Australia news live: selling Covid antivirals over-the-counter a ‘recipe for disaster’, leading doctors’ body says

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Clare: Teacher education ‘screaming out for reform’

A question now about the cost of degrees.

Clare:

What came out really clearly out of the conversation today and I got a better insight into it than I had before I went into the room, the initial teaching education is screaming out for reform. We need some reform here.

Clare said he would like Mark Scott, Sydney University vice-chancellor to head an expert panel that will look at what reforms are needed. However Clare says the terms of reference were not completed today and will be discussed collaboratively.

One of the things that Mark said to us, the way that unis work with hospitals for medical students is very different to the way that unis work with schools and education departments for teachers. And there may be some lessons for us there, where we can get better practical outcomes.

Clare also said he wanted to see government funding for universities prioritised for institutions that ensure student completion.

What I said on [Patricia Karvelas’ morning show on Radio National] this morning is 50% of young people who go into a teaching degree finish it. On average it’s about 70% of people who go into any other degree finish it. What is going wrong there? If there’s things that we do, whether it’s prac early on, so we get a real sense of what being a teacher is, if there’s other changes that we can make so, let’s say, 60% of people finish a teaching degree, we’ll go a long way to improving the situation.

Key events

NRL club Manly will continue to offer support to hooker Manase Fainu, who was found guilty of stabbing a youth leader at a church dance in Sydney’s west almost three years ago, AAP reports.

Fainu, now 24, has been subject to the NRL’s No Fault Stand Down policy since October 2019, when he was charged with wounding Faamanu Levi with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Jurors at the District Court took just over two hours to find Fainu guilty on Thursday, but his barrister Margaret Cunneen SC has indicated the verdict will be appealed.

Fainu has not played for the Sea Eagles since the 2019 finals series, but coach Des Hasler and CEO Tony Mestrov reiterated their support for the hooker on Friday.

Hasler said the judicial process had been “tough” on Fainu and his family.

It’s been a three-year process and in that time all the support we’ve been able to give has been much needed. It’s just a shock. It’s three years this has been going on for. It hasn’t been easy on him.

After Fainu’s breakout 2019 season, the Sea Eagles opted not to renew the contract of premiership-winning hooker Apisai Koroisau and instead identified Fainu as their long-term No.9.

Fainu’s inability to play ruined those plans with the Sea Eagles forced to sign Danny Levi to cover the position, before turning to current hooker Lachlan Croker. Hasler said he could not comment on whether Fainu would play professional rugby league again but said the Fainu name would still have a “very heavy involvement” at the club.

Greens senator Penny Allman-Payne has also weighed in following the education roundtable. Despite welcoming the format, she said there was “virtually nothing” in the press conference about tackling teacher workloads.

It’s great that teachers had a seat at the table today at the national meeting of education ministers. But I’m not sure the ministers were really listening. @JasonClareMP said they heard stories from teachers like Angela who work 65 hour weeks, on holidays and at weekends.

— Penny Allman-Payne (@senatorpennyqld) August 12, 2022

If you want to stop the exodus of teachers from the profession and attract more people into it, governments have to address pay and conditions.

To tackle teacher workloads, the system needs to be resourced properly. Right now, nearly every public school in the country is receiving less than 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard. … meanwhile, funding to private schools has increased at 5x the rate of funding to public schools and Australia has one of the greatest education funding inequality gaps in the OECD. This needs to be reversed.

Similarly, over the past 30 years, teacher salaries have gone backwards when compared to other professions. Creating higher pay points for a select few won’t address this problem. We need a competitive pay structure for the profession as a whole.

Former education minister Alan Tudge has called on the federal government to implement the recommendations of the Initial Teacher Education review following the education roundtable today.

The review was launched by the Coalition in April 2021, with a final report released on 24 February this year.

It made 17 recommendations, including reducing teachers workloads and reducing to one year the time taken to complete a secondary teaching qualification.

The challenge for Jason Clare after today’s roundtable is to deliver real action to improve the education of students & reward teacher excellence.

