Good afternoon, here are the latest weekly developments on the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. This is Naaman Zhou and it’s Friday 19 June.
Unemployment rises: women and youth worst affected
Australia’s unemployment rate rose 0.7 percentage points to 7.1% as the Reserve Bank released its data for May. That means Australia lost a further 227,000 jobs between April and May.
Women lost 52% of those jobs, and 45% were lost by young people (15-24). Overall the youth unemployment rate rose to 16.1%. The overall underutilisation rate, which combines unemployment and underemployment rates for all ages, rose to a new record high of 20.2%.
Humanities degree costs to double
The cost of studying humanities subjects such as history or philosophy will double from next year under a proposal from the government. The education minister, Dan Tehan, announced on Friday that fees would drastically change as demand for university places from graduating year 12 students would rise from 133,000 in 2019 to 154,000 in 2021.
A humanities degree will cost more than a medicine degree, rising from $6,804 a year to $14,500. A law degree will rise from $11,355 a year to $14,500. The cost of languages, maths, nursing and other degrees will fall.
SA and NT border openings announced
A swag of states this week announced border reopenings, or criticised other states for excluding them. At midnight on Tuesday South Australia said it would immediately lift the quarantine restrictions for people from Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. It added Queensland on Friday. People from NSW and Victoria will have to wait until 20 July, which sparked a war of words with the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews.
The Northern Territory announced on Thursday it would reopen to all domestic travellers on 17 July.
Victoria records 72 new cases
The number of Covid-19 cases has risen by 72 since Monday in Victoria, more than any other state. On Wednesday it recorded 21 new cases, the biggest increase in more than a month. It logged 12 new cases on Monday, nine on Tuesday, 21 on Wednesday, 18 on Thursday and 12 on Friday.
Restrictions are still scheduled to ease in Victoria on Monday, with gyms, cinemas, indoor sports centres and concert venues to reopen, and the patron limit for cafes, restaurants and pubs rising from 20 to 50.
Covidsafe app works one in four times
The Covidsafe contact tracing app works as few as one in every four times, documents tabled in the Senate have revealed.
In response to questions from Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick, the digital transformation agency revealed that two locked iPhones had only between 0% to 25% chance of connecting when the app launched initially.
Arts support package agreed
The government agreed to a support package for the arts and entertainment industries on Thursday night, with more details to come.
The expenditure review committee of cabinet signed off on the support package which will consider assistance with touring costs and a grants fund.
350 international students to return to uni
Up to 350 international students will be able to return to university after the federal government and the ACT government approved a plan to bring them in on a charter flight.
The plan applies only to the Australian National University and the University of Canberra, and will give preference to postgraduate students, honours students or students enrolled in the final year of their undergraduate degree. Students will still undergo the required two weeks of compulsory quarantine in hotels under a cost-sharing arrangement between the universities and the ACT government.
Nurses union says government mishandled coronavirus in aged care
The Australian Nurses and Midwifery Federation said the Australian government mishandled Covid-19 in nursing homes, in a submission to the Senate’s coronavirus inquiry.
The union also warned that $750m of extra funding would be pocketed by providers rather than spent on patients.
‘Not every job can be saved,’ Morrison says
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said on Monday that the government couldn’t “save” every job and would need to be “extremely cautious about expenditure” in a sign it was preparing to withdraw economic support set up at the height of the pandemic.
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