Items filtered by date: Sunday, 10 June 2018

Elections have a lot to answer for in view of the quality of leadership comprising our supposed peak body that we Filipino migrants in Australia have had to live with within the confines of our immediate ethnic Filipino community.
Generally speaking, voters who put them where they are (usually made up of heads/representatives of paying affiliate members) exhibit a gamut of differing attitudinal or behavioural tendencies. More often than not they start feeling blasé and exasperated by democratic shortcomings (ganyan talaga anong magagawa mo), so they either endure, grin and bear it, and let it go (hayaaan mo na lang, sige na lang, pabayaan mo na sila diyan)). Most often than not, many end up becoming lackadaisical, couldn’t care less, or just pliably take things as they are. Some are altogether left in a quandary with nary a query answered so they stay put merely coasting along with long-established mates (nakikipagbarkadahan).
Woe it is to those who give it an honest, good try, with high hopes and the best of intentions only to get invariably burnt out after being awakened by the realities of the operating “barkadahan mentality” (gang system). The big ask at the initial salvo is the classic “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me). No sooner than expected, some end up swearing acrimoniously “Never Again!”
On the other side of the fence, are the die-hards. The luckier ones have used their past PCC presidential posts as a stepping stone into the bigger political arena. There are many however—and I hazard to call them “jaded leaders” who have been worn out or wearied by overwork or overexposure, some dulled and satiated by overindulgence in power play yet remains constantly overzealous and thus overstay as officers whilst priding themselves as movers and shakers of the Filipino community.
The reasons for tarrying too long are one too many. Understandably, they have an axe to grind, personal agendas to fulfil (such as the sweet-talking networkers) or simply have nothing else better to do. Rarely do I like to believe that there are also those who serve with firm resolve to social relevance and purpose.

In all fairness and gratuity to our community leaders past, present and future -- the whole process of running, consequently serving your term, then staying on for perpetuity in community organizations is truly a selfless, thankless, ruthless act of commitment and servitude. Each and every leader has been heard to declare that he/she is doing it for the love of the community.
AMEN....
“It’s for the community” It’s for the love of our own people.” “We dedicate ourselves to the service of our constituents.”
Hallelujah...Praise the Lord!
Elected leaders are wedded to the popular vote as the incontrovertible template – regardless of how unrepresentative the results and unloved the elected leader-politician – the constituent/voting member is captive.
It's a form of electoral fundamentalism, whereby the vote remains the singular most cherished, inalienable right and yet voters tend to barter their votes for long time favours.
Trouble is, people don’t want to introduce change anymore as change tends to disrupt the status quo that to most is better upheld as is, where is.
To me personally, one of the most worrying, annoying even is the seemingly imbued almost systematic practice of “Barkadahan system (“gang mentality”) that is operating in PCC. I’ve been here for nearly two decades and all I see is a panoply of old, familiar faces or old guards (sila at sila rin.)
There is an urgent need for PCC to recognise the breadth and complexity of this issue, noting the serious harms it may cause, because it is crippling, counterproductive. and kills the very principles of equal opportunity and tapping potentially new leaders.

PCC should approach this visible and widely perceived problem of “barkadahan” primarily as a social and public health issue. With this in mind, I recommend they should strive to improve the quality and reach of preventative and early intervention measures, including education initiatives to reduce the incidence of “barkadahan” among officers by redefining Constitutional provisions
already in place. Additionally, appropriately investigate serious complaints and coordinate their investigations across jurisdictions where appropriate (e.g. concrete action/investigation on the letter of Bicolana Demi Robinson).

The general membership must have a clear awareness and understanding of how direct and indirect offences can and make the process clear for victims of “Barkadahan” whose unseen hands manage to menace, harass, intrigue out or cause untold or undefined but deeply felt offences which, in various degrees of disappointment, can actually make or unmake anybody.

Fact is we do not dispute that the PCC officials are clearly mandated by election results. Fine. We will not argue anymore how directly or indirectly, the “barkadahan system” effectively promoted the re-election of overstaying people whose staying power negates possibilities for discovering other gems of potential leaders.

Despite their initial appeal however, officers elected by popular vote create a serious dilemma because they cannot keep on fawning: obsequiousness as they are expected to deliver at all times.

