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March 2019

COCAINE THE DRUG OF CHOICE IN SYDNEY ACCORDING TO AUSTRALIA’S SEWERS

By | Australian Newsletter

Sydneysiders are consuming more than twice as much cocaine as people in Melbourne and Brisbane, according to the nation’s sewers.

In August last year, for every 1000 people, 1.2 grams of cocaine was consumed daily in Sydney, compared with just over 400 milligrams in Melbourne and Brisbane.  NSW is consuming more than twice as much cocaine as Victoria and Queensland.  The figures were revealed in the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s most recent examination of wastewater treatment plants across the nation, compiled in partnership with the University of Queensland and University of South Australia.

It is the sixth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, which covers 56% of the population, or 13 million people, and is concluding its second year.  It found that capital city and regional locations in NSW in August last year were the only parts of Australia where cocaine consumption rivalled levels of methylamphetamine, or ice.  Everywhere else, cocaine use was detected to be far below that of methylamphetamine.  Nationally, more than 4.1 tonnes of cocaine was consumed between 2017 and 2018, an increase of 34.6% on the previous year, worth $1.5 billion.

Between August 2017 and August 2018, the study found $9.3 billion was spent on almost 10 tonnes of methylamphetamine, more than four tonnes of cocaine, 1.1 tonne of MDMA and 700kg of heroin.  Of the $9.3 billion, almost 80% was spent on methylamphetamine.  The heroin blocks were allegedly hidden in crates containing straw hats and souvenir items.  The dollar figure is not far off the $9.8 billion Australians are estimated to spend at cafes and coffee shops in a single year.  Over two years the study collected samples of 13 different substances, including alcohol, nicotine, oxycodone, heroin and MDMA (or ecstasy) from 58 wastewater treatment plants.

National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016, which collects information from 24,000 people across Australia has compiled a detailed picture of who uses what drugs and how often.  In NSW, data was collected from five wastewater plants in Sydney and seven from regional sites.  Each site was allocated a code, to maintain the confidentiality of participating sites.  The demand for illicit substances has not gone unnoticed by international drug dealers, with an estimated $1.29 billion worth of methylamphetamine bound for Australia seized recently in the USA, just weeks after 154kg of heroin worth around $77 million was seized by Border Force officials in Sydney.

“Australians waste over $9.3 billion a year on drugs,” ACIC chief executive officer Michael Phelan said. “This is money people could spend on items for themselves and their families.”  The report also recorded levels of cannabis consumption, which Mr Phelan described as “one of the most used illicit drugs, both domestically and internationally”.  Consumption of cannabis, a depressant, was reportedly low in NSW compared to the rest of Australia, with Tasmania recording the highest levels of use.  As the specific marker for cannabis consumption is excreted in extremely small amounts, the report’s authors identified possible “spatial differences across the nation”.

The drug consumption figures come after 5 drug related deaths at music festivals, which prompted debate over the merits of pill-testing and the dangers of party drugs.  Yet in comparisons of wastewater from August 2016 to August 2018, the population-weighted average consumption of MDMA around Australia decreased.  Consumption of methylamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, nicotine and alcohol in the same period increased.  Of the 13 substances surveyed, alcohol and nicotine were the most highly consumed.  Consumption of alcohol, nicotine, methylamphetamine, MDMA, oxycodone, fentanyl and cannabis in regional areas exceeded levels recorded in capital cities.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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PRINCIPALS TAKING OUT RESTRAINING ORDERS AGAINST VIOLENT PARENTS

By | Australian Newsletter

School principals are taking out restraining orders against violent and aggressive students and parents, amid rising numbers of school leaders being threatened, and assaulted while at work.  School leaders are almost 10 times more likely to be physically assaulted at work than the general population, with women employed at government primary schools the most at risk, according to new research on principals’ working conditions.  According to the latest Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey, 45% of principals experienced threats of violence during 2018, while 37% were subjected to acts of physical violence.  Students and parents were the most common perpetrators.

A further 35% of principals claimed they had been bullied, most often by parents.  Australian Primary Principals Association president Malcolm Elliott, said he knew of principals who had sought restraining orders to protect themselves, or their colleagues, from “unacceptable threats, intimidation and violence.  It’s a right available to them under law.”  Mr Elliott said he learnt early on in his own career “not to tolerate abusive behaviour” and would “order people off the school premises”.  More school leaders should consider the legal options available to them, he said.

The survey, conducted by the Australian Catholic University involving more than 2300 principals and deputy principals in public and private schools across all jurisdictions, has revealed a considerable increase in the number of principals dealing with offensive behaviour since data collection began in 2011.  Government primary schools reported the highest prevalence of violent threats at 49%, while 40% of female principals, compared with 32% of males, experienced violence.  Principals reported being punched, kicked, head-butted, bitten, spat at, stabbed with scissors or pencils and having school furniture flung at them.

One principal said they had been “stalked by car, tailgated” by parents of a student, while another said they had developed post-traumatic stress disorder after having a student point a gun at them.  Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said improving the respect shown to teachers and principals needed to be an “absolute priority” but it was largely in the hands of the states and school systems.  “Principals and teachers should be safe in their workplace and their employers are responsible for that safety,” he said.  “Improving the working conditions of teachers and principals will lead to better results for our school kids.”

Opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said violence experienced by school principals was “completely unacceptable” and called on families to ensure they supported school discipline. “We must show teachers and principals proper respect and get our children to do the same,” she said.  The survey’s author, Australian Catholic University professor of psychology Philip Riley, said although school leaders experienced a higher rate of offensive behaviour at work, tackling the issue was not easy.  Dr Riley recommends a “whole new government approach” to education, transparency over the education budget, and policymakers resisting “short-term, quick fixes”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL

By | Australian Newsletter

The National Day of Prayer for Defence encourages all who have a heart to pray for our Defence personnel to join together in uplifting the Australian Defence Organisation to God. This year the National Day of Prayer for Defence will be held on Saturday 13th April 2019. Groups all across Australia will pray either on the day or generally in the week preceding. See http://mcf-a.org.au/events/national-day-prayer-defence-2019/ for group locations and to download the prayer booklet, this can be adapted to your local setting. It includes prayer for deployed personnel, those who have returned with physical, mental and spiritual injuries, defence leadership and culture.

Why not organise a group to pray If there isn’t already a group meeting where you are. Consider also becoming a National Day of Prayer for Defence contact. It can be as simple as adding prayer points to your regular Small Group meeting. For more info or to host a gathering contact: mcf.office@defence.gov.au  or phone 02 6266 4950. The MCF-A Exec would also like you to know that those hosting an event should save receipts for purchasing of light refreshments at the event up to the value of $5 p/head and email receipts and bank details after the event to mcf.office@defence.gov.au for reimbursement.  Please contact the MCF Office if you have any questions.

Source:  Military Christian Fellowship

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TRUTH HAS STUMBLED IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

By | Australian Newsletter

Editors comment:  This article is a rallying call to stand up for truth in a culture where truth is under increasing attack.  We at the Australian Prayer Network are committed to do just that through our newsletters and our ministry of calling the Christians of our nation to prayer.  We invite you to consider how you may respond as the Lord quickens to you the urgency of the hour.

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.  Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.  The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.  He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede… [Isaiah 59:14-16a]

One year ago, almost exactly, I read this scripture.  I was days away from starting my new job as Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Managing Director.  Isaiah’s prophecy diagnoses many cultural maladies in his day.  All of them are increasingly relevant to our times.  This one hits the bullseye.  Across the western world, truth in the public squares is being attacked and suppressed.  The greatest stronghold of truth, Christianity, is being pathologised and blamed for significant harms.  To this end, Christian institutions are being undermined.

Churches are being pressured by new moral and legal norms.  Individuals who speak or live consistent with truth are made a prey; fair game for everything from public hostility to legal action.  Individual voices are few and easily targeted.  Institutions are compromised or quieted.  Churches are derided and ignored.  Those who will not be silent are targeted relentlessly by regulatory authorities, public spokespeople, activists, political figures, the law, and media commentary.  The outcome is that truth has stumbled in the public squares.

When truth stumbles, Isaiah 59 teaches that this progression will quickly follow: righteousness will be far away, then justice will be turned back, then those who depart from evil will be made a prey.  I have seen that in so many ways, not least of which are the 60 or so legal cases ACL has supported, where Christians who have done what is right have gotten in trouble with the law.  But the injustice that represents had to happen.  When truth is evacuated from the public squares, righteousness must soon follow, for the truth about right and wrong is no longer heard.  And when right and wrong are muddled, justice cannot be done.

No wonder Isaiah said of his day, “woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.”  It’s all part of the same problem.  To stand for truth in public as a relentless, unquieted, and effective voice, is a leadership role that is desperately needed.  It requires divinely inspired courage, wisdom and endurance.  But the courage of one inspires the courage of others.  And the truth, whenever it is spoken, will yield fruit.  Silence is not an option.  To be silent is to stand by whilst evil ideologies gain the ascendency.  It is to neglect the opportunity to call a nation back to righteousness.  It is to allow people and children to suffer.  It is to fail to defend the church and Christian people in our nation.  It is to fail to do good. It is to fail to love our neighbour.

Each of these failures would individually be a shameful sin. Collectively, they represent an abrogation of responsibility for which we will be held accountable.  My prayer is that the final clause of that Isaiah 59 scripture will never be true in our time: “The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.  He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede…” God’s desire to see truth in public is clear.  Who will He find to fly that banner?

I know that many Christians feel as I have already described: quieted.  We self-censor our beliefs.  We marvel that nobody thinks like us.  We are frustrated at compromise on every hand, especially politically.  The news about the church is so often bad.  The news about the culture is so often bad.  And we feel powerless to really make a difference.  We wonder where our society is heading.  In God’s grace, I pray that the Australian Christian Lobby will be able to boldly proclaim God’s truth in the public squares, with the unshakable confidence that these timeless, divinely authored convictions make sense of our world, give us wisdom for our world, and literally save the world.

