Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Industrial relations in opposition”s sights

Monday, 08 November 2010
By Samantha Maiden
The Australian
Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey yesterday flagged future workplace reform areas the Coalition would target.Unfair dismissal laws for small business and prescriptive rules on minimum hours of work were on the list.Despite Tony Abbott”s election pledge that Work Choices was “dead, buried, cremated”, Mr Hockey said a fresh debate on policy was consistent with that promise. The Liberal frontbencher said the Coalition should pursue a new IR agenda in the lead-up to the next election.

Mr Hockey said the suggestion all industrial relations reforms should be left untouched, even when they were causing difficulties, such as mandating the minimum number of hours that people can work, was nonsensical.

“That”s ridiculous. Unfair dismissal laws for small business are complex. I think small business is growing increasingly anxious about it,” he told Sky News”s Australian Agenda program.

“The modern awards, I can tell you, even at the local childcare centre, pre-school, they”re having problems with the new modern awards where they”re expected to pay staff less, not more.

“The fact of the matter is, as I”ve said previously, we”ve had three different systems in the last few years.

“But having said that,

as each day passes I think there is more and more evidence that the Fair Work system is creating distortions in the marketplace and, far from improving productivity, it”s actually detracting from it.”

Rather than walking away from Tony Abbott”s commitment to not changing the system in the three years of a first term of government, Mr Hockey said his own calls for a reform debate were consistent with this pledge.

“We”re in opposition, we”re not moving private members” bills in that regard; we are being entirely consistent,” he said.

“If the election is in three years, we have to go to that election with an industrial relations policy. I might say, we said we”re not changing the Fair Work Act.

“The thought that you”re going to have an industrial relations minister sit on the porch of Parliament House and smoke a cigar for three years is just ridiculous.”

Mr Hockey said the Coalition was well placed to repel any Work Choices scare campaign.

“You know what, the reality, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey set about changing Work Choices,” he said.

“Tony Abbott argued in cabinet against the removal of the no-disadvantage test, and Joe Hockey did get it removed.

“I”m not sure that”s in John Howard”s book. I”ll have to check.”


Mission Australia opens new childcare service

Thursday, 04 November 2010
By Michelle Taverniti
Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser

A NEWLY renovated Macarthur Early Childhood Intervention Service was opened by Mission Australia last week.

The service, which began at Leumeah 21 years ago, caters for children from birth to school-age with disabilities and delays.

Programs are tailored to the individual needs of each child and family and include therapy, parent education, support, preschool skills and school transition.

The centre got a second storey as part of the renovation, as well as an extra office, meeting room space, a private meeting area for parents and new bathroom and

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possible by a $200,000 donation from Macquarie Group Foundation and $50,000 obtained by Mission Australia through the state government”s Community Building Partnerships Program. Campbelltown MP Graham West officially opened the refurbished centre last Monday, October 25.

Mission Australia chief executive Toby Hall said the renovations and expansions were proof that the service was needed in the Macarthur area.

“Hundreds of children and their families have been touched by the service over more than two decades,” he said.

“We certainly hope thousands will benefit in the future.

“Services like MECIS are really important to Mission Australia as we believe that all Australian children, no matter what their circumstances, should experience a safe, healthy and happy childhood.

“All the latest research says that if we provide support to children with disabilities and delays as early in life as possible, they achieve much better long-term outcomes.

“Children can receive holistic support to meet their needs including early education, speech therapy, physiotherapy, and behaviour management and there are also group parenting programs while the children are taking part in group activities.”


Day care slashed in budget

Saturday, 06 November 2010
By Melissa Mack
The Independent Weekly

Priscilla Schwanz holds Zander tightly in her lounge room, furious at state budget cuts which will leave Family Day Care with a decimated central office.
The anti-poverty budget was cut in half in Treasurer Kevin Foley’s state budget, but the ramifications are only now being felt.

It was revealed this week that the health, education and transport departments would bear the brunt of the public-service job cuts this financial year.

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350 jobs will go in the Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS), including 13.5 full-time-equivalent positions from the small but essential Family Day Care service.

Family Day Care educators operate businesses at their own home, blackjack supported by central office staff. It is an affordable form of childcare for children with additional needs, supported by a State Government rebate, which also provides respite and overnight care if needed.

A spokesperson for DECS said the cuts were in line with national changes to the regulation of Family Day Care which mean that from 2012, the sector will be regulated by a state authority.

“Family Day Care providers will continue to receive support from central office and will be given increased support from their local DECS regional office,” the spokesperson said.

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Schwanz, president of the Care Providers of South Australia (COSA), is dubious about claims of ongoing support.

The job losses from the central office include the state manger, policy adviser and training manager, as well as other important administrative staff.

“We are alarmed,” Ms Schwanz said. “Without our central office, who will make decisions on educators’ behalf? How will we be heard?”

South Australian Council of Social Service executive director Ross Womersley is concerned there was no clear strategy to budget cuts.

“Family Day Care is another area where we see funding cuts to a group of people in the front line supporting disadvantaged people,” he said.

Mr Womersley said other anti-poverty cuts included the removal of 44 financial counselling positions from the Department of Families and Communities.

The job losses will save the department $8 million over three years. Part of the financial counselling program involved allocating emergency funding to people in need, which will now be taken on by non-government organisations (NGOs).

“It is proposed that this funding will be distributed through NGOs already funded to provide financial advice and assistance,” Families and Communities Minister Jennifer Rankine said.

But Mr Womersley said the cuts would have far-reaching implications.

“This is a very preventative support and without it, it adds to the pressure and increasing likelihood families won’t be able to do as well financially.

“It was also an effective intervention and terrific way for the department to have some interaction with families and have the opportunity to develop a relationship with them and have some good influence.”


Whooping cough alert for parents

Tuesday, 09 November 2010
By Rebecca Woolley
The Manly Daily

INFORMATION packs will be distributed in the community to help reduce the spread of whooping cough in newborns following an increase in the disease.

Childcare centres, councils, schools, pharmacies, GPs and healthcare centres will be given pamphlets as part of an awareness campaign to protect babies under 12 months. It is aimed at identifying the potentially deadly disease, preventing it from spreading.

Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt said the free Pertussis vaccine program would be continued until at least July next year.

Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said infants could receive their first vaccination as early as six weeks of age.

“Infants may not develop sufficient pertussis protection until the three-dose course of whooping cough vaccine is completed,” she said. “Parents should ask people with a coughing illness to stay away from their baby.”

A total 314 cases were reported in April but this increased to 1000 in October and 5372 cases have been notified in NSW so far this year. For details go to: www.health.nsw.gov.au.


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