Special team to boost tracking and enforcement in bid to halt coronavirus

Source: Government of Queensland

In an Australian first, the Palaszczuk Government will establish a dedicated team to boost tracking in the government’s fight against coronavirus.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the enforcement team would form an important part of the Queensland Health’s efforts to tackle the pandemic.

“My government is throwing everything we have got at Covid-19,” the Premier said.

“Law enforcement officials will now be able to assist the Public Health Units with contact tracing people who have come into contact with a known coronavirus case.

“They will also lead the enforcement of people who have been ordered to quarantine, making sure they stay inside their homes, to protect others and slow the spread of coronavirus.

“The enforcement team will also assist with ensuring the self-isolation of people diagnosed with coronavirus.

“The vast majority are doing the right thing and following the rules, but we need to ensure there’s 100 per cent compliance.”

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the new unit would form an important part of Queensland Health’s coronavirus contact tracing and monitoring efforts.

“This new enforcement unit has one purpose, and that’s to protect public health – it will have strong powers and won’t hesitate to use them,” Ms D’Ath said.

Health Minister Steven Miles said Queensland’s Public Health Units, under the leadership of the Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, have done an outstanding job in contact tracing and keeping in touch with those who have been diagnosed with coronavirus but are being treated at home.

“We have quadrupled the number of staff members working for our Public Health Units already and this announcement will significantly increase resources,”  Mr Miles said.

“Self-isolation and quarantine means you can’t go out for a walk, you can’t pop down to the shops or get a takeaway coffee from your local café.

“While most people are following the rules, there are some people putting the public at risk.

“This new enforcement team will help ensure all Queenslanders are doing the right thing.

“We all need to work together to tackle this virus.”

ENDS

Media contact – Premier’s office: Chris Taylor 0400 990 162

 

Community Benefit Fund delivers extra $14.7 million to 650 organisations

Source: Government of Queensland

More than 650 community groups will share in $14.7 million worth of Queensland Government grants through the Gambling Community Benefit Fund.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath today announced the funding for a wide variety of community projects under Round 103 of the popular program.

Mrs D’Ath said organisations now experiencing a delay in being able to bring their event or project to fruition because of COVID-19 could make an application to extend the acquittal date.

“Community organisations throughout Queensland are being impacted by COVID-19 and that’s why we’re providing more flexible funding arrangements,” she said.

“Successful recipients in the latest funding round can apply to extend the timeline for holding their event or completing their project.

“These are sensible arrangements that are much needed given the circumstances many organisations are now experiencing.”

Mrs D’Ath said amog the successful recipients is Teens Take Control Inc. on the Sunshine Coast, which will receive $25,000 to purchase a vehicle to transport vulnerable and disadvantaged youths so they can participate in beneficial programs and services.

“This Story Australia Ltd will receive $35,000 funding support to undertake a professional filming project which will preserve the personal stories of remaining WWII veterans,” she said.

“There’s also $31,180 in funding for a specialist underwater camera for Pro-Vision Reef Inc, to provide high-definition digital imagery of the Great Barrier Reef to help minimise the fishing industry’s environmental footprint.

“The Alexandra-Mooloolaba Community Kindergarten is also receiving $6,000 for the construction of a Yarning Circle to help further educate children about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

“The beauty of these grants is they allow us to support a broad range of community groups, with such diverse interests and needs.”

The GCBF grants are worth between $500 and $35,000 and applications are open to not-for-profit organisations. Over the past 25 years, GCBF has distributed more than $902 million to community groups helping Queenslanders.

The grants are merit based and funding is allocated by an independent panel.

Organisations receiving funding can make an application to extend the acquittal date on a case by case basis. For more information visit: https://www.gamblingcommunityfund.qld.gov.au/#/welcome.

