WorkCover Queensland has launched its first information micro website for the state’s employers. The first micro-site, construction, contains dedicated news, events and information for employers in the construction industry.
The Department will continue to rollout a number of new micro-sites that will cater to a variety of industries, with sites to launch in the coming months for manufacturing, mining and transport.
The construction micro-site can be found here.
A visiting academic at the UNSW Water Research Lab, Dr Denis O’Carroll, believes that iron nanoparticles encapsulated in a rust-preventing polymer coating could hold significant potential for cleaning up groundwater contaminated with toxic chemicals.
Hundreds of sites around Sydney where soils have been contaminated from past industrial waste, landfills and gas leaks are known to exist, including the former HMAS Platypus submarine base in Neutral Bay and the Orica site in Botany Bay.
“Toxic contamination of soils is an historical problem,” Dr O’Carroll said. “Until the 1970s, people wrongly believed that if we put these toxins into the ground they would simply disappear – that the subsurface would act as a natural filtration unit.”
“The possibility of this waste polluting the environment, and potentially contaminating groundwater sources and remaining there for decades was ignored,” he says.
Far from magically disappearing, chemical contaminants from spilled gas and solvents, when not directly polluting surface waters, seep down into the earth, travelling through microscopic soil cracks, where they accumulate and can eventually reach the groundwater table.
Traditional clean-up methods have focussed on pumping out the contaminated water or flushing out toxins with a specially designed cleansing solution, but these are limited by difficulties in accurately pinpointing and accessing locations where contamination has occurred, says O’Carroll.
His approach is to tackle toxic contaminants with nanotechnology. O’Carroll, who is visiting UNSW from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, has been trialling an innovative new groundwater clean-up technology using metal nanoparticles 500 to 5,000 times narrower than a human hair.
The iron particles are injected directly into contaminated soil where they flow to the contaminants and initiate a redox reaction, whereby electrons are transferred between the particle and the pollutant. This reaction changes the oxidation state of the pollutant and diminishes its overall toxicity to safer levels, says O’Carroll.
“The tiny scale of these nanoparticles allows them to move through microscopic flow channels in soil and rock to reach and destroy pollutants that larger particles cannot. In addition, iron nanoparticles are particularly safe for use in the environment as they are not very mobile and dissolve quickly.
“This, in fact, is somewhat of a detriment as it limits the nanoparticles’ ability to seek out and degrade toxins. “
To optimise the nanoparticles, O’Carroll is experimenting with different formations of iron, and encapsulating the particles in a rust-preventing polymer, which slows the dissolution process and increases their mobility, without any adverse environmental impacts.
Two contaminated sites in Ontario have been used for field trials of the novel technology and significant degradation of the contaminants at both sites has been observed.
Dr O’Carroll’s research has been featured on David Suzuki's The Nature of Things.
Comcare has announced the finalists for the 2012 Comcare Work Health and Safety Award, with the winners to be announced at a gala dinner in Sydney on September 20.
The awards recognise and reward excellence in workplace health and safety, rehabilitation and return to work achieved by individuals and organisations covered by the Comcare scheme.
The finalists in each of the eight award categories are:
Category 1: Best Workplace Health and Wellbeing Program
- BIS Industries for Fairbridge Bindjareb Project
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for The ACCC’s Health and Wellbeing Program
Category 2: Leadership Award for Injury or Disease Prevention and Management
- There are no finalists in this award category.
Category 3: Best Workplace Health and Safety Management System
- Royal Australian Mint for Converting a culture
Category 4: Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue
- Department of Defence for Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) STUART Personnel – Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat Radiation Hazard Prevention & Management
- Bureau of Meteorology forHydrogen Hazard Management
- BIS Industries forRelocatable vehicle maintenance pit, “Drop in pit”
- Royal Australian Mint for A Sticky Situation
Category 5: Best Individual Contribution to Health and Safety
Sub-category a) A worker
- Able Seaman Electronics Technician Lisa Pickstone, Department of Defence
Sub-category b) A worker with responsibility for WHS as part of their duties.
