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Government to look at grandparental leave

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The ACT Government will look at formalising grandparental leave for its public servants, Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said today.

“As part of its strategy of retaining mature-age workers and improving family-friendly conditions and flexibility I have today asked the Commissioner for Public Administration to examine the possibility of granting unpaid leave to enable grandparents to look after grandchildren up to the age of two,” Mr Stanhope said today.

“The Government is acutely conscious of the need to maximise labour-force participation by all Canberrans, to tackle current and looming skill shortages and as an important plank in our commitment to improve social inclusion.

“I was recently asked by the ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing to formally include grandparental leave among the grounds upon which ACT public servants can apply for unpaid leave of up to 12 months.

“The Commissioner for Public Administration is already examining a number of possible measures to attract and retain mature-age staff and I have asked that as part of that inquiry she look specifically at the potential for incorporating grandparental leave provisions and meet with the Ministerial Advisory Council to discuss the proposal.”

Mr Stanhope said that 2005 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that grandparents were delivering childcare services to more than 660,000 Australian children. Grandparents cared for more than half of the one-year-olds who depended on child care and almost 40% of five-year-olds.

Almost all of the childcare undertaken by grandparents was provided at no cost.

“Our ageing workforce, and our need to retain older workers for longer, means that over time we will need to provide working conditions that better suit mature-age workers,” Mr Stanhope said.

“Already, roughly three-quarters of ACT public servants are aged over 35. Indeed, only one agency has a majority of employees aged less than 35. It is crucial that we create the working conditions that will allow employees the flexibility to balance their work and home lives and it may be that access to grandparental leave will be one of the options that will allow more ACT public servants to achieve that balance.”

Canberra to target South Africa to tackle skills shortage

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The award winning Live in Canberra program will target overseas skilled workers by participating in the Opportunities Expo to be held in South Africa on 15 and 16 September 2007.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the Expo, to be held at Midrand, a town situated between Johannesburg and Pretoria, is a great opportunity to ‘sell’ Canberra to thousands of skilled South African workers looking for a better lifestyle.

“South Africans have been migrating to Australia for a long time, traditionally to Western Australia,”
Mr Stanhope said. “Last year more than 4,200 South Africans migrated to Australia, now the fourth highest source of skilled migrants who move here.

“The ACT is now ready to join other States and Territories which are actively marketing in South Africa to attract skilled workers and their families to Australia. The Northern Territory, Tasmania and Western Australia are also participating in the Opportunities Expo.

“With an unemployment rate in South Africa of around 25 per cent, there is a real incentive for highly skilled workers to seek better work and lifestyle opportunities for themselves and their families.

“Migration agents operating out of South Africa are recommending Australia to South African workers who approach them. These agents are very keen to talk to the Live in Canberra and Skilled and Business Migration teams to receive more information about Canberra to give to their clients. The team will meet with these migration agents and conduct Live in Canberra seminars for their clients outside of the Expo.”

Mr Stanhope said that in the last six months the ACT Government had sponsored eight skilled South African workers and their families to live in Canberra under the State and Territory Nominated Independent Visa Scheme.

“These South Africans will be arriving soon, filling vital skilled positions in Canberra that local employers are finding hard to fill. They will be bringing with them a total of AU$1.3 million for settlement purposes.

“Skilled migration is an important function of the Government to ensure there is a steady arrival of skilled workers to keep up with demand in Canberra.

“The recent announcement by the Australian Bureau of Statistics that Canberrans are earning, on average, $199.10 more per week than the national average, sends a clear message to skilled workers from around the globe that Canberra is the place to be in Australia for a rewarding, well paid job and a lifestyle second to none.”

Statement Ends

Griffin Legacy MOU secures $60m in capital works

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The ACT Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Capital Authority which will ensure the continued strength of the building industry, securing $60 million in Commonwealth capital works funds and $3 million a year for maintenance on Constitution Avenue and Parkes Way.

The funds were announced in this year’s Federal Budget.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said today that the MOU gave the green light to a major NCA upgrade of Constitution Avenue between the Canberra Institute of Technology campus and Russell, which will create a four-lane boulevard linking Civic and Russell, at a cost of $32.2 million.

