Daily News - Friday 4 July 2014

Posted 4 July 2014 9:42am

Extension ladders or parallel bars? The future of the community welfare sector
Helen Dickenson, The Power to Persuade

There is a lot at stake in how the community sector positions itself in response to its changing environment. Many, including Tony Nicholson from the Brotherhood of St Laurence, are concerned that the sector will lose its connection to community because of its increasing professionalisation and contracting to government. This was expressed in a recent speech he made about the future of the welfare sector. However, as Helen Dickenson (@drhdickinson), Assoc. Prof with the Melbourne School of Government notes, this is not a new problem. The sector has grappled with its relationship to the state for some time. In order for the sector to not become ‘policy victims’, they must stop finger pointing to negotiate their role.


US - Nonprofits: The DNA of Democracy
Cynthia Gibson, Nonprofit Quarterly

Recently, a prominent consulting firm asked several nonprofit leaders for feedback on the advocacy strategy that the company had developed for a large foundation. The meeting opened with one consultant asking, “Is it really necessary to involve the public in advocacy, and if so when? Wouldn’t it just be easier to get the one guy working for the legislator to move the bill in the way we want?”

The assumptions behind these questions are mind-boggling, among them the notion that public participation in community problem solving is optional rather than necessary; that “one guy” is enough to move policies into law; and that lobbying is the only form of advocacy. Compounding the surreal nature of the meeting was a set of decision-making trees the firm had designed to help foundations assess when in the process public participation would be most productive.


ACNC Approach to Governance Under Scrutiny
Pro Bono News

A lawyer that specialises in Not for Profit and charity law has questioned the role and approach of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to governance issues in a case involving ‘rogue’ charity directors and allegations of financial mismanagement. - See more at: http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2014/07/acnc-approach-governance-under-scrutiny#sthash.1wP3qXqi.dpuf


UK - Who's speaking for whom? Exploring issues of third sector leadership, leverage and legitimacy
Third Sector Research Centre

At a time of public spending cuts and rising demand for many third sector services, the sector’s voice and its ability to influence policy are arguably increasingly significant.

This paper from Buckingham, Ellis Paine, Alcock, Kendall and Macmillan, draws on empirical research to explore the issues of legitimacy and leverage in relation to the national level leadership of the third sector. The findings suggest that opportunities for policy influence have contracted under the Coalition government, and in some cases the routes to influence had changed. The paper discusses the foundations upon which national sector leaders based their claims to legitimacy, including technical, political and values based legitimacy, as well as a growing reliance on ‘resonance’ within the sector and beyond.

... There was a frequent call for new ‘ideas’ and/or a new narrative based on shared values – such as equality, solidarity and social justice, for example, or indeed shared challenges, not for the sector itself but for its beneficiaries. Perhaps the impact of austerity will serve to sharpen the sector’s focus on finding common ground, bringing about a new strategic unity in response to difficult, rather than favourable times.


Protect some disabled, says Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews
Patricia Karvelas and Rick Morton, The Australian ($)

People currently on the disability support pension will be protected from an impending wave of reform with any new, strict eligibility measures aimed squarely at new entrants, if Kevin Andrews were in charge.

... Mr Andrews’s view is at odds with the man who reviewed the $100 billion welfare system for him. Former Mission Australia boss Patrick McClure said recently that he did not believe in automatically grandfathering and would apply changes immediately to people on the disability pension by age.

When asked if Mr Andrews searched for similar nuance by age, he replied: “I’m waiting on the advice of Mr McClure.”


Welfare reforms a long process: govt

Australian disability pensioners and carers are being told sweeping welfare reforms the government is considering are a long way off.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews says an interim report into welfare reform, released on Sunday, is not a final proposal and the government still has to assess its suggestions.


Reform white welfare, says Warren Mundine
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

The head of the Prime Minister’s indigenous Advisory Council will today mount a strong case for welfare reform, attacking those who say it will lead to poverty.

Mr Mundine will argue that welfare has gone from being a temporary or exceptional solution to one accepted in some circles as a long-term way of life.

He will argue that linking welfare recipients to real jobs as is being done by Andrew Forrest’s Generation One employment covenant should be applied to disadvantaged white welfare recipients, too.

