Daily News - Tuesday 30 September 2014
The tough fight for jobs is not getting easier – and a turnaround is unlikely
Greg Jericho, The Guardian
The most recent unemployment figures offered hope that the economy had turned a corner. However, the latest release of job vacancy data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests that the labour market remains weak and unemployment is likely to remain around or above 6% for months to come.
Christopher Pyne denies 12 per cent youth unemployment is a 'crisis'
Jane Lee, Sydney Morning Herald
Education Minister Christopher Pyne denies that youth unemployment - about 12 per cent on average - has reached a "crisis" point.
Mr Pyne, who appeared on ABC's Q&A program on Monday night, was asked repeatedly by panel and audience members about youth unemployment rates and how they were linked to problems in the public education system.
A bipartisan parliamentary report has found the Federal Government will breach its international obligations if it goes ahead with its budget proposal to force young jobseekers to wait six months for unemployment benefits.
The tough welfare measure is due to be debated in Parliament this week and the Government is negotiating with crossbench senators to get the bill passed.
As the peak body for non-profit and charitable organisations who deliver employment services under existing Job Services Australia contracts, we write to express our gravest concerns about reforms affecting unemployed people under the age of 30.
If enacted, proposed changes to welfare entitlements will mean that income support will be removed altogether for around 100,000 people under the age of 30 for six months. At the same time, changes to employment services contracts will require providers to impose and enforce participation obligations on this same group of people, despite the fact that they will not have any income.
These measures are ill conceived. They will cause harm to individuals, harm to communities and will ultimately impose greater costs on the Federal Government. They represent a radical departure from previous policies, which have evolved over more than half a century, and it is impossible in such circumstances to predict all of the unintended adverse consequences that will flow from these changes.
Family First senator Bob Day has offered the government a compromise on welfare measures affecting families and unemployed youth.
He's also reached out to his fellow crossbenchers, imploring them not to deal themselves out of negotiations.
Legislation on a raft of changes to welfare measures announced in the May budget is scheduled to be debated in the Senate for the first time on Tuesday.
... The following day I visited another organisation, Eagles RAPs in Doonside—a fantastic group of dedicated people who, incidentally, also source Youth Connections funding through Marist Youth Care's grant. Eagles RAPs offers an education platform to young people who have had problems adapting to traditional schooling or who are battling their own personal circumstances such as misdemeanours or a difficult family life.
Now an organisation that delivers hope to others is running out of hope for itself, because the Abbott government has cut $800,000 of Youth Connections grant funding to Marist Youth Care, which also uses Eagles RAPs. In fact, Eagles RAPs is staring closure in the face after 20 years of operation. The area that I am proud to represent does not hold a monopoly on youth unemployment, crime or hard luck stories—not by any stretch—but we do have more than our fair share, and organisations like Marist Youth Care and Eagles RAPs give greater value for money than the funds they secure from the government. But the Abbott government thinks it is clever to slash their funding and tear away at the sections of society that need help the most, as evidenced in the bold letters contained within the budget.
Welfare system central to toddler Chloe’s death
David Penberthy, Sunday Herald Sun
Ashlee Polkinghorne is the pin-up girl for everything which is wrong with the welfare system in this country. There are plenty of people who need welfare for a short time due to job loss, illness, a couple of bad choices.
For those people we need a safety net, for sure, and I am happy to pay for it through my taxes.
But Polkinghorne ticks every box of the welfare-abusing stereotype and as taxpayers we have every right to ask whether we are funding a lifestyle where individuals choose to stay on drugs, waste their money on smokes and booze and show no interest in the children they have been blessed with.
UK - Public attitudes towards poverty
Suzanne Hall, Katrina Leary and Helen Greevy, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
The word ‘poverty’ itself is problematic, even among those who think that it is an issue that needs addressing. The word is emotive and, for most, conjures images of those living in absolute poverty in developing countries: it does not speak to them of what they believe the situation in the UK to be. Because of this, when they hear the word ‘poverty’ applied to UK residents, they tend to assume that the problems are being overstated as a means of getting their attention. This makes people suspicious about what they’re being told and causes them to disengage.
The language used in current political debates about poverty does little to capture the public’s attention or convince them that this is a cause they should get behind.
