Daily News - Wednesday 21 May 2014

Posted 21 May 2014 7:35am

When the helpers need help
Lindy Alexander, Sydney Morning Herald

Jessica Feldman* can't quite remember when she realised the stress of her job as a social worker, where she supported failed asylum seekers and victims of sex trafficking, was taking its toll on her life. Feldman listened to stories from her clients of gang rapes, beheadings, whippings, brothel enslavement and child abuse.

... People working in caring professions such as social work tend to be giving, empathic people, says Romaine Moss, a manager with CatholicCare in Sydney's Broken Bay diocese.

"While they might not think that they are entitled to feel distress in the same way as their clients, they are not generally disengaged onlookers," she says. "There is a very real issue in how these workers protect themselves from constant exposure to tragic stories, and the behaviours that result from a failure to recognise and address the impact of what they have 'endured' vicariously."


UK - Stress and anxiety in social work: reflective supervision can help
David Niven, Guardian Professional

Taking care of social workers' mental health should be a high priority, especially in the current climate of high vacancy rates, large case loads, and great public pressure. Over the years the social work profession has failed – in my view – to fully support its workforce with the kind of supervision and support designed to keep staff healthy and as stress free as possible. The anxiety generated in their work has to be addressed. Most social workers' resources are between their ears, and if staff are burning out then those they work with are not getting the best service.

When delivering a training course called Empowering Social Work, I always mention the condition of vicarious traumatisation.


UK - How can employers promote good mental health? Live discussion
Ruth Hardy, Guardian Professional

Social care and healthcare are consistently ranked as among the most stressful fields to work in – perhaps due to a combination of the difficulty of the work itself, budget cuts, a high turnover of employees, and staff shortages. Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show that, between 2009-12, those in health and social work professions experienced the highest rates of work-related anxiety, stress and depression of any field. Then there are the mental health issues triggered by the nature of social care and healthcare jobs, such as vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue or burnout.


Review of Rural Financial Counselling Service
Barnaby Joyce, media release

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, has announced a review of the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS), which provides free financial counselling to farmers in financial difficulty.

"In April, I asked the National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) to conduct a review of the RFCS to ensure it is working effectively to support farmers and producers," Minister Joyce said.


RFCS review: 'worst possible timing'
Colin Bettles, The Land

There's a “collective shudder” running through rural Australia this week, says Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, after the Coalition government announced a review into the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS).

The RFCS was one of several ag-related programs listed for the scrap heap in the pre-budget Commission of Audit. But while last week’s tough budget avoided axing the highly regarded RFCS - which provides free financial counselling to farmers and rural businesses in tough times like droughts - Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce this week said the program would be reviewed for the first time since 2004.


More than just a shed
Kayleigh Bruce, Whyalla News

A local Men’s Shed initiative is helping to shape a research theory that would have an international context.

Visiting UK research associate Paul Hopkins is working alongside local associate professor Gary Misan to research links between community culture and the delivery of health messages.


Maternal depression symptom rates increase four years after birth of child
Kate Hagan, Sydney Morning Herald

Maternal depression is more common four years after the birth of a woman's first child than at any time during the child's first year, new research shows.

A Murdoch Childrens Research Institute study of 1500 mothers found that 10 per cent of women reported symptoms of depression a year after the birth of their first child - but this increased to 15 per cent four years after the birth.


Australian children some of the least active in the world, a survey reveals
Lucy Carroll, Sydney Morning Herald

More than 80 per cent of children fail to get one hour of exercise each day, ranking them behind Britain and Finland as among the least active in the world.

A landmark survey of 15,000 people, which compared the physical activity of children from 15 countries, found the majority of five to 17 year-old Australians do not meet exercise guidelines and more than 70 per cent spend more than two hours a day watching an electronic screen.


Bystander approaches: Responding to and preventing men's sexual violence against women
Anastasia Powell, Australian Institute of Family Studies

Bystander action is often promoted as an effective way of engaging non-violent men in challenging violence against women in their peer groups and communities. While there is much international research literature examining the barriers and facilitators to bystander action, and several program models well evaluated in the United States, bystander approaches for responding to and preventing sexual violence against women are far less developed in Australia. Australian research, policy and programs are increasingly focused on harnessing bystander action as part of a holistic plan to address and prevent violence against women, including sexual violence. Yet there are some unresolved challenges and issues in their implementation.


Scenario 1 for young people who lose their jobs
Maree O’Halloran, Welfare Writes Blog

If the Budget 2014 proposals pass the Parliament, a number of unreasonable scenarios emerge for young adults.


Scenario 2 for young adults who lose their jobs
Maree O’Halloran, Welfare Writes Blog

If the Budget 2014 proposals pass the Parliament, a number of unreasonable scenarios emerge for young adults. Access to a social security safety will be severely restricted.


