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Centre opens to handle Illawarra autism surge

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Jamberoo Centre head teacher Jo Opie with students Veronica Menzies, 16, James Rose, 13, and Chantelle Meneses. Jamberoo, the Wadi Wadi word for stars, was chosen for the name of the centre as it represents a guiding light. Picture: GREG TOTMANA sharp rise in the number of Illawarra students with autism and behavioural disorders has led to the creation of a dedicated education centre at Oak Flats High School.
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Opened yesterday, the Jamberoo Centre already houses three classes for students with autism and one for students with emotional disturbances.

According to head teacher Jo Opie, it will easily fill another autism class next year.

“The number of students with autism is still growing and we don’t know why, but there are more and more children with autism now in society, so this centre has been created in response to a growing need,” Ms Opie said.

Last year, Department of Education figures showed there were more than 8400 students with autism in NSW public schools, four times higher than in 2003.

In the same period the number of children with mental health disorders, including serious behavioural disorders, almost doubled to 8000 students.

Oak Flats High’s autism and emotional disturbance classes are funded according to need by the NSW Department of Education, but the decision to combine them to create a dedicated centre was made by students and teachers at the school.

The Wadi Wadi word for stars – jamberoo – was chosen for the name of the centre because it represents a guiding light and a sense of achievement.

“We wanted to celebrate these students and make them a major part of our school – almost like a faculty of their own – because students of all learning abilities are so important to our school culture,” principal Keiran Spillane said.

Ms Opie said combining the classes into one centre allowed specialist teachers to combine their resources and better cater to their students’ complex needs.

“Having these students and teachers together in the one centre means we can share the resources and have individual programs for each of the students at the same time,” she said.

“We also have access to a mainstream school and that’s really important for the kids in the Jamberoo Centre because it allows for integration.”

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Memory walk for dementia

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ANNE and Anthony vanNiekerk had planned a retirement of travelling, reading books and relaxing in each other’s company.
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But a dementia diagnosis 2 years ago changed everything.

Mrs vanNiekerk initially suspected her husband was going deaf.

But when he passed a hearing test, she realised comprehension was lacking.

Until then, Dr vanNiekerk was healthy and working a day a week as a radiologist.

The 76-year-old’s condition has since worsened and needs 24-hour care.

The New Lambton Heights couple said they could not have coped without support from the Alzheimer’s Australia NSW Dementia and Memory Resource Centre in Hamilton.

It offered friendship, social activities and advice.

The pair are joining an inaugural awareness and fund-raising Hunter Memory Walk and Jog tomorrow at Speers Point Park.

About 1000 people are expected at the Alzheimer’s Australia race, which includes a two kilometre walk, a 7.5kilometre walk and 7.5kilometre jog.

Late registrations for tomorrow’s race will be taken from 8.30am.

memorywalk南京夜网.au

CHANGES: Anne and Anthony vanNiekerk are dealing with the effects of dementia. Picture by PETER STOOP

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Asbestos register possible for Monash

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MONASH council could be saddled with the responsibility of maintaining an asbestos register for the city.
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Under changes recommended by the Australian Government’s Asbestos Management Review, councils such as Monash will be expected to maintain a database on the asbestos found in their municipalities.

From the Weekly, August 13.

They will also be responsible for a scheme that will see asbestos content reports be undertaken before homes are sold, leased or renovated.

The report found: “Local government (or the equivalent) should be resourced for and be responsible for implementing and administering the ACR scheme, including compliance and enforcement, as this level of government is closest to on-the-ground activities and it would align with many of their existing activities.”

But the state’s peak local governance body, the Municipal Association of Victoria, hit back at the recommendations.

President Bill McArthur said councils would be slugged with a responsibility they were ill-equipped to handle. “Victorian councils don’t have any interface at point-of-sale, leasing or for many internal building renovations that occur as-of-right.

“It not only misunderstands the role of councils but also creates onerous new obligations well outside of their current areas of responsibility.