The ITE Review that I initiated last year is a blueprint for success & I call on the govt to deliver on its recommendations ASAP.

— Alan Tudge (@AlanTudgeMP) August 12, 2022

Victoria’s minister for housing Danny Pearson has issued a brief, and pointed, statement in reference to the state’s opposition leader.

Matthew Guy needs to answer this simple question.

Since the new electoral laws came into force on 25 November 2018, has anyone employed by the opposition been paid by an undeclared source?

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has strengthened its opposition to making Covid antiviral treatments available over the counter at pharmacies, suggesting it would be a “recipe for disaster”.

It comes after the Pharmacy Guild pushed for the drugs to be made available without a prescription at community pharmacies due to national GP shortages.

RACGP president Dr Karen Price said the guild’s claims were “unfounded and misleading”.

Clear messaging is needed for patients. The Pharmacy Guild … needs to stop muddying the message on access for patients. Patients need to understand the urgency of contacting their GP when they test positive for Covid-19 and not be distracted by the Pharmacy Guild’s efforts to push their own agenda. We are in the midst of a pandemic and timely access requires people to be well informed and clear on what they need to do.

Over-the-counter pharmacy consultations and prescribing by pharmacists is not the answer to getting these treatments in the hands of those who need them. We need pharmacists to concentrate on their own job of stocking and dispensing safely and let the GPs get on with doctoring, because lives can be saved.

At the end of the day, pharmacists do not have the appropriate skill-set to interpret a life history, including a sexual history, or the diagnostics of liver and kidney function. Nor can they order urgent tests if needed. Prescribing these medications is not simply taking them from a box on a shelf and handing them to a patient.

Christopher Knaus

Case against whistleblower Richard Boyle does not warrant intervention: Dreyfus

This morning, the attorney-general Mark Dreyfus was asked whether he would intervene in the case of Richard Boyle, the Australian Taxation Office whistleblower who helped expose aggressive and unethical conduct in his agency’s pursuit of debts from small businesses and families.

Earlier this year Dreyfus put an end to the prosecution of lawyer Bernard Collaery, who had been charged for his disclosures of a bugging operation against Timor-Leste.

But Dreyfus said there would be no such intervention in the Boyle case.

He told ABC Melbourne:

The one very material difference is that the consent of the Commonwealth Attorney-General was needed to bring the charges in the first place against Bernard Collaery.

It’s a very, very important difference. Bernard Collaery’s case was an exceptional case. There’s very few criminal prosecutions in Australia that have implications for our international relations, and undoubtedly – and this was one of the major reasons why I intervened in the prosecution of Bernard Collaery to bring it to an end – it did have major implications for our international relations and I’m pleased to have taken that decision. The case of Richard Boyle is one that has been brought by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions on information provided by the Australian Taxation Office.

He has a defence, he has relied on a defence under the Public Interest Disclosure Act, that’s the existing whistleblower protection regime and it doesn’t raise the exceptional circumstances that were raised in Bernard Collaery’s case. So that’s my explanation … for why I am not intervening. Ever since I intervened in Mr Collaery’s case I’ve had – you might not be surprised to hear – many, many requests for me to intervene.

Meanwhile, agriculture minister Murray Watt has been in the Lockyer valley today, foreshadowing a possible speeding up of relief payments.

A Deloitte report into this year’s south-east Queensland floods estimated a total cost of $7.7 billion to the state.

In today’s edition of bizarre international news, a “disoriented” bear cub has been rescued in Turkey’s north-west after supposedly eating too much of a “mad honey” that has natural hallucinogenic effects.

A video posted online showed the poor old mate wobbling and whining in the back of a ute after being found in a forest.

The psychedelic honey is produced by bees from a type of rhododendron, with potentially wild results including hallucinations and euphoria. The bear is expected to make a full recovery and will be released into the wild in coming days.

Turkey’s agriculture ministry called on people on Twitter to come up with a name for the bear. My vote is “Fuzzy Wuzzy”.

