The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2020-02-24T08:17:38Z The Greatest (Dog) Show on Earth! 2020-02-24T08:17:38Z the-greatest-dog-show-on-earth The Surfing Dog Championship, held as part of the Noosa Festival of Surfing, is undoubtedly the most anticipated event of the entire festival, last year drawing a crowd of over 6,500 dog lovers. This weekend,  Sunday, 1st March at 1:30pm, 10 talented dogs and their owners will take to the waves of First Point, Noosa Heads, all vying for the Best Wave Award. Long-time sponsor of the event, VetShopAustralia, has once again teamed up with Simparica to promote the importance of waterproof parasite protection and overall pet health. VetShopAustralia head veterinarian, Dr. Mark Perissinotto said “VetShopAustralia and Simparica are committed to nurturing the pet and pet-parent bond through fun outdoor activities such as the Australian Surfing Dog Championships. “An ideal partner for Australia’s premier dog surfing event, Simparica is a flea, tick, mange and mite tasty chew. “It shuts the door on flea and tick infestations, making it a great choice for outdoor adventures and waterproof parasite protection – it’s that simple.” The 2020 Surfing Dog Championship will see the return of crowd favourites Rob and Spike who travel up from Melbourne every year to compete. “Spike turns from casual family dog into hyper hound when he sees a glimpse of the beach and will no doubt want to get his paws submerged and on the trophy one more time,” owner Rob Lorenzon said. Adopted from the Lost Dogs Home in Anglesea, Victoria, seven years ago and soaking up a second chance at life, Spike, a Kelpie x Border Collie x Ridgeback and his master, are super stoked to be part of this year’s event. “Together we share the thrill of catching waves and I think that makes us a team to look out for.” 2019 champions Chris and Banjo are also returning to the water in the hope of retaining their crown. ‘Mr Dog Surf’ himself, Chris de Aboitiz and his loyal companions Max and Rama will no doubt wow the crowd with new stunts and surprises, and if weather allows, rise above the waves on a hydrofoil-mounted surfboard. Indie and Anna, the dynamically stylish Hawaiian lei wearing duo, Hugs the Labrador x pin-up hound, head down rump raised Gold Coast rider Porkchop, along with newbie and the youngest ever hydro hound competitor at only 8 months old Kai, are all chomping at the bone to be part of this year’s lineup. For photos, videos and additional information visit . SydWest Celebrates International Women's Day in Blacktown 2020-02-24T05:10:09Z sydwest-celebrates-international-women-s-day-in-blacktown SydWest Multicultural Services is proud to announce that they will be hosting their International Women’s Day 2020 event at the Blacktown Arts Centre on Friday 6th March from 6pm. The program will feature the launch of Solace, a poetic documentary about the recovery process of three displaced female poets. We learn about the poets in the video through observing their creative process and their production of a group music video clip. SydWest is also pleased to announce that a group of high-profile women will join a Panel Discussion facilitated by Joanna Kalkstein. We will be discussing challenging stereotypes and fighting bias and discrimination, broadening perceptions and improving and celebrating women’s achievements. Our confirmed panellists: ·         Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Greens Senator for NSW ·         Sophie Cotsis MP for Canterbury and Shadow Minister for Better Public Services ·         Clr Carol Israel, Blacktown City Council ·         Clr Reena Jethri, Deputy Mayor of The Hills Shire Council ·         Saba Vasefi, poet, academic, film-maker ·         Elfa Moraitakis, CEO, SydWest Multicultural Services Entertainment during the event will include Hip-Hop artist Kween G, renowned for her potent content, she delivers a dynamic style as an MC, performer and Hip-Hop artist. Kween G makes music that excites, entertains, and enlightens her listeners – often described as “consciousness-raising”. Her fighting spirit – for women’s rights and those in disadvantaged communities – courage and humility have earned her respect across the country. International Women’s Day is an important opportunity for SydWest Multicultural Services to bring together local and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women to share in addressing the very real issue of gender equality and collectively finding solutions and ways forward. We hope that our IWD event will inspire each woman to make change and fight for equality. The event is a wonderful opportunity to network with leaders in the community and make new connections to support ongoing collective change. Many of our guests are also displaced women and this event will hopefully help them in their quest to find their place and identity in our society. Media Release: MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for bushfire victims - Fast-tracked access needed for breakthrough PTSD treatment 2020-02-13T10:30:31Z mdma-assisted-psychotherapy-for-bushfire-victims It is estimated that 800,000 Australians suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental health experts predict this staggering figure will rise sharply as a result of the trauma experienced by families and first responders who have had their lives or safety threatened by the catastrophic bushfires this summer.In response to this mental health crisis, Mind Medicine Australia (MMA) has called for the fast-tracking of access to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of PTSD. MMA is a