The decline in youth crime in New South Wales may be related to the widespread use of social media and video streaming services, a research by the Australian National University (ANU) has found.
The ANU compared the NSW Police data of crime rates for people aged 10 to 21 born in 1984 and those born in 1994. It discovered that the proportion of the population who had come into contact with the criminal justice system had halved. Car theft was down 59 percent, while property theft and drunk-driving dropped by 59 and 49 percent respectively. Drug offending also fell 22 percent.
Criminologist Jason Payne said the decline may be attributed to changes in the way young people spend their time.
“We now have kids who are engaging much more often online, using mobile and other portable devices in the home and spending less time out on the street,” said Payne.
“An increased use of home entertainment and social media is also reducing opportunities for traditional forms of crime.”
However, Payne warned that the changing habits might lead to new forms of crime. “Those native to social media may explore antisocial and criminal behaviours online which at present attract far less scrutiny from parents and authorities.”
Former US President Bill Clinton said he didn’t owe an apology to Monica Lewinsky after the 1998 scandal.
In an interview with NBC’s Today show, Clinton told Craig Melvin that he had never privately apologised to Lewinsky and did not feel any need to. Clinton was interviewed alongside his co-author James Patterson to promote their new novel, The President is Missing.
“I have never talked to her,” Clinton said. “But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.”
Public attention to Clinton’s scandal, along with the allegations of sexual harassment and assault from several women, has been renewed after the rise of the #MeToo movement.
Clinton praised the movement but admitted to having some reservations about some of its outcomes. “I like the #MeToo movement,” Clinton said. “It’s way overdue. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything. I still have some questions about some of the decisions that have been made.”
Considering the movement, Clinton said he would still approach the accusations made against him in the same way. “If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t [handle it any differently],” said Clinton. “I don’t think it would be an issue because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts.”
In a Vanity Fair essay earlier this year, Lewinsky wrote that she had started to view the affair with Clinton, which she previously characterised as consensual, in a different light. “Now, at 44, I’m beginning (just beginning) to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern,” she wrote.
Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has erupted on Thursday, shooting ash and smoke about 9,100 metre into the air.
While a rain kept the ash from going far, US Geological Survey geologist Michelle Coombs said “additional larger, powerful events” are to be expected.
The eruption occurred after two weeks of volcanic activity on the island, where lava flow has destroyed dozens of homes and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate.
Officials handed out 18,000 masks to protect residents from particulates, with more to be distributed soon. Locals in the area have been advised to stay home, with no further evacuations necessary at this point.
Hawaii Governor David Ige still encouraged visits from tourists, as the international airports in Hilo and Kona remain open.
“I would like to also remind the rest of the world as well as the rest of the state, Hawaii Island continues to be open for business,” Ige said. “The eruption site and the lava flows are in a very small portion of the island.”
It wasn’t a big budget for education this year, with schools funding already set in the last Budget, and the funding freeze for universities announced in the Federal Government’s mid-year budget update in December.
But the National Schools Chaplaincy program will become permanent, with A$247 million set aside over four years from 2018-19.
And there is some good news for students in regional, rural and remote areas, with:
A$96.1 million over four years for young people in regional, rural and remote communities to transition to further education, training and employment
A$14 million over four years for 185 Commonwealth Supported Places annually for students commencing a bachelor degree at university through a Regional Study Hub
A$53.9 million over four years to improve regional students’ access to youth allowance, and
A$123.6 million over five years to regional universities for additional Commonwealth Supported Places from 2017-18.
Schools and early education funding
Glenn Savage, Senior Lecturer in Education Policy and Sociology of Education at University of Western Australia
Despite ongoing political debates about school funding, most of the big news happened in last year’s budget, when the federal government formalised details associated with its Quality Schools reform package.
The package centres on a commitment to align school funding with the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) recommended in the 2011 Gonski report into school funding.
To achieve this, the government plans to progressively raise funding levels for government schools from 17% to 20% of the SRS and for private schools from 76.8% to 80% of the SRS by 2027.
The government argues that this delivers an additional $24.5 billion for Australian schools over the decade, and says it will be up to states as to whether they wish to fund the remaining amounts so that all schools reach the full SRS.
The government also claims its reform package provides more consistent needs-based funding when compared to the so-called “special deals” established under the Labor Gillard government.