“These changes could lead to Constitution Avenue becoming one of the most desirable commercial and residential street addresses in Canberra,” Mr Stanhope said. “Importantly, the ACT Government will retain a say on how this important development proceeds as the MOU will ensure the ACT Government is consulted about any proposed changes, and that they cannot proceed without our agreement.

“This is important in ensuring these developments better meet the transport needs of ACT residents over the long term.”

The intersection of Parkes Way and Kings Avenue will be rebuilt, with an overpass replacing the existing roundabout, at a cost of $26.6 million. The NCA will also take responsibility for maintenance of the roads transferred to the Commonwealth, reducing the burden of maintenance on the ACT community.

“The ACT welcomes the arrangement, which is a realistic acknowledgement by the Commonwealth of the impact of its developments in the area,” Mr Stanhope said. “Without such developments traffic on Parkes Way would increase rapidly, leading to congestion and traffic delays.”

Current estimates of potential Commonwealth construction developments in this area are in excess of $1 billion, including the recently announced $600 million Defence developments at Russell.

Canberra Remembers: Lives lost to suicide

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Canberra Remembers Lives Lost to Suicide

What do you say when a child asks “Why did Uncle Zach want to die?”
How do you explain to a child, when you don’t know the answer yourself?
These are the questions faced by the families and friends of suicide victims every day, as they deal with the shock, guilt and grief of losing a loved one.

Three and a half years ago, Larissa Zimmerman’s brother Zach took his own life. At the time, there were few support services for those bereaved by suicide. Thankfully, there are now two services available in the ACT to support the estimated 400 Canberrans each year who are directly affected by suicide. The Canberra After Suicide Support Group (CASS) is an opportunity for those bereaved by suicide to meet, share experiences and support each other, while StandBy Respone provides a single point of contact for referral to a range of other suicide support services.

Those bereaved by suicide also come together every year at an annual remembrance ceremony called “Canberra Remembers Lives Lost to Suicide”, to be held this year at 11am on 9 September in Garema Place, Civic. The aim of the ceremony is to give Canberrans the opportunity to raise awareness of suicide and anyone touched by suicide is invited to attend.

Speakers at the ceremony include Senator for the ACT Gary Humphries and Deputy ACT Chief Police Officer, Leanne Close. Larissa Zimmerman will speak at the ceremony about the lessons she learned following her brother’s suicide. “It’s taken a while but I have been able to see the positives from this life changing experience.”

Anyone who wants their loved one acknowledged in the program at the remembrance ceremony can contact Carmel on 0422 437 106.

For further information contact CASS:
Sally Emerson 0432 161 906 or Carmel O’Regan 0422 437 106
Email: ourcanberra_cass@yahoo.com.au

For more information on after suicide support in the ACT visit: www.ourcanberra.com/Canberra_After_Suicide.html

MANIPURI DANCE

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Bimbavati Devi dances like a Trojan

Manipur, the northeast state of India, surrounded by mountain ranges, is the birth place of one of the oldest, and most graceful Indian classical dance forms: the Manipuri Dance. There is a legend that the land of Manipur was inhabited by the descendants of the Gandharvas, the renowned musicians and dancers of the celestial courts of Lord Indra. Through a repertoire of elegant movements and expressions, this dance celebrates nature and depicts many mythical stories. There is also a story that when the Earth was uneven and lumpy, at its embryonic stage, the soft and delicate feet of the Manipuri dancers levelled the uneven soil of the earth and made it liveable.

The two main techniques involved in this dance form are the delicate feminine one, which is called “Lasya” and the vigorous, powerful masculine technique known as “Tandava”. The musical accompaniment for this dance comes from a percussion instrument called the ” Pung”, cymbals, a stringed instrument called the “Pena” and a flute. Many folk tales and historical facts are narrated through a juxtaposition of delicate and vigorous movements of this ancient dance form.

