Daily News - Friday 6 June 2014

Posted 6 June 2014 8:16am

States yet to sign federal deal for homeless services funding
Louise Yaxley, ABC

Government funding for services for the homeless beyond the end of this month remains uncertain because states and territories have not yet signed up to a deal with the Commonwealth.


$400m needed for early learning
Natasha Bita, The Australian ($)

Parents will pay more for kindergarten next year unless the federal government coughs up $400 million more in funding, state governments warned yesterday.

Queensland Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek warned that some kids would miss out on kindy, and preschool teachers might lose their jobs.


Why caring for Australia’s carers should be a government priority
Sue Malta, Briony Dow and Melanie Joosten

It’s no news that Australia is undergoing structural ageing – as is the rest of the developed world. Today 14% of Australia’s population is 65 and over. By 2061 this proportion is expected to rise to 22%.

Despite the doom, gloom and scaremongering that surrounds the mention of older adults and the aged care agenda, 90% of older people live at home and continue to do so into very old age. While nearly half of people aged 65 years and over have a disability or health condition that can restrict or limit their daily activities, the majority of older adults continue to live out their lives independent of residential aged care.


Mothers doing it tough
Michael Short, The Age

Motherhood might be the most natural thing imaginable but for many women mothering does not necessarily come naturally. That does not make such women poor mothers, it makes them people deserving of assistance. The demands on all mothers are manifold and can be overwhelming.

Today's guest in The Zone is a mother who is engineering support for mothers through a grassroots organisation that is also helping fathers better understand just how much their partners have to manage and achieve.


US - How Dads Influence Teens' Happiness
Paul Raeburn, Scientific American

In 2011 administrators at Frayser High School in Memphis, Tenn., came to a disturbing realization. About one in five of its female students was either pregnant or had recently given birth. City officials disputed the exact figures, but they admitted that Frayser had a problem. The president of a local nonprofit aimed at helping girls blamed the disturbing rate of teen pregnancy on television.


Dads: If you want your daughters to be ambitious you'd better wash the dishes
Jordi Roth, Women's Agenda

Fathers who want their daughters to aim for prestigious or non-traditional professions should start by doing the dishes, a new study suggests.
The research, to be published in Psychological Science, finds that fathers need to do more than just speak about gender equality. They need to demonstrate equality in household chores.


These Mental Illnesses and Addictions Are More Dangerous Than Heavy Smoking
John Upton, Pacific Standard

Everyone knows about the incredible health risks associated with lighting up and drawing nicotine and other toxic chemicals into their lungs and bloodstreams, but the oft-deadlier consequences of a number of other addictions and mental illnesses can frequently be clouded by the public’s intense focus on tobacco smoke.

Citing the World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease study, University of Oxford psychiatrists say mental and behavioral disorders accounted for 232,000 deaths in 2010—up from 138,000 in 1990. More than three-quarters of those 2010 deaths were linked to substance abuse disorders. Some of the disorders have stronger associations with premature deaths than smoking.


Welfare groups warn changes will spark catastrophe
Dan Harrison, Beau Donelly, The Age

More than half a million young people could need emergency assistance - including food packages - as a direct result of an Abbott government change which welfare groups have warned will lead to ''catastrophe''.

In an admission that a mandatory six-month wait for benefits for those under 30 is likely to push hundreds of thousands of people into crisis, officials have told Senate hearings the government had allocated $230 million over four years to provide emergency relief to those affected.


Emergency dole payments will be funded by benefit cuts, senators told
Lenore Taylor, The Guardian

Emergency relief payments to young people who are cut off from unemployment benefits under changes in the federal budget will be partly funded by the money saved from not paying them the benefits, Senate estimates has heard.


Frustration is no solution
David Crowe, The Australian

The Families Minister, Kevin Andrews, started the changes by appointing Patrick McClure, the former head of Mission Australia, to review the system. That report is with the Prime Minister’s office and will be released within weeks. Acting on it is now a priority for the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, as well as Andrews.

When the second phase is unveiled, most likely towards the end of the year, the government will be sorely tempted to use it to make significant savings in the mid-year budget update. This is not a foregone conclusion, because it could equally choose to get rid of minor payments that do not cost much but complicate the system.


Warren Mundine puts Indigenous council offside with suggestion of extra $600 million in savings to portfolio
Lindy Kerin, The World Today, ABC

The Prime Ministers' chief advisor on Indigenous affairs, Warren Mundine, has angered members of his own council, with suggestions about further funding cuts in the portfolio post-budget.

The Federal Government cut funding to Indigenous programs by $534 million in the budget, but Mr Mundine says a further $600 million in savings could be made.


It's official: Australians don't pay enough tax — Australians say so
Peter Martin, The Age

For the first time in years, we don't feel overtaxed.

The latest Per Capita tax survey shows more Australians believe they pay the right amount of tax than believe they pay too much, the first such finding in three years.


Public Attitudes towards Taxation and Government Expenditure
David Hetherington, Per Capita

The results can be grouped into four primary themes, three of which constitute the reversal of trends from the earlier Surveys.

The first is that a majority of Australians (53%) now believe they pay about the right amount of tax, a jump of 17 percentage points since the last Survey. By contrast, the share who say they pay too much tax has fallen by 18 points.

