Daily News - Friday 1 August 2014

Posted 1 August 2014 8:53am

Divorce more costly for Australian women

Divorces are more costly for Australian women than for men, and for longer periods, too, new research reveals.

One year after separating, a woman’s household income is 21 per cent lower compared to women in a relationship, an Australian Institute of Family Studies report shows.

Six years later and they still haven’t fully recovered, with their income still down 12 per cent.


Women who leave with nothing
Sylvia Pennington, Sydney Morning Herald

Although little discussed except when high-profile cases, such as those of Simon Gittany and Gerard Baden-Clay, hit the headlines, domestic abuse affects thousands of Australian women each year.

Financial factors deter many from escaping abusive situations, especially if there are dependent children in the mix. Others make a break and leave with nothing but getting back on their feet again financially, as well as physically and emotionally, can be a slow process.


Nappy not-for-profit helps mothers fleeing violence
Simon Leo Brown, ABC

A nappy collecting not-for-profit group has grown from a post on Facebook to now operate in four states.

The Nappy Collective distributes donated disposable nappies to women's refuges and other services helping mothers fleeing family violence.


Mothers: Having children doesn't turn women into saints
Bryony Gordon, The Age

I recently met a woman who revealed that when her first born was 12 weeks old, she went into the garden at four in the afternoon and did a shot of vodka before smoking a Marlboro Light. It was one of the calmest moments she had experienced in three months. The baby hadn't stopped crying for two days - neither of them had - and when she finally got her child down for a nap, her mind turned immediately to alcohol.

"This is the first time I've admitted it," she said, still guilt-ridden by the memory. Her daughter is now four years old.


'Deadbeat' mother of boy who died in squalor collapses at plea hearing
Adam Cooper, The Age

A self-described "deadbeat" mother whose five-year-old son died after falling ill in the family's squalid home fainted in the dock as a prosecutor outlined the case in court.

The woman collapsed about 30 minutes into her plea hearing in the County Court on Thursday, after she and her husband pleaded guilty to charges over the boy's death.

The boy died on August 1, 2012, several days after he cut his big toe on an open tin of cat food that had been discarded in the house and was piled among junk, food scraps and faeces that filled every room of the house, in Melbourne's north-western suburbs.


446 babies taken from addicted mothers in first year
Susie O'Brien, Herald Sun

Victorian babies are being forcibly removed at birth from their mothers under a new push to prevent child abuse, experts say.

In Victoria, 446 babies under the age of one were ­removed from their parents by child protection workers in the last financial year, compared with just 119 in 2004-05.

Researcher Dr Stephanie Taplin, from the Institute of Child Protection Studies at the Australian Catholic University, said anecdotal evidence suggested an increasing number of babies were removed from maternity wards.

... Dr Taplin questioned whether families were getting the support they need after getting reported and having their child removed.

“The idea is that these women get engaged in services so they can improve their situation and be in a better position to care for their child once it is born,” Dr Taplin said.


Victoria - Protection orders leave parents in dark as they seek return of children
Andrea Hamblin, Herald Sun

Community workers claim parents are being deliberately kept in the dark by government child protection officers to lessen their chances of having their children returned to them.

It comes as a government report reveals that at last count only one in six of the children under protection ­orders was released from ­Department of Human Services monitoring or state care.

Family support groups say children are being ripped away from their mothers without adequate explanation of what families can do to prove they are providing a safe home.

In 2011 in Victoria, $321.5 million was spent on out-of-home care. Family support services were given $63.2 million but social workers say more money should go towards prevention and early intervention measures.


UK - Social workers should be paid and trained like doctors
Lena Dominelli, The Conversation

Social workers deal with messy, complex and ambiguous situations where off-the-peg solutions are often irrelevant. Take a mother who wants to feed a hungry baby, but her fridge is empty because she can’t afford milk. How do you help her?

Understanding the structural lack of opportunity that some people have and the context of the society in which we live is crucial to recognising how to best help. This kind of work requires very special people to do it.


Dole overhaul: Employment Minister Eric Abetz hints at 40 job applications policy backdown
Simon Cullen, ABC

Federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz has given a strong indication the Government is willing to back down on its plan to make unemployed people apply for 40 jobs per month.

The idea has been criticised by crossbench senators and several business groups who warn it will put an unfair burden on small businesses.


Desperate bid to end years of disparity
Editorial, The Advertiser

Mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s radical proposal to increase income management is a confronting and compelling document.

... The key part of Mr Forrest’s blueprint is about 2.5 million welfare recipients on working-age payments being completely income-managed and banned from purchasing some goods.

Banks would operate the income-management system and appropriate technology would be used to ban the purchase of some products, such as cigarettes and alcohol.

As Prime Minister Tony Abbott said yesterday, it is a bold, ambitious and brave report that will test current public opinion.


Andrew Forrest’s radical blueprint to ‘end blight of disparity’
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

The “blight of disparity” would end for all welfare-reliant Aus­tralians — black and white — under a radical, ambitious blueprint that would see the introduction of a national “healthy welfare” card for all, a major reduction in the number of income support payments and bans on young people accessing welfare unless they are training or in work.

