Launch of the Stolen Generations’ testimonies website to mark fourth Anniversary of the National Apology

Feb 13, 2012

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today launched the Stolen Generations’ Testimonies website at a morning tea with Stolen Generations’ members to mark the fourth anniversary of the National Apology to Indigenous Australians.

Funded in part by the Australian Government, the website has recorded the lives and experiences of more than 30 Stolen Generation members.

These people have shown great strength and courage in generously sharing their experiences and hopefully these moving stories will encourage more Australians to engage in the healing process.

Four years ago, the National Apology to Indigenous Australians, in particular the Stolen Generations, acknowledged the pain and suffering caused by past government policies.

It helped build a bridge of respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and generate the trust so we could work together to tackle Indigenous disadvantage.

The Australian Government recognises that for members of the Stolen Generations, healing is a continuing process that requires ongoing support and understanding.

More than 100 community groups across Australia are also marking the Anniversary of the Apology, thanks to grants of up to $500 from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, funded by the Australian Government.

The National Sorry Day Committee also today presented the Minister with seven historically significant documents, showing the ongoing process of healing and reconciliation.

These documents will become a special collection in the Parliamentary library and go on display on the Anniversary of the Apology and National Sorry Day.

The Government has also provided $150,000 to the National Stolen Generations Alliance to undertake a range of activities to build understanding of the history and needs of Stolen Generations members, including a Parliamentary Seminar being held today, Taking the Next Steps – Stolen Generations and Australia’s Universities.

This funding will also support a forum in South Australia to encourage engagement and information sharing on the needs of Stolen Generations. 

And the National Sorry Day Committee has received $150,000 to support healing activities and commemorative events throughout the year.

The Government is continuing to work with members of the Stolen Generations and organisations representing these members. We have provided $26.6 million over four years to establish the Healing Foundation to support community-based healing initiatives that address the traumatic legacy of colonisation, forced removals and other past government policies.

The National Apology was a significant moment in our nation's history, but work needs to continue to heal the wounds of past practices.

The recognition of Indigenous people in the Australian Constitution is another step in building a nation based on strong relations and mutual respect, a step that is critical in our efforts to close the gap. 

The Stolen Generations’ Testimonies website can be found at: www.stolengenerationstestimonies.com.

New Website To Tackle Cyberbullying

Feb 2, 2012

The Labor Government launched last month a new website to tackle cyberbullying and help more young people stay safe online.

The Easy Guide to Socialising Online website has been developed in partnership with industry and young people to help parents, children and educators combat cyberbullying and inappropriate content online.

Mr Byrne said that, ‘the Easy Guide website provides a handy overview of all the social networking sites, and step by step instructions on how to report cyberbullying, abuse, and inappropriate content’.

The Easy Guide website is part of the Government’s $125.8 million Cybersafety Plan and has been developed following advice from the Government’s Youth Advisory Group on Cybersafety.

‘The new website provides cybersafety information for 26 social networking sites, search engines and online games, and gives step by step instructions on how to report cyberbullying, abuse and inappropriate content on these sites’, said Mr Byrne.

‘Cyberbullying is a serious matter which is why the Government has listened to young people and produced the new guide to staying safe online’, said Mr Byrne.

The new Easy Guide website address is www.dbcde.gov.au/easyguideand it can also be accessed via the Cybersafety Help Button at www.dbcde.gov.au/helpbutton.

For further tips on cybersecurity and safety are available at www.staysmartonline.gov.au& www.cybersmart.gov.au

Celebrating our volunteers’ achievements

Dec 5, 2011

Today marks International Volunteer Day, an opportunity for Australians to recognise the selfless contribution of our volunteers.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services, Julie Collins, today congratulated the more than 200,000 Australians who give their time, energy and expertise to volunteering each day.

“International Volunteer Day, held every year on 5 December, is a chance to thank volunteers for the significant social and economic contribution they make to Australian society,” Ms Collins said.