Who was it who said that politics by principle is that which modern politics is not. What we normally observe is politics by interest and since friends of the same feather flock together, they will always share and protect their interests and would rather work comfortably with each other.

In this regard it may do well for PCC to consider applying the concepts of both the Cultural fit and functional fit, two criteria that most human resource departments adapt when evaluating candidates for employment that may verily augur well in the proper selection of future leaders/officers of PCC.
Functional fit is about the candidate’s hard skills -- the candidate’s education, certifications, core competencies and experience.  This type of information, which is usually supplied in the candidate’s resume or curriculum vitae, can be confirmed fairly as soon as aspiring officers make their declarations to run as per Constitutional procedure giving voters time to assess and know their candidates way in advance. 
Cultural fit, on the other hand cover the soft skills and personal goals, is usually assessed during the actual election phase when the candidate “sells” himself/herself. Ideally it would be best for PCC to follow the Presidential campaign style in the Philippines where all the presidentiables are lined-up in a debate and answers open-ended questions from the body like “Can you describe yourself to us and what new reforms or revolutionary changes can you offer for me as a voter and for the organization on the whole? Questions like this help the voters decide whether or not the candidate will thrive within the company's culture fit. 
Merging both their subjective assessment may be augmented with data gathered from the CV plus the old dictum that first impressions count much. If PCC only allows for these things to happen, by all means they would be able to distill the best of the best.
On top of that, if only the so-called overstaying officers would have the noblesse oblige to step back and give others a chance, then all’s well that ends well.
One final word: Politics should always, always, be guided by principle, never by populism or popular vote. The mantra of every leader-politician ought to be TO LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE NOT TO THE DICTATES OF THEIR INTERESTS.
Evelyn Zaragoza’s challenge for PCC officials to be more dynamic and visionary is a tall order indeed. But the idea is fast gaining ground among PCC officers politicians who should know better.
Whilst we keep a watchful eye on their moves, we still offer them our best wishes and heartfelt endorsements. (Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved)

Pahabol! Just as we are about to go to the press, the most awaited response from a certain Violy Escultura (who is she anyway?), the newly elected President of APCO sent a very curt and laconic  reply to our questionnaire for a supposed interview write up on her visions as a leader to which she originally said yes. Whatever changed her mind, is none of our business but she both snubbed the publisher and the Editor none the least the Filipino community with her final answer “I will not dignify your questions with a reply” What a a way to begin ones term. So be it. No further questions asked?
(Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved)

Published in Editorial

 

New laws that would see big tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter liable for harm caused by cyber bullying and violence are urgently needed to ensure social media platforms have a strong financial incentive to stamp out harmful behaviour online, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers will tell a Senate inquiry on cyber bullying.
Maurice Blackburn Principal Josh Bornstein, who will tomorrow appear at the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee inquiry into cyber bullying, said that for too long social media platforms have helped to enable cyberbullying, without ever being held to account for the harm caused, including injury and death.
 
“Politicians should approach the need to make cyberspace safe much in the same way that our current laws require workplaces to be safe - by imposing a duty of care on the big tech companies and by allowing individuals to sue when that duty is breached,” Mr Bornstein said.
 
“Groups like Facebook and Twitter are often quick to distance themselves from instances of cyber bullying, when what they should be doing is taking decisive action to minimise such behaviour on their platforms and in making sure people are protected.
 
“While we welcome comments today from Minister Kelly O’Dwyer warning Facebook and Twitter to lift their standards, governments have typically taken a timid approach to regulation in this area – even criminal acts in cyber space are rarely prosecuted.
 
“Europe is leading the charge on regulating the internet but Australian legislators are lagging behind. New Zealand introduced its own anti cyber-bullying legislation in 2015.
 
“That’s why we believe regulatory responsibility is urgently needed to prompt greater action from social media platforms to act on cyber bullying and violence - if victims had the tools to take on groups like Facebook and Twitter then those companies would be compelled to commit serious resources to clean up their platforms.
 
“We also want to see enforceable sanctions against employers who fail to protect against cyber bullying in workplaces.
 
