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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27458" align="alignnone" width="279"] Julie Inman Grant is the Children’s eSafety Commissioner.[/caption]

The Federal Government will rename the Children’s eSafety Commissioner just the eSafety Commissioner, entrusting the office to “enhance online safety for all Australians and provide clarity for reporting online safety issues”.

The changes allow the eSafety Commissioner to be tasked with improving the digital confidence and skills of senior citizens as well, and to establish a national online complaints mechanism where victims can report cases of intimate photos or videos being posted without consent (image-based abuse) and access support.

The changes will make it easier for the public to identify where they can seek assistance and advice on a range of online safety issues. The amendments only relate to the general functions of the commissioner and do not relate to the cyberbullying complaints scheme, which addresses material that is targeted at children.

Prior to the last election, the Liberals promised to spend $50 million to improve the digital literacy of seniors and improve their safety online, by developing a digital inclusion and online safety strategy for them.

The digital literacy strategy’s aim is to complement existing programs and draw on the expertise and knowledge of the community sector to develop an appropriate package of support to improve the digital literacy and safety of seniors online.

It targets seniors who have access to existing devices and aims to support them to learn how to take full advantage to keep in touch and stay connected, without exposing themselves to online abuse.

The government had also promised to spend $10 million on:
  • Establishing a national online complaints mechanism where victims can report cases of intimate photos or videos being posted without consent (‘revenge porn’) and access immediate and tangible support.
  • Countering the impact of pornography in society with targeted information and educational resources to shift attitudes and behaviours in young people.
  • Identifying gaps in, and impediments to, information sharing about victims and perpetrators of domestic, family and sexual violence between jurisdictions.
  • Strengthening research and data collection around the forms of violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
These initiatives will now also fall under the authority of the eSafety Commissioner. Feedback sought In addition, the government is currently seeking feedback on implementing civil penalties for the non-consensual sharing of intimate images (‘revenge porn’). Submissions can be made through the Department of Communications and the Arts’ ‘Have your say’ website. [post_title] => Children’s eSafety Commissioner to look after all ages [post_excerpt] => The Children’s eSafety Commissioner will be renamed just the eSafety Commissioner, to “enhance online safety for all Australians”. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => childrens-esafety-commissioner-look-ages [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-23 13:41:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-23 03:41:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27457 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27429 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-19 12:45:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-19 02:45:11 [post_content] =>   A senior public official from Victoria’s Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB) executed an elaborate deception to employ her two sons by encouraging them to change their names and falsify their CVs. The Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass’ report into the scam, released today [Monday], uncovered a case of naked nepotism within the metropolitan Melbourne fire service that she said had cost the public more than $400,000 over a number of years.     The MFB’s Chief Information Officer, Mary Powderly-Hughes, hid her relationship to her son, David Hewson, when she hired him in July 2014. She employed her other son, Barry Robinson, two years’ later to backfill Mr Hewson’s position after she handing him a permanent role as the Manager of IT Administration, Finance, Procurement and Projects. Leaving nothing to chance, Ms Powderly-Hughes typed her sons CVs, faked their employment history and told them the interview questions beforehand. She also pretended to carry out reference checks after interviewing them. To make doubly sure her second son got over the line for a procurement manager role, Mrs Powderly-Hughes ‘interviewed’ Mr Robinson at her home and drilled him in IT finance packages, despite him being woefully underqualified for the role and ordinarily working as a motor mechanic. The three were sprung after a whistleblower reported their concerns to the Ombudsman. “I have my suspicions that Mary Powderly Hughes has hired her son, or family member, or someone with a very close connection and I think she’s manipulated things to make sure he got the job when it became permanent. When he was a contractor he quickly got a rate rise, which is quite rare for most people,” the manager told Ms Glass. The Ombudsman investigated the tangled web the trio had weaved using social media and official records. Officers matched Mr Hewson’s mobile phone number listed on his MFB emails with his role as Treasurer of the local cricket club. They then matched his personal email address with a Facebook account for a Mr Hughes, which revealed the suburb he lived in, the same as the cricket club. The Victorian Electoral roll listed a David Patrick Powderly-Hughes in the same suburb. Mr Hughes Facebook account also showed he had previously worked for Parks Victoria, which Mrs Powderly Hughes had also listed in her past jobs on her LinkedIn account. A search of the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages showed that the men were her sons and had both changed their names a few weeks’ before starting work at MFB. Ms Glass said the case was an egregious example of self-interest. “Some cases I have investigated over the years seem so unlikely you could not make them up. Except, as in this case, they did,” Ms Glass said. “The facts of the case are that a senior public official at the Metropolitan Fire Brigade hired her son, not declaring the relationship, having falsified his CV and coached him prior to interview, three weeks after he changed his name to conceal the relationship.  “After giving him a pay rise and moving him into a permanent role, she then hired her second son, also falsifying his CV and “interviewing” him at her home after he, too, had changed his name to conceal the relationship,” said Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass.  Ms Glass said she had rarely come across such blatant and calculated behaviour. “Often the cases are minor, although wrong. Not this time, this was a case of deception where the family nest was feathered, plain and simple.”  Unsurprisingly, all three have left MFB since the investigation blew up. Ms Powderly-Hughes resigned on the day of her interview with the Ombudsman and both of her sons have since been sacked. Ms Glass said cases were often difficult to detect and she underlined the importance of colleagues raising the alarm if they saw anything suspicious going on at work. “The case also serves as a salient reminder of the importance of disclosers acting on suspicion that something is awry in their workplace. More often than not, as the saying goes, where there is smoke, there is fire.” She said that while the agency could not be held responsible for the deception perpetrated upon it in this case it needed to beef up its conflict of interest policies. [post_title] => Senior public official secretly employs sons after name changes and doctored CVs [post_excerpt] => Pretend reference checks and pay rises for the family. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => senior-public-official-secretly-employs-sons-change-names-falsify-cvs [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-19 14:22:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-19 04:22:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27429 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27374 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-06-13 12:52:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-13 02:52:02 [post_content] =>   By Lucy Marrett  The 7-Eleven wage repayment scheme has so far repaid over $110 million in unpaid wages. However former wage repayment chairman Professor Allan Fels has raised concerns about minimal fines. The current payout has eclipsed penalties under existing laws and raised questions about a new law that the Federal Government has proposed, Sydney Morning Herald reported. Mr Fels said the fines imposed under the existing laws would be minimal in comparison to the 7-Eleven payouts. “The far stronger deterrent effect for others is if they know they have to make up the underpayments in full – in this case $110 million plus, compared to if they just have to pay a fine,” he said. “The Fair Work Act system just imposes fines and very limited compensation on the individuals whose cases are considered. But the court system works quite badly for systematic underpayment of thousands of people.” Read more here. This story first appeared in C&I Week.  [post_title] => 7-Eleven compensation claims hit $110m [post_excerpt] => Payouts better than fines, says Fels. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 7-eleven-compensation-claims-hit-110m [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-13 12:58:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-13 02:58:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27374 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27361 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-13 11:10:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-13 01:10:21 [post_content] =>   Affordable housing, infrastructure spending, mental health, new schools, family violence and drug courts and 6,000 more public servants are expected to be some of the cornerstones of Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s budget today (Tuesday). It is a budget with real heart, with a focus on people doing it tough, whether it is people battling drug addiction or poor mental health, children in unsafe situations or those who cannot afford a secure place to live and one likely to help Ms Palaszcuk's bid for re-election in around six month's time. One of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s biggest ticket items in today’s budget, which will be announced around 2.30pm, will be $1.8 billion for social and affordable housing under the state’s new 10-year Queensland Housing Strategy. The money will be used to build 4,522 new social homes and 1,034 affordable homes and introduce targets for social and affordable housing of between 5 to 25 per cent for new homes built on state land. It also includes $20 million for new Youth Foyers in Townsville and the Gold Coast and expanding the Logan foyer. The service, run by Wesley Mission, provides supported accommodation and social and emotional support for marginalised young people aged 16 to 25. The government has also committed to creating housing and homelessness hubs; $30 million to reform the housing system and $75 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander home ownership. It is expected there will be 450 full-time construction jobs created a year. Ms Palaszczuk called the $1.8 billion investment ‘a launch pad for opportunity and aspiration’. “Secure housing enables young people to finish their education. It provides the stability that keeps families together. And it gives people the secure base they need to get and keep a job,” she said. Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt said state-wide expressions of interest for initial projects would be online from today. “Our ten-year construction program provides industry with a stable and predictable program of work so they can have certainty,” Mr Pitt said. “This is about best practice procurement, working to match projects to appropriate partners, creating opportunities for small, medium and large businesses. Whether you are a small home builder or one of the state’s largest developers there is something in this construction package for you.” Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the strategy would leverage investment from the private sector create ‘genuine affordable housing’ in the state on underused government land. “This strategy is a big win for local builders and tradies in the residential sector across the state,” Mr de Brenni said. “This strategy is about partnering with the private sector and community housing providers to create genuine affordable housing, something that hasn’t been done at scale in this country in decades.” Housing affordability has been a key component of state and federal budgets of late. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a suite of housing measures earlier this month but the reforms were focused more on helping out first home buyers with stamp duty concessions and grants, increasing duties and taxes for foreign property investors and speeding up development applications. Housing was also top-of-mind for Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison in his May Budget when he announced a bond aggregator scheme, which hopes to attract large-scale private investment into affordable housing by helping not-for-profit community housing providers borrow more cheaply. Mr Morrison also introduced a super deposit scheme to enable first home buyers amass a deposit more quickly and but he pointedly refused to touch either negative gearing or capital gains tax discounts. Other Queensland Budget measures include: • Another $2 billion towards Brisbane's $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project, a 10.2km inner-city rail link between Dutton Park and Bowen Hill, taking the state’s contribution to half • $75 million for the Townsville Port expansion • Upgrading the Sciencentre at the Queensland Museum on the South Bank ($9.4 million) • $16 billion for health, including expanding mental health services and replacing the Barrett Centre, Queensland’s only residential centre for youth with severe mental health problems • $13 billion for education to build new high schools in Fortitude Valley and South Brisbane and buy land for four more regional high schools • New domestic and family violence courts at Townsville and Beenleigh and making Southport court permanent ($69.5 million) • Reinstating the Drug Court in Brisbane to help rehabilitate offenders and overcome substance dependence ($22.7 million over four years) • A $200 million child safety package including 292 child safety staff, money to recruit an extra 1000 foster carers and $7.4 million to support families where a person has become addicted to ice • $155 million for counter-terror policing with 30 more police officers in Brisbane and 20 in the regions and $46.7 million for a counter-terrorism facility at Wacol • $1.1 billion for electricity projects and subsidies [post_title] => A Queensland budget with heart: Palaszczuk prepares for re-election [post_excerpt] => Cash for health, housing, kids and courts. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => queensland-budget-prepares-palaszczuk-re-election [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-13 11:10:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-13 01:10:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27361 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27233 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-05-26 05:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-25 19:00:00 [post_content] =>   By Andy Young The Liquor Stores Association NSW (LSA NSW) has welcomed the proposed changes to the state’s Three Strikes Disciplinary Scheme, which are currently before Parliament as part of the Liquor Amendment (Reviews) Bill 2017. The Bill is the State Government’s response to the comprehensive review undertaken by the Hon Ian Callinan AC QC last year, which recommended a range of reforms to NSW’s liquor laws, including changes to the Three Strikes Scheme. LSA NSW Executive Director Michael Waters has welcomed the proposed changes, calling them “sensible and pragmatic”. “The proposed changes to the Three Strikes Scheme as part of the Liquor Amendment (Reviews) Bill 2017 are sensible, pragmatic, and have been long-awaited by industry," Waters said. “Having provision for a proper appeals process, and strikes for serious breaches of liquor laws to be incurred by individual licensees, rather than being attached to the actual licence, are important and common sense improvements that reinforces the importance of making servers directly accountable for their actions.     