Patients given a clot-busting drug within six hours of a stroke are more likely to make a better recovery than those who do not receive the treatment, new research has found.
The trial was set up in 2000 by the University of Sydney's Professor Richard Lindley, while he was employed at the University of Edinburgh.
The study of more than 3000 patients is the world's largest trial of the drug rt-PA and was coordinated at the University of Edinburgh. Since coming to Sydney Medical School in 2003, Professor Lindley has continued as the co-principal investigator of the research.
The findings of the study are published today in The Lancet alongside an analysis of all other trials of the drug carried out in the past 20 years.
The trial found that following treatment with the drug rt-PA, which is given intravenously to patients who have suffered an acute ischaemic stroke, more patients were able to look after themselves.
"The trial results, together with the updated review, mean that rt-PA can now be offered to a much wider group of patients presenting with stroke", Professor Lindley said.
A patient's chances of making a complete recovery within six months of a stroke were also increased.
An ischaemic stroke happens when the brain's blood supply is interrupted by a blood clot. The damage caused can be permanent or fatal.
Researchers now know that for every 1000 patients given rt-PA within three hours of stroke, 80 more will survive and live without help from others than if they had not been given the drug.
The benefits of using rt-PA do come at a price, say researchers. Patients are at risk of death within seven days of treatment because the drug can cause a secondary bleed in the brain. The research team concluded that the benefits were seen in a wide variety of patients, despite the risks.
Stroke experts stress that these mortality figures need to be viewed in the context of deaths from stroke. Without treatment, one third of people who suffer a stroke die, with another third left permanently dependent and disabled.
Researchers say the threat of death and disability means many stroke patients are prepared to take the early risks of being treated with rt-PA to avoid being disabled.
The authors conclude that for those who do not experience bleeding, the drug improves patients' longer term recovery.
About half of those who took part in the trial were over 80.
"The trial underlines the benefits of treating patients with the drug as soon as possible and provides the first reliable evidence that treatment is effective for those aged 80 and over," Professor Lindley said.
The study also found no reason to restrict use of rt-PA - also known as alteplase - on the basis of how severe a patient's stroke has been.
Chief investigator Professor Peter Sandercock of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences said: "Our trial shows that it is crucial that treatment is given as fast as possible to all suitable patients."
The trial was supported by the NHMRC and the Heart Foundation in Australia.
The University of Adelaide has established a new $50m endowment fund to support in perpetuity capital works and research in agriculture.
The fund has been set up following the purchase of the remaining 1614 ha of Martindale Farm at Mintaro by a local farmer.
The combination of Martindale Farm (4143ha), Munduney Station at Spalding (7513ha) and Moralana Station, north of Hawker (61,817ha) has realised gross proceeds of more than $50 million.
University of Adelaide Vice-President, Services and Resources Mr Paul Duldig said investing the proceeds of the three properties into a dedicated endowment fund demonstrates the University's firm commitment to research and education in agriculture and animal sciences in keeping with the wishes of its benefactors.
"Teaching and research are our business, not operating commercial farms. We have been able to turn these assets into serious investment in the future of agriculture and animal sciences," Mr Duldig said. "This is through expanded infrastructure for research and teaching and increased research capacity at both our Waite and Roseworthy campuses."
"Agriculture remains one of the cornerstones of education and research at the University of Adelaide and this endowment fund will help us maintain our position among the world's leading researchers in this area, tackling some of the major issues facing the sector."
Mr Duldig said the University was very pleased to be establishing such a major endowment fund. "These properties came to the University through generous bequests and we are delighted that the realisation of these bequests has allowed us to invest so significantly in the future of South Australian agriculture and animal sciences, just as they wished," he said.
"All properties have gone to South Australian owners for the benefit of local communities, and the results achieved reflected the high quality of facilities built and property maintenance over the years."
In May 2010, existing property user BTG Australasia bought the first part of Martindale Farm (1564ha) ensuring the continuation of the South Australian pharmaceutical operation.
The Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI) has announced a set of new principles for land-use planning aimed at protecting airports and communities from ‘inappropriate’ off-airport developments.
The agreement will attempt to balance interests of local communities and airports and maintain the social, economic and environmental needs of both groups.
