More mental health support for veterans

New initiatives to improve the treatment and management of mental health concerns among Australia’s servicemen and women will be funded by the Morrison Government.

We will commit $100,000 for a Veteran Mental Health Outreach Pilot project to pull together the available information about a new way to provide specialised home-based healthcare for veterans and their families.

Our Government recognises that not all veterans are able to access traditional, community-based mental health services.

Our younger veterans, who suffer mental health conditions, can experience social or geographic isolation so this project will look at how health providers can better ‘reach out’ and provide home-based services.

The project will be run by the Remembrance Foundation, who are dedicated to the health, welfare and quality of life of Australia’s veteran and first responder communities.

This new funding is about getting on with providing the right support, at the right time, in the right place for our veterans and their families.

Phoenix Australia, the National Centre for Excellence in Posttraumatic Mental Health, will receive $650 000 to develop up-to-date clinical guidelines for the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is the second most common mental health problem next to depression, affecting over one million Australians at any point in time. It is particularly prevalent among veterans and tragically has a high association with suicide.

Australia’s National Guidelines – which help medical professionals provide the best evidence-based treatment – were first written in 2007.

It is time to incorporate new research and the latest information so our health professionals have the tools they need to prevent, intervene early and treat PTSD.

The funding announced today will enable Phoenix Australia to modernise, revise and expand the guidelines to incorporate new developments that will help veterans on the road to recovery.

Phoenix Australia will work with content area experts in all areas of trauma to develop new clinical guidelines and incorporate the latest evidence and best-practice approaches.

The guidelines will be a living document and will continue to be updated as ground-breaking research becomes available. The guidelines will improve frontline clinical services and supports to those affected by PTSD.

We are also providing a $50 000 contribution to establish a permanent memorial garden in honour of fallen Afghanistan soldiers and their families in Queensland.

The funding will go to the non-for-profit organisation 42for42. They will build a memorial garden in the grounds of Suncorp Stadium, Milton, Queensland. The 42 stands for the 41 soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan, with the 42nd representing the soldiers who have died by suicide, and those who have returned with injuries and mental illness.

These announcements builds on the $1.4 billion we are investing for fairer indexation of defence force pensions, free mental health care for all veterans and our veterans to work program.

We can never thank our servicemen and women enough for their courage, on and off the battlefield.

NBN broadband speeds much improved for most, but not all

Competition among internet service providers (ISP) to perform well in the ACCC’s speed tests is delivering good results for fixed-line NBN customers, although some consumers continue to receive substantially slower speeds than typically available to other consumers on the same plan.

This third ACCC Measuring Broadband Australia (MBA) report, prepared for the ACCC by SamKnows, provides new data on the performance of NBN services from major ISPs.

The ISP with the fastest broadband this quarter was TPG followed by Aussie Broadband, iiNet, Optus, Telstra and MyRepublic, with the latter picking up speed considerably on the last quarter.

Overall, 69 per cent of all tests continued to achieve download speeds of above 90 per cent of maximum plan speeds, while seven per cent of tests recorded less than 50 per cent of the maximum.

“Industry says it is working hard to contact customers whose NBN connections aren’t able to deliver the maximum speeds of their plan,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We encourage customers who aren’t getting the speeds they expected to contact their internet service provider to see if they need to change plans. We will continue to closely monitor the progress of industry in remedying this issue.”

The good news for customers is that broadband speeds did not slow significantly in the busy hours (7-11pm), with average speeds across all busy hours reducing by just 1 percentage point compared with the average. This was true for both standard speed plans and the increasing number of consumers on higher speed NBN plans.

NBN services continued to outperform ADSL services, with NBN plans sold with a maximum speed of 25 Mbps on average achieving a download speed of 22.7 Mbps during the busy hour, three times the average busy hour download speed recorded for ADSL plans.

“We are pleased that the Measuring Broadband Australia program is being taken very seriously by internet service providers and is delivering noticeable improvements to customers’ broadband speeds,” Mr Sims said.

“We note NBN Co has reported that congestion has increased slightly in recent months. Our results suggest that ISPs not featured in this report could be contributing to this, as the overall results featured in this MBA report do not show an upward trend in congestion.”

“We want to encourage consumers, particularly those with smaller internet service providers, to register their interest in the program so we can provide statistically significant results for a wider range of services,” Mr Sims said.

“Volunteers are making a real difference to Australia’s broadband performance but we don’t yet have the full picture, and strongly encourage more people to sign up.”

In each report, the ACCC explores a particular issue in more depth, with the focus of this one on the difference in busy hour broadband performance between NBN urban services and NBN regional services.

Urban services, which are those provided in towns with a population of over 10,000, receive higher speeds than regional services, but the difference is not significant, with those in urban areas receiving 84.8 per cent of maximum speeds on average compared with 83 per cent per cent of speeds in regional areas.

More charges laid over group helping parental abductions of children

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has served Notices to Appear on three people in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD) as part of a long-running investigation into a group allegedly assisting the parental abduction of children across Australia.