not-for-profit organisation established to promote the development of research-backed and regulatory-approved Medicine-Assisted Therapy in Australia.Doctors typically treat people who have PTSD with psychotherapy and pharmaceutical medicines. But the medications can often produce unpleasant side effects and show a mere 20%-30% success rate for patients. Exposure therapy is more successful, providing relief from PTSD in around half of cases. However, the treatment process can be long and extremely gruelling, causing many patients to drop out.In contrast, recent clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the United States have shown to relieve PTSD immediately after just three active dose sessions for 54% of participants. A 2018 study specifically in first responders and veterans showed that patients improved further at a 12-month follow up with 67% of them in remission. The results of a separate study showed than an astounding 76% of participants did not meet the clinical diagnostic criteria for PTSD a year after the conclusion of treatment.The research has been so promising that the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted MDMA-assisted psychotherapy Breakthrough Therapy status in 2017. The FDA is expected to give full regulatory approval for the treatment in the next few years after the current Phase 3 trials are completed. Earlier this month, however, an Expanded Access Program was authorised by the FDA that permits the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in the United States this year, ahead of the conclusion of clinical trials. Similarly, Israel, Switzerland, and Canada have recently begun Compassionate Use Schemes that enable PTSD patients to access this therapy.Peter Hunt AM, Chair of MMA, says that Australia needs to follow the lead of these countries quickly. “These medicines have been proven to be very safe when used as part of psychotherapy in a clinically controlled environment. The Australian Therapeutic Goods Act allows the use of medicines which are not listed on the Therapeutic Goods Register under the Special Access Scheme. Australia needs to act now and expedite the availability of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy through this program to relieve the suffering of bushfire victims and others with PTSD.” Tania de Jong AM, Executive Director of MMA, agrees that an urgent shift in approach is needed. “The Australian government has allocated $76 million for distress counselling and mental health support for those affected by the bushfires. Despite the best of intentions, the current treatment methods don’t help all people who have developed PTSD. The evidence shows that MDMA-assisted psychotherapy not only works but, in the long term, will also be highly cost-effective for taxpayers.” Bushfire-affected people who have developed PTSD may experience ongoing feelings of panic or extreme fear. Without effective treatment, the debilitating symptoms can last for many years or even a lifetime. It is a condition that can act as a catalyst in a person for depression, substance abuse, and suicide, and is linked to unemployment, homelessness, and family violence.Statistics show that 10% of first responders have PTSD, and a third of them endure high psychological distress. They have suicidal thoughts at twice the rate of adults in the general population, and one first responder takes his or her own life every six weeks.According to the Productivity Commission’s 2019 Mental Health Report, the total cost of mental illness and suicide to the Australian economy is $180 billion per year.MDMA used in Medicine-Assisted Therapy and within a clinically controlled environment is not the street drug Ecstasy. Substances sold illegally often have adulterants and are usually taken in risky settings with high doses. The medicine is not a cure in itself but a facilitator for the therapeutic process. It decreases activity in the amygdala, part of the brain associated with traumatic memory, and reduces fear and defensiveness while increasing empathy, trust, and safety. Only two or three active dose sessions are needed in contrast to antidepressant treatments that usually require daily medications. Due to the ease of the treatment process, patient adherence rates are much higher with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy compared to other psychotherapies, like exposure therapy. Like MDMA, mounting clinical research indicates that psilocybin, a naturally occurring compound derived from what is colloquially known as magic mushrooms, can provide highly effective solutions for various mental illnesses when used in a clinically controlled environment in conjunction with psychotherapy. Studies show that both these medicines are physiologically safe and are not addictive. Universities that have researched these medicine-assisted psychotherapies include Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, NYU, Imperial College, Yale, and Kings College, among many others.Mind Medicine Australia is co-funding Australia’s first clinical trial of Medicine-Assisted Therapy at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne. Participating palliative care patients experiencing depression and anxiety are being treated with psilocybin. Mind Medicine Australia anticipates that more clinical trials will be announced at major research institutions in Australia soon.MMA was founded by social entrepreneurs Peter Hunt AM and Tania de Jong AM following their successful experience setting up other charities and working with people diagnosed with a mental illness. Visit for comprehensive information about the organisation. For all media enquiries, including interviews and images, please contact: Brad Grimshaw, Communications Consultant E:  M: 0476 230 970 Tania de Jong AM, Executive Director E:  M: 0411 459 999 Religious Freedom Bills potentially undermine Australian values 2020-02-03T03:48:20Z religious-freedom-bills-potentially-undermine-australian-values The AASW calls on the government to halt the introduction of its Religious Freedom Bills into Parliament until the Australian Law Reform Commission finishes its inquiry into religious freedom exemptions in existing anti-discrimination legislation. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “Some of the exemptions contained in the second draft exposure bills have the potential to harm members of the Australian community. “Allowing people to make discriminatory and disrespectful statements of belief under the guise of ‘religious freedom’ undermines all the work Australia has done to become a more tolerant society. “Social work as a profession is underpinned by respect for persons, social justice and professional integrity. These principles reflect an unwavering commitment to human rights and respect for diversity. While we agree that people should have freedom of belief and conscience, people should also be free from discriminatory and disrespectful practices. These bills could undermine gains made in other areas and remove protections from vulnerable groups, including women and the LGBTIQ community.” Social workers know the effects of discrimination on vulnerable people and the AASW opposes any legislation that has the potential to remove existing protections. Ms Craik said, “We are also concerned that this legislation seeks to include faith-based community sector organisations under the umbrella of religious bodies. This mischaracterises the important work this sector does to assist vulnerable people of all backgrounds and underestimates their commitment to non-discriminatory practices and their professionalism. “We know many of our members are employed within these organisations. They are employed because of their qualifications and expertise as social workers, not because of their religious beliefs.” This legislation is ill-considered in its current form. Ms Craik said, “The Australian Law Reform Commission is due to release its findings in December 2020. We urge the government not to proceed with any new religious anti-discrimination legislation until this review is complete.” MEDIA RELEASE: Changes to LifeTec’s Service Model 2020-01-31T01:10:21Z media-release-changes-to-lifetec-s-service-model Friday, 31st January 2020 Consumer directed care reforms have resulted in many benefits for consumers and our sector. These reforms have also seen new consumer expectations emerge which have led to many providers, including LifeTec, making changes to their service model to better meet peoples’ wants and needs. A significant shift we have experienced is consumers’ preference to receive services at their place of residence rather than at LifeTec’s premises. In response we have increased the mobility of our health professionals to enable them to provide more services to consumers at a time and place of the consumers’ convenience. This means that many of our clinical consultations, including the trialling of relevant assistive technology equipment, now take place in peoples’ place of residence. This new approach has resulted in changes to LifeTec’s Brisbane office in Newmarket, which are designed to better meet peoples’ expectations. Although LifeTec will remain in the same Newmarket premises we have been at since 2006, our office will be reduced in size and will no longer provide a dedicated assistive technology equipment display. We expect renovations will be completed by early February 2020. There are no planned changes to LifeTec’s Townsville premises at this stage. It is important to confirm that LifeTec will continue to provide valuable assistive technology services that have assisted thousands of people achieve their needs and aspirations over the past 40 years. These include LifeTec’s Information Services and Clinical Consultations Services. Our Information Services will continue to assist people obtain expert advice on assistive technology via our information line, assistive technology fact sheets, the National Equipment Database and via education and training programs. Our Clinical Consultation Services will continue to see our experienced and friendly health professionals assist people to choose the most suitable assistive technology to achieve their aspirations via LifeTec’s evidence-based pathway - Imagine Seek Choose Live. Our friendly staff would be pleased to assist you to live your potential. Feel free to access LifeTec’s services in any of the following ways: Information Services Assistive technology information line – call 1300 543 383 or email us at National Equipment Database – visit  Education and Training requests – call 1300 543 383 or email us at  Clinical Consultation Services LifeTec provides specialist consultations in the following areas: Assistive technology assessment and trial Augmentative and Alternative Communication assessment and trial Complex Home Modifications To book a consultation service please contact LifeTec on 1300 543 383 or email us at . Alternatively, you can complete a referral request by visiting us at We look forward to assisting you achieve your goals and aspirations. Regards James BarrientosChief Executive OfficerLifeTec Australia PDF Download - Media Release: Changes to LifeTec Service Model ----- END ----- For further information media contact:Wol Thiik – Business