Nutrition Report October 2015

By Val Cocksedge
NCWQ Nutrition Adviser

fruit-vegetables-on-table
The theme for 2015 World Food Day – 16th October is “Social Protection and Agriculture – Breaking the Cycle of rural poverty”. Social protection has been chosen as the theme to highlight its importance in reducing rural poverty and granting access to food or means to buy food.

In Australia, National nutrition Week runs from 11-17 October and is encouraging Australians to “Pick Right” and “Feel Right” by committing to eating 5 serves of vegetables every day for one week. Recent statistics show that nearly 95% of all Australians do not eat the recommended amount of vegetables. The average Australian eats less than half what is recommended (5 serves), yet around one third of what is eaten is “take-away” foods, cakes, sweets and sugary foods.

The Department of Health has announced the release of a new “Eat for Health” resource – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Guide to Healthy Eating. The new Indigenous guide is intended to be used by health professionals and educators throughout Australia for use in a range of Indigenous Community settings and will complement the existing Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Print copies are available in A4 and A1 format at www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines

Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food Mobile Kitchen Courses started 29 October at Q.U.T. Kelvin Grove Campus at a cost of $10-$20 per class. Hands on classes teach simple healthy delicious meals. The basic 5 week cooking course consists of 90 minutes per class per week. For more information visit: www.jamieoliver.com/jamiesministry-of-food-australia

Sports drinks are being blamed for contributing to a “silent epidemic” of tooth erosion in Queensland due to their high sugar levels and acidity. The drinks eroded enamel leading to sensitivity, yellowing teeth, prone to cavities and obesity. Almost 40% of construction workers drink large quantities of energy drinks despite the emerging health risks associated with excessive consumption of caffeine and sugar. These products are now banned from some sites.

The Wold Food Organisation (FAO) recommends we limit our intake of “free” or added sugars to no more than 10% of our total energy intake, in order to reduce our risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay.

74% of all packaged food has sugar added in some form. In Australia, the total amount of sugar is a product is listed in the N.I.P. (Nutrition Information Panel), but it does not differentiate sugars that have been added by the manufacturer from those that are intrinsic in the food (lactose in milk). The higher up the ingredients list, the more sugar the product contains. One of the recommendations from the 2011 Food Labelling Review was that “the term “added sugars” be included in the ingredient list as the general term followed by a bracketed list with further details e.g. added sugars (fructose, glucose, syrup, honey etc.) Added sugars can include 42 different names e.g. “agave nectar, syrup, beet sugar, carob syrup, corn syrup, demerarra, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, molasses, palm sugar, coconut sugar, treacle, rice malt syrup, muscovado, maple syrup, sucrose to name a few.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand is currently providing technical advice to ministers on the 2011 recommendation, to be voted on soon. Do you agree that added sugars should be identified on ingredient lists? If so join the campaign www.choice.good.do/sugar

According to U.S. research high fructose drinks such as fruit juice and fizzy soft drinks do not give the brain signs of fullness. Coca-Cola Amatil last year introduced a smaller 250 ml can. In the face of consumers demanding more healthy choices and decline in profit, Coke Life (a blend of sugar and stevia leaf extract) was introduced this year. (10 teaspoons sugar again against 16 in regular Coke) Sprite (18 teaspoons), V (13 teaspoons).

Drink water instead (water is essential for everyday functioning of the body – digestive system, kidneys, skin, lungs) Tiredness is often a symptom of dehydration.

Recently so called “sugar free” cook books have been released. The recipes use rice malt syrup, molasses, maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar (refer to above list of added sugars)

The foods most available to us are determined by a few multinational companies intent on growth and profit leading to foods offered high in sugar, fat and salt. They determine the portion we eat through their packaging and have convinced us that pleasure comes from eating “junk” food.

Fast food outlets are strategically placed on busy routes, the end of supermarket aisles, service stations, drive-throughs, sporting clubs, newsagencies, vending machines, hospitals, canteens and school fund-raising all offer convenience with readily available food and drink of poor nutritional value – often high in sugar, fat and salt.

A recent review from the Murdock Children’s’ Research Institute found childhood obesity had doubled since the 1980s and now sits at more than 25%. Children are now more technology immersed instead of being active, playing outside, involved in sport, joining in outdoor activities.

A study at Deakin University and ANU found that the part of the brain used for leaning, memory and mental health is smaller in people with poor diets showing that diet is critically important to mental health as sell as physical health.

Chronic Illness is blowing the Health budget – preventable diseases including diabetes, heart and obesity related conditions, mental illness. About 14 million Australians are now overweight or obese – continuing to eat processed, low nutrient food and drink and remaining inactive. Reports show 280 Australians are diagnosed with diabetes every day with 9 in 10, being type 2 diabetes. High blood glucose is the main culprit and can cause damage to the eye, impair kidney function and damage nerves and large blood vessels in the body causing high blood pressure and cardio-vascular disease. The treatment for type 2 diabetes is usually tablets with important life style treatment of healthy diet and regular exercise.

Food Revolution Day – 15 May 2015 was a global campaign to put compulsory practical food education in school curriculum. Worldwide, there are 42 million children under 5 who are overweight or obese with diet related illnesses among the world’s biggest killers. Jamie Oliver passionately believes

that by educating children about food in a fun and engaging way, can equip them with the basic skills they need to lead healthier, happier lives for themselves and their future families. Jamie launched a    petition calling on all G20 countries to make practical food education a compulsory part of every school curriculum. Some positives are being taken –

  • In England – the School Food Plan made cooking lessons and food education compulsory.
  • In Mexico, all schools promote healthy eating through compulsory nutrition education (General Law on Education)
  • Food education has been part of the curriculum in Japan since 2005 and Finland has a long history of Home Economics.

In Australia, the Home Economics Institute of Australia Education Standing Committee has pressed for the inclusion of food and nutrition across the curriculum. Good practical and compulsory food education should be available in every school for every child. Children to-day are the first generation predicted to have shorter lives than their parents.

New “Made in Australia” food labels could be seen on packs as soon as the end of the year. They include – “Made in Australia from 100% Australian ingredients”; “Made in Australia from more than 50% of Australian ingredients”; “Made in Australia from 0% Australian ingredients”; “Grown in Australia”; “Packed in Australia”; “Made in ……………..”; ”Packed in Australia – grown in ………………..”. All labels will be shown with the gold kangaroo in the green triangle at the top, followed by a graph showing the Australian content in gold with description below. Unfortunately, they do not show the origin of non- Australian ingredients which is important when making the decision to support Australian product and producers. There may be concern about the chemicals and pesticides permitted for food production in some countries and the environmental impact of transporting food from distant places.

Supermarkets claim they are committed to local sourcing of their food products. For a full list of products reviewed their country of origin statements as well as where Aldi, Coles, Woolworths source their fresh fruit and vegetable see: www.choice.com.au/supermarketcool

Arts and Letter Report August 2015

By Jennifer Ann DAVIES

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

tea

 

Humans search for Truth and Beauty

In the Arts

In the Ordinary

In Myth and Magick

On Foreign Shores

Within the Self

And in Each Other!!