This is the second phase of police action following the arrest of three people on Wednesday, 17 October 2018, and subsequent action to summons two other people to appear before court.

Operation Noetic investigators served notices on a 75 year-old Elizabeth Beach (Taree) woman, a 68-year-old Newcastle woman and a 46-year-old Townsville woman. Search warrants were also conducted on four premises in NSW, QLD and Victoria.

The 75-year-old Taree woman will be charged with:

  • Conspiracy to defeat justice, contrary to s42 of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

The 68-year-old Newcastle woman will be charged with:

  • Conspiracy to defeat justice, contrary to s42 of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).
  • 1x child stealing, contrary to s363 of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld).

The 46-year-old Townsville woman will be charged with:

  • Conspiracy to defeat justice, contrary to s42 of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).
  • 1x child stealing, contrary to s363 of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld).

The offence of conspiracy to defeat justice carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. The offence of child stealing carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment.

The 75-year-old Taree woman and 68-year-old Newcastle woman are scheduled to appear before the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 7 December 2018.

The 46-year-old Townsville woman is scheduled to appear before the Townsville Magistrates Court on 20 December 2018.

It will be alleged in court the three women were a principal part of the group’s activities, with active roles in supporting the abduction of three children in contravention of two family law orders. All three children were safely located by the AFP earlier this year.

Police will allege these people provided assistance to the group’s organisers in providing transport, accommodation and other support to allow two women to evade law enforcement detection.

Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz, National Manager Crime Operations, said this week’s action highlighted the risk people face if they choose to take the law into their own hands.

“The actions of these people in deliberately ignoring court orders and helping hide children from their extended families, the Courts and law enforcement cannot be justified. This activity has the potential to significantly endanger the safety and wellbeing of children,” Assistant Commissioner Platz said.

“Parental child abduction can have harmful physical and emotional effects on the children abducted. They can suffer the loss of contact with their family and friends, miss their educational stability and are often hidden away from people around them. They are removed from almost everything familiar to them including their toys, daily routine, and sometimes even their name.

“We want to thank all those people who have come forward after our previous appeal for information from those who may have helped this group, either knowingly or inadvertently.”

Any person with information is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Seniors to Benefit from Remote Aged Care Workforce Accord

Senior Australians living in remote areas will benefit from a targeted new initiative to sustain, support and expand the aged care workforce in remote communities.

“I welcome this move, which involves experienced remote aged care providers and expert organisations taking up the Accord on the Remote Aged Care Workforce, part of our Government’s landmark Aged Care Workforce Strategy,” said Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM.

“The Accord group will provide a unified voice for remote and very remote age care services and is expected to meet at least four times a year.

“The industry-led Accord recognises the unique challenges and the importance of finding local solutions to support a safe and rewarding working environment to attract and retain remote area workers.

“The group will focus on practical action, with the aim of supporting senior Australians to live close to home with the care they need, provided by people they know and trust, who are well trained and connected with their communities.”

Accord Chair is Chris Hall, CEO of Juniper WA. Deputy Chair is Praveen Gopal, Operations Manager, Aged Care and Disability Services at MacDonnell Regional Council, Northern Territory.

Professor John Pollaers OAM, Chair of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce, said: “The Remote Accord will help lead the industry in maximising local workforce development and designing training and education experiences suited to people in remote settings.

“It will also work with communities to support the safety of the aged care workforce, and liaise with governments on appropriate program and policy settings for better remote aged care delivery.”

The Accord is part of continuing efforts by the industry, with the support of the Liberal National Government, to find new and innovative ways to provide services to senior Australians living in remote communities.

The Accord will complement extensive new Government funding and places for regional and remote aged care, including $40 million for capital works and expansions, $105.7 million for an additional 900 residential and home care places for First Nations aged care, and the regional priority given to the more than 14,000 new residential places allocated in 2018.

The Aged Care Workforce Strategy includes practical actions to grow the professional workforce and attract, train and retain skilled and talented staff to work in aged care services in a variety of settings.

For more about the remote accord and the workforce strategy go to the Department of Health’s website.

Man charged following wilful and obscene exposure – The Entrance

A man will face court today after he was arrested following a wilful and obscene exposure incident at The Entrance yesterday.

Just after 10.30pm (Tuesday 6 November 2018), police attended the ocean baths at The Entrance after receiving information about a man allegedly conducting an indecent act in view of several women.

Police located a man nearby and he was arrested and taken to Wyong Police Station.

The 34-year-old man was charged with an act of indecency and wilful and obscene exposure in a public place.

He was refused bail and will appear in Wyong Local Court today (Tuesday 6 November 2018).

Inquiries are continuing.

Man bitten by shark – Ballina

A man has been injured after being bitten by a shark on the NSW North Coast.

About 6.45am (Wednesday 7 November 2018), a 43-year-old local man was surfing at Shelley Beach, Ballina, when he was bitten on the left calf by a shark.