Labor doesn’t agree, suggesting the Coalition is shortchanging the nation to the tune of A$17 billion (the initial claim was $22 billion) when compared to promises made by the former Gillard Labor government.
Labor has promised, if re-elected, to return to the Gillard model.
This ensures funding will be a defining issue at the next federal election, especially given last week’s Gonski 2.0 report has made a suite of recommendations that the federal government supports and could very well require an additional injection of federal funds to implement.
But any potential changes hinge on whether the Coalition is actually in power when next year’s budget is delivered. And, if so, whether it has any luck pursuing the new Gonski agenda with states and territories.
Aside from these ongoing Gonski wars, this year’s budget contains a few additional highlights.
• A$11.8 million over three years to expand the Early Learning Languages Australia program to more preschools and trial the program in 2019 and 2020 from the first year of school through to year two in primary schools.
• A$6 million over two years (from 2017-18) to continue and update the communications campaign to increase public awareness of changes to the Quality Schools package (aka public relations to sell the government’s reform package).
• A$1.3 million per year until 2020-21 to continued funding the MoneySmart Teaching program, designed to improve financial literacy education in schools.
Finally, the government has signalled its intention to continue exploring ways to deliver new and diverse pathways into the teaching profession, with the view to increasing the supply of quality teachers. This measure builds on previous work associated with the Teach for Australia program.
To pursue this aim, the government has suggested it will invite proposals in 2018 from providers to deliver alternative pathways into teaching.
Higher education and VET funding
Andrew Norton, Program Director of Higher Education at Grattan Institute
The long aftermath of the VET FEE-HELP loan fiasco is still being felt in the 2018-19 Budget. The government is planning to spend A$36.2M over fours years for a new IT system to ensure compliance in the replacement VET Student Loans program.
The VET Student Loans Ombudsman, given the task of receiving student complaints about vocational education lending, is to receive another A$1 million to help deal with the large numbers of people making complaints.
Higher education’s big Budget news came early, in the December 2017 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). It announced a two-year pause in tuition subsidy growth, and a range of reforms to the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP). There is no major change to these decisions in the 2018-19 Budget.
The pause in tuition subsidy growth has been implemented. It was done without going back to parliament using university funding agreements. For domestic bachelor degree places, universities will receive the same total amount that they received for 2017 for each of 2018 and 2019. Previously, there were “demand driven”, meaning that the Government would fund every student the universities enrolled.
The government has also used the funding agreements to reduce the number of Commonwealth-funded diploma, associate degree, and postgraduate coursework places. About 4,000 allocated places were abolished, but some of these weren’t being used anyway, so the practical effect may be limited.
Soon after these policies were announced, partial exceptions began with the University of Tasmania, the University of the Sunshine Coast and Southern Cross University all receiving additional places. These are confirmed in the Budget at a cost of A$124 million over five years.
Including the new places, funding on Commonwealth contributions through the Commonwealth Grant Scheme will be just over A$7 billion for 2018-2019.
From 2020, the government says it will resume funding increases based on population growth for universities that meet yet-to-be determined performance criteria. The Budget paper shows predicted spending of A$7.3 billion in 2020-21.
But numbers this far out are moot. With an election due in the next 12 months, and Labor indicating it will go back to demand driven funding, the funding freeze could be over by then. If the Coalition survives in office, it may also make substantial changes.
The other major MYEFO announcement was to the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) loan scheme. Unlike changes to total tuition subsidy payments, these need legislating and the relevant bill is still before the Senate.
The most important proposed changes to HELP are the income thresholds determining whether, or how much, a HELP debtor needs to repay each year. If it passes, the bill would lower the initial repayment threshold from A$52,000 a year to A$45,000 a year. HELP debtors earning between A$45,000 and A$52,000 would repay 1% of their income. But some other thresholds are more generous than now, and many HELP debtors would end up paying less per year than they do now.
The government also originally proposed a A$100,000 lifetime cap on borrowing under HELP for all courses except medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, rather than just the full-fee student FEE-HELP scheme. The Budget confirms that the cap would be A$100,000 of HELP debt at any one time, allowing people who have paid off some debt to borrow again.
