Daily News - Tuesday 11 November 2014

Posted 11 November 2014 7:46am

Welfare reform a must says Kevin Andrews
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Social Services minister Kevin Andrews has vowed that welfare reform will be one “of the standout achievements of our government” as he stressed the need for radical changes in the welfare system.

In a CEDA speech delivered yesterday, Mr Andrews warned that if changes were not made, Australia will be offering an antiquated system at serious risk of being too cumbersome and unsustainable. For the first time he gave a specific commitment that the New Zealand model of spending upfront money on welfare recipients using actuarial modelling will be rolled out to “at risk” of long term welfare dependence.

... He said he fears if we do not gasp this opportunity in the next few years “we will fall behind comparative countries such as New Zealand and the United Kingdom”.


Victoria's unemployment rate on track to exceed Tasmania's
Peter Martin, The Age

Victoria's unemployment rate is on track to exceed Tasmania's, peaking at 7.3 per cent in 2016-17, a new analysis says. By then its government debt will be the highest of any Australian state.

The bleak prognosis is in the latest half-yearly set of forecasts produced by the Canberra consultancy Macroeconomics, made up of former Treasury and Finance Department officials.

At present Victoria's trend unemployment rate is 6.8 per cent, behind only Tasmania's at 7.2 per cent.


Youth face tougher life than parents
Colin Brinsden, AAP

The youth of today face a tougher future than their parents.

That's the bleak assessment of a new report that predicts people age under 24 face more expensive housing, fewer jobs and less help from the government.

According to the Foundation for Young Australians, the amount of government spending which directly benefits young people will drop from 46 per cent of total expenditure to 37 per cent by 2050.


The transition from school to work
The Foundation for Young Australians

Since 1986 the proportion of young people in full-time employment has decreased, with the largest decline since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Young people are less likely to be in full-time employment and are more to start full-time work at a later age.



Youth unemployment at its highest since 2001
Brendan O'Connor, media release

Youth unemployment has jumped to its highest level since 2001, with the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showing 14 per cent of 15-to-24 year olds are struggling to find work.

Shadow Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Brendan O’Connor said the alarming figures showed youth unemployment had jumped from 12.7 per cent to 14 per cent since Tony Abbott was elected Prime Minister.

“The scourge of youth unemployment is acting as a handbrake on the Australian economy and Mr Abbott has done nothing to fix it,” Mr O’Connor said.

“In the past month, youth unemployment rose from 13.5 per cent to 14 per cent, its highest since Mr Abbott was Employment Minister in the Howard Government.

“Instead of outlining a jobs plan to help young people find work, Mr Abbott’s only idea is to force job seekers to apply for 40 jobs every month or be cut off from income support.


Stop blaming poor parents for their children’s vocabulary
Paul Thomas, The Conversation

While the reading wars in education have raged for decades, most people agree that literacy is crucial for children and that the path to strong reading and writing skills begin in the home. But focusing on poor children’s parents may actually be the real problem when trying to increase their success in school.


Warren Mundine outlines 'most effective blueprint for educating Indigenous children'
Centre for Independent Studies

Remote Indigenous education can be turned around quickly, and without any extra funding, Chairman of the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council Warren Mundine said today in an adress at the Centre for Independent Studies.

Mr Mundine outlined "the most effective blueprint for educating Indigenous children in remote communities" and increasing their employability, in his address: Education, Culture and Family in Remote Indigenous Communities.

Key points of his reforms include: teachers in remote indigenous communities becoming part of their community, more senior teachers being sent to remote areas, secondary boarding schools servicing communities up to a three-hour drive away, partnerships with leading schools and universities in major cities.


Andrew Forrest the latest messiah who thinks he has answers for the bush
Alison Anderson, The Australian ($)

There are many aspects to the social crisis entrapping my people in the indigenous communities of remote Australia. Their education has been shamefully neglected, their little bush economies have been destroyed by welfare programs and outside administrators.

They have appalling health and mental wellbeing problems, they are cut off from the wider world, their traditions are not robust enough to withstand the pressures of modernity. In their despair and inaction they are prey to the temptations of drugs, gambling and alcohol. But perhaps the most baffling problem they face is the onrush of outsiders keen to help who think they have a magic bullet for our ailments, a one-stop answer to all the complex problems of the bush.



Father of suicide boy Peter Little sought help from child welfare
Paige Taylor, The Australian ($)

The father of Peter Little, the 11-year-old whose suicide has shocked Australia and focused attention on indigenous mental health, reached out to child-welfare authorities in the months before the tragedy.

Chris Little sought help this year from the Department for Child Protection’s parent-support program, a service for parents who want to improve their relationship with their child and address behavioural issues, including truancy.

West Australian Child Protection Minister Helen Morton said yesterday it was an understatement to say she was shocked to learn of Peter’s death on October 19, when he was found hanged in bush near his grandparents’ home in Geraldton, 425km north of Perth.


Arguing the intervention
Jon Altman, Journal of Indigenous Policy (pdf)

I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. On 21 June 2007 I was driving through Darwin just after midday when my mobile rang. It was an ABC reporter, ‘John Howard and Mal Brough have just announced a national emergency; the Commonwealth is going to take over Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory’. I pulled over and quizzed Annie Gaskin, she was able to play back for me some recorded material from a dramatic Canberra press conference and asked me to comment, which I did. The Howard Government’s action that day was a personal tipping point when I stopped suspending judgment, a decision I recognise now as deeply liberating.


Noel Pearson: I Have Another Dream. Thankfully, It's An Hour Short
Amy McQuire, New Matilda

And just as the government of the day is not God, Pearson is not the messiah for Aboriginal people, regardless of whether his disciples in white media write him as such. His word is not gospel.

