple is a quick reference guide with links to useful websites and phone numbers to make sure contractors have easy access to the facts,” Senator Sherry said.
“It has been produced in consultation with both metropolitan and regional independent contractors and the feedback is that the guide is an excellent resource,” he said.
Senator Sherry also launched the revised and updated Independent Contractors: the essential handbook and its audio version.
He said the new audio version of the publication was ideal for listening on the go, as contractors could download it to their computers, iPods or MP3 players.
“Independent contractors are important to the Australian economy and the ABS estimates there are more than one million around the country,” Senator Sherry said.
“The Government supports genuine independent contractors and the right to choose independent contracting as a career.”
He said for the first time ever, an Australian Government was providing much needed guidance on issues directly affecting independent contractors and their hirers to help save them time, money and headaches in their business dealings.
“The guides explain the rights and responsibilities of parties in an independent contracting relationship, but will also help those parties build strong business relationships and better manage risk,” Senator Sherry said.
Independent contractors: contracts made simple and Independent contractors: the essential handbook and their companion tool, the online Contractor decision tool, are available at this PS News link.
8 February, 2011
Finding super easier
Draft legislation has been released that makes it easier for workers and retirees to find lost super.
The draft Bill will allow superannuation funds to use tax file numbers (TFNs) to identify members’ accounts from I July.
The proposal will be subject to strict privacy guidelines.
The draft legislation can be viewed at this PS News link and consultations will close on 17 February.
Interested parties can lodge written submissions electronically at email@example.com or by post to: Manager, Contributions & Accumulation Unit
Personal and Retirement Income Division, The Treasury, Langton Crescent, Parkes ACT 2600.
Paper discusses safe roads
The Australian public is being encouraged to have its say about improving the road transport industry to reduce deaths and improve safety.
The consultation time for submissions to the Government’s “Safe Rates, Safe Roads” Discussion Paper has been extended to 11 February.
The discussion paper details a number of practical strategies for a national approach to truck drivers’ pay, conditions and safety, and recommends that a specialist body be created to determine safe pay rates and conditions.
The discussion paper is available at this PS News link.
Defence Chief honoured
The Chief of Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston has received a Medal Of the Order of Timor Leste.
East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta awarded Air Chief Marshal Houston with the Medal, which is the highest recognition that can be bestowed in East Timor and recognises individuals who have made a significant contribution to East Timor and the Timorese people.
Air Chief Marshal Houston accepted the award during a counterpart visit to East Timor.
The ceremony was attended by guests including East Timor’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and Chief of Defence Force Major General Taur Matan Ruak.
Needle records available
Parents have been reminded to prepare for the new school year by obtaining copies of their child’s immunisation history statement from Medicare.
Primary schools and some preschools request a copy of a child’s immunisation history for enrolment purposes.
While a child cannot be precluded from school on the basis of their immunisation status, the Government encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated.
Parents can also use a copy of their child’s statement to assist claiming family assistance payments such as the Child Care Benefit and the Maternity Immunisation Allowance.
To register for Medicare Australia Online Services or for more information about the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register, go to this PS News link.
Online forum for retailers
An Online Retail Forum will be held in Sydney on 18 February to encourage and support Australian retailers to explore online business options.
The Minister for the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy will facilitate the industry event to identify the benefits and challenges of online retail and possible solutions.
The forum will include speakers from eBay, PayPal, Shoes of Prey, Gray’s Online, Australia Post, Temando, DHL, Google and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The panel discussion will cover topics such as logistics, and the searching and purchasing trends of Australian online consumers.
To register for the event, or for more information, please visit this PS News link.
Quitting a step closer
Subsidised nicotine patches are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for the first time.
Smokers who are working with their GPs to butt out will be able to access Nicotine transdermal patches under the PBS as part of a smoking cessation program.
In addition, the anti-smoking drug varenicline (Champix) is now available through the PBS for an additional 12 weeks, helping those smokers who need to use Champix to quit.
For help to quit smoking, people should consult their doctor or pharmacist, call the Quitline on 13 7848 or see the Quitline web site at this PS News link.
Toy firm mends ways
Giant toy retailer Toys ‘R’ Us has back paid $1 million to 1000 staff and has promised to set up a whistleblower hotline for its staff to complain about wages and conditions after an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman found the company was underpaying its employees.
Toys ‘R’ Us has also pledged a $300,000 donation towards the cost of education and training needs of young and vulnerable workers.
These conditions are part of an Enforceable Undertaking that Toys R Us signed after the Fair Work Ombudsman agreed to discontinue legal action against the company.
The Ombudsman announced last year that it was prosecuting Toys ‘R’ Us for breaches of workplace law, but accepts that the contraventions were inadvertent and not deliberate.
Airservices helps PNG
Airservices Australia will provide 11 aviation rescue and fire fighting vehicles to Papua New Guinea.
The first shipment of five Mk5 and Mk6 Austral Trident fire tenders will leave Australia on 7 February, and the remaining six vehicles will be transported over the coming weeks.