Life just gets harder for marginalised Australians: Salvos research shows the real face of Australian poverty
Salvation Army, media relase

A nationwide survey of around 2,500 Salvation Army welfare clients reveals a harrowing snapshot of the realities of daily life for those living on the margins - vulnerable, difficult lives which The Salvation Army believes are about to get even harder in light of the recent Federal budget.

As The Salvation Army today releases the findings of its annual Economic and Social Impact Survey (ESIS), the Salvos are gravely concerned the federal government has ignored the needs of the most vulnerable Australians in the search for budget savings.


Budget backlash: Salvos tipping rise in emergency calls for help
Miki Perkins, The Age

The Salvation Army has warned it expects a surge in people searching for emergency relief if federal budget cuts to welfare are passed, increasing the already significant number of Australians living in entrenched and grinding poverty.

The welfare agency's snapshot of the demand for its relief services over the past year paints a sombre picture of people being forced to cut down on basics including meals, bills and school books.


Salvation Army study shows almost a quarter of Australian welfare recipients cannot afford medical care
Lauren Wilson, News Corp Australia Network

The Salvation Army’s Bruce Redman said the $7 co-contribution for routine doctors’ visits ignored the economic circumstances of the poor.

“While for most Australians a fee of $7 might not sound like much, for someone who lives on less than $35 a day, including their housing costs, this is yet another burden on their already fragile financial position,” Dr Redman said.


Palmer United Party's Jacqui Lambie flags taxing big banks, hits out at welfare cuts
7.30, ABC

The Government should be forcing the big banks to pay more tax, rather than reforming the welfare sector, according to Palmer United Party senator-elect Jacqui Lambie.

The former soldier, who will enter the Senate in July, says "hitting welfare" is not the way the Government should be finding savings and the nation needs "other ideas".


Growing calls for debate on GST
Sid Maher, The Australian ($)

Businessand welfare groups and the ACT’s Labor Chief Minister have joined the growing chorus calling for the GST to be part of a national tax reform debate.

... State and national welfare groups called yesterday for the GST to be part of the tax reform debate, but said it should not be assumed that increasing the GST was the only fix.

Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Cassandra Goldie said the debate must also examine exemptions on capital gains tax, negative gearing and superannuation tax concessions, and the Henry tax review should be used as a starting point.


Budget rethink needed to keep Australia on course
ACOSS, media release

The Federal Budget does not set a course for building the social infrastructure and opportunity that Australians need according to representatives from state and territory Councils of Social Service meeting in Sydney.


What's inside Joe Hockey's head?
Ross Gittins, Sydney Morning Herald

Don’t think just because you voted for the Coalition Hockey is looking after you. It works out that low income-earners – generally the old, the young and the unemployed - are heavily dependent on government spending, and genuinely middle income-earners with dependent kids are significantly reliant on government spending.

Only high income-earners who’ve already been means-tested out of eligibility for most programs (e.g. me) have little to lose from Hockey’s cuts. That’s the reason for the deficit levy. Without it, it would have been too easily seen that high income-earners weren’t doing any of Hockey’s "heavy lifting".


Left would rather wreck than work
Miranda Devine, The Daily Telegraph

There is no equivalence between money that a government takes from a lifter’s pocket and the benefits it pays to a leaner. And yet this is where the false equity argument leads. It is what allows an ANU professor to tell the ABC with a straight face of the deep unfairness of the budget because an unemployed 23-year-old will lose $47 a week, or 18 per cent of his benefits, while someone who earns $250,000 loses $24 a week, just 1 per cent of his income. This is a world in which “income” is untethered from effort.


Asylum seekers: praying for change
Peter Sherlock, The Conversation

Yesterday around 20 Christian activists staged sit-ins in Sydney at the office of the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and in Melbourne at that of Federal Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten. The protesters included priests, pastors and nuns, young and old, from the Uniting, Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, and independent churches.


Moral teaching that falls on deaf ears
Neil Ormerod, Eureka Street

At a time when we are preoccupied with the shock of the budget, and Scott Morrison has been seeking to justify his proposed Australian Border Force, a recent media release from the Catholic Bishops seems to have passed with little or no notice from the mainstream media. It is hard to recall such a strong and direct call by the Catholic Bishops on our politicians on a matter of major public policy.


Statement by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference on Asylum Seekers
Australian Catholic Bishops Converence, media release

Do racist attitudes underlie the current policy? Would the policy be the same if the asylum seekers were fair-skinned Westerners rather than dark-skinned people, most of whom are of “other” religious and cultural backgrounds? Is the current policy perhaps bringing to the surface not only a xenophobia in us but also a latent racism? The White Australia policy was thought to be dead and buried, but perhaps it has mutated and is still alive.

There may also be the selfishness of the rich. Not everyone in Australia is rich, but we are a rich nation by any reckoning. The asylum seekers are often portrayed as economic refugees coming to plunder our wealth. But the fact is that most of them are not being “pulled” to Australia by a desire for wealth but are being “pushed” from their homeland and other lands where there is no life worth living. No-one wants them.

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