Daily News - Monday 11 August 2014

Posted 11 August 2014 7:37am

Government funding of families a puzzle
Trisha Jha, Newcastle Herald

The federal government helps families with the costs of raising children through the family payments system. Every year, some $32billion is spent on programs like the Family Tax Benefits, the Schoolkids Bonus, childcare fee subsidies, parenting payments and paid parental leave.

But are families really well served by this system?


Patrick McGorry calls for more mental health research funding
Sean Parnell, The Australian

Former Australian of the year Patrick McGorry is pushing for mental health to be afforded a greater share of public funding, ­arguing the benefits would flow beyond the patient and help boost the nation’s productivity.

Highlighting the level of awareness and funding for cancer and cardiovascular disease, Professor McGorry said mental health received only 6-7 per cent of Australia’s combined health budget but was responsible for about 13 per cent of the cost burden — an estimated $29 billion a year.


Wait for the dole for 113,000 under-30s will have ‘deeply disturbing’ effect
Oliver Milman, The Guardian

More than 100,000 young people will have to wait six months for unemployment benefits under the government’s proposed budget measure, with social services advocates warning they face “deeply disturbing” knock-on effects.

Briefings given to various groups by the Department of Social Services show that 113,000 people a year aged under 30 will be denied the Newstart and Youth Allowance payments for six months.


The impact of unemployment
Ian Verrender, PM, ABC

It seems we're all going to have to get used to the idea of higher unemployment.

Yesterday, the percentage of Australians out of work jumped to 6.4 per cent, the highest level in 12 years and a figure well beyond what most experts were expecting.

Today, the Reserve Bank weighed into the debate. Its quarterly Statement of Monetary Policy warned that the Australian unemployment rate will remain elevated until 2016.


Big news on jobless data burying the bigger problem - youth unemployment
Ross Gittins, Sydney Morning Herald

Many people have it in their heads that unemployment rises because people lose their jobs and employment falls. That's true only in recessions. It's rare for employment to fall – it fell only briefly even during the global financial crisis.

No, the main reason unemployment rises outside of recessions is that the economy isn't growing fast enough to employ all the extra people joining the labour force from education, as immigrants or as mothers rejoining.

That's what's been happening over the past two years. And young people – particularly those who leave school or training too early – have borne most of the burden of insufficient job creation. We should be doing much better by them than Work for the Dole and denying them benefits for six months to keep them hungry.


Being unemployed isn't as bad as you think
Peter Martin, The Age

If you are unemployed you are entitled to feel dreadful.

A year ago you were one among 686,000. Now you are among 789,000. An extra 103,000 Australians have joined you in the past year making your chances of being re-employed a good deal worse.

But, read on, it’s probably not as bad as you think.


Meet spambludger, the program that's trolling work for the dole
Alasdair, Pedestrian

The Government's proposed reforms to the Work For The Dole scheme, which will require job seekers to apply for 40 jobs a month as well as performing 25 hours of community service a week, have been roundly pilloried in the Australian media since they were announced at the end of July.

Now, a plucky programmer is attempting to make things easier for jobless Australians with the help of SpamBludger, a web-based system that will automatically generate and email job applications to potential employers, while cc'ing in Senator Eric Abetz, the brains behind the changes to the scheme.


Homeless hit by soaring prices
Cassandra Wilkinson, The Australian

This week is national Homeless Persons Week. To bring attention to the plight of some of Australia’s neediest citizens, organisers are asking the public to take time out to, “set up an awareness stall” or maybe go busking. They are also suggesting we write emails and letters to politicians about homelessness and housing.

I’m not going to go busking, partly because my council requires a permit and partly because my rendition of Stairway to Heaven is very bad. However, I am writing an open letter of sorts to my members of parliament to press the case for action on housing. Straying somewhat from the recommended text, I am suggesting that rather than increase funding for the National Affordable Housing Agreement, the Council of Australian Governments should acknowledge that the NAHA has failed to cure homelessness.


Homeless and connected: mobile phones and the Internet in the lives of homeless Australians
Justine Humphry, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (via APO)

This project set out to research how a group of consumers – people experiencing homelessness – access and use mobile phones and the Internet (covering fixed and wireless Internet sources). The aim was to provide the evidence to inform the delivery of public services by community, welfare and government agencies to this group of consumers, and to develop and improve on telecommunications policies and initiatives that address the needs and challenges of consumers facing hardship, including homelessness.