“Australia’s volunteers contribute approximately $14.6 billion to the not-for-profit sector each year, and the Gillard Government is firmly committed to supporting their critical work.

“More than 4,600 community organisations across Australia shared in $16 million worth of Volunteer Grants this year, in recognition of volunteers’ vital contribution to our community.

“Over the past year, Australian volunteers have given so much of their time and energy to help people affected by natural disasters in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.

“They are working in our Emergency Relief organisations, Lions clubs and emergency services.

“To help give back to our community’s tireless volunteers, this year’s volunteer grants were targeted specifically towards organisations that helped disadvantaged individuals, families and communities, particularly those affected by recent natural disasters.

“The Gillard Government’s thanks all volunteers for their selfless work and commitment to making our communities stronger,” Ms Collins said.

To find out more about Volunteer Grants 2011 visit www.fahcsia.gov.au or call 1800 183 374.

Report highlights the good work of emergency relieforganisations

Oct 17, 2011

A newreport has found emergency relief organisations, volunteers and caseworkers deliver quality support and services to vulnerable Australians in need.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services, Julie Collins, today launched theEnding the Stopgap: Case Work in Emergency Relief Servicesreport with Community Information Victoria and the Cranbourne Information and Support Service.

Ms Collins said the report backs up the Government’s significant and ongoing investment in emergency relief.

“In this year’s Budget the Gillard Government announced a secure, ongoing funding boost of $83.3 million over four years for emergency relief,” Ms Collins said.

“This is part of a $171.9 million investment over four years in emergency relief services, financial counselling and innovative projects such as low interest loans and matched savings schemes.

“Emergency relief organisations help vulnerable families with their immediate financial crisis, such as help putting food on the table or keeping the electricity and gas connected.

“The report surveyed a number of caseworkers, volunteers and their clients across Victoria and found that emergency relief workers who provided case management and crisis support were an effective form of support for clients with complex issues.

“Emergency relief case managers were introduced by the Government in 2009 to provide targeted support to vulnerable Australians, as part of temporary funding boost provided during the global financial crisis.

“These caseworkers provide mentoring, training and practical support to help people address the issues behind their financial difficulties.

“They also offer people a broad support network, with referrals to support services including counselling, crisis accommodation, mental health and domestic violence.

“The report also said caseworkers were supporting and mentoring volunteers at emergency relief services, helping reduce stress and building their confidence.

“TheGillard Government values the incredible contributions of the paid and unpaid staff in emergency relief organisations, who work tirelessly for vulnerable people, supporting them, and giving them a real chance of financial stability.

“The Government will continue to work closely with community organisations across the country to ensure the most vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians are supported during difficult times.”

New coin and stamp recognise our volunteer army

Sep 26, 2011

The Gillard Government today announced 4,600 not-for-profit organisationswill receive Volunteer Grants in recognition of the vital contribution volunteers make to our community.

A commemorative stamp and coin were also launched today to celebrate the United Nations 10thanniversary of International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10).

Volunteers make a significant social and economic contribution to the Australian community, contributing approximately $14.6 billion to the not-for-profit sector each year.

The Gillard Government is committed to supporting our army of volunteers as they work tirelessly in support of their local communities.

The Minister for Social Inclusion Tanya Plibersek and the Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services Julie Collins made the announcement while meeting with Babana Aboriginal Men's Group, a volunteer-run support group, in Sydney today.

The group will receive more than $4,300 for items including a computer, a public address system, video camera and help with fuel costs.

The 2011 volunteer grants will support more than 200,000 people across Australia who give their time, energy and expertise to volunteering every day.

Grants of up to $5,000 will help organisations purchase much-needed equipment, help with volunteers’ fuel costs, and cover the cost of training courses and background checks.

For the first time, the grants will also help cover transport costs of volunteers with disability who are unable to drive and need to use public transport or taxis as part of their volunteering role.

Over the past year Australian volunteers have given up much of their time and energy to help people affected by recent natural disasters.

