Daily News - Thursday 22 August 2013

Posted 22 August 2013 8:05am

St Vincent de Paul Society demands an anti-poverty strategy
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian

One of the nation's leading welfare groups, the St Vincent de Paul Society, will today demand an anti-poverty strategy for Australia and attack both sides of politics for failing to announce an agenda for those who ``live in a state of permanent recession''.

NSW - 'Truancy before abuse' order to staff
Anna Patty, Sydney Morning Herald

Caseworkers dealing with vulnerable children say they have been asked to prioritise truancy over more serious cases of abuse.

A directive from the Department of Families and Community Services this year asked staff to allocate complaints involving ''educational neglect'' made to its child protection helpline within 24 hours.

Goward under pressure as staff walk out
Anna Patty, Sydney Morning Herald

Community Services Minister Pru Goward faces calls to resign after she denied knowing of a critical report into a shortage of caseworkers for at-risk children, despite being at a meeting where the document had been tabled.

Melbourne ghettos: transport backlog sparks warning
Adam Carey, The Age

An $18 billion backlog in road and rail projects needed to service Melbourne's housing boom could turn the outer suburbs into isolated ghettos unless a better way is found to turn long-term plans into reality, the state's Auditor-General warns.

The role of public transport access in disadvantage
Victorian Auditor-General

Inadequate access to public transport in growth areas is a key barrier to economic and social inclusion and has led to comparatively higher rates of car ownership and dependency. Approximately 85 to 89 per cent of growth area residents used their own cars to travel to work in 2011 compared to Melbourne’s metropolitan average of 65 per cent (pdf).

Accommodation crisis for former prisoners
Anna Patty, Sydney Morning Herald

People are sleeping on the street after leaving prison because of a lack of housing and other support services, putting them at higher risk of re-offending, a report has found.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre will on Thursday release a report Beyond Prison Gates which shows more than a third of former prisoners become homeless after their release.

UK - Why employers shouldn't discriminate against ex-offenders
Jocelyn Hillman, The Guardian

Instead of hiding behind prejudice and discrimination, which are so contrary to the ethos of many otherwise excellent voluntary sector employers, let us confront the facts. Ex-offenders, women in particular, know full well that the odds are stacked against them when finding a job. If they get one they want to keep it – and their children – so we find that they are extraordinarily motivated and work hard.

Reform employment services, says ACCI
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The current transactional contracts between the government and job services providers strongly incentivises services to those unemployed people who are most disadvantaged, but offers little incentive for providers to assist those who have not been unemployed for long, or who are not among the most disadvantaged. This sounds reasonable, but ignores the reality that the task of finding jobs for those most disadvantaged would be easier if the provider had more jobs available and offered a broader service. Service providers need to work in partnership with industry organisations to improve the profile and scope of the service to employers.

Extravagant Abbott woos women with Whitlam
Paul Kelly, The Australian

The sheer extent of Abbott's commitment to female-friendly policy is extraordinary. Rarely in history has a leader proceeded with such methodical determination to resolve a weakness in his voting profile.

This reveals the remarkable nature of Abbott as a big-spending non-means testing social justice reformer. It is Whitlamism pure and simple.

Parent-leave piggy bank can fly
Henry Ergas, The Australian

To assess the Opposition Leader's scheme, one needs to understand the problem it seeks to address and the way our system of public transfers helps individuals deal with problems of that kind.

While part of the system seeks to reduce hardship, much of it helps us deal with the predictable, but costly, events in life such as getting an education, raising a family and, eventually, retiring from the workforce.

This mainly involves helping people to plan for and transfer income between different stages of their life: for instance, saving when working to fund retirement. In carrying out those transfers, the government acts not as a redistributive Robin Hood but as a piggy bank, taking from us at one stage to give back to us at another. The rationale for a government piggy bank is twofold: the community benefits from those transfers being made; and the government can make them more efficiently than we could on our own.

Seminar - Spatial Complexities: Disability, Poverty and Social Security Regimes
Karen Soldatic (via APO)

Thursday 3 October 2013 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, Melbourne, Brotherhood of St Laurence

The OECD recently stated that ‘disability policy has become a key economic policy area in most OECD countries’. Disability has become central to economic policy debates in Australia, Britain, Canada and the USA. This international and national shift is occurring simultaneously with the dawn of the global recognition of disability rights and the international ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the first international convention of the 21st century.

The art of being different: combating stereotypes of disability
Frances Ryan, The Guardian

Chris Wright, now 32, has had depression and social anxiety since he was five and by the time he was 11, had attempted suicide three times. "I wouldn't wish a mental health disorder on anyone but I wouldn't change it… It's who I am," he says. "[But] I can count on one hand the people who will to talk to me about my problems."

It was this sense of stigma around mental health, particularly suicide, that inspired him to make a private snapshot of his life public and turn his childhood medical records into art.

Nothing about us without us
Katharine Annear, Ramp Up

Last week there was news of some research that could lead to the early detection of autism through gene mapping. The announcement took place at a large conference on autism in Adelaide. The conference was designed to bring together the autism community including those on the autism spectrum. I think announcing this breakthrough at an autism conference, in the presence of Autistics, was a controversial choice and brings up a whole range of ethical questions for the wider community.

Compulsory grog rehab patients will go to jail

The Northern Territory Government will use the low-security wing of Darwin's Berrimah prison to house people undergoing mandatory alcohol rehabilitation.

