Daily News - Tuesday 2 December 2014

Posted 2 December 2014 7:39am

Kevin Andrews challenged on facts behind social security ‘blowout’
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Disability Support Pension numbers have grown only 1 per cent in the year since the Abbott government said welfare was unsustainable, ­according to a key welfare advocacy group.

At the start of this year, Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews warned that the social security system was “unsustainable”, meaning there would need to be cuts.

“The two big areas are Newstart and the DSP in terms of ensuring viability and sustainability of welfare in the future,” Mr Andrews said.

But analysis by the National Welfare Rights Network reveals that social security for working-age people has not “blown out”.


Uncertainty over rural financial counselling service for Northern Territory primary producers
Matt Brann, ABC

The future of the rural financial counselling service in the Northern Territory, which offers free advice and counselling to farmers, is unclear.

Since March 2013, a rural financial counsellor has been visiting the NT roughly every two months to offer support to primary producers.

The trial period for this service will end on December 31 and what happens next is not known.


There's Still Work To Be Done In Child Protection
Karen Healy, New Matilda

The job of case workers in the child protection system is one of the toughest in the public service.

This week the NSW auditor general found that after five years of effort, Family and Community Services (FACS) has not been able to close the 10 per cent gap between the number of caseworkers they have the money to employ, and the actual numbers employed (although the June 14 quarter does show a slight improvement).

This is despite FACS doing many things right, including increasing pay and committing to the support of front line workers, and an overall increase in the number of case workers, according to Family and Community Services Gabrielle Upton.


True story: What it’s really like to work in child protection
Alex Carlton, Herald Sun

When neglected or abused children hit the headlines, it’s child protection workers who are first in the firing line. We want answers, we scream for blood and blame.

Today, the NSW Department of Corrective Services reported that reports of children at serious risk of harm have risen by 20 percent. Yet caseworker numbers have remained static. Every day these heroic men and women visit Australia’s most traumatised children and do their best to make their lives safer, with minimal funds, time and resources. Children the rest of the country have forgotten. It doesn’t always work. Yet they head out the next day and the next day, facing frustrations, horrors and the occasional triumph that most of us can only imagine.

This incredibly brave and extraordinary caseworker lives and breathes her work every day.


Abandoned babies highlight the need for good foster carers
Andrew McCallum, Canberra Time

It is more than a week since a newborn baby was found abandoned at the bottom of a stormwater drain in Sydney. In the wake of this heartbreaking event, the Fostering NSW inquiry phone line has been running hot. People are calling, desperate to help this child in need by offering a safe and loving home.


Young Australians concerned their dreams are out of reach
Mission Australia, media release

Young Australians are struggling to cope with stress as they strive to achieve their goals in life, with many concerned their dreams for the future may be out of reach – according to the country’s biggest annual poll of young people, the national Mission Australia
Youth Survey.

The 2014 Youth Survey reveals a disturbing gap between what young people aspire to and what they actually believe they can achieve.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages more likely to have a disability
Australian Bureau of Statistics, media release

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages are more likely to be living with a disability than non-Indigenous people, according to a report released today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

"There are over 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with disability," said Michelle Ducat from the ABS, "and we found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely to have a profound or severe disability than non-Indigenous people."


Indigenous still waiting for disability service
Rick Morton, The Australian ($)

Most indigenous people who have received a funding package under the national disability insurance scheme trial in the Northern Territory are still waiting for services almost six months after their plans were approved.

The NDIS agency’s engagement in the region is so poor that the Northern Land Council, which straddles part of the trial, didn’t know the disability scheme had begun.

The rollout of the $28 billion scheme risks “making all the same mistakes” that have locked indigenous Australians out of the health and social support systems, according to a former NDIS planner and national operations manager of the First Peoples Disability Network, Andrew Fernando.


Marcia Langton lashes out at future fund silence
Andrew Burrell, The Australian ($)

Indigenous academic ­Marcia Langton says the Abbott government is failing Aboriginal people by refusing to endorse a new tax-exempt future fund under which native title payments could be spent on business and economic development in impoverished communities.

Professor Langton said the plan, which was backed by the mining industry and involved a radical shake-up of the way ­billions were spent, had been ­ignored over the past five years by successive governments.

... The proposed fund — to be called the Indigenous Community Development Corporation — would make it easier for groups to accumulate funds that could be spent on business projects and to create jobs. It would be able to ­distribute funds on a tax-free basis. Native title payments are now treated as charitable trusts and therefore can accumulate tax-free for only a decade before 80 per cent must be distributed. Indigenous leaders and mining companies believe this means the money is spent quickly by communities to avoid the tax burden.


Fred Chaney, retiring Reconciliation Australia head, hopes future Indigenous policies will not threaten 'world's oldest living cultures'
Nick Grimm, ABC

As Reconciliation Australia's Fred Chaney steps down from the organisation he helped create 15 years ago, he reaches into the past to find the word that captures the challenge still ahead for the cause he has long championed.

