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Local News - Victoria

Police hunt for man who spat at shop worker in Doncaster


Police are ramping up the hunt for a man who spat at a woman taking out the rubbish during a shift at a shopping centre in Doncaster last month – a man they suspect may have been involved in a similar spitting incident at another centre earlier in the year.

It is alleged a well-dressed man entered Westfield Doncaster Shopping Centre about 10.30am on Wednesday, July 22.

Police say the man allegedly approached a woman taking out rubbish during her work shift and spat in her face.

“He then left the shopping centre on foot and walked towards the bus stops on Williamsons Road,” said a Victoria police spokeswoman.



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Local News - Victoria

Childcare centres in chaos on first day of lockdown as parents rush to obtain permitted worker forms


Permitted workers can work from home and put their children in care, as long as there is no adult available to supervise the child at home. Babysitting and nannying arrangements can be maintained, but new arrangements cannot be put in place.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos tweeted out a final list of permitted industries shortly after midnight on Thursday.

CHILDCARE: WHAT IS ALLOWED

  • Only children of permitted workers, who cannot be supervised at home, and those who are vulnerable can access childcare in Melbourne for the next six weeks.
  • Permitted workers include nurses, emergency services, some retail staff, meat workers, media and construction workers. Full list here.
  • Permitted workers can only put their children in care if no other adult is present in the home who can supervise them.
  • Babysitting – paid or unpaid – is allowed for permitted workers, if it’s a continuation of an existing arrangement.
  • Grandparents are discouraged from babysitting because they are in a vulnerable category, although this is not prohibited.
  • Permitted workers can drop their child at a family member’s home for care.

Parents scrambled to organise paperwork on Wednesday evening.

At Dawson Street Childrens’ Co-operative, three other parents, all medical workers, could not produce their forms in time to get their children into the centre on Thursday morning.

“It’s just been diabolical,” Ms Lawton said.

“Three emergency services families haven’t been able to bring their children in today, because … their workplaces haven’t been able to get the letter signed.”

Ms Lawton said she was still unsure of how many families will use the not-for-profit service during lockdown and how many staff she would need.

Those staff who are not needed on site will lose income.

“We won’t be standing staff down but the intention is to pay staff half wages if they’re not on premises,” she said. “We don’t want to be doing that but as a not-for-profit organisation we don’t have any option.”

The stage four restrictions are an attempt to drive down stubbornly high numbers of new COVID-19 infections in Victoria and include extensive limits on which industries can operate.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the government was “trying to be as flexible as we possibly can”.

“But the challenge here is that if … every industry leader or every employer or every family that put to me a well-argued, impassioned, logical case, if I said yes to all of them we would have more people working today than we had under stage three,” he said.

The federal government injected an extra $33 million into the Victorian childcare sector on Wednesday, to cover the cost of lost fees as parents are forced to keep their children home.

Families in Melbourne’s lockdown areas have been given 30 more days of “allowable absences” over the next six weeks, meaning they will not have to pay to keep their children enrolled, conditional upon each centre agreeing to waive the gap fees they ordinarily charge.

Centres will receive a top-up on transitional payments they currently receive from the Commonwealth to pay staff.

The size of the top-up payments will depend on how many children are absent, with centres that have an attendance rate below 30 per cent to get top-up payments of up to 25 per cent.

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Those with an attendance rate of more than 30 per cent will get a 5 per cent top-up.

Daniela Kavoukas, policy and advocacy co-ordinator at the Community Child Care Association, said the government’s 11th-hour release of information meant services did not know how many parents would be able to send their children in the next six weeks and therefore how much financial support they would receive.

“We’ve had some centres say we’ll be OK, others have said it’ll be a nightmare,” Ms Kavoukas said. “But it is going to be a loss for a service over six weeks.”

Cardinia Lakes Early Learning Centre director Tamika Hicks said attendance numbers had already dropped dramatically.

“Today we had 107 children booked in and we’ve currently got 12 children,” she said.

“We’ve sent quite a few staff home early, some are doing program planning, we’re doing a spring clean. We’ve got no choice but to make it work,” she said.

Ms Hicks said she would not have to stand any employees down but only because staff were working together to share absences, using annual leave and taking brief periods of leave without pay.

