Daily News - Monday 5 May 2014

Posted 5 May 2014 8:17am

Tony Abbott to phase in new dole regime
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian

The Abbott government will ­unveil a revamped work-for-the-dole scheme as the centrepiece of its tough new welfare regime in next week’s budget that ­targets under-30s, but applies to all recalcitrant unemployed.

The Australian can reveal that work-for-the-dole — an election promise — will be restored incrementally as a central part of the national Job Services Australia model, with savings found from red tape and duplication in the current system to partly fund the new program.

It will be also funded by other cuts from the Department of Social Services.

Work-for-the-dole would be “built up” because it was such an enormous effort, a senior source said.


Jobs needed for older workers, says age discrimination commissioner
Mark Colvin, PM, ABC

The Commission of Audit underlined the talk in Canberra of a higher pension age and the prospect that Australians will have to stay at work until they're 70.

But people in their 50s and 60s are already greeting that with some scepticism, because many of them have found there's no work for them to do.


Good Shepherd Microfinance's NILS scheme changes lives, CIS research reveals
Centre for Social Impact

The independent evaluation by the Centre for Social Impact found that the NILS program diverts clients away from predatory lenders such as fringe credit providers and goods rental services.


Universal access to early childhood education: a quick guide
Marilyn Harrington, Australian Parliamentary Library

The imperative to provide universal access to early childhood education (ECE) is supported by a significant body of research that demonstrates the benefits of ECE for later life outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged children.


There's no getting over it - one in six children suffer post-traumatic stress
John Elder, Sydney Morning Herald ($)

A new study, published last week by the British Journal of Psychiatry, found that one in six, or 16 per cent, of children develop PTSD after being exposed to a traumatic event. Dr Eva Alisic, from the Monash Injury Research Institute, established this figure after examining 72 peer-reviewed articles in which the experiences of 3,500 children aged between two and 18 years old had been documented and analysed.


New pathways to old selves
Melissa Marino, Monash Magazine

Linda* was living a model life. An executive overseeing 300 staff with a supportive family, the 46-year-old was flying high. Then one day everything changed. Seemingly out of the blue she could not focus, could not concentrate and before long could not even get out of bed.

She had no history of mental illness or depression, and clinicians struggled to find a treatment for Linda. For two years she endured psychotherapy, five different types of antidepressants, shock therapy and three periods of hospitalisation. Nothing worked.


Mentally ill people still face stigma
Cathy O'Leary, The West Australian (26 April)

Former WA premier Geoff Gallop says people with mental illness are still stigmatised as weak, pathetic and even dangerous.


Crisis shelters for women, children set to close amid upheaval in homelessness services
Nick Grimm, PM, ABC

Homelessness was another issue raised by the Commission of Audit, with a recommendation that the Commonwealth should effectively wash its hands of responsibility for the area.

... he commission recommended the Federal Government should instead redirect funding from existing agreements with the states and territories and limit its involvement to providing public housing tenants with rent assistance.

But in a state such as New South Wales, homelessness services are already in a state of upheaval.


Audit Commission proposals on mental health, homelessness “without context, understanding”
Marie McInerney, Crikey

The recommendations of the Federal Government’s National Commission of Audit on mental health are “without context or apparent understanding” and will only add to the inequity that people with a mental illness already experience, says Sebastian Rosenberg, Senior Lecturer at Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Research Institute. See his post below on the recommendations on mental health, disability support, employment support, the NDIS, and homelessness.


GP co-payments: a triple fail for the Commission of Audit
Stephen Duckett, The Conversation

If the Commission of Audit’s recommendations are adopted, universal access to bulk billing will be abolished, replaced by a government-mandated co-payment of A$5 for concession card holders (up to 15 visits, then A$2.50). For general patients, the minimum co-payment will be A$15, then A$7.50 after 15 visits.

The current average GP co-payment is A$28. If previously bulk-billing GPs have to introduce billing systems, why would they stop at the government-mandated minimum? The proposed A$5 co-payment may become, in reality, five times that.


