Daily News - Friday 24 October 2014

Posted 24 October 2014 7:21am

NSW - Child suicide rate doubles in eight years
Rachel Browne, The Sydney Morning Herald

Child suicide numbers in NSW have reached their highest point in eight years and mental health experts are calling for earlier intervention and improved co-ordination of services.

At the same time, deaths from drowning, road accidents and assaults are in long-term decline, according to figures in the NSW Child Death Review Team's 2013 annual report, tabled in Parliament on Thursday.


Going online for mental health effectiveness: report
Josh Gliddon, eHealthspace

The e-Mental Health Alliance has released a report aimed at giving the Australian government and the National Mental Health Commission a comprehensive picture of the range and quality of e-mental health services available in this country. The eMH Alliance was initiated by A/Prof Judy Proudfoot and Prof Helen Christensen from the Black Dog Institute.

“The sector is reasonably small but vibrant,” says Professor Britt Klein, personal chair in psychology and ehealth at Federation University in Ballarat. “The sector has been involved in e-mental health since the late 1990s.”

Federation University was one of the groups involved in putting together the e-Mental Health Services in Australia 2014: Current and Future report.


Victoria - Save Foster Care: the Pozible campaign

On any given night there are about 6,400 children living in out-of-home care in Victoria. About 2,000 of these children are in foster care.

Foster carers dedicate their lives to supporting some of the most vulnerable children in the state, but in return are offered unacceptably low levels of support, recognition and respect. Fostering will always present challenging moments, but the current system in Victoria is pushing carers to breaking point and driving foster carers away in record numbers. Demand for foster care placements is growing, but the number of foster carers is declining dramatically, pushing more children into residential care.


'My heart is aching': NSW mother battles to get her child back
Danny Teece-Johnson, NITV News

For eight years, a mum from northern New South Wales has been battling to have her child restored to her care.

The young Aboriginal mother, who cannot be identified, was just 21 and had a one-year-old baby at home when her newborn son was taken from hospital just days after his birth.

She has not seen or heard from him since that day.

Her harrowing story is part of what many believe is a new generation of stolen children in the state.


Abuse and neglect: Australia’s child protection ‘crisis’
Leah Bromfield, The Conversation

The tragic death of four-year old Chloe Valentine in South Australia has raised concerns that the state’s child protection system is in crisis. Following a history of abuse and neglect, Chloe’s mother and her partner repeatedly put Chloe on a 50-kilogram motorbike and filmed her crashing into objects. She later died of her injuries.

During the first two weeks of evidence in the inquest into her death, we heard Chloe was the subject of more than 20 notifications to child protection. It also identified that resources constrained SA Child Protection Services’ capacity to investigate allegations during that period. One witness estimated under-resourcing meant he “ordered no action on up to 30 similar notifications per week”.

Infographic: a snapshot of Australia’s child protection services


Risky business: how protection workers decide to remove children from their parents
Paul Harnett and Sharon Dawe, The Conversation

Imagine you’re a child protection worker who has received a notification from a teacher voicing concerns about a child in her class. The case involves a five-year-old boy named Toby.

Toby’s mum has had a long history of alcohol abuse but has managed this well for the past few years. But she has recently been seen in an intoxicated state when collecting Toby from school. Toby has had a great first year at school but has failed to attend school several days each week over the past month.


We all have a role in protecting children: end the silence on abuse
Amy Conley Wright and Lynne Keevers, The Conversation

The recent string of major child sexual assault scandals, in Australia and other countries, can create a feeling of disgust and an urge to look away from an ugly reality. Yet we must confront and take collective responsibility for child protection by acknowledging that it happens every day and that we have to talk about it. Societal silence on child sexual abuse protects perpetrators and enables abuse to continue.

Child sexual assault is a lot more common than we may think. The Australian Institute of Family Studies reported in 2013 that as many as one in six boys and one in three girls has experienced sexual abuse


UK - Parenting is not the key to tackling inequality
Val Gillies, The Conversation

Britain is quickly turning into a nation characterised by an obscene and unsustainable wealth gap, according to a new report on social mobility. Yet behind the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s trenchant critique of current party-political strategies for tackling inequality and child poverty there lies a familiar scapegoat – parenting.

The report’s recommendations highlight parenting as the starting point from which to address the disparity between disadvantaged children and their more privileged peers. Its authors argue that politicians should overcome their timidity in calling out bad parenting and establish a national parenting campaign: “to help more parents become excellent parents”.


Family law ‘must be made simpler’: academics
Nicola Berkovic, The Australian ($)

The nation’s leading family law academics have called for a dramatic rewrite of shared parenting laws, arguing that current legislation is so convoluted and confusing it is tripping up judges and parents.