- Daphne Paris, The Australian Film, Television and Radio School
- Captain Shane Sarlin, Department of Defence
- Dr Angelica Vecchio-Sadus, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
- John Britto, Visionstream
- Tim Naim, Australian air Express
- Megan Evans, Department of Human Services
Category 6: Health and Safety Representative of the Year
- David Byrne, Department of Health and Ageing
- Jo Coleman, Department of Human Services
- Jerimiah Karati, Thiess John Holland
Category 7: Rehabilitation and Return to Work Award
Sub-category a) An organisation
- Department of Defence for 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Casualty Management
- Department of Defence for Transient Personnel Management Cell
- TNT Express Australia forBuilding upon Best Practice in Early Intervention
Sub-category b) An individual
- Debra Kelly, Department of Human Services
Category 8: Claims Manager of the Year
- Dean Stone, National Australia Bank
- Natalie Heffernan, Comcare
A $54.3 million agreement has been signed between Geoscience Australia, the NSW Minister for Resources and Energy, Chris Hartcher, and the Australian Coal Association to assess potential geological storage opportunities for greenhouse gases in NSW.
Announcing the agreement, Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson said the NSW Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Storage Assessment Program had been made possible by the National Low Emissions Coal Initiative (NLECI) that was established in 2008 to accelerate the development and deployment of technologies to reduce emissions from coal use.
“Each partner has contributed $18.1 million to the NSW program. The funding allows NSW to conduct a pre-competitive data acquisition program to assess suitable sites for CO2. It will enable industry to start making decisions about how and where they will undertake this innovative storage process.
“As the nation’s repository for geological knowledge and capability, Geoscience Australia will be providing technical expertise and oversight into this program.”
The NLECI funding program opens the way for research, demonstration and deployment of low-emission coal technologies involving carbon capture and storage.
Of the $370 million set aside for the NLECI, $50m comes from the National Carbon Mapping and Infrastructure Plan, under which the NSW Program is being carried out.
“This program builds on the outputs of the Carbon Storage Taskforce Report which in 2009 said that four basins in NSW had been defined as suitable storage sites. It is about collecting more and better data in conjunction with the states, with shared funding to conduct a more robust and accurate assessment of the storage potential of these geological basins in NSW,” Minister Ferguson said.
The NLECI is designed to enable Australia’s resource sector to reduce their emissions as the nation moves to a more carbon constrained economy. It is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to promote clean energy and goes towards meeting Australia’s international targets for emission reduction. These technologies will enable the coal industry to make a major contribution to reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent of 2000 levels by 2050.
The NSW CO2 Storage Assessment Program is expected to produce significant additional scientific knowledge of the NSW Basins and will contribute to a national assessment of the geological CO2 storage potential.
A poll conducted by the Lowy Institute has found that the majority of Australians, 62 per cent, support the move to grant 1,715 skilled migrant visas to the Roy Hill iron ore project. However, the vast majority, 81 per cent, is against direct foreign investment.
The poll also shows that people are particularly wary of Chinese investment, with 56 per cent of respondents saying they believe the Federal Government is allowing too much direct investment from our largest trading partner.
“These results reflect a general anxiety among Australians about the volatility of the global economy, and about the exposure of Australia’s economy to global forces,” said Executive Director Michael Wesley.
“We’re aware that much of the rest of the world looks at Australia as a land of comparative wealth, and we’re apprehensive about the possible downsides of that,” he added.
The poll found that 70 per cent of Australian’s credit the mining boom as the main reason why the economy has staved off recession, while only 41 per cent of respondents said they believed Government policy had anything to do with economy keeping stable.
Griffith University has announced its medical researchers are ‘on the brink’ of an effective treatment for the deadly Hendra virus and its closely related Nipah virus.
Griffith University Associate Professor Nigel McMillan said that the recent funding awarded from the Federal Government would allow for significant progress to be made in combating the virus.
The Griffith University research team, in collaboration with CSIRO, is developing a new therapy that attacks the virus by turning off a vital gene. Team leader, Associate Professor McMillan said the beauty of the treatment is that it is very simple.
“We have already been able to reduce Hendra virus in cells by 99.99% within a laboratory, and we have found the treatment is highly effective in very low doses,” Associate Professor McMillan said.
