SearchArchives for January 2012
31 January, 2012
Grants process being
Up to one in five Departments and Agencies are ignoring a requirement that they advise their Minister whether to approve or reject grants when they put proposals to him or her.
taken for granted
Auditor-General, Ian McPhee uncovered the finding in an audit of the grants administration process which was primarily aimed at examining whether Ministers were following their Agency’s advice or not.
In his report Administration of Grant Reporting Obligations, Mr McPhee found that Ministers were also ignoring a requirement that they inform the Minister for Finance whenever they approved a grant in their own electorate.
His report said that instructions introduced in 2007 included a requirement that Ministers should not make any decisions on discretionary grants without first receiving Departmental advice and that grants within a House of Representatives Minister’s own electorate were to be referred to a group of Ministers for decision.
Mr McPhee said his audit was to assess the implementation and effectiveness of the enhanced grants administration requirements.
“It is usual for Agencies to provide Ministers with written briefing material to inform decisions about whether to approve or reject proposed grants,” Mr McPhee said.
“However, the quality and nature of Agency briefing practices was variable.”
He said a significant number of the briefs examined did not clearly identify the proposed grants the Agency recommended be approved or those it recommended be rejected.
“A clear recommendation was not included in one or more briefs provided in relation to 20 per cent of the programs reviewed,” the Auditor-General said.
He said it was relatively common for Agency briefings not to clearly identify to the Minister that the spending proposal under consideration involved a grant, and not to outline the decision-making and record-keeping obligations that applied when the approval of grants was being considered.
The report found 33 instances where grants approved in a Minister’s own electorate were not reported to the Minister for Finance.
The reprt made three recommendations including that the Department of Finance and Deregulation engage more extensively with Agencies to promote improvements in grants administration.
The Auditor-General’s full report can be accessed at this PS News link and the audit team consisted of Brian Boyd, Tina Long, Alicia Hall, Heather Rae and Robert Pincini.
31 January, 2012
Business call to sack
Business leaders in Tasmania have called on the State Government to sack as many redundant Public Servants as it can as early as possible.
PS staff quicker
The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said keeping excess PS staff on the payroll for six months while they looked for a new job was too costly and they should only be given six weeks.
Chief Economist at the Chamber, Mark Bowles made the call.
“We believe that this is an extravagant, long period to be retaining staff that could be better deployed elsewhere either in the public sector or indeed the private sector,” Mr Bowles said.
Mr Bowles also called on the Government to drop its current wage policy and instead link PS pay rises solely to productivity.
But Deputy Premier, Bryan Green ruled out further changes to the Government’s wage policy and strategy to redeploy sacked Public Servants.
Mr Green said the Government had already halved the time PS staff could spend on the redeployment list from 12 months to six.
“We think we’ve got that balance right, we want to ensure that there can be an orderly transition for people,” Mr Green said.
“We value our Public Servants obviously, but at the same time we’re under budgetary pressure.”
Mr Bowles said the Chamber’s submission for the forthcoming State Budget recommended the privatisation of State run businesses, in particular Hydro Tasmania.
31 January, 2012
Finance report finds
The Department of Finance and Deregulation has published its third annual report on the use of Certificates of Compliance under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, finding non-compliance issues had declined.
In its report to Parliament the Department said Certificates of Compliance aimed to improve compliance with the financial management framework and ensure key officials were kept informed of compliance issues.
It said the Certificate process improved officials’ understanding of the framework, and strengthened Agency processes through the identification of non-compliance issues.
“Analysis of Certificate results also provides an opportunity for the Department of Finance and Deregulation (Finance) to identify issues that are common across Agencies,” the Department said.
It said the Chief Executives of all Agencies were required to provide a completed Certificate to their Minister by 15 October each year. This year, 105 Agencies were required to prepare Certificates.
“The Certificate process is based on a self-assessment by Agency Chief Executives,” The Department said.
“It provides a comprehensive overview of each Agency’s compliance with the financial management framework.”
The Department found that Agencies reported an overall decrease of 10 per cent in non-compliance in 2010-11 compared to the previous year with non-compliance down in all six of the categories used in the report.
It said this reflected Agencies’ attempts to improve processes and address compliance issues, and enhancements to the financial management framework itself.
“Overall, Agencies have again reported relatively low levels of non-compliance compared to the many millions of financial transactions they undertake each year on behalf of Government,” the report said.
It said that in 2010-11 there were 15,262 instances of non-compliance, the most common being failure to seek necessary approvals for expenditure; lack of timely action in banking public money; reliance on outdated delegations or drawing rights and lack of awareness of key requirements.
It said that of the six categories used in the report, dealing with the use of public money accounted for 75.9 per cent of all non-compliance.
The other categories were the use of drawing rights; the proper use of financial resources; banking and investment; maintenance of accounts and records; and miscellaneous requirements.
Finance’s report can be accessed at this PS News link.
31 January, 2012
Certificate paves way
The Attorney-General has announced that Australians planning a same-sex marriage overseas can apply for a Certificate of No Impediment from this week (1 February).
for same sex unions
The move means same-sex couples will be considered married according to the laws of the country where the ceremony takes place.
According to Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, some countries require foreign nationals to present a Certificate of No Impediment before they are able to legally marry under their laws.
Ms Roxon said the certificates confirm there is no impediment to a person taking part in a marriage ceremony overseas and considers issues such as whether the person is over 18 or is already married.
“This change means the certificates, which were previously only available to heterosexual couples, will now also be available to same-sex couples,” Ms Roxon said.
She said certificates would still not be issued in circumstances such as proposed marriages to certain close relatives, people under 18 years old or for people already married.
She said same-sex marriages conducted overseas were not recognised as a marriage in Australia but may be evidence of a de facto relationship for the purposes of Commonwealth, State and Territory laws.
Ms Roxon said the change in Government policy followed a resolution of the 2011 Australian Labor Party National Conference to provide the Certificates to same-sex couples and those seeking to marry overseas could find information about applying for a Certificate of No Impediment to marriage at this PS News link from 1 February 2012.
31 January, 2012
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued an invitation for people to have their say on a proposed Charter for the Commonwealth of Nations.
course for Charter
The Department said the submissions would contribute to the drafting process for the creation of a Commonwealth Charter which would then be considered by member nations in the course of this year.
It said the proposed Charter would contain a preamble recognising the historical evolution of the Commonwealth, recalling the sacrifices and struggles, the pain and sorrow of earlier times and celebrating the shared experiences of history and language.
The Department said the Charter would recognise that the Commonwealth today comprised more than 50 nations; more than two billion people; and more than one billion young people who had a special potential to promote development, peace and democracy, to uphold Commonwealth values and to achieve the Commonwealth’s aspirations for the future.
It said the Acknowledged in the proposed Charter is the, The Department said.
It said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 would be acknowledged in the proposed Charter which would also outline the values and aspirations of the Commonwealth.
The Department said the submissions received would be made available on its website unless requested otherwise by the author and could be submitted by email to CHOGM@dfat.gov.au or post to the UN and Commonwealth Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.
A draft Charter can be accessed at this PS News link.
31 January, 2012
School curriculum to
The new national curriculum for schools is to require all students to learn about the history and significance of Australia Day.
flag Australia Day
Up to now the study of Australia Day has been optional.
Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett said Australia Day was too important to leave as an ‘optional extra’.
“Australia Day is central to our history and our sense of who we are,” Mr Garrett said.
“It’s a day where we celebrate our country and acknowledge the important place Indigenous people occupy.”
He said that under the new curriculum, every Year 3 student would learn about Australia Day, its place in national history and what it meant to different groups of Australians including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
“Teachers and schools will have flexibility about how they teach the subject and will do so in a way that is appropriate for each age group,” he said.
“Older primary school children will learn Australian history by studying the lives of great Australians.”
He said in high school, students would learn about the development of Australian democracy, Australia’s involvement in United Nations peacekeeping, and the significance of the Industrial Revolution, among other topics.
Mr Garrett said the national curriculum was being progressively rolled out across the States and Territories, with Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT beginning to teach some subjects this year.
31 January, 2012
A report has been published analysing the extent to which Government regulations support or hinder the ability of infrastructure sectors to adapt to climate change.
for climate impact
Entitled The Role of Regulation in Facilitating or Constraining Adaptation to Climate Change for Australian Infrastructure, the report was released by the Acting Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Senator Chris Evans who said scientific advice showed there would be increased risks to infrastructure from the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
“Most of the regulations for Australian infrastructure were designed without climate change in mind,” Senator Evans said.
He said the purpose of the report was to examine the regulatory frameworks affecting some of Australia’s most important infrastructure to determine the extent to which they constituted barriers to climate change adaption.
Senator Evans said the report made suggestions for further analysis by Governments, regulators and owners of infrastructure assets.
He said it also examined the ability of planning regimes, environmental impact assessment and Government procurement processes to take into account risks arising from climate change.
Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus said it was important that Government regulations in Australia allowed companies to adapt effectively to climate change.
“This report will be a useful resource for planners and regulators, as well as local and State Government decision makers,” Mr Dreyfus said.
He said the report would supplement work being undertaken by the Productivity Commission in its current inquiry into regulatory and policy barriers to climate change adaptation.
The report can be accessed at this PS News link.
31 January, 2012
River plan seeks
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has produced a publication outlining the parts of the Murray Darling Basin plan most relevant to Aboriginal people.
The 35-page document, A Yarn on the River: Getting Aboriginal Voices into the Basin Plan, deals with topics such as the spiritual connection to the land and water, cultural heritage and conservation of the environment.
It promises consultation “we want to meet wherever you feel comfortable” and calls for submissions.
Chief Executive of the Authority, Rhondda Dickson said Aboriginal people needed to have a say because the decisions that would be set out in the final plan would have an impact on river country.
“I encourage Aboriginal people around the Basin to read the Yarn and draft plan, talk it through with us and send us submissions,” Dr Dickson said.
She said that while visiting country, the MDBA wanted to help Aboriginal people learn more about the draft Basin Plan, and have their say about what was in the final version.
“The MDBA also funds the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations and Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations,” she said.
Dr Dickson said both those organisations provided an Indigenous perspective into the development of the Basin Plan.
In addition, the MDBA funded the National Cultural Flows Planning and Research Committee.
Submissions on the draft plan close on 16 April.
A Yarn on the river: Getting Aboriginal voices into the Basin Plan can be accessed at this PS News link.
31 January, 2012
The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, has issued warnings to school students and business operators that they should pay attention to privacy considerations as they prepare for the 2012 study and trading year.
warned on privacy
Mr Pilgrim said students often had huge social media networks with hundreds of ‘friends’ they were sharing their personal information with and needed to be aware of the privacy implications.
“I urge students to think very carefully about what they are posting online and who can see it,” Mr Pilgrim said.
“What you post online today can have long term effects down the track.”
He said a future employer may pick up on material the student thought had long been buried.
He said a recent survey on social networking privacy showed that people did care about their privacy on the sites.
