MIL-OSI Australia: Light rail vehicles to start testing on Northbourne Avenue

Source: Australian Capital Territory – State Government

Released 22/01/2019

Light rail vehicle testing will begin along Northbourne Avenue and the Federal Highway today as construction nears completion on Canberra’s biggest infrastructure project.  

All elements of the light rail infrastructure and system are being tested, including the light rail vehicles (LRVs), the track, signaling and passenger information systems.

“This is another huge milestone in the light rail project, and I’m sure many people will be excited to see LRVs starting to be tested closer to the city,” said Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris.

“The testing of LRVs along Northbourne Avenue and Federal Highway will give many more people the opportunity to see and experience LRVs travelling along the light rail track.  

“Whilst this is an exciting time, it is important for everyone in the community to stay safe around light rail. Please cross the tracks only at intersections and designated crossings, look both ways before you cross the tracks and stay alert when walking and cycling around the light rail corridor – light rail vehicles are quiet and take longer to stop than other vehicles.

“When driving near the light rail, do not queue across intersections and wait for the path ahead to be clear before you drive across the tracks. Traffic light patterns at intersections are changing as the light rail integrates with the road network.

“I’d really encourage people to stay alert and pay close attention to traffic light signals, and not to risk it by running red lights.”

What to expect during testing:

  • Testing of LRVs along Northbourne Avenue and Federal Highway will mostly take place between the hours of 5:00am and 9:00pm. Some limited LRV testing may take place between the hours of 9.00pm and 5.00am.
  • Multiple LRVs may be operating in both directions.
  • LRVs must wait until they have a white ‘go’ T-light signal before proceeding through intersections.
  • Noise impacts will generally be low and limited to the ‘hum’ of the electric LRV plus the sound of the bell as LRVs pull into and leave stops. LRVs may also sound their horns if required.
  • Testing along Northbourne Ave will start with the LRVs operating at low speed. Over time, testing speeds will increase until they achieve ‘line’ speed, which is the speed they will travel when the service is operating with passengers.

Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) and Canberra Metro are working hard to deliver Canberra’s light rail. We appreciate the continued patience of the public and the support of the Canberra community during this time.

– Statement ends –

Section: Meegan Fitzharris, MLA | Media Releases

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MIL-OSI Australia: Delivering support where it is needed most

Source: Government of Australia Capital Territory

Released 22/01/2019

Joint media release:

  • Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Yvette Berry (Media contact officer Megan Cursley)
  • Minister for Disability, Minister for Children, Youth and Families, Rachel Stephen-Smith (Media contact officer Caitlin Cook)
  • Minister for Seniors and Veterans, Gordon Ramsay (Media contact officer Anton Gallacher)

Today’s release of data from the Productivity Commission’s 2019 Report on Government Services shows the ACT is successfully targeting public and community housing to people in greatest need; prioritising connection to kin, community and culture for children in care; and recording high levels of satisfaction with the NDIS.

“We know Canberrans care about people in our community who are going through a tough time or living with daily challenges, which is why we are committed to delivering efficient support when Canberrans need it,” said Chief Minister and Minister for Social Inclusion, Andrew Barr.

“An inclusive city is one where everyone has a safe and suitable place to live, including those living with disability, in aged care or in the youth justice system. We’re proud of the work we’re doing to deliver these services to our community.”

Housing

“The ACT has the strongest result nationally in providing housing assistance for the people who need it most. This includes people experiencing homelessness and domestic violence, as well as people in unhealthy living situations, and those experiencing housing stress in the private market,” said Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Yvette Berry.

Of the 524 new allocations to public housing in the ACT in 2017-18, 99.4 per cent were households in greatest need, compared to 76.3 per cent nationally.

The latest national tenant survey shows our tenants have high satisfaction rates, with a noticeable improvement in reports about the condition of their homes.

“The ACT Government is also delivering benefits through the renewal program to improve better energy efficiency, water efficiency and thermal comfort as well as helping tenants feel safer in their neighbourhood,” Minister Berry said.

  • The proportion of new public housing allocations to households with special needs in the ACT was 63.2 per cent, higher than the national average of 60.7 per cent.
  • Of the 10,621 households in public housing at 30 June 2018, 98.7 per cent were low income households.
  • The ACT had the lowest over-crowding rate for community housing at 1.3 per cent, compared to 4.3 per cent nationally at 30 June 2018.

Homelessness

“The ACT Government’s early intervention and prevention approach to homelessness is also doing well, offering the right support early on to some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” Minister Berry said.

“The ACT is bucking a national trend with homelessness reducing in our community, even as our population grows,” Minister Berry said.

In 2018, an analysis of 2016 Census figures showed homelessness around Australia rose by 13 per cent since the previous Census, while in the ACT it fell by 8 per cent. That’s despite the Territory’s total population growing by as much as 11 per cent.

“The ACT is also leading the nation in employment and training outcomes for people accessing homelessness support services, with the highest proportion of clients, who wanted to participate, achieving this goal.

“The 2018-19 Budget allocated $6.5 million to also address gaps in the homelessness service system, including for the development of programs to support older women and migrant families who are homeless or at risk,” Minister Berry said.

