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Lisa Cox, disability advocate, can help. 2020-06-19T06:14:22Z is-your-media-agency-stuck-for-inclusive-content-lisa-cox-disability-advocate-can-help Is your media team looking to reach a larger audience and be more diverse by including someone with disabilities to discuss any number of non-disability issues? Or are you looking for comment on a news story related to disability?   Introducing Lisa Cox - A reliable and informed addition to your source network.   Lisa is an award-winning writer, author, motivational speaker, consultant, wife, model and activist who, for over a decade, has been passionately creating visibility for disability and has amassed a loyal following of nearly 100K across different social platforms.   She has written for national and international publications like Huff Post, Harper’s Bazaar and Sydney Morning Herald and has featured on multiple podcasts. Lisa is a valuable source for busy journalists, producers and others in your media team.   With a strong professional background in media, Lisa understands the news cycle, has an appreciation for how your story is put together and knows about the constraints of deadlines. Lisa is also the Disability Affairs Officer at Media Diversity Australia and her ability to relate to and connect with both a disabled and non-disabled audience makes her an ideal source. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Lisa is available at short notice for comment or can travel to you.  E. | M. +61 0413 617 473 | | Instagram: | #VisibilityForDisability Australia Lights Up Red For World Sickle Cell Day 2020-06-18T01:39:56Z australia-lights-up-red-for-world-sickle-cell-day FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE DATE: 18/06/2020 AUSTRALIA LIGHTS UP RED FOR WORLD SICKLE CELL DAY Melbourne, Australia: LANDMARKS across Australia are set to light up red for World Sickle Cell Day on 19 June to shine a light on the rare genetic blood condition unknown to many around the country   For the first time, structures including the Melbourne Star, Brisbane’s Story Bridge, Perth’s Trafalgar Bridge and Canberra’s Telstra Tower will light up red in solidarity for patients affected across Australia by sickle cell anaemia. More than 270,000 infants are born with sickle cell anaemia each year across the globe, and cases are increasing in Australia. Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Australia (TASCA), the nation’s peak patient advocacy body, has coordinated this event to raise awareness on the condition. TASCA is a not-for-profit organisation that has been serving Australians living with genetic haemoglobin disorders, and their families, since 1976. Sickle cell anaemia affects the body’s ability to produce healthy red blood cells that provide oxygen around the body. Sufferers battle frequent, painful blood clotting episodes caused by the sickle-shaped blood cells and require lifelong blood exchanges. Robbin Vissakodeti, TASCA’s Deputy Chair, whose wife and daughter both have a form of genetic blood disorders said, “For us, sickle cell affects our everyday lives. My wife had her spleen removed because of sickle cell complications and we have to take every precaution to prevent infections as her immune system is compromised. “When we started thinking about having kids, I knew the risks and we were prepared. World Sickle Cell Day this year is about getting people to have that conversation with their doctors, being informed about the risk and making the right decision when it comes to having children. “Hospital visits definitely take a toll on the family, but we are grateful that we live in a country with a supportive healthcare system. Treatment seems to be constantly improving and we are looking forward to what the future will bring.” ENDS For media enquires contact: Samuel Lam, Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Australia E:, T: 03 7015 5637 Notes to editors: ·       For more information on TASCA, sickle cell anaemia and World Sickle Cell Day, visit ·       Full list of sites that will participate in the light up include: o   Melbourne Star (VIC) o   AAMI Park (VIC) o   Kingston Clock Tower (VIC) o   Story Bridge (QLD) o   Victoria Park (QLD) o   Trafalgar Bridge (WA) o   Council House (WA) o   Canberra Telstra Tower (ACT) o   Elizabeth Mall (TAS) o   Kennedy Lane (TAS) o   Railway Roundabout (TAS) o   Franklin Square (TAS) ·       Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Australia was established in 1976 and provides support and advocacy to those affected by genetic blood disorders. ·       Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited blood condition causing misshapen red blood cells called sickle cells. This leads to a reduction of useful red blood cells and anaemia. Sickle cells also result in painful and hospitalisable blood clots in many patients. ·       A simple blood test will show if couples are at risk of having a child with sickle cell anaemia. ·       Treatment for sickle cell anaemia includes medication and blood exchanges. ·      Sickle cell anaemia is most common in people of sub-Saharan African, Indian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean background. However, migration has spread this condition globally.     