Whether HELP reforms eventually pass the Senate remains to be seen. In either case, it is fortunate for the higher education sector that they were not rejected prior to the May 2018 Budget. The freezing of the demand driven system showed the government was not bluffing when it said it needed to reduce higher education spending. Like the demand driven system, equity programs and some research programs are vulnerable to cuts the parliament cannot easily stop.
As it turns out, these programs survive in the Budget.
Research funding will receive a modest boost, with nearly A$400 million extra over five years for research infrastructure.
Although the higher education sector gets off lightly in the Budget compared to MYEFO, higher education providers will be hit with extra charges. The Government plans to charge them more for the services of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency.
The government also plans to charge higher education providers A$10 million a year to recover costs associated with HELP. We can only hope some of this is used to improve on the current very unsatisfactory public reporting of HELP’s finances.
House prices slid in many of Australian state capitals in the end of April.
According to property data agency CoreLogic, Melbourne had the steepest weekly decline with 0.2 per cent, followed by Sydney and Brisbane with 0.1 per cent. So far in 2018, the home prices in all five mainland state capital cities have fallen, ranging from Brisbane’s 0.1 per cent to Sydney’s 2.1 per cent.
Many factors could be attributed to these drops, including the higher-than-usual supply of properties. Currently there are 26,879 homes for sale Sydney and 31,195 in Melbourne, indicating a 28.2 per cent and a 11.4 per cent increase from this time last year respectively. Weak household income growth and a decline in the number of foreign buyers also contributed to this weakness.
A proposal has been unveiled to turn a 1905 church in Rose Bay into a “community gathering space” with retail spots and 10 apartments.
The plan, presented by the Uniting Head Church to Woollahra Council, sought to redevelop the church building on Old South Head Road and Dover Road into a mixed-use development with retail, residential, church and community space.
Andrew Gibbons from Endeavour Property Advisory, the development manager on the project, said, “The church came to me and said, ‘Look, the congregation doesn’t use the church anymore, we would like to maximise the use of it so that we can put the money into other missional use’.
“That’s why we’ve gone down this development path as opposed to selling it to a developer who would take all the profit out it and use it for its own use.”
The proposal included underground parking, ground-floor retail, and three-bedroom units to be sold at $3.5 million each. Should it be accepted, the project will commence construction in July next year.
Telecommunications giant Optus has called an investigation into an online job ad that called for “Anglo-Saxon” candidates at one of its Sydney stores.
The advert, which asked for casual retail consultant at Neutral Bay, said “candidates who are Anglo Saxon” are “preferred”. It has been removed since.
Vaughan Paul, Vice-President of Human Resources at Optus said the ad was “unacceptable” and not reflective of the company’s values.
“This error [is] a clear breach of our advertising standards and commitment to equal opportunity employment,” said Paul. “Optus proudly supports diversity and employs staff representing more than 70 nationalities.
“We… will be investigating how this occurred with a view to taking disciplinary action against those involved.”
However, the company still receives criticism from customers for the impropriety of the ad.
Thanks @Optus for coming out. I’ve been a loyal customer for 14 years and so have other thousands of non Anglo-Saxon Australians. I’ll now switch to another network provider. I also hereby call upon other non Anglo-Saxon Australians to boycott @optus immediately. https://t.co/YqWUUnfdII
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s latest climate outlook, issued today, suggests the above-average warmth of April is likely to extend into May, and for parts of the south, potentially into winter.
The outlooks for May temperatures show that both days and nights are likely to be warmer than average for much of Australia. Only northeast Queensland is likely to miss out on warmer temperatures, with no strong push there towards warmer or cooler conditions.
The unseasonable warmth, which has broken records in Adelaide and Sydney, appears to be driven by high ocean temperatures, and weaker westerly winds and much lower than average soil moisture across southern Australia.
The rainfall outlook for May is mixed, but generally shows no strong shift towards a wetter or drier month for most of Australia.
By June the tendency for warmer than normal days may start to wane. This easing of the outlook for above average temperatures as we head into winter is reflected in the full May-July outlook, with only some parts of southern Australia likely to be warmer than average. Southern parts of Western Australia and South Australia have a moderate chance of warmer than average daytime temperatures, with stronger odds over southern Victoria.
Odds don’t favour a strong push towards a particularly wet or dry three months for much of Australia, apart from some areas in the far southeast.
