Daily News - Monday 25 August 2014

Posted 25 August 2014 8:21am

Two year study shows new approach can end homelessness and save money
Mission Australia, media release

A two year study of a new Housing First approach for helping chronically homeless men to secure and sustain long-term housing has revealed remarkable results, with almost 90% of participants still in their homes at the end of the project.

Mission Australia’s philanthropically funded MISHA (Michael’s Intensive Supported Housing Accord) Project was a Housing First initiative run in Western Sydney, providing 74 men who had struggled with years of homelessness with immediate access to long-term housing, intensive support services and case management for a period of two years.


Senators urged to vote against payment scheme for workers with disabilities
Dan Harrison, Sydney Morning Herald

Disability groups are urging Labor and crossbench senators to vote against proposals that they say seek to extinguish the legal rights of 10,000 workers with intellectual disabilities.

The Senate is considering Abbott government proposals for a scheme to provide payments to workers whose wages were calculated using a tool that the Federal Court found discriminated against people with intellectual disability.


Why we need Disability Support Pension reform
Matthew Taylor, SBS

Welfare is never as good as having a job, and currently the Disability Support Pension does not do enough to ensure that people with disabilities who can work are encouraged to do so.


Those scary DSP numbers aren't so scary after all
Greg Jericho, The Drum

The DSP has been clearly targeted by the Government and its media supporters. There has been much made of the fact that now a "record 832,000 Australians receive the DSP". Such a figure sounds impressive, unless you pause to give it some context about how our population is also at "record levels". But context just gets in the way when you're trying to convince voters that people are out there living in the high hog on your taxpayer dollars, taking home up to $751 a fortnight ($19,544 a year).

A look at the number of DSP recipients as a percentage of the working age population shows that since 2002 there has been a slight increase - from just over 5 per cent to now just under 5.5 per cent.


Social services budget bills propose major changes to welfare
Luke Buckmaster, FlagPost

The 2014-15 federal budget included proposals for major changes in the social services portfolio, including payments to the unemployed, aged, people with disability and families with children. With most of these measures being introduced through two large and complex pieces of social services legislation, there is likely to be some confusion about the changes being made and which changes are being introduced where. This FlagPost provides a brief outline of what is in each of the social services bills.


Evidence on childcare twisted by special interests
Trisha Jha, Centre for Independent Studies

A smorgasbord of special interests has been lining up to participate in hearings hosted by the Productivity Commission, in the wake of its release of a draft report into Child Care and Early Learning.

Reports quote claims about how 'science' proves that quality care is vital to early childhood development, and that 'evidence' proves that any changes to minimum staff qualifications or staff-to-child ratios will put children 'at risk'.


US - Two-Generation Programs in the Twenty-First Century
P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, The Future of Children

Most of the authors in this issue of Future of Children focus on a single strategy for helping both adults and children that could become a component of two-generation programs. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, on the other hand, look at actual programs with an explicit two-generation focus that have been tried in the past or are currently under way.

These explicitly two-generation programs have sought to build human capital across generations by combining education or job training for adults with early childhood education for their children. Chase-Lansdale and Brooks-Gunn explain the theories behind these programs and review the evidence for their efficacy. A first wave of such programs in the 1980s and 1990s produced mostly disappointing results, but the evaluations they left behind pointed to promising new directions. More recently, a second wave of two-generation programs—the authors dub them "Two-Generation 2.0"—has sought to rectify the flaws of earlier efforts, largely by building strong connections between components for children and adults, by ensuring that children and adults receive services of equal duration and intensity, and by incorporating advances in both education and workforce development. These Two-Generation 2.0 programs are still in their infancy, and we have yet to see clear evidence that they can achieve their goals or be implemented cost-effectively at scale. Nonetheless, Chase-Lansdale and Brooks-Gunn write, the theoretical justification for these programs is strong, their early results are promising, and the time is ripe for innovation, experimentation, and further study.