Jennifer Ann Davies

 

THE NAMING OF TISHKIN SILK – Glenda Millard

A snapshot set in country Australia, written by Glenda MILLARD in “The Naming of TISHKIN SILK” – ! A story of loss, friendship, family and fun!

Main characters, Griffin and his friend, Layla, had made and worn crowns of small, white daisies, which finally began to wilt….even so “…Nell recognised royalty when she saw it and was quick to stand in their presence.

‘Good afternoon, Your Highnesses,’ she said, with a graceful curtsy, ‘may I introduce myself?’…” Nell was Griffin’s gram, but his friend, Layla, stood speechless with surprise at Nell’s appearance!!

“…She wore green rubber dishwashing gloves right up to her elbows, with red fingernails painted on the ends and lots of sparkling bead bracelets over the top of them. On her head was a magnificent, silver tiara decorated with glass rubies, which she had borrowed……..for the occasion. Her long black skirt trailed behind her, showing only the toes of her elastic-sided boots.

‘I am Nell, your Fairy Godmother,’ she said….as she took from her deep pocket a long, slender piece of silver-frosted dowel with a glittering star attached to one end and tapped each of them lightly on the shoulder with it.Then she addressed the crow (family pet) – ‘How splendid you look in your yellow ruffle, Lord Zeus. It flatters your dusky complexion…” p.51 Griffin, of course, has uncommon courage and the heart of a lion!! (Cairns, Australia.)

THE BOOK OF TEA – Tenshin Okakura

“Tea began as medicine and grew into a beverage……Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence….It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.” (Tokyo, Japan.)

SOCRATES NOW – Solo performer: Yannis Simonides

This performance captures the essence of Socratic ethics, in his famous defence when he went on trial for his life! Members of the audience will discover Socrates’ humour, wit, cutting logic and essential ideas on virtue, justice and civic duty!! This solo performance leaves us with the question – “IS Socratic thought and action applied in our world today?” (Athens, Greece.)

GLOBAL WRITERS – FLUID IDENTITIES – International New York Times

“…Many people often seek to categorize authors by language or nationality, yet many writers seek citizenship only in the republic of letters…” Elaboration International New York Times, June 20-21 2015 p.1 and via the Academie Francaise (France).

NEW TRADITIONS POSSIBLE – TRADITIONS INEVITABLY INFLUENCE ARTS/LETTERS

A strong following for Kristian Thulesen Dahl, leader of the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party – (London, UK and Copenhagen, Denmark.)

ART IN ARCHITECTURE

Stone houses designed by Venetian and Genoese architects are still well preserved and beautiful on the Greek Island of HYDRA! – Some claim that they can still feel the aura of the grand musician, Leonard Cohen in the fishing village of Kamini, where he apparently lived for some time!! (Hydra, Greek Islands.)

PRESERVED ART

Major art works and artefacts preserved in an almost-secret spot!! – We say and write Nauplia, in language English – In Greek, this beautiful seaside village is NAFPLION! – after many trudging the Acropolis and hearing the new Acropolis Museum promoted, I was wonderfully surprised to learn that Nafplion has, in fact, a stunning archaeological museum, said to be the ‘second best’!! –

It is impossible, however, to miss the beautiful preserved works anywhere in Greece or the Greek Islands! – Walking through the dust and dirt of many sites, the mixture of olive trees and eucalypt was curious….apparently there is an excellent symbiosis between these species and they excel, in this relationship, in the hot, dry places of the ancient greek gods!! – The olive tree is as intelligent as mangroves, I must add, for it turns the very deep green side of its leaves to the sun when in need and then turns the silver side, which acts as a deflector, when the sun’s rays and heat intensify! This is particularly evident in the hinterland of Epidavros, where there are the ‘healing; waters near the sanctuary of Asklepios – the most brilliant centre of healing in the ancient world – arching back to the prehistoric period. (Nafplion, Sparta, Epidavros, Greece.)

AND CERVANTES?

Beauty, art, dust, olives, eucalypt – past Delfi, where Zeus is said to have sent out two eagles to discover ‘the naval of Gaia’ – called by some the Mother – more often recorded, in myths and legends of Zeus, as his Grandmother!! – The two eagles flew over Delfi (Delphi) and where their flight paths crossed over was declared ‘the naval of Gaia’ – THE NAVAL OF THE WORLD – travelling here I learn of some of the alleged influences on the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci – and little surprised the visitor until Cervantes appeared – on the foreshore of a tiny beach, in a tiny village, driving north through Lamia and onto Trikala in Thessaly, longing, by then, for Kalakbaka….

One guesses that this statue was created after the gentleman’s flight from Spain, for all tales are of him still attired in Spanish clothing, having been proudly injured, and there he stands, near a rather large gun battlement, right on the sea wall where the village fishermen clean out their bait nets!! Cervantes “Journey to Parnasses” ( Delfi, Lamia, Trikala, Kalakbaka, Greece.)

ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS IN GERMANY…

I was lucky enough to stay in an area green with forests in Berlin, where the people of Reinickendorf still like to show you the oldest tree – Dickie Marie – an oak of 26 metres with a circumference of 6.65 metres and a diameter of more than 2 metres – claimed to date back to 1192!! – and then one may be directed to the oldest existing inn in Berlin, ALTER FRITZ, 1410: Goethe rested there in 1778…..The housing estates in this western area began as “free clods”, estimated establishment 1895, and these were intended to give workers real estate property and a house, with one famous person who promoted this idea, being the brother of their pioneer of aviation, Gustav Lilienthal….the aviator was Otto……most of their baroque-style, former residences of well-known people and families now belong to the Academy of the Foreign Office, though beautiful little, old cottages, akin to those in Finland, are still preserved in Hermsdorf – a note on some of the tourist brochures – “Natural beauty noted since 1349 and area protected…”

Then…the French Embassy, the E.U. Parliament and a huge bookstore, DUSSMAN, which had part of one of its six floors of books providing English speakers and readers with English translations. I will provide comments on the content of these in a further report, as this is quite lengthened with my little travel-log!! – (Berlin, Germany.)

THE EINSTEIN GIRL – Philip Sington – Vintage, London, 2010

DEMIEN – Hermann Hesse – Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, N.Y. 2000

AUGUST – Christa Wolf – Seagull Books, 2014. This publication was supported by a grant from the Goethe-Institut India*

Change and Writing: Arts and Letters Report July 2015

By Jennifer Ann DAVIES

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

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Change! …perhaps it is, after all, the only ‘constant’ that IS, in an obviously ‘ever-changing’ world! One contemplates, however, the nature of such ‘change’ and the imprint such ‘change’ may leave on the indelibility of human history! One hopes, thusly, for constructive ‘change’ – and prays to leave the destructive to oblivion! Jennifer Ann Davies: Book Six: ‘R’ is for Reverence’ (in progress).

