The forgotten women of the Australian public service

June 2 2016

Noel Towell

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Thousands of women doing much of the heavy lifting in the Australian public service are at risk of being left behind in the bureaucracy’s push for gender diversity, a leading workplace academic has warned.

The push for more women in the elite Senior Executive Service is great, but more needs to be done for the great bulk of ...
The push for more women in the elite Senior Executive Service is great, but more needs to be done for the great bulk of female public servants in middle management and rank-and-file jobs. Photo: Michelle Smith

Nearly 19,000 women work in the service at the middle management EL1 and 2 levels and are doing it as tough as anyone, toiling long hours under family-unfriendly conditions, says Sue Williamson of the University of NSW.

The push for more women in the elite Senior Executive Service is great, Dr Williamson says, but more needs to be done for the great bulk of female public servants in middle management and rank-and-file jobs.

The Canberra Times reported on Thursday on the success  of the Australian Bureau of Statistics in more than doubling its proportion of female executives through “blind” hiring drives simply talking to women in its workplaces around the country

Dr Williamson, who is leading research on public service departments tackling gender equality, says the work done by the  bureau  in getting more women into SES ranks, should be applauded and emulated across the service.

The workplace academic fears that women lower down the food chain might be forgotten if gender diversity efforts were too focused on top jobs.

Women make up just 42 per cent of senior executives despite being nearly 60  per cent of the service.

At the EL levels, men outnumber women by just a few hundred and it is within this cohort, Dr Williamson fears, that employees of both genders are toiling under some of the toughest conditions.

“Middle managers work such long hours, they have pressure from above, from their senior managers, pressure from below from the APS employees, so trying to get work-life balance for EL employees is a really difficult task,” she said.

“The focus on leadership is a way of selling gender equality and that’s the hook at the moment but I’d also like to see a focus on APS and EL employees.

“There’s a big push on to get women into the SES and achieve a 50-50 ration which I think is fabulous, leadership is the flavour of the month and getting women into those SES positions

“But that kind of ignores what is happening with APS employees and EL employees. Not everyone wants to become SES.

“So it’s all very fine to have lots of women in leadership, but how do you make workplaces flexible for EL men and women who are doing those really long hours.”

Dr Williamson acknowledges the argument that more women in leadership roles will lead to more female and family workplaces, but says things are not that simple.

“I’m not sure that argument holds,” she said.

“I think it could take quite a long time for that trickle-down effect to happen, so I think you’ve got to have an approach where, yes, you get women into management but you look after your APS and EL women at the same time.”

Dr Williamson said her research would seek to answer why gender equality has not been achieved already in the public service.

“Trying to get equality for women has been a goal in the public service for a really long time and it makes me wonder, why aren’t we there yet?” she said.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

‘Kept in the dark’: Public servants face long wait with hundreds of job tippe

June 3 2016

Henry Belot

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Rank-and-file public servants at Canberra-based Airservices Australia will have to wait until at least November to learn the full scale of job cuts.

Union officials fear the loss of up to 60 positions by June 30 could be followed by hundreds of job cuts with reports staff are being “kept in the dark”.

The scale of job losses at Airservices Australia is expected to be known by November.
The scale of job losses at Airservices Australia is expected to be known by November.  
Photo: Jamila Toderas

The government-owned corporation has not confirmed the scale of job losses but has warned there is “no magic number”. Close to half of the middle management cohort are expected to depart on June 30.

Chief executive Jason Harfield has written to staff insisting he would not know the full impact of job losses until a wholesale review of operations progressed.

“Be assured that we are working as quickly as possible to resolve uncertainty in a fair, responsible and considerate way,” he said.

The restructure has been prompted by a dramatic fall in revenue and increasing costs and hopes – with the assistance of PricewaterhouseCoopers – to slash $100 million from its cost base in coming years.

Profitability has plummeted by 90 per cent from $45.5 million in 2013 to $4.5 million in 2015. The group is expected to post its first financial loss of $13.6 million this year

Internal briefings, obtained by Fairfax Media, reveal the group’s corporate section is likely to be hardest hit with job losses to progress “as rapidly as possible”.

“Our corporate centre is now too large to be the efficient and agile business that we’ll need to be in the future,” the briefing said.

“As our corporate centre has grown, costs have increased and we’ve added layers of administration beyond what we need to support the frontlines that serve our customers.

The briefing sent to the agency’s 4400 staff said the scale of job losses would be determined by November at the latest.

“We need to make sure we are doing it right. It is important to note that there is no magic number,” the briefing said.

“This is not just a cost-cutting exercise as we can’t continue to operate this way and any inefficiencies need to be corrected.”