“We have also developed a novel way of delivering the therapy through what we call “stealth liposomes”, which will safely take the treatment to where it needs to go in the body.”
The NSW Government has committed an additional $70 million over the next four years to medical research and development in response to the NSW Health and Medical Research Strategic Review 2012 released by NSW Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research, Jillian Skinner.
The Health and Medical Research Strategic Taskforce, chaired by Mr Peter Wills, developed two strategies and associated recommendations aimed at fostering translation and innovation from research and building globally relevant research capacity.
The State Government announced its 'enthusiastic endorsement' of the Wills recommendations, and outlined a 10-year Health and Medical Research Strategic Plan for NSW to implement them.
The government’s response included the following initiatives:
- Changes to the Medical Research Support Program (MRSP) to drive collaboration and promote scale and sustainability: Providing an extra $5 million to the base funding, in addition to the $5 million provided in 2011-12, to bring the total commitment to $37.3 million per year. This program provides infrastructure funding to independent medical research institutes, based on merit and research excellence. It will have a 4 year funding cycle and tiered funding structure.
- Establishment of the Medical Devices Seeding Fund with $5 million per annum, to support researchers and encourage further investment in new medical devices that can contribute to the discovery and application of new treatments and diagnostic techniques to improve patient outcomes.
- $1 million to establish the Research Capacity Building Programto retain and attract new leading researchers to NSW.
- Support for Research Hubs of $800,000 annually to provide administrative support and assist incoordination of hub activities to enhance collaboration and facilitate the efficient sharing of expensive equipment, accommodation and support services.
- Establishment of Office for Health and Medical Research, to be responsible for implementing NSW Health and Medical Research Strategic Review and ensuring a high level of engagement with all parts of the health and medical research sector. The Office will develop a biobanking framework that will improve and enhance investment in this research infrastructure, will be provided with $800,000 to support clinical research networks and will establish a clinical trials support team.
For more information visit the NSW Health and Medical Research Strategic Review 2012 and the NSW Government Response to the Review.
The New South Wales Chamber of Commerce has warned the state’s employers that they run the risk of footing a bill of up to $482 million this flu season if they don’t review their health and hygiene policies.
The Business Chamber has estimated the likely cost of the flu season on the state’s economy based on one in ten employees falling ill and requiring a week of recuperation.
The last thing NSW businesses need is a $482 million flu bill, so now is the time to be checking hygiene policies and reminding employees that flu season is upon us,” said Stephen Cartwright, CEO of the NSWBusiness Chamber.
”We conservatively estimate the average cost of an employee off sick with the flu to be about $1,300 – that doesn’t factor in the cost of temp staff.”
Mr Cartwright said that employers and employees need to be vigilant and take preventive steps to reduce the chances of workplace infections.
“My advice to employees is don’t risk it – if you think you are coming down with the flu see a doctor. Each person infected with the flu costs an employer over $1,300 for every week they are off work.
The Chamber has offered the following suggestions:
- Ensuring somebody within the company is responsible for keeping up to date with the latest influenza developments and information;
- Communicating relevant information to employees, but without causing undue alarm;
- Emphasising the importance of hygiene, such as regular and thorough hand washing;
- Employers and employees agreeing on appropriate leave arrangements when they have flu symptoms.
The House Standing Committee on Education and Employment is calling for submissions as it ratchets up its inquiry into workplace bullying.
The Committee has asked individuals and organisations to for submissions regarding the inquiry’s terms of reference:
- ‘the prevalence of workplace bullying in Australia and the experience of victims of workplace bullying;
- the role of workplace cultures in preventing and responding to bullying and the capacity for workplace-based policies and procedures to influence the incidence and seriousness of workplace bullying;
- the adequacy of existing education and support services to prevent and respond to workplace bullying and whether there are further opportunities to raise awareness of workplace bullying such as community forums;
- whether the scope to improve coordination between governments, regulators, health service providers and other stakeholders to address and prevent workplace bullying;
- whether there are regulatory, administrative or cross-jurisdictional and international legal and policy gaps that should be addressed in the interests of enhancing protection against and providing an early response to workplace bullying, including through appropriate complaint mechanisms;
- whether the existing regulatory frameworks provide a sufficient deterrent against workplace bullying;
- the most appropriate ways of ensuring bullying culture or behaviours are not transferred from one workplace to another; and
- possible improvements to the national evidence base on workplace bullying.’
