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                    [post_date] => 2018-06-19 08:48:13
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30670" align="aligncenter" width="658"] Health, education and infrastructure are big ticket items in NSW's 2018 budget.[/caption]

Assertive outreach services and a new social impact investment are among the elements of a $1 billion homelessness package to be included in NSW’s budget today. 

Tailored support will be provided to rough sleepers, young people and victims of domestic violence under the package.

The program includes $20 million over four years to a social impact investment on homelessness to tap into the expertise of the private and not-for-profit sector.

It will provide for more assertive outreach services for rough sleepers, strengthened risk assessment to address individuals’ circumstances and enhanced support to maintain a tenancy.

Included in the program is $9.1 million for additional transitional accommodation, $6.9 million on co-located homeless and health services and $6.2 million to expand the Staying Home Leaving Violence program to five new sites.

The NSW Government’s budget will also contain $1 billion in new recurrent health funding to employ an extra 1370 workers, including 950 nurses and midwives, 300 doctors and 120 allied health professions.

The State Government says that brings the budget’s total health spend to $23 billion.

In education, the government will announce “the largest investment into schools by any state government in history” with funding of $6 billion over four years to deliver more than 170 new and upgraded schools. The budget contains funding for an extra 20 new and upgraded schools, the planning for which will begin this year.

Work will commence on 40 new and upgraded school projects this year.

In transport, the budget will outline a $1.5 billion investment in bus services throughout the state, which will see more than 2,000 extra bus services rolled out in the next 12 months.

The number of trains running in the morning and afternoon peaks on the T4 and T8 lines will be increased with an $880 million investment in technology to modernise the Sydney Trains network.

The key southern Sydney route Heathcote Road will get a $173 million package to improve safety and traffic flow, while $40 million will be spent sealing the last stretch of the Cobb and Silver City highways, meaning every major highway in the state will now be sealed.

In resources, the budget will also contain $23 million for the recently established Natural Resources Access Regulators to increase water compliance and enforcement.

The Australia Museum will undergo a $50 million refurbishment before it hosts Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, the largest Tutankhamun exhibition to ever leave Egypt, for a six-month run in early 2021.
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[post_title] => Boost for health workforce, homeless services in NSW budget [post_excerpt] => Assertive outreach services and a new social impact investment are among the elements of a $1 billion homelessness package to be included in NSW’s budget today. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => boost-for-health-workforce-homeless-services-in-nsw-budget [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-19 08:48:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-18 22:48:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30804 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30620 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-06-08 08:36:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-07 22:36:41 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30623" align="aligncenter" width="647"] Heatwaves injure and kill more people in Sydney than any other shock event: assessment. [/caption] Heatwaves pose the greatest threat to Sydney, followed by storms and bushfires, according to an international benchmark of cities’ capacity to handle shocks and stresses. Infrastructure failure, the collapse of financial institutions, terrorist attacks and digital network failures are all identified as potential “acute shocks” facing Sydney but its heat that presents the greatest threat to Australia’s most populous city, according to a new assessment. Since 2015 Sydney and Melbourne have been leading local governments, businesses and community groups in the development of a resiliency strategy for their cities, through their involvement in the 100 Resilient Cities initiative. The Rockefeller Foundation-backed resiliency program helps cities develop and implement strategies to survive and recover from key contemporary challenges such as urbanisation and climate change. Beck Dawson, chief resilience officer with City of Sydney, told the Local Government Professionals NSW conference on Wednesday that the risk assessment identified heat as Sydney’s greatest potential shock yet few governments had emergency responses in place. “More people end up in hospital and more people die as a result of extreme heat in Sydney than any other shock event that we’ve had to date,” she told the Sydney audience. The assessment drew on the World Economic Forum’s risk list, a review of 50 past shock events in Australia and New Zealand, and the key incidents that occurred in the 25 South East Asian cities participating in the program, she said. It was also informed by community consultation across Sydney in which communities nominated their chief concerns. While Sydney has a diverse population – with 39 per cent of adults in the city born in another country – there was “huge commonality” across the different regions in terms of what citizens were concerned about. “We were expecting lots of diversity in the views during the different workshops, but when it came to being safe, to talking about the things we valued, the priorities were the same across the city,” Ms Dawson said.

Vulnerabilities: health a key stress

Aside from sudden shocks, the risk assessment also identified Sydney’s key stresses – the slow burning, long-term issues that can cause major harm if left unaddressed. Health issues, in particular chronic disease, topped that list, as they added pressure to an already stretched health system and left the city vulnerable to shocks such as a heatwave, Ms Dawson said. “In Sydney, more than half of adults today are overweight and obese. On top of that, one in four will have mental health issues in their lifetime which will impact their workplaces, family and friends.” Drug and alcohol is the biggest driver of police time across the city and has an ongoing impact on family violence, she added. Social cohesion was nominated as an issue of concern by the community, yet it did not rate in conversations with government and the private sector, Ms Dawson said.

Strategy: social cohesion, preparedness

The risk analysis had guided conversations among the 33 councils and the state government agencies involved in the project about the allocation of resources against key risks, as well as the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, she said. The city’s resilience strategy, which has been more than two years in development, is being finalised for a July release and will outline five directions for action. To boost community preparedness, the project will aim to encourage 100,000 Sydney residents to download and use a new Red Cross app, Get Prepared. It’s also looking at economic resilience assessments for key CBDs, which would involve eight local governments, and working to maximise governments’ various social cohesion programs given the importance of community in responding to disasters. “The more connected a community is before a disaster, the better they respond and recover. It’s the single most important protective measure,” Ms Dawson said. Given private corporations deliver many of the large city systems in Sydney, the project is also seeking to work with 100 businesses on how they manage shocks and stresses, she said. Read more on Sydney's resilient city strategy 
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[post_title] => New framework guides governments on risks [post_excerpt] => Heatwaves pose the greatest threat to Sydney, followed by storms and bushfires, according to an international benchmark of cities’ capacity to handle shocks and stresses. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-framework-guides-governments-on-risks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-12 10:56:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-12 00:56:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30620 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30536 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-06-01 10:08:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-01 00:08:32 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30537" align="aligncenter" width="656"] Local governments are seeking to make their communities and services accessible.[/caption] As councils across Australia seek to make their communities more accessible for residents living with disability, advocates point to the importance of stakeholder engagement. Activities for children with autism and charging ports for electric wheelchairs are just some of the elements of disability inclusion programs being developed and implemented by local governments in Australia. In Victoria, Golden Plains Council has been running a weekly lego club to foster social and creative skills in children with autism. Mayor Helena Kirby said the initiative stemmed from council’s disability inclusion plan which sought to respond to the large proportion of children aged 10 to 19 with a disability in the area. “Children with autism often do not feel comfortable in mainstream activities and recreational programs and as such are at risk of social isolation, so activities such as Let’s Go, Lego provide a great opportunity for autistic children,” she said. Brisbane City Council is another council working on disability inclusion, having spent more than $150 million on its plan that includes programs such as a braille trail, all-abilities playgrounds and a wheelchair accessible bus fleet.   Similarly, Victoria's Maroondah Council is offering charging ports to help people with electric scooters and wheelchairs get outside and rest assured their wheelchair battery won’t run out.

