Daily News - Monday 12 January 2014

Posted 12 January 2015 8:00am

Scheme helping people to reshape lives
David Bowen, The Newcastle Herald

Newcastle man Peter Bisset hit the nail on the head when he said disability is about perception, not injury or illness (NDIS could have done more Letters 3/1).

I couldn’t agree more.

And what better way to challenge this broader perception than to support people with disability to participate in education, employment and their community. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is doing exactly that.


The Secret Lives of Us
Samantha Connor, The Stringer

The lives of people with disability are full of secrets. Not secrets-on-purpose, but accidental secrets.

Only a female wheelchair user knows the importance of a well-fitting bra so that your straps don’t fall down when travelling – only a sheltered workshop employee knows what it is like to sweat over some menial task and be paid three dollars an hour for a long day’s work. There are secrets associated with bodily functions, rarely talked about, to preserve whatever dignity remains to you – secrets associated with discrimination and shame and humiliation, inflicted upon you over and over. All of these secrets make up a rich tapestry of experience that is rarely observed by the rest of the community. Those secrets, sometimes divulged through the telling of stories, are the secrets that can lead to the changes that we desperately need to be included in daily Australian life.


Were disability advocacy groups too successful? It may explain their funding cuts
Graeme Innes, The Guardian

When there’s cricket on the radio, the sun is shining, and boats and beaches beckon, it’s easy to forget how tough last year was for Australians with disabilities. The final blow from the government, in typical Christmas Grinch style, was the defunding of the peak representative bodies of people with disabilities.

2014 was our annus horribilis.


How the unemployed ‘disappear’ and why it matters
Rose-Marie Stambe and David Fryer

In discussions about unemployment and welfare programs it is rarely mentioned that mass unemployment is required by our socio-political regime, a contemporary form of neoliberal capitalism. The Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment is a term used by economists and politicians to refer to the level of unemployment, between 4% and 6%, considered necessary to prevent inflation taking off.

We need to also consider that there just aren’t enough jobs to go around.


Floating a solution to the unemployment problem
Warwick McFadyen, The Age

When the 150 members of federal parliament resume their seats on Monday, February 9, they will have their minds focused fairly quickly on matters economic. Before Christmas Treasurer Joe Hockey revealed that revenue had taken a $6.2 billion hit in six months, and would continue to get hit over the next four years. Some commentators say that figure is too conservative. And while revenue was going down, unemployment was going up.

How then to steer the good ship Australia out of these dire straits and into calmer waters? If I may, I present:

A modest proposal whereupon the suffering of the nation may be alleviated by removing the poor people from being a burden on everyone else.


Government loses bid to evict caravan park resident due to lack of available public housing
Henry Belot, The Canberra Times

The ACT government has lost an appeal to evict a long-term resident of caravan park after a court cited a lack of available low income housing alternatives.

The occupant, a "mature aged" former shop assistant has lived in her caravan in a long-stay park since 1987, but became unable to pay her rent in recent years.

According to documents tendered in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the occupant repeatedly defaulted on her rental payments due to a combination of insecure employment, mental health issues, gambling, and an inability to access Centrelink payments.


Payday lender Nimble Money under fire for ads offering help to people struggling to pay utility bills
Clare Rawlinson, ABC

A new wave of advertising from a payday loan scheme has come under fire from the consumer and social services sector.

Nimble Money is pulling one of its ads, after criticism it exploits people in financial hardship.


Nimble's dumb payday loans target the people with least to give
Illawarra Mercury

The old name for this game is loan sharking, except Nimble don't break your legs, they'll just bust your bank account if you get into trouble with the vig.

The other name for this industry is payday lending, which if you've ever visited a low-income neighbourhood in the USA, you'll know is an industry that feasts on the poor via store front lenders where tellers sit behind metal grills doling out grubby notes to the desperate.

In an interesting display of cognitive dissonance, Nimble's chief executive, Sami Malia, said: "I shiver a little bit when I hear people talk about payday lending, because it has quite a negative stigma attached to it."