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Local News - Victoria

Confusion reigns over permitted worker system ahead of childcare changes


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said a permit system would determine who was eligible to put their children in care.

“If you are a permitted worker … and you attest that there is no one else in your household that can look after your children, then you will be able with that very simple permit to access childcare,” Mr Andrews said.

Mr Andrews conceded many parents who ordinarily accessed care would not be able to do so in the next six weeks.

“If I were to simply green light the best part of a quarter of a million kids going to and from childcare every day … then we will not drive these [infection] numbers down,” he said.

Rules on nannies and babysitters would be clarified later on Wednesday, the premier said.

Parents who are blocked from using childcare services over the next six weeks of lockdown will be given 30 extra days of “allowable absences”, or fee-free days, to prevent a damaging mass exodus from early education.

The extra 30 days would be available to all Victorian families, not just those living in Melbourne’s stricter stage-four lockdown zones, Education Minister Dan Tehan said.

Mr Tehan said the federal government support would mean parents who were not permitted workers would not have to continue to pay gap fees to hold their place at a childcare centre. This would prevent parents withdrawing from care to save money, he said.

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“And I would say to parents, please keep your children enrolled; it won’t cost you anything to do so and it means when we come out of this pandemic those positions will be there for you at your childcare centre,” he said.

But access to the extra allowable absences will be dependent upon centres agreeing to waive their gap fees.

Childcare centres can not by law be compelled to waive gap fees. Mr Tehan said the emergency childcare rescue scheme was meant to “incentivise” centres to do so.

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To fund the extra allowable absences, childcare providers will get a 5 per cent “top-up” to payments they are currently getting as part of a $708 million transition payment scheme, brought in by the Morrison government after JobKeeper payments were cut off for childcare workers last month.

Services that experience an attendance drop of more than 70 per cent in the next six weeks will get a top-up payment of between 10 and 25 per cent on what they receive in the transition scheme.

The Morrison government said the support scheme would cost $33 million.

Mr Tehan said that on average childcare centres in Melbourne would receive between 80 and 85 per cent of their pre-pandemic revenue.

This would keep all centres viable and keep staff in a job, he said.

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Australian News

Trucking company worker arrested, charged with manslaughter


A man has been arrested and charged with manslaughter over the horrifying crash on the Eastern Freeway in Melbourne on April 22, which killed four police officers.

Detectives arrested the Simeon Tuteru, 49, in Lyndhurst at about 9:20am on Saturday.

He was charged with four counts of manslaughter, and granted bail at an out of session court hearing on Saturday night.

Mr Tuteru is the Victorian manager of Connect Logistics, the company that owned the truck involved in the crash.

Lynette Taylor, Glen Humphris, Joshua Prestney and Kevin King were killed on duty after police intercepted a Porsche, which was allegedly travelling at more than 140km/h.

All four officers were standing in the emergency lane of the freeway, deciding to impound the car, when the truck drove into them.

RELATED: Horrific truck crash leaves four police officers dead

The driver of the Porsche, 41-year-old Richard Pusey, has since been charged with nine offences, which include driving at a dangerous speed, reckless conduct endangering life, and failing to render assistance.

He allegedly verbally abused one of the officers, Senior Constable Taylor, after the crash, before fleeing the scene.

The driver of the truck, Mohinder Singh Bajwa, was charged with four counts of culpable driving causing death after a joint investigation by the Major Collision Investigative Unit and the Homicide Squad.

RELATED: Porsche driver hands himself in after ‘fleeing scene’

RELATED: Truck driver charged over Eastern Freeway crash

RELATED: Body cam footage reveals dying officer’s last moments

The trucking company, Connect Logistics, has faced intense scrutiny in the wake of the tragedy.

In May, Victoria police travelled to New South Wales and raided the company’s head office in Riverstone, seizing a number of documents, including log books.

New South Wales Police then penalised Connect Logistics for a string of safety breaches, including truck defects and the use of overworked and fatigued drivers.

Seven News Melbourne was the first to report that Mr Tuteru was the man arrested on Saturday.

Mr Singh has apologised for the officers’ deaths. He spoke via a statement released by his lawyer in early May.