“Most people like to talk and share information about themselves but the survey showed us that people are concerned about whether they can control who sees the information they put on,” Mr Pilgrim said.
“By all means use social networking but please be sensible when you do.”
He urged both student and business users to make sure they were familiar with how to set and change the privacy settings and to understand who could see what they were posting.
“The effects of a privacy breach on business reputation can be significant,” Mr Pilgrim said.
“In 2011 we saw a number of businesses suffer from a loss in consumer confidence after major privacy breaches occurred.”
Mr Pilgrim’s comments coincided with Data Privacy Day last and more information was available from this PS News link.
31 January, 2012
Coal committee digs
An interim committee of experts has been appointed to provide independent scientific advice on coal seam gas and large coal mining activities.
in with advice
Minister for Environment and Water, Tony Burke said the interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee (IESC) had been formed pending formal establishment of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development.
He said the Committee would be part of a new science-based framework aimed at providing more certainty for regional communities around coal seam gas and large coal mining projects.
Mr Burke said the Government would allocate $150 million to the interim IESC which would provide scientific advice to Governments and relevant coal seam gas and large coal mining projects, and commission and fund water resource assessments for priority regions.
“The interim Independent Expert Scientific Committee has had an initial meeting which endorsed the Terms of Reference and began development of a work plan,” Mr Burke said.
He said the members of the interim IESC were Professor Craig Simmons (Chair), Professor John Langford, Jane Coram, Associate Professor David Laurence, Professor Chris Moran, and Emeritus Professor Peter G Flood.
“Independent expert scientific advice to provide quality recommendations for the protection of underground water has formed part of Federal approvals where they have been given,” Mr Burke said.
“With this new Independent Expert Scientific Committee, the scientific rigour will be more broadly applied to consider the impact on underground water more generally.”
He said in addition to establishing the new IESC, the Government would also enter a new National Partnership Agreement with the States through COAG.
He said that under that agreement all Governments would undertake to include the Committee’s advice in their assessments and approval decisions.
More information about the interim IESC is available from this PS News link.
31 January, 2012
Saver Plus program
The Saver Plus program, aimed at helping people in financial stress, has been used by more than 3,200 Australians over the past 18 months according to the Minister for Community Services, Julie Collins.
a plus for savers
Ms Collins said the vast majority of people taking advantage of the scheme were women.
She said Saver Plus provided people with financial education and gave them an incentive to save for the education costs of either themselves or their children.
“We expect just over 14,000 people will take advantage of the program by 2014,” Ms Collins said.
She said Saver Plus, which had been developed by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the ANZ bank, was being delivered in 61 locations across Australia in partnership with community organisations including Berry Street, The Benevolent Society and The Smith Family.
“The program has a real focus on financial self-reliance because it provides solid budgeting education,” Ms Collins said.
“There is also a real incentive to save, as every dollar becomes two dollars in the bank.”
She said the most popular items over the past 18 months were computers and laptops, school uniforms and shoes, school books and stationery and camps and excursions.
“A report by RMIT University released in September 2011 showed that 87 per cent of people who participated in the program between 2006 and 2009 are still saving the same amount or more than they did while in the program,” Ms Collins said.
She said Saver Plus was part of $438.7 million being spent on financial management programs, helping people overcome financial adversity, manage their money, participate in their communities, and plan for the future.
27 January, 2012
Aid review brings
Public Servants employed overseas as aid advisers have had their pay and allowances reduced under a new framework that brings them more into line with the broader Australian Public Service.
advisers into line
The changes follow the Joint Adviser Review which cut 257 adviser positions and reduced by up to a quarter the average salaries and allowances payable by the aid agency AusAID to commercially contracted advisers.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd said the review had now considered 63 Public Service positions in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Indonesia that were filled by officers from 11 Departments including the Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of Finance and Deregulation, Immigration and Citizenship, the Department of Infrastructure and Transport and the Treasury.
“The review found that conditions of service were not consistent across positions, countries, Government Departments or in comparison to other non-aid overseas postings,” Mr Rudd said.
“A clear framework for salaries paid to advisers and a standard package of allowances and benefits has now been introduced.”
He said the new framework brought to an end the special arrangements introduced by the previous Government and broadly lined up the aid advisers with other Australian Public Service staff posted overseas.
For more information visit this PS News link.
27 January, 2012
PS achievers make
The achievements and dedication to duty of many Public Servants have been recognised by the Queen in the Australia Day honours list.
Governor-General, Quentin Bryce announced the recipients of the awards in the Order of Australia, including the Public Service Medal.
Those honoured were:
COMPANION IN THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA (AC)
Terry MORAN AO AC,
Prime Minister and Cabinet
For eminent service to the community through public sector leadership, as a significant contributor to policy development, program delivery and effective governance, and to the implementation of contemporary government administration.
Mr Moran was Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2008 to 2011 and Chair of the Advisory Group examining Australian Government Administration.
He was Secretary of the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet from 2000 to 2008.
Justice Virginia Margaret BELL AC,
For eminent service to the judiciary and to the law through leadership in criminal law reform and public policy development, to judicial administration, and as an advocate for the economically and socially disadvantaged.
Justice Bell has been a Judge of the High Court of Australia since 2009.
OFFICER IN THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA (AO)
Justice Diana BRYANT AO
For distinguished service to the judiciary and to the law, particularly to family law policy reform and practice, through the establishment of the Federal Magistrates Court, and to the advancement of women in the legal profession.
Justice Bryant has been Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia since 2004.
She was also the Inaugural Chief Magistrate of the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia in 2000.
Andrew METCALFE AO
Immigration and Citizenship
For distinguished service to public sector leadership through contributions to Australia's international relations and to major public policy development and program implementation in the areas of immigration, Australian citizenship, cultural diversity and national security, and to the community.
Mr Metcalfe has been Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship since 2005. He was Deputy Secretary from 1999 to 2002.
He has been patron of EXPAND, the APS -wide network of Executive Assistants and Personal Assistants since 2008.
MEMBER IN THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA (AM)
Emeritus Professor John Patrick BAIRD AM
Australian Defence Force Academy
For service to higher education, particularly through the Australian Defence Force Academy, and to the discipline of engineering as an academic and researcher.
Professor Baird was Rector of the Australian Defence Force Academy from 2004 to 2010.
Michael Peter BAUMANN AM
Federal Magistrates Court
For service to the community of Queensland as a magistrate and through contributions to court procedures and practices, to the legal aid sector, and to sporting organisations.
Mr Baumann has been a Federal Magistrate in Queensland since 2000.
Justice Jennifer Margaret BOLAND AM
Family Court of Australia
For service to the judiciary through the Family Court of Australia, to legal education, and to the community, particularly through social welfare organisations.
Justice Boland was a judge in the Appeal Division of the Family Court from 2004 to 2011.
Dr Geoffrey GOODWIN AM
Defence Science and Technology Organisatio
For service to engineering through contributions to the ships and submarines of the Royal Australian Navy.
Dr Goodwin is a specialist in propulsion and safety systems with DSTO and has been integral to solving engine defects in the RAN’s Collins Class submarines.
Justice Peter Cadden HEEREY QC AM
Federal Court of Australia
For service to the judiciary through the Federal Court of Australia, to the development of legal principle in the areas of intellectual property, trade practices and military law, and to the community.
Justice Heerey was a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia from 1990 to 2009.
David John PARKER AM
For service to public administration through contributions to economic policy, as an Australian representative to world economic forums, to Kidney Health Australia and to people with kidney disease.
Mr Parker is Executive Director of the Revenue Group in Treasury and a Board Member, Kidney Health Australia.
MEDAL OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA (OAM)
John EDWARDS OAM
Department of Parliamentary Services
For service to the protective security industry through the development of training programs.
Mr Edwards has been Senior Project Manager with the Department of Parliamentary Services since 2007.
Warwick Graeme SODEN OAM
Federal Court of Australia
For service to judicial administration through the Federal Court of Australia.
Mr Soden has been Registrar and Chief Executive of the Federal Court since 1995.
PUBLIC SERVICE MEDAL (PSM)
Martin Gerard BOWLES PSM
Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
For outstanding public service in delivering highly successful energy efficiency policies and remediation programs for the Home Insulation and Green Loans programs.
Mr Bowles is Deputy Secretary of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and developed and delivered the remediation policies and programs for the Home Insulation and Green Loans programs.
He was instrumental in developing the Home Insulation Safety Plan that replaced the original program and through his leadership the Department has embedded improved program design and enhanced planning and management programs
Blair Robert COMLEY PSM
Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
For outstanding public service in the development of public policy, particularly in the areas of carbon pricing and emissions trading, tax policy design and debt management.
Mr Comley is the Secretary of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
He has made an outstanding contribution to public policy, particularly in the areas of carbon pricing and emissions trading, tax policy design and debt management.
Mr Comley is acknowledged as a leading expert on carbon pricing and emissions trading, both in Australia and internationally and also as a leader in the field of climate change mitigation.
Gregory DARK PSM
Australian Tax Office
For outstanding public service in continuity to tax administration, particularly in the areas of major project implementation and innovative service delivery.
Mr Dark has been at the forefront of the conception, design and delivery of significant tax administration policy and administrative programs, projects and other initiatives that have delivered innovative solutions and resulted in improved service to the public.
He has exhibited a commitment to delivering positive and judicious outcomes for the community and the ATO through his management of and contribution to a wide range of significant projects.
Janet Florence DORRINGTON PSM
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
For outstanding public service through management of Australian border security as National Director, Passengers Division, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
Ms Dorrington plays a leading role in implementing a national approach to Customs and Border Protection at airports.
This has led to a consistency of processes and significant improvements in service delivery to travellers.
Gregory Douglas FARR PSM
For outstanding public service in leading major reforms to the strategy and delivery of Information and Communication Technology Systems, particularly in the Department of Defence.
As Chief Information Officer in the Department of Defence, Mr Farr has reformed both the strategy and delivery of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems across the Department.
He has also implemented a more customer focused strategy at the service and project level as well as a major cultural change program and formal professional skilling framework for ICT staff across Defence.
Alistair LEGGE PSM
Australian Electoral Commission
For outstanding public service in enhancing Australia's support for electoral processes in neighbouring countries and for the successful establishment of the Indigenous Electoral Participation Program.
Mr Legge has been involved in the design and delivery of election assistance programs in other countries.
His skills are often in international demand and he has undertaken missions in many Pacific Island locations as well as the Philippines and Nepal.
He was integral to the establishment of the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand Electoral Association.
Gary Wayne MAROSKE PSM
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service,
For outstanding public service in establishing and maintaining effective biosecurity services in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsular area.
Mr Maroske has delivered biosecurity services in northern Australia, for many years.
He has championed the expansion of quarantine capacity in the high risk Torres Strait area by appointing many Indigenous quarantine officers and has been instrumental in the delivery of innovative and effective quarantine services.
James John MARSHALL PSM
For outstanding public service in the management and delivery of Australia's mail-sorting and delivery network.