World Refugee Week 2020: AASW continues calls for an end to mandatory detention 2020-06-18T00:21:10Z world-refugee-week-2020-aasw-continues-calls-for-an-end-to-mandatory-detention During World Refugee Week 2020, the AASW continues calls for the Federal Government to put an end to its punitive practice of mandatory detention. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “This year’s theme for World Refugee Week is Celebrating the Year of Welcome. The Australian government, however, consistently breaches the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees, our welcome is one to offshore detention, immigration detention centres and other forms of incarceration for those who have broken no laws. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that policy changes can be made quickly and to the benefit of vulnerable people. This has not occurred within the people seeking asylum and refugee population, who have been left exposed to the effects of coronavirus in detention. “As World Refugee Week started, there have been attempts by the government to move a group of people seeking asylum with pre-existing medical conditions from hotel accommodation in Queensland back to offshore detention. These people seeking asylum were transferred to Australia under the now repealed medevac legislation. They are at significant risk of severe complications or death if they are moved back to immigration detention while COVID-19 is still a threat.” The pandemic has a more severe impact on vulnerable groups and people in detention are no exception. Ms Craik continued, “There is nothing stopping the government from releasing this group, and all people seeking asylum, into the community where they can be free to continue their lives in safety and security. Keeping these people in detention is cruel and tortuous, and its only purpose is to send a terrible message to others who wish to seek asylum in Australia that ‘You are not welcome here’.” “Australia needs to be better than this and we can do better than this. “The practice of mandatory detention needs to end now. It causes immeasurable damage to those vulnerable people who have already worked so hard to flee harm. If we want to properly celebrate World Refugee Week, and the resilience and tenacity of people seeking asylum and refugees; this is the only way.” Empowering women to achieve business success around Australia 2020-06-17T04:26:18Z empowering-women-to-achieve-business-success-around-australia Sydney, 17 June 2020: Inspiring Rare Birds has been appointed by the Federal Government to deliver a formal business mentoring program to small business owners and entrepreneurs who are women from rural or remote regions, from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, or from the disability sector. It's designed to address the barriers to success that businesswomen from such marginal demographics can often face due to isolation, a lack of resources and a lack of exposure to a network of other entrepreneurs. Ninety business scholarship programs are available, funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet Office for Women under its Women’s Leadership and Development Program. Senator the Hon. Marise Payne, Minister for Women and Minister for Foreign Affairs, said in the announcement that many women have been on the frontlines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, making up the majority of employees in essential services like health care and education. This funding will allow more women across Australia to develop new skills to support our part-time and casual workforce and ultimately accelerate economic recovery. Jo Burston, CEO and Founder of Rare Birds, said: "Our new National Women's Business Scholarship, funded by the Women’s Leadership and Development Program, will be hugely-valuable to Australia's businesswomen from these disadvantaged groups. Women have lost jobs because of COVID-19 at a higher rate than men - 55% to 45% - though it's also good news that payroll jobs worked by women increased by 1.4 per cent through May, compared with 0.4 per cent for men. This new program and funding will help women recover their jobs and in many cases start new ones. "Rare Birds has always supported and promoted diverse and inclusive workplaces, where opportunities in entrepreneurship and leadership exist for everyone. This program will work with the 90 successful female business owners and entrepreneurs from these groups on nurturing these skills and this self-belief. It will give them the confidence and  skills to take their businesses to new heights, equip them to hire more women, and create long-term economic and financial security." Rare Birds is also calling for business leaders who are interested in being mentors to join its existing mentors on this program. Women interested in applying for one of the 90 programs, and business leaders interested in becoming a mentor on this program, should go to: Applicants need to meet the following criteria: Identify as female Identify as being from rural or remote regions, culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or from the disability sectors. Have an established and viable business at least two years old - either as an owner or a sole trader Be an Australian citizen Can commit to two hours per month with their mentor Will participate and engage in the Rare Birds Business Building Blocks online education series (one hour per month) ENDS Rare Birds builds and provides services and programs that transform businesses by creating diverse and inclusive organisations that are sustainable. These programs support improved financial performance, improve talent retention, and foster and facilitate innovation and commercial growth. Background information Rare Birds previously ran an Entrepreneur Mentorship Program over 12 months in 2017/18, with funding from the Office for Women, under the Australian Government's Women’s Leadership and Development Strategy.  