Daily News - Wednesday 27 August 2014

Posted 27 August 2014 8:02am
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More than 100 community groups want Government to reconsider 'harsh' budget cuts
Emma Griffiths, ABC

Federal MPs are set to face renewed calls to dump contentious budget cuts to social security measures as community sector leaders converge on Parliament House in Canberra today.

 

Community groups in Canberra demanding halt to harmful Budget measures
ACOSS, media release

The Australian Council of Social Service is leading a large delegation of community sector representatives to Canberra on Wednesday, to call on their elected representatives to reject harmful social security changes in this year's Budget.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie will be joined by representatives from community welfare agencies as well as people directly affected by Budget changes, to highlight the impact of proposals, including:

  • removing income support for six months of the year for young people looking for work;
  • the transfer of 22-24 year olds from the Newstart payment to the lower Youth Allowance;
  • reducing indexation of pension payments;
  • reducing assistance to low income families, including sole parent families, through changes to family payments.

 

How can organisations show leadership in tackling youth unemployment?
Bill Harley, Centre for Workplace Leadership

Perhaps the years of the mining boom have made Australians complacent, but it seems that many are unaware of the extent of unemployment in Australia, which is likely to increase as the boom dissipates and spending shrinks.Youth unemployment is a particular concern. According to figures released this week, Victoria’s youth unemployment has hit a 15-year high, with outer suburban Melbourne and regional areas particularly affected.

We cannot afford to be complacent about this. The prospect of thousands of young Australians facing years of unemployment raises serious concerns about our social and economic future. A tightening of eligibility for social security payments seems likely only to exacerbate the problem in a situation where job opportunities are limited and many young Australians appear not to have the skills or experience that they need to break into paid employment. It appears that many young unemployed people are applying for job after job, but being turned down due to lack of skills and experience.

 

Financial abuse poorly understood but rife
Miki Perkins, The Age

Financial abuse is used to cause long-term hardship and psychological distress to women and children who have left abusive relationships, with many facing legal and monetary battles for years after separation.

Although legally recognised as a form of family violence, financial abuse is not generally well understood or recognised, even by those who have experienced it, according to a new report from Women's Information Referral and Exchange (WIRE).

 

This is what financial abuse looks like
Jenna Price, Daily Life

They were married on a beach in front of 60 friends. Neither of them had a job but they knew, they just knew, love would find a way without money.

She was just 29 and suddenly, she was pregnant with the first of two gorgeous daughters. The next one came along 15 months later.

He changed. There seemed to be a big disconnect from their real lives and his imagined life. He was spending a lot of money and she was anxious, always anxious that they should live within their means.

 

Protection of children must be colourblind
Nyunggai Warren Mundine, The Australian

I recently read a report ­detailing profiles on troubled ­families. The stories have common themes: a history of abuse; teenage pregnancies; violent relationships; long-term unemployment; constantly shifting family units with networks of half and step-siblings, absent fathers, children in and out of care, grandparents raising children; truancy; drug and alcohol abuse; criminal activities; child behavioural problems; anti-social behaviour. The problems are intergenerational, children repeating the patterns of their parents. Problems persist ­despite there being plenty of ­services to help them.

These families are not indigenous. They’re not even Australian. They’re British families profiled in a 2012 report, Listening to Troubled Families, by Louise Casey. She heads the country’s Troubled Families program that aims to turn around 120,000 families by 2015 with another 400,000 ­earmarked.

 

FIFO solution to shortage of child protection workers in remote lands
Sarah Martin, The Australian

Child protection workers for South Australia’s remote Aboriginal lands will be employed under a fly-in, fly-out model in a bid to address chronic staff shortages.

The shift to Adelaide-based workers for the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands comes as the government abandons attempts to fill up to 11 Coober Pedy-based positions that have been plagued by long-term vacancies.

 

We have no idea how the other half lives
Ross Gittins, The Age

When politicians say things such as that the poor don't buy petrol, it's easy to accuse them of being "out of touch". Actually, all politicians face that accusation before they're through. It's one of our favourite things to say about pollies we disapprove of.

But let's turn it around: exactly how in touch are you and I? Much less than we imagine. We know a lot about our own circumstances and those of our friends and neighbours, but are surprisingly deficient in our understanding of people outside our circle.

 

Homes that enable the disabled
Andrew McQueen, Eureka Street

The ABC's new reality TV series, The Dreamhouse, premiered earlier this month. I was curled up on my couch, watching with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Excitement because we were finally going to see the portrayal of people with intellectual disabilities on primetime television. Apprehension because we were finally going to see the portrayal of people with intellectual disabilities on primetime television. I didn't know whether the topic would be handled with respect and sensitivity.

 

More affordable housing needed to help the vulnerable
City of Sydney, media release

The City of Sydney’s winter street count found 296 people sleeping rough– lower than the 346 during the most recent count, but an increase in rough sleepers on last winter.

As rain fell across the city on 12 August, 27 City staff, 140 volunteers and 18 advisers walked the city’s streets and parks between 1am and 3am to determine the number of people sleeping rough.

 

Sunbury mother’s mission to warm Melbourne’s homeless takes off
Barry Kennedy, Sunbury Leader

A Sunbury mother will give dozens of jumpers, coats and blankets to homeless people in the city this Saturday.

Sherrie Deppeler who experienced homelessness herself as a teenager has joined her friend Craig Holloway in the informal campaign.

Mr Holloway, from Warrigal is the brother of murdered homeless man Morgan Wayne Perry who was found stabbed under a city bridge in January.

 

US - Homelessness and the Impossibility of a Good Night's Sleep
Hanna Brooks Olsen, The Atlantic

“Joe,” a man who has been homeless several times, knows how difficult it can be to get enough sleep without permanent housing.

