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The Scan’s year

Summer edition 2016

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Summer

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The Scan in 2015

Top TenThis year’s top ten reads were heavily skewed towards the “VET crisis” and attempts by authorities (rather belatedly in our view) to stamp out the obvious rorting, particularly in VET FEE-HELP funding, which has been truly scandalous. In fact, the number one post this year on The Scan is also the number one post of all time and by quite a bit. If you enter “rorting” in the search box in the top right hand corner, the archive runs to 5 pages, VET FEE-HELP runs to another 5 pages (obviously with some overlap) and that’s only the start of it. Quite why NSW university offers rated so highly might be explained by the fact that NSW newspapers now provide precious little coverage of the event. The seemingly generous pay arrangements of vice-chancellors certainly attracted reader interest (and good on The Oz for pulling the story together) and academic gongs remains a perennial favourite. However, the weightiest issue of the year in higher education was the late Abbott government’s deregulation package which died ignominiously in the Senate and led to then minister Christopher Pyne’s manic performance as The Fixer in an interview with David Speers on Sky News. 

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Careers Australia caught up in enrolment scam

Careers Aust3 March 2015     |     One of Australia’s biggest private training providers is being accused of using salespeople who target disadvantaged areas and enrol poor students with fake entrance exams.     Last financial year Careers Australia billed taxpayers for almost $110 million in VET FEE-HELP loans. Former sales broker Chris Chambers confirmed that sales brokers were taking the entrance exams for potential students, and claimed he saw it happen 40 to 50 times.

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NSW university offers 2015UAC

20 January 2015     |     As in Victoria, the traditional January main round of university offers in NSW, through the University Admissions Centre (UAC), is decreasing in prominence in the calendar. Offers through the year and direct offers are becoming increasingly the norm. This year, universities have made 46,507 offers through UAC ‘s main round, down 4,307 (- 9%) on last year.

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Vice chancellor’s salary packages on the rise

Rocket increase

15 June 2015    |      Australia’s highest paid vice-chancellor, Michael Spence (University of Sydney) saw his salary package increase by $120,000 last year to reach $1.3 million, an analysis of annual reports by The Australian shows.   He was followed by Greg Craven from the Australian Catholic University ($1.2m); Glyn Davis, University of Melbourne ($1.08m); and Peter Coaldrake, Queensland University of Technology ($1.06m). In all, seven vice-chancellors had salary packages over $1m, including two who left or retired.  At the other end of the spectrum, the analysis of 2014 annual reports showed Kerry Cox, the recently retired head of Edith Cowan University, to be the country’s lowest paid vice-chancellor on $540,000.

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Hundreds of Vocation qualifications recalled

22 April 2015 | Private training provider Vocation has been forced to recall more than 1,000 of its qualifications, including hundreds in child care and Vocationaged care, after Victorian regulators found the courses were sub-standard. Almost 200 students who completed a Certificate III in Child Care, 250 students who completed a Certificate III in Aged Care, and 383 students with a double qualification of business studies will have to hand back their qualifications and inform their employers. A total of 832 students, who all studied with Vocation in Melbourne between January until June last year, are affected. This latest audit by the Victorian Registration and Qualification Authority (VRQA) follows an investigation last year which found about 6,000 students had studied sub-standard courses. More than 3,500 qualifications were recalled, and Vocation was forced to repay $19.6 million in state government funding.

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Victorian VET Funding Review announced

Bruce McKenzie15 February 2015    |      The new Victorian Labor government has announced a comprehensive, independent review of the funding of Victoria’s vocational education and training (VET) system, as presaged during the election campaign.   Minister for training and skills Steve Herbert says the VET Funding Review will provide a more sustainable model for public TAFE Institutes and private training providers.  Government contributions to public TAFEs fell from $733 million in 2011 to $468 million in 2014, leaving many TAFEs at risk of financial collapse.