Mr Marshall has made a major contribution to the operational efficiency and reliability of Australia Post’s mail-sorting and delivery network, particularly the FuturePost program.
FuturePost has been described as the most significant change to Australia’s mail handling network since the introduction of postcodes in 1967.
Neil Richard ORME PSM
Department of Defence
For outstanding public service in the fields of Defence policy development, corporate renewal and strategic issues management.
Mr Orme is First Assistant Secretary for International Policy at Defence, and has made a significant contribution to the Department’s policy development, strategic issues management and governance.
He has developed a more strategic approach to providing timely, high quality advice to Cabinet and Cabinet committees and has led moves to enhance cross portfolio co-operation, particularly in relation to national security and capability development issues.
Ronald Thompson PERRY PSM
Council of Australian Governments
For outstanding public service in the development and maintenance of the Council of Australian Governments as an effective institution of Australian governments.
Mr Perry heads a secretariat unit of COAG that provides first class service to the Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers and President of the Australian Local Government Association.
His leadership and ability to work through complex policy and coordination issues are outstanding and have assisted COAG face many demanding challenges.
Leslie May RIGGS PSM
For outstanding public service in playing critical roles in driving national transport reform.
Ms Riggs has made an outstanding contribution to national transport reform by establishing the Commonwealth’s approach to transport infrastructure funding and regulatory reform.
She developed three national transport regulators: heavy vehicle, rail and maritime safety and was instrumental in the establishment of the Auslink program.
Dr Michelle Claire STOREY PSM
Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory
For outstanding public service in establishing the Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory and for assisting Australia's bid to host the international Square Kilometre Array project.
Dr Storey was technical adviser and has made a major contribution to Australia’s bid for the Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope.
She established the Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory which is now home to the SKA bid and has played a largely unheralded role in ensuring that future generations of Australian scientists and engineers continue the tradition of innovation in Australia.
Thomas Fiaschi YATES PSM
For outstanding public service in organising the evacuation of Australian citizens from Tripoli, Libya in February 2011.
Mr Yates was Consul General and Senior Trade Commissioner in Tripoli during dangerous and unpredictable times.
He worked tirelessly to gather information and maintain a diplomatic presence in the city, demonstrating professionalism and courage in the evacuation of the entire Australian community from Tripoli in its recent time of crisis.
AUSTRALIAN POLICE MEDAL (APM)
Assistant Commissioner Ramzi JABBOUR APM
Assistant Commissioner Jabbour joined the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in 1990 and has served in many AFP offices including Perth, Canberra Darwin and Adelaide as well as with the National Crime Authority.
He was promoted to Assistant Commissioner in January 2010 and his current role as National Manager Crime Operations, gives him overall responsibility for the People Smuggling Strike Team, Identity Security Strike Team, National Missing Persons Coordination Centre, Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Team, Financial Crime Team, Drugs Response, Special References and Economic Crime.
Superintendent Christopher John LINES APM
Superintendent Lines joined the ACT Police in 1978, and received Detective designation in 1987. He was promoted to Superintendent in 1999.
In 2006, he was responsible for the Multinational Crime Investigation Unit, which involved setting up and leading the Major Crime Investigation Team and managing and directing several small investigation teams and a support team comprising officers from Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand.
27 January, 2012
An overview of a report from the Independent Review of the Intelligence Community (IRIC) has been released by the Prime Minister.
The unclassified document follows the Government’s consideration of the classified report which recommended improvements in areas such as priority setting, mission integration, performance evaluation, innovation and strategies for managing intelligence collection.
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard said the Review was the first comprehensive examination of the Australian intelligence community since 2004.
“The Review found that Australia’s intelligence agencies are performing well following a period of significant growth to deal with the security challenges of the 9/11 decade,” Ms Gillard said.
She said it also found that Australia and its citizens were safer than they would otherwise have been due to the intelligence efforts and that the nation’s intelligence capabilities had contributed significantly to the global security effort.
“The Review covered challenges for the Australian intelligence community over the next five years stemming from geo-political and technological change and made recommendations to help maintain the performance of the community in a period of resource constraints,” she said.
Ms Gillard thanked the joint leaders of the review, former Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, Robert Cornall and Associate Professor Rufus Black and said the Australian intelligence community played a vital role in keeping Australians safe and protecting Australia’s security interests.
“The Review demonstrated that the investment in the intelligence community over the past decade had resulted in more capability and increased performance,” she said.
The unclassified overview of the IRIC Report can be accessed at this PS News link.
27 January, 2012
Urban policy forum
A new Urban Policy Forum has been established to focus on making the nation’s biggest cities and regional centres more productive, sustainable and liveable.
to improve cities
To be chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, Mike Mrdak, the Forum will bring together experts from across all levels of Government as well as industry and academia.
Its central role will be to advise the Government on the implementation of the National Urban Policy.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese said the Forum would help ensure long term policy-settings were right.
“Importantly, the Forum will maintain the spirit of collaboration fostered during in the development of the Creating Places for People urban design protocol for Australian cities, which is now being championed by 35 high-profile government, industry and community organisations,” Mr Albanese said.
“The establishment of the Urban Policy Forum complements our earlier urban policy initiatives.”
He said those initiatives included the creation of the Major Cities Unit; a commitment of more Federal infrastructure funding for urban public transport; and the establishment of a Liveable Cities program to support high-quality demonstration urban design projects and better urban plans.
He said there was a requirement of all State and Territory Governments to have strategic planning systems in place for their capital cities and a regular report on the State of Australian Cities would help monitor the performance of the 18 biggest cities over time.
Mr Albanese said it would also allow policy-makers to measure and assess progress towards more productive, sustainable and liveable cities.
He said the Forum’s experts would include former South Australian Premier Mike Rann, former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe, current head of the Local Government Association Genia McCaffery and the Deputy Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia Maria Tarrant.
The National Urban Policy and the urban design protocol can be accessed at this PS News link.
27 January, 2012
2011 road toll
New figures show that last year Australia recorded the lowest number of road deaths since 1946.
a 65-year low
The official figures for December 2011 reveal that the road toll was down to about a third of the deaths recorded at its peak in 1970.
They also show that over the past 10 years annual fatalities on Australian roads had fallen by almost 26 per cent with only 1,292 lives lost on the nation’s roads during 2011, a 4.4 per cent reduction on 2010.
Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, Catherine King said the Government was working to reduce the national road toll even further through its new National Road Safety Strategy.
“Even more encouraging is the 22 per cent drop in the number of young driver fatalities compared with 2010,” Ms King said.
“The 2011 figures for driver fatalities in the 17 to 25 age bracket are also 34 per cent lower than those recorded in 2007.”
She said the figures reflected the proactive road safety initiatives pursued by Federal and State Governments over recent years as well as the efforts of police and the greater care taken by motorists when behind the wheel.
“The Government will continue to look at initiatives for younger drivers with a focus on saving lives through education with programs such as keys2drive offering free lessons to learners,” she said.
“Although these latest figures display a significant improvement on our roads, there is no room for complacency.
“In the 12-day period around Christmas and New Year, 50 people were killed on Australian roads.”
A copy of Road Deaths Australia: Monthly Bulletin December 2011 can be accessed at this PS News link.
27 January, 2012
A number of reforms to Australia’s peak science advisory body have been announced by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
Ms Gillard said the changes would make the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) more relevant and responsive to the immediate challenges and opportunities facing the nation.
“The new PMSEIC will have a more dynamic and contemporary focus following a recent review of its operations and membership,” Ms Gillard said.
“The new smaller Council will meet three times a year to provide more timely independent scientific policy advice to Government on existing and emerging issues that a nation like Australia must confront.”
She said the Council would continue to provide essential advice to Government on issues facing Australia’s long term future, looking five to 30 years ahead.
“Our scientific community is highly regarded for its tremendous contribution to build a richer, fairer, cleaner and safer Australia,” Ms Gillard said.
“The new Council, led by Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb will be in a stronger position to utilise this scientific expertise.”
The Prime Minister said the Council would be able to refer long-term issues that required a scientific response to the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACoLA) to undertake in depth, interdisciplinary research and report to Government through the Chief Scientist.
She said the PMSEIC’s revised membership would include herself as chair and the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans, as the alternate chair.
She said other members would include the Minister for Industry and Innovation Senator Kim Carr; other Ministers relevant to the meeting, at the invitation of the Prime Minister; Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb as well as the Chief Executives of the Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council; and six individual standing members chosen for their contributions to science and research -¬ Dr Megan Clark,¬ Dr Cathy Foley,¬ Dr Ben Greene,¬ Professor Robert Saint,¬ Professor Fiona Stanley, and¬ Professor Graeme Turner.
More information about the new Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council can be accessed at
this PS News link.
27 January, 2012
More than 93 per cent of Australian schoolchildren achieved better than the national minimum standard in reading, writing and numeracy in 2011 according to the final results of the year’s NAPLAN tests.
Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett said the results showed that while overall results had remained steady since the first NAPLAN tests were held in 2008, there had been encouraging signs of student improvement in many year groups.
Mr Garrett said they also confirmed that there was still work ahead for Governments, schools and the community to improve the performance of regional and remote, low SES, and indigenous students.
“Literacy and numeracy are the fundamental skills which every student needs in order to get the best education possible, reach their full potential and secure a job when they leave school,” Mr Garrett said.
“While Australia has one of the best education systems in the world, international testing shows that our results have been in decline.”
He said the best performing students were not doing as well as they were 10 years ago and the gap between the top and bottom students had increased.
“This is not acceptable in a country as wealthy and well-resourced as Australia,” Mr Garrett said.
“For Australians to prosper in the coming Asian century, we need to provide the highest quality education to all our children.”
He said NAPLAN was a powerful tool which provided detailed data on how schools and students were performing and identifying where extra support was needed.
“Together with other Government reforms such as the $2.5 billion Smarter Schools National Partnerships, we are working on building a solid body of evidence on what works in our schools,” he said.
“In April we will also launch a new national database on literacy and numeracy teaching methods, which will mean every teacher and principal in the country can access information about effective teacher strategies that are proven to work.”
Mr Garrett said individual school results from the NAPLAN report would be released on the MySchool website in the coming weeks.
He said the final report was available at this PS News link.
27 January, 2012
Police sign up for
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Defence Forces to make it easier for police officers to join the Defence Reserves.
Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Jason Clare said the AFP and Defence worked closely together in Australia and in many places around the world.
“I’ve been to Afghanistan, East Timor and Solomon Islands to see first-hand our Australian Federal Police and Defence Force working together to protect Australia,” Mr Clare said.
“This takes that one step further.”
He said about 175 AFP members were also Defence reservists, regularly serving in Australia and in operations overseas.
Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney welcomed the signing of the MoU.
“Defence reservists play an important role in Australia’s national security interests both at home and abroad,” Senator Feeney said.
“The MoU will outline support avenues for AFP members who are also reservists, and help streamline their release from police roles when they are required to undertake Defence service.”
Acting Commissioner of the AFP, Peter Drennan said his members had a long and successful history of involvement in the reservist program.
