Decision Maker

Simon Birmingham

  • Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment

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Petitioning Senator Penny Wong, Malcolm Turnbull, Jay Weatherill, Nick Xenophon, Steven Marshall MP, Hon Tony Piccolo, Hon Jack Snelling MP, Hon John Darley, Hon Robert Brokenshire, Hon John Rau MP, Hon Kate E...

Government funding for epilepsy

South Australia and the Northern Territory are the only states in Australia that do not receive Government funding to support children and families living with epilepsy. 63,000 people live with epilepsy in South Australia and 8,000 in the Northern Territory. The Epilepsy Centre continues to provide support and services to those affected funded solely by private donations. Epilepsy can be a devastating condition to manage and the support The Epilepsy Centre provides to the community is an absolute necessity. The suicide rate among youth living with epilepsy is 25% higher than the general population, due to difficulties in securing employment, maintaining friendships and holding a driver’s license. It is a life of uncertainty, confusion, isolation and embarrassment which no one should have to endure. Epilepsy can affect anyone at any age. Epilepsy is not just falling to the ground and shaking. A seizure can kill. The Epilepsy Centre is a professional organisation committed to providing quality services to people living with epilepsy and improving community awareness and attitudes throughout South Australia and the Northern Territory. The team at The Epilepsy Centre have been helping people since for over 40 years and we work continuously to raise awareness of epilepsy in the community to reduce stigma and create a more welcoming and inclusive society. Our key services include: Counselling Advocacy Epilepsy Management Support Care Plan Development NDIS Support Home and Residential Care Visits Employment Support Resources Workshops Clinics Epilepsy Training for Families, Schools and Workplace In hospital Support Collaboration and networking with other agencies Risk Assessments Epilepsy First Aid Training Emergency Medication Training Annual Camps Epilepsy Education for - Schools, Workplaces, Sports Groups, Disability and Support Workers, Community Organisations, Family and Friends The cost of service delivery is incredibly high yet we strive to go above and beyond to supply children and families with necessary medical equipment designed to protect people from their seizures. For over two years The Epilepsy Centre has donated almost 60 Seizure Monitors to children in need. These monitors are placed on the child's bed and can detect movements similar to seizures, which then sounds a loud alarm to alert loved ones. Each seizure monitor costs $1000, which most families can not afford. We have also donated equipment such as Oximeters, life jackets, ice vests, helmets and specially designed wheel chairs. Our mission and vision is to improve in all respects the welfare of people with epilepsy and their families in South Australia and The Northern Territory. We aim to: Educate the public to accept persons with epilepsy as equal citizens and encourage greater public understanding Remove any discrimination from persons with epilepsy and/or their families Advise and help persons with epilepsy, and their families Represent persons with epilepsy in being accepted with education authorities and all employer organisations Promote and provide information on epilepsy by way of pamphlets, advertising, films, articles, discussion and lectures to public and professional groups and the community Support research programmes and seminars into medical and social aspects of epilepsy Government funding would enable us to employ additional full-time nurses, social workers and counsellors to manage the enormous workload. These workers would help reduce hospital admissions, give families and individuals much needed support, train schools and workplaces and help improve community understanding - effectively ending the appalling stigma associated with seizures. It's time to recognise that epilepsy is indeed a Chronic Health Condition and to provide much-needed funding for The Epilepsy Centre. For more information please visit: or Or like us on facebook 

The Epilepsy Centre
11,367 supporters
Petitioning Simon Birmingham

No taxpayer funded $700M religious National School Chaplaincy Programme beyond 2018

