Daily News - Friday 22 August 2014

Posted 22 August 2014 8:48am

Social Policy Whisperer – Which way out? The Abbott Government’s social policy alternatives
Paul Smyth, The Power to Persuade

I must admit the United Kingdom is not a country I have looked to in recent years as a model for future social policy development in Australia. I was vaguely aware that its dire economic circumstances had produced a bout of social policy bloodletting but thought the strength of our own economy would preclude that kind of agenda. However, having read a recent volume by British social policy doyen, Peter Taylor Gooby entitled, The Double Crisis of the Welfare State and What We Can Do About It (Palgrave, 2013) I was startled to see how similar the Conservative’s welfare agenda is to the big ideas informing the Abbott Government’s first budget. It makes for such a stark alternative to the ideas which have re-newed Australian social policy in recent years that one must wonder whether the Australian government will have to take an alternative tack.


UK - Why is Labour demonising the poor and widening social inequalities?
Policy and Politics

In a recent announcement about cutting youth unemployment benefits, Ed Miliband taps into prevailing public opinion by insisting that those on benefits must work to acquire skills in order to deserve them. The way he speaks of those who claim benefits is completely in tune with those who demonise the poor, with sound bites such as ‘Labour… will get young people to sign up for training, not sign on for benefits’.[i]


UK - David Cameron on families

... for those of us who want to strengthen and improve society, there is no better way than strengthening families and strengthening the relationships on which families are built.

Whether it’s tackling crime and anti-social behaviour or debt and drug addiction; whether it’s dealing with welfare dependency or improving education outcomes - whatever the social issue we want to grasp - the answer should always begin with family.


Fears welfare changes will drag $78m from Tasmanian economy

Welfare groups are warning Tasmania's struggling economy will lose more than $78 million over four years from proposed changes to social security programs.

The federal budget includes plans to deny income support to unemployed people under the age of 30 for six months,

The Tasmanian Council of Social Service has released modelling which it claims shows the changes will be devastating for Tasmanian jobseekers, their families and the state.


Top welfare state
Rosita Gallasch, The Examiner

Tasmanians receive social security benefits above the national average in all areas, according to the 2014-15 State of the Regions report.

From disability support to single parenting payments, long and short-term unemployment and youth allowance, the state leads the nation.


The Entitlement of Age
Emily Millane, Per Capita

Australia’s retirement income system is becoming unsustainable. This is not because too much money is spent on the age pension. Australia spends an average of 3.5 per cent of its GDP on age-related spending against an OECD average of 7.8 per cent.

Per Capita’s detailed analysis shows that unsustainability and inequality are the two emergent trends in Australia’s retirement income system. The changes being proposed by the federal government will make both of these problems worse because they ignore the role of private wealth in shaping people’s chances later in life.


NZ Greens link child poverty plan to tax increase
New Zealand Greens Party

The Green Party's billion dollar plan to reduce child poverty includes creating a new top tax rate of 40 percent above $140,000, harmonise the trust tax rate with the top income tax rate, and introduce measures to make it harder for people to avoid paying their fair share of tax, generating close to $1 billion a year.


Is Australia's top marginal tax rate too high?
Jacob Greber, Australian Financial Review

[Treasury Secretary, Martin] Parkinson added to warnings that Australia’s top marginal tax rate – now effectively at 49 per cent – was too high and would encourage avoidance.

“The wider the gap between the top marginal tax rate and corporate tax the bigger the incentives to start to shift money.”


A safe and supportive family environment for children: key components and links to child outcomes
Killian Mullan and Daryl Higgins, Department of Social Services

Families are the mainstay of safety and support for children. While most children live in safe and supportive environments, governments are aware that too many children are becoming known to child protection services. This has led to a shift in thinking away from solely concentrating on responding to ‘risk of harm’ reports towards a broader public health approach to protecting all of Australia’s children, reducing the likelihood of children coming to the attention of statutory authorities. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, this report aims to understand more about the prevalence of different types of family environments in society and to explore the influence of these environments on different child outcomes. The family environment (as measured in this report) was most strongly associated with children’s social and emotional wellbeing.


International approaches to child protection: What can Australia learn?
Rhys Price-Robertson, Leah Bromfield, and Alister Lamont, Child Family Community Australia

The provision of child protection services varies considerably across the world. This paper offers a broad overview of some of the main approaches to child protection used internationally. Using examples from Canada, Sweden, Belgium and the Gaza Strip, it offers policy-makers the chance to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, as well as how these examples might be used to inspire improvements within the Australian context.


