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News and Reviews

GET READY TO HAVE YOUR SAY ON DIGITAL IDENTITY

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GET READY TO HAVE YOUR SAY ON DIGITAL IDENTITY

NSW customers will soon have more choice and convenience when accessing government services as a result of the NSW Government’s nation-leading investment in the digital identity reform.

Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said the whole-of-government approach to digital identity would give customers the option to use digital credentials for various licences, certifications, qualifications and other eligibility documents.

“Trust, privacy, security and ethics will be at the core of the NSW Identity Strategy,” Mr Dominello said.

“We will empower customers to take control of their personal information when engaging with Government anywhere, anytime, delivering on our commitment to introduce innovative technologies to drive improved customer experience.

“Since 2015 Service NSW has expanded its digital offerings, developing the MyServiceNSW Account and Service NSW app, which has transformed the way the people of NSW interact with government.”

Mr Dominello said new services will be rolled out in 2022 to save customers time and money, including a Digital Seniors Card, Working With Children Check renewals and occupational or vocational licences.

“The new digital services will be faster, more convenient and less costly to use than paper or physical alternatives and will be less prone to forgery, misplacement or theft than physical documents,” Mr Dominello said.

“Customers will also be able to avoid sharing more personal information than required, which can sometimes happen when a physical document needs to be provided.

“As a result of Dine and Discover, more than 5.1 million or about 65 per cent of customers have now opted to prove their identity to a level that means they will not need to re-prove it for more than 90 per cent of Service NSW transactions.

“We’re making sure customers have a choice and are in full control when sharing their personal information with NSW Government, with new solutions being entirely opt-in.

“Robust privacy and security measures, as well as strong anti-fraud safeguards, will be built into new services to ensure customer information is protected at all times.”

Customers will continue to have the option of accessing services, advice and support via their local Service Centre, over the phone through the Service NSW contact centre or via the self-service channels such as the Service NSW app and website.

Mr Dominello said the Government would work with industry to learn from and leverage existing and emerging technology expertise to ensure it delivers the best quality product for customers.

Consultation is now open and will be ongoing until 30 June 2022. For more, visit: https://www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/digital-identity

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Motoring News

FORD FOCUS ST UPDATED FOR 2022

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FORD FOCUS ST UPDATED FOR 2022

FORD FOCUS ST UPDATED FOR 2022

By EWAN KENNEDY

“Facelifted body and next generation SYNC 4 technology are features of Ford Focus ST update”

Ford has provided us with more details of the updated Focus ST, developed by Ford Performance. It has been facelifted body and there are new alloy wheel designs. It has what Ford Oz says is a, “head-turning Mean Green paint option”. Inside are in-house developed Performance Seats.

FORD FOCUS ST UPDATED FOR 2022

FORD FOCUS ST UPDATED FOR 2022 interior

The updated Focus ST introduces Ford’s next-generation SYNC 4 technology. It has embedded connected navigation and connected voice control with natural language understanding. It has a 13.2-inch landscape centre screen.

Driver assistance technologies fitted to the Focus ST for the first time include Blind Spot Assist. This works with in conjunction with the Blind Spot Information System by monitoring the driver’s blind spot for vehicles approaching from behind and beside. It can apply counter-steering to warn the driver and discourage a lane change manoeuvre if a potential collision is detected.

Ford also announced that from the updated 2022 model, the Focus line-up in Australia will consist only of the Focus ST hot hatch range, including the ST and premium ST X. Demand for the Focus ST continues to grow, and with the addition of ST X, means hot hatch customers can choose the variant that best suits their needs.

The company explains that the small car segment in Australia has declined significantly over the past seven years, from 21 per cent of the total industry in 2014 to 12 per cent in 2020. Over the same period, the percentage of hot hatch sales in that segment more than tripled.

“As we focus our efforts in areas of future growth for Ford and the industry, we’re freshening and expanding our line-up across performance, commercial and family vehicles, including plans for at least five new electrified vehicles by the end of 2024,” said Andrew Birkic, President and CEO, Ford Australia.

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News and Reviews

How to broach the sensitive question of COVID vaccination status

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How to broach the sensitive question of COVID vaccination status

Over the next couple of months, there will be a need to navigate conversations and questions that we have probably never thought about before – about someone’s COVID vaccination status.

While the numbers of those fully vaccinated continue to rise around Australia, a sizeable proportion of the population still remain unvaccinated. Children 12 and over can now get the jab, but kids under 12 remain unvaccinated for now.

It’s reassuring to know that children appear to be less likely to be hospitalised with COVID compared to adults, but children are getting COVID – often due to transmission in the household, from an infected adult.

Researchers say the best way to protect younger kids, and adults, from COVID is to ensure as many adults as possible are fully vaccinated.

Dr Ashneeta Prasad, a clinical psychology registrar from UNSW’s School of Psychology, says for many families, knowing the parents of their child’s friends are vaccinated may provide them with some sense of peace. But the choice to ask another person about their vaccination status is ultimately up to the parent/adult. “Over the last few months, it appears we as a country have been shifting our approach from eliminating cases to learning to live with COVID-19 as vaccination rates increase,” Dr Prasad says. “During this transition, some families may view asking about vaccination status as a useful way to manage their residual concerns about COVID-19 circulating within the community as we learn to navigate the post-lockdown world.”

