Always a pleasure to attend the end of year/Grade 6 leavers assembly at my children’s old school – Blackmans Bay Primary.
Awards recognising an astounding array of skills and talent across the board were plentiful. Best of luck for the future to all and a safe and happy Christmas to the whole school community.
That’s the last school assembly for me for 2017!
Second last school assembly for the year for me. Not particularly good photo but I had a lovely time at Illawarra Primary School this morning.
Best wishes and farewell to all the Grade 6 leavers. Thankyou to all the staff and the broader school community for the great work undertaken through 2017. Safe and happy Christmas to all.
Congratulations to all the award winners at Rose Bay High School‘s 2017 Achievement Afternoon and good luck to the grade 10 leavers on your future endeavours.
I was delighted to sponsor and present the Grade 7 Reader of the Year Award to Rian Lynch.
A wonderful awards ceremony and prayer service at St Aloysius Catholic College this morning where I was proud to sponsor and present the Arts Award.
It was a great pleasure to be invited to the Rowallan Park Christmas lunch yesterday. Thank you to the parishioners for such lovely food and company . It was wonderful to catch up with a number of friends. I also met (newish) Minister Michael and Sue…I think we might get on OK! You are an amazing inclusive community and I look forward to working with you as you develop further.
Such a heartwarming experience to see so many generous raffle ticket buyers and people leaving donations today at Kingston Town Shopping Centre in support of Kingborough Helping Hands‘s Raffle and Sharing Tree. Huge thanks to Woolworths Kingston Town for their generous support.
Donations for Walk4BrainCancer Tasmania 2017 are now closed and the official total is $36,450.
This is thanks to a great effort by walkers, fundraisers, sponsors and volunteers.
Your amazing efforts bring the funds raised by this event over the four years to more than $120,000 and have contributed to more than $2 million being raised by Walk4BrainCancer nationally.
It is great to see so many people supporting the excellent work of Cure Brain Cancer.
“There should have been other treatments options. There were none. We must do better.”
This is how one witness described the experience of his wife being diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma. It is an experience that the Committee into Low Survival Cancers heard time and time again.
Because low survival cancers kill thousands of Australians every year.
Despite being less prevalent than other cancers, survival rates for these cancers are below 50%, and for some like brain cancers, around 20%, or even lower.
For many of these cancers treatment options are limited. For others, there are none.
We must do better.
After twelve months, seven public hearings and over 300 submissions, today I tabled the final report of the Senate Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates.
I am proud to have chaired this Committee. The Committee has made 25 recommendations that we hope will improve survival rates for those diagnosed with these cancers.
We have called for an action plan to improve the survival rate of low survival rate cancers to more than 50% by 2027.
We have also recommended that the National Health and Medical Research Council consider identifying low survival rate cancers in its next corporate plan.
I hope the government takes action on these recommendations. For too long not enough has been done.
For a copy of the full report visit: https://www.aph.gov.au/…/Fund…/FundingResearchCancers/Report
Posted in In Canberra
I present the report of the Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates, together with the Hansard record of proceedings and documents presented to the committee.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Senator BILYK: I move:
That the Senate take note of the report.
For many years, I felt like a lone voice in the Senate talking about brain cancer and other low-survival cancers.
While others have paid tribute to individuals who have suffered from these diseases, in general these cancers have not received the attention that they deserve. But the inquiry by the Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates has finally given the issue the attention it deserves. I have been proud to be the chair of this committee. Continue reading →
I encourage all Australians to register as organ and tissue donors and to discuss their donation decisions with their families.
Earlier this month, I hosted an annual fundraiser which I’ve been organising for four years now. The fourth annual Walk4BrainCancer Tasmania was held at Dru Point Bicentennial Park in Margate. While donations are still being received after the event, we have so far raised more than $36,000, and this brings the total funds raised from Walk4BrainCancer Tasmania over the four years to just over $120,000. This year, Walk4BrainCancer nationally has raised close to $2 million. All money raised goes to Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, the largest dedicated brain cancer charity in Australia. Continue reading →
“Australia has sent a strong message and that message is ‘get on with the job’… The sky will not fall. The time for marriage equality is now.”
I would like to reiterate Senator Moore’s comments in regard to Senator Smith. Senator Smith, you have shown great courage in bringing this matter forward and I do congratulate you on that. You have done an amazing thing for so many people within Australia. I think you’ll go down in history—and I’m proud for you to do that. So there you go!
It’s clear to the vast majority of Australians that it’s time that marriage equality was finally legislated. We have seen this issue delayed by the government for far too long. Too many people have had their rights denied for too long and too many people have been hurt by this debate. On 15 November 2017 the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that over 60 per cent of Australians supported a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry, and the results of the survey confirmed what we already knew from a string of published opinion polls—that Australians overwhelming supported an end to discrimination of same-sex couples when it comes to our marriage law. Not only did the government waste over $100 million on telling parliament something that we already knew but they also ignored warnings about how holding a national plebiscite or survey would encourage homophobic hate speech and increase anxiety for LGBTIQ Australians. Continue reading →
Congratulations to St Aloysius Catholic College on their fantastic Mosaic exhibition held last night at the Waterside Pavilion. I was proud to officially open the exhibition, which features student work from prep to grade 10 covering music, art, food, VET and ICT.
The students were able to prepare and professionally present their work thanks to new visual arts, technology and manual arts facilities. Labor in government contributed $3.6 million to these and other facilities at St Aloysius through the Building the Education Revolution program.
It also gave me a chance to catch up with two of my great nephews, Sam and Riley. It’s hard to believe how tall they are now!
Thanks Rodney Croome for dropping in to talk about marriage equality ahead of the vote next week.
Great to visit Foodbank Tasmania and hear about the great work they are doing providing 2.5 million meals to Tasmanians every year.
Posted in In The Community
There were some really exciting project ideas on display at the University College Student Showcase this afternoon.
Associate Degree students in Applied Business, Agribusiness and Applied Design worked to provide innovative solutions to problems faced by Tasmanian small businesses. They demonstrated marketing, design and problem solving skills and I wish them the best with their further study or employment opportunities.
We have reached our fundraising target of $35,000. Congratulations to all Walk4BrainCancer participants on an amazing effort!
Remember, even though the walk has finished you can still raise funds and all donations of $2 or more are tax deductible. To sponsor a walk participant visit http://www.walk4braincancer.com.au/events/79/w4bc-tasmania-2017
Brilliant work by everyone involved. Thanks for your generous support for Cure Brain Cancer.
Today, 20 November, is World Children’s Day. On this day in 1959 the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. On the same day in 1989 they adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Thank you Carey & Laura Denholm for inviting me to a DonateLife Thank You Day forum and the launch of their book ‘The Carer’. It was a pleasure to introduce the guest speakers and to help promote the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation.
Wonderful to catch up with so many people at the Huon Show today including St James Catholic College. Great raffle going on.
Great weather, great conversations out and about with Kevin Midson, at the Huon Show.
The lovely Alison Standen was also at the Huon Show today. We all had a busy day chatting to people about their issues.
Fantastic to see Huonville High School‘s Nic Smith with the students from Coffee for a Cause. In addition to providing students with valuable barista experience and training, all profits from Coffee for a Cause go to the school’s Students Working Against Poverty (SWAP) group.
