The first National Indigenous Youth Parliament has been opened in Canberra.
The Youth Parliament brings together future Indigenous leaders aged up to 25 years from across Australia to learn how the parliamentary system works, and to debate issues affecting them and their communities.
All the participants have been selected because of their leadership in their community, and their strong interest in the parliamentary system.
The six-day program is being run by the Australian Electoral Commission in partnership with the YMCA, and the Australian Government has provided $220,000 to support the event.
Participants will receive expert training in how laws are made, advocacy, public speaking and speaking with the media.
At the end of the week, they will debate legislation addressing issues their communities have identified as being important.
The Bills passed by the Youth Parliament will then be presented to Government representatives for consideration in developing policies.
The participants will also be discussing constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, including the referendum process and work underway to help build public awareness and community support for change.
Constitutional recognition is an important step towards recognising the unique and special place of our first peoples.
The Australian Government is working to lay the necessary foundations for a successful referendum, including through a $10 million investment to build public awareness and community support for recognising Indigenous Australians in the Constitution.
Participants will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic changes that gave Indigenous Australians equal rights to vote and discuss the importance and value of voting in a democracy. In 1962, the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended to give Indigenous people the right to enrol and vote in Federal elections.
The Australian Government is investing $13.2 million to support the electoral participation of Indigenous Australians so they can have a say on the issues that are affecting their communities.
Legislation to establish a National Children’s Commissioner within the Australian Human Rights Commission has been introduced into the Australian Parliament.
The Australian Human Rights Commission Amendment (National Children’s Commissioner) Bill 2012 provides for the Children’s Commissioner to take a broad advocacy role to promote public awareness of issues affecting children, conduct research and education programs, consult directly with children and representative organisations as well as monitor Commonwealth legislation, policies and programs that relate to children’s rights, wellbeing and development.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the National Children’s Commissioner would have the task of promoting the rights, wellbeing and development of children and young people in Australia.
“For the first time, Australia’s kids will have a voice at the national level looking out for their interests. The Children’s Commissioner will ensure children and young people, particularly the most vulnerable, are heard in the development of Commonwealth legislation, policies and programs.
“Crucially, the Commissioner will consult directly with children and young people to ensure their voices are heard and their needs pursued."
The Government will call for expressions of interest for the position shortly with the new Commissioner expected to take office by the end of 2012.
Adelaide City Council has signed a revised National Sorry Day Acknowledgement in recognition of the past dispossession of Aboriginal people at a ceremony in Victoria Square/ Tarndanyangga.
Yvonne Agius and Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood , both Chairs of Council’s Reconciliation Committee, along with John Browne, Chairperson of the Journey of Healing SA, signed the acknowledgement.
“Signing this acknowledgement will help to forge relationships with the City Council and the local Aboriginal community, and I give credit to the Council and Lord Mayor for taking this important step,” said John Browne, Chairperson of the Journey of Healing SA.
National Sorry Day is a national event that takes place each year on the 26th May.
The first Sorry Day was held in 1998 following the national inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. The Bringing Them Home Report revealed the extent of forced removal policies.
Yvonne Agius, dual chair of Council’s Reconciliation Committee said, “We’re very pleased that the Lord Mayor will sign this document and we value his continued support of reconciliation and the Aboriginal community”.
Council was a leader in reconciliation when it signed the National Sorry Day Acknowledgement in 1998, which also provides the guiding principles for its Reconciliation Action Plan.
The acknowledgement was revised earlier this year to ensure ongoing relevancy, to further enhance Council’s commitment to reconciliation and to respond to the national apology to the Stolen Generation delivered in 2008 by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood said this was another step toward healing the effects of past actions.
“Signing this document is about acknowledging the hurt and harm that was caused by the forced removal of children from their families,” Stephen said.
As part of its commitment to the process of reconciliation, Council has an ongoing relationship of consultation in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
This includes projects such as community education through the Kaurna cultural walking tours, Kaurna dual naming of Park Lands and City Squares and maintaining the Reconciliation Committee to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and aspirations are represented.
