Home // 2018 // October

Air safety public servants strap in for workplace turbulence

Hundreds more public servants have been told they must spend more days at their desks if they want a pay rise in 2015.

More than 800 officials at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) face the loss of three days off and another three days of personal leave entitlements in return for an unspecified pay rise.

But bosses at the air-safety agency admit that they still do not know if their package of cuts will be tough enough to satisfy the government’s stringent Australian Public Service “bargaining framework”.

CASA’s negotiators told unions in late December that the agency had space in its budget for a pay rise but warned it would come at a price, with workers expected to trade away days off on Easter Saturday, Labor Day and their Christmas shutdown day.

The days are not mandated as public holidays in the National Employment Standards but are designated holidays in the CASA enterprise bargaining agreement.

Personal leave entitlements will be cut from 18 days to 15 under the proposal.

The authority’s bosses also want to strip conditions and entitlements out of the enterprise agreement, which cannot be altered during the life of the deal, and move them to “policy”, which has no such legal protection.

The move is in line with the government’s instructions to strip down and simplify enterprise bargaining agreements across the service, with agency managers ordered to wage war on “duplication”.

CASA wants procedures for dealing with underperformers taken out of the enterprise bargaining agreement and moved to policy, as well a requirement to hold talks with an agency employee before moving them from full-time to part-time work.

The authority also wants to be free of the requirement to consult staff and unions before changing employment policies.

The authority is waiting for approval from the Public Service Commission before it reveals fully what is on offer and put its bargaining proposal to its workforce for a vote.

But across the service, negotiations are stalled as agencies and departments battle to get the commission to sign off on proposals.

Only two agencies, the Financial Services Authority and the Employment Department, have managed to progress their negotiations to the point of a ballot of their workforces, with staff overwhelmingly rejecting pay offers of 1.3 and 1.4 per cent respectively.

A spokesman for the authority said it would not talk publicly about the talks but assured workers public holidays mandated by the Commonwealth legislation were not under threat.

“It is not appropriate for CASA to comment in detail on the enterprise agreement negotiations at this time,” he said.

“Public holidays are mandated under the Fair Work Act and cannot be removed by an employer.”

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10 cleaning tips: what you’re doing wrong

Your house is dirtier than you think.

Sure, you’ve removed any obvious signs of dirt and grime and the remnants of last night’s dinner have been disposed of, but unfortunately, the saying “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t apply to germs and bacteria.

A 30-minute binge saves time, but the consequences could be bad for your health.

In fact, here are 10items you didn’t know you were cleaning wrong.

1. Toilet

The toilet seat isn’t the dirtiest item in the bathroom – behind it is.

Even though great care and attention is taken to keep the bowl and seat clean, neglecting the area behind it can result in a build-up of urine and feces. An easy way to clean this area is with rolled paper towel.

Huffington Post said, “Take two or three paper towels and roll them up tightly, as if you’re rolling a cigar, dip them in a bucket of cleaner (like Scrubbing Bubbles). Then, while facing the toilet, place the roll of towels behind it; take one end in either hand, and ‘floss’ the back base.”

Let the cleaner sit for five minutes, “floss” again and dry.

2. Garbage disposals

Anything associated with the word ‘garbage’ needs cleaning and the garbage disposal unit is no exception.

Before resorting to a store-bought sink cleaner, try using homemade vinegar cubes.

Simply freeze vinegar like you would water, throw them down the drain when needed and turn on the disposal. Alternatively, a few citrus rinds can remove bad odours.

3. Towels

Fabric softener is a conditioner used to, well, make fabric soft. But in some cases its name can be misleading.

Christina Peterson from Good Housekeeping said, “While everyone loves to dry off with a soft towel, liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets can reduce the absorption factor of terry cloth and other fluffy fabrics.”

Instead, Laundry expert Marlowe Leverette recommends washing bath towels every three to five uses and adding some vinegar to the load.

4. Humidifier

Humidifiers are great for increasing or removing excess moisture from the air but if left unclean a dirty humidifier breeds mould and bacteria.

The Mayo Clinic said, “Even in healthy people humidifiers have the potential to trigger flu-like symptoms or even lung infections when the contaminated mist or steam is released into the air.”

The Mayo Clinic recommends changing the water and filter regularly and cleaning every three days. “Remove any mineral deposits or film from the tank or other parts of the humidifier with a three per cent hydrogen peroxide solution, which is available at pharmacies.”

5. Pet hair

Cleaning pet hair often seems futile.

While you can’t prevent the hair from sticking to surfaces, you can minimise the amount. Give your pets a brush every few days with a good grooming tool and catch shedding hair before it hits the couch.

Alternatively, Bright Nest has another solution: rubber gloves. “Simply moisten your gloves with water and run your hand over the surface of your furniture.”

