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Darling Downs

In this edition:

Message from the Premier

It’s hard to believe the year is almost over and summer is just around the corner.

This year the government’s focus has been on improving frontline services and growing the economy. We have seen vast improvements across a range of areas, most significantly in health.

Our elective surgery waiting lists are now the best in the country. In our emergency departments, we now have 78 per cent of patients being treated within four hours, compared to 63 per cent just two years ago. About 15 months ago, there were about 62,500 people on the public dental long waiting list. Today there is zero.

Since we came to government, we’ve seen more than 81,000 jobs created in Queensland, more than double the next-best performing state. But there is still more work to be done and we have a strong plan to supercharge the state’s economy.

I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year. If you are travelling around the state over the holidays, please take care on the roads.

Until next year.

Campbell Newman
Queensland Premier

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Delivering outcomes

A wide-ranging program of reform across the Queensland public sector is transforming the way government services are delivered to Queenslanders.

With a focus on finding better ways to deliver better services, the Public Sector Renewal program puts customers first.

Through innovative thinking, improved processes and collaboration, the program is delivering real outcomes for Queenslanders from all walks of life.

From shorter waits for urgent surgery, to more trains running on time, everyday life improvements are being achieved. The growing list of renewal program results include:

  • revitalised frontline health services—elective surgery long wait lists are down by 92 per cent
  • reduced crime—break-ins are down 19 per cent
  • improved public transport reliability—96 per cent of rail network services now run on time
  • expanded range of online services—146 new online services are now available to make it easier and quicker to deal with government.

Across all corners of the state the government is working to deliver smarter, simpler outcomes that are responsive to the needs of Queenslanders.

Find out more about the Public Sector Renewal program.

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A flying start

In 2015, Year 7 will become the first year of high school in Queensland. Moving Year 7 to high school is the centrepiece of the Flying Start education system reforms being implemented by the Queensland Government.

Along with the successful introduction of Prep as the first year of schooling in 2007, and raising of the school starting age by six months in 2008, this landmark change brings Queensland schools in line with the rest of the country (excluding South Australia). It also means Queensland Year 7 students will have access to specialist resources and teachers, which will allow them to take full advantage of the Australian curriculum.

To help prepare schools for the transition, the government has invested up to $328 million towards new and upgraded facilities in state secondary schools along with an additional $110 million allocation to the Catholic and independent school sectors.

Naturally, the move from primary school to high school is an important and exciting time for young adolescents. To help students and families prepare for the move and get ready for high school life, the Queensland Government has developed a range of practical tools and resources including study tips, a video series on high school and factsheets.

Access the resources designed to assist students and families prepare for high school life.

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A sporting chance for good sports

The Queensland Government has kicked another goal for community sporting groups with a three-year funding boost for the Good Sports program.

The program supports community sporting clubs across Queensland to foster a safe and healthy culture of responsible drinking and positive change among club members—so that enjoying a drink while celebrating wins or commiserating losses can be done in a safe and responsible environment.

An initiative of the Australian Drug Foundation, there are currently more than 800 sporting clubs throughout the state participating in the program.

Find out more about the Good Sports program.

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Prohibited pets

As the festive season draws closer, a pet may seem like a great gift idea. Pet ownership is, however, a big responsibility. Before purchasing a pet, it’s important to consider whether the animal’s basic needs such as food, shelter, veterinary care and attention can be provided for. It’s also important to know if the potential pet has specific needs requiring special attention.

Before making a purchase you will also want to make sure that it’s permissible to keep the animal as a pet in Queensland.

The importation and keeping of some animals as pets is prohibited by legislation and there are fines for those who breach the law. Animals currently listed as prohibited pets include boa constrictors, hamsters, monkeys and rabbits.

Find out more about prohibited pets.

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Calling all Year 12 graduates

Just finished high school and want to get a head start on your career? As a Year 12 graduate you can access fee-free training to gain a Certificate III qualification in a range of areas. The Queensland Government will pay your student fees if you enrol in an eligible course within one year of finishing Year 12.

