Daily News - Wednesday 9 July 2014

Posted 9 July 2014 7:27am

Income and wealth inequality in Australia
David Richardson and Richard Denniss, The Australia Institute

Despite consistent public support for reducing inequality, the government is currently seeking to reduce income support. In fact, in recent months the Abbott government has begun to argue that inequality is not just unavoidable, but also beneficial. Rather than use the welfare system to redistribute income, the government is seeking to ensure that welfare payments grow at a significantly slower rate than wages. The result will inevitably be an even bigger gap between those with the most and those with the least.

Feds Urge Homelessness Agreement Sign On
Pro Bono News

The Federal Government is urging South Australia and Tasmania to sign the 2014-15 National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH).

Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews said that only South Australia and Tasmania were yet to sign the 2014-15 Agreement that provides up to $115 million in Federal funding for homelessness initiatives.


Finding that first job is hard, and cultural hurdles make it extra hard
George Morgan, The Conversation

A few years ago in a quiet corner of Sydney’s Redfern Community Centre, I interviewed a young Aboriginal man, Scott, about his life for a research project. Like many of his contemporaries he grew up in a home without a father and with a mother who had struggled to keep him in check.


Social security review leaves Australia’s carers in limbo
Yvette Maker, The Conversation

Carers received relatively little attention in the interim report of the Review of Australia’s Welfare System. This was despite early media reports that the Carer Payment would be a target for reform.

The report emphasises the benefits of work for carers and characterises their entitlement to income support as temporary rather than long-term. But the review’s implications for carers, including whether they face changes to their paid work obligations, remain unclear.


UK - Will the UK’s digital welfare reform project be able to tackle the complexities of human behaviour?
Derek Du Preez, diginomica

The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions has had a ‘challenging’ time with the roll-out of Universal Credit, its flagship welfare dwp-department-for-work-and-pensions-500x32_500reform project that aims to combine a number of benefits into one single payment. For those of you unfamiliar, Universal Credit was the only major IT project that was allowed to go ahead under the new coalition government, given that it has strong political backing from pretty much all parties, and was intended to simplify the complex benefits landscape of the UK’s welfare system. However, problems with the project made the headlines last year after it was revealed that there were challenges with the system’s flexibility and security and that millions of pounds worth of software was going to be written off as a result.


NZ - Youth welfare reforms working: Bennett
msm nz

Welfare reforms to get more young people receiving benefits into education and training appear to be working.

In the 18 months since the youth service came into being, more 16- and 17-year-olds on benefits achieved NCEA credits and were working towards gaining qualifications.


Stronger contact with previous carers would give foster children a greater sense of belonging
Justin Rogers, The Conversation

Foster carers can have a powerful impact on the lives of vulnerable children and young people. But with an average of four moves for each child in foster care, living with instability can affect them into adulthood.


Qld - State Government push to boost indigenous job chances with help from NDIS
Jason Tin, The Courier Mail

A new tate Government plan to boost indigenous employment has recommended using the upcoming rollout of the NDIS to create jobs for ­Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Queensland.

The Economic Participation Action Plan, released last night, also calls for $1 million to be spent each financial year to June 2017 on a “new indigenous vocational education partnership”, with $75,000 to be made available to indigenous communities to “trial the provision of freehold land”.


Complex NDIS likely to be delayed to get it right
Rick Morton, The Australian

National Disability Insurance Scheme chairman Bruce Bonyhady will drop the biggest hint yet that the $22 billion program could be delayed, even as the Queensland government quickens the pace on its planned 2016 rollout.

Mr Bonyhady will tell the National Press Club today that nothing should be done to jeopardise the ultimate success of the scheme just for the sake of meeting deadlines set before the scheme started.

He says adhering to government recommendations and other advice was a complex task.

Druce Bonyhady: 'Building the NDIS – A Progress Report'


Disability Support Demand on the Rise - Report
Pro Bono News

The number of Australians accessing disability support services has grown by 12 per cent since 2008-09, with 312,539 people accessing services in 2012-2013, a recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has shown. - See more at: http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2014/07/disability-support-demand-rise-report#sthash.abjDgMmO.dpuf


UK - Mentally ill people need to be helped, not hounded
Polly Tonybee, The Guardian

Neglect of the mentally ill is bad enough, but now consider how the Department for Work and Pensions deliberately torments them. I just met a jobcentre manager. It had to be in secret, in a Midlands hotel, several train stops away from where she works. She told me how the sick are treated and what harsh targets she is under to push them off benefits. A high proportion on employment and support allowance have mental illnesses or learning difficulties. The department denies there are targets, but she showed me a printed sheet of what are called "spinning plates", red for missed, green for hit. They just missed their 50.5% target for "off flows", getting people off ESA. They have been told to "disrupt and upset" them – in other words, bullying. That's officially described, in Orwellian fashion, as "offering further support".


