Daily News - Friday 20 June 2014

Posted 20 June 2014 8:54am

Bosses rough it in CEO sleepout
Fleta Page, Canberra Times

Peter Howman made more than 300 phone calls on Wednesday, putting the competitive streak that has seen him succeed in business to good use; raising $25,000 for St Vincent de Paul to help fight homelessness.

But in surpassing his target of $20,000, the managing director of Defence Housing Australia made good on a promise to wear a onesie when he slept rough in the annual 2014 Vinnies CEO Sleepout on Thursday night.


Homelessness - Policy factsheets
Council to Homeless Persons

The world of homelessness policy can be filled with detail, lingo and acronymns that are complicated and can be difficult to digest. As a result, over the past 4 months we have been putting together some fact sheets that explain our position on the Victorian Housing Action Plan (VHAP). VHAP is the state government’s 4-year plan to reform the homelessness sector and provide services more effectively.


Checking up on the NDIS
El Gibbs, Ramp Up, ABC

Since the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was introduced nearly a year ago, a joint parliamentary inquiry has been travelling to the various NDIS trial sites to evaluate people's experiences of this historic change to disability funding. This analysis, based on responses to the committee hearings as well as direct interviews with NDIS participants, reveals a variety of outcomes, with some finding positive changes and improved services, but also confusion, inconsistencies and reduced services.


Disabled ‘need say’ in NDIS
Rick Morton, The Australian ($)

Australia's only politician who uses a wheelchair has written to the chairman of the national disability insurance scheme urging the board to listen more carefully to people who have a “lived experience” of disability.

South Australian Legislative Assembly member Kathy Vincent, who heads the Dignity for Disability Party, wrote to Bruce Bonyhady last week, highlighting the lack of people with disability involved in national forums relating to the landmark NDIS.


One in five young people struggling with mental illness
Mission Australia, media release

One in five young Australians are likely to be experiencing mental illness, and less than 40% are comfortable seeking professional help, according to our new report released in partnership with the Black Dog Institute.

Download: Youth mental health report - June 2014


Youth welfare plan endangers mental health

The NSW Mental Health commissioner has taken a swipe at planned federal changes to youth welfare, after a Mission Australia report showed one in five young people are dealing with mental illness.

John Feneley was speaking at the launch of Mission Australia and The Black Dog Institute's 2014 Mental Health Youth Report - a study of 15 to 19-year-olds across the country that found 21 per cent of the 15,000 surveyed were battling a probable mental illness.

As part of its May budget the federal government announced people under the age of 30 would face a six-month wait for unemployment benefits and must work for the dole.


Labor to oppose income support changes for young unemployed
Bill Shorten, The Age

... we will stand up to the Prime Minister’s attempt to push young unemployed people off social security and into the margins of society – possibly the cruellest of all the cruel measures in this budget. It is shameful that Tony Abbott’s response to this youth unemployment crisis is to condemn jobless young Australians to poverty and despair. It is a bleak, heartless policy that shows he doesn’t understand the crushing emptiness of long-term unemployment. All this policy will do is turn the middle-class into the under-class, and Labor won’t support it to.


Unemployment is hitting youth hard: this is what we should do
Jeff Borland, The Conversation

The best way for a government to reduce youth unemployment then is to keep economic growth as high as possible. The other main way to improve labour market outcomes for the young unemployed is through targeted programs that make them “job ready” and create pathways to employment. Programs that provide these services to the young unemployed can increase their opportunities to move into work when extra jobs become available.

There is, however, a problem. Having programs targeted to improve outcomes for the young unemployed sounds good in theory, but the practice has been more difficult. Designing programs that work has been a major challenge.


Victims’ experiences of short-and long-term safety and wellbeing: findings from an examination of an integrated response to domestic violence
Silke Meyer, Australian Institute of Criminology (via APO)

This paper examines victims’ short and long-term experiences of safety and wellbeing after being supported through a six week police-led integrated response to domestic violence in Caboolture, Southeast Queensland. The overarching objective of this integrated response was to create safer home environments for women and children affected by domestic violence.