The “Manipuri Nartanalaya” of India, is solely devoted for the preservation of this ancient dance through their research, publication and performances around the world. They have performed in many countries including the UK, USA, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Japan, and Singapore to name a few, and have been honoured nationally and internationally for their dedication in research and performances of this very ancient dance technique. This year for the first time the great Manipuri dancer and scholar Smt Kalabati Devi with her daughter and disciple Bimbavati Devi will be delivering a lecture demonstration and workshop at the Australian National University following a single performance at the National Gallery of Australia at 7pm on Saturday, the 29th of September.

The dance troup of “Manipuri Nartanalaya” will be performing many of the tales that illustrate the life of Lord Krishna, his childhood pranks, and his love for Radha through graceful “Rasleela”, acrobatic “Pung Cholom”, ” Krishna Tandava” and “Thang – Ta”, the breath-taking martial art of Manipur, an exciting new addition to their creative rendition.

The tickets are available at The Deakin Post Office (6281 3564) and the Contact person for tickets and the lecture is Ms Manju Kainikara on 62 829515

PLAYERS PERFORM WELL IN SOFTBALL CARNIVAL

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Liam Wintle about to hit out
Two Under 12 boys Softball Canberra representative teams participated in a Championship Carnival held at Ingleburn near Campbletown. Representaitve teams from Penrith, Sutherland, Manly and Campbletown also participated.

Pictured: Liam Wintle with ex australian Coach Wayne Duroux in the background.

and the Under 12 Boys Gold Team.

"ELEVEN YEARS"

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“ELEVEN YEARS”
By Helen Sierra

Eleven Years! Who could have thought
That trusting Aussies would be caught,
In webs of lies and tricks
By Johnny and his loyal prigs?

A wasted time by “wasted space”
Of Howard with his shameless face!
Absorbed in arrogance and power
Forgot his duties “Down-Under”.

So busy in his little role,
Forgot what he was voted for!
Ans drowning in his selfish pride,
He took us, Aussies, for a ride.

He made us go to war and kill,
To please his favorite pal,
And let the USA have its fill,
With oil from the well.

He brought the terror to the door,
And made us lose our sleep,
And we’ve been wondering what for
We have the “head”- a creep!

John’s sceptic view on climate change,
Then sudden altering in this range,
Confuses people and plants doubts
In minds of many all around.

Work choices, hospitals and schools
Are Howard’s hurting people tools;
And lack of doctors, teachers, engineers
Recruiting specialists overseas.

He let us down, and that’s for sure,
But this time TRUTH will be ensured!
Dishonest man who just has been,
His face will vanish from the screen!!!

THE END.

NEW CANBERRANS FEAST ON LOCAL FOOD AND WINE AT LATEST LIVE IN CANBERRA WELCOME EVENT

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New Canberrans at the Live in Canberra welcome dinner at Cafe@CIT
60 of Canberra’s newest residents enjoyed a special dinner of regional fare at the Canberra Institute of Technology last night, at the latest welcome event organised by the ACT Government’s Live in Canberra team.

Live in Canberra Program Manager, Mr Simon Kinsmore, said that the booked-out dinner, exclusively for people who have moved to Canberra in the last twelve months, was a huge success.

The Café@CIT joined forces with Live in Canberra to offer the newcomers a unique menu that showcased a range of wine and produce from the Canberra region.

“It was fantastic to see our new residents make a couple of new friends and learn about the outstanding food and wine produced in Canberra region. Moving to a new city can be daunting and the Live in Canberra welcome events really help new arrivals feel more ‘at home’ in our community, and go a long way in making Canberra the most welcoming city in Australia,” said Mr Kinsmore.

Mr Stuart Walsh, Dean of Tourism and Hotel Management at the Canberra Institute of Technology, also attended the dinner, sharing his in-depth knowledge of Canberra’s food and wine industry and taking new arrivals on an insider’s tour through CIT’s award-winning hospitality facilities.

“In the coming Spring months, newcomers can look forward to a variety of events that will include a visit to the National Film and Sound Archive, breakfast at Floriade, and tickets to the Canberra Capitals. The Live in Canberra program continues to build on the strong relationships forged within the ACT business community to deliver these events,” said Mr Kinsmore.

For more information about Live in Canberra welcome events or to register to receive updates, visit www.liveincanberra.com.au or call Justin on 6205 0174.