There’s a wide range of courses available to help you kick-start a career in some of Queensland’s biggest and growing industries. Training must be undertaken through a government-approved training provider.

If you want to do an apprenticeship or traineeship your training might also be fee‑free, with around 150 apprenticeship and traineeship qualifications eligible for funding.

Find out more about fee-free training for Year 12 graduates.

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Summer sun safety

With high humidity and hot temperatures, summertime in Queensland is often a scorcher. Be sun safe and take steps to keep cool and prevent heat-related illnesses:

  • wear sun-protective clothing with long sleeves and a collar
  • wear a broadbrim or bucket-style hat that covers your face, neck and ears
  • use an SPF30 or higher sunscreen and reapply it every two hours
  • wear close-fitting sunglasses
  • stay in the shade where possible
  • stay hydrated by regularly drinking cool water.

Babies and children under four years of age, older people, people who are overweight, people who exercise rigorously or work in hot environments, or people with chronic illnesses are especially at risk during heat wave conditions.

Find out more about heat and sun safety.

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Open data for all

The Queensland Government collects, generates and uses masses of data. Through the Open Data initiative the government is making this data freely available for public use.

To date, more than 1500 data sets have been made publicly available online. Information released covers a vast range of topics, spanning everything from housing data to crime statistics.

Globally, the release of data by governments is known to drive innovation, growth and job creation. Here in Queensland, the Open Data initiative has already been the catalyst for the development of new digital services like the app that alerts drivers when they enter a school zone. Case studies of projects showcasing how open data can be used to build better businesses and deliver real-life solutions for Queenslanders have been developed.

Access the open data case studies.

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Vaccination facts matter

Immunisation is one of the modern world’s most significant medical achievements, saving around three million lives globally each year.

Despite the fact that more than one million children have been vaccinated in Queensland over the last 20 years, some parents continue to have questions and concerns about potential side effects. Decisions about vaccination should be based on scientific fact.

And your best source of information and advice about immunisation is your doctor or vaccine service provider. So if you have questions, talk to your doctor today.

Find out more about vaccination.

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Animals in an emergency

Just as we need to prepare our family and home for the extreme weather events that summer can bring, we also need to think about our four-legged and feathered friends. After human safety, the welfare of your animals is the most important consideration in the event of a natural disaster.

Forward planning will help improve the safety and wellbeing of animals and family pets and ensure their needs are factored into household emergency plans. Remember that animals get jittery before a storm and can be easily upset and spooked. By acting early and preparing a pet emergency plan you can avoid unnecessary danger and anxiety to you and your animal.

Find out more about preparing a pet emergency plan.
Find out more about animal welfare in a natural disaster.

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If it’s flooded, forget it

Image © Shutterstock

Summer in Queensland often means rain, cyclones and unstable weather conditions. And in many parts of the state big weather events lead to flooded waterways. Every year people are hurt or killed, trying to cross or play in flooded waterways. It can happen anywhere—roads, creeks, dams, parks or backyards.

Floodwater hides all sorts of dangers. Sadly, many people who drown or need rescuing have either deliberately driven into floodwater or taken their vehicle into a potentially dangerous situation. When things go wrong, rescuers are required to put their lives at risk to save others.

So the message is simple—if it’s flooded, forget it. Be aware of the dangers connected to floodwater and swift flowing water.

Stay clear of flooded causeways and storm water run-off areas. Keep your kids away from urban storm drains, pipes and grills and remind them that flooded dams and weirs are dangerous places to play, especially around outlets or spillways.

Never enter floodwaters and discourage others from doing so. If you’re on holiday, or heading out for a day trip, plan ahead so you’re not caught out by extreme weather. Take note of warning signs that tell of local dangers and plan your travel so you don’t become stranded.