Bittersweet, funny, cynical, at times shocking! Tender, trusting, willing….. – “An all-woman cast whose tales of male betrayal, sexual shenanigans and Machiavellian mayhem sparkle with empathy and insight…” Daily Mail

As I waited for my French class at University recently, I spotted two novels on the library shelves, written by Fay WELDON! Delighted, I brought both home with me and was as captivated and impressed as ever, though I had not read this wonderful author for some time. “The Spa Decameron” is, indeed, vintage Weldon – intimate, gossipy and irreverent – You will laugh out aloud and look for more! This entertaining novel is truly “…effortlessly fluid…immensely entertaining…” The Times – yet it is not without the incisive insightfulness, political literacy and bold honesty for which one reveres this Woman Author!

Fay Weldon was born in England and raised in New Zealand; educated in Economics and Psychology in Scotland and is a well-known novelist, screenwriter and cultural journalist. This latter term is not one we conventionally use in Australia, yet is an interesting role, is it not? Because Weldon boldly and bravely writes on issues relevant to us today, which have been strongly influenced by the ideas, decisions and changes of yesterday, she should be alive and well in all our bookshelves, I believe!

The second book I read, is a collection of Essays. “Godless in Eden” clearly articulates the ‘great sea change’ in how we see ourselves! Short essays are written about millions of people who, in fact, are in profound culture shock, after the second ‘wave’ of feminism, which determined how we live now – some not even realising how we lived THEN!!!!

The essays are short….succinct…..searing……

There is no flippancy!! – some of the writing, however, is heavy with irony…..

“Crime, drugs, the break-up of the family, the abandonment of children, the loneliness of the individual, the alienation of the young, the pause button so often on the sadistic act of violence on the TV; are all features of today’s ‘peaceful caring society’…..and perhaps they are inevitable. Jung would talk about a process called enantiodromia, when all the currents of belief that have been running one way suddenly turn and run the other…” p12/2000 ed.

Of particular interest, in a relational context with CHANGE, is an essay: ‘The Feminisation of Politics’, in which looms the fact that, back in the seventies, feminists argues that the personal should become political! ….and so it did!

It is not difficult to see that as time and that process rolled on, the political, in its turn (enantiodromia), became personal!

Even political representatives, elected and otherwise, used this change to present themselves as ‘female’, using the language of compassion, forgiveness, apology, understanding and nurturing – qualities conventionally attributed to women!!

Somehow, then, what had conventionally been seen as the old male values – gravitas, responsibility, self-discipline, the Protestant work-ethic, stiff upper-lippedness and the appeal to reason and intellect, vanished in the sudden wind of gender change!……new ideas….new language….society was changed forever …and was fraught with Asian flu – economic confusion – the infectious mechanics of cultural change, and converging dynamics of religion, politics and feminism…..

Weldon concludes this small book of socio-cultural essays with a short essay: “Letter to an Unborn Grandchild” – provoked by a fax – an ultrasonic scan of an unborn grandchild in the womb…..Weldon’s son’s unborn child…..

“Wherever you look in your family history you will find the demimonde: musicians, painters, sculptors, writers, poets, film-makers….politicians. There is without a doubt a restless tendency in the family, especially in the women. My grandmother, born in 1878, would tell me of her grandmother, Mary Frances, born in 1841, a sculptress, who left her husband and earned her living writing poems……p.262.

Between us we have made a world for you in which it is more difficult for men to be villainous that it used to be. Alas, you are (also) expected to earn your own living……..Today’s child is superbly confident….

I do not want you to be a feminist, if by feminist is meant a woman who derides and despises men, in the same way as it was once customary for men to deride and despise women. I want you to be a feminist in the sense that you see yourself as a person first and of a certain gender second; I want you to live in a world in which this is possible. I want you to have children and make me a great grandmother, no matter how much I know rationally that these days, in the professional classes, it’s sheer folly for a girl to have babies. I am glad your mother had sense enough to disregard all sensible advice, so now you lie sucking your thumb………declaring your unborn presence amongst us!

….whilst many saw women as the salvage team of the universe, I hope you will leave the world a better place….but don’t be too earnest about it! I hope you will be able to make others laugh: and that the rooms light up when you come into them…..that you solve the Great Universal Mystery and the Great Universal Paradox – excel in Economics and Science and love the bright, dangerous life of the world! May you grow up to create the fine, new, exultant Garden of Eden of our dreams. I’ll swear we’re nearly there.”

I have, cheekily, taken some liberties in the segments I have written into this report – and it is much longer than my usual ‘quotes’ – however, I have found this Woman Writer’s cultural insights some of the most honest, deeply investigated and positively articulated, so one can believe in the simple value of Weldon’s words and their genuine relevance to our society of today!

AUTHORS WRITING ABOUT WOMEN!

…and while women may be looking to solve the Great Universal Mystery and the Great Universal Paradox, one notes male authors who are positioning Women as strong, brave, colourful major characters – in fiction – transmitting ‘universal’ facts and dressing characters in robes of fictional fabric ! – !

Whilst thematically, some such novels and texts are timeworn, they are, again, of genuine relevance to our society of today!

“…When we cannot farm or fish or drink our water – THAT is genocide. When more (people) are dying than are born, and those who survive infancy can find no work – THAT is genocide. When we are riddled with diseases but have no electricity for hospitals – THAT is genocide.

…That is what oil has done….   The same oil that runs the factories, heats the homes, and fills the gas tanks of…..(Australians) ..Americans, Europeans and our new exploiters, the Chinese…..

…oil blackens everything it touches. It fouls the hands of the ruling class that misappropriates its profits. It stains the ambitions of the young, who in their desperation will pick up a gun, sabotage a pipeline, kidnap a foreigner to grab a pitiful share of the riches. It elevates the powerful and drowns the weak…..and it degrades the characters of people, unleashing greed, envy, dishonesty, and corruption…”

AND SO, THE AMERICAN CRIME WRITER, Richard North PATTERSON introduces, early in his novel ‘ECLIPSE’, brave, energetic, beautiful Woman, who is bold enough to tell her story, in writing….

Patterson does two interesting things in this Macmillan-published novel – 1. He celebrates Woman as a stunningly interesting main character – 2. He celebrates Woman as a stunningly interesting WRITER!! ……an unusual blend….… “he was here for the writing….he listened to her story as closely as she.p.26

Its surface was nearly flawless. She wrote with a jeweller’s eye – each word precisely chosen, each sentence polished, their rhythms varied to add energy and avoid the soporific effect of sentence upon sentence with too many clauses and commas……..the story was….deeply personal and yet oddly abstract.” An interesting read. More on the Arts post Europe!

Higher Education and the 2015 Federal Budget

By Helen McAllister

NCWQ Education Adviser

Higher education and the federal budget have not led to any resolution in the fees debate. In Queensland, the role of the government continues to support the transition of Year 7 to the secondary education sphere.