In the course of an upgrade to aviation fire fighting equipment and vehicles, Airservices identified some fire fighting vehicles that were surplus to needs, which provided an opportunity to contribute to airport safety in PNG.
Airservices has also provided mechanical maintenance training in Australia to two PNG National Airports Corporation (NAC) mechanics.
1 February, 2011
Programs go to aid
The Prime Minister has announced a series of measures to help flood affected communities recover from the recent disasters.
Among the measures are $3.8 billion worth of cuts, reductions or delays to Federal programs.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said there would be $2.8 billion in spending cuts, including removing some industry assistance and abolishing the Green Car Innovation Fund and the Cleaner Car Rebate scheme.
Ms Gillard said other cuts included reducing and deferring spending on the Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships and Solar Flagships programs and the Global Capture and Storage Institute; abolishing the Capital Development Pool from 1 January 2012; and discontinuing funding for the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.
She said the funding for the Australian Learning and Teaching Council would be discontinued; the National Rent Affordability Scheme dwelling target would be reduced; and funds from the Priority Regional Infrastructure Program and Building Better Regional Cities Program would be redirected.
Ms Gillard said the Government would also cap annual claims under the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Vehicle Scheme and limit funding for the Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme – Solar Hot Water Rebate.
She said other cuts included not proceeding with Round Two of the Green Start Program; capping funding for the Solar Homes and Communities Plan; and withdrawing funding to the O-Bahn City Access project.
There would also be $1 billion saved by delaying some infrastructures projects, freeing up builders, carpenters, electricians and other skilled workers.
The Prime Minister said the rebuilding program would create additional demand or skills and workers.
Ms Gillard said to assist employers in flood-affected areas fill positions and get on with the job of rebuilding, the Government would establish a special team within the Department of Immigration to deliver employer-sponsored temporary visas within five days; and double the number of places in a job seeker relocation pilot program to help job-seekers move to take up employment opportunities.
1 February, 2011
PS chimes in
Public Servants across the Australian Public Service were recognised in Her Majesty’s Australia Day Honours List, receiving awards and decorations for their excellence, commitment and dedication to duty.
Governor-General, Quentin Bryce announced the recipients of the awards which included the Public Service Medal, Australian Police Medal, Ambulance Service Medal and Emergency Services Medal.
Those honoured were:
OFFICER IN THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA (AO)
John Cecil DAUTH LVO AO
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
For distinguished service to international relations through the advancement of Australia's diplomatic, trade and cultural relationships, particularly with the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and through contributions to the United Nations.
Mr Dauth has been the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland since 2008. He has also served at high levels in New Zealand, the United Nations,
Malaysia, New Caledonia, Iraq and Pakistan.
MEMBER IN THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA (AM)
Roger Arthur BUTLER AM
National Gallery of Australia
For service to the visual arts, particularly through curatorial roles with the National Gallery of Australia, as an author, and through the promotion of Australian drawings and printmaking.
Mr Butler has been the Senior Curator of Australian Prints, Drawings, Watercolours and Illustrated Books at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra since 1981.
Sally Jane SARA AM
Australian Broadcasting Commission
For service to journalism and to the community as a foreign correspondent raising awareness of international issues and as a reporter on rural Australia.
Ms Sara has been a journalist with ABC radio and television since 1993. She was the first female appointed ABC's Africa correspondent in 2000 and has been a finalist in the Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism, on two occasions.
Anthony David (Tony) SMITH AM
For service to marine science through research and development of ecosystem based fisheries management, particularly the implementation of harvest strategies and policy governing sustainable practices.
Dr Smith is has been a Senior Principal Research Scientist at the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research in Hobart since 200.
He has been involved in 14 research projects co-funded by the CSIRO and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and is scientific adviser on fisheries assessment and management to the Governments of Canada, Chile, Ecuador, European Union
New Zealand, South Africa and the USA.
Clelia Zita MARCH-DOEVE AM
Australian Embassy, Rome, Italy.
For service to international relations through the promotion of Australian culture in Italy.
Mrs March-Doeve has been Cultural Officer at the Australian Embassy in Rome since 1956.
Anthony Burton STAFFORD AM
Australian Federal Police
For service to international relations in the Solomon Islands, and to the community.
Mr Stafford is the AFP’s Case Officer for the Tension Trials of the murdered Solomon Island Government’s Minister for Youth and Womens Affairs, Father Augustine Geve, and the 7 murdered Melanesian Brotherhood members, Solomon Islands, 2004-2010.
PUBLIC SERVICE MEDAL(PSM)
Matthew John ANDERSON PSM
For outstanding public service in leading the Australian Government's consular and humanitarian response to the September 2009 tsunami in Samoa.
Mr Anderson is the Australian High Commissioner to Samoa and led the consular and humanitarian response to the September 2009 tsunami in Samoa which killed 143 people, including 5 Australians.
Roy BIRD PSM
For outstanding public service in leading the development of engineering protection solutions to improve the survivability of Australian Defence Force personnel operating in lightly armoured and soft-skinned military vehicles.
Mr Bird led development of engineering protection solutions to improve the survivability of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel operating in lightly armoured and soft-skinned military vehicles.