“I am very pleased that this new agreement will allow them to make this valuable contribution even more smoothly and effectively,” Acting Commissioner Drennan said.
Head of Defence’s Cadet, Reserve and Employer Support Division, Major General Paul Brereton said Defence was working to formalise relationships with police and emergency services across Australia.
“MoUs clarify the relationship and responsibilities of both employers, so that they work in harmony in the national interest,” Major General Brereton said.
“As such, the signing of an MoU between the AFP and Defence will benefit all parties involved.”
27 January, 2012
PS IT costs $5 billion
A new report has revealed that the Australian Government had an annual expenditure of $5 billion on Information and Communications Technology.
The report outlines expenditure by Government Departments in 2008-09 and 2009-10 and shows that some major service improvement projects had been enabled, including the Department of Human Service’s Service Delivery Reform project and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Passport Redevelopment Program.
The expenditure report can be accessed at PS News link.
NAIDOC planning starts
Communities are being encouraged to join in this year’s National Aborigines and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) celebrations.
The theme of this year’s celebrations is Spirit of the Tent Embassy: 40 years on.
The celebrations will be held from 1 to 8 July but nominations for the National NAIDOC Awards and National NAIDOC Poster Competition are already open.
The award nominations close on 27 April and the poster competition on 30 March.
For entry forms and further information visit PS News link.
Science prizes open
Nominations are now open for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.
The Prizes honour Australians who make significant contributions to building society through scientific achievements and science education.
Past recipients Elizabeth Blackburn and Brian Schmidt went on to be awarded Nobel Prizes in 2009 and 2011 respectively.
Nominations close 27 April and more information is available from PS News link.
Healthy income for health insurers
The Private Health Insurance Administration Council’s Operations of Private Health Insurers Annual Report 2010-11, shows income from premiums increased 8.8 per cent on the previous financial year.
It showed benefits paid to members increased by 7.6 per cent and 45.3 per cent of Australians were covered by private hospital insurance at the end of the last financial year.
Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek said the private health insurance industry was in a strong financial position and would not be harmed by means testing of the private health insurance rebate.
Uni places soar
Removing the limits on university places has led to almost 59,000 NSW and ACT university applicants receiving main round offers.
This represents an increase of around 1,400 people from the two jurisdictions.
According to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, increases in undergraduate university offer include a 13 per cent increase in offers from University of Tasmania (UTAS); 4.4 per cent increase from universities in South Australia and the Northern Territory and a 3.6 per cent increase by Queensland institutions.
Senator Evans said an additional 100,000 students were now attending university.
Comment call on GM corn
Comments on food derived from a corn line genetically modified to be tolerant to the herbicide Glyphosate have been invited by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
An application has been received from Monsanto Australia Limited seeking to vary the Standard relating to food produced using gene technology.
People wishing to make a submission should visit this PS News link.
24 January, 2012
APSC updates guide
The Australian Public Service Commission has updated its guide on the processes and requirements involved in terminating APS staff.
The guide Terminating APS Employment: The Legislative Framework contains advice covering the different grounds on which a decision to terminate an appointment can be made and the legal requirements that must be observed.
The guide outlines and explains the relevant sections of the Public Service Act and the Fair Work Act 2009 and also touches on the requirements of administrative law, anti-discrimination laws, superannuation law and industrial instruments.
It encourages Agencies to establish appropriate mechanisms to inform themselves of any legislative changes and developments in case law saying the law regulating termination of employment is complex and subject, amongst other things, to the jurisdiction of Fair Work Australia.
The guide says that under the Public Service Act an Agency head (or delegate) may, by notice in writing, terminate the employment of an APS employee.
It says the decision to terminate must be consistent with the requirements of the Act, including the requirement to uphold the APS Values and the requirements set out in the Directions.
The guide outlines a range of provisions that may apply depending on the employment status of the employee and the particular reason why termination of employment was considered.
With ongoing employees, the guide says the only grounds that can be relied on for termination included: excess to the requirements of the Agency; a lack or loss of an essential qualification; non-performance, or unsatisfactory performance; physical or mental incapacity; failure to satisfactorily complete an entry-level training course; failure to meet a condition of engagement or breach of the Code of Conduct.
The guide also includes ‘any other ground prescribed by the Public Service Regulations’ but to date no other grounds had been prescribed.
It says a decision to terminate must be notified in the APS Employment Gazette.
With non-ongoing employees, if it is proposed to terminate employment before the end of an agreed contract, the guide sets out the procedures that must be followed.
It notes that there are additional requirements relating to Senior Executive Service employees before employment can be terminated including that the employee be provided with full information about other suitable employment in the Agency.
The APSC guide can be accessed at this PS News link.
24 January, 2012
Union push for
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has claimed that a permanent workforce was essential for the public sector to best serve the Australian community and that the alternative was an insecure Public Service that could not perform its role adequately.
PS job security
The comments were made in the CPSU’s submission to an independent inquiry into Insecure Work in Australia commissioned by the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Branch Secretary of the CPSU in Western Australia, Toni Walkington said in the submission that it was in the community’s interests to have a permanent, independent PS that provided frank and fearless advice to the Government of the day and delivered services in an impartial manner.
She said the overwhelming prevalence of fixed-term contracts at higher levels had resulted in the politicisation of the PS.
Ms Walkington said Public Servants who were insecure in their employment could be compromised or limited in their ability to give frank and fearless advice due to the tenuous nature of their employment.
“The loss of knowledge and skills from the sector when contracts expire also has a detrimental impact on the quality of the Public Service as a whole,” Ms Walkington said.
She said insecure work was “rife” in the public sector while permanent work was decreasing and the use of fixed-term contracts was widespread.
She said that in 1994, 85 per cent of employees were permanent compared with 71.2 per cent in 2009, seeing a reduction of almost 14 per cent in a 15-year period.
Ms Walkington said there were high numbers of workers on fixed-term contracts which pointed to the widespread misuse of contract employment in the public sector.
She said the lack of financial security on a fixed-term contract hampered the worker’s ability to plan for the future and get approval for bank loans. This was particularly difficult when a worker was the sole income earner.
Ms Walkington said the lack of certainty about future employment put a lot of stress on the employee, both emotionally and financially and this stress often had an impact on the employee’s family.
24 January, 2012
Internet preferred by
The internet has emerged as the preferred means of accessing Government services according to a study conducted by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).
The report on Australians’ use of e-Government Services shows that the internet, when available as an option, was the most commonly used channel to contact Government.
Special Minister of State, Gary Gray said nearly half the Australians contacting the Government (47 per cent) used the internet on their most recent occasion.
“Nearly half (46 per cent) also said they preferred the internet over other forms of contact,” Mr Gray said.
“The research also found there has been significant growth in the use of mobile phones and similar portable devices to access websites.”
Mr Gray said AGIMO began the series of six surveys in 2005, when 19 per cent of Australians used the internet for their most recent contact with Government.
“The 2011 study shows that overall satisfaction with Government online services remains high,” he said.
“Since 2009, there has been a significant increase in satisfaction with the way Government websites are designed to promote quick service delivery.”
He said however there was still scope for improvement through better convenience, channel features and availability of online services.
“People now more than ever expect Government to provide its services online whenever possible,” Mr Gray said.
“The opportunities for greater engagement with citizens online will increase with the introduction of high speed broadband through the NBN and the increased use of new communications technologies.”
The report noted that older users continued to adopt communication technologies such as email, SMS and social networking sites.
“However, the take up rate of e-government services among those over 65 lags behind that of other age groups,” Mr Gray said.
“Australians in this age group indicate they might be more likely to use e government channels if they had better skills and/or improved access.”
The report Interacting with Government Australians’ use and satisfaction with e government services 2011 can be accessed at this PS News link.
24 January, 2012
IPAA goes bush for
Three State chapters of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) are to join forces to host the Institute’s inaugural regional conference in Albury (NSW) in March.
Over two days 25 speakers will discuss a range of items including economic development and infrastructure, leadership in regional communities, rural service delivery, cross border issues, online collaboration and citizen engagement.
There will also be sessions on the environment and natural resources and building and retaining talent.
Keynote speakers are to include the Secretary of the Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, Glenys Beauchamp; Secretary of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Peter Harris; Secretary of the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, Helen Silver; and Assistant Commissioner of the Australian Taxation Office, Debra Unsworth.
Also speaking will be former Vice-Chancellor of Charles Sturt University, Ian Goulter; Secretary of the Victorian Department of Health and President of IPAA Victoria, Fran Thorn; former Secretary of Victoria’s Department of Planning and Community Development Victoria, and Vice President of IPAA National, Yehudi Blacher and Deputy Director-General of Policy and Cabinet in the ACT Chief Minister and Cabinet Directorate, Pam Davoren.
Breakout sessions will discuss issues including the problem of providing services in the regions when six out of 10 Australians live in just five sites, resulting in job opportunities and social amenities outside them being generally inferior.
The rapid expansion of technology will also be discussed, in particular how the development of social networking has informed and empowered individuals and is changing the relationships between Governments and citizens.
A Natural Resources and Environment session will hear speakers on water security and coal seam gas and the Murray Basin Case Study.
The conference will wrap up with a panel of keynote speakers on the topic of strategic leadership in regional communities.
More details about the conference can be accessed at this PS News link.
24 January, 2012
Defence briefs hung
The Minister for Defence has released 116 briefing notes in an effort to improve accountability in his portfolio, satisfy requests from media organisations and honour the disclosure provisions of the new Freedom of Information laws.
out by Minister
The Minister, Stephen Smith said that since being appointed to the position in September 2010, he had received 248 ‘Hot Issue Briefs’ from the Department of Defence.
He said Hot Issue Briefs provided initial and early advice to the Minister and Defence’s senior leaders on sensitive or complex matters or incidents that might require the immediate attention of Defence’s senior leadership.
He said that of the 142 Briefs previously released 80 were personnel related, involving a range of incidents including inappropriate behaviour, and other personal matters; 31 were capability related and 31 covered a variety of other matters such as loss of equipment, release of notable reports, and discovery of unexploded ordnance.
He said the further 116 Briefs now released contained 58 that were personnel related; 16 capability related and 42 covering other matters.
The Minister said that of the latest batch, 67 had been reported to the police or the Australian Defence Forces Investigative Service and three, relating to the potential theft of documents, were reported to the Defence Security Authority.
Only three Briefs had not been released at this time as they would prejudice ongoing matters, Mr Smith said.
“They will be released at a subsequent time.”
He said he had also directed a change to the Hot Issue Brief process, aimed at streamlining the system and enhancing transparency.
He said the Black Review of the Defence Accountability Framework had challenged Defence to enhance individual and collective accountability.
“Placing on the public record Defence’s advice to me on these issues including instances of inappropriate behaviour is a part of that accountability,” Mr Smith said.
The Hot Issue Briefs that had been released can be found at this PS News link.
24 January, 2012
The Australasian Consumer Fraud Task Force (ACFT) and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) are seeking the most up-to-date information on fraud and scam trends in Australia through their annual online survey.
is the real thing
Principal Criminologist at AIC, Russell Smith said the two organisations wanted as much consumer fraud information as possible.