I want to see truth made public.  That is ACL’s mission for this next season.  But it cannot be done alone. It’s not just me.  It’s not just ACL.  It’s all of us.  There are nearly 150,000 of us, easily one of the very biggest movements in the country, and we are growing quickly.

We have the technology.  We have your support.  We have the connections.  We have lobbyists, lawyers, and educators.  And we have God’s truth.  And God empowers His truth, whenever it is spoken.  We just need to stand together and be heard.  That is why I am asking you to be ready to stand with us as we refocus ACL as a grassroots movement of people like you and I who will seek to boldly and effectively proclaim God’s truth in public.

We already have a bold voice for truth in every parliament in the country, through our lobbyists.  We already have a bold voice for truth in courts and tribunals across the nation, through the Human Rights Law Alliance.  We already equip young people of exceptional ability to stand for truth in their careers, through the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.  We already produce original research, speak into the media, host dozens of targeted events in every state, and produce quality Christian content on social media.  And now we are building the army.  That’s you.

When you pick up the phone to call your Senator, sign a petition online, write to your local MP, nominate a candidate for LMI, share ACL with a friend, volunteer in an election campaign, knock on a door, or kneel to pray, you too will be making truth public.  Let’s build an army for truth that cannot be ignored.  By God’s grace and with your prayers, that is our mission.  Please be ready to join me, and please be praying.  I’m excited as we refocus and hone our mission to see truth made public.

Source: An article written by Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Martyn Iles.

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SCHOOL STUDENTS’ STRIKE ORGANISED BY ADULT ACTIVISTS

By | Australian Newsletter

Editor’s note:  This article is not about the issue of climate change, on which we recognise our readers would have a variety of differing views, but it is to expose and draw attention to the emerging trend for political activists to take advantage of our children to further their own political causes.  Children as young as 5 cannot have a considered view on complex political issues therefore involving them in this way is indoctrination not education.  We ignore it at our peril (see our other article in this newsletter).

A school strike last Friday promoted as a “student-led protest” by thousands of children skipping classes to attend climate change rallies around the nation has been organised by a network of adult activists from climate campaign organisations.  The primary backer of the planned student walkout called School Strike 4 Climate Action is the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, a non-profit company registered as a charity with an all-adult board and 68 adult staff.  The AYCC was set up a decade ago to mobilise young people on climate action by Anna Rose, an adult activist and the wife of former GetUp national director and Greens candidate Simon Sheikh.

Mr Sheikh was listed in the AYCC’s 2013 constitution as one of its 16 full members, along with Ms Rose, with voting rights to elect the group’s board.  The adult-controlled AYCC has extensive links to other climate action and anti-Adani groups with large campaign budgets, including the Sunrise Project, GetUp and Greenpeace.  Asked about adult activists helping to organise Friday’s strike while it was billed as student-led, AYCC national director Gemma Borgo-Caratti said that students taking part were “an inspiration” and the group was proud to support them as they fought for their future.

“It’s been so powerful to see parents, organisations, unions and people of all ages standing with them,” Ms Borgo-Caratti said. “Either­ you are with these students or you are standing on the wrong side of history.”  While Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian have urged students to attend school today NSW Labor leader Michael Daley backs the student walkout as the “right thing”, just a week before the NSW election.  Ms Borgo-Caratti said the AYCC, which received donations and grants totalling $2.8 million according to its last submitted financial report, was a “people-powered, people-funded” organisation.

As well as 68 adult staff, the AYCC says it has 850 volunteers aged 13 to 30.  The group runs a high school program called Switched on Schools, with student workshops and summits.  An AYCC spokeswoman said schoolchildren were “determining” the climate protest today, while confirming staff were “helping to organise and giving support” at the request of students.  “Young people are passionate but they may not have really organised a big event before,” she said.  The contact number for inquiries about the strike by “children aged 5-18” is the AYCC.

Another key group helping with organisation is the recently formed Climate Leaders, which says it represents under-18s who cannot vote or run for public office.  Climate Leaders, which endorses political candidates such as Warringah independent Zali Steggall who “meet our criteria and prove, in an interview with us, that they have what it takes”, was co-founded by Christina McPhail. Ms McPhail, a professional activist and the group’s chair­woman, said she had been working “full-time” in recent months on today’s school strike.

Other members of the all-adult Climate Leaders board include Django Merope Synge, a national campaigner for GetUp recently involved with Ms McPhail in the campaign to oust Tony Abbott at the expected May election, and Chris Cooper, a campaigner for GetUp offshoot group Purpose.  When students staged a sit-in at Parliament House in Canberra during their November strike, they were addressed by Greenpeace chief executive David Ritter, GetUp environmental justice campaign director Sam Regester and Sunrise executive director John Hepburn.

Adult climate activists are using children as “pawns” for their own purposes by encouraging them to leave school to attend  environment strikes, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said.  “I think that most Australians would take a cynical view of professional adult activists using kids for this purpose during school time when they should be at school,” he said.  “They should not be used as pawns by professional adult activists as part of a political strategy.” “It’s a free world and during their free time kids can pursue whatever agendas and issues they want to pursue,” he said.  “But I call on all involved to ensure that kids, during the day, during school time, attend school.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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