Women in the program reported: 91% felt their business will grow over the next 12 months. 87.5% felt more confident about their business capability. 85% noted improvement in their focus areas Women with the following backgrounds completed the 2017/18 program: Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander descent: 16 regional, rural or remotely located: 35 migrants or refugees: 27 living with disability: 1 low socioeconomic background: 21 State and Territory representation was as follows: WA: 18 NSW: 32 ACT: 1 QLD: 28 SA: 3 NT: 1 VIC: 16 TAS: 1 Sixty-eight per cent of women entrepreneurs on the program ran businesses with revenues of up to $100,000; 30% ran businesses with revenue between $101,000 and $1 million; and 2% ran businesses with revenue of over $1 million. In addition to Australia, 14 other countries of origin were represented. Media assets: Jo Burston, Founder and CEO of Rare Birds. She has spent more than 15 years in the outsource payroll, migration and contingent workforce space, and the technology sector. She participated in the world’s first inflight TEDx tech talk in collaboration with TEDxSydney and Qantas, and was Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation roundtable, which resulted in the release of the innovation statement in December 2016. She serves on the advisory board of LaunchVIC initiative and has consulted to the Federal Government. Note to editors: Rare Birds CEO Jo Burston is available for interview. Interviews with previous program participants can be arranged. For more information, contact: Alan Smith, Digivizer, 0404 432 700, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2020: AASW calls for better resourcing of the aged care sector 2020-06-15T07:12:27Z world-elder-abuse-awareness-day-2020-aasw-calls-for-better-resourcing-of-the-aged-care-sector The AASW is calling on better resourcing and funding for the aged care sector on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2020. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many people who are experiencing elder abuse have become hidden from view. “Social workers know that it is difficult to encourage older people to disclose their experience of elder abuse at the best of times, and with many aged care services put on hold, workers are no longer going into the homes of older people and the abuse, neglect, control or violence they are experiencing by those who they depend upon, is harder to expose. “There are also thousands of older people across Australia waiting for an aged care package to become available. How many of those people are suffering in silence, being abused by carers with no one from the outside world knowing that assistance is needed now?” Ms Craik continued, “The aged care sector urgently needs extra funding to meet the increasing demand of home care packages, and to ensure staff are properly trained to pick up on the signs of elder abuse in community and aged care settings. We also need an increased community awareness of what elder abuse is and the many ways in which this can present. “Our submission to the Aged Care Royal Commission addressed these concerns and the AASW hopes to see systemic change throughout the aged care sector when the Commission releases its recommendations. “Elder abuse can take many forms and we all have a responsibility to know the signs and support older people to get help.” Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention) Bill 2020 continues human rights abuses, says AASW 2020-06-12T06:29:00Z migration-amendment-prohibiting-items-in-immigration-detention-bill-2020-continues-human-rights-abuses-says-aasw The AASW has called for an end to mandatory detention of asylum seekers in its submission to the Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020 [Provisions] inquiry.AASW National President Christine Craik said, “The amendments in this bill continue a tradition of human rights abuses targeting a vulnerable population, who have a right to seek asylum in Australia, and who by no fault of their own find themselves prevented from living their lives in security and safety in their country of origin.“This bill proposes increasing the search powers of authorised officers, allowing them to search asylum seekers and their belongings without a warrant, preventing access to SIM cards and other forms of communication with internet-connectivity, treating asylum seekers as if they have broken the law.“Expanding the powers of officers to conduct searches and being able to do so without a warrant or solid basis will continue the harmful nature of detention. Again, these measures will apply to people who have broken no laws and whose mental health is already at risk because of government policy.”Ms Craik said seeking asylum in Australia is not illegal, however our practice of placing asylum seekers into mandatory detention is punitive, cruel, and only designed to deter people from coming to Australia. She said, “These proposed amendments will exacerbate existing breaches of the human rights of people seeking asylum and perpetuate the harm being done to a group of vulnerable people in the name of border security.”