6. Gym clothes

Gym clothes can quickly become a smelly pile of bacteria.

As well as softening fabric and eliminating static, Reader’s Digest said vinegar also kills bacteria in your washing.

“A single cup of vinegar will kill off any bacteria that may be present in your wash load.”

7. Red wine stains

Somewhere along the way, it became popular belief that red wine stains can be cleaned with white wine.

But according to Professor and Assistant Chairperson of Textile Development and Marketing, Ingrid Johnson, salt is the best way to clean red wine out of the carpet.

“The first and easiest thing to do is ​to ​sprinkle with salt as this will absorb the wine,” Johnson told the Huffington Post.

8. Coffee maker

If you aren’t cleaning your coffee maker regularly, there’s a good chance it has mould in it according to a 2011 study.

Director of the Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping, Carolyn Forté, told the Huffington Post, “The carafe, lid and filter basket should be cleaned daily with warm, sudsy water.”

But she also recommends cleaning the machine with vinegar every few months.

9. Knives

It seems like a no-brainer to put everything in the dishwasher – that’s what it’s there for. But washing your knives in the dishwasher leaves them dull, blunt and susceptible to rust.

Simply handwash them with warm soapy water, it will only take a minute.

10. Sheets

Considering we spend one third of our lives asleep, for some, that means spending a considerable amount of time lying in dirty sheets.

Although Martha Stewart believes washing your sheets is a “personal preference”, she recommends doing it weekly.

But if you enjoy a snack or two while in bed, the Huffington Post said this isn’t enough.

“For those who constantly eat in bed, she says every three days would be ideal.”

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Retail market ‘patchy’ but Australians should stop panicking, says the PAS Group

Clothing retailer and wholesaler the PAS Group says the retail market is “patchy” and bogged down by higher costs than the rest of the world, but has warned against panicking.

“We are notorious in Australia for panicking about things,” CEO and managing director Eric Morris told Fairfax Media. “We moan like crazy in Australia that everything’s so bad, but when you look at some of other markets around the world we’ve actually got it relatively well.”

The PAS Group’s retail brands include the vintage-inspired Review, the one-size-fits-all Metalicus, and Black Pepper, for older women. It also designs and manufactures clothing for the likes of Toys’R’Us and holds licences for Slazenger, Everlast and Mooks.

As the key shopping period draws to a close, Mr Morris said the PAS Group and other retailers had experienced a slow lead-up to Christmas and a slightly disappointing Boxing Day period, but an improvement in the final few days of 2014.

“It’s very patchy. The first week of Jan was a bit soft, last week was much better. I had a team meeting and they said, ‘What do you think’s going to happen this week?’ I said, ‘Does anyone have a guess?’ “

On this week’s report by Deloitte tipping more international retailers would set up shop here, Mr Morris had mixed views on Australia’s attractiveness.

For international retailers, Australia offers a relatively stable economy and respite from limited growth at home, he said.

But he said some international retailers were “going to find it more difficult than they had anticipated. The cost of doing business in Australia is a lot higher than anywhere else. I think those that have come in have already found that to be a little bit of a shock.

“But the biggest challenge that people are facing are the logistic challenges, operating in reverse seasons. The likes of Zara have done it very well, H&M seem to be coping quite nicely with it, but the others, I think, have struggled a bit more.”

Mr Morris said while the price gap between Australian and international retailers had narrowed as local retailers lifted their game, local prices had to rise to compensate for the recent decline in the Australian dollar. “That is going to start pushing prices up again because that’s the only way it can go,” he said.

The PAS Group began life with Deutsche Bank buying the brand Yarra Trail about a decade ago. Mr Morris, a South African who came to Australia to work with Myer, joined shortly thereafter and the company now has 23 brands.

The PAS Group listed in June last year just as discretionary retailers were downgrading their forecasts, and has never traded above its $1.15 listing price, closing on Thursday at 70¢. Only one major analyst, John Stavliotis of Morgan Stanley, covers the $96 million company, with an ‘overweight’ rating. Morgan Stanley listed PAS Group.

Retailers of clothing, footwear, household furnishings and discretionary goods have margins of 4.8 per cent, according to a recent Productivity Commission report, and battle declining sales and margins when the economy contracts.

Mr Morris said despite the weak share price, the company’s shareholders were patient and the listing had left it with no debt, providing acquisition opportunities in a tough market.

“There’s constantly ones crossing our desk at the moment,” Mr Morris said. The potential buys were distressed companies and good businesses with owners looking to sell, he said.

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‘They saved my life’: Help for troubled youth

Beau was bullied at school and facing problems at home, but found a safe space at Headspace. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORDBEAU* was, and still is, a teenager others turned to when they were down and out.

