Daily News - Tuesday 4 November 2014
Developing a culture of evaluation and research
Jacqueline Stewart, Child Family Community Australia, AIFS
An organisation with a culture of evaluation and research is one that is committed to using research and evaluation findings to inform its decisions. With such a culture, organisational efforts to build effective evaluation and research activities are strengthened. This paper aims to provide practical information on the structures, practices and actions that support a change toward a strong culture of evaluation and research.
Work for the dole returns with Youth Futures providing accredited skills
Rick Morton, The Australian ($)
Work or the dole is risen. Almost. At the least, it is in the process of being revived by the federal Coalition after a period of Labor government that effectively put the program in stasis.
There are some tweaks, here and there, but the project — and the spectre of its design — remains largely untouched. Few can agree on whether work for the dole 2.0 is Frankenstein’s monster or a useful artefact.
... Australian Council of Social Service senior adviser Peter Davidson, who formerly worked for the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of NSW, wrote the most comprehensive analysis of — mostly departmental — evaluations of work for the dole.
The paper, published in the OECD Social, Employment and Migration working papers series at the end of 2012, finds little to crow about.
“The weight of evidence from Australian and international evaluations shows that work-for-benefits programs may temporarily reduce reliance on income support among people referred to the program — the so-called ‘threat effect’ — but actual participation in these programs has little or no impact on their employment prospects,” Davidson says.
UK - DWP orders man to work without pay for company that let him go
Shiv Malik, The Guardian
A man who was laid off at the end of his temporary job has been ordered by the Department for Work and Pensions to work for the same company for six months without pay.
Unemployed electronics specialist, John McArthur, 59, says he is living off 16p tins of spaghetti and has been without heating, after being sanctioned by the jobcentre when he refused to work without pay for Scottish social enterprise, LAMH Recycle in Motherwell.
While he says he was happy to work for LAMH under the now-defunct future jobs fund for the minimum wage between late 2010 and 2011, he now refuses on principle to do the same job without any pay.
Jobseeker Bill Passed
Xavier Smerdon, Pro Bono News
The Labor Party has accused the Abbott Government of a “disgraceful display of arrogance” after a Bill that could see jobseekers penalised for missing appointments with employment providers was easily passed through the lower house.
Shadow Minister for Regional Development Julie Collins said the Opposition forced the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Job Seeker Compliance Framework) Bill into being referred to a Senate Committee after the Government did not allow Labor’s foreshadowed amendments to be debated in the House of Representatives.
“Welfare dependency is a serious impediment to communities engaging in their own development,” says Liz Mackinlay, director of World Vision’s Australia Program. “Communities need to be empowered to make the choices themselves about how to tackle welfare dependency, and that is a significant element of the development approach that World Vision is advocating for.”
Smith Family’s truancy ‘solution’ in remote Aboriginal communities
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)
The Smith Family has sent the Abbott government a proposal to roll out to 10 new Aboriginal communities an innovative program it says is beating truancy and keeps 86 per cent of Aboriginal kids in school where it already exists.
Through the existing Learning for Life program, donors sponsor disadvantaged Australian children, providing them with access to financial support to cover education expenses and access to outside of school hours learning and mentoring programs including homework clubs and reading programs. They also sponsor a frontline worker to help the student/family overcome obstacles that might interfere with the child completing their schooling.
No indigenous ice epidemic yet, but it’s sure to arrive eventually
Ernest Hunter, The Australian ($)
In my experience as a psychiatrist working in Aboriginal communities in Cape York, amphetamine use is uncommon, and though alcohol is prohibited in most of those communities it still ranks as the major proximate cause of misery and malaise, with cannabis not far behind.
Unfortunately, ice has too much going for it. With well-developed distribution networks in rural Australia, it is relatively cheap, easily transported and can be cut to provide profit as it passes each set of hands. It’s easily used, highly addictive and, despite its well understood and devastating physical, mental health and social problems, it’s on the way.
... The damage unleashed by amphetamines will relate more to the social setting than the substance, and that setting remains much the same as the one that enabled those other epidemics to spiral out of control.
Those advocating national policies and programs across indigenous affairs — welfare reform, education, employment — are trying to transform that setting.
However, as Nicolas Rothwell notes in surveying that policy landscape over the past decade (“A decade after ATSIC was axed, Aborigines still have little to say”, Inquirer, September 27-28), there is an obvious conflict between “broadacre” approaches that adhere control to central authorities, and the capacity for communities to develop localised solutions — assuming more responsibility and control (about which there is much rhetoric).