What’s behind the warmth?
The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) are two of Australia’s major climate drivers. ENSO is currently in a neutral phase, meaning its neither El Niño nor La Niña. Our outlooks suggest it is likely to stay neutral leading into winter.
The IOD is also neutral, and most models suggest it will remain so over the coming months.
But given it is harder to forecast ENSO and the IOD in autumn compared to other times of the year, climatologists will be monitoring Indian and Pacific Ocean temperature patterns closely as we edge towards winter.
With near-average temperature patterns in the tropical oceans to our east and west, there is no strong shift in the outlook towards widespread wetter or drier conditions for Australia.
However, for temperatures it’s a little different. Sure ENSO and the IOD are playing a minor role right now, but other factors are coming into play.
Ocean temperatures in the Tasman Sea and around New Zealand are much warmer than average – in fact at record levels in the past few months – and are expected to remain warm over the coming months. These warm sea temperatures are associated with a large area of lower than usual air pressure to Australia’s east, which is likely to weaken the westerly winds that normally bring cooler air to southern Australia in autumn and winter.
Another factor in the current and forecast warmth is the very much below average soil moisture across southern Australia. With little moisture available to evaporate and cool the air, and the soils themselves not able to store as much heat, the air above the ground heats more rapidly in the daytime.
In addition to our natural climate drivers, Australian climate patterns are being influenced by the long-term trend in global air and ocean temperatures. Winter maximum temperatures have increased by 1℃ over the past century, with three of the top five warmest winters in the past 108 years occurring since 2009. Oceans around Australia have warmed by slightly more, with four of our top five warmest years since 2010.
So while the normal big two drivers of our climate remain benign, it would actually be wrong to assume there will be a quick return to more average temperatures. The outlook released today suggests we may have to wait at least another month until service returns to normal for much of the country.
Technology spending in Australia is forecast to reach $84.5 billion this year with 2.3 per cent growth.
Latest report from Gartner has revised forecasts for global tech spending from 4.4 per cent to 6.2 per cent, or US$3.7 trillion for 2018. The research company said this was the highest annual growth rate since 2007.
IT services is expected to remain the largest segment in Australia with $30.45 billion, up from last year’s $29.8 billion. Communications services comes second with a forecast of $26.6 billion, followed by software with $12.57 billion and devices with $12.19 billion. The only category in decline is data centres with $2.7 billion, down from 2017’s $2.75 billion. However, Gartner expected the number to bounce back up in 2019.
According to Gartner, worldwide IT spending will rise by the expected level of 3 per cent in 2018, in line with global economic growth of 3.3 per cent. Software spending is forecast to experience the highest growth this year with an 11.1 per cent increase.
A team of researchers have developed a 4D printer, a progress that promises to bring changes in aerospace, medicine and other industries.
The 4D printer is able to print 3D objects which can change shape after exposure to heat, humidity and/or light, and then revert back to its original form. Furthermore, whereas most commercial printers can only print 4D structures in one material only, the new printer is able to bring together different varieties.
The team presented its creation at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) late March.
“We are on the cusp of creating a new generation of devices that could vastly expand the practical applications for 3-D and 4-D printing,” said team leader H Jerry Qi, who is also a professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“Our prototype printer integrates many features that appear to simplify and expedite the processes used in traditional 3-D printing.
“As a result, we can use a variety of materials to create hard and soft components at the same time, incorporate conductive wiring directly into shape-changing structures, and ultimately set the stage for the development of a host of 4-D products that could reshape our world.”
The team is currently working with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to find out the technology’s suitability for printing prosthetic hands in children with malformed arms.
“Only a small group of children have this condition, so there isn’t a lot of commercial interest in it and most insurance does not cover the expense,” Qi said. “But these children have a lot of challenges in their daily lives, and we hope our new 4D printer will help them overcome some of these difficulties.”
The printer, which was funded by HP, the National Science Foundation, the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and Northrop Grumman, cost approximately US$350,000 to build, Qi revealed.
The creation received positive response at the meeting. “We just had a conversation where we were dreaming of that kind of machine,” said Geoff Spinks, materials engineering professor at the University of Wollongong. “I’d imagine in the near future we might have 16 different types of printheads, or even more.”