Earthscapes – Photo Exhibition

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Wagga Mist
EARTHSCAPES – Photo Exhibition
at Tuggeranong Arts Centre Gallery
In brief:
Earthscapes – Photo Exhibition
Opens Thursday 30 August 2007 at 5.30pm
Tuggeranong Arts Centre Gallery
All welcome
Exhibition continues until Monday 10 September

Kath O’Brien is a public servant who finds an outlet for creativity in digital photography, a hobby which she embarked on through classes for women held at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre in 2005. Kath continues to learn about photography

EARTHSCAPES is Kath O’Brien’s first photograph exhibition. This exhibition captures the serenity of nature and wild places through the peace, the beauty, the landscape and the colours that are conveyed.

Kath says, ‘There is a timelessness which transcends everyday life. It transports you to a perspective that is larger than your everyday problems. All too often we fail to appreciate the beauty of nature. These photos represent the oneness humans have with the natural environment: as an onlooker, traveller or tourist.’

EARTHSCAPES opens at Tuggeranong Arts Centre on Thursday 30 August 2007 at 5.30pm. Members of the pubic and representatives of the media are most welcome to attend. The exhibition continues until Monday 10 September 2007.

Contact details
Kath O’Brien (02) 6289 3248 (daytime); or leave a message at (02) 62922434
kath.o’brien@health.gov.au

Strong interest in centenary artwork tender

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Fifty-five artists and designers from across Australia have already requested tender documents for a major new Centenary artwork for Canberra.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the high level of interest from across the nation was extremely encouraging and augured well for a range of high-quality designs and concepts.

“It is early days in the tender process, but the high level of interest in this project from around Australia is extremely welcome,” he said.

Mr Stanhope said the commissioning of the artwork would mark the Centenary of the 1908 selection of the site of Australia’s national capital and would be the first major legacy project undertaken by the ACT Government in the lead-up to the Centenary of Canberra in 2013.

“The community will have a chance to view and give feedback on up to 10 short-listed designs, which will go on public display later this year,” he said.

The call for expressions of interest has been advertised through the national media, arts media and on the ACT Government’s procurement website www.basis.act.gov.au . Submissions will be received until Thursday 20 September. The chosen design will be announced next year.

Traineeships give career boost to Indigenous youth

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Fifteen young Indigenous Canberrans will benefit from a new training program launched today by Chief Minister Jon Stanhope.

The program, a strategic partnership between the ACT Government, the ITMS Group and Indigenous Success Australia, will earn successful participants a Certificate II in Business Administration and a permanent job in the ACT Public Service.

The program was announced in the recent ACT Budget. An initial training investment of $20,000 will leverage a half-million-dollar investment of Government resources in the young trainees.

Launching the program at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre at Yarramundi Reach today, Mr Stanhope said Indigenous Canberrans were over-represented in jobless statistics and under-represented in education and training statistics. Unemployment levels for Indigenous Canberrans were around 8%, compared with less than 3% for the community more generally, and workforce participation rates and participation in post-secondary education are significantly lower.

The Chief Minister said the traineeships would give young Indigenous men and women the skills required to embark on a public service career and – importantly – there would be a permanent job for them at the conclusion of their training.

Fifteen traineeships will be allocated in the first year, creating pathways to sustainable employment for young Indigenous men and women. About 30 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women have expressed an interest in the program. All are participating in a week-long Job Ready program, at the end of which 15 will be selected to progress to the traineeships.

Eminent Canberrans to help choose $1m artwork

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Three prominent Canberrans will join the permanent members of the ACT Public Art Panel, to help oversee the selection of a gateway artwork for Canberra’s Centenary.

Former Director of the National Gallery of Australia Betty Churcher, the Patron of the Centenary of Canberra and former Governor-General Sir William Deane, and 2007 Canberra Citizen of the Year Jack Waterford, will be community representatives on the panel. They will join the existing panel members – Cultural Council Chair and poet Paul Hetherington, renowned artist G W Bot, architect Graham Humphries and writer and publisher Ian Templeman, to help oversee the selection of the first major physical legacy to mark Canberra’s Centenary in 2013.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said he was delighted that the three had agreed to represent their fellow Canberrans in the selection of such a major piece of public art, an iconic work that would belong to all Canberrans and reflect the spirit of the community.