“Where and how you sleep is often a matter of discipline when residentially challenged,” said Joe, who recently moved to Seattle from the Bay Area. “If you're sleeping in a car or RV, shelter or friend's couch, you have the issue of finding a place to sleep and being up and about before the rest of the world is. Usually in a shelter, you have to be up and out by a certain time. If [you’re sleeping in] a vehicle, you have to have it moved by a certain time. If you're working you have to find ways to make the job fit your situation or vice versa. You're on others’ schedules. And this is where sleep deprivation hits the hardest. It adds up.”

 

How Cities Use Design to Drive Homeless People Away
Robert Rosenberger, The Atlantic

Earlier this month, someone tweeted a picture of a series of metal spikes built into the ground outside a London apartment building.

The spikes were intended to discourage homeless people from sleeping in the area, and their presence sparked a public outcry. London’s mayor called the spikes “ugly, self defeating & stupid,” and the mayor of Montreal called similar spikes in his own city “unacceptable!!!!” Protesters poured concrete over a set of spikes outside of a Tesco supermarket. Then, after a petition was signed by nearly 130,000 people, the spikes were removed from the London apartment building, the Tesco, and downtown Montreal.

 

Metaphors Like ‘Clean’ and ‘Dirty’ Can Undermine Addiction Recovery
Melissa Dahl, New York Magazine

Think of the words and phrases we use to describe drug and alcohol addiction: “clean and sober,” “addicts,” “junkies.” It’s a vocabulary loaded with moralistic connotations. This isn’t good, argue the authors of a new editorial in the journal Substance Abuse, because the use of those terms can inadvertently lay the blame solely on the behavior of the person with the drug or alcohol addiction. And when people struggling with addiction internalize that attitude, it can undermine recovery.

 

Confronting Inadvertent Stigma and Pejorative Language in Addiction Scholarship
Substance Abuse, editorial

Disability and mental health advocates have been pioneers in promoting “people-first language” to promote respect for the worth and dignity of all persons. People-first language literally puts the words referring to the individual before words describing his/her behaviors or conditions. This practice helps highlight the fact that an individual's condition, illness, or behavior is “only one aspect of who the person is, not the defining characteristic.” In the realm of addiction, terms such as “alcoholics,” “addicts,” and even the more generic “users” are terms that group, characterize, and label people by their illness, and in so doing, linguistically erase individual differences in experience. To a large extent, these terms also presume a homogeneity in experience, character, and motivation that depersonalizes the people to whom the terms are applied. Instead, referring to the person first, e.g., “person with a cocaine use disorder,” “adolescent with an addiction,” or “individuals engaged in risky use of substances,” reinforces the affected individual's identity as a person first and foremost.

 

Stigma makes disease worse
Patrick O'Callahan, philly.com

One day, when I was in the fifth grade, my mother - a decorous Irish Catholic - drew clown lips around her mouth with lipstick, took off her clothes, and wandered gibbering through the house. She smashed eggs on the kitchen floor, dumped flour and sugar on the goo, and splashed the counters with ketchup. My father came home, wrapped a coat around her, and bundled her off in the station wagon.

I didn't see her again for a month. I knew then why she'd vanished and reappeared before without explanation. We didn't speak of it, even within the family. It was a matter of shame.

 

The shame of child poverty in NZ
Michael Botur,

Children Commissioner Russell Wills said his office had guidelines for running school breakfast programmes. There's no doubt minds need food, but creating a "Poor Kids Breakfast Club," as Dr Wills called it, can do harm. "They can create dependency and stigma. We need to design programmes so that neither of those outcomes occurs."

 

Bring Back The Welfare Stigma
Daniel Payne, The Federalist

Not to tread too heavily on too many sensitive progressive ideals, but there should be a stigma surrounding government dependency; that’s not to say we should adopt a campaign of aggressive public shaming for anyone who goes on the dole, only that we shouldn’t create an atmosphere—especially amongst children—in which “free lunch” is a no-big-deal kind of thing.

 

Step by step, conservatives forces move to silence NGOs' voices
Joan Staples, The Conversation

The federal Liberal Party, government ministers, Coalition MPs, the Minerals Council of Australia and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) are targeting the advocacy role of Australia’s environmental NGOs. In particular, they are trying to silence debate on climate change. The attacks are significant, they appear to be concerted and they are intimidating.

Under the Howard government, a ten-year campaign of attacks tried to “silence” non-government organisations. An IPA and government narrative sought to change Australia’s long-held idea of democracy – one in which many voices join in public debate. Instead, they spoke of democracy as a market in which NGOs “interfered”.

 

Community organising aims to win back civil society’s rightful place
Amanda Tattersall, The Conversation

In the wake of the Second World War, Karl Polanyi wrote that the public arena is made up of three interconnected sectors: the market, government and civil society. He argued that democracy thrives when these three are in balance.

If only that were the case today. Since the late 1980s, the global influence of the market sector has increased and, at the same time, civil society has decreased.

... Community organising borrows from traditions as diverse as Catholic social teaching, the Jewish self-help tradition and union action. The alliance’s extensive community organising training uses texts as diverse as the Bible and Greek philosophy, then mixes those traditions with the experiences of social coalitions like Sydney’s Green Bans movement and modern-day heros like Gandhi.

 

Reasserting the public interest from Australians' kitchen tables
Robert Douglas, The Conversation

Grassroots common sense and decency lie at the heart of two growing movements to reassert the voice of the people in the management of our local and national affairs. Kitchen table conversations and community organising could perhaps help to reinvigorate Australian democracy.

We need to ask: who speaks for the “public interest", shorthand for the welfare and wellbeing of the general public?

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