The students are currently fundraising for a trip to Vietnam in March next year to build a house in the Mekong Delta.
I am so proud to be Patron, and to work with, this wonderful organisation under the Presidency of the amazing Edna Pennicott (who also started the organisation some 30+ years ago)
Coming up to Xmas is KHH’s busiest time of year so please help them raise the money to help others less well off in the community. Come along, have some fun and enjoy the lunch.
Every cloud has a silver lining. While I can’t be in Canberra this week on doctor’s orders I thoroughly enjoyed attending Aged & Community Services Australia‘s Tasmanian Aged Care Awards 2017.
Congratulations to all the winners. It is thanks to you that many older Tasmanians are able to receive the quality aged care that they deserve.
Spent a lovely morning yesterday at the St Aloysius Catholic College and Parish Fair. It was an honour to be invited to officially open the event again this year. There was an enormous crowd and the weather was kind.
With such a huge effort planning, preparing and working on the day from people across the school community and beyond it had to be a great success. Thank you for inviting me.
What a great way to spend Sunday afternoon – attending a fundraising spring garden party and enjoying a delightful afternoon tea in a farm setting. This was in support of Fusion Food Relief Veggie Garden.
It was also able to catch up with recent developments there. The garden is completely staffed by volunteers and all produce is given away free to local agencies to assist those in need in the Kingborough area.
In spring/summer of 2016 they grew 960kg of veggies. I wonder how much they will manage this year?
Lest We Forgot
Posted inIn The Community
Delightful crowd at the Snug Tavern tonight. Thank you for the very generous $1,000 donation to Walk4BrainCancer Tasmania, bringing our total to more than $32,000. Many people present had walked on Sunday in memory of friends and family. I was privileged to meet the family of Peter Williams in memory of who the night’s event was held.
I visited Mountain Engineering Small Engine Specialists in New Norfolk with Jen Butler – Labor for Lyons. Thank you Rick for taking the time to talk to us about the importance of supporting local small businesses.
Great coffee! Thanks for the giant wagon wheel!
Small business is the engine of the Australian economy, representing 97% of businesses and employing 4.7 million Australians. Supporting small businesses helps keep more of your money in the local economy. For more on the #ShopSmallAU campaign visit http://www.shopsmall2017.com.au.
My Talking Point article, published in The Mercury Newspaper today, talks about the terrible impact of brain cancer, which kills more Australian children than any other disease.
Often a lone voice in Parliament on this issue, I have now spent nine years advocating for greater investment in the development of brain cancer treatments to improve survival rates.
IT is a little known yet tragic fact that brain cancer kills more Australian children than any other disease.
Every year in Australia the equivalent of a classroom full of children dies from this terrible disease.
As chair of a Senate Select Committee inquiring into cancers with low survival rates, I have heard from parents with young children who have died from brain cancer, or who face the prospect of dying at a young age.
Their stories are heartbreaking, and they are desperate for answers — and action. A parent is willing to do anything for their child, even lay down their life, and I cannot begin to imagine the horror experienced by a parent watching their son or daughter dying and feeling powerless to help.
One of the hardest questions they have to answer is: “Am I going to die?”
I know what it is like to face the fear and uncertainty that comes with a brain cancer diagnosis. When I was diagnosed with two brain tumours, which were successfully removed, I was told there was a very real prospect I could have died or been left in a vegetative state following my surgery.
I consider myself incredibly lucky. The prospects are quite grim.
Only 22 per cent of brain cancer patients survive more than five years after diagnosis, and many who survive have to confront the fear their cancer might return.
Not only is the survival rate low, it remains roughly the same as it was three decades ago. It gets even worse for people diagnosed with the most aggressive forms, such as gioblastoma, which kills all but around 10 per cent of patients.
Compare this to paediatric leukaemia. Fifty years ago, nine out of 10 children died. Through fundraising and research, this has been reversed and nine out of 10 children now survive.
Brain cancer until recently received less than 5 per cent of Commonwealth cancer research funding, and its share had been declining.
The announcement that the Federal Government, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation and others will establish a $100 million fund, the Australian Brain Cancer Mission, that aims to double the survival rate within a decade is welcome news.
This announcement would not have happened without the effort of Australians who have not only been advocating for an increase in government funding but working hard to raise private funds.
Half will be contributed by philanthropic organisations, including $20 million from the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, of which I am an ambassador.
I take some pride in knowing I have contributed to this outcome through years of advocacy. For the nine years I have been campaigning I have felt like a lone voice in Parliament.
As well as campaigning for government funding, I have organised events which have raised more than $100,000.
Each year I organise a fundraising walk for Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, the largest dedicated charity for brain cancer research.
The fourth annual Walk4BrainCancer Tasmania is at Dru Point Bicentennial Park at Margate on Sunday.
As well as the 2km inspirational walk along the banks of North West Bay, there will be a sausage sizzle, raffle, live music and a memorial service.
Last year’s walk had more than 300 registered walkers and raised more than $44,000.
This disease has taken so many lives and affected so many people. So many people I speak to have a story about a friend, colleague or family member affected.
While I and others in the brain cancer community are excited about the funding announcement, we are well aware there is much more to be done.
Register for Walk4BrainCancer at walk4braincancer.com.au/events/79/w4bc-tasmania-2017
Tasmanian Labor Senator Catryna Bilyk is a brain cancer survivor and chair of the Senate Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates.
Join me this Sunday in Margate for the fourth annual Walk4BrainCancer Tasmania. So far we’ve raised over $14,000 for brain cancer research. It’s been a phenomenal effort but I know we can do more!
Register or donate online at https://www.walk4braincancer.com.au/ev…/…/w4bc-tasmania-2017
Thank you Dustin Perry for acknowledging my years of advocacy on brain cancer funding, and thank you for also lending your voice to the cause. Despite often feeling like a lone voice in the Parliament on this issue it is so rewarding to have this major breakthrough!
November is Asbestos Awareness Month. The key message of the month is not to play ‘renovation roulette’ and expose your family to the dangers of asbestos. Visit this site to find information on how to check for and safely handle asbestos, which can be found in any home built or renovated before 1987.
This is fantastic news for brain cancer survivors, their families and carers, as well as those who will be diagnosed with brain cancer in future.
With a survival rate that has barely moved in three decades, it is high time as a nation we made a special effort to combat the cancer which is the number 1 disease killer of Australian children.
As Chair of the Senate Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates, a brain cancer survivor, and a long-time advocate for improving brain cancer survival, I welcome this announcement.
291 Australians lost their lives to drowning between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017. Further statistics on drownings in Australia can be found in the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia‘s annual drowning reports, available at https://www.royallifesaving.com.au/…/resea…/drowning-reports
Remember, drowning is preventable. A few of the many ways we can help prevent drowning are:
– wear a lifejacket
– supervise children…
– learn CPR and first aid
– avoid alcohol around water
– learn lifesaving skills
Thank you to the society and its hardworking employees, including my friend Karina Siggins, for the great work that they do promoting water safety and working towards Australia being a nation free from drowning.
In celebration of my (part) Indian heritage I am pleased to wish everyone a Happy Diwali.
Typically celebrated over a five-day period, Diwali, the Hindi festival of lights, is also an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Sindh Province of Pakistan.
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Newar Buddhists. It marks events and stories that symbolise the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.