He brought himself to shore and was given first aid by his friends. The man then attended Ballina Hospital for treatment.

The injury is not life threatening.

Officers from Richmond Police District attended the beach and liaised with Surf Life Saving NSW. Jet skis and a drone have been deployed to survey the area.

Shelley Beach and surrounding beaches have been closed for 24 hours.

Officers seized the surf board and are liaising with Department of Primary Industries to identify the species.

Beachgoers are urged to follow safety advice, by visiting the Department of Primary Industry’s website and the SharkSmart app.

Eternal Flame to be unveiled Sunday

Novocastrians are invited to the unveiling of the City’s first Eternal Flame at Civic Park this Sunday in celebration of the centenary of Armistice Day.

The new monument, housed in a stone plinth and built of the same granite as the adjacent Word War Two cenotaph, will occupy a special place in the heart of many Novocastrians, whose late and living relatives will be honoured by the permanent memorial.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the flame – which will be ignited for the first time during the ceremony – would honour all war veterans – past, present and future. It will be surrounded by new paving etched with the solemn words of the Ode of Remembrance and four new nine-metre flagpoles, from which the Australian, Aboriginal, British and the City of Newcastle flags will fly.

“It will be a great honour to unveil this amazing tribute on Sunday,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We are a city steeped in war history, and it’s important for us to continue to pass the stories and memories down to future generations through important public ceremonies and memorials.”

Armistice Day – also known as Remembrance Day – closed the chapter on four years of continuous fighting along the Western front, after millions of men and women had lost their lives. Sunday will mark 100 years since the ceasefire between the Allies and the German Army.

“We have been working closely with the Newcastle Veterans community and the Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon MP to deliver this significant and lasting tribute to Novocastrians who have served our country in times of war,” Cr Nelmes said.

“To see it come to fruition on this milestone day in war history is a true testament to the respect and admiration we hold for our past and present war heroes.”

Newcastle now stands alongside some of the great cities that have memorials with an Eternal Flame. Iconic monuments such as the Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, Washington DC’s Kennedy Memorial and Australia’s very own War Memorial in Canberra.

The project is a joint initiative by the City of Newcastle and the Australian Government, following a successful Lord Mayoral Minute and grant application through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).

The public is invited to gather at Civic Park from 10:15am before the official ceremony at 10:30am.

Deliver protection for LGBT+ students and staff in religious schools now, not after election: Greens

The Morrison government must deliver now on its promise to remove discrimination against LGBT+ students in religious schools, and include teachers and staff, say the Greens.

“With even some religious schools now joining the call for this discrimination to end, it’s time for parliamentarians to get on with the job and remove religious schools’ ability to expel and fire LGBT+ students and staff,” said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson.

“We need to protect LGBT+ students and staff from discrimination in schools now. Not next year, not after the federal election.”

“When the heat was on in Wentworth, Prime Minister Morrison said discrimination against LGBT+ students would be removed by the end of the following week. Yet we’re still waiting.”

“The Greens have a bill before the Senate right now. If the Morrison government supports it and we could remove discrimination in our schools against both LGBT+ students and staff by the end of the next sitting week.”

Statement from Senator Hanson-Young regarding NSW police officer guilty plea

“In July, in the midst of the public debate regarding comments made by Senator Leyonhjelm about me, a NSW police officer called my office and made a vile threat towards my daughter,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“Vile threats such as these are unacceptable on every level. I am thankful that the police found the person responsible and he has been charged and pleaded guilty in court.

“This matter is deeply distressing for me, my family, and my staff. Everybody has the right to feel safe in their homes, their workplaces and their community.

“Since this was made public I have received widespread support from decent people in our community. I am sincerely grateful to those who have kindly reached out.”

Greens call for rebel MPs not to be punished for voting for Live Export Ban

Australian Greens Animal Welfare Spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, and Australian Greens Leader, Senator Di Natale, have written to the Prime Minister demanding a free vote on their live export bill, which passed the Senate in September. They have also called for Liberal MPs who want to support the bill not to be punished by the party.

Several Liberal MPs, such as Sussan Ley MP, Sarah Hendersen MP and Jason Wood MP have expressed deep concerns about Live Exports and the Greens believe they could vote for the bill if it were brought on for a vote. Ms Ley and Ms Henderson risk losing their outer ministry if they cross the floor. The letter is available <a href=”… bill would ban live sheep shipments to the Middle East during the Northern Summer, then completely ban shipments after a five year phase out period.

Senator Faruqi said: “I appeal to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to allow a vote on live exports and to not punish MPs who vote with their conscience. He needs to respect democracy and recognise that a majority of the Parliament, not to mention the community, want this trade shut down. He needs to allow a free vote with no retribution for those that care about animal welfare issues”

“We know there are people in the Liberal Party who would support ending the worst aspects of the live sheep trade if a free vote were allowed in the House of Representatives. “The Live Export industry deserves no more chances” she concluded.