Students at his Ballarat school had his mobile number and often called him late at night and on weekends, distressed and in need of someone to listen.

But none of these students realised Beau was struggling too.

The pain he was experiencing was twofold, with bullies at school and hostility at home.

Having only just turned 17, this inspirational young man has had a rough trot.

At home, his parents fight. They struggle with money and they break up regularly. It’s a less than desirable environment for a young teenager.

His father is an alcoholic and Beau said he “tiptoes” around the old man when he’s drunk, fearful of what could happen next.

Beau’s also the oldest sibling and has the added pressure of being the strong older brother his younger siblings rely on.

“Life can be pretty tough,” he said on Tuesday when The Courier visited Headspace – a youth mental health centre doing amazing things to help young people in the region.

“But Headspace saved me. It has given me back that spark that everyone needs. I love this place,” he said.

Beau said while it had always been difficult at home, it was the bullies at school that made him turn to Headspace.

Jesse Park and Kate Dharumasena of Headspace. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD

“I was pretty desperate,” he said.

“I knew something needed to be done and my school counsellor suggested Headspace.”

Beau finds it hard to admit there were moments he tried to take his life. He says the hardest part of remembering those times is because he now has a zest for life. He wants to be alive.

At 14, Beau was taken from his private school and put into the public education system.

His family had always struggled for money and could no longer afford his tuition.

However, it wasn’t this move that saw his mood and passion for life disintegrate.

“I didn’t have any friends when I got there so I decided to try and become friends with a group … a bad group,” he said. “I eventually saw them for what they were, bullies.

“They would shove other kids up against lockers, abuse other kids and generally do anything they could to make a pain of themselves.”

So one day Beau decided to stand up for the students his “mates” were bullying.

“I basically approached the ringleader and told him why he was wrong in doing it,” he said.

“And he didn’t like it. So his group sort of turned on me and tried making my life hell, like they were doing to many others.”

Beau said the group took his move as “betrayal” and soon started assaulting him on a regular basis.

It was around this time, alongside things at home, Beau became anxious and some days feared leaving his bedroom.

And the bullying wasn’t only taking a mental toll, with the physical damage plain to see.

“I was concussed a few times from them. There’d normally be one or two holding you down while the others were just laying into you,” he said. “I was always covered in bruises and had little niggles all over my body. And I was on my own.”

Beau said if not for the team at Headspace he wouldn’t have made it through the tough times.

“After a few sessions, I was feeling worthy. The welcome party I get every time I walk in is absolutely amazing,” he said.

William*, 23, heard of Headspace from a Centrelink employee when he was in the depths of a work for the dole program, which drove him to despair.

Just like the others, he admits Headspace transformed his life.

“My problems started when I finished school and I just had no idea what to do. I was completely directionless,” William said.

He said the combination of a work for the dole program and regular trips to Centrelink left him stuck in bed without motive to get out.

“You just feel horrible,” he said. “But yeah, this woman at Centrelink told me to go to Headspace.”

William said simple advice from his case worker had put his life back on track.

“I told him I wanted to go to uni and study professional writing and editing and he said, ‘well, why don’t you?’,” William said.

“I had no answer. So, basically a week later I was officially enrolled and everything has been great since. No more work for the dole, no more Centrelink, no more feeling like crap basically.”

William has almost finished a certificate four in professional writing and editing and will this year begin his diploma.

Headspace, meanwhile, continues to save the lives of Ballarat’s youth on a daily basis while working to expand its services in general health.

Opened in July, 2013, Headspace welcomes anyone aged 12 to 25, with its services including general health, mental health, education and employment, drug and alcohol treatment and sexual health.

The Ballarat Headspace was a long-awaited project for the region and centre manager Ben Gillett said his team provided a crucial outlet for anyone who might be struggling through an array of issues.

He said the biggest problem among Ballarat’s youth, or Headspace’s clientele, was complex family issues and domestic violence, while alcohol and cannabis were still the main drug issues crippling the region.

“The best part of Headspace is that we are known as being such a welcoming place. You can literally walk straight through the doors and someone will be here to help you,” Mr Gillett said. “You don’t even need a referral. You just walk in.”

One woman who decided to walk in following a marriage breakdown early last year, was Kate*.

At 25, Kate is one of Headspace’s oldest clients and sought its help after noticing signs of depression following a break-up.

“We were together for seven years and I moved here (Ballarat) for him,” Kate said. “But, in the end, I just knew it wasn’t right.”

Kate said she believed her mental health was already suffering well before she and her partner spilt.

But the end saw it spiral out of control.

“I noticed that I just had all these doubts coming in and just all these bad thoughts,” she said. “Just like really negative thoughts started to just really sort of take grip in my brain and I just wasn’t able to shake them like I normally would be able to.”

“That’s when my depression got a really good grip.”