The Committee ha announced it is collating evidence of bullying from all sources.
“Bullying has serious consequences for individuals and the wider community. Every Australian has a right to feel safe and respected at work. The Prime Minister and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations recognise the importance of tackling this issue in referring this inquiry to the Committee,” Committee Chair Amanda Rishworth said.
International recruitment specialist has warned that the Australian workforce can expect a moderate salary increase this financial year in the face of an increasingly difficult marketplace.
Hays Managing Director in Australia and New Zealand warned that that there is no swift dramatic upswing in global economic conditions, and therefore people should prepare for stagnate salary growth.
“Current conditions are here to stay for some time, so the sooner we can adapt business practices to meet the requirements of this – the ‘new normal’ – rather than waiting for a dramatic reversal to the global market to set us on a more secure road, the more effective we’ll all be,” Mr Deligiannis said.
“That’s why forward-thinking employers and candidates are going ahead with their hiring or career plans. It’s also why employers are increasing salaries, albeit moderately.”
The two major findings in the report were:
- 46 per cent of employers increased salaries last year between three and six per cent;
- 42 per cent of employers intend to increase salaries between three and six per cent when they next review;
The 2012 Hays Salary Guide reveals salary and recruiting trends for well over one thousand roles across 14 locations in Australia and New Zealand, and was based on a survey of over 1,500 employers as well as placements made by Hays.
The guide can be found here
Global research and advisory specialist Gartner has warned that expectations placed on logistics companies are increasing, despite such organisations being viewed as nonstrategic.
Gartner has published four predictions in the lead up to its Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference next month. The four predictions cover environmental issues, risk and compliance, international flow optimization and supply chain executive convergeance.
“While logistics operations might be out of sight, out of mind, logistics is under significant pressure to deliver near-perfect performance, while business conditions continue to become more complex, risky and difficult,” said C. Dwight Klappich, research vice president at Gartner.
Gartners four top predictions are
- By 2016, more than 50 percent of Global 1000 logistics organizations will be required to systematically report verified emissions and environmental data
- By 2016, less than 10 percent of logistics organizations will have a chief compliance and risk management officer
- By 2016, 20 percent of SCM organizations will adopt a supply chain execution convergence application strategy
- By 2016, slower global trade growth will force shippers to adjust from proliferation to optimization of international flows
The Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2012 in Sydney will be held July 23-24. More information is available at http://www.gartner.com/technology/summits/apac/supply-chain/
The New South Wales Government has announced it has awarded the contract for the design and construction of Sydney’s Inner West Light Rail Extension to John Holland. The company will be responsible for the detailed design and construction of the main infrastructure elements of the light rail project.
This contract includes the delivery of nine new light rail stations, the power and signalling systems and bridge works, which form part of the $176 million Inner West Light Rail extension.
State Minister for Transport Gladys said there will be workers on the tracks as early as next month as they begin to establish worksites and start on preparatory works such as geotechnical investigations.
Concurrently with these early works, John Holland will immediately get started on their detailed design work for the stops and other light rail infrastructure.
Ms Berejiklian said the local community will see the results of the design work later this year during a consultation period.
“In the next phase of consultation, we will seek feedback from the community on the detailed design of the stations and the streetscape elements surrounding each stop to ensure the project benefits from local knowledge,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Catholic Health Australia has released a study which has found that up to 500,000 people could avoid chronic illness, $2.3 billion in annual hospital costs could be saved and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prescriptions cut by 5.3 million if a better understanding of the determinants of health issues was to be found.
The main findings in the report are:
- 500,000 Australians could avoid suffering a chronic illness;
- 170,000 extra Australians could enter the workforce, generating $8 billion in extra earnings;
- Annual savings of $4 billion in welfare support payments could be made;
- 60,000 fewer people would need to be admitted to hospital annually, resulting in savings of $2.3 billion in hospital expenditure;
- 5.5 million fewer Medicare services would be needed each year, resulting in annual savings of $273 million;
- 5.3 million fewer Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme scripts would be filled each year, resulting in annual savings of $184.5 million each year.
