St Vincent's Hospital honoured at 2021 NSW Business Awards for Sydney

ST VINCENT'S HOSPITAL Sydney has received two awards for its contribution to the community and diversity at the 2021 Business NSW Business Awards.

The hospital was one of 12 recipients to be honoured in the NSW Business Awards’ Sydney City regional division and will now be in contention for a State Business Award in November. The Awards are held in partnership with the City of Sydney and recognise growth, entrepreneurship and business success.

The hospital’s COVID-19 response took out the award for the most outstanding community or cultural organisation while its innovative program promoting better health outcomes for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities won the top prize for excellence in diversity and inclusion.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore hailed St Vincent’s contributions during the unprecedented Sydney lockdown and vaccination roll out as phenomenal.

“The hospital’s tireless operations at the frontline of the Covid pandemic, as well as the roll out of vaccinations for so many in our community, has been nothing short of life changing,” Cr Moore said.

“But what is truly wonderful is seeing how the hospital, even under the duress of the pandemic, still forged ahead with their programs to embrace diversity and inclusion.”

St Vincent’s Stay'n In, Stay'n Deadly flexi clinic was founded to promote a safe and welcoming space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients as well as reducing waiting times and cutting the percentage of incomplete treatment.

“After staring down the challenges of 2021, it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate and reward those who have done it so tough and made such an important contribution to our city,” Cr Moore said.

St Vincent’s CEO, associate professor Anthony Schembri said the awards were particularly special this year.

“At the heart of everything we do at St Vincent’s is our longstanding mission to serve our community – particularly the poor and vulnerable," Prof. Schembri said.

"These two awards represent important validation that we continue to remain true to this mission, particularly in the face of some of our greatest health challenges. 

“It’s particularly wonderful to receive these awards from the City of Sydney and NSW Business, a like-minded organisation that is partnering with us in many of our endeavours to support the community’s most vulnerable. I also want to salute our dedicated and capable staff who are so unflinching in the determination to roll up their sleeves and serve our mission so authentically,” Prof. Schembri said.

Business NSW chief executive officer Daniel Hunter said the awards recognise business success and resilience from sectors across the state.

“In 2021, every industry, from health care to hospitality, retail to recruitment, was forced to pivot and innovate in order to deal with fallout from the pandemic. These awards showcase the businesses that shone brightest in very dark times,” Mr Hunter said.

“It’s important too that we also recognise the local chambers that provided leadership and vision throughout these unchartered waters, which is why we’re delighted to be able honour the outstanding commitment from the Darlinghurst Business Partnership.”

2021 NSW Business Awards Sydney City division winners:

Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion: St Vincent's Hospital Stay’n Deadly & Stay’n In Project.

Excellence in Export: HIVERY - Exporting AI retail to the world.

Outstanding Business Leader: Neil Sharma, Eye and Retina Specialists.

Outstanding Community or Cultural Organisation: St Vincent's Hospital COVID-19 Response.

Outstanding Employee: Vicky Lee, Ovira.

Outstanding Local Chamber: Darlinghurst Business Partnership.

Outstanding Start Up: Share with Oscar.

Outstanding Young Business Leader: Jill Berry, Adatree

Sydney City Excellence in Business: MacAlpine.

Sydney City Excellence in Micro Business: Lion and Cub Photography.

Sydney City Excellence in Innovation: Eye and Retina Specialists, Slit Lamp Shield.

Sydney City Excellence in Small Business: 2Stay Accommodation Group.

Sydney City Excellence in Sustainability: Koskela.

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NTEU urges Federal Government to implement job security recommendations

THE NTEU is urging the Federal Government to implement recommendations by the Select Committee on Job Security to secure the recovery of the higher education sector and improve conditions for staff and students.

