Daily News - Thursday 5 June 2014

Posted 5 June 2014 6:59am
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Empathy doesn’t have to be intuitive to be real
Deborah Bowman, The Conversation (UK)

Empathy is having a moment. Author Roman Krznaric, founding faculty member of The School of Life in London, called for an empathy revolution, arguing that empathy is a transformative force. Organisations like Roots of Empathy run programmes in schools. And those seeking the neuro-scientific manifestations of empathy perform fMRI brain scans with all types of people ranging from troubled adolescents to humans responding to robots.

 

John Howard rebukes Tony Abbott over fairness
Michael Gordon, The Age

Former prime minister John Howard has delivered a guarded rebuke to Tony Abbott, saying today's politicians rely too heavily on slogans and declaring Australians will support change and reform so long as they are satisfied it is ''fundamentally fair''.

Describing politics today as less ideological than in his time, the country's second longest-serving prime minister has observed: ''We sometimes lose the capacity to argue the case - we think that it sufficient that we utter slogans.''

 

National Press Club: Bob Hawke and John Howard
ABC (video)

Australia's two longest-serving prime ministers, Bob Hawke and John Howard, reflect on life and politics in a special 50th anniversary National Press Club address.

 

Public has 'reality gap': Martin Parkinson
Heath Aston, The Age

Australians are suffering a ''reality gap'' over the state of the nation's finances, the head of Treasury, Martin Parkinson, has claimed.

Amid the ongoing backlash at the punitive first Abbott budget, Dr Parkinson highlighted what he believes is a failure by the ''political class'' to convince the community that the country's fiscal settings were unsustainable and spending would have to be cut.

 

Charities under pressure as pensioners feel the bite
Stuart Cumming, The Chronicle

Social welfare advocate Mark Copland is concerned about the effect cuts to pensioner concessions will have in the Toowoomba and Darling Downs region.

But he has also welcomed parts of yesterday's budget, particularly in relation to child protection funding and drought assistance.

The Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba Social Justice Commission executive officer said he worked closely with charities, including Lifeline, St Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army.

 

Stretched charity expects welfare demand will increase
Stuart Cumming, Sunshine Coast Daily

Combined federal and state welfare changes have a Darling Downs charity boss concerned that stretched relief agencies are in for an increased workload.

Lifeline Darling Downs CEO Derek Tuffield said a federal tightening of Family Tax Benefits A and B as well as the state's planned reduction of concessions would put more pressure on already busy crisis services.

 

Earn or Learn could drive South West youth to life of crime, "welfare pregnancies"
James Taylor, Bunbury Mail

South West youths could turn to a life of crime or “welfare pregnancies” if the federal budget’s Earn or Learn welfare crackdown is introduced.

The fears were raised by Salvation Army Bunbury Corps officer lieutenant Harriet Farquhar, who said the federal government did not have a good understanding of the problems faced by young people in the region.

 

Catholic groups keen to help mums
Kylie Stevens, Blacktown Sun

A vacant aged-care building at Marayong will be given a new lease of life for younger generations.

Holy Family Services and CatholicCare Social Services have signed an agreement to work together to provide support services, including a youth and pregnancy program.

 

BSL calls for youth pay subsidy
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

Leading charity the Brotherhood of St Laurence has called for a new youth wage subsidy program that prepares young people for work.

The charity says the program would be underpinned by strong partnerships with employers, and be responsive to local labour market needs.

It says it would operate at minimal cost to the budget by making better use of funding available through the vocational education and training system and redeploying resources from the national Job Services Australia network.

 

Q&A: @gavindufty on social policy change: “success is participation”
The Power to Persuade

Q: What would be your number one piece of advice for those interested in making policy change (whether inside government or out)?

A: Focus your energy on being engaged in processes, formal or informal, that promote a conversation around ideas. Through this process your policy ideas may have merit – they may be taken up, captured or owned by others. Success is participation, not necessarily the immediate outcome.