... “I’m tired of hearing people attack welfare reform as something that will condemn people to poverty. Welfare recipients already are living in poverty. I am also tired of hearing people oppose welfare reform and at the same time say we need to treat welfare-recipients with dignity.

“Of course we do. And allowing people to languish on welfare and dismissing them as being unable to work is not treating them with dignity.’’


More welfare data to go online, says Kevin Andrews
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

More comprehensive income support data will be made available online as part of an Abbott government move to cut red tape.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews says the move to make the data easier to use takes effect today.


Bold, brave plan needed for childcare, says Sussan Ley
Rick Morton and Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley wants the Productivity Commission to deliver a “bold and brave” blueprint for the future of childcare that radically departs from the current, broken system.

... Ms Ley focused on the huge cost of childcare, both to parents and government, in her remarks at a forum at the [Melbourne Institute Economic and Social Outlook]conference.

“The debate needs to take into account the economic cost of childcare and early education with particular emphasis on the federal budget … and the sheer cost to the taxpayer,” she said.

But there was nothing yet on what direction the government might take.


Nanny rebates aren't about helping the rich
Trisha Jha, The Drum

The fact is that there's a crisis in childcare. While families are experiencing incredibly high costs, the sheer lack of childcare places in many areas is at the crux of the issue. The proposal to extend fee subsidies to nannies is a way of trying to alleviate some of the burden on families caused by a lack of supply in the rest of the system.

... It is generally not high income earners such as lawyers and bankers who need childcare for irregular hours. It's average earners such as nurses, emergency service workers and people with other caring responsibilities who need childcare outside the 8am to 6pm model that dominates long day care and family day care.


Access to early childhood education in Australia: Insights from a qualitative study
Kelly Hand, Jennifer Baxter, Reem Sweid, Nicole Bluett-Boyd and Rhys Price-Robertson, AIFS

Based on interviews with 94 parents in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia, this report investigates parents' knowledge of and attitudes towards Early Childhood Education (ECE), how different delivery systems affect participation, the key factors that influence parents, the factors that may support parents' use of ECE, Indigenous families, and parents' views on overcoming barriers to access.


US - Could Text Messages to Parents Help Close the ‘Word Gap’?
Barbara Ray, New America, EdCentral

It works with diabetes patients, smokers trying to quit, and others: a text message reminding you to take your medication or resist the urge to light up. There’s even a Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University devoted to the idea. So what if we could put that same idea to work boosting literacy in very young children in low-income families?

That’s the premise of Parent University, a six-week program originally designed by Chris Drew, now Director of Educator Initiatives at Digital Promise. The program gives parents a digital tap on the shoulder via text messages reminding them to interact with their kids to boost literacy—and close that ever-widening word gap. And it’s working, according to a recent, not-yet-published study that compared parents who received the program to those who didn’t.


Remake school chaplaincy as a proper welfare program or scrap it
William Isdale and Julian Savulescu, The Conversation

The High Court of Australia, for the second time, recently found that the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program (NSCSWP) is funded unconstitutionally, and so is invalid in its current form. The program, though, can be reconstituted through tied grants to state governments. The question is, should it be?


Disability support services: services provided under the National Disability Agreement 2012-13

In 2012–13, Australian governments spent $7.2 billion on disability support services under the National Disability Agreement. More than 312,500 people used services during this time. The most common services users were people with intellectual, physical and psychiatric disabilities.


Black market for cheap housing ‘out of control’
Jackson Stiles, The New Daily

Marginal and illegal housing has been exposed as a rampant problem by a fire in Sydney that raged in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

At approximately 1:40am on Wednesday, 15 people were evacuated from a blaze at a single-storey industrial complex on Burrows Road in the inner-city suburb of Alexandria.

The Korean and Japanese nationals were living in shipping containers, caravans and an old minibus behind the burning building.

... According to the yearly Rental Affordability Report by Anglicare Australia, less than one per cent of rental properties listed on the weekend of 5-6 April 2014 were affordable for anyone on a government payment.


MPs call for halt to reform as homeless ‘miss out’
Ashleigh Gleeson, Newcastle Herald

Labor MPs and candidates have launched a campaign in the Hunter to stop homeless people falling through the cracks, urging the state government to halt “ill-thought-out reforms”.

