Daily News - Monday 10 November 2014
A piece of paper doesn't make a happy couple
Jacqueline Maley, The Canberra Times
[Kevin] Andrews has cited the reluctance of the modern man to commit as the primary reason for the increase in de facto relationships, that men are "sliding rather than deciding" to shack up, and never truly commit.
But Dr Heard says that most Australian and US researchers (in the US the relationship between poverty and de-facto couplings is particularly strong), believe it is the nature of employment for low-skilled men which affects relationship volatility.
"The decline of blue-collar jobs means there is very little secure employment if you are unqualified or haven't finished high school," she says.
"That makes it hard to attract a permanent partner and it also places a lot of stress on the relationship."
"It makes sense from a woman's point of view not to commit to a relationship where there is very little stability of economic prospects, especially where children are involved."
Which rather turns on its head the myth of the non-committal modern man.
States must set adoption targets, Barnardos Australia says
Rachel Browne, The Canberra Times
Australia's leading child abuse charity is calling on the federal government to introduce targets to encourage the adoption of children from foster care.
Barnardos Australia chief executive Louise Voigt said setting targets for adoption would help reduce the growing number of children in the foster system.
... A report by the Centre for Independent Studies found the cost of foster care has skyrocketed, tripling between 2000-10 while the number of children in care doubled over the same period.
NSW shadow minister for Family and Community Services Linda Burney believes setting a target for open adoption is not the answer to the problem.
Cuts to jobless benefits will boost economic growth, Australia tells G20
Tom Allard, The Canberra Times
The Australian government has cited controversial cuts to unemployment benefits as one of the key structural reforms that will increase economic activity by 2 per cent, according to a draft of its growth strategy to be submitted to the G20 leaders' summit.
The reference to the jobless reforms – which include a measure preventing unemployed people under 30 from accessing welfare payments for up to six months – comes even though the changes have been blocked in the Senate.
Richard Cooke, The Monthly
Australian politicians love the idea of mutual obligation. But the disparities underlying it are becoming more and more extreme. Welfare recipients are painted as getting “something for nothing”, and pushed into more and more restrictive versions of the social contract. Meanwhile, corporate citizens are happy to take subsidies and shirk tax, and can expect little or no punishment if they break the law. Some are trying to excise themselves from society altogether. The government has talked tough about tax and regulation at the G20, while gutting enforcement agencies at the same time. Don’t expect that to change.
We need to be smarter about closing the gap
Ross Gittins, The Sydney Morning Herald
Last week Dr Rebecca Reeve, a senior research fellow of the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation at the University of Technology, Sydney, outlined to a meeting of the Economic Society the results of her research evaluating the policies aimed at closing the gap.
She used econometric tools to analyse several surveys conducted by the Bureau of Statistics, noting that the nature of indigenous disadvantage and the best solutions to it may depend on where people are located.
... her findings suggest that reducing drug and alcohol problems should reduce victimisation, which should reduce long-term health problems, which should increase employment, which should increase income.
Noel Pearson is a great orator but he's essentially a leader without followers in Aboriginal world
Jack Waterford, The Canberra Times
No change can occur simply because Centrelink imposes some new system, or a minister announces that every child will go to school. One has to bring the people along.
Down the track, if there is not informed consent to what is occurring, the cost of administering programs to apathetic, insolent and unengaged recipient becomes prohibitive, even as the physical situation gets worse. At the moment, for example, there is probably $8 spent in the bureaucracy, logistics, and organisation of services to Aboriginal Australians for every dollar going into an Aboriginal hand. One cannot but think that if it were the other way around, things could hardly be worse.
If imposed regimes –welfarist or responsibility focused, integrationist or assimilationist, racist or non-discriminatory – could make a difference, one might think that there would be some evidence of it by now. Whether in Cape York communities – the centrepiece of Noel Pearson's sense of himself and of his mission – or in intervention communities in the Northern Territory, in country towns in Victoria or in Perth, and Darwin, and Brisbane and Melbourne. It's not just a matter of fine words.
Significant rise in indigenous injection of ice
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)
A disturbing report into methamphetamine use in the Northern Territory reveals indigenous communities are experiencing a significant rise in the use of hard drugs.
The Weekend Australian has obtained the report, Methamphetamine use in the NT, which has been prepared by the Association of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies NT with contributions from the Alcohol and Other Drugs Program in the Territory’s Department of Health.
