Profiles of Disability
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Profiles of Disability provides an overview of the characteristics and activities of people with disabilities in Australia. It is designed to provide a comprehensive analysis of different aspects of living with disability in Australia that are addressed in the 2009 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) – the main source of data for this publication.
When complete, the publication will examine a variety of areas including:
- the characteristics of people with disabilities that belong to particular interest groups (e.g. children, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds);
- the disabling nature of some long-term health conditions (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons disease);
- the impact particular impairments can have on people’s abilities to do everyday tasks (e.g. vision or hearing impairments);
- how well people with disabilities are able to engage both economically (e.g. employment) and socially and issues relating to accessibility (e.g. transportation use, computer use); and
- an analysis of the people who need and receive assistance with everyday activities and who provides that assistance.
Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)
The growing number and modernization of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region poses a security challenge for the United States and its allies and is thus a concern for many in Congress. The United States has made ballistic missile defense (BMD) a central component of protection for forward-deployed U.S. forces and extended deterrence for allied security. The configuration of sensors, command-and-control centers, and BMD assets in the region has slowly evolved with contributions from treaty allies, primarily Japan, Australia, and South Korea.
Observers believe that North Korea has an arsenal of hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles and likely dozens of medium-range Nodong missiles; the extended-range Nodongs are considered capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases there. Longer-range North Korean missiles appear to remain unreliable, with only one successful test out of five in the past 15 years. The U.S. intelligence community has not reached consensus that North Korea can build nuclear warheads small enough to put on ballistic missiles, and there is debate among experts on this question.
Congress has maintained a strong interest in the ballistic missile threat from both North Korea and Iran and in BMD systems to counter those threats. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2013 (P.L. 112-239) notes that East Asian allies have contributed to BMD in various ways, and it calls on the Department of Defense to continue efforts to develop and formalize regional BMD arrangements.
The United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region have responded to the North Korean missile threat by deploying BMD assets and increasing international BMD cooperation. The United States and Japan have deployed Aegis-e quipped destroyers with Standard Missile 3 (SM- 3) interceptors, Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) batteries, early warning sensors, and advanced radars to meet the threat. South Korea and Australia have relatively basic BMD capabilities with plans to improve those in th e near future. Cooperation on BMD follows the hub- and-spokes model of U.S. bilateral alliance relationships in the region; the multilateralism that underpins the European BMD arrangement is largely absent. Working-level coordination is especially close among the United States, Japan, and Australia, but senior U.S. defense officials have called for greater integration of U.S. and allied BMD efforts in East Asia to improve effectiveness.
The stated focus of U.S. BMD policy is to defend against limited missile strikes from rogue states, not to alter the balance of strategic nuclear deterrence with the major nuclear-armed states. Nonetheless, Russia and China have strongly cr iticized U.S. BMD deployments as a threat to their nuclear deterrents, and thus a danger to strategic stability. Chinese officials and scholars make several other criticisms: that BMD is antagonizing North Korea and thus undermining regional stability; that the United States is using BMD to strengthen its alliance relationships, which could be turned against China; and that BMD is undermining China’s conventional missile deterrent against Taiwan, and thus emboldening those on Taiwan who want to formalize the island’s separation from China.
New psychoactive substances: Key challenges and responses
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia
As outlined in an earlier FlagPost, the availability and use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) have increased globally over the past decade. This has created new public health and law enforcement challenges that existing frameworks have failed to address, prompting a search for workable alternatives.
False sense of safety associated with use NPS are often marketed as ‘legal highs’ and professionally packaged, which can give the impression that they are safer to use than illicit drugs with similar effects. However, very little is known about their health impacts, partly due to the dynamic nature of the market and because the content and concentration of different batches of the same branded product may vary. A NSW Parliamentary inquiry was advised that synthetic cannabis products could actually be more harmful than cannabis itself, and that NPS may present a higher risk of overdose.
Number of NPS entering the market The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) observed in June 2013 that ‘the multitude of new psychoactive substances and the speed with which they have emerged in all regions of the world is one of the most notable trends in drug markets over the past five years’. In a submission to the NSW inquiry, one forensic science facility stated that new products claiming to be legal highs were submitted for testing every week. The NZ Ministry of Health advised that it had classified 31 NPS, but knew of around 2,000 cannabis mimics, ‘with the potential for there to be tens of thousands more’. Ease of evading prohibitions To date, measures to address NPS internationally and in individual countries have mainly involved their listing as prohibited substances. This has proven ineffective. A 2011 UK report outlines a typical example:
Despite the broad chemical generic ban on psychoactive cathinones imposed in April 2010, suppliers were able to find some loopholes, and within days a naphthyl derivative, Naphthylpyrovalerone (commonly referred as NRG-1) which lay outside the generic scope was offered for sale by internet retailers – advertised as “the legal alternative to mephedrone”.