“Whether it is about fraudsters ringing from an overseas call centre trying to con money from householders, or email advance fee fraud scams, and even fraudulent requests for money by traditional post,” Dr Smith said.
“If you have come in contact with such a consumer scam, or know someone else who has, please take the opportunity to fill in our short, confidential survey.”
He said last year’s survey showed a sharp increase in people experiencing approaches by scammers and an increase in the use of landline phones (from overseas call centres) and SMS to try and scam victims.
“The key to fighting scams is to provide consumers with information about how to recognise and avoid scams,” he said.
Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Chair of the ACFT, Michael Schaper said the survey would increase knowledge of how scams worked and help with more effective warnings for consumers.
“The taskforce would like to know about any scams that you have received and how you have responded to them,” Mr Schaper said.
The survey can be found at this PS News link.
24 January, 2012
Indigenous move to
The Prime Minister’s Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has issued a report recommending the Australian Constitution be amended to formally recognise the culture, language and heritage of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people.
The Panel presented its unanimous report that also recommended removing racist elements from the Constitution and prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of race, colour or ethnic or national origin.
However, it recommended that Parliament retain the ability to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In preparing its report, Panel members held more than 250 consultations in 84 metropolitan, regional and remote locations across Australia, and received more than 3,500 submissions from individuals and organisations.
The Panel said these consultations and submissions revealed strong support across the country for constitutional recognition.
“Many people were concerned that while the contribution made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, art and cultures to Australia’s national identity was valued and celebrated, the nation’s founding document did not acknowledge the place of Indigenous people in Australian history or contemporary society,” the report said.
The Panel also found majority support for the removal of racist elements from the Constitution.
“Many Australians were surprised and troubled to learn that the Constitution permits discrimination on the basis of race,” it said.
“The consultations and submissions revealed a genuine desire to remove the racist elements from the Constitution to reflect modern Australian values and to protect all Australian citizens from discrimination on the basis of race.”
Panel members believed that the report’s recommendations, supported at a referendum, would create a Constitution that more accurately reflected the Australian nation.
The full report can be accessed at this PS News link.
24 January, 2012
Child protection is
A new report issued by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has confirmed the need for all levels of Government to continue working together to counter child abuse and neglect.
The Institute’s 15th annual report, Child Protection 2010-2011, found a 13 per cent fall in the number of children subject to notifications of possible child abuse or neglect during the period compared with the previous year.
The report also found the number of children on care and protection orders at 30 June 2011 rose by four per cent from the previous year and the number of children in out-of-home care rose by five per cent.
However, during the same period, the number of children in substantiated cases was stable, rising by less than one per cent.
Minister for Community Services, Julie Collins said it was heartening to see improvement in some areas of the child protection system but there was much more that needed to be done.
“The Government is working with State and Territory Governments and non-Government organisations in implementing the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, our long-term approach to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Australian children,” Ms Collins said.
“We have already made significant progress under the National Framework, including the National Standards for Out-of-Home Care which commenced on 1 July 2011.”
She said 13 national standards were developed with the States and Territories and these provided a national benchmark for the care of children who were no longer with their parents.
The report also highlighted the over representation of Indigenous children in all areas of the child protection system with Indigenous children 7.6 times more likely to be the subject of a child protection substantiation than non-Indigenous children.
“The Australian Government is also working with State and Territory Governments, as well as non-Government organisations, to address the high rates of family violence and child protection in Indigenous communities,” Ms Collins said.
The report can be accessed at this PS News link.
24 January, 2012
Football champions from the four main codes are appearing on postage stamps released for Australia Day.
Current players Gary Ablett Junior, Mark Schwarzer, Billy Slater and David Pocock are joined by legends of the past, Ron Barassi, Joe Marston, John Raper and David Campese on the issues which recognise Australian Rules, Soccer, Rugby League and Rugby Union.
Chief Executive and Managing Director of Australia Post, Ahmed Fahour, said the 2012 legends were chosen for their contribution to Australian sporting culture and for playing a vital role in shaping Australia as a great sporting nation.
“These eight football legends have inspired millions of Australians with their remarkable achievements both on and off the field,” Mr Fahour said
“The stamps will be a constant reminder of the history these players have created whether it be in Australian Rules, football, Rugby Union or Rugby League.”
He said to select the eight individual recipients of the 2012 Legends Award, Australia Post established expert judging panels for each of the four codes comprising a journalist, a broadcaster and a former champion player.
He said the Australia Post Australian Legends Award began 15 years ago when Sir Donald Bradman was the first living Australian to be honoured on an Australian stamp. Before that, the only living people honoured on the nation’s stamps were members of the Royal Family.
Australia Post is also celebrating the Chinese Year of the Dragon with the release of a Lunar New Year stamp issue featuring the mythical creature.
Melbourne-based designer, Dani Poon was commissioned to illustrate the 12 Chinese zodiac stamp releases, with the dragon being the fifth in the series.
Both sets of stamps are now available at Post Offices and online at this PS News link.
24 January, 2012
Safe work responds
Safe Work Australia is concerned at media reports containing “inaccurate and alarmist claims” regarding volunteers and the new Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.
to unsafe criticism
The organisation fears the reports could discourage volunteers and potential volunteers from undertaking work.
Chair of Safe Work Australia, Tom Phillips said the new WHS laws would not apply to every volunteering activity or organisation.
“They apply if a volunteer organisation employs staff as well as volunteers to carry out work for the organisation,” Mr Phillips said.
“This isn’t new this was the case even in the old State schemes and it makes sense.”
He said that in three jurisdictions, Queensland, the Northern Territory and the ACT, occupational health and safety legislation (OHS) already specifically applied to volunteers and this had not changed.
“In all the other jurisdictions, the protections afforded by OHS legislation also applied to volunteers at workplaces,” Mr Phillips said.
“The new WHS laws do not, for example, apply to the local junior football club run entirely by volunteers or to any community group which does not have any employees.
He said for those volunteer organisations and volunteers that were covered, there was an overall duty on volunteers to take care in the workplace.
“However, the duty to ensure a safe workplace remains the primary duty of the employer or ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ not the volunteer,” he said.
“Importantly, there is unlikely to be a prosecution of a volunteer except in the most serious and exceptional of circumstances.”
Chief Executive of Volunteering Australia, Cary Pedicini said his organisation supported the national harmonisation of OHS laws.
“The harmonisation will mean a higher level of protection for volunteers applied consistently no matter where they volunteer. That is a good thing for volunteers,” Mr Pedicini said.
24 January, 2012
Schools in disadvantaged areas of Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are to receive the services of some of Australia’s highest-achieving university graduates who have chosen a career in the teaching profession.
to shine in class
Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett congratulated 40 graduates on their decision to help disadvantaged Australian children get a good education.
Mr Garrett said the graduates had completed their initial training in the Teach for Australia program and would teach in some of the most disadvantaged communities over the next two years.
“Teach for Australia gives high-calibre graduates from disciplines such as science and mathematics the opportunity to start their career in education, by offering a combination of university study and employment-based teacher education,” Mr Garrett said.
He said the Teach for Australia graduates would be placed in schools in Victoria, the ACT, and for the first time, the Northern Territory, starting their two-year placements in classrooms on day one, of term one this year.
He also announced funding for a fourth intake of the Teach for Australia program, for placement of up to 50 new associates in schools during 2013 -2014.
“Through Teach for Australia we are giving some of Australia’s brightest and keenest graduates the chance to make a real difference in the lives of students who may be struggling because of their social circumstances,” Mr Garrett said.
He said that upon completion of the six-week intensive training program at the University of Melbourne, Teach for Australia graduates obtain a two-year supported placement in disadvantaged secondary schools, with a reduced teaching load, while at the same time completing their Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching.
20 January, 2012
APSC updates advice
The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has revised its guidance for APS employees making public comments and taking part in social networking.
on PS public comments
The revised guidelines clarify how the APS Values and Code of Conduct apply to three different scenarios in which a Public Servant may join in public commentary.
The three situations are: in an official capacity as part of a person’s employment in their agency; in a personal capacity as a private citizen; and in a ‘professional’ capacity, as a subject matter expert making public comment but not on behalf of their agency.
“APS employees have the same right to freedom of expression as other members of the community,” the APSC says in a Circular, “subject to legitimate public interests, such as the maintenance of an impartial and effective public service in which the community can have confidence.”
It says making public comment online is becoming increasingly common for APS employees and they are allowed to make public comment on blogs, social networking sites and online news sites.
But, the Circular says, “the same principles apply to online comment as to any other kind of public comment - as do the APS Values and Code of Conduct.
“However, there are some additional considerations that apply to online participation.”
The ASPC says it is important to remember that material appearing online effectively lasts forever and may be replicated, sent to unintended recipients and to others who may view it out of context.
“APS employees need to ensure that they fully understand the APS Values and Code of Conduct and how they apply to official and unofficial communications,” the Circular says.
“If in doubt, they should consider carefully whether to comment and what to say.
“APS employees must still uphold the APS Values and Code of Conduct even when material is posted anonymously, or using an ‘alias’ or pseudonym, and should bear in mind that even if they do not identify themselves online as an APS employee or an employee of their agency, they could nonetheless be recognised as such.”
It says as a rule of thumb, anyone who posts material online should make an assumption that at some point their identity and the nature of their employment will be revealed.
APSC Circular 2012/1: Revisions to the Commission’s guidance on making public comment and participating online can be accessed at this PS News link.
20 January, 2012
National Week to push
The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy is to convene Australia’s first National Telework Week later this year to promote the benefits and advantages of working from home.
working from home
Minister for the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said the opportunities presented by increased telework were exciting for both employers and employees.
“An increase in telework can lead to benefits across the economy and community, from big business through to individual workers and families as well as the environment,” Senator Conroy said.
“These benefits include cost-savings and productivity gains, increased workforce flexibility, expanded supply of skilled labour, reduced impact on the environment, reduced stress from traffic congestion and increased time available to spend with family and the community.”
He said for the next generation of employers and workers, IT connectivity would need to be seamless to allow work from any location, be it at home, in the office or at their local cafe.
“Australia currently lags well behind the leading nations for telework rates.”
He said the Digital Economy Strategy had set a goal to double Australia’s telework rate by 2020.
Senator Conroy identified cultural barriers as some of the factors contributing to poor telework rates and said it was important to address them through education and awareness of telework’s benefits.
He said initial partners in National Telework Week included the Australian Human Resources Institute, the Australian Industry Group (AIG), Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the Australian Network for Disability and the Local Government Managers Australia.
“Cisco, the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Unity4, Telstra, BlackBerry, Polycom, Infrastructure Australia and the Green Building Council of Australia have also agreed to become partners,” Senator Conroy said.
He said the National Telework Week would be held in November and more information was available from this PS News link.
20 January, 2012
Property register on
The new national register for personal property securities is to open for business on 30 January.
stream this month
Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon said the register would help Australian consumers and businesses ensure the property they had bought did not have a security interest over it.
