Daily News - Tuesday 6 January 2015
Counting the costs of caregiving: is there a better way forward?
Leah Ruppanner and Georgiana Bostean, The Conversation
In Australia, the question of how to provide care for ageing family members is largely an individual one. Most care is provided by family members. In 2012, 2.7 million Australians were providing some type of informal (unpaid) family caregiving. Some are “sandwiched”, caring for children and older adults simultaneously. Yet caregiving is not shouldered equally by the entire population: women and minorities are much more likely to provide care.
Those with disabilities themselves are also more likely to be primary dependent carers in Australia. These families are shouldering a high level of carework.
NDIS could have done more
Peter Bisset, Newcastle Herald
I was 12 years old and the only thing I understood about having cerebral palsy was that I could not walk, I talked a little different and kids asked their embarrassed parents why that boy was in a wheelchair? I had no idea about different models of disability or that I could and would be treated differently from my peers.
I went to a private Christian school in Sydney's Sutherland Shire where I was the only kid in a wheelchair and saw it as no big deal.
All that was about to change ...
Scott Morrison needs to realise the Disability Support Pension actually saves money and lives
El Gibbs, Sydney Morning Herald (24 December)
Scott Morrison, the new Minister for Social Security says that "getting as many Australians as are able off welfare and into work will be one of my core goals."
Given both his track record of harsh penalties for those seeking asylum, and the Abbott government's existing welfare review, the new year for many people with disabilities is looking grim.
Funding Cuts Closes Disability Orgs
Pro Bono News
Peak disability support organisations have been forced to either close their doors or reduce services and retrench staff thanks to Federal Government funding cuts.
CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO), Matthew Wright, said 10 peak organisations run by people with disability will be left with no choice but to either close their doors or reduce services, with seven organisations subject to drastic funding cuts by outgoing Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews.
Fears specific disability expertise could be lost after funding cuts
Jonathan Green, Radio National Breakfast (audio)
A raft of disability advocacy organisations discovered just before Christmas that they would no longer receive government funding.
Many of these organisations were peak bodies specific to a single disability, such as Deaf Australia and Blind Citizens Australia.
There are now concerns that specific expertise about particular disabilities will be lost, as staff become retrenched from the peak bodies that have been defunded.
Australia's largest community housing provider says the federal government's $21 million cut to its homelessness budget will only worsen the crisis in the Hunter region.
Newcastle-based Compass Housing Services says the cuts will directly affect advocacy groups that advise and critique the government's policies.
It says cutting funding to advocacy groups is effectively silencing the voice of the Hunter region's most vulnerable people.
Federal Government funding cuts to batter help for homeless
Luke Mortimer, The Northern Star
The Northern Rivers peak homelessness body says Federal Government funding cuts will widen the "massive gap" in responses to homelessness in regional NSW.
Tony Davies, the chief executive of Northern Rivers Social Development Council, was just one of many not-for-profit workers who received an email detailing the cuts, apparently bought on by the poor Mid-Year Economic Fiscal Outlook.
Bushfire response: disaster spending faces overhaul amid calls for climate action
Daniel Hurst, The Guardian
The federal government has signalled it wants to reduce spending on natural disaster recovery and shift its focus to reducing the risks before an event strikes.
The Greens renewed their calls for the government to take strong action against climate change while fire crews worked to contain blazes in South Australia and Victoria on Sunday.
The justice minister, Michael Keenan, did not directly respond to the climate change criticism, but said the government would speak to state and territory leaders about shifting spending from post-disaster support to upfront mitigation activities.
In recent years, Victoria’s ‘tough on crime’ approach has led to higher imprisonment rates, longer sentences, overcrowded prisons and growing prison expenditure. Meanwhile the community is not becoming any safer. Crime rates have not fallen and recidivism rates remain high, with people reoffending and returning to prison repeatedly.
The Victorian Ombudsman’s investigation into the rehabilitation and reintegration of Victorian prisoners (and subsequent Ombudsman’s discussion paper) was prompted by this growth in prisoner numbers, concern about the high rate of reoffending and the cost to the Victorian community. The investigation aims to ensure prisoner sentences include appropriate rehabilitation and post-release support to help prevent further reoffending.
Unemployment is a necessary evil?
Michael Janda, The Drum
The fact we have an economy that relies on about one in 20 of us being unemployed to remain stable suggests we haven't yet reached the pinnacle of economic organisation, writes Michael Janda.
UK - The realities of living on welfare are significantly different from government and media characterisations
Ruth Patrick, British Politics and Policy, LSE
2014 has been a year in which ‘welfare’, welfare reform, and critical analyses of the lives of those who rely on benefits for most or all of their income have consistently demanded media, political and public attention in the UK. Whether it’s the explosion of what some describe as ‘Poverty Porn’, debates over the merits of the latest proposals to finally ‘cure’ ‘welfare dependency’, or, most recently, discussions about explanations for the growing demand for food banks, ‘welfare’ has consistently been big news. In the popular media and political discussions which accompany these debates, there is often an emphasis on ideas of benefits as a ‘lifestyle choice’ and characterisations of benefits reliance as an inactive and inherently negative state.
US - A longtime proponent of marriage wants to reassess the institution’s future
Brigid Schulte, The Washington Post
In the turbulent culture wars over sex, love, poverty and the future of the American family, Isabel V. Sawhill, a blunt, influential and formidable voice, has long come down squarely on the side of marriage.
Though she is a Democrat and a former Clinton administration official, Sawhill’s staunch defense of marriage has often put the economist at odds with some thinkers on the left who have dismissed the institution as an oppressive vestige of patriarchy.