Like Beau, Kate said it was hard to imagine where she would be without the team at Headspace.

“Headspace is like a godsend. It sounds kind of cheesy, but I really feel like they saved my life last year,” she said. “Like, I don’t know what I would have done if they weren’t here.”

Headspace staff said it was stories like this which made the centre such a special place.

“At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about,” Mr Gillett said.

“We pride ourselves on being a really welcoming place that can help anyone in the age bracket. We make sure its simple for anyone to walk through that door. So if someone tells you about us, you can just walk in and get started.”

Headspace is located at 28 Camp Street, Ballarat, and is open from 9am to 5pm on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. It is open from 9am to 7pm on Wednesday and Thursday.

* Not their real names

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Ready, set, go for play space

PLANNING for Ballarat’s inclusive play space set to be constructed at Victoria Park is entering its final stages, with the design process expected to be completed within months.

According to City of Ballarat general manager people and communities, Neville Ivey, the council is hopeful the entire project will be completed before the end of the year.

Philanthropic group Touched by Olivia Foundation has been a champion for the project, looking to source a variety of donations to bring the play space to fruition.

Mr Ivey said there had been some changes made from the original plan for the project.

“Based on further consultation and feedback with community members, groups and stakeholders on the concept plan, there have been some changes incorporated into the plan,” he said.

“Essentially, the equipment types remain the same or similar, with an adjustment made to the layout to maximise some grassed open space within the middle of the play environments.

“There has also been an all-year-round passive and imaginative water play precinct incorporated into the design, with Central Highlands Water (CHW) becoming a project partner.”

CHW is one of many local groups that have also thrown their support behind the project, with Mr Ivey describing the community support as fantastic.

“The project has been ableto attract nearly $1.3 million from a range of sources, including major contributions from council, state government, Central Highlands Water, and generous contributions from local community groups,” he said.

“Their (the Touched by Olivia Foundation) tireless efforts are now being rewarded with generous donations now exceeding $50,000 from the support of Rotary clubs, TGM, schools, Bank of Melbourne and V/Line.”

Mr Ivey said there was a possibility of even more sponsorship opportunities as the project continued, with the potential for the play space to be one of the best of its kind in Victoria.

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Search on for descendants of mystery war medals

Medal mystery: Creswick residentNeville Holmes dug up two World War I medals while gardening at his Napier Street property. Now, the search is on for descendants of the medals’ owner, Private George Bailey.PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCKA SEARCH is under way to find the descendants of a fallen World War I solider.

Almost 100 years after his death, Ballarat solider Private George Bailey’s precious war medals were found buried in the backyard of a Creswick house.

Napier Street resident Neville Holmes was tending to his wife’s irises late last yearwhen he dug into a secret trench.

“I could see bits of bottles and broken glass, so I kept digging deeper and deeper to see what was under there,” Mr Holmes said.

Underneath the layers of dirt he discovered the contents of an old medicine cabinet.

“There were tubes and tubes of toothpaste, combs, tooth-

brushes, a pair of dentures and medicine bottles,” Mr Holmes said.

“But something caught my eye.”

Hidden among the shards of broken glass, Mr Holmes caught a glimpse of what he believed was a pair of rusty coins.

“I looked at them and thought to myself, ‘These are worth holding onto’,” hesaid.

“I pulled them out and realised what they were. I was astonished.

“The medals were such a contrast to the rest of it.”

For a few weeks, the medals sat on a shelf in Mr Holmes’s house before he wrapped them and took them to Creswick RSL secretary Phil Carter.

Mr Carter said he was floored by the discovery.

“The hairs on the back of my head stood up,” he said.

“I get shivers talking about. “It was very emotional because once I looked on the side of the medals and saw a name engraved, I knew what he’d found.

“To find something like this is unheard of, it is just so special.”

Private Bailey was part of the 39th Battalion and enlisted in the war in Ballarat on April 12, 1916.

He was killed in a gas attack in a field in Messines, Belgium, on June 18, 1917.

He was 36 years old and had never married.

Following his death, his medals were presented to his bother Frederick, who lived at the Napier Street home with his wife Mary-Ann for most of his life.

Another of Private Bailey’s brothers, Charles, also served in the war.

There were another threebrothers, James,Thomas and Joseph.

Mystery surrounds why the medals were buried in the backyard, andMr Carter said it was likely the reason would never be known.

Members of the Creswick RSL have made it their mission to find members of George’s family and present the medals to them at the centenary Anzac Day service in Creswick on April 25.

It is hoped members of the family can wear the medals and march in Private Bailey’s honour.

Mr Carter said the discovery had stirred something inside all of the RSL members. The medals are in the process of being restored to their former glory in Ballarat.

He is appealing for anybody with information or links to the Bailey family to contact him on 0458 533 230.

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