Retired Family Court judge Richard Chisholm, who has written a blueprint for overhauling the laws, told The Australian many divorced parents were negotiating child custody ­arrangements based on a mis­understanding of their rights.

He said the law could provide a clearer guideline for parents and lawyers — a view shared by both Family Law Council chairwoman Helen Rhoades and the architect of the Howard government’s family law reforms, Sydney University professor Patrick ­Parkinson.


More debate on $3 billion of welfare cuts unlikely
APN Newsdesk

A bill to cut family payments and review young Australians' disability support is unlikely to face extra scrutiny before passing parliament.

Social Services Assistant Minister Mitch Fifield on Thursday updated senators on the negotiations over the controversial reforms.

The changes, which Labor supported after the government removed other elements, are expected to be debated for a final time next week.

Under the reforms, all disability support pensioners under 35 will have their cases reviewed, and the primary income earner limit for Family Tax Benefit B will be reduced to $100,000.

It will also limit the Family Tax Benefit A payments to families with four or more children.


Former NT deputy chief minister David Tollner defends political donations for access to government

The former deputy chief minister of the Northern Territory Government has argued against an inquiry into political donations, suggesting the "dodgy" private donations system be scrapped.

But David Tollner said donations would open his door "if you ever need to talk to me about something".

Speaking on 105.7 ABC Darwin today Mr Tollner said people who did not donate faced "a line-up at the door", explaining "you have to start prioritising".


Government extends grants to community and social services groups ahead of new arrangements
Naomi Woodley, ABC

The Federal Government says it will extend about 1,400 different grants to community and social services groups for another two months while it makes decisions about future programs.

The Department of Social Service (DSS) is streamlining $800 million of government funding for a wide range of programs run by aged care, homelessness, disability and family groups.

The existing contracts, which had already been extended for six months until the end of this year, will be rolled over until next March, the department told a Senate estimates committee.


Scrapping ACNC Will “Break Shackles of Red Tape” - Andrews
Xavier Smerdon, Pro Bono News

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has declared that abolishing the national charity regulator will “break the shackles of red tape around the ankles” of Not for Profits in Australia.

Asked by fellow Liberal Party politician Craig Laundy during Question Time in Parliament yesterday to outline how cutting red tape and regulation would benefit the charity sector, Andrews said that scrapping the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) would allow charities to better serve Australia.

“We have abolished the national gambling regulator, we proposed to abolish the charities commission,” Andrews said.


Charities commission saves not-for-profits millions
Andrew Leigh MP

The Senate Estimates process always throws up interesting tidbits. Last night we found out just how much the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission saves charities each year by streamlining their regulatory and reporting requirements.


Not-for-profit governance study
Australian Institute of Company Directors

The NFP Governance and Performance Study examines the governance practices and opportunities of NFP organisations and is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in Australia.

Conducted on behalf of Company Directors by research firm BaxterLawley and sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, our 2014 study looks at the future needs of boards and specific issues such as collaboration and mergers, performance measurement, and the relationship between the board and the CEO. This year the study also examines the issues and challenges faced by aged care organisations and independent secondary schools.


Church charity directors work for free

Directors of religious charities are more likely to work for free.

More than half of all non-profit group board members across a variety of sectors give their time without charge, a report by the Australian Institute of Company Directors found.

But in the religious sector, no directors were paid in the 2013/14 financial year.


More NFP Boards Tackle Mergers & Collaborations - Report
Pro Bono News

More than 30 per cent of Australia’s Not for Profit organisations have discussed mergers in the past year and many more organisations are exploring and engaging in cross-sector collaboration, according to a new survey of board directors.

The Not for Profit Governance and Performance Study conducted by research firm BaxterLawley for the Australian Institute of Company Directors is described as one of the largest surveys of NFP governance in Australia.


Catholic welfare and other services still respected by community
Catholic Social Services Victoria

Speaking at the Catholic Social Services Australia Leadership forum in Canberra on 21 October, Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Catholic Churches Truth Justice and Healing Council, said the role played by Catholic welfare organisations delivering social services to the more than one million people across Australia every year continued to attract the support of the broad community despite the sexual abuse crises in the Church.

“What we have seen over the past decades as a result of the sexual abuse scandal is that respect for clergy and religious leaders has plummeted but the regard for the work the Catholic Church does on the ground is still very high,” Mr Sullivan said.


New voices heard at the Synod – but still too few were women
Tina Beattie, The Conversation

The Extraordinary Synod on the Family, convened by Pope Francis in Rome from October 5 to 19, was intended to open up an honest and wide-ranging debate about the Catholic Church’s teaching and pastoral practice on difficult aspects of marriage and family life.

While new initiatives on homosexuality, divorce and remarriage and civil unions might not all have made it into the Synod’s final document, there has been a significant shift in the way the Church addresses these issues.

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