Daily News - Monday 8 September 2014
Social infrastructure essential to development of Northern Australia, says report
Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia, Senate
Liveability—access to health services, social and community services,education, sports, culture and lifestyle—is not a luxury. It is a major determinant in where people choose to live and work and do business. It affects access to qualified staff in regional and remote communities. It also affects the ability of communities to retain the critical mass of population needed to sustain a range of services. Providing affordable and accessible social infrastructure is essential to the development of Northern Australia.
The Committee is of the view that the ‘hub-and-spoke’ model is the best means of delivering services and amenity to regional and remote communities.
Applicants to miss out as Coalition shifts posts on indigenous funding
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)
Tough new criteria governing the Abbott government’s radical indigenous funding model mean many applicants will miss out.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion will announce today that the first round of the $4.8 billion Indigenous Advancement Strategy will open for funding applications for six weeks.
Mining magnate and philanthropist Andrew Forrest is visiting Wilcannia in far-west New South Wales today, continuing consultations on his recently-released report into Indigenous disadvantage.
The Parity Report was handed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott last month and the government is seeking feedback from Indigenous communities.
Demand for simpler welfare ‘universal’, says review head Patrick McClure
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian
Welfare review head Patrick McClure has declared there is almost “universal” demand for the income-support system to be simplified and that, rather than making higher payments their top priority, recipients want better access to jobs and better rewards from work.
In his first public comments since completing his nationwide consultation, Mr McClure told The Weekend Australian that, while adequacy of payments was an issue, almost all recipients expressed “their key priority as help to get a stable job, get off the payment and be self-reliant”.
Proposed changes to the compliance framework defeated
Welfare Rights Centre, Welfare Writes
The government had proposed two measures to change the compliance and penalty system for job seekers receiving income support payments. Both measures have been defeated in the Senate.
On 28 August the Senate disallowed the Social Security (Reasonable Excuse – Participation Payment Obligations) (Employment) Determination 2014 (No. 1). This regulation was intended to limit the circumstances in which a job seeker could be found to have a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with a compulsory requirement such as attendance at an appointment (see the post here). On 3 September the Senate rejected the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Stronger Penalties for Serious Failures) Bill 2014. This bill was intended to change the law to limit waiver of eight week non-payment penalties (see the post here).
Possible deal on one month waiting period for under 30s
Matthew Butt, Welfare Writes
There are media reports that the government may be nearing a deal with the Palmer United Party to replace its proposed six month waiting period for job seekers under 30 with a one month waiting period.
While a one month waiting period is far preferable, the government’s proposal should be rejected in its entirety. New claimants are already subject to a one week waiting period (which the government is proposing to extend to more payments and make harder to waive in another budget measure) and an additional waiting period of up to 3 months if they have savings. There is no justification for imposing a further one month waiting period on top of this. When will this government learn that impoverishing young people actually reduces their ability to get a job.
Young ‘too fussy about job choice’
Olivia Lambert, The Border Mail
The Border’s young people are too choosy about their work choices, an Albury employment agency owner said yesterday.
And MP Personnel and Training’s James Smith said most jobless youth who visited the agency were unaware of what was required in the business world.
Anglican bishop voices his concerns including youth unemployment
Lisa Benoit, The Morning Bulletin
The new bishop sat down with The Morning Bulletin to talk about issues affecting the community and the message he wants to pass on.
With youth unemployment a big problem for Central Queenslanders, Bishop Robinson said it is an issue that needs to be addressed with more compassion.
"For young people to be unemployed for a long period of time is not good for them or their self esteem," he said.
"For future generations we have to look at ways to find meaningful employment. How we do that I'm not sure but perhaps a little less economic rationalism and a bit more compassion."
He'd been warning about it even before he stepped into the prime minister's shoes.
In 2011, and also 2013, he promised to quarantine welfare for under-30s in areas where work was available, as well as breathe new life into his signature Howard-era work-for-the-dole policy.
Federal welfare changes blamed for spike in suicides in Tasmania
Lauren Day, ABC
Proposed federal welfare changes had prompted a spike in suicides in Tasmania, according the state's Mental Health Council, while fears existed that homelessness would also rise.
The proposed changes would force jobseekers to apply for 40 jobs a month and would prevent unemployed people aged under 30 from accessing benefits for six months.
Smartphone app to help tackle indigenous youth suicide
Teagan West, Brisbane Times
Gatekeepers and a smartphone app are the keys to tackling Indigenous youth suicide according to Dr Maree Toombs, a University of Queensland School of Medicine researcher.
A project headed by Dr Toombs has just received more than $800,000 in funding from the Federal Government as a result of the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) Targeted Call for Research scheme which aim to stop the escalating rate of Indigenous youth suicide.
Budget changes will ensure pensions keep their value
Matthew Taylor, SBS
Last week representatives from 50 community organisations from all over Australia travelled to Canberra to call on MPs to put a stop to the government’s “harsh” budget measures, including the move to tie pension increases to prices rather than wages.
According to the community groups’ joint statement, this change to pension indexation will “erode the value of the payments over time” and cause pensioners to “fall behind community living standards.”
The claim that indexing pensions to price increases will erode their value over time is wrong. The claim that it will cause pensions to fall behind community living standards depends upon whether one accepts that the current pension indexation system represents these standards, which is far from obvious.
Rise of the online payday lenders
Tom Crowe, The Sydney Morning Herald
Payday loans, with their sky-high interest rates and almost immediate due dates, are migrating from pawn shops to the internet as younger consumers seek fast credit.
Industry experts say online short-term loans are booming as they attract wealthier customers than those who might visit a shopfront payday lender.