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Higher education reforms referred back to Senate Committee

12 February 2015   |     Labor, the Greens and four independent senators (Senators Xenophon, Lambie, Muir, Rhiannon and Lazarus) have joined Stephen Parkerforces to establish another inquiry into higher education reform, to report by 17 March. The committee will consider alternatives to deregulation, likely future demand for places and implications on student loans, research infrastructure and regional provision. The inquiry will also look to investigate “the appropriateness and accuracy of government -advertising in support of higher education measures” and “other related matters”.   University of Canberra vice-chancellor Stephen Parker, a strident opponent of the government package, says that the government’s failure to review any options to deregulation was both a “process failure”  and “a democratic failure because it wasn’t flagged at the last election and it was even denied at the election.”

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Academic gongs Australia Day 2015

Order of Australia226 January 2015     |      Six hundred and thirty five Australians  have been recognised with Orders of Australia on Australia Day 2015, while a further 59 military and 130 meritorious awards were announced. Members of the tertiary education sector featured strongly in the honours list, with 81 awards, particularly in the upper categories.  People associated with the tertiary sector received 4 out of the 5 Companion awards (80%), 16 out of 38 Officer awards were to people associated with the tertiary sector (42%), 46 of 156 Member awards (29.5%), for a 33% of the higher awards.  In the most common category of Medal, only 15 of 434 awards were tertiary sector related people (3.4%). Women continue to be under represented with 33% of all awards, mainly in the Medal category.  Only four of the tertiary sector awards were to people in the VET sector.

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Vic to blitz “dodgy” VET providers

Deloitte2

29 June 2015       |       The Victorian Government is launching a major blitz to crackdown on “dodgy” training providers in order to lift standards in sector.   A review by Deloitte has revealed widespread abuses, including qualifications being issued to students who have no demonstrable skills, inappropriate marketing practices, short course duration, providers claiming government funding for non-existent training delivery and poor oversight of third parties delivering training.  Skills minister Steve Herbert said that since November 2014, the government has had to restore funding eligibility for more than 10,000 students who gained inadequate qualifications, and has found dubious practices in a range of qualification areas.

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Birmingham releases “synthesis report” on HE reform

Birmingham28 October 2015    |        The Commonwealth government has released a synthesis report of the past seven reviews of higher education over the past 30 years rather than conducting a further  separate review in the wake of its failed higher education reform package.  Education minister Simon Birmingham told the Australian Financial Review’s Higher Education Summit said that the government is under intense time pressures to come up with a new and revitalised higher education reform package after its the package devised by former education minister Christopher Pyne was rejected by the Senate twice, largely due to intense community opposition over the plan to deregulate university fees.

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Labor’s TAFE agenda in QueenslandAnnastacia3

With the Labor Party poised to form a minority government in Queensland, its promise to rescue the TAFE sector will now come into sharper Focus.  Queensland VET student numbers fell 38,000 in 2013.During the election campaign, Labor leader and soon to be premier Annastacia Palaszczuk  (who pronounces her surname as “Pallashay”) made a number of commitments to address the vocational educational and training system.

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The Zeitgeist 2015

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General relativity: How Einstein’s theory explains the universe, and more

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A century ago, in November 1915, physicist Albert Einstein unveiled a theory that would change the world — general relativity.  ABC science reporter Bernie Hobbs explains this mind bending theory – the development of which was driven by experiments that took place mostly in Einstein’s brain (that is, so-called “thought experiments”) .

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Einstein working at his desk

See
Research shows disorganised people are geniuses.
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What’s disrupting us

From Forbes Magazine

“The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle is offering a vision of autonomous driving in the future. The luxury saloon with total connectivity gives a preview of how the self-driving car of the future could become a platform for communication and interaction.”

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Best books1
As selected by the staff of Dymocks

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Best books2

“An emotionally-charged and often traumatic novel that is sure to shock you. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster, the likes of which I have never before experienced from a book. It’s my must-read title of 2015.”

See
10 of the best books from 2015 to add to your summer reading pile

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Images

From The New York Times

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“This was the year of the great unravelling, with international orders and borders challenged or broken, with thousands of deaths, vast flows of migrants and terrorist attacks on some of the most cherished symbols of civilization, both Western and Muslim.”