Read more here.  This story first appeared in The Shout.  [post_title] => Changes to NSW Three Strikes Scheme welcomed [post_excerpt] => Breaches attached to licensees, not licenses. 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By Andy Young The NSW RSL is set to face an independent inquiry, which will look into allegations of financial misconduct which have plagued the organisation. The NSW State Government will reveal the details of the inquiry later today, but it will be headed by former NSW Supreme Court justice Patricia Bergin SC. It is expected the inquiry will have royal commission-like powers to compel witnesses to appear and be able to seize evidence. The inquiry comes after a series of allegations of financial rorting by the RSL's NSW branch, which have already seen an inquiry by Australia's charities watchdog. In December former NSW RSL president Don Rowe was referred to NSW Police over claims he used his corporate credit card to withdraw $200,000 in cash. NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Matt Kean today told the ABC, that enough was enough and it was time to be clear on what was happening at the RSL. "We will get to the bottom of these allegations once and for all," Kean said. "These are serious complaints and the fact that they've allegedly been committed in the name of one of our oldest and most respected institutions is totally unacceptable. "We want to clean up the mess and make sure it never happens again." Veterans Affairs Minister David Elliott told Fairfax Media that he was "completely fed up". "Based on the emails, letters and conversations I have with veterans around NSW, as well as their sub-branches, there is overwhelming support for the government to intervene," Elliott said. "It is heartbreaking to see the NSW RSL trashed in such a way and this is an opportunity to restore public confidence in this iconic organisation." Ministers Elliott and Kean will address media this afternoon to announce the full details of the inquiry.   This story first appeared in The Shout. 
[post_title] => NSW Government to launch independent RSL inquiry [post_excerpt] => Amidst allegations of financial rorting. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-government-launch-independent-rsl-inquiry [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-16 15:50:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-16 05:50:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27126 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27047 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-04 15:28:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-04 05:28:59 [post_content] => Corruption and Crime Commission head John McKechnie. Pic: YouTube.  Western Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) has denounced the former Chief Executive of Exmouth Shire Council for serious misconduct after he flouted local government tender rules on a multi-million dollar project; fraudulently charged booze, cabs and hire cars to the council’s credit card; approved his own leave; faked documents; lied and chucked sickies. CCC head and former Supreme Court Judge John McKechnie QC found that the council’s CEO, Bill Price, did not put a $32 million contract for a science hub and aquarium at Ningaloo Reef out to tender; charged personal expenses to the corporate credit card; approved his own leave or did not log any leave; did dodgy deals for friends and covered up his wrongdoing when he realised the CCC was onto him after council officers tipped them off. Mr McKechnie said: “Any good that he had done was overshadowed by his arrogation of power. He was a law unto himself. “Serious misconduct flourishes when there is inadequate governance, whether due to friendship, ignorance or some other reason. Serious misconduct flourished in Exmouth.” Disgraced Exmouth Council CEO Bill Price. Pic: LinkedIn He said the CEO should set standards of honesty and integrity for Exmouth Council staff, “If the CEO is rorting the system, how can council, ratepayers or staff have any confidence in the executive?” The report also slammed the council for showing “stunning indifference” to Mr Price’s egregious behaviour, despite being alerted to it by the CCC. In fact, the council gave him an extra two weeks’ annual leave while the investigation was in full swing. The council only acted when the Minister for Local Government and Communities, Paul Miles, intervened. The CCC found that Mr Price:
  • Saddled Exmouth Council with a possible $1 million debt after signing a contract with a new company with no assets that it had failed to investigate
  • Lied to the council about it and forged documents
  • Had never had his leave approved by any of the three councils he had worked in as CEO
  • Used the council’s credit card to pay for dinners, hire cars, alcohol and taxis while on leave or relaxing at the weekend
  • Faked a sick day and went to the Perth Caravan and Camping Show instead
  • Concocted a fictitious rental agreement to give his friend (also employed by the council) tax-free income he was not entitled to
Exmouth Council dismissed Mr Price in December 2016 and the CCC has recommended charges be laid against him. Councillors were suspended for six months and mandated to do training. A new CEO, Cameron Woods, was appointed on April 27. Mr McKechnie said that Exmouth Council’s failings were symptomatic of the ‘structural weaknesses in local government’ in the state as a whole and said that 34 of the state's local councils were at high or medium risk of corruption.  All of the 16 high risk councils were in regional WA and 16 of the remaining 18, which were classed as medium risk, were in rural areas. The structural weaknesses identified included:
  • A culture of entitlement
  • Flouting of local government policy
  • Very significant procurement and contract management left to administrators who were not necessarily properly qualified, experienced or monitored
  • Councillors ill-equipped to manage complex and often high-stakes activities, particularly in procurement and contract management
  • Confusion among councillors about what they can ask administrative staff
  • Difficulty and conflicts arising for people aware of potentially corrupt activity but reticent to speak up
Mr McKechnie told ABC radio that procurement was the area of council business most vulnerable to corruption, probably because of the risk created by close friendships, particularly in smaller places. "The issue is in procurement, lax governments and often people who are friends and, quite bluntly, incompetence - people who have not got the skills to manage budgets of many millions of dollars or oversight a CEO who may arrogantly assert power," Mr McKechnie said. "If I give you tickets to shows, pay for holidays or renovations at your house at cut prices, who's to know? "You have to recognise that friendship is one thing but when you are elected to a position, ignorance is no longer an excuse. You are responsible for governance of that local authority and cannot let friendship or ignorance get in the way of good governance." The scandal has led to WA Auditor-General Colin Murphy being given powers to audit local councils in the future. But WA Local Government Association president Lynne Craigie said the report unfairly tarred all WA local councils with the same brush and she rejected suggestions of widespread mismanagement among the state’s regional councils. “The local government sector accepts significant issues with a small number of councils and does not set out to defend those who have done wrong, but also should not share in the blame,” Ms Craigie said. “For the CCC Commissioner to claim that councils have very little idea of their responsibilities or don’t have the required skills is an unfair generalisation and an insult to most who work hard for their communities.” [post_title] => Council CEO ‘a law unto himself’ says Corruption and Crime Commission head [post_excerpt] => Ratepayers pay for council boss’ booze, cabs and dinners. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27047 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-04 15:28:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-04 05:28:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27047 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26994 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-28 11:43:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-28 01:43:21 [post_content] =>

