Daily News - Monday 13 October 2014
Young people can't live on fresh air and sunshine
John Falzon, Eureka Street
You don’t build a strong economy by increasing the level of inequality. You don’t create a strong country on the backs of the already poor. There’s nothing human about humiliating people because they are outside the labour market or on its low-paid fringes. There’s nothing smart about making it unaffordable for people to see a doctor or for their kids to go to university.
We are not in the throes of a fiscal crisis but if we embark on this treacherous path of US-style austerity, we will be staring down the barrel of a social crisis. We will be facing a social crisis if the people who bear the burden of inequality, especially the people who are forced into poverty and even homelessness, are made to pay so that the generous tax concessions enjoyed by the wealthy are protected and preserved. We will be facing a social crisis if, as a society, we are silent in the face of these attempts to grind down people’s lives, humiliating them and hurting them instead of helping them.
2.5 million people living in poverty in Australia: new report
ACOSS, media release
The Australian Council of Social Service has today released a new report revealing that poverty is growing in Australia with an estimated 2.5 million people or 13.9% of all people living below the internationally accepted poverty line.
The report provides the most up to date picture of poverty in the nation drawing on new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Income and Expenditure surveys for 2011-12 and previous years. It finds that 603,000 or 17.7% of all children were living in poverty in Australia.
Governor-General Peter Cosgrove has called on his fellow country men and women to help Australians plagued by the "insidious and all encompassing" problem of poverty.
Singles and renters most likely to be poor: new report
Rachel Browne, The Canberra Times
A single person living in rental accommodation is at the greatest risk of severe financial hardship, according to a new report which looks at the causes and extent of poverty in Australia.
The study by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre found that single people, either with or without children, and those locked out of the housing market were most likely to be living in severe poverty.
Survey finds 1 in 8 Australians cannot afford to pay electricity bill
Amy Bainbridge, ABC
A survey of Australian households has found one in eight people cannot afford to pay their electricity bills.
The Ernst & Young survey of households in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland showed more than one in 10 people have missed more than three bill payments in the past 12 months.
Anti-poverty week -- Calendar of Activities
The Calendar of Activities lists every activity that we have been told will be conducted in the Week or immediately before or after it.
Driven to living life on the street
Manika Dadson, The Examiner
Rejana Robinson was going on 16 when she left home for a life of squatting.
Rani, as she is better known, had no option than to leave her house in the state's south due to mental and physical abuse.
"I never had a Christmas or an Easter because we couldn't afford it," she said.
"The clothes that we had from eight years' old, we had until we were 10. They were short and tight and shoes didn't fit us properly.
"Because of feeling so left out for so many years, I thought the streets have to be better than this."
How entrepreneurs and social innovators can help solve homelessness
Conrad Liveris, BRW
What’s the role of business in achieving broad social outcomes? This is a challenging issue that plagues corporate social responsibility managers and community operatives alike.
Friday October 10 is World Homelessness Day and the end of Mental Health Week – fittingly linked. Too often these issues can be seen as distant from business when they are much closer than we realise.
Big corporate actors and entrepreneurs can each bring different skills to the table.
MP defends cuts to homelessness services in Wollongong
Brianna Parkins, Illawarra Mercury
NSW Family and Community Services Minister Gabrielle Upton has defended cuts in the number of homelessness services in Wollongong, saying the best services had secured funding under government reforms.
Her comments came as she toured Southern Youth and Family Services on Thursday.
The minister said the "Going Home Staying Home" reforms had boosted funding in the region.
"There's a 20 per cent increase in base funding, there's more money and more early intervention," she said.
Low-income families in Western Sydney and Melbourne's northern suburbs will suffer the most under new Federal Government budget measures, a study has found.
Low-to-middle income families could be worse off by more than $3,500 a year, the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) study found, while low income families with children could lose more than 6.5 per cent of their disposable income.
Welfare reform must help people with mental illness to find work
Patrick McClure, The Australian ($)
Mental health is intimately connected with being connected, including to the labour market.
However, people with mental ill health often miss out on suitable long-term work and are at risk of unemployment and social isolation, particularly those with depression and anxiety.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011-12), 62 per cent of working age Australians with mental health conditions were employed, compared with 80 per cent of those without a mental health condition.
The Reference Group on Welfare Reform sought the expertise of professors Pat McGorry and Ian Hickie, and visited the Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and Headspace programs in Melbourne. They showcase how suitable work has a positive influence on mental health, demonstrating the value of paid work is more than monetary.
NDIS coverage is unclear, says agency
Rick Morton, The Australian ($)
The number of people with severe and episodic mental health problems who could be captured by the National Disability Insurance Scheme remains unknown as the agency responsible for its design plots a course to include psychosocial disabilities.
Speaking for the first time about the work being done internally, the agency’s strategic adviser and mental health expert Eddie Bartnik told The Australian the modelling had “largely” been done using the numbers of persistently mentally ill people.
“One of the tricky bits is around people with episodic needs,” he said. “Some people have continuous requirements, where other people have periods of relative wellbeing and then being unwell every so often.
Concern NDIS not addressing enough mental health issues
Lily Partland, PM, ABC
The National Disability Insurance Scheme was hailed as a groundbreaking piece of social policy that would change the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in the community.
When "psycho-social disability" was later included in the scheme, the mental health sector celebrated.
But now those implementing the scheme at the launch site of Barwon in Victoria say it leaves a lot to be desired.
They want to know what's going to happen to those who don't qualify.
NDIS overlooks needs of carers, says report
Lisa Visentin, The Canberra Times
he National Disability Insurance Scheme needs to be amended to recognise the needs of carers, a new report has recommended.
