Daily News - Thursday 11 December 2014

Posted 11 December 2014 8:26am

ACOSS warning on cuts to welfare jobs, services
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Welfare groups have written to Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews warning of “a wave of major cuts in services and job ­losses” because the government has made major cuts to funding for crucial services and botched its service-procurement processes, giving many services less than three months more of funding.

The letter, signed by ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie and the heads of all eight state and territory Councils of Social Service, says: “We are extremely concerned that the short tendering timelines combined with the lack of consultation or advance collaboration and planning with our members have seriously undermined what could have been significant opportunities for service reform and improved outcomes for people in the community …


Mental health costs at impasse
Rick Morton, The Australian ($)

A four-way stand-off over who will fund mental health support when the national disability insurance scheme is introduced has emerged, with people already missing out on services to which they previously had access, signalling a “serious” problem for the country.

Mental health support is a last-minute addition to the NDIS after lobbying from the sector but the way in which jurisdictions have approached funding the 56,000 people in the highest needs category will leave others out in the cold.

Mental Health Australia chief executive Frank Quinlan told The Australian the situation was adding to the “toxic effect” of broader funding uncertainty in the sector, with more than half of organisations reporting a reduction in services to clients.


Volunteering? But what’s in it for me?
Bernard Salt, The Australian ($)

It’s almost as if the social contract between volunteer and the charitable organisation is being rewritten, or could be rewritten over the coming decade. A vast pool of baby-boomers on the verge of retirement is looking for a cause. But whereas the social contract in the past was about giving-without-expectation-of-reward-or-recognition, the new social contract may well be something like I’ll-give-you-my-labour-if-you-give-me-social-cachet.

I might be wrong but it seems to me that the generosity of spirit that marks everyday Australians is being subtly rewritten by a culture of expectation that something should be given in return. That something is not a wage but it might be kudos, recognition or meaning.


Lonely men lose friends when life gets busy: study
Miki Perkins, The Age

Millions of Australian men lose friends and become increasingly lonely after they turn 30 and work, family and other commitments eat up their time, new research shows.

The study, the first of its kind in Australia, found one in four – or 1.1 million men – have few or no social connections, and loneliness and isolation is common in men between 30 and 65 years of age.

The peak time for neglecting friendships was between the ages of 35 and 54, and researchers found men often lacked the skills and drive to remedy this. Instead they bore the misery of their situation with "stoic, masculine pride".


Grim Christmas: Charities report high demand for free meals from poor and homeless
Anne Barker, ABC

One of Sydney's biggest charities is reporting a 25 per cent jump in demand for free meals as the poor and needy struggle with a blowout in the cost of living.

The Exodus Foundation serves 1,200 meals a day to the poor and needy at its famous Loaves and Fishes restaurant at Ashfield in Sydney's west.


Asylum seeker families released into Adelaide community 'could end up homeless', advocates claim
Natalie Whiting, ABC

Asylum seeker families released into the Adelaide community could end up homeless, according to a group of people rallying for their support.

The ABC understands that people previously held in the Inverbrackie Immigration Detention Centre at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills are being released on bridging visas.


Detaining Aboriginal youth: child protection to prison
Marie Sansom, Government News

The majority of young Aboriginal people who end up in juvenile detention are also on child protection orders and come from unstable homes.

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) cites a Victorian study that found that 88 per cent of children sentenced to prison each had around 4.6 notifications to the Child Protection Agency and 86 per cent had been in out-of-home care. As shocking as that statistic is, it’s likely to be mirrored in other states.

“There is a strong correlation between juvenile participation in crime and rates of reported neglect or abuse, and, in particular, between juvenile involvement in criminal activity and neglectful parenting,” the ALRC said. It is a statistic that National Aboriginal Legal Service Chair Shane Duffy, who is based in Queensland, can relate to.


Gathering storm
Russell Marks, The Monthly

Broome’s Catholic bishop, Christopher Saunders, whose diocese covers over 100 of the Kimberley’s communities, works with many of the fringe dwellers in the townships. His warning – that closing the more remote communities will result in even greater pressures on the already-stretched services in the towns – is backed by research from Centacare.