The Canberra school cleaners who took their underpayment claim to the Federal Court. Source: United Voice   By Claire Hibbit 
A Canberra-based cleaning company, which was contracted to clean 10 public schools in the ACT, has been found guilty of Fair Work Act breaches for underpayments. United Voice launched the case against Philip Cleaning Services on behalf of 22 workers in 2015, alleging in court documents that some of the cleaners were owed almost $25,000. Of the 22 workers, 19 are S’gaw Karen refugees from Myanmar and Thailand, who spent two decades in refugee camps in Thailand before being resettled in Australia. According to United Voice, the permanent part-time school cleaners were pressured into signing contracts they did not understand, variously paid from different business entities (without explanation either to the workers or the ACT Government) and routinely exposed to unsafe working conditions. Read more here. This story first appeared in INCLEAN.
[post_title] => Canberra school cleaning company guilty of Fair Work Act breaches [post_excerpt] => Some workers owed almost $25k. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => canberra-cleaning-company-guilty-fair-work-act-breaches [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-28 11:43:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-28 01:43:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26994 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26882 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-11 11:00:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-11 01:00:53 [post_content] => Newtown's nightlife has intensified since the 2014 lockout laws came in. Pic: Google Images.    By Lecturer in Criminology, UNSW This story first appeared in The Conversation.     It is vital that public policy be driven by rigorous research. In the last decade key policy changes have had profound impacts on nightlife in Sydney’s inner city and suburbs. The most significant and controversial of these has been the 2014 “lockout laws”. These were a series of legislative and regulatory policies aimed at reducing alcohol-related violence and disorder through new criminal penalties and key trading restrictions, including 1.30am lockouts and a 3am end to service in select urban “hotspots”. A range of lobbyists, including New South Wales Police and accident and emergency services, welcomed these initiatives. By contrast, venue operators, industry organisations and patron groups have made repeated but largely anecdotal claims that these changes caused a sharp downturn in profit, employment and cultural vibrancy in targeted areas. They also claim that the “lockouts” have caused drinking-related problems to spill over into urban areas that are less equipped to cope with them.