National Covid summary

Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from around Australia today, as the country records at least 86 deaths from Covid-19:

ACT

NSW

Northern Territory

Queensland

South Australia

Tasmania

Victoria

Western Australia

‘Toxic boys’ club’ extends beyond Canberra: Greens

The Greens have responded to the Broderick report released today, arguing it shows a “toxic boys’ club” extends beyond Canberra’s politics.

The review of New South Wales parliament found systemic bullying and widespread sexual harassment, with around half of incidents perpetrated by MPs.

NSW senator Mehreen Faruqi, member of the joint select committee on parliamentary standards said the report was “traumatic and devastating” – but not surprising.

The sexist and racist underbelly of parliamentary work has been exposed again and again, and needs to end. Bullying and harassment cannot just be accepted as part of our political culture. It has to be eradicated at all levels.

As a member of the joint select committee on parliamentary standards, which is looking at enforceable codes of conduct for parliamentary workplaces, I’m committed to making sure that the highest standards are set and followed. It’s beyond time to get this done, and to implement all the recommendations of the [2021] Jenkins report.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to set the best example for others to follow. That means a safe and respectful workplace free from bullying, harassment, sexual assault, sexism and racism.

A wayward kangaroo has attempted to break into the Russian embassy in Canberra, which some social media users have read as a barometer of sentiment among the local marsupial population over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Apparently a kangaroo attacked the gates of the Russian embassy in Australia. I guess now we know where kangaroos stand on the war. pic.twitter.com/f6b0s03itf

— Bakhti Nishanov (@b_nishanov) August 11, 2022

The Russian embassy confirmed the break in attempt in a post to its social media account which described it as an “unauthorised access attempt.”

Today, the video surveillance system of the Russian Embassy in Australia detected an unauthorised access attempt. No harm done.

🦘🇷🇺Сегодня система видеонаблюдения Посольства России в Австралии зафиксировала попытку несанкционированного доступа. Никто не пострадал.

Случилась #Австралия🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/WBLkDUc9ro

— Russia in Australia (@RusEmbAU) August 11, 2022

It’s not the first time the social media presence of Russian embassy’s have often attracted attention for a “troll diplomacy” that needles local authorities on social media with a dry humour and political sarcasm.

In one example, the Russian embassy in the UK attempted to defend against allegations over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal using James Bond jokes about Russian spies and gags about cold weather and frosty diplomatic relations.

In another example, UK Russian embassy social media bragged that at least 99.8% of its followers were genuine after a Twitter purge of fake and “bot” accounts.

For more examples of the Russian diplomatic corps’ use of social media and its “troll diplomacy”, read this story by Guardian senior social reporter in London Martin Belam.

Western Australia records five new Covid deaths

Five people with Covid-19 have died in Western Australia overnight, with the state recording 2,327 new cases on Friday morning, 308 people in hospital, and 11 in ICU.

To deal with the crisis Gavrielatos says any national plan will have to “address the foundations” – ensuring a competitive salary for the teaching profession as a whole and dealing with the “crippling workloads that are accelerating the exodus of teachers”.

Gavrielatos said “we’re heading into a perfect storm” as completion rates in university programs have fallen and there has been a “dramatic” exodus of teachers.

This requires a reset. A reset to make the profession more attractive
quickly. Labour-market economics dictates – this can’t be avoided by ministers – labour-market economics dictates one of the key indicators of success in retaining and attracting people is pay and conditions and both of those are totally inadequate at the moment.

He also said one solution would be to resurrect a program from the 1970s when scholarships were offered to prospective teaching students, university fees were waived and stipends paid to attract people to the profession.

Angelo Gavrielatos president of the New South Wales Teachers Federation is now speaking to the ABC giving his reaction to the ministers’ press conference. He is saying Jason Clare gets “full marks” for calling the meeting, “remembering he has inherited 10 years of neglect and policies that have contributed to this crisis in which we find ourselves.”

He’s got the responsibility of trying to coordinate a national response to deal with it. We can’t let them off the hook – or those who have similarly presided over the crisis.