Posted inIn The Community
We think of Australia as the lucky country, but did you know that over three million Australians are living in poverty, including 731,000 children?
This week is Anti-Poverty Week and I have once again launched a gift drive to help our wonderful local charity, Kingborough Helping Hands to help people less fortunate in our local community enjoy the kind of Christmas that the rest of us take for granted.
Donated gifts can be dropped off to my office in Kingston Plaza. Cash donations to Kingborough Helping Hands can be made at Bendigo Bank in Channel Court Shopping Centre, and donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.
Continue reading →
Today is headspace Day – a national day to raise awareness of youth mental health.
Here’s my tip for a healthy headspace. Visit http://headspaceday.org.au and share yours!
Fun event today at Kingston Twin Ovals in the build up to the Grand Final. Thanks to all the sponsors and my local Kingborough Tigers footy club. A lovely lunch followed by discussion with Grant Birchall (Hawthorn) and Paul Williams (prev Collingwood). Go Tigers!
Commemorative plaques were unveiled today at the Cygnet War Memorial by Australian War Memorial Director, Dr Brendan Nelson, and Her Excellency Professor Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania, honouring three local Victoria Cross recipients.
Thank you to the Cygnet RSL Club for recognising the bravery and sacrifice of these men who fought for our freedom.
Millions of heterosexual couples in Australia have been able to marry without having their rights questioned by a taxpayer-funded public opinion poll. So why can’t same-sex couples expect the same?
I was pleased to relaunch the Australian-Ukrainian Parliamentary Group last night. As Deputy Chair I look forward to continuing my long association with this group and the Ukrainian Community to develop closer relations between our two countries.
Good to have representatives of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations, Chair Chris Crewther and the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the event.
I am pleased that the Government and Opposition have a strong bipartisan commitment to Australia’s relationship with Ukraine, including our determination to bring to justice the perpetrators of the MH17 attack.
Thank you to Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations for acknowledging my commitment to Australia-Ukraine relations as Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Friendship Group.
I am pleased to accept this award in memory of my late father-in-law, John Bilyk, who was born in Ukraine.
It was a pleasure to have Australian actress and entertainer Olivia Newton-John visit Parliament to meet with a range of people including members of the Australian Parliament’s Brain Cancer and Tumour Awareness Group (BC&TAG) and hear about her battle with breast cancer and her sister’s battle with brain cancer.
I was particularly pleased to learn of the excellent work being done by the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, which is working to translate scientific discovery into new, better cancer treatments.
As Chair of the Senate Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival rates I was excited to receive a breakfast briefing from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Vodafone Foundation on fast-tracking cancer research through the power of smart phones.
100,000 users have so far downloaded an app which uses the processing power of smart phones while they are idle to process big data for precision cancer research, making up for the Institute’s …limited access to supercomputers.
Users can download the app from the Google Play store at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.com.vodafone.dreamlabapp
The Vodafone Foundation is working to make the app available for iPhone.
Posted inIn Canberra
The Ukrainian community have made a long contribution to our nation. In fact the first Ukrainian migrant to Australian arrived in 1788.
I was pleased to celebrate the 26th Anniversary of Ukrainian independence last night. It was lovely to meet so many local Ukrainian-Australians.
Thank you to H.E. Dr Mykola Kulinich, the Ambassador for Ukraine, for inviting me along as Deputy Chair of the Australian-Ukraine Parliamentary group.
Today I met with Australian Seafarers outside Parliament House.
Shipping plays an important economic and strategic role in the operation of the Australian economy as we are the fourth largest shipping task in the world.
You can support their campaign by heading along to www.saveaustralianshipping.com.au
I was glad to meet members of Girl Guides Australia at this morning’s ‘Guiding at the House’ event in Parliament House.
Girl Guides Australia is one of the largest organisations in Australia for girls and young women.
It provides leadership and personal skills development to its 30,000 members, including 22,000 youth members.
If you’re interested in joining, find your local club and get involved!
Once again, we are in this place discussing changes to workplace relations laws and yet we haven’t seen an overarching narrative from the government about what their entire intent in the area of workplace relations is. Over 1½ years have passed since the Productivity Commission report into Australia’s workplace relations system was handed down, and, in what has come to be standard operating procedure for this dysfunctional government, there has been no government response to that Productivity Commission report.
The Australian public are completely in the dark about which Productivity Commission recommendations the government does or does not agree with. This coalition government does not have the courage to put a workplace relations policy to the people of Australia, because they know that the Australian people don’t want to see wages cut, they don’t want to see conditions cut and they don’t want to see their friends, families and neighbours exploited. We just get piecemeal pieces of legislation like the Fair Work Amendment (Repeal of 4 Yearly Reviews and Other Measures) Bill, without any explanation of where they are going. They want to keep things hidden, because we know that when the coalition come clean on their workplace relations policy we get things like Work Choices. The government saw how furious Australians got with such an unfair, anti-worker change to our nation, and they saw how millions of Australians fought back and defeated the Howard government at the 2007 election. That is why they keep sniping at the workplace relations system, piece by piece. Continue reading →
September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and it is a time when cancer organisations around the world put the spotlight on children’s cancer and the need to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes. We need to do more to drastically improve childhood cancer survival rates in Australia and across the world. In Australia, over 700 children aged nought to 14 are diagnosed with cancer every year, and about 100 will die from the disease. Of those children, 35 or so each year are children who suffered from brain cancer.
The awareness month is the idea of Childhood Cancer International, CCI, which was founded in 1994 as an umbrella organisation of childhood cancer grassroots and national parent organisations. CCI is a global, parent driven non-profit organisation that represents 181 parent organisations, childhood cancer survivor associations, childhood cancer support groups and cancer societies in 90 countries across five continents. In September every year, CCI members and childhood cancer champions, advocates and supporters encourage iconic buildings, historic landmarks, monuments, bridges and natural environment to go gold by lighting up in gold or by hanging huge gold ribbons. So it was good to see, late last week, the photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up in gold in support of this cause. Other buildings in Melbourne, Fremantle and other locations around Australia are also going gold during September for this great cause. Continue reading →
Yesterday, the Sunday Tasmanian published an article about the need to drastically improve brain cancer survival rates for children. Every year in Australia over 35 children die of brain cancer-sadly it kills more Australian children than any other disease.
Many parents have told the Senate Select Committee into Low Survival Cancers, which I Chair, of their anguish and frustration with the limited treatment options available and the terrible impact this disease has had on their families.
It is utterly heart-breaking that so many children die from this cancer. Thanks to The Mercury Newspaper and other News ltd papers for recognising that we drastically need to improve survival rates for brain cancer patients and for throwing your support behind this issue.
Click on the images to see a bigger version.
Malcolm Turnbull’s latest budget cut a further $637 million from TAFE and vocational education funding over the next four years.
This will mean higher fees and fewer courses.
These cuts come at a terrible time.
Australia now has 130,000 fewer apprentices and trainees than when the Liberals were elected.
I am pleased to support the Australian Education Union Tasmania‘s ‘Stop TAFE Cuts’ campaign. Vocational education from TAFE is vital to create and secure jobs in rural and regional areas like Tasmania.
Earlier this week I gave a talk to the University of the 3rd Age (U3A) Kingborough about the role of a Senator and what my typical week entails. Thanks to the group for inviting me to speak, and for the insightful questions that were asked.