Mr Bird was responsible for the development and testing of under-body add-on armours which are fitted to many ADF vehicles operating overseas.
Kristine Anne CALA PSM
For outstanding public service as Counsellor (Immigration) and Principal Migration Officer in the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's New Delhi office.
Ms Cala has worked in of key roles the immigration portfolio for the past 20 years, most recently as Counsellor (Immigration) and Principal Migration Officer in DIAC’s New Delhi office.
She provided leadership during a period of change and negative media attention following reforms to student immigration policy.
Lisa Maree CRAWFORD PSM
For outstanding public service in contributing to the efforts of the Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka.
Details not available at the request of Ms Crawford.
Gordon John de BROUWER PSM
For outstanding public service in the development of international economic policy, particularly in the formulation of the Australian Government's agenda to establish the G20 as the pre-eminent global economic forum.
Dr de Brouwer is Deputy Secretary (Economic) in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and has made a significant contribution to the Australian Government’s agenda to establish the G20 as the pre-eminent global economic forum and its work in APEC.
He was appointed Australia’s G20 Sherpa in June 2010.
Jason Paul GULBIN PSM
For outstanding public service in the development and implementation of the Australian Sports Commission's National Talent Identification Development Program.
Dr Gulbin managed the development and implementation of the National Talent Identification Development Program for the Australian Sports Commission.
The program he developed has been so successful it is recognised internationally.
Brendan Edward HOWER PSM
For outstanding public service in establishing and managing the operational requirements for modernising Australia's national industrial awards.
Mr Hower established and managed the operational requirements for modernising Australia’s national industrial awards under high levels of public scrutiny.
The project involved the rationalisation1,650 Federal and state awards in tight timeframes
Dr Alan Lynton JAQUES PSM
For outstanding public service in leading the development of a comprehensive and integrated scientific and economic assessment of Australia's energy resources: Australia's Energy Resource Assessment.
Dr Jaques is the Chief Scientist at Geoscience Australia and played a leadership role in a comprehensive scientific and economic assessment of Australia’s energy resources: Australia’s Energy Resource Assessment (AERA).
The study was a world first and examined the range of non-renewable and renewable resources available to Australia, both currently and for the period out to 2030.
Erica Maree LAUCHLAND PSM
For outstanding public service in leading the successful implementation of high quality, cost effective automated testing of Medicare Australia's business systems.
Mrs Lauchland is the Manager of the People Enabling Services Section in Medicare Australia.
She has driven the establishment of a Quality Assurance Section within the Agency’s Applications Division reducing testing staff from over 100 to just 12 and improving productivity by 60 per cent.
Geoffrey James LEEPER PSM
For outstanding public service in the development and implementation of major reforms to housing policy in Australia.
Mr Leeper was a Deputy Secretary in the former Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, responsible for a number of significant reforms to housing policy.
Frank Anthony LEVERETT CVO PSM
For outstanding public service in the successful organisation of Prime Ministerial visits abroad, visits to Australia by Heads of Government and Heads of State, and major ceremonial occasions and events.
Mr Leverett has been Assistant Secretary of the Ceremonial and Hospitality Branch (CERHOS) in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for the past six years.
Under his direction, CERHOS has supported around 170 official visits to Australia and arranged 47 visits to 72 nations by successive Prime Ministers.
Janette Lesley McINNIES PSM
New South Wales
For outstanding public service in providing high level receptionist and information services to stakeholders of the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Ms McInnies is the first point of contact for all visitors to the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.
Her enthusiasm for the role and genuine interest in the Museum shines through her work.
James Andrew MURPHY PSM
For outstanding public service in developing public policy which delivered world's best practice standards of corporate governance and financial system regulation, and in advising the Australian Government on its response to the global financial crisis.
Mr Murphy is an Executive Director in Treasury who played a key role in the Government’s response to the global financial crisis.
He consulted with the Reserve Bank of Australia and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to develop measures to protect Australian banks and credit markets.
Delia Ann RICKARD PSM
For outstanding public service in the development of consumer protection for financial services.
Ms Rickard is a senior executive with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
She has played a role in developing consumer protection for financial services.
Christine Dorothy SILK PSM
For outstanding public service in implementing a complex unified certified agreement for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
Following the machinery of government changes in 2007, Ms Silk was responsible for developing and implementing a unified certified agreement in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).
The task was unprecedented in both scale and complexity as it required her to establish a common set of pay and conditions for approximately 6,000 staff who transferred to DEEWR after the changes were announced.
The agreement delivered by Ms Silk is a model of how to combine agencies with a history of diverging approaches to pay, relativities, performance management and agreement making which strikes a balance between individual contracts and collective bargaining.
Catherine Eve WALKER PSM
For outstanding public service in leading Australia's efforts in relation to humanitarian aid and development assistance.
Ms Walker is a Deputy Director-General in the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
She has played a role in managing increases in the aid program in Africa from $101 million in 2007-2008 to an expected $200.9 million in 2010-2011.