When NSW prohibited seven synthetic cannabinoids in July 2011, ‘manufacturers quickly re-synthesised their products, replacing banned compounds with other synthetic cannabinoids not covered by the ban’. WA had the same experience in June 2011, with alternative synthetic cannabinoids on the market within days of its ban. Availability NPS are widely available through tobacconists, adult stores and online. In a UNODC survey, 88% of countries with a domestic NPS market indicated that the internet was a key source for NPS. Monitoring by an EU agency identified 693 online stores in 2012 selling NPS within Europe (up from 314 in January 2011 and 170 in January 2010). Between July 2011-July 2012, Australian researchers similarly identified:
+ 43 unique online stores selling stimulant/psychedelic NPS to Australian consumers â¢ 212 unique products with purported stimulant/psychedelic effects and â¢ 86 unique chemical substances.
Recent and proposed Australian responses Recent measures at the national level include:
+ the decision in February 2012 to create a group entry in Schedule 9 (Prohibited Substances) of the Poisons Standard, covering all synthetic cannabinomimetics except those separately specified (the Standard represents recommendations to States/Territories on the level of control that should apply to a substance)
+ moving the list of substances to which the Commonwealth’s serious drug offences apply from the Act to regulations in May 2013 to facilitate faster listing of NPS and â¢ on 18 June 2013, a national interim ban under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 on 19 named products and products that contain any of 20 substances already prohibited under the Poisons Standard (following interim bans on the same products in NSW and SA).
On 16 June 2013, the Government announced plans to ban the importation of NPS based on a ‘reverse onus of proof’ under which ‘new drugs coming onto the market are presumed to be illegal until the authorities know what they are and clear them as safe and legal’. The announcement states such a system already operates in Ireland and is due to begin in NZ in August 2013, but the Irish and proposed NZ systems are actually quite different. The NZ Bill would allow psychoactive substances to be legally sold where the manufacturer can demonstrate they present no more than a low risk to users. The Irish system instead represents a prohibitionist approach. Advocates for a public health-based response, including representatives of the Australian National Council on Drugs, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and the Greens health spokesperson, are hoping Australia’s response will resemble NZ’s. The Government also announced a national drug monitoring system that will ‘[make] use of existing intelligence sharing networks and information sources from around Australia and internationally’. This sounds like a more modest version of the EU’s Early Warning System, which the NSW Parliamentary inquiry recommended be replicated in Australia.
Source: Energy Information Administration
Australia is rich in commodities, including fossil fuel and uranium reserves, and is one of the few countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that is a significant net hydrocarbon exporter, exporting over 70 percent of its total energy production according to government sources. Australia was the world’s second largest coal exporter based on weight in 2011 and the third largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2012.
Australia is a net importer of crude oil and refined petroleum products, although the country exports substantial amounts of petroleum liquids. Hydrocarbon exports accounted for 23 percent of total commodity export revenues in 2011. The country holds the world’s largest recoverable reserves of uranium (about 31 percent) and is the third largest producer and exporter of uranium for nuclear-powered electricity, according to the World Nuclear Association.
Australia’s stable political environment, relatively transparent regulatory structure, substantial hydrocarbon reserves, and proximity to Asian markets make it an attractive place for foreign investment. The government published an Energy White Paper in 2012 that outlines its energy policy including balancing its priority of maintaining energy security with increasing exports to help supply Asia’s growing demand for fuel. Both of these paths involve developing more energy infrastructure, attracting greater investment, enhancing efficient energy markets and pricing mechanisms for consumers, and delivering cleaner and more sustainable energy. More recently, Australia’s expanding energy industry has been fraught with escalating costs and a shortage of labor. These, coupled with a bigger push for clean energy and stricter environmental regulations, are some challenges that domestic and international companies face in developing Australia’s energy resources.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Perspectives on Sport is a series of short articles on topics of interest relating to sport and physical recreation using data sourced from a range of ABS surveys.