I have included articles relevant to different areas of education. The first gives direction to the early childhood education and the NQF. In addressing this issue, further input can be found from Early Childhood Australia (ECA) which also contributes to what is necessary in adapting to this moving and living framework. ACE is also holding a webinar to find innovative ways to support children’s rights in early learning settings and provide the chance to share creative ideas and discussion.

In 2015 the National Children’s Commissioner and Early Childhood Australia launched the ‘Supporting Young Children’s Rights: Statement of Intent’. The document relates to the early childhood sector, day-to-day practice, the NQF and the UNCRC. It outlines key mechanisms for participants to provide ideas and examples of child rights in action.

The second article is about literacy and changes. With the school age commencement now for Prep, those children lagging behind in reading or literacy are hard pressed to keep up with what is being taught and expected of them when entering Years 1and 2. This interesting article points to the change in mindset from reading to literacy, encompassing much wider skills and knowledge, providing a wider scope for learning and involvement, particularly with children who have English as a second language or those experiencing delay or difficulties. It also gives us a glimpse into the management of rebranding and business uptake and stakeholder engagement. I hope they might be interesting lead-ins to further research if needed. Articles are accessible from the websites of ECA, ACECQA, and Wiley.

Warm regards- Helen McAllister (Education Advisor).

National Quality Framework -ACECQA Newsletter Issue 5 2015

The National Quality Framework raises quality and drives continuous improvement and consistency in Australian education and care services. Established in 2012, the NQF applies to most long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten and outside schools hours care services.

Introducing the National Quality FrameworkThe National Quality Standard; National Law and Regulations; Assessment and ratings.

Educators and Providers-As an educator or service provider, you will find this section contains detailed information on the National Quality Framework, its implementation and how it applies to you.

Families- Our Families section outlines how quality education and care is vital to your child’s development and explains what the National Quality Framework means for you.
It provides practical information so you know what to look for, what questions to ask and where to find answers.

Learn moreStarting Blocks; What’s Changed; The National Quality Standard; The NQF and ACECQA

Useful links for FamiliesNational Registers; Families Library; Translated resources; NQF video resources; Families FAQs

Regulatory Authorities-A regulatory authority in each state and territory regulates and assesses children’s education and care services. In this section regulatory authority staff will find information and resources to support their work.

The latest figures in the NQF Snapshot Q1 2015 show that the proportion of children’s education and care services to receive a quality rating has increased to 56 per cent, with 8287 services now rated.

The report contains information about the number of services rated as Exceeding or Meeting NQS as well as the number of services rated Working towards NQS. Highlights include:

14 827 children’s education and care services operate under the NQF across Australia; 34 per cent of services are rated as Working Towards NQ;66 per cent of services are rated as Exceeding or Meeting NQS; 33 services are rated Excellent by ACECQA.

Download the NQF Snapshot Q1 2015. Copyright  http://www.acecqa.gov.au

NCWQ Education May 2015

Focus on Australia’s Foreign Aid

By Georgina Pickers

NCWQ International Relations and Peace Adviser

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In February Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop declared that stronger Foreign Aid accountability will focus on mutually accountable outcomes, fraud control and anti-corruption strategies. A target of 80% of the programs will address gender equality issues and strengthened gender assessment criteria.

TAFE Queensland will host 10 women leaders from PNG’s Department of Higher Education as part of the 2015 Australia Awards Fellowships program. As part of the New Colombo Plan, 1400 Fellows from 67 countries to undertake short term study, research and professional development.

This year the Fellowships have been awarded to 742 females and 699 males, 86 per cent of whom are from Asia, the Pacific or Papua New Guinea.

Julie Bishop became the first Australian Minister to visit Iran in 12 years. The meeting with counter-part Foreign Minister Zarif attracted wide media attention as well as being noticed by the United States, who’s relations with Iran are still frosty over Iran’s nuclear development program.

The growing and real threat to International peace and security is developing in cyberspace. Serious risks from attacks have been identified by security experts who’ve called on the Australian government to convene an enquiry into cyber issues, involving government, business and the community.

Australia has provided $15 million in assistance to Vanuatu following the recent devastating cyclone “Pam”. The funds were used towards schools repairs, replacing learning materials, repair of health infrastructure, pharmaceutical supplies, cold-storage for medicines, food aid and the restoration of local food sources.

$100,000 in emergency supplies comprising shelter materials, tools, hygiene kits as well as two Pacific patrol boats were provided by Australia to the Federated States of Micronesia following the extensive damage caused by Typhoon Maysako.

Some 15,000 Australians attended overseas events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC Day landings at Gallipoli, at services in Turkey, France, Belgium, Malaysia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea.  Importantly honouring the sacrifices of all servicemen and women, the observance; a uniquely Australian NZ event, ironically reinforces a ‘peace message’ that will never fade.

The recently elected Queensland government has vetoed the Abbott Point coal port expansion and port dredging in Cairns due to potential impact that dumping of spoils will impact on inner reefs within the Great Barrier Reef marine park area. The decision, while applauded by environmental groups locally and internationally will reduce any financial flow-on benefit to regional communities.

NCWQ’s communication officer, Steph Carter who works with management aid contractor GRM International, returned recently after a 6 month period working in South Africa. Her role there was as Senior Project Officer (Scholarships) on the ‘Australia Awards in Africa’ aid program funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). This aid project supports African awardees and alumni with reintegration and planning to positively impact their country after returning home. This work funded by DFAT, promotes Australian-African partnerships as well as delivering in a real sense, good International relations. More Information is available at: www.australiaawardsafrica.org

 

Consumers and the Food Industry

By Val Cocksedge

NCWQ Consumer Affairs Adviser

palm-oil-fruit

Clearing land for palm oil plantations has resulted in mass de-afforestation, particularly in Malaysia and Indonesia, where more than 80% of the world’s palm oil is produced. This has destroyed habitat of animals (orang-utans, tigers, rhinos and elephants) pushing them in some cases to the brink of extinction. Indigenous people are being displaced, depriving them of their livelihood, culture and way of life. It has also resulted in large volumes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Favoured by the food industry because of its relative low cost, versatility and function, palm oil is in about half of all packaged items in the supermarkets and according to W.W.F. accounting for 65% of all vegetable oil traded internationally. Palm oil is popular with food manufacturers because it maintains its properties under high temperatures – it is stable over long periods of time extending the self-life of foods. Its smooth creamy texture and neutral taste and smell make it a great ingredient for many recipes from margarine and chocolate spreads to baked goods such as biscuits. It is relatively cheap being the highest yielding vegetable oil crop and requiring less land than other crops to produce the same amount of oil. It is also used in personal care items such as lipstick and shampoo.

Choice is calling for mandatory labelling of palm oil. This would help consumers make informed decisions and give companies incentives to source sustainable palm oil and those who already using sustainable to promote this. FRANZ is reviewing the Blewett Review’s recommendation for palm oil labelling. If this issue is important to you take action at: www.choice.good.do/palmoil

 The Australian Dietary Guidelines identifies palm oil as one of the saturated heavy fats we should replace with predominantly polyunsaturated and mono-saturated fats.