Consultation key, say advocates

Samantha French, senior policy officer at People With Disability, says it’s vital that those with a disability, not just advisory groups, are “involved from the very beginning” in disability inclusion and access plans. She suggests that councils go beyond mere “compliance” and look holistically at ways to promise access and inclusion. “What is really needed is for council to bring people in from the community and ask what it is that they need,” she said.
“Local governments have the potential to make the most impact on people with disability.”
Ms French said that some of the most successful inclusion and access plans she has seen have come from councils who hired members of the community with disability. David O’Loughlin, president of the Australian Local Government Association, agrees that consultation with residents who have a lived experience of disability, as well as other stakeholders, is the blueprint to a successful access and inclusion plan. [caption id="attachment_30538" align="alignright" width="287"] Golden Plains Council has been running a lego club for children with autism[/caption] He says it’s crucial that councils identify the needs of individual communities by consulting through advisory groups at all levels of planning. “People need to stretch their thinking and listen to the needs of the community. Councils will find there’s an incredible diversity of actions they can take that will make people’s lives easier,” Cr O’Loughlin tells Government News. Consulting with service clubs, community groups and community development officers are all useful ways of engaging with those living with a disability in the community, he said.  The ALGA’s 2016 Disability Inclusion Planning Guide for Local Government lists “active citizenship,” or the promotion of participation by those with a disability in council decision making, as a key principle of an inclusive council. Late last year the Institute for Public Policy and Governance released a guide on how local governments can increase the social and economic participation of people with a disability, noting the importance of engaging with members of the community with disability. Clr O’Loughlin said that prioritising different elements of disability inclusion programs based on community demand is critical, saying programs should be “a direct response to the demand profile” in an area.

‘Woven into everything’

Ms French also pointed to the need for disability access and inclusion policies to be integrated into all levels of councils’ decision making, including the procurement process. “There’s no trigger to make sure decisions are mindful of the importance of accessibility. It needs to be woven into everything we’re doing, including our procurement practices and the decisions around who we contract,” she said. All council staff should be held accountable to meet the objectives of disability inclusion and access plans, Ms French said. “When senior management have a performance review, there needs to be accountability for what their section has done to improve accessibility,” she said. “Accountability needs to be built within the council itself.” The ALGA’s Disability Inclusion Guide also notes “allocating responsibility” to support a “whole-of-council” approach as key to disability inclusion.

Case study: Barossa seeks input

The Barossa Valley is one such council that has sought to integrate disability action and inclusion into all areas of council decision making. Under its Disability Access and Inclusion Plan, which opened for public consultation in April, the council has vowed to ensure that all elements of council planning and decision making are guided by principles of access and inclusion.  The action plan, which has been overseen by an advisory group, takes a “whole-of-council” approach, pledging to make mainstream public facilities and services universally accessible to residents and visitors with disability.
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[post_title] => Consultation key to accessible communities, say disability advocates [post_excerpt] => As councils across Australia seek to make their communities more accessible for residents living with disability, advocates point to the importance of stakeholder engagement. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => consultation-key-to-accessible-communities-say-disability-advocates [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-05 10:33:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-05 00:33:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30536 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30472 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-05-29 09:13:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-28 23:13:11 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30475" align="aligncenter" width="678"] Rough sleeping rates increased 20 per cent in five years, a new analysis shows.[/caption] A national strategy tackling the myriad issues contributing to Australia’s worsening homelessness should be included in the next national agreement between the Commonwealth and states, an expert says. As the federal and state governments negotiate a key National Housing and Homelessness Agreement a major new analysis has warned that the downgrading of key policy and initiatives by successive governments has led to a surge in homelessness and rough sleeping in the past five years. While the decade to 2011 saw the situation remain “fairly stable,” the Australian Homelessness Monitor 2018 found that from 2011 to 2016 the rate of homelessness rose by 14 per cent while rough sleeping jumped 20 per cent. Demand for homelessness services increased 22 per cent and the proportion of people living in overcrowded accommodation rose 23 per cent over the five years, according to the landmark analysis by researchers at the universities of NSW and Queensland. The report, which was commissioned by community homelessness organisation Launch Housing, analysed various data sets including Census figures and drew on interviews with policymakers, service providers and advocacy groups. [caption id="attachment_30473" align="alignright" width="173"] Hal Pawson[/caption] Lead author Hal Pawson, a professor of housing at UNSW, told Government News that the new agreement between governments should contain a multi-layered national strategy to tackle the worsening situation. The first element of such a plan would provide “more assertive outreach” for the 8,000 people sleeping rough every night, he said. “You then need to look at prevention measures that address the immediate causes of homelessness - issues like domestic violence, discharge from institutions, low income people living in private rental,” Professor Pawson said. “Then there’s the much wider set of issues around proper indexation of benefits, and the supply of affordable housing.” Professor Pawson said the new agreement presented an opportunity to incorporate cooperation between the federal and state governments, as well as targets for preventing and reducing homelessness. He praised Treasurer Scott Morrison’s work on bond aggregators as an emerging mechanism to enable not-for-profit housing providers to access private finance on better terms. “It enables community housing providers to access debt and to build additional affordable housing at better rates of interest and longer terms of loan than they can currently get from the banks,” he said. In an overview document accompanying the release of the monitor, Launch Housing said the findings showed the Commonwealth must “lead and develop a coordinated policy response” with the state and territory governments. “We urgently need an alignment of efforts to implement dedicated housing, income support and homelessness policies,” the group said.