Development & Marketing Manager – Girl Guides calls for volunteers to support the next generation of Australian women 2020-01-30T23:45:57Z girl-guides-calls-for-volunteers-to-support-the-next-generation-of-australian-women-1 Girl Guides NSW, ACT & NT, one of the largest organisations in Australia dedicated to supporting girls and young women, are calling for more volunteers to play a vital role in the organisation by sharing their experiences and wisdom with the Girl Guide Community. After the success of the A Place To Grow campaign in May 2019, memberships significantly increased creating a need to recruit volunteers. State Commissioner, Sarah Neill said that volunteering is not only about helping others, studies have shown volunteering helps increase your health, happiness and sense of fulfilment. “From our own research – Girl Guides NSW, ACT & NT Insights Research 2018 – we know that our volunteers are making lifelong friends, gaining personal fulfilment, develop a sense of belonging and learn new skills,” Girl Guides NSW, ACT & NT, offer a range of flexible volunteering positions available to suit different schedules and needs. “When considering becoming a volunteer, we encourage people to choose a position that reflects one of their passions and/or experience; to add greater value to the team, the girls and gain personal satisfaction,” said Mrs Neill. NT Region Manager, Letitia Baldwin, who has been involved in Girl Guides for 16 years said, “We are constantly looking for volunteers with unique passions to share them with our community. It is incredibly important for volunteers to love what they are doing as this provides the greatest benefit to our girls.” District Manager, Tegan McAnulty, has been a member of the Guiding community for 22 years both as a Guide and a Leader. When asked why she has been a part of Guiding for so long, her answer is simple. “The biggest opportunity – at the heart of the Girl Guiding movement, is the girls we work with; it’s the greatest privilege,” said Ms McAnulty. Tegan has participated in the recruitment campaign with other Leaders sharing their experiences as a volunteer. View the recruitment video series here: With all these amazing benefits and the start of a new year, why not become a volunteer? -ends- Notes to editor: Girl Guides NSW, ACT & NT are devoted to the growth and development of girls. They provide a place where girls can learn, build their skills and connect with like-minded peers. The benefits also extend to the volunteers who play a vital role in supporting the girls. Guides work to serve their community and support those in need by offering to help where they can. They participate in many local activities and initiatives aimed at giving back to the community. Girl Guides NSW, ACT & NT offers girls, women and volunteers A Place To Grow. For Media Enquiries please contact: Simone Gur | ZADRO Agency | | 0417 778 511 Oakley Grioli I ZADRO Agency I | 02 9212 7867 IMAGES Images are available for use. For high-resolution images, please contact: Image: Girl Guides at Lark in the Park, Sydney, 2019. Image: Volunteers at Lord Mayor’s Picnic. Image: Recruitment Campaign Artwork. Vision Direct Donates Proceeds of Sales to WWF’s Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund 2020-01-23T11:59:16Z vision-direct-donates-proceeds-of-sales-to-wwf-s-australian-wildlife-and-nature-recovery-fund The drought that has hit Australia over the last few months has been one of the most extreme ever experienced. Temperatures have soared to over 40 degrees and bushfires have spread rapidly across the entire country. So far 29 people have lost their lives, an estimated 1.25 billion animals have perished and hundreds of homes, as well as millions of hectares of Australian land, have been destroyed. Despite the heavy rains, the crisis is far from over with two months still left of the bushfire season.  To help contribute to the relief effort, Australian online eyewear retailer Vision Direct will be donating all proceeds of sales from the Arise Collective brand for a limited period of time. The fundraiser will run from Australia Day (January 26th) until the end of the month.  “We are deeply saddened by the tragedy unfolding in Australia. As a partner of WWF-Australia, we are honoured to be able to contribute to its tireless efforts through our own sales campaign,” said David Menning, Co-CEO of Vision Direct and a native Australian. Vision Direct and WWF-Australia recently partnered to produce ReefCycle with the Arise Collective brand. The sunglasses were made from an upcycled gill net retrieved from the Great Barrier Reef.  “Social responsibility is part of our DNA as we believe in driving positive change in the world. As such, it is important for us that we stand by and support our local community by raising awareness and reinforcing our partnership through these actions. Our thoughts and prayers are with those that have been affected and we look forward to contributing financially to WWF-Australia.” Many other Australian businesses are also assisting in bushfire relief efforts to help raise awareness of the extent of the damage, as well as donating proceeds of sales.  