Cyrus Villanueva is now officially crowned the X Factor champion of Australia. The 19-year old graphic design student could not hold back his tears when his name was announced last Tuesday November 24. Cyrus went up against fellow finalists Louise Adams and popular duo Jess and Matt in the grand finals, but the Wollongong kid will not be denied. He sang his winner’s debut single, “Stone”, to the delight of the adoring crowd.
His win is a major achievement and an incredible moment for the Villanueva clan, the MAS HOOPDREAMZ family and the greater Filipino community who went all out to throw their support behind Cyrus.
The grand prize is a management deal with Parade and a massive five-album recording contract with powerhouse label Sony Music, home to international stars Britney Spears, Fifth Harmony, Carrie Underwood, Tony Bennett and more. Cyrus’ X Factor mentor, American music star Chris Isaak also wants to invite his young protégé to join him in his Australian tour next April.
“I can’t thank everyone enough honestly. Of course I want to thank all my fans, everyone that supports this show and everyone that supported me, “ the newly-crowd X Factor champion said.
At press time, Cyrus’ new single has already hit #1 in the iTunes charts, toppling Adele and Justin Bieber. He is headed to Melbourne to finish his album, which will make its Australian debut on December 9.
The man behind Cyrus Villanueva’s sudden rise to stardom is none other than Hip Hop impresario Marco Selorio, who put the young talent into the X Factor auditions after he won the Urbanstar Talent Quest back in February.
Cyrus is the second Filipino-Australian to win the coveted X Factor crown. Last year, 15-year old teenager Marlisa Punzalan from West Sydney won the same title.
With the upcoming busy Christmas holiday period, the Australian Government has launched a new advertising campaign to help the Filipino community and other nationalities be even more informed and prepared when travelling home to visit family and friends.
An initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT), the smartraveller website smartraveller.gov.au offers a range of an online resources to assist all Australians be prepared and self-reliant when travelling overseas. It includes travel advisories, information for dual nationals, tips on what to do in an emergency, and a guide to buying the right travel insurance.
Regardless of whether you’re travelling to a familiar place or have the support of your family and friends, the unexpected can happen. It’s vital to be well informed and prepared, so you’re equipped to handle unforeseen circumstances. Accidents can happen to anyone, even in familiar locations.
Without the right insurance you are personally liable for any medical or other costs resulting from unexpected incidents. Smartraveller offers a travel insurance guide to help you get the right travel insurance for your trip.
Smartraveller provides information on the type of assistance the Australian consulate can provide in an emergency and when Australians are expected to use the resources available to them before turning to the Australian Government for assistance.
Smartraveller also offers important information on the laws and restrictions that apply in the country you’re travelling to. For example, in the Philippines, possession of even small amounts of so-called ‘soft drugs’ attracts mandatory jail sentences.
Smartraveller contains a concise, translated summary of the key information you need to know before travelling overseas. This useful resource can be found at smartraveller.gov.au/philippines.
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS The Hon Julie Bishop MP - SPEECH APEC 2015 MINISTERIAL MEETING MANILA, PHILIPPINESFriday, 13 May 2016 00:38 Written by Evelyn Zaragoza
We meet in the wake of the horrendous terrorist attacks against unarmed and defenceless victims in Paris. In condemning these horrific events, we are also reminded that we must stand united in the fight against global terrorism wherever it may arise.
I welcome the Philippines’ leadership of APEC this year, and I thank Secretaries del Rosario and Domingo for their warm hospitality here in Manila. I will highlight Australia’s work and priorities relating to the “Inclusive Growth” agenda.
Enhancing and fostering innovation will be vital to increasing private sector investment including in necessary infrastructure and driving economic growth. The Australian Government has put innovation at the heart of our economy. We are supporting our creative industries in attracting and retaining our best talent, encouraging and training our entrepreneurs, encouraging start-ups and new ways of financing new ideas, and embracing ingenuity and enterprise.
This is a whole-of-government approach. In our foreign aid program we are tackling seemingly intractable development challenges with new and innovative ideas and ways of providing development assistance.
Our innovationXchange – an ideas hub for our aid program – is working with some of the best creative thinkers internationally and from the private sector to come up with solutions to development challenges.
For a start, we are sourcing new ideas, for example, for aquaculture technologies that will deliver sustainable food and protein sources to developing communities and better manage the environmental impact. Our “Blue Economy” challenge is a $3 million initiative that seeks ideas from an open source base meaning that anyone from a young university student in Manila to an experienced engineer in Perth can submit their ideas to our website on how to use the oceans as a source of economic growth and opportunity. The best and boldest ideas will be selected for trial, and scaled up.
Building skilled and innovative workforces is also a major challenge facing all economies. Education and training must be relevant to industry if we are to seize the opportunities that new technologies offer.
The Australian Government consults closely with business and training providers in shaping our technical and vocational education training system. Industry drives around 80 per cent of all changes made to training programs. Australia has identified areas for improvement in skills training systems across five APEC economies, in transport and logistics, and in lifting connectivity, productivity and labour mobility. A second phase of this initiative, which I announced in Peru earlier this year, is being developed for the four economies of the Pacific Alliance – Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru.