To help give back to these tireless volunteers, this year’s volunteer grants are targeted towards organisations that helped disadvantaged individuals, families and communities, particularly those affected by recent natural disasters.

The new collectable 20 cent coin reminds all Australians of the significant role that volunteers play in local communities. The coin features a ring of volunteers around the outside edge while the centre of the coin features the IYV+10 logo.

About five million 20 cent pieces are being made and will be seen in circulation in the coming months. Rolled collectible coins are available from the Mint for $14.00 each.

To find out more about Volunteer Grants 2011 visit www.fahcsia.gov.auor call 1800 183 374.

For more information about the new coin please visit www.ramint.gov.auor contact the Royal Australian Mint Call Centre on 1300 652 020. The souvenir stamp can be purchased online at http://shop.auspost.com.auor at your local post office.

Pensions to increase today

Sep 20, 2011

From today 3.4 million pensioners across Australia will receive an increase in their payments to help them meet increases in their household costs. 

On the second anniversary of the Australian Government’s Secure and Sustainable Pension Reforms, age and disability pensioners, carers and veterans’ income support recipients will receive the fourth boost to their pensions since September 2009.

Single pensioners will receive an extra $19.50 a fortnight and pensioner couples combined on the maximum rate will receive an extra $29.60 a fortnight.

These indexation increases are a direct result of the Australian Government’s historic pension reforms. These delivered a new indexation system to better reflect the actual costs for pensioner households. 

Two years ago the Government delivered the most significant reforms to the age pension in its 100 year history. This action was taken after years of neglect by the Liberal-National Government.

The Government’s reforms delivered pension increases, a new pension supplement, a pension Work Bonus and a new indexation system.

Over the last two years the pension reforms have delivered increases to the maximum pension of about $148 per fortnight for singles and $146 per fortnight for couples combined.

Following today’s increase, total pension payments for people on the maximum rate, including the base rate and pension supplement, will be:

  • $748.80 a fortnight for singles, and
  • $1,129.00 a fortnight for couples combined.

We know that pensioners on a fixed income have the least room to move in their budgets and that's why it's so important that their pension keeps pace with the cost of living.

The Australian Government is delivering important increases to the pension and protecting the age pension now and into the future.

Full details of new rates can be found at www.jennymacklin.fahcsia.gov.au/mediareleases/2011/Pages/index_tabls_sept_2011.aspx

 

Media Contact: Keely Bell 0417 297 157

Remembering Vietnam Veterans

Aug 18, 2011

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Warren Snowdon today said Vietnam Veterans’ Day was an opportunity to reflect on the service of the men and women who served during the Vietnam War.

Some 60,000 Australians including ground troops, air force and navy personnel served in Vietnam for over a decade from 1962.

As a result of this war, 521 Australians died paying the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Ceremonies held around Australia today will honour the service and sacrifice of these brave men and women.

Vietnam Veterans’ Day is commemorated each year on the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, one of the most significant Australian actions of the Vietnam War.

On 18 August 1966, 18 service personnel were killed and 24 were wounded at Long Tan when Delta company of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, engaged a much larger force of North Vietnamese army regulars.

The Battle of Long Tan demonstrated the courage, determination and teamwork of our Australian soldiers in the face of overwhelming adversity.

A unit citation of gallantry was awarded by the Governor-General to the Delta Company 6RAR at a ceremony at Enoggera today.

The Vietnam War caused the greatest social and political unrest in Australia since the First World War and for many veterans, the treatment they received on their return to Australia left enduring scars.

For the 47,000 surviving veterans, time has not always healed the physical and psychological scars, which have often been shared by loving family members.

Today, we recognise and honour these fine Australians and their families.

Carers of children aged up to 16 years with Type 1 Diabetes to receive Carer Allowance

Aug 3, 2011

The Gillard Government will extend eligibility for Carer Allowance for carers of children with Type 1 Diabetes.