AUSTRALIAN POLICE MEDAL (APM)
Assistant Commissioner Rudi William LAMMERS APM
Assistant Commissioner Lammers joined the AFP in 1982 and has served in the Special Crime Branch, Anti Theft Task Force, Burglary Task Force and Project Morant.
Assistant Commissioner Roman Alexander QUAEDVLIEG APM
Assistant Commissioner Quaedvlieg is the Chief Police Officer of the Australian Capital Territory, the community policing division of the AFP.
He was formerly AFP Chief of Staff with responsibility for Ministerial liaison, National Media and Marketing, Legal Services, Professional Standards, Recognition and Ceremonial, and Executive Services.
AUSTRALIAN FIRE SERVICE MEDAL (AFSM)
Harvey Noel BRADBURN AFSM
Mr Bradburn joined the Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting Service in 1973 hand has been
Fire Station Manager Hobart and Launceston and Superintendent Regional Manager with
responsibility for the operational effectiveness of five fire stations across three States and the Australian Capital Territory.
1 February, 2011
Policy upgrade for
A revised policy on the use of Open Source software has been released by the Department of Finance and Deregulation.
Open Source software
The policy requires agencies to consider both Open Source and proprietary software for all ICT procurements.
Special Minister of State, Gary Gray said the revised policy further strengthened agency software procurement processes.
Mr Gray said the Government’s previous position on open source software, established in 2005, was one of “informed neutrality”, ensuring an unbiased position that did not favour the selection of either open source or proprietary software.
He said both the previous and the new policy positions ensured “value for money” and “fit for purpose” decisions in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines.
Mr Gray said there had been significant changes in technology and the software marketplace since the initial 2005 policy on Open Source software for the Australian Government, and many Governments around the world had revised their policies to increase adoption of open source software.
He said open source software was already widely used by Australian Government agencies, and a 2007 survey found that 68 per cent of agencies use open source software.
He said there were currently more than 200 open source software products in use across Australian Government agencies.
“The revised Australian Government policy requires agencies to consider open source software during their procurement processes and requires respondents to procurement requests to also consider the use of open source software,” Mr Gray said.
He said the guide to Open Source Software for Australian Government Agencies was available on the Finance website, and the Government was currently reviewing this Guide, which is due for public release by 31 March.
1 February, 2011
Flood taskforce to
A dedicated task force has been set up in Centrelink to investigate suspect and fraudulent flood claims.
vet damage claims
Minister for Human Services, Tanya Plibersek said claims for financial assistance arising out of the floods crisis were being examined by the task force and people attempting to rort the system would be caught.
“We know the vast majority of people who claim for disaster assistance are honest and are in urgent need of help,” Ms Plibersek said.
“Unfortunately, there are always a small number who try to exploit the situation and take money away from the people who really need it.”
She said the task force of 11 Centrelink officers had not detected any cases of fraud at this stage but that a number of claims were being investigated.
Ms Plibersek said more than $200 million had already been paid to more than a quarter of a million flood victims across Australia, and eligible victims were entitled to $1,000 for affected adults and $400 for affected children.
She said people who had lost income could also claim up to the equivalent of the Newstart Allowance for 13 weeks.
Ms Plibersek said the task force had been put together within Centrelink’s business integrity arm and was scrutinising suspicious claim forms.
“My message to people who attempt to rort the system is this: You will be caught and you could be referred for criminal prosecution,” she said.
Ms Plibersek said cases of serious fraud were referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, and convicted persons faced large fines and even imprisonment.
She said Centrelink worked with the Australian Tax Office, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Crime Commission and AUSTRAC. In the 2009-2010 financial year, Centrelink conducted three and a half million customer eligibility and entitlement reviews, and referred 3,400 customers for prosecutions, with a conviction rate of 99.3 per cent.
Ms Plibersek said people could report suspected fraud on 13 15 24 or by going online at www.centrelink.gov.au
1 February, 2011
New medal pinned on
A new honour for members of the community who perform extraordinary acts or provide special services during a national emergency has been proposed by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
for flood heroes
Ms Gillard has written to the Governor-General Quentin Bryce recommending the Queen establish a new medal for that purpose.
She said the medal, to be called the “National Emergency Medal”, would recognise extraordinary or sustained services to others during a national emergency such as the recent floods.
Ms Gillard said the award would also be back-dated to cover the Victorian bushfires in 2009.
She said the medal would be a permanent element in the national honours system, established by the Queen and awarded by the Governor-General.
In addition to the new medal, the Prime Minister has proposed a new scheme to ensure that everyone who has contributed to the rescue and recovery effort in their local communities receives due acknowledgement.
Ms Gillard said she was also writing to the Premiers of flood-affected States to support a separate community-driven form of recognition to acknowledge local heroes, including the outstanding work done by professionals and volunteers alike.
She said informal recognition by way of commemorative pins or certificates was often initiated by the relevant State in partnership with the Commonwealth for a particular event and could provide broad, community-based recognition for all of those involved.
Ms Gillard said the medal and local hero recognition scheme would provide the nation with a way to express gratitude for those who have supported individuals and communities during a time of crisis.
She said nominees for the medal and recognition scheme could include members of emergency services personnel, Government employees, corporate and private sector employees and private citizens.
