The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2019-03-22T00:28:55Z Harmony is more important than ever this week 2019-03-22T00:28:55Z harmony-is-more-important-than-ever-this-week Harmony Week in Australia coincided with important dates this week, including the International Day of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, World Social Work Day and the aftermath of the devastating terrorist attack in Christchurch. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “These events remind us that ‘harmony’ within our communities and across society rests on recognising the dignity of every person, while welcoming diversity. “That is how we promote the human rights of everyone. “This year’s Harmony Week shows us how important it is that we all promote inclusion and end discrimination based on differences in heritage, culture or belief.” This year’s AASW World Social Work Day events took time to reflect on the tragedy in Christchurch and how important social work values are in countering racism. Ms Craik said, “Social workers are passionate advocates for justice and helping families, communities and societies to build relationships based on solidarity and mutual respect. “This is how we will eliminate racial discrimination in our country. We need to reflect on the culture that can make politicians believe that there are votes to be gained by blaming refugees, immigrants or Indigenous people for issues that are not related to them, such as pressure on health care, crowded cities or welfare spending. It’s the same culture that led to the terrible act of violence last Friday.” “Social workers are dedicated to creating a society which is just and inclusive in which it is possible for everyone to flourish and thrive. Eliminating racial discrimination is fundamental to our vision. “Now is the time when we look to our leaders to set an example and we call on politicians, business and community groups to commit to join us in eliminating all forms of discrimination.” Christine Craik is available for interview. AMHSWs are experts in complexity, new report published today says 2019-03-21T01:40:39Z amhsws-are-experts-in-complexity-new-report-published-today-says Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) provide a vital service to those experiencing mental health disorders according to its new report Accredited Mental Health Social Workers: Qualifications, Skills and Experience. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “This report will be an important resource in the Association’s advocacy for greater recognition of AMHSWs under Medicare, other programs, and private health funds. “In documenting the breadth of skills and experience, high standard of qualification of AMHSWs, this report demonstrates that AMHSWs are truly experts in complexity.” AMHSWs are one of the few designated allied health professional groups eligible to provide private mental health services to people with diagnosable mental health conditions or people ‘at risk’ of developing mental health conditions under the Commonwealth Medicare initiative. There are currently more than 2,200 AMHSWs working across major cities, regional, rural and remote regions. As a group of providers, AMHSWs are the second largest after the combined group of Clinical Psychologists and Registered Psychologists. This report provides an overview of the skills, knowledge and services provided by AMHSWs, and is based on extensive analysis of AASW data, including 2013 and 2018 member surveys. According to the report: More than 40 per cent of AMHSWs provide services in rural and remote areas More than 60 per cent of AMHSWs have postgraduate qualifications More than 75 per cent of AMHSWs have over 10 years’ practice experience AMHSWs use a wide range of therapeutic interventions, including cognitive behavioural therapy, strengths-based approach and mindfulness People can access the service of AMHSWs through several programs including Medicare, NDIS, DVA and some private health funds. To further illustrate the contribution of AMHSWs, illustrative case studies are included throughout. The AASW is responsible for the accreditation of AMHSWs and is committed to maintaining the high standard of practice of the profession in this sector. Read the complete report. Access the infographic that summarises the report. Christine Craik is available for interview. An interview with an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker is also available. On World Oral Health Day, Mercy Ships Recognises Australian Dental Volunteers’ Contribution to the Oral Health of Africa 2019-03-20T00:21:10Z on-world-oral-health-day-mercy-ships-recognises-australian-dental-volunteers-contribution-to-the-oral-health-of-africa Conakry, Guinea, West Africa, March 20, 2019: On World Oral Health Day, Mercy Ships recognises the Australian dental volunteers dedicated to the oral health of West Africa. Mercy Ships is currently working in Guinea, West Africa with a team of 25 volunteer dentists, dental assistants and dental hygienists from Australia and around the world. Through a partnership with the Guinean Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, the facilities, areas, and persons for capacity building projects were identified. The Mercy Ships Medical Capacity Building (MCB) program in dentistry aims to enhance the standards of care within African partner health care institutions. Work also includes mentoring and courses being taught to faculty and students at the Gamal Abdel Nasser University, the only dental school in Guinea. These dental courses contain practical and relevant medical capacity building projects that demonstrate and impart knowledge, skills, and a compassionate, professional attitude to each participant. The training is essential to help fill the need for more qualified dental professionals. Without access to proper dental care, easily curable dental diseases can deteriorate into serious conditions, some of which require the specialty care of an ENT physician or maxillofacial surgeon. Through past work in Guinea, Mercy Ships has confirmed that lack of access to dental, ENT and maxillofacial care represents a serious need in the country.  Australians involved in the projects in Guinea include Queensland dentists Dr. Toni Mitchell and Dr. Ryan Goh and dental assistant Maryanne Casey, and South Australian dentist Dr. Su Fei Ling and dental assistant Kay Barlow. “The people of Guinea and other nations in West Africa face many problems – lack of food, water, shelter, sanitation and access to health care and education. It’s good to be able to train the local people who will then be able to provide care for their own,” said Dr. Toni Mitchell from Mission Beach. “I had the opportunity of helping to train a local person in tooth extraction. We could not communicate because of the language barrier but he learnt by watching. I feel greatly rewarded as the people I serve give back more than I could ever give personally.” The Mercy Ships Dental Team has treated over 5,000 dental patients in a free clinic available to citizens since the Africa Mercy, the world’s largest private hospital ship, arrived in Guinea in August 2018.  