As part of the National Carer Strategy launched today, the Australian Government is extending automatic eligibility for Carer Allowance (child) to families and carers of children with Type 1 Diabetes aged up to the age of 16.

From September this year, carers of children with Type 1 Diabetes aged more than 10 years who have a Carer Allowance Health Care Card for their child will automatically receive payment of the $110 per fortnight Carer Allowance (child). 

Currently, automatic eligibility for Carer Allowance (child) cuts out when children with Type 1 Diabetes turn ten years old.  This rule was introduced in 2006 and Type 1 Diabetes is the only condition for which there is a cut-off age of 10.

Today’s change recognises that Type 1 Diabetes is a life long condition for which there is currently no cure, and provides parents and carers with recognition and financial support for the care they provide.

Type 1 Diabetes requires complex management and treatment that can be difficult for older children and adolescents to manage.

The Government will invest $42.6 million over four years to extend eligibility for Carer Allowance.

Carers of children with Type 1 Diabetes who are already receiving Carer Allowance (child) do not need to act – Centrelink will amend their status to ensure payments do not cease at the age of 10. 

Carers of children with Type 1 Diabetes aged more than 10 years will have their payments backdated to 1 July 2011 if they had a Carer Allowance Health Care Card at that date.  Carers eligible for payment back to 1 July 2011 will also receive the Carer Supplement of up to $600 and the Child Disability Assistance Payment of up to $1000.

Carers of children aged up to 16 with Type 1 Diabetes who currently do not receive Carer Allowance (child) and who do not have a Carer Allowance Health Care Card for their child, will need to lodge a claim form with Centrelink.

Carers of children with Type 1 Diabetes can contact Centrelink if they have questions about their eligibility.

The change responds to a review conducted earlier this year into access to Carer Allowance (child) for carers of children over the age of 10 with Type 1 Diabetes.  The review can be found at www.fahcia.gov.au

Huge boost of support to Australians with Diabetes.

Jul 14, 2011

More than a million Australians with diabetes will benefit from improved services and information following a five year extension of the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS).

Acting Minister for Health and Ageing Mark Butler welcomed the new $1 billion investment through Diabetes Australia as a huge boost of support to diabetes sufferers.

“This is great news for over a million Australians with diabetes who will now have access to over 4 million products annually that will help them to effectively self-manage their condition.

“For a long time, the scheme has successfully played an essential role in providing Australians with type 1, type 2, gestational and other diabetes access to timely, reliable and affordable products and services,” Mr Butler said

“The new agreement will also boost services for the newly-diagnosed, children and their families, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and disadvantaged communities.  

“For example, for the first time Australians using Byetta will be able to access subsidised needles through the scheme.

“Diabetes Australia will also receive funding to run a survey of youth to identify risky behaviours for young people living with diabetes with the aim of developing materials to assist health professionals to openly discuss these behaviours with young people.

“The NDSS is a world class scheme of which we are very proud and I’m very pleased to be announcing its extension in National Diabetes Awareness Week.”

Minister for Indigenous Health Warren Snowdon welcomed the news that services will also be expanded for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“Given that diabetes is responsible for 12 per cent of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, its important that Indigenous Australians can access the scheme and understand what the scheme offers,” Mr Snowdon said.

“This new agreement will see Aboriginal health workers trained to improve awareness of the scheme in Indigenous communities.”

Member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann MP joined representatives from Diabetes Australia at an event in the national capital to welcome the new funding.

“A child or adult with diabetes can have every aspect of their lives affected – whether it is the regular testing, treatment for complications, or related illnesses or disabilities,” Ms Brodtmann said.

“The new and improved scheme will devote over $1 billion over the next 5 years to provide some 4.5 million products each year, including items like blood glucose test strips, syringes and needles for insulin and blood glucose lowering injectable medications, and insulin pump consumables.”

These improvements follow consultations with key stakeholders, including state and territory diabetes organisations, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and manufacturers of diabetes products.