“The recommendation also fails to consider cost impacts, capacity constraints already facing many councils and how the proposal would be funded.”

But Monash mayor Stefanie Perri would not take a stance on the issue. “The federal government’s comments on the asbestos review are recommendations at this stage and, until we have a better understanding of what they are proposing, it is difficult to comment,” she said.

“However, what is clear are the greater issues surrounding storage and maintenance of asbestos data as well as the enforcement of the regulations.

“Auditors are currently registered by the EPA and they carry ultimate responsibility when dealing with this issue but we do have a minor role to play under health and building legislation when it comes to the removal of asbestos.”

Employment Minister Bill Shorten announced the establishment of the Office for Asbestos Safety last week.

The office will oversee the management of asbestos in Australia and the reduction of exposure to the deadly fibre.

As exclusively revealed by the Weekly last month, lives are being put in danger because there are no laws making it mandatory for homeowners to conduct a hazardous materials report before renovation.

The gaping hole in the legislation has led to a third wave of asbestos victims being diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. Most renovated their homes in the 1980s.

A Safe Work Australia report found that in 2007 there were 660 new cases of the deadly respiratory disease mesothelioma in Australia and 551 deaths.

Breathing in asbestos fibres has since been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma with asbestos-affected individuals going decades without showing symptoms.

Night net

European shares extend rally

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European shares extended gains in early trade, continuing to draw support from the European Central Bank’s bond buying plan unveiled the previous session and with investors betting on an improvement in US jobs data due later.
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Sentiment also improved after German exports unexpectedly edged up in July, while China gave the green light for 60 infrastructure projects this week to give a boost to the economy.

The Euro Stoxx 50 was up 1.3 per cent, Germany’s Dax gained 0.7 per cent, Spain’s Ibex 35 added 1.3 per cent, but the UK’s  FTSE100 slipped 0.1 per cent.

“I am positive on the market in the near term. You have got the policy response coming through, valuations are still OK and the macroeconomic backdrop isn’t all that bad. These three things add to the momentum in the market,” Graham Bishop, equity strategist at Exane BNP Paribas, said.

Cyclical sectors such as banks, basic resources and construction, up 0.9 to 1.9 per cent, were the top gainers.

Reuters

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Carbon costing must branch out as figures slip and slide

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REMEMBER the Dr Evil character in Austin Powers who threatens to blow up the world in exchange for $1 million?
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Those whom he threatened were so unimpressed that they laughed. Loudly.

He later changes that price to $100 billion – a much more impressive figure.

On Thursday, Climate Change Minister Cassy O’Connor released a study that contained some very slippery dollar figures.

The ground-breaking Tasmanian forest carbon study calculated how much carbon was stored in Tasmania’s 1.3 million hectares of trees – and attached a price-tag to them under various scenarios.

The most commonly repeated dollar figure was the $280 million that could be made if all native forest harvesting ceased on public and private land.

Note the word: Could.

Among the many “ifs” and the “buts” are the following points:

$280 million is the maximum that could be made from the carbon stored under existing market conditions. It could be as little as $80 million.

That income would be spread out over the next 38 years – not per year.

The study doesn’t factor in the money that would be lost from harvesting, and the wood products sold as a result.

The cessation of all native forest harvesting is highly unlikely – so, therefore, is cashing in on that price.

The report did not compare the financial benefits of cutting down trees versus leaving them standing, but others were quick to do some calculations.

Ms O’Connor was at pains to point out that the “carbon cash” sitting in our trees could be almost tenfold of $280 million – up to $2.6 billion – if Australia signed up to article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol.

As Premier Lara Giddings put it, the Commonwealth “with the stroke of a pen” could create a ready-made cash cow for the state.

Big “if”, though.

CO2 Australia authored the Australian-first study and the company’s James Bulinski made it very clear that the dollar figures mentioned in the report would be very difficult to realise.

As he put it, “it’s one thing to count carbon in forests, but an entirely different thing to cash in on it”.

