Massive rise in racism concerns must impel action

Australian Greens Anti-racism spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has said the findings of the latest Mapping Social Cohesion report, which highlight a substantial increase in Australians’ concerns about racism, should drive government action. 60% of people now say racism is a big problem, up from 40% just last year.
Senator Faruqi said:
“People are more and more worried about rising racism in the community.
“Increasing community awareness has aligned with the continued growth of far-right, racist movements. The impacts of racist hatred on minority communities can no longer be denied.
“Meanwhile, the Morrison government’s head is firmly planted in the sand. The government hasn’t funded a national anti-racism strategy since 2015.
“Just because a conservative government full of white men doesn’t feel the brunt of racism doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
“ASIO is now saying up to 50 per cent of its domestic counter-terrorism caseload is taken up by ideologically-motivated extremism, which has been driven by a rise in right-wing extremism.
“We urgently need federal government investment in a national anti-racism strategy and a coordinated plan to tackle the far-right.”

National emissions data shows pollution rising

Today’s quarterly emissions data reveals that emissions have risen by almost 2% this quarter and that the temporary decrease in carbon pollution during COVID-19 is wearing off.
Even more concerningly, June quarter emissions were 128 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, the highest number since December 2019 and the beginning of the pandemic.
Leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt MP said this proves the only way to take genuine action on climate change is to kick the Liberals out, and put the Greens into balance of power.
Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP said:
“We’re in a climate emergency, but emissions are increasing.
“Our pollution needs to be rapidly falling but instead it’s increasing.
“Emissions are at their highest level since December 2019.
“A pandemic is not a climate plan.
“Scott Morrison has been relying on lockdowns to deliver his measly emissions cuts, but across Australia, Labor and Liberal Federal, State and Territory governments are opening more coal and gas projects, and now we’re starting to see the effect of it.
“We need to get out of fossil fuels, but Liberal and Labor are opening up more coal and gas, and now our emissions are rising instead of falling.
“What part of ‘no more coal and gas’ don’t Liberal and Labor understand? This week’s approval of $50 million to frack the Beetaloo Basin will increase Australia’s emission even further.
“We need to take genuine climate action, and we can’t take another three years of the Liberals’ lies and fudged figures. We need to kick the Liberals out and put the Greens into balance of power, where we’ll push the next government to phase out coal and gas and reduce emissions 75% by 2030.”

$37.2 million for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder support and awareness

The Morrison Government is investing more than $37 million for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) diagnostic services to increase access and reduce waiting times, as well as launching a new National Awareness Campaign for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Women.
FASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol. It is a preventable disorder which can have a terrible, lifelong impact on mothers, their babies and families.
FASD babies suffer increased risk of premature birth, as well as permanent damage to their brain and other critical organs. More than 2 per cent of Australian babies may be born with some form of FASD.
From November 30, in an Australian first, a new awareness campaign to increase awareness of the risks associated with alcohol consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The campaign aims to support and inform women to make healthy choices while planning and during a pregnancy to reduce the risk and the incidence of FASD.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the Morrison Government was providing $27.4 million to the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), who will deliver the campaign.
“The campaign will feature messages for the general public, priority groups such as women at higher risk of alcohol exposed pregnancies, health professionals, and Indigenous populations,” Minister Hunt said.
“It also builds on our ongoing commitment to support women and families to stop drinking when trying for a baby and during their pregnancy, to prevent babies from being born with FASD, and help babies born with this condition.”
The Morrison Government is also supporting children with FASD and their families by investing $9 million to expand diagnostic services in New South Wales (including regional locations), regional Victoria and Southern and Central Queensland.
Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie, said it’s important that all families and children that need these support services can access them when and where they need them, regardless of where they live.
“The University of Sydney will receive more than $4 million to boost FASD services through the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network in multiple rural and regional communities in NSW, as well as Sydney,” Minister Gillespie said.
“The funding will also support Patches Assessment Services (NSW), the University of Queensland and the Victorian Foetal Alcohol Service (Monash Health) to deliver new services and treatment to Australians who need it.”
This funding brings total Government investment in the fight against FASD to more than
$78 million since 2014.
The funding to expand FASD diagnostic services was announced in the 2020–21 Budget as part of FASD diagnostic and support services to support the National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Strategic Action Plan 2018–2028.
For more information visit the Department of Health website for the National Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan 2018–2028.

