SINGLETON ARGUS COLUMN 17 NOVEMBER 2015

Applications for Volunteer Grants 2015 are now open.

Grants between $1,000 and $5,000 are available to help not for profit community organisations support their volunteers through practical measures such as the purchase of small equipment items, reimbursement for volunteers’ fuel and transport costs, and contributions towards the cost of training and background screening checks. The grants provide a valuable opportunity for local organisations to support their volunteers.

The Volunteer Grants 2015 Application Pack is available from the Department of Social Services’ website at www.dss.gov.au/grants. Alternatively, you can contact the Volunteer Grants 2015 Hotline on freecall 1800 183 374 or email vg2015@dss.gov.au.

Applications for Volunteer Grants 2015 close at 2pm AEDT on Wednesday, 9 December 2015.

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There is something surreal about the current GST debate. Let me try to put the politics of the issue aside and explain what makes the issue so confusing for the Community.

In the current global environment, the motivation for increasing the rate of the GST or applying it to fresh food and other exempt goods is to raise more revenue. The problem is that a GST is inherently regressive. In other words, it hits low to middle income earners including pensioners, harder than higher income earners.

When John Howard introduced the 10% GST he did a number of things to overcome this problem. He abolished the Wholesale Sales Tax (WST) which was raising billions of dollars annually. He also increased pensions and other benefits, provided income tax cuts, reduced petrol excise and compensated self-funded retirees.

If the GST is increased, there is no longer any WST to abolish. So the income tax cuts and benefit increases would need to be so large the Government would be no better off.

So the Government only really has two choices; leave the GST as is, or raise it and under-compensate people. I suggest most if not all readers will prefer the first option.

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Last Saturday was World Diabetes Day across the globe. It was a chance to raise awareness and reflect on the devastating impact of diabetes here in Australia and across the world.

The global statistics are staggering. There are now 387 million people with diabetes and the number is set to rise beyond 592 million. Our region, the Western Pacific, has the highest diabetes rates in the world.

In Australia there are around 1.7 million people with diabetes costing the Australian economy around $14.6 billion per annum.

This is forecast to increase to $30 billion by 2025. The enormity of these figures highlight the fact that responding to diabetes is not simply a health issue but an economic imperative.

In the Hunter electorate there are 8190 people registered with the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) including 928 living with type 1 diabetes, 7047 living with type 2 diabetes and 169 women experiencing gestational diabetes. This represents 5.34 per cent of our community. Across Australia this places Hunter 53rd.

Australia needs a stronger response to the challenge of diabetes. If we don’t act with a response befitting the size of the epidemic, then our health system will simply be consumed in dealing with the burden of diabetes-related healthcare.

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Please beware of scammers imitating Department of Human Services or Centrelink officers to trick you into handing over your money or personal details.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have received a spike in contacts about fake rebate scams in which the scammer claims to be from Centrelink or the Department of Human Services.

If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from a government department and they claim that you are entitled to money, hang up.

If you have any doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a business, organisation or government department, contact the body directly. Don’t rely on numbers, email addresses or websites provided by the caller – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.

Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source. If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.


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