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Refugees2

 A child standing near police controlling a rush of refugees into Macedonia.

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The year in music

From Spotify’s playlist

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Spotify

Listen1

See
Pandora’s playlist

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At the movies

From Vogue Magazine

“I’ve never seen a Cannes screening more hushed than it was during Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s story about a reluctant female assassin (ravishing Shu Qi) during the Tang Dynasty. Although the story is a bit puzzling and rarefied—Hou plunges us right into 9th-century China—the film is a triumph of pure cinema, staggeringly beautiful in its evocation of a distant time and sensibility. It has the mysterious radiance of a Vermeer.”

Assasin

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The year in cartoons

Pope

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Image is everything

6 April 2015

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News Corp photographer Brad Hunter will join Tony Abbott’s media staff later this month, raising concerns that news photographers will gain less direct access to the prime minister.

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Abbott & kid asleep

The kid couldn’t take it any longer.

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Noticeboard

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The VET Store

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The VET Store is a  service by the VET Development Centre which provides access to a range of information to support VET practitioners in the work they do.

VET Development Centre
Click image to find out more!

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Chakra1Chakra

Chakara at 179 Acland St, St Kilda, and 387 Hampton St, Hampton has an extensive range of quality and unusual gift items. You can order online through Chakra’s Facebook page.

Chakra6

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Caroline2

Contact-me-150x150

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Click to listen
Click to listen

Radio Double Karma on Pandora

Adult contemporary music

The Fray…London Grammar…Leonard Cohen…Dixie Chicks…Peter Gabriel…Of Monsters and Men…Krishna Das…Cold Play…Snow Patrol….Clck hereAretha Franklin

You do need to sign up to listen but it’s free (for the first 40 hours a month)

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Is there something interesting near where you live and/or work? Got an interesting story? Got an event coming up? Tell us about it!

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The Scan in 2015

 26 December 2015

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On account of other pressing matters in 2015 published editions of The Scan, with a completely refreshed front page heralded to subscribers by an e-newsletter, were down quite a bit – just 21 in 2015 compared to 40 in in 2014. Nevertheless, some 350 items were posted, which is about 8 a week in The Scan’s year, a little down on the 10 items posted a week last year.

Traffic to the Scan website remained strong, down about 20% on last year’s figures. The Scan’s now extensive archive of nearly 3000 posts creates “organic” traffic: over one third of all Scan traffic now flows from search engines and referrals.

Regular readers will have noticed the little ads at the bottom of each page and post. We get paid a teensy weensy amount every time an ad is clicked: over the past three years those ads have contributed $88.02 to Scan coffers.

Most Scan visitors are located in Australia but we do have a small international readership, with visitors from about 100 countries in 2015. This is dominated by visitors from the US (6% of total traffic) who number about double every other country combined, followed by the UK with about 1% of the total.

This year’s top ten reads were heavily skewed towards the “VET crisis” and attempts by authorities (rather belatedly in our view) to stamp out the obvious rorting, particularly in VET FEE-HELP funding, which has been truly scandalous. In fact, the number one post this year on The Scan is also the number one post of all time and by quite a bit. If you enter “rorting” in the search box in the top right hand corner, the archive runs to 5 pages, VET FEE-HELP runs to another 5 pages (obviously with some overlap) and that’s only the start of it. Quite why NSW university offers rated so highly might be explained by the fact that NSW newspapers now provide precious little coverage of the event. The seemingly generous pay arrangements of vice-chancellors certainly attracted reader interest (and good on The Oz for pulling the story together) and academic gongs remains a perennial favourite. However, the weightiest issue of the year in higher education was the late Abbott government’s deregulation package which died ignominiously in the Senate and led to then minister Christopher Pyne’s manic performance as The Fixer in an interview with David Speers on Sky News. 

