Daily News - Monday 27 October 2014
We remove kids from abuse and neglect, but are they better off in the long run?
Maria Harries, The Conversation
Most people reasonably assume there is evidence of good long-term outcomes for children who come into contact with child protection systems. Why else would we intervene in the lives of children and their families, and spend many billions of dollars, if not to ensure children are better off when we assist them?
Unfortunately, we don’t know.
The childcare rebate could be means-tested for the first time, if the government adopts a recommendation from a review into the sector.
The means testing would only apply to households earning 150 thousand dollars or more, but Labor says it would amount to another broken promise.
Scramble for welfare funding spurs call for cuts rollover
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)
The Abbott government has been forced to extend the current funding arrangements for more than 5000 welfare charities for an extra two months as it tries to respond to scores of applications.
The Australian Council of Social Service is concerned that two months is still not enough because organisations may be forced to lay off staff.
A Senate estimates committee in Canberra was told last week that the Social Services Department received 5572 applications from welfare groups, seeking $3.9 billion over four years, when there was just $800 million available after cuts to the budget.
Minister Kevin Andrews ready to extend age limit in DSP crackdown
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)
Tough rules that target people under 35 on the Disability Support Pension will be extended to older people on the payment in the first tranche of reforms to the welfare system to be rolled out in next year’s May budget.
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews told The Australian he would receive the McClure welfare review’s final report by Christmas, and then embark on a “phased” reform process, with an extension of the crackdown on the DSP to older people on the payment the most immediate priority.
More people with disabilities leaving public service than joining
Ben Westcott, The Sydney Morning Herald
People with disabilities left the workforce four times faster than they were hired in the past year leading concerned disability advocates to call for reforms to federal government hiring procedures.
In the past year, 535 people with disabilities left the public service, 46.4 per cent of whom were retrenched, compared with only 119 engagements in the same group.
Public service workers with a disability were more likely to be made redundant than their coworkers and half as likely to leave of their own accord.
Combating (genuine) poverty need not punish 'the rich'
Matthew Taylor, Centre for Independent Studies
This focus on relative poverty as a metric for measuring the effectiveness of Australian social policy conflates income inequality with the material deprivation that most Australians associate with 'living in poverty'.
The other consequence of the income inequality/anti-poverty rhetoric of the left is to shift the focus away from those who are living in genuine poverty to the incomes of those they deem to be "the rich". Redistribution of income alone tells us nothing about the effectiveness of programs that aim to improve the lives of the disadvantaged.
Marcia Langton warns of remote ice crisis
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)
Remote indigenous communities are in the grip of a drugs crisis, Marcia Langton has warned, as she called for radical action to limit cash in vulnerable regions before another generation of young people is lost to addiction and entrenched unemployment.
The indigenous leader said the nation risked trapping Aborigines in a permanent underclass unless communities were empowered to “opt in” to radical reforms put forward by Andrew Forrest, including a cashless welfare card run by banks that would prevent benefits money being spent on drugs or gambling.
Surveillance helps protect city from ice
Lydia Roberts and Samantha-Jo Harris, The Armidale Express
Centacare New England-North West principal psychologist Josie Hofman said the ready availability of the drug meant it had long overtaken speed as the stimulant of choice for users in Tamworth.
The Government has warned Labor cannot be trusted on border protection, after the Opposition admitted it might continue turning back asylum seeker boats if it wins the next election.
Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles has told Sky News Labor's two main concerns are the safety of those at sea and Australia's relationship with Indonesia.
What’s wrong with the impact agenda?
James Rees, The Power to Persuade
In the previous blog post I alluded to the push in recent years to convince organisations in the ‘third sector’ to do better at demonstrating their impact. This has reflected a well-meaning and perfectly understandable sense that if only they could do a better job of identifying, recording and proving their efficacy in achieving socially desirable outcomes, they would be better placed to compete with other providers for government contracts, as well as in the more general ‘marketplace’ for funding from traditional funders (e.g. foundations), philanthropists, and increasingly perhaps, social investors.
Australia’s two-year-old charities regulator is busy building the nation’s first not-for-profits database with an axe over its head. Commissioner Susan Pascoe talks to The Mandarin.
Reform the Federation to give all states 'a fair go': PM
James Massola, The Sydney Morning Herald
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has issued a call to arms to state premiers to participate in a grown-up debate about reforming the Federation, the funding of health systems and the tax system in a Sir Henry Parkes commemorative address to be delivered on Saturday.
... The Prime Minister's speech foreshadows the breadth and scope of the coming Federation white paper, and a separate taxation white paper, while explaining the evolution of his thinking on federalism from his days as health minister in the Howard government through to his 2009 book, Battlelines.
'Bring it on' - Newman welcomes PM federation reform talk
Amy Remeikis, The Sydney Morning Herald
Premier Campbell Newman is picking up what Prime Minister Tony Abbott is putting down about reforming the federation.
Mr Abbott has issued a call to the premiers to have "a rational discussion about who does what" in a precursor to the federation white-paper process.
Mr Newman has long called for reform on how the Commonwealth funds the states, especially when it comes to education and health, which are run by the states but reliant on changing funding mechanisms from the federal government.
PM's Sir Henry Parkes Oration
Tony Abbott, speech
Collectively, the Australian states currently spend about $230 billion a year but raise only about $130 billion from their own taxes; of the rest, about $54 billion comes from the GST, a tax that the Commonwealth collects but the states spend; and a further $46 billion comes directly from the Commonwealth under specific purpose payments or national partnership agreements.
The Commonwealth, for obvious reasons, is focussed on expenditure restraint so that taxes can come down and the economy can grow; the states, for their part, know that their various services have to keep up with greater demand and better technology.
Can a more rational and better managed system be devised; or is change more trouble than it’s worth?
Is it inevitable that Commonwealth spending restraint will produce more user-pays arrangements in state institutions?
Or, preferring a reorganisation between governments to a fight with the public, can the Commonwealth and the states better align their revenue with their spending?
Rebalancing government in Australia to save our federation
Terry Moran, The Conversation
Central to this new practice of government is the idea of subsidiarity or devolution. Central governments should perform only those tasks that cannot be more effectively performed at an intermediate or more local level.
In operation, subsidiarity suggests that we should operate systems with associated political accountability through levels of government where the expertise lies. If state governments operate schools, for example, they should have the revenue to do that, without confusing the public through multiple levels of accountability. It also suggests that in the human capital area, the Commonwealth should confine itself to high-level regulation, the payment of benefits (such as pensions) and the publication of data on performance (such as My School).
And the 2014 Synod Oscar goes to ...
John L Allen, Crux
... it’s time to award the Oscars for the 2014 synod, recognizing the best performances from two weeks that shook the Catholic world. As with the real Oscars, the big awards here come in five categories. Unlike the Oscars, there’s no academy to thank in acceptance speeches, since these prizes were determined by a jury of one … i.e., me.
If the international community is serious about eradicating extreme poverty then it cannot rely on “one-size-fits-all solutions”. Moreover, it’s not just a question of “increasing the amount of money a day a person lives on”. In the long term it's a question of eradicating inequality.