The Second interim report: insecurity in publicly-funded jobs makes a number of welcome recommendations including:

  • The Australian Government urgently develops a new National Higher Education Funding Strategy for the period 2021-2025;
  • The Australian Government provides temporary additional funding to universities to restore jobs and rectify the damage inflicted upon the sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and funding cuts, until the new Higher Education Strategy has been developed and implemented;
  • The Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment works closely with universities, workers, experts, the NTEU, and relevant sector bodies, to design a system of casual and fixed-term conversion that would be appropriate for the higher education sector;
  • The Australian Government requires all universities to provide a more detailed report of their staffing composition to the Department of Education;
  • In light of the widespread wage theft in The Australian Government-funded higher education sector, that the government legislates improved rights of entry for all registered trade unions.

NTEU national president Alison Barnes said the recommendations must be adopted as a matter of urgency.

“The Federal Government can no longer ignore the widespread destruction inflicted on tertiary education by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr Barnes said.

“We have seen 40,000 jobs lost across the country, with an estimated 35,000 of those at public universities. If the Federal Government cares about higher education, it must develop a new National Higher Education Funding Strategy and provide urgent additional funding until this is in place.

“As the report outlines, this must recognise and address the real cost of delivering high quality tertiary education including administration, marking and ensuring staff and student wellbeing, as well as the role of research as a core university function.

“Further, designing a system of casual and fixed-term conversion appropriate for the higher education sector will be key to addressing the proliferation of insecure employment," Dr Barnes said.

“The Federal Government’s casual conversion laws have proven to be completely ineffective in dealing with insecure employment in universities. The laws have simply provided employers with an excuse to avoid serious and genuine efforts to address the growing casualisation of their workforces.

“As has been proven this year, widespread casualisation of tertiary education creates the conditions for wage theft and implements huge barriers to them reporting this exploitation. Wage theft has deep human consequences, robbing modestly paid casual workers of the income to pay bills, plan for their future or take leave," she said.

“Universities have allowed wage theft to become integrated into their business models and attempted to avoid scrutiny through a total lack of transparency.

“Forcing universities to detail their use of insecure employment is vital to ending this. The second interim report’s recommendations must be implemented by the Federal Government as a priority.

“The success and wellbeing of academics, staff and students depends on it.

“We thank the committee for its thorough work on this important inquiry, and in particular recognise the support of Senators Tony Sheldon and Mehreen Faruqi in their advocacy for higher education workers.

“We also congratulate the casual NTEU members who gave important evidence to the Inquiry by detailing their experience.”

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Tourism needs clear date for international reopening 

AUSTRALIA's export tourism industry is urgently awaiting the announcement of a date for the reopening of our international border, bringing the return of international visitors and the restart of business after 18 months of no revenue.

With last week’s announcement that NSW will no longer require quarantine for overseas arrivals from next month, it's encouraging that the full opening of international borders is imminent but the industry urgently needs a date to work towards, according to the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC).

“Since the announcement by the NSW Government last Friday, our members have been fielding inquiries from intending travellers looking to book an Australian holiday or visit their family but they still can't make these bookings with any certainty,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“We simply can't afford to continue to keep our borders closed to high spending international travellers and miss critical ‘booking windows’ as these people simply will choose to holiday in other competing destinations, putting Australia at the bottom of their bucket list.

“Right now we are heading into the northern hemisphere's annual booking season when the US, Europe and the UK are facing a long winter and typically plan their travel to warmer climates like Australia. If we miss this booking window it will not surface again for another 12 months."

Mr Shelley said ATEC was calling on the Federal Government to provide a date and a framework for reopening that tourism businesses across the country could use to plan to rebuild valuable distribution partnerships, lock in bookings for 2022 and help breathe life back into our $45 billion industry sector which was crippled by the pandemic.

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“Our industry has been waiting a long time for the opportunity to recover and we have a hard road ahead of us to reconnect with our international markets. 

“We need to begin to regain our place as a ‘must visit’ destination and a date for the reopening of our international border is therefore both urgent and critical. 

“Now is the time to provide clarity about Australia’s reopening to the world, and offer certainty to our industry, providing a much-needed opportunity for our financially fragile and work-depleted industry to commence the long road to rebuilding what was once Australians second largest export industry.” 