Note: The movie above contains an example of a student being water baptised by a Commonwealth funded chaplain, having been been recruited for conversion via a chaplain organised church 'self esteem' programme at a public school. As plaintiff in Williams v Commonwealth I & II, I direct this petition to Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham on behalf of Australian parents, caregivers, and concerned citizens who believe that the nation’s public schools should be completely secular. Furthermore, we consider the presence in public schools of the exclusively religious Commonwealth-funded National School Chaplaincy Programme to be extremely inappropriate, and a blatant breach of the separation of church and state. Although Commonwealth funding for the controversial National School Chaplaincy Programme will cease at the close of 2018, Fairfax reported in March 2018 that Liberal MPs had petitioned Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham to extend the National School Chaplaincy Programme permanently beyond 2018 at an increased cost of $75 million per year. Mr Birmingham, we strongly suggest that more funding be directed toward states and territories to provide an urgently needed boost to the number of professional education department employed social workers, school counsellors, school psychologists, and student guidance staff working tirelessly in our public schools. Since its introduction by John Howard in 2006, the National School Chaplaincy Programme has cost Australian taxpayers almost $700 million. John Howard: $160M, Kevin Rudd: $50M, Julia Gillard: $222M, and Tony Abbott: $244M. The National School Chaplaincy Programme has never demonstrated, or ever been required to demonstrate any measurable outcomes whatsoever. The June 2014 High Court decision in my favour ruled that: “Providing at a school the services of a chaplain or welfare worker for the objective described in the FMA Regulations is not a provision of "benefits to students" within the meaning of s 51(xxiiiA) of the Constitution.” This ruling prohibited direct payment by the commonwealth to religious chaplain employers including Scripture Union, Access ministries, and Generate ministries. However, not to be outdone, In August 2014 the Abbott government announced that the High Court’s June section 51 ruling would be circumvented by laundering prohibited direct commonwealth payments to the church ministry employers of chaplains via individual states and territories. This would be the same constitutionally “of no benefit to students" chaplain programme as before, except for two disturbing points. Commencing in 2015, employment of non-religious secular youth workers would cease. The commonwealth would completely abandon all previous responsibility for administration and oversight of the National School Chaplaincy Program. Consequently, since January 2015, at a cost of $60M per year, the federally funded National School Chaplaincy Program has exclusively employed religious chaplains and can regularly be observed operating as a fully functional evangelical ministry within Australian public schools. The programme has been allowed to operate completely unfettered by state or federal legislation, without any enforceable constraints, disciplinary procedures, or any form of central guidelines, code of conduct, or complaints process. All responsibility for the administration and oversight of this federally funded and conceived religious programme, has been left to Australia’s individual states and territories, each with their own, often ambiguous policies. And here is the problem. Under the post 2014 arrangement, where individual state and territory chaplain complaint processes exist, schools are encouraged to resolve all grievances at school level, suggesting that resolution be sought between the principal and the school’s chaplaincy employer such as Scripture Union or Access ministries. It is almost impossible for complaints to go beyond this closed loop. This was confirmed in April 2018, when the Guardian reported that since the commonwealth abandoned, apart from funding it, all responsibility for the National School Chaplaincy Programme in 2015: No state has kept records of chaplaincy complaints. No state records the faith or denomination of the thousands of federally funded religious chaplains across Australia. Describing how the current National School Chaplaincy Programme would operate, then Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said on ABC JJJ: “Well, the chaplaincy programme was established under the Howard government as a chaplaincy programme, and Julia Gillard changed it to chaplaincy and social workers or school counsellors. Our view is that school counsellors or social workers should be provided by state and territory governments should they choose to do so, but we want to return the chaplaincy programme to its original intention, which is one that involves a religious element. We think that school counsellors and social workers are properly the responsibility of state governments, and our chaplaincy programme should be exactly what it was supposed to be, which is a chaplaincy programme.” Therefore, if the roles of ‘school counsellor’ and ‘social worker’ are not duties of federally funded religious chaplains, the majority of whom are provided by evangelical church ministry organisations, it could reasonably be concluded that their sole purpose is to be messengers of their faith. Mr Birmingham, as stated above, we strongly suggest that more funding be directed toward states and territories to provide an urgently needed boost to the number of professional *education department-employed social workers, school counsellors, school psychologists, and student guidance staff working tirelessly in our public schools. Surely our children deserve no less.     *Typical mandatory requirements for professional education department employed social workers, school counsellors, psychologists, and student guidance staff: Current full registration or current provisional registration with eligibility for full registration, as a teacher in Queensland.  Information on registration requirements is available at  A minimum of two (2) years full-time, supervised experience working with children and young people in an education, child protection or counselling environment; AND one of the following: One year (minimum) full-time (or part-time equivalent) coursework Masters, majoring in guidance and counselling. OR Full registration as a psychologist through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) Psychology Board or a fourth year qualification in psychology that will enable general registration as a psychologist through the AHPRA Psychology Board following completion of the board approved internship or accredited sequence of study. 