For more ways to support the Australian wildlife and community, read more here. Bushfire Recovery Access Program: Accredited Mental Health Social Workers ready to provide mental health support under new regime 2020-01-17T02:45:05Z bushfire-recovery-access-program-accredited-mental-health-social-workers-ready-to-provide-mental-health-support-under-new-regime The AASW welcomes the Bushfire Recovery Access Program that comes into effect today and will see people affected by the bushfires, including first responders, receive vital mental health supports. The impact of the unprecedented bushfire crisis of 2019-2020 on people’s wellbeing cannot be underestimated and it is important people access help, if they so choose, to better enable them to prepare for the long-term recovery effort. As of today, the Bushfire Recovery Access Program will be rolled out by Medicare and includes 10 immediate counselling sessions and access to more sessions without requiring a GP referral, among other initiatives. Face-to-face or telehealth services can be accessed depending on people’s location and circumstances. Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) are among those who can deliver these services and they have significant expertise in assessment and providing supports with a wide range of complex mental health needs, including grief, loss, trauma, and bereavement. AASW National President Cristine Craik said, “AMHSWs meet the high standards set by Medicare to deliver the Bushfire Recovery Access Program. They are among those professionals currently providing specialist mental health services under Medicare’s Better Access program. "AMHSWs work with children, adults and older persons across a wide range of issues including, depression, anxiety, grief and loss. relationships issues, life crises, family conflicts, trauma and abuse. AMHSWs provide a unique contribution to the mental health space in their holistic approach to working with a person. Working through this lens is such a vital skill set for ongoing recovery work with individuals, families and communities.” ENDS Notes: Visit to find your local social worker and click here to learn more about how AMHSW can help you. For an explanation of the Medicare changes, visit: To interview Christine Craik, please contact Angela Yin on 0413 532 954. Queensland’s move to end ‘conversion therapy’ a positive step, but falls short 2020-01-16T04:10:37Z queenslands-move-to-end-conversion-therapy-a-positive-step-but-falls-short The AASW has called on the Queensland Government to broaden the definition of ‘health service provider’ to better restrict the practice of harmful ‘conversion therapy’, a harmful and discredited practice which purports to convert lesbian, gay and bisexual people into heterosexual. AASW Queensland Branch President Ellen Beaumont said that while the proposal to legislate against ‘conversion therapy’ practice was a commendable step by the Queensland Government, the failure to explicitly include non-regulated professionals such as those claiming to be counsellors or religious advisers in the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, could see the unethical practice continue across the state. Ms Beaumont said, “We welcome the intent of the proposed Bill, but it fails to ensure that non-regulated professionals who engage in conversion therapy are held to same account and are open to the same penalties as health service providers. It also further highlights the necessity of social work registration as profession.” The practice is far more likely to be performed by a non-professional than by a professional, but vulnerable and desperate people may not be able to tell the difference. Ms Beaumont continued, “Our state’s legislative safeguards simply must cover the breadth of services and organisations that may engage in this practice, including religious and spiritual advisers. We need to recognise that whether the person is a health service provider or not, conversion therapy offered by any ‘professional’ or person in a position of power has the risk of causing significant harm and breaches vulnerable peoples human rights.” Ms Beaumont’s comments follow the AASW’s written submission to the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee on the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 which includes the attempt to outlaw conversion therapy practice by health service providers across the state. While the AASW endorses the prohibition in principle, alongside the need to broaden who the legislation covers, the Association has also called for the Bill to reflect more affirming terminology and to expand on definitions of ‘gender identity’, ‘gender expression’, ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘sex’. Ms Beaumont said, “This is a significant piece of legislation that limits the threat of vulnerable people being subjected to a knowingly harmful practice. But there’s still more opportunity for the Bill to better ensure our state policies reflect inclusive and contemporary terminology and provides a greater breadth of safeguards beyond ‘health service providers’.” Notes See the AASW Queensland Branch submission. The invisible impact of the bushfires: mental health, trauma and family violence 2020-01-14T02:11:37Z the-invisible-impact-of-the-bushfires-mental-health-trauma-and-family-violence Australia’s bushfires are causing devastation on a scale the world has not seen before. The AASW pays tribute to those fighting the fires, those individuals and groups assisting on the frontlines, and those assisting with the recovery process. In addition to the horrendous losses being experienced across the country, we need to prepare for the less visible, but all-important recovery stage, including ongoing mental health, grief and loss and trauma responses. AASW National President Cristine Craik said, “During such harrowing circumstances we have seen incredible examples of compassion, resilience, generosity, and humanity. Our thoughts and our actions are with those who continue to be impacted by the ongoing crisis. Social workers like many