The second theme is a turnaround in support for higher spending on public services. The share of those who want to see spending increased or maintained increased by eight points to 85%, while those who wish to see spending cut fell by four points to 8%.

Thirdly, Australians increasingly view the tax system as unfairly regressive: we believe those at the bottom and the middle of the income ladder are paying their fair share of tax, but those at the top are not. After falling in earlier Surveys, the proportion of those who said that high income earners paid too little tax jumped by 17 points to 72%. Simultaneously, there were significant jumps in the proportions who said that low- and middle-income earners and small businesses pay the right amount of tax.

The final theme that emerges from the Survey findings is that Australians want increases to public services to be funded by high income earners who they do not perceive as paying their fair share.


No such thing as a free lunch, it’s just fiscal illusion
Tony Makin, The Australian

The very real budgetary problems the federal and state governments face stem from the phenomenon of fiscal illusion, the perception that government ser­vices are free.

Voters quite naturally want more government spending on measures that directly benefit them individually, yet have become increasingly blind to the fact that taxes have to rise at some stage to fund them. This is because governments face budget constraints, just as households do.


No, the IPA is not secretly running Australia
Jason Wilson, The Guardian

Last weekend, The Saturday Paper ran an “exposé” by Mike Seccombe on the influence of the Institute of Public Affairs, the notorious libertarian thinktank, over the Abbott government. It was an odd story. It painted the IPA as the government’s puppet masters, but offered little that hasn’t been raked over in other news outlets, on blogs, and in social media.

... The budget measures that would please the IPA most — attacks on public education, health and welfare — are the same ones that have eroded the government’s standing and fired up the senate. The institute might help to embolden the government in following its fundamental political instincts, but the limited popular purchase of their ideas ought to be another source of comfort.


2014 VCOSS Summit: Setting the Agenda

On Friday 30 May, VCOSS held its 2014 Summit, bringing together some of the leading figures from across the community, politics, the media and business to examine the critical social and economic issues facing Victoria.

... Julia [Unwin] made the point that the community sector is central to advocating for change. She outlined a recipe for change, and to ensure that the issues that matter remain on the public agenda and at the forefront of decision making:

- Recognise the crisis/problem
- Acknowledge angry voices
- Identify surprising friends.

Julia reminded the Summit that change occurs because the community sector identifies problems and urges change. She said the power of the community sector is that it can shine a bright light on social problems that might otherwise go unnoticed.


UK - Iain Duncan Smith: a reputation beyond accountability?
Bernadette Meaden, Ekklesia

So: Iain Duncan Smith was visibly appalled by conditions on a severely deprived housing estate, as most people would be. He then went on to establish a think tank largely staffed by like-minded people, which supports and reinforces his ideological approach to the subject. This certainly shows commitment, but can it be said to make his policies any more likely to be right?

Many of the assumptions on which his work has been based have been called into question by others who are equally committed. ‘Truth and Lies About Poverty’ a report from the Joint Public Issues Team, addresses five myths the general public tend to believe about people in poverty. They point out that the emphasis on addiction, on ‘intergenerational worklessness’ and ‘welfare dependency’ have fuelled myths which have made welfare reform popular with the general public, but are just that: myths.


Folktales of the policy elites
Claude Fischer, The Berkeley Blog

In the new world of blogs and tweets and breaking-news bulletins flashing across billions of big, medium, and small screens, we are learning that one of the down sides of instant connection is that false news can in a flash go from being an off-hand comment to a globally recognized “fact.” (Consider the person falsely accused of being the Boston Marathon bomber.) The hope, often vain, is that corrections will just as quickly catch up with the mistakes.

There are also slower, longer-lasting false stories that keep reverberating around at least part of the web, like those about President Obama’s heritage. And then there are “urban legends” that are passed around not by conspiracy theorists, gullible web surfers, or gossip-column fans, but by leading journalists, policymakers, and even (gasp!) academics. Folktales of the policy elites.


Pope Francis on the economy and the distribution of income
Evangelii Gaudium

The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.


Catholic and libertarian? Pope’s top adviser says they’re incompatible
David Gibson, Religion News Service

Taking direct aim at libertarian policies promoted by many American conservatives, the Honduran cardinal who is one of Pope Francis’ top advisers said Tuesday (June 3) that today’s free market system is “a new idol” that is increasing inequality and excluding the poor.

“This economy kills,” said Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, quoting Francis frequently in a speech delivered at a conference on Catholicism and libertarianism held a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

The pope, Maradiaga said, grew up in Argentina and “has a profound knowledge of the life of the poor.” That is why, he said, Francis continues to insist that “the elimination of the structural causes for poverty is a matter of urgency that can no longer be postponed.”


Bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, found in septic tank at former Irish home for unwed mothers
Terrence McCoy, The Washington Post

In a town in western Ireland, where castle ruins pepper green landscapes, there’s a six-foot stone wall that once surrounded a place called the Home. Between 1925 and 1961, thousands of “fallen women” and their “illegitimate” children passed through the Home, run by the Bon Secours nuns in Tuam.

Many of the women, after paying a penance of indentured servitude for their out-of-wedlock pregnancy, left the Home for work and lives in other parts of Ireland and beyond. Some of their children were not so fortunate.

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