 

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Careers Australia caught up in enrolment scam

Careers Aust3 March 2015     |     One of Australia’s biggest private training providers is being accused of using salesmen who target disadvantaged areas and enrol poor students with fake entrance exams.   Careers Australia is a market leader in vocational education, with 16 campuses across five states and 14,000 students, and is expanding rapidly by engaging door-to-door salespeople to sign up new students to courses funded by the Federal Government.  Last financial year Careers Australia billed taxpayers for almost $110 million in VET FEE-HELP loans. Former sales broker Chris Chambers confirmed that sales brokers were taking the entrance exams for potential students, and claimed he saw it happen 40 to 50 times.  These literacy language and numeracy tests were to gauge the eligibility of the student to actually complete the course and potentially pay off their VET FEE debt.   Chambers alleged that communities with high welfare dependence like Hobart’s Bridgewater, Gagebrook and Herdsmans Cove were deliberately targeted.

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NSW university offers 2015UAC

20 January 2015     |     As in Victoria, the traditional January main round of university offers in NSW, through the University Admissions Centre (UAC), is decreasing in prominence in the calendar. Offers through the year and direct offers are becoming increasingly the norm. This year, universities have made 46,507 offers through UAC ‘s main round, down 4,307 (- 9%) on last year. But the total number of offers to date is actually up a little, at 76,339, up 1,542 ( + 2%) from last year’s 74,792. So, main round offers through UAC are now about 62% compared to 68% last year and almost 100% four or five years ago.

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Vice chancellor’s salary packages on the rise

Rocket increase

15 June 2015    |      Australia’s highest paid vice-chancellor saw his salary package increase by $120,000 last year to reach $1.3 million, an analysis of annual reports by The Australian shows.  Michael Spence, head of the University of Sydney, topped the list of 37 vice-chancellors, followed by Greg Craven from the Australian Catholic University ($1.2m); Glyn Davis, University of Melbourne ($1.08m); and Peter Coaldrake, Queensland University of Technology ($1.06m). In all, seven vice-chancellors had salary packages over $1m, including two who left or retired.  At the other end of the spectrum, the analysis of 2014 annual reports showed Kerry Cox, the recently retired head of Edith Cowan University, to be the country’s lowest paid vice-chancellor on $540,000.  The analysis shows that the average salary was $835,000. Male vice-chancellors earned, on average, $853,000 while their eight female counterparts earned an average of $769,000.

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Hundreds of Vocation qualifications recalled

22 April 2015 | Private training provider Vocation has been forced to recall more than 1,000 of its qualifications, including hundreds in child care and Vocationaged care, after Victorian regulators found the courses were sub-standard. Almost 200 students who completed a Certificate III in Child Care, 250 students who completed a Certificate III in Aged Care, and 383 students with a double qualification of business studies will have to hand back their qualifications and inform their employers. A total of 832 students, who all studied with Vocation in Melbourne between January until June last year, are affected. This latest audit by the Victorian Registration and Qualification Authority (VRQA) follows an investigation last year which found about 6,000 students had studied sub-standard courses. More than 3,500 qualifications were recalled, and Vocation was forced to repay $19.6 million in state government funding.

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Victorian VET Funding Review announced

Bruce McKenzie15 February 2015    |      The new Victorian Labor government has announced a comprehensive, independent review of the funding of Victoria’s vocational education and training (VET) system, as presaged during the election campaign.   Minister for training and skills Steve Herbert says the VET Funding Review will provide a more sustainable model for public TAFE Institutes and private training providers.  According to Herbert, the former Liberal government left Victoria’s training sector in crisis. Government contributions to public TAFEs fell from $733 million in 2011 to $468 million in 2014, leaving many TAFEs at risk of financial collapse.  At the same time, Herbert says the former government’s constant changes to subsidy rates have caused confusion and made it difficult to make long-term plans for private providers.  These sudden and repeated changes caused financial instability, undermining the ability of both TAFEs and private training providers to support Victoria’s growing industries.

