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Long COVID inquiry visits Liverpool Hospital

A PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE inquiry will hear from frontline health professionals about treating long COVID and its effect on the health system.

The public hearing will be held on Monday, December 5, 2022 at Liverpool Hospital in South West Sydney as part of the House Health Committee’s inquiry into long COVID and repeated COVID infections.

Chair of the Committee, Mike Freelander MP, said, "The hearing will be an opportunity to hear from frontline health professionals about how our health system is managing long COVID, and their experience supporting patients with repeated COVID infections during some of the toughest days of the pandemic."

Deputy Chair of the Committee, Melissa McIntosh MP, said, "The committee is looking forward to hearing from hospitals, research organisations and other healthcare workers about what they have learned so far about long COVID and repeated COVID infections based on their observations while treating COVID-positive patients both during their infection and in the months after."

The committee intends to hold more public hearings in due course. While submissions to the inquiry closed on November 18, individuals and organisations wanting to make a late submission have been advised to contact the secretariat by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as soon as possible.

Further information about the inquiry, including the terms of reference and published submissions are available on the Committee’s website.

Public hearing details

Date: Monday, 5 December 2022Time: 9am (AEDT) to 4.40pm (AEDT)Location: Liverpool Hospital Education and Research Centre, Hospital Eastern Campus

Program:9.00am–9.50am: Nepean Hospital9.50am–10.40am: Westmead Hospital10.40am–11.00am: Break11.00am–11.50am: The Children’s Hospital at Westmead11.50am–12.40pm: Liverpool Hospital12.40pm–1.30pm: Break1.30pm–2.20pm: Campbelltown Hospital2.20pm–3.00pm: Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research3.00pm–3.20pm: Break3.20pm–4.00pm: Dr Kenneth McCroary, Macarthur General Practice4.00pm–4.40pm: Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation4.40pm: Close

Audio of the hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

 

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Treaties Committee supports Australia-Japan Reciprocal Access Agreement and Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications

THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has tabled a report into two major treaties: the Agreement between Australia and Japan concerning the Facilitation of Reciprocal Access and Cooperation between the Australian Defence Force and the Self-Defense Forces of Japan (Australia-Japan RAA), and the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education (Global Convention).

The Committee has recommended the Australian Government ratify both treaties.

Committee chair, Josh Wilson MP said, “The Australia-Japan RAA builds on the long-standing defence relationship between Australia and Japan, and would both simplify and strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries in the context of a deteriorating strategic environment.

“The Australia-Japan RAA deals comprehensively with the entry and departure of the Visiting Force and Civilian Component, their movement and operation within the territory of each Party, command and control, and matters of criminal jurisdiction and claims."

The issue of the death penalty that applies in Japan for certain offences was examined by the committee. It found that while blanket immunity for Australian personnel serving in Japan was not achieved, considerable steps had been taken to protect personnel from the risk of being subject to the death penalty, while also maintaining Australia’s international obligations.

The Committee recognised the importance of Australia’s principled position opposing the death penalty, as set out in Australia’s whole-of-government strategy for the abolition of the death penalty.

Regarding the Global Convention, Mr Wilson said, “The Global Convention establishes universal principles and processes for the recognition of studies and qualifications, and the right of individuals to have their foreign qualifications assessed in a fair, transparent, and non-discriminatory manner.

“The Global Convention would provide a framework for the recognition of Australian qualifications internationally, and the recognition of overseas qualifications in Australia, and in so doing would potentially have significant benefits for Australia’s education sector."

The committee agreed that in a highly competitive international marketplace, the Global Convention would add value to Australian qualifications and help to attract skilled professionals. Importantly, Australian decision makers would retain full autonomy with regard to which overseas qualifications would be recognised and how that would occur.

The report can be found on the Committee website, along with further information on the inquiry.

 

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Road resiliency inquiry launched

THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Development, Infrastructure and Transport has today launched an inquiry into the implications of severe weather events on the national regional, rural, and remote road network.

Chair of the committee, Luke Gosling OAM, MP, said, "The inquiry will look at road engineering and construction standards to strengthen road resiliency against natural disasters, including the critical role of climate change trends and data to inform infrastructure standards.

"The committee is concerned about the increasing deterioration of the nation’s road network, particularly in regional, rural, and remote areas. The extreme flooding events and other natural disasters across the nation have impacted many Australians, and the Committee is seeking to understand how road planning and construction may be improved to enhance road climate resiliency and support our communities."

Mr Gosling said the committee was seeking written submissions, ideally of no more than 10 pages, from organisations and individuals providing recommendations relating to any or all of the inquiry terms of reference by February 28, 2023.

Further information about the inquiry, including published submissions and hearing transcripts, will be available on the inquiry web page.