Results of FASD grant opportunity

Grant Recipient Project Description Funding Amount (ex GST)
University of Sydney
The FASD diagnostic service will operate as a hub-and-spoke model based out of the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network with sites in multiple rural and regional communities across New South Wales. $4,846,976.67
Patches Assessment Services
FASD diagnostic services will be provided within the youth justice system in Newcastle, with outreach services to Port Macquarie, Lismore and Ballina. This project recognises the over-representation of people with FASD in the criminal justice system. $2,148,163.44
University of Queensland
Funding will allow for expansion of the existing University of Queensland and Children’s Health Queensland Neurodevelopmental Clinic to reduce the current 3-year waitlist for access to services. Services will be delivered in locations across southern and central Queensland via a tiered model including telehealth support and upskilling of regional practitioners. $1,566,640.00
Victorian Fetal Alcohol Service (Monash Health)
Funding will allow expansion of the existing Commonwealth-funded Victorian Fetal Alcohol Service into more regional communities across Victoria.  Services will be delivered through a tiered model including upskilling of regional practitioners to diagnose FASD independently. $1,249,218.41


New guidelines to help GPs care for patients impacted by violence and abuse

Australian health practitioners will be better able to care for patients and their children experiencing violence and abuse under new guidelines being released today.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has released the 5th edition of The White Book, which contains updated, evidence-based guidelines designed to help health practitioners identify and respond in clinical practice to patients impacted by family and domestic violence and abuse.
To ensure the continued release of The White Book, the Morrison Government invested $300,000 over two years through the Improving Health System Response to Family and Domestic Violence – National Training for Primary Care Workforce initiative.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the initiative supports the Fourth Action Plan (2019-2022) of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (2021-2022).
“We know family violence and abuse is sadly part of the lives of many Australians across the country. We also know victims and survivors often turn to their GP for support, and that their GPs response can make all the difference,” Minister Hunt said.
“The update of this key resource for GPs will ensure our nation’s doctors have best practice guidance on how to recognise and respond to people experiencing family and domestic violence.”
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the impacts of violence in the community cannot be ignored and often present in a health context.
“GPs are highly respected and trusted members of the community which means they are often the first person to which a victim-survivor will make a disclosure,” Minister Ruston said.
“This is an important update to The White Book which will equip GPs and other health practitioners with the latest evidence-based knowledge and make a real difference for patients who have made the courageous decision to disclose details of violence, assault or abuse.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey 2016, an estimated 1 in 6 (17%, or 1.6 million) women and 1 in 16 (6.1%, or 0.5 million) men had experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or previous cohabiting partner since the age of 15.
The White Book will be published on the RACGP website.

Morrison gas plan proves even Net Zero 2050 is a lie

The Greens have slammed the Morrison Government’s 2021 national gas infrastructure plan as exposing its Net Zero 2050 pledge as a short term ruse to fool the US and UK in Glasgow.
Despite the IEA’s repeated calls for no new coal mines or gas fields to meet net zero by 2050, the plan is hoping to open three new gas basins (Beetaloo,  Gunnedah and North Bowen-Galilee basins) and build up to eleven new gas transmission pipelines spanning thousands of kilometres across the country.
The government’s gas plan doesn’t even look at the alternative to new supply, which is switching  homes and businesses away from gas, which will be far cheaper than building new pipelines, but create more jobs, save everyone money, reduce childhood asthma and help reverse the climate crisis
The plan makes no reference to net zero by 2050, demonstrating that the government isn’t even pretending to meet their own globally pledged aspirations.
The Greens’ policy is for net zero by 2035 as net zero by 2050 is too late for a developed country like Australia, but this new gas plan shows the government isn’t even committed to its own  weak target.
Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP said:
“The Morrison Government lied to the international community as well as the Australian public. Australia has no pathway to net zero, even by too-late 2050, and this plan is the proof.
“The rest of the world wants to cut methane, but Liberal and Labor want more gas.
“The International Energy Agency says no new oil, coal, or gas if we want to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. This plan for massive gas expansion locks in devastating global heating and it means climate catastrophe within our lifetimes.
“Labor and Liberal have both proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are captured by the gas corporations.
“If Labor are serious about climate action, they’ll join the Greens next week in the Senate to block fracking the NT at Beetaloo and Santos’ rorting of carbon capture and storage.
“With the Government in chaos, Labor should join with the Greens and strike while the iron is hot. Climate action could start in parliament next week; we don’t need to wait for an election.”
Senator Dorinda Cox, Greens spokesperson for Mining and Resources said:
“The government has put fracking in the NT at the centre of their gas plan. The Greens will support Traditional Owners to make sure these destructive gas plans never see the light of day.
“For over a decade, Traditional Owners have been clear: they don’t want fracking on their Country. Consent matters – and that has not been given by the First Nations communities that span the land earmarked for fracking.
“Public money should be spent on the services that make communities in the NT stronger, not funnelled to gas corporations to pollute their land and water. This plan will line the pockets of gas corporations instead of supporting Traditional Owners’ ability to live safely on land and On Country.
“This addiction to gas has infected the minds of decision makers in my home State of WA with the State Government there now showing signs of supporting the expansion of the destructive Scarborough project.
“Their blatant disregard for cultural heritage will not only pollute the planet but will permanently destroy the ancient Murajuga rock art.”