Management has promised to supply transparent updates during “a difficult time of uncertainty for many staff”. A spokesman said consultations with staff were ongoing and officials met unions as recently as Wednesday.

But Professional Australia campaign director Matt Harris, whose union represents public servants at Airservices Australia, said staff were being “kept in the dark” about the scale of cuts.

“Airservices is keeping the number of jobs in plans to cut a secret, we just don’t know the full extent of their plans,” he said.

“It’s putting a huge strain on employees. Without any clarity around the numbers, there is a real sense that no one is immune from these cuts.”

Some union officials have also raised concerns about the timing of the restructure in the midst of caretaker period and an election campaign.

“It would appear that Airservices has not briefed either the government or opposition on its proposed cuts,” Mr Harris said.

“This is worrying, especially when you consider Airservices is wholly owned by the government and the impact these cuts could have on service delivery.”

A new leadership team will be announced on July 1 and tasked with deciding how many staff are required for each section of the workforce.

The restructure comes before the implementation of the $1.5 billion OneSKY program, which will combine civilian and military navigation systems by 2021.

Airservices Australia employs more than 4400 staff and manages 11 per cent of the world’s airspace. It has 29 towers and 1000 air traffic controllers around the country. Last year it managed the movement of 4.5 million flights carrying 90 million passengers.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Bill clears up state borrowing issue

June 3, 2016 11:00am

Source : The Mercury

Going it alone on police bash claim

June 3, 2016

11:00am

The Mercury

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Adrian Lacroix outside the Supreme Court in Hobart. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

A TASMANIAN man who alleges he was assaulted by multiple officers in the Hobart police station last year has taken the unusual step of launching a private prosecution over the alleged attack.

Adrian Lacroix, of Howrah, yesterday fronted the Magistrates Court in Hobart to bring assault charges against four constables over his alleged physical mistreatment in October 2015.

Despite Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates, SC, appearing in court to take over the prosecution and then electing to discontinue it, Mr Lacroix remains undeterred and yesterday afternoon filed a motion to review the decision in the Supreme Court.

While acknowledging that a private prosecution was not the typical path to justice, Mr Lacroix said he was determined to take a stand.

“It’s unusual, but I think it’s a public interest situation where every Tasmanian citizen has the right to safety, and the right to be treated respectfully,” he said.

“The DPP told the magistrate that he didn’t see the case succeeding, but that should be for a court to determine.

Brazen Boronia robbery by man clad in Collingwood scarf and cap

June 4, 2016 – 9:41AM

Benjamin Millar

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A man who hid his face behind a Collingwood football club scarf has pulled off a brazen daylight robbery on a money lending store in Melbourne’s east.

Detectives are searching for the man, who was also wearing a Collingwood cap, after he demanded cash from the store in Boronia about 10.45am on Friday morning.

The thief masked by a Collingwood scarf.

The thief masked by a Collingwood scarf. Photo: Victoria Police

The bandit jumped the counter of the Boronia Road store and stole an amount of cash from the safe in a rear office.

He fled the scene on foot and was last seen heading west down Boronia Road.

Detectives have released CCTV footage and images of the man, who is described as Caucasian in appearance, with a solid build, about 180cm tall with an Australian accent.

He was wearing dark-coloured pants, a dark short-sleeved polo shirt and sandy coloured boots with black soles, a Collingwood cap and scarf  and dark glasses.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

Source : The Age

Malka Leifer: Former Australian principal accused of 74 child sex charges walks free in Israel

June 3, 2016 – 4:27PM

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Malka Leifer remains in Israel, where she will be assessed by psychiatrists.

Malka Leifer remains in Israel, where she will be assessed by psychiatrists.

The former principal fled to Israel with her family in the middle of the night, allegedly with the help of senior members of Melbourne’s secretive Adass community, after accusations of sexual abuse were first raised against her in 2008.

In 2014, she was arrested by Israeli police at the request of Australian authorities. Since then, she has been living under house arrest in the ultra-orthodox enclave of Bnei Brak in central Israel.

However, she has managed to evade 10 extradition proceedings, with her lawyers consistently arguing she is unwell and unfit to face court. Her lawyers have said she experiences panic attacks and bouts of depression as each court hearing approaches.

Adass Israel Girls School in Elsternwick, where Malka Leifer was principal from 2003 to 2008.

Adass Israel Girls School in Elsternwick, where Malka Leifer was principal from 2003 to 2008. Photo: Pat Scala PDS

Earlier this year, the Jerusalem court suspended all legal proceedings against the former principal until Ms Leifer received psychiatric treatment.

On Thursday, a long-awaited report from the district psychiatrist found Ms Leifer was mentally unwell.

