FlagPost

Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Syria: losing ground in the fight to eradicate polio

Polio resurfaced in Syria late last year, and has now been found in Iraq as well, leading to concerns that this could reverse gains in international efforts to eradicate the virus. A side effect of the conflict in Syria, now running for over three years, is that for many children vaccinations have lapsed.  According to the BBC‘Vaccination rates in Syria fell from 91 per cent of children before the war to an estimated 68 per cent in 2012. But those are national figures. In rebel-held territory, where all the polio cases so far have occurred, immunisation levels are much lower’. In some cases, the Syrian Government has been accused of deliberately excluding rebel-held areas ... Read more...

Surviving the first day of life

Every year three million babies die within the first month of life, with one million dying on the day they are born.Most babies die from preventable causes such as infections.  Every day, 800 women die during pregnancy or childbirth.These statistics, released this week, are published in the 14th annual State of the World’s Mothers report by the organisation Save the Children. This FlagPost will show that the new born baby is still the most vulnerable and at risk of dying in both the developing and industrialised nations.To determine in which country a baby is most likely to survive, Save the Children have caculated their first ever “Birth Day Risk Index” to identify the safest and most dang... Read more...

Australia's first National Children's Commissioner

On 25 February 2013 the Government announced the appointment of Australia's first National Children's Commissioner, Ms Megan Mitchell. The position of National Children’s Commissioner will sit within the Australian Human Rights Commission and commences on 25 March 2013. In its announcement, the Government outlined the Commissioner's legislative mandate to 'focus on vulnerable or at-risk groups of children, such as children with a disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, homeless children or those who are witnessing or subjected to violence'. In A picture of Australia’s children 2012, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) noted that while many of Australia’s... Read more...

Children in immigration detention

  As part of the Government’s response to the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, it would appear that children will again be held in processing centres on Nauru. This policy has been subject to sustained criticisms by refugee advocates, human rights groups and government backbenchers. The debate in the Parliament last week reflected this, with many voicing opposition and deep disquiet to the return of such an approach. While not much is known about the arrangements and conditions specifically for children on Nauru in the past, this Flag Post provides a brief history of the effects on children in detention in the Australian context and a summary of some of the key research papers about the... Read more...

Indonesia is ready for a rich, contemporary relationship...

Indonesia has taken the spotlight over the last few months as people smugglers, terrorism, drug traffickers, live cattle exports and our neighbour’s complicated ‘komodo economy’ have held the media’s attention. A need to look at Indonesia, not through it to China, was signalled by the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister, Marty Natalegawa, when he met the new Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr: 'It's to the disadvantage of countries to put all their eggs into one basket'. Simultaneously, the recent Hill report on the state of Indonesian language studies in Australia, and last year’s Lowy Institute survey of community attitudes, indicate there is a need to look inwards, at how we think about... Read more...

Child health checks and welfare conditionality: a check-up

The Government recently added child health checks to its welfare reform agenda by announcing that it would require parents of four year olds to provide evidence that their child has had a basic health assessment in order to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A Supplement. However, the Rudd-Gillard Government's experience to date with child health checks has been the subject of criticism by some medical experts and health sector commentators, raising questions about the likely effectiveness of the policy.Healthy Kids CheckChild health assessments were first introduced by the Rudd Government in July 2008 through the creation of Healthy Kids Check item numbers on Medicare. According to a Depar... Read more...

Large increase in stimulant use for ADHD in Australia: new study

A new study has shown that between 2002 and 2009, dispensing of stimulant medication in Australia—the majority of which is thought to be for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—has increased considerably. The study, Australian national trends in stimulant dispensing: 2002-09, published in the Early Online edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (ANZJP), used data from the Department of Health and Ageing to report trends in dispensed stimulant prescriptions between 2002 and 2009 by gender and age. The drugs examined were dexamphetamine, methylphenidate (brand names: Ritalin and Concerta) and modafinil (brand name: Modavigil).According to th... Read more...

Marketing obesity

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. In 2010, world-wide there were an estimated 42 million children under five years old who were overweight, and this figure is increasing at an alarming rate.Children who are overweight or obese are likely to grow into obese adults who risk developing a number of chronic non‐communicable ailments, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As these diseases add billions in health costs to national economies, it is clearly desirable both for individuals and for society overall, to devise and introduce policies which prohibit or limit their proliferation. One policy intervention which can help to achieve... Read more...

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