others, are assisting at recovery centres across the country right now and have been since the crisis began in November last year.” The AASW welcomes the announcement of that from 17 January people in bushfire-affected areas will have access to 10 immediate counselling sessions and access to more sessions without requiring a GP referral, In conjunction with other initiatives that will increase access to support for people who need it, this is an important step in rebuilding lives and communities. Ms Craik said, “The effects of trauma, grief and loss are considerable in these situations and will have long term implications for individuals, families and their communities. We must not overlook the multitude of issues people are dealing with as they rebuild their homes and lives. One of the strengths of social work intervention is the ability to case manage, advocate and work with trauma symptoms with an understanding that these people have lived through an extraordinary event. Working through this lens is such a vital skill set for ongoing recovery work with individuals, families and communities. “We know that there are many consequences of living through an event where individuals and families struggle to regain control and balance in so many aspects of their day to day life. One of those consequences which we saw during recovery work after the Black Saturday fires in 2009, is an increase in incidents of family violence. Social workers are very much aware of the need to pay attention to these power dynamics in the recovery work that they do. “In addition, we know that many existing government processes can increase the difficulty of recovery and we call for an immediate disbandment of the Cashless Debit Card, especially in those areas affected by fires, blackouts and power shortages. These cards cannot be used during power shortages and access to cash at this time is vital. The current trial sites for the Cashless Debit Card are in rural and remote areas – places that are more likely to be directly affected by fires and subsequent blackouts over this extended fire season.” Along with the Australian community, the AASW is also dismayed at Australia’s lack of leadership on the global stage to tackle the systemic cause of extreme weather events such as bushfires: climate change. “Decades of inaction on climate change have contributed to the increased severity of this bushfire season, a season that started months earlier than any other time in Australia’s history. Our government needs to step up and recognise that climate change is real, is impacting our community, and will continue to impact our community unless we make drastic changes now and into the future,” Ms Craik said. Notes For an explanation of the Medicare changes, visit: Current family law system does not adequately protect women and children from violence, say Australian social workers 2019-12-19T00:52:44Z current-family-law-system-does-not-adequately-protect-women-and-children-from-violence-say-australian-social-workers Commission’s Family Law System Review without delay. AASW National President Christine Craik said that the current family law system does not adequately protect women and children from family violence. Ms Craik said, “Although the family law system recognises physical violence, it has not identified coercive control such as psychological, emotional and financial abuse. Family violence and abuse is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men and its victims are overwhelmingly women and children. “Since the current system cannot always recognise or intervene when violence and abuse are present, it does not always respond to the needs of the people who are trying to escape this abuse. This means that it denies them their right to safety.” The family law system is built on the assumption that both parties enter the system as equals, but social workers know that this is unlikely to be the case where violence and abuse is involved. Ms Craik said, “Having lived under years of fear, coercion, and humiliation, women who are attempting to escape abuse and violence are more susceptible to threats and more easily discouraged by the slow and complex legal process. Social workers have observed many instances where perpetrators know this and use the adversarial process to their advantage. This is called systems abuse, and the current Family Law system enables this abuse.” Ms Craik was speaking as the AASW made its written submission to the joint select committee on the Family Law system. The Australian Law Reform Commission’s Family Law System Review was conducted by some of the most respected professionals in their fields and heard from service users, health and community service professionals and legal practitioners. It made 60 recommendations for a widespread reform of the legislation and improvements to the system. The AASW endorses the Review’s main finding that the current Family Law system is under-resourced and therefore struggles to deal with the ever-increasing complexities of the families who use it. Changing the Family Law system so that it protects people from abuse means improvements to all aspects of it, and this is what the Review proposed. Ms Craik said, “It represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acknowledge, validate and take steps to protect women and children from abuse.” Year of housing access inequality for seniors & disabled ends – and another about to start says Residents Assoc 2019-12-15T21:36:13Z year-of-housing-access-inequality-for-seniors-amp-disabled-ends-and-another-about-to-start-says-residents-assoc One of the most worrying aspects of Spring Street’s obsession with development at all costs is the unintended consequence of social inequality and access to suitable housing for seniors, mobility challenged and families coping with parents and children with disabilities said Fawkner Residents Association spokesperson Mr Joe Perri.    