The report is based on the anecdotal evidence provided by drug and alcohol services in Territory communities.
A nation shamed when child sees suicide as the solution
Natasha Robinson and Andrew Burrell, The Australia ($)
Remote Australia is in the grip of a suicide epidemic that is taking the lives of children as young as eight years old, with Aboriginal towns in the Kimberley now suffering the highest rates of suicide in the world.
As the West Australian port city of Geraldton yesterday buried 11-year-old Peter Little, who was found hanging from a tree in nearby bush by another child, indigenous leaders called for urgent action to address a growing crisis that will see as many as one in 12 Aboriginal deaths caused by suicide.
“We are talking about an epidemic,” said Tony Abbott’s chief indigenous adviser, Warren Mundine. “Quite frankly, you are looking at a society in collapse. I am a father and I just cannot get it through my head that at the age of eight or nine a child can’t see a future for themselves. It’s unimaginable.”
Suicide-prevention groups accused of not doing enough for indigenous
Natasha Robinson, The Australian ($)
Mainstream suicide-prevention organisations and major charities are failing to stem the tide of a rising epidemic of indigenous suicide, sparking criticism from Aboriginal health workers that local groups are isolated from funding and service delivery.
The national peak organisation Suicide Prevention Australia has defended the fact that it does not have a single Aboriginal representative on its board, even though some of the nation’s remote regions have the highest suicide rates in the world.
The workplace: where mental illness stigma thrives
Sam Ryan, Right Now
The workplace is a breeding ground for mental illness stigma: where increasing pressure creates and exacerbates stress, and increasing uncertainty encourages a culture of silence.
For many of us work is our second home, so it is concerning that so many Australians, upon entering the workplace, conceal this part of our identity, like so much cheap stationary tucked away as we walk out.
According to the Mental Health Council of Australia, 69 per cent of people are uncomfortable disclosing a mental illness to an employer and 35 per cent ruled out the possibility completely. A study by SANE Australia found that while Australians are just as likely as Europeans to disclose mental illness to those close to us, we are twice as likely not to tell our bosses. Forty per cent of those taking sick leave due to depression hid the fact from their boss, with almost half fearing risks to their employment.
A criminal justice system that builds a safer community
Jesuit Social Services (pdf)
Victoria’s next government must take action to turn around the state’s criminal justice system so that it delivers a safer community.
We all want a safe community. An effective approach to criminal justice can contribute to this by preventing crime in the first place and, where crime does occur, by ensuring that our responses to it hold people who offend to account, satisfy victims’ interests, and reduce the likelihood of repeat offending.
Over recent years Victoria has pursued law and order reforms that will make our community less safe. Reforms to bail, sentencing and parole have resulted in dramatic increases in imprisonment. This is problematic, given the lack of evidence that increasing imprisonment reduces crime.
Childcare training colleges marked as failures by skills authority
Natasha Bita, The Australian ($)
Dozens of childcare training colleges have been caught churning out graduates who cannot change nappies, supervise children or write English.
The Australian Skills Quality Authority has in the past three months audited one in four of Australia’s 289 training colleges offering childcare, and judged 80 per cent to be substandard.
The audit of 77 colleges was triggered by complaints to the Productivity Commission’s childcare inquiry about “poorly trained’’ staff with “fast and cheap’’ qualifications.
Rationalists should stop burying their mistakes
Ross Gittins, The Canberra Times
I'm not a great proposer of royal commissions, but maybe such a spotlight is the only way to oblige blinkered economic rationalists to face the many failures of their knee-jerk advocacy of outsourcing, privatisation and deregulation.
Economists aren't as scientific as they claim to be, being prone to what psychologists call "confirmation bias". Whereas the scientific method requires you to seek disproof of your theory, economists - like the rest of us - note all the occasions when it seems to work and quickly forget any times when it didn't.
But, as the troubles of the for-profit trainer Vocation Ltd remind us, the instances of ill-considered micro-economic reforms producing dubious outcomes just keep piling up.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission has proven to be so successful that charity regulators from across the USA are now looking to replicate it. This is further proof that the Abbott Government has got in wrong in moving to scrap the commission.
One of the commission’s senior executives was recently invited to the United States to tell the National Association of State Charity Officials more about how the regulator’s work is increasing transparency and cutting red tape for not-for-profits.
You can't put a price on the value of charity work
Kathy Evans, The Guardian
My challenge for the voluntary sector over the next decade is to find a new relationship with money. I don’t mean that money doesn’t matter, but I believe as a sector we have allowed it to dominate, distort and distract us from our greatest economic role – the creation of value beyond money.