To date, 13 dentists and 41 dental students have participated in the mentoring and training program which will continue the entire 10 months that the Africa Mercy is docked in Guinea. After the field service ends this coming June, Mercy Ships will hand over the fully-renovated, equipped and fully-functioning dental clinic designed to meet the training needs of Gamal’s dental students, ensuring future generations of Guinean dentists are properly equipped to enter the local dental workforce and provide quality care to patients.  Mercy Ships will remain engaged in this project for one to three years afterwards to assure the project’s sustainability, evaluating how the level of skills and knowledge are being used and shared, while carefully identifying any external variables that may positively or negatively affect the project’s overall success. Mercy Ships uses this information for continual project design improvements in future field services. END About Mercy Ships  Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development aid to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1.3 billion, with more than 2.6 million direct beneficiaries. Each year, more than 1,200 volunteers from over 40 nations serve with Mercy Ships. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. Mercy Ships Australia, one of 16 international support offices, is based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. For more information, visit www.mercyships.org.au Notes to Editors High resolution photos of Mercy Ships are available upon request, with attribution to Mercy Ships. For more information, please contact: Melissa MasonNational Office ManagerMercy Ships Australia(07) 5437 2992melissa.mason@mercyships.org VIVID SYDNEY 2019 ENTERS A NEW DECADE OF INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY 2019-03-19T03:34:52Z vivid-sydney-2019-enters-a-new-decade-of-innovation-and-creativity MEDIA RELEASE: 11.30am, Tuesday 19 March, 2019 VIVID SYDNEY 2019 ENTERS A NEW DECADE OF INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY ARGYLE CUT IN THE ROCKS RETURNS WITH PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS, CAMPBELLS COVE AND HICKSON ROAD RESERVE REJOIN LIGHT WALK, GAME CHANGERS SPIKE LEE AND ESTHER PEREL HEADLINE VIVID IDEAS PLUS THE CURE, RÜFÜS DU SOL, FKA TWIGS & UNDERWORLD ROCK VIVID MUSIC. 2019 PROGRAM ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO CONTENT AND IMAGES ARE AVAILABLE AT:www.vividsydney.com/media-centre Vivid Sydney, the largest festival of light, music and ideas in the Southern Hemisphere, will ignite the Harbour City this winter from Friday 24 May to Saturday 15 June 2019 as it enters a new decade of innovation and creativity with an inspiring and star-studded program of events. Destination NSW CEO and Executive Producer - Vivid Sydney, Sandra Chipchase said, “Australia’s most loved and awarded festival, now in its eleventh year, will bring together light artists, music makers and brilliant minds to showcase Sydney as the creative industries hub of the Asia-Pacific. “This year’s Vivid Sydney program is bold, exciting and diverse, offering something for everyone so I encourage those who want to experience this unmissable event to start planning their trip now.” Vivid Sydney is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, and in 2018 attracted 2.25 million attendees, delivering $172.9 million in visitor expenditure into the NSW economy. “I am proud to say our marketing activities saw a record 185,887 travel packages sold to domestic and international visitors for Vivid 2018 - an increase of 37 per cent over the previous year. Vivid Sydney is a must-attend event for travellers and motivates people to visit Sydney and beyond,” Ms Chipchase said. “It doesn’t matter your age or interests, whether it is your first time to Sydney or if you are a local - Vivid Sydney has universal appeal. The Vivid Sydney 2019 program offers inclusive and accessible installations, events and experiences that you can enjoy for one evening or over 23 nights.” Ms Chipchase also announced the inaugural Vivid School for High School students in years 9-12 to assist students to learn more about the creative processes involved in imagining, designing and delivering light-based artworks for this huge global event. “This initiative will enable students and their teachers to meet the professionals behind Vivid Sydney’s iconic building projections and light walk installations, and to hear from artists, designers and technicians about their career paths and how they harnessed opportunities to build their skills for future projects and employment,” Ms Chipchase said. VIVID LIGHT This year’s Light Walk sees over 50 radiant works curated into the largest outdoor gallery of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, stretching for more than three kilometres. In a partnership first, Academy-Award winning Pixar Animation Studios will illuminate Sydney’s heritage-listed Argyle Cut in The Rocks with a creative light projection that will delight visitors of all ages as they are transported through a visual feast of behind-the- scenes artwork and the evolution of iconic animation. The return of the Argyle Cut to the Vivid Light program will be a huge drawcard for festival goers featuring the captivating characters of Pixar films, including the beloved duo of Woody and Buzz Lightyear. For this year’s eagerly anticipated Lighting of the Sails, Los Angeles-based Chinese American artist-filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang presents Austral Flora Ballet. This hypnotic tribute to Australia’s exquisite native plants and flowers incorporates a dancer’s movements in response to the sensuous arcs of the Sydney Opera House’s silhouette. Visitors can once again weave their way through the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney for close encounters with illuminated artworks that reflect and refract both light and nature. Glowing, darting, hovering above the ground, Firefly Field is a mesmerising installation of 500 flying light points that simulate the aerial ballet of these tiny nocturnal lampyridae. Viewers are encouraged to look beyond the night sky and wonder what secrets lie beyond the stars throughKA3323, a retro-futuristic satellite dish overgrown with alien plant matter that has mysteriously landed in the Botanic Garden. While at I Hear You (But Do You Hear Me?), an array of LED light poles generates a space between two people with their voices starting a conversation of light and sound, questioning inequality in the digital era. Across the Quay, the imposing art-deco façade of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia will be transformed by award-winning Australian-Columbian artist Claudia Nicholson who, together with light veterans Spinifex Group, reimagine her vibrant artworks into Let Me Down, an animated cycle of creation, destruction and regeneration underscored by the cool and contemporary sounds of Lonelyspeck. Next door, in addition to an incredible experience at Foundation Hall, Samsung Electronics Australia will create a once in a lifetime experience at First Fleet Park using some of the most exciting features of the Galaxy S10 to reimagine how you see Vivid Sydney. Watch your chips! in The Rocks examines the collective behaviour of birds, mimicking the way gulls sometimes harass humans for food scraps while Nostalgia Above connects the romance of nature to data-driven climate technology, creating a virtual barometer