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More Australian businesses can now access R&D funding from CSIRO

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The CSIRO Kick-Start Program connects SMEs with research expertise, acting as your in-house R&D division.

More Australian businesses can now access R&D funding from CSIRO

 

More Australian small businesses can now access research and development ( R&D ) funding and expertise through Australia’s national science agency, as CSIRO broadens its Kick-Start program.

The program has now been expanded with an increase in eligibility to include businesses with a turnover of up to $10 million.

This marks a significant increase from the previous eligibility of companies with a turnover of up to $1.5 million.

The CSIRO Kick-Start program assists Australian small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and scale-ups by providing facilitation and dollar-matched funding to access CSIRO’s research expertise and capabilities for company-led R&D projects.

Since its inception in 2017, the CSIRO Kick-Start program has been a catalyst for over 260 small business projects, contributing just under $24 million in R&D activities. Collectively, these companies now hold a market value exceeding $2 billion.

Dr Doug Hilton, CSIRO’s newly appointed Chief Executive, said the expansion of the program underscored CSIRO’s commitment to create benefit for Australia by supporting Australian entrepreneurship and innovation.

“CSIRO can absolutely play a role in supporting SMEs to embrace research and in stimulating entrepreneurship among our scientists and others in the community,” Dr Hilton said.

“Expanding the eligibility of the CSIRO Kick-Start program means we can offer more Australian businesses, more Australian innovators, more Australian entrepreneurs’ access to the resources, knowledge, and support they need to flourish.”

From AI-powered tech to native skincare, hydrogen prototypes to Indigenous farming, the CSIRO Kick-Start program connects visionary businesses with cutting-edge science and technology.

The CSIRO Kick-Start Program connects SMEs with research expertise, acting as your in-house R&D division.

The CSIRO Kick-Start Program connects SMEs with research expertise, acting as your in-house R&D division.

Key elements of the program include:

  • Facilitation to help refine the research question
  • Connecting businesses with relevant CSIRO researcher expertise and capability – think of us as your in-house R&D division
  • Dollar-matched funding support to improve the affordability or expand the scope of R&D services

Dr Megan Sebben, CSIRO’s Kick-Start Program Manager, explained the program’s role in accelerating technologies to market.

“In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, innovation is the lifeblood of success,” Dr Sebben said.

“Yet, many start-ups and SMEs face barriers, such as limited expertise and insufficient funding, that hinder R&D access.

“Our program serves as a driver for change, providing comprehensive facilitation to overcome these challenges.”

Eyes of AI (EAI), a Sydney-based company, recently achieved groundbreaking progress in dental x-ray analysis and pathology detection in collaboration with CSIRO researchers, made possible through the CSIRO Kick-Start program.

Dr Sen Le, co-founder of EAI, dentist, and multiple practice owner expressed enthusiasm for the program.

“Thanks to Kick-Start, EAI’s award winning dental software sets a new standard in radiograph analysis,” Dr Le said.

“Being able to harness the AI and imaging expertise of CSIRO’s Data61 team, a global leader in the field, is both an honour and an exciting development for our company.”

Find out more, or submit an expression of interest. https://www.csiro.au/en/work-with-us/funding-programs/SME/CSIRO-Kick-Start/about

 

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What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

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Food and Grocery Code of Conduct - What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

 

By Jeff Gibbs

Public scrutiny of supermarkets has a longstanding history. Nearly a decade preceding the current spotlight on inflated prices and allegations of price gouging, a code of conduct was instituted to address the market disparities between major retailers such as Woolworths and Coles and their suppliers. Fast forward to the present, and it’s evident that issues persist. A 2023 report revealed that over a third of Australian vegetable producers contemplated exiting the industry within a year, citing pressures from retailers on pricing and shrinking profit margins. Consequently, the federal government has commissioned a review of the code of conduct.

So, what precisely is this code, and does it effectively operate? Introduced in 2015, the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct serves as an agreement aimed at enhancing business practices within the supermarket sector, particularly concerning the dynamics among retailers, wholesalers, and suppliers. While suppliers are mandatorily covered by the code, participation by supermarkets remains entirely voluntary. Notably, major players like Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, and Metcalf (parent company of IGA) have all opted in.

Under the code, supermarkets bear several obligations, including the fundamental principle of conducting dealings with suppliers in good faith — be it during negotiations, contract establishment, or dispute resolution. However, the code refrains from explicitly defining the concept of “good faith.” Instead, it delineates various factors to assess good faith, such as acting honestly and without retaliatory or coercive measures. Additionally, supermarkets are required to appoint their own code arbiter to investigate disputes and propose resolutions, though a recent review highlighted supplier concerns regarding the arbiters’ lack of independence, resulting in scant formal complaints.

Should a breach of the code occur, suppliers possess the option to file formal complaints with the designated arbiter. Yet, a central critique of the code emerges here: due to its voluntary nature, supermarkets face no tangible repercussions for non-compliance. This deficiency was acknowledged by Dr. Craig Emerson, tasked with leading a review of the code, who emphasised that instituting penalties within a mandatory code could incentivise greater adherence from supermarkets. Nonetheless, supermarkets argue that the paucity of complaints indicates smooth relations between them and suppliers.

Food and Grocery Code of Conduct - What does the supermarket code of conduct actually do?

The Food and Grocery Code of Conduct serves as an agreement aimed at enhancing business practices within the supermarket sector.

Will the code undergo revision? It remains uncertain. Dr. Emerson is slated to deliver a report on the review by June’s end, which will furnish a recommendation to the federal government on potential amendments — either retaining it as a voluntary pact while modifying certain aspects or overhauling it into mandatory regulation. The government, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, asserted a commitment to taking requisite action following the review’s outcome.