Long before I ever entered an economics classroom my father taught me something about money – “Remember that money has no value in itself. It’s just something we invented to let us do things. The only value it has is the value you place on what you could spend it on.” Paying a price for something you don’t like much will feel expensive, he explained, but the same amount spent on something you treasure will feel like a bargain. Their price is the same but their value is different. Value is a feeling, not a fact.
CEO of National Council of Single Mothers and Their Children Terese Edwards says hidden sexism is rife in non-profit sector
Julie Power and Stephanie Bates, The Age
Former senior executive Terese Edwards was so frustrated by hidden sexism that she quit a secure job where she managed 40 people to do something to improve the lot of women.
She's not surprised that Australia's gender wealth gap has widened sharply despite a long-term rise in female workforce participation and strong growth in the proportion of women with tertiary qualifications like hers. The research by Curtin University also found more single female households have children than single male households.
Even in the non-profit sector, which is dominated by women, the upper echelons were mostly men, said Ms Edwards. "The numbers didn't equate. It staggered me that 70 per cent of the workforce would be women, yet (there were so few) women on boards and as CEOs."
Or You Live as You Think
Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig
Paul Bourget wrote that “one must live the way one thinks or end up thinking the way one has lived.” The point being: it’s not really stable or tenable to maintain a values system that’s completely removed from how you actually live your life. Eventually you’ll either modify the values system or modify the way you live.
The Christian Science Monitor has an article out on Arnold Abbott, the 90 year old man who has been cited twice in Fort Lauderdale for feeding homeless people even after ordinances were passed to stop that. The CS Monitor wonders: “is this charity or a crime?” Well, both — but they mean crime in its normative sense. Is this charity, or is it something harmful?
Supporters of anti-homeless ordinances do say that rendering aid to homeless people is harmful. Their reasoning ...
As the Berlin Wall fell, checks on capitalism crumbled
Larry Elliott, The Guardian
The financial crisis and its aftermath have revealed the dark side of the post-cold war model, but Catholic social teaching proposes correcting the way market forces work so that they serve the public interest.
Just Money: How Catholic Social Teaching can Redeem Capitalism
Clifford Longley, Theos
Can we just go on with business as usual? The banking crash and ensuing global recession revealed deep problems with free market economics. Yet after five years of economic instability and falling living standards, market fundamentalism – the conviction that market forces should be interfered with as little as possible – is somehow still standing with no serious rivals in the frame.
In this essay, respected journalist and commentator Clifford Longley points to a way forward. With the long-standing and highlyesteemed model of Just War theory in the background, he unpacks the theory of Just Money. Drawing on the extensive and detailed tradition of Catholic Social Thought – a tradition with roots in classical philosophy and Catholic teaching that is accessible to people of all faiths and none – Longley sets out an alternative vision.
Cardinal Kasper: Pope Francis 'does not represent a liberal position, but a radical position'
Vinnie Rotondaro, National Catholic Reporter
On Thursday, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, received the Johannes Quasten Medal for Excellence in Scholarship and Leadership in Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Kasper, the German theologian best known for his writings on the role of mercy in church teaching, gave a 50-minute lecture on the meaning and significance of Pope Francis.
... For Pope Francis, "reality has primacy over ideas," Kasper said. And with a focus on the Gospel, he "is intent on overcoming the absence of joy in the church and the modern world."
He "wants to initiate a new beginning for the church," Kasper said, but not by destroying tradition. Rather, "Pope Francis stands in a great tradition, reaching back to the earliest beginnings."
"He does not represent a liberal position, but a radical position, understood in the original sense of the word as going back to the roots, the radix." By reaching back through time, he is, in fact, "constructing a bridge to the future."
The father, the son and a very proud mum of Anthony Fisher
Tess Livingstone, The Australian ($)
The incoming Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, moved into St Mary’s Cathedral presbytery yesterday, bringing with him 10 flourishing pots of herbs — and a strong sense of family — to stand beside the roses cultivated by Cardinal George Pell.
... By the time the incoming archbishop is due to retire, in 2035, he wants his legacy to be an “inverted pyramid’’, where the young people at mass, in the priesthood, in convents and in parishes outnumber older people — a reversal of the status quo in most denominations, including the Catholic Church, in Australia. His plans for achieving it are already taking shape ahead of his installation.