It was very heartening to meet so many local residents who want to continue their education through the U3A.
The U3A is a great organisation, with groups around Tasmania. You can find your local group through their website at: https://www.u3aonline.org.au/find-a-u3a?combine=Tasmania
Some people are simply an inspiration.
They do amazing things, just to help others.
Col Reynolds is one of these people. 25 years ago he decided to start a charity to support research into childhood cancer.
Since 1993, The Kids’ Cancer Project has raised over $36 million to assist childhood cancer research, which is a remarkable feat.
Today, the Kids Cancer Project committed $140,000 over 2 years to support access to clinical trials for Tasmanian children and Adolescent/Young Adult (AYA) cancer patients. The project will assist with the establishment of a state-wide Children’s and AYA Cancer Clinical Trials Unit at the Royal Hobart Hospital.
This will make an extraordinary difference to the lives of many Tasmanian children and AYA patients with cancer and their families.
Many families will no longer need to spend weeks or months separated while treatment is sought on the mainland, a stressful and expensive process that can be very difficult for families.
The children on the trials will be able to be treated in their home state, closer to friends and supportive family members.
More must be done to eradicate childhood cancers, but today’s announcement was a great step forward.
Today is NeverOK day.
NeverOK Day will be held at 8 universities around Australia, including at the University of Tasmania.
It gives students, staff, and our community an opportunity to come together to raise awareness of sexual harassment and assault on campus, lift the visibility of support services and say with a collective voice that sexual harassment and assault is Never OK.
A great night at the ABC showcase with my Labor colleagues and some of my favourite characters. It just reminds us all of the value of our national public broadcaster and why we need to fight to defend it from attacks by the conservative side of politics.
There are some organisations that we come across that we realise do incredible work within our communities. One of those is CanTeen. They do an amazing job providing support and services for young people living with cancer. Cancer is a terrible disease. It wreaks utter havoc on people’s lives. In particular, it can be an extremely difficult time if you’re a teenager or young adult and you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer. It can be scary and it can be isolating. You can feel like you’re alone, or that you need to take on responsibility far ahead of your years. But if you’re one of these young people, there is a community of other young people across Australia who are in the same situation and who you can turn to for advice and support. CanTeen is an incredible resource and is there to help.
I was fortunate enough recently to be invited to the Tasmanian headquarters of CanTeen to meet with staff, volunteers and some teens who access their services. They talked me through their range of programs and services, and I heard from people at all levels of the organisation, including the national CEO, young people whose lives have been affected by cancer, psychosocial support staff, young people in leadership positions and a cancer support nurse. I would sincerely like to thank them for providing me with a better insight into what CanTeen is about and the services CanTeen offers.Continue reading →
I’m pleased that I was given some time today to talk on the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017. It’s good that, having seen levels of abuse of workers’ rights that not even this government could ignore, we are finally presented with the bill. Over the last couple of years, just some of the high-profile cases of exploitation of workers we’ve heard about include 7-Eleven shop assistants, Myer cleaners and Pizza Hut delivery drivers. But what we need to remember is that not all cases have been high profile. There has been consistent evidence of the exploitation of workers taking place over quite some time.
It is utterly despicable that in 2017 we’re still hearing of exploitation of workers on such a large scale. Labor senators welcome the provisions of the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017, which will reduce the exploitation of some vulnerable workers in Australia. However, Labor senators consider that in some aspects the bill as currently drafted falls well short of addressing the range of ways workers are exploited. It falls significantly short on the suite of legislative measures required to properly address the breadth of worker exploitation. Continue reading →
Unfortunately, we do have a need for a new vision for a stronger and fairer Australia. And that’s because this government has not got the ability to lead our nation. There is no leadership. Added to that, they fundamentally lack vision and a sense of what is fair. It’s as if they’re stuck in a time warp. They espouse policies from the 1950s without realising that the world has actually moved on, that the world has changed. And the policies the Australian government enacts for the Australian people need to change, too; they need to keep up-to-date.
Labor, on the other hand, has a vision for a stronger and fairer nation. Only Labor will fight for secure jobs and fair wages. Only Labor will tackle rising power prices, invest in education and health and address housing affordability. And why is that? It’s because those opposite lack the courage, willingness or ability to fight for a better Australia. They’re content to keep on eroding workers’ rights and conditions because it suits them and their big-business mates. But we on this side believe Australia will be a stronger nation when we are a fairer nation, when everyone believes that they have opportunities, when everyone has potential to succeed and when loopholes in the law aren’t used by some to not pay their fair share. Continue reading →
At this morning’s National Science Week launch of the Young Australians’ Plan for the Planet, I caught up with teacher Caroline Remenyi and students Joel Cartledge and Harry Tunks of New Town High School.
New Town High School is one of only 20 Australian high schools to participate in the project. Each school developed their own sustainable development plan for their ‘EcoZone’ which were combined together into a national plan to be presented to the Government. For more information visit http://www.planfortheplanet.org.au/
It was also great to catch up again with Dr Nick Gales from the Australian Antarctic Division.
Posted inIn Canberra
Early in my working career, I was employed as an early childhood educator. I worked in childcare centres and then I ran my own family day care business. While the profession used to be simply referred to as ‘child care’, it was in those times that the title ‘early childhood educator’ was adopted. It was adopted to recognise that there is a much broader role for workers in this industry. We are not just carers but also skilled educators who help young children to learn and develop. We understand that learning begins from birth and that those who provide professional care for children while their parents are working or studying have a huge responsibility for that learning. As skilled professional educators, we understand a great deal about childhood development. As a former early childhood educator with over a decade of experience, I feel qualified to make some comments about the transition from early childhood education to school. Continue reading →
The #cancerresearchcommittee ‘s second Melbourne Hearing has just begun.
Too many people are losing their lives to low survival cancers, and I hope today’s hearing will provide further information about what we can do to improve survival rates.
We have a full program today with Ovarian Cancer Australia; Wehires; ANZCHOG National Parent and Carer Advisory Group; the Peter MacCallum Research Centre; Cancer Victoria as well as a number of cancer patients and their families from Tasmania.
You can listen live here: www.aph.gov.au/News_and_Events/Watch_Parliament
Security at Hobart Airport should not be compromised because of the Liberals’ cuts to the Australian Federal Police. I and my colleagues Julie Collins MP and Senator Carol Brown have launched a petition for an AFP presence to be reinstated at Hobart Airport.
I want to see as many young women as possible get involved with politics. The Country to Canberra competition is a great way for young, rural women to get involved.
At least 10 Australian students will win an all-expenses paid ‘Power Trip’ to Canberra to meet with politicians and CEOs, undertake leadership and public speaking training, tour Parliament and much more! To enter, young women just need to create a short video or written entry on our 2017 competition question.
The aim is to upskill and empower our next generation of young rural female leaders.
To win the Power Trip prize, entrants must be:
- Female students who are attending school in grades 10, 11 or 12 in 2017.
- Be 15 years of age by 2 December 2017.
- Attend a school that is located at least 50 kilometres away from a town with a population 80,000 persons or more.
With Shadow Minister for Justice Clare O’Neil MP, I and my Tasmanian Labor colleagues Julie Collins MP and Senator Carol Brown continue to call on the Turnbull Government for an explanation as to why Hobart Airport remains the only capital city airport without an Australian Federal Police presence.