Omicron spurs urgency of TRIPS waiver and vaccine equity

Australian Greens International Development spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has said that the emergence of the Omicron variant has put further pressure on Australia to co-sponsor an intellectual property waiver on Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
At its upcoming ministerial meetings, the WTO will consider the intellectual property waiver first proposed by India and South Africa more than one year ago.
Senator Faruqi said:
“The global Covid crisis continues to evolve but Australia is missing in action. Omicron has put further pressure on wealthy countries like Australia to step up and support vaccination across the world.
“It’s absolutely critical that Australia comes out in strong support of the intellectual property waiver as proposed by India and South Africa.
“By refusing to co-sponsor the waiver, Australia has taken the side of big pharmaceutical companies over the health and wellbeing of millions of people.
“In addition, Australia should substantially boost funding to the COVAX vaccine facility to ramp up vaccination in low-income countries. Our per capita contributions, to this point, have been miserly.”

Legal Service CEO and Local Mum to Stand for Bonner

CEO of the Aboriginal Family Legal Service Southern Queensland and Manly West mum Tabatha Young has been endorsed to contest the seat of Bonner at the next Federal Election for the Australian Labor Party.
Working with women and families who are facing Domestic Violence and the Child Protection System, Tabatha knows the impact Scott Morrison’s inability to walk the talk has had for the community.
Tabatha will be a fierce advocate for Government action supporting survivors of Domestic and Family Violence and funding for essential services to Bonner such as health and aged care.
“Scott Morrison has not taken responsibility for the inadequate services here in Bonner, with Gunda Pa providing only limited health services since the LNP closed the Wynnum Hospital. Bonner is being left behind when it comes to health care and essential services under Scott Morrison.”
“After the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, we have seen too little action taken by Scott Morrison for a sector in crisis. Even in our own backyard, the Macleay Ward at the Redlands Hospital has been converted into a dementia ward when we know those patients should be in a specialised care facility, not a hospital bed.”
“The people of Bonner deserve a representative who listens to them and is on their side. It’s time for a change here in Bonner.”
Senator Murray Watt said “Scott Morrison has given the community of Bonner nothing but political spin since he took on the job of Prime Minister. Tabatha is an authentic member of the Bonner community and will be a strong advocate as part of the Labor team in Brisbane.”
Labor Leader Anthony Albanese also welcomed Tabatha to the Labor team.
“Labor has a plan to fix our health system and create secure, local jobs here in Queensland and I need strong advocates on my team like Tabatha to help deliver Labor’s plan for Queensland.”
“Tabatha’s advocacy and experience will make her a strong representative for Bonner.”

New treatment for Australians with leukaemia

From 1 December 2021, Australians with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) will have access to a new treatment option on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
The Morrison Government is expanding the list of Venclexta® (venetoclax) for the treatment of AML, for use in combination with azacitidine.
AML is a type of cancer that appears suddenly and grows quickly. AML occurs when immature white blood cells called blasts become cancerous. These abnormal blast cells are known as leukaemia cells.
Because the leukaemia cells are immature and abnormal, they don’t carry out the usual infection-fighting role of white blood cells. In AML, changes in these cells prevent them from turning into mature blood cells, resulting in too many of them and too few mature blood cells, platelets and other white blood cells in the blood.
Venclexta® targets and blocks the action of a specific protein within leukaemia cells called BCL-2. Blocking this protein helps to kill and reduce the number of cancer cells, and may slow the spread of the disease.
In 2021, almost 5,000 Australians were diagnosed with leukaemia. In Australia, it is estimated that around 1,100 people are diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) each year. AML becomes more common with age and mostly occurs after 65.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said having access to Venclexta®, which is already listed on the PBS for other conditions, will give AML sufferers more treatment options and better outcomes.
“Around 340 Australian patients a year will benefit from this expanded listing, who without the PBS subsidy would may more than $88,800 per course of treatment. From 1 December, they’ll pay $41.30 per script or $6.60 with a concession card,” Minister Hunt said.
“Since 2013, the Coalition Government had approved more than 2,800 new or amended listings on the PBS. This represents an average of around 30 listings or amendments per month – or one each day – at an overall investment by the Government of $14 billion.
“Our Government’s commitment to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.”
This PBS listing has been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Better Infrastructure Connections for Armstrong Creek and the Bellarine