Mrs Gillard said the criteria for medal nominations would be developed in the coming months following approval by the Queen.
1 February, 2011
Post Office gives
Australia Post has released Australia’s s first Charity Stamps to raise funds for the Queensland flood recovery.
stamp of support
Featuring five images from the floods, the 60c stamps will be available in a sheet of 10 that will be sold for $8, with $2 from the sale of each sheet donated to the Queensland Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal.
Australia Post has printed an initial run of 250,000 sheets but will print as many as required to meet demand.
Premier, Anna Bligh said while the immediate crisis was over, Queenslanders had a long road ahead as the recovery task got underway.
“People from Queensland, other parts of Australia, and all over the world have dug deep and so far donated over $140 million to give Queenslanders in need a helping hand,” Ms Bligh said.
“Australia Post’s Charity Stamps are a great way of enabling Australians to contribute to the fundraising efforts.”
Managing Director of Australia Post, Ahmed Fahour said like Australians everywhere, he was shocked by the scenes of devastation and the many tragic stories that emerged from the Queensland floods.
“Our business was directly impacted by the disaster, with more than 70 Post Offices forced to close, flood-damaged facilities, and many of our own people suffering loss and damage to their homes,” Mr Fahour said.
“Over the coming months the images on these Charity Stamps should serve as a stark reminder that the recovery process will be long and hard.
“Hopefully, these stamps will also remind all Australians of the on-going need to help out Queenslanders as they rebuild their flood-affected communities.”
Mr Fahour said Australia Post was also developing a scheme in which postal managers in flood-affected areas would work with local community representatives to provide grants for reinstating damaged community facilities.
1 February, 2011
The position of Disability and Race Discrimination Commissioner in the Australian Human Rights Commission is to be divided into two full-time positions.
right for new role
The move has been welcomed by the Human Rights Commission.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland announced the change saying it would restore the separate roles for the first time in 13 years.
“For the first time in 13 years, Australia will have separate Race and Disability Discrimination Commissioners in the Human Rights Commission,” Mr McClelland said.
He said it would ensure the Australian Human Rights Commission continued to play a leading role in the protection and promotion of human rights, including their public education role and advocacy for vulnerable members of our community.
Mr McClelland said the establishment of full-time Disability and Race Discrimination Commissioners separated the roles for the first time since 1997.
He said both roles were currently filled by Graeme Innes.
“Commissioner Innes has been a strong advocate as both Disability Discrimination and Race Discrimination Commissioner,” Mr McClelland said.
“He will continue in this role until 1 July, after which he will continue his important work as Disability Discrimination Commissioner alongside a new Race Discrimination Commissioner.”
He said the Government would call for expressions of interest for the positions of Age and Race Discrimination Commissioners shortly. The new Commissioners are expected to take office on 1 July 2011.
Commissioner Innes said he welcomed the opportunity to devote all of his time to addressing the many issues that continue to face Australians with disability.
“There are multitudes of areas that require sustained focus,” Commissioner Innes said.
“One area that immediately comes to mind is the need to overturn the dreadful reality that women with disabilities experience violence at significantly higher rates, more frequently, for longer, in more ways, and by more perpetrators, than non-disabled women.”
1 February, 2011
Job cuts bedevil
Tasmanian Public Servants are concerned that their new State Premier, Lara Giddings, intends cutting PS job numbers.
Ms Giddings replaced David Bartlett after his surprise resignation last month.
The Premier, Lara Giddings, has said the state was struggling financially and cutting public service jobs to improve the state’s finances was one option on the table.
Assistant Secretary Tim Jacobson said the Health and Community Service Union wrote to former premier David Bartlett seeking reassurances but received no response and Ms Giddings must respond.
“The rumours that we’ve heard are somewhere in the order of a 5 per cent cut across the public sector and numbers that seem to equate to the many hundreds across the Department of Health and Human Services,” Mr Jacobson said.
“It would be into the hundreds, if not thousands.”
Ms Giddings said belts must be tightened.
“We’ve had a reduction of some $200 million in our GST over the next four years, so that’s $50 million a year, that’s on top of other reductions we’ve had in recent times,” Ms Giddings said.
Tasmania’s Police and Education Minister, Lin Thorp, said she could not guarantee there would not be job cuts to frontline services.
“The Premier’s said quite clearly she is not ruling anything in or anything out at the moment,” Ms Thorp said.
“I of course, like anyone, am protective of my patch but I’ll be waiting like all of us will be for the mid-year financials and that will give us a clear indication of what we may need to do in the future,” she said.
1 February, 2011
The Australian Institute of Sport celebrated its 30th anniversary on Australia Day.
scores big 3-0
Minister for Sport, Mark Arbib said the AIS had proven itself a world leader in its field.
“The achievements of the AIS during the past three decades have spearheaded much of the success Australian sport has enjoyed during this period,” Senator Arbib said.
“Since its foundation in 1981, the AIS has provided world-class facilities and expert support to thousands of our elite athletes and has produced countless world, Olympic and Paralympic champions.”