Specifically, SCOTI has agreed to adopt the principles underpinning the National Airport Safety Framework along with a series of technical guidelines, which include:
- Guideline B - management of the risk of building generated windshear and turbulence at airports;
- Guideline C - management of wildlife hazards near airports such as land fill sites and bird attracting wetlands;
- Guideline D - wind turbine farms which might pose a hazard to aviation operations or create electromagnetic interference with navigation equipment;
- Guideline E - lighting which might act as a distraction to pilots; and
- Guideline F - processes to assess penetration of tall buildings into protected airspace around airports.
The Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Trustee Obligations and Prudential Standards) Bill 2012 has passed through the House of Representatives, introducing measures recommended by the Cooper review into the governance, efficiency, structure and operation of Australia's superannuation system.
The Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation Bill Shorten said the Bill helps to close a regulatory gap by giving APRA standards-making power in superannuation.
"I flagged these reforms as early as December 2010. Today, this Government passed legislation through the lower house that gives the regulator and members new powers to go after rogue superfund directors," he said.
- requires a trustee to put the interests of members of funds first at all times;
- clearly identifies the duties that apply to directors of superannuation funds, including acting honestly and in the best interests of members; and
- includes a power for APRA to make prudential standards for superannuation.
The Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Stronger Super) Bill 2012 and Superannuation Supervisory Levy Imposition Amendment Bill 2012 have been referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services
The Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Stronger Super) Bill 2012:
- bans entry fees and sets criteria for the charging of other fees in superannuation, including rules for the charging of financial advice;
- requires all superannuation funds to provide life and TPD insurance to members (excluding defined benefit members) on an opt-out basis;
- enables APRA to collect information on a look-through basis;
- requires the disclosure and publication of key information in relation to superannuation funds;
- allows only MySuper funds to be eligible as default funds in modern awards and enterprise agreements;
- allows exceptions for members of defined benefit funds;
- requires trustees to transfer certain existing balances of members to MySuper; and
- provides rules in relation to ERFs.
The closing date for submissions has not yet been set.
More information is here
The New South Wales Government has announced the formation of a new Mental Health Line to ensure that people with a mental health problem, their families and carers have access to a 24-hour support service.
The service will provide a telephone triage assessment and referral service staffed by mental health clinicians, who will direct callers to the most appropriate care.
The Mental Health Line will also be used to provide advice about clinical symptoms, the urgency of the need for care and local treatment options for service providers, such as general practitioners, police and ambulance officers.
The 1800 011 511 Mental Health Line is now fully operational.
Monash University Council has extended the term of the current Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Edward Byrne until the end of 2017.
University Chancellor, and Chair of the Monash University Council, Dr Alan Finkel said that since commencing in mid-2009 Professor Byrne had introduced and led a range of significant initiatives and strategies that had strengthened and advanced Monash University both nationally and internationally.
“Perhaps the most recent example of his record of success is the establishment of the Southeast University-Monash University Joint Graduate School in Suzhou, China. The finalisation of the agreement with the Chinese Government in April marked the first time an Australian university has been granted a licence to operate in China.”
Under Professor Byrne’s guidance the University cemented in February a first-of-its-kind alliance with the University of Warwick. The partnership aims to produce global graduates, and will allow the universities to jointly undertake research that will address problems that have proved too big for any one institution to address.
Professor Byrne was a founding director of the Melbourne Neuromuscular Research Unit and the Centre for Neuroscience in 1993. He was made Professor of Experimental Neurology at the University of Melbourne in 2001. He first came to Monash University as the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, a role he held from 2003 until 2007.
Professor Byrne was then appointed the Vice Provost (Health) at University College London. He held that position until he became Monash University’s eighth Vice-Chancellor in 2009.
The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has announced it will canvass over 100,000 students to survey their experiences with TAFE institutes, private training providers or adult and community education providers.
The annual Student Outcomes Survey provides information on the standard of vocational education and training levels, while also gathering valuable information on employment outcomes.
Ms Sandra Pattison, General Manager, Statistics, NCVER, said that it is important for students to have their say because their feedback helps improve the sector for future students.
“It’s a good opportunity for students to give valuable information about how relevant their training was, what they got out of it, and how satisfied they were”, said Ms Pattison.
“We know people are busy, so we’ve made sure the survey will only take about ten minutes to complete. And, the earlier students do this, the greater their chances of winning one of the cash prizes on offer”.
The Student Outcomes Survey is conducted on behalf of the Australian, state and territory governments. Results from this survey will be available on the NCVER website in late 2012.
Copies of the 2011 survey results are available from www.ncver.edu.au/publications/2442.html
For further information on the survey visit www.ncver.edu.au/sos/faq.html
A new investigation into the treatment of depression is underway at the Griffith Health Institute, with a focus on depression in the workplace.