At least six specialist homelessness services are at risk of closure in the region because they have so far missed out on ongoing funding.


A vision of Sydney with homes for all
Tim Williams, Bristbane Times

If the fire in an illegal student housing compound in Alexandria make us focus on Sydney’s acute housing crisis then good will have come from evil. It is often said in Australia that change doesn’t happen without a burning platform.

We have one now.


Abbott paints himself into a corner over budget savings
David Crowe, The Australian ($)

It is ... true, as blogger Peter Brent argued yesterday, that it is “situation normal” for an Australian government to face a hostile Senate. What is different this year is the sheer scale of the agenda at stake. Virtually every major budget savings measure is under threat. Labor now opposes $39bn in savings and the crossbench senators are not helping. It will be hard for Abbott to wave this away as a minor difficulty.

Steadily, remorselessly, questions about the minor parties’ objections to the budget will turn into questions about the Prime Minister’s reluctance to call their bluff.

Abbott and the Coalition are so far behind in the polls that an early election is obviously off the agenda for now.


The wild ride is just beginning for Abbott
Mark Kenny, Brisbane Times

‘‘Anybody that wants to take money off our pensioners and wants to take money away from our health system and when people are dying on our waiting lists ... then you gotta ask the question, ‘where is the political mind of Tony Abbott?’.’’

So said Tasmanian Palmer United Party senator Jacqui Lambie on Thursday morning in comments that will hardly have endeared her to the Prime Minister. But then, she has previously called him a ‘‘political psychopath’’, so perhaps she’s softening?


School’s in as senators toughen stance on GP fee
Stefanie Balogh and Rosie Lewis, The Australian ($)

Clive's Palmer’s three senators have hardened their opposition to Tony Abbott’s $7 GP co-payment, welfare reforms and paid parental leave, as their most outspoken member accused the Prime Minister of putting votes ahead of the safety of his daughters.

... The government ...faces roadblocks on key policies, including its “earn or learn’’ welfare reforms requiring those aged under 30 to wait up to six months before they receive the Newstart Allowance, the $5.5 billion-a-year paid parental leave scheme and the budget measure to introduce a patient co-payment on GP visits.


It's the ideology, stupid! Australians aren't as pragmatic as we think
Sarah Burnside, The Guardian

Simply to call the government ideological ... tends to misstate the nature of the problem. Conservatives, libertarians, and socialists alike might all claim that their beliefs derive solely from pure logic; they can even show you facts and figures to prove it.

Scratch the surface, though, and you'll find an animating vision of the good society – perhaps shaped by the beauty of an efficient market, or the warmth of the collective good – which will also often reflect a healthy degree of political instinct and self-interest.


Sociocracy: An Organizational Structure for Distributed Leadership
Sarah Lozanova, Nonprofit Quarterly

Many organizations are governed by top-down, or “command and control,” management. This management approach (also called “Theory X” by psychologist Douglas McGregor) is based on the notion that the boss has all the answers and that employees will be slackers if not kept in line. By contrast, Theory Y depicts employees as intrinsically motivated by a participatory approach to solving problems.

Although the latter may sound like a good idea—helping to bring out the best in employees—it is difficult to implement on a factory floor or in an office setting. It requires a cultural shift that isn’t prevalent in schools, government or organizations. Sociocracy, or Dynamic Governance, is an organizational structure developed by Gerard Endenburg, a Quaker born in the Netherlands who was the CEO of Endenburg Elektrotechniek during a downturn. Sociocracy provides a non-authoritarian organizational structure that empowers people to make decisions within their domains and fosters trust and effective decision-making.


To understand Pope Francis 'we must think like Latin Americans', prefect of CDF says
Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

The main aim of Pope Francis’s pontificate is to draw the world’s attention to the poor and to change the global structures that lead to poverty, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in a long interview last week. Speaking to the Austrian Pontifical Missions magazine Alle Welt, Cardinal Gerhard Müller insisted that it was not possible to truly understand Pope Francis unless one could understand the Latin American “mindset”. Cardinal Muller has long experience of Peru over several decades and is a close friend of the Peruvian liberation theologian, Gustavo Gutierrez.

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