Commenting further Joe Perri said, “Developments are coming onto the market in Fawkner in designated high-density zones and not one meets the Liveable Housing Design gold and platinum level guidelines.  As a result, seniors and the mobility challenged are being deprived of access to housing suitable for their needs in areas that are close to shopping, medical, transport and other amenities”.     “By far the worst example is Jukes Road and more recently Hood Crescent”.   27 new dwellings over seven sites in Jukes Road have been approved and not one meets the gold and platinum level guidelines.    Seniors and the mobility challenged would appreciate and benefit from a home on Jukes Road with access to the nearby Bonwick Street retail precinct, library, community centre, swimming pool and CB Smith Reserve sporting complex.  Instead developers are ignoring the needs of these people in their planning.   It’s almost like the developers have banded together and constructed a large sign declaring Jukes Road as a seniors and disabled free zone said an infuriated Joe Perri.   There is currently an application before Moreland Council for 8 townhouses to be constructed on Hood Crescent bringing the total to 18 with the adjacent development that was approved by VCAT earlier this year.   Seniors and the mobility challenged would benefit immensely from access to the Merri Creek parkland that surrounds the quiet East Fawkner residential enclave, however they again find themselves with nothing on offer to suit their needs from developers.   “If all this wasn’t bad enough, it’s the lost opportunity and unrealised potential that I regard as the most disturbing”, said Joe Perri.    “Fawkner has a quite a number of elderly residents living lonely lives in homes that are beyond their means to maintain physically and financially.  However, they can’t consider down-sizing as developers are deliberately not providing housing to accommodate their specific needs.    “So instead of a win-win scenario providing an incentive to downsize that in turn would result in more properties coming to market to address the inner-city housing shortage – we have a missed opportunity and an appalling example of greed embodied in uncaring, unsustainable housing projects that deliberately excludes seniors, disabled and the mobility challenged”.   Adding his voice, Mr Gino Iannazzo of Australian Pensioners' Voice said, “I’m not surprised that elderly residents have been overlooked in yet another example of profits before people”.   “Instead of access to housing options that would provide peace of mind and quality of living in their twilight years – they have nothing.  Is it any wonder seniors feel abandoned by government”?   Moreland City Council and Spring Street must join forces to address this situation with decisive action in 2020 affirmed Joe Perri.    Issued by the Fawkner Residents Association   Media enquiries:     Mr. Joe Perri                                     Mobile:  +61 412 112 545    Email:   SydWest AGM 2019 launches new media 2019-12-12T00:23:35Z sydwest-agm-2019-launches-new-media Following the SydWest Annual General Meeting, held 29th November 2019, the SydWest Annual Report for 2018-19 is now available. Copies can be downloaded from During the AGM, SydWest’s guests also enjoyed the launch of our new photography exhibition, Capturing the Moment: Images of Making Australia Home by Elfa Moraitakis, CEO of SydWest Multicultural Services. The exhibition is a collaboration between SydWest Multicultural Services, English Conversation volunteer Tutor Judith Bennett and our clients in the English Conversation classes. The images show the shared experiences of refugees and migrants in the resettlement process and the impact that English Conversation classes have in helping make a new home. This exhibition is a visual accompaniment to the SydWest Stories of Making Australia Home published in 2017. SydWest also launched You are Not Alone, a short domestic violence support video featuring our newly trained DV Community Ambassadors. This project is part of the work undertaken by our Women & Families team, part of the Community Engagement division and working to make a difference in the lives of our communities who live with domestic and family violence. Our values of Accountability, Collaboration & Excellence is what defines our service delivery standards and I am proud to be part of a team of colleagues that are dedicated in making an impact into people’s lives. Our AGM was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the work we do every day and share in the successes that our Board, Staff and clients all experienced during the last year. In 2019, our Chair for the last three years and Board Member for six years, Robert Fitzgerald, stepped down from the Board of Directors of SydWest Multicultural Services and we thank him for his leadership and vision. He has been succeeded by Raquel Ricafort-Bleza as Chair of the SydWest Board of Directors. The new Board is as follows: Raquel Ricafort-Bleza: Chair Bridget Sarris: Vice Chair Chandrika Subramaniyan: Treasurer Secretary: Moninder Singh Director: Vish Viswanathan Director: Tamara Giles Director: Karin Mckay Director: Noel Hiffernan Our AGM guest speaker was Joanna Quilty, CEO of NCOSS, who presented findings from the new NCOSS report Mapping Economic