One in five boys in year 3 have an emotional or behavioural problem, according to new research. Photo: Virginia StarOne in five boys in year 3 have an emotional or behavioural problem that sees them lag a year behind their peers in reading and numeracy, according to research that stresses the mental health of young people needs to be a focus in primary schools.
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The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute study looked at common emotional and behavioural problems and academic performance in more than 1000 eight and nine-year-old children.

The research found about one in five boys and one in seven girls had at least borderline emotional and behavioural problems.

Boys with emotional and behavioural difficulties – 20 per cent of the sample- were 12 months behind their peers in both reading and numeracy, based on data from NAPLAN tests.

The study’s lead author, Lisa Mundy, said it was unlikely increasing academic pressure was causing emotional and behavioural problems, which were more common in secondary school.

“A more likely explanation is that mental health and behavioural problems are directly contributing to poor academic performance, possibly through reduced attention to school work or school absence,” Dr Mundy said.

“Children with emotional and behavioural problems are at high risk for academic failure. This risk is evident in mid-primary school.”

Previous research showed that children with behaviour problems tended to struggle at school but this was the first study to show that boys with emotional problems were also falling behind in their learning, according to the authors.

For girls with emotional and behavioural difficulties, the results were more modest but peer problems were associated with lower numeracy scores for girls.

“Our findings that emotional and behavioral problems are associated with poorer academic performance after only three full years of school carry further significant implications for school policies,” the report, published in the Journal of School Health, said. “Social and emotional skills are increasingly seen as important for educational achievement.

“Taking steps to prevent the onset of emotional and behavioral problems in children and responding effectively to those with visible problems are likely to bring multiple further benefits, including educational, for children in primary school.”

The study said the major focus of many mental health initiatives in school had been with adolescents in secondary school.

“The current study suggests we will need to begin these efforts earlier to optimise education achievement, reduce rates of later mental disorder and ultimately improve the quality of life of many children,” the report said.

Senior author George Patton said the mid-primary school years were a time when emotional and behavioural problems commonly emerged and these were often the precursor to health problems in adolescence and adulthood.

Professor Patton said it was increasingly clear that students would not reach their academic potential unless schools also promoted the social and emotional development of students.

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Vodafone is entering the fixed-line market for the first time with a range of NBN products, as the government corrals industry and regulators together to try and improve customer experiences on the national broadband network.
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General manager of broadband at Vodafone, Matthew Lobb, said the company will gradually connect into all of NBN Co’s points of interconnect in coming years. Initially its product will only be available in the east coast cities of Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Geelong, Newcastle and Wollongong.

“Customers want simple and straightforward plans that are relevant to their use of technology,” Mr Lobb said.

“As a first for a major telecommunication company, we’ll be providing bonus mobile data rather than insisting customers receive an outdated, plain old fixed telephony service”.

Vodafone says it will test the speeds available on a customer’s line within the first two weeks to ensure higher speeds are possible. And it will not actively market the lowest speed tier of 12 megabits per second (Mbps), for which it charges at least $70 per month on a two-year contract.

All the plans will have unlimited data and range in price from $80 to $110.

Vodafone will drive customers to its product by inviting “thousands” of customers who sign up early and offering three months free broadband if they help test-drive the new fixed service.

Vodafone will buy directly from NBN Co and has already announced plans to re-sell to Kogan so it too can offer NBN services.

“Over the past year Vodafone has listened to what many Australians who have connected to the old DSL services or the NBN have had to say about their experience,” Mr Lobb said.

“People are feeling frustrated with the connection process, underwhelmed by the products and information they were provided when they signed up, and are confused about the speed options on offer.”

Vodafone has already announced it will provide customers with a modem that defaults to its 4G mobile network if NBN’s fixed service is delayed or broken.

Meanwhile the Communications Minister Mitch Fifield is trying to find ways to reduce customer complaints about the government-owned network, which nearly every household will be forced onto in coming years.

Senator Fifield hosted a forum on Tuesday between major telcos and industry peak bodies, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

His office released a statement saying “the industry has committed to tackling the key migration issues for consumers including confusing information, handballing customer complaints, lead times for connections and rescheduled appointments.”

On Monday the ACCC released new industry advertising guidelines cracking down on excessive speed claims and forcing telcos to provide average speed data to consumers. The government has also asked the ACMA to use its information gathering powers to find out how widespread problems NBN connection problems are.

“Internet retailers, NBN and Government will continue to work together over the coming months to make more changes that will ensure the processes for switching to the NBN better cater to consumers’ needs,” the Minister’s office stated.

The forum will report back within three months.

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If you’ve already dropped a small fortune on architectural plans for a new house, it might be tempting to try to score some mates rates off that friend of a friend who’s a builder to save a few dollars. But beware: it could cost you in the long run.
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Architects and builders agree, it’s probably for the best to work with your architect’s preferred builder, or vice versa.

