Daily News - Tuesday 14 October 2014

Posted 14 October 2014 7:49am

Tasmania's poor need skills to survive poverty trauma as jobs dry up, a former children's commissioner says

A leading educator and former state child protector wants those in poverty to be better trained to endure and survive the trauma while they try to break out of the cycle.

Elizabeth Daly, who was Tasmania's interim commissioner for children, told 936 ABC Hobart poverty was a traumatic experience for all, especially children, and it was a reality that required better coping skills because there were not enough jobs.


Whichever way you cut it, the federal budget hurts the poorest hardest
Greg Jericho, The Guardian

A study released last week confirms that the May budget will hit the poorest households hardest and is particularly harsh towards families. Even with the benefit of a removed carbon price, by 2017-18 the people worst affected by the government’s policies will be the poorest.

The study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (Natsem) provides a dollar impact of the budget on different households. In the past, a version of this information was provided in the budget papers, however this year such a table was left out.


Secure jobs needed to help tackle poverty: Australian Unions
ACTU, media release

Australia needs to get serious about tackling insecure work if we are to address rising poverty and inequality, Australian Unions said today.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said that 40% of the Australian workforce is employed in insecure work and 25% of all employees have pay that varies from one pay period to the next.

"More and more workers in Australia have jobs that have irregular and unpredictable working hours and pay, inferior rights and entitlements including limited or no access to paid leave, and no job security,” Ms Kearney said.

“Insecure work causes financial hardship and these workers find it difficult to get loans, rent a house and get access to training and promotion opportunities.


Rich versus poor is the wrong debate
Amanda Vanstone, Sydney Morning Herald

I wish I received a parcel of shares in The Big Australian every time I saw or heard a story about the rich/poor divide in Australia. All this stupid rich-versus-poor debate does is stir up the politics of envy.


Australia needs to be fairer if it wants to be richer
Richard Denniss, The Sydney Morning Herald

Australia's richest seven people have more wealth than the bottom 1.73 million households combined. Most people think that's a problem. Amanda Vanstone, on the other hand, seems to think the bottom 1.73 million should be thankful.

"The politics of envy". This is Amanda Vanstone's condescending dismissal of concerns over Australia's rapidly growing gap between its richest and poorest citizens.


PM must seize moral high ground
Nick Cater, The Australian

Let’s get real for a moment. Does anyone seriously think that if we doubled welfare expenditure from $144 billion a year to $288bn it would offer the slightest relief to those who are ground down by the friction of everyday life? It would, in all likelihood, make a bad situation worse, for that is the paradoxical effect of welfare. It is the great benevolence dilemma: how does one help the downtrodden without sapping their resolve?

The ACOSS poverty report feeds the common misconception that welfare is simply the relief of financial hardship. Yet the most important gift we can give those who struggle to rise above their own misfortune is not cash but ­resilience.


What Tony Abbott talks about when he talks about ‘welfare’
Gabrielle Meagher and David P. Wilkins, Australian Review of Public Affairs

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s talk on social policy topics has included such easy-to-recall phrases such as ‘lifters, not leaners’, ‘workers, not shirkers’, and ‘earning or learning’. These phrases are not just slogans; like all politicians’ public talk, they express a take on the world. Such phrases have a commonsense appeal—it is hard to be for leaners or shirkers, or against lifters or workers. But what looks like a commonsense description is actually an exercise of power, through which Mr Abbott naturalises a politicised and partial account of social policy problems and their solutions.


Smith Family mentors give leg-up to those needing a hand
Gina Rushton, The Australian ($)

Sang Bui recently graduated with a degree in solar engineering — a feat the son of a Vietnamese refugee said would not have been possible without mentor and friend Gavin Street.

Mr Street, a solar engineer, had volunteered for the Smith Family’s tertiary mentoring program, which links disadvantaged students with experts in the student’s chosen field of study.

“I could see right away he was interested,’’ Mr Street said. “It was really nice to meet someone who was enthusiastic about the same industry that I was.”


Women spend longer than men living on the streets
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Women spend longer sleeping rough or in crisis accommodation when they are homeless than men, a groundbreaking study has revealed.

The study, by Melbourne University’s Melbourne Institute, found the length of time people spent homeless depended in part on their personal circumstances, with older people, women and those who had lower levels of education staying homeless for “increased durations”.

“Women are more likely than men to leave homelessness when broadly defined by acquiring homes of their own, however, they also appear to remain in crisis ­accommodation or on the streets longer than do men,” it concludes.