Even Ms O’Connor admitted that “carbon markets are highly dynamic and the rules for participation are complex and the extent to which we can profit from Tasmania’s forest carbon is not clear at this point”.

In short, there is no way state Treasury will be banking on a single dollar.

The Greens, meanwhile, must be disappointed with the price-tags that were arrived at after the Labor-Green government paid $250,000 to the consultants, who took nine months to put the study together.

The findings are interesting scientifically, could inform public policy into the future and can certainly be built on academically in this emerging field.

But it is not evidence supporting the argument that our trees are worth more standing (in a strictly financial sense) than they are cut down.

Naturally, Ms O’Connor argued that money made from carbon stored in trees wasn’t the only reason not to chop them down.

There was the advantage of fresh air, biodiversity and tourism – to list just a few.

The study certainly reinforces the value of the forestry industry to the state’s economy.

The opposition likes to the use the figure of $1.4 billion a year that forestry was previously worth.

Not any more, of course.

Forestry Tasmania used the figure of $585 million – the final value of products sourced from state forests last financial year.

No mention, though, that the state-owned company announced a $12 million operating loss in 2010-11, which was ever so slightly better than the previous year.

A consultant’s review into its operations predicted that FT would lose up to $30 million a year for the next five years.

And no matter what happens to the company, taxpayers can be assured that they will pay.

That same review also concluded that a realistic market prospect for carbon credits could not be identified for the short-term.

In short, money doesn’t grow on trees.

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Restricted operation for bar on agenda

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A RECOMMENDATION to allow The Shout to operate as licensed premises under strict conditions within the Launceston Indoor Sports Arena will go before the Launceston City Council on Monday.
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Aldermen will decide whether or not to approve a place of assembly for the Racecourse Crescent bar, which the council alleged was operating outside its “members lounge” permit as a public bar in July.

The council believes the bar, which is operating with a midnight licence, went beyond what was originally approved – resulting in antisocial behaviour and its upstairs deck receiving numerous complaints from the public.

If the recommendation is passed on Monday, The Shout will be for the “exclusive” use of LISA members, their family and friends, must not operate as a general public bar or advertise itself as such and will not be made available for public hire.

Owner Anthony Whitehead must keep a written record of the names and addresses of every LISA member and invited guest who enters the bar, operate between certain times, with the maximum opening hour being 11pm on Saturday nights.

The controversial first floor deck must not be used as a place of assembly, no alcohol is to be consumed on it and no live sports can be shown.

One security guard must be on site from 6pm on Saturdays until closure.

Several alterations to the footpath and parking must also be made with specified periods of time.

The council has received 25 objections to the application.

The Shout

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Brimbank ropes in Hobsons Bay CEO

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BRIMBANK Council will get a new chief executive, with Hobsons Bay CEO Bill Jaboor announcing he will leave his post next month to take the top job at Sunshine.
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Mr Jaboor, who said the time was right for new challenges, started working at Hobsons Bay in 2004 after spending 10 years as CEO of Greater Shepparton.

Late Friday Mr Jaboor said it was a difficult decision to move on after almost nine years in Hobsons Bay.

“I will leave Hobsons Bay with many fond memories, and immense personal and professional pride in the achievements of the council during my time here,’’ he said.

‘‘Brimbank is a large and diverse multicultural community. I welcome the opportunities that this position will present, including the rare chance to manage the transition back to elected councillors in 2015.’’

Brimbank Council was sacked in 2009 following a damning report by Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer.

Mr Jaboor will replace acting chief executive Kelly Grigsby.

Ms Grigsby replaced Nick Foa, who left Brimbank in May after leading the council for five years during a period of leadership turmoil.

Hobsons Bay mayor Tony Briffa said it had been a privilege to work with Mr Jaboor and the council was disappointed to lose him.

“Bill’s appointment will open new opportunities for us to work closer together at a strategic level with Brimbank and other western councils for the betterment of the region as a whole,” Cr Briffa said.

Brimbank Council could not be reached for comment.

– with Melissa Cunningham