Evelyn Zaragoza

Evelyn Zaragoza

Sunday, 10 June 2018 13:39

It is time to assess the ATAR


New analysis shows just one in four students are entering university undergraduate courses based on their ATAR, exposing a huge contrast to the importance placed on ATAR in schools.
The latest paper by Mitchell Institute at Victoria University explores how different sectors use the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank or ‘ATAR’, and asks if this system is getting in the way of education goals.  
Mitchell Institute Director, Megan O’Connell, said today’s paper should prompt governments and educators to look at how young people are moving from school to further study and careers, and consider if the ATAR’s number is up.
“The question parents, students and teachers should be asking today is, if ATAR doesn’t matter for three quarters of undergraduate admissions, why is it treated as the most important outcome of 13 years of schooling?” Ms O’Connell said.
“To be successful in future jobs and participate in society, young people need a broad range of knowledge, skills and capabilities that might not all contribute to a high ATAR.
“Schools could play a leading role in growing students’ talents and developing capabilities that are important for lifelong success, but this is often overlooked in favour of teaching content for high ATARs.”
The ATAR is a useful, transparent tool for universities to compare students when deciding entry to high demand undergraduate courses but with more places now available across the board, the ATAR’s usefulness is declining overall.
Changes to the tertiary sector have seen the amount of students commencing higher education grow by 46 percent in less than ten years since 2007, and more avenues being used to gain entry. However this shift has not been reflected in schools, where ATAR is often seen as the ultimate goal for students and their families, a marker of school excellence and an indicator of course quality at universities.
These broader uses have implications, such as Year 12 students choosing certain subjects just to boost their ATAR, potentially altering their school experience. ATAR is even influencing career decisions – some students believe university courses with high cut-off scores are higher quality, so choose these over courses better-suited to their passions to avoid ‘wasting’ their ATAR.
Ms O’Connell said policy makers should think about how to support successful transitions from school that prioritise individual strengths, capabilities, interests and career opportunities over ‘spending’ of an ATAR.
“We have great teachers trying groundbreaking methods to engage students and give them the tools to reach their very best but they sometimes face resistance if approaches don’t deliver high ATARs.
“It is time to look across our education system, decide what we want it to deliver for young people, for communities and for our future economy, then consider what role, if any, the ATAR should play.”
The paper, Crunching the number: Exploring the use and the usefulness of the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) is available at www.mitchellinstitute.org.au ENDS

Sunday, 10 June 2018 13:38



Consumers can now enjoy extended expiry dates on gift cards thanks to NSW Government reforms set to kick in this weekend, Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said.
Mr Kean said the new gift card laws officially begin today and are a big win for consumers across the state.
“These reforms put consumers first by mandating a minimum three-year expiry date for all gift cards sold in NSW,” Mr Kean said.
Under the new laws, businesses will also be banned from applying post-purchase administration fees to gift cards, which reduce the balance left on the card.
Most gift cards previously came with a 12-month expiry date; however, up to eight per cent of recipients did not use the full balance in time.
Mr Kean said the reforms would therefore put up to $60 million a year back in the hands of NSW shoppers.
“This is all about giving consumers confidence that when they buy gift cards for friends or relatives, they’re getting value for money,” Mr Kean said.
In response to the reforms, some retailers including Woolworths, have decided to scrap expiry dates altogether for gift cards sold across the nation.
“These Australian-first reforms send a strong message that NSW is leading the way in putting consumers first, and I commend those businesses which are delivering for their customers by providing even more flexibility,” Mr Kean said.
Gift cards purchased before 31 March 2018 will have the same expiry date and terms and conditions that applied at the time of purchase.


NSW continues to deliver strong housing approvals with more than 71,000 new homes approved in the 12 months to January 2018, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts, said that the NSW Government’s strategy to get first homebuyers into the market was working and the numbers show that the home building is maintaining its strong momentum.
“NSW housing approvals have remained at least 40 per cent above the State target of 50,000 annual approvals since November 2015,” Mr Roberts said.
“A strong approvals pipeline ensures that new homes continue to be built, adding to jobs and growth, and relieving the pressure on house prices.
“Since the last election, we have averaged almost 73,000 building approvals a year. That is more than twice the annual rate of building approvals under Labor’ anemic figures of just 31,600 approvals a year.
“This demonstrates the Government’s ongoing commitment to putting downward pressure on house prices for New South Wales families.
“We have streamlined the development application process for new homes and set a target of 90 per cent of DAs being approved in less than 40 days.
“On top of that, infrastructure has also been a critical factor in helping us deliver record levels of housing approvals, especially in Greenfield areas in the North West and South West.
“We will continue to invest in world-class transport, hospitals, schools and green space as well as ensuring that housing is affordable, Mr Roberts said.