Commission of Audit fails to consider costs and benefits
Cassie McGannon and John Daley, The Conversation

... abolishing Family Tax Benefit B – currently received by 60% of families – and tightening eligibility for Family Tax Benefit A would make women in middle-income families less likely to do paid work, because they would lose most of their wages in lost benefits. Previous Grattan Institute work shows that if one partner in a family works full time earning $70,000 a year, it makes no financial sense for the second income earner to work for more than three days a week.


‘Digital by default’ – efficient eGovernment or costly flop?
Rob Livingstone, The Conversation

There are very real risks that an unduly aggressive approach to the implementation of an comprehensive eGovernment platform is likely to guarantee a high probability of project failure – not to mention the increased cost to the taxpayers.


It's the debt, not the spending: why the budget is bleeding
Peter Martin, Sydney Morning Herald

“Australia has a serious spending problem.” Keep repeating it until you believe it. Joe Hockey has. The Treasurer was at it again on Friday in the third and final of his scene-setting speeches before the budget.

“The problem at the heart of Labor's legacy was excessive spending,” he told the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce .

It’s a good line, but it isn’t true.


Australia’s economy is healthy, so how can there be a budget crisis?
Phil Lewis, The Conversation

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has suggested that “You can’t fix the economy unless you fix the budget“.

If we are to believe the over-the-top Commission of Audit report it will take far more than this to bring the budget to surplus by 2023. But few seriously think many of the recommendations will be implemented.


What Pope Francis thinks about Abbott's Audit
Michael Mullins, Eureka Street

In its own way, the Australian Catholic bishops' Feast of St Joseph the Worker social inclusion pastoral letter is as remarkable as the report of the Federal Government's pre-Budget National Commission of Audit that was released on the same day.


Abbott and Hockey more Prince John than Robin Hood
David James, Eureka Street

In politics, one should never opt for a balanced and thoughtful description of the truth when wild exaggerations will do. Especially when you want to take from the poor and give to, if not exactly the rich, at least the investor class. Tax concessions to superannuants and those using negative gearing amount to more than the aged pension. Yet there is no mention of that; the silence is deafening.


Why tax only ones who pay?
Natasha Bita, The Australian ($)

Only a fraction of Australians pay more in taxes than they pocket in taxpayer benefits over a lifetime — yet Tony Abbott’s debt tax will punish these very people.

The median Australian household gains $114 a week more in government benefits than it pays in taxes.


The Commission of Audit wants to rip up Australia’s social contract
Veronica Sheen, The Conversation

The recommendations in the Commission of Audit’s report, which was released yesterday, would, if implemented, erode the fundamental building blocks of Australia’s social contract.

The social contract – the suite of policies, legislation, programs, health care and social services – has served to ensure that every Australian is able to have a basic but decent standard of living. It has been carefully crafted over the 20th century since Federation.


Paul Ramsay bequest is biggest charity
Lisa Allen and Rebecca Urban, The Australian ($)

The late multi-billionaire Paul Ramsay set up the largest charitable trust in the country’s history — involving the bulk of his $3.3 billion estate.

The board of Ramsay Health Care, the private hospital group founded by the tycoon, announced yesterday that the majority of his 36 per cent stake in the healthcare group, which operates 151 hospitals and day surgeries around the world, would be transferred to the Paul Ramsay Foundation.


Philanthropists must be realists with their money
John Daley, Grattan Institute (speech)

Philanthropy largely funded the Journey to Social Inclusion, the Sacred Heart Mission’s project with long-term homeless. The program investigated interventions that were truly new to the world in their design – and some were very effective. Too often, however, these pilots are never scaled up even when they are successful. Given its relative small size, philanthropy usually lacks the resources for full-scale implementation. Governments are reluctant to change, and often philanthropy under-estimates the resources needed to change government policy.

... Designing and running a successful pilot is the easy part. Getting government to change is difficult.

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