One lender said the online market could be worth more than $300 million. Traditional shopfront operator Cash Converters grew its online loans by 81 per cent last year to $48.7 million.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says his government will seriously consider any Productivity Commission recommendation to help more parents hire nannies.
A 50 per cent rebate is already available for family day care providers who look after children in the childcare worker's home, but the same worker employed in the family home is considered a nanny and therefore not eligible.
Mr Abbott says the Productivity Commission is considering subsidies for in-home care as part of its childcare inquiry.
More poor NSW families locked out of childcare
Kirsty Needham, Sydney Morning Herald
Soaring childcare costs and long waiting lists are locking out the poorest NSW families at a far higher rate than the rest of Australia.
Only 2 per cent of the poorest NSW families are using childcare to get mothers back into the workforce, compared to 22 per cent of the poorest households nationally, data has shown.
Private operators opening centres that target parents who can most afford to pay, not where there is greatest need, and long waiting lists are among the factors being blamed.
High school for homeless breaking the cycle of addiction and poverty
Amy McNeilage, Sydney Morning Herald
Concentrating on trigonometry can be a struggle for any teenager, let alone those with young children, drug addictions and no bed to go home to.
That is the type of immense adversity the students at Key College in Redfern commonly face.
But, against the odds, the small school for homeless young people has helped dozens complete year 10, with former students now working as teachers, mechanics, horticulturists and youth workers.
Anglicare WA report finds many believe most victims are to blame for domestic violence
Yasmine Phillips, Perth Now
Most West Australians mistakenly believe provocation causes domestic violence, a major new survey reveals.
The results worryingly indicate most people think victims are to blame. They also highlighted poor understanding of the triggers and warning signs.
More than 900 people participated in the survey by Anglicare WA, which also found that one-third of respondents did not consider controlling behaviour, such as checking their partner’s phone or computer, to be a form of domestic violence.
Of “significant concern” was that just 13 per cent identified a need for power and control as a cause of family and domestic violence.
Tony Abbott’s taxpayer-funded sex lessons for intimacy starved lovers as part of government’s relationship counselling scheme
Samantha Maiden, The Sunday Telegraph
Sex essons to “build intimacy” are being offered under Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s taxpayer-funded relationship counselling scheme.
Relationships Australia has confirmed it is running group session on “sex and desire’’ under the scheme which helps couples build intimacy in the pursuit of learning how to politely ask for more action in the bedroom.
School welfare officers face cuts if federal government changes go ahead
Nicole Cairns, Ballarat Courier
Schools are bracing themselves to lose their welfare officers, if proposed federal government changes go ahead.
Catholic organisation Centacare employs 15 welfare workers deployed to schools in the diocese, 12 of which are in Ballarat.
Ballarat Centacare manager family relations Jacinta Cook said it had opted for welfare workers in schools in place of religious chaplains.
"I can't believe welfare in schools is being cut," Ms Cook said.
“We didn’t go down the chaplaincy path as schools indicated what they required was welfare focused staff, able to manage the myriad of issues children and families face."
Black Dog Institute rejects dollars for chaplains proposal
Primrose Riordan, Sydney Morning Herald
The Black Dog Institute and mental health academics have come out against the federal government's religious-only school chaplain proposal, saying it lacks evidence compared to existing programs.
Cairns mega casino gamble
Cathy Van Extel, Background Briefing, ABC
The Queensland government has plans to turn the state into an Asian gambling hotspot.
The Newman government has three new casino licences up for offer in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Cairns.
... Centacare Cairns Executive Director Helga Biro, however, fears the casino resort could be a double- edged sword.
‘I’m not sure the economic benefit is going to outweigh the potential social disadvantage that a casino could bring,’ she says.
The push for a ‘third way’: mutuals, co-operatives win favour
David Donaldson & Stephen Easton, The Mandarin
Australia should heed the European trend of using mutuals and co-operatives to deliver services traditionally provided by government in areas such as disability, employment, housing, aged care and healthcare services, a new business-backed report argues. And the federal government has immediately signed up to the idea.
Wellbeing on the slide since Abbott was elected
Matt Wade, Sydney Morning Herald
Australia's collective wellbeing has taken a backward step since the Coalition won office a year ago as national income declined, growth in our shared knowledge stalled and long-term unemployment rose.
The Fairfax-Lateral Economics wellbeing index, which puts a dollar figure on national wellbeing, fell by $2 billion in the June quarter and is $10.5 billion lower than a year earlier.
Liberalism is alive, and it's killing us. Why post-liberalism is the answer
Nick Dyrenfurth, WA Today
In creating a society built upon abstract rights and freedoms, we have lost sight of what really matters. Too much of our economic debate occurs in a moral vacuum. For example, productivity is talked about as an end in of itself. There was something nihilistic about the manner in which the Abbott government effectively killed off the nation's car manufacturing industry – as if we could not afford to consider the impact on individuals, families and communities of mass job losses and the flow-on effect to the wider economy.
Are We Prepared to Bear the Moral Paradox of Evil?
James Dawes, ABC Religion & Ethics
There is an unavoidable paradox involved in representing atrocity.
To stop people from being injured, we have to tell the story of what is happening; but in telling the story, we can injure people in unexpected ways. We hope to shame perpetrators into moral obedience, but sometimes incite them to further violence. We hope to elicit compassion from spectators, but sometimes further their desensitization or even generate disgust. We hope to give therapeutic voice to survivors, but sometimes retraumatize them. We hope to turn distant strangers into vivid, intimately felt persons, but sometimes only trap them in the abstract, two-dimensional identity of "victim."