Cost of love: will subsidising couples counselling actually work?
Kim Halford, The Conversation
Social services minister Kevin Andrews claims his A$20 million Stronger Relationships Trial will save the government money in the long run by reducing family breakdown. But will it work?
The trial, which began on July 1, provides a $200 subsidy per couple for up to 100,000 couples to access counselling or education. Its stated aim is to strengthen committed couple relationships by making relationship counselling and education easier to access.
But factors such as financial stress, the extent of unhappiness and the low quality of many counselling services all come into play when considering whether counselling will be effective.
If I Did Premarital Counseling, My Marriage May Have Survived
Jovanka Ciares, Huffington Post
I was never a typical bride: never cared for a big wedding affair, an outrageously expensive dress or a gigantic ring. In fact, the joke between my then-husband and I was that I would have preferred a new computer to an engagement ring!
On the other hand, our relationship was typical in many ways: we laughed a lot, loved a lot and fought just the average amount. We had no more or less problems than any other couple out there; our relationship was based on friendship, respect and mutual admiration. It was a good marriage... until it wasn't.
Split couples in housing bind
Katherine Fleming, The West Australian
Hundreds of separated WA couples have to live together because Perth's high rents mean neither can afford to move out.
Data released to The West Australian show about 280 couples classified as "separated but living under the same roof" sought Citizens Advice Bureau WA mediation in 2013-14.
Protecting the right to drink trumps the safety of Indigenous women in the NT
Nova Peris, The Guardian
Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles once described alcohol in the NT as “a core social value”.
The protection of this so-called core social value trumps the protection of women and children. Every night the emergency departments of hospitals in the NT overflow with the battered and bloodied bodies of Aboriginal women. The ones who make it to hospital are the lucky ones.
Child abuse allegations in Northern Territory jump 30pc, royal commission told
Xavier La Canna, ABC
There has been an almost 30 per cent jump in the annual number of child protection reports in the Northern Territory, a royal commission in Darwin has heard.
The large increase in the number of allegations of child abuse in the jurisdiction has shocked local authorities, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was told.
Law offers better care for abused children, given enough support
Sarah Wise, The Conversation (via: @CentrecareCEO)
Children who have been taken into state care need timely decisions on whether to separate them from their birth families. Delayed decisions means leaving children who have suffered abuse and neglect in a limbo of changing care placements. Children experience the double jeopardy of maltreatment before entering care and upheavals in relationships and disruptions in medical care and schooling afterwards.
Society says freak show must go on
Michael Mullins, Eureka Street
It is a regrettable reality of human nature that witnessing the suffering and anguish of particular individuals can be a source of entertainment for the rest of us. Making fun of mental illness has a long history that unfortunately continues to the present day.
This was highlighted in the past week in the reporting of plans of the Royal Agricultural Society of WA to offer an amusement at this year’s Perth Royal Show based on the notorious Bethlem Sanatorium in London, commonly known as Bedlam.
Parent warns private providers not ready for disability scheme changes
Ben Westcott, The Sydney Morning Herald
A Canberra carer says private providers are not prepared enough to take over the ACT government's early intervention programs for children with disabilities in January.
In April, the ACT government announced it would be withdrawing from early intervention programs in Canberra at the end of 2014 as part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, leaving some parents concerned that children with disabilities could be left in limbo.
Abandon all hope the doubly persecuted people who enter by boat
Kerry Murphy, The Conversation
Whenever an immigration minister states that new laws will “restore integrity” to the immigration program it is clear what they mean is we have new ways of refusing cases and punishing the bad refugees who came the wrong way. Such is clear from reading the 118-page Bill that reintroduces the flawed Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) among other unjustifiable changes.
It is one of three Bills that make major changes to the process for assessing refugee cases, as well as adding some shock and awe to the already puritanical character provisions. This amounts to over 250 pages of changes to laws. The explanatory memorandums run to nearly 400 pages.
Cambodia Cash for Corruption Refugee Deal: The $40 000/person ‘solution’
Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce
The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce calls on the Prime Minister to explain how he will ensure that Australian taxpayer dollars do not end up in the bank accounts of corrupt Cambodian Government Ministers.