that forecasts rain and thunderstorms, clear or gloomy skies. Campbells Cove is back with Ballerina, an eternal dance solo that shimmers along the harbour’s edge as if in a dream, while Let it Snow makes it seem that giant snowflakes have landed at Hickson Road Reserve offering great views from the water. Celebrating the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the southern pylon of Sydney Harbour Bridge is set to come to life with Eora: Broken Spear curated by Rhoda Roberts AO with projection design by The Electric Canvas. This powerful work reminds us to reflect, to call country, to read country and listen to country. The façade of Customs House is once again transformed to become an aquatic wonderland in Under the Harbour by Spinifex Group, sure to delight children and adults alike. The watery world with neon sea creatures, botanical wonderlands, and unclassified oddities will provide a playful and exquisite escape into an extraordinary underwater fantasy certain to inspire audiences and deepen the appreciation of Sydney’s aquatic haven. VIVID SYDNEY PRECINCTS Popular precincts Taronga Zoo, Darling Harbour, Chatswood, Barangaroo and Luna Park also light up in 2019. On the north shore, festival favourite Taronga Zoo’s Lights for the Wild adds to its illuminated trail of interactive lanterns featuring endangered species. Joining the star-spangled Asian Elephant, a family of glowing Silverback Gorillas, the iridescent Marine Turtle and the Weedy Sea Dragon, is the Sumatran Tiger Cubs marking the birth of three new tiger cubs and highlighting the Zoo’s commitment to conservation. In its second year, the ever-grinning Luna Park Sydney dazzles again after dark. This year adrenaline seekers can get airborne in the new family thriller Volaré studded with thousands of LED lights which perfectly complements the light-laced iconic Ferris Wheel. Vivid Sydney at Chatswood, a family favourite, is set to radiate with peace and harmony. The Concourse will shine with Co-existence, a large-scale projection work by Hungarian artist collective Limelight while music fans can catch shows by Vince Jones and Lisa Fischer as well as performances by the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra. Vivid Ideas weighs in with a festival/conference for girl gamers and free sessions on clean beauty, fit- tech and wellness. Barangaroo offers a feast for the senses with Exchange Place set to become a wondrous Winter Camp each night with the glowing six-metre tall spirit Marri Dyin (Great Woman) visiting Thursdays to Sundays. Visitors are invited to join her to hunt and gather through illuminated bushlands and enjoy light-inspired fare at all price-points from over 40 restaurants, bars and cafes. At Darling Harbour, Robot SPACELand imagines a not-too-distant future where a new civilisation rises from our post-industrial debris. This is where you will get to meet mind- boggling electro-automotive super-bots that have been sent to sow the seeds of a brighter, greener tomorrow. Vivid Sydney’s inclusive playground Tumbalong Lights is back with the support of Access and Inclusion partner Cushman & Wakefield. Inspired by the next frontier, playSPACE will bring together super-scale installations that give intrepid explorers an opportunity to walk Under the Milky Sky, play with Spaceballs, and share different perspectives with See What I See. Low-sensory sessions will be catered for too. VIVID IDEAS Vivid Ideas brings to Sydney 23 days and nights of talks, hands-on workshops and industry- shaping forums delving into the meaning of love, loneliness and belonging in our fast-paced, ever-connected lives. This year’s Game Changers challenge assumptions on race and relationships. Hollywood trailblazer Spike Lee opens up about his personal politics, story-craft and tips for making movies that matter, while iconic psychotherapist and creator of the wildly popular podcast Where Should We Begin? Esther Perel investigates modern love in the digital age and looks at the ways relationships are being affected by technology. The New Horizons series tunes into signals from the future. Highlights include Future of Sex researcher and podcast creator Bryony Cole charting the frontiers of sextech, Marc Fennell exploring loneliness and how and why many people in Japan feel overworked and undersexed, and Eileen Ormsby shines a chilling light into the dark underbelly of the web. Scientists and researchers from UTS, the ABC and CSIRO will also shed light on what’s coming next in AI and ethics, space exploration and more. In The Mark Colvin Conversation: Net Worth, Pulitzer prize winner author Sebastian Smee, psychologistJocelyn Brewer and artist and author Holly Throsby look at the value of an ‘inner life’ and ask what price we’ll pay for our constant digital distraction. Vivid Art After Hours returns to the Art Galley of NSW for free Wednesday evenings that combine art activities, live music and talks by creative thinkers addressing issues of belonging - including comedian and ‘bad Buddhist’ Meshel Laurie, rapper, poet and author Omar Musa and artist Abdul Abdullah in conversation about cultural identity, and the team behind the hit ABC TV show You Can’t Say That celebrating social diversity. Citizens of the World workshops and other how-to sessions will unlock essential skills for living a more creative, better informed and fulfilled life and Semi Permanent returns with a jam-packed program of design goodness featuring vice president of design for Uber, Michael Gough and other luminaries. The Vivid Ideas Exchange will once again reside on Level 6 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia with 23 days of stimulating talks and skill sharpening workshops including future-facing industry forums, deep-dive conferences, panels and showcases where we brighten up your perspectives and challenge your ideas. VIVID MUSIC Vivid Sydney spotlights the city’s live music culture by both bringing in influential overseas acts and placing a firm focus on local talent, this year’s line-up is set to impress. Dynamic electronic act RÜFÜS DU SOL and genre-bending popstar FKA Twigs headline this year’sCarriageworks program while the warehouse party of the year, Curve Ball curated by Fuzzy Events returns featuring Hayden James, Touch Sensitive and Mallrat. The City Recital Hall presents four musically diverse highlights including Australian music legend Paul Kelly and leading Australian composer James Ledger performing thirteen new songs and soundscapes inspired by birds, pop-darling Kate Miller-Heidke, internationally acclaimed pianists ZOFO and Concertos on Fire. Vivid LIVE at the Sydney Opera House celebrates artists at the cutting edge of their genre and visionaries who create on their own terms. British alternative rock pioneers The Cure mark the 30th anniversary of their landmark album Disintegration with four sold-out Australian exclusive performances. Their compatriots, UK electronic titans Underworld are set to transform the Concert Hall into a euphoric dance floor with four exclusive shows, while rising American synth-pop star Maggie Rogers makes her Sydney Opera House debut bringing her singular fusion of melodic folk and percussive beats to showcase her incredible new record, Heard It in a Past Life. Acclaimed singer songwriter Sharon Van Etten also sails in for an electrifying one-night-only performance and legendary jazz ground-breaker Herbie Hancock’s only Sydney show will be unmissable. 