24 May 2017


‘Mental disorders among college students in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys’ by R. P. Auerbach, J. Alonso, W. G. Axinn, P. Cuijpers, D. D. Ebert, J. G. Green, I. Hwang11,R. C. Kessler, H. Liu, P. Mortier, M. K. Nock, S. Pinder-Amaker, N. A. Sampson,S. Aguilar-Gaxiola, A. Al-Hamzawi, L. H. Andrade, C. Benjet, J. M. Caldas-de-Almeida, K. Demyttenaere, S. Florescu, G. de Girolamo, O. Gureje, J. M. Haro, E. G. Karam, A. Kiejna, V. Kovess-Masfety, S. Lee, J. J. McGrath, S.O’Neill, B.-E. Pennell, K. Scott, M. ten Have, Y. Torres, A. M. Zaslavsky, Z. Zarkov and R. Bruffaerts in (2016) 46 Psychological Medicine 2955–2970 comments
Although mental disorders are significant predictors of educational attainment throughout the entire educational career, most research on mental disorders among students has focused on the primary and secondary school years. The World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys were used to examine the associations of mental disorders with college entry and attrition by comparing college students (n= 1572) and non-students in the same age range(18–22 years; n= 4178), including non-students who recently left college without graduating (n= 702) based on surveys in 21countries (four low/lower-middle income, five upper-middle-income, one lower-middle or upper-middle at the times of two different surveys, and 11 high income). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence and age-of-onset of DSM-IV anxiety, mood, behavioral and substance disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). One-fifth (20.3%) of college students had 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI disorders; 83.1% of these cases had pre-matriculation onsets. Disorders with pre-matriculation onsets were more important than those with post-matriculation onsets in predicting subsequent college attrition, with substance disorders and, among women, major depression the most important such disorders. Only 16.4% of students with 12-month disorders received any 12-month healthcare treatment for their mental disorders. Mental disorders are common among college students, have onsets that mostly occur prior to college entry, in the case of pre-matriculation disorders are associated with college attrition, and are typically untreated. Detection and effective treatment of these disorders early in the college career might reduce attrition and improve educational and psychosocial functioning.
 The authors state that
Although prevalence (Costello et al.2005; Merikangas et al. 2009) and treatment (Fazel et al. 2014a,b) of mental disorders among elementary and secondary school students has been the subject of considerable attention, less is known about mental disorder prevalence or treatment among college students other than in the USA (Eisenberg et al. 2007; Blancoet al. 2008; Choet al. 2015; Kendler et al. 2015; Mojtabaiet al. 2015). We know somewhat more about the associations of early-onset mental disorders with significant reductions in subsequent educational attainment (Kessler et al.1995; Fergusson & Horwood,1998; Johnson et al.1999;Miechet al.1999; Woodward & Fergusson, 2001; Fergusson & Woodward,2002; Fletcher,2008; Lee et al. 2009; Mojtabai et al.2015), but this work is limited by either being based on small restricted samples or by being subject to long-term recall bias. Given the importance of an educated workforce for the human capital potential of a country, it would be valuable to know more about five questions. First, what is the prevalence of mental disorders among college students? Second, what proportion of those disorders had onsets prior to college entry? Third, to what extent are disorders with pre-matriculation onsets associated with college entry? Fourth, what is the relative importance of disorder with pre-matriculation and post-matriculation onsets in predicting college attrition? Fifth, what proportion of college students with mental disorders receives treatment? We address these five questions using data from community epidemiological surveys carried out in 21different countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative.

23 May 2017

Telco Access

The Commonwealth Ombudsman's report Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 — Commonwealth Ombudsman’s monitoring of agency access to stored communications and telecommunications data—Report for 2015-16 presents the results of inspections conducted by the Commonwealth Ombudsman under s 186B of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (Cth) from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.

Under the Act, 20 specified law enforcement agencies are able to lawfully access individual’s telecommunications data and/or stored communications when investigating certain offences.