Infectious disease social scientist from UNSW’s School of Population Health, Associate Professor Holly Seale is a parent of two children under the age of 10 years. She says it’s important to have these discussions with adults before catching up with them, or parents prior to having a playdate. “I have never previously asked a parent about whether their children are vaccinated prior to playdates,” she says. “I do make some assumptions that those within my close network have vaccinated their children. Sometimes this is easy to work out due to the child’s attendance at childcare which requires vaccination. I have also been in situations where parents have told me their children are unvaccinated unprompted, to allow me the opportunity to navigate whether I want our children to play together.”

Dr Prasad says before approaching conversations about vaccination status with other parents/caregivers or adults, it’s helpful to first consider what boundaries you are wanting to uphold. She says some things to
consider would be: whether you require one or both (if applicable) parents/caregivers to be vaccinated;; and whether your boundaries vary depending on the setting, duration, or type of activity.
A/Prof Seale agrees with this approach. “If the family has a child over the age of 12 that has not received their vaccine, will you proceed with catching up?,” she says. “Perhaps you may be more comfortable sticking to outdoor activities.”

Dr Prasad says when initiating a conversation about vaccination status, it can be useful to frame the question within the broader context of why it is being asked. “This could begin with expressing relief that some gatherings are now possible and mentioning how you have been looking forward to socialising in person,” she says. “Then you could disclose that you may still have lingering concerns about COVID-19 circulating within the community and to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy, you are trying to ensure that the people you are meeting up with in person are vaccinated. Providing this bigger picture before explicitly asking someone if they are vaccinated can help ease them into the conversation and promote more open and respectful communication.”

A/Prof. Seale points to a recent piece in The Conversation which highlights that offering your own vaccine status first may help break the ice. “This is a logical step as it supports setting the social norm,” she says. “As part of this process, you can acknowledge that it is a strange or difficult time. It’s important to be clear and transparent about why you are asking and be open to finding alternative options or delaying the catch up until later in the year.”

But what if some people decline to answer? “It is important that we don’t assume that they are vaccine refusers but instead may have a health condition that means they are unable to get vaccinated or they are still trying to navigate their decision around the vaccine,” A/Prof Seale says.

If the answer is no, it is helpful to be honest and transparent about your views while remaining respectful, Dr Prasad says. “You could begin with describing the situation and respectfully acknowledging that there appears to be a difference in both parties are managing their approaches to COVID-19,” she says. “You could then follow up by calmly reinforcing your preferences in this situation. Try your best to use ‘I’ statements that frame your decision to delay or abstain from in person meetings as a personal choice made for yourself, rather than a consequence of the other person’s vaccination status”.

It is possible that these conversations could elicit feelings of rejection or embarrassment, so it can be helpful to remain sensitive to their feelings, she says. “If possible, acknowledge and validate their feelings: for example, “I understand if this is upsetting or frustrating for you”, and avoid using blaming or accusatory language which can cause tensions to escalate further.”

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News and Reviews

Supercharged $14.1M program to support nation’s vegetable growers

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Supercharged $14.1M program to support nation’s vegetable growers

Supercharged $14.1M program to support nation’s vegetable growers

Vegetable growers across Australia are set to benefit from the next generation of a national extension program aimed to boost productivity and deliver the latest research and development on-farm.
The new $14.1M VegNET 3.0 program is being delivered through Hort Innovation using vegetable industry levies and funds from the Australian Government, and led by Australia’s peak vegetable industry body AUSVEG.

Hort Innovation Chief Executive Matt Brand said the initiative represents the single largest research and development investment in the vegetable growing sector’s history, and it’s anchored on best-practice and what the industry has identified as priorities.

“This supercharged 5-year extension initiative takes a collaborative, local focus, with Development Officers based in 10 growing regions across the country. Each region will receive tailored support that meets local challenges,” he said.

“This network of experienced professionals will provide evidence-based tools and information in vital areas such as biosecurity, pest and disease management, soil and water management, the supply chain and protected cropping.”

Mr Brand said the VegNET initiative complements Hort Innovation’s dedicated extension arm which was created in 2019. He said it also builds on the foundation and momentum generated through previous VegNET programs.

AUSVEG CEO Michael Coote said that having a nationally-coordinated VegNET program will help ensure that growers all around Australia will have access to a consistent, industry-focused extension program that will put their needs first in their efforts to be productive, profitable and more competitive in an ever-increasingly global marketplace.

“VegNET is an important program for our industry,” he said. “Australian vegetable growers are world-leaders in the production of high-quality, healthy vegetables and are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and grow more sustainably and develop their businesses”.
“AUSVEG is well-placed to work with well-trained regional development officers, who are strongly supported, to deliver a high-performing, consistent and efficient VegNET program that will meet vegetable growers’ needs.”

Mr Coote said a strong extension network that connects growers with local, regional and international experts will be an important element to the industry’s future success.

“While growers are facing significant issues with labour shortages, rising input costs and an increasingly volatile climate, the industry is well-placed to overcome these challenges and take advantage of the research and services on offer in Australia to improve its productivity and increase its value to help the agriculture sector meet its goal of $100 billion by 2030,” he said.

The VegNET regional development officers will be based in the following locations:
· New South Wales through the Local Land Services NSW
· Northern Territory through NT Farmers
· Queensland (Bowen-Gumlu and Far North Queensland) through Bowen-Gumlu Growers Association
· Queensland (Bundaberg) through Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers
· Queensland (SEQ including Lockyer Valley, Granite Belt and Darling Downs) through Lockyer Valley Growers
· South Australia through AUSVEG SA
· Tasmania through RM Consulting Group
· Victoria (Gippsland) through Food and Fibre Gippsland
· Victoria (Northern, Southern and Western) through AUSVEG
· Western Australia through vegetables WA

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