The Government last week called for expressions of interest from artists around the country for the $1 million tender.

The work will be located at the top of Northbourne Avenue, near City Hill.

An exhibition of short-listed designs will be mounted for public comment before a final design is selected and announced next year.

Four of Canberra’s best-known and respected writers – Marion Halligan, Alan Gould, Ken Taylor and Clare Young – have produced specially commissioned texts to reflect their thoughts on the ‘spirit of Canberra’. These texts will help inspire and inform the expressions of interest from artists around the country. The texts, along with further information about the commission, can be found on the artsACT website at www.arts.act.gov.au/majorcanberraartwork.

The call for expressions of interest closes on Thursday 20 September. Details and documentation are available from the ACT Government’s procurement website www.basis.act.gov.au.

Live in Canberra success at Country Week expo

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The Live in Canberra program has again received a great response from the annual Country Week Expo, held in Sydney over the past three days.

The Expo, designed for Sydneysiders who are looking for a ‘sea or tree’ change, attracted thousands of people with a wide variety of skills looking for better jobs and a better lifestyle.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the outstanding attendance clearly demonstrates that many people are actively seeking job opportunities and a lifestyle that Sydney cannot offer, and many see Canberra as a great option.

“The expo provided an ideal opportunity to ‘sell’ Canberra’s job opportunities and lifestyle with the Live in Canberra team handing out over 600 information packs,” Mr Stanhope said. “The Live in Canberra seminars were also very popular with Expo attendees.

“Canberra appeals to a broad audience – being a city of four seasons, with relatively low crime, no toll roads and very few traffic jams, great schools and other first-class community facilities.

“Representatives from the new Alexander Maconochie Centre were also at the Expo to talk with people interested in applying to become one of the 75 custodial officers required at the Centre when it opens. The team received expressions of interest from hundreds of people who are very interested in coming to Canberra to be a part of this new project,” Mr Stanhope said.

“The Australian Public Service Commission, IP Australia and the Australian Institute of Chartered Accountants also attended the expo as supporters of the Live in Canberra program. Representatives from these organisations met people face-to-face, promoting the myriad of employment opportunities in the nation’s capital.

“Since its inception, with the aid of the campaign’s supporters, the Live in Canberra program has attracted a number of new residents and workers to the city. The Live in Canberra team will work to build on this success with more than 100 families indicating a strong interest in participating in a Canberra tour in November as a result of the Expo,” Mr Stanhope said.

Land releases brought forward to meet demand

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The Government will release an additional 1,000 house blocks in 2007-2008 to help meet continuing high demand and the unexpected increase in the size of the Commonwealth public service, Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said today.

“In line with commitments made as part of its Affordable Housing Action Plan, the Government has increased its residential land release program for 2007-08 to 3,200 residential blocks, an increase of 1,000 blocks”, Mr Stanhope said. “The additional 1,000 dwelling sites to be brought forward for development this financial year are in Casey. It is expected the land will be released in two packages – possibly including an englobo release.

The Government is also working hard to accelerate other land releases. Planning documentation for Franklin 3 will be lodged with the ACT Planning and Land Authority before the scheduled lodgement date of October, enabling an early release for that land as well.

Concept planning for suburbs 1 and 2 in Molonglo is well advanced. The Draft Variation for the Molonglo Valley development, along with the associated Draft Amendment to the National Capital Plan, will be released for public comment before the end of this month, and the Government aims to have the first blocks released in North Weston in July 2008.

The Government is also responding to a continuing demand for commercial land.

Final design parameters for Section 63 in the City are being discussed by ACTPLA and the National Capital Authority and an additional commercial release, most likely in Constitution Avenue, is proposed for this financial year. Major redevelopments of other Civic sites are proposed in the short term.

The Government is identifying more commercial land development sites in Gungahlin, near the town centre.

“I am confident these releases will contribute significantly to meeting the current high demand for both residential and commercial land in Canberra,” Mr Stanhope said.