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Higher education reforms referred back to Senate Committee

12 February 2015   |     Labor, the Greens and four independent senators (Senators Xenophon, Lambie, Muir, Rhiannon and Lazarus) have joined Stephen Parkerforces to establish another inquiry into higher education reform, to report by 17 March. The committee will consider alternatives to deregulation, likely future demand for places and implications on student loans, research infrastructure and regional provision. The inquiry will also look to investigate “the appropriateness and accuracy of government -advertising in support of higher education measures” and “other related matters”.   University of Canberra vice-chancellor Stephen Parker expects the legislation will be rejected for a second time by the Senate and wants to encourage a national discussion on alternatives to deregulation. University of Canberra vice-chancellor Parker, a strident opponent of the government package, says that the government’s failure to review any options to deregulation was both a “process failure”  and “a democratic failure because it wasn’t flagged at the last election and it was even denied at the election.”

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Academic gongs Australia Day 2015

Order of Australia226 January 2015     |      Six hundred and thirty five Australians  have been recognised with Orders of Australia on Australia Day 2015, while a further 59 military and 130 meritorious awards were announced. Members of the tertiary education sector featured strongly in the honours list, with 81 awards, particularly in the upper categories.  People associated with the tertiary sector received 4 out of the 5 Companion awards (80%), 16 out of 38 Officer awards were to people associated with the tertiary sector (42%), 46 of 156 Member awards (29.5%), for a 33% of the higher awards.  In the most common category of Medal, only 15 of 434 awards were tertiary sector related people (3.4%). Women continue to be under represented with 33% of all awards, mainly in the Medal category.  Only four of the tertiary sector awards were to people in the VET sector.

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Vic to blitz “dodgy” VET providers

Deloitte2

29 June 2015       |       The Victorian Government is launching a major blitz to crackdown on “dodgy” training providers in order to lift standards in sector.   A review by Deloitte has revealed widespread abuses, including qualifications being issued to students who have no demonstrable skills, inappropriate marketing practices, short course duration, providers claiming government funding for non-existent training delivery and poor oversight of third parties delivering training.  Skills minister Steve Herbert said that since November 2014, the government has had to restore funding eligibility for more than 10,000 students who gained inadequate qualifications, and has found dubious practices in a range of qualification areas.   He said the Government will spend $9 million on auditing, interviewing students, ensuring the paperwork was right and make sure they were getting “high-quality” training.  The priority is to crackdown on providers who are doing short course delivery about which there have been complaints and are suspected of not providing quality training.

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Birmingham releases “synthesis report” on HE reform

Birmingham28 October 2015    |        The Commonwealth government has released a synthesis report of the past seven reviews of higher education over the past 30 years rather than conducting a further  separate review in the wake of its failed higher education reform package.  Education minister Simon Birmingham told the Australian Financial Review’s Higher Education Summit said that the government is under intense time pressures to come up with a new and revitalised higher education reform package after its the package devised by former education minister Christopher Pyne was rejected by the Senate twice, largely due to intense community opposition over the plan to deregulate university fees.   The background paper summarises the findings of each major review of higher education from the 1988 Dawkins White Paper to the 2014 Kemp-Norton Review of the Demand Driven Funding System.

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Labor’s TAFE agenda in QueenslandAnnastacia3

With the Labor Party poised to form a minority government in Queensland, its promise to rescue the TAFE sector will now come into sharper Focus.  Queensland VET student numbers fell 38,000 in 2013.During the election campaign, Labor leader and soon to be premier Annastacia Palaszczuk  (who pronounces her surname as “Pallashay”) made a number of commitments to address the vocational educational and training system.

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Image is everything

6 April 2015

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News Corp photographer Brad Hunter will join Tony Abbott’s media staff later this month, raising concerns that news photographers will gain less direct access to the prime minister.

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Abbott & kid asleep
The kid couldn’t take it any longer

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You can see when the Christmas mood kicked in….

 The Scan traffic shows that to be about lunchtime Thursday 17 December….!

23 December 2015

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Christmas carols banned…..?

Bah! Humbug…..

