Daily News - Friday 29 August 2014

Posted 29 August 2014 8:21am

'Complete rethink' urged on mental health and welfare
Judith Ireland, Sydney Morning Herald

The nation's peak mental heath body has called for a "complete rethink" of the way the welfare system treats people with mental illness, while rejecting a proposal that only people with "permanent disability" get the disability support pension.

The interim report of the government's McClure welfare review suggested the disability pension should be reserved for people with a permanent impairment and no capacity to work, while other people with disabilities moved to a different working age payment.


Mental Health Peak – It’s about capacity, not disability
Mental Health Australia, media release

Mental Health Australia’s submission also calls for the Federal Government to abandon their plan to deny Newstart or Youth Allowance payments for six months to people under 30 living with mental illness, noting the detrimental effect this would have on the wellbeing of people already experiencing a significant health issue.

“We need policies that are based on the best evidence, and the evidence suggests that if people are left without support the struggle to find social connection and employment becomes harder,” Mr Quinlan said.


Making the welfare system work for mental health consumers & carers (pdf)
National Mental Health Consumer & Carer Forum, Mental Health Council of Australia, submission

Employment services models such as Individual Placement and Support which have demonstrated superior sustainable job outcomes for people with mental illness should be expanded nationally, and embedded into community mental health services where possible.


Welfare review must dispel misconceptions about mental illness (pdf)
National Mental Health Commission, submission

It is important to understand what "episodic" means—a person with severe and persistent mental illness may be seriously ill regularly and for long periods of time, but much of this may occur while they are in the workplace. Therefore of fundamental importance in your review is to dispel any misconceptions about the nature of episodic or persistent mental illness: this does not mean that a person is usually "well" and then has episodic illnesses where they have to take time off work and which then are managed clinically. Often a person with a mental illness will need considerable (non-clinical) support when they are managed in the workforce—to get there and staty there.


Invest in community-based organisations, says Australian Psychological Society (pdf)
Australian Psychological Society, submission

The APS recommends investment in community-based, local organisations and networks in disadvantaged areas. It is important that initiatives to build capacity come from local communities, and that participation by those who are unemployed is voluntary and not linked to income support payments.


Mental health stigma hasn't gone away
Pete Etchells, The Guardian

In the Observer last Sunday, Elizabeth Day wrote an article questioning whether there was still a stigma surrounding mental illness. Her reasoning was that because there has been an outpouring of stories about depression in the wake of Robin Williams’ death, we’re all fully tuned in to the nuances of mental health problems now. Day argues that if there’s anything resembling a stigma left, it’s because we keep using the word stigma, not because there’s an actual stigma. Besides, what does stigma mean, anyway?


Tougher welfare rules quashed

Labor has quashed the government's tougher rules for job seekers on welfare.

THE coalition introduced regulations to limit the "reasonable excuses" job seekers can use if they failed to meet the requirements of their social security.
Reasonable excuses would include bushfire, serious illness or death of a family member.

Labor senator Doug Cameron moved a disallowance motion for the regulations in the Senate, which passed 33-29 with the support of the Australian Greens.


Govt recklessly pursues measures against young jobseekers, claim Greens
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian

The Greens say that while the Government considers negotiations on family payment reforms, they are “recklessly” pursuing tough budget measures that target young jobseekers, despite the evidence of the harm they will cause and growing community opposition to the approach.

“While flagging the potential for negotiation on family payment reforms, (Social Services) Minister Kevin Andrews is stubbornly committed to denying jobseekers access to income support for six months at a time, or even longer in some cases,” Senator Rachel Siewert, the Greens welfare spokeswoman told The Australian.


The procurement gap: boost for indigenous-owned firms
Stephen Easton, The Mandarin

Exemptions in Commonwealth procurement rules allow more contracting of indigenous-owned companies to boost Aboriginal employment. But they’re all too rarely used.


The boats may have stopped, but at what cost to Australia?
Alex Reilly, The Conversation

In opposition, Tony Abbott and his alternative government set itself a three-word performance indicator for success in its refugee policy if and when it took office: stop the boats.

With one recent exception, the last boat to make it to Australian waters was on December 19, 2013. In June, Abbott and immigration minister Scott Morrison held a press conference to mark the six-month anniversary of the last boat arrival. They noted that “almost 200 boats with 13,000 people” had reached Australia in the corresponding period the year before.


Drought support falls short
Mike Roley and Ruth Caskey

As the drought drags beyond its second year in the North West, farmers ask “how could we have prepared for this?” Ed Fessey, “Bullabalalie”, Weilmoringle, told the State Premier “There’s only so much preparation you can do for drought,” when the Mr Baird toured his property yesterday to see the impact of drought first-hand.


Gobsmacked by red-tape
Bruce Scott, Goondiwindi Argus

The Maranoa is the largest federal electorate in Queensland – covering about 42 percent of the state and I have been shocked by this extreme drought as it continues to strangle the landscape.

The message I am taking to Canberra next week, when parliamentary sittings resume, is the application process to access Centrelink support is too complex and many are giving up as a result.


ACOSS calls on Government to tackle sacred cow of super tax breaks
ACOSS, media release

The Australian Council of Social Service today said the Federal Government cannot afford to keep giving the top 20% of income earners half of all superannuation tax concessions if it wants the superannuation system to be effective in helping the majority of people to have a decent standard of living in later life, and have the revenue to pay for vital services for an ageing population.


Tax The Rich? It's Far Easier To Target The Poor
Ben Eltham, New Matilda

Slowly, inexorably, the Abbott government continues with its project to reshape Australia into a meaner, less equal place.

Today, for instance, the government is introducing its radical higher education reforms to the Parliament. As we argued on Tuesday, such changes will almost certainly make Australia’s university system less equal, more unfair, and produce worse outcomes. Leaked modeling, released to Fairfax on Wednesday, appears to back this up. But Education Minister Christopher Pyne is pressing ahead.


Social Inequality: is the elephant in the room strangling us all?
Alessandro R Demaio, The Conversation

Social, economic inequality is on the rise - and represents a threat to our nation’s fabric.

The notion of a fair go and the concept of social mobility are both central to the Australian psyche and culture. Growing up in the 80s as the grandson of illiterate migrants, Australia was a liberal, progressive, fertile society. A country with a strong history of community and social cohesion where rich and poor were shades of a scale and most were able to ‘make their own financial destiny’ - else they would be afforded adequate financial support to find their feet.

But is this changing? And why don’t we see it?


Who made ideology a dirty word?
Anna Coote, The Power To Persuade

Ideology is a dirty word these days. Politicians on all sides insist that they are driven by unavoidable realities, by the force of evidence and by moral integrity, but never – heaven forbid – by ideology.

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