Former governor-general Dame Quentin Bryce to chair new domestic violence taskforce in Queensland
Ashleigh Stevenson, Saskia Edwards and Louisa Rebgetz, ABC

Former governor-general Dame Quentin Bryce has been announced as the chair of a new taskforce aimed at reducing domestic violence incidents in Queensland.

The State Government said the unit was designed to address the rapid rise of domestic violence incidents throughout the state.


High price of alcohol drives demand for illegal drugs
Inga Ting, The Age

The expense of alcohol is driving Australia's high rates of illicit drug use, health experts say, as new figures show Australia's combination of high levels of use and expensive illicit substances buck international trends.

Australia is one of the most expensive countries in which to buy illicit substances. It ranks second for amphetamine, fourth for cocaine, fifth for methamphetamine and eighth for both ecstasy and cannabis, according to price data in the 2014 UN World Drug Report and a 2014 National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre report on drug use trends.

However, high prices have not dampened demand for these drugs.


Will Daniel Andrews stand up to the greedy and powerful gambling lobby?
Tim Costello, The Age

Australians are the biggest losers in the world when it comes to gambling, after the Singaporeans. We lose $961 each year, on average, per resident. Indeed Victorians squandered $2.3 billion on playing the pokies in the 10 months to May this year alone.

And that is just what we spend. We are losing out in other ways too.

The gambling industry is one of the most powerful and greediest lobby groups in Australia. It has already infiltrated and to a large extent tamed our federal politicians, and now it has declared war on the Napthine government, targeting 22 of its marginal seats in the November state election.


Budget cuts will lead to more domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, DLP Senator John Madigan says

Federal Government budget cuts will cause an increase in domestic violence and substance abuse, Democratic Labour Party Senator John Madigan says.

Senator Madigan, who met with Treasurer Joe Hockey to discuss the budget last week, says the budget targets people in society "who have got the least".


Joe Hockey is too moderate for his budget
Troy Bramston, The Australian ($)

In 1996, as Joe Hockey was doorknocking his North Sydney electorate drumming up votes for his first bid for parliament, he came across Bob Hawke’s house. Nobody was home. He called Hawke later and they immediately hit it off. They now regularly play golf and socialise together.

“While he’s on the opposite side of the fence to me I often joke with him that I think he’s really right-wing Labor,” Hawke told Madonna King for her biography, Hockey: Not Your Average Joe (UQP).


Public Service nervous in wake of Human Services sell-off
Noel Towell, The Canberra Times

The break-up and sell-off of the Department of Human Services looks set to trigger a fresh round of deep cuts to the federal public service.

The government began the process on Friday of searching for private sector players to take over $29 billion in Medicare and pharmaceutical benefits currently undertaken by Human Services, the government’s largest department.


UK - The Observer view on why a fair society should prize its care workers
Editorial, The Observer

A small group of undaunted social care workers in Doncaster will embark on Monday on their 48th strike day. Their employer is Care UK, a company in which Bridgepoint Capital, a private equity firm, has a majority shareholding. Care UK is a company with an increasingly large slice of the flourishing business of providing residential care and social care in the home and a complex financing structure that results in a very small tax bill. As the Observer reports, it has announced cuts of up to 35% in care workers' wages in Doncaster, slashing already low pay by up to £7,000 a year and imposing restrictions on holidays and sick pay.


UK - Celebrity charity endorsements benefit the star more than the charity, research finds
Sam Burne James, Third Sector

Celebrity endorsements of charities can give greater benefit to the star than the charity, according to a report from two academics.

Professor Dan Brockington of the University of Manchester and Professor Spencer Henson of the University of Sussex say that the public are more likely to support charities because of personal or family connections than celebrity-led promotion.

In Signifying the Public: Celebrity Advocacy and Post-democratic Politics, published in the International Journal of Cultural Studies, they cite two surveys of 1,100 and 2,000 members of the public, which found that 66 per cent of people were unable to name a celebrity linked with any one of seven high-profile causes.


UK - Peterborough prison social impact bond pilot fails to hit target to trigger repayments
Susannah Birkwood,

A study of the government’s social impact bond pilot project at HM Prison Peterborough has found that the first phase of the scheme did not reduce the number of reconvictions sufficiently to trigger payments to investors.