“The ACT Housing Strategy demonstrates the government’s ongoing commitment to intervene early and reduce the intergenerational impacts of homelessness, address gaps, improve pathways out of homelessness and stop the cycles of poverty.”

Child protection

“Placement stability is a key focus of the ACT’S five year strategy, A Step Up for Our Kids – One Step Can Make a Lifetime of Difference (A Step Up) and has improved significantly since the strategy was introduced,” said Minister for Children, Youth and Families, Rachel Stephen-Smith.

“94.6 per cent of children exiting out of home care within 12 months were doing so after only one or two placements in 2017-18, significantly higher than the 2015-16 proportion of 76.7 per cent.”

Connection to kin, community and culture continues to be a priority within A Step Up, and the ACT has a long term trend, since 2011-12, of increasing the proportion of children in care who are placed with relatives or kin, rather than in foster or residential care.

“For the third year in a row, the ACT has Australia’s second-highest rate of placements with relatives of kin – 56.5 per cent in 2017-18 and 60.8 per cent among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children,” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

Youth justice services

“The ACT Government has made significant progress in youth justice through the Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22, to ensure we have a system that focuses on rehabilitation and providing opportunities for young people,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

“The ACT had the lowest proportion of young people returning to sentenced youth justice supervision, at 13.3 per cent compared with 51.3 per cent nationally.

“The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in detention decreased by 50 per cent between 2011–12 and 2017−18, and the number supervised in the community fell by 34 per cent.”

There remains an over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the youth justice system, which is why it’s a priority for the Blueprint for Youth Justice Taskforce.

“Over the next phase of the Blueprint, we will continue to prioritise early intervention and diversion, and draw on evidence about what works, including from the experience of other states and territories,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

Services for people with disability

“The ACT was proud to be the first jurisdiction to sign up to the NDIS and to transition all eligible residents into the Scheme,” said Minister for Disability, Rachel Stephen-Smith.

The number of ACT participants with approved plans has increased to 6,141 as at 30 June 2018.

“The NDIS has been life changing for many people. However, we know that there is more to do to make the NDIS everything it should be.”

The 2018-19 ACT Budget allocated $1.1 million to establish an Integrated Service Response program to improve coordination between NDIS and mainstream services and provide emergency funding for people with disability with high and complex support needs not met by the NDIS.

“The ACT Government continues to work closely with the National Disability Insurance Agency and the Commonwealth to ensure Canberrans with a disability get the best possible outcome from this once in a generation reform,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

The number Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing NDA open employment services in the ACT is increasing, from 4.7 per cent in 2015-16 to 6.5 per cent in 2016-17.

Aged care

“Supportive and well-funded aged care facilities are incredibly important to the ACT community, which is not only increasing in size, but also getting older,” said Minister for Seniors and Veterans, Gordon Ramsay.

“These conditions coupled with inadequate funding arrangements from the Commonwealth has seen some ACT residents requiring high levels of care having to wait in excess of 12 months for the services they need.

“With facilities opening new beds and movement of patients to these beds, we anticipate a slight improvement in wait times for entry into ACT aged care services in 2018-19, however the ACT Government believes Commonwealth funding for these services can and should be increased.

“On a positive note, for older people transitioning home after a hospital stay, the ACT recorded the nation’s highest average measures of functioning in daily living, at both the entry and exit to a Transition Care Programme in 2017-18.”

– Statement ends –

Section: Yvette Berry, MLA | Rachel Stephen-Smith, MLA | Media Releases

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MIL-OSI Australia: New hope for vulnerable lizards

Source: Government of Australia Capital Territory

Released 21/01/2019

The future is looking brighter for a new community of threatened Striped Legless Lizards at Kama Nature Reserve following the sighting of a healthy translocated lizard.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage Mick Gentlemen said that while establishing new populations of a species was notoriously difficult, it was worthwhile to try to secure the future of threatened species such as the Striped Legless lizard.

“We have a responsibility to help this species colonise suitable habitat to make its future more certain and stable,” Minister Gentleman said.

“The Government is committed to protecting our threatened species and our 37 reserves within Canberra Nature Park are essential to this task. Kama Nature Reserve plays an important role in the conservation of the natural grassy ecosystem favoured by the Striped Legless Lizard.

“There are only half a dozen healthy populations remaining in the ACT. With more than 95 per cent of their grassland habitat lost over the last 200 years, Striped Legless Lizards were declared ‘vulnerable’ in the ACT in 1996 and have special protection status.

“Translocations can help secure a species future, in addition to our efforts to protect animals where they currently live.”

Striped Legless Lizard females only produce one or two eggs a year, presenting a challenge conservation efforts. The lizards do not leave their patch of 100-200 square metres often, which prevents them from moving on when their habitat is threatened.

Ecologist Emma Carlson found a healthy male last week and was very excited to match the unique pattern of head scales with a photo of one of the translocated lizards.

“These little lizards don’t like change, so when the Parks and Conservation Service rescued some two years ago and took them to Kama Nature Reserve, we weren’t sure what would happen,” Ms Carlson said.