“Mr Singh is genuinely sorry and saddened that four people have lose their lives as a result of the collision,” the short statement reads.

“He is acutely aware of the impact upon the families, friends and work colleagues of those that lost their lives.”

He did not apply for bail when he faced court, and is due to return for a committal mention on October 1.

Funerals have been held for all four officers. A state memorial service will take place when coronavirus measures are lifted.



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Australian News

Marsden Park distribution worker positive to COVID-19


An employee at an Ikea distribution centre in Marsden Park in Sydney’s northwest has tested positive to COVID-19.

The news was confirmed by Western Sydney Health Service’s Public Health Unit director Dr Shopna Bag in a letter sent to co-workers earlier this week.

“The staff member was infectious at work on the morning shift on the 6th, 7th and 8th of July 2020,’’ the letter stated, according to The Daily Telegraph.

It informed staff they would not have to self-isolate as they were deemed to be a “casual contact”, but that they should remain at home if they came down with flu-like symptoms such as a sore throat, fever or respiratory issues.

RELATED: Warning for diners at Sydney Thai restaurant

“We ask that you watch out for symptoms for 14 days from the last date the staff member was at work, so until July 22,’’ the letter continued.

“If you develop symptoms then we ask that you isolate yourself from the general public and please get tested.’’

An Ikea spokesperson confirmed the case to news.com.au.

We were informed that a co-worker who works in the Ikea Australia DC/CDC located in Marsden Park, tested positive for COVID-19 on 13 July 2020,” the spokesperson said.

“They last worked at the DC/CDC on Wednesday 8th July. The source of their infection was not an Ikea unit. The unit was not instructed to close, however conducted a proactive and voluntary deep clean of the unit.

“The co-worker is in our thoughts and we hope for a swift recovery.

“Ikea Australia has been in constant contact with the NSW Department of Health and have taken their advice in response to the situation. The NSW Department of Health has advised that co-workers within the Ikea Distribution Centre, located in Marsden Park are not required to self-isolate.”

It comes as three COVID-19 cases were linked to a Thai restaurant in western Sydney, sparking an urgent warning from health authorities.

Anyone who visited Thai Rock restaurant in Stockland Mall Wetherill Park on July 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14 has been told to immediately be tested and self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of symptoms.

“Anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms should also be retested, even if they have had a negative result previously. Everyone must stay in isolation for a full 14 days even if their test is negative,” NSW Health said in a statement.

“The change in advice is due to the identification of a third case linked to the restaurant, a customer who dined at Thai Rock on 10 July.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been forced to impose tough new restrictions, with wedding guest lists again slashed and “all indoor hospitality venues” limited to bookings of no more than 10 per group.

Meanwhile, Victoria is also in the grip of a second lockdown as cases in the state soar.

So far, Australia has recorded a total of 11,045 cases of COVID-19, with 5165 in Victoria, 3346 in New South Wales, 1071 in Queensland, 444 in South Australia, 648 in Western Australia, 228 in Tasmania, 113 in the Australian Capital Territory and 30 in the Northern Territory.



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Local News - Victoria

Second Flinders Street station worker tests positive, 13 staff isolate


Thirteen Metro Trains staff have been sent home to self-isolate after coming into contact with a Flinders Street employee who tested positive for coronavirus.

In an internal email seen by The Age, Metro Trains Chief Operating Officer Catherine Baxter told staff that an investigation they conducted identified 13 people who had come into close contact with the individual.

Thirteen Metro staff have been sent home to self-isolate after coming into contact with a Flinders Street staff member who tested positive for coronavirus.

Thirteen Metro staff have been sent home to self-isolate after coming into contact with a Flinders Street staff member who tested positive for coronavirus.Credit:Eddie Jim

“Through our investigation it was established there were 13 employees from the Station team who had come into contact with the unwell employee,” he email said.

“Most of these were for a short period of time and therefore the risk of transmission would be low. These employees have been notified with instructions to self-isolation and seek a COVID-19 test.”



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Australian News

McDonald’s worker tests positive at Mill Park


A McDonald’s worker in Melbourne has tested positive for COVID-19.

The employee is linked to a small number of cases identified at a high school about five kilometres away.