UK - Is harshness to sick, disabled and poor people increasing ‘welfare’ costs?

Successive UK governments have made it harder for people in need to get social security, at a devastating human cost. Public services have also been cut, supposedly to save money. Might this have ended up costing taxpayers more?

Leaked documents suggest that Employment and Support Allowance costs are rising and the government may breach its own cap on ‘welfare’ spending, the BBC has reported. ESA replaced incapacity benefit for those unable to work because of sickness or disability.

People were forced to undergo ‘work capability assessments’, which have been widely condemned. Many people who were found ‘fit for work’, or placed on schemes to get them ready for employment, subsequently became very ill or died. Numerous others appealed successfully. Very few of those on the Work Programme ended up back in the workplace.


UK - How lives have changed through a neighbourhood approach to loneliness
Julie Wrigley, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

My colleagues and I have spent a lot of time over the past two years talking and thinking about loneliness. We found that a grassroots approach really can make a massive difference.

JRF and JRHT’s three-year action research programme, Neighbourhood approaches to loneliness, explored ways of reducing loneliness. It aimed to get people to talk about loneliness, what caused this, and what solutions they might identify and implement. The programme took a participatory approach, engaging community researchers in four varying neighbourhoods in York and Bradford.


Brains, genes and chemical imbalances – how explanations of mental illness affect stigma
Nick Haslam, The Conversation

Depression, schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions are increasingly linked to abnormalities in the brain and in our genes. Many professionals believe these developments hold the key to better treatments and their enthusiasm has spread. The public now endorses biogenetic (biological and genetic) explanations for mental health problems much more than in previous decades.


The age of entitlement: how wealth breeds narcissism
Anne Manne, The Guardian

Call it the asshole effect. That is the term coined by US psychologist Paul Piff after he did some stunning new research into the effects of wealth and inequality on people’s attitudes.

As we ponder Joe Hockey’s budget and his division of the world into "leaners" and "lifters", as we learn from Oxfam that the richest 1% of Australians now own the same wealth as the bottom 60%, we would do well to consider the implications of Piff’s studies. He found that as people grow wealthier, they are more likely to feel entitled, to become meaner and be more likely to exploit others, even to cheat.


Former adviser to Bob Brown now has the ear of Clive Palmer
Michelle Grattan, The Conversation

Ben Oquist is one of the most savvy political advisers in the business. He used to be Bob Brown’s right hand man, and stayed on with Christine Milne when she became Greens leader, until they fell out.

Now - in one of the bizarre political twists of which there have been so many recently - Oquist, strategy director at the Australia Institute, a progressive think tank, is helping Clive Palmer and his Senate PUPs on some of their agenda.


What to make of Palmer's gambit - A message from Ben Oquist
The Australia Institute

It is important to engage with all sections of the community. Even those we may have fundamental differences of opinions with. For example the recent powerful alliance between some farmers and environmentalist has come about through just such an approach.

Change is only achieved by engagement with people who do NOT share your view.


Pope Francis Replaces Vatican Bank Managers as Profit Drops 97%
Andrew Frye, Bloomberg

Pope Francis plans to replace the board and executives at the Vatican Bank after a year of reorganization at the scandal-plagued institution in which more than 2,000 accounts were blocked and profit dropped 97 percent.

“With the support of the Holy Father and the Council of Cardinals, we are creating simpler more efficient structures for serving the mission of the Catholic Church,” Cardinal-Prefect George Pell said today in an e-mailed statement. Net income at the bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, plummeted to 2.9 million euros ($3.9 million) from 86.6 million euros in 2012.


Pope: service to others frees us from 'existential grayness'
Catholic News Agency

In his homily during Mass for Saturday’s trip to Molise, Pope Francis explained that the Church is a people that both serves God and lives in the freedom that he gives from oppression.

“This is the freedom that, by the grace of God, we experience in the Christian community when we put ourselves at each others' service, without jealousy, without taking sides, without chatter… Serving one another. Serving!” the Pope explained in his July 5 homily.

“He frees us from fear, internal emptiness, isolation, regret and complaints…Christ frees us from this existential grayness.”

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