It also involves supporting initiatives through grant funding that improve community services to Aboriginal people in the city such as the Mobile Assistance Patrol.
The signing ceremony was part of the National Sorry Day event on Thursday 24th May in Victoria Square / Tarndanyangga.
The Victorian Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell has urged the community to further contribute to the Tomorrow’s Library review of the state’s public libraries.
Submissions to Tomorrow's Library close on Thursday 31 May and will inform a comprehensive report due to be released later this year.
"This consultation is an opportunity for the community to contribute to the development of a future-focused and forward-thinking plan for Victorian public libraries," Mrs Powell said.
"Public libraries are vital resources within our community and provide invaluable access to knowledge, the latest information technology and a wide range of community services.
The review is being conducted by the bipartisan Ministerial Advisory Council on Public Libraries (MAC) re-established by Minister Powell. The members of the MAC include:
- Chair, David Morris MP – Member for Mornington and Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government
- Deputy Chair, Joanne Duncan MP – Member for Macedon
- Peter Crisp MP – Member for Mildura
- Cr Rod Fyffe – Municipal Association of Victoria
- Dennis Hovenden – Local Government Professionals
- John Murrell – Public Libraries Victoria Network
- Anne Holmes – Public Libraries Victoria Network
- Sue Hamilton – Chief Executive Officer State Library of Victoria
- John Bennie – City of Greater Dandenong
- Cr Sharon Ellis – Whitehorse City Council
- Cr Judith O'Farrell – Campaspe Shire Council
- Patti Manolis – Geelong Regional Library Corporation
- Mr Colin Morrison – Department of Planning and Community Development
- Mr Dan Harper – MAC Executive Officer
South Australian unions are throwing their support behind a Greens' plan to make sure older workers over 65 are covered by workers' compensation.
SA Unions State Secretary, Janet Giles says that as the retirement age grows, there will be a group of people caught out in the gap between when they can claim WorkCover benefits for any injury and when they can officially retire.
"Under the existing rules, people can only claim WorkCover benefits up until the age of 65 but the pensionable age will rise to 67 in 2017."
Ms Giles says that while WorkCover does a major overhaul, it is important that this small change is passed to make sure older south Australians are protected.
"Our first preference is always that people are not injured in the first place, but we need to have decent support systems in place if they are."
"This is a sensible amendment and I urge all Members of Parliament to support it."
The amendment will change s.35 of the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986, so that there is a gradual increase in the relevant age to match the incremental increase in the qualifying age for the age pension."
The Queensland Coordinator-General has announced the approval of Rio Tinto’s planned $1.45 billion South of the Embley bauxite mining extension on Cape York. The project is expected to enxtend the life of the bauxite mining operations for another 40 years.
The proposal will see the mining operations expanded with a new open-cut bauxite mine, processing facilities, barge and ferry terminals and a new port and stockpile facility near Boyd Point.
Queensland Minister for State Development, Jeff Seeney, said the project will provide 950 jobs during construction and up to 1,275 ongoing operational jobs with initial production of 22.5 million tonnes, with a potential to increase to 50 million tonnes.
Queensland Coordinator-General Barry Broe said his conditional approval of the project came after more than three years of rigorous environmental assessments and public consultation.
“I have imposed conditions which establish clear principles and procedures on matters including post-mining land use and rehabilitation, local and indigenous employment, training and skills development and mitigation of potential social impacts of the mine.
The Coordinator-General’s report can be accessed at:
The Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb has released his Health of Australian Science report, providing an overview of Australia's science system in schools and universities, through to research sectors and industry.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra, Professor Chubb said that said that overall, ours was a healthy and robust system, but that some identified challenges would lead to long term issues for Australia if no action is taken.
“We should be proud of what our scientists, our engineers and our mathematicians achieve. We are well represented in the international arena; our researchers are some of the most productive in the world,” Professor Chubb said.
“But the future prosperity of Australia is dependent on having a strong supply of graduates in the right areas coming through the education system. There are some areas of expertise that are crucial to our national interest which are lacking what they need to prosper,” he said.
