27 September 2023

PS from the PaSt: 10–16 April 2013

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1. This week 10 years ago, New South Wales released a new Asbestos Plan to reduce the incidence of asbestos-related diseases across the State.

Minister for Finance and Services, Greg Pearce said the plan would increase awareness of the dangers associated with asbestos and ensure its safe management to improve long-term health and safety outcomes.

Mr Pearce said Australia had one of the highest mesothelioma rates in the world and the level of asbestos-related illness in NSW was unacceptably high.

“The NSW Dust Diseases Board reporting 201 asbestos-related deaths across the State in 2011,” Mr Pearce said.

“Tragically, the number of people with asbestos-related diseases may increase in the next few years, as there is often a delay of up to 40 years between exposure and the onset of disease.”

2. Also in New South Wales, a fire safety survey revealed that 87 per cent of the State’s households were ignoring the safety recommendations of fire services.

Superintendent with Fire & Rescue NSW, Tom Cooper urged people to have a working smoke alarm and a well-practised home escape plan.

The 2013 Duracell Fire Safety Survey revealed only 34 per cent of households changed their smoke alarm batteries annually and one in three had disconnected their alarm to stop a “false” alarm, rendering the unit useless and putting families at risk.

Superintendent Cooper said most house fires were caused by faulty electrical equipment or cooking left unattended.

“Australians are placing themselves in danger by failing to test and check their smoke alarms,” Superintendent Cooper said.

3. A new medical research partnership between some of Victoria’s leading research institutions and the Singapore Government was announced to help fight three of the most infectious diseases in the Asia-Pacific.

Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek said the funding would support five research teams in Australia and Singapore on projects that would address diseases including tuberculosis, dengue fever and influenza.

“Infectious diseases such as SARS, avian and swine flu are significant threats to public health in the Asia-Pacific,” Ms Plibersek said.

“It is vital that we work with regional partners to prepare for potential outbreaks and successfully treat the cases that are currently emerging in our region.”

4. Victorian Minister for Mental Health, Mary Wooldridge announced a unique psychiatric facility for the new Bendigo Hospital to provide people with mental illness access to the best possible care.

Ms Wooldridge said the hospital would provide 80 mental health beds for Bendigo and surrounding regions and include a 35-bed adult psychiatric unit, a 20-bed aged psychiatric unit, a 20-bed secure extended care unit and a five-bed mother and baby unit.

She said the new hospital would incorporate a range of environments that would enhance the specialist care provided in the new psychiatric units and significantly increase the capacity of the hospital to treat patients.

“The design will focus on creating a therapeutic environment, rather than an institutional-type setting,” Ms Wooldridge said.

5. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) launched the free FishMap tool created by the CSIRO, allowing users to discover which fish live in any location at any depth along Australia’s continental shelf and slope and create regional illustrated species lists for almost all of Australia’s marine fish.

Ichthyologist at the CSIRO, Daniel Gledhill said Australia’s marine biodiversity was among the richest in world, but previously there was no Australia-wide capability to rapidly produce regional, illustrated species lists.

“FishMap is the only resource of its kind in the world that covers virtually all species of marine fish found in the marine waters of an entire continent,” Mr Gledhill said.

6. And a decade ago Prime Minister, Julia Gillard announced a $40 million National Crime Prevention Fund that would used confiscated proceeds of crime to target crime hotspots by contributing to infrastructure like closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems and lighting as well as youth mentoring and outreach programs targeting people at risk of becoming involved in crime.

Ms Gillard said the Fund was the third component of a package of measures to target street crime and gang violence across Australia.

She said the recently announced National Anti-Gang Taskforce would use the new Australian Gang Intelligence Centre to interpret criminal intelligence on gang activity across Australia and their links overseas and directly target, investigate and arrest gang members in Australia.

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