Radical rethink needed to achieve justice in rape cases
Gay Alcorn, The Age

Like most parents of a daughter, I have often wondered how I would advise her if she was raped or sexually assaulted. Should she go to the police and file a complaint? Go through a court process where, if the accused pleads not guilty – which is likely – she would have to relive every detail of the assault and and be called mistaken or a liar when she insists there was no consent? What do you advise someone when you know the prospects of a conviction are dismal – just 10 to 15 per cent of cases reported to police end in conviction.


Women still keep the home fires burning
University of Melbourne, media release

Australian women are still doing dramatically more housework than their boyfriends and husbands, new data from Australia’s most comprehensive household survey has revealed.

The latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA), produced by the University of Melbourne, analyzed how much time couples spent doing unpaid work.

The data found women completed roughly 16 hours housework per week, more than double the amount performed by men.


How to grow impact investing
Brendan Ferguson, SVA Consulting

‘Impact investing’ refers to investment with the intention to achieve both a positive social, cultural or environmental benefit and some measure of financial return.[1] In their 2011 publication, Antony Bugg-Levine and Jed Emerson described it as ‘disrupting a world organised around the competing principle that for-profit investments should seek only to pursue financial return, while people who care about social problems should give away their money or wait for government to step in’.


Bishop's aid crusade must heed the poor
Paul O'Callaghan, Eureka Street

Sometimes an unexpected coincidence occurs, such as Pope Francis and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop both speaking — with passion, and within days of each other this week — about how to address poverty in the world's poorest countries.

At a conference in Rome on so-called 'Impact Investing' to promote economic and social change in poor countries, Francis called for actions which are designed to have a positive impact on people's lives and which promote an economy of inclusion, rather than exclusion of the marginalised.


Why the High Court struck down school chaplaincy funding
Jane Lee and Benjamin Preiss, The Age

Under the Australian constitution, Parliament can only directly fund things that are attached to a number of powers, known as "heads of power". These include defence, immigration and foreign affairs. Anything else must be funded by passing legislation sufficiently connected to it, and by granting state governments the money to spend on certain things.

In Mr Williams' first High Court challenge, he successfully argued that Commonwealth direct funding for school chaplains went beyond the Commonwealth's executive powers.


How the end of school chaplains could hurt progressives
Ryan Batchelor, Chifley Research Centre

... we should spare a thought for some of the other Commonwealth programs now at risk. The High Court has said, in effect, that Commonwealth spending must be supported by a head of legislative power under the Constitution. A general piece of authorising legislation wasn’t good enough. The ‘fix’ put in to support a raft of Commonwealth spending two years ago was today found wanting. Presumably his means that the Parliament will now need to pass new laws specifically authorising a range of new spending, and do to that the law will need to be supported by a specific constitutional head of power. Most are found in Section 51. There’s a lot that the Commonwealth currently does that is not clearly supported by that list of powers.

Here’s a taste of what could be at risk:

• Environment grants
• Industry assistance
• Funding to local government
• Housing and homelessness support
• Carer’s services
• Financial counselling
• Support for volunteer groups
• Sports infrastructure and program grants

It sounds like the wish list of a right wing think tank.


Father wins High Court challenge on federal funding of school chaplains program
Jane Lee, Matthew Knott, The Age

The case targets a law that allows funding of a wide range of programs that comprise up to 10 per cent of federal expenditure, including accommodation for asylum seekers offshore, the national counterterrorism committee, ''Gallipoli-related activities'' and ''cybersafety''.

... Professor Twomey said most of the programs funded under the law were likely to be constitutional, because they fell under Commonwealth heads of power, including foreign affairs and defence.

But she said there could be a number of programs that did not fall under such powers which were open to similar High Court challenges.

''There will be uncertainty, but for the Commonwealth uncertainty is better than the certainty of losing. High Court challenges are costly, risky and people don't usually object to receiving money. The Commonwealth has inertia on its side,'' she said.