Agricultural sciences, physics, mathematics and chemistry are highlighted in the report as being vulnerable and all are crucial forAustralia’s future. The total numbers in Engineering don’t meet demand and there are shifts between disciplines.
Professor Chubb noted areas of concern in his Foreword to the report.
“Much of our discipline profile is heavily dependent on undergraduate study choices—more students mean more funding, more staff and a greater mass in a discipline. Whether this outcome is in our medium- to long-term strategic interest as a nation is debatable. The options available to address the issue may well be the focus of future work. Indeed, I hope that this report will encourage more specific analysis and recommendations for Government in such areas.”
Opportunities outlined in the report include developing a more strategic funding system and improving the relationships between science and industry.
The Chief Scientist also remarked that we need to develop a culture that appreciates a science education, both the students and the teachers of it.
“The science degree prepares students for a lifetime of critical thinking, a drive to find evidence and an understanding of how our society fits into the broader picture of the world, all of which are invaluable for the development of a prosperousAustralia,” he said.
Professor Chubb said the release of the report provides the trigger for careful preparation and planning.
“The report should lead us to a position where any gaps in our capability will be by design and not the unintended consequence of a failure to notice. “
“The Health of Australian Science Report is not a story about rebuilding after a train wreck. We do not have a train wreck. But the Report is a signal: it encourages us to be alert; to be prudent while willing to take bold action when we need to.”
The Health of Australian Science Report is here.
Global business execution software specialist SuccessFactors has revealed its new data centre in Sydney. Forming part of the company’s expansion into the Asia Pacific region, the centre is set to service the Australian cloud computing market.
The centre will host the full SuccessFactors Business Execution (BizX) suite and will be delivered locally in the Australian cloud to clients throughout the Asia Pacific region.
"The new data centre opening comes at a perfect time as it is designed to meet the rapidly growing hosting demands of the Australian government and local businesses customers," said Murray Sargant, SuccessFactors vice president, Asia Pacific.
We have a very strong presence in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane, so many of our customers will find it helpful to have access to a data centre which offers premium support and optimal reliability in the country. We are committed to advancing Australia as a cloud computing hub for the region and we are very excited about the growth potential the data centre will bring to the APAC market."
One of the Victorian Water industry’s most experienced and well-regarded leaders has been appointed Managing Director of Western Water, Board Chairman Terry Larkins has announced.
Mr Larkins said Neil Brennan, current Managing Director at Central Highlands Water, will commence in the role on 9 July.
Mr Brennan will lead Western Water as it delivers the infrastructure, customer service and innovation to meet the demands of one of the fastest growing areas of Victoria. His appointment follows a highly competitive national recruitment process.
“Mr Brennan is already well-known in the Western Water region as he is a local resident and was also Western Water’s original Chief Executive Officer when the organisation was created in 1995 following the amalgamation of local water boards,” Mr Larkins said.
“Since that time Western Water’s customer base has more than doubled and over the next 20 years it is expected to double again.”
“Meeting the demands of the growth in the area will require substantial major project, stakeholder relations and industry experience, as well as commitment to the strong customer focus we pride ourselves on at Western Water. Mr Brennan’s impressive background and experience will ensure these needs are met for our community,” Mr Larkins said.
The appointment of Mr Brennan is due to the retirement of long serving and highly respected Managing Director, John Wilkinson, who has had the role since 2002.
Mr Larkins thanked Mr Wilkinson for his hard work, dedication and leadership over the past 10 years and for his contribution to the water industry throughout his career.
Mr Brennan said he was delighted to be returning to Western Water and said he was committed to ensuring Western Water’s strong focus on customer service excellence continued.
“Western Water is well regarded in the water industry and in the local community and I am looking forward to leading the team as they continue the great work already undertaken by the organisation,” Mr Brennan said.
New South Wales’ Independent Local Government Review Panel has held its inaugural meeting, holding a meeting with the NSW Minister for Local Government Don Page.
Built on the Destination 2036 partnership between State and local governments, the review is tasked with identifying how councils can best govern and be structured to support the future prosperity of the state.