Director of the AIS, Professor Peter Fricker, said the 30th anniversary was an important milestone for the Institute, which was a major division of the Australian Sports Commission.
“The past 30 years has seen a lot change within the AIS, but the role of producing world-class athletes has always remained consistent,” Professor Fricker said.
He said the reputation of the AIS as an international institution had been established not only by athletes, but also by Australia’s world-class coaches, sports scientists and medical staff.
“The 30th anniversary allows us to reflect on what has passed, but also gives us a chance to reassess and plan for an even bigger and better future,” Mr Fricker said.
He said to mark the milestone a display commemorating 30 years of the AIS opened on Australia Day at the National Sports Museum in Melbourne.
Mr Fricker said the display was just one of the activities planned this year to celebrate the anniversary.
He said the display recognised and highlighted some of the achievements of AIS athletes and staff over the last three decades.
Mr Fricker said contents of the display included: the recently banned LZR Speedo suit that saw many swimming world records tumble; the first print of the AIS logo; the first letters to the original AIS scholarship holders; and the gold medal won by track and field athlete Russell Short, which was the first individual gold medal won by an AIS athlete at Olympic and Paralympic level.
1 February, 2011
Consumers cash in on
Consumers have been encouraged to take a firm stand with shops that sell defective products now that the new national consumer law is in place.
new consumer law
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury said shoppers who find their purchases defective should not take “no” for an answer.
“Consumers should be aware that they can have defective sale items repaired, replaced or refunded under the new Australian Consumer Law (ACL),” Mr Bradbury said.
He said a new fact sheet, Your Shopping Rights, was available on the Australian Consumer Law website to help make consumers aware of their rights under the new law.
“Don’t be fooled by signs in shops saying that refunds or exchanges won’t be given for sale items,” Mr Bradbury said.
“Under the new Australian Consumer Law (ACL), which came into effect on 1 January, it is illegal for shops to display signs that refuse refunds on sale items.”
He said when dealing with defective goods, a store must provide either a repair, replacement or a refund; and if there was a major failure with an item, the consumer had the right to choose the remedy, including requesting a refund.
“These rights don’t extend to consumers who simply change their minds, and stores will still be able to refuse refunds for customers in these situations,” Mr Bradbury said.
“Consumers have a right to a statutory guarantee that the goods they purchase are of an acceptable quality and do what they are supposed to do.”
He said under the ACL, suppliers of these goods had an obligation to meet these guarantees.
Mr Bradbury said if consumers encountered any problems when dealing with a business about defective sale items, they should contact their State or Territory’s fair trading office, or the ACCC on 1300 302 502.
For more information, visit this PS News link and download the Your Shopping Rights fact sheet.
1 February, 2011
New citizens call
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship announced that Australia gained about 13,000 new citizens from 143 countries on Australia Day.
There were 325 citizenship ceremonies around the nation to welcome them.
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, said Australia’s newest citizens would join more than four million other people who had chosen to become Australian citizens since the first citizenship ceremony in 1949.
Some 3,200 people took the pledge in nearly 100 ceremonies across New South Wales.
In the ACT, Prime Minister Julia Gillard presided over her first citizenship ceremony as Prime Minister, with about 50 people from 21 countries becoming citizens in the nation’s capital.
Mr Bowen said in Victoria, about 3,000 people became Australian citizens at local council-run ceremonies around the state.
He said a ceremony at Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens was among 33 citizenship events staged in South Australia, with former refugee and South Australian Young Australian of the Year finalist Khadija Gbla to be the guest speaker.
Mr Bowen said about 150 people from 30 countries became Australian citizens in Tasmania, at 15 ceremonies in locations including Hobart, Launceston, Glenorchy and Kingborough.
He said in the nation’s west, some 2,100 people from 93 countries participated in events ranging from a single-person ceremony in country Western Australia to a ceremony for about 570 people hailing from 56 countries in Perth’s northern suburb of Wanneroo.
Mr Bowen said Queenslanders celebrated Australia Day and welcomed almost 3,000 new citizens in their state.
He said in the Northern Territory, more than 170 people became citizens at ceremonies in Darwin, Palmerston, Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.
Mr Bowen said Australia’s new citizens enriched the nation’s culture and traditions.
“Citizenship ceremonies are a special time for those involved and I offer my sincere congratulations to all the new citizens,” he said.
“I know all Australians will join me in welcoming our newest citizens.”
1 February, 2011
2010 road deaths
The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) has reported that the number of deaths on Australia’s roads in 2010 was the lowest in more than 60 years.
lowest in 60 years
Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, Catherine King said while the latest road fatality figures indicated substantial progress in the area of road safety, Australia still had a lot of work to do.
“These figures are a remarkable result considering there are now three times as many people on our roads and 13 times more vehicles than in 1949,” Ms King said.
“We’ve seen an 8.2 per cent reduction on the 2009 figure, and a 24.7 per cent reduction on the figure from a decade ago.”
She said the 2010 figure accelerated the mostly downward trend of the last decade.
“While these figures are encouraging, motorists should remain alert,” Ms Kings said.
“Any death on our nation’s roads is one too many.”