Commonwealth policies 'exacerbating' issue

The analysis found that some recent Commonwealth policy - such as the failure to index social security benefits, which left recipients living in private rental increasingly vulnerable - had exacerbated homelessness. Some 71 per cent of the homelessness service agencies surveyed by the researchers said they believed government changes to welfare and Centrelink had aggravated homelessness. Another key driver of homelessness is the “long-term erosion of social housing,” the analysis found. Despite the ageing of the public housing stock and increasing intensity of unmet housing need, capital investment in social housing fell by 8 per cent in the four years to 2016, the researchers said.
“For agencies looking to assist people out of homelessness, the intensifying shortage of social housing and affordable private rental properties is making this task increasingly difficult.”
However, on the other hand, the report also highlighted recent state government plans to expand social and affordable housing in Queensland, Victoria and NSW. “Although extremely limited, these initiatives demonstrate ongoing government commitment to invest in an affordable housing supply as a response to housing needs,” the report said. It highlighted several rough sleeper programs that have created “sustainable and immediate housing outcomes” but notes these initiatives are “hamstrung by limited social housing stock, a reliance on homelessness accommodation and limited resourcing.”

Variation across the country

The national figure of 14 per cent growth in homelessness conceals complex and variable movements in the rates across the country, Professor Pawson said. Homelessness has worsened the most in capital cities, increasing the fastest in Sydney (up 48 per cent in the five years), Darwin (up 36 per cent) and Brisbane (32 per cent). “Meanwhile homelessness has reduced in some parts of the country, and quite substantially in the more remote regional geography,” he said. “The contrast between different geographies is something the report has tried to bring out because it’s certainly not a steady or simple pattern across the country.”

Seniors, indigenous most at risk

Echoing earlier reports and studies, the analysis found that those aged 55 to 74 were the fastest growing cohort within the homeless population. “In the decade to 2016, this combined group grew in number by 55 per cent, compared with the 30 per cent increase for all age groups,” the analysis found. While indigenous homelessness fell by 9 per cent in the five years to 2016, the rate of indigenous homelessness remains 10 times higher than that of non-indigenous, the researchers said.
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[post_title] => ‘Policy inaction’ leading to homelessness rise [post_excerpt] => A national strategy tackling the myriad issues contributing to Australia’s worsening homelessness should be included in the next national agreement between the Commonwealth and states, an expert says. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => policy-inaction-leading-to-homelessness-rise [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-01 10:10:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-01 00:10:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30472 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30321 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-05-18 09:16:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-17 23:16:48 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29348" align="aligncenter" width="584"] Liveability targets: Perth is creating more walkable streets but lagging behind on dwelling density. [/caption] Consistent, evidence-based policies across state and local governments are essential to creating healthy communities, new research shows. A new evaluation of the progress to improve liveability in Perth has highlighted the importance of targets for key domains as well as integrated planning across government departments and agencies. The report by researchers at the University of Western Australia, RMIT University and Australian Catholic University builds on last year’s measure of liveability in Australia’s capital cities. It found that while Perth had made progress in some areas, including walkability and access to bigger parks, it was lagging behind in others. Perth is doing well in creating smaller, walkable streets and providing access to larger neighbourhood parks within 400 meters of residences. But it’s lagging behind on dwelling density and proving access to activity centres, the report found. The city is achieving its transport target – that 60 per cent of residents should be within 400 metres of a bus stop of 800 meters of train stop – but the researchers note the policy is “modest” compared to other state capital cities. The report found: 
“Although Perth is creating some walkable communities on the urban fringe, many of these communities are not ‘liveable’ because they lack access to transport, employment and infrastructure."
The research team recommends that the Western Australian Government undertake “evidence-informed integrated transport, land use and infrastructure planning” and create walkable neighbourhoods as a foundation of a liveable city. The government should also set targets for all seven urban liveability domains, including short, medium and long-term goals, the researchers said. The report also highlighted the importance of ensuring state and local government policies are “consistent, based on evidence and designed to create healthy, liveable communities.”

Report at a glance 

Walkability: 71% of residential streets in Perth meet length and width targets for walkability. Reflecting a common pattern in Australian cities, walkability in Perth is best in inner-city areas and declines towards the urban fringe Public transport: 64% of residents in Perth achieve nearby access to public transport.  Public open space: 78% of residents in Perth are withing 400 metres of a public open space of any size, behind Melbourne and Sydney (82%) but ahead of City of Brisbane (75%).  Housing affordability: Like most other cities, Perth's housing affordability declined between 2011 and 2016. Some 38% of lower-income households in Perth are experiencing housing affordability stress.  Employment: 31% of employed people live and work in their broader local area, high than in Melbourne (28%) and Brisbane (27%). 
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[post_title] => Integrated planning key to liveable cities: report  [post_excerpt] => Consistent, evidence-based policies across state and local governments are essential to creating healthy communities, new research shows. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => integrated-planning-key-to-liveable-cities-report [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-18 10:44:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-18 00:44:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30321 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30300 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-05-15 11:03:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-15 01:03:43 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30301" align="aligncenter" width="605"] Brimbank City Council is calling for stronger enforcement of Victoria's gambling code.[/caption] Brimbank City Council says its residents have lost $1.4 billion on electronic gambling machines in in the past decade. Now it’s calling for fines and limits on withdrawals.   After years of writing to state and federal ministers calling for stronger gambling regulation, working with clubs to help reduce their reliance on pokies revenue and running various community education campaigns, Brimbank City Council is now pushing for tougher enforcement of the state’s gambling code. The council has lodged a motion to Victoria’s State Council meeting on Friday that would see the Municipal Association of Victoria lobby the Victorian Government to adopt a “public health approach” to reduce the harms caused by pokies gambling. “We have the highest gambling losses of any municipality in Victoria, with a staggering $134 million lost on electronic gambling machines, or pokies, each year,” Mayor Margaret Giudice tells Government News. As the third most disadvantaged area in Victoria, the Brimbank community cannot tolerate the devastating financial and social damage caused by these huge losses, Cr Giudice argues. Under the motion, the Victorian Government would reduce the maximum cash withdrawal limit from EFTPOS facilities at gaming venues from $500 to $200 in a 24-hour period. It also calls on the government to strengthen regulatory enforcement of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct. The council points to government-funded research in 2015 that found people with gambling problems withdrew an average of $318 per gambling session, making the current daily EFTPOS withdrawal limit of $500 too high to have an impact on reducing harm. “A limit of $200 would help reduce the harm to problem gamblers while having minimal impact on other patrons,” the council’s motion says. While Victorian legislation requires gaming venues to have an approved Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct, the law doesn't clearly identify minimum standards of conduct or specific penalties for breaches. “A model of regulation similar to that covering venues with liquor licenses should be introduced for gaming venues in Victoria. This should include the provision of fines, and license cancellation/suspensions for specific action or inaction deemed illegal under the Act,” the council's motion says.