The Panel is chaired by Professor Graham Sansom, who currently heads up the Australian Centre for Excellence in Local Government, and also consists of Ms Jude Munro AO, former CEO of Brisbane City Council, and Mr Glenn Inglis, former General Manager of Tamworth Regional Council.
The Panel will begin its wide ranging consultation with a background paper to be published by early July. This will be followed by a series of regional meetings with councils, the community and other key stakeholders to understand the issues facing local and regional areas and to shape principles for reform.
The Panel is due to report back to the State Government in July 2013.
Australia’s consulting engineering, architecture and associated industries are set to experience a chaotic next three years with continual restructures required in order to remain globally competitive, according to Consult Australia’s 2012 Economic Forecast report.
The Report, written by former BHP Chief Economist, Geoffrey Bills is considered one of the industry’s most valuable economic predictors and is used by many of Australia’s largest firms, including Parsons Brinkerhoff, SMEC, Hyder, GHD and AECOM.
In the short-term, the Report forecasts a fairly rosy future for the industry.
The backlog of work in engineering construction is set to sustain high levels of activity until 2016 with firms operating in this space expected to experience 22 per cent growth over the next 12 months.
Consult Australia CEO, Megan Motto said this signifies a welcome commitment to infrastructure development in the short-term but warned it wasn’t all good news.
“Curtailed public spending due to significant budget constraints has concerning long-term implications, particularly given the trend towards contracting out,” said Ms Motto.
The Report shows that private sector work is unlikely to pick up quickly enough to compensate for this fall, an issue compounded by the fact that approvals in the 2011 calendar year fell by six per cent from 2010.
Mining and infrastructure work will continue to dominate the industry, coinciding with a sharp drop in non-residential activity as stimulus spending comes to an end.
The strong dollar has also made exporting Australia’s professional services from the industry more difficult.
“Australian consultants operating in this space are extremely well regarded internationally,” said Ms Motto.
“Fortunately this does help cushion the effects many firms are feeling from the strong Australian dollar, however it has made securing overseas work a lot more challenging for many firms.”
Difficulties exporting services have been compounded by increasing competition from imports, which have jumped from a six-year average of $1.27 billion a year to $2.3 billion last year.
“The increase in imported services is due to the growing importance of major oil and gas developments and the ongoing skills shortage in Australia,” said Ms Motto.
Despite the numerous challenges facing the industry, the future looks bright with market trends towards contracting out, the diversifying nature of large consulting firms, new technologies and changed major national markets forecast to strengthen the industry.
According to the Report, Australian firms can expect to experience up to 18 per cent growth in revenue to $37.5 billion in the next two years alone.
The report is available at www.consultaustralia.com.au
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten has expressed his concern over Qantas’ decision to cut over 500 jobs through the company’s restructuring of its heavy maintenance operations.
“I’m concerned about the impact this decision by Qantas may have on the Australian aviation industry’s long term skills capacity,” Mr Shorten said.
“Consultations have occurred with various stakeholders during the review, including with unions and state governments. I encourage Qantas to continue to work closely with employees and unions to ensure those affected by this decision are treated with respect.
Mr Shorten stressed that the redundant workers will have access to a range of Government services through the Job Services Australia network.
“These workers are highly trained, highly skilled, and the government will do everything possible to assist affected workers find new employment,” Mr Shorten said.
“To this end, I have asked my Department to make sure that any affected Qantas workers are provided with information about the support available to them.”
The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) has announced the backing of a research project that has identified a number of hardy native plants that could be used to grow on walls and roofs of buildings.
Dubbed “vertical gardens”, the concept involves setting up slim-line growing beds on the walls and rooftops of buildings where plants grow in specialised soil and are watered using a drip irrigation system.
One of the project’s chief researchers, Dr Melinda Perkins from The University of Queensland said that the greatest benefit of a vertical garden is its ability to block heat.
“Apart from being attractive, these gardens can reduce the need for air conditioning in warm weather by shading and buffering buildings from heat,” Dr Perkins said.
“Temperature reductions of up to 17 degrees celsius were achieved inside prefabricated metal buildings that incorporated living walls and rooftops.