The Australian     |      23 December 2015

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In those years in which Labor is in office in Victoria, you can be sure News Limited will run a story this time of the year about how Christmas in some respect has been “banned” in government schools.  This year it was an op-ed in The Australian by one Simon Breheny who claims that Victorian education minister James Merlino issued a “diktat” in effect banning Christmas carols in government schools.    Not so, says Merlino in this response which features prominently in the digital edition of  The Oz, but is reduced to a letter to editor in the print edition – and not even the first one on this issue.   The Victorian Education and Training Act 2006  explicitly acknowledges the right of freedom of religion and prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion or faith.  But it also provides that education in Victoria will be secular and will not promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect.  This means that priests, rabbis, imams, monks, nuns or lay people can’t waltz into schools during school hours to conduct religious activities and quite rightly so.  That can be done before school, after school, or during lunch time. The Oz described Breheny as the  director of the legal rights project at the Institute of Public Affairs; it left out the bit about him being president of the Young Liberal Movement of Australia.

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This time of year is often referred to as the “silly season” and I haven’t seen a better example of this than the article entitled Christmas Carol Ban Is Out Of Tune With Society by president of the Young Liberal Movement of Australia, Simon Breheny.

This ridiculous piece is all part of a Liberal Party campaign to convince Victorians that we have banned Christmas carols in schools. Not only is this untrue, it is a shameful attempt to drive a wedge in our community.

Victorian schoolchildren — like my own daughters who attend government schools — can sing any Christmas carol they want at their school.

From classics such as Away in a Manger, Silent Night, and Oh Come All Ye Faithful, to Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Jingle Bells.

The guidance given to Victorian principals this year was clear: schools can put up Christmas decorations or pictures of Santa, sing carols or decorate Christmas trees on school grounds, as these items have a cultural place in Australian society.

The guidance also stated that other activities, such as colourful celebrations during Diwali and candle lighting during Hanukkah, were not banned.

However, if an outside provider such as Access Ministries, or a volunteer group, wishes to come to a school and sing religious songs, this is considered Special Religious Instruction and must be done before school, after school, or during lunch time.

The guidelines exist to make it clear that there is no proselytising in Victorian government schools.

These lies are creating unnecessary angst within the community, and those spreading this misinformation should be ashamed. I wonder if these MPs and others who are pushing this lie have taken a moment to read the comments of those they are inciting on their Facebook pages? Do they support the bile of the United Patriots Front or English Defence League, who are now sharing their posts online?

The Liberal Party needs to come clean with its constituents: tell them the truth, and stop trying to score cheap political points in the lead-up to Christmas.

I hope you all enjoy singing your favourite carols with family and friends this Christmas … I know I will!

Silent Night” (German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in the Austrian Empire on the Salzach river in present-day Austria. A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. He had already written the lyrics of the song “Stille Nacht” in 1816.  The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the church service. Both performed the carol during the mass on the night of December 24.   It was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2011.

 

 

Woolworths – the poker machine people

Christmas, brought to you by Woolworths

20 December 2015

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BANNED: Channel 9 is refusing to run Get Up’s  new TV ad exposing Woolworths as Australia’s largest poker machine owner. Why? Because “Woolworths are a key business partner”. Ok – we’re not so check out the ad Channel 9 won’t let you see, then share it.

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Cruz Christmas Classics

Really quite bizarrre – but grabbing attention

 

Star Wars: Is it possible to build a real-life lightsaber?

ABC News   |   17 December 2015

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Researchers say the concept of a lightsaber* would not work in reality but lasers could be used to create something vaguely similar to the famous Jedi sword.  Physicists at the University of Queensland (UQ) are exploring the possibility of creating real-life lightsabers in the wake of the much anticipated instalment of the seventh Star Wars film.

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Research physicist Martin Ringbaue said a real lightsaber would not work Light sabresbecause the beams of light would simply pass through each other.

“The biggest problem with the lightsaber is that light doesn’t just stop at the end,” Mr Ringbaue said.

“You can’t just make a laser stop without it hitting something solid or being reflected back on itself with a mirror.”

He said a real-life lightsaber would be useless in a battle against the dark side.

“Light doesn’t like to interact with itself, so two beams of light would actually pass through each other, which wouldn’t be very useful in a fight,” Mr Ringbaue said.

A new hope for real lightsabers

But research physicist James Bennett said lasers and plasma could be used to turn the fictional weapon into a reality.

“You can make something that is vaguely like a lightsaber,” Mr Bennett said.