It’s Easy to Make People Help Others
Nathan Collins, Pacific Standard
It’s not so hard to get people, even children as young as four, to help each other out a little bit. The trick, according to a study out today, is to make them feel like they’re part of a low social-status group.
Psychologists have known for a few years now that individuals of lower socioeconomic status tend to empathize more with others, be less individualistic, and, according to a 2010 study, give more of their income to other people and institutions in their communities.
Poor people could be compensated if GST base broadened, says Liberal MP
Daniel Hurst, The Guardian
A Liberal MP calling for the goods and services tax (GST) base to be broadened has argued the impacts on poor people could be addressed through a targeted compensation package.
Dan Tehan, the member for Wannon in Victoria, said tax reform was crucial “to maintain our standard of living” and the currently exempt products and services – such as education, health and fresh food – should be subject to the 10% GST.
Business and ACOSS call for detailed debate on tax changes, not just GST
Naomi Woodley, AM, ABC
In the wake of new calls to broaden the base of the Goods and Services Tax, both business and social service groups say there must be a genuine, and comprehensive look at Australia's whole tax regime.
But that's largely where their agreement ends.
Overloading welfare state leaves children to pay
Greg Lindsay, Australian Financial Review
As 2014 ended, many of us felt as though public life had short-changed us. Not in a monetary sense specifically, though I will come to that. It would seem that with few exceptions, electoral politics had become incapable of satisfying the multiple demands placed on it, and the reason is quite simple: it can’t.
No matter where in the world you look, Europe, North America and Japan in particular, though we are not exempt, countries are having to come to grips with the fact that the social democratic welfare state idea that dominated the past century or so has become unsustainable.
Issues Paper 3 – Roles and Responsibilities in Health
Reform of the Federation White Paper
Because of its complexity, mental health is a compelling example of the challenges associated with assigning roles and responsibilities in Australia’s broader health care arrangements. There is in fact no such thing as a mental health ‘system’; instead, this ‘system’ is shorthand for the many systems and services consumers and carers may encounter. For the most part, these services and systems are poorly integrated, overseen by different parts of government, based on widely differing organising principles, and not working towards a common goal.
The Commonwealth and the States and Territories both have roles in policy, funding, and regulation in mental health. These roles have evolved in piecemeal fashion and have usually not been defined with respect to an overarching vision shared across governments and portfolios. It is therefore no surprise that consumers find the system enormously difficult to navigate.
Issues Paper 4 — Roles and Responsibilities in Education
Reform of the Federation White Paper
The state and territories’ VET systems interact with a range of other service systems, the majority of which are currently the primary responsibility of the Commonwealth (e.g.employment services, income support and welfare, and higher education). These systems are all linked by a common objective of supporting individuals to get employment, while using different approaches to achieving this. The employment services system connects people with jobs, and employers with employees. The VET and higher education systems provide individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to do jobs. The income support and welfare system provides individuals with financial support and other support services, including while they are searching for a job and undertaking some forms of training.
NSW ALP leader Luke Foley: warrior of the Left who's ready to take on Baird
Nicole Hasham, The Age
Known as a fierce, thoughtful intellect, Foley is an avid reader with a natural interest in policy matters, whom colleagues consider the party's standout performer in the upper house this term.
A committed Catholic, Mr Foley was elected to the NSW upper house in June 2010 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Ian Macdonald. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of NSW – the first generation of his family to gain a university education.
Mr Foley listed his priorities as job creation, investment in health and education and protection of the natural environment.
Foley is wrong man for NSW, says Mark Latham
Mark Latham, The Age
Foley's weakness is not in his party values, but in his policy beliefs. As a product of Labor's Left faction, he has been to hundreds of meetings where the poor deluded souls sit around praising industry intervention, corporate subsidies and anti-privatisation campaigns.
The success of Australia's economic liberalisation program in the 1980s and 90s, producing a quarter-of-a-century of continuous wealth and income creation, has had no impact on their world-view.
To listen to Foley, his leadership predecessor Robertson and the other dinosaurs of the NSW union movement, none of this economic progress is real. Tens of thousands of new double-storey homes, small businesses and cashed-up tradies in Western Sydney are simply a mirage.
Govt to tackle head-on claims it is unfair and say borrowing against our kids is the most unfair act of all
Latika Bourke, The Sydney Morning Herald
Former Howard government Minister Peter Reith has attacked Tony Abbott for "not lifting a finger" on industrial relations and job creation, as the federal government attempts to reset the economic debate about the fairness of its budget.
The Abbott government planned to meet head-on Labor's charge that its budget is unfair, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said, adding it was unfair to rob our children and grandchildren of their opportunities to pay for today's lifestyle.
But Mr Reith said unfair industrial relations laws were stopping young people from getting jobs and he criticised Prime Minister Tony Abbott for not doing anything to solve the problem.
Labor’s faux morality hides unfair burden
Angus Taylor, The Australian
The 2014 budget debate has been like no other because there has been no genuine debate. From the outset Labor has refused to engage in economic dialogue, instead invoking faux outrage and playing the morality card to great effect.
But the truth is morality — namely, addressing gross unfairness dealt to younger Australians — is entirely on the government’s side.
Abbott government spends up big on media monitoring
Bevan Shields, The Sydney Morning Herald
... the health, industry, education, employment, defence and foreign affairs departments shelled out more than $1.43 million on media monitoring between July and October. Media monitoring involves departments and often their ministers being provided with article clippings and TV reports. It can also include scanning social media.
The government's latest media monitoring deal came into force on New Year's Day - a $170,000, six-month contract to monitor news for the media-sensitive Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Labor spent $110,000 for the same thing but the-then Coalition opposition listed it as one of "50 examples of Labor waste and mismanagement under the Gillard government" in it's so-called Little book of big Labor waste.