Crime is down

However, in late 2016, the Callinan Review referenced compelling evidence in support of the current policy. According to the latest research, recorded rates of crime are down by around 49% in the designated Kings Cross precinct and 13% in Sydney’s CBD. In contrast, what little research has been produced by opponents of strict nightlife regulation has been criticised as unreliable, inaccurate and poorly deployed.  
The pattern of assaults has shifted since the lockout laws began. BOCSAR, Author provided
The Callinan Review noted the lack of verifiable claims about the negative impacts of the policy in submissions from the main opponents of the lockout laws. This has led to a great deal of assumption in the final report about where, for example, revellers, jobs, entertainment and revenue might have been displaced to, or how the policy changes affected them. In many respects, the passing over of claims made by anti-lockout groups is rather unfair. These groups are not official state bodies with the capacity to produce the type of data or evidence on which the policy has been justified and defended. As such, their “unscientific” observations and experiences have been largely dismissed. To critically balance and juxtapose opposing claims, more impact data and research are needed.

We must take a city-wide perspective

If the lockout policy is judged on the original goal of decreasing crime in designated “hotspots”, then it appears to have been a success. However, from a city-wide perspective there are other issues to consider. Not the least of these is the effects in other nightlife sites across Sydney. Despite initially finding no displacement of violence to nearby nightlife sites, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has just released findings showing significant displacement in rates of recorded non-domestic-related violence in destinations outside the lockout zone. Reported crime rates in Newtown, one of the displacement sites listed in the BOCSAR study (along with Bondi and Double Bay), increased by 17% in the 32 months following the lockouts. These new findings appear to vindicate some local complaints about increased night violence – including attacks targeting LGBTI victims – that has led to much resident irritation and even political protest in recent years.

Adjusting our nightlife habits

So, how can we better judge the veracity of these claims about the displacement of nuisance and violence? Mapping patronage trends is a key means of understanding how and why rates of assault have now increased despite initially showing little to no change. To this end, Kevin McIsaac and I, with data from Transport for NSW, have set out to ascertain if and how nightlife participation in Sydney has been influenced by the lockouts. Our analysis focused on night-time aggregated train validation data (turnstile counts) from January 2013 to July 2016 for stations servicing the designated nightlife precincts (Kings Cross, Town Hall) and precincts outside the lock-out zone (Newtown, Parramatta). Using Bayesian Change Point (BCP) detection we found the following:
  • no evidence of changes to Kings Cross or Parramatta exit traffic from the introduction of the lockout laws;
  • evidence of strong growth in the Parramatta Friday-night exit traffic by about 200% since January 2013, which is independent of the lockout laws;
  • evidence of an increase of about 300% in the Newtown Friday-night exit traffic as a result of the lock-out laws; and
  • in all stations, the BCP algorithm detected a change when OPAL card usage exceeded magnetic ticket usage. This suggests the jumps seen in the graphs below are due to the higher exit reporting from OPAL. The switch from flat to slow growth in trend is probably an artefact of the relative increase in OPAL usage.
Kings Cross change point Friday night.
Kings Cross change point Saturday night.
Newtown change point Friday night.
Newtown change point Saturday night.
Parramatta change point Friday night.
Parramatta change point Saturday night.
  These findings provide new insights into the way people have adjusted their nightlife habits. The most interesting finding is the dramatic increase in access to Newtown nightlife. Exits in Newtown have increased 300% since the lock-outs were introduced in 2014. As can be seen from the graph, the rate of increase has been steady over the study period. This raises questions about whether there is a threshold at which patron density becomes an issue that potentially results in increased nuisance and violence.

