Saturday, December 28, 2013

No asylum seeker boat arrivals in past week, Scott Morrison reveals

The Immigration Minister says a total of 355 asylum seekers have arrived by boat this month - the lowest December number for five years.  Scott Morrison has released a statement confirming there have been no boat arrivals in the past week.

Since Operation Sovereign Borders began three months ago 1,106 asylum seekers on board 22 boats have been intercepted by authorities.  Mr Morrison says that is an 87 per cent decline on the three months preceding the policy.

"The Coalition's experience since coming to Government has shown that no single measure and no single partner is responsible for the dramatic fall in arrivals," he said in a statement.

"The boats have not yet stopped but they are stopping. The right policies are now in the right hands, and they are getting the right results on our borders, as we promised."

The population of the Government's offshore processing facilities includes 841 people at Nauru and 1,229 on Manus Island.


Jellyfish stings are best treated with nice hot shower

Important info for tropical Australia

After being stung by a jellyfish, many of us will apply vinegar or maybe an ice pack.

New research from the University of Sydney suggests those treatments might just make things worse. Hot water immersion in a shower or under a tap could be better.

Despite jellyfish stings being a common problem, a summary of good quality research has not existed to guide effective treatment, said the senior author of the paper, associate professor Angela Webster.

"Many treatments have been suggested to relieve the symptoms of jellyfish stings, however it was unclear which interventions were most effective," the university's associate professor Webster of the school of public health said.  "Our research showed that immersing the sting in hot water was 50 per cent more effective than ice packs in relieving pain," she said.

"A hot shower following bluebottle stings is the best treatment for pain.  "Treating the sting with vinegar or Adolph's Meat Tenderiser, compared with hot water, actually made the skin appear worse.''

The research would allow organisations like Surf Life Saving to make evidence-based treatment recommendations, she said.


Victorian students will get tough love lessons

VICTORIAN school students will be taught to toughen up and sort out their own problems amid concern too many lack resilience.

The delivery of sex and drug education will also be overhauled as part of the new schools initiative.  It aims to help youngsters better deal with life's setbacks.

The State Government will today announce experts from the University of Melbourne will develop the resilience program, to be rolled out to state primary and secondary schools from mid next year.

It follows findings that developing students' social and emotional skills is critical to improving their academic performance and success in life.

"Education is more than teaching numbers and words - it's about preparing students for life during and after school," Education Minister Martin Dixon said.

"Victorian schools already have a strong wellbeing focus - making sure every student is supported to succeed at school.  "The resilience framework takes the next step, teaching students how to make good decisions when faced with life's challenges."

Under the resilience initiative teachers and school leaders will get access to new online social, wellbeing and health resources which can be used in class or given to families to use at home.

Students will learn how to make informed decisions, when to ask for help and develop relationship and self-awareness skills.  Advice about "respectful" relationships and health promotion will also be included.

University of Melbourne project leader Associate Prof Helen Cahill said the institution had extensive experience in delivering such programs.

"The resilience framework will equip educators with evidence-based approaches to promoting social and emotional wellbeing and health education in Victorian schools," she said.

Training to help teachers handle students who have challenging behaviour and advice for principals to deal with aggressive parents are also part of the welfare push.

Content will be tailored to students' age


Qld. eyes new back-to-basics exams for kids to make grade

STATE school maths and science testing is set for a shake-up with the Newman Government supporting reforms including the potential for external, HSC-style exams.  The move could have wider implications for the future of Queensland's OP system, which is also under review.

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek will today release his response to the parliamentary Education and Innovation Committee's inquiry into the way maths, chemistry and physics are being assessed in schools and its 16 recommendations.

The LNP asked for the inquiry after complaints from parents, teachers and academics about the current system.

Mr Langbroek said the Government backed the committee's recommendations and wanted the system to go "back to basics".

"The major outcomes of this will be a greater emphasis on numerical marking and a review of students' written assignments," Mr Langbroek said. "This is about getting back to basics, removing the confusion and allowing schools to make decisions about the best way to assess their students."

In a further indication the current OP (overall position) system for assessing senior students is on its way out, Mr Langbroek also expressed support for an external, HSC-style exam worth about 50 per cent of a student's overall mark in maths, chemistry and physics. All of the assessment is  school-based currently.

He has asked the independent inquiry into the OP system, being carried out by the Australian Council for Educational Research, to consider the move and it is due to report back by July.

Under the plan, the number of inquiry-based assessments such as essays will be capped, while the senior heads of maths and science departments from about 400 schools will be compelled to attend workshops early next year to address "challenges and confusions" identified in the parliamentary inquiry.

Mr Langbroek said the workshops will be held by the outgoing Queensland Studies Authority which is due to be replaced by new body, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority, in July next year,

"The QSA will be directed to formally amend syllabuses to require that no more than two extended experimental investigations be conducted per subject per year as part of the implementation of the Australian Curriculum," he said.

"They will also write to all principals clarifying the use of numerical marking, and develop resources that explain how marks can be linked to syllabus standards and criteria."


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