Hospital figures for self-harm rising but experts fear problem is bigger
Amy Corderoy, The Age

More young women are being admitted to hospital for self-harm than ever before, shocking statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show.

The number of women aged between 15 and 24 who have injured themselves so badly they need hospital treatment has increased by more than 50 per cent since 2000.

We need to protect new mothers from trauma and suicide
Hannah Dahle and Charlene Thornton

Research we have just published shows the deaths of 48 of the 129 women in New South Wales who died during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth were due to suicide and trauma. It suggests mothers may need support from integrated health and community services for the first year of their child’s life.

A more sustainable Australia: closing gaps in childhood inequity
Squirrel Main, The Conversation

Looking after children during their early childhood yields a huge return on investment. It’s not just good for the economy, but for the health and well-being of our children too. The cliche is worth repeating: our children are our future.

But that future is suffering from poor policy. Australia’s system of early childhood education and care has been rated as inequitable, unsustainable and one of the worst in the world.

Net wealth falls as gap between rich, poor grows
Matt Wade, The Age

The wealth of a typical Australian household fell by more than $30,000 in the two years following the global financial crisis, official figures show.

Wealth estimates by the Bureau of Statistics revealed the average net worth of households fell from $759,000 in 2009-10 to $728,000 in 2011-12. This reversed strong gains in household wealth from 2003.

Household wealth: we're going backwards
Adam Creighton, The Australian

Poorer households bore the relative brunt of the fall; the average net wealth of households in the bottom fifth of Australia's wealth distribution slumping 7 per cent over the period to $31,200 while those in the top fifth fell 6 per cent to $2.22 million.

Ben Phillips, a senior research at the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, said falling house prices were partly to blame. Despite recent signs of price rises, house prices had been flat or falling since late 2009.

Wealthy Selfies: How Being Rich Increases Narcissism
Maia Szalavitz, Time

The rich really are different — and, apparently more self-absorbed, according to the latest research.

Money Makes ALL the Difference
Jackson Allison, Big Think

University of California’s Paul Piff led a series of experiments that delved into the behavior associated with the rising income inequality in the United States. What he found was incredibly surprising.

Good Deeds Gone Bad
Matthew Hutson, New York Times

On your way to work today you may have paused to let another car merge into your lane. Or you stopped to give a dollar to a subway artist. A minute later, another chance to do the same may have appeared. Did your first act make the second more tempting? Or did you decide you had done your good deed for the day?

Strangely, researchers have demonstrated both reactions — moral consistency and moral compensation — repeatedly in laboratories, leading them to ask why virtue sometimes begets more virtue and sometimes allows for vice. In doing so, they have shed an interesting light on how the conscience works.

People sent offshore will include children
Michael Gordon, The Sydney Morning Herald

The first group of unaccompanied minors will be sent to processing camps on Manus Island or Nauru ''before long'', a defiant Tony Burke declared on Wednesday after seven asylum-seeker families were sent to Nauru from Christmas Island.

Australia gets pledges from boat people homelands
Bagus Saragih and Yohanna Ririhena, The Jakarta Post

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd sent a strong team to Jakarta on Tuesday where it received strong commitments from other countries at an international conference on refugees and boat people — a politically sensitive issue in Australia before the Sept. 7 election.

UNHCR welcomes Jakarta Declaration to address irregular movements in Asia-Pacific

The UN refugee agency has hailed a pledge by 13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region to address the growing challenge of irregular movements that are costing hundreds of lives at sea every year.

NZ - The contract state and constrained democracy: the community and voluntary sector under threat
Sandra Grey, Charles Sedgwick, Policy Quarterly (via APO)

The article explores the vital contribution of the community and voluntary sector as a voice for the voiceless and as a conduit of information about society’s unmet needs. The challenge, however, is that these roles are being severely constrained by the heavy dependence of the voluntary sector on government funding, as well as the particular type of contracting that has become the norm. Supposedly there is an equal contractual relationship between the state and the voluntary sector, but the reality is very different: the relationship is asymmetrical, with the state holding most of the cards. Accordingly, Grey and Sedgwick recommend a complete rethinking of the current contracting model. Without this, the role of the community and voluntary sector in democratic debate will be undermined and its capacity to develop new and innovative responses to changing social needs will be hindered.

Mythbusting Not for Profit Partnerships
Kelly Mancey and Matthew Henry, Pro Bono News

Corporate partnerships with Not for Profits are becoming a key way for business to engage with the community sector, stakeholders and consumers. Whether integrated as part of a broader CSR strategy,used as a tool to boost staff engagement and workplace culture or add bottom line value, partnerships are proving to be a mutually beneficial and engaging undertaking for corporates involved.

Pope Francis: neither a liberal nor a conservative, but a radical Christian with a heroic gospel
Tim Stanley, The Telegraph (uk)

Pope Francis is a beguiling, confusing pontif. Some in the media imagine him to be Fr Liberal, parachuting into the slums to feed the hungry and chastise the rich. Others regard him as positively medieval – all that crazy talk about demons and exorcisms ("The power of Christ compels you!"). He's a New World man doing the oldest job in the Old World; an Argentine with Italian blood who doesn't like Latin. He writes very little yet talks incessantly. He is, one Left-wing journalist reassures the obsessive critics of the Church, still a Catholic. That's a relief, because traditionalists tell me that we've elected a Buddhist.

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