Health professionals have flagged concerns about the effects of “fasting” on medication management as fasting diets become popular for losing weight, “detoxing” and for other perceived health benefits. Concerns cover altered absorption and increased gastrointestinal problems from taking medication on empty stomachs.

Choice has called for the financial regulator to be given more resources to monitor industries proven to be dangerous to consumers e.g. the financial planning industry.

Palcohol, a solid alcohol product that contains more than one and a half standard drinks per packet is due to reach Australian shores by June or July this year. Federal authorities are unable to ban the powdered alcohol with loopholes in the law blocking both the Australian government and the Therapeutic Goods Administration from acting, but the states have the power to regulate it. The Victorian government hopes, other states will join with them in preventing its introduction.

Comparing clothing sizes between different brands could be a thing of the past should retailers and consumers embrace a new sizing tool – the world’s first fully automated 3D mapping tool. This was launched in April throughout seven Westfield Centres. It is envisaged every Westfield will have access to the 3D body imaging within twelve months. The ‘m Pods’ use non-invasive safe infrared technology to track more than 200,000 points in the body to determine a correct sizing of the individual. The company behind mPort wants to reduce the rate of online returns and frustration over size variations between retail stores.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report has linked a chemical in household weed killer, Roundup with Cancer. WHO’s report concluded that glyphosate, a chemical found in a range of common herbicides is “probably carcinogenic to humans”. Glyphosate has been detected in blood and urine of agricultural workers. Monsanto, the company behind Roundup has disputed the evidence.

Consumers are being warned against giving personal information to people claiming to represent the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The Governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens has announced that the next generation of Australian banknotes will include a “tactile” feature to assist people with vision impairment.

Glue, gel pads and even a fat-free ingredient for baking are being tested to make the most of the increased blue jelly fish plague. The bladders are being trialled by researchers as an adhesive to paint and as fertiliser, fisherman are harvesting them for export to Asia.

An ABC program – 4 Corners – uncovered a disturbing trend of “slave labour” and exploitation of workers on 417 working holiday visas. Properties in Queensland and South Australia were at the centre of the investigation. Migrants were used and paid below legal wage and working extremely long hours – 22 hours shifts, processing chickens, packaging tomatoes and salad vegetables. These were supplied to Woolworths, Coles, IGA, Aldi, Costco and fast food chains FKC, Red Rooster and Subway.

Food Standards Australia figures show an average of 59 products are recalled each year and two-thirds of them are produced within Australia. Meats and poultry prosed the biggest risk of listeria – particularly dangerous for pregnant women and elderly people. Raw egg-based dishes caused salmonella at several catering functions. Frozen berries were linked to this year’s highest outbreak when people contracted hepatitis A. These berries were partly processed overseas. The real source of origin of imported frozen foods is not always clear, with many travelling between countries for processing – this was dealt with in more detail in my February report.

ACCC advises that food grown or sourced in Australia bear the “grown in” or “product of Australia”. Products with “Made in Australia” may contain ingredients from other countries.

The ACCC has published a message to consumers about “Door-to-Door Energy Sales”. The Australian Consumer Law protects your rights as a consumer when Door-to Door salesperson come to your home. Origin Energy Electricity Ltd and Sales Force Australia Pty Ltd. have been ordered to publish an article listing what a salesperson must disclose and what they must not do, following court action by ACCC. For more information visit: www.accc.gov.au

 Named by Time Magazine as one the world’s 25 best Inventions for 2014, research by Distinguished Professor James Dale showing bio-fortification of bananas to improve the health of East Africans. Each year some 700,000 children worldwide die from pro-vitamin A deficiency.

Adviser Report Consumer Affairs May 2015

Environmental Updates May 2015

By Pat Pepper

NCWQ Environmental Adviser

GBR

Update on Great Barrier Reef (GBR): The recently released Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan which was developed involving government, key industry organisations, traditional owners, environment groups, researchers and the community fulfils the World Heritage Committee’s recommendation that Australia develop a long-term plan for sustainable development to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of the Reef. Ambitious targets and actions across seven key areas are outlined —biodiversity, ecosystem health, water quality, heritage, community benefits, economic benefits and governance. Based on a 2009 baseline, these include

  • Improving water quality by reducing dissolved inorganic nitrogen loads in priority areas by at least 50% by 2018, on the way to achieving an 80% reduction in nitrogen by 2025,
  • Reducing pesticide loads by at least 60% in priority areas by 2018,
  • A net improvement in the condition of natural wetlands and riparian vegetation by 2020,
  • Populations of Australian dolphins, dugongs and turtle either stable or increasing by 2020 and
  • Further protect the Fitzroy Delta including North Curtis Island and Keppel Bay.

Considerable progress has been made e.g. a 16% reduction since 2009 in dissolved inorganic nitrogen, the key pollutant linked to crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks. A new single injection control method has significantly increased the efficiency of control programs for crown-of-thorns starfish when previously 10 to 25 injections were needed. The Australian Government (AG) has banned capital dredge disposal in 345,000 square kilometres of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP), the 99% of the GBR under the AG control. Maintenance dredging carried out on previously dredged channels for safety e.g. to avoid the possibility of a ship strike is not covered by the ban. The Queensland Government (QG) which controls the remaining 1% (3000 square kilometres covering the ports area) has given a commitment to restrict capital dredging for the development of new or expansion of existing port facilities to within the regulated port limits of Gladstone, Hay Point/Mackay, Abbot Point and Townsville, and prohibit the sea-based disposal of dredge material from these sites in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. In relation to maintenance dredging, the QG will examine “opportunities for beneficial reuse of dredge material or on-land disposal where it is environmentally safe to do so. Projected investment in the coming decade for research and management activities on the Reef and in the adjoining catchments along the coast is expected to be over $A2 billion. http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/d98b3e53-146b-4b9c-a84a-2a22454b9a83/files/reef-2050-long-term-sustainability-plan.pdf. Highlights of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, Commonwealth of Australia 2015.pdf . The decision to exclude maintenance dredge spoil has been criticised as it could still be disposed of within the marine park and compromise the effectiveness of the ban. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-04/fact-check-great-barrier-reef/6333178Updated Mon at 11:37amMon 4 May 2015

The QG has established an Office of the Great Barrier Reef within the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to implement the QG’s reef management strategies and programs and a new high-level Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce to advise the QG on how to achieve its ambitious reef water quality improvement targets http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2015/5/7/chief-scientist-leads-new-taskforce-to-help-save-great-barrier-reef