She said stakeholders in the register, including the major banks, had confirmed they were ready to proceed.
“The new national register will let you check that the used goods you are buying, like a car, boat or machinery - almost anything except real estate - doesn’t have a security interest over it,” Ms Roxon said.
“Nobody wants to risk repossession.”
She said the register would also provide additional protection for businesses that leased or supplied goods, in the event that a debtor defaulted or went bankrupt.
“The national register will replace more than 70 different Commonwealth, State and Territory Acts and Registers used to regulate personal property used as security,” Ms Roxon said.
“The simplification of all these different registers will help make secured financing more accessible and reduce transaction costs, making lenders more willing to accept different kinds of personal property as security for loans.”
She said advice from her Department indicated that the migration of over 4.7 million records from existing registers was progressing well and most of those records had been transferred to the new register, with updates to follow.
“The existing registers transferring their data to the new register include the Australian Securities and investments Commission’s Register of Company Charges, the State Registers of Encumbered Vehicles and Vehicle Securities Registers, and various other Bills of Sale, stock mortgage and crop lien registers,” she said.
“Businesses and individuals that hold security interests will have up to two years to register their security.”
More information is available from this PS News link.
20 January, 2012
A new website has been launched to tackle cyberbullying and help more young people stay safe online.
a hit online
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the Easy Guide to Socialising Online website had been developed in partnership with industry and young people to help parents, children and educators combat cyberbullying and inappropriate content online.
“The Easy Guide website is part of the Government’s $125.8 million Cybersafety Plan and has been developed following advice from the Government’s Youth Advisory Group on Cybersafety,” Ms Gillard said.
“The new website provides cybersafety information for 26 social networking sites, search engines and online games, and gives step by step instructions on how to report cyberbullying, abuse and inappropriate content on these sites.”
She said it also provided clear information for parents, educators and young people on how to adjust safety and privacy settings on websites as well as tips on how to stay safe when using any social media site.
Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy said members of the Government’s Consultative Working Group on Cybersafety (CWG), including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, NineMSN, Yahoo!7 and the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association had worked closely with his Department to develop the website.
“Cyberbullying is a serious matter,” Senator Conroy said.
He said the Cybersafety Plan involved a number of important initiatives, including the Easy Guide, to combat online risks to children.
“The Cybersmart website this PS News link launched two years ago, has received well over a million visits and provides access to KidsHelpline for confidential online counselling,” he said.
“It also provides access to the Government’s Cybersafety Help Button which is a ‘one stop shop’ for practical information and tips on how to deal with cyberbullying, unwanted contact and offensive or illegal content.”
The new Easy Guide website is available at this PS News link.
20 January, 2012
Organ donors grind
New figures released by the Australia and New Zealand Organ Donation Registry (ANZOD) and the Organ and Tissue Authority show that Australia produced its highest ever number of organ donors in 2011.
out new record
Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King said the outcomes in 2011 showed that efforts to boost organ and tissue donation rates continued to have an impact.
“As well as the national DonateLife community awareness program, the reform agenda includes a clinical network of specialist organ and tissue donation staff in 77 hospitals,” Ms King said.
She said all were working to improve organ and tissue donation rates and outcomes, providing specialised family support services and raising awareness in their clinical communities.
Chair of the ANZOD, Professor Graeme Russ said a total of 337 Australians who lost their lives in 2011 had saved or improved the lives of 1,001 people in need of an organ transplant.
“This is the highest annual total of deceased organ donors and transplant recipients in Australia’s history,” Professor Russ said.
“Australia’s 2011 donation outcome of 337 donors translates to an increase of an additional 28 donors for the year, above the 2010 outcome of 309 donors.”
He said that was a 9 per cent increase.
“The 2011 total of 1,001 transplant recipients translates to an increase of an additional 70 recipients for the year, above the 2010 outcome of 931 recipients,” he said.
“This is an 8 per cent increase above the previous year.”
National Medical Director of the Organ and Tissue Authority, Dr Jonathan Gillis said 2011 marked the second full year of implementation of the national reform agenda to increase organ and tissue donation.
“The 2011 outcomes lift Australia’s donor per million population (dpmp) rate to 14.9, an increase of 4.7 dpmp since the commencement of the national reform agenda,” Dr Gillis said.
“The majority of States reported increases in 2011, with the most significant rises being in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.”
20 January, 2012
Mental health plan
A draft 10-Year Roadmap for National Mental Health Reform has been released for public consultation.
for public comment
Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler said the Roadmap would provide Governments, the community sector, workplaces and communities themselves with a measurable, long term national reform plan for mental health.
Mr Butler said it would help guide where attention and funding was focused over the next 10 years and ensure the nation’s mental health system ranked as one of the world’s best.
“While we’ve taken great strides in how we view and treat mental illness, more needs to be done to provide a system that provides all the levels of care people living with mental illness need, available in the right place and at the right time,” he said.
“We especially need to target our efforts at those who are hard-to-reach and vulnerable, and stop them from falling between the cracks and from being shunted from one service to another.”
He said more needed to be done to break down the stigma, discrimination and misunderstanding that surrounded mental illness.
“COAG agreed to develop the Roadmap in 2011 and the Australian Government, States and Territories have been working hard alongside mental health experts and consumer and carer representatives to develop this draft,” Mr Butler said.
“We want to get this Roadmap right and we want the community to be involved in the process which is why we are making it available for public comment.”
He said the public comments would be used to help finalise the roadmap for COAG to consider in early 2012 and an online survey tool would be available until 1 February 2012 on the mental health page of the Department of Health and Ageing website this PS News link.
20 January, 2012
Endeavour replica to
The Australian National Maritime Museum has announced that its replica sailing ship the HMB Endeavour is set to voyage to Lord Howe Island in May 2012 to follow in James Cook’s wake and observe the Transit of Venus,
follow Cook’s tracks
The museum is to hold a special ballot to select the 35 paying crew for the 13-day return trip.
Director of the Museum, Mary-Louise Williams said it was the first time a ballot for crewmembers had been held and the Endeavour Transit of Venus voyage would echo Cook’s first mission as Master of Endeavour more than 240 years ago.
“It really will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Ms Williams said, “
to view the transit of Venus from the replica of Cook’s ship.
“If you miss this voyage, your next opportunity won’t be for over a century with the next transit taking place in December 2117.”
She said a great deal of interest had already been shown in the voyage and because of that, the Museum felt the fairest way to select the crew was to hold a ballot.
“This voyage is held in partnership with Sydney Observatory and the Lord Howe Island Board and will depart Sydney on 31 May, returning on 12 June 2012,” she said.
“The ship will arrive at Lord Howe Island on 5 June in time to observe the transit of Venus on 6 June.”
Ms Williams said voyage fees were $4,000 for a voyage crew (hammock) berth and $8,000 for ‘supernumerary’ (cabin) berths.
“Voyage crew are expected to ‘learn the ropes’ and become part of the ship’s crew
sleeping in hammocks, climbing the rigging, setting sails and manning the helm,” she said.
“Three supernumerary berths with individual cabins, the scientists’ cabins on the original ship, are also available for those who prefer a little more comfort and less work on deck.”
She said the ballot would close on Friday 10 February 2012 and the 35 voyage berths would be drawn on Monday 20 February.
For more information or to enter the ballot, visit this PS News link.
20 January, 2012
Teachers sign up for
A national survey of teachers and school leaders has found that more than a third of participating government sector principals would like more authority to recruit teachers, determine their school staffing profile and dismiss staff.
Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett said the 2010 Staff in Australia’s Schools (SiAS) survey highlighted the importance of planned reforms in the education sector.
“Principals have been calling for more say over the important decisions in their schools for some time,” Mr Garrett said, “as they know the positive effect it has for their students.
“We know that it works.
“In Australia and overseas, we’ve seen that trusting principals and the school community to make decisions produces positive results.”
He said the Government recognised that having high quality, dedicated teachers was one of the most important factors in helping every child achieve their full potential at school.
Mr Garrett said the survey also found that the number of schools reporting unfilled teacher vacancies fell between the first SiAS survey in 2007 and the second in 2010, with most secondary school vacancies in the areas of Mathematics, English, Science and Languages other than English.
He said a much greater proportion of principals of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focused schools reported difficulties in filling vacancies and in retaining staff, as compared to principals overall.
“The Government is providing a new pathway into teaching in high-demand areas such as maths and science, through the Teach Next program, which will see professionals with specialist qualifications placed in hard-to-staff schools, often in regional areas,” he said.
“We will work closely with education authorities, teachers and school leaders in supporting an effective education workforce, ensuring all students receive a world class education.”
The SiAS survey report is available at
this PS News link.
20 January, 2012
Australia Day activities online
The National Australia Day Council has unveiled a new web guide with details of Australia Day celebrations in every State and Territory to help people find events being conducted near them.
The Council has listed events from all around the nation on the website which also operates as a smart phone web page.
The guide can be accessed at PS News Link.
New name for AQIS
The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is to change its name to DAFF Biosecurity over the coming months.
The change is part of a new strategy and identity for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry which is to refocus its efforts on addressing pest and disease risks offshore rather than acting as a border patrol.
Space junk targetted
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has announced that Australia is backing a proposal to minimise the amount of space junk circling the planet.
The plan, put forward by the European Union, calls for an international code of conduct for outer space activities.
All nations depend on space-based infrastructure for security, prosperity and lifestyle but the growing possibility of collisions with satellites and space vehicles put that at risk.
Forestry deal signed
The Federal and Tasmanian Governments have signed an intergovernmental agreement to support the State’s forest industry and protect native and ancient forests.
Signed by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings, the agreement will help the forest industry adapt to market changes while protecting the communities and families that rely on the sector to survive.
Under the agreement a total of $277 million will be provided to support the industry.
Parent leave scheme turns 1
More than 126,000 expectant and new parents have applied for payment in the first year of the Paid Parental Leave Scheme.
Paid Parental Leave provides up to 18 weeks Government-funded parental leave pay at the rate of the national minimum wage (currently about $590 a week before tax).
Of the parents who have applied, more than 65,000 have already finished receiving their parental leave pay, and another 56,000 are receiving the payment now, or are awaiting a birth or their payment start date.
2012 is Year of the Famer
The Year 2012 has officially been named as the Australian Year of the Farmer celebrating the work of 136,000 farms across the country.
The farms generate more than $405 billion in income each year.
The year will also provide opportunities for those involved in the agricultural industries to focus on the future and sustainability of farming in Australia.
Finance flips over charts
The Department of Finance and Deregulation has issued a flipchart showing all Agencies coming under the Financial Management and Accountability Act (FMA Act) and those under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act (CAC Act).
The flipchart can be accessed at this PS News link and may assist organisations operating under the Acts to understand their responsibilities.
Tourism signs up fans
Tourism Australia now has more than two million ‘fans’ on its Facebook pages.
The pages were launched in May 2008 and now have almost three times as many fans as the organisation’s nearest tourism rival, the American city of Las Vegas.