Find out more about flood and swift water safety.

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Cheaper fares for all Queenslanders

Queenslanders are enjoying cheaper access to public transport, following a historic move to reduce public transport fares.

The move—which follows a community consultation period where more than 20,000 Queenslanders had their say on the future of our public transport system and more than 70 per cent voted for a reduction in prices—has resulted in a recent 5 per cent drop in fares.

There will be no fare increase in January 2015, which means Queenslanders will continue to save while catching bus, train, ferry or tram services.

Find out more about TransLink tickets and fares.

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One-Stop Shop partners with Australia Post

As part of the One-Stop Shop initiative, the Queensland Government has partnered with Australia Post to help Queenslanders streamline the task of notifying multiple government agencies of an address change.

Through Australia Post’s online mail redirection service, residents can now notify a range of Queensland Government agencies of a change in postal address and update address details on key items such as your driver licence and vehicle registration.

This new feature is part of the successful Tell Us Once pilot program, in which 1000 change of address registrations were processed within the program’s first six weeks of operation.

Find out more about the One-Stop Shop initiative.
Find out more about Australia Post’s mail redirection service.

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Drive safe these holidays

With Christmas and New Year nearly here, it’s that time of year when many families pack up and hit the road for a holiday. If you’re planning on driving long distances, it’s important to plan your safe driving journey before you start. Whether you’re travelling 200 or 2000 kilometres, you need to factor in driver reviver stops along the way.

Breaks should be scheduled for at least every two hours. To assist with planning your breaks, the Queensland Government has created a GPS-based listing of driver reviver sites operating specifically during the school holidays and public holidays.

Offering free tea, coffee and snacks for all travellers, along with picnic tables, toilets, tourist and route information, driver reviver sites are easily identifiable. Simply keep an eye out for a blue guide sign with a white coffee cup design.

Find out more about driver reviver sites.

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New penalties for anti-social behaviour

In recent years there has been a disturbing upward trend in violence against public officers—most notably, police and health staff who work on the community frontline, protecting and assisting those in need.

In the past five years there have been more than 23,700 reported incidents of violence towards Queensland Health workers and more than 700 deliberate physical attacks on Queensland Ambulance Service staff.

To help ensure the safety of police and health workers, including nurses, doctors and ambulance officers, the Queensland Government has introduced harsher penalties for violence against public officers.

Developed as part of the broader Safe Night Out Strategy to stamp out alcohol and drug‑related violence, the new penalties introduce a tough new maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment for particular violent assaults against a public officer. Incidences of violence against public officers that will be considered for the new penalties are:

  • biting, spitting
  • throwing bodily fluids and/or faeces
  • serious bodily harm
  • carrying a weapon or pretending to carry a weapon.

Find out more about the Safe Night Out Strategy.

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Strong Choices for Queensland’s future

In April this year, the government launched the Strong Choices campaign, seeking Queenslanders’ views on how to fix our state’s unprecedented $80 billion debt. The cost of servicing that debt is now $4 billion in interest every year, or $450,000 an hour, that could otherwise be spent building roads, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure for our state’s growing needs.

Through the feedback, Queenslanders made it clear they want the state’s finances fixed. But a majority are against increasing taxes or cutting services to pay down the debt. And most Queenslanders also feel strongly about retaining ownership of assets.

The government has listened to the feedback and acted, cancelling all previously proposed asset sales. Under the recently released Strong Choices Final Plan, the government will offer some assets for lease only. Those leasing arrangements will generate about $37 billion in proceeds, with $25 billion earmarked to reduce debt to a manageable level of $55 billion, as recommended by the Independent Queensland Commission of Audit.

Find out more about the Strong Choices Final Plan.

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Cool shorts:

Calling all performing arts students!

Do you have what it takes to shine on stage as a singing, dancing or musical act? Nominations for Creative Generation—State Schools Onstage (CGEN) 2015 are now open. As a statewide performing arts event managed by the Queensland Government, CGEN is Queensland’s largest youth performing arts event.