About 60 percent of Australians who are depressed are employed, and many fail to seek or receive treatment.
Researchers at Griffith University's School of Applied Psychology have developed an online program called Finding the Balance to help people who are employed improve their emotional wellbeing and prevent future problems.
"The study aims to give people a better understanding of themselves in relation to their work and personal life by investigating if their emotional wellbeing can be improved using the web as a source of help," researcher Shannon Moule says.
"We expect to prove that those who complete the Finding the Balance program will show significant improvement in mood and worker productivity."
The participants, whose identification and details remain confidential, will learn new strategies to help improve their mood and increase their quality of work. A total of 40 people, living in Brisbane, are required to take part in the research.
"A diagnosis of depression is not necessary for participants. If they feel their mood is low and it is starting to affect their functioning with work and life in general, they can undergo a screening process to determine if the study program is suitable for their needs."
Ms Moule says the researchers at the Mt Gravatt campus are aware of previous positive results.
"We know of employees whose depressive symptoms decreased and whose work performance increased after undergoing quality treatment," she said.
"Research shows that online treatments are successful in treating depression and can be an extremely attractive option for people who may find it too difficult to attend traditional face-to-face treatments.
"The key issue about facing depression in the workplace is the need for cost-effective, accessible, and anonymous treatments that encourage employers to implement them and make employees comfortable about engaging with treatment."
Finding the Balance offers a range of behavioural strategies through an eight-module online program.
"Participation will incur a small, negotiable fee to cover the costs of running the study," Ms Moule said.
More information is at www.findingthebalance.com.au
The Victorian Government has announced it has chosen a preferred framework for development contribution plans.
Following consultation with industry representatives and stakeholders, Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy said his government has formed a new, straight forward and easy-to-understand system.
Mr Guy said the Government would now move to finalise a model of a new standardised levy system based on five infrastructure categories:
- Community facilities;
- Open space facilities;
- Transport infrastructure;
- Drainage infrastructure; and
- Public land.
Under the preferred framework a different levy will be set for different development settings such as greenfield development, metropolitan infill development and regional and rural development, as well as a levy for residential and non-residential development.
Mr Guy said an Advisory Committee would be appointed to set the new levy amounts.
"The intention of the new framework is to cut red tape, reduce delays and provide clarity to the delivery of precinct structure plans in Melbourne and in growth areas in rural and regional Victoria," Mr Guy said.
The new levies will contribute to funding new infrastructure, the upgrade or extension of existing infrastructure or replacement of infrastructure that is required to support new communities.
The Advisory Committee will be required to report to the Minister by the end of 2012.
Origin Energy has announced that Australia Pacific LNG Pty Limited has signed agreements with a syndicate of domestic and international commercial banks and export credit agencies for an US$8.5 billion project finance facility. Participants in the facility include the Export-Import Bank of the United States (US EXIM), The Export-Import Bank of China (China EXIM) and a syndicate of domestic and international commercial banks.
The project finance facility provides funding for the downstream parts of the project, including the liquefaction facilities on Curtis Island near Gladstone in Queensland, and will underpin the development of Australia Pacific LNG's CSG to LNG project. The facility is subject to a final investment decision (FID) being taken on the second phase of the Australia Pacific LNG project.
The commercial banks and US EXIM have signed the definitive project finance documentation with Australia Pacific LNG for 16 and 17 year terms respectively. China EXIM has signed a commitment letter agreeing to the key terms of the project finance facility, with its signing of the definitive documentation expected to occur shortly. Draw down under the project finance facility, which is subject to customary conditions precedent, including certain government approvals, will be made progressively over the construction phase of the project.
Origin Managing Director, Mr Grant King said the agreements paved the way for development of one of Australia's largest LNG export projects.
"Australia Pacific LNG's ability to secure US$8.5 billion in project finance from Australian and international lenders evidences the strength and quality of the project.
"Substantial progress continues to be made by Australia Pacific LNG across all areas of the CSG to LNG project and we remain on track to take a final investment decision on the second phase of the project by mid-2012.
"Given the timing of Australia Pacific LNG's phase one FID, we believe our project schedules and budgets were based on a solid understanding of current regulatory requirements and the cost environment. We remain confident that the project remains on schedule and budget to deliver first gas in 2015, as expected," Mr King said.
The Victorian Government has announced a new $20 million research initiative aimed at better understanding the effects of road trauma.
The Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR), an initiative of Monash University, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and WorkSafe, will manage the funding.