You can also contact the team on 1800 633 619 or email cbf@justice.qld.gov.au

A full list of recipients is available at www.justice.qld.gov.au/grants

Media contact: Martin Philip 0407 675 008

Wage theft. It’s a crime

Source: Government of Queensland

The Palaszczuk Government will introduce legislation to make wage theft a criminal offence.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said amendments to the state Criminal Code will be introduced to tackle wage theft head-on, following a Queensland Parliamentary inquiry.

“Our wage theft inquiry found that almost one in four Queensland workers is not receiving the pay they are entitled to,” Ms Grace said.

“Wage theft is taking around $1.2 billion out of workers’ wages each year and more than $1 billion from workers’ superannuation.

“Enough is enough.”

Ms Grace said employers who commit wage theft in future will be liable to a maximum term of imprisonment for 10 years for stealing or 14 years for fraud.

“The Criminal Code as it currently stands comes down very hard on workers caught with their hand in the till,” Ms Grace said.

“But there’s no offence for unscrupulous bosses who intentionally steal from their employees or defraud them.

“These amendments will rectify that inequity and send a strong message to employers that wage theft is not acceptable – it is a crime”.

Ms Grace said while wages and conditions for private sector workers were primarily a Commonwealth Government responsibility, the Federal Government have been sitting on their hands on this issue since 2013.

“In the absence of any Commonwealth leadership, we are determined to do all we can at a state level to stamp out wage theft,” she said.

“If our action at a state level prompts the Federal Government to finally take action then we will welcome that, but any measures they introduce must be properly enforced.”

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said a new streamlined small claims process will be introduced to further support the 437,000 Queenslanders being underpaid each year.

“For workers, their first and main priority is to get back what is owed to them,” she said.

“But almost half of workers who experience wage theft don’t try to recover the monies owed to them because the process is complex and time-consuming.

“Once the new system is in place, wage recovery processes will be far simpler and more user-friendly.”

More on wage theft is available at www.oir.qld.gov.au/industrial-relations/wage-theft

Media contact: Brock Taylor – 0427 018 178         

New Member of Land Court appointed

Source: Government of Queensland

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath has announced the appointment of James McNamara to the Queensland Land Court.

“James McNamara has built a distinguished legal career and also served as a senior public servant, making him well qualified for this post,” Mrs Dath said.

“He has served as a member of the Native Title Tribunal since 2014 and previously held the position of Assistant Director-General of Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

“Mr McNamara is well respected within Queensland’s legal profession.

“He has acquired strong expertise in land management and administration, environment and resources, as well as native title and cultural heritage.

“I congratulate Mr McNamara on his appointment and wish him well in his role as a Member of the Land Court.”

Media contact: Martin Philip 0407 675 008

Students, show us what $mart $hoppers you are and win big $$$

Source: Government of Queensland

Queensland’s young consumers can demonstrate what savvy shoppers they are by taking part in the Office of Fair Trading’s annual Buy Smart Competition.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath officially launched the 2020 competition today (14 February) at Wavell State High School. 

The competition is open to students in Years 4 to 12, with more than $15,000 in prizes to be won.

“The Buy Smart Competition is a great opportunity for students to learn about their consumer rights and become savvy shoppers,” Mrs D’Ath said. 

“Today’s consumer marketplace can be a minefield of confusing terms and conditions, scams and consumer guarantees.

“The sooner young Queenslanders learn how to manage their money, spot a scam and understand the consequences of consumer decisions, the better.

“We’re encouraging students, teachers and schools across Queensland to get involved in the Buy Smart Competition.

“Their entry can be about any consumer rights topic, providing a creative and fun platform to learn about consumer affairs.

“By taking part contestants will be developing valuable skills which will stay with them for life.”

Last year Fair Trading officers spoke to more than 11,000 students across the state as part of the Buy Smart program and over 1,000 students contributed to entries in the Buy Smart Competition.

Some of the more creative entries included a podcast, a big gold pyramid covered in advice on how to avoid scams, three dolls houses, an original music clip and a karaoke video.