I am pleased to announce that registrations are now open for Walk4BrainCancer Tasmania on 5 November 2017. If you want to walk and raise funds for brain cancer please register now and invite your friends to do the same. If you can’t make it on the day register anyway to help raise funds for research into a cancer which kills more Australian children than any other disease.
Today I met with Dr Di Stow, President of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) one of the leading peak bodies for counselling and psychotherapy in Australia. PACFA and the Australian Counselling Association have teamed up to create ‘The Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists’ (ARCAP).
I was thrilled to be invited to Huonville High School Let’s Get Together Student Action Day. The culmination of two terms work, the Action Day saw Year 7 students present 25 campaigns addressing issues around discrimination and diversity.
I just spoke at the Tasmanian Labor conference about the Turnbull Government’s poor record on palliative care in Tasmania. After subjecting Palliative Care Tasmania to a year of uncertainty – and imminent closure – they have provided a paltry $3 million to palliative care in Tasmania including $1.5 million to the peak body, funds which the Hodgman Government won’t be passing on until August.
This pales into comparison with Labor’s $54 million Better Access to Palliative Care package and our significant commitments during the 2016 Federal election campaign. The Turnbull & Hodgman Governments must do better for dying Tasmanians.
It was my honour to be invited to the opening of the new Snug Primary School Community Playground, which was made possible through a grant of $49,500 from the Tasmanian Community Fund, with matching funding from the school.
Playgrounds are essential for primary schools as they help children to learn, socialise and engage in physical activity.
Thank you to CanTeen Australia CEO Peter Orchard and Tasmanian Manager Shae Chester for hosting me at CanTeen’s Hobart office, as well as Madeleine, Sally, Vic, Alex, Sarah and Michelle for talking to me about the important work each of you do.
There are some organisations that just do incredible work in our communities. CanTeen is one of them. For young people aged between 12 and 25 and whose lives have been affected by cancer, CanTeen is an incredible resource. Canteen can provide support not only if a young person has or had cancer, but also if their sibling or parents have or had cancer. It provides opportunities for young people affected by cancer to escape the pressures of their daily lives for a while and make new friends.
I had a wonderful visit to the Howrah Men’s Shed to meet some of their 70 members. I witnessed some amazing creations including birdboxes (like the one pictured here), a children’s sandbox table and a computer-controlled wood router!
There are almost 1,000 men’s shed across Australia. The movement started as a mental health initiative, encouraging men to work and talk together, share companionship and talk about their problems. The most wonderful outcome of men’s sheds – as I have heard from members of the movement across Tasmania – is that they literally save lives.
Thank you for making me so welcome and your lovely hospitality.
Today I met with John Mula and Sean Gill from the Tasmanian Catholic Education Office to discuss the Turnbull Government’s so-called ‘Gonski 2.0’ funding deal for schools. A number of Catholic schools are worse off under the proposal, which has been presented to Parliament with no consultation with the Catholic education sector.
Despite Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s claims that there are ‘no special deals’ the new funding model does not compare apples with apples. It continues to rely on the outdated SES system of assessing need, and independent schools that would otherwise lose funding are given 10 years to transition to the new model while Catholic schools take a hit in year one.
The Government’s proposal represents an $85 million cut to Tasmanian schools over the next two years compared to Labor’s commitment in government. We will continue to fight for a better deal for all Tasmanian schools – government, independent and Catholic.
My local Priceline were offering free blood pressure checks so among my busy schedule I stopped by to check up on my mine. It is important for people to look after their health, especially in the cold winter months!
I was delighted to present Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to St. James Catholic College in Cygnet yesterday. Students at St James have been learning about the meaning of the symbols in these flags and I was impressed with the extent of their knowledge.
Many thanks to Principal Allan Clark for the kind invitation to your wonderful school. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.
Angela and I had a great discussion about the Hodgman Liberal Government’s misguided proposal to lower the school starting age and the devastating impact it would have on the early childhood education and care sector.
I recently had the pleasure of once again visiting the Port Cygnet Men’s Shed. Men’s sheds are an important mental health initiative that allow men to work together, develop valuable skills and share their issues in a friendly, supportive environment.
It is great to see the Port Cygnet Men’s Shed thriving.
Thank you to Clarence City Council in conjunction with Lifeline Tasmania‘s Chats South for organising a screening of the short film aWake Before Death followed by a discussion about death, dying and palliative care for National Palliative Care Week.
It was great to hear Palliative Care Tasmania‘s Colleen Johnstone share her invaluable insights into advance care directives.
It’s never too late to start a discussion with your loved ones about their (or your) end-of-life care wishes. aWake Before Death serves as a great discussion starter, and there are plenty of other fantastic resources available at http://dyingtotalk.org.au.
I had a wonderful visit to Bridgewater Community Centre and Jordan River Service Inc (Gagebrook Community Centre) with Jen Butler. Community gardens, programs to promote affordable healthy eating, a family support service and a driver education program are just a few of the many valuable services on offer.
Neighbourhood houses manage to get so much done because of their dedicated staff and volunteers who are so passionate about supporting their local community.
Thank you Tammy Bennett for inviting me to visit the Bagdad Childcare & Early Learning Centre. Interesting discussion on the Tasmanian Government’s short-sighted proposal to make Tasmania’s school starting age the lowest in Australia and the devastating impact it would have on the early childhood education sector.
As a former early childhood educator I understand the importance of play-based learning and that children as young as three-and-a-half years old are not ready for a formal school environment.
I was also delighted to have the chance to talk to some of the centre’s bright, inquisitive children. I could see that Tammy and her friendly staff are truly committed to providing the best care possible.
Posted inIn The Community
As a former early childhood educator I appreciate and understand the value of reading to developing children’s language skills, comprehension and imagination. I read to my own children – now young adults – when they were younger and I encourage reading at every opportunity.
It was a pleasure to join Julie Collins MP and read to children today at Maranoa Heights Community Centre. Next Wednesday is National Simultaneous Storytime 2017, hosted by the Australian Library and Information Association, where the same Australian storybook will be read at the same time to thousands of children across the country.
This year’s book is The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson illustrated by Laura Wood
Many people have problems with, or are concerned about, the roll-out of the NBN in Southern Tasmania. Along with Julie Collins, Brian Mitchell, and Michelle Rowland I held a forum on the Eastern Shore to hear some of the concerns and to help solve problems where we are able.
Well over 100 people turned up to have their say. We heard many concerning stories of people waiting for months to be connected, being supplied with the wrong advice, receiving multiple modems-or none, and some who are only a few kilometres from the Hobart CBD having no option but the satellite service.
Thank you to all that came along to have their say. We must keep this Government accountable for the second rate NBN. In a state like Tasmania with regions of high unemployment it is vital that we future-proof our economy to take advantage of every opportunity we have to showcase, and allow access to, our unique products and services to the world.
Thanks, Nellie Metcalfe and the Transport Workers Union – Vic/Tas, for bringing a lovely group of young Labor women to talk to me in my Parliament house office. I enjoyed engaging with their lively minds and answering their questions on range of topics-from the NBN to the disappointment of the budget, and from the arts to mental health and education. Underlying it all was the issue of women’s changing role in Australian society. It left me with the warm feeling that, if this sample is anything to go by, our future is in good hands.