Families in Armstrong Creek, Barwon Heads and all across the Bellarine will have quicker and safer commutes to work, school and weekend sport under an Albanese Labor Government, thanks to a $125 million commitment to help build stage 2 of the Barwon Heads Road duplication.
By 2031, Barwon Heads Road is projected to carry up to 44,000 cars and trucks every day and Armstrong Creek is one of Victoria’s fastest growing suburbs. It consists of 2,500 hectares of developable land, which makes it one of the largest growth fronts in the country.
This growth area will provide for 22,000 lots and a population of around 60,000 people.
If we don’t build for that growth now, locals will be trapped in ever-growing gridlock.
That’s why an Albanese Labor Government will partner with the Victorian Government to duplicate Barwon Heads Road from Reserve Road, past Armstrong Creek, to Lower Duneed Road.
This project will link up with stage 1 of the duplication, between Belmont and Reserve Road, which the Victorian Government is already busy constructing.
This project will future-proof infrastructure across this growing region, creating local jobs in the construction phase and ensuring that working families can spend less time in the car and more time at home.
And, unlike so many of the Morrison-Joyce Government’s commitments, an Albanese Labor Government will actually deliver it.

Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act

The Morrison Government welcomes the release of the Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act (1997) – a vital overview of Australia’s age care system.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, and the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said the report offered important insight into the sector’s operations during the 2020-21 financial year.
Importantly, it details the challenges faced by senior Australians and the aged care sector in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the critical interventions made by Government as it responded to those challenges.
It includes an overview of systems and resources, service provision from community care through to permanent residential care, services delivered to people with diverse needs, and the provision of regulatory and prudential frameworks to ensure consumers receive high quality services.
“The past year has been extraordinarily difficult for all Australians as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to consume our day to day lives,” Minister Hunt said.
“The impact of the virus has been especially felt by people separated from loved ones living in residential aged care facilities because of visitor restrictions necessary to save lives and protect lives.
“The Morrison Government has worked to support the sector through the pandemic to protect the most vulnerable.”
Minister Hunt said more than $2.1 billion in aged care specific measures had been provided to support residential aged care providers and staff and ensure quality of care.
“This support was wide-ranging and included improved infection-control management and training, workforce support and extra funding to cover the increased costs of caring for older Australians during the pandemic.
“We invested additional funding for better communication with older Australians and their families, as well as improved support for their mental health and wellbeing,” Minister Hunt said.
Minister Colbeck said while managing the immediate threat from COVID-19, the Government has also responded swiftly and decisively to the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, with a comprehensive $17.7 billion package.
“Underpinning this reform are the principles of genuine two-way engagement with all involved parties, combined with a commitment to absolute transparency in reporting from providers, in order to strengthen the financial oversight of the aged care sector,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Strong, independent oversight of the system is essential for good governance and transparency.
“Progress has already been made across the five pillars of reform, including the release of an average of 3000 home care packages each week, resulting in a significant reduction in waiting times for high care packages.
“New legislation, which will deliver risk-based assurance reviews of 500 home care providers every 12 months, will also improve the safety and quality of services provided to older Australians.”
Minister Colbeck said an Engagement Hub has been established to make it easier for consumers, their families and carers, the workforce, and the sector more broadly, can more easily access information on progress.
The Government has also committed $262.5 million to ensure the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is well equipped to safeguard the quality, safety and integrity of aged care services, and can effectively address any failures in care.
“Our commitment to the wellbeing of senior Australians and the integrity of the aged care system is absolute,” Minister Colbeck said.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the sector to implement reforms that will ensure Australia’s aged care system leads the world now and in the future.”
The full report can be found on the GEN Aged Care Data website, here.
GEN is Australia’s only central, independent repository of national aged care data and is managed and regularly updated by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.