Ron Williams
7,475 supporters
Petitioning Greg Hunt MP, Simon Birmingham MP, Malcolm Turnbull

Make Scoliosis screening compulsory in all Australian schools

Please join me in encouraging the Health and Education Ministers in introducing mandatory scoliosis screening in schools. My name is Leilah, I am 22 and I suffer from scoliosis. Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, and has various degrees of severity. It’s a condition that affects approximately 4% of the population, or 1 in every 25 people. Some people can lead normal lives with scoliosis, but others require alternative treatments like bracing, monitoring and in severe cases - surgery (spinal fusion). This condition particularly develops between the ages of 9 and 16, and females are 10 times more likely to develop the condition. School screening should be made mandatory because early detection has been shown to increase the effectiveness of treatment. This would incur only a small cost to train a staff member at each school to be able to carry out the basic "Forward Bend" test. This condition has affected my life significantly. I feel pain and discomfort every day, and I know many others who have pain associated with the condition. I believe that early intervention would have improved my quality of life. I created this petition to raise awareness and ensure that students are educated about this in the early stages. Having mandatory screening in schools is the perfect solution to target scoliosis at a point in time where treatment is most effective. Currently, there is nothing in place that will educate young people about the signs of scoliosis and what to look out for. This is troublesome because if the condition goes undetected, early treatments, such as back bracing, can be deemed ineffective. Once a young person reaches around 15/16 years of age their spine is often judged to have matured too much for bracing. This happened to me. By the time I was aware of the condition and went to see a specialist, I was told that I brace would not help me as I was too old. This highlights why detecting the condition early is so important. Early detection allows the condition to be properly monitored, and for action to be taken fast if the curve is progressing. Severe curve progression can cause lung and heart damage, as the rib cage is displaced. Surgery is more effective in adolescents as the healing time is reduced, alleviating problems they may face later in life. Please join me in encouraging the Health and Education Ministers in introducing mandatory scoliosis screening in schools.

Leilah Daniel
5,141 supporters
Petitioning Simon Birmingham, Attorney General, Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Stop teachers bullying students and child abuse

My Autistic son was emotionally and physically abused by a NSW special needs teacher. Ending in a visit to the emergency room. Like so many other families. Education department refuse to intervene. In fact she now has permanant job there. My son hasn't attended school since August 11 2016. I found stories of children locked in cages, physically abused, emotionally abused, left outside outside in isolation.  I kept complaining after my Autistic son had to be taken to hospital. Police refused to listen they refuse believe teacher capable of abuse. Instead after I again complained she applied intervention order. My beautiful boy was locked up and now faces charges. At court she asked Avo be varied to he can't attend school, his not to go within 20 metres of her. He won't even leave our house or go outside. You can sign my other petition calling attorney general to drop charges here I am calling for harsher penalties for child abusers.  More powers for human rights commission to investigate and punish those doing the wrong thing. At the moment they are powerless to intervene.  Education department stop transferring these abusers around the state. And remove them from having any contact with children.  I am calling for chief minister Andrew Barr to hold up his promise to stop cover up of child abuse.  Please sign and show our government we do not support child abuse in any form 

Autism parents against abuse
1,241 supporters
Petitioning Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison, Simon Birmingham

Peter Dutton: Allow Asian students to pursue PhD. in Australia, Issue them VISA on time.