2019 marks X|Celerate’s third big year and partnership between the City of Sydney and Destination NSW supporting the ongoing growth of Sydney’s thriving music scene. 23 inner city venues including a hair salon, church and brewery showcase emerging grassroots acts across every imaginable genre, with acts like The Catholics, Set Mo, Carlotta and I Know Leopard, while Heaps Gay returns for the Qweens Ball at the Sydney Town Hall. Vivid Art After Hours returns to the Art Gallery of NSW with the fused Vivid Ideas and Music program on Wednesday evenings. Catch Andrew Bukenya’s Do the Spike Thing, OKENYO taking a sonic deep dive into the human condition andJZ Lunar Capsule presenting an Astronaut’s Playlist celebrating the music of space travellers as imagined by the Apollo 11 astronauts 50 years ago. VIVID SYDNEY SPONSORS Vivid Sydney thanks its sponsors for their support of Vivid Sydney 2019. American Express returns as partner for the third consecutive year with the American Express Lounge at Cruise Bar as well as supporting the Vivid Sydney Volunteer Program. Samsung Electronics Australia and official energy partner TransGrid also return as partners with Pixar Animation Studios joining as partner for the first time. Supporters include City of Sydney, Sydney Opera House, Technical Direction Company and 32 Hundred Lighting and ICC Sydney. For the third year, Vivid Sydney’s Access and Inclusion Partner is Cushman & Wakefield and the festival continues its sustainability partnership with the Banksia Foundation and Informed 365. Vivid Sydney’s collaborators include Art Gallery of NSW, Australian Museum, BEMO, Carriageworks, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Event Engineering, Kennards Hire, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, PropMill, Spinifex Group, State Library NSW. The official charity party is the Royal Flying Doctor Service, South Eastern Section. The full 2019 Vivid Sydney media kit, program announcement and high-res imagery including 2019 Vivid Sydney light renders and broadcast quality video footage of 2018 festival highlights, are available to download at www.vividsydney.com/media-centre Media Enquiries Nathan McIlroy, The Mint Partners 0421 668 440 Jo Hocking, Destination NSW 0429 507 328 World Social Work Day: Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships 2019-03-18T20:34:43Z world-social-work-day-promoting-the-importance-of-human-relationships World Social Work Day is held each year on the third Tuesday of March to celebrate the profession of social work and the role of social workers in the community. This year’s theme is Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships. This year, it is held on 19 March. The Australian Association of Social Workers, as the professional body representing more than 11,000 social workers, is marking World Social Work Day with celebrations throughout Australia. AASW National President Christine Craik said human relationships are at the essence of what social workers do, in the diversity of settings in which they work. Ms Craik said, “The vital work of social workers can be seen in a wide variety of settings. Whether we work in health, mental health, schools, child protection, aged care, disability, family violence, academia or management, we bring the values of our profession to wherever we work.” In a world dominated by individualism and the changing nature of community, it is necessary to emphasise the importance of our relationships to one another and the role that this plays in creating an inclusive and supportive society. Ms Craik said, “This is at the heart of the work we do. Promoting the importance of human relationships means recognising the rights and dignity of fellow human beings and treating them and their ways of knowing, with respect and compassion. “Promoting the importance of human relationships for social workers means more than just that phrase. As social workers, we work to identify, name and change the systems and attitudes in our society that impact, diminish and work against healthy relationships. “For example, in promoting the importance of human relationships, we need to call out and advocate against the discriminatory and abusive policies and structures that continue to oppress some of the most vulnerable groups in society. “These include our welfare, housing, legal, medical, political and many of our religious systems – that often disregard the importance and crucial nature of ‘relationship’ in this work.” The large scope of social work practice can be seen in the diversity of the celebrations taking place across Australia. The Association is hosting celebrations in every state and territory through its branches. The complete list of events, resources, posters and social media frames are available on the AASW website. Ms Craik said, “I encourage everyone to engage with this year’s theme of Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships. On 19 March, join our Twitter campaign and tweet us using #WSWD19, with a photo depicting human relationships. “So join social workers all over the world in celebrating the amazing work that we do, and have a happy World Social Work Day.” Christine Craik is available for interview. You can view Ms Craik’s World Social Work Day video on Facebook. AASW South Australian Branch calls for Social Worker of the Year nominations 2019-03-08T00:40:31Z aasw-south-australian-branch-calls-for-social-worker-of-the-year-nominations The Australian Association of Social Workers South Australian Branch is seeking nominations for the Social Worker of the Year Awards to give individuals and groups who work with the state’s most vulnerable populations a chance to shine. AASW South Australian Branch President Patricia Muncey said, “We urge South Australians to nominate an inspiring social worker in their network, to honour and reward those making positive contributions health and well-being and upholding best practice across our community.” The Awards have been recognising social workers who are making a significant contribution across the broad spectrum of practice, since 2016. The categories of the Award are: Agent of Change Head, Heart and Hands Leading the Way in the Workplace Rising Star Rural and Remote Impact Student of the Year. Entries can be submitted by the general public as well as professionals who work alongside social workers throughout South Australia. Nominations close on Wednesday, 13 March 2019 at 5.00pm ACDT. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Adelaide on Thursday, 2 May, providing an opportunity to celebrate the valuable contributions of all nominees. For more information and to nominate a social worker, see the AASW website. Balance for Better: Social workers call for action on gender inequality 2019-03-07T23:21:33Z balance-for-better-social-workers-call-for-action-on-gender-inequality The 2019 theme of International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter, with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) calling for action on gender inequality. AASW National President Christine Craik said gender equality is vital to health and future of our nation, and to the work of social workers. Ms Craik said, “We need to recognise that when women are disadvantaged, we are all poorer. “Social workers feel the effects of gender inequality both professionally and personally. Professionally, we strive to address the effects of gender inequality with the people and communities we work with at an individual and a systems level. “Personally, social work is also a female dominated profession. It is a highly skilled occupation which can often carry elements of risk in practice. However, like many other female dominated professions, social work is often not paid at the rate of similar male dominated professions, nor does it come with the status of male dominated professions that carry the same risks and the same (or often lower) qualification levels. Social workers well understand the need to Balance for Better. “Australia’s report card for gender equality is not looking good. More women than ever before are being incarcerated around Australia for crimes of poverty and through living lives influenced by trauma, family violence and sexual abuse. “There is an alarming increase in homelessness for women and children as a result of family violence and for women over the age of 55, many of whom find themselves with little in the way of superannuation or savings, due to their years of unpaid and uncounted work of caring and child-rearing. Government policies such as the Centrelink automated debt recovery scheme, robodebt, and the ParentsNext program are punitive, deficit-based and are contributing to increasing numbers of women and children living in poverty. “If we are to Balance for Better this International Women’s Day, then we must address the root causes of inequality and the misogynistic and discriminatory policies which devalue and fail women. If these are not addressed, then the inequitable situation we currently have will continue to enable the unacceptable rates of family violence, sexual violence, poverty, and homelessness that we see now. “This starts with recognising women as equals and that the work women do is of equal value to that of men, whether it is paid or unpaid. It means recognising that women need to be in positions of power, including on boards and in government. “Then we will truly be able to Balance for Better.” Christine Craik is available for interview. Mitcham hand therapist returns home from volunteering in West Africa 2019-03-04T01:10:38Z mitcham-hand-therapist-returns-home-from-volunteering-in-west-africa Wednesday 27 February 2019: Mitcham occupational therapist Jane Frisken has returned home after spending three months volunteering in West Africa. Mrs Frisken said it was the blessing of her good education and the opportunity to be part of the recovery process for patients in need that motivated her to join the Mercy Ships organisation on board their hospital ship. “It was the first time I have been to Africa and I was travelling alone so the trip was quite an adventure.” “My luggage went missing but so many terrific people on board assured me that it would turn up and, sure enough, it appeared five days later!” The Africa Mercy arrived in the port city of Conakry, Guinea, in August 2018 with plans to provide 2,500 life-changing surgeries on board, treat over 8,000 people at a land-based dental clinic and provide health care training to local medical professionals during 10 months in port. “I worked as a hand therapist with the rehabilitation team and plastic surgeons.” “This involved providing therapy for children and adults who had plastic surgery. Many of these people have sustained severe burns and have not had access to safe, affordable, and timely care.” “My work with numerous plastic surgery units and a couple of burns units in Australia was a great background for this role on the ship.” “I felt very much needed and appreciated by the team I worked with, as well as by the patients and their relatives.” Mrs Frisken said the people of Guinea face many challenges but are happy people with a great sense of family and community. “One of the outstanding memories for me is being part of the plastic surgery screening day and watching a father carry his son in, sit down in front of us, then weep with relief and happiness that finally his son was getting some help.” “Mercy is all about love in action and I saw this happening all around me in huge ways every day.” “Even though I don’t know French, and definitely don’t know the village languages, we had an amazing team of local people helping us as translators.” “The Guineans love music and dancing. I’ve never before worked in a hospital where I can sing and dance with patients each morning!” With great support from friends and family at home in Melbourne, including her husband and three adult children, Mrs Frisken left the ship with an eye on returning in the future. “During my first few days on board so many people asked, ‘So when are you coming back?’” “It was incredibly hard to leave my patients and the ship community.” “I won’t know the outcome for some of my patients, but I do know that they are all so thankful for the love and compassion they’ve experienced on board.” END About Mercy Ships  Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development aid to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1.3 billion, with more than 2.6 million direct beneficiaries. Each year, more than 1,200 volunteers from over 40 nations serve with Mercy Ships. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. Mercy Ships Australia, one of 16 international support offices, is based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. For more information, visit www.mercyships.org.au Notes to Editors High resolution photos of Mercy Ships are available upon request, with attribution to Mercy Ships. For more information, please contact: Melissa MasonNational Office ManagerMercy Ships Australia(07) 5437 2992melissa.mason@mercyships.org TechnologyOne brightens the lives of children in energy poverty with ‘SolarBuddy’ Partnership 2019-02-14T10:17:14Z technologyone-brightens-the-lives-of-children-in-energy-poverty-with-solarbuddy-partnership BRISBANE, Australia - Thursday 14 March: TechnologyOne (ASX:TNE) has partnered with charitable organisation SolarBuddy, to work towards the technology company’s goal of alleviating 500,000 children and their families from poverty.   TechnologyOne CEO, Ed Chung said the TechnologyOne Foundation is committed to making a difference to underprivileged and at-risk youths, by empowering them to transform their lives.  “The Foundation’s goal is to provide young people with every opportunity to positively impact the future,” Mr Chung said.   “We’ve set an ambitious goal of freeing 500,000 children and their families from poverty, and while TechnologyOne can help with much needed funding and thousands of volunteering days each year, it’s the amazing work of our strategic charity partners that is truly making an impact.”   The driving initiative of the TechnologyOne Foundation is the 1% pledge, where the company has committed to donating 1% of time, 1% of profit and 1% of product.   To fulfil the 1% profit pledge, the TechnologyOne Foundation donates 1% of its annual profit to charity partners. It is through this 1% profit commitment that the Foundation has partnered with SolarBuddy.   