A positive move, says expert

Angela Rintoul, research fellow at the Australian Gambling Research Centre, said Brimbank’s proposals were “a step in the right direction” and aligned with research findings which showed problem gamblers struggled to control their spending once inside a venue. “Often what happens is they spend more than they planned to and keep returning to get more money. We’ve done research in venues where those people are losing money at quite a rapid pace, so this could be one way of trying to slow down some of those losses,” she told Government News. Dr Rintoul said research also showed there was poor enforcement of the code of conduct. “There’s a range of behaviours linked to gambling problems, such as returning to withdraw money repeatedly and using more than one machine at once. The code requires venues to intervene if they see someone in distress or experiencing harm, but they’re almost never enforced,” she said. There was a range of measures that could be introduced to support problem gamblers, such as a universal pre-commitment system and encouraging gamblers to take breaks, Dr Rintoul said. “At the moment we’re not aware of any venues in Victoria having been penalised for not enforcing the code, so there’s a lot that can be done to strengthen those documents,” she said.

Public health issue

Cr Giudice argues that since the harms caused by gambling are a serious public health issue and affect not only individuals but families and the wider community, a public health approach to the issue is needed. “That would consider how gambling impacts on and is impacted by the social, economic, cultural and physical environment.” She said the council has long been lobbying for better regulation of the gaming industry and now partners with the Alliance for Gambling Reform to pursue wider systemic change. The council has also been calling for the cap on the number of machines to be lowered. “Brimbank currently has 953 electronic gaming machines – the maximum allowable number of machines. We’re calling for a ‘sinking cap’ which would mean that as machines are moved from one venue they’re not made available for another venue to top up," Cr Giudice said.
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[post_title] => Council calls for action on problem gambling [post_excerpt] => Brimbank City Council says its residents have lost $1.4 billion on electronic gambling machines in in the past decade. Now it’s calling for fines and limits on withdrawals.   [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-calls-for-action-on-problem-gambling [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-15 11:04:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-15 01:04:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30300 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30161 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-05-04 11:06:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-04 01:06:07 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30162" align="aligncenter" width="571"] The Northern Territory Government 's budget has a $1.2 billion deficit forecast.[/caption] The Northern Territory Government’s budget cuts to the public sector wage bill have been criticised while its $28 million boost to local government and rural infrastructure has been praised. In a bid to return its budget to surplus, the NT Government will introduce a voluntary redundancy program across non-frontline roles, which the public sector union estimates could result in 250 job losses. The government will also reduce wage increases in the public service from 2.5 per cent to 2 per cent for future enterprise agreements as of October, while also placing a freeze on new jobs, according to its budget handed down on Tuesday. But the NT Community & Public Sector Union (CPSU) says that more job losses should be expected given the budget’s cut to departmental budgets as part of its efficiency dividend. The union's NT regional secretary Kay Densley criticised the cuts as “short-sighted”, saying they will hurt communities and service delivery.
“The Gunner Government is continuing to apply a so-called efficiency dividend on Territory agencies. There’s nothing efficient about arbitrary cuts, ramped up to 3 per cent of departmental budgets this year. This policy over many years is eroding the quality and capability of the NT public service, hurting the services they provide and removing much-needed employment opportunities.”
A spokesperson for NT Treasurer Nicole Manison told Government News that the job freeze would see new positions in the public service being signed off by Cabinet. “We won’t be targeting frontline services. But we do have a fairly large public service," the spokesperson said, adding that a 0.5 per cent decrease in enterprise agreement negotiations was “very reasonable.” Other budget measures to save $234 million included a review of grant arrangements and an annual reduction in repair and maintenance expenditure. The cuts come with a 2018-19 Budget $1.2 billion deficit forecast and net debt expected to reach $7.5 billion by 2021-22.

Funding boost for local government  

Local government bodies will receive $28.7 million in funding to assist with service delivery, while $5 million will fund the development of infrastructure by local government. Tony Tapsell, CEO of the Local Government Association of the NT, said the funding was welcome news for the NT’s local councils:
“These grants are ongoing and supported although they have not increased from the 2017-18 financial year. They are paid to nine regional and three shire councils (outside of the major population centres in the NT) and cater for shortfalls in revenue due to most of these councils not having much of a rate base.”
The budget also delivered $3 million to support local decision making, including a $1 million boost to an initiative encouraging indigenous stakeholders to share in government service-delivery and $8.5 million to enable regional councils to employ Aboriginal staff. Mr Tapsell said the funding, which operates as a subsidy for indigenous employees, has been instrumental to a strong indigenous representation in local government. “Councils are very happy with this arrangement as it is one measure that has led to them having anything from 60 to 80 per cent indigenous employment levels in their total workforces which is a great achievement in areas where there is high indigenous unemployment and the communities serviced by them are largely indigenous.”

Rural infrastructure upgrades

Tackling a regional infrastructure backlog with more than half of the $1.89 billion capital works program committed to to new and upgraded infrastructure in remote and regional areas. This includes $1.1 billion towards the 10-year Remote Housing Investment Package, with $96.9 million towards building new homes, $36.9 million to ease overcrowding and $17.4 million on new housing for locally-recruited government employees.  The government has committed $63.5 million to establish utilities infrastructure in remote communities and $5 million to upgrade essential services infrastructure across 72 remote communities.