Women’s economic empowerment remains a regional and global challenge. Addressing limits on women’s participation in the workforce could add around US$90 billion a year to economies in our region. Australia is funding APEC trade promotion agencies to train SMEs operated by women. The training programs will help them access finance, and build technology and logistics capability. It will also include education in international business such as letters of credit, accessing tariff information and e-commerce.
I am pleased to announce a new $46 million flagship project “Investing in Women”, funded by Australia in partnership with a number of APEC economies in Southeast Asia. The initiative will help unlock finance to women-led SMEs via loan guarantees, and micro finance. Business coalitions will be formed in developing countries to promote gender equality throughout their supply chains. The initiative will also promote cooperation between governments and business to improve employment conditions such as parental leave, flexible work arrangements and to increase the number of women in leadership roles.
Australia recognises that open and transparent energy markets are the best guarantor of energy security and resilience. We are cooperating with other economies to ensure energy is accessible and to end the “energy poverty” that exists in our region.
We are working with the United States and Indonesia to provide loan guarantees to local commercial banks to encourage the financing of small-scale clean energy projects in 14 provinces in Indonesia, such as micro-hydro power schemes.
Australia has funded a new APEC mining facility to support projects that improve the environment for mining-related trade and investment. Without new investment in coal and gas projects, we will not meet our global energy needs. For example, coal currently supplies around 30 per cent of primary energy and over 40 per cent of global electricity. The use of coal to generate electricity is forecast to rise by over 50 per cent by 2030. The International Energy Agency estimates that over the next 20 years, cumulative global investment in energy production alone will approach US$50 trillion.
Given the opportunities this will provide for mining and energy service providers, Australia is working with several APEC economies and the private sector to encourage the growth of trade in mining-equipment, services and technology in the region.
The rate of urbanisation in our region is among the highest in the world, challenging the liveability of our cities. Around 80 per cent of APEC’s GDP growth is produced in urban areas. Public Private Partnerships are the most effective model to deliver quality urban infrastructure. PPP centres in sixteen APEC economies are sharing expertise and lessons learned to deliver bankable projects. Australia’s G20 Infrastructure Hub, based in Sydney, is working with APEC, to match projects with finance.
Natural disasters impose high costs on the region’s economy. I welcome APEC’s leadership in promoting emergency preparedness and disaster resilience. Australia is bringing together agencies from across the region to boost our ability to detect seismic and ocean changes using a range of technologies. Early warning of natural disasters will give governments longer response time to minimise the loss of life and limit the social and economic impact.
Our focus on these six priority areas – innovation, industry-relevant education and training, women’s economic empowerment, energy resilience, urbanisation and infrastructure and disaster resilience – will lead to shared economic growth and prosperity across our region - which of course is APEC’s reason for being.
Calls for a wide-ranging national approach to strengthening Australia’s innovation culture have been welcomed by Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne.
Addressing the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Adelaide, new Innovation Australia chair Bill Ferris said Australia needed a cultural shift across research, industry and policy to boost venture capital investment, increase collaboration and embrace the opportunity inherent in risk.
Mr Pyne said Mr Ferris’ comments confirmed the need for action to help Australian businesses in all sectors to embrace innovation.
“Mr Ferris has long experience in the risky venture capital industry and is taking a keen advisory role during the development of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, and we value his perspective and the wealth of experience he contributes,” Mr Pyne said.
“Mr Ferris has correctly pointed to the importance of innovation both for today’s jobs, exports and profits – but also ensuring that future generations can exploit these opportunities.
“He reminds us that Innovation applies to all sectors and areas: from agriculture to IT, from start-ups that don’t exist yet and small businesses all the way up to our biggest companies.
“We have got to look at all options to ensure the money the Government spends on innovation – all $9.7 billion of it – goes where it can do the most good.”
The Agenda will focus on four pillars of improving talents and skills, commercialising research, raising capital, and government to change a pervasive culture of risk averseness and build entrepreneurship, and is expected to be announced early next month.
Policeman and detectives in Dubai are about to get some high-tech,
wearable help in the fight against crime. Dubai's police department
plans to distribute Google Glass to law enforcers.
As part of a plan to make Dubai's police force the "smartest in the
world" by 2018, the police department in the country wants to equip beat
officers - and eventually, its detectives - with Google Glass running
customized facial recognition software.
Google Glass, which offers a tiny, computer powered heads-up display
that can deliver news, directions, search and other information powered
by Google Glass apps, has not quite taken the world by storm.
At $1,500, it's well out of the range of most affordable portable
However, business has started to warm to the cutting-edge wearable that
can also be worn with specially designed prescription glasses. Google
Glass has also started to show up in hospitals, and while there have
been consistent privacy concerns over consumers wearing Glass in public,
the purpose of policemen wearing it would be gathering information
"The software that we developed internally enables us to connect a
database of wanted people with the glass," Dubai police's director
general, Colonel Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, told the Dubai-based news
site 7DaysinDubai. "Once the glass recognizes the suspect based on a
face print, it will give an alert to the officer wearing it."