There is no easy answer and it is unlikely that what proves to be an effective balance in Cape York will be the same as in Fitzroy Crossing.
Cash ‘currency of alcohol and drug trade’
Paige Taylor, The Australian ($)
It doesn’t get much more remote than the Ngaanyatjarra lands in Western Australia’s deep inland, yet peddlers of illicit drugs even have customers there now, says Aboriginal leader Bruce Smith.
Mr Smith, 55, said “everyone knows” young people are injecting drugs in some of the 12 remote communities dotted across the 250,000sq km of ranges and desert that he oversees as chairman of Ngaanyatjarra Council. Gesturing to the crease of his inner arm and making an injecting motion with his hand, Mr Smith said: “The young ones are waiting for this. They are waiting for the dealers to come from town.”
... Yesterday, mining billionaire Andrew Forrest said Mr Smith needed to be listened to, and that his comments about the extraordinary reach of the hard-drug trade was more reason to heed his calls for cashless welfare for the most vulnerable.
Mr Forrest will today invite working Australians to try living without cash this month as part of the campaign he says is motivated by a determination to remove “the currency of the illicit drug trade”.
No Cash November
In support of the Creating Parity Review recommendation that vulnerable Australian welfare recipients receive payments through a non-cash Healthy Welfare Card, GenerationOne CEO, Jeremy Donovan invites you to join him living a cash free life this November.
Indigenous Australians and the National Disability Insurance Scheme
N. Biddle, F. Al-Yaman, M. Gourley, M. Gray, J. R. Bray, B. Brady, L. A. Pham, E. Williams, M. Montaigne, CAEPR
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is one of the major policy innovations of the early 21st century in Australia, representing a new way of delivering services to people with a disability and those who care for them. It has the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, giving them greater certainty and control over their lives. There is a higher incidence of disability in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population than in the Australian population more generally, so the NDIS is of particular relevance to Indigenous Australians. However, Indigenous Australians with a disability have a very distinct age, geographic and health profile, which differs from that of the equivalent non-Indigenous population. Furthermore, the conceptualisation of disability and care in many Indigenous communities, particularly in remote areas, may differ markedly in comparison to more settled parts of the country, and there is the added complexity of a unique history of interaction with government. In considering these issues in detail, this Research Monograph provides a resource for policy makers, researchers and service providers who are working in this important policy area. Its major conclusion is that the NDIS, if it is to be an effective policy for Indigenous Australians, needs to take into account their very particular needs and aspirations.
Disability groups go to UN over Australia’s forced sterilisation practice
Bridie Jabour, The Guardian
The forced sterilisation of people with disability and the nonconsensual genital “normalisation” of intersex babies and children in Australia are being brought to the United Nations torture committee.
People With Disability Australia (PWDA) are campaigning for a royal commission into the incidence, forms and circumstances of exploitation, violence and abuse of people with a disability in the community in Australia. A 52-page submission to the UN details legislative failures in Australia which it says make forms of torture legal.
NDIS Workforce Initiative
Pro Bono News
A program that will teach disability service providers how to deal with workforce changes created by the National Disability Insurance Scheme has been launched in Western Australia.
The National Disability Services (NDS) announced recently that the National Disability Workforce (Disability WIN) had commenced in Australia’s largest state.
“Funded by the Australian Government Department of Industry to run until May 2016, Disability WIN will build providers' knowledge of workforce planning and capability to respond to workforce challenges under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS),” a statement from NDS said.
Caring for ex-prisoners under the NDIS would save money and lives
Kate van Dooren, The Conversation
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) promises to deliver better support to the one in five Australians living with a disability. But what about those inside prison or who have just left prison? Will the NDIS look after them too, or keep pushing them through the cracks?
In our paper, published online at the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, we examined the social circumstances and substance use of 115 prisoners with intellectual disabilities who were about to be released from Queensland prisons.
‘Mental illness will not control my life’
Warick Daily News
For three years Warwick woman Corina Graham merely - and just barely - existed.
Hidden behind the four walls of her bedroom, she ventured from the prison her mental illness constructed for two reasons; to visit the doctor or alcohol.
Self-medicating to drown the demons of abuse that had tortured her from childhood, drinking was her only defence against the post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, agoraphobia and bi-polar that made her life a nightmare.