Other highlights of the NT’s budget:

  • a new minimum royalty scheme for all mines in the NT and the investment of $2.4 million to attract new mining projects
  • a new minimum price of $1.30 per standard drink for alcoholic beverages as well as $11.8 million to tackle alcohol abuse.
  • $229 million to reform the NT’s child protection and youth justice system, including $12.9 million on local youth programs.
  • $1.5 billion on health including cancer services, a new hospital, specialised alcohol treatment and maternity services.
  • $626.4 million to upgrade Territory roads
  • $9.9 million to the volunteer bushfire brigade, $4.5 million towards the construction of a new Bushfires NT response centre and $ 1 million towards flood mitigation digital modelling
  • $11.9 million to build a new adventure cycling track in West MacDonnell National Park, $11.3 million for Litchfield National Park and $5.6 million to construct a five-day walking track in Central Australia.
  • $66 million to revitalise the Darwin and Alice Springs CBDs, including an adventure splash park, head wave mitigation strategy and a new fine art gallery.
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[post_title] => NT budget: public sector job and wage cuts condemned [post_excerpt] => The Northern Territory Government’s cuts to the public sector wage bill have been criticised while its $28 million boost to local government and rural infrastructure has been praised. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nt-budget-public-sector-job-and-wage-cuts-condemned [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-04 11:40:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-04 01:40:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30161 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30157 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-05-04 11:05:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-04 01:05:08 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30183" align="aligncenter" width="572"] The Victorian budget have record spending on infrastructure.[/caption] Local government, transport and health groups welcome the Andrews Government’s record investment in infrastructure and community services.   Victoria’s councils have said the state budget's spending on state and local infrastructure will help them provide services and facilities to a growing community. The Municipal Association of Victoria singled out the $100 million in funding for local roads and $43 million to help councils with early childhood infrastructure as standout measures in the State Government’s election-year budget handed down on Wednesday. Councils in rural Victoria will also benefit from a new $20 million Rural Council Transformation Program that will seek to improve their efficiency, while regional Tourism Boards will get an extra $2 million. A boost of $50 million to the Growing Suburbs Fund will support local governments in providing new and upgraded community facilities in key suburbs, according to the budget. However, despite the big spend on infrastructure, MAV president Mary Lalios said the peak was disappointed there was no reinvestment of landfill levies in projects that would develop the state’s recycling capacity.

Asset sale contributes to infrastructure spend

The Victorian Government has ramped up its total infrastructure spend to $13.7 billion, a dramatic increase from the $5 billion a year being spent as recently as 2015. With Victoria leading the country both in terms of economic and population growth, the State Government announced $4.3 billion for roads across the state and $1.9 billion on public transport, as well as big spending on regional and local infrastructure. On the back of economic growth of 3.3 per cent (above a national average of 2 per cent), the Victorian Government has predicted a $1.4 billion budget surplus in 2018-19. Half of the $2.1 billion the State Government received from the Commonwealth for its share of the Snowy Hydro Electric will fund key projects such as the Shepparton Line upgrade ($313 million) and Ballarat Base Hospital redevelopment ($462 million) as well as a $929 million program of new or upgraded schools. The state’s freight and logistics industry welcomed the budget’s spend on construction and upgrades to Victoria’s transport networks. “We are especially pleased that significant funding has been allocated for roads and transport infrastructure that will ease congestion for freight operators, and improve productivity and efficiency,” said Peter Anderson, chief executive of the Victorian Transport Association.

Historic spend on mental health

In health and community services, the budget committed an unprecedented $705 million for mental health services and support. Among the initiatives will be “crisis hubs” in emergency departments and more support services in regional areas. The budget provides $2.1 billion for extra staff and capacity in the health system, and $1.2 billion to build and expand hospitals across the state. The Victorian Healthcare Association, representing public healthcare providers in the state, said it applauded the “historic” spend on public and community health, which represented an increase of 6.9 per cent on the previous year. The peak’s CEO Tom Symondson said the significant investment in mental health was much needed and would go some way towards addressing the massive impact to hospitals and to the community. “We’re delighted to see the investment in initiatives such as the crisis hubs in emergency departments, but a significant gap remains in community-based mental health and we hope to work with the government ahead of the November election to identify solutions to this important issue,” Mr Symondson said. Among its education measures, the Victorian Government has allocated $172 million to fund free tuition across 30 TAFE and pre-apprenticeship courses in growth industries.

Boost to regions

In the regions, the budget commits $760 million to the state’s nine regional partnerships, with $153 million going toward the Geelong City Deal. The government has allocated $2.2 billion for roads in Melbourne’s northern and south-eastern suburbs, and $941 million to upgrade the regional road network, while a new country roads body will be established with staff in every regional centre. Other measures in the budget include $25 million to tackle the digital divide in regional and rural Victoria, $25 million on local crime prevention initiatives and $24 million to strengthen Victoria Police’s response to organised technology-enabled crime.
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[post_title] => Victorian budget: Infrastructure, regions the big winners [post_excerpt] => Local government, transport and health groups have welcomed the Andrews Government’s record investment in infrastructure and community services.   [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => victorian-budget-infrastructure-regions-the-big-winners [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-04 11:40:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-04 01:40:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30157 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 30121 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-04-30 16:52:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-04-30 06:52:07 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30117" align="aligncenter" width="505"] The Seed Women group funded by the WA Government’s Ranger Program.[/caption] An indigenous ranger employment program in remote south-western Australia is tackling rural unemployment while rehabilitating native plants through traditional indigenous agricultural techniques. Under the program, announced last week by the West Australian Government, 12 indigenous Noongar people will be recruited by the government. West Australian Minister for the Environment Stephen Dawson says the ranger program, a first for the state government, will deliver on cultural, environmental and economic outcomes. “This will be an integral step towards improved community wellbeing and health, reducing poverty and cycles of dependency through economic opportunities and building leadership in remote and regional communities.” The 12 new positions are part of the West Australian Government’s broader $20 million five-year program to create 85 new jobs and 80 training opportunities, including 47 female ranger jobs, for indigenous rangers across Western Australia.

'The Seed Women'

Rehabilitating native plants on land destroyed by mining and dispersing culturally significant Arnhem seeds are some of the initiatives to be undertaken by the Ninyma Uninypa “Seed Women” in the Central Desert, one the groups funded by the State Government program. Earlier this year the group worked on dispersing seeds of the Quandong tree, a native indigenous plant that was used as a food source for thousands of years and features heavily in indigenous mythology but has been progressively destroyed by the local camel population. Samantha Doudle, program coordinator of the Seed Women program, said the initiative is crucial to addressing rural unemployment and facilitating intergenerational exchange of indigenous agricultural knowledge. She told Government News: 
“A lot of the ranger programs are in extremely remote places where the people have an intimate knowledge of the land, plants and animals, so it’s just the most logical thing on earth that one of the main employment opportunities should be looking after these huge strips of land on behalf of future generations.” 
As part of the program the Seed Women will be trained by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions in plant identification, drying and storage and germination while also using traditional indigenous techniques to help rehabilitate native plants.