Survey deadline extended for women business owners to be heard

THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Bruce Billson, has extended the deadline for a survey of women who own and lead businesses.

“There has been a tremendous response so far - it is clear there is an appetite to engage, and we want to give more women business owners and leaders the chance to be heard,” Mr Billson said.

The survey launched earlier this month and is aimed at identifying any unique challenges and opportunities faced by women who own and lead businesses. It will now remain open until October 29. 

“A lot of business entrepreneurs that are women are those who have solved a problem in their life, shared that with their friends who thought, ‘Yes, you can do the same thing for me,’ and then that turns into, you know, a side hustle and then on to a business,” Mr Billson said in an interview on Bathurst radio.

“And, frankly, with COVID, there’s been more problems to solve than ordinarily has been the case and we think if we can energise women’s entrepreneurship that will be fantastic in terms of women’s economic empowerment but really fab for the economy and livelihoods more generally.

“The survey’s trying to say to women business leaders and entrepreneurs, what kind of roadblock’s have you run into? Have there been needless headwinds that have stood between you and your business ambition?”

The confidential survey can be accessed by visiting the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman website at www.asbfeo.gov.au or directly at: WOWL survey

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Accommodation Association applauds NSW Government’s practical support measures

THE NSW Government deserves applause for its ongoing practical support measures, including this week’s announcement of a $66 Million Alfresco Restart Package and extension of the Dine and Discover voucher scheme, according to the Accommodation Association.

According to Accommodation Association CEO Richard Munro, tangible measures which encourage people to get out and enjoy themselves and which recognise that the sector needs to operate differently to offset the ongoing COVID-constrained capacity are very welcome. 

“It’s fantastic to see the NSW Government thinking outside the square about what else can be done to support our sector," Mr Munro said. "The NSW Government’s $66 Million Alfresco Restart Package is a common-sense measure which will provide additional capacity outdoors allowing our members to accommodate more patrons, more safely.
 
“With venue capacity limits continuing until after lockdown ends, the opportunity to transform outdoor space into alfresco dining areas while capacity limits on venues continue is both practical and sensible for our members and customers.

"We’re moving into a very important peak period for our members and anything government can do to help our hotels, motels and accommodation providers boost capacity, get people through the doors and recapture some of that missing cashflow is very much appreciated.

“The Accommodation Association continues to work closely with the NSW Government to identify, recommend and support those practical steps which will bring our sector back to life as quickly and as safely as possible.”

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Science Minister Melissa Price and Labor’s Ed Husic reveal vision for cooperative research, science, tech and innovation

NEWLY sworn-in Federal Government Science Minister Melissa Price will give her first major speech at the Collaborate Innovate 2021 conference today (October 19, 1.20 to 1.30pm).

Ms Price will outline the government’s vision for Cooperative Research Centres, and how industry-led research can spawn new innovations and commercialised technologies for Australia.

Shadow Minister for Industry and Innovation Ed Husic will speak on Wednesday (Oct 20, 9:30-10am).

Conference Speakers include:

  • Professor Bronwyn Fox, Chief Scientist CSIRO
  • Jeff Connolly, CEO Siemens Australia
  • Victoria Treadell, British High Commissioner
  • Edwin Chow, Assistant CEO Enterprise Singapore
  • Professor Mariana Mazzucato, professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL)
  • Dr Katherine Woodthorpe AO (2021 Ralph Slatyer Address)
  • Dr Cathy Foley, Chief Scientist of Australia
  • Professor Caroline McMillan, Chief Scientist of South Australia
  • Professor Hugh Possingham, Queensland Chief Scientist

https://collaborateinnovate.com.au/program/

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PJCIS recommends expanding terrorist listing of Hamas

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has recommended the government consider listing Hamas in its entirety as a terrorist organisation.

The PJCIS today tabled its report on the Review of the relisting of five organisations as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code. This review considered the relisting of al-Shabaab, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

While the committee supported the relisting of all these organisations under the Criminal Code it has gone a step further, recommending the government expand the listing of Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades to include the whole organisation of Hamas.