I certainly support the suggestion and the notion of the development of a national plan, a national plan to identify what those particular policy areas are that could contribute to addressing this matter in the medium term and longer term.

However, we’ve got a crisis today. We’ve got a crisis today which sees thousands and thousands of kids missing out on their learning because of the teacher shortage. And that teacher shortage will continue to grow into the future, certainly over the next number of years.

Clare: Teacher education ‘screaming out for reform’

A question now about the cost of degrees.

Clare:

What came out really clearly out of the conversation today and I got a better insight into it than I had before I went into the room, the initial teaching education is screaming out for reform. We need some reform here.

Clare said he would like Mark Scott, Sydney University vice-chancellor to head an expert panel that will look at what reforms are needed. However Clare says the terms of reference were not completed today and will be discussed collaboratively.

One of the things that Mark said to us, the way that unis work with hospitals for medical students is very different to the way that unis work with schools and education departments for teachers. And there may be some lessons for us there, where we can get better practical outcomes.

Clare also said he wanted to see government funding for universities prioritised for institutions that ensure student completion.

What I said on [Patricia Karvelas’ morning show on Radio National] this morning is 50% of young people who go into a teaching degree finish it. On average it’s about 70% of people who go into any other degree finish it. What is going wrong there? If there’s things that we do, whether it’s prac early on, so we get a real sense of what being a teacher is, if there’s other changes that we can make so, let’s say, 60% of people finish a teaching degree, we’ll go a long way to improving the situation.

On skilled-work visas, Clare says visas for teachers from overseas should be prioritised.

One of the things we’ve got to do is prioritise visas for teachers from overseas who want to come and work here. States independently of the commonwealth work with teachers who are keen to work here. Make sure they meet the standards that individual states have, to be accredited and registered to teach here, and then when they want to come here, make sure they get the visa as quickly as possible.

NSW education minister Sarah Mitchell says that she would like to see this scheme go further and include a fast-track program for citizenship for teachers that would like to move to Australia.

Questions beginning now, with federal education minister Jason Clare saying that a proposition he favours is one involving a paid internship model that “will be part of the action-plan we’ll ask secretaries to work up for us”.

When I talk about mentoring, I am talking about something slightly different to a master-teacher model. When a teacher first arrives at school, fresh off university, they need a mentor. They need a proper induction process. They need some hands-on experience about behaviour management. In different jurisdictions and states it’s done differently. The review said let’s have some national guidelines for that.

South Australia records 12 new Covid deaths

Twelve people with Covid-19 have died in South Australia overnight, with the state recording 1,482 new cases on Friday morning, 256 people in hospital, and 10 in ICU.

State education ministers are now taking turns to speak.

Sarah Mitchell from New South Wales, who says she’s looking forward to working on a national plan.

Ignazia Grace from Queensland says that she is looking forward to “working collaboratively and cooperatively” across jurisdictions and says the meeting “is a breath of fresh air”.

Natalie Hutchins from Victoria says she wants the country’s teachers to know “we’ve heard you and we see you and we thank you for all you’ve done”. She says Covid has been hard on teachers, particularly as they grapple with medical and health concerns.

Sue Ellery from Western Australia wishes to “echo” the comments of her counterpart Ignazia Grace that “today was a breath of fresh air” and says today’s meeting was dominated by two messages: that 2022 has been hard and that educators are under pressure.

Blair Boyer from South Australia says it is important to hear directly from those whose profession they represent.

Roger Jaensch from Tasmania says the problems identified are the same in “every jurisdiction” and that they are “national challenges that need a national solution”. He says that “we can do better than stealing each other’s teachers. We can steal each other’s ideas, share each other’s information and come out with real solutions”.

Yvette Berry from ACT says she wants to thank federal minister Clare for the comments today “reassuring teachers that he has their backs because that’s something that they haven’t heard for a number of years.” She adds that teachers “have felt undermined and undervalued for some time now”.

Eva Lawler from the Northern Territory says the workload of teachers has been increasing “whether it’s dragging a kangaroo off an oval in the Northern Territory or dealing with the complexities of teachers facing mental health issues”.

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