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WA’s peak parent group has slammed a plan to test pre-primary students next year as a waste of money, saying it’s “ridiculous” to assess children as young as four.

As part of its strategy to improve literacy and numeracy across WA, the Education Department will start to roll out the 30-minute assessments in the first term in public schools. The Sunday Times can reveal some of the sample questions likely to be used in the so-called “on entry assessments”, which are aimed at picking up early problems.

Pre-primary students in public schools will be asked to: Speak about a certain topic, such as friends or favourite games, for two to three minutes. Estimate how many teddy bears are in a cup. Put objects, from smallest to tallest, in order. Count backwards. Match dots with a number on a page.

WA Council of State School Organisations president Rob Fry attacked the $2 million plan, saying he expected parents to be angered by the “ineffective” results.

“I just find this truly remarkable when you’re dealing with children of such a young age,” he said.

“If you get an exceptionally shy child, you’re asking a four-year-old to talk on a subject for two minutes and some of them won’t want to say anything at that age. Does that mean they’ve got a literacy problem? No, they might be shy.

“It’s ineffective and you are going to get such diverse responses between a child coming from an indigenous community to a child living in a Perth suburb with a highly socially active family.”

School Support Programs executive director David Axworthy said the Education Department based its tests on the Victorian model because it was the “best tool to meet the needs of WA children”. It would also enable shared resources between the states.

“It will leave WA well placed for the introduction of the national curriculum when it is produced in 2011,” he said.

WA Primary Principals Association president Steve Breen supported the plan because it would allow teachers to set benchmarks and adapt their programs to suit children’s needs.

Education Minister Liz Constable said children at risk of falling behind would be identified earlier, allowing urgent action to be taken.

Under the plan, students in 50 schools will be tested in term one before all public schools will have access to the assessments in the final term. From 2011, each pre-primary student will be tested at the start of the year.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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George Michael will perform two Australian concerts in February, and the first will be in Perth.                                                          

Rumours had been rife that the Too Funky star was headed down under, and today his Australian trip has been confirmed.

Heading to Australia for the first time since 1988, the Wham! star and solo pop vocalist will perform at Member’s Equity Stadium on February 20.  He will then perform in Sydney at Sydney Football Stadium on February 26.

He will perform tracks from the early days, Wham! and his latest material.

Promoter Paul Dainty said it was thrilling to bring Michael back to the country following his Faith tour in the 80s.

“He is a consummate performer and will deliver a stunning show to his fans who have waited 22 years to see him perform in Australia,” Dainty said.

Michael has performed for more than 2 million fans on this 25 Live arena tour so far. More than 350,000 people flocked to his London performances alone.

Michael has sold more than 100 million pop albums, had six American number one singles and won plenty of awards for tunes including Faith, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Careless Whisper, One More Try, Freedom, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Too Funky.

Tickets will go on sale through TicketMaster on December 8.

Source  :  www.watoday.com.au

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The Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has officially launched a $100 million research centre in Perth, which has been set up to help Australia win a massive radio astronomy project.

Western Australia and South Africa are the front runners to secure the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array project, with the decision expected in 2012.

To strengthen WA’s bid, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia have set up the International Centre for Astronomy Research with extra funding from the State Government.

The International Director for the S.K.A project Richard Schilizzi says the centre will enhance Australia’s chances.

“It shows that the infrastructure for radio astronomy in Australia is very strong and that means that the ability to exploit the telescope role will be ensured,” he said.

Source  :  www.abc.net.au

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The AMA wants the government cash incentive scheme designed to lure nurses back into the workforce to be extended to include nurses who want to work in general practice.

It was reported this week (The Australian, 27 August 2009) that the Federal Government’s program to bring nurses back into the workforce was failing to meet targets, with only 541 nurses recruited.

AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said nearly $40 million over five years in funding had been set aside for the Bringing Nurses Back Into The Workforce program and it was vital that the money was used effectively.

“The Government’s initiative is too restrictive because it only targets public hospitals, private hospitals and aged care facilities,” Dr Pesce said.

“The Bringing Nurses Back Into The Workforce program ignores the important contribution that nurses can make in other parts of the health sector such as general practice.

“The program’s guidelines should be relaxed so that nurses who want to return to the workforce to take up a position in general practice will be eligible for funding.”

Around 60 per cent of general practices employ practice nurses who work collaboratively with doctors.

“General practice can offer nurses a very rewarding career and a great work/life balance,” Dr Pesce said.

“Getting more nurses into general practice supports multidisciplinary care and will free up GPs to see more patients.”

The AMA also believes general practices should be better supported to employ practice nurses by making practice nurse grants available to all general practices and ensuring that the Medicare Benefits Schedule recognises the full scope of patient care that GP practice nurses can provide.