Closing the employment gap

Western Australian’s program is one of the latest initiatives that aims to address the longstanding under-representation of indigenous people in the public sector. [caption id="attachment_30118" align="alignright" width="198"] One of the Seed Women at work.[/caption] Earlier this year the West Australian Public Service Commission released itsi employment strategy, citing a commitment to a 3 per cent growth in Indigenous employment in the public sector by 2018, up from 2.6 per cent currently. Professor Ken Smith, CEO of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, said that recognising the value of indigenous culture and knowledge is crucial to improving Indigenous representation in government. “Without listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and working with them to design and deliver policy we will never be able to close the gaps between Indigenous communities and the rest of Australia.” Improving employment pathways and economic outcomes for indigenous people relies on procurement and employment programs, says the Western Australian Public Sector Commission. “The Western Australian public sector employs approximately 138,000 people, which provides the opportunity to make a significant contribution towards providing career opportunities for Aboriginal people, while building a capable workforce that is both diverse and inclusive,” it said. Ms Doudle says that similar ranger programs should be mirrored in other states, so that states and local government are encouraged to work closely with Indigenous communities to create employment opportunities. The next round of funding for the second phase of the Indigenous Ranger Program will be available in 2019.
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[post_title] => Aboriginal ranger jobs a boost for native land conservation [post_excerpt] => An indigenous ranger employment program in remote south-western Australia is tackling rural unemployment while rehabilitating native plants through traditional indigenous agricultural techniques. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => aboriginal-ranger-jobs-a-boost-for-native-land-conservation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-05-01 11:54:10 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-05-01 01:54:10 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30121 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29954 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-04-17 10:18:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-04-17 00:18:21 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29955" align="aligncenter" width="569"] A new national taskforce will coordinate recovery from natural disasters.[/caption] New national resilience taskforce welcomed but councils seek federal mitigation program to fund local recovery. In the wake of recent floods, cyclones and fires that have impacted communities across Australia, the Commonwealth has announced a National Resilience Taskforce to reduce the impacts of natural disasters. Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor said the new taskforce, to sit within the Home Affairs Department, would lead national reforms to reduce the impact and financial burden of disasters on communities and the economy. Natural disasters are estimated to have cost the Australian economy on average more than $18 billion per year for the past 10 years. The taskforce’s first priority will be to develop a five-year national disaster mitigation framework in consultation with state and territory governments and the private sector, including insurance and finance, to limit risks, provide prevention strategies and improve decision-making. It will also establish a risk information capability framework to equip decision-makers with the knowledge they need to prepare for natural disasters. "The Australian Government is committed to working with the states and territories to prepare for future disasters, and will continue to provide more than $26 million per year for Natural Disaster Resilience,” said Minister Taylor. The taskforce will be led by former director general of Emergency Management Australia Mark Crosweller and will have 20 staff from across the Home Affairs Portfolio.

Need for ‘mitigation program’

While the new taskforce is welcome, David O’Loughlin, president of the Australian Local Government Association, said that emergency planning arrangements needed a stronger focus on resilience planning to strengthen local capacity. “There needs to be a greater emphasis on community engagement and a better understanding of the diversity, needs, strengths and vulnerabilities within communities,” he told Government News. Local governments typically know what infrastructure will likely be impacted in a natural disaster but federal funding cuts, rate capping and other budget pressures made it challenging for most councils to undertake infrastructure maintenance let alone disaster proofing, he said. ALGA’s 2018-19 Budget submission called for a Commonwealth investment of $200 million per year for four years in a targeted “natural disaster mitigation program.”  “A partnership to fund a targeted mitigation approach would be most welcome and would pay dividends for all levels of government over time. “Disasters do not impact everyone in the same way, and it is often our vulnerable community members who are the hardest hit,” Cr O’Loughlin said.
COMING SOON: Government News takes an in-depth look at community recovery from natural disasters - appearing next month.
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[post_title] => New body to coordinate natural disaster recovery [post_excerpt] => New national resilience taskforce welcomed but councils seek federal mitigation program to fund local recovery. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-body-to-coordinate-natural-disaster-recovery [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-17 10:18:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-17 00:18:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29954 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29928 [post_author] => 674 [post_date] => 2018-04-16 11:07:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-04-16 01:07:33 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29929" align="aligncenter" width="579"] Amid concerns of a sportsground shortage, some NSW public schools have opened their gates this week.[/caption] More than 80 public schools in NSW have opened their gates during the school holidays to allow community groups to use their playgrounds, ovals and courts, the State Government has announced. The move, which follows a successful trial during the summer, comes amid mounting concerns over a looming sportsground shortage in parts of the state. Earlier this month Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils released a report showing sportsground capacity in its region needed to increase by 40 per cent by 2036 in order to meet increasing demand fuelled by population growth. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes last week launched the $30 million Share Our Space Program, which will open up 81 school playgrounds and ovals during the holidays. Participating schools will receive a $5,000 grant they can use to help upgrade their facilities. The government said the expanded schools' program followed an earlier $120 million commitment to secure strategic open spaces for public use and to build more than 200 new and improved playgrounds. Mr Stokes said by making school facilities accessible outside of the term they could provide a broader benefit to the whole community, including opportunities for sport on school ovals. The greater use of existing facilities, including school ovals, was among the potential initiatives outlined in the report commissioned by Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils. However, such measures would only increase sportsground supply by up to 20 per cent, or just half of what’s required by 2036, that report found. Ms Berejiklian said the move to open up school facilities was part of the NSW Government’s new $290 million Open Spaces and Green Sydney package, with further announcements to come.
Related coverage: Councils come together on sportsground shortage   
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[post_title] => School ovals open for holidays as concerns of sportsground shortage mount [post_excerpt] => More than 80 public schools in NSW have opened their gates during the school holidays to allow community groups to use their playgrounds, ovals and courts, the State Government has announced. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => school-ovals-open-for-holidays-as-concerns-of-sportsground-shortage-mount [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-17 10:19:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-17 00:19:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29928 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29834 [post_author] => 675 [post_date] => 2018-04-10 10:56:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-04-10 00:56:17 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29848" align="aligncenter" width="530"] Randwick Council is taking steps to alleviate pressure on domestic violence shelters[/caption] Randwick Council has announced a plan to allocate affordable housing units to reduce the pressure on shelters, becoming the latest local government to help tackle domestic violence. Randwick Council mayor Lindsay Shurey argues that local government has a key role to play in breaking the cycle of domestic violence by leveraging affordable housing assets. The council currently operates 20 affordable housing homes, which are made available to eligible workers at a subsidised rate. “If we can allocate some of our suitably located affordable housing homes to women and children exiting out of domestic violence, it will free up refuge space for clients requiring crisis accommodation and related support services,” Clr Shurey said. A Randwick Council spokesperson said the initiative represents the first effort by a council in New South Wales to make a portion of affordable housing portfolio available for women and children leaving short-term domestic violence refuges. With police responding to 373 incidents of domestic violence in Randwick City between 2016 and 2017, 11.2 per cent higher than the state average, Clr Shurey says it is crucial that local government tackle the issue head first. “This is a new approach for local government,” she said.