Find out more about CGEN 2015.

Australia Day celebrations

Photograph: Photography by Dominika

When it comes to our great nation, there’s a lot to celebrate—and with Australia Day 2015 around the corner it’s a good time to plan ahead and get in on the action! With a range of events and activities happening around the state, there’s plenty to suit everyone.

Find out more about Australia Day events and activities happening near you.

New app for anglers

Photograph: Tourism and Events Queensland

Hitting the water this holiday season for a spot of recreational fishing? Avid anglers can now access an app that provides instant, easy access to Queensland’s fishing rules and regulations. The Queensland Recreational Fishing app is a great source of up-to-date information on everything from size and possession limits, to tide and weather information.

Find out more about Queensland’s fishing rules and regulations.

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Safety lights for schools

The Queensland Government is boosting safety around schools, thanks to its $10 million flashing school lights program. Over the past two years the program has delivered flashing school lights—which are designed to gain the attention of motorists during school zone times—to 195 schools across the state (as at 14 October 2014). An additional 151 schools—including 12 in the Toowoomba and Southern Downs local government areas—are now set to receive the lights by June 2015.

Schools in the region were selected according to community feedback and a detailed risk analysis of factors such as crash records, higher speed limits, visibility issues and a high level of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. With the new school year ahead, it’s important to remember to slow down in all school zones.

Find out more about school road safety.

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Queensland’s top training winners

The Queensland Training Awards officially recognise those individuals and organisations who demonstrate innovation, success and best practice in Queensland’s vocational education and training sector. Congratulations go to all award winners including Gemma Hartwig from Dalby who took out the title of School-based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year. Gemma recently transitioned from a school-based apprenticeship to a full-time diesel fitting apprenticeship with Ostwald Bros in Dalby. She’s also completing a Certificate III in Mechanical Engineering at TAFE Queensland South West. We asked Gemma to share some of her insights on the vocational learning experience.

What’s it like being named the 2014 School-based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year?

It’s completely overwhelming! It took a long time for it all to sink in but I’m so honoured.

What motivated you to study in this field?

I love studying something I love and have a passion for. What motivates me is the fact that I’m going to gain more knowledge to assist with the career I’m pursuing.

What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?

I’d have to say working on a machine from start to finish. I love how something can be falling apart and broken but once a team has worked on it, it’s better than brand new.

What advice do you have for anyone considering an apprenticeship or trainee program?

Definitely take it on! But make sure you are committed to the job and the career you are pursuing is suited to you. Undertaking a school-based apprenticeship has been a life changing decision for me and I don’t regret it one bit.

Find out more about the 2014 Queensland Training Award winners.

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Toowoomba Second Range Crossing reaches milestone

As one of the state’s high priority infrastructure projects, the development of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing has reached a milestone, with the Australian and Queensland governments recently announcing a shortlist of possible proponents. Following a strong industry response to the expression of interest, Nexus, RangeConnect and RangeLink have been invited to submit detailed project proposals for evaluation.

The final contract for the design, construction, operation, maintenance and finance of the project will be announced by mid-2015, with construction to begin shortly thereafter. Construction is expected to be completed within three years and will open to the public by mid to late-2018. Once the crossing is fully operational, it will improve driver safety, reduce the number of trucks in Toowoomba’s central business district, relieve congestion and support regional growth.

Find out more about the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing.

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New Chinchilla community centre

Work is now underway on a new $3.6 million one-stop shop community centre for Chinchilla.

Designed to house a range of services under the one roof, the centre will be the community’s new hub for accessing personal development services, employment services, Centrelink services and disability support.

Providing families in the region with direct access to assistance, the centre is a joint initiative between the Queensland Government and QGC. Located in Middle Street, the centre is scheduled to be up and running in early 2015.

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Last updated
24 November, 2014

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