Journeys Home: A longitudinal study of factors affecting housing stability
Department of Social Services

Journeys Home, funded by the Australian Government, is the first large-scale longitudinal study of homelessness and housing insecurity in Australia. The study consists of six waves, each six months apart, from September 2011 to the first half of 2014. It aims to improve the understanding of, and policy response to, the diverse social, economic and personal factors related to homelessness and the risk of becoming homeless.


Dire lack of carers
Ruth Caskey, The Land

A lack of foster carers is the latest shortage affecting the State’s Family and Community Services (FACS) department, despite the responsibility shifting to non-government organisations and agencies.

The NSW government has made a commitment to fill child caseworker vacancies following statewide protests by social workers in August, and now the main problem is the number of foster carers for at-risk children.


Sydney mum named NSW Carer of the Year
Frances Mao, AAP

She doesn't do it for the accolades but NSW Carer of the Year Anne Funke certainly deserves them.

The Sydney mother of two picked up the award as part of National Carers Week.

Ms Funke is a full-time carer for her 18-year-old son Mitchell who has Angelman syndrome, a rare neuro-genetic disorder which leaves sufferers severely intellectually disabled, and holds down several other community positions.


Depression and social isolation affecting arthritis patients
Bill Birtles, PM, ABC

New research on arthritis is highlighting the depression that many sufferers face as a result of the disease.

The debilitating condition affects around three million Australians, and that's set to rise as the population ages.

Everyone knows arthritis is physically painful, sometimes cripplingly so, but experts say it's patients' mental health that also needs to be looked at.


Here’s the good news about the ageing population
Adele Horin

Here’s a radical thought: what if Australia’s ageing population was a boon not a burden? What if greying baby boomers spelt opportunity not crisis? The media, politicians, and Treasury have depicted the ageing population as a demographic time bomb. Too many old people and a shrinking workforce will be the country’s ruination. As the politically powerful and needy old squeeze the young dry, the result will be endless government deficits, higher taxes and lower productivity. It’s enough to make retiring baby boomers feel guilty for hoping to reach 80.


Beyond deterrence: reframing the asylum seeker debate
Anne McNevin, Peter Mares, Damir Mitric, Klaus Neumann and Savitri Taylor

Current policies to prevent and deter asylum seekers from reaching Australia by boat are justified by the assertion that these policies save lives. Yet forced and irregular migration is a global phenomenon, so tighter controls along some borders tend to increase the level of migration along other routes and across other frontiers. The humanitarian success claimed for Operation Sovereign Borders is therefore misleading: instead of trying to reach Australia by boat, those facing unacceptable risks of serious harm in their home countries will resort to alternative, no less dangerous routes to other countries that seem able and willing to offer them protection. If all borders are closed to them, they will continue to suffer the harm from which they would flee if they could.


Politics as usual? Ailing parties fail to get to grips with social media
Ariadne Vromen, The Conversation

After his speech about party renewal last week, I went to Labor Senator John Faulkner’s Facebook page. It has about 2700 likes. The page features links to speeches and pictures of events that Faulkner has been to, including meeting US President Barack Obama and a charity event for Alzheimer’s. But in reality it’s being used as just another medium to “broadcast” political messages and statements.

There is no evidence that John Faulkner himself uses the page - it says it’s managed by his office. There is no interaction at all with the people who have taken time to comment on the page. This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the way social media works.


Church must show more compassion, respect for same-sex couples, Vatican document says
Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post

A top Vatican panel assisting Pope Francis went further than the Church has gone before in affirming non-traditional relationships, saying Monday that the Church must “turn respectfully” to couples such as those who live together unmarried or are of the same-gender and “appreciate the positive values” those unions may have.

The comments blew away some longtime Vatican experts because they put the Catholic Church – the world’s largest – squarely in the middle of the mainstream public discussion about sexuality and marriage, rather than in one corner focused mostly on unchanging doctrine. What changes to doctrine or practice might follow from the suggestions, if any, weren’t at all clear.


Synod14 - Eleventh General Assembly: "Relatio post disceptationem" of the General Rapporteur, Card. Péter Erdő
The Vatican

Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?


A conundrum for Pope Francis
Paul Collins, Eureka Street

It was unusually hot in Rome for the first week of the Synod on the Family. But that didn’t dampen the excitement surrounding Pope Francis of the unusually large crowds for October in the Piazza of St Peter’s. He has really struck a chord with people and, significantly, with the secular media.

But that enthusiasm is certainly not reflected in a sizeable minority of the hierarchy attending the synod. As a result some seasoned Roman observers are pessimistic that anything at all significant will happen. They note that those who oppose any change in issues like communion for divorced remarried Catholics, or the contraception ruling, let alone the recognition of gay unions, are out in force making their views known.

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