SolarBuddy’s mission is to help improve the educational opportunities of six million children living in energy poverty by 2030, by providing them with a SolarBuddy solar light to study with after dusk.   Next month, TechnologyOne and SolarBuddy have set a goal to build upon the 900 lights already donated, with an additional 70 lights for children in need at NZ Downstream, New Zealand’s premier event for the downstream energy sector. The partners will take their program on the road to build another 70 lights at UDIA National Developer Congress on Queensland’s Gold Coast at the end of March.   “The gift of a SolarBuddy solar light helps children living in energy poverty to continue studying long after the sun goes down improving their education outcomes and overall health and wellbeing,” said Simon Doble, CEO & Founder of SolarBuddy.   “Children also spend less time collecting firewood for cooking and heating and instead spend more time attending class, preparing for exams and completing homework assignments. Early stage evaluations indicate that a child with access to a solar light will study 78% longer each day.   “This key partnership will empower and educate the next generation towards a more sustainable and energy efficient future, whilst giving the gift of light to children living in energy poverty,” Doble added.   - Ends - About TechnologyOne   TechnologyOne (ASX:TNE) is Australia's largest enterprise Software as a Service (SaaS) company and one of Australia's top 200 ASX-listed companies, with offices across six countries. Our enterprise SaaS solution transforms business and makes life simple for our customers by providing powerful, deeply integrated enterprise software that is incredibly easy to use. Over 1,200 leading corporations, government departments and statutory authorities are powered by our software. Our global SaaS solution provides deep functionality for the markets we serve: local government, government, education, health and community services, asset intensive industries and financial services. For these markets we invest significant funds each year in R&D. We also take complete responsibility to market, sell, implement, support and run our solutions for our customers, which reduce time, cost and risk. For over 30 years, we have been providing our customers with enterprise software that evolves and adapts to new and emerging technologies, allowing our customers to focus on their business and not technology. For further information, please visit: TechnologyOneCorp.com Download images from TechnologyOne’s image library here: https://technologyonecorp.com/about-us/media/image-gallery Australian social workers welcome the Victorian Government’s plan to ban ‘conversion therapy’ 2019-02-07T00:17:51Z australian-social-workers-welcome-the-victorian-governments-plan-to-ban-conversion-therapy As the Victorian Branch of the Australian Association of Social Workers took to the streets on Sunday to support LGBTIQ Victorians at the Midsumma Pride March, the Association welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement that it plans to outlaw ‘conversion therapy’. The harmful and thoroughly debunked practice aims to change, suppress or eliminate an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. While the practice is not outlawed, it sends a message that LGBTIQ individuals are not ‘normal’ and need to be fixed. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “These messages do so much damage and need to be stopped. We stand with LGBTIQ Australians and support the Victorian Government’s stance on banning conversion therapy. This planned ban follows an extensive investigation into conversion practices by the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC), who found those subjected to this so-called ‘therapy’ experienced long-term psychological harm and distress. This is something that social workers and other mental health professionals have known for many years. “The Victorian Government’s announcement sends a clear and positive message to young people who may be dealing with the stress and anxiety of knowing they are same-sex attracted and the social pressures that are associated with it in an unaccepting environment. “We call on other Australian states and territories to follow Victoria’s lead in outlawing the practice. We further call on the Australian Government to support the states and territories by fully funding the Safe Schools Program, which aims to create understanding and stop the bullying and marginalisation of LGBTIQ children and young people in schools. “The Australian Government must also make clear that discrimination against employees or students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity will not be tolerated. “We all have a role in taking a stand against homophobia, including internalised homophobia, which is when LGBTIQ individuals can sometimes believe the homophobic messages and attitudes around them. It causes needless harm and division in communities and can lead to poorer health and wellbeing outcomes in LGBTIQ individuals, which we have seen is sometimes fatal. “This is why the Victorian Government’s announcement is so important – it is a welcome step in continuing to affirm the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ Australians.” Christine Craik is available for interview. Media contact Angela Yin Communications Lead P 03 9320 1005 M 0413 532 954 World Leprosy Day Outreach and Special Report Spotlight ‘Healing Touch’ Ministry to Asia’s Marginalized 2019-01-25T04:10:44Z world-leprosy-day-outreach-and-special-report-spotlight-healing-touch-ministry-to-asia-s-marginalized Toowoomba, QLD—GFA (Gospel for Asia, www.gfaau.org) is spotlighting its efforts to bridge the historic social gulf caused by the disfiguring disease that leaves sufferers disadvantaged and often despised—one outstretched arm at a time As GFA-supported workers prepare a series of events offering hands-on care to sufferers across Asia, to mark World Leprosy Day, Sunday, Jan. 27, the organization is also publishing a special report (https://www.gfa.ca/special-report/what-is-leprosy) on worldwide efforts to eradicate the disease.    The latest in an in-depth series of GFA reports addressing key global issues, “Leprosy: Misunderstandings and Stigma Keep it Alive” examines how leprosy continues to see those infected shunned despite breakthroughs in treatment, and the fact that most people are naturally immune to the disease.   Though there have been significant medical advances, more than 210,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2016—the majority of them in India. Millions more around the world are suspected to be infected but are not yet symptomatic because the disease’s incubation period is so long.     While doctors and scientists continue to work on prevention and treatment, GFA-supported workers are providing practical and emotional help to those affected. Often losing fingers and toes because leprosy’s nerve damage means they are unaware of infection and injury, many sufferers are left physically unable to work, or as a result of being shunned.   Through associated local churches and members of its Sisters of Compassion ministry, specially trained women missionaries, GFA helps provide practical care, from cooking and cleaning to bathing and dressing wounds. As well as providing physical help, these healing touches also seek to tend to emotional wounds by demonstrating to leprosy sufferers that they have not been rejected.   “When we were completely lost and dejected, Christ came to us and lived among us,” said GFA founder Dr. K.P. Yohannan. “By serving these precious people who happen to be afflicted with leprosy, we are not doing anything extraordinary or special. We are simply extending the love that was first given to us.”    GFA’s ministry also endeavors to release patients from the guilt many carry because, the report notes, over the centuries many have believed the disease is the result of some great sin of theirs.   “Eliminating discrimination and false conceptions of leprosy is key to eliminating the disease itself,” the reports  adds. All too frequent are “the stories of men and women abandoned by their spouses, in-laws, or even kicked out of their homes by their children.”   The World Leprosy Day outreaches are being arranged in addition to GFA’s ongoing ministry to care for patients. GFA-supported workers have reached thousands of leprosy patients since the Reaching Friends Ministry, as it is called, began in 2007. They visit some of the isolated colonies in which many patients are forced to live, often cut off from the rest of the world.    “We thought we would name the ministry differently, where they won’t have to remember their sickness or feel the stigma of it,” said Tarik, the pastor who helped launched the initiative. “We thought, ‘Let us call them “friends” because they have been created in the image of God, like us. It is only the sickness that keeps them different, but let us not make that a barrier. Let us accept them as friends.’ ”   Among the Sisters of Compassion reaching out is Sakshi, a former leprosy sufferer whose story is shared in the report: at one time she considered suicide because of her despair. Receiving treatment and care, and coming to faith through Reaching Friends Ministry, she now offers help and hope to others.   “Nobody wants to love them, hug them or to come near to them to dress them,” said Sakshi. “They have so many inner pains in their heart, because they also are human beings. They also need love, care and encouragement from other people.”      Observed internationally each year on the last Sunday in January, to raise public awareness of the disease, World Leprosy Day is marked on Jan 30 in India, to commemorate the death of leader Mahatma Gandhi, who championed concern and care for sufferers.    # # #   GFA  www.gfaau.org has – for more than 30 years ‒ provided humanitarian assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially among those who have yet to hear the Good News. In 2017, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,000 wells drilled, over 11,000 water filters installed, Christmas presents for more than 200,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. ‘Forgotten Christmas’ Campaign Helps Raise Struggling Families Above Poverty Line in Asia 2018-12-19T01:16:57Z forgotten-christmas-campaign-helps-raise-struggling-families-above-poverty-line-in-asia TOOWOOMBA, Queensland—As holiday shopping in North America is predicted to top $1 trillion this year, GFA World (formerly Gospel for Asia www.gfaau.org) is urging Christians to make the season more Christ-centred by adding someone they don't know to their gift list. GFA's "Forgotten Christmas" campaign (www.forgottenchristmas.ca) gives an opportunity to churches and individuals to provide practical gifts, including income-generating resources that can help lift a family out of poverty in Asia, where millions struggle to survive below the $1.90-a-day poverty line.    The centre piece of the effort is a touching three-minute video drama which follows a young American boy as he provides desperately needed groceries for a struggling couple in his neighbourhood.   "Christmas is about so much more than just presents," viewers are told. "Let's bring Christmas back to what it's really meant to be about: giving hope to others. Why not go further than just next door? Make an impact around the world this Christmas."   They can do that through GFA World’s Christmas Gift Catalogue (www.gfaau.org/gift), which features almost 40 different giving opportunities.   For just $11—the price of three eggnog lattes—a pair of chickens can improve a family's financial situation by breeding more birds that can be sold, or through the sale of their eggs. Other poverty-breaking gifts include a lamb for $65, a sewing machine for $85, and teaching someone to read for $25.   "There is so much to enjoy in the Christmas season, but it is easy to lose sight of the real meaning, if we are not careful," said GFA founder Dr. K.P. Yohannan. "Christmas is about Jesus coming into the world, showing us God's love in tangible form.   "Through a simple gift that can completely change their circumstances, we can demonstrate his love to those struggling in poverty. We can show them that they may have been forgotten by the world, but they have not been forgotten by God or his people."   GFA World hopes that in this 12th year of “Forgotten Christmas,” churches and individuals around the globe will join them in seeing families in Asia  receive help to rise above the poverty line. Last year, GFA and its supporters helped more than 230,000 families receive income-generating presents.   One GFA supporter who provides help through the gift catalogue each year said: "What a wonderful way to invest treasure into some of the poorest of the poor—a way that gives them new opportunities for self-support and dignity and demonstrates God's love for them.”  # # #   GFA World (www.gfaau.org) has – for nearly 40 years ‒ provided humanitarian assistance and spiritual hope to millions in Asia, especially among those who have yet to hear the Good News. Last year, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,000 wells drilled, over 11,000 water filters installed, Christmas presents for more than 200,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. Australian social workers support the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, calls on government to restore Australia’s place as a human rights leader 2018-12-09T23:37:49Z australian-social-workers-support-the-70th-anniversary-of-the-un-declaration-of-human-rights-calls-on-government-to-restore-australias-place-as-a-human-rights-leader On the 70th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Australian Association of Social Workers calls on the government to take serious action to fulfil its human rights commitments. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The AASW continues to have serious concerns over Australia’s breach of human rights, including the treatment of people seeking asylum, and the systems abuses of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and children, including their overrepresentation in the justice system. “Article One of the declaration tells us that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’, and although Australia prides itself on values of respect, dignity and compassion, it is clear the Australian government is failing in this regard. “For example, Indigenous Australians are 13 times more likely to be imprisoned, often for minor offences like unpaid fines[1], than the rest of the Australian population, and Aboriginal women are the fastest growing prisoner demographic in Australia[2]. “Furthermore, despite being a signatory to many UN conventions that protect human rights, the Australian government appears undeterred by repeated calls by the UN to end offshore ‘processing’ of people seeking asylum. Not only this, we have people who have been held in indefinite closed onshore detention for almost 10 years. “Social workers see first-hand the devastating consequences of government policies that neglect the freedoms provided by the Human Rights Declaration. “People are sick of the political rhetoric and cruelty of the Australian government around people seeking asylum, and they are using their vote to show it, as we have seen in recent by-elections. This is very much an election issue now, and if the government isn’t willing to act on this as a humanitarian issue then perhaps the threat of losing office will move them to action. The election is an important time for those in all political parties to show moral leadership, honour our legacy of compassion and not pander to the politics of fear and racism.” As social workers, we will continue to advocate against human rights violations and look forward to the day when the Australian Government stops exploiting the public’s fear, misconceptions and prejudices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, asylum seekers and refugees for political gain, and becomes a global leader for human rights. The AASW represents over 11,000 professional social workers from around Australia. Christine Craik is an Ambassador for Kids off Nauru. Christine Craik is available for interview. [1] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/australia [2] Ibid. Local adoption report published: A time to recommit to the best interests and cultural rights of Indigenous children 2018-11-27T00:44:37Z local-adoption-report-published-a-time-to-recommit-to-the-best-interests-and-cultural-rights-of-indigenous-children The Australian Association of Social Workers’ (AASW) submission to the Federal Government’s review into local adoptions has been cited in the report which was published yesterday, Breaking barriers: a national adoption framework for Australian children. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The report marks an important time for governments to refocus and recommit to upholding the best interests of children in all adoption matters. “Children and young people in the care of the State are amongst the most vulnerable members of society. Adoption must only be considered when all other options for the child’s safety and wellbeing have been expertly assessed as not suitable.” AASW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Representative Director, Linda Ford said, “In ensuring their safety and wellbeing, attention must be paid to the child’s holistic needs. When working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the AASW contends that planning must be culturally appropriate, with a focus upon the child maintaining connection with their family, culture and other significant relationships. “With the rate of removal of Indigenous children being 10 times that of non-Indigenous children, the pain and trauma of removal of Indigenous children cannot be consigned to the past. “The system’s focus upon punitive removal measures has profound negative consequences, severing family and cultural ties, intensifying transgenerational trauma and contributing to the ongoing dispossession, disadvantage and oppression experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. “For cases where removal is in the best interests of the child, systemic change is needed to address barriers and lack of support available to Aboriginal families that could foster or adopt. Areas for change include the need to amend the inherent bias and discrimination in application forms that demand a certain literacy and education level for applicants. Factors such as these do not determine an individual’s capacity to provide a safe and caring home.” Ms Craik said, “It is governments’ responsibility to support families to live in safe environments, stopping the risk of abuse and neglect before it arises. “With 17 per cent of total child protection funding on family support services for children and their families, compared with 83 per cent on child protection services, the AASW calls on the government to focus efforts on early intervention and family support that are built on partnership and collaboration with Indigenous communities.” The AASW calls on governments to commit and redirect funding to supporting and working with Indigenous communities and families to ensure the rights and needs of every child is upheld. The AASW represents over 10,000 professional social workers from around Australia, many of whom work in child protection. Christine Craik and Linda Ford are available for interview. International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: 25 November #HearMeToo 2018-11-21T01:43:44Z international-day-for-the-elimination-of-violence-against-women-25-november-hearmetoo The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) supports the theme of this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is this Sunday 25 November, #HearMeToo. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “This has been yet another shocking year for violence against women in Australia, with 60 women killed in 2018. Many more are living with, or have survived family violence. “We also know that for many women, for many reasons, it’s not possible to speak. To those women, whose names we may never have the privilege of knowing, we take this occasion to say that we hear you, too; and that we notice the wisdom, the courage and the survival in your silence. “But let this not be another occasion on which women speak only to each other about the devastating consequences of gendered violence. To those who cause harm: we believe in your capacity to change. Only you are accountable to your choice to use violence, and to the pain and fear inflicted in the lives of women and their children. Only you are responsible for seeking support for your behaviour. Today, we implore you to seek support. “To those in positions of power, capable of beginning the huge cultural change we need in our society to end this violence against women, today we also implore you to have the courage and enact that change. “Australian social workers are committed to having a strong voice on matters of social justice and human rights, which is why, importantly, we want to remind Australian governments that gendered violence is common, but it is not inevitable. Gendered violence is a systemic issue, driven by gendered inequality, and it can be addressed by cultural change. “This can only occur when there is a concerted effort, and adequate investment, toward that end. We need a national coordination of prevention, early intervention, crisis and recovery. This is what we are calling on Australian governments to commit to today. As more and more women come forward to speak truth to power, to say ‘hear me, too’, we ask that governments be responsive to the building tide of social change; that one day, the leadership of this country might be able to say, ‘we did’.” Christine Craik is available for interview. She is a renowned expert in family violence and completing her PhD in the subject at RMIT University.