Pearson has changed a great deal since the heady days of ‘reconciliation’, although it was around that time that he his thinking – and his public pronoucnements – began to change. He started to advance theories on the evils of passive welfare, the importance of personal responsibility, and the need to redirect government policy away from talk of self-determination and the importance of Aboriginal people controlling their own affairs.

That is, of course, now what Pearson is most famous for. Despite his “tough love” approach to welfare, showcased in his Cape York Welfare Reform trials, there is very little in the way of evidence that it’s changing social norms.


Health Minister Fiona Nash seeks evidence to tackle ice epidemic
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash has ordered federal-funded groups to send her evidence about the growth in methamphetamine use in regional and rural communities, with the Abbott government planning a response to the epidemic.

Senator Nash told The Australian she was working on a federal health plan to tackle the drug’s toxic grip, particularly in rural and regional Australia.

Indigenous leader Marcia Langton warned more than two weeks ago that the drug ice was becoming more widespread in Aboriginal communities. But Northern Territory MP Alison Anderson has accused her of trying to stir up “moral panic”. Today Ms Anderson writes in The Australian that remote communities “have problems enough with drugs” but not ice.


Rural Financial Counselling Service: review released
Barnaby Joyce, media release

Today Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, released the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) report on the Review of the Rural Financial Counselling Service.

“Importantly, the independent review strongly supports the continuation of the RFCS—as do I, and outlines a number of ideas aimed at improving this vital service so that it better meets the needs of those who rely on it,” Minister Joyce said.


Rural Financial Counselling Service review recommends funding cut
National Rural Advisory Council

Recommendation 33: Total RFCS program funding should be reduced by approximately 20 per cent to account for excess capacity in some service providers and efficiency gains associated with:

• delivery of services by single, state-wide providers
• more robust client eligibility criteria
• appropriate management to ensure clients achieve timely outcomes
• greater innovation in delivery platforms
• a renewed focus of short-term assistance on hardship
• restricted delivery of succession planning services
• a greater focus on accurately determining client eligibility
• possible long-term reduction in RFCS case management workloads.

Funding reduction should be implemented so that there is no significant, short-term impact on service delivery, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland where seasonal conditions currently present significant challenges.


Urgent effort needed to address seniors housing crisis
Anna Vidot, PM, ABC

Researchers in Western Australia say urgent reform is needed to make sure older people are secure in their accommodation.

A report has found many older people in private rentals in WA are afraid of being kicked out, or having their rent hiked, despite laws designed to stop that happening.

And researchers also found there were increasingly large numbers of seniors living in boarding houses, with little or no legal protection.


Homeless speak out at Senate inquiry

A group of homeless people from Perth's southern suburbs will give evidence at a Senate inquiry into housing affordability.

Spokesman Jonathan Shapiera, who has been living in a car with his son for the past 15 months, told the inquiry in a written submission that up to 50 vehicles housing homeless people parked between Rockingham and Kwinana beaches most nights.


500,000 Australians suffer OCD but few seek help
Rachel Browne, The Age

Australians who suffer from moderate obsessive compulsive disorder could be treated just as effectively by a virtual therapist as a face-to-face practitioner, according to research to be released by the Australian Psychological Society on Tuesday.

About 500,000 Australians suffer from the debilitating mental health disorder but only one-third receive treatment.


Australia’s community sector meets ahead of G20 to call for a national inclusive growth plan
ACOSS, media release

Australia's community sector will gather in Melbourne today to urge the Australian government to work together with civil society and business groups on a national inclusive growth plan as G20 world leaders prepare to meet in Brisbane this weekend.

"The Government appears to have developed a country growth plan for the G20 without engagement with those who will be most affected - the community," said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

"We are disturbed to find that this strategy includes measures such as cutting unemployment benefits to young people. We strongly reject any measures which increase hardship and inequality in the name of growth."


$51 billion black hole in Treasurer Joe Hockey's budget
Peter Martin, The Sydney Morning Herald

The Senate and the deteriorating iron ore price have knocked a $51 billion hole in Treasurer Joe Hockey's first budget, an independent analysis has found. It says part of the problem is that the budget is seen as "unfair".

... Although the budget contained many worthwhile measures, in practical terms it "produced confidence-sapping political deadlock," writes former Treasury economist Stephen Anthony, the chief forecaster at Macroeconomics.

"The real problem with the first Hockey Budget is that it is seen as unfair. It imposes too much of the adjustment burden on the disadvantaged rather than wealthy Australians who would benefit most from a resurgent economy driven by structural budget repairs."

Dr Anthony says Mr Hockey should focus on winning a few key battles such as reforming age pension indexation and tightening access to family benefits, abandoning low quality measures such as the 6-month qualifying period for unemployment benefits and the $7 dollar co-payment for visits to the doctor.


Wayne Goss remembered as courageous Queensland reformer
Stephanie Smail, PM, ABC

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Wayne Goss was a young man when he made political history in Queensland 25 years ago. The former Labor premier Anna Bligh paid tribute to his courage.

ANNA BLIGH: Wayne Goss won that election when he was 38 years old, and he won it on corrupt electoral boundaries. He had to overcome a gerrymander to find his way into government.

When he got there, he implemented all the recommendations of the Fitzgerald Inquiry and he made Queensland a much, much better place for it.


The Vatican's Francis Revolution gains pace
Paul Collins, Eureka Street

An important power shift has just occurred in Rome, and it has a genuine Australian connection.

The long-rumoured removal of US Cardinal Raymond Burke as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the top tribunal in the Vatican’s judicial system, and effectively the appeals court for all other tribunals in the church, occurred at midday on Saturday.

Burke has been made Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta. His replacement at the Signatura is Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States, effectively the Vatican’s foreign minister. Mamberti’s replacement is Liverpool-born Archbishop Paul Gallagher, currently papal nuncio to Australia.

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