The rollout, however, appears to be moving slowly. The four Google Glass
headsets in the Dubai police department are mostly being used to catch
More of the country's best performing arts companies are set to tour regional NSW this year with the help of further NSW Government funding, Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant said today.
Regional NSW will enjoy singing performances, theatre, ballet and workshops from four renowned art organisations with $137,000 from the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government.
"I'm proud the NSW Government is investing in the demand for quality and diverse art forms in the regions and building audiences and creating jobs in this vibrant sector," Mr Grant said.
"I'm equally proud of the variety of destinations across our state set to welcome some of our best art organisations as of both metropolitan and regionally based companies supported by the Government to take to the stage in 2016."
One of the key aims of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government's new Create in NSW 10-year policy framework is ensuring people have access to a diverse range of arts experiences no matter where they live.
The NSW Government has invested a total of $700,000 through the Performing Arts Touring Program to give regional communities the opportunity to experience performing arts productions throughout 2016.
The latest Performing Arts Touring recipients are:
CDP Theatre Producers: $50,000 to deliver a 2016 tour of The 52-Storey Treehouse. The tour will include performances at nine venues, reaching more than 10,000 NSW young people. The production is an adaptation by Richard Tulloch from the award-winning Australian book by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. Locations: Lismore, Wagga Wagga, Newcastle, Wollongong, Gosford, Griffith, Dubbo, Port Macquarie, Orange.
Eastern Riverina Arts: $5,502 to tour Fred Smith's Dust of Uruzgan, a collection of songs Fred wrote while working as a tribal and political advisor alongside Australian Forces in Uruzgan Province, Southern Afghanistan. The songs and stories are complemented by a collection of visual projections, donated by Australian Defence Force photographers who patrolled alongside troops. Locations: Wagga, Coolamon, Adelong, West Wyalong and Temora.
The Australian Ballet: $50,000 to deliver a NSW tour of the classical ballet Giselle in 2016. Locations: Orange, Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Newcastle.
Brimbank City Council is encouraging residents to get to know their neighbours by offering grants for activities that will bring people together for Neighbour Day on Sunday 27 March.
Brimbank City Council’s Chair of Administrators John Watson said 20 grants of up to $250 will be available to residents who organise a local activity that will help those living nearby connect with each other.
“A key objective of Council is community wellbeing and Neighbour Day can help achieve this by connecting people and creating safer, healthier and welcoming local areas,” he said.
“It was great to see how people embraced the initiative last year - more than 685 Brimbank residents connected through Neighbour Day 2015 in suburbs across the municipality.
“Anyone planning a fun activity to get people together on Neighbour Day, whether it be a barbecue or a sports game in a local park, should consider applying for a grant to assist with running the activity.
“To be successful grant applications will need to show how the activity will connect and encourage neighbourhood participation at a local level and detail what they plan to spend the money on. The grants can’t be used to purchase some items such as alcohol.”
Neighbour Day was founded by Andrew Heslop, an Australian community activist in Melbourne in March 2003 after the remains of an elderly woman were found inside her suburban home two years after she had passed away.
However, what started as a warning to check on elderly neighbours has grown into a much wider annual celebration of strong communities and friendly streets. Now in its 13th year Neighbour Day aims to reduce social isolation and encourage people to look out for one another.
A simple application process has been developed for the Neighbour Day grants to make it as easy as possible for people to apply.
An information sheet that explains the grant application process and provides examples and ideas for activities is available by contacting 9249 4899 or visit http://www.brimbank.vic.gov.au/COMMUNITY/Community_grants
Applications for Neighbour Day grants close on Friday 19 February 2016.
The NSW Coroner's Court and Department of Forensic Medicine will move to a purpose-built facility in Western Sydney, the NSW Government announced today.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Attorney General Gabrielle Upton said a state-of-the-art facility will be constructed on a Government-owned site along Joseph Street in Lidcombe, which was formerly home to the old Lidcombe Hospital.
The relocation of the Coroner's Court and NSW Health Pathology's forensic medicine services from inner-city Glebe to the city's west will bring down the curtain on a rich chapter in Sydney's public life.
"For over four decades, many of Sydney's high-profile police cases and inquests have unfolded in Glebe but the time to modernise has come," Ms Upton said.
"Better integrating the coronial and forensic pathology services in a state-of-the-art facility on a single site will enhance coordination between these agencies."
In 2014, the NSW Government opened three forensic laboratories on the Lidcombe site dedicated to solving crime through sophisticated DNA and chemical analysis.
"Adding the Coroner's Court and forensic pathology services to the Lidcombe site will cement its reputation as Australia's leading forensic and coronial precinct," Mrs Skinner said.
"The Lidcombe site has a larger footprint than Glebe, allowing us to revolutionise the full suite of advanced forensic and coronial services we provide. The new precinct will not only provide a better and more collaborative working environment for staff but offer a more comfortable environment for grieving families."
Health Infrastructure has commenced planning and design work on the multi-storey building which will have an estimated total cost of about $100 million. Coronial and forensic pathology staff and local residents will be consulted during the process.
The facility is expected to open by 2020. A feasibility study will be conducted to determine the future of the Glebe site.