Daily News - Wednesday 20 August 2014

Posted 20 August 2014 8:30am

What it’s really like to be unemployed and on the Disability Support Pension
Wenlei Ma, news.com.au

Prue Hawkins has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Curtin University and a postgraduate law degree from the University of Western Australia.

Sharp, educated and articulate, she worked for Legal Aid in WA for two years but her contract wasn’t renewed when budget cuts hit the department at the beginning of the year. But she can’t just find another job at the drop of a hat.

Ms Hawkins has osteogenesis imperfecta, otherwise known as Brittle Bone Disease. She’s 98 centimetres tall, has broken between 30 and 50 bones in her body and gets around in a wheelchair.


NDIS on track and on budget
National Disability Insurance Scheme, media release

People with disability are accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in record time and costs remain on track, according to the scheme’s latest quarterly data.

The “Report on the sustainability of the scheme”, released today, shows the average cost of individualised NDIS support packages in the first year of the scheme was $34,600* — within the funding expectation of $35,000.


Too Much Stick, Not Enough Carrot in Abbott's Welfare Changes
Marc Levy, New Matilda

The Abbott Government's proposed changes to welfare focus are too focused on punishment, with little room for boosting self-esteem and capacity. Dr Marc Levy explains.


Welfare Changes Will Be Counter-Productive, Senate Inquiry Hears
Max Chalmers, New Matilda

Proposed Abbott Government changes to the welfare system will demotivate rather than assist people in work, a parliamentary inquiry has been told. Max Chalmers reports.


What Real Reform of Social Security Payments Would Look Like
Cassandra Goldie, Pro Bono News

In our submission to the Welfare Review ACOSS put forward a bold plan to overhaul the payment system for people of working age so that it's based on needs, not deservingness. A single ‘common income support payment' would replace the various pensions and allowance payments for people of working age. The age pension would not be affected. The level of the new common payment would be set with reference to an independent Commission, based on the cost of life's essentials. It would have to be much higher than the $36 day Newstart payment.


Pearson’s grip on Indigenous policy is not backed by evidence
Marcus Waters, The Conversation

Noel Pearson is seen by many as Australia’s most influential Indigenous leader. As well as being chairman of the Cape York Group, he is an outspoken commentator who shapes policy as part of the Abbott government’s inner sanctum advising on Indigenous affairs. When Pearson talks people listen; in many cases his policy ideas have won bipartisan political support. There are many who have put their faith in him - of that there is little doubt.

But Pearson’s personal style has long been divisive, attracting strong critics within our own Indigenous communities. Recently, concern over his approach spilled over into the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald.


Children freed as Morrison plans to push for TPVs
Sarah Whyte, Ben Doherty, Lisa Cox, The Age

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is trying again to restore temporary protection visas after announcing 150 children would be removed from immigration detention centres and placed on bridging visas in the community.

The use of temporary visas (TPVs), which have been voted down twice in the Senate, would allow asylum seekers to have work rights, but not allow permanent residency in Australia.


If you’re a kid in detention, a date is everything
Michelle Grattan, The Conversation

Scott Morrison’s release of more children from detention is selective, and the timing of his announcement has a distinctly political flavour to it.

The decision applies to about 150 children under ten years old, who will be out by Christmas, but not to the several hundred more who arrived from July 19 last year, when Kevin Rudd made his announcement that all asylum seekers would be sent offshore. To let those out would undermine the government’s deterrence policy, Morrison says.


Preparing the vulnerable for climate change
Bridget Tehan, VCOSS

Australians face the prospect of less rain, more heatwaves, more droughts and more extreme fire danger as our climate heats up, according to the State of the Climate Report 2014.

This is not just an environmental issue – it is a social justice issue. The effects of climate change hit people facing disadvantage the hardest.


Inequality matters
Harry Maher, Eureka Street

Inequality matters. Inequality is dangerous. And inequality is at a near all-time high. At its core, the Government’s recent budget not only engenders but actively exults in the creation and maintenance of inequality, a phenomenon rapidly expanding not just in Australia, but around the world. Generations of economists have promised that free markets and competition would bring an end to disparity in society. But the statistics are out. And the statistics don’t lie.


Abbott and Hockey: Why poor people don't matter
Ross Gittins, The Age

Until now, the conventional wisdom among economists has been that efforts to reduce inequality come at the expense of economic growth. Now a pillar of economic orthodoxy, the IMF, has found it works the other way round: rising inequality - as is occurring in Australia, the US and almost all advanced economies - seems to lead to slower growth.

Lagarde said other IMF research had found that, in general, budgetary policies had a good record of reducing social disparities. Social security benefits and income taxes “have been able to reduce inequality by about a third, on average, among the advanced economies”.