Ageing parent carers are suffering from high degrees of stress and anxiety due to the uncertainty about the future care of their son or daughter after they die, Anglicare's Caring into Old Age report found.
The report, published on Monday, urges the government to amend the NDIS legislation to include a separate assessments for carers to determine the level of support carers need as they get older.
Government backs income management, despite evidence
Pas Forgione, Green Left
Last week the federal government released its first evaluation of how its controversial income management policy has fared in five locations where the scheme was introduced in July 2012.
This discriminatory government policy, which allows for Centrelink clients to have their payments quarantined and restricts how they can spend their money, has also been been explored in two recent government reports that have proposed extending the scheme.
A Greens MP has travelled to Dubbo to meet with indigenous representatives to plan a campaign against the rates of Aboriginal child removals in western New South Wales.
After claims of heavy-handed police tactics in some recent child removals, the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) agreed this week to set up an Indigenous liaison committee in the Hunter-New England District.
NSW - Lobbying effort for Aboriginal legal service
Fiona Halloran, ABC
An indigenous family violence prevention service that helps people in a region stretching from Cowra to Lake Cargelligo says its future remains under threat.
Under changes outlined in the federal budget, the Binaal Billa Family Violence Prevention Service is now administered along with 150 other programs by the Prime Minister and Cabinet under the new Indigenous Advancement Strategy.
Binaal Billa's co-ordinator, Michelle Kable, says the transfer means funding beyond next June is uncertain.
The operators of a new Aboriginal hostel in Derby say the facility will double as a support hub for clients.
MercyCare and Centacare Kimberley have been appointed to operate the Ashley Street facility, which opened its doors on Monday.
It can accommodate up to 54 people at a time.
School chaplaincy program: government stands firm on excluding welfare workers
Alexandra Smith, The Sydney Morning Herald
Schools in NSW will be given funding for chaplains but not qualified secular youth workers after the federal government refused to budge from its decision to pay only for religious chaplains.
The national school chaplaincy program will be rolled out across the country next year after all the states and territories agreed on Friday to implement it, despite a push from NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli for youth workers to be included in the funding package.
Midwinter 2013. James* and Brenda* were at The Atlantic in Melbourne to celebrate their third year of marriage. What started as a night of laughs and lighthearted banter, however, turned into a heated argument that nearly drove the couple to consider separation.
“Everything was going great — the food, the ambience,” James recounted. “That was until I mentioned how badly I want to have kids.”
James, then 33, is works for a non-profit organisation. Brenda, then 32, is starting to establish her name as an architect.
Charities can't cope with increasing demands, says report
Anna Patty, The Canberra Times
Charities are pessimistic they will be able to meet an expected growth in demand over the next 12 months, a new report reveals.
PricewaterhouseCoopers found 84 per cent of more than 300 chief executives it surveyed in the not-for-profit sector doubted they would have the necessary resources.
PwC partner Mark Reading said despite a 60 per cent increase in government funding over the past six years to $41 billion a year, 40 per cent of the sector believes social outcomes have deteriorated.
"These results make clear that the way government is currently funding charities isn't working," Mr Reading said. "Funding is currently awarded on an ad-hoc basis with no clear rationale."
Prevention better than cure, social cohesion is key
The Greens, media release
The Australian Greens are pushing for a comprehensive plan to strengthen Australian society and help make all Australians safer at home, announcing legislation to establish an independent national body to build social cohesion and prevent extremism. The Australian Centre for Social Cohesion (ACSC) would be tasked with overseeing the development and implementation of key preventative programs that combat social exclusion and stop young Australians from becoming radicalised.
"Prevention is much better than cure when it comes to keeping us all safe from risks associated with terrorism, Greens Leader Christine Milne said.
"Building a cohesive, tolerant and inclusive community in Australia should be the government's top priority to protect Australia's much loved multiculturalism.
Greens want to counter extremism among youth using outreach body
Daniel Hurst, The Guardian
Milne said young people who were feeling alienated might be attracted to “gangs, crime, jihadism or any number of behaviours which are highly destructive of them personally and also of our social fabric”.
“What we need is a centre that reaches out, works with the policing agencies, works with community leaders, works with government agencies to make sure that we identify young people who are feeling disengaged, feeling angry, who are vulnerable to anti-social behaviour of all kinds,” she said.
“It’s a centre for social cohesion: it applies across the board.”
Divisions on divorce run to the top at bishops’ summit
John L. Allen, Crux
Heading into an Oct. 5-19 Vatican summit of bishops to discuss the family, the single most controversial question was whether Catholics who divorce and remarry outside the Church ought to be allowed to receive Communion. Since the meeting reaches its halfway mark Sunday, it’s logical to wonder where things stand.
Alas, the answer is: We really don’t know.
Pope Francis' extraordinary outreach to bishops
Nicholas P Cafardi, Los Angeles Times
Speculation abounds about what earthshaking changes might come out of the Roman Catholic Church's Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family now underway in Rome: Will the bishops change the church's approach to divorced and remarried Catholics and somehow readmit them to Communion? Will they discuss the worldwide survey that found that most Catholics do not accept the church's ban on birth control, and if so, will they modify that ban? Will the bishops react to the impression that the church speaks in a way that is unnecessarily condemnatory of same-sex attraction and find a way to be more welcoming to our gay brothers and sisters?
In fact, those questions miss the point, at least for now. This meeting is preliminary. It only starts a process that is meant to continue through the Ordinary Synod of Bishops, scheduled for 2015. ("Synod" means "coming together" in Greek.)