Daily News - Friday 7 November 2014

Posted 7 November 2014 7:59am

Income quarantines only for those ‘at risk’, suggests McClure review
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Income management should be targeted only at people deemed “at risk”, rather than adopted as a blanket approach applying to all welfare recipients, the McClure review will suggest.

While Patrick McClure’s review does not directly respond to mining magnate Andrew Forrest’s recommendation of a “healthy welfare card” that bans purchases of items such as alco­hol and gambling, it offers a different solution to income management after the current scheme expires next July.

It is understood the McClure review panel believes the results from income management are mixed, and that its continuation should be based on a targeted, “cohort-based” approach and not be generalised to all welfare recipients. It also believes more research needs to be done because of conflicting evidence.


Indigenous Minister Nigel Scullion denies funding furore
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Almost 3000 indigenous funding applications have been received from across the country but the Abbott government’s radical new funding model will mean many of these applicants will miss out.

The Australian has spoken to many indigenous groups who will not speak on the record because they fear their funding will be compromised, but say that the tough new criteria in the first round of the $4.8 billion Indigenous Advancement Strategy is not clear.

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, defended the strategy and said that the criteria for funding were clear.


Funding demand shows flaws in Indigenous Advancement Strategy
Australian Greens, media release

The Australian Greens said today the Government needs to listen to community concern over funding and the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services.

"From the point the Government's new Indigenous Advancement Strategy was released, organisations have voiced their concerns to me about the process, specifically that important service providers would lose funding," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said today.

"The Government isn't listening to these concerns and it is troubling to see reports today that groups are unwilling to speak about these issues publicly over concerns their applications will be compromised.

"You could say that this is essentially like a gag on organisations.


Mental health services for Aboriginal Australians inadequate, inappropriate, report warns
Nadia Daly, ABC

Mental health services for Aboriginal Australians are "both inadequate and inappropriate", and immediate changes are needed to address growing rates of suicide, depression and other mental health issues among Indigenous youth, a new report says.

The report is part of the Close the Gap initiative, launched in 2006 to reduce disparities between Indigenous Australians and the rest of the population by 2031, including mortality rates, education and employment outcomes.


Changes to NT's alcohol treatment scheme
Cathy Van Extel, ABC (audio)

The Northern Territory Government has backed down on a controversial element of its mandatory alcohol treatment scheme.

Problem drinkers are referred for mandatory treatment after being taken into protective custody three times in two months.

Under the current laws, they can be charged with a criminal offence if they abscond.

But that's about to change - along with other aspects of the scheme.


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: strategies to address information gaps
Bonello MR, Hilder L & Sullivan EA, AIHW

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is emerging as a public health issue in Australia. Health-care providers and policy makers need accurate and timely data in a useable format to monitor and prevent FASD. This bulletin identifies ways to facilitate the collection and reporting of FASD-related information in Australia. The quality of information available in existing data collections is variable and incomplete for ascertaining cases of FASD. Regular surveillance and monitoring have been identified as priorities for determining incidence and prevalence.


Calls for National Family Violence Summit
Pro Bono News

Experts have called for a national focus on addressing the issue of family violence at a Senate hearing held in Victorian State Parliament in Melbourne yesterday.

Rodney Vlais, Acting CEO of No To Violence and the Men’s Referral Service, said the Government needed to step up to protect victims of domestic violence.


Caseloads leap as judges retire, forcing long wait for family court cases
Heath Aston, Simone Ziaziaris, The Canberra Times

Parents locked in child custody disputes and couples going through acrimonious divorces will wait up to three years to have their cases finalised as "drastic underfunding" of the Federal Circuit Court and a mass exodus of retiring judges exacerbate already long waits.

Fairfax Media has learnt that 12 judges are set to retire over the next 12 months – almost one-fifth of the circuit court's 65 judges. The circuit court works in tandem with the Family Court, dealing with more than 80,000 divorces and custody matters a year.


'Junk science' behind criticism of quality childcare, experts claim
Judith Ireland, The Sydney Morning Herald

A report by a free market think tank that found little evidence to support improving childcare quality has been rejected by academics and experts.

University of Toronto professor Charles Pascal, who is in Brisbane meeting with childcare experts, said that "good evidence needs to trump ideology" and "junk science".

"The science regarding the social, emotional and cognitive impact of high-quality early learning and care on all children is unassailable."

He was responding to a Centre for Independent Studies report, released on Wednesday, questioning the changes introduced under the Gillard government in 2012 that aimed to improve childcare quality by increasing the number of carers per child and boosting staff qualifications.


Childcare report author Trisha Jha hits back at critics
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Critics of a report on the lack of evidence that recent childcare reforms will have benefits for children, have either “not read or not understood the report”, the Centre for Independent Studies says.

The report, Regulating for Quality in Childcare: The Evidence Base, by policy analyst Trisha Jha, found there was little evidence that regulations dictating lower staff-child ratios and higher staff qualifications led to significant benefits in terms of cognitive or behavioural development in young children.


Centrelink call waiting racks up costs for poor
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Tens of thousands of pensioners and welfare recipients are being stung by high call costs to Centrelink, prompting the National Welfare Rights Network to call for a 1800 free-call facility for more people.

In a letter to Human Services Minister Marise Payne, the network notes with concern that the majority of lines used by the department’s clients are still ‘13’ listed numbers.