Brisbane architectural builder Rob Gray of Graya Constructions said it also made for a better finished product, as well as saving money and time.

“All the high-end builders are highly passionate about they do and love what they do and they want to get the detail right every time,” Mr Gray said.

His team recently completed a home in Plunkett Street, Paddington, which he said came out almost exactly like the architectural renders. Mr Gray attributed the success, in part, to the relationship he had with the architect.

Award-winning architect Tim Stewart said he often recommended going with a specific builder to his clients.

“It inevitably makes the process smoother because we can understand the way they like to do things and we can detail it to the way they like to do things from the start,” he said. “We work on the same page from the beginning.”

So how does that save you money? Architectural builders are some of the most expensive in the market, right? Related: Landmark Ipswich home to go under the hammerRelated: Some of Canberra’s best sustainably designed homesRelated: Aussies on verge of mortgage crisis

Not necessarily, according to David Moses of Sydney construction company Horizon, who said working with an architectural builder offered clients a more realistic appraisal of the cost of bringing an architect’s plans to life.

“A lot of people make the mistake of not finding out whether their design aligns with their expectations of the timeframe or cost,” Mr Moses said.

Attempting to find another builder who can do it cheaper can result in disappointment, award-winning architecture firm, MCK Architects said.

MCK principal Steve Koolloos said managing a client’s expectations was an important part of the design process. “We are increasingly engaging with both prospective client and builder, as early in the process as possible, so no one ends up being disappointed,” he said.

Getting your mate to build the plans may look cheaper to begin with, but Mr Gray said it often meant the builder who ended up with the project wouldn’t be fully aware of the what the build would require and the client’s expectations.

“There’s a lot of hidden traps in an architect’s plans and if they don’t have that relationship, it will be a bit harder,” he said.

Mr Gray argued there would be some unintended consequences if you decided to change the plans to save some cash, too.

“If an architect designs a set of plans and you go and grab those plans and give them to an average builder and change a few things because it’ll be cheaper and easier to build, it might say in their contract they can remove their name from the project and you also can’t talk to the person who designed your house.”

“It can be fully at the cost of the homeowner if they’ve taken that path.

“You waive that portion of the service and you lose the value of saying that that architect drew up your house.”

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25 Hedges Avenue, Mermaid BeachGetting into beachfront real estate on the Gold Coast just got harder.
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This very original 1970s beach house may look like your average suburban home but this week it changed hands for an eye-watering $6.5 million.

Proving it’s anything but ordinary, 25 Hedges Avenue, Mermaid Beach was snapped up by a mystery buyer in an off-market deal brokered by Michael Kollosche of Kollosche Prestige Agents.

While the house may not look $6.5 million, it’s all about the location – set on Mermaid Beach’s Millionaire’s Row, it happens to be positioned on a stretch of beachfront that is quickly becoming priced out of most people’s reach, including cashed-up Sydney and Melbourne buyers.

But if you think 15 metres of absolute beach frontage on a 607-square-metre block is expensive now, $6.5 million is going to look cheap in no time, Mr Kollosche says.

“There’s still a lot of forward growth in these assets,” he says. “People will be looking back on these prices in two years time saying that these prices were such good value.

“The Mermaid Beach market is very tightly held and so property prices are performing stronger and stronger, month on month,” Mr Kollosche says.

Earlier this year, 25 Hedges Avenue made headlines when a local buyer pulled out of a contract, forfeiting their $100,000 deposit in the process. Related: Chinese buyers on Gold Coast spreeRelated: What’s behind the Gold Coast boomRelated: Nearly $7 million profit in two years

They then went 600 metres up the street and bought a vacant block at 127 Hedges Avenue for $6.3 million instead.

A new buyer came forward not long after, despite the property having been taken off the market, quickly making an offer and the deal settled this week.

Not surprisingly, the new owners plan to demolish the two-level brick house to make way for a brand new multimillion-dollar beach mansion, which they will eventually make their principal place of residence.

Land on the beachfront is at a premium, even more so than existing houses, Mr Kollosche says.

David Henderson, one of the owners of 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente, recently reduced the price of his sprawling beachfront mansion at 187-191 Hedges Avenue to $16,995,000.

It was previously listed at nearly $20 million and so far hasn’t found a buyer, however Mr Kollosche believes properties like this, which cost Henderson $13.65 million for the land alone, will be worth $30 million in the near future.

“Smart buyers will move in on properties like that because it represents excellent value,” he says. “The number of buyers does narrow as you go up in price but it’s worth waiting.”

Domain Group chief economist Andrew Wilson says the Gold Coast has now surged ahead of Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast.

“It’s clearly out on its own ??? We’ve got the Gold Coast up around about 8 per cent on a year-on-year basis at the moment, while Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast are about 4 to 5 per cent,” he says.