NT Government under pressure to address facilities for teenage prisoners in Darwin
Bridget Brennan, PM, ABC

The Northern Territory Government is being pressured to address serious concerns about the treatment of teenage prisoners in Darwin.

Defence lawyers, youth workers and Amnesty International are angry that underage prisoners have been moved into an old, adult prison. They say the facility is dilapidated and under resourced.


Gayle Forman on why we need to talk about depression
Gayle Forman, The Guardian

Two scenarios:

In the first, a 17-year-old with leukemia has to miss several weeks of school.

In the second, a 17-year-old with depression has to miss several weeks of school.

Are you more sympathetic to one than the other? Does one have a real disease, the other, something else – something which, though not quite hysteria, is not quite life-threatening either?


Social stock exchanges – do we need them?
Danielle Logue and Markus A. Höllerer, The Conversation

Public interest in the development of global impact investing received a significant boost last year, due to an international campaign to divest in fossil fuels by superannuation, pension, and university endowment funds.

This emerging market (estimated to be worth $650 billion by 2020) aims to connect social enterprises with so-called “impact” investors. An important aspect has been the creation of social stock exchanges.

While securities exchanges have been facilitating financial market transactions for centuries, the first social stock exchanges were officially launched only recently. So what are they? Are they working? And do we need them?


US - The Limits of Philanthropy: Time to End the Charitable Tax Deduction
Fran Quigley, Comonweal

In her 1998 book Sweet Charity?, the sociologist Janet Poppendieck examined the new food pantries and soup kitchens that sprang up in the 1990s as federal anti-poverty programs were being scaled back. While praising the many dedicated providers she encountered in her research, Poppendieck pointed out that recipients of charity often feel demeaned, even in settings where volunteers and donors try to minimize the unavoidable hierarchy of benevolence. As any mother forced to line up for help from the community food pantry can tell you, it truly is better to give than to receive.

Poppendieck also points out a more serious problem with our preference for charity over public welfare programs. “The growth of kindness and the decline in justice are intimately interrelated,” Poppendieck writes. “This massive charitable endeavor serves to relieve pressure for more fundamental solutions.” Poppendieck extends the metaphor to argue that broad participation in—and awareness of—charitable efforts act as a “moral safety valve.” Participating in a walk-a-thon for the homeless or donating a box of macaroni and cheese to a food drive may keep us from confronting the underlying injustice of a society where great wealth exists alongside grinding poverty. Charity may not be very effective at alleviating long-term poverty, but it is quite good at relieving our sense of guilt about it.


In new interview, Francis strongly defends criticisms of capitalism
Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis strongly defends his repeated criticisms of the global market economy in a new interview released Sunday, rebutting those who accuse him of "pauperism" by saying he is only repeating Jesus' message of caring for the poor.
"Jesus affirms that you cannot serve two masters, God and wealth," Francis states in the interview, bluntly asking: "Is it pauperism?"

"Jesus tells us that it is the 'protocol' on the basis of which we will be judged, it is what we read in Chapter 25 of Matthew: I had hunger, I had thirst, I was in prison, I was sick, I was naked and you helped me: dressed me, visited me, you took care of me," the pontiff continues.


Caring for poor is not communism: Pope

Fighting for social justice and the rights of the poor has always been the mission of the Catholic Church, long before communism was invented, Pope Francis said in an interview.

The Argentine-born pontiff often preaches against unbridled capitalism and greed, and has said that he would like to lead "a poor church, for the poor." This has led right-wing commentators in the United States to label him a Marxist.


Pope Francis Rattles U.S. Conservatives
Albert R. Hunt, Bloomberg

In the Reagan era, conservative Republicans felt they had a powerful ally in Pope John Paul II, whose forceful anti-communism and anti-abortion stances played out in American politics.

Today's conservatives are apprehensive about Pope Francis, who has changed the tone and culture, not the doctrines, of the Catholic Church in less than two years as pontiff. He stresses, with passion and authenticity, a commitment to addressing poverty and income inequality more than the social issues that have dominated much of the Catholic debate in America.

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