 

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Radio frequency spectrum management in regional Australia

A PARLIAMENTARY inquiry will hear how the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA’s) management of radiofrequency spectrum may impact on regional mobile phone coverage.

The House Communications and the Arts Committee will hear how ACMA oversees more than 170,000 commercial, government and individual licensees operating in Australia at a public hearing today (November 30) for its parliamentary inquiry into co‑investment in regional mobile carrier infrastructure.

Spectrum is a key input for the delivery of wireless broadband (fixed and mobile), satellite and broadcasting services, according to ACMA. With relevant spectrum capable of providing national coverage currently licensed to each of the three mobile carriers, ACMA’s submission to the inquiry states that spectrum availability and access is not a current barrier to terrestrial mobile network expansion.

Committee Chair, Brian Mitchell MP, outlined the Committee will be seeking ACMA’s views on access to spectrum if co-investment looms as the best tool to encourage multiple telecommunications providers in regional areas to invest in and share ‘multi-carrier’ mobile towers to improve the range and reliability of their services.

Public hearingWitness: Australian Communications and Media AuthorityTime and date: 12:40pm AEDT November 30Location: Committee Room 1R6 Parliament House Canberra

The inquiry’s terms of reference and information about the Committee may be found on the Committee’s webpage.

 

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Disability Employment Australia strongly supports the two-year extension of the DES program

DISABILITY Employment Australia (DEA) has congratulated the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth MP and the Albanese Government’s decision to extend DES for two years.

According to DEA CEO, Rick Kane, it is a reasonable and considered approach to an important reform. This will ensure that suitable time is available for ideas to enhance the current DES to be tested and trialled, with a core focus on quality service and improved employment outcomes for people with disability.

"The Minister and Government have demonstrated their commitment to improving the employment opportunities of people with disability via the recent disability employment round table, Jobs and Skills Summit and development of a White Paper," Mr Kane said.

He said most DEA members had been operating the DES program for more than 20 years in towns and cities across Australia. DES providers have secure sustainable employment for more than 200,000 people with disability since 2018.

"They have done an excellent job, engaging people with disability seeking employment, their families, communities, and employers," Mr Kane said.

"DEA expects that the next stage of the process, designing a new model of disability employment to include disability representative organisations, employer groups and provider peak bodies such as DEA. DES providers also play a critical role in understanding service quality and ensuring that people with disability are the centre of decision-making and service.

"DEA also supports the government decision to open consultation on modernising the Disability Services Act 1986, seeking to put people with disability and their views at the centre of policy design.  

“The Albanese Government has made the right decision to extend DES so we can start work on the next stage of reforming DES," DEA CEO, Rick Kane said. "The process must be truly consultative, engage evidence, data and experience and allow enough time for testing. We look forward to working with Minister Rishworth and the Department and other stakeholders to continue to improve the disability employment service model.”

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Hearings on the importance of electoral processes in supporting democracy regionally

THE IMPORTANCE of strengthening the electoral processes of Australia’s regional neighbours will be examined this week at a public hearing held by the Foreign Affairs and Aid Subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT).

The subcommittee will hear from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in relation to its inquiry into supporting democracy in the region. Chair of the subcommittee, Josh Burns MP, said the Subcommittee "looks forward to hearing from International IDEA, an intergovernmental organisation that supports sustainable democracy around the world".

"Electoral assistance is one element that the subcommittee will focus on throughout this inquiry," Mr Burns said "The subcommittee will use this opportunity to identify how best to support our neighbours in promoting strong electoral processes and, as a result, encouraging democratic participation."

Submissions to this inquiry close on Friday, December 16, 2022. Submissions should be lodged online using a My Parliament account. Further information in relation to the inquiry is available on the inquiry website.

Public hearing details

Date: Thursday, 1 December 2022Time: 11:30am – 12:30pmLocation: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra

The hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

 

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Plastic pollution in committee’s sights

THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water has commenced a new inquiry into plastic pollution in Australia’s oceans and waterways.

In launching the inquiry, Committee Chair, Tony Zappia MP said, "Australia produces some 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste annually and of this, around 130,000 tonnes leaks into the environment, including our oceans and waterways.

"The impact of plastic pollution on marine environments is significant, particularly as larger plastic items break down and leave microplastic remnants that are absorbed by plants, wildlife, and humans," Mr Zappia said.

"The inquiry will consider the effectiveness of existing frameworks and engagement initiatives aimed at reducing plastic pollution while also examining impactful approaches across the world."