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Then prime minister Gough Whitlam at Trades Hall, Sydney in 1974 with future prime minister Bob Hawke. Whitlam brought economists into his administration, while the advice of experts guided economic policy during Hawke’s leadership in the 1980s. Photo: Rick StevensAustralia has just assumed the mantle of the longest unbroken period of economic growth in modern world economic history. And New Zealand is doing even better when it comes to keeping the budget in the black. You might say that each performance is the result of successful economic policies, but what of the influence of university economists?
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Most Australians, despite having a healthy appetite for economic news and living in a country where economic policy has a strong influence on nation-building, take a rather dim view of academic economists. Earlier the Australian historian WK Hancock once remarked that “the Australians have always assumed that economic problems are simple, and have resented those classifications and rewards which suggest that some men have a higher class of intelligence than those of the majority.” In that light Hancock observed that “Australians have always disliked scientific economics (still more) scientific economists.” In his book Australian Hopes and Fears (1958) Colin Clark, who had been isolated by the local economic profession for his iconoclastic views, quoted a comment by French geographer Andre Siegfried that “A mystery broods over this continent; and it will not be the economists who will resolve it for us.” Nearly sixty years on, Australian economists have solved that mystery.

Australian politics became more enlightened when prime ministers and treasurers, from Whitlam’s time onward, began to place academic economists within their private offices. In Whitlam’s case his administration was replete with academic economists. One of them, ANU economist Fred Gruen, infamously advised for the 25 per cent tariff cut of 1973 as an anti-inflationary measure. Another ANU economist Sir John Crawford drew up the blueprint for what would become the Industries Assistance Commission, now known as the Productivity Commission. Such was the number of university economists recruited by the Whitlam government that one university economist joked that there could be a study on “The economic consequences of economists”. In the 1980s the ANU again offered academic wisdom with Ross Garnaut and Peter Drysdale offering strong leads on promoting engagement with Asia. Bruce Chapman designed a viable way of funding universities and opening up pathways for more young people. Bob Gregory told Australians about how mineral resource booms would stretch, distort but ultimately benefit the economy.

Across the ditch in New Zealand, academic economics was not so penetrative. Prime Minister Robert Muldoon exerted a formidable presence on the economic landscape until 1984. He had little time for economists and dismissed economic theory with his remark “We can do without the disruption of academic theories which, because they are non-specific, seem to make sense until they are applied specifically to the real world.” In another instance, he spoke of having “no intention of letting efficient industries go to the wall for the sake of a theory.” He was emphatic that homespun, do-it-yourself-economics was best and felt that economics was little else than common sense. Big mistake! Muldoon was to leave the economy in a shattered condition, worse than he had inherited and forcing the need for radical restructuring.

We are now living through an era in which expertise is increasingly mistrusted. The outcome of last year’s Brexit referendum and the recent US presidential election convinced many observers that popular sentiment is superior to expert opinion. During the debate on Brexit one Tory politician, Michael Gove, urging the Leave case, declared “People in this country have had enough of experts???saying they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.” It now appears though that the experts are being proved right with the Governor of the Bank of England saying Britain is heading for “a lost decade”. Sometimes democratic rights and economic illiteracy make things worse. In Australia, too, we now tend to shun university economists as out of touch know-alls. Yet, apart from the Whitlam and Hawke years there have been occasions in Australasian history, especially during the Depression of the 1930s and during the war years, when the recommendations of academic economists have made significant contributions to national prosperity. We should not forget the role of the long-time Governor of the Reserve Bank, Nugget Coombs, who led the crusade for an international Keynesianism which would make things easier for dependent, primary produce exporting countries like Australia.

In the postwar period both Australia and New Zealand rigorously censored what people could read and watch right up until the early 1970s. And it could be said that another form of censorship applied to the adoption of international economic doctrine and practice. Both countries, especially New Zealand, had import licensing from 1938 till the 1980s. Such was the inward-looking nature of both the Australian and New Zealand economies that they missed the post-war trade boom because of their protectionism.

It was in the 1960s that the first stirrings of a new economic model took hold in the tea-rooms of Australian university economics departments; that is to move their economics from a cost plus price structure to a flexi-one, from a closed economy to an open economy. It was a movement long in the making. At a conference on economic growth in 1962, Clark told his Australian colleagues how he felt sorry for them for having to teach “the current of popular protectionist sentiment” saying they had “avoided the unpleasant task of having to educate public opinion out of its prejudices.” He prophesied – correctly – that with all this neglect, Australian economists “are going to have to work extremely hard, and face a good deal of unpopularity, to catch up with their duty of educating public opinion.” This Australian economists did, but it took some doing. Max Corden of the ANU and a gathering of economists from Monash University spearheaded that campaign. Of course, some argue that it was not economic ideas that brings about change but the power of events. Possibly true, but as Keynes reminded us, it is ideas that rule in the long run. It is ideas that live on long after their originator has expired.

Alex Millmow is an associate professor at Federation Business School. His latest book A History of Australasian Economic Thought has just been published by Routledge.

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