Professor Twomey said that if the government was ''being prudent'' they would identify the programs in the law at risk of being unconstitutional, and begin negotiating individual grants with the states.

''But if they want to be particularly arrogant about it . . . they could just say 'unless someone challenges it and it's found by a court to be invalid we'll just keep doing what we're doing'.''


2012 - 'A fig-leaf for the Commonwealth’s legislative incompetence'
Anne Twomey, Constitutional Critique - 27 July 2012

... Will this Bill, once enacted, be effective? It is really just setting up more stoushes with the High Court. What the Court stressed in the Pape case in 2009 and the Williams case last week, was that the Commonwealth must have a head of legislative power to support its spending. Where is the head of legislative power to support this Bill? Many of the programs listed in the draft regulations will fall under a head of legislative power, and it is conceivable (although contestable) that this Bill, once enacted, is enough to support them. But others will not be supported by a head of power and will remain invalid regardless of such a law. Hence, this Bill merely provides a fig-leaf for the Commonwealth’s legislative incompetence. It still leaves open the question of whether the Commonwealth has the legislative power to support the chaplaincy program along with many others.


No, Mr Hockey, the Budget is not fair
Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street

It is evident that the burden of this Budget will fall most heavily on less well-off Australians. It is also clear that those who framed the Budget chose not to touch benefits available disproportionately to wealthier Australians through such things as superannuation, negative gearing, paid maternity leave and the absence of death duties. The failure to do so suggests that the Budget is unfair in its design.


Where’s the vision? John Hewson still fighting back
Troy Bramston, The Australian ($)

When Dr Hewson became Liberal leader after the 1990 election, he told his party room — reeling from four election defeats — that it would likely take two elections to win government. “We have zero policy credibility,” he said. “Don’t kid yourselves. We stand for nothing. We have to start again.” He led development of a sweeping manifesto to overhaul government.

Fightback, released in November 1991, weighed-in at more than 600 pages, thousands more when supporting material is included. “I wanted to go to the 1993 election with a detailed, clear-cut policy direction in almost every area,” Dr Hewson recalls. “It was basic­ally economic rationality. It was a pretty hardline, dry and rational response to the economic circumstances. But at the same time it was small-l liberal in social policy.

Senate to Scrutinise Australia’s Inequality
Pro Bono News

A Senate Inquiry into inequality and the gap between Australia’s rich and poor will go ahead - a move that the Australian Greens says will open the door for a proper review of the impact of the Federal Budget.

The Inquiry has been referred to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee - which will determine the dates for public submissions and hearings in the coming weeks. The Inquiry is due to report by November 26.


Senate committee inquiry into income inequality - terms of reference
Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs

On 18 June 2014, the Senate referred the following matter to the Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report.

The Terms of Reference are:

  • the extent of income inequality in Australia and the rate at which income inequality is increasing in our community;
  • the impact of income inequality on access to health, housing, education and work in Australia, and on the quality of the outcomes achieved;
  • the specific impacts of inequality on disadvantaged groups within the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, older job seekers, people living with a disability or mental illness, refugees, single parents, those on a low income, people at risk of poverty i
  • retirement as well as the relationship between gender and inequality;
  • the likely impact of Government policies on current and future rates of inequality particularly the changes proposed in the 2014-15 Budget;
  • the principles that should underpin the provision of social security payments in Australia; and
  • the practical measures that could be implemented by Governments to address inequality, particularly appropriate and adequate income support payments.

The submissions due date is yet to be decided. The reporting date is 26 November 2014.


Sorry, Fox News: Pope Francis is 'competent' enough to talk about economics
Elizabeth Stoker, The Week

It's undoubtedly uncomfortable to imagine that morality is a part of every economic decision, because doing so burdens economic activity with a profound moral duty, the sort that gets in the way of pure self-interest. But it's long been the job of the church to disrupt pure self-interest, especially when it becomes culturally embedded or systemically enshrined. If Pope Francis is causing a stir by upsetting the narrative that economics is amoral, then he is absolutely within his competence.

← Back to listing