... Mr Forrest accuses job network providers of rorting the system by “churning” jobseekers, and proposes scrapping the commonwealth’s Job Services Australia. The mining magnate wants it replaced with a model based on VTEC, under which payments are contingent on keeping clients in a job for at least 26 weeks.

He says this kind of seismic change is the only solution to ending the current wasting of money — a “cash barbecue” — in the provision of employment services to the most highly disadvantaged indigenous people. He wants to apply ­mutual obligation requirements to all payments for those of working age and capable of work.


Incentive to learn, train or work
Patricia Karvelas, The Australia ($)

The welfare system is complex, provides little motivation for ­people to find work and is expensive to administer, with more than 30 different payments and myriad supplements and concessions ­applying in different circumstances, according to the Forrest report.

... Mr Forrest also calls for the ­removal of the discretion of Centrelink staff and job-service providers to waive jobseekers’ obligations and grant ­exemptions and transfers to non-activity-tested payments such as the Disability Support Pension.


Andrew Forrest Report bold, ambitious, says Tony Abbott
Dennis Shanahan, The Australian ($)

The Abbott government is unlikely to adopt the most severe parts of the welfare blueprint of mining magnate Andrew Forrest, who has raised the prospect of welfare recipients being forced into a cashless world.

Tony Abbott said Mr Forrest’s report to the government, which he will launch in Sydney’s west today, was “bold, ambitious and brave” but warned that the ­proposals would stretch public ­approval.

Politicians from both sides and state and federal levels were positive about Mr Forrest’s work on indigenous training but pointed to existing schemes and the danger of going too far in income management. The Prime Minister said Mr Forrest’s recommendations were in a report to government, not a report by government, and the government would decide which to implement.

Retail alcohol block ‘feasible’
Natasha Bita, The Australian ($)

Supermarkets have told Andrew Forrest it is technically possible to block spending on alcohol, gambling and cigarettes through a new “cashless welfare card’’.

As revealed in The Australian yesterday, the Forrest report recommends the Abbott government replace cash welfare benefits with a Healthy Welfare Card, which could be spent only on essentials such as groceries, rent, clothing and power bills. Aged pensioners and war veterans would continue to get cash through Centrelink.

The debit card, issued by a bank or building society of their choice, could not be used to withdraw cash, and would be programmed to block the sale of alcohol, gift cards, pornography, gambling and “other illicit services’’. Although cigarettes are not named in the report, it is understood the ban would extend to tobacco.


Income management: basics spared the ‘humbugging’
Sarah Martin, The Australian ($)

Since its controversial beginnings as part of the Howard government’s emergency intervention in the Northern Territory in 2007, income management has remained a divisive policy measure.

Seven years on, the quarantining of income has become a widespread part of our welfare system and is broadly supported by both major parties.

Income management works by quarantining between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of a person’s welfare payment, which is restricted to the purchase of basic items using the BasicsCard.


Love or hate income management, smart money is on budgeting skills
Meredith Booth, The Australian ($)

More than 70 welfare recipients in South Australia who have volunteered for income management have learned vital budgeting skills, according to Anglicare SA.

The agency’s chief executive, Peter Sandeman, said those who had chosen to take Anglicare’s 13-week money-management course while taking part in the federal government’s income-quarantining scheme had found the new skills helpful.

“It’s a good system and we would encourage people to undertake our management course,” Mr Sandeman said.


NDIS report reveals more challenges

Another report has identified problems with the national disability insurance scheme (NDIS).

A lower house committee investigating how the scheme is operating at trial sites has made a number of recommendations to improve it.

Its report notes a lot of uncertainty, confusion and anxiety among people receiving support in the Victoria, Tasmanian, NSW and South Australian trial sites.


UK - Collaboration between charities can help them embrace risk and adapt
Harriet Swain, The Guardian

Make a mistake as a manager in a commercial company and you face losing your job as well as your investors' money. Do something similar in a charity and you face harming the vulnerable people your organisation most wants to help.

How charities can balance the importance of protecting their beneficiaries against the need to innovate in an ever-tightening economic climate was the subject of a roundtable hosted by the Guardian, in conjunction with Zurich Insurance, earlier this month.


US - Republicans may block bill to honor “too liberal” Pope Francis
Elias Isquith, Salon

The Republican Party today makes a real effort to associate itself with organized religion, frequently portraying itself as the defender of tradition and faith. So it’s a little bit surprising to see that a symbolic bill intended to honor Pope Francis is having trouble making its way through the House of Representatives — and it’s the GOP that is to blame.

... Chief among his sins, apparently, is his previous use of the phrase “trickle-down economics,” which was previously used by people on both the left and the right to describe supply-side policies but is now, according to one anonymous Republican, “politically charged.” Republicans are also reportedly uncomfortable with Francis’ strong support of human equality.


Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
Adam Withnall, The Independent

Turn off the TV, calm down and stop trying to convert people to your religion.

These are among the top 10 pieces of advice issued by Pope Francis this week as part of his recipe for a happy, more fulfilled life.

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