The Cost of Inaction on the Social Determinants of Health found that voidable chronic illness costs the Federal Government $4 billion each year in welfare payments and the national economy $8 billion in lost earnings.
Catholic Health Australia (CHA) commissioned the University of Canberra's National Centre for Social and Economic Modeling (NATSEM) to calculate savings the Federal Government could achieve if the 2008 World Health Organisation (WHO) action plan on social determinants of health was implemented.
Catholic Health Australia CEO Martin Laverty said "The lowest 20 per cent of income earners suffer twice the amount of chronic illness than the highest 20 per cent. NATSEM's study quantifies the cost of avoidable poor health to the Australian economy.
"The WHO in 2008 detailed how countries like Australia should tackle health inequalities. Now we have evidence it makes economic sense to implement the WHO proposals. In releasing the NATSEM report, we seek a Senate Inquiry to detail how Australia can best implement the WHO's action plan."
The Federal Government has announced the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs to will conduct an inquiry into the issues proposed in the study.
Mr Butler said the Senate Committee will be able to draw on this study as well as international contributions, including those made through the World Health Organisation and the Rio Political Declaration of 2011 which confirmed Member States’ commitment to take action to address the social determinants of health.
The report can be found here
The Western Australian Government has announced nearly $80 million in funding for the state’s nine ‘SuperTowns’ through the Royalties for Regions scheme. The funding will see the towns receive funding grants to upgrade community facilities, undertake environmental works and develop new investment opportunities.
The nominated SuperTowns of Boddington, Collie, Esperance, Jurien Bay, Katanning, Manjimup, Margaret River, Morawa and Northam will all benefit from the funding, with the key projects to be developed under the program including:
- waterfront development at Esperance
- a new visitor and community centre at Jurien Bay
- visitor facilities and road safety improvements near Margaret River
- new town centre facilities, roadworks and landscaping in Collie, Katanning, Manjimup and Morawa
- small business development in Boddington, Esperance and Manjimup
- infrastructure upgrades to enable housing development at Boddington
- environmental work to the Avon River
- the first stage of development of a health precinct at Northam
- investigation of thermal power options at Morawa.
Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls said the funding would provide a catalyst for future investment from Government and private enterprise that would enhance the towns and benefit neighbouring communities in the process.
The Western Australian Government has announced new appointments for the South-West’s two regional water service suppliers, Busselton Water and Aqwest.
State Water Minister Bill Marmion announced the appointment of David McDonald and Christopher Boulton as new members of Busselton’s Water Board.
“These two new appointments, along with the existing board, will be tasked with continuing to build upon the solid foundation left by long-serving retiring chairman David Reid,” he said.
“I thank David for his stewardship as chair and his long-running commitment to Busselton Water over 15 years through a very challenging time in the water industry.
“Mr McDonald and Mr Boulton will both serve three-year terms, starting today and expiring on May 31, 2015. The new members have strong ties to the Busselton community and their backgrounds in public health and education bring a diversity of skills to the board.”
The Western Australian Government has announced teachers working in the state’s non-government sector will flow-on benefits from the State Government’s recent Enterprise Bargaining Agreement with public school teachers.
The State Government announced an additional $10.4 million in financial assistance will be delivered to the non-government school sector to allow for the wage increases.
“The additional funding will help non-government schools pay the same increases in salaries as Government school teachers,” Education Minister Liz Constable said.
Dr Constable said that funding will only be delivered to low and mid-fee schools.
“By excluding high-fee, well-resourced schools from the financial assistance package, the additional $10.4million can go to those schools that need it the most,” Dr Constable said.
On average, the additional funding equates to an extra $17,000 for a small primary school with 200 students, increasing to more than $100,000 for larger secondary schools.
Dr Constable said there will be an 18 month delay before the increases flow through to non-government schools, saying the delays in available financial data precluded the government from delivering the funding immediately.
The Federal Government has announced $57.5 million in funding for aged care to be split between Victoria and New South Wales.