Abbott should dump, not ‘refine’, his paid parental leave scheme
Veronica Sheen, The Conversation

Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed over the weekend that he will use the parliamentary summer break to review his paid parental leave (PPL) scheme, which has so far proven to be a large political liability.

However, Abbott shouldn’t waste his time and taxpayers' money on a review. His PPL idea doesn’t need reviewing. It needs scrapping.


Fact check: Has the Abbott Government 'dropped the ball' on unemployment?

The unemployment rate has risen under the Coalition, but it was also rising under Labor. The same can be said for the youth unemployment rate.

Experts say the labour market has been deteriorating since 2011.

Mr Shorten's figures check out, but saying Mr Abbott has "dropped the ball" on unemployment is not the full story.


Christmas joy lost amid gloom on jobs, housing and spending
Adam Creighton and Rachel Baxendale, The Australian ($)

Spooked by a shock slump in economic growth and a weaker dollar, Australians have become deeply pessimistic in the lead-up to Christmas at the same time as investors have taken an even greater share of the mortgage market from first-home buyers.


Tony Abbott's 'reset' can never work because he can't 'reset' himself
Jason Wilson, The Guardian

Despite Abbott’s well-known Catholicism, he shares the secular-Calvinist presuppositions that animate his party, and provide the core belief of the English-speaking right: namely, that just as the rich deserve their wealth, so do the poor deserve their fate.

Code-phrases like “personal responsibility” express the belief that those who have no job, cannot provide for their own healthcare expenses, or cannot fund their own retirement lack virtues that more successful people possess.


How the American myth of self-reliance is fueling income inequality
Lawrence Mitchell, The Washington Post

The working poor may look like the more advantaged – they have jobs, houses, cars, etc. But the truth is that they live on the margins of financial disaster. Because they look like the advantaged, the latter assume that the working poor are just like them in all relevant respects – except for hard work. Superficial similarity allows the rich and powerful to assume their success is simply a result of working harder because in their minds it’s clear that the poor could be just like them; they’re just lazier or failed to develop the same skills.


Inequality 'significantly' curbs economic growth - OECD

Income inequality has a "statistically significant impact" on economic growth, according to research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In the UK, rising inequality cost the economy almost nine percentage points of GDP growth between 1990 and 2010, the think tank said.

The US lost almost seven points.

The OECD also found that redistribution of wealth via taxes and benefits does not hamper economic growth.


Is inequality good or bad for growth?
Brian Keeley, OECD Insights

If you’ve been following the income inequality debate, you’ll know there’s been much discussion of the question in the headline above. Until just a few years ago, it’s probably fair to say that mainstream opinion leaned towards the “good for growth” side of the debate. Yes, inequality might leave a bad taste in the mouth, but it was worth it if it meant a strong economy.


Truth Justice Healing - Establishing an independent body to handle complaints
Francis Sullivan, Truth Justice Healing Council

The Truth Justice and Healing Council (TJHC), with the endorsement of the Church leadership, will begin consultation meetings in March next year to discuss the establishment of an independent accreditation and auditing body to protect children and vulnerable people.

Bishops and religious leaders from every state and territory will be asked to nominate representatives from a variety of backgrounds to be part of these important consultation meetings. An independent facilitator will co-ordinate up to 50 participants at each of the eight meetings.


10 ways Pope Francis earned our respect in 2014
Michael McGough, LA Times

In 2014, Pope Francis continued to exercise a fascination for members of his Catholic flock and for the rest of the world. There was no papal pronouncement in 2014 to match his electric answer last year to a question about gay priests: “Who am I to judge?” But the Jesuit pope from Argentina continued to press for a more transparent and engaged Catholicism.

But not all of what Francis said and did pleased the liberal Catholics who are his greatest champions. The pope, who is loath to judge gays, did not alter church teachings about homosexuality and the “complementarity” of men and women that is at the heart of Catholicism’s teaching that only heterosexual marriage is part of God’s plan. And at year’s end, he pleased church conservatives by installing a tradition-minded African cardinal as the head of the Vatican office responsible for worship.

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