She said despite the progress, 1,368 people died as a result of crashes on Australian roads last year, about four people died each and every day, with an estimated 22 people hospitalised for every person killed, amounting to about 30,000 a year.
Ms King said the latest figures came as the 2001-2010 National Road Safety Strategy draws to a close.
“These figures point to the success of the many road safety programs implemented as part of that Strategy by all levels of Government over the last 10 years. Now we are putting in place the Strategy for the next 10 years,” Ms King said.
She said everyone needed to take responsibility for their actions and everyone could have their say on reducing fatalities on our roads by putting forward ideas on the new National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 by 11 February.
The draft National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 is available for public comment until 11 February at this PS News link.
1 February, 2011
Better food labels are
An independent report on food labelling in Australia and New Zealand has been presented to the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King.
recipe for success
Chair of the Review Panel, Dr Neal Blewett, said in the Final Report entitled Labelling Logic the Panel recognised that the food label was one of the most highly valued and competitively sought-after communication channels in the market place.
“The Review Panel has thoroughly examined the views and ideas submitted orally and in writing by a wide range of stakeholders, and sourced evidence from international experience, to produce what we believe is a set of robust recommendations designed to address the inquiry’s Terms of Reference,” Dr Blewett said.
“The crux of the Review was to address the tensions between the competing interests that drive food labelling policy and to seek to resolve them.”
He said the 61 recommendations contained in the Report were designed to address the current ad hoc approach to food labelling and provide a clear path forward.
“The cornerstone of the recommendations in the Report is a Food Labelling Issues
Hierarchy in descending order of food safety, preventative health, new technologies and consumer values issues,” Dr Blewett said.
“This classification, which is essentially a risk hierarchy, should govern the initiation of regulatory action, the modes of intervention and where rules and oversight should lie.”
He said in addition the Panel recommended that a comprehensive Nutrition Policy be developed that included a framework for the role of the food label.
Dr Blewett said within this framework, the Panel had made a wide range of recommendations, including: changes to the Nutrition Information Panel (NIP), such as the inclusion of fibre content and the removal of the current mandatory “per serve” column; a responsive regime for nutrition, health and related claims ranging from the use of simple words that may infer health implications, to high level health claims; and the introduction of a multiple traffic light front-of-pack labelling system.
The Final Report is available at this PS News link.
1 February, 2011
Aircraft report sets
A report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has revealed there is no single remedy for aircraft failing to take off successfully but it said problems could be avoided or detected.
out plane facts
The report examined Australian and international occurrences between 1 January 1989 and 30 June 2009 that involved the calculation and entry of erroneous take-off data.
It said that take-off errors happen for many different reasons such as the wrong figure being used as well as data being entered incorrectly, not being updated, or being excluded.
According to the report, while no one was immune from these types of events, risk could be dramatically reduced through good operating procedures, aircraft automation systems and software design, and clear and complete flight documentation.
The report said the consequences of these sorts of errors could range from aborted take-offs through the tail of the aircraft scraping the runway and, in the extreme, collisions with the ground.
ATSB Chief Commissioner, Martin Dolan, said that while there was no single solution to preventing take-off performance calculation and entry errors, good operating procedures would help to mitigate the risks associated with these errors.
“With each operator using different take-off calculation methods on different types of aircraft, there will never be one solution for eliminating these errors,” Mr Dolan said.
“Good standard operating procedures, such as cross checking all take-off calculations or verifying data using multiple sources, will help detect any errors before the aircraft leaves the gate.”
He said the report expanded on previous research by the Laboratory of Applied Anthropology, Boeing and Airbus by providing both an Australian and international perspective on these events.
A copy of the research report, Take-off performance calculation and entry errors: A global perspective, is available at this PS News link.
1 February, 2011
Students blow in to
Geoscience Australia has played host to 28 of the nation’s top Year 11 science students visiting Canberra to help find a solution to climate change.
beat climate change
CEO of Geoscience Australia, Dr Chris Pigram said the initiative was part of the 2011 National Youth Science Forum.
He said students were given a hands-on experience taking part in a quest to find a suitable geological storage site for carbon dioxide.
Dr Pigram said carbon capture and storage (CCS) was the process of capturing carbon dioxide from emission sources such as power stations or industrial facilities, transporting and storing it to prevent it from entering the atmosphere.
He said during the half-day workshop, students participated in a series of activities simulating some of the latest technology and techniques used for the geological storage of carbon dioxide - an innovative solution to one of the major challenges facing Australia.
“It’s a great way to see young scientists engaging with students and helping them learn about what we do,” Dr Pigram said.
“I’d like to see these students pursuing a career in geoscience and participating in our work experience and graduate programs.”
He said the National Youth Science Forum (www.nysf.edu.au) was a two-week program held in Canberra in January each year for students moving into Year 12 with an interest in following a career in science, engineering and technology.
1 February, 2011
Tourism on track
Tourism Australia has launched an online marketing campaign via Google and YouTube to showcase many Australian visitor attractions to an international online audience.
with online message
Managing Director of Tourism Australia, Andrew McEvoy said the campaign, entitled Making Tracks, will see four international musicians from the USA (two), the UK and Taiwan, flown to Australia where they would each team up with an Australian musicians and take part in a journey Down Under.
