Budget 2016 breakdown

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Treasurer Scott Morrison will be unveiling the federal budget at 7.30 tonight, amidst much speculation as to contents and whether it will win the foundering coalition the upcoming election. The usual tax cuts and funding bonuses will be announced, but what do we know for sure? ANU’s Professor Quentin Grafton broke it down for us.

Autism Acceptance Month is here

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April is Autism Acceptance Month, a month in which the focus is on sharing positive, respectful, and accurate information about autism and autistic people. Autism Acceptance Month promotes acceptance and celebration of autistic people as family members, friends, classmates, co-workers, and community members making valuable contributions to our world. This month acts as a response to traditional “Autism Awareness” campaigns which the Autistic community found harmful and insufficient. I spoke to Jacky den Houting, a member of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network of Australia and New Zealand (ASAN AUNZ), about this month, as well as the state of autism funding in Queensland.

Greens support Qld Premier’s vote to #LetThemStay

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The Queensland Greens have expressed support for the Premier’s offer of support and assistance to asylum seekers currently in the Queensland community. Greens spokesperson Andrew Bartlett says Annastacia Palaszczuk is right to say that these people deserve our compassion and support.

Public Health Association calls for ‘sensible alcohol polices’

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The CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia, Michael Moore, is calling on the government to adopt sensible alcohol policies to prevent unnecessary emergency visits and take pressure off hospitals. I spoke to him about this stance, and some of the statistics regarding alcohol and its relation to hospital visits.

PM Turnbull asked to lobby US Congress re: TPP

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (September 6, 2012) Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis (third from right) poses with trade ministers from Trans-Pacific Countries (Bruno Ferrari Garcia de Alba, Mexico; Craig Emerson, Australia; Lim Jock Seng, Brunei; Alfredo Moreno, Chile; Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia; Tim Groser, New Zealand; Jose Luis Silva Martinot, Peru; Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore; Demetrios Marantis, United States; Vu Huy Hoang, Vietnam; Edward Fast, Canada).  [State Department photo by William Ng]

The US Ambassador to Australia has asked Prime Minister Turnbull to lobby members of Congress in support of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) legislation to be considered by Congress later this year. Dr Patricia Ranald, Coordinator of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network says if this surprising advice is followed, the PM will face an uphill battle to convince members of Congress to support the TPP.  

New program to detect Aussie wildlife diseases sooner

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In collaboration with several Australian universities, Wildlife Health Australia (WHA) is launching a program to surveil Australian wildlife, enabling faster detection of and response to emerging diseases in animal populations. Dr Sam Gilchrist is a part of the one-year pilot program, and says it will deliver faster identification of issues and a valuable national perspective on new research opportunities.

New program heralding school success in indigenous communities

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A pilot program in remote Aboriginal communities has made great progress to improve school attendance by involving community leaders and Indigenous rangers to teach students about customary knowledge, culture, and literacy and numeracy. Dr William Fogarty is head of an ANU review of the program, and he spoke about what this review of the project found.

Senate to investigate changes to workplace leave

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The Green’s have commended the senate’s move to open an inquiry into a National Portable Entitlements Scheme. The inquiry would examine the possibility of changing long service leave, so that workers’ time is counted across their total employment time in the industry, rather than their time in one particular job. Greens Employment and Workplace Relations spokesperson Adam Bandt says the inquiry is something the Greens have been working towards for a long time now.

Calls for better Medicare coverage in prisons

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Despite prisoners having some of the highest rates of mental illness and communicable diseases, Medicare exclusions mean that they are rarely able to access appropriate health services before they return to the community. Researchers have found prisoners are missing out on certain treatments and medications, as they are too expensive to provide without access to Medicare. I spoke to Professor Stuart Kinner, whose research on this topic was  published this week.

Concerns raised over proposed Sunday rates cuts

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NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon has voiced her concern about the impact the loss of penalty rates will have on living standards, and has called on Liberal MPs to publicly oppose the push to remove penalty rates and change the minimum wage. She says, “Penalty rates are an essential work right that compensate people for working unsociable hours when most people have time off”.