Using data from underwater surveys carried out from 1983-2012, on reefs spread across approximately 150,000 km2 (> 40% of the GBRMP) scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies have demonstrated the density, mean length, and biomass of principal fishery species, coral trout, to be consistently greater in no-take marine reserves (NTMRs) than on fished reefs over both the short and medium term (5 to 30 years). For reefs affected by Hamish, the severe tropical cyclone which struck in 2009, coral trout biomass has declined only on the fished reefs. There were no clear or consistent differences in the structure of fish or benthic assemblages, non-target fish density, fish species richness, or coral cover between NTMR and fished reefs. There was no indication that the displacement and concentration of fishing effort reduced coral trout populations on fished reefs. Emslie et al., Expectations and Outcomes of Reserve Network Performance following Re-zoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Current Biology (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.01.073

Update on threats to groundwater resources of the Galilee Basin: Presently before the Courts is the objection to the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO Qld) on behalf of their client, Land Services of Coast and Country. Not only will the Carmichael coal mine impact on the groundwater resources that are the life blood of surrounding farmers but also the threatened ecological community at Doongmabulla Springs and threatened species including one of only two nationally important populations of the endangered Black-throated Finch. http://www.edoqld.org.au/court-cases/

UUpdate on coal seam gas (CSG): Fugitive emissions and impacts on water from coal seam gas mining are still very much a concern. https://theconversation.com/science-and-coal-seam-gas-a-case-of-the-tortoise-and-the-hare-35100 Sedimentary basins which underlie half of Australia provide 90% of Australia’s primary energy through fossil fuels, sustain most of our agriculture and rural populations with water, and support a large fraction of Australia’s endangered riverine and rangeland ecosystems. Increasingly, sedimentary basins are being explored for new resources and services, such as CSG and shale gas, CO2 storage and geothermal energy. At the same time dependence on groundwater is increasing. http://theconversation.com/coal-seam-gas-is-just-the-latest-round-in-an-underground-war-35164. The University of Melbourne’s Sedimentary Basin Management Initiative aims to establish baseline data and contextual information for model-data analysis, impact and risk assessment and provide independent advice. http://www.energy.unimelb.edu.au/node/605. As repeatedly noted in previous NCWQ Environment reports research on how these sedimentary basins work and how extractive processes such as CSG affect water resources is urgently needed

Update on renewable energy development in Queensland: The QG has approved a wind farm at Mt Emerald on the Atherton Tablelands. The farm has a capacity to generate 225 megawatts (MW) of electricity, or 500,000MW hours of renewable energy each year, with the potential to power around 75,000 homes for over 20 years. Strict conditions, including daytime and night time noise limits, and being located at least 1.5km from any existing dwelling apply. http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2015/4/24/wind-farm-to-contribute-to-fnq-energy-

 NCWQ Environment Adviser May2015

Women, Science and Nature: Arts and Letters Report April 2015

By Jennifer Ann DAVIES

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

Czech - Poloand mountains called Beskydy

…No writer can reproduce the actual TEXTURE of living life…

E.L. Doctorow 

…Many, however, continue to weave informative, connecting threads…

 

WOMEN…SCIENCE…NATURE!

Scientists, Researchers and Writers are enhancing widespread knowledge of, and responses to, a range of interesting environmental issues, via printed and digitised media.

Madagascar! Habitat destruction and fragmentation caused by illegal slash-and-burn farming, logging of rosewood and ebony trees and mining, are major threats to Lemurs, as is bush-meat hunting by impoverished local people…..p.12 Wellbeing: Issue 12. www.wellbeing.com.au

Birds Benefit Beans? Recent studies show that “…trees planted in between coffee crops can support wild birds…”

Shade means less coffee is produced, but also, less is lost to pests, like the coffee-borer, which is eaten by the birds! – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Amboseli National Park – Kenya! Elephants can determine ethnicity, gender and age of human voices!! – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

VISUAL ARTIST: Tess GOULD – tesskerin@hotmail.com

ART FOR ART’S SAKE…….The inspiration for ‘Morning Bliss’ came from a morning drive around Montville, on the Sunshine Coast.

Winter – peaceful – beautiful –

“…As with a lot of artists, art came later in my life. I am moved when I discover a place and see its beauty – I desire to share the magic of the moment…” Tess Gould: p.22:Wellbeing:Issue 151)

 

…and a return to LETTERS! 

Jackie FRENCH!!

 

“…In the mists of sleep-deprived young motherhood, I found a copy of ‘Wellbeing’, read it and thought: ‘Would they like an article?’

I was broke, a single mother living with a baby in a shed in the bush, cooking locally…..

No fairy waving her wand….”!!!

Today one can read – Jackie FRENCH – Columnist 20 years!!!

….joining – Kerry Boyne, Sub-editor and Managing Editor – 2000 to present

 

“Writing is perhaps

the greatest of human

inventions, binding together

people, citizens of distant

epochs, who never knew

one another…..proof

that humans can work

magic…”

 

Donna Duggan, Receptionist, Editorial Co-ordinator and Production Editor 1992 – 2005

Liani Solari, Sub-Editor – Editor 1999 – 2006

Chelsea Hunter, Co-Editor – 2006-2012 …delightfully, Chelsea’s own philosophy has been to encourage readers to be in the present moment…and in so doing, find what brings them contentment and peace!

Danielle Kirk – Deputy Editor – 2012 to present…promoting a sustainable, holistic, natural way of life as being desirable and achievable!

Christine Broadbent – Columnist – 1985 to present

Karin Cutter – Columnist – 1985 to present

Jackie French – Columnist – (putting her into the list contextually!) – “…there was never a sudden change, no fairy waving her want…”!!

Dr. Michael Elstein – Columnist – 1998 to present

Carla Oates – Columnist – 2002 to present – “…the magazine continues to be highly regarded for its integrity. Its culture reflects what it espouses…”

 

I had found this publication interesting for a number of reasons – but, perhaps, particularly so, in light of recent budget cuts in arts and letters – public critique of Oz publications vs. those obtainable from overseas and in light of some of the socio-economic and socio-political concerns expressed by our National Adviser, Eva…….

Whilst not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, Wellbeing has survived!

To have done so, the group of people working to produce this magazine, had to have both generated and followed GOOD LEADERS!!

Some insights produced by Australia’s Peter Cosgrove in 2013, have been used recently, to endeavour to promote GOOD LEADERSHIP – critical in every work arena, and also contested via media, because of bullying, harassment acceleration, dishonesty and an absence of integrity in some institutions and workplaces – with a particular emphasis for schools!!

Like Grisanti’s tender yet stark message: “…Life IS infinitely precious..” calling to us to become authentically politically literate, thereby rejecting soppy, dishonest nonsense, that still poses as contemporary political ‘intelligence’ – Cosgrove also states the case for GOOD leadership, in concise, non-sentimental, stark terms and language, that is unmistakable in its message – and warning…….

 

Gen. Peter Cosgrove AC: Cairns 2013 (original address) – ACPPA website or www.acppa.catholic.edu.au

 

Leaders ‘lead upwards’! – They create, shape, direct, and inspire sensible decisions….

