One in four drink too much alcohol

THE Alcohol and Drug Foundation has responded to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey data, revealing that over one in four Australian adults (26.8%) exceeded alcohol guidelines monthly in 2022. Young adults (33.7%) surpassed single-occasion guidelines, while older age groups exceeded lifetime risk guidelines (24.6% in 55-64 age group). Males exceeded guidelines more than females (35.8% vs. 18.1%). Those in remote/ regional areas surpassed guidelines more than major cities residents (30.9% vs. 25.6%). CEO Dr Erin Lalor emphasizes the need for robust education and targeted campaigns on risky drinking, especially for at-risk groups like men, youth, and regional residents.

SNew regulations for waste workers

THE NSW Government has enhanced employment protections for waste management workers by amending the Local Government (General) Regulation 2021. The changes mandate that tenderers for waste management contracts must offer employment to existing staff on terms at least equivalent to their current employment, preventing pay cuts and loss of entitlements. The amendments aim to address instances where workers faced such issues during changes in waste management contracts. The Office of Local Government will assist councils in complying with the new regulations during upcoming waste management tenders.

Education union challenges statements

THE Independent Education Union (IEU) challenges statements from Catholic and independent school employers suggesting that teacher and staff salary increases are the sole reason for school fee hikes. The IEU contends that fees rise due to multiple factors like government funding changes, building costs, maintenance, insurance, and inflation. The union argues that teacher salaries, stagnant for over a decade, are affordable for employers, and it criticises blaming staff for fee increases without recognizing broader cost elements. IEU emphasises the crucial role of teachers and warns against undermining the parent-teacher relationship.

Users urged to adjust energy spend

BUSINESSS, households, and NSW Government agencies are urged to limit non-essential electricity usage during the afternoon and evening due to anticipated high temperatures. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) expects increased demand, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees in parts of NSW. AEMO activated measures to ensure reliable power supply, but reserves may be strained. The NSW Government is implementing the Energy Action Response protocol, reducing agency electricity use. Citizens are encouraged to lower energy consumption between 5pm and 9pm. Simple steps include adjusting air conditioning, minimizing appliance use, and, if safe, temporarily turning off pool pumps.

Engineered stone will be banned

NSW will prohibit the use, supply, and manufacture of engineered stone from July 1, 2024, aligning with other states. The decision, based on Safe Work Australia’s findings of no safe silica level in engineered stone, addresses rising silicosis rates among workers. SafeWork NSW will enforce compliance, conducting site visits and penalizing non-compliant operators. Earlier, NSW increased penalties for silica dust exposure. The decision aligns with a national commitment to strengthen regulations, with details to be finalized in March 2024. The NSW Government also welcomes the Commonwealth’s commitment to an eventual import ban on engineered stone.

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