“If you read the nerdy story behind Star Wars, it’s not light in a lightsaber, it’s actually plasma which is contained in a loop that feeds back into itself.

“We can contain plasmas and it’s something we have been doing for decades now.”

Mr Bennett said it was possible to create plasma with lasers.

“Currently, we have very powerful industrial lasers that can cut through steel, used, for example, in car manufacturing,” Mr Ringbauer said.

However, Mr Ringbauer said he did not think technology was in reach of creating lightsabers in this world.

*In Australian English that would be lightsabre, but what the heck, the Starwars people “invented” the things and own the spelling.

Acquire in the dock

Fairfax Media   |   18 December 2015

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Acquire Learning is the latest training company to land in the Federal Court accused of unconscionable conduct and false or misleading behaviour after it sold tens of thousands of government-funded courses to vulnerable job-seekers.  The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has alleged before the Federal Court that the company bought the details of unsuccessful applicants on job websites, then cold-called them to sell expensive diploma courses.

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Acquire Learning1

The courses, funded under the federal-government funded VET FEE-HELP loan scheme, cost between $19,000 and $52,000.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims says the Victoria-based company took advantage of vulnerable consumers and used “unfair tactics” and placed “undue pressure” to convince consumers to enrol.

A script for Acquire call centre operators shows that people looking for jobs online were told by telemarketers: “We are all about helping people land their dream job.”

The script also promises a free computer or iPad for signing up to a course, which has since been made illegal under federal legislation. Job seekers were also promised “the edge over other applicants”.

The ACCC says telemarketers signed up unsuitable people to courses, and misled them that the primary purpose was not selling an educational service, but getting the “client a job”.

In return, Acquire was paid large commissions by the training organisations they sold on behalf of, while students “did not receive the promised employment prospects and were left with a significant VET FEE-HELP debt,” according to the ACCC.

Fairfax Media has been told that 7%  or fewer of people signed to courses through Acquire actually completed the course.

One job seeker was told, falsely, “we actually put 4217 people … into jobs last month”.

Sims acknowledges that the behaviour, which took place between July 2014 and March 2015, was historical, and the company had made “large strides” towards improving it.

But he said while it was going on it was “so egregious that it can’t go unrecognised”.

Acquire has recently moved from being strictly a sales company, having bought a majority stake in jobs website CareerOne (where Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation remains a minority shareholder). It also bought its own training organisation, Franklyn Scholar.

 

See
ACCC targets training broker Acquire Learning & Careers

50 Future Fellowships announced

17 December 2015

Future Fellowships

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The Australian Research Council has announced grants of $38.6 million to support 50 Future Fellows at 17 universities.  The Future Fellowship scheme provides four-year fellowships to outstanding Australian mid-career researchers. The aim of Future Fellowships is to attract and retain the best and brightest mid-career researchers in Australia rather than head off overseas to advance their careers.  Details of the approved projects are HERE.

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Future Fellowships 2015 funding outcomes—Snapshot by State and Organisation
Administering Organisation Total number of projects Total ARC funding
Australian Capital Territory 5 $3,751,315
The Australian National University 5 $3,751,315
New South Wales 13 $10,385,527
Macquarie University 5 $3,683,068
The University of New South Wales 1 $903,625
The University of Newcastle 1 $690,352
The University of Sydney 3 $2,477,935
University of Wollongong 3 $2,630,547
Queensland 9 $7,129,434
Griffith University 3 $2,144,131
Queensland University of Technology 1 $812,460
The University of Queensland 5 $4,172,843
South Australia 2 $1,724,012
The Flinders University of South Australia 1 $919,052
The University of Adelaide 1 $804,960
Tasmania 1 $660,751
University of Tasmania 1 $660,751
Victoria 18 $13,390,272
La Trobe University 2 $1,518,207
Monash University 8 $6,065,659
Swinburne University of Technology 2 $1,364,704
The University of Melbourne 6 $4,441,702
Western Australia 2 $1,606,689
The University of Western Australia 2 $1,606,689
Total 50 $38,648,000