Daily News - Wednesday 12 November 2014

Posted 12 November 2014 6:59am

Charities left in the dark ahead of busy Christmas period
Claire Moore, media release

A significant number of not-for-profit organisations providing key services including emergency financial and food relief, early intervention for children at risk, social cohesion and volunteer programs have been faced with a $240 million budget cut and uncertainty as it still unclear where those cuts will fall on services.

Under the tricky cover of 'streamlining', 18 programs have been shrunk to 7 and many existing services simply did not know if they were eligible to apply under the new arrangements at all.

It was recently revealed at Senate Estimates this has been followed by a shambolic grants process being administered by Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews which gave organisation just six weeks to submit applications to secure ongoing contracts.

Small and specialist services providing specific services to some of the most vulnerable groups are understandably concerned that they will secure funding at all in the new regime.


Parents of FIFO worker to speak at hearing

The parents of a mentally ill fly-in fly-out worker will speak at a West Australian parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday.

Peter and Anita Miller will discuss their experience in dealing with their son Rhys Connor, 25, who had depression before he died.

A spate of FIFO workers' deaths over the past 12 months has prompted the Education and Health Standing Committee to investigate.


Rural residents need more than a quick-fix approach to mental health
Martin Laverty, The Canberra Times

Field days and agricultural shows are big events in country Australia. Farming families travel for hours to see the latest in tractor technology, soil seeding, or water conservation techniques. They mostly travel just to meet others and have a chat.

In recent years, new exhibitors have established themselves among the livestock and paddock demonstrations also wanting to have a chat. These exhibitors, such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service, are providing mental health and wellbeing checks.

For some country residents, a mental health check at a field day may be the only face-to-face mental health care they encounter. The Council of Australian Governments' Reform Council data tells us only half of remote area residents needing mental health care actually receive it, when compared to people accessing mental health care in cities.


Funding cuts tipped for RFCS
Colin Bettles, The Land

The National Rural Advisory Council’s (NRAC) review of the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) has recommended sweeping reforms, including funding cuts to reflect efficiency gains from governance and program changes.

The report’s primary recommendation said the Australian government should continue funding rural financial counselling services.

However, recommendation 33 said total RFCS program funding – $73 million for the 2011-15 grants funding period - should be reduced by approximately 20 per cent.


Colin Barnett to axe 150 bush towns
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has acknowledged there may be no future for some remote indigenous communities in Western Australia as Premier Colin Barnett yesterday revealed he plans to close up to 150 of the state’s 274 tiny settlements.

“There may well be communities that require a discussion about their future because of a range of issues including their economic future, but this is a matter for the West Australian government,” Senator Scullion said.

Fraser government indigenous affairs minister Fred Chaney has sent an open letter to Mr Barnett, Senator Scullion and Tony Abbott warning that if governments simply “let things rip” by withdrawing services and driving people out of remote communities without careful preparation, the outcomes for indigenous Australians “will be shameful”.


Chinese tourists and the internet: Nigel Scullion’s vision for communities
Amos Aikman, The Australian ($)

Remote indigenous communities outside Western Australia have a bright future and are unlikely to close, with opportunities emerging in Chinese tourism, internet-enabled businesses and education, and native plant products, says federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.

WA Premier Colin Barnett yesterday said the state could shut as many as half its 280 remote settlements, arguing that they were too expensive, but Senator Scullion said the state’s thinking was based on the fact there were “no jobs, no education, no health systems in place, and there is no likelihood of those systems being in place for relatively small numbers of people”.

He said that logic did not apply to communities in the Northern Territory and northern South Australia, which had evolved under different policies.


Homelessness increasing among women over 55
Anna Vidot, PM, ABC

ANNA VIDOT: The excitement in the room was palpable. St Bartholomew's House today officially opened its new accommodation centre catering for older women.

Fifty-eight-year-old Jenny is hoping to move in shortly.

JENNY: All going well I'm hoping to and when my children come to visit me I'll have a house.

