Month: September 2019


Awabakal and Guringai native title claim from Maitland to Hornsby put on ice

14/09/2019

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‘Heartache’ after claim snuffed out RECOGNITION: The Awabakal and Guringai Aboriginal people had lodged a claim over an area stretching from Hornsby to Maitland.
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Queen Margaret of Lake Macquarie, who is one of the ancestors of the claim group.

The claim area.

TweetFacebookHeraldhe was “gutted” at the defeat.

“It’s been an absolute heartache going through the process,” Mr Frostsaid.

“All we ever wanted was to have recognition that our people, the Awabakal people, are the people of the area that we claimed.We never wanted to take anything away from anyone.

“If people knew that’s all it was, I don’t think they would be up in arms about it.”

Under legislationpassed in 1993, following Eddie Mabo’s historic courtvictory, Indigenous people granted native title often have the right to access and use land for a variety of purposes, including the right to hunt, fish, gather, camp, undertake ceremonies and use certain natural resources.

In a limited number ofcases, they can possess and occupy an area to the exclusion of all others.

Most people are unaffected by successful claims, however, because if land has already been granted by the state to another person, that person’s rights prevail.

Claim group member Kerrie Brauer was able to prove her ancestral links to Awabakal figures Queen Margaret and King Ned, of Lake Macquarie.

She said it was “very disappointing” that the claim had been withdrawn, but the state government’s recognition of the group’sancestral ties was a significant first step.

“It does give the chance for the younger generations to come up behind us if they want to continue the fight,” she said.“The state has indicated that they would like to continue talks outside the native title process.”

Shane Frost, Awabakal man

Ms Brauer said it was extremely difficult to prove that laws and customs had been upheld continuously over time when the very purpose of the early Aboriginal missions was to “disrupt that”.

“The Sydney and Newcastle areas were among the first to be colonised and you were told you can’t hunt, you can’t speak your language,” she said. “It’s a catch 22 scenario.”

Consisting only of direct descendants of the original Awabakal people, the claim group is separate and distinct from the Awabakal Aboriginal Local Land Council, based in Newcastle.

Members of the land council must also be Aboriginal but do not have to be a direct descendant of an Awabakal person.

The council also has a separate process for undertaking land claims.

“The materials that our ancestors have left, I have no greater say … over those sites than any other Aboriginal person,” said claim group member Peter Leven, who works in heritage.

“For me, it’s a personal connection to these items that I touch when I do my job …these are things that my direct ancestors have made.

“We actually said to the state, we’re not interested in the money or compensation …money isn’t going to fix what’s happened. Recognition will fix what’s happened.”

Mr Owens was originally a property lawyer but has devoted the last 20 years to assisting with native title claims, much of the time working pro bono.

He said it was “extraordinarily difficult” for Aboriginal peopleto meet the requirements of the Native Title Act in the areas that had been densely populated following white settlement.

“Numerous submissions have been made to various federal governments of both persuasions to soften or amend the provisions, because in some places, it’s nearly impossible to prove it,” he said. “They were exposed to the full blow torch of history.”

Mr Owens said that unlike in other states, NSW did not have any published standardsor criteria that had to be met for a native title claim to be successful.

“All we ever got from the state was that it didn’t meet the criteria,” he said. “They didn’t say how, what, why, when or where.

“With the Awabakal and Guringai people they were also denied access to federal government funding … they were completely and utterly by themselves. When they’re not receiving that funding, it’s very much David and Goliath.”​

Mr Frost said Aboriginal people were being encouraged to embark on claims with no idea how difficult, costly and lengthythe process would be.

“[It] chews you up and spits you out, in a way.”

Just got mail from your super fund? You should read it

14/09/2019

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It’s the time of the year when annual statements from super funds for the year to June 30, 2017, are sent out. It you haven’t yet received your statement you should be receiving it soon.
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This year, more than any other, it’s important for fund members to check their statements.

That’s because there have been significant changes for up to 1 million fund members who have been shifted to another type of default option that’s very different to the option they were in.

All employer super payments already have to be going to a fund that is MySuper-compliant. But mid-2017 was the deadline by which all accumulated savings had to be moved and most funds switched their members well before the deadline.

MySuper-compliance applies to the default investment options and ensures a set of consumer safeguards for those fund members, the vast majority, who don’t choose their super fund.

One of those safeguards sees a welcome end of what was a fees rip-off. This was where a fee was charged for financial advice, despite the fund member never receiving any advice.