Source
Australian Medical Association

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AIRASIA recently launched its Big Sale promotion by offering three million seats for both domestic and international destinations.

The booking period for both sectors during the Big Sale campaign is only until Sunday.

Bookings are for the travel period from Jan 11 to July 31 next year. The flights are available from its eight hubs – Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Penang, Kota Kinabalu, Bangkok, Jakarta, Bali and Bandung.

Guests can fly from Kuala Lumpur to domestic destinations such as Penang, Johor Baru from as low as RM9. Popular international destinations such as Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bangkok, Phuket are offered from as low as RM49.

Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh, Bali and Bandung are offered from RM69 and the highly in demand “Kangaroo Routes” in Australia such as Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth are offered from RM149.

The airline is also extending the promotion to its recently launched routes such as Colombo, Taipei, and London from RM89, RM99 and RM479 respectively.

“This ‘Big Sale’ promises to be the sale of the year for AirAsia,” said AirAsia Group regional head of commercial Kathleen Tan.

“I dare say that it is even better than the free seats offered in the past as guests now save on administration fees and fuel surcharges as we have abolished both charges,” she said, adding that guests can now enjoy greater savings of up to 70% from the Big Sale.

“For example, with the past free seat offer, guests paid RM53.50 for Penang now they only pay RM9, Kuching was RM78.50, now RM29.  For international sectors, guests paid RM142.50 for Bali, now RM69. Singapore used to be RM122.50, now it’s RM29, Gold Coast was RM354, now RM149,” said Tan.

Promotional seats are limited and available exclusively online via www.airasia.com and mobile.airasia.com.

Source  :  www.thesundaily.com

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THIS North Beach property could confirm whether Perth’s struggling real estate market has turned the corner.  home in nb

Real estate experts say that during the height of WA’s property boom the 1346sqm ocean-front house on West Coast Drive would have fetched more than $5 million.

It is for auction on Saturday and the selling price will be a strong indication of whether property prices, especially for top-end homes, have started to recover.

Nexus sales consultant Peter Berridge, who specialises in the North Beach area, said the property would have been highly sought after during the 2006-07 housing boom.

“It’s a nice elevated lot, with a nice frontage. It’s got everything going for it,” Mr Berridge said.

“I don’t think it would be an over-exaggeration to think it might have sold for in excess of $5 million (back then). We were going through an era where it didn’t seem to matter what you paid for it, you were always going to make a packet until the proverbial hit the fan.”

Mr Berridge said he believed values had dropped about 40 per cent since the property peak.

“The last sale was 341 West Coast Drive in Trigg that sold for $2.2 million and it was a very choice piece of land _ something like that could have possibly pulled $4 million in 2007 and I can mention lesser blocks that sold for more than $4 million,” he said.

According to Landgate, North Beach has enjoyed solid property value growth in the past decade.
It recorded a 19.4 per cent average annual growth rate in the 10 years to December 2008. It also recorded strong growth last year and was among the Perth metropolitan area’s Top 10 performing suburbs, with a 17.7 per cent jump in median house prices.

But during this period it recorded a low volume of sales activity, with just 19 homes sold.
This could have skewered the statistics.

“There’s no doubt that the market for premium coastal property has come back since the height of 2007,” Real Estate Institute of WA president Rob Druitt said.

“Indications are that the first signs of recovery are starting to come through now, so there’s certainly a unique opportunity for buyers who are (looking) in that market,” he said.

Mr Druitt said it has been a bottom-up recovery, so if the top end was reasonably priced and sold, it could give a good indication that Perth’s entire property market had seen the worst.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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Butler is said to be the biggest construction site outside the mining sector.

The Brighton estate is more than halfway complete, now offering more vacant lots for a total of $8.4 million. The largest block for sale is almost 16,000sqm in Captiva Approach, near Lukin Drive which is $3.25 million. Property developer Nigel Satterley said this block would be zoned mixed business allowing for multi-purpose use.  Another site overlooking the park in Brampton Avenue which is 6664sqm mixed used lot at $2.1 million.

Mr Satterley said the North-West-Metropolitan sector is the third fastest growing area in Australia for housing.  In the Brighton Estate there will be 6300 residential lots and eventually a population of 28,000 people.  It is the biggest project ever to be lodged under the WA Planning Commission’s Liveable Neighbourhood community design codes.  The plan includes 55 parks, artificial lakes, shopping village and community facilities.                                                                                                                     

The other lots up for offer are : brighton%20crop

  • 5335sqm on Chipping Crescent, zoned business $1.1 million.
  • 3553sqm on Kingsbridge Blvd mix of commercial and residential use classed as centre zone $790,000.
  •  More information call 9562 0422 or 0418 953 659

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AUSSIE Home Loans has recorded a strong rise in the number of borrowers looking to refinance their mortgages, as home owners try to take advantage of record low interest rates.