Of the fans, around 850,000 are based in Australia, with the rest overseas.
17 January, 2012
APSC launches job
The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has launched a new online register to match staff facing redundancy but don’t want it, with others who do.
The new inter-agency job exchanger register will allow the APSC to act as a clearing house for PS employees interested in job exchange opportunities.
Established as part of the Public Service Redeployment Register, The job exchange register aims to ensure the Australian Public Service retains employees with the skills needed for future work of Agencies while providing excess staff with opportunities for continued employment in the Public Service where possible.
Employees seeking to register their interest in job exchange opportunities will need to be supported by their Agency heads.
Agencies with excess or potentially excess employees will need to consider them for redeployment within the Agency before undertaking any external advertising.
They will then have to explore redeployment options for these employees within the wider Public Service, including the option of the employee placing their details on the Public Service-wide redeployment register.
Agencies with vacancies will be required to consider excess employees seeking redeployment opportunities from other Agencies before advertising a vacancy or drawing on an existing order of merit.
There will also be a facility for employees who are not offered voluntary redundancy by their own Agency to exchange jobs with a suitably skilled excess employee registered for redeployment.
Under the scheme, redeployment remains the joint responsibility of the Agency and the employee and excess employees need to actively pursue alternative employment opportunities to maximise their prospects.
The scheme also requires agencies expecting employee reductions to communicate and consult in a timely, accurate, clear and transparent fashion.
Agencies will also be required to develop a strong consultation process with affected employees and their representatives that is consistent with processes outlined in enterprise agreements.
Consultation should continue through every stage of the employee reduction process and the APSC is available to assist Agencies implement the redeployment policy.
17 January, 2012
Retirees hit out at
Retired former staff of the Australian Public Service have reacted angrily to rises in politicians’ and senior PS managers’ salaries while their calls for a fairer pension indexation system are repeatedly rejected.
‘rich’ PS payrises
Vice President of the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers’ Association (SCOA) and manager of its indexation campaign, John Coleman said retirees were “confused and angered” by the unfairness of their treatment while others received pay rises that were “a bit rich”.
Mr Coleman said the more than 300,000 senior Australians whose pensions were indexed by the CPI rather than a wage-based index had seen increase of just 70 per cent over 20 years.
“This compare to 140 per cent for Age Pensioners and rightly so and by an even greater percentage for retired Federal MPs,” Mr Coleman said.
“MP’s pensions, for those joining Parliament prior to 2004, are adjusted by movements in Parliamentary salaries and allowances.
“Where’s the fairness in that?”
He said that despite three separate Senate Inquiries all recommending a fairer wage-based index for the Government’s former employees and former members of the Defence Force, successive Governments had refused to provide the fairness they claimed was the foundation stone of their policies.
“The cost is tiny in budgetary terms and the Government has rightly acknowledged that 30 per cent of it will be clawed back via decreased Age Pension expenditure and a boost to income tax collections,” he said.
Mr Coleman said the Labor Party had created expectations of providing the fairness prior to the 2007 election but once elected had “betrayed” the many Commonwealth superannuants they had written to.
“All these senior Australians want is the national standard for indexing their pensions they are not seeking favoured or special treatment.” Mr Coleman said.
17 January, 2012
Unis link to fine tune
A new project to develop a high performance culture in the Australian Public Service has been set up jointly between the Australian Public Service Commission, the Australian National University and the University of Canberra,.
According to Associate Professor Janine O’Flynn from the ANU Crawford School the project will tackle some of the major findings of the Australian Public Service’s Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform report released in 2010 and assist in managing under-performance.
Professor O’Flynn will be one of a three-person team working to recommend changes to the APS staff performance model over the next three years.
“We know that a one-size-fits-all approach to performance management is not an effective model,” Professor O’Flynn said.
“This collaboration will use management diagnostics to determine organisational capabilities then develop a model to provide best-fit frameworks.”
She said it was not about designing new forms to be filled out.
“What we need to do is work together with the Australian Public Service to discover what works, where, and when,” she said.
“This will help to drive a high performance culture in the Australian Public Service, and enable public sector organisations to deliver on the goals of Government.”
Professor O’Flynn said the collaborative research partnership presented an opportunity for cross-Government and university engagement.
She said the the project team had been specially designed to ensure that the project recommendations were evidence based, reflected best practice, had been tested within the APS and informed practical guidance material to strengthen the performance framework.
More information can be obtained from the ANU Crawford School.
17 January, 2012
New data warehouse
A single data warehousing solution, bringing together a range of aviation-related information, reporting and analysis, has been introduced by Airservices Australia.
online at Airservices
The air navigation service provider has been working with IBM to construct the Airservices Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW).
According to Airservices, the new solution brings together information from previously separate operational systems covering 85 data sources.
Manager of Business Systems Integration at Airservices, Steve Caldicott, said the solution had been introduced to better synthesise and analyse a range of operational data.
“In so doing we provide a better service to our customers through greater operational efficiencies,” Mr Caldicott said.
“We collect a wide range of data relating to flights, traffic patterns, aircraft and airport operations, airspace use, safety performance, and internal information including workforce availability.”
He said bringing the information together into a data warehouse meant the organisation was better placed to work with the aviation industry to deliver world best performance.
“The data collected by Airservices will be critical to the aviation industry as it looks to increase efficiency to deal with projected strong growth in air traffic over the next decade.”
He said the organisation was already working with the industry on a number of airport capacity enhancement and collaborative decision-making projects for which accurate and timely data was critical.
Mr Caldicott said moving from disparate data sources to a single information management model would allow Airservices to capture, access and share information with industry more quickly and efficiently.
“Internal reporting is now faster, with information drawn from a single data source.
“We have also removed duplication and can ensure consistency of information provided across the organisation,” he said.
17 January, 2012
All new laws to get
All new laws coming before Parliament from 2012 on are to be checked to see if they stack up against Australia’s human rights obligations.
human rights checks
According to Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, the aim of the process will be to ensure the key principles of freedom, respect, equality, dignity and a fair go for all Australians are considered in everything the Commonwealth Parliament does.
Ms Roxon said that the measure was long overdue.
“Australia has a proud human rights record that will be further strengthened by enshrining the consideration of human rights in the development of our nation’s laws,” Ms Roxon said.
“This important step is part of Australia’s Human Rights Framework and will give the community confidence that their human rights are being recognised and respected.”
She said Australia’s Human Rights Framework was developed following national Human Rights consultation and was a comprehensive package of measures to strengthen understanding and respect for human rights including consolidating Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation and releasing a new National Human Rights Action Plan.
Ms Roxon said the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 was now in effect and required all new Bills and disallowable legislative instruments to be accompanied by a statement of compatibility with human rights.
“Statements will assess compatibility against the seven main United Nations human rights treaties to which Australia is a party,” she said.
Ms Roxon said the Act also established a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, the first Commonwealth Parliamentary Committee dedicated solely to human rights scrutiny.
17 January, 2012
Regulators fire up for
Two new Agencies regulating the safety and management of offshore petroleum have commenced their work.
The creation of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) and the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) on 1 January followed recommendations by the Productivity Commission and the Montara Inquiry.
NOPSEMA is an expansion of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSA) and regulates safety, environmental management and day-to-day operations of petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities.
NOPTA will make recommendations on offshore titles and administer them.
Both are based in Perth with offices in Melbourne.
Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, said the two bodies would have wide-ranging responsibilities to ensure Australia’s offshore petroleum industry was among the world’s best and safest and would reinforce Perth as the major oil and gas centre for South East Asia.
“The Montara Commission of Inquiry and the Productivity Commission reports pointed to the need for one, coordinated national body to have responsibility for regulating offshore activities so that preventable risks to the safety of workers and the environment can be mitigated in the future,” Mr Ferguson said.
“The creation of NOPSEMA means a more streamlined approach to ensuring the safety of people and the environment offshore.”
Mr Ferguson said the Productivity Commission had predicted that more consistent and efficient regulation could potentially bring billions of dollars of benefits to the Australian economy.
“At the same time NOPSEMA and NOPTA will give the community greater confidence in an industry that does so much for Australian jobs, exports and prosperity,” he said.
The existing NOPSA Board becomes the new NOPSEMA Board.
17 January, 2012
Farm export reforms
A $30 million a year plan to reduce red tape for agricultural export industries has been introduced under changes proposed for the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).
to cut red tape
The changes to export certification services are expected to result in better and more flexible arrangements for exporters.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig said improvements in the meat inspection program had already introduced flexibility and efficiency.
“Changes to the meat program will reduce the regulatory cost of export certification by $27 million per annum and are being supported by $25.8 million in transitional assistance,” Senator Ludwig said.
“On 1 January new arrangements commenced for exports of grain, fish and egg products.”
He said the Government would provide $1.5 million to support efficiencies in the fish and eggs program and $2.5 million to support the changes to the grain export program.
Senator Ludwig said the changes were developed in close partnership with export groups to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements.
“None of the reforms that have been agreed and implemented could be delivered without an effective working partnership with exporters,” he said.
“Australia’s agriculture industries support 300,000 jobs in regional communities.”
He said he hoped for Parliamentary support for the reforms, including the underpinning Regulations.
“Export reforms will improve confidence in Australia’s export certification systems and improve the competitiveness of Australia’s $32 billion agricultural export industries,”
the Minister said.
17 January, 2012
Treasury review to
A strategic review of the Treasury has recommended sweeping changes to the Department’s training, communication, policy development, project management, decision making and other processes as well as greater use of social networking and IT tools.
lead to changes
Conducted internally under the guidance of the Executive Director of Policy Coordination and Governance, Barry Sterland, the review made 13 recommendations for improving relations with Ministers and stakeholders, enhancing engagement skills, improving innovation and the use of information technology as well as allocating resources and managing priorities.
Mr Sterland said the purpose of the Strategic Review was to consider how Treasury could continue to deliver on its mission over the short to medium term.
He said a dual approach was used by the Review to assess Treasury’s strategic capability requirements - scanning the external environment that Treasury would face in the future, as well as considering its existing performance.
“Treasury can expect that it will continue to provide advice across a broad range of policy issues,” the Review’s report said.
“Responding to policy challenges on diverse social and sustainability policy issues will continue to be challenging, particularly in the context of fiscal constraints.”
It said stakeholders generally considered that Treasury was a leader in applying rigorous economic and analytic frameworks to a variety of public and policy issues.
“Treasury leadership needs to give increased attention to reinforcing the Department’s policy and analytical frameworks and building common understanding of key economic challenges.
“The Treasury seminar series will enhance all-staff and cross-group discussion of major policy challenges.”
The report said it was important to develop a comprehensive Workforce Planning Framework as well as create senior contact points to improve responsiveness.
It said that at a more practical level, the maintenance of the dedicated speechwriting capability and enhanced training for staff in written communication of policy would ensure Treasury was more effective at conveying policy decisions and analysis.
“This involves being more proactive in identifying and responding to emerging issues, ensuring sufficient expertise in areas considered high priority by Ministers.”