For not-for-profit funds, such as industry funds, which have never paid advice commissions, their standard default investment options, with the odd exception, have remained as their MySuper-compliant default options.

For the vast majority of industry fund members who are in their funds’ default options, nothing has changed.

But most retail funds, such as those run by the banks and insurers, have made life-stage or life-cycle options, which are MySuper compliant, their default options.

Up to 1 million members of mostly retail super funds been switched to this new type of investment option.

Some fund members will be with the options on the recommendation of their financial planner, where presumably the benefits will have been explained to them.

Many others will have been shifted without them having to do anything. They will have been notified by their funds, but they probably didn’t give too much thought to it at the time.

Life-cycle options are very different to the standard balanced options, which have a fairly static asset allocations and whose returns are easily comparable to each other.

With life-cycle options, fund members are grouped into cohorts depending on birth decade. The asset allocation is set aggressively when the age cohort is young and then becomes progressively more conservative as the cohort ages.

As most of these life-cycle options are new, there is little track record and the changing asset allocation makes them difficult, if not impossible, to compare to each other and to the standard default offerings.

I am not saying that life-cycle options are necessary bad, though I am sceptical about whether they are going to leave fund members better off than the standard balanced investment options.

While past performance is no guarantee of future performance, the standard balanced options do have a good record of meeting their performance objectives.

Follow John Collett on Twitter.

Abbott allies go to ground, Labor lashes ‘loopy’ Lib following speech

14/09/2019

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Labor, the Greens and climate change activists have rounded on Tony Abbott for a “loopy” London speech in which the former prime minister suggested temperature rises caused by climate change could be beneficial because “far more people die in cold snaps”.
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Political allies and friends of the former leader went to ground on Tuesday following the incendiary speech to the sceptic Global Warming Policy Forum, which is the latest in a series of dramatic interventions from Mr Abbott into the energy debate, including a recent warning that he could cross the floor rather than vote for a clean energy target.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The Coalition has effectively signalled it will not adopt a clean energy target and an alternative policy proposal, designed to ensure greater reliability in ‘s electricity networks and force down prices, could go to cabinet and then the Coalition party room as soon as next week.

In his speech, Mr Abbott also suggested the science of climate change was not settled, that 100 years of photography at Manly beach, in his Warringah electorate in Sydney, suggested sea levels had not risen and that, “environmentalism has managed to combine a post-socialist instinct for big government with a post-Christian nostalgia for making sacrifices in a good cause”.

“Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods. We’re more sophisticated now but are still sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little more effect,” he said.

Ben Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, said “there was nothing loopy in the speech whatsoever, it was very rational” and it was well-received by the 200-strong audience, which included ambassadors from central European countries and Japan, and a number of British MPs.

“I am not saying everything he said I agree with – but that’s the point,” he said.

The aim of the forum was to provide a “full spectrum of views” on climate and energy policy “and nowadays if you do that you are controversial,” he said, adding that he was glad the speech had generated a strong reaction because “that was the whole idea, I think”.

“Our aim is to offer people the ability to have a proper debate without all the noise and shouting”.

Mr Abbott had been invited to speak partly because “it’s unusual for a senior politician to speak frankly about these things,” Mr Peiser said. “They usually would say these things in private.”

The ABC’s London bureau chief Lisa Millar said on Twitter that her news team were “not allowed to hear [the] speech or report on it firsthand in London”, having been told it was a “non-media event” – despite parts of the speech being given to News Corp publications in advance. Guardian ‘s editor Bridie Jabour said on Twitter the Guardian was blocked from attending. Fairfax Media also sought attendance but Mr Abbott’s office said the speech was by invitation only and not open to the media.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said Mr Abbott had “left the realm of the merely destructive and entered the realm of the loopy. This is actually weird stuff – we know climate change is having an effect in as well. To be denying it in this way seems so bloody minded.”

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the speech was an “extraordinary intervention” and that the former prime minister was “calling the policy shots” on the government’s move to walk away from the clean energy target.

Fairfax Media spoke to several Liberal MPs who count themselves as friends and conservative allies of Mr Abbott on Tuesday but none wished to speak on the record about the former prime minister’s intervention.

Those MPs welcomed the prospect of the government walking away from a clean energy target but dismissed suggestions that Mr Abbott had played a consequential role in arriving at this position.

Greens climate change spokesman Adam Bandt MP said the former Liberal leader was a “dangerous fool who could be simply ignored were it not for his ability to dictate Malcolm Turnbull’s climate policy”, while environmental groups such as the Climate Council said the speech was out of touch with reality.