This is the ninth issue of Perspectives on Sport. Future releases will feature articles on topics that are current in the media and of interest to the community using survey data as it becomes available. In most cases the data presented will be current, however, it is recommended that users check for more recent releases through the ABS website by going to the Sport and Physical Recreation Topics @ a Glance page.
Explaining High Health Care Spending in the United States: An International Comparison of Supply, Utilization, Prices, and Quality
This analysis uses data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and other sources to compare health care spending, supply, utilization, prices, and quality in 13 industrialized countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The U.S. spends far more on health care than any other country. However this high spending cannot be attributed to higher income, an older population, or greater supply or utilization of hospitals and doctors. Instead, the findings suggest the higher spending is more likely due to higher prices and perhaps more readily accessible technology and greater obesity. Health care quality in the U.S. varies and is not notably superior to the far less expensive systems in the other study countries. Of the countries studied, Japan has the lowest health spending, which it achieves primarily through aggressive price regulation.
The gap in life expectancy from preventable physical illness in psychiatric patients in Western Australia: retrospective analysis of population based registers
Source: British Medical Journal
To examine the mortality experience of psychiatric patients in Western Australia compared with the general population.
Population based study.
Western Australia, 1985-2005.
Psychiatric patients (292 585) registered with mental health services in Western Australia.
Main outcome measures
Trends in life expectancy for psychiatric patients compared with the Western Australian population and causes of excess mortality, including physical health conditions and unnatural causes of death.
When using active prevalence of disorder (contact with services in previous five years), the life expectancy gap increased from 13.5 to 15.9 years for males and from 10.4 to 12.0 years for females between 1985 and 2005. Additionally, 77.7% of excess deaths were attributed to physical health conditions, including cardiovascular disease (29.9%) and cancer (13.5%). Suicide was the cause of 13.9% of excess deaths.
Despite knowledge about excess mortality in people with mental illness, the gap in their life expectancy compared with the general population has widened since 1985. With most excess deaths being due to physical health conditions, public efforts should be directed towards improving physical health to reduce mortality in people with mental illness, in addition to ongoing efforts to prevent suicide.
See also: Premature death among people with mental illness (editorial)
AU: Prime Minister and Minister for Defence – Joint Media Release – Release of the 2013 Defence White Paper
Prime Minister and Minister for Defence – Joint Media Release – Release of the 2013 Defence White Paper
Source: Australian Government, Department of Defence
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Defence Minister Stephen Smith today released the 2013 Defence White Paper.
The 2013 Defence White Paper complements the National Security Strategy released on 23 January 2013, and the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper released on 28 October 2012.
These three documents are a statement of the priority the Government places on Australia’s security and prosperity, and on maintaining a strong Australian Defence Force to meet Australia’s national security challenges.
The White Paper addresses the range of significant international and domestic developments since 2009, which influence Australia’s national security and defence settings, including their impact on force posture, future force structure and the Defence budget.
These developments include:
- the ongoing economic strategic and military shift to the Indo-Pacific;
- the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) operational drawdown from Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands;
- the United States’ re-balance to the Asia-Pacific;
- Australia’s substantially enhanced practical cooperation with the United States pursuant to our Alliance relationship; and
- the ongoing adverse effects of the Global Financial Crisis, which have continued to have a significant deleterious impact on the global economy, domestic fiscal circumstances and Defence funding.
The White Paper outlines the Government’s judgement that the strategic shift to the Indo-Pacific means growing prosperity, but also brings some uncertainty and risk.
Regional military modernisation is increasing the ability of nations to exert military power.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
This publication presents information from the National Prisoner Census about persons held in Australian prisons on the night of 30 June 2012. The National Prisoner Census covers all prisoners in the legal custody of adult corrective services in adult prisons, including periodic detainees in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. It excludes persons held in juvenile justice institutions, psychiatric custody and police custody. It is based on data extracted from administrative records held by the corrective services agencies in each Australian state and territory. These statistics provide a profile of the legal status, sentence details and demographic characteristics of Australian prisoners in the legal custody of adult prisons.
Users of this publication should note that it provides a statistical picture of the persons in prison at a point in time (30 June 2012), and does not represent the flow of prisoners during the year. The majority of prisoners in the annual Prisoner Census were serving long-term sentences for serious offences, whereas the flow of offenders in and out of prisons consists primarily of persons serving short sentences for lesser offences. Complementary information to this publication about Australian prisoners is available in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) quarterly publication, Corrective Services, Australia (cat. no. 4512.0).