UK - How does child protection work affect social workers?
Ruth Neil, The Guardian

The focus of child protection social work is often about the experience of the child and his or her carers. But what about the impact of this work upon social workers? In a recent research study, I focused on the experiences of 12 social workers from a Scottish local authority who worked with children and their families on a daily basis.


Unemployment and poor health are linked
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, media release

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called on government, business and the wider community to make an extra effort in lifting the participation of marginalised groups into training or work, particularly the young.

In a joint address to the National Press Club focussed on the social determinants of health, ACCI CEO, Kate Carnell, said Australia needed to get young people into fulltime work or training - not just to boost the economy but to improve people’s health.

"There’s a clear link between unemployment and poor health, and we need to do all we can to break it," Kate Carnell said.


Intellectually disabled workers call for Government to do more to boost wages
Louise Milligan, ABC

The Federal Government has today announced a $173 million boost to workshops for the intellectually disabled who have been paying workers as little as $1 an hour.

Under pressure after a court action described the wages as discriminatory and the sector that pays them cried poor, the Government's announcement came amid a class action by up to 10,000 workers to claim back pay.


How to help an anxious interviewee - be mean to them?
Alex Fradera, BPS Research Digest

They've barely taken their seat, but it's obvious that your interviewee is nervous. You give her a reassuring smile and nod affirmatively at each of her answers, hoping to put her at ease. Unfortunately, it turns out that positive feedback does a socially anxious interviewee no favours. In fact, it would be better to turn that smile upside-down.


A daughter's life rekindled
Catherine Marshall, Eureka Street

Candle framed by handsMy daughter comes to me in the early evening, when the summer sun is still elevated and the azaleas flourish in a profusion of fuchsia outside the kitchen door.

'I need to speak to you,' she says. 'Will you come to my room?'


Scott Morrison's only option is to release all children in detention
Karen Zwi, Brisbane Times

The practice of locking up children indefinitely, identifying them by number, exposing them to violence and depriving them of education and developmental opportunities stands in stark contrast to widely held Australian values. Yet, on our recent visit to Christmas Island to assess the circumstances of children in immigration detention we met children who face this dehumanising reality every day.


Ice Bucket Social Media Trend Causes 1,000% Spike in ALS Donations
Aine Creedon, Non Profit Quarterly

It’s simple: A friend posts a video, explaining they are raising awareness for ALS and then dumps a bucket full of cold ice on their head. During the video, the individual performing the ice bucket challenge must then call out three friends and then those mentioned friends have 24 hours to take on their challenge and then continue to spread the challenge to three of their friends.

Often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS is a serious condition that affects over 12,000 people – causing muscle spasms, loss in muscle mass, difficulty speaking and breathing, and paralysis. So is this social media craze too disconnected from the meaning or cause of treating ALS? There are certainly critics of the trend who believe “a lot of the participants are probably spending more money on bagged ice than on ALS research,” but apparently the goofy stunt has caught on like wildfire and has increased donations to the ALS Association by 1,000%, raising a total of $4 million since July 29. During the same time period last year, the association had raised $1.1 million.


Tony Abbott nominated in Ice Bucket challenge
Lisa Visentin, Sydney Morning Herald

The ice bucket challenge that has famous Americans self-drenching in ice-cold water to raise money and awareness for motor neurone disease has jumped the Pacific Ocean and found its way to the highest echelons of Australian politics.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott may become the first political leader to take up the challenge after he was nominated by his Parliamentary Secretary and member for Kooyong Josh Frydenberg, who completed the task on Wednesday.


US - Why Some Catholics Won’t Take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Justin Worland, Time

Not everyone is jumping to take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which has gone viral and raised millions for research into Lou Gehrig’s disease. Following the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s decision to ban its schools from donating to the ALS Association and a widely read blog post by a Catholic priest, some Catholics are questioning the ethics of contributing to ALS charities that fund research with embryonic stem cells.


Abuse of Power
Francis Lynch

The film “Calvary” has left me again wondering what am I doing now, or letting happen now, that I will live to regret. What abuses of power just seem acceptable, but are in fact indefensible? Am I prepared to be uncomfortable in the pursuit of justice? Am I listening to the voices of those who are marginalised, unheard and with little power to wield? How do we build institutions that are non-violent in a time when we are confronted by practices such as offshore processing of refugees?

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