“In the built environment this can lead to very significant reductions in energy demand for air conditioners.
“The technology used to grow the plants is widely adopted in Europe, particularly Germany, and is becoming more popular in the USA and Singapore.”
The research project identified six native plant species for green roofs and seven for green walls that displayed traits suited to Australia’s harsh sub-tropical environment.
“To be suitable the plants need to have a strong, shallow root system, provide good vegetation cover, be pest and disease hardy, and be tolerant of wind, drought and high temperatures,” Dr Perkins said.
“On the other hand, species prone to become a weed problem or which display aggressive growth rates should be avoided. Also, where sites are accessible to the public, plants with thorns or which are poisonous to humans are potentially unsuitable.”
Norsk Hydro has announced it is considering ceasing its operations at its Kurri Kurri aluminium plant following the curtailing of three pot lines in January this year, citing the effects of the Federal Government's carbon tax.
"Our Kurri Kurri workforce has worked intensively to improve the plant's cost position and no stone has been left unturned. Despite extensive efforts to improve profitability, we are faced with a very challenging situation at Kurri Kurri," says Hilde Merete Aasheim, executive vice president of Hydro's Primary Metal business area.
Hydro has also blamed ongoing weak macro-economic conditions, with low metal prices and an uncertain market outlook compounding the effects of the strong Australian dollar.
"The current cash losses are significant, with no sign of improvement anytime soon. We have therefore started to consult about full curtailment and will maintain a close dialogue with employees, unions and local stakeholders," Mr Aasheim said.
The plant, located near Newcastle in New South Wales, currently employs 344 people.
East Gippsland Water has announced there will be no real increase in water bills for average residential customers for five years under a proposal put forward by the corporation. Prices will only adjust in line with inflation.
This is one of a number of proposals put forward by East Gippsland Water in its draft Water Plan for 2013-2018, Water Plan 3, which is now available for customer and stakeholder comment.
Other highlights in the draft include:
- giving customers more control over their bill by reducing the fixed charge of both water and wastewater components and increasing the water usage portion. This means customers who use less water will pay lower bills;
- a proposal to spend around $9 million a year on essential major works - Such as progressing a major upgrade to Bairnsdale Wastewater Treatment Plant, upgrading the sewer networks in Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance and renewing sections of ageing water pipeline across East Gippsland;
- expenditure of around $17.5 million a year to maintain and operate water and wastewater infrastructure;
- the introduction of Guaranteed Service Levels – This means customers who receive a significantly poor level of service in one of five key areas, will be compensated financially.
To view the draft plan and consultation details, visit the website www.egwater.vic.gov.au and click on the ‘Water Plan 3’ link. Five fact sheets have also been prepared to explain areas of greatest interest and are on the same link.
The South Australian Government has passed its TAFE SA Statutory Authority Bill through the state’s House of Assembly, a major step in the state’s Skills for All reform.
State Employment, Higher Education and Skills Minister, Tom Kenyon, said the legislation will modernize governance arrangements by allowing TAFE SA to operate in a more commercial and competitive capacity.
“TAFE SA will become even more responsive to market needs by providing greater commercial autonomy and accountability through a Board of Directors, as well as flexibility and independence from government processes,” Mr Kenyon said.
The legislation establishes a separation between TAFE SA and the State Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology, allowing it to make independent decisions on funding and investment.
TAFE SA is currently the state’s largest public training provider, with around 80,000 students in the system each year.
Newcrest Mining, the country’s largest gold mining company, has announced the appointment of Scott Langford as the company’s General Counsel and Company Secretary, effective from the start of July.
Currently the Partner and co-leader of Energy and Resources Practice Group at Allens Arthur Robinson, Mr Langford has been a key legel advisor for major mining and resources companies for over a decade.
His appointment forms part of Newcrest’s transitional arrangement after the company’s Executive General Manager, Corporate Affairs Stephen Creese steps down mid next year.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Greg Robinson, welcomed the appointment, which followed a comprehensive search process.