“In today’s world there is an increasing expectation for staff to be actively engaged with social media for their work, in industries such as the media in particular, yet many employers are not taking steps to protect their staff from the obvious risks that can come with this,” he said.
 

Published in News
Sunday, 10 June 2018 13:40

TAP ON FOR FREE PARKING

 

 
The convenience of the Opal card is now coming to the train station carpark, with public transport customers set to “tap on” for up to 18 hours free parking.
 
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance announced that a successful trial of Opal carparks will soon be extended to Ashfield, before expanding to several other stations across the network.
 
“We want to make it easier for customers to access public transport and this trial aims to ensure that carparks provided by the NSW Government for commuters are used by the people they are intended for,” Ms Berejiklian said.
 
“Research shows up to 46 per cent of people in some areas who use commuter carparks did not intend to catch public transport and this trial has been designed to ensure that it is genuine customers who benefit from these facilities.”
 
Opal Park & Ride will provide customers with up to 18 hours free parking each day if they use public transport. Customers need to complete a journey by tapping on and off using their Opal card, then use their Opal card when they exit the carpark.
 
Customers who do not catch public transport within 18 hours from the time of entry will be charged at a daily rate in line with the commercial rates for the local area. 
 
“The Opal Park & Ride trial started on the Northern Beaches in January at the B-Line commuter carpark in Dee Why. The system will now be installed at the remaining B-Line commuter carparks throughout the year,” Mr Constance said.
 
“Customers at Ashfield Station will be the first train customers to experience the system when it begins around the middle of the year. We are investigating which other train stations could be included in the trial.”
 
Ashfield commuter carpark was upgraded under the NSW Government’s Transport Access Program, an initiative to deliver safe, modern and accessible public transport infrastructure across the state.
 
“The upgrade of this multi-storey carpark means an extra 96 car spaces, and 235 in total, for customers who want to park their car at the station before continuing their journey on public transport,” said Mr Constance said.
 
“It includes a new lift to assist our less mobile customers, as well as the latest CCTV technology and lighting to improve security.”
 
The NSW Government has invested more than $1 billion in the Transport Access Program since 2011, with over 400 projects completed across the state, including the delivery of more than 6,000 commuter car spaces.

Published in Business
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

Published in News
Sunday, 10 June 2018 13:38

THE GIFT CARD THAT KEEPS ON GIVING  

 

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.
 

Published in New South Wales

 

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.
 

Published in New South Wales

 
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

Published in New South Wales

 

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.

Published in News

 

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
 

Published in News

 

The five-yearly Census provides critical data and information to support important Australian decisions by governments, community organisations, businesses and individuals.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is reviewing the information collected in the 2021 Census of Population and Housing to ensure it best meets our nation’s needs and informs Australia’s important decisions.

A public consultation, launched today through the ABS website, seeks input from data users, community groups and organisations on their data needs and the most useful information to collect in the 2021 Census.

Population and Social Statistics General Manager Dr Paul Jelfs said, “It’s important that our nation’s largest statistical collection remains relevant and meets users’ needs”.

“Submissions can be easily made via the ABS consultation hub,” Dr Jelfs said.

The ABS will assess any changes suggested through the submission process based on evidence and demonstrated need. We will seek to minimise the burden on the community by managing the number and complexity of questions asked in the Census.

 “It’s wonderful to see quality 2016 Census data being used widely and this consultation process is about ensuring our 2021 Census data is even more valuable and useful,” Dr Jelfs said.

“The Census adds to the wealth of knowledge from other ABS data collections,” Dr Jelfs said.

The ABS has been undertaking a comprehensive review of the operation of the 2016 Census and has identified areas of improvement for 2021. As we work towards 2021, the ABS will share our approach to how people can participate in the Census, our approach to ensuring privacy and security of information and how we provide the final Census results.

Submissions on 2021 Census topics close on 30 June. Following analysis, the ABS will publish preliminary findings from this consultation process then make recommendations to the Australian Government.

Details on how to participate, including instructions for making your submission and frequently asked questions are available online at http://www.abs.gov.au/census-consult

The Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Content 2021 publication provides detailed information on the topics.

For access to the latest Census data, please visit www.abs.gov.au/census.

Published in News
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