The committee made a similar recommendation in June 2021 in its Report on the review of the relisting of Hizballah’s External Security Organisation as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code that the listing of Hizballah’s External Security Organisation be expanded to the whole organisation of Hizballah.

PJCIS Committee Chair Senator James Paterson, said it was clear from evidence received during this review that the whole organisation of Hamas met the definition of a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code.

"Currently, the US, Canada and the EU list the whole organisation of Hamas as a terrorist organisation under their respective proscription regimes," Senator Patterson said.

"The expert evidence provided to the committee overwhelmingly rejected the idea that Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operates independently from the rest of the organisation.

"There was agreement that Hamas operates as a singular entity with overlapping personnel, finances and structure. In addition, leaders of Hamas have repeatedly made statements which meet the advocacy test for terrorist listing, including direct incitement of acts of violence against Jewish people," Senator Paterson said.

Further information on the inquiry as well as a copy of the report can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

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Offshore potential for Australian aquaculture

POTENTIAL for expanding the aquaculture industry in Australia has been a frequent theme among contributors to a federal parliamentary committee inquiry.

The House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee will hear evidence from the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centrethis week as part of its current inquiry into Australia’s aquaculture sector.  

The Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre, based in Tasmania, brings together industry, government and research partners with expertise in aquaculture, marine renewable energy and maritime engineering. It delivers targeted training and research to support innovation in commercially-viable and sustainable offshore developments.

Committee Chair, Rick Wilson MP, noted that the topic of offshore aquaculture production and its potential for expanding the aquaculture industry in Australia has been a frequent theme among submitters and witnesses to this inquiry.

"This hearing is an opportunity for the committee to learn more about the significant research and development currently being undertaken by the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre to support new and innovative approaches to aquaculture production in Australian waters," Mr Wilson said.

For further information, please visit the inquiry website.

Public hearing details

Date: Thursday, 21 October 2021
Time: 10.15am to 10:55am AEST

A live audio stream of the hearing will be accessible at: www.aph.gov.au/live

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AFP should retain counter-terrorism powers to keep Australians safe says committee

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) has recommended the Australian Federal Police be allowed to retain a range of counter-terrorism powers to protect Australians.

The PJCIS has today tabled its review into counter-terrorism powers held by the AFP, recommending that the following powers be extended to December 7, 2025:

  • stop, search and seizure powers under subsections 3UK(1), (2) and (3) of the Crimes Act 1914
  • control order regime under division 104 of the Criminal Code Act 1995
  • preventative detention order regime in division 105 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

The committee made 19 recommendations to improve clarity, oversight and interoperability of counter-terrorism laws, as well as amendments to the Intelligence Services Act 2001 to allow the committee to undertake further reviews of the powers prior to their extended sunset period.

The Intelligence and Security Committee Chair, Senator James Paterson said the extension of these counter-terrorism powers would help protect Australians from the evolving threat of terrorism.

"The committee has assessed the use and effectiveness of these powers and has found they will continue to provide law enforcement the tools they need to counter the threat of terrorism. Eighteen potential or imminent terrorist attacks have been disrupted by law enforcement and security agencies since 2014 thanks to powers just like these," Senator Paterson said.

Further information on the inquiry as well as a copy of the report can be obtained from the Committee’s website.

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A Way Forward after Juukan Gorge

THE Northern Australia Committee has tabled the final report of its Inquiry into the destruction of 46,000 year old caves at the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. 

The report follows on from the work of the committee’s interim report Never Again tabled on the December 9, 2020. Despite the impact of Covid-19 the committee has produced a complete examination of the issues brought to light throughout the inquiry.

The final report titled, A Way Forward, emphasises that what happened at Juukan Gorge is not unique. It is an extreme example of the destruction of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage which continues to happen in this country.

Importantly, the report highlights the need for legislative change at Commonwealth, State and Territory levels to ensure the protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.