ANNA VIDOT: Jenny's just one of a growing number of women aged over 55 who for a variety of reasons find themselves without a permanent roof over their head.


Homeless people speak to Senate committee about their plight

Jonathan Shapiera was a successful IT project manager. Now, he lives in his car.

“Anybody can end up homeless,” he said today.

“The government must recognise that there’s a problem. That is the first step to making changes.” Mr Shapiera, a diabetic, was living in Darwin and paying $550 a week for rent when he lost his job.

He was evicted and moved to Perth last December with his teenaged son, but failed to find work.


No government prepared to commit resources needed for homelessness, says director general
Jade Macmillan, ABC

[The WA Department of Housing's director general, Grahame Searle] told the [Economics References Committee] that addressing homelessness was not a priority for governments.

"I don't believe there's a government, state or federal, Liberal or Labor, that is prepared currently to commit the resources required to deal with this problem," he said.

"Under those circumstances, bureaucrats like myself do the best we can with what we're given and we've been more creative in Western Australia than anywhere else in the country."

Mr Searle told the hearing WA's public housing waiting list has been reduced from 24,000 people in 2010 to 19,000 people.

He said while that was a significant reduction, it was still much longer than the department would like.

Mr Searle also criticised the Federal Government's contribution to affordable housing.


WA NDIS My Way trial off to a good start
Colin Barnett and Helen Morton, media release

An impressive number of people with disability have joined the State Government’s WA National Disability Insurance Scheme My Way trial in the Lower South West.

Premier Colin Barnett said the first quarterly report showed the State Government-delivered trial of the NDIS in WA had had a positive beginning.

“Feedback from people with disability, families, carers and service providers has been very positive. It’s a great start to this exciting new era for disability services in WA and we should be proud of what we’ve achieved so far,” Mr Barnett said.


Kevin Andrews finds fan in UK MP Iain Duncan Smith
Judith Ireland, The Sydney Morning Herald

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has backed a British government move to ensure all its policies support stable family life, even joking that its Work and Pensions Secretary got the idea from him.

David Cameron's conservative government has recently introduced a "families test" to make sure all new laws and policies support "strong and stable" families.

This involves five questions that must be addressed before ministers can agree on a new policy. It includes the impact on family formation, families going through "transitions" such as having a baby, getting married and bereavement as well as before, during and after a divorce.


History shows our governments have no family values
Larry Graham, WA Today

The Social Services Minister, Kevin Andrews, has come up with another bright idea. We are now going to have increased government intervention in families.

This is so the government can "focus interventions on key transition or readiness points across the whole of life".

And in a bizarre twist, this cunning leftie social engineering exercise is brought to you by the political party that believes small governments should stay out of people's lives.

... Have those in power forgotten how generations of Aboriginal families were destroyed the last time governments demonstrated their "parental competence" credentials by intervening in the lives of Aboriginal people?


Experts gather for child protection conference
Colin Barnett and Helen Morton, media release

An international gathering of child protection experts will today hear how a Western Australian-developed framework has halved the rate of growth of children coming into care in WA over the past seven years.

Opening the WA Signs of Safety Gathering 2014 this morning, Premier Colin Barnett said while the overall number of WA children requiring out-of-home care continued to grow, the average rate of growth over the past seven years had halved since the introduction of the Signs of Safety framework.


Signs of Safety -- 2014 Western Australian Gathering
Signs of Safety

The 3rd Western Australian (and 8th international) Signs of Safety Gathering will be held in Perth from 11–13 November. All 17 city and country based districts from across the state will present their work alongside international presentations by teams from Europe and North America.


Kindergarten rebate misses the target on education costs
Paula Grogan, VCOSS

Supporting families and reducing the cost of living were highlighted as key priorities by the Coalition at its official 2014 State Election launch on Sunday.

... The Coalition ... announced $23 million over four years to provide a $100 non-means tested rebate for every child in their last year of kindergarten, excluding those who currently receive a fee-free place. This funding should be better targeted towards people on low incomes who most need support, rather than being given to families across the board, including those on medium and high incomes who are less in need of government assistance to meet the costs of kindergarten.