The report states
Telecommunications data, or ‘metadata’, is information about a communication. Metadata does not include the contents of a communication. In the example of a phone call, metadata may include the phone numbers of the two parties to the conversation, the duration, date and time of that phone call but not what was said. Any of the 20 specified agencies have the power to authorise access to this information. If, however, an agency wishes to access metadata that will identify a journalist’s information source, the agency must apply to an external issuing authority for a warrant.
Stored communications are communications that have already occurred and are stored on a carrier’s systems. An example of this would be a Short Messaging Service (SMS) that has been sent to or from a person’s mobile phone, and would include the contents of that message. An agency must apply to an external issuing authority for a warrant to access stored communications.
Before a warrant is issued, however, an agency may authorise the ‘preservation’ of a stored communication, to prevent a carrier from destroying the communication before it can be accessed under a warrant.
These are covert and intrusive powers, given to agencies for the purposes of combating crime and protecting our community.
The fact that these powers are exercised covertly is the reason why oversight is so important. A person who has been subject to the powers will not be aware of the fact, and therefore, will not be in a position to make a complaint. Instead, the Ombudsman provides independent oversight by conducting inspections at each agency that has exercised these powers. At these inspections, we assess whether agencies are compliant with legislation and whether they have used these powers in line with the spirit of the legislation.
The purpose of oversight is to provide assurance to Parliament and the wider public that agencies are using these powers as Parliament intended. That is, that these powers are not being abused and that agencies are being held accountable for their use. We report our findings to agencies and the Commonwealth Attorney General, who must then make the report public.
It is reassuring to note that overall, agencies are appropriately exercising their powers to access stored communications and have frameworks in place to ensure appropriate access to metadata. It was evident that agencies are committed to compliance and want to ‘get it right’.
During an inspection, there may be a range of issues identified, including minor administrative errors, instances of serious non-compliance and systemic issues. The Ombudsman may make suggestions for improvement or may make formal recommendations in instances where an issue has not been addressed by the agency, or if it is sufficiently serious. Of the 36 inspections conducted under the Act during 2015-16, only three recommendations were made. Ultimately, all agencies have been responsive to the Ombudsman’s findings.
Access to metadata
Overseeing access to metadata is a new function for the Ombudsman. Agencies have accessed metadata for a number of years without external oversight, which means that each agency already had policies and procedures in place.
As this was the first time agencies would be scrutinised on how they managed and used this power, during 2015-16 the Ombudsman focused on understanding the policies and procedures already in place at each agency. Due to the varying size, structure, nature and complexity of each agency, processes varied. In taking all of this into account, we were able to work with each agency to identify individual strengths and risks for non-compliance with the Act.
As a result of our 2015-16 inspections, we found that agencies had mostly sound policies and procedures in place for accessing metadata. Although each agency faced its own challenges, we identified some common areas of risk for all agencies, including:
ï‚· the level of involvement and support from senior leadership
ï‚· the timeliness and comprehensiveness of training given to those exercising metadata powers
ï‚· the effectiveness of internal communications within an agency to raise awareness of relevant changes and share best practices.
Overall, agencies demonstrated a strong commitment to comply with the Act. Agencies were open to feedback and willing to improve their processes. This was particularly evident in the lead-up to inspections, with significant engagement from most agencies with the Ombudsman.
Access to stored communications
The Ombudsman has performed an oversight role in relation to access to stored communications since 2006. This is the Ombudsman’s first public report on the results of these inspections.
As a result of the 2015-16 inspections, most agencies were compliant with the Act. However, we identified non-compliances in relation to various record keeping provisions and adherence to warrant conditions and restrictions. All agencies were ultimately receptive to our current and previous findings and best practice suggestions.


The national Government has announced its response to the review of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which "found the ACMA has generally performed its regulatory role efficiently and well over the last ten years" but - cue the standard wording - "reform is needed to ensure the ACMA can respond effectively to the challenges of the future communications environment".

 That responsiveness unsurprisingly further aligns ACMA and its mission with dominant market players.

