Daily News - Friday 8 August 2014

Posted 8 August 2014 8:30am

Church groups call for independent body to set welfare payment levels
Judith Ireland, Canberra Times

The power to set the level of welfare payments should be taken from the federal government and given to an independent body, according to major church groups.

In the face of long-standing concern from welfare groups that the unemployment benefit in particular is not enough for people to live on, the Salvation Army, Anglicare and Catholic Social Services are calling for a separate body to determine how much welfare Australians receive.


My 'healthy welfare card' idea could help tackle Indigenous disparity
Andrew Forrest, The Guardian

... let me dispel a piece of misinformation about the healthy welfare card I am championing. The proposed card is a sophisticated, bank-issued debit card. It can be used in any store to pay for any goods and services other than alcohol and gambling. It allows individuals to budget and avoid gambling, illegal drugs or alcohol.

It is the same type of card most Australians use every day to purchase food, pay rent and other bills, and it is targeted to support vulnerable Australians. It is not issued by Centrelink. It is not welfare quarantining, nor income management. There are no separate queues to use them and it is a card that operates within the mainstream financial system, so there is no stigma attached. And, contrary to more speculation, my recommendations do not include limiting the purchase of tobacco.


Mental health and the prison system: a policy concern
Stephen Hall, Power to Persuade

We need better mental health services in our prisons.

While diversionary courts for people suffering from mental illness have been established, there has been no progress in the provision of mental health services for the WA prison population. We just don’t seem to care that we have moved treatment of serious mental illness into prisons. Instead of providing treatment and care, we are content as a society to spend more imprisoning people with a serious mental illness, and restricting prisoners’ access to treatment.


Expressing compassion for homelessness
Moz, ABC Open

Recently, I have seen a lot of homeless people roaming through the streets during the day and night.

I have seen these homeless people sleeping in alleys, on steps of abandoned city buildings in Newcastle CBD.

The situation these people face night after night saddens me and has compelled me to speak out about the issue.

Firstly, I decided to attend the Vinnie’s CEO Sleepout in Newcastle last month and volunteer my videography skills to assist Vinnies raise more awareness about the community issue.


Australia's jobless rate hits highest level in more than a decade
Daniel Hurst, The Guardian

Australia’s unemployment rate has jumped to 6.4%, the highest level in 12 years, largely as a result of an increase in the number of people looking for work.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said the seasonally adjusted jobless rate in July was 0.3 percentage points higher than the previous month.

The increased unemployment rate resulted from increased participation, it said, with the number of people in the labour force – those who are willing and able to work – increasing by 43,400 and the number of employed people decreasing by 300.


Young people struggle to find work as youth jobless rate hits post-2001 high of 14 per cent

Industry experts are warning that young job seekers are having a difficult time finding work, amid soaring unemployment rates.

The unemployment rate unexpectedly jumped in July to 6.4 per cent - its highest level in 12 years.


Indigenous youth limit their dreams as they fear a lack of opportunities
Mission Australia

A perceived lack of educational and employment opportunities is leaving too many Indigenous youth with diminished hopes for their future, according to a new report released today by Mission Australia.

The 2014 Mission Australia Indigenous Aspirations report reveals when Indigenous youth do not have access to or awareness of opportunities available in their communities, their aspirations may fail to develop or be realised.


Jobless data puts the heat on budget
Michael Gordon, Sydney Morning Herald

The bad news in the latest jobless statistics is not that it is the biggest monthly figure since the global financial crisis, or that Australia now has a higher unemployment rate than the US.

Nor is it that the rate is the highest in 12 years, or that there are now more than 100,000 extra people looking for work than there were a year ago.

No, the most troubling news is the spike in the number of young people who cannot get jobs, even before the budget's punitive measures kick in to make them try even harder.


Crossbenchers Ricky Muir and John Madigan attack Joe Hockey's budget
Heath Aston, Sydney Morning Herald

Joe Hockey's budget roadshow has hit more potholes, with resistance to key measures from crossbencher Ricky Muir and claims by John Madigan that the budget lacks ''logic, heart and hope''.

The Treasurer was in Ballarat to meet Senator Madigan on Thursday and was due to sit down with Senator Muir on Friday.


Kevin Andrews moves to clear confusion over sex workers and waiting period for the dole
Judith Ireland, Sydney Morning Herald

Sex work will count as ''gainful'' employment when it comes to the federal government considering whether or not a young person should have to wait six months to get unemployment benefits.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has moved to clear up confusion over who would be subjected to government plans to make people under 30 wait for 26 weeks before receiving unemployment payments.


Foreign victims of violence and human trafficking may wait six months for help
Bridie Jabour, The Guardian

Foreign victims of domestic violence and human trafficking who are under 30 could have to wait six months to receive government assistance in Australia, according to the bills introducing the government’s welfare changes.

Meanwhile, exemptions to prevent vulnerable groups of people being kicked off income support for months at a time are not being enshrined in law.

... The government was forced to back away from a proposal to exclude sex workers from reductions in the waiting time for the dole on Thursday after the Australian reported their work was not being defined as “gainful employment”.


Australians struggling to cope as cost-of-living pressures bite: Choice survey
Amy Bainbridge, ABC

Australians are dipping into their savings, delaying purchases and using their credit cards to bridge the gap between pay days, according to a new consumer survey.

The Choice Consumer Pulse Report has highlighted a range of cost-of-living pressures facing Australians with one third of people surveyed saying they find it difficult to get by on their current income, and two-thirds saying they have cut back spending on non-essential items.


Community groups fear retaliatory funding cuts for comments critical of Coalition policy, warns ACOSS
Judith Ireland, Sydney Morning Herald

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been called on to pledge not to strip funding from community groups if they express views critical of the Coalition.

The advocacy role of civil society is being threatened under the Abbott government, the head of the Australian Council of Social Service Cassandra Goldie has warned, urging her colleagues in the community sector to speak out without fear in a speech at a conference in Canberra on Thursday.


US - Assessing Nonprofit Risk in Pay-For-Success Deals
Sam Schaeffer, Stanford Social Innovation Review

In December 2013 my organization, the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), became one of the first nonprofits to launch a Pay for Success (PFS) project in the United States. In this four-year, $13.5 million transaction, CEO will serve high-risk men recently released from prison and returning home to New York City and Rochester, New York. The intervention will provide 2,000 individuals with a program that CEO has proven, through outside evaluation, reduces recidivism. If individuals in the treatment group spend at least 8 percent fewer days in jail or prison than the control group, and show at least a 5 percent increase in their immediate and long-term employment, the federal government and the State of New York will return investors a portion of the savings. Returns for the 44 private investors financing the project can reach as high as 12.5 percent. However, if these targets are not met, investors stand to lose their capital.


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