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. On March 15, 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that Japan would seek to participate in the TPP negotiations. U.S. negotiators and others describe and envision the TPP as a “comprehensive and high-standard” FTA that aims to liberalize trade in nearly all goods and services and include commitments beyond those currently established in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The broad outline of an agreement was announced on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial in November 2011, in Honolulu, HI. If concluded as envisioned, the TPP potentially could eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment among the parties and could serve as a template for a future trade pact among APEC members and potentially other countries. Congress has a direct interest in the negotiations, both through influencing U.S. negotiating positions with the executive branch, and by passing legislation to implement any resulting agreement.
The 16th round of negotiations concluded in Singapore on March 14, 2013, and the 17th round is scheduled to be held in Lima, Peru in May 2013. The current goal is to reach an agreement in time for the October 2013 APEC summit in Indonesia. For this deadline to be achieved, outstanding negotiating positions may need to be tabled soon in order for political decisions to be made. The negotiating dynamic itself is complex: decisions on key market access issues such as dairy, sugar, and textiles and apparel may be dependent on the outcome of controversial rules negotiations such as intellectual property rights or state-owned enterprises.
Twenty-nine chapters in the agreement are under discussion. The United States is negotiating market access for goods, services, and agriculture with countries with which it does not currently have FTAs: Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Vietnam. Negotiations are also being conducted on disciplines to intellectual property rights, trade in services, government procurement, investment, rules of origin, competition, labor, and environmental standards and other issues. In many cases, the rules being negotiated are intended to be more rigorous than comparable rules found in the WTO. Some topics, such as state-owned enterprises, regulatory coherence, and supply chain competitiveness, break new ground in FTA negotiations. As the countries that make up the TPP negotiating partners include advanced industrialized, middle income, and developing economies, the TPP, if implemented, may involve substantial restructuring of the economies of some participants.
The TPP serves several strategic goals in U.S. trade policy. First, it is the leading trade policy initiative of the Obama Administration, and is a manifestation of the Administration’s “pivot” to Asia. If concluded, it may serve to shape the economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region by harmonizing existing agreements with U.S. FTA partners, attracting new participants, and establishing regional rules on new policy issues facing the global economy—possibly providing impetus to future multilateral liberalization under the WTO.
As the negotiations proceed, a number of issues important to Congress are emerging. One is whether the United States can balance its vision of creating a “comprehensive and high standard” agreement with a large and expanding group of countries, while not insisting on terms that other countries will reject. Another issue is how Congress will consider the TPP, if concluded. The present negotiations are not being conducted under the auspices of formal trade promotion authority (TPA)—the latest TPA expired on July 1, 2007—although the Administration informally
Telecommunications and Lawful Access: The Legislative Situation in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia
Source: Library of Parliament, Canada
This paper deals with “lawful access,”an investigative technique used by law enforcement agencies and national security agencies. It involves the interception of communications and seizure of information during a search, where authorized by law.
The AIC undertook a literature review on single person police patrols both in Australia and internationally. This report examines challenges faced by first-response police officers when working alone and the impact this had on them, operational decisions to deploy single person patrols and how the community view this issue. It concludes that there has been limited research on single person patrols in policing and of the research findings available in the literature, results are mixed and updated research needs to be undertaken.
Report card shows Australia’s oceans are changing
Source: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Launched today, the 2012 Marine Climate Change in Australia Report Card demonstrates that climate change is having significant impacts on Australia’s marine ecosystems.
The report card provides information about the current and predicted-future state of Australia’s marine climate and its impact on our marine biodiversity. The report card also outlines actions that are underway to help our marine ecosystems adapt to climate change.
Key findings show
- warming sea temperatures are influencing the distribution of marine plants and animals, with species currently found in tropical and temperate waters likely to move south
- new research suggests winds over the Southern Ocean and current dynamics are strongly influencing foraging of seabirds that breed in south-east Australia and feed close to the Antarctic each summer
- some tropical fish species have a greater ability to acclimatise to rising water temperatures than previously thought
- the Australian science community is widely engaged in research, monitoring and observing programs to increase our understanding of climate change impacts and inform management
- adaptation planning is happening now, from seasonal forecast for fisheries and aquaculture, to climate-proofing of breeding sites for turtles and seabirds.
See: Report Card Shows Australia’s Oceans Are Changing (Science Daily)