The non-bank lender said refinancing accounted for 38.5 per cent of home loans written in June, up from 30.2 per cent in March.

“There have been plenty of home owners who have been complacent about their mortgages,” Aussie founder and executive chairman John Symond said.

“But our figures show that more and more of them are taking advantage of record interest rate lows and are actively seeking out the best deal.”

However, the number of first home buyers settling home loans dropped to 21.3 per cent of total loans written in June, from 32 per cent in March.

“The steam has abated in the first home buyer market as many of them realise that the properties available are probably already at full price,” Mr Symonds said.

“They are re-assessing the market.”

Aussie is one of Australia’s largest non-bank providers of financial services and has a loan book of more than $30 billion.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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Ten schools in the northern suburbs were granted over $18 million in new funding as part of the governments stimulus package.

  • Butler Primary School gets $2.95 million                                                   
  • Beldon Primary School gets $1.4 million
  • East Butler Primary School gets $1.8 million
  • Edgewater Primary School gets $2.9 million
  • Quinns Beach Primary School gets $1.55 million
  • Quinns Rocks Primary School gets $2.35 million
  • Girrawheen Senior High School gets $1.75 million
  • Mercy College gets $1.5 million
  • Warwick Senior High School gets $1.97 million
  • Yanchep District High School gets $300,000 

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The Rudd Government’s partnership with business and community leaders to Keep Australia Working has secured more than 1000 jobs in its first week, Minister for Employment Participation, Senator Mark Arbib, announced today.

Senator Arbib today joined Local Jobs Champions Bill Kelty and Lindsay Fox at the third Keep Australia Working Forum at Casula, where he announced 240 jobs in Canterbury Bankstown and South Western Sydney Employment Priority Area.

The Australian Government is providing $3.7 million from the $650 million Jobs Fund for three Western Sydney Projects.

The 240 jobs in Western Sydney bring to more than 500 the positions funded through the Jobs Fund and come on top of the 250 jobs in South Eastern Melbourne and 23 jobs in Northern Tasmania announced at jobs forums earlier this week.

The private sector is also playing a significant role in boosting employment with Lindsay Fox announcing this week he would employ an extra 450 staff over the next two years at Linfox and Woolworths announcing 60 jobs for its new logistics centre in Launceston.

“The Rudd Government is doing everything possible to keep Australians working,” Senator Arbib said. 

“This week by working together – the Government and industry – we’ve managed to create or protect more than 1000 jobs.

“Not every week will be as successful as this week in keeping people in work. There will be ups and downs, because the global recession is far from over.

“But this week has shown what can be achieved by working together.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Employment Jason Clare said community leaders, business representatives and job service providers would today join Government to develop a regional employment strategy for Canterbury Bankstown and South Western Sydney.

“The Keep Australia Working forums allow the community to maximise the benefits of the Government’s Economic Stimulus Plan and Jobs Fund and develop localised responses to the impact of the global recession.

“We want to find job opportunities for local businesses and workers, particularly in areas like Western Sydney where unemployment is a growing problem.”

Mr Clare said Local Jobs Champions, Lindsay Fox and Bill Kelty, would bring their considerable experience and wisdom to the table.

“The Local Jobs Champions will help forum participants identify local skill and labour needs and develop directions for the future,” Mr Clare said.

“It’s great to have Lindsay Fox and Bill Kelty on board. Few people understand the Australian economy better than these blokes, they’ve been through it before. They’re travelling with us around the country helping areas hit hardest by the global recession.”

Today’s forum is the third in a series being rolled out in employment priority areas across Australia as recommended in the Keep Australia Working interim report presented last week to Deputy Prime Minister Gillard by Senator Arbib and Mr Clare.

There are now 20 employment priority areas around the country:

  • Canterbury Bankstown and South Western Sydney (New South Wales)
  • Illawarra (New South Wales)
  • Richmond Tweed and Clarence Valley (New South Wales)
  • Mid North Coast (New South Wales)
  • Sydney West and Blue Mountains (New South Wales)
  • Central Coast Hunter (New South Wales)
  • South Eastern Melbourne (Victoria)
  • North Western Melbourne (Victoria)
  • Ballarat Bendigo (Central Victoria)
  • North Eastern Victoria
  • Ipswich Logan (Queensland)
  • Cairns (Queensland)
  • Townsville Thuringowa (Queensland)
  • Caboolture Sunshine Coast (Queensland)
  • Southern Wide Bay Burnett (Queensland)
  • Bundaberg Hervey Bay (Queensland)
  • Northern and Western Adelaide (South Australia)
  • Port Augusta Whyalla Port Pirie (South Australia)
  • South West Perth (Western Australia)
  • North West/Northern Tasmania.

For more information on Keep Australia Working, visit http://www.deewr.gov.au/Employment/KeepAustraliaWorking/Pages/home.aspx

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