“McDonald’s Australia has been advised one of the confirmed cases at St Monica’s College in Epping is an employee at its Mill Park restaurant,” a spokeswoman told news.com.au on Friday.

“The individual is currently self-isolating at home and all potential workplace close contacts have been instructed not to return to work for 14 days.

“The health and safety of our people and our customers is our priority. We immediately commenced notifying all employees upon receiving notification of the diagnosis from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

“The restaurant has closed for a deep clean by an external contractor, and should reopen later this morning.”

RELATED: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

Workers at the Mill Park fast food restaurant, in the city’s north, were informed via an email on Friday morning, according to Seven.

The news follows a coronavirus cluster revealed in May at McDonald’s in Fawkner with dozens of staff tested.

Twelve McDonald’s restaurants also closed for a deep clean last month after a truck driver who made deliveries at each of them tested positive.

McDonald’s said the asymptomatic driver worked for “an external service provider” and interacted with a small number of employees at each drop off.

There was an “immediate closure” of St Monica’s College on June 21 after the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19.

In an update to parents and students on Thursday, Principal Brian E. Hanley said it had been “sudden and devastating”.

“We had no choice and access was prohibited for all staff, students and parents,” he said.

“Deep cleaning of both campuses commenced on Sunday, 21 June and has continued all this week.”

He said the “good news” was that the college would reopen on Monday, June 29 from midday for students.

“The DHHS has provided direct and specific advice to any individuals who came into close contact with the two staff members who tested positive about self-isolating and looking after themselves,” the school principal said.

“The two staff members are in a stable condition.

“Any other numbers attached to St Monica’s College by authorities or the media were not staff members. These people, however, were in close social contact with them and tested positive to the virus.

“All other members of the school community who have not been contacted by DHHS have not been identified as close contacts and therefore are able to undertake normal activities unless otherwise advised by DHHS.”

THOUSANDS TESTED IN SUBURBAN BLITZ

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday announced 33 new cases of COVID-19.

“We will see these numbers go up in coming days,” he said.

“That will be a measure of the work that we’re doing, a measure of the success of this strategy.

“Now, we might all be very pleasantly surprised – test literally entire suburbs and not get many positive cases. That would be a great problem to have. But I am indicating to you, I think that we will see more cases.”

Mr Andrews said there would be a coronavirus “testing blitz” in 10 suburbs of Melbourne.

His government wants to test 100,000 people in Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Albanvale, Maidstone, Sunshine West, Brunswick West, Hallam, Fawkner, Reservoir and Pakenham.

“There will literally be hundreds and hundreds – indeed, the entire team is a thousand-strong – doorknockers out there, talking to the community, inviting them to come and get a free test, whether they be symptomatic or asymptomatic,” Mr Andrews said.

“That will be done in lots of new ways. For instance, we have ambulances and other vans that will literally be at the end of people’s streets.

“So, they will be invited to come and get a test, and they’ll only have to travel 50m or 100m in order to complete that test.”

He said case numbers will inevitably grow as a result of the escalation in testing efforts.

As of yesterday, there had been 1917 cases of COVID-19 in Victoria with 1732 recoveries.



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Local News - Victoria

Balance needed on new gig worker laws


Next time you get take-away delivered to your home, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the person who delivered the food. While the task of getting the meal to your door is relatively simple, the manner in which that person is employed has become one of the most contentious and complex debates in workplace relations in Australia and many other nations.

The Victorian government is about to wade into that debate. This week it released the largest ever survey of gig economy workers in Australia. The 18-month study found nearly 14 per cent of working-age Victorians have carried out on-demand work. Mostly young, urban and male, they are often living with a disability or are temporary residents. Many speak a language other than English at home. Working for digital platforms such as Airtasker and Uber, they are mostly classified as independent contractors and do not have access to the same protections as employees, including unfair-dismissal provisions, sick leave and the minimum wage.

The gig economy is bigger than you may think.

The gig economy is bigger than you may think.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

The survey revealed genuine concerns. More than 30 per cent of respondents did not know if their platform had a dispute resolution process, while nearly half reported they were not provided with work-related insurance. On the flip side, nearly half of gig workers do less than five hours a week, suggesting it is a second job for many, and more than half saw their earnings as “nice to have” but something they could live without. Only 15 per cent said the money was essential for their basic needs.

