Regional security dominates Vietnam-Australia talks

Stability and peace in the Asia Pacific, especially in the South China Sea, have dominated talks between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Vietnamese counterpart.


The pair have met in Canberra, the first visit by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung since 2008.

Trade and deeper defence ties were also on the agenda.

The two leaders have signed agreements on a working holidaymaker scheme and combating human trafficking, as well as on peacekeeping and war-legacy issues.

Tony Abbott has described the signing of the comprehensive partnership as a historic moment in relations between the two nations.

Mr Abbott says the visit underscores the strength and breadth of the Australia-Vietnam bilateral relationship.

“The relationship is going from strength to strength. The trade relationship is strong and growing stronger all the time, and it will be very much enhanced should the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations be finalised as we hope sometime later this year. The people-to-people relationship is strong and growing stronger all the time. And in the case of Australia, it is seasoned by the presence of some quarter-of-a-million Australians of Vietnamese heritage who make a marvellous contribution to the life of our country.”

Vietnam is Australia’s fastest-growing trade partner within South-East Asia.

And Australian firms have invested in Vietnam in 230 projects collectively valued at more than billion dollars.

They are mainly in industry, construction, services, agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Mr Dung says the deepening ties between the two nations bode well for the future of the relationship.

“We took stock of the bilateral cooperation between the two countries and agreed that the bilateral relations between Vietnam and Australia are growing very well. Both sides place much importance on strengthening the bilateral cooperation and committed to working closely to further push and deepen the friendship and comprehensive cooperation between our two countries.”

Territorial tensions in the South China Sea were high on the meeting’s agenda.

China claims about 90 per cent of the South China Sea, displaying its reach on official maps with a line stretching deep into the maritime heart of South-East Asia.

That includes seas around Vietnam.

Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to parts of the potentially energy-rich waters crossed by key global shipping lanes.

Mr Dung says he and Mr Abbott discussed greater cooperation between the two nations’ special forces.

And he says they agreed on the need for maritime security and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

“We agreed on the importance of the assurance of peace, stability, maritime security and safety and freedom of navigation and of flight in the South China Sea, in compliance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, (and to) exercise self-restraint and refrain from actions that may escalate the tension in the region, including the use of force to unilaterally change the status quo.”

The South China Sea is one of the busiest shipping routes in the world.

It is becoming increasingly crowded, so any armed conflict between the countries involved would be a disaster for economies in the region.

Mr Abbott says Australia is committed to peace in the region.

“Anything which disturbs that stability is something that we would mutually deplore and mutually work to ensure didn’t happen. We both support freedom of navigation by air and by sea in the South China Sea. We both deplore any unilateral change to the status quo. We both think that disputes should be resolved peacefully, in accordance with international law.”

The meeting also resolved that Vietnamese military forces will train alongside the Australian military.

In all, 120 Vietnamese military personnel will receive training and be involved in joint exercises in Australia.

A small group of vocal protesters gathered outside Parliament House during Mr Dung’s visit to tell him he was not welcome.



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Prince Harry to train in Australia with ADF

(Transcript from World News Radio)

The news of a four week visit to Australia next month by Britain’s Prince Harry has been met with enthusiasm from those in the military and the general public.


The popular Royal figure announced that he will spend a month training with the Australian army in Darwin, Perth and Sydney.

The secondment will precede Prince Harry’s resignation from the military, after a decade in service.

Abby Dinham reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

Known as Captain Harry Wales in the British army, Prince Harry is heading to Australia for his last military tour.

Philip Benwell of the Australian Monarchist League says he expects a warm welcome for the fourth in line to the throne.

“A lot of Australians will be delighted to have him with us, proud to have him with us because he is in many ways a war hero and I think Harry likewise will be delighted to be amongst Australians.”

An Apache helicopter pilot, Harry will quit the British armed forces in June following a decade of military service, and two tours in Afghanistan.

Mr Benwell says his post-military career will take some getting used to.

“It will be a bit of a rough transition but I don’t think by any means there will be much sitting around I think he’ll commence a very active life in the civilian world.”

In a statement, the Prince said he’s at a crossroads of his military career, but is fortunate enough to continue to wear the uniform and mix with fellow servicemen and women for the rest of his life.

He also stated that spending time with the Australian Defence Force will be incredible and he expects to learn a lot.

The Australia Defence Association’s Neil James says Prince Harry will be a valuable temporary asset to the ADF.

“His particular skills as an attack helicopter pilot and we don’t have too many of them with combat experience so it’ll be very handy to pass on that knowledge in particular.”

