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Admin Bandit wins PM's territory award again

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Prime Minister’s award recognises Admin Bandit’s community partnerships for second year running

Software developer Admin Bandit has won the Australian Capital Territory Small Business Award in the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships for the second year in a row.

The Prime Minister’s Awards acknowledge businesses that work with community organisations for the greater social and economic benefit of the sector in which they operate.

Admin Bandit’s award recognises the company’s continued collaboration with the Canberra Preschool Society to create an easy-to-use software accounting package, designed specifically for volunteer treasurers in community groups. Originally called Treasurer’s Useful Box, the package has been expanded in the last year and is now simply known as Admin Bandit.

“We’re thrilled to win for the second time,” says Admin Bandit Director Nerida Gill. “It reinforces the significant impact we’ve had on the preschool community in Canberra by making the task of being a volunteer treasurer fast and effortless.”

An ideal financial management tool, the software further benefits preschool associations by saving time and money. Gill estimates the software has already saved the ACT preschools $500,000 – money available for equipment and resources for future generations of preschoolers.

This year, Gill was also honoured with giving the opening presentation of the Canberra Community Business Day, which culminated in the presentation of the Prime Minister’s Awards. “My dream was to give a business presentation in 2011,” she says. “Now I’ve had the opportunity to inspire other businesses to build community relationships four years earlier!”

Admin Bandit was one of five award winners in the ACT and the only winner of the Small Business Award. The company plans to produce a web-based version of its software and expand to cater for volunteer treasurers across the community and volunteer sectors.

For further information please contact:
Nerida Gill
Director
Admin Bandit
0412226753 (m)
www.adminbandit.com.au

Donated computers to help Boer War Memorial Team

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The Government has donated two desktop computers to the National Boer War Memorial Project, for use in the campaign to have a memorial erected on Anzac Parade.

The computers have been donated under the Chief Minister’s PC Donation Scheme, which finds new homes for excess ACT Government computer equipment.

“The Boer War was the first fought by Australia as a nation, in the very earliest years of Federation, yet there has never been a national memorial to the 606 Australians who died in South Africa during the waging of that war,” Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said today.

“The ACT is happy to be able to contribute in some small way to the efforts of the campaign committee that is raising money for the memorial and organising a national design competition.”

In March this year the Canberra National Memorials Committee approved a proposal by the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association for Section 41 Reid on Anzac Parade be set aside for a Boer War Memorial. It is anticipated that the memorial will be erected by 2010.

Mr Stanhope said he had recently been approached by the President of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association, Colonel JS Haynes, OAM, seeking a donation of excess computer equipment for use in the campaign office, and had been happy to oblige.

“At the time when the Australian colonies came together at Federation, in 1901, Australians had already been fighting in South Africa, since November 1899, when the NSW Lancers arrived in Capetown,” Mr Stanhope said.

The war was the first in which Australian military forces saw conflict in formed sub-units.

By the war’s end in 1903 16,463 Australian men and women had served in South Africa. Six hundred and six had lost their lives – more than in Vietnam – 538 had been wounded and 100 had become Prisoners of War.

Mr Stanhope said it was timely for a permanent national memorial to be erected to the memory of those killed in the War.

More information about the memorial project can be found at www.bwm.org.au.

Last chance to win $5,000

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Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has asked all new Canberrans to update their Medicare details for their last chance to win $5,000 cash.

The ACT Government’s Medicare Change Address campaign has exceeded expectations, with 511 Canberrans updating their addresses and entering the competition.

Mr Stanhope said an official increase in Canberra’s population of 511 residents would represent additional Commonwealth funding to the ACT of $1,227,500.

“I am extremely pleased with the success of the campaign and that the ACT will receive a greater share of Commonwealth funding to reflect our growing population,” Mr Stanhope said. “These funds will be allocated towards improving government services for all Canberrans.

“I’d like to thank all those Canberrans who are taking the time to change their address with Medicare. Not only do they have the incentive of winning significant prize money, these Canberrans are playing an important role in benefiting their community to ensure that essential funding that can be allocated towards improving community amenities and facilities is not diverted away from the ACT.

“Few people realise that official population figures, and Commonwealth payments to states and territories, are largely based on Medicare data. So for every year that an ACT resident is not counted, the ACT Government misses out on around $2,500 in GST funding.