Disadvantage in NSW. SydWest Multicultural Services is a leading organisation for all cultural diversity issues responding to community needs and opportunities. Established more than 34 years ago, SydWest provides a range of services to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) individuals and communities services to assist with settling and living productive and independent lives in the community. We offer flexible and integrated service models across the life course of refugees and migrants, supporting the self-determination and empowerment of our diverse communities. SydWest is an innovative employer of choice, with passionate, qualified and experienced bilingual and bicultural staff who are sensitive to the languages and cultures of the communities we represent. With locations in Blacktown, Mt Druitt, Penrith and Rouse Hill, we cover all matters of cultural diversity in the region. A healthy environment is a fundamental human right: Human Rights Day 2019-12-09T23:33:46Z a-healthy-environment-is-a-fundamental-human-right-human-rights-day On Human Rights Day, the AASW calls on all governments to commit to immediate action on climate change and celebrates the advocacy of young people in striving for a more just and sustainable world. Having access to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a fundamental human right and something that governments worldwide are failing to achieve. The theme this year is 'Youth standing up for human rights’ and it also marks 30 years since the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is incredibly pertinent given it is young people and children who are showing real leadership in the fight for climate justice. Article 24 of the Convention states that appropriate measures must be taken against the dangers and risks of environmental pollution for the wellbeing of a child. Australian social workers strongly support young people’s collective action to claim their right to a sustainable future, as they have shown in the Fridays for Future which sees young people across Australia and internationally rally for action on climate change. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “Young people are actually fighting for their own and for everyone else’s human rights, because global leadership is failing to act on climate change. “We reject suggestions from our country’s leaders that it is climate activists who are making young people anxious, or that young people should not protest and rally on the issue of climate change. “Article 15 of the Convention upholds their right to do so, stating that we must ‘recognise the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly’. “If young people are anxious, it is because they can see the consequences of climate inaction from our political decision-makers. We know as social workers, that having a voice and working towards some control of your own future actually combats anxiety and mental health issues. Like everyone else, they are seeing the lungs of the world disappearing in catastrophic weather events both here in Australia and overseas. “We commend young people for exercising their right under the Convention to advance what we are seeing and experiencing is a national and global emergency.” Today reminds us that young people are the ones who will live with the long-term consequences decisions taken today. Like all of us, young people want to see our decision makers focus on our long-term needs and the right of all young people to a clean and healthy planet. Decision-makers must resist the temptation to put convenience and short term interests ahead of long-term protection of rights. The climate activism of young people shows that they understand this also. Ms Craik said, “The right to a clean, life-sustaining natural environment is key for the vision of the future for many children and young people. They believe that the generation who are currently making decisions do not appreciate the long-term consequences of their climate inaction for future generations. “In this context it is important to recognise today’s young people in their collective action and to recognise how important this action is in setting up a sustainable, healthy and just world.” "I'm Done, Get Me Out Of Here" 2019-12-06T06:17:14Z i-m-done-get-me-out-of-here   The Age & Business Insider reported that January is “Divorce Month” and the first Monday back to work sees a stampede of Divorce Enquiries.   According to Cheryl Duffy, founder of “The Divorce Centre” and author of bestseller "The Divorce Tango", “there are 5 Top Tips if your partner's New Year’s resolution is "I'm Done, Get Me Out Of Here”   Know your current financial position - Identify ALL Assets, debts and income Get legal advice - Have initial consultation on what your entitlements are before agreeing to anything with your ex Suggest Marriage Counselling - Try to make it work, but know it takes two to want it to Don’t move out of the house - Don’t incur increased financial burden by renting elsewhere - await legal advice on entitlements Negotiate for a fair outcome - To work to an agreeable outcome is far better than dragging it out seeking more than you are entitled to or trying to get revenge which only increases legal costs in your divorce and impacts future financial security   CHERYL DUFFY is the founder of “The Divorce Centre”, a Certified Divorce Recovery Coach, and author of the bestseller "The Divorce Tango". Having moved on after 8 years of a hellish divorce recovery, she now helps others through and beyond divorce so they can move on and create a happy life. TO INTERVIEW CHERYL, Please contact / 0459513862