Whether or not a group (or team) is statutory, institutional, industrial, social or traditional….a CHIEF leads the group members…

A leader provides MOTIVATION! However, the first thing a good leader looks for is INTEGRITY! – Integrity, Honesty, Trustworthiness…

Lack of these traits, broadly called MORALITY, can be unapparent, or disguised, but the disguise will ultimately reveal itself and display a particular leader’s Dishonesty and/or Immorality!

HUMANITY and DECENCY have an intricate relationship with Morality, and engender a “…deep seated moral courage…”, which is the foundation to any other form of bravery or fortitude!!

COMPASSION is a must!! “…You have to feel every ounce of loss and grieve for every moment of suffering that your decisions bring….Show me a dispassionate, uncaring leader, and I’ll show you somebody who won’t be a leader for long, because the confidence of group members….of subordinates and superiors…will NOT endure…”

HUMILITY is the final essential ingredient. Humility is not the enemy of self-confidence or self-assurance!

Responsible, communicative LEADERS generate loyalty, essential in any group or organisation! Loyalty, though, is not intrinsic in the leader or the led – it is relational, and cannot exist in isolation……..

 

Onward we travel

Hoping to reveal the patterns

That underlie appearances

Removing the blindspot

That covers the centre

Of insight and recognition….

 

A Woman’s Worth: Arts and Letters Report March 2015

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

Womens-Rights-Equal-Human-Rights-650x431

La sagasse vaut mieux que le genie, l’estime que l’admiration, et les douceurs du sentiment que le bruit de la renommee……Jean le Rond d’Alembert

Wisdom is better than genius, esteem better than admiration, and the sweetness of feeling, better than the noise of fame!

‘A WOMAN’S WORTH’

Marianne WILLIAMSON – Random House, London, 1994

“She puts the responsibility and direction of women’s lives right where it belongs – in our own hands and hearts….” The New York Times

“The eternal feminine draws us upward..” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“…Womanhood is being recast, and we’re pregnant, enmasse, giving birth to our own redemption…” p.5

“…Truth is radical – and birth and art and real love and death – this radicalism changes things. It represents a shift in core beliefs, a belly-up of dominant paradigms…” p.11

“…feminine principles of nonviolence and surrender and the values of intuition, nurturing, and healing…..have been pushed aside, so that the world forgot the power of a tender touch….” P.16

Williamson allows the reader to piece together the jig-saw of one’s inner and outer self, recognising the presence and absence of specific social mores – This warm, challenging, world acknowledged and passionate Woman Writer, includes a huge variety of ‘others’ –

This always indicates a wonderful open-ness –

An invitation to ALL Women –

A symbiosis of ferocity and gentleness –

A Grand Woman-Heart…… –

I found god in myself

And I loved her

I loved her fiercely. Ntozake SHANGE

 

Reinforcing some of the ideas and ideals in this inspiring book – “In youth we learn, in age we understand.” Marie VON EBNER ESCHENBACH.

Because this publication has a resemblance to a puzzle, I have posited small parts of that ‘puzzle’ for you to sample!

“Women are still in emotional bondage as long as we need to worry that we might have to make a choice between being heard and being loved.” p.69

“Women are not powerless. We just pretend we are…” p.73

“Be not ashamed, Woman

You are the gates of the body

And you are the gates of the soul. Walt WHITMAN

Woven into the puzzle, is a review of our jobs, as mothers!! This may meet with mixed feelings and responses – nevertheless – it is worth reading and reviewing. “The idea that a woman is somehow doing more with her life if she has a job out in the world is insane…..” p.107

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A NONWORKING MOTHER!! ….p.107

A mother is not a person to lean on,

but a person to make leaning unnecessary.

Dorothy CANFIELD FISHER

IF we allow and facilitate Change, then – “…children will grow up to know that neither money nor fame nor prestige nor power is nearly as important as a life lived for noble purpose.” p.117

There is no greater nobility than to live with compassion for all living things!

“One is not born, but rather

becomes, a Woman…”

Simone DE BEAUVOIR

SO! – perhaps as we are all Women, here, to tell the Truth, to raise the spiritual rafters, to blow the roof off the paradigm that has ruled and oppressed us for a few thousand years, we will also note, and become comfortable with the difference between obsession and passion – we may, perhaps, note that forces that are sometimes seen as violent or turbulent, are not, truly, in CONTRAST with our ‘real’ selves, or with our ‘brilliance’ – but are deeply felt, totally natural effects of passionately lived lives!

Continuing the ‘weave’ of things, a curious and interesting novel by Australia’s own Kate FITZPATRICK : is“Airmail: Three Women: Letters from Five Continents”

John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd., Milton 4064, 2005

This is one of those books that simply ‘slid’ out of a book-shelf – minutes, in fact, after I had pressed SEND on my last Report – in which a focus was Letter-writing!!!!!!!!

Exposing wonderful symbiotic relationships with the art, joy and effects of letter-writing AND the historicity of creative Australian women, mothers, and children, living busy, often chaotic, passionately-lived energetic lives – some in unison – some in separation, Kate writes: – “… mum couldn’t understand women who decorated fridges with infantile scribble just because it was produced by their children. She was not excited by the fact that we were able to hold a pencil and make a mark. If the current climate of positive reinforcement and loving non-judgemental acceptance of failure had been fashionable at that time, we would probably have been removed from her care!!!!…” p.3

Insightful and interesting…..still around – it may even slide out of a shelf just near you…..!!

 

PERFORMING ARTS – JUTE THEATRE – CAIRNS FNQ

Commentary on today’s workplaces is a primary focus

In Angela MURPHY’S – ‘STEWED’

A totally enjoyable performance, extended because of its popularity –

The offices of Shelbourne Harbour Institute of Tertiary Education (SHITE) are infused with the business of bureaucracy and pots of Ginger Kiss tea!

Moondance, a product of Nimbin parents Rainbow and Glass, has well and truly moved on from that world, to become a dedicated worker at SHITE.

For the last six months she has held the position of part-time Acting Manager of The Operations and Equity Department (TOED).

When Branka Radich, newly-appointed, permanent Manager arrives, spruiking orders to ‘shave the fat’, the hem of Moondance’s full-length skirts start to unravel.

An office comedy with heart, about a woman who is forced to learn that people who initially seem very different, can often turn out to be very much the same!

Directed by Peta Cooke

I was not able to validate rumours of this performance going ‘on the road;’!

VISUAL ART

The Cairns Regional Gallery celebrated its 20th Birthday, last weekend, but unfortunately, many of us did not attend as that particular night was very, very wet and nasty!

However, Best Wishes were extended to the Gallery Members and I will bring you news of new and old Artists as the Art Year progresses.