Federal Minister for Health and Ageing Mark Butler announced the funding, which will see $35.6 million go to New South Wales to help boost the Home and Community Care Program in the state.
New Southg Wales Minister for Ageing and Disability Services Andrew Constance said with the support of the NSW Government, the funding boost for Home and Community Care will deliver an additional 486,263 hours of support, 42,900 meals and 518,145 community transport trips.
“This funding will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the HACC service system, providing the much needed care and support for people to remain in their own homes and prevent their inappropriate or premature admission into residential aged care,” Mr Constance said.
Victoria will receive $21.9 million to boost its program, with Victorian Health Minister David Davis welcoming the move.
“This will deliver 66,000 more hours of allied health services such as physiotherapy, podiatry and dietetics, about 34,000 more hours of personal care and an additional 26,000 hours of domestic assistance,” Mr Davis said.
“The package also delivers more than 162,000 additional hours of social support, which includes one-on-one support for seniors and planned activity groups to keep seniors active and healthy and reduce social isolation.”
The Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) is calling for submissions for its50th annual conference at the Swinburne University of Technology on 6 and 7 December later this year. The event will showcase the latest solar research and highlight the most recent solar energy projects.
AuSES is calling for one-page abstracts to be submitted by the end of June that should “contribute to knowledge relating to the uses and applications of clean and renewable energy, energy efficiency, the built environment and sustainability’.
The conference will cover the following range of topics:
- Solar photovoltaics: including system design and performance monitoring
- Solar thermal: CSP as well as SWH and SAH, extending into the production of low-grade process heat for industry
- Built environment and sustainable design
- Energy efficiency
- Public policy
- Grid integration and remote power systems
- Other renewables, including wind, biomass, geothermal, tidal and waste methane recovery
More information can be found here
The Federal Government has announced new funding of $3 million for eight projects to enable scientists to conduct critical research into the Hendra virus, following a fresh outbreak in Queensland.
Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the research is aimed at getting a better understanding of the virus, the development of management procedures and improved patient treatments.
Three grants totalling $1.6M will examine immunological responses to exposure to the Hendra virus, creating knowledge about how host organisms react to the virus.
Five grants totalling $1.4M will support research into possible diagnostic markers, vaccines and antiviral drug targets.
Ms Plibersek said the funding as part of an overall $12 million collaborative effort between the Commonwealth, NSW and Queensland governments.
The announcement follows a recent Urgent Call for Research by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The council identified areas for research and subjected the grant applicants to rigorous review with eight of the best proposals having immediate access to funding.
“The call for research has been highly effective in recruiting the best research proposals to increase the body of knowledge about human health issues related to Hendra virus,” NHMRC Chief Executive Officer Professor Warwick Anderson said.
The managing director of the country’s leading anti-copyright theft body, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), has admitted that online piracy of television programs and movies is an inevitability.
Speaking at a seminar at the University of Melbourne, Neil Gane said that the combination of a desire to access material without cost and to view content as soon as possible was driving the proliferation of piracy, and that the Federal Government needs to intervene.
Fresh from the defeat at the hands of the High Court in a long running dispute over the infringements of copyright of iiNet’s customer base, AFACT is continuing to lobby against the ever expanding illegal use of peer-to-peer software.
Mr Gale says the current legal framework is ill equipped to deal with the problem, saying that more must be done to enforce copyright infringements.
US based ISP Verizon has announced it will roll out its first ultra-high-speed home broadband service, offering speeds of up to 300 Mbps, in a bid to cater for the boom in demand for bandwidth-intensive applications.
The company says that the proliferation of the number of internet-connected devices per household is driving the spike in demand for bandwidth.
"The ways we used the Internet and watched TV over the past 10 to 15 years have dramatically shifted. With the emergence of smartphones, smart TVs, Blu-ray players, tablets and gaming consoles that also serve as over-the-top devices, consumers need more bandwidth to receive the highest-quality experience,” Bob Mudge, President of Verizon’s consumer and mass market business unit.
Verizon will use its fibre to the home technology, similar to that being rolled out by the National Broadband Network, to supply its customers with the unlimited data service.