Delay in VISA processing for PhD. Applicants from ASIA There are 400 (and more) students who have applied for Australian Student VISA 500 PGR and waiting from past 8 months and more (Check references for proofs). These students from China, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc have put their research career on stake and waiting for the VISA decision. Why is this a problem for students, even after having an option to opt for other countries to pursue their PhD.? Blocked Time: According to the officially published time in DIBP website (official processing time) it takes 2-3 months to get the VISA (for 90% of the applicants). But for Asian students it is highly unlikely that they will get VISA within the published time frames (In past students have had to wait for 8 months or more to obtain a VISA).  Blocked Money: To apply for VISA a student needs to submit VISA fee and OSHC (health cover amount) overall (3000 AUD).  This amount gets blocked for 8 months. In such cases it becomes difficult for a student to apply for PhD. in other countries. Communication with DIBP and other regulatory bodies: Many inquiries have been done by students in past but there is a common response issued by DIBP to each and every student which is: 'We appreciate that you are concerned at the time taken to process your application. Unfortunately, ensuring all the legal requirements are met in relation to an application can take some time. In particular, it can take several months to obtain any necessary health, character and security clearances from other agencies. The timing for the completion of the checks varies from one case to another, depending on individual circumstances. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide you with a definitive timeframe for finalisation of your application.' IGIS Australia again has the similar unsatisfactory reply. Why these replies are unsatisfactory: Because, for a MS student it takes 2 weeks to get the security clearance (MS students get their VISA within 1 month). For a PhD. student in the same country it cannot take 8 months or more.Moreover they are a service provider by taking VISA fee DIBP should provide their services in the published time frame. What should be the compensation for the huge delay in service?What do you think is causing the Delay: From 2016, Australian DIBP has started putting a halt on student VISA processing for Asian students. According to a few reporting agencies its because of increasing population of students in the country and the belief that most of the PhD. students pursue their studies on university scholarships that doesn't contribute to the million dollar market of international students (which is not actually true). Request and Conclusion: We think research plays a vital role in advancement of technology and employment in a country. With the delay Australian government is not only showcasing their bad policies to the the world but also putting a stop on growth and development of Australia. Outcome: We request Australian government to: Mention an accurate turnaround time for the processing of applications on their website along with statistics (region wise) of processed application and the time it took. Please announce decision on VISAs which are waiting for more than 4 months. We want to request to all the educators and researchers out there, to please understand the suffering of students and support us. References:  

Nikhil Arora
172 supporters
Petitioning Senator Simon Birmingham, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Implement Violence Prevention programs in Australian Schools

The recent rape and murder of Eurydice Dixon and the abduction and 5 hour sexual assault of an 11 year old girl in Newcastle during broad daylight highlight a growing epidemic of domestic and sexual violence in Australia. While the majority of domestic and sexual assaults are perpetrated against women, men also fall victim to unacceptable violence. The same way we have anti-bullying programs to prevent bullying, we must implement anti-violence programs in our schools to address these issues.  We shake our heads at America and how they can't seem to acknowledge their gun violence problem. However we have a staggering problem of domestic and sexual violence in Australia which bears a similar oversight.  1 in 6 women and 1 in 16 men have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or previous partner  1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have been sexually assaulted or threatened.  On average 1 woman a week and 1 man a month is killed by a current or former partner. Domestic and sexual violence is an epidemic in Australia that has been ignored for too long.  SO WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP IT? Programs like No Means No Worldwide "believe the key to ending the global rape epidemic is to empower both girls and boys to create a culture of mutual respect." Their 12-hour dual gender curricula "emphasizes interactive verbal skills, role playing and physical training. (They) keep lectures to a minimum and instead teach youth the practical, hands-on tools to speak up, prevent or intervene in an attack." The program is taught to boys and girls between 10-20 years old and has an incredible success rate. "Wherever we teach, the incidence of rape drops by 50%. Girls learn to identify risk, say “no” and talk their way out of trouble. If that “no” is not respected, they also learn physical skills to back it up. Boys learn to challenge rape myths, ask for consent and intervene if they anticipate or witness predatory behavior."  We call on the Australian Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Burmingham, to help us to implement or create a program similar to No Means No Worldwide. This program would address domestic and violence issues at a preventative stage. Given consistent use in all schools across Australia, this program would decrease violence perpetrated against women and men and be a huge step in the right direction to creating a less violent, safer and more respectful Australia.  Sources:

Melissa Hilaire
138 supporters