'Horror' budget to delay transfer of foster care to charities
Alexandra Smith - SMH
The transfer of care for the state's most vulnerable children from the government to children's charities is likely to be delayed because of a ''horror'' budget that will hit DOCS hard. The Family and Community Services Minister, Pru Goward, had wanted to expedite the transfer of foster care to the non-government sector in an attempt to improve the ''financial mess'' she said she had inherited from the former government. But the transfer will be very expensive and it is understood Ms Goward will not be given ''anywhere near enough funding'' in the budget next month to do any more than commit to starting the transfer early next year.

Children & Family
Adverse childhood could raise adult heart disease risk
David Orenstein - The Health Canal
The risk of coronary heart disease in middle age is moderately higher for men and women who grew up in adverse family settings, according to a new analysis of medical records and surveys of more than 3,500 people. For all the ills that result from bad parenting, new evidence from an epidemiological study of thousands of people suggests coronary heart disease (CHD) might be added to that list. “We often think about how the early family psychosocial environment influences the mental health of kids,” said Eric Loucks, assistant professor of epidemiology in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. “The fact that it may be important for chronic diseases, like heart disease, hasn’t been thought of as much.”

Drugs & Alcohol
US report shows kids 12 and up drinking
A report on substance abuse released by a US government agency says more than half of Americans aged 12 and up drink alcohol, a quarter binge-drank in the past month, and one in 14 teens has used marijuana. About 52 per cent of almost 137-and-a-half-thousand Americans interviewed in 2008 and 2009 said they'd had a drink in the past month, with drinking the most prevalent among 18-to-25 year olds. The report was released late last month by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Stoner hopes deal can save IR and ethics
NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner says he's hopeful negotiations with Christian Democrat MP Fred Nile will see the retention of ethics classes and the passage of the government's industrial reforms. The Rev Nile has been threatening to "torpedo" the public-sector wage changes if the government does not remove the controversial ethics classes from schools. The classes were introduced by the former Labor government as an alternative for children who opt out of scripture classes.

Call to import 'peaceful pill'
Julia Medew - The Age
Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke has asked federal health authorities to import ''the peaceful pill'' Nembutal for six dying patients who want to use it for sedation. The head of Exit International has applied through the Therapeutic Goods Administration Special Access Scheme, which is used by doctors to source drugs that are unavailable in Australia for seriously ill patients. Dr Nitschke has asked the TGA to approve 100 100-milligram tablets for each patient so they can take a safe dose of one tablet nightly for three months. He said he was not trying to aid or abet suicide.

Brimbank gamblers lose $1000 a head
Benjamin Millar - Brimbank Weekly
Brimbank gamblers have poured more than $1 billion into poker machines in the past 12 months, losing almost $140 million. The loss is the state's highest, equating to $1004 for each adult living in Brimbank. Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation figures show the loss is almost $5million more than the previous year. The top eight hotels took more money from their machines than Brimbank Council's entire rates and charges income for the year.

Capital study to paint homelessness picture
Canberra Times
The ACT Government has launched a study to find out how many people are homeless in the national capital. The 2006 census found there were about 1,360 people without a home with 6 per cent of those sleeping rough. The Government has now decided to do its own count. Minister for Community Services Joy Burch says it will give a better picture of the extent of the problem.

Trading in sex: ASX float for mega brothel
Michael West - SMH

Prostitution will soon be a tradeable commodity when the kingpin of the adult toy business Malcolm Day floats a three-storey Sydney brothel on the Australian Stock Exchange. The corner of Larkin Street and Parramatta Road, opposite the north-western flanks of Sydney University, will become the site for the "largest short-stay bordello globally", according to the presentation materials for the sale of the Stiletto brothel company into sharemarket group Delecta Ltd, which is controlled by Mr Day. He has struck a deal with Stiletto's owner, Sydney racing identity Eddie Hayson, to build the 42-room megaplex brothel with spas, lounges, restaurant and underground car park.

Religious Persecution
Renewed concern for religious freedom in Indonesia
Christian Today

Tensions have heightened against religious minority communities after Thursday's sentencing of three men for their part in a brutal attack on the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Cikeusik, West Java, in February. The men were handed three to six month sentences by the court over the attack, which killed three people. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has voiced concern over continuing violations of religious freedom in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.

Africa drought and famine crisis worsening
Audrey Barrick - Christian Post

The drought and famine affecting some 12 million people in the Horn of Africa is being identified as the worst food security emergency in the world today. And yet agencies report that the crisis is worsening. "The situation is getting worse," said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos in a statement Friday. "If we are to avoid this crisis becoming an even bigger catastrophe, we must act now.” According to the United Nations, the drought is the worst in 60 years and the emergency is expected to last for at least three to four months. Each day, thousands are fleeing the region to other parts of Africa to find relief and refuge. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that famine – which was declared in two areas of southern Somalia – could spread within one or two months without more aid.

Tough tactics to quell refugees
Matt Johnston and Paige Taylor - Herald Sun

Riot police on Christmas Island are training daily in readiness for asylum seekers as the Federal Government says it will film detainees sent to Malaysia. Vision of the first 54 asylum seekers to be sent to Malaysia under the Government's people-swap deal will be broadcast on YouTube to deter other potential boat people. About 20 police from the public order management team went through drills in a Christmas Island rainforest yesterday, in full riot gear.