"We don't use the word any more," 73-year-old Mr Chaney told The World Today.

"But I think that the implication of a lot our [government] policy ... does have a decidedly assimilationist tinge.


Keep complaining! It's good for you!
Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian

Drawing on the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, Alessandri pushes back against the assumption that complaining is only worthwhile if it gets concrete results; there’s no point in it, the received wisdom goes, if what you’re bemoaning is beyond your control. In New York, she’s irritated by “overcrowding, potholes, high prices, train delays, cyclists, bees” (bees?). She can’t do anything to change them. So why bother complaining?

Well, first of all, because it’s cathartic. But more importantly, moaning brings people together ...


10 of The Most Counter-intuitive Psychology Findings Ever Published
Christian Jarrett, BPS Research Digest

One of the most annoying things you can say to a psychologist is: "Isn't it all just common sense?". No it's not, as the list below demonstrates. But anyway, such a criticism of the field misses the point. Many findings in psychology can seem obvious after the fact, but we can't know in advance which aspects of folk wisdom will stand up to scientific scrutiny.


UK - Give and Take: How conservatives think about welfare
Ryan Shorthouse and David Kirkby, Bright Blue

... The fourth conservative principle we explore is that relying upon benefits gives rise to a psychology and culture of dependency. Claimants are seen as suffering from individual shortcomings – attitudes and entrenched behaviours – which set them apart from nonclaimants. In our polling, we found that 65% of Conservative voters see being “dependent on the system” as a typical characteristic of benefit claimants, compared to 36% of Labour voters. Thirty nine percent of Conservative voters judged that welfare cuts have been good for claimants compared to 12% of Labour voters.


Former Treasury official: Budget deficit to blow out by $35 billion
Gareth Hutchens, The Age

The Abbott government's plan to bring the budget back to surplus has been dealt its third significant blow in recent weeks, with new analysis indicating the deficit will blow out by $35 billion over the next four years.

A rapid decline in company and income taxes has put the budget in a worse position than the Abbott government believed it would be at its first budget in May, the analysis from Deloitte Access Economics shows.


Senator Bob Day’s Budget prescriptions
Australian Convervative

Family First strongly believes in federalism and, as such, in having a Commonwealth government that sticks to its own constitutional responsibilities and leaves the rest to the states and territories. If it is not about trade, tax, troops or the family then do not ask us to raise taxes for it and do not ask us to spend on it. Health and education are state responsibilities, so the states should fund them. Those who spend the money should raise the money. At present, the Commonwealth raises the money and the states spend it, and we all know what happens when people spend money raised by someone else.


Activists should pay taxes
Gary Johns, The Australian ($)

Australian governments subsidise “charities” that want to stop development. Stopping development is against the public interest. So why is the government spending the public’s money against the public interest?

... The Abbott government promised to abolish the Charities Act 2013, which includes advocacy as a charitable purpose. It must make good that promise in a way that makes it clear to the High Court that advocacy is not a charitable purpose. It should deny charity status to the enemies of progress, lest the world leave Australia behind, all the poorer, stranded in a dry canal.


Why Your Brain Wants To Help One Child In Need — But Not Millions
Shankar Vedantam, NPR

Why do people sometimes give generously to a cause — and other times give nothing at all?

That's a timely question, because humanitarian groups fighting the Ebola outbreak need donations from people in rich countries. But some groups say they're getting less money than they'd expect from donors despite all the news.

Psychologist Paul Slovic of the University of Oregon has some answers that may surprise you.


Problems Need Solutions

When framing is in the news, everyone (and our mothers) emails us about it. This happened last week as our in-boxes filled up with “did you hear this” emails about how we “had to read” Shankar Vadantam’s report for NPR of recent work conducted by University of Oregon psychologist Paul Slovic and his colleagues.

The NPR piece reports on one interesting Slovic finding in particular—that problem appeals framed at the individual level (about one individual’s problem) are more effective in increasing donations than appeals that show the same problem at a larger population scope (talking about how this is a problem from which many people suffer). But the finding is not that simple, especially for those attempting to use this research to inform their communications practice.


Pope Francis As Reformer, Evangelizer — And Doctrinal Conservative

He's the first pope to come, of course, from the New World, he's the first pope really to come out of that context where poverty is dominant. Now that's a very different kind of context from which popes have traditionally come.

That gives him a sensitivity to poverty. It gives him a sensitivity to need and to vulnerability. And from the very beginning, therefore, he's identified with and used the language of what he calls the existential margins, the "existential peripheries," as he calls them.


Fight fundamentalism by tackling poverty, urges Pope Francis
Constanze Letsch, The Guardian

Pope Francis has called for more religious tolerance and for fundamentalism to be tackled by relieving hunger, poverty and marginalisation, rather than by military interventions alone.

Speaking in the vast auditorium of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s palace in Ankara, he lauded Turkey for hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, and reminded the international community of their “moral obligation” to help care for the almost 2 million Syrians currently living within Turkish borders.

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