Up to 1,000 drivers under the age of 25 will be given the chance to participate in an innovative NSW Government trial with in-car technology aimed at reducing road casualties across the state.
Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello and Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey today announced the telematics trial would run for six months, with participants receiving $100 via the NSW Green Slip scheme.  
Telematics, which is like a “black box” for cars, is widely used internationally in the motor vehicle insurance industry to record and rate driver behaviour, such as speed, acceleration, braking and turning.
Mr Dominello said the deployment of telematics technology via the CTP insurance scheme could help to improve road crash rates among younger drivers.
“The research shows that drivers who use telematics become safer and better able to adapt to changing driving conditions as a result of the real-time feedback,” Mr Dominello said.
“We want the NSW CTP scheme to be cutting edge and this technology has the potential to reduce Green Slips for young drivers. Most importantly, this technology has the potential to save lives.”
Mrs Pavey said: “Western Sydney drivers under 25 years are up to 4.5 times more likely to be involved in casualty crashes, and up to 5 times more likely to be involved in crashes resulting in serious injury or fatality.”
The trial will commence in the second half of the year, and an expressions of interest process will be held to identify the type of technology to be used. A partial payment will be made at the beginning of the trial, with the remainder paid on successful completion of the trial.
Young drivers who hold P1, P2 or unrestricted licences will be able to participate in the trial. Eligible drivers can pre-register at www.sira.nsw.gov.au


The safety of our emergency service workers and volunteers received a huge boost today with the NSW Government announcing it will introduce a new road rule requiring motorists to slow down to 40km/h when passing them on the roadside.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Troy Grant said the 40km/hr rule will provide extra protection for our emergency service personnel who put their lives on the line.
“Our emergency service workers and volunteers are out there every day, often putting themselves in harm’s way to protect us and keep us safe on the roads,” Mr Grant said. 

“Our police, fire fighters, ambulance officers, State Emergency Service and rescue volunteers do difficult and dangerous work with little or no fanfare.

“These new measures will help ensure the safety of our dedicated emergency service personnel.” 

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said the new rule will strengthen current laws and require motorists  to slow down to 40km/hr when an emergency vehicle is stopped and has its red or blue lights flashing on all roads.
“The new rule will begin as a 12 month trial from 1 September 2018 following a comprehensive public education campaign,” said Mrs Pavey.

These rules will give all emergency workers extra protection, and confidence that they can go to work and at the end of their shift, get home safely to their families.

The NSW Government will monitor the safety and traffic impacts of the rule over the 12-month period in consultation with NSW Police, emergency service organisations as well as stakeholder groups.


The NSW Government has introduced new rules making it easier to develop versatile, well-designed and more affordable low-rise medium density housing across the State.
The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code and Low Rise Medium Density Design Guide will allow well-designed, dual occupancies, manor houses and terraces to be built under a fast track complying development approval, saving homeowners time and money.
Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts, said the new Code would facilitate faster housing supply and contribute to housing affordability.
“The need for more high-quality medium sized homes comes as population projections estimate metropolitan Sydney will need another 725,000 homes to accommodate an extra 1.7 million people by 2036,” Mr Roberts said.
“Low-rise medium density housing is the missing part of the NSW housing stock between traditional free-standing homes and strata-titled apartments.
“With the growing and ageing population in NSW, there is a need for a greater variety of houses to suit the range of needs and lifestyles including growing families and empty nesters.
“The Code and Design Guide will encourage the market to provide more diverse housing options by making it easier to build well-designed, quality medium density homes that respect existing neighbourhoods.”
Proposed two-storey building height limits will ensure the size and scale of complying development is low rise and will easily fit into established streetscapes.
“The Greater Sydney Commission’s Region and District Plans identify medium density housing as promoting greater housing choice, diversity and affordability. It allows for seniors to downsize as well as being a more affordable option for young people,” Mr Roberts said.
The Medium Density Design Guide has been developed in partnership with the Government Architect’s Office and aims to improve the design of medium density housing by addressing key considerations including layout, landscaping, private open space, light, natural ventilation and privacy.
Mr Roberts said the Design Guide was influenced by a national medium density design competition held by the NSW Government that invited architects and building designers to present a glimpse of the future of the state’s homes while testing the controls.
“During the competition, talented creators showed what the future diversity of homes will look like, using space, light and smaller blocks,” Mr Roberts said.
Executive Director, NSW of the Australian Institute of Architects, Mr Joshua Morrin, said that good architectural design of medium density homes would ensure that residents could enjoy good amenity and liveability.
“Architectural design prioritises both quality of space and human amenity - qualities which our cities will need all the more as they continue to grow - the spaces that we live in need to work harder.
“The smaller homes that will increasingly be part of our cities, highlighting the need for good design principles and requirements, such as those in the Medium Density Design Guide. We need more quality design to future proof the liveability of our communities,” Mr Morrin said.
Housing Industry Association’s Director, David Bare, said the code would help with supply and cost.
“Faster approvals of these types of homes will address both supply and affordability. They are typically built on smaller blocks of land than traditional free-standing homes, which helps improve affordability,” Mr Bare said.
The new Code will only apply in areas where councils have already permitted medium density housing under their Local Environmental Plan.

A three-month deferred commencement period will apply to the Code and Design Guide to allow councils and industry time to prepare for the new changes.
Consultation with the community, councils and industry informed the preparation of the new code and design guide.
For more information on the code and design guide, visit http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/mediumdensityhousing

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