Funding will be delivered to the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), and will focus on improving lifetime care and disability support for those affected by road accident survivors.
"Last year the TAC managed almost 3,000 neuro-trauma claims from road trauma survivors including 232 cases of paraplegia, 205 cases of quadriplegia and 1,273 cases of severe traumatic brain injury," Victorian Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips said.
To be conducted over the next three years, the research will prioritise the development of new models of lifetime care, the improvement of rehabilitation and disability management approaches, the translation of research to the clinic and building neurotrauma research capacity.
ISCRR plans to involve Victorian neurotrauma researchers from the Spinal Research Institute (Austin Health) and the Centre of Excellence in Traumatic Brain Injury Research, (NTRI) Monash University in the rollout of research projects.
The Federal Government has announced a suite of new measures aimed at cracking down on organised crime at docks around the country.
Under the planned legislation, police will be given sweeping new powers to suspend a person’s right to work on the waterfront if they have reasonable cause for suspicion that they may have connections to criminal activity.
Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said the move comes after a joint Federal and NSW operation seized over 12 tonnes of illicit substances entering Sydney’s docks over the last two years.
Mr Clare said the move comes as organised criminals have been able to infiltrate private companies at ports, allowing tracking and forwarding of illegal goods.
Legislation will be introduced later this year.
The Federal Government has announced the appointment of former head of the United Nations’ police force Andrew Hughes as the country’s Inspector of Transport Security.
Mr Hughes, a career police officer with over 33 years of experience, will replace outgoing inspector Much Palmer after his term expires in June.
Prior to his appointment, Mr Hughes served with the Australian Federal Police for over 30 years as well as serving as the commissioner for the Fijian national police.
In his new role, Mr Hughes will be responsible for monitoring and identifying systemic failures and weaknesses in the country’s transport security regulations and arrangements.
The Federal Government has introduced a package of bills that will aim to reform the way in which the country regulates all commercial vessels within territorial waters. The legislation will replace the seven existing Federal, state and territory bureaucracies and the fifty separate pieces of legislation they administer with a single national regulator and one set of nationwide laws.
The legislation now before the Parliament will eliminate the artificial sea borders which have existed between the states since Federation. From 1 January 2013, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) will become the national regulator of all commercial vessels, not just those involved in international trade.
The $10.2 million funding requirement was provided in the Federal Budget and forms part of the government’s amove to reverse the decline of Australia’s domestic shipping industry.
The Federal Government has announced a one-off $20 million funding boost to assist Tasmania’s exporters reach international markets.
The Government has confirmed the spending after it flagged the package in March in response to Tasmania’s sole international sipping container AAA ceasing operations.
The funding measures contain three key measures:
- Direct and immediate assistance to Tasmanian exporters through a one-off payment to help them stay competitive in the new shipping environment.
- Investing in infrastructure improvements at the Port of Burnie to increase container handling capacity and enhance the efficiency of movements within the port.
- Establish a freight logistics coordination team with an industry leadership.
“These infrastructure improvements at the Port of Burnie are crucial, and recognise its importance as the major freight port in Tasmania,” Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Sid Sidebottom said.
“The port will receive $4 million in Federal infrastructure funding to increase container handling capacity and improve the movement of goods within the port, boosting efficiency and helping to lower costs for Tasmanian exporters.”
Two hundred IT workers at Westpac bank’s Kogarah site have won a reprieve after the bank backed down on plans to outsource their jobs.
The workers come from an area of the St George Bank that has been part the Westpac group since the merger between the two banks in 2009.
Geoff Derrick of the Finance Sector Union said the result “demonstrates that you can do business and be successful in the finance sector without outsourcing work, slashing positions and offshoring jobs.”
“FSU members, through their collective action, have saved 200 jobs at Westpac. I congratulate union members at Kogarah for standing firm,” he said.
The jobs were at risk when Westpac revealed the bank was in advanced discussions with IBM about outsourcing those jobs.
“The workers at risk of having their jobs outsourced stood together to get straight answers from Westpac and collectively raised genuine concerns about the outsourcing plan. Staff believed that they had the skills and expertise to provide outstanding service to customers and the business in regards to their technology functions. And that the proposed outsourcing was not in the best interest of all involved.”
Last week, Westpac advised employees and the union that the IBM proposal had been rejected and that the jobs would not be outsourced.
Australian cancer treatment company, Prima Biomed, has announced its CEO Martin Rogers, will step down from August 31, but will remain on the board as a non-executive director. Mr Rogers has been in the position for four and a half years.