Mr Butler also announced that following a competitive tender process, a consortium of key diabetes and health care agencies, led by the internationally renowned McKinsey and Company, has been selected to manage the 3 year Coordinated Care for Diabetes pilot to assess the effectiveness of coordinated care for patients with diabetes.

 

Cost of living help for Australian families

Jul 1, 2011

The Australian Government recognises there are genuine cost of living pressures across the country and not everyone is seeing the benefits of a strong economy.  A range of initiatives come into effect today that will help ease the burden for families, for pensioners, for individuals on low incomes, and for parents that have a child with a disability. Together these changes will put a little more money in the pockets of millions of Australians, taking a bit of the pressure off their cost of living. The Government is introducing these new measures while ensuring we return the Budget to surplus by 2012-13, showing our commitment to providing support to Australian families.

Pensioners Work Bonus

From today, age pensioners who are still in the workforce will benefit from an improved Work Bonus and be able to earn up to $250 per fortnight above the income threshold before their pension is affected.  Pensioners with seasonal work will be able to accrue up to $6,500 in credit for any unused amount of the $250 fortnightly exemption.

Education Tax Refund extension

The 50 per cent Education Tax Refund is expanded today to include school uniforms. This is expected to provide around 700,000 Australian families more help with the cost of educating their children. 

Low Income Tax Offset bring forward

The Government will deliver up to an extra $300 of the low income tax offset (LITO) assistance during the year in regular pay packets from today. This change is expected to provide around 6.5 million taxpayers with more immediate and direct rewards to work. 

Child Care Rebate changes

The Child Care Rebate pays up to 50per cent of a family’s out-of-pocket expenses for child care up to an annual cap.  From today, families will be able to choose to have their Rebate paid at the time they incur child care costs, usually fortnightly or weekly.  Families will also be able to choose to have their Child Care Rebate paid directly to their child care service provider for an immediate reduction on their bills, or continue to receive the Rebate as a direct payment to their bank account.

Connecting health services to the future

The Government will provide $352.2 million over four years to introduce Medicare Benefits Schedule rebates for electronically delivered specialist consultations (e-consults). Rebates will be available for both the specialist providing the consultation and the general practitioner or nurse practitioner hosting the service. It is expected that this initiative will provide around 700,000 electronic consultations per annum by 2014-15.

Ban on Mortgage Exit Fees

The ban on mortgage exit fees on new home loans applies from today. Getting rid of exit fees is a win for Australians because it removes one of the biggest roadblocks preventing families from getting a better banking deal. Lenders will have to earn the loyalty of their customers with good service and competitive lending rates, not by shackling their customers with mortgage exit fees.

Continuation of incentives to improve access to after-hours care

The Government will provide $49.9 million over two years from 2010-11 to extend incentives to general practices to support after-hours care. This funding, which had been due to terminate today, will now be extended until 1 July 2013 and will reduce pressure on emergency departments.

More flexible advance payments

From today, families will have access to more flexible advance payments of Family Tax Benefit Part A. This will mean families facing unexpected costs – such as the family car breaking down – will have quick and easy access to advance payments and will not have to resort to high-interest loans or credit cards.  Families will be able to able to access a maximum of 7.5 per cent of their total rate of FTB Part A payment, up to $1000.

Early intervention for children with disability

From today, eligible families will have access to early intervention services for children with a disability through grants of up to $12,000 per family ($6,000 per financial year). A one-off tax exempt payment of $2,000 will also be available for families with disabled children living in outer-regional, rural and remote areas to help meet the additional costs of accessing services. 

In total, the Government will provide $146.5 million over five years to improve access to intensive early intervention services for children with sight or hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome or Fragile X syndrome. This funding is available until the child’s seventh birthday. In addition, eligible children up to the age of 15 years will have access to diagnosis and treatment services funded through Medicare Australia, provided a treatment plan is in place before the child turns 13. The Government will also provide $28.7 million over two years to meet increased demand for early intervention services for children with autism provided through the Helping Children with Autism initiative.

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