 

Welfare reform without the welfare sector
El Gibbs, The King's Tribune

The recent budget, and its vicious attack on the poor, may have repercussions the Government didn’t consider. Discounting the power, the reach and the respect the community sector has spent decades earning in Australian communities could be a costly mistake.

By ignoring the community sector before and after the budget, and hurting the people they care for, the Abbott government may have woken a sleeping giant.

 

Newstart jobless benefits started in 1991 and some Queenslanders have been pocketing it ever since
Christopher Gillett, The Courier Mail

Scores of Queenslanders have been on the dole for more than two decades, new figures reveal.

And a further 1800 men and women have received the benefit — designed as a safety net between jobs — for more than 10 years.

The Courier-Mail used Freedom of Information laws to reveal the state’s long-term unemployed.

Documents show 55 Queenslanders have been on Newstart unemployment allowance since it began in 1991.

 

Why do we hate the poor?
Amy Gray, The King's Tribune

The number of people living in or near poverty in Australia is increasing, how do the rest of us react when we come up against this in the people we know?

According to the OECD, 14.4 per cent of Australians live in poverty. It’s up around 2% from previous reports and higher than the OECD average of 11.3%. But these are just numbers and numbers don’t describe the full complexities of a situation.

So here’s some more numbers: it’s Sunday and I’ve just checked my wallet – there’s 87 dollars there. There’s 47 cents in my bank account. Rent’s due in 8 days, my child needs meals for the week ahead and I’m wondering which will be cut off first – the gas or the phone.

 

NZ - Benefit of the doubt - Profile of Social Development Minister Paula Bennett
Nikki MacDonald, stuff.co.uk (2013)

Much has been made of Bennett's progression: from rebellious teen mum, existing on the Domestic Purposes Benefit in tiny Kinloch, just out of Taupo, climbs out of benefit-dependence by working as a dishwasher, becomes activities co-ordinator at an Auckland rest home and eventually enrols in a social work degree (later social policy) at the Massey Albany campus being built across the road from her workplace.

But critics argue Bennett has used the benefit to better herself and pulled the ladder up behind her, with October's reforms of the $22m-a-day welfare system. The changes force sole parents on the DPB back into work when their youngest child turns 5. Those who have another child while on the DPB must look for part-time work as soon as the new baby turns 1.

 

Textor and Anderson – on poverty tourism, dysfunction and the lucky country
Bob Gosford, Crikey

On Monday this week Mark Textor asked in this piece in the Fin Rev whether John Pilger’s Utopian tour of outback poverty has allowed us to all-too-readily wallow in La-Z-Boy‎-recumbent horror at the — apparently — Hobbesian life of remote Aboriginal people.

Textor questions the opportunity cost of Pilger’s shouty fly-in fly-out fixation on the horror stories of contemporary indigenous life rather than a more constructive approach to the ‘history and current diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture’ and the ‘enormous contributions that these cultures have made to this country’s art, culture, politics, education, the custody of land, and the defence of the nation.’

 

Vatican perspective on Australia's refugee brutality
Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street

Very few Vatican documents on world events are exciting. Most are broad, stress continuities, offer a detached, almost bloodless, view of the state of the world and give the Catholic Church a central and serene role in it. But these qualities can be helpful when local response to these events is febrile and anxious.

So the Vatican guidelines on ministry to forcibly displaced persons provide a helpful mirror to reflect the public Australian response to asylum seekers. It offers a long view of Catholic reflection on refugees and a broad perspective on the human reality of having to seek protection.

 

It's time Parliament had a say on 'disgraceful' PNG solution
Frank Brennan, Eureka Street

If the Executive government wants to conduct on Manus Island and Nauru long term detention and resettlement with no option of settlement in Australia rather than short term processing with an option of settlement in Australia, they should seek parliamentary approval. If we are to maintain an arrangement which is 'morally unacceptable and shames our country', we should at least do it with parliamentary approval.

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