“The Federal Government needs to end the policy of mandatory detention now. It is a measure that does not work, is costly, and causes immeasurable damage to those vulnerable people who have already worked so hard to flee harm.”Our submission will be made available on the Parliamentary website in due course. Governments need to act now to protect vulnerable children: AASW statement on Mason Jet Lee 2020-06-12T05:33:11Z governments-need-to-act-now-to-protect-vulnerable-children-aasw-statement-on-mason-jet-lee The brutal and painful death of 22-month-old Mason Jet Lee is a devastating tragedy and we call on all Australian governments to take immediate actions to assure no child has to ever endure what Mason went through in his short life, said the Australian Association of Social Workers National President Christine Craik, Queensland Branch President Ellen Beaumont and North Queensland Branch President Ross Murray in a joint statement released today. The Coroner’s report into Mason’s death details the horrific abuse and neglect he suffered, highlighting a systematic failure on every level. What was starkly evident in Mason Jet Lee’s situation, was the intergenerational trauma, years of abuse and neglect that was present within the family, coupled with the significant impact of domestic and family violence. This highlights the importance of addressing these issues early and we have a family and child protection system that intervenes when it is too late, disproportionately focusing on reactionary over preventative measures. For example, across Australia only 17 per cent of overall child protection funding is invested in early intervention support services with 83 per cent for child protection services. Child protection deals with some of the most complex problems that we face as a society. There is no single solution and we need a comprehensive approach to child and family support that looks at workforce, service systems, case loads, supervision and the structural factors that perpetuate poverty, marginalisation and disadvantage. In particular, we highlight the continued over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection systems. This goes beyond politics and we need a commitment to appropriately and sustainably resource the full continuum of child and family support, including prevention, early intervention, along with tertiary statutory services. An immediate measure that all governments can take is to improve the training and skills of the child protection workforce. For families that come into the child protection system, it can be due to a complex set of circumstances and it is vital that they receive supports from highly trained and skilled professionals. Unfortunately, as Mason’s and numerous Coroner’s reports from all across Australia continue to highlight, this is not the case. In Australia, social work is not a registered profession which can lead to inadequate forms of regulation. As social workers, we are on the front lines of child and family support and see the daily reality of an inequitably regulated sector and the devastating impacts this can have. The AASW has been calling for formal registration for several decades, this has been supported in recent years by two Coroner’s reports (including Chloe Valentine in South Australia). A Bill is now before the South Australian parliament for the statutory registration of social workers that would assure public safety, professional quality and accountability of the child protection workforce. The AASW is building on the progress in South Australia and meeting with child protection ministers and key stakeholders across Australia, advocating for the expansion of the South Australian model. Mason’s tragic and preventable death shows how far we still have to go and fundamentally that we all have a role to play in making sure that every child across Australia is safe and has a loving and supportive environment in which to meet their full potential. ASI Presents “iNNOVATIONS LIVE Asia-Pacific” Virtual Conference for Partners & Clients 2020-06-04T22:51:37Z asi-presents-innovations-live-asia-pacific-virtual-conference-for-partners-amp-clients Advanced Solutions International (ASI), a leading global provider of software and services for associations and non-profits, announced today it held the first iNNOVATIONS LIVE Asia-Pacific virtual conference for partners and clients on 27-28 May 2020.  This regional event follows the incredibly successful 25-26 March global iNNOVATIONS conference that shifted from an in-person conference in Florida, USA to online amid the COVID-19 crisis.  Learn more at Hosted by Paul Ramsbottom, Managing Director of ASI Asia-Pacific, and Colin Bryant, ASI Asia-Pacific Country Manager, the two-day conference offered nine educational presentations on the latest advances in the iMIS Cloud Engagement Management System with live Q & A.  It also included an inspiring opening session, award presentations, and a virtual networking happy hour at the end of the first day.  