The Taskforce Chief, Ms Misha Coleman, said today “ I support the assertion made by the Cambodian Opposition Leader today – Sam Rainsy – that the $40 million being paid to the Cambodia Government will end up in the pockets of the senior Ministers who have done this secret deal with Australia, not for the resettlement of refugees nor for aid projects.”
A UNHCR report released on Friday shows that the number of people seeking refugee status in industrialized countries continued to climb in the first half of 2014, driven by the wars in Syria and Iraq as well as conflict and instability in countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea.
UNHCR's new "Asylum Trends" report, which is based on data received from 44 governments in Europe, North America and parts of the Asia-Pacific, says 330,700 people asked for refugee status in these 44 countries between the start of January and the end of June. The figure marks a rise of 24 per cent from the same period a year earlier, and slightly higher than in the second half of last year (328,100 claims).
The report warned that, based on historical trends showing higher numbers of asylum-seekers in the second half of each year, 2014 could produce as many as 700,000 claims – which would make it the highest level in industrialized countries in 20 years and a level not seen since the 1990s conflict in former Yugoslavia.
... it has been in successive governments' interests to maintain voters' perception that asylum seekers, and particularly those of the Muslim faith, are a "threat" to our nation's security and "our way of life". A para-military edifice has been constructed around Australia's border "protection" regime to simultaneously heighten our anxiety about apparent hordes of maybe-terrorists lingering off our northern shores, while giving assurance that Operation Sovereign Borders will protect us from those same barbarians.
It's the classic political sleight of hand: create a problem and then provide the solution in order to look like a hero.
This tactic has inflicted a high price in terms of Australia's social cohesion. The irresponsible branding of asylum seekers as potential jihadists has so infected our collective psyche that we now feel threatened by the mere presence of Middle Eastern men or Islamic accoutrements like the Burqa.
Harper Review needs to consider the consumer experience of competition
Gerard Brody, The Power to Persuade
‘Choice is a powerful dynamic force for improving our lives’ says the Harper Review’s draft report into Competition Policy in Australia, and it is hard to argue otherwise—providing choice recognises our individual freedom. In this light, economist Ian Harper’s thrust of expanding competition principles in the interests of the consumer should be welcomed.
But, in considering consumer welfare in many of our modern markets which were opened up following the previous Hilmer Inquiry into competition, consumers might be forgiven for thinking there is too often an illusion of choice, an illusion that actually limits our freedom.
Public service mutuals an option to outsource human services
Cassandra Wilkinson, The Australian
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has been quietly proposing a radical approach to outsourcing public sector services. Perhaps because the minister is more often associated with saving modern marriage than saving the surplus, his recent announcements about public sector mutuals haven’t been given as much attention as they deserve.
NSW leads on evidence-based approach
Cassandra Wilkinson, The Mandarin
The NSW government has put the infrastructure in place to drive more evidence-based policy initiatives. There’s a long way to go, and other states need to catch up.
The new head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet in New South Wales, Blair Comley, has both big challenges and some terrific largely underutilised resources in his central agencies. Running contrary to a lot of misapprehensions about bean-counters, the most interesting work to improve evidence-based public policy is being done in Treasury.
US - Letting Investors Take a Shot at Curing Social Ills
John C Williams, The Wall Street Journal
What if there were a way to solve the country's most intractable social problems—homelessness, crime or inequities in education, for example—without putting taxpayer money at risk? There might be.
Rather than paying upfront for social services, a number of states and local governments are testing initiatives that pay upon completion, based on results. No success, no payday. This "social impact bond" financing, or SIB, is a new approach to contracting that allows government, businesses, nonprofits and investors to find solutions to some of the country's most deeply rooted social ills.
Community legal centres challenged to weather the storm of funding cuts and advocacy restrictions
Carolyn Bond, The Power to Persuade (via: @GoodAdvocacy)
Community legal centres (CLCs) already struggling to meet demand for free legal help now have to contend with significant funding cuts through the May Federal Budget as well as new restrictions on law reform and policy advocacy.
The changes mean that “law reform” and “legal policy” activities are no longer part of Commonwealth Government funded CLC services. The Federal Government also removed an undertaking in the previous funding agreement that the agreement doesn’t limit the centres’ rights to enter public debate or criticise government.