Schools and other youth-focussed organisations can book a presentation by Fair Trading officers for their students, get competition resources and find details on how to enter at www.qld.gov.au/buysmartcomp

Students can enter individually or as a team and have until Friday, 18 September 2020 to submit their entry. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at Parliament House in Term 4.  

Cash prizes are up for grabs from a total prize pool of more than $15,000 across three categories (school years 4–6, years 7–9, and years 10–12) and the Commissioner’s School Champion award:

The Buy Smart website (www.qld.gov.au/buysmartcomp) lists a range of handy tips on how to get started, criteria and prizes, including examples of past winning entries to help inspire entrants with their submissions.

Fair Trading officers will be visiting schools across the state over the coming months to give presentations on a range of consumer topics including budgeting, consumer rights and avoiding scams.

Media contact: Martin Philip 0407 675 008

Love actually will be all around the Brisbane Registry

Source: Government of Queensland

There’s no need to look for it at the airport – love will be all around the Brisbane Registry this Valentine’s Day.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said Queensland’s most popular wedding venue was now fully-booked for a romantic day of celebrations.

“Our professional celebrant team is busy putting the finishing touches in place for 19 couples to say ‘I do’ in the room with a view, 32 floors above the heart of Brisbane’s CBD,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“Love will be written in more than just the wind. A neon pink, illuminated ‘Just Married’ sign and a ‘flower wall’ will become photogenic backdrops for newly-weds celebrating their special day.

“I wish all the couples the very best for their special day today and for their future lives together.”

During 2019 the Brisbane Registry hosted 1,905 of Queensland’s 22,178 nuptials, including 126 same-sex marriages.

Wedding ceremonies are held Monday to Saturday (excluding Wednesday), with extended hours on Friday and Saturday for early evening ceremonies.

Due to popular demand, the Registry opens its doors every Thursday from 8.30am to 9.15am to allow couples to meet the celebrants, tour the two ceremony rooms, and take in the stunning Brisbane views.

For more information visit www.qld.gov.au/registryceremonies.

Regardless of where couples are married in Queensland, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages also has a range of commemorative marriage certificates available at www.qld.gov.au/marriagecertificate.

The most popular commemorative marriage certificates in 2019 were the “Love” certificate, followed by the “Heart” certificate.

Media contact: Martin Philip 0407 675 008

Beware of romance rorts and scams this Valentine’s Day

Source: Government of Queensland

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, lonely hearts are getting a timely reminder to beware online dating scams and romance rorts.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said Valentine’s Day romantics could spare themselves financial loss and embarrassment by taking a few basic precautions to thwart scammers.

“People are often at their most vulnerable when they’re looking for love and this makes them more susceptible to scammers,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“It never ceases to amaze how scheming these scammers can be, and how willing they are to prey on vulnerable people’s feelings for personal profit.

“Scammers will go to great lengths over many months to gain your trust – they’ll say all the right things, buy you gifts and appear to share personal information.

“But once your defences are down, they’ll strike. Scammers could ask, either directly or subtly, for money, gifts, or even your banking or credit card details.

“One of the most manipulative tricks in a scammer’s repertoire is pretending to need money for a personal emergency.

“The Office of Fair Trading’s tips to protect yourself from romance scams include:

  • always be cautious of people you meet online
  • never send money to someone you haven’t met in person
  • be wary if someone tries to move communications away from the dating website or app to another platform like email, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp
  • be alert to inconsistencies in their stories
  • be cautious when sharing personal pictures or videos with prospective partners as scammers are known to blackmail their victims using compromising material.”

Mrs D’Ath said in 2019, Australians reported losing more than $28 million to romance scams, of which $6.8 million was lost by Queenslanders.

“But that figure is likely to be the tip of the iceberg because many people who are scammed don’t report it out of embarrassment,” she said.

“By all means enjoy Valentine’s Day but also be aware that if you’re looking for love, there are people out there who may try to take advantage of this.”

For more information about romance scams and how consumers can protect themselves, visit https://www.qld.gov.au/law/fair-trading and https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams.

