Filter by July, 2012

Sitting comfortably? How sitting is affecting our health

A growing body of evidence is pointing to the health risks associated with sedentary behaviours, and in particular risks associated with prolonged periods of sitting, independent of other physical activities. While we have known for some time that regular physical activity is important to good health and that sedentary lifestyles are detrimental, what the emerging body of evidence is now suggesting is that periods of prolonged sitting can have negative health consequences even where people are meeting recommended exercise guidelines and maintaining a healthy body weight. In other words, undertaking the recommended 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise each day, and keeping wei... Read more...

The consequences of a poor anti-money laundering program: the HSBC case study

On 17 July 2012, the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (the Committee) released a lengthy report detailing significant deficiencies in the anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing systems of one of the largest banks in the world.  The report is the result of a year-long inquiry by the Committee involving over 75 interviews and the examination of more than 1.4 million documents.  It reveals a long history of weak anti-money laundering controls resulting in the misuse of HSBC’s key US affiliate to launder the proceeds of drug trafficking, circumvent the prohibitions designed to prevent funds from being directed to rogue jurisdictions and to provid... Read more...

Staying on at school is not just a matter of money

  There is considerable evidence about the correlation between socio-economic status (SES)–particularly parental income, education and occupation–and educational attainment. Hence the inclusion of a measure of SES on the Myschool website, which allows for the comparison of ‘SES-equivalent’ schools, and higher education institutions receiving funding on the basis of meeting targets for the representation of students from low SES backgrounds. While traditional SES measures may allow for comparisons or targets, they provide little guidance to policy makers on how to overcome such disadvantage–it is generally not possible to change the education level of a student’s parent for example. However... Read more...

Australia’s performance against Anti-corruption treaty reviewed

Australia signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in December 2003 and ratified it two years later.  A summary of the findings of the first review of Australia’s implementation of the UNCAC was released on 18 June 2012.  The review of chapters III and IV of the UNCAC coincided with the Australian Government’s development of the country’s first National Anti-Corruption Plan.  While the findings were largely positive, the reviewers also identified several challenges and areas of improvement.The UNCAC, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2003 and entered into force in December 2005, is the most comprehensive international treaty on corrupt... Read more...

SBY’s visit – the bigger picture

At the second Indonesia-Australia Leaders’ Meeting in Darwin on 3 July, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono re-affirmed the two countries’ ‘comprehensive strategic partnership, based on a mutual commitment to each other’s progress, prosperity and security’. The Joint Statement agreed by the two leaders highlights cooperation across a range of issues, including regional institutional architecture, trade, defence and maritime cooperation, policing, development assistance, and people-to-people links.Despite the language of ‘partnership’, much of the public commentary in Australia concerning Indonesia remains focused on specific irritants (people smuggling, live c... Read more...

What can be done about the social determinants of health?

Three recent reports: the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report on perinatal depression, Australia’s Health 2012 (produced by the AIHW) and the Council of Australian Government (COAG) Reform Council performance report on the National Healthcare Agreement (2008) have highlighted the impact of the social determinants of health. These reports demonstrate the relationship between income, health status and access to health care. They clearly show that Australians with low incomes usually have poorer health outcomes. The AIHW report on perinatal depression shows that low income households have the highest rates of perinatal depression (14%). Perinatal depression is less likely i... Read more...

Trafficking in Persons Report 2012

On 19 June, the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, released the 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report. The TIP Report is produced annually by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons within the State Department, and is seen by the US Government as its ‘principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking’. Released on Juneteenth or Freedom Day, the 2012  Report has particular resonance for the US as 22 September 2012 is the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Proclamation 93, Declaring the Objectives of the War Including Emancipation of Slaves in Rebellious States.As explained in a FlagPost on last year's Report, each ... Read more...

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

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