Attendees were able to take advantage of the ASI Connect mobile app to access the agenda, conference materials, forums, and engage with other participants.   “Each year, ASI holds the iNNOVATIONS conference in the United States, which has meant very few clients from our region have attended the event before,” said Mr. Ramsbottom.  “With iNNOVATIONS LIVE Asia-Pacific, the iMIS community in our region got to experience the magic of the event for the first time.  Attendees came from across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and they were thrilled to be able to ask their questions of international experts and get answers in real time,” he added.  “This live access to knowledge and resources — and the chance to really feel a part of the event — was huge and we’re already being asked about next year!” ASI’s in-person iNNOVATIONS conference was originally planned with three educational tracks but was reduced to one for the virtual event; all planned presentations, however, were recorded and made available via the on-demand video library.  Hosted by ASI partner Webcastcloud, an Australian webcast streaming and hosting service, this library allows attendees unlimited access to all 36 conference sessions,  ASI was pleased to welcome members of NiUG Asia Pacific, the local independent user group dedicated to ensuring organisations that use iMIS to maximise their investment in both the technology and staff they employ to administer and utilise it.   2020 Client and Partner Awards  ASI’s mission is to “Help People Achieve Great Things Through Innovative Solutions,” and each year the company recognises winners of its Great Things Awards.  The 2020 Asia-Pacific honours went to the Australian Medical Association – Federal Secretariat and the AMA’s Chief Information Officer Phil Barton accepted the award.  The AMA promotes and protects the professional interests of doctors and the healthcare needs of patients and communities, representing nearly 31,000 members and more than 15,000 students at the federal, state and territory level.   ASI also announced the following awards to Asia-Pacific based partners: Authorised iMIS Consultant (AiC) of the Year: • Asia-Pacific:  KISS Consulting  - Chairman's Circle: • Causeis - • Integr8tiv - • KISS Consulting - iNNOVATIONS LIVE Sponsors  iNNOVATIONS LIVE Asia-Pacific was sponsored by C Systems Global, Computer System Innovations, Inc. (CSI), Gather Voices, Global Payments Integrated, Higher Logic, iFINITY plc, MemberPrime, OpenWater, Personify A2Z Events, Top Class LMS by WBT Systems, Web Scribble and Webcastcloud Pty Ltd.  About ASI Advanced Solutions International (ASI) is a leading global provider of cloud-based software to associations and non-profits. We're the company behind iMIS Cloud, the Engagement Management System (EMS)™ that empowers you to engage your members anytime, anywhere, from any device. Since 1991 we've helped thousands of clients grow revenue, reduce expenses, and improve performance by providing best practices, pragmatic client advice, and proven solutions.  Learn more at  Australian social workers celebrate National Reconciliation Week 2020: In This Together 2020-05-27T00:09:28Z australian-social-workers-celebrate-national-reconciliation-week-2020-in-this-together The AASW celebrates National Reconciliation Week during this week 27 May – 3 June and what has turned out be a prophetic theme ‘In This Together’ and calls on all Australians to continue to work towards Reconciliation. It also marks 20 years since Australians marched en masse for Reconciliation in 2000, including the iconic march across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. AASW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board Director Linda Ford said, “This year, we have been living the theme for 2020 National Reconciliation Week ‘In This Together’ due to the COVID-19 response. This has been a time of incredible challenges and learnings, and we have seen, for the most part, the best of Australia. “The year of 2020 is likely to be remembered for the Coronavirus but throughout this, we should not lose sight of the long-term goals we have as an Australian nation. Goals which are about fairness, compassion, equality, justice and a happy life for all Australians. “As we celebrate National Reconciliation Week this year, we need to remember that it is not just about some of us, not just about Australians that live in cities or rural areas, the Australians that are rich and the ones that are struggling, the new Australians and the ones who can trace their history back to before the boats came. “The theme is about all Australians being ‘In This Together’. As we have demonstrated in our response to COVID-19, we are able to come together for a common purpose. Let us come together for Reconciliation!” AASW National President, Christine Craik said, “Reconciliation is about building meaningful relationships and working together for a more just Australia, and this begins with learning more about the resilience and achievements of Indigenous Australians. This resilience is a lesson for all of us in the current environment. “For social workers, National Reconciliation Week is also about learning from the past and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities to address the structural disadvantage and discrimination