“With one-week remaining, I’m hoping the campaign can secure $1.5 million in Commonwealth revenue to benefit the ACT community. That’s a great result for a $120,000 outlay.

“I would also like to thank long-time Canberran Geoff Pryor for providing his artist talent and name for the campaign and Service One Members Banking for providing the $20,000 prize money to encourage new Canberrans to update their details with Medicare.”

The campaign, which closes next Monday 3 September, includes a weekly prize draw of $5,000 cash, donated by Members One Service Bank.

To enter the competition, call the Medicare hotline on 132 011 to change your address, then visit the Service One website www.somb.com.au or any of the Service One branches in the ACT.

Action plan to guide approach to roo management

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The Government is assessing the impact of Eastern Grey Kangaroos on all grassland and woodland reserves under its control in the ACT.

Chief Minister and Minister for the Environment Jon Stanhope said that while the Government was actively exploring long-term solutions to the risks of kangaroo over-population and overgrazing, practicable methods of fertility control were still some years away. In the meantime the Government needed to closely monitor kangaroo numbers and grazing impact on sites under Government control – particularly where there was the potential for adverse impact on threatened ecosystems and species. The assessment of grasslands, woodlands and other relevant areas of public land, would lead to the development of action plans for short-to-medium-term controls.

“There is considerable evidence emerging that Eastern Grey Kangaroos in the ACT are becoming more abundant over time, as urban development concentrates populations into smaller areas of remaining bush, and in absence of predation or competition,” Mr Stanhope said today.

“It is true that an abundance of kangaroos is not always a problem. Indeed, it can be an asset, depending on the land management objectives for a particular site. Densities that might be acceptable – even an asset – in upland areas can be a problem in lowland temperate grasslands, where heavy grazing has the potential to permanently alter the grassland structure.

“In addition, land management strategies – such as the planned erection of a predator-proof fence at the high-value Mulligans Flat Woodlands Sanctuary, which will inevitably result in a ‘captive’ kangaroo population – can create new challenges.”

Mr Stanhope said the Government was investing considerable resources in the search for long-term methods of population control, to avoid the necessity of resorting to periodic culls. In partnership with the University of Newcastle it was exploring an oral vaccine capable of sterilising kangaroos for up to three years and with the Australian National University was assessing kangaroo exclusion areas, as part of research into ecological restoration of woodlands.

“At least three separate groups of researchers are exploring fertility control methods for macropods, but none of these is expected to be an option for large populations or non-captive populations for several years yet,” Mr Stanhope said. “That is why we need to be realistic about the possible need to regularly cull kangaroos in areas where they pose an ecological risk to other species.

“While there is no evidence that populations on ACT-controlled land are yet at that level, the Government is preparing an action plan so that if and when numbers reach a danger point, it can act.”

Housing in the ACT most affordable – REIA

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The ACT has the most affordable housing of any State or Territory in Australia according to a report issued by the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) yesterday.

The REIA Home Loan Affordability Indicator (HLAI) for the ACT was 48.6 in the June quarter of 2007, well above the national average of just 27.6.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the REIA report, along with recent reports by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), debunked the myth that Canberra is the most unaffordable city in Australia.

“A recent report by the ABS found the average annual growth of housing prices over the past 3 years in the ACT was 5.1 per cent, the second lowest behind Sydney which recorded a slight decrease,” Mr Stanhope said. “The comparative affordability of housing in the ACT is also reflected in the fact the number of new loans issued in the June quarter in the ACT rose 16.9 per cent, outstripping the national growth rate of 14.6 per cent.

Mr Stanhope said that although the REIA and ABS reports show Canberra remains an affordable city in which to live, the ACT Government acknowledges that many Canberrans do experience significant housing stress and that the Government is taking on the challenge to make housing more affordable for more Canberrans.

“The ACT’s Affordable Housing Action Plan has already seen an extra 1,000 dwelling blocks released ahead of schedule, bringing the total number of releases for 2007-08 to 3,200,” he said.

“Additionally, the ACT Government continues to work to deliver other aspects of the Plan including improved targeting of stamp duty concessions, regular englobo land sales, over-the-counter sales of affordable housing blocks, a major expansion of community housing, initiatives to increase the supply of private rental dwellings as well as land rental and shared equity schemes.

