Daily News - Thursday 20 November 2014

Posted 20 November 2014 7:55am

Mental health support extended
Colin Bettles, The Land

Despite intensifying public commentary about drought policy, the federal government has announced an extra $3.5 million to enable continued support for mental health services in drought-affected communities in NSW and Queensland.

In a joint statement to Fairfax Agricultural Media, Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce, Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, Human Services Minister Marise Payne and Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield said the government understood the hardship being faced hardworking Australian families.


Call for rural financial counselling to be locally run
Michael Condon, ABC

A former chair of an independent Rural Financial Counselling service in the Western NSW says the new system is too costly, inefficient and puts the lid on any criticism.

Ray Donald, the mayor of Bogan Shire, says the old independent boards run by volunteers had no problems pointing out the inadequacies of the drought assistance and problems farmers had in accessing funds.

He says the Exceptional Circumstances system also had some problems, but the new model is so bound up in red tape, assistance is very hard to access.


QLD - Drought bites hard on farming families
Tom Sollars, Warwick Daily News

Fears continue to grow that drought conditions may result in Warwick farmers being forced to default on loans, have vehicles and equipment repossessed or lose their properties altogether.

Donna Neale-Arnold of the Rural Financial Counselling Service said she currently had "hundreds" of clients, describing close to a dozen as now being in "desperate" circumstances.

So dire is the situation that food packages are being distributed, including those put together as part of a recent donation project by staff of the Southern Downs Regional Council.


Skin colour a bar to renting in Moree
Saffron Howden, The Canberra Times

Like many people she knows, Kelly Briggs asked a white friend to rent the house she lives in after six months of applying as an Aboriginal woman and getting nowhere.

"I'm too dark," she said of the failed attempts to rent a home in Moree, a town in north-western NSW, with her two teenage children.


Plenty of will with indigenous employment, but firms not cutting it
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Only two in five Australian companies have policies to attract and retain indigenous workers.

And a third of those with strategies in place are not aware of their success rate.

The white paper from one of Australia’s biggest recruitment agencies reveals a minority of ­organisations surveyed have processes in place where they consult indigenous Australian staff or ­experts on policies and proced­ures, and implement strategies to attract indigenous workers.


Calls to reduce growing indigenous jail rates
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Labor and the Greens are demanding that reducing indigenous incarceration rates becomes a clear goal, after a new report which reveals self-harm and incarc­eration rates for Aborigines are growing at an alarming rate.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said Australia was better at keeping Aboriginal children in jail than in school, and we needed immediate action before the country lost an entire generation of indigenous youth.


Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion rejects justice targets for indigenous people
Michael Gordon, The Canberra Times

The Abbott government has rejected calls to introduce 'close the gap' justice targets after a landmark report revealed a 57 per cent jump in imprisonment rates for indigenous Australians.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has also dismissed calls to restore funding levels, saying the message of the report was that "throwing money" at the problem of indigenous disadvantage did not work.

Senator Scullion said targets aimed at closing the gap on imprisonment levels would send "the wrong signal" that somehow indigenous offenders were different from others.


Finding a job is hard enough – for a refugee the challenge is multiplied
Brotherhood blog

For the vast majority of recent refugees, unemployment means low income, which in turn can exacerbate health issues and present a barrier to well-being in a range of other ways. The ability to secure decent housing, for example, is dependent on income and in turn, sustainable employment.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence's Given the Chance - workforce solutions that matter program not only assists refugees, asylum seekers and other marginalised jobseekers find work, it also supports employers to grow and diversify their workplaces.


Tip-off exposes Western Sydney family’s $2 million Disability Support Pension rort
Matthew Benns and Simon Benson, News.com.au

Thirty eight members of the same Western Sydney family fraudulently claimed more than $2 million in Disability Support Pension and other welfare payments.

One person claiming income support paid $300,000 off a mortgage in just over two years, while another claimed support despite earning an undeclared income from owning three properties. The web of family fraudsters was uncovered following a tip a dodgy Western Sydney businessman had failed to declare his income.


UK - Controversial benefit sanctions driving more young people to homelessness, charity warns
Chris Green, The Independent

An increasing number of young people are being made homeless after running into financial problems caused by the Government’s controversial welfare reforms, according to a report published today.

The survey of more than 200 homelessness charities and council agencies across England uncovered clear signs that the Coalition’s tougher regime of benefit sanctions is driving young people out of their homes.


US - We know how to end poverty. So why don't we?
Dylan Matthews, Vox

In theory, ending poverty is simple: the government could just give everyone enough money such that no one's poor anymore. That may sound too clever by half, but the idea — known as a "basic income" — has a long intellectual pedigree, and the case for it is better than you might expect.


Stronger families can deliver economic and social benefits, says Kevin Andrews
Kevin Andrews, address to TasCOSS

... we know that, not only does positive family functioning deliver important social benefits to our country; nurturing healthy families also make a huge difference in lifting our economic productivity.

My Department’s research shows that better family functioning can deliver the economy up to $5.4 billion per annum in increased productivity.

And this boost is not just economic – it reflects a stronger and healthier society, less burdened by crime, unemployment, addiction and broken relationships.

Conversely, when families and communities struggle, government faces a substantial financial burden, as well as an ongoing social burden.


UK - Free relationship counselling for parents to rescue marriages
Peter Dominiczak, The Telegraph

New parents will be given relationship counselling by health visitors under government plans to instil “basic concepts such as love, compassion and trust” and prevent marriage breakdown, Iain Duncan Smith has said.

The Work and Pensions Secretary said ministers would next year announce guidance for all health visitors on how to “recognise and respond to the signs of relationship difficulties”.

It is part of a drive by Mr Duncan Smith to prevent marriage breakdown and divorce, and give children “the best start in life” by ensuring they are in a “stable family”.


How to nip antisocial personality disorder in the bud
Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman, The Guardian

Malcolm Gladwell calls it the “law of the few”: a small number of people can make a huge impact on the world. The law of the few certainly springs to mind when we look at the effect on society of those individuals who meet the criteria for antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). They number about 1% of men and 0.2% of women, but between them they’re thought to be responsible for up to a quarter of violent incidents causing injury to others.

The hallmark of ASPD, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), is “a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others”. And because it can be so damaging – both for the individual and the people around them – the case for combatting ASPD seems a no-brainer.


Violence against women: prevalent, serious and preventable
Kate Hauser, VCOSS

Kate Hauser from Women’s Health West, the women’s health service for the western metropolitan region of Melbourne, explores the implications of VicHealth’s recently released National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey.


Ratio of Workers to Retirees Will Plummet Worldwide
Mark Fischetti, Scientific American

As a nation’s population ages, more and more older people may draw from support systems such as Social Security, yet fewer workers may be around to pay into those systems. The problem is more dire than we think. The ratio of workers to retirees will drop precipitously in numerous countries worldwide this century, potentially sending nations into a financial tailspin.


Pope Francis celebrates a homeless man's 50th
Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street

Last week Bishop Konrad Krajewski, the Papal almoner, installed showers for people who are homeless, in St Peter’s Square. The move followed his meeting a homeless man, discovering it was his fiftieth birthday and inviting him to dinner in a local restaurant, only for the man to decline on the grounds he smelled.

The gesture was seen to have Pope Francis’ finger prints all over it. It also illuminates the differences of perspective many have noted between the Pope and other church leaders, such as Cardinals Pell and Burke and Archbishop Chaput.

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