they face in all facets of their lives, which is an ongoing consequence of colonisation. This includes advocating for Australian governments to listen to Indigenous voices and embrace a constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice to parliament.” The AASW continues to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing into social work as a fundamental component of decolonising social work practice in this country. The Association is currently working on its Reconciliation Action Plan 2020-2022. Cleaners Not Receiving Key Resources During COVID-19 2020-05-25T10:31:00Z cleaners-not-receiving-key-resources-during-covid-19 Despite the increased need for high-quality cleaning of workplaces and public areas during COVID-19, a new survey has found nine in 10 cleaners are having to rush essential cleaning work and eight in 10 do not always have enough equipment to complete the job. The survey from the United Workers Union (UWU) also found that 74 per cent of cleaners report not having enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to do their job safely, and that 70 per cent receive no face-to-face training. UWU director of property services, Lyndal Ryan, said the coronavirus crisis has highlighted the importance of cleaners, who are doing “essential work in a broken system.” “The crisis has shown everyone that high-quality cleaning that protects public health and safety cannot be delivered on a shoestring budget. Too often cleaners are asked to do too much, in not enough time, without the right training and equipment – because for years and years the contract system has driven cleaning wages and costs down.” “Re-opening the economy is contingent on cleaning – quality cleaning is essential to the management and prevention of COVID-19. We cannot have cleaning that is inadequate for the day to day protection of people as we rebuild public confidence in returning to public spaces.” Ryan said the focus on cleaning and hygiene during COVID-19 would propel a wider industry movement toward cleaners getting the resources and equipment they need. “The survey results show the current reality for our cleaners – rushing work, without enough cleaning equipment to do a quality job and without enough PPE to do their job safely. In the post-COVID world it is time for a reset, for too long contractors have been cutting corners, then cleaners bear the brunt.” “Federal, state and local Government, universities, big building owners, airports and shopping mall owners buy cleaning services and they need to understand that the cleaning of their buildings and services cannot be delivered on the smell of an oily rag. Quality cleaning requires trained cleaners, with the right equipment and enough time to do the job.” Main survey findings: 91% of surveyed cleaners always, often or sometimes have to rush their work because they don’t have enough time 80% of cleaners do not have enough cleaning equipment to do a quality job 74% do not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to do their job safely 70% receive no face-to-face training Issues reported by cleaners in the survey: Not having enough time to finish work, constant rushing is very stressful Not having enough time to do a more detailed job, always being short-staffed Employers skimping on chemicals supplies and equipment, or diluting chemicals Not having safety issues taken seriously Not supplied with enough training, or with correct working equipment and PPE Domestic Violence Inquiry report a missed opportunity: published without receiving a single submission 2020-05-21T01:03:06Z domestic-violence-inquiry-report-a-missed-opportunity-published-without-receiving-a-single-submission The AASW is today questioning the Senate Committee in charge of the Inquiry into Domestic Violence. This inquiry did not accept any submissions from the domestic and family violence sector and then released its report two days ago, three months ahead of its August due date. In doing so, this inquiry failed to make any substantial contribution to addressing the scourge of domestic and family violence facing Australian women and children. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “We are very disappointed that no domestic and family violence experts and/or victim/survivors were able to contribute to the Domestic Violence Senate Inquiry and that a report has been published three months ahead of schedule without any submissions being accepted. “We need real action on domestic and family violence to prevent the destruction of families and the deaths of women and children. It would have been wise for the Committee to hear from experts such as family violence social workers on this critical issue.” COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the very real dangers facing women and children across Australia, and the contributions of social workers who daily support women through these dangers had the potential to make real change to the lives of so many by adding their voices to this inquiry. To say that public hearings or public submissions would have been of limited benefit given the coronavirus pandemic is a clear message to all women living with increased risk during this pandemic, that their lives do not matter. Ms Craik said, “Too many women have been murdered this year already and for this Senate Committee to