Pensions and asset deeming: the real reform needed
Matthew Taylor, The Mandarin

Reform of asset deeming must go beyond recent changes proposed by the federal government. The reform represents modest savings to the budget and does nothing make sure the age pension goes to those who need it the most.

Most of the 530,000 income support recipients who will be hit by proposed changes to asset deeming in the federal budget will be those with a moderate amount of assets. Those at the top end of town will be left largely unscathed.


Plan for Tassie as Asylum Seeker Processing Centre
Lina Caneva, Pro Bono News

A plan developed by Tasmanian community leaders and human rights activists would see the island-state become Australia's asylum seeker processing centre.

The Tasmania Opportunity Leaders Summit in Launceston heard the case for making the state an asylum seeker processing centre from leaders including human rights lawyer and refugee advocate Julian Burnside QC.

Burnside, who recently won this year's Sydney Peace Prize, said Tasmania offered an alternative to the Federal Government's Sovereign Borders policy - an alternative that was more humane and better value for the Australian taxpayer and the Tasmanian economy.


Australian Government Assistance to refugees: fact versus fiction
Luke Buckmaster and Jonathon Guppy, Parliamentary Library

In recent years a series of emails have been widely circulated throughout Australia claiming to describe the social security entitlements of refugees compared with those of other Australian residents. A common claim in these emails is that refugees in Australia receive higher social security benefits than age pensioners. Some also suggest that refugees receive free gifts such as houses. Claims of this kind are erroneous and appear to have caused some confusion in the community. They are often brought to the attention of senators and members by their constituents.

This Research Paper describes the current situation with regard to refugee entitlements to social security and other assistance in order to clarify this issue.


CatholicCare Hunter-Manning open in new location
Matthew Kelly, Newcastle Herald

CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning has opened a new office in Cardiff.

The Kelton Street office will provide disability support, counselling and out-of-home care services to people in Lake Macquarie.


Market Assumptions: Pope Francis’ challenge to income inequality
Robert W. McElroy, America

In a tweet read around the world this past April, Pope Francis told over 10 million online followers, in nine different languages, “Inequality is the root of social evil.” The pope’s diagnosis did not go over well with many American Catholics, who criticized the statement as being radical, simplistic and confusing. This pushback stands in stark and telling contrast to the otherwise enthusiastic reception the new pope has met in the United States. From the moment of his election, Pope Francis has captured the attention of the American people with his message and manner, even as he has challenged us all to deep renewal and reform in our lives. Americans take heart in the pope’s call to build an ecclesial culture that casts off judgmentalism; they applaud structural reforms at the Vatican and admire Francis’ continuing focus on the pastoral needs of ordinary men and women.


Liberation theology rooted in Bible, Christ, Father Gutierrez says
Deborah Gyapong, Catholic News Service

Liberation theology, which interprets the teachings of Christ in relation to liberation from unjust social, economic and political conditions, is rooted in the Bible and the life of Jesus, said the priest who developed the concept nearly 50 years ago.

Dominican Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez told an audience Nov. 7 at St. Paul University in Ottawa that "theology is a hermeneutic of hope. Theology touches on the motive, the story of our Lord in history."

"Theology is a letter of love to God," the Peruvian theologian known as the father of liberation theology added during a program in which he received an honorary doctorate.


Sydney's new Archbishop: Anthony Fisher steps into big shoes
Andrew West, The Canberra Times

Anthony Fisher steps into one of the most powerful jobs in Australian Catholicism when he is installed as archbishop of Sydney on Wednesday night. The big question is whether he can step out of the shadow of his predecessor.

Cardinal George Pell had long hoped that Fisher, a relatively youthful 54, would succeed him as a long-term archbishop. Other names had reportedly gone to the Vatican, including that of Brisbane archbishop Mark Coleridge – a thoroughly Australian, rugby coach-style prelate – and Newcastle's Bill Wright, a gentle, pastoral man now preoccupied with cleaning up the sexual abuse crises left by his predecessors in the diocese.

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