The Modern Consumer in 2015

By Val Cocksedge

NCWQ Consumer Affairs Adviser

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Consumers have been alerted to the risks of consuming imported frozen fruit. Authorities have named brands of frozen fruit products which have been imported from China. There are 2 main issues – firstly the level of scrutiny applied to imported foreign produce. No routine testing is carried out for microbiological agents such as salmonella, hepatitis or E coli on imported vegetables and fruits. The Department of Agriculture admitted just 5 out of every 100 consignments is checked for risks to human health. Food items that pose a “medium” or “high” risk to human health are tested at a rate of 100% until a good compliance history is established. They are then tested at a rate of 25% of consignments, dropping to a minimum of 5% for continued compliance. The berries grown for two of the brands originated from the Shandong province where agriculture co-exists with chemical plants and water pollution and ground pollution.

Secondly we need clear information to comprehend the labelling of all imported foods – details of the actual country of origin, the ingredients used. Some importers bring the goods to New Zealand, then sell the products in Australia as being sourced from across the Tasman. Every time lone voices in the Federal Parliament try for more informative labelling, they have been defeated by the powerful food retail lobby.

Frozen vegetable mixes, seafood, seeds are among products grown and processed overseas – the source of origin is not always clear. Fish caught in the Atlantic Ocean by South Korean trawlers, processed in China and N.Z. are being marketed as “Made in Australia” because they are repackaged here (the transformation rules the act of repacking, labour involved as more than 51% the “Made in Australia” could apply.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce made a pledge at the “crisis meeting of health, agriculture and industry chiefs” promising new simple food labelling that clearly states the country where the product was grown. A total review of border testing of imported frozen produce for contaminants is being discussed.

Telstra has had to pay a $102,000 penalty after the ACCC accused the telco for misrepresentations made in advertising its iPhone6 offering. An advertisement in September 2014 ran an image of the new iPhone6 and highlighted a plan that cost $70 only to disclose in some rater fine print that customers had to pay an extra $11 a month for the phone. According to the ACCC this contravened the Australian consumer Law (ACL). Businesses must be careful about using attention grabbing ads – that they do not mislead the customers about the actual price they will have to pay. This is especially the case for bundled goods and services like phones and plans.

Mobile Muster and the Salvation Army have teamed together for Old Phones for Good – a campaign urging consumers to recycle their old phones. Hand-sets left in drawers and boxes should be recycled to help reduce the problem of e-waste and allows precious metals to be re-used. The Mobile Muster has recycled and diverted more than 1010 tonnes of old mobiles and accessories from landfill in 15 years of operation.

Research has revealed that almost half of all Australians travelling overseas choose to leave their phones at home due to the fear of “bill shock”. Consider buying a SIM Card on arrival at your destination or a pre-paid roaming SIM card before you go. If planning to use global roaming with your usual provider make sure to turn off voice mail and check how much the cost is to make and receive calls, send and receive text and picture messages and to use data.

Consumer advocate Choice has warned that millions of dollars are being squandered on gift cards that are not used before the expiry date. Shoppers should check the terms and conditions before buying these cards. Time limits vary from 3 months to Bunnings with no expiry limit, Coles and Myer – 2years, Woolworths–12 months plus a grace period.

Hi-tech readers skim ATM Cards. Protect yourself by checking that there is nothing suspicious about the ATM, if suspicion is raised, do not use it and alert the ATM owner. Any card skimming scam should be reported to Police, Crime Stoppers. Check your bank account and credit card statements – any unexplained transactions should be reported to the bank or credit union. Only use cards on secure online sites.

Many of us have received an email or letter offering to share in a large sum of money by sending bank account details. Delete all suspicious and unsolicited emails – never send your personal card or online accounts through email. Seek professional advice if tempted.

Protect yourself from Identity Thieft – which may be used to open bank accounts, take out loans and conduct illegal transactions. Shred all documents containing personal information, log directly on to web-sites rather than clicking on links provided in an email, never send money or give personal details to people you don’t know or trust.

Consumers can be lured into paying more than they expect when shopping online through a trend known as “drip pricing”. From airlines, hotels, concert tickets and car hire the practice of promoting one price but then charging you with extra costs is growing. The ACCC has been targeting “drip pricing” and is warning people to be vigilant. These extra charges can include booking fees, postage, insurance, luggage and choosing a seat on a plane. Online shoppers should watch out for pre-selected “tick boxes” that may automatically add insurance and other services not required.

Extended warranties on purchased white goods are more often than not unnecessary and costly. Choice has been campaigning to increase consumer awareness about extended warranties for years. Before you commit to buying an expensive extended warranty, ask the sales person how the warranty provides protection beyond what the Australian Consumer Law already provides. Make sure you read the fine print.

More than 22,000 car seat covers sold by K Mart were recalled across Australia as they can prevent side airbags from being deployed.

Concrete cancer has been found in high rise walls, balconies, walkways and underground car parks. Those worst hit are buildings constructed in the 1960, 70s and early 80s. the cost of repair to some buildings was greater than the value of the building – they face demolition.

Concrete cracks when the steel embedded in it rusts and take us to 3 times the original volume, exposing more reinforcing steel and concrete to the elements. Slight rust stains coming out on concrete surfaces are often the first sign of “splalling” or concrete cancer.

Asbestos test results released recently show no increased health risk for people living near the old Wunderlich factory in Brisbane, but residents still harbour fears.

Corporate giants are pumping millions of dollars into schools to make their brands part of student education. Technology behemoths such as Telstra, Google, Microsoft are entering into arrangements with schools. Other large corporations such as National Bank, Coles, Bunnings and McDonalds have invested in major school programs. Woolworths petrol has sponsored youth road safety program “streetsmart”. Coles delivered sports equipment valued at more than 10 million to 7500 schools across the nation. Globally, Microsoft is spending 500 million over 10 years on a schools technology programs. Australia snared a 20% share. Bunnings is involved in numerous activities with schools including store visits, school yard makeovers, and do-it-yourself workshops. The hardware chains School Sustainability Program is aimed at increasing awareness of energy and water saving, recycling and highlights simple easy ways to make a difference to the environment.

Unilver Australia is teamed up with education charity Learning Links to develop and run a program designed to help primary school children to become better readers.

A study on the effects of reading light-emitting devices in darkness before bed time found that e-readers took longer to fall asleep, had lower quality of sleep and were less alert in the morning compared to those who read printed books. The blue light is known to suppress the production of melatonin disrupting circadian rhythms.

A company, Chrisco is being taken to court by the ACCC because an unfair contract term in its 2014 lay-by agreements to continue debiting customers’ accounts even after they had fully paid for their Christmas hampers, required them to “opt out” to avoid these payments. Lay-by termination charges also exceeded Chrisco’s reasonable costs and did not deliver on price or hamper contents, costing consumer over 20% more than buying identical items online from Coles and Woolworths, including delivery

From January 1, 2015 the deeming rules used to assess income from financial investments for social security and Veterans’ Affairs pensions and allowances have been extended to include superannuation account-based income streams. If changes were made to a new product since 01 January 2015 the new product will be assessed under the new rules. For more information visit the website and down load the deeming booklet www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/seniors/benefits-payments/age-pension. Email questions to: deeming@dss.gov.au

Adviser Report NCWQ Consumer Affairs Feb 2015