The study by QinetiQ and the University of Leicester shows a fall in reoffending of 8.4 per cent compared to a national comparison group, but reoffending rates were required to drop by 10 per cent in order to trigger payments to investors under terms set out by the Ministry of Justice.


5 bad reasons to make your social enterprise for-profit . . . and 3 good ones
Rich Leimsider, BRW

Should a new organisation committed to social good choose a for-profit model or a nonprofit one? This is a question we face each year at my organisation, Echoing Green, when we evaluate thousands of business plans from social entrepreneurs seeking start-up capital and support. This year, nearly 50 per cent of those plans proposed using a for-profit model. And when we asked these entrepreneurs why, some of their reasons were just plain bad.


Why social entrepreneurship has become a distraction: it’s mainstream capitalism that needs to change
Pamela Hartigan, Oxfam Blogs

Twenty years ago I fell in love with “social entrepreneurship”, its promise, and most of all, the stories of the champions that practiced this approach. They didn’t take “it can’t be done” as a deterrent – in fact, as one of them described to me, “’it’s impossible’ is our clarion call to action”. As the first Managing Director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, an entity supported by World Economic Forum’s founder Klaus Schwab and his wife, Hilde, I spent eight years identifying, celebrating and supporting such individuals, providing them with opportunities to enter the coveted corporate enclave that is the annual meeting of the WEF at Davos – which in turn gave them access to networks of power they had never been able to tap. Many of these social entrepreneurs formed strong and lasting relationships with members of the corporate C suite, heads of philanthropic foundations and the media leaders that attend Davos. It was difficult not to become infected with the bug of “social entrepreneurship”.


Senator Eric Abetz denies suggesting link between abortions and breast cancer
Karen Barlow and staff, ABC

Cabinet minister Eric Abetz has denied drawing a credible link between abortions and breast cancer, but he says the proponent of the theory is qualified and has a right to express her views.

The leader of the Government in the Senate has been criticised after speaking of the link on Channel Ten program The Project last night while discussing his involvement with the World Congress of Families event being held in Melbourne this month.


WCF Regional Event in Melbourne, Australia – “Life, Family and Freedom” Conference –August 30
World Congress of Families News (pdf)

A World Congress of Families Regional Event – “Life, Family and Freedom” – will take place in Melbourne, Australia on August 30. Distinguished speakers will address many timely topics, among them: The Hon. Kevin Andrews, MP, Minister for Social Services and frequent WCF speaker – WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs on “Pro-Family Policies Worldwide” – Warwick and Alison Marsh of Dads4Kids, Fatherhood Foundation on “The Importance of Fathers” – His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, on “Natural Law and Conscience: Key to Freedom and to the Integrity of Marriage and the Family” – Mrs. Louise Kirk, U.K Coordinator of Alive to The World character education, on “Sexuality: A Gift for Life” – Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, President, Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, on “The Link Between Abortion and Breast Cancer” – and Rev. the Honorable Fred Niles,
MLC, on “God’s Creative Purpose for Planet Earth”...


Is the World Congress of Families "hateful"? Talking points
World Congress of Families News (pdf)

In response to growing attacks by sexual radicals and the anti-family left, World Congress of Families has prepared concise talking points that explain our positions on the natural family, marriage, and allegations that family advocates are “hateful” for opposing the sexual rights agenda


US - Rise of culture wars has meant ignoring the common good
Vinnie Rotondaro, National Catholic Reporter

What have the culture wars done to Christianity?

The religious right was enormously well organized and enormously well funded. And for my entire generation, they were the public voice of Christianity. For people whose access to Christianity is largely what they see on television or in the news or in the paper, they got to define the public face of Christianity. And study after study has shown that the millennial generation has gotten that message loud and clear, and they don't find it interesting at all. They find it repugnant. In 2007, a Barna study showed that among non-Christians under 30, only 15 percent had a positive view of Christianity. When they were asked to describe Christianity, the words they gave were judgmental, hypocritical, old-fashioned, and too political.

I'm 32, and sometimes when I mention I'm Catholic, I get a look.

Right, and if people don't know that there's something else that Catholicism represents -- if they don't already know about Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, or Sr. Dorothy Stang, about the church's concern for justice and peace -- then there's no way they would ever learn about any of it in the broader media.

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