Former British Labour leader Ed Miliband responded to the speech with a tweet that said: “I know Donald Trump has lowered the bar for idiocy but…..”

Mr Abbott has adopted a variety of positions on climate change in the past decade, including advocating a carbon tax and advocating a vote for Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme back in 2009 – before he reversed course and took the leadership from Malcolm Turnbull in the process – campaigning against Julia Gillard’s emissions trading scheme, signing up to the Paris Climate agreement and then suggesting that the deal was aspirational only.

Mr Abbott’s political ally Craig Kelly dismissed suggestions the former leader was angling for a return to the leadership and that Mr Turnbull would lead the party to the next election during an interview on Sky News.

He added, however, that you could “never say never” about such an unlikely political come back.

The Global Warming Policy Forum has published the text of the speech online and plans to upload a video.

Why I finally admitted I was powerless over alcohol

14/09/2019

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Three years ago I had hit my personal rock bottom, and was at a point where I was ready to take my own life. And yet here I stand, today, blessed to be three years into a life fully-recovered, healthy, and completely free from any desire to even touch alcohol.
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There are countless women who think there is no hope left.

Shanna is now determined to help others. Photo: saltkreative成都夜场招聘

I feel mandated to be part of the message of hope that recovery and freedom can happen, and to help people see the truth of what alcoholism can look like – that it begins, for many of us, with a very unhealthy relationship with “wine o’clock”.

Many a work-day ended for me with a wine or two. Over time, for me, that “one harmless glass” of wine insidiously became one bottle, and then two.

For Shanna Whan, hitting rock bottom was the ‘best’ thing.

Suddenly – I was in my thirties – and I looked in the mirror to see that I was in the grip of a disease that nearly took my life.

The first thing people ask me is: “how did you get that way?”

It wasn’t like falling off a cliff and having a tragic accident. It wasn’t sudden. This thing took hold of my life when I was 18, and manifested over a period of more than twenty years. It began as a series of traumatic events and abusive relationships that happened when I was an extremely naïve young country girl.

I was simply not emotionally equipped to deal with what happened to me in that part of my life. But those things stole my youth and my hope and my future.

A few beers at a party helped me to find my courage socially as a young woman, because I was paranoid, ashamed, and scared. Alcohol was all around me in rural . In the country party scene where I grew up, it was the ‘done thing’ to binge at parties. It was a badge of honour to get as drunk as possible. This provided a terrific way for me to escape so much of what plagued me.

A pattern of alcohol entered my life. Over time, it remained with me as a way to either relax, get to sleep, shut down bad memories, or just to become the confident person people thought I was. I loved the freedom I thought alcohol was giving me.

I didn’t want to see the truth of the matter. That it was nothing but a façade that was taking over my life.

My twenties were basically a disaster.But somehow, in my thirties, I was fortunate enough to marry a truly wonderful man.

By my mid-thirties, I had begun trying (again and again) to get healthy and sort my life out. It was very apparent there was a problem with booze now. It proved to be almost impossible. But I still fought and struggled desperately with the concept that I was addicted. I could not, for the life of me, look the “A” word in the eye.

I didn’t drink every day. I didn’t drink DURING the day. I worked SO hard. I was successful. Surely I couldn’t be an alcoholic? If my husband or anyone suggested I was – I would become angry and offended.

When my husband and I tried and failed numerous times to start a family – and it became apparent we wouldn’t be able to – something inside of me broke. I was already broken – but the façade I had so carefully tried to maintain began to crumble.

The unfairness of this off the back of what had already been stolen from me as a young woman just undid me completely – and my drinking took on an entirely new level of destruction.

By my late thirties, I was frequently contemplating suicide. I felt like the worthlessness and fear and shame and grief had finally caught me. I was so trapped in self-pity and bitterness and grief that I couldn’t see hope anymore.

Hitting rock-bottom ended up being the greatest thing to ever happen to me.

Because one day, out of complete desperation – I tried one last time. One last thing. I picked up the phone, and I reached out to a recovery support person. For the first time in my life, I saw hope. I met somebody exactly like me. I stupidly had thought prior to this that I was the only person in my situation. Suddenly, everything changed.

This person educated me, and showed me the truth of what alcoholism looks like, acts like, and presents as. And it was nothing that I had imagined. I grabbed that small spark of hope, and I threw myself completely into the second chance I realised was there.

I stopped lying, pretending, and minimising the truth. I turned around for the first time and looked into the mirror and became 100 per cent honest for the first time in a long time. It’s a cliché for sure – but I admitted I was powerless over alcohol.