The use of contractors has been a legitimate practice for decades, often in the case of a company temporarily employing an expert to perform a specific task. But some companies have in recent years taken advantage of contract laws to employ large numbers of workers to do menial tasks and treated them as an inferior grade of worker. In Australia, attempts to give these workers better conditions and rights have had mixed success.



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Local News - Victoria

Hotel worker among new Victoria coronavirus cases


The cause of the employee’s infection is under investigation and their close contacts have been told to self isolate.

The hotel is also undertaking a deep clean though its owners did not wish to provide any comment on the incident.

Victoria’s total recorded cases now stands at 1618, with only 60 still active.

Cedar Meats at Brooklyn in Melbourne’s west has confirmed it will resume full operations after being closed for weeks. It was the centre of a virus cluster that ballooned to include 111 workers and their close contacts.

A Cedar Meats employee returns to work yesterday and is temperature-tested on the way into the facility.

A Cedar Meats employee returns to work yesterday and is temperature-tested on the way into the facility. Credit:Joe Armao

About 300 staff who have been cleared by the health department will get back to work in the next few days.

The business reopened its cold-storage facility on May 18.

“We have done everything possible to provide a safe work environment for our staff,” general manager Tony Kairouz said.

“The safety and wellbeing of all people will always be our number one priority and inherent in that is a happy place to work and a thriving business that provides security of income to our people and their families.”

Two of Victoria’s latest COVID-19 cases were diagnosed at Lynden Aged Care home in Camberwell, bringing the total cases linked to the facility to three.

Staff and residents at the nursing home are having more testing for COVID-19.

The centre has been in lockdown since May 19.

The newest cases include one returned traveller in hotel quarantine and four people picked up during routine testing.

Victoria has 183 cases with an unknown source of infection while eight people are in hospital, with four in intensive care.

So far, 1539 people have recovered in Victoria and 19 have died, while more than 200,000 tests have been carried out since May 11.

The state’s royal commission into mental health will also examine the psychological toll of the virus. It has been granted an extra three months to complete a final report, which is now due in February.

The commission’s work was hit with delays during the pandemic with public hearings and community meetings cancelled.

“We have already seen its profound impact on our collective mental health and wellbeing,” commission chair Penny Armytage said.

The royal commission was a state election promise and the government has said it will enact all recommendations.

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Business

Separating the worker from the job essential in times of job loss


Another is that, for most of us, work is the major organising factor of our time after the diurnal cycle. The reality is most of us need to work to survive, and thus it takes priority in the allocation of our time. Work can shape our attitudes and emotions by making us more or less empathetic, more or less skilled or healthy, potentially wealthy, or emotionally vulnerable. Its impact can be as great as that of our parents and families, or even faith traditions.

Work often changes our language and in doing so influences our thinking and perceptions. We learn the jargon that separates us from other workers but binds us to the common cause of our toil.

Saggermakers had their bottom knockers; lawyers have their interlocutories and their torts; and pastry chefs have their tortes.

Redundancy can make us question our identity.

Redundancy can make us question our identity.Credit:Kerrie Leishman

Work holds us in communities. Losing a job can mean losing teammates and comrades. It can be exclusion from coteries and the in-crowd. Our job titles have social currency. We tend to approach differently people who are politicians and those employed as nurses. Collectively, for reasons unfathomable, we give more weight to the opinions of “celebrities” than better-informed people who exist outside of the limelight.

Loss of a job means far more than the loss of income, and that loss, of course, can be catastrophic in its own right. However, recognising that we are all more than the sum of our work is important for our well-being. There are other important relations that exist, or can and should be nurtured, such as relationships: friends, families and communities.

It is no surprise that those who are held by the strongest social relationships tend to do better in times of adversity. Recognising, building and maintaining those relationships can help rebuild the confidence and assuage the anxiety and threat to identity that can be the result of job loss.

Jim Bright, FAPS is Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU and owns Bright and Associates, a Career Management Consultancy. Email to opinion@jimbright.com. Follow him on Twitter @DrJimBright.



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