Mr Stanhope said the greatest threat to housing affordability is increasing interest rates.

“As a result of the August interest rate hike, home loan interest will consume more of the average Canberrans’ pay packet than at any time since 1991,” he said. “Analysis conducted by ACT Treasury reveals the interest payments on the average home loan have now reached a massive 30.7 per cent of average weekly earnings.

“Since the last election in which the Prime Minister promised to keep interest rates low, the average Canberra household has had to find an extra $94 per week just to meet the interest cost on their mortgage,” Mr Stanhope said.

More ACT employers back Live in Canberra campaign

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More ACT employers are signing on as partners to support the ACT Government’s Live in Canberra program, designed to tackle the local impact of the national skills shortage by attracting skilled workers to the ACT.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the Live in Canberra program has 27 partners for 2007-2008.

“Live in Canberra is a great example of the government, business and education sectors working together to ensure ACT employers have access to the skilled workers they require to keep their organisations moving forward,” Mr Stanhope said.

“The fact our 27 partner organisations span a wide variety of industry sectors including recruitment, construction, hospitality, ICT, education and government helps ensure the campaign meets the needs of ACT employers and will help to keep the ACT economy strong.

New supporters joining the Live in Canberra program this year include Ambit Recruitment, Calvary Heath Care ACT, Cantlie Recruitment Services, Geoscience Australia, GHD, IBM, IELTS, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, IP Australia, Saville Park Suites, Service One Members Banking and the Australian Public Service Commission.

“With Canberra’s largest tertiary education institutions, the Australian National University, the University of Canberra and the Canberra Institute of Technology all partnering in the campaign, the team is also ensuring that Canberra’s next generation of skilled workers, our students, know that Canberra is a great place to find work after graduation,” Mr Stanhope said.

The full list of Live in Canberra supporters for 2007-2008 are:

. ActewAGL
. ACTTAB
. Ambit Recruitment
. ANU Exchange
. Australian Public Service Commission
. Calvary Heath Care ACT
. Canberra Institute of Technology
. Canberra International Airport
. Candle ICT
. Cantlie Recruitment Services
. CFMEU
. Forde
. Geoscience Australia
. GHD
. Hindmarsh
. IBM
. IELTS
. IP Australia
. Land Development Agency
. Master Builder’s Association of the ACT
. National Capital Authority
. Saville Park Suites
. Service One Members Banking
. The Canberra Times
. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia
. The Village Building Company
. University of Canberra

Mr Stanhope also acknowledged the ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Canberra Business Council for their ongoing support of the program.

Equine quarantine declared in ACT

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Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope has declared the ACT a quarantined area under the Animal Diseases Act 2005, in response to an equine influenza scare in NSW.

The quarantine applies to horses, all other equine species and equine products. This includes items such as bridles, saddles and saddle cloths.

The movement of horses and donkeys in and out of the ACT has been stopped due to the strong suspicion of an equine influenza outbreak in NSW.

Horse owners are required not move their horses across the ACT/NSW border or within the ACT unless they have prior written approval from the Senior Veterinary Officer. This means that horses should not be removed from the premises where they are currently agisted.

Horse owners with any concerns about the health of their animals and all other enquiries should be directed to Canberra Connect on 132281.

Canberra Glassworks to host Ranamok exhibition

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Australia’s most prestigious art glass exhibition and competition opens this weekend at the Canberra Glassworks.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said it was a feather in the cap for the new Canberra Glassworks to host the exhibition, which attracts worldwide attention and showcases the best in contemporary glass art.

The Ranamok glass exhibition and competition is an annual event that encourages creativity, skill and innovation among contemporary glass artists from Australia and New Zealand.

Last month the judging panel for the Ranamok Glass Prize selected 35 finalists out of 131 entrants. The exhibition features the work of all finalists. The winning artist will be announced at the Canberra Glassworks tomorrow and the exhibition will run until 23 September.

Mr Stanhope has also congratulated the Glassworks on quickly becoming one of Canberra’s most popular attractions. Approximately 11,000 people visited the Glassworks in June and more than 8,000 in July.

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.