When Labor was in Government we produced a Women’s Budget Statement because we know that budgets impact strongly on the women in our community. Unfortunately when the Liberals came to Government in 2014, they decided to axe the Women’s Budget Statement because they wanted to hide how women are impacted by their policies, cuts and spending. Since then we have produced a budget statement from Opposition.
Can I say—and I have said it before, Senator O’Sullivan—being loud does not make you right. And if you want to talk about the budget and what the budget did, could someone come in here and tell me what it did for Tasmania? We all feel like we were left off the map, except for being slugged with a tax hike. So if anyone can come in here and tell me what Tassie got out of it, I would be very happy to hear it. But I have digressed from my speech for today—
Honourable senators interjecting—
Senator BILYK: If I could hear myself over the interjections, Mr Acting Deputy President, it would help. But they do not put me off—as you know, I was a childcare worker for many years; I am used to three-year-olds screaming and yelling—so they can continue and I will start with my speech proper. Continue reading →
This morning I attended a morning tea to celebrate the contribution of volunteers in Australia. The theme of this year’s National Volunteer Week (8-14 May) is Give Happy. Live Happy. – recognising that research shows volunteers live longer, happier lives.
Thank you to Volunteering Tasmania for inviting me to give a smile for National Volunteer Week (8-14 May).
I would like to thank Australia’s 6 million volunteers for contributing over 700 million hours of service every year across Australia.
As someone who regularly volunteers for local charities—such as Kingborough Helping Hands and BCC Africa—I am pleased to hear that research has found that volunteers live longer, happier lives. So, not only is volunteering good for the co…mmunity—it’s good for volunteers!
If you’re not one of Australia’s 6 million volunteers then why not do yourself, and others, a favour and become a volunteer today.
I hope you find it as rewarding as I do.
It was my great pleasure to meet with Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Dr Mykola Kulinich. We had a friendly and broad-ranging discussion about Ukraine and Australia’s shared relations.
Thank you, Dr Kulinich for my beautiful gift.
Congratulations to Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania on the opening of their new premises and launch of their new advertisement.
For a comparatively small investment, neighbourhood houses and community centres have an enormous positive impact on their local communities.
I was proud to visit the Cygnet RSL tonight and present them with an Australian flag, received by President Barry Quinn.
Many community groups fly the national flag so they can celebrate the many achievements of our great nation. Australian and Aboriginal flags are available to not-for-profit groups through the constituent flag program on request from MPs’ and Senators’ offices.
Please contact my office on 6229 4444 if you are involved in a community group that would like to receive a flag.
Congratulations to authors Carey Denholm and Stefan Petrow on the launch of Dr Edward Swarbreck Hall, which I was pleased to attend today. You have written an excellent biography on a 19th Century Hobart surgeon, philanthropist and health reformer, who was one of the most fascinating figures in Tasmania’s history.
Posted inIn The Community
To mark National Neighbourhood House week, which this year runs from 1 May to 7 May, I attended today’s ‘Eating with Friends’ lunch at the Maranoa Heights Community Centre.
This year’s Neighbourhood House Week theme is ‘Belonging’. A wonderful community springs up around community houses, and I know that today’s attendees feel they have a sense of belonging when attending events here.
Thanks to all the volunteers and the cooks who made today’s wonderful lunch possible.
Informative meeting yesterday with Carolyn from Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA). Amongst other areas of concern we discussed the reasons for a Royal Commission into violence against people with a disability. Sadly, there is significant evidence of terrible abuse occurring against people with disability in our community.
I was glad to be able to attend the launch of Crimestoppers Week 2017, which is supported by a wide cross-section of our community. This year Crimestoppers Week is targeting the manufacture, supply and distribution of the illicit drug Ice as well as motor vehicle theft and shoplifting.
Crimestoppers has seen a 12% increase in the number of information reports it has received compared to this time last year, an increase largely due to the introduction of the new online reporting tool.
It was wonderful to see such a wide cross-section of the community supporting this not-for-profit organisation in its efforts to make our communities safer.
I encourage everyone to please report any suspicious behaviour they may see to the online reporting tool at http://www.crimestopperstas.com.au/ or by phone on 1800 333 000.
Reporting is anonymous. They only need your information to solve crime, not your name.
This is a fantastic initiative making healthy food more affordable and accessible for people in the suburbs of Bridgewater, Gagebrook and Herdsmans Cove.
More information about the co-op is available at http://waterbridgefood.org.
A recent Senate inquiry, estalished with the support of Labor, strongly backed the sustainability of Tasmania’s fin-fish aquaculture industry. Labor remains committed to a vibrant, sustainable aquaculture industry and it was pleasing to learn how the industry is growing and creating jobs throughout Tasmania.
Congratulations to A Fairer World working in partnership with Equal Opportunity Tasmania: office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner on a very successful Action Day as part of the Let’s Get Together diversity education program at Kingston High School.
It was great to see so many projects covering a huge variety of topics such as cyberbullying, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and homophobia.
I was very impressed with the ingenuity, thoughtfulness and enthusiasm students put into their projects as they considered how they can make a positive difference in the world.
Congratulations to the 17 people who chose to call Australia home today at the Clarence City Council chambers. Those of us fortunate to be born here understand what an honour it is to be a citizen of a prosperous, peaceful and democratic country like Australia.
I was pleased to congratulate in person Philiippine-born Australian Anna McDougall, the driving force behind Project Philippines Australia Inc, an initiative to help many people in her home country escape the poverty that she experienced as a child.
It is always a pleasure to donate items to support organisations with their fundraising efforts—and even better when I have the opportunity to attend these events too! One such wonderful event was the Jordan River Learning Federation’s (JRLF) ‘Farm Fest’ on Saturday. This event raises funds for the JRLF ‘Farm School’ which focuses on teaching important farm skills to students in the Bridgewater Area. Great to also catch up with Craig Farrell MLC Labor Member for Derwent who also showed his strong support for the event. Congratulations to ‘Friends of the Farm’ for their hard work in organising and running this event.
Lovely to once again attend the ‘Eating with Friends’ Easter lunch at the Maranoa Heights Community Centre with the Member for Franklin, Julie Collins MP. These events are a great way to get to know members of your local community. Thanks to all the volunteers and centre staff who helped to make this event a success.
Proud to support Australia’s music industry at Parliamentary Friends of Australian Music’s Rock the House event last night with my colleagues including Senator Glenn Sterle. A fantastic range of Australian musicians performed, but for me the highlight was Daryl Braithwaite. I took the opportunity to talk with Nicholas Pinkard from The Copyright Agency about the importance of copyright and royalties to Australian musicians.
Posted in In Canberra
I believe in the power of education to change lives. Education brings significant benefits to the individual and society and it allows individuals to gain access to better career opportunities and better life outcomes for themselves and their families. I also believe that access to a quality education is the right of every student. Every single student, no matter where they come from, no matter what their family background, should have access to a quality education. It is a right that we in this place should be ensuring. Whether it is in regional Tasmania or inner-city Sydney, it should not matter.