Centrelink’s two main lines, the self-service line and the ­reporting line, only offer a ‘13’ ­option. General inquiry lines for information about payments and services that are most frequently used do not provide a no-cost 1800 option.


Volunteer Warning on Work for the Dole
Pro Bono News

Volunteering Victoria has voiced concern about the impact of the work for the dole scheme, which will compel some job seekers to take on volunteer roles to maintain their dole payments.

Volunteering Victoria’s CEO Sue Noble has told an International Volunteer Managers Day event hosted by the Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre,that the value of skilled and experienced volunteer managers are facing many challenges in the rapidly evolving volunteering landscape.


Jobless rate puts promise at risk
Paul Osborne, AAP

Australia's jobless rate remains at a near 12-year high, putting the Abbott government's one million jobs promise at risk.

The unemployment rate held steady at 6.2 per cent in October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

At the 2013 election the coalition promised one million new jobs over five years and two million over the decade.

This means 200,000 jobs need to be created each year on average.


A price on retirement, as male dropouts saving grace
David Uren, The Australian ($)

Unemployment has held at close to a 12-year high of 6.2 per cent and would be climbing even higher but for the growing numbers of men opting out of the workforce altogether.

The number of jobs across Australia is growing at only half the rate of the adult population, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, forcing more people to decide whether to actively hunt for jobs or take a temporary or ­permanent break from working.

Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk said that were it not for people dropping out of the search for work, the jobless rate would now be 7.2 per cent.


Rental stress mapped by electorates
Sarah Toohey, VCOSS

ABS data recently analysed by CHP shows that 1-in-4 renters in Victoria are low-income households (earning $640/week or less) who are paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent. Where rental stress is high, homelessness is also high.

We have produced a league table of all 88 electorates to show where rental stress is most severe. Below is the data mapped onto a Victorian electoral maps – click on the maps to download the PDFs. The results further point to the need for an affordable housing strategy such as the one proposed in the ‘Making Social Housing Work’ plan that CHP released with six other peaks including VCOSS.


Developing a culture of evaluation and research
Jacqueline Stewart, AIFS

Increasingly, organisations are expected to demonstrate, and document, the differences their services are making for children, families and communities (McCoy, Rose, & Connolly, 2013; 2014). Evaluation and research helps to respond to this demand. Evidence gained through these activities helps to identify whether programs have achieved what was intended and enables organisations to be transparent and accountable (see Box 1).

To develop effective evaluation and research functions, organisations needs a strong culture of evaluation and research; a culture in which evidence is deliberately sought in order to better implement and deliver programs. Without such a culture any efforts to build effective evaluation and research activities will be undermined (Mayne, 2010).


Are you a poor logician? Logically, you might never know
Stephan Lewandowsky and Richard Pancost, The Conversation

Ignorance is associated with exaggerated confidence in one’s abilities, whereas experts are unduly tentative about their performance. This basic finding has been replicated numerous times in many different circumstances. There is very little doubt about its status as a fundamental aspect of human behaviour.


Critics display meanness of spirit on Whitlam's death
Mark Latham, The Canberra Times

Among life's most reliable performance indicators, when your wife screams at you for something you've written, you know you've got a problem.

That's what happened to the News Corp blogger Andrew Bolt when he started dancing on Gough Whitlam's grave within hours of the great man's death. His wife yelled at him. And with good reason.

Whitlam died in the early morning of Tuesday, October 21. By 8.13am Bolt was attacking him, particularly the Whitlam government's decision to "end the assimilation project, both for Aborigines and immigrants".


Pope says annulment process should be cheaper and more efficient
Francis X Rocca, The Catholic Herald

Pope Francis said the Church’s marriage annulment process should be more efficient and perhaps even free of charge, and he decried any attempts to exploit it for profit.

“Some procedures are so long and so burdensome, they don’t favour (justice), and people give up,” the pope said. “Mother church should do justice and say: ‘Yes, it’s true, your marriage is null. No, your marriage is valid.’ But justice means saying so. That way, they can move on without this doubt, this darkness in their soul.”


Pope Francis sacked Catholic official for profiting from divorce fees
Josephine McKenna, The Telegraph (UK)

Pope Francis has dismissed a Catholic official for selling marriage annulments for thousands of pounds, in what the pontiff described as a "public scandal".

The Pope made the surprise disclosure as he greeted canon lawyers taking part in a course on marriage dissolution, being conducted at the Vatican by the Roman Rota – the Church's highest appeal court.

"I had to dismiss a person from a tribunal some time ago who said: 'Give me $10,000 (£6,300) and I'll take care of both the civil and ecclesiastical procedures,'" Francis told the group. "Please not this!"


If you want more evidence of the Francis earthquake, look at the finances
John L allen, Crux

Because Pope Francis is perceived as a maverick, almost everything he says or does is taken as a break with the past even when it clearly isn’t. His rhetoric on the economy, for instance, or his recent comments on evolution, are both utterly consistent with established papal teaching, and yet both have been trumpeted as groundbreaking.

There’s at least one case, however, in which the exact opposite is true – something revolutionary actually is happening, but is rarely perceived as the complete earthquake it actually represents.

It’s the financial reform of the Vatican, launched by Francis and spearheaded by Australian Cardinal George Pell, whose audacious aim is to convert the Vatican from a cautionary tale when it comes to money management into a role model of best practices.

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