Media contact: Martin Philip 0407 675 008

 

 

New Supreme Court Justices appointed

Source: Government of Queensland

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath has announced the appointment of two new Justices to the Supreme Court Trial Division.

Mrs D’Ath said Frances Williams and Peter Callaghan SC were important additions to Queensland’s Supreme Court bench.

“Frances Williams has built a highly successful legal career spanning almost three decades,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“Ms Williams is an experienced solicitor and a partner of national law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

“She has acted in a number of high profile cases and is well respected within the legal profession.”

Mrs D’Ath said Peter Callaghan SC is one of Queensland’s most respected and experienced barristers.

“Peter Callaghan SC was called to the Bar in 1986 and took Silk in 2004,” she said.

“He has built an impressive career at the private Bar and has served as Senior Crown Prosecutor.

“Peter is the current Chair of the Criminal Law Committee, Australian Bar Association and a past President of the Law and Justice Institute Queensland.

“He was also Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission and Board of Inquiry into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.”

Mrs D’Ath congratulated the appointees.

“The new appointments will bring a wealth experience to the Supreme Court,” she said. 

Media contact: Martin Philip 0407 675 008

New Child Death Review Board to be established in Queensland

Source: Government of Queensland

State Parliament has passed laws to establish an independent Child Death Review Board to examine child death cases in Queensland.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the new board will conduct systemic reviews of child deaths that extend beyond reviewing key government agency service provision to an individual child.

“The loss of a child, in any circumstances, is a tragedy,” Mrs D’Ath said.  

“When a child known to the child protection system dies, it’s imperative that we learn from these tragedies and, where possible, help prevent future deaths.

“Child Safety and the Director of Child Protection Litigation are already required to conduct internal systems reviews where they’ve had involvement with a child who has died or suffered a serious physical injury.

“The requirement will now be expanded to health, education, community and justice services, that support vulnerable children and families.

“This includes Queensland Health, Department of Education, Queensland Police Service, and the Department of Youth Justice.

“It’s about promoting ongoing learning and improvement, accountability, and collaboration across these key government agencies that have a high degree of contact with children known to the child protection system.”

The Child Death Review Board will be located within the Queensland Family and Child Commission. This is consistent with the approach in Victoria and other jurisdictions whereby the child death review function is independent from the government department responsible for child protection services.

“The new laws will require the Board to act independently and in the public interest and it will not be subject to my direction, or the direction of anyone else, in performing its functions,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“This is yet another sign of the Palaszczuk Government’s ongoing commitment to protecting Queensland’s most vulnerable children.”

Media contact: Martin Philip 0407 675 008

Co-operatives reform aims to cut red tape, boost regional economies

Source: Government of Queensland

Draft laws aimed at reducing red tape and associated business costs for co-operatives have been introduced in State Parliament.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the draft laws would benefit smaller co-operatives, including co-operatives in regional Queensland. 

“The Palaszczuk Government recognises the substantial contribution Queensland co-operatives make to our economy and communities,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“Co-operatives operate in a diverse range of industries in Queensland including agriculture and fishing, dairy, water supply, health services, grocery and hardware supplies, recycling, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts.

“That’s why we’re seeking to modernise and improve the regulatory framework for co-operatives through nationally-harmonised co-operatives legislation.

“The Bill before State Parliament simplifies the financial reporting and auditing requirements and reduces costs for small co-operatives.

“It modernises directors’ and officers’ duties and provides a new way for co-operatives to raise funds

“The draft laws will also assist co-operatives wanting to do business across state or territory borders as they will no longer have to register in each jurisdiction.

“These are important reforms which will support the ongoing viability of Queensland co-operatives.”

The Co-operatives National Law Bill 2020 seeks to repeal Queensland’s current Cooperatives Act 1997, and in its place, apply the Co-operatives National Law and its regulations as a law of Queensland.

Media contact: Martin Philip 0407 675 008