Big data’s capacity to help

While this research is still in its early phases, the transport data tell one small, yet significant, part of the story. However, to draw definite conclusions, there is far more that needs to be considered. Many nightlife patrons travel into the city by different means, or don’t travel at all (those who live in and around the city). We need alternative data to try to identify patterns concerning these groups. Several different organisations have data that could help paint a more complete picture, including telcos, Google, Taxis NSW and Uber. While these organisations should be protective of their data, the value of anonymous aggregate location data is how it can inform and advance public policy through ethical research. This information is key to breaking down access barriers. Without access to these anonymous aggregations of privately controlled data, the capacity of research is limited. As such, there is a need for greater communication, collaboration and co-operation between producers of big data, the government and researchers into social impact. By building stronger evidence for all manner of policies, such partnerships have an amazing potential to contribute to the public good. [post_title] => Public transport data begins to reveal true impact of Sydney's lockout laws [post_excerpt] => Newtown's 300% nightlife jump. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26882 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-02 15:16:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-02 05:16:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26882 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26574 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-20 11:50:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-20 00:50:31 [post_content] =>   The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fitted GPS trackers onto vehicles suspected of illegally dumping building and demolition waste, including asbestos. NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the trackers were fitted after a covert EPA investigation into illegal dumping last year. The trackers are fitted on a 12-month trial basis - with the owners’ knowledge - and it is illegal for drivers or owners to remove or tamper with them. If the trucks are transporting waste lawfully after this time the EPA has said it will consider removing the GPS devices. Ms Upton said the GPS system enabled the EPA to track the vehicles’ movements, alerting the authority if trucks travelled near known illegal dumping hotspots. “The NSW government is serious about cracking down on illegal dumpers – trial results show the trackers fitted to vehicles has deterred illegal activity and won’t just deter those being watched but others who think they can get away with dumping on our communities and environment,” Ms Upton said. She said the EPA would consider using tracking devices to monitor other vehicles accused of transporting or dumping waste unlawfully once the trial was complete. An EPA spokesperson said that preliminary results showed the trial had acted as a deterrent to illegal dumping, resulting in waste being transported and disposed of at lawful facilities. Local councils count the cost The scourge of illegal dumping is a huge problem for NSW and also for local councils, who are often saddled with the clean-up. Illegal dumping can be a health hazard, contaminating public land and waterways and poisoning wildlife. Dumping can also hinder roadworks and bushfire protection and block emergency access during a fire. An EPA spokesperson said that cleaning up illegally dumped material was a significant cost for local communities, councils and public land managers. She said that data showed that one in 10 LGAs spent $500,000 or more on education, enforcement, clean-up and other illegal-dumping activities each year.  A 2004 EPA survey found that construction and demolition waste made up about 12 per cent of waste illegally dumped in NSW and this is just waste the councils deal with.     The NSW government introduced tougher laws in 2014, including the power to install trackers onto vehicles and the ability to seize vehicles used in dumping offences. The fines for flouting the rules are steep. The EPA can issue on the spot fines of up to $15,000 for corporations and $7500 for individuals. If the case goes to court, a judge can impose a maximum penalty of $1 million and/or seven years prion imprisonment if an offence is committed wilfully. Illegal dumping incidents can be reported by calling the Environment Line on 131 555 or through the RID online reporting portal at ridonline.epa.nsw.gov.au   Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => GPS trackers fitted to vehicles that dump illegally [post_excerpt] => Environment Protection Agency gets tough. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => gps-trackers-fitted-trucks-dump-illegally [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-19 10:45:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-19 00:45:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26574 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26559 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-17 09:36:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-16 22:36:06 [post_content] => Big fine:  Soul Food in Narromine. Pic: Yelp.     By Danielle Bowling    A restaurant in regional NSW will back-pay more than $22,000 to 24 workers – including teenagers paid as little as $7 per hour –  following an audit by the Fair Work Ombudsman. Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors discovered the underpayments at Soul Food in Narromine, during an auditing campaign in the mid-western and northern regions of NSW last year. Inspectors found casual staff were paid between $7 and $20 an hour on weekdays and between $7 and $23 an hour on Saturdays, depending on their age. However, under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 at the time, the workers should have received ordinary hourly rates of between $11.06 and $22.76 on weekdays, and between $13.76 and $27.32 on Saturdays.   Read more here.   This story first appeared in Hospitality Magazine.  [post_title] => Fair Work orders NSW restaurant to backpay $22k to workers [post_excerpt] => Teens paid as little as $7 an hour. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fair-work-orders-nsw-restaurant-backpay-22k-workers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-17 10:08:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-16 23:08:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26559 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26489 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-10 09:52:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-09 22:52:11 [post_content] =>  Scott Leach, National and NSW President of the AHA     OPINION By Scott Leach, National and NSW President of the Australian Hotels Association.   Here’s an interesting fact you won’t have read about recently. After publicans in Newtown voluntarily came up with and adopted a raft of measures in September 2015, incidents of non-domestic assault in Newtown have fallen by 10.6 per cent. During the same trial period – again thanks to these measures – incidents of non-domestic assault occurring in Newtown’s licensed premises fell by an astonishing 51.8 per cent – or more than halved. Surprised? You should be given the latest release of yet another lot of figures on the Kings Cross/Sydney CBD lockouts by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR). In that set of figures BOCSAR argued assaults in a range of areas surrounding the lockout zone – grouped together and called the “distal displacement area” (but more commonly known to you and me as Newtown, Double Bay, Bondi and Coogee) had gone up about 17 per cent since the lockouts came into effect. All of the geographically different entertainment precincts were lumped in together – individual breakdowns for the suburbs were not included. The success of the publicans of Newtown, the police of Newtown and the community of Newtown over more than a year was ignored – it was as if it didn’t even happen as the BOCSAR figures were quoted verbatim in the press, on radio and on TV.   Read more here. This story first appeared in The Shout.   Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => Sydney lock-out statistics ignore Newtown’s success, says pub peak body [post_excerpt] => Newtown Liquor Accord has worked. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sydney-lock-statistics-ignores-newtowns-success-says-pub-peak-body [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-14 12:23:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-14 01:23:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26489 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26437 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-06 15:35:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-06 04:35:16 [post_content] =>     By Andy Young A new study by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) has found that assaults have increased in areas around the Kings Cross and Sydney CBD lockout precincts. While the areas within the Entertainment Precinct defined by the lockout laws continue to show downward trends in non-domestic assaults in neighbouring areas, where no such laws exist, it is a different story. The BOCSAR figures show the suburbs bordering the lockout zone, which includes The Star Casino plus other venues around Ultimo and Surry Hills, have seen a 12 per cent increase in non-domestic assaults. Other areas close to the lockout zone, including Double Bay, Newtown and Bondi, have seen a 17 per cent rise in non-domestic assaults. The report says: “The statistically significant rise in the surrounding and nearby suburbs, as well as the generally stable state-wide trend in non-domestic assaults, lend further support to the proposition that the drop in the target sites was due to the specific licensing restrictions affecting those sites rather than other unmeasured factors (e.g. economic conditions) or other components of the liquor law reforms (e.g. bottle shop closures).”   Read more here.   This story first appeared in The Shout.  [post_title] => Assaults up around Sydney lockout zones, says BOCSAR report [post_excerpt] => But falling in Kings Cross and Sydney CBD. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => lockout [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-07 10:13:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-06 23:13:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26437 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26387 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-03-01 15:58:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-01 04:58:21 [post_content] =>       The Department of Human Services' (DHS) efforts to prevent Centrelink fraud have been criticised in an Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report, with only two out of seven fraud prevention and compliance measures judged effective and expected savings falling short of their targets in four cases. The ANAO report deals with Human Services compliance programs announced in earlier Budgets and running between 2012 and 2016, just before the current robo-debt crisis, which automatically matched ATO and DHS data and generated thousands of debt letters to benefit recipients, some of them wrong. During its investigations the ANAO examined the design and implementation of seven compliance measures, including Employment Income Matching - a forerunner of the data-matching system used in the robo-debt fiasco. It looked at whether programs were monitored properly and explored whether savings' targets had been achieved. “Most of the compliance measures examined did not fully achieve their expected outcomes, including savings and addressing the risks to payment integrity,” said the ANAO report, which was published yesterday (Tuesday). Shortcomings were identified in DHS monitoring and reporting for every compliance measure. The Department of Social Services also drew criticism for not keeping an eye on progress against targets.  “The monitoring and oversight arrangements for the compliance measures, set out under the Bilateral Management Arrangement between DSS and Human Services, have not been effective as they were not followed,” said the report.  “The Department of Social Services as the relevant policy entity did not take responsibility for monitoring outcomes, including impacts and actual savings, achieved from the measures.” But Human Services is having none of it, instead arguing that it has exceeded its savings target across the seven compliance measures assessed by ANAO by more than $210 million or 26.7 per cent. The Department argued the ANAO’s methodology was suspect and said it did not agree with the ANAO’s tables detailing what savings had been achieved against targets. It hit back, saying: “The department does not accept the key conclusion in the report that most of the compliance measures examined were not effectively implemented and the expected outcomes were not fully achieved, including savings.” The behemoth Department said it had exceeded its outcomes and implemented its compliance program effectively. It also denied that it failed to provide clear and accurate progress updates to the public or had briefed ministers ‘in an ad hoc manner’. Human Services said it already consistently tracked and reported on key outcomes and collated information on targeted and achieved savings, making the ANAO’s third recommendation redundant. It continued: “The Department notes that the ANAO has not made any recommendations which directly address its main conclusions and findings.” Meanwhile politicians lined up to put the boot into DHS’ fraud recovery and compliance efforts. Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the report showed there was ‘a dysfunctional crackdown on the social safety net before the large scale automated debt recovery system even begun’.  “The department haven't been able to manage these measures, the government went full steam ahead on the automated debt recovery process regardless; causing dismay and stress to thousands of vulnerable Australians when quite obviously they couldn't handle it,” Ms Siewert said.  “Anyone taking a flick through the ANAO report can see that an erosion of the social safety net has been going on for some time and that the approach has long been in disarray”, Ms Siewert said. She said it was ‘laughable’ that DHS had disputed the report’s findings.   “Clearly this has been back of the envelope accounting from the government to undermine the findings of the audit.” Shadow Human Services Minister Linda Burney said the ANAO report highlighted that the administration and monitoring of fraud and compliance programs was ‘deeply flawed’ and  that DHS was ‘a complete mess’. “The Minister is desperate to cover up the mess he has created,” Ms Burney said. “These are the compliance measures which haven’t even faced the most public criticism – what will an audit of the robo-debt scheme find?” She said that DHS and DSS were not following joint management agreements on welfare payments ‘meaning the right hand has no idea what the left is doing’.    The Senate Community Affairs References Committee is currently carrying out an inquiry into the Centrelink robo-debt scheme with a reporting date of May 10. Submissions are due by March 22.    Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up to the Government News newsletter.                                                               [post_title] => Human Services fraud and compliance blitz draws fire from Audit Office [post_excerpt] => DHS fights back. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26387 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-03 11:46:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-03 00:46:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26387 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27457 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-06-22 13:45:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-22 03:45:57 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27458" align="alignnone" width="279"] Julie Inman Grant is the Children’s eSafety Commissioner.[/caption] The Federal Government will rename the Children’s eSafety Commissioner just the eSafety Commissioner, entrusting the office to “enhance online safety for all Australians and provide clarity for reporting online safety issues”. The changes allow the eSafety Commissioner to be tasked with improving the digital confidence and skills of senior citizens as well, and to establish a national online complaints mechanism where victims can report cases of intimate photos or videos being posted without consent (image-based abuse) and access support. The changes will make it easier for the public to identify where they can seek assistance and advice on a range of online safety issues. The amendments only relate to the general functions of the commissioner and do not relate to the cyberbullying complaints scheme, which addresses material that is targeted at children. Prior to the last election, the Liberals promised to spend $50 million to improve the digital literacy of seniors and improve their safety online, by developing a digital inclusion and online safety strategy for them. The digital literacy strategy’s aim is to complement existing programs and draw on the expertise and knowledge of the community sector to develop an appropriate package of support to improve the digital literacy and safety of seniors online. It targets seniors who have access to existing devices and aims to support them to learn how to take full advantage to keep in touch and stay connected, without exposing themselves to online abuse. The government had also promised to spend $10 million on:
  • Establishing a national online complaints mechanism where victims can report cases of intimate photos or videos being posted without consent (‘revenge porn’) and access immediate and tangible support.
  • Countering the impact of pornography in society with targeted information and educational resources to shift attitudes and behaviours in young people.
  • Identifying gaps in, and impediments to, information sharing about victims and perpetrators of domestic, family and sexual violence between jurisdictions.
  • Strengthening research and data collection around the forms of violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
These initiatives will now also fall under the authority of the eSafety Commissioner. Feedback sought In addition, the government is currently seeking feedback on implementing civil penalties for the non-consensual sharing of intimate images (‘revenge porn’). Submissions can be made through the Department of Communications and the Arts’ ‘Have your say’ website. [post_title] => Children’s eSafety Commissioner to look after all ages [post_excerpt] => The Children’s eSafety Commissioner will be renamed just the eSafety Commissioner, to “enhance online safety for all Australians”. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => childrens-esafety-commissioner-look-ages [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-23 13:41:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-23 03:41:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27457 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 104 [max_num_pages] => 8 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => 1 [is_tag] => [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 6d1bc50563fc709f9adb18a083b62d6c [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

Crime