For the first time in my entire life, I said the “A” word.

I spoke the truth in front of my family, friends, and eventually everyone. I was an alcoholic.

And – again, it’s a cliché – but it was through the process of surrendering to the truth that I was able to become strong again. The fear I’d carried suddenly lost its power over me.

I worked harder than I had ever worked in my life. I did everything I could to follow the advice and suggestions from successfully recovered people that I could.

I believe that what happened to me then was a miracle. The desire for alcohol left me completely. I stopped thinking about it, wanting it, and needing it.

Three years later, I am completely recovered, healthy and well. It feels like I am finally being given the chance to live the life I was blessed with.

Given how heartbreakingly rare this is (most people fight the need for alcohol the rest of their lives) I made a decision, then and there, that I would use the freedom I had been given to help others.

What I now understand – especially in rural – is that the stigmas, judgement, and fearfulness surrounding this much-misunderstood hellish thing are rampant. We still live in a culture that embraces, celebrates, and revolves around booze. So, for anybody who’s headed for (or trapped in) an addictive or destructive cycle, seeking help becomes a seemingly mountainous impossibility.

I now try and help bridge that gap of understanding. Because people are dying from a preventable disease out here.

My entire aim is to help people understand that for those trapped in alcoholism, it has long progressed from a ‘choice’ to a full-blown addiction, and that the people trapped need to be educated and supported, not further condemned.

But it’s a complex and emotive topic, and I am the first to admit that when I was in the grip of alcoholism I was no longer myself. It is absolutely a monster that ruins people and families and lives.

But there is hope. And there is a way out.

Shanna is a guest on tonight’s episode ofInsightat 830pm on SBS, which explores why women over 40 are drinking more.

‘You end up behind a bar’: 22 graduates fighting for every job

14/09/2019

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Alicia Keir is in her final year of a teaching degree and expects that it will take about two years to find a full-time job once she graduates, but is worried it could take much longer.
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“I know people who go up to seven years without finding a permanent position,” said Ms Keir, 26, who is studying primary education at the University of Newcastle and lives in Sydney’s south-west.

“Each year, I’ve seen how many teaching graduates come through, it’s the luck of the draw whether a spot [in a school is] available.”

Across , about 22 university graduates are competing for every new graduate position and many will need to settle for low-paying entry roles “just to get their foot in the jobs market”, a new national report has found.

The competition for graduate jobs is the worst in South , with 46 recent university-leavers per new role, according to an analysis of nearly 140,000 job ads by market aggregator Adzuna.

This falls to 22 new graduates per role in Victoria and 20 graduates for every job in NSW. The Northern Territory has the least competition, with six new graduates per role.

Nationally, 130,105 people who recently left university with bachelor degrees are competing for 5783 advertised graduate positions, the report found, based on an analysis of the Department of Education’s university completion data and recent job advertisements.

Adzuna’s chief executive Raife Watson said that more than a third of advertised graduate jobs are in Sydney, but the chances of getting a role increase significantly outside major cities.

“Don’t be the 20 graduates applying for a job in Sydney, be the two people applying in Gunnedah,” Mr Watson said. “That’s the trick, be flexible in location.”

Ms Keir said she is passionate about teaching and working with children, but will start thinking about a career change if it takes too long to find a full-time job.

“I’d potentially go and study again, either further my education and maybe go into high school teaching or, in seven years, I might want to go into a completely differently industry,” Ms Keir said.

Mr Watson said that some fields, such as law and teaching, are much harder to find work in than others.

“It’s cheap for universities to churn out courses in certain areas, especially degrees outside the sciences with [fewer] contact hours and teachers,” Mr Watson said.

“With deregulation, there are more places and scores drop, but there just aren’t the jobs at the end of it, so you have a huge number of graduates who aren’t needed.

“You end up behind a bar or in some other job that’s unrelated to what you studied. You see a lot of law graduates going into sales or call centres.”

More than 7500 n students graduated with law degrees in 2015 but there are about 84 graduate law positions advertised nationally on Adzuna, which captures about 80 per cent of the overall job market.

This equates to about 90 new law graduates per available graduate position.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are nearly 700 graduate engineer positions being advertised and about 6000 students graduated with an engineering degree in 2015, equating to nearly nine graduates per role.

Mr Watson said more needs to be done by governments and businesses to address the gap between what people are studying and where jobs are available.

“We need to think about what’s really needed in education, the courses that we really need in the country,” he said.

“Why aren’t we pushing more people into [science, technology, maths and engineering] degrees?”