Judge Cohen subsequently ruled Ms Leifer was mentally unfit to face extradition, lifted her home detention and ordered she receive outpatient treatment in a Jerusalem clinic.

The court heard Ms Leifer’s treatment was due to begin next week and was expected to last initially for six months.

She would receive up to five treatments during that time, the court heard, until a committee reassessed whether she was fit to stand trial.

The court ruled that process could go on for up to 10 years.

If the committee continually finds she is unfit to stand, she may evade her extradition trial indefinitely.

Since the request for extradition first reached court on August 2014, Ms Leifer has had five different psychiatric assessments.

Solicitor Nick Mazzeo, who has acted for abuse victims at the Adass Israel School, said they were “devastated” about the news.

“The decision has further exacerbated the trauma these victims have gone through and are still going through,” said Mr Mazzeo, of Lennon Mazzeo law firm.

“I’m hopeful that there will be an appeal of the decision, if the prosecutor believes that that is possible.”

Michelle Meyer, the chief executive of Jewish victims support group Tzedek, said Ms Leifer had “manipulated the system” and was doing everything to avoid extradition.

“She has been well enough all this time to continue living, raising her family and possibly working, that doesn’t suggest to me that she is unable to be extradited.”

She said the alleged victims were angry and despondent.

“They were pinning their hopes on getting some closures, but there is still no closure,” Ms Meyer said.

“For a lot of them, the healing process will be put on hold. They have been left in the lurch.”

A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General’s Department said Australian authorities were working with Israeli authorities regarding the next steps in the extradition process.

“Australia retains a strong extradition interest in Ms Leifer who is wanted to face prosecution in Victoria for serious criminal conduct relating to 74 sexual assault offences,” she said.

They said it would be inappropriate to comment further.

Manny Waks, who heads an organisation aiming to prevent sexual abuse in Jewish communities, said Ms Leifer’s alleged victims “feel outraged, devastated and completely let down by Israel’s legal system”.

Several of Ms Leifer’s victims are living in Israel.

“They are also fearful of bumping into her on the street,” Mr Waks said.

Another victim of abuse in the Jewish community, who did not want to be named, said the judge’s decision was “disgraceful”.

“That the judge gave more weight to the psychological status of the perpetrator than the turmoil and disruption to the lives of those affected only deepens sense of injustice.

“At the end of the Second World War, people like Eichmann were extradited to Israel to face trials for their crimes, yet Israel is standing in the way of the extradition of a person who is wanted under the most serious of charges. I find this hypocritical at the highest level.”

Jennifer Huppert, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, said the community was overwhelmingly disappointed by the decision.

“The victims themselves have said in court proceedings and at the royal commission that they feel they need to have had this matter heard in a court in Australia, and we are concerned about the victims and we sympathise with their point of view.

“We are extremely disappointed by the decision, we think it’s important for the victims that they feel they can have their day in court, and they have the right to have their day in court.”

Jewish Community Watch representative Shana Aaronson was shocked by the judge’s ruling.

“Disappointed isn’t really a strong enough word. For the [alleged] victims in Australia this has dragged on and on for them and it’s horrible,” she said.

The Israeli prosecutor’s office has been given 72 hours to appeal the lifting of the house arrest, which it is understood it will do.

AAP, with staff reporters

 Source : The Age

Pro-life supporter fined for breaching abortion clinic exclusion zone

June 3 2016 – 11:30PM

Alexandra Back

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Police have fined a pro-life supporter for the second time for breaching the protest-free zone around Canberra’s abortion clinic in Civic.

Kerry Mellor, 75, received his first fine in April for breaching the zone about a month after the laws banning protest were introduced.

The protest-free zone in front of the ACT health building on Moore Street, Civic.
The protest-free zone in front of the ACT health building on Moore Street, Civic. 

But police withdrew that fine last month.

A delegate of the chief police officer told Mr Mellor police had decided to withdraw the fine notice due to “ambiguity” around the “boundaries of what comprises a ‘protected area'”.

Days after the fine was withdrawn, the ACT government announced it had expanded the exclusion zone, to include Rudd Street, West Row, the alleyway of Odgers Lane, and surrounding roads, footpaths, gutters, outdoor areas, and underneath a “building’s facade”.

But last Friday Mr Mellor received a second fine.

He said that when he and other pro-life supporters went to the Moore Street clinic at 8am, there were already six police officers there.

The rest of his group dispersed, he said, but he remained in place outside PJ O’Reilly pub and was again fined $750.

“The moment that I produced my rosary and made a sign of the cross, they were on to me right away,” he said.

Mr Mellor argues that praying does not amount to either protest or prohibited behaviour under the exclusion zone laws.

He said he intended to challenge the fine in court.

 

Source : The Canberra Times

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