Shelters a key issue: report

[caption id="attachment_29858" align="alignright" width="147"] Lindsay Shurey[/caption] A recent report by the Department of Social Services provides some evidence for Randwick Council’s scheme, citing the provision of domestic violence shelters through social housing as a key factor in reducing domestic violence. According to Clr Shurey, the resources will ease the pressure currently placed on short-term crisis centers and buffer women against being locked out of the housing market. “Many refuges are full with women and children who have experienced domestic violence staying for an extended period of time because of the difficulties in securing medium term housing in the private rental market,” she said. The proposal comes after council provided a funding boost to the local domestic violence support organisation, enabling it to operate for longer hours. With the recent proposal to boost domestic violence housing supported in principle at a meeting last week, the scheme could commence as soon as this year.

Examples of councils ‘playing their part’

The Australian Local Government Association says that given councils' significant reach within the community they are in a unique position to support awareness raising and prevention initiatives. [caption id="attachment_29845" align="alignright" width="127"] David O'Loughlin[/caption] “Although the capacity of each council differs, there are some empowering examples across the country of councils playing their part to change attitudes and prevent violence at the local level,” ALGA president David O’Loughlin told Government News. He points to the City of Whittlesea in Victoria, which developed a Family Violence Workplace Support Policy and was one of the first councils to introduce a family violence clause into its enterprise agreement in 2011. “Given it’s estimated that two-thirds of women who experience family violence are in the paid workforce, it’s vital for organisations, including councils, to make available workplace support to those experiencing violence.” Fellow Victorian council, Monash City Council has used its library to promote primary prevention messages developed through their Generating Equality and Respect Project, he added. Most state and territory local government associations have also worked cooperatively with state and territory governments to support state-wide initiatives. “The Local Government Association of Queensland joined in the Queensland Government’s push for new legislation on domestic violence after the Queensland domestic violence inquiry -The Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Act,” Cr O'Loughlin said.

Federal action

Meanwhile, at the federal level, a Fair Work Commission ruling last month prompted the Federal Government to introduce five days unpaid family and domestic violence leave, and a $100 million funding injection, among new measures to help tackle the issue. However, Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus said the Commonwealth’s policy would do nothing to help people move to a safer home. Despite increased public attention on the issue in recent years, and a range of measures at various levels of government, ABS data last year showed that one in six women continue to be subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or cohabiting partner. According to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures, more than 100,000 men, women and children sought homelessness services due to family violence in 2016-17. If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, contact 1800RESPECT.
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[post_title] => Council’s bid to combat domestic violence shelter shortage [post_excerpt] => Randwick Council has announced a plan to allocate affordable housing units to reduce the pressure on shelters, becoming the latest local government to help tackle domestic violence. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-bid-to-combat-domestic-violence-shelter-shortage [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-04-10 12:09:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-04-10 02:09:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29834 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29316 [post_author] => 655 [post_date] => 2018-03-05 15:23:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-03-05 04:23:39 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29317" align="aligncenter" width="518"] The new platform could help councils identify and support local initiatives says Matiu Bush[/caption] An Australian innovation could help local councils tackle worrying rates of social isolation in their communities, particularly among seniors living alone. The One Good Street initiative, created by Matiu Bush, the design integration lead at major community care provider Bolton Clarke, uses social networking to give neighbours the opportunity to offer assistance to older people and their carers through a supported platform. A street accreditation process provides a way of rewarding neighbours for their participation. The concept was developed after feedback from the organisation’s frontline care workers who identified social isolation as a significant factor affecting the wellbeing of seniors living at home. Mr Bush, who recently won an innovation challenge for his initiative, told Government News the platform could enable local councils to identify and leverage off the numerous informal supports and programs already helping seniors in their area. “In most neighbourhoods there are highly accessible and inclusive activities that provide opportunities to reduce social isolation and loneliness. These initiatives share knowledge, spaces, resources and equipment to help older people. “The issue is that currently organisations and local government often have little by way of relationship and neither knows what the other has to offer,” he said. Local government currently has limited organised infrastructure to support the numerous initiatives in their neighbourhoods, but the platform could enable councils and community initiatives to leverage off each other, Mr Bush said.
“Councils are able to see what streets are accredited and how much activity is occurring in the suburb. This visibility has previously been limited. As councils try to discern which initiatives to invest in, based on their impact with seniors, One Good Street provides opportunities to see which initiatives are most successful and in what combination."
Discussing how the platform worked, Mr Bush said that older people did not need to engage or use technology to benefit from the tool. Currently, One Good Street is a Facebook group that is suburb based, he said. Late last month the social networking tool won Queensland University of Technology’s Senior Living Innovation Challenge.
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[post_title] => Home alone: tool helps connect isolated residents [post_excerpt] => An Australian innovation could help local councils tackle worrying rates of social isolation in their communities, particularly among seniors living alone. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => home-alone-tool-helps-connect-isolated-residents [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-03-06 09:33:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-03-05 22:33:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29316 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29014 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-01-30 10:04:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-01-29 23:04:13 [post_content] =>

The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services (RoGS) has a large section on Health. The  sector is broken into public hospitals, primary and community health, ambulance services, and mental health management. Total government expenditure across Australia in 2016-17 for health services was estimated to be over $96.7 billion in 2015-16, around 43.2 per cent of total government expenditure on services. The largest contributor was public hospitals ($61.4 billion), followed by primary and community health ($32.1 billion) and ambulance services ($3.2 billion, in 2016-17). Expenditure for mental health management was $8.4 billion in 2015-16, but because much of this expenditure is already captured in the public hospital and primary community health expenditure it is not included in the health expenditure total to avoid double counting. The RoGS Health section is available here.