Prince Harry worked in Queensland as a jackeroo during his gap year in 2003, then two years ago he came out to Sydney to mark the centenary of the Australian navy.

This time he’ll be embedded with the army in Darwin, Perth and Sydney.

Mr James says there will be many benefits of his secondment.

“It’ll work on the professional experience exchange it’ll work to broaden his experience in the Australian military and third the young women of Australia will get a kick for a month or so.”

The Australian Defence Force says it’s prepared a challenging program for the prince – with field training exercises and deployments here – giving plenty of opportunity for Royal followers to catch a glimpse of him.

“Obviously a lot of people would like to have him here.//He works in the military a noble thing to do.//He’s very nice.//Loveable rogue really haha.//He’s a very nice young man but I’m not a royalist.”

The Prince is expected to arrive mid-April.




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Call for better services for culturally-diverse aged

(Transcript from World News Radio)

Australia’s largest migrant community group has launched a report, calling for better health and aged care services for an increasingly culturally-diverse society.


The Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia says migrants who arrive in the country at an older age often struggle to access basic services because of language and cultural barriers.

And as Michael Kenny reports, FECCA has called for the recruitment of more interpreters and bilingual health and aged care workers.

The FECCA study was funded by the federal government, with the research undertaken by the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre at the University of Adelaide.

It draws upon figures from the last census in 2011, when there were 1.3 million Australians aged over 50 from a non English speaking background.

And it forecasts that the number of older Australians from a non English speaking background is expected to grow significantly over coming decades.

The report found some older migrants, especially those with poorer English skills, tend to have poorer health outcomes than other Australians.

The FECCA report also found that many aged care facilities are failing to provide culturally-appropriate care with many failing to provide homeland food or traditional medicine.

FECCA’s Chairman Joe Caputo says aged care needs to be far more responsive to the nation’s cultural diversity.

“Different communities have got different traditions and different ways of going about and caring for older people. So I think the system has to be flexible enough and understanding of the diversity of the communities that are getting older in Australia.”

Joe Caputo says it’s clear from the report that some older Australians from migrant communities prefer to be cared for by family members than in aged care facilities.

He says this is particularly true for migrants from Greece and Italy, but also for those born in countries like China.

“I think that most people would like to stay at home for as long as possible and they would like to have family members assisting them as they are getting older or getting frail and I think policy-makers can ensure that we put more resources into ensuring that people can stay at home, either looking after themselves or assisting family members who are looking after older people.”

FECCA says one of the greatest health challenges confronting many older Australians from a non English speaking background is dementia.

The report forecasts that the number of migrant dementia sufferers is set to grow from 35,000 in 2010 to 120,000 by 2050.

Pino Migliorino is the Chairman of the National Cross Cultural Dementia Network for Alzheimers Australia.

He says many dementia sufferers from a non English speaking background revert back to their first language, and often need extra support from bilingual health workers or interpreters.

Mr Migliorino says it is also critical for policy-makers to work alongside migrant communities to overcome some cultural stigma around dementia.

“It is an issue for them because what happens is the phenomena tends to be that it’s hidden. It tends to not be presented or people aren’t presenting with dementia until far later in the dementia course and at that point, services are far harder to actually access. There’s also the sense of community shame and sensitivity. So we really do need to work with the communities around dementia.”

The FECCA report also highlights the changing cultural make-up of Australia’s older population.

It predicts that older migrants from China, Vietnam and India are likely to outnumber those from Greece and Italy over coming decades.

Adelaide-based Rosa Colanero is the Chief Executive Officer of Multicultural Aged Care.

She believes the current aged care system is not keeping pace with the changing cultural-make up of the population and is failing to provide enough bilingual workers.

“The Vietnamese, the Chinese and the Indians of the future- they are the emerging communities, particularly the Chinese and the Indians and we will need an aged care service or aged care services that are able to deliver culturally appropriate care to them.”


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Aid effort for Vanuatu intensifies

(Transcript from World News Australia)

Australia has stepped up its aid mission to Vanuatu – with dozens of emergency services personnel flying to Port Vila this afternoon.


Government and humanitarian agencies are working to assess the full extent of the damage – so a longer-term strategy to deal with the disaster can be put in place.

Helen Isbister reports.

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

On a mission to assist in cyclone ravaged Vanuatu, a 54-strong taskforce, comprising fire and police officers, paramedics, doctors and engineers, flew out of Richmond Air base in Sydney today.

Greg Mullins is the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue New South Wales

“The bulk of the team – fire and rescue officers of whom have had experience in Japan, Christchurch Indonesia and Solomon Islands, so they’re very experienced rescue personnel.”