“We are thrilled that he both survived and thrived, indicating we may be at the very beginning of establishing a self-sustaining population, though that would be many years away. Fingers crossed we find success and this sets a precedent for future translocations.

“Legless lizards are not snakes. Indeed, they are more like geckos as they can vocalise to communicate and when stressed and also like skinks because they drop their tail when threatened.”

For more information, see this fact sheet and the ACT Government’s action plan for the vulnerable Striped Legless Lizard.

– Statement ends –

Section: Mick Gentleman, MLA | Media Releases

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MIL-OSI Australia: Canberrans urged to reduce electricity use

Source: Australian Capital Territory – State Government

Released 17/01/2019

The ACT is strongly encouraging electricity consumers to help take some strain off our electricity supply during the current hot weather conditions.

Earlier this afternoon the ACT was advised by the Australian Energy Market Operator of the potential for very high electricity demand tomorrow across the NSW network due to extreme heat conditions. This has the potential to give rise to minor supply shortfalls between 3.00 pm to 5.30 pm tomorrow, Friday 18 January 2019.

“While the ACT has one of the most reliable electricity networks in the country, the effects of climate change, such as higher temperatures and more regular extreme weather events, are putting greater stress on our electricity grid especially during summer,” said Geoffrey Rutledge, Deputy Director-General, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development.

“There is currently enough energy in the electricity system to service the ACT. However, by pulling together and reducing our energy use, we can help to provide a ‘buffer’ for the system, decreasing the likelihood of electricity supply shortfalls and supporting our community during heatwave events.

“We want people to stay cool and out of the heat as much as possible but there are many simple actions we can take, apart from turning the fan or air conditioning off, to reduce the strain on our electricity network.

“Before you go to work tomorrow, turn off what you sensibly can and during the day think about whether you need to be using electrical equipment.”

Tips for residents to reduce electricity include:

  • turn off unnecessary residential lighting
  • restrict use of air conditioning (set temperature to 26°C or higher)
  • minimise use of cooking equipment
  • consolidate refrigeration and turn off unnecessary fridges
  • avoid use of dishwashers, clothes dryers, vacuum cleaners & second TV
  • turn off domestic pool pumping and heating operation for the day
  • avoid use of TVs or computers for game purposes
  • turn off appliances usually left in standby mode – including TVs, DVDs, videos, stereos, computers, microwave ovens, battery chargers and portable power supplies

Tips for businesses to reduce electricity include:

  • limit the use of air conditioners to occupied spaces only and setting the thermostat to no less than 26°C
  • turn off unnecessary interior lighting, particularly in unoccupied spaces
  • turn off advertising lighting and any unnecessary exterior lighting
  • turn off heating appliances for swimming pools or spas
  • turn off appliances usually left in standby mode
  • turn off computer hard drives and screens unless in use
  • turn off water heating systems and urns.

Please note: Those with serious illness, or those whose life maintaining equipment require power are not required to voluntarily restrict their energy use.

“Given the hot weather, it is important people still take appropriate precautions for their own safety and comfort, in particular those in our community that are more vulnerable including the elderly, pregnant women, young children and babies,” Mr Rutledge said.

“We are just asking people to consider how they could limit their non-essential electricity use, especially during the peak expected electricity use period of between 3.00 pm to 5.30 pm.

“The ACT Government will continue to work closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator, Evoenergy (formerly ActewAGL) and our NSW counterparts to assess and monitor the situation.”

Mr Rutledge said that an electricity supply shortfall could result in ‘rotational load shedding’.

“Load shedding occurs when the electricity supply to customers is interrupted because demand is higher than the supply the system is able to generate at that particular time. During load shedding selected residential areas would be switched off for a period of up to two hours on a scheduled basis.”

Mr Rutledge said further updates will be provided as they become available and be provided at www.environment.act.gov.au

– Statement ends –

Section: ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate | Media Releases

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MIL-OSI Australia: More ambulances and paramedics for our growing city

Source: Australian Capital Territory – State Government

Released 17/01/2019

The ACT Government is investing in five new ambulances and two new paramedic crews to ensure Canberra maintains the fastest ambulance response times in the country.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentlemen today announced $15.7 million in funding for two new paramedic crews and five new ambulances.

Thirty new paramedics will progressively join ACT Ambulance Service (ACTAS) to fill the two new crews.

Five new state-of-the-art ambulances fitted with electronic stretchers, power loaders and brand new defibrillators will join the ACTAS fleet.

More frontline staff and new equipment demonstrate our ongoing commitment to meeting the needs of our growing city and keeping Canberrans safe.

This adds to the 23 new paramedics and two new ambulances delivered in 2017-18 and shows the Government is continuing to invest in our core emergency services as Canberra grows.

We also bolstered the ACTAS fleet in 2018, with five new ambulances replacing older vehicles and six more ambulances being fitted with electric stretchers and power loaders.

ACTAS has seen steady growth in the number of Triple Zero (000) calls in recent years due to population growth and changes in the age profile of the Canberra community, with ambulance call outs rising from 35,000 in 2009-10 to 54,000 in 2017-18.

– Statement ends –

Section: Mick Gentleman, MLA | Media Releases

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