He said the musicians had recently been selected to take part in YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011.
Mr McEvoy said the journeys, and the musical compilations that come out of them, would be filmed and broadcast on YouTube and via Tourism Australia’s digital and social media channels.
He said the musical pairings would visit every State and Territory and participate in a range of Australian experiences, including surfing at Bondi beach, a scenic flight over Uluru, an ocean walk on Kangaroo Island, a helicopter flight over the Twelve Apostles, journeying across the Western Wilderness in Tasmania, hot air ballooning over Canberra and a visit to the Sunshine Coast.
Mr McEvoy said Tourism Australia was now working with YouTube to support the second YouTube Symphony Orchestra project, which had seen thousands of musicians from all over the world audition to win one of 101 spots to play at Sydney Opera House on 20 March.
He said the creative collaboration with YouTube enabled Tourism Australia to reach new markets by focusing on music and the arts.
“Making Tracks is Australia’s own magical musical mystery tour and will open up some of Australia’s most iconic destinations and experiences to a huge, global online audience,” Mr McEvoy said.
The 101 musicians selected to form YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 will be flown to Australia in March and participate in a week of rehearsals and concerts from March 14 – 20, culminating in a final performance at the Sydney Opera House on 20 March that will be live-streamed around the world on YouTube.
1 February, 2011
Admin dominates business calls
One third of all calls to the Government’s popular Small Business Support Line are questions by small business operators about licensing and registration.
The 7,500 calls show the importance of COAGs efforts to create a new national system for business name registration, an initiative aimed at drastically reducing fees and save businesses time and money.
The Small Business Support Line (1800 77 7275) has received more than 24,000 calls since its inception in September 2009.
The top five issues raised by callers are: registration and licences (33 per cent), Government initiatives, grants and assistance (22 per cent), starting a business (15 per cent), legal, accounting and taxation services (8 per cent) and business planning and diagnostic service (5 per cent).
Women win scholarships
Seventy Australian women have been accepted into the Board Diversity Scholarship Program.
The scholarships are a joint initiative of the Australian Government and the Australian Institute of Company Directors, designed to give Australian women the skills they need to become company directors or boardroom chairs.
The recipients will undertake courses of study designed for board-ready women seeking professional development in gaining their first board role, or experienced female directors aiming for board Chair positions.
The Program complements the Government’s efforts to increase the number of women in Federal boardrooms by placing a 40 per cent gender target across all Government decision-making bodies by 2015.
ABC, SBS seek Board members
Expressions of interest are being sought from individuals who have the necessary skills, qualifications and experience to contribute as non-executive directors on the ABC and SBS boards.
This appointment round will be conducted under the Australian Government’s merit-based appointments process, which has been used to fill all new vacancies on the boards of the national broadcasters since the Government was elected in 2007.
Further information for interested applicants is available from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy’s website, this PS News link.
Phone numbers up
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has changed the geographic telephone numbering rules to recognise the realities of newer services, such as voice over the internet protocol (VoIP) services.
The two targeted amendments to the Numbering Plan remove the limitations on outbound only services (including VoIP) and provide a framework governing the use of geographic numbers when used for services outside their normal area.
The changes come into effect on 1 February.
The ACMA is currently examining a range of emerging numbering issues.
Safe work finalists named
Thirty-eight finalists have been announced for the 6th Annual Safe Work Australia Awards.
Finalists for the national Awards are winners of work health and safety awards in their state, territory, Seacare or Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission jurisdiction.
Share Services (ACT) and Courts Administration Authority (WA) are in the running for the Public Sector award for Best Workplace Health and Safety Management System.
Other finalists include the CSIRO Livestock Industries (SRCC) for Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue; and, for Best Individual Contribution to Workplace Health and Safety, Sasha Berryman, ACT Health (ACT), Bruce Hansen, Department of Defence (SRCC), Pia Carter, Department of Fisheries (WA) and Jo Oliver, Centreline (SRCC).
Winners will be announced on World Day for Health and Safety at Work on 28 April.
Immigration in software upgrade
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has commenced a migration to Windows 7 as part of its desktop modernisation upgrade.
The Department will bypass Vista to upgrade its fleet of Windows XP machines to the latest operating system and will also update to Microsoft Office 2010.
In addition, it will upgrade its Symantec End Point Protection antivirus to version 11 and its end user server fleet to Microsoft Server 2008.
The deployment will be handled by Unisys under its desktop outsourcing contract, with assistance from Microsoft.
Food recalls on Facebook
Consumers can now get the latest information about food recalls and other food regulation information via Facebook and Twitter.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) will provide information on topics such as food allergies, food labels and how to make healthier eating choices through the latest social networking sites.
The service will provide daily updates on Twitter and Facebook, email subscriptions, short videos on YouTube, translated videos in Maori, Korean, Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Thai and Khmer (Cambodian), and easy to follow web seminars.
FSANZ can be found on Twitter and Facebook by searching for Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Other services are available through this PS News link.