It said Treasury could benefit from enhancing its project management capabilities, while the establishment of a project planning ‘centre of expertise’ would assist staff with high impact policy implementation projects.
The report said that consultations revealed that Treasury needed to have a greater understanding of stakeholders outside Government, in particular how business operated and made decisions.
“So a key outcome of the Review will be an enhanced program of engagement with business and other stakeholders,” it said.
“Another strong message from the consultations was that at times a perception of arrogance in our behaviour can limit our external effectiveness.”
It said greater use of new information technology, social media and communication techniques had the potential to improve the organisation’s productivity and effectiveness.
“Treasury needs to better manage priorities and allocate resources flexibly - current mechanisms for Executive Board communication with staff are not effective,” the Review found.
Among changes resulting from the Review, the Corporate Services Group is to be renamed Corporate Strategies and Services Group and linked with the Human Resources Division to create a new People and Organisational Strategy Division within the Group.
The report of the review team can be accessed at this PS News link.
17 January, 2012
Hotline set up for
A new hotline for women concerned about breast implants has been set up following concerns from France over ruptures in the Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) models.
Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Catherine King said women who had breast implants and were concerned could ring the Breast Implant Information Line on 1800 217 257 or contact their surgeon directly for clinical advice.
Ms King said women who required further follow up, clinical and radiological investigations would be covered under the usual Medicare arrangements.
Acting Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon said Australian women could be reassured by experts who had advised that on the basis of current data available there was no evidence of increased rupture rates for PIP implants in Australia.
“The Breast Implant Information Line will operate 24 hours a day to provide advice and support,” Ms Roxon said.
“This Government service will also register women’s contact details so follow up information can be provided if necessary.
Ms King said the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) had received only 37 reports of ruptured PIP implants since 2000, representing 0.4 per cent of PIP implants.
She said this was well within the international evidence of implant rupture rates.
“These figures remain within the expected risk of rupture, but given concerns in Europe regarding this product, we recommend that women see their surgeons if they are concerned or require further advice,” Ms King said.
17 January, 2012
Arts Council review
An independent review of the Australia Council for the Arts has been announced.
in the frame
Minister for the Arts, Simon Crean said the Australia Council had a proud record of helping local artists develop their talent and connect with national and international audiences but a new National Cultural Policy would set the framework for Government support for the arts, culture and the creative industries for the next decade.
“In line with the broader conversation about Australia’s future cultural policy, we have an opportunity to look closely at what aspects of the current model can be improved,” Mr Crean said.
He said there had been a huge response from artists, audiences and community groups to the discussion paper on the National Cultural Policy.
“As part of this work, we must have responsive, timely and expert Agencies to deliver support to artists and arts organisations as they respond to new audiences and opportunities, including those opening up with emerging art forms and technologies,” he said.
Mr Crean said Angus James and Gabrielle Trainor would review the Australia Council for the Arts and its links with other arts support organisations and Agencies.
He said Mr James was a principal partner of Aquasia, an independent corporate advisory partnership which he founded in late 2009 and Ms Trainor was a company director and former lawyer, journalist and public sector executive.
She was a founding partner in John Connolly and Partners, a firm which advises large listed companies on the management of difficult issues.
Mr Crean said the Government was strongly committed to the independent peer assessment process to assess and award grants to artists.
“Through the broader consultation on the National Cultural Policy, stakeholders also told us there were areas of arts support delivery that needed to change to deal with a vastly changed cultural landscape and an increasing convergence of art forms,” he said.
“This is the first major review of the work of the Council and other Agencies since the 1980s.”
17 January, 2012
The National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program is proving popular according to the Minister for Education who said thousands of schools had applied for funding.
popular with schools
The Minister, Peter Garrett, said that under changes to the program announced in 2011, school communities could choose a chaplain or student welfare worker, and new services were being offered to up to 1,000 additional schools.
Mr Garrett said that from September 2011, schools with existing chaplains were able to apply to continue their chaplaincy or welfare services.
“It’s clear that chaplains and student welfare workers are a great asset to schools and provide positive support for students, with the Government receiving 2,512 applications for the continuation of services,” Mr Garrett said.
“Applications for the continuation of services are currently being processed and schools will be advised of the outcome in the coming months.”
He said that of the 2,512 applications received, 89 per cent of schools had chosen to remain with a chaplain, eight per cent had chosen to employ a student welfare worker, and three per cent were yet to decide.
“Schools that do not currently have a chaplain have until 2 March to apply for one of the additional 1,000 new places,” Mr Garrett said.
He said the schools could receive up to $60,000 over three years to offer chaplaincy or student welfare services to their school communities.
Schools in remote and very remote locations would be eligible for an additional 20 per cent loading, taking the maximum to $72,000 over three years.
17 January, 2012
The report by an independent expert panel on the recognition of Local Government in the Australian Constitution has been released by the Minister for Local Government, Simon Crean.
A referendum on the issue is expected to coincide with the next Federal election.
Mr Crean said the panel was chaired by former Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court, James Spigelman and was asked to identify options for the constitutional recognition of Local Government and report on the level of support for constitutional recognition in the community.
He said a majority of the panel members found that financial recognition was the only option with a reasonable chance to succeed at a referendum, provided steps were taken to secure the support of the States and achieve broader public awareness and engagement.
Mr Crean said it was vital to protect the Commonwealth Government’s ability to directly fund Local Government.
“Our experience with programs like Roads to Recovery and the recent stimulus package demonstrate the importance, the appropriateness and the advantages of being able to provide funding directly to Local Government,” Mr Crean said.
“Local Government was in a unique position to provide shovel ready projects and the ability to directly fund those projects was important to the success of the stimulus and the roads program in delivering jobs and much needed infrastructure.”
He said the ability of the Commonwealth to directly fund Local Government could create a relationship that supported, facilitated and drove collaboration among all three levels of government.
“It can also leverage additional investment in the regions which is good for local communities and for the country,” he said.
Mr Crean said the issue also had the support of the Federal Opposition.
“The Government will now take time to consider the community’s views and details of the report before providing comment in early 2012,” he said.
The Panel’s report can be accessed at this PS News link.
17 January, 2012
DIAC does deal for
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has established a labour agreement with Santa Claus that will allow his workforce of highly skilled elves to enter the country, establish operations and train Australian elves.
A spokesman for DIAC said Santa had approached the Department last December to find out the best way of getting his elves to join him at Christmas in Australia to help with his duties.
“Elves are not on the list of approved occupations for the subclass 457 visa, permanent employer nomination scheme or regional sponsored migration scheme but Mr Claus was able to establish there was a genuine shortage of qualified elves here,” the spokesman said.
“As a result, he negotiated a labour agreement which has been specifically tailored to allow this special group of workers into the country.”
The spokesman said Santa was delighted that there was a chance to enter into a flexible arrangement to suit his labour needs where it was obvious a shortage existed in what is a very specific skill set.
He said a record number of labour agreements had been entered into in 2011 with employers appreciating the flexibility they offered, including the fact a specific number of workers could enter the country on a temporary or permanent basis to meet demonstrated skills shortages.
“Key stakeholders must be consulted (and) in Santa’s case this included the Australian Elves’ Union,” the spokesman said.
“Santa was also able to ensure his overseas recruitment of elves did not affect long-term improvement of employment opportunities for Australians, which is a key element of any labour agreement.”
“He must, like all employers who are party to a labour agreement, contribute to the training of Australians and pay market salary rates.”
17 January, 2012
Consumers win from
Consumers now have additional protections under Australian Consumer Law (ACL) in the areas of unconscionable conduct and unsolicited selling.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury said the changes which came into effect on 1 January clarified the scope of the prohibition on unconscionable conduct and would make it easier for consumers, businesses and the courts to understand and apply the unconscionable conduct provisions of the law.
He said transitional provisions relating to unsolicited consumer agreements had also ended and all Australian consumers were now entitled to a 10-day cooling off period.
“Where the value of goods that are the subject of an unsolicited consumer agreement is less than $500, the supply of the goods will be permitted,” Mr Bradbury said, “however, payment for unsolicited sales will continue to be prohibited during the 10-day cooling off period.
“If a consumer invokes their right to terminate the unsolicited agreement during the cooling off period where the goods under $500 have been supplied, the supplier will be obliged to collect the goods within 30 days or the goods become the consumer’s property.”
He said the New Year also marked the first anniversary of the harmonisation of Australia’s consumer protection laws into the ACL.
“The first year of the ACL has been a great success,” Mr Bradbury said.
“Replacing 20 laws with one national law has improved consumer protection and reduced business compliance costs.”
17 January, 2012
Teenage parents get
Ten Australian communities are taking part in a new program aimed at helping teenage parents complete their education and ensuring their children are ready for school.
The Helping Teenage Parents is aimed at disadvantaged communities and will support the young parents in working towards a Year 12 or equivalent qualification.
According to the Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin , the initiative was also focused on activities designed to achieve good early health and education outcomes for the children of teenage parents.
Ms Macklin said the program would provide access to quality child care while parents were studying or training, with close to 100 per cent of their child care costs covered.
She said Centrelink and other service providers would also provide individualised case management, helping the parents to enrol and attend school, TAFE or other training.
Training places would also be guaranteed through a national partnership with States and Territories.
Ms Macklin said teenage parents living in the trial communities who were receiving Parenting Payment, would be required to attend interviews every six months with Centrelink until they completed Year 12 or an equivalent qualification, or until their youngest child turned six.
“Parents will work with Centrelink to develop a participation plan that includes activities designed to support them in their parenting role and in gaining a good education,” Ms Macklin said.
She said close to 1,000 young parents had started receiving letters explaining the Helping Teenage Parents measure.
Minister for Human Services, Brendan O’Connor said young parents could be reassured that the new measure was aimed at developing a tailor-made strategy to help them finish their schooling while raising their children.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten said some young parents might choose to go back to school, but others might choose to do a certificate through an organisation like TAFE.
He said the young parents could choose to study online, by distance or face-to-face.
17 January, 2012
Watchdog warns on
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch service has warned people to be wary of a scam website pretending to be from the official Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
climate change scam
Scamwatch advised people affected by the scam to check the web address given to respond, saying the official Government site was www.climatechange.gov.au while the copied site, although it appeared identical, had a different web address: www.fsasshoes.co.cc.
“Most Australian Government websites use the ‘.gov.au’ extension never .org, .net or .com,” Scamwatch said
“If you know what the correct internet address should be, check that the address of the site you are viewing matches it and ensure it hasn’t changed from what you entered or expected.”
Scamwatch said the Australian Government website www.australia.gov.au was a safe portal for finding Government services. “
“Be wary of misused trust marks, logos, seals of approval they may just be copies and not the real thing,” it said.
“Never enter your personal, credit card or banking details on a website unless you have checked it is authentic - scammers can use your details to commit identity fraud or steal your money.”
It urged consumers to keep their computer programs updated by installing antivirus, antispyware and firewall software regularly.
“If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately,” Scamwatch said.