Sorting child protection facts from fiction
Jeremy Sammut, Centre for Independent Studies

The South Australian government has kept to the standard 'crisis management' script in dealing with another horrific scandal in the state's child protection system by announcing a Royal Commission.

If the Royal Commission keeps to the script, it will follow the lead of the 2013 Carmody inquiry in Queensland by recommending greater 'investment' in family support services to prevent child abuse and neglect.


Crime and poverty
The Economist

"Poverty", wrote Aristotle, “is the parent of crime.” But was he right? Certainly, poverty and crime are associated. And the idea that a lack of income might drive someone to misdeeds sounds plausible. But research by Amir Sariaslan of the Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm, and his colleagues, just published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, casts doubt on the chain of causation—at least as far as violent crime and the misuse of drugs are concerned.

Using the rich troves of personal data which Scandinavian governments collect about their citizens, Mr Sariaslan and his team were able to study more than half a million children born in Sweden between 1989 and 1993. The records they consulted contained information about these people’s educational attainments, annual family incomes and criminal convictions. They also enabled the researchers to identify everybody’s siblings.

... What did surprise him was that when he looked at families which had started poor and got richer, the younger children—those born into relative affluence—were just as likely to misbehave when they were teenagers as their elder siblings had been. Family income was not, per se, the determining factor.


Should You Tell Your Boss about a Mental Illness?
Roni Jacobson, Scientific American

Dave, a 52-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a difficult childhood. In his job at a government agency, raised voices during meetings triggered thoughts of his abusive father, and his social anxiety occasionally prevented him from leaving his house in the morning. He felt uncomfortable hiding his condition, but he struggled to decide whether to tell his employer about it. “I didn't have a broken arm or anything that would be easy for them to understand,” he says. “I didn't know how they would react.”


US - What's The Future For Impact Investing?
Ben Schiller, Co.Exist

The idea of impact investing--a term originally coined by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2007--is to get at this untapped money. It’s a way of deploying capital both for profit and social purpose


UK - Can the Peterborough social impact bond be judged a success?
David Ainsworth, Civil Society

A couple of months ago I wrote a really very long assessment of the pros and cons of social impact bonds, and I wasn’t necessarily planning on writing another one. But given that we now have the results from the first tranche of prisoners from the pilot SIB, it seems sensible to look at whether it’s been a success.


Charity watchdog, with the axe hanging, reports good work
Jason Whittaker, The Mandarin

The Abbott government wants to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, the Labor-established watchdog for charitable organisations. But data released by the agency suggests its work is having an impact.

The ACNC says it has revoked the charity status of 246 charities it has not been able to locate, including religious organisations, preschool and parent clubs, trusts, foundations and health-related organisations. Labor says it proves the decision to cut the agency is folly.


Oh, what a lovely culture war! Team Abbott’s ideological battle
Dominic Kelly, The Conversation

Labor prime minister Paul Keating’s famous warning on the eve of his 1996 election defeat – “when the government changes, the country changes” – was only partly correct. Reforming governments have attempted to transform Australia’s political culture and have occasionally succeeded, but certain elements seem impossible to dislodge.

Perhaps the most enduring is Australia’s strong welfare state: unemployment benefits and other pensions, free and universal health care, free primary and secondary education, mild wealth redistribution via progressive taxation. The popularity of this suite of social democratic policies is reflected in that most Australian of maxims, the “fair go”.


US - How Do You Become Better Politically Educated?
Mark Binfield, Slate

Focus on policy, not personality. A lot of politics is a soap opera: who's popular, who's not, who's misbehaving, who's rising, who's falling. All of that drama matters, but only because of its eventual effects on what actions the government takes and what policies it enacts. For now, the soap opera is noise to you. (And a lot of it is noise, period.) Resist the urge to watch it, and don't let anyone convince you that you're uninformed when you don't. It doesn't matter who the players are until you understand the game.

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