Labor believes that education funding should be needs based. In government, Labor recognised the urgent national importance of excellent and equitable schools and commissioned the biggest review of our school funding system in 40 years, the independent Review of funding for schooling. The review involved more than 70 education groups, 39 school visits—in every state and territory—and more than 7,000 submissions. This review, colloquially known as the Gonski review, found that falling attainment and growing inequality needed to be urgently addressed. The Gonski funding model is designed to ensure that all children are educated in properly resourced schools. The essence of Gonski is that funding goes to the schools and students who need it most, regardless of whether they are public or private. Not only is this important from an equity perspective but also it maximises the impact of the funding. Study after study has found that targeting funding at the most disadvantaged schools has the greatest impact. Continue reading →
Today I signed the ‘drive so others survive’ pledge for Fatality Free Friday with my colleague Julie Collins MP & Senator Alex Gallacher. You too can take the pledge to drive safely at https://www.fatalityfreefriday.com/individual/#.WNrpElV95aQ
The event was also a reminder about the upcoming National Road Safety Week which is taking place from 8-14 May.
Today we are discussing the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. The Attorney-General, Senator Brandis, the person I believe to be the worst Attorney-General in Australia’s history, has introduced this bill under the pretence of defending freedom of speech. Is it any surprise that the Attorney-General, after spending much of his ministerial career attacking the President of the Human Rights Commission for doing her job, would seek to introduce a bill that winds back human rights protections that have served Australians well for 20 years? Continue reading →
I am pleased to be able to stand up today to support the Education and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2017. A quality education is the best opportunity anyone can get to improve their life. While for some it is a university education, for many others it is a vocational education at TAFE or other training organisations. However, over the past few years we have heard numerous stories about dodgy and unscrupulous providers who have taken large amounts of funds in payments yet have delivered little meaningful training. Students and the Labor Party have been crying out for a VET Student Loans Ombudsman to act on the complaints of students and to bring some fairness back to the sector.
Education is an issue that I have had a particular interest in for many years, firstly through my employment background as an early childhood educator and currently as a member of the Senate Education and Employment References Committee. When I worked for the Australian Services Union, I was also their Tasmanian representative on a number of industry training boards. I wrote curriculum for early childhood education. I helped implement traineeships into local government in Tasmania for the very first time. So I have had quite a broad interest in education for many years. Continue reading →
It was a pleasure to attend the inaugural meeting of the Parliamentary Friends of Regional Arts and Culture in Parliament House today. Australia’s regional arts and culture sector is incredibly diverse, and tells the stories of Australia’s diverse population. It also employs tens of thousands of people across regional Australia, and is vital for our regions. It was great to talk to Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Friends Group, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, John Oster from Regional Arts Australia, and my Senate ‘Chamber-buddy’ Senator Malarndirri McCarthy – Northern Territory about the importance of arts in regional Australia.
I rise to speak on the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Jobs for Families Child Care Package) Bill 2016. We all know that prior to the 2013 election the Liberals promised more affordable and accessible child care, but what has happened? They went the whole last term of parliament without doing anything at all about childcare costs for ordinary Australian families. A child born when the Liberals first promised more affordable child care will be in school by the time the government deliver. Early education and care are an investment in our future. The government need to listen to the experts, fix their package and just stop playing silly political games.
Labor still has some quite serious concerns about the childcare package. It is interesting that after two years the government are insisting that the only way we can pay for childcare changes is by cutting family payments. They will argue that they are freezing the family tax benefit. But, if freezing that is not cutting it, I am not quite sure what is, because, unfortunately, the cost of living will still keep going up every year, and the family tax benefit will not. It was quite encouraging yesterday to see them finally cave in after I do not know how long—months and months—and remove the link to the omnibus cuts. I still have not worked out what deal was done—I am sure eventually we will find out—but they at least separated them. Continue reading →
This Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Take-Home Pay) Bill 2017 before the Senate today is very important because it seeks to protect the take-home pay of some of this nation’s lowest paid workers. I am disappointed that the Senate did not support Labor’s motion to bring this bill on for debate yesterday when they had the opportunity, instead giving priority to the government’s Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill. This bill is very worthy of the support of this chamber. As the Leader of the Labor Party, Mr Bill Shorten, said in the House:
… some issues in this parliament … are complex and … some … are dead simple. This parliament has never had a more straightforward choice than it does today. This parliament can vote with Labor to protect … the take-home pay of … 700,000 of our working Australians … or it can vote to cut wages in retail, hospitality, pharmacy and fast food.
It is just that easy. Continue reading →
Giving our children a quality education is the best thing we can do to ensure a successful future. Labor understands this, and we believe that school funding should be based on need-as the Gonski Report outlined.
The I give a Gonski bus visited Parliament House in Canberra today as part of its national tour. I, and my Labor colleagues, were pleased to meet up with Australian Education Union members and assure them that Labor remains committed to needs-based funding for Australian schools.
We know that this government is utterly incapable of consulting before putting forward legislation, but what a sadly disappointing situation we find ourselves in today, and what an utter, utter farce it is. Labor does not oppose the orderly dispatch of government business, but this government is forcing Labor to debate a bill that we have only had for half an hour or so. I have only had it for half an hour or so. They are so badly disorganised on that side that, you will note, there are no government speakers. They are so disorganised that they do not know what they are doing. They have capitulated. They have done a deal somewhere with the Nick Xenophon Team, which I am very disappointed about, and One Nation, which does not actually surprise me, to debate a bill with half an hour’s notice. We have had this bill for half an hour. It is an utter disgrace. They want us to agree to the bill that they did not even have last night, when they were doing deals on it. I would love to know what the deals are; I am sure eventually we will find out.
What we were supposed to be debating this morning was the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Childcare Reform) Bill. The government has now finally, after being taken kicking and screaming, decided to split that bill. So now we are debating, as I said, an entirely new bill—a bill that has not faced the scrutiny of a Senate committee, that has not had public input and, as I said, that on this side we have only just seen. Continue reading →
The ABC is one of our most important public institutions. It tells the stories of our nation-whether you’re from the major cities, or from regional areas like Tasmania. The ABC needs to be supported to ensure that it can continue its valuable work. It does not need cuts; it does not need privatisation. Labor supports the continued work of the ABC.
Posted inIn The Community
Last week in Hobart I joined the shadow Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, on visits to community legal centres, where we heard first-hand about the devastating impact of the government’s cuts to their funding. Among our meetings we met with the Women’s Legal Service and the Hobart Community Legal Service, and Mr Dreyfus also met with the Environmental Defenders Office. The federal member for Franklin, Julie Collins, accompanied us to the Hobart CLS.
Community legal centres across Australia are facing a 30 per cent cut to their Commonwealth funding from 1 July this year. These are services which help some of the most vulnerable people in our community, people who are facing issues such as family violence, tenancy issues and termination of employment. People rely on these services for such things as fighting unfair dismissal, seeking family violence orders, gaining access to their children during a separation and having incorrect decisions reversed by Centrelink. Continue reading →
It was a pleasure to meet with Caterina Sullivan of Global Goals Australia to discuss the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals. We must act to end poverty. By meeting the 15 year global goals we will lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, drastically cut hunger, child mortality and improve education outcomes. It is the right thing to do.
The Tasmanian Theatre Company has an amazing 2017 Season of theatre planned. I was pleased to show my support for the Tasmanian Theatre Company by becoming a ‘Star’ Supporter today.
I am extremely excited about seeing the series of shows that Charles Parkinson and the wonderful team at the TTC are putting on, particularly ‘E-Baby’ which opens on the 20 March 2017 at the Patrick Street Theatre as part of Ten Days on the Island.