“We are delighted that Scott has agreed to join the senior executive team at Newcrest and ensure an orderly transition in this role. His skills, experience and commercial acumen will play a substantial part in Newcrest’s future growth and development,” Mr Robinson said.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has welcomed a ‘significant increase’ in compliance rates with workplace law within the security industry following a second round of audits.
The Ombudsman’s audit found that the industry’s level of compliance had lifted from just 47 per cent in 2009, to 75 per cent in 2011.
“That is a fantastic improvement,” Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson said today when releasing the results of a second targeted education and compliance campaign.
“This follow-up action indicates that our pro-active auditing work is achieving the desired outcomes,” he said.
After releasing the findings of an initial audit of the sector in 2009, the Ombudsman called for improved leadership within the sector to assist employers better understand their workplace obligations.
To assist this, the Ombudsman provided funding to the Australian Security Industry Association in 2010 to rollout a sector wide reform program.
The Association produced a guide for employers with information on the National Employment Standards, classifications, hours of work, breaks, shift work penalties, overtime, employment status, employee records and payslips and rates of pay.
A Fair Work Ombudsman targeted campaign in 2009 recouped $1.125 million back-pay for 1156 security staff nationally who had been underpaid.
Gold mining company Newcrest Mining has taken top honours as the country’s most attractive employer at this year’s 2012 Randstad Awards. Coming in second place was national broadcaster ABC, while Virgin Australia took third place.
The announcement, made at a gala ceremony in front of 150 of the country’s leading HR directors, was made following a vote of 7,000 Australians of working age.
Recruitment specialist Randstad announced seven awards during the evening, with Newcrest Mining also receiving top honours at the mining and natural resources category.
Wespact won the banking and financial services category award, while the ABC took out the award for special recognition for offering the best work-life balance.
BHP was given special acknowledgement for having the strongest leadership team.
Randstad CEO, Fred van der Tang, commended the winning companies on their victories, paying special tribute to Newcrest Mining, which performed particularly well when it came to people looking for a competitive salary and employee benefits, interesting job content, long-term job security, excellent training and development and career progression opportunities.
"With the mining boom in full swing in Australia and companies all searching for people in the same talent pool, it's clearly a competitive environment. Being the country's largest gold producer, a global top 10 gold mining company, and having a strong employer brand , working for Newcrest Mining is definitely seen as a very appealing and attractive employment option for many Aussies," says van der Tang.
The Western Australian Government has called on the people of Perth to submit comments on draft proposals for the suite of changes being made to the state’s local government structure.
The Metropolitan Local Government Review panel’s Draft Findings paper, released last month, discussed proposed changes to ensure future effective local government structures and governance models for the next 50 years.
State Local Government Minister John Castrilli encouraged people to submit online forms before the closing date of Friday, May25.
The draft findings proposed consideration of sweeping changes to local government structures and governance. The panel is considering models for fewer local governments in the metropolitan area, including changes to local government roles and responsibilities.
“There is a need for considerable change in local government in Perth, and as a city we are going to need significantly enhanced strategic thinking and leadership to manage extraordinary growth into the future,” Mr Castrilli said.
More information can be found here
The Victorian Government has outlined new planning controls for the state’s major ports in a bid to ensure future productivity in the sector.
The Ports and Environs Advisory Committee released the new set of planning controls for the ports of Melbourne, Hastings, Geelong and Portland.
State Planning Minister Matthew Guy welcomed the report, saying that a robust ports planning framework is paramount to the future economic growth of the state.
Mr Guy accepted the key recommendation from the Committee for a formation of a Port Zone, which will specifically recognise the interests of the port and the port’s significance to Victoria’s economy.
The State Government also accepted the recommendation that a new Ministerial Direction be introduced to prevent the encroachment of sensitive land uses, such as dwellings and hospitals, near ports.
The Department of Planning and Community Development will work with Port of Melbourne Corporation to develop further planning measures to account for the recently announced expansion of Webb Dock, which was not considered as part of the Advisory Committee's scope.
The Ports and Environs Advisory Committee Report and Ministerial Direction 14 will be made available at:www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/panelsandcommittees