Police examine National Rental Affordability Scheme ‘fraud’
Rick Wallace, The Australian ($)
Commonwealth auditors are expected to join police in probing allegations of fraud involving the National Rental Affordability Scheme, over a case that has allegedly left charities and a developer hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Victoria Police has confirmed it is looking into claims that a NSW-based property company defrauded organisations in Victoria by selling them NRAS incentives that proved worthless.
Cautionary Note to Developers, Investors and Charitable Organisations
Department of Social Services
Be extremely careful before agreeing to pay any funds in respect of a transaction involving an allocated or reserved incentive under the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).
The Department has recently become aware that dwellings are being marketed in circumstances where the dwellings may be falsely represented as having NRAS incentives attached. Falsified documentation may be provided to support such claims.
In addition, the Department is concerned that people may be offering to get an NRAS incentive attached to your dwelling. It should be noted in this regard that in almost all circumstances, the capacity to transfer a reserved incentive to a new dwelling will be ceased from Tuesday 23 December 2014.
Centacare Ballarat says housing scheme ‘open to rorting’
William Vallely, The Courier
A local welfare organisation involved in the government housing scheme under police investigation for alleged fraud says the program was “open to rorting”.
Centacare Ballarat successfully built 39 units with incentives from the New South Wales-based property-broker accused of extortion under the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), but Centacare chief executive David Beaver said the system was poorly designed.
Nanny rebates aren't about helping the rich
Trisha Jha, Centre for Independent Studies
The Productivity Commission's draft report on childcare policy, due for release later this month, is expected to recommend extending government fee assistance to nannies and means-testing existing subsidies.
The fact is that there's a crisis in childcare. While families are experiencing incredibly high costs, the sheer lack of childcare places in many areas is at the crux of the issue. The proposal to extend fee subsidies to nannies is a way of trying to alleviate some of the burden on families caused by a lack of supply in the rest of the system.
We Are All Confident Idiots
David Dunning, Pacific Standard
The trouble with ignorance is that it feels so much like expertise. A leading researcher on the psychology of human wrongness sets us straight.
... In 1999, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, my then graduate student Justin Kruger and I published a paper that documented how, in many areas of life, incompetent people do not recognize—scratch that, cannot recognize—just how incompetent they are, a phenomenon that has come to be known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. Logic itself almost demands this lack of self-insight: For poor performers to recognize their ineptitude would require them to possess the very expertise they lack.
US - Is Social Psychology Biased Against Conservatives?
Maria Konnikova, The New Yorker
On January 27, 2011, from a stage in the middle of the San Antonio Convention Center, Jonathan Haidt addressed the participants of the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. The topic was an ambitious one: a vision for social psychology in the year 2020. Haidt began by reviewing the field that he is best known for, moral psychology. Then he threw a curveball. He would, he told the gathering of about a thousand social-psychology professors, students, and post-docs, like some audience participation. By a show of hands, how would those present describe their political orientation? First came the liberals: a “sea of hands,” comprising about eighty per cent of the room, Haidt later recalled. Next, the centrists or moderates. Twenty hands. Next, the libertarians. Twelve hands. And last, the conservatives. Three hands.
The Australia Institute is out to get Christine Milne. That's a fool's strategy
Tim Hollo, The Guardian
The Australia Institute has long played an important role in our national political debate, pushing the boundaries of discussion into new territory and taking on sacred cows. Recently, it has contributed valuably to the fossil fuel divestment push started by 350.org, and continued its excellent work highlighting the stark difference between how the mining industry is portrayed and what it actually contributes.
That’s why serious questions need to be asked about its current political strategy. Why has it allowed the personal animosity that Richard Denniss and Ben Oquist hold towards Christine Milne to take the Australia Institute into dangerous territory, attacking the Greens and shackling itself to an unpredictable, populist coal mining billionaire?
The Australian Christian Lobby will not go away
John Warhurst, Eureka Street
The recent national conference of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) raises broader political questions. The event was held in Canberra and featured Opposition Leader Bill Shorten as keynote speaker.
The ACL will not go away. Despite serious academic criticism from Professor Rodney Smith of the University of Sydney questioning its claims to political influence, it is now established in the top echelon of lobbying groups.
After a turbulent synod, Francis will wade back into family debates
Inés San Martín, Crux
Less than a month after the end of a turbulent Synod of Bishops on the Family, Pope Francis will head back to the Vatican’s synod hall on Nov. 17 to revisit the controversies raised by that summit from the perspective of how men and women relate to one another.
The key idea of the three-day meeting is “complementarity,” meaning that men and women have distinct roles which complement one another in the family, in married life, and in the Church itself.