The review was
completed by the Department of Communications and the Arts and supported by a reference group of Australian and international communications and regulatory experts. 
The Government "supports or supports-in-principle all 27 of the recommendations of the review". The reforms will
redesign the governance arrangements for the regulator and provide for greater transparency, accountability and responsiveness of the regulator’s day-to-day and strategic activities. Implementation of these changes is already underway. A restructured governance model will provide for a minimum of five full-time members including the Chair and Deputy Chair, along with clear skill-set and expertise requirements. This will ensure that the ACMA is equipped for the complex task of regulating a dynamic and increasingly integrated communications sector. 
The Minister states
A Ministerial Statement of Expectations will address issues such as transparency, accountability and the nature of the relationship between the ACMA, the Government and industry operators. Providing the ACMA with a clearer description of performance expectations of its regulatory role will support better outcomes for industry and consumers. Regulator principles will also be incorporated in the Statement to provide guidance to the ACMA on how it should approach its regulatory role. 
Recommendations are as follows
 1 That the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) remit cover all the layers of the communications market, including infrastructure, transport, devices, content and applications. Supported
2 That the ACMA’s cybersecurity programs, where appropriate, be transferred, along with staff and funding to the Attorney‑General’s Department (AGD). Supported
3 That the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research assume the lead in taking forward research about the emerging environment and market trends, with the ACMA’s regulatory research program focusing on supporting the effectiveness of regulatory functions and harms that are affecting businesses and consumers. Supported
4 That the Department of Communications and the Arts be responsible for head of delegation roles to key international policy‑setting forums, including the World Radiocommunications Conference, and that clear guidance and negotiating parameters be provided by the Department to heads of delegation. Supported
5 That further work be undertaken to determine whether it may be more efficient for another body, such as the Australian Taxation Office, to undertake the revenue collection functions currently performed by the ACMA. Supported
6 That, within the next 12 months, the ACMA examine whether some or all of the following functions can be referred to industry for self‑regulation, in consultation with relevant industry bodies:
◾Technical Standards
◾Integrated Public Number Database (IPND)
◾Do Not Call Register (DNCR)
◾Action on unsolicited communications, including Spam. The ACMA regularly explore further opportunities for self‑regulation in consultation with industry. Supported
7 That the Department will undertake further work on the potential to expand the ACMA’s remit to include the functions of the Classification Board and Classification Review Board Scheme. Supported
8 That the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IG Act) be amended to require the ACMA to:
◾Handle all complaints relating to interactive gambling services and advertisements
◾Conduct the same investigation process irrespective of whether the content is hosted in Australia or overseas
◾Enforce civil penalties for breaches of the Act. Supported
9 That the current institutional arrangements for economic regulation of the communications sector be retained. Supported
10 That cross‑appointment arrangements between the ACMA and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) be strengthened in order to benefit both ACMA and ACCC decision‑making. Supported
11 That the current institutional arrangements for communications consumer protections be retained. Supported
12 That as a priority as future reform is undertaken, the Government provide the ACMA with a clear set of overarching policy objectives to guide its decision-making. Supported
13 That the commission model of decision-making be retained. Supported
14 That the skill set to be collectively covered by Authority members be outlined in legislation to ensure an appropriate and diverse mix of abilities to respond to the future needs of the ACMA. Supported
15 That all members of the Authority be appointed on a full‑time basis and that the Authority consist of a Chair, a Deputy Chair and at least three other full‑time members. Supported in principle (Government supports full-time Chair, full-time Deputy Chair, three full-time members while retaining flexibility to appoint additional members on a part-time basis)
16 That the existing arrangements are maintained where the Chair is the Accountable Authority with an ability to delegate powers, duties and functions, to the extent permitted by the PGPA Act, to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Supported
17 That provision be made in the ACMA Act for the Authority to establish sub‑boards consisting of experts who could provide advice to the Authority or a Division of the Authority on specific areas of activity. The Chair of any such sub‑boards be a member of the Authority but not be the Chair of the Authority. Supported
18 Legislate the following four regulator principles in the ACMA’s enabling legislation, proposed draft:
◾The ACMA have regard to the importance of promoting competition, innovation and efficient investment
◾The ACMA should apply a risk-based approach to regulation, compliance and enforcement activities. Regulatory intervention should be targeted, evidence-based and commensurate with risk
◾The ACMA should implement continuous review of regulation to reduce burden and streamline approaches where the benefits exceed the costs
◾The ACMA should be timely and transparent in its actions and clearly indicate the priorities and objectives which inform its decision-making to regulated entities and the broader public. Supported in principle (rather than legislation, action in Minister’s Statement of Expectations to ACMA)
19 That the Minister provide the ACMA with an annual Statement of Expectations and the ACMA respond by publishing a Statement of Intent outlining how it will seek to deliver on the Government’s expectations. Supported
20 That the Minister provide the ACCC with an annual Statement of Expectations and the ACCC respond by publishing a Statement of Intent outlining how it will seek to deliver on the Government’s expectations. Supported
21 That timeliness of decision‑making be established as a key area of focus and accountability for future cycles of the ACMA’s regulator performance framework and Government consider legislative amendment to support more timely decision-making, where necessary. Supported
22 That the ACMA publish information on the steps it takes to ensure stakeholders have a clear understanding of the relationship between its actions and its compliance and enforcement policy. Supported
23 That the ACMA publish a report to the Minister every two years on initiatives undertaken to identify and reduce regulatory burden on industry and individuals. Supported
24 That the ACMA produce a public report on steps taken to improve the transparency and consistency of its decision-making processes, and that implementation and stakeholder satisfaction be independently assessed by the end of 2017. Supported
25 That it would be timely to review the policy objectives of revenue collection from the communications sector and evaluate whether new business models and OTT services are contributing appropriately. Supported
26 That the ACMA should further analyse its cost base, in light of the proposed function changes, to ensure it is efficiently delivering on its responsibilities and minimising costs to industry. Supported
27 To enable the communications sector to reach its full potential as an enabler of innovation and productivity, the Government commence a coordinated program of regulatory reform to establish a contemporary communications regulatory framework. Supported