Matthew Lehman, the Company’s Chief Operating Officer, will assume the CEO role and will join the Prima board of directors. He will relocate from Germany to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Prima plans to concentrate its longer-term operational expansion.
Prima Chairman Lucy Turnbull said Mr Rogers had consolidated Prima’s research activities to focus on development of CVac, brought together a strong management team and board of directors, and overseen the globalization of Prima’s development activities with key operations in the USA and Germany.
The company also announced that Dr. Neil Frazer has stepped down from his position as an executive director on the board, but will continue his senior management role as Chief Medical Officer.
In other changes to senior management, Dr. Sharron Gargosky has been promoted to Chief Technical Officer. Dr. Gargosky, based on the West Coast of the US, is charged with leading the scientific and technical development of CVac globally. Marc Voigt has been promoted to General Manager of the German subsidiary and Chief Business Officer of the Company. Mr. Voigt will be globally responsible for coordinating investor relations and driving business development.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications has announced it will conduct an inquiry into the pricing of IT software and hardware in Australia compared to overseas markets.
“Australians are often forced to pay more for IT hardware and software than consumers in overseas markets. The Committee’s inquiry aims to determine the extent of these IT price differences and examine the possibility of limiting their impact on Australian consumers, businesses and governments,” Committee chair Nick Champion said.
The committee will look into the cost of computer hardware and software, including video games, downloaded music, e-books and professional software.
“The Committee is looking forward to hearing from the companies who set these prices and the consumers and businesses that purchase their products,” Mr Champion said.
The Queensland Government has announced it has withdrawn financial support for the Cloncurry Solar Farm as part of the state’s ongoing cost cutting.
Pulling support from the farm, which is in its early stages, is expected to save the Queensland up to $5.6 million.
“These are savings which will benefit all Queenslanders rather than localised climate initiatives,” State Minister for Energy Mark McArdle said.
“Large-scale solar farms are proven technology and it is up to the private sector to decide whether to invest in, build and operate such projects in Queensland.”
Mr McArdle said the government had informed Ingenero Pty Ltd, which was named preferred tenderer in December 2011 to design, build and operate the 2.128 megawatt solar farm, and the Cloncurry Shire Council.
“The Queensland Government had an option in its contract with Ingenero to cancel the contract at any time for any reason. The government has chosen to exercise this option to save money for Queensland taxpayers.”
The farm was set to produce 3,700MW hours of power per year, enough energy to power approximately 500 households upon completion. It would have offset approximately 76,770 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime.
Cougar Energy has announced that its CEO, Dr Len Walker, will step down from his position, but will remain as the company’s Executive Director.
The company announced Dr Walker’s decision following a build-up of its executive base, and will now commence a recruitment process for the new CEO.
“The past few years have been extremely challenging, particularly given the political motivation evident in the shut-down of our Kingaroy plant,” Dr Walker said.
“Pressing forward from this experience has only been possible because of the dedication of all our existing staff. The appointment of a new CEO will inject new energy into the Company as it expands and develops its project options in the Asian region.”
The announcement comes as the company continues its preparations for a legal dispute in the Queensland courts after it accused the State Government of shutting down its Kingaroy plant with no evidence of any real or potential environmental risk.
Australian non-major lenders have significantly increased their share of the first home buyer and refinancing markets according to a recent report conducted by mortgage broker AFG.
AFG’s Competition Index found that non-major lenders had expanded their market share from between 22 per cent to 29 per cent of the first home buyer market.
According to the report, Suncorp emerged with the biggest increase, from 10.1 per cent to 14.8 per cent over a period of a year.
This figure is well above the market share of three of the 'Big Four' banking brands for April 2012 - 8.9% (ANZ), 8.0% (Westpac) and 1.5% (NAB). This approach is likely to have placed pressure on the risk profile of their book and it has been noticeable of late that Suncorp have taken steps to address this by focusing heavily on their offer for sub 80% LVR lending.
CBA, consistently strong in the first home buyers market, had a 22.9% market share last month. ING is another non major lender strong in the first home buyers market with a market share in April of 4.5%.
“First home buyers are a very important part of the overall market, both because they create momentum up the property chain and also because their attitudes signal future trends. Today's generation of first home buyers are very willing to look outside the majors for their mortgage needs. This is good news for competition going forward,” Mark Hewitt, General Manager of Sales and Operations at AFG said.
The full report can be found here (PDF)