They’ll focus on repairing critical infrastructure, like the severely-damaged old Port Vila Hospital.

With several tonnes of equipment, including tents, drinking water, food and generators, the team can be self sufficient for up to two weeks.

Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop says their focus will be on providing immediate aid to the ravaged region.

“Our urban search and rescue teams are highly experienced – tragically they have had a lot of experience in this type of work. Our interest is in ensuring the immediate humanitarian needs are met – that life saving measures are put in place and at the same time, we’re then focussing on the clean-up effort.”

Health Minister Susan Ley gave details of an additional medical assistance team of 20 personnel, who are scheduled to arrive in Port Vila tomorrow.

“This team is made of doctors, nurses, paramedics, a radiographer, pharmacist – and all together will take our total health deployment to 27. The team will work within the new wing of the existing hospital and with local staff to provide general practise and emergency care shifts.

At Amberley Airforce base in Brisbane today two more military aircraft took off, packed with personnel and supplies.

Aside from delivering immediate aid – a more complex operation is underway to assess how the disaster should be tackled in the medium to longer future.

It’s a collaborative effort involving the government and humanitarian organisations.

Peter Walton is the head of the international program at the Australian Red Cross.

“We’re in the very early stages and it’s going to cost many millions of dollars to actually assist vanuatu in rebuilding their economy, in rebuilding their society. It’s important to also realised that many other countries in the Pacific are dealing with quite extreme weather at the moment and we need to be taking a long-term view.”

Some of Vanuatu’s neighbours also rallying to help.

At UNICEF’s Pacific regional warehouse in Fiji’s capital, Suva, volunteers worked through the night, packing thousands of items for immediate health and education needs.

Soap, zinc tablets, de-worming tablets, collapsible water tanks, backpacks and stationary supplies were among the kits flown out to Vanuatu today.

Australians continued to stream back home today.

Relieved to be back with loved ones, but thoughts very much with those left behind.

“If anyone has any time for them, or money, time to go over there – then they should do that … because it’s practically no longer.”….”We are just urging everyone over here to just try and donate, to get like – the destruction around our hotel was intese. You know, massive trees uprooted. It’s crazy.”

The Royal Australian Air Force evacuated 199 from Vanuatu to Brisbane late yesterday

Commercial flights are now operating again – but military planes remain on standby to assist in evacutions as required.



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Eagle Lamb in line for early AFL debut

West Coast young gun Tom Lamb is firming for a round-one AFL debut as the Eagles sweat on the fitness of Mitch Brown and Will Schofield heading into their season opener against the Western Bulldogs.


Lamb, the No.32 pick from last year’s national draft, has played all four matches during the pre-season, with his speed and silky touch at ground level impressing coaching staff.

The 193cm forward tallied 13 possessions and a goal in Sunday’s 19-point loss to Fremantle, and the early-season absence of Jack Darling provides Lamb with the perfect opportunity to nail down a spot in the attacking half.

Coach Adam Simpson said he’s yet to decide whether to hand the Dyson Heppell lookalike a debut for the April 4 clash with the Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.

“The early signs are pretty good. He seems to have adapted pretty well to the intensity,” Simpson said.

“He’s still going to make some errors, but we’ve got to have a bit of patience.

“We also don’t want to rush him straight in. There’s another level to go to for round one. But we’ll review the game and see how he worked off the ball.”

Key defenders Brown (hamstring) and Schofield (ankle) were rested from Sunday’s match as a precaution, leaving Elliot Yeo to man Matthew Pavlich for most of the contest.

Yeo did an admirable job against the Fremantle skipper, while Jeremy McGovern also relished the extra responsibility in defence.

But with Eric Mackenzie (knee) out for the season, the Eagles desperately need Schofield and Brown back to bolster the defence.

Simpson is optimistic both will return against the Bulldogs, although he admits their injury-hit pre-seasons aren’t ideal.

“We’ve had to work on some issues with our back half,” Simpson said in reference to the injury toll.

“So in that sense we haven’t quite nailed that yet.

“Overall the health of our list is the most important thing. We think we’re in a pretty good space.”

Simpson said there was a chance both Schofield and Brown would feature in the WAFL this week.

Ruckman Nic Naitanui is ready to go for round one after producing a solid display against Fremantle in his first match of the pre-season.

Naitanui, who battled back tightness last month, tallied 12 possessions and 13 hit-outs, while Scott Selwood collected 24 disposals in a strong return from an ankle injury.

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