The committee’s inquiry will examine the impact of plastic pollution, including microplastics, having regard to:

  • the environmental impacts of plastic pollution particularly in oceans and waterways;
  • the effectiveness of Australia’s plastics management framework under the National Plastics Plan and related policies to reduce plastic pollution particularly in oceans and waterways;
  • the effectiveness of the Australian Government’s engagement with states, territories, industry and non-government organisations to reduce plastic pollution particularly in oceans and waterways;
  • the effectiveness of community campaigns to reduce plastic pollution particularly in oceans and waterways and encourage the use of alternative materials;
  • global initiatives underway to reduce plastic pollution particularly in oceans and waterways;
  • any other relevant matter.

The committee is inviting submissions to the inquiry addressing any or all of the terms of reference by December 22, 2022.

Further information about the committee’s inquiry is available on its website.

 

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Community Legal Centres welcome the passing of Respect@Work as a 'huge milestone for Australia'

LEADING Community Legal Centres (CLCs) have welcomed the passing of the Government’s Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Respect at Work) Bill 2022.  

The Bill gives legislative effect to key Respect@Work recommendations, including the creation of a positive duty on employers to take reasonable and proportionate measures to eliminate unlawful sex discrimination. It was also a key election commitment for the Albanese Government.

Kingsford Legal Centre director Emma Golledge said of the changes, “We are thrilled by the creation of a positive duty on employers to eliminate sexual harassment at work. We have been advocating for this for many years.

"This provision has the potential to have a profound impact on the lives of many workers in Australia. This will mean employers will have a legal obligation to take concrete steps to make workplaces safer and free from sex discrimination. This will have a cultural and systemic impact, with the burden of preventing and addressing sexual harassment being shifted to those in positions of power.”

Statutory review provision

CLCs also congratulate the Federal Government for amending the Bill to include a statutory review clause. Under the Bill, the Minister will commence an independent review of the Bill two years after the enforcement provisions for the positive duty come into effect. This will include a review of whether the Australian Human Rights Commission is adequately supported to carry out its enforcement role for the positive duty.

Women’s Legal Service NSW principal solicitor Pip Davis said, “This Bill is too important to not be subject to ongoing statutory review. The Bill creates provision for at least one review.

"Statutory review will be vital to ensure that the provisions on enforcing the positive duty are working in practice, and that the Bill is achieving its key goals of eliminating unlawful sex discrimination and holding employers accountable for failing to provide a workplace that is safe and free from sexual harassment. It will also give us the opportunity to assess whether the Australian Human Rights Commission is being properly funded and supported to undertake its key role of enforcing the positive duty.”

Community Legal Centres Australia’s representative on the Respect @Work Council, Zana Bytheway also noted the importance of statutory review of the Bill so that the amended legislation ensures greater consistency and intersectionality in federal anti-discrimination law.

"This Bill is a huge first step, but it is just the beginning in terms of reforming federal anti-discrimination laws to operate more consistently and reflect the intersectional nature of discrimination," Ms Bytheway said.

"For example, our centres will be advocating for a positive duty on employers to not just prevent sexual harassment but to prevent other forms of discrimination at work, including discrimination based on disability, age, and race. This provision will assist us with this work.”

Costs review on Federal Anti-discrimination law

While the government originally proposed a ‘cost neutral’ approach to costs in federal discrimination matters under the Bill, this provision has been removed. The provision sought to create a presumption that parties bear their own costs in federal discrimination matters. Community Legal Centres had raised concerns about how the provision would operate for CLC clients.

CLCs have been advocating for an “equal access” model for costs. This approach would provide people who bring discrimination matters in the federal courts with greater protection against an adverse costs order if they lose their matter, but still enable them to access an order for the other side to pay their legal fees if they win.

The Attorney-General’s Department has committed to immediately commencing a review into the approach to costs in discrimination matters. CLCs have supported this in the short-term to provide greater opportunity for consultation on the best costs model for the Bill.

Kingsford Legal Centre's Ms Emma Golledge said, “The issue of costs in human rights matters is a key access to justice issue for many of our clients. Even the strongest discrimination cases can lose in court on technical points.

"We look forward to continuing to advocate through this review process for the best costs model. Australia must get this costs issue right so that women who experience sexual harassment at work are not afraid to litigate matters and hold perpetrators to account.”

www.clcs.org.au

www.wlsnsw.org.au

www.unsw.edu.au

 

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Treaties Committee supports ratification of a further trade agreement, this time with India

THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has recommended the Australian Government ratifies the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA). This comes shortly after the committee recommended ratification of the free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.

Committee Chair, Josh Wilson MP said, “This ‘early harvest’ agreement with India paves the way for further trade, market access, investment and regulation that requires global cooperation. The AI-ECTA also ensures that Australia will not be excluded from improved trade and market access which may arise from agreements India subsequently negotiates with other nations.

“As an interim agreement however, the AI-ECTA is not as comprehensive in its scope and coverage as other trade agreements and under-achieves in areas of potential and immediate interest to Australia such as wine.