not have taken this process seriously is unacceptable and disrespectful to victim-survivors and their children. “We call on the federal government to take family violence seriously, fund the sector properly, and listen to experts in this field. No more women and children should be dying of this.” Last year, there was a review of the family law system which made more than 60 recommendations, some of which addressed the system's capacity to protect women and children. None of the recommendations were implemented. AASW submitted to this review. AASW’s credentialing program recognises specialised social work skills in family violence with its Accredited Family Violence Social Worker credential. National Families Week: AASW calls on increased focus on family violence during COVID-19, and for a separate Medicare item 2020-05-19T03:01:12Z national-families-week-aasw-calls-on-increased-focus-on-family-violence-during-covid-19-and-for-a-separate-medicare-item The AASW calls for an increased focus on family violence during this Family Violence Awareness Month, with the increased incidence of FV during COVID-19. In addition May 15-21 is National Families Week, and while this is a week to celebrate the protective and nurturing capacity of families, we also need to recognise the threats to families from gender-based violence and the added pressures caused by the current COVID-19 environment. AASW National President Christine Craik said, “We welcome the extra $48.1 million announced on Friday, 15 May to address mental health during the current pandemic. , however, it is quite clear that more resources also need to be allocated to family violence, which we know increases during times of crisis. “There has been a rise across the globe in the incidence of family violence during this pandemic, and Australia has not been so lucky with this deadly and destructive toll. In the past month, family violence related hospital visits, increases in calls to emergency departments and increases in victims needing surgery for family violence related injuries have spiked across the country. This increase has been also seen in calls to women’s legal services, calls to police, calls to men’s help lines, family law court cases and frontline family violence services. In the past 10 days, we know of four women who have been murdered in family violence incidents, however there is still no official government death count for family violence deaths across the country as is the case for deaths related to road accidents or COVID-19. “We know that family violence results from attitudes and behaviours based on a belief that the genders are not equal, and from this, a sense of entitlement and control to use power over partners and children. For those who perpetrate abuse we know that during times of crisis, that sense of needing to control becomes focussed on those closest to them, with devastating results. We are seeing risk escalate, and opportunities for victims to escape that risk, decrease. “We call on the federal government to do much more for victim/survivors of family violence. We desperately need services and funding for long term recovery. We need additional funding for therapeutic services that have the ability to work longer term through family court and recovery. These services need to be provided by social workers and counsellors who are family violence accredited. Victim survivors need specialist assistance and are often further abuse by the system if the worker supporting them does not understand the nuances of family violence and control. “We also call on the government to consider a Medicare item number for family violence counselling and therapeutic services distinct from a general practitioner mental health treatment plan. There will be an increase in family violence related cases going through the family court as a result of this pandemic and we need to ensure that perpetrators can no longer use the presence of mental health plans to continue to abuse their victims as is the current situation in the family court.” Christine will be hosting a discussion on COVID-19 and Family Violence for AASW members on Thursday, 28 May 2020 at 6.30pm AEST. AASW’s credentialing program recognises specialised social work skills in family violence with its Accredited Family Violence Social Worker credential. AASW calls for increase in Medicare mental health sessions, publishes guidance for GPs to refer to mental health social workers 2020-05-11T00:18:24Z aasw-calls-for-increase-in-medicare-mental-health-sessions-publishes-guidance-for-gps-to-refer-to-mental-health-social-workers The AASW renews its call for an increase in Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS)-funded mental health sessions in response to COVID 19, said National President Christine Craik. “COVID 19 is having significant impacts in the health and wellbeing of all Australians and we will continue to see the effects for months if not years to come. It is clear now that people need short and long-term mental health supports that are responsive to their needs.” The AASW has joined other key stakeholders in consistently calling for an increase in allowable mental health sessions. Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) who provide mental health supports through Medicare know that the current limit of 10 sessions only are not enough for many people. The AASW is calling for an immediate extension of MBS funded sessions from the current 10 sessions allowable per year to at least 20 sessions for the foreseeable future. “Increasing the number of sessions will allow mental health professionals to better support individuals to work through the anxiety and complicated presentations we are seeing at this time. Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) have reported instances of their clients rationing their sessions despite significant concerns about their mental health and a worsening of symptoms as this pandemic continues. Social workers have reported observing an increase in service users presenting with suicidal thoughts and concerning behaviours. This is not surprising given the current circumstances, however supporting someone through this is difficult with the limited number of sessions available at the present time. “People are experiencing heightened anxiety with this pandemic, due to many stressors including, loss of income, financial pressure, isolation, uncertainty about the future and for some, dealing with this alongside existing mental health issues. We are seeing an increase in incidents of family violence and worsening drug and alcohol abuse. It is clear that if we are to work to support the mental health of Australians through this pandemic and into recovery, there needs to be adequate service provision.” The federal government’s MBS review has identified the need for an increased number of sessions and the AASW looks forwarding to continuing to work with government on this issue alongside addressing pay parity for all mental health professionals who are undertaking the same work. Ms Craik said, “As stated in our numerous submissions to the inquiry, we believe MBS Better Access needs to be based on need and level of complexity.” One size does not fit all. There are 2,200 AMHSWs who are already supporting people through this current crisis but to be able to address ongoing and complex mental health concerns, there needs to be an increase in the number of sessions available to individuals. AMHSWs are working with GPs to address community mental health issues during this difficult time. AASW has created a COVID-19 flyer for GPs to help refer patients to an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker. Find out more on AASW’s GP webpage and download it today. Inquiry into Newmarch House needed 2020-05-06T08:23:11Z inquiry-into-newmarch-house-needed An inquiry into the COVID-19 tragedy at Newmarch House is urgently needed as the situation has tragically highlighted the desperate need for reform in the sector, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA). “A purposeful inquiry is needed. The investigation will get lost if it is incorporated as part of the very large Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, as has been proposed,” said ALA spokesperson, lawyer and aged care advocate, Ms Catherine Henry. “The residents of Newmarch House and their families have legal rights and, as a community, we need to understand what went wrong in the management of the outbreak at this facility. “One of the significant and ongoing issues in aged care is the lack of transparency and accountability. Holding an inquiry into this disaster will provide the opportunity for open review of the situation and will draw the Federal Government’s attention to the urgent underlying issues. “It seems that what we are seeing unfold at Newmarch House is a failure to meet accepted standards with undertrained, inexperienced staff being forced to handle the outbreak and the facility neglecting to provide adequate resources for its residents. “Residents with COVID-19 don’t appear to be receiving treatment from doctors for days and sometimes are not even receiving treatment from registered nurses.  “We cannot understand why sick residents were not transferred to hospital and those not infected with COVID-19 moved elsewhere when the illness was first detected in the facility. It is inexplicable, and has resulted in a very distressing and tragic situation for the residents and their families.” The ALA says failures in governance, accountability, policy and the regulatory framework are all evident in the current residential aged care system and have contributed to the tragic situation at Newmarch House. “An underlying cause of the systemic problems in aged care is the Aged Care Act 1997 itself. It is weighted in favour of providers and has promoted the privatisation of services and competition, allowing profits to prevail over quality of care,” said Ms Henry. “We need a new Aged Care Act – one that ensures transparency and accountability and includes an independent tribunal to hear complaints of substandard care. “The current system places undue focus on internal complaint mechanisms. We believe the sector needs an independent, external tribunal like the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission.” The ALA recommends that the tribunal’s function should include the capacity to: hear complaints with powers to issue fines; cancel accreditation; publicly reprimand providers; and order monetary compensation. The ALA is a national association of lawyers, academics and other professionals dedicated to protecting and promoting justice, freedom and the rights of the individual.