Public hospitals

In 2015-16, Australia had 701 public hospitals. About two thirds (69 percent) had 50 or fewer beds, with these smaller hospitals representing only 14.0 percent of total available beds. There were 60,957 available beds for admitted patients in public hospitals, equivalent to 2.6 beds per 1,000 people. The RoGS reports says the concept of an ‘available bed’ is becoming less important in the overall context of hospital activity, largely because of the increasing significance of same day hospitalisations and ‘hospital-in-the-home’ care. There were approximately 6.3 million separations from public (non-psychiatric) hospitals in 2015-16, of which just over half were same day patients. Nationally, this translates into 246.9 separations per 1,000 people. A key metric in the report is the proportion of patients in emergency departments who are attended to within various triage levels. All patients at level 1 (need for resuscitation) were seen immediately, with proportions declining with each level. NSW has the best result for wait times at level 2 (emergency), with 81 percent of patients seen within ten minutes. Overall wait times in all jurisdictions except Western Australia and Queensland have improved over the last few years, with around 70 percent of patients Australia wide now spending less than four hours in emergency. Waiting times for elective surgery are also measured – NSW does worst. Other metrics include accreditation to various standards, number of adverse events (infections, falls, etc.), patient satisfaction, readmission rates, and workforce sustainability (e.g. average age of nursing staff). There are also many cost metrics. One key metric – mortality rates in hospital – was not available.

Primary and community health

The major provider of primary healthcare in Australia is through general practice physicians, heavily subsidised through the Australian Government’s Medicare — mainly as fee‑for‑service payments via the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). Additional funding is provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and through initiatives such as the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) and Primary Health Networks (PHNs). State and territory governments also provide some funding for such programs, mainly to influence the availability of GPs in rural and remote areas. The remainder comes mainly from insurance schemes and patient contributions. The Australian Government also funds the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – around 70 percent of prescriptions for PBS listed medicines attract a PBS subsidy. This sector also includes government subsidised dental services, maternity and child health services, community health services, and a number of other health services such as subsidies for physiotherapy, psychology, occupational therapy, audiology, podiatry and osteopathy. In 2015‑16, of the $32.1 billion government recurrent expenditure on primary and community health services, around three-quarters was funded by the Australian Government and one-quarter by state, territory and local governments. The Australian Government spent $9.1 billion on general practice, another $9.1 billion through the PBS and RPBS on prescription medicines, and $704 million on funding health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. GP services per person were significantly lower than the national average in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT. People deferring visits to the GP because of the costs was highest in Tasmania and the ACT. The report looks at immunisation rates, public dentistry waiting times, cancer screening, GP accreditation, patient satisfaction, and a number of efficiency measures.

Ambulance services

Nationally in 2016-17 there were 3.5 million incidents resulting in 4.4 million ambulance service responses to attend to 3.3 million patients. Recurrent expenditure across Australia was approximately $3.2 billion, or $130 per person). There were 16,980 full time equivalent paid personnel, 6,575 volunteers and 3,178 community first responders in ambulance service organisations. Ambulance response times were highest in the Northern Territory and Tasmania, and lowest in the ACT. Other metrics include pain management, ‘sentinel events’ (process deficiencies), patient satisfaction, workforce attrition, cardiac arrest survival rates, and expenditure per person.

Mental health management.

$8.5 billion was allocated to mental health services in 2015‑16, equivalent to $355 per person. State and territory governments made the largest contribution ($5.4 billion or 63.1 percent, which includes Australian Government funding under the NHRA), with Australian Government expenditure of $3.1 billion. In 2015-16, 1.8 percent of the total population received state and territory government specialised mental health services  and 9.6 per cent of the total population received MBS/DVA subsidised mental health services.   [post_title] => PC Report on Government Services – Health [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => pc-report-government-services-health [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-01-30 10:04:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-01-29 23:04:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29014 [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] => 30804 [post_author] => 655 [post_date] => 2018-06-19 08:48:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-18 22:48:13 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_30670" align="aligncenter" width="658"] Health, education and infrastructure are big ticket items in NSW's 2018 budget.[/caption] Assertive outreach services and a new social impact investment are among the elements of a $1 billion homelessness package to be included in NSW’s budget today. Tailored support will be provided to rough sleepers, young people and victims of domestic violence under the package. The program includes $20 million over four years to a social impact investment on homelessness to tap into the expertise of the private and not-for-profit sector. It will provide for more assertive outreach services for rough sleepers, strengthened risk assessment to address individuals’ circumstances and enhanced support to maintain a tenancy. Included in the program is $9.1 million for additional transitional accommodation, $6.9 million on co-located homeless and health services and $6.2 million to expand the Staying Home Leaving Violence program to five new sites. The NSW Government’s budget will also contain $1 billion in new recurrent health funding to employ an extra 1370 workers, including 950 nurses and midwives, 300 doctors and 120 allied health professions. The State Government says that brings the budget’s total health spend to $23 billion. In education, the government will announce “the largest investment into schools by any state government in history” with funding of $6 billion over four years to deliver more than 170 new and upgraded schools. The budget contains funding for an extra 20 new and upgraded schools, the planning for which will begin this year. Work will commence on 40 new and upgraded school projects this year. In transport, the budget will outline a $1.5 billion investment in bus services throughout the state, which will see more than 2,000 extra bus services rolled out in the next 12 months. The number of trains running in the morning and afternoon peaks on the T4 and T8 lines will be increased with an $880 million investment in technology to modernise the Sydney Trains network. The key southern Sydney route Heathcote Road will get a $173 million package to improve safety and traffic flow, while $40 million will be spent sealing the last stretch of the Cobb and Silver City highways, meaning every major highway in the state will now be sealed. In resources, the budget will also contain $23 million for the recently established Natural Resources Access Regulators to increase water compliance and enforcement. The Australia Museum will undergo a $50 million refurbishment before it hosts Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, the largest Tutankhamun exhibition to ever leave Egypt, for a six-month run in early 2021.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
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[post_title] => Boost for health workforce, homeless services in NSW budget [post_excerpt] => Assertive outreach services and a new social impact investment are among the elements of a $1 billion homelessness package to be included in NSW’s budget today. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => boost-for-health-workforce-homeless-services-in-nsw-budget [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-06-19 08:48:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-06-18 22:48:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=30804 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 431 [max_num_pages] => 31 [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] => 4a9171b47bb30e44a6c3361f54578cc2 [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 ) )

Health & Social Services

RoGS health

PC Report on Government Services – Health

The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services (RoGS) has a large section on Health. The  sector is broken into public hospitals, primary and community health, ambulance services, and mental health management. Total government expenditure across Australia in 2016-17 for health services was estimated to be over $96.7 billion in 2015-16, around 43.2 per cent of […]