“As Australia moves towards a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, the committee has noted the importance of improved tariff reductions, greater access to services, and on broader matters like intellectual property, cultural heritage, the environment, and labour rights.”

The committee also took the opportunity in this report to express concerns regarding the extent and quality of consultation, transparency of negotiations, and lack of independent modelling and analysis of trade agreements.

In doing so, the committee again recommended the Australian Government implements the recommendations made in Report 193: Strengthening the Trade Agreement and Treaty-Making Process in Australia.

The report can be found on the Committee website, along with further information on the inquiry.

 

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Hearings on migration as a pathway to nation building

AUSTRALIA is a migrant nation and one of the world’s most successful multicultural societies, with over half the population born overseas or having at least one parent born overseas. Broad and inclusive migration has been a cornerstone of modern Australia’s social, cultural, and economic prosperity.

The role of migration in continuing to shape the nation is the focus of a new inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on Migration. The Migration, Pathway to Nation Building inquiry will broadly examine how permanent migration contributes to nation building, cultural diversity and social cohesion, and acts as a strategic enabler of vibrant economies and socially sustainable communities.

Committee Chair, Maria Vamvakinou MP, said the inquiry would complement the on-going Federal Government review of the migration system, recently announced by the Minister for Home Affairs, by taking a ‘big picture’ view of migration and through hearing from wide sectors of the Australian community on how migration can continue to underpin Australia’s prosperity and growth.

"The policy settings we put in place today will help shape the size and composition of Australia’s population for generations to come," Ms Vamvakinou said. "That is why we must consider this issue carefully and get it right.

As a nation, we need to do more to attract and retain the best people to contribute to the Australian economy in the face of fierce international competition for talent and severe labour shortages at home. We need to consider how migration can best contribute to cultural enrichment and social cohesion, and how we can strengthen pathways to permanent residency and citizenship for migrants and their families," she said.

‘Migrants come to Australia with a wide array of life experiences, knowledge, skills, and unique perspectives. We need to think how we can enable migrants to leverage these attributes for their own betterment and fulfilment, and to contribute to the growth and resilience of the nation," Ms Vamvakinou said.

Ms Vamvakinou encouraged all interested individuals and groups to contribute their thoughts on this vital issue. Submissions to the inquiry are open until Monday February 13, 2023.

More details on the inquiry are available on the Committee website.

The terms of reference for the inquiry are:

The Joint Standing Committee on Migration shall inquire into and report on Australia’s migration system, with reference to:

  1. The role of permanent migration in nation building, cultural diversity, and social cohesion;
  2. Immigration as a strategic enabler of vibrant economies and socially sustainable communities in our cities and regional hubs;
  3. Attraction and retention strategies for working migrants to Australia;
  4. Policy settings to strengthen skilled migrant pathways to permanent residency;
  5. Strengthening labour market participation and the economic and social contribution of migrants, including family and humanitarian migrants and the partners of working migrants;
  6. The role of settlement services and vocational training in utilising migrant experiences, knowledge, and opportunities; and
  7. Other related matters that may assist the inquiry.

 

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SafeWork NSW wants businesses to have their say on 'healthy work'

BUSINESSES and communities can now have their say in shaping SafeWork NSW’s new strategy to enhance health and safety measures for workers across the State.

Head of SafeWork NSW, Natasha Mann said the NSW Government wanted to hear from workers, employers and business stakeholders to help inform the Towards Healthy Work Plan due to be launched in late 2023.

“Prevention of workplace incidents has mainly focused on identifying physical hazards in the workplace but research shows health and safety can be improved further when work is designed to be physically and psychologically healthy and workers are engaged in the way work is done,” Ms Mann said.

“SafeWork NSW is encouraging the business community to review our principles of ‘Healthy Work’ and to contribute to ideas, stories and examples of work practices that are healthy.

“Recent amendments to the WHS regulations have introduced specific obligations to consider employees’ psychological health when designing systems at work. SafeWork NSW now wants to encourage an integrated approach towards healthy work in their plan," mS mANN SAID.

“During the consultation period, we want your input, including examples of how healthy work is good for business, how leadership is fundamental to creating healthy work, and the ways in which healthy work can positively influence lives.

“This ‘have your say’ proposes to strengthen an already robust work health and safety framework and ensure clarity and consistency across various industries.

“We want all stakeholders to have an opportunity to provide feedback and to share examples of what they look for in a healthy workplace," she said.

“This work builds on SafeWork’s commitment to improving work health and safety by ensuring businesses meet their compliance obligations, and are supported to achieve healthy, safe and productive workplaces.”

Read more and have your say at: https://www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/healthy-work?utm_medium=email&utm_source=MR

Consultations close 5pm on Tuesday, January 31, 2023.

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