Upon tabling the final report today, committee chair Warren Entsch said, "The destruction of the caves was a disaster beyond reckoning for the Puutu Kunti Kurrama People and Pinikura people, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage as a whole.

"This disaster was a wakeup call that there are serious deficiencies in the protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage. What is needed now is a way forward, for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and industry."

During the inquiry, the committee heard a great number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage protection issues. Each incident of heritage destruction or threat that was discussed compounded the clear need for change.

Mr Entsch discussed that, from the significant volume of evidence received by the committee, it was clear that extensive changes were required to ensure the protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples cultural heritage.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been let down by the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments as well as industry," Mr Entsch said.

"In making these recommendations today, the committee and I want to bring about meaningful change. Failures to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage must stop here."

The report makes eight recommendations focusing on legislative change that will enhance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s cultural heritage protections.

Among other things, the committee found:

"I am very proud of the hard work of the committee that went into the development of this report. I am very pleased with the recommendations that have been made to tackle the problem of inadequate cultural heritage protection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples," Mr Entsch said.

"In tabling this report it is the committee's desire that we will Never Again see an event such as Juukan Gorge and that as a country we now have A Way Forward to protect the world’s oldest living culture."

A copy of the report can be obtained from the Committee’s website or from the secretariat on (02) 6277 4162.

Further details of the inquiry, including terms of reference, can be found on the Committee’s website.

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Qld Govt passes new renting laws but wait until 2024 for rental property minimum standards

TODAY the Queensland Government passed its new tenancy legislation with some amendments, calling it "striking the right balance between renters and property owners".

Advocates from the community sector have welcomed the long overdue rental reform acknowledging some amendments will improve Queensland renters’ rights.
 
Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) CEO Aimee McVeigh said that some of the government’s reforms are an improvement for Queensland’s 1.8 million renters, but that more must be done urgently.
 
“The next stage of rental reforms must happen immediately in light of Queensland’s housing crisis," Ms McVeigh said. "Renters are competing in unbelievably tight rental markets with vacancy rates below 1 percent throughout Queensland and, even when they can find a place, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to stay in their home beyond six or 12 months.
 
“The reality is that the housing market is failing millions of Queenslanders, and government intervention is needed. Tenants need housing security and minimum standards like lighting, ventilation and energy efficiency and these protections must be provided by the law,” Ms McVeigh said.
 
A key element needed in the government’s next round of rental reforms is to permit tenants to make minor modifications to their homes.
 
CEO of Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN), Paige Armstrong, said for many of their members, private rental is made all the more difficult due to the need for minor modifications to make a property accessible.
 
“It is disappointing to see that minor modifications have not been included in this round of rental reforms. There are over 900,000 people with disability living in Queensland, and a significant number rent in the private sector," Ms Armstrong said.
 
“It is really important for people with disability and many other people in our community to be able to carry out minor modifications. It helps people feel safe, to maintain their independence and carry out basic day to day tasks.  
 
“Renters with disability have been waiting years for these reforms and we need to see change,” Ms Armstrong said.
 
Penny Carr, CEO of Tenants Queensland, the state’s tenant advisory specialists, welcomed the finalisation of this first stage of the reforms which she said was long overdue and a welcome relief.
 
“Renters will find it somewhat easier to keep a pet and to have repairs attended to but they will wait until 2024 for minimum standards and will still be subjected to arbitrary evictions. These laws are not ones for a modern Queensland as they don’t offer strong enough protections from unfair evictions,” Ms Carr said.
 
Ms Carr acknowledged the government’s commitment to rental reforms and stated the changes included a number of positive changes for Queensland renters but overall were "still disappointing, falling well short of modernising the laws".
 
“Our focus will now be to ensure all Queensland renters understand the new laws, how to exercise their rights and meet obligations, without fear of eviction," Ms Carr said.
 
“We will be watching the impact of these reforms very closely to advise the government of any negative impacts on Queensland renters, then working hard to achieve greater outcomes in stage two."

The Housing Minister has committed to stage two of rental reform to begin in the first half of 2022 with minor modifications to be the top priority.

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