This was acknowledged by Dr Craig Emerson, who said proper penalties in a mandatory code would improve supermarket behaviour after he was appointed to lead a review of the code in January.

“Critics point to the weak enforcement powers in a voluntary code,” he said in early February.

“A mandatory code with penalty provisions would likely incentivise greater compliance by supermarkets.

“Enforcement options could include infringement notices and court proceedings to impose financial penalties for non-compliance.”

Supermarkets, however, say the paltry number of complaints shows the relationships between them and suppliers are running smoothly.

Is the code going to change?

It might, but we don’t know for sure yet.

Emerson is due to deliver a report on the review by the end of June.

That will include a recommendation to the federal government on whether to amend the code – that is, keep it as a voluntary agreement but change some other elements – or remake it entirely to turn it into mandatory regulation.

The government will then have to choose whether or not to accept Emerson’s recommendation.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said when the review was launched that he “will not hesitate to take action” if it’s required.

 

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$900K IN FINES HANDED OUT AS SAFEWORK CRACKS DOWN ON FALLS FROM HEIGHTS THREATS

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Working at Heights in Construction campaign from SafeWorks NSW Blitz

$900K IN FINES HANDED OUT AS SAFEWORK CRACKS DOWN ON FALLS FROM HEIGHTS THREATS

 

Almost $1 million in fines have been issued at the halfway point of SafeWork NSW’s 12-month blitz on falls from heights.

The ‘Working at Heights in Construction’ campaign followed a concerning rise in the number of serious injuries and deaths attributed to falls from heights, resulting in 17 people killed between 2018 and 2022.

Since May 2023, SafeWork Inspectors have visited 1,218 worksites resulting in 1,499 Improvement Notices, 727 Prohibition Notices and 352 Penalty Notices amounting to $972,000.

The blitz has seen Inspectors visit several commercial and residential sites across the state, as well as conducting high visibility checks in manufacturing and warehouse industries in addition to inspections in the transport industry leading up to a busy Christmas period.

During their field work, Inspectors gauged that 65 per cent of industry is using the highest form of safety measures as their first choice including the use of fall prevention devices, such as roof guardrails and scaffolding, rather than fall arrest systems such as harnesses.

SafeWork will continue to prioritise the safety of workers at heights in 2024 with continuing inspections, starting off with a blitz on the safe installation of rooftop solar panels this month.

Working at Heights in Construction campaign from SafeWorks NSW Blitz

Almost $1 million in fines have been issued at the halfway point of SafeWork NSW’s 12-month blitz on falls from heights.

Contractors and builders are obligated to protect workers by identifying height risks and taking steps to control these hazards as far as reasonably practical by implementing higher order controls.

Workers who have concerns about workplace health and safety can anonymously contact SafeWork on 13 10 50 or through the ‘Speak Up Save Lives’ app.

More information relating to working from heights can be found via the SafeWork website

Quotes to be attributed to Head of SafeWork NSW Trent Curtin:  

“As we pass the halfway point of SafeWork’s ‘Working at Heights in Construction’ compliance blitz it is important to note that falls from heights is still the number one cause of traumatic fatalities on NSW construction sites.

“While it is encouraging that 65 per cent of industry is using the highest form of safety measures, this means that 35 per cent are not and this needs to change. Otherwise, businesses run the risk of workplace accidents as well as fines and prosecution.

“During one worksite blitz a SafeWork Inspector noted a worker who was not connected to a harness system while working on a roof. When questioned as to why they were not connected, the worker reasoned that they had been roofing for 30 years without an incident.

“Attitudes like this will eventually result in a workplace accident or death. This is simply unacceptable. SafeWork Inspectors will not hesitate to stop work on site, issue fines and consider prosecution against businesses and individuals disregarding the rules.”

 

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Delivering employment pathways for diverse women

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Return to Work Pathways Program

Delivering employment pathways for diverse women

 

Local organisations in the Lismore electorate can now apply for funding for programs that empower women from diverse backgrounds to thrive in the workforce.

The NSW Government’s Return to Work Pathways Program has launched a new round of applications with grants between $100,000 and $250,000 available for organisations to provide training, mentoring and pathways to employment for diverse women.

Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin said the Return to Work Pathways Program was designed to help women from diverse backgrounds overcome barriers to employment.

“I want everyone in my community to enjoy the same opportunities to succeed in their career.

“This program has a proven track record of helping women to overcome barriers and gain a sense of achievement in their chosen work.

“I encourage local organisations with ideas to help women succeed, to apply for this funding.

Since its inception in 2023, the Return to Work Pathways Program has funded 13 successful projects and is supporting more than 1,000 women with their employment goals.

Return to Work Pathways Program

Return to Work Pathways Program

Minister for Women Jodie Harrison said the NSW Government was committed to fostering economic opportunity and boosting female participation in the workforce.

“The Return to Work Pathways program focuses on initiatives that support women who are experiencing persistent barriers to employment.

“Grants awarded through this program have helped women access sustainable employment opportunities through coaching and training, mentorships or local opportunities.

“Creating pathways to employment means women can have financial security and face life’s challenges with confidence.”

The Return to Work Pathways Program will focus on supporting women and girls:

  • From Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  • Living in regional, rural and remote areas of NSW
  • Of diverse sexualities and genders, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer and/or asexual
  • Who are living with disability
  • Who are living with mental illness
  • Who are in contact with the criminal justice system
  • Who are veterans

Return to Work Pathways Program grant applications are now open and close Monday 11 March 2024. For more information on the grant program, eligibility information and how to apply, visit here.

 

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