I encourage everyone with an interest in exciting, innovative Tasmanian theatre to head over to their website and become a TTC Champion.
I was pleased to be able to attend an International Women’s Day Public Forum at Parliament House, Hobart entitled “Men’s Violence Against Women: A Broader Conversation”. Amongst many presenters, Madeleine Ogilvy explained some of the issues women face regarding online abuse. As former Chair of the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety and the Senate Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, I have heard many harrowing stories of predatory online behaviour against women and girls.
Great to catch-up today with Ken Fleming to discuss the Senate Inquiry into Low Survival Rates Cancers.
Ken’s son Jack has been diagnosed with brain tumours, and he is passionate about improving outcomes for people with this terrible disease.
If you have a personal story to tell the committee about brain cancer, or other cancers with low survival rates, the details on how to make a submission to the inquiry can be found here:
This morning I met with Deborah Byrne from the Brain Injury Association of Tasmania to discuss the relationship between brain injury and family violence. Brain injury is both a contributing factor to, and consequence of, family violence and it is important for this to be recognised in the development of prevention and intervention strategies.
Tasmania produces wonderful, innovative theatre. It was a pleasure to attend the Tasmanian Theatre Company (@tastheatre) 2017 Season Launch last night. The Season is full of exciting new plays as well as Tasmanian and Australian premieres. Great to catch up with, amongst others, TTC Artistic Director Charles Parkinson, playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer, the multi-talented Jane Longhurst, TTC Chair Malcolm Waters and his partner Anna.
It was great to meet with Tasmanian’s Children’s Commissioner, Mark Morrissey, today to discuss the ‘Children and Young People in Out of Home Care’ report and ‘Children and the Young People’s Experience of Family Violence’ information booklet for kids, as well as other issues. The Commissioner for Children and Young People plays an important role in helping to improve the safety of children in our community. We must support and protect young people in our community as much as possible. Unfortunately too many children suffer from the issue of family violence. One child is too many.
Last week I attended the launch of the ‘Fair for Rare’ event to raise awareness for rare diseases. While individual diseases may have low incident rates, up to 2 million Australians have a rare disease.
More info on the ‘Rare for Fair Campaign can be found here: https://www.fairforrare.com.au/page/3/why-fair-for-rare
I was pleased to attend the launch of the National Meal on Wheels Nutritional Guidelines in Parliament House today. The Australian Meals on Wheels Association has provided a friendly face at the door and a regular chat with a welcome meal to millions of people in Australia for over 60 years, and I am always happy to support the organisation and its volunteers.
Good food is not just nutrition; it’s part of the joy of life. It helps keep families, communities and generations together. Foods both new and familiar can entice flagging appetites, excite the senses and rekindle decades old happy memories. By providing good nutritious food, as well as some vital social contact, Meals on Wheels helps people who are frail, recovering from an illness or have a disability, to remain in their own homes and communities and to enjoy their independence.
Quite apart from the social benefits, Meals on Wheels saves millions of dollars in health costs every year. We know that weight loss and malnourishment result in a range of health complications leading to more visits to doctors, hospitals, rehabilitation units and sometimes premature admission into residential care. It makes sense to invest in preventative health care, and these National Meal Guidelines are part of that investment.
Posted inIn The Community
Yesterday, this Senate condemned the Turnbull government for its failure to secure the future of Palliative Care Tasmania. I would like to thank my colleague Senator Polley for co-sponsoring the motion and the Senate for supporting it. I know I have raised this issue several times in this place, but I do so again, because the closure of Palliative Care Tasmania is now imminent. In fact, I understand that, without further funding, they could end up closing their doors as early as this week. As I pointed out in the motion, Palliative Care Tasmania were funded to deliver the Networking End of Life Care Across Tasmania Project. Over the past four years, through this project, they have delivered education and information about palliative care, end-of-life care, death, dying, grief and bereavement to over 15,000 Tasmanians. This is an amazing achievement. When Labor funded this project four years ago, Palliative Care Tasmania was given a target to deliver education to 1,000 people, yet they have reached over 15,000. Continue reading →
What do you do when you cannot keep your promise to tackle youth unemployment? Well, this government opens young people up to exploitation to their mates in big business instead. This government has comprehensively failed the youth of Australia. At the moment, there are almost 300,000 young Australians between the ages of 15 and 24 out of work. That is a shocking statistic. Youth unemployment has climbed to 13.3 per cent—well over double the general unemployment rate. Many of these young people have been unemployed for more than a year and are understandably disillusioned by the act of looking for jobs that simply are not there. On top of this, 20 per cent of young people are underemployed—they want to work more hours but there are simply no opportunities to obtain extra hours. Continue reading →
Rarely do I come into this chamber expecting to have a lecture from someone like Senator Reynolds. I am used to it from Senator Brandis—we can even have a bit of banter about it between us. But for Senator Reynolds to jump up and spend a good 10 minutes of her speech so sanctimoniously telling us what we do wrong on this side and how everyone should be more tolerant is just beyond belief. I would like to reiterate everything Senator Siewert said. I was going to mention some of that, but I will not go over that as well. Senator Reynolds obviously did not watch Insiders yesterday and did not see Senator Sinodinos talk about how sophisticated One Nation have become. I will leave that at that. Continue reading →
The bill before the Senate today—the Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Bill—amends the Privacy Act to introduce mandatory data breach notification provisions for agencies, organisations and certain other entities that are regulated by the act. The bill requires agencies and organisations regulated by the Privacy Act to provide notice to the Australian Information Commissioner and affected individuals of an ‘eligible data breach’. An eligible data breach is one where a reasonable person would conclude that there is a likely risk of serious harm to any of the affected individuals as a result of the unauthorised access or unauthorised disclosure. Failure to comply with an obligation included in the bill will be deemed to be an interference with the privacy of an individual for the purposes of the Privacy Act. This will engage the commissioner’s existing powers to investigate, make determinations and provide remedies in relation to non-compliance with the Privacy Act. Entities that are already exempt from the requirements of the Privacy Act, such as intelligence agencies and small businesses, will not be subject to the requirements of this bill, and law enforcement agencies will not be required to notify affected individuals if it is likely to prejudice law enforcement activities. Continue reading →
With Bill Shorten, Tasmanian Federal Labor colleagues, and Daniel Walton National Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, I met with Tasmanian salmon industry workers to talk about the sustainable Tassie Salmon Industry and defending their jobs and communities.
I rise today to speak on the matter of public importance titled, ‘The inability of the Turnbull Government to Provide stable united leadership for all Australians.’ But before I go into that, can I say that was 17 minutes of my life I am never going to get back—
Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting—
Senator BILYK: I know that Senator Macdonald keeps commenting that he has been here for 26 years, but sometimes it is quality not quantity that is important in life. As Senator Macdonald comes back to Canberra and steps into Parliament House, I have this feeling that he steps through the wardrobe, as though he has gone to Narnia or to another land because most of what he said to me was a fiction. Continue reading →
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Yesterday, 24 residents of Kingborough from 14 countries became Australian citizens. It was a wonderful event which reminds us how thankful we are to live in a peaceful and prosperous nation. One of the lovely things about the Kingborough Council’s Citizenship Ceremonies is the gift of an Australian native plant for new citizens. This plant is a reminder of their ceremony and grows along with their new life in Australia. Warmest congratulations and best wishes to all our new citizens.
Posted in In The Community