What can we do? “Some potentially beneficial options can include making income tax systems more progressive without being excessive; making greater use of property taxes; expanding access to education and health; and relying more on active labour market programs and in-work social benefits.”

Perhaps in his efforts to get a modified version of his budget passed by the Senate, Hockey could bring in the IMF as consultants.


Forget politics, we may need a Tax Commission
John Hewson, The Drum

... there is a need for longer term, structural thinking and planning. For governments, this calls for thinking beyond the forward estimates and the next election. For political oppositions, it means rising above the negativity and short-term, opportunistic pointscoring in order to consider the national interest.

Too much to ask, you say? Short-termism, and particularly short-term politics, will inevitably win out! OK, let us go to the other extreme and pose the question of whether it is inconceivable that the Abbott White Paper might consider, given the overwhelming importance of the tax and transfer system and the likely fierce, negative politics against whatever will be proposed, that it would make more sense to consider the establishment of an independent, permanent, Tax Commission, an institution designed to be "beyond politics".


Treasury sinks budget crisis talk
David Crowe, The Australian ($)

Treasury figures have punctured claims of a crisis over the passage of the federal budget, ­revealing that 98.9 per cent of ­expense measures are already legislated despite a savage political fight over a handful of reforms.

... Finance Minister Mathias Cormann hardened the message on the budget last night by declaring there was “ample time” to legislate the changes, saying no recent government had passed all of its budget changes by the end of August.

Senator Cormann also opened a new front in the fight over the fairness of the budget by warning that the greater injustice would be to deepen the deficit and leave a growing debt burden for the next generation.


Investor Return On Social Benefit Bond
Pro Bono News

Australia’s first social benefit bond will deliver a return of 7.5 per cent to investors this year, a certification by auditor Deloitte has shown.

The Newpin Bond, a pilot program designed to test the effectiveness of social benefit bonds in the Australian context, is focussed on out-of-home care for children.

The Bond is a performance contract between the NSW Government and provider, UnitingCare Burnside. It was given the tick of approval by the NSW Government in February this year.


Philanthropy comes of age in Australia
Lucinda Schmidt, The Age

Less than 24 hours after Melbourne billionaire Alex Waislitz revealed plans last month to donate $50 million to charity, the Packer family trumped him by announcing a $200 million philanthropic fund.

That followed Westpac’s landmark $100 million scholarship fund, established in April, and a charitable bequest of more than $3 billion – Australia’s largest ever donation - by healthcare tycoon Paul Ramsay, who died in May.


Top Methods that Encourage Charity Giving: Research Findings
Pro Bono News

New Australian research into social media in the Not for Profit sector has identified the top three methods charities employ to encourage people to give.

Monash University researcher Karen Sutherland, who investigates social media and the NFP sector, conducted a survey of 177 current and prospective donors, volunteers and supporters of charities.

She says the top three techniques are giving online, websites and television and collectors at intersections coming in at equal third.


Abbott's Team Christian Australia
Irfan Yusuf, Eureka Steet

My experience of Australia as a kid was that it was a nation of bullies trying to protect their turf from anyone they perceived as outsiders. This usually meant people sufficiently different in the wrong way and for reasons beyond their control.

Perhaps this was Tony Abbott's experience growing up as an English Catholic migrant in a very Protestant Australia. Perhaps that is why he took up boxing as a young man, in the same manner as many young Indigenous and Lebanese men take up the sport. In self-defence he may have found a deep sense of empowerment. Abbott knew he had to fight his way into Team Australia.


Pope Francis says he has 'two or three years' to live and is open to retirement

Onboard the Papal plane: The Pope has publicly broached the prospect of his own death for the first time, giving himself "two or three years" but not ruling out retirement before then.


Pope plays down concerns about his health
John L Allen, Boston Globe

Despite having been forced earlier in the summer to cancel several appointments due to illness and exhaustion, Francis played down concerns about his health. The 77-year-old pontiff conceded, however, that he may need to be “a little more prudent” in protecting his energy.

The comments came during an airborne press conference on the return flight from Francis’ Aug. 13-18 trip to South Korea. The pope spoke to reporters for a full hour, taking 15 questions on a wide range of subjects.


With human pain, you can't be neutral, says Pope Francis
Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service

... the pope made clear the church should not accept a rigid separation between religion and politics. On four of his five days in South Korea, he wore a yellow-ribbon pin commemorating the approximately 300 people killed in the April sinking of the Sewol ferry, a gesture some interpreted as support for demands by victims' families that the government appoint an independent investigation of the disaster.

The pope said: "I took [the pin] out of solidarity with them, and after half a day, somebody came up to me and said, 'You should take it off; you need to be neutral.' I answered this way: 'Listen, with human pain you can't be neutral.' That's how I feel."

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